Sunday, January 31, 2010

Letter from a missionary...and a testimony borne

I taught early morning seminary for 7 or 8 years, I can't remember anymore how many for sure....but lets just say several!!!! I can guarantee that sometimes I wondered if my students were getting it, paying attention, or just sleeping lol! But yesterday I got a letter from one of my former seminary students on a mission. I won't tell all the letter.....but I would like to share a portion of it that meant a great deal to me. Sometimes the paydays come much later..........but are still just as sweet.

"When I was at the MTC, I was really studying hard. I would have been a fool to have not tried to take advantage of the ridiculously strong spirit there by not feasting on the words of Christ, trying to learn and learn and learn. I was studying awesome missionaries in the Book of Mormon, trying to really dive deeply into chapters, finding as many possible symbols and parallels and applications for my own life (particularly as a missionary). Then one day, another connection in one verse suddenly came to mind. I remembered the day in seminary when we talked about the parable of the nobleman and the olive trees in D&C 101, and I cross-referenced these verses, adding another cool meaning to my favorite chapter that day. then five minutes later, it happened again! Itching in the back of my brain was another connection that I just barely couldn't grasp. Then I remembered the powerful testimony you bore at the beginning of that same year in seminary about the arm of the Lord being revealed in your life. Bonus. D&C 1:14, another frankly awesome connection. Oh, I was having so much fun that day."

"So what I had in mind by all this is wanting to let you know that all you did/do for me and my family really is so appreciated. This is just one example of how your sacrifice of getting up so early to study and plan impacted my life enough to help me be a better missionary now and therefore more able to help people come unto Christ."

So cute that he emphasized so and just one.

It was a beautiful letter and moment as I read it. I tell myself that I really don't need letters and things like this to know that I was a good seminary teacher and that I did make a difference and I have had many thoughtful students say/write things to me off and on throughout my time of teaching and after......but it has been several years now since I was a seminary teacher and very cool to get this letter while this young man is in Canada serving a mission right now!

I would like to bear my testimony:

I am so grateful for the Gospel in my life, for the difference it has made in my life and in my families life. I know this is the only true church on the earth today. I know that we have a living Prophet Tomas S. Monson, who leads and directs this Church, by revelation and inspiration from the Lord. I know that my Savior Lives and that he will come again to this earth in great glory. And that through him my sins can be forgiven and that I can once again return to live with my Heavenly Father. I know the Book of Mormon is true and is the word of God. That it is indeed another testament of Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was/is a prophet of God. That God the Father and his son Jesus Christ did appear to him because he prayed in great faith. That he was the Prophet foreordained to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ back to the earth in this dispensation. I know that prayers are answered. I know that through the Priesthood and sacred Temple covenants that families can be together forever. And I would be remiss if I did not thank my Heavenly Father for the callings he has given me throughout my adult life that have strengthened my testimony and made me a better person and more knowledgeable of the scriptures and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mini Journals.....

I follow several blogs and one of my blog friends found a website that she told us all about a while ago where they had what they called Mini Journals. She gave us the link to the website and told us to go and look at them and see that they were journals that asked 5 simple questions every day that you could answer quickly. They are meant to carry in your purse or keep by your night stand so that when you have just a few minutes like waiting to pick up your kids from school can tell about your day in little snippets! I really liked this idea and agreed with my friend when she said that she would like to make her own so she could tailor the questions to make them personal. Then she asked everyone for ideas of what questions to put in her mini journal.

Well, with my calling in RS as the 2nd Counselor we are always trying to come up with fun activities and classes to help the Sisters in our Ward become closer to the Savior and to try to focus on some of the principles that were taught at the last General Conference. So in trying to focus on Family History we thought a class on journals would be good....but how to make it new and fresh......then I remembered my blog friend and the mini journals. So I emailed her and asked her if she had ever made them and if, and asked for the link to her post again that gave all the questions that everyone suggested.

For 2010 as a Relief Society Presidency we have chosen our Theme to be "Diligently Seeking the Spirit". So many of the conference talks this last General Conference were about recognizing and seeking the spirit......and along with that then writing it down. And Pres. Eyring gave a whole talk not this last Conference but last April's about the importance of remembering and that for our family we needed to write down and share with them times that we have felt the Lords great blessings he pours upon us.

