Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Somebody

This past year, John wrote a play called "Somebody" and he got permission to direct it as one of the student directed one-acts this year.

Josh got a part in it as a blacksmith. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring our good camera to the performance, but Steven recorded it on his phone. Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

John Graduated!


Last September, John and I went to the park for a photo shoot, trying to get a "Senior Picture" for his high school year book. We took several, and got a few that I really liked. I think that was when I first started to realize that John was in his senior year at high school and that he would be graduating soon.


Throughout the school year he has been busy with many activities that have had him spending long hours away from home. He completed two pathways in school - engineering and drama (kind of like having a double major in college.) He auditioned for and sang in All-State Choir. He served on drama council. He performed in the fall play, "The Outsiders", the spring musical, "Curtains", and then wrote and directed a one-act play, "Somebody". He performed with the improv troupe, "Dill's Pickles". He was president of the coding club. He competed in the Congressional App Challenge. And he wore a green shirt and took his ukulele to school with him almost every day.

This past week we have had attended a choir banquet, a drama banquet, and an awards ceremony where he has received many awards, trophies and even a medal. They include:


  • Lifetime Achievement in Props (He served as props manager for 1 1/2 years.)
  • Teacher's Choice award, 12th grade
  • Best supporting character in "The Outsiders"
  • Northglenn High School Drama Letterman of the Year (for 143.25 points, or 1,432 hours spent doing drama over his 4 years in high school)
  • Director's Award
  • Northglenn High School Drama Thespian of the Year (for 83.4 points, or about 834 hours doing drama. I don't know exactly why lettering and the Thespian Society count hours differently.)
  • Drama Council Member
  • International Thespian Society Certificate of Induction
  • Northglenn High School Academic Letter
  • Tech challenge Team Player
  • Certificate of special Congressional Recognition (for the Congressional App Challenge)
  • 2019 Concert Choir Most Valuable Player
  • 2019 Most Dedicated Senior
  • Concert Choir Participation Award
  • DILLY-A! 
  • All State Medal

He also received tassels for the theater stem pathway, the engineering stem pathway,
for being an honor thespian, and for receiving the Principal's Award for maintaining a 3.5 GPA over his four years in high school. Wow!

Finally yesterday was the graduation ceremony at  CU Boulder, marking the end of his high school career. Congratulations John on a job well done!!!






Wednesday, May 1, 2019

What Am I Reading?

Those of you who know me well know that I love to read. I almost always have a book somewhere that I am in the midst of. Reading gives me something to do when I just have a few minutes, or when I have an hour to spend waiting for something. Here is what I have been reading this year:

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. I actually started this series late last year, but considering there are 14 books, each of which is close to 2 inches thick, it took me a while to get through them all, and I didn't finish until March. I find these books absolutely absorbing. There are so many characters, and so many intricate plot lines and so much going on that they are hard to put down, and I feel like I have to read them quickly so I don't forget what is going on with characters who are set on the back burner for sometimes an entire book. I love that I can get sucked into that incredible universe.

Still Life by Louise Penny. I recently became part of a book club. This has encouraged me to read things that I probably wouldn't pick up and read on my own. This one however, I might have picked up if I came across it in a library. Still Life is a murder mystery, and I really enjoyed some of the underlying themes, like the importance of changing and growing, and not stagnating or fixating on the past. Also There is a theme of being an agent for one's self, and taking responsibility for who we are rather than blaming our faults on outside circumstances.

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee. This was another book club book. This book was set in the old west and is about a couple girls who disguise themselves as boys as they are forced to flee from the law. I found the whole story a bit far fetched. I like to read books for the depth of characters, what they are thinking, why they do what they do, and what motivates them. I found this book frustrating in that the characters didn't seem to have much depth, and the climax - where the girls' secret is revealed to their traveling companions - the narrator only gets it second hand. The reader doesn't get facial expressions or reactions, or anything until they've had time to think and adjust. The book leaves a lot unexplained, and I found that very frustrating.

Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey. I love Anne McCaffrey's world of Pern. The way she mixed science in with the fantasy of dragons is fascinating to me. I love how she could intertwine her stories so the reader could get glimpses of the same events from different view points in different books. Her books are some of my favorites. Her son's books, on the other hand, I don't care for so much. I tried this one, and I managed to finish it, but I'm not likely to ever read it again. Anne's books caught people up in the struggle to survive, to learn and grow and discover new things. Todd's books are more wrapped up in justifying a certain lifestyle, delving into and emphasizing aspects of character's lives that I would rather remained in the background. I'll probably stick with rereading Anne's books in the future.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. This was supposed to be a book club book, but then a couple ladies read it ahead of schedule and didn't like it, so they decided to change to another book. I talked to another lady who read it and she did like it, so I thought I would read it just to see. I ended up really enjoying it. It is about a man who lives in a hotel in Moscow under house arrest for thirty two years. You might imagine that with such a limited setting, there wouldn't be lot of adventures, and yet, somehow there are. People come into his life and people leave, but each makes an impression. There are villains and loves. The hero himself changes and evolves as he searches to find purpose and meaning in his life. The historical atmosphere of the 20th century in Moscow and Russia in general is present, but not overly invasive. The hero's great love for his country in spite of their treatment of him and those he cares about comes through to the very end.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christy. Steven has been listening to Agatha Christy books on his commute, and so when I was looking for something to read, this one caught my eye. Agatha Christy's books are always fun with their twisted, surprising endings that I can never quite catch coming.

Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Series. Yes, I realize these books are written for teens. I actually dug them out of one of the boxes of books that Hannah left behind. The reason why? I've read them before, and scenes from them kept coming to mind. It was almost like they were calling to me, or that my subconscious was trying to tell me I needed to read them again. Creepy, huh? Anyway, I read them and thoroughly enjoyed them. Again. No, I'm not on team Edward or team Jacob. I do enjoy the dynamic between the three of them, the way they push and pull against each other. I needed something interesting, fun and light-hearted, and that fit the bill perfectly.

Once Upon a Town by Bob Greene. This is the book club book that A Gentleman in Moscow was traded for. This non-fiction book is about a town in Nebraska that set up a canteen for WWII soldiers who came through town on the train, and kept it up, meeting each train for four years. The author was very impressed by the atmosphere of the town at the time, the service they performed, how appreciated it was by the soldiers, and the book is a collection of stories by people he interviewed about the event interspersed with his impressions on changes that had happened since as he toured the town fifty some years later. Honestly, if I hadn't been listening to the audio book (while I crocheted a cat) I don't know that I would have finished it. The point that the author was trying to make was made in the first chapter or two, and everything after that just seemed a bit redundant.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austin. I love Jane Austin's books. I love how she develops her characters and gives them a deepness that can change, while the fundamental part that makes them who they are remains steady. In one way her books are like fairy tales, where the heroine gets to marry the prince at the end, whether that prince had to change from a beast first, or he was the one she had her eye on from the beginning. I like the contrast of her time period to today: they had their stiff culture and manners and expectations that seem so different from how we live today, and yet the jealousies and pride and selfishness and love - the motivating factors behind why people do what they do are the same emotions that we have today.

Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. I'm in the middle of book two of this three book series. Like the Wheel of Time Series (which Brandon Sanderson helped finish after Robert Jordan's death), the universe it is set in is absorbing. The characters are fairly well developed with their strengths and weaknesses. It is a fun world with a mysterious, but largely unknown villain, while almost everyone of any importance has various "magical" talents. At times I think I know where things are going, and yet there are enough sudden plot twists to keep things interesting. The action is often intense, with more fighting scenes than I would really like, but overall I find these books very enjoyable.

What books are you reading? What would you suggest I read next?

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Lala Too

This has been my latest crocheting project: a life sized copy of Lamoni, (aka Lala).

Monday, April 29, 2019

Come Unto Christ

(A talk I gave in sacrament meeting on 4/28/2019)

In summer of the year 2000, my parents took my younger siblings on a cross country trip to tour church history sights. It was while Steven and I were house sitting for them that our ten-month-old daughter Hannah took her very first unassisted steps into my outstretched arms.

When an infant is born, she is tiny and weak, and can’t move around unless she is carried. After a time, the baby is set down for some “tummy time” and gets a chance to do push ups and strengthen her muscles. Over time she learns to roll over, then to crawl. Before long she is pulling herself up to things and then starts walking along using the edge of the sofa for support. And then comes that exciting moment when she lets go and walks on her own into the arms of her loving parents who have been watching, encouraging, comforting and helping all along the way.

Brothers and sisters, we each are like an infant. In the beginning after our spirits were organized, we were cradled in our Father’s arms, until one day he set us down on this earth for a chance to strengthen our muscles and learn and grow so that one day we can walk back into his outstretched arms.

I come from a large family. I am the second oldest of eleven children. To help take care of so many kids, my parents assigned each of us older children to watch over a younger child, to rescue them from danger, to comfort them when they were hurt or sad, or to help with tasks too challenging for the younger child to do on their own. In a way, we were like a surrogate parent although my parents were always there too watching over everyone.

Our Heavenly Father has also given us an older brother, Jesus Christ, to help watch over us, to rescue us from danger, to comfort us when we are hurt or sad, and to help us with a task too challenging for us to manage on our own – to overcome death and sin and return to our Heavenly Father’s presence. Our goal is to return to our Father’s presence, and the way to do that is by coming to Christ.

