these things i know

Jul 1, 2015 by

There are some things I know – a few things that are rock solid in my soul. I came to know them in the aftermath of a difficult time when everything I thought I knew come crashing down around me.

Last night we watched The Cokeville Miracle and quite unexpectedly it brought back all the feelings of that long ago summer of 1986 – the summer my life and all the things I thought about the world were turned upside down.

In the twelve weeks following my twelfth birthday, a series of events occurred that broke my heart in a million pieces, changed my perspective, and sent me on a journey to discover what I really could depend upon.

First, my dad left. My hero. My favorite guy. My world. He drove away to a new life with a new woman far across the country. The gut-wrenching tears that racked my soul are indescribable. In spite of the fact that there were challenges in my parents’ marriage, our family being torn apart and ceasing to exist as a FAMILY had somehow not occurred to me as a real possibility. When it happened, when he actually drove away and stayed away, I no longer knew what was real, what I could depend on and what I couldn’t.

The next week, the tragedy in Cokeville happened. Even though it didn’t happen TO me, it did happen just 90 minutes away in a tiny, sleepy ranching town that seemed perfectly safe and secure. And it crumbled my remaining foundation a little bit more. If a madman could go into a school, a tiny, safe school very close to my home, hold children hostage and attempt to blow them up, and it could be on national TV, anything was possible. ANYTHING. In my young, twelve-year-old mind that was trying desperately to make sense of the world, it meant my little sleepy town might not be as safe as I thought. It meant it could happen in my school and my friends and I could be the ones living that nightmare. It meant the world was full of crazy people. It meant I might not be safe any longer.

A few weeks later, I went on a trip and was molested. Once again, my world turned on its axis and I had no idea which was up or down, good or bad. All the attention by an older boy was flattering and it certainly felt good, at least physically, but my soul was full of blackness and revulsion.

About a month after that I was sent across the country to visit my dad. It was wonderful and hard and scary all at the same time. It was so, so good to see him and to spend time with him. At the same time, I could see clearly that he had a whole new life and it didn’t include me, not really anyway. He had a girlfriend and a new job in a new state and I could see he wasn’t ever going to be standing behind the plate umpiring my games or playing football on Sunday afternoons or unloading the semi-truck full of goods at our family’s grocery store again. As I watched him in his new life, it became crystal clear that all of this wasn’t just a bad dream and he truly wasn’t coming back. That hard, cold, bitter truth sunk deep into my soul and I felt completely adrift from what I thought life was supposed to be like.

While I was gone to visit my dad, my mother was raped. A man from our church congregation, a man I KNEW, came into our home, MY HOME, a place I thought was safe, and dragged my mother out to the field and raped her. I cannot begin to comprehend the fear and pain my mother went through that night and for many years following. It is beyond imaginable to me.

However, I do know what I went through. Life no longer felt safe in any way. This penetration of the wall of safety of my home changed me, terrified me and hardened me all at the same time. Just a few months prior, I had a family, a home, a family business, a church, a community, and a state that felt safe, secure, and protective. Those things were full of loving, strong, moral people who loved me and on whom I could depend.

My mother’s rape was the final blow to that picture in my mind. I no longer had any idea who was safe, what was good, what was strong and permanent and dependable. My foundation was gone, blown away like dust in a windstorm.

On the outside, I still functioned. For the most part, I probably looked okay to many people. But inside, I had died. I had no idea what was real. If family and home and church were not what I thought they were, maybe God wasn’t real either. Maybe He was just an idea that people clung to without really knowing if he existed or not. Or maybe He did exist, but instead of the loving God I had imagined, was mean and vengeful. Or maybe He did reign supreme, but He simply didn’t care about me. Without anything solid to hold onto, I was like a puff of dandelion seeds, being blown to and fro, trying to find someplace to land and plant new roots.

It took years for me to allow God to rebuild my foundation. Piece by piece He gave me solid bits of truth to give a mooring to my soul.

Sometime in that twelfth year I stopped praying. I could not open my heart to a being I didn’t know was real or if he was real, wasn’t concerned enough with me to protect me. Then I stopped crying. I think it was an attempt to stop feeling. In some ways, it worked. I was able to go through life, get straight A’s, put on a show of happiness that almost convinced even myself, and succeed in all the quantifiable measures of life, but my heart was mostly dead to feeling the good things and underneath the surface, a volcano of anger boiled ready to explode whenever a person would make some comment about how wonderful men are or how I needed to spend more effort preparing for marriage. Then the anger would erupt and frighten me with its passionate vehemence.

Truth be told, I was a mess. I knew all the Sunday School answers and I had great hope that the idea of a loving Heavenly Father and eternal families were true, but the evidence around me told a very different story and my logical mind could not discard the proofs surrounding me that God didn’t care about me, that men were despicable, and that the only thing I could count on was myself.

Through that pain and pride and sorrow, God began to speak to me in quiet, almost imperceptible ways. He would send a feeling of comfort, an act of kindness, or a moment of inspiration. He told me clearly in the scriptures that He did love me and that He sent His son to die for me and all of His children…even the ones who had hurt me so terribly. I remember one day sitting in seminary and reading these words.

Behold, it is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Moses 1:39

As I read them, God spoke to me. He whispered powerfully to the deepest parts of my soul that His entire purpose in being is to bring His children home to Him and that He was doing exactly that with me. He filled me with a certainty of His goodness and sureness of His capability to do His work. I can’t adequately describe the pure knowledge that flowed into me. In those few moments, I felt His peace and His love and came to know that He knew me personally and would do everything He could to bring me home.

That experience stayed with me. It changed me. It gave me several solid pieces of my foundation. One, I knew God was real. Two, I knew he knew me. Three, I knew he loved me. Four, I knew He was in the process of and would continue to teach, purify, and redeem me. Those are some pretty solid foundations and they have carried me and given me strength for many years.

Throughout the years, those bedrock truths have been strengthened by many more experiences with the Spirit and God’s hand in my life. He has guided me through the forgiveness process and taken the anger and hatred out of my heart. He has taught me again and again that I can trust Him and I must depend on Him. He has taught me that He is greater than any other power or force. He has shown me both His goodness and His glory as He heals my heart and changes my nature. Those original foundations have been added to with pieces of trust and reliance and miracles and peace.

I don’t know everything and I still have a long, long way to go in understanding Him and becoming like Him, but I know He is real. I know He is a God of miracles. I know He lives and loves and heals and transforms.

Last night, I sobbed through most of the movie. My feelings of fear and pain and sorrow from that harrowing summer came to the surface and poured out of me. My heart ached for the little girl I was who was trying her best to make sense of the destruction of all she held dear. And then, my heart filled with gratitude for those months and years of searching for something I could truly stand on and know it would not move. God gave me a new foundation, much stronger than my little girl hopes and dreams. He gave me His goodness and plan for all His children and continues to show me He is able to do His work to bring me and each of us home.

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Aug 17, 2014 by

Back in May I was given a new calling at church as the secretary to the Stake Primary Presidency. It is busy and full of meetings and I knew I could not add this calling into my already very full life without letting something else go.

But I didn’t know what to let go. I love all the things I do. LOVE THEM. In fact, it is pretty much impossible for me to do something if I am not passionate about it. So giving up something is really, really hard. I don’t have a list of things to say “no” to that I don’t really want to do – I have a list of things that are deeply important to my soul that I want to keep investing my time and energy in.

It has been hard to think and ponder and work up the courage to let something go. But I have done it. In July I officially resigned from the iFAMILY Board of Directors and over the past seven weeks we have been transitioning me off of the board. I have wept deep, heartfelt cries of anguish that no one really understands. iFAMILY has been my baby…I helped birth it and nurture it as it grew and now I am walking away from my position and trusting that the foundation laid is sufficient to carry it onwards. Oh, the heartache.

In spite of the pain of leaving, I know I needed to do this – I feel peace about it. I cannot serve my church in this calling and serve iFAMILY and have enough time with my children. For some reason I don’t yet understand, God is asking me to serve the children and leaders of my stake at this time. It is not my dream calling. It is not something I would have ever wanted to do. I am not very good at it. I continually say the wrong thing at our meetings. I come home feeling like I am not really making any sort of impact for good and wondering why on earth I am spending my time here instead of spending my time at iFAMILY where I can visibly see the impact of my service.

But I know God has asked me to do this. His Spirit has poured over me and told me God has called me to this position. So I will serve and try my best to love and learn and listen to His voice teach me.

And I will still cry.

And God will still love me.

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loveliness on a summer morn

Jun 23, 2014 by

Oh my, ten days without posting. Besides the fact (haha) that you are missing my words, it is entirely unhealthy for me to go that long without processing my thoughts through writing. Note to self: for a healthier psyche, write, write, write.

The sun is shining through my eastern window, filling my bedroom with fresh morning light. The sky is a radiant blue. The trees are full of cotton, which normally blows all around our yard like a soft-summer snowstorm, but this morning, in the stillness, the cotton hangs in the trees waiting for a breeze to release it. I hear the sprinklers shooting water all over the lawn, the chitch-chitch-chitch sounds of the rotating heads bringing order to my morning.

And all of this brings me hope. The morning comes. A new week is here with the promise of possibility. A clean slate waiting to be written upon.

This week I have a few goals.

  • Remember to be a fun mom.
  • Smile…a whole lot.
  • Get outside every single day. I can’t even tell you how many days I have spent living in this house. In this bedroom. I need to soak the summer air into my soul.
  • Figure out what classes I am teaching at iFamily (or not!)
  • Make the iFamily schedule.
  • Get the iFamily website done.
  • Get my new business website done.
  • Start a new read-aloud with Fisher and Annes…yes, we finally finished Hanne!
  • Make a decision about gymnastics for this fall.
  • Get my bedroom clean.
  • Get Richard’s summer special for SimplyHealed on his website.
  • Spend an hour every morning doing genealogy.
  • Organize my new school basket with Fisher’s and Annesley’s daily learning materials.
  • Spread joy.
  • Introduce our Happy Jar.
  • Rearrange and give the upstairs living areas a deep (overdue) spring cleaning.
  • Finish reading My Name Used To Be Muhammed
  • Find a location to hold my new classes on How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.

My jaw is improving, I can eat soft foods instead of drinking everything. Talking doesn’t hurt as much as it did a few weeks ago. Smiling is still pretty painful and laughter really hurts, but I will gladly take this over the condition it was in three weeks ago. My ankle is improving, still taped, and still limping a bit, but it is not hurting as much. If no other injuries happen, I will be able to start riding my awesome Elliptigo in the next few weeks.

Blessings abound.

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hearts and brains

Feb 28, 2013 by

hearts and brains

I love this picture so much. Mary Engelbreit is one of my favorite artists and her whimsical style always brings a smile to my face. This year I have her calendar on the wall in my kitchen and I am actually changing over the months in a timely manner (versus last year when I changed from April to October right before Halloween!). February features this Follow Your Heart picture and has had me thinking all month long.

Something about these words has worked its way down deep in my soul. I have thought and thought and thought about the balance between heart following and brain following, about reason vs. faith, about logic vs. passion, and have decided there is no “versus.” At least there doesn’t need to be. We don’t need to have reason or faith. We don’t need to have a heart or a brain. We need to have both. At least I do. I am most happy when my logic and my passion take me to the same result, but that doesn’t always happen, so I try to navigate my way through this life with both sides of me working together.

I taught at church on Sunday on this talk and was so grateful for the picture of airplane wings working together gave me.

Bearing in mind that faith and reason are necessary companions, consider the following analogy: faith and reason are like the two wings of an aircraft. Both are essential to maintain flight. If, from your perspective, reason seems to contradict faith, pause and remember that our perspective is extremely limited compared with the Lord’s. Do not discard faith any more than you would detach a wing from an aircraft in flight. Instead, nurture a particle of faith and permit the hope it produces to be an anchor to your soul — and to your reason.

Isn’t that a beautiful visual? Both parts are necessary. Both can work together to help us find peace. I want my airplane to fly with my heart and my brain.

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that awful place

Jan 20, 2013 by

Last night I fell apart. I traveled to the dangerous land of Everything-Is-Awful-And-You-Will-Never-Measure-Up. Have you been to that place? It isn’t on any tourist guides’ maps because no one wants to admit it exists. But it does. It is real. And sometimes I go there. Usually only on the day before my period starts and my progesterone levels are plummeting, which was the case last night, but sometimes I visit for no obvious reason at all.

Well, last night I did more than visit. I bought a house and applied for full-on citizenship.

I tried to convince Richard that I am a complete and total failure as a wife, a mother, a teacher, a homemaker, a meal cooker, a laundry washer, a goal setter, a disciple of Christ, and a body owner. I told him over and over and OVER again how terrible I am doing at EVERYTHING and how I am ready to leave so he can get someone in here who will do a better job. I knew he would say he wouldn’t marry anyone else, that he adores me, that there is no one else he would ever or could ever want, that I am wonderful and amazing and yada, yada, yada. So I preempted him by saying I could just leave and then he would HAVE to replace me. He would have to hire someone to teach our children and cook our food and clean our house and wash our laundry because he loves our children too much to not have someone take care of them. I told him I don’t have the skills or the knowledge or the brains or the SOMETHING to succeed at this motherhood thing and it is just too hard. I need to be my grandma, to have her skills and knowledge and ability to love, but I don’t have any of it and I am so tired of trying to figure it out and failing over and over again.

Then I really fell apart (is it possible to fall apart more?) and said I hated being me. I hate my broken body and my stupid ideas and I am SO DONE with trying to improve and trying to make changes and insisting that tomorrow will be better and I will be better and I will do what I set my mind to do and then failing again. I told him I am ONLY a burden to him, only a liability, that I give nothing good to anyone, and especially not to him. That my stupid body takes all of his money and all of his time and all of his emotions and I can’t handle being a burden to him or anyone else anymore. I cried and cried and cried.

It was a doozy.

