Thursday, April 7, 2016

"Where Can I Turn for Peace"

This is when I am grateful for the fact that no one is really reading the blog, so it gives me an opportunity to vent or to share ; )  As I have reflected on the talks from Conference along with the lessons we've been studying in Isaiah over the past few weeks, I am so grateful to know the answer to the question "Where Can I Turn for Peace"? Right now life feels a little overwhelming.

I hate watching my children struggle and would give anything if I could be the one with the struggles they are having.  It has been a little over 4 years since Heidi had her first surgery--a surgery that I wasn't terribly fearful of.  I felt like it would be a fix.  Yeah, I knew there'd be a couple of surgeries to eventually reverse the colostomy, but I had no idea the incredible ordeal it would be for her.

I still will never forget the day I went to see her in the hospital and she was grey and actually looked like she was on death's door, and I felt like she was.  That was truly the first time I was afraid.

And here we are again.  I marvel at her strength, her faith, and her trust in the Lord through everything.  Yes, there have been days when she has called to tell me she couldn't do it anymore, and I have had had to plead for the words to help her, for the scriptures to suggest.  And then when I would hang up the phone find myself without any strength at all.

This morning I was reading Isaiah 46:4, "...I have made, and I will bear, even I will carry, and I will deliver you."  I take great solace in those words.  As well, the words to the hymn "Where Can I Turn for Peace"--"He answers privately, reaches my reaching   In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.  Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.  Constant he is and kind.  Love without end."

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Upcoming General Conference

General Conference began last Saturday night with the General Women's Broadcast (which I definitely loved).   The talks were amazing--loved the focus on serving.  Allan (who watched the broadcast on the computer) and I talked about Sister Esplin's story about the mirror and the frame--what a great visual!!! I love Sister Marriott and her sweet little southern drawl--always takes me back to our year in Charlotte, NC.  The story of Aunt Carol was beautiful.  Sister Burton said a couple of things that stood out to me--first, that "as sisters we make up more than half of the Lord's storehouse to help Heavenly Father's children".  And then she talked about helping those around us, and that as we consider those who need our help, we need to ask ourselves, "What if their story were my story?” I keep thinking about that--I have been so blessed.  I was talking with a dear friend the other night who was such a help when I joined the Church--who, along with several other women, took me under their wing and helped me.  What if I hadn't had that--how grateful I am that I did, and I need to make sure others have that same encouragement.   I think when President Eyring spoke about our need to be "personally modest about our good works" and how we should not "expect a public memorial" when we serve.   He used the story of the woman who anoints the Savior and the story is mentioned in Mark and yet we do not know her name.  (Facebook, blogs, etc., sometimes make it a little difficult to do that, but we need to be sure we do all that we do because we love Him)

I am thoroughly looking forward to the sessions this Saturday and Sunday.  I love hearing our leaders speak, especially the prophets and apostles.   We have talked a great deal about different prophets during the last few months of Seminary--and currently are in Isaiah.

I think of one of the stories from Exodus 32 after Moses went up on Mt. Sinai and had a conversation with the Lord about the children of Israel--who were not being exactly obedient.  I think of Moses, the Prophet, who was told by the Lord to chastise in a very severe manner the children of Israel.  (In my little mind, I imagine him thinking, "you want me to tell them what???"--I doubt he did that, but it seemed like a tough thing)  I think of the difficult job our Prophet today has.   He is not telling us things he thinks we need to hear, but as the Lord's chosen mouthpiece, he is telling us things the Lord wants us to hear and do.  We need to have ears to hear and then "hearken"!!!

I am grateful to be able to listen and listen again and again to Conference.  I like to try to summarize the talks using Elder Packer's "Therefore what?" idea.  "Therefore what", does this have to do with me; what do I need to learn; what do I need to do; how can this help me be better, do better, understand better.  I also have a few questions I am trying to understand and challenges, and so I will go with those questions in my heart.

Enjoy Conference!!!!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Grey skies are gonna clear up...


Or so I keep telling myself!!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hawaii Feb-March 2016


I laugh when I look at the title--it's not like we were there for weeks ; )  But I'm not complaining 10 days is better than NOTHING!!!!

