Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

If you've been a friend or follower for awhile, you know I don't do Christmas cards or a cutesie newsletter.  I'm just not that creative and let's face it, I'm too lazy but I DO admire other's.  However, I have a tradition of a nice hand drawn family card and a quick update on the family.  Remember, if ya wanna add this to your collection on the fridge, simply print and tape it up with the rest of them.  Easy peasy!

First, Preston and Montana:  They've had a great year.  Preston has left the business of pimping Coke to now work for Learning Systems as an Internet Business Coach.  He commutes to Orem, but so far it hasn't become a nuisance.  Montana is being a cute stay at home mom with Addy.  They are always doing crafts, taking walks, reading and other fun adventures.  Addy is being the cutest three year old on the planet!  What a fun stage!  Everything she says is adorable and makes us laugh.  Maybe not her parents, but the rest of us laugh.  Perhaps the biggest and most exciting news to come from these kids is a new baby due after the start of the new year!  A sister for Addy!  Preston will be outnumbered but he's okay with that.  So far, Montana's pregnancy has been good, although she is now at the stage where she is ready to be done.  We're so happy for them and their family!

Next is Luke and Mindy:  This has been a banner year for them.  First and foremost, the blessing of their baby son Carter!  Ya'll know what a miracle this little guy was for them and we couldn't be happier.  He's a darling boy and it's been fun to watch them fall right into parenthood so naturally.  Her pregnancy and delivery went well and again we feel so blessed for them! Mindy is staying home with Carter and loving every minute of it, as well as enjoying good health.  Luke is now working for Blue Mountain Media as the Account Manager and is successful in all his endeavors with work.  They still live in Saratoga Springs and we take every chance we can to see them and love on that miracle baby boy!

Finally Corbin and Karalee:  Corbin has been focusing his energies on school and will graduate in May with his degree in Public Health and Administration.  I don't want to jinx him by saying that he'll graduate with a 4.0  but that's what he's been pulling so far.  He'll start his Masters program in the fall.  Karalee is still working for the dentist and loves the flexibility he offers her so she can be there for Chloee whenever she needs her.  She's also a running machine!  She did several races last year and will likely do more in 2017.  Chloee has grown so much!  She's nearly as tall as Karalee and I bet by this time next year she will have surpassed her.  She definitely got the tall gene.  She's doing great in 3rd grade, loves foxes and is excelling at the piano.

Splenda Daddy and I took a cruise in February, and then he has been buried in work.  He is still at Nature's Sunshine and the poor guy has been docking a lot of hours but hopefully by summer of next year, things will have been installed, markets will have opened and work life will quiet down for him.  He's still serving in the High Council and really loves the ward he has stewardship over.  I'm still working part time at Wasatch Running Center and love it.  I haven't run very much this year.  It's been one for the crapper.  But 2017 is looking bright and goals have been set, there is nowhere to go but up!
The two of us celebrated our 32 year anniversary this year and I have to say I am pretty proud of that number.  Not many this day and age, make it that far.  Eternity to go....

This time of year is always of time of reflection for me.  Christmas particularly is the time I reflect on my Savior and all that He is to me.  Without him, I am nothing.  I am grateful for His birth, His life, His atoning sacrifice for me and hope that I will live worthy of it.

Merry Christmas my friends!  May you also find some time to reflect on the things that are important to you!


Monday, August 8, 2016

Why I'm scared for surgery this week. Pain, doctor's, drug's and some other never before talked about stuff.

If you've been a follower of this blog for any amount of time, you know I run. A lot.  I'm a pretty active gal.  You also know I I have had some neck issues over the years and more recently a couple of surgeries.  You can get caught up here (scroll to the Splenda and mCat part of the Christmas update) I'll wait while you click.......

go ahead.......

just waiting......
(who knew that after this my life would go straight in the crapper?)

Okay.. so I had a couple of surgeries to fix my neck but unfortunately what happened after my surgery is far too common and sadly, not often talked about.

Pain.  Uncontrollable pain.  Pain that makes you stay in bed.  Pain that you hide and only share with your closest confidant's.  Pain that you get tired of talking about and rating.  Pain that becomes the unwanted partner in your marriage and the ugly family member no one wants. Pain that makes you watch the clock and count the minutes until it's time you can take more medication.  Pain that makes you want to sleep and never wake up.  Pain that makes you feel like death might be a better option.

