Sunday, May 6, 2018

Benson's Baptism and Confirmation

So, Benson turned 8 last week and had been anxiously awaiting the 5th of May (yesterday) when he was scheduled to be baptized and confirmed a member of the church. I was honored and proud to be able to baptize and confirm him. It is was such a wonderful experience for both me and him. He was a little nervous at the beginning, but a little coaxing and he was calm as can be.

Grandma Cox gave a beautiful talk on baptism and then came the ordinance. He made it under on the first try so we didn't have to do it again. After we dried off and changed, we went back into the room where Nana and Papa gave a wonderful talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

After the talk, I had the blessing to Confirm Benson. It was an incredible experience for me. Although I try not to, I often find myself thinking ahead of what I'm going to say. This was a neat experience because I almost started in with some things I had planned, but at the very last split second I felt a strong feeling to say something else. Highlights of the blessing that I remember follow:

  • Benson is blessed with a cheerful and peaceful disposition
  • Blessed with kind heart toward others and he will bless the lives of those around him
  • Blessed with a desire to know truth and seek it out. As he does this, he will strengthen those around him.
  • Reminded him that he is always surrounded with so many people who love him and encouraged him to remember that during difficult times that may seem overwhelming.
I sure love my Benson! He is such a special personality in our family. He is our true peace-maker.  Love you, Bens!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Jacob 6:5

In my personal study I was in the book of Jacob reading chapter 6 and came across a little gem, just a small phrase that I hadn’t previously noted in any study of the scriptures previously. Immediately preceding Jacob 6 is Zenos great allegory of the tame and wild olive trees which Jacob recounts in chapter 5.

There is a lot to Jacob 5. It is an allegory about the house of Israel over the expanse of the world’s history and its future. As we read there is a lot of minutiae in Jacob 5. Plucking, digging, grafting, sending servants, etc But I think the point of Jacob 5 is to show the house of Israel, all of us, that the Lord doesn’t give up on his people. On his children. He “stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long” (Jacob 6:4) Or, in the context of the allegory, ALL THE WORLD LONG.

In Jacob 6:5 after the allegory, Jacob is explaining a bit about what he has just taught in Jacob 5 and here, his explanation is the little gem that caught my attention.

Jacob 6:5 “cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you”

In this sense of course the word cleave means to stick fast to or to adhere strongly to. We are all making efforts to cleave unto God. In our lives we try to keep the commandments, study the scriptures, attend the temple and follow the example of the Savior to cleave unto God, to stay close to Him. But sometimes we may forget that our Heavenly Father is also cleaving unto us.

We know that God our Father is a God of justice, but he is also a God of mercy. He stands in perfect unison with the Savior in declarations such as:
Behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39).
Learn of me and listen to my words, walk in the meekness of my spirit and you shall have peace in me (D&C 19:23).
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Begotten Son (John 3:16)

In our most recent general conference, Elder Taylor gave a talk called “Am I a Child of God?” and in it he quoted Brigham Young saying:
When you … see our Father, you will see a being with whom you have long been acquainted, and he will receive you into his arms, and you will be ready to fall into his embrace and kiss him.

We love him because he first loved us. (John 4:19)

He is our father. That is the title that He chooses for us to use in prayer and in reference to Him. He is our Father, a perfect Father with perfect love.

“Cleave unto God as He cleaveth unto you.”

I have a 9 year old boy and an 8 year old boy and as I was putting them to bed last night they were talking about eternity and what happens after this life. My older son said, with real fear in his voice, “But mom, what if I don’t make it? I’m scared.” And as I thought through my response, I was grateful to be able to teach them what Jacob had taught me.

I told them, "I’m not afraid and you don’t have to be afraid either. We are not perfect but Heavenly Father loves us and has a perfect plan for us. He knew we wouldn’t be perfect, so He sent a perfect Son to help us and save us. As long as we continue to do our best and repent when we don’t, it will be ok. Heavenly Father loves you and He will do and has done everything possible to hold on to you."

