Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy Birthday Smiley!!!


I cannot believe Smiley is 9 today!!!  Congratulations!  Isn't it so very cool to have your birthday on New Year's Eve?  He was due the week of Christmas and then he was a week late!  It is NOT cool to have your eight baby be an entire week late.  None of my babies were late, except Smiley!  I guess everyone has to have their own time table, huh?

This week we have had his grandparents visiting.  It would be a lot of fun, except Grandpa got sick the day after he arrived and has been in bed ever since.  We thought they were going home right away, so we celebrated Smiley's birthday on Saturday so they could be here.  At our house, the birthday person chooses dinner and dessert.  So last Saturday, we had pizza, soda, and chocolate cake, all from the store, and none homemade.

 This morning, Smiley woke up and said, "I think we should celebrate my birthday again today."

"Smiley, everyone celebrates your birthday because it is New Year's Eve!  Everyone is going to have a big party."

His response:  "Then I think we should have cake."

OK, Dad and I can manage that.  The other exciting thing for Smiley today is stay-up night.  Another tradition at our house, when you turn nine, you get to have an extra hour to stay up on Fridays, and you can watch things on TV that little children (under 9) cannot.  He is  pretty excited about that part.

The difficult part for us is that Spike will not stay in bed if no one is in the room.  Now we do not have anyone else in there for an hour on Fridays.  That will be a lovely adjustment!  I might actually have to train him to stay in bed!  (After training eight of them, I have been super lax in this particular area with this particular child.)  Drat!

I realized the other day, that we are no longer a family with little children.  Yes, we have one, but that is very different than a family that has most of the children under 10.  Most of our children are 9 and older.  The house functions so differently.  I really like it!  We are just one year away from having seven of the kids in or through the youth program.  Crazy!

Anyway, happy birthday Smiley!  We love you, and your very forth-right attitude!
Love Mom and Dad

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hey! That's my spot!


Do your children have 'spots' at your house?

Let me explain.  The other day as I was busy typing up our Christmas letter on the computer, my children were sporadically placed throughout the family room, reading books, watching TV, working on their computer (big kids are home), or whatever.  Someone got up to do something, a younger brother jumped into his place and began reading his book.  The person who got up, returned to the room and immediately complained. 

"Mom, would you tell [insert sibling here] to get out of my spot?!  I left for [whatever, usually justified by the words 'doing what you told me to'].  And while I was gone, [said sibling] took my spot."

To which the sibling who theived the seat replies, "Well, I am only sitting here because [insert a different sibling's name here] is sitting in my spot!"

I tell the first complaining sibling to find another seat and just deal with it.  A completely different sibling leaves the room.  Complaining sibling steals the seat of the leaving sibling.  When she returns, the above conversation happens again.

As we are discussing the merits of the arguments, the baby comes in and begins pushing Smiley out of his chair and says, "Hey! That's mine spot!!"

Seriously?  To which I say, "Get the baby another chair.  Everyone else, practice your negotiation and conversational skills and work for your place.  I have to get back to this letter."  And I did.

Does this happen at your house or only mine?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

I had the thought this year that I would post our family Christmas letter on my blog.  I don't even know if my friends actually read it, and I know that most of my family doesn't, except my very favorite Aunt Janell! (Love you Auntie :-)  And I can actually say that because no one else is reading it....

So, here we go.

2013 has been a very emotional and difficult year for me personally.  I have learned that I am not as nice as I thought I was, I still really stuff my negative emotions and try to eat them away (guess I will keep working on that for 2014), I have rejection issues, and I don't always make wise or good choices when I am sad and disappointed in my life or myself.  Lovely, huh?  The biggest issue I learned that I still have a lot of personal and emotional work to do to bring myself into harmony with my desires and beliefs.  I still have places where repentance and the atonement need application.  It is so much nicer and easier to just believe that I am basically a good person with no need for change, which is obviously not true, or I would no longer be on earth.   So apparently there is still a lot of work to do.

My sweet husband is my ever faithful companion in the process who still loves me and cherishes me even when I make mistakes.  That was a new revelation to me because all of these years, I have been hoping that he wouldn't see any of my deficits and I could hide my mistakes from him.  That of course, is just ridiculous, but it is what I was hoping for.  Alas, our relationship in 2013 is finally at a place where I can admit that I really messed something up.  Guess what?!!  He has not disowned me or ever once even hinted that he is horribly disappointed.  He just listened to my complaints, hugged me and discussed with me the doctrinal principles that we try to teach our children in the process of helping them to learn to use their agency.  Who would've thought I still needed to learn a few things too?!  Go figure.

My oldest child, Slim, reminds me constantly that I am not getting any younger as he continues to jump through hoops and reach milestones that I never imagined would actually come to pass, not because he wouldn't or couldn't do it, but simply because I was never going to be old enough for him to do those things.  This coming May 2014, he will graduate from his university.  His applications are in for grad school, and we are all anxiously awaiting the path he will take.

My second oldest, Spanky, has been dealing with dating drama.  He really didn't date much in high school, because there really isn't anyone here to be dating and the distance makes it difficult.  He saved up all that adolescent drama for his young adult life, post mission.  I won't go into any of the details, but just know that Drew and I have been laughing hysterically as we listen to his stories and perspective and the lessons learned.  It has been quite entertaining.  Then to have his oldest brother tease him and poke and prod him about sharing information and details with him has been pretty funny.  It is really nice to see that now that they do not live in the same house, their relationship has grown into one of respect and admiration.  Spanky has gained enough self-confidence that his brother's relentless teasing nature no longer hurts his feelings.  Yea!  Growth!

Our missionaries are making arrangements for the home phone calls for Christmas day---TOMORROW!!  We are so very excited for that and are so very grateful for their service and love.  They are both doing well!  Tammy is in Wisconsin!  Scuff is still in Colorado...still waiting for his visa to Brazil.  The only issue, is that we packed him for Brazil, short sleeved shirts and slacks, not even a jacket on the list, but he is serving in the Colorado snow.  If his visa does come through at any point, he will travel from winter in the Rockies to summer on the equator--quite a shift.  I imagine he'll mail a few things home, like gloves, hats, and a coat.  We are so very blessed and love them dearly!

