Tag Archives: BYU Idaho

Graduation Day!


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As I joined my classmates for our final Thursday night gathering I found it hard to believe that this stretch of road has come to a close. For the last year my Thursday nights have been spent with this group of people as we have navigated our way through three semesters of schooling. I joined Pathway for the purpose of beginning my journey toward earning my Bachelor’s degree. I knew it was a smart decision and that by choosing this path I would be able to earn a degree in an affordable way that works for my family. I had no idea that this journey would end up being so much more than that.

This past year has been life changing for me as I have experienced exponential growth in a myriad of areas. Much of that growth I attribute to my Pathway experience. It wasn’t an easy journey, especially in the midst of an especially challenging year. Trying to consistently carve out the hours necessary each week to complete the readings and assignments required for the classes I was taking could be challenging, but I was always able to get the work done and I know that it was thanks to Heavenly Father’s hand in this experience. He is the one that called me to it and He is the one who walked me through it.

The prompting to sign up with the Pathway program through Brigham Young University-Idaho began early last summer. At the time we were on a path that seemed to be leading us to add another child to our home…and a 17-year-old boy at that. Anticipating and bracing myself for the challenges that would come with that life change, I was surprised when God started whispering that after 21 years of being a full time wife and momma, it was time to go back to school and get my degree in preparation for the future plans He has for my life. On paper it made no sense to begin this now, when life was so complicated and so full, but the more I questioned the timing the more the Spirit testified of its accuracy. I took a leap of faith and signed up for my first semester of school in two decades. My hope was that my years of homeschooling helped prepare me for this next big challenge and that teaching my children helped keep those concepts fresh that I would need for my own academic success.

In September of last year I showed up at my first Pathway Connect gathering with 15 other students from the Pittsburgh area. At that first gathering we were told that while strangers now, by the end of the year we would be more like family. I had no idea how true that would be. We gathered every Thursday evening for a year, learning together, sharing our lives, teaching one another, learning from each other’s example, laughing and sometimes crying our way through the challenges of the Pathway experience. And as a result of those Thursday nights I gained a second family  whom I’ve came to love dearly.

For this reason I found myself struggling  with a wide mix of emotions on Thursday night. It was our final Pathway Gathering and graduation night, and as much as I’m looking forward to a break from daily schoolwork, studying and assignments, I will miss seeing my Pathway family every Thursday night and the special spirit that accompanied this experience.

This Thursday’s gathering deviated from “typical,” as it was our graduation night. Because of this, we were encouraged to invite our families to come out and celebrate as we crossed the finish line of Pathway. I was blessed to have Toby, Tyler, Molly, Grace, and my soon-to-be son in law, Zach join me. (Rusty and Braden had to work)

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The turn out by all those who came out to celebrate this special occasion was touching.

The agenda for the night began with a shortened version of our usual classes. I was the lead teacher this week for our religion class and kicked off the night with a discussion about our final project for class.

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Then we had a 15 minute discussion to fulfill our Pathway Gathering requirement for English class, before moving on to our graduation ceremony.

We were each presented with our Pathway Connect certificate,

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And had the opportunity at the end to share some thoughts about our experience with Pathway.

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It was with tears in our eyes and conviction in our words that my classmates and I shared our testimonies of the divinely inspired and divinely developed Pathway program through Brigham Young University-Idaho.

The night ended with treats and a celebratory party with our friends and family.

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It was an amazing ride with amazing people. I am forever grateful God called me to walk this road at this time. It was life-changing and testimony building. I said “yes” to this path expecting to grow, expecting to learn, expecting to work towards my degree…

But never expected that the greatest change in my life would be the conversion that would occur within.

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This fall my educational journey will continue as I begin taking degree-specific classes online through BYU-Idaho (the same school Molly will be attending in person this fall). Onto the next phase of this exciting adventure!

Molly is college bound!


In June Molly will join Grace as our second high school graduate from 21st Century Cyber Charter School, and with that exciting conclusion comes an even more exciting beginning.

The last two years have been spent exploring different post-high school possibilities. Molly has toured colleges both near and far, submitted applications, received acceptance letters, and prayed over those different options,

But we all knew where her heart was from the start.

Two years ago, when we loaded up our family for a two month long road trip around the country, we scheduled in a few college visits. We stopped to tour both Brigham Young University in Provo and Brigham Young University in Idaho. She wasn’t a fan of the Provo campus, but fell in love with the Rexburg, Idaho campus.

