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Sunday, January 15, 2017

letter - Stand as a witness of God, Art and Lisa's sealing

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I have had an answer to my prayers this week.  A couple of months ago when I read Elder Anderson’s recent conference talk A Witness of God  this part stood out to me.  “I suggest that you stop feeling guilty about any insufficiency you think you have in sharing the gospel. Rather, pray, like Alma taught, for opportunities “to stand as [a witness] of God…”  So during several of my prayers since then I’ve asked for opportunities to stand as a witness of God.  This week I have had an opportunity to stand as a witness of God during some conversations on Facebook with two of my cousins who are both inactive in the church.  One of which no longer believes in God.  As a PS the end of this journal entry/letter I will share the things I wrote as I did my best to stand as a witness of God.

The kids’ Christmas break ended this week and they had to go back to school on Tuesday.  I was so used to sleeping in that I went back to bed after I got the kids off to school.  I was so tired.  Tilly felt lucky she got to watch a movie on the iPad while I slept for another hour. 

Friday evening Chad and I flew to Salt Lake so we could attend Art (Chad’s Dad) and Lisa’s sealing on Saturday morning.  I rarely fly anywhere, but I’ve flown twice in the last two weeks.  Flying makes me a little bit nervous, so I’m glad that I’ll stay on the ground for a while now, but a little sad that I don’t have a trip to look forward to.  The trip to Salt Lake was very nice but very cold.  I don’t like cold weather, it hurts.  Hot weather doesn’t hurt, unless you get a bad sunburn.  Art and Lisa’s sealing yesterday morning was beautiful and they had a delicious luncheon afterwards.  It was fun to meet Lisa’s kids, our step brothers and sister.  I have more siblings, can you believe it?  Counting all my siblings, Chad’s siblings, our step siblings and all of their spouses and Chad and I now have 45 siblings!  That’s got to be some sort of record or something.   Tyler and Jennifer were very nice to watch all of our kids and get them to and from the school for sports activities while we were gone.  Thank you Tyler and Jen!  The kids had a blast.  

I’ll close with a quote from Elder Ballard that I read today.  "Our precious relationships with families, friends, the Lord, and His restored Church are among the things that matter most in life. Because these relationships are so important, they should be cherished, protected, and nurtured. ...Encourage, accept, understand, and love those who are struggling with their faith. We must never neglect any of our brothers and sisters. We are all at different places on the path, and we need to minister to one another accordingly" (To Whom Shall We Go?).  I love each one of you. I love people who have different opinions and beliefs than me. I love it when they ask me questions about how I feel or believe with civility and without ridicule. I try to do the same for them. As we do so it deepens our understanding and friendship with each other. If anything I write ever offends you, please talk to me about it.


P.S. This first thing I share is a letter to my cousin Carl who asked me to share an example how exercising my faith has helped me determine what is true.

January 9, 2017 


In response to your request that I give you an example from my own life where the exercising of faith has determined what's true, I have written down a few experiences to share with you. I have had several examples of where exercising my faith has helped me to know what is true, but I will share three with you. 

#1 - This past year I have wanted to come closer to Christ and to learn more about him so I decided to exercise my faith by reading a little bit in the book Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage each week along with my normal daily personal scripture study. As I’ve read that book about His life I have gained a stronger knowledge of the truth that He is the Son of God and my Redeemer. 

#2 - Throughout my life, I’ve noticed the truth that Christ’s teachings bring me joy and happiness, when I do not apply Christ’s teachings in my life I’m left with regrets and unhappy feelings. I especially feel joy and happiness as I try more fully to incorporate Christ’s teachings into each of my relationships. I am for sure not perfect at this, but through His help, after I have asked for it in prayer, I can better remember what He taught and when I am tempted to get angry or seek revenge I instead find myself seeking to understand others’ point of view and I feel more love and am able to show more love. I have more peace, less regrets, and deeper more meaningful relationships. 

