Sunday, March 04, 2012
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Unfortunately, I didn't get out a Christmas card this year, and I really regretted it. I even have all of the envelopes addressed, so I suppose they will be ready to go this December. A few technical difficulties caused a delay, and I couldn't quite put it together in time. I also will not send out a card without a family letter, so thought maybe I could take to my blog, and make a record of our 2011. It's a been a great year at the Aebi house, and we have much to be grateful for!
Our baby, Sam, isn't really a baby anymore. He turned three in May, and tries his best to keep up with his older brothers, and succeeds most of the time. He learned how to ride a bike with training wheels, flips on the trampoline, and can write his name. He started a Montessori preschool two days a week, and loves it, of course. Sam's favorite food is pretzels and Parmesan cheese (not together), and he prefers his dad to anyone else.
After a year of preschool, Charlie started Kindergarten this Fall! The only thing that makes it tolerable for him is that he gets to go to school with his big brother and ride the bus. Charlie spends hours planning things that he would like to do, movies he wants to make, games and machines that he wants to invent, and places he would like to go. He is always thinking. The training wheels came off of his bike this year, and he officially a speed demon! His favorite food is apples and he usually eats at least three a day.
This was a big year for John! Last year he became a voracious reader, reading pretty much anything that we find for him (Roscoe Riley's Rules is a favorite). In September, he was baptized, and lots of family came out to celebrate. John is a collector of anything -- a lot of which seems like garbage to his mother. He also is a master of origami, and loves to fold boats, boxes and fortune tellers. He spent weeks trying to create the perfect paper airplane. John's favorite food is hamburgers.
Mike continues to work at the CPA firm in our town. He enjoys spending time with his family (many of his siblings and his father live close by), and always looks forward to his birthday fishing trip with his brother, Brad. Speaking of Brad, the big boys and Mike went with Brad to Great Wolf Lodge this Fall, and are already planning a trip back. I don't know who had more fun -- the big boys or the little boys. Mike continued his second job over the summer, painting several houses, and also has begun landscaping our backyard, with the help of a friend.
Amy worked at the boys' school for part of the school year, as a school counselor. She also spent a lot of time writing cover letters and resumes trying to find a permanent job, with no success. If you know of a school that needs a counselor, please let her know! The job market in education isn't the greatest right now. Speaking of school, Amy also had to go back to school to take graduate courses in order to renew her license. While challenging and intimidating, she has really enjoyed the classes she has taken. In August, she went to Maui with friends. It was beautiful and relaxing, and the memories of her trip have sustained her during this wet and cold Winter in Oregon.
(photography by a greenfield photography)
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Monday, October 31, 2011
I had the opportunity to speak at our ward Relief Society Conference yesterday about the Visiting Teaching program. I thought I would share my talk here.
15 ¶So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, aFeed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, aFeed my bsheep.
This is a familiar scripture to many of us. I have read it countless times, but as I have grown older and have more experiences and responsibilities, I feel like I have greater insight into how the Savior was feeling when He spoke these words. This is one of his final visitations to his apostles. He knows that he will no longer be able to have an earthly ministry. He is totally dependent on his friends to continue the work that he began here, because he cannot do it himself anymore. The only thing I can liken it to is if I needed to turn the care of my children over to someone else, how much I would hope that they would continue to love my boys as much as I love them. That they would teach them as I have taught them.
Two years ago, in General Conference, our prophet said, “We are surrounded by those in need of attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, and our kindness. We are the Lord’s hands here upon the Earth, with the mandate to serve and lift His children. He is dependent on each of us.”
Many of us have been called to be visiting teachers. There is truly no other work for us to do, aside from mothering, that more closely models the life and ministry of our Savior. Visiting teaching is an opportunity to feed the Lord’s sheep.
When the Relief Society was first organized only four sisters from each ward were assigned to be on a “visiting committee”. Their charge was to visit every home, assess needs and to collect donations. Can you imagine having to ask for donations? I’m very grateful we no longer are asked to do that. It was Eliza Snow, the second president of the Relief Society, who emphasized a spiritual component to these visits. She also was the one who added Teacher to the title. She said, “I consider the office of teacher a high and holy office. You want to be filled with the Spirit of God, of wisdom, of humility, and of love. A teacher should have so much of the Spirit of the Lord, that as she enters a house, she knows what type of spirit meets her there. You may feel to talk words of comfort, and if you find a sister feeling cold, take her to your heart as you would take a child to your bosom, and warm her up.”
Visiting teaching is not meant to be a checklist of to-dos. Many times, after completing my assignments for the month, I have done some mental fist pumps and given myself high fives, thinking, (yeah, I’m a dork) “Yay! I’m done!!!” Yes, the part that I report is done, but if that is the only reason I do it, I am kind of missing the point.
