Happy Birthday Sophia

by Grandma Baadsgaard
Happy Birthday Sophia. I love you so deeply and hope you have a wonderful day.

Daughter of God
Divine DNA
Filled with light
you have
music waiting to be sung
love waiting to be shared
You are precious beyond measure
Valued above all
God’s work and glory
There is no darkness
That can put out your light
For you are strong
A mighty warrior
You are soft
A gentle soul
Beloved daughter
Always safely held
In the palm of God’s love


Happy Birthday Brad!

Happy Birthday Brad!

Climbing Mountains
Grandma Baadsgaard
I love you Brad. Hope you have a great day!

at the base of a mountain
the peak seems so far away
too hard to climb
out of reach
yet . . .  if you begin
take the first step
if you keep moving
through the sweat and tears
never give up on yourself
never quit
when every muscle aches
wants to give up

you take another step
and another
then it happens
you reach the peak
take a deep breath
and reach your arms to heaven

for now you see

at the peak the valley opens to your view
from a new place of knowing
perspective changes
wind cools your brow

now you know
you can do hard things

before you descend
you glance off into the distance
and see another mountain
followed by others

you know on another day
you will be climbing another mountain

keep trying
never give up
then you become the change you seek


Happy Birthday Griffin!

Grandma Baadsgaard
I love you Griffin. You are a joy to your grandma.

There is a little boy named Griffin
who really, really likes to wiggle.
When it’s time to talk at church,
he blurts a word that makes people giggle.

When it is time to pick up his mess
Griffin says, “No!” and off he huffs.
“Don’t you know I’m just a little boy
Way too young to pick up my own stuff.”

“Don’t play with your food,” says Mom
When Griffin makes his plate a bomb.
“Don’t jump on your bed when it’s time to sleep.
Just be quiet and don’t make a peep.”

“Griffin, its’s time to learn to use the potty
“No!” says Griffin a little snotty.
“I’m just too busy for such a chore.
Going to the potty is such a bore.”

Because Griffin has a motor in his skin
His poor old mommy never wins
But she knows these days go by so fast,
And she knows too well they just won’t last.

                                                     So she takes Griffin in her arms
And turns off her mommy alarm
For boys grow up in the blink of an eye
And when they’re gone, their mother’s sigh. . .

“Where in the world did my little one go?
I miss those messy days and so . . .
I think today I’ll just enjoy my boy
His bright smiling face is such a joy.

Boys are only little once, you see.
Then a man they soon grow to be.
Someday I’ll remember these days with delight
Before I know it, he will be out of sight.

When I’m old and he holds me in his arms,
I’ll remember all his little boy charms
And love the man he’s grown to be,
And all the grandchildren he’s given me.”


Happy Birthday Daniel!

Grandma Baadsgaard
Happy Birthday to my awesome grandson who likes to run, hop and wiggle.
Your rosy cheeks and great big smile reminds me of the sun when it comes up in the morning.

Once there was a frog named Daniel who lived by a pond with his family. Daniel’s mother, father, brother and sisters liked to sit quietly on lily pads in the sun all day and think deep thoughts. Daniel didn’t like to hold still. He liked to hop and hop and hop all day long.
“Why don’t you hop over here next to me,” his mother said. “Then you can rest a while.”
“Why would I want to rest?” Daniel answered.
“Why don’t stop and think for a while,” his father said.
“Why do I need to think?” Daniel answered.
“Why don’t you snuggle next to me and I’ll read you a story,” his sister said.
“I’d rather be a story,” Daniel answered.
So Daniel hoped and hoped and hoped all day long. It made his mother dizzy to watch him. When Daniel got hungry he whipped out his long tongue and caught a fly.
“I’m the mighty fly catcher,” Daniel said as he puffed out his chest.
Then he hopped and hopped and hopped some more.
When Daniel was bored, he went exploring. He found a dragon fly resting on a cat-tail. Daniel sneaked up next to the dragon fly and whipped out his long sticky tongue once again.
“I’m a mighty dragon slayer,” Daniel said.
One day a boy came to the pond looking for a frog to catch. He brought a net with a long handle. He saw Daniel’s bright green skin sparkling in the sun.
“That is the frog I want,” the boy said.

