Monday, August 18, 2014

Forest Kade Blair

"Each family has its own 
special circumstances.
But the gospel of Jesus Christ
addresses every challenge—
which is why we must
teach it to our children."

Elder Robert D. Hales

Baby Blessing - July 21, 2014

Haley gave birth to Forest Kade Blair, our 11th grandchild, on July 18, 2014.  Tom didn't get to be there, but he arrived the following Sunday happy to see his wife and baby doing well.  Tom wasn't here long, but we had a little family gathering providing him with the opportunity to bless the baby during the short time he was here.

We are proud of this little family. Haley was a trooper.  She had been so sick for so long, it was great to have the delivery go so well.  Tom finished basic training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma and is now receiving his advanced training at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona.  Hopefully they will all be united again soon.  Little Forest is growing like a weed.  He's one month old today.

Sleepy Forest - 1 month old

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy Father's Day from Florida!

Sister Johnston and Sister Blair
Waving a Happy Father's Day from Florida

Yesterday we received an update on Janna.  With permission, I am pleased to post an email from Renae Hale. Janna is currently serving in her ward in Winter Garden, Florida. Sister Hale sent this letter for Father's Day with some great photos.  I am always glad to get letters and pictures from the field.  Thanks Renae!

Hi, This is for the dads of Sister Blair and Sister Johnston., so, moms, give your guys the screen for a few minutes so they get first dibs on these pix that I took for them as a Father’s Day gift. Then you can come back and see them too…lol!

These two sisters are a powerhouse pair! We’ve had a lot of time with them, dinners, service hours, stops to get some lemonade and now I’m working with them to hopefully teach my neighbor across the street! I love them both so much, and I enjoy every minute of time I get with them. They always have the spirit whenever they come over and when they leave, that spirit always makes my day better.

You can be so proud of them, they are working very hard and have a baptism next Saturday, so that’s really exciting!  My husband and I always try to make the missionaries feel at home, as people did that for our sons when they were serving their missions. I know it’s hard for these sweet girls to leave home and come to Orlando to be missionaries, but this area is a field white and being harvested mightily.

We have grown so much in this area of our stake that in 3 years we’ve gone from 3 wards to 5, and it’s due to the work of the faithful missionaries who come here and work their hardest. We love them and try to help them as much as we can, and they appreciate your help and love too. They’ve told me that several times.  Please know that they are being taken care of and protected by the Lord and the ward.

I hope you like the pictures!

Sister Renae Hale

Love the pictures!  Janna and her companion
happily serving together in Winter Garden, Florida

"For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;"  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sister Reynders

My niece, Emma, has left to serve a mission.
She's currently at the MTC in Provo, UT,
but will be serving in the
Tennessee Knoxville Mission
arriving May 6th.

The BEST to you Sister Reynders.
Proud of you!

“No missionary
can determine the lasting effects
of his or her labors.” 

Monday, April 21, 2014

He's Off!

Tom on the mountain last July
at our Reynders family reunion.

Can't believe he's gone.  It was almost six years ago when Tom went on his mission and that was hard to let him go then. I suppose this is like a mission too.  He's off to boot camp at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma readying to serve his country.  Tom and Haley have lived with us the last six months waiting for his departure date. I'm going to miss him even more, but it's time to move on.

“The soldier is the Army.
No army is better than its soldiers. 
The Soldier is also a citizen. 
In fact, the highest obligation 
and privilege of citizenship
is that of bearing arms
for one’s country.” 

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Hike or "The Trek" Revisited

Scenic Red Rock Canyon

A few Saturdays ago Hughie and I joined our new friends Michael and Cheryl for a trip to Red Rock Canyon. They are from St. Louis, Missouri.  Hughie is always about showing the sites and going on a hike for visitors and new comers. It's just that when that's going on I'm usually not included.  Instead, I have stayed home and prepared a meal for everyone which they enjoyed when they got back; not to mention, there was always a baby or toddler to tend to that couldn't make it either - somebody's got to watch the kids. This time there were no babies to watch and we combined our efforts and packed a picnic lunch.

I haven't been to Red Rock Canyon since the kids were little and never with Sam - so 20 years, maybe, was the last time I was there with some visiting cousins. Anyway, we were off to what I've seen in pictures time and time again.  I questioned if I would be up for the challenge, but Hughie assured me that he would go easy on me.