#3 - When Chad and I were new parents I more fully learned the truth that when we pay tithing the windows of Heaven are opened unto us. Chad and I had a tight budget since I stopped working in order to stay at home with our son Spencer and we sacrificed my source of income to do so. I remember walking the isles of Walmart, looking in my cart, mentally adding up the cost of the items in the cart and deciding which things to put back on the shelf. Around that same time, as I was balancing our check book and paying our bills I wrote out our tithing check. I was not tempted to keep that tithing money, but I said in my mind something like, "this is a lot of money, I sure hope we will receive blessings for this." I acted on my belief that tithing is a correct principle (faith is action) and I mailed it to the bishop. As I reflect over the years since then, I have recognized many blessings, not all of them have been monetary, that have come from mailing that check and paying tithing on every other increase that we have received. I have felt impressions at certain times that some blessings I have been given are a direct result of being a full tithe payer. I acted in faith to pay tithing and received knowledge that the principle of tithing is true. 

Whenever I seek to know if a principle is true, I live it, or “plant the seed” as Alma chapter 32 teaches us. That is the way the Lord works, we have to live a principle in order to receive a witness of its truthfulness. I love you and hope you find the truth that you seek. 

Love your cousin, 

These other things I share are the things I wrote in my Facebook conversations with Carl and Sterling, two of my cousins.

·         Well I know from personal witnesses that have come from acting on my faith of things that I believe are true, that there is a God. Personal witness is something that each person needs for themselves. It is the strongest and most sure evidence that no one can take away from you. The eyewitness accounts in the Bible and Book of Mormon add to my personal witnesses. Not the other way around. I hope that each of you continue to find peace and happiness in your life. And I hope that you'll find evidence that God is indeed real. But even if you don't I love you no matter what.
·         In order to find out if God exists, everyone has to follow the doctrine of Christ. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Each person has to do this for himself/herself. You have to live what you believe/hope is true to find the answers. No one can prove it for you.
·         I believe in the God that is the Father of my spirit. The God that sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to atone for my sins and the sins of all mankind. I know He is real, I have felt His love, especially as I have been through some very hard challenges. Faith has worked for me and I believe it will work for everyone who tries with pure intent. Yes several religions say that you must rely on faith, because that is what Jesus Christ taught and that is what God has taught from the beginning. Yes religions have been changed and there are several religions, that is why there was a need for the restoration of Jesus Christ's complete church.  I am not the one searching for truth. I've found it, and I am at peace. I was just sharing the way that everyone can also know what is true. You don't have to believe it or try it... but you won't know unless you do.
·         I'm glad you would really like to know if God is real Sterling. Jesus gave you a way to really know in John 7: 16-17.
16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
Try to follow Gods plan again by exercising your desire to believe and following God's doctrine of acting in Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost and enduring to the end again. Do it with and open heart not trying to disprove it. With real intent. I believe you will find the witness you desire.
·         You can verify both the scriptures and the existence of God by doing the things I invited you to do. The answers are the same for children and adults. Christ's doctrine is simple and basic yet profound with layers and layers of meanings.
I love these questions you're asking, they don't bother me as long as it stays civil like it has been this time around. Questions are how we got the Doctrine and Covenants. That's how Joseph Smith found out God and Christ are real.

Having these conversations has a good experience for me.  I was glad to put down in writing my testimony.  In the past some conversations with my cousin have not been civil, but this time they were kind.  It was nice.  I don’t know if I made any difference in their lives, they have to do the work it takes to gain a witness of the truth, but it has been a good strengthening experience for me.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Letter - Alpha and Omega, Goals

January 8, 2017

It has been a wonderful week.  Monday was Chad’s and my wedding anniversary.  I've been blessed to be married to him for 16 wonderful years! Over the last 16 years we've loved and served each other, laughed, worked, traveled a little bit, and built a family and a relationship that I wouldn't trade for all the riches in the world. I love how anytime we hear something funny from our kids or on TV our eyes automatically meet so we can laugh about it together. We continue to do our best to keep our relationship strong. He made me breakfast on Monday and I did laundry most of the day and cleaned the house to get ready for our trip.  We took the kids to dinner at YC’s Mongollian grill that night to celebrate our family birthday.  We thought they would all love it.  Both of the boys loved it but the girls didn’t like it, except the all you can eat frozen yogurt of course.  I guess next time we’ll have to stick to Chinese food.  That is something all of us love.   

Tuesday Chad and I woke up early at 4:30am to catch our 6:45am flight to San Francisco.  Neither of us had ever been to San Francisco before so we decided to take a two night trip to celebrate our anniversary.  It was a fun trip.  The city has a lot of fun culture and history.  It was fun to focus solely on being a couple and to explore the city without the responsibilities of cooking or cleaning or work or running errands or anything like that for a couple of days. It was also good to come back home and hug the kids and get back to my life of being a wife and a mother.  I love my job!  Thank you Brenda for watching the kids for us. 

If you’re interested, you can see pictures of our trip and read more about it here:

I did not stick to my diet during the trip, I figured since this is probably my one and only chance to visit San Francisco I didn’t want to miss out on their local food.  I didn’t go crazy though and am back on the diet now.  I’ve already lost all the weight I gained plus some.  I have a little over 6 weeks left on the diet.  Next week I get to start adding healthy fats like avocados, nuts and heathy oils to my diet.  I am so excited about the avocados and peanut butter.  Those sound SO good to me.
We got home from our trip late Thursday night.  Our flight home was delayed by almost an hour, but other than that the flights were great and didn’t have anything scary happen in them.

Friday night Bryant and Chad had a deacon’s quorum camp out at Coons bluff.  The other kids and I stayed home.  I made taco salad and fresh salsa and we watched a movie together.

Yesterday we woke up and the kids got their chores done quickly so we could go play with Spencer’s aerobie frisbee at the park. 

Today has been a nice Sabbath Day.  We have late church now so we all (except Chad who had meetings) slept in until about 8:30.  Then I drove Bryant around with another Deacon in the ward to pick up fast offerings at 9:00.  In gospel doctrine I learned a few new things.  We talked about what scripture is.  The church’s definition which I knew is: “Words, both written and spoken, by holy men of God when moved upon by the Holy Ghost” (  But we also learned that in the academic world in order for something to be considered scripture it has to be historic (past), metaphoric (can relate to present life) and prophetic (future).  I thought that was pretty cool.  We also discussed the meaning of the phrase Alpha and Omega which is a title of Christ.  We know it means beginning and end.  Christ created the world and with His second coming it will be the end of the world. But our relief society president said that they were discussing the meaning of that title in their home and her daughter pointed out that in a wolf pack the Alpha is the leader, the Omega is the servant and one who does all the work.  Christ is both our leader and our servant.  I thought that was very cool too.

I’ve set a few goals for this year.  Our family is going to talk about goals in our family council tomorrow night.  Each of us has the assignment to share at least one personal goal and a family goal.  My personal goals are:
·         To read the Ensign each month and read the Sunday school and Relief Society Lessons each week.
·         To attend the temple 52 times this year. (Once a week average.)
·         To learn the piano solo that my Mom gave me at a YW’s activity when I was young.  I’ve got to go find it! 
·         To polish up some of the old piano solos I’ve learned.

For our family goal I would like us to do a family service project at least once a quarter.  We were able to go serve at Feed my Starving Children two weeks ago and Tilly, Marlee and Karalee loved it.  We for sure want to go serve there again.  Tilly especially loved it since she got to be an active participant.  She loved not having to just watch.

My quote for today is from President Hinckley.  “We live in a society that feeds on criticism. … I urge you to see the big picture and cease worrying about the little blemishes. … These are only incidental to the magnitude of [Church leaders’] service and to the greatness of their contributions.”  I hope to criticize less and to praise more with everyone I meet, especially in my home.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Letter - Seek for things that satisfy, the object of the entire Law is the spirit of obedience to God

January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!!  2016 was very good to our family.  We finished the year off in a fun way last night.  Wynn, Tyler, Kayla and their families all came over for a New Year’s Eve party.  The weather was very nice and the kids were able to play in the backyard without jackets.  They lit sparklers and after a light, warm rain we built a fire in our fire pit and they roasted marshmallows and made s’mores.  The adults kept busy visiting in the family room.  Wynn and Tyler’s families had to leave before midnight came around, but since Kayla and her family stayed overnight with us we all (except Tilly who asked to go to bed around 9:30) stayed up until midnight to watch the recorded footage of the ball drop in Times square.  I hurried next to Chad during the last few seconds of 2016 so we could give each other a kiss as the New Year rolled around.  It is such a blessing to have a sweetheart.  Chad is such a good man and I’m so glad to be his wife.     
It has been interesting going through the Christmas season while being on a strict diet.  I have learned to celebrate without food. To find joy in being with loved ones and feeling the spirit of the Christmas season. Most of the time it hasn’t been too hard, but there have been a couple of times when I have wanted to try some of the yummy desserts or foods I’m not allowed to eat on this phase of my diet.  A scripture has come to mind as I’m learning to eat better and reset my metabolism.  It is the first part of verse 51 in 2 Nephi 9.  “Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy ….”  The things that I am eating now are very basic, and they satisfy the needs of my body.  When I eat treats such as chocolates or desserts like cookies or cinnamon rolls one is never enough.  I always want more and more until I eat so much that I feel sick and ashamed of myself.  The foods I eat now do not leave me craving more junk food.  The only problem is my mind remembers how good that junk food tastes.  I’m learning to like healthier foods though.  I have lost 18 pounds now.  I am noticing positive changes in my body and I feel better about myself. 

Today part of our opening hymn in sacrament meeting caught my attention.  “Come, let us anew our journey pursue, Roll round with the year, And never stand still till the Master appear.  His adorable will let us gladly fulfill, And our talents improve By the patience of hope and the labor of love, By the patience of hope and the labor of love.”  I haven’t yet decided what goals I am going to set for myself this year, but the line “And our talents improve by the patience of hope and the labor of love”, has me thinking about what talents I need to improve.  I know that as I fulfill my role as a wife and mother and as I fulfill my church calling by laboring with love my talents will improve.  I’m sure I can also find other specific find ways to improve my talents though.

My quote for today is from Jesus the Christ.  To preface, Elder Talmage was explaining how the Pharisees foolishly tried to pick which commandments were most important. They also tried to trap Jesus by asking which of the commandments is the greatest of all.  "None of them [pharisees] had realized the great principle, that the wilful violation of one commandment is the transgression of all (James 2:10), because the object of the entire Law is the spirit of obedience to God" (Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pg. 524).  It is important to be obedient to all commandments, not just the ones we think are more important than others.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Letter - What do you nurture?, Service is comely and beautiful

December 11, 2016

Highlights of this week are: Spencer turned 15!! Bryant had four soccer games.  I did some more Christmas shopping.  Tilly had Grammy days and three days of preschool.  Marlee and Tilly had Gilbert youth choir on Thursday, a choir Bounce U party on Friday, and a rehearsal and concert on Saturday.  I spoke at my ward Relief Society Christmas activity on Thursday night, I’ll add my talk as a P.S. if you’re interested.  Spencer, Bryant, Karalee and Marlee got to go on a hay ride around to neighborhood caroling with their friends.  Tilly got to go out to eat with Chad and me while they caroled. 

Chad and I attended a super fun MUSAWEP party last night.  MUSAWEP stands for Maycock’s Ugly Sweater And White Elephant Party.  The Dave and Audrey Maycock are exceptional party planners.  Several couples from our old ward, that we sadly just don’t get to see as often anymore, plus several couples from our new ward attended.  There were about 60 people there in all.  There were lots of funny gifts, like an “I pooped today” t-shirt that our bishop stole and ended up with.  Besides the white elephant gift exchange we also had some other fun games.  The women had to draw a depiction of our first date with our spouse.  The men couldn’t peek.  Then then put all the pictures up on a projector screen one at a time and the men had to guess which drawing was theirs and explain the date.  It was so, so much fun. 

I’ve been doing a strict diet since November 30th.  I’ve become a Prolean Wellness client.  My sister Celeste and her husband Jeff own Prolean Wellness and they have a great weight loss program.  They are helping me lose weight.  On Thanksgiving night I felt like a big blob and decided I wanted to lose 15 pounds before Christmas.  I knew that meant no Christmas goodies, but I made up my mind.  I haven’t been able to lose the weight I gained on our cruise this summer and I got to the point where I am sick and tired being at an unhealthy weight and I didn’t want to buy bigger pants again.  I have already lost 7 pounds, and I haven’t felt hungry!  It was very hard to pass up Spencer’s s’mores cake that he requested for his birthday, but I didn’t give in…I just smelled it a few times. J  Celeste assured me that it shouldn’t be a problem to lose 15 pounds by Christmas and that I will lose more than that before the whole 12 week program is finished, which is good because to get down to a healthy BMI I need to lose more than 15 pounds.  I am going to be healthy and feel good about myself…and stay that way.

Today has been a wonderful day, except the fact that Chad has the sore throat that Spencer had earlier this week.  One of my former laurels, Megan Sedillo, gave her farewell talk in church.  Her talk was exceptional.  Don’t know if I’ve ever heard a better one.  I shed many tears, as did several others in the congregation and on the stand.  Megan is an amazing young woman with a powerful testimony.  I think she will accomplish much as a missionary.  I was privileged to get to be her leader.  She taught me a lot.

A single man in our ward, who I would guess is around mine and Chad’s age, spoke after Megan and his talk was also great.  He shared two quotes that really stuck out to me. 

The first is from President Hinckley:
May God help us to be a little kinder, showing forth greater forbearance, to be more forgiving, more willing to walk the second mile, to reach down and lift up those who may have sinned but have brought forth the fruits of repentance, to lay aside old grudges and nurture them no more ( 
The part that really got me to ponder was the last words “nurture them no more”.  I got me thinking, what do I nurture?  Do I nurture a grudge for someone or do I nurture my love for them?  What I feed grows. What I starve dies.  That got me thinking about other things, do I nurture my happiness or my sadness?  It can apply to other things as well.

The second is from Bryant S. Hinckley, President Hinckley’s father.  “Service is the virtue that distinguished the great of all times and which they will be remembered by. It places a mark of nobility upon its disciples. It is the dividing line which separates the two great groups of the world—those who help and those who hinder, those who lift and those who lean, those who contribute and those who only consume. How much better it is to give than to receive. Service in any form is comely and beautiful. To give encouragement, to impart sympathy, to show interest, to banish fear, to build self-confidence and awaken hope in the hearts of others—in short, to love them and to show it—is to render the most precious service” (Quoted by Elder Perry,
I think that is such a beautiful quote full of truth.


P.S.  Here’s my talk:

Light the World through Service
Talk for Relief Society Activity
December 8, 2016

“I will stand among the faithful, my testimony lighting the way.  I’ll be a witness of and walk the path of Christ today.  I gaze up towards heaven, and my soul begins to sing.  Heavenly Father loves me; I’m the daughter of a king” (Lyrics to Daughter of a King, Lana Osmus).

How can we light the world by witnessing of and walking the path of Christ?  Before we can light others, we need to first possess light ourselves.  To do this we need to bring light into our life regularly.  We can bring light into our life through sincere prayer.  I love Elder Uceda’s recent general conference talk about prayer.  In it he asks this thought provoking question. “When you pray, are you really praying or just saying prayers?” (The Lord Jesus Christ Teacher Us to Pray)  We can also bring light into our lives by reading the scriptures and the words of the living prophets.  Elder Pearson warns us that Unless we are ‘continually holding fast’ to the word of God and living it, we will become spiritually blinded rather than spiritually minded. Search the Book of Mormon and the words of the living prophets every day, every day, every day!” (Stay by the Tree)  He goes on to promise us that if we are struggling, confused, or spiritually lost, a prayerful study the Book of Mormon will get us back on track.  After we have brought light into our lives through prayer and reading the scriptures each day, it is time to go to work spreading that light. 

The best way I know to light the world is to serve others.  In our busy lives I feel the biggest obstacle to rendering service is remembering to do it.  A scripture that comes to mind when I think about the importance of remembering to serve is Alma 60:6.  It is not a scripture you’d normally think of for service.  In chapter 60 Moroni is complaining to Pahoran for not sending help to his armies.  Verse 6 says, “And now behold, we desire to know the cause of this exceedingly great neglect; yea, we desire to know the cause of your thoughtless state.”  A few years ago when I read that verse I wrote this note to myself in the margins, “Don’t be thoughtless about the good things you can do.”  Since then I’ve tried to be more thoughtful about doing good. 

A few weeks ago in church I learned that in Hebrew, remember is an action word.  An action that has helped me to remember to be thoughtful is to put reminders on my phone.  For example, to help me be a better visiting teacher, I have a reminder to set up each month to schedule a visiting teaching appointment.  I have yearly repeating reminders of birthdays for those I love and have stewardship over.  When the reminders come up I try to send a text right then, or I put a note on my shopping list to get a little gift. 

