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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”

Sunday, November 13, 2016

letter - trials, average of the people you associate with, Find Light

November 13, 2016

Dear loved ones,

The last few weeks have had some hard emotional trials for me.  The first trial was a cancer scare.  Friday Oct. 21st I noticed a lump on my breast.  I have had pain on and off in it for a few years.  It would come and go with my menstrual cycle.  The pain has gotten worse over the last few months.  I was able to get in to see the doctor on Tuesday, Nov. 1st to see what was going on.  I was very scared.  I couldn’t sleep well because I would wake up worried about it.  I emailed Chad’s and my parents and siblings for prayers so I could feel peace and so the doctors could correctly diagnose what was causing the pain and the lump.    

The prayers were answered and I felt comforted by them. At my appointment on Nov. 1st the doctor noticed the lump and did an ultrasound on it. He could see on the ultrasound that it is a fluid filled cyst. He said those are almost always benign and it should go away on its own. He told me to pay attention to it and let him know if it gets worse. As long as it stays the same we will just keep an eye on it at my yearly exams. No further steps need to be taken.  I am very relieved.

I have gained a greater appreciation of having people to help bear my burdens. I was so worried before I sent out the email to my family asking for prayers that I was crying on and off all day long for several days. After the email I got a call from my sister letting me know she has had similar lumps and they weren't cancerous. I felt much better after her call and I also felt comforted that so many loved ones were praying for me.  I didn’t cried about it after that.  I'm very lucky to have so much love and support.

The second emotional trial happened Friday.  On our neighborhood Facebook page a neighbor posted a picture that was inappropriate.  I love to be a part of the neighborhood page, and I felt that if no one said anything about that picture it would get worse.  So I respectfully asked that we keep the neighborhood page more PG.  I received lots of backlash.  People, mostly men, ridiculed me, made fun of me, posted more inappropriate pictures, started posting pictures of garments (not sure how that all came about), said I was attacking them, etc..  It was so hard for me.  I had several friends stick up for me and agree with me, but it was to no avail.  I left it up for as long as I did because I felt my stance was important and I would take the beating if it meant things would change.  However, I ended up deleting the whole post when I found out they were posting pictures of garments (I had quit reading comments on it because the comments made me cry) and I unsubscribed from that neighborhood group page.  Several friends have texted me or reached out to me to let me know they support me and that they left the neighborhood page too.  Yesterday I woke up scared that those neighbors would seek out my home and start taping those pictures on my door or dropping dirty magazines in my backyard or something.  I’m still feeling a bit bruised by it all, but I’ll be ok.  I’m sad not to be able to know when people in the neighborhood need help, but really there wasn’t that much good on that page anyway.  Comments have gotten meaner over the last few months.  It is sad that Facebook can create a mob mentality so quickly since people don’t have to look at those who they are hurting.  I think Facebook can do a lot of good though too.  I lost a few hours of sleep for two nights over the whole ordeal and I cried a lot of tears, but it has made me stronger and I will continue to be kind and stand up for what is right.  I won’t be victimized into changing who I am. 

Today I thought of things that have built my courage over the years.  Growing up on the ranch helped me build a lot of courage.  When I was little I was pretty much always scared to go riding, the horses were so big and sometimes jumpy.  The cows and bulls scared me when we had to cut calves or bulls out of the heard.  Playing the piano has helped me build courage too.  Accompanying for the first time in young women’s, performing piano solos, accompanying in concerts or in church used to be terrifying.  I’ve gotten less scared over the years, but still feel pretty nervous if a song is challenging.  What has built your courage?

I’ll close with a few thoughts.  My friend Frank Sanderson shared a video with this quote.  "You slowly become the average of the five people you associate with the most” (Jim Rohn).  I thought a lot about that quote after watching his video and I realized it can apply to many other things in life. You become the average of the five things you read the most, watch the most, eat the most, listen to the most, and most importantly DO the most. 

The last thought I’ll shared is from our gospel doctrine lesson on the brother of Jared.  It was pointed out in the lesson that the Lord told the brother of Jared how to get air in the barges he built, but he asked the brother of Jared to come up with his own plan to get light.  I’ve felt that means the Lord will help magnify our plans and ideas to fulfil our callings and that there is more than one right way to further the Lord’s work.  My friend Angie Randall shared the thought that the Lord will give us air and things we need to live like a body, the earth, etc., but he wants us to use our agency to search out light and truth on our own.  He will not force us to find light.  It is beautifully symbolic.

