Monday, September 25, 2017

a day at a time... or a week at a time

Quayd went home with Liza last week.  He's been gone a week and I miss him terribly!  He'll be back for General Conference weekend, but it will be a long week without him!  He's having a great time with Liza's family and enjoying some time with one of his favorite mission companions, Dallin, who may or may not be talking Quayd into moving to Arizona too. (Say it isn't so!) (I'm not sure about all of my kids!  They love the heat! How can this be when their parents are such winter people!?)

Grace and Ben are going strong.  They spend every moment that they are not at work together.  He's a great fit for Grace.  They are inseparable.  This is getting serious!  (wink-wink)  We have enjoyed watching them grow together, closer every day.  Grace just walks around with a smile all the time.  It's fun to see her so happy.  Ben and Zeej dish it out to each other like they've been brother and sister for their whole lives.  Zeej really loves him.  He and Quayd are still getting to know each other but no complaints so far.  He's actually a good fit for our family, as well as for Grace.

ZJ was asked to Homecoming Dance by her friend, Chad.  There is not a day goes by that we don't hear some funny "Chad story".  Chad is a riot, according to Zeej.  Their day day included hiking, breakfast at Herms and bowling.  Their night date was at another of her good friend's home, where Will's little brothers dressed up and served them a formal dinner.  They had a ball!  I've been looking at the pictures and trying to wrap my head around the fact that she is dating and off to dances and such a beauty.  She is Zeej as always, hysterical and funny as can be, but always helpful and kind.  She's our baby and she is growing up way too fast!  It's strange to see them all becoming young adults, but, Zeej!!   We're not ready! YIKES!

Doug and I are keeping so busy.  Between his calling in the YSA High Council and my calling as Relief Society President, and the fact that Quayd and Grace attend a different Young Single Adult ward than Doug is assigned to, we are like ships that pass on Sundays.

Typical Sundays for us:
7:30 - 11:00 Doug has Stake Leadership Meetings and Ward meetings for his assigned Ward
9:00 I have Ward Council two Sundays a month
10:30 Grace and Quayd have their church meetings at the YSA
11:00-2:00 ZJ and I have our church meetings
2:15 I have Ward Correlation Meeting two Sundays a month
1:30-4:30 Doug has his church meetings
5:00-6:00 Doug comes home
7:00 Doug has Ward Prayer with his assigned ward
7:00 Grace, Quayd and Ben have ward prayer in their ward
8:30 We are usually all home!

Doug jokes that our Sundays, right now, are not a day of rest.  They are a day "different".  He's got that right! He teases that he has to go to work on Monday to get a break.

Speaking of Relief Society, I have to say, three weeks later, that this calling is quite surprising.  I have felt much support and love from the sisters in our ward.  They are wonderful.  It's crazy, the amount of time that this involves.  I have days that I spent five to ten hours managing things.  There's so much time spent on the phone and visiting.  But, the biggest surprise to me is that I have a love for these women, as though I have known them my entire life.  I truly, sincerely care about them and their lives, and I'm just barely meeting many of them for the first time.  I am enjoying the time getting to know them, I'm enjoying working with such awesome counselors and my secretary and our Bishop is amazing to work with.  So far, so good.  At least, I hope! 

I do love this ward!  It's incredible.  We moved two and a half years ago and our lives have changed so much since that move.  We would have never dreamed that life would have moved in so many different directions.  We love our home.  It's wonderful.  We love the neighborhood and the ward and it's members and the many new friends that we've made.  We love the opportunities that we have had to serve.  Really and truly... this move was our best ever.  It still feels fresh and new on many days and on others, it feels like we have been here forever because we are so comfortable and happy in our life.  We do know one thing for certain, our move to Logan was meant to be.  We have never been happier!

That's life for this week.  If I can blog weekly, these days, it's a miracle.  Life has never been so busy!  One would think that raising three little kids would have been busier, but not.  I do love our life.  Busyness, craziness and all, life is better than good!

Friday, September 8, 2017

another surprise

In the middle of the weekend before Quayd came home, I had, what I am convinced is my biggest shock ever!  Bishop dropped by on Saturday night with his wife to visit about Quayd’s return.  Then, on Sunday, we spoke a few times again about Young Women and Quayd and a few other things.  

