Saturday, July 12, 2014

Peace

I got to speak in church a couple of weeks ago and as always benefitted more than anyone else from the experience.  Posting it below:

Good afternoon!  It's great to speak today- I always get a little nervous but have really appreciated the opportunity to work on a talk.  It's fun that Curtis and I are both speaking today and we don't have any toddlers making it impossible for us to both be up here.  Appreciate our kids holding down the row.  :)  Just for fun I'll give a brief introduction of our family.  We have lived in this ward for the last 7 years.  It took us awhile to acclimate to Texas but we really love it here and especially love this congregation- you've become our family.  Curtis and I met through a mutual friend when I was at BYU and and he was at UBC.  I still have the journal entry from the weekend we met- something about meeting the coolest guy but we will probably never see each other again.  But here we are, 17 wonderful years and 4 kids later.  I thank Heavenly Father everyday for these 5 people in my life!  We think it might be official- we've been Texified.  Not sure if I could ever handle another icy Michigan or absurdly long Minnesota winter.  So we might be here to stay.  :)

Well Brother deGraaf didn't assign me a topic so choosing was sort of a struggle.  There were a few things I wanted to speak about but I kept coming back to the topic of "Personal Peace."  


1) Peace signs are popular as are one line slogans like "war is not the answer" and "coexist" It only takes a few clicks on your computer to see that we are no where near the lofty goal of world peace though.  This can be depressing but let's look at the scriptures.  Matthew 10:34 Chirst says "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth." D&c 1:35 says that peace shall be taken from the earth.  But Christ promises peace as the fruit of the spirit and he is called "the prince of  peace."

2) the peace that Christ offers is Personal peace and it is attainable in this world.  It's actually critical not just a perk. Personal peace is a deep abiding comfort and confidence in our Father's Plan and in knowing that Christ has overcome the world.  President Heber J. Grant described the Savior’s peace this way: “His peace will ease our suffering, bind up our broken hearts, blot out our hates, engender in our breasts a love of fellow men that will suffuse our souls with calm and happiness. I don't know about you but a soul suffused with calm and happiness sounds amazing. 

3) The world, as always, offers a counterfeit version: pleasure, money, power, luxury vacations, spa treatments and buying more stuff but ultimately these things do not bring lasting peace and they can even create new stresses in our lives.  

4) Peace through Christ is manifest through the Holy Ghost.  Helaman 5:30 describes it beautifully: Perfect voice of stillness, mild but piercing.  How long has it been since you've felt that voice?  There are things we can to do in order to hear and feel the peace I'm talking about:

~ slow down, we are so busy racing from one activity to another that we are making important phone calls while driving and eating and using sign language to prepare our kids for the daily schedule.  And aside from the obvious physical danger that you may experience on the freeways this hyper business can also be devastating to our souls.  We desperately need time to quietly meditate, pray and turn our hearts to our Father in Heaven.  Words like ponder, deliberate, reflect... have become almost extinct in a society that worships traits like smooth talking, decisive, witty and charismatic.  There has been a real shift in our culture as far as which qualities we admire in people.  

~ don't go a day without talking to Heavenly Father and reading his word.  You wouldn't think of having your family skip breakfast.  and lunch.  and dinner right? and spiritual nourishment is even more critical than physical nourishment.  There are so many dailies that we need to do but prayer and scripture study is SO much more important than homework or piano practice or even (gasp) brushing your teeth!! 

~ Keep the commandments,  In this there is safety, in this there is peace.  When we realize that the commandments are there to help us avoid suffering, contention, pain and guilt- it becomes much easier to want to keep them.  I've had several people remark about the word of wisdom and how it's odd that we are asked to abstain from alcohol when it is clear that alcohol was consumed in the scriptures.  My answer to that is probably that alcohol is not inherently evil but God knows more than we do and knows that in our day we will have more peace and security if we just avoid it. Think of the time and toll that sin takes on us.  If we for example stretch a truth a little or cheat or work out a financial arrangement in a way that we know is dishonest... Now we have that swirling around in our heads and we have to spend time rationalizing why we did it and maybe we spend some more time looking around at others are doing it even more so we can feel better... all of this is robbing our souls of the precious peace and confidence that comes from doing our best to keep the commandments and repenting quickly and fully when we mess up

~ Peace can come to us through good music, nature, time at the temple and time serving others.  Take time for these impt activities.  I wasn't sure what to speak on at first but came to church and we sang:  "Be Still my Soul." Then the next week it was "Where can i turn for peace?"  Music is one of the most powerful ways that God communicates to us!

