Thursday, December 29, 2011

Visiting

Jim and I have had the great privilege of visiting the widows in our ward. He is the Bishop of our ward and feels in his heart that visiting them over Christmas is a good thing to do. We started early in December and we're still at it. We've seen most of them. I think we still have two more to visit yet. They have been good visits. All of the homes are different, some big, some small, some elaborate and some very simple. In all of them we notice the same thing, a woman who is grateful that her Bishop came to stop by and remember her, a woman who is alone because she has lost her husband. Some of them have shared memories of their husbands, others simply just enjoyed visiting about other things. All of them have expressed gratitude at being remembered and cared about. This afternoon we visited a woman who obviously misses her husband very much. She told us to enjoy each other now and to never take it for granted because one day one of us will be gone. She was a lovely woman and she so appreciated the kind gesture made by my husband.

Tonight we need to go to a funeral home to pay respects to the man in our ward who passed away last week. His wife is the newest widow in our ward. I think we have visited her four times since last week. The funeral is tomorrow and Jim will conduct it. Funerals are always a tender time and this one will be especially tender.

I saw a video this afternoon that is thoughtfully done. It expresses just what we have been thinking as we have made these visits.


This afternoon I stopped by the cemetery. Today is my Dad's birthday. He would have been 81. My Mom who is on a mission in DC asked that I place something on his grave. I did it more for my Mom as a gesture of love she wanted to express for my Dad. I went to Walgreens and saw a little angel statue that looked just right. As I was checking out I looked around just in case there was something else. I spotted a very small bag of Kookaburra black licorice. I smiled. I always brought my Dad black licorice when I visited him in the nursing home. It was his favorite and he always looked forward to it. All over the cemetery I saw Christmas wreaths and Christmas decorations and little trees. These were expressions of love by family members I suspect. I placed the little angel on my Dad's grave for my Mom, a widow, and took my small bag of licorice and opened it and ate three pieces. Then I sealed up the bag and placed it next to the angel. It's the only bag of licorice in the cemetery. I know my Dad is gone and I know he can't eat it and the animals will get it or the cemetery workers will throw it away. But for a moment, I thought it was the nicest gesture of love and respect I could give.

Semper Fi Dad.
Love, Liz

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I Finally Have Time To Post

My goodness I have been busy since Christmas. It was a very good Christmas though and I have a few minutes to post a few pictures.
Elisa, Sarah, Gregory, and Nathan were
here for Christmas making it very nice.
Everyone enjoyed Nathan.
He was here for a whole week.
That made it especially nice for me
because I have always loved children.
Seth got a "shake and wake" alarm clock to help him with
his waking up concern. :)
It's been very, very nice to have Elisa around.
Here she is enjoying the annual Christmas morning 
"mountain music"
(egg/potato/sausage/bacon/cheese concoction).
 I found her quite often sitting by the fire reading.

We really had a lovely time visiting with everyone that was here. I must say I love the fragrance my husband bought me, Coco by Channel. I picked it out a few months ago and he surprised me. It is very nice. I also appreciated the gift my children gave me of a few DVD's Emma made from our old VHS tapes of when they were little. I haven't had time to watch any yet but it makes for a wonderful gift. We all went and visited Emma and Wade yesterday morning at their home because they finally made it home from their two week vacation. We missed them for Christmas but had a nice visit with them yesterday.

Jim and I have been trying to make visits with the widows in our ward. He is a thoughtful Bishop and they sincerely seem to appreciate his visits. I always enjoy going with him.

Christmas seems to zoom by at such a break neck speed and then it's over. It has been a lovely, lovely time though with my family. I feel truly blessed.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Christmas Call

I will blog about Christmas tomorrow when I have more time. For now I will just mention how wonderful it was to talk to Ian yesterday. We really had a lovely Christmas and we are all a bit worn out. We attended church services at 11:00 a.m. and were scheduled to have our call at 1:00.
We waited and waited and waited for Skype to start its incoming call sound. I thought we would never get the call but at 1:36...
success!!!!
We all enjoyed talking to Ian so much. Even though the picture quality on the Skype call was terrible, he looked very good. He said it was 100 degrees and very hot and of course, there was no snow. He said the Christmas Eve dinner he had been invited to didn't work out and so they did not have a Christmas Eve dinner. He said it didn't feel like Christmas at all but he seemed OK. He's been gone a long, long time and we all miss him. He really has been gone so long. I started to cry a little bit and I feel bad about that but it was just so good to talk to him.

