- Hogs: 4. 2 gilts, 2 barrows. Weighing 83, 81, 77, 71 lbs.
- Chicks: 19. Probably hens. Previously cute fluff balls. Currently awkward, gangling adolescents
- Lambs: 3. 2 ewe lambs, 1 ram lamb. Black. Adorable. ADORABLE!!!
- Garden: Peas, spinach, radishes, lettuce, beets, and carrots planted and visible above ground.
- Trees: Trimmed. Popcorn was popping on the apricot tree. Peach tree currently in full bloom.
- Children: 4. Alive and well. Healthy and happy. And sassy.
- Parents: Alive and...well....mostly healthy, usually happy and very sassy.
Blossoms and babies, lambs and lettuce, pigs and peas, chicks and Chacos....and California cousins! Here is our spring inventory:
About six weeks ago I found myself in an awful dilemma in an awful storm and I felt awful (VERY!). Due to a mistake that was entirely my own, I was wet and cold and tired. Worse yet, my mistake caused 80 innocent people, people who trustingly followed me, to be wet and cold and tired as well. In the moment I was helpless and hopeless. There was nothing I could do to save myself or the innocents I caused to suffer. Yep, I felt awful.
Then, miraculously, two yellow school buses appeared. They opened their doors and delivered us from the storm.
I did nothing to merit our rescue. I did not pay any money; I did not pull any favors. The people responsible for the buses owed me nothing; they served us solely because they were good and we were in need. Thanks to their goodness, mercy and compassion, a service was provided for me (and those I had hurt) that I could not do for myself or for them. Free. Unmerited.
About two weeks ago, traveling back from my bike adventure in Mesquite, I again encountered a snow storm. This time I was in a car so being cold and wet was not an issue (though I was very definitely tired…) but I found myself again dealing with driving snow and low visibility. Conditions were not ideal. I reduced my speed to less than half the posted limit and crawled cautiously up the interstate.
With both hands gripping the steering wheel and both eyes focused on the road, my mind meandered to my youth. I remembered my father’s storm-driving advice. “If you can,” he said, “follow a bus in a storm. Because they are heavy with a low center of gravity they travel well in storms. Follow a bus and let it lead you to safety.”
Within minutes a yellow school bus passed me. I tucked in behind it and it led me safely home.
School buses…..rescued me when I was helpless and hopeless……eased my suffering and the suffering of those I caused to suffer…..did for me what I could not do for myself……..gave me a free, unmerited gift………...and guided me safely home.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ rescues us when we are helpless and hopeless. He can deliver us from life’s storms. Through His infinite atonement He did for us what we cannot do for ourselves; He broke the binding bands of death and paid the price justice demands for the eternal laws we break and the heartache we create. Because He suffered “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” He is filled with mercy and He knows “according to the flesh...how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:11-12) As our Creator, He has already given us everything; He owes us nothing yet He gives us access to all things. His gift is free and unmerited. And, if we follow Him, He will guide us back home to a glorious place where we can live again with Him and His Father and our families forever and ever.
I am grateful for school buses. I am much, MUCH more grateful for Jesus Christ. This Easter season may our hearts be filled with gratitude for Jesus Christ and His precious, priceless gift. And, even more importantly, may we all follow Him home.
Madness came in March again…..
My sister and I, undeterred by our previous biking adventures (...or perhaps encouraged by them…..) met up in Mesquite again this year and participated in the 2018 March Madness 65 miles bike ride. Good times.
The good times were slow to start. In fact, I was not sure they would start at all. Late Friday night, while unloading my bike from the back of the truck, the chain broke. All the bike shops in Mesquite has closed hours previously and they would not open again until after the event was scheduled to start. A chainless bike is about as effective as a bum steer. It might look nice but it would not get the job done.
