Monday, May 31, 2010

Birthday Wishes for one of my FAVORITE AZ Friends! Happy Birthday Stephy!

39 years ago today, 

I am so excited to do this Blog Tribute!  I met Stephanie the FIRST week I moved to Arizona.  She was in the Relief Society Presidency and came to visit me at Verna's house with Carole (the President) and her little 6 yr old Presley.

The minute these two woman walked in the door I thought I had known them for my WHOLE LIFE!  Stephanie sat there and got my whole life story out of me in the 30 minute visit. And poor thing has been getting more and more glimpses the past 6 month... I just can't stop blabbing my guts to her!

Within the month of moving to Arizona I was put into the RS Presidency working side by side these woman, and I soon found that Steph was THE REAL DEAL!  She was who she acted like.  She was real and I wanted to be around her all I could be!  Steph is also unique cause she has an identical twin Tiffany who sounds and acts like her, who looks like her, it is amazing how as adults they can still be so ALIKE!

Steph makes me laugh A LOT!  I feel comfortable sharing things that are weighing on my mind or to tell her how I am feeling whether it be funny, sad or frustrating! She was a pillar of strength to me as I went through challenging times with Verna.

Some of my favorite memories in the last 6 months have been: group walks, Tuesday Night tradition where I was invited to eat with her family and then we would watch the Biggest Loser together, Birthday Pedicure, Easter with her family, our love for food, cleaning out Verna's things, helping me set up her tribute at the funeral, decorating wedding luncheons and Laurisa's shower, helping me get Grandmother's funeral, She taught me what it REALLY MEANS to throw a party (this girl has more talent on one pinky than most do in their whole being), party throwing, hot tubbin', movies, daily texts, decorating her yard, her fun doorstep surprises, did I mention laughing?

One time I was shocked when she brought me a gift of "her favorite things" and they were all things I use on a daily basis!  I love when you find someone that just "get's you!" Steph has showered me with so much support, she even bought a one way plane ticket so she could drive me to Dallas for my new job (that is another post) and fly back!  Many times on an off day she has shown up with dinner, bread, a card or just let me come over and hang out so I wouldn't be alone and I have loved her for it! We shared our lives ups and downs and instantly I felt like I have known her forever!  

One of the MOST POWERFUL things that I have learned from Stephy Girl is SERVICE!  I call her SUPER STEPHY! There is no one I have witnessed serving 90% of their life.  She is an example that you are NEVER too tired, NEVER too maxed, NEVER too downtrodden to serve someone else.  If I am looking for Steph and she isn't available by phone or at her house, I can know that her feet are walking someones child in a stroller, picking up dinner for a new mother or struggling friend in the ward, redecorating some frustrated or overwhelmed friends home, taking her sister's children some times for multiple days to give them a break, volunteering at her children's school, sitting for hours at her Mothers side as she goes through chemo treatments, helping someone move or clean their own house (even when she has her own laundry, dishes, bed making to do).  There is a saying that I say to Steph almost daily, "Have you done any good in the world this hour?!"  And I am so glad to know that this is NOT an exaggeration it is just the woman that she is!

The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless. ---- Billy Graham ----
Steph, I know your feet get MUCH mileage every day!  I want you to know that example makes me want to get out of bed and do something good in the world that hour!  Arizona has been sweeter because of you!! So glad that we have connected!! I learn SOO much from you!  Thank you for being there for me and helping add to the goodness I have found in Arizona!  You are the real deal and I am so glad to have you as a true friend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Mother's Day Surprise....

I had a BLAST this last weekend surprising my Mom with the most LAYERED surprise I have ever pulled off.  The idea started when Kiley Humphries in my home ward talked to me about wanting to do an "In A Coming Day" Reunion (A song that I taught the primary kids 6 yrs ago...most those primary kids are now graduated or graduating this year!).  I emailed Bishop Jenkins for permission and recieved it so then it was nailing down when we would do it.  A few days later I got a email back from the Bishop asking that if we do it Mother's Day if I would ALSO speak in the ward!  That is all it took to make it happen, I mean, what Mom wouldn't think that was the GREATEST Mother's Day gift Ever?!

So plans were underway and Kiley went to work recruiting and I went to work booking my ticket from Phoenix to Utah and figuring out how I could surprise my Mom the BEST.
I flew in late on Friday night and was picked up by my besties Jen and Erica.  We had a sleep over that night at Jen's and it was so fun to be back together.

