communing from bed

Nov 9, 2014 by

Another Sabbath spent in bed. Yesterday I had a really bad seizure/passing out/muscle cramping episode at the end of our monthly baptisms…so I am in bed today trying to recover.

Communing with Father through genealogy, good music, and looking at my trees out the window is good, but also a bit lonely. I wish I was at church with my family, partaking of the sacrament and singing praises. I wish I was shaking hands and smiling and chatting with my fellow church-goers.

Creating my own Sabbath day holiness has been a journey. I have had to sort out what I need to do to connect with God deep down in my little toes…because I have learned that while I might survive missing church, I cannot survive the week with any degree of peace, hope, and let’s face it, sanity, if I have a Sabbath without connection with the Father.

So I sing and ponder and pray and reflect and stare at the sky and write and thank. The Spirit washes over me and through me and in me and I remember who I am and who He is and what this life is all about.

It is enough. It is not what I want, but it is enough.

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sacred sabbaths: always remember

Feb 16, 2014 by

A few months ago my mom sent me this adorable piece of wood. Last week I rearranged my room for my new mattress (yes, you heard me right, a better mattress is soon to be part of my life!) set-up and now as I lie in bed I can read the words over and over again.

I can hear her voice filling me with strength. I can hear my dad’s voice. Most of all, I can hear my Heavenly Father’s voice assuring me that I can keep going, that I am brave, strong, and smart. And most importantly, that I am loved by Him, by His son, by my family, and my friends.

Love has the power to change the world. I know, because it has changed my life and if it can change my life, it can change yours, and yours, and yours. And all those changed lives will transform our relationships, our decisions, and our solutions.

Today, as I celebrate this Sabbath in my bed and fully release the anger and despair that filled my soul just a few short days ago, I have made a decision to always remember I am braver than I believe, stronger than I seem, smarter than I think, and more loved than I know.

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1 + 1

Oct 27, 2013 by

1 + 1 = 2. Unless 1 is God and 1 is you. Then 1 + 1 is infinitely more than we can imagine.

My dear stake president (leader of several of our local church congregations) gave this math lesson to us today and I have been pondering it all day.

I think I want to put it on a sign or on my wall or on SOMETHING so I can look at it every day and remember this critical truth. I am not alone. I do not have to fix the problem alone. I do not have to pretend I am someone amazing that can do anything on her own. I cannot get to heaven alone. All of this is impossible. Absolutely irrevocably impossible if I am alone.

But I am not alone. I have chosen to walk with God. I have chosen and I continue to choose to give Him my heart. With God all things are possible.

He loves me. He knows me. His power and goodness and wisdom are infinite. My job is to walk with Him.

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sacred sabbaths: abide with me

Sep 1, 2013 by

Today was the first time I was able to partake of the sacrament in many weeks. As the bread sunk into mouth, a prayer filled my heart and I started talking to God in earnest. I expressed how sorry I am for my petulance. I told Him how grateful I am for His son’s sacrifice for me. I asked Him to forgive me for my grumpiness and to fill me with His peace.

And He did.

Then in Relief Society (our meeting for women) we sang this song and started crying because this is my life right now…I need Him to abide with me. Other helpers are lovely, but they are not sufficient to give me the peace I need.

Abide with me! fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens. Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!

Thank you Father. I am so grateful to be thy daughter and to be able to be blessed by your comforting presence.

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sacred sabbaths: blessed day

Mar 24, 2013 by

Oh! What a joyous day this has been. My Josh (he is not really mine, but I love him to pieces and I feel he is a little bit mine because of how much I love him) is leaving on a mission for our church to Calgary, Canada. Today he spoke in Sacrament meeting and it was simply wonderful to hear him share his thoughts on the Savior, serving Him, and spreading the good news of His gospel. He has grown up so much since I met him almost six years ago. He is the big brother of Madison, Blythe’s dear friend, who goes on so many of our adventures with us and the son of Jana, my dear friend who inspires me to be a better mother and wife every time I am with her.

It seems I have arrived at the stage of life I never envisioned. The stage where my children’s friends and my precious youth who I have taught for the past many years are leaving their families and moving on to college, missions, and marriage. It all started when Tanner (Josh’s older brother) left to go serve the Lord in Russia last year and then Kate got married and now a whole slew of people are leaving the nest. Josh, Dustin, Morgan, and HeatherJane are all leaving for missions in the next few weeks. Vanessa and Aliysa are embarking on college.

And me? I am so excited for them. Thrilled to pieces for these youth that I love. But also, a little melancholy. I am sad for me and the holes that their leaving gives me. Sad for the missed hugs, book discussions, temple trips, and ice cream nights. Our family has so enjoyed these youth and have loved being part of their lives.

And now they are flying away. Everything their parents and mentors and friends have hoped for is coming true. They are mature, responsible, virtuous, committed youth determined to make a difference in the world. It’s a beautiful thing and my heart is full with joy at the thought of them moving on.

But I will miss them fiercely.

And their leaving shows me how very short the time is that I have left with my own children. We will be doing this same mission dance with Blythe in two short years.

After we got home from Josh’s farewell, I rushed in the house, gathered up the materials for my Relief Society lesson and hurried over to my meeting to teach. I hadn’t been able to prepare much this week and although I had a lot of thoughts I hadn’t written even one word down and had no idea what I was actually going to say. Thankfully the Lord gave me ideas on the spot and prompted me to ask certain questions, share certain stories, and testify of certain things. It turned out beautifully. I love my calling! I love sharing and loving and guiding and learning with the sisters in my ward. We are all still getting to know each other and it is a little strange giving so much of my heart to women I hardly know, but we are coming together as a ward and hearts are slowly being woven together.

