Sep 25, 2016

Scripture Power

This is one of those times when I know that I just have to sit down and write while it is fresh in my mind... now that the dust has settled.

Today was our Primary Sacrament meeting presentation. We work for the first 81/2 of the year towards this goal. As the 1st counselor in the Primary presidency it is my responsibility to *write* the script... but actually I just organize it... the children all write their own parts. We have monthly themes and during the year, as they give their talks in sharing time, I save their talks and that becomes their part in the Sacrament meeting presentation.

But the *meat and potatoes* of the presentation is ALWAYS the music. These wonderful songs will stay in their hearts for the rest of their lives, recalling the wonderful words of testimony.

The theme this year is *I Know the Scriptures are True*. We are given an outline from the General Primary, with a topic and song each month, but we are also given some discretion in adding songs. I knew that we needed to add *Scripture Power*. I love that song, mostly because it describes how the scriptures have blessed MY life.

I love the symbols of the *Sword of Truth* and the *Shield of Faith*. As I walked and sang last January I knew I NEEDED to get a *for real* sword of truth and shield of faith to use each time we sang the song. (they just so happen to sell them at Walmart! OK... I did add the lettering!)

A couple of weeks ago Brother Paul Bartholomew came and took photos of the children for our program covers. I then took the PDF file that I used to make the bulletin boards at the beginning of the year and cut and pasted all of the individual letters on to a digital ribbon to make tiny banners like we have in the primary room. (I spent one whole Sunday afternoon doing this)
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The Junior Primary
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The Senior Primary

Because I know the limitations of my little-girl-brain I always start early and have everything written and organized so that at the last minute I can just go on auto-pilot. I'm so grateful that I've learned how to deal with my learning/processing handicaps. I always make sure the children know that Primary is a safe place. We don't want anyone to feel stressed, anxious or uncomfortable. Each year we have children who struggle, just like little-Joanie used to, and I want them to know that I have their backs.

AND THE CHILDREN BLOOM AND SHINE

I'm so grateful to be with these wonderful children in Primary! They were wonderful, not only today, during the presentation, but during the two practices we had this last week. I'm blessed to work with wonderful sisters (and brothers) who love and teach these sweet spirits.

Traditionally Primary presidencies are call to serve for 3 years. Sadly, it was three years ago this week that we were called. Of course, nothing is set in stone but I am sad at the thought that I might not be with the children and that, likely, this was my last program.

I've set the bar high. I expect them to be reverent, to do their best and sing their hearts out... and you know what? They always do!

But here's the other thing... I will love to serve where ever the Lord needs me... because He's always right there with me.



Sep 10, 2016

64 y 25d

A common practice on grave markers was to list the person's age in years and days. My Mama, the original Grammy, died at 64y 24d.

This day, THIS DAY, I have out lived my sweet Mama.

I've thought on this so many times this last year. In April 1976 my Mom whacked her leg on the lawn mower and got a huge hematoma on her shin. Dr Batson told her she needed to take a few weeks off work and let it heal.

I was all in a dither because Miss Amanda was due mid-May. How could I manage without my Mama there? Finally, just days before I was due, Mama got the ok from Dr Batson to travel and my mind was at ease.

Since Mom lived several hundred miles away she took off when we called her to tell her the baby was on her way. She arrived in plenty of time to *take care of HER baby while I took care of my baby* (plus Tony and Rebekah). She mentioned, when she arrived, that her *gut* was getting big. She'd recently lost weight and couldn't figure why that should be. I, being all wrapped up in myself, just thought she was imagining it... she'd been off work for 4 weeks and couldn't stay busy.

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Grammy, Bekah, Amanda and Tony
June 11, 1976

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Mom's Aunt Ester lived in Portland, Oregon (we lived in Sweet Home, Oregon) and so after a couple of weeks of taking care of us she wanted to see her only aunt. She was gone for a few days and when she returned I notice that the blouses I'd make for her were snugger across her abdomen than when she'd arrive 3 weeks earlier.

That was the beginning... the first inclination that anything was wrong. After exhaustive tests it was finally diagnosed, from a abdominal fluid test, that she had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Prognosis- 6 months to 5 years.

