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He started “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” on 19 February 1968. The show’s purpose, as put forth by Mr. Rogers, was to promote: good self esteem, self control, imagination, creativity, curiosity, appreciation of diversity, cooperation, patience, and persistence.  I found some interesting things about this good, decent man that I’d like to share.

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1) Many of Mr. Rogers’ famous sweaters he wore on the show were made by his mother.

2) The reason Mr. Rogers started wearing sneakers on the show was because they made less noise than normal dress shoes when moving around behind the sets.

3) Mr. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister.  In 1962, he received a Bachelor of Divinity degree and was ordained as a minister in the United Presbyterian Church and charged with continuing his work on creating and contributing to wholesome children’s television programs, which was his passion.

4) Mr. Rogers got into TV because the first time he saw a TV show it had “something horrible on it with people throwing pies at one another…”  He stated, “I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there was some way of using this fabulous instrument to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen.”

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5) Mr. Rogers was a vegetarian.  He didn’t smoke or drink or seem to have any major vices.  He also stayed married to the same woman until his death; their marriage lasted 47 years.  About the only even slightly “scandalous” thing Mr. Rogers seemed to do, which he revealed in an interview, was that he swam laps completely in the buff nearly every morning of his adult life at various clubs that allowed nude swimming at certain times of the day.

6) Contrary to rumors spread about on the Internet, Mr. Rogers was never a sniper in the military nor was the reason he wore sweaters because he had tattoos all over his arms and body, one for each person he killed.  These, and other similar rumors, first started on the Internet around 1994 and saw a surge in popularity after his death.  Mr. Rogers never served in the military and was a pacifist.

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7) Unlike on most children’s shows, Mr. Rogers played himself not just in name, but also in personality and mannerisms, changing nothing about how he acted off camera to how he acted on camera.  His reasons for this were that: “One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self. I also believe that kids can spot a phony a mile away.”

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8) 895 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood were filmed with the first episode broadcasting in 1968 and the last episode shot on December of 2000 and was subsequently aired in August of 2001.

9) Mr. Rogers famously didn’t mind if people recorded his show with a VCR, arguing for people’s right to do so in a 1979 case Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc.  At the time, it was being argued by the opposition that this constituted a copyright infringement.  Mr. Rogers was one of the few involved in television that did not believe so and felt people should be allowed to record programs.  The Supreme Court noted that Mr. Rogers’ testimony was a significant piece of evidence that helped lead them to their ultimate decision.

Specifically, Mr. Rogers’ stated: Some public stations, as well as commercial stations, program the ‘Neighborhood’ at hours when some children cannot use it … I have always felt that with the advent of all of this new technology that allows people to tape the ‘Neighborhood’ off-the-air, and I’m speaking for the ‘Neighborhood’ because that’s what I produce, that they then become much more active in the programming of their family’s television life. Very frankly, I am opposed to people being programmed by others. My whole approach in broadcasting has always been ‘You are an important person just the way you are. You can make healthy decisions.’ Maybe I’m going on too long, but I just feel that anything that allows a person to be more active in the control of his or her life, in a healthy way, is important.

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10) Mr. Rogers once appeared as preacher, Reverend Thomas, on an episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman called “Deal with the Devil”.

11) Mr. Rogers did the voices on the show for: King Friday XIII, Queen Sara Saturday, Henrietta Pussycat, Daniel Striped Tiger, Lady Elaine Fairchild and Larry Horse, among others.  He also composed most of the music on the show.


12) Mr. Rogers once appeared on the Soviet Union children’s show Spokoynoy Nochi, Malyshi (Good Night, Little Ones) and was the first foreign guest to do so.  That show has been on the air since 1964.

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13) Mr. Rogers didn’t just try to teach children important life lessons and the like, but he also produced a series of specials intended for parents called “Mister Rogers Talks to Parents About X”, where X was whatever the topic of the day was.  These shows were meant to help parents be able to answer any questions their child might have after watching a particular Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episode.

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14) Mr. Rogers was red/green colorblind.

