Friday, December 28, 2018

Christmas Letter 2018

ONE broken down car left TWO young men (Andrew and nephew Evan) stranded in Miles City, Montana on Andrew’s way home from school in the spring. We found out that there are Godly  people living in that city who helped our two stranded travelers.

ONE new daughter-in-law joined our family this year.  Andrew married Cierra Su’a on May 17th in Nauvoo.  We love her dearly and she fits in our family beautifully.  She is a student at the U of Utah while Andrew is at LDS Business College. They are making their home in Salt Lake City until they both finish school.

TWO are the number of dear friends that surprised us in Independence, MO, for Andrew and Cierra’s reception there. They came from Wyoming and it was truly a surprise beyond words. What joy fills our hearts with such a surprise!

THREE is how many times Erin has come home to visit this year. We love when she’s home with us.  She’s working/living in Provo/Orem, Utah.  One day soon she’ll move back to Wisconsin and we will receive her with open arms!

FIFTH places seem to be the best Tom can do at his Special Olympics track meet.  However, his bocce team came home with the FIRST place blue ribbons.

EIGHT is the number of grandchildren we are blessed with at the moment.

8.2 are the number of miles around Mackinaw Island.  We took a few days to get away and have a vacation for just the two of us.  One of our stops was Mackinaw Island where there are lots of bicycles and horses.  No cars allowed.  We biked the outside of the island as well as much of the interior. We actually put on a lot more than eight miles.  Another of our stops was in Paradise, Michigan where we visited the Shipwreck museum on Lake Superior.

ELEVENth of October is the day Sammi and Jeff’s twins joined our family. Henry Allen and Lydia Sue are a joy to have in our home.  We recognize God’s wisdom in women giving birth in their younger years.

THIRTEENth of April is when Eli Mack Gourley joined our family.  He is the 4th son of Clare and Clint’s FIVE children.  We love getting new grandbabies!

FIFTEEN was the number of the jersey of our oldest granddaughter’s volleyball jersey.  That was the same number worn by her mom and her aunts! How are we old enough to have a grandchild in middle school?

30+ inches of snow blessed us from April 13-15th.  That wasn’t the way we wanted our spring to begin but it was impressive and then melted rather quickly.  Driving home from Milwaukee in that storm was very time consuming.  Home felt really good when we got here!

35 years of marriage were celebrated in January.  We count ourselves blessed beyond measure to be married to one another and be each other’s best friend.

120 days from January 1st is how many more days Pat has until he retires from a job he’s held for 31+ years. With some restructuring, his job is being eliminated.  He gets a great severance and we will determine what’s next for us in the upcoming months.

150 pieces of fry bread were made for the wedding reception.  I waffled about what to serve at Andrew’s wedding reception and finally determined that I would serve his favorite food.  Indian Tacos were a hit!

THOUSANDS are the miles we put on driving around the state and U.P. speaking to the congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints about the importance of doing their family history and sharing their memories.  We were able to spend a few days in Kirtland, OH at a seminar on that subject.  Check out and get started!

INFINITE are the blessings we have received as a family over the past year.  We owe all that we have to Jesus Christ and His infinite goodness.  We COUNT ourselves blessed to be able to celebrate His birth and remember Him throughout the year. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Fillmore twins were born this morning at 7:50.  Baby boy weighs 6 lbs 10 oz while his sister weighs in at 6 lbs 6 oz.  No names have been given yet.
What a great size!  They were born 2 weeks early but this was a planned C-section.  Only 15% of women carrying twins make it to 38 weeks.  She made it which means they will most likely not need any extra measures.  Sammi reported that she had some significant contractions prior to having the spinal block.
I recall Tom being only 6 lbs 10 oz and how that was a full two pounds less than Clare.  He seemed so tiny.  But then when Andrew came along at 5 lbs 1/2 oz, I knew the meaning of small.
With all the miraculous things that transpired to get these two here, I am nothing short of grateful for answered prayers.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Grandchildren are a Blessing

My mom used to say that if she could do it over again she would skip being a mom and go straight to being a grandma.  I recognize what she meant although I love being a mom.
Grandchildren are an absolute blessing!  Here are my blessings.
Cami was our first and she's is one smart cookie.  She looks so much like her mom and even has some of those same attributes.  I love that she loves to play with her cousin.  Given the big age gap, I wasn't sure she would play so well with Evie. I love spending time with her as she is growing up so quickly and turning into a beautiful young woman.
Adam is my mini Andrew.  What a great imagination!  He is pretty chill most of the time and goes with the flow.  He struggles with some aspects of learning but is super excited about others.  He can tell you about everything dinosaur.  Such a handsome guy.
Who wouldn't love Brock's dimples?  He has a pretty short fuse but he's my lover.  He adores me and always hugs me as if we haven't seen one another in a long time.  Upon learning that we are contemplating a mission, he began to cry because he would miss me.

