Friday, December 25, 2020

So Much To Be Grateful For

Wow. 2020. What can I say? Goodbye and good riddance? But even after all the grief the year has brought, I can't help but feel really grateful for the beautiful things we've experienced. I've posted next to nothing, but that's not because there's been nothing happy to post. Two weddings (Savannah in January, Spencer in November), our first grandbaby on the way, more time together at home, our 25th wedding anniversary, time with family in Utah and Idaho, and Sterling's unique missionary opportunities in Texas, just to name a few. We have many reasons to look back on this year, smile, and be grateful. In so many ways, good and bad, it's been a year like no other. Let's focus on the good.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

How Great Thou Art

Sterling is in San Antonio, Texas as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Because of Covid-19, missionary work looks a lot different in 2020 than it did when I served in Scotland a million years ago. Missionaries are currently unable to knock on doors and ask people if they are interested in learning about Christ and His gospel. While hard at first, missionaries are stepping up to the challenge all over the world and coming up with new and, often, better ways to share the gospel. 

As you may know, Sterling is very musical. Walking away from his at-home recording studio was hard on him when he left last December. But now he's got his recording equipment with him in Texas and he's putting his talents and skills to good use. Sterling and the others on the mission technology committee are working together to help their fellow missionaries produce videos to share their light with the world. 

Here's a video they released last week. It's an arrangement that Sterling heard and then recreated. It was originally sung by an a cappella group called Reprise. 

Sterling should have another video coming out in the next day or two that he arranged himself. I can't wait!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

What if it's True?

I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My membership in the church is arguably my favorite thing about my life. It has shaped many of my decisions and has brought me an overwhelming amount of peace and joy. It provides direction for my life. I want to share some basic information about the church – mostly things that set us apart from others – and why we go to great lengths to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with the world.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same gospel with its attending ordinances, covenants and priesthood, that was on the earth anciently. Throughout all dispensations of time, God has spoken to prophets. The gospel has not changed, but in every dispensation it is revealed anew for the people in that time, through the chosen prophet. The same is true in our day.

This is where Joseph Smith comes in. As a 14-year old boy, Joseph Smith had some questions about his standing before God. He was also quite overwhelmed by the religious revival that was actively going on in his part of the country. Between the contention among the different preachers and the confusion about their interpretations of the Bible, Joseph wasn’t sure how to know which church was right. One day, while studying the Bible, he read James 1:5 which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Serious reflection on this verse ultimately caused him to go to a grove of trees near his home to pray, hoping to gain some insight and clarity for the wisdom he lacked.

Photo by Jörg Bauer on Unsplash

Much has been written about what happened as a result of Joseph’s prayer in what we now call “the sacred grove.” For my purposes here, I will simply say that God the Father and Jesus Christ, two separate beings, appeared to Joseph Smith in a remarkable vision. Joseph was ultimately called as the prophet to usher in the current and final dispensation. Over a period of time and like previous dispensations, the gospel was revealed to Joseph Smith in its fulness.

The fulness of the gospel includes priesthood authority to perform the ordinances of salvation such as baptism and confirmation. Because of the great apostasy which took place after Christ’s apostles were killed, the authority of the priesthood was no longer found on the earth. This authority was restored to Joseph Smith by those who held it before. John the Baptist, as a “messenger from heaven,” conferred upon Joseph the Aaronic priesthood by the laying on of hands. At a later time and in the same manner, Peter, James and John conferred upon Joseph the Melchizedek or higher priesthood.

The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture that Joseph Smith was given the power to translate. It was given to him as a set of gold plates, which had been kept by ancient prophets from 600 BC through about 420 AD. Yes, we believe in the Bible, but the Book of Mormon was written for our day. It was meant to come forth in this final dispensation. Like its subtitle “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” suggests, the Book of Mormon truly testifies of Christ. With remarkably few exceptions, Jesus Christ is spoken of on every page of that sacred book. 

This very generally sums up the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, what if it's true? What if Joseph Smith really was a prophet? Then we know the true nature of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They are separate beings with bodies of flesh and bone. We know that God once again speaks through a living prophet. The heavens are open! We have the Book of Mormon which helps to clarify truths in the Bible and declares truths that were lost or taken away during the apostasy. Priesthood authority has been restored to the earth. We can be baptized by one holding the same authority as John the Baptist who baptized the Savior! Families can be sealed together for eternity; it doesn't have to be "until death do us part." 

All of this is possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. By suffering for our sins, He satisfied the demands of justice so that He can show us mercy if we repent and come unto Him. But we have to know the way. 

God is no respecter of persons. As the literal Father of our spirits, He wants all of His children to return to Him. He is not a God of confusion so the requirements are the same for everyone; there are not multiple ways to gain salvation. And that is why we take this message to all the world! We believe everyone needs to know about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ so that they have the opportunity to exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent, be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins by one who holds the priesthood, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.

Again I ask, what if it's true? 

If you want to learn more, receive a free copy of the Book of Mormon, or request a visit by missionaries, start here:

Feel free to comment or Email me if you have questions.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Sterling's Final Violin Recital

I've been missing Sterling this week. He's already finished his time at the Missionary Training Center. He had so many awesome experiences and was sad to leave, but after three weeks it was time to go. He arrived in San Antonio yesterday. Doesn't he look great?

Sterling with President and Sister Tveten in front of the San Antonio Temple, January 8, 2020.

