Tuesday, June 14, 2011


After a great deal of thought, I've decided to bid farewell to this blog. I've thought long and hard about a lot of things lately, and I've come to the conclusion that at this point in my life I need to take some things in a different direction. I sincerely appreciate all of your kind words since the beginning. Becoming has served as a great place to both maintain and form new friendships. I will continue to maintain our family blog, but for now I am saying goodbye to my personal blog. Thank you for your support.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sabbath Sunset

A few years ago my husband and I had the privilege of wandering through the Jewish quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was just before sunset on a Friday evening. We were surrounded by families hustling and bustling, dressed in their Sabbath finest, finishing their last minute preparations for the Sabbath. The dress of the Hassidic Jews were particularly stunning. Their eyes were constantly turning towards the sky, checking the progression of the sunset. As we watched their busied preparations for the Sabbath and the rejoicing they enjoyed as they gathered with family, I was deeply impressed that there was much I could learn from these wonderful people about honoring the Sabbath. Every step was taken to insure that the Sabbath was honored to the highest degree - from manner of dress to the many preparations for the day of rest.

I've been thinking a great deal about this experience this week in conjunction with Elder Perry's General Conference talk - "The Sabbath and the Sacrament". One of my favorite quotes from his talk stated;

“Trifle not with sacred things,” the Lord revealed to the Latter-day Saints, as if to remind us of what He told His disciples: “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”

Brothers and sisters, in the latter days the adversary succeeds when we relax our commitment to the Savior, ignore His teachings in the New Testament and other scripture, and cease to follow Him. Parents, now is the time to teach our children to be examples of the believers by attending sacrament meeting. When Sunday morning arrives, help them to be well rested, properly dressed, and spiritually prepared to partake of the emblems of the sacrament and receive the enlightening, edifying, ennobling power of the Holy Ghost. Let your family be filled with love as you honor the Sabbath all day long and experience its spiritual blessings throughout the week. Invite your sons and daughters to “arise and shine forth” by keeping the Sabbath day holy, that “[their] light may be a standard for the nations."

On Sunday mornings we are usually well rested and properly dressed, but as a family are we spiritually prepared to partake of the Sacrament?

The week prior to each Easter our family spends significant time spiritually preparing for Easter Sunday through our focused scripture study, family activities etc. Easter Sunday, as a result, is always one of our most spiritually rewarding Sundays of the year.

Each week we have an opportunity to commemorate the Atonement and Resurrection as we honor the Sabbath and partake of the Sacrament. Is the Sabbath as sacred to me and my family as it should be?

Upon observation in the Old City, the Sabbath was clearly a sacred event that happens each and every week. I'm starting to better understand that the Sabbath can and ought be the same in our home - a sacred Easter of sorts, full of rejoicing and worship.

Elder Perry stated;

On this day before the Sabbath, as we begin this great conference, let us remember the blessings and opportunities that are ours as we attend sacrament meeting each week in our wards and branches. Let us prepare and conduct ourselves on the Sabbath in a manner that will call down the blessings promised us upon ourselves and our families. I bear my special witness that the greatest joy we receive in this life is in following the Savior. May we keep His commandments by keeping His sacred day holy...

Now for implementation! Any thoughts on how your spiritually prepare your family for the Sabbath would be very much appreciated!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fear and Faith

"Faith and fear cannot coexist. One gives way to the other."
Elder Kevin W. Pearson

I have been thinking about the relationship - or lack thereof - between faith and fear as of late. Growing up I always had the somewhat normal fears of things like kidnappers, tornadoes, big dogs, deep water, etc. But eventually most of these childhood fears faded (except deep water, I HATE deep water). That all changed in August, 2002. My sister was killed in a car accident the day before my son's first birthday, and from that experience I came to better understand fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of losing everything I loved in an instant, fear of not having control over a situation. I came to understand that these fears were actually part of the grieving process and very normal (it's always nice to know you're not going crazy), and I found tremendous comfort and peace through the gospel. And while your life is forever altered by the loss of a family member, over time the fear aspect begins to fade.