Evelyn is our drama queen.  She has such a tender heart and takes everything so personally.  She's girl through and through.  She loves everything Barbie.  Although she has asked for a race track for Christmas.  She's so smart and learning to read.
Who couldn't love this Butch face?  This kid is all boy as much as Ev is girl.  He had a lot to say and talks to anyone who will listen.  He wants you to believe he's a tough guy.  I just giggle when I think about him.  He is Mr. Personality and I love it!
Eli is such a cute little guy.  He's got his very sober moments.  He watches very carefully what others are doing.  He's got an infectious giggle.  Sammi had him belly laughing on Sunday.  He's such a good baby and we adore him.

Baby Fillmore twins will be born tomorrow morning.  (October 11, 2018)  Baby boy will come first with his sister to follow.  I can't wait to meet them and find out what their names will be.  I've seen them via ultra sound several times but much prefer to be able to hold them and pet their little heads.  

Yes, I can attest to the fact that grandchildren are compensation for growing older!

Heaven's Protection

Sometime at the end of June, there was a service opportunity in Bowler at the Cortright/Glenetski home.  These ladies needed some saplings removed from around the garage in order for their insurance carrier to cover them.  Some men with chain saws and a few women went over to remove the trees.  Pat, being the guy he is, went over.  When he came back he showed me his pants leg with a statement something like, "Someone is watching over me."  The saw jumped back or bucked or something and came back and hit him just above the knee.
As you can see, the pants are shredded just above the knee.  The skin, however, was untouched.  A few days later a bruise and slight abrasion showed up.  
I then admitted that only a few days earlier while driving to the temple, I know I fell asleep at the wheel with the cruise set at 74 mph. I was just going to close my eyes for a nap when Pat asked me to drive so he could take a nap.  Ugghh! As I took over at the wheel it wasn't long before I was struggling to keep my eyes open.  I did all the usual tricks to try and stay alert.  It wasn't working.  
At some point, I was startled awake still driving straight in my lane of traffic with no other vehicles around us.  I don't recall dozing off but it was very clear that when I opened my eyes, I knew I had fallen asleep.  It couldn't have been more than a few seconds.  I can tell you that it was very easy to stay awake after that.
God has a work for us to do and He needs us here.  I have no doubt that he was watched over us in both of those instances.  I feel that my prayers for protection are never wasted.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Bonny Rae

 On October 1, 1969 I finally had a sister.  There are 7 years between us but that didn't stop us from having fun together and playing the same things.  Of course, this little sister wasn't really able to play for a few years.  
She had so little hair when she was born and for more than a year later that often strangers thought she was a boy.  I was very offended by this considering I already had 3 brothers and this was my only sister.  
 We shared a bedroom for a few years but I couldn't stand how messy she was and she got her own room.  I do recall dancing the polka in my room and pretending to ice skate.  We watched the Olympics and got the bug.  We had a sparkly dress-up dress and used a flashlight to shine on one another as we "skated" and twirled around my bedroom in the dark.
We spent hours upon hours playing with the "little people" and barbies in my room.  We played together until I was at least 16.  I recall not wanting to be caught playing with those things and shoving them under the bed if someone came up the stairs.

 This woman graduated valedictorian of her class.  She went off to BYU for a year before coming back to Wisconsin and going to school in Green Bay for a year.  Then she decided it was time to serve the Lord as a missionary where she met a man that would change her life in ways that no one ever conceived of.
When she came home she went off and got married and had two sons.  Things did not work out as she intended and she came back home in 2014.  Things have changed so much.  A horrible man kept her isolated which limited her in having friends and being with other people.  An awful disease known as multiple sclerosis has robbed her of her ability to function physically as she would like.

With all of that, I cleaned out her apartment and set up her room and moved her into an assisted living home on her 49th birthday.  When I look at her she is a shell of the person I grew up with.  I know she was just a little girl then, but circumstances have robbed her of the simple joys that she should have.  Instead she is forced into a life that none of us ever expected.  Least of all her.

One thing is for certain.  She is home with her family.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

4 Years

Today marks 4 years since my sweet daddy passed from this life to the next.  I think of him often.  I don't miss him as much as I thought I would only because I know where he is and that he's with his sweetheart, my mom.
 I recall taking him to appointment after appointment with no answers for what was wrong with him.  It was very frustrating.  He was wise enough to know that he shouldn't be driving for which I'm very grateful.  I remember getting the news of his brain tumor and already knowing that it was cancer even before the biopsy.
 I miss this beautiful smile.  My dad was my hero.  He never got least I never saw him angry.  He was kind and generous to everyone.  He had a gentle way of rubbing my neck or feeling my ear lobes that made me know I was loved.  
He struggled through a difficult time in his life after my mom passed.  I prayed for him so much and fasted often.  His call on a Wednesday evening that everything was again right in his life was priceless.  Tears flowed because of happiness.  

He let me try and encouraged everyone to try everything.  He wanted us to know how to run big machinery.  He let everyone try whether you wanted to or not.  

