Monday, December 27, 2010

Charles DeLee Pennington

Hurricane, Utah - Charles DeLee Pennington, 73, laid down his earthly body on Christmas Eve December 24, 2010 in St. George, Utah. Blue eyed baby Charles was born on November 27, 1937 to Mabel Florence Lindsey and Hugh Smith Pennington in Henderson, Texas. Charles was the first-born and older brother to 4 younger siblings. In 1963, Charles married Mary Jo Fawcett in the Los Angeles LDS Temple for time and all eternity and together they shared 46 years and 4 adoring children. Charles grew up in the oil fields of East Texas and shared many wonderful memories with his exceptional family. He attended school at Texas A&M and joined the ROTC program, foreshadowing his Air Force career. After graduating from BYU, the Air Force took him to many places including California, Utah and ultimately Vietnam. Charles heroically flew 365 combat missions earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and 2 Oak Leaf Clusters. After the war he owned his own business, Home Security Shop and later enjoyed working for and retiring from General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin. He has always been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He honorably served a 2 year mission to Northern California and held many callings throughout the years that brought him much joy. Charles’s life was one of service. His humble nature and love of all those around him blessed all that knew him. His talents were many and he selflessly shared himself unceasingly. You could always count on him for a joke or a listening ear, a bowl of homemade ice cream or help doing a home improvement project. The love he had for his family was immeasurable and the happiness they shared everlasting. His presence will be deeply and severely missed.

Charles leaves behind his wife, Mary Jo Fawcett Pennington and a posterity that includes four children and 14 grandchildren: daughter, Sheri Moore of LaVerkin, Utah and her children, Brandon, Justin (currently serving a mission in Nicaragua) and Brooklyn; daughter, Lori (Mark) Holyoak of Lolo, Montana and their children, Aubrey (Kenny Johnson), Lacey, Jace and Hallie; son, Jonathan (Lisa) of Cordova, Tennessee and their children, Nathan, Samantha and Jake; daughter, Ginger Wilcox of Cedar City, Utah and her children, Bailey, Dawson, Weston and Laynie. Also, missing him terribly are his 4 siblings: R.B. (Lena) Pennington of Aubrey, Texas, Louise (Lloyd) Freeman of Raleigh, North Carolina, Elaine (Jimmy Dan) Gauntt of Austin, Texas and Judy Rehkop of Tyler, Texas. He is once again reunited with his parents and grandparents, along with many friends and family that have gone on before him and what a wonderful reunion it was sure to be! Funeral services will be held Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. at the Hurricane LDS Stake Center, 272 South 700 West, Hurricane, Utah. Visitations will be held Tuesday, December 28th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Metcalf Hurricane Valley Mortuary, 140 North Main Street and on Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Stake Center, prior to services. Charles will then be laid to rest with full military honors at the Hurricane City Cemetery directly following the funeral service. Arrangements entrusted to the care of Metcalf Hurricane Valley Mortuary, (435) 635-9922.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Dad - The Greatest Man I Ever Knew

Some people, in life, get lucky. I know I am one of them. I was born to an amazing man. My father, Charles DeLee Pennington, left this mortal existence to journey onward to paradise on Christmas Eve day, 2010.

My father has always been strong and healthy. Four years ago he was diagnosed with fibrosis of the lungs. Some allergen had entered his lungs and laid dormant. One day it decided to make itself known and since then he has carried around an oxygen tank for this same amount of time. It has always been a hassle to him, dragging the tanks, packing enough in the car to last for his frequent day trips, wearing the cannula in his nose. But he did it and without much complaint.

At Thanksgiving time he began to cough and he never quite recovered. He was taken to the emergency room on December 12 and was admitted that same day. He was quite the character. Always telling the nurses jokes, entertaining his many visitors, or telling us how much he enjoyed having his family around him. We never left him alone for even one minute. One of us kids was always spending the night with him and making sure all was well.

