Monday, July 21, 2014


Lin  Floyd wrote a blog post recently about overcoming fear about writing your family history, that was an experience shared with parents.  My parents are now dead but I still tend to the needs of my godparents.  Last week, as we were driving, Patsy told me this wonderful story and I was always going to record it on my blog but really wanted to connect it to Lin.

Patsy was in the 6th grade. She had a very good friend, Margaret Pirchner, whose uncle owned The Alphine Village which is near where our current Playhouse Square is located in Cleveland.  Back then all the theaters were movie theaters.  Margaret's dad, Otto, worked with his brother.

Here's her Uncle Herman (who lived to be 101) carrying 56 mugs of beer.

But back to the story.  Patsy and her family were on Welfare.  Margaret and her family obviously were not. One day Margaret asked if she could come and visit Patsy in Patsy's home after school one day.  Patsy was delighted.  The day arrived and both girls walked home together. But when they got home, Patsy's mom, my great aunt Florida (Florrie as we called her) needed a few things from the grocery store.  Patsy was mortified and scared to take her friend with her to the store.

Back in that era, if you were on Welfare, you did your shopping and then went up to the clerk, gave her your name.  The store kept your family's information on a card and they'd pull the card, write down your purchases and amount and you'd be off.  Patsy KNEW that Margaret's family did not have to go through this and she was afraid she'd lose a friend when Margaret found out how poor they were.  Patsy tried everything to get out of going to the store for her mom but she says her mom was pretty strict about such things, bordering on being mean and stern.

So off the two girls went.  Patsy selected the things on her mom's list, with dread walked up to the clerk, gave the name, card was pulled and notated, and they left....not having to pay a thing.

As they walked home, Margaret said to Patsy..."That was just wonderful!  You get to go to a neighborhood store where they know your name and you don't have to pay a penny.  When my mom goes shopping she has to pay for our food with cash."

Patsy was so relieved that Margaret would continue to be her friend (and did so throughout their school years) and never had to tell Margaret that her family was on welfare.  When Patsy told me this story last week, she wondered if Margaret really was that innocent or was she that kind.  But the fear was replaced with joy and rejoicing.

The added fun part that Patsy tossed in, as almost an aside to no one in the car but herself, was that my grandmother, Florrie's younger sister, was always the fun one.  "Your grandmother was always so much fun and it was wonderful visiting Auntie Gladys and playing and being loved by her."

 That's how we knew my grandmother to be til her dying day.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


My mom loved angels and years ago I bought her a garden angel which she put in the front yard.  You must remember that she lived in this house, which is on Lake easy road to snatch and run with anything that's out front. She and Bonpapa lost quite a few things til they figured if they really wanted to keep something they needed to put it in the back.  Mom was heartbroken that the angel was gone.

I knew where I had bought the first angel, at a continue garage sale home in the Village.  I went back and asked the man if he by any chance had another...and luckily he did.  I bought it and one night late, let myself in to their backyard and set up the angel so that when my mom looked out her kitchen window in the morning she'd see 'her' angel had returned.  And that's just want happened.  She was so pleased to have 'her' angel back in the yard, looking out for her.  Of course she knew I had replaced it but it was still wonderful for her.

Time passed.  Cancer took its toll and my mom died. Then Bonpapa. We moved up here. Robert's not a big fan of the angel but I insisted she stay.  Tonight, at about dusk he had returned from a Stake Priesthood Leadership meeting and standing at the kitchen window he saw a sight and called me to see.  He said my mom's angel was glowing, to come look.  I did. It was.  I snapped a picture that doesn't do it justice.  But she was glowing with just enough of the setting sun illuminating her.  Robert then said, 'and your mom is still watching over us.'  I hope he's right.  I miss her!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Destiny Class

Odd moment...I was asked to teach one of the Destiny classes for Girls Camp this year.  I really thought I was too old to be asked for this venue but I agreed.  )My friends in and out of church laughed when they tried to picture me in the out of doors) When they gave me the theme (all Seuss books) AND my assigned book, The Cat in the Hat...well, frankly I was quite worried. This is not a book I have ever liked.  I don't even remember reading it to my kids altho I might have.  I set about to figure out how to present this and then, clear as a bell, the answer was right in front of me.  I had to teach this class 3 times on Wednesday morning (July 16).  And oddly, actually enjoyed it.  Hopefully the girls did as well.

Today, Jocelyn called from her Christensen Family Reunion/Vacation in Utah (aka Stepfordville), and she asked how it went.  I had told her about it and she gave me some bullet points of what this story told her, some of which I was able to use in the class.  Then she asked me to send her the class. But I don't write everything out.  I only ever have the briefest of notes.  I don't or can't bear to listen to anyone who just READS their talks so why would I expect someone to listen to me read.  Always felt that way. But Jocelyn said she wanted a copy.  This afternoon as I was making bread (Nila Eddington's bread which is always better when Nila makes it!), I attempted to assemble some sort of remembrance.  When it was all done, I figured I might as well post it here, in case I ever need it again.  Or perhaps when I might need to remind myself that I can do something like this again. Despite my age. Despite the venue.  And always I am grateful that the Lord puts things smack dab in front of me when I need an example.  Always!

Welcome to this day’s Destiny Class.  Honestly I was at first surprised at the book I was assigned because it’s never been a book I’ve liked.  I’ve gone so far as to say I hated this book and its message.  You are all familiar with Ted Geisel’s style of writing…great to learn words that rhyme, add the rhythm and then the repetition and you have the perfect book for children. 

