Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter 2013

Today is Easter Sunday.  I love this Holiday and I love this time of year.  It is a wonderful time to celebrate new life at Springtime, but even more importantly, to celebrate the Empty Tomb and what that means.

This also happens to be a 5th Sunday in the month which means that all adult men women meet together for the 3rd hour of the block.  Because I live with a member of the Bishopric, I somehow got wrangled into teaching this hour.  I still am not sure that I officially agreed to do it, but do it I did.

I thought a lot about this assignment over the last few weeks.  I started preparing different lessons with different ideas emphasized.  Nothing felt quite right.  I looked for some media that I could use to enhance the lesson.  Nothing really stuck.  I went through some music to see if I could organize a special number celebrating the resurrection.  Nothing came together.

I decided to go with a review of the last week of the Savior's life on earth.  Maybe go day by day.  Look at some scriptures.  Read some general conference quotes.  You know the lesson I mean.  We have all had it at one time or another and it is a fine Easter lesson to have.  

But it just didn't feel quite right.  

When it got down to one week left, I was giving it more thought and more prayer.  I kept coming back to the idea that our Heavenly Father loves us.  Dearly.  I honestly wasn't quite sure how exactly to present the thoughts I had knocking around in my brain.  So by today during Sunday School, I started feeling really nervous.  But I jotted down some notes, and as I did, the order of things fell together. Shwew.

We began by reading Alma 30:44 where we learn that ALL things, even the earth and how it goes around the sun, testify that there is a Christ (I'm paraphrasing...).  I've lived in Durango long enough to know what kind of answers I would get when I posed this question: "When have you felt God or known that He loves you?" I couldn't have assigned the answers better had I tried.  One sister shared a time she looked at the sky over the ocean.  Another described the amazing detail of a butterfly's wings. I added my testimony that the world all around us can testify of God's love for us if we will have eyes to see it.

I displayed pictures of the Temple and the Sacred Grove-the obvious ones.  But then I shared a couple of experiences I had using music (I played a minute of a favorite piano piece), art (I have a pic of God reaching out to touch the hand of Adam from the Sistine Chapel), and literature (I told about a CS Lewis book I had read and the miraculous circumstances that brought it into my hands).  Each of these experiences taught me in a profound and touching way, using the world around me, that God knew and loved me.  I took a bit of a risk and asked Jebb if he would be willing to sing the Primary song that starts "Whenever I hear the song of a bird..."  Our sweet RS President agreed to play the piano for him and even ran through it with him during Sunday School.  Well, I have to say that I know I am biased, but I think he did a really, really good job! He sang right on key and didn't seem nervous (although he told me that it was 'nerve racking').  It was definitely the highlight of the whole hour. ;)

After Jebb sang, I invited other people to again share their thoughts and it was deeply moving and I felt the Spirit testifying to our little Durango class that God did indeed know and love us.

I used Paul's works in Acts saying that "ye are the offspring of God" and in 1 Corinthians saying "For ye are bought with a price."

I then asked what God, your loving Father, would be willing to pay to save you?

We then turned to John 3:16.  The scripture we all know from professional sporting events (there is always some happy Christian holding up a poster of it).

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
This is the Good News that the Gospel proclaims!  God loves us!  He loves us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his Son to save us.  And that was the message I felt I needed to proclaim. God's love for each one of us.  A love so deep that not only did He give us the Earth and all things in it, but He gave us his only begotten Son.

The class participation made our lesson so good.  I am so grateful for the good members of our ward that are willing to share personal feelings and testimonies.  It was those things which brought the Spirit to our classroom and made it so enjoyable to be there. I will not soon forget the feelings conveyed by those experiences shared by our class.

We then did the Easter Egg thing I did in Seminary (I had to get lots of use out of them...kinda silly, I know.)  I put the eggs under the chairs of the class. I asked those that found the eggs to read the events from the last week of Jesus' life, but to preface each paper with the words "For God so loved me that..."  It made the story of this difficult time for our Savior that much more personal. 

The miracle of the empty tomb is a testimony of God's profound love for each one of us.  I then told one last story of the Colorado River and how I used to work on it before my mission.  When I was down in that beautiful canyon, I would think about the message I would be sharing.  What would I say?  Then, just as now, it was this message-- that God loves us deeply.  Enough to allow the atonement to occur.  We closed by singing the song "How Great Thou Art" which I thought summed up our lesson perfectly.  I love it when music can do that. 

