Thursday, December 18, 2008


Yesterday was the funeral of our darling Dick Avery. He has been a part of our ward for over 20 years, and he died peacefully in his sleep last week. Many of us thought of Dick as the father of our ward. Gary Baugh, one of the speakers, used the words ALWAYS THERE to describe him. I've never been to a more uplifting, joyful funeral. The talks by Gary Baugh, Bishop Grant Lyman, Mark Raps and Bishop Bob Hansen were just right. Everyone was smiling and nodding their heads in agreement with each speaker. The opening song was perfect: The World Has Need of Willing Men. The closing song was just as good: Called to Serve. Both songs describe Dick Avery to a tee.

Everyone loved Brother Avery. The Valley View Ward was so blessed to call him ours. There were many members of the stake in attendance, as well as former ward members. Friends of Dick & Joyce's as well as Susan and Arline were there to support this great family. It was especially wonderful to see our sweet Lyman family there (who we miss so much)! If you asked Dick to do something, he did it yesterday, and he always went the extra mile. When I taught seminary, we had priesthood take turns being in the building, and when it was Dick's turn he would arrive well before us (early class started at 5:30 a.m.) and the building was warm, all the lights were on and there were roses he cut for us in our room. When I served on the enrichment committe, he was a frequent sign up to be the priesthood, and often particiapted with us. He was always the first one to help, the last one to leave. Who will turn on the heat or A/C for us now at the drop of a hat? Who will drive to girls camp, and catch mice? Who will give us keys, change locks, help us with lights or a microphone or say, "you didn't hear this from me. . ."? Who will say, "Let me show you something" and then take us on adventures around the building or point out the best dish to eat at a potluck or which pot of chili is his? He was a perfect example of love and service. Always happy. Always smiling. Always ready to serve. I will miss him so much and I am so inspired to try to be like him and serve gladly and often with a kind, willing, happy heart.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Have you heard the Trace Adkins song, "You're Gonna Miss This"? It is a sweet ballad about people wanting time to hurry and not savoring the moment they are in. This is an email I recieved today from Flylady, my hero and lifesaver who can be found at It is a perfect message for all of us, especially for those of you with little ones:

By Pam Young

I was at Michael's (the craft store) in the late afternoon when I
heard a conversation in the next isle between a mother and her
six-year-old child.

"Oh, Mama, look at this!"

"Uh huh."

"I love this!!"

"Uh huh."

"I have one don't I!!!"

"Uh huh."

"You made it for me didn't you Mama!!!!"

"Uh huh."

As I listened to the excitement and love for her mother in the child's
voice and the drone of her mother's responses, tears welled up in my
eyes. I thought about how many times I'd done the same thing with my
children when they were young. After all, I had a centerpiece to
make, a decoration for the coffee table to think about, colors to
consider, people to impress and not enough time! At that moment in
Michael's I would have given anything to go back to just one time in
the isle of a store, hear my child's voice and not miss what was
really happening. Love, joy adoration. The stuff of Christmas!

My kids are grown now and I'll never again hear their little bell
voices exclaiming their joy over something. That time is gone forever.

I had to get to the next isle and see the child! With tears streaming
down my cheeks, I peeked around the corner and looked at the child's
happy little face. She had a dress on and her hair was dark brown in
shoulder-length curls. She was holding a Christmas stocking with a
Santa Claus on it. She looked up and smiled at me. Then I looked at
her mother. She was tired. I could see it in her eyes but when she
looked into mine she smiled seeing my love for her child and the moment.

I told her what had gone through my mind listening to their
conversation and with misty eyes she said, "Now you're making me cry."
She dabbed her eye with the back of her wrist, "Thank you, I needed
to hear this. I get so busy and it's easy to neglect her natural
enthusiasm." I told the mother it was obvious that the child had not
been neglected, because she was such a happy child, and that I
understood how easy it was to get wrapped up in our own thoughts and
miss these holy moments.

I left Michael's knowing I wanted to write about this. Your children
adore you and they are like little joy dispensers, especially during
this time of year. Since it is also an especially busy time for you,
it can be so easy to miss those gifts of love and joy your children
are eager to give to you. They are gifts that can't be wrapped up
with festive paper or charged on American Express. Stay awake! This
is a holy time.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Even though this isn't really a Christmas Song, I love it when it's included on a Christmas CD. One of my favorites are all 4 of Amy Grant's Christmas albums. This year I was so excited to find a new one, "The Christmas Collection" that has 4 new songs and 14 of her favorites. She has the sweetest Christ centered music in addition to her fun carols. At any rate, #7 is "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep". It's a great version. I tried to find it for my playlist, but no luck. So listen to Diana Krall's version, it's such a sweet song.

To make a long story short, I have had a heavy heart for lots of different reasons this past month. Then on Tuesday during preschool I was hit with a terrible intestinal virus. I have never had the stomach flu so bad. Rebecca took over preschool for me and I literally slept for 2 days. I even missed our preschool Christmas party for the first time ever. Yesterday I finally felt better after 3 very long days and nights. I felt like Rip Van Winkle, it was very weird. It's finally cold here in our southern California desert. We are having a "retro Christmas" this year, due to the fact our two little granddaughters, almost 4 and 18 months are here with us 24/7. It has been fun to use the child friendly ornaments I made when my kids were little. I've kept my decorating to a bare minimum and Paige loves playing with the Fisher-Price "LITTLE LORD JESUS 'TIVITY". (How adorable is that?) We got a real tree for the first time in 4 years and it's been such a treat. Rebecca even helped me get the popcorn and cranberries done. So I am a happy camper. We lost a dear friend in our ward this week. We think of Dick Avery as the father of our ward. He was the most dependable, funny, wonderful man. So between that, the holidays and our sweet family, I've had lots of tender feelings.

I felt so grateful when I woke up to the cloudy, cool, dark morning snuggled under my warm quilt when these lyrics popped into my head. I promise if you listen it will make you smile and lighten your heart. I'm recommitted now to write in my gratitude journal each day --- just 5 items --- quick, bullet journaling phrases or simple sentences of the things you are thankful for. It makes the most difficult days better, and before you know it, instead of feeling lack, you feel extremely blessed.


When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep, counting my blessings

When my bankroll is gettin' small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep, counting my blessings

I think about a nursery
And I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them
As they slumber in their beds

If you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings.

So if you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings.

By Irving Berlin for the 1954 movie “White Christmas”

And now in honor of my darling daughter-in-love, Jamie, I'm going to watch White Christmas.