Sister Stencil (your stake leader, you all know her?) told me I could ask to switch with someone else but I actually like to talk about things I feel so firmly about.  So today’s Destiny class is Dr. Seuss (properly pronounced with a Z and rhyming with voice…ZOICE…now you’ve at least learned one new thing today) is from his Cat in the Hat book.   As I prepared for today I took another look at this book and altho I don’t like it any better I see that it is a reflection of life and the realities we must all deal with.  So let’s begin….
Do any of you watch a TV program called Perception?  I am always amazed at how the Lord seems to send me into directions which I have an assignment like this, and gives me more info.  In this show, Daniel is a college professor with some mental health issues. But on this day, he has greeted his students with a pop quiz.  He passes out the test booklet and the camera pans the class and the students flip through the pages.  But the last page, the camera shows us, has the answer sheet attached in everyone’s booklet.  The students are looking at each other and as a viewer you can guess what each one is thinking. But only one girl raises her hand and tells Daniel that there must be some mistake…that he’s included the answers.  AHA! Daniel says.  It’s no mistake.  I did it on purpose. 

From the next part I learned that fixed into our brains that Heavenly Father has given us (since He’s given us our wonderful bodies) is something called A COGNITIVE CONTROL MECHANISM.  This thing stops us from cheating.  There is something we know as IMPULSE and something else we know as SELF-CONTROL…and these two things together is called TEMPTATION.   When we exercise self control, we end up with stronger relationships, great success at work and at school, and better mental health.

(Now remember this today.  I never answer my own question so when I ask, I’m really expecting an answer).  SO…If it is better to resist temptation why do we always find it SO easy to give in?  Discussion.

Temptation is a huge thing!  CS Lewis, who is always being quoted by our church leaders altho he was not LDS, told us that we can only find the strength of a wind by walking against it, not by lying down.  So that is in part what I hope you learn to do today and every future today.

The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat I the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.
I sat there with Sally,
We sat there, we two.
And I said, “How I wish
We had something to do.”
Too wet to go out
And too cold to play ball.
So we sat in the house,
We did nothing at all.
So all we could do was to
Sit!  Sit!  Sit! Sit!
And we did not like it.
Not one little bit.

Here’s the first big piece of information we need.  Be careful of how you use your alone time.  Have you ever noticed that when you are alone, doing nothing , that somehow you seem to get into more trouble, more difficulty?  My daughter commented to me (when I asked her about her thoughts on this book) this:  Temptation will find you at home when you are alone, guard against it.  And that’s pretty good advice.  This is not to say that every time you are alone I am saying you should be reading your scriptures or watching LDS videos. I AM saying that you need to keep finding things to do, to create, to work on, to keep busy.  Discussion

And then
Something went BUMP!
How that bump made us jump!
We looked!
Then we saw him step in on the mat!
We looked!~
And we saw him!
The Cat in the Hat!
And he said to us,
“Why do you sit there like that?”
“I know it is wet
And the sun is not sunny
But we can have
Lots of good fun that is funny!
I know some good games we could play…
 “I know some new tricks…
A lot of good  tricks.
I will show them to you.
Your mother will not mind at all if I do?
Then Sally and I
Did not know what to say.
Our mother was out of the house
For the day.”

And here we are…two kids alone, bored, doing nothing but staring out the window and no parent home.  But remember this: When Temptation knocks don’t answer the door.

Let’s discuss the War in Heaven.  Who can repeat the story?  Discussion and development of the story from what the girls might have left out.
In our premortal life, Lucifer had a grand position.  Does anyone know what his name meant?  It meant Light Bringer, or Light Carrier. But when he fell he became Satan.  In the Hebrew Satan means ADVERSARY.  So we learn a lot about this brother of ours.

So what did Satan promise? That no soul would be lost.
Did he love you enough to die for you?

But if all of us were there, and we all perfectly understood the Father’s plan, then why did some of those people , one third of the host of heaven we are told but 1/3 is only a way the Hebrews would express a vast quantity.  It’s not literal…so why did 1/3 of the host choose to follow Satan?

And again…do you see that is it EASY to cheat, to take the easy way.

So Satan promised us a fun life, promised us we could ALL return to Father.  He promised us bodies.  But how could he give us bodies when he didn’t have one himself? Whose body would he give his followers?  He could only give them OUR bodies when we give them the power to do so by choosing wrongly.  For all intents and purposes Satan and his legion are SQUATTERS.    I know about squatters.  We sold our home to a young couple who have since left the house and honest to goodness squatters live there. They don’t pay rent, they don’t pay for utilities.  And Satan and his legion are doing the same when you follow him.

Who remembers the story of the poor man during Christ’s time on earth, who was being besieged by evil spirits?  Discussion.  When Christ casts out the evil spirits, out from the man’s body, the spirits of those evil people went into a herd of swine and then where did they go?  Over the cliff!  ANOTHER THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT SATAN’S NAME AND HIS MISSION IS THAT HE IS THE DESTROYER!

James E. Faust:  Being acted upon means somebody else is pulling the strings.  As in a puppet. Show a marionette, pull the strings.  Watch out for people who try and pull your strings against the Lord’s wishes. Satan wants everyone to pull your strings, EXCEPT YOU!