He could not believe that they served three full meals a day in the hospital. He was not use to eating so much food so he asked for smaller portions. He began to get hungry in between time and asked the nurse for extra food from the cafeteria. One night he asked the nurse for a grilled cheese sandwich...and said, "And not a wimpy one..." The nurse delivered a thick sandwich, chips, Dr. Pepper, fruit cup and pudding. My dad exclaimed, "I bet the people in the cafeteria said..That guy in room 303 is a pig, load him up!" Later that same night he was watching an infomercial on an excercise glider. He said, "I don't think now is the time for me to begin an exercise program." I laughed so hard I cried.

A miracle happened on Monday. Justin is serving his mission in Nicaragua. He and his papa have a very special relationship. I knew it would be very painful for him to lose his papa while he was gone. On Monday as he was emailing for his p-day, I caught him online. I quickly emailed him telling him of his papa's condition. Although I did not believe my dad would pass as quickly as he did, I thought it important that Justin get to converse with him. Justin arranged to go to his Stake President's home and skype with my dad. They were able to talk face to face - computer to computer - for quite awhile. I know that this was a tender mercy.

My dad was in a very unique position. He had only one thing wrong with him...his lungs. He could sit in the bed, talk, joke, eat and watch movies. But he could not breathe. If he tried to use the bedside commode, only 3 steps away, he was gasping for air and it would take 4 nurses and 30 mintues plus medication to get him settled down and breathing regularly. It was scary to watch. Eighteen litres of oxygen were being pumped into his lungs each minute. The hospital considers 4 litres high.

He had decided that he would go home on hospice. But the day held many obstacles and his transport home was postponed. That night the electricity at his house went off because of terrible rain and flooding. Had he been at home, it could have been a life threatening situation because his oxygen was connected electrically. We as his family would have been frantically trying to keep him alive without help from medical personnel. At this time we did not know how close he already was to death. The following day it was evident that transporting him would cause too much trauma to his body and it was determined he would finish his mortal journey in the hospital.

Because of his situation he could choose when he wanted to end his life. His lungs would never recover, he would never be able to leave his bed, he was losing his appetite, his heart had already begun to enlarge because of all the extra work it was doing, his veins were constricting. The writing was on the wall. My dad had jokingly said, "I think January 3rd would be a good day...and it would help with our taxes."

But for some reason that day changed. I spent the last night with my father. On the morning of December 23rd I woke up and saw him looking at me from across the room. He said, "Sheri, today is the day. Let's plan the funeral and then you can call your mother and sisters to come over so we can finalize everything." He said nothing extreme visions, he had been feeling an occassional tapping on the shoulder from some invisible source...but he just knew it was time to go. He asked me to dial each of his siblings, my brother who had barely left to fly back to his home in Memphis, the bishop of his ward. He wanted to talk to each of them. He began by saying, "It is time to lay my life down"...but by the final phone call he was saying, "I'm going to buy the farm."

I had spent much time alone with my dad, we all had. I had my chance to say goodbye. I had my time to love on him, reminisce with him, tell him how perfect he was as my father. It was a magical time. When he lay in his hospital bed, I crawled in right next to him. I wanted to lay my head on his shoulder. I wanted to be his little girl all over again.

As the time drew near he began to talk about what he wished for when he got to heaven. My dad loves, loves, loves banana pudding. He said he hoped they would have banana pudding and watermelon on the buffet in heaven. I had thought all week about making him some, but I wanted to be with him every spare moment I had. I mentioned to the CNA Sheila, that I wish he had some banana pudding. In Dixie Regional Medical Center...ask and you shall receive. Sheila arrived with two pieces of banana cream pie. I fed him the pie, minus the crust, and he got the banana pudding he had been longing for. Thank you Sheila for being sensitive to my father's wishes. Each of the nurses and CNAs there were so kind and attentive. My father continually commented on how well he was taken care of. He had not one complaint...but then again, he never did. My dad was a ray of sunshine always.

We began to make the preparations for the time to begin his journey home. His little sister was arriving from Texas at 1:15 am on December 24th. He wanted time to visit with her. He continued to look at the clock. He continued to say he was ready. The whole day he had a peaceful look on his face. A goofy grin at times. His vitals were better than ever before as he had no longer had the anxiety from trying to breathe, but had relinquished himself to entering the next world. When the nurse would come in he would say, "I am going paradise."

