Bolivar Ward Christmas Party

Normally these Christmas parties are about 2-3x larger, but the weather has been horrible & effected our numbers. But...the weather couldn't stop Santa from coming! It was a fun night.

Let the cookie decorating begin!

2nd annual cookies with the Jacobs.


Snow & the Christmas spirit

Our latest snow storm....
...and completely unrelated, but some principles/scriptures that have been in my heart lately & that have really invited the true spirit of Christmas (as cliche as that sounds) into my heart this season. 

Matthew 25:40
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." 

Alma 29:1-3
"O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!
Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.
 But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me."

Moroni 7:6-8
"For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God."

I especially LOVE this scripture in Matthew! The acts of service we perform are just to people that we rub shoulders with every day. One woman that I visit teach (if you don't know what that is, you can see here) has classified herself as a "loser". She's very lonely and home bound much of the time. She's hasn't been to church for years and years...most of the women I visit teach are not active church goers. I guess it would be easy to write off visiting them. They don't come to church anyways. But that's not how I feel! I feel so much more desire to just shower them with love. I know this love is not me- I'm so imperfect- but it is a divine gift of the spirit. As I try to be obedient & serve, the Lord blesses me with a little piece of the love the Lord has for them. I hope they can feel it through me. 

And this is where Alma 29 comes in. Sometimes I dream of doing great things & really leaving my mark on the world.  I want to help people come closer to Christ.  I know how my relationship with Him has been life changing.  I love the Lord & my greatest desire is to be an instrument in his hands. But it hit me one day that just as Alma, I should be "content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me". And that is serving those in my small circle of friends/influence.

"Father, where shall I work today?
And my love flowed warm & free.
Then He pointed out a tiny spot
And said, "Tend that for me."
I answered quickly "Oh no; not that!"
Why, no one would ever see,
No matter how well my work was done;
Not that little place for me."
And the word He spoke, it was not stern;
He answered me tenderly: "
Ah, little one, search that heart of thine
Art thou working for them or for me?
Nazareth was a little place,
And so was Galilee."
--Meade McGuire

 And then a week or so ago, I came across Moroni 7:6-8 in my scripture study. At the time it struck me, because the previous day I had grudgingly served my husband. :)  I realized that serving with a bad attitude would never have the power to change me and help me become a better person.  And who wants to be accounted as evil.

That night I happily sat down to dinner with my family- happy partially because of the "service high" I had from gladly taking a meal to a woman I used to visit teach and I was even ahead of the game & had prepared extra food. We were now set with awesome leftovers (we love leftovers in this household)! 

And then I got a phone call. A woman in our ward needed a meal & things had fallen through with someone else bringing it. I looked at my plethora of food & remembered Moroni 7. And before any resentment could creep in, I willingly began to throw together a last minute meal. As I packed things in ziplock bags I realized that maybe it was no coincidence that I'd prepared extra food that day...and maybe it was no coincidence that the woman had called me (the one with the extra food) to see if I could take the meal. My heart was filled with gratitude because I knew that the Lord had guided me in my actions & scripture studying that day.

I've reflected on these scriptures and it just fills me with joy! It feels so good to shift my focus away from what I'll receive this year & instead focus on what part of me I can give the Savior.


Family pictures...take 2

So my cousin Rachelle (her website here) & I did a little family photo swap (I did hers, she did mine). I told her- I just want one where the kids are at least looking in the direction of the camera (I swear my kids are the worst I've ever seen when it comes to family pictures!)...and she was awesome!  To my surprise she got more than one (not that I was doubting her abilities...just my kids! haha).  Maybe next year I'll have trained my children to actually smile.  Thanks Rachelle! We love them!
And these were a few I snapped while the kids were playing around after our pictures (minus the ones where they are sitting by each other.  Those I threatened & bribed to get them to sit still!).


Sister Burt & Sister Torres

Once upon a time (10 years ago if I'm counting right), I was a young twenty-something walking the streets of Spain, stopping strangers on the street to invite them to hear a message about Jesus Christ. I was young. The land & language were foreign. It was hard...so hard. So much rejection. Many times I felt inadequate. But I was willing and I so much wanted to be an instrument in the hands of God. Like all heart felt service, I can sincerely say that I gained much more than I ever gave.

In the area in which I live (Bolivar, MO area), there are 4 missionaries- two boys (or elders) & two girls (or sisters). I have a soft spot in my heart for them. I love them & I want to remember every one of them & their examples of selfless service. They uplift me & my family when we invite them into our home.  I wish everyone could get to know them & see their quiet examples of good! They are true disciples of Christ & examples of charity to me. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Sooo...in an effort to do so, I thought it'd be fun to document the different missionaries that serve in our area. So here we go...
burt & torres11.12.13-web
Sister Burt (left) & Sister Torres (right)

Sister Torres
From- Gulroy, California

Before the mission- she graduated from Gilroy High School

Hobbies- drawing & running

After the mission plans- go to the LDS Business College for an associates in Medical Assisting.

Family- consists of her mom & dad & 2 brothers & a sister (also serving a mission- Salt Lake City spanish speaking).

Testimony- "The gospel was introduced to my family when my mother was about 15 years old. They accepted it into their lives and because of that I now have the gospel in my life and have felt the joy and peace that comes from it. I know that this gospel is true and I know the blessings that come from it and that is part of the reason why I decided to come on a mission- to share the truthfulness of this gospel with others, so they can feel the blessings that I have felt from it."

Favorite scripture- 1 Nephi 8:12- "And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit."

Sister Burt
From- Rigby, Idaho

Before the mission- studied Early Childhood Care & Education at Idaho State University

Hobbies- Flute, Crafts

After the mission plans- I want to work in a preschool and some day I want to have mine own.

