four years

Feb 27, 2024 by

I know to the rest of the world, this is just an ordinary day near the end of February.

But to me, it is THE DAY.

The day of miracles.

The day of kissing my husband goodbye and giving him over to a huge neurosurgery team having no idea how he would be when they gave him back to me.

The day of being held in the arms of family and friends.

The day of thousands of people praying for Richard and his surgical team and our family.

The day of sitting in the waiting lounge in Surgical Suite 3 for hours and hours and hours.

The day of me holding it together.

The day of me falling apart when the surgeons told me it went as well as possible and Carl the Schwannoma was evicted.

The day of the thumbs-up as he was wheeled out of surgery and into Neuro ICU.The day God showed His mighty hand. (Though He shows it over and over again.)

The day of rejoicing and loving and kissing and exhaustion and gratitude.

And now it’s been four years of God carrying us and with all of your help, we have made it through. It’s absolutely awe-inspiring and humbling at the same time. I’m so grateful my husband is here.

Yesterday I saw the words to “The Blessing” and fell head over heels in love with them. Today I found out that they were written while Richard was in brain surgery – can you believe that?????????? Written in one day on February 27, 2020 between about 4:00 p.m. and midnight North Carolina time, which means it was between 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. in Utah…the exact hours he was in surgery! I can’t stop crying about it. While the scariest moments of our lives were happening and doctors were drilling through his skull and ever so carefully scraping a giant tumor off of his brain stem, cerebellum, and cranial nerves, God was inspiring these words in the hearts of two Christian songwriters so they could spread around the globe.

It is now at the top of my playlist and I’ll be listening to it everyday. And I’m going to get a sign with these words to imprint them on my heart and our children’s hearts. May each of us always know He is with us, He is for us, His face is shining upon us, He is blessing us and keeping us for a thousand generations, our family, our children, and their children, and their children. I keep singing it over and over again with tears streaming down my cheeks. It’s just so beautiful and powerful.

Here are the words to “The Blessing” by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes…give it a listen…I think you’ll love it.

The Lord bless you, and keep you. Make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord turn His face toward you, and give you peace.

May His favor be upon you, and a thousand generations, and your family and your children, and their children, and their children.

May His presence go before you, and behind you, and beside you. All around you, and within you. He is with you, He is with you.

In the morning, in the evening. In your coming, and your going. In your weeping, and rejoicing. He is for you, He is for you.


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Jan 13, 2024 by

After being apart for a week, it was game time tonight.

I’d say I whooped her.

Round two she played better and lost by 43-21. Much better than losing every piece on the board! Someday she will beat me and she will know she earned it fair and square because I’m certainly never going to go easy on her.

I’m so tickled she’ll still play with me when I beat her over and over again.

I’ve been playing Othello since I was a little girl. If you don’t own it, I highly recommend it!

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two years after carl

Feb 27, 2022 by

Two years ago today, we were at the University of Utah hospital having Carl the Schwannoma evicted. What a day that was and what a journey since.

We felt so wrapped up in your love that day and in the days and weeks and months that followed. Thank you, thank you, thank you for carrying us and helping us all along this journey. Your kindness and hugs and laughter and faith and money and meals and tears and and hurrahs have made this a holy experience of being ministered to, walked with, and lifted up. It has been so, so hard…and somehow at the same time, it has felt almost easy. Your love and God’s tender care have filled this journey with light.

Richard continues to improve in many areas and also to struggle with some things.

The wins:

  • His balance continues to get better. In fact, he has had a few slipping incidents on the ice this winter and hasn’t fallen!
  • Can engage in almost any activity he wants to…he just can’t engage very long.
  • Getting more comfortable with his single-sided deafness. And I’m getting better at interpreting for him so he understands what he can’t hear.
  • He’s doing 100 pushups a few times a week.
  • He’s walking a mile a few times a week.
  • He can close his eyes in the shower while he is scrubbing his face and doesn’t feel like he is going to fall.
  • He can keep his balance with much less light.
  • He is sleeping deeply most of the time.

The struggles:

  • Still can’t attend church for more than an hour. The noise coming from all different directions, the organ, and the electronic speakers throughout the room vs sound coming from the person’s mouth who is speaking at the front of the room, do a number on his brain every week.
  • Really struggles with learning new things. If the concepts were known before surgery, he can integrate them, but if he is trying to learn a new concept, he says he can’t focus on it and it feels like there isn’t a file folder to put it in and the information doesn’t get stored.
  • Neurological stamina is still short.
  • His eyes can’t track very well while reading – so he’s not really able to read a book.
  • He feels overwhelmed if two people are trying to talk to him at a time. He needs to focus on one thing at a time.
  • His skull continues to shift and cause him great pain. The scar tissue and fascial layers pull on his skull bones and move things all wonky. The last big shift happened two weeks ago and actually pulled things down on the left side instead of the right. He was pretty miserable and had to miss work at his 2nd and 3rd jobs several days in a row because his brain and body needed to come home and do his near-infrared lights and sleep.

Our life has changed. Our time together is sweeter. I do far less socializing than I used to and far more sitting with him at home. He needs the quiet and calm of our home and rarely attends parties or receptions or group gatherings. If our children are performing, he tries his best to attend, but it wears him out and he has to sleep for many hours to recover from a social event. Life here is pretty quiet. It’s just what he needs.

I try to lessen his burdens, but the reality is, he works even harder at easing mine. He is my hero. He puts God first and all of us a very, very close, nearly undetectable, second. He serves and listens and forgives and laughs. He is kind, unassuming, brave, patient, and willing to work hard. He shows me every day what love does, what faith feels like, and how courage fuels an ordinary man to do extraordinary things.

It seems a bit surreal to be two years out from brain surgery. It has felt like a lifetime and also like a blink all at the same time. I’m so grateful to be 1,825 days past surgery. A shirt I saw recently said “Life is periodically hard, but elementally good.” Sooooo true! There has definitely been some hard, but oh, my goodness, life is so deliciously good.

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Jan 24, 2022 by

This has long been Keziah’s favorite book. I’ve never read it. She checked it out over and over and over again from the library. And read it over and over and over again. But somehow, I never did.

It’s our new family read-aloud. And boy howdy, it is fun!

Richard chuckles the whole time. My mom raises her eyebrows in shock and scrunches her face up in disgust. Annesley alternates between laughter and revulsion.

Katrina Katrell is quite the girl. We are on chapter four and are already quite smitten with her courage and ingenuity. I can see why Keziah loves the book, she is very similar to Miss Katrell.

Since Annesley’s days are full of studying Hitler and his evil schemes to murder millions of people and take over the world, I decided we needed a lighthearted book to snuggle up with at night. This one is hitting the spot!

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15 months

May 26, 2021 by

This week marks 15 months post-brain surgery. What a journey of tears and laughter and courage and faith and exhaustion and most of all, of people and God loving us and carrying us through the hard.

Richard is doing so well. He continues to improve in his abilities and we are figuring out how to help him better.

He is working…three jobs actually. One as a behavioral consultant for School District 91, one as a behavioral therapist for a developmental disabilities company, and one as a hospice chaplain. The second and third jobs are only 2-5 hours a week. We are sooooo grateful he has been able to work and bring income into our home. All three jobs are a lot for his brain and body and he is SO done by the time he gets home. He has two more weeks of his school job and we are really hoping his summer schedule will allow him to get some much needed rest and healing in before school starts again in the fall.

He is working on his bike riding skills. He rode four miles two weeks ago, WAHOO! Then nothing this past week because it was play week for Annesley…so nothing extra for his brain because the performances are so hard for him to attend. This week he has set a goal to ride a total of 15 miles! We are looking into getting him a bike with bigger, softer wheels to give him more traction and comfort, but we are still in the testing phase with that idea.

