Friday, March 27, 2015


Hey, remember me?  Yeah, I'm still here!  I just took an unexpected year-long break from the blog!  There have been A LOT of changes in our lives this year and I'm still learning how to balance it all.  It has been a beautiful ride with a lot of learning and growth along the way.  I think I'm finally ready to jump back onto the blogging wagon!  However, I still have 9 old unpublished posts (left over from a year ago!), and most of them are worth posting, I think, so I'll try to get caught up by posting those first and eventually start publishing more current topics. Bear with me as I work to get back on track!

So, for now, here's some old news!  Enjoy!

PCS #1: NEBRASKA!  Our first duty station is Offutt AFB (Air Force Base) near Omaha, Nebraska!


Yes!  Nebraska!  Land of corn fields.  And more corn fields.  Oh, and that cute little small town.  And more corn fields...  

But... you mean... Tornado Alley?!?

Yup.  That's the one.

NO!!!!!  WHY?!?!?!

My thoughts exactly.      But, only at first.

Nebraska?  The only thing I knew about Nebraska was what Hollywood taught me.  TORNADOES.  Big, mile-wide tornadoes that throw cows and cars and flatten houses to resemble the landscape.  I was terrified.
During basic training, Rob was given an opportunity to submit a "wish list" of the top 16 bases he would like to be stationed at; a list of the top 8 foreign, and the top 8 domestic locations.  We came up with our list together, ahead of time.  We thought it through and decided it would be great to be stationed somewhere overseas while we still have a relatively small family.  We were offered the helpful hint that if we only filled out the foreign list and left the domestic one blank, we would be almost 100% guaranteed to go foreign.  We also knew that the top Honor Graduate at basic training would be given their top choice if at all possible.  Rob filled out his wish list with places like Japan, Italy and Germany.  He then graduated at the top of his class, and we waited for the news of our new foreign home!

... Nebraska

Wait, what?

Nebraska wasn't even on our list!  I didn't even know there was an Air Force Base in Nebraska.  I asked... no, pleaded with Rob to trade with someone else.  (We heard there was an option to trade with another airman with the same AFSC.)  He looked around for a trade, but also encouraged me to do some research on Nebraska.  

Reluctantly I did a little research and this is what I found: It turns out the last time Omaha has had a tornado do any real damage was over 100 years ago.  It's flat, windy, humid, hotter in the summers and cooler in the winters than Utah (where we currently live), and the tornadoes and thunderstorms are most frequent in the spring.  From what I've read so far, it sounds like if we see a tornado at all, it will likely be pretty small and very far away.  Hmm... maybe Nebraska isn't so bad.  After all, we would be living near a big city.  A lot of people live there.  I'm hoping that means they don't get those Hollywood, mile-wide tornadoes every year.  Alright, alright, now I just feel silly.  I may have over-reacted.  Nebraska doesn't sound too bad.  But I still didn't mind if Rob traded for somewhere else.
The longer I thought and learned about our new assignment, though, the more excited I got about the possibility of accepting it.  I joined the Offutt Spouses and Families page on Facebook and "met" a few of the families who live there.  I started looking at the military housing, and I was sold.  Fear melted into excitement and now the day of our road trip has finally arrived.