Now it is evening. Tomorrow night is Passover and our big annual Seder. We are all working together to get everything ready for our guests. Oh, how I love Passover!

As soon as Passover is over, my family will be here to visit for almost a week! I can’t wait to snuggle Miss Oaklyn Noel and play catch with Easton and laugh myself silly with Mom and Mikelle.

I love the Sabbath. I love the ritual of having a pause every seven days to ponder my relationship with my Savior, my husband, my children, and my self. I love partaking of the sacrament. I love listening to the hymns. I love having my husband home.

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sacred sabbaths: great fullness

Nov 11, 2012 by

Yes, I know. You are all sitting at your computers with baited breath wondering when Tracy will post again. The number of days in between my postings is getting quite ridiculous.

I’m sorry. I have been a little bit swamped and trying to juggle all the parts and pieces of my life…but I have a LOT in my heart that I need to share, so I will try to start getting it out over the course of the next week.

Yesterday I attended a class and learned some amazing things about mentoring. Afterwards, Liz and I froze our hineys off while we talked for an hour in the brisk wind. But it was worth it because I learned about gratefulness.

Gratefulness = A Great Fulness

Isn’t that a beautiful way to look at it? We have a great FULL-ness and so we GIVE in Thanks. Our Thanksgiving is full of giving out of our thanks for our great fullness.

I have a great fullness in my life. A great fullness of love. A great fullness of food. A great fullness of compassion from others. A great fullness of women friends. A great fullness of strong ancestors. A great fullness of faith. A great fullness of popcorn. A great fullness of opportunities. A great fullness of beauty. A great fullness of books. A great fullness of warmth. A great fullness of fun. A great fullness of family. A great fullness of hugs and kisses. A great fullness of truth. A great fullness of water. A great fullness of cheer. A great fullness of connection. A great fullness of laughter. A great fullness of snuggles. A great fullness of vibrancy. A great fullness of learning. A great fullness of healing. A great fullness of safety. A great fullness of covenants. A great fullness of inspiration. A great fullness of smiles. A great fullness of trust. A great fullness of possibilities. A great fullness of challenges. A great fullness of blessings.

My bowl is full. And so I give in thanks. I strive to spread joy and hope and service and redemption and love and smiles and truth to all I meet. Sometimes I fail, but sometimes, sometimes, I succeed. Sometimes I am able to reach a person whose bowl feels empty and in that moment, my heart swells up with joy and my bowl is full all over again.

I pray for your bowl to be full.

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sacred sabbaths: forgiveness

Aug 26, 2012 by

A woman at church today shared this thought:

Forgiveness is the closest we come to creation in this life. When we are able to let hatred, anger, judgment, and bitterness go, we create something beautiful.

I don’t know that I believe that forgiveness is actually closer to creation than creating bodies for God’s children, but I love the thought process this statement sent me on. Forgiveness and creation have never been connected in my heart before and this opens up a whole new way of thinking for me.

I can remember times I have forgiven others and through that experience beauty has been created, lives have been healed, new paths have been forged, and God has taught me deeply powerful truths. I remember times when I have been forgiven and yes, beauty has been created. I have been given this amazing life with a husband that loves me thoroughly through the power of forgiveness. I have friendships that have grown into life-sustaining forces in my life through the miracle of forgiveness. My heart has been transformed into a softer, more faithful heart by experiencing the atonement of my Savior.

Forgiveness does create beauty…such a lovely thought, isn’t it?

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sacred sabbaths: more on grace

Jun 24, 2012 by

Grace has been on my mind a lot lately. For about a year I have been pondering, studying, discussing, and writing about grace. It all started last July when I watched a BYU devotional address by Brad Wilcox entitled His Grace Is Sufficient.

It changed my life. It put into concrete terms the ideas I had swirling around in my soul. It helped me see the flaws of so many of our (LDS) teaching methods and stories. It helped me understand why I and so many others have felt, at times, hopeless and the inability to ever be enough.

It helped me fully own that I will never be enough…and taught me why it is okay (even wonderful!) that I am not.

If you haven’t watched it, go do it. Then come back for the rest of my grace thoughts.

I have shared Brad’s thoughts with many of my friends and had lengthy discussions on the nature of grace, grace vs. works, how we progress in this life and in the next, what is the essence of being, how cleansing really happens, what is the process of giving our heart to our Savior, how does Christ make a new being out of our current selves, and much more.

Good discussions, all of them. So much food for thought.

Like most Latter-day Saints that have been over the age of twelve in the past twenty years, I have read Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson multiple times. I have loaned it out to others and raved enthusiastically about its contents. In the past year of pondering the concept of grace I have rejected Robinson’s most famous parable, The Parable of the Bicycle, because I believe it is not only an inaccurate allegory of how the atonement works, but is also hugely damaging to people’s beliefs about themselves and their relationship with their Savior. I do not mean to disparage the book or Brother Robinson’s concepts, for I have had wonderful, soul-sustaining experiences with his words. I DO mean to say that I believe the Parable of the Bicycle is built on a false premise and has taught a message of conditional redemption that is lacking in both truth and life-changing substance.

I believe that grace is the only power by which we are saved, that Christ’s atoning sacrifice does not kick in “after all we can do,” but is the power that allows us to progress in any miniscule manner whatsoever. I don’t believe we need to contribute .61 to the cause like the little girl in the parable and then, because that .61 represents all we can do, all our hard work, ALL of our efforts, then, and only then, does the grace of God come into play. I believe God’s grace is there all along and yet, so often, we do not accept it into our lives when we believe it will have power for us after all we can do…because nothing will ever be ALL we can do. I can convince myself that I can do better, do different, do more, and that if I just figure out how to do so, then God could/would help me.