Later that night, Bishop texted and asked if we could meet on Thursday night.  He’d already told me that he had an assignment for Quayd that night and I assumed that he meant that.  Then, after a few more texts, I realized that he wanted to speak to Doug and I.  Then, he asked if we could meet in a few minutes.  I asked Doug if he had any idea of what the Bishop wanted.  I was clueless.

Thirty minutes later, the Bishop appeared at our door.  We invited him to have a seat in the living room because the girls and Ben were in the den.  He handed me some cookies and said, they were “condolence” cookies.  I said, “Why would we need condolences?” 

He then went on to explain that he had known this and felt strongly about it for over two months, but that he had been fighting the feeling because he did not want to take me out of Young Womens.  He decided to "wait for the right time."  He said that he’d called and spoken with our Stake President,  earlier in the day, in lieu of all that we have on our plate right now, and this being the craziest time imaginable to do this, President Burns said that now was the right time, "Do it today!" and, he continued “Sophia, the Lord wants you to serve as the Relief Society President in our ward.”

I was too speechless to say a word!  I just started to bawl!  Doug looked at me with tears in his eyes.  I asked him, “ME?  There are so many amazing women in this ward, Bishop.  I’m a counselor, not a president.  I’m a great counselor!  But, I’m not a president!  He said, “You are now.”  And with that, we discussed it for the next hour and more.  Finally, he asked, “So, you haven’t answered me.  Will you serve as the Relief Society President?” 

I have never felt so humbled, so surprised, or felt so so so many emotions!  I’ve been a counselor to Relief Society Presidents, Young Womens Presidents and Primary Presidents for most of my adult life.  I’m a great counselor!  I do what I’m asked.  I’m creative and put my fun flair on things to make them over the top and wonderful.  That’s a gift that Heavenly Father blessed me with.  But, a president has so much more responsibility than making things over the top pretty and fancy.  The serious and more important responsibilities are theirs, such as welfare and compassionate service to those in need.  And this ward is filled with some of the most remarkable women I’ve ever met who could do this so much better than I could.  I was nervous, overwhelmed, scared to death, mostly humbled.

I am anxious to get to know and serve these wonderful women. We bought our home, moved into the ward and after only a few months, Doug was called into the Young Single Adults.  I attended with him in the YSA until I was called to serve in the Young Women in our home ward.  For the past year and a half, I have not spent much time with the sisters in the ward because I’ve been in YW.  I’ve tried to be with Doug, supporting him in his calling and honestly, I didn’t think that I could name ten women in the ward.  HOWEVER, I’ve driven around our neighborhood at 1AM for the past two weeks, looking at the ward directory and map, looking at photos of the ladies and I know a lot more than I thought, by name.  Now, I will have the opportunity to really get to know them as I serve them.  It will be a new adventure in our lives.  I’m just praying for the strength to be able to do all that is asked of me and to be healthy enough to give it my all!  

I spent the next two weeks on my knees!  I was literally thinking about selecting counselors and the Relief Society while we were at the airport picking up Quayd.  I actually texted the bishop from the airport and said, "What's wrong with this picture?  My son is coming down the escalator in a minute and I'm thinking about Relief Society!"  I had a wonderful experience and confirmation of who my counselors should be.  I was also asked to choose a compassionate service leader, to be called immediately.  The answers came to me with strong witness that these sisters were who the Lord wanted me to serve with at this time!

I was sustained and set apart last Sunday.  This week has been such an eye-opener.  I've learned very quickly just how time-consuming and demanding the calling is.  And I've loved it.  I've enjoyed visiting with sisters, getting to know them, helping them with specific situations and challenges.  I still feel so inadequate and realize just how much that I need to learn!  I have spent a lot of time praying and asking for guidance as to who needs my help and how I can help them and simply to be able to recognize the needs of those around me.  

This will be an interesting experience, to say the least.  I'm happy to serve.  It was funny.  We didn't tell the kids right away.  Finally, ZJ said, "OKAY!  WHAT IS GOING ON??"  She'd walked in on my and found me on my knees too many times and in tears often.  Quayd came in from a meeting and said, "Mom, here's a scripture for you."  He then read, Phillipians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  That verse gave me hope and strength!  I can do this!  I'm blessed to live in a wonderful ward with wonderful women and families and a great Bishop.  I can do this.

