Monday, December 16, 2013


I had this new thought as I was teaching about Zion in Sunday School yesterday.

In the scriptures, Zion is referred to as "the pure in heart". (D&C 97:21)

No where does it say that we have to be perfect to be a part of Zion.

Just pure.

What's the difference between pure and perfect?

I believe it is my actions.

I can be pure by having my heart in the right place at all times.

And then I can constantly work on my actions to become more perfect through the Atonement of Christ.

Having my heart in the right place means that I cannot judge others.

"Don't judge me because I sin differently than you do." (Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2012)

To me, that is Zion.

Being one in heart and purpose.

Not judging; but helping each other as we use the Atonement to become perfect.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Let's go to the Movies!

I love movies.

My husband loves them too.

I remember when we were first married going to two movies, in the theater, in one day.

And we love all types.

We watch romance, comedy, action, drama together.  

All of it.

One of my favorite things is to go to a matinee movie and come out when it is still light outside.  

It always gives me a thrill to walk out of the theater into the light.  

I think it has something to do with being so involved in a movie and coming out to the real world all lit up.  

"Oh yeah.  Real life."

I'm definitely not an expert when it comes to movies.  

I can't tell you the actors or the year it was made or what awards it won. 

And sometimes I can't even remember the plot that well.

I watch purely for enjoyment.

I'd like to think we're passing this on to our kids.  

We go on a date every Friday (at least we try to) and the kids take turns picking a movie to watch.

They love choosing movies from our local library or they pick something we have.

We've tried to introduce them to the classics like Davy Crockett, Herbie, Apple Dumpling Gang, Home Alone.  

And on Sundays they get musicals: White Christmas, Annie, Singing in the Rain, Annie Get Your Gun, etc.

Unfortunately, we can't show them too many movies from the 80's.  We've discovered that the language and innuendos are more intense than we remembered.

There have been sometimes, when the kids are on vacation, that we'll have a whole week of "Mom and Dad" movies. 

I think this might be one of those weeks.  

Saturday started with Support Your Local Sheriff.

Sunday was, Mr Blanding Builds His Dream House.

Thanks to our generous Aunt, we'll be going to Despicable Me 2 in the dollar theater tonight.

Any suggestions for the rest of Thanksgiving week?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In case anyone was wondering...

Working out to "30 Day Shred" only a few months after having a baby is completely different than working out to the same video 4 years after said baby.  Even though my workouts have been few and far between - it wasn't as hard as I remember.

I feel like I'm starting to come out of some kind of haze that I didn't really know I was in.  In some ways I feel like I had PTSD from all of the moving (3 times in 7 months).  But, now that I'm feeling settled I'm starting to regroup a bit.  And, I am no longer saving boxes.

I feel like writing more (see above)Again.  I don't think I'll do the write every day like before, but I'm going to try and write more often.

I'm feeling the need to learn something new.  I think I might take voice lessons.

My family is growing up.  And I have to remind myself that I am at the peak of everything right now.  Peak laundry, peak eating (actually I think we've got room to grow here), peak grocery shopping, peak noise, etc.  My oldest will leave for college in less than 6 months.  I have a feeling that once she goes, time will speed up exponentially.

I'm currently on the "no treats" diet again.  Except this time, I'm allowing myself to eat treats on the holidays.  I want to enjoy all the pies I'm making for Thanksgiving. (Christmas lasts the entire month of December, right?)

Sometime, I'm going to post the list of all the crazy things that are said in my house.  Here's an example:  "Don't cut your ham with your elbow!"  We have a lot of those.

Also, I'm not posting this link to Facebook like I sometimes do.  I think that's the only time people read my blog and I don't feel like sharing so much this time.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life's Production

My girls just finished their high school musical production.  

It was so fun to watch them participate in something so great, even if they were just a small part of it.

It made me want to be a part of a big production, too.

But, if I look at life as a big production, I am part of it.

There have been times when I seemed to be front and center of the show.

And there are times when it seems that I'm more of the stage crew/costumer/food producer for the show.

(So much drama people!)

One thing I have to remind myself is that in any live production, mistakes will be made. 

Cues will be missed.  

Props go awry.

And to those making those mistakes, (or the parents of those making them), it's embarrassing. 