REALITY- she died less than a year after coming to welcome Miss Manda!

MY MAMA WAS LIKE ME! (or perhaps, I like her). SHE WAS FIT AND ACTIVE AND VIVACIOUS AND LOVED HER FAMILY WITH ALL HER HEART! AND SHE WAS GONE!! Yup, and I was only 24 years old... my Mama's Mother died when she was 14. (I just can't like this!!)

So, as I said, I've reflected on this so many times as I go on my walks, work in the yard, serve at the Temple, tend my darling grandbabies... I'm living my Mama's last year of life.

And in true Elsie-fashion, even though she was dying, she filled her last few months with as many wonderful things as she could. Her last trip was to Ann's house for Andy's baptism in April 1977. Even though she and a friend drove to Utah she had to fly home she was so ill.

So, here I am... Grammie- 64 years and 25 days and doing just the kinds of things my Mama taught me to do... being a Grammie extraordinaire!

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Fiona's #3 birthday cake
for her
Fiona's Purple Party

And...

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And Grammy was here in spirit as I used her spatula-tor to frost cup-cake-REE-ouses!

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I love you Mama... thank you for always loving your little-Joanie!

Jul 10, 2016

The Blessing of the Temple

Today was my turn for sharing time. Usually I get started on it several days early but it totally slipped my mind until I was headed home last night at 10:30 after babysitting my littles. PANIC!! I knew this month's theme was the Temple and was so blessed and relieved when my topic was-
"Families are blessed through
sacred temple ordinances."

As I read through the sparse outline into my mind came exactly what I needed to share. My life would be so sad... so bereft of hope without the saving atonement of our Saviour, Jesus Christ and that through Him I have been sealed eternally to my wonderful celestial children! How could I possible go on without the hope of a glorious Resurrection? And an eternal association with my loved ones?

So I stayed up late and got up early so I could take my family with me to sharing time today. I found this wonderful snapshot was just perfect for showing my beautiful children at a very happy time. Christmas 1980 (7 months before Tony and Amanda died).


I also took along this photo that I put together back in December 2008. My Mama and Daddy... who love me and assist me from the other side of the veil!


When I talk of those wonderful temple blessings how could I not share their likeness?

Of course I get emotional when I share my deep faith and love for my family and the comfort I receive through the Holy Ghost. The spirit was so strong bearing testimony of the truths I was sharing...

Families Can Be Together Forever!

I made sure to identify to the children that what they were feeling was the Holy Ghost bearing witness to them than the things I was sharing are true!

After the closing song (Gethsemane led by several of my wonderful primary children... I was a mess) and closing prayer by Elder Oaks great-grandson, one very perceptive, precious girl (Zoie Smith) came and gave me the biggest, longest hug and thanked me for my lesson and testimony! What a sweetheart! She knew I needed that hug!

I am so blessed to be able to work with these wonderful children.

Jun 12, 2016

Jude's Quiet Book

Back at the end of March I got a text from Jessica-


So I was off on a mission. The only quiet books I'd ever been involved in previously were not for my family but usually some kind of church project... I have to admit that I HATED MAKING QUIET BOOKS !!

But I've found an interesting fact... when I make something for someone I love I usually end up enjoying the process. This time is no different and I love this whole new creativity outlet. That being said, there is always a HUGE learning curve involved with some new craft and this one was no different. Luckily I was able to use many other skills I've learned along this path-of-life as I made Jude's book.

And here's the happiest piece of news about being creative in 2016... PINTEREST! I'm not good at pulling things out of my head but I'm an adequate copy-artist... give me a picture and I can make a good interpretation of it! I've worked very hard to try to give credit for each of my ideas. Thank you for the generosity of idea sharing!!

Jude's Quiet Book-

This is when it pays off to be a hoarder-of-crafty-stuff-and-fabric! The only thing I had to buy was felt and a few other miscellaneous items.

I had this lovely cowboy fabric and ric-rack left over from a quilt I made for my friend Holly!

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The lady bug zipper makes me happy!
(inspiration)

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Shapey-shaper-tons! I love these! I used mini magnets for these but think I will just go with velcro or snaps next time.
(inspiration)

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Each shape name is written underneath.

