Sunday, November 28, 2010

My new calling

So, my last post (other than the gazillion today) was about being really upset.

Now, I can talk about it.  I've been learning a few life lessons over the past few weeks and working through it, I'm almost there.

After 2.5 years, I've been released from being the primary chorister.
While I loved it some days more than others, I've truly LOVED serving in this position (calling) at church.  Really.  At first, I didn't think I would, and then my sister told me how much fun she has with it and helped me with some resources and ideas and suddenly, I realized that I could pretty much go where I wanted to go and really have fun teaching the kids to sing.  (And everyone said that they kids sang better in this program than they'd ever heard them sing before).  

We've worn silly costumes, wigs, hats, dress ups, polka-dots.  We've passed the potato, popped balloons, discoed, thrown balls around, done the chicken dance, done detective work, played american idol, played instruments, gone caroling down the halls, and taken field trips.  We've sung every imaginable way including like a country singer, an opera singer, a grandma, a grandpa, underwater, staccato...oh I could go on and on.  We've bowled, played baseball, done scientific experiments, made cookies, spun the teacher...

We've learned that Heavenly Father and Jesus love us.  We've learned about prophets, faith, love, service, priesthood power, and miracles.

We've felt the spirit testify to our hearts through the music we've sung together.  We've laughed together (a lot) and cried together too.    

While a difficult calling because I had to come up with something different every week that was engaging, and could be used to teach the spectrum of kids from ages 3-12, I've loved it.

Unfortunately, today marks an ending, and it is someone else's opportunity to serve the children and work in this calling.

I'll miss it.  Terribly.  I love the kids.  Their excitement.  Their eagerness to answer questions, participate, learn, and share their zest for life.

Now, I've been given an opportunity to stretch and grow.  Am I happy about it?  Honestly, no.  Will I eventually love it?  To be sure (I hope).  On Sundays (and many other days until I get it down) you can find me in the chapel, sitting behind the organ, doing my best to play for the congregation.  I know my limitations.  I'm a cellist, and a pianist in a pinch.  Not a good one, but in a pinch.  I guess in a while, I'll be much better... I hope.

My youngest daughter is a great example to me.  When I told her that I had received a new calling (asked to serve in a new position) at church and told her that I'd now be playing the organ her response was, "wow you'll play 7 instruments!...that's so cool!"

Oh that I could have her excitement and attitude.


Thanksgiving photos 2

We originally planned this to be a sibling reunion.  After we'd passed the planning stage, two of my sisters informed us that their families wouldn't be able to make it.  We were pretty bummed.  My youngest sisters husband is in the military and they are stationed on the east coast.  It was decided that Missouri was sort of in the middle, and so we stayed at Osage Beach at Lake of the Ozarks.  The day before Thanksgiving we found out that the military wouldn't let my brother in law travel that distance, and so we missed their family too.  I guess 4 siblings out of 7 was better than half.  I can't imagine the noise had we ALL been together!  We definitely missed everyone who wasn't there to share the adventure.

My  2 brothers trying to figure out which pie they really wanted

Dad and downtime

My highly interactive brothers. All three of them - totally engrossed!  Yes, that is my sister in law trying to sleep while they battle it a car race.  
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Random Thanksgiving photos

While my kids think that I love to do housework (I don't) - this lady here (my mom) seems to always be bustling around cleaning up around us.
Here's some of the crowd hanging out after Thanksgiving dinner and after we'd finished our games.

Yep - as you can see - we are the height of interaction. I think my brother was texting someone in the room! :)
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Gingerbread houses

When I was a kid, we always decorated gingerbread houses at my grandma J's during the holidays. A box of graham crackers, 2 tubs of frosting and a bag of candy - it was a hit. The kids had a great time decorating and munching on treats after our Thanksgiving meal.

Here's the can see, she's really hard at work!

Here's the house that wouldn't stand. So, we made it an eclectic house without symmetry.

Our master decorators. Note the expression on my neice at the back of the picture in the green shirt. It kills me!

Our daughter's masterpiece...that stood for a while. Milk cartons are very handy for this activity...if only I'd thought about it a little further in advance!
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Mighty Mississippi

As we headed out of Nauvoo, we pulled off of the road to 'get in' the Mississippi. While it may have been merely dangling our toes, we've all been in the mighy Mississippi now! We found some California Lilies on the shores and lots and lots of sea shells.

