Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Day in the Life of Greg and Nancy

 It's a pretty day in Rexburg.  I will download pictures and Nancy will fill in the narrative.  I just want to say that Nancy had her cancer surgery one year ago today.  Happy Anniversary!  We are grateful for the every day things every day.  We are more deeply in love than ever.

Hello, now it's Nancy writing. Greg has to go to a meeting, so I've been assigned the blog this week. I hope I can make it interesting. We are aware that our blogs have been kind of lame lately, and it's not because Greg doesn't try. We just always forget to take pictures and haven't really done too much lately that's been picture worthy. Well, today that's gonna change!

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day that we just had to get out in it. First, we slept in though, all the way till 7:00! I love sleeping as long as I want to! Greg had a haircut at 8:40 so we decided that we would walk to it. One of the things I love about Rexburg is that just about everything is within walking distance from where we live. It takes more time to do it so we usually don't, but when the weather gets nice we just can't help ourselves. So, bright and early we started out.

We had a couple of other things to do too, so the first stop we made was to the post office to return a Netflix movie. I'm currently into a BBC tv series that everyone would make fun of me for watching, but I am loving it. I'm going to be getting the last 2 shows this week and I'll be sad to say good-bye to those characters. 

Notice the empty parking lot. Except for an occasional student walking by, we were pretty much alone on this whole walk.

From there we walked one block over to the barber shop so Greg could get his haircut. His barber (I can't remember if it's Kenny or Larry, though I know he told me) fit him in early before he took off for Utah. He and Greg have been together for a long time and it's because of him that Greg knows all the town gossip.

While Greg was getting his haircut, I walked across the street and down to Community Care. I went there first one month ago today with a bad cold. It was right before I left to go to Logan's house and I wanted to be healthy while I was there. I got medicine that cleared me up, but my ear was stuffy and plugged up even after I'd taken it all. I went back and got more once I was home and my ear cleared up, but my runny nose came back and I could feel my ear filling up again. Aaagh! So, this time I just went and talked to a nurse. She went and got the dr. to give me the strong stuff and I didn't have to pay to actually see him. So now I'm finally on the mend!

I thought for sure that Greg would be about done with his haircut by the time I left Community Care, but he wasn't. I walked around for awhile and looked in all the closed up shops. Rexburg was still not awake yet and the streets were deserted, making it feel even more like a sleepy little town. Florence drove by on her way to her candy store which is around the corner from the barber. She stopped and sang, "Standing on the corner" to me (because I was standing on the corner) and invited me to her shop for Easter goodies. I told her we'd be there, but it took Greg so long to come out that I totally forgot! Anyway, there was a bench directly facing the sun outside of the barber shop so I sat on it and closed my eyes and soaked up the sun. I realized that I am in school from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and I never get any sun. It felt so good to sit there and feel it. It was still pretty chilly, but I could just feel the vitamin D soaking into my poor deprived cells and I loved it! Greg finally came out after 30 minutes! Don't ever tell me that women talk too long!
So, then we started walking home with a detour to Walgreens to return a movie we had rented the night before. Greg wanted to walk to Broulim's and pick up my prescription, but as pretty as it was outside, it was still cold and I'd been sitting in it long enough that I wanted to go home. My nose was running and I needed kleenex! So we went home.

