I'm writing this a week late so my memory is a bit hazy, I'll have to rely on the photos to tell the story. Monday Amelia was a fine spirits, Chloe was over to play and have her piano lesson. Abby was also able to come over for 2 hours. Those girls were in high spirits and so energetic. We should've had FHE while the visitors were over! As soon as the girls left, salty Amelia emerged. I planned an FHE lesson on fasting and fast offerings since we are studying about Christ fasting for 40 days. I had circles with fruit or a question on it, spin a bottle to pick your circle. For the fruits we assigned a silly action to do. Grouchy grouch-grouch almost turned me to tears after only a couple minutes. So frustrating! I sent her up to her room until she could be civil. At least we had brownies to snack on. The rest of our Come Follow Me lessons went a bit better, I'm loving all the awesome podcasts from LDSliving and Meridian Magazine. There is a fun seminary level YouTube video lesson from Don't Miss This. So much information. I think we are enjoying doing our weekly scripture journals and discussing the week's lesson on Sunday.
Tuesday I took the little girls out to play at Giggles around 9:40, a great way to kick off Josie's birthday celebration. Josie was bizzering here and there for 2.5 hours. We ended the session with a lovely jump on the tramp. Gabi was quite tired so played for an hour then slept in the front carrier. We invited anyone who could come and celebrate her birthday. Josie was overjoyed that Ezra came to play with her. We had a special lunch at McDonald's with a fun toddler play area. During all the nap times and late nights I hurriedly worked on editing the massive load of wedding photos, there were so many amazing photos. Chloe came home from school with Mia again for an orchestra event at the High School. The girls quickly got a snack, dressed in dressed, and had me fix their hair. They got to play with all the local 6th grader orchestras in the district. The Jr High, High School, and elite groups all performed as well. We arrived just in time to catch Amelia and friends still eating dinner in the foyer. Amelia is so sweet to her sisters, especially Josie. Evelyn brought a tote of art supplies to amuse herself. Everett kept busy sweet talking Abby Standage with Pokemon characters and rules. He is quite the suave talker. Evelyn managed to smuggle a pair of scissors inside her tote. Phillip used the scissors to create two snowflakes during the recital. He left quite the pile of paper under his seat. The High School orchestra performed a lovely suite from Greatest Showman! Brother Standage told Justin a few days later about something his son Wyatt said: Dad, Amelia is a little cute. (dad: what do you mean a little cute?) Ooooookk, she is really cute!
Josie's 3rd birthday was on Wednesday. She loved telling everyone, "It's my birthday! I frwee." The kids riled her up before I could intervene, the promised her birthday doughnuts! Well, we had doughnuts! We drove up to have lunch with Justin at Jimmy John's near his work. Evelyn was so cute and excited. We had to sit outside where it was quite chilly and breezy. I can't use the word windy since the wind here pales in comparison to the Nebraska winds. I hid the bag with her two little gifts, could not find the dang bag. I messed up Amelia's piano lesson time (the teacher changed it to Thursday) so we went to Walmart and bought duplicate gifts instead. I found the dang bag later that evening (thank heavens for returns). Josie helped me make pink cupcakes and frosting. We decorated the treats with Paw Patrol sprinkles and decorations. Once the kids came home from school we hid her big present and let her "open" it. The cute squeals of delight made that purchase totally worth it (the clearance price tag helped, ha ha). After dinner she opened her gifts. She did such a great job sharing her new toys with everyone. She got a baby surprise, Sky bubbles, hungry hippos game, fishing game, a large squishy squirrel, and a gumball machine. I'm still finding little dots of gum in the carpet. Josie is quite the spunky, happy, joyous child. A perfect caboose.
I picked up Zoe from school and took her and Amelia to Gilbert Classical Academy for the morning. The school had an open house for all students interested in going to come see the school in session. Amelia filled out the application and was immediately accepted. She had to sign an acceptance letter in return by Friday the 8th. She spent a bit of time praying and weighing her options between GCA and Greenfield (where most of her friends are going). Chloe and Brookyln are pressuring her heavily to just go to Greenfield. Amelia paid close attention to her feelings during her morning at GCA. She came out around noon with a huge smile plastered on her face, excited for her new opportunity. She signed the acceptance letter! She loved that she can take more electives and learn more that way, all the kids are starting out new at the school in 7th grade so everyone will be looking for friends. She has Zoe already so that helped out a bit. I'm proud of her for making such a weighty decision mostly on her own, using her parents as sounding boards.
