Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

2008 - A Year Full of Things I'd Never Done Before

I can't believe 2008 is almost over. Time seems to pass so quickly. This has been a year of discovery for me. I grew up a lot this year, discovered interests I didn't think I had, and came to know myself a lot better. I wish I had fun pictures of all of the events listed below, but I don't. I'll be better about that next year - maybe.
  • Lost 65 pounds!!!
  • Hiked up to the Y.
  • Went to Lake Tahoe, one of the prettiest places I've ever been.
  • Went RUNNING and liked it!!!
  • Lived in two different places. Haven't done that since my mission.
  • Didn't miss one day of scripture reading.
  • Spent time in Ft. Huachuca, Arizona. While I had been there before, it was never for any length of time.
  • Taught Gospel Doctrine.
  • Visited some great Church History sites in Salt Lake. I can't believe I grew up there and had never been to some of those places.
  • Saw the Hoover Dam. We didn't mean to, but we did.
  • Experienced 120 degree weather.
  • Crashed into a snow bank.
  • Rock climbed.
  • Watched a full day of football.
  • Watched a baseball game, actually quite a few, all the way through and can't wait for next season to start!
  • Had church at 2 in the afternoon. Seriously, who has church that late when there are only 3 wards in your building?
Can't wait to see what 2009 will bring!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

Christmas seemed to come so quickly this year. This evening as I sit in my living room by the Christmas tree, I can't believe it's just about over. I'm not ready to take down the tree, pack up the decorations (all three of them), or put away the Christmas music.

But, this was a good Christmas. The season was not as stressful for me as it has been in the past. I did not nearly work the amount of extra hours that I usually do, and I actually did spend the night at my parents house on Christmas Eve, something I almost never do because I'm so very tired. However, I did go to bed at 10:00.

This morning I woke up early, started a fire, and read my scriptures. Everyone seemed to sleep longer than usual, so it was a nice quiet time - time spent really thinking and being grateful for a Savior whose birth we celebrated today.

Then I went for a run - the first one I've actually done outside. It was windy and cold and much harder than I thought. But, again, it was a good time for some thinking.

We were missing quite a few members of our family, a thought which even now brings tears to my eyes. I really missed watching the kids open their presents, something I think I haven't missed since Brigham was born. I missed my brother and his sweet wife and their two boys, and wished that Jamie and Spencer and their cute kids could have been here. Christmas just didn't feel quite the same without you all. I love you!

Dad made breakfast this morning. He had it started even before mom and Anna were awake. After Dre and Sean came back, we opened presents. Mom and Dad gave us these great books with some family history things and some pictures that I haven't seen in a long time. It was fun to laugh as we talked about old memories.

We all pitched in and got mom and dad a personalized picture of the Salt Lake Temple. Mom cried and dad was glad that it had the date on it so the two of them wouldn't have to try and remember in which year they were married. (Doesn't mom look cute in her pj's?)

Josh and Angela and the girls came in the afternoon. Fortunately the big snowstorm that we were supposed to get held off so that they could come. I can't believe how old the girls are getting and how quickly they are growing up. I love the pictures they gave me and the thoughtful gifts from Angela.

I suppose the last picture needs an explanation. Well, those of you who know Josh, probably don't need one. Dre was showing him how to correctly wear a lava-lava. Who knows when that could come in handy for him?

By the way, if you look closely at the Christmas tree, you'll see that mom took old family photographs and made those ornaments. What a talented mom I have.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Be Near Me, Lord Jesus

I'm sitting in my living room, Christmas tree lights on, candles lit, and the only sound is the ticking of the clock. I think this room, just like it is, has to be my favorite in my house. It lends itself to pensive moments, quiet study, and an occasional nap.

This is the first day all season where my thoughts have been full of the blessings of the Savior. Not something I'm proud of. I too easily get caught up in the chaos. But today I was reminded of why we celebrate this time of year.

The fact is, the birth of the Savior was only the beginning of several events that would affect all of us. His sacrifice made it possible for us to be with him forever. He loves us and is with us. President Kimball said that "the Lord stands knocking. He never retreats....If we ever move apart, it is we who move and not the Lord." Interesting thing to realize. How many times have I moved apart?

"Be near me, Lord Jesus. I ask thee to stay close by me, forever, and love me, I pray."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

12 Days of Christmas

Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, we hang stockings in the office for each employee. I put in a silly poem I made up, tell them who their secret person is, and then watch throughout the month of December as they sneak gifts into someone's stocking.

I love how excited they get when they pull something out. You can tell that their Secret Santa put a lot of thought into the gift. Every once in a while I'll check the list to see who is giving to whom. It always makes me smile.

I made the decision when we first started this tradition, that my name would be excluded. I didn't think it was right to make someone buy a present for their boss. Plus, I would always know who it was, since I do the names.

This year, though, one of my employees has been leaving gifts on my desk, one for each of the twelve days of Christmas. Their comments have been clever and have brought a smile to my grumpy (not all the time) face. I've enjoyed the pears and the pineapple, the soup and bread, not to mention the soap, the lotion, the adorable stuffed turtle, the notebook (which has been great for leaving list for people at work), and I can't wait to make something yummy with the eggs they left this morning.

Thank you, my "true friend" as you call yourself. You can't know how grateful I am.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Being Prepared

I have been pretty sick for the past couple of days. Some stomach issues that are especially bothersome at night have forced me to spend most of the last three nights kneeling at the base of the toilet, preventing me from sleeping, and I haven't been able to eat anything but toast since Saturday night. Finally, late last night things seemed to calm down. I was able to sleep a little, and got up early this morning, feeling energized and hungry.