Let's face it, walking and climbing are two different stories.  I went on the stake trek a few years ago and made it, so maybe Hughie figured I would be good to go.  Two and a half hours later I had been pushed and pulled through the red rocks - beautiful vistas were in view for our efforts; but my 250 lbs. up and down those mountains wasn't easy - dare I say "worse than the trek".  Worse because I didn't have to climb like that. It's a wonder I didn't end up falling off a cliff, but we all made it. Cheryl had her share of challenges too, but we all worked together and did it.

It made me think of some activities we did on the trek. The kids were given a problem they needed to figure out together and that's exactly what we had to do.  I couldn't have done it alone.Our lunch was extra tasty when we finally sat down to eat. Surprisingly, I wasn't sore the next day.

Cheryl and I keeping up and having fun!

For some must push and some must pull,
As we go marching up the hill;
So merrily on our way we go
Until we reach the Valley-o.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What Can I Say?

Every time I have a break in blogging, you find me coming back with a belated post, complaining about computer weirdness.  I'm just not functioning with our new stuff.  You'd think it would be easier for me, but it's not. How to post a picture?  That's all I want - a picture!  Life is passing me by unrecorded - so to speak. (I do have other writings.) My blog and I aren't tech savvy to say the least. Excuse my complaining once again, but that's what it's all about. I have to take so much time and I'm short on it lately.  What was once easy is now very difficult for me.  I'll get it sooner or later.  In the meantime,  I'll try and do a little catching up. 
  • I made the choice to start working more in 2014.  I'm not working as much as I was a year ago, but I'm definitely trying to do more.  Currently I'm off for two weeks - spring break; that's why I'm taking this opportunity to get my computer figured out.
  • My dad is still the same and Teresa, our diligent and compassionate caregiver, is tending to his needs. I can't say enough about her and her family; the care they have given and continue to give is exceptional.
  • Janna is still in Winter Garden, FL, but has a new companion - Sister Jacklin.  Janna is on Facebook and doing missionary work on the world wide web, plus the traditional knocking-on-doors stuff, and being of service in the community. It's amazing how the gospel is moving forward throughout the world.
Janna, hastening the work, with her iPad.

I will hasten my work
in its time."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Missionary Update

Sister Blair and Sister Mevs at the Orlando Temple.
Both California girls serving together in Winter Garden, Florida

"The trials and tribulation that we experience may be the very things that guide us to come unto Him and cling to our covenants so that we might return to His presence and receive all that the Father hath."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year - 2014

Time for a review of last year's goal and setting new ones.  I claimed I was going to lose weight, but I did not. 

1 - Losing weight will continue to be my number one goal this year.

2 - I am also going to keep a special journal where I write about what I am grateful for, how God has helped me and my family - those tender mercies I so easily forget about.  I decided on this goal after my month of thankfulness in November.  It did something for me to think about what I was grateful for each day. Isn't that what were suppose to do everyday in prayer - that's what I'm saying, I've got a problem. I know I am not grateful enough and I'm hoping this will help me.

3 - And last, but not least, I am going to pull together other stories I have written and other stories from extended family to include in our family history book - The Family from Yosemite.  Hughie will definitely help me on this so not all of the responsibility will be on me.  I'd like to categorize my blog posts better too so other family and friends can find my stories easier.

Elder John A. Widstoe:

“As I view it, in every family a record should be kept. … That record should be the first stone, if you choose, in the family altar. It should be a book known and used in the family circle; and when the child reaches maturity and goes out to make another household, one of the first things that the young couple should take along should be the records of their families, to be extended by them as life goes on. … Each one of us carries, individually, the responsibility of record keeping, and we should assume it.” (Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, July 1920)


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Family From Yosemite - 2013

We did our Family From Yosemite stories in shifts this year - Christmas day and last night for Family Home Evening. This Family From Yosemite thing is evolving. It was suggested that we should include some stories and other things written by extended family members and also more of the stories I have written on my blog. It's all about family history and it looks like we've got some work to do to update our book. I will be working on it throughout the year to be prepared for next Christmas. This was my contribution this year:

“Ask Grandma!”
December 2013 - by Martha R. Blair

Going to the store with kids usually ends up involving a request or I should say, many requests from child to parent:

“Can I have some candy?”