Sport has been trying to do all of those things necessary for college bound seniors.  His college applications are in.  He finished the work of his Eagle Scout project and now has to complete the paperwork.  Scholarship paper work and FAFSA stuff all are on his agenda.  I think he has been my most overwhelmed by the amount of extra things he is required to do to go where he wants to go.  But he is almost finished.

Speedy has traded the relaxation of a home schooling environment for the constant demands of every teacher in each subject believing that their class is the only one that should be important and require every ounce of the student's attention and effort.  To say he has been stressed, would be an understatement.  However, he is also really, really enjoying having friends around again.  Our two years of home schooling were exactly what his self-esteem needed.  He grew in a well-rounded and wholesome environment that has allowed him to successfully combat the experiences of high school.

Sun is in the middle of that process.  She is learning about herself and the world around her.  We are only one semester into the process, but I think slowing down and listening to her feelings and emotions will help her to gain confidence in her abilities and personality.  At first she was very concerned that she would not have the social relationships and would miss her friends.  Recently, she told me that she was glad she was at home, and she has enjoyed it.  We are going to have to really buckle down this next semester and work harder.  She does great the first month and not so much the next two months and then has to pull it out in the fourth month.  I had another child who functioned like that.  It is a process of teaching them how to manage that part of their personality so it can function properly in the world around them.  That is one of our goals for 2014.

Shorty is completely pre-teeny!  Oh my goodness.  At the end of the school year 2013, there was only the hint that it was coming because he was getting broader, everywhere.  By the end of 2013, the attitude has kicked in---super emotional and tons of drama over minor issues.  It isn't anything his brothers or sister have not done, but the magnitude of it always surprises me.  He is happy that his brothers are home for the Christmas holiday and I think he is feeling more accepted and actually has someone at home who will go and do things with him, which helps the attitude.  Plus he is packing away the food, which has been completely contrary to his nature.  I know the growth spurt is on the horizon, probably in the next four months.........I'd better pull out the bigger clothes.

Smilely's cognition has recently changed.  His brain is more capable of analyzing and thinking logically.  I love it when they make that change.  There is so much more you can discuss and reason about.  Now, all of the children, except Spike, have reached that developmental milestone.  This summer we reached another milestone, all of the children, except Spike, are swimming.  That was a major goal for the year.  I had three children who were not swimming and it was really bothering me.  We had a friend move into a complex with a swimming pool and they invited us to swim with them weekly.  Within the first two weeks of swimming, the first child took off.  By the end of the first month, the second child was swimming confidently, and by the end of the summer, Smiley was swimming too! 

The important thing about swimming was what it taught me. I am not a swimmer.  I can do it, but I do not like it and I do not do it well.  I was not confident in my ability to teach my children to swim because of my perceived incompetence at the activity.  Throughout our experience, I learned that I am the best teacher for my children.  Not because I know the subject matter best, but because I know my children best.  I know when to push them and when to back off.  I know when they are at their best and when they need to rest.  I may not know the best techniques or be an expert on the information, but I am an expert on my children.  I am the best teacher because of our relationship.  That was news to me too.

Then of course, there is Spike.  What a joy he is---so much work, but so much joy!  He is my very most high maintenance child, with the most drama ever!  He likes things his way.  He has taken over all of the door responsibilities in our home.  If anyone needs to go in or out, it is his job to open the door.  If you open the door for yourself to go out, he cries and yells at you and insists that you come back in so he can open the door.  If you come into the house and he is in the front room, he insists you go back out, knock, and then he will let you in.  If you do not knock, he will not answer the door.  Sure it is cute, but we cannot always bow to him or he will become a dictator and always insist on his way, which he is obviously already struggling with.  We went through a little phase where he would not change his clothes, especially if it meant getting dressed for church.  Knock on wood, I think we have bypassed that phase.  For 2014, our goal is potty-training.  Wish us luck.  Then, once again, all of the children will be using the toilet.  Hip, hip hooray!

That, for us, my dear friends, is 2013.  Have a great Merry Christmas tomorrow!  Remember that we celebrate because we love our Savior and hopefully with our annual remembrance, our hearts will be more focused and dedicated to serving Him in the coming year and changing those things about ourselves that bring our behavior closer to His.  Merry Christmas friends!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas to me

LOOK!!!  Drew got me a Christmas present!!!   A blue BYU Santa hat!!!  I am so excited and sporting it today! :-)  Sorry I don't have a photo of me....maybe Sport will help me with that later. :-)

I love Christmas!!

Tomorrow my crew starts arriving.  Blogging will probably be pretty scarce over the holidays!! 

Have a GREAT couple of weeks, enjoy your family and remember our Savior Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ugly behavior from Mom.

Have you ever had to come face to face with yourself and really evaluate your behavior?  And then you see how truly ugly it is??
I kind of had to do that yesterday.  I think I woke up a little grouchy.  I have obviously been feeling overwhelmed with life details.  I help everyone manage their emotions, drama, and details, but I do not take enough time out for my own emotions, drama, and details.

Last week was bad, in the 'busy' department.  We knew this week was going to be bad.  Monday Spike woke up with some kind of stomach bug--puking and diarrhea, so there was all of that extra laundry, extra trip to the grocery store, extra cleaning of floors and people.  Sun is trying to finish off all of her extra projects and finals for homeschooling.  Company is coming on Friday, so we have been planning extra cleaning but that isn't happening and then there is all of the extra projects and field trips at work and school that need you to bring in just one thing.  (Seriously?  For me this week that has meant:  marshmallows, two gifts for the gift exchanges, making bread sticks, two movie tickets---just this week!  And three basketball practices, 4 surprise visitors, 1 planned visitor and today is only Wednesday!)  I am beginning to see why I have been feeling overwhelmed.
how I felt.

Tuesday morning, my sweetheart pulled me aside to say, "I am having a really hard time.  Thank you for doing this, but I need that."  I heard, "You aren't doing it right again.  Quit doing all these things I said were important yesterday, and do this instead."  Then, same morning, I get a phone call from one of my emotionally high maintenance children abroad telling me his grocery shopping list and menu desires at 7:30 a.m. when I am late getting people out the door.  There were also extra requests from my sweetheart and the children, "Please proofread this or that, which needs to be turned in today."  I thought I was taking it all in stride.  I was not.

