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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Two Temples to be Renovated/Update/Christmas Miracle

Hello, friends! I realize it has been two weeks since I last posted. Things have been busy. I could have posted last week but decided against it. Therefore, I have two weeks to update my readers on. I am excited to do so. As a preface to that, however, I wish to share yet another exciting official announcement from the Church.

On December 16, 2014, the First Presidency officially announced the closure dates and extensive renovation of two temples, the Freiberg Germany and Idaho Falls Idaho Temples. The Freiberg Germany Temple will close to patrons effective Monday February 9, and is expected to reopen sometime in May 2016. This will be the Freiberg Temple's second renovation. The first renovation happened in 2002. Coincidentally, President Gordon B. Hinckley was involved with both the original dedication of that temple in 1985 and its rededication 27 years later. It will be very interesting to see who will be sent to rededicate that temple. My guess is that it will be either President Thomas S. Monson, who has ties to Germany, or President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a native German. The Frankfurt Germany Temple will accommodate patrons from the Freiberg Temple district during the closure. The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple was originally dedicated in 1945 and was the only temple dedicated by President George Albert Smith. The 8th operating temple of the Church will have its first renovation starting Monday March 16, 2015 and is expected to be completed sometime in October 2016. The Rexburg Temple will serve patrons that typically go to the Idaho Falls Temple while it is being renovated. With these two announced renovations, there will be 5 temples undergoing renovation at the same time. Rexburg and Freiberg join the list of renovations underway in Montreal Quebec (projected to be completed late next year), Mexico City Mexico (also projected to be completed late next year) and Suva Fiji (projected to be completed either late in 2015 or early in 2016, depending on how construction progresses).

The First Presidency on December 12 also released a report on how under construction temples were progressing. Oddly enough, the list included Phoenix Arizona (already dedicated) and omitted any mention of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple, which, though ground was broken for it in 2011, has yet to begin full-scale construction. For the latest in temple information, please see ldschurchtemples.com, which, though it is not an official Church website, nonetheless has the latest sourced information about temples and includes projections about completion dates for under construction temples as well as up-to-date news about the announced temples. Some may question the veracity of information on that site, but I have always found it to be accurate. Even if information on that site is not currently validated by the Church, I have on good authority that the webmaster receives official temple news from the Church for his site. So I have no qualms about accepting information on that site as factual, albeit subject to verification by official Church News Releases. I know from what I've been able to learn from that site that at least two temples are anticipating their groundbreaking next year: Lisbon Portugal and Tucson Arizona. All the rest (except Cedar City Utah, Durban South Africa, and Urdaneta Philippines, which have yet to have an official site announced), are nearing the time when groundbreakings may take place. So I anticipate 2015 as being a great year for temple groundbreakings. Additionally, of the temples that are under construction, as many as five more (plus Cordoba Argentina and Payson Utah, which have already had dedication dates announced) may be completed by the end of next year, as well as up to three that are currently being renovated. What a remarkable era of temple building we live in!

That being said, it's time to update you all on what has happened since I last wrote. There have been so many wonderful things. I will talk about the most significant one first. I faced the week of the 15th as Christmas approached with the knowledge that we likely wouldn't have much to work with. I prayed for a Christmas miracle, for some way, any way, to make it special for Amy. Someone I went to High School with offered to take me shopping for a Christmas gift for Amy. As I was waiting to ascertain what I could get her with this friend's most generous offer, we checked our mail one day. In it we found an envelope addressed to the Stokes family, with the return address "Santa Clause, North Pole". Inside was a single sheet of paper. Written was the simple message, "Merry Christmas. Know that you are loved. From Friends." Enclosed in the message were two $100 bills. I cannot begin to explain the feeling of gratitude and love that filled my heart for this gift. What may not have been a big deal to our anonymous benefactor was a HUGE deal to us. Because of it, we were able to spoil each other for Christmas, and we had enough and to spare for our needs until my next check came in on Friday the 26th. As a matter of fact, we are still reaping the benefits of this Christmas gift.

On December 15, we went and saw an advanced special screening of The Hobbit (the last installation in the series) as a Christmas present from my work, and that was great. The next day was my birthday. I had a very pleasant day at work, after which I spent the evening with Amy and was visited by her brother Troy and received many well wishes on Facebook and by phone from family and friends, which was good. I got a very good start to being 28. On Thursday December 18, we marked four years since we were married. It was a great day to reflect upon all the wonderful experiences we've had together and to look ahead to the many wonderful things that would happen in the future. That weekend was typical, with me getting paid an about-average check and us spending it almost as soon as we got it. I also went to Physical Therapy on Saturday and enjoyed the Church meetings on Sunday.

This last week has been good to me as well. On Monday I sought for and obtained approval to get off early tomorrow so that Amy could pick me up prior to her dentist appointment, so that will be good. I had so many great experiences leading up to Christmas that I can't put into words. Suffice it to say, the job is still treating me well. I got off an hour and a half early on Christmas Eve and had Christmas Day off, so that was good. On Christmas Eve, Amy and I went to a get-together at the home of Uncle Chris and Aunt Jacqui Howden (Uncle Chris is Mom's youngest brother). We had a great meal and were able to share wonderful Christmas stories and sing many Christmas hymns. Our Christmas Day was wonderful. We went and had breakfast with Amy's family in the morning and saw my family in the evening. We were blessed to have a bounteous Christmas, both giving and receiving wonderful things. The Lord has been so good to us. We ordered gifts for each other online, and not all of them have arrived yet, but our new wedding rings arrived yesterday, and it is our hope that the books we ordered for each other will arrive soon as well. On Friday this week, I slept through my alarm due to getting to bed far too late the  night before. With Amy's help, I got ready for work in haste and still made it on time. On Saturday, I went to Physical Therapy, ran errands, came home and enjoyed relaxing. I completed my tasks for the day as swiftly as I could but still got to bed far later than I should have last night.

