What’s lost is found

I feel like so much has happened in such a short amount of time. From and outside perspective none of it seems monumental. No one went to college and no births occurred. No birthdays were had. Although we did celebrate our 17th anniversary.
The kind of events in referring to are of a spiritual nature. I feel changed for the better. Ok a way that’s hard to describe but I will try.

I was so grateful for last Thursday and that I had prayed to know how to keep peace in my heart. I did not realize I was going to get to utilize that knowledge in such abundance over the span of the coming week.
It all started with a four hour delay and not getting home till after 10:30. I was so tired from many nights of not sleeping well (and everything is harder for me when I’m tired) we pulled into the garage and Ryan noticed his brand new bike, he bought it Saturday and it was his birthday and Christmas gift, was gone. Apparently when the kids were riding bikes earlier around the neighborhood they left the garage open and someone stole it. Emma had noticed it was got but forgot to tell Ryan.
I was so upset. We both were. This bike was to be the means of some solid family time. Ryan never does things for himself. He is always giving his time for everyone else. The next morning when I woke up I still felt frustrated but hopeful that maybe it could be recovered. We filed a report with the police and put up signs.
As I went to study my scriptures I thought of the 30 day challenge and realized my deepest desire was to recover that bike. I pleaded with the Lord that if it be His will would he help me to know what more I could do to help recover the bike?
I did have the thought to put up flyers by the skatepark near us but other then that as I read scriptures nothing came. I remembered I had started reading an article from last months ensign on the plane but got interrupted before I was done.

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I journaled this after reading that article “We may never find the bike. I understand that. As Ryan put it, “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh” As I read the above I felt peace regarding the situation. Regardless of what happens I know He is aware of us. I can let go now and trust this peaceful feeling. I know He will lead me when the timing is right. And that may just mean that He will lead us to happiness regardless of if we find the bike or not. I feel more peace and for that I’m grateful. ”

On Friday morning I was talking to my sister-in-law Allie about the missing bike and I this story came to my mind.

“There is a Chinese story of a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they let him off. Now was that good luck or bad luck?

Who knows?

Everything that seems on the surface to be an evil may be a good in disguise. And everything that seems good on the surface may really be an evil. So we are wise when we leave it to God to decide what is good fortune and what misfortune, and thank him that all things turn out for good with those who love him.”

I again felt peace in regards to the lost bike.

Later that day Ryan received a phone call letting him know that some kids had found his bike. They found it in a wash and had seen the signs.

I feel losing the bike and then finding it in a miraculous way, especially after Heavenly Father helped me to be at peace that it might be forever lost, has been a huge blessing to me personally. I am being taught how to ask for things with sincerity of heart while still finding peace in His will.

It’s a lesson I hope is seared into my heart.

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Phoenix Arizona Temple Dedication

Sunday was one of those beautiful moments you hope to freeze in time. As I read this blog post here She described how I felt perfectly. She refers to those times in life where heaven feels so close you could reach out and touch it as “thin places”. As I stood in the chapel with my children waving our arms with our white handkerchiefs I was in one of those sacred thin places.

Since Saturday had not gone as planned (more on that later) I had forgotten to get handkerchiefs for the temple dedication. I realized I probably had fabric and I could make them quicker the. I could find some since I had no idea where they would be sold. I look through my box of fabric and found a table runner that I believe was my grandma Stagges. When she passed away I was a senior in high school. We walked through her house and my mom said I could grab a couple things that would help me to remember her. I carefully selected a vanity set, it was a brush, comb and mirror. Some costume jewelry and some linens. The table runner I found Saturday night was white with lace and I thought it would perfect.

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As I’m cutting and sewing my kids asked what I was doing and I realized I had not prepared them very well for this important day. It was bedtime and I didn’t have time to explain in much depth.
I woke up earlier Sunday morning and asked Heavenly Father to help me to know how to prepare myself and my children for what we were about to be a part of.
I listened to this talk, which was given preparatory to the new conference center dedicatory prayer and hosanna shout.