I hope you are all happy, healthy and that you have people who will pray for you and who will also stand up for you and defend you. 



Sunday, October 30, 2016

Letter - if it will poison a Lamanite it will poison a Nephite, weak gospel teaching and modeling in the home

Oct. 30, 2016

Today I’m going to write a little bit of a different letter.  There are many things I’ve been saving to include in my letter lately so instead of writing down a log of what we did this week I’ll share the things that I’ve been saving or thinking about.

First, when I was in Kayla’s ward two weeks ago, a lady shared that when we go to our classes at church, we need to be proactive as we go into the class.  Instead of sitting down and bemoaning the fact that no once sits by you, actively look for who you can sit by as you walk in the door.

Second, here is a spotlight that was written about me in our RS email.  MINDY SANDERS - Mindy serves as our Cub Committee Chairperson in the ward. She was the only sibling out of 13 that wasn't born in a hospital. Instead she was born in a doctor’s office in Snowflake. She played basketball and volleyball in high school and her teams were the 3A AZ Champions her senior year. She also played the viola and sang in choir. Her all time dream is to have all her kids happily married in the temple and to grow old with her husband Chad (who serves as the 2nd Counselor in the Bishopric). They met in college and were in the same Family Home Evening Group. She was about to leave for her mission when he proposed. Mindy's favorite book is Pride & Prejudice. She loves summer because she can go swimming, hiking, floating down down the river and any other fun outdoor activity. Costa Rica is her vacation spot and Mexican food is her favorite food. Mindy loves serving! It is in her nature to help others. Her favorite quote is from her Aunt Nertia, "Assume the best. Look for the good" 

Third, this quote I read this week.  "Excuses are easy to find; they spring up as readily and plentifully as weeds by the wayside" (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, pg. 401). 

Fourth, this thought written by my niece Jewel. 
A few years ago, I had my first "wall of faith" experience--one where I was truly led to doubt what I had always taken for granted as true.  I had been reading news articles and heard stories about a few different movements that I originally dismissed as hogwash--complete apostasy, stirred up by angry ex-members who just wanted to drag others down with them.  I was prepared to give these movements no further thought, until some friends of mine whose opinions (and testimonies) I trusted implicitly started posting about these movements on Facebook.  
            Feeling curious, knowing these friends as active members (some of whom had served missions), and wanting to have a truly open mind, I started reading these blog posts, forums, and discussions.  I spent a few weeks diving down this rabbit hole until I realized that every time I left my computer or my phone screen, I was feeling sick, anxious, and confused.  I started mentally criticizing things at church and in the temple that had never bothered me before (many things that I had actually previously enjoyed and found comforting).  I realized that I was spending a disproportionate amount of time reading these dissenting and angry voices, rather than on my typical scripture study habits. …
During this time, I had the opportunity to attend a General Women's Conference Session with some dear friends of mine.  It was my first time in the conference center, and as I felt the strength and power of all of these righteous women, united in love and compassion for the Savior and for each other, I was overwhelmed with joy.  I remember crying through the entire two-hour meeting and feeling peaceful and content when it was over.  The entire time, the thought kept coming into my mind of what a contrast this was to the feelings I got from other things I had been reading, discussing, and listening to.  It was literally the contrast of truth versus error.  …
The significant contrast of that memory helped me to realize that the distress these articles were bringing me meant something, and I decided to lean more towards the peace of the principles I needed to focus on at the time.  I learned to trust my instinct when clicking on a link, comment, or article, and have found that usually within the first few lines of an article, I can tell whether something will be good for me to read or not.
I was grateful for this lesson, but thought little more of it until quite some time later, when I was reading a verse in the Book of Mormon that struck me in a way I'd never thought about before.
Moroni was a war captain, chosen for his valor and integrity to lead his people (the Nephites) against their enemies (the Lamanites).  While I had always enjoyed the chapters describing the victories and losses of this time period in previous perusals, this time reading through, I found a significant amount of symbolism (that had previously been entirely lost on me) by now reading it as a person who sees herself currently at war with a powerful and tireless adversary.
One part that especially struck me was in Alma 55:31-32.  At this point in the story, the Nephites currently have a tenuous advantage, and the Lamanites are trying to find ways to attack them that are a bit more subtle than previous attempts, one of which is trying to poison their wine.  
Moroni employs what I always saw as a rather obvious bit of logic here--Mormon records that "they would not partake of their wine, save they had first given to some of the Lamanite prisoners. (32) And they were thus cautious that no poison should be administered among them; for if their wine would poison a Lamanite it would also poison a Nephite; and thus they did try all their liquors." (emphasis added)
Well, duh.  I remember always laughing about that little line there before (I mean, it is rather obvious), but this time the principle hit me powerfully and personally.  
It doesn't matter whether I see myself as a Lamanite or as a Nephite; poison is poison.  No matter how strong I think my testimony is, or how secure I feel in my relationship with my Heavenly Father, if the Spirit is warning me not to ingest some message of contention or some dissenting voice, I had better listen to it, because I AM NOT IMMUNE.  I am not infallible.  It is possible for my testimony to become weakened and corroded by the voices I read out of sheer curiosity or the desire to appear "open-minded."  I am affected (probably more deeply than I know) by the messages I choose to take in, and therefore I should take care in discerning what to allow into my mind and heart” (