I finally finished editing the wedding photos, hooray. Saturday Phillip was able to have his friend Ryan over for the day. We got our house cleaning done in record time, including rooms cleaned. I just wish the clean lasted more than a few hours. Before we were done Evelyn had all her makeup and hair supplies out to give makeovers. We took the kids to Riparian for a picnic lunch as a break from our house. I tortured Josie into taking her 3rd birthday photos, Amelia helped me make her smile. Josie knew how to pose after all her little life of camera posing. Phillip found a huge stick to chase kids around the play area. Justin (and I) were in quite the funk over the weekend. He was grouchy and I was feeling isolated. He tried to call me while I was taking Josie's photos because Evelyn had to use the restroom but refused to allow Justin to help. I normally keep my phone on silent with just vibrating on because it always seems to ring a the exact wrong moment (like when a baby is going to sleep). I finished just in time to earn a steaming mad husband and a toddler crying because she had to pee. Justin stalked off to vent while the rest of us played. Evelyn gave me a fantastic makeover while Justin napped. I got ready for our ward's "Let's Taco About Love" dance at 6 pm. I quite enjoyed getting all gussied up with straight hair, cute outfit, and makeup. I didn't realize how much I missed the excitement over getting dressed up. Amelia held down the fort for a couple hours while we went to a dance! We dined on tacos for dinner. Two Hispanic ladies showed us how to dance the Salsa! Justin refused to dance, well, he did dance one slow dance with me. I danced alone or with other ladies whose husbands refused to dance. I was surprised to get several compliments on my dance skills. Ha ha ha! I guess all those dance exercise videos I'm doing are paying off.
Sunday after a short dinner we headed to the church for a special broadcast for the Arizona saints, President Nelson spoke to us all! Justin was still napping when we left, he got to the church before the broadcast started. Rumor was a special broadcast about President Nelson's life was showing before the broadcast, that did not happen. We took over the Primary room where the kids could color and skip about. Josie and Evelyn played a fun game of hide-and-seek with their markers during the broadcast! They were quite entertaining to watch. The spirit was electrifying towards the end of President Nelson's talk, he spoke about the second coming and invited us to join the Arizona battalion. Asking us to pray each morning for inspiration to gather those into to fold, on BOTH sides of the veil. Here are a few clips from the Church News:
PHOENIX, Arizona — In a day of repeated and widespread prophetic messaging across the state of Arizona, President Russell M. Nelson summed up his call to action with a personalized invitation that sent a near-audible ripple of listeners giving increased attention.“I have an invitation for you as the Arizona battalion of the Lord’s army to help gather Israel on both sides of the veil,” proclaimed the 94-year-old president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as he spoke to about 65,000 gathered in State Farm Stadium, including the nearly 9,000 youth and young adults seated on the stadium floor for the Sunday, Feb. 10 event.
In his “Arizona battalion” invitation, President Nelson asked individuals and families to pray daily for opportunities to be involved in the gathering effort as he tied together the Abrahamic covenant, the Book of Mormon and the gathering of Israel.Also speaking at the devotional were Sister Wendy Nelson; President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency; and his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks. Elder Lynn G. Robbins, a General Authority Seventy and president of the North America Southwest Area, conducted the 90-minute meeting.
President Nelson listed the promises to Abraham made by Jehovah of the Old Testament some 4,000 years ago — that the Savior of the world would come through Abraham’s lineage; that Abraham was promised an eternal increase, or a posterity “as innumerable as the stars;” that Abraham’s descendants would bear the priesthood of God and administer its exalting ordinances; and that all the nations of the earth will be blessed through Abraham’s lineage.
The latter is done as missionaries take the gospel across the globe, as the light of the gospel and the love of the Lord infuse the lives of all; as men are ordained to the priesthood and women are endowed with the power of the priesthood through their temple activity; and as temples continue to dot the earth, he said.
“My dear brothers and sisters, these promises — first given to Abraham and later reaffirmed with his son, Isaac, and his grandson Jacob, who became ‘Israel’ — are known as the Abrahamic covenant and are available to all of God’s children,” President Nelson said. “Yes, these divine promises are available to you!”When the house of Israel rejected the teachings of the Lord and persecuted the prophets in biblical times, Jehovah scattered His people far and wide among the heathen — but with a promise that one day they would be gathered back into the fold of the Lord, he said. “And that promised day is today.”
Citing the restoration of priesthood and its keys through heavenly messengers such as Peter, James, John, Moses, Elias and Elijah as key to “gather together in one all things,” President Nelson emphasized the keys of the gathering of Israel coming from Moses and the restored keys of sealing authority from Elijah.
The Book of Mormon, he added, serves as a tangible sign to all the world that the Lord has commenced to gather Israel and fulfill the Abrahamic covenant. It contains the fulness of the gospel and teaches the Savior’s Atonement, with its two primary and oft-repeated topics being Jesus Christ and the gathering of Israel.
