July 31, 2010

Day 6: To See The Saints, Their Rest Obtain

Sorry, I was traveling back to Salem yesterday and I never had a chance to post, so my day 6 and 7 posts are both coming today. Oh, and did I mention Day 5 was my 100th post? Crazy, huh? Anyway, on to more important matters. :)

I love technology. (Cue Kip singing from Napoleon Dynamite.) I really do. iPods are probably one of my favorite inventions because I can bring my music library with me wherever I go, and that's a big deal to me. I love listening to music throughout the day, especially while driving. But yesterday, as a 4.5 hour drive loomed ahead of me, (which ended up being more like 6 hours due to traffic. Grrr.) my soul craved something a little different than music. I wanted to listen to General Conference. And so I did. October 2009 General Conference, to be exact. And whenever the MoTab would start singing, I would sing along too. They sang one of my favorite songs (and one of my favorite versions of the song) as I was listening yesterday- Come, Come Ye Saints. I couldn't finish the song, however, because I had tears streaming down my cheeks and my throat was constricting as I attempted to thwart the sobbing I knew would ensue. (Even alone, I try not to look and sound like an idiot while crying. The song, "You're So Vain" suddenly comes to mind.) The part that got me sobbing like a 2 year old was, "And should we die before our journey's through, happy day, all is well. We then are free from toil and sorrow too. With the just, we shall dwell. But, if our lives are spared again, to see the saints their rest obtain, oh how we'll make this chorus swell, All is Well, All is Well." The choir sang this song right after President Uchtdorf had given his talk on love. The whole message of his address was telling the saints that we should be known for our love toward others. I loved that talk. It seriously brought some things into perspective for me. When I was at BYU-Idaho, I had the opportunity to really learn about service. It was there that I gained a testimony of service. It seemed as though I was surrounded by opportunities to love and help others. I look at my life right now and realize, I am seriously lacking in the charity department. I am way to focused on me and my life. I need to stretch myself. I need to see that there are still opportunities to serve out there, but they may not be so readily available as they were while I was in college. So that line, "to see the saints, their rest obtain" hit me with extra force yesterday as I realized, "who have I given rest to lately? Who have I helped and made their life easier? Have I done any good in the world today?" I felt like a serious slacker. And then, I checked my mail last night, where a thank you note appeared from my dear sister in law, Hillary. I then realized, ok, I'm not a horrible person. I do think of others sometimes. Just not frequently enough. As Glenn Beck challenged us, develop faith, hope and charity, I kind of forgot about that last one. I focused on Faith and Hope. But, starting today, charity is going to become a daily part of my life again.

Rebekah at the Well. The picture that hung in my bedroom as a teenager and inspired me to serve.

July 29, 2010

Day 5: Strength Beyond My Own

Rexburg Idaho Temple {source}

Growing up, my mom would almost always have the seminary video soundtracks playing in the van as she ran us kids around or did her errands. Being the youngest in the family, I was usually with her, and I grew to love those different Cd's. If you know me at all, you know I love music. And even more than that, I love to sing along to the music. I can recall numerous times when my mother would say, "how on earth can you memorize a song so fast but you can't memorize your (insert school subject here) notes for your test??" It still baffles me too, Mom. :) I quickly developed favorite songs from these various seminary Cd's, and the one that comes to mind today is from the Doctrine and Covenants CD, "Strength Beyond My Own". The song is about my favorite gospel topic- Temples.

As I hit college, I was convinced that I was going to go to the temple at a young age. Not because I was going to get married young, but because I felt like I needed to go through the temple at a young age. I clearly remember the summer of 2007, I was still 19 and had this great desire to receive my endowment. I talked to my bishop about it and he told me he felt it wasn't the right time for me. I was so sad. I wanted so badly to go through the temple and start receiving those promised blessings, but it just wasn't working out for me! Thank goodness I had such a wonderful and inspired bishop who knew, far better than I, that I wasn't ready. And because of that, my first experience within those hallowed walls was one I will never forget. I hold my first time through the temple so dear to my heart. And I was ready.