Today (Sunday) Church was wonderful. I got my new manual for next year's Priesthood lessons. I was able to spend the balance of the day relaxing. Before Christmas rolls around, I try to watch the four Christmas movies that I have: White Christmas and the three Santa Clause movies. Due to a hectic work schedule and other factors, I was unable to complete this goal before Christmas Day. We finally finished the last movie tonight, and, in retrospect, I think I almost prefer having Christmas movies left to watch after Christmas Day. It kind of helps keep the spirit alive longer. Also, for those that aren't aware, when we moved into this apartment, as it was near Christmas, we put up a Christmas tree. After our first Christmas was over, we both couldn't bear to take it down, so it has remained up all this time. This has helped us keep the Christmas spirit all year round.

One or two loose ends to tie up and then I'll be finished with this post. I have mentioned in my previous blog post how I was not feeling well, had been diagnosed with an infection at the urgent care clinic, and had taken medications for that infection. It didn't clear up at all. If anything, it's gotten worse. Much worse. Thankfully, I kept calling my pulminologist until she called in my emergency inhaler. The bad news is that she has not yet called in something to help with the persistent coughing and chest congestion I am experiencing, and she refuses to return my calls or contact me by e-mail. So unless I hear back from her tomorrow (Monday), I'm having Amy take me to the emergency care clinic again and see if they will give me something to help with the cough, because this is now beyond ridiculous, and I'm fed up with feeling sick and not getting any help from the one doctor who should be willing to assist me in such issues. So I'll keep you posted on what happens with that.

Still no word on whether or not I will get SSI in January, but I am expecting to hear about that any day now. I don't see why I wouldn't. In November, I earned far less than their $1500 estimate of my wages for that month, so I should get something Even if I get $300 or $400 from them, that will be a godsend and will help us greatly. I will know one way or another by next week what will happen with that. As a matter of fact, I will have the money or not by next week. I'll be sure and post about that then.

Well, I've rambled on long enough. I've probably put a few of you to sleep. I just want to close by saying I hope that you are all doing well, that you had a very Merry Christmas, and that you will have a Happy new Year. My first post for 2015 will likely be next week. I don't anticipate posting before then unless something monumental happens. Until I write again, all the best!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Upcoming Temple Dedications/General Update

Hello, all. By now, many of you have read the exciting news release from the Church about the upcoming announced open house and dedication dates for the Cordoba Argentina and Payson Utah Temples. For those that haven't, the Cordoba open house has been set for April 17-May 2, with a cultural celebration to be held the night of Saturday May 16, and the temple dedication to follow the day after in three sessions. The Payson Utah Temple open house will take place from April 24-May 23, with the cultural celebration to take place on June 6 and the temple dedication to take place on June 7. The Cordoba and Payson temples will be the 145th and 146th in the Church. On December 12, the Church also released an updated progress report on temples under construction. See the link below for details.

Mormon Temples Currently Under Construction

All are underway except the Fortaleza Brazil Temple, which has yet to commence full-scale construction efforts. Additionally, according to ldschurchtemples.com, in March of next year, the Church will begin an extensive renovation on the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. The renovation is anticipated to last around 18 months. While this information has yet to be confirmed officially by the Church, I have never had reason to doubt the information on the LDS Church Temples site, and I am confident that sometime within this week, the Church will officially announce this renovation.

That being said, it has been an interesting week. I made it through my workday all right on Monday, but on Tuesday after I had been there about an hour, I took a break and was overcome by a fit of coughing. I explained to one of the team leaders that I wasn't feeling well. He couldn't have been nicer. He made all the necessary arrangements for me to be excused for the rest of the workday and then told me to go home and get feeling better. I called Amy and had her pick me up. I was terribly upset and distraught about having to take a day of rest for myself, but Amy was an absolute angel about it. She said the important thing was for me to get better. After consoling me sufficiently, she sent me straight to bed, where I slept for the next six hours, only getting up to take medication as scheduled. I woke up feeling much improved and returned to work the next day without incident. I wound up having to leave work early on Wednesday for an appointment with my pulminologist. She said that if I didn't start regularly exercising, she was afraid it would contribute to weight gain and increase sleep apnea. So I've got to get in gear and do something. After a day of work on Thursday, I discovered then that the next day I would be receiving the largest check I had ever earned from the job. That was very gratifying. The next day, my work day was like any other, some positive calls, some negative calls. Towards the end of my shift, it got very quiet. I thought I would get off work on time for a change. Then about 15 minutes before I could sign out for the day, I got a phone call. The lady needed lots of help. She apologized over and over again for keeping me so long. I told her it was not a problem. At the end of the call, she thanked me profusely for how helpful I had been. She said she wanted to talk to my supervisor and let him know what a good job I was doing. My team leader had already left for the day, though, so I told her to call back on Monday and speak to him then. It was gratifying to know that someone was so appreciative of my efforts.

Yesterday I went to Physical Therapy and we ran some errands and came home and rested. Last night we had our ward Christmas Party, and that was very enjoyable. We came home and enjoyed the rest of the day together. Unfortunately, with our financial obligations this week, my check was practically entirely spoken for the minute I received it on Friday. And because of the time I missed last week, I will be getting a very meager check this Friday. But we will be all right somehow. We have faithfully paid our tithing and leave the rest in the Lord's hands.

Today, Church was fantastic! I felt spiritually recharged for the week. I came home and rested, then got up and took some medication. I then rested some more while Amy visited with her new visiting teachers. After they left, we had a wonderful dinner and took time to relax. We went and visited my mom tonight, as it was her birthday. I love you, Mom! Thanks for all you've done for me over the years, especially staying with me in the hospital those long surgeries through. We had the opportunity to do some reminiscing tonight, and that was fun. We got to see my two sisters, my brothers-in-law, my nephew Grant, and the baby my older sister Joanna's family is fostering. I even got to hold the little guy for a bit. It was really neat, but it also made me ache for the day when we will have children of our own. I hope that day comes soon, especially as we have no idea why we haven't had success starting our family yet and we don't have the funds to do the testing to find out. It really stinks just barely getting by. But I have to believe that things will work out for us that way soon. I also found out tonight that Joanna's father-in-law, whom I had worked with in the temple, was a real estate agent, so we might be contacting him for help in our housing search. I hope something will work out that way for us very soon as well. Amy and I are really wanting and needing a place of our own.

