Friday, October 24, 2014

When Did This Happen?

When did my baby girl grow up?

Yesterday was Evie's fifth birthday. She didn't stop smiling all day long.

I have tons of pictures to sift through, but this is today.

I'm Late! I'm Late! 

Back with more later.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Little by Little

Cabin update
About four weeks ago, I posted pictures of the construction site. It looked like this:

My favorite part--the wraparound porch
Building always impresses me. How can they take drawings on giant sheets of paper; accumulate random pieces of wood, metal, plastic, drywall, and glass; add buckets of nails and screws--and suddenly, it's a home?
The two red sentinel arches I showed before? Now they're encased in wood.

The builder is giving December 19th as completion date. Christmas in the pines? Yes, please.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

If Life Gives You Lemons, Grab a Crowbar

Our neighbors, Marc and Ashley, had a car accident Sunday morning. It was a weird situation--their cars were parked and someone turned too wide and hit Marc's truck, which in turn, hit Ashley's car parked right behind it. No one was hurt, the driver was insured, and most of all, it's a big inconvenience for all.

Unless you're Hyrum or Micah.

Ashley came home from work yesterday and told the boys that the truck had been declared a total loss and would be hauled away this morning. In the meantime, they were free to take anything they wanted off the outside.

I don't think my boys have finished their homework faster than they did yesterday.

The excitement attracted many of the neighborhood kids, who couldn't believe what they were seeing--mallets and crowbars and screwdrivers and hammers and wire cutters destroying a real live car!

I had concerned moms text or stop by, asking if the destruction was approved. I don't think Marc and Ashley were expecting the boys to go as crazy as they did.

So many treasures.

And they even willingly cleaned up the mess.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Passing the Pigskin to the Next Generation

I can't count how many of Ben's football games I cheered on from the sidelines.

Now it's Micah's turn. Look for the fluorescent orange cleats and you can't miss him.
Still one of the smallest on the team.
I had flashes of Ben so many times as I watched this game. He is good defensive player, just like his big brother.
Rarely did his man get past him before Micah pulled the flag.
And he almost had an interception as well.
It wasn't enough, though. The grey Bulldogs lost by a large margin. I think one of the hardest skills to teach highly competitive kids is losing with grace. Any great ways of teaching kids that when they lose, it isn't the officials' fault or the other team just got lucky? I'd love to hear them.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Has It Really Been Five Years?

Most of you weren't reading my blog five years ago. That's okay.

Five years ago, I snapped a picture of Brad for this post--the day he was sustained as the bishop of our ward.
My photography skills have improved a lot since then--the flash shadow, the composition, the editing. ARGH. This is not a post about my photography skills. I had taken the picture to mark how grey his hair was at that moment in time--still dark on top, with a little distinguished white at the temples.

Here is a picture I snapped of Brad as he left for work Monday morning.
Brad was released as the bishop of our ward (congregation) on Sunday. The grey has crept up and covered most of his head now and the dark hairs are definitely in the minority, but he's still sporting the same 'do.

Many of you are not members of the LDS Church, and you probably don't know much about being an LDS bishop. Here's a quick summary. What is not included in that summary is how much time it takes to serve as a bishop (with no salary) and how much a bishop falls in love with the people of his ward. It was labor, but a true labor of love as he came to know the youth and kids and families who live in our ward.

Sunday was a emotional day for me. Not only was it Ben's first Sunday in the mission field, but it was the last Sunday Brad would serve as bishop. I was a mess, from the second I woke up until I got home from Church around 5 pm. The new bishop, his wife, and his new counselors were asked to speak, as were Brad and both of his counselors and me. I wanted to share with you what I said to our ward family, and I hope that it gives you a better understanding of what it's like to serve as a bishop of an LDS congregation.

I’ve reflected a lot about the time I’ve spent sitting on our bench in this chapel over the last five years. We used to sit behind the Wudels, much closer to the front, but having to manage my wild monkeys alone pushed me closer and closer to the back as I tried to minimize the commotion of Denton kids being regularly taken out. When Brad was sustained, I was eight months pregnant with Eve. Tucker was a senior, and Hyrum was 2 ½ years old. Our bench has changed a lot in that time, and hopefully gotten a little bit quieter as well. We may be back up front soon, but we’ll see.

Think about how your own bench here in the chapel has changed over the past five years. How many callings have you had? I’ve been a RS teacher (twice, actually), a Primary counselor, a Stake Institute teacher, a Sunday school teacher, and now the choir accompanist. Have you moved here since then? Have you welcomed babies or sent off missionaries or married off children or lost loved ones?