The nurses were so wonderful at the hospital. One nurse in particular, Jarvis, had spent time watching "Pure Country" with my dad and talking about old westerns. His shift ended at 6pm on Dec. 23, but he came in and spent 45 minutes with my dad, talking to him, letting him know what to expect, answering his questions and wishing him joy in his journey. He thanked him for being the ideal patient. He said, "It has been my pleasure to serve you." My dad left everyone feeling better. Then Jarvis turned to me and said, "Your family has never left your father alone. That is unusual. I know you have great love for your dad and I know that is because he had great love for you." It is true.

My sister purchased recordable story books for each of us. It was touching, yet comical, as we all stood around my father's bed, book in hand, recording as he read each page. What a treasure to share with the generations to follow. I was so proud of my dad, he spoke loud and clear and read without error. Even in his worst of times, he knew he was leaving something of great value for his posterity. Now each Christmas Eve, as we celebrate the Savior's birth, we can also remember my father's death and cherish his voice as he reads The First Christmas story.

At 2:00 am we all stood around his bed as he received a blessing. We hugged him and said our final goodbyes. We knew that once the process had begun he would fall into a deep sleep and he would not be able to communicate with us anymore. His final words as the drip began were, "I've never had trouble falling asleep." At 2:30 am on December 24th the iv drip of morphine and the Adavan was given to him. He quickly fell asleep and for the next 9 hours we kept vigil at his bedside. It is traumatic to watch a person die. The body reacts in ways that I was unprepared to watch. What was suppose to be a quick process lasted for what seemed forever. We were told that his heart was so strong it just wouldn't stop beating. As time went on, the oxygen was decreased until he was left with none. Some might think this sounds inhumane. But the oxygen was life support for him. It was the only way he could live...but shortly his body would need more than a machine could provide and he would have suffocated to death. This was his only choice that would not bring gasping for air and fear.

As his body continued to hold on, we played his favorite hymns, we prayed for him, we told him it was okay for him to go. We knew his mother who had died this past August was waiting for him as well as his father. He was excited to see his Grandpa Lee Lindsey and had regularly spoke of him. Different people who had visited him asked him to hug their loved ones. It was surreal to be a part of this process. We watched as his breathing slowed and the pulse in his neck finally stopped. We called to the nurse and she came in, put the stethoscope on this ever loving chest and said in a soft and caring tone, "He is gone." I then said, "Good job Daddy. Good job living and good job dying. You did it." He made a very brave decision and followed through with it. We then had to wait for the doctor to pronounce the same, "I am sorry. He has passed." And then we waited for the mortuary to come and take his body away.

As I left for home, my brain could not think, my legs could not hold my body. I wanted to shout to the world, "Do you know what just happened? Do you know that the greatest man in the world just died?" But I didn't. Even though I held the words in, the sobs could not be contained. I will miss my daddy. I am 45 years old and I realize I may live as long without my daddy as I lived with him. A little girl's daddy should never have to leave her.

The whole day prior to his passing, he wore this incredible goofy grin. He knew that although he was leaving his family behind, there was much work for him to do on the other side. He had faith that his testimony of eternal families was real. He knew that although we would miss each other terribly we would one day be together again.

I love you daddy...and I miss you terribly.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Rollercoaster Month

It all began on October 7th. I received a surprise phone call from my son, Elder Brandon Moore. It was a surprise since he is only suppose to call home on Mother's Day and Christmas while serving his mission. As it turns out, he had a physical problem and was letting me know he would probably returning home sooner than his December 2010 release date. The following evening, the mission president's wife called to tell me basically the same thing. I spent the weekend wondering what exactly would be the consensus as to when he would fly back to Utah. Monday afternoon the mission president called to let me know I could pick my son up the next evening at the Salt Lake airport.I flew into action.

First of all, I was sure the mission president didn't know that I had moved to Southern Utah. I had to prepare to make the trip up there, see if I could arrange for him to have his homecoming the following Sunday in our old ward, and figure out how to get Brooklyn out of school on finals week without it hurting her grades too much. Also, I did not have Brandon's room prepared for him. Oh well, some things would have to wait.

