Sunday, December 30, 2012

I'll Defy Everyone and Love You Still

Things are going to be changing for me in 2013.  Today, I went to church and I enjoyed my last Relief Society lesson for a little while and I enjoyed my last Sunday School lesson as well.  You see, I've been asked to teach the four and five year old kids in my church for at least the next year.  That means I won't be the Wolf Den Assistant leader any more and I'm kind of sad.
I guess I should have seen this coming though.  I've had several people in the Primary ask me if I was enjoying my calling (that's the term LDS people use when they are referring to the volunteer position they do for their church).  I always said that I was.  They always like to shake things up every couple years or so though in our congregation.
I went to church knowing it would be my last time with the adult members of the congregation for a bit.  I will miss hanging out with the grown ups.  But I can't wait to hang out with the kindergartners   They are super amazing people and I know they will teach me a lot.  I get to meet them at a fun breakfast the Primary leaders have planned for Saturday morning.  I'm so not ready for church to start at 9:00 in the morning either.  That's gonna be rough.
I'm trying to gather my thoughts in order to talk about the things we learned today.  The whole three hour block of meetings just felt like I was being taught the things I needed to learn.  Being a better parent to my children, why we need to repent and forgiving others.  All things I know I can work on during this coming year.
I was talking to Kurtis about Zachary this morning.  He's going to be twelve years old this year.  It's a big deal.  He'll be able to receive the priesthood if he wants to.  I think he wants to, but in my mind, it's a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly.  He's not exactly one that I would call responsible and we've had some issues with the choices he's been making lately.  He swears sometimes.  Mostly at school where he thinks he can get away with it.  He doesn't do his homework or pay attention in school.  Now he is going to be evaluated for ADHD (again).  We are fairly certain that his problem is not that he can't, but simply that he doesn't do things he doesn't want to do.  We try to explain to him that life is pretty much always doing things that you don't want to do.  These things give me pause though when it comes to giving him something that he will need to make sure that he keeps himself worthy to hold.  I'm trying to tell myself that we're back at the same situation I was with Kaleb when I didn't want him to be baptized because I didn't think he was ready.  That's it's not my decision, and it's not, but I want him to understand what he is getting himself into.  That this is not something to just play around with, or think it only matters on Sunday.
Which brings me to repentance.  Everybody makes mistakes.  I've made some pretty big ones.  Nobody is immune.  We need repentance.  It's essential to Heavenly Father's Plan of Salvation.  I love the way our Sunday School teacher put it today.  Repentance is not just something to make us miserable.  It's something that will bring us closer to God.  We don't need to wallow in our sins and our misery about the mistakes we've made.  We need to let ourselves become humble and turn to our Savior.  He's given us a way to get to know Him better.  I'd never thought about it like that before.  It touched my heart and I thought more about how I can remember to ask for forgiveness when I make mistakes.  Sometimes, it's hard to even recognize when I have made a mistake.  That's why it helps to be humble, I suppose.
Ah that big word.  Forgiveness.  How do we let things go when they seem like such a big deal in that moment?  How do we move on?  How do we forget?  How do we forgive ourselves?  The wonderful family who spoke in Sacrament meeting today used this talk to base their own talks on.  It's a beautiful sermon given to us in LDS General Conference that was held in April.  Many of you will remember it, but I am going to quote President Uchtdorf any way:  "Forgiving ourselves and others is not easy.  In fact, for most of us, it requires a major change in our attitude and way of thinking - even a change of heart.  But there is good news.  This 'mighty change' of heart is exactly what the gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to bring into our lives."  He goes on to say the way this is done is through the love of God.  He says, "The more we allow the love of God to govern our minds and emotions—the more we allow our love for our Heavenly Father to swell within our hearts—the easier it is to love others with the pure love of Christ. As we open our hearts to the glowing dawn of the love of God, the darkness and cold of animosity and envy will eventually fade."
These are powerful words.  He also reminds us of the scripture in Luke 6:38:  "Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, running over, shall men give into your bosom.  For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."
I love these words.  Jesus Christ is saying be kind to others no matter what.  We must learn to forgive others and learn to forgive ourselves.  Sometimes, the only way we can do that is to pray to God for help in letting it go.  But I know that from personal experience that if we do just that, He will lift our burden.  It literally will feel as though a weight has been lifted off your shoulders and you are no longer carrying that burden alone.  It was immediate for me.  I still need to figure out how to move on and how to forget and to trust again, but that is the part that will come with time.  We are not alone.  We need to remember that often, we are all just trying to do our best - even if it isn't good enough.  And this is exactly why we should all just give each other (and ourselves) a break once in awhile.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fun For All That Children Call Their Favorite Time of Year

