Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I've been off the bandwagon for a while for various reasons, but a new year is approaching and I want to get back on.  I'd like to think I'll do some post about my doings, but I'm worried about my busyness.  I guess I've got a writers block or something and my stifling ability at the computer isn't helping.  But I do have a lot of fodder from our family's storybook - The Family From Yosemite.  I have mostly put up my own writings except for a select few, but in the coming year (if nothing else) I plan to include some Family From Yosemite stories from other family members (with permission, of course).  I am also indexing as of late and I'm so thrilled with my new scope on family history.  Anyway, my point is as I look to 2015 as a year of family history pursuits.  I am going to search my memories of the past and try and record the simple things that could easily be lost if not recorded.

I reviewed my posts for goals for 2014.  My lack of review was an indicator of the new year.  I didn't have much to say. That's probably an indicator of how my year started and went.  I said, "I'd lose weight."  I did not.  I've gained.  I said, "I would be more thankful." - which I started in Thanksgiving of 2013.  I did keep a Thankful Journal through the year.  Here's the goals for 2015:

I will continue a Thankful Journal in 2015.  It's been helpful to me and I know I can be even more thankful.
  • I claim I will lose weight in 2015 - Hoping our Jingle Bell Challenge will be a kick start. 
  • I will work on family history in 2015 particularly with blogging and indexing, but searching too.
  • Janna will be home early in the new year and no doubt moving on later in the year. Sharing some time with her after being gone for a year and a half is important to me.
Happy New Year!  I'm back on the wagon.

"Always bear in mind
that your own resolution to succeed
is more important than any other."
Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"But That's Not What My Teacher Said"

compass Vector Clipart illustration

After my last post about being busy, I fell sick the very next day.  I'm still recovering as I write and I write with permission from Sam.

After laying in bed for two days with a high fever it finally came down and so naturally I felt a little better.  I decided I would do a few things that day even though I was still sick.  The biggest priority was going to the doctor, but I also had some errands that involved taking kids where they needed to go with me just staying in the car.

I had just finished picking up my prescription of horse pill antibiotics when Sam jumped in the car for his ride home and announced, "I gotta go shopping!"

"Shopping!  Can't it wait!"

"No, I need a compass!"

"A compass.  Your dad has one at home.  You've used it before."  I know he knows this and yet I'm repeating it because I don't want to buy a compass.

Sam said, "Not that kind of compass (as in Scouting).  I'm talking a compass for Geometry."

"Oh, didn't I tell you to get one of those when we were buying the protractor earlier in the school year?  I told you you would need one."

"You never said that!  Besides, it wasn't on the list then and now he wants us to have one."

How come I'm the only one that remembers these conversations that supposedly never happen. I'm amazed once again at my wisdom and here I sit thinking about how I could have saved a buck at the beginning of the year when all the school supplies were discounted.  You might even think we owned one already being that this is the last of my seven children to take Geometry.  Where are those compasses?  I don't know!  Probably upstairs in my kiddie art bag.  Surely a few have survived, but I'm not looking.  I just drive hopelessly ahead to Staples.

I just keep thinking how we could have made this purchase in August when I was at least feeling a little more chipper.  I admit my illness has given me this angst. This whole thing is reminiscent of everyone one of my children at age five when my creditability with anything academia would go out the window.  In there eyes I use to know everything, now nothing.  Each of them in turn would come home from kindergarten and explain something to me about what their teacher wanted.  I admit sometimes I don't know what teachers want, but I've been around the block with teachers, kids, and yes, I even use to go to school.  Sometimes I actually know what is expected.  I then in turn explain to my child what the teacher "really" meant when they said that and they will look up at me with confident eyes and say, "But that's not what my teacher said."

So here I go again with a sixteen year old.  I start to question my abilities.  I think back, "I got a B+ in Trig (my highest math class when I went to college). Ya, Ya, I know I'm right on this math stuff,"  as I try to convince myself I'm not crazy as to why we didn't purchase a compass earlier.

