Monday, December 30, 2013

Empty Nest: Growing Flock

Two and a half years ago, we had one married daughter out of our five children, and when our son returned from his LDS mission serving in Neuqeun Argentina, we knew we had to have a family photo taken while we were together as, soon, most of our children would head out to college.  This is what we all looked like in the fall of 2011.


But 2013 was a busy year for our family.  We had 3 children marry from December 20, 2012, through August 23, 2013, and so we desperately needed an update.  

When all of our children and their spouses joined us for a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration and an early Christmas, we recorded the event as shown here.  

It has been an interesting experience having our nest so full and then rapidly empty, but to know also that our happy flock grew at the same time that it dispersed.  We feel so grateful to have such fine additions to our family.  Our son in laws not only added stature, and good looks, as did our beautiful daughter in law, to our gene pool, but even better, they added some good listening ears, grace, patience, faith, commitment, many diverse and useful talents, and great work ethic.  We feel so very blessed by the additions as well as the accomplishment, righteous desires, and good goals and accomplishments of our own young adult children.   Each are preparing to be good and contributing citizens as well as Disciples of Christ and we could ask for nothing better. 

2013 was a very lucky (blessed) year for us.  We look forward to wonderful events in the future.

May you too, have a full heart even if your nest is temporarily empty.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cleaning a Wedding Gown

What I've learned about cleaning a vintage, yellowed, and dirty wedding gown:

Having had three of our children marry in 8 months between December 2012 and August 2013, a son and two daughters, I have learned a LOT about weddings... planning, food, decor, money matters, dress altering, dress making, time and energy management,  and especially relationship management.  But for this episode, I will focus on cleaning an old dress.

First of all you should know the story of our daughter Kaloni's dream dress:

This is our beautiful daughter Kaloni in her dress after we had cleaned and altered it but before we steamed it.

Kaloni found her dress in a thrift shop at age 16 when she was browsing with her sister Whitney.  they both loved it argued over it in the store and for several years later, but the bottom line was that Kaloni paid the $13.00 asked for it and it became hers.

In the beginning it had shorter sleeves, the lace bodice was sheer much too low for our modest tastes and was yellow, dirty and much too large.  But... it sure made fun dress up and imagining for a few years.  Fast forward to Kaloni becoming engaged in the spring of 2013.

For anyone attending BYU-Idaho in Rexburg Idaho, you have a dream of a resource available to you.  We had previously discovered the blessing of the University Costume department to do some altering on a wedding dress I had made for daughter Whitney, who then lost weight before her wedding but AFTER the dress was completed!  They are talented, fast and CHEAP!
Kaloni took her dress in for a fitting, and voila!  For $120.00 they lined the bodice, took in the dress all over, moved the zipper and added faux buttons down the back!  Later, after she was home and away from the University, she decided the short sleeves were not as flattering or consistent with the high neck, so I changed the sleeves myself.  So for the total $140.00 Kaloni had her wedding dress.

It still needed cleaning however and in our small South East Washington Community I could not find a cleaners I felt confident turning over her dress to.  After a great deal of on-line research, analyzing her fabric, and a few prayers, and deep breaths, this is what I did.

 I ended up washing Kaloni's dress myself .   A number of the pearls that were glued on, came off in the process, but the dress turned out beautiful. Her dress was polyester lace and while quite fragile, was washable.

1.  I put a white sheet in a tub of cold water and woolite and a very dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide.  The sheet is used to lift and lower the dress in and out of the water to keep from tearing the fragile dress fabric when it is heavy with water.   ( You could also try oxiclean).

2.   Let it soak a long time, like 6-8 hours.

3.   I agitated it every so often by lifting the sheet so as not to stretch or pull on the lace or fragile fabric. 

4.  Then I gently squeezed it, rolled it in a white towel, and then laid it out on another sheet to dry. These two products will be safe on most fibers and should not bleach the gown. Be sure to test the color fastness of the dress in an area not immediately visible when wearing the dress. Good luck

Additionally  do NOT seal it in a box when you are done, or store it in plastic. The plastic fumes can cause yellowing. I made muslin bags with a drawstring on the bottom, to cover them give them air and keep them from light. Use the little hanging strings to prevent stress on lace or shoulders etc.  Occasionally get the dress out, look at it, and have someone try it on for fun now and then. This is actually good for the dress, and catches problems and prevents permanent wrinkles.. And it's fun!
Dancing with her sweetheart  (and husband)
Kyle Udall.

Dancing with her Daddy.  (She also wore
my beaded veil which matched perfectly.)

A beautiful dress for a beautiful day, setting, and memory.  We love you Kyle and Kaloni !

I Have the BEST Job in the World!

I have the BEST job in the world!  I am a Home Maker.