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Never a dull moment

It seems impossible for us to head to the mid-west and NOT encounter a tornado.  This time, we thought we might be safe.  Tornado season doesn't start until around February, so we didn't even think twice about it.  Except for that white knuckle drive the day before to Carthage...I thought about it then.  We've had tornado experiences in Kansas AND Nebraska, and now had tornado adventures in Missiouri as well!  

And what an adventure.  The kids were all outside playing soccer with their uncles, my husband had taken one of our kids out to get a frozen custard treat, and I was inside taking a break from the noise, reading.  It was overcast, but still nice out.  
Suddenly, a siren began to blare, and everyone came inside.  My parents informed me that everyone had been directed to condo 103 due to the tornado warning.  
Oh the poor people in condo 103!  
We gathered there with 7-10 other families in the basement to wait out the tornado warning.  
We were everywhere - lining the walls, and the back deck...there we waited.  Good thing someone had the foresight to bring a box of legos to keep the kids somewhat happy.  
Finally, they told us the danger had passed.  We headed back to our condo. 

A short while later, it happened again.  
And then again.

We were staying at Osage Beach

When we headed to bed that night, I kept hearing the sirens and jumping up to check that it was my imagination.  I woke up very grateful that we were able to make it through the night uninterrupted.

Nauvoo Temple

While in Illinois, we had the opportunity to visit the Nauvoo temple. After the early Mormon church members were expelled from Missouri, they traveled to Quincy Illinois, and later traveled north into a swampland area. They drained the swamp and built a beautiful, prosperous city which they named Nauvoo (or city beautiful in Hebrew). Here they lived in relative peace for a short time and built the Nauvoo temple. Joseph Smith was martyred, and just as the temple was finished, the saints were expelled by mobs from their beautiful city and forced to travel across the Mississippi where they found refuge at Winter Quarters Nebraska (near Florence). Many of our children's ancestors helped build the original Nauvoo temple.

The Nauvoo temple was later burned under questionable circumstances. In the year 2002, the Nauvoo temple was re-built according to the original plans, and is a fully functioning/operational temple. We believe that temples are the Lord's house on earth. In our temples, we make sacred covenants with God, and receive instruction. Couples are married and sealed together for eternity through the priesthood power, and gospel ordinances are performed for those who did not have the opportunity to receive them in this life.

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Missouri and Illinois Adventures

We've been visiting jails! Yes - cross country to see jails...well, and other things. Here's our travelogue.

A week ago Friday, we headed out of town for a siblings reunion. We spent time on Saturday at Liberty Jail in Liberty Missouri, where we saw where the prophet Joseph Smith and others (including one of our ancestors for a short time) were held incarcerated from December to April.

Liberty Jail

 Later, we visited the Independence visitor's center and viewed an amazing showing of bronze statues depicting scenes from Christ's life.

Independence visitor's center with the Christus 

Bronze statues

Lazarus - resurrected
Lazarus' resurrection - I LOVE the expressions on their faces - they are exquisite!
I don't think that this one really needs an explanation.  It was very moving. 

"How oft I would have gathered you - as a hen gathers her chicks"
Christ walking on water.  The artist did SUCH a great job - his hair was blowing back, his clothes pinned against his body and billowing back.  I loved this one. 
Christ healing the leper.  I loved the expression in this statue.  So much is said - the gratitude and surprise. 

The long car ride
We hopped back in the car, and ended up that evening at my brother and sister in law's home.

We attended church with them on Sunday - their Spanish branch (the church meetings were in Spanish). That was fun, and I was grateful that I speak spanish! And generally enjoyed visiting and catching up. Unfortunately, my sister in law saw that I had brought the Hunger Games book for my husband to read, and mentioned that she had the last one. While I probably should have visited more, I really enjoyed finishing up that series...and so did my husband!

Posing for pictures - naughty kids

Posing for pictures - nice kids

Monday morning we piled back into the car with my mom, and we headed to Illinois. We drove through a downpour - a major one that had me white knuckled (while my husband slept) and finally arrived in Carthage Illinois. There, we visited Carthage Jail, where the prophet Joseph Smith was martyred.

Joseph and his brother Hyrum traveled to Carthage and were held with a few others here in this room.

