Sunday, November 30, 2014

52 Blessings - The Family Process

Ty met an airman at Fairchild Air Force Base who lives far away from family.  He has only been in the area for a few weeks and has no established friends yet.  He's a devout Christian, but has not yet found a congregation with which he identifies.  In short, he's alone.  Ty told this airman that Calvin and I would love to have him come for Thanksgiving.  He explained that his brother and sister and their families and two cousins would also be at our home so he'd have lots of people with whom to share Thanksgiving.

We made contact with the airman, he got the required approval, and he came - sight unseen - to spend the holiday with us.  During one of the many prayers offered throughout the weekend (we are a praying family that formally prays over meals as well as kneels in family prayer morning and evening), the airman thanked God for "this family that helps me to see what a family is meant to look like."

Calvin and I were humbled by his prayer and have thought about it several times.  We do have a beautiful family, and we also have (and have had) challenges and struggles to keep it in-tact, harmonious, thriving, and growing. A lot of worry, wonder, effort, and miracles go into a family. The airman's prayer quietly reminded me to be grateful for the progress and the process of making a family rather than the worry that we're still so far from perfect.

Today I'm grateful for the role that holidays, celebrations, and wholesome family activities play in growing a family.

Wednesday morning, Ray and Cali's family as well as Ray's sister Tracy arrived from Seattle. While Atlas and Levin stayed home with me the rest of them went to Spokane and look around and to bring Ty's friend home.    

While they were gone, I made pies and par-boiled the sweet potatoes as Thanksgiving music played in the background. Levin brought a bucket of little cars into the kitchen and revved and drove them at my feet while I worked. Knowing that family was on their way home (Abe, Grace, Henry, and niece and nephew Jesse and Cache), and that our family far away had other family to join, it was a serene moment that felt a wee bit like I imagine heaven feels like.  "Over the river and through the wood to grandmother's house we go" was a reality, not a scene from Currier and Ives, and I got to play the role of grandmother.     

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend.  Here are a few pictures documenting it:

Grace and Jesse

Abe and Ray

Thanksgiving Day also happened to be Calvin's birthday.  While he's a full-fledged meat eater, turkey does not even make his list.  Instead, he suggested we have cornish game hens and that each person season their own before he grilled them.  He set up a cupboard in the kitchen with all of the spices and each person prepared theirs according to taste.  Not only were the hens really good, it was a fun activity prepping and comparing flavors.  

While Thanksgiving Dinner tasted really good, it wasn't the only good food of the week:

Abe and Calvin

Henry and Atlas pretty much lived on yogurt and rolls

We celebrated all week with food.  One morning Calvin and Abe fried up lots of homemade bacon and sausage and made omelets to order.  I liked that it was all cooked outside on the grill and greatly minimized the mess.

We also played many games:

Nephew Cache, niece Jesse, Ray's sister Tracy, Cali, and Grace

Ray hobbled Atlas with rubber bands

Henry and Levin

Atlas and Dan

Ray running from one clue to another

Team Artsy-Fartsy trying to figure out their next clue (Cali, Abe, and Jesse)

Jesse, Abe, Cali taking required treasure hunt portrait

We split the 13 of us up into teams for the weekend.  Competitions included rubber-band gun and blow-dart shooting contests, as well as a treasure hunt and charades.  

We not only ate and played, we worked.  Everyone chipped in Friday morning and helped Calvin and me cut, pile, and burn some trees that had blown over in the pasture.  They also hauled and burned loads of leaves and branches.  

Cali, Jesse, our new airman friend, Tracy



Abe and Levin  

We built a big bonfire to burn everything. It looks so much better and the help was greatly appreciated.

We also had some great conversations.  

Abe and Henry going on a walk

Whether it took place around the dinner table, game table, on a walk, around a fire, or in the living room, I loved the conversation and discussions.    

Elder Robert D. Hales said, "When families are functioning as designed by God, the relationships found therein are the most valued of mortality . . . Being one in a family carries a great responsibility of caring, loving, lifting, and strengthening each member of the family . . ."  This week I'm grateful for the process of growing a family.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Memories - #Bible Celebration

Today is the International Day of the Bible.

6th grade  

For several years we received free, red, pocket-sized, Gideon New Testament Bibles in grade school. Once a year, missionaries came and distributed them to the students in the upper grades. Though we had several King James Version Bibles at home, I felt respectable and grown up reading from my little pocket version that put Jesus' words in red type.

