Sunday, November 24, 2013


Greetings from Connecticut, 2003

November 25 marks ten years of being home from my mission. I don't really know what to think of that, except, Dang! How did that happen? Time moves quite fast sometimes. When I look back at life, it's been a rollercoaster- many ups and downs. 
I suppose that's fitting for someone who has worked at an amusement park. 

I remember the day, I remember leaving the mission home without Sister Coleman, who was staying and touring CT with her mother. I remember feeling awful that I had no companion and was breaking a rule, but there was nothing to be done about it. I remember the elder who had a carry on that easily weighed 50 pounds, he didn't want to pay for a heavy suitcase. I remember a layover in Chicago, where a year and a half earlier I had come through as a scared brand new missionary, and how we ran into a group of brand new missionaries on their way to Connecticut. I remember trying to deplane and how it felt like an eternity until I could get off that plane to run and see my family. Didn't everyone know how anxious I was to see them?? 

I remember how great and surreal it was to be home and see my family. How devastating it is to be released as a missionary, and to become 'mortal'. How weird it was to watch tv or be by myself. How wonderful that Thanksgiving was, two days after arriving home. How hard it was to figure out what to do with myself and find a job. You've had a great adventure and learned so much, now what are you supposed to do with it?

Where do I find myself ten years after arriving home? Someplace I never thought I'd be. I'm nearly halfway done with my second year of teaching. Far away from my family, living in Phoenix of all places. That's right, this mossy Washingtonian is living in the desert. Working in a school that for the last year and a half has been very difficult and brought me to my breaking point at times. I have a blessed life though- I have good relationships with my family and many close people in my life. I have a sweet little apartment that spoils me with it's luxuries. I have a Cheesecake Factory close by! I have sorted through a lot of my things. I have opportunities for creativity as a remake or arrange things in my place. I have a studio area! I have a wonderful ward that has lifted me up and saved me more than they know. I have a temple fairly close and soon I'll have one very close. I have learned a lot about myself and my strengths and weaknesses, having had to work on things that I thought were strengths and grow even more. 

I look back at the hard times- finding new work, moving to Pennsylvania, etc- and how they lead to blessings and good things. The craft store dying gave me a better job with a few more opportunities at BB&B. I hated, absolutely hated moving to Pennsylvania, but then it became a Promised Land of sorts for my family and I. I found a place to go to school and worked hard to graduate, which allowed me this job and life. I grew through service in the branch and very small ward I was a part of out East, as well as my time working with the YSA and planning things for them. My family now has a house and we've had other opportunities for growth. Dad is home more, which is amazing. 

When five years had passed since arriving home from my mission, I was really freaked out and upset. Probably because I felt like I hadn't really accomplished what I wanted. These days it doesn't bother me, I'm calm and relaxed about it and more comfortable in my skin. I have a pretty good life, I've been able to achieve some independence. 

Where will the next ten take me? I don't know, but I know that as I do the will of the Lord and do what I should, then I'll be happy no matter the challenges. His love is always there. I want to do my best to have a blessed life. 

Here I am, ten years later, with a sweet friend at the Mesa temple. Life is good.
And yeah I'm still rockin' black skirts. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Saga Continues

I spent about a month in Mesa with friends until I could move into my apartment in Phoenix- about an hour's drive each way especially with traffic! When I look back on that period of time, I'm amazed at what I survived. Broke down Jeep, rental car, commuting on a crazy freeway, extreme AZ heat, flat tire, paperwork and errands for my AZ credential, and oh yeah, starting work! It was beyond overwhelming. No wonder I didn't sleep so well.

But there were some bright points in that time and adventures to be had.

I got to go to the Mesa temple, my friends live literally two minutes from it which blows my mind- it was hours to get to Palmyra! 

Happy Mom could see it with me- so lovely! 

Olive trees outside- neat!

Enjoyed eating at this place called Tia Rosa:

Finally became an art teacher! 

My room is crazy big!

A mind boggling amount of tortilla choices! 

I'm in the right spot ;)

Another great place in Mesa is Organ Stop Pizza- you get good pizza and awesome organ music performed live.

That whole wall is organ parts! Amazing! 

I know that God is looking over me through everything. When I was exploring my classroom, I opened a cupboard door and was surprised to be face to face with Kermit. Through this whole time I have missed my departed Grandmother dearly and I long to talk with her about all these changes in my life. She was an artist and she loved Kermit and had a stuffed one in her room for as long as I could remember. I took it as a little sign that she was aware of me and loves me. Kermit now has a place of honor on my Smart Board and I smile and think of her every time I look at it.