Christmas and the two days leading up to it were pretty fun.
I sing in my church choir.  It makes me happy.  We were asked to sing at the retirement community in the morning.  After that, we sang in our church meeting and it was amazing.  You had to be there.
After church, my brother picked us up and family and I went to my mother's side's family Christmas shin-dig.  I was asked to come up with a game and after we stuffed our bellies full of soup and salad (and bread sticks!), and then yummy desserts, we played Christmas pictionary!  I think everybody who played had a really great time.  Mostly just the cousins played, but that's okay.
I had so much fun, I forgot to take pictures.  Sorry! :(

Christmas Eve.  I made the boys help me take the neighbors gifts around the neighborhood.  I hope they liked them.  Candy canes and hot cocoa.  It's hard to go wrong with that, right?  Then we ran to the store to buy rolls to bring to Grandma's house.  I was in such a hurry to get out of town that I forgot to buy dog food for our dear Abbey.  She's old and can't chew the hard stuff anymore, so we have to buy her the wet dog food.  When I realized this, I felt so selfish.  We had one can to last all of Christmas day!  Ugh.
While we were at Grandma's house, we played Pandemic and watched The Avengers.  We also ate tons of food.  I think I've pretty much gained all the weight I have lost back.  Eek.  It's really hard for me to work out when my kids are around.  They won't leave me alone!

Christmas Day!  We opened presents and did a whole lot of nothing but playing with our new stuff!  I also got to chat with my family on Google Hang Outs.  That thing is pretty dang cool.  I love it!  Kurtis couldn't find the books I wanted for Christmas, so he got me a bunch of random ones that are on my "to read" list on  He also got me a few table top games.  I'm really excited to get to play them.  Only, we can't play two of them.  Instead of getting me the actual games, he got me expansions to the games I wanted.  Ha ha ha!  I just ordered them online.  The game store we went to said they were out of print.  Maybe they are, but I knew we could find them on Amazon.  We had a good Christmas.

 Christmas Eve:  My family draws names and we exchanged gifts on Christmas Even this year.  Rodney said, "Every year, I ask for a five gallon bucket of Chex-Mix and I never get it!  Finally!  Jeremy!  You are the best brother ever!"

 Holy crap that is a lot of Chex-Mix!

 Ben drew Emily and Joel.  He got them these drops that you put in the toilet before you go and they will eat up the odor.  "This will save your marriage!" Ben said as they opened it.

 He works at an embroidery shop and he also embroidered some toilet paper to go with it.  Hilarious.

 I can't remember who drew Michael and Lili's name.  Emily and Joel?

 "A wooden chess set!  Just what we wanted!" exclaimed Lili.

 Kurtis and I drew my parents.  We got them a book.

 My parents drew Ryan.  I think toothpaste scares him.

 I think Ryan drew Ben.  I can't remember.  But sheets!  Awesome!

 Zach likes to ruin all my pictures.  Or so he thinks.  He he.  I think he just makes them better.

 Michele's family drew Jeremy.  A Dr. Who lunchbox!?  Lucky.

 What's inside this box of Junior Mints?  It doesn't sound like Junior Mints.

 Muwahahahahaha!  Those nephews and that niece!  They are so funny!

 Then the Joneses opened up their Christmas Eve presents.
Kaleb really loves these pajamas.  They are so soft.

