Friday, October 10, 2014


     We recently returned from a wonderful vacation to Cancun, Mexico. Even as I type those words, it still feels like a dream. It has taken many many years for us to be able to save up the money. Yes, I realize that my oldest children are nearly adults themselves, so it was a privilege and blessing for us to be able to do this as a family.  Well, most of a family. Truth is - for both financial and mental sanity reasons, we could only afford to take the oldest four with us.

         I feel very indebted and grateful to all those who helped us take care of the youngest three kids (Lane, Miles, and Emerson) while we were away. It gave new meaning to the phrase "it takes a village" when I was arranging for their care. First, my parents let them stay at their house, even amidst the business of General Conference and mission reunions. There they were watched over by my niece, Rachel for a few days. Then with my little sister, Emily for a few. Then they were transported from Utah to Idaho by my cousin, Peter. Then my brother Tom watched them at night and during the day they hung out with my friends, Ruth and Lela. The last night, as we didn't arrive home until nearly 4 am, my friend, Christina, kindly came over and put them to bed and slept here until morning.  I am so grateful to have a whole army of people willing to help us out, and am forever grateful to them!


    Just arriving at the Salt Lake Airport, even though it was 4:45 am, the kids were ecstatic about flying on an airplane for the first time. I captured this moment:

As people were giving me strange looks while taking this picture of my kids, it struck me that not everyone may be quite so happy after going through TSA security screening at 5 in the morning!

We landed in Cancun and were immediately bombarded by 'tourism agents' trying to get us to go with them for transportation, or to come listen to a 'timeshare presentation'.  After relentless efforts, we seceded and agreed to listen to a 90 minute presentation the next morning, in exchange for free tickets to an 'event' and free breakfast for each of us at one of the hotels that happened to be right next door to ours.  We arrived at our hotel and were immediately saddened to learn that the 'all inclusive' package we were told about was actually not quite so 'inclusive' after all. They explained to us that it would be 40 bucks per person per day to have any food or drink at the hotel! Um...well, that would be an additional $240 each day that we didn't have. So, we decided that we would just 'make do'.  It ended up being quite an adventure for us as we took city buses and walked for miles and miles (or was it kilometers and kilometers?) to find affordable food each day.  The first night, however, we were too tired and just stopped at the nearest street restaurant to our hotel.  It was super yummy.

The next morning, we got up and watched the sunrise on the beach - it was breathtaking.  A much needed reminder of the beauty and simplicity there is on this Earth if we just take time to breathe deeply and notice it.

(The obligatory envy-inducing 'feet on beach' photo.)
So, we all gathered and meandered over to the hotel next door to hear our presentation (AKA, to get our promised free breakfast).
     After the 90 Mexican minutes (that's 120 in American minutes) we finally convinced them that while we were grateful for the offer of allowing us to pay $55,000 for the privilege of having 30 different weeks that we could spend at their fancy hotel, in which we could then pay another $3,600 per week that that we came, we were however not interested in it at this time.  By the time the 4th 'manager' got to us, he finally gave up and said, "Well, I tried."
    It was a delicious breakfast. One of the new things we enjoyed was their version of a 'green smoothie' which consisted of cucumbers, kiwis, and cactus.  Then we were given tickets to the event of our choice, which we had picked out beforehand. The kids all wanted to go and 'swim with the dolphins'.  So now we had something planned for the next day. But for the remainder of that day.....we were 100% content to just do this:

and this:

 and this:

 and this:

And after realizing we had not brought any sunblock because of the TSA restrictions on ounces, we found a pharmacy and bought some of this:

because we were beginning to look like this:

By the end of the day we were in need of nourishment, and we found the cutest little quaint eatery off the street. It was called "Las Quekas" and it was three Mexican ladies standing in a 8x10 foot area with a large black outdoor flat top stove. They only sold Quesadillas and they were so fresh and delicious and homemade. And the best part of all - they were only 13 pesos each (that is exactly one dollar).  This tiny, elderly lady that must have been about 4 feet 5 inches with strong arms and a facial expression that you knew held wisdom and mystery beyond our comprehension, would grab the dough, flatten it out, and then throw it onto the black top, constantly pressing, flipping, and rotating several at a time. Another, younger girl would then grab the fillings by hand (no gloves of course) and throw the fresh cheese (queso fresco) on there along with a handful of whichever meat was ordered. I describe this process in detail because it became so familiar to me as we made the pilgrimage by foot every day thereafter to eat! We would order about 8-10 quesadillas for the 6 of us, then walk back the 2.7 kilometers to our hotel each night to enjoy our dinner together. I really wish there were something even close to the level of yumminess here in the States for only a buck!

Waiting for quesadillas. Yes, we were the only tourists eating there.
We got up the next morning and headed took a bus to get to the boat to get to the island (Isla Mujeres) to get to the dolphins.  By the end of this day, the kids had now experienced three modes of transportation that were completely foreign to them: planes, buses, and a ferry!