Lately, I have been reading this article series that revisits the concepts in Believing Christ. I have thoroughly enjoyed the intellectual and spiritual journey the series has taken me on and I invite you to read and then come back here to discuss your ideas and understandings of grace. I know I don’t have it all wrapped up in a perfectly deciferable package and I would like to solidify my thoughts on grace by discussing them with you. Are you up for it? If so, go read or watch or study or pray or whatever suits your fancy for learning God’s truths and then share your thoughts with me.

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sacred sabbaths: d&c 58:3

Jun 10, 2012 by

Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.

A couple of weeks ago I was given these words to ponder. They changed my life and I want to remember them always. I want to remember that I don’t know, I can’t understand the ways of God. I can’t see his purposes for my experiences.

But I CAN trust. I CAN believe. I CAN have faith that He loves me and is working for my good.

Father, I thank thee for thy loving, tender care and thy wisdom in teaching me, growing me, and bringing me home to thee.

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the miracle

Apr 1, 2012 by

Shawna Edwards, a cousin of mine, has created a beautiful song illuminating her love for the Savior. I love this song and hope at least one of my girls will memorize it and perform it.

If you would like information about the history of this song, to receive a free download of it, or to print off the sheet music, visit Shawna at her site (pretty funny that we have the same website theme…of course mine has been tweaked a lot by the amazing Jessica at Eleven Sixty).

Happy Palm Sunday today, Passover on Friday, and Easter on Sunday. What a week!

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sacred sabbaths: gary ceran’s heart

Mar 11, 2012 by

Today I stayed home from church again. I listened to several religious podcasts, read my scriptures, and slept.

I want to share one of the things I listened to with you. It touched me heart deeply and led me to ponder my own faith in God’s plan for my life.

This is the story of Gary Ceran, one of our favorite Hale Centre Theatre actors, and how he lost his wife and two children on Christmas Eve in 2006 while keeping his faith in a loving Heavenly Father intact. I loved hearing his story and feeling his peace.

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sacred sabbaths: they knew not the dealings of god

Jan 8, 2012 by

I have recently started reading The Book of Mormon. I have read it many times before by myself and as a family and I gain new insights about myself, about life, and about my Savior each time I read it. I love it and I am so, so grateful for the truths it teaches.

Last night, we were reading 1 Nephi, where we are introduced to Laman and Lemuel, two sons of the prophet Lehi. Laman and Lemuel murmur, moan, and groan their whole lives. They are full of jealousy, unbelieving hearts, and a lack of commitment to the truths they are taught. They do not believe the words of their father and they make the lives of those around them quite unpleasant.

Last night as we read, I noticed a sentence that struck right to my heart. In 1 Nephi 2:12 it says

And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.

Did you catch that? They murmured because they knew not the dealings of that God who created them. That phrase is powerful. They may have been taught all about Jehovah. They may have been raised hearing the words of the Lord from their Priests. They may have known the stories of the children of Israel. They may have joined their fellow Israelites in prayer and supplication asking God for the Messiah to come. They may have offered sacrifice. And yet, right there, it says they knew not the dealings of God. What does that mean? To me, it means they didn’t know, really know how God feels about His children. It means, they did not understand that the purpose of this life is to return to God. It means that they did not know that God is working, endlessly working, to bring us home to him. It means they did not know how much He loves them. It means they did not know how He works to bring us home. It means they had a false picture of God in their heads and most definitely in their hearts for they did not know Him at all. They knew of Him, but they did not KNOW Him.

How many times in our lives have we done the same thing? How many times have I murmured because I did not have an accurate understanding of God? How many times have I felt abandoned or abused because I did not understand how He was working in my life? How many times could I quote a scripture, but lacked the essential knowledge of the saving power of the words?

Many. Far too many.

As I study the scriptures and read of His dealings with His children in other ages and times, I see a God who is full of love for His children. I see a God who is merciful and tender and powerful and majestic and who LOVES. As I move through this life and rely on Him more fully, I have come to know a God who loves me. Who knows me. Who reaches out to me again and again and again. Who doesn’t give up on me. Who blesses me in ways I cannot even comprehend.

I have a dear, dear friend who is struggling right now. She is struggling because she knows not the dealings of God. She can give all the Sunday School answers about who God is and how He loves us. She has read all about the Atonement and His grace and mercy. She knows the answers. She just doesn’t believe them enough to really know them…to own them as her own life-saving answers that will bring her home to Him and to the joy that only choosing to follow God can bring.

Knowing Him is the only way we can stop murmuring and start seeing the truth of His words, of His plan for His children. Knowing Him is how we are changed into followers of God because as we come to understand, truly understand, how He feels about us, we are filled with a safety in His arms, a security in His fold, and a softness in our hearts to do what He asks us to do. We are given strength to obey and strength to love. We are given sustenance to nourish us as we learn how to choose Him over and before all else.

I pray for my friend this day and all days. I pray for her to be able to believe the truths she has learned enough to trust them and to open her heart to her God so He can teach her how He really feels about her…and how He plans to deal with her…with love and with a tenderness she longs for…but will only find in the arms of her Savior.

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sacred sabbaths: men’s hearts shall fail them

Dec 4, 2011 by

We watched this short clip at church today and it touched me deeply. I realized I had a similar experience this summer with my lump. I felt unprepared to meet my maker and I was scared. This movie forced me to think about that and to think of what I learned from that experience. I learned to more fully trust my God and to more fully give my heart to Him.

