Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mammoth Anniversary

In our faith, we don't believe that marriage is "till death do you part", but we believe that marriage is a sacred covenant that can last after this life, and that families can be united for eternity. So to help remind us of the covenants we made in the temple, we enjoy a tradition of going to a new temple every year to symbolically renew our commitment to each other, and to have a much needed getaway!

There are currently 128 operating temples in the world, and 17 others that have been announced or are under construction. So we certainly won't run out of temples to choose from! Part of the tradition we've established is to surprise each other with the temple we visit and also the accomodations. So this year, it was Mr. Wonderful's turn to surprise me... and SURPRISE me he did! We've been to temples in Washington, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Illinois. So this year, I had absolutely no clue where he was going to take me. He had me convinced we were flying somewhere, but just as we were about to take the exit to the airport, he abruptly swerved to the other lane and kept driving south all the way down to... Nashville, Tennessee! Here are some pictures of our adventures from our annual getaway. THANK YOU again, Nana and Grand-papa for taking care of the kiddos!!!
First stop... Grand Ole Opry Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes! It was really an amazing show. I especially enjoyed the last scene called, The Living Nativity. They played traditional Christmas Carols and ended the performance with the Hallelujah Chorus. It was absolutely stunning and I was thrilled that after such a glitzy and secular show, they actually emphasized the reason for the season.
Then Mr. Wonderful took me to a gorgeous place called Brentwood Bed and Breakfast outside of Nashville. It was a nice surprise because usually when we travel we'll stay in the cheapest motel we can find. So it was a real treat to splurge and enjoy a special night together.

Check out this romantic room, complete with sparkling cider, flowers, and cookies. I highly recommend this charming place!

Then to the best and most sacred part of the trip. It was so special to be together in the temple and reflect on the last 6 years we've shared together so far. To think about all the love, all our triumphs, all our mistakes, and to plan ahead for the future we hope to create together.
And the final stop- On our way home, we had the opportunity to explore this AMAZING National Park in Kentucky to complete one of my goals from my list of 100 life goals.

This is Jon feeling apprehensive about entering "Fat Man's Misery"... a section of the cave that was especially cramped (ha ha!)

This park was even more incredible than I had imagined. It's the largest cave in the world, featuring over 350 miles of caverns with fascinating geological formations throughout. We were able to go on the "Historical Tour" through one of the caves. It was really an eye-opening experience. The tour guide took us to one of the lowest points in the cave and turned off all the lights and had everyone turn off their flashlights/cell phones, etc. so we could experience true and complete darkness. He said our eyes would never adjust down there, because there was simply NO light. It was pretty terrifying.

Later on, it hit me that on the very same day, we had gone from what I believe to be the lightest place on earth in the temple (where enlightenment and personal revelation come so freely)... to the darkest place on earth. I started pondering about the meaning of light and I developed a greater appreciation of our Savior, Jesus Christ through this experience. I truly believe that He is the LIGHT of the world. He is the one who gives us enlightenment and hope. He is the one who illuminates our path in this life through His teachings and perfect example. I am grateful for His sacrifice... that he decended below all things, and suffered all things, so that He could know how to succor His people in their trials and afflictions. During this season of light and celebration, I testify that He is truly the light and the life of the world.

(Yes, that's a bow on my butt. What was I thinking??)

Thank you, Mr. Wonderful for this amazing experience. I love you... forever!

Happy Anniversary!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Writing the Wrongs

"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass."
-Alma 37:6

I used to have a real problem when I would watch or read about world events. It was so depressing to get a constant feed through the media of all the negativity and hear about all the horrific things that happen in this world. There were times that it would practically ruin my day! I would feel such hopelessness and despair and I didn't understand why bad things would happen to good people... especially to innocent children. But I realized that my fretting about things that were completely out of my control was purposeless. It only caused me to feel discouraged and depressed thus making me less effective in my most important roles as a wife and mother.

So I was thrilled when I stumbled across this blog that inspired me to take a few minutes each day to do a few small and simple things to help someone in need. I have recently started as a contributor for this blog writing about causes that I feel passionate about. Check out my first post called "To Strengthen the Family" (And feel free to join us!) It's so empowering to feel that we can choose to take initiative. We can choose to stand together to DO something. It may be small and simple, but when done with genuine love and compassion, each one of us can be a powerful influence for good in this world.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa Baby

Merry Christmas! The following is my very favorite Christmas Carol "What Sweeter Music" by John Rutter. :) I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and that we all retain the beautiful spirit of this season in our hearts throughout the upcoming year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pictures behind the scenes

I was hoping to get a nice picture of the kiddos in front of our new tree tonight. It wasn't the best timing because they were all over-tired, but I was determined to get a good one. What an ordeal! I'm frequently posting cute pictures of the kids, and it must look like they're complete angels because they're always smiling so sweetly. So I thought I'd post a few throw-away pics, before I post the single decent one. Because let's get real... getting a good picture of kids these ages is nearly impossible!

So here are a few photo mishaps... (or should we say, reality!)

Umm... I don't think so.