Another thing that has helped me to serve is to set a specific goal to do a specific service a specific number of times.  For example, a few years ago I set a goal to take a meal to people a certain number of times during that year.  When I had that goal I learned to become aware of people in the ward or in my family or neighborhood were going through a hard time so I could fulfil my goal.  I became more aware of when people had a busy day coming up or when they were going through a trial or when then expressed on Facebook that they were having a hard time.  The specific service you decide to give does not have to be big.  It can be something as simple as giving a compliment, sending a kind text, going to the temple or whatever you feel like you can do.  I love Sister Bingham’s talk in the General Women’s Session of conference.  She said, “One of the most significant ways we can develop and demonstrate love for our neighbor is through being generous in our thoughts and words. …  How like that glorious wind can be the sincere compliment of a friend, the cheerful greeting of a parent, the approving nod of a sibling, or the helpful smile of a co-worker or classmate, all supplying fresh ‘wind in our sails’ as we battle the challenges of life!” (I Will Bring the Light of the Gospel into my Home)  The Lord will help us know what specific service oriented goal will help us light the world. 

I feel the most important place serve and light the world is in our own homes.  First, serve our spouse.  Light the world by looking for the good in him each day and then thank him for the good that we see in him each day.  Periodically grab his favorite snack or treat at the store and leave it on his pillow.  Happy marriages spread happiness.  They help our children, work places, and communities to be happier.  Second, serve our children.  Praise more and criticize less.  Help them.  Keep a journal so your posterity can read how you dealt with life’s challenges and so they can know of your testimony.  A journal will light the world for generations to come.  As your children receive your service and see and help you serve others, they will learn to serve too.  It is contagious and it will light the world.

Lastly, I think it is important that we don’t squelch our light by comparing our light to others.  Don’t hold back in what you have to give because you think someone could do it better.  Offer what you have.  It is good.  It is needed.  Jesus Christ needs us to share what we know about Him through our thoughts, words and deeds.  As we do so, we will light the world.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Letter - Plan of Salvation, Letter to my Dad

December 4, 2016

This week I noticed a message that was in a folder I rarely check on Facebook from a lady who sent me a message back in June.  She came across my blog and noticed that I had broken my neck.  She reached out to me because she broke her neck this year and has had a really hard time and wants to communicate with someone who has been through something similar.  We’ve been messaging each other back and forth.  She had a WAY worse accident than I did.  I’ve been thinking about her and praying for her.  While reading a conference talk on Friday morning I had the thought to share the plan of salvation with her.  This is what I wrote: 

December 2, 2016

Hi Nicole.  This morning I have been thinking about you. I realized something else that helped me a lot after my accident and during the other hard trials I have gone through in my life.  The thing that has helped me is the knowledge of the plan of God, our Heavenly Father.  I know that we lived with God before we came to Earth and I know that there is life after death.  A leader in my church recently gave a talk in our church’s twice a year general conference that explains very eloquently Heavenly Father’s plan.  I read that talk this morning and I want to share part of it with you.  I think it will bring you hope! 

“I believe every human being carries in his or her heart some form of fundamental questions regarding life itself. Where did I come from? Why am I here? What will happen after I die?
These kinds of questions have been asked by mortals since the dawn of time. Philosophers, scholars, and pundits have spent their lives and fortunes seeking for answers. …
We are eternal beings, without beginning and without end. We have always existed.  We are the literal spirit children of divine, immortal, and omnipotent Heavenly Parents!
We come from the heavenly courts of the Lord our God. …We walked with Him in our premortal life. We heard Him speak, witnessed His majesty, learned His ways.
You and I participated in a Grand Council where our beloved Father presented His plan for us—that we would come to earth, receive mortal bodies, learn to choose between good and evil, and progress in ways that would not otherwise be possible.
When we passed through the veil and entered this mortal life, we knew that we would no longer remember the life before. There would be opposition and adversity and temptation. But we also knew that gaining a physical body was of paramount importance for us. Oh, how we hoped that we would quickly learn to make the correct choices, withstand the temptations of Satan, and eventually return to our beloved Parents in Heaven.
We knew we would sin and make mistakes—perhaps even serious ones. But we also knew that our Savior, Jesus Christ, had pledged to come to earth, live a sinless life, and voluntarily lay down His life in an eternal sacrifice. We knew that if we gave our heart to Him, trusted Him, and strived with all the energy of our soul to walk in the path of discipleship, we could be washed clean and once again enter the presence of our beloved Father in Heaven.
So, with faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, you and I accepted, by our free will, Heavenly Father’s plan.
That is why we are here on this beautiful planet earth—because God offered us the opportunity, and we chose to accept it. Our mortal life, however, is only temporary and will end with the death of our physical body. But the essence of who you and I are will not be destroyed. Our spirits will continue living and await the Resurrection—a free gift to all by our loving Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  At the Resurrection, our spirits and bodies will be reunited, free from pain and physical imperfections.
After the Resurrection, there will be a Day of Judgment. While all will eventually be saved and inherit a kingdom of glory, those who trust in God and seek to follow His laws and ordinances will inherit lives in the eternities that are unimaginable in glory and overwhelming in majesty.
That Day of Judgment will be a day of mercy and love—a day when broken hearts are healed, when tears of grief are replaced with tears of gratitude, when all will be made right.
Yes, there will be deep sorrow because of sin. Yes, there will be regrets and even anguish because of our mistakes, our foolishness, and our stubbornness that caused us to miss opportunities for a much greater future.
But I have confidence that we will not only be satisfied with the judgment of God; we will also be astonished and overwhelmed by His infinite grace, mercy, generosity, and love for us, His children. If our desires and works are good, if we have faith in a living God, then we can look forward to what Moroni called ‘the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge’” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, O How Great the Plan of Our God!).

