At the end of the week where we had this and this and this we headed up to the mountains for Youth Conference.

With all four hundred-some youth ages 14 and up from our little pocket of the desert in a trail of yellow school buses.
(the girls in our group)(the boys)

I personally did not get to be part of the bus party for our own congregation because Max and I had to come home early for a volleyball tournament, which meant I had to drive my own car up there.

But it was fun to watch that parade of ten yellow school buses from my car as they meandered through stuff like this:
Seriously, when I started seeing the hint of color-change in the leaves my heart started swelling up and it was like I could breathe all anew.

I find it interesting that a simple change in color pigment on trees could do so much to my soul. I love Fall with a passion.

Youth Conference was awesome because us leaders from our own congregation who were tuckered out from all the hoopla of activities we’d had the week before were not in charge. Other leaders like these wonderful ladies were:
(Stake leaders)…and man alive did they ever do a good job. We just got to soak in the beauty of the messages woven beautifully into each activity.

The theme was “The Power of One,” which was really appropriate since the date was 11-11-11.

I loved how they wrapped in the message that although alone we are just one person, we are powerful. We have the power to make important choices for good. We have the power to help those around us and make a difference in the world. And we can bond together with others and be “one” as a strong force for what is right and good.

Most importantly, I loved how they weaved in the most important message of all: the Power of being ONE with God. Finding out what He wants for us and tailoring our lives to follow His plan for us.

At 11:11 a.m. on 11-11-11 we all let off balloons and made wishes.

Some of the team-building “power of one” activities:

Each group had to get every member up on this platform thing:
Other things I loved:

Watching Max from afar with the “ladies:”

Watching the girls delight on the zipline:

The nature:

…oh wait, did I already mention that? 🙂
These ladies:
We honestly about froze to death (your blood gets thin when you live in the desert and there was just nowhere to actually get warm) but these ladies, as you can probably tell from these pictures, made it SO fun.

I get to work with the most amazing people.

(long story with the pose….that’s our adorable youth leader on the right)(and some more awesome girls)

I tried to help the girls get situated for a FREEZING cold night with no heat:
Although I was so sad to be leaving before the big service project the next day and the fun time with the girls, I can’t say I was too heartbroken not to freeze my tail off up there in the night.

At night some of us snuggled in the one enclosed space to try to stay warm:

And others danced their little hearts out at the big dance:

Unfortunately Max and I (along with a carload of others who had to get home) had to leave before the big second 11:11 celebration at 11:11 PM.

But man alive, after all the craziness going on lately I was ready to get back to snuggle with my family and watch my girl play soccer:

Followed by watching my boy play in a volleyball tournament:
(more on that later…he did awesome and I was SO happy to finally get to catch a tournament since I’ve been out of town for all the others so far)

What a week.

I’m so grateful for the power of ONE, and came home with a renewed desire to better seek the One up above…the only one who knows fully the potential of my own one-ness. …If I’ll only remember to ask for His guidance.

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  1. Shawn every time I read a post of yours about young womens I CRY. I seriously can't hold it in and not sure why. must be because I'm realizing in my heart what an influence for good my sister is in all those little lives. I LOVE the balloon idea. I AM GETTING SO EXCITED TO SEE YOU IN A FEW DAYS!!! I think of all your blog readers seeing my comment and thinking – woah she is lucky to be shawni's sister. true dat. love you.

  2. can i be you? i don't know what it is about your blog that just draws me in! your positivity is so contagious. i love how close your family is and how much you do together. i love the watching max from afar part. my little boy is almost 2, but i know that i'll blink and he'll be doing the same thing. let's hope i can keep my eyes open! anyway, i just love this blog. youth conference looks awesome! glad it was a good experience. thanks for sharing it, and everything else, on your blog!

  3. I live in the mountains and wondered what in the world all those school buses were for when we saw them! I think there were more kids on those buses than the entire town of Payson! It has been cold up here, glad you didn't freeze. Love your blog.

  4. Just wanted to say that I love your blog and your family. Thanks for helping me be a better mom. My oldest is 12 (have 2 more boys) so I have to practice the "watching with the ladies" without a heart attack! Love form Peru

  5. Youth conference in November??? We have always had ours in the Summer and I think most people do. Is it just too hot in the Summer there?

  6. I think it's safe to say that Shawni didn't plan the balloon releasing activity part of the event. And… it's probably pretty safe to say that she'll take that feedback to the board for next year's planning!

  7. Is that up at Lomia?! I'm from AZ – grew up in Mesa and Payson actually, so Lomia is a place I've been many, many times! Looks like a great time at your youth conference – and it's good to get those desert city kids up into the mountains once in awhile!;)

  8. Wow, I can't help but wonder how shocked your kids are going to be when they leave the nest and find that there are other races and religions and diversity beyond the white anglo mormon community. They do get to do lots of fun, enlightening things, but only with other people who are basically clones of them. Why not mix it up a bit and have a big power-event in the "hood" – the folks there surely need to be empowered…

  9. Cold? What–was it 50 degrees? Just kidding. I would shrivel up and die in AZ heat I am sure! Is that why Youth Conf is in November?

    Great pictures. That looks like a very fun event.

    I hope your kids realize how blessed they are. You have a wonderful family and you are a great example to your blog readers and to those around you. Thanks for all you do. 🙂

  10. To TazLady- I looked at the pictures from Youth Conference and there is a black girl in attendance. There is also a black woman (can't remember her name, sorry!) who is a presenter at the Time Out For Women (TOFW) events that occur in many states.

  11. Myah is right, I did not plan the balloon activity. But thank you for peoples' concern for the environment.

    TazLady, I sure agree with you…I wish we had more diversity here! I love where we live…there are so many "pros" and we are surrounded by good, good people. But I crave more diversity so much. I'll have to address this question in my Q & A soon because it's been brought up a couple times and it's a good question. As much as I would love to pick up and live in a more diverse place, this is where my husband's job is sometimes you just need to figure out how to bloom where you are planted and appreciate all the good things about where you live. And the good things far outweigh the bad.

  12. Shawni – Don't get me wrong – I truly think you are raising your kids to be well-rounded individuals who are able to connect with all sorts of people. You're right, sometimes you can't help living in an area that is not so diverse. I love your comment that you have to bloom where you are planted. Your family is definitely blooming nicely and I love your blog – especially your sentimentality about your kids getting older and not "needing" you as much. I'm there, too.

    Actually, I do have another question – I wonder if you and your family, being LDS, are in favor of the type of "family" portrayed in "Sister Wives" – that is, where one husband is "married" to 4 or 5 wives and has multiple children by each of them. Are they just a rogue "sect" of LDS that is not accepted by the "mainstream" LDS adherents? How would you feel if one of your children decided to enter into that type of lifestyle? Would you accept their choice? Just wondering – not being critical. I just can't get past the moral (or actually) immoral aspects of having multiple "partners" – even if all parties are consenting adults. I still see it as something that God would not be pleased with. Your thoughts please.

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