February 05, 2016


My oldest child just turned 17 yesterday.
Doesn't 17 seem so much older than 18?

In a house with many children, those oldest kids are given a lot of responsibility.  As an oldest child myself, I've tried to shield him from feeling like it was his responsibility to raise our children.  But, that feeling of responsibility just naturally comes.  Jakob really does help me raise my family.  His example is powerful and oh how I have relied on his physical stamina (especially when I'm not feeling well).

Jakob has always been my social child.  He's active at school and has a lot of friends.  Since we've moved to New York, he's been home more.  I love his calm, disciplined presence in our home.  He is a good, good kid.

Jakob sings with the select choir at school, he plays varsity soccer, he's on the robotics team, teen institute, and plays the Guitar, French Horn, and the piano.  He has a little angus bull named Mignon that he cares for daily.  And, he loves to play a few rounds of Super Smash Brothers with his dad and siblings at night before he goes to bed.  (Usually, I put the B Team to bed while the A Team finishes up their homework and the kitchen.  They play a couple rounds of Super Smash and I convince them to watch one episode of Blue Bloods with me.)

Jakob is a good cook.  He's not afraid to follow a recipe.  For his birthday he got a bread cookbook and I'm excited to taste his experiments!

Jakob is really smart.  He's gotten straight A's his whole life and is currently ranked 4th in his grade for his GPA.  He is independent.  I've never had to wake him up or tell him to study or remind him of upcoming events or help him with an essay.  This kid was born more responsible than I am.  I honestly just watch him and feel grateful that he's mine.
It's not just that I love him because he's my baby grown up.  I like him.  I admire him.  I learn from him.  I'm proud of who he is becoming and know that he came this way.

I worry about him too.  Poor child has always gotten the brunt of my parenting intensity.  I'm never sure that I'm doing things right with my oldest.  I get so worried about little things that I have to force myself to step back and see the big picture.  

I'm hard on him, maybe too hard.
He's got a lot of responsibility, maybe too much.
He is surrounded by little kids all the time, that's fun and overwhelming at times.

Oh, Jakob.
Thank you!  Thanks for being the best oldest child a mother could ask for.  Thanks for being a darling big brother and a natural peace maker.  Thanks for vacuuming the floor anytime I ask and cleaning up the grossest messes that make me gag.  Thanks for making me laugh and for sharing your strength when I'm tired.

I brought  balloons and a Burger King lunch up to the HighSchool for his birthday.  Jakob was sitting at a table with all girls, bundled up in his coat with his backpack on.  He said he wasn't feeling well and I felt his head, he was burning up.  He said he was sick but wanted to take his quiz in AP Biography.  I suggested he come home with me.  The nurse had to take his temp and it was 102.

Jakob came home and poured his Oreo shake into cups to share with his little brother and sisters.  He collected sheets, pillows, blankets, tissues, and a trash can and made himself a sick bed on the couch.  He found Johnny English on Netflix and yelled for me and Ellie (who is also home with a fever) to come watch it with him.
We had wonton soup and egg rolls for dinner because everyone is a little sick.

Jakob, he's good.
I love him.
I feel humbled as my children grow.  My body worked with God and Todd to create their bodies, but I did not create their souls.

Jakob came wise.  
17 is so close to 18, 19, 20.
It's hard to fathom.
I know that I will miss his presence in our home as he grows up.
Happy Birthday Kid.
You are loved.

January 28, 2016

When You're Tired...

Eve got out of bed three times last night. She went into Ben's room and together they tiptoed, giggled, and hid from me. They had a little bench pulled up to the window and they were looking for daddy who was working late. 

I might normally have gotten upset, but honestly I was too tired to get upset. I gently put Ben back to bed (again), and led Eve to her bedroom. A stroke of inspiration led me to point out the frost on her window and remind her that Jack Frost was coming. I tucked her into bed, snuggled her in tightly, and told her to be very still. I tickled her face and blew on her nose, and clapped. I asked her what she wanted to dream about because sometimes Jack Frost brings beautiful, magical dreams. She was really thinking as I suggested flying horses and rooms full of candy. 

She said confidently, "I want to dream I'm a mother (mothew)." And then added with a smile, "A mothew bird with eight eggs." Sweet girl. Gentle promptings. When I went to shut her door she told me confidently that I could leave it open because she would NOT get out of bed again. And she didn't. 

Sometimes being tired helps us to rely on those gentle promptings more. I would have missed that sweet moment if I had allowed self-pity to justify anger. I agree my little Eve, motherhood is the stuff the best dreams are made of.

January 03, 2016

10 Years Ago

(This was the first house we ever owned... 9213 Solitude Lane, Belleville, MI.)

We went to visit Todd's brother and his darling family for New Years and while we were there, we went back to visit the little town where we lived just after we graduated from BYU before Todd went back to school to get his PhD. 

We moved to Michigan when Jakob was two and Drew was newborn.  Anna and Ellie were both born when we lived in Michigan.  I was 8 and a half months pregnant with Leah when we moved to Texas.  We lived there the summer of 2000 to the summer of 2006, ten years ago.

It was SO good to see the places of our past and the people who are intertwined in our memories.  

I thought of this poem...

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
(Corrie ten Boom)

Honestly, my heart remembered people that my mind didn't.  Although we've been gone ten years, it really didn't feel like we'd been gone long.  It is so cool to see kids you knew in their youth all grown up.  We saw friends and mothers who taught me how to be a mom.  

It would be so cool if we could all do a Back to the Future run every now and then to see our now-- ten years from now.  

Yes, God is good.  I know he molds us and guides us to different places at different times in our lives.  I'm thankful for our time in Michigan, but I'm also thankful for our time in New York.  Ten years from now, we will look back on this stage of our lives with great love and gratitude.  

I'm extra grateful to be alive for today.
Life is good.

December 13, 2015

Shine On!

Sometimes I feel a desperation to know someone who is succeeding in a life more difficult than mine.  I need to know that it is possible to maintain your physical and mental health while parenting a large family.  The whisper that I hear trying to pull me down says, "Nobody can do this.  You can't do this.  It's too hard. You're sick, you're tired, you're weak."  

Isn't it sad that we unconsciously echo this voice to one another?  In our effort towards compassion we actually confirm unhealthy thoughts in one another.  We do this as women when we talk about pregnancy, our husbands, toddlers, teenagers, mother in laws, and keeping house.  Compassion can be crippling.

How do we change our inner dialogue?  

You see, there are two paths of belief that battle for dominance in my mind.  One part of me feels blessed, good, hopeful, joyful, grateful, and powerful.  The other part of me feels afraid, miserable, lazy, inadequate, abused, sick, scarce, and incapable of doing all that my family requires of me.  

When I'm feeling low, I have a tendency to stop moving forward and focus on changing my thought patterns through prayer, analysis, phone a friend therapy, or journaling (like this).  If you had to label me depressed or anxious, I am definitely one who tends towards inactivity and isolation when I'm down, as opposed to frenzied, worried, cleaning or doing.  (I have often thought anxiety sounded much more productive!)  I hate when I feel discouraged and wonder what is wrong with me that sometimes I really hate this heavy load I'm pulling.

This scripture hit me the other day--

16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, 2 Nephi 2)

I felt as though I had been attacking life all wrong at times.  Here, I heard God saying that I would ALWAYS have those feelings of inadequacy, temptation to curl up and stop trying, mixed with feelings of strength and voices inspiring me to press forward.  Those competing thoughts are not only natural, they are essential in this life of TESTING.  I have to CHOOSE and I have to ACT.  When I choose to numb out, despair, and doubt, I am choosing to listen to voice number 2.  When I choose to serve, love, and hope on, I am acting in faith.  But, BOTH FEELINGS HAVE TO BE THERE FOR ME TO BE ABLE TO CHOOSE.  

 "Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other."

Don't you recognize the lies that repeat in your thoughts?  I do.  And yet, I don't always know what to do with them.  

Here are my demons-

-Nobody can have eight kids without a nanny or housekeeper and stay sane.
-You are not well, you're fragile, weak, and exhausted.
-You're selfish when you take time for exercise, scripture reading, or spend money on clothes.
-You don't know how to do this.  You need to learn more, read more, talk to more functional people to figure out how.
-You're standards are too high.
-You're priorities are off.
-You're hurting everyone.
-You're abused, martyred, taken advantage of.
-You don't have enough time, money, or energy to do all that you are required to do.
-You have ruined your children and you are an awful wife.
-You work too hard and you are killing yourself with hard work.
-You are a victim, you don't like being a mom, you have way to many kids, this is never going to end.

There are other voices in my head that I know.

Even though God knows my weakness and sees my inadequacies, He trusts me to parent these children.  He inspires me daily.  He fills me with His love and His power.  Like me sweet toddlers who hug me tightly when I'm crankiest, He has continued to stay close even as I try to turn away from Him.

I feel like one of God's favorites.
I know mothering is natural to me.
I LOVE being a mother.
I feel healed and believe in God's ability to heal.
I know I can do all things with God who strengthens me.
I know how to repent and have felt the cleansing and strengthening power of the Atonement in my life.
I hear God and see angels guiding me daily.
I know the way.
I am not alone.
I believe in miracles and I see miracles daily.
I am abundantly blessed.
I am loved.
I am living my dream.
I have dear, dear friends and the best family.
My life is so, so good.

Too much of my time has been spent mentally measuring which of my competing thoughts are "REAL".  Am I really an awful mother or really a wonderful mother?

Let me admit something to you, I really am BOTH.  Really.  (If you think that you're awful and I'm amazing it is only because I haven't blogged about my worst moments.)  I can stop gathering evidence to prove my guilt or innocence and standing these evidences up against each other to pronounce myself good or bad.  I am good because I choose to try again to be good.  HIS grace covers all of my sin and HIS power makes me eternally enough!  I think I get to choose every day which part of myself I'm going to ACT on.  

One of the greatest lessons I learned from my sojourn in the hospital, was that faith is a choice.  Every day I had to CHOOSE to curse God for abandoning me to health trials so painful and depressing that I could be forever angry.  Or, to SEE the mercy and miracles in my situation.  When I chose to see God and tell others about the little miracles in my life, my ability to see Him increased.  

prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 
11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the fields, saith the Lord of Hosts. (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi, 3 Nephi 24)

If I choose to waste my time whining about how hard my life is, I will feel those negative feelings more.  No matter how many people on Facebook tell me what a wonderful mom I am or how it is natural for us to lay around and take a break some days, my actions can influence my mental state.  If I choose to get up, get dressed, turn on some happy music, and really SERVE my family in deed and in thought, I will FEEL happier.  If I stop doing good and choose to feel abandoned, I place an umbrella over my head that makes it difficult to feel the great dews from Heaven that God is pouring on me.  If I open my heart and my mind and my eyes to bask in His light, I will SEE His hand in my life.

The windows of Heaven are open and the dews are pouring out!

There are times when we go through the motions of serving while our mind is playing over and over the prideful, martyr soundtrack.  I actually think this is preferable to laying on the couch, because negative emotions are released as you move your body and doing good with your body qualifies you for blessings of Heaven.  Doing good does good for your soul.  Exercise and serving others will help you feel good.  But, true joy can only seep into a heart that is open to receive it.  Put away your umbrella, open your vessel that you may be filled!

It is not compassionate to coddle fears and commiserate with lies.

We must shout encouragement to one another as the mother on the sideline of the cross country meet.  "Run!  You can do this!  You're almost there!  Just stay with him.  Pace yourself!  You're prepared, you're strong, and you're fast!  Go!  Go!!  You are a runner! You can do this!"

God loves His children.
He is with us.
This life is a test and a time for training.
Hard things are blessings.
We have access to divine inspiration and divine miracles.
We know the way.
Mental health, physical health, purity, endurance, patience, and joy are possible and they are influenced by our choices and our desires.

Faith is a choice.
Doubt is also a choice.
Faith and doubt cannot not exist in the same person at the same time, for one will dispel the other.  
If you want to get rid of doubt, choose faith.

This is an idea taught by Joseph Smith and repeated by President Monson.  It does not mean that a faithful person cannot feel doubt (nor that a heterosexual person can't feel homosexual tendencies, a good mother won't want to beat her children, a kind person won't be tempted to scream unkind things, a loving spouse won't ever dislike her companion, a healthy mind won't ever feel depressed).

We actually MUST feel tempted inorder to choose.  If we don't have options there is no choice!  But, we are promised that as we are choosing FAITH the doubt will flee.  One WILL dispel the other.  It is a law of Heaven.  Doubt can dispel faith when you choose to dwell on it.  But, choosing to act in faith, choosing faithful thoughts can also dispel doubt.  That is SO powerful.

A room will stay dark until you turn on the lights.  If the lamp is not plugged into the power, the act of switching the light on won't bring light.  But, when the lamp is plugged into the power, switching the light on will ALWAYS dispel the darkness.  Yes, darkness is how the room really is.  Light is how the room really is.  You just choose whether you switch the light on or keep it off.  You have a choice only because there really are two options!   
Darkness is not proof that the lamp is broken!!!!!

Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right.
If you see the good or see the bad, you're right.

If we could see ourselves as God sees us we would be amazed at our potential for good.  I know it.  

If we could see our spouses and our children as God sees them, we would be humbled and inspired.

Because we are children of God, He has given us access to His power and light!
We can shine!

Oh God-- open my eyes to SEE you and to see me through your eyes.
Help me to discern truth and possibility.
Help me to choose decisively to go forward with faith.
Inspire me to ACT, to do good, to love more.
Fill me with gratitude.
Strengthen my body to perform the work I was sent here to do, strengthen my mind to be clear, kind, and constant.

Today and always, I want to act with power, choose with clarity, and go forward with FAITH.
I want to love like I am loved, and serve because I am blessed.  

I can do eight children, together with God I could mother a nation!  
One plus infinity is infinity.
I can handle physical infirmities with one who creates bodies.
I can organize a home with one who creates worlds.
I can parent near the ultimate teacher.
I can budget with the fount of every blessing.

Yes, God is with me, He is with you.
When we are yoked together with God, we can pull a heavier load.  
Our yoke is easy and our burden is light.

I love this work.
I love this life.
I know bed rest hurts.
Give me this mountain! (Joshua 14:12)

We've got this!
You can handle your toddler.
Potty training is easy.
We live in 2015, it is easier to clean our homes now than it has ever been!
We have time for every needful thing.
You know what to do.
You are strong!
You are kind!
You are patient!
You are more powerful than you know!

I can do 8 kids!  You can do your hard.
If God had commanded us to do all things, we could do them.

50 And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done. (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi, 1 Nephi 17)

"It is a serious thing," says Lewis, "to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whome we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."

--C. S. Lewis, From The Weight of Glory.

Oh friends, thank you for reading my ramblings as I preach to myself this morning.

I feel the negative thoughts that are speed bumps in my life and I just know that exposing them can help me flatten them.  

Life is good.
God is good.
And YOU are better than you know.
We both are!
Let's live up to the power within us and walk in the light together!

December 08, 2015

Thoughts in December

Not the most flattering picture...
I'm laying in bed writing my meal plan so I can go grocery shopping today.

Christmas is swirling in my head and I hear Ben opening the pantry downstairs. He likes to sneak lunch snacks in the morning.

Todd and I thought long and hard about Christmas this year, everything that my kids wanted was screen related.  We decided we are not doing personal laptops, iPhones, tablets, etc. and so, I have been compensating by spending more money than we would normally spend on gifts I'm only hoping they will like.  

I think we're good.
I feel good about Christmas.
I have just a few more gifts to think about... Siblings, parents, neighbors.

I ordered Christmas Cards last night and they won't be delivered until the 18th.  Every year I say I'm going to be better at getting them done earlier, and I'm still here.  Mark my words-- 2016 Christmas Cards will have a before Thanksgiving postage stamp.

We just bought our tree yesterday.  We're late, but still squeezing the most out of this month!  We always cut our own tree, but this year we bought a pre-cut tree from some Christmas Tree and beef-raising friends of ours.  It felt right hunting for a tree in their barn even though it was not traditional.

Another one of my 2016 goals is that I'm going to gather and repeat recipes.  I tend to cook without a recipe or just google recipes.  I want to print and reuse this year.  I need to step up my kitchen game.  

On the top of my meal list, I wrote a fun breakfast idea from my sister in law.  They had cereal when we visited, but put out bags of pecans, walnuts, frozen blueberries, and sugar-free raisins to add to the cereal.  It was delicious and so much healthier.

She also taped her favorite recipes on the inside of her spice cabinet.  Isn't that a good idea?  

I was a crank yesterday.  I hate cranky days.

I fell again on Sunday and hurt my already hurt foot.  My doctor wants me to get an MRI, but my problem is that my foot doesn't hurt most of the time.  I can walk on it, but then I fall at random times.  I should not complain, it's just a stress I wish I didn't have.

Ben and I taped a short segment that will air after Christmas encouraging blood donation for the Red Cross.  I'm feeling more and more comfortable on tv, and that makes me laugh a little.  

Ben was darling and very well-behaved.  He played with two small, plastic dinosaurs on my lap while we taped.  We sat at a glass table that had shiny, silver legs.  Ben laid his head on the table when we first sat down and rubbed it with his hands outstretched and then he saw his breath on the table and licked it.  We left a few face prints for them to clean up.  Ha!

Todd is looking for a new car.  He's picky and we're trying not to go into debt for it.  Three times he has decided on a car and the owners have sold it to someone else before we can pick it up.  As in, Todd was driving to the dealership 6 hours away after calling that morning to say he was coming, and they sell the car 40 minutes before he arrives.  Seriously?!  He thinks he has one this morning that feels right.  We'll see!!  I'm so done with car shopping, Christmas shopping, food shopping...  I'm certain my soul would rather farm, sew, and ride a horse to work.  

Speaking of horses, we almost got the cutest red and white spotted calf.  Our pony has the dog and chickens to keep him company, but the calf would have been great.  Only, the kid selling the steer, didn't pull it from his parent's pasture fast enough and it got sent to auction.  Ugh.  What is it with our luck these days?

I took the younger 6 kiddos with me to my nephew's baptism in CT this weekend and Todd stayed home with the older boys to work in the yard and get a bunch of hay delivered.  I really love that this is our life.
Look at that family!
All gathered to celebrate with THIS cute kid (who reminds me of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbs).
His grandparents even joined by Skype from their mission in Ukraine.  Isn't this cool?!  My sweetest sister in law made my cry as she shared her testimony that day.  Her kids are feisty and she has raised them with sweetness.  I love that family.

I wish everyone in the world could belong to a beautiful, Mormon family.  It is wonderful having such a sense of unity, faith, eternity, and goodness.  I'm so grateful my kids have this goodness and support in their lives.

I can't tell you how much I have loved this book on tape (actually mp3) I checked out from my library.  It's much more positive thinking than traditional Christianity, which is new to me, but I love it.

A Year of Miracles by Marianne Williamson

This is the quote that led me to that book--
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

As I read her book, I feel myself wanting to write a book like it from a Mormon/Mother perspective.  Although I've often thought about writing a book, this is the first time that I have found a book I'd like my book to feel like.  The whole book is almost a prayer.  Not advice, not a doctrinal study, just feelings and perspectives.  I like that.  I love that.  I would love to write a book of Mother's Prayers.  

Gotta run!  It's time for scriptures and I still didn't finish my grocery list.

I've missed you friends.
Happy Tuesday.

December 04, 2015

Sometimes We Fight

In the spirit of all confession, I got into a huge fight with my husband yesterday.  It was ridiculous.  I can't even remember the last time I acted so middle school.  (Can I blame the fact that I live with four teens two of which are in middle school?)

It felt a little fun trying to think of the next zinger, isn't that awful to admit?  My words are powerful, our words are powerful.  I've realized over and over this past week how careful I need to be with my words.  Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will ever hurt thee.

Honestly, I'm ashamed.  He left for work and I even texted him unkind, sassy messages all the way to work.  I was so mad that he walked out on me that I told him that I was also leaving.  I pretended I left Eve and Ben home alone and went for a ride.  It was epic and silly.  So, so dumb.  So counterproductive.  We are one, we are co-captains, when we hurt each other, we hurt ourselves.  I knew this and I kept on doing it.

The odd thing was, my heart wasn't angry.  It was more my mouth than my heart.  I was mad he was cranky so I was trying to one-up him in our fight.  But, I knew I was wrong.  I was more proud, tired, and overwhelmed than angry.  Dumb.

The best thing about me is that I absolutely see my imperfections and I'm quick to apologize.  Todd thinks he's right when we fight.  I know that I'm wrong.  Humility comes natural to me, and yes, I recognize that there is a bit of irony in that prideful assertion.  Do I loose my humility as I acknowledge it?  Ha.  

I vowed never, ever to fight like that again.  Ever.  I think I can do it, because I can't remember the last time I fought like a 13 year old sassy pants.  Perhaps 38 is a good year to grow up and commit to kindness even if it's difficult.  

I told Todd during our argument that I think he needs to get out of my kitchen.  I was being symbolic (too many chefs in the kitchen).  We were not even in the kitchen when I said that.  He took it as me telling him to leave and go to work, so he left.  He thought that was the right thing to do and I thought it was mean.  Really, it was just a dumb fight.

If I'm honest, I depend on him too much.  I think it's remnants from the years I was sick or pregnant.  It's easy to rely on a husband too much when you're married to a really nice guy.  

After he left I realized I need to step up my game.  I was actually excited to step up my game!

This quote echoed through my brain...

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

I had the most beautiful scripture time as I thawed from our fight.  In a somewhat winding lesson from The Lord, I studied the words ACT, DO, YEILD, and WROUGHT. 

2 Nephi 2:16
This really hit me!! I tend to be one who stops with contention. I try to make everything right in my mind before I proceed. This verse taught me that when we are enticed we must CHOOSE and act.  "Man could not act for themselves save it should be that he was enticed by one or the other."
I need to choose and act, not wish I wasn't enticed.

Alma 12:31
Act or be acted upon

1 Nephi 17:50**

50 And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done. 
51 And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship? (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi, 1 Nephi 17)

Look up Wrought in dictionary
Our good works take effort!!  
God's miracles take effort!!

Job 12:9
So powerful!

Psalms 68:28
"Thy God has commanded thy strength: strengthen O God, that which thou hast wrought for us."
So, so beautiful!!

2 Nephi 9:39
Jeremiah 18:2-6
JST James 2:14-22

I did call Todd and I apologized.
He apologized back.
It was fine.  Sad but fine.

I downloaded Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles" on audio from my library and listened to it while I sorted and folded a mountain of laundry!!  It was perfect and inspiring.

Ben sat next to me hiding in towel covered laundry baskets he growled while I folded.  Eve spent the morning at what I like to call our Wild Kratt- Little Einstein's Preschool (watching tv in our basement).

Naptime was glorious!

I had a cleansing conversation with my good friend who I think of as my Catholic Priest.  I confess my sins to her, she laughs and cries with me, tells me to keep praying and keep laundry folding and we agree to talk again in a week.  Back to washing, and washing, and washing and becoming clean.  It works I tell you!  Housework is the perfect penance!

I made a simple pasta dinner for my kids and planned a surprise Christmas Stocking Stuffer Shopping date night with my husband.  (I bribed my kids promising to pay them $1 each for going to bed happily and straightening up the house.)  

Todd and I worked through things in the car on the way to the mall and it felt so good to hold his hand while we shopped together.

I think Todd would tell you that shopping for stocking stuffers is his form of penance.   Ha!

It was one of those days.
Started pretty tough, but ended in grace.
Grace and a slice of delicious Cheesecake Factory pie.  (Why is cheesecake called cake anyway?  It is most definitely pie.)

Life is good even on cranky, laundry filled days.

November 24, 2015

Weariness is Christlike

Recently, I was struck by a verse in the New Testament.  

In John 4, we read about the Samaritan woman who Christ speaks to at the well.  As He speaks to her, He teaches her who He is, acknowledges that she is an adulterous woman, and invites her to drink the water that He has to give.  Water that if men drink, they will never thirst again.

I LOVE the analogy of a spiritual thirst and a spiritual quenching.  I see that thirst in the world today.  I sometimes feel that thirst in myself.  

We find ourselves scrolling through Facebook looking for a quick drink, but our spiritual yearning cannot be quenched by superfluous 'likes' on Facebook.

Do we feel our spiritual thirst quenched as we feast upon the scriptures each day?  Do we drink deeply the water He has to give?

My own daily devotional has become more sweet since I have taken it off my daily 'To Do' list and moved it to my list of favorite treats.  I imagine that as I read or study, I am drinking the hot chocolate of God's word.  I feel eternal truths warming my soul and filling me with God's love.  Somehow, my scripture time had morphed into the same category as my dreaded morning exercise.  I've made a deliberate effort to think of scripture reading as sneaking dessert. And, I feel filled with His grace and His power as I feast.  

In my opinion, we place too much emphasis on works and not enough emphasis on grace.  Works are good, but Grace is everything.  He is ready and waiting to pour His light and His grace upon us.  Milk without money.  

The lesson above is why I turned to this story in the New Testament, but it isn't what struck me about the verses I read.  Let me share them with you...

6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. 
7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (New Testament, John, John 4)


Jesus was weary.
Jesus sat at the well while his disciples looked for meat.
Jesus asked the Samaritan woman to give him a drink.

Sometimes I feel weary and in my weariness I wonder what I am doing wrong.  Sometimes I hear young mothers or mothers of many, feel that they need medication or wonder if they are depressed because they are weary.  

Can I tell you something?  I believe it is absolutely Christlike to feel tired, concerned, and weary.  When we love others, when we serve others, when we heal others, and especially as we physically create life, the 'virtue goes out of us'.  Our physical bodies get tired when we serve!  That is a mortal limitation that teaches us to rest and prioritize.  Weariness is good.  

I promise you two things.  

First, a selfish life is not as weary, and not as fulfilling as a life of service.  If you spend your days seeking entertainment while trying to 'find' yourself, you may find comfort but you will always be thirsty.   Selfish comfort is not soul quenching.

Second, selfless service is exhausting but satisfying.  Christ promises that as we loose ourselves we will find ourselves.  

Christ rested, He was weary, He was thirsty, He asked His sister for help.  Even as He was offering eternal water to the Samaritan woman, HE WAS THIRSTY.  He was weary.  He took time to rest at the well and because He was resting, He had time to teach.

Spiritual thirst is different from physical thirst.  

Where are you on your journey?
Pay attention to what you are needing.

Sometimes my body is rested but my mind and my soul are racing and hungry.  The drink I need is spiritual.  I find this peace as I read the word of God, as I pray, as I repent, as I set new goals, as I share my testimony with others, as I hear the testimony of others, or as I attend the temple.

Sometimes my physical body is weary.  I find rest as I eat healthy food, drink water, take a nap, and take some quiet time to recharge my nervous system.  Pure, unified, physical intimacy is one of the best ways I have found to help reset my racing emotions.  

President Monson has said,
"To all who so despair, may I offer the assurance found in the psalm “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” 8

Whenever we are inclined to feel burdened down with the blows of life, let us remember that others have passed the same way, have endured, and then have overcome."

I believe in Christ.
I feel His power to cleanse and fortify in my life daily.
I know He is near me as I draw water from the well for my family.

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 
15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. (New Testament, John, John 4)

Give me this water, that I thirst not!
Give me this body, that I can  learn from thirst.
Give me this day, that I may draw water from this well to "Give [him] to drink."

Being weary is Christlike.

I have felt His power the strongest on days and even months when I was the most weary.

Our physical bodies can thirst even as our spirits are immersed in His power.

I know it and today I am grateful for that knowledge.

November 23, 2015

Three days before Thanksgiving

Someday, one of my five daughters will call me three days before Thanksgiving.  She will be at that place I know so well, where dreams and realities crash.  
Perhaps, a broken foot, will have put a quick halt to plans to caulk and touch up the basement walls, or sew the most adorable table cloth for a folding table.
There is a fine line between enjoying a rigourous swim and drowning.  It's the little things (like sassy teenagers or an aching foot) that can just tip the scale and leave you water logged.

I know the weight that is felt when you have a day and a half before 20 people arrive at your home and a list of jobs that would take a non-crippled woman a week to accomplish.

Here's what I'd tell my daughter--

Hang in there!!
Don't let worry and stress add to your burden.
Write a list, and do one thing at a time.

Start with yourself.
Shower, get dressed, eat a healthy breakfast, feast on the scriptures like you're sneaking a piece of pie for breakfast.

Love your little ones.  Everything you do is to serve and celebrate with them.  They don't care if the basement walls aren't perfect, but they will remember the FEELING of your home as you prepare for company.  Let them feel your joy and excitement.

Love your company.  Trust them to love you even if your garage is messy and you forgot to buy evaporated milk.  They are coming to do Thanksgiving with you, they aren't coming to be dazzled by all you did before they came.  