I could have sent Sam in with money, but I usually use my debit card these days and didn't have enough cash on me to buy anything.  I thought I was just going to pick him up from school so I wasn't prepared for this errand.  I'm delirious with the idea that I have to get out of the car.  I look like I just rolled out of bed and I had.  I was wearing what I slept in.  I get out of the car and put on my coat hoping to cover up my obvious weirdness.  I don't look that good in public anyway, but I know I've taken "disheveled" to a whole new level.  I'm slow moving, but when we get inside the store I quickly dart to the carts. Sam corrects my action saying, "Mom, we don't need one of those.  We're just getting a compass."

I keep following him and leave the cart behind knowing that made sense, but then I argue, "Yeah, but I might need it to stay steady."  I love shopping carts.  I refer to them as a friendly "pretend walker".  I am definitely more sure footed with one.

We wander a bit looking around and Sam finds the compasses before I do.  I catch up with him and look at the varying products.  At this point, I'm wishing I was in Walmart as I view the prices, but I picked Staples because I knew it would be easier to maneuver.  It was a smart trade-off considering how I felt.  They had an array to pick from that's for sure.  I felt good when he selected one for only $12.  I can't believe I'm saying that.  I still made a face when he showed me his selection thinking it was a ridiculous price to pay.  He said, "Why are you mad?"

"Mad, I'm not mad!  I'm sick and in public at Stables - that's what I am."

I had already turned to head out. We were standing in a crowd of people in a row of school supplies, but as soon as they heard my words, "I'm sick" the crowd divided like the the parting of the Red Sea.  People hovered over to the sides with all the stickers, pens, and whatever product was directly in front of them; providing a convenient path for our departure.  We exited quickly to say the least and I clearly knew we were more of a scene then I cared to own up to.

Today Sam is at school with his compass. I'm at home still sick.  Welcome to my lifeMy day to day living is what it's all about. I'll be picking Sam up again at 2:30 p.m. again. I'm sure another adventure awaits us.
 "Trust yourself. 
You know more than you think you do."

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Silver Lining

 School Clip Art

I have had it hard lately.  "Busy" is the reality of my situation.  Consequently, I haven't worked much this school year.  November, I only went in one day, but I jumped back into December with a couple of days early in the month.  It was pouring down rain which can be incredibly miserable because it's then designated as inclement weather and the kids have to stay in class.

I had to go to several classrooms throughout the day because I was the resource teacher servicing kids who needed extra help, but I knew when I got to their classes I would run into a few teachers with the feeling of, "What do I do now?  These kids need a break!" I'm there to help and I boldly asked if they'd like me to do a few songs and maybe a story - a phoney recess so to speak or as one teacher has referred to me as "a vacation from the teacher".  Even the hardened 5th graders who wouldn't be caught dead doing such antics happily followed my lead.

Yeah! I came home and shouted, "I love it when people love Mrs. Blair!"  I needed that boost because I wasn't too motivated to work and I really ought to.  I'll do more in the new year.  School can be very hard on Mrs. Blair some days.  Happily, I had two great days in spite of stormy weather.  I found a silver lining in the darkest of clouds with a song.
"Those who wish to sing
will always find a song."
--Swedish Proverb

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

School and Skin

I'm back in school - two ways.  One, I'm taking a watercolor class at the college.  I'm almost three weeks in and really enjoying it.  I look every semester at the course catalog with the idea of taking a class, but I rarely sign up. I'm glad this one fit my schedule. I'm also subbing again for the new school year.  I had a slow start, but I'm back on track.

Last week I was in a Resource class. Children with specific needs rotate in and out of the classroom or sometimes I go to their class to be helpful. I didn't expect to hear this from a 1st grader I was servicing that afternoon. He was distracted by the appearance of my arm as he sat next to me. In bewilderment he said, "How come you're so spotted?"  I lifted my arm and looked at it and then rubbed my hand over it back and forth, thinking, and knowing full well I didn't have the beautiful rich brown skin he had. I said, "Well, I guess . . . because I'm just old."  Granted, I was a bit freckled in my youth, but I'm more spotted now than ever; not to mention some scarring from doctors trying to clear my skin of unfortunate growths that have come on with aging; and needless to say I'm bumpy, quick with a rash or sunburn.  He turned and went on with his work after my matter-of-fact answer seemed to suffice.