A few weeks ago he started wearing an ear plug in his good ear when he is in a crowd of people. He says it helps his brain to sort out what the important sounds are so he doesn’t get as worn out as quickly. He still can only endure an hour of church and then he has to come home and sleep for several hours to recover.

His eye and nose are leaking more lately. He isn’t sure why, but thinks he is not getting enough rest. We have been really busy with plays and late nights with our kids and with his three jobs, he isn’t resting as much as he needs, so we are hoping the summer schedule will turn that around.

Some interesting things…for your humor needs…and understanding of brain injury…

  • I found out recently that he didn’t wear deodorant for four months! He ran out and thought he would pick some up that night. But he forgot. The next day he forgot. And the next. And the next. For FOUR MONTHS! Finally one day after a really warm day, I noticed he smelled funny and asked him what was up. He confessed that he was out of deodorant and had been for months. I asked him why he didn’t put it on the shopping list and have me or Keziah pick it up and he said that every single morning he would make note of it in his brain to pick it up that day after work and then every single day would forget. I asked why after a few days he didn’t just tell one of us to get him some and he said he truly thought he could remember, but then he would forget again. So hilarious. And a bit sad, don’t you think?
  • His brain has a hard time staying focused on a task. Yesterday I asked him to count some pills to see how many we had left. It took him a very long time because he had to keep starting over because he couldn’t figure out where he was in the chain of counting.
  • A few weeks ago I needed him to replace the load wheels and tracks on my Elliptigo. The project required fine motor skills that were too much for his brain to focus on and he dropped the parts probably 30 times before he was able to get them on correctly. It took him several hours to do a job that should maybe have taken thirty minutes. The thing that amazed me the most was his patience with himself. If it had been me I would have been SO frustrated and ranting, but he just kept picking the little pieces up and trying again and again and again. (Lesson for me – perhaps figure out how to do it myself or have someone else do it next time!)
  • People out in public don’t know what to think of him. They don’t know that he can’t hear on his right side so if we go out to eat or are with people who are trying to talk to him, he can’t hear them if they are talking on his right side. We try to explain that we need them to speak to his left ear and move him so his left ear is facing them, but people don’t understand and either keep talking to his right ear, start shouting, or give up and just talk to me instead. I’m not sure what the answer to this is, but so far we just keep having me tell him what people are saying. I lean in to his left ear and he can hear me just fine.
  • About a month ago, I was driving to Wyoming past several of his favorite fishing streams and proposed the idea of dropping him off and letting him fish for a couple of hours while I was driving and then picking him up on the way back. He wanted to SO much. But he said his brain was too tired to fish especially because it was breezy outside. He said he didn’t think he could handle the sounds from the wind and the casting at the same time. If you know him at all, you know that is a really big deal. I didn’t think I would ever hear such things from his mouth!

I am amazed at his determination to show up for our children and me even when it is really, really hard for him. I am amazed at how he tries so hard to do things around the house even though it completely wears him out. I am amazed he is working three jobs plus all sorts of side appointments with family and friends who need his skills with their children or themselves. I am filled with immense gratitude for his kindness and patience and willingness to keep trying things that are incredibly challenging for him. He doesn’t get mad or irritable with his limitations, just keeps trying.

He has some big goals for this summer. They may prove impossible. At this point, they are looking impossible. But we are all going to do our best to help him make them happen. He really, really, really wants to go on a one night backpacking trip. This means he has to be able to walk on uneven ground for a good distance and carry at least some sort of pack. I told him Fisher and Annesley would carry all the stuff, but he says that doesn’t count (in my mind it totally counts!). Right now he can walk about a mile on paved ground. So walking multiple miles on uneven ground seems impossible. But that is what we are working towards! He also wants to work on bike riding more and be able to ride with us. And he wants to work on his crossbow skills so he can go hunting with Fisher in the fall. All these things are hard. Dang hard. But he is cheerfully determined to keep working towards these goals.

He is my hero. I love him so deeply and am so grateful I get to walk this journey with him.

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Apr 17, 2021 by

I’m part shrieking with joy and part welling up with tears.

You guys!!! I just played Lightning with Fisher and Annes! I don’t think I’ve ever played basketball with them. They were 4 and 7 when I was injured and really 3 and 6 when I stopped being the fun, active mom my older children knew because I had a lump in my breast the year before I was injured and with the treatments and surgery, I couldn’t do hardly anything fun that year.

I was working. Annes came in and asked, “Mom, do you think you could play Lightning with us? I thought about it, wondering if my body really could do it or not. I knew I could slip and roll my ankle or injure my knee or dislocate my shoulder by shooting, but I checked in with my body and decided, yes, I think I can handle it. Then I had to check in with my heart. A big part of me wanted to keep working and finish what I was doing. And then this other part of me yelled, “Get up and go play with your kids! They are asking you and this is a beautiful opportunity to be WITH them. Do it!”

When I said, “Yes,” she screamed, “Really? Really? You’ll play????”

So I did. And we laughed and ran and shot and breathed hard and I even won once! At one point I made three free throws in a row!


I hope we do it more often. Maybe a nightly ritual? Surely at least weekly. And I hope they always remember this joyous moment in time of this first game. Day by day, they are getting more light in their eyes and joy in their hearts as they see their mama and papa getting stronger and healthier and more capable. They pretty much gave up all their hope last year when Richard was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was just too much for them to face their mama having EDS with years of injuries and passing out and then their papa to face such an unknown future. But every little bit of progress we make lifts their spirits and helps them see life is full of hope and miracles.

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thankful thursdays 4/2

Apr 2, 2020 by

I’m not really feeling very thankful tonight. Truth be told, I’m in a funk. Earlier this week I was irritable as could be and now I’m in the leftover stages of irritable, worn out from being irritable and ready to move on, but not quite there yet. So gratitude is probably what I need even I don’t feel in the gratitude groove at the moment.

  • Tonight we are five weeks out from brain surgery. Just typing those words brings the tears pouring out of my eyes and running down my cheeks. Here we are, five weeks later, and he is alive and recovering and doing so, so well. Today he cut a few pieces of wood for me and deep gratitude filled my soul that he was able to do it.
  • My nephew, Marcus, committed suicide last week. My heart absolutely aches for him and the pain he was carrying and fighting. I’m so grateful I was able to go and spend some time with his family at a park and remember the sweet, kind boy I always knew.
  • We’ve been studying the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith in preparation for the 200th anniversary of the First Vision. It has been wonderful to spend time together as a family learning more about the nine different First Vision accounts, the coming forth of The Book of Mormon, Father’s covenant plan for His children, ordinances, the messiness of the restoration process, and most of all, Jesus grace and love in the lives of Father’s children. I will always treasure this time we have had together.
  • Whenever I’m irritable, I like to rearrange. Yesterday my children helped me rearrange and clean the school room. Something about a new placement of furniture helps clear my mind and see things in a new ways.
  • My dear friend lost her baby today. My heart is aching for her and her family. This baby has been prayed for and waited for for a long, long time. Her baby’s passing is bringing up all sorts of feelings about our babies’ passing and it is hard, tender stuff. Regardless of the pain, I’m grateful we get to share and love and pray for each other. I’m grateful for her faith and courage she has shown for the past 15 weeks of her pregnancy. She has been a strength to me and I hope I have been a strength to her. Having babies that don’t make it into their mama’s arms binds hearts together in a sacred way and even though it is hard, I’m grateful we get to do this together.
  • I’m reading a beautiful, soul-filling book, The Keeper of the Bees. I haven’t been able to focus and get through a book for many months. I’m trying to use this Coronavirus quarantine time to reclaim my mind and fill my soul with good things and this book is helping me learn how to focus and read once again. It is such a wonderful story that is reminding me that God is in the details, that life is worth fighting for, and that human decency changes lives.
  • I’m really grateful we all like each other. Since we are all together much more than we ever have been, this Coronavirus situation has been a test of our relationships. And yes, there have certainly been some pull-my-hair-out moments, but for the most part, we have laughed and played games and read and worked together. It is a huge blessing in my life to genuinely enjoy spending time with Richard and our children.
  • We’ve taken the past four weeks off our morning scripture study routine. With Richard not being able to sleep at night and therefore me not sleeping either, we’ve been in survival mode and absolutely could not get up at 7:00 for family scripture reading. This week we started again. And it’s been hard. I would much rather sleep in. But it’s also been good. I love reading scriptures all together. I hope when our children grow up and move away that our morning scripture reading and evening read-alouds bring smiles to their hearts forevermore.
  • Tonight I am grateful for do-overs. Second and third and a zillionth chances. I mess up again and again and again. And because of Jesus, I get to keep trying. I get to keep learning. I get to say I’m sorry. I don’t even have something pressing on me that needs a second chance in this moment, but boy howdy, the glorious plan of redemption is filling my heart with gratitude tonight. Without it, there is no hope. With it, there is every hope.