Today I went to the gym after cleaning the kitchen, and emptying the dishwasher.  I have mowed the lawn,  watered plants, filed papers, folded laundry, made Visiting Teaching appointments to check on a few ladies in my church I look after,  as well some e-mail assignments for my church assignment, (we call it a "calling" since we do not volunteer for them but accept assignments as called and asked by the Lord through our church leaders),  AND listened to these great free on-line Economics courses from Hillsdale College while I was doing much of that.

  I am on week 3.  Next,  I will continue listening while I pay the bills,  start dinner and as many other things on my list as possible.  I bet none of my "paid" associates accomplish more of value or enjoyed their work more!  I love my life.    Hope you do too!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Happy Days!

Does this ever happen to you?  You hesitate to acknowledge something wonderful in your life because it might hurt someone who doesn't have that wonderful something, or might think you boastful?  Well.... I've kind of been there recently.  But isn't that like not saying "Thank you " for a gift because someone else who got a different gift, didn't get yours?  So with that in mind I'm going to share with you my recent happinesses... and theres a bunch!

We had two weddings in 13 days this summer.  (Three weddings in 8 months!)  Our youngest daughter Kaloni married Kyle Udall on August 10, in the Columbia River Washington LDS Temple, and our only son Layton, married Meredith Mateson on August 23, in the Oakland California LDS Temple.  We feel our family has grown in the most wonderful way with a new son and daughter-in-law who feel like our very own.  

Let me introduce you to them.  With Kyle we added a very "tall dark and handsome, sensitive, thoughtful and funny " version to our collection of son-in-laws.  The collection already contained  "tall, curly, handsome, handy, helpful and respectful," and  "tall, blonde,  handsome, courteous, adventurous" models.  We are definitely  adding height to the Jeff Bird family gene pool.

Meredith, our one and only daughter-in-law is a beauty, with long, thick, dark, curly hair  (Bird hair is mostly blonde, and pretty thin) and filled to overflowing with creative talent.  She is an artist in nearly every sense, with great ability among others things in "clothing construction and design".  She is calm and a good listener.  We love each of our new additions and are grateful for the the qualities they bring to our family and hope they will feel loved and appreciated, respected and valued among us. Especially we are grateful for their shared faith in our Savior Jesus Christ and in his atonement.  We know that as each one makes him a part of their marriages that forgiveness will become second nature and success and happiness will be assured over time.  For that common denominator we are immeasurably grateful.

I will skip over many other personally valued blessings  but will mention what a blessing it is to have had the privilege to raise remarkable children and then to experience with renewed appreciation, this time together with Jeff and I alone.  Our house is quiet, parts stay cleaner longer and the messes that stay are ones we made and no one is here to complain about them.  We have great discussions sometimes and introspective silence others times.  My favorite parts are date night which used to be haphazard and irregular for us but have become much more anticipated and adhered to as we treasure time with just the two of us,  and the evenings when we have time to read and discuss a good book together.

We are currently reading  3 books depending on the need we have at the moment.  I recommend each of them highly to you.  One is an old public domain fictional book I had never heard of before called Fanny Herself. It is difficult to describe but well written and thought provoking and sweet somehow.  The next is called the Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.  We have too often focused on managing our time in this busy life and missed the fact that managing our energy levels instead, through proper balance of nutrition, activity, social interaction and recovery time could actually help us accomplish more, more effectively and enjoyably than trying to pack every minute to the brim.   We are considering ways to more effectively manage our energy by meaningful alterations in our patterns.  Lastly is an outstanding book called the Power of Everyday Missionaries, the What and How of Sharing the Gospel, by Clayton M. Christensen.  It contains by far the BEST most engaging and workable suggestions for effective gospel sharing I have ever considered, and Jeff and I have already begun to prayerfully apply them.  We desire greatly to contribute light and truth to a searching world and to offer to those who cross our path any benefit we may have to add to their life's journey as so many have added to ours.

 On my way home from church today, I had not even got out of the parking lot alone in my car, when I received the first of 3 texts in rapid succession. The first from Kaloni doing Family History and  wanting dates and information. The next was from Tiahna looking forward to Thanksgiving at home and wanting to suggest a craft activity of some sort.  And immediately following, one from Nikelle so tearfully grateful as she watched the Pioneer movie 17 Miracles.  Could any parent be more pleased with the Sabbath activities of her children, and that they would in some small form share their activities with their Mother far away?  I couldn't and I am so grateful.

