Festival Fiesta Classic Tournament

>> Tuesday, February 19, 2019


Alayna had a BIG 3 day Tournament over the weekend! She also got to have her BFF stay with us and join us on Saturday. 



The tournament was Sat, Sun, & Monday. She had a hard decision to make about if she should play on Sunday or not. We left it up to her and she decided to not play and attend church. She's growing up! 


If there ever was a Daddy's girl..... ;)


Her team played really well on Saturday. Alayna scored several points, got in some great digs, and her sets are looking B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!!! 




Getting ready to serve it up!



That smile lights up a room and she wore it all day! <3 She had a BLAST! 


They won 2 of the 3 matches and went from 40th to 16th in ranking!!

Sunday their team was down 2 players (including her) and they didn't do well at all. I think it was a combination of missing players and being matched up against much higher ranking teams. 

Monday was President's Day and it was single elimination.  They were up against a team with older girls. We don't understand how that is "legal", but it's what her coach told us. Needless to say they were out after their first match. 


  

The good news is that this weekend didn't affect their actual rankings. It was a self-contained tournament. It gave the girls good practice and helped them to see what they are made of. There were teams from all over the US. 

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Papers Sent......

>> Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Walker met with our Stake President, President Layton, on Sunday the 3rd for his Missionary Interview. Everything went well. The interview lasted a long time. Pres. Layton commented on how spiritually mature Walker is and was really impressed by him. <3 

Since Walker's availability date is June 10th he told him to text him on February 10th (the earliest you can submit your papers is 120 days out) and he'd press the submit button and send everything up to Salt Lake. Everything is electronic now. The process for everything is so much faster now. 

Something 'interesting' about Feb. 10th is that I got a notification from FamilySearch  that morning telling me it was my relative's bday. When I logged in to see who it was it was my Great Great Grandma (and Walker's 3 times Great Grandma) Elizabeth Taylor Goodman Merrill's. This is meaningful because it is her husband, Byron Merrill, who was the last person to serve a mission in my family 112 years ago. They both were very devout members. They loved the Gospel and were pioneers whose families settled in St. David, Arizona. 

When Walker was filling out his papers a few weeks ago I looked up who the missionaries were that had served in my family. Byron was the last and I pulled up his picture. As I was looking at a photo of him and his wife my heart flooded with joy, pride, and happiness. It moved me so much I started to cry. It took me by surprise! It was completely unexpected. But as I looked at the two of them, I knew that they know Walker, they are near, and they are so VERY proud of him! 




This pic was taken while he was on his mission. He was called and served in the Central States Mission in 1907. 


This is him in 1909 at the Louisiana Conference. He's on the front row second from the left. 


And to top it all off, Feb. 10th was the day we got to see Pres. Russell M. Nelson here in Arizona. I can't help but feel the Lord is truly aware of Walker and our family right now. <3 


This Missionary stuff is pretty new to us. I mean, 112 years since the last person served in my family and Walker will be the first on Jared's side. We are definitely learning as we go along. We all feel like modern day pioneers that's for sure! 

One advantage we have now is technology. Walker sent us this.....




His response made me laugh and melted my heart! He's not one to get overly excited or even use exclamation points in texts. He was being funny and doing it for his Momma. ( I love myself some emoji's and exclamation points! :P ) He said it took him a long time to type all those! Haha!!! It was the BEST response I could have gotten! 


It's really moving forward. I'm a big ball of mixed up emotions! I "may" have been eating my feelings since he met with the Stake President. LOL! I feel proud, nervous, excited, going to miss him like CRAZY, grateful, in awe, happy, sad, anxious, humbled, eager to hear where he's going, and on and on....

We'll find out in the next couple of weeks! Stay tuned! 






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President Russell M. Nelson's Devotional

>> Monday, February 11, 2019

 We had the most incredible opportunity to see and hear our dear Prophet Russell M. Nelson speak to us along with his sweet wife at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale last night! Love this man of God and his beautiful spirit! He's 94 years young and has more energy and vitality than men half his age! ❤️#followtheprophetaz




About 68,000 Latter Day Saints gathered to hear him. (Picture courtesy of one of the Church's FB pages) 




 (Picture courtesy of one of the Church's FB pages) 


 I snuck this pic of the woman sitting in front of me. She has way better handwriting than I do. LOL! 