The next morning (Saturday) Erica and I left early for Orem and she ran me around finding the music and getting things together for one of our ONLY practices with the kids.  By 10 am I was at the church practicing with the 4 kids that showed up.  Amazingly I wasn't STRESSED out at all cause the 4 kids alone did a great job, I knew it would ALL work out! 
Spent that day visiting with people and surprising other's as well.  It was a fun day.  At 5pm I got dropped off at Mimi's Cafe in Orem where all the women in the family were meeting for a Mother's Day celebration and surprised them all.  Mom and Gram were crying.. it was GREAT!

One thing Mom didn't know is what I had up my sleeves for the next day..that was the best part!  I loved having more surprises coming!  I stayed up till 2am reworking my talk, making sure that it was perfect and what I wanted to portray.  Melba met up with me in the wee hours and of course brought food!! 

I woke up at 6am to get showed and ready for the events that were about to take place that day.  I did have to lie to my Mom and tell her that I was going to hear someone talk when I left at 8am that morning, really I was going to have one final practice!  When we got to the church and about 15-20 youth were there to sing... I WAS ELATED!!  They did such an AMAZING job and really sang with their testimonies!  

I was so thankful for the quotes that I was able to find that supported the feelings of my heart as a single.  I don't think of not being a Mother as doom and gloom.  Although it really is the ONLY thing I can see myself doing for the rest of my life.  But whether it is my kids or others, I am still able to be an example and nurture the kids and people in my life.

I am sure this isn't word for word of my talk...but I just wanted to keep it for posterity sake.

Mothers: A Light Unto the World
By Meg Gazaway.  With teachings from Sheri Dew, Elaine Dalton, Joseph F. Smith and President Gordon B Hinckley

It has come to my attention in my Adult years how there is this thing in the church where Mother’s HATE Mother’s Day.  I have been so intrigued by this that I continue to ask question to my friends as to why this may be.  Some of the answers are that they feel let down by the day, that no one follows through with the celebration (basically there is no such thing as a day off as a Mom) others have responded that they feel inadequate to be celebrated in that way.  Other’s shared that it isn’t really a special day, nothing really changes, kids don’t stop fighting or talking back, some husband’s don’t go the extra mile and so it just feels like a waste.  I have been so surprised by these answers and didn’t quite understand till a recent experience with Mother/Daughter Achievement Day activity gone wild! It’s the kids comments that make you feel inadequate isn’t it? Hahaha

I am living in Gilbert Arizona and attend a family ward there. When the children were asked to tell what their Mother’s  "Hidden Talents" were the following was my favorite responces.

  • 1.       My Mom is really good at yelling.
  •        My Mom likes to hide candy in her room and eat it in her bed.
  •        My Mom can toot on demand.

I just want to assure you Mother’s that I have not asked ANY of your children about your hidden talents or will I throw any of you under the bus.  But today instead we will just talk about how as Women of God in general, we are a force to be reckoned with!

In April Conference 2006 Sister Elaine Dalton shared a poem that her grandfather used to say and I have loved it and repeated it since.
You don’t have to tell how you live each day;
You don’t have to tell if you work or play;
A tried and true barometer stands in its place-
You don’t have to tell, it will show in your face,
If you live close to God and His infinite grace-
You won’t have to tell, it will show in your face!

As Women of the church we are blessed with this light in our countenance.  It comes to us when we keep the covenants that we made with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ and you have made the choices which qualify for you to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  That light that comes to us is the Savior’s light.  It is the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  By the way you live the gospel, you reflect His light.  Your example will have a powerful effect for good on the earth

Sister Dalton continues, “Can one righteous woman change the world? The answer is a RESOUNDING YES! You have the Holy Ghost as your guide, and He “will show you all things…you should do” It is the daily consistent things that you do that will strengthen you to be a leader and an example—daily prayer, daily scripture study, daily obedience, daily service to others.  Are any of us perfect at this?  NO! But we still try and this TRYING makes us worthy of that light!

As we do these things we become more like him and His light shines through us.  And when other’s see that light, they want to be around it!

Do any of you like to play the find a Mormon is the most random places game?  I don’t know if I am alone in this quest, but I LOVE to people watch.  Especially on vacations!  And my most favorite thing to do is find the Mormons!  You know the people with that special light in their eyes!  I have found them in airports all over the US, in shopping centers outside of the typical Utah towns, on cruises you name it.  Now I am pretty friendly person and after observing that light and watching a few of their mannerisms revealed, I have dared to say are you LDS?  And 99% of the times I have asked which have probably numbered in the 20’s they have said YES and I have an instant friend and bond. 

