Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jesus the Christ

Several months ago I took this invitation to heart:

I energetically encourage you to establish a personal study plan to better understand and appreciate the incomparable, eternal, infinite consequences of Jesus Christ’s perfect fulfillment of His divinely appointed calling as our Savior and Redeemer.

--Richard G. Scott, April 2010

I decided the way I wanted to come to understand my Savior's purpose better was to read Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage. I have been eating away at it a little at a time every morning as I eat my breakfast.

As the Christmas season approached this year, I was searching for a way to make this Christmas a meaningful one for me personally, and decided I would finish the 550 pages by Christmas day. That has meant reading 10-15 pages a day instead of two. When I decided to make it happen, I knew it was going to be something I would really have to make an effort to do and that would be a sacrifice of my time... but as the case always is in situations like these, when I have tried to do something for the Lord, He has blessed me with an experience far greater than my sacrifice.

I am truly at a loss for words to describe what I have learned about the kind of Man Jesus the Christ is and why I am grateful He came to this Earth to minister, atone, and die for us. One of the realizations I am making is that all that our cherished Christmas music says about Him is a true description of who He really is... and if that is the case, what a wonderful, majestic, merciful God He is, and oh what reason we have to rejoice.

Born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth. Born to give them second birth.

Son of God, love's pure light radiant beams from thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace.

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of righteousness! Light and life to all he brings. Risen with healing in His wings.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns. Let men their songs employ, while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy.

I know more deeply that He lives. I know more of His greatness and majesty and love and mercy and how much we need Him. I love Him. I hope this Christmas season allows you to find a way to more fully come to know Him too.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gracie Meets Santa

So much for a "Gracie's first visit on Santa's knee" picture. It's okay. I imagine little Gracie looking through the photo album a few years down the road and saying, "This is the year I was scared of Santa, huh, Mom?" We even tried to warm her up by having her watch three or four other kids go first and making it seem like a wonderfully big deal. Despite Gracie's reaction, R.C. Willey's Santa was delightful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Counting Blessings

All of us in this picture have taken turns having stomach flu since this picture was taken during the Achter Family Photo Session 2010 three nights ago. Grace believe it or not was throwing up two hours after and didn't stop until about 2 A.M. that night. It was her first bout with anything besides a nasty cold and it was fairly distressing as her mom to watch her shake her little head and cry, "No no no!" every time she felt the urge to empty her stomach.

Maybe I think too much, but I have always found getting sick enough to be laid up a very humbling experience every time it happens to me. I end up pondering how thankful I am for the strength and feeling of well-being I generally have the rest of the time to get done the things that I need to and make note not to take it for granted. I think of people I know who have been chronically ill and gain a new respect for what they have endured. When it all comes down to it, I get a little depressed and can't wait to feel well again. One night this week sometime around 2:30 or 3 in the morning I was making an effort to lift my spirits by counting my blessings, which were SO many, like...

It's a blessing to be living in my parents' home right now. The day I was most wiped out, I was able to just sleep and know Gracie was being supervised. I know that once motherhood comes along, you don't always get to just sleep even if you're sick. This day I could and I did!

Also, the night Gracie threw up over the side of her crib, a whole team assembled in the house to help clean the bedding and carpet and everything else that had been in the path of disaster. People ran to the grocery store to stock up on fluids for when her stomach settled while I got Gracie cleaned up.

Sure I felt like garbage, but I had a warm home and several quilts on my bed on a cold night.

I had no obligations that would be difficult to cancel (that is code for no sub plans to write, calling back from my teaching days).

My husband made me my favorite comfort food, rice pudding. I shouted directions from the couch while he made sense of the recipe in the kitchen and I love him for it.

And probably my most favorite of all, though it was difficult, I was thankful for the opportunity to care for my daughter in the middle of the night. I always wondered as a little girl how my mom did that for me. I remember her being by my side as I emptied my own stomach into a bucket in the middle of the night and thinking, I bet she'd rather be in bed. I didn't think I'd ever be able to be able to do it myself. But I am thankful for the sense of duty that calls when you're a mom that helps you feel like it's more like an honor than a sacrifice of sleep to sit up and comfort that little person you love so much.

The one sacrifice that did hurt? My mom and I had made arrangements to get up almost in the middle of the night to meet President Bush on Friday morning at a book signing. The bug hit Thursday and it didn't happen.

Ouch. It still hurts. Gracie, you're worth it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Passionate

The other day I read an article about how it's important for moms (and anyone, really) to have something they are passionate about that will help them stay well-rounded and help them be better moms. I was trying to figure out if there was anything unique to me that I was truly passionate about as I was driving that day. When I saw a sign for a candidate I truly believe in and my heart started to soar, I figured I'd found it.

I have always believed it was important to vote. Usually when election time rolls around, I try and pull out that voter's information guide that comes in the mail and decide who I will vote for that morning over breakfast. This time I have been involved since April. I mentioned several months ago that I had been given the opportunity to be a county and state delegate and will forever be thankful for what I have learned and experienced in the process. For the rest of this post I am going to insert some pictures I took during my political experience this year. A few things I have learned or strengthened my understanding of are:

- It matters to our Heavenly Father that we are involved in politics.

