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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Conference Store - Our Favorite General Conference Tradition

Conference Store
Use conference cash to purchase snacks and treats from the conference store.

Ideas for your conference store:
  • small piece of candy $1
  • gatorade $5
  • cookie $2
  • soda $5
  • candy bar $6
  • fruit by the foot $3
  • can of Pringles $10
  • small bag of chips or chex mix $3
  • markers $6
  • coloring book $4
  • Ritz cheese and crackers handi-snacks $3
Play around with the prices and items.  You want your kids to be able to earn fun stuff, but you don't want them to eat so many snacks and treats that they will get sick. 

How to earn Conference Cash:

·        Take notes on the General Conference Journal Page.  You can earn $1 in conference cash for every talk if you write down:
a)   the name of the speaker, 
b)  what the talk was about, 
c)   and if you are present, reverent and quiet during the whole talk.  
You have to do all of these things to get $1.  

·        You can earn $2 in conference cash for writing about your favorite part of the session on your journal page.

·        You can earn $2 in conference cash for writing about how this session taught you to follow Jesus on your journal page.

·        Your mom or dad may randomly give out conference cash if you are very reverent during the prayers and/or if you sing nicely during the rest hymn.

·        Younger kids who can't write get conference cash for quietly playing while listening.  Fun quiet activities include: coloring (HERE are some fun coloring pages to print out),  find the hidden pictures, play doh, dolls, blocks, legos, etc.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Traveloge of my Alaska Cruise with Mom

This portion was written on Sunday, September 3, 2017

Saturday- Departure from Seattle
I woke up at 3:20am, ahead of my alarm, to get ready to catch our 6:15am flight to Seattle. I didn't sleep very well. I generally don't sleep well when I have an important early event to wake up for the next day. As I try to fall asleep I start to worry that I haven't fallen asleep yet and that I really need some sleep and my mind keeps me up most of the night telling myself I need more sleep. It would be comical if I weren't so tired.

After I got ready, I went to wake up Chad to take me to the airport. He was already awake and was not feeling well. The chicken fried steak he had a Village Inn on our date the night before was not agreeing with him. (I could be perfectly happy in life never eating at a Village Inn again; except their pies are ok.) Chad threw up and then felt well enough to leave. I felt badly leaving when he was sick.

By 3:50am Chad and I were on our way to Mom's Granny flat to pick her up to go to the airport. The flight was very nice and calm. As we neared Seattle I loved looking out at the lay of the land. It was so green with many small lakes dotting the countryside. Very beautiful.

After Mom and I landed we purchased shuttle bus tickets to the cruise port. The drive through Seattle was charming. Seattle reminds me a little bit of San Francisco. I noticed the space needle that was built several years ago for a world’s fair. (I read a book awhile back that was set in the time and place of the Chicago world's fair. ...I now have a new bucket list item to attend a world's fair.) There was also a charming Farris wheel and an aquarium right on the waterfront. Our bus driver was nice to point out many interesting sites as we drove.

After some waiting, and walking through several lines we got on the ship around 11:30am. Since our rooms were not ready and since we had skipped breakfast, we headed to the buffet.

We spent most of the day exploring and getting our bearings on the ship. At 3:30pm we had the required muster drill. At 4:30pm we had a meeting with the LDS Cruise Lady group; Cruise Lady is the travel agency we used to book our tickets. Our special guests on the trip are Marvin Goldstein, a famous lds pianist, and Vanessa Joy, an lds singer.--I have a few of Marvin Goldstein's piano solo books.  Spencer is currently learning a piano solo out of one of his books to play in sacrament meeting in November.

There are a handful of couples from Snowflake in our cruise lady group. There are even some my own age--Josh and Misty Brimhall are here with their oldest son who is to leave on his mission in a couple of weeks. I thought I would by far be the youngest in the group.

We have several tables at dinner time in the dining room for our cruise lady group. We have been able to visit and make connections with several in the group.

Last night Mom and I were going to attend a show in the main theatre but as we were waiting we got too sleepy from waking up so early and we opted to go to our room, read a little bit and go to bed early. We were in bed by about 9:30pm.

It has been fun to spend time with Mom, but as she said to someone in the group, "it is more fun to travel with your husband."  I miss Chad and wish he was seeing and experiencing this adventure with me.

Sunday- day at sea
I woke up just before 7:00am this morning. It was very nice to get enough sleep. I did wake up several times through the night, but was able to get back to sleep without trouble.

