Sunday, January 29, 2017

Service is a blessing

17 years ago today I went to the temple with Brian for the first time. (The night before, during our second date, I had mentioned my plans to go do baptisms early the next morning. Being the gentleman that he is, he offered to go with me so I wouldn't be walking alone in the dark. I may or may not have mentioned it to him, knowing that he would offer to walk with me.)

Anyway, we had a nice walk to the temple, and I was able to act as proxy while Brian confirmed and baptized me. After we had completed the baptisms, the temple workers asked if Brian could continue to perform baptisms for other patrons acting as proxy. He replied with a "Yes", just as I have seen him reply countless times to opportunities to serve that have come since that day seventeen years ago. I changed back into my Sunday clothes and sat on a pew, where I watched Brian (through the glass) as he continued to serve. A temple worker came up to me and said jovially, "We will have him for you in just a bit." I smiled back and honestly said that we weren't in any hurry.

Over the last 17 years I have been blessed to watch Brian serve in many different capacities at church. This service has affected our family in different ways, depending on the specifics of his calling. But one thing has remained the same. He brings a special feeling home with him each and every time he returns from his service. No matter what he has been doing, he carries a special light home with him, and that touches every one of us.

It isn't always easy. I remember a Saturday where he spent the bulk of the day helping someone moving into the neighborhood. I was worried about if we would be able to take care of the necessities of our Saturday. I miss him some evenings, when I would really love to sit on the couch and talk with him, but he has interviews or other things that need to happen that very night. I worry about his burden; the load he carries (so willingly) here at home, his responsibilities at work and at church. The interesting thing is that these are the times when I feel extra blessings from the Lord. He has always helped us to take care of our family, and help us to continue to build our relationship together,

It reminds me a little of the scripture in Matthew 16:25. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

My Liz

Today a reporter/photographer came to Goalball practice. He is doing a photo story about Liz for the Daily Herald. We have been in contact throughout the week, but this was the first time we met him and he met Liz. His story will focus on her and Goalball, but also to see how she lives her daily life with a visual impairment.

After watching her warm up by throwing the ball back and forth across the gym floor with other players, he came up to me and said, "This may be a silly question, but Liz IS visually impaired, right?" I answered, "yes!" and I tried to give him an idea of what her vision is like, but his question has had me thinking all day.

First of all, I realized in a new way, how comfortable Liz is on the Goalball court. She is confident in her abilities, and is very comfortable throwing and stopping the ball. Her court awareness has come a long way too. I still can't figure out how she knows where she is so well, especially when she has her eye shades on. She has faced challenging (and scary) things through Goalball, and overcoming them has only made her stronger!


Secondly, I have been reminded, that try as I might, I do not understand what Liz sees. I can kind of imagine it, but I have to remember that I don't know! Too often I assume that if I can see it, so can she, and THIS IS NOT TRUE. Just as I have a hard time describing my vision to others, I also have a hard time understanding hers. (But I also remember that I CAN relate to challenges and frustrations she may face.)

Lastly, I cannot help but watch Liz with amazement. I hope this doesn't sound boastful or braggy, because I am truly humbled when I watch Liz and see the way that she lives life. I look at her dedication to music (something that is much more difficult because of her vision) or her love of reading books in physical print form (no matter how small that print is!) or many other things and I am in awe. She puts forth so much effort, and she doesn't let her vision get in her way! She adapts in her own ways, and isn't shy about doing what she needs to in order to see. Mostly I am grateful for her amazing perspective and for the joy that I see in her.

I am so grateful for this amazing girl in my life!



Monday, December 12, 2016

#LIGHTtheWORLD

On December 7th the Light the World theme was about Christ feeding the hungry. Michelle posted this on facebook (along with a photo of the bread she mentioned).

"I am not sure making Banana bread for the people that run my apartment complex counts as feeding the hungry. But at least it's a way to say thanks."

Feeling a little bad for not doing something special that day I commented, "The best I am going to do today is feeding teenagers in my house, but we are going to be donating food this weekend. :-)"

I have thought a lot about that though and I had a moment of understanding.

Feeding my teenagers is no less important or significant just because I do it every day. Serving others (including our children or families in our homes) is how we serve the Lord. When we fulfill our daily responsibilities with love as our motivating force, that is when we are doing what the Lord would have us do.

Of course, this doesn't mean we should limit our service to those in our homes, but we shouldn't ever feel like our efforts in our homes don't matter.