So the boy sneaked up behind Daniel and swung the net with all his might. Down came the net but not before Daniel had hopped away. When Daniel stopped hopping, the boy tried again and again. No luck. Daniel was too quick for the boy. Soon the boy went home.
“I guess your hopping is not so bad after all,” said Daniel’s mother.
“You are the hopping king,” his father said.
“Will you teach me how to hop faster?” his brother asked. “That boy might come back and try to catch me.”
“Sure,” Daniel answered.
From that day forward, everyone in Daniel’s family took hopping lessons from Daniel. The boy did return again and again to the pond, but he never caught a frog in Daniel’s family. 


Happy Birthday Rylan

Rylan’s Key
Grandma Baadsgaard
Happy Seventh Birthday Rylan. I love you so much. Can’t wait to see you soon!

Rylan is a seven-year-old boy who lives in Pennsylvania. His grandparents live far away in Utah. One day Rylan received an intriguing letter from his grandmother that read. . .

Dear Rylan,
There is an extraordinary key at the cabin waiting for you to discover it. It is hiding in plain sight A mysterious person gave this key to me long ago when I was just your age.
This person said, “Janene you are full of stories. As long as you continue to write and tell your stories, you may keep the key. But when you stop telling stories, you must give this key to an uncommon child who will honor the gift of the key and continue the legacy.”
 I have chosen you Rylan. I am giving this key to you. With this key you will unlock a door that will take you to a world only you can discover. There are three tasks that will help you find the key:
1. Read lots of books.
2. Write in your journal
3. Tell your brother and sister a bedtime story every night.
The next time you come to Utah and go to the cabin you must search for the key until you find it. This key will unlock a hidden door only you can find. Then you must go through the door alone. This magical key is a secret only you can discover. Good luck completing your tasks. I hope you find the key.
Love, Grandma
Rylan folded the letter and put it in his pocket. Then he found his mother.
“When are we going to Utah?” Rylan asked.
“Next summer,” his mother answered. “That’s nine months.”
So Rylan began task number one…read lots of books.
Rylan soon found that the more he read, the more he wanted to read. Sometimes his parents had to take away his books and tell him to go to sleep when they found him under the cover with a book and a flashlight at night.
Then Rylan began task number two…write in your journal.
The more Rylan wrote in his journal the more he thought everything that happened during the day. He wrote about all the details like the crunchy autumn leaves, the geese honking in the blue sky and the smoky bonfires he noticed as he gazed out the window while he rode the bus to and from school. He wrote about pumping so hard and flying so high in the swings at recess that he almost flew over the maple trees.
Then Rylan began task number three…tell your brother and sister a bedtime story every night.
Rylan noticed that his brother Griffin liked silly poop stories and his sister Alice liked stories with animals that made funny sounds. Every night he got better and better at holding their attention. Pretty soon Griffin and Alice begged for more and more stories from Rylan.
One night Rylan called his grandmother on the phone.
“I’ve been working on the three tasks,” Rylan said. “Do you think I’ll be ready to find the key when I come to Utah in the summer?”
“What are you learning with your tasks?” Rylan’s grandmother asked.
I’m learning that the more I read, the more I want to read. The more I write in my journal, the more I pay attention to everything I see, hear and smell all day. The more I make up my own stories, the more Griffin and Alice sit still and listen. They never sit still and listen. It is like magic.
          “I think you’re ready to find the key,” Grandma answered. “Rylan, I can’t wait for you to come to Utah this summer.”


Autumn. . . Change Feels Like Dying

                                        As the seasons change it feels like the world is dying.

     When life requires us to change, we also feel like we are dying. Yet I believe that life happens for us not to us. Every day the circumstances we encounter require us to choose...love or fear.

