Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Counting My Blessings

There’s a book that I keep near my bed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it. Sometimes I read it for the wit and humor, sometimes I read it for the wisdom. But for whatever reason I read it, it’s a book that I count among my favorites
It’s the book by Kerry Blair called, “Counting Blessings- Wit and wisdom for women” I am sure anyone and everyone who reads the posts on this blogsite has read it, but hoping it’s okay, I wanted to quote a little bit from Kerry’s book. For some reason, this has been going through my mind almost constantly lately.

“As latter-day Saints we are practically obsessed with anxiously engaging ourselves in good causes. Maybe it’s subliminal. Glancing through the hymnal last Sunday, I noted that as sisters in Zion, we who are called to serve are all enlisted to go marching, marching forward because the world has need of willing men to all press on scattering sunshine. We wonder if we have done any good in the world today, because we have been given much and want to do what is right, keep the commandments, press forward with the Saints, and put our shoulders to the wheel going where He wants us to go. However, as the morning breaks high on the mountain top, truth reflects upon our senses, and while we still believe that sweet is the work, we also realize that we have work enough to do ere the sun goes down. And thus we ask Thee ere we part, where can we turn for peace?”

Kerry goes on to not only answer that question, but she talks about that paragraph in a most excellent way. (Rather than me summing up her words, I highly recommend you read it!) As for me, I ponder that paragraph, Kerry’s wisdom, and I have learned from her words as well as her example and friendship.

This paragraph also makes me stop to think about my time management. While I surely want to be anxiously engaged in good causes. I also realize that life can be overwhelming and there are times I am not able to do all that I want to -- sometimes I’m not even able to do anything I need to-- but I am grateful to know where I can turn for peace.

I love this time of year that the season gives reason to stop and reflect on the things in which we are grateful for. The fact that no matter how crazy or difficult life can be, I am grateful there are places where I can find peace amidst struggle.

I am grateful for the blessing of such amazingly good family and friends who lift me up and even carry me through the tough times. They are the same who are there to celebrate and rejoice with me in the good times.

I have far too many blessings to count, but I do know I am grateful for each and every one of them.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I've asked my husband Brad if he'd be willing to be a guest blogger for me. So with thankful heart, I'll turn the time over to him:

I dont know how she talks me into these things, but anyway here it goes.

Well, here it is my favorite time of the year. For the 2nd year in a row I get to head up our wards Friends of Scouting drive. For those who don't know what this is, it is a fund raising drive to help support the local Boy Scout Council. To be honest, it’s a lot of work and all the money goes to the council, not the local troop, so it really isn't a lot of fun. This year there has been a good deal of negative press in the local papers about this event. It has caused me to reflect on scouting and why we should support it.

With our oldest son we had set a goal for him in scouting. We thought that he should earn the eagle scout award before he turned 16. If not then he couldn't drive or date. Well 16 came and went with no Eagle Award. We, however needed Tyler to date to give us a break from his crazy teenage ways, and we needed him to drive, for so many reasons. Shortly before he turned 18, he completed all the work necessary and was given the rank of Eagle Scout. When we got home Tyler handed it to Jeri and said here is your eagle mom.

Now Tyler is married with a family of his own. He is a hard worker and has been very successful. Everytime there is an Eagle court of honor, he proudly sits in the eagles nest. Although he speaks of his hard work and effort in earning his Eagle -- he laughs and grins and we know he is very grateful for the encouragement his mom and I gave him in earning this award. It means a lot to him. I proudly wear my eagle dad pin on one of my suit jackets, it means a lot to us too.

Over the summer I went with our older scouts in our ward on a high adventure trip to the Tetons. While there, we did face some challenges and even some dangers, but we learned from that and became stronger because of it.

I recently attended a meeting that focused on venturing (16-17 yr old scouts) and the LDS church. These are young men at a critical age, and in the church we lose so many of them from activity in the Church. One of the leaders that spoke said, “In scouting we don’t wait for the young man to come to church, we take the young man on an adventure where they will come to know their Maker.” There is a reason LDS church leaders have deemed scouting the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood. Sir Robert Baden Powell, the founder of boy scouting said, “There is no Religious side to the movement, the whole of it is based on religion, that is on the realization and service of God.