One such instance happened to me in Puerto Rico.  I went with a bunch of my friends there.  One early morning we decided to take an adventure to the island of Culebra.  To do this you have to stand in line by 6am and get a ticket for a one hour boat ride that takes you there for the a day excursion and brings you back that evening.  As we were standing in line I noticed a group of girls with that “Mormon light” within them.  I mentioned to my friends that they were for sure Mormon and they teased me about my theory.  We continued to watch them.  Another girl joined their group and when I looked over at the new arrival I saw she was wearing a shirt that said Old Nauvoo. I laughed told the Spanish speaking member of the group to read the shirt and He rushed over to communicate with them in Spanish and let them know that we too were LDS.  We spent the whole day on the island with them and had a BLAST! All because a glance at their bright light radiating from them. 

The one thing that we can know for sure is that Satan is very opposed to that light that is within us!  He has DECLARED WAR on Motherhood or Womanhood in general!  Sheri Dew in a talk entitled, “Are We Not All Mothers?”  Talked about this very thing. She says, “He knows that those who rock the cradle can rock his earthly empire. And he KNOWS that without righteous Mothers loving and leading the next generation, the kingdom of God will fail.”

I connect with Sheri Dew and feel her light and her understanding of Motherhood without being a Mother herself.  She explains things in such a way that it excites my spirit!  One thing that I learned from this talk that I never have thought about before is she shares this thought, “When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role.  While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve, “the mother of all living”—and they did so BEFORE she ever bore a child.  Like Eve, our motherhood began BEFORE we were born.  Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, righteous women were ENDOWED premortally with the privilege of Motherhood. Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that.  It is the essence of who we are as women.”  

As that was not powerful enough to describe our roles of Motherhood President Hinckley declared, “Men have to have something given to them in mortality to make them Saviors of men, but not mothers, not women.  They were born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be saviors of human souls… and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children.”

As we know, not all of us get to exercise the gift of Motherhood directly, that is in our own homes.  But the Father doesn’t take that away from us who fit in that category. We still have great opportunity to do so vicariously. We just simply have to find other ways. All around us are those who need to be love and led.
Nearly a century ago President Joseph F Smith said this to the Women of the Church,
““It is not for you to be LED by the women of the world; it is for you to LEAD the women of the world in EVERYTHING that is God-like, everything that is uplifting and... purifying to the Children of God.”

Sheri Dew makes this point,
“How will our young women learn to live as women of God unless they see what women of God look like, meaning what we wear, watch, and read; how we fill our time and our minds; how we face temptation and uncertainty; where we find true joy; and why modesty and feminity are hallmarks of a righteous woman? How will our young women learn to value women of God if we don’t show them the virtue of our virtues?”

Few of us will reach our potential without the nurturing of BOTH the mother who bore us and the Mother’s WHO BEAR WITH US!  Those Mother’s are in each of us.  I have been blessed with some of those adopted Mothers in my life who BEAR WITH ME and because of the sweet relationships I have with them it helps me TO KNOW that you don’t have to give birth to someone to LEAD them, to love them.  Infact, it is because I know they love me that I let them help lead me.  Their light is such a calming force in my life.

I wish that you could all know how blessed I was the day Our Father sent me into the arms of my own Mother.  When I was only 9 months old my parents got a divorce and my Grandfather moved my Brother and I along with all 11 of his own children from Marshalltown, Iowa to Provo, Utah.  Since that time my Mother raised us on her own with no help or support from my Dad at all.  My Mom is a true example of that light.  She has always been full of love, testimony and truth.  She has been my hero as long as I have known what a hero was.  I am thankful that I never had to question what side of the line my Mother was on.

Sheri Dew put it this way, “WE ARE THE LORD’S SECRET WEAPON!  Our influence and light comes from a divine endowment that has been in place from the beginning…  The world won’t tell you that, but the spirit will.”

Sisters, today is a special day of rejoicing in that endowment!  It isn’t a day to bring discouragement, frustration, or pity. It doesn’t matter whether we don’t have any kids, or we have 18 and counting we are ALL given that same endowment!  And it is up to us to use our light in ALL Ways to love and lead those, even each other, back to the one who blessed us with such a high honor!
Many of you have blessed me to live vicariously through your families and allowed me in small ways to love your children and to you I am so thankful.  I learn from you, I lean on you and I watch the magnificent job you do in bringing light to a world of darkness and confusion!

When you live close to God and his infinite grace-- You won’t have to tell, it will show in your face!