Monday, December 31, 2012

Finding JOY in the Journey

This year my focus has been on finding JOY in the journey of life. This roller coaster ride has been full of ups and downs, joy and sadness, hope and fear... As I reflected on all that I've learned about finding JOY, I re-read an article in the April 2012 Ensign by Elder David A. Bednar. I realized that the most important thing I've learned this year is that the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is what makes it possible to find JOY in life even through the difficult times. It is the Atonement that brings peace and gives us the hope to hang on. It's that hope that helps us to faithfully, and cheerfully, endure to the end, even on those days when we feel like we just can't do it any more.

Elder Bednar reminds us: "The Savior has suffered not just for our iniquities but also for the inequality, the unfairness, the pain, the anguish, and the emotional distresses that so frequently beset us. There is no physical pain, no anguish of soul, no suffering of spirit, no infirmity or weakness that you or I ever experience during our mortal journey that the Savior did not experience first. You and I in a moment of weakness may cry out, 'No one understands. No one knows.' No human being, perhaps, knows. But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach out, touch, succor—literally run to us—and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do through relying upon only our own power."

The Savior has promised us peace as we "come unto him." He literally gives us the strength to bear more than we think possible. And when we are about to give into darkness and despair,  if we will turn towards His light, we will find that peace and yes, even JOY in this journey of life.

the JOY of SNOW

We were blessed with a white Christmas! It's been extremely cold but the kids don't seem to mind as long as there is snow on the ground.

 They practiced their ice skating skills on every patch of ice they could find.

 Zane even found his hat from our adopted grandma from Idaho. We were helping the neighbor unload a trailer of wood on a cool, fall day. Grandma Adkins was worried about Zane's ears getting cold and found this hat in her truck for him to wear. His jeans kept sliding off too so she dug in and found a small piece of rope to use as a belt. She was always there to save the day and knew just how to take care of us.

Funny how things can cause a flashback and a flood of memories...

 The cats have not been too happy with the cold. 

 Morgan discovered she could break the snow into blocks. They used the wagon to haul the blocks up near the house and then spent the afternoon building an igloo. It only reached 19 degrees but there wasn't any wind so that made it a nice day to be outside.

I kept going out to see if they were frozen but they were busy working and didn't want to come inside.

When they did come in, they created their own games to play. We have boxes and boxes of games from the store but they still like to make up their own. This was a car racing game. They also made a "Pin the Nose on the Reindeer" game.

Happy, cold December!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

After church on Sunday I told the kids to hurry because there was a surprise waiting. They of course questioned me the whole way home. I hinted that it might be dinner was ready and waiting. They did NOT think that was a good surprise. We pulled into the drive way and saw Dad's truck so I told them the surprise was that Dad was home early. Better, but still not entirely impressed.

We came inside and Scott told them to stand in front of their bedroom doors. We then counted to three and they opened their doors to find Brittany in one room and Levi in the other. That was a good surprise!

It's been a few years since we were together for Christmas. We made goodies and taught Brit how to roast a turkey. We played games, listened to music, and got really silly. And we ate until our tummies were about to burst. Then we went to bed so we could get up in the morning and do it all again. 

 (Homemade Peppermint Bark Chex Mix)

We spent Christmas Eve watching our favorite Christmas movies and eating all the goodies. It was so wonderful to be together! We dismantled our old VCR player and tried to get it to work. (We still have lots of VHS tapes, including our favorite "Muppet Family Christmas" we desperately wanted to watch.) The player is just wore out!

We were all up at 5:30 this morning so we could open presents before Scott went to work. The paper and bows were flying and the kids were laughing and giggling. We ate cinnamon rolls and had hot chocolate before we loaded Brit and Levi back into their car. I tried to convince them there was too much snow and they would have to stay one more day but they both needed to get back for work. So we sent them off with prayers for safe travels and hearts full of gratitude for a few days together.

Now to clean up the house. Time to get rid of some things and make room for all the new gifts.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Prep for Landing

Christmas day is sneaking up on me! This was the kids final week of school so we've been busy with parties and gifts and treats, oh my! I've made my list and checked it twice.

 Christmas cookies made. Check.

 Gingerbread house made. Check.

 Gifts for teachers and classmates and the bus driver too. Check!

 Packages boxed up...

And ready to send. Check and double check!

And taking time to pause and remember that the Spirit of Christmas is the Spirit of Christ.

"Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus."

Friday, December 14, 2012

The JOY of an Ugly Sweater

Scott sent me a text Monday afternoon stating he needed an "ugly Christmas sweater" by Wednesday morning. I added "Salvation Army" to my list of errands for Tuesday morning and hoped I could find something there that would work.

The men's sweaters were either brown or Huskers red. Too plain. Then I turned to the women's rack and found a soft sweater in shades of burgundy, green, and gold stripes. I wasn't sure if it would be big enough to fit Scott but decided we would make it fit. There weren't any other options.

