Monday, January 8, 2018

Bring it on- 2018!

Like most of you, twenty-seventeen (and the first week of twenty- eighteen) brought the bitter and the sweet. My mother lost her husband of forty-one years, we've lost several members of our church congregation, the president and prophet of our church, Thomas S. Monson left this earth on Tuesday evening and just yesterday, we discovered our angel friend, Susanne Harwood passed away. The sweet include: Sarah returning home from her mission, Anna leaving to serve a mission, Hailee, my youngest sister, bringing another bright life into this world and our health and finances continuing to sustain our needs. One may think, "Okay, Susan- your "sweet" list is nice, but look at your "bitter" list, so much death, so much sorrow." I agree- a lot of sadness. But my joy outweighs my sorrow because of the hope in Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus Christ, my family and friends will live again. And when it is my turn to leave this magnificent world, I will be able to hug, "high-five" and laugh with them. Because Jesus Christ was resurrected, all of us (believers and non-believers, bond or free) will be resurrected too. We can have joy in this life because He showed us how to live. In the midst of our sorrow, we can have hope--hope in Jesus Christ. The Psalmist was spot on when he said: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." So bring it on 2018!!

Here some pictures of our sweetness and joy on the first day of 2018!

For the beauty of the earth

For the beauty of the skies

For the joy of human love

Brother, sister, parent, child

  Friends on earth and friends above 

Lord of all, to thee we raise

This our joyful hymn of praise

Monday, September 11, 2017

Get Up

A few months ago, a sister in my church congregation shared a story of when she was a young mother. She related the experience of having a series of unfortunate events and then... she entered her laundry room. She took one look at her laundry pile and collapsed right in the middle of the unwashed mountain. Either vocally or in her mind she cried out for help from her Heavenly Father. She was feeling overwhelmed, unable to accomplish all that she had before her. I don't know how long she cried out before the thought came to her: "Get Up." Having that thought, she realized that God knew her heart (and her mental condition!) If He would have directed her to "go do your laundry" or "separate the lights clothes from the dark clothes" that may have been too much. He simply directed her to: get up. I like that. Baby steps. Line upon line, precept upon precept, one foot in front of the other. Simply--get up.

My stepfather passed away on September 1st, a Friday. My mother, his high school sweetheart and wife of 42 years got up the next morning and started taking care of funeral arrangements. The following day, a Sunday, she got up and went to church all by herself. She was the first in her congregation to get up and share her feelings of the teachings of Jesus Christ. She is my hero. She continues to get up in spite of the unknown, loneliness and grieving.

Paula, my best friend from college came to my stepdads viewing. I recognize her attendance was more than social protocol. This was Paula getting up. Paula's mom passed away just a year ago. I'm positive that Paula would give anything to sit in her favorite chair in their living room and visit with her mother just one more time. Attending a viewing would only bring that painful memory to the surface. But, Paula got up. And in her getting up, she strengthened me and I was able to get up today.

I am grateful to all of you that get up in spite of doubts, fears or heartache. You inspire me. May we all hear and heed the voice to get up, go forward, one foot in front of the other and conquer that mountain of fear, doubt, heartache or... laundry.

Mom and Kent's children. We are missing Stephanie

Pallbearers, sons and grandsons
Kyle- my brother and Kent's son. Dallas- my nephew and Kent's grandson

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

We're Gettin' The Band Back Together!

The band hasn't played together for about 2.5 years! So, this summer has been an unique experience. We had a Lloyd family reunion scheduled for late July in Heber, UT. I took advantage of the timing and flew out a few days early to reconnect with some beautiful souls before my family followed in the "still kickin' it" 1999 Plymouth Voyager!

 I got to see my beautiful sister/friend, Esther. We met in student housing at BYU when both of our husbands were in graduate school. Our friendship will out-last those fireproof steel doors of Wymount Terrace!

From our time spent in P-town, my life has been blessed with angels along the way: Margot, Sheila, Dara, Melody, Lisa Maree, Becky, Marin and the picture below: Sister Sherry Ritchie Platt!!

One SWEET experience was surprising Sherry and her family at Hailee's (Sherry's daughter) mission farewell. Sherry and I were mission companions in the New Zealand, Auckland mission. Twenty and some odd years later, Sherry makes me laugh just as hard! This past year, our daughters attended Utah State University together. Sherry is the friend that will move heaven and earth to let you know you are loved. 

My sister is the one that will move heaven and earth and a door or two to make you feel at home! 

 Thanks to Scott's sister, Deanna, The Lloyd family reunion at Heber Valley Camp was a great success! 

The Heber Valley Cabins were a great shelter during a welcome rain!

