Sunday, March 22, 2015

The University of the Spirit

(One of the missionaries in my classroom captured this photo of me while teaching.)

One of my favorite jobs ever was when I had the opportunity to be a teacher
at the LDS Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah
while I was a student at BYU.
(It was over 30 years ago.)
It is hard to describe the experience.
For five days each week I was able to spend four hours a day
 away from the stresses of school work, roommate drama,
relationship concerns and world news.
I was able to step into a place I called
The University of the Spirit.

Being around these newly called missionaries of 
was such a blessing in my life.
Some came into my classroom very well prepared and eager to learn,
some not so much.
But each young man and young woman who came through those doors
had one thing in common:
They loved the Lord and His Gospel of Peace
and they desired to share it with others.
My cup was filled to the brim each day as I taught them and they taught me.
It became more than a job to me.
I will cherish that time forever.

If you see any of our 84,000+ missionaries serving throughout the world
please be kind to them.
They are sharing goodness on their own dime and their own time.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Here Come the Brides or How to Be a Runway Model

 California Cait blew into town like a red tornado.
Only here for a couple of days for a dental appointment
and to model for Provo Fashion Week.
 One of her friends, RaeAnne, an upcoming designer,
had asked Caitlyn to be one of her models for the Bridal Showcase.
She spent most of her Saturday with several models
in fittings, ramp rehearsal, hair and makeup.
 Provo Fashion Week has become quite the 'hip' event
over the past few years.
New and established designers have the opportunity to
showcase their designs in various categories.
Vendors of all kinds are onsite as well to show-off their wares.
Cailtyn with the designer and some of the models.
 The proceeds from the event support a select charity.
I was impressed with how professional the show was
and my husband and I had a fun time supporting Caitlyn.
She looked like a pro, lovely and poised.
And though she was wearing the highest of heals
 and feared tripping,
she did not:)

We loved having her home, if only for a few hours.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Nature's Art

 I have certainly seen some masterpieces
on my morning walks lately.
 Sunrise looks like fire on the mountain.
It is amazing how quickly the sky can change 
within just a few minutes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

January Joy

This little bundle of sweetness arrived on January 19th.
Her name is Cora.
She is the 4th child and first daughter of our dear friends Ashley and Mat.
I am once again playing 'pretend granny.'
I took this photo today while I enjoyed a few hours of heaven alone with her.

This is the world-famous harpist Emmanuel Ceysson.
This handsome Frenchman has been a presence in concerts halls
around the world from the Salle Gaveau to Carnegie Hall.
He is the principal harpist for the Orchestra of the Opera National de Paris.
My friend Ashley,(Cora's mother) who is also an excellent harpist
has been working to get him here for over a year.
She is one of the heads of a non-profit organization called
Intermountain Harp Education Association.
Mr. Ceysson spent a week here teaching master classes and private lessons
at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah.
My niece Hannah was one of the fortunate students to have a private lesson.

 (My photo from the front row.)

Well, lucky me!
Ashley asked me to join her at his concert at the
Museum of Fine Arts at the U of U 
only five days after she gave birth because she was
most certainly NOT going to miss this concert she had
worked so hard to see happen.
And what a concert it was!
I was hypnotized by Mr. Ceysson's virtuoso playing.
It was pure 'Harp Heaven.'

 I took this photo of Mr. Ceysson with Ashley far right and her fellow teachers who brought him here.
It was a delight to meet such a gracious and renowned artist.
He was charming and humble and he autographed my program.
I loved watching him interact with all the young harp students who obviously had stars in their eyes.

To wrap up the month my husband and I attended the English World Premiere of
The Count of Monte Cristo at Brigham Young University on January 31st.
I have been anticipating this for months!
Not only is it one of my favorite books, but the composer is one of my Broadway favorites.
(Scarlet Pimpernel, The Civil War, Jekyl & Hyde)
This was a huge compliment to BYU's Musical Theatre Department that Mr. Wildhorn
selected them to premiere his musical.
He actually auditioned the students and worked with them during the rehearsal process.
All eleven shows in the DeJong Concert Hall were sold out.
It did not disappoint.
It was incredible.
From the vocals to the staging to the orchestra.
Top notch.
(It was fun to see one of the main roles played by the guy who played
 Conrad Birdie to my Caitlyn's Kim MacAffe
 in her high school's 'Bye, Bye Birdie' several years ago.)
I floated home on a musical theatre cloud
and relived it all night in my dreams as I am prone to do.
Once you have been bitten by the theatre-bug you never recover.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"End. No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take." ~J.R.R Tolkien