The last thing I’ll share today is part of a discussion we had during our 5th Sunday lesson, about what we learned in Stake Conference last weekend.  We talked about how not many young men in our stake are serving missions.  Ninety one percent of the adults in our stake have temple recommends, but only twenty to forty percent of the young men in our stake are serving missions.  And most of those 18-25 year old young men who don’t serve are going inactive.  I asked, how can we help our young men get out on missions and/or stay active?   We discussed it for a long time, but came back to a thought that was given by President Derrick at stake conference, which was also something that was discussed in ward counsel back when I was on the ward counsel and that is this: they aren’t going on missions and aren’t staying active because of weak gospel teaching and modeling in the home.  The place where most members are lost from the covenant path and the cycle of being born, getting baptized, getting endowed, getting married, having children is between age 8 and the time they should be getting endowed.  Elder Bednar said that people are lost at that stage because of weak gospel teaching and modeling in the home.  I know that there are cases where parents have taught their children well, but their children use their agency to leave the church and its teachings.  However, I agree that as parents we have a responsibility to take what we learn and church and implement it in our homes.  When we don’t do that our children know it and their testimonies are damaged.  We are in danger when we pick and choose which things we will be obedient to and which ones we will ignore.  Especially when our children know what is taught and see us ignore it.  Anyway, it was a great discussion and I hope I can have strong gospel teachings and modeling in my home.


What are your thoughts on how  to help get young men out on a mission?  

Letter - sick, trip to CA, make yourself mind yourself

October 23, 2016

I have been sick for the last two weeks.  I never had a fever so I didn’t go into the doctor.  I’m not sure they could have done anything for me anyway.   I had congestion that turned into a bad cough that would give me a headache and leave me tired at the end of each day.  It’s been exhausting, more mentally than physically.  I am tired of being sick and tired!  I’m mostly better now, except for a little bit of a lingering cough.  I mostly cough when I lay down to go to bed at night.  It isn’t so bad that it makes my head hurt anymore though. 

Last week Oct. 13th – 16th my three girls and I spent the end of their fall break in California for my niece Jaki’s baptism and my niece Carli’s baby blessing.  They are my sister Kayla’s daughters.  We drove over on Thursday with my Mom in her nice Jeep Grand Cherokee.  After we arrived in town and checked into our hotel, we went over to Kayla’s and she fed us dinner.  We didn’t stay and visit too long since Kayla’s kids had to go to school the next day. 

On Friday the 14th Tilly got to go to Natalie’s kindergarten class to be Natalie’s show and tell since Natalie was student of the week and was able to share something with the class each day!  Tilly was so excited.  That afternoon after Kayla’s kids got out of school, I took my girls and Kayla’s older girls to the beach while she and my Mom took Carli and Colt to a doctor’s appointment.  We had a nice time at the beach and there were only a handful of people with us at the beach.  I didn’t even touch the water since I was suffering with a bad cold and didn’t want it to get worse by getting in the cold water.  Karalee, Rachel and Jaki didn’t mind the cold water one bit and they went boogie boarding and had a great time.  Marlee, Tilly and Natalie mostly built sand castles, but they got in the water up to their waist from time to time.

Saturday morning we watched Natalie and Jaki’s soccer games.  That afternoon we attended Jaki’s baptism.  It was very nice.  That evening we drove to Fontana, CA about an hour away to watch Jordan, my niece Shelby’s husband, dance with the BYU Ballroom Dance team.  He is on the Latin Dance team.  Shelby is on the tech crew.  They were touring southern California, putting on shows for about a week.  They put on a wonderful show.  My girls, Mom and I LOVED it!! 