Bread-sticks not pictured.
After the reunion, we took the southern route back to Nor Cal and stopped in St. George, UT for a night. We enjoyed the washer and dryer provided at the hotel and we highly recommend the bread sticks from Pizza Factory!!

Our last big stop before returning home, Universal Studios, Hollywood

Gerry Beach, my dad's friend of 50 years plus, allowed us to stay in his home in Westminster, CA so we didn't have to take out a small business loan to house a family of seven in a Burbank hotel.

Overlooking the Valley outside of Universal Studios Hollywood.

One HUGE turkey leg and one HAPPY seventeen year old!

Girls on Scooters!

Natalie and I decided we would skip the "Walking Dead" ride.

The Millionaire (minus $700 for Universal Studio tickets!) and his wife.

We stopped by Seal beach before braving the rest of the drive back up I-5

In-spite of the 30 hours spent on the interstate, the band is grateful for their time together and plans on another "world tour" soon!!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

They of the Last Wagon

I worry. And if I was a betting woman, I would bet that most of you reading this, also worry. (All three of you!)

But don't worry! I've learned the three of us are not alone! Most humans worry. In an address by John S. Tanner, he relates the following: "According to Parley P. Pratt, the pioneers who endured the first terrible winter in the Salt Lake valley suffered more from fear than from actual hunger." Brother Tanner continues; "Uncertainty can be more chilling than winter, doubt more gnawing than huger, tempest of the mind more fearful than

pelting rain." Brother Tanner emphasizes the human propensity to worry as he quotes Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whom "describes a peculiar reaction evident in many people picked up by the Soviet secret police: "Sometimes the principal emotion of the person arrested is relief and even happiness!" Solzhenitsyn explains, there is a kind of exhaustion that is worse than any kind of arrest." Brother Tanner nails it when he states: "Not knowing when or if an affliction will end is often more taxing than the affliction itself."

I've felt this affliction of the unknown. I'm sure you have too. How do you remedy it? How do you find the strength to continue when your spouse is unemployed, or a child suffers a debilitating illness or the evil of the world seems insurmountable? I believe the answer is faith. Faith in what or whom? I would suggest, faith in God and His promises. 

At times, faith in God is hard. We can't see God or the "distant scene". I relate to the father of the afflicted child in the New Testament book of Mark. In essence, the Savior asks the father of an afflicted child, "How long has your son been afflicted? The father responds, "since he was a child." In verse 23 we read: "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:23-24)

The father had enough faith to ask the Lord for his help to heal his son, but was his faith sufficient for his son to be healed? My answer is: yes! In verse 27 we learn, " But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose." My take-away from this narrative is this: if we have the faith enough to ask the Lord for His help, He will meet us half way in our seemingly "belief/unbelief" impasse. Also, I've learned, if your faith is failing, feel free to surround yourself with those of unfaltering faith. 

Relating the plight of pioneers of 170 years ago, making the trek across the unforgiving desolate plains, J. Reuben Clark shares with us a mighty metaphor for living by faith:

… Back in the last wagon, not always could they see the Brethren way out in front, and the blue heaven was often shut out from their sight by heavy, dense clouds of the dust of the earth. Yet day after day, they of the last wagon pressed forward, worn and tired, footsore, sometimes almost disheartened, borne up by their faith that God loved them, that the restored gospel was true, and that the Lord led and directed the Brethren out in front. Sometimes, they in the last wagon glimpsed, for an instant, when faith surged strongest, the glories of a celestial world, but it seemed so far away, and the vision so quickly vanished because want and weariness and heartache and sometimes discouragement were always pressing so near.
When the vision faded, their hearts sank. But they prayed again and pushed on, with little praise, with not too much encouragement, and never with adulation. … Yet in that last wagon there was devotion and loyalty and integrity and, above and beyond everything else, faith in the Brethren and in God’s power and goodness. …
So through dust and dirt, … they crept along till, passing down through its portals, the valley welcomed them to rest and home. …
So when the view of our future seems obscured by the "heavy dense clouds of the dust of the earth", may we have the desire to cultivate sufficient faith- the faith of "they of the last wagon."

Sunday, October 23, 2016

But if not---

I am stirred by the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the book of Daniel, found in the Old Testament. In summary, King Nebuchadnezzar commands all men to bow down and worship a golden image he has created. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego refuse. King Nebuchadnezzar is ticked and responds:  

Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?

The Jewish boys respond: "You betcha!" Now the King is doubly ticked! Not only do they refuse to abandon their God when all is well in their world, they continue to refuse to leave their God when things get a "little hot".

Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.

