November 25, 2013

2013 Shakespeare Competition

Maddy and Joey both went to the Utah Shakespeare Festival this year and participated in the competition. Maddy and her friend Hayden Berg ended up winning 3rd place in their division for the Duo scene which they performed from Much Ado About Nothing. Their performance was great and we were proud of Maddy for placing for the 2nd year in a row.

Singers Retreat

This summer I had the wonderful privilege of being the chef for three days at the Salem Hills Singers Retreat at a Cabin up in Schofield, Utah. I made everything from scratch including Ricotta Calzones, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cinnamon Cream and homemade pizzas. It was so wonderful hearing the 30+ Singers preparing for this year's concerts. And what made it even better was being able to have Maddy (President of Singers) and Joey there too.

November 24, 2013

Pioneer Day Concert

Back in July I took Maddy and Joey and Madisen to the Salt Lake Conference Center for the Annual Pioneer Concert. This year it featured dancing violinist, Lindsey Stirling and up and coming tenor, Nathan Pacheco. The concert was wonderful, especially Nathan singing Nessun Dorma. I love programs like this that bring people together for such great artistic events. Even President Monson was there to enjoy it.

Missionary Fireside

Back in September, I took Maddy and Joey and their friend Trevor to the Church wide missionary broadcast at the Marriott Center at BYU. It was a remarkable broadcast with many Apostles speaking and thousands and thousands of missionaries there, including several of Maddy's friends from High School, some of them who we were able to pick out in the choir.

November 10, 2013

Maddy - Sacrament Talk

Maddy gave a wonderful Sacrament talk today. She speaks so naturally and with conviction. We were so proud of her. Below is the text of her address.

The Strength to Endure

I love General Conference. It has blessed my life in countless ways, so I am excited to speak today about Elder Maynes’ talk entitled, The Strength to Endure.

Life can be hard. It’s no secret. Every day we each struggle with so many things. There are struggles that are temporary and can be overcome, and there are struggles that we may live with throughout our mortal existence. It is easy to become discouraged and overwhelmed when we seem to be faced with challenges on every front. This is why it is crucial to remember that, quote, “We have a loving Heavenly Father who has designed our earthly existence so that we can individually learn the lessons we need to learn to qualify for eternal life in His presence.” end quote. Elder Maynes goes on to relate Joseph Smith’s experience in Liberty jail and the Lord’s words to him, “My son, peace unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.” So what does it mean to “endure well”? A dictionary definition of the word endure is: To remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding.  Without yielding. We are to go through things like disease, heartache, frustration, hurt, and remain firm in our faith in Christ. As Elder Maynes put it, we are to “endure in righteousness”.

We cannot “endure in righteousness” unless we have a strong testimony, unless we are ”truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Having a Christ-centered life will help us to make the choices that will lead us back to our Father in Heaven. We will be inspired by the Holy Ghost.

We must be spiritually prepared for the adversity that we will face. Our testimonies must be strong enough to endure the “fiery darts of the adversary” Then, quote, “We will become immovable in our desire and ability to live the gospel. As an anonymous author once said, ‘You must be the rock the river cannot wash away.’ ” We must work constantly for this sort of strength. To endure is not a passive action. It is a constant effort. A conscious decision.

Elder Maynes’ great grandfather, Joseph Maynes was called at the age of 53 to serve a full time mission. He had a wife and eight children. After serving faithfully for approximately two years in England, where he was originally from, he was riding his bicycle and a tire burst. He got off the bike to assess the damage and he collapsed to the ground. He died suddenly of a heart attack. His funeral was held in Salt Lake and Elder Anthony W. Ivins of the Quorum of the Twelve made this statement at the service: “This is what the gospel gives us—not immunity from death, but victory over it through the hope we have in a glorious resurrection. … It applies to [Joseph Maynes]. … It is a pleasure, and it is a satisfaction and joy to know that men lay down their lives in righteousness, in the faith, true to the faith.”

Don’t we all want that to be said of us? That we laid down our life in righteousness, in the faith, and true to the faith?