15) Fred Rogers died of stomach cancer at the age of 74 years old on February 27, 2003.

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One of the things I’ve been thinking about which I’d like to focus on during this coming year is optimism.  I remember that President Gordon B. Hiinckley invited us to “cultivate an attitude of happiness – cultivate a spirit of optimism.”  I’d like to do that increasingly.  And on this first Monday of a New Year I want to give a SHOUT-OUT to one of my examples of happiness and optimism “in spite of” (so many can relate to this – that we cultivate such qualities “in spite of” all that might be happening in our lives which is oh so challenging).  I’ve chosen ANNE FRANK for today.


I am so impressed with her – with all that she understood and shared at such a young age.  I’m thankful her diary was preserved/saved by Miep Gies (I’ll give her a shout-out another day), and that Miep gave it to Anne’s Father, who somehow survived the Holocaust.



So for today: THANK YOU, ANNE FRANK, for your example of courage and good cheer – for your optimism and happy spirit.


One other thing I want to add before I include a long quote about her is that without her diary we’d know little or probably nothing at all about this great soul.  Are YOU keeping a journal?


Anne Frank was a young girl who displayed consistent optimism even in the face of extreme danger. While hiding with her family from the Nazis, she always looked on the bright side of things. She wrote about her family’s hiding place, called the Annex, in her diary, calling it “an ideal place to hide in.” She wrote, “It may be damp and lopsided, but there’s probably not a more comfortable hiding place in all of Amsterdam. No, in all of Holland.”


The Annex was the place that her family hid in for twenty‑five months! They did not step foot outside the Annex once during those two years, yet Anne never complained.


Her family was also forced to remain completely still from 8:30 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. every day so that no one outside the Annex would hear creaking from the floorboards and discover their hiding place, and yet Anne still remained happy and jovial. She and all members of her family did not move for up to ten hours each day in order to remain undetected, and yet she wrote in her journal that the Annex was “a little piece of blue heaven, surrounded by heavy black rain clouds.”


She remained optimistic and patient, reminding all of us that attitude is a choice. That’s incredible.  It’s wonderful!  We should be able to find lots and lots of reasons for being optimistic and cheerful and grateful.  May we find more of these and other blessings in 2016.







