Friday, December 28, 2012

A Masterful Talk

The following is a talk that was given by Sister Sheri Dew when she served in the presidency of the General Relief Society.  This talk is one of those masterful sermons that has stuck with me for many years.  Recently there has been much said about the Church placing less value on women than on men. 

My friends, I consider myself to be something of a feminist, but mostly I am a feminist insofar as I believe that people should be treated respectfully, compassionately, and kindly, no matter who they are.  In other words, I am smart and capable. My thoughts, words, and opinions are as important as anyone else's, and anyone else's are as important as mine.  If we believe we are all children of God, we should treat one another as such.  This is not to say that everyone has the SAME roles, but that we should all be given opportunities to learn, grow, contribute, and develop.

Yes, I believe I could go farther in my career than I am currently being given opportunity.  But I would trade the checks and the clothes and the kudos to go home and be the wife and the mother (and the grandmother someday) all day every day.  I can give of my talents and abilities at work, but I can feel fulfilled and find meaningful activities and uses of my talents in other arenas just as much or more as I can in any office building. 

I LOVE being a mother.  I loved it when our children were tiny and I love it even more as they grow.  I CHOSE to be a stay-at-home mother for all the years of their young childhoods, and I used all of my talents and abilities in meaningful ways to do that.  It was not done solely out of expectation, necessity, or social pressure.  I CHOSE to be that person, and I like that person (me!).

Because of that, I believe this talk is truth, and I believe it addresses everything that is being questioned.  I believe that this doctrine gives hope, light, joy, and meaning. I hope you enjoy it.


Are We Not All Mothers?

Sheri L. Dew
Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency

Motherhood is more than bearing children. … It is the essence of who we are as women.

This summer four teenage nieces and I shared a tense Sunday evening when we set out walking from a downtown hotel in a city we were visiting to a nearby chapel where I was to speak. I had made that walk many times, but that evening we suddenly found ourselves engulfed by an enormous mob of drunken parade-goers. It was no place for four teenage girls, or their aunt, I might add. But with the streets closed to traffic, we had no choice but to keep walking. Over the din, I shouted to the girls, “Stay right with me.” As we maneuvered through the crush of humanity, the only thing on my mind was my nieces’ safety.

Thankfully, we finally made it to the chapel. But for one unnerving hour, I better understood how mothers who forgo their own safety to protect a child must feel. My siblings had entrusted me with their daughters, whom I love, and I would have done anything to lead them to safety. Likewise, our Father has entrusted us as women with His children, and He has asked us to love them and help lead them safely past the dangers of mortality back home.

Loving and leading—these words summarize not only the all-consuming work of the Father and the Son, but the essence of our labor, for our work is to help the Lord with His work. How, then, may we as Latter-day women of God best help the Lord with His work?

Prophets have repeatedly answered this question, as did the First Presidency six decades ago when they called motherhood “the highest, holiest service … assumed by mankind.” 1

Have you ever wondered why prophets have taught the doctrine of motherhood—and it is doctrine—again and again? I have. I have thought long and hard about the work of women of God. And I have wrestled with what the doctrine of motherhood means for all of us. This issue has driven me to my knees, to the scriptures, and to the temple—all of which teach an ennobling doctrine regarding our most crucial role as women. It is a doctrine about which we must be clear if we hope to stand “steadfast and immovable” 2 regarding the issues that swirl around our gender. For Satan has declared war on motherhood. He knows that those who rock the cradle can rock his earthly empire. And he knows that without righteous mothers loving and leading the next generation, the kingdom of God will fail.

When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living” 3 —and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, 4 righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood. 5 Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us.

President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that “God planted within women something divine.” 6 That something is the gift and the gifts of motherhood. Elder Matthew Cowley taught that “men have to have something given to them [in mortality] to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. [They] are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls … and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children.” 7

Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, motherhood is “as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.” 8

Nevertheless, the subject of motherhood is a very tender one, for it evokes some of our greatest joys and heartaches. This has been so from the beginning. Eve was “glad” after the Fall, realizing she otherwise “never should have had seed.” 9 And yet, imagine her anguish over Cain and Abel. Some mothers experience pain because of the children they have borne; others feel pain because they do not bear children here. About this Elder John A. Widtsoe was explicit: “Women who through no fault of their own cannot exercise the gift of motherhood directly, may do so vicariously.” 10

For reasons known to the Lord, some women are required to wait to have children. This delay is not easy for any righteous woman. But the Lord’s timetable for each of us does not negate our nature. Some of us, then, must simply find other ways to mother. And all around us are those who need to be loved and led.

Eve set the pattern. In addition to bearing children, she mothered all of mankind when she made the most courageous decision any woman has ever made and with Adam opened the way for us to progress. She set an example of womanhood for men to respect and women to follow, modeling the characteristics with which we as women have been endowed: heroic faith, a keen sensitivity to the Spirit, an abhorrence of evil, and complete selflessness. Like the Savior, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,” 11 Eve, for the joy of helping initiate the human family, endured the Fall. She loved us enough to help lead us.

As daughters of our Heavenly Father, and as daughters of Eve, we are all mothers and we have always been mothers. And we each have the responsibility to love and help lead the rising generation. How will our young women learn to live as women of God unless they see what women of God look like, meaning what we wear, watch, and read; how we fill our time and our minds; how we face temptation and uncertainty; where we find true joy; and why modesty and femininity are hallmarks of righteous women? How will our young men learn to value women of God if we don’t show them the virtue of our virtues?

Every one of us has an overarching obligation to model righteous womanhood because our youth may not see it anywhere else. Every sister in Relief Society, which is the most significant community of women on this side of the veil, is responsible to help our young women make a joyful transition into Relief Society. This means our friendship with them must begin long before they turn 18. Every one of us can mother someone—beginning, of course, with the children in our own families but extending far beyond. Every one of us can show by word and by deed that the work of women in the Lord’s kingdom is magnificent and holy. I repeat: We are all mothers in Israel, and our calling is to love and help lead the rising generation through the dangerous streets of mortality.

Few of us will reach our potential without the nurturing of both the mother who bore us and the mothers who bear with us. I was thrilled recently to see one of my youth leaders for the first time in years. As a teenager who had absolutely no self-confidence, I always sidled up to this woman because she would put her arm around me and say, “You are just the best girl!” She loved me, so I let her lead me. How many young men and women are desperate for your love and leadership? Do we fully realize that our influence as mothers in Israel is irreplaceable and eternal?

When I was growing up, it was not uncommon for Mother to wake me in the middle of the night and say, “Sheri, take your pillow and go downstairs.” I knew what that meant. It meant a tornado was coming, and I was instantly afraid. But then Mother would say, “Sheri, everything will be OK.” Her words always calmed me. Today, decades later, when life seems overwhelming or frightening, I call Mother and wait for her to say, “Everything will be OK.”

Recent horrifying events in the United States have underscored the fact that we live in a world of uncertainty. Never has there been a greater need for righteous mothers—mothers who bless their children with a sense of safety, security, and confidence about the future, mothers who teach their children where to find peace and truth and that the power of Jesus Christ is always stronger than the power of the adversary. Every time we build the faith or reinforce the nobility of a young woman or man, every time we love or lead anyone even one small step along the path, we are true to our endowment and calling as mothers and in the process we build the kingdom of God. No woman who understands the gospel would ever think that any other work is more important or would ever say, “I am just a mother,” for mothers heal the souls of men.

Look around. Who needs you and your influence? If we really want to make a difference, it will happen as we mother those we have borne and those we are willing to bear with. If we will stay right with our youth—meaning, if we will love them—in most cases they will stay right with us—meaning, they will let us lead them.

As mothers in Israel, we are the Lord’s secret weapon. Our influence comes from a divine endowment that has been in place from the beginning. In the premortal world, when our Father described our role, I wonder if we didn’t stand in wide-eyed wonder that He would bless us with a sacred trust so central to His plan and that He would endow us with gifts so vital to the loving and leading of His children. I wonder if we shouted for joy 12 at least in part because of the ennobling stature He gave us in His kingdom. The world won’t tell you that, but the Spirit will.

We just can’t let the Lord down. And if the day comes when we are the only women on earth who find nobility and divinity in motherhood, so be it. For mother is the word that will define a righteous woman made perfect in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, a woman who has qualified for eternal increase in posterity, wisdom, joy, and influence.