Drew could tell I was irritated.  On the drive to school and work, he asked if I was alright and I told him I was just frustrated.  He took the opportunity to try and tease me back into a better mood.

That was a mistake.
His efforts to calm me down

He kept poking me (literally) while I was driving.

"Is this bothering you?!"

"Yes," with eye contact.

"Should I stop it?"

"Yes," again with eye contact, while driving.

He still kept poking me.  Then he put his finger on my nose.  (Now, this entire interaction took maybe a minute, 90 seconds, tops!)

But internally, I hit the roof.  Externally, I calmly said, "How about I pull the car over and walk home and you drive the boys to school?"

"Great!  Ya!"

So I did.  That was it.  I pulled the car over, put it in park, turned off the ignition, took the keys, got out and started walking home.

I made it four blocks before I ran into our car at a cross street of my homeward path.  They opened the door for me.

"Has your brisk morning walk cooled off your temper?"

My behavior so stunned their sensitivities, they were able to find humor in the situation and their laughter and smiles softened my heart.  I too found the situation slightly silly and amusing.  I got into the car and we discussed the situation later.

I guess after I pulled the car over and got out, Sport said, "Hey!?  What just happened??"

Drew:  "I guess your mother is angry about something and is more upset than I thought she was."

Sport:  "Well, FIX IT!" and they came to pick me up.

In discussing the morning's activity, Drew asked me to explain why I was so upset.  I related the stress I have been feeling, and the lack of support and cooperation I feel.  My sweetheart said, "Carin, we have had no idea you have been feeling this way.  You didn't bother to say, 'Hey, this is a bad morning, back off.' "  Drew has been feeling like things are seriously improving in our relationship.  I have not been so sure.  I know he is happier.  There is serious opposition going on here.

I recognized that because I struggle to trust others with my feelings, I often don't share them, even with the people I live with.  I mask them and hide them, looking on the outside like all is well and under control.  Internally however, every carbohydrate in the house and I have become fast friends, sharing secret rendezvous.  The scale validates our relationship.  I hate that I use food to manage emotions.  So irritating.

I guess I should just be really grateful that I am not using more destructive things to manage my emotions.

On the bright side of things, Spike got up this morning and said, "Mom, my tummy feels better."  No one else has thrown up yet.......
so we shall see........

Monday, December 16, 2013

Locks of Hair

One of my dear friends spoke in church on Sunday.  He told us a story I wanted to relate because it was so very sweet and personal.

His grown son, Jack (name has been changed), had recently returned home from prison.  They were very excited to have him home and grateful he was coming.  When he arrived, he wore his hair very long, down to his waist.

His father saw this as a continued sign of his rebelliousness and asked him to have it cut.  He refused.  It was a warm contention for several weeks and months.  Jack's older brothers tried to tell their father what Jack's hair meant to him.  They explained that in prison, Jack was told where to sleep, when to sleep, what to wear, when to eat, where to eat, what to eat, when and if he could exercise and what that looked like.  The only freedom Jack had while in prison, was what his hair looked like.  So to Jack, he could not give up his hair as it represented his only freedom while he was in prison.

Their father, as the boys were young, always had control of their hair.  He kept it off their ears and collars.  He usually gave them a buzz-cut or a flat top.  As they became teenagers, the father had to let go of complete control and they agreed to let their mother cut their hair to their liking, however, if the father did not approve, he had veto power and everyone knew Dad would then cut their hair as he had in the past.  So the hair issue, to the father, was a big deal.

When Christmas morning rolled around and the father opened his gift, inside the small silver box, he found a lock of hair.  At first, he did not know what to make of it, but as he looked at Jack, he noticed that Jack had cut his hair.  His first thought was, 'Yes!  I won!!'  But then he related, "My thoughts should have been: 'Jack gave me the only thing he had to give, his hair. My son gave me himself.' "  Then he asked each of us to think about what we could give that would constitute the giving of ourselves.

Now my friend's story is made more poignant if you know the rest of their story.  My friend's son is a returned missionary.  He injured his back, had a bad surgery, and got hooked on pain killers which led to further drug use, and eventually his time in prison.  He had been married and divorced and had two or three children who are now young adults. 

I was living near my friend when his son returned home from prison.  I was wary of my interactions with Jack, but I soon leaned Jack had a heart of gold.  He loved people, all people.  He was kind to them and treated them with respect.  He had a great sense of humor. 

We live on the corner of a busy street.  People come around the corner of our street pretty quickly.  As we were getting out of the car, on the street side, in front of our house one day, a car came screeching around the corner and honked its horn right behind us, then pulled up in front of us and stopped.  It was Jack, who was laughing hysterically.  He had just frightened the snot out of his Bishop.  Jack was sweet and adorable, even considering his past struggles.

Last year, Jack died.  We all mourned.  I am sure my dear friends, whose baby he is, miss him dearly.  In fact, I know they do.  He died in their home, his home.  I miss Jack too.

I also know that one day, because of the atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we will see Jack again.  His parents will again embrace him and love him.  He will be free from the pains and sins that beset his mortal body and he will be whole, maybe even with long hair.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ra Ra RARARA....Goooooooooooo Cougars!

If you are a BYU fan, this is a must see!!  I watched it this morning!

Here's the email that came with the video:

BYU Students Show World Wide Cougar Pride, Win National Film Competition

What happens when you put advertising, film, animation, and music students together and ask them to show why BYU has the most loyal fans on the planet? Well, Hyundai did just that and challenged 25 traditional football powerhouse schools to pitch a film concept to best demonstrate their fan loyalty. The Laycock Center for Creativity and Collaboration answered the call, won $10,000 to make a film, along with six other finalists, and then just won the grand prize in this national competition and an additional $10,000. What happened when the students put this together you might ask? After watching the video you just might say, "Magic Happens!"

Please watch, like, and share the video. We hope we made you proud to be a loyal cougar, true blue through and through.

Hyundai | Lens of Loyalty | BYU

It made me cry! 