I had a nice little stroll around the cruise ship this morning while Mom slept in. It was nice to breathe and feel the sea air. It was foggy so I couldn't see any sights. I don't know if we're close enough to see the coast anyway. I ate breakfast alone since Mom has decided to fast today since it is fast Sunday. ...I plan to fast next week when I'm at home.

Mom and I saw a presentation called "this is Alaska" at 10:00am. I'm excited for the things we will see and our excursions. We skipped out of that presentation at 10:30 to go to our cruise lady "lecture at sea". Marvin Goldstein shared his conversion story. He converted from the Jewish faith. He shared with us that Elder Marvin J. Ashton called him and set him apart to be a lifelong missionary for the church. Marvin and Vanessa performed a lot of beautiful music for us. I really like Marvin's piano solo arrangement of "Where Can I Turn for Peace" and "Beautiful Savior". I asked him if his has those two pieces for sale. He said he didn't but he will bring a big folder with all his music with him to our devotional this afternoon and see if he has those two pieces in the folder.

This portion was written on Monday, September 4, 2017

Sunday afternoon- Sea day
Yesterday afternoon I ate lunch in the Tsar's palace dining room while Mom napped. The dining room serves better food than the buffet so I like to eat in there.

Mom and I read the books we brought with us in the ship's library. It was cozy in there and we had a nice view of the ocean as we sailed.

At 4:00pm we had another nice show from Marvin Goldstein and Vanessa Joy. Marvin played medleys from Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music and Phantom of the Opera. Sadly they have Marvin playing on an electronic piano. He plays it beautifully but it would be so much better on a real piano. He is working with the cruise ship to see if they'll let him perform on one of their good pianos. Currently his performances are private just for our cruise lady group. They reserved the conference room for us and that is where we meet.

At 5:30pm we had our formal dinner in Tsar's palace. We have met severe nice people in our group, including a Whipple cousin of Mom's. His name is Dale Whipple.  He and Mom share the same great grandfather Edson Whipple. He got our information and wants us to go to Buhrley, Idaho to see the Whipple museum he has there. He is the oldest son of the oldest son of the oldest son so he has lots of family things. He is 88 years old and is on his honeymoon. He was remarried last week. His mind is very sharp, but he has to ride a scooter to get around. He was high up in the Toyota company before he retired.

After dinner I saw a whale!  It was foggy most of the day so we couldn't see much, but in the evening it cleared up so I spent time looking for whales. The whale didn't surface very far, but it did a little and when I kept watching to make sure I really did see a whale I saw it spray water out of its blow hole two times. It was pretty cool. I'm very excited for our whale watching tour in Juneau on Tuesday.

Monday - Ketchikan, AK
I woke up around 7:30am and headed up on deck to call home. I couldn't talk to the family at all yesterday when we were at sea. Chad and I had a nice visit. I told him about my adventures and then told him we shouldn't take trips without each other anymore. I wish he was here to share these experiences with me.

Mom and I had breakfast in the buffet. I ran a little in the gym and then after I got dressed and ready for the day we headed out to see Ketchikan. We signed up for a wildlife tour. I saw a bear, an eagle's nest, an eagle as we were driving, totem poles, and salmon swimming upstream. It was fascinating watching the salmon jump and struggle to swim upstream. Our tour guide told us that salmon will return to the same stream and the same spot where they were born to lay their eggs. When salmon are born in a hatchery and then released, the salmon will return back to the hatchery after living their life in the ocean.

After the tour I walked around town a bit and bought some t-shirts and souvenirs for the kids while Mom went back to the ship to relax.

At 4:00pm which is in about 20 minutes, we will have another concert from Marvin and Vanessa. Our ship will pull out of Ketchikan shortly and we stop in Juneau tomorrow.

This portion was written on Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Monday Afternoon - Heading to Juneau
I noticed a camera interview going on in the library when I walk passed. I decided to photo bomb it. I walked passed it two more times. The first time I did a very weak Sasquatch then I did a Richard Nixon. I think my kids would be very proud.

When my Mom goes to our cabin to rest I like to go stand on the top deck and look at the beautiful countryside. Tonight I saw the moon was bright and cast a big reflection on the water. There were little tree covered islands not too far across the water. And a foggy mist was all along the water and coming down off the islands. I wish I could paint it. It was so beautiful. I spend a lot of time alone on this trip since my Mom likes to read and relax more than walk around town when we stop. This time alone has been ok though.

Mom and I watched Marvin and Vanessa's performance that the ship invited them to do. Sadly it was still on an electronic keyboard, but it was still a nice performance.

I stayed up until 1:00pm reading my book. I'm reading "I Capture the Castle." I didn't quite finish it because I realized it was getting so late.