The experience that it was to get in the water with dolphins, and to literally pet them, and swim with them was nothing short of amazing. We each, in turn, we able to get pushed by two dolphins at a time, their noses into our heals as they pushed us in the water; hold onto their fins, belly to belly as they swam us to shore; kiss them, hold them in our arms, and so much more! It was an experience that will live on in our hearts and hopefully minds, forever!  I say this because unfortunately, they did not allow us to take pictures of the events, as they have their own photographers taking all of the photos. Now, I know that it is a staple for tourism industries such as this, however, the prices were nothing short of highway robbery in my opinion. They wanted $400 dollars for our family pictures! Yes - that is in US dollars. So not only did we not purchase any, but I sadly did not see anybody in our group purchase them either. ;(

These pics of the dolphins that I took before we got in the water with them are the only ones I have:

While waiting for the ferry ride back to Cancun, we had several hours to spare, and we took a taxi into town and did a little shopping (aka bargaining).

They quickly learned the essential rules of "never accept the first OR the second offer" and "always start to walk away".

How can you see a prop like these and NOT jump in for a photo op?

Sombrero Sadie!

Nacho Libre mask...finally!!
Hanging out (literally) in the hammocks while awaiting our buffet lunch.

The family that swings together...stays together? 

Yea - the whole "VIRGIN" drinks concept got a little out of control for the kiddos!

Beautiful sunset on the boat ride back to Cancun.

After that fun day on the Isla Mujeres, Maelynn and I took a bus into town and found a large grocery store called "Wal Mart"! Haha.  While a lot of the stuff looked the same - it was interesting to see that quite possibly Americans are the ONLY people who keep their eggs refrigerated. 

 We got up on Sunday morning, excited to find a church to go to and watch General Conference.  I have blogged about how much I LOVE General Conference before, and it never changes for me - it is always a time of feeling growth, inspiration, and love from great women and men, called of God to help guide us through this crazy thing called mortality! And boy, it seems to only be getting crazier by the day!
     We tried to use the "Meetinghouse Locator" on my LDS tools app, but ironically it was 'down for maintenance'. So we looked up the address of a church and found the nearest crossroads on a map, and hopped on a bus and pointed to the map and asked the driver if he was going near there. He said yes. At a certain point, he told us to get off. We obliged, and kept asking for directions. After walking for over 30 minutes, and recieveing several different answers as to where this strange church could be, we finally found it down a little dirty street. Imagine our surprise to find the gates were locked and there were no cars in the parking lot!

 Eventually we buzzed the buzzer at the gate and a man came out. He told us that it was a regular chapel and that Conference was only being shown in the Stake Centers.  We asked him where the nearest Stake Center was, and he said: "Oh - it is just down the road a little. Like 15 minutes walking, or maybe 5 minutes by car." So, off we set on the second leg of the journey.

Of all the graffiti in the world ( and there was a LOT of it there), how random is it that we saw a post that had GREG written on it, with the letters PT underneath. It was too cosmic NOT to grab a picture of!

After about 90 minutes of walking in the scorching heat - we arrived, all sweaty and exhausted, and entered into the Stake Center, basking in the immediate relief of the cooler temperature, and the welcoming sounds of the MoTab belting out the closing hymn!!! Ah well, at least we had found our sanctuary and would be able to listen to the second session. But with two whole hours to kill, we quickly began to realize that walking for hours in the heat will deplete your energy, so Greg and Landen became the instictual 'hunters and gatherers to take care of us. They walked and walked until they found some food...
Greg and Landen found us some food (two little rotisserie chickens and six rolls) that the six of us all snarfed down with our hands over the kitchen sink. (Did I mention we had no pride left at this point in our hunger?)

The large Chapel and Overflow set up with seats for watchiing General Conference in Spanish. I loved the random Mexican bell decorations hanging up in the cultural hall...

...and the little TV in a side classroom that was playing it in English! We felt lucky to have a private viewing!

As we were leaving the Stake Center after a wonderful session.

Our blistered feet were so grateful that we were able to find a bus only a couples of blocks from the church that would take us back home to the hotel. 

The buses were a fun new experience for all of the kids.

We slept well that Sabbath night and were up early the next morning for our planned tour with our LDS guide, Helaman, from  He showed up at our hotel, as we had arranged through email earlier, and he said, "I think I saw you guys at our church yesterday".  Go figure! Small world. Turns out that the guy who was going to take us (Helaman) couldn't do it, so his son-in-law, Carlos, filled in for him. It was one of the coolest things to listen to Carlos relate his amazing conversion story, his deep well of knowldege of history and anthropology and archeology, his endless fount of memorized scriptures from the Book of Mormon, and his strong testimony. It was more than worth every penny paid and it helped me gain an even stronger love of and desire to continue reading the Book of Mormon.