We camped out on the floor of our empty house for two nights after the movers had packed up our things.  When the morning of the move arrived, I wasn't quite myself.  I felt a wave of sadness as I took a last look at what we were leaving behind.  Provo has been a place of great learning and growth.  There are so many sweet memories here.  It almost feel like I am abandoning a part of myself.  I'm grateful I've kept a somewhat consistent journal over the last handful of years.  I hope I've captured this season of life well enough in my memory and writing that I might keep it with me forever.  As we drove away, I took 20 million pictures of Mount Timpanogos, the majestic landmark I've climbed and woken up to for so long.  I've heard our new home will have no similar landmark.  I've never lived so far from the mountains before.  I know I'll miss them.
Goodbye, Mt. Timpanogos
DAY 1:
Our chapter in Provo, Utah has ended and our journey to Nebraska has officially begun.  As we took off down the highway, I watched sentimental landmarks blur by through tears.  Around each corner, another memory.  It was like watching a highlight reel.
It's only about a 14-hour drive to Offutt AFB, but our road trip was split into two days.  Due to military restrictions we were only allowed 8 hours or 500 miles on the road per day.  At 7 hours and 450 miles into our trip, we determined Cheyenne, Wyoming represented about the half-way point of our journey.  We're Cheyenne bound!  CHEYENNE!!  Now that's a location I can wrap my heart around!  Setting my sights on Cheyenne provided a little bit of  excitement to relieve the nostalgia.  I can't wait to see this part of "cowboy country," a city I've heard sung about in so many of my favorite country songs!
I was feeling much better by the time we stopped for gas in a small town in western Wyoming.  My heart was in adventure mode.  I forgot my sadness and felt like a kid in a candy store photographing as much of the countryside and cowboy decals as I could.
We let Kimber out to eat and stretch her legs.  As we walked and took pictures I wondered why we didn't just stop in Wyoming and live there.  It was so beautiful and just felt like "home."  So big and open, and like living in a feel-good country song.
On the road again, I took about another 8 million pictures of the landscape.  I'd never seen the sky look so big!  At this point, I was so giddy about being in Wyoming that I took a picture of every single interstate sign we passed for about a hundred miles!  I wanted a good picture of one because they had "Wyoming" written on them.  I wasn't completely satisfied with any of the pictures I had taken so far because of the motion blur!  I'll admit that this particular photo was taken with my camera arm out the window while we were traveling at highway speed.  Why do I care so much about documenting my life in this much detail?  I'm not sure.
In between interstate signs, I also took pictures of just about anything else that looked like it ought to belong in Wyoming.  My SD card quickly filled up with redundant photos of the sky, fields, cattle, tractors, and cattle trailers.
While Rob drove and I entertained myself with my camera, Kimber impressed us with her calm and patient behavior.  She's accustomed to being allowed to roam free in the car when we take her places.  She usually walks back and forth in the back seat area and looks out the windows, but since we would be travelling at high speeds for an extended period of time, we decided to kennel her for this trip.  She must have been bored and frustrated with her limited view, but she was very quiet and waited politely between rest stops.  What an amazing dog!  She has been a great blessing.
Later that evening we hit a snow storm.  I realize now that I've used the term "snow storm" pretty librally in the past... and I had no idea what I was talking about.  This is the first time I have ever seen snow fall horizontally!  The wind was so strong that snow was drifting across the road ahead of us.  Despite the conditions, we REALLY wanted to make it to Cheyenne before stopping for the night, so we kept driving on though we were the only sedan on the interstate as far as we could tell.  It was just us, a few 4wd vehicles and lots of semi-trucks.
Fortunately we made it to our hotel safely that night and got some sleep before facing the winter conditions again the next morning.

DAY 2:
When we got on the road again in the morning, the conditions were even more extreme.  We saw a lot of trucks off the road, and an ambulance or a tow truck every so often.
We saw so many that we decided to try to keep a tally of how many we saw run off the road.
Most of the wrecks seemed to be clustered just after driving under an overpass.  We noticed our own car sliding a bit in these places too.
We continued driving slowly and carefully over the ice, and tried to keep our pace up enough to get to Omaha before dark.  We were lucky on multiple occasions to drive through passages just before the road was closed behind us.
It turns out that MANY semi-truck drivers were NOT as fortunate as we were.  There were never-ending lines of vehicles stuck behind the road closures going the opposite direction.  We also noted that we were once again the only sedan on the road.  Among only a few 4wd vehicles and lots of semis, we realized (spoiler alert!) how blessed we were to reach Omaha safely that day.
After crossing the state line into Nebraska and as our altitude decreased, the ice on the roads cleared up and we even found the sun again.  The blanket of white gave way to cornfields, tractors, windmills and silos.  "Well, here we are!" I thought.  This is exactly how I'd pictured Nebraska to look like.  LOTS of corn fields!  Even the clouds had corn rows!
It was after dark when we arrived in Omaha.  It was late and we were tired, but curiosity got the best of us so we drove by our new house before checking into a hotel for the night.  I already love our new home even though I haven't been inside it yet!  We've seen pictures and floor-plans online, so we have an idea of what it might be like.  The one we're moving into is much larger that what we qualified for.  Rob is a brand-new recruit and we have a very small family, but the smaller homes were all full so we were given a two-level, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2 car garage home with a back yard and a GIANT park behind our house!  We definitely have room to grow!