Today I miss him.  
He was the perfect daddy for me.   
Families are forever.  Of this I am sure!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Happy 1st Birthday Sweetheart!

It was one year ago today that Pat had his heart attack.  It seems so surreal that it actually happened.  How could anyone who is so outwardly healthy have a heart attack?  I'm the one with the family history and the extra poundage.
 One year to think about and ponder what could have been.  It wasn't meant to be.  His work here is not yet finished.  That was clearly mentioned in the blessing he received under the hands of Andrew.
 We have had a wonderful time serving together in the temple and in our calling as area temple and family history consultants.  We enjoy traveling together to the wards and branches and sharing our message from a different pulpit each week.  
 We still spar on occasion and laugh together.  We also share our spiritual insights with one another.  I cherish those times.  I continue to learn so much from his words and example.  He is absolutely an example of a faithful, covenant keeping son of God.  
 Sometimes we disagree but we always work through those disagreements.  Our marriage hasn't always been a bed of roses but then how would we grow together if it was?  I wouldn't change a thing.  
 He's my best friend.  He makes me a better version of myself.  He sees in me what God sees in me.  He sees what I can become not just what I am.
I don't know what life has in store for us but as long as we face it together, we'll be fine.  Life is a grand adventure along side this handsome guy.  I will forever be grateful that he chose me to be his companion through eternity.  

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Andrew & Cierra's Wedding

May 17th took us to the Nauvoo temple for the marriage of our son Andrew to his beautiful fiance, Cierra Gayle Su'a.  We were so happy to be there with them and to witness the forever marriage of our youngest child.  
It seems we don't get our entire family together more than once each year.  The wedding gave us an extra opportunity to all be together and in one of our favorite places on the planet...Nauvoo!!!
 We had a very enjoyable time in Independence at a reception in their honor.  We were able to experience some of the culture of the Samoan people.  There were several dances for us to watch.  My favorite was when Cierra danced a hula for Andrew. 
 They just departed the temple and were about to be swarmed by children.
 The grand entrance at the Independence reception.
 My favorite moment of the entire evening was just after we began eating.  I looked up from my plate of food to see Brian and Kellie Welling walking toward us.  We hugged and hugged and shed tears.  They surprised us with this trip.  I had the feeling that this is what it will be like when we meet our loved ones after we leave this life.  Unspeakable joy!
 Cierra dancing with her dad.
 A new sibling picture.
 This was just after Cierra's hula.
 Tom was able to part of the wedding party during the grand entrance.
 Best man Tim!
 I have never seen my son so happy.
 All the nieces and nephews with the bride and groom.
My new favorite newlywed couple!

The Savior's Name

On Saturday, Pat and I drove to Iron Mountain to do some work before the day was out.  We had a speaking assignment in Houghton on Sunday and wanted to make a working trip out of it.  When we got to the building I was informed that I, a church service missionary, would be cleaning the sign on the front of the building.  I looked at the sign and didn't think that it looked bad.  One short run across one letter with sandpaper on a hand sander showed me how much filth and pollution was on that sign.
I worked on it for quite some time and was just beginning to clean the name "Jesus" when I thought that there must be something in this experience for me to learn from.  As I pondered on my task at hand, I recognized that the world doesn't treat the Savior's name with the reverence and respect it deserves.  Thus, it get polluted.  It was my job to clean the name of my Savior and make it shine once again.  My job took on a new look.  I no longer thought about how long the name of the church is.  I thought about getting the name of my Lord and His church to shine.  As I continued my job I thought about my sins that He has taken upon himself.  Did they make him "dirty?"  Cleaning His name surely made me dirty.  I was taken the pollution off of His name and it made my hands and arms filthy.  I was glad to do it!
When I was finished I thought about the covenant that I've made to take upon myself His name.  Do I stand as a witness at all times and in all things and in all places as I should?  I'm sure I have failed more than once.  I had a new outlook.  I need to stand as a witness with an unshakable firmness.  It was my pleasure to take upon myself the dirt from His name and the name of His church.  I am once again extremely grateful that Christ took my sins upon himself so I can be clean.