I know, I absolutely know, that these doctrines about our divine role are true, and that when understood they bring peace and purpose to all women. My dear sisters, whom I love more than I know how to express, will you rise to the challenge of being mothers in these perilous times, though doing so may test the last ounce of your endurance and courage and faith? Will you stand steadfast and immovable as a mother in Israel and a woman of God? Our Father and His Only Begotten Son have given us a sacred stewardship and a holy crown in their kingdom. May we rejoice in it. And may we be worthy of Their trust. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1. “The Message of the First Presidency to the Church,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1942, 761.
2. Mosiah 5:15.
3. Moses 4:26.
4. See Alma 13:2–4, 7–8.
5. See Spencer W. Kimball, “The Role of Righteous Women,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 102.
6. Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (1997), 387.
7. Matthew Cowley Speaks (1954), 109.
8. “Our Wives and Our Mothers in the Eternal Plan,” Relief Society Magazine, Dec. 1946, 801.
9. Moses 5:11.
10. Priesthood and Church Government, comp. John A. Widtsoe (1939), 85.
11. Heb. 12:2.
12. See Job 38:7.
© 2012 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I'm Shallow

By Evalyn M. Sandberg

Aesthetic sensibility has been decreeing that
I should not sing hymns lustily, a trifle sharp or flat.

Musicians wince as I intone pure praise and real thanksgiving.
This second form of worship gives me such a zest for living!

I’m sure God can distinguish a false note from the start;
but does he analyze the voice — or listen to the heart?

My friends, I am sort of a music snob.  I rarely listen to people's musical links on Facebook, because so many of them are really quite terrible--a trifle sharp or flat.  Still, I hope EVERYONE feels that they can sing with gusto, because I know that the second form of worship brings me joy, and I hope it does the same for you.  Music is a blessing.


I really hate the song "Silent Night."  I know, I know.  It makes me un-Christian or something.  I think the words are lovely, but the tune just scrapes on me. I blame this on listening to decades of horrible "Silent Night" renditions.  There's just too much pop-izing of what should be a hymn and note sliding.  Somewhere I've reached a point where it's not even worth it to try to listen to it.

The one exception is listening to my friend, our ward organist, play the organ chimes on this song.  Lovely!

But the tone-deaf extended Hill family holding hands around the Christmast tree "singing" all three verses?  It's enough to swear me off the song for the rest of my life.  Or longer.

I'm sorry, World.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Spencer turned off his alarm this morning.  Then Ash couldn't find her keys, so she came in.  Spencer got up.  My alarm went off.  I said, "Bah, humbug!" and I turned it off.  I stayed in bed.  I was kinda sleeping, but mostly choosing NOT to get up.

I finally got up, fed the dog, and went into the bathroom to start the day.  It was VERY late (for a work day).  I moved QUICKLY.

Just now I went into the restroom, where I discovered that I hurried TOO quickly where my hair is concerned.  Can you say, "Bad hair day"?

I think this is bad enough to even justify leaving work early...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sharing a Memory: Ted

When I was pregnant with Briana, my mom threw me a baby shower and invited the ladies from my home ward.  One of them--and I don't remember who it was--gave me a beautiful white plush teddy bear.  It had a music box in it which wound up on the back of the bear.  I put that bear in the crib, where it stayed during Breezy's infancy.

Briana became VERY attached to that bear, whose name became "Ted."  We took Ted everywhere.

When Bri was about 14 or 15 months old, we took a day trip to my uncle and aunt's home in Wyoming.  Our little one was very well-behaved that day, but the junk food she'd eaten did not sit well with her.  On the ride home, she vomited.  She was so sad, and her first words were, "Oh, no!  Ted!"  She cried and cried--she was so heartbroken because she's spoiled Ted.  We comforted her, cleaned everything up, and threw Ted in the washer as soon as we got home.  She was just tiny, but she kept asking if Ted was OK.  His music box never worked again, but Ted survived the washing--the first of many.

When Taylor was born, Briana was two.  She was old enough to carry Ted around herself, and he STILL went everywhere.  Several times, at church, I had to remind our two-year-old to put DOWN her dress.  But she had Ted's face up to her chest--she was nursing him.

Briana LOVED that bear!  It didn't take long before he wasn't white any more. The soft fabric of his nose disappeared.  He certainly wasn't soft.  He was hardly even fluffy! 

When Briana was 3, we went one day to Spencer's sister's home.  There was a small neighborhood park down the street, so Spencer's older niece took Bri and Whit to the park to play.  I told Breeze to leave Ted with me, but she was adamant that he wanted to play with them.  She came home without Ted.  I went with her to the park to retrieve her beloved bear.  Just a few days later, the same thing happened.  Our older niece found Ted buried in the sand (apparently he really did want to play), so she picked him up and brought him to me.  I decided that Bri was old enough to take responsibility for Ted, which, interpreted, meant that she had lost him.  So I hid him in the trunk so I could put him in the cedar chest before he really was lost.

We got about halfway home when Bri screeched from the back seat, "Ted!  I left him in the park!"  We responded that we did not have time to turn around.  We reminded her that he was her responsibility and she had not taken care of him, and we said we'd go back the next day to look for him.  She called Aunt Jenny as soon as we got home, but Aunt Jenny couldn't find him.  We went back to Jenny's the next day, but we couldn't find Ted.  Briana was absolutely heart-broken. 

Ted was safely in my cedar chest.

About a year ago (maybe a bit more), our girls wanted to go through the treasures in my cedar chest.  Ted was near the bottom.  Our grown-up daughter, who lived in Far-Away Logan, saw that bear and nearly went into tears.  She was so relieved to see that he was OK and that he was still around for her.  Then she got really mad at me and took that bear away from me.  :)

He is now safely in HER cedar chest, waiting for that girl to take him out and love him again whenever she's ready.  I'm glad we have Ted.

Monday, December 17, 2012

So Many Things

On a happy note, my poinsettia is thriving.  If I had any real wood at my desk, I would knock on it.

This morning while getting ready for work, I thought, "I wish I could have a whole lunch with my friend--just the two of us."  I emailed her when I arrived, and we actually took that lovely lunch together.  Bliss!

I got a new book for Christmas.  It is a beautiful, leather-bound copy of a biography about Lorenzo Snow.  Not only will it be a wonderful book to read, but it smells heavenly!  I LOVE that new-book smell (especially a leather-bound new book)!

My dad's email this morning announced that I am getting a new niece or nephew next year.  Woot!  Congratulations, Gavin and Kimberly!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Today I'm May

Did you ever read or watch "The Secret Life of Bees?"  One of the characters was a sweet, innocent child of a woman.  She had created a prayer wall of her own.  Whenever she heard somethng that broke her heart, she would write it down and put it in the wall.  It was her only way to cope and not be buried by the sadness of the evil in the world.

Today I need a wailing wall.  26 dead in an elementary school.  My stomach is sick.  My heart is sick.  My head is sick.  I'd like to just curl into a ball somewhere and cry for days.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

We Don't Use that Word at Our House

As our children have gotten older, the word has become more common; and I admit sometimes I even use it.  Because let's face it:  sometimes things just SUCK.

Ugh.  What an ugly word that is.

"Shut up" was not allowed in our house, either.  It's such a rude phrase!  Of course, profanity still isn't found (much) at our house.  I once let Landon wash my mouth out with soap when he reminded me that I had done the same to him for using a particular word.  What can I say?  When he's right, he's right.

I've already told you, haven't I?, that my boss says, "Bless you" all the time.  It is one of those phrases that just touches me.  Also, last week he told me I was a champion.  Wow.  I don't think I've ever been a champion before.  I liked it.  :)

I believe there is power to be found in words, and I believe that the way we lead (or herd or follow or wander) can be effected intensely by words.  Probably my least favorite thing I hear at work is, "I hope I still have a job after this."  It makes me think Really?  Are you really so worried that your superior would fire you over this?  Perhaps they really are, but I think it introduces a fear factor that is not only unnecessary but completely demoralizing.  Also, I don't believe that leading by FEAR is leading at all.  Anyone can move a herd with a cattle prod.  It takes something much more to be an effective and true LEADER.

It makes me wonder what thoughtless thing I might be saying that is dragging someone down.  I'm trying to be conscientious about my words.