5) The last thing I want to mention is that peace is possible, even admidst life's greatest storms.  I have watched my own mother suffer such pain through some of the choices and circumstances with her children.  I am blown away at the serenity that she is able to find and hold on to.  I'm not suggesting she isn't affected because she most definitely is, but her faith anchors her and affords her a kind of peace that the world simply is not able to provide.  No therapist or amount of time walking int the mountains or eating organic berries or even doing yoga (and I love yoga) can offer the peace I am talking about.  It is the still quiet comforting reminder that this is not our home.  That we are strangers here and our souls long to be with our Heavenly Family.  This peace reminds us that being on earth is a little like looking in a funhouse mirror.  It's distorted and things that seem really important aren't at all and trials that seem to go on and on will feel like a small moment when we have better perspective.  The peace I'm talking about reminds us that Jesus Christ overcame death and sin.  Christ made it very clear that he did not come to establish peace and in fact in the very time that his birth was being heralded by angels singing "Glory to God, Peace on Earth" Kind Herod was slaughtering innocent babies.  Christ assured his disciples that they would have tribulation in the world but He also promised His peace.  Testimony and part of one of my favorite poems by William Wordsworth:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home

Friday, May 9, 2014

Belize

Welp- we finally did it!  After planning, I dunno, maybe 10 vacations and then talking ourselves out of it... one finally stuck.  Actually the main reason it worked out was because Curtis surprised me with the tickets bought and reservations made.  Which was such a gift because I am painfully indecisive about these things.  The only catch was that he included SCUBA certification in the whole deal and I was seriously, not okay with that.  


I've pretty much had a shark phobia since I was a kid.  And then there are my ears- they hurt when I dive into a 6 foot pool.  And then there's that part about breathing under water and what happens if you start coughing under water and then you panic and pretty much die?!  What about that?  But it was already set to go so I had to give it a try.  We got certified here in Katy and our instructor was the best.  We were also the only two in that particular session which is pretty rare but it was awesome!  I was so nervous for our open water dive.  We had to do it in this murky Texas lake that was 55 F!  We wore 11mm of wetsuits, which was so uncomfortable- I was sore in weird places for days after.  My ear hurt so bad on that dive and it was only 20 feet but in retrospect I think that was because we had been camping the day before and my allergies were going crazy.  

Anyway, long story short, we passed our certification and headed off to Belize two weeks later.  My mother-in-law and her sister flew down from Ontario to babysit and they were amazing but I'll post separately about that.  :)

We were there for 5 days and it was honestly the perfect vacation.  It was a brilliant combination of fun activities and relaxing down time.  We actually stayed on Ambergris Caye, an island right off the mainland.  It is pretty wild and doesn't have the pristine beaches like Mexico.  Our hotel was called Victoria House and it was so beautiful.  And very quiet- not a party resort at all.  Since it gets dark at about 6pm there we pretty much  went to bed by 10:30 every night.  We got up for the sunrise a few times, which was before 6am and it was so peaceful.  

We rented a golf cart to ride into town and eat, shop and just walk around.  The weather was humid, warm and salty and we felt very safe hanging out there.  Although I definitely felt like a tourist- no possible way to blend in.  Ambergris Caye is probably not for someone who is looking to get dressed up and be seen.