The program of visiting teaching is not about seeing 100% on the monthly report. The beauty of visiting teaching is seeing lives changed, tears wiped away, testimonies growing, people loved, families strengthened, the hungry fed, burdens lightened, and those who are mourning comforted. In actuality, visiting teaching is never done because we will watch over and strengthen our sisters always.
Doctrine and Covenants 12:8
Not all visiting teaching experiences are wonderful. In fact, sometimes it is downright frustrating! There are sisters who are reluctant to serve as visiting teachers because of bad experiences they have had in the past. I’ve been there. I know it isn’t always easy. We may have a companion that we don’t have a lot in common with. We may visit sisters who have what seems impossible schedules to coordinate with. The sisters we visit may not be that excited for us to come and see them. Sometimes it can take a very, very long time to build a good and trusting relationship with the sisters we serve. But when we truly seek to love, care for, and pray for our sisters, I promise you that the spirit will guide you how to best serve her.
Many years ago, before I was married, I came to a place in my life where I truly wanted nothing to do with the church. I had turned my back on it, and never imagined being a part of it again. At that time, I was living in Portland, and worked someplace where an LDS church spire was visible from my office window. My angry feelings were so strong that my stomach would turn every time I saw it. Somehow, I’m sure because my mother called my local Relief Society President, I started to have some visiting teachers start to contact me. They left me many messages, and it was only because I didn’t have caller ID that they were finally able to catch me on the phone one time. I was too polite to tell them to back off, so I set up an appointment for them to visit me. An appointment where I eventually stood them up. I know I did this for months and months, but they were persistent. Annoyingly so. The month I got married they sent me a card in the mail congratulating me on my marriage. That sweet gesture guilted me into finally having the decency to be home for our scheduled appointment. What sweet sisters they were. They wanted to know all about me. They were not judgmental and didn’t pry. They didn’t burden me with all of the stresses in their own lives. They were down to earth and easy to talk to. They were women that I thought I could be friends with. I will never forget the end of that first visit, when one of them asked to say a prayer, and she then proceeded to pray for me, and it was then that the spirit touched me – the first time that I had felt the spirit in years - and my heart very slowly began to soften. They visited me several more times before I moved into another ward. Those sisters never knew that their tenderness, their influence and loving persistence prompted me to begin church attendance nearly a year later. They will never know that their willingness to serve, changed my life, and the life of my family, forever. Even though I was doing everything I could possibly do to forget about Him, Heavenly Father made sure to let me know that he had not forgotten me, through those sisters he was able to show me that He loved me and numbered me as his own.
Sisters, we are numbered, but are never just a number. We are precious and never forgotten. Every month I submit a list of names to our Stake President. This is the list of the sisters in our ward who were not contacted. Our Stake President doesn’t just want a percentage, he wants to know the names of these sisters, because he knows how important each of us are.
Our Stake Relief Society president has asked us to pray daily for our sisters. To pray for them by name, expressing our gratitude for them, and for blessings for her and for her family. Most importantly we are to ask for inspiration on how to best serve her. I have tried this for the past month, along with writing the names of my visiting teaching sisters on a card that I keep on my refrigerator. Every time I walk by the card, I am reminded of my sisters. I have been in absolute awe of how my efforts to serve have been blessed. I have also noticed that my attitude towards visiting teaching has improved, and I have more fully been able to follow the Savior’s direction to feed His sheep.
We call each other “Sisters”. Isn’t that wonderful!? I know some people have very complicated relationships with their sisters, so I don’t mean to brag, but I have the best sister in the world – only one – and I consider her my very best friend. Unfortunately, she lives 1000 miles away from me, and we can’t be there for each other as we wish we could be. We can talk on the phone, and do nearly every day, but I can’t be there when her husband has surgery, or when she has the stomach flu. She can’t come to my rescue when I really need someone to make dinner for my family, or keep me company when I’m feeling lonely and depressed. Many times I have said, when she has been sick or needed assistance, “I wish that I could be there.” And while I can’t be there, we are so blessed to be surrounded by sisters who can support and uplift us. I often think of my sister, Julia, when I am called on to serve, especially when I feel too busy, like I can’t fit in one more thing. I want to serve others, as I would serve my sister. I want to serve others as I would want others to serve her.
I bare my testimony of the sacredness of this work. I know that I am a daughter of God with a work on this Earth that only I am able to accomplish. I have a testimony of that each of you has your own divine mission. There is a reason that you are here at this time and in this place. I am still learning, but I have faith in my Savior and in my Heavenly Father, knowing that they will bless me as I am obedient to their commandments. I know that a way is always prepared for me to accomplish the tasks that They place before me. I am so grateful for the scriptures, which provide me with daily inspiration and spiritual guidance, and testify to the truthfulness that can be found within their pages.
