Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wonderful Women in my Life!

I have felt such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude this last month for the women in my life. I don't even want to start to list of amazing aunts, sisters, friends, neighbors that influence me for good because I'm sure I'd somehow miss someone, but I do want to highlight the two most obvious women during this month, my grandmother June Brewer Bell and my mother Karen Harris Bell.

My grandmother, June, was an amazing women that I respect and love so dearly. She passed away just shortly ago and although her passing was a gift to her and her last tiring years, it was still painful and sad to see her physically leave us. Due to my own mother's passing I've learned how fragile life really is as well as the importance of the here and now, not tomorrow. As a result of this, I tried really hard to include my grandmother June in our life the last few years of hers. Even though it was at times difficult to find time to visit or have her over to our house, I can't express enough how much I wish I would have found even more time and am so grateful that I did find the time I did to spend with such a gem of wisdom and love.

Grandma June holding Bevan (2 months old) in March 2009
Grandma June w/ Brigden (3) in March 2009

When Grandma's health was well enough we would have her over for weekly dinner. One of these occassions fell upon Brigden's birthday. I called her only a few hours before to inform her that we would be casually celebrating his birthday while she was here, but she was under no obligation to get him a present or anything, just merely come and be with us. Well, in traditional Grandma June style she showed up with a wrapped present. The typical style of hers was not that she had a present, but the actual present. Brigden excitedly opened the present to find a ziploc bag of random treats and goodies that Grandma had accumulated from her pantry including: large colored marshmallows, crackers, chocolate bars, and pretzels. The best part about it was that they were all bunched together in this ziploc and presented in such a Grandma June style, i.e. cookies in a bucket. I wondered what Brigden would think as he saw the ziploc bag of random worn goodies, but he was so ecstatic and delighted and I was relieved for his graciousness. She was so thoughtful and always trying to make sure others were happy and felt loved by her.

Grandma June had such a love for people and the gospel. I loved my many conversations with her these last few years. She had such wisdom, peace, and such a grounded testimony of Christ. There is almost nothing better than to talk with someone who just "gets it" and doesn't fuss with the rest of life's unnecessary fluff.

When I was a little girl we would visit Grandma weekly and each trip we would take I would pass a curio containing a pair of blue porcelain ballet slippers. I'm not quite sure why she had them, but I do know that I loved looking at them. I looked at them for years and as I grew with each visit I wished more and more that they were mine. Well, one day, she somehow found out about my wishes. I don't know if I just plain asked for them, which wouldn't surprise myself and many others, or if my mother told her, but as soon as Grandma found out, she took them out and gave them to me. I've cherished them ever since and to this day am so impressed at her kindness and charity.

As a child, I didn't quite understand what a peaceful person she was because to me she was just quiet, but now as I've grown and become a mother and a spouse, I'm amazed at her peaceful demeanor and patient personality. What an example to her family and I. I love this woman and am so greatful to have known her.

One of my favorite memories of her was when she was saying goodbye to one of my siblings a day or so before she passed and she said, "Don't worry, I'll tell your mother hello for all of you!"

Which brings me to my mother......It's so hard to find the words. Today is the 3rd year anniversary of her passing. It's been an interesting journey, a difficult one, but a very growing one. I miss her dearly! I miss her wisdom, her friendship, her undying love, her knowledge, and her testimony!

I miss just talking to her. I miss having someone to lean on. I don't know that I've ever felt more alone then during these last 3 years because of her absence and my trials. When she passed, I knew it would be difficult to spend the rest of my earthly life without her, but I could never have known to what extent. I didn't realize how much I would miss her strength, especially when I am weak, which is extremely more often then people believe or realize. I miss her love and zest for life, even though she was most quoted saying, "Life sucks and then you die." She knew how to bring humor to difficult situations and laugh things off.

I miss her. I miss her. I miss her.

Mom with Halen(2) in 2004.

