Back when all my friends had trickled off this way and that for church missions, college, or armed forces.
I don't know what it is about receiving an unexpected letter or card in the mail, but it trumps everything.
Happy dance on the sidewalk.
You know what I'm saying.
Over the years email has become mainstream communication, but it still doesn't quite add up to level of excitement of a hand written note in the mailbox. Aside from the email I received from The Man as our very first communication:
"Hi there, I've been wanting to send you an introduction but I can never think of just what to say. So what the hey... hello :).ha ha.
Hope to hear from you soon."
He has a way with words, doesn't he? (Full story on how we met here). He had me hook, line, and sinker.
So aside from that, some of my most precious words have been received through the snail mail system. I keep them in a drawer in my dresser and refer back to the kind and loving things that were written to me by family, friends, and neighbors over the years.
It's like a piece of them straight to my heart.
Over the past year I've done a couple of posts saying if anyone needed a "pick me up" to like or comment on the status and I would say something I liked about them. Because sometimes you just need to hear a kind word. The posts have always been well received and I've been so grateful to tell my friends and family there on facebook how much I love and admire them. We often complain how much is lost through social media, but I feel these types of posts bring a little something back in way of a renewed connection.
The point of this post is 1. snail mail is cool, and 2. everyone likes the hear a kind word every now and then.
I found myself thinking about another Stake Conference that had been pivotal in my life.
During my divorce I had moved in temporarily with my Brent-Dad and Julie-Mom. It was a temporary solution. I was, of course, struggling emotionally and spiritually. I was walking away from a marriage that should have been eternal but ended up being mentally and emotionally abusive and oppressive, and had asked more from me than I should have had to give. Even so, it hadn't been an easy decision for me to walk away from it.
I was having a hard time finding a job. I didn't have a finished degree (the reason I'm pushing so hard to finish it now, I'll never be so unprepared for life again) and I had an eight year gap in my resume from being a stay-at-home mom. The mental adjustment from being a stay-at-home mom to a single, working mom wasn't an easy one for me and it added to the situation. I was cleaning houses on the side where I could with my sister, McKell, but had nothing substantial to provide for my girls.
A neighbor reached out to me one weekend and invited me to attend Stake Conference with her. I don't know if she was acting on a prompting or if she was simply tying to be a nice neighbor to the new person in the ward, but I will forever be grateful for her invite.
The Stake Conference was being held in a conference center and I rode with my neighbors there. I can't remember anything that was said in that conference, but I do remember that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the twelve Apostles was the concluding speaker. To be honest, I can't even tell you what he spoke about, but at the conclusion of his talk he proclaimed that he felt the need to leave an Apostolic blessing.
Though I was sitting in a large conference center, full of people, that moment became an intimate one for me that it could have been just Elder Holland and I having a private conversation. I knew in that moment, despite who else might be needing it, this was for me.
Elder Holland went on to bless fathers, mothers, and children with all the wonderful characteristics that fathers, mothers and children should have.
Then he said, essentially, to those of you who are struggling: He knows you. He hears you. And He has already provided a way.
A few weeks later I was offered a job with a company that took very good care of me and my girls for the next few years, even with a recession. And within the same hour of being offered the job, my application for an apartment was accepted.
I had the things I needed to take care of my girls.
I'm no apostle, but I can testify to you that He does know you.
He knows you. He hears you. He has already provided a way.
And I have a firm testimony of the spirit and personal answers that can come from attending Stake Conference.
As with everything we do in the Young Women's program, we try to strike the balance between spiritual and fun (because that's exactly what living the gospel is... both spiritual and fun) and I always try to make sure that what we're doing isn't going to "waste the time" of the young women. We leaders have busy lives, but so do the young women and the fact that they take time out of their schedules to come be with us mid-week means a lot. I feel it needs to be quality, because that's what's going to keep those girls coming. And quality can be taken in many different directions, but it's something I keep in mind.
