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!