So the scuba was fantastic.  We did 3 dives and saw all kinds of cool creatures: rays, grouper, eels, a big sea turtle and lots of nurse sharks (which somehow I am no longer terrified of).  Our last two dives were about 60 feet and my ears didn't bother me at all.  In fact, Curtis actually had trouble with his (his allergies were acting up too so this definitely seems to be a factor).  He had a whole new appreciation for how I had been feeling back in Texas.  And funny story, on one of our dives he had to pee so bad once we were in the boat.  We drank a ton of water to stay hydrated and he was dying!  I mean I have never seen him so sad.  At first I was all panicky, wondering how I could help and then I thought, "hey this is for all the times when we were on road trips and he was annoyed with me for wanting a potty break.  And for all those times when I was pregnant and he didn't get the agony I was feeling."  So then I just enjoyed the moment.  :O 


Speaking of Curtis, I just seriously loved every moment with him.   I forgot how much I enjoy his company and conversation.  We tried to not talk about the kids or anything stressful and just laughed a lot.  My favorite moments were laying on the beach together with the warm breeze.  I read a super girly novel while there("Edenbrooke"), bought some really cool artwork, ate such delicious food, slept plenty and of course enjoyed hanging out with my number one.  


We also spent an afternoon fishing with a local fisherman.  He was hilarious- clearly didn't like tourists.  But I think he warmed up a bit to us.  Curtis caught tons of Snapper (which we brought home and ate for dinner- SO good!) and I pretty much caught everything but snapper: a barracuda, a ray, a blowfish, a big piece of coral, a houndfish... I think thats it.  Our boat trip was awesome too because we really had a chance to just enjoy that beautiful aqua water (that I have been been dreaming of my whole life!) and to look around.  Belize it so beautiful- I would love to go back!


So overall it was a perfect 10.  Now we are just wondering when we can go again! 































Friday, January 3, 2014

Pink and Yellow


We had a pink and yellow baby shower for a friend recently.  I forgot to take pics during the shower to show all the yummy food but here are a few beforehand shots.  The Peonies are my Favorite!! 







Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

Loved Today!

Lucy finally started preschool- not sure why it has to be two full weeks after elementary starts and it is further unclear why I have to pay full tuition for half a month... But I'm not complaining. I just had 10 hours completely to myself ( yesterday and today combined) and it was glorious!  I went to a super fun class at the gym called "Soul Grooves."  This is pretty much the only way a mom who doesn't hang out at bars can get her groove on.  Had lunch with some awesome ladies and even watched a good chick flick.  ahhhh zen!

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This time to myself is pretty much a first since having kids, although I did get a 2 month break when Dan was in preschool and I was huge miserable pregnant with Lucy.   Last year was such a whirlwind with homeschool, Rodan & Fields and all the other normal stuff that usually ensures a mom's insanity. Lots of people have asked if homeschool was "worth it" and I would definitely have to say yes. Just talked to a bunch of moms with college age children and they all agreed that time accelerates once they hit 8th grade and suddenly they're gone. I'm so thankful that we had last year with Jonah. We really made some amazing memories and just had so many conversations that we never would have had time for. We were both nervous for him to go back to school but so far things have gone really well.  I keep trying to take credit for his test scores but really, for now he's just a kid who sees the big picture and gets that if he works hard in school he'll have more options later in life.





Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wonky Star Quilt

I did manage to get a little sewing done this year.  This is the only quilt I made.  Sent it to my dear BFF from college! This one was actually a lot of fun to make and I spent forever picking out the fabric- trying to stick with orange, green and blue.  The backing was a dark blue on green polka dot.  And just because they make me so happy, some of my favorite collage pics of the girls hanging out at the House of Pain!





Sunday, July 7, 2013

Happy Birthday America!


The month of June is just a blur of swim team and scout camp.  More on that later.  Our Independence Day was actually really nice.  I usually invite several families over for swimming, BBQ and fireworks but was just not up to it this year.  But we did still go to our annual flag raising at the church at 8am!  It was a lot of fun and all three of the boys helped with the flag ceremony.  Then we all ate a potluck breakfast and watch the young kids ride their decorated bikes in a parade.  Lots of fun- I love my church family!

That afternoon our whole family went to see "Despicable Me 2."  I actually still haven't seen the first one but everyone else has and adores it.  The second one was hilarious.  Loved.  It.  We wanted to see it at the new Katy Palladium but I think everyone else had the same idea and their online purchasing wasn't working.  So we slummed it the mall.  Seriously after going to the Palladium everything else seems lame.  Huge comfy chairs, tons of great food  you can take into the theater (including suchi and gelato!), bowling downstairs and did I mention that you reserve your seats online so you don't have to wait in line for new movies!?