I am grateful for those lessons and grateful to know that through trusting God true peace comes. I don’t always do it, but I know when I do do it that my heart feels more centered, more calm, more connected.

I don’t know that I will ever be completely calm as I fall to my death, but I am doing much better with the prospect than I was 6 months ago.

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sacred sabbaths: learned from, not lived in

Nov 13, 2011 by

sacred sabbaths: learned from, not lived in

The past, that is.

Look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences, but not the ashes. And when we’ve learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we’ve experienced, we look ahead. We remember that faith is always pointed towards the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives.

Apparently, Lot’s wife was not able to look ahead. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she had. She thought that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind.

These thoughts are coming from a BYU devotional by Jeffrey R. Holland that I listened to today. I recommend you listen to it too.

To yearn to go back to a world that cannot be lived in now…this is the problem Lot’s wife had…and a problem many of us have…including me. These thoughts remind me of this post from over two years ago.

He goes on to talk about not just letting our own pasts go, but to let other’s go as well and to stop dwelling on their past mistakes…stop throwing other’s sins, situations, and sorrows back at them. I loved these thoughts and am going to do an inventory of myself to see if I am holding on to the past in a way that is not only not helpful, it is not Christlike.

Then he encourages us to hold on to our dreams, to work for them, to have hope for the future. Powerful thoughts in these times that can be seen as dismal and discouraging.

He closes with this powerful statement, which I want to engrave upon my heart:

Live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness, of trust and divine love that will transform your life today, tomorrow, and forever.

Happy Sabbath!

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sacred sabbaths: the gospel vs. the church

Oct 23, 2011 by

Last week at our church services we were taught the difference between being active in the gospel and being active in the church. I loved this talk! Brother Hallstrom said “We can be perfectly active in the church, fulfilling our callings and completing the tasks assigned to us, and not be active in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Isn’t that the truth?

In some ways, we have created our own modern-day Law of Moses with lists of things to do and not to do, places to go and not to go, foods to eat and not to eat, and endless minutia to fill up our days…and we can do all that without ever thinking of our Savior and His redemptive power. We can serve and clean and call and check off all the things on our “Good Christian” list without involving our hearts or striving to serve as He would serve.

I know because I have done it.

It is perfectly possible to serve in the church without communing with God.

It is perfectly possible to know all the answers about how to be a Christian without actually giving your soul to Him, without trusting Him to guide your life, without submitting to Him.

But doing so doesn’t compare to the fullness of joy we feel when we are actively seeking Him, loving Him, serving Him, and obeying Him.


He is the reason.

The everything.

And the church exists to bring us to Him.

Here is the difference:

The Church is the organization created to help us live the gospel. It is our temple, welfare, humanitarian, missionary, and local efforts. It is important work. It changes lives. It feeds people. It is good, but it is not sufficient.

The gospel is God’s plan of happiness for His children. It is that we are spirit children of heavenly parents who have been given a body and an opportunity to come to earth to learn and grow and make covenants with the goal of having a life like our heavenly parents. At the center of the gospel is Jesus Christ whose great atoning sacrifice makes this possible.

Some questions to ask ourselves are:

* How forgiving am I?

* How repentant am I?

* How much faith do I have?

* How charitable am I in my heart?

* What do I think of in my spare time?

* How connected do I feel to Jesus Christ?

* How connected do I feel to my Heavenly Father?

* How obedient am I to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?

* How willing am I to share the good news of the gospel with others?

These are good questions to keep me centered on what is essential and what the state of my heart is. I hope to be identified as a Christian woman by not only my outward actions, but my inward communion as well, for that is what really matters.

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sacred sabbaths: Him

Sep 4, 2011 by

Today our church service was exactly what I needed. I could feel the Spirit powerfully and tenderly. I was able to partake of the Sacrament and commune with my Savior. I was able to testify of His wisdom and plan for my life. I was able to feel His love more deeply. I was able to rejoice in His goodness. I was able to share His love with others.

A few days ago, my friend Melissa did some energy work with me and helped me process a whole range of emotions. Since our visit, I have been thinking about my Savior and how I can listen to Him more, how I can trust Him to direct my life, and how I can rely on Him more fully, how I can rely on me less. It is a journey that we each must take if we are to truly become His followers…and if we are to have peace.

The words to this song keep playing in my mind:

I know that my redeemer lives.
I know that my redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives.
He lives he lives, who once was dead.
He lives my ever-living head.
He lives to bless me with his love.
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed.
He lives to bless in time of need.

He lives to grant me rich supply.
He lives to guide me with his light.
He lives to comfort me went faint.
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears.
He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart.
He lives all blessings to impart.

He lives my kind wise heavenly friend.
He lives and loves me to the end.
He lives and while he lives I’ll sing.
He lives my prophet, priest and king.
He lives and grants me daily breath.
He lives and I shall conquer death.
He lives my mansion to prepare.
He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives all glory to his name.
He lives my Savior still the same.
Oh sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my redeemer lives”
He lives all glory to his name.
He lives my savior still the same.
Oh sweet the joy this sentence gives:
I know that my redeemer lives.

Oh, how I love my Savior!

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sacred sabbaths: the great divorce

Aug 28, 2011 by

sacred sabbaths: the great divorce

Today I started reading C.S. Lewis’ classic on choosing heaven over hell, The Great Divorce. I had always wondered at the strange title until I read about William Blake’s work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Lewis offers this work as a rebuttal to Blake’s work and puts forth the idea that the two cannot coexist in our hearts…we must choose heaven completely or we will be in hell.

I am loving it so far! Who else has read it and what are your thoughts?

