Monday, November 17, 2014

A Lesson Learned

I wrote several months ago about a significant experience relating to Michael's peanut and tree nut allergies. This experience taught me a lot of lessons. I still consider it mostly my fault, but I was so grateful to see some of te good fruits that have come out of this experience.

On Friday Michael had an event at school. Afterwards cookies were served. He came home and told us, "I didn't have any cookies because I saw they were the kind with macadamia nuts, and I didn't wan tot do that again." He went on to tell us that a friend told him about normal chocolate chips cookies and how his friend said he would get one for Michael. Michael told us that he told his friend that he didn't want one because they had been on the table with the nut cookies. It was wonderful to watch him be confident in his decision, and seeing how well he handled it without feeling left out or liked he missed out.

But the best part was knowing that he, with no mom or dad there, made a good decision for himself.

I have talked about trials before, and specifically how, as a mom, I wish I could remove some of the challenges that my kids face. But sometimes I realize that I am grateful for trials, because of the lessons they teach. And even more amazing than watching lessons be learned in myself is watching my children learn lessons for themselves.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Come Unto Christ

I have thought a lot about this scripture on the final page of The Book of Mormon.

Moroni 10:32
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Isn't that our goal? To become like He is, to be perfect like He is. And to realize that our quest to become like Him is only possible because of His atoning sacrifice. Because of the Atonement we can overcome sin and imperfections and be strengthened to endure the challenges of mortality. How grateful I am for this indescribable gift!

I thought about this quest to Come Unto Christ as I listened to our Primary children sing in Sacrament meeting a couple of weeks ago.  They sang this verse from "The Family is of God".

A mother’s purpose is to care, prepare,
To nurture and to strengthen all her children.
She teaches children to obey, to pray,
To love and serve in the fam’ly.

I love the whole song, but for some reason this verse about mothers really stood out to me. I thought again of coming unto Christ, and how we must bring ourselves unto Christ, but also we have a great effect on others, to help them in their journey to Christ And as a mother I have a profound influence on my children. I must never forget that.

Then I thought about a painting that I have seen in the Mount Timpanogos Temple. It was attended this past spring when the baptistry was renovated. The painting depicts a street in Jerusalem during Biblical times. In the corner, there are women sitting together with buildings in the background, and there is a small grouping of men watching the three main people in the painting. And the focus of the painting is a mother, her daughter and Jesus Christ. The girl is walking with a crutch. The mother has her arm around her daughter, and they are both intently looking at the Savior, who is standing near them with his arms outstretched. There is no way of knowing what this mother has gone through to bring her daughter to see and be healed by the Savior, but you can tell it is important to her. The young girl has a look of joy and hope on her face.

This painting will forever remind me that I need to do all in my power to help my children come unto Christ that they may be perfected in Him.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy, Happy Halloween

A year ago at this time we had just finished remodeling the kitchen. The last thing I wanted to think about was Halloween, but we came up with some sewing-free costumes and even carved a pumpkin.

This year I was so excited to sew costumes. Some of the kids settled on their costume plans months ago, so I had lost of time to plan and prepare. 

Megan was the last to decide what she wanted to "bee". I was so tickled with her decision, and it was fun to plan how to make it. The wings made out of tulle are my favorite part. Well, that and her darling smile. 

 This was my first time ever making a costume just for Kit. So much fun!

Michael has now officially been three students from Hogwarts. This year he chose Cedric Diggory.
Hufflepuff Prefect

Quidditch Hero

Hogwarts Champion in the Triwizard Tournament

Nathan also wanted to be a Hogwarts student.
He chose Neville Longbottom . . .

Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows . . . 

because by getting rid of the snake, Neville is a huge part of getting rid of Voldemort.

Liz chose a character from one of her favorite books, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.
I found the hat and shirt several months ago, then made the skirt last week. She crocheted the goose.

She even just bought the entire Books of Bayern series for herself.

 And Molly even got a costume too.

The kids love Halloween and dressing up.  

And they are pretty silly.

 Brian and I kept it pretty simple this year. Our X-ray shirts show what is in our stomach. Ice cream for me, and bacon for Brian.

Monday night for FHE we went to visit the great grandparents. I wish I had taken a picture at Calls. Nathan played some violin (Hedwig's Theme and a couple of hymns) and it was fun to visit. Grandma had little bags for us to fill with cookies. Yum!

We had a nice visit to Grandma Houghton's too. The kids had an impromptu costume parade and enjoyed plenty of treats.

We loved visiting Grandma. She sure loves Halloween.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fire hats and Fur Elise

Mike might hate me one day for posting this picture, but it was so typical of him that I had to record this occurrence somehow. 