I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for us and that he loves us!  Even when we go through hard things he loves us and is willing to help us.  Our life is meant to test us and to try us.  It was not meant to be easy or fair.  We are able to prove to our Heavenly Father, and ourselves, that we will follow Him and make good choices even when things are hard.  This knowledge has helped me through hard things and I know it will help me through the hard experiences I will face in the future. 

I am so glad we are friends.  I am thankful you reached out to me after reading my blog.  I love you! 

I don’t feel like our meeting is a coincidence.  I’m glad that our paths have crossed and I hope I can be an instrument in God’s hands in her behalf. 

Here is another letter I wrote that morning to my Dad for day two if the Church’s light the world initiative.  I’m glad my Mom is still around and that I got to call her instead of writing a letter!

Dec. 2, 2016

Dear Dad,

I love and miss you.  I am grateful that I feel your presence in my life, especially when I am going through a hard time.  I am grateful for the things you taught me, especially that you taught me about the gospel ties that bind us together.  I am grateful for the love you showed me.  Your praise meant a lot.  I am grateful for the love you showed Mom and the example you both were of what a happy marriage is like.  I am grateful for the love you showed your Mother and your siblings and that we were raised near them and interacted with them frequently.  Your example has taught me so much.

I am grateful for the love you had for everyone you met and for the connections you would make.  You knew so much about the families in Arizona and how they were related to or connected to our family.

I missed your advice during this political season.   I miss your wise influence in the Arizona legislature. 

I am sad that my little kids have not had the chance to make memories with you yet or to hear the nicknames I am sure you would give them in your kind, booming voice or to feel your big hugs.  I know they will have that chance eventually though and that brings me comfort.

I love you and look forward to the day when we will meet again.  I know that families are eternal.  Thank you for teaching that to me.

Your loving daughter,

I hope your week has gone well!  I would love to hear from you.



letter - Thanksgiving

November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving is over now.  It has been a wonderful holiday week.  However I’ll back up a bit before that first.  

Tuesday November 15th we had our pack meeting in our backyard so we could have a real fire.  Four of our boys earned their Arrow of Light!  I’m proud of them.  As soon as pack meeting was over, the girls and I drove over to Sky Harbor Airport to be there as Hunter come home from his mission in Russia.  It was fun to be with Penny’s family and witness their family reunion.  Penny asked me to put together a video of his arrival so I did.  I hope she liked it.

Wednesday the 16th I invited my friend from my ward Sharley Loose and her little kids over to visit and play.  It was fun to get to know her better.  I admire her kind, quiet personality and I hope to become close friends with her.  That evening Bryant, the girls and I went to watch Chad and the rest of the bishopric and the YW dads play kick ball against the young women at the church softball fields.  It was a fun evening.

Thursday the 17th Bryant had a home soccer game.  He got to play the whole second half!  He’s been working hard by practicing extra at home and has earned some playing time.  He didn’t get to play at all during the first two games.  Friday Bryant had a campout here in the desert.  Chad and I went to eat at Rodizio Grill, Mesa’s new Brazilian restaurant, with our good friends the Moody’s.  It was delicious!  