This morning I tried to revoke my residency and citizenship in that awful land, but it wouldn’t give me my traveling papers and allow me to leave. Two more hours of nonsense this morning. Two more hours of tears. Two more hours of me hating being in bed for another day and having people take care of me again. AGAIN. I am so tired of all of this.

Then, I decided to listen to this talk by Sheri Dew. I sensed I needed her straight-shooting words and absolute reliance on Jesus Christ.

And it worked. She somehow worked her magic and got me released from the before-mentioned land and back into the land of gratitude and growth and love and peace. She talked about how when she was made President of Deseret Book she felt completely overwhelmed and that after several years she went to President Hinckley and told him she needed to be replaced by someone with the skills and knowledge and acumen that she didn’t have. She presented her case very logically (just like I did) and was sure he would see her point and replace her. But he didn’t. He called her back and said “Sheri, you will figure it out.” Just like Richard said to me. And she did. And maybe I will too.

Richard thinks I am doing a great job. He loves me. He believes in me. He understands how crazy-making this whole being-in-bed thing is. He understands how scared I am. He truly believes I am a smart cookie. He helps me catch of a vision of how God sees me.

Today I am going to immerse myself in that vision and rely on my Savior to keep me far away from that land where I will never be good enough and never know peace.

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inner voices

Jan 17, 2013 by

Just read this article and am now bawling. Read it. Let it sink in.

My children certainly have been suffering from my comments lately. This is a wonderful reminder to me of who I really want to be and what I really want them to hear.

I shudder to think of the things I have said that could be playing on their inner tape recorder.

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Jan 5, 2013 by

This is not a complaining post. It is a pondering post.

Yesterday at gym I felt great. Strong. Capable. I ran with the kids and did forward rolls with no problems. I jumped and danced and laughed and had a wonderful time. I still can’t walk well on the balance beam and when I went up on my tippy toes I fell off, but that is to be expected. My whole center of gravity is in my pelvis and my pelvis isn’t in the best structural condition. I felt so good I did a cartwheel. It pulled on the hip socket just the teensiest bit. A few hours later I did another one and it didn’t hurt at all.

Then I started to drive home. Stabbing pain. It felt like my hip socket had been stitched up with thread and someone was using a seam ripper to yank the threads out. Throughout the night the pain increased and my whole hip and thigh area ached. I drove out to a going away party for my friend, Liz (who is off to an adventure to Russia!), and the stabbing was awful. Just awful. I ended up lying down and giving in to a few tears while we talked the night away.

I don’t know what to think. How am I to know what I can and can’t do if in the moment of doing it everything seems fine? How am I to listen to my body and receive accurate information? How will I ever know if I am better? I have modified so many of my body’s movements that I really have no idea what my pain level would be if I were moving like a non-injured Tracy would move.

I asked Richard if perhaps my capabilities would continue to increase, but the pain would still be present…if I will be able to DO things, but do them with pain. And as I thought those thoughts I tried to imagine a life of pain. I have been doing everything I can to heal the labral tear *knowing* I would be out of pain when it was healed. Now I wonder it that is true. Maybe the pain is here to stay…and right now that thought feels unbearable.

This pain is such an interesting thing. I can smile and talk and laugh and live, but it is here. Always here. It weighs on me. It is heavy. I can’t always think clearly or focus on what is happening in the moment because my mind is on the pain. Sometimes I want to throw it off me and yell “No, I will not hurt anymore. I will not be part of this anymore!” I don’t know if distraction or engagement is the better course. To be honest, I really don’t know anything anymore. I know I am tired of hurting and tired of talking about hurting.

All of these feelings and thoughts swirl around me this morning and make me think of dependence on Christ. I cannot take this pain away. I cannot solve it. Only He can. I cannot solve the myriad other pains in my life either. I cannot solve sin. I cannot solve sorrow. I cannot solve my weaknesses, mortal state, proclivity to judge, the pain I have caused others, or desires for things of this world.

But He can.

Maybe all of this pain is to remind me once again to give it all to Him. My pain. My sorrow. My weaknesses. My heart. Everything.

Maybe this is one long journey to my Savior.

Maybe there are more lessons I need to learn.

Maybe this is the biggest blessing I could be given.


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my quest – an unexpected journey

Dec 16, 2012 by

Last night Richard and I went on a real life date! We have been planning for at least one year to go see The Hobbit on opening night. Well, we didn’t make it on opening night, but the third night isn’t too shabby for these once-a-year-movie-people.

Having just finished reading the book (check out this lovely hardcover edition for $8.66!) to my family on Thursday I knew the story and was pretty disappointed at all the changes made in the screen version. The movie stretches even the most creative imagination and puts forth several completely implausible scenarios that in my mind diminish the power of the message that a small band of people can work together and change the world…because any thinking person can see that this small band of people (dwarves, really) did not change the world in any believable way, the events are far too incredulous to apply to one’s own reality.

Having said that, I still loved the movie. I loved it for the powerful lines. I loved it for Gandalf’s vision, Bilbo’s courage and simple goodness, Thorin’s determination and leadership, Fili’s and Kili’s open hearts, Balin’s loyalty, Galadriel’s depth of soul, Elrond’s wisdom, and so much more.

Jackson added some scenes to the movie that Tolkien didn’t create in the book and while I know some people didn’t like the additions, I loved them. I think they added a great deal to the story and paint a broader picture for the events of Middle Earth. I loved seeing Dain in all its glory. I loved seeing the evidences of the Necromancer in Mirkwood.

How many times can I say “loved” in this post? Hmmm, I will try to come up with a different word. No guarantees though…my brain is running on fumes at the moment.

One line that jumped out at me was in the beginning of the film when the dwarves and Gandalf are making their plans and trying to get Bilbo to join them. Bilbo listens to the plans with their accompanying dangers and says “You’ve got the wrong Hobbit.”

Boy, did that jump out at me. I cannot tell you how many times I have said, “You’ve got the wrong wife.” That sentiment usually comes up when I am overwhelmed with a task in front of me or with regret over a behavior behind me. Sometimes I just *know* that I am not up to this life of wife-ing and mothering. Sometimes I am scared to give it my best shot because what if I give it my all and fail. Sometimes the whole thing seems so daunting, this raising up of souls, that I want to run away and do something else with my life because I *know* I can’t do it. I never planned on being a mother. I especially never planned on being a stay-at-home mother. I really, really, really never planned on being a homeschooling mother who cares about every bite her children eat, every song they listen to, every book they read, and every life they touch. I never planned this. I never wanted it. I still don’t know if I am up to it.

And that is when I say, “You’ve got the wrong wife.”

Richard chuckles and wraps me in his arms and tells me he absolutely has the right wife and he can’t imagine any better wife for him or mother for his children. I usually respond with a long list of traits that would serve this family better or a long list of people that would make him a much better wife, but he just holds me and encourages me and reassures me that I am doing a great work in a great cause for a great purpose.

And then I wake up and try again another day. Because not only do I know God has called me to this life, I love being a wife and mother.

I think he did pick the right wife, if only because I need him so desperately to be my companion and to teach me about Christlike love, humility, patience, and forgiveness.

Ultimately Bilbo decides to join the dwarf company and aid them on their quest. On the journey he discovers what he is made of and is changed into a new Hobbit. My hope is that just like Bilbo I am changing into a better, wiser, stronger, surer, deeper, humbler woman on my journey. For that is my quest.

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while there’s life

Dec 8, 2012 by

While there’s life there’s hope.

This line from The Hobbit jumped out at me and spurred all sorts of thoughts in my brain. Bear with me while I try to sort them out and share them with you in some semblance of coherency.

I think this theme of keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep working, keep trying, keep doing, keep becoming, keep on keeping on, no matter what the odds are against you, has become my take home message from Tolkien’s writings. It doesn’t matter how hopeless it looks. It doesn’t matter how absolutely impossible it appears. Our job is to keep trying…and to believe in some small recess of our soul (or our whole soul if we can muster it) that there is hope. Our task is to let God do what He will and to keep on working so He can do what He will. I must need to hear that lesson because it continues to jump out at me whenever I read his works.

There is not much hope that Bilbo and the dwarves will succeed in killing Smaug and reclaiming their treasure. There isn’t even much hope they will ever even get to Smaug alive in the first place. Despite the odds against them, they feel called to redeem their land, their home, their treasure, and their family’s honor. Time and time again it seems there is no way out of their predicaments and time and time again they are rescued or shown a new way or provided a solution to their obstacle.

Every single time.

In The Lord of The Rings, the task is even more impossible. It is completely ridiculous for anyone to believe for a moment that the nine members of the Fellowship have any chance of success in their quest to destroy the ring.

And yet, they set out with determination to do their best. They keep trying. And God works miracles. He delivers them. He sends help. He gives them small pieces of encouragement. He gives them ideas. He places people in their path at just the right time.

Just like He does for us.

They keep moving forward even when injured. They keep trying even when members of their fellowship are kidnapped and killed. They keep their faith alive even when darkness and evil appear to be winning. They keep doing their part even when Frodo is bitten by the spider and wrapped up for her to eat. In a last-ditch effort to give Frodo a little more time to reach Mt. Doom they mount a distraction effort at the Black Gate where they “know” they will be killed.

Galadriel tells Frodo “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” I believe that. I want my children to believe that. I want each and every child of God to know they have power and influence and capability to change the world. This saying hangs on the wall of our school room and I read it almost every day. It inspires me to live truer to my ideals and to keep hope alive in my heart that each of can bless and serve and love and that those things CAN and DO make a difference.

The key to this, I think, is Bilbo’s father’s advice, “While there’s life there’s hope.” There is always hope. Even when it doesn’t look like we should have any hope, we can still have hope because we are alive and can keep doing small and simple things (or big and wonderful things) to change the course of the future. There is hope because other people are alive and doing small and simple things in their lives and those things change the course of our future and the future. Most of all, there is hope because Jesus is alive and His life is the source of all hope. His life provides the way to peace and joy in our lives. His life is the roadmap for our return to God. His life and his atoning sacrifice provide the only hope we have.

What gives you hope?

p.s. I took this quiz the other day to see which character I am most like in Tolkien’s writings…pretty funny results:

YOU ARE MOST LIKE A: WIZARD. You’re a peacemaker, a do-gooder, a leader in a land fraught with peril. Like a wizard, you’re a bad*** cloaked in the body of an average joe. You never turn your back on a friend or a crisis. You’re selfless, intelligent, and you enjoy a well-lived life on the road.

I love that…a leader in a land fraught with peril. Exactly what I want to be!

If you take the quiz, I would love to know what your results are!

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the battle for our brains

Jan 30, 2012 by

the battle for our brains

Oh my, this article may just change my life.

Go read it.


Right now.

Then come back.

I love reading the scriptures. I love immersing myself in the ancient words. I love hearing the voice of the Lord. I have always loved them and have been pretty good at studying them, but I could be so, so, so much better. This summer during the whole lump saga I read and pondered every day. I needed the power within them to fill me up, to feed me. Now that I am not in a crisis moment, my study has been lacking and I feel the difference. I need to go back to the level of study I had this summer because I still need to be fed words of truth.

So, did you read the article? Well, I hope so because I am sitting here typing my thoughts as fast as I can even though it really, really hurts my shoulder to type and even though I need to clean the sewing room and even though I need to clean my desk I am still typing because this is a message that needs to get out to the world and into our souls.

“The battle today, between Babylon and Zion, is being waged between the synapses of our brains.”

I am all about synapses. They were some of my favorite things to study in college and I have continued to be fascinated by them since; and now someone is talking about battles (another favorite topic) AND righteousness (another fave) AND synapses. YES!

This is exactly what I needed to hear to get me back on track with some in-depth personal scripture study time each day. My synapses are being inundated with the things of the world, the fast pace of the world, the endless information that is available with the touch of a finger, and I am going to reclaim them and feed them a slower-paced feast of truth. Now, I am not saying all this information is bad…I love it…it’s just that it can be too much. It can limit our ability to focus on the things of God and it can distract us from pondering because God doesn’t beep us when He has a new message for us and He doesn’t shout at us from across the room to pick up the line. He reaches out to us, he calls to us, but he doesn’t demand that we listen to Him the way so much of the world does.

Was the post life-changing for you as well?

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on death and saving

Dec 7, 2011 by

Of appliances, that is.

My refrigerator had some brown sludge underneath it on Tuesday morning. I investigated the freezer and while it was filthy and badly in need of a clean-out and a cleaning, nothing was oozing down the sides and there was no tell-tale drip down to the floor. So, I asked everyone who spilled the brown sludge and what it was. No one claimed responsibility and I chalked it up to one of those weird mom-moments where once again I was cleaning up yucky stuff that shows up in my house that no one has a clue about.

Later that night, I noticed a clicking, whirring, and whining noise. Keziah claimed it was the oven, which made no sense whatsoever. Why would an oven be clicking? Richard investigated and narrowed the sound down to the fridge area of the house. Upon opening the freezer, water and some not-so-clear gunk were drip, drip, dripping down. Plop. Plop. Uuuuggghhh!

We quickly put ice into the fridge to keep things in there cold and Richard ran to the store to buy a thermometer. Unfortunately our efforts with stockpiling ice inside our fridge failed and this morning the temperature was 51 degrees. Right in the middle of the spoilage zone. The bad news is, we have now lost all the food that was in the freezer and almost all the food that was in the fridge. The good news is we didn’t have a ton of food in there to begin with (unlike the time our freezer broke right after we had filled it hundreds of pounds of bananas, berries, and elk meat).

So, this morning I had to deal with a lot of questions. Try to repair it or chuck it and buy a new one? If repair, which shop to book? The cheapest? The fastest? The most expensive? The friendliest voice on the phone? If replace it, how exactly will we buy a new one? Look for a new-used one or a new-new one? Save the sour cream or throw it out? Save Tasha’s yummy rice or assume it will give us food poisoning? Hmmmmmmm.