This week promises to be a good one. Tomorrow night, my work, for Christmas, is paying for Amy and me to attend a special screening of the new Hobbit movie. That should be fun, though I don't know how I will make my medication schedule work with that. But I'll deal with that. Tuesday is my birthday, and Thursday is our anniversary. My supervisor heard that my anniversary was coming up and offered to approve time off for me to spend that day with Amy, but we determined that we needed the money I'd earn from working more than we'd need to be together on our special day. How many couples actually get to spend all day of each anniversary together anyways? Because of how little I will get paid this Friday, we are anticipating at best a very meager Christmas. I know that Christmas is about more than the gifts we give and receive, but I was really hoping to have more to work with to make this Christmas special for Amy, especially with all she's been through throughout her life and most especially in the last four years that she's been married to me. Amy keeps insisting she doesn't need anything for Christmas, but I wish I could give her everything she could ever want or need, especially now that I have a job. I guess if worst comes to worst, we will hopefully get an SSI check again in January and I can afford to spoil her a little bit then, even though it will be a little late for Christmas.

Sorry about letting my emotions get the better of me there. I've been thinking about this Christmas a lot. While I know the important thing is that we have each other and that we have life's basic necessities, and while I know the true meaning of Christmas, I wish there was more I could do for Amy. She deserves so much for all she's been through. And heaven help me, I can't do a blessed thing about it. I don't want anything for myself. I just wish I could do something special for her this year. Sorry. I'll stop complaining now. In reality, on reflection, I've never had it so good. I have the gospel in my life, along with all the blessings that come with it. I am relatively healthy. I have a good job that provides for our needs for the most part. And best of all, I have a wife who loves me and who looks past all that's wrong with me and loves me unceasingly. Without her, I wouldn't be who I am today. With her by my side, I can handle any curve ball life throws at us. The wonder and the miracle of it all is that the Lord saw fit to bring us together and to help her look past all that's wrong with me and into my eternal possibilities. She's amazing and I really don't deserve her.

Well, that being said, I should get to bed. The hour is late, and I have to be up early for work. But I wanted to pause and acknowledge the blessings of the Lord from this last week. I look forward to seeing how things will go this upcoming week. Whatever happens, I know that the Lord will be with me. And I take comfort in that knowledge. I rejoice in the goodness of the Lord to me. Until I write again, all the best!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

'Twas the Night Before Our Savior Came: A Poem with a Powerful Christmas Message for All

As promised, here is the Christmas-themed message I made reference to in my last post. Many years ago, I was reading our copy of the December Ward Newsletter. The message featured a poem penned by Lou Pinter. It is a poem with a powerful message. I share it in the hopes that it will help us all remember the true meaning of Christmas.





‘Twas the Night Before the Savior Came

‘Twas the night before Our Savior came and all through the house,
Not a person was praying, not one in the house.
Their scriptures were lain on the shelf without care,
Thinking Our Savior would not come there.
 And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap
Was watching the late show, while I took a nap.
Where out of the East there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But angels proclaiming that our Savior was here!
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray,
I knew in a moment it must be the day!
The beauty of His face made me cover my head,
It was Our Savior returning just like he said....
 And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.
In the Book of Life which He held in His hand,
Was written the names of every saved man.
He spoke not a word, as He searched for my name.
Then He said, “It’s not here.” My head hung in shame.
The people whose names had been written with love,
He gathered to take to His father above.
With those who were read, He rose without a sound,
While all the rest were left standing around.
I fell to my knees, but it was too late.
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and cried as they rose out of sight,
“Oh, if only I’d been ready tonight.”
In the words of this poem, the meaning is clear,
The coming of Our Savior is drawing near.
There is only one life and when comes the last call,
We will find that the scriptures were true, after all....
 
I hope that during the hustle and bustle of the season, we will not forget that without Christ, there is no Christmas. It is my hope and prayer that we may selflessly give and joyfully receive this Christmas. I also hope and pray that we may be prepared for His Second Coming, for He will come again. I know this is true with all my heart, and I share this witness and this post with you in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Big news from Church Headquarters/Important Events in Church History and Family this month/General Update

I am blogging today for three main reasons: the first is to share some big news from Church headquarters, the second is to share important events that will be happening in Church history this month, and the final reason is to give a general update of our situation since last week when I last posted. Hang on to your hats! This will be a wild ride!

The Church announced that on December 3rd and 4th, it will be sending out newsletters to all who have an LDS account. "The content is a message from the First Presidency and two messages concerning the holiday season," according to the news release on lds.org. The First Presidency writes, "We are pleased to announce this new Church email newsletter that we will regularly publish and share with members throughout the world. This newsletter is part of our effort to find more effective ways to communicate with our growing global membership in order to share timely and valuable messages that can strengthen our love for Jesus Christ, for our families, and for those around us.” There will be options to unsubscribe to these e-mails, but I doubt many will want to do so. All members need to ascertain that their e-mail as listed on their LDS account is accurate in order to receive the newsletters, which will be initially translated into 10 languages.

Elder Anthony D. Perkins of the First Quorum of the Seventy, who apparently has some involvement in this project, said, "In a world where communication channels are so numerous and fragmented, delivering a message that does not become distorted along the way is increasingly difficult. The Church has a unique advantage in that millions of faithful members have entrusted their email address to us. We feel the time has come to utilize these personal email addresses to improve the effectiveness of our communications to Church members."


E-mails will be part of the "News and Inspiration" subscription. The first e-mail will contain a welcome and introduction by the First Presidency which will serve as a greeting and explain the purpose for this and future e-mails. The e-mail will also focus on the Church's Christmas theme, "He Is The Gift." The e-mail will finally detail information about the upcoming Christmas Devotional on December 7.


Elder Perkins concluded: "One purpose of email newsletters is to assist members in becoming aware of Church resources that will strengthen their faith in Christ, bless their families, and help them serve in the community. We plan that over time members will have a few more specific choices in newsletters they would like to receive. But this email channel could also be used to notify members during emergency situations or for matters of urgent importance to the First Presidency or the Twelve."

This is an exciting new development in Church History. I for one can't wait for the Church newsletters. It will be interesting to see how such newsletters help to bring the leading brethren at Church headquarters closer to the people. I urge all who are interested to update their e-mail addresses in their online profile on lds.org. If you are unsure how to do so, your ward should have a technology specialist that can assist you in doing so.

