Friday, February 28, 2014

What it Means to be "Big Time" at the Gilbert Temple Open House

Witnessing the temple construction and soon to be dedication of the Gilbert Temple has been a landmark experience in my life.  Everything from participating in teaching music to the youth for the cultural celebration, to watching the cranes and the Angel Moroni being put in place, has left a mark on my heart. 
I'm not going to lie, though, there was a moment that was hard for me in all of this.  That moment came after the visitor's trailer was closed and the temple was completed.  One morning my kids wanted to drive past the temple, which was a normal thing for us to do - we had gone so many times over the last few years that we quit signing the visitor's book & and quit keeping track of our visits.  We even quit taking pictures on some of our trips, because it had become "our spot" and we knew that this was "our temple" and this was "our normal".   Finally, the "No Visitors Past this Point" signs were removed and the road was extended around the temple and church building.  We were excited about this new development and wanted to see where the new road would go around the property of the temple - we were just as excited to see the special road as we were when we saw the circle windows going in, or the stone panels being secured in place, or the grass being installed.  However, on this particular day, the very place we had been so familiar with as frequent visitors became the very place we were turned away.  
I pulled onto the road, following a little car, and a large vehicle like a garbage truck was behind me.  I saw many cars parked up and down this road that I was on.  I noticed there was now a median and each side of the median had a one-way path to drive on.  I was about 20 feet past the gate when I saw a security guard, and she asked me what I was doing.  I told her we were just driving by the temple.  She alerted the person above her in command, "Oh no!  We have visitors. I'm sorry ma'am, you can't drive any further."  I told her that wasn't a problem and that I would quickly flip a U at the first available spot, which was about 30 feet farther.  "Oh no!  I can't let you do that.  You have to back up."  I was like "What?"  That's when Emmett piped up from the back seat, "This was a bad idea!"  She literally made me pull forward about 15 to 20 feet to parallel park in order to let the work truck behind me move on through, and even though I was that much closer to the spot that I could U-turn, she stopped all other incoming traffic, walked into THE MAIN ROAD ON GREENFIELD and halted traffic as I BACKED OUT the way I came, apologizing through my open window to the other security guard who not-so-sympathetically shook his head, and pulled out in reverse to join the main traffic.  I couldn't even say thank you as I shifted into drive, because she was telling me to hurry along. In case you didn't catch how hysterically comical it was, let me say this one more time:  THE TRAFFIC ON THE MAIN ROAD GOT HALTED JUST FOR ME TO BACK OUT OF THE GATES!  I was so confused!  Even now it makes me laugh!  If a news truck had been there they would have reported: "GILBERT TEMPLE SECURITY BREACH:  MORMON MOM AND KIDS IN A MINI-VAN TRY TO SNEAK A PEAK!"
There were no tears, or ill will, not even anger or sass because they should have had the No Visitor's Sign still up. 
I just experienced a little shock and mortification That is all. 
Later I found out there was a large singles conference, and many special people were in town; even though the Open House hadn't started, there were scheduled VIP tours happening - hence the heightened security.  I also found out some friends I know got to drive golf-carts that would escort the VIP's and the elderly.  That's when I was tempted to feel little.  There were all these "Big Time" people kicking off the temple tours and in a strange turn of events I had simultaneously become apprehensive about driving anywhere near the temple in case my picture and liscense plate were now listed in the security files.  Haha!