DAY 3:
Move-in day!  We got the keys to our new home just before the moving company arrived in town with our things, so the movers brought all of our boxes and furniture that same morning!  From all the stories about military moves that we've heard, we knew we were unusually lucky to have things play out this way.  In any other case, our belongings would have been dropped off at a storage unit somewhere.  Then we would have had to get by with whatever we brought with us in the car until we were able to schedule our things to be picked up again and brought to our home.  I've heard this process could take a week or two in many cases.

I loved watching the moving company "unpack" us!  It was an amazingly efficient process!  And they put each box and piece of furniture in the room it belonged in!  This saved us DAYS of work!  They even offered to reassemble anything that had to be disassembled for the move.
I'm so glad we had a team of people moving all of our furniture and boxes because we got to use the energy we saved to start unpacking our house right away!  We had a few feet of packing paper covering the family room floor by the time we were done unpacking the kitchen alone!  We couldn't resist the temptation to take a break and play in it!  We hid Kimber's toys in the paper and made her hunt and dig for them.  She's already loving her new home!
We took Kimber on a walk and I met an opossum for the first time. I didn't expect it to be so cute!
NEBRASKA.  We moved to Nebraska.  I never thought I would find myself living here.  Life has so many unexpected surprises.  I feel nervous, unsure and far from home.  I feel blessed that I don't have to feel lonely too though, because I'm here with my wonderful husband and sweet puppy.  I'm not sure what our next few years are going to be like, but I'm happy to be anywhere as long as I'm with the ones I love.  Here's to our next great adventure! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Kimber's Nerves

Kimber is our 24/7 source of amusement.  She's adorable, smart and funny.  She makes me laugh every day!  She has this nervous tic that we've noticed a couple times, and we've finally caught it on video.  Though the topic is not really pithy enough for a full post, I found this just too funny not to share!

This video was taken while the moving company was boxing up our things and moving them into the truck.  There were strangers in our house, loud noises and large things being lifted over her head.  On top of that, she was stuck in her kennel.  Lots of nervous energy and nothing to do with it:
Kimber doesn't get this nervous very often, but when she does, it's almost as if she just doesn't know what to do with herself, so she decides to bury her bones in the least efficient way possible!   Haha!  She uses her nose to dig in her kennel and looks as if she actually thinks she is making progress.  I promise she knows how to dig with her feet!  I've seen her do it before!

Once we hit the road, we ran into some pretty nasty weather conditions.  There were strong winds, blowing snow, limited visibility and bumpy, slick, icy roads.  It was a loud, bumpy ride and once again, Kimber was stuck in her kennel with no way to release her nervous energy:
(Please excuse the GPS shot at the end.  We were keeping track of altitude.  
The weather got worse the higher we climbed.)

Kimber has always been a good travelling dog.  Whenever we're just driving around town, we usually give her full reign of the back seat.  She's free from restraints so she can walk, stare out the window or take a nap.  Her favorite is definitely sticking her head out the windows when we have them rolled down!
Kimber's Head Out the Window - Provo, UT - April 2013
She's usually pretty good on long road-trips too.  Whenever we are travelling with Kimber at highway speeds for an extended period of time, I like to keep her in her kennel.  I got this idea from a Ceasar Millan: Dog Whisperer video.  At first I was considering a dog seat-belt, but Ceasar's advice was to use her kennel if at all possible.  It would reduce the risk of choking or getting tangled in restraints, and would provide a familiar environment that would feel safe to her.  It also saved me money because I just used the kennel we already had, and I didn't have to buy her a restraint.  She seems pretty comfortable too, although I'm sure she would rather be able to roam and look out the window.
Mommy-Daughter Road-Trip (34 hrs) August 2013
I know moving across country can be a stressful experience for pets, but we have been blessed with a very easy-tempered dog who travels very well.  As long as we stop every 3-4 hours or so to let her stretch her legs, eat and potty, she's a happy traveler; the perfect dog for a military family!  Having strangers in our house and driving over a rumble-strip or ice make her nervous, but even then I think she deals with stress pretty well.  She stays quiet and keeps herself occupied.  But... it still makes me laugh every time I see her do things like burying her bone with just her nose!  Never a dull moment.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cheese Cake & No Bake Cookies

We have been moved into our new home in Bellevue, Nebraska for about a week but we still haven't really run into any of our neighbors yet.  It probably has a lot to do with the cold weather.  Still, we wanted to meet them and make some friends, so we decided to make some treats to take over and say, "hello."  I chose cheese cake because it's Rob's favorite (and the extras became dessert), and the No Bakes because they were quick and easy to make with the ingredients we already had in our kitchen.  We weren't sure of the family size of each of our neighbors, so we hoped the cheesecake would serve as a thoughtful treat, and the cookies would ensure any kiddos wouldn't be left out.

