Monday, September 22, 2014

With All Our Love

Dear Boys,

I miss looking at your cute faces! Please send pictures! I would love to see you together eating, home teaching, at school, working football games…I need to see you!

I went looking for you on Twitter, Hunter, and found a few tweets! “Best part of my job? I can't decide between getting paid to stay on the field for the game, or escorting the players to and from locker room at halftime. I love it! ‪#‎BYUfootball‬‬” Or, “Trying to do calculus homework.....Dave, you did not prepare me!” My favorite? “Didn't plan on sleeping for only 3 hours the first day of classes, but I am still running....barely.” Didn’t hear about that! And of course, “Every night I think it can't be topped, and it happens the next night every time…#IloveBYU!” I would be a bit concerned but you haven’t been on in three weeks, so I assume your priorities are in order…at least we got to talk tonight!

I began the week Monday working on retrieving the remaining bricks, and ended the week with a bad case of some poison ivy / poison oak. Hate this stuff! It’s miserable waking up in the middle of the night scratching. Sure wish we had filled the steroid prescription we had in our pockets for working on Grampy’s wood. This too shall pass! While working on rocks and drainage and leaves and such, I picked up a rock and found a snake! It looked like a small rattler but when we checked inside, it turned out to be an eastern yellowbelly racer, nonpoisonous. The boys, meaning Miller and Sawyer, were scared for me, very endearing. And it was very, very quick! It slithered over into the drainage pipe before we could get a camera.


We cleaned the church Thursday evening. Everyone assigned has to show up at 7 p.m., versus showing up sometime during the week. The lady in charge has had the calling for five or six years, through three bishoprics, and knows what she’s doing. But when we put on our “skates,” and rolled through the building, we had it done in record time. Miller was a master of cleaning all the light switches, Sawyer got the glass, Porter and Cooper manned the big and little vacuums, Breyer and I tackled the kitchen and girls’ bathroom, and Dad finished up the boys’ bathroom and the mopping. 


Not sure what the other three did that were there but I know there was more vacuuming and some dusting. It will be interesting to see how often we’re assigned. We stopped by Braums on the way home, and picked up some delicious peppermint ice cream to take home. Usually Braums is a treat we enjoy when we’re visiting family in Tyler, but now we can enjoy it a bit more often!

Friday the Home Depot crew came and measured the room for carpet. It will be good not to have to worry about stepping on nails! Even though they measured and quoted, we haven’t placed the order yet. Friday was also the day Sis. Kirby arrived for a visit. She drove NINE hours out of the way to see me! Am I worth nine hours of driving? Her trip went from 21 hours to 30 because of her southern detour.  We sat down to talk when she arrived at 1 p.m., and wrapped it up near midnight. We got in a couple of hours in the morning until she had to leave. Breyer sat by her side the whole time. She loves her “candle” (Kindle), and making Phat Photos on her phone. Breyer showed off her princess bed nook, and had help with lots of puzzles. We’re grateful she came.


She is officially visit #2. Miller was with us but all the other boys and Dad were at their first campout. It was held at a ranch owned by one of the fathers. Everywhere Dad tried to set up the tent he ran into a few obstacles. Cow patties, donkey surprises, snake hidey holes, and in the path of nocturnal stampeding horses. Sounds fun! They parked the tent near a tree, figuring it was the best option, and had beautiful weather. Your three brothers added to six other boys for a fun evening.


Their service project in the morning was picking up shot gun shells for the owner. And they learned what they could eat out on the range ;-) As they were driving away, they encountered a drove of donkeys. They came right up to the van window and hee-hawed away. Cooper thoroughly enjoyed their antics, and said if he had a phone, they would be his ring tone ;-) He’s very, very funny!


We had planned on renting a truck and moving pipe Saturday but had to postpone our plans because of the camp out. As I was changing our rental arrangements, and speaking with the recycling company, they found out that the pipes were fracking pipes, and shared some disappointing news. The price per ton goes down two-thirds, as it’s hard to find buyers of pipes that might explode. ??? We’ll have to make sure we get rental insurance!