Our flight over was pretty miserable.  We left very early in the morning, and had to make stops in Calgary and Vancouver!  By the time we landed at Kahului, got our bags, rental car and got to the Condo, we had been up for 24 hours, and I felt like it!  (I sure miss the days when I would get on the plane and fall asleep while we were sitting on the tarmac!

The condo we stayed at was beautiful.  We had been at the Whaler before.  This unit was on the 12th floor and had a lovely view.

The weather was perfect--quite different than our freezing temps in Winnipeg.  I had done a pretty good job of packing, but I must admit I forgot one thing:  GAMES!!!!  I had Bananagrams sitting there and didn't throw it in my bag.  I had plenty of room for that!  We ended up going to the store and getting dominos and a couple of card games.  I also had "HeadsUp" which we played and was good for a laugh or two.  One major drawback was the amazing TV set-up they had--which was far too complicated for us.  I think the staff had to come up just about every day and solve a problem we had!!!

First place we went to was Costco and the grocery store.  We decided we'd eat most of our meals in our condo.  We had baked chicken a couple of times, Allan barbecued HUGE steaks, we had salad, and one night we had salmon.

We also hit the Chinese restaurant we had eaten at before.  We couldn't stop laughing after we placed our order because when we asked the waitress if steamed rice came with our meal she informed us, "You have plenty of food."  That did it WE WERE GOING TO SHOW HER AND EAT EVERY BITE!!!!

We did go out a couple of times.  A trip to Maui would not be complete without a trip to Swan Court--always delicious but I have to say not as good as I remember!

The ocean was a little rougher than I like.  It took me several days to venture out beyond my toes, and when my sister-in-law and I went out one day and I finally got beyond the waves I panicked and I knew I was going to drown.  Believe me, my heart was pounding and I was praying like crazy!!!!  Bev knew I was scared, but I appreciated her help.

Bev and Allan had such great memories of riding Mopeds when they went to Maui many years ago, so we decided to check it out.  My sister-in-law, Gerry, was pretty sure she could ride one (I was not so sure ; )  We found a place that rented them and even gave you a lesson to help you get started so Tuesday morning we headed out.  (After a great deal of talking, we convinced Gerry that having her try to ride was not good--keep in mind she has enough trouble getting into a chair.  I know Allan's big concern was that if she didn't have the strength to keep it up and she went down, how were we going to get her back up.)

We took our lesson and we'll just put it this way--BEV AND I WERE HORRIBLE!!!!  I just coudn't get the hang of making the turns.   I was pretty disappointed, but I do want to try again!

One day Allan and his sisters went to the Iao Needle.  I decided I needed to work on Seminary so I stayed at the condo.  They had a good time and I got some work done.

We spent a lot of time whale watching--I have never seen the whales so much as I did on this trip.  Finally on the last day we went out on a whale watching tour and it was fabulous.  So grateful I had brought my camera.  I wasn't going to bring it because it takes up a lot of room, but I am so glad I did!!!

  This was not on the tour but a shot from the condo.  I couldn't believe we could see these guys doing this all the time.

A favorite tale shot from the beach!

Love this one from the beach

And, you really have to look close to see this, but notice the turquoise water--that's the whale


And I love this bubble ring--I wish I could remember why they do it.  But they go under and blow these bubbles--pretty cool!!!


And, I am still shocked I got this shot.  My only wish was that the camera was a little further back!!!!

We went to Cheeseburger Paradise in Lahaina for dinner on Friday night.  Great memories from our trip in 2008.  Yes, I am sunburned!!!!


I was pretty exhausted when we finally got to Chicago--7 hour flight (would have been 8 but great winds got us there a little early ; )  I told Allan, "I am so tired if someone came up and offered me a free plane trip to go back, I WOULDN'T GO!!!!"

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Welcome 2016

This is way overdue, but I'm doing it for journaling purposes!!!

It was hard to get up on Christmas morning and basically load up the car and head down to Utah.  Kyle did get to open a couple of gifts at home.  Funniest was the pajamas I got him--I thought they were just regular pajamas, but they turned out to be Calgary Flames PJ's.  Too funny!  I also got him a Winnipeg Jet's scarf which I think he loved!