It can even seem like everyone noticed and "is there anyway we can just start over?"

But when you're watching, it's never that bad.  

In fact, there's probably more people that didn't even notice it than did.

The show continues to go on.

And the mistakes cannnot take from the majesty of the production.

Do you know what part of the "life's production" I wish I could do more than any other?

I want to be one who is making beautiful music.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Defining Myself

Whenever I move or start new somewhere, I tend to ask myself :

"Who do I want to be now?" 
"How do I want others to see me?"

My husband has always told me that I shouldn't try to be anything.  

Just myself.  

But I like the idea of inventing a new self.  

The problem comes when something happens that makes me have to change my definition of who I think I am.  

My life seems to spiral out of control until I come up with the new definition.  

"Now, who do I want to be?"

Example:  I have been defining myself as a "home-school" mom.  

But, this year I am going to be sending most of my kids to public school.  

 That means I will now be a "public school" mom. 

(what does that mean anyway - and why have I allowed myself to make that sound like a bad thing?!!)

See the problem with having narrow definitions of myself?

 (click these pinkish links - they're good!)

I'm not a home-school mom or a public school mom.

I'm just a mom.

Or even broader than that.

I'm a daughter of God. 

And God just expects me to love, serve and have joy.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Life has been crazy and chaotic.

Which equals to me being crazy and chaotic.

I finally realized the other day, that I have a choice.

I can choose to let what is going on in my life define me.

Or I can choose peace.

Just because life is full of stressors doesn't mean that I have to be stressed.  

I can choose.

In fact, for an entire day I kept repeating to myself:  It's a choice.

I can choose how to react to this stress.

Life will never be nice and easy; there will always be something to stress about.

But, I can recognize the stress and still seek for the peace that I really want.

It's a choice.  

Every day.

Every minute.

I choose peace.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Running Hills (part 3)

It seems like I've been running hills for a long time now. 

All the places I have lived for the past three years have been surrounded by hills. 

And any kind of running, meant going up a hill.

I realized as I was running a hill yesterday that the home we are in the process of buying is surrounded by farms; flat land.

There won't be any hills that I have to run up.

And I thought, "What am I going to do to feel like I'm pushing myself if there aren't any hills?"

I'm going to have to seek out other ways to improve myself. 

Maybe it will mean going faster. 

Maybe going longer distances. 

Maybe I'll have to look for hills to run, instead of them just being there.

I think there will always be times in my life when there are hills that I can't avoid. 

Challenges that I must face even if I don't want to.

And then there will be times when everything is just flat. 

It's those times that I need to find other ways to push myself harder.

Maybe that means giving more service. 

Studying my scriptures harder. 

Praying more fervently.

Or looking for hills.

The important thing for me is to not lose any of the ground that I have gained while running "my hills." 

I want to use what I have already gained to push me farther.

I want to keep running.

Friday, May 3, 2013

"extra"ordinary People

This thing that I recently discovered about being ordinary has been life changing for me.

As long as I focus on just being an ordinary, faithful person, I feel better about myself and the simple things that I am able to accomplish each day.

But, it hasn't just helped me in how I feel about myself; but also in the way that I feel about others.

Unfortunately, I am sometimes guilty of judging others. 

I've justified it a little by thinking that at least I had gotten past the, "they're not so special!" stage of judging and moved on to, "well, we all have our different strengths!"

Guess what, it's still a type of judging.  

It still made me feel competitive and like I wasn't doing quite enough. 

But now I remember that I just have to be ordinary.  

And that everyone else is also just ordinary.  

And I can also see what those ordinary people are able to accomplish.

Instead of that being discouraging to me, I find it inspiring.

We are all the same.

Just ordinary people who are sometimes are able to do extraordinary things. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lessons Learned

I feel like I am in a familiar situation.

A waiting one.

Except this time instead of waiting on a job,  I am waiting on finding a place to live.

My first thought was, "I guess I haven't learned what I was supposed to last time!"

But then I realized I wanted to look at it in a more positive way. 

So instead I asked, "What did I already learn from the last time this happened?"

I learned that it all works out eventually.

I learned that God is very aware of me and my concerns.