Your father is in better health. The diverticulitis medicine worked very well. He found out his college of education has an associate dean position being created, and is considering applying. He had lunch, courtesy of the dean, to find out what the responsibilities would entail. What a wonderful opportunity it would be for our family all around!!!

Last night was priesthood leadership and the adult session of stake conference. Dad took the two older boys. They went from four to nine, together! It was good to have them go. Today in stake conference the mission president gave a good talk. He mentioned the third Article of Faith, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” His emphasis was on the word, ‘all,’ that ALL of us may be saved, and that we’re the only religion that teaches this doctrine. He also said because all of us may be saved, this is the whole reason behind Christ’s visit to the spirit world before his resurrection. In 1 Peter 3:18-19 it says, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” It was an interesting thought I don’t know if I had quite put together by myself.

The boys are all on instruments playing…very chaotic and loud over here! Cooper’s on his clarinet trying to play a duet with Porter on his trumpet then ukulele. Miller’s on the harmonica, Sawyer’s on the piano, and Breyer was on the recorder until she started stealing everybody’s music. It’s wonderful! I think Cooper and Porter ended up playing hymns together for over an hour, clarinet and trumpet. They did a great job harmonizing together. Cooper told me this week he had try outs for clarinet positions. Out of ten, he was given second chair. Yeah!

I think that's the news fit to print this week. Be studious, creative, humble, obedient. The rest will be a piece of cake. We dearly love you!

Mom

P.S. James got his mission call to the California Arcadia mission, but he gets to go to the Mexico City MTC to learn Spanish first! And he is supposed to be at the MTC on December 17th.

P.P.S. Hunter, we got a certificate in the mail stating you were an AP Scholar with Distinction. You knew that, right? Also, Cooper’s going to design the BBQ/fire pit…interested in working with brick in November?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Dear Tanner,

The weather here has become a little more overcast and cooler, definitely a relief, and perhaps a touch of fall is on the way! Just to get you more in the seasonal mood, look what I found! Your pictures from visiting the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Ready to check in? I mean check it out?

Even the name is scary! This psychiatric hospital, originally designed to hold 250 people, became overcrowded in the 1950s with 2,400 patients, and then forcibly closed in 1994 due to changes in treatments of patients - meaning no more cages!


This hospital, in Weston, WV, was bought in 2007, and partly opened to tours (paranormal) and other money raising events (paranormal) for its restoration.

The hospital's main building is one of the largest hand-cut stone masonry buildings in the United States, and, is the second largest hand-cut sandstone building in the World, with the only bigger one being The Kremlin (I wonder if #3 through #10 are as scary?).


My favorite?
Seeing the guides in uniforms! ;-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Princess Preferences


Picking the flowers in the grass (dandelion version of Texas ;-)



Being in charge of Miller's binoculars!


Riding the piano mover...instead of the bricks!


Doing what Mom does!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ten Things I Love About the House!


the red brick...love brick!


the really big front windows!


glass doors on the library...


the really big acre lot!
(backyard goes to the trees)


I have trees!
(this one is in the backyard)


my garage has windows so the view goes on!


really nice nickel plated light fixtures...


tall ceilings with really nice moldings!


a sleekish kind of fire place ;-)


a hallway that just fits the gang!


Monday, September 15, 2014

With All Our Love

Dear Boys,

It was delightful speaking with you both! All of the times ;-) I love looking at your cute faces! I miss seeing them around the house. I miss your laughs, your smiles, your appetites…so grateful you’re coming home for Thanksgiving.

Hunter, saw your clubs in your room. That would irritate me to have to step around those every day, or be your roommate who has to step around those all day. It’s hard to believe you are given no storage! Speaking of golf, all week long Sawyer has asked to go golfing. He knows he’ll get to golf for free, but unfortunately they didn’t hand out the bag tag he needs to do so. And he keeps forgetting! Every day he’d ask me or your father and we had to gently remind him: Not yet! He’s excited to go back to First Tee lessons tomorrow!

Breyer and I spent a lot of time outside this week working in the yard. Sometimes the mornings were overcast, so it was cooler, and by the end of the week it was much cooler – so much easier to be outside! We worked in our little grove of trees out front, trying to clear away vines and overgrowth. 