Friday, December 13, 2013


Tonight is our ward Christmas party and as luck would have it (or providence, maybe) I am in charge of the program for the third year in a row!  When I found out our Bishop had assigned the Primary to be in charge of the organization of the ward Christmas party, I just gave him that look.  'What?'

You realize that last year you assigned the Relief Society to be in charge of the ward Christmas party and at that time I was in charge of that organization's planning committee, so last year I was in charge of the ward Christmas party?  And the year before I was in charge of the Christmas party by special assignment?

He started laughing.  I didn't think it was funny.

I told him that if next year he assigns the ward Christmas party to the organization I am working in he is in trouble.

But here is the funny part about this year.  We are doing the program Misty put out a little while ago.  I have been trying to request one of the parts to be assigned to a specific young adult in our ward.  He is relatively new and from Utah.  I looked up his phone number on our ward directory on lds.org.  It was a Utah phone number.  That seemed reasonable.  I called the number.  A man answered.  It sounded like hospital stuff in the background, which is where this man works.  I explained who I was and asked if he was attending the ward Christmas party.  I could not understand his response.  Three times I asked him to repeat himself.

Then he said, "Oh, you are having trouble understanding me because of my accent.  I am wondering where the party is.  Is it at your apartment?  I can come if you give me a ride."

"If I give you a ride?"

"Yes, it is cold outside."

At this point, I was feeling uncomfortable.  I didn't remember the man I was calling to have an accent.  And I was pretty sure he had a car, but not positive.  And I live within walking distance to my building, and most in the ward know that.  And hello, it is the WARD Christmas party!!  You think I am hosting that at MY apartment, when I live in a house and am mother to nine children??!!!  So I told him I would call him back.

"Ya, ya, text me."

I did not.  I decided, once again, to use the ward website, although it has not been very helpful so far.  I decided to make my request through email.  So I sent the following:

"If that was you on the phone, I am sorry for the confusion.  I didn't remember you having an accent.

OK...next.  The ward Christmas party is this Friday at the church @ 6 p.m.  I need a reader for the program and was wondering if you would be willing to be one of our readers??!!

Let me know if that will or will not work for you, as I will need to find someone else, if it is not possible for you.  Also, the program is easy enough that we will not need a rehearsal.....we will just read it straight from the script and I will get you a copy today or tomorrow.


No response.

The next morning, unfortunately, I sent a text to the previous cell number.  "I sent you an email yesterday.  Did you get it?  I sent it to your hotmail account."

Response:  "Nope.  You have my hotmail account?"

Me:  "I think so.  Is it......."

Response:  "No, hehehe, that's not me.  Where did you get that?"

Me:  "On the church's website."

Me:  "What is your email address?"

Response:  "claudethewise......"

What??!!  The guy I am calling is Ross.  Claude the wise??  Who is that?!!  Oh well.  People are a little strange these days so I forwarded the above email to the new address.

No response.

The next morning I pray, "Please let me figure this program thing out.  I really need to know if I have a reader or if I need to find someone else, not to mention now, if this isn't Ross, some strange person has my cell number and my personal email."

Later that evening, I received a text response:  "Hey, sorry I think you made a mistake.  This is not brother Ross.  Try to contact that person with email you found on that church website.  Sorry."

Finally, honesty!  Yesterday morning I just called one of my awesome stand-by's and asked him to read the part.  He said yes...and I KNEW it was his phone number.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Meeting in Council for the eternal lives of our children

I went to a training meeting the other night, quite by accident.  I took my husband to the meeting.  He was suppose to be there.  My intent was to just sit in the foyer and work on other things.  It was a 20 minute drive to the meeting, so I figured that we would at least have 20 minutes to the meeting and 20 minutes home from the meeting to be together.  Sometimes you just have to take what you can get.  So I didn't even dress for the meeting because I wasn't attending the meeting.

As I sat in the foyer, with the chapel doors open and the microphone on, I could hear the entire meeting.  It was amazing!!  And a sweet gift extended to me from a loving Heavenly Father who knows my heart.  Basically, the idea in a nutshell was, our Heavenly Father's work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  Our Savior came to earth to do the will of the Father, which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  We are commanded to become like our Savior who came to earth to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  Therefore, our work is like unto the Father's and our Savior's by doing our part to bring to pass the immortality and eternal lives of those of our brethren and sisters who are around us, and ourselves.

One of the ideas discussed was how often we should have council meetings.  (This meeting was referring to a specific council, but in general council meetings occur whenever any of the auxiliary presidencies meet: Elders, High Priests, Relief Society, Sunday School, Primary, Young Men's or Young Women's; ward councils usually consist of the bishopric, auxiliary presidents, and missionaries, and there are various stake and regional councils, all the way up to the First Presidency;  but also, our families sit in council whenever we meet as a group or even when a mother and father sit to discuss ideas and thoughts about their family....so different councils convene for different purposes and their meeting frequency varies based on the circumstances they are considering.) 

As I pondered the question and listened to the Area Seventy, who was presiding at the meeting, share his thoughts, I realized, Lucifer also has planning meetings.  In fact, I once heard Elder Russell M. Nelson refer to Lucifer as an insomniac. 

Then, this morning, in my scripture studies, I read of how Amalikiah uses his influence as king to plan the destruction of the Nephites.  (In the chapters before, he plots and plans and becomes the king of the Lamanites, a very intriguing story and a must read for the back ground of my comments--start in Alma Chapter 46.)  While Amalikiah is very intelligent and extremely persuasive in a wicked direction to the Lamanites, Moroni was making preparations on the other side.

Verse 7, Chapter 48 reads:  Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.

Isn't that amazing?  Moroni was making plans and preparing the minds of the people.  It goes on to say all the temporal plans he made for their impending war and to protect themselves from their enemies.  But as I thought about that, and the comments from that meeting, I realized that as parents and leaders, we also have to be making plans.  We cannot just sit around and hope that our weekly meeting attendance will be sufficient.  Our hearts and minds have to be constantly engaged in the process of saving souls.  Why?  Because our enemy IS that engaged in their destruction.  He is having daily, even hourly planning meetings for our destruction and the destruction of our children, and our lives and our liberties.  He is distracting us from the things that are of eternal importance and significance.  And by keeping us distracted, he is then free from resistance to implement his plan and impose his conditions upon us robbing us of our agency.