At Chichen Itza.

The families that sweat together....stay together?

This one is at Tulum. Absolutelu beautiful scenery all around. Although imagining the horrors of what it was like when it was in full use is beyond comprehension HORRIBLE!

Happy (Partial) Family Photo.

The tres amigas! I am so grateful to have such wonderful daughters. I feel blessed to be their mother every day.

The last view of Tulum from the HIGHEST point in all of Cancun: 45 feet above sea level! 
We got back after a long day of driving, walking, touring, and learning, and headed back to our favorite sweet ladies making street quesadillas. But on the way, Sadie decided to give in to her desire to burn all the pesos she had, and paid a lady to put some nice little braids in her hair. 

The morning we had to leave - it began to rain. It rained from the time we checked out of the hotel and for the remaining five hours we were waiting at the airport!  But before we left. we spent a few minutes on the beach, where Landen carved this beautiful sea turtle for me. Oh - that reminds me...we actually saw sea turtles out in the ocean near the hotel. It was so cool. There were areas that were cordoned off and marked, where they had come up and laid their eggs.

In the lobby of the hotel - my silly girls posing for one last picture!

Maelynn acting all natural in the lap of luxury.

Maelynn and Sadie
We left the hotel at noon, and between waiting at airports, and a layover and change of plane and maintenance problem in Dallas, we arrived in SLC at midnight, and by the time we were home and unpacked it was nearly 4 am.  The absolute best part of the end of my trip was getting to go upstairs to the boy's room and kissing each of their little slumbering cheecks.  I am truly, truly a blessed person. 

We really learned a lot, experienced a lot, and grew closer to each other on our trip! 
Muchsimas Gracias y Viva Mexico!


Monday, September 1, 2014


           For quite some time, we had been wanting to get a Silo. You know, those cool metal buildings that farmers and ranchers have, usually to store grain? Yup, those. I have been seeing some really cool ways that people use them on Pinterest and I had great plans for one in our yard. We searched for a long time and finally found one on Craigslist that was a thousand dollars and we bit the bullet and purchased it. Greg and the boys spent an entire day helping to take it apart from the nice farmer and load it up and bring it to our house. We chose a spot in the back corner of our side yard, next to our little mini-orchard of apple trees.   The kids spent at least two more days assembling the silo, it was a LOT of work. Did I mention what hard workers my kids are? That is one thing that I am very grateful for. I know that Greg is the impetus behind most of their character building when it comes to a work ethic, and that is one of the reasons that I was drawn to him in the first place. But I digress...

          So, once it was all assembled in our little corner, it was a happy place. The purpose would not be to store grain, but rather to use as a mini shed, to store our lawnmowers, etc. And the children also would play in there, and it was even used one night for a 'campout'. 

      Suddenly one day, a man showed up on my front door steps. He was from the County Planning and Zoning commission and asked me what the silo was for. I told him it was to be used as a storage shed. He told me that I needed to come in and get it approved and pay for the zoning permit. I was a bit surprised by his visit, but we of course complied. When Greg and I went in, he admitted that the only reason that he stopped by was due to a complaint from a neighbor about the silo. This was disheartening to say the least.   After visiting with him for a little bit, we began to realize that there were many many other 'infractions' or 'violations' of the county codes going on in our neighborhood. When we asked him about it, he admitted to us that "most people just go ahead and put in a little shed or do such and such and never even come and get zoning permits, but that they don't have time to go door to door and enforce it, so they really only ever investigate if someone sends them a complaint." 

       Feelings in my heart ranged from anger to sadness to frustration about it. Part of me wanted to turn around right then and turn in all of the rest of the people in our neighborhood who were 'getting away' with whatever.  Part of me wanted to know exactly who had called and complained about our silo, just so that I would know who to avoid in the future, or who to confront about it if I ever got the courage up.  However, after seeing the stress this induced in my pacifist husband, I decided to just ignore the feelings of anger or trying to find out who did it, and to just comply and pay the fees and move on with our lives and adjust our plans.

      We paid the $90 fee and got the zoning permit in place and we were all legit and good to go.  Then, one day about a week or so after all that, my kids went out to grab the mail, and there was an anonymous note left in my mailbox that said, "Silo must go. Neighbors complaining." I was just so taken back by it all. It was like a gut-punch to receive that kind of 'threat' after all we had just gone through, paying the fees and everything.  This too brought an increased measure of stress to Greg, and I hated to see that. After much reflection, he decided that as sad as this would be, he would simply sell it and let it go and move on.

 Because that is the type of good man that he is.

 I was still wanting to stick to my guns since we were all legit and everything. There is no acting board or HOA for our neighborhood, so there was nobody to go to for a vote or anything. And now we had obtained the proper paperwork and permit, etc. The obvious reason for people complaining is that they simply didn't like the look of it. That is it.