Sterling played in his final violin recital just a week before he left on his mission. He played "All Creatures of Our God And King," arranged by Sam Cardon, and he was accompanied by Soren. You'll notice in the video that Soren had a bit of a wrestle with his pages, but he handled it like a pro. I love listening to my boys play together. It's definitely something I'll miss!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas 2019

Wow! It's been a great year! Savannah returned from her mission in July; Spencer in October. We drove to Utah for Thanksgiving so that we could get a family picture before Sterling left on his mission on December 18. We haven't been together for the holidays since 2016 so I'm glad we made the effort to all be together, however briefly. I sure love these guys.

I've done a lot of hand lettering this past year. I love to doodle various sayings and words. This was the back of our Christmas card. I wrote it in pencil on white paper, smudged it a bit, then scanned it and reversed the colors. I love how it looks just like chalk on a chalkboard!

We have a lot to look forward to in 2020. Let's make it our best year so far!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Class of 2019

Sterling just finished his junior year of high school. He also just graduated with the class of 2019. Somehow, a year earlier than planned, I find myself with another graduate in the family.

I have to hand it to him. Last November Sterling told me he didn't think he could do another year of high school, and then he set out to find a way to finish early. We have several students at our high school who graduate a semester early, but Sterling wanted more than that. He wanted to be done this school year.

The principal wasn't against it, but frankly told him that he didn't have the authority to change policy, specifically the part of the policy that said a student had to attend for at least seven semesters, so he sent Sterling to the superintendent. Thankfully, the superintendent was on board. The district leaders had been discussing a competency-based pilot program they were hoping the school board would approve. Removing the seven semester requirement was a perfectly natural companion to this, and both passed with the school board's full approval. Now the policy simply reads that students must meet all graduation requirements. At that point it was up to Sterling to comply.

It was a crazy semester at times as Sterling had not only his eight regular classes at school, but also four online independent study classes to complete along with a few other requirements. But he did it and he did it well. He graduated on Friday with high honors.

Congratulations, Sterling! We can't wait to see what your bright future holds.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Reppin' the Y

It's no secret that we're big BYU fans. Jeff and I graduated from Brigham Young University. Sam is currently a student there and Savannah will be back in the fall. Spencer will start in January, and if all goes well, Sterling will start in January, too. We are "Reppin' the Y" from our dining room table to our wardrobe choices - Sterling wears a BYU shirt to school at least 3 days a week - and I hope we're Reppin' the Y in our conduct as well.

This graduation speech at BYU by one who is not a member of our faith and who never actually attended BYU gives new meaning to "Reppin' the Y." I love what Honorary Doctorate Arthur C. Brooks says about his behavior when sporting a BYU briefcase. But listen further because his talk is powerful as he discusses anger vs. contempt, how differing viewpoints is not a bad thing, and how we can learn to "disagree better." It was well worth twelve minutes of my day!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Arctic Blast

I know, "Arctic Blast" sounds like a flavor of minty gum, but it's what we have to thank for a day off of school and work today. And we got the call just before lunch today that the kids will be off tomorrow as well. Yay! (But Jeff will be back to work in the morning.)

I haven't seen temperatures like this since my first year at Ricks College in the winter of 1988-89. I don't remember the exact numbers, but the RealFeel was in the negative 60's a time or two. For real. My roommate and I would lay in bed in the morning and listen to the radio as they listed off all the schools that were cancelled day after day. Never once did they say "Ricks College." To avoid freezing to death, I would walk through every single building on my way to my 8:00 a.m. class which was all the way across campus. It was brutal.


Here's a screenshot from my weather app this morning that shows our lowest actual temperature for the day (-12º). The RealFeel got down to -38º, but Sterling's phone showed -44º at one point. We have certain rooms in our hundred-year-old house that we are pretty much avoiding because they are freezing. Thankfully, for the most part we've been safe, warm and happy today. :)

Looking ahead, the forecast says we should hit an unseasonably warm 60º on Monday. If the RealFeel matches that, it will feel almost 100º warmer than today. What a difference a week makes!

Monday, January 14, 2019


Sterling: Alexa, definition of P-H-A-T.

Alexa: As a noun, 'phat' is usually defined as: fat. As an adjective, 'phat' is usually defined as: great; wonderful; terrific.

Sterling: I have the phattest mom in the whole world!

(See what I put up with around here?) ;)

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018

The Stowells are alive and well. It's been a good year and we have so much to look forward to! Our two missionaries will both come home in 2019 and, if all goes well, Sterling will graduate from high school a year early in May. It's possible that I could have 4 kids at BYU in January 2020!

With our missionaries out, I couldn't get a family picture this year. I could have pieced together a Christmas card with everyone here and there, but I wanted us all together so I hatched a plan that worked out beautifully!

Isn't that awesome? I commissioned Sadie's 13-year old friend, Jack, to draw our family picture and I am so happy with how it turned out. The word "Christmas" is something I doodled on the back of my church program a couple weeks ago and my friend, Jen, digitized it for me. (Jen and I have started a little Etsy shop with these digitized files -- I'll blog more about that later!)

I was a little worried about getting the cards out before Christmas. I received the finished drawing on Sunday, December 16th and had the card designed and ready for the printer on the morning of the 17th. The week before Christmas felt like a bad time for a rush order at the printers, but I walked into my favorite print shop at 9:20 Monday morning and, literally, walked out at 9:30 with a stack of 90 cards -- printed, cut and shrink wrapped! It was a happy little miracle and my cards were in the mail Monday afternoon.

Life is good! We have been so blessed and can see God's hand in our lives on a daily basis. We are grateful for the Savior and the opportunity to celebrate His birth.

Merry Christmas!