Our First Presidency has said that Satan works under a perfect disguise and few recognize him.  It’s your job to start to recognize the things that come to you…if they be good or evil.
 But our fish said, “No! No!
Make that cat go away!
Tell that Cat in the Hat
You do NOT want to play.
He should not be here.
He should not be about,
He should not be here
When your mother is out!”

“Now! Now! Have no fear.
Have no fear!” said the cat.
“My tricks are not bad”
Said the Cat in the Hat.
“Why, we can have
Lots of good fun, if you wish,
With a game that I cal
Up-Up-Up with a fish.”

Show the pictures.  See how the cat is balancing the fish on the umbrella. Then he’s holding a book on his finger all the while balancing on a ball.

Who has ever tried to roll or sit on one of those large exercise ball?  How steady is that?  How many have fallen off that ball?

Satan’s kingdom is like that. That is not  a true foundation. 

Has any of your friends ever told you, “EVERYONE DOES IT…IF IT FEELS GOOD, OR LOOKS FUN THEN IT’S OK!"

Who knows that the word entice means?  Discussion.  The word entice means to lure.  How many have ever gone fishing?  Why do you bait the hook … (bait the fishing hook with a gummy worm).  Yes, if you’ve ever played fishing on a Wii, you know you gently move the pole back and forth til you feel a tug on the controller and hear a slight hum which tells you it’s time to pull out the rod with the fish for points.  But why don’t you want to go after this gummy worm? It is, after all, just a piece of candy?  Because it’s attached to the hook that has sharp points on it to entice and then ensnare the fish.  Some fish can get away but very few do.  Once hooked they become dinner.  That hook, small as it is, dangling from a nearly invisible line, is pretty powerful and is just like Satan is when we give him power.

Remove the gummy worm and attach a $20 bill to the hook.  Is this more tempting that a piece of candy?  Discussion of money and its uses, overtime, skipping church to work.

(Put the pole away)  But you aren’t just being tempted by one worm, or one $20.  (Take out the hat on which has been hung all the things that tempt us …money, gold, jewelry, music, DVDs, anything that glitters, skimpy clothes, a cigarette ad, etc…..YOU ARE BEING TEMPTED FROM ALL SIDES.


“look at me!
Look at me now! Said the cat.
With a cup and a cake
On the top of my hat!
I can hold up TWO books!
I can hold up the fish!
And a little toy Ship
And some milk on a dish!
I can hop up and down on the ball!
But that is not all

Discuss what each of those objects could represent in your life:  scriptures not read nor heeded, food not good for the body (Who is…lactose intolerate ones, gluton free, pnut allergies…  Why don’t you partake of these?  Discussion…make you ill.  These are your own person Word of Wisdom.  Boat=entertainment
It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how.
I can hold up the cup
And the milk and the cake!
I can hold up these books!
And the fish on the rake!
I can hold the toy ship
And a little toy man!
And look! With my tail
I can hold a red ran!
I can fan with the fan
As I hop on the ball!
But this is not all.
Oh, no.
That is not all.

So what do these new objects represent to you?  Discussion.  Food, beverages, could the rake be work and work ethics?  Little man=your friends.  Fan=leisure.  Still all the while balancing on that unsteady ball

That is what the cat said…
Then he fell on head!
He came down with a bump
From up there on the ball.
And Sally and I,
We saw ALL the things fall.
And that is what happens with Satan.  He will not sustain you nor support you.  How many of you have cats. Do they like to lie next to you, snuggle up to you when they want something?  And when they are done with you, what do they do?  Discussion.  They get up and leave you.

And all the while the fish is pointing out what he’s done and telling him to get out.  And just when we think the Cat is through, he arrives with something else.

But I like to be here.
Oh, I llike it a lot!
Sid the Cat in the Hat
To the fish in the pot.
I will NOT go away.
I do NOT wish to go!
And so, said the Cat in the hat,
So, So, so…
I will show you
Another good game that I know!

And what does he come in with next?  In the big red bos and came he calls Fun In a Box?
Discussion.  Thing one and Thing two.

Then, out of the box
Came Thing Two and Thing One!
And they ran to us fast.
They said, How do you do?
Would you like to shake hands
With Thing One and Thing Two.

Who remembers what the Lord tells us in Doctrine and Covenants about being able to tell the difference between the kinds of spirits?  Discussion  D&C 129:4–7. What Is the Significance of Shaking Hands?  If the messenger is a resurrected personage whose flesh one feels when shaking hands, the messenger is an angel from God. But spirits cannot clasp hands, since they do not have flesh and bones with which to do it. For spirits to pretend to an ability they do not possess would be deceit, and one who would attempt it would not be a “just man.” Therefore, the spirits of just men made perfect will not move when a hand is extended toward them.  If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him. These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.

Now I am pretty sure that you probably won’t have to experience this sort of personal moment but you can apply it to the temptations that come into your life.  Look at the option or choice you need to make.  How does it make you feel?  Where is it leading you to think?  What will the outcome possibly be?  Are there any hangups?  Is there a worry?  Are you left feeling a bit odd, or disquieted?  Does it make you feel filled with joy and willing to share with your parents or your bishop?  This is good advice and one we all need to remember.

You know what happens then. Thing One and Thing Two have made a mess of the house flying a kite, knocking over furniture and pictures, even snagging the mom’s new polka dress.
Suddenly the fish (who by now you know represents the Holy Ghost) looks out the window and sees something that causes him to worry.