I learned that "calmness" is the way the Spirit speaks to me.

I learned that no matter how much I want things a certain way, I know that the Lord knows what is really best.  

Recognizing what I have learned from the past is helping me get through this time.

I think that's why the scriptures talk so much about remembering.  

The Lord wants me to remember the lessons I have already learned.

It's not about being stuck in the same situation over and over again. 

It's about using the lessons I have already learned and adding to them each time.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Asking the Right Questions

I am excited to be able to listen to inspired speakers this weekend of General Conference.

I am a strong believer in getting specific answers to my questions during the different sessions.

For example, ten or so years ago, when my husband was in the process of making a decision about a job, I remember a speaker mentioning Ephraim, Utah. For some reason it stood out to me.

We got a job offer from that city just a week or so after.

My kids had heard this story enough that last conference, when we were looking for a job, everyone was on the lookout for different cities or states that were named.

We decided that Idaho was probably mentioned the most. 

But, we thought that was weird because we hadn't applied anywhere in that state.

Guess what happened a couple of weeks later?

Now, I know that conference is not just about telling me exactly where I should live. 

But, I also know that I pay more attention when I am listening for something specific.

And every time I am looking for specific answers, I have heard them.

Some of the most common questions I ask before conference are, "How can I be a better mom?" or "What do I need to teach my family?"  and there always seem to be talks focused on just these topics.

For the last few years I have had all of my kids come up with their own questions or problems that they need help with.

One year, D was having a hard time falling asleep at night.  So, he decided that he wanted to get an answer for that specific problem.

The first talk in conference was about prayer.  And how prayer can help you with any problems you may be having.

He and I looked at each other, and we both knew that was his answer.

There was another time I prayed that a child of mine would be able to feel the spirit more in their life.

That was the conference when Elder Holland gave his powerful talk, "None Were with Him". 

I heard some quiet sniffling coming from the corner of our couch and saw that my child was definitely feeling the spirit.

My goal, this year, is to really focus on asking the right questions. 

Because I know that there is something I need to know. 

And since I know I will get an answer; I want to make sure that I get it right.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


I have always been a competitive person.  

In fact, it's one of the things that I struggle with in homeschooling; there is no one to compare my children to so I can tell how they are doing.

Since my children are all on different levels of learning and, in fact, have way different personalities from each other, I can't compare them to each other. 

Lately, the problem I've had with being so competitive is that I end up comparing my life to others' as a measure of how I'm doing.

And then when I fall short, or see that I am not as good as someone else, I get down on myself.

So, why do I think I need to be better than others at anything?  And why do I think my children need to be the best?

What is wrong with being ordinary?

President Boyd K. Packer gave a fantastic talk in October 2007 General Conference called "The Weak and Simple of the Church".  My favorite quote from that was:
"And so the Church moves on. It is carried upon the shoulders of worthy members living ordinary lives among ordinary families, guided by the Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ, which is in them."
I want to be ordinary.

And I believe that's all my Father in Heaven wants as well.

He's not expecting fantastic things.  

He's not expecting me to be better than anyone else.  

We are all his children and just like I can't compare any of my children to their siblings because they are all different, He won't compare me to any of my brothers and sisters.

He just wants me to learn, to love, to have joy.

To live an ordinary life.

That doesn't mean I shouldn't have goals to work on; ways that I can improve myself.  But, if I can make it through each day just doing small, ordinary acts of kindness, that is enough.  

There's no reason to believe that what I am right now is not enough to bless other people.  

Just an ordinary mom and daughter of God is enough.
I am enough.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Time (Outfit) For Everything

Have you ever had one of those times when you have been totally over-dressed for an occasion?

(I remember going to one of my Dad's work parties and wearing a dress.  It was an outdoor picnic.  Awkward!?!)

Or, how about under-dressed?  

(Another one of my Dad's work party where everyone seemed to be in evening wear and I may have been in pajamas!?!)

Either way, it's uncomfortable.

Well, it happened to me again this Sunday.

I found this awesome outfit; one of those jacket/skirt combinations.  

I loved it (still do) and I felt so mature wearing it.  

I felt like I had finally arrived.  

And then . . .  

Church happened.

I spent the entire three hours wrestling with whiny children.