As I was reflecting on the words to the song, I thought of the line, "in the refuge of the Temple, I find strength beyond my own." That got me to thinking of all the times I have been to the Temple and the things I was learning while there. And what stuck out to me most were the blessings that I have called upon so many times in my life and how quickly I have felt that strength beyond my own helping me through a particularly difficult day. We are so blessed to have temples in our midst that we can go to and worship in. The blessings we receive are invaluable! I am so grateful for wonderful parents who taught, by example, the importance of the temple and have instilled in me a great love for that sacred edifice. We really do find strength beyond our own when we attend the temple.

July 28, 2010

Day 4: Family

Marcus and Ashley's Wedding 2007

Today, I got a phone call from my mom. My car has been in the shop getting the A/C fixed, along with other various problems (hate car problems by the way) and it is now finished. She called to see when I wanted her to pick it up for me, being that I am out of town. That simple act reminded me of what an awesome family I have. They are so willing to do things for me whenever I ask (or don't ask). Another example: I sent a rent check to Dallin and my apartment complex at the beginning of this month and somehow, it got lost in the mail. Well, we weren't aware of this until the apartment complex called us and said that our 72 hour eviction notice was being issued because of a lack of rent. (They don't mess around, huh? :)) We were in priest lake at the time, with no real way to get a check to them in the amount of time they needed, so I called Marcus and Ash, who live in Salem, and they immediately went to the rental office and paid our rent for us. Kind of a big deal. And these two instances are just two of the MANY acts of service my family renders to me. I feel so incredibly lucky to have a wonderful family and wonderful in-laws who are constantly serving me in so many different ways. Thank you to all my family members, I love you all!!

Priest Lake 2010

July 27, 2010

Day 3: My Prince Charming

Dallin and I First Christmas 2008

I haven't seen much of this guy this summer. It's kind of been a whirlwind. I call myself a "farmer's widow" during this time of year, because, in all honesty, it's few and far between when we have time together. A lot of nights it's me going to bed before he gets home and waking up after he's already left to go back out. And, I'll be honest, it gets hard sometimes. But this summer has been so much better than last year. The reason? Attitude. My attitude. It changed this year. I'm not going to toot my own horn and pretend like there aren't moments of frustration, because there still are those moments. But they are fewer and farther between. And I am grateful that I have a greater perspective this year. It's made life a whole lot easier.

This post, however, wasn't to tell you about how Dallin's gone a lot though, it's about how grateful I am for him. I'm in Ellensburg, currently, watching my two youngest siblings-in-law, and I decided to look through all of Dallin's pictures from when he was growing up today. As I looked at him through all the years, I couldn't help but fall a little more in love with him. He is the perfect other half for me. I needed someone like him to keep me sane! He teases me and has such a light-hearted attitude, but he also knows when to be serious. He's my rock and my example, the one I look to and am inspired by. He lives in such a way that makes me want to be better. And I love him for all those reasons. He's what gets me through the thick and the thin, the happy and sad, the good times and bad times. I will be forever grateful that on a random March evening he, on a whim, decided to give me a second chance and call. Today (well, actually, most days :)) I am grateful for an amazing husband.

July 26, 2010

Day 2: Sleep, You Say? Totally Over-Rated.

Saturday night found us driving from Salem to Pasco in the wee hours of the night for a mission farewell in which Dallin, Bradley, Bryce and Derek would be playing their violins. Trying to be a supportive wife, I stayed awake for the 4+ hour trip to ensure Dallin would stay awake. That meant my head didn't hit the pillow at my parents house until 4:45 am, Sunday morning. And then we woke up 4 hours later at 8:45 to get ready for church. 4 hours of sleep for a pregnant lady isn't what I would call ideal, but I made it through church without a hitch (even had a wonderful spiritual experience, which I talked about here.) Then, as I attempted to take a nap Sunday afternoon, my body just didn't feel like cooperating. Frustrated, I finally pulled myself out of bed and figured I would just stay awake until that evening when, I was sure, sleep would overcome me. Fast forward to 2:00 AM as I am fighting back tears of frustration that my right leg is numb and every inch of my body itches and the other million things preventing me from drifting off into a soundless sleep. At this point of great anxiety, I realized, so foolishly, that I had neglected to say my prayers that evening before falling into bed. As I cried out to my Father in Heaven in ultimate frustration, my nerves were calmed and suddenly, it seemed, the alarm clock was ringing for me to awaken. As soon as my eyes opened, new tears formed in my eyes, tears of utmost gratitude to a loving Heavenly Father who heard the cries of a very ungrateful child. As He does so often, He answered my prayer immediately, as though waiting for me to just humble myself a little and realize I needed Him. Once again, my testimony of prayer and my testimony of how much I depend on my Heavenly Father and Savior were strengthened. Isn't it funny how those lessons we so desperately need to learn come in the most unexpected ways?