As I discussed these things with my dad, he listened.  Then he shared his own feelings about how there was a part of him that was anxious for all of the hoopla to be over so he could just have his own special moment in the temple, but he knew that wouldn't come until well after the crowds of people and the dedication was over.  I guess you could say that his wish was to have the temple to himself so he could think and feel, and I guess you could say that my wish was that I wanted to feel like a "Big Timer" or a VIP, and that I didn't want to feel "little" when it came to going to the Gilbert Temple.  We also discussed who the people might have been that got to go in early, and without a doubt, every person we imagined who might have been allowed in was someone we thought deserved a special tour - hands down.  For example, I am not sure, but I think the famous blogger who was burned with her husband in a tragic plane crash was given a VIP tour.  I respect her and truthfully, there's no way I would ever choose to trade places with her - she has had so much struggle to endure, and she has had a very difficult path to tread.  I respect her so much, because she has endured her trials well and has inspired millions and millions of people to live better lives - ABSOLUTELY she should have had a chance to see the temple while she was in town.  Other people we imagined who might have been on the early tours were general authorities who dedicate so much time, service, and sacrifice to the people in the church, and lead clergymen from other faiths who were so supportive of us - my heart is full that they would accept an opportunity to have a temple tour and in effect support us in our faith as fellow Christians with an inter-faith camaraderie.   I later read some press releases from journalists who were invited to tour the temple early, and I'm telling you, they did so much good by the reports they've written to unify the community of believers in regards to our common faith in Christ - I am thrilled that they and everyone else who were given that privilege were able to have that experience.  Basically as I sifted through what I was feeling, I knew I wasn't upset that there were VIPs and that I wasn't one of them.  But even though it's a unique experience to have traffic on the main road halted solely for your lonesome little self and not many people can brag about that, it STILL wasn't EXACTLY what I had in mind for my own special temple memory. 
I knew I just needed to be patient for January 18th when I had my own temple tour reserved.
The public tours finally came, and without a doubt, I know the Lord pays attention to the details of our lives and that He knows the desires of our hearts. 
A few days into the open house, my parents were able to take two of my younger siblings on a temple tour in the morning.  My dad says he doesn't even know how it was able to work out this way, but when they were in the temple, for whatever reason, there was a space in front of them and a space behind them, and he said it felt like they had the entire temple to themselves.  They were able to take their time, feel peace, and enjoy their very own special moment that ended up being more than they had hoped for.  And it was powerful - I could feel the Spirit of their experience when I happened to arrive at their house shortly after they returned from their tour.  They brought home with them peace, and strength, and longing for things eternal.
Come to find out, I would have my inner most desires fulfilled, too!  At the end of our very first temple tour with Mitch & the kids on January 18th, would you believe that there was a golf-cart sitting at the end of the side-walk leading to the parking lot?  Yes, a golf-cart that was intended for VIPs (and the elderly...but we're not elderly).  We were going to walk past it when the kind man sitting at the wheel said with a smile, "Would you like a ride?"  My boys were so excited, and this time I had a little shock of a different kind.  Mitch told me to pile on with the kids and he grabbed the camera and chased after us to make the kids laugh.  
That was the ride of a life-time - the wind swirling in our faces and through our hair, happy smiles all around, and the peaceful feeling inside reminding me that to God, ALL of His children are "Big Time".  I was so caught up in the beauty of the moment with my family, that we only had a chance to say thank you to the driver before he zoomed away.  We tried driving back to where he was to ask him his name, but we couldn't catch him as he was busy shuttling off another cart full of VIP's to their vehicles. 
 I just wanted to tell him that of anyone I've ever met, he's my definition of someone who is "Big Time" because he makes others feel important and special.  I know he was an instrument in the Lord's hands that day, as the Lord spoke to me in His very own way.  