It has been a blessed summer......busy and expensive and we are tired, but we are so happy and feel deeply contented.  Now we are tying up loose ends in our house, putting the main bathroom back together before moving on to Christmas preparations and autumn interests that we have been looking forward to.   Tomorrow I paint, and Tuesday Jeff and a friend will install cabinets. Then we  wait (patiently :)  ) for our wonderful floor installer, and the countertop to be installed and lastly the plumber.  Voila!  As all of that depends on the availability of the floor guy, we will see how long it takes, but we are so close to success and appreciate the patience of our kids in our ongoing home improvements, as well as the help of our friends on occasion.  I can't help but see a similarity to the personal improvement projects in my life.  They never seem to end, are always messy and slow, but it would be disastrous to just stop and decide to be content with "what is".  I am capable (and needed to be) so much more than I currently am.  I know that. But our Savior knows more perfectly how MUCH more I can be and is constantly directing and expanding the project, and even sometimes exposing how much more improvement is really required than I thought or hoped.  I am glad he does not quit or give up on me.  I like the results His way much more than mine.

I am working at healing a painful plantar fasciitis in my right foot and hope to also find relief for my tennis elbow, ( in my case, weeding, pruning, cleaning elbow) in my overused right arm.  But otherwise am grateful my knee is bothering me much less and we are in blessed good health and enjoy and appreciate each day as companions together.  What a gift that has become as we are once again Best (and sometimes it seems ONLY) friends.
What a gift a loving, kind, attentive, worthy and righteous husband and friend is, when you are once again back to the two of you!

We look forward to a visit from my brother Sheldon and his wife Nikki and baby Addison next week. They have never been here before and hope they have a safe and good trip.  We would enjoy visits from any of you as well and have PLENTY of room to share with you.... (we may or may not have plenty of functional bathrooms.....:)  )  and would try to make a visit our way worth your while.

Much love to you.... I would attach photos, but as I tried a bit at the beginning of this with so much difficulty it nearly prevented me from writing.  So I respectfully submit that you use your imagination, or look me up on Facebook and check out the photos that our kids tagged us in from our summers weddings.  They were beautiful and fun events and hopefully forever happy memories for our kids.  I promise I will eventually get better at this  photo attachment thing.  

It really is a 'Wonderful Life' we are living.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Musings from a Mother in Transition:

Written September 9, 2012

This mothers newly empty nest.....