Nope. Uh-uh.
No way!

So after soliciting a little help from Daddy (he's much more amusing than me) we finally got a cute one! So now it's bedtime... for ALL of us!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A little bit of news...

No, we're not prego again... we're moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin! (But not until this summer). Jon will be finished with his Masters Degree in May, so we'll probably move toward the end of June. He has accepted a wonderful job offer as an Actuary, and we're really thrilled about this career opportunity. We've prayed about this decision, and although it's bittersweet, we've received a definite confirmation that it's right for us. Isn't it wonderful when the answer comes so strongly, that there is no hesitation?
We have LOVED living in Ohio. We've made so many wonderful friends here, and we will miss everyone terribly, but all I can say is, thank goodness for blogs!! So now begins the ordeal of moving. We have a lot more stuff (and 3 more kids) than we had last time we moved, so I'm a little worried. And it's probably the worst time in the history of real estate to sell, but although it seems extremely overwhelming now, I just need to have faith that everything will work out. I guess that's the comfort of knowing you're making the right choice. Since I know we're supposed to go, I know Heavenly Father will provide a way for it all to happen. Here's a wonderful article that has helped remind me to trust in the Lord.

So to celebrate our decision, we had to take turns parading around in our Cheese hat. (Don't ask me where we got that!?) When we decided to move to Texas, we donned cowboy hats and ran around the house "yee-hawing" everywhere... so we had to carry on the tradition. :)
Milwaukee is a really beautiful area. It's very safe, and it's located right off of Lake Michigan! So I'm looking forward to a trip to the beach this summer! Woohoo!


We have a special tradition of cutting down our Christmas tree every year. It's a fun family trip, and nothing brings the Christmas spirit into the home like the smell of a fresh pine tree. It's a little more expensive than having an artificial tree, but we hope the fun memories will make it worth it! We go to the same place every year, a quaint little family-owned business in town. They're always really friendly and best of all, they set a bonfire and serve hot chocolate to all their customers. The first year we did this, we went searching for the perfect tree. We have a vaulted ceiling in our living room (my very favorite part about our home) so we figured we should get our money's worth and find a huge tree... just cause we could. ;) But after searching all over the tree farm, our frame of reference was a little skewed, and we didn't realize how big our chosen tree was... until we got it home!! Check out this tree?! What were we thinking?

To give you some idea of how tall it was, Mr. Wonderful is 6'5"! But the picture hardly does it justice... it seriously took up over half the living room! I remember when we first brought it in the house, we just busted up laughing! We could barely squeeze it through the door and when we finally did, we had to trim to top to make it fit.
So that was interesting... but this year we opted for a more reasonably sized tree. :)

It's so amazing to me that we've lived in Ohio for over 4 years now! This picture was from 3 years ago, when we disovered the local tree farm. This was Daddy and Benny then...

This is Daddy and Benny now... (yes, that's my son is wearing a pink hat. ;))

My, how our family has grown since then!

Yes, that's my son holding the saw... (but it had a cover over the blade) I can't believe how fast these little ones are growing up!! My baby is almost 1! AHH! I guess that means it's time for another one. ;)

On the way home, Jon asked me if I'd like to start a tree farm someday. After thinking about it, I don't think so. I specialize in growing children... not trees.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Remember Your Worth!

I am happier now than I have ever been. My life is far from perfect, and I definitely have "those days", but I carry an inner peace almost constantly now that used to be a fleeting experience for me. I've been pondering recently about what happened to help bring about this change. What was it that made the difference? And I came to the realization that I'm finally starting to understand who I am. I don't have the insecurities I once had that held me back from true happiness. I used to worry a lot about what other people thought about me. I think part of that came from my heavy involvement in musical theatre growing up. In many ways it was a great blessing, but one negative result I think was that my self esteem took a hit every time I faced rejection (which happened a lot!). But as I've matured spiritually, the basic truth that I am God's own child finally sunk in and I found true joy. This is a principle that we are taught in our church from early childhood. But somehow, all those years growing up, it never REALLY sunk into my heart.

There is one line in a book, "6 Events" by Stephen R. Covey that really resonated with me and helped me come to this awareness... "My sense of self-worth is simply not based on other people's perceptions of me." It's such a simple but powerful thought. It's so liberating to know that other people's judgements of me have absolutely no bearing on my worth. So instead of being preoccupied with measuring up to other's expectations, or comparing myself with others, I can focus my energies on becoming who God intended me to be. I mean- praise and compliments are nice, but they don't mean as much now. I'm more concerned with what God knows about me, which is the depth of my heart, other than what other people think about me- which is superficial and constantly fluctuates.

I believe our security in life should be based on the fact that we are God's children. Each of us. We are not simply his creation, but we literally one generation away from Deity. The wonder of it!! I'm still sensitive, and aware of people's judgements, but now my sense of worth isn't as affected every time I get rejected or criticized. Also, there is no need to compare or compete with anyone else because I realize we ALL have divine worth and potential that is far beyond any human measurement.