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Tonight I was driving by the Gilbert Temple, and it seemed to shine a little more brightly.  I promise - it really seemed to have an extra glow.  Just across the street from the temple today, thousands of youth from our temple district were practicing for the Gilbert Temple Cultural Celebration--ALL DAY LONG.  They have been working for months, and I am so proud of them as they're bringing all their hard work from their respective regions together! 

The music for the Gilbert Temple Cultural Celebration is so inspired, and I'm telling you, every single youth who has participated has their testimonies shining a little more brightly, too.  Rosanne Tidwell is the leader of it all, and she is definitely the woman for the job - she has written the script & most of the music, she has motivated large numbers of people, she has shared love with everyone from the get-go, and she has helped be an instrument in the Lord's hands for enacting a miracle.  Never before in the church has there been a temple cultural celebration this large, with this many youth.  She and the executive committee are doing an excellent job with this once-in-a-life-time opportunity to turn the hearts of the youth in this temple district towards the Lord & to truly help them understand what building temples is all about.

I was fortunate to be given the assignment to teach the music to the youth in our ward in preparation for the Cultural Celebration. It has been a time commitment, but more rewarding than anything.  I already loved these kids, but boy do I love them more, and I pray they will internalize these messages and be stalwart, faithful, and true members of the church for the rest of their lives.  I hope they will always remember who they are and know that they are the children of Abraham, that they are of the house of Israel, and that the Lord himself knows who they are and wants to bless them with all the same blessings of the chosen people in the scriptures.  I hope that when they are down, or when they need inspiration in their lives, that THESE SONGS will come back to them & call to their remembrance the things that they know and believe in, and that they'll feel the TRUTH that the Lord lives and loves them.  This experience has been electrifying for all of us, and the actual day hasn't even happened, yet! 

Here are some snapshots of the music we've been singing from the Gilbert Temple Cultural Celebration (some are hymns, some are by Rosanne, some are by others, but all the messages are powerful):

Shall the youth of Zion falter in defending truth and right?  If the enemy assaileth, shall we shrink or shun the fight?  NO!  True to the faith that our parents have cherished, true to the truth for which martyrs have perished! To God's command, soul HEART and HAND, faithful and TRUE, we will ever stand!  #LIVETRUEGILBERT!

I choose this day!  I choose the person I will be.  Will I fear man? Deny who I am and what I believe? Will I stand strong, and turn my back to Babylon?  I find my strength when I kneel to pray.  I will follow the Lord!  I choose THIS day!

Toma, toma mi mano, y ven con mingo a un mundo mejor, un mundo, sin tres tezas, y ven conmigo a un mundo de amor!

I love you Arizona - desert dust on the wind, the sage and cactus are blooming, and the smell of the rain on your skin!  Oooooh, Arizona, you're the magic in me.  Ooooooh, Arizona, you're the life-blood of me!

We'll be TRUE to the God of Abraham!  His name is written IN OUR HEARTS!  His spirit guides us, he stands beside us, a nation set apart!  We'll find Zion in the midst of Babylon - "Courage Strong" will be our guide.  The light of promise still shines upon us.  We trust our God!  We're in His hands!  For we're the children of Abraham!

How can I be like my brother Nephi, and my father Lehi of old?  How can I be like Captain Moroni?  And the wars that were told?  How can I be forever, like the promise to the 3 Nephites?  I wanna be Samuel the Lamanite,  I wanna be Benjamin the wise,  I wanna be like Abinidi!  Oh, tell me, HOW can I be like them?  How can I be like Alma the younger, a strong servant of the Lord?  How can I be like mighty Ammon whose heart was the sword?  How can I be a stripling warrior, and learn to fight by faith?  I wanna be Samuel the Lamanite!  I wanna be Benjamin the wise!  I wanna be like Jesus Christ!  Oh tell me, how can I be like Him?

My ward large as it was to work with 60 youth and help them memorize their lyrics was only a SMALL part of what's been happening.  It's been a big deal to me, but we have an entire committee just for our ward, an entire committee just for the stake, then there are regional directors, and then there is the executive committee.  At all of these respective committee levels, we also have a dance specialist, we have a food specialist, we have a secretary, we have a committee chair, we have a props director, we have captains of 10, and MORE!  This has been a major production, but what's amazing is that so many people are doing their parts, and it's creating something that is bigger than us all - it's creating a GIFT to the Lord of our time, talents, and testimonies.

