June 30, 2015

Real Love, True Gender, and Eternal Marriage.

We live in a day and age when people are confused.  We have wolves who look like sheep and sheep who look like wolves.  We have redefined words so that they have lost their meaning.  And, we are misdiagnosing illness; prescribing antibiotics for broken legs and refusing to pull out splinters from within obviously festering wounds.  

Today I see clearly three misperceptions.
First-- What is love?
Second-- What is gender? 
Third--What is marriage?

I submit to you that our souls are divinely designed to love many people, that gender is an essential part of our premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose, and that marriage is a God ordained license to create life.

We can change the names for these concepts, but we cannot redefine these principles for they are eternal.

What is love?

Two years ago this month, I woke up in Trauma ICU.  I was close to death after giving birth to a high-risk miracle baby, and I felt my husband helping me hold on to life.  Nurses would tell me later that when he was in the room all of my physical indicators would improve.  My body responded to his presence even when I was not aware.  Enduring physical trials strengthened our love, but it was there before.

My husband is someone I love with all of my heart.  He is the man I chose to father the children I would bring into this world. He is not the only person that I love, he is one of many.  My husband is the only person I choose to be sexually intimate with.  Our choice to be one financially, spiritually, and sexually causes us to carve out a relationship that is deeper and more lasting.  

Our commitment and the eternal covenants we have made to raising a family together sets our relationship apart from any other.  I choose to spend more TIME and EFFORT nurturing my relationship with my husband and children than I do with any other relationship.  That time and effort sets our relationship apart.  My love for my family is deeper, but not different from other love.  Love is love.  That feeling is not a result of an instinctual sexual urge.  Love is a bi-product of time and effort.

I have many men and women that I love, REALLY love.  Honestly, my female best friends are often easier for me to talk to about my life.  There are people in the world who are physically HOTTER than my husband.  I love so many funny, good, kind men.  I love my brothers and sisters in-law, and I love their children like my own.  We can and should LOVE many people.  We just shouldn't have sex with all of them.

I believe in the Biblical standard, a law of chastity.  This law of chastity is clear: sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. 

I DO NOT think that this means that God is asking unmarried people to live a life without love.

Those who are unmarried, disabled, plagued with same-sex attraction to the point that they feel they could never marry a member of the opposite sex, those who are young, those who are widowed or divorced...  There are MANY people who are unmarried.  It is RIDICULOUS to assume that abstinence means they do not have access to LOVE.  

Nobody on Earth should live a life without love.  We should LOVE single people more.  We should touch them and hug them and include them.  Nobody can live without LOVE and CONNECTION.  But, you CAN live without SEX.

Please, please do not teach your children or our society that they need sex to feel loved.  Equating sex to love limits our ability to love, it does not expand it.

You can love many people in life.  You love those you serve, you love those that God blesses you to really SEE.  Love is more than a feeling, it is a connection.  

I know with my whole soul that love always wins.  God is love.  Charity, the pure love of Christ, never faileth.  Every human being will connect to this truth because the idea that #LOVEWINS is probably the most eternal of any truth we could proclaim.  


Love is NOT pornographic sex.  In fact, sexual immorality coats your heart, your spirit, and even changes your physical ability to love.  Sexual immorality makes it harder for you to love others and makes it almost impossible for you to feel the love that others have for you.

We see so many in our lands today who are hungry and thirsty, floating on lonely rafts in the middle of a sea of people.  They are thirsty for love, family, and acceptance.  Sexual immorality in all it's varieties is like drinking salt water when you are dehydrated.  Salt water actually sucks the water from your cells and you are left even more thirsty.  Sexual immorality, like salt water, CANNOT quench unless it endures a process of reverse osmosis to make it PURE.  Only pure water, or virtuous love, quenches our internal thirst.

Repentance is the reverse osmosis that takes away sexual immorality and sin.  Repentance is a gift to all that seek it.  Repentance is powerful and transforming.  Repentance helps you to remove the barrier you have built to God's love so that you can feel your eternal worth and His unconditional, transforming, eternal LOVE for you.  His love heals.  Only His holy, pure water will quench our eternal thirst for love.

Specifically teaching a woman who was living an immoral, promiscuous life, Jesus Christ taught this same lesson--

13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 
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. 
16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 
17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 
18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.  
(New Testament, John, John 4)

What is Gender?

Oh, gender.  Can anything more simple become any more confusing?  Men have sperm, women have eggs.  Together, they create babies.  

I believe our gender goes deeper than our physical appearance, and I believe that gender is eternal.  I think we should spend our lives asking ourselves who we are and how our gender affects our eternal destiny.  We all know a true man and a true woman when we meet them.

Many influences affect how we act, how we think, what we feel, and what we look like.  Genetics play a part, our family upbringing plays a part, physical and mental disabilities play a part, our friends influence us, the things we watch, read, or listen to affect us, and let us not ignore the influence of spirits unseen.

I absolutely believe in angels, and I also believe in evil influences.  If a man says he has a female spirit inside his body, my tendency is to believe him.  I think immorality opens us up to becoming "possessed" by evil spirits who can be either male or female.  We can cast these spirits out or we can give them power over our physical bodies.  Evil spirits do not have bodies and they want ours.  Read the Bible, this should not be a surprise to any of us.

In a small way, we are all fighting to be "who we really are" versus the influences for good and evil that surround us.  Our gender does not change, but our thoughts can change.  We have power to change our appetites, desires, and cravings. 

What does it mean to be a woman?  

In today's day and age men and women are quite androgynous.  I would venture to suggest that the ability to grow a child within our womb is the single most defining physical characteristic of a female body.  And, no amount of plastic surgery can ever give males this holiest of all capabilities.

This brings me to my last question-- what is marriage?

I know that marriage just recently got re-defined.  I am not politically or legally savvy enough to argue with the linguistics or legislative ramifications of the recent SCOTUS decision.  Many have done this much better than I.  

I want to talk about a concept of marriage that is different from a legal definition of two (or more) committed adults who choose to connect financially, physically, or legally.
I want to talk about making babies.  

There is a truth irrevocably decreed in Heaven, that no man or judge can change, and it is this...

ONE EGG from a female body, and ONE SPERM from a male body are needed to create a human baby.  

There are many variations of what can happen as eggs and sperm connect-- but no human life can be created without the raw material given from a biological male and female. 

You're welcome if I just gave you your first sex education lesson.

MEN AND WOMEN-- we are accountable for our SEED!!

God has shared with men and women the divine, sacred, and HOLY possibility to MAKE A HUMAN BEING.  This is a GREAT responsibility that we simply do not talk about enough.

I would define "marriage" as the great respect, authority, and even divine approval that every man and woman should seek prior to creating LIFE.   "Marriage" by my definition, is the license that we seek prior to driving our sexual urges in such a manner that we can create a life.

In this world, we cannot drive a car without taking a course, having some time with a learners permit, signing official papers, taking a test, getting a laminated license that we are safe to do it.  

And yet, we hand out colored condoms to 7th graders and let them play with the greatest power that man and women will ever have.  We let pornography teach our children what sex should look like.  

We can do so much better than this.  

Creating life is SERIOUS and POWERFUL and it has eternal consequences and stewardships.

It is SO EASY for us to fight about peripheral and polarizing topics related to creating humans. 

But, we rarely discuss the need for INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY or, the responsibility of society to help those who have created life irresponsibly to provide for and nurture that life.

It is EASY to fight about abortion.
"Abortion is evil"  versus "Abortion is a women's right".

Do you know what slapped me in the face?

Reading a statistic in, I think it was Malcom Gladwell's book The Tipping Point, that said about 18 years after abortion was legal, there was a significant drop in crime in this country?

Because the mothers who were choosing to abort their babies might just be mothers who were not able to give those children the kind of nurturing, healthy, happy lives they deserve.  The babies aborted were babies whose mother's knew they would be unable to properly care for.

It is EASY to fight about abortion.  It is HARD to talk about how we can help pregnant young mothers.  It is HARD to talk about how we can help children born unwanted or inconveniently timed.  It is HARD to talk about how we can heal broken families.  

It is even EASY to fight over the legal definition of marriage.  
Blaming the decline of our nation on the legalization of same-sex marriage is EASY.

But, as I read The Family: A Proclamation to the World, I see some very clear and interesting language.  Men that I sustain as prophets and apostles on the Earth today have testified that, 

THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. ...

WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

I find it interesting that this last paragraph does NOT blame national legislature for the disintegration of the family.  Instead, it is INDIVIDUALS who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities that will one day stand accountable before God. 

National legislature is a RESULT of a crumbling nations.  I would dare to suggest that only HETEROSEXUAL sex CAN create the babies that are not being cared for.  

Individual irresponsibility has caused our families to disintegrate and only individual responsibility can heal families.

Oh, I believe in MARRIAGE or whatever you call it.  I believe that WE MUST BE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR SPERM AND OUR EGGS.  We must be careful as we make babies and we must help care for the babies that irresponsible, immature, or unhealthy parents have already made.  

Yes, I care about abandoned dogs.  
But, come on people!!  We need to work together to save our children.  

Maybe, gay people are the problem here.  Maybe homosexuality really is the worst evil on the earth at this time.  I simply don't think so.  I think homosexuality is one of life's trials.  I think immorality is sin.  But, I think parental irresponsibility is a greater sin.  

We need MARRIAGE to keep us deliberate and wise as we create life.  We must be wise with our greatest power- procreation.

I would not have voted to legalize same-sex marriage, but I do think there needs to be legislation that protects unions.  I think we need to HELP non-traditional families more.  We need to embrace them not ostracize them.  If we do not, if we create leper colonies within our churches and our homes, then we will be a part of the problem and not a part of the cure.  We will find our children in these colonies.  We must love more.  Christ did.  He was there, he touched those society had deemed dead, unclean, and incurable.  And, because He was with them, He could heal them.  They were seeking to be healed.  They were hungry to be healed.

I have said before, that in this day and age we have so many pieced together quilt-y families.  Often the families that are doing the most to heal broken families are the families that are pushed to the outside of our traditional family images.  I have always found great irony in many who condemn abortion while at the same time turning a judgemental eye on the young, single mother.  We can do better than this.

I hope that legalizing same-sex marriage helps to legitimize families who are working really hard to succeed and to heal the results of moral decline and family disintegration.  These families deserve our support and our friendship, not our condemnation or our judgement.  

I believe with all of my soul the truths taught in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  

I believe that family is central to the creator's plan for His children.  I believe that Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.

I believe in love.
I believe in gender.
I believe in marriage.

I know that love always wins.
And, I see that lies wrapped in love are being accepted faster than truth wrapped in anger.
We must show the world that TRUTH IS LOVE.

I see that we are loosing womanhood as we make gender neutral and negotiable.

I know with all of my soul that what this country NEEDS is a big splash of individual responsibility.

Let's march together for love.  
Love is not sex.
Let's seek to understand how our gender defines us and take responsibility for the sacred seed our bodies produce.
Let's require a deliberate, holy, marriage license for procreation.  
Humans have the power given to create life and destroy life.
We can create families or destroy families.
We can seek love or swallow loves imitation, loves antithesis that keeps us from love.  
Sexual immorality is poison in a vitamin bottle.

Today, I pledge to LOVE more.  I especially want to uncircle my wagons, to include within my family those who are single or untraditional.  We all NEED love and personally, I can love more.

I pledge to BE a woman.  To help DEFINE womanhood.  I know that gender is NOT fake boobs, hair extensions, and lingerie.  Womanhood is holy and divine motherhood.  I want my mother soul to mother many.  We need the influence of both mothers and fathers in our world today.

I want to be a marriage advocate.  I want to preach to those not yet married the importance of this holy contract.  When we choose to create life with another human being, we are assuming an eternal responsibility and we will be accountable for the lives we create.  BEWARE.  Be AWARE.  Playing with procreation playing with life, is more dangerous than playing with fire.

To those of you who are currently doing all you can to love and nurture children whom you did not physically parent, I applaud you!!  You are entitled to Heavenly help.  We all are.  You are also entitled to our help.  Let my family help yours.

Traditional families should be the strong roots, the firm trunks, to which these broken branches may be grafted on to.

Love, gender, and marriage, these ideas are being attacked because they are the most essential and eternal principles of this life and eternity.

Do not be deceived.  Rhetoric can confuse our minds, but in our hearts we know truth.

There is evil on this Earth, but oh there is much good.
Love wins.
Charity never faileth.
Love more friends, love more!!

This post is part of a blog hop with these fabulous bloggers! We're talking about our marriages, giving tips, and sharing what we've learned but most importantly defending traditional marriage between a man and a woman.
Marriage between a man and a woman blog hop

Someday We Will Understand @ablisscomplete.com
Creating an Eternal Marriage @ pullingcurls.com
My Marriage @celestialmagazine.com
Together Forever A Man and A Woman @myrandomsampler.com
The Doctrine of Family is Sacred, @beinglds.blogspot.com
Defending Traditional Marriage by cranialhiccups.com
10 Ways to Tell if Your Husband Still Loves You @Chxscratch.com
Why LDS Marriages Can't Be Redefined by the World @mormonwomenstand.com
The Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage @wellbehavedmormonwomen.blogspot.com

June 29, 2015

Love, Caitlyn Jenner, and Same-Sex Marriage

This weekend the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in the United States AND my four year old taught my two year old to climb out of his crib.  My life will never be the same.  :)

I have been thinking a lot about love and family lately.  If I could pick two things that I have worked my hardest to build in this life, I would choose a loving heart and a strong family. 

The desire for love and family is universal.  Our soul inherently craves connection.  Our greatest joys and our greatest heartache surround our families.  

We all desire love and family.

I grew up in a family with a single mother.  I felt my mother's deep yearning for family.  As a little girl, I remember singing the song from An American Tale, with tears in my eyes and my father in my heart, "Somewhere out there, beneath the pale moon light, someone's thinking of me, and loving me tonight."  

We all want, even need, to be loved.  We crave families.  Young children instinctively play "family".  Children with dysfunctional families create surrogate gang families.  Pets are treated like children.  People spend vast amounts of money at infertility doctors enduring much for the opportunity to create a family.  And, same-sex couples have fought hard for their rights to marriage and family.

I believe our desires for love and family spring from our own creation.  We are children of God.  We were created by a loving Father in Heaven and our bodies and souls are designed to become like him.  "Family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children." (The Family, A Proclamation to the World.)

Love grows and gets better with time and life experience.

In a recent talk by President Boyd K Packer, The Plan of Happiness, he said, "Romantic love is incomplete; it is a prelude. Love is nourished by the coming of children, who spring from that fountain of life entrusted to couples in marriage. Conception takes place in a wedded embrace between husband and wife. A tiny body begins to form after a pattern of magnificent complexity. A child comes forth in the miracle of birth, created in the image of its earthly father and mother. Within its mortal body is a spirit able to feel and perceive spiritual things. Dormant in that mortal body of this child is the power to beget offspring in its own image."

Those who trade eternal families for romantic love are trading their eternal birthright for a bowl of porridge. 

"The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan; it is the plan of happiness; it is the key to happiness."

In the trailer to a new reality tv show called, I am Cait, Caitlyn, formerly Bruce Jenner, describes his transgender transformation.  (I will refer to him as Caitlyn, because that is his new name, but I will continue to use the pronoun he because I don't believe plastic surgery can change gender.)  

He says, "This is about getting to be who you really are."  Who you really are.

Oh, how those words have echoed in my soul.  How do we get to be who we really are?  Aren't we all trying to do this?

I don't believe that it takes extreme plastic surgery, shopping sprees, or a malibu mansion for anyone to find themselves.  In fact, just the opposite.  I believe in a God who teaches, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 10:39

But, our whole nation has felt something as we've watched the Jenner family respond to Caitlyn Jenner's transformation.  We have.  What is it?  

What is it that we feel and respond to?  

It is FAMILY, it is love.  Caitlyn Jenner is a father to a family of step-children and children that he could not have fathered as a woman.  I wonder how much of "finding himself" came as he wore a dress publically for the first time, and how much came as he felt the love and support his family and our nation continued to give him even if he was wearing a dress.  

Yes, love and family are two basic desires of our human souls.  It is SAD that some feel the need to shave their facial bones to feel this love and to find who they really are.  We are all intrinsically loved more than we know.  

Honestly, Kendall Jenner's tweet for Father's Day made me tear up.  "My whole life this soul was my daddy," she tweeted, "and just because your appearance is different now doesn't mean you were any less of a father to me my entire life.  Happy Father's Day to the person who raised me, and taught me everything I know."
She loves her father.  THAT is beautiful.  

Kendall Jenner Caitlyn Jenner Fathers Day

I know it is a bit ridiculous for me to combine family, the Jenners, and same-sex marriage in one blog.  But, I had to do it to sort through my feelings.  Writing a blog in support of family following the SCOTUS decision to legalize same-sex marriage has been SO hard for me.  This is honestly one of the hardest blogs that I have ever written.

And, I think I have finally figured out why.  It is because I GET IT.  

I think I know WHY same-sex couples want to marry.  
I know why they want their children to feel legitimate and accepted and normal.  
I want that too, for my children and theirs.
I wanted to feel that acceptance as a young girl at back to school night with my single mother.

Families in general are so messed-up these days and it hurts my soul.
I can preach anti-abortion (how about we introduce one more hot topic) but what am I willing to do about single mothers or families that don't know how to care for their children?

Families ARE disintegrating.  How can we help?  

It's not just same-sex couples that become legitimate with this ruling, as they are accepted into society, I can feel all types of mixed up families becoming accepted.  Some people are scared of this, I get that.  But, I can see good that can come from this too.  People need to feel loved and accepted not ostracized.  Individual choices already lead to guilt and regret that we can never change, but we can be a friend, we can reach out in small ways to help imperfect individuals on their own journey.

In a wise moment of understanding, a friend of mine said, "We always focus on being perfect when we talk of becoming like Christ.  Maybe we should focus more on LOVING IMPERFECT PEOPLE like He did."  

We live in a society of orphaned children and dysfunctional homes, we have so many single mothers and so many pieced together quilt-y families where step parents, extended family members, even strangers have stepped in to love children they did not give birth to-- this is sad and absolutely beautiful all at the same time.  

Because family is so important to me and so central to happiness in this life and in eternity, I want this for everyone.  I want LOVE to win.  I believe with all my soul that "Charity (the pure love of Christ) never faileth."    

And yet, I see with clarity the lies hidden in perhaps the greatest of all truth, that love wins.

The law of chastity is an eternal law.  God has set bounds for our sexual relationships.  True love and strong families are built upon eternal marriage covenants.  Covenants that bind a husband and wife and covenants that harness procreative power within this eternal union.  Satan does not have a body and he cannot procreate.  He is doing all in his power to take from us our families and to pervert sexuality.  Satan wants our children.

Happiness and love are the result of bridling our passions and serving another. 

Happiness and love can not be bought or legislated.  No plastic surgery, no legal terminology, no amount of public support can compensate for or replace a hole left in one's soul by sexual immorality, broken families, depression, mental illness, physical disabilities, loneliness, despair, or any of the other trials of life that leave us feeling lost and empty.  

Only God holds the key to healing our broken hearts, only God can help us to be who we really are.  

"For now I offer this comfort: God is our Father! All the love and generosity manifest in the ideal earthly father is magnified in Him who is our Father and our God beyond the capacity of the mortal mind to comprehend. His judgments are just; His mercy without limit; His power to compensate beyond any earthly comparison." (Packer, The Plan of Happiness.)  

This weekend we felt a bit of the joy and celebration that some felt when SCOTUS ruled in favor of same-sex family.  Can you imagine the absolute JOY that we will feel in a future day, when we kneel at the feet of our God and watch him literally HEAL and fix our broken families.  HIS POWER TO COMPENSATE IS BEYOND ANY EARTHLY COMPARISON.  I know this is true.  I look forward to this day.   

Today, I am absolutely inadequate to articulate the great emotion in my soul.

I do not believe same-sex marriage is the order of eternity.  I believe that we were created to mate with a member of the opposite sex and I know that procreation, love, and family life is the key to eternal happiness. I believe with all of my soul the truths taught in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  Which says in part that, 

THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. ...

WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

I find it interesting that this last paragraph does NOT blame national legislature for the disintegration of the family.  Instead, it is INDIVIDUALS who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities that will one day stand accountable before God.   

Individual irresponsibility has caused our families to disintegrate and only individual responsibility can heal families.

Let us each start TODAY to be more responsible.
Let us love one another.
Let us cleave unto the covenants that we have made. 
Let us be so very careful with our divine power to procreate.
Let us be virtuous and responsible as we choose our eternal companions.
Let us all, men and women, work together to be homemakers and family builders.  
Let us be better mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends.

Love wins!! Always.
God is love.
We are children of a Heavenly Father.
We were created to be mothers and fathers.

No amount of legislation or plastic surgery will ever fill our yearning for love and family.

God can heal us all.  He forgives.  
He can fill us with His love, and only He can make us who we really are.

Happily Ever After does not END with marriage.
It begins with marriage.

There is no happily ever after without the PROMISE of a blessed, healing resurrection and eternal families.

I believe in love and I believe in families.
And today, I give thanks for both.

June 23, 2015

Because This Land Is Our Land

I wish you could really SEE and KNOW the people in this picture.  They are leaders in their churches and communities.  They are good, good people who try to make our world a better place.

The past couple of weeks have been busy, good busy.  I am serving in Public Affairs for my Church and this is a great opportunity to rub shoulders with some inspiring community leaders.  This is my favorite non-paid part-time job ever.  :)

We planned a community-wide blood drive, a luncheon with community leaders, a day at the lake for 6th graders, and are helping with 6th grade graduation.  I spoke at Church, High School pre-prom party, at a Red Cross event, at a faculty meeting, sat on a few planning boards, did TV and radio interviews, and cared for 8 kids.  We had track, lacrosse, soccer, music and academic award ceremonies, two birthdays, PTO, Hope For Accreta, Public Affairs, InterFaith, Father's Day, weddings and graduation parties, meetings galore, taking care of animals, laundry, meals, yard, and two toddlers.  Wow.

I have not finished weeding my gardens, planting my garden, or spreading our mulch.  Also, my laundry is calling to me.

It is interesting to me that it's very hard for me to blog about the things I do in my community.  On one hand, I don't want to sound braggy or over-emphasize the small role I play in the greater whole.  And, on the other hand, I don't want a list of extra-curriculars to outshine the greatest work I do within my home.

I am a "stay-at-home" mother who "doesn't work" and yet I devote large amounts of time and energy serving in my Church, my community, and our schools.  I always have.  When I am healthy and my home is in order, I feel compelled to serve.  

My home and family are the center of my life.  I really try to give them my BEST.  I have learned, that part of being the best mother I can be, means that often they help me serve others.  They see me serve and they learn to be confidant and capable.  I'm not trying to raise good kids, I'm trying to raise children who are good for something.  :)

I spoke at Church on Sunday and a man commented to Todd that he could see where Anna got her great teaching skills from.  I have never actually taught Anna how to teach a class, I've never helped her with a lesson.  But, she has learned because she watches me.

I know they are learning to serve in the communities where we live, and I love that.

When I look back over my busy weeks, I see photos of my children interacting with good people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds.  They are confidant, kind, and quick to lend a hand.
Every interaction I've had with media, I've involved my children.  Every event I plan, my kids are involved.  They are there with me unloading the van, setting up chairs, or singing me the ABCs while I hurry to count out fliers for each class.  Teachers, secretaries, and store clerks know my children.  They see four and two year olds who don't always want to sit quietly while I make copies, and they hear my noble attempts to entertain with paper airplanes, paper clips or lollipops that I have hidden in my purse.  They are amazed that my teenagers help so willingly.  I often remind others that my teenagers grew up following me around while I served in the school.  It is natural for them to help.

The older kids have come with me as I've spoken to the Red Cross, or sat with Eve and Ben as I've spoken in their schools.
They've passed out fliers, helped set-up events, typed name tags, babysat children whose parents were donating blood, run craft or face painting booths when other organizations have needed a hand.  My kids help organize school t-shirts and clean up after school events.

Our family isn't the most musical or the most athletic in any community that we live in, but we are well known because we're involved.  We serve where we are needed.  We love our neighbors and they love us.

I am VERY careful to evaluate the motives behind my activities.  I don't do much for money or recognition (although our finances are always tight).  I've blogged for many years.  Everytime I think "I should try to make money for all the time I've put into this blog", I've personally felt the weight of blogging shift.  I don't feel as free to do good when I'm feeling pressure to earn.  I think I'm very guarded of my time-- I feel it is a priceless gift to be able to be home raising my children and I won't trade that gift for the few dollars I might earn.  

Similarly, I do almost nothing in life to gain more followers.  (I'm almost the opposite by nature.)  I don't want the added stewardship that comes with a life in the lime-light.  I am grateful, however, when I have the opportunity to use my experience to help another person.  I love that.  

In my life, money and pride have always been warning signs that my priorities might not be in order.  But, I've always admired those who seem to so naturally combine what they love with how they earn an income.

I am not quick to volunteer to do things.  Does that surprise you?  I don't run for office with PTO if there is someone else willing to help.  I'm very protective of my calendar.  I don't volunteer regularly at the school.  Every person is different.  I personally like to keep my schedule open and serve where and when I feel compelled to serve.  This year I stepped in and helped with 6th grade.  My Ellie was in 6th grade and I wanted to know the kids and the teachers.  It worked.

Next year, I volunteered to create a position called teacher appreciation on the PTO board.  We need to appreciate our teachers here in Tully.

I offer specific help in the classrooms-- I like to do holiday crafts or help with parties.  If they are teaching a unit and need a project to go along with that unit, I offer to help.  I like to be involved in the events my kids are involved in-- drama, band, sports, etc..  But, I'm not always involved.  I let others do what they can and I fill in where I sense a need.

I always devote large amounts of time to serving in my Church.  I currently have the best opportunity to serve in InterFaith circles and work with the most amazing people.  

You might be interested to know that many of my dear friends are as liberal as I am conservative.  I actually feel more comfortable around open-minded liberals than I do around raving conservatives.  My soul is InterFaith.  I was actually just invited to sit at an NAACP table at the New York State Fair to promote a Afro-American Geneological Project (www.discoverfreedmen.org) that we are working with.  Isn't that beautiful?!!!  

I can't tell you how much I love and respect those who devote their lives to serving in our community.  There are SO many good people in this world.  I feel blessed to rub shoulders with them.

There are seasons in our life when we are more involved and seasons where we are not involved.  There are normal weeks and busy weeks.

Can I just tell you that serving in my community has been a great blessing to me and my family?  We love our neighbors because we know them and we serve them.  My family is SO blessed because we have taught them to reach out and create friendships!  

I've had people tell me that I am a really good missionary.  But, I've learned it really isn't "missionary" that I'm good at, it's public affairs.  Public affairs just means building relationships.  People know me, they know I'm Mormon.  I speak openly about our standards and our quirks.  I'm good at loving them and they feel that.  

I hope when people think "I know a Mormon family", they remember us and they remember our smiles, our service, our love.  People who know our family will never say we are not Christian, they will say the light of Christ shined through our eyes.

When we are busy serving, we are not playing stupid games on the computer, or fighting with each other, or laying around complaining that we're bored.  Serving (like daily piano practicing) fills our days with goodness so there isn't room for the Bleh parts of life.

I'm grateful we are anxiously engaged in a good cause.

I love this scripture--

27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; 
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. (Doctrine and Covenants, Doctrine and Covenants, D&C 58)

The rewards of serving are great.
You cannot give a crust without gaining a loaf.

One last story.
We were cleaning up from a school picnic when a boy quietly asked, "Do you got any extra food I could have?"  He explained that they didn't have much food and his mom would be real happy if he could bring some home.

Teachers were aware of his need and told me they've sent things home with him throughout the year.  We filled a few bags for him and kids helped him carry them on the bus.  "Do you think I could have that broccoli and cauliflower?" he asked, "My sister loves that stuff."

My heart was full of love, not only for that boy, but for the community of teachers and parent volunteers that I work with.  These are good, good people.  We are all brothers and sisters.  We feed one another, we love one another, we're trying to make this a better world one small act of service at a time.

This might not be Bible thumping missionary work, but it is the best work I could ever do.

Life is good.
I know it.

June 15, 2015

2015 Heart 2 Heart Blood Drive

We did it!  We collected 105 units of blood here in our little town of Tully.
We told our story on a TV and radio, and felt priviliged to share our miracle to inspire others to donate blood.
I'm still recovering from this event and I don't have much to say other than WOW!
We have lived from coast to coast and can absolutely testify that there are really, really great people everywhere.

I was SO grateful for my sweet friends and strangers who came out, spent time and physically gave of themselves in honor of our story.

I honestly got teary-eyed multiple times watching how difficult it was for some of them to donate.  Thank you!!!!  

I was never able to thank the 200 strangers whose blood saved my life.  It was healing for me to feed and encourage and thank so many who have given of themselves for someone else.

I love this community.  
I love the Red Cross.
I believe that the goodness in this world is quieter but stronger than the evil.
People are good.
Life is good.
And today I feel darn lucky to be alive.
Even if I'm still too anemic to donate blood.

Please pray for my good friend Brianna Evans. She went in for some reconstruction surgery and ended up back in the ICU with more damage.  She really needs our prayers.

June 08, 2015

Weekend Whirl!

We celebrated Drew's 15th birthday with a house full of teenage boys and little sisters.
They played games, ate food, and watched the Disney movie about the cross country team from CA.  
Look at that cute little boy who is all grown up.
Honestly, I feel SO grateful for the friends my kids have.  Drew's friends are the most adorable boys.  They are great kids from great families.  These kids have kind hearts and glowing eyes.
I'm on a mother mission to encourage my children to interact with people not just video games.  This is particularly hard in this day and age.  My boys insist that kids in Tully do not get together, unless they have girl friends.  

I arranged a few games-- finding gummy bears in whipped cream pies, a tournament where two people each had a ball on a serving spoon and they had to try and knock each other's ball off the spoon, they played with a giant paper airplane made out of a poster board, filled punching balloons with water, and they played with a plastic ball and bat.  In the basement they played some kind of dodge ball/ping pong.  

They really had fun together.
King Triton's daughters made an appearance.
And, Drew got a remote control helicopter that takes video imaging.  We call it his drone.  I love that it keeps him busy outside!  The drone supervised our garden planting and even made a fly by as we washed Sunday dishes.

On Saturday we volunteered at the Syracuse Duck Race to end Racism.
It is never convenient to volunteer or reach out of your comfort zone.
But afterwards we are always so grateful we did.
Anna got a henna tattoo which leaves an orange stain on her skin for a week.  It was a mess.

I should have taken more pictures, but I was busy chasing Ben around and making sure Eve didn't go swim with the ducks.

We set up a table and advertised for our upcoming blood drive.  We met so many good people.

I really love people.  I love that my kids are exposed to different cultures and experiences.  Ben bopped around and clapped his hands to the tribal drumming and dancing.  I was so grateful that my little ones know a life of diversity.  They are comfortable in a group and find friends quickly.  This was a Saturday well spent.

We got home in the late afternoon and planted some of our garden.  We still have some to go (maybe tonight for Family Night).  

Summer speeds up my life.  
I am tired but happy.
Life is good.

June 06, 2015

Ben Turns 2

I wish you could have been at our house yesterday.  We had a small group of Sophomore boys over to celebrate a Drew's birthday.  Like always, Ben didn't speak much, but he was the center of attention.
This little boy is LOVED by many.
I was a young mother when I had the opportunity to serve in a church calling with some amazing, older women.  Jane Covey, sister-in-law to Stephen Covey, was a mother of ten whom I admired.  She said once, "Nobody really wants ten children, but if I had got to Heaven and met these children and known that they could have been a part of my family but I didn't choose to have them, no one could quench my regret."  (This is my recollection of her quote 18 years after she said it.)
I always wanted 12 kids, until I had one.  Trust me, you don't get to 8 without knowing exactly how much work is required to raise a large family.  I don't want eight children most days.  Most days I want 4 kids of my own choosing.   I love my life!  But it's not relaxing or glamorous or gentle.  I often say, "Oh, to have eight and each an only child!"  

My "this is SO much laundry" moment is always followed up with a washing of gratitude for my bounty.  If I didn't have eight I wouldn't have HIM--
Please-- DO NOT read my blog and use me as the reason you have a large family.  Having eight children is practically impossible.  It is SO hard.  It is A LOT of work.  I'm a good mother that is spread very thin.  It is especially hard to raise a large family when you live far from family.

Many, many times a week, I look at my friends who have two or three children and I'm jealous of their neat and orderly lives.  Choosing to have eight is choosing to never, ever be able to do for your children what you wish you could do.  Choosing to have eight is choosing to spread your money and your time thinner.
And somehow, as you are forced to let go, you find that your children are better because you can't do more for them.  You find strong, responsible, grateful, hard-working, independent, confidant souls emerge from eggs they must crack themselves out of.
Two years ago, I was scared and full of faith as I prepared to risk my life to give Ben life.  I still am.
Having Ben was the hardest thing we have ever done.  It still is.
But oh the joy!!!  
What a gift these children are in my life!
What gifts they are to the world.

I believe I had two children when I knew Jane.  Even with two, I felt the tug of not being able to give my first all that I could before I had my second.  It literally hurts to not be able to give your children everything you wish you could.
Jane said that she would think, as she had another baby, that although she could give less, she was giving them a sibling and that sibling would give more than she would have ever been able to give.
Today, I celebrate Ben for all that he is.

This child is adorable, feisty, inquisitive, and full of life.
He's so good as I lug him around shopping or have him sit in his stroller through three highschool lunch periods while I handout Blood Drive fliers.  He's angelically good and absolutely rotten as he screams during sacrament and refuses to go to nursery.
He makes BIG messes.
He learned to help me water the plants, and the next day took the big cup from the bath tub, filled it, and helped me by "watering" the fake plants in my bedroom.
Today, I'm loving these toddler days because I know that they will end.  Thank goodness they will end.  :)

I can say one thing with complete conviction.
I never regret bringing eight children into this world.  I do sometimes wish my life were easier, more simple.  But, I can't possibly see the fruits of my labor and not celebrate!
If I didn't have eight, I wouldn't have HIM.

Oh Ben!!!
I feel SO blessed to be YOUR mother.
You were worth dying for and you are absolutely worth living for.
I celebrate today all that you are, all that you will be.
Our life is just full of wonder and joy because of your bright, happy spirit.

I love to look at this beautiful boy.
I love how he feels in my arms.
I love his innate infatuations with animals and how he can find them first wherever we are.
I love how smart he is, without saying words.
I love how he signs and points and speeds through a montage of "please-eat-more-outside-candy" with a big smile on his face when he's trying to tell me what he wants to eat.
I love watching him bring joy to his siblings, he teaches them patience and service and forgiveness and love.
I love how he fills all of our needs for physical touch and slobbery kisses.
I love that he loves me best.
I love that he tries to jump, says "BALL!" for every round object, and barely says momma but makes different noises for a tractor and a car.
I love how he cuddles into me when I sing songs to him before bed.
I love how he clumps around in shoes that are too big, with great skill.
I love the naughty grin he gives me when I point to nail polish he painted on my toilet.
I love how he can pet chickens without them running away.

Oh this baby of mine.
I love him with every fiber of my being.
I surrendered my life to God as He came into this world and everyday since then, God has magnified my joy and expanded my soul.

Thank You Ben!
Thank you for being two and thank you for being you.  You make me a better me.
I love you.
What a gift you are to me.
How blessed I am to be a mother of 8!
My life is good.
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