As parents and leaders, are we preparing the minds of our people, our children, our primary class, our youth classes, our adult classes, are we preparing their minds to be obedient and faithful unto the Lord?  Are we helping them to combat the forces that seek to take away their liberties and freedoms and even their very eternal lives?  What are we actively doing to participate in the work of salvation and how often are we planning for their success and then implementing that plan?

Here are some other verses to consider:
14  Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.
15 And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them when to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger.
16 And also, that God would make known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, in resisting iniquity.

I love these verses because I believe them and have experienced them, not in temporal warfare, but in the spiritual warfare we are engaged in everyday whether we acknowledge it or not.  One of the prayers of my heart is that I will see the weeds of sin growing in the lives of my children.  What happens in a garden when the weeds are left unattended??  It is no different in our spiritual lives.  Weeds grow there too, weeds of sin.  If we pluck them out when they are young and tender, they come right out.  Their roots are not deep.  The thorns have not developed and they are not yet producing seed, and they are not choking the plant and robbing it of the nutrition it needs.  If we are diligent in our spiritual gardens, the weeds of sin will never develop any fruit.  As a mother, watching over the very souls of men and women raised in my home, I want to be a diligent gardener.  I want those weeds of sin pulled out early and often.  I do not want to give them any time to develop.  I want them out!

I know Heavenly Father can help me to see them.  Just like Moroni's and the Nephites' faith was that God would tell them where to go and what to do to defend themselves, I know He will tell me what to do and how to do it to help get those weeds of sin out of the lives of my children.  He will tell me how to preserve their spiritual lives and help motivate them to chose and desire righteousness.  He will help me to combat my enemies if I will choose to be righteous, remain faithful and be obedient to His commandments.  And that will happen as I prepare my mind to be faithful and sit in council with my husband to discuss and plan for the eternal lives and immortality of our children.

And then this verse:
17  Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, if all men (and women) had been and were and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never (emphasis added) have power over the hearts of the children of men.

Power over their hearts, that is what we are fighting for.

Friday, December 6, 2013

I wuvf it!!!

Spike, Spike has been so excited about everything lately.  A few weeks ago, he started telling us he wuvfed (loved) stuff.  Here are a few of our favorites:
  • I wuvf smoovies!
  • I wuvf water (in the bathtub)!
  • I wuvf tato soup!
  • I wuvf ice cream!
  • I wuvf Bubble Guppies (TV show)!
  • I wuvf nursy cass (nursery class at church)!
  • Dinner.....I wuvf it!
  • I wuvf cookie dough!
  • I wuvf chocat! (chocolate)
We just needed to document these for posterity :-)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Trust in the Lord

 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
I think that scripture is so difficult, yet so very, very important!  There have been a couple of times where I have received information through revelation.  I KNOW I have received revelation.  But then, things don't work out the way I think they should.  I'll give you a couple of examples.
There have been times when I have had the impression that I was going to receive a specific calling.  It wasn't something I was hoping for or dreaming about.  In fact, having the calling was frightening to me.  So when I had the impressions (because it happened more than once) that a specific calling was coming my way, I prayed diligently.  I sought the will of the Lord.  I asked who should serve with me (some were callings that I would need counselors for).  I prayed for direction in how to manage the organization.  I went through the process as if I had already been called and then just didn't say anything to anyone.  But the callings never came.
The first time it happened I was really, really confused.  I wasn't angry, just confused.  I wondered why I had the thought that calling was coming, when it didn't.  About four months later, we moved out of that ward and I just assumed that I hadn't received the calling because we were moving and at the time I didn't know we were moving.  But that still didn't explain why the information came because the Lord did know I was moving.
The second time, I was more devastated.  The reasons for that were because I absolutely loved my calling (in the stake young women) and not only was I not called to serve in the calling I had been impressed was coming, but I was completely released from the organization and not given another assignment, not even in my ward.  That was a very difficult three months.

I have also had impressions or revelation that specific things were going to happen in my private life, and then they didn't happen.  As I have pondered about these situations and spoken of some of them with trusted friends, I have learned a couple of things.

The Spirit has helped me to learn that I often do receive revelation about specific things.  I get the message right.  But then I interpret the information to mean things, and often my interpretation is not correct.  That was helpful information.  For instance, years ago we were house hunting.  At the very beginning, my husband and I both had the impression that we were to purchase a specific house.  We prayed about it.  I specifically asked in my prayers if this was the house Heavenly Father wanted for us because I didn't want to ask for something He didn't want me to have.  I received validation that the Lord did want me to have the house we were looking at.  We went through the process.  There was no way we could afford it.  We tried some creative financing.  It didn't work.  We asked for help from family.  That didn't work either.  The house sold to someone else.  I cried and was confused.  We kept looking, but didn't find anything that we felt good about.
A year later, the same house went into foreclosure with the new owner.  I happened to drive by and saw the public notice on the door and stopped to read it.  We went to the auction, but you have to have cash or financing in hand to purchase there.  That wasn't happening.  We figured out who to contact to talk about purchasing the home after the foreclosure process.  We finally were connected with the president of the bank which held the note for the house.  She told us that she would love to unload it to us as they always lose money in these situation but we would have to speak with their company which manages these things.  When we spoke with the company, they indicated that they had already turned it over to the realtor and it would have to go through the process and we could purchase it when it was on the market.  We still could not afford it if it went to the market.  As I cried and cried, after hanging up the phone with the secondary company, and pleaded why isn't this working, I heard, "You took no thought to ask me if the timing was right."

What??!!  You mean there's a right TIME to purchase this house??!!  I was frustrated but now I knew when the Lord has a plan, He also has a time......Oh!!!!  Sometimes I can be so thick!

In the mean time, we kept looking at other houses, but didn't find the one that felt right, and would work with our budget, our family, etc....  Now you need to understand that this entire process had been taking nine years.  Finally, things changed, someone else bought a house and asked us to rent it from them.  We never did buy that house, and we never will.