The scriptures are full of invitations to come to Christ:

Matt 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

3 Nephi 12:20 Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

How do we come to Christ?

The first step is to learn of him. We need to know who he is and what he wants of us. We need to know what example he set.

In D&C 19:23 the savior invites: Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.

In Mosiah 5:13 King Benjamin asks: For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

Just as blind babies can take longer to learn to walk because they can’t see the example of the people around them, we need our Savior’s examples and teachings to show us how to return to our Father’s presence. We learn of him by studying the scriptures. Last October, President Nelson invited the sisters in the church to read the Book of Mormon between then and the end of the year. He then added, “As you read, I would encourage you to mark each verse that speaks of or refers to the Savior. Then, be intentional about talking of Christ, rejoicing in Christ, and preaching of Christ with your families and friends. You and they will be drawn closer to the Savior through this process. And changes, even miracles, will begin to happen.” (President Nelson, Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel, October 2018) Did we take him up on this invitation? Did we draw closer – take a step closer – to our Savior?

This year we have the opportunity to study the New Testament with Come Follow Me. We are reading and studying about the life of our Savior, about what he did when he was on the earth. We learn about his great love for his Father, in doing his work and his will and always giving him the credit and glory. We also read about the great love Jesus Christ had for his fellow men. He taught them. He healed them. He cared for them. He served them. He wept with them. And even when they put him to death, he forgave them.

Besides Christ’s example, we can also learn about his teachings throughout the scriptures. We can learn about our Father’s plan, about where we came from and where we are going. We can learn what the Father asks of us – about the commandments and covenants that we need to keep.

The next step in coming to Christ is to act on what we have learned. We have to practice, to try to do what the Lord desires of us. A baby will never learn to walk if she never tries.

As Joseph Smith said of the Book of Mormon, “A man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (Book of Mormon Introduction) It isn’t enough just to read the Book of Mormon. We need to abide by its precepts. We need to do as it says.

We need to “bear one another’s burdens that they may be light… mourn with those that mourn… comfort those that stand in need of comfort…” (Mosiah 18:8-9)

We need to “[become] as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict…” (Mosiah 3:19)

In 3 Nephi 11:38 the Savior says, “And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.”

Several chapters later he teaches, “What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” (3 Nephi 27:27) We need to try to follow his example and his teachings. We need to keep his commandments.

The last step, perhaps the hardest one, is to let go of our crutches, our fears, our bad habits, whatever may be holding us back, and step out on our own in faith.

Matt 16:24 The Lord told his disciples “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” He didn’t mean a cross literally, but he meant to take up the burden, to repent, to make the sacrifices necessary to follow him.

You remember the story of the young man who came to Christ asking what he should do that he may have eternal life. And Jesus told him, “if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments”, and he named some of the commandments, and the man said, “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” And Jesus said, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.” (Matt 19:16-21) But the young man went away sorrowful because he wasn’t willing to take that last step. He wasn’t willing to give up the one thing that was holding him back.

There were other people who desired to come to Christ, but who struggled with the courage to take that last step. One said, “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father” Maybe his father opposed him following Christ and he wanted to wait until his father was dead. Another said “Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.” Maybe he wanted to have one last fling with his non-believing friends before he committed to follow Christ. Brothers and sisters, we can’t fully come to Christ if we are always looking behind us with regret about the things we are leaving behind. The Lord’s response to this man was, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) That doesn’t mean that he would never be fit, but just that he wasn’t ready yet.

I’m reminded of Peter, who late one night as he and the other apostles navigated their boat through a contrary wind, saw a figure walking on the choppy water towards.his ship. He and the other apostles were scared and cried out, but then they heard the voice of the master, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” And Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come.” (Matt 14:27-29) And then Peter came down out of the ship. He let go of his security, his safe haven, his comfort zone, and in faith he walked on the water to come to Christ. What incredible bravery! What a tremendous example he set for us!

Now you remember that it was a very windy night. At some point - we don’t know how far he went or how many steps he had taken, he was far enough from the ship that it wasn’t within easy reach and I imagine he had drawn fairly close to the Savior - but at some point Peter lost his focus on Christ. He was distracted by the gusts of wind and he got scared and he began to sink. But even at that moment he cried out, “Lord, save me.” and immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him.

Brothers and sisters, we aren’t expected to be perfect yet. Like a baby, we start by simply pushing up off the floor and rolling. Eventually, we learn to crawl. The Lord knows that we each will develop at our own pace, some slower and some faster. He knows that sometimes we will pull ourselves up only to lose our balance and fall, and he understands that and he is always there to catch us, to help us back up - if we will turn to him, if we will cry as Peter did, “Lord, save me.” He is always encouraging us and beckoning to us, and he has the power to save us.