So with that, I have made a few samples to show the sisters for our February 16th RS Meeting about journals and journal making.

Here are the 20 different questions I put in the journal that rotate every 4 days:

I felt the the spirit today when I
I forgot myself today when I
My heart felt happiness today when
I told my family I loved them today when
The Lord Blessed me today when

I exercised faith today when I
I felt my Saviors love today when
I shared my testimony today when I
I magnified my calling when I
I connected with my family when

I recognized an answer to prayer when
I felt good about myself when I
I gave service today when I
I became more self reliant today when
I listened to the spirit when I

I moved forward in Faith when I
I chose the better part when I
I feel closer to my Savior because I
I showed gratitude to my Heavenly Father when I
I kept my Baptismal/Temple Covenants today when I

My Homemaking Leader, whom I adore, and is really an amazing woman suggested that these journals might also be something you would send to Grandparents, parents, aunts etc.... as gifts to fill out so that you can learn more about them as well as that your children can get to know them in a way that they might not otherwise.

I also think that it would be a good way for someone like me to make sure to write down a quick note about an experience that I do not want to forget..... so that I could then refer back to it to blog and make a more detailed account of the experience as I do intend to turn my blog into a book as a continuation of my personal history.

Anyway, I'm very excited for the RS Meeting to come and I really hope that people will sign up.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friend Friday.......

I have an amazing friend who I have really gotten to know and love over the past year! She is a thoughtful compassionate friend, but one with a lot of spunk and fun as well. No one can make me laugh like she does. She is the mother of 5 and even when she thinks she looks horrible is always in the latest of fashion and darling and then when she is looking her best - beautiful! She goes all out in trying to make things special for her family and friends and succeeds every time. She is a loving wife and mother. She is striving everyday to be a better person.....but i really don't know how you could get any better! She is a doer and someone you can count on....and I love doers and people you can count on! I'm so grateful that she has come into my life! I love her dearly.

Someone on her blog or Facebook said that this picture looks like a Gap Ad. I agree! Good genes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


If you love dogs more than anything else in the world, you might not want to read any further! I am so totally inexpressibly FRUSTRATED! I am not a dog (actually any kind of pet) lover. But I am not a dog hater either. I just figure that I have to clean up enough messes on a daily basis with a disabled child still in diapers at 24, that I do not need to be cleaning up after a dog. So we have never had one. My parents have 2 dogs and since we all live together I guess you could say we have 2 dogs as well. When my mother was alive there were still moments of frustration of having to take care of dogs when they aren't even my dogs, but hey, for your parents you will do just about anything, especially when they do so very much for you!!!! And I really don't mind dogs if the are house broken......but for some reason my parents dogs are not. So yes, that means cleaning up after dogs A LOT! When my Mom was alive and wasn't too bad, but now everyone works and no one is home and now that my Dad is dating......he really is never home. Yesterday I came home to a dog that had been sick all day. I really didn't know where to begin. It was very overwhelming and selfishly I kind of felt like, "hey, they aren't my dogs why should I have to clean it up"! My dad didn't get home from problems at work and girlfriends etc....until very early in the morning at which time I was more than happy to find out how he wanted to handle it. So today after work and then Visiting Teaching, I came home and cleaned carpets in my Dad's room and his closet for 3 1/2 hours. And I'm sorry but those dogs have been outside all day and will not be coming in anytime soon. (I'm sure everyone is saying "oh, those poor dogs", don't worry I'm not really that heartless) So my frustration is, I feel guilty for feeling this way. And yet I feel a little justified. But then I feel guilty again. Kind of like this is such a small price to pay for helping my Dad when he always does so much for our whole family. But there are plenty of dog lovers in my family.....why don't some of them come and get them? My Dad has already been saying that he doesn't have time to take care of the dogs he is going to have to give them do it all ready. No one is ever home! See there it is again.......the guilt. I'm Frustrated!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Going to the Temple with my children.....