So why was I so sure that we were supposed to purchase that house?  As I thought about it, now with Heavenly Father's plan unfolded in that department, I realized some things.  Our new house, is in a new ward, where my husband is now serving as the Bishop.  If we had purchased any other home, we would be in the other ward, as this side of town is more expensive, and we could only afford things on the other side of town.  So Heavenly Father had a different plan than I did the entire time.  That house kept us from purchasing another house and being stuck in a situation that would have been difficult.  Was my information to buy that house correct?  Sure, in the fact that it kept us from purchasing a house that we would not have been able to unload financially and would not be able to be in the place the Lord needed us to be in to accomplish His purposes.
Now think about Nephi.  He and his brothers were told to go back to Jerusalem and get the plates of brass.  The Lord knew He was going to send them back for them.  Why didn't He just tell them to get them before they left the first time?  For that matter, why didn't He just tell them to get Ishmael's family and save them two trips back to Jerusalem?  I don't know.  Maybe Nephi and Lehi never knew.  Nephi tried to get the plates of brass several different times before he was finally successful in obtaining his errand from the Lord.
Sometimes, in my experience often times, we know what we are suppose to do, what the Lord wants us to do, but we have no idea how to do it.  And to be honest, though we do know what the next thing is we are suppose to do, we often do not have any idea why the Lord wants us to do that or what His purpose or motivation is in having us do it.  (I wanted to link another blog post I wrote here, but I cannot seem to access those either....lovely blogging issues!  I'll figure it out later.....but the one about my process of applying for the job at the beginning of this year......  That one seems to fit here nicely.  I had a direction to go and thought we were moving.  We never moved.  It was all about the process of unlocking my heart and really recognizing what I wanted and why......I thought it was all about moving and getting another job.)

The point is, because we do not always know the mind of the Lord, we have to learn to trust Him and follow Him and do what He asks of us even if we do not understand why or how.  How we can receive instructions for.  They why, we may never know.  But if we know that God loves us, wants what is best for us, won't ask us to do things that will hurt us (eternally), and knows all, is perfectly just, perfectly merciful, and loves us more than we can imagine, we can and should trust that.
In my experience, I have found that when He asks me to do something that is hard, or painful, or embarrassing (like apologize to someone I have wronged), or makes me feel self-conscious, if I will just exercise a particle of faith and try to do what He asks, it always turns out better for me in the end.  I am going to share one more story to illustrate the point, another time things didn't turn out so well, at least in my initial assessment of the situation.

A friend and I were called by a new convert in our ward.  She was struggling and wanted someone to talk to.  We went over to help her.  We discussed her situation, which was nothing more than 'I have been hurt and I don't know what to do'.  My friend and I discussed the atonement with her.  We went over the basic, basic doctrines of that process.  Somehow in our discussion, something we said in teaching the basic doctrine of the atonement offended her.  We could see it in her face.  We asked discerning questions about her understanding, read some scriptures and left as friends, thinking we had fixed the problem.  The next Sunday, our new convert was not in church.  During the church hours, she had left a very nasty message on my answering machine.  

I was heart broken.  I prayed for help and read my scriptures.  I wrote her a note of apology and included some of the verses of scripture I had read.  I took the note over to her home and knocked.  When she opened the door and saw it was me, she scowled at me, yelled, and slammed the door in my face.  I left, sobbing, and dropped the note in the mail.  This was not going to be a situation that resolved easily, if at all.

As I got home and pondered the situation, going over and over in my mind what I had said, how I had behaved, at what point did I cause offense, did I say something wrong or imply something incorrect, was the Spirit not there when I spoke, what did I do wrong???!!!!  As I went over and over these things in my head, the Spirit said, "Aren't you glad that it wasn't your family you offended?" 


The question repeated, "Aren't you glad that it wasn't your family you offended?"  I still didn't understand.  How would I have offended my family?

"Sister So and So was offended because she was not ready to hear the doctrine you shared with her.  When you go home in the next several weeks, do not teach anything.  You are not there to teach.  They are not ready to hear what you have to say.  Say nothing."

It was the only time in my life when I have been told NOT to testify or teach.  The Lord allowed me to have the experience with Sister So and So, so that I did not have to have the same experience with my family.  Realizing that, I became extremely grateful for my not so pleasant interaction with Sister So and So.

We do not usually know all of the reasons the Lord asks us or inspires us to do certain things.  But if we will exercise our faith to act on those promptings we know are from Him, we open the windows or doors to allow Him to bless us in ways we would never even imagine.  But to do that, we have to trust Him and that is hard for most of us to do.

Do you have a similar experience?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I am in!!!

Sorry I have been away for a while!!  I have not been able to access my blog!  Crazy, I know, but somehow the sign-in bar and dashboard buttons at the top of my blog have disappeared!  I have been going absolutely bananas trying to figure out how to get into my blog!!!  But I did it!  Now if I can just figure out how to get the buttons back on it!

And see that photo above???  That is definitely what my efforts to get into my blog looked like.  I swear!  Not really, but man, it was not easy or direct!

OK  enough complaining.  So I really do not have very much to say.  Ha!  Not true!  I always have a lot to say, which I suppose, is why I can keep a blog going.  Now that I am in and can post once again, you'll just have to listen to all the blog posts I wrote while I wasn't able to access the blog.  Ha! Again!  I didn't write any.

I have been enjoying my family and the holidays.  We had a most glorious Thanksgiving day.  We had only our family and the guest tortoise we had been sitting (he got picked up yesterday).  We all worked together to make the food, a friend gave us dessert, so I didn't have to do that part.  We called our kiddos abroad and just enjoyed the down day with lots and lots and lots of food.  Since our biggest eaters were not here for Thanksgiving, we are still having left-overs.  That hasn't happened at my house since the boys were babies.

Everyone heads back to school and work tomorrow.  I am sad to have them go, but kind of glad to get back to a routine and schedule.  Of course, that will only last for another three weeks, and then everyone will be home for the Christmas holidays.  I will try to get back into the swing of blogging too, now that I know how to get in without the dashboard button.  Sweet!!

Here is my funny story for the day.  So my little Spike, Spike plays with my cell phone, a lot.  I let him usually, until I notice that he is calling someone and then I take the phone and say, "I don't want you calling China.  Let me have that." 