Margo Lemme's Heavenly New York Cheese Cake

Delicious, beautiful, smooth cheese cake that can be prepared in one 9" springform pan or in a muffin tin with paper inserts.  Elegant presentation!
Yield: 1, 9" cheese cake or about 36 mini cakes
Removed from Springform Pan and Set in a Decorative Pie Dish
-1 cup graham cracker crumbs
-3 Tbsp sugar
-3 Tbsp melted margarine
Mix and press into 9" pan.  Bake for 10 minutes at 325 degrees F.  The crust will turn a darker brown.
For mini cakes, bake only 7.5 minutes.
Press crust mix in until packed.
-4, 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
-1 cup sugar
-3Tbsp all purpose flour
-1 Tbsp vanilla
-4 eggs
-1 cup sour cream
Beat the first four ingredients until blended and uniform.  Beat in eggs one at a time on low speed until just mixed in; do not over beat.  Blend in sour cream.  Pour over crust.  Bake 1 hour 5 minutes or until center is almost set.  It should be somewhat firm; not jiggly, runny or hard.  Separate from edges with spatula.  Refridgerate.
For mini cakes, bake only 20-25 minutes and do not separate from paper inserts.

-1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt 
-brown sugar to taste
-garnish with strawberries
Refridgerate for at least 4 hours.
For mini cakes, refridgerate for at least 1 hour.
Mini Cake - Paper Insert Removed

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

-2 cups sugar
-3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 cup butter
-3-4 cups oatmeal
-1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
-1 tsp vanilla extract
In a large pot, boil sugar, milk, butter and cocoa for 2 minutes.  

Add oatmeal, peanut butter and vanilla.  Spoon onto wax paper and let cool.  Optional: Drizzle melted white chocolate in a striped pattern for a more bold presentation.
I pressed them out like ground-beef patties, and they look like it too.
Once I finished baking, Rob and I packaged the goodies and delivered them to our bordering neighbors and a few of the spouses I met on the Air Force Facebook pages.  We're so glad we did!  We got to know our neighbors and made some new friends!
Most of our neighbors had dogs who were salivating over the treats we brought to the door!  Next time I would probably show up with a pocket full of milk bones for our four-legged neighbors!  After all, Kimber needs friends too!
Kimber the Kitchen-Aid

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Irish Make Their Own Luck

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  What do you think of when you think of Saint Patty's Day?  Looking back, its meaning has really changed for me over the years.
Forty Shades of Christianity - Whitney Lemme 2006
The early years:  I had no idea March 17th had anything to do with Ireland.  It was just the day you put green food coloring in everything, and everyone pinches you if you forget to wear green.  When I tried pinching back, they'd tell me they were wearing green underwear.  Wanna see?  No thanks.

The teen years:  I had a lot of fun with it in middle school and high school.  I would wear every possible article of green clothing I had, plus a goofy, tall cat-in-the-hat green hat, those ridiculously large green clown sunglasses, and those cheap plastic green Mardi Gras necklaces.  I'd even plan ahead and ask my orthodontist to put green rubber-bands on my braces this time.  I had so much fun watching myself get ready at home, but then suffered a humiliating walk to school.  I would panic all the way there and wonder if I accidentally dressed up a day too early.  Once I got to school, though, my confidence would (mostly) return and I would silently knight myself: the school's most spirited student.  No one could out-green my green!  One small self-confidence victory at a time.

The college years:  What?  Saint Patrick's day?  Oh, yeah.  All my non-essential possessions are in another state, and I can't afford a green shirt, let alone lunch... but there's a grass stain on my shoes, so I'm covered.  And I'm 0.00004% Irish, so that should count.  Or maybe I could use that green underwear excuse from kindergarten...

