Thursday, July 20, 2017

IBSA Goalball World Youth Championships

The IBSA Goalball World Youth Championships started with the opening ceremonies. It was so neat to see all of these athletes and coaches together. This is the biggest tournament we have ever been too, and it was amazing to see the 11 countries that were being represented. It was amazing to hear the athletes' oath and to hear the games declared open. 


Liz was in this big group. You can see her in the bottom right corner of this photo.


And she is about half way down this photo, about 1/3 of the way in from the right.


Here she and her team are leaving, and I snagged a picture of her before we left for the hotel. They got to enjoy dinner with all of the athletes.



There were a few nerves for the first game against Spain, but it was nice to be there early enough to laugh a little and take a few pictures. 


It was truly amazing to watch Liz and her team play, and it really took a while to sink in that this was a world stage! Just a really cool experience.  USA beat Spain 7-3, and it was great to start off with a win.




Day 2 brought a game with Germany. I love this picture of Liz and her coach. Rachel is one of her coaches here in Utah, and it was wonderful knowing she would be coaching in Budapest. She knows the game and coaches really well.




We ended with a 5-5 tie against Germany. It was a hard fought game.


Day 3 was tough, with losses to Russia and Australia (spoiler alert - Australia ended up taking gold and Russia took silver). It was hard to end pool play with these two tough losses.


But it was on this day that I got a text from Liz telling me she found a piano. She told me that while she was playing, the German boys team had come up and started talking to her, asking about her music and if she had heard some songs. What a cool experience! Piano is always a way for Liz to relax, and have it be an ice breaker to talk with some new people was great!


Day 4 was another tough day, with a loss to Brazil. They were first in the other pool (and ended up taking third in the tournament.) There were some tears, knowing now that they could not medal. We gave hugs and said quick goodbyes. That afternoon I knew Liz had cheered up when her coach texted that she had been playing piano for the South Koreans that afternoon. 

Friday would be the last day of the tournament for the USA. There would be two games. We wanted the girls to go out with a great day of play, and if they won both games they would end up fifth for the tournament. 

It was a good day of goalball for the USA girls. They seemed more relaxed, they communicated better than they have all week. They had good defense. Things came together nicely.  We were excited that they beat South Korea 11-1. They would have one game off, then play in the game for fifth place.

In between games Liz was playing piano again. I got to watch her a little bit. One of the girls from Israel approached, but never seemed to get the courage to actually talk to Liz. Our last game was against Israel. The USA girls did great to pull out the win. But the best moment was after the game. After the teams shook hands Liz and this dark haired girl stayed on the court for quite some time talking animatedly. Liz later told me that she asked, "Are you the piano girl?" and said that they talked for a while about music. It was such a cute moment. I am so glad I had my camera out.


So proud of this girl of mine!


USA girls - 5th place - 2017 World Youth Championships


A picture with some of the members of the team from South Korea. Our girls saw them at the mall.


With teams from Germany and Australia. I loved that Liz got to interact with teens from all over the world!



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Home

"The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be mine abode,
And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest
(While others go and come),
No more a stranger or a guest,
But like a child at home."

We sang this hymn as part of stake conference last month. I was stuck by this last verse, particularly the last couple of lines. I was so touched by the message, of wanting to feel at home in the presence of God and the Savior, like a child who feels the comfort and safety of returning home.

I have been thinking about my kids, and my role as mom, a lot. The kids are growing up so quickly. One of the things that hit me this spring is how hard it sometimes feels to get everyone to the necessary appointments/activities/meetings. It gets particularly tricky when they each have different places to be at the same time. I certainly couldn't do it without countless friends and neighbors who help so willingly. My older kids are becoming more independent and have taken big steps in getting where they need to be independently. Liz is a pro on the bus route between home and school (and even took the train to Goalball practice without me). Nathan and Mike walked home from school most days, and even Megan has a little more freedom getting around the neighborhood. When they are out and about I am grateful for cell phones because I know they can get in touch with me when needed. When they are gone I feel a subtle unease that is alleviated once everyone is on their way home. There is not much better than knowing my kiddos are home and safe. Peace comes over me as I sit and know that they have all returned after their adventurous days. 

I have been wondering if our Heavenly Father feels similar feelings about us, his children. He has sent us each into our mortal journey, knowing that we would face difficult things. He has given us lots of direction through scriptures and the words of living prophets. His Son, Jesus Christ, has shown us the way home, and has provided a way to return to the path if we stray. And no matter what we face, through prayer, we can reach out to our Heavenly Father. I am certain that He longs for each of us to return to His presence, to His home. I am sure he wants this more than we can even comprehend.

More than anything, this is what I want for me and for my family. I want us to return, and to feel at home with our Heavenly Father. Similar to our transportation situation, I have responsibility in helping my children know the right path, and doing all I can to teach and lead and love. But I also need to remember that my kids need independence. As they progress on their own individual journeys, they will (hopefully) grow in faith, strength and knowledge, coming to know their Savior as they access the power of His atoning sacrifice in their lives. 


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)