 Dinosaur pajamas!  Remarkable!

 See?  He just makes the photos that much better every time he pulls a face. :)

 Kurtis's pajama bottoms coordinate with Zach's.  That's pretty cool.
Nobody takes pictures of me, so you don't get to see my cute snowflake pajamas.  Maybe I can find a picture online...  Nope.  I couldn't.  I got them at Target and they are gray.  Maybe you will see them another day.

 Then Michael and Lili gave my mom the best present of all:

 Their wedding pictures!

 That book my dad is holding is the one we gave them.  They liked it.  He's also showing me the awesome peppermint bark they got from...from...I don't remember. :D

 Rodney is still pleased as punch about his present.  Best Christmas Ever.

 Santa came to our house!

 Grandma and Grandpa Nancy gave this to Kaleb.

 Santa gave Zach some books.

 Grandma and Grandpa Nancy gave Riley a watch.

 Santa gave Kaleb Skylanders.  He is now obsessed and can't get enough of them.

 My parents gave me my own set of headphones?  Whaaaat?
But wait!  There's more!

 His very first MP3 player!?  Oh my gosh!  I'm so excited!

 Riley got Worms Reloaded and three other Worms games from Mom and Dad.

 Mom and Dad gave Kaleb Lego Lord of the Rings.  Pretty epic.

 Gift cards from Grandma Bonnie are awesome!

 Look what Santa brought him!  He's pretty happy.  It's also the only present he got to unwrap because my parents gave him books for his Kindle and he got to open them via email.  From me, I told him to pick some games off of Steam that he wanted.  He was pretty stoked about that, too.

 Grandma and Grandpa Nancy also gave Zach a watch.

 Santa gave him the game Wits and Wages and this awesome game set that has Chinese Checkers in it!  He wanted a game of Chinese Checkers!

 This is my HAUL!

Thanks for the gift card Grandma Bonnie!
The boys love them and can't wait to use them.  Wait.  Kaleb already has! :)

I hope you had an amazing Christmas, too!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Thrill of Hope. The Weary World Rejoices

I've gotten behind again, but that's okay.  I got the things done that I needed to get done in order to get ready for Christmas.  That's a good thing.
On Tuesday, December 18th, our family had a dentist appointment.  Only Zach has one cavity.  That's pretty good.  Kurtis needs another implant where a tooth was pulled.  If he doesn't get it, it will cause his implant that is above where the missing tooth is to wear out sooner than later.  Lucky us.  Our insurance doesn't cover that.
After we went to the dentist, we decided that we would go to see the lights in Temple Square.  We were in town, I wanted to go see them, we might as well.  :)  It was cold, but it was beautiful.  My brother lives right next to Temple Square, so I texted him and told him where we were.  We went over to his place for some hot chocolate and popcorn.  He made them from scratch!  After about half an hour, his lovely wife came home, and we got to talk and laugh for awhile.  Then we had to go home, but on the way, we stopped at Five Guys for dinner.  It was a really great night.

 We love our dentist's office.  All the people there are wonderful.  This is one reason why.  When my kids do annoying things like take their magnifying safety glasses, they don't get upset.  They let them play with them and they are so kind about it.

 The Salt Lake City temple.

 All of this is set up to remind us of our Savior and the beautiful gift he has given us.

 This is the Assembly Hall on Temple Square

 I think this picture turned out pretty cool despite having to use my phone.  I also love that even though we come here almost every year and I always take pictures, that I can always find something I didn't take a picture of the year before.

 The reflection pool.  Zach and Riley tell me this is their favorite part of Temple Square.

 There are Nativities from all around the world set up for you to reflect on His birth.

 This is the view as you walk out of my brother and sister-in-law's apartment building.

While we were there, the boys entertained themselves with the hand carved, miniature chess board.
I hope seeing the Christmas lights on Temple Square has reminded you of the Savior and his birth on this wonderful Christmas day!

Oh, and then, there's this:  I really enjoyed it.
I love you so much.