     Autumn ushers in a time of dark and cold - nature's last flame of color before the winter. Yet no matter how dark, long or cold the winter. . . spring always follows for those who wait with patience and a willingness to change.
    Life can be painful. Yet we always have a choice. We can learn from the pain and become a better person or we can refuse to feel pain, blame someone else, get mad or attempt to go around it. The problem is we can't really go around pain. We can only hide from heartbreak or deny pain. Hiding from and denying pain is one definition of mental illness. 

     We can choose to feel pain and move through it. Pain hurts, but when we own it, we have the opportunity to become a new person with a deeper capacity to of see, feel and experience life. That is the definition of mental health.

     Don't be afraid . . . choose change . . . choose love.



LDS General Conference Denmark Missionary Get-together

John had a Denmark missionary reunion at our home on Saturday during General Conference.
We loved having these wonderful young people in our home.


Old Friends Are A Treasure

I had lunch with some old high school friends this week. We are all in our sixties and each of us have faced some difficult challenges in life.

I was so touched by the kind, wise, nonjudgmental, loving woman each friend had become. I felt privileged to be in their company. 

I wanted to stay and talk longer, but life has a way of keeping you moving ahead when you'd like to linger for a while.

Estella, Carol, Pat, Jeanie and Lisa. Thank you for being my friend and for all the life lessons and love we shared with each other. 

Our visit reminded me of the words to a song, "Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold." 

You are gold.


Happy Birthday Liam!

By Grandma Baadsgaard
Happy Birthday Liam. You are strong. You can fight the dragon. 
I love you.

Liam lived in a quaint village in Denmark surrounded by farmer’s fields and bordered by a deep, dark forest. In the beginning, all the villagers worked together to plant and harvest crops, forge pots and swords then spin and weave their sheep’s wool into cloth for their clothing.
Each year at harvest time, the villagers would place an offering for the dragon that lived in the forest so he wouldn’t carry off their children. At first the dragon was pacified but soon the offerings weren’t enough and the dragon began taking one of their children each year.
When the villagers saw the dragon flying toward the village, they frantically tried to grab their children and run away to safety.  But the dragon was always quicker than the slowest child. Each year one more child would turn up missing. Soon the villagers became angry with each other for running away too fast so that their child would be the one who went missing. Soon villagers refused to trade goods with each other. Before long they all became poor. Year after year the village grew darker until it was as threatening as the forest.
All the children lived in constant fear never knowing when the dragon would strike. Then one day when they were least expecting it, the fire breathing dragon would fly into the village, pluck a child out of the horrified crowd, then fly high into the sky and disappear into the forest. When it was discovered who was missing, the family of the missing child would weep and mourn for their hearts had been broken.
Liam watched as his village and his family grew darker and more afraid every day. One day Liam decided that if anything was going to change, he had to be the one to do it. He gathered all the villagers and stood on a platform so they could all hear him.
“Don’t blame each other,” Liam yelled. “Blame the dragon. We must join together and slay the dragon so that he will never take another child again.”
“The dragon is huge and we are small,” one villager replied as he shook his head.
“The dragon can fly and we cannot,” another villager said.
“The dragon spews fire,” a child said. We cannot fight the dragon.”
“Today I will forge a sword and I will be ready for the dragon,” Liam answered. “I will carve a whistle with a disturbing sound frequency only dragons can hear. Who will join me to fight the dragon?”
All of the villagers looked at Liam, shook their heads and walked away. Liam spent months forging his sword, practicing his dragon slaying techniques and carving his dragon whistle. The next time the dragon flew down into the village, Liam was ready. But something happened he did not expect. Liam watched in horror as the dragon flew into the village, picked up his brother and flew toward the forest before he could stop him. Liam took out his dragon whistle and blew with all his might. Dragon whistles drive dragons mad. The dragon stopped in mid-flight and turned back toward the village.
“Give me back my brother!” Liam shouted.
Startled at the unexpected piecing sound from the whistle and the annoying disturbance displayed by a young boy, the dragon dropped Liam’s brother Gideon and flew toward the boy who dared to confront him.  Liam grabbed the sword in a leather sheath at his side. He thought about how much he loved his brother, trust the sword over his head and swung the blade with all his might. The dragon laughed as the blade missed him and sliced through the air. Then the dragon spewed a huge billowing ball of fire toward Liam. Liam knew the dragon’s burst of fire was about to consume him and his brother if he didn’t move quickly. He darted away from the fire as the dragon walked toward Liam’s brother.
“You will not take one more child,” Liam yelled so the dragon would turn toward him. “You will never hurt a child again!”
Liam’s brother Gideon cowered against a tree; his leg broken and unable to flee. Liam knew he was the only person between his brother and death. The dragon threw his head back and laughed at Liam’s annoying disruption.
Liam acted quickly while the dragon was distracted. Darting between the dragon’s legs, Liam and swung the sword with all his might. He cut off the front legs and watched as the dragon fell forward with a loud crash. Then he swung the sword again and smote off the dragon’s back legs. Then Liam climbed up on the dragon and thrust his sword into the heart of the beast. The dragon roared in pain, spread his wings and flew painfully toward the dark forest.
Liam ran to his brother and picked him up in his arms.
“I will never leave you to fight the dragon alone,” Liam said. “I am your brother. I will always be at your side and protect you.”
Then Liam stood and shook his fist at the forest.
“Don’t ever come for another child again for I will stand and fight you and I will win,” Liam yelled.
Liam and Gideon heard the dragon’s last painful roar and together they watched as the dark forest burst into flames and the dragon was at last consumed – never to return again.