I know as we Cleave unto God we can feel incredible peace and love because He is already cleaving unto us.

Monday, April 16, 2018

To SGCS after the St George Choral Festival 2018

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for all you invested to perform on Saturday night. As always, there were many sacrifices each member made to stand together on that stage. Members left campgrounds, birthday parties and many other important and worth-while actitivies and people to participate in, as Dr Wiens said on the radio, "high Art". 

I am always humbled, grateful and filled by my association with each of you and the WONDERFUL opportunity we have to regularly sing spectacular, challenging, meaningful, time-tested music under a director of unparalleled caliber. 

Following our performance on Saturday, Dr. Nancy Allred who headed up the choral festival, runs the piano department at DSU and directs the Heritage Choir, said our performance was "outstanding and remarkable". She never uses those words lightly.

In the hallway following our performance I happened to pass one of my voice students who attends Snow Canyon high as her choir was on their way toward the stage. She grabbed me and gave me a big hug. She said, "That was seriously amazing. It was so beautiful! I cried and so did my friend next to me because it was just so beautiful. It was incredible."

I was honestly very surprised at her response to the Britten. I thought it would lose some of our audience. But for those high school students, it spoke. Our performance on Saturday let them hear and experience a piece they would not have heard otherwise. The power of Britten's incredible work as performed by each of you was a penetrating musical experience for some of the youngest members of our audience. 
I am profoundly grateful for each of you. We would not be as strong without each member and all they contribute. Thank you for risking, investing, and sharing in St George Chamber Singers.

With Gratitude,


Hi Rachel,

I didn’t get a chance to tell you after the funeral today how beautiful you sounded during your solo.  Your singing was breathtaking.  My eyes welled again with tears towards the end just like during our practice.  I felt the spirit so strongly.  You have an amazing gift.  I hope you use it often to lift those around you. 

Thank you again for the wonderful opportunity to play for you.  It was an honor!

Ann Marie

Monday, April 9, 2018

Priesthood FHE

Tonight for FHE we were having a lesson about the Aaronic priesthood and its offices. BJ was asking Benson to explain the duties of the different Aaronic priesthood offices.

BJ: "So, Benson, at age 12, what do priesthood holders do?"

Benson: "They pass out."

Benson: "Well, you know, they pass out...the food."

I've never heard of passing the sacrament described in quite that way but every Sunday from now on I'll be anxiously waiting for the Deacons to pass out.

Aunt Kathy's Funeral

Today, at the request of my Grandpa Robertson, I sang at my great aunt Kathy's funeral. It was an honor to be asked to sing. It always is. Singing at funerals always feels like a sacred experience. The spirit is always very present, almost tangible. Today was no exception.

I was asked to sing one of Kathy's favorite songs, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". I sang the piece as an encore at my graduate recital--it has always been a favorite.

I was first on the program, even before the invocation which was very unusual. As I began singing, I had a powerful impression that these are the words Kathy would sing, were she able to do so. I felt I was giving voice to her feelings. It's a feeling I've experienced before as I've sung at other funerals but it surprises and almost overwhelms me every time. I feel such a strong realization that our spirits live on and still love those who have been left behind. It is a feeling of deep love, peace, and desire for those who survive to listen. It is a sacred experience.

Though I've always loved Somewhere Over the Rainbow, I've never thought of it in this context. But, it actually served as the perfect song for this occasion. Uncle Kevin Halliday said I sounded like an angel and asked that I sing the same song at his funeral. I think I'd like someone to sing it at mine.

I honestly never know what to say when people compliment my singing. It never feels like I've done much except try to earnestly follow the spirit and give voice to the feelings in my heart. It is always such a joy to me to sing that I feel I should be thanking the listeners.

Mom's comment following the service was, "It must be so wonderful to be able to give a service like that (refering to my singing)." It was an interesting remark because I often feel like I don't give enough service. I'm sure I don't. I could do so much better. But it made me grateful that today I could do something unique to give voice to a remarkable woman and comfort her family in a special way.