 I have wept a bucket of tears over the past few weeks.
A few days before Christmas we took our annual batch of Coconut Date Balls
over to our friends the Lockharts only to learn that Becky was very ill and resting.
At that point in time the family didn't know what was wrong.
It didn't settle well with me because Becky rarely got ill.
Little did we know that a few short weeks later she would be gone.
She died from a rare neurodegenerative disease known as CJD.
It strikes one in a million.
(Over the past couple of years 5 friends have passed on.
Melanie, Amy, Shannon, Camille, and now Becky.
All young, beautiful, vibrant  women and mothers.
All younger than me.
I have grieved selfishly for my own loss, but mostly I have grieved for their husbands and children.)

 Governor Herbert ordered all flags throughout the state to fly at half-mast for two days.
(Cammy took this photo of the roundabout on Center Street where
Becky rode for many years in the Provo Independence Day Parade.)

*This blog has always been for me; some therapy if you will.
It has no rhyme or reason.
Merely a place to express my thoughts.
So dear reader, if you are still reading,
please understand my self-indulgence.

Becky was one of my very first friends when our family moved into her neighborhood.
We have been friends for over 21 years.
To several who know me in recent years this may come as a surprise.
Our friendship was quiet and not often in the public eye. 
It was one of mutual respect, sharing ideas and understanding each other's hearts.
Becky understood me more than some because she and I 
shared similar challenges in regards to our personalities:
Rising to the expectations of social events, and afterwards needing solitude to recharge.
In those early days Becky was nervous to even give prayers or talks in church. 
Quite a remarkable thing to consider in  that she made history as the 
first woman Utah Speaker of the House.
During her 16 years in the Legislature she gave many eloquent and passionate speeches.
It was fun to sit and watch her in action the few times I sat in the 
gallery of the House Chambers.
This past year we had both read the book
 'Quiet: The Power of Introverts'
by Susan Cain.
I was so looking forward to discussing it with her once she had more 'free time'
after retiring from the Legislature. 
 Becky's sanctuary for recharging her battery was in her sewing room.
She loved being in that room.
She made beautiful quilts over the years and gifted them to many.
I was delighted to receive this lovely one from her which she titled
'Eternal Gratitude.'
(Just this past fall my husband and I had decided to redecorate one of our daughter's rooms 
since she has moved away from home and I had been anxious to use this quilt for the focal point
of colors for the room.) 

Becky and I had many times to hang out together over the years
 from our daughters being together in a playgroup,
 to our husbands serving together in two different tenures of a demanding church calling. 
I especially treasure many memories with her during the 5 years before she became a legislator.
Being 10 years older than Becky we would tease about our 'generation gap' when it came to
our love of rock bands; me a 70's girl and she an 80's,
though we did agree that Steve Perry of 'Journey' had the ultimate rock voice.
Many of our conversations revolved around books and movies.
Both of us loved fantasy and science fiction growing up especially
J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' books
and later the Harry Potter series.
We also loved talking about our children, the gospel, 
her experiences as a nurse and mine as a teacher.
Politics was only rarely in the mix when she would ask for my opinion.

For a few years we were in a progressive dinner group with several young couples. 
Becky and I would compete to be the house to host the games or the babysitting
because neither of us liked to cook and didn't want that responsibility. 
Regarding the 'Christmas Coconut Date Balls' I mentioned earlier,
Becky absolutely loved them. (One of the few treats I could make well.)
She told me they were a taste of heaven
and something she eagerly awaited each year. She knew they were a highly guarded recipe
that was passed down from my mother and one that I never shared outside our family.
Becky was always trying sneakily to get that recipe from my daughters.
It became a running joke.
One year for a Young Women in Excellence event, my daughter Coryn had prepared
a beautiful recipe book for her project.
When Becky saw that Coryn's display was a recipe book she practically leapt
across the table, grabbed the book and started rapidly turning the pages,
obviously looking for the coveted recipe.
We still laugh about that moment in our house.
Over the years Becky and I commiserated about our weight loss frustrations among other things
but she always told me,
"I don't care if I'm on a diet. You must bring me those date balls every year!"
And I did.