That Tuesday we headed up to Salt Lake. I don't know who was more nervous, me or his girlfriend Amber who had been waiting for him for two years. We were lucky enough to have two of our friends who have airline ties sneak up to the gate and give us a play-by-play as he walked out of the gate and began his trek to baggage claim. I must admit, as I saw him coming down the escalator, I was shreiking with joy, jumping up and down clapping and excited that I could finally hug and kiss my baby boy. It was a wonderful moment.

After leaving the airport we headed to the Stake President's office to have him released. President Dibble did the honors. It was heartbreaking watching Elder Moore remove his missionary tag...the same one I had placed on him 22 months earlier at the mtc.

We followed up that meeting with a family dinner at Chili's. It was impossible for me to keep my eyes off of him. I loved watching him interact with Amber, I loved listening to his voice. I loved just having him back in my world.

We stayed the next 6 days at Brett, Cheryl and Brynlee Bishop's home They were so kind to us. They decorated the yard with posters and balloons, left notes and candy on our pillows, and encouraged us to have an Open House after his Homecoming talk.

That Sunday he gave a wonderful homecoming talk, testifying of Jesus Christ. He taught so many things I had never thought about before. It is a marvelous experience to be taught the gospel by your children.

We returned to La Verkin. I was anxious and excited to show Brandon the new home I had purchased and remodeled. I hoped he would like it, and even though he would only be staying temporarily, that he could feel like it was home to him.

We spent the next week fighting to get his medical records faxed from Nebraska to the surgeon here. We didn't want him to have to go through the same testing he had already had done there. They finally arrived and his surgery was scheduled for October 27.

Because Brandon had a few days before the surgery he asked to borrow my car and head up to Logan to spend a few days with Amber. I was carless for about 4 days, but since I am a homebody, and the grocery store and church are within walking distance, I knew I would survive. I spent my homebound weekend studying for my BYU Humanities final...which I passed, barely :)

Brandon arrived back in time to celebrate his birthday on October 26th. He is now 21. Ginger and her kiddos and Grandma and Papa joined us for the cupcake festivities. It was low key, but right up our alley considering we didn't have much time to prepare and Brandon wasn't feeling all that great. He had lost 20 lbs. in the previous 6 weeks due to his illness, so he didn't have that much of an appetite.

The next day we headed out to Dixie Regional Medical Center for the surgery. The actual surgery only lasted 1 hour, but the before and after lasted a total of six. We returned home to begin the recovery.

For the last week Brandon has gained 7 lbs., moved around a wee bit, but mostly just camped out on the couch. He sleeps there, he watches tv there, he texts there, he plays on the computer there, he takes pictures from there. It is really quite comical although it is also quite necessary. His recovery is a 4 week recovery. He is hoping he can return to Salt Lake at the end of the month to begin working and spending more time with Amber.

It has been a whirlwind of activity, but I have treasured it. There is nothing like having your son gone for two years and then having him in your presence and all to your self 24/7 for 4 weeks. Blessings can always be found if we take the time to look for them.

Monday, October 4, 2010

September 18, 2010 - Homecoming Dance

Brooklyn had her first activity. There was a group of deaf kids from Southern Utah that were set up on dates with hearing kids from around the valley. Brooklyn's date, Tanner Van Komen, is a senior and actually goes to the Tuacahn School of Performing Arts. Even though Brooklyn goes to Hurricane High School, these kids were all invited to attend the Dixie High School homecoming dance.

We had a lot of fun shopping for her dress. She made the comment before we went shopping, "I am a tomboy; I don't like to wear dresses." I informed her that she couldn't wear a basketball jersey to the dance! She actually began to enjoy looking for her girly attire and completed her outfit with a pair of shoes that had a bow on them....she thought they were "soooo cute".

Aunt Ginger was nice enough to come down and do her hair and makeup. She looked beautiful and I think she felt that way too.

The evening began by the kids (and the chaperone, her Teacher for the Deaf, Adam Billings) coming to pick her up at our home at 5:30. We took the obligatory couple pictures here and then they were off.

They went for dinner at the Sky Mountain Golf Resort. Brooklyn, who normally doesn't like "Sunday" food, said the roast beef was the best she had ever had. They had extra time for pictures and to drive a few golf balls.

They then headed over to the dance. They spent time dancing with their dates, with their friends' dates, and with each other.