Ross and Alisa Hike Loafer

Ross and Alisa conquer another mountain.
Alisa and her father on top of Mount Loafer


For All Who Have Experienced the Death of a Child Before Birth

     This post is dedicated to all who have lived through the death of a child before birth. Experiencing the loss of a precious life at any stage of development is a grief that is difficult to put to words. Three of my children died before they were born. I still miss them.
     I wrote the following letters to honor my daughter April and her husband Dallan. Their daughter Catherine Grace recently died before she was born. The deep, profound love of a mother and father for their child is perhaps the most divine love we experience in this life.
     To my precious granddaughter Catherine Grace - oh how I look forward to resurrection morning when I will be able to see you and hold you in my arms.

Dear Child,
     It’s been only a day since I lost you. Yesterday I had such plans for you and now today you are gone and where you are I cannot go. You were the answer to your parents’ prayers. We’ve waited so long for you. You should have seen the look in your father’s eyes when I told him you were coming. We were so happy. We told everyone you were on your way.
     Each morning when I woke, I would stroke my palm across the place where you were growing. Even morning sickness reassured me of your presence. Whenever I went somewhere, I knew you were with me. It made me feel complete. I could never get over the miracle of you.
     Then something happened that I didn’t expect. I went to my regular doctor appointment and they couldn’t find your heartbeat. The doctor looked and listened and brought in technicians and ultrasound experts. They tried and tried again - nothing. I stared up at the ceiling in disbelief and wept. I couldn’t bring myself to believe that you were really dead. I thought this must be a mistake. This can’t be happening.
     The next day I went to the hospital and they gave me something to help you come. The delivery was slow and measured giving your father and me time to think about how much we loved you and would miss you. Then you were born. Even though your spirit was not inside your body, I knew you were there with me. 
     Sudden unexpected complications after your delivery required quick action by the doctor. The placenta that nourished you didn’t want to let go. The pain was unbearable. Part of me refused to let go. I looked over at you alone in the bassinet and sobbed for me and for you.
     Then the doctors and nurses left us alone and your father and I held you. You were snuggled up in a soft flannel blanket. We held each other as we held you - our perfect tiny butterfly not quite ready to emerge from the cocoon with tightly wrapped wings never to open in this life. You looked so small, so beautiful and perfect. We finally had our little girl

I will never forget you. You are my precious daughter. You have been part of me. I miss you. I don’t see life in the same way since I lost you. I walk softer now. Life is more fragile, more precious.

   I thank God for the time we had together. I love you. Though I am no longer able to hold you in my arms, I will always hold you in my heart.