Since that time we have toured many other colleges closer to home. Some she liked more than others, but I saw she was comparing them all to BYU-Idaho and the special spirit and feelings of familiarity she enjoyed on that college tour.

We watched as she sought to find a college closer to home that felt as right as that one did, and while some came close, all played second fiddle to her experience in Rexburg.

The last month has been spent in reflection and prayer, as Molly has sought confirmation as to where God is calling her to go and grow.

This past week she received the confirmation she was seeking and has made a decision.

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Miss Molly is BYU-Idaho bound and will start her next adventure on September 16th!

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In the meantime we are going to soak up all that Molly-radiated sunshine while we have her home, and enjoy her excitement as she begins planning for her future.

Congratulations, Molly! We are so proud of you!



Soaking in Hot Springs


After a busy Labor Day weekend spent at Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks, the promise of a laid back, catch-up day sounded wonderful.

On Monday morning we left our campsite in West Yellowstone and made the two hour drive to Rexburg, Idaho. What brings us to Rexburg, Idaho, you might ask? A college tour!

Grace spent much of the summer touring colleges near home since she is now entering her senior year and will soon have to begin applying to the colleges that she is interested in. Since we were headed west we added a few college tours to our itinerary, knowing we wouldn’t be passing this way again for a long time.

Rexburg, Idaho just happens to be home to BYU Idaho, one of the colleges Grace is considering. We had a college tour scheduled for 9:00 am Tuesday morning for her and Molly and Rusty to tour this prospective college.

Monday, however, was wide open.

We arrived at our campground, Wakeside Lake RV Park, by noon on Monday and were pleased to discover we had been blessed with more great RV neighbors. These neighbors happened to be traveling a similar site-seeing loop, only moving in the opposite direction we are. We were able to share some pointers of our experiences east of there and they were able to share some must see stops that we would encounter as we headed west.

Once the RV was parked and hooked up we began making lunch. Everyone was still chilled from our frosty wake-up of 34 degrees, so everyone requested Raman Noodles for lunch. While not my top meal choice, I must admit it hit the spot and warmed us all up.


We decided to take advantage of our “down day” and get caught up on chores around the bus.

Toby tinkered with the bus, refilling fluids, while the kids and I did a deep clean of the inside. Everyone has daily cleaning chores that maintain the general cleanliness of the bus and keep things in good order, but we decided to take a little time to do a deeper cleaning of inside cabinets and under chairs.


I am loving living a simpler life in a smaller space. We deep cleaned our entire “home” in under 30 minutes!

We also took advantage of the campground laundry facilities and got caught up on all our laundry. We were down to our last outfits so the timing couldn’t have been better.

Each person has a bin that hold 6 outfits in addition to the outfit they are wearing. This means we can get away with doing laundry weekly.


Everyone pitched in and helped.


While we waited for clothes to dry everyone was sent to the showers for a good scrubbing.

By the time dinner rolled around we had full bins of clean clothes, a scrubbed bus, and shinny, spiffy kids.

The reward for all our effort was an evening at the Hot Springs.


We decided to take the kids to Green Canyon Hot Springs, a local hot springs, to experience the unique pleasure of soaking in natural hot springs.

When we arrived I was delighted with this quirky, kitschy place. In business since 1906, and built upon in the 1940s, it had an old fashioned, worn down charm.


Green Canyon Hot Springs is comprised of two different pools, fed by a 115 degree spring.

There is a large indoor spring fed pool that is a steady 96 degrees


and an outdoor spring fed hot tub that is 105 degrees.


We found ourselves alternating between the hot tub and the pool.


Both felt wonderful!

Outside there was also a cold dipping pool that boasted a bone-chilling temperature of  55 degrees.


The kids like dipping in the cold pool and then racing back into the hot tub.

We stayed until our skin was shriveled and the little boys were sufficiently worn out.

Then it was a race to the bus, through the chilly parking lot in wet swim suits, to see who got to change into their warm PJs in the bathroom first.


We turned on the bus heater and hung the wet towels from magnetic hooks on the ceiling to dry during our 30 minute ride back to the campground.


The next morning the three big kids and I were dropped off at BYU Idaho campus for our 9:00 am tour. We were so impressed with the school. Our tour guide was wonderful and it was, by far, the best college tour experience we have had so far. All three kids loved the school and the tour,


and they even walked away with fun goodies like drawstring bags, water bottles and t-shirts.


BYU Idaho is a beautiful school!


Then we were on the road again, heading south into Utah.


Next stop: Salt Lake City, Utah