Today after church, Spike, Spike was standing on one of the dining room chairs with my phone up to his ear.  I could tell he had called someone, so I asked, "Who are you calling?"  To which, he replied, "China."  I burst out laughing!  It was so funny.  He is really starting to put things together and say some really funny, funny things.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Documenting my Day of Gratitude.

Chocolate on my Cranium is hosting a blog hop.  She asks that each of us share a day of our choosing.  I chose yesterday, though it is by far not a typical day, it is a typical busy day.  I do have days like that about once or twice a month.  Have fun walking through yesterday with me....

6:45 a.m.  Get out of bed late, like an hour and 45 minutes late, but I am grateful for a few extra moments with my spouse, who is only awake because he has been sick and cannot sleep.

7:00 a.m.  Throw blueberry muffins in the oven for breakfast and scramble eggs.  I have discovered the best blueberry muffin recipe in the world!  I combined a couple of muffin recipe.....oh .......deliciousness!  Here is the recipe....I'll have to add it to my table talk page!

Of course, you would need a photo:
7:20 a.m. Feed the tortoise.  We are tortoise sitting.  His family is out of town for 10 days and they didn't feel like they should take him on vacation too.  Isn't he so very cute!!  He is only a few months old.  He fits in the palm of my hand!  Such a tiny little tortuga!

7:30 a.m.  The big boys miss the bus because we are running late.  I am very grateful I have 1 working car that can get them to school and still have enough time to get the little boys to school!

8:30 a.m.  Done running everyone everywhere.  Eat breakfast, check email, blogs, cnn.  Get Sun started on her school work.  Check out this beautiful morning sun!

9:30 a.m. After showering, plan the menu and grocery shopping for the week.

10:15 a.m.  Get gas and go shopping at my favorite store!  I am seriously grateful for Costco!  Today it was my one stop shop!  The time was crucial!
11:00 a.m.  Sit in Costco parking lot, eat Costco lunch, talk to my sweetheart on the phone, just touching on community drama.

11:30 a.m.  Get home and unload the groceries with these characters:
I am so grateful for the opportunity to homeschool, even if it is only one child at a time!  I love that my 12-year-old can watch the preschooler and I can still go grocery shopping without children!!

12:15 p.m.  Pick up little boys from school.  They have early out all week because of parent/teacher conferences.  I love having a couple of extra hours with them each day.

1:00 p.m.  1st parent/teacher conference.  I am grateful for very experienced teachers who love their job, even after they have done it for a long time!

1:20 p.m. 2nd parent/teacher conference.  I am grateful that I know my child well enough that when the teacher says, "This is a problem..." I know the problem isn't what she thinks it is!

1:40 p.m. Informal parent/teacher conference where I met with a former and hopefully future teacher of some of our children.  I am so happy to have a relationship with excellent teachers who know my children and appreciate their gifts and talents, where we can speak freely about the challenges and difficulties facing our school community and together we can make a difference for our children!

2:00 p.m.  Get home.  Sweep kitchen floor.  Go through the mail.  Check email.  Have an email from a favorite high school friend.  I am grateful to have amazing friends from high school who are still my friends today!  I may not hear from them often or see them hardly ever and though they do not share my faith, they are my dear, dear friends.  I know if I ever needed them, they would come!
3:00 p.m.  In the middle of my response to my HS friend, Slim calls me to talk about his life and plans and to catch up.  I am grateful that even as my children mature, they call home and want to talk to their mother.  I am sure it will not always be so, but I love it today!

3:30 p.m. I finish up email to HS friend.  Spike, Spike gets up from his nap and sits on my lap for 15 minutes while I finish typing and hit send.
he would not be still and my old camera shutter speed stuff 
is messed up!
3:45 p.m. Remind the little boys to do their jobs that I told them to complete at 2:00.  One says, "Can I just do that later?'  To which I reply, "Yes, if I can cook your dinner tomorrow."  He does his job and I clean the kitchen and begin dinner.  I am grateful for potstickers and a rice cooker on a busy day!!  And I am grateful that the third graders did not eat most of the rolls I sent for their Thanksgiving feast because now I can use them for dinner!
4:15 p.m.  An unexpected guest drops by.  She is substituting as the chorister in 2 weeks and has been a member for about 9 months or so.  I go over the job with her and how it works.  She is a musician, but has no children.  I am grateful she is excited and willing to help us out, and that she was thinking about it enough that she just popped by to get her instructions!

4:45 p.m.  Back to dinner.  I am grateful my children are willing to eat in shifts.  We don't usually do it that way, but today it is necessary.  Feed the baby.  Make toast for the boy who doesn't like potstickers (whose kid is that, anyway?).

5:00 p.m. Feed the little ones and the big ones.

5:15 p.m. Put together dinner for my husband and myself.

5:45 p.m.  Leave with dinner to pick up my husband for his Bishop's training meeting.  I am so grateful for children who will willingly babysit on very little notice!

6:00 p.m. pick up Drew.  Drive 20 minutes to his meeting while he eats in the car.  I am grateful for food that travels, thank you potstickers, and water bottles!

6:20 p.m.  Sit in the parking lot for 10 minutes to have just a few minutes with my sweetheart before his meetings.  Eat my salad.  I am grateful for 10 minutes!!!  (30 if you include the drive!)

6:30 p.m. Answer my texts and voice mails.  I am grateful that when I forget about a commitment I have made to a friend for tonight, she loves me enough to forgive me!  Some days life is so crazy!

6:45 p.m.  Begin writing and documenting my post on my day of gratitude.  I am grateful for just a few minutes to sit in quiet, even if it is not at my house and the building is cold.

7:45 p.m  I am so very grateful for how the day went.  It was packed!  This entire week has been packed!  But I am very grateful that after my 20 minute drive home, my baby will be in bed, and I will spend a little time with my sweetheart, probably watching Downton Abbey, before we go to bed and start tomorrow's day!

Which we did!  Got home @ 9:00 p.m.  Went to bed at 10:30 p.m.  Good night!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Changes of heart


Yesterday I posted about change, real change, the kind that sticks.  Today I wanted to talk a little about how the change begins. 

