Monday, December 29, 2008

Growth


I'm trying to grow out my hair.

Sigh.

It's at a very awkward, and dare we say...extremely unattractive?? phase. Not much seems to be helping, in spite of the cute barrettes my sweetie bought me.

Sigh.

I gave a talk in church yesterday, and so of course the hair was sadder than usual because I tried harder than usual with it. And of course, as I looked out over the congregation, I saw so many cute ladies with very very cute short hair.

It's so tempting to stop growing it and just go back to short hair.

The short look was easy, and it was comfortable, and I know I could have easily kept cutting it. But I grew tired of the stage it was at and wanted it to grow. I have a goal in mind of the look I want...

It's just going to take some time and lots of awkward and unpleasant hair days. I'm hopeful the end result will be worth it, though.

I find that I am going through much the same in my life right now...choosing to grow. I could easily have stayed where I was at and lived a pretty happy life, but wanted to grow. Now I find myself in that awkward, painful stage, where all I want to do is turn back. It would be so easy to do so and to forget this painful growth stage. But would I truly have the result I want in the end?

No. I have a goal in mind...

It's just going to take a lifetime of growth and probably lots of painful growing moments. But I know the end result will be worth it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Finger-Lickin' Good :)


Here are a few cute pictures of our girls with their daddy on Christmas Eve, making a gingerbread house for Santa:



And here is the house five minutes after we finished:



Our Christmas was one of the most peaceful, joyful, and pleasant we have ever had. I'll try to write more about it later. I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and that the joy is still in your hearts. :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good gifts





I've spent a lot of time today thinking of Christmases past, reminiscing a bit. I've been thinking a lot about my mother the past couple of days. I will write more about that in a minute.

The above picture is from Christmas Eve long ago when my brother Joe, who was supposed to be a shepherd, fell over from the sheer force of his swing as he was trying to wack my other brother, John, with the sleeve of his robe. This blurry old picture is mid-fall. :)

And here's Joe, stealing the baby Jesus:


And this would be my other brother, wrestling Joe to the ground to get the baby back:

(Libby--As you can see, I've got the goods on Joe...there's plenty more where that came from.)

But back to my mom. :)

I have kept seeing this image of my mom in my mind for the past few days. I can remember her so well this particular Christmas morning, and though I can't remember a single thing I got right off hand, I can remember her face. She was so happy, and her smile was so sweet as she watched the six of us open our gifts. She was so glad give us those gifts and to watch us receive them. I know she'll hate that I put a picture of it up, because she had wet hair and no makeup, but to me, this is one of my fondest memories of her lovely face.



She radiated the joy of a mother giving to her children. Though this is a blurry image, I can see her love clearly. As this image has been in my mind over the past few days, I have constantly reflected on one of my favorite verses of scripture:
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
-Matthew 7:11

I have felt my Father in Heaven's love for me so much this season. I have asked Him for help every day, almost at every moment, and He has showered me with "good things." I don't know how exactly to express it, other than to say that I truly know that He loves us, and truly gives "good things to them that ask Him."

A jolly old elf :)

We had a little visit from Santa last night!! We loved him so much and hated to see him go. The baby wasn't so sure about that beard, though. :)














Thanks for coming, Santa! See you soon!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Too big for us



Before school, I had some things to do, so I told the girls to wait for me for a minute in the school room. They love to read, and so they often dig through our big book bin and find a book to look at. This time, as you can see, they took out all of the books and there were books everywhere. When I saw that they had done that, I asked them to hurry and pick them up so that we could start school in a clean room.



When I came back a few minutes later, they had picked up a few, but there had not been much progress, and a couple of the girls were lying despondently on the floor. I asked them why they had not picked up the books as I had asked. One daughter replied, "It's just too big a job for us to do ourselves."

At first, the sterner side of me was upset, and I wanted to get after them and tell them that if they were big enough to make that big of a mess themselves, they were certainly big enough to clean up a mess that big themselves. But something stopped me from saying that.

Something brought to my remembrance all of the times in my life when I had made a "big mess" that I just couldn't fix myself. Something helped me to remember that we have a Savior, who loves us enough to help us clean up those big messes and make them right. He would never abandon us to fix it on our own. Though of course my daughters need to learn to clean up after themselves, I felt joy in sharing that principle with them in a simple way as we cleaned the mess together. In their own little hearts, a burden lifted as we cleaned the books together, and it reminded me of my own joy as I have felt the Savior's help in my own life, time and time again.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My little princesses




My sister Chantile drew this of my girls. Isn't it amazing? :) It fits them so well. :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

You know you're a mom when...

