Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas at the Pothiers 2013

Christmas in the Pothier home is a joyous occasion.  We gather as many times as possible and usually in our home.  We hosted 7 Christmas events this month as well as Thanksgiving last month and each was a joy!
I started the tradition many years ago of having a Christmas Nana Sleepover with the grandchildren.  As the numbers have grown I have had to divide it into at least 3 different groups.  The teens now just gather for a Christmas Party.  Last year we played games like "minute to win it" and enjoyed sharing.  This year we went bowling, had pizza and played some new games.  Such fun to get the teens all to ourselves.


We also had one for the 8-12 year olds. That was more of the traditional Nana Sleepover.  We had some pizza, went to see a neighborhood train display - amazing, decorated Christmas cookies, went caroling to neighbors, made up skits with bags of props, played games, read a story under the Christmas tree, then watched a Christmas video to encourage sleep.  In the morning we enjoyed golden puffs. bacon and oranges.  These cousins LOVE to be together and any time I can help them accomplish that, they are happy 






The 5-7 year olds gather separately so I can have activities that are more age appropriate and focus my attention on them.  What a joy it is.  This year Andrew personally read (with expression), I am Special"  I read that to them every year and we discuss the concepts that each one is special and dearly loved by his Heavenly Father and they don't need to let others define them. I think it's such a great portrayal of an important concept.

We went to the park, the dollar store and played at the house after a breakfast of pancakes, bacon and juice...they all agreed on the menu.



We love having friends also.  The Carpenters from across the street joined us for a Family Home Evening.  Annie gave a great lesson on the birth of the Christ child, we played games and decorated Christmas trees.  We love these neighbors.



The season would not be complete without our traditional evening of talents and a wild cousins gift exchange game.  We enjoyed songs, bell choir, piano numbers, base clarinet, etc. It's fun to see the childrens' talents growing.  Carol Lynn played a violin piece.  Each child brought a gift to put in a pile in the middle of the floor then drew a number.  We started with "1" and worked our way to "24", choosing, stealing and rechoosing gifts.  Some of the thoughtful older children took gifts that younger ones were a little disappointed in so they could choose a new one..  I love to see their compassion and that they realize the gift is not as important as their little                                                                                       cousins.  Thank you.
Of course, food is involved in every gathering!
Christmas Eve was a sit down ham dinner.  Everyone contributed and it was DELICIOUS!  Later we enjoyed a reading of the Christmas story with carols interspersed, sung by all and accompanied by Carol Lynn on the violin and Sam on the piano.  We then shared our thoughts about how the Savior had blessed our lives throughout this past year.  We felt a special spirit as we listened to some, including grandchildren who had gained a greater understanding of the Savior's role and the Atonement in their lives.  We then knelt in prayer all together to thank our Heavenly Father for his tender mercies and love throughout the year.

Christmas Eve would not be complete without the yearly reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Papa, complete with whistles and all of us joining in on the last phrase, "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!" (That came after the prayer)  Then all disbursed to their homes in hope that Santa Claus would visit them                                                                                  that night.                                                      
Newest Pothier - Cannon Poelman Pothier

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Sister's Keeper

I am a project person. My tendency is to "keep my nose to the grindstone" and get my "work" done. I judge my day by "what I've accomplished". However, I'm realizing projects never truly "get done". Sometimes there aren't even any really good stopping places. While I am working, people are all about, facing their own worries, and challenges. I get great fulfillment from connecting with people, especially when I can lift or help them in some way.

In my prayer this morning. I asked, as I often do, that I might be aware of the needs of others. That prayer was answered and it feels good. The Lord allowed me to "be there" for someone who was little more than a stranger this morning, but we shared one of life's most significant moments and a bond of love was born.

Our elderly neighbor had a heart attack and I was able to overcome my hesitations, enter their home with the paramedics and become a companion to his wife. I was with her at the hospital and held her in my arms when he passed away. The thought of losing my own sweetheart has been a major fear for me all my married life and I ached for her as she faced that dreaded moment.

There are many imminent decisions and challenges left for her. Maybe I can assist her with some of them, but then she will move away. This may be just one moment in our lives, but I am grateful for that moment and will love and care about her forever.

Life has so many demands on time and attention. How do I organize myself and fit in everything I need and dearly want to do and include being there for others? Though I receive considerable satisfaction from getting through the lists in my planner, my greatest joy comes when I feel like I have been of true service to someone else. I have a feeling that as I ask the Lord, I will somehow find the balance.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"That Which Is Not Written Is Lost"

Our daughter, Julie, just used the above title on her blog. It was a thought shared at our family reunion as our children told stories of ancestors before family prayer each evening at our recent Pothier Family Reunion (more later). As I prepared materials I realized that the only reason we know anything about an ancestor is because of the stories told or written. Stories tend to change, so the facts are sometimes questioned. The most reliable sources are the things written by the person himself.