Family- an older sister, younger sister & younger brother

Testimony- "I know this church is true.  Going out every day and teaching people about it, my testimony has grown so much.  I can't imagine my life without this gospel.  It has brought me so much peace and comfort.  We are so blessed to have a prophet who leads us in these days.  I know he is a prophet of God.  I love bringing people this happiness that I have, and to see their lives change and to see them come closer to Christ."

Favorite scripture- Moroni 7:33- "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me."


October General Conference pictures...kinda

So remember our family tradition of taking general conference pictures (quick tangent- general conference was awesome!  My favorite talks were probably Uchtdorf & Richard G. Scott...gosh, I know I'm forgetting some.  And truth be told, I fell asleep & need to relisten to some of the talks! haha)  every april & october? Well, this year I wasn't feeling very good around conference time, so we postponed pictures. And then we thought, might as well wait for the fall leaves.

So last Sunday we met my sister at the park. I took pictures of her family & then I handed off my camera to her & she took pictures of our family. Sheena got some really good pictures of the tree...behind us...nevermind us in the foreground. But she did capture this gem. Isn't this how pictures with kids typically go?
After Sheena's lovely "scenery" pictures, we decided Bradley might be a little better with a camera. To his credit, he got some nice pictures of me & Chad (although, Chad's in trouble for one of his half hearted smiles- while I, on the other hand, look so in love & happy to be with him! haha).
Bradley also got one nice family shot where both kids were actually looking in the direction of the camera...but sadly, I handed the camera over to him with the settings slightly overexposed. Hard to recover a picture that's overexposed. The best way I know how...black & white! So here you go!
We're going to attempt these family pictures one more time. This time I've traded pictures with my cousin Rachelle. She's awesome. If the pictures don't turn out, it won't be her fault, but ours!

Halloween 2013

Now that I'm seeing everyone's cute halloween pictures (to name a few, my sister...my sister in law...my cousin), I halfway wish I would've...

#1- dressed up my kids (yes, this is their pajama top)
#2- get decent shot of them together.

Chad & me were just kinda like, 'Okay, let's do this thing!'.  So I snapped a few on-the-run sort of shots, we hit up 4 houses in the neighborhood, & then we (meaning Chad & me) decided to call it a night.

Oh well. I'm sure next year with Liam being a little older, we will have no choice but to make a bigger deal out of halloween. :)
Max was like this until Chad gave him a tootsie roll...& then he decided he likes halloween.
Our cute little neighbor girl that Liam adores.
The 1st house...& then it got too dark to get any decent picture :)


Out of the mouth of babes...

I've been waiting for the day that Liam would finally start talking & now that he is, there's times when he just won't stop.  Here's a few things that has come out of the mouth of this "babe" of mine.

Scenario #1
The sacrament is being passed.  All is quiet.  Behind us are our friends the Duncans with all their kids.  My boys have been swapping toys with them.  Liam addressing one of them in his normal volume says, "This is Max.  Max is so cute!"

Scenario #2
Chad is downstairs watching the Little Mermaid with Liam & Max (their new favorite movie!).  It is the point in the movie where Ariel has just rescued prince Eric & they are washed up on the beach.  Ariel pushes a strand of hair back from Eric's forehead & says, "He's so beautiful".  Liam looks back a Chad, pushes an imaginary strand of hair back from Chad's head & exclaims, "You are so beautiful!".  Then he asks Chad, "Is Liam so beautiful?".  "Yes, Liam is so beautiful," Chad has to reply.

I just love my boys!


Football season 2013

These are my brothers. Last time I took their football pictures was about 3 years ago. (click here to see)  Where has time gone & when did they get so big?!


Post Cruise...Orlando, FL

We were too cheap to visit the actual space center (Kennedy Space center...who knew admission was $50/each!), but we did find this free space center. Liam was in space ship heaven! When later asked what his favorite part of Florida was (which it can be disputed that he may not comprehend that question) he'd always reply "the spaceships"!
We had some time to kill before we could check into our hotel, so why not visit the beach?!
We arrived at the Shamu show 5 minutes before it was supposed to start.  There were absolutely NO seats left in the huge stadium...except the very front row.  And there's a reason those seats labeled "Splash Zone" were the only seats left.  Needless to say, I didn't take out my real camera, but I was able to get some footage on my iphone (which is in a waterproof case).
A 20 second roller coaster ride. (Please note- this was post the Shamu show in which we had front row seats in the splash zone...thus the smeared mascara, etc. (that Chad never bothered to mention to me!)).
And equally exciting train ride.
Clyde & Seamore show. This one was sooo cute! If you ever get a chance to go to Seaworld, make sure you get to this one & get there early! There's a funny pre-show thingy. :)
We got to do "Dine with Shamu". It was pretty cool, except for the fact that Liam only ate a hot dog & jello & we paid a $19 for his ticket in. Oh, & he decided he had to go "pee pee in toilet" during the climax of the Shamu presentation.
Since we were drenched by the first show & there's a lot that you miss when you're in the front row, we decided to go back & catch the last showing from a little higher :)  I was surprised how captivated Max was while watching all the shows.
Chad's dad drove down from Jacksonville to see us. It was fun seeing him. He's so cute with the boys- especially Liam. & we had a fun time going to Downtown Disney with him. Cool atmosphere. And it's always a hit with boys (no matter the age) when there's legos.
I have to admit, before the vacation, I was wondering, 'What vacation can ever seem that fun after traveling to Spain?', but really, it was so much fun! A totally different adventure & experience.

I can tell Liam loved it too because now he includes in each prayer he offers- "please bless the dolphins and please bless the whales...and please bless the beach and rocket ships...".

And that's it folks!  Both for these posts on this vacation...and for a while seeing how we did a fabulous job at totally depleting our vacation budget for awhile. I think our next vacation will be a little simpler :)