Tuesday - Juneau
This morning I woke up earlier than I wanted and couldn't get back to sleep. I finally decided to go eat and workout before we left to our whale watching tour. I called Chad and the kids and I watched the boat dock in Juneau before eating and exercising. Juneau is so beautiful. It was a nice clear morning. We've been very lucky to have sunny days yesterday and today. Sunny days are very rare in this part of the country.

Our whale watching tour started at 8:45am. It was a fun tour, but pretty cold and foggy. I wished I had put my hoodie underneath my wind breaker. We saw three whales. It was exciting.

After the tour we came back and ate lunch as the ship left Juneau. Mom went back to the room after lunch to nap and read. She just told me as she was heading back to the room she scored a free 10 minute chair massage at the spa. That's lucky! I stayed up on the top deck. I found a quiet deck with padded lounge beds. Several people were taking naps. I noticed an empty bed and joined the nappers.

When I woke up I saw another whale from the ship. I spent all the rest of the afternoon up on deck as we went up a fjord to see some glaciers.  The main glacier we saw was the Endecott glacier.  The drive up the fjord was so beautiful. I stayed out there past time to start dinner. I saw many waterfalls cascading down the mountain, otters in the water and seals on the small icebergs in the water.  I sat next to a family from Georgia. They were so nice and we became friends.

After we got to the glacier and turned around I joined mom at dinner. The dining room was pretty empty since most everyone was still out on deck to see the glacier and scenery.  When we started the dessert course people started to file in. We had a fun visit with Shawn and Dicey Palmer and Josh and Misty Brimhall. Shawn told us some funny stories about Vern Turley from when Shawn was in junior high, including a rattlesnake that got loose in the classroom, a prank Vern played on Mrs. Farr, and a good natured fight between Vern and Melvin DeWidt that got so intense they started wrestling on the ground and made holes in the knees of their slacks and bloodied up their arms because no one would give in. We visited until after 9:00pm.

Now it is 10:00pm and we are listening to another performance by Marvin and Vanessa. They got invited to play by the ship’s crew again. This time on a real piano. It makes a big difference.

This portion was written on Thursday, September 7, 2017

Wednesday- Skagway
I slept in until after 8:00. I missed talking to the older kids before they left to school since I slept so long. I called and talked to Tilly. She spoke for a couple sentences and then said, "Ok bye". She doesn't like to talk on the phone for very long.

Mom didn't want to leave the ship yesterday. She walked quite a bit on Monday and Tuesday and was tired. Since we are at sea all day today and don't have a chance to get off the ship, and since Celeste said Skagway was her favorite stop when she went on the family Alaskan cruise, I went out to see Skagway on my own.

I got off the ship around 9:30am after eating breakfast and running 3 miles on the treadmill in the gym.  I booked a 90 minute "summit express tour" for 1:15pm. I went back onto the ship to see if I could convince my Mom to go on the tour with me since it was such a good price. I almost had her convinced and she got up and got some money for me to go book her a ticket as well, then she changed her mind at the last second. Since I had some time to kill I walked into town around 10:00am. The walk was close to a mile.  After looking in some shops I stopped at the Klondike national park office. They had a free 25 minute video there that told about the Klondike Gold rush. It was fantastic.

Then I walked back to the ship to have a little lunch before my tour. Then I walked back into town at 1:00 and found out they overbooked my tour and they asked me to wait until the 3:15pm tour. I was kind of bugged, but I understood. The tour company offered to give me a free Trolley tour through town while I waited for the 3:15 summit express tour, but I wanted to let mom know I was going to be leaving on my tour much later than planned. So I didn't go on the free tour. Instead I walked back to the ship to let my mom know about the change.

I rested a little bit in the room with mom but I couldn't sleep so I went to have a snack and kill time until the tour started. Then I walked back into town for the 3:15 tour. It was a really interesting tour. (If you're counting, I walked 5 miles going to and from town. Add that to my morning run and I put in 8 miles yesterday. I was fine but I sure didn't plan on walking that much that day.) The tour guide told lots of interesting stories about individuals who took part in the Klondike gold rush. Sadly we were in heavy fog until we got to the summit where we were above the fog, so I didn't get to see as much scenery as I would have liked.  The summit lakes area was beautiful. On the way back down the mountain I got to see some waterfalls and take a picture by the welcome to Alaska sign since we had crossed into Canada on our way up to the summit.

Mom and I ate dinner with the cruise lady group at 5:30. After dinner we went back to our room to read for the rest of the night. I didn't even go up for my nightly crepe. (The buffet serves fresh crepes every night. They are delicious.)

