February Focus: "Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation" (Helaman 5:12)

January Focus: "Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation" (2 Ne. 22:3)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

When Fridays Meant Frisbee and a Freezer Full of Food

I woke up with a heavy heart.  Last night I went to bed with a tear-streaked face.

Yesterday I got the news that Chris Tryon had passed away in a car accident. . . .Years ago, when Jeff was a bishop, Chris was part of our "Frisbee gang".  He didn't come as regularly as Aaron or his younger brother, Reed, but he was pretty regular for a while.

Like all the teenagers who played Friday Frisbee with Jeff over the course of a couple years, Chris carved out a place in my heart.  I forgot how much of a place those boys (and a few girls) had until last night.  I was shocked by the extent of my grief for someone I haven't seen in years.  I believe I am not just mourning the end of Chris's young life, but also grieving the passing of time.  I miss all my "kids".  Each of them became like family. I am imagining the heartache of Reed and Andrea and Afton and Aaron.  I just want to be able to see each of them again and wrap them up in one big, group hug.

I remember fondly the way my walls would practically echo with the sound of their laughter.  I recall how Jeff and I would cheer for the good things in their lives, and I have distinct memories of the hours of fervent prayer we spent on their behalf, the heartache we felt for each detour their lives took.
It was a time when I would bake at least once a week just in case someone dropped in after school.  We bought a freezer and stocked it full of food, including the tater-tot-like things which Reed and Aaron called "little bites of heaven".  It was a time when Jeff and I would consciously leave the porch light on until at least midnight, often later, so that our group would always feel welcome, no matter the hour.

Memories were made and bonds were forged.  And today I find myself wanting to stock the freezer, pull out the baking supplies, and unlock the front door.  This week I'll leave the porch light on. . .for Chris and for all the Frisbee gang, each of whom have left my heart permanently changed.

Chris, since you got there first, maybe you'll think of us and every now and then send some "little bites of heaven" our way, just for old times' sake...

{I'm sad that I couldn't find any pictures of Chris, but here are some old photos of some of the Frisbee gang}

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Trust in Times of Trial

I've known for a while now that I wanted to write a blog post about trusting in the Lord.  I have slowly been working on a series of blog posts that chronicle my personal experiences with the Atonement of Jesus Christ. (Click here to read my post about hope).

I have thought and pondered what I might say for a couple months now, and I have wondered why it has taken me so long to put into words a principle that I cherish.  This morning I realized it is because the Lord is in charge of the timing and my post needed to happen this week.  Ironically, even the "when" of my post was teaching me more about trust.

The LDS Guide to the Scriptures gives me this definition of trust: "To rely upon or place confidence in someone or something.  In spiritual matters, trust includes relying on God and his Spirit."  For me, trust is the foundation of my faith.  Faith is the action word, the things I do, because of my trust in the Lord.

I don't have all the answers.  I don't even have a lot of the answers.  But I was blessed to come to earth with a lot of confidence in my Heavenly Father.  I'm not good at following authority figures; I really dislike being told what to do by other people.  Yet, somehow, this has never ever extended to God.  I have been blessed to keep my innate confidence in Him intact and for this I am deeply grateful.

Even though I don't have perfect knowledge, I have had some pretty majorly traumatic experiences in my own life. I have witnessed tragedy and terror and sorrow of many kinds in the lives of those I care about.  I have been the target of other people's anger, hatred, dislike, jealousy, and misunderstanding.  I have been beaten until I had welts on my back.  I have, as an adult, witnessed youth make poor choices, and in my own youth watched a dear friend make the long journey of repentance after years of wild living.  In high school and college, I have had friends who had to get restraining orders against their boyfriends and who feared for their lives.  I have suffered loss through miscarriage and watched others lose their children and babies due to illness and accident.  The list could go on and on.

And I testify with all my heart that through it all my Savior has been there, for me and for others.  There have been those who reject the gift of His outstretched hand and the comfort He offers, but He is always there.

I don't have all the answers, but I don't need them.  Line upon line as I experience both the bad and the good this life has to offer and as I consistently place my trust in the Lord, my peace increases.

Trusting in the Lord means simply turning all your worry and pain and suffering over to Him.  It means believing that He will help you to heal, that He will make it all right.  Trust in God means that even when you, like me, don't have all the answers you still have faith that God does and that His plan is one of love and mercy and goodness.

It does not mean that life gets magically easier, but it can bring you peace in the middle of chaos.  It can bring you moments of joy during times of great sadness.  It can bring you light in a world of darkness.  It gives us a reason to get up each day and keep trying, keep going, keep loving, keep forgiving.

As Elder Bradley D. Foster states in a beautiful talk I read this morning entitled, "Trials, Tribulations, and Trust in the Lord":

May we all face our challenges with faith, endurance, and trust in our Heavenly Father and in His plan for each of us. Remember, it’s not what happens to us that matters; it’s how we handle what happens that makes all the difference. “When the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces,” the Savior’s power and assurance can still make it possible for us to experience joy and peace.
I testify that the Savior will abide with you in your darkest hour. He is there, and He has declared, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
This is my prayer and testimony to each of you wherever you may be and in whatever way you may be suffering today.  He lives, He loves us, and He can heal us.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Thankful Thursday (a day late): January 2015

Ten things I'm grateful for this month, in no particular order

1. The temple:

    Before the Christmas/winter break was over, Jeff and I squeezed in a temple date at the beginning of January.  Last weekend, he and I were invited to attend the sealing (at the Gilbert AZ Temple) of a couple we have met through Scouting, and I was asked to take some pictures after.  Yesterday, I drove up to the Phoenix AZ Temple by myself after dropping the kids off at school. Next week I plan to go do a baptism for a family name Brisa found.  Once I have done that I will have participated in every temple ordinance this month which is a sweet blessing.  I was reminded yesterday as I was there that when I go to the temple I am blessed with power and clarity, confidence and peace.