My stress was unnecessary. (Is any stress necessary?) At the registration table, a kind lady told me to ask the Red Rock Bicycle Company’s bike mechanic and pointed me to a man wearing Chacos (clearly a good omen!). After listening to my sad story, he indicated he could probably help and asked me if I had the chain with me. (I must have looked as stupid as I felt….and I would have felt even more stupid if I’d left the chain behind!.)
“You are in luck,” he said as he fished a small something out of his toolbox and, after threading the chain back through all the sprockets, spokes and speed ring things, used it to reconnect my chain. Good news!
And the good times started...but they did not start quickly. In fact, there was nothing quick about it at all. Marjorie and I crossed the start line a 5:03 minutes after the leaders. We crossed the finish line almost four hours after the leaders. [The FIRST person to finish the 65 mile ride was a 63 year old woman who did it in 2:52:05.23. It took us 6:45:51.58.]
We were not quick but there were several quick things associated with the event.
Twenty-two and a half miles into the ride, at the first fabulous food (and drink and potty) station, it became very clear to me that short sleeves,short pants, and short shoes (i.e. Chacos) were not enough to keep me warm. I sent a short text (“Help!”) to Lance and he quickly responded. Bless him and bless him! He brought me a warm jacket and then spent the rest of the day shadowing Marjorie and I as we completed the course.
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Miles and James were quick thinkers. Lance, coming to my rescue, left very quickly, so quickly that he had not time to think about, much less act upon, the need to check out of the hotel room. Miles and James, on an unrelated errand at the hotel service desk, thought to ask about check out time. When they learned they had to be out of the hotel room in 15 minutes, they quickly packed up everything (even Lance’s dress shoes that had been thrown in a corner) and moved out. Impressive action for a couple of teenage boys!
Quicker even than Miles and James moved from the cold pool to the hot tub was the wind that howled through the canyons Marjorie and I were navigating. Oh my lands! Heading out, toward Beaver Dam, it felt like a great day. Confidence surged, until we observed the riders coming back from the turn-around point. They were working….hard! We felt great because we had a tail wind. When turned around, our tailwind turned to a head wind and our confidence blew away. We had to pedal going downhill. Uphills (and there were several significant ones) were brutal. Brutal!
But we did it. We did it! My sweet sister and I did it. No one and nothing can take that away from us. It was hard. And we did it. We did it! And it was good times. Not quick times but good times. And our good memories of the good times will last a long, long time.
As a freshman at Madras High School, my opinion of my abilities was super-sized (13 years before McDonald’s coined the phrase). My father taught me that I could do anything I set my mind to and I believed him. The science teacher had to re-calibrate the class curve so that my high score did not push everyone’s grade down, the oh-my-gosh-oh-so-wonderful senior and star of the basketball team (Ronnie Wilson--I held my breath when I passed him in the hall…...) asked me to dance more than once, and I was the second highest scorer of points on the varsity track team. It was a golden time.
Like most freshman girls (and like many, many young people who are not freshman and not even necessarily girls) I hero worshipped my track coach. Mr. Wiles made a big impression on me and I worked hard to impress him. My hard work and subsequent success led to a bit (maybe more than a bit….) of arrogance and I frequently fantasized that Mr. Wiles wished I were his daughter. I dreamed of replacing Janelle (his biological daughter whom I had never met) in his affections. Given my incredible (in my mind) accomplishments , how could he not wish that I were his daughter?
Now, as a mother, I have an answer to that question. I am certain that Mr. Wiles did not wish I were his daughter for the same reason I do not wish that anyone else’s daughter (or son) were mine. While I cannot specifically wrap words around the reason, it is real. My children are part of me in a very literal, guttural, fundamental, chromosomal way. They touch my heart in places inaccessible to anyone else. I love them as myself, indeed more than myself. Physically they are an extension of my life. Emotionally they extend and enrich my life.
Wish that someone else’s accomplished child were my own? Never. Not for a nanosecond.