Then our fish said, Look! Look!
And our fish shook with fear.
Your mother is on her way home!
Do you hear?
Oh, what will she do to us?
What will she say?
Oh she will not like it
To find us this way!
So, DO something!  Fast! Said the fish.
Do you hear!
I saw her. Your mother!
Your mother is near!
So, as fast as you can,
Think of something to do!
You will have to get rid of
Thing One and Thing Two.

So Sally and her brother catch Thing One and Thing Two with a net but what does the Cat say?

Oh dear! Said the cat
You did not like our game…
Oh dear. What a shame!  What a shame!
What a shame!

The Cat boxes up the two Things and the kids try to figure out how in the world they are going to clean up their home that has been destroyed.  And the Cat, in this story, arrives with a huge machine to make everything right.
BUT KNOW THIS…When it comes to sin you might commit there’s no one else who can clean up the mess with some big machine.  When you need to repent and you WILL need to repent you will need to go through the process and the steps  will  often require great sorrow!  There is only one way to clean up our mistakes totally and that’s repenting as best as we can and then taking advantage of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Discussion.  Satan will tell you, Ooops, there’s no hope of forgiveness and will want to you believe you can never be whole again.  Do not listen.  Your shield against him always is the spirit of discernment through the Holy Ghost.  Make use of this gift that you received at your baptism.  There are saving forces you can call upon.  The Covenants you have made at baptism and later in the temple.  The Everlasting principles you learn…and where do you learn them?  YW, FHE, SS.

I’m glad you mentioned SS.  I am sure you have heard about the Stay family who recently was killed by an uncle in Texas.  There were 5 children, 2 parents. But the oldest girl, Cassidy , was only wounded, she didn’t die.  She lay as if dead til her uncle left the house and then she managed to call 9-1-1 and alert the police that the uncle was headed to kill the rest of her family.  Her grandfather related the rest of this saga:  “Cassidy was able to tell us how she did it.  She had learned in Sunday School that God has the power to send angels to protect his children in times of great need.  After she had been shot on Wednesday, she said it felt as though angels were there with her, putting their hands over the mouth and whispering to her to be quiet.  ‘I was quiet when I needed to be quiet.’ she has told us.  We have wondered in the course of the past few days whether those angels might have been her brothers and sisters.”

THIS is why you attend SS and YW and listen to the lessons prepared for you by your faithful teachers as well as parents and other leaders.    They are put there to guide to you.  Always!

Now how does this book end?  By far it is my least favorite page.  Sally and her brother have returned to their chairs, in front of the window watching the rain with the goldfish in his bowl beside them.

Then our mother came in
And she said to us tow, Did you have any fun?
Tell me. What did you do?
And Sally and I did not know
What to say.
Should we tell her
The things that went on there that day?
Shold we tell her about it?
Now, what SHOULD we do?
What would YOU do
If your Mother asked you?

Discussion on need to share with your parents or your leaders or your bishop troubling times or events and get an adult’s advice.

Lastly I passed out the Goldfish necklaces.  We are told to not draw or depict images of the Savior, Heavenly Father or the Holy  Ghost so I’ve chosen to use the fish from this book to remind you.  This necklace is very light and you won’t even notice it hanging around your neck.  But that will be like the Holy Ghost.  Light and close to you as long as you strive to be obedient and not give into temptations.  He will usually NOT yell at you.  His will be a quiet voice.  A steady voice that could shake you to your very core if you will listen.


Sunday, July 06, 2014

Baby Trefethen has arrived


New Baby Trefethen has arrived today. 8 lbs, 12 oz, 20.5" long


Delivered naturally because she was too far along by the time she went to the hospital.  She had called me a bit before 11pm to say the contractions were 3 minutes apart but not hard at all.
Photo: I just made this baby, and I did it naturally bc, things. I don't want to talk about it.
Hank called about 30 minutes later to say her water broke and they were heading to the hospital so I drove there to relieve the neighbor Dave who was waiting for me.  The baby was born about 12:40am...and this is Ken Barlow's birthdate so it's a good memory day.

Photo: This boy is mellow. #coldchillin

Marissa is already teasing about his double chin. Bubba is insisting this IS Winston Churchill, only needing a cigar in his mouth.  His toes make the Victory sign already.

Welcome to the world, wee one.

After naps, we took the boys in to meet their new brother.  Henry was brave from the get go...

Oskar took a bit more convincing. but before we left Lakewood Hospital, Oskar was all about baby's eyes, nose, ears, etc.  Gently stroking him and they both kissed him good bye

Bubba holds his new grandson and so do I.  For being almost a bag of potatoes, this little one is so light.  It's amazing.


Not sure when Marissa will be coming home but I think the boys will be here til Tuesday.  I just hope they can stand being away from their mom/dad.  It's a bit odd for them.  At first it's a party and fun and games but when it sets in that they aren't with their parents, things could turn sour.  Oh, to keep these squirrely boys occupied.