There really is no greater joy then going to the temple with your children! While they were here for Christmas we were able to attend together twice. Both times Allison & John were picked to be the witness couple. It was funny because the 1st time John leaned over to Allison and whispered, "Is Mom going to cry now?" which of course I was. It was just such a beautiful thing. Then when we were going through the endowment my Dad was the officiator once and a worker on our session the other. We also did some sealings while we were together and we all learned something new during this experience as the sealer taught some lessons. Alan bore his testimony to us after this, to the fact that there is no way any of this could have been made up there are just to many intricate details that would be missed if it did not come directly from the Lord! One of the times that we were in the Temple was for Kate's first time as she was getting ready to be married and that was extremely special as well as Kate is part of the family - it was wonderful to be there with Kate and her family.
At the Dallas Temple
my crazy new way of taking a picture to get the Angel Moroni in the picture. lol!
Happy Parents!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Pictures finally......

I have some Christmas Eve pictures now and I am finally getting around to posting them. Looking at the pictures just brought back all kinds of wonderful and precious memories! Christmas Eve is the Big Family Traditions in the Clay Family and now the Alan Brown family.....Christmas morning we do more traditions for Alan's family....but Christmas Eve is always really special to me. That is the time that we have the big Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. We then have a special Family Home Evening where we tell the Christmas story and sing the Christmas carols that go with each part of the scriptures. Then we get to open Christmas presents from family on Christmas Eve so that (especially when the kids were young) they don't get mixed all in with Santa's gifts. So Christmas Eve is presents from family members and Christmas Morning is strictly Santa's gifts. Another tradition that a lot of family stuck to this year is that Christmas Eve gifts from family are home made! It's always very exciting to see what people make. We have a lot of talent in our family!

The Christmas Eve Family Home Evening
My sister Elizabeth stepped in for our mother and played the Christmas Carols that went along with the Scripture reading of the Christmas Story.
Then we opened gifts from the family.
These are the fabric framed last name initials that Allison made for everyone. They were beautiful and were perfect with each of our home decors.
My girls decided to start a new tradition now that they are older and getting married etc.... that they would all give each other an ornament each year that really meant something to each other.
Anne Marie gave Allison & John and Aileen the ornaments by my favorite artists that were called the "The true meaning of Christmas" a Santa praying over a manger with the baby Jesus in it. And the whole time they were opening their's I was lamenting the fact that I really wanted one and.......
Whoohoo! I got the big statue to add to my Santa Collection!
Anne Marie also gave all the girls in the family these really warm fuzzy slipper socks that also have some kind of aloe in them that make your feet soft! It's like magic. We all loved them.
I took Aileen shopping to pick out her ornaments for her sisters and brother and she really knows what she is doing. She got Anne Marie a Dorothy and Wizard of Oz ornament because Anne Marie was born in Kansas and lived there most of her growing up life.
And for Allison and John she got an ornament that was called the "Welcome Home to Mexico" ornament and that is were John served his mission and also where Allison & John spent their Honeymoon! Allison and John gave Anne Marie an Ice Skating Santa (because Anne Marie loved ice skating in school) and Aileen a Skiing Snowman. They were very cute and loved by both girls!
My Sister Elizabeth made us all these beautiful necklaces out of washers...that we couldn't believe were washers! We all loved them.
My Sister and her husband got my Dad a Kindle to read books on and so my family got him the leather cover. We got him all fixed up that night and downloaded the scriptures to his Kindle.
I made the pictures of the Savior around the Apostles "The Living Christ"
And you should have seen Allison tear up when Aunt Amber (who is the world best cookie maker) gave her cookie cutters and her recipes!!!!! She was thrilled!
And from Mom & Dad they all got the traditional Christmas PJ's When they were little I made them. Once they became teenagers Old Navy is my best friend!!!!
My dad gave us all a beautiful picture book about the Savior with a CD that went with it of Songs by Hillary Weeks!
It was a beautiful time together as family and a perfect way to celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Last weekend.....

Last weekend we went to Dallas to watch my nephew Tytan play a basketball game and then went to Cici's Pizza afterward to watch them get their Trophies for winning the 3rd Grade Championship! Did I mention that his team is all 2nd graders? Awesome! My brother George is the Coach and he does such an amazing job with these boys! Aileen had a ball....anytime you go to a "all you can eat buffet" Aileen is in heaven! Good times!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Dad is dating.....

