Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Beautiful Spirit

This beautiful red head shared a beautiful spirit with me today.

Her name is Alice Nielsen Raynes.

Her life sketch, written by her daughter, and also my dear friend, Stefanie Farnsworth, is as follows:

Alice Nielsen Raynes, age 63, passed away peacefully November 9, 2011, surrounded by her eternal family.

She was born March 31,1948, in Provo, Utah to Vernon C and Olive Nielsen; she was the oldest of eight children. Her childhood was happy and filled with love. She graduated from Granger High School; kind and fun, she was voted by her student body as the Lady Lancer. 

While attending BYU, Alice met Joe, her Prince Charming—it was love at first sight. They married in the Salt Lake Temple on May 27, 1969. They have ten children, all redheads like their parents. Being a mother was central to Alice’s life. She was a constant example of Christ, especially evident in the nurturing of her family.

Life is all about choices, and Alice humbly made the right choices. Alice always chose kindness. If you have met Alice, you have felt the Savior’s love. She never said an unkind word about anyone. She loved others the way the Savior asked us to love—unconditionally and without reserve.

She chose to have ten children. They were born to a mother who cherished them and their differences, a mother who was constant in her love, guidance and example. All of her children know secretly that they are their mother's favorite. Her grandchildren also felt her never-ending love. She spent every moment she could with them, cuddling and "smell-kissing" them. Her home was always open and everyone felt welcomed and known by her. She was a mother to all.

Alice chose lifelong learning and had an amazing mind. She graduated from BYU with her Bachelor's Degree and used it every day in raising her children. She participated on the BYU Ballroom Dance Team, and could rumba and cha-cha like no other. She read voraciously, played and graciously won all trivia and word games. She was a master of the English and Spanish languages. She was an accomplished tailor and clothing designer. She sewed each of her daughters’ wedding dresses, each one custom made. She drafted designs for her homes, and Joe built them—for her.

Alice chose music as her talent and love. She played the piano, organ and cello with incredible aptitude and found great joy in music. As a teenager, she took organ lessons at Temple Square in the Assembly Hall. She instilled a love of music in her children, and was happiest when they were singing. She shared her talent by happily accompanying vocalists. There was always music playing in her head. Joe would often ask her what song was in her head and she would name the song and composer and hum him a few lines. Heaven will be richer because of her music.

Alice happily chose to serve; spending her days in constant service of others. She was a proud and faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She magnified her every calling, serving as Relief Society President, temple worker, organist, and in a myriad of auxiliary positions at both the ward and stake level. She spent thirty years playing the organ weekly in the temple, offering peace through music.

Alice chose to follow Joe to the distant corners of the earth. Wherever he was, running water or no, Alice was by his side. When her eternal love and companion in life was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Alice chose optimism and faith. She led her family with her example of turning to Christ and finding strength in Him.

She chose to be humble. She chose to be loving. She chose to be charitable. And her children watched and learned. They know where to turn for peace because they watched their mother find it in Christ.

We choose now to honor her legacy by being happy, ever-serving and faithful.

Alice Nielsen Raynes is preceded in death (by only 10 months) by her adoring husband Joseph Lincoln Raynes, and her parents, Vernon C and Olive Nielsen. She is survived by her ten children: Janelle (Nathan) Gerber, Michelle, Denise (Paul) Pitcher, Alison (Marshall) Smith, Melanee, Stefanie (Nate) Farnsworth, Jonathan (Daniela), Danielle (Bryan) Kennedy, Derrick (Alexa), David (Sydney), and 17 & 8/9 grandchildren. She is also survived by her siblings: Ruth (Tom) Rich, Chad (Karen) Nielsen, James (Giana) Nielsen, Kathleen Nielsen, John (Gayla) Nielsen, Lillian (Sterling) Clark, and Jocelyn (Michael) Goldberg.

Her funeral service was beautiful. Family members shared their talents through testimony and song, and shared with us the spirit of this amazing woman.

The music testified of Christ and of the life of this amazing woman. "Love in Spoken Here", "I Know that My Redeemer Liveth", "How Great Thou Art" to name a few.

"She served everyone and she made you feel like it was her privilege to be serving you...She could find anything good about anyone" (Paraphrased) - Alison Smith, daughter

"She made certain we knew she loved us. I would not question her love for me, as I would not question the existence of oxygen" (Paraphrased)  - Jonathan Raynes, son

"Our mother didn't like anything crude or crass, and we weren't allowed to use the word 'hate'. After a school lesson about Hitler, mother replied to her child's feelings about him with 'Hitler was a stinker' " (Paraphrased) - Alison Smith, daughter

"When I lost my dad, I lost my hero. When I lost my mom, I lost my first love" (Paraphrased)  - Jonathan Raynes, son

"Her life was her testimony...That Christ loves you, the Atonement is real and that to know Christ you have to be like Him" (Paraphrased) - Alison Smith, daughter

"Tough times are an invitation to decide which side we'll stand on. We decide to either let the hard things consume us or we can give it to Christ, who is waiting to take our burden...What is the Raynes family without Joe (father) and without Alice? ... When we ache for our parents, we choose to find comfort in Christ. This is the Raynes family" (Paraphrased)  - Jonathan Raynes, son

I drove home that night in the slow lane and sang at the top of my lungs. I felt joy.
I talked with Bella with more patience than I knew I ever had in me. I felt different.

This life is so short. We have been given these bodies temporarily so that we may be tested. What will I do with this mind and these hands? Will I serve our neighbor? Will I speak words of love in my home? Will I choose to emulate the life of my Savior? 

Alice chose to be happy, and has left her family with a legacy of love. What greater gift can you give to those you love?

Thank you Raynes family for letting me celebrate with you the beautiful life that was your mother's. 


  1. This is gorgeous. Words can't express my thanks.
    Love you! Stef

  2. This is so beautiful. I cried fresh tears of appreciation for capturing it all so perfectly in words and pictures. Thank you.

  3. Oh, thank you, Emily! Thank you for coming, taking pictures, learning and for being a friend. :)

  4. Oh, thank you, Emily! Thank you for coming, taking pictures, learning and for being a friend. :)

  5. How can I be such a horrible friend? You are amazing Emily! You are a dear dear friend Stef and I are both so lucky to know you!


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