Sunday morning we attended Jeff and Kayla’s ward and were able to listen to the beautiful blessing Jeff gave Carli.  I have attended their ward a few times and love the people in their ward.  They have a strong ward.  After the block of meetings we ate a nice taco salad lunch at Jeff and Kayla’s and then headed for home.  We got stuck in some traffic near west phoenix and so we got home later than I had hoped, but all in all it was a great trip except for the fact that I was suffering from a terrible cold and was self-conscious about all the coughing and nose blowing I did.  When I got home I asked Chad if we could not drive any more long distances for a while.  After our AZ/UT road trip and this drive to CA I’m all drived out!

Chad and I weren’t reunited for very long.  He had to fly out to Orlando on Monday morning.  He had business meetings and didn’t get home until Wednesday night.  Monday afternoon I had my normal chiropractor appointment and it brought me some relief from my cough and cold.

Tuesday night I had pack meeting so most of the day was spent preparing for it.  The theme for this month’s pack meeting is Creepy Crawlers so for a gathering activity I had the boys make an ant out of marshmallows, straight pretzels and m&m’s.  It was a big hit!

Wednesday evening I took dinner to my friend Susan Griffith who I also visit teach.  She is going through chemo therapy for throat cancer.  She had thyroid cancer last year and it was successfully treated, but now it has come back to her throat.  I hope her treatments are successful.  She caught it early so she has a good chance.  I don’t like cancer.

Thursday Chad and I were able to attend the temple together for Stake Temple Day while Tilly was at preschool and he was on his lunch break.  We did a sealing session.  It was nice to go together!

Friday I scalped the rest of our lawn, Spencer did 1/3 of it on Thursday night.  I don’t like scalping the lawn anymore, but Chad couldn’t do it this weekend because he had a camporee with Bryant and the scouts right after work that day and we’ve waited so late to do it this year I didn’t dare wait another week.  Hopefully next year Chad or the boys will scalp it all or we will hire someone to do it for us.  Friday evening I spread out all the seed and set the timer to water the lawn 4 times a day to keep the seeds wet so they’ll grow.  I hope by this time next week we will see lots of green grass shoots growing in our lawn.  I do love nice rye winter grass.  All the work of reseeding is definitely worth it.   

Saturday morning the girls and I went to a big, fun tri-stake preparedness fair.  They had several booths to learn different ways to be prepared and also carnival games for the kids and a pancake breakfast.  Spencer went to a ward service project that morning.--It was 12 and up or the girls and I would have gone too.--Chad and Bryant were at the Camporee I mentioned earlier.  After that we watched Karalee’s soccer game.  Karalee scored a goal on a penalty kick! …Or at least I thought she did until the end of the game when she told me it didn’t count because it was supposed to be an indirect penalty kick and she kicked it through all the players and it didn’t touch anyone.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing as direct and indirect penalty kicks!  I keep learning more about soccer and I love watching my kids play it.

Chad got home from the camporee around 1:30pm.  He had to leave early to be home for our stake conference priesthood leadership session.  He and I went to the adult 7:00pm session.  I played the organ.  I miss playing the organ each week.  After conference several couples met at a nearby restaurant for a late dinner.  It was a lot of fun.  We are so lucky to have such good friends in our ward and stake. 

Today I had to decide between going to my nephew Jake’s mission report or going to stake conference to see what counsel our stake presidency had for us.  Since we were able to attend to Jake’s luncheon today we decided to go to stake conference.  Conference was wonderful and I learned some great things.  Our stake president gave us 4 priorities he feels we need to work on:
1.      Family History
2.      Serving others
3.      Gathering Israel – Missionary work
4.      Being more temporally and spiritually self reliant
I wish I could have cloned myself so I could have heard Jake’s talk and attended stake conference too, especially since my sister-in-law Jennifer also spoke with Jake.  Luckily she sent me her talk and I got to read about her conversion story!  It was nice to visit with Jake and many family members at Jake’s luncheon.  It was held in Wynn and Kami’s neighbor’s beautiful back yard.  It had a very nice pool and Karalee wished she could go swimming in it.  She got her wish when my brother Tyler threw her in!  It was all in fun and she didn’t cry, which tells me she’s ok with it.  However, we’re helping her plot her revenge now so you better watch out Tyler!  Tithing settlement, a nap, a biscuit and gravy dinner, and a dessert and game night at Heather and Elliot’s filled up the rest of today, making a nice Sabbath day.

My quote for today is from a comment made in relief society last week when I was visiting Kayla’s ward in Huntington Beach.  “Make yourself mind yourself.  Sometimes your spirit and your body are at conflict and your spirit has to give your body a lecture.  Make your body mind your spirit.”