And OK, I admit it, I am glad that my husband gave me the opportunity to teach this lesson. ;) But I think I am good for a few years.


On Easter Sunday, it is a hard, fast rule that we have to take Family Easter Pictures.  Every year we coordinate ties to match Elise's dress.  This year was no exception.  We had a blue and yellow theme this year. 

I decided to take the pictures in the music room this year, so we moved in a chair and table for a backdrop.  We even hung a pictures on the (paint spot) wall. We take our pictures with the timer on my camera, so I had to set it up.  Seth sat so I could see how we fit in the frame:

I thought we were getting close, so I called the family into the room and had them sit down.  We try to mix it up a little bit and this was our first attempt.

Since I run the timer, I hop up after every shot, so I switched it up slightly for the next one. I wanted Jackson's dark suit closer in the middle.

 Then is was time to get Grandma.  As luck would have it, she even matched our outfits.  We gave her some daffodils from the front yard and we were at it again.

 We got this shot, which I think turned out pretty darn cute:

Then we got some shots of smaller groups:

 For some reason, this year, our kids felt the need to include our pets Daisy and Max. This is a nice idea except that both of whom are semi-feral and don't like having their pictures taken, especially with a flash.  But we tried.

There are few days that make me feel more gratitude for my Faith and my Family (and of course Easter Ham).   Happy Easter! Love-The BigGTribe!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Seminary Easter

This week in Seminary instead of the traditional devotional, we have been reading events during the last day of the Savior's life.  It has taken a little extra time, but I think it has been a good thing.  Today is Good Friday and instead of our usual Scripture Mastery games, we did an Easter Egg Hunt.

Last year at Easter, we did a similar activity as a family with the Hannays.  I guess my mom made a nifty Easter Egg kit for them that they shared with us.  I liked it so much I googled it, and after changing a few things, came up with this Easter egg hunt activity:

I have 12 numbered eggs containing these objects and scriptures.  I hid them along with eggs that have candy and seminary money.  We also have confetti eggs.  The kids who find the confetti eggs can smash them on another student and steal one of their eggs (thanks Hannay family for that idea!).   The seminary building has this really great yard and I convinced Seth to come early and help me hide them all.
Egg #1-Palm Leaf

Eggs 1-12 with quotes and objects

"Golden Eggs" worth Seminary Money if found

I put candy into lots of other eggs

We will hunt over 100 eggs

The Easter Bunny

Seminary yard
 When the kids all got there, we had our devotional and then headed out to look for eggs. Everyone had a great attitude and I think they enjoyed the hunt.  I limited the total number of eggs each kid could collect so everyone would have a chance to find a golden egg.  Of course they could smash and steal with the cool confetti eggs.

Here are the 12 egg quotes:

1) Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people waved palm leaves and shouted Hosanna!  Matt 21: 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.     9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
2) Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet.       John 12: 3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.  4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,  5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?  6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. 7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.  8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.   
3) Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples and instituted the Sacrament           Luke 22:   19 ¶And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me    20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
4) Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.   Luke 22:  47 ¶And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.  48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
5) Soldiers placed a crown of thorns of Jesus’ head John 19:  2 And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,
6) Soldiers parted Jesus’ garments and cast lots for His coat John 19: 23 ¶Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
7) Jesus carried his own cross  John 19: 17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha
8) Jesus was nailed to a cross and pierced in His side  John 19:  18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.  37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced
9) They gave Jesus vinegar mixed with gall on a sponge to drink  Matt 27:  34 ¶They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
10) Spices to prepare Jesus for burial John 19: 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
11) The stone covering on Jesus’ tomb was rolled away John 20: 1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
12)“He is not here, HE HAS RISEN, just as He said Come and see where He lay (Matt 28:6)

Here are the objects in each egg:
1) Palm leaf or any leaf
2) Cotton ball with perfume on it
3) Sacrament cup
4) 3 dimes
5) Thorny stick (from a rosebush...thanks for those Lucy!)
6) A Die (singular for dice)
7) Small wooden cross
8) A Nail
9) Piece of sponge
10) Cloves
11) A Rock
12) Empty Egg

We returned to class, opened our eggs, got our Seminary cash, then we took turns reading the numbered eggs.  I think it was a good lesson.  As I typed up each slip, I had time to really read and reread many of these scriptures and it was a good experience for me.