I say these things in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
You know how much I love Feminist Mormon Housewives -- a lot of things there just really speak to me. Not everything, but a lot of things. Lisa designed this new tree, based on the one going around Facebook. You can go here to read about it. Yes, that meme really, really discouraged and annoyed me, but I'm not smart or creative enough to come up with the amazing parody that she did. I'll see if I can find a link to the original. Oh, here it is.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
We are so lucky to be able to go over to Sunriver every so often to stay in my in-laws log cabin. Because Mike works most days and weekends from late Spring to early Fall, we very rarely get to do anything together as a family during this time. This was our first family vacation (away from home) this year, and we took a long, long weekend right outside of Sunriver. The weather was cool enough to have the woodstove going most of the time, and the cabin was ever so cozy.
We did lazy things, like putting together a 750 piece puzzle, taking naps, relaxing in the hot tub and reading books by the fire. We also did a couple of adventures, going to the Great Obsidian Flow and braving the very bumpy drive up to the Lava Cast Forest and hiking around. The boys love playing ping-pong in the big garage (this was usually my reading time).
As the kids get older, I have found that our lives get easier, in that we can go and do things and it will be more relaxing and less work. It was very hard to leave the cabin, especially since we know we probably won't be back until next Spring. We're already looking forward to it!
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Mike left town on Friday afternoon with the two big boys, leaving me at home by myself for the weekend with Sam. Sam cried, and cried, and cried for at least an hour after they drove away, and didn't want to leave the front porch until they came back. "I wait right here," he sobbed. What a tender age he is at. I consoled him by taking him to the pumpkin patch, and he helped me pick out half-a-dozen green, orange and white plump beauties. I spent the weekend crafting for Autumn, and didn't get nearly as much done as I hoped, but I enjoyed the quieter, slower, and cleaner pace of it just being the two of us around here.
Everyone arrived home safe and sound tonight (I'm so grateful for that), and John and Charlie almost fell asleep in their meatloaf, they were so exhausted from all of the fun they've had these past few days. There is so much truth to the worn phrase "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." There is nothing like being apart to make you want to spend a long time looking at your husband, talking to him, catching up, because I sure do take him for granted most of the time. The house seemed far too quiet after two days away from my wild and crazy boys, that when they flew through the door, I was so ready for them to be home.
I am grateful for all of us together. The chasing and the chaos and the crashing and the fighting and the talking and the snuggling and the loving. I am grateful for my family, because they are mine.
For Charlie's last birthday we decided to get him a guinea pig. He was able to go and pick one out of a litter and then waited for several weeks for it to be big enough to come live at our house. John decided to spend his own money and buy one for himself, and since guinea pigs do better with a companion, we let him. I can never keep track of their names, they changed them so many times, but I think they have settled on Chuck and Larry, although I couldn't tell you which one is Chuck and which one is Larry. John's has grown to nearly twice the size of Charlie's, and is definitely a bully, which I guess is normal for guinea pigs. One will emerge dominant.
A couple of weeks ago, about five minutes after the boys left for school, I went to dump a handful of lettuce into their cage. No one came out of their little house to eat, so I was immediately suspicious. I lifted up the house and only one guinea pig was inside, looking a bit off kilter (don't roll your eyes, but their little faces are quite expressive). Charlie's guinea pig was missing! I didn't even know where to begin to look for him. I called Mike and asked him where the boys had last played with them, as I had been gone the night before. He couldn't remember, but he did know that they had them outside at some point. I went outside searching for bloody remains, but couldn't find any. I came inside and started pulling out furniture and listening for scurrying movements. I cried, knowing that Charlie's heart would be crushed.
Several hours later, while cleaning the kitchen, I noticed a strange cat hanging out in our back yard. Not unusual, as there are about 20 cats that pass through our yard on any given day. But, 20 minutes later, and the cat was still there, staring at our overturned Little Tykes slide. He kept trying to put his paw underneath the slide. I ran outside, thinking I must be crazy to infer so much from a strange cat's behavior, and I lifted up the slide, and there was Charlie's guinea pig, Chuck or Larry, shaking like a leaf! He had survived a night in our back yard, with the cats, raccoons and possums that are our nightly visitors. I brought him inside, plopped him on the cage, and plotted how I was going to scare the crap out of the boys so they would never do it again.
Well, whatever I said didn't work, because that same evening Charlie forgot about his guinea pig again, and, after I screamed at him to bring him inside to his cage, I officially decided that I was not going to worry about the fate of those little piggies. I already have three little boys that I can barely keep safe.