Thursday- at sea
Today we will be at sea all day as we make our way to Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. This morning I have hung out with Josh and Misty Brimhall, Shawn Palmer (his wife Dicey was reading or something else) and Lenny and Margie Owens, a couple from Mesa. Bro. Owens is originally from Show Low. He's a neat guy. We played games in the ship's game room. Sis.Owen's taught us a fun card game called trash. I think my kids will love it.

This afternoon Mom and I hung out in the "atrium". We listened to music and visited with a couple from Pittsburgh. They were very nice and the man made mom and me each a rose out of a napkin. He was very sweet.

This portion was written on September 9, 2017

Thursday evening Mom and I watched Marvin and Vanessa perform in the Atrium for the whole ship. A professional violinist from Brazil who was also a passenger on the ship also performed with them. He was great. The whole performance was wonderful. We had lots of talented musicians on the ship and it was so nice of the ship to allow them to perform for us.

After the performance and dinner, Mom and I went to our room to read. I was still full from dinner so I skipped getting a crepe again.

Friday- Victoria, British Columbia Canada.
We didn't arrive in Victoria until about 2pm. I can't remember what we did that morning. In Victoria Mom and I went with the cruise lady group to tour Butchart Gardens. We left right as soon as the boat docked. Butchart Gardens was AMAZING!!  The beauty was unbelievable. It was like the Garden of Eden. Mom liked the gardens, but didn't like all the walking. I told her I would push her in a wheelchair, but she didn't want to do that. The tour bus driver showed us some interesting sites and gave us good history of the area. It was a wonderful tour.  We got back to ship around 9:00pm.  We had a late dinner and visiting at the buffet with the Owens and the Brimhalls.

Saturday – Going home
This morning we arrived in Seattle. I realized Mom and I could probably leave on the 11:45am flight instead of the 3:35pm flight we booked. I called Alaska airlines and they had room to move us to earlier flight so we got everything packed up, ate breakfast, and headed toward the airport.

I am finishing up this travelogue in midair. I'm so excited to see Chad and the kids. It has been a very fun vacation with Mom, but I don't think I want to travel without Chad for this long ever again. Chad wrote me a very sweet email the other night letting me know he loved me and missed me. It meant a lot to me.

Mom and I did not get sea sick at all on the trip, but now that I am on land I have been feeling a little woozy and like I’m rocking on a boat.  We had fantastic weather for the whole trip.  We only had light rain half of the day while in Skagway.  We were very lucky.

Our landing was a bit rough.  We had turbulence and had to pull up and circle around and try landing again.  The 2nd time there was still turbulence, but we made it safely on the ground.  It sure made me nervous though.  We had to walk a lot today.  Mom did just fine though.  I realized that when I travel with Chad we can zip places quickly.  When he walks fast I almost have to jog to keep up.  My Mom goes at a slower pace, kind of the opposite of traveling with Chad.  I enjoyed the slower pace though.  I am sure glad we got to go on this trip together.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Printable for President Nelson's Challenge - References of Jesus Christ in the Topical Guide

So in General Conference President Nelson talked about a challenge to read and underline every verse cited about Jesus Christ, as listed under the main heading and the 57 subtitles in the Topical Guide of the scriptures. Yesterday my Stake President reissued that challenge to our stake. So... Here goes.

If anyone is interested, I made this printable version of all the verses mentioned in the challenge because I don't want to have to flip back and forth to the topical guide so much. I've done the flipping back and forth before in previous studying and having a printout will be much easier.

Or copy and paste this link:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Letter - Blessings usually require some form of work

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Last Sunday evening I didn’t write because we were in Snowflake for the beginning of spring break, Ray and Kya’s reception, and Molly’s mission report.  It was fun to be in Snowflake for Sunday night visiting with my family.  I wish I could be there every week for the Sunday night visiting… but I really do like living in Gilbert.  I would probably like living in Snowflake too.

Monday morning Chad and I took the kids to Flagstaff to begin what I am now calling our “Northern Arizona Tour”.  Our first stop was Walnut Canyon.   We hiked and admired the ruins of the cliff dwellers that lived there. 

Tuesday morning we tried to go hike around the lava river tube caves, but the road was closed because of snow and we didn’t feel like the kids could handle the 3 mile hike to the caves from the road, so instead we headed to the Grand Canyon sooner than we had planned.  When we got to Tusayan, I saw their National Geographic IMAX Theater and remembered how cool that IMAX video was when my parents took me and my siblings to see it.  So we stopped at that building to buy our park pass and watch the IMAX film.  It was as cool as I remembered, it reminds me of the ride Soarin’ over California at Disney California Adventure, but I didn’t remember that it had topless native women for the first part of the movie as it went through the history of the people who lived near the canyon.  I’m sure my boys will encounter more than what the film showed if they serve a mission in a different country.  Hopefully it didn’t damage my kids’ minds too much. 