" Dear Family,

It was very wonderful to be able to see and talk to all of you again yesterday, I think it was the fastest 40 minutes of my life and I quickly returned to reality and to me it just seems like a dream now. It is strange...everyone seemed to be looking well and happy. We are very excited to start a new month and a new year. We have a lot of activities planned for January, almost one for every week, so we are hoping to see a lot of good results from this.

We had a good week this week although it was a bit slow because of Christmas. We went to Londrina on Wednesday to pick up material because it didn’t come with the transfers. The highlight of my week was definitely being able to talk to all of you.

I am very grateful for the opportunity that the Lord has given me to serve a mission, I have learned and grown so much in the time that I have been here and Brazil. I can feel that the Lord is shaping and molding me, I know that I am much more the person God wants me to be now then I was at the beginning of my mission. I am very grateful that I still have many months to continue to serve and work here, I know that the Lord still has things planned for me and people for me to help and serve. I feel like I have done very little with all time that the Lord has given me here and that He has blessed me far more than I deserve for the little that I have done. I am so grateful for the help of the Lord in this work, I know that he is working with us. I know that this church is true. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and redeemer and He loves us.

I love you all, have a happy new year!"

I am glad he is healthy and happy and well. I am so happy he has chosen to serve. What more could a mother ask?



Saturday, December 24, 2011

Comfort And Joy

God rest you merry Gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay;
Remember Christ our Saviour,
Was born on Christmas-day;
To save our souls from Satan's power,
Which long time had gone astray:
This brings Tidings of Comfort and Joy.

Some songs you listen to a thousand times before you really listen to them. Such is the case this year with God rest you merry Gentlemen. Christmas is such a hectic time of year but the message of the meaning of Christmas is so simple. Rest. Rest in the fact that comfort and joy are found because Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day. The song asks us to "remember" that message. He was born and His holy mission is to save our souls from Satan's intended power to destroy us, our happiness and our peace. Sometimes people find that they have "gone astray" from our Savior. Christmas is a wonderful time to remember that the comfort and joy so many seek, the "tidings" heralding that comfort and sought for joy, are found in the message the angel proclaimed to the shepherds in Bethlehem so long ago. "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." Luke 2:10 The tidings of great joy and comfort are the fact that Christ truly is our Savior.

Some images from today:
What is Christmas without a child 
somewhere wanting to touch the tree?
My decorations have been "rearranged" several times.
At one point I found Nathan hugging the tree.
What is a holiday without Elisa cooking?
My goodness I look tired here.
The necklace was for Nathan entertainment value.
Wished Ian and Emma were here.
 It was a lovely sunset.
Gregory and Nathan.
Nathan just really wanted to touch the tree.
Everything looks different through the eyes of a child.
After dinner, Jim read the Christmas story from Luke 2.
 We had several guests for dinner.
All had a good evening.


And tomorrow...
 We get to talk to Ian.
Merry Christmas.



Friday, December 23, 2011

Can It Really Be A New Story?

What a day. It just flew by. I am so tired but it is so wonderful to have family here. We were woken up around 1:50 a.m. this morning with the very sad news that a dear man in our ward had passed away. This is a man I have loved dearly. He was diagnosed with liver failure two years ago and was told he had six months to live. He lived two years. He and his wife have been wonderful, dear people. I have been working with both of them for a long time now doing the best I could to help prepare them for the inevitability of death. Being a former hospice nurse, I am always pleased if people allow me to help them. We visited these good people two nights ago when it seemed clear that we were nearing the end. Last night we visited again. It was evident that this friend of ours would not make it to the morning. Our goodbyes were tender. He was fortunate to have all his family with him when he passed on. Jim and I had a hard time getting back to sleep after the phone call. Tears came freely. His passing is tender. I will miss him.