Last week the cub scouts went to the fire station for a field trip. He came home with this fire hat. He loves his fire hat! A couple of days later he was doing his piano practice and obviously he wanted to wear his fire hat at the same time. It wasn't until he started practicing Fur Elise by Beethoven that I grabbed my camera. There was something about the irony of that hat and that song being somehow combined that made me smile. Or maybe it was just so fun, as a mom, to see Michael's interests and talents combined, even in an uncharacteristic way.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ogden Temple Open House

ON Friday we took the kids to the Ogden Temple open house. In 2010 it was announced that the Ogden temple would undergo major renovations. It is so exciting to be able to take the kids to a temple open house. And all six of us will be able to attend the dedication this time (since Megan is eight and has been baptized).

They showed us a video before we went in the temple. It talked about why temples are important to us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I loved how it talked about how temple unite husband and wife and their children for eternity. Elder Holland talked about how heaven wouldn't be heaven without his wife and children. I agree completely.

Walking through the temple was a wonderful experience. Everything was so beautiful, beyond description even. The artwork on the walls was a combination of some of my favorite well known paintings as well as many that were new to me. The details in each and every room were absolutely stunning. 

As we walked through the brides' room I whispered to Liz that this is where brides get ready to get married, and I told her how the grooms just change in their locker areas. She smiled. I am sure that day for her will come in the blink of an eye.

The baptistry was one of the favorite spots. It was so bright and beautiful and it was neat to see how the paintings on the walls belonged together.

The sealing rooms were gorgeous. Brian had been holding Megan's hand for most of the tour, but I snuck in and held his hand for a bit, as I remembered kneeling across the altar from him. Miraculous things happen in the temples every day!

When we walked into the Celestial Room it was amazing to see how people naturally slowed down and became even quieter. Megan slowly whispered to dad in a very awed and reverent tone, "What do they do in her?" He told her about how this is where we can feel close to God, where we can catch a glimpse of what it will be like to return to his presence, where we can pray and seek inspiration and where we can feel the peace that the temple brings. Nathan commented later on how he noticed how people's walking even got quieter as we went through the celestial room. I wanted this moment to last forever.

As we left the temple Mike said, "What a perfect way to celebrate you anniversary . . . in the temple!" Yes, Mike it was a great way to celebrate, since that is where our marriage started, in a temple.

Temples are sacred and holy places. We do not take pictures while inside, but the church has posted images of the inside of the Ogden Temple. The Church released some images before the open house and they can be found here. The entire temple was absolutely stunning!

We enjoyed some time on the temple grounds after our tour.

The temple was absolutely gorgeous in the morning light, as the sun came over the mountains.

After walking through the temple we attempted a family picture. Unfortunately we were facing that before-mentioned rising sun. It was painfully bright and we got a few lovely squinting pictures. Megan was so cute in one of them though. 

I loved this Christus statue in the small visitors' center tent next to the temple. What a great reminder that the temple helps us Come unto Christ. 

We got a family picture on the west side of the temple. It was fun to get the entire temple in the shot too.

I LOVED the reflecting pool.

There were ropes directing the tours going in and coming out of the temple. I didn't know if we would be able to get close enough to do our traditional temple touching pictures, but I thought it was worth asking. The volunteers were more than happy to oblige. I was so grateful. This is one of my most favorite traditions. 

I know I posted this quotation at the end of my last blog post, but I thought about it a lot this weekend.

"As we touch the temple and love the temple, our lives will reflect our faith. As we go to the holy house, as we remember the covenants we make therein, we will be able to bear every trial and overcome each temptation. The temple provides purpose for our lives. It brings peace to our souls—not the peace provided by men but the peace promised by the Son of God when He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (President Thomas S. Monson)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Temple Memories

The temple has been on my mind a lot this week. Tomorrow we are going to the Ogden Temple Open House. It is a wonderful chance to see in side the temple before its rededication next month. I love any chance we have to take our children to the temple, and for these special opportunities for them to see inside these holy buildings. I am so excited for tomorrow! We have taken the kids to two other open houses in the last five years and they were both special and wonderful experiences. 

Another reason the temple has been on my mind is because this week marks 14 years since I entered this holy building, made covenants with my Heavenly Father and received my endowment. (For some great information about what this means go here. The second paragraph under the first question is a great explanation.)  

It was a special day! Something I had planned for and looked forward to from the time I was young. I was blessed to have a few special people with me; my parents, grandparents, an aunt, my brother, Brian, his parents and his older brother.

This week is also our anniversary. Fourteen years ago tomorrow is the day that Brian and I returned to the temple together and were married. Because of the sealing ordinance available in the temple (there is a paragraph about this at the link above) it is possible for us to live as husband and wife and for us to be linked to our children for eternity. I was very grateful for these possibilities on the day we were married, but fourteen years later that gratitude has only increased as our love and family have grown. 