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sacred sabbaths: grace

Jul 31, 2011 by

You know that article I encouraged you to read yesterday? Well, now I have watched the whole talk that the article was based on and now you will hear me shouting.


If you have ever wondered how the atonement works, if you have ever wondered about faith vs. works vs. grace, if you have ever felt like giving up and giving in, if you have ever not measured up to your so-called best, if you have read the phrase “after all we can do” and been misled about grace ever since, if you have ever wondered if you are enough, please, please, go watch this talk clear to the end and let God’s love for you sink deep into your soul.

I cannot tell you how many times I have felt like giving up because I was just not heaven material. I was not measuring up to what I knew I “should” be doing. I judged someone…again. I lost my patience…again. I didn’t have an organized home, or a nutritious meal, or clean laundry for everyone…again. I tried to punish myself for my faults instead of turning to the Savior for help…again. I didn’t accept His love into my heart…again. I carried burdens instead of giving them up…again. I became exasperated with my Richard…again. I gave into hopelessness…again.

I have been learning this lesson for awhile now…and this talk really cemented it into me…His grace is sufficient. He is with me (if I let Him be) and His love, power, and mercy can and will help me through each experience of my life…my time of learning heaven.

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sacred sabbaths: the family

Jul 10, 2011 by

The lessons today in both Primary (our children’s program) and Relief Society (our organization for women) were about the family…its sacredness, its stewardships, its sovereignty, its power, its health, and its influence. Hence, this afternoon I have been thinking about both the family and my family.

The family is in in trouble. The institution of the family is constantly being attacked, denigrated, ignored, or damaged by numerous influences ranging from gas prices to technology and from UN treaties to obsession with having and doing more. Some attacks are obvious, some are subtle, regardless, they are present and they are effective. This leaves me with a choice…what do I do about it?

I clearly remember the day in September 1999 that I heard the Relief Society Declaration for the first time.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:

Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.

Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.

Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.

Delight in service and good works.

Love life and learning.

Stand for truth and righteousness.

Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.

Rejoice in the blessings of the temple, understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation.

As these words were read, I felt the Spirit of God powerfully throughout my whole being. I knew right then that one of my missions in life is to strengthen the family. I knew that my work as a doula is one part of that and that my focus in attending birthing families must be to help them become closer and more committed to one another through their birth. I also knew that being a doula was not the only thing God was calling me to do. I felt strongly that He had a work for me to do that would involve building, defending, and buttressing the families of this world.

Since that time, I have made it a priority of my life to strengthen families in my personal interactions with them, to help create community events that bless families lives, to work for legislation that is pro-family, and to further commit myself to my own family. This is not a task for the faint of heart. It is huge and I believe it is the greatest fight we can wage.

I recently went to the movie Thor with my mom. I wasn’t all that excited to see it and didn’t love it or anything, but I did take a valuable lesson away from it. If Thor’s brother, Loki, had felt loved and valued by his parents, he would not have started a war that caused the deaths of thousands (millions?) of people. His unfulfilled heart guided his choices to destroy his world and many others. As I thought about that, I thought of other wicked leaders who have caused countless deaths, despair, and sorrow. Many of them have admitted that their home lives were not nurturing and I have to believe that if they had been, their choices would have been very different.

So often in our daily lives and especially in Richard’s work with families, we see that the root problem in someone’s behavior is the lack of healthy family relationships, the lack of parental boundaries, the lack of love and acceptance in their lives. It doesn’t matter what the professionals do to fix the child…until the family is fixed, the professionals work is much like a band-aid on a hemorrhaging cut. It will never be enough.

So, what does this all mean for me? It means I must be first and foremost committed to being the kind of mother who binds her children to her with her love for them, her teachings to them, and her courage to choose the Lord’s way. My children need to know how I feel about them, what I believe, and what I place priority on. They need to know they can trust me to do and be what I say. They need to feel my love. They need to be able to feel God’s love for them through the spirit in our home. They need to know my role of mother is paramount in my life and that I LOVE being their mom.

It also means I need to continue to be a voice for the family, both in public and private. I need to help others catch a vision of what family life can be. I need to build families up and help them be as strong as they can be. I need to spread the message that the family unit is sovereign and each family has the right, authority, and stewardship to make decisions for their family. It means I need to join together with other people to create pro-family organizations, traditions, laws, and regulations.

My mom gave me the Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book for my 35th birthday and I love reading it. His lexicon is vast and his ability to make his point clearly is perhaps unsurpassed. In honor of the family, I would like to share some of my favorite quotes from this great speaker.

The human family – without the gospel or without strong families – is not going to go very far. Unless we can fix families, we can’t fix anything else. Most of the problems that are most vexing are things government can’t fix. They have to be fixed at a different level. That’s the urgency of our message. I’d rather have ten commandments than ten thousand federal regulations…Unless we rebuild marriages and families, then we really are just straightening deck chairs on the Titanic.

Looking beyond the family to other institutions, programs, or activities – which may be good and helpful in their spheres – can be disastrous. The family is still the most efficient means for producing human happiness and human goodness, as well as for preparing us for the world of immortality that is to follow.

Alas, in some families do go wretchedly wrong, but these gross failures are no reason to denigrate further the institution of the family. We should make course corrections and fix the leaks, not abandon ship!

The health of the family is a better barometer of things to come in our political and economic world than we care to admit. The malcontents and assassins and militants who will do so much to harm society tomorrow are already aflame in the overheated family furnaces of today. It could be said of our increasing social interdependency that never have so few been able to hurt so many so much.

Just as a giant solar flare reaching skyward from our sun ends up causing stormy weather on the earth, today’s failure – or success – in an obscure family thousands of miles away may touch us later far more than we know.