A Wonderful Story

Dear friends (if anyone is there),

I am sharing this story to journal it, not to brag.  It just made me so happy, I had to make sure to write it down.

When we bought our house, I did not love it.  It is a good house--very well-built and well-cared for.  But it is not laid out the way I would choose, and it was never beautiful to me.  The cabinets, for example, are a high-quality, solid wood.  But I think they are ugly.  I wish I had a separate living room that no one needs to go into.  The house had the big living/dining room, then downstairs there were two LARGE family rooms.  But with all the space, it only has 4 bedrooms.  There's a LOT of hall space but not a lot of closet space. 

But the house was really perfect for preschool, which is what we were looking for most of all.  There is a basement entrance; I was able to use one of the family rooms as a play room.  And in the end, we really only needed 4 bedrooms.

We've tried to make our house a home.  It is not a beautiful home.  I don't like the baseboards, window and door trims, cabinets, or countertops.  I don't like the windows.  I HATE the carpet.  Also, I am not a decorator, meaning I really don't have a knack for seeing how it should be put together.

And you know how we can be sometimes--not quite satisfied with what we have.  Oh, believe me, if I were a rich woman, this would be a lovely, lovely home with lovely, lovely furniture.  The exterior would have a different look.  The yard would be manicured.  The windows, trim, doors, baseboards, flooring, cabinets--all of these things would be replaced.  And I have it in my mind just exactly how it would look (hello, Pinterest!).

But we have pictures of our family, gifts people have given us, pictures of the temple and the Savior. We have a lovely piano (thanks, Honey!) and sufficient furniture. We are very blessed. Mostly we have a lot of love and laughter in our house, and EVERYONE is welcome there.

So this weekend, when Ashie told me this story, it touched my heart and made me very grateful. 

When Ash was in elementary school, she was friends with a set of twins who live in our neighborhood, just a couple of blocks away, in a neighboring ward.  They had come over to our house, and they had been there for a while when one of the girls said, "Ashtyn!  What IS that?"  Ashtyn looked around, trying to determine what she was talking about.  She said, "What is what?"  And her friend responded, "What is that feeling?  I've never felt anything like that before.  It's so warm!"

Ashtyn's friend described feeling comfortable and safe and just happy.  It was hard for her to put into words how she was feeling, and she didn't really know what that feeling was.  I believe she was feeling the Spirit of the Lord; and oh, how I hope she is not the only one who has felt that in our home!

A week or so ago Ashtyn had a date with a young man she met at Institute.  Lemme tell you, I don't think our house has ever been more messy.  Ash had been baking, dishes hadn't been done for a few days.  There was projects stuff all over the table and shoes and coats were pooped on the floors, chairs, and table.  When that young man arrived Ashtyn apologized for the messy house.  He said, "It's not messy.  I was just thinking what a lovely home you have."

Well, my friends, I used to have a clean house (before I worked).  It used to be a bigger priority than it is right now.  There used to never be clean laundry sitting on the table--it got put away immediately.  There were rarely dirty dishes on the counter, and NEVER overnight.  I would have DIED if someone had come over to see what that young man saw.  Now?  Well, I still hate it, but there is only so much I can accomplish. 

And in the end, if our guests, friends, and family can feel something warm in our home, that's more important than anything else.  I am very grateful today for our home.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Successes

I made 125 Christmas ornaments.  They have been given to the Fishes, the Vukis, the Giffords, and the Hills.  With the exception of about 25 homes, they are also delivered to the neighbors.  I will finish that tomorrow.  I will get them packaged up for all our missionaries and send them on Monday.

The gifts for my co-workers (the ladies) are finished.  I need to write cards and bring them in for delivery on Monday.

We went to the First Presidency Christmas devotional on Sunday.  Beautiful.  Amazing.  Wonderful.  Best part?  The organ postlude!  Seriously fantastic.  Even the Tab Choir clapped at the end.

We have tickets to see Voice Male!  Yay!

Taylor's Christmas gift is finished and in the mail (as of yesterday).  I hope to get Bri's finished this weekend and sent out on Monday.

I got the PERFECT gift for my Orem friend.  No pressure, Ame, but seriously, you're gonna smile and finger-wiggle.  Email your address to me and I will mail it so you don't have the pressure of opening it when I'm there.  :)

The Christmas tree and decorations went up the day after Thanksgiving.  Doesn't seem like a big deal, does it?  Believe me.  It is.  It wasn't December.  It wasn't even Bri's birthday yet!

I saw "The Rise of the Guardians."  It has Santa Claus; it counts!  I'm still planning on the annual watching of "White Christmas" and "A Miracle on 34th Street" (the newer version).

I'm singing in the ward choir.  Three of the tenors are 11- and 12-year-old boys.  They melt my heart a little bit.  We'll sound like a ward choir, but it will be an enthusiastic ward choir.

I have my dad's, my two nieces', and one of my MIL's gifts.  That doesn't seem to put much of a dent in things, does it?  I'm still counting it as a success, especially since we're only 1 week into December.  I hope to at least finish the California group this weekend so everything can go in the mail--you guessed it--on Monday.

I have a poinsettia (not dead yet!) and three small nativity scenes on my desk at work.

I led the hymns at our department devotional.  Shana chose "Joy to the World" since she knows it's my favorite.  We've also started our 12 Days of Christmas treats, and I have even done my part already.  Woot!

We went to the ward Christmas party, greeted many friends and neighbors, and ate (more) yummy food.

There is still a lot to do, but so far it's been a wonderful, beautiful Christmas season for me.  I hope you can say the same!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Today's Pinterest activity

What was pinned

What I made
I'm going to buy nametags and a necklace and a tie tack.  Then I'm going to fill these cute things and send them off.  I'm really pleased with how they turned out.  (Shout out to DI!)

I also completed the gifts for my girlfriends at work.  Tomorrow we will deliver our neighbor gifts.

Happy December and Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, November 30, 2012

The End. But It Isn't, Really.

On Sunday, November 4, my brother went to visit my grandparents.  Grandpa had been basically unconscious for the past 3 days or so.  The continued to give him morphine because of the terrible pain he was in.  He was very weak and dehydrated.  Grandma and her children had spent several nights and days on constant vigil, waiting for his spirit to leave his body.  For the days before he was unconscious, he had been talking to people who were long dead, and it was clear that he had one foot in this world and one in the next. 

Grandma told my brother that she wanted the boys to come give Grandpa a priesthood blessing and to be very stern with him.  She felt that he needed to be told that it was time for him to let go of this life and that he did not need to worry about her.  Grandma was exhausted, physically and emotionally.

So my two brothers (who live in Utah), their wives, Spencer, Ashtyn, and I went to Grandma's on Sunday night.  The boys sweetly and firmly blessed my grandpa according to Grandma's wishes.  We each spent time alone with Grandpa, touching and kissing him, talking to him, expressing our love.  We gathered in small groups and reminisced together.  There was laughter.  There were tears.

We asked Mom to call us when he left, even if it was the middle of the night.  I didn't sleep well, knowing that that call was going to come at any time.  It didn't come during the night.

On Monday morning we have our devotionals at work.  Tim B. shared his testimony of the work of temples, and it was more than I could bear.  Because of gratitude and knowledge, the tears flowed freely for me, and I finally left because my sniffling was becoming ridiculous.  My boss came to my desk and asked if I was OK.  I was, because the tears were not despair, they were gratitude.  So he said, "If you're OK, come into my office and we'll go through some things."

I'd only been in his office about 10 minutes when my headset beeped.  I answered it as I always do, and my mom said, "Hi, darlin'."  Her voice broke, and I knew why she was calling.  Even though I was SO happy that my grandpa no longer had to be in pain, I was still very sad to know he was gone.  Of course, the loss is not just mine, and I was concerned for my grandma and my mom and others.  As soon as I hung up the phone I buried my face in my hands and sobbed.  My sweet boss had the tissue box in front of me in no time flat, and he just stayed and let me meltdown for a moment.

A moment is really all it took.  We have been preparing for Grandpa's departure from mortality for six months or more.  It is a relief to know that he is pain free.  It is a blessing to know that he is joyfully rejoining his family and friends who left this life earlier.  It is a relief that Grandma doesn't have to worry about him any more.  And it is amazing to have the gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessed peace brought through the Holy Ghost.