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2000/10/this-great-millennial-year?lang=eng

At the end he shows how to give the hosanna shout and then you get to witness the whole conference center give it. Just watching that was so powerful and moving for me. I knew I had to share that with my children.
I also found this great quote
“At the capstone ceremony, President George Q. Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency, said “that there may be no misunderstanding about the manner in which the shout of Hosanna should be given when the capstone should be laid, Pres. Lorenzo Snow would drill the congregation in the shout.” Then President Snow said, “This is no ordinary order, but is—and we wish it to be distinctly understood—a sacred shout, and employed only on extraordinary occasions like the one now before us.” He urged them with these words: “We wish the Saints to feel when they pronounce this shout that it comes from their hearts. Let your hearts be filled with thanksgiving,” adding, “Now when we go before the temple and this shout goes forth, we want every man and every woman to shout these words to the very extent of their voice, so that every house in this city may tremble, the people in every portion of this city hear it and it may reach to the eternal worlds.” He finally told the congregation that the sacred shout “was given in the heavens when ‘all the sons of God shouted for joy’ [Job 38:7].”

I felt impressed to gather my children around and share that quote. Then we watched the hosanna shout. Tears came to my eyes and I could feel the excitement build in my children as they realized they got to partake in this special spiritual experience.

We arrived early to the chapel, where the dedication was to be broadcast. We got to sit in the very front row right in front of the TV. While we waited they showed pictures of temples round the world and we listened to angelic music being played.

During the dedication it was so cute because Joshua kept asking “is it time for the shout?”

Studying before hand the hosanna shout gave more meaning to the experience. I really tried to feel with my whole soul my feelings about the gospel. My love for my Heavenly Father. And my gratitude for my Savior and the atonement and His love that he so willingly offers us. I am so grateful I got to share this day with my family.

Weathering the Storm

“Where much is required, much more will be given.” Quote from oct 2014 conference titled Prepared in a Manner That Never Had Been Known

That phrase jumped out at my like a bear that had just upset a beehive.

Sometimes life throws hard things our way. Really hard. The sit down in the corner and suck your thumb hard. I hold onto a belief that God does not leave us alone. He strengthens us so that we can get up after we hold ourselves a little pity party. Turning to Him is really the only logical thing to do. Otherwise some of us might never leave our homes. Metaphorically speaking of course.

After the storms have come and the roads have dried up, if we have turned to our Lord, we can see the added blessings that have entered into our lives. The sun feels warmer and shines brighter. The path seems easier to trod and the next time the winds starts to blow and the cold sets in we have an added layer of strength that protects us and we even start to see the beauty in the wind.

It’s kind of like adding on layers before going out into the cold snow. Every time hard things come at us we have the choose to turn to the Lord. As we do so we in essence put on another layer, Maybe just some socks at first, to fight the cold. But as we continue to listen to His will above our own, we add layers. A scarf here, mittens there. An extra sweater, and nice warm hat. Fur lined boots and a fur lined jacket.

That first step into the cold with all that warmth makes it not only bearable but more importantly, comfortable. And in that moment of warmth you are able to look around noticing the beauty of the white topped trees. Each snowflake pulls you into its beauty.

Really that’s the ultimate goal. The one I am striving for. To be able to embrace the hardships, to see the beauty in the journey. To honestly feel grateful in the hardship. Elder Ucthdorf put it this way. “I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances–whatever they may be.”
Doesn’t that sound glorious.

A few weeks back I volunteered at the kids school carnival. I was running a booth with another dad. We got to talking about our kids and when he heard I had six children he looked at me like I was crazy and said, “and you’re still smiling? Oh you are one of those people. The happy kind. That’s nice for you”. At first I didn’t know what to think about that. But with the blessing of time I have come to find deep gratitude for this mans comment. I am one of those people. Not all the time but I am really striving to be happy in my trials. And I want people to see of me. “Oh look there goes Susan. She is one of those people who turns to the Lord.”

Sometimes though life feels more like you are ill prepared for the snow, like I was while in Denver, you walk with your head down just trying to endure. Your steps are quick and you just want to get as far away as you can from the the freezing weather.

30 days

I have began actively reading the book I bought yesterday, Change your Question, Change your Life. I say actively because it is filled with action steps on the readers part. What I love about it is that you don’t have to read it in order. You can pick any section and begin.
As I was flipping through yesterday I came across this challenge

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I have had experiences lately where I have found answers in the scriptures when remembered to ask first.
My first question is How do I invite the spirit of peace, that I have felt while away from my daily tasks, into my everyday life?
When I opened my scripture app it was already open to The Living Christ and these words jumped out at me. “He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.”
The very first thing I read gave me the beginnings of my answer. I think I get so caught up in just living life I forget to center my whole day and my whole life around the one person who can give me that peace I am searching for. I truly believe He is the light that leads to happiness.

