Saturday, February 28, 2009


Several years ago, my church grouped the deacons into teams. Each team was composed of four deacons and their wives who would be "on" for a week. It would be their responsibility to answer ministry needs that arose during the week. It's really a great plan and is a great way to keep the deacons from becoming overwhelmed with responsibilities.

Who knew, though, that a byproduct of that arrangement would be a group of amazing girlfriends!

My original deacon wives' team included me, Penny, Valerie, and Linda. Quite a diverse group--12 years separate the oldest from the youngest; a stay-at-home mom and three working women; a laid back California earth mother, a southern belle, and two Missourians. But there were similarities as well--we love God, we are all moms, none of us is originally from Utah, and the military played an important part in our lives. The military moved Penny a few years ago, but she is still a part of the "girlfriends." We added Chris--a great Christian, the horse lover, a mom, not from Utah, and influenced by the military--to round out our local foursome.

Looking back it's hard to remember exactly how the girlfriends came to be. The deacon team (also known as "the gang") got together for dinner and game nights to get to know one another a little better, so it must have evolved from that. But, I cannot tell you how thankful and blessed I am to have my girlfriends.

We laugh a LOT!!! Last night we went to dinner at Applebee's and spent four hours catching up. We laughed so hard people from other tables were staring at us. Somtimes we also cry a lot.

We've traveled together for girlfriend get away weekends and completely filled the back of my MDX with luggage and shopping bags. We've kidnapped a friend's doll and photographed it in a cornfield, at Wendy's headquarters, and sunbathing (complete with sunglasses) poolside. We've asked strangers to take our picture looking through an iron gate at a rest stop in Nephi, Utah. We've slept five to a room and watched the Westminster dog show on Sunday morning television.

We are great event planners. Five of our children have married in the past five years. The moms not related to the bride/groom have hosted showers, set up and taken down rehearsal dinners, and manned the serving tables at receptions so the mother of the bride/groom could enjoy the event. All the Utah girlfriends even traveled 12 hours to Arizona to attend my son's wedding and help with the rehearsal dinner last July. (We missed you, Penny.) It takes dedicated friends to willingly travel to Arizona in July!!

The bridal shower for my future daughter-in-law, Amber, saw the debut of the Utah Tribal Moms. Creative Chris made each of us neclaces with stickers to depict the previous weddings and a grandchild. She, Valerie, and Linda put their necklaces on as the shower drew to a close and each introduced her "tribe" to my future daughter-in-law while dancing through the room waving mardi gras beads (they're cheap). The beads were then put on Amber who also got a kiss from each mom. Hilarious! Amber loved it.

At the wedding, these dear friends talked the DJ into playing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," sat Amber and Matt in the middle of the dance floor, and again danced around them waving the mardi gras beads while their husbands and other Utah guests stood around the edge of the dance floor playing various instruments from the dollar store. Again, hilarious! (Although the New Mexico guests might have wondered what their daughter was getting in to.)

We have a hysterical retirement plan (if our husbands die before we do). Not morbid--just practical. Think "Golden Girls" on motorized scooters. Watch out world!

We are family. Not only because we all are a part of God's family, but because none of us live near our biological families. We share secrets, call on each other for advice, for help in time of need, when we need a shoulder to cry on, when we need someone who will pray for us, for recipe advice, etc. We've even promised to make sure each other's homes are clean if we die. I may be a horrible housekeeper but I don't want anyone to know that. :-)

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."

How blessed am I to have four braids. Our cord is definitely not easily broken.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lazy days

Can I just say how much I LOVE lazy Sundays.

Tommy and I go out to lunch after church every week. (Yea for not cooking!) Then we head home, change into something comfy, grab the paper, and spend the rest of the afternoon watching TV, working the crossword puzzle, and reading the paper. Dinner is usually leftovers or snacks. Last night we had cheese & crackers, chips & salsa, mixed nuts, dried pineapple slices, and cookies. Totally unhealthy but falls right in line with lazy.

I used to spend Sunday afternoons catching up and/or preparing for work the next day. Lazy is much more fun--and strangely enough readies me for the week. God knows what is best for us after all! Now, if I could just apply the rest of God's plans for me to my life....

Friday, February 20, 2009

Snow.... snow.... and MORE snow

We’ve had so much snow in the past two weeks--it's crazy!! Last week we got 11 inches on Monday, 6 inches on Tuesday, 4 inches on Wednesday, and 6 more inches on Friday. This week we got 14 inches on Tuesday. Thank you, God, for snowblowers.

That much snow means that we can’t keep the mailbox clear. When the snowplows come to clear the streets, the snow is pushed to the side of the street—right in front of driveways and mailboxes. It’s made even worse when you live on a cul-de-sac. The plow driver does his best to avoid our driveway and mailbox, but eventually he runs out of space to push the snow. Therefore, all the snow gets pushed in front of the center house, because that's really the only space to put the snow. You guessed it, that’s our house.

The mailman (or mail lady in our case) leaves nasty notes in the mailbox if you don’t clear a path to the box so she can drive close enough to the box to put the mail in without getting out of the truck. I really do understand her reasoning. Imagine how long it would take her to do her job if she had to get out and walk to each mailbox on every street. But, it is a bit frustrating for the home owners who are caught between the mountains of snow and the desire to receive their mail. I will also admit that I'm a nut about getting mail. My kids check their mail about once a week. That would drive me insane! Very little is more depressing to me than an empty mailbox--even if all it holds is junk mail.