While I made a gazillion phone calls, scoured the internet for information on what could be wrong, and directed the food-throw-out-or-put-in-the-cooler affair, my children were able to feast on the pears and oranges our church brought over last night – thank you Elder’s Quorum!

The hardest decision for me was to decide to risk having a repairman come out and having to pay a $65 service fee just to find out that it was not, in fact, fixable. Nonetheless, I made just that decision and prayed it would be fixable.

After the girls dealt with all the food, the phone calls had all been made, and most of the questions had been answered…yes, try to repair it, I think it is worth the risk, book with the guy who sounded the friendliest and wasn’t the cheapest, but a LOT cheaper than the most expensive shop, if it doesn’t work, buy a used one for cheap-o off of Craig’s List, save the sour cream, and toss the rice…I decided since the fridge was empty, I might as well clean it thoroughly.

The girls thought I was ridiculous. “Why clean it if it is dead?” and “Seriously, you are going to scrub it clean when it is going to the dump!?!” I replied, “Yes, I don’t want the repairman to have to look at our yucky fridge and I don’t want to send a filthy fridge away and on the off chance it is salvageable, I would like to have a clean fridge.” They continued to think I was nuts. BUT, they helped.

I emptied all the icky water out of the bottom of the freezer. I sprayed and scrubbed and sprayed and scrubbed and became thoroughly disgusted with myself that my fridge was so despicable. I scrubbed up whatever hardened yellow substance had spilled all down the back of the fridge compartment. I emptied out spilled rice and almonds from the non-hooked-up ice maker. The girls washed all the drawers and shelves in the sink and when the inside was spotless we put all the parts and pieces back in. I believe it is the cleanest it has ever been, including the day it was installed by whichever former owner of this house installed it.

And when the repairman came, it smelled and looked clean. I didn’t have to die of mortification. And, in the first 60 seconds he was in the house, he determined it was the relay, not the compressor. So, it wasn’t dead, just in need of some help to bring it back to life. $120 later, our fridge is cooling down and sometime in the next several hours we will be back in the business of having chilled food once again.

And it is clean.

This is quite a long post about a silly appliance, but bear with me. All this talk of death and saving and cleaning and emptying really got me thinking today about how much effort Christ goes to to save us. If we will allow Him to do so, He will cleanse us, do anything He can to save us, and He literally brings us back to life. He will not leave us because the repair bill is too high, nor will He call in the cheapest or the fastest or the friendliest repair guy. He will do the work Himself and He will do it by sharing His heart, holding us close, helping us forsake our sins, being resurrected so that we might live again, and never giving up even when we seem like we are goners. He thinks we are worth it. He knows we are worth it.

We just need to believe Him.

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book bonanza: the phantom tollbooth

Oct 18, 2011 by

We started this book as a family read-aloud eons ago. It has taken us fffffoooooorrrrrrrreeeeeevvvvveeeeerrrrrrrrrr to get through it. I don’t know why exactly. We have all thoroughly enjoyed it. It is hilarious. It has humor that made Richard laugh so hard he cried. It has math and language and culture and human nature and so much more.

It still took us forever…actually we still aren’t done. We have two more chapters, but we are determined to finish in the next few days!

Anyway, last night as I was reading, some words from the Princesses of Rhyme and Reason jumped out at me. I believe they are profound and they are just what I needed to hear. Maybe what all of us needed to hear.

It has been a long trip,” said Milo, climbing onto the couch where the princesses sat; “but we would have been here much sooner if I hadn’t made so many mistakes. I’m afraid it’s all my fault.”

You must never feel badly about making mistakes,” explained Reason quietly, “as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.”

“But there’s so much to learn,” he said with a thoughtful frown.

“Yes, that’s true,” admitted Rhyme; “but it’s not just learning things that’s important. It’s learning what to do with what you learn and learning why you learn things at all that matters.”

Isn’t that the truth! I have made so, so many mistakes in my life. I have beat myself up for them over and over again. At times they have been incapacitating. At times they were all I could think of. At times I have dwelled on them far more than is healthy (is dwelling ever healthy? Probably not!) For the past several years I have been trying to focus on the lessons…what the lessons are, why I need them, and what I am to do with the learning of them. It is a much healthier approach.

I’m reminded of my favorite scenes from Meet the Robinsons. An invention doesn’t work out and the boy inventor is devastated. The family responds with applause. The boy is baffled…why are they applauding him when his idea didn’t work? The mother responds:

“From failure, you learn; from success, not so much.”

Implementing that belief in my life is difficult to say the least, but I keep being hit over the head with this concept, so I am listening and learning and trusting that everything-doesn’t-have-to-be-perfect-right-this-instant and I don’t have to beat myself up for it any longer. I can learn and I can grow and I can give life my best. I can believe deep down in my little toes that the journey is what is important and is what enables me to become the person God created me to be.

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the signs we should be wearing

Sep 3, 2011 by

My dear friend, Jodie, shared this post with me and now I must share it with you. It is deep and powerful and is giving me great pause on this glorious Saturday morning.

Read it, think about it, see if it is a message that resonates with you.

My sign?

I have just been though five months of deep concern for my health and I have no clue what I need to do about the estrogen in my breasts, so if I don’t seem as bubbly and chipper as usual it is because I have been staring cancer in the face. Please be gentle.

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playing his music

Jul 30, 2011 by

I read this article yesterday and can’t stop thinking about it. It has given me so much to ponder. I want it to change the way I see the world, to change the way I see this life, this journey of becoming like Christ. I want these thoughts to infiltrate my being so fully that I treat others differently, that I see each of us learning to play the music of Christ’s life.

I am a pretty capable woman. I can read, write, discuss, lead, teach, organize events, figure things out, make tough decisions, do a back handspring, and lots more. But when I decided to start playing the cello, I was brought face to face with my inability to make music. I could hear the music I wanted to produce in my head, but I couldn’t make my fingers push on the strings in the right way to make anything but groans and squeaks come out of my instrument. I could stare at a note and tell you what it is, but it didn’t really translate into speaking the language of the bass clef. I could dutifully report to my teacher what key a piece of music was written in, but it didn’t actually mean I understand all the nuances of what that meant. Because of this experience, I can really relate to the words of this article. I can see how my learning to play the cello was and is a ssssslllllllooooooowwwwww process, full of ups and downs and all arounds.

Because of this article, I can see how my experiences in becoming more Christlike are a ssssslllllllooooooowwwwwww process as well. I mess up daily. I judge, I cast stones in my mind, I see things from my limited perspective, I refuse God’s forgiveness, I hold on to pain, I forget my blessings, I walk my own path, I struggle to be who I know He created me to be.

I just couldn’t resist giving you this teaser…

…grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now. It is not a finishing touch; it is the Finisher’s touch.

It’s all part of the journey…the process to be in tune with His music.

Go read it…really…life changing.

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this year it’s a weed

Jul 9, 2011 by

This Year It’s a Weed—Pull It


When I was growing up in Lehi, Utah, USA, my family had a garden large enough that we rotated the corn and potatoes every year. One day my father told me to weed the corn while he weeded the potatoes. As I worked my way down a row of six-inch-high (15 cm) corn, I found a solitary potato plant growing larger and more beautiful than any of the potato plants on Dad’s side of the garden. I called to him and asked, “What should I do with this?”
Dad barely looked up. “Pull it.”

Believing he hadn’t realized I was pointing to a potato plant, I objected, “But Dad, it isn’t a weed. It’s a potato.” Again, without looking up, he said, “Not this year. This year it’s a weed. Pull it.” So I did.

Since then I have often pondered the wisdom of my father’s words. I have come to realize that obedience is not just making a right choice, but making a right choice in the right season. When I consider all the things Heavenly Father would have me do in this life, doing them at the right time seems as critical as doing them at all.

I was reading in the Ensign (my church’s monthly magazine) today and read this article and can’t get it out of my mind. What are the weeds in my life right now? What wonderful things am I doing that need pulled out for this season? Where does my “growing” energy need to go?

Weighty matters…I’ll share more thoughts when I decide just what is a weed and what is not.

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liber and public virtue

Jul 4, 2011 by

Clear back in 1997 or so, we heard Oliver DeMille speak about education. To say his words changed the course of our life is an understatement. Since that long ago summer day, we have been trying to implement the principles of classics, study, doing hard things, mentoring, and, yes, public virtue. The following words are long, but they are worth the read – as my birthday present to America, I offer them to you in hopes they will inspire each of us to become people who are liber.

Liber and Public Virtue
By Oliver DeMille
A speech delivered by Dr. Oliver DeMille at America’s Freedom Festival on June 30, 2000 in Provo, UT. This lecture is a classic because Dr. DeMille is such a phenomenal and timeless speaker and because of the truths he touches on. Oliver DeMille is a well known author and a tireless advocate for liberty. You may learn more about him at
The Liber
On July 4, 1776 John Hancock, as head of the Continental Congress, signed his name at the bottom of the newly written Declaration of Independence and sent it to the world. The rest of the signers didn’t sign until Congress reconvened on August 2. So for a month John Hancock’s name stood alone declaring independence from the greatest power on the face of the earth.
What motivates a man to voluntarily sacrifice his own safety, jeopardizing his family and all his earthly possessions on the lean hope that his neighbors and nation will support him, and even if they do, that his side has any chance of winning? What motivates a man to voluntarily submit himself to the legal and violent reaction that he knew would come, and which surely did come? There are two phrases which have been forgotten today, but which help explain why a man like John Hancock, and so many others in his generation, would choose what they did at such high cost.
These two phrases were the foundation of freedom on July 4, 1776. In those days, the average farmer or housewife understood both of these phrases, and based on the response to the Federalist Papers, could have debated and discussed them openly. Unfortunately, in the year 2000 (or 2011), neither phrase is widely understood. The first phrase is Public Virtue, the second is Liber.
I have submitted these two phrases to thousands of people in seminars around the nation, and I have often stopped at this point in my presentation and asked how many people could give me a definition of Public Virtue or Liber. A few people have known Liber, and in most seminars several people raise their hand and try to define Public Virtue. A few have even come close.
So what do these phrases mean?
Liber is the Latin word for tree or tree bark, and since tree bark was used to write on and make contracts with, and processed to make paper for more writing and contracts, the word Liber can be associated with those who can read, write and engage in contract. With this definition, in the classical world of Greece and Rome, there were two classes of people: slaves and Liber.
There were varying levels and types of slaves and peasants, and likewise different types of Liber: from citizens to merchants to the aristocracy and royalty. But the fundamental difference between slaves and Liber was freedom, and Liber is the root word of Liberty.
It is also the root of book, libro, and library.
Liberty is the state of being Liber. Liberty is not just the absence of bondage, but the fitness of the individual to act as a citizen.
Liber is also the root of the phrase “liberal arts”, such as in liberal arts colleges; the arts in a Bachelor of Arts or B.A. degree comes from the liberal arts. The liberal arts are the knowledge and skills necessary to remain free. As Robert M. Hutchins, former president of the University of Chicago, put it: “. . . liberal education . . . is the education that prepares us to be free men. You have to have this education if you . . . are going to be an effective citizen of a democracy; for citizenship requires that . . . you do not leave your duties to be performed by others . . . . A free society is composed of freemen. To be free you have to be educated for freedom.”
What are those arts? Well, for the founders they were the arts of reading the classics and thinking clearly and independently. The Founding generation was a generation of Liber, of men and women and children who could read the law and government bills and resolutions in detail and understand and debate them. These regular farmers and housewives read and hotly debated the Federalist Papers in New York in 1788 (while the states were ratifying the U.S. Constitution).
History has proven that freedom is not free. It must be earned. And one of the ways the founding generation earned it was in becoming Liber: getting the kind of education required to remain free. And by education they didn’t mean diplomas or degrees, but knowledge gained from reading the classics of history, law, government, and the arts.
It is true that hardly any schools in our day focus on training people to be Liber, but the classics are still available and all we must do is take them off the shelf, dust them off, and get to work earning our freedom. If our generation loses the understanding necessary to remain free, we will lose our freedom. No society in all of history has avoided this inevitable consequence. Over and over in history, when the people of a nation stop being Liber and just become focused on getting jobs and making a living, freedom wanes and finally is sold.
Unless we pay the price to be a nation of Liber, we will not maintain the freedoms we so cherish and celebrate. That is the first great word that we have forgotten since July 4, 1776—Liber, which means the body of citizens reading the classics and history and knowing what is required to remain free.

Public Virtue
The other forgotten key to maintaining our liberty and prosperity and ability to worship and choose freely is Public Virtue. Benjamin Franklin said: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt . . . they have more need of masters.”

Samuel Adams said: “I thank God that I have lived to see my country independent and free. She may enjoy her . . . freedom if she will. It depends on her virtue.”