In my daily scripture study, I happen to be reading about Ammon, one of the sons of Mosiah, who went to preach the gospel among the Lamanites.  As the story goes, he finds a people who take him to their king.  The king questions his motives in visiting the king's people, as Ammon is a Nephite, enemies of the Lamanites.  Ammon assures him that his only desire is to serve Lamoni's (the Lamanite king) people.  He even says that maybe he'll live with them for the rest of his life.  Lamoni likes him so much that he offers to give Ammon one of his daughters in marriage.  Ammon declines and takes a job watching the king's sheep.

In their daily endeavors, Ammon and the other servants take the sheep to a watering hole, where some of the other Lamanites have taken to the practice of scattering the king's sheep and mixing them in with their own herds.  Then when the servants return home, the king executes those who have allowed his sheep to be scattered.

When these other Lamanites try to scatter the herd Ammon is watching, Ammon tells the other servants to encircle the sheep and keep them together.  Then Ammon goes to contend with these men, who "are in number, not a few".  Six, he kills with his sling shot.  Another, he kills with his sword.  By now, of course, those sheep scatterers are furious and trying to kill Ammon because of what he has done to their friends.  Any of the Lamanites who choose to lift up a sword against Ammon get their arms cut off, until they flee from the situation, fearful for their lives.

The servants with Ammon gather the arms, take them to the king, and tell the king all that happened at the watering hole.  To their account, they also add their testimony that they know Ammon cannot be killed because they watched plenty of people try to do it and fail.  This information troubles the king.  For the scriptures say, Lamoni said unto his servants, "Now I know that it (Ammon) is the Great Spirit; and he has come down at this time to preserve your lives, that I might not slay you as I did your brethren...."  Then a verse later, it reads, "....nevertheless, Lamoni began to fear exceedingly, with fear lest he had done wrong in the slaying of his servants....."

When the king inquires of Ammon's whereabouts, the servants tell him that Ammon is tending to your horses, like you instructed us to, which further astonishes the king because Ammon is so faithful in executing his commands.  By the time Ammon comes to report to the king, Lamoni is not sure about what he wants to say or how he wants to say it.  Eventually they start talking and King Lamoni has his questions answered.  Ammon then begins to expound the plan of salvation unto the king and teaches him about the Savior.

As I have pondered about the story, it would appear that King Lamoni's change of heart happens right as he is considering if somehow he has done wrong in slaying the servants whose flocks were scattered.  Did I make a mistake in handling the situation this way....?  He searches and questions his motives, intentions, and actions.

A few chapters later, Ammon and King Lamoni are traveling and they run into Lamoni's father, king over all the land.  He is not happy his son is keeping company with a Nephite, who is the child of a liar, in his opinion.  He commands his son to kill Ammon.  When Lamoni will not comply, the king decides to do it himself.  He, of course, is unsuccessful in his attempt.  When he is about to lose his life to Ammon, he offers to give Ammon anything he desires, up to half of his kingdom.  Ammon only wants what is right.  He requests that his brothers be freed from prison and the Lamoni retains his kingdom without interference from his father.  When Lamoni's father realizes that Ammon really loves his son and is not seeking for wealth or power, his heart changes----when he realizes he has been wrong about Ammon's character and intentions.

When we search our hearts and realize that our behaviors, thoughts, or words are not in harmony with God's laws or desires for us, and we are willing to change, our hearts are softened.  If we are not willing to change, this information brings defensiveness on our part and our hearts are hardened.  This is true even when we are speaking with another person.  If they tell us our behavior needs to change to be in harmony with truth and righteousness, and we are willing to change it, we will welcome the information, begin to make the changes and repent.  If however, we are not open to change, or do not want to change, this information feels like an attack.  We throw up our defenses and probably attack the messenger-----like Laman and Lemuel always seeking to take away Nephi's life.

There is a question I suppose of whether we are willing to make the changes because our hearts are soft or whether the willingness to change softens our hearts.  With the two examples above, it seems obvious that their recognition of wrong, precedes their changes of heart.  In King Lamoni's instance, there is no one telling him that he is wrong.  He wonders if he is, and then his heart is open to the response.  With King Lamoni's father however, Ammon and Lamoni are telling him he is wrong.  He disagrees with them, enough to want to kill Ammon and remove his son as a leader.  Only when he is going to lose his life and Ammon is meek in his requests does King Lamoni's father's heart change. 

Then of course, there is Alma....both the Older and the Younger, who have changes of heart.  Alma the younger sees an angel who says, look, you are not doing the right things and even if you choose to lose your own soul, you have to quit dragging others with you.  Stop bad-mouthing the church, basically.

Alma the younger also says that his father's heart was changed, in v. 13 of chapter 5 (Alma), according to his faith.  Alma the Elder hears the words, reflects on his behavior, recognizes his sins and exercises his faith unto repentance.

Enos' experience is similar.  The words of his father Jacob sink deep into his heart and his desires change. He desires to know his standing before God.
But is it any wonder that we teach repentance as one of the first principles of the gospel??  Repentance is recognizing that we have done, said, thought, or felt something wrong.  Then it is going through the efforts to make the changes necessary to correct that wrong.  That is where we exercise our faith.  But I think the change of heart happens first---the recognition of wrong and a willingness to change.  What do you think?  Is this making sense?

So then the application of this, for us, becomes what are we doing about making time and space to hear and feel the words of the Lord so we can recognize where in our lives we need to make changes?  If we are too busy for church, too busy for scripture study, too busy for prayers, the radio is on in the car, our ear phones are plugged in when we are going somewhere or exercising, and we always have our phone on playing music, texting, face-booking, or playing candy crush or farming games, when can the Lord speak to us?  And how on earth would we hear him anyway??

We have to make time for Him in our lives so we can hear the messages that will bring those changes of heart to us, those we love, and to the lives we live.  Peace and happiness come from knowing that our lives are in harmony with truth and right.  We can only put our lives in that kind of order if the Lord has the opportunity to let us know when our lives are out of balance in any direction.

So will you put some time aside for Him?  It doesn't have to be long----about 30 minutes a day works for me.  But I need it to be quiet so that I can hear that still small voice whisper to my heart, hey.....you may need to make some changes.......here.........and here.......................and here.  Then I have to have the faith to make those changes.  Thankfully, He doesn't expect me to do it alone.   He'll be right there beside me, helping me make the change.