I realized that my own grandmother is our grandchildren's great great grandmother. That was an awakening for me. I have one memory of my great grandmother, who crossed the plains at age 8. To my own grandchildren, she is their great great great grandmother, yet I know both. Those of us in between are the only link they have unless her history is recorded.

I truly want to gather and digitize the stories that we do have and research to see if others have more life histories, but my first responsibility is to see that my own history and personal experiences are written and my memories of those I know, personally, are recorded.

There are so many tools today to preserve our memories and experiences. Blogs, journals and pictures are priceless. Within the recordings of our own experiences we can include memories of others. I love my children and grand children with all my heart and soul. I will love great grandchildren and their children... forever. I'm sure our ancestors feel the same and yet we don't even know them.

I am resolved to write. I hope this is one resolve I can keep.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Will Spring Ever Come?

It is June 6th, almost the 7th and it's rainy and gloomy outside. The whole week will be questionable. True, it's not snow and the fields are green. There are flowers and flowering trees all about which would make you think that spring is here. The weather just doesn't know if it wants to make the change.

There is something in the soul that yearns for spring, hopes for summer, clings to Fall and tolerates the last half of Winter. It's the long lingering of winter that is hard. The first few months are beautiful, a true fairyland. I really don't mind it at all. I've learned to negotiate slick, unplowed roads and sub zero temperatures as long as I can return to my cozy home, park in the garage and enjoy our fireplaces. Yes, It's beautiful in Rexburg in the winter. I love dressing in layers (the more covering the better at my age), and I really don't have to be outside much anyway.

What is hard are the months anticipating Spring with the hope of summer to follow. The calendar suggests that spring is coming. Every once in a while we get a day that convinces us maybe it's here, but then it slips back into the windy, cold, wet of pre Spring and the wait continues. It is Memorial Day before we can really plant our little bedding plants and we are lucky to get much of a harvest from our gardens, but it's all worth it, as the green fields stretch as far as the eye can see and flowers frame the streets and houses. Once the weather reaches the 60's, the parks are filled. People shed their coats and the spirit of spring fills the air.

I'm sure the anticipation of spring is really the yearning for summer, when people are outside as much as is humanly possible.
It's amazing how much we enjoy those months of true Spring and Summer and even Fall when we have to wait, anticipate and just get small glimpses of it. I know spring will come, and summer will follow. I have faith!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Prayer

James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 238
God without our prayers would be God; but I without prayer …

It was our assignment in a gospel study class this week to complete this statement as it relates to our own life. I can’t even imagine my life without prayer. I realize that many people in this world do not pray. They have been raised without religion and go forward in life with faith, without knowing the source of that faith. I do know the object of my faith. It is Jesus Christ and the opportunity He has given me to pray through him to God, the literal father of my spirit, in a personal, meaningful communication is the foundation for my very being. I rely on prayer every day to evaluate where I am and where I want to go, who I am and what I want to be. I look to prayer as the source of my instructions for the day, for I know that as I commune with God, I receive direction in the form of thoughts and feelings. This is not only true as I kneel in prayer but throughout the day as I turn my thoughts to the Lord for help and direction. It comes. There is no doubt in my mind.

Without prayer I would have no confidence, for I know the source of my power and abilities as well as my direction. Prayer is the most powerful blessing I can imagine. Coupled with the Holy Ghost who makes that communication possible, it creates the whole framework for my daily life. Do I forget to pray sometimes? Yes, I do forget or delay my formal prayers occasionally, but I still have a prayer in my heart constantly. I often pray with a thought, a glance, a yearning to do the right thing or a heart swelling with gratitude as I recognize the daily assistance I am receiving.

My gratitude for prayer is overwhelming. Prayers are answered. I know they are. I completely trust the Lord to answer my prayers in the way that is best for me. I hope that just thinking about this will help me to be more earnest, regular and focused in my prayers. When I am focused I definitely receive answers…most often immediately, but sometimes it takes time. How grateful I am for prayer and a Heavenly Father I can trust.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Making Choices Early

I've been giving a lot of thought recently to teaching children to make choices. As I watch the college students that surround us, I ask myself what makes the difference between those who are truly prepared for college and those who really struggle. One aspect seems to be whether or not they have grown up making their own decisions or whether their parents have continued to make decisions for them. I have come to value the approach of ...assisting young people in learning to make their own choices as they grow.