The founding generation spoke of two types of virtue: private virtue and Public Virtue. Private virtue is morality, obedience to the commandments, doing what is right. And private virtue is essential to freedom: immorality leads inevitably to loss of freedom—personal and eventually national.
Public Virtue, on the other hand, is a totally distinct concept from private virtue, though equally vital to liberty. Most of the people in our seminars who try to define public virtue say something like: Public Virtue is where government officials are moral in their personal lives, or Public Virtue is when leaders pass moral laws. But Public Virtue is even more fundamental than these things—it is one of the things which makes them possible.
In 1776 the term Public Virtue meant voluntarily sacrificing personal benefit for the good of society. Consider the signers of the Declaration of Independence and their closest associates, their wives. The signers and their wives epitomized both Liber and Public Virtue.
Robert and Mary Morris
Like Robert Morris of Pennsylvania. Robert Morris was at a holiday celebration dinner when news came of the Battle of Lexington. The group was astonished and most people soon left for home, but Robert and a “. . . few remained and discussed the great question of American freedom: and there, within that festive hall, did Robert Morris and a few others, by solemn vow, dedicate their lives, their fortunes, and their honor, to the sacred cause of the Revolution.”[i]
Robert Morris was self-educated and guided by a mentor, Mr. Thomas Willing, and became Liber through studying the classics. He started in business at age 21 and became extremely wealthy. In fact, he was known as the Financier of the Revolution. When the Tea Act was passed, Robert Morris openly supported it though he lost thousands of dollars in his business.
When Congress went bankrupt in 1776, Robert Morris loaned $10,000 of his own money to feed and cloth Washington’s “handful of half-naked, half-famished militia.” In their day, this was a fortune. One historian wrote: “When Congress fled to Baltimore, on the approach of the British across New Jersey, Mr. Morris, after [fleeing with] his family into the country, returned to, and remained in Philadelphia. Almost in despair, Washington wrote to him, and informed him that to make any successful movement whatever, a considerable sum of money must be had. It was a requirement that seemed almost impossible to meet.
Mr. Morris left his counting-room for his lodgings in utter despondency. On his way he met a wealthy Quaker, and made known his wants. “What security can’st thou give me?” asked he. “My note and my honor,” promptly replied Mr. Morris. The Quaker replied: “Robert, thou shalt have it.”—It was sent to Washington, the Delaware was crossed [remember the picture with Washington at the helm?], and victory was won!”
On another occasion, when Washington was preparing for his attack at Yorktown, which turned the tide of the war to America’s side, he approached Robert Morris and Judge Peters. Mr. Peters asked Washington, “’What can you do?’ Washington replied, ‘With money, everything, without it, nothing,’ at which time he turned an anxious look toward Mr. Morris. ‘Let me know the sum you desire’ said Mr. Morris; and before noon Washington’s plan and estimates were complete. Mr. Morris promised him the amount, and raised it upon his own responsibility.”
Time after time Robert Morris gave his own resources and raised money on his own credit to keep Washington and his men going. One record remarked: “If it were not [proven] by official records, posterity would hardly be made to believe that the campaign . . . which . . . closed the Revolutionary War, was sustained wholly on the credit of an individual merchant.”
When the War ended, this self-made millionaire spent 3 ½ years in debtors prison after he lost everything. His wife, Mary Morris, who was born to a wealthy family and educated in the classics, watched possession after possession disappear during the War. When Robert went to prison after giving so much to the cause of freedom, she tended a borrowed little farm and walked each day to the prison with her daughter Maria to visit her husband. Robert left prison a broken down old man and died shortly thereafter. The financier of the Revolution, and his family, understood public virtue—voluntarily sacrificing personal benefit for the good of society.
Thomas and Lucy Nelson
So did Thomas Nelson, Jr. a signer of the Declaration of Independence from Virginia. He was Liber educated in the classics under the tutelage of his father and was later individually mentored by the celebrated Dr. Proteus at Cambridge. When the Revolutionary War started, he was called as the head of the military of the state of Virginia. “The sudden call of the militia from their homes left many families [destitute], for a great part of the agricultural operations were suspended.” General Nelson used his own money and resources to support many of his poorest soldiers, “and thus more than a hundred families were kept from absolute want.”[ii]
The biographer of the Signers, B.J. Lossing, wrote: “Mr. Nelson made many and great [financial] sacrifices for his country. When, in 1780, the French fleet was hourly expected, Congress felt it highly necessary that provision should be made for them. But its credit was prostrate, and its calls upon the States were [ignored]. Virginia proposed to raise two million . . . dollars, and Mr. Nelson at once” set out to raise the money. “But many wealthy men told Mr. Nelson that they would not contribute a penny on the security of [Congress], but they would lend him all he wanted. He at once added his personal security.”
I have wondered which type of person I would be in similar circumstances—the men who made sure their bank accounts grew during the War, or the Thomas Nelson and Robert Morris type who gave their all. At one point in the war, Washington was losing and his men starving while the British were well supplied from American merchants. I have wondered whether in the same circumstances I would keep selling to the British, or do like so many American farmers and merchants did and burn down my own business, crop or livelihood. Can you imagine voluntarily pouring the kerosene on your shop, and hand in hand with your spouse lighting the match and walking away to bankruptcy—all because your side was so close to losing the war?
Thomas Nelson was elected Governor of Virginia when Thomas Jefferson’s term expired, and during the Battle of Yorktown, the one which Robert Morris funded and which turned the tide of the War to the Americans, Governor Nelson noticed that the American troops were firing at every home in town except his own personal home. The British had stationed a number of their officers in his home, perhaps believing that as the home of the governor and head of the state military it was safe. Governor Nelson positioned himself at the head of his troops and begged them to open fire on his home—and it was shelled by canon fire.
Within a month of this battle, his health broke and he shortly passed away. Thomas Nelson’s biographer wrote that “he descended into the grave honored and beloved, and alas! of his once vast estates, that honor and love was almost all that he left behind him.
He had spent a princely fortune in his country’s service; his horses had been taken from the plough and sent to drag the munitions of war; his granaries had been thrown open to a starving soldiery and his ample purse had been drained to its last dollar, when the credit of Virginia could not bring a sixpence into her treasury. Yet it was the widow of this man who . . . had yet to learn whether republics can be grateful.”
Lucy Nelson had been born wealthy and had helped Thomas make his fortune and rise to the Governor’s mansion. When he died early, broke and destitute, she was left to raise eleven children and eke out a living for three decades alone. When she died at eighty years of age she was “blind, infirm” and still poor, and she willed her only earthly possession, $20, to her minister. The Nelson family understood both Liber and Public Virtue.
Samuel and Eliza Adams
Another man, whose name is more familiar, also personified these forgotten virtues. Samuel Adams was educated by his father in the liberal arts through the classics.[iii] He attempted to go into business several times but he spent so much time studying the classics and reading about government and politics that he nearly went bankrupt in every business endeavor. He finally got a job as a tax collector through one of his political contacts. However, he had a hard time with this job also. As a biographer tells it: “Times were hard, money was scarce, and the collections fell [way behind]. Adams’s enemies raised the cry of [mismanagement].
“Then it came out that Sam Adams had refused to sell out the last cow or pig or the last sack of potatoes or corn meal or the scant furniture of a poor man to secure his taxes. He had told his superiors in authority that the town did not need the taxes as badly as most of these poor people needed their belongings and that he would rather lose his office than force such collections.” This job fell through like his other financial endeavors.
Another biographer wrote: “For years now, Samuel Adams had laid aside all pretence of private business and was devoted simply and solely to public affairs . . . His wife, like himself, was contented with poverty; through good management, in spite of their narrow means, a comfortable home life was maintained in which the children grew up happy and in every way well trained and cared for.”
Sam Adams and his wife, Elizabeth Wells Adams (she went by the name Eliza), and all of their children sacrificed and suffered for the cause of freedom, including a son who was imprisoned. Even the family dog, a big Newfoundland named Queue, got involved in the War. In fact, Queue was “cut and shot in several places” by British soldiers, because every time a red uniform passed by the Adams farm Queue viciously attacked. Perhaps this dog understood the issues or at least the views of his master. As Eliza Adams’s biographer wrote: “[Queue] had a vast antipathy for the British uniform . . . and bore to his grave honorable scars from his fierce encounters.”
In 1763 Sam Adams gave the first public speech in the Americas against the British and the first call for Independence. He was so successful in stirring up support for the Revolution, that when the British later offered clemency to all the signers of the Declaration who would recant, Samuel Adams and John Hancock were purposely left off the list. He was an instigator of the Boston Tea Party and was involved in almost every major event of the Revolution. He served in the Continental Congress and the records show that he was involved in almost every significant committee and spoke on nearly every important issue. Once, in response to a suggestion to try to compromise with the British, Samuel Adams obtained the floor and said to the General Council of the States: “I should advise persisting in our struggle for liberty, though it were revealed from Heaven that nine hundred and ninety-nine were to perish and only one of a thousand were to survive and retain his liberty! One such freeman must possess more virtue, and enjoy more happiness than a thousand slaves . . .”
In a time when many people spoke against slavery but owned slaves, Samuel and Eliza Adams urged everyone to free any and all slaves, and then set the example by promptly freeing all slaves the moment they came into possession of them.
In 1774, when Samuel Adams was elected to Congress, he had no money for the necessary expenses, and his absence would likely have left his family destitute. A private letter, written on August 11, 1774, tells the story: some of his neighbors, their names kept anonymous, “asked his permission to build him a new barn . . . which was executed in a few days.”
A second benefactor repaired his house; a third invited him to a tailor’s shop and then had him measured for and purchased him a new suit of clothes which was later delivered to his home. A fourth presented him with a new wig and a fifth bought him a new hat. Three others purchased him six articles of clothing, including a new pair of shoes. Another community member slipped him a purse of money; when he searched it, it contained adequate gold to cover his expenses.
His kinsman John Adams wrote: “. . . Samuel Adams . . . never planned, laid a scheme or formed a design of laying up anything for himself . . . .The case of Samuel Adams is almost without a parallel as an instance of enthusiastic, unswerving devotion to public service throughout a long life.”
Francis and Elizabeth Lewis
Another family that epitomized Liber and Public Virtue was the Francis and Elizabeth Lewis family.[iv] Francis was a signer of the Declaration from New York, was educated in the classics and built a successful business from scratch with the help of Elizabeth.
They both gave their wealth and health for our freedom. “Like Floyd, Livingstone, and Robert Morris, the other New York signers, Francis Lewis was [outlawed] by the British and a price set on his head. The enemy did not stop there. Very soon after they were in possession of Long Island, Captain Birtch was sent with a troop . . . ‘to seize the lady and destroy the property.’ As the soldiers advanced on one side, a ship of war from the other fired upon the house . . . . Mrs. Lewis looked calmly on.
A shot from the vessel struck the board on which she stood. One of her servants cried: ‘Run, Mistress, run.’ She replied: ‘Another shot is not likely to strike the same spot,” and did not change her place. The soldiers entered the house and . . . destroyed books, papers, and pictures, ruthlessly broke up the furniture, and then, after pillaging the house, departed taking Mrs. Lewis with them.” “She was carried to New York and thrown into prison. She was not allowed a bed or change of clothing and only the coarse and scanty food that was doled out to the other prisoners.” She soon died from the treatment and illnesses she sustained in prison. Francis lived without her for twenty-four more years; he never remarried, but lived to know the lonely price of Public Virtue.
The Teachers of Liberty
Consider the contribution of four great teachers of the Founding generation, three of whom were signers of the Declaration: George Wythe, John Witherspoon, Benjamin Rush and a man who is remembered simply as Mr. Lovell. Among them they mentored almost an entire generation of leaders in Liber and Public Virtue. Their students include John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Henry Clay, John Marshall, Hancock, Paine, four future U.S. Presidents, many future Supreme Court Justices, over sixty future governors, senators, representatives and judges, and as Professor Forrest McDonald put it, “enough other Founding Fathers to populate a small standing army.”
Biographer Robert Peterson said that George Wythe’s school alone “produced a generation of lawyers, judges, ministers, teachers and statesmen who helped fill the need for leadership in the young nation.” This was, in fact, George Wythe’s explicit agenda. The curriculum and message of these teachers, both on paper and through example, was Liber, private virtue and Public Virtue.
Roger and Rebecca Sherman

Consider Roger and Rebecca Sherman.[v] Roger Sherman, was apprenticed as a shoemaker and gained a Liber education reading the classics he placed on his bench in front of him while he worked on shoes. He started with mathematics classics and became a leading mathematician; for example, he did the astronomical calculations for an almanac that was published in New York when he was twenty-seven. He went from mathematics to a study of the law, and became a leading jurist in Rhode Island and later the only man to participate in the creation of and sign all four of the founding documents of the United States—all springing from the books on his cobbler bench.
His wife Rebecca was similarly self-educated in the classics, and when she married Roger she was twenty years old and took over the raising of Roger’s seven children from his first wife Elizabeth. She educated the seven children, plus the eight additional children she and Roger had, and she taught them Liber, private virtue and Public Virtue.
Other Examples
So many other stories could be told:
Like Honest John Hart, who was “hounded and hunted as a criminal” while his wife lay dying.[vi] Or, Richard Stockton, who was thrown in prison, his lands were destroyed, and he ended up literally begging for food and money to keep his family alive.[vii]
Or, Martha Jefferson, who fled with her two-month old baby in her arms to escape the invading British. The baby died soon after, and within two years she herself passed on from illnesses incurred during the conflict.[viii]
Abraham and Sarah Clark
Consider the Public Virtue of one more family, who more than self their country loved: Abraham and Sarah Clark.[ix] Self-educated in the classics, Abraham become known as “the poor man’s lawyer” because of his habit of service without pay. A poor farmer, his reading and study made him prominent and he was elected to Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence with the New Jersey delegation.
The British gave this simple man and his wife perhaps the cruelest punishment of all. They captured two of their sons who were serving under Washington, 25-year-old Thomas and young teenage Isaac, and threw them into the prison ship in the harbor. Then they informed Abraham Clark that his sons would be not be given food until he publicly recanted his signature on the Declaration of Independence. He gladly offered his life, his freedom and all his possessions, but they weren’t accepted. The British demanded that he recant or his sons would slowly starve. Abraham and Sarah determined that they could give up their lives. They could give up their fortune. But they simply could not give away their sacred honor, even to save the lives of their dear sons.
They never signed the recantation.
Imagine, on a 4th of July in 1777, Abraham and Sarah Clark sitting at home meditating on the price of Public Virtue.
What of the Future?
On the 4th of July in 1776 John Hancock, man of Liber and Public Virtue, signed the Declaration of Independence and sent it to the world with his name alone.
On the 4th of July in 1826, as if by divine mandate, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson passed away—on the same special day, only a few hours apart.
On the 4th of July in 1862 a bloody Civil War tested whether this union would survive. On the 4th of July in 1943 Americans gave their lives in Europe and around the Pacific to keep the flag of freedom waving.
On this 4th of July in the year 2000 (or 2011), consider this question: How many Liber are there today in the United States? And secondly, how many acts of Public Virtue fill the courthouses, congressional chambers or governors mansions across this land?
The answer tells us what the future of our freedoms will be.
But more importantly, how many homes are training young men and women to be Liber, to spend their lives in Public Virtue?
I know that we are busy going to school, making a living, enjoying the leisure our freedom gives us. But if we are too busy to read the classics and become Liber, to sacrifice our time and resources to protect our freedoms and build our communities, to stand for something, then we are too busy to remain free. Too busy to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
Think ahead to the 4th of July in the year 2032.
What will America be like then?
The answer depends on three things: how many Liber there are, how many people dedicate their lives to private virtue, and how much Public Virtue we choose between now and then. The future of America depends on whether we are willing to stand for something. To become Liber, men and women of Public Virtue.
I believe that we will still be free on the 4th of July, 2032. If we are, it will be because someone, somewhere, pays the price.
Some of you have tonight felt the call to become men and women of Liber and Public Virtue. Do not ignore that call.
Is the 4th of July—American Independence Day—merely a fact of history or is it your legacy to embrace and perpetuate? Do these accounts of brave men and women fade forgotten into history or will they be passed down generation-to-generation, inspiration for future Liber leaders? The choice is yours. You are the key to future legacy or myth.
[i] The idea of using the signers of the Declaration of Independence as examples of public virtue came from a speech I read by Rush Limbaugh’s father, and I appreciate his speech and the fact that his son has published and distributed it. None of the stories in this speech are taken directly from that speech; most of the stories hereafter, including all of the stories and quotes about Robert and Mary Morris come from two excellent books: B.J. Lossing. 1848. Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (hereafter Signers). Reprinted in 1998 by Wallbuilders in Aledo, Texas, 93-98; and Wives of the Signers, The Women Behind the Declaration of Independence (hereafter Wives), also published by Wallbuilders, 155-168. I have not done independent research to verify the stories in these books. I highly recommend both of these books to students who choose to study further.
[ii] Stories and quotes about Thomas and Lucy Nelson come from in Signers, 188-193 and Wives, 250-254.
[iii] Stories and quotes about Samuel and Eliza Adams come from Signers, 33-36 and Wives, 62-80.
[iv] Stories and quotes about Francis and Elizabeth Lewis come from Signers, 71-73 and Wives, 119-126.
[v] Stories and quotes about Roger and Rebecca Sherman come from Signers, 50-52 and Wives, 92-98.
[vi] See Wives, 144-147.
[vii] See Wives, 132-139.
[viii] See Wives, 240-247.
[ix] Stories and quotes about Abraham and Sarah Clark come from Signers, 90-92 and Wives, 147-149.

