Saturday, December 31, 2016

Names and Stuff :)

I have made a few gaffs with the Christmas ornaments 
that I give the kids each year.
As in, I have given the same one to a child 2 years in a row.
Shocking, I know, given my intense attention to detail (that was a joke for my husband to chuckle at).
This time I did it with Hannah's gift from Santa--
but luckily not the ornaments ha ha!
(Because who doesn't want two Gregor the Overlander 
complete book sets, am I right?)
Have I mentioned how awesome being 51 is?
Anywho, for this year's ornament, 
I decided to commemorate each child's namesake.

Michaela Lauren, named after her father, Michael Lawrence, received this one:

Bethany Emma, named after her great grandma Emma Lavon, received this one:

Elijah King, named after my dad, Larry King:

Hannah Nicolena, named after her great, great, 
Grandma, Nicolena Hansen: 

 And William Michael, named after his great Grandpa, 
William Theodore:
 He was obviously named after his dad too, but Michael already has a namesake and so....

Yep, they have a great legacy of awesomeness to be inspired by.
I feel the presence of these wonderful ancestors of mine often.
They love these kids like I do.
And I'm grateful for all the help I can get.

Happy New Year. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Bingo With the Eskimos.

Every single year, without fail, 
the Brown family Christmas party happens. 
This year, it was my turn to host.
Oh, the pressure. :)
I jest. 
It's pretty low key and lots of fun.
This year did not disappoint.
The highlight is ALWAYS the traditional game of Eskimo Bingo.
We have an adult version and a "kid" version. 
There are not many "kids" left--
they are all approaching adulthood toooo fast. 
Nonetheless, if you are 18 or younger, you are a kid.
Kyle was the gag gift giver in the kids version this year.
He exceeded all expectations... 

And we are beginning to believe the rumors that Steve is paying my mom to choose him each year.
He was the gag gift this year, 
and way too many previous years to count....
He is even recycling his gag gift--
It's the gift that keeps on giving...

Michaela was the lucky recipient :)


 Judie seems much happier to receive it  than Michaela :)

It really was a great night of family and happiness.

 We were super happy to have with us the newly returned ILP teacher, Cassidy, 
fresh from her stint in Nanjing, China.

 Who has better hair in this pic?

 Don't let my happy face fool you---

I am super intense about my Eskimo Bingo.
My strategy for this year: avoid Michael and Steve's gifts at all cost. 
Those two have had the gag gift more times than I'm comfortable with.

 Notice the sense of smug calm on Steve's face as he reaches for a present? 
He knows he has no chance of ending up with the gag gift....

 This game gets seriously loud.

 Jake, being delightful...

Will, doing heaven knows what...

 Cody and Justine's first Christmas party as a married couple :)

 Grandma Tomi, praying for something good...

Michael and Julie ( I'm running out of captions...)

And finally, the night was capped off by these two:

Cassidy shared some sweet, faith promoting experiences from China. It's always fun to see how much these teachers change 
in the four months that they have been gone.
It was wonderful to hear her stories.

 And Jordan shared with us last year's Christmas in Mexico.
It was really beautiful to hear his experience of rejection after rejection on Christmas Eve, no one wanting hear a message about Jesus on that night. But it turned out to be his most meaningful Christmas ever. Loved that message.

And that's the wrap-up.
Food, family, and fun once again.
The Brown Family Christmas Party 
is officially adjourned until next year.

May it be a good one.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Chapter Two

I love my dad.
Over the years I have saved each and every letter he has written me.
Seven years in Africa gave us lots of opportunities for letters --
every single one was profound to me.
I don't get many letters anymore, the last one was a few years ago at Girls Camp.
I spent my solo hike with the sweetest letters 
from my dad and my mom. 
Saved those too, right in my scriptures and I reread them often.
Yesterday I got another one. Sort of.
It was email with a photo copied chapter from a book in the works--one about their time in Africa.
I read it and cried- just a little- cuz I'm trying to fix that problem :)
But it was beautiful.
I hope he doesn't mind if I share:

On this day that we celebrate the beginning of the ultimate sacrifice of a parent- 
I am incredibly grateful for a father who taught me to love my Heavenly Father and Savior,
not only in word, but mostly in deed. 
I give you an A+ too.
Love you Dad.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Jesus First. Period. The End.