I didn't get to go to any of my classes because some of these whiny children refused to go to theirs.

I came home crabby.  

But, I couldn't figure out why.  It's not like this has never happened before.  

In fact, it happens a lot lately.  So what was the big deal?

Then I realized; I had been overdressed.

 I was wearing an outfit that made me feel like I had it all together.  

An outfit that is not usually worn by others who are struggling with children.  
(At least not outwardly, or physically. )

And it is not my time yet to be done "struggling" with my children.

I am right in the middle of my journey.

This is my time to be surrounded by children: be they whiny, rebellious, obnoxious.

Be they sweet, tender, innocent.

I need to remember what time it is in my life right now.  And dress (live) appropriately.  

I'm not saying that means that I can never wear this particular outfit.  

What it does mean to me is that I shouldn't wish my life away from what it is right now.

I'm sure there will come a time when I will sit through all of my church meetings.  Maybe even alone.

There is a time for everything.  

Thursday, February 28, 2013


I have heard sacrifice defined as: 
Giving up something you want now for something better later on.

That sounds easier than it is.

It involves faith.

That my prayers are really being answered.

It involves hope.

That what comes next will really be better.

It involves charity.

The fact that I love God more than myself; so I will take what He wants for me instead of what I want.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Well, I made it through my blog marathon.  I posted for 26 days in a row.

And although I have only run a half-marathon, I think I experienced some of the same emotions during this writing period.

I started off feeling great about this goal that I had set for myself.  And it really didn't seem that hard.

As time went on, I started to realize how long this was really going to be and that it was going to take a lot of effort to do it.  But, I still believed as long as I just worked hard I would be ok.

But, then I got to a point where I just didn't know what to write about at all.  It was like hitting a wall.  And I couldn't have made it without having someone actually help me along (using my husband's speech).

It was then that I finally was able to see the end of the tunnel.  I realized that I could make it the last little bit.  And in some ways it almost got easy again.

English was never my favorite subject in school and I have never considered myself a writer.    But, as I looked back on my month's work, I realized that maybe I was.

I think this probably always happens when I am trying to make changes in my life or set goals for myself.  I get kind of excited at the beginning and have a lot of motivation to make it happen.

Then, once I'm in the middle of it I start to realize how much work it is really going to take.  This is where I have to decide to either give up or push through it.

And there is always the point when l realize that I just cannot do it on my own.  I need help.  This is when I have to turn it completely over to the Lord.

Finally, I realize that I am almost finished and at this point it has become so much a part of me that it's almost easy.  And I have added a new level to my life, to my faith.

But, the thing is, I am never really finished.  

There will always be things that I need and want to improve.  Attributes of Christ that I need to make more a part of me.

Realizing that there will be hard times and I'll need help and that it will eventually just become a part of me, will help me make it through.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I have a little problem.

I think I might be a little competitive.

I went on a library murder mystery date last night.

Our team (me and my husband) were given tasks to look data up in the library. As we did them we would get clues to help us solve the murder. 

Think Clue

Tasks like: translate these foreign words; find the book written by the author who wrote the "prairie trilogy"; where are these cities located, etc.

It was a lot of fun.

But, before we even got started, I was sizing up the competition.

I figured out who might be real competitors and who we could ignore.

I told my husband, that we didn't need to rush through, we could just enjoy our time together.

He was not the one with the problem.

I couldn't help myself; trying to get done before anyone else.

And we were.

And we won.

We easily had it solved before anyone.

It was kind of embarrassing.

I felt bad that I smashed all the other teams.

I'm sure that if someone had beat us I would have just shrugged it off and figured it was just some nice quality time together.

But we dominated and it felt good.

So why do I feel so guilty about it?

Friday, February 15, 2013


What got done yesterday:

Made 4 batches of sugar cookie dough and 2 batches of frosting.

Created a dozen valentine cards with scrapbook paper, glue and glitter.

Cut out the cookies, frosted them, and put them onto plates to deliver to friends and neighbors.

Delivered around 7 plates of cookies.

What didn't get done yesterday:

Any dishes.

Any laundry.

Any cleaning.

Any type of valentine for my man.

Hardly any school work.

Making dinner (we had pizza).