On the Sunday morning session of General Conference, Sis. Dalton taught a great lesson on the influence a father can have on his daughter. That lesson can be directly applied to a mothers influence on her son. I am not sure I have seen a young man who has earned his eagle award, who didn’t get there in large part because of a mothers influence.

President Gordon B. Hinckley has stated:
"I love the Scouting movement. If every boy in America knew and observed the Scout Oath, we would do away with most of the jails and prisons in this country. This program builds boys, builds their futures, leads them on the right path so they can make something of their lives. Every man or woman who helps a boy along the road of life not only does a great thing for him but does a great thing for society as a whole."

So while it is sometimes easy to get lost in the politics and some negative aspects that sometimes surrounds this movement, let us not forget all the good that can and does come from this program. Powell said “We must change boys from a ‘what can I get‘, to a ‘what can I give’ attitude.” Isn’t that what the Savior wanted us to learn?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Review


One morning on a routine jog, Kallene’s running partner, Linda confides that she’s filing for divorce. The next morning, she’s gone without a trace, leaving behind her frightened young daughter. Since Linda’s enraged husband refuses to notify the police, Kallene steps in to initiate a missing person search, not knowing it would soon become a murder investigation-- or that she’d soon fall for the charming lead detective. With Linda’s handsome brother also on her mind, Kallene must navigate the rapids of a double romance as well as the deepening suspicion in her upscale Utah neighborhood. Intrigue turns to danger as Kallene faces the consequences of hasty judgments. And when startling new evidence casts Linda’s murder as the work of a determined killer, Kallene needs the intervention of unlikely heroes to avoid being the next victim.

Out of all of Jennie Hansen’s books, I think this one is my favorite. (Believe me, it’s hard to choose considering she’s written over twenty!)
If I should Die had me wondering what was going to happen next at every turn. I couldn‘t put it down.

One example of that was at the very beginning. (Have no fear readers, this is not a plot spoiler) Kallene and Linda are out jogging as they did each and every morning, when Linda confides she’s filing for divorce. The last thing Linda says to Kallene before they part is, “I have a plan.” Linda comes up missing the very next morning and her husband Carson won’t notify the police. I am left wondering why? Is he our villain or is Linda really missing and Carson is on to her “plan?”

Jennie placed all kinds of things like this in her book that keeps the reader guessing. Like, why does the border of roses along the fence line look like someone may be buried beneath them? Intrigued? You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens to Mr. Haney’s suspicious looking roses.

If I Should Die captures your attention from start to finish as the search for a missing person turns to a murder investigation. A real page turner, this book keeps you involved with trying figuring out what the real story is behind a neighborhood of suspicious, likeable, lovable and yes, even questionable characters. Don’t forget, it also has a great storyline for romance lovers..(You know how I love romance!) It includes not just one but two handsome men for Kallene to choose from. On the one hand there is detective Scott Alexander, on the other there is Linda’s brother, Jon Pierson. Who will win Kallene’s heart? Which do you hope she’ll choose?

If I should die is filled with characters you love to hate. You’ll find yourself cheering for some, creeping out at others. J You’ll feel the loss, question your judgments, but most of all If I Should Die will leave an impression on your heart. It’s a must read! Way to go Jennie, you have another winner!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Heavenly Father, Are you really there?

The biggest thing on my mind at this time is that many people who are close to me are facing several tough challenges in their lives. Some are dealing with death by tragedy, serious health issues, financial difficulty, family discord, and some are even dealing with several of these trials all at once.

I am at a loss at what to say or do. I certainly pray for each of them and keep them in my heart and thoughts but am left pondering the statement that really bad things happen to really good people.