It might appear that I am a little worshipful of my religion teacher.
That's not really true.
I just value anything and anyone who helps point me to Christ--and he is so good at that.

Our last class of the semester was really emotional.
It was one of those where I needed to find a bathroom and have a good cry.
I didn't but I needed to.
We talked about Jesus and how He taught hard things.
Some of His teachings were soft and gentle and some were hard and uncomfortable.
Mercy and Justice.
That is who He is.
And our relationship with Him trumps everything.

We focused on Matthew 10:
 He that loveth his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
I am come to set mother against daughter. 
Hard words.
And I cried.

But I am learning to love Him more deeply as I persevere through heartache and heartbreak.
And I am learning that it's not God's job to keep me happy.
I get to live and experience hard things like the Savior did--but joy is a choice.
And a responsibility.

And so, as the semester, as well as the year, ends, it's been one of great lessons.
Painful lessons.
And joyful ones.
The best one of all is wrapped up in this quote from Bro. Bartholomew:

"Jesus first. Period. The end."

Shabbat Shalom.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Monday Mike.

I started working at the new Provo City Center Temple about 8 months ago.
Lesser known fact: Michael works there too.
Just like the man, his service is a little unconventional.
Because his day job is so unpredictable, he is unable to commit to a regular shift during temple hours. However, he decided he would just start showing up on Monday nights to help clean with the assigned volunteer wards.
The first time he went, they shuffled him in with the volunteers.
Same with the second time.
By the third Monday, they started to take notice.
They began giving him "special" assignments, where he was unsupervised, doing a project.
And then one night he came home elated because they gave him a walkie talkie. Oh the joy!
Now, every week, he has a project- some that take him into the deep recesses of the temple.
Super cool to him. :)
They have offered him a permanent position, offered to hire him for money- yep, they love him.
But no, no money. He just wants to show up every Monday night and serve. He loves it.

A couple of months ago they made him his own badge:

And on the back:

Ha! And just so you know, Tuesday through Sunday Mike is just as awesome!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jump Start.

Five days before Thanksgiving, the tree came out.
There was a little bit of grumbling from he who shall not be named (but I'm married to him ).
"BEFORE Thanksgiving?" he says...

Definitely yes.

Monday, November 28, 2016


Okay, here is another post that should be rich with pictures of food. 
It's not.
I don't know what's happening to me. Maybe my mind is expanding to things beyond food.
Highly unlikely.
But just know we had wonderfully, delicious food, especially pie.
It's my belief that the Thanksgiving menu should really be just pie--but I guess others don't agree with me. 
Beyond food, we had a wonderful get together. 
Julie asked us all to bring a list of things that we were grateful for this past year. 
It was sweet to hear. Some were simple and some were deep. Just perfect.
After all that food and gratitude, we hit the movies, splitting up between Moana, and Fantastic Beasts. 
I discovered that a full tummy and a dark movie theater with reclining seats don't make for an alert movie watching experience. So what I saw of Moana, I liked. The music was especially wonderful. 

Rare smiles from these two...

 The Kaneshiro, Cook, and Singer gals...

 Always good for a picture...

 Zachary sharing his gratitude :)

 Julie listening...

 Christine, dreaming about someone awesome apparently....

 Steve's gratitude list was a doozy. Kept us smiling for sure.

Cameron and Lynnea


 I can't remember what was on that paper...his thankful list?

 And just like that he was out.

 Michaela : Peace out.