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Put on the Whole Armour of God! I really dug deep into my ancient embellishment stash for these trims... some go back 40+ years!
(inspiration)

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I love this scripture from Ephesians 6:13-17

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I found these cute ready-made owls while I was browsing at Hobby Lobby. This is probably the easiest page I made. Next time I will put loops on the ends of the ribbons so it is easier to unsnap. Love these snaps!

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This next one may just be my favorite!! I just *winged-it* making the little worm/caterpillar! It took me two tries to get one I really liked! (And a serendipitous accident gave him a bulge part way down his body. I used an old bitty crochet hook saved from doing a L'Oreal Frost and Tip kit eons ago!)
(inspiration)

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I DIE!!

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This was another favorite. You'll notice that I included Pluto (he's still a planet in my book)!
(inspiration)

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I used snaps again here! I color coordinated each planet and snap to make matching easier. (I couldn't find a satisfactory way to write on felt, so I left the names off.)

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Sadly the inspiration for this page was an item that is no longer carried on Etsy. So I played around in photoshop with my pinterest photo and made up patterns. (I ended up doing that for many pages. Only two of the ideas came with free or low cost patterns)

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I loved the pockets to hold the vehicles.

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Counting page. The numbers velcro off. This was my very first page.
(inspiration)

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This is one of the few pages where the idea came with a pattern page! Bless her!!
(inspiration)

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The pieces are stored in the sand bucket.

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And this is a fun detail.

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This one cracks me up...
(inspiration)

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But last Sunday I had baby-Emmy with me all weekend and took some other pom-poms (I bought a ginormous bag) in a little box for her to play with at church. Erm... let's just say Grammie did a lot of bending to retrieve thrown pom-poms!

Both the front and back covers have pockets to stash extra things or for an "Oops! look what I found!" as you're walking out of your pew!

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And the finished spine. I may be back in a few days to do a tutorial on how I bound the finished pages together in a book, or maybe not. Either way I took lots of photos to remind myself how I did it next time I get the bug to make another quiet book.

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Jude may not be busy with this quiet book (I've also heard them called busy books) but it sure has kept Grammie busy for 100+ hours!

May 29, 2016

The Amazing Gordo

My husband's nickname isn't the Amazing Gordo for not'in'!!

Several years ago we were introduced to Zipfizz at Sam's Club. Initially I was pleased with this *slow* energy drink and found that it made a wonderful replacement for soda (NO sugar or aspertame)...

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But the security sealed wrap has proven to be a long-lasting problem. I've been known to stop strangers and ask for help in opening said seal! Without a sharp implement I can't open one of these vials.

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At home I have a handy-dandy paring knife that lives in the drawer nearest the pantry for this very purpose. When I travel I take that knife with me.

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A couple of weeks ago the Amazing Gordo thought about using a bottle opener. First he'd cut the wrapper and then use the opener. But yesterday, for some reason, he just tried the opener right from the start. It opened the vial like magic!!

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Who knew??

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So now I need to share my favorite Zipfizz story with you...

We all know that I suffer from dyslexia and, happily, a little bit of caffeine makes all of those random thought processes calm down and let me function a little more like a normal person (not that I've ever claimed to be normal!)

Three years ago I taught a VERY challenging class of 15-16 year-olds in Sunday school... I really had to be on my A-game. Luckily I had several who were wonderful, helpful, reverent, bright, strong, and spiritual. On this particular Sunday Witney came into class early as I was pouring Zipfizz into my bottle of water as I set up the class room.

Witney- What is that Sister Lewis?

Me- Zipfizz.

Witney- Doesn't it have caffeine in it?

Me- I certainly hope so Witney!

Oh, I love that wonderful girl. Who, by the way, gave her missionary farewell talk today. She is headed to Nashville Tennessee, Spanish speaking. She said, "I'll come back saying "Bienvenidos, y'all!!"

Mar 21, 2016

Bring On The Beach...

... to Grammie's backyard!