President Nelson posed the question of what the gathering of Israel looks like, then listed four examples, punctuating each with a pointed phrase at the end of each.
- “As you work together to remodel your home into a sanctuary of faith — filled with learning together from the home-centered, Church supported curriculum — that is gathering Israel.
- “As you parents create experiences where your children can learn to feel the Spirit of the Lord — that is gathering Israel.
- “As you do family history, serve and worship in the temple, use your discretionary time to draw closer to Heavenly Father and to His Son and to help someone else do the same — that is gathering Israel.
- “As you help to strengthen the testimonies of others; as you repent and help others to repent; as you reach out in your communities and participate in worthy efforts to alleviate suffering — that is gathering Israel.
She also shared her witness of him receiving inspiration and revelation — often in the middle of the night, sometimes while she is in the room with him and other times when she leaves him to be alone. “I am a witness of being present, and I am a witness by being absent, that the Lord indeed instructs His prophet....
“Everything in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints belongs to Jesus Christ,” Sister Nelson said. “The doctrine is His, the covenants are His, the ordinances are His, the priesthood power is His power. The Apostles are His. And the prophet is His prophet, chosen and instructed by Him.”
President Oaks spent much of his address reviewing and underscoring the many changes and points of emphasis from President Nelson and other Church leaders from the April and October general conferences — the changes in the Sunday worship schedule, the youth advancing to classes and quorums at the first of the year rather than on a birthday, the call to spend more time in the temple, the changes in the curriculum, the emphasis on a home-centered Church, the move to ministering, the challenge for the women to read the Book of Mormon by the end of 2018 and the correct use of the Church’s name.
“The changes we have experienced in our Church meetings and policies should help us, but by themselves they won’t get our members to where our Heavenly Father wants us to be,” President Oaks said. “The changes that make a difference to our position on the covenant path are not changes in Church policies or practices, but the changes we make in our own desires and actions.”He focused some of this remarks on the youth and young adults in attendance, highlighting the importance of the gospel and the fact that God is our Father and Jesus Christ His Son. “And Their commandments and our obedience remain essential, whether we travel by wagon or spaceship, and whether we communicate by voice or texting.”
He cautioned against tattoos and piercings, immodesty and pornography.
Regarding technology, he said cell phones “should be your slaves, not your masters … cut it back and rejoin the world of those who talk face to face.”
President Oaks also urged care in how youth and young adults label themselves, asking them to not define themselves by some temporary quality. “Our single best quality to characterize ourselves is that we are a son or daughter of God,” he said. “That fact overrides all other labels, including race, occupation, physical characteristics, honors or even religious affiliation.”
Displaying on the giant videoboards at both ends of the stadium a photo of President Nelson and President Oaks together, Sister Oaks underscored the energy and unity of the pair who have served side by side since their calls to the apostleship in the April 1984 general conference.
“Loyal Saints of Arizona assembled to hear and heed our Prophet’s words, you must be very special,” she said, “because only 15 Apostles of Jesus Christ walk this earth, and two of them have been directed to come here in your behalf.”
Testifying that the power of coming to Christ and following His teachings as taught by modern-day prophets is both tangible and attainable, Sister Oaks reminded: “We are not alone. We are children of a Heavenly Father who loves us and desires that we come to Him.“Tonight Heavenly Father has sent His messengers to teach and inform us. I beg you to listen to what they say. I promise that their teachings, if you apply them, will uplift and edify you.”
From another local newspaper:
"Nelson said God’s 'miracle' of giving Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac, even though they were considered too old to have children, could comfort Robert’s family as they prayed for a miracle with Robert’s recovery. He cited numerous other of God’s miracles to Abraham, and stated that so long as followers are true to their covenants, they would 'have access to the power of God to do the seemingly impossible in our lives.'"
He said that being faithful to covenants means followers have to be willing to be seen as “peculiar” by others.
“Our thoughts, behavior, language, entertainment, fashion, grooming, and time on the internet — to name a few things — are to be distinct from patterns and habits considered as normal by the world,” Nelson said.
Nelson concluded his speech by emphasizing the important role that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plays in furthering Jesus’ cause as his return to Earth nears.
President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency spoke before Nelson. Oaks focused on faith and trusting God’s will, plan and timing. Oaks discussed technological, cultural and other changes that impact young people in the Church, but emphasized the need to hold true to LDS values despite what the worldly trends may be.
"Too many of you are selling your precious time into slavery by excess talking and texting,” Oaks said. “Cut it back and rejoin the world of those who talk face to face. That is what we need for our future missionaries, as well as what you need for all that follows.”