What will be your legacy?

I’ve been into Lincoln lately. What a man! Turns out I’m late to the bandwagon because there are more than 16,000 books written about our 16th president. In my study, I’ve noticed people often discuss Lincoln in terms of his results (ending the civil war, the Emancipation Proclamation, 13th amendment, etc.) or his character (integrity, ambition, and humor, to name a few). This sparked a question in me: What will be my legacy? What will I be known for?

IMG_0002Recently my boss wrote a summary of my accomplishments in the last few years. He talked about the programs I’ve managed, the projects I’ve led and the contributions I’ve made to our team. He talked about the improvements we’ve made and how I contributed to them. He was kind and generous with his words, but it made me wonder: Is this what I want to be known for? Will this be my legacy?

Around the same time, I read a biography for my sister-in-law that my brother had written about her role as the mother of their 5 kids. Like Lincoln, Becky is known for both her character and her results. I’ve included it almost in it’s entirety here because it impacted me so much:

Rebecca Ellen Thomas was born and raised in Olathe, KS.  She served a mission in Panama, Panama City and graduated with a 2 year degree from Ricks College and a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Brigham Young University, Provo in Biology Teaching in 2001.  She married Damon Larry Johnson in 1999.

Becky and Damon graduated from BYU together, started a new job, bought a new house, and had their first baby all within about 1 week.  Life hasn’t slowed down since. They now have 5 children:  Parker, Ellen, Bryant, Leah, and Katelyn. Becky has been a stay at home mother from the beginning.  

Although most of her time is spent raising children and caring for home, she is a woman of other varied talents and experiences.  She has experience and love for dancing, piano, orchestra, science, sewing, outdoors, and reading among other things. But she is best known to her kids for her animal impersonations skills including “monkeys” and “crickets”!  :) 

Becky and family at Lincoln’s tomb

She loves to learn!  She is a lifetime student and there are few things she doesn’t master when presented with an opportunity. She always learning something new and working on new projects at home. 

One of her most important qualities is that she is willing to pay the price when others aren’t. She feels great compassion for others and will sacrifice anything for someone in need. She is an avid listener, compassionate friend, and resourceful problem solver.  People flock to her to help solve their problems when others can’t help. She has a “no nonsense” personality that makes her practical, real, and determined. This, combined with her personal, warm and welcoming nature, creates the ideal atmosphere to help people grow. Because of this, she is incredible resource wherever she is called to serve.

Her bright eyes, warm smile, and welcoming laugh attract people to her, especially her family. They want to be with her constantly.  Her husband and kids adore her because of how good she is and good she makes them feel. She is like the “little stream” in the primary song, “giving” wherever she goes, making the “grass grow greener still”. 

What results do you want? What values will you live? What will be your legacy?


This video is a dream. I can’t decide if I’d rather be the one giving out validations or the one getting them. (It’s not for the faint at heart – 16 minutes! But well worth it.)

Also, check out the cutest kids (and family) in the world here and here.

Happy Day Pops!

Don’t you just love this picture of my Dad? I feel like it captures him perfectly in his happiness. So… on Mother’s day I was in Ghana and we went around the table talking about what qualities we had inherited from our Mothers. On Father’s day I was in New York City and repeated the process. Here is what I came up with:
1. My love of current (and past) events– My dad will stop what he is doing to follow a police chase or ambulance. He loves the news and collects front page headlines and has since he was little. He loves american history trivia and quizzing other people on what they know.
2. My dad loves weather– well, at least I think he does. He’s the one I call when I get really excited about a thunderstorm or downpour or a blizzard. He gets just as excited as I do!
3. My dad loves his family and those that are close to him know the deep feelings that are there. Nothing comes in between my Dad and our family. This is one of my favorite things about my dad.
4. My dad is constantly writing things down and planning and making lists. This is the story of my life. He never stops learning and always has a list of things to talk about, to do, to work on, to be, etc.
5. My dad loves people. He remembers people– whether he met you yesterday or 30 years ago. He loves asking people questions and learning from them and making connections with them. If I have any talent for this whatsoever – it comes from my pops.
I love you dad! Happy Father’s Day!

NY local, Liz Hansen and I celebrating Father’s day in front of the temple.

Happy 90th Birthday Nana!!

If anyone knows my Nana – they know that she’s not your ordinary grandma. She’s turning 90 this week and they had a huge celebration in California for her today. Since I wasn’t able to make it – I would like to list a few reasons why my Nana is the coolest person I know:
#1 She loves garage sales/ikea/swapmeets
#2 She beats Jare and I at cards every time we play. Rummy, Hand and Foot… you name the game, she’ll beat you.
#3 She makes the best poached eggs. Hands down. 
#4 She’s never collected on all the i-owe-you’s I promised when I was 7. I probably owe her a couple hundred dollars. 
#5 She has never once ‘turned me over her checkered apron’ — even though she threatens often.
#6 She has been taking emergency shelter and foster children for the past 24 years. Do you know of any 90 year-old woman who can take care of 3 kids under the age of 4? 
I hope I can be as cool of a grandma when I grow up. 
Happy Birthday Nana! I love you!

I often go walking…

i’m currently in ghana and as i walk I am filled with thoughts about my mother. this is why:

I see women every where carrying children on their back as well as containers on their heads. It is amazing to see them multitask in such a way. Caring for their family is their number one priority and it shows. My mom has always worked so hard to support her family in every aspect – she has never stopped once, just like these courageous Ghanaian women.

We met some Ghanaian saints who wear the traditional clothes to church (head wrap, dress, or matching skirt and top) but have fabric made out of the prophets. Yes the latter day prophets. Awesome. My mom is always wearing her religion – the only thing above her family is the Lord and she shows it.

Bernice is a woman who offered to tailor make us such dresses and skirts but wanted us to pay 10 or 15 cedis ($8-10) for just a skirt. I said to myself ‘why would i pay bernice when my mom can do it for free, in less than an hour?’ My mom can do anything.

Speaking of skirts, before we left my mom hemmed a skirt for me and put a pocket it in. Not just any pocket but a pocket that actually fit 5 cameras. True story! We tried it out. I don’t know many moms who can or will make such a pocket.

Finally, I’m reminded of my mom when we met with Do Kaku, wife of Stake President Kaku of the Cape Coast stake. She willingly invited 9 of us into her home, fed us a wonderful dinner, and entertained us all with questions and stories. Her children helped out around the house and were so well behaved. I loved being there in their humble home. You could tell they were faithful, had a great family, and a great marriage. I love that she reminded me of my mom.

I love this country and will update you all on my many exciting adventures. But today I’m thinking of you mom. Loves.

*** Pics include one of the many dear children we get to meet, me learning how to carry a child on my back, and a few of us with the Kaku’s.