The funeral was held on Saturday, November 10th.  There was a horrific snowstorm that weekend, yet we still had a nice turnout of family and friends.  The funeral went beautifully, and I was even able to sing without a meltdown. 

The interment was in the mountain valley town where Grandpa grew up.  The roads were clear, but it was COLD and windy.  Yet still, people came to pay their respects.  The American Legion sent a contingent to give a 21-gun salute, a bugler to play "Taps," and a color guard who retired the flag on the casket and presented it to Grandma "on behalf of a grateful nation."  My sister had purchased three dozen flowers so that anyone who wanted to could place a flower on the casket.  The simple act of all the children placing those flowers on the casket was my grandma's undoing.  She cried and cried and said, "It's so final!"

Well, it is final.  But also, it isn't.  Because of our Savior, Grandpa will have a glorified, perfected, pain-free body at the resurrection.  Because of our Redeemer and the restoration of priesthood keys, we can be a family eternally.  I'm so thankful for what we have, what we know, and the blessings that come from God.

For flowers and cards sent, for prayers offered, for phone calls and emails, for kind and loving friends, for sweet family, I am sincerely thankful.

Grandpa and Grandma in high school

My hero AND the hero of a nation

With his family

Holding me

The two of us

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Go For Days with Nothing to Say...

...but today is not that day.

I am currently on a term break with school.  Earning my MBA has taken much longer than I would have guessed at the beginning.  Part of it is that I have to take term breaks in order to get the money together for the next term.  But really, let's be honest.  It is really hard to go to school.  I have learned that I would probably do better with a teacher and a class instead of online.  I have learned that I really, really like to be home and I am easily distracted by my sweet family (who I just adore).  I have learned that it would be OK with me if I was a full-time mom and grandma forever.  I already knew that one, sort of--but sometimes we have to travel to the greener grass on the other side of the fence in order to REALLY KNOW (stupid, right?).

I have also learned that my dream job is not in business.  I chose an MBA (instead of another master's emphasis) because I thought it would give me a good look at many different careers:  HR, marketing, finance, etc.  I was right about that.  But I've also found that I don't LOVE any of those things.  I can do them, but I don't love them.

Working toward an MBA has opened other learning opportunities for me, particularly in my work.  When people learn that I am a student, they treat me with more respect than a "lowly secretary."  That bugs me (everyone should receive respect and acceptance), but it definitely opens doors for me.  Also, my boss (who is the kind of person who is open and willing to allow me to participate and learn) has been even more open to my input because of my familiarity with parlance, theories, etc.

 Last month we had a training meeting in our division that involved studying brain dominance theory.  That test showed me something I already knew--I am an empathetic person and I excel with people.

In a way, this makes me laugh, because frankly, people kinda make me crazy.  When they do stupid things I just want to SCREAM in frustration.  I really hate working retail, because people are so rude!  Customer service jobs BITE because I hate that people think they are ENTITLED to something.

The flip side of that is that I care and get bugged about these things because I AM a people person.  I believe--to my core--that ALL people should be treated fairly, kindly, and respectfully.  That includes the customer's treatment of the service providerAND vice versa.  No one is ENTITLED to preferential treatment just because he or she holds a certain degree or is holding the cash or has a certain title.

Also, I love children, and they love me.  I always wanted to teach school, from the time I was a child myself.  But once I reached adulthood, I did not (and I still do not) want to play the political games that are involved for school teachers.  Their livelihood is very much influenced by the national, state, and local political "scene" as well as the politics that are in any workplace.  I LOVED having my preschool because I got to teach, organize, plan, and love kids, but I didn't have to fight any politics.  If a parent didn't want their child to be with me, they could leave.  And guess what?  That was OK with me, because I truly wanted what was best for each child and for their parents (that people-person thing again).

I've have many people ask why I didn't/don't do daycare.  It's because I love kids, but I also love structure.  Also--as long as we're being honest--there are certain things about motherhood that I don't miss, diapers being at the forefront.  School with 4-year-olds is one thing.  All day with babies and toddlers is another.

One of the things I really loved about preschool was that, at the end of the day, I felt really fulfilled about what I had done that day.  I had many things to laugh about.  I had many things to learn.  And I saw the lights turn on in the eyes of many children.  Additionally, I gave them a safe harbor for several hours each week.  I couldn't fix all of their families' problems, but I could give them a safe, happy, educational, loving atmosphere while they were with me.  Many of them already had that at home.  Far too many did not.

In the past week I've had three different people confide things to me.  ALWAYS they just need someone who they trust will keep their issues private, who will listen to them, who will help them carry the burden that they can't carry alone, and who will love them in spite of their challenges and their weaknesses.  I feel these things very deeply, and there are times when I am moved to tears because of my pain for others' challenges.  These people (and their families) go on my prayer list.  But I learned while I was teaching Good Touch/Bad Touch that at some point I have to let it go.  It's OK to cry.  It's OK to give empathy and sympathy.  But in order to not be paralyzed by the sadness, I have to let it go.  I think I could do something like that professionally, and I think it would be fulfilling to help enable people to find the strength to deal with hard things.

So the careers I'm considering are as follows.  The first one would be my #1 choice, but the rest are in no particular order, simply because I DON'T KNOW!

  • Quitting employment altogether and staying home to take my high schooler to lunch, take care packages to my kids in college, plan play dates with my grandchildren, and volunteer somewhere wonderful.  Unfortunately, we need my income, so this is not the most viable option.
  • Teaching college, especially if I were somewhere like a business college (because of my career experience).  What I don't know is a) if I'm qualified; b) if I would love college students the way I love younger children; c) how colleges are influenced by politics. 
  • Getting a degree in social work or counseling, and specializing in working with children.  What I don't know is a) if anyone would want to hire a 50-something woman with no experience; b) if the financial and time trade-offs would be worth it this late in my life; c) if I would actually enjoy it once I got there. 
  • Staying right where I am, helping these people who I've come to love, and volunteering somewhere wonderful.  Here I don't feel the fulfillment that I might in another career; but if I volunteer somewhere, I can find that, I think.  Here I'm comfortable.  Here I don't have to leave my family or spend lots of money and time to go to school.  Here I don't work with children (chronologically), but it's really not that different in how they need to be treated (I just can't give hugs).  Here I get really good benefits, my job is very stable, and I am earning retirement benefits. 


The night before last Landon and I spent a couple of hours together.  Part of our conversation included the revelation that one of the high school coach's wives is fighting breast cancer right now.  One of the seniors has chosen as a senior project to raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Institute in honor of Coach Briggs and his wife.  This young man's dad prints t-shirts for a living.  One of the companies donated 250 shirts, and this dad has donated the shirt printing, and this boy is selling shirts at school for $10 each.  Landon asked if he could purchase one (we have tender feelings about breast cancer at our house).  We didn't have $10 in our wallets, but I wanted Landon to be able to help out.

On the drive into work yesterday I thought I could get $10, take it to Landon during his lunch hour, and be back to work all within the hour I had for lunch.  Then I thought, "Why not just take a little longer lunch and take Landon out?"  So that is exactly what I did.  We went to Costa Vida in Jordan Landing and had lunch together.

It was an A Day at the high school (they are on a track schedule), and Landon despises his math class.  But his last class was going to be volleyball, which he enjoys.  I said, "Well, at least you have volleyball to look forward to on A Days."  He responded, "Yeah.  And seminary. (long pause) I love seminary!"

Yesterday Brother Clark invited several young people who either have their mission call, are awaiting their mission call, or are working on their mission papers to come to class and teach the students.  The premise was that the kids could "critique" their teaching style, but I suspect it was a great opportunity to have young people who many of the students know come to seminary and share their testimonies with the kids.  That is exactly what happened for Landon.

In grade school Ashie was friends with girls from a neighboring ward who are twins.  Ashtyn went off to Entheos for middle school, and these two girls became quite popular.  They were never unkind to Ashtyn, but they were definitely in their own world.  And--as happens often with the popular kids--they were perceived as "snobs" and "stuck up."  (I refuse to make a judgment because everyone has their own hangups.)  Well, one of these girls, Kara, has her mission papers in and was one of yesterday's seminary teachers.

Landon:  Mom, did you know that Kara _______ is going on a mission?  Her papers are filled out and she is just waiting for her call.  I would NEVER have expected that from her.  She taught in our class today, and Mom, the spirit was so strong while she was talking!