Go through your list and prioritize.  If sewing a table cloth is something you really want to do, then do it!  Just do something, keep moving gently forward.  Remember what Dad always says, every year our holidays are magical.  He never stresses about them and they are always magical!

Really, Thanksgiving is just one big dinner.  And, you are the host of four amazing families who cook dinner every night at their homes.  You'll be fine!!

Those cranky teenagers, they feel your stress.  The best thing you can give your family is a happy mom for the holidays!

Give them an assignment-- let them be in charge of all the pies, figuring out the seating chart for mealtime, making a map of sleeping arrangements, finding videos for our starvation dinner, or put them in charge arranging a kid craft for Thanksgiving day.  Kids love responsibility.

Don't cry if your 4 year old cuts a big chunk of her hair off.  Don't doubt yourself if your older girls complain every single day about caring for the horse they begged you for.  Don't feel overwhelmed if your clean laundry sits for a weekend on the floor of your bedroom because the morning you planned on folding was spent at the hospital.  Honestly, it's ok if you didn't get your Christmas cards mailed before Thanksgiving.  You're just normal and normal is good.  Chicken won't die if their water freezes before you have a chance to set up extension chords and hot water heaters.  

Holidays are FUN.
Without the joy of the season, you are missing something.

This last bit of advice I've really been contemplating.  What would I say if my daughter, who was already overwhelmed, then mentioned she really wanted to pull out some Christmas decorations?!

This is what I think I might say...
Write a list.
Do first things first.
And, go for it!
You might not get your whole house decorated, but a little Christmas greenery and some twinkle lights will make your Thanksgiving festive.  A lofty goal will pull you through that laundry folding quickly.

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday.
I am SO Thankful to have a home where I can welcome friends and family.
I'm Thankful for food and I'm Thankful for health!!!  
A little limp is no big deal.

This year, I know that my mental state IS teaching my children how to host holidays in the years to come.  I hope they learn to be happy and to feel the joy of the season.  

Life is good.

September 01, 2015

Homemaking is the Way

Homemaking is inevitable, foundational, simple, and eternal.  Homemaking is the way we mother, the way we serve others, and the way we become all that we were created to  become.

Homemaking is inevitable.
You can learn to be a skilled homemaker, or you can place homemaking low on your list of priorities, but you cannot escape the fact that we all make our home.  We make our home and then our home makes us.

Our homes are a symbol of our minds.  Don't you love the uniqueness of every home you visit?

I teach my children early that their bed, and eventually their room, is their "home".  It is a reflection of them.  If they choose to keep their bed made and tidy, they will get a better night sleep.  They will want to be in their room if they create a space that soothes their soul.  

My goal as a homemaker is to create a sacred space.  Our homes have a spirit that people can feel.  

I realized that "home" was something you  can create anywhere, as I spent months in the hospital on bed rest, pregnant with my eighth child.  

My hospital room became my home.  

It was more than the fact that I decorated my hospital room with potted plants, family pictures, scented spray, and homemade quilts, although those things helped.  

It actually became funny how often people would stop and almost gasp as they walked in.  They would look around and say how "homey" or "healing" my room felt.  They often commented on the special "aura" they felt.  Many would linger and tell me stories of their families.  I know they felt at home. 

I hope people always feel at home with me.  There is a quote hanging in our home, I gave it framed to my husband on our wedding day.  It says, "A true Mormon home is one in which, if Christ would chance to enter, he would be inclined to linger and to rest.  David O. McKay"

My sister once visited our tiny home where we lived with seven children while my husband got his PhD.  Her compliment has stayed with me, she said "I feel more myself at your house than I have ever felt."  Isn't that beautiful?

I am proud to be a Homemaker, and I know you can create a home wherever you are.

Homemaking is foundational.
Haven't you read so many articles like a recently published article in Deseret News entitled. "I'm a Stay at Home Mother, Not a Housewife" where mothers tout things like "I did not give up a successful career and an identity to be a housewife. I am not a maid. I am not a chef. I am not a laundress. I am a mother."

As we read these witty columns, we smile at their intent.  Yes, we all understand that mothering takes priority over homemaking.  But, I'm not sure everyone understands that being a successful homemaker is THE WAY to become a successful mother.

Successful mothering requires repetitive tasks like cleaning, cooking and laundering.  It is in the act of repeatedly teaching our children the art of order that we teach them to be functional, responsible adults.  Becoming a good steward of our homes is an essential, foundational skill.

As we teach them to brush their teeth, make their bed, put their dirty clothes in the hamper, clear their plate, and pick-up their toys, we are teaching them how to live well.  

If you teach your children to happily help with the dishes, you will have children who will also happily do their homework. 

As you teach your children to make their beds, you are teaching them to obey their mother.  

Teach a child to clean a messy playroom and you have taught a child problem solving, endurance, and self discipline.

We live in a society of sassy, messy kids. There is a correlation.  