For me, I am just grateful that they live this least for now.  It won't always be thus, I fear...and it hasn't been for the rest of my kids.  But times change.  Robert retires, our time is a bit free-er despite needing to care of my godparents, but boy, we do we feel our age.  This is why God gives the young parents the babes.  We old guys?  We just need to be taken care of. That is obvious...more each day, more each event.  How I wish it could have been this way for all my grands and my daughter/moms.  Big sigh here.  Just hope they all know how much I love them and wish it could have been different.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Independence Day 2014

So hard to imagine my mom's missed 10 birthdays but we remember.  Went to the cemetery to honor both mom and bonpapa.  There was a flag there already.  Not sure who put it there, perhaps the cemetery but I truly doubt that.  Perhaps Paula. Which was very nice.  It's hard to have a party/parade without thinking of mom.  Next time I go I will need to clean and shine the headstone.  Haven't done that since the horrible winter has passed.
Photo: To my folks.  Patriots both as were all my other dads

No parade for us.  No kids here to walk down Warwick.  And M2T2s all enjoyed a breakfast with friends, right along the parade route in Lakewood.Hillary Lovinger's photo. But apparently Oskar so wanted to march IN the parade but was guarded by big brother, Henry.

Robert and I used the morning to visit the cemetery and then on the way home decided to stop at Pettitis Garden Center.  Found a couple of different plants.  2 are tropical and will need to live indoors once the temps reach 50 degrees in September.
 This is some sort of fir but I can't remember what it's called.  this is actually part of the bush we bought for $20.  There was a smaller one for the same price, really small.  We opted for the jam packed one and Robert split it. I hope both halves live.
 This is the other lovely tropical one...Rhoeo Sitara Gold, or Moses in the Cradle.  It's giving the one corner a bright color, different from the luscious green we are experiencing this summer.
 I wanted this Balloon Plant, Platycodon Astra Pink.  Right now it's the balloon shape but will expand and become a lovely starshaped flower.
I've wanted a jade plant for some time but today I found this little one Crassula Jade.  Pretty red along the edges.  I hear that this is easy to care for and being a succulent that is natural.  Now I just need to remember how to care for these things during the winter.

Then we came home and got ready for dinner.  Wasn't sure that M2T2s were coming til late afternoon.  Poor Marissa is so ready to deliver this baby but he seems content to give her grief from the inside while the other 2 keep her busy from the outside.

 Robert never eats his corn on the cob like a normal person...he has always forked it off and has great technique.
 now it seems Hank has joined the fork corn removal. Obviously Oskar knows how to eat corn on the cob!

So we had burgers, brats, dogs, pasta salad, homemade pico de gallo, chips, and all the comestibles.
 I think this is the first dinner that the boys really chowed into.  Usually there's just too much to do and say and see.
 While we waited for the dinner to digest, the 4 boys went to check out a 1954 Jeep that Robert had his eye on.  First think Henry says when he returned was, "it had a flat tire, no steering wheel, no seat."  Hank then added, "no engine, no tranny, no front window (and Robert interjected NO WINDOWS AT ALL TO BOTHER WITH)....and he got them down to $2500."  Yes, well that's not going to happen.

We finished the day eating watermelon, tossing balls, playing games with Henry in the basement.  Marissa took a little nap after the dinner proper and I hope it gets her through the night.

We heard from all the kids and skyped with Jordan and family.  I do so love technology for this purpose.

Happy 4th of July matter what happens in the US or what has occurred, it's important to remember that this is the land of the free, once preserved for our time which means we have huge shoes to fill in being as dedicated to freedom as the founding fathers were.  As Robert and I watched '1776' again this afternoon, we saw the dedication and determination of those men.  I can understand why lately moms are putting their children on buses, usually alone, and point them to America from Central America.  They want something better and safer for their kids, even if it means arriving illegally.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Utah Valley Children's Choir

Yesterday the Utah Valley Children's Choir was to have come and put on a concert for the stake. Actually they did but it had to be altered to tremendous bus problems and scheduling by the drivers to ensure that the drivers get 2 hours breaks, etc.  We spent the afternoon altering the meal we were to provide them and making them into sack lunches that these poor kids didn't get to eat until after they sang. As it was, there was a 'car' of leaders who would drive ahead of the buses, to a hamburger joint and order the burgers.  But often the places would run out of food.  I think the last bus in last night came in without having had food.  Not sure how the planning went so far awry but it did.  Each bus came, the kids filed out and rather than sing in costume they just donned their choir tee shirts and started to sing.  The choir began small but then kept increasing in number and in volume.  The stories and the voices were amazing.  But boy were those kids and the adults thrilled to be getting food and skewers of watermelon afterwards, just before they met with their host families and went off to get a night of sleep.  But the following letter was sent to this choir from another place.  I wanted to save it, and as I do, it gets saved here:

Joshua & Jenise Kotter

June 30, 2014

Utah Valley Children’s Choir

Dear Utah Valley Children’s Choir Members & Leaders:

            Last night my young family and I (with 4 children, ranging from 5 to 13 years old) drove two and a half hours, each way, from Gordon, Nebraska, to see you perform in Rapid City, SD (at our Stake Center).

            Usually, I am not at a loss for words.  You see, I am a hospital CEO (chief executive officer) and an attorney.  My trade and skill is in speaking, writing, and communicating powerfully and effectively.  Despite this…, I am at a loss for words to adequately express to you, what you gave to my family and to me last night.  Regardless, I will attempt in my weakness to share with you.

            Your spirits and the spirit that you brought into that building last night—are among the strongest that we have ever felt!  Given this, you should know that I have been blessed in my life to be intimately connected, at times, with Prophets, Seers, and Revelators (and Especial Witnesses) of the Lord Jesus Christ, even presidents and Prophets of the Church.