I love her. I love her. I love her.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Alien Robotic Transformers & Spiritual Promptings

Within the last few months because of wonderful lessons and general conference talks, I've felt like I really need to not only live the gospel, but share the gospel with others. While I've always had a desire to share the gospel, I daily feel so overwhelmed in merely trying to accomplish the basic tasks like reading my scriptures, doing the dishes, attending to my children and husband, etc. Well, as I mentioned, a few weeks ago a wonderful Relief Society Lesson drew the last straw that broke the camel's back for me and my so called desire. I knew I had to make a change and actually do something with my good-for-nothing "intentions!"

I put the task of buying some Books of Mormon at the Distribution Center on my "to do" list and finally days or weeks later I did it. I had to tell myself, "it doesn't matter that I had to keep rewriting "buy Book of Mormon" on my list each time I started a new list and threw away the old one. What mattered was, I actually stopped one day, walked into the store with my children and purchased the books, no more intentions, just progress!

Ok, so now I had to do something with these Books of Mormon. Hmmm? I had already decided that I would give one to a neighbor friend of mine whom I had recently befriended and learned of his troubling life situation. In our few discussions it became apparent to me that he needed the companionship of the gospel, as if anyone out there doesn't, and I wanted to be the one to give him the knowledge to be able to gain it in his life. Well, wanting to do it and actually doing it (again that naughty word "intentions") are two different things.

As I listened to the Conference Talks I realized how grateful I am for the gospel and The Spirit in my life and how selfish I was being by not just marching over to my new friend's home and sharing with him what I treasured so greatly. It seemed so silly to me because I don't hesitate near as much to share recipes, shopping ideas, gardening tips, children (play dates), etc. so why in the world would I hesitate so greatly to share what means the most to me? Well, maybe besides or equal to the children? Because it's just plain scary and intimidating, that's why!

So over the last few weeks I spent a little bit of time here and there highlighting the sections in the Book of Mormon that I felt were appropriate for my friend as well as part of the beautifully written Ensign focusing only on Jesus Christ which came out last March. Once this was done I placed the Book and magazine on my kitchen counter because I knew it would sit there until I disposed of it, i.e. gave it to my neighbor. It sat there for a few days and then I had had it (the craving to be clutter-free finally got the best of me) and after finding myself child free for a moment, decided this was it. The time had arrived.

But then all of a sudden, thoughts and questions entered my head so quickly I couldn't even answer them;

"What if he doesn't want to hear what I have to say?"
"He lives in Utah, he's probably already heard all about us Mormons."
"What is he doesn't even believe in Jesus Christ, then what do I say?"
"Is he going to think I'm pushy and crazy?"
"I really like this guy as a neighbor and my kids really like his, what if he treats me differently after I give him these books?"
"Is he going to try and bash with me?"
"What do I even say to start the conversation?"
"How am I going to turn a random uninvited knock on his door into a spiritual experience?"
"Ahhh...I'm scared."

Finally, I told myself. This is ridiculous. I asked myself, "Do you believe this?" "Yes, with all my heart!" "Do you truly believe this book contains the truth and everyone should be so blessed as to read it sooner, if not later?" "Yes!" "How could you have gotten through life over the last recent years without the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ?" I couldn't, well I would have, but I wouldn't have managed with such faith and happiness without the gospel. "Ok, then don't worry about the details of the conversation. Say a prayer and Just Do It!"

One of my favorite movies of all times is "Transformers", the first one. I love the part where two of the main characters are trying to decide if they should get into BumbleBee, his car, after realizing that he, Bumblebee, is not just a car, but a live alien robotic transformer. They only have seconds to decide because the Evil Deceptacon Transformers are chasing them. The main character tells her to get in with him and she wants to refuse and says, "Why? Are you crazy?" He then turns to her, reaches out his hand and says, "Because 50 years from now when you look back on your life don't you want to be able to say you got in?" She then jumps in the car and the story continues excitingly.