Sunday, October 9, 2016

Letter - Utah Arizona Fall Break Road Trip

October 9, 2016

October started out with a lot of fun.  We headed up to Utah on Friday, September 30th around 2:00pm, the kids had a ½ day of school to begin their two week Fall Break.  We drove as far as Kanab that night.  Since we don’t like to drive longer than 5-6 hours and since we were staying in a hotel the whole trip anyway we figured we’d split the drive up.  I’m so glad we did. 

Saturday, Oct. 1st we woke up and headed to Salt Lake.  We were able to listen to the 1st session of conference along the way.  We got to Salt Lake in time for a picnic with Brenda and most of Chad’s sibling who also were in Salt Lake.  It was fun to see family that we don’t get to see very often anymore since they moved away.  The cousins didn’t seem to miss a beat even though they’ve been apart for about a year.  I’m glad my kids have a relationship with their cousins, aunts and uncles.  Saturday afternoon we watched conference in the tabernacle.  Saturday evening Chad, Spencer, Bryant, Art, Aaron, Nick and Tyler went to the Priesthood session together and then went out to dinner to Chuck-o-rama.  Karalee, Marlee, Tilly and I went to dinner at Denny’s and we also went to Grandma Lisa’s (Art’s wife) house and helped make tamales.

I enjoyed the beautiful drive from Kanab to Salt Lake.  Southern Utah is beautiful.

Conference in the Tabernacle.

Chad is so handsome and so good.  I'm so lucky.
The guys at the Priesthood Session.

Sunday morning we watched the first session of conference in our hotel room.  Luckily that was our nicest room of the trip and it had two queen beds and a nice couch area too.  Sunday afternoon we went back to Art and Lisa’s condo and had a nice family dinner with several of Chad’s siblings and their families.  Lisa made us a wonderful roast dinner and also set up a pumpkin hunt for all the kids.  It was a nice time.  We helped wash dishes and clean up during part of the afternoon Sunday session and then went back to the hotel to watch.  Sunday evening we drove up to the This is the Place Park and had a good time looking at the statues and reading the inscriptions that told about their history.

All Chad's sisters and me at dinner at Art and Lisa's.

Chad's ancestor Lewis Barney was in the first company of Pioneer's to reach Salt Lake.  Spencer read the book about Lewis Barney and walked to honor him on our stake's pioneer trek this summer.

We got creative playing hide and seek in the hotel room.

Monday morning we headed to Springdale, UT which is right near Zion National Park.  We made a stop in Beaver on our way to Springdale to visit my niece NaElle and meet her new baby, my great niece, Tessa.  Tessa is beautiful like her Momma and it was fun to visit for a few minutes and see NaElle and Cody’s cute home.  We got to Springdale in time to do a short hike before it got dark.  I LOVED Zion’s park.  It is so beautiful.  It has given me a desire to visit more of the national parks near me. 

Two deer walked with us through town for awhile.  Marlee kept trying to go pet them.  Chad and I had to keep telling her that they were wild animals and that she needed to stay back so she wouldn't get hurt.

Tuesday morning Chad and the boys left around 7:30 to go hike Angel’s landing while the girls and I leisurely packed up our stuff and checked out of the hotel.  I was nervous for the boys to do that hike.  I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was worrying about it.  It has sheer drop offs with a narrow ledge with chains to hold onto.  After getting checked out, the girls and I headed to check out The Narrows and The Temple of Sinawava.  By the time we got the park entrance there was a long line for the shuttles so Chad and the boys were able to finish their hike by the time we got to their stop on the shuttle route, so they jumped on our shuttle with us.  Chad and Spencer really loved the Angel’s landing hike.  Bryant thought it was ok.  I think it might have been a little too strenuous for him.  Chad and the boys said it wasn’t as scary as they thought it would be after watching YouTube videos about it.  I hope I will get a chance to go hike it sometime, but I didn’t feel bad staying back with the girls who were all too young for that dangerous of a hike on this trip.  We hiked about 1 ½ -2 miles to see where the narrows started.  We didn’t go into them, because you have to walk through the creek and we didn’t want to get our shoes all wet or rent water hiking boots.   I’m not exactly sure what The Temple of Sinawava was supposed to be.  Probably the big mountain near the narrows.  After that we did one more small hike to see the weeping rock.  They boys were done hiking by that time, so we went back into town, grabbed a bite of lunch and then headed to Page for the night.  We drove through Zion National Park on our way to Page and it was an astonishingly beautiful drive.  I would like to drive it again sometime.