You know you're a mom when, as your husband is leaving in the morning, says, "You're such a looker!" but you hear: "You're such a booger."

:)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Richmonds

Dear loved ones,

This year, we decided to conserve finances and time, we would do our Christmas card this way...hope no one minds! We love all of you and wish you the happiest Christmas you could have.


Those who read my blog are pretty familiar with our year, but here's a quick year-in-review of our blessings. :)


January
- With tremendous blessings and a lot of help from Matt, Ann's business, MommYoga, was finally launched! Also, we lived through the winter disease we all had.

February - Our 4th daughter, Eden Vianne was born. "Eden" was the most peaceful name I could imagine, and "Vianne" means "alive." For those of you familiar with the circumstances of her birth, you know that this name is very fitting. She has been a ray of light, joy, and peace in our lives. I don't know what any of us ever did without her!


March - Matt battled a horrible case of pneumonia, but we are blessed that he is just fine now!


April - Eden was blessed, and it was a beautiful day. Dad and Mom Richmond were able to be with us, and so was Mark. For me, it was such a peaceful day, and felt like a day of triumph over so much that we had been through. Also in April, MommYoga expanded onto Amazon.com! The success since we have been on Amazon has astounded every last one of us. We have been so blessed!


May - We got a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old! Party party! We are so grateful for both girls, and love them so very much. They both bring so much joy to our family. In May, we also participated in the Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk as a family. It was a wonderful experience...and thank you again to all those who sponsored us! This is a cause pretty dear to our hearts, so thank you. :) Also in May, our two oldest girls had their dance recital and did wonderfully!

June - Matt and I celebrated six years together! We have grown closer and happier this year than ever before. I cannot imagine what our lives would ever be like without each other.

July - We survived yet another Ohio summer by playing constantly in the pool our Richmond grandparents gave us. :) Also, we made a cross-country trek to attend the Ipson family reunion, which was especially fun because my little brother (who is now engaged to a lovely young woman) had just gotten home from his mission.


August - The Olympics weren't the only amazing thing in the world in August...it was a month of substantial miracles for us. We have been blessed beyond anything we can comprehend. One of the amazing blessings of August was that Matt was offered an incredible job in Denver as a Web Developer. Also in August, our girls did wonderfully in the Primary Talent show. Saying good-bye to the primary in Ohio was very hard for me, and I love and miss them all very much! But life took a new turn and a new light for us after the blessings of August.

September - In September, our little family had to let go of our daddy for a time, as he ventured forth to Colorado to make a home for us! It was very difficult for us to be apart, but he thrived in Colorado, and the girls and I were blessed and comforted to be with dear loved ones, Matt's parents. Our time with them was filled with blessings, and we will always be grateful for that time we had with them before moving so far away.

October - October was a difficult month for me, as I was without Matt, but I was blessed more than I can express by the help of loved ones who were constantly helping me with everything that I needed. I will never be able to repay all that was done for me. Dad R. helped me get our house ready, and my little brother John came out to help us pack up and drive out to Colorado at the end of the month. It was very hard to say goodbye to family, friends, and "the Ohio," but it was miraculous to be together as a family again! We didn't mind at all eating on the floor till our things arrived!



November - Our little homeschool really started to take off as we got more and more settled in. It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to teach our children! We are very busy with 1st grade, kindergarten, and preschool! We are loving it! Also, we got a brand new, great big 4-year-old! We spent Thanksgiving with my family in Vernal, and it was a wonderful time of tea parties and fun. :)

December - Well, I don't know what else to say. There have been so many blessings this year, and we are so happy to be together, though many things have been difficult. Together as a family, we can make it through anything. In living through this past year, I can definitely say that we have lived! Our lives our very full. Our greatest blessing of all is our Savior, Who we love with everything we are, and try constantly to remember. We are so grateful for His restored Gospel, and try to live it every moment of our lives.