Later, at lunch, Landon asked me if he could get his Patriarchal blessing.  I said, "Of course!"  So he asked me the process, and by this morning he had texted the bishop (who is being released on Sunday and advised Landon to call the new bishop as soon as he could).

We have a super son, and I am grateful to be his mother.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Still Thinking About Happiness

More about Grandpa and Me

I went to my grandparents' home in Orem 3 or 4 times last week.  My mom is there, and she is working hard to make sure EVERYTHING is taken care of.  So when I have arrived, there isn't really anything I have been needed to DO.  Grandma says that's better, anyway, because she just wants to visit.  And so we visit.

Every day I have waited for the phone call, telling me that Grandpa had finally reached the end of his mortality; but it just hasn't come.  He's been stubborn all his life, and he's been stubborn in his death.

Yesterday my grandma told my brother that Grandpa needed to be blessed and told that it was OK and high time to leave mortality.  My 2 brothers, their wives, Spencer, Ash, and I went to Orem again.  These three good men laid their hands on Grandpa's head and kindly gave him the what-for.  :)  Grandpa looked skeletal, and he hasn't been really conscious for days now.  We spent several hours there, migrating in and out of Grandpa's room, visiting, weeping, laughing, remembering, loving. 

This morning at 8:02 a.m., Grandpa finally left mortality and joined much family and many friends in the spirit world.  My mom called me, and I had a good, sobbing cry (in my boss's office, no less).  And since that good cry, I feel grateful and relieved and oh, so blessed!

My grandpa had the largest hands I've ever seen.  9 years ago he got cellulitis in his right hand.  That, combined with age and arthritis, have left those massive hands curled and useless.  The rest of his body has wasted away to nearly nothing, especially in the past two weeks.  But last night we uncovered his hands, and I had a flood of memories.

Those hands were the hardest-working set of hands I have ever seen: 

  • He could dig fast and deep and for a long time, never stopping till the job was done.  I never saw him hold up a shovel.  It was only in his hands if he was working, and he didn't lay it down till the dig was done.
  • Grandpa laid yards and yards and yards of concrete.
  • Grandpa was a master mechanic and specialized in body work.  He was incredible.
  • He and Uncle Bud (his brother) beat the tar out of everyone else (three or four generations of men) in a two-man hand-saw race.
  • Those hands "bucked" a lot of wood, built and remodeled a lot of rooms, tarred (and batted) some bats, built some fires, and whittled many sticks and whistles.
  • Those hands grabbed the steering wheel once or twice while he helped me learn to drive (while Daddy was in California).  :)
  • Grandpa drove many a car, truck, van, boat, and snowmobile.   He probably fixed even more vehicles than he drove!
  • Those hands signed my parents' marriage certificate.
  • Those hands held onto my mother for hours and hours while she was in labor (and his feet walked miles and miles with hers).  Then those hands held mine when I was a tiny little girl.  And a bigger girl.  And a teen.  And a woman.
  • Those ginormous hands gave me birthday spanks (and dimes) every year in my childhood.
  • Those hands were placed tenderly on my head to confirm me a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to give me other blessings.  I was not the first and not the only one of his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grands who received priesthood blessing through those beautiful hands.
  • Grandpa would wipe his tears with those hands--usually with a thumb.  The first time I remember seeing Grandpa's tears was the day he got new scriptures for Christmas.  It was not the last time, and it was nearly always in regard to his love for his family.
  • Grandpa shook hands with countless people in business dealings and church assignments. Those handshakes were promises.  The handshakes I remember most were the ones he gave Spencer. They were man-to-man handshakes.
  • Those hands tenderly held my babies.
  • Those hands tenderly held other babies as he blessed them and cherished them.
Thinking about his hands has opened a floodgate of memories, each of which I am nothing but grateful for!  Grandpa was imperfect but oh, so good.  He loved me, and I love him back.  It is hard to imagine life without him--not because I've seen him every day, but because I've just always known he was there.

On the plus side, how many women get to know, like, respect, love, admire, cherish, and laugh with their grandparents for 44 years of their lives?  How many great-grandchildren can say that they made it to adulthood before they lost that grandparent, and--even better--that they knew and loved him?  Not many.  I am so very grateful!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reality Bites

The saddest thing that happened today was when I realized remembered that my artistic talent is limited to coloring inside the lines and therefore, the Christmas ornament I've been working on is NOT going to come together.

Back to Square One...

Why, oh why did I not remember this sooner?

Friday, November 2, 2012


Do you ever walk through life feeling like you're in multiple places at the same time?  That is how I have felt this week.  It's a little bit tiring.

I know I have to get up in the morning and get ready for work.  That's so normal!  I shower.  I feed the dog.  I put on my makeup.  I get dressed.  The laundry and the dishes still need to be done.  We still need meals.

I go to work.  I read and respond to emails from colleagues, friends, and family.  It's so normal!  I schedule things.  I assemble reports and books.  I answer the same phone calls as every other day of my life.  I greet people and they greet me.

But, like an underlying current, my heart and my brain seem to be flowing in a different place than my body. 

I'm in Indiana and Calgary, watching over our beautiful missionaries, hoping they are thriving and working hard and not being sad, and knowing that they have very little idea (as it should be) of the things that are unfolding at home. 

I'm at Beehive Clothing, wondering if our daughter is well and if she's secretly disappointed that those pin curls didn't work, so the costume didn't come together after all. 

I'm at home and at WJHS, hoping that our son is safe and happy, in spite of all the weird things happening and the upheaval of our schedules right now. 

I'm at Boeing, wondering if Spencer is getting along OK, and if the job is going well or if it's killing him, and if people hate him or love him (as they should!).

I'm on my knees, thanking God that our children are friends, that Spencer is a strong, wonderful, faith-filled man, and that we know of His marvelous plan for our happiness. 

I'm also at the U of U med center, hoping that my cousin is healing well and wishing that she knew how much I cherish our memories together and praying that somehow something might make a change in her life. 

And all of these roads lead to Orem, where my grandpa lays helplessly dying and my grandma watches, just as helplessly.  I think of my mom, who is missing a lot of work and time at home but is still working oh, so hard.  I think of my Dad in Sacramento, who is kind of lost when Mom is not there, and who will continue to plug faithfully away because he knows his bride is needed in Utah right now.

Sometimes my eyes leak a little bit, and sometimes my heart is a bit heavy.  Sometimes my eyes are dry and my tummy is hollow.  But mostly I'm filled with hope and gladness and gratitude and peace.  I adore my family so much:  my sweetheart, our children, my wonderful parents, my extended family (aunts, uncles, GRANDPARENTS, cousins, siblings, etc.).  We have the gospel plan, which I KNOW is true and real and completely operative in my life and the lives of my loved ones. 

It's difficult to describe, but this week feels a bit surreal.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hoping for Death

Yesterday my grandpa got up and got himself dressed.  By noon he was unable to stand on his own.  The hospice nurse helped him to his bed, where he stayed for the remainder of the day, semi-unconscious.  My cousin, an EMT, went in and rolled him over every half hour or so, and Grandpa didn't even flinch.

The end is near.  His wife and children doubted he'd last through the night.

It is sad to lose his companionship in mortality. It will also be a blessing for him and all of us who love him when he is gone.  It seems really selfish and somehow WRONG to pray for death to come, except that when it does, it will be as is told in The Tale of Three Brothers (Harry Potter):  

And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly,
and, equals, they departed this life.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sometimes the Little Things Aren't Really Little

Last night I spent a couple of hours delivering treats to my Primary class members, the ladies I visit teach, and my nieces and nephews.  It was enjoyable.  It was no big deal, and it was kind of a big deal, because it was a four-hour project (2 hours putting together the treats, and 2 hours delivering them).  I'm not complaining, because I loved every minute of it.

At one house, the mother gave me a huge hug and said, "Aundrea, I just love you so much!  I don't really know why, but I do.  Well, I do know why.  It's a million little reasons."  That hug and the sweet words of a woman I also love and admire were a beautiful highlight for the evening.

Our nephews got all dressed up in their Halloween costumes during my visit to their house.  They seemed as delighted to show me as I was to see them.  They also brought out their stuffed animals in the costumes their mother made for them.  There were a dozen or more costumed stuffed animals!  What a wonderful memory those kids will have of their mother's love for them!  My cheeks HURT by the time I left their home.

