Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One Graduated, 13 To Go

This week has brought a lot of changes to our family. When I say a lot, I mean a whole lot. There has to be at least 10 posts to cover it all. I'll start with the first and easiest. Sereen and Jared graduated from BYU!! It didn't really hit me what a great accomplishment graduating from college was and how rare it is because so many go on to higher education around us.

As we were sitting waiting for the graduates to walk in I was a little surprised that there weren't more people. We were in the Marriott Center so I had to give myself a small dose of perspective. I realized that this was a bigger deal to me than I thought.

I got a little choked up as Jared, Sereen and their cousin Natalie walked in and I realized that Sereen was my parents second grandchild to get a college degree. Somehow this graduation affected me deeply. In one of the talks the Dean of the college told us that each student at BYU effectively receives an $80,000 scholarship over a 4 year period but had to remind the students that most of them don't graduate in 4 years.:) This scholarship is given through the subsidies of donations and tithing. The level of education is very high and the tuition is very low. I became even more committed to pushing my children to qualify and attend BYU if it is right for them.

We got to sit with Jared's parents, who came from out of town, and Doug's sister and brother-in-law. It was a great experience. Doug took some pictures of the graduates in a couple of different locations. It was a sunny day unlike most days this Spring so the pictures turned out good. After the graduation we went to dinner with Sereen, Jared, His parents, and Tyler.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Profound Thought

I came across this thought by Michael Wilcox. I hope that I can remember what he taught and teach my children. We all deserve to be seen as God sees us.

Several years ago while conducting a tour to the Holy Lands; I had an opportunity of visiting Taba, Egypt for the first time. Taba is located just across the border from Israel at the farthest tip of the Red Sea. Many areas in the Middle East are dry, desolate places, but even I was not prepared for the scene that greeted me as we crossed the border. It seemed that even the words desolate, dry, and barren would not do the place justice. I could not see anything green for miles, nor were there any signs of life except where man had planted a few trees or shrubs to break the harshness of the landscape. We boarded our bus and drove across the desert toward our hotel. I remember looking around, seeing nothing but rock and sky. I searched for a few birds to indicate some form of life but could find none. Nothing seemed to live here. I thought as I surveyed the dry, bleak, austere scenery: “Whoever God assigned to create this part of his world needs to go back and take Creation 101 again, because they didn’t do a very good job here. Maybe they got started and the recess bell rang, and they never came back to add a bit of color or movement!” I do not think I have ever visited a more inhuman, forbidding, vista.
We checked into our hotel which I was pleased to discover was beautifully landscaped with a drip irrigation system, but just across the highway the dead rock of the mountains reminded me of my first impressions. I did not know that I would soon receive one of the greatest lessons I have learned while traveling the lands of the Bible.
Later that same day, I put on a snorkel mask and went swimming just a few feet off the beach to look at the coral reefs I was informed lay close to shore. I was astonished by what I experienced! In some places the reef was just a few inches under the surface of the water. What a different world this was! Beautiful corals of varied and contrasting color greeted my eyes. Moving in and out of dark caverns and darting through the waving sea grasses were fish of all varieties displaying the most wonderful patterns and brilliant colors. Here was life at its fullest—a rich teeming world of movement, design, variety—creation in majestic fulfillment. There are few places I have been where one can see life more beautiful than snorkeling in the Red Sea. The sea itself shifts and changes through a kaleidoscope of blues, from a pale sky blue over the sand to the royal darkness that indicates deep water. As I was looking at all that magnificent splendor I remembered my first judgment of the area. I had condemned this part of the earth’s surface as a God forsaken place. As I swam along the surface of the water for hours with my face peering into the depths, I could feel God’s smile and his delighted laughter—I’m sure he has a most agreeable laugh. I was enjoying the wonder of his creation which had been hidden from my view by just a few inches of water. When the impression of the two contrasting worlds of the desert and sea was sufficiently engraved in my mind the Lord whispered to me, “Michael, you must learn to see all things, and all places, and all people, as you have learned to see today.” I had learned something important about life and about the God I worship. He always sees the beauty underneath the surface. This is especially true of his sons and daughters and he would have us see in like manner.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pierce the Debater

A month and a half ago Pierce came home and told me that the whole class had to participate in a debate competition. I thought that was interesting because I don't remember having any of the other children do this and they all went to the same school. They were taught the basics of debate and paired with another person in the class. They prepared their arguments and practiced at school against each other.

One morning Pierce tells me that he has to bring his church clothes to school. Of course I questioned him on it and found out that later that day he would compete at the high school. He wasn't very thrilled about it but was a good sport. After school he reported that they had come in 5th and just barley missed having to go to the regional tournament. He was so glad. Unfortunately they were notified in a few days that one of the other teams couldn't make it to the regional tournament so they were going.

One day last week (no, I don't remember which day because they tend to all blur into one)I hurried Pierce over to the tournament. I wasn't able to stay and watch but I came back 15 minutes before the awards ceremony. I was just going to pick him up and go because Pierce was sure he wouldn't get any award. He decided he wanted to wait and see if his friends won. They called up the winners and Pierce and his friend were the first to be called. We both took in a surprised breath and he went up to the podium. He placed in the top 3 and is now going to State.

Pierce is a quieter person. Not the type to put himself in front of people unless he is on stage. He is a peacemaker and does not argue. For this child to win a debate tournament is very surprising. The State competition will be a good experience for him. I'll let you know how he does.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We got USCIS Approval!!!

We received our United States Government approval today to adopt from China! We have waited for over 8 weeks for this letter. We even went in two weeks early for our fingerprints hoping it would speed things up. No such luck. But we did finally get it and I will be on my way to the Secretary of State first thing in the morning to have all of our documents authenticated. The next step will be to send everything to a courier in Washington DC to have the documents authenticated at the State Department then they will take them to the Chinese Embassy. When these two steps are done, which takes less than a week, the documents will be mailed to our agency. We should have all our docs to China in two to three weeks.

I can't believe that we are so close to being DTC (dossier to China). It feels like it's been a very long time. Pray that all will go smoothly and quickly. We would really like Ressa to go to China with us but we would have to be back by August 29 so she can start school.

One more big step down!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fun Picture Moments

I thought it would be fun to just post some pictures of the family. I just spent 2 hours learning how to move pictures from one computer to another then posting to the blog. I then had to figure out how to put a caption in between each picture. I am so proud of myself. If I don't know how to do something I am going to figure it out. If I have time that is. Enjoy!

Part of the family after seeing the production Savior of the World.
From left to Right:Casey, Ressa, Creed and Tyler
Emma, Malia, Marshall, Clayson and Niya

Daddy Daughter dance at a cousins wedding reception

Our Princess Niya wearing her favorite headband.

Handsome Marshall

Casey playing ball. That boy can jump!

Cute Clayson and yes he is a red head!

Emma and Ressa being silly taking pictures.

Malia holding her littlest cousin. Our girls love babies.

We had a Tangled party and these are our cakes. Can you figure out which one we made?

Malia and Casey on Malia's birthday. This is one of the favorite desserts for birthdays. Oreo dirt cake!

Beautiful Hannah. She just got her braces in January and her underbite is already gone.

Pierce, what do you say about someone as good looking as that?

Creed playing basketball with the boys at church.

Ressa on the night of Senior Prom. She is just gorgeous.