Today is the International Day of the Bible and in it's honor, I'm sharing a few of my favorite verses:


I still remember reading the Old Testament the first time.  It was such a good feeling when I finished the last page of Malachi.  It didn't matter that many of the stories or doctrines weren't clear to me, I recognized it as sacred.  I'm grateful to live in a time when the Bible is available to the common man and that I have the skills to read it.  It has corrected, guided, and encouraged me.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

52 Blessings - Thanksgiving

I'm grateful for commandments.  They're like the instructions to success in life.  Keeping commandments makes my life happy.  In particular, I'm grateful for 

Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.

Like it's sister commandment of not coveting, gratitude is a feel-good commandment.  That's one of the reasons Thanksgiving is such a great holiday:  when you celebrate it right - with a grateful heart - it makes you feel good.     

I love Thanksgiving because of
  • the colors — red, orange, green and gold
  • the smell — woodstoves, cinnamon, sage, nutmeg, roasting turkey and baking bread
  • the taste — pumpkin pie, potatoes (sweet & brown) and stuffing
  • the feel — family and friends gathered because they’re grateful and they’re family 
  • the pilgrims — we have a year-round display of pilgrims, a copy of the Mayflower compact, Indian corn, and a little stone from Plymouth Rock. I never take it down because it’s not decoration, it's family, those pilgrims are part of us. I am a descendant of John Howland who came on the Mayflower as a servant.  One night when the winds and the sea were fierce, a "lusty young man called John Howland" was washed overboard by a huge wave.  Providentially, his leg was caught in the riggings and they were able to pull him back to safety.  Once they settled in the New World, many pilgrims died and John Howland's master and his  master's wife were two of them. H.U. Westermayer reminds us that “The Pilgrims made seven  times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who,  nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” Three years later John married their daughter  and they had ten  children who lived to adulthood . . . and had lots of posterity.

I have a few things in common with John Howland besides genes:  one, I'm hale, hearty, and lusty; two, there are ten kids in my family and we all have descendants; and three, I love Thanksgiving. But what I really hope to develop and have in common is those traits that make a pilgrim:  faith, courage, and a grateful heart, no matter how hard times are.

On July 15, 1863 (a very good day indeed) Abraham Lincoln called for a day of "national thanksgiving, praise, and prayer" to be held on August 6th.  He invited "the people of the United States to assemble on that occasion in their customary places of worship and in the forms approved by their own consciences (to) render the homage due to the Divine Majesty."  Later that year the Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 was given.  Though still in the middle of a bloody and destructive war, and still feeling the loss of two of his own sons, there was much for Lincoln to be discouraged about, but he chose to focus on gratitude which brings humility.  He said America needed to be grateful that no other nations had taken advantage of her in her weakened state, that America's prosperity was a “gracious gift of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy,” and that all Americans everywhere should observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our “beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  

John Howland and Abraham Lincoln are two examples of having a grateful heart.  To be thankful when times are hard, to be thankful in the time of war, to be thankful every day . . . that is my goal.  

Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.  It makes sense and makes for a happy life.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Life in Our World - 6 for Saturday


Cali, Levin, and Atlas came to spend a few days this week while Ray was traveling.  Cali got here just in time to help butcher chickens.  Our friends and neighbors, the Goodrich's, were also butchering their chickens so it was a co-op affair.

If you live far removed from your food sources, home butchering is a jolt.  But after viewing a commercial poultry facility where the plucked chickens float in fecal soup prior to processing, it's the cleanest and most desirable way to eat a chicken.  

Calvin and I were glad to have Cali and Goodrich's help.  I didn't touch one feather this time.  By the time I got home from work they had a system going, so I came in and took care of Levin and Atlas and fixed potato soup and scones for lunch. It was a happy, productive day.


One night, in an effort to wear the boys out before bed, we danced the Hokey Pokey, Bunny Hop, and The Patty-cake Polka.  Afterwards we sat down to do a scripture story on the flannel board and Levin asked, "Is tonight family night?"  I decided then and there that I want to make every night feel like a family night when the grandkids are visiting.  Time with family goes so fast.