     Then, a few weeks later, a woman who lives in our neighborhood, but whom I have never met before, shows up at my door with a slip of paper, inviting us to a neighborhood meeting to 'discuss the importance of maintaining the values of our homes and the possibility of starting up an HOA to enforce covenants, etc.'  This was crazy. This, to me, is the very definition of  'adult bullying' if ever there were one.  Luckily for any and all of my neighborhood silo haters, we had already sold the silo to someone on Craigslist. The children were a bit confused as to why we had spent all the money and hard labor in the first place, only to be so quickly removing it and getting rid of it. The kids spent more days of their time taking it all down.  It is interesting to me to note that my children also experienced a measure of this 'anonymous bullying' and went through various stages of confusion and anger themselves. These are the kinds of things that stick with children, that shapes their views, that likely influence them when they begin to model adult behaviors.

    Here is what I wanted to yell at the person or people who started this whole mess: "You know what? If you had not been a coward, and told us from the very beginning straight to our faces, that you hated it and would fight it no matter if we were legal to have it or not, you could have saved us a big headache and $90. That amount of money could have paid for school lunches for my children for like at least ten days! Also - I am not sure if you realized this or not, but the whole reason that we live in this neighborhood is because we are in the 'country'.  If you look about 200 yards to the north of my house, you will see horses and pasture. If you go about a block away from our neighborhood, it is all country houses and farms and there are many silos all around!"

   Here are a few of the questions that were brought into my mind after going through this experience:

    Why do people feel like they have the right to bring others down? Why don't people stop judging others based solely on what their home looks like? Do people really feel like they are 'better than' those neighbors of theirs down the road who may have a less appealing facade to their homes, but are still hard working families, just because they have fancy homes and expensive toys in their yards? Does anyone care about the value of hard work anymore? Does anyone care about what is going on in the raising of the children in their neighborhoods? Wouldn't it have been nice to have met your neighbors at least ONCE in FIVE YEARS and gotten to know them as people before passing judgment and hurting their family based solely on something they chose to put in their yard?

    The whole concept of the neighborhood meeting and the complaints in the first place just scream out: "It's all about ME! It is about MY perceived home values. It is about what I think looks acceptable.  It is about what I want to see as visually appealing in MY neighborhood. It's about me wanting to appear to live in a RICH or exclusive neighborhood."

       To sum up my feelings on this saga, I offer the following points of reflection, not only to those 'anonymous' neighbors of mine, but to all of us, myself included:

What if instead of thinking about only ourselves, we took a moment to think about our neighbors? What if we took the time to get to know the human beings living inside of those walls? What if we took time to befriend those who live near us and to see the potential value and impact that the seven children living inside of the home could bring to the future of our community? What if we all cared more about what was inside the home than outside? And with all my apologies to MLKJ....What if we didn't judge people based on the color of their silo, but rather the content of their character?

I hate to leave this post with any feeling that we are worse off because of this experience, but rather, I would like to believe that I have learned important lessons that have influenced how I want to behave towards others and how I want to look at others. We have gained experience in: how the county and government systems work; four + days of hard work together as a family; and some measure of compassion and forgiveness in our hearts. We are healthy, happy, and even this little incident is only a tiny blip in the radar compared to the goodness that surrounds us, the neighbors that we have grown to dearly love, and the eternal perspective that sharpens with each jolt in our lives.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


I have recently had some thoughts weighing deeply on my mind.  Have you ever had a sort of a vision? I mean - just something that you picture in your head? I think it is somewhat like a metaphor or a physical example of things that I can relate to.

     I was thinking of experiencing a really severe storm. You know the kind where you are outside and walking somewhere and all of a sudden it begins to POUR, I mean really dump on you. Then the winds pick up. Then it gets so chilly that it turns to hail. Pelting you. Then a gust nearly blows you over. You are so cold you can't feel your face. Every breath you take in freezes your snot instantly inside your nose. All you can do is try to get to SHELTER as soon as get out of the STORM. 

   I finally get to the car and open the door and jump in and shut the door. Instant relief. Instant comfort. Instant SHELTER from that storm. Aaaah.

Do you remember that feeling? No wind on your face? You can start to breath normally and defrost a little? It is quiet and calm?    Well, the crazy thing is that even though you are feeling that way, feeling all sheltered and protected and peaceful, the STORM is still raging on outside of your little car.  

So you start it up and begin the journey home. HOME! Home...where the family is. Where there is food and a warm shower and dry clothes. Where you can cuddle up with your loved ones, enjoy a drink of hot cocoa and relax. Where there is WiFi!

Here is where my little metaphor or visual that I kept seeing comes in.