Last night two of our "sons" came over to visit.  When the first one walked into the house (they've been told they don't have to knock), I got misty eyes immediately--I was so happy to see him!  I've missed these kids!  It meant going out of their way to come to our house, so it was a sacrifice on their part.  But oh! that little visit means so much to me!

One of the boys has been working hard to become temple worthy.  When he walked into the House of the Lord, he had to show the worker a small rectangular piece of paper indicating his worthiness to be there.  It seems like such a small thing, but the road has been long and difficult.  It is a very big deal to him and to those of us who love him.

The small, seemingly insignificant things add up to big things in our lives.  Sometimes, though, those small things aren't really small at all.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thinking about Life Again


A friend recently wrote something like, "Life is hard with occasional happy times.  It was meant to be that way, because it is a test."

I disagree with her.  I think life is meant to be happy with occasional down days.  That doesn't mean that hard things don't happen, and some hard things last a while. 

For example, right now my grandpa is on hospice care.  The main caregiver is my grandma, who is often not even recognized by her nearly-lifelong sweetheart.  There is very little Grandpa can do, so Grandma does it all.  It is a heavy load to bear for her.  She does better when she can at least get a good night's rest, but that is often interrupted by his trying to leave the house to "go to work" or his taking a fall.  It's really hard on her.  But my grandma has been an absolute CHAMPION through all of this.  Each time we speak she talks of the blessings she is receiving.  She laughs a lot.  She is incredibly patient and oh, so kind!

My grandma is doing something really hard.  She is more than 85 years old, and she deserves a rest.  But she is so grateful and glad to be capable of helping her sweetheart during this season.  And she knows that another season is coming.  In fact, the only way this difficult season will end is for Grandma to enter a season WITHOUT Grandpa.  Certainly that is a daunting thought.  But she smiles, "cowboys up," and does what needs to be done with happiness and gratitude.

Another friend taught me this week that life might be described as a 1-10 scale, with 1 being terribly miserable and 10 being as happy as can possible be.  Most people ride a roller coaster between 2 and 10, thinking that their happiness is at the mercy of life's circumstances.  My friend said she would much rather ride most days at a 6 or 7.  According to Elder Packer it's OK to have a "good bad day" every once in a while.  And certainly we should enjoy every moment of joy that is given to us.  But we also have a responsibility for our own happiness.  Like my grandma, we can smile, even when life doesn't seem easy or fair.  And by "smile" I don't just mean turning up the corners of our mouths (although that's a wonderful start).  I mean that we find true happiness in all that we do.

The other thing I really believe is that people who are happy attract happiness to themselves.  Choosing happiness is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  People who are happy will want to be with you (the "birds of a feather" philosophy).  And even though hard things will happen, if you are already happy, surrounded by happy people, making other people and circumstances as happy as possible, those hard things will just be another bridge to cross in a happy life.

It is true that most days we turn off the alarm clock, get ready for a day of work, take care of the mundane, and start again the next day.  Sometimes I think it would be fine with me if I were independently wealthy, travelled the world, ate all the finest foods, was never in another traffic jam, never had someone say harsh words to me or my loved ones, changed a stinky diaper, washed a dirty dish, tackled the never-ending laundry (again), got sick, or any of the other unpleasant things that might come to us in our lives. 

But what if we had never played a game of Lifesavers-in-Flour because it only cost us $.50?  We if we had never planned a fun stay-cation or party day so that we could be with our family?  What if we hadn't shared the love, acceptance, hugs, kleenexes, and hysterical laughter that come with heartbreak?   What if we had missed parenthood?  What if we were physically unable to do things (and even then...)?  What if we lived somewhere where "dirty" was the norm?

There's just too much to be grateful for, to laugh at, to love, to do, to see, to think, to feel, to hear, to EXPERIENCE and to LIVE to be unhappy, even when things are hard.  And the world would be a better place if we all took the responsibility to be happy ourselves and then pay it forward.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lucky Mom

I sent Sister Hill our Benny card so she can go get contact lenses.  She did not understand how it worked, so she contacted the mission mom.  Sister C gave her permission to text me and find out all about it.

So this morning I got to have a text conversation with our daughter.  It wasn't much and it wasn't about anything important, really.  (Well, ya know, except her being able to SEE).  But it seemed awfully nice to get to "talk" to her.

Friday, October 19, 2012

My friend Courtney at "You Are What You Love" has awarded me this fabulous Liebster award.  I know it's fabulous, because she said so, and she has fabulous taste.  The Liebster is an "award given to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers who deserve some recognition and support to keep on blogging." Apparently the name is German for dearest. This award comes with rules ... sounds like a chain letter right?  Each person awarded must:

1. post 11 facts about themselves.
2. Answer the 11 questions the nominator has set for them.
3. Choose five bloggers to nominate.
4. Create 11 more questions for the bloggers they will nominate.
5. Let the lucky bloggers know.
Here goes:
Eleven Things About Me
1.  My name sounds like Andrea, except with an "ah" sound at the beginning.  It doesn't bother me much any more when people say it incorrectly, but it drives my friends and my family crazy.
2.  I am a travel sleeper.  It doesn't matter what kind of transportation we're talking about, just get us moving and I can fall asleep.
3.  Reading is my favorite sport.  I love to read novels, but there have been a few biographies I've thoroughly enjoyed, especially Audrey Hepburn.
4.  I think political debates are just arguments with "Mom" (the moderator) in the room, and I never can watch more than a few minutes of them.
5.  I think of myself as a confident person, but I often pretend I'm talking to children when I'm talking to adults.  Children aren't as scary.
6.  I have ownership or part ownership in 5 different blogs.
7.  I am a chocoholic.  People always say that, but I really am.  My preferred "poison" is milk chocolate M&M's, which I eat in 3's.  Also, there is a way to eat M&M's.  Just sayin'.
8.  I love meat.
9.  My dream is to travel, travel, travel.  My top travel dream is the UK.
10.  My hands and feet are almost always cold.  I keep hot pink mitten/gloves at work so I can stay warmer.
11.  I snore.  Sorry, Babe!
Courtney's Questions
1. if you could tell your 16 year-old self something, what would it be?  Someday Guess Jeans won't seem like such a big deal.
2. what are 3 things that make you most happy right now?  Letters from my missionaries, staying busy at work, this amazing fall weather.
3. what is something you're passionate about?  Life.  I often wish I felt things less keenly.  I guess passion is a gift and a curse.
4. what has been your greatest accomplishment?  Somehow snagging the best man in the world.
5. what do you think people misunderstand most about you?  I think people don't think I have fears, but I often just fake it till I make it.
6. what do you hope to be remembered for?  Loving all kids.
7. what was the last song you listened to?  "We Are Young" by Fun
8. what was the last movie you watched?  Disney's "Up"
9. if you had a life motto what would it be?  Hardship happens.  Misery is optional. -or- If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
10. what are your 3 most visited websites (excluding facebook, email, and work websites)  Blogs, blogs, and blogs!
11. what is your essential start-the-day-off item?  Toothbrush and toothpaste.
My Nominees
Amy at "Two Scoops"
(Much like a chain letter I don't really expect you to do this.  But it could be fun.)
My Questions for You
1.  If you could only have one thing for dinner for an entire month, what would it be?
2.  What is your dream job?
3.  What is your favorite holiday and why?
4.  What is your earliest memory?
5.  What is your favorite book?
6.  How do you change your piece of the world?
7.  If you could travel for one week with three people who are NOT family, who would it be?
8.  Your top three favorite movies.
9.  Share one of your life's dreams.
10.  Tell about the way one person has changed your life.
11.  Oreos:  Regular or double-stuff?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's Not That Important

One of the wonderful senior missionaries at work is making me nuts.  I seriously love the guy--he's a grandpa; a teddy bear!  He's pleasant.  He's cute.  He's helpful.

A couple of days ago my boss mentioned to him that he needed to show him how to put a print job on hold.  Since I was at the printer at the same time Elder M was there, he showed me how to do it, and gave me the mandate to teach my boss.  OK, kids, it's not hard.