The reason I interject my own story with a scene from the movie, "Transformers" is because at that moment in time, as I'm looking out my window to see if my neighbor is home, those words came into my head. "When I look back on my life, days, weeks, months, years from now, don't I want to be able to say; I did it. I gave my friend what mattered most to me?"

Well, that was it. I didn't have any more excuses. I said my prayer and walked out the door, book, magazine, and faith in hand and heart!

I knocked on his door and he approached with a smile. We greeted and then I asked him if he had a minute I could share something with him. He was very gratious and came out to sit on his steps with me. I explained to him that something he had said to me a few days ago as we were chatting in front of our houses had really stayed with me. So much that I had really thought about my own current trials and the benefits of the gospel for me in my trials. The conversation contnued including a brief discussion of his familiarity with the LDS faith as well as his religious beliefs. I further explained why I had brought the book and magazine to him and highlighted parts as well. I even read some of it to him right then and there and expressed my feelings, i.e. testimony in the very book and gospel. I didn't formalize anything. I just merely explained how Jesus Christ and His gospel has given me peace in my life during times of trials and I wanted him to have the same peace in his life.

He was very gratious and accepting. Whether or not he wanted to know more, I don't know. I do know however, that he was grateful for my sincerity as well as my desire to show I cared about him and his situation. He was truly touched and it felt great to be able to share with him what has touched me most in my life! The conversation ended with casualties and much gratitude from him towards my efforts to care for his well being and then I was on my way back home.

It was over. I had done it. I can now say that I did it and it wasn't even as scary as I had made it out to be. What is strange to me as well is that all of those fears are coming from a return missionary. Someone who did this for 18 months every day! Every day! But this was my neighbor, someone that I cared about and had to say see each day hereafter. It was somehow different, but just as important.

As I walked home, I wondered what he would do with the materials I had given him. If he would actually read them? But even with all my questions, I felt at peace. I knew that I had done my part and at that instant that was what mattered. Whether I was planting a seed or about to watch the work bear fruit in his life was unknown to me. I was just grateful I could now look back and say hypothetically, "I got in that alien robotic transformer car!" I gave my friend what matters to me most; my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ! And surprisingly, I can't wait to do it again.

It's a good thing I bought multiple copies of The Book of Mormon because who knows when I'll make it back to the Distribution Center again with kids in tow.

Sugar Bugs, 21, Resurrection, Nice Roads, and Manners

These are the latest random stories and quotes from our little family.

A few months ago, as we were getting in the car Harris asked if he needed to put his seatbelt on and I replied;
“Yes, we are heading on the main road.”

To which Brigden replied; “No mom, it’s a nice road!”

A few nights ago when I was tucking Halen and Harris into bed, we had the following conversation:
Halen: "Mom, I love you."
Mom: "I love you too."
Halen: "I love you three!"
Harris: "I love you four!"
Halen: "I love you five!"
Harris: "I love you a hundred!"
Halen: "I love you a million!"
Harris: "Well,...(as if he's pulling out the big guns now)..
I love you 21!"

21...huh? That's more than a million? Well, aparantly he thinks so and after listening to his giggle after he said it, he was quite confident he had won the battle of love for his mother by trumping Halen's million with 21! Just don't tell anybody that this is the child of a math teacher because that math teacher didn't say anything about it, but to reply; "Thank you. I love you too!"

A month or so ago, before Bevan had teeth (she now has 2 cute little bottom teeth), Brigden was quite shocked and worried when he came upon her toothless mouth one day and immediately yelled, in shock and horror;