To me, when a person is baptized and receives the gift of the Holy Ghost, they are essentially getting into the car. They have a shelter from the storms of life. Although it is still raging out there, they have the Holy Ghost to protect and warm them.
And when you finally get into your home, it is like going to the temple and making sacred covenants with the Lord. Covenants that give you a sense of eternal belonging and peace, that carry you through the worst of storms possible. Being part of an eternal family gives you a sense of shelter like no other physical thing I can describe or even think of.

     This idea and these images that have been floating around in my mind and heart lately were confirmed the other day when I was attending the baptism of my son's friend.  His sweet mother got up to bear her testimony and as this was their youngest child who just received the Holy Ghost, she looked over at her husband and said, "We've made it!" with a smile of relief and happiness. I could instantly relate to what it must feel like to have all of your children safely in the path that leads to God.  Then I thought of how I long to feel that same thing one day.  Then I thought of what a sense of relief and gratitude must accompany the feelings of joy when all of your children choose to make eternal covenants in the temple.  It is not like a sense of pride or wanting to wear a 'badge of honor' or anything, but more of a sense of  safety and peace knowing that your children have the protection and shelter available and ready for them if they only chose to obey.

     Of course there are still huge snowflakes and howling winds that will hit our cars and the windowpanes of our homes, but we have SHELTER from them.  Having the Holy Ghost doesn't make our drive home rain-free. Making covenants with God doesn't make our marriages and families wind-free and full of sunshine. But it does make it BEARABLE. It does make it DOABLE. It does make it  POSSIBLE to get through not only all the little rain storms that will inevitably come, but also the most severe TORNADOS and HURRICANES that threaten to destroy us.

So - what then is the solution for an ESCAPE from the storms of mortality? Only sweet death will bring that to our souls...but until that day, I feel utterly grateful to have the shelters provided to me that I have in place.  I physically feel a sense of relief from the storms of life every time that I walk in to the temple. Every time that I have all of my family surrounding me and we have scriptures and prayer together. Every time I tuck in and kiss my little ones good night in their warm beds. Every time I lay down next to my sweet, snoring husband and know that tomorrow will come with it's storms and chaos and I will still have him by my side as we face it together.

   While Satan is having a hay-day playing with people's hearts and minds and destroying the very foundations of families throughout the world ---
   While the hearts of men and women begin to wax cold and they increasingly hurt others as they seek for something to fill their empty souls---
   While those from within our own safe cars and houses use their free-agency to open the door and walk away --
   While at times I may forget the safety of the shelter I am in and in a rebellious moment chose to roll down the windows and get hit in the face with some hail --
      Even so---
I am so happy and blessed to know that Jesus Christ is my ultimate shelter from ALL storms.
Every. Single. Kind.

"For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy."
Psalms 61:3

Monday, May 12, 2014

Parental Control

     I have had the topic of "parental control" on my mind a lot lately.  I think this stems from a few main issues, one being that of public education and the ever pervasive changes in mentality that the schools are really the guardians of our children and that parents don't need to know everything, etc. And the other being in the public healthcare settings - where ideologies of the need for children to have the capability to make personal medical decisions regarding their health without the consent or even the knowledge of the parents.

     I am not all out here to start a very controversial debate about the merits or follies of Common Core or the data mining that accompanies it. I am not here to debate about the blessings or the evils of free and private birth control for young teenagers. I merely would like to express my thoughts about how it feels to be a mother in a time when many organizations and many people in the world feel that parents need to stop vying for 'parental control' and let those people who are 'trained' or who are 'experts' just do their job, because they know what is best for our children.

     Now, for the fear of offending or alienating certain parties, let me begin by saying that I fully understand that there are those children whose home lives or whose available parents are subpar at best and neglectful or abusive at worst. Those children truly do need the assistance of outside parties to help them succeed in life. I am grateful for the services provided for just such cases. However, I feel that as a whole, society is leaning way too far away from letting family's be in control of their own lives and respecting the parental rights for their children.

Case in point:

     My children recently had some testing going on at school. Basically, they are piloting a new program of computer tests that haven't even been proven and they (teachers, parents) are not going to get results from it at all. They are essentially just being lab rats. Basically it seems like a waste of time, and is most definitely a loss of hours upon hours of instructional time in the classroom. So, I chose to exert my parental rights and "opted out" my children from these insane tests.  So far I have not had to deal with an excessive amount of backlash (albeit I have had a bit) from people who for some reason feel that I am wrong to pull my kids out, or that I am 'going against the system' or that I am anti-pubic education'. 

    The crazy thing is that this system already doesn't allow for parents to have much, if any control over what they see in their kid's public record, or who else sees it for that matter. Now they are proposing a BAN against any parents being able to opt their kids out in the future. WHY? Because, guess what? I am not the only parent who chose to opt my children out of that testing. Not by a long shot. There were actually thousands and thousands of other parents across the nation who did the very thing I did.