Leave it to a 6-year old to be frank and honest with his questions.  I wasn't offended.  I admit I'm more speckled than most. When I fill out a form that asks for my race I check:  Caucasian, but after that conversation I felt like a new breed of people with my different shades of brown dotting my skin. I continued helping him with his reading.  It wasn't just my skin he was quick to notice, but he was quick to observe in his school work too.  He did a great job with his assignment and then off he went, back to class.

"Be who you are and say what you feel
because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Eulogy - William Burton Reynders

I'm finally putting this up. I was delirious composing and typing my dad's eulogy at 4 a.m. the day of his funeral. I certainly didn't cover it all, but I hoped it would be a tribute to his life, his love of God, his family, and his fellowman.

William Burton Reynders Eulogy
presented by Martha Reynders Blair at his funeral
Friday, August 8, 2014

My father has suffered in many ways in recent years and especially in the last month, but we know he has moved on to a better place.  As a representative of our family, I would like to publicly acknowledge our gratitude for my father’s caregiver, Teresa Espinoza, and her family. Teresa was outstanding in her service, always choosing excellence, and full of charity. Thank you, Teresa.

There are many relatives who have preceded my father in death, but I will mention just a few - 1st his wife, Dorothy McMullin, two of his grandchildren, and most recently his sister, Betty, who passed away on July 25th.  Poppy is survived by his children - myself, Martha, and my husband, Houston Blair; Mark and JoLinda Reynders of Clovis, California; Beth and David Lockhart of Hope Mills, North Carolina; and Adam and Sally Reynders of Holladay, Utah.  He has 19 living grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and many other friends and family who are here today. Thank you for coming.

My grandparent’s, Dee Allen Reynders and Martha Ann Thaxton, were both from Michigan. They were married on June 23, 1917.  Together they had five children.  My father, William Burton Reynders was the youngest. He went by Billy or Bill in those day, and in later years was affectionately referred to as “Poppy” or “Coach”.  He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 11, 1927.  Interestingly, his oldest brother, Jim, shared the same birthday of June 11th..

On Christmas Day 1927 this blossoming family met with great tragedy. Martha Ann Thaxton Reynders died of consumption or what we now call TB or tuberculosis.  Jim was 9, Betty 7, Doris 5, Robert 3, and my father, Bill, who was only 6 months old.  These children all found out later in life that they too once had TB.  My father had scarring in his lungs and was never able to donate blood because of it.

I have great compassion in thinking that my dad was not raised or cared for by his mother.  The nurturing experience that a mother can give was lost to him. There were others that stepped in and tried to compensate, but he keenly felt this loss.  Even though Christmas was the celebrated birth of our Savior he still had a bit of sorrow each year knowing his mother had passed on that day. He never showed it or talked about it, but kept it to himself.  I was older when I learned this information looking on a family pedigree chart. "What a trial!" I thought, "Not to be nurtured by your own mother."  It was a sad thing indeed, but I am hopeful she greeted him in death along with many other family and friends awaiting.

After the death of their mother, the children were separated and lived with other family members for a time; but eventually they came back together under one roof.  My father grew up attending the Central Christian Church.  He was raised in a home that promoted Christianity, service, sports, music, art, and education.

Their family formed a band performing in nursing homes. We have a photograph where my dad is pictured sitting at a snare drum with his other siblings and his father, but he also learned to play the piano and bravely sang participating in choirs and the like.

My dad was definitely skillful in sports.  He really was outstanding.  He attended Union High School where his father taught school. He participated in track and field, tennis, basketball, and football.  He left high school; too young to join the Navy, but he did it anyway with his friends, actually enlisting on D-Day during World War II.  He wasn’t in for very long because the war was soon over.  He came home and finished high school at Union High in 1947. He joined the Navy again during the Korean conflict. While he was in the military he actually had the opportunity to represent the Navy playing football at Treasure Island in San Francisco.

My dad’s sister mentioned to my mother’s brother that she had a brother serving in the Navy and wondered if he knew anyone that could write him.  My mother’s brother said, “I’ve got a sister that could write your brother.