That was the major thing I wanted to focus on in this blog post. But I also wanted to bring my readers up-to-date on a few other Church History events that are happening in December. Elder Holland will turn 74 on December 3. This may come as a surprise to some. He certainly doesn't look 74. Hopefully he will be with us for at least another 20 years. He may even live to be President of the Church one day, but please don't quote me on that. It's just a personal opinion. Again, speaking personally, I would love it if President Monson lived to break President Gordon B. Hinckley's record of being the oldest living prophet. That will happen on March 26, 2025. In the meantime, this December is significant also because of the fact that on December 9, President Monson will overtake President Howard W. Hunter to become the 9th oldest prophet in the Church's history. Also in the realm of exciting developments, though a site has not been officially announced for the Tucson Arizona Temple, a potential site has been identified, and the webmaster of ldschurchtemples.com projects that the Tucson Arizona temple will have a groundbreaking ceremony sometime in 2015. This means it has moved up considerably in the list of announced temples, since several other temples that do have a site announced do not have a potential groundbreaking time frame yet. These all stack up to make December an exciting month for Church History events.

No less significant to me are the important events that will take place in my family this month. Amy's dad, Gene Nuttall, celebrates his 74th birthday on December 8. Happy Birthday, Dad Nuttall! On December 14, my mom will become 59. I wish to express my love and appreciation to her for all she's done to support and encourage me over the years. Two days later, I will mark my 28th birthday. I'm getting older by the minute! And two days after that will commemorate 4 wonderful years since I knelt across the altar from my beloved Amy and heard those wonderful words that bound us together for eternity. These last four years have been wonderful. While our circumstances haven't always been ideal, we have always had each other, and that means a lot. I love you, sweetheart, now and forever!

On December 25, we celebrate Christmas. Either right after posting this post or sometime this week, I will post something specifically Christmas related, but for now, I just want to express my gratitude for the season, and more than that, the reason for the season. Without the birth in Bethlehem, there would be no garden of Gethsemane or cross of Calvary, and I would have reason to despair because of the weight of my transgressions. But because of Him, I will be redeemed from my transgressions and shortcomings and will triumph over all my trials. Because of Him, I have great reason to rejoice.

Life goes on. My work week went very smoothly. Thanksgiving Day, we spent the afternoon with Amy's family, came home and rested, then saw my parents and brother and sister-in-law that night. It was a great holiday that went by far too quickly. The next day, when I presented a list of my upcoming appointments to my supervisor at work, he noticed I mentioned a couple that were for Amy. He asked how long I had been married. I told him it would be four years on December 18. He asked if I had any plans for the anniversary. I told him I would probably be working on that day. He surprised me by saying that I should seriously consider taking that day off to be with my wife and said that he would have no problem whatsoever making the necessary arrangements for me and approving the request for time off. So I am considering it. It would be lovely to spend the day of our anniversary with Amy, especially as we have not always had that opportunity, but at the same time, I don't know what Kelly Services would say about my taking time off for that, as they would be approving the time off in addition to my getting approval from ROI Solutions. So we'll have to think about it and pray about it.

Got my third check from Kelly Services on Friday. Even with taking time off for breaks and lunch, and the time I took off for the appointment with Dr. Green, I worked 35.75 hours during the pay period. However, because of the demands on our pocketbooks and everything coming due at the same time, we will have to settle for paying our rent in two payments instead of one. I am glad our landlord is easygoing about when and how much of the rent is paid. I am also glad that, thanks to his flexibility, we will be all right financially until I get paid again on Friday.

Haven't found a house yet, but it's still early on in the game, so I'm not worried. I'll only hit the panic button if/when mid-May rolls around and we haven't found anything by then. Plenty of time still. And the Lord has confirmed that we need to stay in the American Fork East Stake, so we'll be focusing our search in that area. We have looked into some foreclosed homes, but who knows if/when they'll be on the market. I feel confident we will find the right place for us in the Lord's due time.

My health has been relatively good since I started working. I have struggled a bit more with coughing and allergies since then, and I have also had a lot more stress headaches and migraines. Unfortunately, these often hit when I am at work and can do nothing about them except plow through. With the Lord's help, however, I've not had to take any sick time yet. I know the Lord will continue to sustain me as I provide for my family. I am grateful to Him for His help in sustaining me through my work days.

Well, that's about all that's going on with us. While things could be a lot better, I know they could also be a lot worse. I feel incredibly blessed to be doing as well as I am in the situation I am in. I recognize that the Lord has given me all these blessings. I only hope I am giving Him sufficient credit for them and showing Him sufficient gratitude for them. I hope you, my readers, are all doing well and are still enjoying hearing and reading about my exploits and adventures. I know I am looking forward to seeing what this next week will bring, especially as it will be the first full work week I will have. Until I post again, my readers, I wish you well.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Progress Report: My Job and Other Matters

Hello, all! I know it has been a while since I've posted. Life has been a bit crazy. But I promised myself I would update this blog before going to bed tonight, so here I am. When I last wrote, I had only completed one day of training because I had doctor's appointments lined up. The one that was scheduled for the following Monday was rescheduled. I was kind of ticked off about that because I had taken a week off of work to accommodate the appointment, and I was told that I wouldn't be able to see Katarina Waters after all. Instead Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Utah Hospital scheduled me to see Dr. Michael Green on the 20th of this month. So not only did I wind up unnecessarily missing a week of work, but I had to get another afternoon off because they didn't schedule me correctly in the first place. I will speak more of how that appointment went in a minute.

On Tuesday the 11th, I resumed training. I didn't take any notes on what I was being trained on because I have auditory recall and thus remember quite a bit of what I hear. I learned a lot in the training and had many valuable experiences. That Friday, I got my first paycheck. It was for less than $80, as it only covered the first day of my training, but it was the first money I'd earned at my first job. I cannot adequately articulate the feelings of satisfaction that I got from marking this milestone. It means more than I can possibly put into words to be providing for my family.

On Monday the 17th, I started my first day on the phones. I have had many interesting interactions with customers. Most of them are very good to work with. I've had a few calls that I've had to hand over to a supervisor because either the person on the line requested it or because I didn't have the know-how to handle the relevant issue. I have grown a lot as a call center employee this week, and am able to handle each call with greater confidence and assurance now than I had when I first began. I even logged in some overtime (staying past 4:30 pm), though it may not count as such because I have to clock out for breaks and lunch time every day.