She arrived home at about 11:30 pm and I, of course, was waiting up for her. I couldn't wait for her to sit down and tell me all about her evening. She said she was too tired and just wanted to get a bath and go to bed. No, no, no, no, no! I would let her do no such thing! She then spent the next half hour recounting the great time she had. Yay, first date down and first date a success!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Shhhh! I have a secret....

You know how sometimes you just want to keep things to yourself until you are ready to reveal them. That is how I felt about my house. When I bought this house, a few friends and relatives came through saying, "That place is a dump!" Well, my only criteria when talking with my realtor was this: Find me the ugliest house for the best price. And he did!

One thing I know about myself is that I can see potential. I can see the diamond in the rough. I love to uncover the scum and see the true beauty that lies within. That is what I look for in a house.

This house had been abandoned for almost 2 years, it was a foreclosure, and it was a dump. There were no mice ( I hate mice!), but spiders and cockroaches...both dead and alive...had taken up residence here. There was a lot of work to be done. But I knew I wanted to be the one to love this house back to life.

Thank goodness I know a guy who can read my mind, has skills to perfection, and was willing to live here for 7 weeks (before I moved down) to get it all ready for me. He worked his magic and his touch covered every inch of this house. He took the bones and made them beautiful. I was the decorator...the one who put the jewelry on. the two of us together made this house a reality. And now it is ready to present to the world ;)

Although there are still a few things left to a bedroom to be decluttered, a backyard to be completed, and a bathroom to be updated...for the most part it is beautiful.

To see the transformation...feel free to take a peek at my other blog: Throughout the week I will be posting pictures.

My home is in La Verkin, Utah. Right outside of Zion's National Park and about 20 minutes north of St. George. I would love for you to come visit. Nothing makes a home like love, smiles and laughter. Come on down, up or over...and enjoy my new place. I would love to have you!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Full Plate

Something about too many things happening at once, puts me in survival mode.

On July 25, my son Justin, had his missionary farewell and going away party. After feeding and entertaining about 100 guests, the mad rush began to have him all packed for Nicaragua, and the rest of us all packed for our new home La Verkin, Utah. My goal was to drop Elder Moore off at the Missionary Training Center, and keep driving South. I did not want to return to the house I had called home for the past 17 years. I was ready for my new start.

Brooklyn and I arrived in La Verkin on the evening of Wednesday, July 28. We had a couple of days to just rest while waiting for our trailers to arrive on Saturday. How one person can have so much junk remains a mystery to me. I will forever be grateful to my boss and his wife, Mike and Heather Fronk, for driving 3 huge truckloads of important and not-so-important crap to my house down here. They blessed my life incredibly by their willingness to help me with this monumental task. To add to their generousity, when I told Mike I was moving, he asked me to work remotely from home. I couldn't be more blessed in that area of my life.

The trailers (a big one and a small one) arrived on Saturday and the unload began. Many people contributed to getting my stuff down here as well as getting it out of the trailers. I am thankful for the service they provided. I believed that when I finally got here things would settle down for me and I might be able to find the peace I have been seeking the last six years.

On Sunday, I received the phone call that my Granny, Mabel Florence Lindsay Pennington, had finally entered the next life after several months of illness. She was 95 years old. The funeral was planned for the following Saturday. We made preparations for the 25 hour drive to Tyler, Texas. My parent's expedition was loaded with luggage as well as 8 people...Papa, Grandma, me, Brooklyn, Ginger, Bailey, Laynie and Lori. We had four people who could drive. We made the drive straight through taking turns at the wheel. When people weren't driving they were sleeping.

What a beautiful weekend it was as the descendants of my Granny gathered to pay tribute to her life. All 28 of her grandchildren were there...travelling from California, Utah, Arizona, North Carolina and other places. It was the first time I had felt whole in a long time. Many of her great-grandchildren were there as well as her great-great-grandchildren. After the funeral in Tyler and the burial next to my Papa, Hugh Smith Pennington, in Longview, we travelled back to Tyler for the luncheon. It was a beautiful time. Family pictures were taken. One was taken of the cousins with all 28 of us lined up from oldest to youngest. I am the fifth oldest.

