Thursday, August 28, 2014

Centurion

Before my first ward counsel as Primary President back in June, I had never heard of the term "Scripture Centurion." A Scripture Centurion is someone who memorizes all 100 scripture masteries. That's 25 from each book: Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, New Testament and Old Testament. You have to take a test where you are given key words from each scripture and you have to fill in the reference without a single mistake and you have to complete it in 12 minutes or less. Our Bishop challenged our ward counsel members to become Scripture Centurions and later that same Sunday he challenged all the youth to do it. He gave the second week in August as the deadline. 

I love the scriptures. I love the language and the symbolism and the stories. But let me tell you my brain works in letters and words and sentences and NOT in numbers. As I started memorizing, all the numbers just became a jumble in my head. Kaden and I started on the same day and in the first week he had memorized 50 scriptures and I had memorized 10.

Over the summer Kaden went on to master all 100 scriptures. I would find him in bed late at night with his stack of flash cards, he worked on them on the 6 hour drive to California and in the week before his test he and I spent many hours at the kitchen table running through the verses and references. We came up with dozens of tricks to help him remember different numbers and our home was literally filled with the spirit of the scriptures as Kaden prepared for his test. Every spare minute was devoted to that stack of flashcards.

The youth take their test at Seminary and so I text Kaden at the hour I knew he would be taking the test.

"Did you pass?"

I received a simple, one word answer...

"Yes!"

It was a joyful day to say the least. I am so proud of Kaden for doing this. It was hard! It took many hours but I know having those 100 scriptures burned into his heart and mind will bless him forever. 

Well Done Kaden, you are amazing.



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Mighty Miracle

Scott and I listened to this talk last night and it re-motivated me to write again. I am really not sure why my writing has taken such a hit. I really love reading back on my record of things so it makes me mad at myself when I slack so much on it. I have three birthday letters that I need to get up on here plus some really awesome stories that I don't want to forget.

Branson hates getting up in front of people more than anything in this whole world. He would rather break a bone, eat rat poison, get shipped off to military school or get lost at sea than get up and speak in front of people. Exactly one day after turning 12 he was asked to speak in sacrament meeting. He was terrified and kept begging me to call Brother Brown and tell him no. Scott and I went through the whole business of doing hard things and of showing the Lord what were are made of because we are willing to do things that we don't actually want to. He would not budge on his decision, he was NOT doing it. I lovingly assured him that he was. He still refused.

The thing is, is that I knew in my heart that if he didn't do it, that it would be that much harder the next time. Not doing the things we are afraid of only makes that fear bigger, its in the doing of it that grows our confidence. I was praying and praying that he would gain the confidence and courage he needed to give his talk and I kept asking Branson to pray for the same thing. Branson even got to spend the Saturday before his talk with my parents. They took Branson to lunch and my Dad told Branson about a similar experience in his own life, shared a few scriptures and reassured Branson that he could do it. I could not begin to say what this meant to me. Sometimes the load of parenting is a weight I feel I just cant bear, what a gift it is when someone else comes in and lightens that load. After that lunch Branson never again said that he wouldn't do the talk, he stopped refusing but still would not pick it up and and practice.

All the way up until the night before his talk Branson had yet to even read through it one time. He sat in the office gasping for air and sobbing...a full on panic attack over the thought of speaking in church. Scott offered to go down and open up the chapel so that he could stand at the podium and practice there, he agreed but when they got there he nearly threw up with complete anxiety. Even in the vacant darkened chapel he refused to stand up behind the microphone.

He came home and collapsed on the floor of the office. I sat next to him reading through his talk for him and praying (begging) the Lord to give him confidence to give his talk. I rubbed his back and then as if a flood light went on in my mind I realized that I had been praying for the wrong thing. I quickly changed the prayer in my heart from "give him the confidence to give his talk" to "please give him just enough courage to practice his talk." With-in just seconds of this Branson calmed down, took the talk from my hand and quietly walked up stairs. He shut his bedroom door and locked it. I stood out side the door with my ear pressed up to it and could hear the very faint sound of Branson's shaky voice...practicing his talk.

It was a miracle.

The fear never left Branson, he read his talk at least 20 times that night and in the morning he kept reading it over and over. He was too nervous to eat breakfast and then about an hour before church he came to me and buried his head in my shoulder while big quiet tears rolled down his cheeks and asked if he could have a blessing. After the blessing he and Scott left for church. The next time I saw him he was passing the sacrament for the very first time. He looked handsome and steady but I could see the fear and worry had not eased up.

But do you know what? That brave little man stood up there in front of our entire ward and gave his talk perfectly. Scott and I both sniffled and cried all through because we knew just how hard the road there had been for Branson.

I learned so many things from this experience with Branson. I learned that I can and should stick to what I know is right for my kids no matter how hard it is. Believe me it would have been way easier to just let Branson say "no" to the speaking assignment. WAY. But parenting correctly is not easy and it will sometime make your kids pretty mad at you.

I learned that the Lord does things in order. I was praying that Branson would have the courage to give his talk when Branson had not even practiced his talk. Much of the time the Lord does not give us something that we have not earned because He knows we wont grow if He did. He loves us so much that he lets us do the work first.

BUT I also learned that the Lord never leaves us. We might give up and leave Him but He never leaves us. He was there in my mind and heart teaching me what to do to help my boy. He enlightened my mind first, then I prayed for the right thing and then he immediately answered that prayer. When Branson did his part by practicing he received the natural blessing to that choice which was just enough courage to give his talk.

I learned that just because the Lord answers our prayer He doesn't then make it easy. Branson told me after church that the whole time he was talking he couldn't feel his feet and his ears were ringing. The Lord still lets us feel that stretch, that pain, that sorrow but only because it makes the victory that much more sweet.  Yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain. Alma 36:20

I will never forget Branson's first Sunday as a 12 year old Deacon. I will never forget the pain and the joy of this little experience. I love this true church. I love the opportunities of growth it provides to me and my family. I love the stretching and the learning. I love my husband who uses his priesthood worthily and I love my parents for lifting the load right along with me. And I sure love my Branson Boy.









Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer's End

As the kids and I pulled out to head back to the condo at the end of July I felt sad. I cried into my lap all the way to Gila Bend and then again from Gila Bend to Yuma. The day before I had said my last good-bye to my sweet Grandpa West. It was 2 days of heart break and sorrow but also a peaceful and beautiful celebration of his good life. I called Scott late Friday after the viewing and told him that it was amazing to see the different groups of people that my Grandpa's life had touched. Cowboys with their boots and hats, firemen with their strong shoulders and humble demeanor, old temple workers with soft smiles, lifelong neighbors and friends, all the little great grandchildren running around happy and playing, us older grand-kids sniffling and sobbing and laughing at our memories of being roped in the back yard, and my Mom and her siblings struggling to say good-bye to their hero. How I love him and will miss him!

I was also sad because once again I was leaving for a "family" trip without my whole "family." So frustrating! Scott and I have sworn to get our whole family on some kind of trip before the years end. We must!

But nothing will lift your spirits like playing on the sandy beach with your kids.

















































I even spent two afternoons out in the waves boogie boarding and attempting to surf. I will never forget Branson's protectiveness. "Mom, your too deep!" "Mom, are you OK?" "Mom, you are getting sucked out come back!" "Mom, here comes a big one, go under it!" His grip on my boogie board was so tight his knuckles were white.

So sweet and all my big kids were so proud anytime I caught a good wave in. They actually acted proud AND shocked. Sometimes I think I should remind them that I was once an all-star softball player, a marathon runner, an elite weight lifter,  a rim to rim hiker, a varsity cheerleader and volleyball player. HUMMM...maybe its time to get out some pictures. I am pretty sure they view me now as a flabby old Mom that is only really good at sitting on the sidelines in my lawn chair.

After our sunny, sandy week on the beach we headed for home and got everyone back in school. Life just keeps moving constantly like all those ocean waves, it never stops. Sometimes,  I can hardly believe the changes those waves of time leave in their tide. It can be hard to see another summer go and people we love move on to the other side but MAN am I ever thankful for the golden moments of goodness and love and saltwater that I get to keep in my heart forever. Life is really so very good.


Friday, August 8, 2014

My Hero-Swimming Edition

Wow, am I ever behind with life. This summer has been brutal. Two funerals. A new calling. Lots of baby-sitting. This may be the first time that my tears on the first day of school will be tears of joy instead of sad tears. Because the very thought of a few hours each day, with just Cali to keep up with,  is enough to make me weep.

But I need to write this.

When we filled our new pool with water last August I was nearly paralyzed with anxiety over it. Cali could not swim even a little bit and she was not at all afraid of the water. If the gate was open she ran for the deep end and jumped in with out any reservation or concern for her life. I was in a constant state of alertness as to where she was, where the pool key was and even if she was just playing out back with the lock on the gate, I felt panicked. As winter rolled in and the water in the pool turned icy, my fear increased, I could hardly look at the pool without thinking horrible thoughts about dark, freezing water and drowning accidents. And then as swim season started this year I did not let Cali near the pool without these huge floats strapped on to her and me with in arms reach. And by the way, she knew how to wiggle her little self right out of these floats so they didn't give me a whole lot of comfort.





































But almost everyday Brylee took Cali out to swim. Sometimes for 20 minutes and sometimes for hours. They practiced, and played and did lessons.





































And little by little Cali learned to swim. She is a full swimmer now, and can make it from one end to the other and back with out any trouble.

I don't worry so much about the pool anymore.

Brylee is my hero. I lover her so.