The all important event. How grateful we are for the birth of our Saviour. For without it we would not have the atonement.
(Sigh)..where do I start?
This year has been a year of gratitude. This year has been a year of sorrow. This year has been a year of growth. This year has been incredibly bitter-sweet. 2009 has only opened our eyes to the miracles of life and the miracles of death.
Many of you who are reading this have kept up with us through out the year. And for others this is the first time you've viewed our blog. For those of you who are new to our online journal, feel free to scroll down the page and select different month's through out the year. It's that simple. And for those of you who have walked our path with us this year, thank you. You are also welcomed to re-read our past posts as well.
Most, if not all of you, know about the passing of our sweet niece, Mercydez earlier this year. It has been a challenge to be positive at times. It has been a challenge to avoid "playing the victim" as some put it. I have come to realize, yet again, how important our choices are. Life gives us the opportunity to grow, to experience things. I believe it is WHAT WE DO WITH OUR EXPERIENCES that will determine our future, in the life hereafter. We have honestly been trying to be better because of Mercydez and all that she offered us. It is very humbling to say that some may have been present in my moments of weakness, sorrow, hurt, anger, and loss. I'll be the first to admit that in those vulnerable moments it is hard not to become something to be ashamed of. I am guilty. And I am also determined to not become that. President Monson put it perfectly, "It is important to allow yourself to feel, to acknowledge. It is equally important not to dwell." That is obviously paraphrased. But that has been the knot in our rope that has kept us from completely breaking.
Mercydez taught us so much about true unconditional love. Mercydez taught us the importance of service. Her entire life, the 14-1/2 months (not quite) was for her family. She was serving us through example and endurance. Some may question what I mean by this. I don't know how to put in to words exactly what I know to be a truth. What an incredible little girl. I can't wait to see her again, because we WILL see her again. We are grateful for this knowledge and testimony. We don't know what we would have done, or what our family would have done, without this vital information.
God loves us. God loves you. He is an all loving God. He has offered us one thing in this world that is truly ours, and that is our agency, through the gift of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Our right to choose for ourselves what we will/will not do is a gift. This is totally and completely ours. When someone we know and love is suffering, it is one of two things (in my opinion). It is a trial to make us better people and teach us something (if we're open enough to search/find for the message) or it is an act of agency. We'll be the first to admit, again, that during the trial it is almost impossible to see "the message". We aren't saying it's always blatantly obvious or easy. Sometimes we may not understand the "why's" until long after the experience.
This is my testimony. This is not doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormon church). Just because we or someone we know is suffering doesn't mean God doesn't love you/them. If anything, I believe Heavenly Father is crying right along with you...with us. Heavenly Father wouldn't leave...what loving father would?! We know He was there the entire time with Mercydez and my family. We believe He still is. He cares. We are his spirit-children.
This is something I am seeing for the first time in my 25 years. Which takes us full circle. It is what we do with our experiences that will determine our lives in the life hereafter.
Even the very essence of time is a gift, it is something that truly isn't ours. No, we only have our agency, our choices. We only have the great opportunity and responsibility to decide who we are going to be and what we will be capable of.
With the many great and extremely hard experiences we have been privileged to be a part of, I can't help but keep our Christmas letter simple. We have had great opportunities to travel, to learn, improve our futures through work and school, to become better people. We credit our faith, our families, our Heavenly Father and our brother, Jesus Christ for these opportunities. It is only through the great act of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, that we are able to overcome our trials, our sorrows, our sins and become better than had we not experienced the "hard" things in life. There is reason to hope. There is great reason to hope.
Classic! Uncle Trav & Keegan. He LOVES his Uncle Trav!!
So my studdly husband submitted two pieces to the Springville Museum of Art (SMA) a few weeks ago for an Art Educator's Competition. Both pieces were accepted! We are both so excited! He submitted his Radiohead piece and his Beatles piece, both of which are incredibly unique and thought out. We were bumbed when we found out his pieces were being displayed in the basement - but when we found them, we understood why. Some of the accepted pieces were....well not very professional. I don't mean to bash, I was just caught off guard. Travis works so hard on his art - I'm sure the others do too. After seeing the other pieces I was gently reminded how incredibly good Travis is. Click on the blue writing to see more of the SMA.
If you have the chance go to the SMA. It's free to get in. It's a nice activity too. The Educator's stuff is being exhibited downstairs. On the main floor is a Religious/Spiritual exhibit going on. There are some gorgeous piece being displayed.
Oh my heck! The snow is just a comin'. I love it. Christmas shouldn't be brown, green, or any other color. It should only be WHITE!