It’s very easy during times of heartache and struggle to question where God is and how he could possible let these things happen, but I believe that question is answered by President Spencer W. Kimball in his book,
Faith Proceeds the Miracle

“Is there not wisdom in his giving us trials that we might rise above them, responsibilities that we might achieve, work to harden our muscles, sorrows to try our souls? Are we not exposed to temptations to test our strength, sickness that we might learn patience, death that we might be immortalized and glorified?
If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith. If joy and peace and rewards were instantaneously given the doer of good, there could be no evil–all would do good but not because of the rightness of doing good. There would be no test of strength, no development of character, no growth of powers, no free agency, only satanic controls. Should all prayers be immediately answered according to our selfish desires and our limited understanding, then there would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life and godhood.”

It may not make the trial easier, but it helps to keep a clear perspective on what it’s all about.

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven. . . .” (Orson F. Whitney as cited in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Proceeds the Miracle, [1972], 99).

When others are suffering and struggling this is an opportunity for us to look for ways to be of service, to show that we care and that we love them. It’s not always an easy thing to do. But with prayerful consideration I believe any act of kindness would be appreciated.
People just need to know they are loved, that other’s care, and that they are not alone.

I know that people have come through for me at various times of struggle and trial. It’s at those times that I know my Father in Heaven is aware of me and my needs. It is through those people that he and blesses my life.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pioneers Then and Now

Hanging on the wall of the visitors center at Martin’s cove in Wyoming is a carved wooden sign that reads simply, “It is good to look to the past to gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future.”

As I think of my own family history, I am reminded of a couple of years ago. My dad and I were sitting out on his porch swing and he was telling me the story of James Duncan.

James Duncan comes from my grandfather’s line from England. In the early years of the church, James was well to do, raising champion race horses was his trade. He gave a prized horse to our prophet Joseph Smith which came to be known as the Joe Duncan horse.

James immigrated to Salt Lake City with the early pioneers. He brought with him a casket of gold. He carried the gold this way to throw off any thieves making them believe he was transporting a dead body. Once he arrived to this valley, he gave a carriage to our Prophet Brigham Young-- the carriage is now downtown in the Church museum, and then helped to settle the Bountiful area. He owned 300 acres of land which he gave away in 10 acre lots to the immigrants as they came.

James’ story can be found in a book of the history of Bountiful. I love to hear and learn of James and other family members like him.

Generations later, I am thankful for James goodly name, for his faith and dedication, sacrifice and service. He lived well and was willing to part with his means to help build up the church. As part of his lineage it is my desire to emulate those same virtues that he was known for.

That same day as my dad and I sat and talked, I would just like to insert here that my dad and I have spent many hours on that old porch swing talking. I have been taught some valuable lessons, learned some life lessons, heard some great jokes, and been blessed with priceless memories there. It’s one of my most favorite places to be. It’s just one more thing I love my dad for. Anyway, we got on the subject of Martin’s Cove and Rock Creek. I had never been there. So My dad took out family there last summer. It was a short trip but one I am sure I will never forget.

There is a bronze monument and granite marker with the names of the thirteen people buried at Rock Creek. On it is a dedication from
Pres. Gordon B.Hickle,

“Rock Creek is sacred and holy ground… how tremendous their heroism in the face of odds that are almost impossible to understand… in terms of self sacrifice, in terms of courage, in terms of faith, in terms of facing up to adversity, there is no greater example in the history of this nation… we have a great inheritance… a tremendous responsibility to live up to it. God bless us to be faithful, to be true to that which meant so much to those who died here…”

As I look to the past I have a great appreciation for the present as I think of another pioneer who has had a tremendous influence on me.

That would be my own mother.

Many church members have no personal relation to pre-twentieth century Utah pioneers. But there are other pioneers. Many members of the church themselves are pioneers in the fact that they are the first in their family to accept the gospel. This is where my mother comes in.

She was a covert to the church in Denmark when she was 18. The Tabernacle Choir played a big part in her initial interest in the Church, which a few years later, she became a member of the choir.

She could identify with friends and relatives turning away from her for her beliefs. The day she came by ship to America there were very few family members to see her off. Indeed she put up with misunderstanding and unkindness for the sake of her gospel beliefs. But she had a testimony that could never be questioned and it was her faith and her testimony that defined my mother to her dying day.