It's also not at the top of the priority list when I'm with my boss this week.  Annual budgets are being reviewed by the muckities, so my boss (remember how he's the finance director?) is up to his eyes in prep work for two different departments.

But Elder M has asked me over and over if I've shown my boss how to put a print job on hold.  The only difference between him and a two-year-old is that he isn't saying "Mommy?  Mommy?  Mommy?" or patting my leg.

For. the. love!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sharing a Memory -- Maryann Clark

In the summer of 2006, after much prayer, it was confirmed to me that the changes in our family had warranted my needing to go to work full time.  Since I had already accepted enrollment for preschool for that year, I decided that I would begin the job hunt in earnest beginning early in 2007.  There were several things I (thought I) knew:

1.  I didn't want to work for the public schools.  I ADORE children, but the politics in education include the regular workplace politics AND state and national politics.

2.  I was most likely to find work that was clerical in nature, based on my experience.

3.  I did NOT want to work for the Church.  This was a personal preference based on the fact that I really hoped to have missionary experiences through my work, and that I did not want to mix the Corporation with the gospel in my own life.

2007 was a pretty good time to find work.  In fact, I heard people say that you could pretty much choose where you wanted to work, because work was so plentiful.  That, however, was not the case for me.  I probably applied at 8 or 10 different places, and I did not even get called in to interview except once (and I BOMBED that interview).

One day I was online, searching through jobs, when a small thought told me to look at the Church's employment site.  I had thought that before, but this time I finally obeyed the prompting.  It was getting close to the end of the school year, and I was getting desperate.  (Note of advice:  Don't get desperate before you obey a prompting.)

I ended up applying for three different jobs at the Church that day, including one for the Physical Facilities Department.  I did NOT want that job.

You guessed it:  just a few days later I was called for an interview.  Having bombed the only other interview I had gotten in all of my job hunting, I made this one a matter of serious prayer.  I went in for a 15 - 30 minute interview and left three hours later, having met with three different levels of managers and feeling confident that this was my job if I wanted it.

The big question was DID I WANT IT?  It was working for the Church, for heaven's sake!  And not just for the Church--for the Physical Facilities Department!  That was SO temporal!  It was SO Corporation!  It was SO not what I wanted!

The next night was ward choir practice.  I had not said much about this job to anyone but Spencer, but it was weighing heavily on my mind.  That night I sat next to Maryann Clark.  Maryann worked for the Church, in Physical Facilities.  We had spoken a number of times about some of the frustrations of her work (which mirrored some of the experiences my family members had).  I confided in her about this interview.  I told her what the work was.  I expressed my concerns about working for this Corporation.  I told her it would be disappointing NOT to have missionary experiences through my work.  I also told her about the sweet experiences I'd had while interviewing, about our need for me to have work and my fear of not being home all day for our children, and that I was sure the job was going to be offered to me.

Maryann was serious and sweet and sincere and kind.  She told me that yes, there were challenges with working for the Church.  Sometimes they are same challenges you face in other companies, and sometimes they are very unique because it is the Church.  She told me of the wonderful people she worked with and the friendships she'd made.  She reminded me that the Church was a VERY family-friendly workplace.  And then she said, "Aundrea, if that is where you need to work, only you will know.  It has its challenges, but it is also fulfilling and wonderful in many, many ways.  I know you will be taken care of, no matter what your decision is."  We both shed tears, and she gave me a  hug.  And I knew that when that job was offered to me, I would take it.

Just a few days later I received the phone call offering me that job, which was my loved job on 2LL.  After that Maryann and I often talked work, and usually it was to express frustration about something that you really only understand when you are colleagues.

Maryann was involved in many organization changes that came down from Headquarters, and when it was all said and done, she was doing the job of two people or more.  It was a difficult time for her professionally, but she hung on because it was work and because she LOVED the man she worked for.  She told me on multiple occasions that she knew that her boss was a friend from the pre-existence and that she would continue to take care of him as long as he needed her, just as she knew he would do all in his power to take care of her.

Yesterday was Maryann's funeral.  She was about 6 months younger than my mom, which is definitely NOT old enough to have fought and lost to cancer.  Our loss of her physical presence, however, is the ONLY win that cancer can claim, because her spirit was strong, and her circle of influence was enormous!  I will love her forever for her high spirits, her optimism, her happy disposition, her love of Harrison Ford, the sweet turn of her countenance when she talked about her sweetheart Greg, her adoration of her children and grandchildren, the way she took Taylor and Ashtyn under her wing and made them feel like they were her favorites in Primary, the overachiever in her that made her lessons memorable, and the fact that her sweet and calm reassurance influenced my decision to spend the last 5 1/2 years in a place and with people I love.

One other thing:  the closing speaker at the funeral was Maryann's boss and dear, cherished friend, who said that the only funeral harder for him than this one was his own wife's; who is retired from employment but is wearing a black and white nametag identifying him as a representative of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; who knew she was the person he should hire before they'd gone past their initial greeting; and who confirmed a friendship--forged (at least in this life) at the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop--which will last through eternity.

Thank heaven for the influence of wonderful friends!

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Sick Week

Friday I left work with a little niggling notion that that tiny cough might turn into something ugly.

Saturday that cough wasn't quite so tiny.

Sunday I curled up on the couch in complete self-pity because I was too sick to go to the Brigham City temple dedication.

Monday I emailed my boss--between hot and cold flashes.

Tuesday I nearly coughed myself inside out.

Wednesday I went to work.  For four hours.  Then I had my only coherent thought of the day:  What the hell am I doing here?

Thursday I went to the doctor, who agreed that a week might necessitate the need for an antibiotic.

Today is Friday.  I've lost a full week of my life.  That makes me mad.

I'm feeling a lot better, but I'm still coughing like crazy.

There's no point.  I'm just telling you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Who Invented This Stupid Article of Clothing?

The title of today's post is the sentence I say every night as I remove my bra.  I know, TMI.  But it explains an email I received from Spencer this morning.  The email had no subject and included just this link.

He makes me laugh.

And also, now we know.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sports Fans -- NOT!

Last week I was downstairs visiting with my brother and his wife.  The TV was on a football game (it is ALWAYS on a sports channel at their house), and there was a huge pass.  I just glanced up and said, "Nice reception."  Laurie's jaw dropped, and she said, "Wow.  You said 'reception.'  I'm impressed."

Here's the thing.  I grew up with sports fans.  Daddy loved to watch the games when I was a little girl, and my brothers were huge fans.  My favorite game is baseball, especially if I can be in the park.  I know enough about most of the major sports (football, soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball, volleyball) to get me by in a sports conversation, in the park, or in the arena.  We like to watch the Olympics.  We have a little family party and watch the Superbowl each year--mostly for the commercials, if we're being honest. 

But while we watch the Superbowl, I explain things to our kids.  When we went to the ballpark for the 4th of July, I had to explain the game to the kids; that might be the blind leading the blind a little bit.  But I'm the resident sports expert at our house.

Once in high school my friend told me that her sister had gotten so fed up with competing with the games that she put on a teddy and went and danced in front of the television, just to get ANY attention from her husband on a Saturday.

When we had been married a VERY short time, I came home from work and flipped on the TV.  The Dodgers were playing, so I was watching the game.  Spencer came home, said hello, dropped his stuff off in our room, sat down next to me, and changed the channel!  My first reaction was to think, "Hey!  I was watching that!"

But then I remembered my friend's sister, who had to compete with sports for her husband's attention, and I thought, "Well, at least I know I will never have to do that."

We found a program on PBS that we both enjoyed that afternoon.  Yes, we are PBS watchers...

With that background, may I just say


Hate. It.

Hate it in the cubicle.  Hate it in Devotional.  Hate it at choir practice.  Hate it from the pulpit.  Hate it in our Sunday lessons.  Hate it on your necktie.  Hate it at the copy machine.  Hate it at the drinking fountain.  Hate it in the cafeteria.  Hate it at the bank.


I don't know and I don't care about all the ramifications of the schools being in different divisions or conferences or whatever.  I'm just SO glad they won't be playing each other for a couple of years.  So glad.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Intensive Care

Does today's title scare you the way it does me?  Imagine my horror last night when our 15-year-old said that my brother was in intensive care.  He didn't know anything further.

So I ran downstairs to see what in the world was going on, and there sat my brother.  I said, "Are you OK?"  He said, "Yes, but I need to take myself to the insta-care for my elbow."

