A steady shepherd

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Priesthood Session of the April 1995 Conference.
These two thoughts about "shepherds" (and ministering) seem related:

This is the work or the stewardship of the home teacher: to feed, to nourish and quench the thirst of the sheep who are assigned to him as a shepherd.
There are some elements of bureaucracy which cannot help but occasionally produce some irritation and perhaps frustration. We ask you to look beyond any irritations or inconvenience in Church administration. We ask you to focus and concentrate on the simple, sublime, spiritually nourishing, and saving principles of the gospel. We ask you to stand steady. We ask you to be faithful in your stewardships as [shepherds] of the Church.

I've been thinking, as I try to figure out how to be a good ministering sister and…ministering mother and ministering wife and ministering friend too, I guess…how Heavenly Father works so efficiently through things we might have to do anyway. Often "ministering" (at home or out of the home) feels like another thing to do. And it is! But it's also so often just the thing I need—whether it's playing a game with one of my kids when I'm too busy to play a game, and then finding myself unexpectedly refreshed by it—or delivering treat after treat to a neighbor whose face I've never even seen because she doesn't answer my texts or the door, and after a year I realize I've started almost loving her anyway—or serving in my Primary calling and thinking every week "how did I grow to like these funny kids so much?"

Those "bureaucratic" (or, I thought by extension, mundane and duty-related) parts of my life, at church or at home, are the vehicles for the things I really need to learn to do. The things I want to learn to do! And when I can look beyond the "irritation and inconvenience" of it all and just "stand steady," I start to learn a little about what it really means to be a shepherd for God's sheep.

Red Barn 2021

Perhaps you will recall when we used to go to a certain pumpkin patch every year, at the Red Barn in Santaquin. Then one year there were too many of us and it was too expensive and too chaotic, so we just ate the apple cider donuts and called it good. And that was in 2018 and we haven't been back! (Except for the donuts. Every year the donuts.) And the littlest kids didn't even remember it! And we realized some of the expense and scheduling problems could be solved by not only have fewer kids (no longer an option) but by leave some people home. So that's what we did!
The big boys (minus Malachi who was at a birthday party) joined us for a picnic with apples, and apple cider, and apple cider donuts (most important parts) as well as cheese curds and crackers and carrots. Everything was as good as we remembered.
Then the boys went off to work and home, and I said, "Wait! Let me take a picture of you first!"…and they DID! Smiling!!! That alone should tell you how long it's been since we first started coming here. (Goodness, look at little Abe! And even Sam looks practically like a baby! More retrospective here.)
The rest of us stayed. Gus (looking newly bald from his recent haircut) had some more donuts.
And apples. Yum!
And we had a fun time.
Lost Adventure-seeking boy!

Halloween (featuring Caw)

We had some fun Halloween creatures this year. We didn't know what Ziggy was going to be until the 11th hour (he has been rotating through about 6 different costumes for the past several months, not to mention all his hats) but being able to match Clementine sealed the deal for the Bunny suit! They were pretty cute together, like many of their predecessors.
Teddy was adorable in Malachi's old astronaut costume. I remember so well how much Malachi loved it! After we gave him the helmet for Christmas, he saved up the money to buy the suit all by himself, and then he was working on saving up for the boots. But before he had enough to buy them, he was…too old to want them. How sad! But now it makes me happy to see Teddy appreciating this costume anew.
This terrifying gorilla dropped by.
Eeek! He's got the baby! Poor Clementine!
Luckily, it turned out to just be sweet Junie inside that suit…
…to Clementine's great relief!
Marigold was so happy to fit the elephant suit this year!
She was alarmingly eager to go around tapping things with that trunk.
Daisy was too old for trick-or-treating this year, but she needed a costume to run in for her cross-country team's Halloween Run, and she came up with this ADORABLE penguin cobbled together from parts of her old penguin costume (too small for her now, sadly). The feet were pinned to her socks so they could just flap over the top of her shoes. Some people on her team thought she was a duck, if you can believe it! Tsk tsk. She is clearly a penguin.
I have saved the best for last. Because Gussie was…a "caw." His "caw." I have mentioned his love of macaws, haven't I? Well, it's not so much macaws in general as his macaw, which he calls "Caw." It is both named "Caw" and says "caw," apparently. This was a puppet we'd had for years (it was nominally Sam's; he likes macaws) but somehow Gus adopted it and believed implicitly that it was his very own, so of course it became his very own! And he loves it and takes it everywhere. 

Anyway, my mom saw this costume at D.I. or somewhere and immediately thought of Gus, and it was so perfect! He looked so cute, none of us could stand it. And he liked himself in it too—he kept looking in the mirror admiringly and saying "Caw!"
Halloween was a beautiful warm day (Oct 30th, actually, is when everyone around here celebrated) so the macaw was able to swing for awhile in the afternoon. Which he enjoyed greatly.
As did the astronaut.
As did the bunny.
And don't worry too much about poor discarded Caw on the ground there.
He was remembered and kissed soon enough!
So, it was a happy Halloween for all the animals around these parts!

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