It may seem strange to have what I’m about to share as a “shout-out.” But I’m shouting for JOY, and I hope I can adequately explain why.  I had an experience yesterday afternoon which has blessed and influenced and happified me to the very center of my heart and soul.  And Steve said I could write about it – about him – on my blog.  Steve is a dear friend, and I might mention that he’s also a very dear friend of Fei’s. (We used to do skits with/about Fei when we’d have MTC parties).  25 years ago, as a result of many “happenings,” Steve lost his membership in the Church.  It broke many hearts, including his.  But last evening, in the very same stake center where he’d lost his membership, he was baptized. And yes, I can’t help weeping as I even write those words down.  We’ve been in touch during these years.  One of my favorite times was when Fei and I took him to breakfast in Palo Alto.  I know that there have been some dark and discouraging times for my friend, but all of that melted away last evening. It’s been quite a while since I’ve cried so long and so hard in a public setting!  But I was in good company – we ALL cried!  As Steve stepped into the font with his eldest son, he was already “adding to the water.”  And as his son baptized him (now I’m sobbing again) with those incredibly beautiful words, Steve came up out of the water and they clung to each other, sobbing. And all the rest of us were sobbing too.  How could we help it? This is the quality and depth of JOY which truly cannot be reduced to words.  I loved every single thing about this experience.  I loved seeing friends with whom we worked (served) at the MTC.  I loved having Jim play the organ (as that pipe organ has probably rarely been played) for a long time before the meeting began.  I loved singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” with everyone, especially with Sug, whom I sat beside. I loved the way we grabbed each other’s hand and held tight. The chapel was full, and we sounded like a wonderful choir. I loved it that Ric offered the opening prayer – he has kept in touch with Steve all through these years and is a Saint. I loved the chance to visit with him and his wife afterward.  I loved seeing and hearing all of Steve’s grandchildren sing “I Am a Child of God.” That hymn – those words – like everything else yesterday meant more than usual. Much more. I loved the extraordinary message Kieth shared about Steve’s journey to yesterday, and of some of the sacred miracles which happened along the way. I loved being so close as Steve was baptized. I was deeply, deeply moved by the tears of the witnesses, two of his loved ones, James and Jamie. I loved the reverence and holiness of it all.  I loved how all of “Steve’s missionaries” (from Bolivia days) who’d come gathered to the front of the chapel (along with his children, who were missionaries too!) and sang “Called to Serve.” I loved their tears. I loved sitting by a dear “MTC friend” Richard and his wife Valerie. I loved the amazing message Steve’s son Carl shared with us about the GIFT of the Holy Ghost. I loved hearing “O Divine Redeemer,” and as with the other hymns and ALL that was shared… the words sank deeper and brought more exquisite feelings of love and gratitude than I can express. I loved – oh how I loved – the prayer offered by Steve’s brother Jeff as he confirmed his brother and said those words – “Receive the Holy Ghost!” – with such love and power. I loved the blessings he included for Steve… SO beautiful, SO meaningful.  I loved it that Steve agreed to share his testimony.  It was incredible. More tears…. (did they ever stop? I don’t think so).  He mentioned many who were there, including a Bishop who came to visit him during the time he lived in Salt Lake. Steve said “I think I let him in because he rode a motorcycle.” That Bishop asked Steve to come and play the organ in their ward, and (reminding the ward members that Steve wasn’t a member and so could not be sustained as the organist) asked for everyone who wanted to let him know he was loved and appreciated to raise their hands… and everyone did.  Several stake presidents were there.  People who were in Steve’s ward when he was a Bishop. Oh, it was more beautiful and tender and unforgettable than I can ever explain or express adequately.  One thing I felt was “No WONDER the Father killed the fatted calf!!!”  (The story of the Prodigal Son is one of the most beautiful stories ever written).

aaaa1There was NO ONE there last evening who had ANY feelings akin to those of the brother of that son. We were “one heart and one mind.”  We were SO HAPPY!  There was hardly room for AIR in the chapel because of the JOY!!!  Steve shared from the center of his heart, and we received it in the same place.  It really “got me” when he said that “I lost my membership 25 years ago in this very building – down that hallway (and he pointed).” I’m wishing the whole evening had been recorded – especially Steve’s sweet, honest, tearful testimony.  And then we sang “I Need Thee Every Hour.” I can’t really explain what I felt as I sang and wept…. Some very personal responses to some questions I’ve had on my mind were answered….  Joseph, one of Steve’s beloved missionaries, offered the closing prayer.  It took him a long time to be able to begin. I had noticed that he was unable to sing during “Called to Serve” because of how he was feeling. Oh, if I could just put into words what happened in a dedicated building the evening after Christmas on a cold, snowy night (it was 14 degrees as I drove home). . . . I know that there were angels round about – ALL about!! – to join us in an experience we will never EVER forget. Welcome HOME, dearly beloved Steve!






I may have mentioned my dear friend Ann Lewis before. Without her, I wouldn’t be here (on the planet).  She and I were companions in Nigeria, West Africa, 1984-85, and she saved my life. Literally. It’s a long story, but you can imagine how much I love her, and how thankful I am for her.  She and her husband John are currently serving in the Washington Yakima Mission, and oh how I love reading things on their blog (it makes me tired just reading about all they’re doing!).


They are currently getting ready for Christmas, collecting all the mail (including boxes) arriving for their many missionaries, preparing special gifts for each one.  Their daughter arrives on Thursday (from a semester abroad in Jerusalem).  Their son Adam and his wife arrive on the 24th.  And their son Aaron will finish his mission in Chile (he’s in the very same mission where Adam served) and arrive in Yakima on the 29th.  WOW!  What a Christmas they’re having!!


I love what Ann added in a note to me: “It’s 24/7 missionaries.  I wish you could feel their goodness.  I had no idea I could love so many so much.”