Merry Christmas! May your days be merry and bright. Ours certainly have been. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pride

My parents surprised me recently with a beautiful gift. They had not only bought a large version of my very favorite painting, Christ Healing at the Pool of Bethesda, by Carl Bloch, but my dad had handmade a beautiful frame for it. I was touched beyond anything I can begin to write. They felt bad, because they had bought it some time ago, but had not yet given it to me. But, as I have known so many times, nothing is coincidental. I needed it now.


The picture is a beautiful and touching scene of Christ's compassion, which is one reason that it is my favorite painting. I often feel Christ's compassion for me when I look at it. But another reason that it is my favorite is that it reminds me of my greatest foe: my natural self. Depicted in the painting is a man in a red cap, and he is actually the center point of the scene.

No one likes him when they seem him in this painting...he is disquieting. Why? Because part of him is inside of each of us. Lately, I have felt him resurfacing in my own life. Not only resurfacing...I feel that I have become him again. He is so close to the Savior, yet he holds onto himself and his pain, rather than turning to the Master. I have been fasting and praying for help these past days. I am so grateful for all that I have learned again, and though much of it is too personal to relate here, some of what I have learned again I want to write here, so that I may come to it again.
Except for his red cap, he is bereft of worldly possessions. His ragged robe is too large for his emaciated body, as if to suggest that he as once more robust. Now he is weaker, thinner, more tired. His wounded leg is but a manifestation of a wounded spirit as he looks distrustful, even resentful...The tight grip the man holds around his legs suggests a spirit not fully ready to submit. It appears that he still wants to control and even protect his injury rather than turn it over to the Savior.

The red cap on his head my be a proud remnant of a former life and accomplishments, even a signal to others that he was once a person of station...

No one gets through life without needing help and healing. We pray and hope and continue to believe that "earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal..."

The man in the red cap, though half-hearted and wary, is not a lost soul. He may still be bound by some anger, but he does turn toward healing. Maybe dashed hopes and previous disillusionments have made him more cautious, distrustful, even reluctant to fully embrace the light he now begins to sense. Perhaps arrogance has gotten the best of him: the pride that led him to his spiritually wounded condition, the pride that keeps him from being healed...

Pain preceeds healing...

We cannot be healed until we let go of personal pride and come unto the Savior. We have to be willing to submit to the Master Healer. No matter the loneliness, sorrow, difficulty, or distress, we can find rest to our souls, but only if we submit our will and sincerely offer, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt." Sometimes we cling so tightly to the vestiges of our independence, like the man in Bloch's painting...that we prevent our own healing. The trials that should humble us instead merely make us ashamed of our dependence, and, ironically, less willing to submit to healing. Pride exacerbates our spiritual injuries and perceived grievances, and none of us is entirely immune from its infection...

Humility invites healing. Humility is recognizing that we are dependent upon God's grace and that we not only can but must ask for divine help....If we can hold on to the humility we feel in the midst of a trial, we can find healing, growth, and newness of life...

Once we recognize our pride and begin the lifelong effort to overcome it, we realize that we cannot heal ourselves. We need God's help...

The more we submit and consecrate, the more our trials and suffering are "swallowed up in the joy of Christ."
- Excerpt from The Healer's Art, by Lloyd D. Newell and Don H. Staheli

It reminds me of something President Eyring once said: "Pride creates a noise within us, that makes the quiet whisperings of the Spirit hard to hear."

I love what C.S. Lewis said:
Once you call [Christ] in, He will give you the full treatment. That is why He warned people to 'count the cost' before becoming Christians. 'Make no mistake,' He says, 'if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you..., whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect--until My Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with Me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.'
I find myself this year in a constant battle of choice. More than ever before in my life, my trials are hinged on choices. I could choose to submit myself, or not. But choosing to submit this year has always meant choosing to endure a very painful trial. The most interesting challenge is that I am constantly given the option to not submit, and thus, not endure the trial. But who do I want to be like? The man in the red cap, or the man who is made whole by the Savior?

Friday, December 12, 2008

What do noses do?

(I'm cross-posting today, because this is just so funny!) :)

My first-grader has been learning in science about how the different body parts of humans and animals help them to find, obtain, and consume food.