We hadn't been home long when Greg came in and said, "Let's go to Jackson Hole for lunch!" So, off we went. It was a beautiful day to be driving and there were lots of skiers at the top of the pass that were skiing down to the valley. We were suprised once we got there how few people were out. Usually when we go there are lots of tourists everywhere, but it felt almost deserted compared to that.
We got a great parking spot and just walked all around the town square, stopping in art galleries and little shops. I kept thinking that we have to take Matt there when he comes next time (if that ever happens). It's very much a western town and there were galleries of beautiful art work and sculptures of  cowboys and horses and cows, and all things western. He would love it! We also saw some beautiful leather work in clothing stores, some bathroom sinks made out of whole polished rocks, and I bought some chocolate gold coins for my kindergartners for St. Patrick's day in a fun candy store. It had every candy you could ever want in big old fashioned barrels.
Here is a picture of me by the town square. You can see the ski resort in the background.
Greg on the streets of Jackson Hole. You can't see them, but there are actually lots of skiers on that hill behind him.
We finally worked up an appetite so we went to our favorite little restaurant there, The Bunnery. Last time we came we had a long wait just to get inside, but this time we walked right in. It pays to wait for the lunch rush to leave.
You can't really see them, but there was some cool photographs on the walls behind Greg. On the wall opposite me was one of a cougar that was coming out of some rocks and it stared at me all through lunch. It was beautiful!
I guess Greg took a picture of the little cover thing they put the bill in. The food was so good! Best Philly steak sandwich I've ever had (even though Greg was the one that ordered it) and turtle cheesecake for dessert. Yum! I should've taken pictures.
Of course, you can't go to Jackson without getting some pictures in front of the antler arches.
This was the last thing we did before heading home. As fun as it was, my cold was wiping me out and I was so tired! What fun though to just randomly decide to go somewhere that people fly to from all over the world and be there within an hour and a half. I know Dick Cheney always goes there to fly fish and last summer the whole cast and crew of a popular tv show went there to tape a show. It was fun to just get out of town and feel carefree!
We came home and kind of crashed. What a great day. I think we needed that. But we finally had to get up and go to the store or we wouldn't have anything to eat this week. There's me going into Walmart and you can see Greg's shadow taking the picture on the far left.
                                                               Are we exciting, or what?
You people who have super Walmarts in your town don't know how lucky you are! We always start at Walmart because they're cheaper, but then we have to go to Broulim's to get the meat and produce. 
They have just done a major remodeling job there and one of their new features is homemade tortillas. They always have sample and they're sooo good. Soft and sometimes even warm. I could eat them plain all day!
Well, now we have come to the end of our thrilling day. I don't blame you if you've quit reading long ago, but at least you can't say we didn't try to make this a little more interesting than it usually is. As boring as this may sound to others, we really love our lives and are mostly happy just because we get to be together. Life is truly great!

Greg mentioned that today is my one year anniversary of my surgery. I think back on that time and remember so well the feelings I had then. I was reading some of the blogs that our kids wrote during that time and it made me so grateful that we had that experience. I felt like it brought us closer as a family as we prayed and fasted and joined our faith together. I think the Lord gives us hard experiences
sometimes and, depending on how we handle them, they can be great reference points in our lives. They show us that we can survive the hard times, that we care about each other, and mostly that the Lord is very aware of us and will always be there for us. The next time we have trials we can look back on that time and say, "We got through that and now we'll get through this." I wouldn't trade away one day of that whole experience.

Greg is now talking again: You can stop reading now if you want to.  The following is the talk I gave in church this week.  It includes the story about the Snow Hole rapid experience from our family reunion a few years ago.

The scripture themes I have chosen for this talk is Philip 4:13  “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”  And the phrase in Ether 12:27 where it says “. . . My grace is sufficient . . .”

The bible dictionary says “grace is a word that occurs frequently in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul.  The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.”  It goes on to say,

It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life.  It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance . . . This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.”  (Bible dictionary page 697).

Visit to Logan’s house.  They just had a new little baby girl named Maren.  There are a lot of things she can’t do for herself.  Eat, change diapers, get dressed, bath herself, etc.  Her mom and others did these things for her.  She’s pretty good at crying and letting us know when she was hungry or unhappy, but we had to take it from there.  Her two year old twin brother and sister can do more, but they still need help getting their food ready, going on walks, and getting their hair braided or combed, and tying their shoes.  They can climb to the top of their new bunk bed, but getting down is another story.  They either fall off, or call for help.  Then their four year old daughter is able to do more, but she still needs help with her hair, reading books, and making her bed. 