One last thought, I was asked, just before the meeting, to speak for a moment at the beginning of Testimony Meeting last Sunday.  As I gathered my thoughts, my first thought was of the girls that I will no longer be serving in Young Womens and the awesome ladies that I've grown so close to this past eighteen months!  I will truly miss them and have really grown to love them.  

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I love His church!  I love the growth and learning that comes from serving in it!  I LOVE the relationships that I have gained through the years of serving in the organizations of the church!  Life is good!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Change of plans! Our boy is home!!

It’s been a surprising few weeks on our homefront.  Doug and I have been running ninety miles an hour all summer long and we were quite happy to know that we would have the last two weeks of summer to relax a bit.  Well.  That did not happen.  Not. At. All.

On Friday, August 25th, I received a phone call from President Dixon, Quayd’s mission president.  President Dixon shared some concerns about Quayd’s health.  His concerns were alarming and after about 45 minutes, we decided that Quayd needed to come home to get some medical attention where we could help monitor things.  The option was given that Quayd could return to California to serve for ten more months or he could be given a full honorable medical release.

I have never understood this option to return.  It happens often, but there is such a transition into missionary life and there is an even greater transition for these missionaries when they return home, back into real life.  To go from living as a missionary 24/7 to a normal 20 year old males life and then back to missionary life again just to return a few months later, seems like one huge emotional rollercoaster to me.  In my opinion, if they are given a full honorable release and don’t have to go back, then why do it? 

SO.  After Doug came home from work and much discussion, several conversations with our Bishop, Stake President and President Dixon, it was decided that Quayd would return home with the 19 other missionaries who were returning the next Tuesday.   President Dixon thought that it should be Doug and I that broke this news to Quayd.  President Dixon called it when he said, “Elder Corbridge will insist that he wants to stay and continue to “ride for the brand” (A Corbridge family motto that means carry on and work hard until your dying breath.) 

Doug and I called Quayd and told him that we felt it was in his best interest to come home and let us help him get the medical attention that he needs at this time.  There were lots of tears and lots of love and even some laughs.  Then, we conference called President Dixon.

Listening to Quayd and President Dixon speak was a cherished experience.  President Dixon is a builder of people.  He was so sensitive to Quayd’s feelings and so interested in every word that he spoke.  It was incredible to listen to him ask Quayd questions and respond so positively and lovingly.  As he’d predicted, Quayd said, “President, I still have lots of fire left in me.”  The discussion went well, until Quayd realized that it was the best thing for him at this time.  The decision was official, Quayd would return with an honorable medical release in three days.

This gave Quayd time to have reality sink in, say his goodbyes, finish up some work and pack to come home.  He and 19 other missionaries spent their last night at the mission home with the Dixons for a wonderful dinner and testimony meeting and in the morning, they were driven to the airport.  Quayd began his mission riding with the Dixons from the airport and he rode back to the airport with them.  It was a tearful, but happy goodbye, filled with anticipation and a bit of anxiety about returning home!

President Dixon assigned Quayd and his friend from high school to be together for the last day of their mission.  Quayd had hoped that they would have been able to serve together and this was as close as it got.  They were good friends in school and the mission bonded them tighter!

The Dixons could not have been more perfectly suited for Quayd.  They loved Quayd with all their hearts and it was more than obvious!  Quayd lights up when he speaks of them!

This photo is a tradition of the mission.  The President posted this shot on Facebook as the missionaries were boarding their plane to say that they were on their way home!

In the meantime, with all of this happening, at home, we were frantically getting ready for Quayd’s return.  We had planned on spending Sunday night at the cabin and driving 35 miles to totality for the Great American Eclipse.  Instead, we were home, making welcome home signs, getting Quayd’s room ready, getting things in order to see our boy come home!!!

We watched the eclipse through Doug’s welding helmet in our front yard at 95% totality. To the naked eye, it was like looking around through sunglasses.  Zeej didn’t like the quiet of things and thought it was pretty strange.  Grace and Ben were enjoying it while picking up pizza for our little “Eclipse party”. 