My children have done some great things--both Chick and Tanah recently earned raises and got promotions at work, Grace had the leading role in the high school play and just received her FFA State Farmer Degree, Miles was accepted into the Project Lead the Way program--but they also have some struggles, details about which I will not share because they are not my stories to tell. As great as our children are, there are children (many) out there more accomplished than ours--children who have earned better scholarships, who are better athletes, and who have served in better leadership positions--but there are no children anywhere that fit better in my heart. They fit perfectly.
I think we fit into Heavenly Father’s heart in much the same way.
I don’t get lost in the woods…..
Friday I took all OPA 8th graders who did a science fair project to the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point. This is my fourth time taking students to the museum and, in their end of year reviews, it consistently ranks as one of their favorite field trips. We spend the day adventuring--riding the train to and from the museum and exploring with abandon inside the museum. Good times.
Friday dawned cold and snowy, so cold and snowy, in fact, that one could not even see the dawn….or the sun...or the mountains. A student texted me “Considering the weather, are we still going on the field trip?” “Yes,” I responded. “Snow does not bother trains.”
We boarded the train in snowy conditions in Ogden and exited the train in snowy conditions in Lehi. Plans called for us to walk the half mile from the train station to the museum. Though we were in near blizzard conditions--visibility about 300 yards, snow flurries, and temperatures in the low 20’s with a wind chill factor that made it seem significantly colders--I was not worried. It is difficult to kill an 8th grader; walking a half mile in these conditions would be good for them.
I wasn’t worried until I got off the train, directed my group to walk north, and did not recognize anything. Granted, visibility was restricted but I did not recognize anything. Nothing. The kids ran animatedly ahead, pleased to be free from school’s normal restrictions. My concern grew as the distance between us and the train station we were leaving behind grew. I did not recognize a thing. I had done this same trip multiple times. Where did I grow wrong?
Aware of my ability to mix things up, I called the museum. “Are we supposed to get off the train at the Lehi stop?” I asked. Yes. Just follow Garden Street north, I was told, and you will reach us. Okay. We were on Garden Street and were heading north. We had to get there soon.
But we didn’t…. We did not get there and looking ahead I could not see any sign that we were going to get there. We were in a subdivision where no subdivision should exist. I called the museum again. “We are in the middle of a subdivision,” I told them. “I don’t know where you are,” they responded. “I don’t either,” I said.
I found street signs on a cross street and gave them my coordinates. “You are a long way away,” they said. “Keep going north and the street you are on will turn into Garden Street and the museum is on Garden Street.”
I told Amamda, a parent who was with me and who had found our location and destination on her smartphone,
“We just have to keep heading north and we will get there.”
“We are going south,” she said.
South? SOUTH???? NO!!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Unable to see the mountains because of the near-whiteout I had become disoriented and had led the group (80 students and 10 parents) a half mile in the wrong direction...which meant we had to go back a half mile and then we would still have a half mile to go to the museum...and the storm was worsening.
We turned around and began walking back. When we were walking the wrong direction the wind was to our backs so the blowing snow was not so bad. When we retraced our steps we were heading into the wind. Snow pellets stung our faces. Jovial lightheartedness was replaced by a dogged endurance. Talking and laughing ceased. It was cold. COLD.
My phone rang. “This is Katherine. I have the museum van. It only holds 12 passengers but I am coming to get you.”
My mind whirled, figuring out how to get transport nearly 100 people in a 12 passenger van….. We’d congregate in the tunnel under the train stop (a concrete tube, unheated but sheltered). Women and children first. I would send the least physically fit female chaperone with the coldest, frailest girls in the first van load, and then, triage fashion, rank those who remained in ride order. I would challenge all who remained to “man up” and walk with me the half mile to the museum. Assuming that some would accept my challenge, I would walk with as many as would to the museum, leaving Mr. Zundell (the OPA employee accompanying me) supervise those remaining at the station. It was not an ideal situation but at least it offered some hope.
Eventually we made it back to the train station, very cold and wet but not whining. At least not to me.