We all had limited time & rehearsals to teach our kids their respective parts before they met with the stake & regional rehearsals.  These kids will be on TV, and they needed to know the lyrics, so I promised them a cinnamon roll party for memorizing their songs by a certain friend Brie showed up to help me, and we made 150 cinnamon rolls for the youth & leaders who took the challenge to learn their lyrics early.  Unfortunately, I planned this on the same day as the Super Bowl, so that ran into some conflicts with the timing of it and whatnot, but in the end it all worked out & Mitchell announced it to the kids as the "SUPER ROLL PARTY", and in the end we had kids making an effort to internalize these messages sooner than later.  For example, my friend Autum texted me & thanked me for doing this.  She said her boys were sitting on the trampoline quizzing each other, and I just felt the Spirit to catch a glimpse of these kids' excitement & dedication.  Another one of our youth told me beforehand that she didn't need a special treat - she just wanted to memorize because she wanted to, not because she had to, and I felt the Spirit of that, too - she came to my party & didn't eat a cinnamon roll b/c she's going without sugar, but that was her way of being a part of it & giving her best efforts anyway.  These are just 2 micro-moments of what the kids are doing and how they've been feeling, and it's been amazing.  Now take those little moments & multiply them by 12,000 youth - so much good is happening in the lives of these kids, you could NEVER quantify the positive ripple effect it is having and will continue to have throughout their lives.  It's been a treasured gift to have an assignment like this, and to be able to say that I've had a small part in it!

Monday, February 17, 2014

When the Grocery Store is Actually Worth It

It's the craziest thing - my best friend from when I was THREE is now a mom, and the both of us have children who are three-years-old(ish). 

You know what she did?  She contacted me and asked me if I'd like to go to THE GROCERY STORE.  Mmm huh.  We're talking FRY'S - the very same grocery store chain that caused me to write this post.  But there's something she's learned in the last 25 years that I obviously hadn't: If you want to avoid having a NIGHTMARE at the grocery store, then don't go there in the middle of the night with coupons and no cash - GO IN THE DAY TIME!  (Truth be told, that real-world nightmare actually ended up earning me money on a monthly basis!  My couponing coach read my blog post and she took pity on me.  Now I have a permanent discount on my monthly subscription to Coupon$ense.  I guess it does pay to blog even though I haven't installed AdSense and haven't been picked up by a blogging publisher.  You have to be THAT bad...i.e. you have to have reached a certain level of pathetic-ness to merit the kind of profit I have earned by documenting my nightmare via blogging.)

At any rate - if I were to play the "who is busier" game with anyone in the world - I might just win.  No one really cares how busy you are, though - they just care about how much you care.  And that's what I thought about my kids when we got invited to the GROCERY STORE TOUR for preschoolers!  I knew I NEEDED to go there for them.  First of all, Angie did all the hard work - I didn't have to do anything but show up.  I did have momentary anxiety playing hookie from all my work responsibilities, but I'm telling you we DID NOT REGRET seizing the day!  And this is why:

We got to cram down a "healthy" breakfast of cinnamon rolls before we rushed out the door.

We were given all kinds of samples in the store - toothbrushes, CHEERIO bags, stickers, etc.

We walked INSIDE the store's FREEZER and found out first-hand what TWO DEGREES feels like!
Emmett quickly marched in and out without any expressions or obvious enjoyment, but afterwards he told me, "I walked out of that freezer and I SHIVERED!"

We got to go through those big, black, employee only doors - we've waited our whole lives to see the back part of a store!

Instead of staring at the lobsters, WE GOT TO PET THEM!

We got to eat snacks under the NAKED sign - haha - I didn't realize that until I uploaded the photos, haha!  This part of the tour was very interesting, because we ate deluxe snacks like cutie oranges, pretzels and turkey, cheese sticks, water, and cookies.  While we were snacking, our tour guide taught us about produce.  I learned that tomatoes weren't originally red & smooth.  You can buy non-GMO, organic tomatoes, but they apparently cost an arm and a leg.  They're yellow or other colors & look funky.

The kids got balloons!

And we got to use the check-out stand!

And use paper money!


I left the store thinking, "I'm sure glad I didn't miss this."  When got in the car and saw that we wore Miles out, it just melted my heart!  I love that he uses Emmett's car seat as a foot rest!  I love that Emmett was happy, too, and it's moments like this that make me love being a mom.  It feels so good to make memories with the kids - that's what life is all about!  Who would have thought that some of the best moments can even come in a grocery store?