Society should focus anew on the headwaters – the family – where values can be taught, lived, experienced, and perpetuated. Otherwise…we will witness even more widespread flooding downstream, featuring more corruption and violence.

Why should it surprise us, by the way, that life’s most demanding tests as well as the most significant opportunities for growth in life usually occur within marriage and the family? How can revolving door relationships, by contrast, be as real a test of our capacity to love? Is being courteous, one time, to the stranger on the bus as difficult as being courteous to a family member who is competing for the bathroom morning after morning? Does fleeting disappointment with a fellow office worker compare to the betrayal of a spouse? Does a raise in pay even approach the lift we receive from rich family life?

As with all of the eternal virtues, the family garden is the best place in which to grow and nurture the capacity for long-suffering. Daily family life is filled with opportunities to extend love and mercy.

Sickness of spirit in a family is carried to the office or classroom just as surely as the flu.

Someday a real history can be written that will tell us how many misshapen mortals came from home fatally flawed and who then made the whole human family an enlarged before and on which they acted out the drama of that original deficiency.

The flame of family can warm us and at the same time be a perpetual pilot light to rekindle us.

In a world filled with much laboring and striving in parliaments, congresses, agencies, and corporate offices, God’s extraordinary work is most often done by ordinary people in the seeming obscurity of a home and family.

I am grateful for the reminder today to refocus my efforts on the family, both mine and others. Having come from a family that wasn’t always peaceful or safe, I am committed to helping families thrive and become forces for good in this world.

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sacred sabbaths: blessing

May 16, 2011 by

Last night, my husband laid his hands on my head and gave me a blessing. For those of you not familiar with our faith, we believe the Priesthood of God has been restored and worthy men are ordained to hold the Priesthood and are instructed to use it to bless the lives of God’s children.

It is much too precious to share, but I wanted to write down my thoughts and feelings so I will always remember them.

What a glorious experience! I came away knowing God loves me and feeling an overwhelming gratitude for that love. I am so, so thankful for the atonement of my Savior. I am so grateful for the opportunity to repent and be forgiven. I am grateful for truth. I am grateful for guidance from a loving Father above. I am grateful for the words that were spoken and how they pierced my heart with their power. I am grateful for dear friends who loved me enough to come and be with me.

I want to bask in this feeling for the rest of my life…but I know it will dim and I will forget the tenderness of my feelings at this time. So I am sharing them here so I have a record to read again and again…to remember the love my God has for me.

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sacred sabbaths: his perspective

May 1, 2011 by

New eyes.

This is what I fasted for today.

Eyes like God’s. Eyes to see my precious children how He sees them. Eyes that directly influence the words that come out of my mouth. Eyes that build up, not tear down. Eyes that show not only my love for them, but God’s as well. Eyes that they want to look into. Eyes that build courage, faith, hope, and resilience.

May my Heavenly Father grant unto me this blessing. I desperately need it.

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sacred sabbaths: easter thoughts

Apr 24, 2011 by

As I woke up on this glorious Easter morning, these words came to my mind.

Because He lives,
I am

Because He died,
I can

Because He loves,
I hope

Because He comforts,
I heal

Because He speaks,
I know

I am the way, the truth, and the life.

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.

I love my Savior. I love His plan. I love His presence in my life. I love Easter.

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sacred sabbaths: marriage

Apr 17, 2011 by

I read this post today and it touched me deeply. Healthy marriages are the glue that hold society together and for the past year or so I have been confronted with many of my friends getting separated, divorced, or putting up with a love-less marriage only because they aren’t willing to leave. The fragility of marriage has hit me square in the face and broken my heart again and again and again. On the day I found out about one friend’s husband leaving her and her four children, I sat in my bed and sobbed for over an hour. I called Richard and told him, “I love you, I love you, I love you. Don’t ever doubt that, don’t ever leave me, don’t ever give up on us.” I’ve always known people who have gotten divorced and I haven’t been all that surprised, but the people I am talking about are people who have had good marriages. People who have made and lived by their marriage covenants. People who are dear to my heart and who I would never have IMAGINED leaving those covenants.

People like me.

And it scared me to my bones.

I had felt for a long time that our marriage was untouchable. Our marriage was safe. Our marriage would not be one of those marriages that end.

And now I had to face the fact that marriages like ours were ending. Marriages that I believed were safe were no longer even on life support, much less thriving.

I have been reeling with this heartbreak and fear and sorrow and heaviness for months. The dissolution of these families is so incredibly painful to me. My heart breaks for the children. I remember what I felt like when my dad left us. The feeling of emptiness, of wrongness haunts me to this day. My heart breaks for the wives and husbands. The feelings of loss and guilt and regret and hurt must be overwhelming. My heart breaks for their parents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends. Each of us loses when a family dissolves. Each of us is hurt in some way.

I know part of my mission in life is to strengthen the family. I know it through and through and yet, I often don’t know what to do to accomplish my mission. This post touched my heart because this woman is sending a clarion call to Christians everywhere to strengthen the family by serving and loving in marriage even when you don’t feel like it. Staying when you want to leave. Her words are full of wisdom and I hope millions will read them and determine to strengthen their own marriages.

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sacred sabbaths: bearing testimony of christ

Jan 23, 2011 by

We are blessed to have a dedicated, spiritually-minded, focused on Christ, Primary Presidency. They are focused on teaching the children about Jesus and how to recognize the Spirit of God. They are making their lessons very real to the children and teaching them in ways they can understand. They share their feelings about our Savior every single week and are bringing Him right into their hearts. This week our lesson was about how the Spirit can testify to us when we listen with our hearts and when He does we can KNOW, truly know, something is true.