But every once and a while it leaps back to the surface and rears its ugly head.

I have battled with fear throughout this pregnancy, the fear of losing these little ones that we have fought so hard for. I have come to understand that replacing fear with faith is a choice. Some days are better then others. Some days we go on our merry way, and other days I find myself repeating throughout the day - "Choose faith, choose faith".

But what does it mean to choose faith?

I used to think that somehow I could arm wrestle the Lord into my way by exercising enough faith in what I wanted to have happen, exercising my faith in my personal will. Six years of infertility taught me differently.

For me, choosing faith means choosing to trust the Savior. It means choosing to trust that whatever may come, He will guide us through it. It means choosing to trust that, no matter the outcome, His plan is so much better then ours. It means choosing to trust the personal promises He has made.

It is when I make that choice that the peace comes.

I have learned, and am continuing to learn, that I don't need to fear the unknown - for nothing is unknown to the Savior. I don't need to fear not being in control of a situation, because He is.

Like I said, some days are better then others. And I am greatly looking forward to the fading of this particular mental battle. :)

But as for today, I am choosing faith.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"As mothers in Israel, we are the Lord's secret weapon. Our influence comes from a divine endowment that has been in place from the beginning. In the premortal world, when our Father described our role, I wonder if we didn't stand in wide-eyed wonder that He would bless us with a sacred trust so central to His plan and that He would endow us with gifts so vital to the loving and leading of His children. I wonder if we shouted for joy at least in part because of the ennobling stature He gave us in His kingdom. The world won't tell you that, but the Spirit will."

Sister Sheri Dew, Ensign, Nov 2001

Friday, May 6, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

We've been experiencing some elementary school drama around our house as of late. Drama and I don't get along under the best of circumstances, but that's another post for another day.

As my kiddos have been dealing with friend and bullying issues, I was thinking a lot about how important it is to make sure our home is a safe haven, a place of rest. The other night as we were sitting together as a family I mentioned how glad I was that at least at home we can each feel loved and safe. To which my son replied -

"Except when you're mad at us for not putting our clothes away."


Parenting is humbling, isn't it?

I didn't quite know what to say. Here I was, trying to create a peaceful, safe environment, and I have inadvertently been chipping away at it by my, um..., lack of patience (a nice way to say it).

I've thought a lot about this comment. In my mind my frustration with my kiddos lack of follow through is completely and totally separate, and in no way effects my love for them. But maybe I haven't communicated that as clearly to them as I need to.

Do they still need to do their chores? Yes.
Do they still need to be accountable for their actions? Yes.
Do they still need boundaries and consequences? Oh my, yes.

But I need to do a better job of taking my emotions (frustration, impatience etc.) out of it.

I don't want you to get the wrong idea here, we, as parents, don't flip out by any stretch of the imagination. We are pretty calm, quiet people. The whole experience was simply a reminder that when things get rough for my kiddos, I need to shower them with extra love and keep my impatience at a minimum.

It reminded my of one of my favorite quote by Sister Julie B. Beck -

“We owe everything to the Lord. We are so blessed to be involved in a faith based work, a work in which we can create families, support families, defend families, teach families, and prepare them for the blessings of eternal life—and love them, love them, love them.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Another great Mother's Day Giveaway at We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ.
Hop on over and check it out!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gator Hunting

On Saturday we set off on a family adventure to hunt some gators.
And by hunt, I mean try and see how many we could find.

We drove to a state park near our home to observe the gators.

These alligators were in their natural habitat, often just a step or two off of the hiking path we were traveling.

We saw around twenty good size gators on our little one mile hike.

There weren't any fences between us and the gators, just two or three feet of grass.

It was terrifying and fascinating all at the same time.

I think we're going to follow up our Saturday outing with this video for Family Home Evening tonight. I think the kiddos might understand it just a little bit better after our adventure!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Living a Big Story, another of my favorite blogs, is having a great Mother's Day giveaway!
Be sure to click on over and check it out!