The Strait & Narrow Way

Last Saturday Pat and I headed north to do some work and then speak in Houghton.  On Monday we went to Marquette and rode our bicycles through the Preque Isle park.  When we finished riding we decided to walk this water break.  There was a plaque at the entrance to this trail that said to be careful when there are big waves as two young men drown after being swept off the break.  
The first half of this is concrete wide enough for two people to walk side by side.  Not wide enough for three.  It was an easy walk.  Large boulders were placed in the water next to the concrete.  Not sure why but I'm sure there's good reason.  Once you leave the concrete you start climbing over the boulders.  Not as easy as the concrete but not difficult.  They are fairly smooth and level.
 That lasted about half way to the lighthouse at the end.  The second half of the rocks were not smooth.  I had to pick my way around and over them.  At times I had to get down to steady myself before climbing to the next one.  At the end was a platform with some kind of light on it.  We climbed on top of it and took a rest in the shade before heading back.  Going back was much easier as the hardest part was first and we had already traversed it once.
As I was walking along this "path" I thought there must be a parable in this experience somewhere.  I thought how as we come into this world things are typically pretty easy.  Life doesn't really get harder until at least our teen years.  As we begin married life and parenting we face trials we didn't ever have before.  There are money issues and getting used to living with someone new.  There are differences in how we discipline.  Things in the middle part of my life were the most difficult.  In these places I was able to navigate but it would have been so much easier if I had a handhold.  Now as I have raised my children and don't have debts, things in my life are much easier.  I have all this wisdom that I've gained through the years.  I'm hoping the end half of my life is easier than that middle part just as this path was.

I thought about Lehi's dream.  It is great to stay on the path but it would be so much easier if we hold to the iron rod.  Holding to the word of God truly keeps us safer than just wandering through the rocks and hoping not to fall.  I feel blessed to have the scriptures to help me be safe. 

Blessings of Protection

A few weeks ago we experienced two very profound miracles of protection.  First.  On our way to the temple I usually take a nap.  I was reading and then was just about close my eyes for a nap as I was tired.  Pat pulled off the highway and asked me to drive.  I did so reluctantly.  I drove for some time and was getting tired.  I did the usual things of adjusting myself in my seat and rubbing my neck to keep myself awake.  I was struggling big time.  I would close one eye and then the other to try to keep one of them open.

Suddenly, I was wide awake and had my senses sharp as ever.  I recognized that I had indeed fallen asleep at the wheel with the cruise at 75mph.  I didn't hear a voice.  I didn't feel anyone shake me awake.  Yet I knew that someone had awakened me.  I was still in my own lane and there was no other traffic around me.  I immediately recognized that there are those unseen people around me to help keep us safe.

That was on Friday.  On Monday, Pat went to a service project where they were cutting down saplings.  He came home and showed me his pants.  There were jagged tears in the left knee. 
His chainsaw had come forward after he cut a tree and stopped on his leg.  As you can see there are shreds in his pants.  His garment was not torn but there was a bruise on his knee.  Again there was divine protection.  I cannot say how grateful I was to my Heavenly Father for keeping him safe just as He had done a few days earlier.  

We must have a work to do here on this earth as it is possible that neither of us could be here.  

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Miracles on the Lord’s Time

Last week I woke up with some very tight muscles in my shoulder and up into my neck on the right side of my body.  Sitting was very uncomfortable after a short time.  I attempted my stretch it out, took Advil, rubbed it out with icy hot and using a heated rice bag.  Nothing really worked.

I had Pat give me a blessing. I expected that the next morning I would wake and be healed.  It didn’t happen.  I endured the pain throughout the entire weekend.  I think it was some kind of virus as I didn’t do anything to cause it.  I prayed that I would be healed before we left for our Area Temple and Family History Consultant conference in Kirtland, Ohio.  

As we left on Tuesday afternoon, I took a small pillow along to give my neck some support.  It helped but was still stiff.  We spent the night in LaPorte, Indiana.  Upon waking up on Wednesday morning the pain and stiffness were gone.  I look at this as a miracle.  I needed relief so I could enjoy the conference. It came when I needed it.  Heavenly Father always hears and answers our prayers.  Sometimes we have to be patient and wait for the answer to come.  Timing is everything!  My testimony of miracles has grown once again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hidden Blessings

It is April 15th and we are in the midst of the biggest blizzard in 129 years. We have been blessed with over two feet of snow! That's not the blessing I'm referring to. Six years ago, while driving home for Christmas, Jeff and Sammi's car died west of Fargo. I had to get in my car and drive the 8 hours to go rescue them along with Erin and baby Evelyn. It wasn't too difficult, just a pain. 

Fast forward to yesterday. Andrew is driving home after his semester in Salt Lake City. His cousin, Evan Hoffman, flew out there to drive home with him. Andrew's car is not very trustworthy. It has it's issues. Using oil being the major issue. Pat and I both offered many prayers that the car would function properly and get them back to Wisconsin. Pat and I were in Milwaukee overnight due to a speaking assignment in the north stake. We were supposed to speak in two units in the Appleton stake on our way home. Due to the blizzard, church was cancelled everywhere north of Milwaukee. 

Pat's phone rang just about midnight. It was Andrew. The car had just quit while they were driving. I lay there thinking, "But I begged and pleaded with God that he would bring those men home without incident." We both prayed several times. I felt very let down that God didn't grant me this very simple thing. I felt like just crying but knew that was useless. We made several calls and got no help. They called 911 and a tow truck was sent to rescue them. We told them all the important things to ask the driver. This morning we checked all of our options and determined that they should take a bus to Minneapolis and then rent a car to get the rest of the way home. 