Anyway, back to July 4th.  I was planning on sort of a lame dinner but then our neighbors invited us over and that was so much better.  The kids swam while the adults talked and played bean bag throwing (which I stink at btw). 

Then we decided to try and watch fireworks this year instead of doing our own.  So we drove to the top of a parking structure and it was awesome- great view and no crowds getting home.  We still miss 4th of July in Excelsior, MN with all our friends, watching fireworks on Lake Minnetonka.  But this year was pretty dang good.  Happy Birthday America



Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

Thinking about my Dad this weekend.  I love that we have holidays to help us stop and reflect on our parents.  I have so many wonderful memories of my Dad- thought it would be fun to share a few:
 
 
I worked as a secretary/organizer at my Dad's State Farm office for a few summers.  It was mostly just my Dad, his secretary (pronounced sec-a-terry) Ann and me.  My Dad literally whistled while he worked and would often suddenly burst into song.  I remember one day giggling as he sang "She's Out of My Life" by Michael Jackson with a bit of a southern twang.  He was very warm to everyone he spoke with on the phone and always quick to share something about his faith at any time in the conversation.  I would sometimes walk into his office and find him lying flat on his back on the floor, just taking a little stretch/snooze.  Sometimes we would walk (hand in hand) to the French Bakery down the road and pick out something sweet (I still dream about those cherry turnovers) but mostly he ate a healthy lunch packed lovingly by my mom in his large metal lunchbox.
 
My Dad loves science and is always interested to hear about any new discoveries or just to discuss chemistry or physics.  I think he's more of an earth science guy- don't remember him loving biology as much.  And I am the same way.  LOVE science and I wonder how much of it was learned from my Dad. Sometimes I regretted asking him a science question because he always gave me the answer and then some! By the way, the moon is supposed to be amazing on Father's Day.  Can't wait to see it!
 
I love how quick my Dad is to make people feel welcome.  Often after sacrament meeting at church he would ask me to come along with him and shake hands with someone new or visiting and help them to feel welcome.  Just this week I had a few friends tell me that one of my strengths is that I help people to feel comfortable and wanted.  Pretty sure I learned that from my Dad. 
 
My Dad's faith is so important to him and it shows in everything he does.  He loves God and his son, Jesus Christ and is a scripture studying machine.  When I was younger I loved to sit by him in church and watch as he carefully used a red velvet pen and a red colored pencil to marks scriptures that touched him.  Then he would take notes with a black velvet State Farm Pen in the margins.  He has always taken his role as a teacher of faith seriously and doesn't hesitate to educate his family about the gospel.  I love hearing stories from when he was a patriarch.  He had some amazing experiences giving blessings and interacting with people.
 
 
My Dad was always doing some kind of unusual project in our yard.  I look back and wonder what the neighbors thought.  I remember painting our chain link fence silver one year.  And of course working in our MASSIVE garden to pick zucchini, tomatoes and peppers to name a few.  He built us kids an awesome playset that I'm pretty sure he designed himself.  And you could often find my Dad tinkering around in the garage, fixing something that others might have just thrown out.  We would sometimes be driving through the neighborhood and he would stop the car in front of someone's garbage pile to check it out.  I was pretty mortified at the time.... but now I do the same thing.  I also HATE throwing things away and usually try to find another use for it, fix it or find it a new home: courtesy of my Dad.
  

 
My Dad always stayed after at church events to help clean-up.  I don't even think he considered not doing it.  And he was quick to volunteer to help someone move or just help wherever needed.  I'm so thankful for his example- these are only a small sampling of the many wonderful memories I have of him.  Thanks for everything Dad.  Wish we could hang out for Father's Day but instead here's this big cyber hug!! LOVE YOU!

PS: So thankful my husband is carrying on the tradition :)  Love you too Curtis!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cub Scout Day Camp Den Leader Info

So Cub Scout Day Camp is here again!  I've mostly served as a Den Leader and love this job so that's what I'm doing again.  I took a few notes from years past and hope this is helpful to new den leaders.
 