Present day:  I celebrate St. Patrick's Day every day!  This is the story of how my green-blooded mom made it so special:

Meet My Mommy: Ever since she was little, my mom has dreamed of castles, dungeons, antique candle-lit scounces and suits of armor.  Her heart has always been drawn to (medieval) Ireland.  She's not just a dreamer, but also a go-getter, so she's made her dreams come true.  She has made multiple trips to the Emerald Isle, and her own home looks more and more like a castle every year.
Mom's Suit of Armor: Sir Eggleston
No one tells my mom she can't do something.  I mean, you can try... but if you tell her something is impossible, she will make it happen!  She is a conqueror!  It fills her with joy to step where no man has stepped before!  So, go ahead... tell her, "There's no trail up to the top of that arch; you can't climb on that one."  Try it and see what happens:
Mom and Dad on Top of Double "O" Arch - Arches National Park, UT
Yes, she found a way to the top!  This is a perfect example of her spirit.  If she dreams it, she can do it.  Telling her something is impossible just adds fuel to the fire.  She turns criticism into motivation; it's just another obstacle, and she'll scale it.

Of course I've always noticed this about my Mom.  However, on my 19th birthday she taught this spirit to me in a very unique way that has stayed with me ever since.  It is a memory I will carry with me and treasure for the rest of my life!

The Starburst Story: One August my mom took me on a one-way road-trip from our home in Oregon to my first semester of college in Provo, UT.  It was a 14-hour drive, so we brought some snacks.  As mom drove us across the desert, I ripped open a bag of Starbursts.  I started snacking and commented that I wish they would sell a bag that only had the pink and red kinds inside, because nobody likes the yellow and orange ones anyway.  It was just a passing comment, but my observant, loving mother was listening.
Mother-Daughter Road-Trip to BYU
We arrived in Provo and spent about a week together before classes started.  Mom drove home and I jumped into my new schedule.  My birthday arrived only a few weeks later and I found a package from Mom and Dad in the mail!  Among other things, I pulled out a bag of Starbursts.  I didn't even make the connection until I saw the little piece of paper she taped on the front: "Maybe this will be the lucky bag of only pink and red candies."  I chuckled and thought, "No way, that's totally impossible."  I ripped open the bag and my jaw dropped.  Nothing but pink and red Starbursts.  I dug around looking for even a single yellow or orange, but instead I found a small slip of paper.  It had my mom's handwriting on it!  It read: "The Irish make their own luck!"  I inspected the bag and found a small section of seam that had been carefully opened and re-melted back together.  Now I understood.  She surgically removed the candies from the bag and reinserted the pink and red candies from two bags.  WOW!  Now that's a personalized gift if I've ever seen one!

Over the next few days as I was processing what I had just seen, I started to see the beauty in what my mom had done.  I saw two different people facing the same obstacle.  I looked at it, complained, and walked away.  But she looked at it, took matters into her own hands, and ended up with the result she wanted.  Wow!  What an example!  I don't know if my mom realized it at the time, but she had just taught me a VERY valuable lesson that I would look to for the rest of my life!  The Irish make their own luck!  Why sit back and wait for "luck?"  Get off your rear and make things happen!

Have you ever read a history of Ireland?  They have to be one of the least lucky nations on this planet.  They have endured so much oppression and persecution.  So why do we talk about "the luck of the Irish" on Saint Patrick's day?  In my opinion it's because they're the ones who have learned to make it themselves.  They've never been dealt luck, but they make it.
Kylemore Abbey - Photo Credit: Mom
My mom is my hero.  Happy St. Patrick's Day, Mommy!  To me, St. Patrick's day will always be about you and the valuable life lesson you taught me.  The Irish make their own luck!
Mom at Humewood Castle in Ireland (Where she lodged 3 days & 2 nights)
 Photo Credit: Mom

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Our First Partial DITY Move

I am a brand-new military spouse, and this is my very first PCS (Permanent Change of Station.)  Rob was born into a Navy family and has experienced multiple moves.  However, before my marriage to Rob, I had never experienced the military lifestyle, so this is all very new and very much a learning experience for me.  Our first PCS has been a very exciting and educational journey so far!

Packing up your entire home and moving every few years could be pretty inconvenient.  I'm so thankful that the military understands this and does so much to make the transition as smooth as possible.  We were given a few choices for how we would like to make the move:

1) We could let the military move our things, all expenses paid.
2) We could do a partial DITY (do it yourself) move, let the military move some of our things, and move the rest ourselves.
3)Or, we could do a full DITY move, and be paid for our move based on the weight of our possessions and the miles we hauled them to our new home.