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel where we all were staying. We had fun getting reaquainted, swimming and sharing stories. The men cousins decided we should all meet out at my cousin Byron's barn for a party that night. So off we went to another amazing event. My aunts and uncles barbequed sausages, made homemade peach ice cream, and just loved us. There was so much happiness and love that was felt this weekend. I cannot imagine Granny could have been any happier.

My granny left a wonderful legacy. She was honored in the newspaper the following day as a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who was instrumental to helping the church grow in East Texas. I am proud to be called her grandaughter.

So many wonderful things. But even wonderful things can be stressful. I have a trick to survive mortality. Tunnel vision. I only take one step at a time, looking to the next thing to be accomplished. If I look anywhere else, I become so overwhelmed and feel as if I will crush under all the responsibilities. Life is hard, but life is also meant to be lived. I for one am living life...hook, line and sinker...even though it is not my choice !

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Very BIG Day....

July 28...was a very big day. Elder Justin Lee Moore entered the Missionary Training Center to begin his two year service in the Nicaragua Managua North Mission. Wow! That pretty much sums it up.

I had a blessing on Tuesday. I needed one. Mixed in with this was that after I dropped him off I would be moving to our new home in La Verkin, Utah. I wished I could have spent more time focusing on him. There were so many distractions, packing up, cleaning, etc. I am so grateful for the friends who came to help me. I honestly couldn't have done it without them. I did leave a few loose ends, and I feel bad about that. But I just needed to move forward.

Justin said he wasn't scared or nervous, but simply excited as he would finally get to do what he had been preparing for for the last 19 years. Having two full-time missionaries creates some bewildering feelings. I am okay though because some of my very best friends have also had two missionaries out at once. There is one thing you can count on in this life: Whatever situations come your way, someone else has already been there.

Back when Brandon left on his mission, the family entered the mtc, watched a movie together, sang and prayed. Then the missionary went out one door, while the family went out another door. But my favorite part about the old way was that upon entering the mtc, I was able to put Brandon's missionary tag on him. Now, you just drop your missionary at the curb, give a quick hug, and drive away. No pinning on of the missionary tag. For some reason, this part bothered me, and I mentioned it to Brandon.

On July 19, I had my birthday. I received a gift from Elder Brandon Moore. Inside the padded envelope, was that very same missionary tag I had pinned on him almost twenty months before. It said, "Elder Moore" and underneath had the name of the church in Spanish. It was exactly the same as the tag Elder Justin Moore would be receiving. Brandon said I could put it on Justin, take some pictures, but then he asked me to send it back to him, because it was his most special tag. What a thoughtful and meaningful thing for him to think of. That made the day even better.

After packing til 1 am, picking up a few forgotten things the next morning, making sure I was on all Justin's bank accounts, etc. we were off. We ate lunch at Goodwood and then drove to the Provo Temple. We took some last minute pictures, gave some lengthy hugs, said our I Love Yous....and then hopped back in the car to follow the protocol the church set up to drop off the missionaries.

We entered the Missionary Training Center driveway and were waved on to a "number on a stick". All along the drive there were missionaries waving and smiling on the curb with tags on that said, "Host." I decided maybe Disneyland isn't the happiest place on earth after all. We stopped at our post, five elders greeted us, we gave the last hug, took a picture, and then sent Elder Moore off with another elder and his luggage following closely behind. Only three questions were asked of him: Do you have any car keys? Do you have a cell phone? Do you have your immunization record?

As we drove away, I was pretty numb. Two of my boys are gone. It is now just me and Brooklyn. Two years seems like forever from the beginning, but at the end seems only like a blink of an eye. I can't wait for Dec. 10 of this year to get one of my sons back...and July 28 of 2012 to get the another one. But for now I take comfort that their testimonies are being strengthened and that they are in the service of our Lord. May God bless all of us.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mother's Day

I have to admit that I love Mother's Day. I have no expectations and I am never disappointed. I am always happy to wake up just knowing that I was blessed to be a mother.

The day started perfectly as Brooklyn, Kelli - our wonderful interpreter, Brooklyn's dad Marshall and I walked over to Spence and Sandy Lloyd's home. They are long time friends. Spence, on this morning, is known as Patriarch Lloyd. Brooklyn received her patriarchal blessing. It was beautiful and the best way to begin the day.