"..... in all the world Our Nest is Best" is the conclusion of a classic children's book and a phrase we have oft repeated over the years regardless of where we called 'home'.
Over the previous seven years ALL five of our children have graduated from high school and moved on to college (interestingly all at BYU-I), and a myriad of other life adventures. But over and over again, they have returned accordion-like to fill up our home and then leave again leaving behind a different mixture of siblings to form tight bonds of familiarity and memories.
It has been our observation, that most families nests, empty one at a time, a year or sometimes many years in between, providing time for parents to adjust to at least some degree. But for us, it seemed the nest just became slightly less crowded, and the table a little less noisy, for brief months, before filling up again to near capacity. Just 7 weeks ago, although our first born Nikelle, was missing, our church pew was filled with a full complement of "birds", when one counted a son-in-law and, "fiancé" in the mix all home for the mandatory college break at the end of each summer.
That week, began a busy and chaotic period of work schedules, transportation cooperation, college prep, and wedding planning that is more the norm than not it seems for this household. And then, after weeks of packing and sorting, a living room scattered with lounging young adults and humming mac laptops, and white lace and sewing pins constantly about, in one fell swoop the nest emptied en-mass.
On Tuesday, we began the last trip in our big burgundy Astro Van, once again filled to capacity with college tubs, but also pulling a small U-haul trailer with bedroom furniture for Whitney's upcoming December 20th wedding.
Thursday we unloaded belongings at three different college apartments (Tiahna and Nikelle moved their own belonging), and a storage unit for Whitney, checked in our sweet last Freshman Kaloni, said our good-byes to all, and then drove away....alone....together.
The long drive home, completed the next day, which also happened to be my 47th birthday, was an unusual one for Jeff and me. Usually, we have so much to talk about as we drive, but this time we drove in silent reflection for hour on end. We have talked about it in the few days since and likely will discuss more as we sort out our feelings. But I believe we both felt a deep fatigue from having given our all to so consuming a task as striving to raise and prepare 5 wonderful, gifted, capable and faithful , but also sometimes willful young people, to be a blessing to the world. We are confident they will be an influence for good regardless of or perhaps in spite of us, from here on out. And in addition there were so many feelings, and memories to sort through in the hours we have driven so many times for so many years past.
Upon returning to town, we pulled in to return the U-haul trailer, found a powered car wash, (the first of many I believe, as we have never before, NOT washed our own vehicle at home), where we washed the bugs off the van, and then drove home where Jeff immediately sat at the computer to list the van for sell. Twenty-four hours later it is sold.
That good, reliable and versatile vehicle has been a blessing to us for nearly the same amount of time and years that Jeff served as Bishop of the Shoreline ward. We purchased it in the spring of 2005, and that fall he was called as Bishop. In June of this year, on Father's Day 2012, Jeff was released, in September all the children left for school. With Tiahna married, and her and sister Nikelle both preparing to graduate in December, Whitney preparing to be sealed and married also in December and her fiancé Austin Lee set to graduate next July, it seemed obvious that our need for so large a vehicle had mostly passed. We had taken one last trip together to Poulsbo to be at the wedding reception of dear and influential friends, earlier in August. Then it had faithfully delivered so many belongings to school for the kids, and now....
Well, Jeff and I had prayed that if it was right to sell it we could feel good about it and that it would be a blessing to another family as it had been for us. It sold so easily and under circumstances that we feel certain have answered that prayer. We slowly came to know that the man who called about it was also LDS, with four teenagers at home. Later we learned his wife had died of breast cancer 4 years prior as well. His plate is full, and we could see his old vehicle and know that this one would be a big improvement for them. It is a nice thing to be able to contribute in passing on blessings.
So many changes for each of us in so short a time. And for me personally. For several years I have spent many hours alone, being very busy, gardening, cooking, or doing who knows what that takes so much time in creating home for a family of busy teenagers/young adults, and a husband. The kids passed through in rushes, gusts and flurries of activity, words, and needs. And then passed out again to work and friends and sports, and assignments in the same manner. At the same time Jeff was serving our family and the Lord and passed in and out more quietly, but left me alone much just the same. Because of this, I had anticipated the "empty nest" a lot and had thought that it would not actually feel very different. Alas, I was wrong.
I have spent the last 3 days, feeling adrift and disconcerted even as I go about very familiar and ordinary tasks. The lights need to be turned off, not left on, the doors locked not left open, and food needs put away not left out. The reality that not only is no one home, but no one is coming home, leaves me tearful just to write and has been a very unexpected emotion.
My dear and good companion reminds me we are in transition and those are uncomfortable. But we are determined to strive to move forward, and on with grace and purpose. We are slowly bringing order back to our disordered nest, and preparing to try a few new things. We are discussing how we want to fellowship and associate with others so we do not become isolated and cut off from those to whom we can be a mutual blessing and influence. And we are setting goals. We are so grateful for the lives and choices of our children. We know we have been privileged to be known as their parents and to be mutually taught by one another in this great institution called "FAMILY". We want them to be as proud (Jeff would NEVER use that word) of us in the years ahead, as we are of them.
Jeff and I continue to be blessed by association with our parents and siblings. It seems I am esteemed by many because I am related to others who are esteemed. I expect that Jeff and I will find that continues through the lives of our children. We hope we will do the same for them.
Except for memories and desires for improvement in the future, our nest is empty now. But we hope our choices will create a nest that continues to draw back our children, friends, family, and neighbors to make even more happy memories in the years ahead.
With love and gratitude for you and the role you continue to play in our lives and this transition,
Becky (and Jeff) :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