We decided to try a partial DITY move, so we called the moving company and scheduled a day for them to come pack up most of our things.
The Morning of the Move - The Blue House in Provo, UT
On the day of the move, the driver pulled up to the house at about 8:30 AM in a large truck.  Our driver already had the possessions of 4 other families packed into his truck.
The driver came in right away and started moving our furniture.  He labeled each piece with a number sticker, and kept a ledger-like record of the furniture associated with each number.  

The driver then wrapped up each piece with a blanket and packaging tape, loaded it onto a dolly and packed it into the truck. 
At about 9:30 AM two packers arrived.  They brought HUGE stacks of paper and boxes.  I have been hearing stories about this paper for a while.  To ensure nothing gets broken in the move, EVERYTHING is wrapped in paper!  And I mean EVERYTHING!  From glass dishes, to stuffed animals and even the candy drawer.
The packers made quick work of packing up each room, one at a time.
The movers didn't pack anything we specified we wanted to move ourselves.  Military regulations don't allow movers to pack liquids or firearms for example, so instead of leaving them behind, we gathered them together along with the clothes, toiletries and food we would need for our road-trip.  We stacked these items in a few spots in our house and made sure they were clearly marked.
We were also encouraged by a friend in the Army National Guard to make sure our trash cans were empty before the movers arrived.  He warned us that the movers pack EVERYTHING as is.  This turned out to be completely true!  We were glad we didn't have our trash shipped to our new home, but we did manage to forget a couple of molding onions in our pantry... 

The packers systematically labeled each box with Rob's rank, last name and a list of the items inside.  
The driver loaded the boxes onto the truck as they were packed, and before we knew it we were standing in an empty house.  The military allowed us 8,000 pounds of boxes and furniture to be moved to our new home, and all of our things weighed in at about 4,020 pounds.  I've never described my things in weight before!  Four-thousand pounds sounds so much bigger than it looks!
All that was left for us to do was deep clean, turn in our keys, load up the car and hit the road.  Once we're on our way, we will stop at the first weigh-station we can find and have our car weighed, and then when get to our destination and unload the car, we will weigh it again empty.  With both weigh receipts, the military will reimburse us for the the items we moved ourselves.

This was such a new and fascinating process for me!  Have you ever had a moving company help you with a move?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Go Forth to Serve

As Rob and I are preparing to begin our career in the Air Force, I have been reflecting back on our years here in Provo, UT.  I lived in Oregon all my life until I moved to Provo to attend Brigham Young University.  Education was my primary reason for leaving home.  I dreamed of attending BYU for years, so when I was accepted, I found the courage I needed to leave home and move to a place where I didn't know a single soul.  BYU was my dream because I knew it was a place where I could gain an education AND develop a firm foundation of faith among 30,000 students with similar standards.  I couldn't imagine a better atmosphere for this season of my life.
"Y" Mountain - Provo, UT
One of the greatest draws of a BYU education to LDS members and non-members alike is the HONOR CODE.  "As a matter of personal commitment, faculty, administration, staff, and students of Brigham Young University... seek to demonstrate in daily living on and off campus those moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and will:
Be honest
Live a chaste and virtuous life
Obey the law and all campus policies
Use clean language
Respect others
Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
Participate regularly in church services
Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code
The honor code creates an on- and off-campus atmosphere of excellence.  Students do not get drunk on the weekends, use profane language, or dress immodestly.  Instead they are alert, respectful and focused on education and service.  Of course, we're still human, but it is still amazing how the honor code has created a self-policing system of students encouraging each other to have integrity and be clean, conscientious representatives of Christ.  It has also put Brigham Young University in the spotlight, and provided a missionary opportunity for all of its students.  The Princeton Review's list of the top 20 "stone-cold sober" universities has named BYU #1 for the last 16 years!  This year, 3 military academies also made it into the top 10.
Graduation Weekend - April 2013 - "Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve"
Free from many of the common "college lifestyle" distractions, I really do believe the Honor Code has helped to create an atmosphere that boosted me toward the realization of the Aims of a BYU Education.  "BYU seeks to develop students of faith, intellect, and character who have the skills and the desire to continue learning and to serve others throughout their lives.  These are the common aims of all education at BYU...  A BYU education should be: 
Spiritually Strengthening
Intellectually Enlarging
Character Building
Leading to Lifelong Learning and Service
I LOVE the phrase printed on the southwest campus welcome sign: "Enter to learn, Go Forth to Serve."  I believe it is a beautiful message.  Students travel from all over the world to attend Brigham Young University.  We come to gain an education and we are encouraged to graduate and once again scatter across the globe in an effort to use our education to make the world a better place.  I'm grateful for the opportunity I have had to gain an education at BYU, and now to move to a new home where I may serve my new community.
The Blue House (East Half) - The Lemme Home from Aug 2012 to Feb 2014
As we're preparing to move away from the place that has been home for nearly 7 years, I'm seeing all the things around me that I'm going to miss so much.  I've always privately made fun of the people who choose to live in Provo permanently, but it really is an amazing place.  The breath-taking mountains, beautiful BYU campus, the amazing atmosphere, the temples, the places I've worked and lived, the incredible people I've met and the beautiful friendships I've gained, and all the wonderful memories that go with it.  I never thought I would say this, but I LOVE Provo!  I will surely miss it.  Here in Provo, Utah I learned how to work and study, how to be self sufficient, how to be a true friend, and how to nurture a personal relationship with my Father in Heaven.  I earned my degree and met my amazing husband here.  Wow, the last 7 years of my life have been so blessed and beautiful!  This season of life will never be forgotten.  Goodbye, Provo!
MOA Memorial Garden - Brigham Young University