(Emily Britton speaking at the public memorial at the Utah State Capitol)

Becky loves her family fiercely and always made them her priority
 despite the demands of her public service.
I saw several occasions where she dropped things to be at their events or activities
whenever possible. 
It is evident that her mothering, teaching and loving, along with her husband Stan's
have made a deep impression on her children
as was apparent in their words about their mother this past week.

Here are a sampling of some of those sentiments:
Emily Lockhart Britton
(In regard to family political discussions ) "Instead of discouraging our childish input,
my mom would ask for our perspective."
"My mom was a great example of how to choose good in a world of evil."
"I know that there is another chapter, and whenever my time comes and the Lord is ready to take me, 
my mom will be there to pick me up."

Hannah Lockhart
"My mom was busy but found her most joy with our family. She'd know just the right thing
to say. She showed me how to be kind, taught me correct principles and that people
aren't perfect. I admired her conviction and wanted to soak in her knowledge.
I know my mom will always be my mom, and I have no doubt I will see her again.
I am comforted knowing my mom is feeling joy now.
I know more now, than I ever have before, that families are forever."

Elder Stephen Lockhart
(Serving in the Virginia Richmond Mission. Stephen wrote a letter which was read at the funeral.)
"She was my greatest example. She had little fear and she was bold. I am confident my mom died the kind of person God wanted her to be. When God called me on a 24-month mission he knew this would happen. She taught me to press forward with steadfastness in Christ. I would not stay on my mission if I didn't know what my mother taught me as a child was true.. Now I must exercise my faith and put my trust in God. I am now serving my mission for God, Christ and my mom."

Max Britton
(Becky and Stan's son-in-law)
*Knowing the Becky that I do, I especially loved these words from Max:
"Yesterday at the memorial, I kept hearing the term 'Iron Lady' and references to Margaret Thatcher, and if that is all you knew her as, I'm so sorry.
It was such a small percentage of who she was. And even when she was an iron lady,
it was with love. Whether she was butting heads with the governor or the senate or her favorite
punching bag, Stan, she didn't do it with hate; she loved the process and she loved to be able to serve.
She was one of the few complete persons I have met in my life.
I learned from her to strive to be the best version of yourself."

Photo: Matt Throckmorton
 Becky was one of the last members of the 'Old Cowboy Caucus' in the 
Utah House of Representatives.
It was only fitting that her 'final ride' would be in a horse-drawn carriage.

 Photo: Sam Penrod
(Former State Representative Bill Wright drives the carriage with Hannah and her dad Stan.)

Stan Lockhart:
"I'm not the judge, but from my vantage point I think Becky has proven herself.
Our family is mindful we are not alone in our grief. We are all born and we all die. Today is about rejoicing.
She is my eternal companion and families are forever.
On one hand she would be upset with all this attention.
She would say; 'Take an Advil, buck up and get on with it.'
She would want us to do what is necessary to get back to what is important in life.
She has been my equal, my partner.
We were always teasing. Half of the fun was to see if I could get her irritated with me.
She was my rock."
In closing Stan offered these words:
"Make God more important in your life. Treat your spouse better.
Cherish time with your family.
Tell them you're sorry.
You never know. You never know."

(Justin Hackworth)
I love this photo of Stan and Becky taken at our daughter Coryn's wedding in December 2013.

The funeral honoring Becky was one of the most exquisite, spiritual,
testimony strengthening, gospel-focused, classy services I have ever attended.
I left filled to the brim and wanting to be a much better person.
Thank you Becky (and family) for your example, your goodness, your strength and your friendship.
'Til we meet again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Three O

Happy 30th Birthday to she who made me a mother!
I love you Courtney.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


View from my front window.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmastime Hodge Podge

Some photos of our activities the past few weeks.
Always love the lights at beautiful Temple Square.

 The Visitor's Center at Temple Square has added some gorgeous large stills from the LDS Bible film series.
I was particularly drawn to this beautiful portrayal of 
Mary and toddler Jesus.
 We were blessed to obtain tickets to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert.
This year featuring Broadway singer Santino Fontana and the Sesame Street Muppets.
I smiled and wept through the entire concert.
It was that good.
And probably one of my very favorites.