Here is where the blessings come in. Evan got a few days off and decided he would like to visit his siblings in Idaho so he volunteered to drive with Andrew. The car died near Miles City, Montana (900+ miles from here) where there was cell service, hotels, a ward with a bishop and where there's a bus stop. They could have been in a place where the nearest city was an hour or more away. They could have been in a place with limited cell service. They could have been where there was no ward and thus no people to help them out. I felt very sorrowful as I contemplated just how blessed they were. They were together and they were safe! I asked my Father in Heaven to forgive me for my selfishness and thanked Him for all the tender mercies he had given. These blessings are not coincidences. 

Sometimes we don't get what we ask for in prayer. Sometimes we drive a junker car that the Lord knows will only last so long. He blesses us to get to a place where there are members of the church who can help us. That was the experience from six years ago as well. Wonderful people who took in our children. We do not know what God has in store for us. We do know that if we trust in Him, he will guide us and take care of us. My testimony has grown. My heart is softer and more broken than before. I know there are miracles. This miracle wasn't that the car would make it home but rather the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Friday the 13th

Who says Friday the 13th is unlucky?  Not for this family!  Meet Eli Mack Gourley born on Friday, April 13th 2018.  He's such a good baby.  Rarely cries and makes all the appropriate baby grunting noises.
He's got the Gourley boy dimple(s).  He's been here for less than two weeks and I've only gotten to snuggle him a few times but I'm in love with this little nugget.
It seems when Clare has a baby boy in the winter/spring months, he is born during a blizzard.  First Brock, then Butch and then little Eli was born during blizzard Evelyn which dumped 30+ inches of snow on us over the course of a Friday night through Monday morning.  It was the most snow in one storm since 1888 or some long ago time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I'm Still in Love

I've been married to this handsome guy for 35 years.  I'm still in love with him as much as I ever was.  In fact, more than I ever was!
In a Sunday School lesson this past week our teacher said that she's been married for 22 years and people want to know her secret for a long and happy marriage.

I've pondered over this a time or two in my life.  What I've decided first and foremost is that you both have to want it.  It just doesn't happen like some random miracle.  Common goals, values and beliefs are huge.  But then so is communication.  There is no room for keeping secrets from one another.  The only secrets that are allowed are the gift kind.  I love surprising and being surprised by the gifts we've given one another.

Random acts of kindness like bringing home flowers or making a favorite meal earn good points.  Helping around the house is also a great way to keep things alive.  Nothing pleases me more than randomly doing the dishes or cleaning up.  It shows how much he loves our home and me.

Taking a crying baby, especially during the night, long enough for me to get a second wind was so appreciated when we had little ones.  Sitting down and being able to talk to one another and our children is a great way to show me he loves me.

This is the guy I want to hold hands with forever.  I want his arms around me when I've had a bad day or unpleasant news.  It is his face I love to see in the temple.  Praying and serving God together has strengthened our relationship.  We haven't had much opportunity to serve together but now we do and it has enhanced our relationship.

I always wanted a marriage like the one my parents have.  As I as well as others, watched them, you could see how much they loved one another.  I believe we have that.  Sure we tease and spar occasionally but that too keeps us from making the trivial things too important.

When I read, "Men are that they might have joy", I believe I've found that joy in my marriage.  There is no one else ever that I would rather spend eternity with than my sweetheart.  Marriage is work.  It is give and take.  It causes tears and pain at time, but that is such a small part of my experience.  The happiness far outweighs any of the difficulties we've experienced.  Here's to 35 more!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


This is probably a post for Sammi to share but I need to record it too. 

Sammi and Jeff have been dealing with infertility for several years.  I've watched the heartache as she discovers over and over that there is no pregnancy.  I fast and pray for them and add their names to the prayer roll at the temple. 

Late last year they did a procedure called IUI and it didn't work.  They opted to try IVF.  This is quite expensive and there are no guarantees that it will work.  Well, they retrieved some eggs before the end of the year and had them fertilized. 

Early this year they went to have the embryo transfer.  Sammi was hilarious as they gave her some medication to relax her and she acted very drunk. I know she would be a happy drunk.  Anyway, statistics show that with one embryo transferred there is a 51% chance of achieving pregnancy.  If two embryos are transferred it jumps to 68%.  They decided to go with the odds and transfer two in hopes of getting pregnant.

They got pregnant!  BOTH embryos took and she is now pregnant with TWINS!!!  We not only get a new daughter-in-law this year but we get three new babies added to the family.  I'm so thrilled for them!

This will surely be a memorable year for our family.  Let's just hope the news we get is the happy kind and no more illnesses or heart attacks or accidents.