After my surgeries, the pain I was experiencing wasn't getting better.  My surgeon was out of tricks.  He'd tried the medications he felt comfortable trying and was at a loss.  I decided to go back to my pain specialist who had helped me previously with some back issues and was successful.  He looked over the medications I was on and made changes to them, increasing doses and creating combinations that I later learned were deadly.

Relief. Yes. Finally some relief.  And I could function.  I could drive.  I could serve at the temple, fulfill my calling at church and even work very part time.  Sure I couldn't remember a darn thing.  Between the Gabapentin, the opiates, the benzodiazepines.... I had no memory and a foggy brain - but I could "function" and I was getting by with relatively minor pain.  I was even running a bit.

For a while.

And then gradually, the pain crept back...and with a vengeance.  Unrelenting.  As the pain increased so did my tolerance to the medication until we were doubling the doses.

Finally one night, a dear friend had a frank discussion with Splenda Daddy and me letting me know that the doses I was on, and the combination of things I was taking would have nothing but a bad ending.  It was time to do something or plain and simple - I would die.

With her help we found a place to take me inpatient to help me get off all these dangerous things..  There I learned that although I was taking the medication exactly as prescribed, my body/brain created conditions called hyperalegsia and allodynia (I'll provide links at the bottom to read about them).

I spent four days inpatient de-toxing from the drugs and then another couple of weeks while some of them continued to work their way out of my system.  It was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done.  And to this day, it's not easy.

Later this week I am facing surgery for a broken elbow and I have to admit, I'm scared.  I am a no narcotic girl.  There will be no Lortab or Percocet for me.  I can't take the chance that my body will kick back into hyperalegsia or if I even take them for a day or two, that I won't suffer withdrawal symptoms when I stop and I'm here to tell you - I don't wanna do that again!

So I'm scared.  I'm scared that when I wake up and the anesthsia wears off, I'll hurt.  I'm tired of pain.  So, so tired it.  I want my life back.  Pain free.  Fear free.

If you're so inclined, toss a prayer, good vibes, healing juju.... my way wouldja?


PS - If you or a family member is struggling with pain medication dependency, there is help.  Email me:  melissa.catmull@yahoo.com  I'll see if I can answer your questions or direct you to some help.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

PSS - this took a lot of bravery on my part to write and post.  Please don't judge me.  If you feel like you have something negative to say, go find somewhere else to say it.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people.  I try to be good people.



Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cucina's, Chef Joey Ferran, good friends ....a perfect night!

Okay, so I rarely gush over restaurants or food for that matter.  (Skittles and Peanut Butter M&M's don't count) but once I found out that my nephew is now the head chef at Cucina's, I recommended, or demanded  - whatever, that we go there for our next Bonco/Family Home Evening dinner.

So this delightfully fun place is right smack dab in the Avenues of Salt Lake City.  If you are familiar with the Ave's (as the locals call them) you know it's gonna be a cool place with a fun vibe.  And yes, it is!

Debbi had gotten there first and she sent me a picture to let me know they were already taking care of her and that my beverage would also be waiting for me.
(Debbi's hot tea, while my diet coke was on the way)
(while she was waiting Deb took pictures of the food in the counter displays)

(and of the menu - a little blurry)

From the time we walked in, we had people taking care of us.  Joey emerged from the kitchen to come give me a hug and then talk to all of us at the table.  He gave recommendations and discussed some of the dishes.  As I watched him talking, I could see that this man was clearly in his element, knew exactly what he was doing and that we were NOT going to be disappointed.
(what a looker huh? Runs in the family)

I chose a tapa, a salad and a main entree!  And yes, I have decided to go vegetarian for the most part, but when I saw a filet on the menu, I knew I was going to break that rule for just this evening.

The excellent serving staff got our beverages going, and then began the appetizers coming out from the kitchen.  Some we had ordered and some complimentary from the chef so we could enjoy some of the different options he has to offer.

There were some breaded cheese sticks with a sauce to dip them in, and no I didn't taste them, but based on the sounds coming from my table mates, they were delicious!  Everyone was hooked and eagerly awaiting to taste all the wonderful and different things we ordered.

Another appetizer came out.  Small baby beets with fennel and other things that were complimenting everything that I wish I could remember,  but OH MY GOSH!  They were delicious!  I could have ordered a couple plates of those and made that a meal!

