February 03, 2017

ACT because you LOVE!

Have you heard the saying- "Don't exercise because you HATE your body, exercise because you LOVE it."

I love that.

Acting because we love is powerful!

I believe old Scratch fills our mind with numbing, paralyzing, feelings of self-doubt and GUILT.  Because he knows that acting out of guilt or fear will rob us of the JOY that naturally comes from acting. 

If you fix food that is healthy because you're fat, unhealthy, and sacrificing the REALLY AMAZING UNHEALTHY FOOD you can't have, you probably will feel miserable and guilty the whole time you're ACTING healthy.  

If you choose to eat healthy food because you LOVE colorful nourishment, and because you're WISE enough to know what your body needs, and because you're CREATIVE enough to plan good, delicious food for your body-- you will feel powerful and amazing!!  

This principle applies to almost every aspect of our lives!

Clean, because you LOVE a clean house and don't feel angry or guilty that you haven't cleaned yet or that your house is messy.  Embrace your actions and heighten your motivations, and in doing this you will feel a fullness of joy.

Can you have political conversations with people without feeling angry?  

We know how to really care about issues without being mean, fearful, or angry.
Talk about what you LOVE and VALUE, not what you fear and hate.

Some people mistakingly believe that if you focus on the positive you are giving the darkness more power.
I don't agree.
I believe you give darkness power when you feel contentious, angry, afraid, or tense.
I believe that anyone who acts in love will feel bright, free, powerful, happy, and joyful!  

I am not the coach that motivates his team with threats and demeaning slurs.
But I am the mother that looks right into the eyes of a child scared to jump off a diving board as I say-- "YOU CAN DO THIS!!  Keep trying!  You are not a wimp because you're scared.  You're brave because you jump anyway!"

When you are watching your child learn to tie their shoes you tell them they are doing a great job!  Because they're trying!  Can you imagine a mom leaning over her child whispering, "How old are you?  You still haven't figured this out?  Geesh, that loop is too long.  Everyone else figured this out so much faster than you did."  No!  This child would hate shoe tying, hate herself, and hate her mother.

What if you went to tuck your child into bed at night and every night told them everything that you saw in them that was wrong.  You would be wrong and hurtful. Your child would be paralyzed.
Protect your children.
Protect yourself!

It does not threaten our religious liberty to allow others to choose a different way of life.  And, we can live our religion without pointing out to everyone how different we are from them.  

We can ACT differently even as we LOVE.

Was it Elder Ballard that used to drink milk at executive socials?  He drank milk, because he wanted to!  He didn't argue with every liqueur drinking associate.  He didn't hold up a poster of a child with FASD or feel defensive every time someone mentioned his drink was different.

Today I want to be a mother who is better at discerning LOVE and HATE.  I am going to guard my own thoughts better.

Can't you see what I'm seeing?
We need to fiercely defend against the flaxen chords that are weaving themselves into our thoughts and our words.

Place cherubim and a flaming sword to guard your mind and your mouth!  

Be filled with VIRTUE and feel power in acting even as we are all still becoming.

We can do this!!!

ACT with power.  
Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself.
Onward Mother Soldiers!  💗💗

March Because You Love!

I'm still marching through my thoughts these days.  

This was a Facebook post I wrote last week:

I have been very vocal lately in my support of the Women's March and my concern with Trump's refugee policy.  Is this hypocritical of me- a Pro Life Conservative?  I just don't see the world as polarized as most people do.  I'm very moderate.  I see good virtues in both parties and I feel great danger in the constant fight between us.  

When you honestly feel that your views are RIGHT and another large group of people are WRONG then you start shouting at each other and stop listening to each other.  

I hear a lot of people who want more goodness in the world and a lot of people who are really angry at the evil in the world.  I don't think we have to fight.  

Is killing too many black children less wrong than killing too many cops?  No.  They are both wrong and there is a solution that is right and will save lives on both sides.  

Do we have to make abortion illegal to save lives and promote life?  No.  We can preach morality, ethics, birth control, respect for life even if women keep the choice.  

Let's try to get more women to choose life and I'm pretty sure half the people we've been fighting would fight with us!  

Can we legitimize people even if we don't embrace their lifestyle choices?  Yes!  Of course we can.  

I have no problem teaching my children that smoking is not healthy even as I teach them that smokers should be able to order wedding cakes, pee in the stall next to me, come to my home as beloved friends and family, and act as my teacher and mentor in so many ways.  

We CAN absolutely legitimize and believe that people who live lives different from our own ideal life deserve safety, respect, and protection under the law.  

I believe that people are good.  I believe that we are more alike then we are different.  I'm not deceived, I'm charitable.  

I'm not a Democrat but if I have to choose to be liberal with my pride or liberal with my love-- I will choose to be liberal with my love.  Charity never faileth.

January 23, 2017

Mormon Women March

I woke up yesterday morning and the strength of womanhood pulsed through my soul.  In truth, as a caring conservative Mormon woman I was wracked with conflict.  I yearned to March with Women everywhere and I worried that I was wrong for what I was feeling.

At home with 4 of my 8 children exercising my body and soul through Saturday morning chores, my mind was envisioning millions of women across the world marching together for love, unity, and kindness.  I wanted to feel what that Women's March would feel like!  My soul felt so tired of standing apart and I just yearned to march forward together.  

I wanted my five daughters to know that we can be different from the world and still be unified with our sisters in the world.

I wanted to shout to all who would listen, "They that are with us are MORE than they that are against us."

The motto "Charity NEVER Faileth" echoed with strength and power through my mind and I finished our laundry with determination and precision.

As I was tidying rooms I glanced one of my daughter's Young Women necklaces laying on a nightstand and I put it on.  I knew that my symbol of power that day would not come from the hat that I wore but from the power of virtues that I held high, virtue that I embodied, and virtue that would light the way as I marched forward into an unknown future.

And, at that moment I KNEW that my desire to March with my sisters was not wrong- it was foreordained.  

My friends and neighbors marched together in nearby towns and around the world.  They were showing support for their gay brothers, their Palestinian mothers, the dignity of women, their fear of tyranny and oppression.  And, my heart marched beside them even when I wasn't completely with them. 

I found myself sweeping up stray Legos while chanting "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" and "Neither do I condemn thee," over and over in my mind.

While so many I know felt called upon to highlight how we are different from the world, I knew that every fiber of being was shouting how I am the same.

We come from the same eternal Father and Heavenly Mother.
Our hearts yearn for charity, compassion, and love.
We are all MOTHERS who love our children and His children.

We can stand for truth and righteousness all the days of our lives AND we can join with our sisters to march forward in unity, seeking peace, seeking love, recognizing our power, and responding to the clarion call that was issued in premortal realms.  Daughters, you were born to lead and to govern.  Arise and shine forth!

I learned a lesson years ago as a mother. One of my children was fighting and contentious.  His Spirit was angry and his words were harsh.  My initial response was to call him out, push him away, send him to his room, and feel self-righteous in labeling the wrong within him.  In that moment, I was taught by Heaven.  I knew that I could not fight anger with my own "righteous anger".  I looked at this child and saw my son, who I loved, in his own personal struggle.  I recognized my struggle at that very moment was not so different from his.  

Instead of moving away from him, I moved closer, lovingly touching his arm.  In my own mind, I powerfully cast hate and anger out and I willed my heart to swell with my greatest most powerful love.  

In that moment I absolutely felt our ability to recognize sin separate from soul and I felt the command to LOVE more.  I knew that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (New Testament, Ephesians 6:12)."  

"But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. (New Testament, Luke 15:20)."

"And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. (New Testament, Luke 15:2)."  And even as we read this scripture we might miss the fact that it is not showing Christ's mercy, it is showing our own pharisitical blindness and pride.  EVERY single meal he ate was with sinners because we all are.  He TOUCHED the lepers.  He healed them and he loved them.  THEY are not the lepers- WE are.  WE are not marching with THEM.  HE marches with US.  

My soul naturally swells with compassion, mercy, charity, and hope.  I am grateful that my husband has a nature that guards, protects, and warns against danger.  I feel great safety in his care even as my natural tendencies are so different.  To deny the nurturing, loving, embracing part of my soul is to deny my very womanhood and my greatest strength.

Today, I will raise my torch high!  
Today, my voice will sing His praise.  
I will stand and I will MARCH with my family, with my mothers, with my sisters, with my brothers.  
I'm not always sure where I will march forth or how I will march forth but I do know why.
I will MARCH because my soul knows that LOVE NEVER FAILS.  NEVER!

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (New Testament, John 13:34-35)."

Marching forward I can SEE mists of darkness all around us.  There is great confusion, deception, and danger on the right-hand and on the left.  

We CAN press forward, united, as we hold tightly to the word of God and look towards the light, the great tree of life, symbolic of the LOVE of God.  We do not need to stand alone, and we do not need to be ashamed.   We can only be with our families for eternity if we gather in His Love.  

We are not fighting our family or even standing against our sisters.  We are pressing forward TOGETHER towards love, through darkness.  We are on the same team, and because we have  a torch we must lead the way.

Oh women of God, shall we not go forth in so great a cause?  

My mother taught me a great lesson.  Trust your gut.  
Listen, learn, hold to the rod, and then go forth with faith!
March on!  

We are filled with the love of God and we will feel His power pushing us to love and serve His children.  We don't need to suppress our generous thoughts, feel ashamed by our compassion, or shy away from mercy.  We can know truth and love freely.

Mormon women, we CAN, we SHOULD, and we ARE marching forward with our sisters.  We are doing this everyday by how we talk, how we act, and how we serve.  HOLD tightly to truth!  Press forward through mists WITH your families, neighbors, and friends.

We can hold our heads high, raise our torches, and let the love in our hearts pour into our homes, our streets, our neighborhoods, and our world!

Charity Never Faileth! 

January 11, 2017

What Shall We Give in Return for so Much?

Jakob was ordained as the First Assistant in his Priest Quorum on Sunday.

I am ALIVE and healthy!  I can walk and my bladder and bowels function!  I can cross country ski!! 

I know God.  He speaks to me, cleanses me, comforts me, and strengthens me.

I am married to my best friend.  He loves me.  We have created 8 fabulous children together.

We are so blessed with a loving, generous, supportive extended family.  Having moved many times throughout our marriage, our life is so full of good friends and examples.

I feel blessed to live here in the United States of America!  I love this beautiful land!  I love our democracy and our freedoms.  

A man I love, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, gave a talk, "The Great the Plan of Our God!"  In it he said, 

"Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland. While there, I noticed the Belfast Coat of Arms, which includes the motto “Pro tanto quid retribuamus,” or “What shall we give in return for so much?""

As I read these words today I felt that question echo in my soul.

Pro tango quid retribuamus.
What shall we give in return for so much?

And so, I'll tell you.

I will give him my CONFIDENCE.
My Heavenly Father has never let me down before and I will trust Him forever.

I will REMEMBER the miracles I've seen and the lessons I've learned.
No matter how large and daunting the trial in front of me appears, I will remember the mountains I have already climbed.  I will remember that after every hard thing I have endured I have felt the price I had to pay was worth the person I became.  

I will choose GRATITUDE over fear.
Looking for His presence instead of worrying IF He'll be there.

I will WALK ON.  When my ability to do seems insignificant when compared with my desire to do, I will just continue onward.  One step at a time.  I will pour my last drop of water and watch for His wine. 

I will give him my WORDS.  Even when my heart is heavy and my soul is tired, I will give thanks, testify, worship, pray, and forgive.

I will SHARE my blessings, I will LOVE Him and love His children,  I will WAIT PATIENTLY for His continued mercy.

I've been a bratty teenager lately.
I see it now.
I'm fighting with my best friend.

I've been telling God that He asks too much of me instead of telling Him how grateful I am for all He has given me.  

As a woman blessed with GREAT faith, I can tell you something I know.
Faith is a CHOICE.
Feelings follow focus.
If you focus on how blessed you are, you will FEEL blessed.
If you focus the hard things in life, life will feel harder.
If you trust God loves you, know He is guiding you, and look for His tender mercies in your life- you will see them.
If you cuss, pout, and give up, you will feel forlorn and abandoned.  
Let's choose faith together!

In return for SO MUCH, let's give him our heart.
Oh, the Lord is good to me.
Life is good.

January 07, 2017

Bust the Move 2017!

Ok- I'm READY.

If I felt that I lost my "give a damn" last year, I found it again this year.  

I'm turning 40 and as we used to say in the good ol' days, it's time to bust the move.

One thing I've realized lately is-- exercise needs to be social for me.  I'm lonely living out here in the country.  I'm also not athletic, I'm competitive and completely out of shape.

The best I've ever done with exercise was when Todd and I joined a gym together in Texas.  We exercised every morning before we woke the kids up.  The gym was only a few minutes from my house.  We did fitness for life intervals- 3 days of interval running and 2 days of weights.  It was scheduled and I was always trying to show Todd how tough I am, so I got into shape quickly.  My other favorite was working out with a personal trainer.

Todd exercises up at his school gym now, for free.  There is a local gym here, but I don't want to go by myself.  I have friends in town who 1) exercise beach body at home, 2) go twice a week to a dance/aerobics class, or 3) go to an early morning kick-butt workout class.  There is also a local yoga class or a larger YMCA gym with daycare that is 20 minutes away.  Because it's beautiful here, I keep telling myself that just going outside everyday is the answer.  But, it's cold and snowy and lonely outside.  I'm pretty much a complete extrovert!  I tend to be casual friends with a lot of people instead of really choosing my tribe.

I'm also scared of my body.  It's hard to push yourself when you're afraid of dying.  It's time to let go of that!  

I need to find my groove- this year!
(I'm going cross-country skiing for the second time this week with a group of friends.  That's a start!)

I feel so flighty lately with my scripture study.  I read inspirational talks one day, plan my Sunday School lesson the next, read actual scriptures the next.  I'm tired of being flighty.  I started a Book of Mormon commentary and I'm going to read it EVERY morning, first.  If I read something else that day, it's bonus.  I need some consistency.  I'm also going to kneel and pray every morning and night.  No excuses, no laziness, no pray on the go.

I'm studying right now for the GRE and applying to Grad School for School Psychology.  I have no idea if I'll get accepted, I only know I really want to try.  It feels SO good to study for the GRE.  It feels like my brain is waking up after a 20 year snooze.  When I tried to do a sample test a few weeks ago, I couldn't even do ONE problem on the quantitative side.  Not one!  My teenage kids are helping me study and it's been painful and fun!  We have laughed more together over math questions this month than any other thing.  And, lest I deceive you, the qualitative vocabulary questions are equally ridiculous.  Honestly.  They use words nobody has ever heard of (like HEGEMONY).  

As a side note: studying for the GRE has not been good for my marriage.  Because nobody knows what HEGEMONY means except the Professor.  He knows everything and it's really annoying.  He also is a more impatient teacher than one would expect from a professor.  His quick explanations are harder for me to understand than the questions themselves.  So, YouTube, Anna, Jakob, and Drew are my preferred tutors.  

Todd traded me chores for finances.  Ha! He actually begged me to takeover finances promising he'd plan and cook all the meals, clean the bathrooms, and do the laundry if I would do the money.  I decided if he would plan and execute family chores I would call it a fair trade.

And, I LIKE doing the money.  I've always been frugal and I love seeing how much we can save.  I'm a severe realist compared to Todd's optimism and I have no problem saying "We can't afford that."  

We honestly should have made this trade years ago, but I had a really hard time with the idea of doing the finances when I am married to a business professor.  

This year, I want to really, really live within our means with padding!  I want savings I top of a padded budget.  Which means if our car breaks, I don't want to use savings to pay for it.  I want a CAR BUDGET in addition to savings.  I want our savings to just go up, not up and down.  And, because I'm allocating our money more specifically, we won't look in our checking account in January and think we have extra and look again in December and not have enough.  I'm trying to plan better.  That's my goal.  

We also paid off our van and our credit card.  I hope we never have another credit card balance or car payment.  Ever. 

There are so many things that I want to do with my kids that I never do because I'm always doing things that I need to do with them.  I'm so sick of that!  I don't want my interaction with my family to constantly be about putting away their laundry and picking up their backpack!  

I want more mom-dates this year.  My kids are really fun and so am I-- we need more positive, bonding, joyful time together!  I don't want to watch them play sports, I want to play with them.  I don't want to just hear about some fun thing they did while I'm washing dishes, I want to live life with them.  I'm tired of running to the store for them when they're at school, I'm going to wait and take them with me more.

We brought Anna on our date night last night and it was really fun.  We need to do that often!

2017-- I'm ready for you!
Let's do this. 

January 01, 2017

2016 Favorite Things

Just thought I'd take a few minutes to share some of my 2016 favorite things!

Favorite Home Improvement--
My dad has been painting my house from cream to white over the past year and it has changed my life!  Benjamin Moore- White Dove is my love language.  I am perfectly happy even if I never get white woodwork or white cabinets because this white wall paint is a beautiful contrast to my wood.

The girls got some color on their walls, but white is my favorite!  

Favorite Make-Up--
I am simple with cosmetics.  This NYX butter gloss is one of the few make-up items that I have ever used completely up and bought a replacement for.  This is the lipgloss I transfer from my drawer to my purse.  I love it.  Loreal mascara has my favorite wand and texture.  

Favorite Christmas Present--
We bought Creative QT Peel & Stick Baseplates for Christmas and just stuck them onto 4 pieces of wood we already had.  These have become the best for our four Lego lovers to play together on the floor and then save their creations on a shelf.  (We also have plastic storage containers.) 

Favorite Picture Spots--
I have a few.  I love taking a picture of my backyard (see above) during every different season.  I also LOVE a first day of school line-up out front (see below).
I love shoe pictures of big groups.
I love our temple touching pictures.

And, I love our traditional "out to ice cream" pictures.
Every picture I took this year was on my iPhone.  Someday I might regret this.

Favorite Nature Collection--
We found FOUR of the most adorable bird's nests this year.  I just know that they are probably covered with germs but I love them so much.  Right now, they are on the top of a bookshelf in my living room.  I'm not sure I can keep them.

Favorite Trip--
With my brother to BYU Education Week.  Oh, going to Education Week just fills my soul!
Second favorite-- the American Mother's Convention with some of my favorite mothers
And third favorite trip was spending the week in Nauvoo with my Sister in Law and lots of kids!

Favorite Upgrade--
I've never used nice perfume before.  But this year I have loved upgrading to Coach with Chanel Chance on my 2017 Wish List.  Smelling this perfume lifts my spirits.

Favorite Drink-
Ever since Todd and I took a dreamy trip to Germany, France, and Switzerland, I have been buying myself San Pellegrino.  I love it.  It's healthy and it makes me feel fancy as I'm folding laundry.  I even like that most people don't like it, so I'm certain it stays in the pantry longer.

Favorite Book--
Jon Klassen's This is Not My Hat book had me laughing for days.  I made everybody read it.  It's classic and funny and my favorite.

I also really, really needed the mental boost that I've felt studying for the GRE.  My kids are very smart, and very independent.  I haven't studied math since college or maybe even high school. It's been so fun having my teenagers teach me concepts buried under 20 years of child-rearing!

The McConkie commentary has been a new way for me to study scriptures in the morning.  I've needed a fresh perspective.  

I also appreciated the new perspectives from Christ's Emancipation of Women in the New Testament by the adorable Lynne Hilton Wilson.  Alonzo Gaskill's Miracles of the New Testament is great and I read Seven Miracles that saved America by the Stewarts, to my family.  It often brought tears to my eyes even though the non-fiction narrator is a bit annoying at times.  

Favorite Planner--
Haha!  What a messy, real-life picture.  I took over the finances this winter and I have come to love GRAPH paper.  I know.  Simple and silly in this digital age, but I really needed to see you what I'm dealing with.  I can feed our family of 10 comfortably and healthy for $1000 per month (this includes food and household expenses) and I think that's pretty good.  We should be millionaires in no time!

Favorite Mom Activity--
Mom Dates are my favorite.  Topping the list this year was a Christmas-Week date with my teenager.  She came VERY close to getting nothing but coal for Christmas based on some serious sassiness.  I picked her up early from school and told her that I had made an appointment for us to see a therapist.  She was so mad at me until I pulled out silly glasses and began acting like a therapist.  (Note- I actually love real therapists but this afternoon I felt we needed TIME more than therapy.)  We talked and ended up at a salon where she got her nails done.  It wasn't the nails, it was the talking, laughing, and surprise that changed things.  This small date REALLY changed our home.  I need more mom dates in my life!  My 2017 goal is one mom date every month with every child and Todd.  If I add temple dates, thats two date per week.

Favorite Food--
Pioneer Women's Cinnamon Rolls played a big role in our life this year.  Which I find quite ironic because I met and fell in love with Ree's mother this year.  I think of them both everytime I roll out this decadence.

I also fell in love with the perfect pie crust.  It tastes good and is as easy to make as playdoh.  We have made some fun pies with this recipe!
Pie Crust from Sister Kerr
makes 2 single crusts or 1 double

1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup butter Crisco
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour

Add 1/2 cup boiling water to 1 cup butter Crisco shortening and stir until melted or close to it.
Add 1 tsp salt and 3 cups flour and mix until it feels like playdoh.
Let it sit in a ball for a few minutes, break it in half, and roll out.
You should have extra to decorate the top with.
(Note: if you're going to double this recipe, make two batches.  Add one cup boiling water to two different bowls of Crisco.  It mixes better that way.)

Favorite Artist--
I love Kim Youngsung.  This picture is "I shall Not Want" and it speaks my love language.

Favorite Shirt--
I really loved having matching shirts for our family reunion.  I hope we do this every year.

Favorite Pants-- (pictured inside out)
By far, I found my favorite pair of black pants.  I honestly wear them 3 out of 7 days per week.  They are from Old Navy and my tag says OPP Leggings Black Jack.  I love them because they are comfortable like leggings but are more modest like pants.  My honest opinion is that leggings only look cute on children under age 10.  These pants have a 3 inch elastic waist.  They are thicker material and I got a size large so they are not cellulite-tight.  I can't find them online but I find them in the store by the exercise pants.

Favorite Idea--
I really wanted my kids to have voice lessons this year, but we couldn't afford them.  So, we found the most amazing teacher who barters with us.  Anna, Ellie, Jakob, and I clean her house each week in exchange for lessons.  It was humbling at first, but is honestly my favorite thing.  My kids actually work to earn a privilege and it's fun to work with them.  I also love serving someone who is serving my family.  

Favorite System--
Laundry became a rythmn in our home when I made a few simple changes this year.  1- I gave my six youngest a designated spot in my laundry room cupboard.  2- I decided I was not allowed to take clothes out of the drier without folding them.  So, I cannot start a new load without one load folded.  If you don't have time now to fold one you won't have time later to fold two.  Trust me.  3- I removed all laundry baskets from closets leaving only one 3 sectioned laundry sorter in the hallway.  4- I occasionally give candy inside empty laundry baskets (mainly when they are all emptied except for one or two).  
Favorite Christmas Tradition--
We had two new traditions this year that I loved and feel we will continue.
First- all the kids wrote 2 reasons they love their Great Grandmother GG on $2 bills and mailed them to her.
We also did the 25 days of Christ Advent as our morning scripture time in December (along with a Lego Advent and #lighttheworld).  It was really lovely.  I'm excited to do this for years to come.

I could probably go on and on about my favorites, but my time is up.  

Here's to a 2017 full of many more!! 