As you stood next to my family and me and sang the chords of angels, it felt as though the very power of God thrashed upon us and upon the Earth—rendering it impossible for any to deny the truth of your message, or of the Gospel.  And, though we assume that we know none of you personally—we felt the pure love of Christ from and for each of you.  Personally, I desired to throw my arms around and love every one of you, as I would my own flesh and blood family, you being my Brothers and Sisters.  The love I felt for every one of you was as intimate and intense as the love I feel for my parents, brothers, sister, and blood family.   It was truly a sacred and a Celestial experience that you created and provided!

            You truly are a royal generation, preserved from the foundations of the world, and for thousands of years, to come forth (now) in the Meridian of Time—a period in the world’s history that every prophet has yearned to live in and witness.  Consider Christ’s words to the three Nephites who desired the same as John of old: to remain on the Earth until Christ shall come a second time to the Earth.  To them, Christ stated: “Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall… live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven.”  Consider, you have been and were saved to live in this same time, and to see the doings of God to man, even unto this last dispensation.  If you ever doubt your value, worth, or specialness before Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ—remember this: you were saved for this most special time and place—in order to bring to pass the second most wondrous event in the history of the entire universe (including all of creation), second only to Christ’s successful Atonement and redemption of all mankind, which he accomplished at the end of his Earthly ministry.  This great event, which you are integrally a part of and essential to, is to help create, uphold, and maintain a dispensation (this last dispensation) wherein the Fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will not be perverted, lost, or destroyed—as it has been in every past dispensation of the Earth.  While this means, due to the number of faithful Saints alive on the Earth today, that, in comparison, you may seem or feel unimportant or un-unique—nothing could be farther from the truth!  As you sang, I felt, and the spirit witnessed to me, that each and every one of you are—personally—among the very most valuable, worthwhile, special, unique, powerful, and beloved of all of Heavenly Father’s children, in his immense kingdom, both on Earth, in Heaven, and in all the numberless worlds created by him and Jesus Christ.  Remember, this is the wickedest of all God’s worlds, and the only world where Christ could complete the atonement of mankind—because this is the only world that would kill the Savior of all creation.  So, out of all of creation, and out of all of God’s children—you were sent here, to this Earth, and in this time.  From this, I cannot adequately express or conceive of your worth or importance, other than to say the following: out of the NUMBERLESS worlds, NUMBERLESS creations, and NUMBERLESS children of our Heavenly Father, you are among an immensely small handful of the VERY MOST precious, faithful, honorable, powerful, valuable, unique, and beloved children of God.  I truly marvel at your spirits and at your presences!  I truly feel blessed to simply have lived at the same time as you, and to have been given the opportunity to witness you, in person.

            From the depths of my heart and those of my wife and family—THANK YOU SO MUCH!

            Personally, you have inspired me to complete work in the church and Gospel that I had previously begun, but had become distracted from completing, due to the noise of the world and of life.  This includes answering the call of prophets to help show how The Book of Mormon can more effectively be used to convert those who are prepared, which I am supposed to complete in connection with past general authorities of the church.  Any success that comes from these things, in my mind—will be due to your spirits and the inspiration that you have provided me. Again, thank you!

            More important than this though (to me personally)—I feel that you (last night) were the conduit and catalyst through which I have become fully and completely converted to the gospel.  Though I am a life-long devout member of the church, the conversion that I speak of is more than this.  It is a true change of heart, where one becomes a “new creature,” in which the person (me in this case, due to or through you) desires no more to do any evil and desires to do only good the rest of their life, and to serve God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength.  Because of each of you—I left your concert last night feeling and having experienced this.

Again, THANK YOU!  I do not have more eloquent words to express my gratitude.  For this, I apologize.

We love you!


Brother & Sister Joshua R. Kotter

Monday, June 16, 2014

How we effect others

May I tell you about tonight?  And just have you read it and don't apply any High 5s to me?  Please? I want to blog this for myself and for my kids and grands in YEARS to a reminder to us all.

A man in our community died Friday.  Rather suddenly and basically unexpectedly.  When we first moved here to Paradise, Don and Carol Beedle were active in church but within what seems the shortest of months, they stopped, never to return.  I've been assigned her VT several times. Robert as their HT several times and is currently.  Sometimes we were invited in, mostly not.  But Don was a good man, very generous.  He's the one who came over to 809 to help Robert put plumbing in the basement for the 2 bedrooms and he helped with framing those as well.  He would always tell us he was 'coming back'.  We hoped it would happen but instead he has now 'gone home' and hopefully will see things differently, maybe even clearer.

We waited our turn in line to greet a sitting Carol tonight at the viewing/service at the funeral home.  When I got to her, I sat in the chair next to me.  She took my hand so warmly (which was unusual) and didn't let go (I think that was grief and the need to cling or root herself to someone steady).  She looked at me and then at Robert and said, "Oh Susan, you two are my favorite of all people (pause) in the church."  That made me chuckle inside but I had to ask aloud, "Really??  She said,  Of course. The two of you are always there.  You are always there when we need you.  So I told her we weren't going anywhere, ever.  I think I meant that as much for the gospel as for our own bodies.  It meant the same in any case.  She said, "I'm so glad." 