On Thursday, we met with Dr. Michael Green. He listened carefully to my concerns and then gave me the prescription I needed for the medication I take for my muscles. He also talked about how to improve my walking and standing posture and the need to get serious about frequent exercise. He told me quite frankly that if I didn't develop a habit of regular exercise now, I'd likely be looking at an earlier decline in my mobility. I appreciated his candor and will do my best to do better in the future.

I had my first misunderstanding with a supervisor on Friday when he had heard I had said something I wasn't supposed to say about the the essential oils. I was quick to let him know that I knew company policy and would never do a thing like that, and he seemed satisfied by my explanation. I just wish I knew who was trying to get me in trouble with the supervisors. I'd very much like to talk to whoever it was. But it's all in the past.

Also on Friday, two other important job-related developments happened. My team leaders had handed out shift preference papers and had us specify, in order of preference, which shift we'd like to work. My preference order was as follows: 1. Tuesday-Saturday 8:00 am-4:30 pm. 2. Monday-Friday 6:00 am-2:30 pm. 3. Monday-Friday 2:00 pm-7:30 pm. I mentioned to my team leaders, however, that staying on my current schedule of Monday-Friday 8:00 am-4:30 pm would be optimal for me. And apparently they took me seriously. When I inquired of my supervisor on Friday after work what my new shift would be, he replied it would be Monday-Friday 8:00 am-4:30 pm. I am grateful that I can keep my current schedule and won't have to worry about working on an off day or at odd hours.

When I checked my e-mail Friday night, I discovered an e-mail from Kelly Services, the employment agency that got me the job at ROI Solutions. The e-mail directed me to check their eStubs website for my paystubs (note the plural). So I checked my bank account and discovered money there, and when I checked the paystub site, I discovered that with this job, I will get paid every week instead of once every two weeks. This will be a much better arrangement for us. We should be on much more firm financial ground as a result of this. Truly blessings abound!

The weekend has passed by all too quickly. I had physical therapy on Saturday, after which we went and got me some snow boots and ran some other errands. We came home exhausted, our week catching up with us. So we took a nap for several hours. I prepared the lesson I was to teach in Elders' Quorum today and attempted to edit the Sacrament Meeting. But in doing so, I found that there was a problem with the recording just as there had been the week before. Amy cleverly discerned that the problem was due to the batteries not being securely held in place in the recording device. So we replaced the batteries and taped up the back and hopefully that fixed the problem. As we habitually do, we were up very late last night.

Today, Church was great. My lesson went far better than I expected to it go. After Church, our home teachers came by. Amy had a meeting for her calling (she's on the Relief Society Activities Committee), and I had one home teaching visit to do. After we had both returned home, we enjoyed a very leisurely, relaxing rest of the day.

I don't know what all this week will bring. I do know I will be working every day this week except Thursday, when we will gather with Amy's family for Thanksgiving. Hopefully there will be an opportunity for me to see my family on Thursday as well, but we'll see how it goes. Hopefully, with all going well, I will be getting ideas soon for my book, which I haven't worked on in months. In the meantime, I've got more than enough to keep me busy. Hope you all are well and looking forward to reading about the next saga in my life. Until I write again, dear readers, all the best!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Temple Predictions

On the LDS Chuch Growth Blog post about potential new missions, some people in the comments were making predictions about completion dates for future temples. That sounded like fun, so I just had to get on board. And since I am using this blog as a forum to discuss such topics, I thought I would reproduce my personal predictions here. The following is a verbatim copy of a comment I posted on that blog post just a few minutes ago. Enjoy!

Based on information about temples as found on ldschurchtemples.com, these are my predictions for temple order of completion and date:
First, of the three temples undergoing renovation, two will be dedicated in late 2015: Montreal Quebec and Mexico City Mexico. The remaining temple, Suva Fiji, will either be rededicated in late 2015 or early 2016.

Now, of the ones under construction, this is my prediction for completion dates and order:
144. Phoenix Arizona Temple: Will be dedicated on November 16, 2014.
145. Cordoba Argentina Temple: Will be dedicated in early 2015.
146. Payson Utah Temple: Will be dedicated in early- or mid-2015.
147. Indianapolis Indiana Temple: Will be dedicated in mid-2015.
148. Trujillo Peru Temple: Will be dedicated in mid-2015.
149. Tijuana Mexico Temple: Will be dedicated in late 2015.
150. Provo City Center Temple: Will be dedicated in late 2015.
151. Rome Italy Temple: Will be dedicated in late 2015.
152. Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple: Will be dedicated in early 2016.
153. Hartford Connecticut Temple: Will be dedicated in mid-2016.
154. Fort Collins Colorado Temple: Will be dedicated in late 2016.
155. Paris France Temple: Will be dedicated in late 2016.
156. Sapporo Japan Temple: Will be dedicated in late 2016.
157. Meridian Idaho Temple: Will be dedicated in mid-2017.
158. Fortaleza Brazil Temple: Will be dedicated in late 2017. (with all going well. Note that though ground was broken on this temple in 2011, full scale work has yet to begin on this temple.)

Now, if I may be so bold, I would like to give a progress report on the announced temples that haven't had their ground broken. I provide a number for them as well, though the numbers are VERY tentative and will change based on groundbreaking date. This, again, is based on information found at ldschurchtemples.com.
159. Lisbon Portugal Temple: Planning and approval phase; land purchase finalized; groundbreaking
anticipated in late 2014-early 2015.
160. Concepcion Chile Temple: Planning and approval phase; temple and site designs complete; groundbreaking pending.
161. Barranquilla Colombia Temple: Planning and approval phase; temple and site designs complete; groundbreaking pending.
162. Star Valley Wyoming Temple: Planning and approval phase; initial design plans complete; groundbreaking pending.
163. Arequipa Peru Temple: Planning and approval phase; initial design plans complete; groundbreaking pending.
164. Winnipeg Manitoba Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
165. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
166. Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple: Planning and approval phase; groundbreaking pending.
167. Tucson Arizona Temple: Awaiting official site announcement; proposal submitted to Pima County.
168. Urdaneta Philippines Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
169. Durban South Africa Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.
170. Cedar City Utah Temple: Planning and approval phase; awaiting official site announcement.