And so, I’m going to go to bed, trusting in the hope that Jesus’ atoning sacrifice gives me power to keep trying and Father’s love gives me the desire to do so. Mortality isn’t a cakewalk, but it can be beautiful and blessed.

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celebrating the family video

Oct 13, 2015 by

I saw this video yesterday and have to share it because I love it so much! I set a goal to memorize The Family: A Proclamation To The World this year in our homeschool and even had an awesome giant poster printed (thanks to Valena!) in the weeks right before Blythe left, but we haven’t started yet. I haven’t even hung the poster up! But today that is changing. Today we begin! This video gave me the nudge I needed to get back on track with this goal.

If you want to make your own giant 24 x 36 poster, here is the pdf file. The awesome Valena also made a matching poster for The Living Christ. You can download that pdf file here.

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yes, i know, silence isn’t golden

Jul 19, 2015 by

Oh my good heck, it is July 19. Serious problems blogging on any kind of regular basis over here. I’m pretty sure I will develop a more regular posting habit come fall, but at this point, I am not promising anything…because I hate breaking promises and I try not make a promise I am not 100% sure I can keep.

In the meantime, here is an update.

I am doing pretty well. I am moving better and functioning better and it is visibly apparent to those around me. People give me high fives and big smiles when they see me walking at an almost normal pace in normal shoes. I have been out of my knee brace for several weeks and while my knee is still sore, it is improving. It still hurts to drive and it hurts to be up on it for a super long time, but it is good for the first hour or so. My face, neck, jaw, ribs, and back are still suffering from January’s car accident whiplash, but they are slowing improving as well.

As far as passing out goes, it is improving as well and I actually was starting to think it was a thing of the past, though I have had two small episodes in the past 24 hours, so now I don’t know what to think.

I have been exercising on the Elliptigo for a few weeks and am up to 3 minutes – BIG WAHOO! It feels absolutely amazing to feel my neglected muscles working and growing. Three minutes doesn’t sound like much, but it is hard. It about knocks me flat. Keziah gets on and rides for 30 minutes…someday, someday I will be there.

Blythe has been working her butt off all year putting money in the bank for her mission and we both have been searching and shopping for some fabulous mission clothes. We have most of what we need in that department and are now starting on the long list of other supplies – first aid kit, books, bags, sewing kit, pens, temple clothes, personal hygiene, and a gazillion other little things. It feels like we have very little time left to pull all of this together, but I am confident with Amazon Prime and some improvisation we can pull it off.

We have undertaken a massive project this summer (which is primarily responsible for my poor blogging) and while there is light at the end of the tunnel, it is has kicked my butt and left our home in a terribly messy state of disarray. Ever since the summer of 2011 when we were dealing the breast lump, we have been in full-on survival mode – which means each day we try to love each other, teach each other, and feed each other…and not much else gets done. Stuff does not get dealt with. Stuff builds up. Stuff gets knocked over and left. Stuff takes too much time to sort and process and organize, so it gets shoved here and there for another day…and that other day doesn’t come and after awhile there is a garage and a storage room that are completely inaccessible to any human that values their life.

And that is where we are at…or were at a few months back. I started the Stuff Project by having every single piece of clothing currently in Fisher’s and Annesley’s rooms brought upstairs for me to sort into Keep, Give to Mikelle (my baby sister with wee babes), Give to DI, or Trash. That project was huge. We finished it the day before Swim Camp back in June.

Then we tackled the school room. We went through each book down there and did the same thing, Keep, Give to someone specific, Sell to a used book store, Give to DI, or Trash. Books are sacred to me and I don’t part with them easily, but we did it! We were able to get rid of 6 big boxes of books! We also created a new computer area for the big girls, moved my Elliptigo and deep cleaned the whole area.

With that success under our belt, I decided to hire Keziah to clean out the storage room. I really wish I had a before picture so you could see how awful it was because there are no words to do it justice. None. Picture a grocery store, special events store, and clothing store being on the fault line of an earthquake and then being abandoned to the survivors who would climb over the piles of stuff, dig through it for the treasure of the day, and knock more stuff over on their way back out. And then picture that earthquake happening several years back and the survivors risking their lives to go in and dig through everything to find a can of diced tomatoes or a pair of size 1 shoes or the Christmas decorations. Oh my, frightening, don’t you think?

Well, this job was ginormous. I offered Keziah $100 to clean, organize, and completely dejunkify. Really, it should have been about $500 for the amount of time she put in, but $100 was all I could come up with (and to be honest, I haven’t even paid her for it yet, she may have to wait until October when Richard starts getting paid again).

Miss Amazing did it. It took her several weeks of working around her other jobs and she completely filled the (once clean) school room with her storage room mess, but she did it. Our burn pile is in desperate need of being burnt to smithereens as we threw away SO MANY boxes. We went through every single pair of shoes in the earthquake residue and gave 163 pairs of shoes and 75 singles to Dando Amor. She reorganized all the food storage, Passover and Christmas items, and the preparedness supplies. She removed the filthy carpet, vacuumed and scrubbed, and then put all the stuff back inside. It looks and feels awesome. We can enter without risking life or limb. We can find things! We can walk around!

Part of the mess in the storage room was the 10 or so big bins of children’s clothes that have been buried and dug through for the past many years. I made the super painful decision that it was time to let those clothes go and to let Keziah sell what she could and give the rest to the thrift store. So she hauled all the bins upstairs and has been washing and sorting and folding the clothes for the past several weeks. So once again, we don’t have a usable dining room. The floor is almost completely covered with stacks of freshly-washed clothes. I still need to go through the clothes and figure out which ones are sellable and which ones need to go to DI.

Then last weekend, we started on the garage. Oh my. Oh my. What a disaster. Richard and I worked for about twelve hours and we probably have thirty more to go. Thirty hours we don’t have before he starts back at his school job again, which means, this job may get left until next summer when he has Saturdays off. Super sad, but that is the reality of only having a few Saturdays off a year – only a couple projects can get done in a year. We could have worked on it yesterday, but we decided our little ones’ emotional health was more important and that they needed to go fishing with their papa.

Throughout all of these dejunkifying projects, I have also been working on my room and closet which is one giant pile of disaster as well. I have been sorting through clothes and facing the strong possibility that I will never fit into my size 6 clothes again and if I do, they probably won’t be in style anyway, so they need to go. And probably the size 8’s as well. And probably the clothes that are too big for me, surely I won’t need those in the future, right? Every few days I send a small load of stuff to DI with Richard or Blythe and bit by bit I am making progress. The floor of our room is all clean along with our bathroom, I just need to finish the back of our closet and the purging decisions.

We still need to build water storage shelves in the garage, clean out the garage, improve the chicken coop, clean up the messes in our yard – the burn pile, the broken cars, and the weeds. I had big hopes of building some swings, staining the deck, and remodeling our camper, but I think those will have to be tabled until next summer as well.