As I drove home I tried to think of what I could do to make it a little more festive. We had a $50 Cabelas gift card at stake here. A Christmas tree applique might work... Or maybe a reindeer with a big red nose and a string of jingle bells stuck in his antlers... humm... Or a cat. A Christmas cat... One thing was for sure, it had to have bright, gold jingle bells!

Scott came home for lunch to take a look at the sweater. He suggested a horse with a Santa hat. Then one thing led to another (the jingle bells were a must) and when Scott came home from work I was putting the finishing touches on our creation.

Yes. That is a horse pooping jingle bells. What else would a cowboy wear?

So perfectly perfect! In fact, we won first place at the annual Dinklage Feedlot ugly Christmas sweater contest! Woot! I have finally found what I am good at.

Zane was intrigued as he watched me stitch on the horse. When I added the jingle bells he was thrilled and begged me to make him one just like it. Maybe next year my boys will all have matching sweaters.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sick Little Bug

Morgan has been SO excited to change her earrings. She constantly reminded us that on December 8th she would be wearing different earrings and even had them all planned out.

Friday, she came home with a headache and fever. Saturday, the 8th, she laid on the couch all day and barely moved. She was bummed that she didn't get to change her earrings. I told her we would see how she felt in the morning.

I had a meeting before church and planned to take Zane with me but only stay through Sacrament Meeting. When I got out of the shower I heard Morgan coughing. That croupy cough that all my kids get with every cold. She was crying and struggling to breathe. We tried steam and got her to stop crying but she still couldn't breathe. The temp outside was below freezing with 30 mph winds so we tried the cold air. Nothing.

I was contemplating an ER visit and emailed my secretary to let her know I would not be at church. She just happened to have some left over medicine for the nebulizer and quickly brought it over.
She was our angel!

On Tuesday, Morgan still had a fever and we were out of medicine. Thankfully I was able to get her into the doctor that day! After one dose of antibiotics and another breathing treatment she was ready to sit at the table and eat dinner with us. Big change!

Wednesday morning she decided to try school and insisted on wearing new earrings. Finally!

So glad my Morgan Bug is feeling better!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Music JOY

Morgan was sick and missed her school Christmas program. She wanted to to go so she could watch the kids perform but couldn't even sit up for dinner, so we stayed home Monday night.

Zane's program was held during the day and it happened to be Scott's day off. We sat together in the crowded gym and watched as the kindergartners filed in. Zane's face lit up when he saw us. He waved and then took his place on the risers. The principal introduced the music teacher and Zane gave us that look that seemed to say, "Watch this!"

The kids did a great job! Zane bopped his head to the music and knew all of the words and hand motions to the songs. They sang some fun songs about Santa and toys but they also sang "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger" in loud clear voices. I choked back tears as I heard their sweet voices sing about the birth of our Savior. And when the principal said, "God bless you" at the end of the program I was wiping my eyes. 

(One of the songs.)

I am so thankful to live in a place where they are not afraid to talk about God at school. I am so thankful to be able to go to a "Christmas" program at the elementary school. 

"God bless us, every one!"

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Photo Shoot

We played with the camera in front of the tree . . .

"HO! HO! HO!"

And then decided to try a family picture . . .


 How we felt after a few attempts! The lighting in our old house is HORRIBLE so it took some playing with the camera to get something decent.

 Merry Christmas from the Landers Family!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Experience Africa

The fourth graders spent the week learning about life in Africa. A man who is originally from Kenya, travels around the state and teaches children about his culture. Morgan was fascinated with the differences and suddenly thankful for her easy life here.

They learned African drumming and dance as part of the activities and then put on a show for their parents. Morgan practiced at home every night. (She has no rhythm but tried so hard.) She actually did fantastic in the performance!

 Getting ready to dance.

 Getting ready to drum. Morgan is in purple, sitting at the drum.

Each set of drums has their own rhythm so there were five groups each doing their own drumming. All together they sounded really good.

The Dance:

The Drums:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Deck the Halls with JOY

I tried something different this year when it came time to decorate the Christmas tree. I pulled out the ornaments I wanted on the tree and then walked away. Yep. I let the kids put them on all by themselves instead of dictating where and how. I even left it the way they had it, for a few days.

Then today, I was standing in front of the tree with a handful of candy canes when the bus dropped the kids off, early. Caught! Zane quickly asked what I was doing and pointed out that a few of the ornaments were not where he had put them. I explained that I was just spreading them out a bit and moving a few to the top where they couldn't reach. He was satisfied with my answer and ran off to find some food. Morgan didn't seem to really notice. Phew!

The kids have been learning songs at school for their Christmas programs. Morgan was singing "Deck the Halls" one night and then Zane started singing "Check the halls with lots of jolly!" So, our halls have officially been checked with jolly.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


What a busy month this has been. We've had lots of service opportunities with the ladies from church that have kept me busy. I love it! It's such a great feeling when someone offers sincere thanks for helping to lighten their load.