It's been a crazy few weeks--just wish I hadn't been so tired when we got to Utah.   I don't think I posted this pic of Allan and Kyle as we were heading out of Bozeman Saturday morning.  I love this picture!!!

Of course, I should really post the picture of the DELICIOUS meal we had in our hotel in Bozeman.    We gave our leftover turkey to the Sister missionaries--my original plan was to make turkey sandwiches for the road--oh well!!!!  Then I decided for fun I would pack canned stew--we have "great" memories of a Christmas dinner that consisted of canned stew over rice--so I packed a red tablecloth and two cans of stew, but the car was so full I didn't think the bag made it.  (Then when we got to my sister-in-laws on Saturday I found the bag ; (

Anyway, after we got to the movie theater and discovered our movie was sold out and the line at the concession stand was SO LONG, we decided to try to find some place open to get something to eat.  NOTHING!!!!  So our last resort was a gas station.  Allan has an iron stomach so he got this "yummy" ham sandwich, and Kyle and I got Lunchables!  

Our Christmas gathering was lots of fun.  I know I wrote about my big project but I wanted to write about how fun it was to be with the kids.  Whenever we are in Utah and get to be with them IT IS GREAT.    Goodness, I have such wonderful children.  It was great to have SO MUCH time with them.

Of course, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it if we had set up sleeping bags in the family room at my sister-in-laws and had them sleep there--we could have watched movies (or they could have and I could have slept, played lots of games and just visited.

I particularly had a great time with the littlest ones.  Even had a chance to take them shopping.  (Not something I get to do very often).  While we were at the Build a Bear Workshop Allan came in and said there was someone he wanted me to see--very surprise to see the Spencer's.  It was so fun to see them.

We even got to celebrate Lauren's birthday at Nickel City in Orem. (For some reason I kept thinking about Chucky Cheese--which made me think of Allan and my first date ; )  Lauren was pretty excited about all of her gifts.  She is such a cutie!!!

We also went to Salt Lake to see the lights at Temple Square--more beautiful than I remember.   I didn't know this, but I read it, that the Cedar of Lebanon tree is only lit every other year!!!  There were lots of different nativities--at least different than I remember.  I also loved the luminaries (which I don't remember--maybe we just hadn't gone that direction for a few years ; )

One of the things we did that was very different was we went to a place called "Get Out Games".  When Kyle first told me about it, I was pretty excited--I love doing something a little different!    We had one hour to try and work together to get ourselves out of this room.  We didn't make it in the hour!!!

As always the trip went by too quickly.  But at least I know I'll see them in April.

I was talking to a friend the ohter day about how hard it is for me to be away from the kids.  I feel like relationships are somewhat strained--a little weird!   And even though I assumed we'd be back in the U.S. by now, maybe it's best that we're not.  I have to admit absence definitely doesn't seem to make the heart grow fonder!!!

The Mission

We have been serving in the mission for 6 months.

I do have a file on my computer called, "The Canada Winnipeg Mission" where I write the things that we are doing in our service as missionaries.  (It kind of stinks that we are not writing weekly emails to our kids and grandkids (like we would if we were on a regular mission), but hey I talk to a few of them often enough they know what's happening ; )  But I figured I'd at least write some thoughts here so I don't forget what we've done or the experiences we've had.

I'll work my way backwards and talk about what we have done this month:

January 16-17:  Branch Conference Bergland

We left at 3:00 pm (or after) and stopped at our Hotel—"The WallaWalla"—and got to the Fireside about 7:02. (Of course, we all know how much Allan LOVES being late!   Didn’t have time to adjust my talk, since I think I needed to shorten it. (As Sister Craig and I were talking in the car, she mentioned that she thought we each had 10 minutes (well, Allan had told me, we each had 20--YIKES!!!  I was the first speaker so no real time to take out the pencil and do some revisions.  I really didn’t feel good about it, but IT’S DONE!!!!   I really wanted to stress the importance of our understanding who we are--yes, we all know but do we REALLY know!   Sister Craig did an amazing job talking about a couple of experiences—the first one she said, “not so good” when she didn’t recognize the hand of the Lord in her life and got a little upset, but everything worked out and she realized HE WAS THERE.  (And she stressed, he is always there!!!!)