Years ago we managed the lodge at Zion Canyon. As the summer started, families dropped off their sons and daughters for their first time away from home. We could tell that they were families with high moral standards. The parents were dedicated to their religion and had taught high values and principles to their children. These newly independent young people seemed to take one of two routes. Some became examples for the others in leadership and great character, dependable, hard working employees and all around great kids. Others took a direct course toward the party group. They parted with the standards they had been taught and changed their previous lifestyle dramatically.

My husband and I tried to analyze what made the difference and decided that some of the young people had internalized good principles through their opportunity to make decisions and direct their own lives while still at home and others had been directed by their parents' values until they left. Once they were on their own, somehow,they equated exercising their personal agency with choosing a course different than their parents. Of course, there are always exceptions. It is not a rule, but this is how we interpreted it. We decided at that time to do our best to raise independent children. We most likely were blessed with exceptional children who would have chosen high standards anyway, but we hope they benefitted from . Each of them knows how to manage his own life and is driven by his own personal values.

The world in which we raised our children is a much different one than the world we live in today. The most basic difference is that society shared most of the values we were trying to teach as we raised our family, but today society's values are much different than our values and the ones we feel will bring the greatest happiness to our children, grandchildren and on...Fighting society makes it much more difficult. Instead of being admired by peers, those who follow the standards of our religion are often seen as really abnormal and weird or even worse, bigoted and judgmental. Because they hold to a higher moral standard, they are often laughed at or criticized. The right to live one's own life by one's own standards seems to only apply to those who want to change society to a more liberal focus.

In an effort to protect our children sometimes the tendency is to strive to totally control their environment, experiences, and even decisions. I believe, this stifles their own opportunity to grow as individuals and internalize their beliefs. I once attended a lecture on parenting which has stayed with me and prompted some serious thought. The speakers related raising children to stages in growing a garden. They identified ages 0 to 8 as the "planting" season. Children during these ages can be taught basic principles of life which forms a solid foundation. It is during these years that children create their basic concept of life and how it works. They are open and pretty well accept anything their parents teach.

The next stage 8 to 14 is the nourishing stage, "feeding and watering". As the child grows he is further nurtured with teachings and example, making choices and decisions under the careful guidance of the parents. Stage 14-16 is the"weeding". The child has a lot more options and influences and the parents help guide him through more dangerous activities and choices to help him understand the different forces which will influence him, so he can make good decisions.

Then what the speakers said next, totally surprised the audiencel. They stated that age 16 was "The Harvest". Of course, we all thought that was far too young, but their comment was. "Think about it. Just how much influence do you have over your child once he or she is 16"? He has a lot of options, independence and truly by this time should be taking charge of his own life, making choices based on what he has learned through the other stages. Therefore, stage 16 - 19 was labeled "Counselor". That is the parent's job. They are there to help them along, suggest options and preferences, but the child should be in the driver's seat. They will either accept that counsel or reject it as they choose, largely depending on the relationship that has developed through the years.

Then stage 19 on, and throughout the child's life, a parent becomes a "Consultant". The speakers stated, "And do you know what a Consultant is?...Someone who gives advice when they are asked." Of course that's easier said than done, but I have come to truly believe this analogy. When we, as parents, overstep our bounds, it damages the relationship and makes the child less likely to adopt our values in his own life. Those young people who went against their parent's values and instructions once they left home, felt that exercising their own agency, a new found opportunity, meant making choices in opposition to the choices parents had made for them. Those who made the better choices, in most cases, were those who had been trusted to direct their own lives.

Now, all children are not the same. Some will make better choices than others at younger ages. However, I also know that "when a child feels lovable and capable, he/she is free to be the best he can be." I believe that completely. We may love and admire our children, but the point is that they must "feel" those things. The challenge is how to communicate your high opinion of them. The more we look for the good in our children and acknowledge it, the more likely they are to continue that good behavior as long as we are sincere. If we treat them with kindness and thoughtfulness and reflect love, they are more likely to act somewhat in that same way in return.

Now we must remember that we are dealing with teenagers. Their hormones, growth and general disposition will not be the final product. It takes much patience and loving support to see through their ups and downs. However, it is worth it. The key all along is holding the line on rules and expectations without getting angry or upset. Make reasonable rules along with consequences, both positive and negative in a family council and stick to them. If the children help make the rules and understand the purpose of the rules, they are far more likely to cooperate.

There is a difference between compliance and cooperation. We seek cooperation, a personal commitment to voluntarily follow the rules. Developing a positive family culture and keeping a good Spirit in the home is essential. Home needs to be a safe harbor for all family members- a place where each is loved, accepted, supported. and feels comfortable. It is our job to create that atmosphere.