Feeling the JOY of service helped to lessen the saddness of not being with family on Thanksgiving. Traveling across Wyoming in the winter is just too dangerous. (Sometimes it snows on Elk Mountain in June.) Since getting to Oregon requires traveling over several mountain passes there was no way to make it happen. 

We were prepared to stay at home and sulk over our loneliness but good friends here would not allow it.  We ended up with several offers for Thanksgiving dinner. Scott had to work that morning, of course. But we joined friends that afternoon for a late lunch / early dinner. It was fabulous! They have kids the same age as ours and they all played so well together. (We had only one minor head injury when the kids were playing hide-and-seek in the dark.) Good food and good fun!

We finished the evening with a Skype video conference with the family in Oregon and Brittany in Idaho. Wow! Modern technology is awesome! It was fun seeing all my nieces and nephews being silly in front of the camera. Wish we could have been there!

 We did our traditional "Attitude of Gratitude" family home evening this month. The kids helped me create a thankful tree. I should have punched out more leaves because they kept thinking of more and more and MORE things they were thankful for.

We are so blessed!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

SMILE... It's Your Birthday!

It seems like I was just posting a Happy Birthday post about my favorite Brittany and here she is having another birthday. We've had 21 wonderful years together! She grows more beautiful, inside and out, with each passing year.

So many of my smiles begin with you!

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

God Bless America!

The TV channels have been full of political ads and the kids have been learning about politics in school. That's just the way it is when it's an election year. I was amazed that even my children could tell the difference between the two main candidates. When certain ads would be on, Zane would turn to me and say, "He's really a bad guy." 

Zane's class got to "vote" yesterday and he said he voted for Romney. I asked him why and he said it was because Romney likes cold cereal and riding horses just like he does. Sweet innocence! Then I asked Morgan who she would vote for and she said Romney as well. I asked her why and she announced, without hesitation, "because he knows how to pray to God for help and he knows how to go to the temple too." So wise!

The kids struggled to go to bed last night because the race was so close and they desperately wanted to know the winner. Zane was up early this morning asking me who won. When I told him he growled in anger and stomped off to tell Morgan. She too was angry. And then we all cried.

The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was open my scriptures. They fell open to 3 Nephi chapter one and my heart was filled with peace as I read, "Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold the time is at hand..." 

I grabbed my scriptures and shared this with my children. We talked about how we know that God's "team" will win and we just need to make sure we are on that team. Even though our guy didn't win the election, we can know we did right because we voted for him. Even though our leaders don't always make the best decisions, we can stand up for what is right no matter what. I told them to always be willing to fight for what is right and never give in, even if it may seem like the bad guys are winning. The Lord will protect and bless those who follow Him.

We then had 15 minutes to eat, brush teeth, put shoes on, feed the cats, and get on the bus. And we made it!

I heard a reporter say that the Republican Party messed up big and picked the wrong guy to run. Really? I wanted to tell the reporter to read Mosiah 29:27.

God Bless America!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spooks & Jack-O-Lanterns


Our ward Halloween party was the week before Halloween this year. It made it feel like we were celebrating for an entire week.

The kids dressed up as Kitty Soft Paws (from Puss in Boots) and Batman. They played games and won prizes. And they ate lots of goodies! A blizzard hit just as it was time for Trunk-or-Treat so the kids walked down the hall collecting their treats. Morgan even won a prize in the costume contest.

On Monday, we carved a big pumpkin that we brought home from Utah. The kids loved helping to clean out the pumpkin guts but decided to draw faces on their little ones.


It looked so SPOOKY with a candle inside!

 Then tonight, we dressed the kids up again and went to a few houses in town. Both kids wanted to go visit their teachers for special treats. 

Morgan was a little bummed because most people thought she was Cat Woman. Zane said next year he will be Puss in Boots so everyone will know who she is. What a good brother!

Sorting out all the treats!
Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Families Can Be Together Forever!

We have been planning this day for a long time... hoping... waiting... praying for the right moment. This weekend it all came together, after some opposition and trials that made us wonder if we would make it. That just means it was the RIGHT thing to do.

Brittany was sealed to our family for time and all eternity! Our sealer told us that even though it may seem like we waited a very long time for this it was but a small moment in the grand scheme of eternity. So true! He also said Morgan and Zane probably wouldn't completely understand because they are so young. But I could see pure JOY radiating in their faces. Then when we returned to Brit's apartment, Zane gave her a huge hug and said, "I'm so glad you are part of our forever family!" They understand more than we think they do.

© 2002, Rick Satterfield

We are grateful to our friends and family who were able to come and share this special day with us!

Our drive to Utah was a little scary... and took almost 12 hours. We had a little snow and fog to deal with but it could have been so much worse. There was a major pile up on the eastbound lanes which closed the freeway from Rawlins to Laramie. So glad we weren't going that direction.

 Our living room window. It always snows sideways in Nebraska.

 This was at home a few days before we left. BRRRRR!
The drive was worth it though.