We then attended church. After church, Jaime received the office of Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood. I have enjoyed watching him learn and grow in the gospel. This was a big step for him and one that he did not want to take until he felt prepared to accept the responsibilites of this priesthood.

We returned home to a wonderful meal and awaited the phone call from Elder Brandon Moore. His girlfriend Amber was here. When the phone rang we all jumped. I grabbed the phone and handed it to Amber to answer. I gave her first dibbs at talking to "her missionary." After her time was up, I spent three hours listening, laughing, counseling, and sharing. It was a delight to hear Elder Moore's voice. The next time I talk to him will be face to face! The time is flying by.

As I fell into bed, I couldn't help but smile...for I am truly blessed this day. I will forever be grateful for my 3 beautiful children who are always so good to me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The White Envelope - April 28, 2010

You know how it goes when you are waiting for your son's mission keep checking and checking and checking the mailbox...only to see this:

The mail usually is here by 3:00...but it is 5:00 and still no sign of the mailman. About 5:45, I hear it...the soft hum of the little white truck. It is here !!!!

Justin didn't get home from work until 9:00 p.m., so we invited all his friends to come at 9:30. It was a packed house! The suspense was thick as people were guessing where he would go. As for me, I don't like to play that is what it is :) Justin only had one desire...he wanted to go someplace really, really poor. He began to read:

Dear Elder Moore:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Nicaragua Managua North Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 24 months.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, July 28, 2010. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish Language.

The crowd roared. And the boy has looked like this ever since!

Congratulations Elder Moore! You will make a great missionary :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Dreaded Organ

So about six months ago I was called into the Bishop's office. I was released from my calling as Laurel advisor and asked to be the Ward Organist. Interesting enough, I don't play the organ. The Bishop explained that the new organ we had was actually an automatic organ. He said his 3 year old could do it. Well, if a 3 year old can do it, than most certainly I can! Of course, he said with a smile, "You will actually be more of an organ operator." So I accepted, but I was still hesitant.

I had a quick organ lesson by the stake organist...who by the way showed me the organ shoes I could purchase if I really got into it! I most assuredly told him that I was just an "organ operator" and wouldn't be purchasing the shoes. Being an organ operator involves dialing up the hymn on the computer and pushing a series of buttons to start the intro and to start each verse.

The first Sacrament meeting I played, there was a glitch. The organ stopped playing on the second verse. It started again on the 3rd and then stopped again on the fourth verse. Because I do play the piano, I quickly started playing, but since I don't play the organ, the pedals were not involved and it sounded like a very half ditch effort at best.

A few weeks went by where everything went well, but you can never trust an organ too long. Once again, it betrayed me. The hymns are dialed up by a computer. When I went to dial up the hymn, it was all in Spanish. I quickly shut the organ down, while the congregation...and me...waited for it to reboot. When it finally did, it began playing "Joy to the World" February no less. The organ was redialed and began playing the hymn. It played the introduction and then continued on to the verse....only it wasn't the was the introduction again. AAAAGGGGHHHH! The substitute chorister stopped the singing and said, "Let's start over." And so we did.

Well, along comes April. Things seem to be going well. Until today. Every song the organ belted out was off tempo. My poor sister Ginger is the chorister. She is just waving her arm to the music. Three quarter notes are held for one count notes are held for three counts. It was a disaster.

The one thing I can say is that I make sure that everyone knows I am not an organist and I am not the one screwing up. It is that blasted organ. During the prelude, I will start the organ and then go get a drink of water. Or during the hymn I will itch my nose or turn the pages of the hymn book to the next hymn. Anything so the congregation knows I am not responsible!

Sometimes people say they move to get out of callings. I am not moving to get out of this calling...but it is definitely one of the benefits of moving :) I can say that I don't get flustered when this happens because the last five years of my life have made me no stranger to embarrassment. I am now so use to embarrassment that I just take it all in stride. It is just one more story I will have to tell in the coming years. But I will say, with my whole heart, that I will celebrate next week when I play that *#%@ organ for the very last time. Sorry people in the ward...the entertainment will be over!!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Young Women's General Broadcast

We were so happy to receive tickets to go downtown to the Conference Center for the Young Women's General Broadcast. It is such a wonderful feeling to be among so many great young women. It was wonderful to listen to our leaders speak to us. They really care about our happiness and want us to know how loved we are.