Raising children is a spiritual task. These children are on loan to us from a loving Heavenly Father who knows them individually and loves them even more than we do. He is the source to which we must turn to get guidance and direction. From the time they are young, we must teach our children to ge their direction from Lord. Training them in listening to and heeding the promptings of the Holy Ghost will bless their lives. The Lord can and will answer their prayers directly. The sooner our children can become spiritually self reliant, the better choices they will make. It is most comforting to know that He is there, anxious to give the help needed to both us and our children. Even with our best efforts we will make mistakes. It's a part of the plan. Dealing with imperfection in others is one of the challenging tests of this life. Our imperfections as parents and those of our children, contribute to the development of character in each of us. I once heard, "It's easy to be an angel if no one ruffles your feathers." How do we deal with our mistakes and theirs? How do we act under pressures?

Truly loving our children enough to hold the line and assist them in solving their own problems, helping them take responsibility for the consequences of their choices in accordance with their ability to do so, and supporting them emotionally when they fall, is all a large part of a parent's job. We teach, nurture, warn, and ultimately share our experience as needed, but must have faith in our children to learn to make good decisions. The more free they are to make their own choices, possibly the better choices they will ultimately make. They'll make mistakes along the way, but if those mistakes are early, they might not be as difficult to correct and we will be close at hand to help them recognize and correct them. The consequences seem to be magnified when that opportunity to learn is delayed.

Love, kindness, appropriate structure, and high expectations matched to the child's interests and abilities take a lot of personal self control and wisdom. As we continue to work at improving ourselves, we will model the kind of growth we desire in them. The goal is to help our children become self-directed, confident decision makers who have the courage to stand firm to the principles and practices that will bring them the greatest success and happiness, and the will to tackle life with purpose and maturity. Parents who guide their children in learning good decision making skills throughout their growing years will make a healthy contribution to that goal.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dedication

We just attended the dedication of the new BYU Idaho Center (I-Center). Just after we arrived for our mission Elder Bednar spoke at the ground breaking ceremony which we attended (Oct 31, 2006). He spoke of gathering and gave a prophesy to the students, faculty and community. Today he repeated that prophesy. We created a clip of this prophesy from a video and have used it the past four years in Vision Conference, teaching the students that if the spirit of "entitlement" or "intellectual arrogance" were to permeate this valley then the spirit of Ricks would be extinguished. The spirit of Ricks is a spirit of dedication, innovation and frugality. It brings the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and is the greatest asset of this university. The outstanding students are strong, humble, dedicated and diligent. Most come from humble backgrounds and I've come to truly appreciate that kind of heritage. It makes for young people who know how to work, sacrifice, serve and obey.

Vision Conference also teaches the students that they are here for a purpose and being here is an important part of their preparation for their individual missions. They are brought here by the Lord. How very blessed they are to have that calling and blessing.

How very blessed Bob and I are to be here in Rexburg through this amazing period of revelation and growth. The Lord is directing his university as it pushes forward into new avenues of teaching and learning. We've seen the on-line learning and pathways program get their beginnings and develop into wonderful programs that bless lives. We've watched a temple take shape, be completed and dedicated, leading tours and enjoying the wonderful celebration program.

Today two wonderful buildings were dedicated and it was the sweetest experience to be able to attend (3rd row front and center). We listened to three apostles Pres. Eyring, Elder Nelson and Elder Bednar. Elder Bednar could hardly contain his emotion. He has seen this school make the transition from the 2-year Ricks to the 4 Year BYU Idaho. That was his mission while he was President. President Eyring saw it through much earlier stages and was here when the Teton Dam broke and wiped out Rexburg (The flood). He ministered to the community by offering them shelter and food in the untouched Ricks facilities.

This valley has had quite a history and it has an amazing future. The new I-Center is patterned after the Conference Center in SLC. It seats 15,000 and in addition has 10 basketball courts behind the auditorium. Pres. Clark said, "Just think of it as a great big chapel with a great big cultural hall". It truly is amazing. You can't see it without wondering at such a facility being built here on campus in Rexburg, Idaho. Obviously, the brethren have vision and there is a sacred purpose for this facility. How exciting it will be to watch it unfold.

We are a part of a great work, surrounded by dedicated faculty, employees and students, dedicated to the Lord and building his kingdom. It is our greatest desire to fulfill our responsibilities to this institution. Our work goes forward, possibly changing in form but with a purpose to assist in helping the Lord to accomplish his work here. It is a marvelous privilege!