One might wonder, “Who’s Ben?”  Grace and Ben have been attending the same student ward all summer.  They played frisbee one night in July and have been together almost every moment that he’s not working or in school ever since.  They are “a fish”, as we call it.  (Official.)

I digress.  The eclipse.  We were sad to miss the totality, but happy to be home preparing for Quayd's return!

On Tuesday morning, Ben joined us all, as we headed to the airport.  He and the girls drove together. Doug and I were in our Accord.  As we were pulling down the hill, the car started making a terrible noise!  AWFUL!  We stopped at the ATM and Doug checked it, saying, “It sounds like the wheel is loose.”  But, it felt fine.  We drove two more blocks and decided that whatever it was, it wasn’t worth risking on our way to see Quayd!  I was DYING as we counted down the minutes for his return and didn’t want to waste one second!!! 

I called Doug’s brother, Danny’s number.  Alene answered and when I told her what was happening, I wasn’t even done when she said, “I’ll have Danny empty the van from girls camp.  Head on over.”  Fifteen minutes later, Ben had parked his car, we picked them up and we were all on our way to the airport.  The delay only meant that we wouldn’t have time to stop at Krispy Kreme on the way down. (I took the car in the next day.  The mechanic suspected CV joint.  It was a loose wheel.  What a blessing that we had not taken the car through the canyon with a wheel that was about to fall off!)

We arrived at the airport on time and as we pulled into the parking terrace, I checked the flight schedule, expecting Quayd’s plane to be somewhere over Las Vegas.  The flight said that it was on the runway, ready for take-off!  An hour delay!  So, we opted to set an alarm, close our eyes and rest a few minutes. 

Once inside the airport, the waiting area was filled with literally hundreds of missionary families.  There were sixty missionaries returning home on Quayd’s flight!  Signs, posters, banners, balloons and lots and lots of excited mothers!  The security guard allowed the moms to go inside the roped off area to wait for their missionary.  The mom gets a hug, then they take the missionary back into the crowd and find a less chaotic space to have hugs and loves with the rest of the family.  This guard told me that there are approximately 300 missionaries a day returning to the SLC airport on each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday every week.  They have this process down to a science!

The crowds cheers and screams and the tears and excitement is non-comparible!  One couple came down the escalator with the first missionary following them.  People were cheering and screaming, as they saw the elder’s feet and that couple just started laughing, startled by the warm Utah welcome for them.  The woman said, “For me?!?” and took a bow!  HUGE laughter!  

This is an experience to witness!  It’s incredible.  It only took about ten minutes of waiting for me to realize that Quayd was going to be one of the last missionaries off the plane.  He and his high school friend, Max, who also served in his mission, had decided to wait for the crowds to die down and be last.  I called that one!  It was actually awesome because we were able to greet him all together without moving to a different spot.

By the time Quayd came down the stairs, I was sobbing!  SO EXCITED!  HE CRIED! I CRIED!  THE GIRLS CRIED!  DOUG CRIED!  THE SECURITY GUARD EVEN TEARED UP!  It was so great!  The girls had their signs made that said, “Served with Love, Returned with Honor!”, another said, ELDER CORBRIDGE VALIANTLY RETURNS!

I don't think that I've ever seen Doug so proud or happy!  Best father/son reunion ever!

Oh my word, can you say anxious!!

happy, happy, joy, joy!

  And then there was one sign that said, “Welcome home, Elder Corbridge!  Meet your new brother-in-law!”  After lots of hugs and tears and more hugs and tears, Quayd read the signs and said, “Wait!  WHAT?!?!  WHEN?!?!?  WHAT?!!?!?!?”  He was shocked!  Grace even had a ring on to further the joke.  It was a great joke and helped us all stop sobbing our happy tears!  On they way home from the airport, Quayd just could not get over the fact that his baby sister has a serious boyfriend!  

We went to dinner at Red Robin on the way home in Layton.  As we were walking in, I got a kick out of Grace holding her "two" favorite boys hands.