My husband and I have been out speaking at various units throughout the state and upper peninsula of Michigan.  It has been a joy sitting at his side and sharing our thoughts. 
But, our calling is about more than going out and speaking.  We should be training stake presidencies, high councilors and stake leads.  So far, we have only one stake with a lead.  We need to do more training.  It is difficult to get all the key people in one place at the same time. 
Recently, we've received a few emails inviting us to speak at stake conference, train a ward council and more speaking opportunities.  I've also sent out some requests for training. 
I feel the work is about to pick up.  We recently sent out the monthly report with some quotes from Pres. Nelson and Elder Renlund from the rootstech conference that was recently held.  I received some great feedback from a couple of stakes as well as the mission president.  The Lord's hand is in this.  I feel it.  I see it. 
The promises made by the brethren of the quorum and the 1st presidency are so powerful.  I want those blessings in my life and that of my posterity.  So far it has been a blessing to share this calling with my sweetheart.  I look forward to more opportunities to work with him.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go

When I was a teenager, Ma Hoffman had the missionaries living with her.  They had it good there as she did their cooking, laundry and cleaning.  She wouldn't take any money for rent either.  That was back in the day when each missionary paid whatever rent was in their area. 

I was at her home the day that a specific missionary got word that he was being transferred.  I don't recall his name but I know he was a larger guy.  Tall too.  Ma was maybe 5' tall.  This missionary was upset and crying because he didn't want to leave.  I suppose it was like living with your grandma when you stayed there.  I was standing in her kitchen when I saw her look up at this giant of a man and start singing, "I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord, over mountain or plain or sea..."  He was still crying but I believe it was for a different reason now.  It was a powerful thing to witness.

Years ago when there was still a stake mission, I was interviewed by Gary Olsen and extended the call to be a stake missionary.  My husband was serving as a counselor in the stake presidency and I had many young children at home.  I had no idea how I could fulfill this commitment and told him that I would have to go home and pray over it.  I had never done that before.  I always accepted each calling when it was extended.  I spent the next week pondering, praying and wondering how I could possibly accept this calling.  Then I remembered that experience from years earlier.  I could hear Ma singing to me, "I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord..."  When Gary called to ask what my decision was I was able to tell him that I would accept the call.  By the way, I loved that calling.

Fast forward to Sunday, February 11, 2018.  Pat and I were driving to Beaver Dam for a speaking assignment with our calling as Area Temple and Family History Consultants. I put a MoTab cd in to listen to music.  As I listened the choir began to sing,
It may not be on a mountain height or over a stormy sea,
It may not be on the battle's front, the Lord has need of me.
But if by a still, small voice he calls, to paths that I do not know,
I'll answer dear Lord, with my hand in thine, I'll go where you want me to go.

As I listened I thought how the Lord doesn't usually ask me to do things that are out of my scope.  Instead he asks me to do things that are out of my comfort zone.  He asks me to do things that will help me grow spiritually.  The KEY is the last line of that verse.  I'll go with my hand in His.  I love the imagery of that.  When I am asked to do hard things, He will take me by the hand and lead me.  With him leading, I can do all things.  I believe Nephi said something very similar in 1 Nephi 3:7.  There is nothing too difficult if I allow the Lord to help me do it.  I can do nothing of myself.  I will fail if I don't let the Lord lead me.

I now have an even greater appreciation for that hymn.  I WILL go where He wants me to go.

You're my Elder Ford

Pat and I spent a lot of time biking over the summer and fall.  I was sad when it got too cold to go out anymore.  I suggested we get some cross country skis for the winter as we have the Mountain Bay trail just across the street.  It is used as a snowmobile trail so it gets groomed.  In December Pat brought home two pairs of skis, poles and boots.  We went out a few times before the trail was groomed.  It made the going a bit tough but we really enjoyed it.  We tried to go out in new snow but that just does NOT work.  It has been so bitter cold that we just haven't gone out as much as we would have liked to. 

Today was a beautiful day in the high 30's or low 40's.  I believe the trails are closed to snowmobile traffic after being open for about a week.  The last two days have melted a lot of snow and ice.  It will be cold again tomorrow just as an FYI.  Anyway, we got out on that wonderfully groomed trail and started off.  I stayed with Pat for quite a while but he just doesn't glide across the snow like I do.  He spends more time "walking" across the snow.  I finally decided to go out and begin really striding and I got ahead of Pat by a bit.  Then I stopped and waited for him to catch up.  Repeat, repeat, repeat. 

Back up to Pat's mission.  He had a greenie named Elder Ford.  They were in a bike area and Elder Ford would always ride ahead, turn around and come back.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  So today Pat told me that I was his Elder Ford.  I consider that a compliment.

What Next?

Just about a month ago I received a phone call that the Meals on Wheels delivery person found Bonny unresponsive in her apartment.  I was at work so I had to get someone to cover so I could go to the hospital.  When I got there, the attending Nurse Practitioner asked me what I thought was wrong with her.  I immediately told her UTI.  They did the proper tests and confirmed my diagnosis.  I told the NP about her previous hospitalization and the broken heart syndrome.  She didn't know anything about that so I educated her.  Due to the infection, the cardiac enzymes were elevated.  Once they were rechecked, it was decided to move her to Green Bay as they continued to elevate.