So Tommy and I spent several hours in Home Depot Monday night trying to decide how to build a temporary mailbox that we could set out to receive our mail. We did this in our other house by sticking a broom handle in the snow bank and attaching an empty gallon milk jug to the end to receive the mail. However, that doesn't keep the mail very dry; and Tommy wanted something a little more substantial (must be the engineer in him). So he built this. It reminds me a bit of the robot in movie Wall-e.

Other side effects of this much snow: the opening to our driveway gets smaller and smaller as snow piles up on either side of it, the walls of snow at the back of the driveway are so high that the snow blower can’t throw the snow over the top so it falls back down into the driveway, and we tend to back into the snow wall opposite the garage because the driveway is about two feet shorter than normal due to the piled up snow. I DO love snow, I DO love snow, I DO love snow….

Actually, I really do. And, as I said earlier, it doesn't get much more beautiful than the sunny days that follow the storms. God outdoes Himself with those.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tommy got an unexpected package in the mail Saturday. Turns out it was a clock from Delta in recognition of 20 years with the company. It's hard to believe it's been that long! As with any job, there have been ups and downs. But, his job has blessed us with the opportunity to travel lots of places and to visit family often.

The gift was a clock, which was a perfect gift for him. We love clocks! Well, in all fairness, Tommy married into a family of clock lovers; so he pretty much had to develop a love of them. It didn't take him long, though. Our second anniversary gift to each other was a mantle clock. I'm not sure why the Popes like clocks so much but all my siblings have LOTS of them. Tommy and I currently have 12 clocks--not counting alarm clocks or those built in to TVs, the microwave, etc. And, five of them chime. No, the chiming doesn't bother us. We even have a chiming clock in our master bathroom, and it doesn't keep us awake.

We did have a hilarious morning last week between the clocks and electronics. My alarm was set to go off at 8. I was actually awake a few minutes before that but delaying getting up as long as possible. At 7:59, the clock in our bathroom chimed. (No matter how hard you try, it's impossible to get all the clocks chiming at exactly the same time but Tommy does try.) That was followed by the grandfather clock and then the mantle clock. Then Tommy's cell phone woke up and said, "you've got mail." Then my alarm went off. We just looked at each other and laughed.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Tommy sent me roses--and chocolates--for Valentine's Day! They were delivered yesterday afternoon. I didn't get home from a day of errands and movies until 8:30. Good thing the roses were boxed, or I'd have had frozen ones. :-)

Tommy is the sweetest Valentine ever. And the love of my life. As a teenager, I knew that I wanted to marry a man who was a Christian and loved the Lord. God answered that prayer. Tommy and I met on a mission trip to McAllen, Texas, the summer before my sophomore year in high school. We were friends for two years, dated exclusively for four years, and will celebrate our 34th anniversary in May.

Through all the ups and downs in those 40 years, Tommy has been my rock. He is a man of God, and the spiritual leader of our home. Both of our children asked Jesus into their hearts while praying beside their dad (while I watched and cried in the hallway). He is a gifted teacher, respected leader, mentor, and friend. What a blessing to share my life with such a man.

The gifts were especially sweet, because they were so unexpected. We don't always go all out for Valentine's Day. Sometimes we don't even exchange cards. But I am very sure of Tommy's love for me as he is mine for him. I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day no matter how you celebrate.

And, don't forget to celebrate the greatest love of all. John 3:16 reminds us that God loved us enough to sacrifice His only Son so that we might have eternal life with Him! Love doesn't get any better than that.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bunco babes

I play bunco with a group of Christian women the first Friday of each month. We refer to ourselves as the bunco babes. There are times when I have to make myself go after a busy week. But I'm always so glad I did. We have such fun! Last night was no exception. A few hours of laughter, fun, and munchies, does wonders for the soul.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I can't believe it's been two weeks since my last posting. Where has the time gone, and what have I been doing? A lot of things at work. January is my busiest time. It involves closing the books, W2s, 1099s, charitable contribution statements, setting up new payroll, etc., etc., etc. Fortunately, we only have a few employees; so I can't complain too much.

But there was also time for some unusual fun. Here's a clue. I just took my Christmas tree down this week. And, that usually happens around December 26 or 27.

The Ward family seldom celebrates exchanging of gifts on December 25. We have an airline pilot, a retail store manager, and one who only gets a couple of days off for the holidays. Mix in a daughter in Washington, parents in Utah, and a son and daughter-in-law in Arizona; and you begin to see why. We've celebrated with a picnic in the airport, early in the month, and after Christmas. Strangely, the odd schedule has become a part of our family traditions.

This year, we gathered in Phoenix on January 22 and had the joy of welcoming daughter-in-law, Amber, to our Ward celebrations. January 23 was Christmas Eve. It just wouldn't be Christmas Eve without the movie, "A Christmas Story," lots of munchies, and opening one package which always contains new pajamas. So that's what we did. Amber had never seen the movie. It was fun for those of us who've seen it a million times to watch her watch it.

Saturday morning we started with our traditional breakfast of cinnamon rolls baked in the shape of a Christmas tree and covered with green sprinkles then opened presents. We open gifts one at a time, so it takes a while. It's relaxing, the anticiaption is fun, and we get to see the reactions of each person as gifts are opened. We had such fun! Afterwards, we went to Olive Garden for a long lunch. No one had to cook. It was great.

We enjoyed celebrating in January so much, we may make it an annual tradition. It allowed us to spend December attending various activities and parties and celebrating the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. The January time was a focus on family and relaxing. Phoenix was a great place to do both. Warm temperatures and no agenda. Thanks again, Matt and Amber for hosting.

Side note. My tree stayed up so long, because all three households agreed to leave our trees up until after our January celebration. Turns out the other two caved and took theirs down early. But, I did enjoy a few more quiet mornings with just the lights from the tree--one of my favorite things to do at Christmas.