My world has been turned upside down, but I'm rolling with the punches. Challenges keep you close to the Lord!

Stay tuned for more!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Taking the Leap

I don't even know where to begin in this post, since so many things have been going on. Right at the end of July my prayers were answered and I was offered a position at a middle school in Phoenix and accepted. School began for them at the beginning of August but they didn't expect me to arrive right away. Good thing, because I had a lot of packing and preparation to do!

I spent my time trying to pack for my trip and also not leave a big mess behind in my hurry. I packed many many boxes! The plan was for my mom to accompany me in the Jeep and for us to drive across the country. I'd never driven that far, thankfully my experience with driving long distances to YSA conferences helped prepare me for such a long drive. Boy, I loaded that Jeep up full and it took a lickin' and kept on tickin'. So thankful it made it to AZ!

Bye Zebby, love ya.

Filled that Jeep FULL!
Bye PA!

I brought with me enough stuff to survive and start up an apartment when I got settled. The rest of my many many boxes will be shipped to me (like a pod) soon. I made arrangements to stay with some friends in Mesa, I'll always be so thankful for their help. 

Mom and I left on Aug 14th and arrived in Mesa in the afternoon on Aug 17th. I did most of the driving and Mom did some, mostly in the mornings. It was neat to see so much of the country that I'd never seen before, and now I've added a bunch of states to the list of states I've been in!

Not going to lie, I knew this was the right thing, but still it was a big leap of faith to leave and drive across the country. There's always this small voice of doubt, what if it doesn't work out?

I was glad to have my mom with me for some moral support. We had a real nice time together and I'm thankful for the memories.

St Louis arch!

Gotta love cars sticking out of buildings! 

Waffle House!

Red dirt in TX

New Mexico is beautiful!

And so is Flagstaff, AZ! 

As we headed south from Flagstaff to Phoenix, it got warmer and warmer.....and boy is it warm here! Everyone complains about the humidity (it is monsoon season) but I'll take it over PA! 

It's interesting to see where I ended up. I had no idea where I'd find a job. Everyone asked me where I wanted to go and I had no idea. I did feel that 1) I'd be moving quickly 2) I'd be moving far away and 3) I'd be going someplace warm. 

I'm 3 for 3.

It's pretty crazy and exciting to start a whole new life, but I think I'm up for the challenge. 

Stay tuned for more adventures! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

YW, the Sequel

Well it has now been three Sundays since the Corry Branch was closed. My heart hurt for a few days after the closing but I knew it was for the best. We have now attended the Meadville ward three times and I am glad to report that things are going well. They are very happy to have my family and the others that came from Corry. They have been struggling as well. But these days the chapel is pretty full and RS is full too, it's great. It's really a miracle.

We are working on getting to know people and remember their names and they're working on that with us too. Everyone is very nice though there really aren't many women for me to be actual friends with. What else is new. We went to a ward dinner this weekend and I felt a little lonesome. I do have to say that we sure lucked out with this unit that we have been assigned to- the potluck was one of the best I'd ever been to! They had big grilled steaks for everyone and there were other wonderful sides. Yum!

That night I got interviewed by the bishop and asked if I would be the first counselor in their YW program and I gladly accepted. I love being in YW! I was bummed to be released from my duty in Corry. It was pretty funny being interviewed by a bishop wearing a Hawaiian shirt, I had to laugh. Today I was sustained and set apart and it was great to be in YW. They also put in a senior missionary as the second counselor, she's very nice and so I'm excited to work with both her and the president. I think we will work well together.

Bishop and I talked about how the branch had closed and I told him it was sad but a relief in a sense. The fact that we could go to a potluck and not have to do everything was huge.

It's nice being a part of YW without having to do everything- I made some comments during the lesson instead of having to do the entire lesson and I'll admit it's a weight taken off my shoulders to have someone else in charge. The thing is that Meadville has no active girls, except for the 2 that came from Corry. We had to import some to Meadville! So that will be our big challenge, trying to get some girls to come.

So I'm the first from the Corry group to get a calling in Meadville. I had the opportunity to attend a YSA conference in Gettysburg (it looked really fun) or to attend a huge Youth Conference (Sis Dalton was in attendance!) in Pittsburgh this weekend and I turned them both down- I didn't know why, but it just didn't feel right to attend either. And then I'd think "What is wrong with attending a church function?", as I love attending things like that. I didn't know why until this weekend. If I had attended either, I wouldn't have been at that picnic to be interviewed and my being in YW would have been delayed. And I feel that it is timely that I be there.