The beginning of the Narrows.

The drive through Zion National Park
Wednesday morning we packed up and headed to Antelope Point Marina where we rented a boat and a knee board for three hours.  The weather was a little chilly as we started out and so we drove the boat up through Navajo canyon to explore a little bit and to try to find the spot where Chad would camp when he was in young men’s with his scout troop.  I had forgotten how beautiful Lake Powell is.  After that it warmed up a little bit and we all, except Marlee and Tilly because they were too cold and/or too scared, took turns riding the knee board.  The water was a chilly 70 degrees and was quite cold at first, but we got used to it after a while.  The whole experience on the lake that day with Chad and the kids was SO much fun.  Chad and I both love Lake Powell and being on and playing in the water and now we’ve been able to experience it together with our kids.  I have fond memories of the trips to Lake Powell I went on with my parents and siblings and the Lake Powell trip Amy and I got to go on with Uncle Steve and Aunt Sharla and their family.  I want to plan a family trip to Lake Powell that lasts several days in a year or two.  Anyone want to go with us?  After we turned in the boat, we grabbed a late lunch and then headed to Flagstaff.

Our hotel room in Flagstaff was really cramped.  We were getting along fine … until one of the kids wet the air mattress they were sleeping on, getting their sibling wet.  We made it through the night … but I didn’t feel like I got much sleep.  That morning we went to the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course.  It was AWESOME.  Bryant really loved it and thought it was the best part of the trip.  Marlee and Karalee got to do the kids course.  Karalee was pretty scared at first, but she got braver as realized she was completely safe and liked it enough to do the course a 2nd time.  Tilly was sad, she wasn’t old enough to do it, but she had fun being in the forest and cheering us on.  I promised her we will go back when she is old enough to do it. 

We made it back home on Thursday evening in time to get laundry sorted and then Chad and I had to go to round table.  I was a little late to my session of round table because I was determined to get a load of laundry started.

Friday I didn’t do much other than laundry and to get our van ready to sell on Craig’s list.  We made our trip in our new to us Expedition EL.  The van, sat lonely in the garage wishing it was on one last trip with us.  I still miss several of the van’s nice features, but the Expedition is a nice big, comfy ride.

Yesterday I woke up with a bit of a sore throat and sinus trouble.  Luckily we didn’t have a lot to do.  I drove Spencer to mow his lawns so he wouldn’t have to ride his bike.  It was nice to unwind after our adventurous trip.

Today has been nice.  I still have a bit of a cold and a runny nose, but my throat doesn’t hurt.  Maybe it is allergies …or I got sick from the cold water at Lake Powell.  We had a nice sacrament meeting with wonderful testimonies.  I got to sit with Tilly’s class during her sharing time because her teacher was at a baby blessing.  Relief Society had a nice lesson about our commitment to God.  Chad has been away to meetings much of the day, but he still got to spend a few hours with us this afternoon and evening.  He was able to eat dinner with us and give each of the kids a PPI.  Now he’s at stake choir practice.  They needed him in the choir more than me because they didn’t have many men show up.  I will sit with the kids since they’re still a little too young to stay good during 2 hours of conference with Spencer in charge.

I sure have been traveling a lot lately.  Marlee and I went to flew to Disneyland on Sept. 26th with Brenda, Jennie, Lucy and Emma for Marlee’s, Emma’s and Lucy’s special 8 year old Disneyland trip with Grammy.  We had a nice day a Disneyland, slept, and then flew home Tuesday the 27th.  It was fun, but exhausting.  This coming Thursday, my girls and I are driving back to California with my Mom to attend Jaki’s baptism and Carli’s baby blessing.  We will drive back on Sunday.  The kids go back to school and Chad flies to Orlando for work meetings on Monday.

My quote for today is from our relief society lesson.  “Religion is more than a knowledge of God or a confession of faith, and it is more than theology. Religion is the doing of the word of God. It is being our brother’s keeper, among other things. …We can be religious in worship on the Sabbath day, and we can be religious in our duties on the other six days of the week. … [How] important it must be that all of our thoughts, the words we speak, our acts, conduct, dealings with neighbors, business transactions, and all of our everyday affairs be in harmony with our religious beliefs” (



Bonus Pictures ... As if there weren't enough pictures in this post already. 
My nephew Jake returned from his mission to Toronto Canada Sept. 28th.  
I got a new haircut on Sept. 29th.  I love it.