 Before the concert we enjoyed walking through City Creek.
 We ate dinner at The Cheesecake Factory.
 (Thank you Coryn and Scott)
Notice we are outside in December.
While we were there who should happen to sit behind us?
Apparently the jolly old man himself.
I mean, how often do you get a photo bomb by Santa Claus?

What are you looking at?? 
We also checked in on his reindeer who were staying at Thanksgiving Point.

 I spent some time making the traditional Christmas Date Balls
for my book group, friends and my husband's office.
 Visited Downtown Provo to see this year's 
clever Christmas windows.
This one was at Pioneer Book on Center Street.
As a book lover, this was a favorite.
 Also made a trip to the Beehive Bazaar which is a tradition.
So many wonderful items made by local creatives.
 This is Noelle Olpin who created the Bazaar. 
It has been around for many years and is a local favorite.
We have known Noelle and her husband Steve (a film maker) since they were newlyweds over 20 years ago.
and lived across the street from us. 
Such talented and innovative individuals.

 I had to share this photo of my Cammy with
 sweet two-year-old Bram.
My girls babysat our good friend's three boys while 
we all attended ward choir practice for our Christmas program.
(We call them our pretend grandchildren.)
It is always an adventure to have 'little boys' in our home.

 (Coryn's BYU office party last year)
BYU's Cosmo finally donned a BLUE Santa suit after years of wearing a red one.
I think there must have been complaints about the red and someone finally made the call:)
Missing these two this Christmas!

 Hard to believe it was just a year ago this past week
 that these sweethearts
were getting married.
Such a lovely winter wedding.
 And speaking of winter.
Where is our snow?
It has certainly been a mild and unusual winter thus far.

Oh, and California Cait, 
The Red Tornado has blown in to join us for Christmas.
Let the festivities begin!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Book Babes and Brett Book Tour

 Our  Book Group for December was especially festive this year!
We were lucky enough to get tickets to meet and listen to renowned
children's book illustrator/writer Jan Brett.
Courtney found out about it through her sources and we sent
some of our ladies down to the library
 to try to get tickets the minute
they became available.
(Thanks Brenda and Ashley.)
Apparently all 500 hundred tickets were snatched up quickly.

 Ms. Brett arrived in style!
A luxury tour bus that she travels in across the country. 
She was accompanied by her husband Joseph Hearne who has
been a bassist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 53 years!

 This is awesome Gene Nielsen who is the director of
The Provo Library at Academy Square.
His enthusiasm for books and authors is contagious.

Jan Brett was darling.
I loved how she dressed in line with the style 
of her art and characters.
Inside the gift box was a real white bunny.
She told us a few things about bunnies as she held him.
She geared her remarks to the children present,
encouraging their creativity and telling them to find
a quiet spot to practice each day.

Here is another Jan.
My sweet friend of over 20 years who adores Jan Brett's work.
Our book group was so excited to make this happen for our Jan.
(The drawing of this bunny was done on stage
 by Ms. Brett while she talked.)

 After her presentation we were taken in groups to meet her
and to have a book signed if we wanted.

 She was so personable and darling and took time with each person.
Along with her books, Jan had brought a Christmas card 
designed by Jan Brett
which had been sent to our Jan by a friend in 1979.
Ms. Brett couldn't believe she still had it and she signed it for her.
Our delightful Jan was encouraging Jan Brett to create 
a greeting card line
and she told her she would consider it:)

 Jan Brett even took time to talk to my daughter Courtney
about her own writing and gave her some encouragement.

 Afterwards we all gathered at Brenda's lovely home to have our
traditional cookie exchange.
I promise we didn't eat all of these, rather we all went home with 
a variety of cookies on our plates to share with others.

 Before we partook of the goodies
Brenda made sure to take some fancy photos.

Cheryl's daughter Miranda whom we all adore
had just arrived in her mission field that week
(Russia Vladivostok)
and we were all eager to hear about her.

(One last blurry photo.)
It was a wonderful way to wrap up our 2014
year of reading and sharing.
Looking forward to more in 2015.