I had a great study time, ate a bowl of oatmeal, and thought I would rest for a little while before doing fun things like laundry and dishes. When I got up, I threw a load of towels in the wash and turned on the TV to watch a movie while I folded laundry.

Suddenly there was a strange noise in my house that sounded like an alarm going off. I realized that the power had just gone off. Normally this would have been a bit of a nuisance to have no power for a little while, but I remembered a letter I'd received sometime last week. This letter informed me that on Wednesday, December 17th, from 10 am to 2 pm, the power in my area would be shut off for some maintenance work.

Four whole hours I would be without power on my last day off before Christmas. I was mad at myself for forgetting about the letter and forgetting it was Wednesday and not planning ahead. I was even mad that they'd only told me once about the power. This is a busy time for me. How was I expected to remember with only one reminder?

As I figured out which activities I could do without power (since I do dishes like the pioneers, that was my first project.), I started thinking more about being prepared. It's more than just 72 hour kits and supplies of food. I need to be prepared temporally as well as spiritually.

I have a long way to go to make sure that happens. The silly power outage today was a reminder that I can't procrastinate.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


A couple of months ago my sister, Dre, and I were having a conversation that had something to do with exercise. Somehow, by the end, she had convinced me that I should run a race with her sometime next spring - something I've never done before.

I thought about this for quite a while. Although I have spend more time exercising the last eight months than at any other time in my long life, I was too chicken to run where people could actually see me. So I bought a treadmill.

We've become pretty attached. I look forward to it every day. When things are tough at work, I think of going home to run (okay, maybe I'm just walking fast). It's great for stress. I think I sleep better and have more energy.

I know to do the 5K in the spring I have to actually be able to run faster than a 30 minute mile :), but I sure am looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Christmas Tree

Last year was the first year I actually put up a Christmas tree. I avoided it for oh so long for many reasons - none of them good. One reason was that working in retail killed the holiday season for me. I thought that the last thing I wanted when I got home from work was another reminder of why I was so tired and crabby. However, I've discovered that decorating my home for Christmas brings an element of peace and joy that my holiday season has been lacking all these years.

Now I love the feeling of reading by the light of the Christmas tree in the mornings with the fire going. I love coming home at night and turning on the tree lights and the fireplace and enjoying the peace.

Now if only I could find a man to enjoy it with me... :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Something to Work on

My home teachers came today. I haven't had any for a year and it was nice to have them stop by.

The lesson they shared was about service during the Christmas season. We seem to get so caught up in the materialism of the holidays that we forget what it's really about.

They challenged me to find better and more frequent ways to serve to ensure a better feeling during the holidays. He even committed me to do so. I've never had a home teacher use the commitment pattern on me before. I almost giggled out loud. But I was still thinking about it when I was studying later in the day.

I was reading in 4th Nephi. In verse 5 it mentions that the miracles that were worked were "in the name of Jesus". In reading commentary on that specific verse, I read something that really struck me. "We are the servants of the Lord, who is our Master, and he has commanded us to labor in his fields - plowing, sowing, cultivating, and harvesting. That is, we are the agents of the Lord, who is our eternal principal, and he has empowered us to represent him and do the things he would do if he were personally present. When we do all things in his name in righteousness, it means that we put ourselves in his place and stead, that we think and speak and act as he would in the same situation. It means we live our lives as though we were the one whose blessed name we bear. Our acts become his acts - they are done in his name." (Robert L. Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie, In His Holy Name, p.36)

I don't think I am a very good agent of the Lord sometimes. I'm full of excuses as to why I can't serve, especially during this time of the year. I become wrapped up in myself and my needs, and tend to forget about others.

If I remembered that I was an agent of the Lord, my prayers would be better, my conduct at work would improve, and I would find joy in serving. I really need to work on this.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thought

A few years ago I was in the Young Women's Presidency in my ward. We had an amazing girls camp at Bear Lake, where among other things, we visited these great caves.

When we got to the back of the cave, we turned around and were told to hang on to the railing. The lights were turned off and we had to walk for a while in the dark. At one point we could see the light in front of us, but the railing ended before we got there. This meant we would have to walk a few steps in the dark with nothing to hang on to.

It was an experience I'll never forget. I don't like the dark. Even driving alone on a dark, empty road makes me nervous. I held on to that railing tighter than I've ever held on to anything. There was a second when the thought crossed my mind to let go, even though I knew what the result would be. I had to consciously make myself not let go.

When I had to let go, I hesitated because I knew I would be on my own. I focused completely on the light ahead, took small steps to ensure I wouldn't trip and fall, and I'm pretty sure I even held my breath.

I can't explain the relief I felt when I reached the light. I was surrounded by girls and leaders who had gotten there before I had. We smiled, hugged, laughed, talked about our journey, and waited for the rest to join us. It was good to feel safe again.

There are so many parallels to life in this experience, but I think the thing I've thought most about is why I so often feel the need to let go of the rod. I know what the consequence will be. It's not happiness or peace, rather the opposite. So why do I do it? Why in life am I not as determined to make myself hold fast to the rod, as I was in the cave?

Fortunately we have a Savior who made it possible for us to get back on track. Even the little things we do are covered by His Atonement. As I work harder to be more diligent, this fact becomes more real to me. For this I am thankful.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Two Different Ideas About Marriage

I remember an evening about three years ago when my sister, Andrea, and I were driving in the car with my two nieces, K'Lynn and Kandace. We were quietly sitting the front seat talking about having children when K'Lynn, who was only six, reminded me that I couldn't have kids because I wasn't married. I told her that she was correct. After a brief moment of silence she asked, "How old are you anyway?" I told her that I was a year older than her dad, to which she replied in absolute horror, "You're freakin' 32 years old and you don't have a husband?" I think she'd pass out if she realized that now I was freakin' 35 years old and still don't have one.