Today we were learning about polar bears...the web cam watching, talking about how they live, what they eat, and then, what their different body parts do to help them find and consume their food. The conversation went like this:

Me: So what do their eyes do?
1st grader: They can see the seals a long ways away.
Me: Good. What do their claws do?
1st grader: Helps them hold onto the ice.
Me: And what else?
1st grader: They grab the food and tear it up.
Me: Yep. Their teeth?
1st grader: Chomp the food.
Me: And their noses?
1st grader: Make boogers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A few fun Thanksgiving pictures...

We had the nicest Thanksgiving at my parents' house, and though I'm just now getting around to putting up some pictures, it was a wonderful time. :)


Santa rides the tractor every year. :) The girls and Logan got to help Grandma and Grandpa put him up!



The girls with their new best friend in the whole world: Logan the man! They were instant buddies and miss him lots. Hope we see you soon, little guy! :)



Monday, December 8, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Monday, or "Black Boogers"

'Twas the night before Monday,
And all through our house,
Many creatures were stirring
(But hopefully no mouse).

Mommy had been sick
For days and for days,
So a home teacher was called,
To help ease her malaise.

Mommy lit a candle,
So bright and so sweet,
In hopes the aroma
Would be a welcome treat.

The wick started smoking,
But only so slightly.
Though the flame rose dramatically,
The glow was inviting.

The candle burned brightly,
The wax glowed so red
As if to convince her
She had nothing to dread.

The home teacher came,
A blessing was given,
And mommy retreated
For a 10-minute heaven.

Mommy's greatest wish
Was a nice, warm, cozy bath,
And she read and relaxed,
Forgetting time as it passed.

That candle kept burning,
The girls were alarmed,
But daddy assured them
It would do them no harm.

Its' flame, how it twinkled!
Its' warm scent, how merry!
It was easy to look past
The smoke that poured from its belly.

When the warm bath was finally drained,
Mommy was shocked to see what remained!
A thick black ring had formed 'round her bath.
She wondered what caused it, but no answer came.

Away to the living room
It was time to go,
As the Christmas Devotional was starting,
And it's such a nice show.

When what to her wondering eyes
Should appear,
But black boogers streaming
From little nostrils so dear.

Away to the kleenex
She flew like a flash!
Wiped four little black noses
And threw tissues in the trash!

"What could have caused this?"
Mommy wondered inside,
When she saw her dear husband
Blowing his own nose aside.

Mommy blew her nose, too,
It seemed only right,
Only to discover her own black boogers,
Much to her fright!

Then she saw it:

That very large flame,
So lively and quick,
She knew in a moment
It must be that wick.

The candle was extinguished,
And more noses blown,
But the damage is widespread,
The house is coming to show.

A black ring in the tub,
Black boogers galore,
Even the dishes are all black,
Though in cupboards they were stored.

The countertops, once white,
Are now gray,
Save for the little white circles
Where the cups lay that day.

So that candle shall never
Again burn in our home.
But it did have such a nice smell,
It's sad to see it go.

Bubble bubble bubble...

video

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What a great daddy :)





We love this man!! Even though he's massively outnumbered. :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sunday Will Come

Today I watched Joseph B. Wirthlin's funeral, and was so uplifted by it. I always loved Elder Wirthlin, and learning more about his life made me love him all the more. His son spoke, and he talked of the time when Elder Wirthlin lost his beloved wife. He spoke of a talk that Elder Wirthlin gave at that time, and the words spoke to my soul. In speaking of the Friday that Christ was crucified, he said:

I think of how dark that Friday was when Christ was lifted up on the cross.

On that terrible Friday the earth shook and grew dark. Frightful storms lashed at the earth.

Those evil men who sought His life rejoiced. Now that Jesus was no more, surely those who followed Him would disperse. On that day they stood triumphant.

On that day the veil of the temple was rent in twain.

Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were both overcome with grief and despair. The superb man they had loved and honored hung lifeless upon the cross.

On that Friday the Apostles were devastated. Jesus, their Savior—the man who had walked on water and raised the dead—was Himself at the mercy of wicked men. They watched helplessly as He was overcome by His enemies.

On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled.

It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.

I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world's history, that Friday was the darkest.

But the doom of that day did not endure.

The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.

And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, stood before them as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence.

Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.

But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.

No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come...

The Resurrection transformed the lives of those who witnessed it. Should it not transform ours?...

That we may always know that no matter how dark our Friday, Sunday will come is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Sunday Will Come"

How grateful I am for a Savior of Love and Hope, and for his beloved apostles here on the earth today.