Wednesday we drove over to Sedona for a jeep tour.  I wasn’t very impressed with the tour.  It was really just like driving on bumpy ranch roads when I was young.  For the money it cost, we would have enjoyed going back to the Flagstaff Extreme ropes course more than the jeep tour.  Now we know.  After the jeep tour the kids and I hiked up Bell Rock in Sedona.  It was a really fun hike.  Chad didn’t hike with us because the parking lot was clear full and there was nowhere for him to park, so he drove over to our hotel and checked in while we hiked.

Thursday we finished our Northern Arizona tour with a stop at the Montezuma Castle ruins on our way home.  They were cool.  

Our vacation was very pleasant and I’m very grateful we were able to go on a trip and spend some time together with no work or duties other than loving each other.

I’m slowly adjusting back out of vacation mode, but luckily we have another week of spring break before we have to go back to school and all our regular activities.  We will have a busy week at home this week though because we are getting our home painted and we have to get everything off the walls and move the furniture into the middle of the rooms.  I’m not looking forward to all that work, but I am looking forward to the clean home I will have as we clean and dejunk each room and the walls that will be freshly painted.  Blessings usually require some form of work.  

My quote for today is from an article a Facebook friend shared.  “There are those who struggle, feeling that they don’t have a home in the Church because they aren’t ‘good enough.’  Wearing our sins on our sleeves could give some comfort that they are not alone in this fight, but finding camaraderie and comfort in our sins is not a great motivator to cast them away from us.  My sins are between me and God, and are hopefully things that will be overcome – not things that should define who I am. So am I a fraud for putting my ‘best-self” forward when you see me on Sunday – or any other day of the week?(I would acknowledge that one important element in addiction support groups is that there is an openness for participants to acknowledge their struggles, and find strength with each other. I am not referring to these private support groups, and I heartily endorse them.)”

I like that quote.  I think it is important to do our best to find a balance between sharing our struggles when it could help someone, but also being careful not to find camaraderie and comfort in our sins so much that we don’t repent of them.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Letter - New Calling, Pinewood Derby

February 5, 2017

It has been a nice week.  Monday I watched my friend Sunny’s daughter.  She slept for three and a half hours during the morning and then I took her went shopping at Costco with Tilly and me after lunch.  She was pretty easy to watch. 

Tuesday morning I went to visit Puring for her birthday.  She seems happy.  Tuesday and Wednesday nights I helped with our ward’s pinewood derby weigh ins.  Sadly I had to miss Spencer’s basketball game in Coolidge. 

Wednesday after school Marlee had her 3rd art lesson.  I hired Miranda Moulton, a laurel in our ward, to teach Marlee art lessons since Marlee does not want to play soccer or any other sports.  She LOVES her lessons and has been working hard to do her chores everyday so she could have them.  Miranda is a great teacher and comes with good projects for Marlee to learn and work on. 

Thursday morning I had Cub Scout round table.  I’ll be honest.  It was boring.  I do not love round table, but my former stake president promised us while referring specifically to round table that if we are where we are supposed to be, when we are supposed to be there, we will receive revelation that we may be seeking in other areas of our life.  So I go to round table when I have a scout calling.  Thursday night Bryant had his first football game.  His team lost, but not by much.  They have improved a great deal since their scrimmage two weeks ago.  Sadly, Bryant didn’t get to play at all.  He might not get much playing time this year since it is a 7th and 8th grade team and there are four 8th graders who are bigger than him who also play tight end.  I told him to keep hustling in practice and show the coaches what he can do.

Friday morning Chad, Tilly and I went to flag ceremony at the girls’ school since Marlee was named student of the month for her class.  I’m so proud of her and I’m happy she received the award.  She is such a sweet girl.  Friday night Spencer had a basketball game at ALA.  I told him if he got 10 rebounds during the game I would take him to get a Blizzard at Dairy Queen.  He got 8 rebounds, which is a big improvement for him.  He has three games this coming week before his season is over to see if he can get 10 rebounds in a game and earn a Blizzard. 

Yesterday my sister-in-law Jen and I went to a free painting class at the Queen Creek Library.  We were taught how to paint flowers.  It was really fun.  I couldn’t believe how great a class it was and it was completely free, including all the supplies.   There were so many spots left open too.  I hope I can go again sometime.  Thank you for going with me Jen!  I have developed a lot for painting and art.  Someday I hope to take lessons.  I guess I could have Miranda teach me too, but I don’t want to take over Marlee’s lessons.