The World as They See It

This afternoon, I told Tyson to take the tied up trash bag to the front door.  When I peered around the corner, it was nowhere to be found, and neither was he.   After a while I heard the garage door close & Tyson announced that he threw the trash away.  I asked him if he got the bag all the way in the dumpster, because you know, the dumpster is still taller than he is, and he acted like it was no big deal that he was able to do that.  It's the first time he's ever done that on his own.  I said, "How did you do that by yourself?  It's like you're growing up or something!"  He explained, "Well, you know, I like animals.  So I have half of a grown-up bear's strength, and I have a quarter of my dad's strength!"

I didn't realize how macho my 6 year old is - it looks like I've got a permanent garbage boy - he's HIRED!


Yesterday at church I noticed that Emmett's arm wasn't through the arm-hole of his colorful, pinstriped, dress-shirt.  His wrist was actually through the hole next to the cuff.  I tried to unbutton the cuff so that I could wrap it around his wrist properly, but for the life of me, I couldn't get the buttons to come out of the button holes!  It was so ridiculous.  After 5 minutes, I finally realized that the buttons were sewn on so that NO ONE could EVER unbutton the cuffs.  Boy did I feel stupid.  He watched me intently the entire time I tried to work the buttons.  I finally had Emmett pull him arm back into his shirt and through the arm hole correctly and he informed me, "You need to practice, Mom."

This morning, I woke up to the sweetest little Emmett telling me, "You know, Mom, even though you love me and Tyson, we love you more.  I love you infinity square, infinity square, affinity square, affinity square, affinity square, square, square!"

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Words They Say...

I just came across a sticky note I had written several months ago.  It was night time & I was talking to Emmett about prayer and reasons we should say prayers. Tyson chimed in and took over the discussion as he hung his head over the top bunk to help persuade his little brother to say his prayers.  My notes looked like a poem to me, so I recorded it below as such.  When God hears and answers a child's prayer, it turns into serious business.

I'm Being Serious
  by Tyson

I'm being serious.
I lost my little toy car.
Said a prayer;
Found it.

I felt a little scared
Said a prayer,
And got all couraged up.

I'm being serious.
You can say a prayer -
Anytime, anywhere, any reason.

One night - probably in November or December, we had a Family Home Evening lesson about prophets.  We sang "Follow the Prophet", and clearly Tyson's persuading words sunk into Emmett's heart, because he was enthusiastic about praying this time: "Hemenly Fahver....bless us to follow the prophet and don't go astrange."
During the Christmas Break I pulled up at home with the kids at the end of a long day and they saw our Christmas lights still on, which reminded them that they had recently been to the store with their Daddy.
Tyson:  We saw some icestickle lights for sale at Home Depot!
Mom:  Icestickle?
Tyson:  Icestickles!
Emmett:  Yeah!  Icestickles are like ice cream cone horns made-ed out of snow...or maybe out of ice.
Last night Emmett was pretending to be asleep, and so I teased him while I carried him in the house from the van:
"Aw!  He's so CUTE!"
With his eyes still closed, he pretended to sleep talk with his head on my shoulder,
"You mean awesome?  Never say cute again."
Miles says a lot by his coy little smile.  He's been playing shy lately and will hide his face in his hands when someone he likes and hasn't seen for a while pays attention to my brother Heber the other day, or someone at church, or a grandparent.  He's so cute!  He also says, "Ah" for almost everything.
Hi Miles!
Do you want milk?
What about juice?
Where would you like to sit?  At the table or the counter?
Although he will say "Lalala" for Love you, and today I could tell he was trying to say "Yes"...which is a miracle, because he's REALLY skilled at saying NO - even if he means yes, but most of the time he means no. :)  And by the way, he used to put his forehead to the table when we'd say prayers over the food...yes, it was hilarious...but now he's also really adorable when he bows his head and folds his arms for prayers - such a big boy!