View from our driveway taken a few minutes ago.
Earlier this week Trav & I were able to go to Temple Square with Kody & his date, Natalie, to have dinner, see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert, and enjoy the lights on Temple Square - which are incredible by the way.
It was sooooooo cold but equally as beautiful. Unfortunately we didn't make it to the concert. Traffic was so bad it took us nearly 45 minutes to move three blocks. By the time we were parked and at the Conference Center it was too late. They wouldn't let us in. So we watched a portion of it in the tabernacle.
A small portion of Christmas lights at Temple Square. Click on the blue writing to see some other pictures of Temple Square.
We look cold - don't you think?!?
After getting warm and enjoying the broadcast Christmas Concert, we made our way home. Thankfully Kody was willing to drive because both Trav & I were exhausted. We slept the whole way home. Yeah, crappy double date on our part. Sorry Kody! But we made the best of our situation. :)
Last night I had the great opportunity to go up to Riverton and join in on a Christmas Caroling party, hosted by my incredible sister-in-law, Alicia, for her adorable daughter (my niece), Marin.
It was soooo fun! A little crazy but SO fun! There were 20 something girls there all the age of 10 or 11. Needless to say there was lots of energy and excitement surrounding the entire evening. Alicia manned the front of the group and I took over the back. It felt like we were herding sheep or something! Sooo many bodies to watch out for! :)
Herding our sheep. ;)
Marin was having such a blast!
Alicia is such a good spirited person. She's up for ANYTHING!
I had to take a shot of this! The girls had so much energy...but got tired after caroling for approx 45 min. This was our last home we caroled at. Funny huh?
One of the homes we blessed with Christmas Caroling! :) Yes, they eventually answered the door.
Alicia did an INCREDIBLE job with things! She has a way of doing things so no one gets bored or feels left out. After we went caroling for 30 - 45 minutes we went back to the house, had hot chocolate & treats, and played a gift-exchange-game.
While the girls were eating their goodies and enjoying hot chocolate I over heard their conversations. Listed below are some of my favorite quotes:
1) "Edwards six pack is soooo small, but Jacob's is HUGE!"
2) "Seriously, Edwards six pack is so little...it's like 3 inches, I swear!"
3) "Did you know Taylor Swift is dating Jacob?"
4) "I just have to say Jacob is hot! I have a magazine with pictures of him all over!"
Obviously these gals are Twilighters. Alicia and I were just laughing!
Isn't this the C-U-T-E-S-T?!?!?! I love how excited the children get!
It was such a great way to kick off the Christmas season! Thank you Alicia and Marin for inviting me to come!! It was sooooo fun!!!!
But I have to brag! Travis has to go through a-sort-of testing at his school. All licensed and unlicensed teachers have to. At his school it's called JPAS (I dont' know what it's called elsewhere). To be JPAS'ed means one of the assistant principles or the principle comes and sits in multiple classes and evaluates EVERYTHING. I'm talking evaluating teacher-student interaction, types of questions asked, how teachers respond to questions, how material is presented, and the list goes on and on and on. They JPAS the teachers who aren't licensed yet two or three times a school year (as apposed to the licensed teacher who are JPAS'ed every couple of years).
Travis has been pretty stressed about being JPAS'ed. He did a lot of homework and preparation for the dreadful day (he was given a vague timeline as to when it'd happen - they aren't specific because they don't want the teacher to plan a special lesson...while unbeknownst to them the teacher really sucks).
Well it happened a couple of weeks ago. The assistant principle came and sat in class with him for two days. She analyzed and filled in the blanks/bubbles, interviewed him shortly after (but didn't give him any results really), and left it at that.
I guess Travis was pulled in today and was shown his score. He has the highest JPAS score she's EVER seen!!!! She told him how incredible he did, how Oquirrh Hills is so lucky to have him, how he's a first year teacher but teaches like he's not...incredible huh?
Travis was completely shocked but I'm not. Teaching is in his blood. He's a natural - and like I said before, people are just DRAWN to him. He's charismatic. He's the furthest thing from judgemental, he's a good listener, he truly cares about others. So, I'm really not surprised.
In fact, he told me Jennifer (the assistant principle who JPAS'ed him) said the other assistant principle excitedly volunteered to JPAS Travis next because "he wants to see him at work". Again, this says A LOT about my boy!
Trav would be embarrassed that I'm writing - okay BRAGGING - about all this but he deserves it. He was so nervous, yet here he is pulling out the highest scores the assistant principle has ever seen (and she's been around for quite a few years).
Congratulations my handsome husband! You're so awesome!!