Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hey Imperfect Moms, Remember When Mary Lost Jesus?

Do you ever feel like you aren't meeting the mark as a mom or a dad? That you have these perfect little children that deserve so much better and why in the world did the Lord give them to you to watch over, protect and raise when you don't measure up?

I sometimes think that.

In fact, I left one of my kids camping the other day. Who leaves one of their kids at a camp site? Apparently I do.

It was only for a moment and to my credit he was an older child who was in the car and jumped out at the last moment after my final head count, before we took off, after I returned from grabbing one last thing. We actually all had a good laugh about it afterwards.

 After we figured it out and as we circled back to the camps site my brother in law, Kevin who was still there, remarked half jokingly "You don't want to leave Tanner, he is a good one."

The comment made me think of how Mary and Joseph must have felt when they thought they lost the Son of God.

Can you imagine losing the Son of God?

Can you imagine?!!!

The weight and loss and the worry that they had to endure for 3 days (a number with great significance) as they searched for their little boy? This responsibility was so great and uniquely theirs and they had seemed to fail. The fate of the world hinged on their imperfect hands and they had fallen short of their responsibility and sought him sorrowing.

They must have felt condemned like Joseph Smith did when he lost the manuscript. I can imagine that a manuscript compared to a child , even the Son of God would be of much less of value.

When they finally found the child Jesus, he gives them a message that I believe is also valuable to us as imperfect parents today "Wist ye not that I must be about my fathers business?"

God does not give his perfect children (they all start perfect), to perfect parents. Even when they are lost, broken, hurt, it is part of the "the Father's business." It is part of the plan. We are part of the plan. Our imperfections and striving to overcome our imperfections while raising our children, beautify and amplify this experience.

"Behold this is my work and my Glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Heavenly Fathers work isn't to make sure we have a cushy life, or a smooth sailing mortality, or that our kids do. That isn't his work. His work is to bring about our "immortality and eternal life" something that can only be brought to pass with a few rough edges, bruises and even lost kids.

It can happen when we learn to love another, one of God's children or our own children, so deeply as we love ourselves. As we watch others grow and care for them more than we care for ourselves. This is Charity. Our children will get bumps and bruises along the way because we are on a ride together. We are imperfect and they are part of our ride. We try to protect them but we have to remember that even Mary and Joseph made mistakes and they were in charge of watching the Son of God.

Who are we to condemn anyone else when Mary and Joseph are the greatest mortal example in that God himself entrusted them with his son and even they fell short according to and outsiders standards in that they seemingly lost his child. In fact, if we are judging by how the kids turn out many parents in the scriptures fall short. It is an interesting phenomenon. Lehi, Zeniff, Mosiah, Alma. Even God the Father himself, an omniscient being, loses third of his children. Why? because of agency. Being a parent doesn't mean you are a puppet master, being a parent means you are a guide.

Sometimes our children are lost, they get bruised, they get left, even when our hearts are right and we are doing our best. We need to remember that when we are doing our best it is all according our "Father's business." and part of the journey of mortality. We can take courage in that the most perfect of children even the Son of God was raised by imperfect parents.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

How to Serve, when you are the one being served

My 5 yr old neighbor was recently diagnosed with leukemia. There have been many people that have volunteered to help and who have tried to ease the burdens of the family financially.

I have thought about them and how they must feel with the out pouring of love and how hard it is to accept help and generosity.

Today in relief society my other neighbor who lives across the street shared feelings that she had over the last year. She had a baby who was very sick and was in and out of Primary Children's Hospital. This little baby girl eventually died due to complications since birth. This neighbor talked about how difficult it was for her not to serve others during this time when she had all hands on deck, mentally, physically and spiritually. It was out of her capacity to serve. She did say how gratefully she was for the service she received. She wondered if anyone had any ideas of how to serve when you feel like you can't serve.

Sometimes our struggles are a gift to others
Now I know it sounds like a cliche but the truth is that sometimes our struggles are a gift to others and the greatest service we can give to others is to simply let them serve us.