My niece, Audrey, is four, although she thinks she's 14. She and I have had several conversations the last couple of days. She sings me songs and tells me what she's doing in her busy life. My sister, Andrea, asked her on the phone the other night if she thought they needed to find me someone to marry. Audrey told her that she didn't think it would be a good idea because then I would "have a wife and I couldn't be her aunt anymore". Andrea reminded her that she was married and was still her aunt, to which Audrey replied, "Yeah, but it's just different."

I suppose she's right. When I'm with them, I don't worry about anyone else. They are the center of my attention. My concerns are not about a husband or my own kids, and I can spend my time doing whatever they'd like me to do. Who would want that to change? Seriously?

In Audrey's eyes, she's much better off if I am without a spouse and children. K'Lynn, being wiser at the age of six, realized how quickly my biological clock was ticking and that I'd better get a move on.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Things That Make Me Happy...

I had a crabby week!!! Circumstances beyond my control have made me on edge most of this week and I overreacted more than usual. I have no patience and seem to snap at everyone. Last night I watched a movie that made me mad and I let that ruin my whole night. Seriously, who gets that mad at a movie?

I know I made people feel bad. I made someone cry at work, I think the "stay clear of Christy" sign was flashed for all to see when I wasn't looking so my staff would know to beware, and one friend actually apologized for going to a movie and having fun instead of staying home and being miserable with me. This friend doesn't even live in the same state, but felt badly for having fun while I was so ornery. Sheesh, what's wrong with me?

So this morning I've been thinking about all the things that make me happy. This is not all inclusive, so please no one take offense if I don't put your pet snake on the list, and is not necessarily in any particular order.
  • Any member of our Keddington Clan - from the oldest to the youngest - all of you who have joined our family, and those who were born into it. You will never know how much joy each of you brings to my life. I love and miss all of you and look forward to the day when we can all be in a room together. Hopefully it will happen before the millennium.
  • A good friend who always tries to cheer me up, make me laugh, calm me down, and who makes me feel like I'm better than I really am. This friend has made me feel more confident than I have in years. Their actions make me want to be better.
  • All the members of my Deseret Book family. While it's true that some of you cause me an incredible amount of grief :-), it's a pleasure for me to rub shoulders with you every day. It is with you that I spend most of my time, sometimes you whom I am the hardest on, but also sometimes you are the most forgiving. I've learned much from you.
  • Knowing who I am and all that entails. This knowledge ensures that I am never alone. It strengthens my belief in the gospel, which also makes me incredibly happy, and allows me to remember that there is someone much better than I who is in charge.
  • Clean Sheets
  • Clean House
  • Quiet Sunday Mornings
  • Hiking
  • Running - even though I feel like I might die. This really does make me happy, which may shock some of you. It's a recent thing for me. I think I walk faster than I run, but it will get better, and I really feel great after. Hopefully my hips will eventually feel great after as well.
  • Movies (good movies, not ones that make me mad)
  • Christmas music - actually all kinds of music
  • A great ward
  • Fun memories
  • Reconnecting with old friends
  • Clothes that are too big!!!
  • Harold - I know he's part of DB, but seriously deserves a line all to himself.
  • Mapleton
  • Long drives
  • Days Off
  • BYU Football
  • A fun Baseball Game
The list could go on and on. I don't spend enough time thinking about these things. It's easy to dwell on things I don't have or things that make me mad. I really am blessed. And, even though my actions this week would indicate otherwise, I really am happy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tis' the Season to be Crabby...

One year for Christmas my sister gave me a book titled "Tis the Season to be Crabby". It was her not so subtle way of telling my that my attitude at Christmas was less than jolly.

This will be the 13th consecutive Christmas I've worked in retail. It tends to take the spirit of Christmas right out of you and every year I resolve that this will be the year that I won't let it happen. But, every year, I can't wait for the season to be over and find myself wanting to sleep Christmas day away.

Here is a short list of things that will make your shopping experience better and my holiday season not so crabby...
  • It is not the store's fault if you choose to procrastinate shopping for your spouse until Christmas Eve and the item she's waited for all year long is no longer in stock.
  • Large pieces of framed art do not look good wrapped - no matter how much wrapping paper you use. Just put a bow on it!
  • If you purchase product at 6 pm on Christmas Eve that has to be sent to your grandchildren in Japan, it won't get there by Christmas morning.
  • Your 4 year old twins will live if they don't get matching solid gold CTR rings because they're not made in a size that small.
  • No amount of yelling, screaming or stomping your feet will get you what you want.
  • Having 14 names imprinted on a single set of scriptures is not a good idea.
  • Long lines are a reality at Christmas. Listen to the nice music, take a deep breath, and remember how much you love the people for whom you are buying gifts.
In the past it seemed like people were spending money they didn't have on people they didn't like, buying gifts they didn't want, all in the name of the spirit of giving. We forget why we celebrate this time of year. This time of year should make us all a little nicer and a little more compassionate. In remembering the Savior, we should resolve to be more like Him. It really should be the most wonderful time of the year - even for those of us who work in retail.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This is not a typical post. Those who know me, know that even with close friends and family members I do not readily share my opinion on certain subjects because I have no desire to offend. However, I could not be silent on this issue.