I finally did get back to sleep after a few hours and then the phone rang again at 7:00 a.m. I didn't answer the phone but it woke me up and I have been going ever since.
I taught Sarah how to make the lasagna filling for tomorrow's dinner. I made a fabulous pot of sauce and meatballs. I also made some quick breads to bring to some neighbors. It seemed I spent a lot of time in the kitchen today. I did manage to get in a good walk though in the bright sunshine and clean, fresh air.
Nathan was everywhere today and into everything
but he is most delightful.
Chris came tonight to join us for our annual fireplace party.
Of course, he and Seth wanted to a play a video game.
Gregory has been working on preparing a brief for law school.
Nevertheless, even without Emma and Ian....
it's time for the fireplace party.
Chris and Seth moved the furniture 
and brought down mattresses.
The food is set out and believe it or not, 
even though I thought it never would be, 
all is ready.
Emma always reads "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever."
She's not here this year and we decided to break tradition
of all things and read a different story.
Tonight we are reading "The Mansion" by Henry VanDyke.
Jim is reading...from the Nook of all things!
My how times have changed. :)
It's a good story.
With a good message.
Nathan is asleep but his parents are not.
Jim is still reading. As I sit here listening, I'm writing this blog post. I can't help but think of all the years that have passed. My small children all grew up. I'm a grandmother now. I don't know how many more years we will continue to have fireplace parties. Next year everyone will be home including Ian but the year after that, I assume Sarah and Gregory will visit Canada, Ian might be gone and married, and Seth will be on his mission. Time will pass and maybe one year, it will be just Jim and me and a fire.

But for now...
I am surrounded by those who bring me 
the greatest joy 
even as I miss those who are not with us...



Thursday, December 22, 2011

Are We Ready Yet?

Not quite ready yet but I did get some Christmas cards out. 
Today we all went grocery shopping. 
First up was Walmart.
 Trying to contain Nathan took the four of us.
Then came Costco.
We have been enjoying Nathan.
He has a thing for the telephone. 
It seems that the world revolves around that phone.
Delightful kid.
And we had beautiful sunshine and
bright blue skies today so I had a great walk. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice!

I for one am happy to say that I have made it to another winter solstice meaning that from here on out...the days will get longer! Halleluiah.

Yesterday I brought Seth up Big Cottonwood Canyon to a friend's birthday party.
The air was so clear, the sky was so blue...
and I actually stood in the sun even if it
was only for about 12-15 minutes.
It set behind the mountain at 3:30.Ugh.
I should have gone up earlier.

We've had a TERRIBLE inversion in our valleys for almost two weeks I think. It's been gray, cold, foggy, cloudy, and downright awful. Today a storm is on  the way and I see a little blue sky here again so it's a happy solstice day all the way around.

It was good to get up in the mountains though. 
The ride up was so pretty, especially to see the flocked pine trees.

 Sarah and Nathan are here in advance of Gregory
who will get here tomorrow night.
When Nathan wants to kiss someone he puckers up 
and says "Mmmmmm" expecting you will do the same.
Delightful.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

David Will Serve A Mission Too

My kids know that I truly enjoy the Christmas music of David Archuletta. I have been deeply touched by the way he worships the Lord through his Christmas songs. I have his Christmas CD in my car and I listen to it all throughout Christmas. Just last night while I was on the treadmill, I watched his performance from last year's Christmas concert when he was the guest artist with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for their annual Christmas concert. I have that on DVD. He is amazing. Elisa sent me this link this morning:


http://www.ksl.com/?sid=18567804&nid=1016&title=david-archuleta-to-serve-lds-mission
Davis has chosen to serve a full time mission for the church. He was so overcome by the announcement that I couldn't help but cry myself. I suppose many will wonder how he could give up a lucrative singing career for two years to volunteer his services as a missionary. Those of us who have served and those of us who have sons serving know the answer to that...what an opportunity for joy, meaning, and purpose for him.

The title of my book which I have not mentioned on this blog actually came because of the first time I heard David sing Silent Night on his CD. I was so overcome, I knew in that moment that I would write a book. When he sang the line, "The Dawn of Redeeming Grace," I experienced a flood of feelings regarding the meaning of those words. That is the name of my book,
The Dawn of Redeeming Grace
 It is a book about the purpose of Christ's mission for us and the blessing of His redeeming grace in our lives.