As I went to her apartment to take her clothing and gather things she would need once she was released.  There were some phone calls from someone I didn't know.  Upon further exploration I found she was being scammed.  Almost all of her funds are safe in irrevocable trusts which she cannot get her hands on.  So instead she took the funds set aside for her funeral and wasted them.  Susie found that she had credit monitoring again coming out of that account.  When I was able to cancel it I found they had already taken close to $1000 over the past 10+ months.  I believe those people are also scammers.  They just happen to be legal about it. 

I spent a few days making phone calls and changing accounts to keep her trusts safe.  I was concerned about information she may have given to the phone scammer but found that my fears were unwarranted.  That Friday was my temple assignment and I decided I was not going to miss serving in the temple because my sister didn't use any common sense.

We went to the temple and served on Friday night.  On Saturday morning I had a some time by myself due to being the coordinator in the initiatory.  I was able to sit in quiet contemplation and give thanks to my Father in Heaven for his mercy and direction.  Later I was able to serve again in the initiatory and had a amazing, spiritual experience there.  I would not have wanted to miss that opportunity.

Bonny is now in a rehab facility where she is getting proper attention to her disability.  She is getting physical and occupational therapy to help her get stronger.  They informed me and her that she needs to be stronger and more steady before they will allow her to return to her own home.  I am grateful for that.  In the mean time, I am going to her place every few days to spend a little time with her cat, Piper.  She craves attention and comes out and is actually social rather than her usual hiding as soon as I come in.

Sammi and I have been to her apartment and have cleaned out the fridge, vacuumed everything, washed everything that can be washed and just cleaned up and threw out a lot of junk.  The place actually doesn't have a unpleasant odor anymore.  Now to keep that up once she gets home.

Bon and I have had some very important discussions and one thing I told her was that she needs to have some counseling to help her through the feelings she has for her children and especially her former spouse.  He was a monster to her and she needs to find a way to forgive all his nastiness.  I don't think it will be easy but it is necessary.  She has an amazing bishop who will help her through whatever he can.  I hope she will allow him to assist her.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Anniversary Week

Our 35th wedding anniversary was on Thursday of this week.  Thirty-five years!  Where did that time go?  On Monday my sweetheart brought home a dozen yellow roses.  I LOVE yellow roses and he knows it.  What a thoughtful gesture.  I was doing the dishes on Monday night and noticed that my second-hand crock pot had a crack 2/3s of the way through it.  I love having two crock pots as I use them often and at times I use both of them.  So on Tuesday after work, my sweetie came home with a new crock pot.  I asked what this was for and he responded, "It's our anniversary week."

I was instructed not to make any dinner on Wednesday night as he was bringing home KFC.  That was our dinner the night we got married.  It's been a tradition for a couple of years to have KFC on our anniversary but since he already had plans he brought it home on Wednesday.

On Thursday, our actual anniversary, we went to work together.  I didn't do much other than wait around for him to install two water heaters that took much longer than he anticipated.  When he was finally finished, we went to see the movie Darkest Hour.  It was about Winston Churchill and set in WWII.  We sat in a theater holding hands in our recliners.  It was a really good, historical movie.  After the movie was finished we went to Olive Garden.  Our server asked us if we were celebrating anything special.  With that information, he provided us with a free dessert.  It was something with warm apples and ice cream.  So delicious!

Last night we went to a basketball game and I scored.  During the varsity game, Pat scored the opponent's book as he had no one to do it.  At least we could sit together.  Today we went to Shawano together to run some errands and tomorrow we are speaking in the Appleton 2nd ward before going to meet with their stake presidency to do some training. 

It's been a wonderful week. The temperatures were above normal for several days this week which made me happy.  Now, we're back to the deep freeze.  It's been a wonderful anniversary week!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

An Engagement!

While Andrew was home, he informed us that he would be proposing to Cierra at some point after they got back to Utah.  So, with all the information Sammi got about what kind of ring she wanted, she went online searching for the perfect ring on Christmas day.  When Andrew came home from playing basketball, there were many tabs open on the computer.  He finally chose one and ordered it.  I got a call two days ago that it was in store.
 He decided that he would pick it up yesterday and that it would also be the day when he would ask her to be his bride.  She had suspicions but didn't put it all together until it happened.
We are beyond excited to have this beautiful woman join our family on May 10th! Let the planning begin!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Speaking Assignments

This new calling has given us some new opportunities.  We have been to five of the six stake presidencies to give them our vision and some training on the importance of this work and let them know how we can assist them.  Our sixth stake presidency will meet with us in two weeks.  One of the other unique opportunities I've had is to attend a CCM (coordinated council meeting).  That's where the six stake presidents in Wisconsin, along with the mission and temple presidents meet together under Elder Scott's (area Seventy) direction.  It was fun to watch these brethren interact with one another and discuss topics pertinent to their callings as stake presidents.  I could tell, just by listening, which of them have served the longest. 