Now hear my out.

The greatest thing we can acquire in this life is the attribute or charity. Charity isn't something we do, or give but it is something we become. The scriptures are clear "If ye have not charity, ye are nothing!" "Even if you give your body to be burned" (Wow really?! Burned PAul?! Ouch) But have not charity ye are nothing!

Now when we have a hardship and our story compels others to feel the pure love of Christ in so much that they initiate action to do a service of some kind for us that is a great thing indeed. When others are moved upon by the spirit to do a charitable work they become closer to God and become more like our Savior Jesus Christ and feel of this God like love. This gift is bestowed upon them. We help other obtain the gift of charity by letting them serve us in our time in need. This is a very unique service indeed.

What they receive is not a simple meal, or encouragement or the ability to make it one more day like they have given us. What we do give them is an opportunity to become more like God and gain access to eternal blessings that they may not obtain without experiences such as this.

When we humble ourselves to let others serve us- We are servants of the most high and take his place in the scriptures as he has said "When ye are in the service of the least of these ye are only in the service of your God." What a powerful thing.

Sometimes it is harder to be served than to serve but if we have the perspective that this is also Gods work in saving and changing souls than we can rest easier in seeing others sacrifice for our behalf. We never want to enforce service of course but if we accept it when it has come our way then we will be blessed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


My thoughts on Hate

*I found this snippet in my journal. I must have wrote it when I was feeling passionate about the subject. When rereading it I found it profound enough to share beyond my personal journal. I thought I would share.

The greatest lie of hate is that it takes on a limited form. We forget that hate is a mere mindset not a religion, political view, occupation, race or class. It is a skewed point of view that anyone can fall victim too at any moment. Whether we only see a persons skin color, race, occupation or political party, hate is the same and blinds us to see only one thing about them.

Whether we are looking out or looking in, hate is the same. The moment we use hate to preach against it, we become a hypocrite and the spawn of the very thing that we are fighting against and consequentially our words mean nothing.

To truly preach against hate you must only use love. If not you are as the "hateful" you despise who have gone before you- they become your father because their hate has created your hate. If you continue the cycle of hating, you have not risen above hate itself. It is very possible to shine light within the darkness, to live with light even when hate is all around.

Within us is the ability to surpass our anger and look deep within others, see their humanity and look past their folly. We are all children together under the same purpose. It is possible to be separate in thought but still be of one heart.

Rise above the need to hate someone. When we do this we live on a higher plane of moral existence and expand our capacity for personal growth.

To hate those who hate you will only limit your potential but to love those that hate you will break the chains of an evil cycle and frees not only our thoughts, but our souls.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Studying the scriptures in one word- A new way to study.

What if I told you that you could exercise for 1 minute at a time and see great benefits?

Believe it or not this is actually a thing. And it works. High intensity 1 minute workouts. There is research that surrounds it. Its not for me I will be honest, I like my full morning workout but it is actually researched based. But this post is not about that...(even though as many of you know I love fitness).

What if I told you, you could study the scriptures in one word increments and actually get a lot out of it and see great benefits...

Sound too good to be true?

Well its not! It really is as miraculous as it sounds and more, especially when you have the greatest teacher in the whole universe at your side to coach you. We all know who that is right? The Holy Ghost!

Let me explain about this one word study method!

One Word- No Problem!
This weekend I gave a 90 minute presentation at a retreat for women. It was great. There were a lot of women there. We all felt the spirit, We laughed. We cried. It was awesome!

Despite my message the one thing that most of them took away (because I asked them) was how I mentioned, as a side note, that I sometimes study the scriptures by studying one word for a while. I guess no matter what your message is as a speaker the true messenger is always the Holy Ghost. I hope that is true in written posts as well.

In college I took a "Bible as literature" class. We read the entire bible front to back. We also read the Apocrypha in this class. Now that was fun.

I guess it isn't any different than other text books right?