My yummy cauliflower appetizer came out next.  They were also paired with some cashews in a spicy sauce with some kick that was just perfect.  I began to think, how does one even know HOW or WHAT flavors perfectly compliment others?  I was seriously amazed.

My salad came next.  A kale, quinoa, pine nuts, and dried cherries in a light vinaigrette dressing.  Yes, again, I could have made a meal of this!  So yummy.  So, absolutely delicious.

Before I go any further, let's talk about presentation.  I watch enough of the Food Network to know that much of a the appeal of a dish will be the presentation.  Joey has that nailed down.  Everything looked as beautiful as it tasted.  And that is an understatement, I just don't really have the words to do him justice.

Before we get to my entree, let me insert that everything was perfectly timed as it came out from the kitchen.  My beverage was always fresh and the serving staff was outstanding.

My entree:  a beautiful filet perfectly prepared and cooked to the precise medium well.  Smashed baby red potato's (not mashed - big difference), asparagus and served all in a wine sauce that was the perfect combination.  It could not have been put together in any other better way.

After talking with everyone else at the table and seeing their satisfaction with their entree choices as well, I knew we had a hit on our hands.  I was hoping that Joey would get an opportunity to come out and chat again with us if for no other reason than we could compliment him, and let him how perfectly satisfied every one of us was with the food that had been prepared for us.

At some point I took a minute to use the powder room facilities and look around.  Such a cute and perfectly Avenues style place.  There was a room off to the side for private parties and I could picture a wedding luncheon or dinner being held there.   A patio on the west side was beautiful and would be a place I would love to enjoy a long dinner and just enjoy the sights of the city.

As you know, I do not drink alcohol, but I did peruse the backside of the menu and boy do these guys offer so many selections.  I was pleased to see that the majority of the beer offerings were local drafts.  I love seeing a small business owner supporting and offering other small business owners and giving them opportunities to include their drafts.  For those of my friends who love a locally brewed beer, this would be the place to come and enjoy some. And....they cater!

As full as I was with all the food that I had experienced, dessert was not even a question.  The restaurant does have a local pasty chef who provides them with much of the dessert options but there are a couple that are made in house and of course, those were the options I wanted.  It was tough to decide between the creme brulee or the chocolate...... concoction (I can't remember what it was called, but it was something, besides the brulee, that Joey had his hands in making, so that was what I wanted. Knowing that my besties the Blands would order one of the other options, I went with the chocolate because we would share bites.  As besties do, you know.

Oh my heavens!  The chocolate, caramel, roasted almonds dish that came to me was HEAVENLY!  If you love chocolate - than this was it.  It was more of a dark chocolate but paired with the caramel, it balanced to the perfect taste of appeasing the sweet tooth in one, but not so sweet that you could only enjoy one bite.  It was perfectly sized as well.

Then I got to dip my spoon into the creme brulee.  Oh my heavens!  (yes I know I am repeating myself - oh well). It was no ordinary creme brulee, it was an orange ginger brulee.  So amazingly delicious.  I wish I had ordered both and thrown calories out the window.  They were simply divine!

As our experience wrapped up to a close, Joey came out, let me hug him AGAIN, and then shared with me some of his ideas with the menu, the seasonal changes, his ideas going forward, etc.  He noted that he has many regulars that come in several times a week and even though he has been there for a short time, he is developing some wonderful relationships with his customers.

As I thought about it, I realized that it's kind of a lost art.  The art of the small, neighborhood restaurant with familiar staff and patrons that develop friendships that make the entire experience much more than just a meal.  It made me think of Little Italy in Boston.  The small restaurants owned by usually family, with home cooked food that become regular places for people to enjoy a meal, a glass of wine (if they choose) and relax with friends.   I loved it.  No pager, no call ahead seating, no waiting in line......  just enjoying a perfect meal all in the calm atmosphere with good friends and great staff.  I don't want to lose that art in the hustle and bustle of a busy world of chain restaurants.

I am so proud of Joey and all his accomplishments.  I asked him how he could possibly think of all the ways to combine flavors that would perfectly compliment each other.  His answer was a simple one:  "Experience".  And yes, he does have quite the experience.  And let's not forget the innate, God given talent to have the taste buds and the artistic nature to put it together in a beautiful plate of perfectly prepared wonderfulness.

So yes, I have gushed.  And then gushed some more, but there is no other way for me to describe what a wonderful experience I, and my FHE besties, had Monday night.  Cucina's is now at the top of my list of favorite's.  I would like to say it's not just because of Joey, but it is indeed BECAUSE of Joey.  His experience, his dishes, his art that he chooses to share with the rest of us.  That art is what makes it my favorite.  He is indeed a very talented chef.  And I am lucky enough to be his favorite Aunt (lol) (but seriously).

So, if you are in the SLC area and looking for something different, creative, has an awesome vibe, local drafts, and outstanding food, then Cucina's is for you.  I imagine that reservations are preferred for large groups and for weekends, but don't let that fool you into thinking that this as any other feel than a comfortable, low-key, cool as ever place.

And you can always tell the chef that Aunt M sent you.

*I wanted to provide a link to the restaurant home page, but it hasn't been updated yet and until it has been, just take my word for it.  Go, enjoy and you're welcome.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cystic Fibrosis, Miracles, and Family

A wonderful surprise in my Facebook newsfeed.  My sweet kids didn't tell us that they had been interviewed for an article in an LDS magazine but it's worth sharing here.

If you doubt there is a God.
If you doubt that miracles still happen.
If you doubt that even if there is a God, that He knows you and knows your righteous desires?

Doubt no more.  He does.  He loves you, He knows you, and just as when a sparrow falls, He notices and understands you.

This I know.  I know it as well as I take my next breath.  I know it.

Link to the article HERE.

**Can't wait for September and getting my arms around this little miracle man on the way.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Why I am back to posting on my blog and some random LDS Conference thoughts

First of all, I haven't posted in awhile.  Blogging it seems has been long gone and ignored with the advent of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I totally get it.  I am immensely grateful for the amazing friendships that began because of blogging - without those people in my life, it would be less fulfilling, so blogging certainly had it's purpose for me back in the day.  I also began it as a way to journal my life and if in the process any of my posts were enjoyable to others, made them laugh, made them think, or inspired them, then great.  The main motive was to journal.

And then I stopped.

I got to connect with the same friends (and more) on FB, IG and Twitter and I completely ignored my journal.

Shame on me.

Splenda Daddy and I attended a Family Research clinic a few weeks ago and the keynote speaker made a statement (now I can't find my notes) that resonated with me.  It was something to the effect that it was important for us to leave our own written legacy.  She talked of how much people get excited when they find stories or journal entries from their ancestors and she reminded us that if we don't provide these from ourselves, our children, their children, their children and so on, will miss that same joy.  I made a mental note that I would come back to my blog.  Dust it off and begin posting.  Purely for the purpose of journaling.  Again, I'll keep it public so that if it amuses or inspires someone else, great, if not - okay.   If I feel prompted that I need to be proactive in sharing it, then I can always link it to FB but I don't have to.  Make sense?

This weekend was the semi annual General Conference of the church I belong to: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (better known as Mormon's - link is here if you need more clarification)

As a kid, I loved when conference weekend was here because that meant not actually going to church on Sunday, but instead watching it on tv in our jammies.  At the same time, I felt like it draaaagggggeeed on forever and I got SO bored.  I would love it when my mom would fall asleep and I could quietly do something else.

Now as an adult with a stronger testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and wanting to learn more, I LOVE conference weekend.  The Saturday previous, we have a session just for Women and young women ages 8 and up.  Then this weekend, two sessions on Saturday, a session on Saturday night for men and boys ages 12 and up (Priesthood Session) and then on Sunday, two more sessions.  I know it sounds like a lot and as a kid it felt like it was sooooooo long.   Until a few years ago, I wasn't giving the Saturday sessions the attention I should have either.  I would still run, or do chores around the house, or plan things with friends or run errands. The last couple of sessions, I have felt compelled to be more respectful and even though I can always go on line and watch a session or a talk later, I wanted to be obedient in the way that I felt I should (not judging anyone else who does things differently) and ignore doing things during the Saturday sessions, and actually sit and watch them live.  Funny as an adult I now feel like I want Conference to last longer.  I want more of it!
Amazing what maturity can do eh?

In the past few years or so, I have been taking notes during the sessions.  Jotting down quotes or ideas or thoughts that come to me as someone is speaking.  The bad thing is, I don't always remember to write down who said what.  But for me, that is less important than what I felt inspired to jot down. I suppose if it's that important for someone to track down the exact person who said what, they or I, can always go back and rewatch conference.