For Young Women's in Excellence we decided to hold an awards show.
We stole the idea from a pin on Pinterest (here, original post here) and then made it our own.
For invitations we printed the information off and glued it to the front of a glittery star that we bought from a party store.
We pooled our resources for decorations, using Christmas lights, star banners from the party store, red plastic tablecloths for the red carpet, and we tied cardboard stars to the bottom of balloons so they would float overhead-ish.
I drew this year's mutual theme on the chalkboard.
The invitations told the girls to dress up for the awards show.
Since we knew we were using stars and lights for the decorations we settled on a "light" theme for the award "trophies."
We bought flashlights from the dollar store, spray painted them gold, and then topped them so when they were turned on they would shine in a star shape.
To make the flashlight toppers I simply traced the flashlight on black cardstock, cut out the circle, and then used a star hole punch on the center. I used gold craft glitter and modge podge to paint the circle so it would be gold and glittery. Once it dried I just used a hot glue gun to glue it to the flashlight.
We opened our awards ceremony by telling the parents some of the projects we had worked together on as a group. We also pointed out the display table where we had the values in frames, and the young women had placed items that they were working on, or represented things they had done. We then encouraged everyone to clap as we went through our program because we really wanted to celebrate the progress that was being made.
We tried to do it like they do on awards shows. We had a "performance" and the presented some awards. Then had another performance, and then more awards.
Award presentations: Category: Faith; Category Divine Nature
We created envelopes out of scrapbook paper and stickers. We decided beforehand who would get an award in which category and why. On a black cardstock card we glued the value scripture and saying which we read, and then said, "And the award goes to..."
We would open the envelope and announce the winner.
After wild applause from the audience we would then explain why, or retell a story or experience that had been the reason for choosing the award for that girl. We gave her the card with her name, and a flashlight (turned on).
Other performances we had were a young woman played her violin, and all the young women as a group recited The Living Christ from memory. We had been working to memorize it on Sundays for this very reason, and used the experience to pass of the Faith project for personal progress.
The other leaders also surprised me by presenting me with my honor bee that I had earned. We also gave a special thank you to our advisor who had been in charge of personal progress through out the year.
We interspersed all those things with the rest of the value categories, making sure that each category had at least one award winner in it.
When we were finished we played a slideshow of all the pictures we had taken through activities, girl's camp, and youth conference through out the year.
We had a closing prayer and refreshments were fruit, sugar cookies, and rice krispie treats to dip into a chocolate fondue.
My heart is full after doing this with the young women last night. We really did have a lot of fun cheering everyone's accomplishments on, and the musical numbers and reciting of The Living Christ brought the spirit on strongly along with it.
I'm thankful to be able to serve in such a capacity. It fills me to overflowing.
One of our young women said it best at the very end when she declared, "On to another year! I can't wait!"
Just some of our young women and leaders. We have the best bunch around.
This post was originally written and posted on April 13, 2008.
It's not very often I get to run off and be with out The Circus.
Which, generally, is fine.
They're my girls and I'm glad to be their mom. It's something I will always be glad I did, despite how things went with my ex-husband.
But... this weekend I got to run away... kidless.
It was amazing.
If I felt like taking a nap... I did.
Of course, with two and a half days of playing and riding four wheelers, the only pictures we took were sitting in the trailer.
West (boyfriend of two months) invited me to go to the sand dunes with him and his group of friends. Neither of us took our kids.
I'll have to admit that at times I felt lost because I didn't know what to do with myself. (West admitted to feeling the same with out his kids), but it was such a great trip.
I learned a couple of things that were very important for me to learn.
I don't think I'll ever know how exactly deep the way my ex-husband acted towards me is embedded in what I think and how I react.
I got nervous when time came to sit around the campfire with all of West's friends... bad things happened when I did this with my ex-husband.