In other Elizabeth news, I received word that I did not get a teaching position that I had interviewed on the phone for and thought that I would probably get. That was hard, because I'm trying so hard to get a job and be independent and that was a big blow. I wanted that job and I had researched it out and it felt right. But you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. And keep filling out those job applications.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, that I know.

Stay tuned for Birthday fun, art museum and finally, Girls Camp!

Monday, July 9, 2012


Today we found out that our branch that we have attended for the past five years is to be no more. As of this afternoon, the Corry Branch is no longer in existence. So as you might guess, today was not an easy day. 

We received a phone call earlier in the week saying that today's scheduled branch council meeting was canceled and also that our meetings were to be in reverse order- I'd teach YW during first hour and then we'd have the Sacrament during third hour. All of which made my family rather suspicious that something would happen. I figured we'd either be getting a real branch president (we've been without one for a few months, with a member of the stake presidency filling in) or the branch would be closed. I guess I got my answer today.

After the Sacrament, President Miller made the announcement. I'm sure it was not an easy decision or an easy statement to have to say- he used to attend the branch and loved it. He said that like seven years ago, a visiting general authority had said that our stake couldn't support so many (9 at the time) units. I guess I should be thankful that we lasted this long, and weren't disbanded years ago. Another branch was disbanded right before we moved out here, so we always knew it was a possibility. Today, the only other branch besides us was disbanded as well.

After the announcement, we were asked to raise our right hands to sustain the decision, and I tell you that that was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. But I did it. After that, he answered questions and we sang "Because I Have Been Given Much" (with me leading the music) and after the meeting was over, we hugged and cried and then cleaned out personal items from the building. Tomorrow the building will be re-keyed, so it was urgent to get our things. I had added quite a lot of things to the YW room over the years, and what with Mom and my sister also being RS and Primary presidents, there was a lot of stuff to take home. It would have been easy to be dishonest and take things that didn't really belong to me, but I resisted. It was sad having to clean out the YW room. 

Our branch members have been divided between four wards. Everyone will have to drive quite aways to get to their new ward. We will now have to drive an hour to get to our new ward. Some of my friends, upon hearing the news, were excited that I'd now be attending a ward, but the truth is that our new place is also struggling very much, despite being a "ward." They have low attendance (not much larger than our branch), problems having enough Priesthood members and no active YW. I am sure they are excited for the handful of us now going to this ward.

The aftermath has been interesting, seeing who was surprised, and who wasn't. I've been worrying about this for like the last year and a half, so today was disappointing but not unexpected, though I didn't think it would happen this soon. I figured it would happen when the several elderly people in our branch passed away. Some people didn't understand why, others who weren't there today asked me when exactly it was going to happen, as if it was scheduled on the calendar. Some were very shocked, even though they attend fairly regularly.

Today's experiences has made me think of Christ's Second Coming- we know he is coming and we know of the signs, but we don't know when it will happen. And we will all see the same signs and some will recognize the signs and some won't. Those of us who study and pay attention will be observant to the signs and it will not be a surprise. 

Life brings trials and this is no different. Being in a small branch had its challenges. Now we have different challenges. Will we still be obedient and faithful? Will we resist anger and judgement and disappointment? Will we choose to embrace our new path and be happy?

I'm reminded of an experience on my mission, many moons ago. Towards the end of my mission, we were losing sister missionaries and not getting replacements. Other sister areas had been handed over to elders as we got fewer and fewer in number. My companion and I were asked to add another companion, hers had gone home. For about two weeks, the three of us covered both her area and ours. And then we were told to leave our area and serve full time in the new area. We respectfully begged to continue to have both areas, but it was not to be. It was very hard to obey and to be cheerful about it, but we did as asked. Our area went to the elders and we stayed full time in the new area. It was a challenge, but I was glad to have met it. It was a lesson in having faith in God and in our leaders. 

It's hard not to feel bad. Did I give it my all? I especially feel bad for the elderly people in our branch, they were the pioneers of the area. They used to attend church in Erie and here and there in rented spaces, and then they finally got a building in Corry and now to see this happen. 

Well, Corry Branch, thank you for five good years. Thank you for showing us love and kindness. Thank you for good friends. Thank you for wonderful experiences. Thank you for growth. Thank you for 4 sweet years in YW. When Dad was scouting out places to live, he wanted to attend the branch. At first I resisted, but it turned out to be a good growth opportunity for me as well as my family. 

When the YW room was done being cleaned out, I shut the door and said a little prayer of thanks.

My YW room, several people told me it was their favorite room in the building. 

No more branch dinners in the chapel?

Our sweet little building, we'll miss you. 

We'll see what life has in store for us in our new unit. I'm sad to be released from YW and intrigued to see what new calling I receive. I'm glad I was able to bear my testimony a week ago on Fast Sunday- I didn't know that would be my last opportunity here.