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burns in me

Jun 28, 2011 by

I bought the Jenny Phillips – Every Breath CD for $2.99 back at Passover time when I was looking for an Afikomen gift and have been listening to it ever since. The first time I heard “Burns in Me” I was swept away. I listened to it again and again and AGAIN right then. I couldn’t get enough of it. At first, I focused on the cello music at the beginning of the song. Then I started focusing on the phrase “There is no time, it seems” because at the time I was right in the middle of Blythe’s Shakespeare play rehearsals and was worn right out with all the things I needed to get done on a daily basis. Then I started focusing on the phrase “How quickly I can fill my life with less important things” and since I was so concerned about breast cancer, I started really evaluating how I was spending my time and making a plan to make sure I spent my time on the essentials, not the superfluous. I recommitted myself to personal scripture study and to really nurturing my children’s souls. Then I started focusing on the part about thinking we are strong. That first part of May, I felt anything but strong. I felt powerless and I was literally barely hanging on. As my communion time with God became longer and longer each day, I began to feel peace again. I began to feel His great love for me. I have listened to this song over and over again for the last two months and loved it each time. On Saturday night, I listened to it again while driving home from the LDS Holistic Living Conference and it hit me with more power than it ever had before. I was thinking about this lump in my breast and what I need to do about it and what this whole journey is supposed to teach me. The answers came in these words…they might not mean anything to you, but they mean the world to me.

There is no time it seems
We’re rushing to meet everybody’s needs.
There is no time to breathe.
How quickly I can fill my life with less important things.

I’m hungry and I’m empty till your words reach deep inside.
I humbly drink from waters deep that fill me with life.
Your teachings have the power that I seek
and the Spirit of the things I read, burns in me.

Sometimes we think we’re strong.
Pushing on through days that seem so long.
I try to carry on, but without the daily bread of life
I’m barely hanging on.

I’m hungry and I’m empty till your words reach deep inside.
I humbly drink from waters deep that fill me with life
Your teachings have the power that I seek
and the Spirit of the things I read, burns in me.

I pray, I ponder, I’m thirsting.
I read and know that You hear me.
I pray, I ponder, I’m thirsting.
I read and know that You hear me.
I pray, I ponder, I’m thirsting.
I read and know that You hear me.

I’m hungry and I’m empty till your words reach deep inside.
I humbly drink from waters deep that fill me with life.
Your teachings have the power that I seek
and the Spirit of the things I read, burns in me.

They mean God knows. He knows me and my fears and my hopes and my needs and my family’s needs and I am safe in His hands. Not safe in terms of nothing being wrong or anything like that…just that I am really, really safe with my God…regardless of what His plan for me is, it IS what is best for me even if I can’t see how it will all work out.

They mean He has the power to save me. The power to heal my body, to eradicate this tissue from my life. More importantly, He has the power to heal my spirit and to teach me exactly who I am, what I am worth to Him, and how I can return to Him.

They mean the atonement is real. It’s real for me and it’s real for you. I’ve always known there was a way back to Him, but trusting that I could really make it back to Him has been so hard. I have no doubt that others can, its just me I have questions about.

They mean His words are what heal me. His words are what bring me peace. Nothing I do can give me the peace, the healing, the strength, the perspective, the love that I need. Only His and as I immerse myself in His word I will be filled with exactly what I need.

I wish you could hear the cello.

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the wussification of our youth

Jun 23, 2011 by

Especially our girls.

We can do hard things. It’s true, we can.

So can our youth.

So can our youth of the female variety.

It seems like frequently girls’ activities at our church are geared towards pampering them instead of challenging them. Case in point…yesterday was Blythe’s 4th Year Hike, traditionally a fairly rigorous hike and overnight camp where the girls carry all their gear, dig their latrines, lash together shelters, start their own fires, cook their own meals, and work on orienteering skills. At least that is how it was when I was a girl.

This year, our Stake cancelled the 4th Year Hike. How does something that has been going on for decades in thousands of congregations around the world just get cancelled? And why? I don’t know why, but I was none too thrilled when I found out. Well, our local ward (congregation) decided to have their own 4th Year Hike, but instead of having the girls carry their gear, dig latrines, lash shelters, start fires, etc, they carried water, snacks, and a rain poncho. Lunch was even provided for them! Then, instead of sleeping in some remote wilderness setting surrounded by wildlife, fresh air, and the peace that only nature can bestow, they drove back down to town and slept in one of their leader’s backyards…except they ended up not sleeping in the before mentioned backyard because it started raining! Why can’t we expect the girls to sleep in the rain? Blythe has spent her whole life sleeping in the rain…and the hail…and the snow…and the cold of the Wind River and Uinta mountain ranges. It is part of life and in my mind is an essential part of developing toughness…and perspective.

Blythe called and told us to come and get her. The event was cancelled because of the rain.

How can we expect our young people to fight the battles of their lives, to endure the sobering realities of adulthood, to keep going when all they want to do is give up, if we don’t even expect them to carry their own gear and make it through a little rain?

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Apr 12, 2011 by

Scars remind us where we’ve been,
but do not have to dictate where we are going.

I saw this today and instantly fell in love. It spoke to me.

We sometimes let our scars determine where we are going. We believe deep down in our heart of hearts that because we did X, we are going to be X. We sometimes believe that because we endured X, we are an X type of person.

We all have scars. We all have pain. We all have sorrows and hurts and heartbreaks. We all have regrets. I know now that Christ can take the pain away. He can heal our hearts. He can make us whole.

But I remember a time when I believed Christ could heal me and still believed I was destined to a certain life. I think I knew I could be forgiven for my sins, but I still “knew” inside that I was a certain type of person. I didn’t really believe the whole direction of my life could change.

I remember as a youth believing I would never have a marriage that stayed together. I remember believing I was destined to fight with my spouse and end up divorcing him. I remember thinking happy marriages were for other types of people and that I could never break into that crowd. I hopelessly believed that no matter what I did or who I married I was already damaged goods and that I inevitably would have a miserable marriage.

I decided not to ever marry. I decided not to ever really love a man. I decided not to be vulnerable. I decided I would serve God in myriads of other ways. I decided I couldn’t live with the pain of divorce and I never wanted to have children who would have to live with the repercussions of my failed marriage.

Somehow, somewhere deep inside of me a hope lived strong that all those songs about happy families were really true. That hope stayed buried inside of me until I met Richard and right then I knew, I knew I was going to marry him. All the fears didn’t go away right away. All the scars didn’t disappear. He put up with me living in fear of him leaving me for years. I threatened to live him plenty of times…usually when we were really happy and he was being his kindest self ever. His kindness scared me. I had no frame of reference for a calm, happy marriage. I didn’t know what to do with his patience and love. So, I pushed it away. When that didn’t work, I tried running away from it myself. That didn’t work either. The rightness of our marriage would pull me back to center and I would let a little bit of that buried hope grow. Over the years, I felt calmer and calmer in the stability and peace of our marriage. It felt right to not have the desire to argue. It felt right to speak kindly. It felt right to grow closer and closer as a couple.

Now, I can see that my scars are an indelible part of who I am, but they are not the part that determines who I am. My Heavenly Father has a plan for my life. My Savior has made it possible for me to change. My husband has loved me and taught me and shown me what a family can be.

And I?

I have let that hope grow and grow until now it is filling my soul.

It is just like one of my favorite scriptures says:

Alma 32:27-28: But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than a desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.

Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.

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a robust mortality

Feb 26, 2011 by

Today I had the privilege of attending a truly wonderful Relief Society (my church’s women’s organization) meeting with thousands of other women from my area. It was soul-filling. It was jam-packed and powerful. I could go on and on about it, but right now I want to focus on a little phrase Sister Beck used that I have fallen in love with.

“We are experiencing a robust mortality and need the blessings our Father in Heaven has for us”

Robust mortality?

I should say we are. As human beings here on earth, we experience birth, death, sickness, excruciating pain, hunger, joy, peace, anger, grief, loneliness, satisfaction, hope, faith, love, passion, regret, guilt, sorrow, compassion, desires of all kinds, selfishness, selflessness, inspiration, and oh, so much more.

When I think back on the robust mortality I have experienced so far, I am grateful for the variety and richness of my life. I think back to being a young girl and singing songs with my mom, to learning to ride my bike with my dad, doing my first back handspring, and cutting my knee open in a race with Camille around the garbage dumpster at our families’ grocery store. I remember walking the groceries down to my great-grandfather’s house, proudly showing my report card to my parents, hitting a home run at my softball game, my mom running over my foot when I jumped out of the car before she stopped all the way, and making gallons of a yummy, juicy concoction with the big pans in the meat department of our store.

I remember the agonizing heartbreak the day my dad drove away from our home, never to live with us again. I remember the endless list of mistakes I made as a teenager. I remember the support my friends gave me all through those long, hard years of trying to figure out just who I was really going to be. I remember the fun of being a checker in our store and trying my darndest to make sure each customer’s experience was a fabulous one. I remember the fun of Pioneer Day parades, rodeos, swimming in the river, chasing cows, catching guppies, and having lots of family reunions all summer long. I remember spending my summers with Camille, each of us attending both of our girls’ camps and feeling completely comfortable in the other person’s life. I remember camping with my grandparent’s at Green River Lakes – cleaning outhouses, picking up used matches and Jolly Rancher wrappers, going swimming in the lake, hiking up to Natural Bridge, picnics at the cave, soaking our feet in Mill Creek, and meeting people from all over the world. I remember going to the 1986 World Fair in Vancouver with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins just a few weeks after my dad left. I remember digging for clams at the ocean. I remember playing basketball and how much I loved to steal the ball and race down the floor to make a lay-up. I remember winning games and feeling like the top of the world and losing them and crying my eyes out. I remember how much fun it was to do back handsprings all the way across the gym floor while the crowd screamed at the top of their lungs. I remember speaking at Stake Conference wearing my $9.79 dress that I just had to have and bought “knowing” my mom could repair the hole in the bottom. I remember my devastation when I lost the election for Student Body President and how elated I was a few days later when I was called to be the Seminary President. I remember precious letters written by my mom that softened my heart and reminded me just how much she really did love me when I was being too difficult for her to talk to me face to face. Those letters were my life-line! I remember trying out to be a cheerleader at Ricks College and obviously being the best one to try out, but not making the team because I was too fat (in the words of the coach). I remember being mortified when I wrecked my brother’s VW bug by driving it into a parked Audi in the 7-11 parking lot on my way to a State Leadership Conference and how the whole bus had to wait for me to finish the accident report. I remember feeling less than everyone else because my parents were divorced. I remember wishing my dad would just come back to us and sit in the stands cheering for me. I remember the shame and rage I felt when my mom was raped by a man in our church. I remember the trial and how it divided our ward and our little town. I remember the anger I felt for years towards men and the peace I felt when I finally allowed Christ to take the anger away.

I remember those days of early marriage…ooohhh, those precious days of learning to live together, learning to trust, learning to love. Those days were hard for me, so very hard. I had no idea what a healthy marriage looked like, how an emotionally safe person responded to her spouse and let me tell you, I was not an easy person to live with. I was tumultuous and he never knew what I was going to do next. One day I would be loving, the next full of rage, the next threatening to leave, the next calm as can be. I would never want to relive those days, but I am oh, so grateful for them. They taught me the power of love to heal a person’s soul. They also taught me how very much my Heavenly Father loves me and to what lengths He will go to rescue His children. I learned of the atonement’s cleansing power.