Our family has never been in the same building as the Prophet. I was really excited to be there! <3 




From left to right: Kristen M. Oaks, Dallin H. Oaks (1st Counselor in the First Presidency) , Pres. Russell M. Nelson, and Wendy W. Nelson. Each of them spoke. 



Sis. Oaks quoted Jeffery R. Holland saying, "Salvation is not a cheap experience." We must be prepared to walk the path the Savior walked. In our times of trial the Savior will sustain us.  He desires us to come to Him.

She also told of a friend and fellow Latter-day Saint in Chicago who, through her cancer diagnosis and treatment, has taught her the true meaning of relying on Jesus Christ during difficult times.

“When we met, I knew nothing of her condition,” Sister Oaks said. “I only felt the largeness of her soul, her desire to serve the Lord, and her great gratitude to Him for the gift of life and her family. It was only later as she confided to me her challenges and how the Lord had carried her and protected and comforted her that I realized I was watching the power of the Atonement in action. She was drawing on it, depending on it, and it was sustaining her. In our times of trial as we turn to Christ He will sustain us.”



Noting the many changes the Church has made to policies and procedures over the past year, President Oaks cautioned us to remember that a change of heart is what matters most.

“Change is almost always exciting,” President Oaks said. “The changes we have experienced in our Church meetings and policies should help us, but by themselves they won’t get our members to where our Heavenly Father wants us to be. The changes that make a difference to our position on the covenant path are not changes in Church policies or practices, but the changes we make in our own desires and actions.”

And then he quoted one of my very favorite Apostles, Neil A. Maxwell, "Some people would rather change the church than themselves."

And he gave a summation of the last 2 General Conferences where Pres. Nelson gave us all challenges, instituted changes, and gave us Divine direction for our lives. 


Sister Nelson's talk was my favorite. 

With Valentine’s Day only a few days away, Sister Nelson spoke of how that day can be both great and terrible — great for those who have someone to love, terrible for those suffering in loneliness.

“Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want us to feel the love They have for each of us. And the Savior says to you and to me, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments,’” Sister Nelson said. “What a wonderful Valentine gift we can give to our Heavenly Father and to our Savior — as we humble ourselves and open our hearts to receive Their love and as we keep the Lord’s commandments with ever increasing exactness.”

She also spoke about what it's like to be the wife of the Prophet.  She bore testimony of her husband as the “living prophet of God on Earth.” She went on to share spiritual experiences and  described the many times she said her husband has been awoken during the night because he is receiving a message from God. Even when she's really tired and doesn't want to get up she'll be prompted to do so so that he can receive revelation from Heavenly Father. But she joked and said her time isn't wasted. She spends it doing family history work so her family (on the other side of the veil) keep her company and are happy! 

It was riveting to hear her give personal witness and insight on what it's like being married and the help-meet to the Prophet of God. Her role is critical to his ability to serve the Lord and His people. Her faith and testimony must be just as firm and holy. It touched me deeply. 


President Nelson began his speech with a joke, "as the one on our high school football team who sat on the bench during most games, I must say this is an amazing sight — to be with you in a football stadium filled to the rafters."


"Nelson then delved into a story about he and his wife, Wendy, visiting one of her young cousins two weeks ago. The cousin, whom he gave the pseudonym 'Robert,' is a Brigham Young University student who had just returned from a mission trip when he had a skiing accident that left him with a fractured spine, split sternum, broken ribs and no feeling in his legs.

"Nelson said family and friends fasted and prayed that God would heal Robert from his wounds, but said that they found comfort in knowing that 'Robert is of Abraham.' . . .

"Nelson said God’s 'miracle' of giving Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac, even though they were considered too old to have children, could comfort Robert’s family as they prayed for a miracle with Robert’s recovery. He cited numerous other of God’s miracles to Abraham and the blessings that are available to all of us through the Abrahamic Covenant, and stated that so long as followers are true to their covenants, they would 'have access to the power of God to do the seemingly impossible in our lives.'"



This was from Pres. Nelson's FaceBook Page: 

Russell M Nelson
February 10 at 8:06 AM · 
Because I will be visiting and speaking with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and friends of other faiths in Arizona today, I received an invitation from the Arizona Republic to share some thoughts with their readership. I am always grateful for an opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings.