Yesterday evening was our ward pinewood Derby.  Chad was asked to make a slow car to ensure that all the boys would win a race.  He named it Fast Money.  It is pretty cool.  It was the slowest car at the races, so he did what he set out to do!  The bishop was also there with his slow car and he and Chad got to race their cars with the boys and talk trash and stuff.  It was fun for them and the boys.  I enjoyed the evening a lot.  I made little candy race car awards for the boys.  They were fun to make.

Today I got a new calling, I still have my cub scout calling and won’t be released from it, but now I am also the Sunday school teacher for the 12 year olds!!  I’m so excited about it.  I get to teach Bryant.  There are 16 kids in our class.  They are a very good class.  Now that my calling is official, I had each of the kids fill out a “favorite things” questionnaire that I made up for my YW so I could get to know what their favorite treats, snacks, foods, hobbies, etc. are.  That way I get to know them better and I can take them their favorite treats on their birthdays and/or when they may be struggling or something like that.  A Sunday school teacher may be the greatest calling in the church.  You get to work with the youth, but you don’t have to plan mutual so you’re not so busy.

It is pretty cool that Chad got to give me my new church calling.  He also got to set me apart today.   Chad asked me if I would accept the calling on Tuesday or Wednesday morning after he was all dressed up and in a suit ready to go to work.  He walked in the kitchen and said, “Oh by the way will you accept a calling to teach the 12 year old Sunday school class” before he headed out to work.  He knew I would accept because I told him a few times I would love to teach that class if the bishopric didn’t have someone else they thought should teach it.  The bishop told me today that Chad let them know that I wanted to teach the class, but that wasn’t why I got the calling.  He said they felt like I was the person the Lord wanted to teach that class.  It is always very reassuring to know the Lord is behind you in your calling.    

My quotes for today are from lesson three in President Hinckley Relief Society/Priesthood manual. 
“There is also in our society a sad tendency among many of us to belittle ourselves. Other persons may appear to us to be sure of themselves, but the fact is that most of us have some feelings of inferiority. The important thing is not to talk to yourself about it. … The important thing is to make the best of all that we have.”

I love that he counsels us not to talk to ourselves about how we feel inferior to others.  We need to silence our negative self-talk and do the best of what we can do.


Sunday, January 29, 2017


Sunday, January 29, 2017

The past few weeks have gone well.  I haven’t felt too busy, but thankfully I have had enough or created enough to do to keep from feeling bored, helping me feel like my life is worthwhile.

Thursday the 19th, Chad and I went out to dinner with Demetrious, one of Chad’s loan officers, and his wife Stefania.  Demetrious asked Chad if he and Stefania could take us out to dinner to thank Chad for hiring him a little over a year ago.  He is very grateful for the job, especially since he wasn’t super qualified for it.  He has been a great loan officer.  He works hard and has done very well.  They and their two kids went to church with us on Christmas day.  Demetrious also went to our ward meat fest that we hosted in our yard on the 21st and Stefani went with me to our RS activity on Thursday.  They are so nice and we plan to invite them to take lessons from the missionaries soon.  I’m glad that we have become friends.

Spencer had two basketball games this week.  Chad and I really enjoy watching him play.  He is developing into a quite a good player.  His team hasn’t won very many games, but they are a JV team made up of mostly freshman.  They only have 1 junior, who doesn’t play much, and 2 sophomores, who do play a lot.  They rest of the team is comprised of freshman.  Hopefully next year they will be able to win more games when they are an older team.

I got a Facebook message from my cousin Sterling Skouson--I wrote a little about him two weeks ago in my letter.  He asked if he could meet me and take me out to lunch.  (I know it is sad that as cousins we don’t really know much about each other, but he is 25-30 years older than me and so we don’t know each other well.)  I must have made an impression on him when I bore my testimony to him over Facebook.  I didn’t see his message with the lunch invitation until it was about 10 days old, but I accepted.  He hasn’t responded since then though.  I told Chad that I really feel like I need to have him go to lunch with us too, for a little backup, in case my cousin starts trying to get me to leave the church.  I’ve spoken to my Mom about it and she’s been worried for me too.  She called to warn me that we aren’t on the same side of the line.  I’ll have to set some boundaries in my mind and if he crosses them I’ll have to change the subject or something. 