Just after everyone went into the tunnel under the train stop Katherine showed up in the van and, just after Katherine showed up in the van, two big yellow school busses pulled up. TWO BIG YELLOW SCHOOL BUSSES!
The museum hosts kids from multiple schools in a day. A school from Alpine School District was visiting the museum that day as well. Katherine had approached the drivers of the busses that transported those students, explained our plight, and asked if they would come to our rescue. And they did.
It was a gracious gift from God and a testament to the goodness of people. I was honestly worried. The kids were cold. COLD. And wet. Being junior high kids, they were not adequately dressed. Most were wearing only hoodies and canvas shoes. One girl was in a skirt and a couple boys were in shorts. My fingers and toes were cold and both were encased in leather. I could only imagine how their unprotected digits felt. I knew we could walk to the museum if we had too but I knew it would be a miserable, MISERABLE experience and I felt so, so, SO bad. Awful. Truly awful.
The busses showed up like gifts from God. I know what angels looks like. One of my angels is a Latino with a warm smile and he is driving a big yellow bus. Another is a sandy-haired woman who also drives a big yellow bus. And a third has short, curly brown hair and shows up in a Museum of Natural Curiosity van.
I understand the principle of grace a little better now. I was given a free and unmerited gift. I messed up. TOTALLY MESSED UP. And, in so doing, caused almost 100 innocent people to suffer. And there was nothing I could do, NOTHING, to remedy the situation.I felt horrible--HORRIBLE--but I could not make it right.
Enter grace. I did nothing to merit our rescue. I did not pay any money. None of those people owed me favors; they did not even know me!. But, thanks to their goodness, mercy and compassion, a service was provided for me (and those I had hurt) that I could not do for myself. Free. Unmerited.
Thank you Katherine, Felix, and Janae for being graceful instruments in God’s hands
NOTE: All student photos are published with consent.
I don’t get lost in the woods…..
Last Friday I attended the Utah Science Teachers Association annual conference. The conference began in Provo at 9:00 a.m. Thinking I would avoid traffic and parking woes, I decided to ride the train and arrived at the Roy station at 6:30 a.m., 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure. Determined to make good use of my time, I sat and began responding to the backlog of emails that had accumulated in my inbox.
The northbound/Ogden train pulled up in front of me. It was loud, so loud that I did not hear the southbound/Provo train that pulled up behind me. I was still answering emails when the southbound train started to pull away. I watched helplessly--one cannot flag down a departing train--as it gained speed heading down the track.
Thank heavens for cell phones and husbands. I called Lance. He came to my rescue and we began a desperate race to catch the train. Looking at the train schedule and the traffic situation we figured out best bet for intersecting the train was at Woods Cross and began our pursuit. Fortuitously we arrived at the Woods Cross station 3 minutes before the train. Phew! I would be to the conference on time after all…..
….or not. I answered a few more emails and dozed some as the train headed to Provo. The dozing was particularly appreciated as I’d been up since 12:30 a.m., having been kept awake by racing thoughts and long task lists. I got to doze more than anticipated because the train had “door issues” and was delayed in Salt Lake City for 20 minutes. I walked as quickly as I could from the train station to the conference but arrived late and was unable to hear the keynote speaker. Fortuitously I had more time to catch up on emails.
The conference ended at 3:30 and it was critical I catch the 3:50 train so I could get home in time to join my family for our planned theater adventure that evening. I had no worries about catching the train. It took me 15 minutes of walking straight east to get from the station to the conference center; 15 minutes of walking straight west should get me to the train station with 5 minutes to spare.
I met up with a colleague after the conference and we began our trek to the train station. We’d been walking a bit when Shane consulted Google Maps. “It says we should be walking south,” he said. Positive that I’d walked east that morning on the way from the station, I insisted we continue walking west toward the station.
I was positive the station was west of the conference center.