Long story short, my parents started writing each other.  Eventually they met in California, as they walked together to greet my mother’s parents who were waiting in the distance, my mother could see her mother’s lips whispering to her father, “He’s too short for Dorothy.”  My father was the tallest in his family, but even so he barely reached the height of my mother. Obviously height was not a deal breaker, but one of the big common draws for both my parents was that they were both athletic. My parents were very competitive.  My dad was surprised that someone could actually beat him at tennis.  They both enjoyed watching sports and participating in them. It was something they shared together throughout the years.

My mother gave my father a Book of Mormon.  He read it while out at sea.  He knew the book was true.  When he saw her again, he said, “I want to be baptized.”  Later, after his baptism they were married on June 22,1951.  A year later they were sealed in the Mesa Arizona Temple.  Over time four children were born, myself - Martha, Mark, Beth, and Adam. Interestingly, my father named his two daughters after women he felt had most influenced him in his life.  I, Martha, was named after his mother and my sister, Beth, was named after his father’s sister, Aunt Beth.  She had a set of twins six-months older than my dad and he spent a lot of time in their home during his growing up years.

Like my parents, our family participated in sports, Scouting, and lots of activities at school, but my father knew life wasn’t just about sports and fun activities.  I remember my mother made up some signs for each of our bedrooms.  My dad brought them to each room and pinned them on a bulletin board as an affirmation to aim high.  The sign listed three goals:  “Mission, College, Temple Marriage”.

Our household was loud, and as boisterous as we all were it was still a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house that strived to teach and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Like Nephi of old, I can truly say “I was born of goodly parents.”

In our home for family home evenings we found ourselves often performing. Yes, we had family home evening lessons, but it seemed that everyone took a turn singing or playing the piano; except for my mother.  I’m not sure why she was exempt, but my dad participated.  He had a piano repertoire that consisted of “America the Beautiful”, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, and the “Happy Farmer”.  It didn’t stop there.  He would get up and serenade us with an old Christian tune from his youth “I Love to Tell the Story”.

I remember family home evenings.  I felt the Spirit; and because I was taught in my home and developed a testimony of the importance of family home evening; I have carried it through to the next generation and now I see it with my own children with their children.  Traditions of truth are tools that teach. Proverbs 22:6 reads, Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

I saw my father fulfill priesthood responsibilities daily with home teaching, missionary work, temple work, family history, teaching, and service  He gave us father’s blessings and blessings when we were sick. My father wasn’t perfect, but he tried to live the gospel and tried to always set an example.

My father worked in aerospace for 40 years, but there were times when he was laid off.  I remember my father being off for several months sometimes. There was one stretch that went for four months.  He even took up painting portraits. I can remember him cutting up vegetables into a pot of something which was our standard dinner with homemade bread. These times were frugal times.  I am sure my parents were concerned.  I am sure being unemployed can be a little depressing, but I really wasn’t fully aware of their worry; maybe because I just didn’t understand all the responsibilities of adulthood, but I also felt at peace in spite of these trials.

One day, I went into my parents bedroom and saw my father kneeling next to his bed praying.  I exited quietly and went to the dining room where my mother was sitting.  I told her that I saw daddy praying and why was he praying in the middle of the day?  She informed me that I shouldn’t disturb him that he was praying for a job.  I might not have been aware of adult responsibilities, but I was aware of the time and I watched the clock.  I didn’t know how long my dad had been on his knees, but since I observed him in his room praying I knew it had been at least an hour. Wow!  Praying in the middle of the day and praying for so long?! I was out on the patio occupying myself, the backdoor to the house was visibly ajar. I had been thinking about this situation.  I was watching. I was listening.  I heard the phone ring.  My mother picked it up.  I heard her say, “Yes, just a minute.” She went down the hall and got my father.  My father quickly came to the phone.  He picked it up and said, “I’ll be right there.” And he walked out the door.  I went in the house and said, “Where’s Daddy going?”  She replied, “He got a job.”  I was so amazed by that.  I’m sure it was faith promoting to my parents, but it was really a tender mercy for me also witnessing faith in action, to be there, to see it, to feel it.  God hears and answers prayers.  I knew my parents knew it and I knew it.; and as you can see, I’ve always remembered it.