Allan shared a lot of the talk from President and Sister Nelson at the recent CES broadcast.  GREAT job as always.

President was wonderful—he has such a great way about him.

We had lovely refreshments, including hot cider and hot chocolate after and it was fun visiting with the members.  It was a very cold night, and yet they were there.  Such an amazing thing to me that these people want to be there to hear what is said by their Mission President and his counsellor (and I guess their wives, too ; )

I will always remember Allan talking about how when he was on his mission and the Mission President had responsibility for the missionaries and all the members--no stakes in Kentucky, Tennessee or West Virginia back then!

Headed back to our hotel and went back across the border for McDonalds (because there was no place to eat in Bergland (at least no place that was open).   We just love being with the Craig's.  They are so fun.

Next morning--Happy Birthday to me,  part of our hotel stay included a continental breakfast--we got to choose an item on Saturday night to have in the morning.  Both Allan and I chose the Texas cinnamon roll--HORRIBLE  choice!  It was about the driest thing I have had.  We drove to Church.  We were early and no one was there--the little box out front didn't work so we had to wait in the car--very cold morning, but at least the car was warm.   They had a branch council and President Craig went over the Rescue Initiative and had 1 missionary from Warroad skyped on.

Sacrament meeting talks were very good.  President Larsen spoke and then President Olson basically bore his testimony and turned the time over to President Craig who talked on the Sabbath.  Great talk.
Allan taught Sunday School and embarrassed me by mentioning my birthday and everyone sang (not my favorite thing!  As always, he did an amazing job teaching about the vision of the tree of life.

Sister Smith, the District Relief Society President taught from the Howard W. Hunter manual.  Great, down to earth lesson.

A potluck after church and it was wonderful.  First order of business was for me to take a picture of the group.  Again--must work on my photography skills--especially with placing people!!!!  Sister Craig and I visited with members while Allan had some meetings after the pot-luck.

I should note here that we do not have any missionaries here in Bergland!

January 9 and 10th:  Drove out to Fort Frances.  Spoke at RS District Conference—Sister Smith had asked me to come and do a part on Visiting Teaching—I thought it was for all the sisters not just the Presidents!  Turned out okay.  Lots of people set in their ways, but tried to just bear testimony about the importance of inviting and loving the sisters.  We then had a lovely lunch--glad Allan could join us.  So fun to visit with the sisters in the District.  Sister Simpson (who was missionary in St. James) is now in Fort Frances--nice to see her) A pretty good turnout.

After lunch we had a little lesson on Emergency Preparedness.  After the District RS President had put together a craft for us to do--an emergency candle in a mason jar.  (Because Allan wanted to get to Dryden before dark, we left before I got to do the craft.  We took a different road to Dryden

--a little windy with no cell service, but there was no snow, and the road was fairly dry.  We knew the Gorham's were somewhere behind us, so if anything went wrong they would find us ; )

Another FUN hotel in Dryden.  Our weather has been so incredibly cold, but this little hotel had an elephant made out of towels.  Yeah, like that was going to fool me into thinking I was on a cruise.  Ha, ha, ha!!!   We had dinner in the restaurant of the hotel.  Not a bad meal.  A fairly good night sleep.

On Sunday, got to the Church at 9:35--Church didn't start until 10:30, so I had lots of time to sit there.  Elder === and --- shoveled the walks (one of them without gloves!!!!  I thought Church was good.  Sacrament Meeting Allan and President Olson spoke.  The talks were both good--I enjoyed it even more since I didn't have to speak!!!!  Sunday School Pres. McDonald taught and did the introduction to the Book of Mormon.  In RS Sister Gorham who is the RS President and one of the senior sisters, gave an amazing lesson.  It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear and a reminder to me that the Lord is mindful of my needs.

I worked on Seminary while Allan was involved in a sensitive meeting.  Gave me lots of time to work on Seminary.

They packed us a delicious bag lunch and we headed for home.  No wildlife to photograph ; (  Allan did hit a bird that splattered all over his side window--ick!!!!

