…in a suburb of a big city in the desert, there was an announcement made:

A beautiful temple was to be built right smack dab in the most convenient location for so many hundreds of families.

The families were pleased as punch about that. They loved temples.

One of the local church leaders made a challenge to the families in his area. He requested that each family go and take a family picture on the plot of land where the temple was to be built. He told them that as they visited that spot to take pictures, and again and again as that temple rose from the strong foundation it would have, that they would grow to love that temple even more. As they watched it grow, so would they grow in faith and love for what that temple would represent.

Well, there were many families who took that challenge to heart.

One particular family, (one with a picture-taking-adverse father, a picture-taking maniac mother, one big boy, three medium-sized girls and one spit-fire three-year-old) tried over and over again to get to that spot when the light was just right and when they weren’t running five different directions. They planned three different times to get there but each time their plans were foiled.

Until one day that picture-taking maniac of a mother decided enough was enough, and piled her kids in the car at the last minute even though their dad was out of town (which, she realized, would make him jump for joy because really, another family picture just may have done him in anyway).

They started traipsing through the gorgeous field where the temple would some day stand, bulldozers poised for their job at hand in the distance. The family was delighted…until they looked back and realized they were in for trouble with a capitol “T.” That spit-fire three-year-old of theirs wasn’t happy.
No, not one little bit.

And this family knew full-well from experience that she meant business when she decided she wasn’t happy.

They offered up their best efforts to cajole that girl to snap out of it with no luck so they opted for individual shots.

Finally after some valiant efforts (and some patience), the bad mood spell was broken…mostly by the six-year-old girl who knew the ins and outs of her little sister’s “language” quite well.That three-year-old stinker suddenly did anything her family told her to do, even pose for her brother’s cell phone picture he wanted to take.

Which made him look like this:
Pictures were at last taken of all the children together…some with the sixth child, Dora, included.
And the mother fell in love with them so much that she couldn’t even decide which one to put on her blog.
Not because the children were perfectly posed and primped…in fact they were quite worn out after all the work with their little sister, and it was hot, and sticky and sweaty in that field.

But that mother fell in love with the pictures because they radiated the love those children had for each other (and for her because they let her take them).
And because seeing her children in that field where that temple would some day stand did something to her heart. Her children couldn’t know the depth of what that temple would symbolize to her: that she got to be with these children of hers forever. And that they got to be with each other forever too.

But she knew it.

And she was glad because despite their fights and drama and eye-rolling at each other at times, she knew that really, being together forever is exactly what these children would want.
This mother hoped that her children would feel that tugging of love grow in their hearts too as they watched that beautiful building grow.

And that what her church leader had said would come true: that as they watched that temple grow, their spirits would grow with it.The End.

(But not really the end because Part two of this story is HERE.
Part three is HERE.
and Part four is HERE.)

Similar Posts


  1. Oh my gosh, that pic of Lu with the slanted-in eyebrows is hilarious! I'm reading blogs in the courtroom waiting for the judge to get here and almost laughed out loud when I saw it. But she definitely knows how to pose when she wants to! She got to modeling in those last shots…

  2. I love this! What a great idea! And I'm still laughing about your sixth child. When my kids were really little, I took them someplace for portraits. All went well until the photographer lowered a new backdrop and the three year old FREAKED! It was all I could do to have him sit on the riser. He had the angriest expression for every. single. shot. Finally, I told the his big sister to not smile (the baby was asleep anyway) and it turned out to be the cutest serious face picture ever. Whenever I see the picture, though, all I can remember is wrestling with my son to keep him in the picture. What a day!

  3. Oh man Shawni, we have made about 5 attempts to do this. Every Sunday I bring it up, all the boys shoot it down, including Scott. I am putting my foot down and this is going to happen soon!
    Gorgeous photos. They will mean so much some day!

  4. Thanks Shawni for making me cry this morning!! Yesterday our family celebrated 7 years of being sealed in the Temple for eternity. The temple is such a special place and I hope one day we will be able to live closer to one.
    I love the pictures and love this idea. Maybe one day we will be able to have a temple built close to us and we can do the same thing!!

  5. Love that the older sister knows just what to say to the littlest to lift her spirits. That's what makes family so beautiful. And temples are where we go to be with them forever.
    Well done!

  6. My good friend lives in Draper UT about 3 blocks from where the Draper Temple now stands. She was also the YW leader of her ward. They went up to the temple stite every month for the entire time the temple was being built and took picutres of those YW aged girls. Then they put all the pictures of those girls in a little picture book for them. Now they have a memory of a very important event of their childhood and for their community. I think this is a great idea.