My dad coached Little League for many years. He coached his sons and many other young men in the sport.  Surprisingly, he didn’t play it in high school and it was his first love of sports.  He also taught tennis.  He coached football and basketball.  I’m sure these kids called him “Coach”, but that’s not really how he got the name.  At a ward basketball game, my dad was watching, but wasn’t the “Coach”.  If you have ever set with my dad at a game, he’s definitely shouting from the sidelines.  He’s pulling his hair out in anguish at all the mistakes he sees and you can bet he’s telling you about it.  He was giving his advice from the sidelines while the boys were playing.  Those teenage boys really didn’t want to hear what my dad had to say to them so it was more a derogatory comment of “Okay, Coach!  Sure, Coach!” My dad took it in stride and was happy to be called “Coach” which eventually became a name of endearment.

My father was very passionate about sports.  He would get frustrated with kids that wouldn’t follow his instructions.  He’d tell me about situations referring to extraordinarily talented kids and say, “If they’d just do what I say, they’d make a touchdown every time.”  “If they’d just do what I say, they’d make a basket every time.”  If they’d just do what I say, they’d get it over the net, they’d get a home run.” - and on and on. Maybe my dad was a little bit over the top when it came to his delivery from the sideline, but I have to give my dad some credit. He was really very gifted and had a lot of knowledge and skill. One legendary story we tell in our family happened  when I was in high school. We had an event called the “Stake Olympics”.  The church utilized the college for many of the competitions - swimming, track, etc.  One of the events was tennis.  My dad was working that day, but wanted to participate.  He got there just in time for the competition. He didn’t have time to change his clothes coming straight from work.  He was wearing his worn-out, grubby, long-legged, long-sleeved dungarees.  He couldn’t be cool dressed like that  - “not cool” in that he had to be really hot in those clothes, and “not cool” because he looked absolutely ridiculous; and to top it off he had on his steel-toed boots.  He didn’t have his racket, but borrowed one from someone at the event.  He won! He was absolutely amazing! Over 40 years old running the tennis court in that get-up with steel-toed boots. He won the whole thing. Maybe there wasn’t any “real” competition, but like I said - He won and he was absolutely amazing.

My father’s patriarchal blessing says he is a man ‘without guile”.  He was honest and forthright. His intent was not to hurt others, but to help them - in spite of his gruff exterior that he often exhibited.  We all know if you asked him how he was, he’d respond with, “Terrible!”  I asked him about that one time trying to explain to him that he was being negative instead of positive, but he countered that he was being honest.  He really didn’t feel very good.

One special thing my parents did together before they got too sick, was serve a mission.  My mom wanted to go to Nauvoo - where they performed and gave tours to tourist about the Church’s history there and my dad wanted to proselyte.  They got the best of both worlds first serving in Canton, IL for six months and then another six months in Nauvoo.  They enjoyed both situations. My father gave tours at the temple lot.  (There’s a temple there now, of course, but at the time it was the lot or, in other words, the location of where the original Nauvoo Temple stood.)  My dad would give a history of the site telling people about the persecution of the Saints and how the temple had been burned down, not to mention his testimony of this latter-day work.  But like always there is a special Spirit when it comes to temples.  My dad was on sacred ground.  When he came home from his mission he was quite emotional when he said these words, “I don’t know if I was for Nauvoo or if Nauvoo was for me.” Meaning - I went there to serve, but I got so much out of it. It was, no doubt, a humbling and sanctifying experience to serve there as a missionary in such a unique way.

I have heard from many people who have shared stories of home teaching and missionary experiences with my father.  I certainly can’t share them all, but I’d like to share one that represents my father’s doings in this area.  Our friend, Charlie Shackett, use to be a Lancaster resident many years ago. It’s an understatement when I say, Charlie loves baseball.  He’s played it his whole life, but he also looks on baseball in a very special way because of how he joined the Church.  With his permission I share with you this afternoon an excerpt from a talk he gave at a stake conference in 1995:

"The most important role that baseball has played in my life has not been the many wonderful lessons learned about good sportsmanship, setting and teaching goals, winning and losing, competition, interpersonal skills, and working as a team, but what has been most critically important has been the relationships that have influenced my life and the opportunity I’ve had to influence others through this great sport.