By the end of the evening we had greeted Charlie (youngest) and Johnny (oldest).  Johnny took one look at me and said, 'You're Susan, right?"  That blew me away.  Johnny was the wild one, the one who got in a lot of trouble.  A LOT OF TROUBLE.  But he was such a looker as a teen.  Now he's straightened out his life, has a wonderful wife and 3 daughters, steady joy, etc.  It was good to see.  I walked up to Lynette (the middle, the one who has been active but is going through a very nasty divorce) and she said, "I remember you so well.  You gave me piano lessons."  I smiled, wondering when I did that and for how long, but told her to take care of herself as well as her mom.

Carol had asked Robert to give the closing prayer and it was the only mention of the Lord, Heavenly Father, The Plan, Faith, Belief and a few other comments throughout the whole night.  Rather sad.  But it made me grateful that I have knowledge of these things in my life and grateful Carol asked Robert to pray.

But there was this other incident I really want to record.   A woman came up to me as I sat in the seats and asked if I remembered her.  Naturally, I had no idea who she was.  Robert and I didn't know anyone at this gathering other than the family.  But I looked at her for some sort of memory prod.  None came. So she said she was Beth Murray and that in 1981 she was a recent convert and we were VT companions.  She was living at the OVI (turns out she is Carol's niece).  She wanted  to tell me that in all these years she vividly remembers me teaching her about VT. That we make our visits to all the sisters whether we want to or not, whether they want us to or not.  That we learn to care for and about the sisters on our lists.  And that I also taught her how to budget.  She remembered that Robert was only paid once a month and that I had learned how to make that one paycheck last through all the bills and the food requirements.  I marveled at that.  I have no recollection of doing this but I do remember those years very vividly.  She has 4 daughters and each one was taught about VT and especially about budgeting the same way I taught her.  3 of these girls are active and married in the temple.  One is currently not active.  But she was grateful for the footing I gave her in the gospel so many years ago and I am now grateful that she and her husband are both still very active in the Gospel and in their Medina ward.  Her husband, Randy, came and sat down by us later and told Robert that Robert had taken him HT several times in those same years.  Robert was as baffled as I was.  We kept looking at these people, trying to find in them some 'young' look that would remind us of those days.

Sunday I had this chat with Br. Hill after SS and he was commenting about how sad he is that he didn't keep a notebook of all the people who had crossed his path through the years, how he remembers so few of them.  And now I really had an experience that taught me what he was feeling.  I guess it's never too late, is it?  To remember by a note in a book many people who influenced my life and my thinking.

It also was a great reminder that what seems the most natural thing to do (VT, HT, budgeting) and to teach another can have incredible affect/effect on people.  Too often we short change what we say and do.  Or we don't even realize the impact we have on people.  Oh, if only all my impacts were positive ones.  I cringe at the negatives ones which I may or may not know about it.  My resolve is strengthened to have more of the +s and less of the -s.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day 2014

Father's Day....I have been blessed to have had quite a few men be my father, stand in for my father, or just be there for me, as in the father of my 5 wonderful kids.  Perhaps I have done this before but I've decided to do this again.  Here's my run down with a few anecdotes: 
My birth father was Henry Sylvester Czekala.  I know he really loved my mom and she really loved him.  I've learned from my grandmother that he loved to untie ladies' aprons and when he got out from the car, he'd just stand at the opened door and stretch a bit before proceeding.  Patsy told me that he was one of the boys who hung around the corners, pitching pennies, and always had on the silky cowboy shirts.  He always wanted to be a cowboy, even taking the nickname of Ace and had sort of an emblem like a brand that he'd draw either instead of his name or beside it.

My mom had told me that each day after work he'd come home, lie down on the floor, pick me up and held me 'standing' on my feet and aske "how much did my little girl grow today".  Sadly he died when I was 4 months old.  My mom repeated this gesture for him as he lay in the casket.  And she repeated his words.  Even now, as I write this I get teary.  Oh how i wish he had lived and I wonder what our lives would have been like.  Would they have been worse or better.

He loved to read so as to improve himself.  He knew he didn't have the education my mom did but didn't allow the lack of funds to get in his way.  He bought sets of classics and read them through so he could learn and having something to discuss with my mom.

Dying of a heart attack at such an early age was always attributed to being in General Patton's tank corps in WWII , sleeping under the tanks in all nasty weather as they marched up through African, up the boot of Italy.  My Uncle Al Etzel told me that after the war my father worked in a horrible factory, with hammers that pounded away all day long.  That probably with a weakened condition from WWII, the added to the stress.

So with the death of my father, my mom and I moved with my grandparents and aunt to Parma and my beloved Poppy became like a dad to me.  My mom worked so I stayed with  my grandmother during the days.  My grandfather allowed me to put pin curls in his hair while we watched American Bandstand with Dick Clark every afternoon. Oddly, I can totally remember this.  My Poppy was a jokester and loved to tease my mom and my aunt when they were young, scaring them and their friends during sleep overs.  He wasn't my mom's birthday father (hers was a horrible man, who beat my grandmother and was quite the drunk.  Gramma would make a bed in a the tub for my mom and the two of them would keep safe behind the locked door.  When my mom was 8, my grandmother decided it was time to get a divorce.  Poppy had loved my grandmother while they were all still young in England and followed her to America.  He knew what the arranged marriage would become because he knew Joseph Morley Thomas.  Luckily, my grandmother and Poppy met again and wed.  He was the best of fathers to my mom and the best grandfather to me!  Oh how I loved him.