She passed away of cancer eight years ago. Even when she had become bedridden, the love of her Savior was very evident in her actions. She had somehow managed to turn herself over onto her stomach and tucked her knees up under her to pray. She insisted that kneeling in prayer was a form of humility and respect for our Father in Heaven. She loved our Father in Heaven and had so much faith and respect for Him that even in her sick and weakened condition, she wanted to do all she could to show her reverence to Him.

Shortly after she passed away, a very young Bryan found me crying over my loss. He came and hugged me tight and while he patted my head, he told me not to cry. He told me he knew where grandma was. She was singing to Jesus with the other Heavenly Angels. I hope he’s right. That’s exactly where she’d want to be.

Her actions through her song and testimony is a great example of love for our Savior that I will always hold dear and cherish that memory in my heart.

Our later day Prophet Thomas S. Monson spoke of how we each can learn much from our early pioneer ancestors, whose struggles and heartaches were met with resolute courage and an abiding faith in a living God.

“We honor those who endured incredible hardships. We praise their names and reflect on their sacrifices."
“What about our time? Are there pioneering experiences for us? Will future generations reflect with gratitude on our efforts, our examples? You young [people] can indeed be pioneers in courage, in faith, in charity, in determination."
“You can strengthen one another; you have the capacity to notice the unnoticed. When you have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to feel, you can reach out and rescue others of your age."

Elder Holland tells us in this months Ensign,

"What are we seeing in these examples of faithful pioneers? It is what we have seen down through the dispensations of time and certainly down through this dispensation.

We are seeing what we saw when the Saints fled New York and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Missouri and then fled their beloved Nauvoo across an ice-bound river with the temple soon burning in the distance. It is what we saw when those same people buried their dead in large numbers at Winter Quarters, followed by leaving isolated graves, sometimes as tiny as a bread box, in Wyoming near Chimney Rock or at one of the many crossings of the Sweetwater River or in a snow bank at Martin’s Cove.

What we saw then and what we see now among the blessed Saints the world over is faith in God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith in the Prophet Joseph Smith, faith in the reality of this work and the truthfulness of its message. It was faith that took a boy into a grove of trees to pray, and it was faith that enabled him to get up off his knees, place himself in God’s hands for the Restoration of the gospel, and ultimately march toward his own martyrdom scarcely two dozen short years later.

I don’t know how else mothers and fathers could leave those babies in those makeshift graves on the plains and then, with one last look, weep their way forward toward Zion. The fundamental driving force in these stories is faith—rock-ribbed, furnace-refined, event-filled, spiritually girded faith that this is the very Church and kingdom of God and that when you are called, you go."

I am grateful for my pioneer heritage then and now.
These stories I have shared and more are indeed faith promoting, they are a source of inspiration to me, they give me courage, they strengthen my faith, and these people are a blessing in my life. I marvel at the courage the pioneers had. They have set the way and made an example of the way in which I would like to pattern my life with their determination and their devotion to our Savior. May I find in my own life through good times as well as trials and tribulations, that I can have the same kind of dedication, fortitude, commitment.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quilts for all Occassions

I always look forward to the 4th of July.

Every year we spend it at the Nephi Carnival. We have done this for many years. The biggest things I look forward to are of course, the crafts and home baked items at the Country Store, but even more than that is the quilt auction.

For an entire year the Relief Society women though out the Mona and Nephi Wards work at making quilts of all shapes and sizes to auction off at this carnival. The money raised from the auction then goes to support a local fund raiser so the women themselves do not get the return of the funds. The women simply do this for the love of quilting and for the love of serving others.

The quilts are a sight to behold. Surely they are some of the most beautiful quilts I have ever seen. I admire the women who do such incredible work. Some day (and I tell myself this every single year, I plan to be the proud owner of one of those gorgeous quilts!)

As I think of those lovely women who work endlessly year after year, I think of an incredible quilt at my parents home that was made with those loving hands.