During the class and for our final research project the professor had us do an in depth study of one word and how it was used in the scriptures and write a research project on it. We used nothing but the scriptures to study this one word and its many meanings.

This was and will forever be my favorite project of college. I chose the word "salt". You would be amazed at how many references to salt there is in the scriptures, "Ye are the salt of the earth", "Lots Wife", "salting sacrifices". The more I studied the more excited I became about what I was learning.

You see, the scriptures ARE INCREDIBLE! They are like mathematics.

In math 2 + 2 =4, 2x2=4 if you look at it up or down or across it all meets back together again.

The scriptures do much of the same but instead of using numbers and metrics the scriptures use ideas, prophecies and languages that have had to endure several translations. Now isn't that incredible?!

For example, in the scriptures Christ can speak to a small group of farmers yet his words apply to the entire house of Israel (a multi-generational span of people consisting of billions of people) but it can also apply to individuals. He can speak on a micro level as well as a macro level at the same time. There is such a divine layering to his meaning. He can speak to a publican but yet his words can come back to my heart and answer a personal and holy prayer while walking through a grocery store almost two thousand years after they were given. By small and simple things shall great things come to pass.

I have no doubt that God could call down the stars to fall and align and show great wonders in heaven. Or that angels could dance before us and tell us tales of creation but instead he chooses to use the words of scriptures to be our guides.

The study of scriptures take a pure act of agency, a diligent conviction without accolades or immediate praise of on lookers. Like Naaman washing in the river Jordan 7 times (2 Kings 5:1-15) it is no great thing we are asked to do but it is a personal session with an unseen power. But "Because of the simpleness of the way and the easiness of it many will perish" (1 Nephi 17:41) because the chose not to practice the holy dedication and diligence that personal daily scripture study requires.

Joseph translation of the scriptures holds a parable in itself. His struggle to discipher the scriptures and their meaning is not to far from our own personal translation of what the scriptures mean to us in our lives. In the beginning he used stones, in the beginning we may require many helps, many aids but in the end we may need nothing more than the pages that lay before us and the eyes of our understanding.

How incredible are the scriptures!

Another example(because I am long winded...)- Christ quotes Isaiah who is speaking Messianically, (meaning Isaiah is quoting the pre-earth Christ). So Chirst is essentially quoting Isaiah, who is quoting the pre-earth Christ. So Christ is quoting himself, but doing it in a way that sounds really cool. Wow!

Again you can read the scriptures forward and back ward and across just like mathematics and when you add latter day scriptures it is another added measure of richness and how grateful I am for the latter day scripture that we have.

So back to salt. With this research paper. I learned a lot about salt, covenants and promises.

So now I read the scriptures at times in one word increments. I have studied the scriptures in one word increments. Sometimes a word will call out to me. Or a phrase.

I have studied fruit- What a glorious thing to study!

I have studied hope, faith, charity, vessels, rich, fish, seeds, ground and many more topics.

My favorite so far has been charity. I spent an entire year studying the word charity. Every day for a year I would open my scriptures and I would read and research and learn and repeat. I poured over the scriptures relating to charity and the love of God. What I learned was incredible but by the end of the year I felt I had barely scratched the surface of this amazing topic.

I concluded that the whole purpose of this life was to learn charity and that it all comes back to charity.

Now I have dragged this post on for far too long and if anyone is still reading I commend you.

Anyone that can endure a read like this could surely read and study any topic they desired.

Studying the scriptures in one word sessions truly can be an incredible experience.

Try it...and then try exercising 1 minute at a time high intensity with breaks in between could be fun.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

5 Things You Can do Each Day to Make Your Child a Successful Adult

A 75 year long Harvard study followed 268 Harvard men over 75 years to determine what exactly made them happy and successful later in life.

This study, called the Grant study, found something very interesting and it had to do with mothers.