We are currently in 1 Corinthians and I wrote a phrase from 6:20 on the board:
"For ye are bought with a price"

 After each student wrote the quote in their journal they had to write what that knowledge meant to them.  As Paul says, we are not our own, because Christ has paid for us with the Atonement and that is the Good News of the Gospel.  I hope they enjoyed it and thought a little bit about what the Good News means.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Projects

The weekend we finally get John home, and all of the kids leave town! ;)  Gabe went to New Mexico for a (very windy) track meet where he competed in High Jump and Pole Vault.  He did really well.  Seth and Elise got up early to go to Utah for a Temple Trip to Monticello.  I am so glad they got to go together-no better place to be on a Saturday!  Jackson and Jebb were home and we had fun hanging out  saying, "This is what it would be like to only have 2 kids."

John is a man that must have a project and he found one today.  For a long time, when we shower too long, the ceiling in J&J's room leaks.  I am weird because, although I know this is obviously a problem, I had zero desire to tackle this issue.  I just knew that once the ceiling was open, it meant we actually had to do the work to fix it.  It wasn't so bad just putting a towel on the floor to catch the occassional drip.  And with John leaving town tomorrow, I had a feeling it would just stay a big hole.

He couldn't find the exact problem, so he decided to cut a hole in the wall next to our shower.

That didn't help either.

And sure enough he is leaving town and I have two holes in the wall.  I had to wonder about myself when I told John I wished he had just left it alone.  He asked me if I wanted to fix the problem.  I said no, I didn't.  Does this mean anything on a deep psychological level? Probably. But I was pretty good living in denial.

Everyone made it home safe and sound and we were back to knowing what it was like to have 5 kids, which is the way I prefer it! :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Beiber's Love Life

Last night I was sitting on my bed with Jebb watching a cartoon.  He turned to me and asked, "Is it true that Justin Beiber broke up with his girlfriend?"

I am not really proud to admit that I did know the answer.  "Yes, Jebb, I think he did.  Why do you ask?"

"Well, all of the girls at school are talking about it and said that he did.  Tori (Jebb's current crush) even said, 'Now's my chance!'"

I don't know why really, but I found their 2nd grade conversation to be highly entertaining.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nate's Mission Call

My nephew Nate put in his papers to serve a mission just a week and a half ago.  He met with the Stake President on Sunday the 10th,  after which the Stake President submitted the paperwork to SLC.  By March 14th (Thursday) Nate's Bishop received a text that the call had been extended and he should look for it in the mail the next week!  That is crazy, fast turn around time!

We all submitted our guesses:
John-Denmark, Michelle-Brazil, Gabe-South America, Seth-Guatemala, Elise-Portugal, Jackson-New Mexico (the mission we live in), and Jebb-Colorado.  We thought he might go Portuguese speaking because both Steve and now Eric learned that language.  We did an exercise in Seminary last week where the kids got to get a 'mission call' and we learned that there are over 400 missions in the church now! So our odds of guessing correctly just keep getting slimmer as more missions are added, although I don't think I mind that too much. ;)

The call arrived at the Hannay's home this morning.  I remember waiting for my call and it was closer to 5 weeks to get mine!! Pretty amazing!  We were able to facetime in so we could see him open the envelope.  I was so glad all of our kids were home and anxious to be a part of this special time. I took this screen shot on my phone of Nate opening his call.  Isn't technology cool?!

We all waited anxiously to see where in the world Nate would be spending the next two years (Seth even had the globe handy in case it was somewhere we didn't recognize).  Nate slowly read to us that he was called to serve in the Argentina, Cordoba Mission!  He will be leaving on July 31st to report in Provo.

This is such an exciting time for Nate and all those that love him. I am so proud he has decided to serve a mission.  I cannot believe he is old enough to go! Nate was born while I was living in Provo and working at Magleby's.  I had to work and missed his actual birth, but got to meet him shortly thereafter. I met John just a short time after that, so we both have known him his whole life.  Nate is going to be an exceptional missionary and brings lots of talents that will serve him and the people of Argentina well.  He isn't learning Portuguese, but I am sure he is going right where the Lord wants him. 