The women in my mother’s ward got together and made a quilt for her when she was so ill with cancer. They each put their name on a heart that was then sewn onto the quilt in a border around the edges of the quilt. When that precious gift was presented to my mother, it was given with a book of letters from each of the woman who had written their names on those hearts. Quilts may bring comfort to us physically, but they have a way of uplifting us to great heights spiritually as well. I know that quilt did for my mother. She cherished that quilt and those letters to her dying day.

My mother and my grandmother both crocheted afghans that I absolutely cherish because of the loving hands that stitched them. I don’t have that gift. Now that both of these women have passed, those blankets are very sentimental to me. I have had them for years.

I had an aunt that taught me how to tie a quilt as a young teenager and I still have it. I love the time I spent with my aunt Jacklin learning to tie my very first quilt. Every time I see that quilt I think of her, She too has gone and miss her.

When my son and his wife were married, I was thrilled when they received so many quilts for wedding gifts. (I would have loved to take a few of them home with me!) I realize the love that went into making those quilts for them. Now, as we travel to see them, those are the quilts they share with us on our visits. Seeing them brings back such wonderful memories of their wedding day. I love those memories and I love the memories we are making as a family each time we get together.

Last summer we went to Martin’s Cove and learned of a touching story that had quite an impact on me.

There was a women traveling to Salt lake who had made it to Martin’s Cove and lost her husband during the freezing cold night. She couldn’t bear the thought of the ravaging wolves digging up her husband from the shallow grave so she begged the men to wrap him in her quilt and tie him high in the trees where the wolves couldn’t get to him. As they left the following morning, she turned back just before they round the bend and looked back. The last thing she saw was her husband up in the tree in her best quilt. (I believe some of the men were to go back later and bury him when the ground would be thawed enough for them to dig into.) I admire the faith and the strength of our early pioneers I love them for their examples of courage. I can’t think of this story without tears in my eyes and a stab at my heart.

Now, as my father-in-law is retired, he and my mother-in-law have started doing such a wonderful thing. This year as each grandchild has a birthday, he/she receives a homemade quilt made especially for them by their grandparents. My son Bryan says it’s the most comfortable (and the coolest) quilt he has ever had. I do believe he’s right! So much time and effort has gone into that gift. It was truly a gift from the heart and one that was very much appreciated. I know how meaningful it was to Bryan’s parents for him to receive such a gift. We know the effort that went into it. And we love them for taking the time.

As my son has had brain surgeries at Primary Children’s Medical Center, he has been given blankets, and we have had quilts brought for our use as we have had numerous stays at the hospital with our son. We have been grateful for not only the warmth they brought but the comfort they provided when we needed something to hold onto when we felt fear and heartache.

Now as I try to tie all these different thought together…

Last Saturday our Ward did a day of service. It was in dedication to the many ward members we have had experience with different types of cancer. We asked them what we could do to help be of service. From their suggestions, we did hygiene kits, yard work, scarves, treats for family members in waiting rooms, rice warming bags, activity kits for PCMC, and we made blankets.

I was working with the women who made blankets to send to the Huntsman Cancer Institute and to PCMC. I couldn’t help but think how much my own family, especially myself has benefited from those. I hope the blankets we made will be of comfort to those hearts and hands that they will reach.

To end this post I found a great poem about quilts written by: Terrie Johnson

“The Tattered Quilt”

A tattered quilt hangs by my bed
Upon an antique stand
My mind drifts back to years before
As the quilt falls on my hand.
Stitched with care and bound with love
A work of art indeed
This dear old quilt has been my friend
No matter what the need.

I still recall with memory sweet
How this quilt came to me
It was upon a Christmas morn
It lay wrapped beneath the tree.
As I opened up this precious gift
My eyes filled with tears
I realized this gift contained
The work of many years.

One day as we sat snug within
My quilt and watched it rain
I asked my gramma, “Why for me?”
And thus she did explain,
“I wanted you to have this quilt
For when you’re feeling down
I wanted you to have this quilt
When you move from town to town.”