Ann sent the following Christmas song to me which I want to share with you today. What beautiful words!  What an exquisite melody!  ENJOY!  (I hope all of this works)


CAROL OF JOY – By Eileen Berry

Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry;
Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky.
Lengthening shadows,
Dark closing in;
Then, through the stillness, carols begin!

Oh fallen world, to you is the song–
Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy!
Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!

Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow;
Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep, empty valley veiled by the night;
Hear angel music–hopeful and bright.

Oh fearful world, to you is the song–
Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong!
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound–
A carol of joy– A Saviour is found!

Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes!
Thrill to the chorus filling the skies.
Look up sad hearted–witness God’s love;
Join in the carol swelling above!

Oh friendless world, to you is the song!
All Heaven’s joy to you may belong!
You who are lonely, laden, forlorn:
Now unto you a Saviour is born!






What TEACHERS make


The dinner guests were sitting around the table after a fine meal, discussing life.  One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?”  He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers:  “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”  To stress his point he said to another guest; “You’re a teacher, Bonnie.  Be honest. What do you make?”


Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, “You want to know what I make?”  She paused for a second, then began.   “Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for five minutes without an iPod, Game Cube, or movie rental.

She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table. “You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them criticize. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.  I teach them to write and then I make them write. I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in math. I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity. I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe. I make my students stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, because we live in the United States of America.

“Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.”  Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.  “Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention, because they are ignorant. You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make?”





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SALT LAKE CITY — Growing up in Oklahoma, country music legend Garth Brooks was part of a blended family, but the youngest of six boys was never allowed to use the term “step” or “half” when referring to his five older siblings. They were all just brothers.  For him, the lesson of loving your family fully translated into his participation in sports, which he has always wanted to pass onto young people. Today, the music icon uses his celebrity to help instill those virtues in kids who live in the cities he visits while on tour.  As part of his current World Tour, the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation teams up with ProCamps during each tour stop.

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Teammates for Kids, established in 1999, provides scholarships for underprivileged children, allowing them to attend ProCamps Sports Camps, hosted by some of the biggest names in professional sports.  “We take a (pro) player and that player pledges so much (money) for a home run, a tackle, etc.,” Brooks explained. “We find sponsors to triple it and 100 percent of the money goes to the kids.”  The “Teammates ProCamp” events vary by sport. Brooks participates in each camp.  After playing to a sold-out crowd till 2 a.m. Saturday at Vivint Arena, Brooks met a group of kids at the Northwest Recreation Center Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake City in Rose Park on Saturday afternoon. He was joined by former BYU and NFL players Ryan Denney and Daniel Coats.

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Brooks said getting the chance to touch the lives of young kids is gratifying and reminds him of his own childhood and also what it was like playing with his kids when they were young.  “I see my daughter in everyone of these girls’ faces here,” Brooks said.  Coats was in the audience at both of Brooks concerts on Friday and said he was grateful to be able to participate in the camp on Saturday.  “It’s an amazing thing that a guy so talented could have a heart so big,” he said. “I remember being young and in these camps. It was the time of our lives. Now to come help (lead these kids), to see kids that look like our kids having fun and getting some exercise is an amazing thing.”  Denney said he appreciated being involved in such a unique opportunity to help the young boys and girls learn about teamwork.  “These kids can come out and meet people that they might not get to meet in other circumstances,” he explained. “To come out and teach them a few skills while trying to inspire them to work on their athletics and be good people is a great opportunity.”  Brooks said he loves creating environments that get kids together so they can make new “teammates” and expand their horizons beyond what they normally experience.  “We challenge these kids to walk away knowing somebody they didn’t know when they got here,” he explained. “That’s what it’s all about — relationships, loving one another and going through life together. That’s why we’re here.”