On "Memorial" Day

Gratitude on this Memorial Day for a heritage of FAMILY!
The word "Memorial" is defined in the free Merriam-Webster dictionary as "serving to preserve remembrance" .
I am aware that the original intent and purpose of Memorial Day was and is to honor those who have died in the service of our country. I am even aware that there has been an effort to reinstate this focus by returning the date to it's original May 30, instead of the current , last Monday in May, to prevent further dilution of it's meaning. However, in a large family, that miraculously has been almost entirely kept out of military service, ( not from lack of willingness, or patriotism, but by unusual exemptions not for this entry), with the exception of one uncle who served in Viet Nam, and a great Uncle who served as a Paratrooper in WWII, I want to share my gratitude for a great heritage of faithfulness that has been exceptional, not for giving lives for a country, but for giving lives to raising contributing citizens. In this arena, our families have MANY worth honoring, both past and present.
As a child, our families honored these kind of family members (and what a travesty it would have been, had our parents and grandparents missed the opportunity this holiday of "remembering" provides, of connecting family heritage, and traditions of perseverance, loyalty and commitment, simply because none of our deceased loved ones had been soldiers), by traveling long distances to visit cemeteries throughout northeast Idaho, decorate the graves with lilacs, take photos of the graves, clean them and then gather for picnics afterward.
In the years we have been raising our own five children, living states away from any graves of known relations, we have still taken our children each year to cemeteries, where we "remember". We meander around the peaceful settings, some tiny and hidden, others large and celebrated by traditions of Memorial celebrations. We find those who died in wars, find the tiny markers for babies and imagine the loss to heartbroken parents, or note the family spots where numerous members of one family are combined together. We put flowers on those that seem to be forgotten and have taught our children respect, not only for the dead by not walking on the headstones, but also to consider the circumstances of their lives by considering what the towns, or world was like in the long ago years they were on it. I do not think it is primarily our government or schools who should remind our youth to "preserve in remembrance", the purpose of this day, but parents. And if, in their teaching, they also include gratitude and remembrance for loved ones that enabled a family to be and have the prosperity and blessings enjoyed now, then bravo!
Our country needs MORE grateful remembering of many kinds, not limited only to military sacrifices, however grand those may be and are.... which leads me to grateful, acknowledging and "remembering" of those still living, who bless and enrich my life.
I know it's not been popular to have more than a child or two for a really long time but I want to share just SOME OF the benefits missed out on by those who have only one sibling, or none, and no aunts, uncles, or cousins.
And believe me they are missing A LOT!
Recently I left home early to drive 5 hours to meet 3 of my 6 sisters for lunch. What a blast. They are educated, talented, but more importantly kind, wise and compassionate women, and also funny. (I won't go into detail here, but we had a dead car battery experience right in front of the Boise 'Kneaders' restaurant that involved laughing and prayers, and ended quickly and well due to blessings of preparedness, action by a good husband in advance, a sister learning how to use the equipment provided, and cooperation.). They are also wives to loyal, hard working men, and mothers to between us, nineteen children. (Wait till I add in my other siblings children!:))
The next day I drove a few more hours and visited with a fourth sister and her wonderful family of three children. It was so comforting to me to hear the interested questions Thom asked his children at the dinner table after his own long day at work and school. There are wonderful families in this world still and I get to live amongst many and get to be related to a whole bunch more! Lucky me!
In the evening, I drove 90 minutes to visit my parents. The purpose of my trip was to take my Mother, who serves so constantly to a myriad of others, to Women's Conference for her first time. One of my four daughters was able to join us (my Dad came too but that's another story, and turned out to be a great addition to the family memory). A day later, we were all happily staying with and visiting with my youngest sister in Utah and her busy family of four plus a nephew loved as a son.
In between uplifting classes, we all met for laughing and talking over beautiful lunches above the campus art museum, or in the fifties style old Creamery for burgers and ice cream! While we talked and ate, I shared a children's book that another sister had read to me a few months ago. How rich and interesting my life is because of these women whom I see far too rarely, but who fill my life with support, mentorship and encouragement.
Several have housed our young adult children while they did summer jobs, interviewed or came to conferences, provided tips on work, given great advice, and been terrific mentors on happy, successful family life. Spread all across this grand country, in addition to our children's four siblings each, are 57 cousins, 24 aunts and uncles and 4 grandparents, not counting a significant number of second cousins and great aunts and uncles that know and love and care about our family as well. My mothers frequent statement from my youth, "the greatest gift your Dad and I gave you is siblings", is given another level of merit and credence. In a society, where " who you know", is often more important for opening opportunities than "what you know", one would think providing more "relations" would be the "IN" thing, not the reverse!
We know people in nearly every quadrant of the country, and a huge variety of professions and fields, from self employed business men to doctors, dentists, teachers, engineers, and a number of accountants, CPA's, as well as others. There is a measure of security in knowing that nearly everywhere I go, there is within reasonable reach "family". It is a joy to think back on the times however brief when a sibling has lived with us, as we helped them find summer work, and learn to drive a clutch, or brought their family for an overnight as they passed through. We have loved having a niece or nephew for the summer while they worked to save college money, took drivers training or simply stopped by for a place to stay while visiting friends, or just passing through on their way somewhere else. These infrequent visits are tiny threads, knotted tighter by being repeated, that knit a family largely separated by age and distance, together over time. How blessed it is to have a "quiver full" of siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles!
Thank you, thank you dear Mom and Dad for giving me so many, and to my eight remarkable siblings, and Jeff''s four equally fabulous, thank you for raising such great cousins for our five kids. Even now, as all our children are young adults, we have heard of Nikelle being contacted by a cousin and his wife for a lunch date, and others went on a brief overnight Memorial Day campout with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and a Bird nephew stopped by here overnight on his way to a work convention. How dull and boring life would be without FAMILY TIES!
Yes, I patriotically, and lovingly salute those who died in service to my country full heartedly. But the reason I do, is because I understand their motivation was to allow and protect the continuation of generations to live happily, hopefully peacefully and war free in the future. Our family has certainly been the beneficiary of their sacrifice and I remember them and my family, living and dead, whether or not that life was sacrificed for their country or simply to raise more countrymen!
God Bless America!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

On SEEING "they that be with us.." (2 Kings 6)

Of  late I have been somewhat distracted and overwhelmed by events, and circumstances in our world.  With scandals at the very top of our Government,  unwise legislation being passed frequently and good laws being struck down in high places,  and terrible trials of heinous acts of violence perpetrated by women and children, being shared almost as entertainment, and much of my countries citizery choosing to support laws born of  greed, covetousness, or immorality,   my simple naturally trusting self, who craves order, peace, and beauty finds myself burdened with dispair.  In the midst of an afternoon feeling this way, Jeff and I had a regional training to attend for Stake and Ward leaderships and the ward leadership of those  involved in teaching the youth with the new Come Follow Me program.  David McKonkie, counselor in the General Sunday School Presidency came to speak with us, along with our wise and wonderful area seventy Elder Brad Risenmay with whom we have been privileged to have an number of associations in the last 6 months. 