This great article is written by a current TEACHER and PARENT here in Idaho who supported Common Core:

It feels like now they are doing all they can and as swiftly as they can to get parents 'out of the way'. The ideas and the thinking that parents don't know what is best for their children's education or that they should not have a say in it at all is truly scary for me to imagine.

The second area that I have seen an issue with this, as I alluded to before, is in the arena of Public Health. While we all know that birth control and abortions are on the rise - even a sharp rise - throughout the world, it seems that little is known about how parents are often not made aware of those very things happening in their child's life. I have recently seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears as a young teenager was seeking help in case she was pregnant. The counsel was given to her to begin taking prenatal vitamins just in case. Then she was told that if her mother found out or asked about it, she should just tell her that she was taking them because she heard that they help with hair and nail growth. I am not kidding. Not only are we talking about concealing important aspects of a child's life and health from the parents, but now we are teaching them how to lie to the parents?!

If you don't believe me, here are some actual laws:

Cal. Health & Safety Code Sec 123450 states that, "An unemancipated minor may obtain an abortion without the consent of a parent or guardian"
Cal. Educ. Code Section 46010.1, states that, "The governing board of each school district shall, each academic year, notify pupils in grades 7 to 12, and the parents or guardians of all pupils enrolled in the district, that school authorities may excuse any pupil from school for the purpose of obtaining confidential medical services without the consent of the pupil's parent or guardian."
66 Ops.Atty.Gen. 244 (7-28-83) states that, "Public school officials have the authority to excuse a pupil from regularly scheduled classes to obtain medical services for which they may legally consent, including abortion, without notification to a parent of guardian."

I hear and see things on a near daily basis that seem to confirm to me the fact that 'parents are overrated'  or that children need to be raised by those who are outside of the home. I see indoctrination happening on a subtle and a not so subtle basis throughout all walks of life, from advertising to educational textbooks to music to publicly funded government programs.  It made me start to think about it all.

Why is this happening? Have the last hundreds and hundreds of years of parents raising their children and calling the shots and knowing what was best for them just been a waste of time?
 Has the answer always been found in letting society raise the child and in letting the young child chose for himself? Or is this taking us further and further away from where we need to be?

I started to think about the loss of parental control in general, and whether there are any applicable gospel analogies I could derive from it. I began to ponder about it. I concluded that there is a sense of  Heavenly Father's influence in our lives being diminished. There is a sense of us trying more and more to be independent of God in our mortal lives and to try and let the world tell us how we should live -
To feel more and more like we are the ones that are truly in control.

What would happen if each of us, as children of our Heavenly Father were to turn over control of our lives to Him? What if we were to let our will be swallowed up in His? Would that make us weaker? Would that make us more vulnerable? Or would that make us stronger, albeit vulnerable at the same time... as we humble ourselves to His ways and choose to follow His eternal laws for us?

In conclusion: I am not looking for feedback, I am merely asking you to question these things in your own heart and mind as a parent:

Is there a loss of parental control in our society?
     Are we as parents scared to speak up for what we feel is best for our own children, regardless of what the world tells us is best for them?
   Is there a loss of Heavenly Parental Control?
Not because he isn't fighting for that. Not because He isn't wanting us to turn to Him and to listen to what he has to say and to seek His guidance.
     Are the two correlated? Is there a type and a shadow in these things?
Who knows what is best for our children?
And who knows what is best for us?

It has been said that "Man plans. God laughs." While we all go through our own phases of trying to figure out what our role in life is, let's not lose sight of the fact that our lives are, in very fact, not 100% controlled by us, nor should they be.

For the record: I'm all for increased Parental Control - both mortal and Heavenly!

"Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" 

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Worldwide Family Reunion

This past weekend we went on a family trip to my In-Laws home.
(Emerson enjoying the water fountain at the Wave pool.)

(Grandpa letting the numbing magic work on Lane before pulling three teeth!)
(Checking out the solar oven!)

It was wonderful. We celebrated my beautiful mother-in-laws' birthday, took the kids to the Wave Pool, went skeet shooting, made a solar oven, got dental work done, ate a lot and watched a ton of TV.

While the three to four movies that were viewed each day by my children were entertaining, by far the best thing that we watched on TV was.....

 the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

You know how you feel just anticipating a family reunion - let alone being AT the reunion?
Isn't it the best!
   It is indescribable to me.
       The love, the sense of family and of belonging that I feel.

THAT is what General Conference is like for me. 

It is like a worldwide family reunion of all of my brothers and sisters. When I watch the talks given at Conference, it feels like a giant Skype session with my older brothers and sisters who I admire and look up to and love.  And then being able to talk with all my cousins (15 million plus) about the cool messages as we stay up till 1 am eating peanut M&M's and talking and laughing...
      Well, something like that.