On a side note, Elder Scott usually calls people by the title President, Brother or Sister.  But he always calls me Heidi.  I think it's interesting but I like it.  I think, perhaps, it's because we have a more personal relationship.  Ours is the first home he stayed in when he visited our stake.

In the 13 months since Pat and I were called to be Area Temple & Family History Consultants, we have taken the opportunity to speak in any of the units in our six stake area that will invite us.  To date we've spoken in Prairie du Chein, Stoughton, Rhinelander, Antigo, Wausau, Shawano, Stevens Point and in Gresham just a few days ago.  We have plans so far in 2018 to go to Appleton 2nd, Baraboo, Iron Mountain, Sturgeon Bay and Marinette.  We have also been invited to go to Houghton, Marquette and Verona units.  Travel is a part of this assignment.  I look forward to being able to meet and speak in many more units throughout our area.

We are sharing our experiences with finding names to take to the temple as well as putting memories on our web page.  I share some wonderful memories of my own as well as some of those from my parents' lives.  I will admit that preparing to speak in Gresham was a little different as most people there knew my parents and they all know us.  I didn't have to give any background information about my parents which allowed me to share more memories. 

As a result of our speaking, several people let me know that they went on to their own pages and shared a memory or did some research.  Our granddaughter, Camille was one of those individuals and she's only 10 years old!  I'm so proud of her.

I think our message resonates with people because it is very personal. I change up some of the things I share but I always share "Letter to my Grandmother" written by my mom in 1979.  She writes about memories she has and then asks a bunch of questions.  I felt so impressed to share this while preparing for our very first speaking assignment.  That hasn't changed.  I still feel it is very important to share.  I also share some scriptures of the importance of keeping records.

This is such an important message.  We need to leave memories for our posterity who will come behind and not get to know us.  We also need to find those who are waiting to be found.  I think being able to serve with my husband is the best part of this calling.  I think it is preparing us for when we are missionaries.

Below is "Letter to my Grandmother"written on November 1, 1979.

Dear Grandmother, I'm sending this invitation -- I hope you will accept it. On November 19th, I am going to Washington, D.C., to the temple. I hope you will be there with me on that day. You see, Grandma, I joined the Lord's Church just over 11 years ago. In 1968, I received my own endowment and was sealed to my husband and children for time and all eternity. This has been such a blessing in my life -- I want you to have that blessing, too. You were so special to me, Grandma, my almost-mother for 4 years after my difficult birth which left Mother so weak and slow to recover due to my sister's impatience to come to this earth so soon after I did. I remember that you read "Farmer Brown's Boy" to me every day, and more than once a day if I had my way! Then, when the book fell apart due to old age and hard use, you crocheted it together with red yarn. I remember how you rocked me and sang "Darling Nelly Gray" after you finished the story. I remember the slipper socks you knitted for us and that we all called "zochs" with your German accent. I remember you taught me a little German prayer: Ach du Lieber Vatter, but I don't remember the rest or what it meant. How proud you were that I could say it in your native tongue! I remember also, Grandma, that you died when I was only 4 years old and I looked all over the house for you, sure that you were hiding, because I had never known anyone that had died before, and I checked your room each morning to see if you had come back. Four years to know you was much too short a time, Grandma. There are so many things I want to know about you. Did you like to sing? How did you feel about leaving your homeland at age 8, and coming to America on a big boat? How did you get from Baltimore to Wisconsin? Nobody has ever been able to tell me. I have the sea chest you brought with you from Germany, the wooden one with the curved top and the dovetailed corners with the adz marks on the top. Did your father, my great-grandfather, make it? Both of my daughters love this "coffin" as we call it. I wish you knew my girls, they are blue-eyed blondes, where your daughters were dark and brown-eyed. They are taller than you, Grandma, but most everyone is taller than 4'11". I have the black jet beads that were yours. I love to wear them and wear them often. Did you know they came back into style? I know there are missionaries over there, Grandma, and you probably know more about the gospel than I. Mother said that you were a religious woman so I am sure you accepted the "Good News" of the gospel when it came to you. She told me that you always fasted on Sundays when you took the sacrament, or communion, as it was called in your church. Did Lutherans fast, or were you some other religion at one time? I wish I knew. Anyway, Grandma, I am writing to invite you to the Lord's House. There I will take your name and be baptized and confirmed for you in the Lord's way. I will receive the endowment on your behalf and be sealed to Grandpa and your daughter -- my aunts -- Tillie and Amanda, for time and all eternity. I am doing this part to repay you for all the "Darling Nelly Gray's" you sang to me, partly because my own salvation depends on my doing the work for you, partly because I'm selfish and want to see you again, but mostly, Grandma, because I want to renew, in eternity, that love that we had for each other some 40 years ago. I hope you will be at the temple. With love, Your granddaughter, Carol