As Benjamin Franklin was leaving the building where, after four months of hard work, the Constitution had been completed and signed, a lady asked him what kind of government did the convention create. A very old, very tired, and very wise Benjamin Franklin replied;
“A Republic, ma’am if you can keep it.”

I believe that God raised up men like Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, George Washington and others with the minds and hearts ready to produce a document like the Constitution. I believe the principles of the Constitution are so central to our lives that like the air we breathe we sometimes forget to be thankful for them. I believe that God expects us to use our agency to uphold the rights defined for us in the Constitution.

- Politics allows you to take a stand on issues that really matter to you. Issues you are passionate about. It's really satisfying that way.

- Some aspects of politics are REALLY ugly. People can be very mean and say very hurtful things. Sometimes candidates choose to focus on destroying the reputation of their opponent rather than maintaining ground on the people and positions and values they have been sent to represent. People write really nasty things about individuals or collective groups or parties in the newspaper and especially on the internet. The language can get as bad as a junior high hallway. While God expects us to get involved in politics, I believe He expects us to do so in a civil manner by treating others with dignity. In doing so we can be true to ourselves.

- Some aspects of politics are really wonderful. I have had the opportunity to expand my mind, meet people I strongly agree and strongly disagree with and been influenced for the better by both.

- Being informed can become discouraging when you begin to recognize all the daunting problems that are facing our country, but I believe Heavenly Father is 100% aware of what is going on. Quotes like this fill my heart with hope and confidence in my country:

"Men may fail in this country, earthquakes may come, seas may heave beyond their bounds, there may be great drought, disaster, and hardship, but this nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail."

President Harold B. Lee, Ye Are the Light of the World, 350

So if I've piqued your interest enough and you're wondering how can you become involved, I've made a little list of the things that made this past election season so meaningful to me:

Read the Constitution. It's like scripture. I will seriously send you a copy if you want me to.

Read The 5,000 Year Leap. It helps you understand the moral foundation of our country which allowed us to go from plowing fields the same way we had for thousands of years to sending man to the moon in less than two centuries.

Be prayerful. I pray for the ability to recognize truth when I hear it and to not be deceived.

Follow political organizations you believe in online locally and nationally that interest you and ring true to your heart. Subscribe to their emails. When they have events, go and listen. That includes going to hear candidates speak. On the senate level, they often try to make it to each of the counties a couple of times during their campaign.

Read the editorial section in the newspaper and determine how you feel about the issues discussed there.

Listen to talk radio. Change the station when you're disgusted and keep listening when you're inspired. My heart starts beating faster when something I really believe in is being defended or discussed. (Gracie likes to dance and knows there is a stereo in the car. I don't get to listen to talk radio as much as I would like anymore. :)

When election day comes, vote with confidence for the people and issues you believe in. Live with the peace of knowing that you are doing your duty to be informed and involved. Your example may be making a powerful difference.

2 National Monuments and a Butterfly

After being kindly encouraged by Lisa Bergstrom to be anything but ourselves at the party she and her husband were putting on (like we have been every year their party has been held... we really just don't get in to dressing up!), I asked Chelsea if I could borrow her Statue of Liberty outfit. It was in the shower that morning that I had an idea for Danilo. It would be perfect, and I'd have to work out some details, but I knew the hardest part would be convincing Danilo it was a really good idea. I never convinced him, but he flattered me by dressing up anyway.



Gracie's costume had been decided weeks before... sweetest butterfly I've ever seen!


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Keystone, South Dakota


Where you can
ride bison

get this close to a bear

and see Mount Rushmore from this vantage point,
all in the same little town (well, Bear Country USA is about 15 minutes further, but pretty close anyway). My mom decided to fulfill her lifelong dream of visiting Mount Rushmore this Labor Day weekend and took all of us with her.

please notice the striking resemblances in the faces above and below
It was nice getting Danilo back for a couple of days. He's been missing a lot since the semester began (we know it's going to be worth it, and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel... it's called June).

Thanks to Mom for the idea and the education we received on the history of Mount Rushmore and to Dad for driving 11 hours there and 11 hours back. It was an uplifting weekend being with people I love in such a neat place. My soul filled with gratitude for our country as we watched the evening program at Mount Rushmore after which any past or current service men and women in the audience came forward as the flag was lowered for the night.

Monday, August 16, 2010

All of these patterns....







...were found inside our room or outside in the hall of the hotel where Danilo and I celebrated our anniversary. I had never stayed anywhere so beautiful and so I tried to capture the smallest details.....as well as the whole effect....


This was Little America where we enjoyed the honeymoon package which meant sparkling cider, chocolate covered strawberries and a beautiful balcony view of downtown Salt Lake.
I am so thankful for my husband and his efforts in planning something that would make me feel so special to him (and you bet he got a dang good deal--it wouldn't be true Danilo style otherwise).
Happy Anniversary to the love of my life and the man of my dreams!!

so this is summer

We didn't do much playing outside with newborn Grace last summer, so making up for lost time paired with seeing the excitement of summer through our baby girl's eyes has made this summer a very memorable one! Some of the highlights were...

swimming


hike to Waterfall Canyon


our first 5K

Gracie's first s'more

meeting my dear friend Brooke White
(thanks to Danilo who relentlessly pulled me to the front of the crowd for a picture....
and really, if we ever got to spend some time together, I think we would be very good friends!)