Sometimes I smile at the extreme measures parents will take as they worry about their children.  We will ask Oprah and Dr Phil, read every book, send them to expensive preschools, talk to doctors, and spend money on things that I'm not sure money can buy.  When often, the answers are found at home.  

Occupational therapists, special ed teachers, even college professors will tell you that the essential, foundational skills of society are taught in the home.  

Learn to be a skilled homemaker.  Teach your children to care for your home, for their room, and their bodies, and you will have done well.

All you ever really need to know, you can learn from Homemaking.

I could write for days about how the physical environment of our home influences the mental health of our family.  Order and cleanliness begets peace and rest.

Homemaking is the way to mother.  Homemaking is a tool for mothering, perhaps the best tool we have.

Homemaking is simple.
So why is it that we feel a pull?  Why do we sometimes feel that we need to choose to be a good mother OR have an emmaculate home?  Why is it that we sometimes hate pictures of perfect Pottery Barn homes and feel that we are never, ever going to be a successful homemaker? 

I'm not sure.  But, here's my guess.  

Sometimes, in our quest for Homemaking, we forget we are making a home, and we begin Graven-Image Making.  When our home becomes a symbol of our pride, we have gone too far.  When we are more concerned with how our home looks than how our home feels, we are off-track.  The process is often more important than the end result.

I sometimes laugh at the ever so gentle way Jesus Christ addressed Graven-Image makers... 

25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 23)

Yes, the inside is just as important as the outside.

Let us be clean, both in word and in deed.  Home is a place AND a feeling.

Wise homemakers have learned that wealth does not make a home.  We can feel "Home Sweet Home" in a well-cared for apartment, an inspiring classroom, an inviting mansion, and even a hospital room.  

I was once talking to my Mexican-American Sister in Law about some slums we drove past in Detroit.  I commented about the awful poverty we had witnessed.  Her response has stayed with me.  She said, "That is not poverty, that is degradation.  I have seen extreme poverty in Mexico and even with dirt floors, their children looked cared for and their houses were clean."

You do not need wealth to be a skilled Homemaker.

I believe we often feel a gentle, spiritual whisper to put our homes in order, to clean and tidy up.  After that whisper, the barrage of the world rushes in.  The spirit of contention and mammon will shout in our ears that we cannot possibly create a house of order because we don't have enough time, money, or training.  Don't listen to that voice.

I once watched a masterful carpet cleaner transform a carpet I was about to tear up and replace into a rug that looked like new.  His trick was that he used very little soap, and boiling hot water.  Boiling water!  Just yesterday, my 16 year old son recreated this miracle with a carpet cleaning machine we rented from Dollar General and boiling hot water.  Simple.

Honestly, I feel that it is our wealth that makes Homemaking difficult in 2015.  We have too much stuff.

I love that homemaking is simple.  

Homemaking is eternal.
I love that Homemaking is an action verb.  It connotes the idea that making a home is not an event, but an ongoing effort.  Homemaking requires eternal "making".  You can have one loaf of homemade bread.  But, we rarely ever feel that our home is made.  

Homemaking is a process that is eternal and divine.  Just take a drive and look around.  We come from a God that is the ultimate Homemaker.  

In conclusion I want to share with you my two favorite homemaking scriptures.

The first is Psalms 113:9.

9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord. (Old Testament, Psalms, Psalm 113)

I know that God is not only the ultimate Homemaker.  He is also the ultimate maker of Homemakers.  He created us once, and He is making us still.  

Yes!  As we learn to make our homes, we absolutely transform from barren women to joyful mothers of children.  I love that imagery.  I love that expansion, from barren to a joyful mother of children.  (You do not need a functional uterus to experience this expansion.)

Look at all sin in the world, you will find that sin tends to decrease us from joyful expansion to barren selfishness.  

I am so grateful He is making me as I keep house.
Praise ye the Lord!

My second favorite Homemaking scripture is a story from 2 Kings 5.  

Naaman was a rich king with leprosy. But, I like to imagine him as a well-educated wealthy woman with the normal sin and leprosy of the natural man.

The King (or Queen in my story) goes to the prophet Elisha asking him for a life changing miracle.  Naaman was not offered recognition or a quick-fix.  He was told to wash in a very unpopular river instead.

10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. 
11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. 
12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. 
13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? 
14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (Old Testament, 2 Kings, 2 Kings 5)

Don't you feel that?  Don't you feel that as we serve we are becoming pure?  Don't you love the imagery of a King (or Queen) dying with the skin of a Leper who washes in a river that feels so beneath him and as he washes his life is spared.  He becomes as a little child.  From leper to pure as we wash.  It's beautiful.

Oh friends, homemaking is an eternal endeavor.  Our daily choices make our home.

The act of homemaking is inevitable, foundational, simple, and eternal.  I hope we never, ever stop making our homes!

Let us wash, and wash, and wash, and wash, and wash, and wash, and wash, that our flesh may become again like that of a little child and that we may be clean.

Homemaking is godly.

Let us all keep house and expand from barren women to joyful mothers of children!

Homemaking is the way.
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