 Elder Risenmay is a man who while still working in his insurance company in Moses Lake, is also responsible for approximately 35 Stakes, training and assisting thier Stake Presidencies and many other duties .  He is almost never home on weekends, traveling constantly to do his duty, in this case even on a Friday evening, of a Memorial Day weekend holiday.  He carries himself with nearly constant Good Cheer.  I capitalize that because that is how Jeff and I label him... a man of pleasant, comforting, never drawing   attention to himself, never showing or speaking of fatigue or inconvenience that he must feel, but radiating steady, encouraging good cheer.  He is a role model and mentor of great character.  He conducted the meetings, introduced both the topic and Brother  McKonkie, and spoke again very briefly  at the end of the meeting, and left me with some reminders, that helped shift my discouraged thoughts to the truth of our situation instead of the one my natural eyes tend to see.

As this meeting was in regards to the new teaching methods and materials, he spoke of the miracle that the Come Follow Me Curriculum was completed and ready at nearly the same time as the Prophets revelation to lower missionary ages to 18 for young men and to  19 for young women. This change has increased our missionary force from 54,000 in October, by nearly 20, 000 currently with thousands more awaiting calls or in the process of paperwork.  It is  expected by the end of the year to have between 80,000-100,000 missionaries serving throughout the world.  He said, "The Lord is showing forth HIs marvelous power in a magnificent way."  

There is hope and magnificence, in a strong and courageous army of youth, younger than ever before, but striving to be worthy and willing to volunteer to boldly go into a largely apathetic at best, and  wicked world, to share with them the Good News of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.   To testify that there are yet again Prophets and Apostles called of God, who speak with and for God to His children on the earth, to guide, protect and lead us if we will listen.  It is the only message that will bring lasting peace and prosperity to individuals, communities, and countries.  Never has there been more need, coupled with so many messengers.  And the Lord in his wisdom is sending it forth through the weak and simple, nearly from the "mouth of babes" will it largely be spoken.   

With this remarkable contnranst in my mind, a passage in a small book I am reading stood out as TRUTH, even now, in our time, in my circumstances.  In Brent L. Top's book "When You Can't Do it Alone, Take the Saviors Hand",   he shares the story from 2 Kings 6:17, and how Elisha and his young servant were encircled by a Sirian army determined to capture him.  The young servant is fearful and asks in essence, 'What are we going to do?'.  Elisha responds with "They that be with us are greater than they that be with them, " and then petitions The Lord to open the young mans eyes.  This occurs and he is then able to discern the mountain behind them filled with horses and chariots of fire  sent to defend and protect these two righteous servants of the Lord.

With this in my mind, and the thoughts of Elder Risenmay so recently in my mind, I was uplifted, to be reminded that The Lord can and is fighting his own battles. He is NOT unaware of the troubles in my day and He is sending forth an army of His own choosing.  I can be a part of that army as I trust in faith and become familiar with His word for us in both the scriptures and the modern counsel of prophets.  I have been reading the Conference talks and marking the "to-do's" so I can easily reference them in reviewing what counsel we have been given for our modern protection and guidance.  If I keep focused on my Savior, remembering that He is "mighty to save", he always has and he does and will, to those who trust in His methods and seek to see him in the midst of our own circumstances. 

 I was then curious about what happened to Eilsha and his servant. What method of deliverance was used?  Did that army of fiery chariots obliterate the  enemy army?  It seemed logical to me.... but my son Layton looked it up as we discussed and reminded me of the facinating outcome.  The entire army was struck with "blindness"  such that Elisha walked out and told them this was not the city they sought and led them instead to Samaria.   Some brief pondering on this tells me that the army was not actually made blind in that they could not see ANYTHING, but in fact they could not see truth.  They could not recognize that they were in fact actually exactly where they had meant to be and were speaking with exactly the man they had intended to capture, and they could also not see that they were headed for the center of enemy territory.  Their unrighteousness allowed them to be blinded too Truth. 