There is some wild plant with thorns that grows out of the ground, single stalk, and snakes up into the oak trees, wrapping around all the branches. I had to wear thick gloves, saw into the vine at the base, and then pull really hard to get it out of the tree. Sometimes it would snap off up high and I had to leave it, but most times I could pull it out of the tree. The longest vines I pulled were about two of our van lengths. My legs and arms are a mess. I didn’t really feel the scratches until later, and now I’m covered in red lines. Our trash men have been so helpful! First, they had to haul off the previous owner’s mountainous pile of trash, and now my boxes of prickly, scratchy vines.


I wrapped some of the vines around this planter, left them for a few days, then picked it off and dumped it around this ugly green utility cover. Thoughts?



Doesn't this look so much better?


 Our window was fixed! No more holey window in my bedroom! I’m glad. I feel a little safer, and won’t miss the mosquito or two that squeezed through the tape.

We didn’t have any official date night, but we were together for his newly hired faculty reception with the President of Tarleton this week. It was enjoyable to just sit in the car for a half hour and drive without kid noise. A cold front was coming in, so the big Texas sky had lots going on to watch. We also played a little tennis on the front lawn. There were BIG flying beetles that hatched, and would buzz circles in front of the trees. Dad got us each a racket, and we SWUNG! He won, 6-3, and definitely had more bug parts on his strings. We were going to do this for our family home evening activity with the boys, but golf put a smash to those plans ;-)

We spoke of your Dad having diverticulitis again. We would not have gotten through for just $38 on prescriptions if not for your Uncle Brad, his willingness to help, and the fact that he’s practicing in Texas. What a blessing! I don’t understand why we have to wait for sixty days to have access to our insurance, but in this case all is well. He gets better every day, and has lost a few pounds to boot!

While Dad was recuperating home Friday I got to take the kids to school for the first time! I’m glad I don’t have to do that on a daily basis! I’m also thankful they ride the bus home. I agreed to pick them up just because I could that day, since I had the van. While dropping the little boys off at the elementary school, they introduced me to the “Door Daddies.” This is a pretty great idea, actually. The school and PTO were looking for ways to incorporate fathers into volunteer opportunities, and now use them to open the car doors when the kids arrive. Some look like they’re dressed for the office, in a suit and tie, others look like they’ll be crawling back into bed with their sweats and tee, but my favorite are the ones that look like they're headed back to the ranch - cowboy hats and boots!

We fed the missionaries this week for the first time. We had a picnic style dinner on the floor, since we still are without a table and chair. They were good for eating on the floor ;-)

 I spent a most of the day Saturday outside working – beautiful cool prevailed! Mowed the embankment down on the side of the house, and disentangled the left behind dog pen, and stacked it for the metal run. I was chased by a couple of field mice while mowing there. Also got the rest of the yard mowed, except for the rocky hill in the back. Haven’t seen the sprinklers on since the sewer system was fixed – wondering if this is normal, or if we’re operating in abnormal status? The boys went exploring to the copse of trees just off our property line, and found a treasure- a left behind stack of our colored bricks hidden in the long grass around the trees. Cooper came and got me, and we worked together to make a make-shift wagon out of the piano mover and stacked over 700 on the patio. There are still more there, but my arms were toast! Breyer and I will work on it again this week. She was all ready for bed last night, bathed and dressed, and came to my room to beg me to make another brick run. She enjoys riding the mover down to the trees, and helping to stack them.


(The gang inspecting a gecko casualty)


Breyer still looking for adventures ;-)


Sunday afternoon fun!

I’ll tell you what else she enjoys doing. Playing with her underwear! We opened her new box of clothes, size 4, and there were a bunch of underwear inside made by Disney, and all sporting a princess or two. We looked at them, put them on her shelf, and then she was back in there a while later asking if she could play with them. It was hysterical! She does enjoy those girls ;-)

We enjoy you. You always put a smile on our faces. Have a wonderful week. Hold your Schenewark heads up high and remember how much you’re loved.