I was reading my scriptures tonight in the first part of 3 Nephi, where in chapter 2 verse 1, just a few years after the people had experienced the signs announcing the birth of the Savior, they began "to be hard in their hearts and blind in their minds". The following verse says that "thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and a vain thing".

I've often wondered how a people could witness those things, and then turn so quickly from the truth. These people are not unique. The list is long of those throughout the history of the world who have, in spite of personal experiences where they saw angels, witnessed miracles, and walked in the footsteps of the Savior, became "hard in their hearts and blind in their minds".

Satan has no need of coming up with new and innovative ways of deceiving. Getting us to believe that the leaders of the Church are not inspired or that we follow blindly the counsel given seems to work just fine. Openly supporting things that have been undeniably opposed by the leaders of the church, even speaking out against them, somehow thinking that we are more inspired than they, is an example of the adversary leading us away and convincing us that the doctrine of Christ is a foolish and vain thing.

An illustration of this taking place right now is Proposition 8 that is on the ballot in California. Some adamantly oppose this, contrary to the teachings of the church, believing that they are more tolerant. A friend read me an interesting article by Orson Scott Card where he discusses this very thing. "Tolerance", he said, "implies disagreement -- it means that even though we don't agree with or approve of each others beliefs or actions, we can still live together amicably. When we agree, we aren't being tolerant, we're being uniform."

Yesterday, Steve Young's wife came out against Proposition 8 stating that "We believe all families matter and we do not believe in discrimination, therefore our family will vote against Proposition 8." indicating that some how, those of us who are supporting this measure do not believe in families and believe in discrimination. This is simply not true.

The Proclamation to the World on the family, as read by President Hinckley on September 23rd, 1995, clearly states that "marriage between a man and a women is essential to His eternal plan" and concluded by "calling upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family". Proposition 8 is one such measure.

Lest anyone think that I am one who follows blindly, I am not. I have a sound and sure testimony of those who lead this church. I have been in the presence of those prophets who have served during my lifetime and I cannot deny that each has been called of God and that they are His mouthpiece. In addition, I know that following the counsel given by them will lead me closer to my Heavenly Father and eventually back home to Him.

This does not ensure an easy road. I know that. However, this ensures that I will always know to what source I look when the road is rough.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What I did on my Summer Vacation...

As you know from my previous post, I took a few days off last week (thanks for all the helpful suggestions as to how I could spend my time). While I think I was in my store four of the six days last week, I also did some fun things.

Wednesday morning I watched Haden while Dre put in a half day of work. When she got home around 1, we bundled Haden up, threw the stroller in the car, and headed to hike the "Y". For a humorous account of the adventure, check out Andrea's blog.

Those of you who have never done this hike before, don't be fooled by the word "EASY" that's used on the website. The only reason I could keep up with Andrea was that she was pushing the stroller straight up (not the recommended way to get a baby to the top).

The view from the top was beautiful and could possibly be the best way to view all of Utah County. I wish the camera could have captured the stunning colors of the leaves, but the sun was in the wrong place.

While Dre couldn't walk after the adventure, since she really was in a 90 degree angle the entire way up, it was fun to spend time with the two of them, and it felt good to have hiked all the way up.

Friday, I found a great little place in Pleasant Grove to hike. Again the colors were amazing and I had wished that I had gone a few weeks earlier to see the leaves. The hike only took about 45 minutes and it was so pretty!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Few Long Weeks

Okay, I'll admit it. I've been incredibly stressed out lately! Those of you who work for me can attest to this. My patience has run thin, I've had a short fuse, and tolerant is not a word anyone would use to describe me.

Usually before October hits I try to take some incredibly relaxing vacation. (Okay, I never do that, but I always think about it.) This year my summer vacation was spent packing and moving, two things I don't like to do, and it certainly wasn't relaxing.

Now there are 10 weeks left in the year, 10 of the most exhausting weeks for those of us crazy enough to work in retail, and I'm already wiped out.

So next week, other than the reports and schedules I have to do on Monday, conference call on Wednesday, lunch meeting on Friday, and a Glenn Beck event on Saturday, I have the week off. Any suggestions as to what I should do during my free time?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This morning I had a terrible dream. I was stuck in a major storm, unprepared and uncontrollably panicked. The dream was so real. When I woke up I was almost convinced that it had happened.

My thoughts were consumed by this dream as I drove home from work this afternoon. I just couldn't shake that feeling of panic and fear that came from being so unprepared. I wondered what aspect of my life was in a storm-like state and what I could do to fix it. The scripture in Heleman 5:12 came to mind. "And now, my sons, remember, remember that is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

General Conference this last weekend was a gentle reminder of things I need to do to make my foundation sure. I don't ever want to be in a position again (even in a dream) where I am unprepared in a storm. There are many things I need to do to ensure this doesn't happen, course corrections I need to make.

Isn't it a blessing to know that He, who is our foundation, is also the one who picks us up when we fall, carries us when we can't seem to walk anymore, and protects us from the elements as long as we are trying our hardest, doing our best, and asking for help?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Confession

Yesterday, I did something I've never done before - never. I watched 8 hours of college football, and I liked it. Well, most of it. (Before I continue, you must know that I didn't just sit in front of the TV for 8 hours. I folded laundry and other productive things that could be done while sitting in one spot.)

I grew up watching BYU football. There are entries in my journal when I was 7 and 8 where score of the games are recorded as well as the names and numbers of those who scored. I loved (still do) BYU football! However, it always boggled my mind that people could sit and watch a game of any sport when they didn't care who won.