And this is the part I love; Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego respond to their executioner by declaring:

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Daniel 3

I remember teaching a lesson regarding this principle: "But if not..." Could I be faithful to my God if I was thrown into a fiery furnace? If those that I love left God? If I was betrayed? If my child died? If my spouse was unfaithful? In my mind, I've always thought, "Of course!" Nothing could come between me and my relationship with God. But this week-end, I felt differently.

Annie Schmidt, daughter of Jon and Michelle Schmidt went missing. Her car was found near the Bonneville Dam in the Columbia River Gorge. Michelle is my sister's best friend from High School. My sister loves Michelle. And because my sister loves Michelle, I love Michelle and Michelle's sweet Annie.

Today is day seven of the search and rescue attempt to find Annie. Yet, no Annie. I have been heart-broken, even angry. In my mind, I've asked "Why, Why can't they just find her?! Michelle and Jon have been faithful!" I've tried to find peace, but like the rescue teams searching for Annie- nothing. Then this morning, I knelt down to pray. I felt I should express gratitude instead of just begging for answers. So, I thanked God for the good weather to allow the search to continue, for all of the volunteers that came to help and for the search and rescue crews. However, I still felt unsettled.

And then during one of the meetings at church, I captured a bit of understanding. President Uchtdorf relates the following from the parable of the Good Shepard:
The sheep is worthy of divine rescue simply because it is loved by the Good Shepherd. He knows when you are lost, and He knows where you are. It matters not how you became lost- whether because of your own poor choices or because of circumstances beyond your control. What matters is that you are His child. And He loves you. He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home

That's what I needed.

Annie is still missing. And I believe they are entertaining suspending the search and rescue mission. On top of, I can't even imagine what Jon and Michelle are experiencing. Still, I found a glimmer of hope in the knowledge that Annie is not missing to God. She is His. And that has always been enough.

#bringherhome #prayersforannie

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sup!? Summer Road Trip, That's What!

This pic describes it all...torture with a smile! Last week we took a huge risk and put our 193,000+ mile Plymouth Voyager (machine of wonder!) on several highways and sputtered along to grandma Lloyd's house in Boise, ID and then continued along on I-84 to grandpa Doug's cabin in Garden City, UT.

While in Boise, we had a lovely visit with grandma Lloyd and prayed over our mini-van in the VICU (van intensive care unit). Hey, don't judge. We made it 700 miles with only one need for a van repair. Believe me, we were counting this as a good omen! Of course, we told the mechanics not to look too close and not to wiggle anything that looked loose or unstable! As we left our van in the good hands of competent mechanics we savored the summer joys of: Pokemon hunting, school clothes shopping, movie watching, book reading and grandma Lloyd's cooking!

 We found Pokemon lurking around the Idaho Boise Mission offices.

We left our two day spa stay at grandma Lloyd's and traveled to...yes, the Middle of NOWHERE!

You guessed it, that is an alpaca- right in the middle of nowhere! Where else would you expect to see an alpaca, Interstate highway 84, that's where!

 This road trip was WILD! We saw sheep and pigmy donkeys too!

Anna- the animal whisperer


A petting zoo and a rest stop? Let me tell ya- this was no rest stop! There were NO restrooms and not even a garbage. It was literally a petting zoo off of Interstate Highway 84! This is what all epic road trips should include in their itinerary!

This was the most BEAUTIFUL thing I had seen since the cronut in Laguna beach-- THE scone from Angie's Restaurant in Logan, UT.

 A road trip would not be complete without taking in the clothing choice of the locals!

 Our road trip wouldn't have been complete without the Fireball of the Party- aunt Shannon! We were all thrilled that Shan and Weston were willing to drive up I-15 to join
 our adventures at Bear Lake with grandpa Doug. We explored the Minnetonka caves, invaded Raspberry Days Rodeo, ate raspberry everything and aunt Shanny used her "Appolo 13" ninja skills to blow up the ginormous inner-tube so the kids could create memories of dodging the Bear Lake monster as they rode in the wake of grandpa Doug's boat.

Want to feel like an American?! Head on down to your local rodeo. God Bless America and those Cowboys and Cowgirls! YEHAWWWWW!

My fears of the Bear Lake monster were put to rest when I captured a glimpse of these three cowboys ready to take on any mishaps during Raspberry Days.

We got off the lake and went straight back to grandpa's cabin to pack up- and who do we see? Josh, Ashley, two handsome boys and spot makes three!

We returned to Boise and before we left on Monday morning, Alan Bingham aka- nicest guy on earth, invited the kids to come and ride his horses, Trio and Sunday Girl.

As we drove away from Boise after a week of close quarters, sleepless nights and tried patience, I thought of the words of a wise leader, I heard speak twenty three years ago when I was a missionary for our church: "You will have more sorrows than joys but your joys will out weigh your sorrows." 
Word. Road trip-20-16.