Intensive care/Insta-care.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Husband, the Celebrity

Just over three years ago, my husband got his bachelor's degree, in spite of me.  This enabled him to get a management position at his work.  He is a good manager.

Nearly two years ago, my husband became a licensed massage therapist.  He has been working nights and weekends doing massage because he loves it.  He is also very good at it.  Even some of his instructors come to him.

Two weeks ago, my husband started his MBA.  He's cool like that. He'll probably be finished before I am.  *sigh*

This week my husband made his television debut in a commercial for Eagle Gate College, who called and asked him if he would represent the school. 

I am married to the best, handsomest, coolest man in the world.

I can get you an autograph, maybe.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What People See, What People Expect, and Public Transportation

I took an interpersonal communications class at the university when I was 20 or so.  I remember one day we were assigned 5 different people in the class who we had to look at (not speak to) and determine a) what they did for a living OR what their major was, and b) what kind of music they liked best.

We had been in class a couple of days, so it wasn't 100% scientific--we had had short conversations.  However, it was amazing what we deduced about people, just based on their looks:  hairstyles, clothing, etc.

The train first thing in the morning is a good time to ride.  Mostly it's filled with people headed to work and students.  You can even make guesses from there.  That boy across the aisle from me?  He was MAYBE 15, his hair was not combed, he was studying a book of monologues--he was headed to the performing arts high school.  The kids across from me?  At first I thought he was in high school, but he had purchased a "used" calculus book, so I presume he was a really fresh freshman at the U, studying for his pre-calc test.  The man two rows behind me had the look of a COB worker:  white shirt, tie, suit (including coat).

Another man got off the train at my same stop.  His button-up shirt was colored.  Carefully combed hair. He was wearing a tie and nice slacks.  Shoes polished.  Definitely not COB, but definitely business of some kind.  Then he opened his mouth and said, "I hate this sh--."

Definitely NOT what I expected.

I wonder what people expect from me.  Do I validate, surprise, or disappoint?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Once Upon A Time...

…an 85-year-old woman lived by herself and went to Church in her ward in Canada. A new missionary came to their ward, and she learned from him that he was from West Jordan, Utah. By coincidence, the woman’s daughter also lived in West Jordan. Since the daughter was going to go visit her mother in Canada, she had her mother contact the missionary. The Elder gave the woman HIS mother’s cell phone number, and a friendship was born.

The daughter lives almost exactly ½ mile due east of us. She leaves for Canada tomorrow morning, but she said she’d take a package with her if we’d like. On Sunday she will be attending the ward where our Elder Hill is serving.

Small world. Happy mama.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


My friend had someone ask about her week, saying, "Your life is so exciting!"  She laughed and said, "'Exciting' is not the word I would use."

What word would you use to describe your life?

My life is RICH.

We live in a country that allows us to travel, explore, live, work, worship, befriend, serve, speak, and act pretty much any way we want to.  We are so rich.

I have a husband who I adore for at least a million reasons.  He loves me, too.  Incredible!  I am so rich.

We have four amazing children.  They are talented, terrific, seriously good people, and I get to call them mine.  I am so rich.

Spencer and I both have good jobs.  We have enough income and to spare.  We can contribute and help others.  We can enjoy some recreation.  We can pay our bills on time.  We have plenty to eat and wear.  We own three cars.  We go places to see people and things.  In addition, we have the help of others for obligations (such as missions), and we are so grateful for their generosity and help!  We are trying to pay it forward in every way we can.  We are so rich.

We are blessed with families who love us, and we love them.  We adore our nieces and nephews, the children of our loved siblings.  We still have all five of our parents with us.  We also still have three of our grandparents!  We are so rich.

We are surrounded by friends.  People from work and prior work.  People from wards and former wards.  People from our neighborhood and former neighborhoods.  People from childhood.  People from missions.  People from volunteer opportunities.  Our children's friends and their parents.  In addition, we are constantly meeting new, wonderful people.  We are so rich.

We have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are led by a prophet.  The priesthood has been restored, and we can make covenants through the priesthood in the Holy Temple.  We can go back to the temple as many times as we want.  We can repent.  We know the plan for our lives and for happiness both in mortality and for eternity.

Yup.  My life is RICH.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

If Your Boss Is Going to Be Late

If your boss is going to be late, you might move in slow motion first thing in the morning.

If you move in slow motion, you might notice that the dishes need to be cleaned.  If you notice the dirty dishes, you might need to unload the dishwasher.  If you unload the dishwasher you can load the dishwasher.

If you put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, you might decide to wipe down the counters.  If you wipe down the counters you might notice the things that need to be put away, extending to the table.  If you see that there is clean laundry on the kitchen table, you might decide to fold it.  If you fold it, it will need to be put away.

If you put the laundry away you might trip over the shoes that are on the floor NEXT to the closet.  If you put away the shoes you might finally think, "I ought to get ready for work."  As you are preparing for your shower, you might realize that you need a new razor and some soap for the shower.  So you could walk to the other bathroom to fetch those items.  While you are there, you might count shampoo bottles to see how many you have and when they might need to be put on the shopping list.

If there are items that need to be put on the shopping list, you might wander back into the kitchen to write them down before you forget.  You might decide to do one last straighten-up.  You might gather the remotes, push in the piano bench, pick up shoes and other paraphernalia, put some items you need to work on in a bag to take to work, and decide that you really should go get in the shower.

As you get ready for work, you might notice that your fingernails need to be trimmed.  That might lead to trimming your toenails, too. 

Getting dressed you might think, "I wish I had a cream cami."  Thinking about buying a cami might make you want to go shopping.  Since Walmart is the only store open, you could go there.  You might not find a cami, but you might find a skirt and several blouses that you like (thank you, Back to School time!).  You might be smart and NOT buy everything in sight, and finally leave for work.

If you get to work VERY late, you might have to park in Outer Darkness, and if you do, you could take the elevator to a place ALMOST above ground.  If you're ALMOST above ground at the almost-COB, you might see a member of the Twelve going into the temple.  He might greet you with a hello.  While you are smiling and working your way into the office building, you might also run into a member of the Presiding Bishopric, who might even greet you by name (if you've worked with him before).

As you travel to the floor where you actually work, you might say hello to many people you know and love.

If you've done dishes, folded and put away laundry and shoes, gotten ready for the day, trimmed your fingernails and toenails, done a little shopping, parked, and greeted several people you might actually make it to work before your boss.  Barely.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Spencer says that growling makes it ever-more-possible to open something that's stuck.  Can't get into the pickle jar? Growl while you twist.  Ashtyn totally buys into the growl, but she has a tiny little voice, so it's funny.

Last night she came with me to my niece's house.  We went to do her toenails, since she's 8 months pregnant and on bedrest.  Heather chose a polish color that just would not open.  She tried to open it.  I tried.  My other niece tried.  My grand-niece tried.  My other niece tried again.  I tried again.

Ashie said, "Mom you have to growl. Let me try."  So she takes this bottle of nail polish, growls, and gets it open.

I said, "Yeah, after we loosened it up for you."  She didn't miss a beat. She just said, "Whatever. It's the growl."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Going Home?

My family moved to Sacramento, California, when I was 15 years old.  I finished high school there, I went to college there, I got married there, we had our first baby there.  I lived in Sacto for 7 years, but they were very formative years, and I often tell people I grew up there.

Spencer moved to Sacramento with a high school friend and two former mission companions.  One of them, Dave, was married just three months after we were.  He and his wife moved into the same (very cheap) apartment complex where we were living.  We spent quite a bit of time with them. 

Dave and Susie had been married just over a year when they had their first baby, a girl.  Susie was very protective of her little one, but sometimes she'd let me babysit.  Once Spencer and I took the baby to my parents' home while we were babysitting.  We went to make a "quick" visit to someone, and pretty soon we'd left the baby in my parents' care for two hours.  I felt terrible for taking advantage of them.  I also NEVER told Dave and Susie.  :)

Dave and Susie were both originally from Utah, just as we were.  Short after we moved back to Utah, so did they.  So even though our oldest daughters were both born in the Sacramento area, they've both lived over 20 years in Utah--they are Utah kids.

Dave and Susie's daughter just got a mission call.  She is serving in Sacramento Spanish speaking.  We are thrilled for her!