Friday night Chad and I attended a fireside broadcast for parents of youth in our area.  Elder Ballard and Elder Rasband and a couple other general authorities spoke.  It was great.  There was some counsel given that was so simple, but so profound and made so much sense.  It was cool to see members of the quorum of the twelve in a less formal, very candid setting.  I learned so much about how to be a better parent to my teenagers.  If you’re interested, you can read my notes HERE.

Yesterday morning I got a haircut, just a little trim.  I enjoy getting my hair cut and having it styled.  It is so relaxing.  Yesterday late afternoon Chad and I went out to eat with our friends Jeff and Sunny Moody again.  They are sure fun and are great friends.  Sunny has to have major surgery tomorrow and I’ll be watching her 7 month old daughter for her all day.  She wanted to go out since she will have a long recovery and will be unable to get around for about a month or so.  We are praying for her. 

Last night Chad and the boys had a fireside broadcast for youth and leaders with Elder Ballard and Elder Rasband.  I kind of wish I could have gone.  Chad said it was kind of similar to the broadcast for the parents though.

Today I got to sub Bryant’s Sunday school class today.  I love the Come, Follow Me curriculum.  It fosters great discussions and allows the youth to participate in the lessons really well.  This evening I sang in a quartet for a fireside for the prison branch ministry--those who serve in the prison branch presidency and for the mentors, letter writers, etc.  I was glad to be asked to sing at it.  I really enjoy singing in quartets and/or trios.  We sang a nice arrangement of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.  I feel like it went well and sounded beautiful.

My quote for today is from footnote #62 Brian K. Ashton's Oct. 2016 conference talk The Doctrine of Christ.  (His talk has a bazillion footnotes, and there are some really good quotes in those footnotes.)  “One might frequently bring the same sacrifice [to the sacrament table] for weeks at a time until, with the help of the Savior, and as Neal A. Maxwell taught, 'it [is] consumed'"  I love that. We just have to try to be a little better each day! No comparing ourselves to each other, just comparing our current-self to our past-self.  I can work on being a more patient mother every week as I take the sacrament.  It is ok to have the same problem week after week as long as I'm continually trying to improve with the Lord's help.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Notes from Fireside for parents of youth with Elder Ballard and Elder Rasband - Jan. 27, 2017

Fireside for parents of youth - Jan. 27, 2017

The first part of the fireside the general authorities answered questions that had been submitted ahead of time.  The last part of the fireside the general authorities responded to questions from the congregation.

Opening Remarks

Elder M. Russell Ballard:
A Big challenge of our day is spiritual apathy.

How to overcome apathy:
Basic fundamentals -- prayer, family prayer, scriptures, FHE and family council -- are how we overcome spiritual apathy. Don't get distracted. Remember what our purpose here is. Keep in mind where it is we are trying to go and what we are trying to become.

Technology is a real enemy to family life.

A father is always a father and so it is with a mother. To kids, grandkids and great grandkids. That is the promised blessing.

Answers to submitted questions

Elder Rasband:
How to help youth deal with social media?
Teenagers involvement with social media:
Be familiar with the strength of youth pamphlet. "If you're not sure if something is not appropriate, talk to your parents and leaders." Know the contents of the booklet!!

Don't get them to stop using Facebook and Instagram, be prepared to communicate with them on social media. As members of the church we are at war with Satan--think war chapters in Book of Mormon. Read the ward chapters again. Alma chapter 43:30: stratagem!!! Parents & leaders need to strategize to defeat the enemy use prayer, counseling. Bring up questions in church councils and family councils.  Joseph Smith was a youth asking a question. The Savior is the at the heart of every answer to every question.

There are lots of music downloads available on youth section of The church is trying to meet the youth in the social media they are already at. Be where the youth are. He is avoiding the terminology that social media is the plague of our day.

Find the good uses of internet technology.

He told the story of the youth during King Benjamin’s time that fell away because they didn’t understand the teachings of their parents.  We parents need to be inspired and through strategizing so we can raise our children to understand and believe in the words of us, their parents.

Elder Robbins:
Dedicate - 1 FHE per month to strength of youth pamphlet.

Scriptures are a parenting manual. The councils we have now are War councils since we are at war with Satan.

How do you help children when their self-worth is tied to the internet?
1.when their self-worth is ties to number of likes they get on their posts  2. When they unrealistically compare their bodies to false images that have been airbrushed and edited. 3. When they see that everyone else is posting their "A" material and they have to deal with their lowest points and trials.