Anyway, Thanksgiving has come and gone, it was wonderful, 
and its now the race to Christmas.
Good Luck :) 

Best New Christmas album discovery:

 Take a listen to this track featuring the Mo Tab :

Sunday, November 27, 2016

3 Things.

I cannot overstate how much I love my religion classes. 
They have been a soft place to land in my world that is a little chaotic right now.
My Tuesday night class is a Book of Mormon class. It is food for the soul.
My Wednesday night class is Foundations of the Restoration. It is my brain and spirit connection.
I love them both.
I have learned sooooo much.
I have been taught three things that have made a big, maybe even huge, difference in my discipleship.
Bro. Bartholomew teaches with the spirit in a huge way, and so me, trying to recount them here, might fall a little flat but here goes anyway:

1) The Sacrament: Every single week you need to feel the renewed remission of your sins. You should feel it, and know it. It 's not a passive process- before partaking, you make yourself right with God, and right with anyone else that you are not right with.  Is there anything in my relationship with God or any individual that needs to be repaired? Then do it. Is there something I should be doing to strengthen my relationship with God? He will tell you. Then ask Him to help you feel that remission of your sins as you participate in the Sacrament. It's powerful and it's possible. Really.

2) Prayer: The Lord's Prayer is a great pattern for prayer (3 Nephi 13:9-13).  Bro. Bartholomew invited us to follow this pattern and see if it could make a difference to us. 
First: Give honor and glory to the Father. Sincerely.
Second: Ask to know the Father's will. Instead of giving Him your list, try asking for a list from Him.
Third: Forgiveness- "Who do I need to forgive?" Ask Him to help you examine your heart. What do you need to empty it of? And then ask for forgiveness for yourself.
Fourth:  Prayer for power over the adversary- for ourselves, for our family. Constantly and specifically. We don't do that as much as we should.
Fifth: Give glory again to the Father. Glory to begin with, and glory to end with. 

Though it seems like other things are being left out, like the thankful part, it comes naturally as you follow this pattern. It's surprising and amazing. 

3) Focus on Jesus, always.  This might be the hardest to explain so I will share the email I shared with my sister in my attempt to explain it to her:

We have been studying the sermon on the mount in 3rd Nephi. We study it very painstakingly. Sometimes we only cover 2 verses in an hour and a half class. Last night, towards the end of class, the teacher says something like this: “Jesus is just trying to teach us to focus on heaven—to focus on HIM. Period. If I were Satan I would do my best to distract you with the earth. Temporal things. He went on to list some of the obvious temporal things: money, careers, etc. Then he said something like this: “ Sometimes we are distracted by things that aren't so obvious. Let me say something at the risk of maybe offending some of you—but this is not the Church of the family. We do not worship the family, we worship the Savior. However, sometimes family becomes one of our biggest distractions. We have children or siblings who are wayward and it becomes all we can think about. Our focus becomes fixed on them and we have taken the focus off of the Savior. When we become consumed with worry and sorrow we tell the Savior in effect, ' I don't believe in your promises. I don't believe in the covenants I made with you.' We choose to be fearful over faithful. If we keep our eye single to Him, (and keep our family second), then, our eye, being single to Him, fills our whole body with light. We are much more able to help our struggling family members when we are filled with light rather than worry.”

This was HUGE to me. As I prayed and thought about it to know if that really was true, I felt a great burden lifted. That's really all I can say about this. 

So there. Isn't the gospel wonderful? There are many ways to live it-- these just really resonated with me and make my life richer and my spirit more fulfilled. 

Life is good. 

Joy to the World :)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Oh Monday.

On Monday, I tried to make my new obsession, a Piecaken.
Piecaken is a pie, baked inside of a cake.
I know, right?????

Chocolate Raspberry Piecaken
Pie was coming in a big way on Thursday, I knew that.
But it was not Piecaken 
and I needed to know if it could really be that good.
So I tried.
I baked a Pumpkin Pie inside of a spice cake.

 And then I dropped it.

So I patched and frosted it,

and for the record- it was delicious.