Thanks David, the world needs good missionaries. We're all behind you.
  

  


Monday, December 19, 2011

Next Up...The Call

Next time I hear from Ian, it will be during the Christmas call on Christmas Day. Looking forward to it!

For now...

"Dear Family,

It has been a good week, and a week that passed very, very fast. We had our Christmas conference on Wednesday. It wasn’t so much a Christmas conference as a normal zone conference with just a few changes. The changes were: we had 6 zones together, and normally it is just 3, the lunch was fancier, and we had a quick white elephant gift exchange. Other then that it was normal, but it was good, they are always good. It was especially good to be able to see everyone again. My last 4 companions were there. We also had another success this week, we had 16 investigators at church! We have a good teaching group of about 40 with some great families. The work is progressing well... I forgot to mention last week that...I got the package that you sent me. Thank you very much. I ate almost everything already but I am saving a few things for Christmas. It was great to eat peanut butter again! I am super excited for our Christmas call...So the plan will be 6:00 my time 1:00 your time...I love you all very much. Have a great week and I will talk to you soon!"

Yeah for peanut butter. Yeah for Christmas calls!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

'Twas The Sunday Before Christmas

"Twas the Sunday before Christmas and all through my house,
I look all around and gratefully... I see no mouse."

I saw a few in a house we used to live in and let's just say, a mouse is not something I like to see ever. I have seen a few mice "not stirring" on occasion but that's because they got into the Decon mouse bait I left for them. Not a pleasant sight.

Back to my poem. It is the Sunday before Christmas and it does appear that I am getting closer to being ready. I doubt I will send Christmas cards out this year. Some years I just don't make it. I am a little bit discombobulated this year. That happens too sometimes. Emma and Wade will not be with us. They will be visiting Wade's Mom and this Christmas will be Emma's first Christmas where she is really gone. Ian is of course in Brazil but my other three children will be around thankfully and Nathan will be here for at least a week I think. Yeah for grandchildren.

I enjoyed church services today. It was my turn to teach Relief Society. I enjoy teaching but perhaps I enjoy the learning that takes place in order to get ready for the teaching most of all. They say the teacher always learns more than anyone because of the preparation.

Last night Jim, Elisa and I went to the annual Christmas concert at the Conference Center on Temple Square. We had wonderful seats and as always, enjoyed ourselves very much. Nathan Gunn was the guest performer as well as actress Jane Seymour as the narrator. Both were very good.

The Primary children sang in Sacrament Meeting today. They sang three children's Christmas songs. One boy, four year old Grant, only sang a word or two of each song and then just decided to talk loudly a lot of the rest of the time. He wanted to wave to his parents, hold up his play dough that his friend Summer gave him to show everybody and in the middle of one song, point to Seth and say, "He came to our house, remember?" Seth was laughing quite hysterically so I had to tell Seth not to look at Grant and to stop laughing as not to engage him any further. At one point in the middle of one song, Grant pointed to the wood at the front of the chapel where he was standing and very loudly told Summer, "This is MY church." He declared it very boldly. Never mind that they were supposed to be singing. This was a child who wanted others to know that he understood that this was a special place and it was "his."

I feel the same way. It's MY church too. It's a place I like to go to. I learn a lot when I am there. I feel peace when I am there and my heart is renewed when I am there. All too soon Sunday services are over and we go home again. We then have another week to think about what we learned this week. Hopefully it is enough to carry us through the demands of life.

Today I was reminded that Christmas is about the gift of Christ to the world. I was reminded that it should be a very joyful time because it is a celebration. I was also reminded by a child that "MY church" is a special place to be on Sundays.

Happy Sunday. :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Loved This

I read this in this morning's paper. I just loved the sentiment:

"The Bible on Catherine Hayter's bookshelf isn't very old, but to her, it's priceless. It was a gift from her elder sister when Hayter was just a teenager, and it has been a balm for her sorrows, a validation of her self-worth and a link to God. She doesn't let it out of her sight.