“So if you’re feeling lonely
Or if you’re feeling sad
Just wrap yourself inside this quilt
And things won’t seem so bad.
No matter where you go in life,
No matter what you feel,
This quilt will be here for you
It’s something that is real.”

Oft times I’ve sat with my dear quilt
And thought of words she said
I realize that when she spoke
She spoke of years ahead.
For now that older I have grown
I have just come to see
My gramma is my quilt indeed
She’s always there for me.

As for myself, I wish I could thank the many people who made the quilts throughout my life that lifted my heart and comforted me with not only warmth but somehow brought me solace when I needed it the most.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memorial Day Observed

In my younger years, we always looked forward to Memorial Day, but shamefully I admit, it wasn’t for the noble reasons it should have been.

It was simply because this was the first holiday of the great season of summer. We celebrated it by going camping! Well-- that was after we made a stop by the cemeteries to place flowers on the graves of our dearly departed. To me, it was a minor inconvenience, although I thought the flowers were always very pretty and the flags looked pretty cool.

Okay, I admit I had some very immature and very selfish thoughts back then, and yes, my parents tried earnestly to teach me what Memorial Day really was about. I just didn’t understand or truly appreciate it. I wasn’t listening. My mind was on sleeping out under the stars out at the lake. Wahoo!, I mean, it was finally summer!

I was quite young when my Grandpa Lawrence passed away, although I remember how great it was to always get a silver dollar every time he came to visit. Back then a silver dollar could buy all kinds of things at the candy counter.

I wasn’t a whole lot older when my Grandma Lawrence passed away and though I have a few fond memories of her, what I wouldn’t give to have a few more.

My Grandpa Christensen is buried in Denmark and my Grandma Christensen is still living. She turned 101 this past April. How wonderful is that? Can you imagine the things she has experienced in her lifetime?

We usually decorated my Grandpa and Grandma Lawrence’s graves. Grandpa’s always had a flag from serving in WWI. I always thought that was really something special to see by his headstone. I do remember even from a very young age, how proud I was of him for “earning the right to have a flag.”

Since my own mother has passed away, we have started a new tradition in our family. Each Memorial Day weekend, we go to my Dad’s house to spend the night so that early in the morning on Memorial Day, we can get up and go to the little country cemetery where my mom is to see the sunrise ceremony put on by the American Legion for the fallen soldiers.

The flag is raised at half- staff, there is a 21 gun salute, and off in the distance, a bugler plays “Taps” as the sun rises over the mountains. Words cannot describe the feeling that comes over you during the ceremony. It’s beautiful, it’s respectful, it brings a lump to your throat and tears to your eyes.

Every person who has served their country has a white cross that holds the United States flag near their headstone, placed by a volunteer from the American Legion. A large board with two flags is placed in the cemetery with all the soldiers names listed and where they served. This stands near the flag pole so that everyone can see it during the sunrise ceremony.

Recently my dad has talked much of wanting a veteran’s burial with the flag over his casket when he passes. He loves this country and gets somewhat emotional when he speaks of his time in the service and when he listens to the haunting melody of “Taps." I saw it again at that early sunrise service this past Memorial Day.

My son asked his grandpa what Memorial Day stood for. We all got in on the discussion sharing the little bit that we knew, and then I decided to look it up. Did you know that…

Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day. It was observed back in 1865 by freedmen (freed enslaved southern blacks) in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865, at the Washington Race Course, to remember the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. The recognition of the fallen victims was then enacted under the name Memorial Day by an organization of Union veterans to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War. Overtime, it was extended after World War I to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. Now known as Memorial Day, it is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Many people observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time. Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. Volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at National Cemeteries.(Taken from WIKIPEDIA)

As a mother, I hope I can somehow let my children keep the thrill of the start of summer in their heart, but somehow instill the importance of honoring Memorial Day.

I think my son is already years ahead of me than I was at his age years by even wanting to know and understand the purpose of such an important day suchas Memorial Day. I only hope I can help him appreciate the purpose of it.