January 6:  Dinner for the new missionaries and farewell for Elder Watters--the only missionary going home this transfer!  One of our favourite things to participate in is the dinner at the Mission Home when the new missionaries arrive.  I must be sure and hone my photography skills as the Craigs always want the pictures to post on FB for the families of the new missionaries.  I'm going to have to start making sure I get all of them in pictures at the tables.

It is so fun to hear them bear their testimony.  Some are so confident and some are scared to death.  It was fun because one of them (a sister who is a visa waiter) is a niece of some very good friends.  (We have several visa waiters!)

Sidenote #1:  1st Term of Seminary is over.  I am loving the Old Testament and learning lots.  Struggling to figure out whether to do all my scripture reading/marking on paper scriptures or digital???

Sidenote #2:   I have been crocheting in my spare time and loving it.  Hoping to get the two blankets done before the babies are here!

Sidenote #3:  We switched our temple weekend because we found there were lots of conflicts with work in the mission.  Sure am excited about going to Utah in April and being able to attend the new Provo City Center Temple.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Christmas Project


For journaling purposes and before the month and the year are over, I want to write a little about December.

I will begin with my Christmas Project, Heidi, Brent, and Kyle knew it as "the project" but didn't have a clue what it was.  When they would call and ask what I was doing it seemed like my answer was either "working on Seminary" or "working on the project".  Kyle couldn't wait to find out what the "project" was.  I don't think he was the least bit disappointed, and he was the one I thought would care the least--after all the memories were far more recent for him than any of the other kids, but I learned he didn't remember everything.

Let me explain.  Last January I had read about a woman who gave her Dad a gift--one sentence memories in a jar--a year's worth of memories they had made together.  Wow, would I have loved to have done that for my mom or dad.  I decided I wanted to do that for Allan and my kids and, of course, I had to take it to the next level.  I started writing out little thoughts for each of the kids--things I remembered.  Then I got on the computer and put them into a program called "Evernote" and built it from there.  Each kid had their own "notebook" and then each day had a memory for each one.  Now January 1 memory was not from January 1 of a different year--it was any day.  The only exceptions were their birthdays, Father's Day, Mother's Day (kind of), Grandma and Grandpa's birthdays; our anniversary, their anniversaries, their children's birthdays and their grandchildren's birthdays.

Stephen received his when I was in California at Thanksgiving.  I wanted to give it to the kids in person.  He loved it.   Of course, he is 45 and I have been with him from day 1 until he got married in 1988 but have seen him on and off since then and speak with him a couple of times a week so there have been lots of memories.   I also gave him a couple of books I had read to him when he was young.  One of my favorite memories from his was:

One day you had a friend over.  I was home for lunch and the TV was on and you said to your friend, "Oh, there's my mom on TV."  The kid said, "No it isn't."  Then he looked at the TV and looked at me, and then said, "Yeah, that is your mom."  When my commercial ran on TV, it was quite fun.  I earned a fair amount of money--in fact, that was why we were able to go to Disneyland that year.  I loved getting those "royalty" checks in the mail, and was especially happy when the commercial aired on Prime Time.  

The funniest story has to be when Bobbie B. was visiting family in Idaho and she mentioned she lived in Castro Valley, California.  One of the relatives said, "Castro Valley?  Do you know Yvonne J."   My commercial started with my picture and the voiceover was Yvonne J from Castro Valley, California has lost weight using "Control"!!!!  

I sent Wendy and Nancy's in the mail since I wouldn't be seeing them over Christmas.  Wendy had a lot of fun talking about the book the other day.  Like me she laughed and cried reading some of the memories:

One from hers that I loved:

"One of my favorite memories has got to be the visit to the Lights of the Wild the Christmas you and Tony came to visit us in Winnipeg in December 1998.  I still laugh when I think about how cold you guys were--heck, I was pretty cold, too.  I think that was one of the first times I remember my eyelashes freezing and getting in the car and the mascara defrosting and running down my cheeks.  (I am sad that they don't have the Lights of the Wild anymore.)  Such a fun memory, and I am so glad you came!!!"