Mom

P.S. Tanner, we tuned into the fireside you were working tonight. The music was great! I played on the floor one time, but DID NOT have my music memorized! Elder Christofferson’s closing line was very fitting for you, and what you’re going through! The cost of your membership in the church might be high, and even require you to sacrifice relationships that are near and dear.

Elder Christofferson spoke of Amish families that joined the church. They are of significance to us. We were in their ward (Hunter, Sawyer, Breyer) while Porter’s summer baseball league was competing in a state tournament. The first family had just been baptized, and the two other families were taking the discussions. The local members were so excited at the prospect of their Amish neighbors joining them in church. Anyway, those pictures of their temple sealings were beautiful.

P.P.S. Be sure to let me know what time you can pick up the Sam’s order – enjoy the fresh fruit and vegetables! Share with Hunter and Eldon as well – they’ve both been very generous.

P.P.P.S. Hunter, we emailed Able regarding Ramona and the missing scholarship money. Also, contacted the bishop about those conference tickets you requested.

P.P.P.P.S. Make sure you boys in the apartment have your own family home evening if no groups have been formed yet. Tanner, help Hunter make kettle corn for snack ;-)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sharing the Gospel

When I began high school in New England my father began his tenure as the town's police chief. His cars were always unmarked, dark in color, and able to go very fast. One of his benefits was to be able to use the car as a personal car. He also became stake president of the Boston Stake, and had many opportunities to meet with President Hinckley. Because my father knew how to get everywhere, and get there faster than others, he became his unofficial chauffeur whenever President Hinckley was visiting in the area.

On one such excursion he asked my father about his conversion story, and then shared my father's story during General Conference, April 2002. He said, "Let me tell you of a man I know. I will not mention his name lest he feel embarrassed. His wife felt there was something missing in their lives. She spoke with a relative one day who was a member of the Church. The relative suggested that she call the missionaries. She did so. But the husband was rude to them and told them not to come again.

Months passed. One day another missionary, finding the record of this visit, decided that he and his companion would try again. He was a tall elder from California who carried a big smile on his face. They knocked on the door; the man answered. Could they come in for a few minutes? they asked. He consented.

The missionary said, in effect, “I wonder if you know how to pray.” The man answered that he knew the Lord’s Prayer. The missionary said, “That is good, but let me tell you how to give a personal prayer.” He went on to explain that we get on our knees in an attitude of humility before the God of heaven. The man did so. The missionary then went on to say, “We address God as our Father in Heaven. We then thank Him for His blessings, such as our health, our friends, our food. We then ask for His blessings. We express our innermost hopes and desires. We ask Him to bless those in need. We do it all in the name of His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, concluding with ‘amen.’”

It was a pleasant experience for the man. He had gleaned a little light and understanding, a touch of faith. He was ready to try another step.

Line upon line, the missionaries patiently taught him. He responded as his faith grew into a dim light of understanding. Friends from his branch gathered around to reassure him and answer his questions. The men played tennis with him, and he and his family were invited to their homes for dinner.

He was baptized, and that was a giant step of faith. The branch president asked him to be a Scoutmaster to four boys. That led to other responsibilities, and the light of faith strengthened in his life with each new opportunity and experience.

That has continued. Today he stands as a capable and loved stake president, a leader of great wisdom and understanding, and above all, a man of great faith.

The challenge which faces every member of this Church is to take the next step, to accept that responsibility to which he is called, even though he does not feel equal to it, and to do so in faith with the full expectation that the Lord will light the way before him."

One of the challenges which faces every member of this church is to accept the responsibility of sharing the gospel. Sometimes we do not feel equal to it, but President Hinckley promised that the Lord will light the way before us. In the words of Elder Quentin Cook, "Our obligation is to love and never give up." In the words of Elder Neal A. Anderson, "Does anybody in this room have a problem with the plan of salvation?"

Let me share with you a few thoughts I have on this plan and our role in this plan as missionaries, or, as found in Jacob 5, the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees we are called laborers in the vineyard.