I got very emotional thinking about Nate and all of his family and friends around him to support him as he got his call. What a blessing that is for him.  Gabe is only a couple of years from going himself, with Seth a year later.   I am glad we are a part of such an amazing church where our boys have the chance to become men by forgetting themselves for 2 years serving people they have never met.  I hope my kids all have the chance to go! 

Thank you Nate for your example and for sharing this really great moment with us! We love and pray for you and your success serving the Lord!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Jebb's 2nd Grade Program

Jebb had a music program tonight.  It was K-2 grades and they take turns singing folk songs that are very rhythmic.  They choose these songs so that the children can take turns on the xylophones.  I thought Jebb did a great job.  John is in Utah, so I am glad I had Jackson to help me by taking some pictures with my phone. :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Gabe's Bball Dinner

Basketball season is over, in fact, we are already thick into track.  But tonight was the team dinner and presentation of letters.  Gabe lettered in Varsity and received much praise for his strong role on the JV team.  Seth accompanied me to the dinner with John out of town, so we clapped loudly for him.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

St Patty's Day 2013

In celebration of St Patty's Day we had the pleasure of attending the annual school fundraiser.  I don't know why, but these type of carnivals rank at the bottom of my list of Things I Enjoy.  That's right, I do not enjoy them.  

I know I should change my mind and I honestly try to gear up for them each time, but the sad reality is that I fear I am becoming my dad.  He never too us to the zoo, a circus, a carnival, a fair, or anything of the sort.  He apparently did not like them either.  And yes, I did feel jipped by this as a kid, so I therefore attend.

We ended up getting there just as the dinner was winding down and we didn't have to search for a table where we would all fit (I think that contributes to my dislike factor).  It helped that  Gabe was at a track meet and Seth and Elise didn't care if they sat by us.  ;)  

My friend Lucy had arrived before us and we found a spot near her family.  Just then, the auction (remember it's a fundraiser) was ramping up in the gym.  Jebb and Jackson took off to play the games in different classrooms and John went in to see what was on the auction block. I just sat and complained to poor Lucy about my dread of these types of things and she was a gracious listener.  

A while later, John came back into the cafeteria to see where I was.  I told him we had to buy at least one thing at the auction to dampen the guilt I sometimes feel at not volunteering in school.  He went back in and returned a short time later to let me know that he had just bought an apple pie.  That sounded yummy!  

And he had paid $500 for it!!!!!!!!!!!

I about fell off the cafeteria table bench.  He explained that he couldn't really hear the auctioneer and just kept bidding because I had told him we needed to buy something and he knew I liked apple pie.  He said he was very surprised when the auctioneer finally yelled "SOLD! For $500!!"  He said that he thinks he may have just been bidding against himself for the last little while.  That's how much he couldn't hear what was going on. 

Well, that ought to take care of a lot of guilt.  I enjoy thinking of it as buying indulgences in a parenting kind of way.  And I feel really good about it. ;)  Happy St Patricks Day everyone, I am going to eat a $100 slice of pie.

Jackson got a temporary tattoo...he chose the placement

The solid gold pie

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blue and Gold 2013

Tonight John took Jackson to the Blue and Gold Scout banquet.  Jebb came along with them too.  Poor Jackson has a mom that has too many things going on and fails to take him to Scouts very often.  But luckily Jackson doesn't care too much and he went and had a great time.  The theme was 'Magic' and there was a magician who performed for them.  The boys were impressed and pleased when they got their own wands to take home.  John said he was a little bummed when he didn't get any awards, but I am trying to look at it as motivation for us to renew our Scouting efforts. ;)  Or something like that...

Gabe and Seth went to play basketball which left just Elise and I to fend for ourselves at dinner.  You know what I really love about Elise?  She likes to go to Tequila's with me and order Shirley Temples with our fajitas!  What a daughter!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Reserved Seats

Today we went to the funeral of a family friend.  While I was not close with her, I have known her family since I moved to Durango. My husband has snowmobiled with her husband, and I know most of her children as they have been in my ward or served in callings with me.  Because she was not a close friend to me, I was very interested and attentive during her funeral to see if I could glean anything insightful, as I think she has raised a really neat family.