"That is where he speaks to us and guides us," she says of her prized volume as she sits at a desk in her Alabama home. "My Bible means more to me than just theology, though. It's visceral — the weight of it, the smell of it — and my notes in it … chart my relationship with God. I know where my Bible is on my shelf or desk, and it is always some place that I can see, so that I am reminded where to go when I don't know where to go." Deseret News article

Just love this. I can relate. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Gift To The World

The Church has begun to release some of the videos made on the New Testament film set which I had the privilege of being part of. I was not part of this particular scene, actually I was only part of one scene which has not been released yet. I don't know how to embed the video so I am just including the link for it.


I see that it is titled "A gift to the world." That's a very good title because that's what Christ is, God's gift to the world.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Belated Wish

I woke up at 4:15 this morning. I read my scriptures for a while and then I decided to go downstairs and do a little morning exercise on the treadmill. I found a card on the kitchen counter waiting for me. It was a belated birthday card from Seth. I read what he wrote and I couldn't even see it because huge tears obscured my vision. I read one of the most heartfelt, kind sentiments a mother could receive from a child. I will write this one for my posterity so they know that motherhood is important and worth every sacrifice.

"Dear Mom,

I'm sorry I didn't give this card on your birthday and that I have been so busy lately. I want you to know that I love you with all my heart. I am grateful you have taught me like the mothers of the strippling warriors (Alma 53:20-21) in the Book of Mormon. I owe my testimony and my good traits (like love for others) to you. You made me who I am. I am grateful that you raised me up to the Lord and gave me a love for the scriptures. Dearest Mother, I cannot convey all what you have done for me, for it is too much. Thank you and I love you and I hope I can bring you joy.

Seth"

I took the pink envelope that was with the card but not written on and wrote back:

" Dear Son,
A mother's gift is a loving child who loves truth and honors God.
Thank you,
Mom"

Then I made him bacon and eggs.

My husband is not left out of the picture here because we have raised our children together and have been one in purpose.

Motherhood is one of those blessings in life in which sometimes delayed blessings are the greatest of all.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"I Love You All... I Am Happy And Healthy And Loving My Mission"

"Dear Family,

We are in December and it is hot, hot, hot…but not unbearable so we are doing pretty well. We had a great week this week. We went to Londrina on Monday and Tuesday and had a great leadership conference. We worked very hard this week, and we are very tired, BUT we had a lot of success, we had 14 investigators in Sacrament Meeting and we found 30 new investigators this week!.... We will also have Christmas conference this week on Wednesday so we are very much looking forward to that...I love you all. I am happy and healthy and loving my mission."


I'm glad he's happy and healthy and loves his mission. As it should be because all too soon, it will be over.


It seems like yesterday I was attending his concerts at Christmas with his Chorale and Acapella groups a few years ago and now it is my time to enjoy Seth. Before long, Seth will be gone too.

In the meantime... Seth called at lunchtime and said his friends needed lunch...so...over they came for lunch.
There were seven in all.
 Seven hungry teenagers.
So, we fed them.
Liz and Kristina.
Then they were off...
to another concert of all things.
This one was in a beautiful building
that used to be a hotel.
It is my favorite venue for their concerts.
Spectacular tree.
Wonderful acoustics.
I know it was just yesterday that I was there with
Elisa...and Sarah...and Emma...and Ian
 Ian & I in 2008

...and now it's Seth turn.
Time passes quickly away.
 Jim & I enjoyed ourselves
even if we are getting older.
This video is my very favorite.

CANDLELIGHT CAROL

by John Rutter
"Verse 1: How do you capture the wind on the water? How do you count all the stars in the sky? How can you measure the love of a mother, or how can you write down a baby's first cry?
REFRAIN: Candlelight, angel light, firelight and starglow shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn. Gloria, Gloria in excelsis deo! Angels are singing; the Christ Child is born.
Verse 2. Shepherds and wisemen will kneel and adore him, Seraphim round him their vigil will keep; Nations proclaim him their Lord and their Savior, but Mary will hold him and sing him to sleep. (REFRAIN)
Verse 3. Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger: Christ our Redeemer asleep in the hay. Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation: A child with his mother that first Christmas Day. (REFRAIN)"



And this one is just hilarious.


Sorry the video quality is poor,
it's the thought that counts.