Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Bit of Zion

The last two summers Ry and I have spent in Nauvoo participating in the Nauvoo Pageant. It was the most incredible, cocooning blessing threaded with golden miracles. I feel a great kinship to prophets past who can not write one hundredth part. Part of that is that my words lack so much in trying to describe something so tender and sacred. Oh, I can tell you the details, the events, the laughter, the sights, the sweat, but some how I struggle to share the breadth of emotion, the many witnesses of the Spirit, the answered prayers, the healing, the peace, the love. Instead I sound like like a fanatic tied to a mythical era of the past. I wish somehow I could share how experiencing Nauvoo today is not about the past. It is so much about today. Gerald Lund named his book about the Nauvoo years "A Season of Joy" and it truly was that for us. It changed me in more ways than I can share. I do not think I overstate when I say it changed my eternity.

It was a bittersweet feeling to hear the whisperings of the Spirit tell me that our season in Nauvoo was drawing to a close for a while toward the end of our stay last year. I felt so incredibly grateful and blessed for the experience. Excited for what lay ahead and sad to say good bye. At the end of the pageant as the saints head west, Parley P. Pratt talks about them taking what Nauvoo had given them  in their hearts. I could relate.  Shortly after I came home, I had such a longing for home - for my mom, my family and my hometown. In an impulsive moment, I emailed my family telling them I missed them and that one day we should get together in our hometown. I think we all felt it because within weeks, cabins were reserved and the dates were set. 

The way Ryan's summer schedule worked out, I ended up flying out the end of June and he joined me 3 weeks later. I loved how much we missed each other and how good it was to see him at the airport. After he arrived, we drove to Hood River, OR - one of the most beautiful places on earth and my hometown. Seeing my family together again was priceless. Being together in the town we grew up in... I can't describe it. I was so surprised at how little had changed. 

Some highlights of the summer:
Hiking - 38 miles total (Hurricane Ridge, Little Mt. Si, Grand Forest Bainbridge Island twice, Tunnel Falls on Eagle creak trail, Lost Lake Trail
Food (all of it.So good)
Glowstick parents - my parents taped glow sticks to themselves and walked around the campground one night. They looked awesome! Just like walking stick people.

Grandpa and  Grandsons campout - so fun to see all of them smashed in the tent together talking, playing games and reading. 
Laundry room talks with my sisters
Riot Act - my brothers told my step sister and niece to ask me about "The Riot Act." They said I had read it a lot. Gullible they are because the girls sincerely asked me to "tell me the plot - maybe I've read it." Sorry, but that's a keeper for years girls!
Family pictures
County Fair - such a trip down memory lane
My home ward - I really expected so much to be different - I didn't expect to recognize many if any. Yet it wasn't that way. I did recognize so many and the joy of seeing these good, wonderful, sweet people who have had such an influence on my life - well my joy overflowed. I thought of the scripture in the Book of Mormon when they talk of the joy they felt when, after 14 years apart, they found they were still brothers in Christ.
Grandma - sweet grandma. I wish you could know how amazing she is. Her life could fill volumes. She has buried 3 husbands and two children. She has ranched and farmed and nursed. She has cared for the mentally ill, raised grandchildren, and championed the forgotten her entire life. And to this day, she is one of the most positive people I know. She ALWAYS is talking of her next project or thing she is going to learn. In her assisted living center, she takes care of all the residents. Everyone is her friend. She delights in the weekly discussion group they have that discusses politics, religion, and current events. And through it all, she is the binding influence in our family. It hit me hard this summer that time with her on earth is beginning to run shorter. I'm not ready for her to go. I spent time with her a couple of times during the trip, trying to imprint every nuance of her deep in my brain and heart. She is so strong. So positive. So encouraging. I don't know how any of us would have made it through my mom's death without her. I am proud to be her granddaughter.
Family Reunion - as I looked  around, I realized that it was one of those rare moments when everyone in our family and extended family was doing really well. Everyone was employed, relationships were healthy, goals were being realized. It was such a sweet blessing and one that I don't take lightly.

I didn't take many pictures and part of it was a deliberate choice. I didn't want to experience the summer behind the lens. I found myself really seeing things, imprinting the memories to revisit for years to come. I know that I will most likely forget the details, the images and I probably will wish I had more pictures. But I don't think I the emotions of this summer will fade.

I love my family. I was told once that I was born of good stock and, looking around the tables, I so agreed. My family is hard working. They are dependable. They are loyal. They have integrity. They are quick witted, sassy, and enjoy life. Every one of them will feed you and share whatever they have to help someone else. I've seen them do it. Service is like second nature for all of them. I cherished this summer with them. I loved that I could see so much good in all of them. Growing up, sometimes I only saw the things that bugged me. I love that while we are all so different, we can love each other so well.

Many have made comments about us missing Nauvoo this summer and I have missed it lately, but I did not miss it at all this summer. Zion and Heaven are both full of love and family - I had both this summer.

All of the cousins with Aunt Tracy

3rd Annual Dog Pile on Ryan (no tears yet)


My dad, brothers & sisters

Family: Missing a few, but most of us

Lexi, Ryan and Ella - These kiddos adore each other. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Too Funny

Last night Ry was on the couch watching a show on the laptop. Suddenly he turns and asks me, "Mom, what is a communist?" I began to answer, "Well, when I was your age-" when he interrupts- "Nevermind. Tell me when you tuck me in bed." And when back to his show. Too funny.

Step by Step

Day 20 Stumbles - Temptations - For a while I've wondered about personal temptations. It has felt like Satan wasn't really worri...