When things were difficult with my mom and my first stepfather, Poppy would stroll up Darthworth Dr, which was just a dirt road then as Parma was just beginning to become populated.  He'd tell my grandmother that he was just going to check on the kids...meaning my  mom, my baby sister, and me.  He never stopped in but just walked by the house to see that all was OK.
Not only was he a concert pianist but he also sang opera.  Here he is in one of his performances.  He would play the piano and allow me to stand next to him and sing, Bless this House and Mallott's Lord's Prayer.  When I began piano lessons he coached me and corrected things that my first teacher did not.  I remember my first recital.  Everyone thought I had been playing for such a long time but it was that only because he helped me.  He died in 1960...and I still miss him.

In 1953 my mom married John A Center and the two of them had my sister, Deborah. Daddy was a great provider.  He worked hard but drank and gambled hard too.  How my mom managed to save money, pay bills, keep us all together AND find the true gospel is still a wonderment to me.

Daddy worked at ALCOA, having left a holler in KY to better himself.  He was put in an orphanage during the fall/winters because there wasn't enough money for his mom to feed him. But in the summers he'd come home to work the tobacco fields.  These hillbillies (said not as a's just what they and he called them) would plant enough tobacco to sell to see them through to the next crop and to have enough tobacco for themselves.  And boy did Daddy smoke.  I think he had his first heart attack about 1958, while we vacationed in Canada. It was horrible.  Mom stayed with him in Canada, living with our Canadian relatives while Debi and i returned to live with my grandparents.  But Daddy returned to work and eventually died in 1972, just after Robert and I were married.

Mom said she'd never marry again BUT....

As luck would have it, she found Roger A. Osborne, also a recent widower and they were married in 1976.  Roger was amazing to me and to my kids.  The best thing for my kids, I think was having both grandparents living just down the street.  When their home in Parma had been broken into, things stolen, my mom felt violated and they began a search for a home.  We were surprised they opted for one 8 houses away from us but the insisted that they needed to be closer to us so we could take care of them.  Roger's one local daughter had some beef with them, perhaps it was the marriage or some other issue, but she remained quite aloof for some time.  In the end, I think she and Bonpapa resolved something or just opted to let it go and she would come around now and again.

But Roger was fun and fun loving.  He was good for my mom and if she hadn't have been sor worried about his health and ignored her own, I think she would have found the colon cancer earlier and lived longer.  But I guess we will never know.  It was great to have Roger in our life. The one thing I most remember about him was that altho Robert and I never had much money, he would always remind us that we had all we needed because we had the church, temple covenants, loved each other, and had great kids.

Roger died 4 years to the day after my mom did.  He and I had gone to the cemetery, shopped, eaten at Panera's (which he said was delicious and he asked if we could go again). I dropped him off, setting up his computer so he could do his Home Teaching report and left him to start dinner. But between the two events he suffered a massive brain hemmorrhage. We found him on the family room couch, his slippers still beside him.  It must have happened right after I dropped him off.  Yet he never mentioned having any headache.  How fortunate that such a good man could leave this life as he did.
The one person I've left out of sequence in my Uncle Johnny, my wonderful godfather.  He is married to my mom's first cousin, Patsy. Both of these fine people accepted the responsibility to be godparents, back when godparents really did mean responsibility, not just a title. But they have always taken their duties very seriously.  They have always cared for me and mine and now as they age, it's my blessing to return the honor, and care for them.  At this point, Johnny is going to be 94 in September and is very weak.  I wonder how much longer he will be there for me to love.

Then along comes my wonderful husband, Robert.  He's been the best husband and best father and now I can say the best grandfather (altho only Marissa lives close enough to allow him this much time with her boys....and that too is destined to change since Hank is looking for a job which will take them all far away).

Robert has always been my rock and has been the same for the 5 kids.  He's loved by his daughters, emulated by his son (rather successfully, I add).  Last Friday he submitted his retirement notice and will be out of that dangerous steel mill on August 31.    There are not many men today who last 42 years at any job, let along a mill.  We have always been grateful that he was accepted into he Management Program in 1972 and has remained a manager and employed all these years except for the  8 months the mill was shut down.  Even then he hauled carpets to provide for us.  No job was too menial for him.  He has said that the kind words said to him by this current boss as well as the last boss he had who retired mean more to him than the money ever would have. 

So, yes. I have been blessed with good men in my life.  I provided my children with good men as well.  And today I am grateful.  The few pictures that follow this are pictures from Father's the teepee Bonpapa and my mom bid on in their ward's fundraising auction decades ago.  My kids played in it at their home which is now our home. Then my folks gave us the teepee and it's still being used.  Robert commented on how small it looked as they all crammed in it vs. how large it loomed in his memory.  And I had to agree because it's just what I thought.  But perhaps because this time it was OUTSIDE and not taking up residence in our narrow family room at 809 might make the difference.

Come on in, my little Shiska Beasties! 
 Naturally, Niko had to join the boys...but hey, Niko said, he's my dad too, isn't he?
So tall is our Henry that his head touches the top of the opening.  It was a great fun day for the dads! and their sons.
Robert enjoyed the phone calls and the gifts.  Real homemade ice cream from his strawberries, a book on
Churchill quotes, a huge box of full size candy bars, a wonderful fruit arrangement from Just Edibles, 2 new ties, new hankies, BBW set, and a new boonie hat to keep the sun off his soon to be retired face/neck.

Happy Father's Day to all my fathers and my husband. Thanks for leading me, guiding me, directing me, loving me and for always being there for me.

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