One from Nancy's:

"After your experience on the jet ski in Hawaii in 1984, I don't think Dad has any desire to ever ride one again. These were the kind of jet skis where you stood up and drove them.   I was in the room with Heidi when you, Dad, and Stephen rode jet skis.  Something went wrong and you fell off yours and Dad rode out to get you and somehow got gasoline all over himself.  I highly doubt it was an enjoyable experience for either of you.  I think Stephen had a good time!!!!"

We were fortunate enough to have four of the kids in Utah for Christmas so they got their books together.

Thought I would include an excerpt from each book.

From Neal's book (now considering he got out of the hospital here in Utah the day after Christmas, I'm not sure if this memory is as fun as it was when I typed it):

'Dad and I had come out to California for Hannah's blessing in November 2000, and you and the kids were going to come up to Auburn, but you ended up in the hospital with an emergency appendectomy.  Dad and I drove out to Palo Alto and visited you in the hospital at Stanford where Dad proceeded to "show his love" by putting a kink in your IV line.  (Still one of my favorite pictures)  In all seriousness, we are so grateful everything turned out okay."

From Heidi's:

 "I still laugh when I think about this story. It was while we were living in Brampton and you were taking French. (Now keep in mind I took about 2 weeks of French in Junior High ; ) I was familiar with the phrase “je ne sais pas” but didn’t know what it meant. I asked you to ask your teacher. When you came home from school that day I asked you if you asked what it meant and you said “I don’t know”. I said, “Why? Didn’t you ask?” You kept saying “I don’t know”. I guess I’m pretty slow to catch on ; )'

From Brent's book:

"When you were in high school you wrote an autobiography and the title was "The Happy Man".  I found that title incredibly appropriate.  You began, "If I were a circus performer, which one would I be?"  That's one of the questions that caught my eye about a week ago.  I've never been to the circus, so I don't know much about it, except that it's supposed to be the greatest show on earth.  I have seen things about the circus, and I am not inspire to go there anytime soon.  But, I can tell right away what kind of circus performer I would be.  I would be a clown.  Everyone may be thinking, "Why a clown?"  Well I would be a clown mainly because a clown has a huge smile on its face.  One of my best qualities is being cheerful.  The reason is I look for the positive and don't let the bad things keep me down.  Many have asked me, "Why are you so happy?"..."

You wrote about pleasant and unpleasant experiences.  In the last paragraph you said,..."Looking at those moments in life (the happy and unhappy) made me realize one thing about myself, that I can be happy even in the darkest of times."  

You are AWESOME, Brent aka HAPPY MAN!!!!"

From Kyle's book:

 "On our move from Brampton back to the U.S. in 1993, one night we stopped at a hotel in Denver.  You and Brent were running around the hotel room and you fell right into the sharp edge of one of the coffee tables and ended up with a gash right about one of your eyes. YIKES.   Dad picked you up and carried you down to the lobby and grabbed a taxi to take you to the closest hospital.  You didn't have to wait very long in the emergency room.  A doctor saw you right away and he had dad hold you down while he numbed the spot and stitched you up!!!  All I can say am, I was glad I didn't have to be the one  to hold you down.  

As soon as you got out of the room and while you guys were waiting for the taxi, you were jumping all over the place.   Dad was pretty sure he was going to have to take you back in for more stitches!!!!"

AND Finally from Allan's:

"I still don't know how you did it back then, but you cooked Sunday dinner EVERY WEEK.  The kids loved it and who could blame them.  The meals were fabulous.  I am not sure what would have qualified as their favorite--they loved them all.  (Of course, it was a little bit of a surprise for Stephen the first time you made milk gravy!!!)

I still remember the night you weren't there and I had to make Sunday dinner--not my finest moment.  I burned the pork chops and the gravy was like paste.  They were pretty happy when you made dinner the following Sunday and life was back to normal."

Now, you have to know those were the first 20 years of our marriage.  He stopped making dinner on Sundays in about 2005--but I wasn't that bad of a cook after about 10 years!!!!

I am glad I did the books--they were a lot of fun for me, and as one of my friends told me, just think "it's only a pair of socks--response doesn't matter" ; )

Sidenote #1:  My heart is breaking for Heidi.  I hate seeing her like this--she is in so much pain and there doesn't seem to be an answer.  I will continue to pray for some help for her.

Sidenote #2:  Having fun with the little ones.