2.  Saving up for large purchases:

     Jeff and I have been working hard on our financial goals for the past few years.  This December we were able to order some much-needed furniture as the couches upstairs were completely broken, and our dining room table could barely fit our family of seven let alone any guests.  I love my furniture, love decorating and making my house beautiful (I almost majored in interior design at ASU), but even more, I love the peace that comes from knowing that we saved and waited so that we could buy good-quality furniture without going into debt.  Every purchase is sweeter when you can afford it.  It is worthwhile to stick with our goals.  I hope I can help my children learn this lesson.  We started out our marriage with a card table as our dinner table, progressed to two different tables that were hand-me-downs from family, purchased our old dining table at great sacrifice as our family was growing, and planned and waited until we could finally buy this beautiful long, hardwood table and chairs. Our couches were all hand-me-downs (or even dumpster finds!) for a very long time. I am grateful for our poor days and the opportunity in our marriage to work together to reach goals.

3.  Arizona skies

4.  My calling to serve the Young Women:
     The girls in my ward are amazing and incredible.  They are fun and smart and beautiful.  I got to teach the lesson on Sunday and felt the Spirit so strongly as I reminded them they are loved by Heavenly Father.  I get to help plan a ward Young Women camp for the summer, and I'm looking forward to it.  I work with an amazing presidency, too! This week we had our New Beginnings event for all of the girls who will be turning 12 this year.  I am excited that my Brisa is one of them (can you believe it?!).  I'll post this weekend about our New Beginnings, but here is a sneak peek:

5.  That the Scout Adult Recognition Dinner went well and is done :-)

6.  My kids:
     I'm not gonna lie; motherhood can be hard.  Most good things take effort.  My family is worth all the effort I put into it.  Love these kids so much!  They aren't perfect, but they are good.  They are valiant and they are trying to be the best they can be.

{Sam participating in the district spelling bee; he is headed to regionals!}

{Brisa and I enjoyed milkshakes after a doctor visit earlier in the month}

{Josh and Mark both got character awards for "Responsibility" this month; all five kids got Principal's Pride awards for getting all A's on their report cards}
{Sarah is going to be 8 this year!}

{Mark learned how to draw stars and is super proud of himself!}

7.  Tilapia:
     Random, I know.  I have discovered that I enjoy eating this fish.  I really don't like most seafood, but I like the mild flavor of tilapia.

8.  The scriptures:
     As I have tried to drink more fully from living waters, I have been greatly blessed.

9.  Good friends!

10.  Last, but never least, Jeff:
       He was gone on a five-day business trip last week.  He has another one next week.  On the weeks he is home, he has been busy going on visits with bishops as January and February are our ward conferences in the stake.  I don't take for granted the few hours we have together.  So thankful for him and the love we share!

{He's working on a project which he and I just recently finished; I'll post about it soon.  Also, friends--here is the infamous orange shirt!}

*What are you thankful for, big or small, this month?*

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Phoenix Arizona Temple

{Photo Credits:  all photos taken by Becky Porter}

Photos taken on November 17, 2014, the day after the Phoenix AZ Temple was dedicated

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wordless Wednesday -- Baking with Brisa

{Photo Credits: Sam Porter, except last two photos taken by me}

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Scout Adult Recognition Dinner

Jeff and I have always been big fans of Scouting.  It teaches boys so many important skills--especially leadership skills--and gives them opportunities to stretch themselves and do hard things.  Scouting teaches them how to work as a group, how to get along with other boys who are not like them, how to serve others, and more.  Plus, it's what the prophet has asked us to do and so I'm on board. :-)

Ever since going to Philmont and receiving more training, Jeff has gotten more involved with the Boy Scouts of America at a district level.  Last year he was the Adult Recognition Chair for the district and helped to put on the annual awards dinner.  Halfway through 2014, he began to move that job over to me, so he could become the new chair over Scout leader training in our district (a job that is a perfect fit for him).  The dinner was this last Saturday and he and I did it together along with the help of a fantastic dinner crew, headed by Keith Lund.

We had approximately 70 people receiving awards--including five who got Silver Beavers--with about 180 people attending the dinner.  Keith took care of the food, kitchen crew, and servers (young women from our stake; they did awesome!).  Jeff and I accepted nominations throughout the year, participated in the selection process for the awards, sent out individual letters to all the award recipients, put together the program, made centerpieces, etc.

Here are a few photos taken by both Jeff and I:

{Some of the 30 centerpieces I made the night before; got the idea from a photo on Pinterest that took me to this site}

{The kids came and were big helpers during set up}

{During set up}

{that's my cute husband!}

{one of my favorite photos from the night}


{Jeff let me wear his Philmont neckerchief and slide!}

{Although it is really blurry, I love that we captured this hug between our friends, the Meryhews, when Jackie Lee went up to get her plaque; she was inducted into our district Cub Scout Hall of Fame.}

{We awarded five Silver Beavers this year!}

{My adorable friend, Mary--third from the left, received a Spark Plug award; our ward is blessed to have her as Cubmaster}

{I have awesome friends with amazing husbands; the husband of my friend, Cindy, welded these Spark Plug awards for us}