The jail was stormed by a mob, and shots came through the door which instantly killed Hyrum who was trying to hold the door shut. Joseph was shot twice from the mob at the door, as well as through the window from a mob outside, and fell to his death from this window.

As we visited these sites, I was impressed again that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God. He was called of God to restore the true gospel of Jesus Christ upon the earth. He saw God and Jesus Christ as a young boy, and despite the trials and tribulations which he endured for the rest of his life, he remained true and steadfast - eventually giving his life for what he believed.

"The world can use these words. I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing, and yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it and then it's gone. But to surrender what you are and live without belief is more terrible than dying - even more terrible than dying young." Joan of Arc
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Better than I know

I've been struggling with something that I can't talk about right now for the past several days.  Really struggling.  I've been asked to do something that I really don't want to do, but need to/should do.

This morning I was VERY angry and frustrated.  VERY.

I told my husband how upset I was about it and he didn't have much to say about it.  I wrote in my journal, venting and trying to get rid of my anger and frustration.  I haven't felt some of these emotions with such intensity since I was a teenager.  

I haven't wanted to pray about it.  I'd thought about going to the scriptures to find some answers, but because I'm personally studying in Isaiah (a slow in-depth, exhaustive study), I doubted that I'd really find any answers there.

I sat down to lunch today, and said a blessing to thank Heavenly Father for the blessings I do have, and for my yummy turkey noodle soup with homemade noodles I was about to eat.  Part of my prayer was also for understanding - that somehow I could find it as I read my scriptures during my lunch.

I opened my scriptures to my bookmark in Isaiah to where I'd left off and began to read.

The entire chapter was written specifically for me at this moment in time.  I am sure of it.  There is no way that I could have found a clearer answer than what I found in my scriptures today.  Specifically for me and my situation.

While maybe still a little fearful about going forward, I am now at least peaceful and have faith that it will work out and be for the best.  I know that Heavenly Father loves me and knows my wants, needs, desires, and that He also knows what is good for me.  Much better than I know.  I'm grateful for that.


We headed out of town on Friday.
We arrived at our destination and stopped at my latest favorite restaurant.
Unfortunately, my food and my daughter's had gobs of the cook's hair in it and we all saw it and got sick and couldn't finish.  I'm not sure if I can go there ever again, and I REALLY liked that place.

After our dinner fiasco, we dropped our kids off at a babysitters, and then we headed to the temple for a date night.  Unfortunately, I misplaced my recommend, and haven't been able to find it yet.  So, we picked up our kids 20 minutes later and headed to our hotel.  (it obviously wasn't our night!)

The next morning we headed out bright and early and dropped off my husband.
Then the kids and I went through the car wash (twice), got lost, found some breakfast, headed back to the hotel to eat, quickly got ready and headed back out again.

We got there just in time!

My husband was competing in a half marathon (yep - that's 13.1 miles) race.  It was all on dirt trails and VERY hilly.  Out of 400 contestants, he came in 32nd with a final time of 1:42.  Pretty good.
I was just proud of the lady that came in last at 3:36...I would have probably been behind her.

Oh...and since we washed our car, it totally snowed on the way home.  We are just as dirty as ever.  Why try?  I ask.  Why try?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Primary - this is what it looks like

Well - this is what ours looked like yesterday at least.

We played a game called "Stump the Chorister (me)".   The classes all got together with a primary song book and picked a question about one of the songs.  If I got it right, the kids got to pick a dress up for their teacher.  If I was wrong...they got to pick a dress up for me.  I really rocked with the Jr. Primary...all of the teachers  ended up dressed up.

Unfortunately for me, Sr. primary was MUCH tougher and I ended up wearing most of the silly clothes. You will notice that one classes teacher on the far right didn't even end up with anything.... they killed me on "show me the last sign of the sign language in the song 'As I Have Loved You'"....apparently my primary chorister taught me wrong!!
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Toasty Toasty Tootsies

I have several amazing sisters.

One of my sister's husbands is in the military, and he spent time in Afghanistan a while ago.
Because of some of his experiences and some of the things he saw, his wife (my sister) decided to start a non-profit organization with an aim to help others who are less fortunate.

She's collecting gently used children's shoes for children who are otherwise running around in the snow and ice with only their bare feet or sandals.

Check out her blog

If you'd like to donate some gently used children's shoes, let me know....I'll be seeing her soon.