#LIGHTtheWORLD

Brian is such a great example to me. Yesterday for the Light the World campaign the focus was on ministering to children, and two events from this very weekend have been on my mind.

Saturday we had our ward Christmas party. It was a chance to gather, eat a few refreshments, but mostly meet new people. Towards the end of the party I watched as Brian knelt down so he could talk with a little girl at her eye level. I couldn't hear what was said, but I could see enough to know she was happy. It wasn't lengthy, but this little moment filled my heart with joy.

Last night we had our stake music of Christmas. I led our ward choir and all of the kids sang in that choir. Nathan played his violin in a string ensemble. We sang congregational hymns and listened to other choirs and musical numbers. It was such a treat. The evening ended with the traditional singing of the Hallelujah Chorus, and Brian offered the closing prayer. It was a beautiful prayer, filled with hearfelt gratitude and much sincerity. Brian was choked up during the prayer and tears came to my eyes.When we got home we had cocoa with the kids, and Brian reminded them of an experience he had as a teenager when he first heard the Hallelujah Chorus. The spirit he that overcame him that day comes back every time he hears it, and that is why the end of the program last night was so meaningful for him. I am so grateful that he shared this experience with out kids.

I am sure lucky to have Brian!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

#LIGHTtheWORLD

Today for the Light the World advent calendar we are reminded of how the Savior prayed for others.

I have been thinking all day about another who is a great example to me. 

I love to listen to Nathan pray. He does so with such sincerity and with so much thought. He expresses gratitude for things big and small, and he remembers to pray for others. And over the last few weeks I particularly love hearing him pray for his dad. I can sense that he recognizes that Brian has a lot going on, and he knows that the Brian needs the Lord's help in all of it. Hearing Nathan pray is like a glimpse into his mind and heart, and it is humbling.

(Nathan - July 2011)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

There's so much to be thankful for

About a year ago I wrote a post about things I am grateful for. Gratitude has been on my mind a lot lately. There is so much crazy stuff going on in the world, but when I take a minute to count my blessings I find that I can overcome feelings of worry or anxiety. When I am focusing on the good, it is easier to drown out the bad.

This video is set to a song by Josh Groban, a song that brings instant calm when I hear the first few chords. It is impossible to capture all of the things I am grateful for in this one short song, but I wanted to create something that reminds me of what is most important; God's creations, a nation of freedom, my faith and especially my family, both those who have come before me and my family now. The pictures are memories, days where I felt overwhelmed by God's love for me. And that is something I am forever thankful for.

video

Friday, October 7, 2016

My kids are growing up

This has never been more clear than the last few months as this school year has begun.

When school starts, I tend to look back at photos from previous first days. The kids have visibly grown. They are taller, their features more mature. But their growth is so much more.

Liz and Michael are both at new schools, and though nervous, they have settled right in and found their place. Nathan and Megan have also taken on their new grade levels with excitement and confidence.

They each have jumped right into school with increased responsibility and accountability. Even Megan is significantly more independent with her homework and assignments. They each practice their instruments and complete there work with minimal reminders from me.

Their interests are growing and developing. Liz joined the improv club (after school on Fridays), Mike joined the math club and Nathan is working and practicing hoping to make the basketball team. Megan's love for books and her list of books she has read has simply exploded this year. Oh, and Nathan started his first real, paying job (as a tutor at the school),

One amazing thing about these activities is how the kids take it upon themselves to get to and from where they need to be, and also how they do all they can to take care of the financial end of their responsibilities.
Nathan - "I have work/open gym today, but I will just walk home when I am done. I'll text when I am on my way." or "I am excited about my job. I can save the money for my mission and use some for if I make the basketball team, and later for track."
Liz - "Improv club is after school on Fridays, but I will just ride the (city) bus home." or, with perfect confidence, "I need to stay after school and take a test, but I will just catch the bus when I am done."

This school year has been a strange adjustment for me. I am still "mom", but my role is changing. It isn't really easy to describe, but the kids need me in a different way than ever before. I think often that in just a few short years they will leave home for college, missions etc. I find myself wanting to cherish and preserve the moments we have as a family, enjoying holidays and birthdays, and even lazy Saturdays together. I know these days won't last forever.

But I also want to support and celebrate their pursuits that aren't happening here at home. It makes me happy to know that they are learning skills, and acquiring traits that will help them as they become adults. It brings me joy to know that they each have such strong desires to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and live the principles of the gospel that Brian and I love so dearly.

I find myself frequently just standing back, and watching them with awe. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father sent these wonderful people to our family.