In addition to the book I also bought a model of a oil lamp and vessel.

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One of my favorite scriptural accounts is that of the 10 virgins. The symbol of the constant need of our Savior as the light that leads the way is one that is worth deep reflection.
I decided to search conference talks that discuss the ten virgins.
I found this one. Prepared in a Manner That Never Had Been Known.

As I read the account of the ten virgins I noticed something I had never before seen.

IMG_9540.PNG The 5 wise could not give of their oil. We know it is meant to symbolize their constant, consistent effort to strive to be close to the Savior. Drop by drop they added daily to their testimonies. I have felt at times the longing to be able to give my testimony to someone I love. To hand them what I have worked my lifetime to strengthen and develop. To give them of the knowledge I have of our Saviors love. But all I can do is bare testimony that I know My Savior lives and that I know He can come to us if we seek Him. But then the work lies on that person. They have to put in the time and effort to know He lives. The 5 wise seemed to understand this principle. “Go ye unto them that sell and buy for yourselves”. As I read it this time I saw it as a pleading. Almost as if they were saying “He is coming soon. Do you know that He wants you there, even more then you might want to be there? Do you know how much He loves you and cares for you? Even if right now your lamp is empty and you feel alone and disappointed He is willing to help you fill that vessel, but you need to go now in preparation before Him. You need to really pray and seek Him. Please, I plead with you to know He wants to help you. Go know.” The 5 wise knew the effort it took to fill their vessels. They understood the strength it took to produce even 1 drop of oil because they had already gone through a lifetime of striving to come unto Him.

As I work daily to come unto my Savior it then becomes my task to invite others to also come unto Him. In order to really have peace in my daily life I get to put my Savior above everyone else in my life. I get to fill my own lamp and my own vessel BEFORE I can help lift my children or others I serve to fill their own vessels. I often times get so busy with my daily tasks I forget the one that matters most.

Then I wonder what do I need to do to fill my vessel? President Spencer W Kimball taught ““Attendance at sacrament meetings adds oil to our lamps, drop by drop over the years. Fasting, family prayer, home teaching, control of bodily appetites, preaching the gospel, studying the scriptures–each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store. Deeds of kindness, payment of offerings and tithes, chaste thoughts and actions … –these, too, contribute importantly to the oil with which we can at midnight refuel our exhausted lamps.”

There isn’t one magic huge act that will help me to be filled with greater peace. It is in the daily act of putting my Savior first. I’m seeing more and more that it is in obedience to the Lord. It is daily following the impressions I receive.

If all of that information came from just one question I am really excited to see what the next 30 days brings.

Last full day Denver

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I’m leaving just in time. Look how cold it’s going to get. I guess I’m more used to Arizona then I realized. This weather is soooo cold. It is currently snowing and it’s kind of fun… For a day. I’m actually realizing why we moved to the heat. Because we don’t want to live in the cold.

I haven’t done anything fantastic today and that feels really nice. Went to the grocery store and cleaned up a bit so it looks good when my sister and her husband get home tonight. Dinners in the crockpot and fudge is in the freezer.

I did go to Deseret book and took my time looking around. I didn’t end up buying much but I loved looking around. I did find this book

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When the boys got home we warmed up with hot chocolate and enjoyed being inside while this is happening outside.
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Stay warm people.

Biscoff fudge

In my sisters cupboard she has this amazing stuff.

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I knew I needed to make something out of this. Church here doesn’t start till 1 so I had time to kill. I put on my sisters apron and went to work.

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I made amazing PB fudge last week and decided I needed to use the Biscoff in place of the PB.
I found the recipe here. The only thing I changed was I used almond milk and the Biscoff in place of the PB.
I overlooked it by about 20 seconds so it crumbles a little but it is still amazing.

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I forgot to take a picture before I put it all away. Im putting the leftovers in the fridge because, obvi, fudge is best when frozen.

Tourist

As a mom to 6 I don’t spend a lot of time just by myself doing things I want to do. When the kids are in bed I’m enjoying my husband. While they are at school the busy mom stuff stuff happens, or if I take a break it makes angry eyes at me tell me to get back to work. While in Denver I have none of that. I dropped the boys off at 6 and 7 this morning then I had till 3:10 to do WHATEVER I FELT LIKE. And it was amazing.