Well, the last couple of weeks, I've discovered a couple of things about myself. First, I can watch a game, apparently several in a row, as long as I have a team to cheer for. I do have to have some coaching when it comes to choosing a team, and sometimes I'm laughed at when I ask the question ,"Which team do I want to win?", but I've learned that a good rule of thumb is to cheer for which ever team will help BYU to move up in the polls. Second, and this I already knew, I only like watching a team get killed if BYU is the one doing the killing. I much prefer a close game. I get bored and find myself flipping between several games at once.

I will admit that by 9:00 last night, I was somewhat dumbfounded at what I had done and had a bit of a headache. This is not a way that I will spend every Saturday, but it was fun. And who's to say that it won't happen again...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Where Can I Turn for Peace?

Today after work I took a drive up Provo Canyon. I needed to think as much as I needed some peace and this seemed like the place for it.

I have always loved the mountains. For some reason, there I feel a greater sense of Heavenly Father's love - almost as if the beauty was created just for me. The nature of an all powerful Father seems very apparent in the creation of such majesty, while at the same time, his gentleness is transparent.

(By the way, I realize these pictures are poor attempts to capture the changing leaves. They were taken with my cell phone out the window while driving. There might come a day when I remember my camera...)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

On Tuesdays and Thursdays this month, my nephew, Haden, and I have been hanging out. He lives right across from the BYU football stadium, and since I watch him at his house, we spend part of our day walking past the stadium and up behind the Provo Temple.

Today as we were walking up the hill, I noticed the leaves on the mountain are changing. I love this time of year. If I had my way, Fall would last for six months and Spring the other six.

I love wearing sweaters, sleeping with my windows open, the sound of crunching leaves, and taking drives in the mountains. I like not having to run the air conditioner or heater in the house and not having to water the lawn.

I'm pretty blessed to live in such a beautiful place. You should see the view of the mountains from my back yard!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

"Don't be afraid. It's going to be alright."

Today, like some of you, I attended a conference for all of the stakes in Utah and Wasatch Counties. President Uchtdorf's talk was amazing. As he spoke I felt the need to be personally better and to take an accurate inventory of my life and where I'm headed.

I seem to be doing this a lot lately. For the last few weeks I've taken to walking up to the temple in the evenings. The walk takes me about an hour and I wonder every time if I'll make it up the hill, but I do, and the time I've been able to spend with just my thoughts has been good for me.

My thoughts as I walk are filled with those I'm close to who might be going through difficult times, wishing always that I could make things better. Also while walking, I think way too much about work, sometimes trying to convince myself that I can indeed do it for one more day. But mostly, my thoughts turn to an evaluation of life, wondering how I got to this point, if it's where I need to be, and if I will have the courage to take the next step.

I wish I could say that these walks have helped me to figure everything out. If anything, I have more to think about. But something President Packer said today at the end of his address was exactly for me. "Don't be afraid. It's going to be alright."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

August 31, 1994

I woke up this morning thinking about Chile, the country in which I served my mission. I dreamed about it all night long. So this morning my thoughts are full of the great people I met while there, my companions, the beautiful (and not so beautiful) places I saw, as well as the countless character building experiences I had as a missionary.

Coincidence or not, today just happens to be the day, 14 years ago, that I started my mission.

Santiago is the biggest city in which I have ever spent any significant amount of time. In 1994, it had 5 million people. I remember being surprised at the interesting mixture of wealthy and poor almost right next to each other. Public transportation was much better than we had in Utah, although you would put your life in danger while riding on the city buses or taking a taxi through town.

I loved the outdoor markets that would come right to our area two or three times per week. Chile had the most amazing fruits and vegetables. It was there that I experienced nectarines, avocados and blackberries for the first time (I know it's hard to believe), ate grapes the size of plums, and consumed more melons in 16 months than one normally does in a life time.

The sunsets in Santiago, because of the heavy pollution, are some of the most stunning I have ever witnessed. The Andes mountains are incredible. The pollution makes them hard to see, but it's amazing how big they are.

Most of my mission was spent right in Santiago. However, one time I was transferred into a small town further south. I got to ride a train for the first time. When you get out of the city, the countryside is green and beautiful. There are vineyards of grapes everywhere and you can actually see the mountains. Big trees lines the streets, sometimes covering them like giant umbrellas. We rode bikes in this area and developed the ability to pedal faster than the crazy dogs nipping at our heels.

I have memories of great missionaries. Each companion taught me things I needed to learn. I served with Elders, who liked to have fun, and we did. But we also worked our tails off. I loved feeling at the end of the day that I couldn't physically take one more step. I think I slept better as a missionary than at any other point in my life because I was so physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted.

I have a tremendous love for the people of Chile. I met those who were so devoted to the gospel that they'd sacrificed everything to be where the Lord wanted them to be. Some people were living in absolute poverty, but they were still happy because they were together as a family.

There were those who broke my heart because I knew they felt the spirit and I knew that they knew what we were teaching was correct. But they chose not to listen. Then there were those who did listen. Those who climbed into the icy water in the middle of the winter to be baptized, but didn't feel the cold. Those who faced rejection by other family members because of their acceptance of the gospel, but did it anyway. Those who worked hard to be good examples to those around them, who went on splits with the missionaries, who always had people for us to teach, and who had an unwavering testimony of the gospel, are those who have impacted me forever.

My experiences as a missionary in Chile were life changing. I learned absolute reliance on our Father in Heaven and His Son, which knowledge has come in pretty handy these last 14 years.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Youth Conference

This post has been long in coming. I was hoping to have some actual pictures of the events before posting (I knew some of you would not believe I participated in various activities without proof), but no such luck.