I was wrong. By the time I accepted the fact that the train station was really south, we’d walked over a half mile in the wrong direction and I’d missed the train AGAIN!
Missing the train made it impossible to meet my family as planned. I’d also planned on napping on the train so that I could stay awake during the play. Gone were the plans for naps and family meetings. Fortuitously the train passed by the theater where we had tickets so my new plan was to get off the train near the theater, walk to the theater, and meet the family there.
The train had stops in Draper and South Jordan. I knew the theater was in Sandy and I knew that Sandy was next to Draper. I did not know where South Jordan was so I got off in Draper, figuring I’d just walk to Sandy...which I did. Five miles. FIVE MILES!
Fortuitously I’d worn Chacos with my dress so I made the trek in hiking sandals. Fortuitously there was no snow on the ground. My phone died en route so I was not exactly sure where to find the theater. Fortuitously our school tech specialist had mentioned in passing that my new Chromebook could be used to charge a phone and, double fortuitously, I had the cords necessary to do so. Fortuitously the phone rebooted at the intersection where knowing where I was going was critical and I made the correct turn. Fortuitously I had thrown away the cookie and potato chips I was given at lunch which prevented me from eating junk food when it became apparent that dinner was not on the night’s agenda. Fortuitously the stress of not knowing where I was going, of walking five miles in a dress in an unfamiliar place in fading daylight and then dark night, of missing the train not once but twice, and of missing dinner had me so wound up that I was able to stay awake for the play. And, most fortuitously of all, my family let me ride home with them so missing the train for the third time that day was not an option!
Life is good!
I need more love. Really.
If I had more love I would not irritated by the kid, halfway through the school year’s third quarter, who still does not bring a pen or pencil to class, by the dirty dishes I find on the counter that I left clean when I went to bed the night before, or by incessant, irreverent diatribes that flood the airwaves, newspapers, and Internet.
If I had more love the non-pencil bearing student would want to come prepared to class, my family would yearn to clean up after themselves (Wouldn’t that be nice!!), and, with enough more love, I could even restore light, hope, and respect to public dialogue. Love-filled people before me have.
A couple years ago, enlightened by the realization that I need more love, I adopted Moroni 7:48 as a guideline-- “...pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ…” --and I began petitioning my Father, in nearly every prayer, to be filled with love.
I am still petitioning.
As I prayed, I imagined my Father in Heaven miraculously pouring love into my heart, using a figurative pitcher to fill it. Filled by Him with His love, I thought His love would flow through me and blessing the lives of those with whom I associate.
Today I realized I am being miraculously filled with love but the love is not coming from some figurative, imaginary pitcher. Love is literally pouring into my life and it is coming from you and from people like you. It makes perfect sense in hindsight--of course the God is using His children to bless me--but it was a piece of sacred, divine, personal revelation when it came to me as I took the sacrament today. I am being filled with His love by His children.
Following are a few of this week’s love-fillings:
Filled with love. By God, through you. And people like you.
“How are you?” my friend asked kindly.
“Fine…...publicly,” I responded as I hurried away to hide the tears that brimmed in my eyes, tears that threatened to make my assertion that I was publicly fine a lie.
Truth is I was scared. Super scared. Scared not for me---facing my own fears is something I can do--but scared for a loved one, someone I love as much as life itself, someone for whom I would give my life. Scared for a beloved being.
Pondering my friend’s questions and my response brought to mind my favorite scripture, a verse that has already guided my countless times. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Knowing that “...all things work together for good to them that love God...” (Romans 828), I decided to choose faith over fear. It was a conscience decision. I banished the fears; I chose to trust God.
And peace came. Peace did not replace pain. I still feel parts of the pain my beloved is experiencing but peace and pain can co-exist and I know it will all work out. I feel peace.
There is peace in Christ.
THERE IS PEACE IN CHRIST
2018 LDS Youth Theme Song
Words and music by Nik Day
There is peace in Christ
When we learn of Him.
Feel the love He felt for us
When He bore our sins.