Well, what do you think?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Potential New Missions for 2015: Matthew Martinich's predictions

Matthew Martinich, whom I've mentioned in the past, is a fellow blogger that focuses on posting developments in LDS Church Growth. Two of his hobbies are to post potential new temple sites (around general conference time) and to post sites where new missions might potentially be established. He has recently posted his projections for which new missions might potentially be created in 2015, and with his permission, I am sharing those predictions. Rather than having an extra long post, I will post a link to his post and anyone interested can follow his predictions there. Before doing so, I want to make it absolutely clear: These are Matthew Martinich's predictions, not mine, and a link to them only appears here with his express permission. That said, here's the link:

Matthew Martinich's Predictions for Potential Missions that may be created in 2015

This is really exciting stuff. His research is thorough, his predictions well thought out and reasoned. I am amazed at how well he is able to pinpoint such changes as this. So let's all show our support to him by keeping our eyes out for new missions in 2015, shall we? Thanks, friends!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My first published work

I am excited to announce that my first published piece will appear in the July 2015 Ensign in the Young Adult section, unless it gets bumped to a future issue for something more important. Here's how it happened: Years ago, I wrote an article in response to a request in the New Era. I sent it in to them. After the staff of the New Era read it, I received word from them that they couldn't use it but were handing it over to the Ensign. Soon after that the Ensign contacted me to have me fill out the necessary paperwork and set the rate for my work and give them permission to publish my work and ownership of it. I waited and nothing happened. I shared the article with only a select few because it wasn't mine anymore. Then on Wednesday I got word from the Ensign that they would be publishing my article finally. They sent me a copy of the final draft to look over. I was kind of bummed out a little because they cut out half of the experience I had written about. But they had warned me up front that the article would be edited for length and clarity. The most important thing is that something will be published under my name. This will be great, because this way I will already be a published author when my first book finally comes out. Anyways, I just wanted to post and let all my readers know this exciting news! All the best until I write again.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Update/Three important Church History Developments/Four Church History Upcoming Events

Hello, readers! I am updating the blog for a few reasons, the least of which is to bring you all up to speed on what has happened since my last post. My weekend went about how I expected it to. I went to training for my job on Monday. When I mentioned that I would have two upcoming doctors appointments in the near future (one with my neurologist Dr. Sharon Weinstein the next day and another with spasticity specialist Nurse Katarina Waters the following Monday), my supervisors determined that, since the training built upon itself day after day, it would be wiser for me to discontinue the training for the job until the following Tuesday. So I enjoyed the training the rest of the day and then came home, tired but happy that I would have another week before I had to worry about continuing the training. I should mention that while I will be working at ROI Solutions, the company I will be serving will be Young Living Essential Oils. The instructor was  kind enough to give us samples of her four favorite essential oils: Stress Away, Peppermint, Lavender and Lime.

Then today, I went to see Dr. Weinstein. She determined that the stress headaches I have been struggling with will likely go away as I get into the job. She also said that the nausea should likewise diminish with the stress but that if it doesn't, I should see my gastroenterologist about whether there was a stomach issue. She said I could discontinue one of my medications since it seems I am doing better. I will be going to Physical Therapy tomorrow and hopefully enjoying the rest of the week before I have to be back at work on Tuesday.

That being said, there were three important developments in Church History that occurred and four Church History upcoming events that I wanted to blog about. First, it was announced by Elder Paul V. Johnson, Commissioner of Church Education, on November 2 during a CES devotional, that where in previous years CES devotionals had been held in January, March, May, September, and November, effective immediately, CES Devotionals will be renamed "Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults: An Evening with (name of speaker)." They will be held three times a year, "on the second Sunday in January, the first Sunday in May, and the second Sunday in September." The devotional will be open to "all young adults, both married and single . . . Students finishing high school or the equivalent are also invited to attend. January devotionals will be held at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah; at BYU–Idaho; or at BYU–Hawaii. May devotionals will be held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City or at other sites at Church headquarters. September devotionals will be held at other locations in the United States." (announcement can be found here.)

Also at the devotional, Elder Johnson additionally announced a change in curriculum for religious requirements for Church-owned schools and institutes as well as seminaries, effective Fall 2015. There are four new courses that will span all standard works: “Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel,” “Foundations of the Restoration,” “The Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon” and “The Eternal Family.” While the standard scripture courses will still be available as electives, these will be required for graduation. Those who have already completed the previous "required" classes are being encouraged to take the four new courses as electives. As I said, this is also supposed to be effective for seminaries, but I haven't found an official source to substantiate that. Here is a link to a couple of sources about that: LDS Church Announces Changes to Religious Education Curriculum
New Religion Classes

The third thing of note that happened was that Pope Francis of the Catholic Church has invited religious leaders and scholars representing 14 faith traditions from 23 countries to a meeting at the Vatican later this month to discuss how men and women complement each other in marriage. The LDS Church was one of the religions invited. The Church will respond to this invitation by sending President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency (who will speak on November 18 representing the Church), Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Bishop Gérald Caussé, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric. For more information on this monumental meeting, click here.

These developments stacked up to make November a very important month in Church History. But that's not all that's going on this month. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf turns 74 on November 6. Elder Richard G. Scott will turn 86 on November 7. A cultural celebration will be held in Phoenix Arizona on November 15, with the temple scheduled to be dedicated the next day, though it is still unclear who will dedicate that temple. (Though likely not President Eyring, as he will be at the Vatican at that time). On November 19, President Thomas S. Monson will surpass President John Taylor to become the 10th longest serving President of the LDS Church. All of these events stack up to make November a most exciting month.

It's past midnight on November 5, so I want to wish my dad, Lee Stokes, a very happy 59th Birthday. The older I get, the more I realize he is not perfect. But with that realization, I also acknowledge that a good majority of what I know about being a good husband and father I learned from him. So Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!

Not much else to report. I will try to write again once my training is complete to let you know how it went. Until I find something else to "sound off" about again, all the best, dear readers!