But now all these projects are going to be put on hold because my mountains are calling to me.


It is that time of year when I go and get recharged by the glacier-fed waters and rugged mountains I love so much.

I will try to get back to the bringing-order-to-my-life-projects when we get back, but my guess is, it will probably be December when I have time to devote to it again as when we return from camping we will be busy with Blythe’s first temple trip, her mission farewell, and getting her on her mission. Then we will start our fall homeschool schedule of Learning Time, iFAMILY, and Homeschool Gymnastics. I am also starting a Liberty Girls group with Annesley and nine other little girls, which is probably a bigger commitment than I realize right now. I desperately want to wrap up all my summer organization projects, but I also have to be realistic about the capacity of my body to work, the needs of my family, and the lack of any extra funds to devote to the projects. It’s all good and I need to keep reminding myself that we have accomplished a massive amount of work already. We just need to get the house put back together so we can eat meals and play games in the dining room again.

So if you are wondering why I haven’t been posting much, this is why – a summer full of big projects and when I have a spare minute that I’m not flat on my back in bed with my ice packs, I take the kids to the lake for an afternoon of kayaking and swimming or curl up with them for read-alouds. I hardly see Blythe and Keziah at all. They are both busy working as hard as they can earning money and my job is to give them hugs and encouragement when they get home.

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yellow squash soup

Jun 17, 2015 by

Last summer when I couldn’t open my mouth to eat at all, my friend Sherry brought over this delicious soup. I have saved her handwritten recipe for the past 12 months and vowed to make it again, but I haven’t done it yet. My face has been hurting significantly since the January 31 car accident and last week a little toddler landed on my head in the swimming pool and now my face is swollen and needing to rest again, so I think I will make this soup soon.

Yellow Squash Soup

2 C. chopped yellow summer squash
1 C. chopped carrots
1 C. chopped onion
4 C. peeled potatoes
garlic – not sure of the amount here…maybe 1 clove?

Boil in chicken or veggie broth. Add 1 can evaporated milk, salt & pepper, and cayenne. Blenderize till smooth.

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how did we get to june already?

Jun 7, 2015 by

Oh my good heck, it is June 7 and has been over a month since I last posted. I guess I need to let y’all know I am alive.

Yes, I am alive and well. At least kind of well. I am happy and spending lots of time with my kiddos and loving the sunshine. I am also super sore from the blasted car accident back in January. If I do hardly anything at all and just lie around my house the ball at the base of my spine shrinks down to about softball size. If I try to drive or do laundry or cook a meal or sit at the computer or basically ANYTHING, it flares up and knocks me flat for a few hours or days until the inflammation goes down. We have made it through the past several months since the accident by having me do very, very little and having Keziah do very, very much. But all of that has changed over the past month and boy, howdy, am I sore. She is working her butt off trying to earn money to go to Europe and D.C. next year and is hardly ever home which leaves the bulk of the housework in my hands for the first time in over three years. And it hurts.

So, posting has fallen by the wayside. By the time bedtime hits each night I am covered in ice packs and completely exhausted from the tasks of the day…and I am not doing much. Not at all. My normal cleaning standards are quite low in most people’s books and they have fallen even lower over the past while, but somethings just need to be done. Laundry does need washed. Food does need to be prepared and cleaned up. Fisher and Annes have been making most of their own meals and Richard has been cooking most of the rest, but I really want to preparing some nutritious meals for my family and have a sit down dinner with inspiring, connecting conversation instead of the survival mode we have been living in for so long.

So, we are learning and adjusting and trying to figure out this new phase of life with the big girls gone and me unable to do much to keep this house running. It is a big transition and it is going to take some time for all of us to adjust – my hope is my back and neck will improve enough that I can do more and hurt less.

Other news in the last month? I went on a cruise!!!! YES, ME! The person who never goes anywhere actually went on a cruise. My cousin, Tami, took me and our other cousin, Camille, on a cruise to celebrate our 40th birthdays…which were last year, but we couldn’t celebrate it then because I was too injured. I need to do a whole post with all the beautiful pictures and stories from our adventure.

The same week Blythe opened her call, I celebrated my 41st birthday and Keziah had her play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which also deserves an entire post with heaps of pictures.

Now it is time for Swim Camp and a family reunion and I have no idea when I will be back on here to post again. We are living and loving and trying to get Blythe ready to leave on her mission.

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starting anew

Apr 19, 2015 by

The buds are coming out, the grass is greening up, the tulips are sprouting, and a tiny kitten was born this morning – spring is here!


The breath of fresh air spring whispers to my soul is full of hope and healing. It signals the beginning of a new growing season, shows me that new life is possible. As I ponder the lessons of Passover and Easter, see life springing up all around me, and let the sun soak into my soul, hope is growing.


I have been quite focused on a healing regimen the past three months and while it has been hard and sometimes quite discouraging, it is working. I have just returned home from a second trip to my doctor where he evaluated my progress of the past three months and made a plan for the next three months. My nervous system has calmed down significantly – I have only had three passing out/shaking episodes since he saw me in January – and my body is ready for more treatments. He has me taking a wide variety of supplements to strengthen my nervous, immune, and connective tissue systems and on a clean nutrition plan to give my body the best shot at digesting and absorbing the food I eat.

This regimen is a lot of work. It takes all the dedication and focus I have…really, more than I have as my whole family is contributing to helping me succeed. They prepare my foods for me, help me remember my pills, and encourage me to keep on keeping on when I just want to throw in the towel.

This last week of treatments was good and hard and painful and wonderful all at the same time. I was able to get one injection of my own plasma into my knee and one injection of stem cells into my bottom…both without anesthetic of any kind. Gotta say, that hurt…a whole heaping lot. My butt is still sore, but it is easing up. My knee on the other hand hurts.

Today I start the next phase of our treatment plan and pray that my body is infused with new life just like the plants on this beautiful spring day.

Quote for me to ponder..

Sometimes we give up what we want most for what we want in the moment.

What I want most is an eternal family linked by covenant and happy, healthy relationships. What I want second is to be able to function physically. What I often want in the moment is ice cream, sleep, and long days full of fun and big projects. It is spring and time to start anew focusing on the things I want most.

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a moment of normal

Nov 13, 2014 by

Tonight I feel like a normal human being. A human being who doesn’t pass out, can walk through the grocery store, and walks at a normal speed. I haven’t felt this normal for weeks and especially not for the past five days since the shaking incident on Saturday. I spent Saturday – Wednesday in bed recovering. Then yesterday I was moving vvvveeeerrrrryyyy slowly as I made my way through the halls at iFAMILY and then to the Cross-Country Awards Banquet and then the Evening of Excellence program last night.

Jeremy worked on my inguinal ligament again today and said all the shaking on Saturday set me back on my healing time quite a bit. He would really like me to find a brace to hold my hip socket in place and give the muscles a break so they can heal. And while all of that is kind of depressing, I walked normally today. Normal speed, normal gait, normal heart rate, normal everything.

AND I TOOK MY BOY ON A DATE! Like a normal mother. A date with yummy food, a trip to the bookstore for a new Star Wars book (goodness, he is obsessed with all the Star Wars stuff!), and a quick trip into Sam’s Club for some staples like cheese, sour cream, and tortillas.

Oh, my stinking heck. What a blessing to feel like a normal human being for one afternoon.

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Oct 13, 2014 by

The day these bad dreams started was the day I stuffed down a comment about being molested. It seems to be a pattern in my life: I don’t say things that will cause others to feel guilt or feel hurt. I protect other’s feelings by not speaking up.

Now don’t get me wrong, I CAN and DO say hurtful things. Far too often thoughtless comments burst out of mouth and I end up wounding someone deeply. But it seems to be the pattern of my life that I excuse other people’s behavior by not saying “You have hurt me!