On the other side, the righteous assistant to the Prophet Elisha was allowed to have his "blindness" removed that he coudl see the reality of the protection Heaven was providing them.  In  the end, the fiery Chariots of Heaven did not destroy the Syrian army at all.   I wondenred what they were there for then?  I am not sure, but I believe what seeing htem would have done for me, had I been Elishas servant, was to inspire confidence.  And isn't this exactly what I hope to have always as a disciple of Christ in this challenging world?  Confidence in My Lord and Savior.  I think I am going to be altering my prayers in the future to more clearly see His might and great works in the world around me. This is how I can more fully come to know and feel the "peaceable things that bring joy..." see see D&C 42:61.

And that's the only kind of songs I want to be heard singing.....

Happy Sabbath All!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Green Smoothies...good or not good...?

Green Smoothies are all the rage these days.
And being a gardener, I am all for fresh and healthy.
And I am by habit  and nature somewhat of an experimenter (as you will, no doubt quickly observe if you follow this blog long).   I am not however for healthy at all costs....  For example, "healthy but tastes terrible or has a bitter, fibrous texture" does not suit me at all.  So for the sake of brevity, after many recipes for green smoothies tried, let me share with you the ONLY one I can recommend without reservation:

  Becky's favorite green Smoothie

Spinach leafs washed and loosely packed, 2-4 cups 
Fresh Pineapple, 1 slice including the core, approximately 1 inch thick (although I have used canned with fine results)
One orange,with orange skin removed,  (I leave the white under skin on).  Quarter the orange.
1/2 a banana peeled
1/4 inch slice of lime, peel and all.  This is NOT optional.  Somehow the lime cuts the bitterness of the spinach and while the banana, orange and pineapple definitely provide enough sweetness, the lime makes this smoothie rise, from tolerable to DELICIOUS.  I have fantastic results with even a slice of a tiny key lime added.
1/2-1 tsp vanilla
4 ice cubes

Blend all together (having a Vita Mix blender makes this a breeze but I'll blog about that later)...enjoy.

I'm pretty sure you will like it;  even my picky teenagers liked this one, once they got past the beautiful  green color.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Not All Songs Are Happy