It concluded:

"The warmth of childhood relationship with mothers matters long into adulthood:
  • Men who had “warm” childhood relationships with their mothers earned an average of $87,000 more a year than men whose mothers were uncaring.
  • Men who had poor childhood relationships with their mothers were much more likely to develop dementia when old.
  • Late in their professional lives, the men’s boyhood relationships with their mothers—but not with their fathers—were associated with effectiveness at work."

As mothers we think we have to be perfect. We think that everything we do will affect our children.

We think we have to have a perfect house, a perfect temper, perfect clothes, perfect domestic abilities, a perfect education and perfectly folded clothes. 

Well put down the unfolded laundry ladies...because the truth is that we don't have to be perfect at really...anything.

(***Huge sigh of relief)

In fact, sometimes our lack of perfection, but continuation of imperfection while still functioning, proves more to our children than perfection does. 

While we could argue the validity of the Grant study and its application to all families the one thing we cannot dispute is the true power behind the "warmth of a mothers love" and its impact on children. This is because this truth is deeply interwoven within us. The Harvard Grant study isn't the only reliable source that declares the power of a Mother's love! My heart declares this and I believe yours does too. 

Our mom hearts deep inside us know that we were made to nurture and to love our children. It is a biological, emotional, spiritual need that we have. Not only does it make a difference to their "now" but it will continue to influence them way into adulthood.

So forget about the constant stress of being perfect but do heed this terrible warning. The one thing that we can do to interfere with this glorious task of "loving our children" that we have is to disconnect from them. Psychologically, emotionally or even spiritually. Unfortunately, as moms we are facing this temptation to disconnect more than ever before. I only speak not as someone who is condemning others but as someone who has fallen victim to this flaw. I myself have looked up from my device and realized what I have done and felt the sorrow at the time that I have lost. 

This tool of Satan is very real. It is the most subtle yet effective weapon he has against us mothers. It will leave us with bitter regret and can leave our children disconnected from us in their time of greatest need.

How can we work to over come this? We watch for the important crossroads of connection and make those crossroads into habits to connect with them, without distraction without strings attached. We connect with them each day. "Connect at the crossroads"

This may seem mechanical but for us who have spanned the nontechnical and technical age of motherhood --meaning we have raised kids both in and out of social media WE NEED THIS!!! 

I HAVE SEEN THE DIFFERENCE. With my oldest children there was not social media. No temptation to disconnect. There was just them. I didn't wake up and check my phone. I rushed in and held my babies.

I didn't look at my phone at breakfast or when they were at the playground. There was no temptation it was just me and them. Now there is always a silent intruder. It is here to stay. A silent crowd knocking at my door, pleading for my attention. Distracting, calling, bidding. 

I could get off of social media altogether but the world has turned and I have turned with it. I am evolving. So now I need to show this silent intruder that he/she has a place. I am still in charge. They have to wait while I connect with my children. My children have priority.

So again there are precious cross roads each day where we can connect with our children and enhance "this warmth" that is refereed to in the study above. We can arrange special moments each day if we desire, because more is better but the most important thing is to connect consistently on a regular basis and make it habitual. Our children need to feel secure and loved. It is so important that our phones and electronics are put away at specific times and that we are in tune.

Connect at the Crossroads

Connect when they wake up-
Tenderly love your children as they meet the day. Do they wake up grumpy? Teach them that you are there with a smile. Even if you have to crack the whip a few minutes later to get them going at least initially connect and show them love those first few moments that they see you. Keep your device away. Touch their arm, squeeze their shoulder, rub their back, give them a kiss on their for head, make them breakfast. Whatever you do as a family. Put the device away. Ask them about what their day will entail. Make it all about them.

Connect when they come home from school-
Kids and even teenagers are often chatty right when they get home from school. The ride home from school is the best time to talk to them but right when they walk in the door is a good time as well. Put the computer away. I know that many people work and are not there but if you have the opportunity to be there to greet them. Ask them about their day. Retrieve their back pack, give them a snack. See what they have been up to. Let them have a moment to go to the bathroom. Be a safe place for them to land.

Connect at Dinner (or other meals)
There are many studies that talk about the power of family meals. From the protective power against drug use to good grades family meals together can grant it all. Make family meals a priority. If your kids are old enough to have devices of their own have them put their phones away and connect with you as well. Make the meal as yummy as you can so that it is something that they look forward to. Keep it positive try to reserve it for good conversation. Work out problems another time. Again try to take a chance to squeeze each child on the arm lovingly. Touch is a powerful parental reassurance. Hug your children often and look them in the eye. Make them remember who they are and who they are meant to become.  

Connect bedtime
As a mom for me this is always the hardest time to connect. I am always extremely tired. What started out as reading books to each child, then bed time stories, then songs to each child is now only time with each child in the form of a hug and a kiss and a tap on the nose with a tuck in and an "I love you". I try to take time to talk to the older ones a little longer because this is the time when they are the most chatty (see the point below). But our bedtime routines seem to fluctuate a little depending on the needs of the children and my needs. I know they look forward very much to this time with me so I try not to miss it no matter how tired and grumpy I feel. 

Connect in times of need (Or when our children are chatty)
There are times when I notice my children look sad or just need to talk. I try to listen to them at these times. There is a quote that says listen to your children when they tell you about the little things so that when they grow older they will tell you about the big things because to them the little things were always the big things. I have a son who wants to tell me every little thing that happens in class. He is always so excited about it too. I find I am tempted to tune out and multitask in my brain as he does this but I remember this quote and try to find the excitement in his stories that he finds. I also try to tune into the feelings of my kids when they seem to carry around a burden. Some are better at hiding it than others so I have to really watch for it. I have even felt the spirit prompt me a few times to ask my kids about what is going on and so I have to also connect in that way.

I dislike sharing links since you lose control over where they lead and the ads shared on the future page but I watched this clip from this woman who is a child psychologist and it was very impactful to me. Almost life changing.

 If you have about three minutes watch it please. I shared another link below to her book. The title is deceitful. It really is not about working mom's but about distracted moms. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tithing- "Prove me herewith"

I was reviewing our budget. I do really well, usually with our finances. I say usually because I made a huge blunder recently. A couple of months ago, I noticed an excess of funds. I believed that they were a result of an extra class my husband had taught, so I used them to pay directly into our house debt. I do this any time we have excess. I should have double checked first.

I realized when reviewing our budget and documents later that the funds were not from an extra class, but a missed tithing payment.

I remember getting online to pay tithing but I failed to complete the translation by not pressing submit. At least I think that is what happened.

The month was tight with funds. We had a few large bills come through and I wasn't sure what to do. I had not encountered a temptation not to pay tithing in a long time. The Lord had really taken care of us. I knew to pay it but my mind tried to devise a way that it would impact us the least possible. As I devised and schemed the scripture- "prove me now herewith" entered my mind. Malacah 3:10 "bring ye all tithes...and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour out a blessing, that there shall not be room to receive it."

Now I don't know about you, but it sounds a lot to me that the Lord is saying- come and try this principle out. We are told not to ask for "signs" but is this the one exception? Is this the one place where the Lord will provide for us miraculously and "open the windows of heaven" and pour out upon us blessings? I have definitely seen it with my own eyes not even just in the story I am about to share but many times before.

I hope however to be faithful enough as the widow who "casteth in her mite", far away from the praising voice of the Savior. Who did not hear his words, who did not realize her story would inspire millions, but she did it anyway. With out knowing that she would receive anything, she gave all she had not knowing where her or her family's next meal would come from. But since God is an Honest God and One who keeps his word. Our rewards will come. In this life or the next. Even so much that we may not have room to receive them! Wow!

So I paid my tithing double that month.

I know we are always blessed for paying tithing but I am not always looking for the blessings. so in my perspective I really shouldn't have been technically blessed right? Not "more than normal". Since I was just doing what I owed in the first place. After all I was paying a month that I had missed.  But I couldn't help but keep my eyes open for blessings. It was a sacrifice. I didn't know how the numbers were going to work out.