So my notes and thoughts in no particular order:

"We've come to deepen our discipleship" (open prayer in Saturday session given by Linda K Burton.  Man that really set the tone for me.  Yes.  I want to deepen my discipleship.  This is the path I have chosen, I want to walk it straight, narrow and unflinchingly.  Deepen my discipleship indeed.

"You can have what you want, or you have something better"  My thoughts went to my health issues.  It seems the past two years have been nothing but pain, surgeries, more pain, looking for answers to relieve it and several different attempts with different injections.  What I want is no more pain.  What I want is to get back to the life I had.  Running every day, working at the running store, racing as much as I could afford, picking up my grandgirls, and being able to play with them the way I want to.
However, the Lord knows what lies ahead.  Perhaps, this inconvenience in my life right now with my neck and back is merely a bump in the road to something better.  And I want something better, so I can handle this right now.

"The Lord is in the details"  Amen.  I see it every day in my life and the lives of those I love.

"Don't be a victim twice by not forgiving"  I loved this talk on forgiveness.  If you think about it, there is ALWAYS someone in your life that you need to extend the mercy of forgiveness too.  Let it go man.  Loved the "don't be a victim twice".

Not an exact quote but it was something about:  Don't/Can't be defined by the worse thing we've ever done.  I think this applies to ourselves and to others.   Let go of the mistakes we've made in the past, move forward and let others do the same.

"Genuine concern should be for the success of others"  Truly learning how to be happy for others and not allowing envy or jealousy to creep in, is great advice.  Working on that one.

"Stop causing the Lord further grief"  This one hit me hard.  Daily, I know that I am screwing up in some way and giving the Lord more grief, but I also thought of this on a world basis.  Has our societies in every region of the world become so wicked that the Lord grieves over us?  I think so.  I can't change the world, but I can change my own behavior and I can try harder each day to make sure my actions or thoughts don't add "further grief"

"The greater the distance between the giver to the receiver, the more the receiver gains a sense of entitlement"  Wow.  At first, I thought of it politically.  And then realized that it was highly doubtful the speaker meant for it to be taken that way.  Instead I listened more carefully as he used it to describe all that the Savior has done and given us, and if we become distant from Him, soon we may grow to feel entitled to His gift.  I took it as a reminder to me to stay closer to the Lord who has given me so much.

In the second session on Saturday, they begin with the business of the church.  Such as sustaining the leaders and a general accounting for funds and noting the number of missions, temples, missionaries, and members.  As they began with the sustaining of the President and his counselors, one has the opportunity to raise their right hand in a show of sustainment or can openly oppose.  Only one time when I was growing up, do I remember any opposition.  And it was from women and I can't even remember why.  Other than that, there has been unanimous consent in the conference center and for those of us that raise our hand to the square while watching at home or listening in the car.  However, the past several sessions, there have been people in the conference center who openly shout "NO" when asked for any opposing.  I can't even describe how it makes my heart hurt.  At the same time, I am grateful that we are free to speak our minds in the church, ask questions etc. yet it bothered me that someone who doesn't believe, or has an anti-LDS agenda in mind, or who just wants to be contentious would go to the effort of getting a ticket to the conference center for that session (which are hard to come by) just simply to temporarily bring a spirit of contention.  To say to those men who work so hard on behalf of a church of over a million members, NO I don't sustain you.  Why not just stay home?  Why not write a letter spelling out your differences and asking for enlightenment if you want it?  If the church isn't for you, why not just leave and go on with your life?  It felt unfair for those people who missed out on that session in the conference center so that person(s) could be contrary.  But then again, the thought of the invaluable gift we have of free agency.  The person at the pulpit noted the "No's" and encouraged those persons to meet with their stake presidents.  Which I doubt will happen but they did have the right to say what they felt and I am grateful we have that.  Again, it hurt my heart but sometimes the actions of others will do that to us.  In the end, we have the wonderful gift of free agency, and one day I may have to stand up and say YES in a crowd of people who have NO on their minds.  I will be grateful that I can.

"The restoration of the church began with the youth.  Joseph Smith asking a question"  My ears perk up any time someone speaks of the youth.  With my new calling of Young Women's president in my ward (parish) I feel a strong responsibility to do the right things for the young women in my stewardship.  I'm always seeking inspiration so when someone brings up the youth - I sit up a little straighter.  Yes, the church was founded by a young man.  Dang, if the youth of today are not the strongest I have ever seen.  Please don't ever underestimate the power for good that can come from a young man or young woman.