Brooklyn and I sat in the section of the conference center designated for the Deaf. They have two televisions there - one has an interpreter on it and the other has captions. It was fun to sit by those girl and I loved how they sign the hymns because many of them do not use voice at all.

It was also so nice for me to be able to share this evening with Brooklyn. Usually we are invited to the stake center to watch the conference via satellite transmission, but without captions Brooklyn doesn't know what is being said. Once we had an interpreter come to sign for us, but they turned the lights down so everyone could see the screen and Brooklyn couldn't see the usually we just watch it on tape delay on the television that night. I have always felt Brooklyn missed out on the spirit that is there when all the Young Women are joined together. Going to the conference center gave us the best of both worlds. We felt the spirit of being with the other girls and she was able to "hear" the words which were being spoken.

We also loved sharing this evening with Ginger and Bailey. They had never been before so it was wonderful and exciting for all of us.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

March Madness!

When most people hear the words "March Madness" they think of college basketball. But for our family it was just a March filled with many big things.

As most know, we are a basketball family and the kids both had stellar years with their teams. Brooklyn attends Summit Academy Jr. High. Their team took first place in the charter school basketball tournament this year. They had amazing coaches and learned so many wonderful skills.

In Church Ball, Justin's team also took first in Regionals. Thanks to Matt Lym for doing a great coaching job. He always looked so calm, like he was sitting on the front row of an NBA game just taking it all in. The boys showed great teamwork and they were a joy to watch.

One of the other really great things that happened for our family is that Justin was ordained to be an Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood. His papa ordained him. It was wonderful to have so many men that have influenced his life for good stand and put their hands on his head and bestow upon him this great gift.

The following week Brooklyn was scheduled to have her second cochlear implant surgically put in. Because Justin had been ordained to be an Elder he was able to give her a blessing before her surgery. This was a beautiful bonding experience and I think something they will both treasure in the coming years.

Brooklyn had her cochlear implant surgery at LDS Hospital on March 29, 2010. There is a 5 week healing period, and then she will be able to have the external piece mapped and attached. This implant is newer and has some wonderful features. She will be able to hook her ipod directly into it and it has a telecoil which may allow her to hear on the phone. We are excited to see if this brings new benefits to her. It is a long process, so even though some things will show immediately, most we won't know how well they are working for many months.

Many exciting things are happening in our family right now. I think 2010 will turn out to be quite an adventurous and great year! Stay tuned :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

California Lovin'

February was great! I was able to take my two kiddos to California. We did a road trip and it was a blast. We stayed in an amazing resort in Carlsbad overlooking the ocean. We did all the typical things:

The Beach

I love the ocean. I love the sound, the smell, the feel. I love that it is so expansive and that you feel like you can see forever.


The kids and I did our volunteer time so we each got a credit for going to Disneyland. We volunteered for 2 hours each at the Living Planet Aquarium. Justin got in free and Brooklyn and I put our $72.00 towards an annual pass. The park was near empty and we did everything we wanted to do at Disneyland and California Adventure in 7 hours. It was great!

Knotts Berry Farm

Our friend Lupe took us to Knotts Berry Farm. This park was also near empty. It was so relaxing. The kids did some really scary rollercoasters. I did a couple of the not-so-scary ones. It was a great day topped off by dinner at TGIFs.

The San Diego Temple

Justin, Brooklyn and I went to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. We started out by eating lunch in the cafeteria there. We then went to the baptistry and a member of the Temple Presidency came in and talked to us. We were the only ones here too. The kids then did the baptisms for their grandparents, great grandparents and great great grandparents. It was wonderful. This side of the family all came from Nebraska. I know because Brandon is serving his mission there, many doors were opened so that people I had been looking for the past 16 years were easily found. There was a wonderful feeling there and it was special for each of us to do these family names.

And a whole lot of relaxing.

California is our most favorite place to vacation. After the trip was over I asked the kids, "If you could change one thing, what would you do different?" They both said, "Nothing!" I felt the same way - it was perfect.