“Can I get a toy?”

“Can we buy this cereal?”

And then it’s topped with pleading and begging:


“Please, please, please!”

In the early years of training, you might end up with a big fit or tantrum with tears because you said, “No.” I’d say, “yes” sometimes, but most of the time it was “no”. My budget could only go so far, not to mention it’s not healthy to get everything you want.  Even before we left the house I would make it clear what the situation was, “So don’t even ask.”  I would say that, but the asking still came.

Of course they wanted something, who wouldn’t. Their lives are sprinkled with treats and goodies and I certainly wanted to give in to their sweet requests, but “no” was the way it needed to be.

One day at the grocery store, Cassie, at the time, my petite little preschooler, wanted something.  She had a bit of a speech impediment.  That didn’t stop her from talking, in fact, her altered speech and happy manners made her quite endearing. I still said, “NO.”

She was very insistent and in fact, she was so insistent I worried if my “no” might insight a desire to take something.  I thought to test her understanding of stealing. I asked, “What will you do Cassie when you want something and mommy says ‘No?’”

She was quick to say, with a beaming smile on her face, “OOOOh, I’ll ask Grandma!”

I laughed about it then and I’m smiling about it now because I am a grandma who is more inclined to giving into the pleas of little grandchildren.

That brings me to Sam, the baby of the family. Everyone enjoyed Sam, but I also was a Momma Bear in protection mode from his older siblings.  I was constant in coming to his defense when big kids would come around with their parenting opinions, “You’d never do that for me.” and “He gets everything!”  They were very unaware that I did more for them than they obviously knew when they were little, hum-pf TEENAGERS, I rest my case.

But as time went on and big kids got bigger, and grandchildren came.  I called Sammy, the “leader of the pack.”  He was just five years senior to our first grandchild, Jeremiah.  I was definitely older and taking the grandma reigns, more tired with more money than I had in the beginning as a young mother. One day in my early grandma career, my son, Billy, made an observation, “Mom, I finally figured out why you treat Sammy the way you do.  You’re not a mom anymore, you’re a grandma.”

My reaction - maybe.

Me being GRANDMA with Ammon (Grandchild #4)

Me being MOM with Sam (9 years old in this picture.)

Here's what kind of grandma I am. We had all the grandkids here over the holiday and I forgot to take a picture with all of them. I'm hoping it won't be too long and we'll be together again. Grandma's are forgetful.

"Your story should be written now while it is fresh and while the true details are available. … What could you do better for your children and your children’s children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved? Some of what you write may be humdrum dates and places, but there will also be rich passages that will be quoted by your posterity."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

They're Getting It

I can be an influence as a grandparent, but there is nothing more influential in the life of a child than their parents.  They will also be influenced by teachers, friends, etc.  But I wonder, I wish, I pray, that my grandchildren are moving forward in their understanding of Christ.

I had an experience over the holiday I wanted to share.  Ryan, Bill and Chelsea's oldest daughter, who is four years old was in the backyard.  I was watching a number of my grandchildren outside and figured  it was a nice day and I got out our trash can and started clearing out the garden.  The kids were all over it. Evelyn collected old peach seeds and asked if she could plant them.  I said yes so that immediately gave her license to start digging.  The others got out things to dig around with too.  They're garden help turned in to garden play which I was fine with.  Ryan specifically asked if she could help me. She was looking for some instruction.  I told her I was picking up all the dead plants and leaves and putting them in the trash. She mulled around a little bit scrapping up leaves and depositing them in my trash can.  She then said, "You know what this is Grandma?"

I looked at her while she continued to scrape the ground, "What?"

Ryan responded, all knowing, "It's called service."

I was so pleased, I said to her, "That's right, you're helping me."  She carried on with her work just like the rest of the kids.  I happily thought, "They're getting it!"

I told Billy about it later.  He said Ryan had recently given a talk at church about service.  I thought, you really show your understanding of something when you live it - again, they're getting it.