  7. We used to live in Chandler so the announcement of a new temple made us excited too. What a great idea to go and take pictures at the site the temple will be built. Thanks for sharing. I love that Dora made the picture. I have 5 children too and yesterday we took individual and family pictures. I can totally relate to uncooperative children in photo shoots.

  8. we did the exact same thing on sunday evening. it's quite an amateur picture, but i'm still glad we got it. next time i may have to see if i can trick you into taking it for us!!

  9. I have followed your blog for a while now and have never commented. But this post was just too beautiful. Not just the pictures of your lovely children but the lovely sentiment and feeling of your words and thoughts. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  10. So sweet-your children made my heart feel all mushy! My two were fighting last night and made me feel like a failure. This reminded me though, that there are mostly good times!

    Where in the world are you? I thought AZ but there is grass or something green on the ground! When I lived in AZ (Sierra Vista) it looked much more desert-like!

  11. BEAUTIFUL! You made me cry – with love! You made me laugh – from my belly. What a wonderful family you all are. All of your smiles light up your faces and come from your hearts. What beautiful pictures and memories! Thanks for sharing

  12. I laughed so hard when I saw that first picture of Lucy, which, after spending the summer with her, looks so familiar that I just couldn't go on for a while. Tears actually came I was laughing so hard. BUT I knew no matter how long it took with that support group in tow, she was going to come around…and she did…mega!

    Love the whole idea!

  13. Oh my goodness…why am I crying? Seriously. Maybe it's because my kids are frustrating the heck out of me these days, and that I've sat in the temple and prayed and prayed to know what to do. And I've felt inspired and I've tried new things…and nothing has changed. Maybe it's because I've been feeling defeated and just want to throw my hands in the air and run away. And I'm not talking just to the mall…like REALLY run away (at least for a day or two). So thanks…. 🙂 It's pretty much just what I needed today.

  14. I loved this! I never knew that quote before. But I KNOW it's true. And coincidently, we have been doing the exact same thing with our children here where the new Calgary Temple will be built. Can't wait. There is bull dozers all over the place. And the pictures are now being taken in front of "Danger" or "Operators only" signs……but that's okay. Someday it will be al finished and we will look back at these pictures and well……what great family memories they make. Good for you! Stick with it!

  15. I'm feelin' the love! and the JOY! Those are happy faces full of light and hope… men are that they might have joy. 🙂

    We loved watching the Bountiful Temple be built… we were newly married, but we often drove by to see the progress. Great memories.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing.

  16. Where is this sight? I am going to be in Phoenix due to a death in the family (I am the only LDS) and would love to see this in person. The church just broke ground in Brigham City for a new temple so I might run the family there though right now the whole thing is privacy fenced. Your blog is a real pick me up for me, thank you for sharing.

  17. Shawni,
    What a sweet post. You spoke straight to my heart and brought me to tears! Thank goodness families are forever! And thank you for sharing such beautiful thoughts.

  18. Again, I don't know you, but I feel like we had to have been friends in heaven. There are many times I read your blog when I'm either blown away by similarities, or in tears because I've felt the exact same way. Maybe about a year ago, there was a temple open house. I wasn't concerned about taking my baby through, it was my "spit-fire" two year old that was making me drag my feet in the decision to take the family through. I finally came to the conclusion that I was living the life intended with my four young children, so why would I not go. Needless to say, it was a little crazy going through. The two year old ran under the poles into the celestial room, and had a meltdown in the sealing room right when some good couple was trying to bear testimony of eternal families. Just thinking of it now makes me laugh (as opposed to dying from mortification). I walked out of there with a definite doubt as to whether or not I'd made the right decision. But a few weeks later, driving in the car, what does my rambunctious two year old say: "Mommy, member when we went to the temple?" There is a power there. Even for a crazy two year old whom others might have thought shouldn't even be there.
    Again, sorry for being a blog stalker 🙂

  19. Beautiful post! beautiful concept. I wonder if the Philly temple has a definite lot yet? I want to take my kids and do this… won't be quite the pretty field, more urban, but the idea is there…

  20. Love this idea! We are thrilled we are getting a temple too in Kansas City!
    I can't wait to take my kids there for some pictures.
    Thanks for such a sweet idea. My kids will love this.

  21. I stumbled across your blog and I LOVE this idea. What a great way to teach your kids the importance of temples and how awesome that they get to be so close and see one built from ground up. I wish I knew someone with an amazing camera and talent like you. I want to do this! I'm excited to watch this temple be built so close!

  22. My goodness, I'm wiping my eyes of tears! Those pictures were beautiful. I was so touched by your 6 year old daughter who cheered up Lucy. That was very touching! I loved all the photos but the last photo was my favorite! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *