6.07.2016

Summertime...Let them be Bored


So, I had all of these perfectly laid out plans for summer (have you seen all of the summer ideas all over Pinterest and Facebook lately!).  Yeah.  I was going to do ALL of it!  But one week in...and it is no longer.  With teens who have their own ideas of how summer should be and little boys who just want to run and play, it was tricky for me to come up with a happy balance.  Thus. I have yet again realized I am no longer in control of this little brood of mine any longer.  But it's okay....

...Because a few days ago the thought came, "Just let them be bored."  Fortunately, I've had a long trip to prepare for, making it very easy to "ignore" my children and allow that little thought to simmer.   Yes, I have requested a family hike every Thursday and they each have their daily job (house cleaning).  And yes, each of them are expected to have a goal or two over the summer.  But my perfectly planned schedule no longer rules the household.  And guess what?!?  It's amazing what they're doing!

My fifteen-year-old has a job! She's working so hard cleaning house for a single mom in our neighborhood.

My thirteen-year-old is happier than ever because she doesn't have to follow someone else's schedule! She spends her time reading (gasp!), organizing, and doing extra jobs to make a little money for the school year ahead. She even comes and asks me frequently if there's anything I need help with, "because I don't have anything to do."  Who is this child?!?

My eleven-year-old started to write a book!

My two youngest boys are playing together as little boys do (just take away the electronics and imaginations roam wild!).

My sixteen-year-old is growing up....and it's time I let him.  He'll be getting his license soon, has applied to a few places for work, and learning to make his own decisions about how he spends his time better.

What I've learned...boredom can be a great motivator and actually spawn creativity.  Of course, once I get back from my trip I'm sure my scheduling self will take over some, but hopefully I'll to continue to just let them be bored and watch great things happen!

Happy Summer Everyone!

5.16.2016

Family History - We are Doing it!


One of those topics that has been haunting me for years. I kept telling myself, "It's just not my time," while also believing that this was not something just for the elderly.  But each time I tried to add family history research into my life, it took so much time just to learn how to do it that I'd end up frustrated.

Then, to add to the nagging feeling I was already having, Elder Bednar came out with an excellent talk wherein he spoke of family history serving as a protection for your children.  Who doesn't want that?!  But, again, I would try, time after time with seemingly no success.  And so, instead of working on it myself I'd tell the kids, "You guys need to work on indexing."  A mother's prodding is never really enough though - - especially when she's not willing to do so herself!

So, with family circumstances as they are (busy teenage schedules, husband adjusting to new job, and me home all day "with nothing to do" - ha-ha) my husband suggested I take over family night and teach all of the lessons for awhile.  At first I was worried that if we did this the kids would never learn how to teach.  Really?  Yeah.  I'm good at making excuses.  ;-) So, that's what we've done - - I took over family night lessons.

When I sat down to prepare my first lesson, I was struck by the family history topic.  The primary section in lds.org is so fabulous for finding material on lessons with a wide age-range of kids.  And really, the lesson was nothing special at all.  It was fun, short and inspiring.

Lesson #1
We started with this fun ABC's of Family History quiz (the kids love it when I pull out the desk bells).

Next we watched this Mormon Message about a boy who was on fire with family history and how he got his family all involved.

Then, we took a stroll to look at what I've called our Family History Wall. I have something made by
my grandma Pack and grandma Fawson hanging on the wall.  On this wall I have also hung our family tree, something my mom made for our wedding.  I hope to add some items from J's family soon as well. Anyway, we talked about these items and what an heirloom is.

To conclude, we each chose a family history goal we would work on that week to report at the next family home evening.  These goals ranged from write in their journal to find a name to take to the temple.

Oh!  And I forgot - - The Church Distribution Center now has these cute coloring books on various topics, one of which is Family History.  To keep our two youngest boys occupied while we had our discussion.

Overall it was very successful just as an introduction to the topic and everyone was involved and eager to join in.  I left determined to have one family history lesson each month.

Lesson #2
Just last week we had our second family history lesson.  Honestly, this one was much less organized than the last one. I actually deferred the lesson to our daughter, Brooklynn, who showed us how to find names in our family who need ordinances performed.  What the night ended up looking like was actually way cool and inspiring!

We realized that only my husband, our two oldest kids and I had LDS Accounts.  So, we got each child set up on a different device and got them their own account.  We spent the rest of the evening looking for names.  Let me tell you how exciting it was when a child would shout, "I found someone!"  Or even better, "I found a whole bunch of names!"   And, just yesterday my two younger boys asked, "Can we do family history!?"  Ummm.....of course!

So, right now I have a beautiful stack of temple cards ready to take to the temple!



What I Learned

Family History does not have to be challenging.

Family Night Lessons do not need to be complicated.

Now I just need to keep the ball rolling!

 - - - - - 

"I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead (see D&C 124:28–36). And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories....I testify Elijah returned to the earth and restored the sacred sealing authority. I witness that what is bound on earth can be bound in heaven. And I know the youth of the rising generation have a key role to play in this great endeavor."  
Elder David A. Bednar, CR November 2011


5.08.2016

The Motherhood Journey


When I was a younger mom, I often wondered why other moms would have a hard time with Mother's Day.  I have generally had the mentality, "Live it up and let your family spoil you!"  I still hold to this mantra for Mother's Day, actually, because moms do A LOT for their families!  However, as years have gone on I can understand (and have had more of) the different thoughts that run through a mother's head on this particular day: 

Guilty as Charged:  "Why celebrate me?  All I did was yell at you this week!"

Infertility:  "Motherhood?  Yeah, looks like that will never happen to me." 

Exhaustion:  "Let's just skip it.  I'm too tired to celebrate." 

Past Guilt: "I really should have appreciated my own mother more."  

I think every woman has at least one of these thoughts at least once during Mother's Day...and every single day of their lives!  Because, though I won't say that every woman is a mother, I will say that every woman has a Motherhood Journey.  Whether that journey includes the heartache of not having children or the joys of having children; the heartache that comes with having children or the blessings that come with not having children, it is yet a journey upon which every woman travels.  And though no two women are alike, each path carries with it the same lessons and the same emotions.

Patience:  The Universal Virtue

Patience is one of the most difficult (in my opinion) characteristics to master.  This is especially true in our fast-paced society.  We hate waiting.  We want everything now. Along our Motherhood Journey, it is no different. We have to wait to have children.  We have to wait for our children to grow up.  We have to hold in our frustrations as we lose our patience with them while they grow up.  We have to learn patience while we wait upon the Lord.

On the subject of patience, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shares so eloquently:

Patience—the ability to put our desires on hold for a time—is a precious and rare virtue....Nevertheless, without patience, we cannot please God; we cannot become perfect. Indeed, patience is a purifying process that refines understanding, deepens happiness, focuses action, and offers hope for peace....Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!

Can't you just imagine your own Motherhood Journey in this quote?  That"active waiting??"  And then there's that heart-wrenching phrase "enduring well."  So much of motherhood is learning to do just that!  And the emotions that come with that are just as heart-wrenching as we try, and try, and try to get it "right" each day.  Every woman has these emotions on their journey.


Contentment  
"I Ought to be Content with the things which the Lord hath Allotted Unto Me" (Alma 29:3)

How do we reach that place of contentment on our Motherhood Journey?  What does it mean to truly be content?

I was recently visiting with a dear friend of mine.  I had watched her for years wait patiently (at least on the outside) and endure the pain of infertility.  Through it all she was able to have three darling little girls, but the struggle necessary for such blessings was great.  When talking to her she had just undergone a serious operation.  I asked her, "So, do you feel like your family is complete?"

She paused to think and then responded, "Yes....But in a couple of years I may feel different."

I thought, "Wow! That is true contentment."

Accepting what is, right now, is contentment.

Most of the time we have no control over our bodies when it comes to our Motherhood Journey.  I cannot change the fact that I've had three miscarriages.  You cannot change the fact that even on birth control you are expecting....Again!  We cannot make our children grow any slower or faster than they are.  And so, we must accept what is.  Because, as M. Catherine Thomas has written, "What is, is right."  Yes, there is pain that comes with these losses (or surprises!), but we can still move forward accepting where we are today.

Motherhood can also be very exhausting.  I remember my mom sharing the thought she had when we were younger, "Is this all there is to life...poopy diapers and cleaning up messes?"  Every mother has that challenge of wondering if there should be more to what we do.  I have to remind myself frequently, "I chose this life!"  And my mom, now aging, wishes she could do it all over again!  ;-)

Wherever we are along the Motherhood Journey we all work on coming to a place of contentment. "Come what may and love it," said Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin.


Submission

And with that contentment we can truly submit ourselves to the Lord, trust in His wisdom, and wait for the blessings to flow.

While thinking of submission in light of Motherhood, I imagine the responses of two women in the scriptures: Mary and Sarah.  The circumstances of these two women are polar opposites.  Mary is young, never known a man, and innocent.  Sarah, on the other hand, has been married for years, is of old age, and has been waiting for a very long time to bare a child. Though one is clearly surprised and possibly scared, the other is probably thinking, "Finally!"

And yet, even though they are on different places of the Motherhood Journey, each fully submits to the Lord.  Mary declares, "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord."  Sarah laughed, but ultimately submitted to the Lord and bare a son.

A Motherhood Journey requires so much submission.  Again, this applies to having children or suffering from the pain of not having or losing a child.  Submission is different than contentment in that we can now ask our Father, "What would you have me do?"

For those women who have children we can ask, "How shall I teach them?  What can I do to become a better mother?  Who of my children need me today?"  Though, maybe not as easy of a question, those women who do not bare children can ask similar questions, "What shall I do now, Lord?  Who am I to serve?  What am I to do along this journey, painful as it may be?"  Either way, a woman's heart reaches toward God so He can make of her what she needs to be.

Some Final Thoughts

I now see that Mother's Day brings with it varying degrees of emotion - - both the joys and the sorrows.  I, myself, am experiencing a flood of emotions that I didn't expect.  Every one of those thoughts listed above apply to me in some degree.  I feel the heartache of the lost, the joys of the present and the weight of the responsibility upon me to love and nurture those in my care to the best of my ability.

As women, we need one another.  We all have a Motherhood Journey to traverse while here on Earth...and for all eternity.  We must not forget that we are daughters of a loving Mother in Heaven who has, herself, been through her own Motherhood Journey.  Let us reach out and love one another, free of judgment, since we are all experiencing this life together.  I pray we can all have a wonderful Mother's Day and reflect on "what great things the Lord hath done (1 Ne. 7:11)."

 - - - - - 

"To all of our mothers everywhere, past, present, or future, I say, “Thank you. Thank you for giving birth, for shaping souls, for forming character, and for demonstrating the pure love of Christ.” To Mother Eve, to Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel, to Mary of Nazareth, and to a Mother in Heaven, I say, “Thank you for your crucial role in fulfilling the purposes of eternity.” To all mothers in every circumstance, including those who struggle—and all will—I say, “Be peaceful. Believe in God and yourself. You are doing better than you think you are. In fact, you are saviors on Mount Zion, and like the Master you follow, your love ‘never faileth.’”  - - Elder Jeffrey R.  Holland, CR Oct. 2015

4.14.2016

Comparitive Grief


A few weeks ago I sat at a Stake Relief Society luncheon and listened to a few women share their stories of hardship and how they have overcome them.  One sister shared how she, with four children at home, had had breast cancer.  She talked about the pain and exhaustion chemotherapy treatments caused.  Another sister explained the trials and triumphs of having Multiple Sclerosis.   The third sister shared her experiences with raising a severely handicapped child as well as the challenges her husband had with debilitating depression.  It's easy to sit through such a meeting and think to ourselves, "Man!  If they have all those challenges and can be strong, what am I complaining about?"

But then the third sister said these words: "Having these challenges doesn't make me any better or worse than you.  My trials are mine and yours are yours."

Though I've heard this many, many times throughout my life, the moment and the way in which she said it really resonated with me.  I took a moment to acknowledge that pain is pain.  Though miscarriages are extremely common and though I already have six beautiful children, my pain was very real to me. 

Each of us will feel pain and suffer in some way, especially as true disciples of Christ.  Pain is painful for the one who suffers it.  Elder Neal A. Maxwell has so eloquently explained:


"Our individual experiences may not always be unique, but they are always authentic. God will even take into account our perceptions of, as well as our responses to, our trials. For those of us who do not, for instance, find claustrophobia a challenge, it is difficult to measure the terror that comes to those for whom it is such a challenge. Thus, a friend may seem to struggle unnecessarily long before finally prevailing with regard to a particular principle of the gospel. But for that individual, the struggle was real enough! ...We must remember that, while the Lord reminded the Prophet Joseph Smith that he had not yet suffered as Job, only the Lord can compare crosses (emphasis added)."

Brene Brown (there she is again!) also talks about this in her book, Rising Strong.  She says, "...pain and hurt are not immune to being assessed and ranked."  Someone may lose a husband and not show compassion toward the mother who just sent her last child off to college.  Another might be diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and not sympathize with a friend who just had knee surgery. A person who miscarries may not acknowledge her own pain because she knows a woman who could never bear children.  All of these scenarios involve pain, loss, and struggle.  Thus, each situation is in need of more empathy and compassion, not less.

Brown continues, "Hurt is hurt, and every time we honor our own struggle and the struggles of others by responding with empathy and compassion, the healing that results affects all of us."  

Because of our trials and struggles of this life, we have the power to heal one another!  We have the ability to, "succor those that stand in need of our [succor]" (Mosiah 4:16) and "mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9)."  Though I may not enjoy the process, if this is even one portion of the joy I gain from struggling, I'm okay with that.  I know that my afflictions, and those of others, can be "swallowed up in the joy of Christ (Alma 31:38)."

 - - - - -

One day we will understand fully how complete our commitment was in our first estate in accepting the very conditions of challenge in our second estate about which we sometimes complain in this school of stress. Our collective and personal premortal promises will then be laid clearly before us. 
- - Elder Neal A. Maxwell

4.07.2016

My General Conference Highlights


As you can imagine, my heart was yearning for words of peace and comfort all during General Conference....and boy did those words come! But, I have to admit, it was also very difficult for me to hear some of the things that were spoken.  My heartstrings were pulled in various directions as I listened to true principles of necessary opposition and inevitable heartache in this life. But overall, I was uplifted and reassured that truly all will be well and our Father in Heaven does know me --  as He does all of His children.  So, here are some highlights I gleaned from the 8 hours of instruction:

Elder Dalin H. Oaks
Opposition plays a central role in the Plan of Salvation. Elder Oaks said, "We grow and become refined through challenges and making difficult decisions."  My question: Why does refining need to hurt so much sometimes?  

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland 
He used one of my very favorite scriptures, "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions (Heb. 10:32)."  I love that verse!  We are not going to be on a "spiritual high" all of the time, but we can remember those moments when we did feel the Spirit and rely on those moments through our difficult times.  Love it!

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom
He quoted Elder Holland as saying, "You can have what you want or you can have something better." This was one of the many quotes that caused me to squirm in my seat.  Though I love this sentiment, I don't really like it.  The unknown is scary to me, maybe to most of us.  We want what we think will make us happy.  But, the Lord knows the end from the beginning.  I would like to see what He has that is better for me, but I'm not sure I want to wait for it (especially when I don't know what that might be).

Elder Gene R. Cook
Elder Cook encouraged us,  "See yourself in the temple." There was much said in Conference concerning temples and our temple attendance.  I have been greatly blessed to live near a temple most of my married life.  This past month the temple has been a sure place of peace and serenity for me.  I am truly grateful for this tender mercy from the Lord.

Elder Patrick Kearon
And there is much already being done and going around via social media on reaching out to the refugees thanks to Elder Kearon's talk (as well as Sister Burton's talk from the week before).  There is so much hurt in the world.  One of the surest ways to overcome our own grief and pain is in the service of others.  I have been inspired to "seek out the strangers" in my own sphere of influence.  We'll see where that leads.

Overall, General Conference was as encouraging and uplifting as usual.  As one friend put it so nicely, "It makes me feel good about myself while also causing me to want to be better."  There is an upward lift when we spend two days focusing on the words of our Father in Heaven through His living prophets.  I am so grateful to live in such a time as this!

3.31.2016

Some thoughts on Grief


Grieving. 

It's something we've acknowledged needs to happen when any traumatic event or loss occurs in our lives. But I wonder if we really internalize what that means and how to go through it.

Brene Brown says that there are two things human beings fear the most:  shame and grief.  At first when I heard this I thought, "What?!  Our society is always talking about grief!"  For instance, I think we've all heard about the"steps of grieving," right?  And when someone has a loved one die we "allow" them time to grieve and understand that they need to go through the process (actually, we encourage them to go through the process).  So, what is it that Brown means when she says that grief is something most people fear?

My Own Rumble with Grief
I recently had an experience where I needed to "rumble with grief" (to use Brown's words).  A few weeks ago I had my third consecutive miscarriage.  After two years of waiting and wanting, I assumed this time around it was going to be great!  Finally, we were going to have our little caboose....or not.  For that first week, I cried.  I was angry.  I was confused.  I questioned.  And I cried some more.  After the week was over, I gave myself a "pep" talk and was ready to put that all behind me and move on.

That worked for a couple of days.  The next Monday hit and I was right back to that dark abyss.  For two days I fought the darkness and was so mad that I couldn't just "shake it off."  Tuesday night a friend came with a little care package and we sat to visit.  We talked about grief a little bit, but I still didn't acknowledge that was something I needed to do. I'm a very emotive person, so holding back emotions was not something I thought I had a problem with.  Plus, I'd had my week of crying, that should have been enough...so I thought.

The next morning I did some yoga (for the first time in a few weeks) and also listened to a session of this meditation series. In the meditation message Chopra asked, "What emotion are you afraid to express?" Instantly I knew that I really was afraid to grieve.  I started to cry...and cry...and cry.  After acknowledging all of the things I was grieving (because, yes, I was still holding onto some grief I've had with moving), I felt so much better.

But why was I afraid to grieve in the first place?  As I've thought about this I realized that for me grieving was a sign of weakness.  It was a sign of ingratitude, "Why cry about that when you have so much else going for you?"  This goes hand in hand with the (sometimes erroneous) thought that with the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation we shouldn't be sad.  I also was raised with the "buck up" mentality, "Don't dwell too much on your struggles; be positive!"

Grieving isn't a One Time Event
One of the biggest lessons I've learned these past two weeks is that oftentimes grieving isn't just a one time event.  Grieving isn't something I can do by shutting myself in my room for a few weeks until I'm "done."  I need to allow myself to grieve when the moment to grieve hits me..  I can find joy in living while still having moments of grief.  We can still enjoy our days amidst the pain that fills our hearts.

In an excellent talk given by Elder Richard G. Scott, he counsels, "Don't let the workings of adversity totally absorb your life.  Try to understand what you can.  Act where you are able; then let the matter rest with the Lord...Please learn that as you wrestle with a challenge and feel sadness because of it, you can simultaneously have peace and rejoicing (italics added)."

Yes, my heart is truly broken.  Many days I feel overwhelmed with sadness, doubt, questions and confusion.  Other days I feel light and love from a Father in Heaven who is constantly pouring down His blessings upon me. Grief is not something to be feared, but rather one of the many reasons we are here in mortality in the first place.  Feeling that pain only gives us more compassion for others and even more hope in a Savior who will make it all work out in the end.  Grief is not, as I'd falsely believed, a lack of faith.  Rather, it's a special kind of pain that causes us to reach more earnestly for an intimate relationship with God. At least, that is what it has been for me.

  - - - - - - 

"Our silence about grief serves no one.  We can't heal if we can't grieve;  we can't forgive if we can't grieve.  We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend.  C.S. Lewis wrote, 'No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.'  We can't rise strong when we're on the run." - - Brene Brown, Rising Strong, p. 139

3.23.2016

Dealing with Anxiety


My daughter has anxiety. It manifests itself by her lashing out in anger, saying mean things though she doesn't really mean them, honing in on annoying habits (like loud chewing).  She will have a night here or there where she can't sleep or relax because of some major project coming up that she doesn't like or want to do.  Speaking in public can really make her anxious.  I've been watching and helping her through this for the past seven years (with some counseling as well).  It's been an uphill battle but she is learning how to conquer her fears and talk herself through these emotions.

A lot is being said about anxiety these days.  I have wondered why it seems so much more prevalent now than it was in the past.  Maybe it's always been there, but we just haven't talked about it. ?? Usually when anxiety is talked about it's described as "panic attacks" where an individual can't breathe or "clams up."  My sister would become immobilized when her house wasn't clean and she couldn't figure out where to start.  Others will avoid social situations because it just feels uncomfortable and overwhelming to interact.

Well, for the past several years I have dealt with chronic muscle pain.  Mostly the pain is targeted on my lower back, but there are other trigger points along the right side of my back and I experience muscle weakness in my arms.  Usually, it's manageable and I just need to "work out the kinks."  Since moving, however, I have had many more "attacks" so to speak to the point where I'll have days when I cannot walk.  Years ago I went through ever test imaginable - - nerve tests, MRI's, blood tests - - all of it!  After ending up in the ER during the most serious episode, I went to physical therapy for a few months.  I tried the chiropractor and have done yoga for the past few years (which has been the most helpful up to this point).  I was finally diagnosed (a.k.a. given the label) with Myofascial Syndrome - - a cousin to Fibromyalgia.

After talking with a friend and reading some stuff she lent me, it's dawned on me that at least some of this pain could be coming from anxiety.  I don't have those "sure tail signs" people talk about - -the panic feeling, shying away from social situations, afraid to speak in public, etc. - - but I have had some extra stress in my life the last few years and so I can't help but wonder if sometimes my "episodes" are a result of anxiety or tension build up.  So, I've been exploring this idea and will be learning more in the upcoming months. It's worth a try, anyway!

Having my daughter, hearing others' stories, and experiencing some of this in my life has opened my eyes more to the fact that we just don't know what is going on in people's minds.  A popular LDS hymn says, "In the quiet heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can't see."  As I get older and learn more about others and myself I see that this statement is so, so true!  We just never know what story is lurking "behind the scenes."  It is important to love one another, to cherish the differences in one another and be merciful when others seem to falter.  And just as important is taking the time to know ourselves, accept ourselves and be merciful with ourselves.

 - - - - - - 

"There are cycles of good and bad times, ups and downs, periods of joy and sadness, and times of plenty as well as scarcity. When our lives turn in an unanticipated and undesirable direction, sometimes we experience stress and anxiety. One of the challenges of this mortal experience is to not allow the stresses and strains of life to get the better of us—to endure the varied seasons of life while remaining positive, even optimistic." - -Elder L. Tom Perry, Oct. 2008

2.17.2016

Family Systems



A couple of months ago we'd had it!  My hubby and I returned home from our anniversary date, excited to take the kids out to spend some time as a family. When we walked through the door, only one of our daughters was home and the house was a MESS.  Yes, their list of chores I'd left them was checked off, but beside that nothing had been done.  When questioned, we got more than mediocre answers from our children.

So what did we do?  Well, after a nice long rampage about how we were not going to deal with such disrespect anymore, we declared the family outing was cancelled and shut ourselves in our bedroom to watch our annual Christmas movie.

Things had to change. 

There's so much out there about having family systems and chore charts and check off lists.  There are incentives and even allowances given to get kids to clean the house.  Until recently, I was quite proud of the many systems we had tried with our family through the years.

But something was missing...

Our kids were learning that as long as they did just what was on their list, they didn't need to do anything else.  Then, when asked to do something extra we'd end up getting some sort of argument about how it wasn't their job or the annoying question, "Why do I have to do it?"  I had sworn with all our systems in place I had trained my kids (especially the now teenagers) how to clean and help out around the house.  After all, they had their jobs and it was pretty structured.  So it must have been working, right?

The funny thing is, before the returning home fiasco, I'd been trying to explain this very thing to my husband.  I didn't feel the kids were pitching in.  It seemed everyone would get up, get ready to go and leave their messes behind for me to clean up.  So, inwardly I was very grateful for this opportunity for him to see what was going on "behind the scenes," so to speak.

Things did change. 

We not longer have dishes days or assigned chores.  We believe in a system called: The Family Works Together.  After dinner nobody leaves the room until it's clean...Mom and Dad included.  On Fridays, the kids come home and we spend an hour or two cleaning. I do have a chore list, but it is a community list.  When a job is done, it gets checked off.  Nobody stops until every item is checked off the list.

Can I just tell you what a difference this has made in our family?  We still get some grumbling, but it's just not a battle.  And the weekend begins with a beautifully clean home (I love that part).  Friday cleaning also makes Saturdays more enjoyable.  I don't wake up ready to micromanage the kids into cleaning up all the things they didn't pay attention to throughout the week!  We can plan more family activities or work on our own individual projects without housework hanging over our heads.  This has also alleviated the feeling that I'm just left behind to be their maid.  I take care of the basics, but leave the rest for Friday Family Cleaning Day.

Ethan asked me today, "How long are we going to do this Friday cleaning thing?"

I responded, "Until it stops working."

And for now....IT'S WORKING!

 - - - - - 

If not me, who?
If not now, when? 
 - - Todd Merkley


2.15.2016

Start with Hello



I LOVE this campaign our local school district is doing right now.

START WITH HELLO!

It seems so simple, yet so foreign to many people.  There are days I'll run to the story and not look up or talk to even one person.  We are all in a rush to get things done or looking at our devices, we fail to recognize the people who are around us..  Starting with hello is such a beautiful way to start conversations, notice others and be a friend.

This reminds me of something my mother taught me when I was running for school secretary in middle school.  She said, "When you smile at someone, just keep smiling.  Then the next person you see will smile back.  It's like a chain reaction."   Though I didn't win that election, I still remember that sage advice those many years ago (and try to follow it).

Currently, on lds.org you can find this beautiful article entitled, "What my Kids Taught me about Loving Anybody."  I love the first story where the author is asked if her 2-year-old knows the cashier he's waving to.  Her response was, "No...He waves to everyone."  Why do we grow out of that - - that unabashed, "Be my friend" kind of attitude and confidence?

Both the school campaign and this article have inspired me to reach out just a little bit more, be aware of those around me when I'm out running errands, and to look for those who may need a little lift each day.  That's my Monday morning message.  :-)

START WITH HELLO!

2.11.2016

Mistakes we Make


"If you hadn't made that mess, you might never have come home."

image from amazon.com
I recently read this quote in Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff and it struck me forcefully.

If you hadn't made that mess...

How many times do we look back in our lives (or even at the end of every day) and think, "Man, I should not have done that!"  Or "Why did I do that?"

How many of us are in fear of taking that step forward, speaking to someone who makes us nervous, writing that book that's been on our mind for years (I could go on), simply because in our minds the question festers, "What if I mess up?"  

In this particular story, Hollis Woods is a foster child who just can't find the right family to fit her.  She goes from home to home until she finds one family who has some potential.  They love her, accept her, and talk about adopting her.  She feels good. But then a disaster happens...and she runs.  Well, I hate to give anything away, but through a series of events Hollis digs herself into an even deeper hole which leads her back home.  Thus the line, "you might never have come home."

Sometimes we look at our falls as failures or the end of the road.  We forget to recognize that without those learning moments, those mistakes, those regrets, we might not be where we are today.

In Rising Strong, Brene Brown talks about how the events of our lives have a beginning, a middle and an end (just like storybooks).  You start something new, it gets really tricky for awhile as you work out the kinks, and then you have a victory or, sometimes, a failure.  The middle is often the part when the rising plot occurs, leading to the climax of the story.   Of this Brown says, "Experience doesn't create even a single spark of light in the darkness of the middle space.  It only instills in you a little bit of faith in your ability to navigate the dark.  The middle is messy, but it's also where the magic happens (italics added)."

In order to get to the ending of our story, we need that middle part: the messy, unsolved, confusing, seemingly impossible part.  To become who we need to become, we need those learning experiences.  Didn't Adam and Eve teach us, "Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never would have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption...(Moses 5:11)."

Wasn't Joseph Smith counseled by the Lord during one of his darkest moments, "...all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good (italics added)?" (See Doctrine & Covenants 122:7)."  

It wouldn't help Adam and Eve to live in the place of regret knowing that without their fall, they would not have joy.  It wouldn't have helped Joseph any to skip that hardship when he knew the glorious reward at the end. Likewise, it doesn't help us to dwell on our regrets because we will have them!

Again, Brown teaches, "'No regrets' doesn't mean living with courage, it means living without reflection.  To live without regret is to believe you have nothing to learn, no amends to make, and no opportunity to be braver with your life (italics added)."  I love that phrase, "living without reflection" because that is what we are to do with our struggles and pains, our doubts and our failures.  We need to look inward and upward, seeking to know the next step and what lessons the Lord desires to teach us.

image from amazon.com

This reminds me of one of my favorite children's books, Beautiful Oops!  There are just lovely images of mistakes that happen, but then become something stunning on the very next page.  That is what is happening to us!  Whether we are in the beginning, the middle or the end of our experience, we are becoming something stunning - - even a masterpiece!  Take each day as what it is and embrace the fabulous journey. It takes some tears to get there, some hard work is necessary and some real self-introspection, but it is well worth it in the end!

 - - - - - 

"Struggle happens.  We give our children a gift when we teach them that falls are inevitable and allow them to participate in a loving, supported rising strong process." - - Brene Brown

2.08.2016

Youth Magazines of the Church


Have you seen the new format for the youth magazines of the Church?  The New Era and The Friend have some really cool features now.  I know, it's well into the new year...but I just looked through the January and February editions and was so amazed at what the magazine editors have done.


The Friend
At the back of The Friend there is now a section called The Friend Junior!  What a brilliant idea.


In the middle of the magazine there is a scripture section which has a challenge card encouraging the children to be like one of the prophets from the Book of Mormon.  There's also a scripture reading activity where you read the verses to color a picture.  Then, right in the center is an easy pull-out poster for an even deeper challenge.


The New Era
This magazine also has a pull-out poster in the center.  This is very similar to the poster in The Friend, but obviously geared more toward the teens in the Church.



I am just amazed at how interactive these magazines have become.  This makes it so much easier to incorporate them into our family life.  For the little boys I've copied and cut out the Book of Mormon prophet cards and laminated them.  On lds.org you can find full-size pictures of the prophet.  I have laminated those as well.  My goal is to post the picture in the kitchen to remind the boys which prophet and principle we are focusing on each month.  I haven't quite figured out how we're going to include The New Era poster into the lives of my teens.  I need to try to ponder on that one some more.

I have to admit, this last year or so I've pondered whether or not to even order the Church magazines anymore.  "It's all online," I would tell myself.  But I just still couldn't let go of having that visual reminder coming in the mail every month.  I'm so glad I didn't listen to that inner voice because these are totally worth having around!

2.04.2016

Times and Seasons

My Family Then...

There was a time when I'd wake up early to delve into the scriptures.  It was like I couldn't get enough!  And early morning was really the only (and best!) time for me to devote the energy and thought I wanted to them.  So I did it.

Lately I have been waking up to family scripture study and getting the kids off the school.  I wait for that one precious hour or two in the middle of the day when the boys are occupied and my "to do" list is (mostly) checked off to spend time on my own spiritual nourishment.  I have been feeling kind of bad about that shift in schedule.  I've had thoughts like, "If I would just wake up an hour before the kids, I could study then."  I have even  had the thought that I'm not putting the Lord first in my life (literally) because I postpone my scripture study until the afternoon.

Then a friend sent me this message,


I was thinking recently about how we can have passions and areas of expertise and how they seem to consume our lives and our free brain space. Like, when I first studied homeschooling that was pretty much what I read about all the time. I found it fascinating and important and delved into the topic of education. I've kind of moved out and I think I've been searching for a new topic....Anyway, I was thinking that it's time for me to find a new topic to become passionate about.


 As I simmered on this a bit, I thought about my own season and the thoughts I'd been having about my scripture time.  Not that it relates directly, but by reading her comments I realized when I study has nothing to do with my commitment to the Lord; it just signifies a different season for me.  At the time when I was waking up early I had six kids, was homeschooling, and had very little "alone time" during the day.  I was also gospel doctrine teacher and really needed that time to prepare myself to teach.  Now I have teenagers who are gone a lot of the time (and even when they are home, they have their own work to do) and only the two younger boys to occupy as needed.  I'm also serving in Primary which leads to a different kind of study and focus.

We, as mothers, hear advice, counsel, instruction, and ideas so often and then think we need to apply them all (well, at least I do).  For me, I'd latched onto the teaching that the best time to study is in the morning when revelation is clear.  Again the phrase, "put the Lord first" became literal to me, rather than internal and figurative.  Though these teachings may be true, judging myself against these ideologies and how I'd interpreted how to live them led me to feeling bad about myself and what I have to offer.

It reminds me of a story from Weakness is not Sin wherein the author and her husband are called to serve as a Mission President in another country.  She talks about how she wants to be strong while out in the mission field and study her scriptures with vigor.  While praying about how best to serve in this capacity the Lord answered by instructing her to exercise daily.  She was confused because it seemed so contrary to what she'd felt she needed to do to be successful.  It was a different time and season for her.  She needed to keep her health up to take care of those missionaries.  She'd already become confidence in the scriptures and therefore could fit it in throughout the day and in various situations. Studying was not as important during that season as exercising.

My Family Now...

And so I try to remind myself and gain a full picture of what season I'm currently living in.    My family is different now than it was four years ago (it feels longer than that!).  They have varying needs and are going in many directions themselves.  I am different now, with different needs.  Each season will be different...maybe not better, maybe not worse...just different.

I think the one thing that makes each season delightful is knowing we're engaged in what the Lord needs and wants us to be doing.  We can glean from all of the great thoughts, examples and ideas of others for sure because we know  prophets and others are placed in our path for our profit and learning, but the ultimate answer comes when we seek it from the Lord. Those subtle promptings only mothers get for their home and family are vital to the work we do!

So, carry on in your own season.  Take responsibility for your life as you seek the best way to guide and strengthen yourself and your family.  Love them.  Just love them.  And love yourself.  Love where you are and be happy. This is the counsel I give to myself...and to anyone else who needs to hear it. ;-)

 - - - - - 

"I am impressed by countless mothers who have learned how important it is to focus on the things that can only be done in a particular season of life....There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family....What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else." - - Elder Russell M. Ballard, CR April 2008

1.28.2016

Women of Righteousness: A Message from Sister Bednar

 Elder David A. Bednar and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar at a recent Face-to-Face event
image from lds.org

Tuesday night I had an incredible opportunity of listening to words of wisdom from Sister Susan Bednar, wife of Elder David A. Bednar (one of the great perks of being here at BYU-Idaho, I must say).  It is great to see the Brethren and their wives in more candid form than when we see them in General Conference.  At one point in the evening Sister Bednar made Elder Bednar laugh so hard he couldn't even speak for a minute.  It was darling!

Sister Bednar taught the female employees and wives of employees about what it means to be a righteous woman.  She shared beautiful and touching stories of the many women she has met in various parts of the world.

One poignant story was of women in Africa.  These women were not starving, but their meals were few and far between.  One woman made the statement, "It's only a fast when we have food and choose not to eat it."  Sister Bednar commented, "When we teach the principle that a fast is two consecutive meals.  Doing so may mean these women will not eat for a few days."

Such faith.  Such strength.  Such righteous women!

So what did Sister Bendar teach is the definition of a righteous woman?  (the questions below each point are my own)

Righteous Women Have Pure Hearts
What am I doing to fully support my husband? 
How am I instilling the love of missionary work in the hearts of my children?

Righteous Women Sacrifice
What do I  need to do to get my life in order so that when the Savior calls I can "leave my net?"  Even on the daily basis of following the Spirit, I need to be ready to be able to follow each prompting to help someone in need. 

Righteous Women are Converted to the Lord
Do my children feel safe bearing their testimonies?  
Do they sense my true conversion to the Lord? 

Righteous Women have Courage
Elder Bednar spoke of Sister Bednar's unshirking attitude when called upon to visit dangerous and disease-infested countries.  He said of her, "I don't think she even thought of not going when given the choice."  

Am I willing to go anywhere to follow the Savior? 

Righteous Women Keep the Sabbath Day Holy
How can I more fully keep this commandment close to my heart? 


In Closing Sister Bednar said, "Blessings come through our personal struggles" and she invited us to become "armed with righteousness."  It was so beautiful to hear her words and to be surrounded by other righteous women in that gathering last night.  Sister Bednar's comments led me to ask myself:

Are you a Righteous Woman? 

 - - - - - 

"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth;  and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory."  (1 Nephi 14:14)


1.25.2016

Sharing Time: The Words of Christ will tell you All Things what ye Should Do


I had so much fun planning sharing time for Primary this past week.  Our annual theme is "I Know the Scriptures are True."  When I was called (back) into primary I was a little less than thrilled.  I had just recently had this same calling and thought a little reprieve sounded nice.  But when I heard the theme for this year, I was so excited! This is one of my favorite topics of all and so I became eager to be a part of helping these young children learn the importance, value and love for the scriptures.

My first sharing time topic came from 2 Nephi 32:3 "Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what you should do (italics added)."  In my search for learning and teaching this particular phrase I came across this idea...and then adapted it!  In my studies I learned that just as the world gives us street signs to know where we are and where we are going, the Lord gives us "street signs" in the scriptures helping us to know how best to navigate our lives.  I had so much fun searching for the verses to match the signs.  This could make a great family home evening activity...


RIGHT TURN ONLY
Proverbs 4:26-27
"Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil."


MERGE
Joseph Smith-History 1:18-19
"I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.  I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong..." 

Isaiah 56:6-7
Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants...and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people."   


ONE WAY
Jeremiah 32:39
And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:" 

Ephesians 4:4-6
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 


YIELD
Mosiah 3:19
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.  

Doctrine & Covenants 9:13
Do this thing which I have commanded you, and you shall prosper. Be faithful, and yield to no temptation. 


U-TURN
3 Nephi 8:32
 Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel.  


CURVY ROAD AHEAD
1 Nephi 8:32 - The Story of the Iron Rod
And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain; and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads


STOP
Alma 36:6; 38:7 - The Story of Alma the Younger
For I went about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church of God; but behold, God sent his holy angel to stop us by the way....But behold, the Lord in his great mercy sent his angel to declare unto me that I must stop the work of destruction among his people; yea, and I have seen an angel face to face, and he spake with me, and his voice was as thunder, and it shook the whole earth. 

Doctrine & Covenants 5:33-34
And there are many that lie in wait to destroy thee from off the face of the earth; and for this cause, that thy days may be prolonged, I have given unto thee these commandments. Yea, for this cause I have said: Stop, and stand still until I command thee, and I will provide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee. 


NEXT EXIT  IN # MILES
Helaman 14:2
And behold, he said unto them: Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name.   


FOOD NEXT EXIT
2 Nephi 32:3
Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what you should do.


DO NOT ENTER
Alma 12:36
And now, my brethren, behold I say unto you, that if ye will harden your hearts ye shall not enter into the rest of the Lord; therefore your iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath upon you as in the first provocation, yea, according to his word in the last provocation as well as the first, to the everlasting destruction of your souls; therefore, according to his word, unto the last death, as well as the first. 


SPEED LIMIT
James 1:19
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.

Doctrine & Covenants 136:35
And now cometh the day of their calamity, even the days of sorrow, like a woman that is taken in travail; and their sorrow shall be great unless they speedily repent, yea, very speedily.  


EXIT
Matthew 2:13-14
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt.

2 Nephi 5:5-6
And it came to pass that the Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me. Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me.


HANDICAP SIGN
Jacob 4:6-7
Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.  Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things. 

Ether 12:27
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. 

 - - - - - 

 "We will all face trials and have questions, but remember that we must be 'continually holidng fast to the rod of iron.'  'The words of Christ will tell [us] all things what [we] should do.'  We must make scripture study a daily part of our lives, as this will open doors of revelation."  
 - - Elder James B. Martino, Ensign, Nov. 2015 - - 


1.22.2016

Motherhood is Where I'm Supposed to Be!



Oh. My. Goodness.  Time flies.  I just am not writing as much as I'd like to be.  Family life has been keeping me quite busy.  After a rough first week of the New Year (post-holiday blues, I guess) I sunk my feet in and began loving (again!) my role as a mother.  I do what mothers do best - - keep the family running.  ;-)  I still have some projects in my back pocket, but they are not at the forefront of my mind.

It's funny (embarrassing, really!) how I have to keep revisiting this principle:  Motherhood is where I'm supposed to be!  And it's even funnier how once I remember this one truth in my life, I'm a MUCH happier person (and mother!).  Sure, my house isn't perfectly clean, my desk is piled with papers, there are still dreams waiting to be fulfilled, and my to-do list is left without check marks...but these last couple of weeks I have felt a sense of fulfillment at the end of the day as I have focused on my family.

The Project
One thing that has really kept me from writing recently is a big project I'm working on for my daughter, Addie.  She has really struggled with reading the scriptures.  If she doesn't understand something right away, she will get overwhelmed and frustrated, losing any desire whatsoever to keep going.  Several months ago I asked her what I could do to help her.  She explained:

"I like it when there's, like, a few verses to read and then I have to answer a question based on those verses."

So, I went online to find a scripture journal for her.  There are some good options out there (the Red Headed Hostess study guide being the most awesome), but none of them seemed to be the right fit for her.  Either the journals didn't go chronologically or they were too busy/complicated for her needs.  She just wanted a simple:  Read this....Answer this...kind of format.

Well, for the last few months I've been thinking I should just make one for her.  When the New Year began, I thought, "You know what?  I haven't read the Book of Mormon all the way through in a little while, maybe it's time to do that again for one of my 2016 goals."  And thus began my journal-making process.

It is so fun and so addicting!  I finished 1 Nephi and had Addie try it out.  She LOVED it!  Her one complaint: "There's not enough writing room."  :-)  I'm hoping to start sharing it here on the blog for any other kiddos (or adults) out there how want a simple, focused study.  Of course, as I write the questions, I've got Addie on my mind.  What does she need to think about and learn?  AND, of course, I think about my own needs and insights when asking the questions.  However, I'm still hoping it will be universal enough to share and I have all sorts of other ideas flowing through my brain right now!  But these are all dream-stage thoughts.  I just wanted to share what I'm doing instead of blogging right now!  ;-)

Back to Motherhood
Anyway...going back to my first thought in this post... I'm realizing how this focus on a project for my daughter at the same time as working on my own spiritual growth is so awesome!  This project has completely allowed me to see (again!) what motherhood really means to me.  I think I've allowed myself to get wrapped up in the thought that I need to have MY time away from MOM time....but it is so much simpler (and more fulfilling) if we can just merge the two together. I love reading the scriptures and I love being a mom.  With this project I'm doing both!

Motherhood is a place where we have the opportunity to explore what gifts we've been given and then using those gifts to bless the lives of our children.

Motherhood is definitely a "lose yourself" kind of a work, but it doesn't have to be a place where we lose sense of who we are meant to be and what we are meant to do.

Motherhood is about living close to the Spirit and choosing what is most important each and every day...for you and your children.

I'm sure I'll be writing another post just like this one in a few years (or months!) as I am reminded once again which role is truly most important in my life.  Oh, that I might more fully treasure this gift of being a mother more consistently!

 - - - - - 

A woman who treasures motherhood on earth will treasure motherhood in the world to come, and “where [her] treasure is, there will [her] heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). By developing a mother heart, each girl and woman prepares for her divine, eternal mission of motherhood.  
- - Sister Julie B. Beck, April 2004 - - 

1.04.2016

New Year Goals



2016 is going to be GREAT!!!!  
(because  I said so)

I am so determined to put these past two years behind me, to embrace where I am today and live hopefully toward the future.  It really is going to be a great year!

I'm not one to focus on one thing to work on.  I tend to want to fix everything all at once!  So, I make lists (lots of them all year long).  My new year list is no exception (I figure if it's long, I'll at least accomplish one):

1. No sugar.  No sugar at all, all year.  Honey doesn't count.  100% Maple syrup?  Haven't decided, but that will probably count on sugar.  My body is horribly inflamed and so I'm being compelled (for the third time at least) to make this change in my life (plus, I'm promised a get-away with my husband if I do it!)

2. Finish our Family Photo books.  Every since D came along...all mothers know this story.  Gonna get them done!

3. Keep a prayer journal.  This one was inspired by the movie War Room.  So good.  Definitely one to watch again...and again...and again.

4. Read 1 Newberry Award Winning book a month.  This one's been on my New Year's goal list the past couple of years, with no success.  I'm bound and determined to make it happen this year.

5. Work toward my own personal goals toward teaching and writing.  One step at a time...

6. Create a scripture journal for my children (one in particular).  I've looked at all the scripture journals available (i.e. Red Headed Hostess) and they just aren't the right style for my daughter.  So, I'm killing two birds goals with one stone:  Reading the Book of Mormon while created a journal for her to fill out.  I'm actually REALLY excited about this one (may be sharing in future posts).

7. Read The Soft-Spoken Parent with my hubby.  We could both use a refresher course on proactive parenthood as we enter the world of raising teenagers (and a 4 year old who thinks he rules the world!!!).

8. Write and/or send a note to someone each week.  Time to stop thinking of myself.  ;-)

That's a pretty good list, I think.  Not too impossible.  ;-)

I'm most excited about our family goals this year.  I think they are awesome!  We just have two:
1. Participate in a 5K together
2. Each find one family name to prepare for temple ordinances.

So there you have it from my world.  It's in writing and published for the masses...nothing like that to keep me committed!  It really is going to be a great year.  The Lord has been good to us, but I am ready for smaller mountains to climb (at least for a minute).

12.15.2015

Joy Cometh in the Morning


I am not a morning person.  I admit it.  I love my warm, cozy covers and dozing in and out of dreamland. When I do arise,  I need quiet, pensive, grounding time before I can be active.  My husband on the other hand, wakes up with vigor and can be quite chatty!  It's been a balancing act for both of us (probably more give on his part than on mine) for the past seventeen years!

Recently I read this title of a talk by Elder Russel M. Nelson, "Joy Cometh in the Morning."  Though this talk is really on the aspects of repentance and forgiveness, just the title struck me in a new light.  "Joy Cometh in the Morning."  Huh.  That is a beautiful phrase!

In stake conference last weekend our stake president said, "Every morning I wake up and I have a choice.  What kind of day will it be today?  Will I do what is expected of me?"

I wondered about my own mornings and reflected on a similar post I'd written awhile back  (guess I'm not a very quick learner).  Pondering on this talk title, I asked myself, " Do I find joy in the morning?"

I love bedtime!  I sink down into my bed at night, exhausted from the day's activities, so grateful for the opportunity to finally rest!  When I wake up am I already thinking about going back to bed?  Why would I hang on to the exhaustion rather than allow myself to be rejuvenated by the rest I was so grateful to receive?

The Lord gives us days to live.  Days.  24 hours.  Each morning we have the opportunity to find joy.  Each morning is a fresh start to become whoever we want and need to become.  Do I find joy in the morning?  Do you?

It's just a question I'm pondering today.

12.10.2015

What We're Drinking at our House this Winter

image from http://www.caputosdeli.com/brands/Crio-Bru.html

Oh. My. Goodness.

I'm addicted!

My husband's been drinking this for awhile.  I've been a bit less eager. But with the cold coming upon us I have been all about keeping warm.  Hot chocolate is just a little too rich and sugary anymore for me.  So, I figured out how to make this stuff work for me.

First of all, you need a way to brew it.  A lot of people use a French Press. My husband found a cheap coffee maker for brewing and it works great!

If I were to be honest, I must say brewed cocoa by itself tastes a lot like dirty water.  Warm, dirty water.  There's a lot you can add to the cocoa to make it taste just a little bit better.

My husband adds a packet of stevia and some almond milk.   I prefer honey and almond milk in mine.

A friend of ours simply adds flavored creamer.

We've also tried adding Torani's flavorings with cream.   Most of these flavors are still  a little too sweet for me...and some flavors make the cocoa taste like medicine.  Blech! So, you just need to choose flavors carefully  (i.e. hazelnut is really yummy!).

So, have a different, healthier treat this year to warm up your body this winter!

12.07.2015

Sweet Sixteen!!



See that handsome face?!

My little boy, John, is 16 years old!

Which means...I'm getting old!  (But that's a whole different topic for some other date).




This is my very favorite picture of him as a little boy.  He was only 4 years old in this shot. It's hard to imagine that when he was born his tiny, 4-pound body could fit in my husband's hand.  Being two months early we were a bit concerned about his health.  Yet, there was also so much peace surrounding this little boy, we knew he would be just fine...even better than fine.

I have to say, raising John has been more of a Parenting 101 course  (Heavenly Father saved the Parenting 505 course for last).  As I said, John has just had a peace about him that is both endearing and contagious.  As the oldest he has been a great example for his younger siblings, a tough load to carry.  He is kind and courteous of others.  He's not a man of many words, but most of the time he onl speaks kindness.  His heart is just inherently good.

I'm trying to imagine three years from now with him blessing our home with his presence no longer.  I'm hoping that the days will be long so that we can enjoy every last moment (though, at sixteen, I think we're all  a little ready for his independence!).

My prayer for him is that he will continue to be kind and to know who he is.  I pray he will do great things that uplift him as well as others.  I pray he will always have a prayer in his heart, to be guided by the only one who knows where he needs to go and be.  I pray that my heart will be strong as he grows into adulthood and strives for success.  But ultimately, I pray he can be strong - -  in body, mind and spirit - - to withstand the greater pressures that inevitably come with aging and life.

Here's to Sweet Sixteen!! 
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