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Garth Brooks talks with kids about loving each other and themselves


The post for today is a genuinely sincere and enthusiastic SHOUT-OUT to the fans of football in NEBRASKA (and I’m sure they’re great fans for other sports as well). Many of you probably know that BYU beat Nebraska in the last second of the game with a fantastic pass from the new QB, Tanner Mangum, to Mitch Mathews.  I’ve been at games where the crowd of the team that loses (especially at the very last of the game) have gone crazy with insults and rude (beyond rude) behavior. Not in Nebraska. The exact opposite happened. There may even be someone reading this who was there and can “back mee up” on this. The inscription above the stadium’s main entrance reads, “Through these gates pass the greatest fans in college football.” After all I’ve read and seen about the game on Saturday, I believe that’s not just a hope – it’s a reality.


Excerpts from a column by Lafe Peavler in the Deseret News: If you are any sort of college football fan, you’ve already heard all about Tanner Mangum’s last-second touchdown pass to stun Nebraska on Saturday. However, there’s some things that might get lost among all the emotion of BYU‘s bittersweet win. For BYU fans that made the journey to Lincoln, it really was an unforgettable experience, and not simply because of the game. Nebraska fans really ARE the nicest fans ever. …Cornhusker fans have a reputation for being the nicest fans in college football, and they did not disappoint on Saturday. Several BYU fans and members of the media that made the trip to Lincoln commented on how wonderful Nebraska fans are. The most impressive thing was that Nebraska was this courteous to visiting BYU fans both before AND after the game. There’s almost nothing worse in sports than to watch your team lose at the last second. So, hats off to the Huskers for being so nice.


Just about every article reaping BYU’s last-second win over Nebraska mentions that this loss is the first home-opener the Huskies have lost in 30 years. However, one most impressive streak is still going strong. Saturday’s game was the Huskers’ 341st consecutive sellout. This streak goes all the way back to 1962. That’s an NCAA record, by the way. It’s also 96 games ahead of second-place Notre Dame. And there’s no doubt that every seat in Memorial Stadium was filled. A careful look over the crowd on the TV broadcast confirms that the Huskers filled their house. It was another example of an exemplary college football fan base.



Chad Lewis reported that “A sea of red fans cheered our team buses as we pulled into the stadium. Total class. I love Nebraska.” Cornhusker fans were inviting BYU fans to their tail-gate parties all over the parking lot. GregWrubell said that: “Rolling away from the gate in Omaha. Leaving Nebraska with fondest memories; people in the state are generally some of the nicest you’ll find.”  Jason Scott: “At dinner last night with 6 family members, the waiter informs us the meal is ‘on the Huskers tonight,’ paid by anonymous.” Greg Wrubell added: “And not the first story like that I have heard since last night; very cool.”  And another: “The Nebraska fans were unlike any fan base I’ve ever seen. They were so courteous and so engaging even after a loss.”


An ESPN analyst (Merril Hoge) called this Nebraska game “one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.”  He has a son on the BYU team and was not “on the job” at the game, But afterward in a national interview (ESPN’S Mike&Mike show), he said that it wasn’t the win or even the way BYU won that was the most impressive thing he saw Saturday in Lincoln. Instead, it was the Husker faithful who left an impression he couldn’t shake. “Win or lose, I walk out of that experience being one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had at a sporting event because of the Nebraska fans,” Hoge said. “Honestly, I’ve never been around 90,000 fans that were louder, smarter and more respectful. They were classy.” He went on to tout Husker fans’ attitudes after the game, saying they exemplified what sports should aspire to be. “If we wanted a model of how sports should be, you go to Nebraska and experience that,” Hoge said.


And so a HUGE SHOUT-OUT to the people of Nebraska, especially those 90,000 (OK… not all of those who attended were from Nebraska, but I’m just saying….) who were at the game on Saturday. I wish ALL fans could be more like them!!  GO BIG RED!