Your Mother

Dear Child,
     We waited so long for you to come. When I found out you were on your way, I wanted to tell everyone the good news. The day your mother told me, I felt this lightness in my step - like I was younger and starting out again. I liked to call your mother to find out how she was feeling. She always said she was fine. 
     My life seemed to count for more. Your mother and I planned the rest of our life differently because you would be in it. I wanted to take good care of myself and stay healthy because you would need a dad who could get up at night with you as a newborn and later, teach you how to walk and ride a bike and maybe even play basketball on the back court.
     We began looking for a car-seat, crib and stroller because we gave away all our baby things. We started planning the nursery. After four boys in a row we were silently hoping for a girl. After your brother died and your mother’s miscarriage, we had pretty much given up hoping for you. But then it happened – our late in life miracle, our gift. 

     But then you died. 

     When your mother called me from the doctor’s office, I rushed home to be with her. I wanted to reach out and stop time - force the moment to come back when you were still alive. When we were at the hospital, your mother was in so much pain. I wanted to stop what was happening but I couldn’t. 
     I don’t understand why this had to happen. We waited so long for you. Now our house feels too big and too quiet without you. I have so many questions. I’m learning to be patient as I wait for answers.
     I didn’t carry you inside of me, but you are part of me. Whenever I took your mother in my arms, you were there too. Perhaps someday I will know all the answers. But for now, I choose to trust God and wait. You will always be our gift – our precious miracle.

     Now I ask,“Please God, help me say good-buy when I never had the chance to say hello.”

Your Father


Happy Birthday Sandy

Grandma Baadsgaard
Happy Birthday Sandy. 
I love you with all my heart.

 She walks so softy
With the grace of a queen
And sees so deeply
All that is unseen

She speaks so gently
With the wisdom of knowing
And finds her own way
For she is sewing

Now the girl
Grows into her own
Young woman of strength
And quiet repose

All who love her
Watch as she spreads her wings
And finds the strength
Her own melody to sing

Happy Birthday Kate

Grandma Baadsgarrd
I love you Kate! You are a piece of sunshine.

If Kate is happy
Does that mean she’s raspy
And cries tears of joy
Then shouts, “Boogie Boy!”

If Kate is mad
Does that mean she’s sad
Or just a little ticked
Because she was tricked?

If Kate is funny
Does that mean she’s sunny
And pops up like the sun
Cause she’s always on the run?

If Kate is jumpy
Does that mean she’s frumpy
With ten fine fingers and toes
And a fine ballerina pose?

If Kate is sleepy
Does that make her weepy?
She says, “I am not tired!”
I still a little wired.

If Kate is lovey
Do you give her head a rubby
And squeeze her oh so tight
Because she is a delight?


I Like You Just The Way You Are

The other day my daughter Alisa took out the camera and asked to take pictures of me.
I told her I wasn't camera ready - I needed to curl my hair and put on some make-up.
She said that she liked me just the way I am.
Alisa is 17 years old. I am 63. I thought she would be embarrassed to have such an old mother.
Instead she has taught me that when we truly love someone we accept them just the way they are.
We don't love others in spite of their weaknesses and mistakes; we love them because of them.
We fully accept them as they are - wrinkles and all - for we see the beauty of their soul.
We realize we are all striving to be better than we are
. We are all worthy of love and belonging.
Aging is a beautiful process of learning how to deal with loss . . .
loss of children, career, worldly beauty, health and time left to be alive.
I'm so glad I'm not dead yet because I have so much to learn and so many people to love.
I want to keep learning, changing and growing throughout my entire life.

Life has been profoundly humbling for me.
I realize I don't have all the answers.

In the end I can choose to stay in the darkness or search for the light.
We do not come to grace. Grace comes to us.