If I had a hard and difficult task ahead of me, involving much pruning, digging and fertilizing, I would choose those whom I would want to work with, those who had the same vision as I and who would work with all their might, mind, strength and heart. The Savior chose you to assist Him in His efforts during these last, latter-days. He also chose your grandparents, who are the reason we have the gospel, and who have labored so diligently, and set the way that their posterity may follow. Know how much the Savior knew what kind of worker you are, and how you would give Him your all. And He wanted you, out of all those who came before, and during the previous 6000 years, to work with Him and beside Him.

In Jacob 5:61-62 70-71, He says, "Wherefore, go to, and call servants, that we may labor diligently with our might in the vineyard, that we may prepare the way, that I may bring forth again the natural fruit...Let us go to and labor with our might this last time...And the servant...brought other servants; and they were few." Know that now is the time of which was spoken of, and that you are one of the servants of the Lord. Knowing you are one of the last laborers in the Lord's vineyard should fill you with the love of the Savior.

In Jacob 6:2 it says that "the servants of the Lord shall go forth to nourish and to prune his vineyard in His power." Just like President Hinckley promised the Lord would light the way before us. How can we not be successful?

One of the easiest ways to share the gospel is to serve a full time mission. One of my favorite letters from my son Tanner, while he was serving in Brazil, demonstrates literally the Lord lighting the way, just as Jacob and President Hinckley promised. He wrote, "Last week we found a 75 year old lady, 75 years of being Catholic, while following up on one of her neighbors. While knocking on his door, she was staring at us rather curiously. After her baptism this week, she shared that while she was watching us knock on her neighbor's door, we were shining. She said, "I saw a light illuminating from them, and that this light must be from God. I wanted to belong to God's church and be a part of this light and feel the way it made me feel. They were like two angels across the street and now I have two angels in my house with me."

Tanner continued, "These are the moments we live for, that we sleep on the floor for, eat rice and beans for, walk miles for and smell like African baboons for." I believe Alma said it a little more eloquently when he said (27:18) "Now, was not this exceeding joy?" 

Last fall the missionaries in Ohio shared with us an interesting statistic. They said that if they knocked on 1000 doors, they perhaps would find one person willing to listen to them and become baptized. However, if they received 68 referrals from members, they would also find one person willing to listen to them and be baptized.

We decided then as a family to try and give the missionaries 68 names. We had six children in all four of the schools, all involved in school organizations and sports, playing youth sports and being on a lot of teams, involved with the community cub scout program...after six years of living there we knew a LOT of people. When we fed the missionaries each week, we would try to give them a few names. Usually we told them, "Just ask them if they know any Mormons." And every time, our referral would say, "We know the Schenewarks." People always knew we were members of the church.  I think we were in the 20's when someone I didn't even know was a member asked if she could start coming back to church, and would the missionaries teach her son, Sawyer's friend. We were in the 30's when Hunter's friend's father began taking the discussions, and we met with him weekly in his home until we moved. Sharing the gospel in this way blessed our lives immensely. What a joy it was to participate in this great work, while my son was serving on his mission.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tarleton University New Faculty Hoe Down!


I'm all about parties and receptions...means free food!
Tarleton hosted one for new hires...and we met THIS guy, the president of the university.
Who knew he came from Ohio, just like us!
(We might have had to push his jaw back up when he heard we had seven children ;-)


What else did we learn?

There will always be at least 254 trees on the Tarleton campus property to represent the 254 counties in Texas. 254 is also the area code for landline phone numbers in Stephenville

Edgar Marston donated red bricks to build a science hall on campus in the early 1900s. From that act of generosity Tarleton continued to build future buildings out of red brick. The Acme Brick Company actually makes a "Tarleton Blend" that the campus uses currently.

The Purple Poo are the oldest spirit organization in the state of Texas, whose signs placed around campus Monday evenings, are considered trophies of honor among Tarleton students.

The original 40 acres were surrounded by retaining walls, which have never been removed and have become a landmark for the university.

Out of respect for the university students refrain from walking on the grass, as well as the Tarleton Seal and the Texan Rider Mosaic.

Welcome to Texan land!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014