I wrote that for the last 35 years I have traveled the world, meeting with millions of men and women in more than 130 countries. I’ve witnessed the effects of poverty and wealth, seen the impact of education and the lack thereof, met the high in station and the humblest of souls, and been gratified by humanitarian outreach from so many who care deeply about the human condition—including the Church I now have the privilege of leading.

But the most profound thing I’ve witnessed is the unrivaled difference that belief in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, has in a person’s life. There is simply nothing to compare with the refining, ennobling strength and meaning that come into the life of a devoted believer and servant.

The Savior has the capacity to heal you from sin and sadness, from despair and heartache. I have felt this personally again and again.

I am including a link to the article here and invite you to read it if you would like. As you do, I encourage you to consider sharing how making God the center of your lives has filled your own heart with hope.



Last night was a blessing to be apart of! Sister Oaks even commented how there are 14 Apostles of the Lord on Earth today and 2 of them were there that night. We must be a very special people. I must agree! :P What a privilege it was! 

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Hazzah!!

>> Saturday, February 9, 2019


It's that time of year again! Time for the Renaissance Festival! 


Last year we got rained out. It was freezing and soggy. The kids loved it. Me...not so much! LOL! This year was forecast to be 65 and mostly cloudy. It was pleasant most of the day. Toward the evening it was pretty cold though. We were all shivering! But it beats the alternative. It's "usually" really hot...I don't know why it's been so cold these past 2 years? 


Alayna brought her friend Morgan and they both wanted henna tattoos. We've never done them before and it seemed like fun! 


Walker liked these mice guys. LOL! 


She's pretty pleased with her dragon! 



Morgan got a sun. It turned out cool! 


Eli brought his friend Brynne. The very first thing I do when we get there is buy the biggest bag of "King's Nuts" and munch away! :P I do share...eventually! See they got a few. :P 


These girls are animal lovers. We had to stop every place there were animals. 


The guys decided to check out a knife shop in the meantime. 


We caught a few shows ....and a photo-bomber....

I don't have any pics of this show but it was called, "The Wyld Men". It was sort of like watching your two best friends put on an act as they made it up as they went along. It had some funny parts for sure but it also left you wondering what did you just watch. Hahaha!!! 


That's better! :) 


I could watch this guy make pottery all day. He was so informative and watching the wheel spin and spin was mezmorizing! 


When the henna dries it peels off and the it stains the skin. This it what you are left with. It's supposed to last for about 2 weeks. The girls are also showing of their Yin & Yang (at least that's what they call them) Friendship Bracelets they purchased at the Fair. 


 Alayna is pretty tall. But Morgan is also pretty short. It's funny that they are only a few weeks apart in age! 


My boys don't really like taking pics but I was able to get one with BOTH of them that day! Mom win!!! <3 
  

I got myself a big 'ol turkey leg. 


Everyone else opted for the spinach artichoke bread bowls. 


We caught another show. They don't really give you a description of the shows in the map. This one was called "Cirque du Sewer- the acrobat with rats and cats!" But when we looked at the map all I remember reading was acrobat rats. In my head I was thinking it was just a bunch of kids acrobats. But when we got there it literally was rats and cats! They did little stunts...eventually...they both were a little less cooperative than you'd like. LOL! I mean....cats never like to do what you tell them to! 


Walker had to work unfortunately...he left us shortly after. We were glad he could come spend most of the day with us though. <3 


Then it was off to the Pirates Assault Catapult! The girls love this ride! Alayna even got brave this year and tried some back flips! 



Then the girls spent about an hour at Mother and Father Goose! I wasn't' kidding when I said they loved animals! I was surprised they didn't get kicked out they were there so long! Hahaha! 



While the girls were there we went to watch Zilch the Torysteller. This guy was fast and would tell stories and switch the first letter around at the beginning of each word. Eli and Jared loved him! 

I went for a stroll looking for more treats. I needed something warm and I was glad when I found some hot chocolate! And possibly a funnel cake to go with it! ;)


We ended the day with the joust! 

  


Last year we sat down to watch it and the skies opened and dumped water on us and they cancelled the show. This year we really wanted to watch it. We got our chance. However, our guys lost. :( Bummer! LOL! 


We had a fun day! I'm grateful for these memories we are able to make with our family! I love them to pieces!!! 

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