It wasn't fun, being either the attention he put to other girls and the pushing me onto his friends or the starting of the verbal abuse. Campfires became a time of dreaded anticipation for me.
Going out with West and his friends... the campfire was actually fun. I laughed and talked and generally enjoyed the time there. West was completely content to be with me, and in no way willing to "share" me with anyone else.
What a strange concept.
I was completely at ease with him.
Another thing I learned is that he isn't going to tear down everything I try to do that I'm not good at. I didn't want him riding on the back of the four wheeler while I drove, it made me nervous having him there and I didn't want to know what he would say about it. I knew it was something he's extremely good at, but I'm not at all. I was afraid he'd get exasperated by my lack of skill and with the decisions I would make as I drove.
He wasn't like that at all.
He was so supportive.
I don't even think I realized my ex-husband made me that nervous until I faced that situation with someone else and those feelings were suddenly there.
I told West how I felt and that I wasn't comfortable with him being on behind me while I drove. But he didn't let me get away with feeling that way. He climbed on and said he didn't care, I was still driving, and managed to put me at ease.
This entire weekend with him ranks at the top of my favorite memories list now.
What ever happens between West and me, I'm glad for the time with him. He's a great guy, with great kids, and he's great with my girls.
It's a good place to be right now.
West's dad came down on Saturday. After dinner West went outside and I sat at the table with his dad, Mike, talking. He told me dating stories and we laughed.
This was the first post ever written on this blog. I wanted to keep track of my life, the details of it, and so that's what I first wrote about it: the daily grind. This post was originally written and posted on April 10, 2008.
Divorced... with kids.
Someone should make a TV series out of it.
I'll admit switching gears from stay at home mom to working mom hasn't been easy. I'm still trying to get the hang of it. The routines are different and there is so little time to spare.
I'm up at 5:00 a.m., the girls are up at 6:30, and we're out of the house by 7:30.
Off to daycare where thankfully they eat breakfast because if I had to add just one more thing in the morning we'd never make it out of the house on time.
I say I wake up at 5:00, but realistically I'm rolling out of bed an hour later at 6:00.
Mornings are not my friend.
Some how, miraculously, all five of us are ready to go in an hour and half.
(Maybe I won't mention that sometimes this means compromise to avoid arguments, like Cali (3 years old) wearing her dance out fit and snow boots to daycare).
I can usually drop the girls off at 7:45 and make it in to work aby 7:55-ish, where I get to answer the phone (Thank you for calling Burt Brothers, this is Stephanie...) and scan my life away... one paper at a time.
I only have seven overflowing inboxes...
Lunch time is errands. If it weren't for that one sacred hour of the day I would get nothing done. I squeeze as many little errands into that one hour as I possibly can. This includes grocery shopping.
I start the count down for 5:00 at about 2:30, when finally I can hit the gym (more daycare for the kids, but they like all the friends they're making). The gym is the one thing in my life that I do for completely selfish reasons.
I do it for me.
Of course, this means dinner at 7:00, and somehow we squeeze in homework, baths, and story time to make it to bed by 8:00.
Not me, the girls.
After the girls are in bed, I get to do laundry and dishes and any other miscellaneous cleaning jobs like mopping and picking up stray toys.
This post was originally written and published on November 19, 2008.
I think back to a year ago when I was living in my birth-dad's house. I had $500 a month to my name and four little girls to take care of on that.
I marvel at how extremely blessed I am to be where I am now.
I just can not emphasize how happy I am!
I have my girls,
a new car,
a great job where I've already been promoted and training in new things,
(the dating scene hasn't been too bad either)
and I'm buying a house.
I've come such a long way in one year.
Life is good, and I have been so blessed!
Check out this great online tour of the house. I should say though, anything can always happen so I'm trying very hard to stay level headed about this until we actually close and I have the keys in my hand. Right now closing is set Dec 15 to give the family time to move out. But as far as I've been told my application will be fine with the lender and I've paid my earnest money and we're under contract with it.