Monday, March 3, 2014

Not For the Belly

A Response to Your Questions
The number-one reaction to our "Meet the Lemmes" page so far has been: "WHY don't you drink alcohol, coffee or tea?"  First of all, we love the questions!  Keep 'em coming!  Our hope was for this blog to be an interactive tool, so we're off to a great start!  Secondly, we would love to publicly answer your questions because this blog is also designed to share just about everything that makes us who we are!  "Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16)."
Heceta Head Lighthouse - Oregon Coast
The Question
We've received a variety of questions centering roughly around the same topic.  Here's a synopsis of the concerns we've gathered so far: Why don't you drink alcohol, coffee or tea?  Research shows that a glass of wine a day is good for your heart, tea has been shown to fight cancer, and coffee is full of antioxidants and correlated with lower instances of heart disease and strokes.  In moderation, they can be good for you, so why cut them out completely?

The Short Answer
Our decision to not consume these beverages is a personal conviction we've adopted after careful prayer and study.  It is also a commandment that God revealed to Joseph Smith as a part of what we refer to as the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89.)  We have been promised that we will be blessed temporally and spiritually for obedience to the gospel laws contained therein.  Our decision has less to do with whether or not we think these drinks are good or bad for our bodies, and more to do with obedience.  God has asked us not to put certain things in our bodies, so we don't.  It's that simple.

We strive to be as faithful as Adam was, "And He gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord.  And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.  And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?  And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me (Moses 5:5-6)."  Whether or not we understand why God asks us to do certain things, we strive to trust in Him and be obedient.

The Long Answer
We're definitely not the first ones to bring these questions to God!

The most common reaction we get to the "because we want to be obedient" explanation is: "So, you're just blindly obedient?"  Well, no.  It's not blind obedience because it is something we have studied carefully and asked God about through prayer.  We had a choice and exercised our own agency.  God teaches us to seek truth for ourselves: "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right (D&C 9:8)."  Simply put, we don't just believe everything we read or hear.  We've read and studied as much as we could on the topic, and thought about it, made a decision and asked God if it is right for us to practice this belief.  Our decisions are a result of personal testimony.

The revealed Word of Wisdom itself is a result of personal testimony.  Though, it was revealed to a prophet with stewardship over all the members of God's restored church, so it has become scripture, namely Doctrine & Covenants chapter 89.