I remember the early days of motherhood. Blythe and I had so much fun together! We were completely in love with one another and I spent my days exploring her world with her. I think in many ways, I found myself during that time. I was able to revisit those core issues of good vs. bad, what love is, what a family is, how I wanted my mothering days to be spent, what childhood means, and how to find truth. As she discovered her world, I discovered mine. I found ideas that resonated deep within my soul and I followed spiritual promptings to create a house of learning, imagination, and fun.

As the years of my marriage have gone by, we have experienced much joy, much sorrow, but most of all, much love. My husband’s gentle, continuous, and all-encompassing love has given me hope when I felt like giving up, courage to keep striving, and security to be who God created me to be. I am so, so grateful to be married to this man who nurtures me in a way that is indescribable.

We have witnessed miracles. We have made huge mistakes. We have felt aching grief. We have cried through the night. We have lost ten babies. We have felt completely safe in one another’s arms.

We are finding our way through this mortal experience. It is not easy. It is not for the faint of heart. It is full, varied, and certainly, robust.

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Jan 25, 2011 by

I have found that just as love for other people is actually spelled T-I-M-E, love from God is often spelled T-I-M-I-N-G.

~ Emily Black

Is this not true? I can remember so many times when God gave me a blessing at the exact time I needed it. He sent Richard into my life when I was living in a home surrounded by love and the gospel and I was open to being taught that men were not the most horrid creatures to ever walk the earth. He sent me Blythe when I was mostly healed of my anger and craziness. He gave me Tami and Camille to get through my childhood. So many times, notes of love have arrived right in the midst of crises. So many times, hugs have been given when I felt I couldn’t go on. So many times, a message of hope has been given when all my hope was gone. So many times, the miracle we have prayed for has come…at just the right time.

I think back to when Keziah was little. We wanted to have another baby and we knew we had a little red-headed boy coming. I started miscarrying my babies. We didn’t know why it was happening at all and especially didn’t understand why it kept happening. We had six miscarriages in a row. We went through a long spiritual journey of anger, grief, faith, hope, more grief, more anger, and finally peace about the whole thing. Finally we became pregnant with Fisher and it turns out it was at just the right time.

When we became pregnant with Annesley, it certainly did not feel like the right time. We were in the midst of our business closing and were under a lot of stress. She turned out to be the perfect thing to keep our thoughts focused on family and hope and God and goodness when we easily could have become bitter and enraged at the situation we were in (okay, I did turn somewhat bitter and enraged, but no where near to the degree I would have had I not had a baby to focus on).

I think of God’s timing a lot. I want His timing to be my timing, but I am learning to trust Him and His greater vision for my life. I am grateful for His love for me. I am even more grateful for His knowledge of me and what I really need and when I really need it. His wisdom and goodness bless me each day.

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what memories are we making?

Jan 20, 2011 by

I read this story today and I cried. A lot. The power of family is real. The power of taking time to live, really live, changes who we are. I want to remember this story always and remember to make magical moments with my children. I want them to have memories to sustain them in their “POW” experiences, in their “I’m all alone” times, in their “is life really worth living” questioning moments. I want the reservoir of their souls to be so overflowing with goodness and laughter and glee and togetherness and truth that they will be able to get through anything.


“String!” shouted Brother, bursting into the kitchen. “We need lots more string.”

It was Saturday. As always, it was a busy one, for “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work” was taken seriously then. Outside, Father and Mr. Patrick next door were doing chores.

Inside the two houses, Mother and Mrs. Patrick were engaged in spring cleaning. Such a windy March day was ideal for “turning out” clothes closets. Already woolens flapped on back yard clotheslines.

Somehow the boys had slipped away to the back lot with their kites. Now, even at the risk of having Brother impounded to beat carpets, they had sent him for more string. Apparently, there was no limit to the heights to which kites would soar today.

My mother looked at the sitting room, its furniture disordered for a Spartan sweeping. Again her eyes wavered toward the window. “Come on girls! Let’s take string to the boys and watch them fly the kites a minute.”

On the way we met Mrs. Patrick, laughing guiltily, escorted by her girls.

There never was such a day for flying kites! God doesn’t make two such days in a century. We played all our fresh twine into the boys’ kites and still they soared. We could hardly distinguish the tiny, orange-colored specks. Now and then we slowly reeled one in, finally bringing it dipping and tugging to earth, for the sheer joy of sending it up again. What a thrill to run with them, to the right, to the left, and see our poor, earth-bound movements reflected minutes later in the majestic sky-dance of the kites! We wrote wishes on slips of paper and slipped them over the string. Slowly, irresistibly, they climbed up until they reached the kites. Surely all wishes would be granted.

Even our Fathers dropped hoe and hammer and joined us. Our mothers took their turn, laughing like schoolgirls. Their hair blew out their pompadour and curled loose about their cheeks; their gingham aprons whipped about their legs. Mingled with our fun was something akin to awe. The grownups were really playing with us! Once I looked at Mother and thought she looked actually pretty. And her over forty!

We never knew where the hours went on that hilltop that day. There were no hours, just a golden breeze now. I think we were all beside ourselves. Parents forgot their duty and their diginty; children forgot their combativeness and small spites. “Perhaps it’s like this in the kingdom of Heaven,” I thought confusedly.

It was growing dark before, drunk with sun and air, we all stumbled sleepily back to the houses. I suppose we had some sort of supper. I suppose there must have been a surface tidying-up, for the house on Sunday looked decorous enough.

The strange thing was, we didn’t mention that day afterward. I felt a little embarrassed. Surely none of the others had thrilled to it as deeply as I. I locked the memory up in that deepest part of me where we keep “the things that cannot be and yet they are.”

The years went on, then one day I was scurrying about my own kitchen in a city apartment, trying to get some work out of the way while my three-year old insistently cried her desire to “go park and see ducks.”

“I can’t go!” I said. “I have this and this to do, and when I’m through I’ll be too tired to walk that far.”

My mother, who was visiting us, looked up from the peas she was shelling. “It’s a wonderful day,” she offered; “really warm, yet there’s a fine, fresh breeze. It reminds me of that day we flew kites.”

I stopped in my dash between stove and sink. The locked door flew open and with it a gush of memories. I pulled off my apron. “Come on” I told my little girl. “You’re right, it’s too good a day to miss.”

Another decade passed. We were in the aftermath of a great war. All evening we had been asking our returned soldier, the youngest Patrick Boy, about his experiences as a prisoner of war. He had talked freely, but now for a long time he had been silent. What was he thinking of — what dark and dreadful things?

“Say!” A smile twitched his lips. “Do you remember — no, of course you wouldn’t. It probably didn’t make the impression on you it did on me.”

I hardly dared speak. “Remember what?”

“I used to think of that day a lot in PW camp, when things weren’t too good. Do you remember the day we flew the kites?”

Winter came, and the sad duty of call of condolence on Mrs. Patrick, recently widowed. I dreaded the call. I couldn’t imagine how Mrs. Patrick could face life alone.

We talked a little of my family and her grandchildren and the changes in the town. Then she was silent, looking down at her lap. I cleared my throat. Now I must say something about her loss, and she would begin to cry.

When she looked up, Mrs. Patrick was smiling. “I was just sitting here thinking,” she said. “Henry had such fun that day. Frances, do you remember the day we flew the kites?”

— Frances Fowler

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Jan 11, 2011 by

Oh my!

I just watched this as part of my LEMI training and it cracked me up.

Then it made me think.

And I invite you to let it do the same for you.

How am I stuck?

How are you?

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what should a four year old know?

Dec 7, 2010 by

I love this post. Love, love, love it! (Thank you to Jessica for sharing it with me!)

Did you read it?

If not, go read it, then come back.

I don’t understand the obsession with force feeding children the things they will learn over time while not teaching them the things that matter most.

To me, the things that matter most in mothering my children are helping them know the answers to these questions for themselves.

* who I am

* who God is

* what family means

* how God speaks to me

* what am I willing to live for

* what am I willing to die for

* what does God expect of me

* my ideas are valuable

* I can learn from books, toys, creating, building, fishing, digging, loving, thinking, drawing, praying, singing, animals, machines, grumpy people, kind people, rich people, poor people, art, instruments, dreaming, working, failing, succeeding, struggling, conquering…basically, I can learn from everything.

I want my children to know these things deep down in their little toes. I want them to be free from wondering if they are of worth. I want them to be able to trust their relationship with God. I want them to learn who they are, not what they can do and who they can beat, but who God created them to be.

Think about how many adults you know that are struggling with the above issues…wondering who they really are and if they are really loved.

Learning your academics is a piece of cake to learning the above.

Go back and read some more at Magical Childhood…go ahead, get inspired.

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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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the view from my window

Oct 30, 2010 by

Here is what I have been waking up to lately.


Lovely, isn’t it?

During the summer months, there are a gazillion more leaves and of course, they are all green. It feels like I am in my own private tree house sequestered away from the world. I like to lay there in the morning and revel in the beauty of my trees.

I have been thinking lately about my view and how it is only my view. Even though my husband shares a room with me, he often wakes up looking out the other window. Usually he can’t even see out the window at the times he gets up because it is pitch black outside.

My views are my reality. They are how I see the world and how I interpret it. They are what I respond to, what I act on, and what I believe to be true.

The older I get, the more I realize that my views are not actually reality. They are certainly not other people’s reality. The way I interpret the world around me, the people around me, the situations around me, is not the way others interpret those same things. I can totally experience one thing and the person next to me can experience something else.

Sometimes I think one must be the right experience and one must be the wrong experience. Other times I think each experience has validity and truth for each person and both are right. Other times I hope that each of us could be understood for only our understanding of our reality. Most the time, I sit in my reality and forget that it is not other people’s same viewpoint.

The view from my window helps me see that my view is only my view and I need to seek to understand others views in order to understand them and to come to love them the way God loves them.

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy my leaves before they all disappear.


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we need each other

Oct 25, 2010 by

I have come to the conclusion in my life that women need women. Connecting with other women fills a need in our soul, at least it does in mine.

I was pondering what it would be like to be one of the thousands of women who crossed this country in the 1800’s with her husband and children and often settled in some desolate place to eek a living out of the soil. Many of those women were miles from their nearest neighbor and would only see one another on a yearly trip to town. Can you imagine? Really think about it. Think about how empty your life would be if you worked from sun-up to sun-down without ever hearing another woman’s laughter, feeling her arms wrap around you, or look in your eyes and give you strength to go on.

I don’t think I could do it.

I need women in my life. I need to have friends to share my thoughts with, give my heart to, and grow in strength together. I need women to smile at me. I need to listen and serve and love and touch. I need to know I am not alone.

I grew up calling my grandmother for just about everything. Measurements, cooking times, recipes, relationship advice, sewing help, scrabble words, math problem help, and tons more. She was amazing at knowing the answers to every problem under the sun, but that wasn’t really why I called.

I called to connect.

I called to hear her voice and feel her love and learn her wisdom.

We all need that.

I am so grateful for my large circle of friends. My mothering journey would be far different without them.

Women need women, which is one reason why Kat and I are doing Make It For Maggie. We could have made skirts and sold them, we could have made bread, we could have done a million other things to earn money for Maggie’s Month, but we decided we wanted to bring women together and help nurture souls while we raise funds together.

I am so grateful for YOUR presence in my life…thank you, each of you, who write to me and share your thoughts. You help me be a better mother, a truer woman, and a wiser friend.

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what time is it?

Oct 10, 2010 by

I have a clock in our bedroom that isn’t all that great at showing us what time it is. It is a digital clock and it is often missing parts of its numbers so that I really have no idea what time it is. Every once in while, all the parts show up and I can tell what time it is.

Although it is still using electricity and is acting as though it is doing what it was created to do, the clock isn’t fulfilling its mission to inform me what time it is.

I am feeling like my clock. I am going through the motions of life, but I don’t think I am being all that effective in my missions of motherhood, sisterhood, service-hood, etc. I want to spend my time on those things I know God wants me to do, but I am pretty overwhelmed by so many different things and going so many different directions, that I don’t think I am being effective in any of them.

Just like my clock, sometimes I shine clear and strong and know I am doing just what I was created to do, being just what I was created to be. Other times, I am missing quite a few of my parts and am not being true to myself or to my God.

I am pondering how to right this situation and so far I have no answers.


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prayer = love

Sep 28, 2010 by

During my long drive home, I had lots of time to think and ponder.

I thought about the big things.

My relationship with my Father in Heaven.

My obedience to His commandments.

My love for my fellowman.

I thought about a dear friend who is struggling with some of the choices her family members are making. She has been so frustrated she could scream. Her heart has broken in more pieces than she ever thought possible.

As has mine and I’m sure yours as well.

Her remedy for this situation is prayer. She sets her alarm for 5 a.m. and gets up and prays for one hour. One solid hour seven days a week. She prays to be able to love as He loves them. She prays to have a soft heart. She prays that their best selves will emerge. She prays to be able to be His hands in their lives. She prays to be able to listen. She prays for strength to be who they need her be. She prays for clarity of thought, purity of intention, and abundance of love.

She is free from anger and resentment towards them. When I shared that with her, she commented,

“Tracy, how can I have anger for someone I pray for for one hour every single day. God has blessed me with love.”

Beautiful isn’t it?

I think I need more time on my knees and less time in my head.

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what might have been

Sep 18, 2010 by

Have you ever had a “what might have been,” an instance where you can clearly see what could have happened, what might have happened, what very well should have happened?

I had one yesterday and it frightened me to my core. It made me realize how grateful I am for my life. As I snuggled up with Richard last night, I trembled just thinking that I might not have been in his arms, that he might not have had me ever to hold again in this life, that my children would have been without my mothering for the rest of their lives and I would not have had the privilege of being with them day in and day out.

Yesterday as I was driving home from gym, I got stuck in a 55 mph construction zone. I couldn’t get out of it, so I made the best of it by talking to Kat about our fundraiser for Maggie’s Month. I saw a large rock hurtling toward me and instinctively ducked and of course, started screaming. It hit us hard and I was waiting for the windshield to shatter. Nothing happened. There was not a mark on the windshield. Baffled, I continued to drive home. When we got there I ran in the house and practiced my cello, got dressed and fancied up and came back out to drive to my cello recital. Keziah was looking at the top of the suburban and announced that the rock had hit us and cracked the top. I climbed up and looked and sure enough, there was a crack right above where my head is at when I am driving. I was kind of freaked out, thinking, wow, I am really glad it hit up there, but I was also in a hurry to get to my recital, so I didn’t think about it too much. Besides, I didn’t really know what it all meant.

After my recital, I showed it to Richard, who does know what it all meant, and he said I very easily could have been killed. He said for a rock to do that much damage means it probably would have come through the windshield and hit me in the head…and could have killed me.

As his words sunk in, I looked around me at my precious children and realized it was quite possible that I could be dead at that moment.

Throughout the night, I thought about it more and more. My insides twisted in knots and I felt like I was going to lose my dinner. I thought about what I would have left them. What memories they would have of me. What truths they would be able to cling to to help them through the rest of their lives. What I had taught them in their short time with me. What my Richard would do without me.

How much I would miss them. How much I wanted to wrap them all up in my arms and hide in a cave for the rest of our lives and somehow try to prevent anything bad from happening to any of us.

The reality is, any of us could be taken home at any moment of any day. It’s just that we don’t, at least, I don’t often think about it. I think I will be here as an old grandma enjoying my great-grandchildren running around my yard. I think I have oodles of time to spend with my family. Oodles of time to teach them, love them, strengthen them.

Last night reminded me that I don’t.

I am grateful to be here today and to be enjoying Fisher’s sixth birthday with him. We are planning on fishing the day away and coming home with some big trout for dinner.

Thank you to my God for protecting me from that rock. Three inches lower and everything might have been quite different this morning.

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Sep 7, 2010 by

This cute little Hebrew word is the subject of a wonderful article on Meridian Magazine.

The article teaches how we can be redeemers for other people…not Redeemers, but redeemers…people who redeem, rescue, serve, and love those around them.

I have been served many, many times and have felt the love of hundreds of go’els in my life. I can’t even count the times I have been rescued, been loved, by someone who I know was put in my path by a loving Heavenly Father. I remember a time last year that I was really falling apart and a dear friend grabbed me by the arm and took me grocery shopping. She bought my family food, but more importantly she gave me hope. I remember being adopted by many Christmas angels who made sure our family had presents to open, food to eat, and love to share on Christmas morning and for many mornings to come. I remember being scooped up out my life and being given my amazing husband, who helped me learn to love and trust and discover who I was created to be.

Likewise I know I have had the privilege to serve in that role for others. Just the other night I was able to bless a friend and provide her with an opportunity to heal from horrible abuse. At times, I have simply been in the right place at the right time, which is always an amazing display of God’s love for me and for the other person. At other times, I have made a determined and prayerful effort to change lives for the better. During the past year, I have made a concerted effort to consecrate 10% of my money to anonymously bless others lives. This is different than the 10% tithe we give to our church – this is money we use to directly bless someone’s life without them knowing it. This has brought us so much joy as a family! We have tons of fun picking out who we want to help or what project we want to undertake. Even though things are incredibly tight, we have felt greatly blessed by this process. I highly recommend it to everyone. We haven’t made the jump yet to using 10% of our income from Richard’s job, we just do it on the little bit of money we get from doula work and gym. Even this little bit of money has blessed lives and it has certainly blessed ours. I promise you, it will change your life. Pinky-promise.

I also loved the part in the article which talks about people praying for people they don’t know yet. As a teenage girl, I didn’t have a whole lot of faith that my life would turn out okay, but I had tiny smidgen of hope, and I used that hope to pray for my future husband. I prayed that he would be strengthened in making righteous choices and that he would be kept protected and safe. I know those prayers were answered. I know it deep down in my little toes. My husband came to me unblemished from the world. I was the first girl he ever kissed and he has often talked about the difficult choices he made to choose to be moral and obedient to commandments.

I yearn for greater ability, for greater faith to have the courage to bless others lives spiritually, physically, financially. This article gives me determination to be better, to strive harder, to be more conscious of others needs. I feel like I have been swallowed up by my own trials so frequently that I don’t always notice others and what they are struggling with. I commit today to be better.

To be a go’el for others.

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there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch

Jul 27, 2010 by

You know how some municipalities have a “free lunch” program? Well, we are attending a music camp in just such a town. I was pretty amazed it was offered here as I thought Wyoming was the last bastion of the whole “land of the free and the home of brave” thing.

I remember the first time I encountered the free lunch program. My children and I were playing at a park in Idaho when this huge bus of kids from a daycare were led out in single file line and told to stand and wait till the lunch lady came. I was bewildered by what was going on. Then a van pulled up to the park and a lady got out and started handing out brown bags with a pb&j sandwich, an apple, and a little box of milk. After she handed them out to all the daycare kids, all the kids who lived in the houses surrounding the park, and a variety of YMCA summer camp kids, she came over to us and gave us some bags. I told her “No, thank you,” but she would not listen, she said she had some left and they needed to be eaten. I again told her “No, thank you,” but she put them on our blanket and walked away.

Later I learned the schools in our area provide breakfast as well and that the children in my area are eating it…and that their mothers have stopped cooking them breakfast because the school does it for them…and that the kids who do still get breakfast at home are also eating it at school. What????? My tax dollars are going to feed people breakfast and lunch? People who don’t need the help!

Well, today at music camp, we were offered free lunch. I guess the local elementary school has a free lunch program during the summer months to insure that children don’t starve because they aren’t in school. Pretty much everyone at the camp took advantage of the free lunch and when I say took advantage that is exactly what I mean. Took advantage. The program isn’t intended to feed camp participants who are here from all over the intermountain west, it is intended to feed children in poverty level homes whose parents can’t afford to feed them.

I told my children all about the program and why we would not be participating. First of all, it is not the government’s nor the government’s schools responsibility to feed children.


Secondly, it is not the government’s responsibility to tax people to feed other people.


It is totally and completely wrong for them to do so. The responsibility to feed hungry people lies with themselves, their families, and then you and I.

Thirdly, aside from the program being wrong, it is being poorly implemented. It is not efficient or effective when bags of food are handed out to people at a park who already have food with them or music camp attendees who are not starving.

Yes, attending this camp is costing us an arm and a leg, but it will not cost us our principles and our self-respect.

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Jul 17, 2010 by

Today while packing up for our upcoming adventures we discovered that Keziah didn’t have enough shorts that fit her…so off to the basement storage overstuffed-overwhelming-disaster-waiting-to-strike room. We uncovered the bin that held Blythe’s old clothes and found a treasure trove of all sorts of clothing for Kez. Camping clothes, Sunday clothes, swim clothes, under-clothes, cute clothes!

Clothes full of memories.

It was almost surreal going through that box of clothes. It felt like a different life almost. Keziah has always worn Blythe’s hand-me-downs, so this is not a new experience…but today it was a very different experience.

It was so strange to see these clothes that my precious girlie wore when she was still small, before she developed lovely curves and grew up into a young woman. I remember when she wore these clothes. As I pulled out each piece of clothing, my mind would flash back to specific moments in time when Blythe had worn those capris as she swung on the monkey bars or rolled up those pants to wade in the stream or splashed food on a shirt at a family reunion and I scrubbed it and soaked it to get it clean.

So many memories of my precious girl.

When she wore those clothes she seemed so big.

So old.

And now? The clothes look eency-teency. They are so small and I can’t really wrap my mind around the fact that my beautiful grown-up girlie ever was that little.

How did this happen? How have the last few years of her life flown by me and I now have a daughter that is sharing my clothes, stealing my shoes, and looking every part of loveliness.

Isn’t strange how our perceptions change? How the way we view the world or people or things governs what we believe about those things and how we treat them and yet, our perceptions can be completely off base. They don’t even have to be based on reality! We create these perceptions, make sweeping decisions based on them, and we could be totally wrong.

I remember a time that I thought being 40 was old…now I know it is so not old. I remember thinking my Blythe was all grown-up the day she was baptized. Now I can see how little she was. I remember a time I believed someone didn’t like me and I was absolutely wrong, they were just quiet and communicated differently than me. I remember a time I thought everyone knew everything I had ever done wrong and that they were judging me on a moment-by-moment basis. Now I know the world is far to busy for most people to even notice I am alive, much less what my faults or sins are.

Perceptions are powerful.

I just want mine to be accurate!

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pumice stone

Jun 28, 2010 by

I am cleaning my bathroom today. A bathroom that is so filthy we stopped using it months ago. I couldn’t deal with the mess, the overwhelming need to dejunk it of clothes that don’t fit, fashions that are out of style, beauty products that need to be thrown away, and bath toys that probably need burned. My bathroom is part of my walk-in closet and it has been in utter disarray for at least a year. There are still maternity clothes in there that need put away from 2007! There are clothing sizes from size 14 down to a size 6. There are umpteen numbers of shoes, some of which I haven’t worn for years. The bathroom part of the closet hasn’t been used in a long time. The sink is disgusting, the counter is covered with all sorts of junk, and we can’t even get to the toilet.

I decided it was time for it to be cleaned, dejunked, DI’ed, and sanitized. I decided last week I was going to do it and I have been working on it since then. I have boxed up LOTS of clothes, thrown away oodles of empty and outdated beauty care products, and amassed the largest unmatching sock pile ever.

But the sink? I knew it was a goner. It had layers of slime, layers of gunk, layers of who knows what stuck to the sides. I have tried to clean it a few times over the past year, but nothing I did to it would get those layers off.

Well, today, I decided to try a pumice stone. I had heard the wonders of a pumice stone on toilets, so I thought I would give it a try before I threw the sink out.

To my amazement, it worked…instantly! It cut through all those layers and made the white porcelain shine! It took some elbow grease to keep scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing, but it worked!

After I cleaned the sink, I started working on the counter and I found this quote by Sheri Dew:

Jesus Christ is not our last chance, He is our only chance. He will show us the way because He is the way.

I read it and it hit me hard. I had used the pumice stone as the sink’s last chance. If it didn’t get it clean, I was giving up on it. I had tried everything I knew to clean it and nothing had worked. I was ready to toss it in the garbage and start over with a new sink.

Sometimes we treat God as if He is our last chance. We try other things to get us through life. Try to find happiness in other ways. Even try to get clean in other ways. But in reality, He is not our last chance. He is the only chance we have.

And He will walk with us all the way, teaching us all about 2nd chances and 200th chances. Teaching us how to come clean. Loving us enough to not toss us out and start over with another creation.

He is a bazillion, trillion, megajillion times better than a pumice stone…which as I proved today…is a pretty amazing thing as it is.

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grow the tree you have

Jun 23, 2010 by

I am reading a great book and it has a chapter in it called “Grow the Tree You Got” that gave me some big food for thought today. It talked about a man who had a gorgeous Kentucky black oak tree growing in his yard, but he yearned for an Australian acacia.

Every time he looked at the oak he saw that it didn’t have purple blooms and it didn’t let the sun stream through his yard the way an acacia would. He didn’t appreciate the strong branches of the oak, the beautiful colors of the leaves, the cooling shade it offered to every passerby. He didn’t notice how the oak’s root system nourished younger trees nearby.

The oak cannot do enough to please the man and soon the man doesn’t even see the magnificent tree when he comes home. There is a gift waiting for him in his front yard every single day, but he does not notice it.

From Parking Lot Rules & 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children by Tom Sturges

He only saw what his tree didn’t have and was not able to appreciate or be grateful for what it did have.

The author applied this to parenting and opened my eyes. He talks about how sometimes we do the same thing to our children. We have expectations, hopes, and desires for a certain child and when we don’t have that child we fail to see the wonderfulness of the child we do have.

I think in some small measure I have done this with my oldest. I have always adored her. She completely changed my life by making me a mother. I nursed her for over three years. I spent years being her mom with no one else around. She was with me every day and we had a delightful time going on walks, discovering bugs, reading for hours and hours, talking to all sorts of strangers on our journeys, going on bike rides, cooking up concoctions she could eat in spite of her allergies. We were completely in love with each other.

But then she grew up and I had more kids and she didn’t have all my attention and she wasn’t like what I thought she would be. I thought she would be like me and well, she wasn’t. She was a tad introverted. She thought artistically, not logically. She felt things deeply, but then she wouldn’t talk about them. She kept her ideas to herself. She wanted to be alone for hours at a time. She didn’t like being the center of attention and I embarrassed her constantly because I simply could not understand that facet of her personality. She was a slow reader. She held grudges. She created worlds in her mind and often went there to live unbeknownst to me who was treating her as if she was still in my home and thought she should interact with us. She had thin, breakable hair that seemed beyond my abilities to do anything with. She had oily skin that needed to be showered, washed, and pampered to stay on an even keel. She didn’t laugh at the same things I laughed at. She didn’t love math the way I love math.

Sometimes I saw these things as huge deficits. Things she didn’t have, couldn’t do, wouldn’t be. But really they were just things I couldn’t understand. They were things that weren’t like me. Things that seemed frustrating because they were out of my realm of experience.

Sometimes I saw them so much I couldn’t see the beauty and the wonder of who she was.

Who she is.

She is passionate about freedom for all of God’s children. She believes in standing up for truth. She has the soul of an artist. She moves with grace to the music of her mind. She has beautiful laughter and a lovely smile. She has the ability to be friends with all sorts of different types of people. She taught herself how to crochet and then makes things…like slippers, headbands, and gloves…just by looking at some and then figuring out how to do them. She is not afraid of doing things imperfectly. She stubbornly does what she sets her mind to. She is an amazing swimmer. She has a lovely body. She taught herself how to sew. She is clear about who she is and what she stands for. She is not afraid to do hard things. She is modest. She is funny. She has a beautiful singing voice. She has a flare for fashion. She has amazing curly hair. She is a great babysitter. She loves the Book of Mormon. She is strong. She is determined. She is resilient. She can draw for hours. She sees beauty that I miss. She is a deep thinker.