We met President Jensen for Quayd to be officially released at the stake center.  President Jensen asked Quayd to share a spiritual experience and a humorous one.  Quayd shared a few experiences from his mission and it took us no time whatsoever to see that this boy has grown immensely.  He isn’t a boy.  He’s a man.  WOW!!!  His words were powerful.  President Dixon had told us that Quayd has a gift of sharing his testimony and witnessing of Christ and his gospel.  Quayd has always had that gift.  BUT.  This was different.  He speaks with power and an amazing presence.  We were all in tears. When he removed the badge, my heart... oh my.  It was one amazing half hour. 

President Jensen set Quayd apart as a missionary and now he has released him.

Two great men!

When we got home, friends had added even more signs on the house and garage doors, welcoming him home.  The doorbell rang ten minutes after we pulled up and .we were not alone until almost midnight that night.  

Friends and family dropped by to see him and with each guest, we heard more stories and experiences of his mission and witnessed the growth that he’d experienced.  Doug and I climbed into bed after family prayer and Doug asked, “Now, why is he home again?”  We both wondered! Just as President Dixon had told us repeatedly, “Elder Corbridge is an incredible missionary with a remarkable testimony!”

We did not have enough time to redo Quayd's room.  It's been white and lace and very farmhouse style.  But, he was quite excited about having a brand new queen-size bed waiting for him!

 No one wanted to leave his side!

Zulu took about a few seconds flat to welcome Quayd home!  He's near Quayd's side every moment that he's not in Zee's arms.  (I think she's a little jealous!)

Doug fell asleep within seconds and I went down to Quayd’s room to just tell him I love him one more time.  We ended up talking until 3:30 in the morning.  I loved hearing every word and story and adventure that he’d had.  He doesn’t dwell on any negative… even his first companion who he’d not had the best time with.  He focuses in the goodness in people.  His love for the people that he served was blatantly obvious.  And I knew, then, that this had to be one of the hardest things he has ever done.  He did not want to be done, but he also realized that it was the best decision at this time.

There is no shame or dishonor in a medical release.  Quayd was worthy and willing and happy to serve.  He will continue to serve in different ways at home.  The transition has been harder than we anticipated.  He’s looking for a job, enrolled in an LDS institute class, and looking for ways to do service to keep busy.  It took him four days before he even wanted to see a movie.  We went to see Pirates.  He’s not watched a lot of TV.  One scene in the office was like culture shock to him. He is barely over introducing himself as “Elder, I mean, Quayd Corbridge.”  He stood behind my car and tried to help back me out, as required by missionaries.  He’s quick to lend a helping hand, and even gone to the neighbors, “Can I do anything for you?”  If he sees a missionary, he’s fast to greet them.  

On Quayd's first morning home, I woke up and couldn't find him.  He was out front, weeding.

Last week, we took the family and Ben came to the cabin for four days to relax and reconnect. We watched Beauty and the Beast and Saturday's Warrior and ate ourselves into comas. (Quayd doesn’t eat as much in three days as he used to in one meal) and played games and just enjoyed being together.  Ben had to go back to work a day early.  After he left, we all climbed into Doug's and my bed and sang favorite songs and laughed until 10AM. You could have heard us singing Bohemian Rhapsody off-tune in town!

We are so proud of this boy and I feel blessed to have him home with us again!  Our bishop came to visit and spent two hours listening to Quayd speak non-stop about his experiences.  When he called me the next day, he said, “I texted our stake president and told him that Quayd learned in 14 months what some boys come home after 24 and still don’t realize.  He understood his purpose as a missionary and loved it!”  We couldn’t agree more. 

(When we got home from the ranch, we got a text from Liza with a map showing that there had been a 5.3 earthquake six miles from the cabin.  Over 130 have followed.  We missed them all.  Our niece was there just as the big one occurred.  Other family members have been there all week and experienced them.  Crazy... the world is on fire, under water, shaking up... what's happening here!?)

Now, for Quayd to settle in to adult life. He's had several doctor appointments (which are going well) and looked for a job and spent a lot of time "reentering the real world."  His missionary report is upcoming. The transition is hard, but he's managing.  He'll be happier when he's more busy!   Oh we love this boy!!  We have a lot going on in our world right now.  It’s so crazy, but, it’s perfectly wonderful!