The Branch


I just got home from Girls’ Camp. A week in the Alps should be rejuvenating and refreshing, but these girls took everything we had to give and then some. I’ve got stuff to say about it but it’s going to have to hold for the moment.

This has been an incredible couple of months. I haven’t written much about our little church branch because life is continually distracting me, but it’s time something was said. Serving in the Baumholder Branch has been the greatest blessing we’ve ever had as a family. I was released a few months ago as first counselor in Stake Young Women’s (translation: Stake means region so I was on the team that oversaw seven or eight church youth young women groups) and called as the Baumholder Young Women’s president.

I have one young woman. One.

She’s fourteen and amazing and wonderful and I absolutely love her, still this is the hardest calling I’ve ever had. My poor girl has so much pressure. On Sundays as we sit across from each other for an hour and do our lessons there’s nowhere to hide for either of us. She has to answer every question and run every meeting. To add to the awkwardness she’s the only girl in the branch but we have eight or nine young men. Some girls would love this but I think it’s been a little overwhelming for her.

Up to the last few weeks it’s been a wild year. They released me from the stake but I still needed to fulfill all my Girls Camp duties so they recalled me as an assistant stake camp director. I’m the branch music person which means on Sundays I played the organ, the primary music, ran weekly choir practice (you have never seen so much musical talent in such a small group of people), substitute primary teacher, plus teaching young women’s and doing Wednesday night activities.

I’m not very good at any of the above callings.

It was too much. I started feeling like every hour of my day was centered around one of my many church hats and I wasn’t wearing any of them very well.

In July we did a project for Girls Camp where each of the members in the yw stake presidency asked a girl to do a three day Holy Woman marathon. We chose a girl then asked her to pick one area of her life and work on it for three days, asking herself, “What would a holy woman do?”

It was about this time that all the pressure started to cave in on me. I would laugh with a girlfriend about how much I was trying to do then hang up the phone and cry because I didn’t know how I was going to do any of this without mudding it up with my incompetence. Maybe it was because of our holy woman activity or just a little note of personal revelation, but during my week I realized that all these church callings and obligations, all the jobs and the lists and the crafts and the prep work, the music on Sundays and the extra meetings and practices, they were hard. But I have never been so close to Heavenly Father. I started to see that every time I said yes to something He threw a line out to my ship and anchored me a little tighter to shore.

I’m not going to go into detail right now, but I will say we have never seen such amazing blessings in our life as we have these last few weeks. Things we have prayed about for years, the stuff that seems insurmountable or unattainable is suddenly on our horizon. Blessings have come from out of the blue and I know it’s because of our time in this branch. It’s not working out like we expected, in fact we couldn’t be more surprised at how the next few years will probably pan out, but the results are more exciting and hopeful than either of us could have foreseen.

Also, we are moving to Las Vegas next summer.



  1. Whhhhhaaaaaaa? Vegas? Why in the hotter than hell would you want to move there? But at least it’s closer to meeeeeee!!

  2. One on one. Absolutely scary! Two years ago I taught Madison in seminary. Everyday. Alone. If it’s a huge responsibility for the teacher, think of the student. Every answer, every thought. You are so, so right.

    And ditto the above comment – Whhhhhaaaaaa?

  3. I’m in Vegas so that is very exciting to hear!
    And wow. That is a lot if responsibility. That’s crazy town.

  4. Woo Hoo! I want to go to Vegas more than I want to go to Germany. I wish I could talk Bryce into moving there…. You can bet I will be in a plane to see you there. Kids in tow. So pick a big house with a pool please Love you! Uh, this better not mess up your plans for that sweet little piece of property in good ol’ WA-does it?

  5. Ha! I love the way you just throw that out at the end. I think DeNae will be miffed that you’re moving out there after she moved away…
    Also, isn’t it awesome to see the way the Lord chooses to bless you? We’re finding the same things in our life.

  6. I so can relate to what you’re talking about! When I was the YW Pres, it was crazy and busy and I was working and pregnant and all that…and yet, I felt the most spiritual then. In fact, I miss it so much now its like a void. Not the business or the meetings or any of that but the feeling of being buoyed up by the Lord to do the things He wanted me to.

    And seriously, my jaw dropped at Vegas!! WHAT?!!? Need more information!! 😉 Happy for you guys, but was hoping you’d end up in Washington!

  7. I’m pretty sure you meant Sandy, not Vegas. They sound exactly alike. I swear I couldn’t comment on your blog posts before or I’d have been doing it all along. (Did you have comments turned off a while ago or am I just an idiot? Wait, don’t answer that.) Love reading your adventures. Miss you!

  8. OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!!! That is amazing. I live in Vegas. I don’t really like, it but you will because you like everywhere you live. 🙂 And you will love the Smith Center. You have to see about getting season tickets. They will go on sale next spring. I know you will want them. It is the one good thing about Las Vegas. Well that and the temple. Wow that is seriously big news. And maybe I will get to meet Jenny someday. That would be so cool. Good luck with this year and wearing all your hats. And you know what is good for hate? A hall tree. You should get one or whatever a figurative hat tree would be. And I am sure that no one in the branch cares that you don’t wear every hat perfectly. So give yourself a break.

    • annie valentine says:

      Pat, good to hear from you. You should check out Jenny’s books, She is just getting ready to publish them. Her new website is Not sure if it’s up yet, but thought you might want to know.