Friday, July 15, 2016

And Just Like That They Are Back...

Well, maybe not just like that...
It took a 3 hour flight to Houston
 and a 24 hour drive from Houston...
But now, summer vacation includes a sweet, sweet visit 
from our adopted family :)

 Love these girls!

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Few Words About Girls Camp That Are Entirely Too Personal But I'm Sharing Anyway.

I am no stranger to Girls Camp.
As near as I can remember, I have been to camp for the last 7 years straight.
Last fall when I was released from the Stake Young Women's presidency, I was almost giddy with the thought that I would not be going to Girls Camp the next year.
No guilt about those feelings, I had definitely done my time.
And so, no one was more surprised than me
when I was called as the ward Camp Director again this year.
The bigger surprise was that I felt happy about it.
Not sure why- maybe it was because I have been to camp with Hannah every single year since she was old enough to go.
It probably was partly that- but now I know it went deeper.
It's been a rough year. And I suspect it's just going to get rougher.
Without going into details, my soul has felt shredded.
So much so that I was having a hard time feeling anything but the hurt.
I was a little frustrated by my inability to feel much from God.
I knew He was there but I couldn't feel Him.
When I knelt to pray- I would do nothing but cry and so praying became hard for me.
I was sooo tired of crying.
One day as I was working in the temple I told Him how sad I was that I couldn't feel Him.
In essence His answer was this: I can't communicate with you when you are in so much distress. 
It is blocking the spirit's ability to comfort you. Let me take it from you.
I wanted so badly to let that happen-but I couldn't figure out how.
And then came Girls Camp.
On the first day of camp, they gave us a paper that helped us set some goals to grow spiritually at camp.
The only thing I wanted was to feel Heavenly Father wrap His arms around me
and let me give away the pain.
I just wanted to feel His love.
And it happened.
Every. Single. Day.
By the time Girls Camp ended I felt like I could breathe again.
Five days of nothing but learning and talking about the gospel and God's love
brought amazing healing to me.
Each day I felt God's love in a sweet and powerful way.
And every day since camp, as I pray, study the scriptures, and let the temple permeate my soul, I feel the power of the atonement healing, comforting, and strengthening me.
I love Jesus. I LOVE Him.
And most importantly, I can feel right down inside my broken but healing heart, that He loves me more.
And that is why I love Girls Camp :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Happiness in June.

June weddings are awesome. 
I had one and so I can testify :)
But last week we experienced another awesome one: 
    Cody and Justine's.

Just a few short months ago 
he returned from the Texas,Lubbock mission. 
Justine was his high school girlfriend 
and apparently was still interested.
Gotta love happy endings.
Or happy beginnings.

And five sisters were in the same state for a few days!
More happiness.

A happy day for these proud parents.
They seriously don't look old enough
to have married children, am I right?

All the best Cody and Justine.
Congratulations :)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Dinner on a Sunday.

It's been awhile since we have had a Sunday dinner with the the two Washingtonian sisters but yesterday it happened. :) 
All 5 of us girls together and we did not take ONE picture together. Ugh.
However, it was a great evening despite that misfortune. 

 Janis brought her famous dry ice Root Beer. 
No matter how old they get, the fascination is the same.

 We met the newest member of the Woolf family--Jones Parker.
Cuteness to die for!

 And speaking of cuteness, big sis Drue has just as much 
and then some :)

And some  more cuteness....

...and then not so much.
(wink, wink)

                       Food and family are my two favorite things...

Cuz it doesn't get much better than a brownie ice cream sandwich surrounded by the people I love most in the world.

Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Heather from Iowa.

True friend: someone who will loan you her brand new, 
never- been- used toothbrush* at Girls Camp 
because, you know, you forgot yours, 
and then proceed to use it after you, without flinching.

   Yep, true friendship.

 *A new toothbrush for me was brought up to camp immediately.
Heather continued to use "our" toothbrush the entire week. :)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Truth.

After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles without “a single synagogue or sword” to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live.
                                                                         Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
                                                                        The First Great Commandment

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday.

Perhaps one of my favorite testimonies of the Atonement
 and the Sacrament is from the recently returned
 and newly engaged Elder Backus (my nephew).
I have made it part of my sacrament preparation each week. 
On this Good Friday, it seems appropriate to share.

Like many of us, he had been struggling to find spiritual renewal in sacrament meeting amidst all of the distractions that can come in ward meetings. As a missionary, he had lots of concerns about how to overcome those distractions that were out of his control, and truly feel the peace that should come from taking the sacrament. In his personal studies he came to a powerful conclusion:

 “In the 27th chapter of Matthew, we read of two Jewish prisoners. The first, Barabbas, was guilty of sedition and murder, clear and severe offenses to the Jewish law. Under that same law, Barrabas' fate was set; he was to be put to death. The second prisoner, Jesus, had been accused of high treason, but after examination by both Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate, had been found innocent of such a charge.

During the Feast of the Passover, it was customary for the governor, Pilate, to release one prisoner according to his wish. After comparing the two candidates, the answer was simple; Jesus Christ was undoubtedly innocent and therefore should be released. Beginning in verse 20, however, it says, “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. Pilate, they all said unto him, let him be crucified. And the governor said “why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more saying, let him be crucified. Then released he Barrabas unto them and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Against all justice and logic, the guilty prisoner was set free and the innocent son of God was sent to die.

Amidst the noise of squirmy toddlers, cell phone distractions and perhaps even wandering thoughts, this account is replayed every week of our lives in our sacrament meetings. Each one of us, through the week, fall short of keeping all of the commandments. Each Sunday we are presented at the sacrament altar as the guilty prisoner in need of punishment. But each week, the Savior offers himself, in the form of bread and water and takes our place. We humbly promise to try to do better this next week and then we, like Barrabas, are set free.

He concludes by saying:

When we truly understand and look forward to the sacredness and importance of the sacrament, no matter what the circumstances are around us, we can guarantee ourselves a spiritually renewing experience at church.

May your Easter weekend be renewing and filled with the hope that comes from the Resurrection.