Listen to His words.
Let them come alive.
If we know Him as He is,
There is peace in Christ.
[Chorus] He gives us hope
When hope is gone.
He gives us strength
When we can’t go on.
He gives us shelter
In the storms of life.
When there’s no peace on earth,
There is peace in Christ.
There is peace in Christ
When we walk with Him
Through streets of Galilee
Mend the broken hearts.
Dry the tear-filled eyes.
When we live the way He lived,
There is peace in Christ.
© 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
This song may be copied for incidental, noncommercial home or church use.
This notice must appear on each copy made.
Age brings experience….and sometimes experiences age us. Lately my age and experiences have brought laughter.
Over the Christmas break I was in a local thrift store shopping with about 12 young ladies from my congregation. We were in the store buying tablecloths and curtains which we plan to make into aprons for an upcoming Pioneer Trek expedition. The girls, ages 17-15, were chatting animatedly as they followed me to the checkout counter.
“Did you bring all your granddaughters shopping with you today?” the friendly clerk asked me.
Did I mention that Grace, my daughter, was on of the “granddaughters” as was the (very youthful looking) 30 year-old adult leader of the youth group?
We’ve had beautiful spring weather here this week and the warm temperatures, coupled with the fact that my bike has a flat tire, compelled me to exercise outside on foot. Pain and the surgeon’s advice prevent me from running but I find that I can do what I affectionately call my “accelerated senior shuffle”. Leaning forward, I pump my arms, and move my legs in motions similar to those of ambling elderly people but at about three times the pace. Even speed walkers pass me and I look painfully awkward but it does raise my heartbeat which in turn raises my spirits.
Monday morning I was swiftly shuffling uphill on a side street near our home. Zorro (the dog….I do not leash him when I go “running”) raced ahead of me. As I rounded the corner a sweet teenage girl, about 13-14 years old, whom I had never before seen, ran up behind me.
“Can I help you catch your dog?” she asked kindly.
When I declined her offer, she asked again, “Are you sure?”
I can just imagine her charitable thoughts as she saw what she assumed was a grey-haired grandma futilely attempting to catch her deserting dog.
About a month ago a kindly receptionist, thinking I was leaking, empathized with me by telling me that her father “has that problem too”.
I do not need Depends. I do not need help chasing a runaway pet. And I do not have teenage granddaughters. Yet.
I do have a need for laughter though. And my age-related experiences are good for that.
Hopefully they make you laugh too.
Learning comes in many forms. For my OPA students, learning this week looked white and felt cold. We experienced heat transfer--conduction makes one’s hand feel cold when inserted in a snowbank, experimented with reduced friction--cross country skiing is all about the glide, and practiced intersecting gravity and momentum in new and occasionally contorted ways.
The following excerpts from student writings tell the story.
“I learned that eventually you will get the hang of cross country skiing. I learned that if you work together as a team that you can achieve what you are working towards achieving. I also learned that gravity is real because I tell on my butt a lot at first and it really hurt. Thank you.”
Gravity is real!!
“I learned to wear good clothes like snow boots and not Converse like I wore.”
Certainly a valuable life lesson!!
“I learned that you shouldn’t land on your hands when you fall because you’ll probably hurt your wrist. I also learned what lichen looks like and that it grows more on the higher areas of a tree.”
I am “lichen” what she learned. :)
“I learned that when you fall, move out of the path so someone doesn’t fall on you.”
Another good life lesson.
“I learned that snowshoes are not magical slippers.”
“Thanks for the field trip and the fun experiences. [I learned] 1. I don’t have good balance, 2. We can save people in avalanches, 3. It was really hot.”
Wear layers….and avoid steep slopes.
“I learned that cross country skiing is NOT easy, snowshoeing is very fun, and that lichen grows towards the middle-top of trees.”
“I had a lot of fun and would do this again next year.”
[NOTE: Photos are published with written consent from students and/or parents.]