Friday, December 4, 2009

We're Moving.... sort of.

The wonderful thing about owning a Mac, is the ability to create your own web page one of their amazing programs. It is way user friendly, and I don't need to be on the internet to create new blog entries. After much frustration with Blogger lately, we have decided to make the switch. Please follow us at
The New Downstage Center

This also allows us to be a bit more pritave. I enjoy writing many of my posts as journal entries, unedited and personal and this allows me to. I can even password protect my site if I want. So please add us to your blog roll. I am pretty sure you can subscribe to it in reader. If not, then add us to your "private" links. The new site will eventually have a link to this blog, once I get that page finished.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ry Guy Time

Walking with Faith and Courage

We are living in trying times. The past few months especially, Matt and I have been bombarded with trial after trial. We walk two steps forward, then get pushed 3 steps back. One thing after another. We have opened our home to many a friend in need, given of ourselves beyond our means, only to be for lack of a better word, betrayed, as well as hurt by some of those we have cared for. In addition, we have had to watch as friends have lost their parents unexpectedly, gotten divorced, lost jobs, or forced to take pay cuts and lose insurance benefits, ourselves included. Many people are angry with the government, politics, and at God. The way we cope with these feelings is what defines us. My husband is more inclined to vocalize his feelings than I am in situations such as these. I have learned the hard way, that when I open my mouth when I am angry, I often find myself apologizing later. My family consists of two types of people, outspoken and tough, and quiet and meek. While I am usually fall in the first category, I am teaching myself to live somewhere in the middle, to walk with faith and courage and meekness.

"Some people mistakenly think responses such as silence, meekness, forgiveness, and bearing humble testimony are passive or weak. But to 'love [our] enemies, bless them that curse [us], do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them which despitefully use [us], and persecute [us]' (Matthew 5:44) takes faith, strength, and, most of all, Christian courage. . . .

"When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we too stand with the Savior. We show forth His love, which is the only power that can subdue the adversary and answer our accusers without accusing them in return. That is not weakness. That is Christian courage."

Robert D. Hales

When it comes to feelings of betrayal and hurt, I internalize my feelings. I feel sorry for myself, pick myself up, dust myself off, and reach for the one thing that will NEVER leave me. That is my faith. My faith is what defines me. I am lucky. I know who I am, and I know where I come from. I may not know exactly where I am going here on earth, but I know my final destination. I have an incredible heritage. In a world where some people don't know the names of their grandparents, I have pictures, and records, documents, stories and journals going back seven and eight generations.

One of those journals is of a woman named Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt. She is my 6th great grandmother. She was the epitome of a strong woman. She knew the church was true, and started the journey west before being baptised. Along the way they encountered sickness, the death of a prophet and many other members, she lost her husband, three of her children, and most of her money and personal things. And still, she forged ahead. Her daughters went on to marry Jacob Hamblin and his brother William. Here is a small portion of her journals during the time the prophet Joseph Smith was killed.

"Oh, the sorrow and trouble that was just at our doors! We knew they had Joseph in prison and threatened to take his life, but that was nothing new nor strange, for his enemies always did that, but we did not believe they could have power to murder him; and he lived above the law. The law could have no power over him, but powder and balls could, so they shot him in Carthage jail. When the news came the whole city of Nauvoo was thunderstruck; such mourning and lamentation was seldom ever heard on the earth. There was many, myself among them, that would gladly have died if his life could have been spared by doing so. I never had spoken to the man in my life, but I had seen him and heard him preach and know that he was a prophet of God, sent here by the Almighty to set up His kingdom, no more to be thrown down, and now how was that great and important work to be accomplished? Brigham Young was the man clothed with all the power and authority of Joseph. My husband said that he had the same spirit, the same voice, and if he had not known Joseph was dead he would actually have thought it was Joseph. Brigham was gone to the east when Joseph was killed. Rigdon tried hard to lead the church and get established in that place before Brother Brigham got to Nauvoo, but his deceit and lies were proved as the twelve returned about this time.
We went to the city and was there when the bodies of the martyred prophets were brought into the city. It was after dark that they passed the house - it was Brother Snow's, a Doctor Clinton and his wife Melissa were there and they expected the mob would come into the city that night to kill the rest of the saints. There was orders for every man to arm himself and prepare to defend the city. The moon shone uncommonly bright, as we could see quite a distance.
They had guards out in every direction; they had a drum that could be heard a number of miles and when there was any danger they would beat that drum, and every one that was able would take what ever weapon they could get and run to the city and guard it. We lived three miles from the city and I don't know how many nights we left the place when the alarm drum was beaten. All of our men would run to the place appointed, but we had to move to the Mound, seven miles from there. We did so, but the guard had to be kept up at the Mound, for we had enemies on every side, all threatening to exterminate the Mormons. But I for one did not fear them, for I knew that we were in the hands of God and He would make the wrath of man praise Him and turn all their threats for the good of His saints, and it was so, for the Lord wanted His people to get up onto these mountains and raise an ensign that the scriptures might be fulfilled. But he saw that they would no go willingly, so He suffered their enemies to drive them.The enemy would ravage, steal and plunder and murder and no power in the United States to stop them! The Mormons could get no help because they believed the Gospel was restored to earth by an angel. The priests knew that if that doctrine prevailed there was no chance for them, and as the ax struck at the root of every denomination, they all joined together to help destroy the work of God. There were many ministers of different denominations that took the lead of mobs and were determined to put a stop to Mormonism. But it has increased the more they have opposed it and will continue to increase until the knowledge of God covers the earth, for all their burning buildings and killing the brethren. But there was no fear in my heart, for I knew we were in the hands of God, and He would do all things right."
-Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt

When I think that I have it rough, this is who I think about. My trials are very small in comparison to hers. She walked with faith in her every step. Here are a few more small excerpts from her journal that are now on plaques around a statue of her in St. George.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dear Santa

These are the ONLY two things we want.

P.S. The mixer needs to be 6 qt.
and color doesn't matter.
Thanks :0)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Carving Time!

Every year about this time, we get together with Rick and Tony and carve pumpkins!
Rick is out of town, and his girlfriend Fayanna is here in his place.
It had tried to snow all day, so we ate yummy soup and cornbread,
popped in the Nightmare Before Christmas, and set forth carving.

Tony's Baltimore Ravens pumpkin

Matts Pirate Skull

My blackbird.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Party 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall is in full swing...

It has been a crazy busy few weeks for us. We have been fighting nasty flu bugs, one of my sisters tested positive for H1N1 but fortunately, we didn't catch it. Being very busy at work for 8 days straight didn't help matters either, but we survived!
This week we are recouping, and enjoying our godson Tony and his dog Chaz for a few days while his dad is out of town, as well as savoring the few beautiful fall days that have occured. Our weather has been all over the place! We have had everything from snow to rain to nearly 80 degree weather. And that was all in 1 week!

Fall also means Halloween. Matt and I are really trying hard to put together costumes better than last year! Its kind of a daunting task! I'm not going to say what our plans are, you will just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Couple Random Photos

Ella thinks she is a lap dog :)

A few cute pictures of Ry-guy. I watch him during the days, when I can, while Codie and Danielle are at work.

Words from a Prophets Voice

I have never been more grateful to have a living, breathing, Prophet of God on this earth to help guide and direct me, than I am now. I hope his words touch you the way they have touched me.

This is a talk given November 2008, by President Thomas S. Monson

My dear brothers and sisters, I am humbled as I stand before you this morning. I ask for your faith and prayers in my behalf as I speak about those things which have been on my mind and which I have felt impressed to share with you.

I begin by mentioning one of the most inevitable aspects of our lives here upon the earth, and that is change. At one time or another we’ve all heard some form of the familiar adage: “Nothing is as constant as change.”

Throughout our lives, we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome; some are not. There are changes in our lives which are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an unforeseen illness, the loss of a possession we treasure. But most of the changes take place subtly and slowly.

This conference marks 45 years since I was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. As the junior member of the Twelve then, I looked up to 14 exceptional men, who were senior to me in the Twelve and the First Presidency. One by one, each of these men has returned home. When President Hinckley passed away eight months ago, I realized that I had become the senior Apostle. The changes over a period of 45 years that were incremental now seem monumental.

This coming week Sister Monson and I will celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary. As I look back to our beginnings, I realize just how much our lives have changed since then. Our beloved parents, who stood beside us as we commenced our journey together, have passed on. Our three children, who filled our lives so completely for many years, are grown and have families of their own. Most of our grandchildren are grown, and we now have four great-grandchildren.

Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now. The lives of all of us, of course, go through similar alterations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes.

This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.

I am what my wife, Frances, calls a “show-a-holic.” I thoroughly enjoy many musicals, and one of my favorites was written by the American composer Meredith Willson and is entitled The Music Man. Professor Harold Hill, one of the principal characters in the show, voices a caution that I share with you. Says he, “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.”1

My brothers and sisters, there is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today.

I’ve shared with you previously an example of this philosophy. I believe it bears repeating. Many years ago, Arthur Gordon wrote in a national magazine, and I quote:

“When I was around thirteen and my brother ten, Father had promised to take us to the circus. But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgent business required his attention downtown. We braced ourselves for disappointment. Then we heard him say [into the phone], ‘No, I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.’

“When he came back to the table, Mother smiled. ‘The circus keeps coming back, you know,’ [she said.]

“‘I know,’ said Father. ‘But childhood doesn’t.’”2

If you have children who are grown and gone, in all likelihood you have occasionally felt pangs of loss and the recognition that you didn’t appreciate that time of life as much as you should have. Of course, there is no going back, but only forward. Rather than dwelling on the past, we should make the most of today, of the here and now, doing all we can to provide pleasant memories for the future.

If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly.

Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.”3 We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.

Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.” Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”4

In the 1960s, during the Vietnam War, Church member Jay Hess, an airman, was shot down over North Vietnam. For two years his family had no idea whether he was dead or alive. His captors in Hanoi eventually allowed him to write home but limited his message to less than 25 words. What would you and I say to our families if we were in the same situation—not having seen them for over two years and not knowing if we would ever see them again? Wanting to provide something his family could recognize as having come from him and also wanting to give them valuable counsel, Brother Hess wrote—and I quote: “These things are important: temple marriage, mission, college. Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year.”5

Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows.

In the book of John in the New Testament, chapter 13, verse 34, the Savior admonishes us, “As I have loved you, … love one another.”

Some of you may be familiar with Thornton Wilder’s classic drama Our Town. If you are, you will remember the town of Grover’s Corners, where the story takes place. In the play Emily Webb dies in childbirth, and we read of the lonely grief of her young husband, George, left with their four-year-old son. Emily does not wish to rest in peace; she wants to experience again the joys of her life. She is granted the privilege of returning to earth and reliving her 12th birthday. At first it is exciting to be young again, but the excitement wears off quickly. The day holds no joy now that Emily knows what is in store for the future. It is unbearably painful to realize how unaware she had been of the meaning and wonder of life while she was alive. Before returning to her resting place, Emily laments, “Do … human beings ever realize life while they live it—every, every minute?”

Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude for our blessings.

Said one well-known author: “Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”6

In the Doctrine and Covenants, section 88, verse 33, we are told: “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.”

The ancient Roman philosopher Horace admonished, “Whatever hour God has blessed you with, take it with grateful hand, nor postpone your joys from year to year, so that in whatever place you have been, you may say that you have lived happily.”

Many years ago I was touched by the story of Borghild Dahl. She was born in Minnesota in 1890 of Norwegian parents and from her early years suffered severely impaired vision. She had a tremendous desire to participate in everyday life despite her handicap and, through sheer determination, succeeded in nearly everything she undertook. Against the advice of educators, who felt her handicap was too great, she attended college, receiving her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Minnesota. She later studied at Columbia University and the University of Oslo. She eventually became the principal of eight schools in western Minnesota and North Dakota.

She wrote the following in one of the 17 books she authored: “I had only one eye, and it was so covered with dense scars that I had to do all my seeing through one small opening in the left of the eye. I could see a book only by holding it up close to my face and by straining my one eye as hard as I could to the left.”7

Miraculously, in 1943—when she was over 50 years old—a revolutionary procedure was developed which finally restored to her much of the sight she had been without for so long. A new and exciting world opened up before her. She took great pleasure in the small things most of us take for granted, such as watching a bird in flight, noticing the light reflected in the bubbles of her dishwater, or observing the phases of the moon each night. She closed one of her books with these words: “Dear … Father in heaven, I thank Thee. I thank Thee.”8

Borghild Dahl, both before and after her sight was restored, was filled with gratitude for her blessings.

In 1982, two years before she died, at the age of 92 her last book was published. Its title: Happy All My Life. Her attitude of thankfulness enabled her to appreciate her blessings and to live a full and rich life despite her challenges.

In 1 Thessalonians in the New Testament, chapter 5, verse 18, we are told by the Apostle Paul, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God.”

Recall with me the account of the 10 lepers:

“And as [Jesus] entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

“And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

“And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

“And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

“And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

“There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”9

Said the Lord in a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, “In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things.”10 May we be found among those who give our thanks to our Heavenly Father. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.

Despite the changes which come into our lives and with gratitude in our hearts, may we fill our days—as much as we can—with those things which matter most. May we cherish those we hold dear and express our love to them in word and in deed.

In closing, I pray that all of us will reflect gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His glorious gospel provides answers to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where does my spirit go when I die?

He taught us how to pray. He taught us how to serve. He taught us how to live. His life is a legacy of love. The sick He healed; the downtrodden He lifted; the sinner He saved.

The time came when He stood alone. Some Apostles doubted; one betrayed Him. The Roman soldiers pierced His side. The angry mob took His life. There yet rings from Golgotha’s hill His compassionate words, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”11

Earlier, perhaps perceiving the culmination of His earthly mission, He spoke the lament, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”12 “No room in the inn”13 was not a singular expression of rejection—just the first. Yet He invites you and me to receive Him. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”14

Who was this Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief? Who is the King of glory, this Lord of hosts? He is our Master. He is our Savior. He is the Son of God. He is the Author of our Salvation. He beckons, “Follow me.”15 He instructs, “Go, and do thou likewise.”16 He pleads, “Keep my commandments.”17

Let us follow Him. Let us emulate His example. Let us obey His word. By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude.

Brothers and sisters, my sincere prayer is that we may adapt to the changes in our lives, that we may realize what is most important, that we may express our gratitude always and thus find joy in the journey. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

A Remarkable Story

A man describes his journey from the tragedy and trauma of

To hope, and healing.

(click on the underlined link for the video)

The Infinite Power of Hope

I was watching some videos today and this one struck me.
It seems to me that many of us are in dire need of a little

(click on the word hope to be taken to the video)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Piper Video 2