"Knowing someones name can make a difference"  I am horrible at names!  I frequently even call some of my young women by their sister's name or even throw in a mom's name.  I will work harder on this for sure!  Having someone know you by name DOES make a difference.  It makes you a real person!  The Lord knows my name. That makes a difference.

"Reach out to those youth are 'behind the fence'"  Again, as a YW leader my thoughts went to the girls I have that are hanging out on the other side of the fence.  I make efforts to reach out, but there is more I can do.

"Don't delay going to the rescue. Never give up. 'How great will be you joy if you bring but one soul unto Christ; No matter our age, we are called to go to the rescue"   Loved this whole talk.  There are friends, family members, strangers who are, in their hearts, wanting more in their lives.  It's our responsibility to share the gospel and invite them to enjoy the blessings of it.  And again, they have that beautiful gift of free agency to either accept it or not, but ours is the responsibility to offer.  And what about those who died without the opportunity to choose the gospel?  That's what our temple work is for.  Just because we do the ordinances in the temple for someone who has passed on they are still free to choose it or not.  What a wonderful gift!  It's just our responsibility as members to offer the gospel to everyone.  Living and dead.

"Why did the restoration have to happen here in the US instead of someplace like Brazil?"  OH MY GOSH!!!  I loved that question, since I have often had the same one rolling around in my head.  If one reads the Book of Mormon and accepts it as scripture, then one must also accept the prophet Joseph Smith.  When it comes to his translation of the Book of Mormon, he was perfect in that assignment,  That leads one then to understand why the restoration had to take place here in the US, because the plates on which the scriptures were engraven on, were hidden here.  So yeah, that makes sense to me.  Loved his talk and his testimony that answered my questions and strengthened mine.

"ongoing cleansing of sin by the power of the Holy Ghost"  that happens by taking the Sacrament each week.  What a blessing that we have that opportunity to start fresh each week. "to sanctify is to make pure and holy"  During the blessing on the Sacrament, it is blessed to sanctify.  We then, when we partake, can become sanctified.  Love those thoughts.

"Family Council is different than Family Hone Evening"  Well, we sucked at both when raising our boys and sometimes I really beat myself up over that when they were younger.  However, one thing that was super important to Splenda Daddy was that everyone was at the dinner table.  Every night.  It didn't matter if you already had dinner, you came and sat with us anyway.  Talking was done. Calendering was taken care of.  I am going to have to say that was our attempt at a Family Council and Family Home Evening :)   I know families are busy but if it wasn't important, it wouldn't have been discussed.  Even with just Splenda Daddy and me, we can do a Family Council together.  Let me rephrase:  we SHOULD do Family Council together.

Speaking to couples "Never retire without kneeling together, holding hands, and saying your prayers"  I know that when Splenda and I have been obedient to that counsel, it has made a difference.  Yet another SHOULD that I am adding to our list.

The church of Latter Day Saints is now 15.6 million members.  That's a lot of people.  A lot.  Can we get to 16 million by next conference?  Strange that I feel a kinship with 15.6 million people, most of whom I've never met.  That's how the gospel of  Jesus Christ works.  Brings strangers together.

"Choose the harder right than the easier wrong"  President Monsen.  Such a powerful statement.  And while the prophet didn't look the exact picture of health, his voice was strong and steady as he said thees words.  Loved it.

"Get the gospel from our heads into our hearts"  So true. As members we can get caught up in doing the things that we do without letting the purpose or the meanings sink into our hearts.  Something I really want for my Young Women too.

"Your greatest challenge is the ever present 'great and spacious building;"  Yup.  The world around us and all it's distractions is our greatest challenge.  So many things to do other than the things that we SHOULD be doing.

"Learn - attend the temple;  Listen to my words - heed the prophet; Walk in the meekness of my Spirit"    Learn,Listen,Walk.  I felt like he gave me a simple three step recipe since we all know I can't cook and if something involves more than about 3 instructions, I'm a lost cause.
Learn all I can about the gospel - there is always more to learn
Listen to the prophet and the disciples - they are constantly giving guidance
Walk - now go and do the things you learn.