The first Friday and Saturday of August was our ward's youth conference. I was fortunate to be one of two in charge of this event and I can honestly say that I have never had such a hard time pulling together an activity. It seemed like there was a problem with every possible activity we came up with. Nothing seemed to work out. We were feeling frustrated and were running out of time!

Fortunately, I have great friends and family members who came to the rescue. My sister suggested we check out the CLAS ropes course in Provo where they had taken the youth in their ward. Taking her word, we scheduled the event.

We spent all day there on Friday and had such a great time. We rock climbed, canoed, and repelled (yes, I did all of those things), as well as participated in some fun team building activities, and we were launched through the air on this ridiculously high and fast swing (did that too, but hated it!!!). We finished the day tired, dirty and wet, but happy. Some of us did things we'd never done before, or ever thought we'd do and it felt good! (More on this later. I hope to have some pictures soon.)

Saturday was equally fantastic, thanks to a friend who volunteered his amazing dad. We met our guide in Sandy and began our journey. This kind man treated us like family as he took us on a tour of various historic sites in the Salt Lake Valley.

We started at the rock quarry up Little Cottonwood canyon. None of us had ever been there before. As we listened to stories and saw proof in the giant rocks of how the stone for the Salt Lake Temple was cut, I couldn't help but hope that those who worked so hard could now see how vastly important that edifice has become to people all over the world.

Our next adventure took us down Emigration Canyon. Looking at the trail they took, I wondered how the early saints did what they did. How did they make the journey leaving behind possessions and losing loved ones while enduring intense physical exertion and exhaustion? There's no question that they did what they did because of their deep conviction. I gained a new love and respect for them and wondered if I would have been so faithful.

We spent about an hour at Heritage park. I loved the statue of Brigham and Joseph and as we were told of experiences Brigham Young had, there was no doubt in my mind that he was doing exactly what Heavenly Father wanted him to do.

We were told great stories most of us had never heard. Again I felt an amazing sense of wonder at what the early members of the church did to settle the Salt Lake Valley.

We stopped briefly at the City building in downtown Salt Lake and then headed up to Ensign peak. It was the middle of the day and very hot! The view was spectacular. One of the young men leaders commented that when he looked out over the valley, he wished he could see what Brigham Young saw. He felt impressed that possibly he was seeing it.

We concluded our trip to Salt Lake by attending the Joseph Smith movie and then standing in front of the Salt Lake Temple while we were taught so many fascinating things. I will never look at that building the same again. We all walked away feeling deeply proud of our pioneer heritage and felt a renewed desire to be better.

We met back at the church for dinner and a fireside, which my family did. Josh, K'Lynn, and Andrea sang and did such a great job and then my dad concluded with some remarks. I love to listen to him speak. It's like participating in a conversation rather than a sermon and he always brings the right spirit. The Bishop ended the conference with his testimony and a great discussion with the youth about what they learned.

The experience taught me a lot. First and foremost is that Heavenly Father is in charge. Whether we do something grand like settling the Salt Lake Valley, or we're just working every day to be better, He knows and He cares.

I also learned that simple is sometimes better. We get so caught up trying to do big productions, and those things are fine. But this time a production was not appropriate.

Finally, a lot of us learned of the importance of devoting our lives to studying and living the gospel. We spent most of the day Saturday with one who had done just this. He made us want to be better and we are grateful.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I spent the last two days at youth conference. In a later post I'll share specifics of our activities as well as some photos. Tonight I wanted to share some personal thoughts I had during the event.

We hiked to the top of Ensign Peak. When we got there and I looked out over the Salt Lake Valley, I thought about experiences that had been shared with us earlier in the day that showed Heavenly Father's hand in leading the early saints to this spot and helping them to settle this great valley. Only He, and those with whom he chose to share, knew what the end result would be.

While thinking about this, I was reminded that Father has His hand in my life as well. He knows the end result and how I need to get there. I forget this a lot, especially while I'm right in the middle of something. I need to trust more because He always come through.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Moving Day

I am not a person who likes change. I know that shocks those who know me well. I like consistency in my life, I like things to go as planned (which they rarely do), and I like stability.

Last summer, when my brother decided to sell the home in Mapleton I was living in, he gave me the option to buy it. The house was old and needed a lot of work, but I loved the area, my ward, and I didn't even mind the commute to work. For whatever reason, though, it wasn't the right thing and I began a frantic hunt for a new place to live.

I don't know why I stress out so much about things. They always work out. Experience has taught me this. Finding a place to live last year was no exception. After a lot of looking, one of my supervisors had a sister who was moving, and when I looked at her apartment I knew it was the place for me. There were the obvious growing pains that came with living in a new ward, but soon it felt as if I had been there forever.

Then at the end of last month I got notice that I had to renew my contract or find somewhere else to live. I chose the later and began the search once again. Just like before, everything worked out. Because of some great neighbors, I have a cute little house with a nice yard on a fantastic street and I'm even still in the same ward (avoiding more change).

We moved just about everything in yesterday. My family and a few ward members were so incredibly helpful. I can't wait to get everything unpacked and be settled in.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

24th of July

On the 24th of July, Mapleton City has a huge celebration - well, as huge as a city of 7,000 can be. We have a tradition in our family, going on 35 years, of attending the parade and all the festivities in the park, which are both packed full of people.

When I was a little girl the parade would last about 15 minutes. There were two wards in Mapleton so only 2 floats of primary children. Sometimes we would decorate grandpa's jeep and all the grandkids would pile on. We'd wave and feel so important because we were center of attention. One year mom even made us matching outfits.