I did know, however, that the Lord would bless us. That somehow we would make it.

I waited upon the Lord. I tried to find a few ways that we would make money with full confidence that something would happen. My pride didn't allow me to tell my husband just yet about my tithing blunder, I hoped that the tithing blessing would come through. I watched for it and tied to figure out how to make things work and a few days after paying the tithing the blessing came...

My husband came in from work one afternoon and I was at the computer.

He walked in the door and said "You will never guess what happened today."

I replied "Someone gave you a bunch of money."

He stopped mid-stride and eyed me with surprise. "How did you know?" He asked.

I was right. The blessing had come. Before he could even tell me what the blessing was guilt got the better part of me and I told him my financial blunder and how we had to pay two months of tithing that month because of my mistake.

My husband, who is the most honest person I know and the most honest with the Lord, sat and listened.  He still hadn't told me his news yet and asked how much we owed on tithing and had paid this month. I told him. He sat down and did some numbers in his head.

"Yes" he replied."Someone did give us a bunch of money or an extra job that will provide a bunch of money and it comes out to be almost 8 times what we paid in tithing."

It turns out a large company got my husbands name and asked him that morning to teach a class. The thing is, it won't just be one class but it will be a continuous class. Each time he will make a generous amount for a minimal amount of time.

I know things don't always turn out this exact way with tithing. And sometimes it is stories like these that make people frustrated, but who am I to not report miracles when they come and bear testimony of such things. The windows of heaven do open and this isn't even the greatest of tithing miracles. I know the true miracles take place in our hearts when we use our agency to follow out of obedience and love for our Father in Heaven and his plan. This change is worth more in the eternities than we can fathom.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Early morning scripture study in a stinky gym

I get up every morning and go to the gym REALLY early.

It is not easy. It is difficult some days. But I am always grateful.

The first thing I do when I arrive is walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes and read my scriptures.

This sounds insignificant but I have noticed this "preworkout scripture study" time is one of the most revelation flowing sessions I have of the day.

I am not sure why that is. Now if you remember I am at a gym. I am surrounded by people in workout clothes, pop-fitness music is playing and Televisions are broadcasting overhead. It isn't an environment that a person would usually feel the spirit.

So why is it that I feel that great "mysteries of God" are revealed to me in those short sessions right before my workout?

I have thought about this alot.

Shouldn't it be only that only quiet moments in the temple are when I get that inspiration?

Shouldn't it be when I am completely away from the worlds influence in all it's forms and I have fasted and prayed or when I am at church?

Why in a stinky gym with music playing, with TV's broadcasting would I have very tender revelations?

The other day it occurred to me.

Sacrificing a tiny slice of my early morning workout time (I get up at 4:45 again it is not easy) to read my scriptures is my own form of a personal tithe or my own "widows mite." I don't always have a lot to offer to the Lord but my workout time is something that its truly something of worth to me.

Reading 10 minutes may seem insignificant but I feel the Lord blesses me for it.

 I try to also read at other times during the day but this is what I do to make sure I get it in before anything else and to make a special offering before the Lord each day.

One of my sessions this week I read Mosiah Chapter 1. King Benjamin is talking to his sons about the Plates of Brass so essentially the "scriptures" hes says:

"My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God."

I had never considered not reading the scriptures as "suffering in ignorance". But as I contemplated all the glorious truths of the gospel and the great things that we have learned from the scriptures, not even to mention the guidance of revelation or "mysteries of God" in my personal life then yes the word suffering would fit that state of absence without these things very much.

I can't imagine life without what the gospel brings me and not only the gospel but the additional "mysteries of God" or these little slices of personal revelation that I get when I feel connected and doing what I know is right and reading the scriptures.

So yes even in a stinky gym, with pop fitness music playing and television broadcasting while reading scriptures we can feel the spirit!

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