If so, then we must face our challenges with faith and courage. We must center our lives in Christ so that we can have His help in “enduring well” whatever hardships God has given us. We must remember that for every challenge there is a lesson that our loving Heavenly Father needs us to learn.

I know that we will never be presented with a challenge that we cannot handle. With the help of a Loving Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ, we truly have the power to do all things. Our Savior stands with His arms outstretched, all we have to do is go to Him and every trial will seem “but a small moment.” When we center our lives in Christ, we are able to endure all things. I know this is true. And I say these things in His name, even Jesus Christ, amen.

November 07, 2013

Girl's Camp 2013

This was Maddy's last year of Girl's Camp and I was grateful to be able to attend on bishopric night. Our ward has become so large, there were over 50 girls at camp. As a bishopric, this was our 5th and likely last camp to attend.

Hair Show

Maddy's best friend Madisen is now at MATC doing hair school. Every year they do a special hair show where the students dress someone up in costume and do their hair in very creative ways. This year Madisen chose Maddy as her model to portray "Mother Earth." Not only did Madisen do Maddy's hair, she also made the entire costume. Maddy looked amazing and Madisen ended up winning "Best Hair" and almost "Best Overall." I'm so proud of both these girls.

November 04, 2013

Nieces and Nephews

Jeni is one of the favorite Aunts of her cute nieces. Hallie, Becky's youngest, especially has a connection with Jeni and she loves to come over as much as she can. Here is a picture of the two of them together. Jeni is such a great aunt to all her nieces and nephews. They always feel welcome at our home because of Jeni's kindness whether its opening up her craft room or opening up our kitchen. They always know they can come over and feel loved by her.
The Miracle of Technology

A few weeks ago I was in Seattle for business and had a short period of time between meetings to see General Conference, broadcast live over the internet. I love that the Church provides access to Conference and other meetings for free online from anywhere in the world. To me it truly is a miracle to help spread the gospel forward. The picture above shows Conference on my laptop as well as my notes to the left.

November 03, 2013

Salt Lake City Trips

One of our favorite things to do as a family is to stay a night in downtown Salt Lake City and go to Whole Foods to buy fresh breads, grapes and cheeses, then come back and eat them in our hotel room. We've done this for several years including a few times this summer. It's always fun to experiment with new kinds of cheeses that we've never heard of before too. It's wonderful how simple some of our favorite things are to do, yet provide such great memories.
I Love to See the Temple

I love this picture which I took a few months ago as Maddy, Joey and I went to the Timpanogos Temple to do baptisms. Not only do I love that Joey and Maddy are working to the temple together, I love the arrow pointing them there. Since Maddy and Joey each turned 12, they've tried to attend the Temple as often as possible and both of them have friends that they regularly go with. It's been a real blessing for them as they encourage each other to stray strong and worthy of their Temple Recommends.
William Joseph

Several months ago, I saw a post on Facebook from William Joseph about a few openings for an individual piano lesson while he was going to be in town. I contacted him and we were able to set up a lesson for Joey which was amazing. William is one of our favorite modern pianists and we have both of his CD's. After the lesson was over, he offered to take on Joey as a regular student. The crazy thing is that the lessons would take place through Skye, with William at his home in Arizona and Joey in our home. Here are some pictures from the very first lesson as well as a picture from one of Joey's Skype lessons.

November 02, 2013

BYU Young Ambassador Camp

This summer Maddy spent a week on BYU campus as part of the Young Ambassador Singing and Entertaining Workshop. The week was full of learning musical numbers, performing solos, dancing and making new friends. Maddy stayed in the dorms at Helaman Halls. We were able to come and visit on closing night and watch Maddy perform in many of the numbers including a solo in one of them. We are so grateful Maddy is continuing to develop her talents in this way.

Young Women Medallion

Maddy worked hard over the last year and finally earned her Young Women Medallion. It was presented in a Sacrament meeting a few months ago and then officially recognized at last week's Young Women in Excellence Program. This award recognizes Maddy's studying and activity working on the following values.

Divine Nature
Individual Worth
Choice and Accountability
Good Works

Congratulations Maddy!