The parade has always consisted of small town treasures - a volunteer fire departement, the local high school band, people who decorate tractors and bikes, and generations of families who ride together and wave. There are now almost 20 wards in Mapleton which means 20 floats of primary kids. They even still throw candy.

This morning, they added a new twist and were giving away plants instead of candy. Audrey got one and planted it with grandma. She has been checking on it and making sure it is well taken care of.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

So Happy Together!

My whole family, except for my brother-in-law, Spencer, who will be here at the end of the month, is in town. We all got together this weekend at my aunt's cabin near Oakley. This is the first time all of the grand kids have been together - 8 kids, 7 of whom are 5 years old or younger.

They had so much fun playing together. The cabin has a loft set up just for kids. There's a Wii, which my 5 year old nephew beat the pants off my sister in bowling, lots of beds, and no cool air. Isaac was so excited when he saw a bed that was just his size.

My mom, right before bedtime, attempted to gather all of them together for a picture. Look how well it worked! This is the only one that actually has all of the 8 grand kids in it.

We all stayed up entirely too late. I think the kids finally gave in somewhere between 12 and 1 and some of us stayed up until 2. My brother found this ridiculous pair of glasses and had us all laughing hard. I'm sure the late hour contributed to the hysterical laughter.

The first of the kids woke up at 4:30. The morning was beautiful and Isaac and I sat on the deck and watched the humming birds and a family of deer. He was so excited and kept pointing at everything until he finally went to sleep on my lap.

Gradually, all the kids were awake. James, who put Audrey's shoes on before bed, woke up with them still on his feet. We enjoyed breakfast together, had some fun rides on the Ranger, and played some interesting games, which the guys won.

While we got almost no sleep, we had such a good time being together. We had sweet moments during prayers, as the feeling of gratitude we all felt was expressed by whomever was praying, adult or child. We sang together, which I love. Our little family choir keeps growing and getting better as the years go by and there was such a sweet feeling present as we all sang "If the Savior Stood Beside Me", requested by Audrey.

As a family, most of the time we are physically separated by distance. However, we always remain together!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

One More Family Post...

My family has been on my mind a lot lately. I would consider ours to be pretty close. It seemed like we did everything together while we were growing up. I remember being on a date once and somehow it ended with him playing basketball with my two brothers. Ours was the neighborhood home where everyone came to play, in some cases even live.

Now we're all grown up, busy living life, which means something different for each of us. We're still close, but don't do everything together like before. Some live close, other far away, and I really can't remember the last time we were all together.

This is the last family picture we had taken. None of us were even 30 yet, Dad still had hair, more kids were unmarried than married and we only had one family member in the military.

Since that time we've added 6 more members to our family. The babies pictured are now almost 6 and the cute one in pig tails is 9. Both Jamie's and Joe's families are living where they are because of the military and they have each added two additional children. Andrea is married, has a baby and she and her husband will be heading off to medical school next fall. Josh and Angela have moved out of the home we all grew up in and their girls are both growing up so quickly and involved in so many great things.

While we haven't figured out quite how to get us all in the same place at the same time, I feel often the strength that comes from being part of a family bound together. I'm so thankful for that.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I Miss It!!!

Today was a day for family. My sister-in-law is here for the next month from Georgia with her two boys. She and Joe adopted these two brothers in January and this is the first time most of us have met them. James is only 2 and Chase just turned 4. They are adorable boys and incredibly active. The kids had fun playing together.

It was supposed to be that our whole family would be here on the 30th when Joe and Mandy have the boys sealed to them, however, it's not going to work out.

It's been a long time since we were all together and I miss it! I miss all of us singing together. I miss the times when we reminisce about the crazy things we did growing up. I miss Fast Sunday dinners with everyone and family prayer before everyone leaves.

I hope there will be a point when everyone will come back home.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

One Crazy Week, Part Two - The 4th of July

On the 4th of July, we had a book signing in our store. I wasn't sure how it would go because it was a holiday, but it was stunning how many people came to see this author. The event was scheduled to begin at 2 pm and there were people in line before the store opened at 10 am.

These events are always pretty stressful. Because I was gone for the two days prior to the event, I felt like I was running around like a crazy woman (some of my staff will tell you I do that anyway) trying to make sure everything was ready. However, there was no need to worry. My supervisors were amazing and made sure every detail was attended to.

When the author arrived with his wife, I was so impressed at his kindness. There are several times when authors come and expect people to almost stand in awe. This was a man who easily could have been like that, but was not. He was down to earth, funny, and incredibly humble. It was pleasure meeting both of them.

The rest of the holiday was spent at my sister's apartment. She lives right across from the stadium at BYU and we were able to watch all of the Stadium of Fire. The drive there was ridiculous and my attitude was less than stellar by the time I arrived, as some could tell you. However, the long walk to the apartment calmed me down and it was fun to spend time with family.

The kids were great. Audrey danced to Miley Cyrus for a good hour and then sang the words "Stadium of Fire" repeatedly during the entire firework presentation. Brigham loved playing with Dre's brothers-in law. Any chance he gets to play swords, he takes, especially with older kids. Isaac was his usually crazy self and Haden slept through the entire event.

As you can imagine, it takes quite a while to get out of Provo after things have wrapped up. I waited almost an hour after the fireworks to walk back to my car. Brigham decided to spend the night at my house so the two of us trekked up the hill. He was a trooper and didn't even complain, although he was quite shocked that it took us "forever" to get out of the parking lot.