She is not me. She is not who I thought she would be.

She is her very own self and I love her.

I need to figure out how to send that message to her on a consistent basis and not focus on what the oak tree lacks.

Grow the tree or the child you have. The one you were given and not the one of your dreams. It will make all the difference.

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running out of gas

Jun 22, 2010 by

I can’t tell you the number of times I have run out of gas. Many. Not like every week or even every month and probably not even every year, but enough times that it is embarrassing. Enough times that I should have learned to pay attention to my gas gauge. I haven’t run out of gas lately (at least the vehicular kind), but only because of divine intervention and the prayers of my children when we are almost out and we somehow make it to the gas station.

I have a friend who runs out of gas even more often than I do. She will call and let me know she is out of gas and then I will go find her and fill her tank with my five gallon gas can.

Once I ran out of gas in my driveway and our neighbor came and rescued me. I had no idea that gas was the problem, I just knew my vehicle wouldn’t start. I had only gone 451 miles and I normally could go 600 miles, so I knew that an empty gas tank wasn’t the problem. Of course, I was wrong and after giving me enough fuel to get to the gas station, I was on my way.

My husband has rescued me numerous times. Usually in the middle of his day when it is not convenient and it is 100% my fault. No judgment, no harsh words are given. Just a hug and a kiss and a tank of gas.

I think we all run out of gas sometimes. Life gets away from us and we are running on fumes and then we are stopped all together. It might be we run out of energy, health, money, or faith. We might run out of smiles, hope, hugs, or desire. Sometimes we aren’t paying attention to our fuel gauge. Sometimes life took more than we thought it would. Sometimes we are in an emergency and don’t have time to stop to refuel so we keep going in hopes of making it. Sometimes the place we thought we could get gas isn’t open and we have to look elsewhere. Sometimes we are stuck in a line of traffic for far too long and our gas runs out before it should have.

Its not always our fault.

Just sometimes.

But in the moment of despair, it doesn’t really matter whose fault it is (although it is usually worse on us emotionally if it IS our fault). What matters is being rescued and the manner in which the rescue is carried out.

With judgment. With speed. With slowness. With attention to all of the needs or just the most glaring. With a smile. With a lecture.

Or with love and mercy.

As I think about the people who have helped me when I have run out gas, of all varieties, not just the unleaded kind, I am determined to help others who are running low as well. We all need a rescuer sometimes and I have had more than my share of knights (and maidens) in shining armor come to my aid. I hope I can share the love and help others on their journeys as well. Their fault or not, they need some sustenance to get them on their way again. A smile, a hug, a heartfelt note, a meal, some ice cream, a warm bed, some reading time, a massage, some help given without judgment…all of these can change someone’s direction and get them back on their feet again.

We have been cleaning out the garage lately. I found a box of old cards and letters. Cards from my mom, my dad, my grandparents, school teachers, friends, church leaders, community members, and complete strangers. Cards that had been sent at a perfect time to refuel me and get me going again. Letters that spoke to my soul and helped me believe in myself. Words of counsel and words of faith. Encouragement to keep on keeping on. I spent a long time reading each note, remembering back to the young girl that needed so badly to be given some help and hope. Some direction. Some love. Some wisdom.

Rereading these words filled me with love, even now, years later. The process of reading them helped me reframe my childhood. It was obvious I was surrounded by love, not abandoned as I have sometimes felt, because right there in my hands was a box full of proof! It is true that I saved the “good stuff” and not the bad, but still, tangible proof that an army of people had loved me enough to write me a note, mail me a card, and send me some hope.

Yesterday I was the cause of my daughter’s running out of gas. I was being too hard on her (again!) and was critical in ways that hurt her. I needed to fix the problem. I needed to fill her soul with love. I needed her to know I believe she is brilliant, talented, lovable, and good. We spent a few hours together just having fun and walking around. It was exactly what both of us needed. Now she is off to Girls’ Camp and I hope she takes with her the knowledge that I love her, and more importantly, that God loves her.

In the end, He is the ultimate refueler. He knows exactly what we need to keep going and will send rescuers to us in our time of need. I want to be in tune with Him so He can use me to get His message and aid to others.

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who comes up with these things?

Jun 11, 2010 by

We have a controversy going on in our community about Independence Day being celebrated on Saturday, July 3rd instead of Sunday, July 4th. It is getting fairly heated and there are debates going on in the newspapers, on TV, on Facebook, on city web pages, at the grocery store…pretty much all over the area people are talking about this issue.

In one of the online discussions about this issue, a man has commented repeatedly with statements opposing the celebration being on the 3rd. He paints himself as a logical, scientific, educated man who is able to see all sides of this issue. I was able to disregard a lot of what he said, but this statement of his stopped me in my tracks.

“Choosing God over Country is like choosing friends over family.”


Does he believe people should actually be more loyal to their country than they are to their God?

This I don’t understand. Not in any way, shape, or form.

If a person chooses their country over their God (whichever and whatever God they choose to worship) how can that be a good thing? How can a fallible country be a better allegiance than a God? How can anyone think that it would be?

Please, enlighten me here. Please explain to me how this could be a rational rule to live by.

Because I simply don’t get it.

I love America. Love, love, love America. I cried this week at America’s Hope practice as the children sang songs about this great country. I cried tonight at the rodeo as we sang the Star-Spangled Banner. I volunteer as much as I can to help make this country a better place. I research issues, I stand up for principles of freedom, I study the Constitution, I write and call my elected officials. I am a good citizen who is trying her darndest to help America be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

But choosing country, even a country as divinely instituted as America is, over God makes no sense to me at all. It’s like choosing a fingernail over the miracle of the human body, choosing the index over the author of the book, choosing a rain drop over the water cycle.

I’m with C.S. Lewis – religion is the most logical concept out there and I am sticking with it.

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striving for

Jun 9, 2010 by

I saw a bag at TJMaxx with these words on it and knew I had to have it. Knew I needed these words in my life. More correctly, to be my life. I used $5.99 of my gift card to fund the purchase and have been smiling inside each time I read them.


Yes, this is what I am striving to do. Striving to become. I believe this is why I was called to be a doula…so that I could learn how to love in this way and then bless families lives. It comes easily as a doula…it is so much harder on a day to day basis when my heart is not pure. When I am not focused on strengthening families, loving souls, and welcoming spirits. When I interact with people…people I choose to be frustrated with…people whose behaviors drive me bonkers. I yearn to become this person in all my relationships…to be a whole and healthy person walking the path of earth life with others in a way that enriches, nurtures, and heals. To not let my vision of who each of us are be clouded by the veil of mortality or let my interactions be based on the “truths” of this world that distort the real truth of the worth of souls and the purpose of our time here on earth.

These four births in the past few weeks have taught me so much about what these words mean. Each one of these families has asked me either in words or with their hearts to do at least one of these things and often all five of them. I have been tutored by my Father above to care for them in the way they needed and in the process my own spirit has grown. I pray I may have the wisdom, the humility, and the courage to treat all people this way.

Each day.

Imagine the world if we all could do this.




Heaven on earth.

I know I am not up to it now, but maybe over the course of my lifetime eons of time I will become a person who does this as naturally as I now have frustrations, pride, and selfishness come to the forefront of my heart. Step by step, day by day, relationship by relationship I will strive to treat people this way.

Will you join me?

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make enough of me

Jun 8, 2010 by

I just learned of this song and I can already say listening to it the last few days has brought peace to my soul, hope to my heart, and a smile to my face.

I have been gone to swim camp for a week (it rained every day and was crazy-windy, like so windy three tents were blown over and broken, chilly, and lots of children were throwing up by the end of the week – but still way fun), got home on Saturday afternoon to a filthy house, loads of laundry, and my sister, Mikelle, and her husband, Logan, waiting for me and mowing my much overgrown lawn. Mikelle got right to work cutting hair and beautifying all of us, then we went to Logan’s Semi-Pro football game and got home around midnight. Annesley started throwing up shortly thereafter and continued through the night. Sunday brought church for a few of us healthy ones and lots of rest for everyone else. Sunday night I got called to a birth and got home last night around 11 p.m. This morning Blythe has Youth Conference (which amazingly enough, she was all packed for when I got home last night!), Keziah has America’s Hope Choir practice, and I still have a sick baby, LOADS of laundry, more dishes than I can throw a stick at, and lots of work on the Children’s Parade. I am spread far too thin and today I certainly feel there is not enough of me to go around…and yet, I love my life. I am grateful to be a wife, grateful to be a mother, grateful to be a doula, grateful to have a washer and dryer, grateful to have food to feed my children and dishes to wash, grateful to have a home to clean, and grateful to be in this phase of my life. It is busy, and yes, it can be overwhelming, but it is also a wonderful training ground for my soul to learn patience, diligence, nurturing, prioritizing, pausing, letting go, and letting God. Every day I am clearly reminded that I cannot do this without Him. I cannot mother the way He would have me mother without spending time communing with Him, learning from Him, and letting Him work miracles in my life and the lives of my children. He has given me this time to refine me. I know this. I know He loves me and wants to help me. I just need to let Him and depend on Him more and more each day. This song is helping me remember just that.


Make Enough of Me

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realistic expectations

Apr 21, 2010 by

I have a dear friend, Jodie Palmer, who often says we overestimate what we can accomplish in a day and we underestimate what we can do in a lifetime.

I have been pondering this concept for several weeks. It definitely applies to me. I believe I can get 10 loads of laundry, make dinner for a neighbor, clean up my yard, read to my children, take a nap, go on a bike ride, plan a fabulous homeschooling activity, teach a class, make 20 phone calls, go grocery shopping, read my scriptures, have a beautifully set table for dinner, give each child my undivided attention, make bread, scrub toilets, write in my commonplace book, and practice my cello all in the same day. This is ludicrous. I have come to know I cannot do all that in one day. I have let go of a lot of my expectations for myself and the resulting feelings of failure when I don’t measure up. I am much more realistic than I used to be about my energy levels, the amount of time things really DO take, and what my capabilities are.

But I still put too much in almost every day.

I am okay with that. For the most part, I am not going to bed beating myself up for not getting more laundry done or not having a the bathroom cleaned.

I do, however, beat myself up if I haven’t spent nurturing one-on-one time with my husband and each of my children.

Right now, for me, the more critical part of Jodie’s statement is that we underestimate what we can accomplish in a lifetime. I would like to make better use of my time in small increments to be able to accomplish much over the course of time.

You see, I am one of those people who wants to do it all in one fell swoop. I don’t want to work at a drawer at a time in my kitchen and at the end of a week have them all reorganized. No sirree! I am all about emptying the entire kitchen, scrubbing it from floor to ceiling, completely redoing what goes in each drawer and cupboard, getting rid of stuff, creating a new plan for our family kitchen usage, and putting it all back together in time for supper.

What this really means is that I live in chaos because nothing ever gets done in one fell swoop. Life has to go on. Children have needs. We all have appointments and commitments and so my piles of stuff add up and it takes me days and sometimes weeks to get it all put back together.

Now, if I could somehow develop a plan to do it in small chunks at a time I am sure life would go much smoother and more would actually get accomplished.

It is simply not the way I am programmed.

I like to clean by completely emptying, rearranging, repurposing, reDOING everything – and I like to do it in one day.

I like to read a book in one day. I like to can hundreds of quarts of applesauce in one day. I like to get in shape in one day (impossible, I know…but somehow I like to think if I go for a 50 mile bike ride or do 200 sit-ups it will magically grow muscles, heart health, and eliminate my risk of cancer). I like to sew a beautiful creation (okay, my creations aren’t quite to the beautiful point, but they are improving a little bit) in one day.

I have the hardest time with spreading things out over a period of time. I like to start something and finish it. I don’t want to stop until it is completely finished, even if that means going without food and sleep. This used to work quite well for me. I could write my research papers in one big day. I could pull an all-nighter and get my whole house clean. I could start packing the day of a trip and still get it all done by midnight.

I could do it and then sleep the whole next day. Now? Not so much.

Now, I have lots of little bodies that need me to be present and alert each day. I have many commitments that don’t allow me to take a whole day off to do a project. I get tired much more easily. I get hungry much more easily. I get sick much more easily. I have bigger hopes and dreams of order and it seems my level of mess and chaos grows in exact opposition to the level of order I dream of.

But, I can see the wisdom of it.

I can see that chapter by chapter, night after night we have made it through lots of family read-alouds.

I can go back through my blog posts and see that keeping a semi-daily record of my life for the last year has created a treasure trove of memories that otherwise would be forgotten.

I can see the power of compound interest.

I can see the power of serving neighbors and friends over many years and building a rich community of trust and love.

I can see what my grandmother accomplished in her life by doing things a little at a time. Filling a grandchild’s heart with love was done cookie by cookie, story by story, hug by hug, loving advice by loving advice, canasta game by canasta game, birthday phone call by birthday phone call, and strawberry pie by strawberry pie. There wasn’t a thought of “I’m going to fill ’em up today with enough love to get by for the next year.” She knew it was a steady process, a little at a time.

I just don’t know how to really implement this in my own life. That whole Flylady thing? Tried it, wanted it to work, but nope, didn’t fly with me.

I am trying to clean my bedroom…it seems it is unconquerable. I told myself I would just do a little bit each day…and I have been. But it is driving me crazy. A little bit at a time seems so ineffective. I want to start in the morning and finish before bed and go to sleep in a perfectly spotless room. I am forcing myself to work on it in 15 minute increments. I am forcing myself to not stay up all night working on it. I am forcing myself to be okay with it…it just feels so, so, eeeeeuuuuucckkkkkkkk.

Now, I am trying to empty out the two bookshelves in my room so I can move those out. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because it is creating more mess!

Do you have some thoughts on how to do this?

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