My son John served a mission for two years in Denmark
for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He shared his love of Jesus Christ and served anyone who needed a helping hand.
At the end of his service my husband Ross,daughter Alisa and I met him in Denmark and took a few days to to travel to the places where he served and where our ancestors are from. It was a magical trip because we traveled with John - someone who had grown to love the people and places in Denmark and spoke the language fluently. He drove us to all the interesting places and even knew the best places to eat. 
My daughter Alisa and my son John at the street sign that means Baadsgaard Way in English.
Inside one of the charming churches out in the countryside.
This church is typical of the white washed churches with red roofs.
Most of Denmark is close to the water. We loved the charming villages with sail boats all along our way.
We loved seeing the inside of the churches that dot the countryside.
Many church dated from the 1100 and 1200's.
All of the churches had beautiful alter pieces depicting Christ.
We loved the charming cobblestone streets with bright colored houses that are still being lived in today.
Many of the altar pieces were so stunning that they took your breath away.
At the northern tip of Denmark there is a place called Skagen
where the Katteget and Skagerrak seas meet and crash together.
This is an old German bunker from World War Two.
The Germans lined the beaches with mines to ward off an invasion from the Allied Forces.
This is John at a Viking grave yard.
This is Jytte Baadsgaard a facebook relative we were finally able to meet.
Denmark is surrounded with water and has multiple islands. I loved the fresh salt air and a handsome husband to hug.
Ancient writing from the Viking days.
This is perhaps my favorite Karl Bloch alter painting depicting Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We spent a day walking through an open air museum that had houses from all over Scandinavia
depicting all the different time periods.
This is a statue of Hans Christian Andersen.
As someone who writes lots of stories I loved going to the museum and home of Hans Christian Andersen.
 John brought home a collection of his fairy tales written in Danish. I have my own copy in English. 
This is a typical street in the old part of Odense.
This is the place where Hans Christian Andersen lived and created his stories.
Deep in the dungeon of the Hamlet Castle is this figure, Holger Danske, in stone.
According to legend he will come to life and fight for Denmark if enemy forces threaten to destroy.
One of the beautiful ceilings in the Frederiksborg Castle.
The Frederiksborg castle is home to a beautiful collection
of Karl Bloch's paintings depicting the life of Christ.
This is one view of the Frederiksborg Castle and what itlooks like on the outside.
It is surrounded with water and a large manicured garden.
While visiting the Hamlet castle, period dressed characters from the Shakespeare play burst into the courtyard or palace rooms acting out the play Hamlet for visitors.
Another Karl Block painting from the castle placed in the prayer room of the king.
This is the Hamlet castle (Kronborg) where we walked from room to room
watching the play of Hamlet acted out in the castle where is happened.
This is the Statue of Christ in the Church of our Lady. I am kneeling at the alter.
Ross and Janene Baadsgaard at Nyhavn - brightly colored dwellings line the street
near a canal with lots of boats and barges.
John and Alisa Baadsgaard grew up together and missed each other for two years. Best buddies back together again.
This is the changing of the guard at the palace in Copenhagen.
As an author I love knowing that a character from the imaginative mind of an author has become a symbol of a nation.
Here is the Little Mermaid statue - a character from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale titled The Little Mermaid.
I recently reread the tale and is does not end like the Disney version.
This is the palace in (Amelieborg Castle) Copenhagen. This is the winter residence of Denmark's royalty.
There are lots of people who ride bicycles in Denmark.
The most stunning sculpture in the Church of our Lady is certainly Jesus Christ. Yet the twelve apostles that line the chapel on each side were amazing and touching as well.
I loved going to the open air museum (Frilandsmuseet) near Copenhagen that had authentic farm houses, agriculture buildings, mills, shops, gardens, ancient breeds of domestic livestock, historic gardens, horse drawn carriages and Danes dressed in period clothing for us to see. This was 100 acres of delight for me.
All of the houses were filled with period furniture. 
Denmark has lots of interesting wind mills.
I enjoyed the interesting architecture and thatched roofs.
We were able to attend the Denmark Temple and do baptisms for our ancestors from Denmark.
The temple presidency and the matrons were so gracious.
It was so charming to walk through the homes of our ancestors and imagine what their lives were like.
We felt like we had stepped into the past and connected our ancestors in a way that truly touched our hearts.
Ross and John Baadsgaard. Father and son together again at last.