December 21, 2016

Some Thoughts on Sunday

I taught Sunday School to 8 pre-mission young men from very varied backgrounds.  It was a Christmas lesson.  As we were talking about the Savior, we began talking about repentance and I told them that when I was younger, I thought the goal was to live in such a way that you didn't have to repent.  That the more righteous you were the less you would need to repent.  Then, I heard myself compare repentance to showering.  I asked this group of teenage boys what it would be like if we really tried hard every day not to get dirty?  If we only showered once a week, or once a month, or when we fell in a mud hole?  They laughed.  We have to shower daily because we are natural man and we are designed to stink a bit.  Repentance, like personal hygiene, is a gift.  Thankfully!!

The Spirit was so strong as we talked about the Savior.  I learned and I know they felt the Savior's love.  Just a small example at the grace that so fully he proffers me.  Not only does He forgive me when I sin or doubt or cuss, but he still stands with me filling me with his love and so many witnesses that He is near.  

I'm somewhat bothered when people say things like the Holy Ghost goes to bed at midnight or even that we can't have the Spirit when we're sinning.  I just don't agree.  I think the Holy Ghost is standing guard on high alert when it's midnight.  I think His still small voice becomes a little louder and a little more assuring, warning, and encouraging when we're sinning.  He never leaves us and we can not leave Him.   

My Sunday was busy, and humorously full as you can imagine.  My heart is way bigger than my ability to serve.  

The Messiah sing-along was lovely.  Sitting with my 5 youngest, it was somewhat like a silent but very physical exercise session.  Exerting all my kindness, wisdom, patience, and creativity we made it through to the Hallelujah chorus.  Hallelujah!  My 3 year old found the perfect pauses in the music to blow raspberries, clap, shout hallelujah, and ask "Now is it time for snacks?"  My younger self would have been embarrassed, but I wasn't.  I could feel the loving glances of the sweet people around me.  They really love our family and at least most of them were more happy to see children at an event like this than they were bothered by our realness.  At least I hope so.  

When I was in the hospital, I was surprised that I didn't just know God was blessing me.  I felt abandoned and alone.  I felt scared.  I felt angry.  I felt like my life was harder than everyone else's.  I felt all those things and could have cursed God and died.  But, I also knew that I could CHOOSE faith.  I could choose to testify of God's love, choose to look for his miracles, choose to see the stories around me of many who struggled right beside me.  As I chose what I focused on, I felt Heaven pouring out miracles.  

Choosing to be faithful in the normal day to day of my life is just as difficult and just as rewarding.  I'm again surprised that faith isn't just something I have-- I have both faith and doubt.  Faith is something I choose.  I know Joseph Smith said faith and doubt cannot exist in the same person at the same time.  Christ said you can't serve both God and mammon.  I just think they are talking about choices not feelings.  Because you (or at least I) CAN feel both forces pulling, we just can't walk both directions at the same time.  I used to think faith and doubt were so far apart, but they don't feel that far apart the older I get.  

I never doubt God.  I do doubt my own ability to serve and endure.  I love CS Lewis--

"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."

Letters of C. S. Lewis (29 April 1959), para. 1, p. 285 — as reported in The Quotable Lewis (1989), p. 469

I also loved this quote by Thomas Jefferson, "Do you not think an Angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this Storm?"

Three quotes stood out to me from our family scripture time this morning-- the Garden of Gethsemane.

Christ says to his Father, "All things are possible unto thee.  Nevertheless if thou be willing let this cup pass from my lips."  Faith and pleading.  I need to do that more.  

I might not be able to watch one hour.  I might cut off an ear.  And, He loves me still.

And oh, those words to feisty Peter-- "That cup that my father hath given me to drink- shall I not drink it?"

I can drink my cup.

I know my early morning thoughts are a bit long and a bit odd.  I think my soul just gets jumbled up if I don't take the time to pour it out sometimes.  

Thank you for listening.

I see my own weakness and it makes his miracles in my life even more miraculous.

Last CS Lewis quote~
"The miracles in fact are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see."
God in the Dock, "Miracles" (1942)

Merry Christmas!
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