In these last five years, you all have never been far from Brad’s thoughts. So many times, your families’ lives have interwoven with his. So many happy memories.
  • He’s cannonball’ed with your children and reminded me to get more tootsie rolls at Sam’s Club so he could dole them out—one per customer—on Sunday.
  • He’s trekked miles across the dusty Arizona desert with your youth and counseled them as they received temple recommends.
  • He’s watched your young men and women leave for missions and proudly embraced them when they return.
  • He’s attended baptisms, endowments, and sealings, and held many of your newborn children in his arms.
  • He’s visited many of your in your homes and invited others out to lunch and remembered others at the holidays with special celebrations.
He’s been bishop of the 30th ward for about 250 Sundays. Most of those Sundays I would roll over and go back to sleep when his alarm went off—signalling time for him to prepare for early morning meetings. I will say that on the Saturday nights of General Conference, he would stretch out in bed and say, “I get to sleep in tomorrow!” and I would be lucky to see him downstairs and ready for conference before 8:55 am.

I’ve seen so many miracles in your lives, both small and great, as he’s served—from getting a cell signal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean just long enough for the temple to call verifying a young woman’s worthiness—to being inspired to hold a ward fast for a family to be brought into our ward and seeing that miracle happen right on my street.

I’ve heard him pray for many of you by name as you prepared for baptism or temple ordinances or faced the loss of loved ones. I’ve heard him include the names of countless pairs of missionaries who have served in our ward boundaries, and I’ve heard him pray for many more of you as he’s repeated, “for those in the ward who are struggling at this time.” On those nights, he often would linger longer on his knees as he privately supplicated the Lord on your behalf.

I’ve seen him change into a white shirt and tie during the day or after he was ready for bed at night, telling me who was in the hospital or who had just lost their son or simply that “someone” needed him and he would be gone for a while.

When the announcement was made that a new bishopric would be sustained, I got comments that usually fell into one of two categories: Some people would say, “You get your husband back!” Though I do feel a lot like Hannah as I have “lent my boys to the Lord” for their two-year missionary service, I never felt like I lost Brad while he was the bishop. I’ve heard it said that when a young man dedicates two years of his life to serving a mission at 18, he is tithing one-tenth of his life back to the Lord. Brad is almost 50, and I can see how he has once again willingly tithed one-tenth of his life as he’s served as bishop these past five years.

While some comments congratulated me on surviving, other comments touched my heart deeply. Some of you have quietly told me, with tears in your voice, “Thank you. No one will ever know what Bishop Denton has done for me (or for our family or for our son or for our daughter).” I will never know, but I have seen the change that has come upon him as he has sacrificed and labored and prayed and partnered with our God to help bring to pass “the immortality and eternal life” of the members of our ward. He has developed compassion and patience and empathy and wisdom—and an understanding of the power of the Atonement that he couldn’t have gained any other way.

So, as you look down at our bench in the chapel today and see our husband and dad sitting with us for the first time in Eve’s life, I hope you see how much you and your family have grown closer to the Savior over the past five years. I want to thank you for praying for him, for sustaining him, and for loving him. I need to thank you for allowing him into your lives, for allowing him to serve you, and for helping him to grow. While I have had my own stormy moments where I struggled and begged the Lord to help me to change my heart or to forgive or to be forgiven during the last five years, I need to thank the Lord for bringing the blessings of heaven down on our home over this time.

It is truly a blessing to serve the Lord in any capacity in any church anywhere in the world. It may be the end of his time serving as bishop, but I know that he will have a new calling and a new job and a new group of people to love very soon. 

For now, Hyrum and Evie will love having Dad sit with them on our bench again. And so will I.

If you have any questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), leave me a comment or send me an email. I will do my best to try and answer them.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

News from the Mission Field

Got Ben's first letter yesterday.

He sounds so happy.

If you'd like to follow along with his adventures, I've started a blog for him (surprised, aren't you?) A shoutout today to my friend Kara at Life with Fingerprints. I've had pretty crazy weeks lately, and she stepped in to help with the blog header.
Isn't it incredible? What I love the most about it is the picture. That name tag is her husband's tag--from when he served in the Peru Lima South mission fourteen years ago--edited to Denton. Thanks, Kara. I couldn't have done that right now.

And yes, there have been more things happening around the Sanatorium than just Ben. Time to move on to a new normal.

As Lily reminded me last night, only 103 weeks left to go.