Kathy's brother, Uncle David, spoke following my song. He said with some emotion that listening to the song reminded him of memories he hadn't thought of in years. David said he thought his sister was the most beautiful girl. When Kathy was still living at home their mother would play the piano and Kathy would stand next to her and sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". He found great joy in reliving that memory, sparked by a song.

Just before I stood to sing, the bishop conducting explained that 25 years ago Kathy and Max were driving and Somewhere Over the Rainbow came on the radio. Kathy turned to Max and made him promise that he would have it performed at her funeral. My song was fulfillment of that promise made long ago.

I couldn't look much at Max, Kathy's husband during the song. He sat right in front of me on the front row. Though I knew the song was largely for him, his weeping during the song, the alternating joy and sorrow it brought him, made it heart-breaking to look for long. However, as I sang the last phrase, "If happy little blue birds fly beyond the rainbow, why or why can't I?" I was able to look right into his eyes. He smiled through his tears and mouthed, "thank you". Following the service he told me twice that the music meant so much to him. "I'll never forget it," he said.

Neither will I.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bedtime with the Boys

As Rachel has been helping at St. George Musical Theater with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I've been able to be with the kids to bed a fair amount.

We have a pretty specific routine with all the kids. Potty and Brush teeth; Read a book or two (or a chapter of a bigger bookfor the boys); and, finally, singing a few songs. As there has been just me to get the kids down some nights, I have recruited the boys to help me put Kate to bed.

Tonight, I told the boys we could read an extra chapter if they would put Kate to bed completely. I wasn't sure how that would go, so I kept a keen eye on them throughout the process. The bedtime routine went something like this:

-McKay changed Kate's Diaper (I inspected and he did a pretty good job!)
-Benson read her two books
-McKay fixed a bottle for her
-(I sneaked in and ensured her teeth were brushed and that she was dressed warm enough)
-When Benson was done, I went in to sing her a couple songs, but she requested Benson to sing to her. (I loved that!)
-Benson sang Bye-O-Bye to her while I sang to Lily in her bed.
-Benson came in to let me know that Kate was requesting me again.
-Benson took my place and sang a song to Lily (I loved this even more because he and Lily sometimes don't get along so well...)

Way to go Boys! I was so proud of them tonight. :)

Of course, the boys got ready for bed and I read them an extra chapter... or two :)

Love my little family!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Primary Program 2017

Today was our ward Primary Program. For the first time, three out of our four kiddos were up on the stand in the program. People always say, "time goes by so fast" but I'm beginning to realize how true that is. McKay will turn 10 this school year and only has one more year of elementary school after this. Though this phase of life is full of chaos and exhaustion, I know it is the best time of life and the part I'll miss the most when it's through.

Anyway, our kids did a great job, each delivered their parts well. Lily was on the front row in her pretty pink and white lace and tulle dress. Her long blond hair had even waves through it from the french braid she'd slept in. She charmed the congregation with her smiles, waves, and enthusiastic singing. Several members commented on how impressed they were that she knew all the words to each song. She spent the rest of the day singing her favorite song, "Miracles" to Nana, Papa, and anyone else who would listen. For me the highlight of the song was the lyric which talks about Jesus healing the leper. Lily's version, "With His hands he healed the leopard."

Benson stood straight and tall at each song and gave it his best. He was very well-behaved and looked like a little man in his dark pants, white shirt and blue striped tie. He is a bright spot in our family. Always quick to smile and apologize, sensitive to others feelings and happy to help. I can see his testimony developing as he answers thoughtfully during family scripture study and in church. He was a great example today during the program and I was so proud of him.

McKay also did well and looked so handsome in his white shirt and blue tie. He too sang well and delivered his part nicely. He did have a brief stint where he and the boy next to him seemed to be having a contest as to who could get the paper with their part written on it to stick to their forehead for the longest but, luckily, it was short-lived.