WOW!  Two in a row! Can’t help myself! This time it’s Annalee (who just happens to be a cousin to Lily). Her blog is “Prayer, Purity, and Personal Progress,” and it’s amazing. She describes herself as living in the sunny, sunny south, and her blog is just a few months old. Her interests are: Reading, writing, singing, playing the piano, and spending time with my family (this includes living and dead! I love family history and going to the temple to do baptisms). Her favorite music: My favorite hymns?! That is one hard question!! I guess my top favorites–including Primary songs–are (in no particular order!): I Know that My Redeemer Lives, We’ll Bring the World His Truth, If You Could Hie to Kolob, and I Am a Child of God. Her favorite books: Book of Mormon, Tennis Shoes Adventure Series, and of course, my Personal Progress book is pretty cool, too! Her blogs are wonderful. She has a “Value Video of the Month” (this month it’s FAITH: “From Fear to Faith”). She says her Aunt suggested she do this (well done, Aunt!!… We can probably have more influence on each other than we realize!!). Other blog titles: “Press Forward with a Steadfastness in Christ,” “Are You a True Disciple of Christ?” And these are not just “short chats” (like a lot of my stuff) – they are in depth and very meaningful. When you go to her blog (I know you’re planning to do that), be sure to get down to the “Now Serving” video – it’s SO GOOD!  She has also posted the last 3 Conference talks given by President Russell M. Nelson. I read “The Sabbath is a Delight” this morning. WOW. A good reminder. I need reminders. Even though I heard him give this message, it really taught me (and reminded me of) many things I can do different (better… BEST) on the Sabbath.  THANK YOU, ANNALEE!!!



It began when Christen at Deseret Book forwarded an email to me from someone named LILY HOWELL.


I had no idea who Lily was (I’ve never met her), but I sure do NOW. Here’s that first note to me on 04 May of this year: Dear Sister Edmunds, I am a 13 year old from Salt Lake, and I want to thank you for your wonderful talks. I love listening to your BYU devotionals and I especially enjoy your CD, Peace Amidst Suffering, which was given to me several years ago. Thank you so much for listening to the Holy Ghost as you speak so that those who listen can easily be inspired. Sincerely, Lily Howell   P.S. Apparently you and my grandma knew each other at some point. Her name is Brenda Ann Morrison Badham. Small world[?].

Here’s my note back to her: YES YES YES … your Grandma and I were dear friends through our last year of high school and beyond.  How I love her!  Your note has brought back a zillion memories!  How kind of you to send me a note.  It tells me something about you if “Peace Amidst Suffering” is a talk you enjoy — that one is very personal (as you can probably tell).  I gave it at BYU at the Women’s Conference, and I was the speaker right before Gladys Knight (if you don’t know who she is, ask your Grandma).  So I knew everyone came to MY talk just so they could have a good seat for HER talk.  And I began by saying that – that I knew the reason they were there… and I said “I’m one of the PIPS!”  (I hope that will make your Grandma smile!).  I love your name, Lily.  I have a great niece with that name, and I’ve always loved it. If you have time, write and tell me more about yourself – and please tell your Grandmother that I still love her.  What a gentle, good soul!

I sent her an internet hug, and she one back:

Internet hug    ReturnedHug

On 06 August I got another note from Lily: Thanks so much for your email! I was so glad to hear about the sweet friendship you and my grandmother share. Unfortunately, Grandma has been hospitalized for about a month after a surgery. The operation itself went well, but other problems have arisen during her recovery. Her digestive system isn’t working well, she has a heart race problem (meds are currently keeping that under control), and pneumonia. It’s been a tough ride for her. Emotionally, she’s quite tired, but seems calm. I did call her and tell her about your delightful message, and she said it made her day. She remembers riding to Nevada with you to get braces and staying with your family sometimes. Thank you so much for giving me that message for her. I know it meant a lot to her. I am a 13 year old homeschooler. I enjoy reading, crocheting, family history, and blogging (I recently wrote up a post about my grandma– you can read it here). I have younger brothers and a three month old sister (pictured above).  Thank you so much for being so considerate and kind. I really appreciate the kind words about my grandmother. We have a feeling that she won’t be going home. We’ll just have to see what happens. Love from,  Lily Howell

She sent a picture of her grandmother, my friend Brenda, holding her youngest grandchild (Lily’s little sister), just before she had surgery. And Lily was right – Brenda didn’t go home, she went HOME.  The next note from Lily was short and tender, sent on 06 August 2015: Hi Sister Edmunds, I just wanted to let you know that my sweet grandma, Brenda, passed away this morning. I thought that because the two of you were so close in high school, you might want to know. Thanks so much for being such a good friend to her. Love from, Lily Howell


Then I also heard from Brenda’s daughter, Lily’s Mother, Kendra, and sent some memories to her. I wasn’t able to go to the funeral but enjoyed and appreciate the many pictures Kendra posted.  I wrote a few more notes but they don’t need to be included here.