Really weird phenomena to have your father dating. But he is and it is amazing and wonderful to see him so happy again! He told me that he has never been so happy except with my mother! So yes you guessed it he's not just dating, he's in love. She is an amazing and lovely person who I have known and loved for many years, so it is kind of nice to see her happy with my father as well, and yet once again strange. Sometimes I look at them and say, of course it's perfect. And then sometimes I look at Barb and want to say "Really? My dad?". Funny the thoughts you get sometimes. Interestingly enough Barbara has been apart of our families life in different ways for several years so my Children makes sense and feels like she definitely belongs! I have had several times since my mother died that I would see Barbara and the thought would come to me that it would be great if Barbara and my Dad started dating....of which I mentioned nothing to my father. So I think my Heavenly Father and maybe even my Mom were preparing me for this so that it would not be so shocking! Ohhh to be 69 and in love again (yes, that is my dad!).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Oh no, my diet coke.....

Interesting experience. Thursday after work I went and bought some refrigerator 12/packs of Diet coke with lime as we were out of Diet Coke at our house and anyone who knows me, knows that this is serious!!!! This morning I opened one of the 12 packs for the first time and while getting Alan, Aileen and myself a drink, I pull out a Caffeine Free Diet Coke can amongst the Diet Coke with Lime cans. At first Alan and I just laugh and think its funny and I was just going to drink it, but then I looked closer at the can and it was a little dented and a little dirty and sticky and I thought, wait, what if someone has tampered with this can and put something in the diet coke. Unfortunately, I didn't think about not drinking any of the other cans that were in that same package, so we did and so far I would say we are all o.k. - lol! I did however go to the diet coke website and go to the contact us page and tell them about my experience, to which I got an immediate response with more questions and a request that I save the can and packaging until a representative contacts me. I looked at the box packaging at the time that we first got the mixed up can and didn't notice anything but when I had to start getting dates and numbers off of cans and packaging for the Diet Coke people I noticed that both ends of the box had been taped shut with clear packaging tape. So, interesting.......

Thursday, January 14, 2010


My mind has been whirling around because I have been really thinking and pondering about something. A very dear friend of mine who also has an adult disabled child moved her daughter to a group home sort of situation. I have no doubt that this was a very hard decision and one that she did not take lightly and only did after much prayer and personal revelation. So this has made me stop and ponder and think about Aileen. I have always sworn that I would never put Aileen in any kind of situation other than living with us or with her family after we are gone. But is that really fair to our children? Is it fair to Aileen? But I have to tell you honestly, this past summer we had a situation at her Adult Day Care that just solidified my resolve that putting her in any situation where she is not living with family could never happen because of the evil that is in this world and the way that Satan convinces others to take advantage of those who cannot defend themselves or even tell anyone about it.

But to be honest I have worried that once Alan and I are gone, is it really fair to my children and their families to have to take on this responsibility and maybe I should not have made them promise me they would always take care of her even if they had to take turns every 6 months or every year etc... Not that my children have ever said anything but "Of course we are going to take care of Aileen" they love her. I know it and she knows it. But I would be devastated if it broke up their marriage or their family because of them having to take care of Aileen. It is a strain on any relationship and even though people say...."of course we will love her and take care of her".....the day to day is difficult and my girls are use to it as they have grown up with it but others (spouses, children) might not really understand what it means.

So I have been doing a lot of praying and soul searching to see if I'm being selfish or a good mother! And I guess thank goodness this decision doesn't have to be made right away because I think it will take a long time of prayer and study etc... to get my answer!

The flip side is that Aileen is a blessing to any home. And that while you think you are giving service to her, she is really teaching you so very much about God, the Plan of Salvation, love, service, patience and how God must see us as his Children. And that would be a blessing to any home and any Grandchildren or Great Grandchildren that I might have in the future!

So as you can see I have been very thoughtful........

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I knew it would work.....

So after Allison saw a picture of her sock, she emailed me a close-up picture of John's sock! see how cute they look together now??? Just like the couple they are made for!

Friday, January 8, 2010

It's finished....