July 25, 2010

Day 1: "Hope Guides Me. It Is What Gets Me Through The Day and Especially Through the Night."

A couple of days ago, my SIL, Hillary, echoed the challenge recently given by Glenn Beck to better our lives and to find out what we really believe. I've been thinking about that challenge and realized it is just what I need in my life right now. I need to, ask Beck says, question with boldness those things which I believe. I need to have a firm belief in the things I have stood for all my life. With a child coming into our home in a little over 3 months, the daunting task of being the kind of mother who knows has been weighing heavily on my mind.

Today, as I attended sacrament meeting for church (want to know more about my church? Click here.) I was struck deeply by the words that we were singing. I can guarantee I have sung this hymn a few dozen times in my life, but today, the words just seemed to jump off the page at me. I felt like the Lord was sending me a personal invitation to come to Him. Here are the particular phrases that caught my eye. (The hymn was hymn #185, Reverently and Meekly Now.)

"Think what I for thee have done"
"I have ransomed even thee."
"Oh, remember what was done that the sinner might be won"
"Bid thine heart all strife to cease; with thy brethren be at peace."
"And my Spirit's grace shall be like a fountain unto thee."
"At the throne I intercede; for thee ever do I plead. I have loved thee as thy friend, with a love that cannot end."

And, my favorite line, the line that hit me with such power today-

"And, be CONSTANT unto me, that thy Savior I may be."

As I sung those words, I felt like the Savior was pleading with me to remember all that He had done for me. But then, I realized, He didn't want me to just meerly remember it, He wanted me to USE that atonement in my life. He wants me to be constant in my pursuit of perfection. He wants me to continually work toward being the person He knows I can become. It was one of those beautiful moments of clarity that only happen once in a while, but moments that I look back on and cherish. Moments like those, where suddenly, things don't seem quite so hard or so dismal, but hopeful. So, as I take my personal trek toward finding out who I really am and what I really believe, I will remember the hope that I felt today.

July 23, 2010

Reunited and It Feels So Good!

Well folks, we're back in Salem. And quite honestly, it feels good. This place is starting to feel like home. Which is weird. But a good weird. I had my first doctors appointment with my new doctor down here and I love him. He is awesome. I am so grateful to my wonderful visiting teacher, Jana, who recommended him. You're an angel Jana!

In other news, I have three teenage boys living with me right now. If you saw the size of our apartment, you might wonder how that is even possible, but we're making it work. I just feel bad because they literally have NO room to even turn around in here. I hope they all still like me by the end of this. Luckily I have the apartment all to myself during the day, and they're out in-the-middle-of-nowhere, Oregon raking, baling and stacking, so we all have a little freedom during the day. :) Night times get a little crazy with all of us packed in here though. Needless to say, it's been a good experience thus far (all two days of it :)) and like I said, I hope they all still like me by the end of this. :)

And guess what? 26 weeks today. It feels like time is flying for me with this pregnancy. I'm feeling good, starting to get a little more uncomfortable at night, but other than that, life is good. I really can't complain.

Last piece of news- for any of you that are familiar with the Salem area, you know that Commercial street is a very busy street. Lots of traffic. Well, as I was driving home from Marcus and Ashley's house yesterday, I saw a guy on a horse riding down Commercial street. It. Was. Awesome. Salem never ceases to keep me thoroughly entertained. I love this place. Horses and all.

Ok, I lied. Not the last piece of news. Bryce and Andrea got married last week and here are a few pictures of the Ellensburg reception! Enjoy them :)

Standing in line!