Friday, October 31, 2014

LDS Church: Women's Meeting now an official General Conference Session

Posting today with some game-changing news that impacts Church history. I have mentioned on this blog before the disagreement I had with fellow Wikipedia editors about whether the General Women's Meeting for women, young women and girls aged 8 and older was an official session of general conference. Well, I found out that yesterday (Thursday), a spokeswoman for the Church officially stated that it is a session of general conference, just as President Uchtdorf had said it was. The First Presidency has announced that from now on, that gathering will be referred to as the "Women's Session" of General Conference. The heading on the general conference website has been changed to reflect this. I was gratified to read of this news. It confirmed what I had been maintaining all along. I was highly tempted to rub this in the face of those editors who moved heaven and earth trying to convince me that I was wrong in so thinking and stating, but thankfully Amy persuaded me to take the higher road. The Church has officially spoken, and the issue is resolved now. So there are and will be six sessions of general conference from here on out. I did feel kind of bad about one thing. Before the news articles came out announcing this change in terminology, the PDF version of the November Ensign had made mention of this "Women's Session" of General Conference in three places: in the table of contents, in the conference summary section, and on the page where the talks from that gathering are reported. I had looked through that PDF file several times and never noticed that. This will not come as a surprise to anyone who knows that my powers of observation are severely lacking and that sometimes I fail to see things that are right in front of my face. For more on this issue, I refer you to two great articles, one from the Salt Lake Tribune and the other from the Deseret News.

Salt Lake Tribune: Women's Meeting now part of General Conference

Deseret News: Women's Meeting now part of General Conference

I will admit, my first inclination was to gloat and rub this in the faces of those who refused to believe me. But my sweet wife, Amy, helped me to realize that I needed to take a more Christlike approach and that the important issue was not that I was right, but that the issue was resolved, especially after so much contention about it, where I could not convince anyone else I was right, and no one else could convince me I was wrong. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the way the other sessions of General Conference are referred to. Sorry if I bored any of you with this post. I just had to blog about this exciting new development in Church history.

In other news, I was able to find out the name and address of the company I will be working for today. It is ROI Solutions, located at 792 East 280 South in American Fork. I also found out that on Monday the company will be starting the day at 7:30 instead of 8:00 am to allow for a half hour meet and greet and for the necessary paperwork to be filled out. So I will have to wake up at 5:30 on Monday to get to work on time, which I am not thrilled about. And it may be that the stuff they have will not be gluten free, which is a double bummer. But I will make sure to have a good breakfast before I go and will then be prepared either way.

I may have mentioned in a previous post that I will be unable to continue seeing my physiatrist ( Dr. Judy Gooch) because the type of Medicaid I have won't allow me to see her at her new clinic in Murray. Someone from her office recommended that I find someone new to see ASAP, but they didn't offer any recommendations. So I e-mailed Dr. Gooch and asked her who she would recommend. She said that Katia Waters, a nurse at the University of Utah Hospital Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, was the best person she could recommend for me. So I made an appointment, and we will be seeing her next Monday. That will be excellent, because it has been too long since I last saw anyone about my spasticity issues. While I have managed on my own okay with physical therapy and Baclofen, it's still nice to have the support of a go-to person in case of questions or emergencies. And since Dr. Gooch couldn't continue to prescribe my Baclofen without seeing me in clinic anyways, it will be good to get in to see Nurse Waters. She comes very highly recommended. If she's even half as good as her reviews say, I'll be in excellent hands. If I can't be seen by Dr. Gooch, it sounds like Nurse Waters is the next best person.

Still no luck on the neurosurgeon search. I will be calling Kathy, the nurse of Dr. Walker, my pediatric neurosurgeon, to explain my situation and see if there is anyone other than the jerk that she would recommend. Mom found a clinic in Murray that I could potentially go to as well. But the only problem with that is that the address for one of the neurosurgeons in Murray that accepts Medicaid Healthy U is different from the one of the clinic in Murray that Mom found. The difference is subtle, which means it might be in the same building, just a different section. I will be trying to sort this all out tomorrow.

In addition, I went to physical therapy today. I thought it would be wise to get in one more weekday visit while I could, because starting on Monday, I'm restricted to Saturday visits once a week and will have to try and be disciplined with my home program (doing it at least once but preferably twice a week). Yesterday, I called my Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to let her know that I had a job. Had to leave a message, though. Hope to hear back from her soon. I also took time yesterday to call Vanessa Howell, my SSI Benefits Specialist, to find out what, if any, impact my working full time at $10 per hour wages would do to my SSI. I also asked her (in a message because of course I can never speak in person to her when I call) what impact, if any, Amy's inheritance (her dad paying for a modest home for us) would have on my SSI if the money never actually came into our hands. She told me at one point that if Amy's dad gave us the money to buy a house that I would lose my SSI, but I don't know if it's a different situation if the money never actually comes into our hands. I also don't know if I would lose my SSI only temporarily or permanently. So hopefully I hear back from both Annemarie Smith and Vanessa tomorrow.

I see Dr. Weinstein on Tuesday. It would be my luck to have made an unbreakable appointment that can't be rescheduled for a later time on the same day during the very week I have training for a job. But I look forward to that visit. I will be glad and grateful to report the good news to Dr. Weinstein that I am feeling better.

I don't know what all will happen with the three days remaining before I start working. I do know that I have Physical Therapy on Saturday morning and Stokes Family pictures and the monthly dinner that night. It will be fantastic to go to Church on Sunday and have the opportunity to fast and listen to testimony meeting and the lessons. Then in the evening there's a CES fireside for Young Adults. The featured speaker will be Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy. Directly after that, I will be going with Amy to my parents' house to get a father's blessing from my dad prior to starting work the next day. Hopefully we don't stay up too late on Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights.  I don't know why it happened, but something woke me up at around 6:15 this morning. I got up and took my first set of pills and tried to go back to sleep. It worked for a couple of hours, but by around 8, I was done for the night. Which is probably just as well, since I will have to get up at 5:30 on Monday and 6 every weekday morning after that to get ready for work on time. It wasn't bad to be restless, though. I had a wonderful morning prayer (which practice I had sadly been neglecting for far too long of late) and had some cereal and read some of the talks from General Conference. It was such a good experience. I wouldn't mind if that happened again tomorrow. But I will be okay if it doesn't. Tomorrow will be my last day to sleep in for a good long while, so if I can make the most of that, all the better.