We all have our Fridays, but Sunday will come!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Compassion

I have been thinking a lot today about the Savior and His feelings in this life. He must have felt such sorrow at the wickedness around Him, and such pain when people rejected Him, because He truly understood what they were rejecting. But among His most painful moments, I have to think that learning of John the Baptist's death had to be very hard for Him.


John the Baptist was not only His friend and cousin, but he had been sent to herald Christ's arrival and to prepare the way for Him to come. John the Baptist understood, perhaps better than anyone else, who Christ truly was and what He came to do.

When I read of Christ's reaction to the news of John's death, my heart aches for Him. Though the scriptures don't go into a lot of detail, it is as though I can feel His pain when I read:
When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart.
-Matthew 14:13
He must have wanted a small time alone, to ponder and probably to grieve. But the people ran after Him, not only His own followers, but also those of John the Baptist. Any of us would probably just wish for them to leave us alone for a little while.

But not Christ. When He saw them, He "was moved with compassion toward them," and He healed them and taught them. When I read that today, I was struck by His selflessness and His power to give, even in a time of great personal pain.

But then the thought came to me...perhaps His power and selflessness comes partly through His giving. His joy and peace comes from His compassion, from His ability to serve even when wracked with His own pain. Perhaps that is why we are told to serve others when our own hearts are weary. When we do that, we are lifted ourselves and have more strength to bear whatever we are feeling. Pain also allows us to feel deeper compassion and gentleness for others. Painful experiences can be a gift to us, in that our compassion can deepen if we turn outward and bless others, for in that compassion, we can find Christ's joy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yet thou art there

This past week, in the midst of all that was going on, Matt took me aside for one moment and we looked at the moon with Jupiter and Venus so close. It was miraculous and beautiful, and reminded me of all there is beyond the here and now. It also caused me to reflect on the incomprehensible vastness of God's creations, of which I am one. It would be tempting to feel small and unimportant when pondering on all that He has created and is constantly creating...worlds without end. But what kept coming back to me was something that Enoch said to the Lord:
And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever.
-Moses 7:30


And yet thou art there.

The God of the Universe, the Creator of All, is there. Not only is He there, but He is just, and merciful, and kind forever. In that moment, I felt a distinct knowledge of His keen awareness and involvement in every moment of my life. Everything that is happening right now is happening out of His forever kindness for me, to help me grow and come closer to Him and to who I am supposed to be.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said:
Considering what we are, compared with what we have the power to become, should give us great spiritual hope. Think of it this way. There are some very serene, blue lakes on this planet situated in cavities that once were red, belching volcanoes. Likewise, there are beautiful, green, tropical mountains formed from ancient, hot extrusions. The parallel transformation of humans is much more remarkable than all of that--much more beautiful and much more everlasting!

So it is, amid the vastness of His creations, God's shaping personalness is felt in the details of our lives--not only in the details of the galaxies and molecules but, much more importantly, in the details of our own lives. Somehow... God is providing these individual tutorials for us while, at the same time, He is overseeing cosmic funerals and births--as one earth passes away, so another is born. It is marvelous that He would attend to us so personally in the midst of those cosmic duties.

Are we willing, however, to be significantly remodeled, even by His loving hands?


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Never the same again

This past week has been one of the most difficult of my life. Without going into details, I was asked to do something that I could never have done had I not had an undeniable confirmation in my heart that somehow it was the right thing. And even with that, it has been excruciating and nearly unbearable. But I have promised Heavenly Father that I would be willing to do anything He asked, to become what He wanted me to become. But in the throes of this week's events, I found myself saying to Him in painful desperation, "Heavenly Father, if I do this, I will never be the same again."

Swift came the loving reply: "No, Ann, you never will."

In that moment, I realized and remembered what our lives are truly about...growth and progression. If I truly want to change and become what I was meant to become, I can never be the same again. So I will strive to trust Him and His kindness, and look forward to the new person that I will hopefully become by going through such a difficult experience.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Light Rail

Saturday we had a great day together as a family! We had a fun adventure of riding the light rail downtown to see where Daddy works. It was a great time. :)

Going across the walkway:



Waiting happily for the train:



(The baby was zonked most of the day, which is why she's not in too many pictures:)



On our way!






It wouldn't be Colorado without the buffalo...