"Mom, Bevan doesn't have any teeth! The sugar bugs ate them!"
He was quite worried and I had to then explain that she hadn't had any teeth available yet for the sugar bugs to eat, but when she gets them, teeth that is, we'll be sure to brush them so the sugar bugs won't eat them.
Brigden has been technically potty trained since December of last year, 2008, but he has an occassional relapse from time to time because he just doesn't want to stop playing to go to the bathroom. Right now it's a matter of convincing him that even though his pants are closer in proximity than the bathroom, the toilet is a much better location. As a result of these relapses, lately we are working hard to praise him in having dry pants so whenver the occassion arrises, we congratulate him, trying to keep things positive. Something else to note is that Brigden is a serious "manners" child. He was born saying "Please, Thank You, and Your Welcome!" Yes, of course, we taught him when to say them, but we rarely have to remind him to do so, it is just ingrained in his system. He reminds me a lot of my brother Cardin who seems to know all the rules for proper manners. Anyway, because of his innate talent for proper manners, sometimes it's just awkward hearing a 3 year old be so polite and courteous. (Just remember, however, I did say sometimes!)
Yesterday, he walked out of the bathroom and after acknowledging his pants were dry and he had managed to take the time to stop playing and use the restroom, I congratulated him by saying;
"Brigden, way to keep your pants dry!"
To which he nonschalantly replied with a shrug of his shoulders; "Your Welcome"
Ummm? Did I say thank you? Nope, but in his perfectly mannered world I guess it's all the same!
A few months ago, the kids and I were on our way to celebrate my brother Kevin's birthday in Logan. During our travel there Brigden asked who we were visiting and I replied,
"Kevin, my brother who came back from his mission a year ago."
To which Brigden replied, "Oh, just like Jesus!"
Unsure of his comparison, I asked, "How is that Brigden?
He confidently replied, "Cuz Jesus came back to life too!"
I just can't decide if I should tell Kevin that apparently going on a mission doesn't mean you serve for 2 years, it means you die for 2 years and then come back to life when your time is up.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quotes of the Day!

Brigden (3) says with a tone of amazement and discovery:
"Mom, look, my mouth is sharp, it can cut right through this cuuukie!"

Said just like cookie monster on sesame street says, "cookie!"

Harris (5): "Mom, does Jesus live in the heavens?"
Mom: "Yes."
Halen (7): "He lives in the clouds."
Harris: "Yeah, and in the mountains."
Halen: "You've gone camping in the mountains before."
Harris: "Yeah, I have."

Umm? We weren't even talking about Jesus when this conversation started and somehow we
didn't even end the conversation talking about Jesus either! Interesting!

Halen: "Bevan (8 mo.), you and I are going to be best friends when you grow up."

Famous last words from a girl who will someday wonder why her little sister has to tag along with her everywhere she goes.

Harris: "Mom will Dad let me shoot his air soft gun
when I go duck hunting with him next time he goes?"
Mom: "Yes"
Harris replied very seriously: "For Real?"

Did he really expect me to say, "for pretend?"

Halen (speaking of Bevan to Harris who is holding Bevan):
"Be careful with her because I really love her."

Ummm. And he doesn't?

Mom: "Brigden you really need to do all of your 'going to the bathroom' at one time when you are getting ready for bed instead of 'going two or three times' before bed each night."
Brigden (3): "No, I don't Mom! I go two times each night."

Hmmm. Gone are the days of Sweet Brigden.

Harris: "Why is there so much water in this watermelon?"
Without a moments hesitation Halen replies: "It is what makes it so sweet."

Wow, I didn't even know that. It seems we may have a 'know it all' on our hands.

In the background in the morning, as I was going about my duties and Brigden was playing with his cars, the tv was broadcasting a BYU devotional speaker. When the speaker finished, he closed with a final "Amen" to which Brigden pokes his head up from what he was doing and nonschalantly says, "Amen" and then returns to his cars as if nothing had ever happened. He heard me giggle and looked up at me to realize his "Amen" being the cause of my giggle, and then smiled a large grin, so proud of himself and sure of his charm and appeal.

And finally, Halen and Harris just found out they will be acting out a fire drill this coming Friday at their elementary school and both are very worried about it. So worried, in fact that this was part of Halen's prayer this evening:

"Please bless that I won't be scared in the fire drill this Friday and Harris won't either, if he decides he's not too scared to go to school that day."
I know there are more, but I forget them so quickly. How fun to see their little minds work so hard and grow so much each day and give us these lovely and quirky thoughts and words!