I have been trying to figure out why I do this for many weeks now. The counselor I had an appointment with tried to get to the bottom of it and decided it is because I don’t value myself enough to say something.

That didn’t sit right with me. It could be true, but it doesn’t feel true. Richard and I have talked and talked and talked about it and it doesn’t feel true to him either. I think that is often the reason people don’t speak up, but it just doesn’t seem true for me. I do value myself. I have great self-esteem and believe I can do pretty much anything I set my mind to. I am not at all the picture of a victim.

And yet, I often stuff my feelings deep down inside and refuse to tell people how horribly wrong their behavior has been or how terribly they have hurt me. I even have one person in my life who continues to abuse me in many ways and I allow it to happen. It infuriates me that I will not stand up and put an end to it.

And see, see what I just did. I won’t name names. I won’t call this person out into the open.


I do feel lighter than I did several weeks ago and I am really truly smiling and feeling joy again, but the pain is still here. I woke up on Saturday night with ANOTHER kidney infection…the third since this all started. And Sunday night was another sleepless night. I prayed and prayed and prayed for sleep to come, but instead I lay there tossing and turning all night long with numb arms (something must have moved out of place in my upper back and is causing my arms/hands to be numb) and wide-awake mind. And now it is Monday night, nearly midnight, and I can’t sleep again.

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grl 2014

Aug 25, 2014 by

grl 2014

We have been home from our camping trip for over two weeks and I FINALLY got my pictures uploaded. I’d give you a list of excuses, like laundry and health and a very long to-do list, but really, I just haven’t done it before today.


This year I was able to be in my mountains for 16 glorious days. The first six days we only had my mom and three of my kiddos. It was so, so lovely to eat super simple meals, lay around camp, read, watch the children swim and kayak, and just. be. still. The weather was beautiful without a cloud in the sky on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Then on Tuesday it rained for 12 hours straight. We stayed in our tent all day long and played games, read books, and told stories of Grandma and Grandpa for the My Family project our Stake is doing right now.

Our home away from home.

Wednesday night my brother Scott arrived, Thursday my sweetie and Keziah showed up, Friday my sister Mikelle and her family joined us, along with my brother Stephen a bit later in the day.

After those first four days of perfect weather, we had rain. Lots of rain. Rain for days on end. Puddles and mud and raincoats and umbrellas were plentiful. As soon as the rain let up to drizzle mode, everyone would burst from our tents ready to play or fish or do ANYTHING but stay in the tent. There were non-raining moments and sometimes hours every day and we used those to kayak, fish, and warm-up by the fire, but it seemed every day had some rain (or hail!) packed into it.

I fell in the shower and dislocated my tibia a few days before we left, so I had to be super-duper careful the whole time. My whole knee was sore and the ligaments weren’t holding it in place well at all, so I spent most of my time lying in my chair or tent. I was able to kayak down the river three times – twice for five whole miles. Oh, the joy! I love kayaking and it was heavenly to get out on the water and actually move instead of lying around like a stuffed lobster.

Fisher spent most of his time fishing, searching for frogs and snakes, kayaking, and avoiding the camera. Here is one of the few photos I got of his whole face.


This is what usually happened the moment he noticed the camera pointing his way.




One day I had to go to town to register the children for their iFAMILY classes and brought back ice cream in a cooler for a fun camping treat. Since there is no way to keep it frozen, we had to eat 12 creamsicles and a box of ice cream in one sitting. Poor us, eh?


Since I was not able to do much of anything, Blythe took over my mom duties and took the kids on hikes and other adventures. While I was gone to town Blythe took the little ones on a short hike to the cave and big rock. Another day she took them both on a kayak trip to the other side of the lake – two miles across! I didn’t think they would make it, but they rocked it.

After the rainy days started, we woke up to crazy fog each morning. Mom liked to say we were “socked in.”




Umbrellas and rain boots were a staple.


Foot soaks to get the filthy feet clean were enjoyed every few days. I can take a lot of dirt, but even I have my limit and must insist on children’s feet being scrubbed clean before they can enter the tent.



We also had full bath days and several shampoo the hair days, but somehow I made it the entire two weeks without a single bath or hair washing. It felt really, really lovely to bathe all that dirt away when we got home.

We celebrated Blythe and Andie’s 18th birthdays with presents and fake pudding, raspberry cheesecake for Blythe and a fancy store-bought cake for Andie’s.

Blythe wasn’t too happy about turning 18.


Andie gave her a skirt from Nepal. Miss Andie is a world traveler and recently spent three weeks working in a school in Nepal with her mom.


Grandma gave her a set of Holy Tabbs, an awesome scripture marking program I can’t wait to implement in my own scriptures.


My mom has called her Sooger or Shooger Bunkin since the day she was born. It was her name even before she was named Blythe.


Blythe’s yummy, but totally fake raspberry cheesecake with 18 candles making an 18.




We had our favorite camping meal of fried potatoes, onions, peppers, and zucchini for her birthday dinner and then topped it off with some fish.



The two girls went on a kayak adventure on Andie’s birthday morn and I caught a pic of them as they came back to camp.


Then we had yummy cake.


We gave Andie a big bag of our homemade granola. She loves it and we try to make her some every time she comes to visit.

During the sunny moments, lots of fun was had at the lake.





Fish were caught and mostly released, but quite a few were brought back to camp to eat for dinner.


The girls went on a heart kick, wove flowers in their hair, and tried to make hearts out of their bodies.






This all fell apart into pure silliness.




Then they settled on a beach heart.


On our last day, we took the kiddos over to the lodge I lived in as a little girl with my grandparents. I told them all sorts of stories about their great-grandparents and the magical times we had together.


These are the steps my grandfather made…forty years later and they are still there!


This is the double-seater outhouse up on the hill that Camille and I always used when the lodge bathrooms were full or we were playing on the spaceship rocks.


The rock we used to run up and down. You knew you had “arrived” when you could do it without hands.


I spent a lot of time staring at Square Top this year. I was supposed to climb it to celebrate my 40th birthday, but my body is not able to do so. It has now been three years of camping without even being able to go on a small hike. A few times when I was left alone at camp, I sobbed tears of heartbreak that I wasn’t on top of my mountain. I was supposed to do hard things, see new vistas, and have an amazing girl adventure with all my bestest friends. I let the grief pour out of me and really mourn the direction my life has taken. It felt good to really, really cry. To really, really admit how hard and how sad this all is. I can see the blessings and I can put on a brave face, but I am sad, deep down to my little toes, so sad that I cannot climb my mountain or do so many other things I love.

Goodbye to my mountain for another year.


We ended up leaving about 9:00 pm on Saturday night so we could make it home for church on Sunday and as we pulled away, we finally got a full moon. Goodbye moon. My favorite moon.


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play, puppies, prom, and hmmm, i can’t think of another p word

Apr 11, 2014 by

Disclaimer: I’m sorry my posting has been so erratic lately. Between my family’s needs and wants and my own body’s needs, posting keeps falling by the wayside. I find when I do take the time to post I dump out an entire novel and this post is certainly novel length…at least in blog land. I finally uploaded some pics and now after months of no photos whatsoever, you get to be hammered by a gazillion.

Spring is in the air which means sunshine, wind, and lots and lots of activities! In the past two weeks, we have had our big night at the temple, Homeschool Prom for Blythe, a week of rehearsals for two different plays, a week of performances for Blythe’s play with ACTivate and the Youth Symphony, colloquia, puppies born, music lessons, FHE with our friends who just returned from a humanitarian trip to Ecuador, board meetings for iFamily with elections coming up on Monday, all the usual stuff that normally fills our lives, and not much sleep at all. Thank goodness I have found my camera, my memory card, and my memory card reader so that I have been able to both snap photos and upload them of all our fun.

Whew! We made it. I almost passed out on Monday at board meeting so I forced myself to be very, very conservative this week with all the performances and stay put in my chair. I did not vacuum or sweep or sell concessions or do any of the things I normally do. I limited myself to one hour of being upright at a time and two hours a day total and I stayed true to those guidelines except on Friday when I went over a bit, but I was still good about taking care of myself. Big pat on the back for me – I did not want any of this exciting week for Blythe to be dampened by a passing out episode and my carefulness paid off. The best part is today I can still walk, so YIPPEE! If I can keep this up for another week, I should be back to exercising at my next appointment!

The puppies…oh, my they are so precious. The children adore them and spend time every day toting them around and loving on them. They squeak nearly 24 hours a day and none of us are getting very good sleep with all the noise, especially Keziah who has set up Sadie and her seven pups in a wading pool in her room.

They were born the night of April 2 and morning of April 3 over a period of about eight hours. Sadie will NOT give birth without Keziah sitting right by her, so it was a long night of dog doulaing for my girlie. There are four tan puppies, two chocolate, and one black. Please excuse the blurriness, trying to get a puppy to hold still is difficult, trying to get a child holding a puppy to hold still is nearly impossible!






Here is Blythe in her Prom attire. My sister, Mikelle, was here and helped Blythe turn her naturally curly hair into lovely ringlets that would stay put all night. Blythe and over 100 of her friends had a fabulous time dancing the night away.




I wasn’t able to get any pictures of Blythe during the play…no flash photography allowed and pictures in a dark theater don’t turn out. Here is a super silly one of Blythe with her stage make-up and costume and her crazy sister.


Character shot.


Both the character shots and headshots were on display in the lobby for guests to look at as they entered the theater – that way they could see what each actor really looks like and compare that to the character shot. Here is her headshot. I think it is my all-time favorite picture of her.


Crazy cast photo…man I LOVE these youth!


Last night we had the big end-of-the-year Youth Symphony performance. It was amazing! Three of the pieces were from Tchaikovsky and I fell in love the the March Slave – what a soul-stirring piece! They also played the Violin Concerto in D with an amazing violin soloist and the 1812 Overture with real cannons firing. The harp solo was light and magical – it almost made me want to become a harpist!

You can see Blythe warming-up in front of the big drum in the back. She still has her hairdo from the play she performed in a couple hours previous.


The whole Youth Symphony! Lots of musicians squished onto the stage.


In the midst of all the activities for the big girls, I try to keep life for my littles as calm as possible. They generally spend their mornings with me doing learning time. Fisher has set a goal to finish one entire math book during the month of April, so we are spending lots of time working together so he can accomplish his goal and earn a radio-control rat he has had his eyes on for months. Annesley is learning how to read and it is so much fun! Her words she has learned so far are me, meet, I, am, Sam, Mat, Ann, Nan, Mit, in, on, at, sat, sit, the, is, this, that, cat, hat, and mat. She has started noticing these words all over the place and is one happy little sounding out girl. They have been having fun with Annesley’s birthday puzzle.




Our recent 10″ snowstorm dumped gobs of snow in one night, but by the next day it was almost all melted away. They built these snowmen before all the snow disappeared.




Now it is time to get ready for Passover and then gear up for another week of Blythe’s play at the end of the month, the end of WUBA for the year, Keziah’s play in four short weeks, and my 40th birthday.

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gc fills me up

Apr 6, 2014 by

Ahhhh, I love General Conference. We have spent the past two days camped out in front of our computer watching and listening to the leaders of our church teach us about living Christlike lives, giving our hearts to our Savior, family life, repentance, forgiveness, hope, courage, covenants, and love, most of all, love.

I usually take my children and several of their friends to Salt Lake for Conference, but my body has not permitted me to have such a big adventure the last few conferences. I can’t walk as far as is required to make it through the building and I don’t dare try to sit anywhere without having Richard with me to rescue me if I pass out. So, I stayed home and tried to create some memorable experiences with conference donuts, bingo cards with M & M’s, coloring pages, conference crowns, paper dolls, and lots of snuggles.

Today, in between conference sessions, we celebrated Jesus’ birthday with creamed eggs, ice cream, and gifts for Jesus. Having a birthday party for Jesus is one of my favorite family traditions. We usually have cake with a huge pile of candles we all blow out together, but my foot was so worn out on Friday and Saturday that I couldn’t bring myself to stand on it for more than thirty seconds at a time, so we had ice cream instead. Everyone writes down a present they want to give Jesus, then we share a little message about His life, sing to Him, and then eat the party fare.

This conference seemed to be custom-made just for me. I’m sure it touched other people’s hearts as well, but so many of the talks seemed to be written specifically for my benefit that my heart welled up with gratitude for a loving Father in Heaven who is aware of my heartaches and questions and poured out His answers to me in abundance. Now prepare yourself for the longest post ever. It is far too long for a blog post, but bear with me. Someday my children will read these words and know I loved them, God loved them, and there mother’s mothering prayers were answered with guidance on how to teach them.

Conference Top Ten

1. Elder Holland’s talk inspired me to live more courageously for truth AND to love more deeply, passionately, and purely those around me and to spread that love as far and wide as I can. Some notable quotes:

“You may wonder if it is worth it to take a courageous moral stand in high school, or to go on a mission only to have your most cherished beliefs reviled, or to strive against much in society that sometimes ridicules a life of religious devotion,” he said. “Yes, it is worth it, because the alternative is to have our ‘houses’ left unto us ‘desolate’ — desolate individuals, desolate families, desolate neighborhoods and desolate nations … (see Matthew 23:37-38).

His “comfortable Gods” section hit home with me…cosmic humanism has lots of good things that resonate with me, but loving others and becoming aligned with our inner selves isn’t all that is needed in this life, those things aren’t enough to save us and believing in a comfortable God that requires nothing from us doesn’t ring true to me.

“Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods and smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds. Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes — and this seems the greatest irony of all — these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of ‘comfortable’ God. Really?”

Loved his section on love changing the world.

“Christlike love is the greatest need we have on this plane in part because pure Christlike love was always supposed to accompany it.”

“Pure, Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world.”

Then he said something with such power I felt his words leap into my soul. He spoke of the Priesthood keys and then testified with these words,

I am more certain that those keys have been restored and that those ordinances are once again available through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than I am certain I stand before you at this pulpt and you sit before me in this conference.

Oh, his whole talk was wonderful, I loved it!

2. I loved President Eyring’s talk on choices, following the Spirit, and putting our family and family lines first in our lives.

Every day and every hour, you can choose to make or keep a covenant with God.

Words of scriptures and hymns will stay with our children. Fill their hearts when they are young.

3. Russell M. Nelson’s talk on letting our faith show…typing those words makes me burst into the new hit song from Frozen with a teensy change, “Let it show, Let it show!”

50,000,000 people CAN be wrong.

This really drove home the point to me that right and wrong are not defined by us as individuals, nor by popular majority. They are defined by God.

4. Richard G. Scott’s talk on focusing on the atonement of Jesus Christ as we teach our children about God and His plan for us sunk deep in my heart. The atonement is our everything and far too often I think we can get distracted from the central tenet of our faith. I remember in Little Men when Jo is teaching Nat about Jesus in such a beautiful way that Nat falls right in love with Him. This is what I strive for with my own children and his talk helped remind me to focus on teaching from a solid, personal, doctrinal foundation.

As a companion to that love, trust them. In some cases, it may seem difficult to trust, but find some way to trust them. The children of Father in Heaven can do amazing things when they feel trusted. Every child of God in mortality chose the Savior’s plan. Trust that given the opportunity, they will do so again.