I have many other cherished memories of the temple. I was able to be there when my older sister received her endowment, and when she was married. When my younger sister went to the temple for the first time and received her endowment it was the first time I was in the temple with all of my siblings, which meant that my parents were in the temple with all of their children. I felt like I witnessed a piece of heaven that day. After all, that is what temples are for, to help us return to heaven as families. 

When my brother was married it was the second time that the four kids in our family got to be in the temple all together (with our parents too), and even more amazing was when my younger sister was married. There I was with my parents, my wonderful husband, my three siblings and their spouses, my grandparents. All of the members of my family had partaken of the blessings of the temple. Brian and I walked out of the temple to our happy children, enjoying the wonderful morning with their cousins. That day was full of so much love and joy, I cannot put it into words.

Two of our children are old enough to go to the temple. While they are not old enough to make covenants for themselves they are able to do baptisms for their ancestors who passed on without receiving the essential ordinances of baptism and confirmation and the ordinances available in the temple. They are able to feel the power of the work that goes on in the temple. When Nathan attended the temple for the first time (Liz was there too), I watched Brian performing the ordinances with Nathan and Liz taking turns to stand as proxy. Tears rolled down my face into my lap. My heart was so full.

The temple is all about families. Our Heavenly Father loves us, his children, so much that he has given us the way to return to him. I am so grateful. The temple brings us closer to Jesus Christ. When I go to the temple I feel my Heavenly Father's love, and it increases the love I have for Brian, for our children, and for those around me.

I found this quotation by President Thomas S. Monson that I love. "As we touch the temple and love the temple, our lives will reflect our faith. As we go to the holy house, as we remember the covenants we make therein, we will be able to bear every trial and overcome each temptation. The temple provides purpose for our lives. It brings peace to our souls—not the peace provided by men but the peace promised by the Son of God when He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Thankful for Fathers

I have thinking so much about fathers recently, and how vital and important they truly are. Not long after Brian and I started dating we had a conversation about what we were hoping for in a spouse. For whatever reason, I couldn't really put my thoughts into words. All I could say is, "I want to marry someone like my dad." Brian had never met my dad and he asked what I meant. I explained myself with two simple requirements; someone who loves his family and loves the Lord. 

I was blessed to grow up with a wonderful father, a dad who always reminded us that he loved us. He taught me how to ride a bike, to swim and to love math. I will forever remember a day in junior high when I came home and aksed him what calculus was. We pulled out the markerboard and he showed me. He took the time, even though I didn't understand much of it. A few years later, on my first day of calculus I sat in class as the teacher drew the same diagrams my dad had years before, and I understood. 

My dad supported me in everything I did. He sat through countless gymnastics meets and watched me cheer at endless ball games. He even came to math meets to help my team in between rounds. He couldn't be at every single thing, but when he couldn't be there he found ways of letting me know that he was thinking of me. And now he is a grandpa. Despite living thousands of miles away he is an important part of my kids' lives. They love to share exciting things with him. He loves to take time and play games with them when he is here. And he is still never shy about letting them know that he loves them.

Most importantly, my dad showed me what it meant to be a righteous holder of the Priesthood. I watched him serve faithfully in various callings. I watched him as he left to go home teaching. I watched him support my mom as she served in various callings. He and my mom led us in family scripture study, family home evening and family prayer. He gave blessings when school was starting, when we were sick, or even when we just needed one. I remember watching as he taught my brother to consecrate oil. He has been a part of each of our children's baby blessings and baptisms. We feel privileged that he could be there each time.

It was easy for me to see what was important to him. He showed me as he served God and served his family. 

As I have thought about all of these things this week I have realized that in all of these ways, and more, my dad was helping me understand not only his love for me, but also my Heavenly Father's love for me. Knowing that I was a special daughter of my earthly father helped me to better understand my relationship with my Father in Heaven.

My baptism day, April 16, 1988

With the statue of famous mathematician Simon Stevin, Bruges, Belgium - May 1999

Dancing at my wedding reception, August 2000

Our kids with Grandma and Grandpa Call in Salt Lake - June 2012

When Brian and I decided to get married I knew that he loved me (and that he would love the children that would join our family) and I knew that he loved God and had a desire to serve Him. It was easy for me to see that. Over the years I have seen more and more how much like my dad he really is. They share a similar sense of humor and are both fun to be with. But more importantly I see the ways that he helps his family understand their divine origins, and their divine potential. He feels such love for his family, and makes sure they know it. He works so very hard to provide for the temporal needs in our family. And in word and deed he is leading our children to Jesus Christ.

 "HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations. . . .

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."

I am so grateful for these two wonderful men in my life and for all they have done, and continue to do for me!