I thought it was a great day!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Define Yourself

How do I define myself?

I've been thinking about this question.

I came up with a lot of different ways that I can define myself.

And it seems that the way I define myself determines my priorities.

I also wonder (probably too much) how other people would define me when they look at my life.

Then, more importantly, I thought "how does God define me?"

He defines me in only one way: I am His child.

What does that mean?

What is the role of a child and what priorities should I have being defined as such?

I don't expect my children to be anyone but who they are.

I love them.  

I want the best for them.  

I want them to learn what they need to so they can be successful adults.

And although I expect them to be obedient, I don't stop loving them when they are not.

That is all that God expects of me.  

To love Him and be obedient.  

And He will always love me and want the best for me.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gospel Study in Our Home

I love getting ideas and details about how others study the gospel in their home.  There seems to be so many different choices in how to do it and its easy to get overwhelmed.  But I believe any good thing is good, and it's up to us to decide what works best in our own family.

Our gospel study has come along very slowly.  When my kids were very little, we used the Gospel Art Instruction kit.  We would look at a picture and learn the story.  We probably did this about once a week.  Then I would hang the picture up so we could be reminded about what we learned.

I also included "Read Scriptures" as one of our morning chores to be done before breakfast. The kids who couldn't read yet would bring me their book and I would have them repeat after me one scripture.  Once they could read on their own, they would choose how much to read.  (Although I tried to encourage them to not just open it up and read one verse of wherever they turned.)  I would suggest a column or a page or even a chapter, depending on their age.

I realized that they may not really be getting anything out of their reading but at least I hoped they were developing the habit.

My two oldest are now in seminary at school studying the New Testament.  They wake up on their own each morning at 6:00am and get ready and then read their scriptures.  They also use this time for working on their Personal Progress.

We have family scripture study at 7:00am.  We choose to sit around the kitchen table so people are less likely to lay down and read with their eyes closed. We have tried doing this at night, but it was much harder to get everyone together and quiet.  And even at this time, when my husband is sometimes already gone to work, we just do it without him. I think every family is different; the important thing for us is just consistency. (As a motivation to come to scripture study, if my kids miss it, they have to read whatever they missed, out loud to me before breakfast.)

We mostly just read the Book of Mormon about a chapter at a time.  We take turns reading around 3-4 verses out loud (depending on the length of the chapter).

We have tried reading other scriptures as a family, but we really need the blessings that are promised to us in this quote:
You will have the spirit of peace in your home I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase, mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to that counsel. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity -- the pure love of Christ -- will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.
Marion G. Romney,
Conference Report, April 1960, p.112 - p.113

And we definitely notice a difference when we read something other than the Book of Mormon.

We did take a few weeks recently, the last time we finished the Book of Mormon, to study Chapter 5 from Preach My Gospel.  I loved doing this because I actually felt like we were having discussions rather than just reading like usual.  In fact, sometimes I feel bad that we don't have more discussions, but I think it's kind of like going to church with young kids, it's not always about how much you're going to get out of it, but rather just developing the habit for later on.

Another thing we do is memorize scriptures.  I found this Charlotte Mason program to help memorize scriptures.  Mostly we work on the scriptures from seminary, but I add others in as needed.  We repeat our scriptures for the day before morning and evening family prayers.

For the current younger kids personal scripture study, I printed out these scripture prompts from the Book of Mormon reader.  We read the section in the reader and then talk about the question.  My 5 year old enjoys drawing pictures that go along with it.  But my 9 and 11 year old write their answers in a special scripture journal and then mark their regular scriptures as well.

For the kids still in primary, they can choose between this, or working in their Faith in God book.  (Although, my 11 year old has decided to read the Doctrine Covenants on his own.)  My 12 year old son works on his Duty to God during this time.  This is something I love about homeschooling, I don't feel like I have to rush past this to get them out the door.  We just have a set time where they work on it.

One thing that I have enjoyed doing in the past is our Sunday night conference talk.  Each child takes a turn choosing a talk from the most recent General Conference.  We either read it together or watch it on the computer.  This is actually a great time for discussion of principles.  And the kids are more invested in it when they are the one that picked it.

We also have Family Home Evening every Monday night.  Lately, these have mostly been about spending time together as a family.  Every once in a while, my husband or I will feel prompted that something in particular needs to be taught, but for the most part we just try and do something that will help unite us as a family.

I wish I could say that all of this happens every day perfectly.  It doesn't.  It's definitely a work in progress. And I'm sure that as our family changes and the world changes we'll have to adapt accordingly. 

What doesn't change is the Gospel. 

And my hope as a mother is to help my children learn it and love it as I do.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Arts & Economic Development

Because it's getting harder each day to think of something to write . . .

. . . and because I'm trying to spend more time making helping my kids get their schoolwork done . . .

. . . and because my husband is awesome . . .

I'm posting his talk to the Eastern Idaho Arts Council about the relationship between Art and Economic Development.

Thank you all for being here today. And special thanks to Dan and Kara for all the hard work they’ve put into today’s events. I’m here because I’m the Economic Development Director for Fremont County, and I’ve been asked to speak today on Art and Economic Development.

We know, from what we’ve seen in other places that art can be a good strategy for economic development. Some of the things that have worked are; murals, art in vacant storefronts, providing marketing help or business advice to local artists, and community arts events like gallery strolls, art walks, and rambles.

These things work for a variety of reasons, but they are good economic development tools because:
  • They are home-grown successes. They aren’t some cookie-cutter idea that an agency pulled off of the shelf and tried to force on a community. They are local ideas, our ideas – thought up right here in our community. They work because they fit.
  • They fit because they start small and then grow up until they are the right size for our community and its needs.
  • They also work because one of the amazing, if not magical, things about art is that art nurtures art. Investing time, effort and money into the arts not only provides enjoyment, expression and (hopefully) livelihood to some of our community, it also inspires new artists.
I want to talk some more about that last point, the nurturing power of art, but I’m done talking about economic development. Because, really, economic development is too narrow a subject. If we’re supporting art in order to expand our tax base, then we are working in the service of very small gods indeed.

I want to talk about art and community building. That is, I want to talk about the role and worth of art, and a community of artists, in a healthy and vibrant community.

Now, lots of people over the years have talked about the value of art as public expression or because of the diversity it fosters. I don’t need to re-say what any of those people have said. Also, Dan and Kara are going to talk about art and community in a minute, and I don’t want to take away from anything that they will say. So I’m going to limit my comments on the worth of art to two brief points.

First, any community with a healthy arts scene is strengthened by the way artists work. That is, artists make their living by reaching out to others and building connections. If you have art in your community, you have people who are actively building ties and strengthening the community. In a modern economy that often replaces personal, local relationships with bandwidth and global contacts, you need as many people as possible to be getting together and talking about stuff right here at home.

Second, let’s go back to that idea that one of the things that makes art powerful is that art nurtures art. It happens that, because of the way we human creatures are wired, before there can be art, there must be artistic thoughts. This is the particular value of art that I really want to emphasize today.

Art nurtures art by fostering, inspiring, enticing the sort of thoughts that lead to more art. That thinking, that spark of creativity, adds value to the quality of life of the whole community, even if, in a given instance, it doesn’t lead all the way to the creation of an actual piece of art.

That spur to creative thinking is capable of adding more – of everything really – to those communities that enjoy it. More art, of course, but also more ideas all around. More active citizens, richer democracy, more friends made, more problems solved and better solutions to those problems, too.

That’s why we need art. We think better when art is part of our lives. When we think better, we are better people. And better people make better communities. So I wasn’t kidding when I said that economic development is too small a reason to make or support art. In fact, if I had any advice about art and economic development, it would be to just do art and let the economy ride on its coattails.
Thank you.

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Older Brother

Do you know what makes me happy?

The fact that my brother reads my blog.

Even if he does make fun of me sometimes and posts snarky comments.

I have always wanted to be just like him.

When I served a mission in California, I had a chance to work with the Laotion people for a short time.

We were visiting this one family and the husband kept looking at my name tag that said, "Sister Banks".

They had been baptized a while ago, but hadn't been to church for a long time.

I asked where they were baptized and they told me Seattle, WA. 

Well, that just happened to be where my brother served his mission 9 years earlier.

I asked what missionaries taught them and the husband said, "Elder Banks".

I couldn't believe it! 

My brother had taught this family the gospel and helped them be baptized.  (He also translated in the hospital when their youngest daughter was born.  I think they even said that he helped name her.)

Now here I was, helping this family, just like my brother had done.

It was as if I was being given the chance to help my brother finish what he had started.

I felt so close to my brother and so much joy.

I have another "Older Brother" who I want to be like more than anything .

And I have the chance to help Him in the work that He has already started.

If I want to feel close to Him then I need to serve those He loves.

And if it brought me so much joy to help my older brother, it's hard to imagine the joy that will come when I do His work.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Being Rooted (for)

When I was a kid, every Monday night when we would gather as a family, one of us would have the job to tell a story about one of our ancestors.

We had a drawer full of personal histories to choose from.

There were several stories that got repeated over and over again and became our favorite. And even though we had never met these ancestors we felt like we knew them through these stories.

When we got older, our parents compiled a notebook with these stories, and a few others from our pioneer history, and gave them to each of us to use in our Family Home Evening.

We love doing this in my family and now my kids have their own favorite stories that they share over and over again.

My parents have continued to put together histories of different ancestors and give us copies through the years.

A few years before my Grandpa died, my Dad put together his Dad's personal history in a book format.  It was a huge work of love and he had it published. 

It was so fun to learn new things about my grandpa and I felt so much closer to him.

Having caught the "book publishing" bug, my Dad decided he wanted to put together all of our old family history stories into a book format. 

He and my Mom gathered all of the old stories we used as children and found some new ones.  They even put stories from our own family growing up.

Each of my children just got their own copy as well as a copy of their great-grandfather's book!

For Christmas one year my father-in-law gave us a journal from his side of the family. As I was reading through some of his family's history, I thought that some of the stories sounded very familiar.

I wondered if our ancestors knew each other.

Then sometime around our second or third year of marriage my husband and I were taking a family history class and we came across a line that didn't branch like the others.  We realized that we shared a common ancestor.  (I believe it is our 5th great-grandparents.  Which, I think means we are 5th cousins.)

One of the histories that my mom put together actually included stories of this common ancestor. 

I was so thankful that I had been given information about these ancestors so that I felt like I knew them.

In fact, I had this vision of them in heaven; my ancestors and my husbands, looking down on us and celebrating that their descendants had gotten together. It seemed as if all of their work/history was being combined into our family. 

What a powerful thing to feel that we have our own (not so) little cheering section up in heaven rooting for us to honor their name and continue the work that they started here.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Go, Fight, Win!

I am in the midst of a battle.

It seems like every time I try and be a little bit better I end up taking 3 steps back.

It's as if Satan is fighting me hard to not make any good changes in my life.

And these aren't big changes.

These are the regular things that I should be doing anyway.

Saying my prayers, studying the scriptures. Stuff I've been doing forever.

But, sometimes the habit dies for a little bit and I have to get back into it.

And just when I think, "ok, I'm making some good progress here", bam! I'm hit with something that makes life seem hard.

And not even really hard stuff.  Just sicknesses, money issues, food not turning out right. (First world problems I know!)

On my mission I was taught that whenever I have a big spiritual experience, I should be prepared for Satan to come right back at me to get me down.

Or that Satan will increase his temptations just before a really big blessing comes.

Now, I'm not tempted by bad things, but time management, (ie, making time to do what is right), or self-worth issues seem to be my temptations.

Here's where the battle comes in.

If I don't do anything, I don't feel great, but its not horrible either.

When I make an effort then Satan hits harder.

There are times that I wonder if its worth the fight.

I'm sure that I could go on with my life, wasting time, overeating, etc. and Satan would just back off.

But then I'm not really progressing or receiving needed blessings by being close to God.

So it's a choice.

Take life easy and never feel fulfilled.

Or fight "like a dragon" to get past this wall that seems to be continually placed before me.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Teach, Train, Practice

I've been reading a new parenting book that has helped me focus on the purpose of teaching kids how to work.

I've mostly made my kids work because there's just a lot of work to be done in a family of 9.

I also knew that I wanted them to have the habit of hard work for when they got older.