Fiona, like her Mama, is very tactile and loves to play in the *soft sand* or dirt. Since Grammie just spread 2 yards (read- 2 Fernando loads) of rich, black compost on ALL of her flowerbeds she [I] needed to provide a less dirty play area for the Bitties!

Enter beach sand! I've seen DIY recipes for play sand on Pinterest so this morning I did a quick search on what ingredients I'd need- other than two eager Bitties! We made a couple of stops to get beach toys and sand.

The table from last night's 3rd Sunday Grammie dinner was still on the deck so I used it to corral the Liam so he didn't topple of the edge.

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We mixed the 50 lbs of play sand with 1 lb of cornstarch stirred into 6 cups of water. It made for wonderful beach sand. I plopped Liam right down in the large, somewhat portable (man, is it ever heavy!) repurposed plastic gift wrap container. (Yeah, the gift wrap is hangin' in the dungeon on the floor!)

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Miss Bitty unpacked the toys and tried each of them out!

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We enjoyed almost 2 hours playing in the sand. Liam finally got tired so I stripped him down to shake out the sand and he was ready for a bottle and a nap.

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As Grampy finished the nap routine of putting Liam down Grammie and Fiona cleaned up. I stripped and dusted her off too but then the call of the sand was just too much...

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She climbed right in and laid down to have a true beach experience.

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Good thing Grammie knows how to strip and dust babies!

Feb 22, 2016

Cancún- Chichén Itzá

This is my last Cancún post. It has been so enjoyable for me to comb through all of my photos choosing those that I wanted to share.

Our last outing was a full day trip to Chichén Itzá. As soon as Erik invited us to Cancún I knew that I wanted to include Chichén Itzá. Even though I knew that this civilization was much later (600-900AD) than the Book of Mormon time (600BC-400AD, plus the brother of Jared flashback 2600BC-600 BC) I was still excited to learn more about these Lamanite descendants.

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GORDON AND JOANIE AT Chichén Itzá

Somehow I'd forgotten this verse of scripture from Mormon 8:8
And behold, it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it [caused the destruction of the wicked Nephite people]. And behold also, the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war.
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We went on a tour bus with wonderful Mayan-descendant guides who taught us about the Mayan civilization. But I was still a bit startled with the savage and brutal warring that went on. This wall depicts decapitated enemies heads stacked up on poles.

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It was mean to intimidate enemies.

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Even this Mesoamerican ballgame, that oddly reminded be of quidditch, ended badly.

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This Stone Ring is located 9 m (30 ft) above the floor of the Great Ballcourt; the players could only use their hips, elbows and shoulders to get the ball through the hoop.

The captain of the winning team decapitated the loser captain,

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whose blood spurting out turned into seven snakes.

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The ruins of Chichén Itzá are quite extensive including this building, referred to as the nunnery, with elephant trunks on each corner. (Now that isn't me making this up... this is what our guide told us.) This evidence seems to support the Book of Mormon prophet who spoke of the beasts of burden used to help them in their work, including the elephant.

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Another startling aspect of this National Park was the presence of vendors set up pell-mell throughout. I can't even imagine something like this in Yosemite or Zions!

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Our guide warned us against purchasing from these vendors. These carved masks, depicting the Mayan Yin and Yang, smell heavily of petrol and would not be allowed back through customs!

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After a short bus trip from Chichén Itzá we stopped for lunch at an *Mayan-approved* cluster of shops.  Then on to one of the many cenotes (sinkholes) found on the Yucatan peninsula.

The plan was to swim there, I'd even brought my suit. But all I could hear ringing in my ears was the advice *don't swim within two hours of eating*! So I left my cute new *babing-suit* to languish on the bus while I took the 95 stairs down to the bottom to check things out.

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VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE CENOTES

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VIEW FROM THE BOTTOM

Notice the tiny white speck at the end of the red arrow? Yup, that's Gordon!

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I was pleased with my physical stamina as I cooked back up those same 95 stairs. Sure makes a difference when I'm used to walking at 4800' elevation and now I'm in oxygen-rich sea level air!

Our Caribbean vacation was all that I'd hoped for. It was wonderfully restful and diverting. I'm so grateful to our Erik for making this possible. Thank you again son!