Well, I finally finished Allison's new Christmas Sock! I know I'm a little behind, but I didn't decide to make her a new one until the week of Christmas. I wanted to make her a new one so it was a little more grown up and more like her husband John's (I made his for Christmas because it's a tradition). My Grandmother Clay made all of her Children, their spouses, and all of her 58 Grandchildren sequined Christmas Socks. When her grandchildren started getting married and having Great-grandchildren, she told us either our mothers or ourselves would have to make them to match! So when I got married and had our first baby I was very excited to make Alan and Anne Marie a Christmas sock with sequins that you buy in a package with the pattern all printed for you (I always add more sequins, its more festive that way). They turned out great and I was excited to carry on this tradition. When our second baby came and needed a Christmas sock we were living in Utah and I went to my grandmother's home and borrowed one of her patterns that she had made because she started designing her own patterns from coloring books etc..... So that is how Aileen's came to be. So when Allison was born, I thought I would try to make my own pattern. Well, I never have liked it. I always felt like Allison got the short end of the stick on Christmas socks. But when I saw hers hanging next to John's I knew it was time to make a better sock for my youngest! So this is hers that I just finished and I am going to ship it off to her. I forgot to take a picture of John's before they left town, so I have asked Allison to take a picture and email it to me......but so far, no luck! Maybe she will see this post and feel motivated to send a jpeg of John's Christmas sock, lol! I really love traditions!

I found this picture, it shows Allison's old one and how it doesn't really fit with the others. You can't see the details very well of John's but you can see that now John's and Allison's will go together! Yay!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year Tradition......

For several years now I have been making Calendars for the new year with family photos and memories for the Brown Family. The main reason I got started making these calendars is because my mother always made them for our family The Clay's and we all loved them so much and would spend hours looking at and laughing at the photos that I thought it would be a good family tradition to start with the Browns. And they were a hit. Everyone waits for them to come and then loves looking at the pictures and laughing can't help but enjoy the memories. Well, I finally finished the Brown Calendar yesterday and was so excited to send it via Internet to the printers. Then all last night I had trouble sleeping and realized my mind was focus on the fact that no one would be making the Clay calendar this year. And in fact, we were all rather surprised that Mom didn't make one last it has been 2 yrs for the Clays and I really, really don't want this tradition to today I made the Clay calendar and it has been sent off to the printer as well and I can't wait to give them to everyone, because I know it will mean a great deal to my family to have this tradition continue on....even though Mom is gone!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What a way to ring in the new year.......

Happy New Year everyone and on January 2nd we were able to attend the wedding and reception of someone we feel very attached to in many different ways! It was a morning wedding and Reception with a brunch kind of menu. The food was really good. It was more casual and very practical as the bridesmaids and even the mother's wore pants with the green or blue color tops. It was an "under the sea theme" and was a great deal of fun and very beautiful. The cake was so moist and very good, and the shells were made of chocolate and they looked so real that everyone doubted they were edible. The bride has always been so kind and loving to Aileen and Aileen was very excited to be included as one of the guest. She and I even got up to dance to "YMCA"!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kate & Pete's Wedding Reception

Kate Roger's one of Allison's BFF's all through High School and who is part of our family was married on December 29, 2009 in the Dallas Temple and a Reception was held in her honor at the Colonial Country Club that night. They looked so happy even though it had snowed that day and it never snows in Texas. Really Pete's family has no idea what Texas in December is really like because we have not had the usual Texas weather! They had a actual photo booth like what you see at fairs and malls that everyone sat in and had their pictures taken. One set of pictures were given to us as a favor and the other was placed on pages for the bride & groom and then we wrote our message to the happy couple beside our pictures! Very fun and something I had not seen before. Very cool! Some of the couples pictures turned out so cute with them kissing or being very cute and romantic in the booth, Alan and I however, with being bigger people were just trying to get both of us in the picture, lol, and since I was having to sit on his knee not have my chest and neck be the only thing you see!!!! Funny! We had a martini potato bar where the mashed potatoes where put in a martini glass and then you added all the different condiments that you wanted. They had wonderful food including prime rib and stuffed mushrooms etc.... it was all to die for! They had a rocking DJ. The toast by the MOH John John Merrifeld could not have been more perfect! I would say it was a beautiful night! As we left there was a candy bar with the clear candy sacks that we could fill with different selections of candy and they had sugar cookies with cute, cute pictures of the bride and groom as little children in the frosting! It was an amazing evening.....but the most amazing and wonderful thing is that they were married in the temple and will be together forever! Here's a few photo's (the mother of the bride looked amazing as well and I'm very disappointed that my picture of her did not turn out. Oh, Well!):

The happy couple!

The cake was beautiful

Awesome grooms cake - Pete is a musician as well as an Engineer student and was in a band so Kate surprised him with this grooms cake!

our photo booth pictures!