Your personal testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is a powerful tool….there is no doctrine more fundamental to our work than the Atonement of Jesus Christ. At every appropriate opportunity, testify of the Savior and the power of His Atoning sacrifice. Use scriptures that teach of Him and why He is the perfect pattern for everyone in life. You will need to study diligently. Do not become so absorbed in trivial things that you miss learning the doctrine and teachings of the Lord. With a solid, personal, doctrinal foundation, you will be a powerful source for sharing vital truths with others who desperately need them.

As I retyped those words, I realize he is speaking of sharing the gospel broadly, but while I was listening, I only heart him speaking of sharing it with our children. All of my thoughts were centered on teaching my children and nurturing their faith in their Savior.

5. Quentin L. Cook’s talk on family history work and temple work was beautiful. I love researching my ancestor’s lives and lines – it fills my soul on a deep, incomprehensible level. I find my feelings surrounding temple work to be almost impossible to describe – the profound peace and joy must be experienced for one to understand.

We need to be connected to our roots and branches. The thought of being associated in the eternal realm is indeed glorious.

We finally have the doctrine, the temples, and the technology for families to accomplish this glorious work of salvation.

5. President Uchtdorf’s talk, ahhhhh. Breathe, read, ponder, breathe some more. Oh, how I love that man. His words bring great calm to my soul and hope to my heart. His ability to connect with the humanness and the divine in each of us is soothing, lifting, and beautiful.

I have had the sacred opportunity to meet with many people whose sorrows seem to reach the very depths of their soul…Often their grief is caused by what seems to them an ending. Some are facing the end of a cherished relationship, such as the death of a loved one or estrangement from a family member. Other feel they are facing the end of hope – the hope of being married or bearing children or overcoming an illness. Others may be facing the end of their faith, as confusing and conflicting voices in the world tempt them to question, even abandon, what they once knew to be true. Sooner or later, I believe that all of us experience times when the very fabric of our world tears at the seams, leaving us feeling alone, frustrated, and adrift. It can happen to anyone. No one is immune. Everyone’s situation is different and the details of each life are unique. Nevertheless, I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives. There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious.

We can be grateful!

It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach? Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances – whatever they may be.

This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer. When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.

Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges. This is not a gratitude of the lips, but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind.

There are some days I am able to be grateful in this situation. There are many days I am grateful for. There are many days I am full of grief and lacking hope. On those days, I am going to turn to these words and let God teach me to be grateful in.

6. Sister Stevens shared a lovely reminder of our Heavenly Father’s deep and abiding love for each of His children.

Our Heavenly Father reaches out to each of us with His infinite love.

I learned you can feel peace in the midst of turmoil.

And she shared this quote from C.S. Lewis, my favorite author, from Shadowlands,

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I am helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.

7. “It’s the load.” I need to write this on my wall so I see it every single day. These words may very well become my new mantra that helps me see more clearly and get through hard times. Elder Bednar shared a story of a man who got helplessly stuck in the snow while going to cut wood up in the mountains. He loaded his truckbed with hundreds of pounds of firewood and the weight of the wood allowed him to get unstuck.

It was the load. It was the load of wood that provided the traction necessary for him to get out of the snow, to get back on the road, and to move forward. It was the load that enabled him to return to his family and his home.

Each of us also carries a load. Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load: ‘Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the strait and narrow path and avoid getting stuck? Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?’

Sometimes we mistakenly believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness.

Because our individual load needs to generate spiritual traction, we should be careful to not haul around in our lives so many nice but unnecessary things that we are distracted and diverted from the things that truly matter most.

Oh my goodness. I needed those words. I can feel the load I am carrying changing my soul. I can feel Christ transforming me, every so slowly, I am being changed. But, some days I don’t want to be changed. Some days I want to go back in time a few years to when I had a working body and could go, go, go and do, do, do. And these words “it’s the load” are going to be a source of connection for me. Connecting me to Christ. Connecting me to Father. Connecting me to their plans and purposes and desires. I can remember those three little words and allow them to work in me a softening of my heart and a greater desire and willingness to share my load with my Savior whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.

8. Elder Packer’s talk was bittersweet. He looked so old and fragile, yet his words were powerful and full of hope.

Many things cannot be taught, but can be learned.

Everything done is done in Christ’s name.

9. Elder William R. Walker’s talk kindled in me a greater desire to teach my children their personal church history story – their ancestor’s conversion stories. I know that the stories of faith, courage, and sacrifice I grew up hearing of my Rollins ancestors tied me to the Lord and gave me strength and hope when my own nuclear family fell apart. My children need those same stories. They need the stories of all their ancestor lines. And after this talk, I am determined to find those stories and share them with my children often so that they to can be strengthened by a legacy of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The more connected we are to our righteous forefathers (and I would add foremothers), the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices.

10. Elder Oaks’ talk in the Priesthood Session on keys, authority, and women has given me much to ponder. I feel God’s plan for his sons and daughters is glorious. I trust that, deep, down in the marrow of my soul, I know He is a God of love and right. Whatever He does is right, is good, is best. I don’t understand all the ins and outs of what is going on with His daughters (or His sons for that matter) in this day and age or even in this life, but I have great faith that someday we will be taught and will understand how His kingdom operates. And at that time, I feel I will be at peace with His plans and purposes for His daughters. I am not always at peace with them now, but I feel an absolute peace that I will have peace when it is all revealed.

I felt this conference was full of messages my soul deeply needed to hear. Now, I need to spend time pondering, writing, praying, and listening as God continues to teach me from these messages.

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the merry-go-round

Mar 31, 2014 by

Gratitude. Frustration. Spirit-filled. Tears of pain. Tears of joy. Grumpiness. Lack of compassion for those I love. Receiver of compassion from those who love. Desire to whack myself over the head. So, so tired of being whacked over the head with well-meaning advice by others. So much love given to me. SO MUCH JOY at the temple. SO MUCH JOY with my family. SO MUCH JOY…and yet, ARGH, I am still grumpy. I feel like I am on a merry-go-round with each spin around the circle bringing me a whole new wave of emotions.

I have been with extended family members for the past 2 1/2 weeks and my heart is full of a myriad of emotions – love and regret and gratitude and peace and joy and pain and forgiveness and sorrow and so much more. I feel spent…like I have done a triathlon without any training and need to spend the next long while recovering.

Thursday evening was spent in the temple with many of my dearest friends and family. It was a beautiful night full of tender mercies and blankets of love. I need to write a whole post about the loveliness of it all. Oh, the JOY!

Friday my foot was doing fabulously well. I was up and actually helping at gymnastics for the first time in six weeks! Hallelujah! My hopes of healing and getting back to building muscles were coming to fruition….and then ANOTHER accident happened. A one-second action of catching my falling Annesley that sprained a new ligament in my foot. ARGH. I really could scream, in fact, I think I need to scream or cry or something, but I haven’t let myself fall apart over it yet. I spent most of Saturday in bed with muscle spasms and soreness and frustration that my body was this injured over something so, so small. Meanwhile my mama cleaned and cooked and took care of all of us…such a nice break for Keziah, but boy, howdy, that dear woman did a lot of work!

Then, I put on my courage and smile and went to the first ever worldwide Women’s Meeting of my church and it was fabulous – I cried and rejoiced and cried some more. Then Sunday we attended church and my foot hurt and I was grumpy as all get out and was mean to my dear Richard and impatient with my dear Blythe and pretty much a porcupine to be around. This new pain brought up so much fear – fear of needing to spend my life in a bubble. Fear of not knowing how to care for my body. Fear of never healing. Fear of living in a wheelchair or worse, a bed. And then the guilt for letting fear in and acting on it. Oh my, I know better. I know God loves me. I know I am in His hands. I know my body can be healed. So, why do I let myself give in to fear?

Today was PT and more pain – the talus was in the wrong position, the ligament damaged and the muscle pulled. More time to heal this poor foot…time I want to be putting towards muscle building and can’t because it is taking so long for the ligaments to recover from the hippity-hop ball accident back in February.