March 18, 2013 Bird Songs... Not all songs sound happy ... It is interesting how one can spend a day in nature and have both rain and sun in one day, as well as both the cheerful happy bird whistles of thrushes, or larks, and later the sad, mournful wail of a loon. I suppose in a way, March in the Northwest epitomizes change and contrasts. At this moment we have both sun and wind, although we woke to clouds and who knows what the future hours of the day will bring. That was like this weekend.... filled with the joys and togetherness, with our daughters Tiahna, and Kaloni and Kaloni's boyfriend Kyle Udall joining us for a lovely brief visit from college, but in the background, the underlying heartache of an unfolding tragedy among others of our loved ones. With all five of our children in college together in another State I have missed our children so, and looked forward with great anticipation for their arrival. Kaloni had sent all sorts of food requests, enough to last nearly a week and yet they would be here less than two days. So typical of a hungry, poor college student! We have been also planning for our 120 seminary students to move into our basement soon for classes when they begin to replace their old trailer building for a new permanent structure. With the delays of day jobs and volunteer help and life, we were blending in last minute priming and painting into the preparation so we could visit with the kids and still be prepared when the flooring people came early Monday morning. With the chaos and mess of this project, spreading throughout our home, yard, garage and life, we had much to try to clean up to make any kind of good impression on Kyle who has never been to the crazy, constant remodel work of the Bird household. Anyway, working together is something Jeff and I do pretty well, and we were blessed with unity and strength of body to get it all done in just the nick of time, to be free (if exhausted) to enjoy the evening and Saturday with our girls, and still strive to keep the Sabbath day holy! BLESSING! and so often deadlines are a good motivation. Our brief, less than 48 hours with daughter Kaloni and Kyle were wonderful as time with loved ones always are. These are the cheerful happy "songs" in our life, the Thrush and the Meadow lark if you will. But other "birds" were singing sadder notes this March weekend, that filled our hearts with compassion and our quiet moments and nights with tears of love and sorrow and deep grief. Our Nikelle, lives presently in St. George Utah area with her cousin Ashley Hansen (Ashley is Jeff's brother Terrels, youngest daughter), her husband Kurt and their 3 small children, 2 1/2 year old Amelia, 1 year old Jet, and 2 week old baby Cora. She loves this family and has spoken often of what a loving couple and fabulous parents they are. She loves the busy little children, and in short feels a part of this loving atmosphere that has provided her an introduction to and a safe inclusive place to have a new beginning as she has finished university and does her internship in preparation to hopefully make a life of her own in southern Utah. Unthinkably, sometime, on Wednesday 3 year old Amelia was the victim of a drowning accident. Amelia was life-flighted to Salt Lake Primary Children's hospital where she remained on life support as family, including ourselves and our children, joined across the world in fasting and prayer in her behalf and her local loved ones, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, gathered to be with her, seeking a miracle. We were reminded again how far we are from so many loved ones, and how sheltered we have been from so much of the deepest hurts of life. Everywhere I went Thursday through the weekend, the things I did, heard, and read, even the songs felt more meaningful to me than ever before. Hymns have taught my spirit in a special way, and easily bring me to tears. I find needed messages in them, guidance, occasionally a call to repentance and frequently comfort. Below, one seemed perfectly suited for what was happening. Hymn : How firm a foundation,: In every condition, in sickness, in health;.... Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed, For I am thy God and will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand. When through the deep waters I call thee to go, The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow; For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress. When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie, My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply; The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine..... The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to its foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. And lines from many others filled my nights and quiet moments . If you wish to find your own solace, look at especially, hymn 100 Nearer my God To thee 101 Guide Me to Thee, and 104 Jesus Savior, Pilot Me. 122 Though Deepening Trials, and 123 Oh May My Soul Commune With Thee My personal "Go-To" hymn for comfort is "Be Still My Soul" and yet again it hit the mark... But even a line on a CD in my car stood out anew. From hymn 309 As Sisters In Zion verse 3, the last line reads.. "Oh, naught but the Spirit's divinest tuition Can give us the wisdom to truly succeed"... ( in our purpose and mission to build up the kingdom of God by caring for needs of our fellow earth travelers.) It is in PAYING the tuition of spiritual growth, that so often comes through suffering that we gain spiritual attributes of Christ, that bring with them wisdom to understand how to lift and comfort those weary and weak around us whom we are sent to bless, but sometimes even the wisdom to carry on when WE ARE the weak and weary. Little Amelia was not granted the recovery miracle we know our Heavenly Father is capable of. She was instead called home to her Heavenly Home for an important work we can already sense. One meant to unite families becoming divided by distraction, or disobedience. She will become a beacon for us to remember and work towards. Her last breaths were taken in the arms of her mother, with only her parents present. And the Comforter brought to them the peace we each are promised if we believe in and seek it, in even a time of unspeakable loss. For one who covers her eyes and ears during the destruction scenes on TV, even if in cartoon form, or who cringes to watch children jump on trampolines, jump off diving boards or do back flips, to know of such real loss and hurt is almost more than I can bear, and has led to sleepless nights, and tears that seem to never be really ended. But I have been lifted myself to observe grieving parents, and grandparents, tie themselves ever tighter in this storm, to the hope and truth of the Plan of Happiness. To proclaim anew, that our Savior Jesus Christ really has overcome this loss making it temporary instead of permanent, if each of us lives to be with our Savior and his Innocent ones again. What a lesson to see the Atonement being LIVED not just believed, as all move beyond guilt and blame to love, forgiveness, trust and hope.! Gladys Knight sings a song that pleads, "Help us to live as we believe." Isn't that where the rubber meets the road? To proclaim belief is relatively to easy, until that belief is challenged by persecution or trial. Can I, WILL I LIVE as I believe in all times and in all things and in all places? Oh how I hope I can be like so many in our vast circle past and present of valiant Pioneers for Christ.! Teaching my busy, funny, sometimes even naughty 7 Sunbeams yesterday was very tender/tough with Amelia and her family on my mind and in my heart, and I know some wondered what was wrong with Sister Bird. But oh what I know each parent would give to have that naughty little person back if they were lost. But Elder Bednar said in a CES talk that "During difficult experiences, often filled with pain and suffering, character is built, hearts are purified,and souls are enlarged as individuals gain experience and spiritual tutoring. " And as the Bible Dictionary teaches us, prayer is work, and it is "the act by which we align our will with the will of Heavenly Father." His Will nor His Ways may be ours. And when the fiery trial comes we must choose if our faith is one professed only or truly lived. Will I continue to believe in and live for an All Knowing, All Powerful , All Loving God/Father who gave me something that does not feel like LOVE at all? Will I press forward in trust and Faith that even this undesirable, IS love after all ? The example of Kurt and Ashley and Jeff's brother and his wife have been just this... that Heavenly Father does love and care and THIS was His will for His own purposes. I am grateful to be related and associated with such persons of faith and example. I desire to be like them. Yes, in this life, the sad and mournful tunes of the Loon are an occasional part of some days. However, if I live with the Faith and Hope the Gospel Message of a Resurrected Christ contain, my days should mostly be filled with the joyful, happy whistles and notes of the Thrush, and Meadow Lark. I love my Savior and what He has done and made possible for me, and I long to obtain His attributes in every particular someday. I love my Heavenly Father and desire to trust my every moment into His loving care as I am on this "Pilgrims" pathway. May I sing a joyful song as I journey.