I was already impressed with Lily, but when I looked at her blog, I was “blown away” by what this 13 year-old is doing. I went there to read her tribute to her grandmother (which was wonderful). But I read a whole lot more.  Here’s what she has posted about herself, along with a cute picture: Hello, I’m Lily. I’m an L.D.S. youth on a mission to inspire young people to do great things! WOW! I was already impressed, as I said, but this “ramped it up.” She listed her INTERESTS: Family History, Reading, Baking, Planning, Classics, Daydreaming, History, WW2, German, English Grammar, Adoption, Families. Next she listed her favorite MOVIES: 17 Miracles, Ephraim’s Rescue, Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration, Emma Smith: My Story. And then her favorite MUSIC: Primary songs and Hymns. Then her favorite BOOKS: The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, The Holy Bible (King James Version), Way to Be!, Anne of Green Gables, Letters in the Jade Dragon Box, Beloved Emma, Red Butterfly, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Beyond Courage.

By now you’re probably wanting the address of her blog: Well… she has TWO! First is CLASSICALLY EDIFIED, and she lists her favorite books, beginning with this: “Because I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I may post things from a religious point of view. I will do my very best to keep all resources as clean and virtuous as can be so that you needn’t worry about the content of the books I share.”

She first listed the Standard Works.  A few days ago she listed Little Women, and she shared a little bit about it: My favorite book for this month is a classic: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This is the story of four sisters growing up during the civil war. With their father away from home, the girls learn many lessons, especially from their mother, who teaches them self-reliance and charity. I can especially relate to Jo, who struggles to control her temper and her tongue. From her I learn to get pick myself up from my mistakes, try a little harder, and move on. Her courage to try again over and over is something I hope to incorporate in my life. I hope you have fun reading this one! And don’t forget the sequel, The Good Wives, which shows the girls as they grow into maturity.

Her other blog is: WE HAVE BEEN BORN. This is where she put the tribute to her grandparents. And I found a post on 13 March, 2015, where she stated the PURPOSE of her blog: Hello! My name is Lily, and I want to help teach youth how to connect with their families through family history. As a youth myself, I first discovered modern-day family history a few years ago after logging into out of curiosity. Family Search is a website run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to help people worldwide connect to their ancestors, whether or not they are member of The Church. (To learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, go here.) I was fascinated. There was so much information about so many of my family members I hadn’t even known existed! I continued to visit the website and gradually learned about it’s purpose and how to use it. Since then, I have been able to learn more about my ancestors and take their names to the temple to receive saving ordinances for them which they did not have the opportunity to receive in their lifetime. Now, I am passionate about teaching other young people how to receive the spirit of Elijah. Although much of the terminology I will use will be familiar to members of The Church, I will do my best to add links with explanations of what I am talking about for those not as familiar. “We have been born,” is a phrase from the song “We’ll Bring The World His Truth.” It means that God has saved us to come to earth in this time and place to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ. We have come into a world with the tools we need to hasten the work of salvation. We have been born into the age of computers and other devices that simplify family history so much. Now it is our duty to do the work we have been given. God has prepared us, and He will guide us. Hopefully this blog will inspire to do more than just attach dates to names or merge duplicates. My goal is to follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost to teach you how to connect with and come to love your ancestors. This is the Spirit of Elijah.

Now you have a better idea of why I’m giving a SHOUT-OUT to LILY HOWELL today. Bless you, Lily! CARRY ON!!  Love, Melon

P.S. I’ve felt very close to my dear friend Brenda as I’ve prepared this post this morning. Yum….