Cali asked her dad to help her make a play kitchen for the boys for Christmas.  They spent a couple of nights drafting plans and working on it.  Cali is so good and handy at things like this.  I'm always impressed with her abilities.  Ray and Cali will finish it when they come over for Thanksgiving.

It really doesn't feel like the holidays until the shop is fired up and Calvin is doing projects.   


Kathy, Chris, and Kendra (Chris' daughter)

Speaking of shop projects, the Stake Relief Society Presidency is helping with the community nativity.  We spent a few hours a couple of different times this week making rock and brick walls for Bethlehem and the stable.  


This picture of Eliza makes me laugh.

Michelle and Ty got word that after Ty finished SERE training in Washington he was to report in San Antonio three days later.  There was no way that he would be able to fly back to Mississippi and pack and move his family to Texas in time.  So they packed and stored as much as they could before he left, and Michelle finished the job.  With two little girls (Afton is 2 and Eliza is 1) and one on the way (due next May), Michelle finalized all of the packing and cleaning and drove the girls to Texas while pulling a u-haul trailer.  They not only made the trip in one happy piece, Michelle did it without backing up the trailer once.  She's a forward thinker in more ways than one and I'm proud of her.  I don't think I could have done this.


We were really glad to be able to get to see Ty on the weekends that bookended his training.  Last night we drove to Spokane and spent the night with him before putting him on the plane this morning. We found an incredible seafood buffet for $23 a person.  They did not make money off of us -- what Calvin didn't eat in crab, I ate in creme brulee.

Now on to next week and my favorite holiday of the year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Homemaking Tip - Great Granola

When we went to see Ande this summer she served granola that she had made.  I've made granola for years, but Ande's recipe was far better.  I've since made it and it's good with milk or served with fresh raspberries and Greek yogurt.    

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1 cup cashews
3/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil (substitute peanut oil . . . it makes a good difference)
3/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl and mix well.  Combine maple syrup, vegetable oil, and salt in another bowl.  Pour liquid mixture over dry mixture and stir evenly to coat. Spread on large baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.   (Optional:  add dried fruit after it has finished baking.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Memories - George Brown

Five years ago I met George Brown (right) and his friend.  Calvin, Abe, Grace, and I were in Washington, D.C. at the World War II Memorial.

We first saw the World War II memorial late at night.  It is an impressive memorial of stone and cement, but it wasn't my favorite of all the soldier memorials.  That is until we went the next morning in the daylight and it was filled with World War II veterans.  They gave the memorial soul and beauty.  

I saw George and his comrade sitting on the bench and asked if I could take their picture.  They granted permission and after I took the picture I offered to send them a copy.  George gave me his e-mail address.  I thanked the men for their military service and George winked and said, "We'd fight for you any day, ma'am."  Chivalry.  Pure chivalry.

Two weeks later I sent George this e-mail:

Dear George,

I took this picture of you a couple of weeks ago at the WW II memorial. I just love it. Every time I see it, it makes me smile. Thank you for letting me take it and thank you for serving all of us in the military.

Best wishes to you always,

Jane Payne

This was George's response:

Dear Jane:You made me a winner..As soon as you took our photo, my friend said:"you will never get that picture". I told him I was positive I will get that picture. so,I am going to send him a copy and I am certain there will be some grovelling on his part.Thank you. I am sorry we are a continent apart; I would love to take you to dinner. You are a different breed!With gratitude, George Brown

George and I have corresponded each Veteran's Day for the last five years.  Until last year.  I didn't get a response from him.  I supposed he had died.  A couple of days after Veteran's Day I sent him one last e-mail recounting our meeting, in case his mind was no longer alert or his family opened the e-mail of the deceased.

Good morning George and a belated Happy Veteran's Day to you.

I hope this e-mail finds you happy and healthy. I think of you every year, especially about this time, and meeting you at the World War II memorial in Washington D.C. You were there with your friend and you obliged me by letting me take your picture. As I recall you won a steak dinner betting your friend I'd send the picture and him betting I wouldn't! I have enjoyed our correspondence over the last few years and want you to know I appreciate it.

I hope today you are doing well and enjoying the things that you so self-lessly offered to protect for the rest of us. Thank you for your service . . . and friendship.

Our family is doing well. Our two sons are still serving in the military. Both are officers. One flies planes, the other commands tanks.

Much appreciation to you George.