Bryce and Andrea Dancing

Another one of them dancin.

Andrea and her dad dancing. Isn't this so stinkin cute?

July 17, 2010

I Bleed Blue

Have you ever met those super hardcore sports fans? You know, the ones who will love and support their "chosen team" no matter how horrible or amazing the season may be? I'm not one of those people. I'll admit, I have teams I favor, like Gonzaga for basketball and BYU for football, but all in all, win or lose, I'll still be Ashley at the end of the day. My year won't be ruined if the Zags didn't make it to the Elite 8 when the NCAA tournament rolled around, or if the Cougs weren't named the Mountain West Conference Champions. All that being said, I'll still tell anyone that I Bleed Blue and I love my BYU cougars. :)

So why, you ask, am I talking about the sports teams I enjoy watching? Because of this- a few months back, my mom decorated my nieces Julia and Giorgia's room for them. Apparently, their older brother, Jackson, felt like their room was so well decorated, it "look[ed] like a hotel room". Who knew a sports obsessed 10-year old kid could care about whether a room was decorated or not, but he did. And of course, my mom loves a decorating challenge, so she decided to decorate Jackson's room in BYU themed everything. Jackson REALLY bleeds blue. He LOVES his Cougars and would be happy to wear all things BYU all the time, I am sure. So, to go along with this newly decorated BYU themed room, my mom thought it would be fun for both the boys, Jackson and Harrison, to have pictures of themselves in their BYU attire hanging above their beds. Me being the picture taking enthusiast that I am, offered to take their pictures for them and here's how they turned out. I hope you will enjoy them. :)

Oh, and we have a new picture at the top of our blog from Priest Lake this year. One of the few pictures I was actually in. :)

July 12, 2010

Lions, Tigers? Nope. But Bears! OH MY!

Last week marked the annual Jeff and Valerie Calaway family trip to Priest Lake and it was a blast, as usual. We were there from Sunday to Saturday and the only rain we got was on our trip up to the lake. Beautiful weather, lots of tubing, skiing, and wake boarding (none done by me, of course) and laying out to get tan (read: red) was what the week consisted of. And, as always, good food and great company. The only difference in our trip this year was. . . a bear. Oh yes. A bear. We were sitting down one night, watching a movie and suddenly I looked to the back porch and there's a cuddly little (read: large) black bear walking across the porch. No big deal. My first reaction was to lock the doors. Please, laugh. I did after I realized the absurdity of that thought. I don't think a locked door would keep a disgruntled, or hungry for that matter, bear out of a house. Luckily, this was about the most docile bear that ever was to be seen and he was out of there so fast we didn't even get a picture. Darn it. Other than that, we had a very uneventful, relaxing week. And here are the pictures to prove it. :)

Warning: Lots of pictures ahead!

Oh, and these are in no particular order, by the way.

Dallin, Blaine and Devin on the Molecule

Colton loved "Ja-nosh" (Janelle)'s sunglasses and decided to sport em one of the days, along with his awesome wetsuit, which Derek and Bradley wore when they were little guys.

He had just finished saying "Good yuck!" And giving me a thumbs up. So cute.

Hillary, Blaine and Colton about to go tubing. Colton was the one to request the tube ride. I was impressed. He acutally loved it.

Blaine and Colton on the tube

The gym you ask? Oh, it's that way.

I feel like this caption should read "NACHOOOOOOOOO!" :)

Bradley decided it'd be cool to ride the tube upside down. And no, he never fell off. I know, miraculous!

Dallin and Bradley look a little bored... hmmm...

Just strikin a pose, playin it cool.

Dallin skiing

Skiing again!

A close up of the skiier. :)

A crazy jump that Dallin made.

Dallin and Hillary

Have you noticed how I am in none of these pictures? It's what happens when you're 6 months preggars and on a boating trip. :)

Devin waterskiing

Devin's sweet mullet that he just cut yesterday. We're kinda sad, we liked it :)

Dallin on the tube and havin fun!

Just chillaxin before the real fun began. :)

And there you have it. Our Priest Lake adventure! With no pictures of me. :) Oh, and by the way, I'm 24 weeks! 6 months! Woo-hoo!