I am so tired of this whole thing – and I need to NOT be tired. I need to gird up my loins and fresh courage take. I need to remember the bounteous blessings and tender mercies of the Lord. I need to remember this is a long-term issue without short-term solutions and dedicate my work for the long-haul: nutrition, muscles, energy work, and most of all, becoming a loving, courageous, obedient disciple of Christ in whatever circumstance I am in.

My mama played this song for me today and I sat there and tried to let my heart soften enough to cry and feel, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let all the emotions of sadness and regret and fear and frustration come out. It takes a lot for me to cry…usually only happens the day or two before my period…and it has to build for quite a bit before the flood of emotions explodes out of me and the tears finally gush forth.

But, I need to let these words in to my heart and let them change me. I am so grateful for those around me who speak life to me…their words have given me light when I couldn’t see through the darkness, hope when I didn’t dare reach again, and courage when I didn’t have any of my own left. I want to speak life to those around me each day, especially my family members. They have all heard words of mine devoid of any encouragement, patience, or love when I really want to wrap them up in my arms and share the piles of love I have for each of them…and the love their Father in Heaven has for them. I think I will spend some time listening to this song every morning to help me remember to speak life to the hearts of those I love…and remember my Father and Savior who speak life to me.

Speak Life
by Mercy River on the album Come Alive

Somedays life feels perfect
Other days it just ain’t workin
The good, the bad, the right, the wrong
And everything in between

Though it’s crazy, amazing
We can turn our hearts with the words we say
Mountains crumble with every syllable
Hope can live or die

So speak life, speak life
Through the deadest darkest night
Speak life, speak life
When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope
You speak love, you speak…?You speak life, you speak life

Some days the tongue gets twisted
Other days my thoughts just fall apart
I do, I don’t, I will, I won’t
It’s like I’m drowning in the deep
Well it crazy to imagine
Words from our lips as the arms of compassion
Mountains crumble with every syllable
Hope can live or die

So speak life, speak life
Through the deadest darkest night
Speak life, speak life
When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope
You speak love, you speak…?You speak life, you speak life

Lift your head a little higher
Spread the love like fire
Hope will fall like rain
When you speak life with the words you say

Raise your thoughts a little higher
Use your words to inspire
Trouble falls like rain
When you speak life with the things you say

Lift your head a little higher
Spread the love like fire
Hope will fall like rain
When you speak life with the words you say

So speak life, speak life
Through the deadest darkest night
Speak life, speak life
When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope
You speak love, you speak…
You speak life, you speak life

You speak life, you speak life

Somedays life feels perfect

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those bones have lost their map

Mar 7, 2014 by

Tuesday night I made a mistake and kneeled down on my bed with my foot bent underneath me instead of flexed like it is supposed to be at all times…and the bones shifted out of place. DRAT IT ALL! They are so confused about where they need to be and the ligaments are not helping to orient them at all, so they keep trying out new locations in my foot. I am so hoping we are not back at square one, the place we were at 3 1/2 weeks ago. The last few days have been pretty painful and Wednesday I gave into a bit of grumpiness again. I am trying to focus on the bigger picture of trusting God, loving others, and accepting what is so these these little setbacks don’t get me down.

Sometimes I feel I might never get better, but I am holding on to the firm hope that I can. I absolutely believe I can overcome these injuries, build my muscles, and help my body learn how to live effectively with its connective tissue. I know I will always have hypermobile joints that are prone to injury, but if I can get better long enough to build some muscles, I will be in a much better spot. Each step forward seems to be met with several steps backward (or are they leaps?) and I don’t know how many injuries and weeks spent in bed my muscles can endure before they completely atrophy. My entire body is getting weaker by the day and it is going to take some serious effort to build any muscles back.

Today several ribs are tender, my shoulders are uneven, and my poor foot is super sore, so it is another weekend to be spent in bed. But I am going to do my foot exercises as much as I can, play some games with Fisher and Annes, read some more Wilberforce, and get some good naps.

It is time for my courage to persevere to emerge. Ready, set, shine!

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Feb 21, 2014 by

Me: She is learning how to apologize by how you apologize to her. Please, please use a kind voice and look her in the eye and give her a hug.

K: The eye? THE EYE! She is NOT a cyclops!

Me: Oh honey, please, can you just apologize?

K: I am NOT making lunch if you are going to keep talking to me.

Me: Oh sister, please bring out your best self.

K: You want me to apologize to a CYCLOPS?!?

This girl. This loud, obnoxious, hilarious girl who reminds me so much of myself and brings me SO much joy is also a fireball of crazy contention in our home. Laughter and prayer are my only hopes!

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Jan 28, 2014 by

OMSH! I am so excited about my WUBA class! This fun little acronym stands for Wake Up & Be AWESOME which is exactly what we intend to accomplish. Jen, my trusty co-mentor, and I have eight youth in our class who have committed to do hard things. The class we are teaching used to be called TJYC or Thomas Jefferson Youth Certification and is an intense reading, writing, and discussion experience. We decided to change up a few things, including the name, from the original TJYC class to make it a better fit for us as mentors and a custom-fit for our students.

Yesterday we met with our students for the first time and it was a blast! They are brimming with excitement, desire to learn and grow, and most of all, life. They are alive. So many of the youth I see today are kind of dead. They have glazed over looks in their eyes and sort of a “come on, just try to teach me something” attitude that breaks my heart. But these youth are still curious, determined to learn, and thoroughly refreshing to spend time with.

Our theme for the class is conviction. We want our youth to find the principle they can stand on and then speak and write that message with conviction. To accomplish this goal, we are studying Martin Luther, Patrick Henry, Abigail Adams, William Wilberforce, John Brown, and C.S. Lewis. Our students will read a biography about each individual, do a document study of a speech or essay from the person, and write a persuasive essay. They will also be reading several other books, reading others resolutions in the book Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE by Orrin Woodward and creating their own personal resolutions.

Yesterday at class we showed them this hilarious (and inspiring) speech by Taylor Mali. Oh my goodness, I love it so much. I WISH I had written it and delivered it, but since I didn’t I am going to memorize it so I can pull it out of my hat whenever it is needed. Here is another version with his voice delivering the speech, but the video is a cool typography display of his words. If you just want to read the text, you can find it here. Doesn’t that make you want speak boldly! Our students were laughing their heads off because they know, they completely know, our culture has been infected “by a totally hip and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know?”

These students are in for an adventure in growth, working their butts off, and finding their strengths and weaknesses. Jen and I will be right there with them working at least as hard!

Tomorrow is the first day of iFamily! We are all silly excited to be back in the groove of learning with our friends. Fisher and Annes have their backpacks ready by the front door and their outfits picked out. Both big girls are in theater productions this semester and rehearsals start tomorrow! We have never had two children in productions at the same time and I know it is going to be a bit crazy with two different rehearsal schedules. Hang on, the next 16 weeks are going to be quite a ride.

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May 3, 2012 by


The books came last night after my Ozone Treatment and thanks to my superstar friends, Kat & Jess, they all got sorted, boxed up, and ready to be shipped out!

Kids playing in boxes…trust me, they are inside those boxes, but they wouldn’t poke a foot out!

Dutifully checking off all the books to make sure they arrived. I like photos from this angle much better than the front.

Jessica trying to teach me to smile like a movie star since the moment a camera is pointed in my general direction my face goes into some ridiculous configuration that makes me look like a goofball. See below.

Kat concentrating hard while Jess was giving me photo lessons. Every one needs a brilliant Kat in their life.

Me laughing so hard over the ridiculous photo shoot instructions that I peed my pants and couldn’t get up, so Kat and Jess had to lift me up and then laugh their heads off at my pee covered bum.

Thank you to everyone who helped make it a success! A lot of children are going to be diving into some beautiful books!

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