I taught this principle in a lesson to the young women at church once, and used a powerful object lesson. This object lesson was not my idea, I found it online on sugardoodle.net. So I held up a $100 bill and said, "Who would like this $100 bill?" Of course all their hands went up. I passed it around the room, and they all oohed and awed, and when it got back to me I proceeded to crumple it up in my hand. Then I asked, "Who still wants it?" And all their hands went up. Then I said, "Ok, well, what if I do this? And I dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with my shoe. I picked it up again, it was all dirty and crumpled and I asked again, "Who still wants it?" Still their hands went up. So I said, "You girls have learned an important lesson... no matter what I did to this $100 bill, you still wanted it because it didn't decrease in value. It was still worth $100.
Sometimes in our lives we are dropped, and we feel dirty and crumpled by the mistakes we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or will happen, no matter what anyone says or does to you, you will never lose your value in your Heavenly Father's eyes. To Him you are priceless. Then we went on to talk about their divine nature, and at the end of the lesson I passed around these handouts... (in case you were wondering... the bill was fake ;))

Remember your worth!

The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we are but by WHOSE we are!
We never lose our worth!
“All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

I think teenagers especially need us to affirm them of their divine potential. It's such a tough age, especially these days with all the false messages about their worth that they're bombarded with- DAILY. The world would have them believe that their worth is conditional- based on their looks, wealth, popularity, or other worldly standard. And they're so impressionable to those messages because they're developing their own identity and independence. So they need us to teach that they are unconditionally precious in His sight. Our little children need it too. They need to see our faces light up when they come into the room, and they need us to believe in them... especially when they don't deserve it.

So this understanding has been such a blessing in my life, but the best part about this change wasn't so much about the awareness I had about myself, but that I began to see everyone else in a new light. When I accepted this truth about myself, I could recognize and fully appreciate that everyone else is God's own child too... unique and precious to him, with a distinct and important mission to perform on this earth. I feel a greater love for everyone I meet, even strangers. And I have a greater desire to help people because I see them for who they really are. I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel so blessed to have been taught these truths from a young age, and I hope to instill them in my own children. Hopefully it won't take them over 20 years to begin to actually "get it!"

Celeste and Benny 1/07

I am a child of God, and He has sent me here, has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me walk beside me, help me find the way. Teach me all that I should do to live with Him someday (boom boom). ;)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Legacy of Love

Now that my first couple Turbo Kick classes are out of the way, and that "Young Women in Excellence" is over, I finally have a little time to breathe and post a few things! Here are some pics from Thanksgiving. It was so wonderful to spend time (and eat!) with our loved ones that we don't see nearly as often as we would like. There is simply nothing in this life that makes me happier than to be with my family! The kids "helped" me make 9 pies the day before Thanksgiving and we had a blast baking for an entire day! There was only one drawback...

My cherry pie and my little sweetie pie...

A tender moment with Aunt Gina... the best hostess ever!

A fun moment with Nana! It was so nice to be able to have some unstructured time to just enjoy being together.

I feel especially grateful this year for the musical legacy that my Grandpa and Grandma Moore left for their posterity. They instilled a love and a passion for music in each of their children. My uncle Jim, my aunt Terri, and my mom all went on to get doctorates in vocal performance and theatre and sing professionally, and my aunt Linda has a deep love and talent for music as well. My parents met and fell in love while performing in the musical, Brigadoon. My 2 brothers and a couple of my cousins are also studying music and they're all extremely talented. So music has always been an integral part of our holiday celebration. Lifting our voices together in praise and thanksgiving creates such a beautiful spirit of unity and love among us. Sometimes it just hits me of what a privilege is to have been born into this family of musicians! I have such cherished memories of performing with my family throughout my childhood and singing together around the piano every year. I hope to carry-on the Moore/Sasnett musical legacy and help pass it down to the next generation.

We have a tradition of giving a concert to sing thankful praises to the Lord through both spiritual and secular holiday music. So here we are in Erie, PA for the 2008 concert... this is everyone except the Browns, Briana, Daniel and the rest of the Jardines. We sure missed you guys!!! I felt that it went well. Surely, Grandpa and Grandma Moore would have been pleased! If you click on the title of this post, it will take you to a website that features the tracks of our concert. You can click on the files to download the songs if you'd like to listen. I highly recommend checking out Track 8... Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head (a beautiful trio sung by my brothers and my cousin Justin).

What a trip! We stayed up way too late playing board games... another fun tradition, so we were all wiped out by the time we drove home! What a wonderful time to be together and give thanks for the blessings in our lives and especially for the gift of music.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Reason for the Season

I overheard Charity playing in the playroom with baby Jakey today. She was pretending to be Mary and she designated Jakey as the baby Jesus.

I've been pretty caught up with some of the secular Christmas stuff lately (gifts, cookies, cards, etc...) so it was a sweet moment that caused me to pause and reflect.

I sure love this little one. It's amazing how kids can help remind us of what this beautiful season is all about.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Binky

It doesn't take much to amuse us around here! Baby Jakey just got a new binky, and it was the absolute highlight of our evening!

Then the "kids" got a hold of it and decided to make funny faces!


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