"Challenges are an indication of the Lord's trust in you"  Wow.  Imagine how I felt about that one.  I think of my challenges but then I also thought of the many challenges of dear family members and friends and felt peace in the fact that the Lord must trust us and that I don't want to disappoint or lose that trust from Him.

Mirrors - see yourself in the temple.  I think me and every other Young Women leader had the same idea for an activity.

"Obedience is the lifeline"  Yes.  Yes it is.  And when I feel like I'm sinking, I have to reevaluate how hard I am hanging onto the lifeline.

I was touched by the brother who with tears and a choked up voice prayed for the health of our prophet during the opening prayer of the last session.

Got a reminder that only the prophet receives revelation for the church at large.  We can receive inspiration and revelation for ourselves, and those in our stewardship, but that's it.  I cannot receive revelation for my neighbor or for the church itself.

Encourage our family to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  I was reminded of something that I once heard in a church meeting.  The best thing we can do for our children is to pray that they will be worthy of the Holy Ghost to be their companion and that they would heed his promptings.  Bottom line, if we are in tune with the Spirit, and follow his promptings, we can't go wrong.  How lucky are we that we can have the Holy Ghost with us at all times.

"Open your heart to the Book of Mormon"  I love the Book of Mormon and loved this reminder.

After a particular moving talk about helping refugees in our lives, President Uchtdorf got up to announce the rest of the session.  To see the tears running down his face and see his emotion after that talk, knowing his own life story of being a refugee, was one of the better moments of conference.  It was like a silent testimony and "amen" to the counsel that was just given to us.  Now my challenge is to see how in my realm of my ability, I can aid refugees.  Interesting that when that particular speaker began, he clearly stated his comments had nothing to do with any particular political leaning.  Of course some people ignored his counsel and read way more into it than I believe he intended.

"He will consecrate our afflictions for our gain"   I'm counting on that one.  I am putting my faith in that.  What a wonderful thought.

"We need the temple more than anything else"  That is a pretty bold statement and I will add my own Amen to it.  I love the temple and I love the blessings that it brings into my life and the life of my children.

"Everything we do in the church leads us to the temple"  More emphasis on temples (at least in my notes)  As I think about it - yes.  Everything we do leads us to the temple.  Everything we ever need for now and eternity is found in the temple.

"We get credit for trying even if we don't succeed"  Elder Holland.  I think I have seen more facebook meme's with this quote than any other.  Obviously, it meant a lot to others as well.  We try, we try.  In everything, Our parenting, our jobs, our hobbies, and most importantly in our efforts to be obedient and a better disciple of Jesus Christ.  And sometimes we fail.  We lose our cool with one of our children, we make a costly mistake for our employer, we don't train and miss a goal in our hobby, and most importantly, we have days that we are less than the best disciple.  Maybe we got caught up in some gossip, we don't read our scriptures, or skip our prayers, we decide to spend more time on the computer instead of using that window of time to go to the temple, we fail to reach out to someone who is on our minds, but using some excuse of another.  We try every day, but there are times when we are going to make mistakes.  It is nice to be reminded that we still get credit when we at least try.  Now the important thing is to evaluate your own "try".  Don't justify anything away saying, oh well, I'll get credit because I "tried".  We know when we are really "trying" and when we are not.   That is the credit to which I feel like Elder Holland meant.

"The Lord blesses those who try to improve"  Elder Holland.  I could put his whole talk here, it was that good.  Again, encouragement to so many members who continually try and still face many challenges and heartaches.  The Lord knows our effort and He will bless us accordingly.

I had one more note but I can't read my own handwriting now.  I think I was crying too hard during Elder Holland's talk and was trying to write fast and now I can only assume that it was an important thought to me at the time and that's enough.
(I tell you, when he speaks, I feel like he is looking at me and talking just to me)

And just like that conference was over.  It felt like Christmas morning after the last present has been unwrapped.  Like a kid, I was left wanting more.  Lucky for me, I still have the Priesthood session to watch and with the blessing of technology, I can go back and listen/watch again and again the talks that I feel like were just for me (which is like- all of the them) and I can use them to double down my own personal efforts for now at being a better disciple.


PS - I love writing again - even though I'm not that great, and I promise that just because I am back to posting on my blog  - not every post will be this loooooonnnnggggg.

PSS - If you are interested in any of the LDS General Conference, you can find the talks here