Well, I've rambled on longer than I meant to. I hope you all are well and that you all are enjoying these updates as much as I enjoy writing them. With the acquisition of a full-time job, some have speculated that my blogging will be more sporadic. But I am determined to make it as regular as I possibly can. Please bear with me if large intervals of time pass between posts. I will write as often as time and circumstances allow. I haven't forgotten my promise to consider posting excerpts from my book, but I will look at doing that when it is closer to the publishing stage. Until I write again, all the best!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Have a Job!

I wanted to write and reveal the good news now that I can. I have a job! Here's what happened: On Friday I got a call from Kelly Services in Provo, one of the employment agencies Scenic View Academy had me working with. We played telephone tag for a while, but when I was finally able to reach Matt, the man who called me, he told me that there was a call center position open in American Fork that he thought I would be eligible to fill. He said that he wanted me to come down to Kelly Services the next day (Saturday) to discuss this prospect and see if I would be a good fit. So on Saturday when he called to let me know he was at the agency (he was commuting from Salt Lake City), we headed down to Provo. I met with Matt for about 20 minutes. He and I visited about my qualifications for the job, and he told me there were two open positions I could potentially fill. One started Monday (yesterday), the other one a week later. He said the job paid $10 an hour and aske about my availability. I told him I was looking for an 8-5 or 9-5 job as I was taking medication in the evening that might make me drowsy and thus render me unable to work. He said he was sure the company would be willing to work with me on that. After we had visited, he said he was satisfied that I could do the job. He promised to call me with further details Sunday evening once he heard back from the company.

On Sunday, Amy was sick and stayed home from Church. I went to fulfill my responsibilities as the Ward Media Specialist and, at her insistence, stayed for the whole block. I greatly enjoyed passing the news of my job on to many of the friends I've made in this ward. Each expressed their elation that things were finally starting to work out for Amy and me. I had the opportunity to be home taught and to go home teaching. The rest of Sunday passed uneventfully. I was more than a little concerned when I didn't hear from Matt.

On Monday, I tried to start getting into the daily routine I will need to follow once I start work next week. Because we went to bed too late, I was unable to follow through with that. I had an appointment with my dentist to get the worst two of my four fillings taken care of. That went well. We visited Amy's dad so Amy could pick up some stuff she needed and get some branches and acorns to make a Thanksgiving wreath to hang on our door. We also got more details about how his buying a house for us would work. It would be Amy's inheritance from her parents. I also received word from the office of my muscle doctor, Judith Gooch, that since Medicaid Healthy U wouldn't allow me to see Dr. Gooch at her new clinic in Murray that I would have to find someone else to manage the medical side of my spasticity issues. So I dashed off an e-mail to her late last night asking for her recommendation as to whom I should see at the University of Utah Hospital to replace her. Haven't heard back yet, but hope to soon. It pains me to have to stop seeing Dr. Gooch. She's been taking care of my spasticity issues since I was a little guy, and I couldn't have asked for a better, more caring doctor to help me manage that. However, my hands are tied, so I will have to make the best of a bad situation.

Last night, we got to bed really late. I had trouble sleeping and tossed and turned for a while before I gave up at 6 and got up. Several hours later, I called Kelly Services and got more details about the job from a different man who was also named Matt. I will be working from 8 am-4:30 pm and will have a half hour lunch. Since I won't be too far away, Amy and I have talked about the possibility of us having lunch together every day, though we haven't worked out the logistics of it yet. The way my job will work is this: The first week (next week) will be training. When the company is satisfied that I have been sufficiently trained, they will refer me to another call center, where I will work from that point on. That was slightly different from what I'd previously been told, so it'll be interesting to see what the truth is. Once I am established with the company, I am to make sure that I present them regularly with a list of my upcoming appointments. Matt (the one I talked to today) assured me that it was not a problem to get time off for my medical appointments. He also said that the company uses electronic time cards so that I don't have to worry about lousing up a physical time card with my awful handwriting. That was  a big relief to me. So, I now have a job and will start on Monday. Hallelujah!

There are a couple of downsides to finally having a job First is the reality that I will no longer be spending as much time with Amy. I will miss her terribly. But if I can see her at lunch every day, that will be great! The other is the fact that I have never worked full time or at all, so I don't know how it will work out for me or how my body, mind and spirit will handle it, but I am just glad that the Lord has finally answered our prayers and let a job fall in my lap after all our blood, sweat and tears about the issue. Best of all, Amy won't ever have to bear the burden of supporting us and earning our living anymore.

With the rest of my day, I contacted Irwin, my employment counselor at Scenic View and let him know about the job. He was ecstatic for me. I left a message for Vanessa Howell, the woman who handles my SSI case, to see first how my earning $10 an hour and working full-time would affect my SSI and what effect, if any, Amy's dad buying us a house would have on my SSI if the money never came into our hands. II attempted to call Annemarie Smith, my Vocational Rehabilitation counselor, but just got an automated voice that directed me to dial one of several extensions that I knew for a fact were out of date. So I will have to try again tomorrow to reach Annemarie. I was able to nap for a couple of hours in the afternoon and felt much improved for the rest I got. We went to Fresh Market to pick up my prescriptions and some Halloween candy. Once again, I made Amy a promise. If she would let us buy enough candy to allow for a generous amount of trick or treaters and none came as in years past, I would buy her dinner somewhere. If we do get trick or treaters, I don't get anything out of the deal except the good feeling of knowing I was right.

The rest of this week will be spent getting myself ready for work. On Saturday evening, we have the monthly Stokes family dinner and we are doing family pictures. I may or may not try to get in to Physical Therapy one other time this week before I go Saturday. I imagine I will stop by my parents' house on Sunday night and ask my dad to give me a father's blessing prior to my beginning work. And I will work and hope and pray for the opportunity to one day stop working at the call center in favor of devoting my full time to writing. But in the meantime, it gives me great relief to know that we will be taken care of. I admit to not knowing what the future holds. But, as ever, I am optimistic that the answers to all of our problems are just around the corner. The Lord is in control of our lives, and we couldn't be in better hands. I will continue to update this blog regularly as time and circumstances allow. Until I write again, all the best!