In all these cases, the kids do as much as they can, but then the parents or others have to step in and help.  Because they are loved, this is no problem.  We all love to help them when necessary.  Especially when we know they are doing all they can to help themselves.  As a matter of fact, sometimes they do things for themselves that maybe they shouldn’t.  Like cut their own hair.

Life in the gospel is a little the same.  In 2nd Nephi 25:23 it says “. . . For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” Clearly, because of his bounteous mercy and love, Heavenly Father will help us when we have done all we can do.  This implies we must do something.

Back to the scissors.

To gain eternal life, we need both grace and works. A Christian author, C. S. Lewis, compared grace and works to the blades of a pair of scissors. Both are necessary. To ask “Are you saved by grace or works?” is like asking “Do you cut with this blade or that one?”

Some years ago, President David O. McKay (1873–1970) related a story which illustrates the relationship between works and grace. He told of a group of boys who were learning to swim when one fell into a treacherous hole in the stream. The boy would have drowned but for a quick-thinking companion who extended a branch to him and helped pull him to shore.

“There are those who claim that no one will sink and be lost if he will look to Jesus on the shore and say, ‘I believe.’ There are others who declare that every one must by his own efforts swim to the shore or be lost forever. The real truth is that both of these extreme views are incorrect. Christ redeemed all men from death which was brought upon them through no act of theirs, but He will not save men from their personal transgressions who will put forth no effort themselves, any more than the young rescuer on the river bank could have saved the drowning lad if the latter had not seized the means provided him. Neither can man save himself without accepting the means provided by Christ for man’s salvation.” 
Elder Gene R. Cook says:  “We receive God’s grace because of the Atonement. We can’t raise ourselves from the dead, so the Resurrection is an example of His grace. We can’t purify ourselves from sin, so the Lord’s forgiveness is another example of grace. But before He will forgive us, we must repent—that’s our part, our works.

Besides repentance, our works also include receiving ordinances, keeping covenants, and serving others. While these works are necessary for salvation, they aren’t sufficient. They are not enough because we can’t live perfect lives, but we can do our best to live righteously. By doing so, we invite the Lord’s grace into our lives and qualify for the gift of salvation.”
I think sometimes, life is a little like running a river.  

I grew up in a family that did a lot of white water rafting and kayaking.  About 9 years ago we had a family reunion in which we ran the Salmon River from Riggins Idaho to the confluence of the Snake River at the bottom of Hell’s canyon and down to Lewiston Idaho.  It was a multi day trip.
We had several rafts and kayaks.  My wife Nancy and I were in one boat with three other family members, one of which was my daughter Allison.  Because of my experience and the people in my boat, who were not risk takers, we were considered the “safe boat.”

On the second or third day of the trip we came upon a big, potentially dangerous rapid called Snow Hole.  My five year old nephew affectionately known as Cubby, was scared and wanted to go in the safe boat,. . so he came over.  

We did our best to be safe.  We scouted the rapid and chose our line to follow.  To make a long story short, there was only one safe line to follow and missing it would be disastrous.  Luckily, hitting the safe line would be very easy to do.  

Other boats went before us, easily hitting the safe line, and then pulled out at the bottom of the rapid to wait for us.  Many of the cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who had already successfully run the rapid, climbed cliffs so they could watch and cheer Cubby as he slid safely through the rapid.  A sweeper boat went behind us in case we needed help.  

We started down the river, and we didn’t pull across as hard as we should have.  Of all the boats to miss the line, I missed it.  Caught off guard by my mistake (please note it was a mistake and not a sin) the sweeper boat swept past us waiving and shouting as they slid down the safe channel.  

To the dismay of the observers on the cliffs, we were in the worst possible condition.  I sarcastically thought to myself, “great safe boat”.  I’ll never hear the end of this.