Anyway - I really just get giddy with excitement to hear the wonderful messages and to feel a part of the wonderful organization that is my church -
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Now - I am not one to make super cutesy crafts or meme's or anything - but here are some of the key messages that I took away from the meetings. One star point for each talk given.

*We must forsake transgression and any HINT of advocacy for it in others.

*Focusing on serving our brothers and sisters...prepares us to LOVE what the Lord LOVES!

*The only filter that ALWAYS works is your personal internal filter.

*Reading the Book of Mormon will give us protection from the whirlwinds of life.

*We need to serve God with JOY and dedication.

*Whenever we choose to make or keep a covenant with God, we leave a heritage of hope for our decedents.

*I need to be securely TIED to GOD and to nothing else.

*People can understand God's love better if they first feel unconditionally loved by us.

*It is IMPOSSIBLE for others to modify God's commandments.

*If we chose to leave the path at all, we will one day feel the bitterness of having set at naught the teachings of God.

*I need to use words that are both SOFT in spirit and FIRM in information.

*Our Family History Centers are now in our homes!

*Forget about our RIGHTS and focus on our RESPONSIBILITIES.

*If anyone ever says "That's just the way I am", they give up their ability to change.

*The Lord provides technology to accomplish HIS purposes, to hasten HIS work.

*3 things that make us "sleepy" in the restoration of the Kingdom of God: selfishness, addictions, and busyness.

*Help people CHOOSE to qualify for eternal life.

*Just be the same person in the dark that you are in the light.

*Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike virtues.

*As we follow UP the Lord will not let us DOWN.

*God accomplishes his miracles ONE prayer, ONE person at a time.

*Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

*Is the LOAD I am carrying producing Spiritual traction to get me unstuck and back on path to God?

*Our burdens are eased not by the Lord removing the challenges, but by the Lord strengthening US.

*Blame keeps wounds open, only forgiveness heals.

*The ultimate end of ALL activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children can be happy at HOME.

*The more connected we feel to our righteous forefathers, the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices.

*To succeed in life, we must teach our spirits and our bodies to work together.

*If we want to know the truth of all things, we need to ASK GOD ourselves.

*I need to put more quality time and effort to strengthen family relationships.

*We need to be willing to DO God's will when we find it.


*Realize how CLOSE He is willing to come; How FAR He is willing to go to help us; and how MUCH he loves us!

Overarching messages:

We will NEVER regret being a little too kind.
Courage, not compromise brings the smile of God's approval.

If you are interested in listening for yourself to the awesome messages of our recent Family Reunion that is General Conference - click on this link here.

See you at the next one in October!

(I'll bring the M&Ms!)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

An equation for peace!

In my scripture studies this morning I was struck with a thought that I hadn't really pondered sufficiently before. I was reading in the book of Enos in the Book of Mormon about what he was feeling and going through after he 'wrestled with God' and repented of his sins.

* In order to explain my rambling thoughts I better tell you that I will have the scriptures quoted in italics and my own thoughts in the parenthesis. *

"And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, 

before I received a remission of my sins.  

 (So here I learn that in order for me to actually be forgiven of my own sins, I need to wrestle with God. Since I don't believe that to be literal, and because I would never feel comfortable praying in a singlet, I looked it up in the Dictionary and found a more appropriate definition:  "to contend, as in a struggle for mastery; grapple: to wrestle with one's conscience."   What does that struggle for mastery look like? Is it me  struggling to be the master of my own thoughts and actions? Is it me surrendering to Christ as my master?)
Behold...the words which I had often heard my father speak

 concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep

 into my heart.
(This gives me hope that one day, my children will remember the things that I am telling them about God their Father and about eternal life and about the path they need to walk on daily.)

 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my

 Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and 

supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I 

cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise 

my voice high that it reached the heavens.

(I have spent many a day and many a night crying unto my Maker. Usually at times when I am faced with unpleasant occurrences or trials. It strikes me that this man was just out to hunt and pondering things, I hope to get to the point where I am able to spend more time thinking of the Savior and of eternity throughout my every day, and not just in times of trial, fear, or loneliness.)
And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are

 forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my 

guilt was swept away.

(The simplicity of this formula is so plain and beautiful to me. It was a one-liner. He just KNEW that since God couldn't lie, and God told him that his sins were forgiven, then it was instant - his guilt was swept away. I love how it didn't slowly dissipate into the air a tiny bit at a time or happen over weeks or months. It was just SWEPT away. Like that. Done. I have had to remind myself of this time and time again. I have felt forgiven of things, and then later, I give in to the whisperings of Satan and start to doubt myself or remember my own sins, and this reminds me that I need to simply TRUST God when he says I am forgiven. Because he CANNOT lie. Period.)
And I said: Lord, how is it done?
 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom

 thou hast never before heard nor seen.