Saturday Chad had to go conduct the monthly 8 year old baptisms then he and I went to the temple and did sealings.  We did some of the family names that Bryant and Spencer found.  If anyone would like to help us do some endowments they have found LOTS of names.  It is going to us a couple years to complete them all ourselves.  

Last Sunday evening I did not write because we invited Chad’s siblings who are in town come over for dinner and to visit.  It was a special treat that Hayley and Nick and their baby Liberty were here visiting from Idaho.  We had a nice dinner, even if it had to start late because it took longer than I expected to cook two lasagnas instead of one.  Now I know.  Nick had all the kid’s attention with his fun card tricks.  He’s such a good Uncle!  

My kids had the whole week off of school this week.  When our school changed to the modified year round schedule a year and a half ago they gave us 2 weeks off for Fall and Spring Break plus all of Thanksgiving week off.  I love it.  Monday we had our family pictures taken by our good friend Melissa Lantz.  I am looking forward to seeing how they turned out.  Tuesday Spencer had his first JV basketball game.  He got to play most of the game.  Their team won by about 20 points.  Wednesday we fed the sister missionaries.  When I asked them what they would like to eat, they requested Mexican food so I made cheese enchiladas and crockpot ranch chicken tacos. 

Thursday was Thanksgiving.  We met at the stake center at 10:00 and played volleyball.  I came home around 11:00 to cook the mashed potatoes.  We ate dinner a little after noon and then had the traditional Sanders’ family snowball fight with the snow balls Brenda buys from Bahama Bucks.  Later that evening the family came over to our home to watch movies.  The little kids watched Finding Dory while the adults and older kids watched Captain America Civil War (Chad just told us that those were the top grossing movies this year.) on the projector screen Chad set up with a white sheet in the living room.  He recently purchased a nice little $100 projector for presentations he has to give at work.  Too bad for me he didn’t wait until I could buy it for him for Christmas because now I don’t know what to get him.  It was fun to be together with extended family members for the majority of the day.

Friday Chad had to work.  I got a health screening at Walgreens so we could get cheaper insurance premiums through Chad’s work next year.  I don’t remember much else we did that day.

Yesterday we set up our Christmas decorations.  That took a majority of the day.  That evening Chad and I did a session at the temple and went out to dinner for date night.  I had a lot of interesting new thoughts stick out to me during the session.  However, now as I’m thinking about it I can’t remember what it was that stood out to me.  Good thing I can go back again and again as many times as I would like as long as I stay worthy.

My quote for today is a joke that Chad just looked up and told the boys and me.  
What is the worst thing about being lonely?  Playing Frisbee.
 And here’s a bonus joke.  
I can’t believe I forgot to go to the gym today.  That’s 7 years in a row.


Monday, November 14, 2016

P.S. to yesterday's letter - Correspondence from Elder Oaks

November 14, 2016

I forgot to include something in my letter yesterday.  My Mom received some correspondence from Elder Oaks.  I want to include it in my letter because it reflects the good character of my parents and I want my children to know how wonderful their grandparents are.  The excerpts below are from my Mom’s weekly letters explaining the letters she received.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

I was very comforted this week when I went to work on my regular shift at the Temple, when Bro. Ray West handed me a card from Elder Dallin Oaks.  He was told to give it to me by way of a Bro. Sperry who had come to check things out at the “Church Ranch” in Taylor.  I learned that this ranch is one of the very few who still run cattle in the same way most people do here in this mountain area.  Anyway, I received the card and then in the middle of the night, I awoke and had to write a letter of “Thanks” to Elder Oaks.  I guess he still thinks of Jake Flake when he thinks of this area, because he was the one who called and set him apart as the Stake President a long time ago.  I have to admit that I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night, but it was okay.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I had another nice experience happen to me this week.  I got a letter in the mail from Dallin H. Oaks.  I told you that I awoke in the middle of the night after receiving his business card in the “round-about” way that it came, and had to write a letter of “thanks” to him.  His reply stated, 
“Dear Sister Flake, Thank you for your gracious letter of Oct. 27th, received when I returned from a trip to Central America.  I chuckled at the round-about way it reached you, but I am very pleased that it did.
I remember you and Jake with great fondness, and congratulate you on your wonderful expanding family.
Sincerely your brother, signature and printed, Dallin H. Oaks”