Each den leader is responsible for about 8 boys.  You need to contact them the week before to let them know a few things (below) and to find out if there are any allergies or behavioral issues you need to be aware of.
 
1. Cubs need to wear their camp shirt everyday (they will receive it on the first day of camp)
2. Cubs also need to wear close toed tennis shoes.  Yes, they will get wet and muddy!
3. Each boy needs a lunch packed in a gallon zip lock bag with their Den Color and Number on it (den leaders should have received an email with this information and need to phone each cub to let them know as well).  Nothing from lunch can be saved and don't pack too much- the boys aren't very hungry in all that heat.  Please don't pack soda or too many sugary treats for them.
(There is more info but they will email it to you!:)
 
Den Leaders take home all of the boys cups and neckerchiefs each night for washing!  If you want to make them really happy, get the neckerchiefs wet and stick them in your freezer for a cool surprise the next day.  :)
 
Den Leaders also need to bring a wagon decked out with PVC pipe (or some other creative building stuff) so that they can carry around  papers, beads, ribbons, their Den Flag (which you will be decorating together at camp) and of course the boys' cups!  Lots of examples below.  It's nice to have some sort of bin inside your wagon too.
 
 



 

 
As a Den Leader, you will be rewarding your boys with beads many times everyday.  Make sure to reward them for drinking and going to the bathroom (with a buddy of course), helping out, being friendly, etc...
 
I use a bead organizing box and write each boys' name on the outside so I can throw his beads in there.  Then when we are back at our den table the boys can put their beads on their lanyards.  I like to have a fishing bobber thingy on the end of each lanyard to keep the beads in place.  Day Camp provides regular beads but you may want to buy some special ones of your own.
 
 
Mostly have fun with these adorable boys!  They are so sweet and Cub Camp is just a great opportunity for them!  


Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's May?

Seriously time flies.  I looked at my blog and could not believe I hadn't posted in well over 3 months!  So obviously things have been busy here.  But mostly good.  It has been such a beautiful spring and the weather is actually still not too hot!  More later...








Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bubbles


Does this make anyone else happy?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Happy Happy

Yep another birthday has come and gone!  Really I'm mostly grumpy about getting older b/c I can't jump on the trampoline or do backwalkovers or beat my kids in a race.... easily.  But really things aren't too bad and it's sure nice to have family and friends remember my special day with kind words and gifts.  Definitely feeling loved at the beginning of year 39.  :)  LYCath

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Amazing


So last month right at the start of December when I found myself complaining nonstop about how busy I was I decided to be in a musical.  ha!  First time in almost 20 years!  Yikes that makes me feel old.  A friend of mine is starting an amateur theater group here in Katy.  I have a soft spot for this type of venture because I have so many wonderful memories of my own family being participating in community productions. 

So I jumped in and truth be told it made Decembe super crazy.  Curtis took it like a man and held down the fort while I left several times a week for hours and hours!  Daniel chose to be in the children's chorus so he got to come to a lot of the practices.  I have to admit that practices were an absolute blast and I began to really look forward to them.  I didn't know about half of the cast- almost all were members of my church but from various congregations.  There was also the cutest English couple who are not LDS and it took them awhile to figure out that they were hugely in the minority! 

Being in a play is such a unique experience- I wish everyone could do it at least once.  That same cute English couple said that back home amateur theater is very popular and many people are in a few productions each year!  I love that!  Why is it that here you only get to do fun stuff if you are super star talented or a kid?!  So annoying.  Annnyway- I have discovered that my brain is not as nimble as it was when I was a teenager (or maybe it's just too full of other stuff now- yeah that) but I really had to work at learning the words, harmony and choreography.  That work paid off though and it was so rewarding to be a part of such a fun show!  I had never even heard the music from "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" before. I have to say that I have watched the Donny Osmond version and ours is seriously better. :)

Our final performance was last night and we all felt a little blue about it ending.  I just adore the entire cast and had so much fun working with and getting to know them.  Daniel loved it too and says he definitely wants to do another show.  I feel a little bit changed by this.  I'm just reminded that I should remember to do things that I love and not just clean toilets and yell at kids all day.