Jane Payne

Guess what I got in my box this morning?  You guessed it.  Something from George:

WOW! A voice - A-welcome voice- from the recent past-

How can it be that Father time is so swift in His appearings?

It is really good to hear from you and about your sons in 

My friend who lost the dinner to me died last summer-  I turned 90 last June-

My wife is 89,sufferd a broken shoulder last March and struggled thru a 6 months recovery.


I hope you have been well, still traveling and meeting the world on your own terms.  On the whole , life is still overflowing and wonderful

love your messages.  George

Long live George.  Long live e-mail.  Long live new friends.  Long live good memories.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Life in Our World - Sign Me Up

When you belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints you get lots of opportunities to serve others.  In fact, you're expected to help.  Here are three projects Calvin was a part of this week:

Cooking for the High Priest banquet.

Calvin was asked to cook the brisket.  He started at 11:00 pm on Thursday night and got up every hour on the hour to tend to the smoker.  It paid off; the brisket was good and Calvin smelled like a campfire.

Feeding the Young Men breakfast.

The YM leaders:  Calvin, Brent, & Mitch

The leaders promised a big breakfast to the young men if they would all read their scriptures faithfully.  Not all of the young men are in this picture, but all of them are fun to be with and each have a story.

Juan is quite possibly the happiest person I've ever met.  He lives in pain from his spinal deformations.  It is impossible not to smile when you're with him. He is a leader in his special ed choir and it's inspiring watching him perform.

Anthony often misses out on fun events because he has to babysit his younger siblings while his parents work (often in the fields or on the poultry farm).  Often Anthony's little sister will follow him a few steps behind when he passes the sacrament.

Benexie was chosen by his teachers to represent the school at a leadership conference at Harvard this last summer.  He can catch a football from anywhere.

Gaston strikes up conversations, contributes to gatherings, and leads out with the other boys.  Incredible for a boy who only grunted and said "Idunno" a few years ago.

Denny is gregarious, spiritual, and funny.  One minute he's fourteen and the next he's forty.

Those boys consumed a lot of milk, pancakes, sausage, bacon, and eggs.  

Helping Jaime finish his Boy Scout Eagle project.


Jaime (far right in the top picture) is the first young man in the Spanish Branch to get his Eagle badge in forever . . . maybe ever.  Calvin helped Jaime organize his senior-citizen-center-shelf-project and the troop helped ("helped" being relative) complete it.

One Sunday many years ago, my young women's leader, Vera, told our class how grateful she was that she belonged to a church that expected her husband to serve other people and to serve often. She said it helped him to be a better man, husband, and father.  She nodded knowingly as she told us and acted as if we would all understand some day.  I've thought of her comment a hundred times through the years and came to understand exactly what she meant.  It is as President Spencer W. Kimball says,

“The more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to “find” ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!”

Friday, November 14, 2014

Life in Our World - Fourteen Pictures for the Fourteenth of November of Two Thousand and Fourteen

Michelle: A laundry-folding party in my bare house with Jack Bauer.
(Jane speaking here, Ty and Michelle and the girls will move to San Antonio, Texas next week for further training.)

Ty:  Enjoying dinner at The Steam Plant in Spokane, WA
(Jane speaking here:  Ty's first meal after completing a week of
survival training in sub-zero temps.)

Eliza:  Having good dreams during nap time.

Afton:  Family movie night watching Dusty Grasshopper.

Ty:  At the mall in Spokane.

Abe:  After spending the last month in my hammock (while training), I'd say the
investment was worth it.

Grace:  Just one more day until Abe gets home from his 4 week training!

Henry:  Devouring my first cheeto

Ande:  This picture pretty well sums up my day.
Zeph:  Zeph has been learning to put away all of his toys and books.  Today it took him a good
5 minutes to round up every single ball scattered through the house, but he did it!
(With me reminding him to "put it away" every 10 seconds or so.)

Jane:  Each weekday I teach 89 students the scriptures.  It's a very rewarding and challenging job.

Calvin:  With Brandee and Andre Guzman (our Branch President and his wife).
Calvin fixed them a steak and seafood dinner tonight to celebrate Andre's 40th birthday.
Pres. Guzman and Calvin are kindred carnivores.

Calvin & Jane:  After the Guzmans went home we laid down in front of the fire and fell asleep.

Calvin & Jane:  This is true.  We know it.