When we entered the chapel at the beginning of the service I was so happy to see many familiar faces and old friends.  I sat next to one of my favorite sisters whom I love dearly though rarely see.  I really lilked the seat too because it was near the front in the soft benches which was a plus with the overflow crowd that attended.

Just acrossed the isle and up a row or two were the 'Reserved' seats.  They are the seats up front that are held for family and close friends that come into the service.  They usually come in behind the casket signalling the start of the funeral.  So I was close enough to really look at the people that were in the Reserved seats.  To see the sadness on their faces as they bid farewell to their beloved family member.

It was obvious from both the eulogies and what I know of her, that her faith, famlily, and friends were key to her entire life.  She was active in the church, was a hard working mom, and had 5 children that have all married and started families of their own.  She had countless acquaitances, work colleagues, and church friends.  She had hobbies and interests and traveled around the world.  

But at the end of her life, what was essential were those people in the Reserved Sears.  They were the legacy that she left behind.  They were the ones that her influence would flow through far into the future.  They were the ones that made her life full and complete, and hard to leave.

I was impressed by the courage and perspective of her children that spoke to us.  They seemed to see her death as a part of life and just a temporary separation from our loved ones.  I found their candor to be inspiring.  Seeing them reminded me again that when you look at the sum of your life, there are a small group of people that are essential.  The way we love and care for those closest to us really does matter as was evidenced by the strength and character of those in the Reserved Seats.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Principal's Pride

Our elementary school has a system for rewarding positive behavior.  If a student is 'caught' doing something good, they are given a "Silver Bulldog Award" with the good behavior noted on the card.  Once a student has collected 10 Silver Bulldogs, they earn a "Principal's Pride Award" and get to eat lunch with the principal and call home to tell their parents how good they have been.

Jackson has been trying lately to earn a PPA by earning and saving up SBAs.  Last week he finally got his Award and had lunch with the principal.  He chose to call John on the phone since he was out of town.  I was so happy he had earned it that I told he we needed to take a picture and post it on my blog.  And I AM proud of Jackson!  He really has been trying to earn that thing.

Jebb happened to be standing close by when I was praising Jackson and quietly mentioned that I had not taken his picture with his PPAs that he had earned.  He was right!  I hadn't taken a picture with Jebb, because he usually brings home a steady stream of Silver Bulldog Awards which earn him the Principal's Pride Award on a regular basis.  I apologized and tried to tell Jebb that I was proud of him too.  But Jebb was right, I didn't make a big deal of it, although I did display all of his awards on the door.  Jebb said he was glad Jackson finally got to eat with the principal too. (Sidenote: Jebb is the best brother ever to Jackson!)

So today when Jebb brought home another PPA, I took pictures of both boys.  I was glad to see that they graciously praised one another and didn't really compare achievement. They are both good boys and I am glad to see both of them working to help other students.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Seth at Alta/Gabe in Pueblo

John has been in Utah for the week.  A friend of ours that is currently living in Switzerland was also there on some business and had organized a 'guys' ski trip.  Seth caught a ride after school on Thursday up to Utah and was able to join in (poor Gabe had basketball).

They went skiing on Friday and it looks like they had fun.  Not that I heard that from Seth ;).  Another boy that went happens to be my Instagram friend and he posted several fun looking shots.  Seth did tell me that night how big the mountain there was.  While John couldn't join them on Friday (work, work, work) he did manage to go on Saturday.  He was having an absolutely fantastic time until he took a jump, way over shot it, and landed on the flats where he "compressed" his neck and back.  He also mentioned the word "whiplash" when describing his symptoms to me later.  The really bummer part is that it was on his first run of the day. He spent the rest of the day just resting. :(

Seth was undeterred and got the most out of his time on the mountain.  I am glad he has good men to look up to and to hang out with.  John and I are grateful for our responsible, well educated friends that can be good role models for our kids. :)  Seth also got to do a lot of the driving home which he thought was pretty cool.  John will be a little slower for a while, but some ice and a Chiropractor will be helpful.

Gabe missed the whole trip which was a bummer.  He was not excited to be traveling to Pueblo instead of SLC.  After winning their first round of play at a home game, the Varsity Bball team had to travel to Pueblo for the next round.  They had a really tough opponent and were unable to win.  Gabe didn't play which made missing Alta even worse.

It was nice on Sunday to have the whole family back together and we will savor it until John leaves again midweek.