Parenting principles -
1. youth are trying to find their identity on the internet. They can find that on family search. Help them spend more time on that. Know our history. Our history is our identity.  This will increase self worth.
2. The more time youth spend on the internet, the lower their self-worth will be. D&C 88:124- cease to be idle. Section 88 was like a New year's resolution to the church, it was given at the end and beginning of a New Year. When we spend too much time on the internet then the excess time of what is needful is considered idleness. Go to bed early rising early. Revelation comes early. We will find greater self-worth as we go to bed earlier and wake up early and spend less time on the internet.
3. Praise kids and find them doing something right. Catch your children doing something right. Reflecting the principle from Heavenly Father --this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. It takes effort to find kids doing something right – but that is a quality of a perfect parent.

Elder Costa:
How do you talk to your child about Pornography without sparking curiosity or interest? How to protect them from porn?
1. Gone are the days where your kids will not be exposed to pornography. Gone are the days where you can assume they haven’t been exposed to it.
2. Personal father interviews are a way to find out what's really going on. There is Power in a father son/ mother daughter interview. Identify the difference between a pattern and an incident-- In the interviews you need to discern that. Incidents can be healed by close monitoring by parents, but for patterns the course of action is different.
3. His family rule for using electronic devices that he adopted from his daughter’s mission rule--Turn on your electronic device, only after your intention is clear. Determine what you will be doing on the internet. These days we turn on our phone right when we wake up and we don't know what we're turning it on for. Turn it on with a purpose then turn it off.
4. Hope!  There is hope. You can get rid of those images you've been exposed too.

Elder Ballard: was chairman on missionary board when preach my gospel was released. 

How to prepare youth to serve missions?

Preparing Youth serving missions-- starts very early. Starts in developing a spirit of missionary service in the ward. Know who the friends of your children are. Encourage seminary and the programs of the church because it puts good people together. Youth need to get a job, to earn some money.
**They need to know how to work. Teach the kids how to take care of things and their territory in their homes. When they leave a mess you can teach, “That's not the way we do things in our family” and teach that they need to know how to take care of things for themselves their whole lives.
**Kids need to Read the Book of Mormon from cover and be able to testify that it is true. Be willing to pay the price necessary to testify of it.
**Sit with your children and ask them to bear their testimony to you about who Jesus Christ is. Help them learn who he is. Help them be able to respond to anyone who he is.
**be able to withstand a secular world.
**these days they have to be the best teachers of the doctrine of Christ in the history of the church because they have to cut through so much.
**go through the whole preach my gospel manual.
**get in their minds and hearts the value of one soul. To do that, help them know the Savior's mission in gethsemane. They will see those they meet on their mission as a son or daughter or God.
**Simple steps but take them and take them early.

Questions from the Congregation Portion

How can we help family members who have fallen away because of learning that Joseph Smith being sealed to so many young women?
Elder Ballard:  We have no idea what relationship Joseph Smith had with those young women he was sealed too. Once people lose sight of their purpose and they start going to google and the blogosphere they can lose their testimony. Ask them how long has it been since they’ve read from the Book of Mormon? Give the Lord equal time!!  When you get in the devils side to find info and start neglecting scriptures you lose your testimony. Stay anchored to the teachings of the gospel in the standard works.  Read the church’s material about polygamy and the subject.

What advice would you have for blended families and kids have to go to another home where they aren't not members?
Elder Robbins: teach them to be self-reliant and how to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. They need to know how to make decisions on their own with reliance on the Holy Ghost. The perfect parent never forces His children. Story from church news—Son says: “Dad I'm not going to church today.”  Dad says: “You don't have to tell me that, it's not my church. Get down on your knees and tell that to Heavenly Father. It's His church.” ** Lead your kids to the crossroads where the Holy Ghost can direct them.

To what extent do we encourage our young women to serve missions?
Elder Costa: Young men have a priesthood duty, but for the sisters it is an invitation. The Holy Ghost will guide that decision. Just let her decide.
Elder Rasband: As a mission president he loved to have the sisters serve missions. They raise things up.

How to explain to a family member why a child with gay parents can't be baptized if they have family support?
Elder Rasband: Church doesn't want to get in the way of families. The gay parents are in the decision making process of those children and they church doesn't want to cause friction.  Read the releases the church put out about that subject.

Closing remarks

Elder Rasband:
Stand in Holy Places and go forward without fear.

Elder Ballard:
Take a few minutes tonight, to think about your own life. If there is anything that is going on that hadn't ought to be, take care of it so the Holy Ghost can be your guide and so you can answer questions of kids and family members. We need to do all we can to be worthy of the Holy Ghost.

Give sacrament meeting the dignity and reverence it deserves.

In your family, be candid and open and honest.

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.