But I'm learning that it's not just about work.  It's also about training my kids to do certain things.

Instead of just saying "go vacuum your room", I have to first teach them how to do it.

Then I have to follow this with a training period where I am make sure that they are doing it right.

Later, I get to give them lots of practice in vacuuming.

Here's how that looks like in my home right now:

  • The 3 year old is in the midst of "practicing" telling when he has to use the bathroom.  From there we'll move on to some more training, then practicing in that particular area.
  • My 5 year old is learning how to make her own breakfast.  We've got the toast thing down and now she's moved up to microwaved oatmeal.  I walked her through the steps and then I shadowed her as she did it.  Now she can pretty much do it on her own.  But I also have her make her little brother's oatmeal, too, for practice.
  • My 9 year old is learning how to make salads.  At first it was just tearing up lettuce and washing it.  Then we moved on to cutting up tomatoes and cucumbers.  Now, I am putting her in charge of choosing the salads she wants to make with dinner, as well.  (I hope she'll be more likely to eat the salad if she's making it.) 
  • I know we're kind of late to the game here, but I'm working on general hygiene with my 11 year old boy.  Things like the proper way to clean yourself in the shower; how to put on deodorant; nail care; and other bathroom issues.  I never really thought about actually teaching this stuff. I guessed that they would eventually just figure it out on their own.  But, I think I read that it actually takes 8 teaching times to learn a skill.
  • My almost 13 year old boy wants/needs to learn to wake up on his own.  Right now, he's doing a good job of waking up the first time I tell him to get up, but we're going to get an alarm and then see if we can figure out a consequence/motivation for him to do it on his own. Then he can practice this for the rest of his life.
  • My 14 year old daughter is going to learn how to iron.  Since she's gone to school all day, this will be a weekend training thing.  But, then she'll get lots of practice every Saturday for at least a few months.
  • Finally, my 16 year old wants to learn how to make Sunday dinners.  She already knows how to do most stuff in the kitchen so I think this means letting her do it all on her own.  But, it will take some patience on my part to let her.

That's really the whole thing.  It would be much easier if I just continued to do these things myself instead of walking my kids through the steps over and over again.

But I want my children to be responsible adults with the necessary skills to survive thrive.

Having this sense of purpose to all the work I do, helps me feel good about being deep in the trenches of motherhood.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


It's my 5 year old's birthday and she's having a hard day.

She stayed up late last night because she was too excited to sleep.

We hung some balloons up this morning and cooked her choice of breakfast (sausage, bacon, biscuits, eggs).

She opened her present.

And, now, "this is the worst birthday ever!"

She has been so excited for her birthday and I guess had a certain vision of how it was supposed to go.

Last year she had a small friend party with balloons and games.
And she's been invited to other kids' parties that were really cool.

Apparently, she hasn't noticed that we don't do parties every year.

Or really make any kind of huge deal out of birthdays.

I kind of feel bad for her.

I think it's one of those, "you'll thank me later" things.

Because, I'm just preparing her for when she becomes a Mom!  
(insert hearty guffaw here)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Daily Scrum

My husband got this idea from some managerial techniques that he had read about.

Basically, you get together and tell everyone what you have accomplished that day.  And then what you plan on doing next.

Our idea for starting it came from the fact that some of our kids complain that we make them do everything! all the time!

But, then sometimes, when we ask them what they have done that day they'll say, nothing!

So, sometime at dinner, we ask them two questions, "what did you get done today? what will you get done tomorrow?"

They don't really want to say nothing because then they can't complain later that we make them do everything!

I thought that the main benefit from doing this would be that my kids would be more motivated to get stuff done.

And there has been some of that.

What I didn't realize, was how helpful it would be for me.

Sometimes by the end of the day, when my house is a disaster;
and there's laundry to be folded;
and dishes to be done;
and a million other things that I didn't get done;
I wonder, "what did I do all day long"

But, as I go through "the scrum" I realize, "wow, I did accomplish some stuff today."

And it's actually some pretty important stuff like teaching my children, and feeding them, and loving on them.   
And because I feel better about myself, I'm more likely to get that other stuff done.  

It's always better to focus on the positives rather than dwelling on negatives.

Hooray for Daily Scrum!


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