When my career began in little league I had an inspired and visionary coach that could see the potential in every individual player.  He made sure that we also saw it within ourselves.  Had it not been for this special and spiritual gift that my coach possessed, I would not have been chosen to play on the team. For you see, I wasn’t nearly as huge and well built for my age as you see me now.  I was rather on the small side, and not so sure what kind of ballplayer I could become.  My coach not only knew what kind of ballplayer I could be, but he knew what kind of person I could become.

His name was . . . “Bill” Reynders.  We just called him “Coach” . . . What he did for me was not just teach me sound fundamentals of the game at an early age, but he remembered me over ten years later in a moment of prayerful inspiration to send the missionaries to my home to teach me the fundamentals of this sacred Gospel.

From the moment the missionaries walked in my door and started to teach this troubled and confused nineteen year old about his desperate need for the Gospel, I knew that my life would never be the same.  After the first discussion I learned the steps of prayer for the first time in my life and was challenged by the missionaries to get on my knees in the solitude of my room before I went to bed, and ask Heavenly Father in the name of His Son Jesus Christ if the Gospel was true.  They promised me, without a doubt in their voice, that I would know that God lived, I would feel the presence of His spirit, and I would receive an answer in my heart to my sincere prayer.  They were right.  Through my first experience of prayer I gained a testimony that God did live, that Jesus was my Savior, and that the Gospel was true.  It proved to be one of my most spiritual and sacred experiences I have ever had in my life.

The next day when the missionaries heard of my experience, they were overjoyed to tears, and from that day began pumping me with daily discussions as quickly and powerfully as humanly possible.  I guess I was what they termed “Golden,” and in Southern California in the mid-seventies golden investigators were hard to come by.

In a matter of weeks I was challenged and ready for baptism.  As the two wonderful missionaries were verbally sparring as to which one would have the honors of baptizing me, I received a little inspiration of my own.  I looked up the number of my long lost “Coach” and gave him a call.  “Coach,” I said, “this is Charlie Shackett and I understand that you were the one that sent the Mormons over to see me.”  He was quiet and didn’t know how to respond.  “Coach, are you responsible for the Mormon missionaries coming over to my house?” I asked again.

He responded, “Well, yes Charlie, I did.”

I proudly asked, “Coach, I would like to know if you’re not too busy this Saturday if you would consider doing me the honor of baptizing me into the Church?”

Coach, not knowing what had transpired over the past few weeks was emotionally taken, but he responded, “I would love to.”

My life was changed by an inspired man that followed the prompting of the Spirit, that took a risk, and influenced a life.  Within two years of my baptism, I was teaching the Gospel to the wonderful Japanese people and had the opportunity to take many “Golden Investigators” down into the waters of baptism.

Shortly after my mission, I married my beautiful wife, Kim, in the Los Angeles Temple . . . [and I’ll add here - raising six children].  He continues . . .

We can make a difference in the lives of others.  How are we influencing those we interact with daily in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our callings, at our work, and in our lives?  I truly believe that what is really going to matter when we stand before God to account for how we lived our life, will be the influence for good that we have made in the lives of others while on this earth, and for the times that we followed the prompting of the Spirit, without fear of man and for the love of God and mankind."

At my mother’s funeral I said in one word that my mother was a “teacher”.  My father was a teacher too, but all in all, in one word, I would say my father was a “missionary”.  He once told me that he knew a girl that was a Mormon in Michigan.  He said, “She never shared anything about the gospel with me, but I’d like to think I would have listened if she had.”  My dad, didn’t like the idea of anyone not knowing the truth. He wanted everyone to have the joy the gospel brings. He was truly a champion for Christ even though dementia and old age took its toll on his body in the end.

In closing, I’d like to read the words of the song my father learned in his youth. I mentioned it earlier and I feel it tells his story, for he truly loved telling the story of Christ. (The words are by A. Katherine Hankey.  I’ll be sharing the 1st and 2nd verses followed by the refrain:)

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me;
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.

“Poppy, I love you!”

In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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)