I had to be calm so Cubby and others in the boat wouldn’t panic.  I shouted above the roar of water assuring my safety conscious crew that we were having a great time and that this was the funnest thing ever.  In my mind, however, I was really worried, and thinking of possible worse case scenarios and solutions.  Nancy looked at me with knowing eyes.  We were totally out of control, and in grave danger.

The powerful current slammed us into a bus size boulder in the middle of the rapid.  I had visions of the boat flipping and my crew being swallowed and churned up in the watery meat grinder below.  To spin right off the rock could take us into the deep “Snow hole” with it’s recycling current that could hold us captive.  Not good, but doable.  To spin left off the rock would be the end of life as we knew it as we would have to swim through a meat grinding rock garden.  We did all we could do and “high sided”, a river term your good bishop can explain to you, but we really had no say in which direction we would spin, or if we would flip, which was still very probable.  

We were essentially at the justice and mercy of the river.  Cubby was cheering in the boat as, in his mind, we were in the safe boat and having a great time.  We flopped around for what seemed an eternity.  I’m sure that many prayers were thought by those who were watching and knew what could happen, and certainly by me.  Then, the boat slowly spun off the right side of the rock and around the hole at the bottom.  

We were saved and safe. 

There is no reason that we should have been saved, or that Nancy, Allsion, Cubby, me, or anyone else who was in that boat should be here.  But we are.  I flippantly told those who questioned my ability that I just wanted an exciting ride and had planned the whole adventure.  However, many believed I was the luckiest man in the world.  In reality, I choose to believe it was because of the grace of God.  

I like to think that, Cubby, now 14 year old Caleb, will grow up to do many good things in his life.  And likewise with the rest of us who were in the boat.

Sometimes, we scout ahead and plan our route through life carefully.  We choose a safe line to follow, but things don’t always go as we planned and we experience turbulence. Sometimes that turbulence slams us into different kinds of boulders.  

Perhaps we lose a loved one, or a child rejects us, or a parent abuses us, or we don’t get married, or we feel hurt and lonely.    Then we pray, and by the grace of God we are saved over and over again.

Perhaps we are struggling with our church callings, but we pray and we try.  By grace we are justified even if we aren’t perfect and we can do our most important callings as mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters . . . and our secondary callings as bishops, scoutmasters, Sunday school and primary teachers, Young Women leaders, home and visiting teachers and any other calling we may be asked to serve in every day.  

Sometimes it may seem that things are “out of control” in our personal lives and in our homes, but if we are doing our best to live righteously, by following the prophets council to do the works of daily family prayer, daily scripture study, Family Home Evenings, paying our tithes and offerings, and serving others . . . then through grace, everything will work out in the end.  Always according to the Lord’s will and timing.

And we and our families will be both safe, and saved.

Grace does not just “kick in” at the end of our lives for the resurrection and judgment; it is for every day of our lives.

In his book, “The Gathering of Zion, The Story of the Mormon Trail”, Wallace Stegner quotes from a young pioneer girl’s journal from 1856.  Her name was Patience Loader, and she wrote:

 “It seemed the Lord fitted the back for the burden.  Every day we realized that the hand of God was over us and that he made good his promises unto us day by day . . . . We know that his promises never fail and this we proved day by day.  We knew that we had not strength of our own to perform such hardships if our heavenly Father had not helped us . . . “  (From “The Gathering of Zion, The Story of the Mormon Trail” by Wallace Stegner, pg. 3).

I hope we will always remember that grace, the divine means of help and strength given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ is available to us every day.  And that we can be safe and saved on a daily basis through that grace . . . even after all we can do.

I love what we are taught in Matthew 11:28-30

 28 ¶Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 29 Take my yoke  upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

May we all recognize and appreciate the grace that is part of our daily lives.  May we be grateful and acknowledge in our prayers how blessed we are to know that “. . . his grace is sufficient . . .”  (Ether 12:27) and that  “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” (Philip 4:13) 

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