After dropping the boys off I headed here.

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This beautiful place is ten minutes from my sisters house. I had brought a name with me to do temple work for. Sarah Davis is my great great grandpa’s second wife. His first wife died pretty young and we just recently found out he remarried. How great is that?
I felt such a feeling of peace from the moment I decided to go to the temple. When I walked in the man at the reception desk commented on my huge smile. How could I not smile while in the Lords house? I just felt so grateful to be there. I have been feeling anxiety creeping back into my life and the peace I felt there today was the perfect cure.
When I walked out this was my view.

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It is so beautiful here. Everywhere I looked their would be something new I was swooning over. The architecture here is the style I love.
Once I left the temple I headed over to the art museum. It has two buildings. 7 stories in one and 4 in the other. I felt so inspired while I was there. I felt the need to create beauty. For awhile not I have wished I could paint or draw like my brother. Who Is truly amazing by the way.

IMG_9481.JPG Thats a self portrait he painted.
I see images in my mind that I wish I could draw. But today I felt content. I love photography and maybe it’s time I learn to take that to a whole new level. I realized I have my form of creativity. And I want to learn more about how to make it into beautiful art that will glorify the Lord.

Some of my absolute favorite art works from today were people and landscape. I love how an artist can capture emotion through the lift of an eyebrow or a down turned smile.

Here are a few of the ones that really inspired me.

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I feel recharged and energized. I miss my family though. If only I could have alone time with my family. Oxymoron at its finest.

Ryan turned 40

It’s funny how when you are a kid 40 sounds so old. Then you get close to that age and you realize that’s still pretty young.

My amazing husband only gets better with time. Seriously. He is more handsome then I could have ever dreamed. He is my center. Often I find myself just in awe at how lucky I am to have found this man. I was telling a lady I meet on the plane today how much I really like my husband. He leads our family in righteousness.

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I made it.

Denver Colorado is going to be explored tomorrow. I flew here yesterday to be with my sisters boys so she could have a little getaway with her husband. I got into town just before the boys got home from school. Zach and Ethan are fun to chat with. And it’s so nice to get to spend time with them and get to know them a little better.

They both play guitar and are really good. I’ve been thinking about learning how and now I really want to. We did make rolled sugar cookies just for cause.

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They ended up being way to sweet but they looked cool.

Tomorrow while they are at school I plan on doing some site seeing. Not sure what yet but something awesome.

This weekend was s whirlwind of greatness. My brother and sister-in-law and family came to visit. Oh how we miss family. The cousins got to play and we enjoyed visiting.

And who better to go trick or treating with then cousins? Last minute I made costumes for Jacob and I.

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He is such a cute big bad wolf.
And I also made a little Clark Kent costume for my nephew.

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I’m hoping to upload pictures from Snap (my good camera) later today.

For the first time Jared and Sarah didn’t go trick or treating. Jared hung out with friends watching a basketball game and Sarah went to a friends party. She said it was 007 themed and a ton of fun. The party was on a farm and they had to try and get back to the fire (about a mile away) without being caught. Im just so grateful my kids have good friends.

On Saturday the kids went to the skatepark with cousins. And later Ryan helped Sarah make a music video click http://youtu.be/lv9cMChzOIs“>here to see it. She has amazing talent. The song wasn’t in her range but she went for it anyway and I think she is amazing. I could only hope to be as courageous as she is.

Then on Sunday we had stake conference for our church. Often times in big meetings were we learn so much great info I try to take one nugget and really focus on that. Here is the nugget I walked away with.

“When the Wind Blows”

Years ago a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops. As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received nothing but refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer.
“Are you a good farm hand?” the farmer asked him.
“Well, I can sleep when the wind blows,” answered the little man.
Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man’s work.

Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, “Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!” The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”

Enraged by the old man’s response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, and he returned to bed to also sleep while the wind blew.
Author Unknown

This story really had me reflecting upon my own life. Am I prepared to handle the storms with calm and peace in my heart? Have I taught my children how to do the same?

More thoughts on that in a post to come.

And if all of that was not fantastic enough we got to have lunch with Ryan’s extended family. Cousins and second cousins. Aunt and uncle and even Grandma. She is finally home from rehab after a nasty fall which caused her to break her hip.

Today life feels so very full.