Joseph & Emma's Story
In 1833, Joseph Smith began to hold meetings for new members of the church.  During these meetings, the men in the room would smoke and chew tobacco while discussing gospel topics.  Joseph's wife Emma had the unfortunate chore of scrubbing the stains off the floor from the spit.  She expressed her concern to Joseph, so Joseph asked God in prayer.  God answered his prayer, and we can read the answer Joseph received in D&C 89, the chapter now commonly referred to as the Word of Wisdom.  It contains answers about tobacco and a variety of other health concerns.  In verses 5-7, God reveals that it is not good to drink wine or "strong drink," and in verse eight He teaches us that "hot drinks" are not for the body or the belly.  He also speaks of eating healthy in consuming fruits, veges and grains. (Church History: Joseph & Emma's story about the Word of Wisdom.)
Fruit for Cranberry Confetti
A Blessed Decision
Rob and I have also received a personal testimony of the truthfulness of the "Word of Wisdom" due partially to the great blessings we've seen follow our decision.  In D&C 89:18-21, God promises that we will receive blessings for our obedience to the Word of Wisdom.  We will be blessed with health and wisdom.  Our choice to be obedient has surely added to our overall physical health and even kept us out of a lot of potential trouble.  Even with the Word of Wisdom aside, I personally am so grateful that I have avoided these drinks.  It is something I would choose to keep doing even if it was no longer a commandment.  Because I made a decision to never drink Coffee, Tea or Alcohol, I have never had to face problems like caffeine dependence or consequences of poor judgement under the influence of alcohol.  I don't need four cups of coffee to start my day, and I won't feel ill when I haven't had a cup in a while.  I never wake up with a hangover, or have to worry about what embarrassing things I might have done last night while I was drunk.  I understand that these consequences are often a result of substance abuse, so why not just drink in moderation?  I personally find peace in the fact that if I never take the first sip, I will never find myself in a place where I am tempted to over-indulge.  Though I don't judge others choices, I personally am thankful that I have made these decisions ahead of time so I never have to worry about the negative consequences that may follow.

This is one of the many reasons Rob and I strongly believe in setting family values and standards.  "It has been said that when the time to perform arrives, the time to prepare has passed (Elder William H. Bennett, Ensign May 1975)."  Setting values and standards ahead of time allows us to be ready and prepared with our response when we are faced with a decision or temptation.  We have already decided to never drink alcohol, coffee or tea, so if we ever find ourselves faced with a decision, our choice has already been made.  "No, thanks."  It's that easy.  We don't even have to think about it, and we leave no room for temptation.

My Body is a Temple
We believe that the soul is made up of two parts: the spirit and the body (D&C 88:15.)  If we neglect to take care of our bodies, we are damaging a part of our soul.  Our bodies are a beautiful gift from God, and He has asked us to take care of them.  We do our very best to treat our bodies like a temple.  When we keep our bodies clean and pure, it becomes a place where the spirit may dwell.  This is why we have chosen to be obedient to the Word of Wisdom.  This means we also avoid harmful substances and addictions such as smoking, prescription drug abuse, products with excessive levels of caffeine, pornography and other potentially harmful practices.  We watch movies and listen to music that is uplifting and choose to dwell in places where the spirit may be present.  We strive to be clean and pure.
Provo, UT LDS Temple
The Bottom Line
To make a long story short, the simplest reason we have decided not to drink alcohol, coffee or tea, is to draw nearer to our Father in Heaven and become more like him.  It is a form of communication and worship.  We abstain from these substances because it helps us feel of His spirit.  It brings us joy and peace.  It is our way of showing love and respect to God.

When I see someone drinking alcohol, coffee or tea, do I believe they are a bad person?  No.  First of all, it's not my place to judge others in this way.  Second, there are so many good people in this world, and many of them have completely different habits and customs.  We are all human, AND all precious to our creator.  God has given us all a beautiful gift of agency, and we get to make our own decisions.  Why we choose to do certain things are personal between the individual and God.  However, I would definitely encourage anyone to try not consuming these drinks because of the great peace, joy and fulfillment it has given me.  I hope my choices would inspire and bless the lives of others.  Still, there are many ways to draw near to God.  Everyone does it differently, and I believe God is pleased with all whose hearts are turned toward him!

My Testimony
I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father.  When I pray and read His words, I can feel His love for me.  He answers my prayers.  I have gained a personal testimony that the Word of Wisdom is inspired instruction from God, and I know that He has blessed me for my obedience.  I'm thankful for the direction my Heavenly Father gives me and for the way that it has strengthened my character and faith in Him.  I hope for the opportunity to bless others with these great gifts that He has given me.  I write these things in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.