In the final chapter of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni entreats us, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. (Moroni 10:32-33)

Only our Savior has the power to save us. Through his atonement, our sins can be forgiven and we can become pure and holy so we can return to our Heavenly Father’s presence, to walk back into his outstretched arms. But we need to come to Christ first. He is there; the power of his atonement is real, but we need to learn of him, to follow him, to let go of the things that keep us from him.

I know this is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

School closing, Josh adventures, Back pain relief...

On Wednesday school was cancelled all over the Denver area because there was a credible threat that an 18 year old woman with a fixation on the Columbine shooting would attack a school. Apparently she arrived in Denver and bought a gun and then vanished, so they shut down everything just in case. (They found her body later that day... She committed suicide. More info here.)

John was frustrated that school was cancelled because one acts are coming up (they are this week!) and he needed the rehearsal time. Instead, John took advantage of the free day to go to School of Mines to check out the campus and talk to someone about getting his admission deferred. I got a ride to my book club, and both of us were home again before Josh and Peter rolled out of bed.

Early in the afternoon I took Josh to Children's Hospital to see a cardiologist about his seizures. They did an EKG, but the results were normal. He doesn't have a heart murmur or anything else they could identify. I still think what he had were seizures, but since the EEG and MRI that the neurologist ordered were normal too, no one really knows what is going on.... I guess we just have to wait and see. He hasn't had another one since November so maybe whatever it was is out of his system? Hopefully?

Later that afternoon I took Josh to the park behind the JoAnn so people from the city of Northglenn could show him how to do the work for his eagle project. He'll be laying the pipes and stuff to put a sprinkler system in flower beds at a bunch of different parks, so they showed him the whole process. We left with a bunch of tubing and sprinkler heads in the back of my van.

All day Wednesday I was hobbling around like a ninety year old who had lost her cane. It hurt to stand, or sit, or lie down, or walk, or to move suddenly. Sometimes even shifting my weight slightly would cause an intense sudden pain that would make me gasp. Usually by evening I was feeling slightly better, but still very sore.

On Thursday as I was trying to climb out of bed I heard something pop and for the next hour or so I couldn't put any weight on my right leg. Eventually the pain eased a little, but that evening I sent a text to the Bishop (who happens to be a pathologist and knows stuff about doctoring) and asked if he could tweak my back to make it feel better. (He actually offered to do something last Sunday but I didn't take him up on it at the time.) Steven and I went to his house and Bishop had me lying on their kitchen table and moved my back this way and that and moved my leg this way and that, and told me to take a lot more pain meds than I had been taking... But on the way home from his house, it felt like something relaxed and I was in a lot less pain. Over the next couple days I felt much better. On Friday I was finally able to do the grocery shopping that I had been needing to do. I'm still not 100% back to normal, but I feel a ton better.

Monday, April 15, 2019

A Pain in the }@(&

Last week I spent a couple days helping an older couple in our ward pack up their stuff for their impending move to Wyoming. I was at their home for about four hours on Thursday and another four hours on Friday. Saturday morning I bent over to pick up some cat barf on the floor of our living room, and suddenly my lower back was in pain.

I probably should have rested it more that day. I stretched it. I took a long walk. I participated in a stake service project - assembling meals for Feeding Children Everywhere. But I think I just made it worse.

On Sunday I did a little more resting - outside the five hours I spent at church, but even most of that time was spent sitting. (Church services are only two hours. The other three hours were because I was invited to attend the last 15 minutes of bishopric meeting, so I went to church with Steven (he is the ward clerk) and hung out for the first 45 minutes. Then I had ward council, and then close to an hour between when that meeting let out and Sacrament Meeting began. After Relief Society, a couple older sisters who had noticed my grimace as I stood to conduct the meeting came to me with a plethora of advice about exercises or other treatments that might help.

Now it is Monday, and it is still sore. It hurts to stand up or sit down. I sent Peter off to school on his own this morning rather than walking with him as I usually do. If the ground were level between here and there I might have gone with him, but it is downhill to the school and uphill back home, and my back isn't handling slopes very well.

I'm trying to rotate between standing, sitting and lying down, because if I do any one for too long I seem to stiffen up and it hurts. I put ice on it. I take ibuprofen. I do pelvic tilts and walk around the house. Steven has massaged it. I don't know what else to do besides wait for it to heal. And I'm sure it will heal eventually.

This isn't the first time I strained my back. I've had issues with my back since my late teens. (I think it's hereditary - I remember my dad having issues with his back from time to time.) I actually held them off for a long time when I was doing Pilates regularly, but my schedule changed this school year and I stopped doing the Pilates, so now I'm suffering the consequences. I think once I'm healed completely I'll have to figure out how to work them back into my schedule, because this really isn't fun.