(The part that always stands out to me about this verse is the word BEFORE. It makes me think that at this time he was actually able to see the Lord and be with him, face to face. It makes me think that he had so much faith that nothing was withheld from him. If he was only hearing a voice in his head, then wouldn't it say "whom thou hast never heard nor seen" instead of "whom thou hast never BEFORE heard nor seen? I don't know. I am not proclaiming any sort of doctrine or idea here other than what I feel when I read it.)

Wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.
(The thing that I love about God and Christ proclaiming this is that I picture me, and all human beings as having some sort of holes in us. And when our faith can make us whole, it makes me think that Christ, and only Christ has actually filed up our HOLES and made us WHOLE again.)

And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began

 to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with 

many long strugglings for my brethren.

(I think it is so amazing to watch that as soon as a person is made WHOLE or their faith is solid or unshaken, then they will instantly turn outward. They will look outward to serve others. Have you seen that happen? Have you seen someone with UNSHAKEN faith? I have seen this happen. I have seen it in the actions of new converts who want to instantly share the gospel with others after they have been so recently saved. I have seen it in the lives of new mothers who have knocked on the very door of death themselves, only then to turn and give their all and be willing to sacrifice their own goals and aspirations in service to their brand new babies. I have seen it in the testimony of the prophets as they plead with every member of the Church with all their energy.)

And I had faith, and I did cry unto God that he would 

preserve the records; and he covenanted with me that he 

would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due 


(Isn't it interesting that the first thing that Enos asked for when the Lord told him he could ask for anything because of his faith, was for God to preserve the records?  Even though we are blessed with the technology nowadays to have endless electronic copies of all of the scriptures and words of the prophets at our fingertips, this makes me think of my own personal 'records'.  In my mind that would equal my scrapbooks and journals. Sometimes I think to myself - what if there were a fire or a major flood or catastrophe, what would be the physical belongings that I would truly mourn the loss of? It would be the scrapbooks with years and years of photos of my babies growing up in our home. The handwritten letters from my grandparents who are all gone. The pictures of the best day of my life, the day I married Greg in the Salt Lake Temple. The journals that I wrote in every single day of my 18 month mission. The letters of love and testimony that Greg and I wrote to each other. THOSE are the records that I would miss. Why would I miss those things? Because they are a testament to my children and future grandchildren of what is important to me, of what really matters, of what I want for them.)  
And I, Enos, knew it would be according to the covenant 

which he had made; wherefore

         my soul did rest.
(This is the grand "Aha" moment that I had. While reading this, I was struck with a constant thought in my life, one that I know many others have felt as well. It goes something like this: 

"Why can't Jesus just come already?" 
or "Oh, I can't wait for Jesus to come." 
Why do I, and so many other people who love the Lord, long for that moment? I know that for me, it is because I grow weary of the evils of the day. I grow tired of the plaguing sins of our times that infiltrate my heart and my home and the hearts and homes of those I love. Understanding the revelations of what is yet to come, I fear for the future of my children. I often dream of the day when Christ returns as one where I will be able to just relax and have all fear and all strife and all wars and bloodshed and anger and hatred and disease be magically gone. Where I will simply be able to emotionally and spiritually and physically REST. 
But this verse just told me otherwise. 
It is the equation of peace that I have been needing to be reminded of. 
It tells me that I don't have to wait for Jesus to come.
It tells me that my very SOUL can have true REST in this life. 
Right now. 
By simply keeping the covenants that I have made with the Lord.

So, here is the equation: Make and Keep Covenants = Soul can REST.

Even amidst the hectic crazy busy life of a mother with so many young children, when I am feeling overwhelmed and underloved. When things get to be over-the-top or I am feeling under-the-weather. When life feels overly-heavy and I am under-nourished. When I am overly-exhausted and under-slept. I can still have REST FOR MY SOUL.  I can feel it when I pause to re-examine what I am doing to keep my end of the bargain - to keep my covenants. 
I can strive to be better at my baptismal covenant of 'bearing one another's burdens' as I take the time to visit my sick friend, listen to my heartbroken teenager, and pray for the anguish of my frustrated toddlers.
I can strive to be better at my temple covenants as I fulfill my Church calling, go to the temple frequently, and serve my husband with pure unselfish motives.
And as I do those small acts each day, they are the tokens that I am placing before the Lord to show him that I am striving - that I am trying - that I am longing to be a COVENANT KEEPER. 
And in doing that, I can have REST to my SOUL each and every day!)

 Enos finishes with the beautiful and more eternal 'promise of rest' that we usually think of:

And I soon go to the place of my
rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen.

I love Enos. I love what I have learned from his example to me. I know that I can also be blessed with PEACE in my heart and REST in my soul.  Not only after death, but in life as well. I am unshakeable in this knowledge: That this is the JOY that lies inside of us as we keep our covenants.