Into each life a little rain must fall. Life goes on, I guess... 

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Can you believe that I've now lived in PA for five years? Pretty crazy. In some respects I feel like I've lived here a long time and in some respects I feel like I've just gotten here. I guess it's a sign when people think I've lived here a long time and I have to correct them, that I am not a native!

I started this blog after the move (and lucky for you or else you'd have been subjected to a lot of whining!) and I don't think I've shared these photos, so here goes. 

Let me sum up: moving was a long, difficult process. We were actively moving from March to July. And before that I dealt with people coming up to me at church and either crying that we were leaving or going "You're still here??". That went on for a good year. No joke. 

Here's how I spent my 4th in 2007....loading an ABF trailer of leftover stuff after the movers had come and gone twice. So much fun....we were so busy that we didn't even have time to stop for sparklers. 

July 5th, Dad and I flew to PA. 
Mom and Laura came a couple days later with the critters.
Hello Barbie suitcases!

Last photo of me at home.
I look so happy...err.....
I really wasn't happy to leave.
I walked up my driveway and got in the car.
I still regret not taking a good last look.

It's not the same anymore.

Dad and I at the airport:

Keep in mind I never got to scout out PA before moving. Blind faith!
All I could do was really hope that PA would be ok.

This is what awaited me:

Boxes and furniture randomly squished everywhere in our little house. 
My room:

Main room:

Like the mountain of boxes?

 It's really hard to put anything away in the kitchen when the cupboards are covered over:

There were even more boxes than what you see!
It was like a puzzle to get things unpacked!
It took a couple months to get things livable!
Sadly it's been 5 years and I'm still dealing with boxes!

My wall of packing paper:

We will never run out of paper for the woodstove!

You find new ways to entertain yourself- 
like creating a tunnel out of a huge box for the dog!

It's weird to see your cars on a big rig like this!
They got shipped over. 

It was all pretty overwhelming to start over in a new place. 
Then right after I moved, this butterfly came and posed for me in the driveway.
In a way he was saying, "It's gonna be ok Liz". 
I never had one pose for me up close like that before.
I always listen to what butterflies tell me. 

I look back on those days and I have grown so much since moving to PA.

It took a lot of strength to start all over with school and meet new people at church and YSA. 
I think my family has grown as a result too.

I feel a lot stronger and fulfilled these days.

Thank you PA.

I never thought I'd ever say that. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sidewalk Chalk

I'd read in the paper that our neighboring little town was giving people the opportunity to do sidewalk chalk as part of the town's festival last weekend. I thought that would be super fun since I love doing sidewalk chalk, so I signed up to do 2 sidewalk panels. There's something intriguing about art that washes away. It cost $10, I'm assuming to help pay for the chalk! I've been busy, I was looking forward to a fun distraction.

I didn't know what to draw, it just kinda came to me when I got there.

First I started with a butterfly:

Know why I did a side profile? Cause it's hard to make symmetrical butterflies when you're crouched over!

 And then I attempted one of the lighthouses on Presque Isle:

I loved the bright colored chalk they provided, a good variety of colors! 

Other artists at work:

I worked right by Spiderman. 

It was fun to have people from the community come up and see what I was doing and say hello. Also saw some friends who were enjoying the park. 

I'd love to go back and do these again better, but it was pretty fun. I was covered in chalk dust and my hands were blue! The next day I hurt from using muscles that I don't normally use while crouching on the ground to draw!

I love the part in Mary Poppins where they look at the beautiful detailed chalk drawings on the ground. Someday I'd love to use smaller pieces of chalk to make a more detailed image!

 I need some sunny days and some time to do that!

Friday, June 15, 2012

I Love...

There's some various things to love these days. Gotta stay positive. 

I Love...
...matching the dresser I'm painting 
(I'll show ya pics when it's done!)

I Love...

...helping the YCL's with their camp sign
(I did the lettering and they did the Tangled-esque lights)

I Love...
...summoning Thor's powers when hammering together a tent platform with the YSA.

I Love...
...wedging myself in the floor while I work

I Love...
...that we finished it in about 4 hours! 
(and I love that I get bragging rights at camp..."Girls, go to sleep...on the platform that I built!")

 I Love...
...that my never opened/used mini fridge still works after winning it when I worked at the amusement park ten years ago!
Now I can sell this baby!

I Love...

...visiting my student teaching placements and seeing what they've been up to since I left!

I Love...
...Mom's pansies. So cute this year. 

I also love the fireflies that are out and about in the evening...but I don't have a real good way to photograph them!

 They're magical.