Ryan - one of my many helpers that day

Service allows us to practice doing what Jesus would do. It connects us to those we serve and gives us a kind of satisfaction that self-interest can never offer.
(from The Purpose of Helping Others at

Friday, December 27, 2013

Whew! Merry Christmas!

What a Christmas day we had.  We ended up all together Christmas night, except for Janna, but we talked to her on Skype for 40 minutes.  We had dinner, nativity with the grandkids (including Sam - the leader of the pack), gifts, and a few of our Family From Yosemite stories. We'll finish them up one evening next week.  We haven't been with Rick and family on Christmas day, at least six years, maybe more - it's been so long; and having all these grandchildren together, 10 - is a Christmas miracle in and of itself.  More relatives have come and gone already this holiday and we have more coming this weekend.  We're basking in the moment.    It was a great day!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Luke 2:7

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manager; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Look to the Light

Janna, my daughter - Sister Blair, has been sharing a particular message over the Christmas season with the people she meets and teaches.  I thought I'd go ahead and share it here.  She included this little synopsis of her presentation in her latest letter:

Matthew 2:9-11

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

We then compare the star to Jesus Christ and talk about how He can lead us.

John 8:12

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world:  he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Then we talk about He can lead us out of darkness.

Then we watch, "Look to the Light".

I love having a missionary in the field.  I love hearing about Janna's experiences.  Even though she's not with us physically, we still feel her very close.  Jesus Christ changes lives.  I'm glad she gets to have experiences where she can see that in other people. It's beautiful!

We'll get to Skype with Janna on Christmas day and she gets to use FACEBOOK starting on January 1st.  I don't know how that works for a missionary, but we'll find out.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Helaman 7:7-8, This is Nephi speaking, discouraged at the wickedness of the Nephities in his day: "Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land . . . Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy . . ."

I've always wondered what it would be like to live in a different time - would life somehow be better?  Many years ago, I remember sitting in the back of the room during a Relief Society meeting. I was a young mother at the time and for some reason I was feeling a bit down that day.  It was fast Sunday and in regular form they offered sisters the opportunity to bear their testimonies during the last few minutes of the meeting.

I remember being somewhat disheartened and thinking, "It would be so much better if I lived during the time of Christ and could see him walk and teach or visit with the prophet Joseph Smith, and hear his testimony and be a member during that early foundation of the latter-day Church."  I guess I had this idea because I was feeling a bit null and void that day and I considered living in times past would somehow bring a stronger feeling of the Spirit to buoy me up.

It was testimony time and their before me stood the most humble of sisters in our ward. By the standard of the world - she was literally nothing and yet she meekly rose and bore her testimony of Jesus Christ. From the small and weak came literally the most powerful of testimonies.  The Spirit was so strong, it was almost overwhelming as it permeated throughout my body. As this sister spoke her assuring words of Christ, and while my body was so full of light  and believe my words do not give the experience justice) these words came into my mind and my heart, "It doesn't get any better than this."

Nephi followed his plea for living in a different time, "But behold, I am consigned that these are my days . . ." (Helaman 7:9).  He lived in a particular wicked time and certainly I do too.  The Book of Mormon shares stories of  the past that help give us understanding today. The point that was made clear to me in that moment is that in spite of the world I live in, ". . . the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. . ." (2 Nephi 2:4).  The Spirit I felt that day in Relief Society is the same Spirit I would have felt in past times. I am consigned to my days to live in a world filled with wickedness, but I also have the happiness that comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I can bask in the Spirit daily.  I am happy to live in my time, in the last days, doing my part in the winding up scene.

I know the Church is true, Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith is the latter-day prophet of the restoration, I know Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God today.  I want to share this with others.  The gospel of Jesus Christ brings us peace no matter where we are or what time we live in.  It is the same, yesterday, today, and forever!

Sunday, December 8, 2013


"Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him."

I read this scripture the other day and it stood out to me.  Even though this is about the Nephites having been assured after praying for strength to be delivered out of the hands of their enemies, I likened it to myself. It applies to me in so many ways concerning my future, my struggles, and my trials. God has visited me with his Spirit assuring me that I will be all right; he spoke peace to my soul and has given me great faith and therefore hope for deliverance. This scripture so embodies me and my feelings.  It strengthens my faith even more to see that what I am experiencing has also happened in the lives of others.