The Primary Presidency asked several of us to share our testimonies of Jesus in other languages so the children could practice listening with their hearts when they couldn’t understand the words. One sister shared her feelings in Finnish, one brother in Polish, and I shared in sign language. Wow! It was incredibly powerful to listen and feel. It was a blessing in my life to be able to share my love for my Savior with these precious children. As I signed, I thought much more carefully about my words than I do when I speak. I had to slow down and really think about what I know to be true. I think the children felt the Spirit…I know I did!

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sacred sabbaths 11/14: forgiving like jesus

Nov 14, 2010 by

What a wonderful day at church! I taught my little five-and six-year-olds about forgiveness. I taught them that being a follower of someone means we do what they do and how we can be followers of all sorts of different people and different ideas. We talked a little about being a follower of Muhammed, Confucious, a football player, a movie star, or a myriad of other things. We talked about being a follower of Jesus and how if we want to be His follower we need to strive to do the things He does. I then proceeded to share the story of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, his experience in Gethsemane, his trial, and his crucifixion. All of the children sat and listened with love, sadness, and earnestness. They were absolutely silent and I could tell they were falling in love with their Savior. It was one of the most magical moments of my life. I felt just like Jo in Little Men when she teaches Nat about the love of Jesus and it opens a whole new world for him.

I love my calling! I have been teaching the same group of children since they were Sunbeams (three-year-olds). In just a few short weeks they will be moving up to the next class and I don’t know if I will get moved up with them or not. If not, I only have a couple more lessons to share my heart with them and I cry just thinking about it. I want them to always know that I know that Jesus loves them and that He wants them to return to Him.

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sacred sabbaths: add to your faith

Oct 30, 2010 by

I have a painting in my home called Add To Your Faith by Walter Rane. He is my favorite artist. He speaks to my soul. His art connects to me in a way that art rarely does.


This painting sits on the wall at the bottom of our stairs on the way to our school room. It sits there intentionally to remind me of the proper order of things.

Tonight at a church meeting I was reminded again how much I love 2 Peter.

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindess charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have often been drawn to knowledge above all else. I love learning. I love research. I love to prove things. I love being right. I love knowing things.

But Peter says knowledge is third. Faith is first. Virtue is second. Faith and virtue are so hard, while knowledge is so easy. At least for me.

So I placed my painting where I would see it every day on our way downstairs to study and learn and grow together. I want to remind myself every single day that the development of faith is of utmost importance. I need to give all diligence to the sacred work of growing in faith. Of believing in things which are not seen. On developing the power of faith in my life. Of nurturing faith in my children. I need to be reminded because I am weak. I am drawn to other things. I have some silly notion that I can actually think my way right back to heaven. Peter reminds me that I cannot and that some other things are far more important.

Now reread Peter’s words again. Slowly.

He says grace and peace are multiplied through our knowledge of God and of Jesus.

I need grace and peace desperately. The mountain of stress, fear, anxiety, and burdens is greater than I can handle. I’m sure it is greater than anyone can handle. Tonight this verse said to me that as my knowledge of my Heavenly Father and His Son increases, my grace and peace will be multiplied. I must spend more time on my knees in prayer speaking to Him. I must immerse myself in God’s word that I may come to know them better.

In verse three it says He hath called us to glory and virtue. I am called. You are called. We are called to glory and virtue! Called by God to glory! What an immense and amazing blessing.

In verse four we are given precious blessings, blessings that I need in abundance. We are promised to be partakers of the divine nature. What is the divine nature? It is God. He is divine. The way to be partakers of that divine nature is by coming to know Him, building faith in Him, adding to that virtue, then knowledge, then temperance, then patience, then godliness, then brotherly kindness, then charity.

Then, THEN, we will not be barren or unfruitful in our knowledge of Christ because we will know Jesus is the Christ and we will know Jesus the Christ.

I love 2 Peter. I love Peter all the time actually, in whatever letter he is writing. I love his boldness and his steadfastness and his faith and his courage and his humility and his great love for the body of Christ that he helped nurture and build. Can you imagine being Peter? Being one of the few followers of Jesus and given the mandate to spread His words to all the world and to strengthen the church and to calm confusion over Christ’s words and to travel in less than stellar conditions and to be in charge of the whole shebang?

And I sometimes think my life is daunting?

I needed Peter’s reminder tonight.

I still don’t know what to do about our vehicle situation, but I poured my heart out to God and cried and it felt really good to trust that He knows what is needed and He will show us the way.

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sacred sabbaths 9/19: i know that my savior loves me

Sep 19, 2010 by

This song is a keeper! I love singing it and I especially love hearing the children in my Primary sing it. It is so beautiful! Today I cried as I sang these words, it was so wonderful to hear so many children sing of their love for the Savior and His love for them with huge smiles on their faces. If you haven’t heard it yet, you can listen (and watch!) it here.

A long time ago in a beautiful place,
Children were gathered ’round Jesus.
He blessed and taught as they felt of His love.
Each saw the tears on His face.
The love that He felt for His little ones
I know He feels for me.
I did not touch Him or sit on His knee,
Yet, Jesus is real to me.

I know He lives!
I will follow faithfully.
My heart I give to Him.
I know that my Savior loves me.

Now I am here in a beautiful place,
Learning the teachings of Jesus.
Parents and teachers will help guide the way,
Lighting my path ev’ry day.
Wrapped in the arms of my Savior’s love,
I feel His gentle touch.
Living each day, I will follow His way,
Home to my Father above.

I know He lives!
I will follow faithfully.
My heart I give to Him.
I know that my Savior loves me.

Copyright © 2002 by Tami Jeppson Creamer and Derena Bell. All rights reserved. This song may be copied for incidental, noncommercial home or church use. This notice must be included on each copy made.

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sacred sabbaths 9/12: singing in the sun

Sep 12, 2010 by

After an evening of being grumpy as heck and feeling ready to completely fall apart at any given moment, I was blessed with the loveliness of the Sabbath. Yesterday I felt like I wanted to claw someone. I wanted to scream and I was saying not very nice things to people I love. Now, I am feeling calm and settled and loved by my Savior.

The key? Sleeping in today cuddled in my sweet one’s arms. Partaking of the sacrament and pondering my behavior and my heart. Teaching a lesson to my CTR 5 class. And the best part? Walking home from church in the bright sunshine, holding hands with Fisher and Annesley, and singing “Follow the Prophet,” “Pioneer Children,” “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Gethsemane,” and “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus.”

Every time I walk home from church I think about being a little girl and walking home from my grandparent’s church with whatever cousins were also there visiting. I loved visiting their ward and felt as comfortable there as I did in my own ward because the people in their ward treated us like family. It is a wonderful thing to worship with people who love you.

The Sabbath was just what I needed today. Just what I needed to put a smile on my face again. I think I will go read some more in The Hidden Christ, it is a book I love to savor on Sunday afternoons.

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sacred sabbaths 8/22: remember

Aug 22, 2010 by

Keziah and Blythe were asked to sing in sacrament today. The song they chose is called “Remember” and it is one of the lovely songs from Stories of Jesus, which is our favorite CD about our Savior. This is the same CD that has “Gethsemane” and “See the Joy” that I have written about in the past. The whole album is incredible! You can download the whole thing at Hoffman House for only 6.99!

I tried to get a picture of the girls all dressed up, but due to Keziah’s feistyness none of them turned out. Keziah is making silly faces in all of them. Just trust me…they looked beautiful.

Since the front shots didn’t turn out, here are some pictures of the braiding creation I did for Keziah. According to someone at church, she looked like an angel.


Here are the words to the song…enjoy!


Remember the Man who walked on the water.
Remember the Man who talked to the sea.
Remember the Man whose hands healed the sick;
Who cared about children and what they can be.

Oh, remember. He asks us to remember.
Oh, remember. Always remember Him.

Remember the Man, the gentle Good Shepherd.
The one who fed thousands and brought us good news.
Remember the Man who came to save everyone,
Gave us the truth and taught us to choose.

Oh, remember. He asks us to remember.
Oh, remember. Always remember Him.

Remember the Man who carried our sorrows.
The Man who in three days rose from the dead.
Remember the Man who said “Be of good cheer”
And kept all His promises just as He said.

Oh, remember. He asks us to remember.
Oh, remember. Always remember Him.

Oh, remember. He asks us to remember.
Oh, remember. Always remember Him.

by Roger and Melanie Hoffman

Isn’t that beautiful! The girls did a wonderful job. I love hearing them sing and am grateful the Lord has blessed them with this talent so they can spread His love.

May we more fully remember Him, today and always.

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yes, i love my ward

Aug 15, 2010 by

First Sunday back to my ward (local congregation of my church) after missing it for three weeks in a row and I fell in love all over again.

As I looked around me, I realized how much I love these people I gather with to worship with on a weekly basis. Some of them struggle with their faith, some struggle with obedience, some struggle with loving, some struggle with having patience, some struggle with their children, some struggle with making it through a three hour service. In short, we all struggle…and it is wonderful to struggle together! To have a ward family that supports, encourages, loves, rescues, and celebrates together. I was full of love for each of them…and I could feel their love for me. I could feel I had been missed and felt just how much I missed all of them.

A special friend who hasn’t been to church in over a year was there today. When I saw her, I had to leave my seat and go give her a huge hug. I was so happy for her and so proud of her for overcoming her fears and for coming to join us. I wanted to shout Hallelujah – and you know I did in my heart.

It was wonderful to be with my little five and six year olds and teach them a lesson about obedience and the happiness it brings. It was wonderful to see their smiles, get their hugs, and see their zest for life.

I know my ward will be divided soon and I am sad – I don’t want to lose any of these souls I have come to love.

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sacred sabbaths 4/18: gideon

Apr 18, 2010 by

I am considering having a new weekly post topic…a Sabbath day post of a story or insight to add meaning or reflection to my Sabbath day…and yours as well. I’m not sure if I will stick with it or not, but I am at least going to do it this week.

We just attended a wonderful Sacrament meeting where Richard’s aunt and uncle spoke. They are leaving on a mission in Seoul, South Korea and were asked to share their thoughts on living like Christ with their congregation. Uncle Phil shared the story of Gideon and his army. This is one of our family’s favorite stories. Are you familiar with it? If not, let me recount it for you.

Gideon had an army of 32,000 men. A pretty large army, no? His opponent had an army of 135,000 men. God told Gideon he had too many men in his army and needed to send some of them home. Now they were already outnumbered almost 5:1. Send some home? Reason says no. Strategy says no. God says yes. Gideon obeys and sends 22,000 home. Left with ten thousand men, Gideon must wonder how his army can win with a ratio of 13:1. Again, God says, there are too many men. Finally Gideon is left with 300 men who are watchful, alert, and obedient. Three hundred! How on earth can they even have the courage to go into battle against the Midianites who greatly outnumber them?


Not only do they go into battle, they stand firm in their places, they obey with exactness and they prevail.

Lesson learned?

If you do things in the Lord’s way, all things are possible. Not just some things, but ALL things.

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