At the close of three very crazy days, I'm thankful for brief moments when I've been reminded how blessed I am. I took this picture of Brigham this morning as he slept. He's such a good boy. He asked me last summer before they moved to Arizona who was going to take care of me when he was gone. I told him not to worry because Heavenly Father would, and He has.

One Crazy Week, Part One...

Because I'm not as talented as some I know who can, while driving, talk on the phone, compose an email and eat a sandwich, I have several adventures that have taken place this week that I have yet to mention. The first being the whirlwind trip to Arizona.

On Wednesday I flew to Arizona by way of California. My sister and her family live in Ft. Huachuca, AZ. I must admit that it's not the most beautiful place I've ever been. However, monsoon season has brought a little more green to this desert city.

They picked me up from the airport in Tucson and we drove the hour to her house. That evening we attended Enrichment. Jamie was recently called to be the Enrichment leader and this was her first assignment. She did such a great job. Brigham and Audrey sang "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" and they were amazing (I'd still say that even if I wasn't their aunt). After we cleaned up, we headed home, had scriptures and prayers (Audrey is thankful for pink and blue bunnies) and went to bed.

We got up early the next morning, hoping to leave by 8 am to drive back to Utah. Fortunately, we were ready to go and out the door by 7am.

The kids were pretty good. Brigham kept himself entertained with movies, books and coloring. It drove him crazy when it was Audrey's turn to pick a movie as she would only watch about 3 minutes of it and he'd be stuck watching "Strawberry Shortcake" or something equally masculine.

Isaac yells when he wants something. It's not a quiet yell either. Brigham figured out that if you told him to fold his arms he would do it and be quiet for a few minutes. We spent much of the trip telling Isaac to fold his arms.

Audrey kept us entertained most of the trip with her great stories, funny conversations, and original song compositions. Jamie started writing down all the funny things she was saying. She's only 3 but thinks she's at least 15. She also managed to have to use the bathroom after we'd past the last exit for 30 miles. Let's just say we had to stop by the side of the road several times.

The drive should have taken us around 13 hours. We used the GPS system that we got my dad for Father's Day. (Honestly, I still prefer the ancient way of going to the internet to find directions, or better yet using a map.) When we got to Flagstaff, I was instructed to turn towards Los Angeles and head west. This smart GPS system had calculated the shortest distance from Ft Huachuca, AZ to Mapleton, UT was through none other than Las Vegas, NV!

The trip ended up taking 17 hours. We did get to see the Hoover Dam, which I had never seen before, experience 120 degree weather, which again was something new for me and had a moment of panic when the air conditioning stopped working in the car. However, all was well, we made it home safely and we're all looking forward to fun family times with almost everyone in town this month.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Reunion

I am fantastically tired this evening but I couldn't go to bed without telling someone about the evening I had. Since it's so late, no one's up for me to tell, so this will have to do.

I went to a concert tonight at the high school I attended. The program was to honor one who has influenced thousands as a music teacher. A man who now finds himself at the ripe old age of 50 in a position of not knowing if he will live to see his son return home from a mission.

The experience was incredible! The auditorium was hotter than Hades since the air conditioning had gone out earlier in the week (someone mentioned that it actually went out in 1989). I saw people I hadn't seen in 12 to 15 years -people who were such an important part of my life and whom I dearly loved - My best friend, Nicole, Adam and Miriam Eskelson, and too many others to mention.

Memories came flooding back as we looked at pictures that still hang in the hall of our production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. We walked in the choir room and that old black grand piano is still there. I sat at that piano so many times. We reminisced about where our seats were, songs we'd sung, and the first time we were actually in that room. It felt like we'd gone back in time.

We all laughed and hugged and spent time catching up. Tears were shed as we stood and applauded the man we had come together to honor.

I learned something important tonight. Those who love us, truly love us, don't care about how many kids we have, if we're single or married, how we look, or what we do for a living. They just love us. And they will always love us.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

People Who Make a Difference

I was in the backroom at work today and walked out into an area where a class was being taught. There was only one person in attendance and it happened to be the lady who was my young women's president when I was a Laurel. It was so good to see her and to spend a few minutes catching up.

Cathy was one who made a difference in my life. I wondered today after she left if she really knew that.

Driving home this afternoon I thought about many of the people who have made such an impact on me: a teacher who taught me the value of believing in me; young women leaders who sat up late one night during youth conference answering gospel questions; a boss who, by example, showed the importance of loving those you serve; one who will always call me her visiting teacher; people I've worked with; sweet relief society sisters in every area I've lived; young women in Mapleton; amazing people in Chile; my brothers and sisters, their spouses and their kids; goodly parents; a dear friend, and countless others whose paths I have crossed throughout my life.

I will never be able to adequately thank you!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

O Sleep Why Dost Thou Leave Me

In Handel's opera Semele, there is an aria entitled "O Sleep Why Dost Thou Leave Me". While it's true that it's sung by one who would like to stay asleep in order to continue dreaming, the title always comes to mind after a night of no sleep, or several nights as has been the case.

There was a point in my life when 8 hours of sleep was a necessity. I could hardly function throughout the day if I had anything less. I would go to bed at 10 and be up by 6 every day. (That should give you some idea as to how thrilling my life was.)

Then Jaime and her kids moved in. I don't think any of us had 8 hours of sleep the whole time they were there, right Jaim? Suddenly it seemed I could do anything if I could just catch a couple of hours.

There does come a time, however, when a couple of hours won't cut it and you long for just one night of sleep. It could be said that I am there!