Friday, April 29, 2011

I am so excited!
Today I have the fun of being spotlighted on one of my favorite blogs - Diapers and Divinity.

For those of you that may have hopped over from Diapers and Divinity - welcome!
Feel free to look around and comment if you like, thank you so much for stopping by!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Waiting for the Lights

I loved this post by Laura at Living a Big Story. It reminded me of an experience I had a few years ago that I thought I would post here today.

In September 2008, Hurricane Ike roared in from the Gulf of Mexico. After careful consideration, our family decided to shelter in place. Our home was far enough away from the Gulf that we weren't worried about massive flooding from storm surges, we knew that damage in our neighborhood would come from the wind and rains. We had experienced Hurricane Rita a few years before and expected it would be more of the same.

Ike proved to be much more ferocious then Rita. We spent the days prior to Ike preparing our home for the onslaught and making sure all of our necessary provisions were in place. We then chose the safest room in our home, moved mattresses, blankets, food, water etc. in and then hunkered down to see what was to be. Our power went out shortly after we had all moved into the room. Mercifully, our children fell asleep before the fury of Ike arrived. My husband and I alternated between trying to sleep (impossible) and huddling around our radio trying to hear what was happening. Ike made landfall in the middle of the night and in the wee hours of the morning the eye of the hurricane passed directly over our home. The winds blew with such ferocity that all other sounds became almost indistinguishable. Through the wind we could hear faint popping sounds that we assumed were either twigs breaking or transistors blowing. Only when dawn came did we realize that those popping sounds were huge trees falling onto our street and into our neighbors homes. It was a very surreal, eerie experience that I hope to never have again. When the worst had passed the next morning, we decided to see if we could make it to my husband's parents house, to make sure that all was well there (Phones, cell and landlines, were out). Miraculously we were able to drive through the devastation and flooding and arrive safely at their home. While a huge tree had fallen in their backyard (it should have fallen directly into the room where my father-in-law was, but it scraped the entire side of the house instead), they had survived Ike with minimal damage. Almost immediately work crews from the Church started going out with their chainsaws to start the long process of clearing and cleaning up. Our family ended up staying at my in-laws instead of returning home, as they had a generator and could run the essentials (like a fan!) while the power was out.

When Rita hit our home, our power was restored in just a day or two. We initially expected the same to be true with Ike. Only when we saw what had really occurred did we realize that it might be awhile. Power company trucks from all over the United States began pouring into Houston to help restore power, we were certain ours would be on soon.

We waited, and waited, and waited. And then we waited some more. After a week or so power began to flicker on all over the city - but our home remained dark. After eight days power was restored to my in-laws home, but our home was still dark. It was a frustrating, difficult time as all we wanted to do was go home. We just wanted to go home. I had never before or since felt that incredible, overwhelming emotion of just wanting to go home. But we couldn't. September in Houston without air conditioning can lead to serious health problems, and since our son is prone to dehydration, we couldn't take that chance.

We waited, and waited, and waited. We always knew the lights would come on, we just didn't know when. We knew that the power company wouldn't leave us without power, that thought never crossed our mind, we just knew we had to be patient. Finally, after 15 1/2 days, our power was restored. We cried, loaded up our car and sped home.

I've thought a lot about this over the years. We always knew the lights would come back on. We had perfect trust in the power company that they would do their job and fulfill their promise to turn the light back on in our home, we just knew it is a matter of time.

I wonder if, at times, I have trusted the power company more then I trust the Lord.

Sometimes, when we are waiting, and waiting, and waiting, with the overwhelming desire to have the righteous intents of our hearts fulfilled, it can be easy to feel like the Lord has forgotten us. That He won't fulfill his promises, that He is answering everyone elses prayers, but is overlooking ours, that we have been left on our own to make sense of the destruction around us.

But the Lord ALWAYS turns the lights on.

Sometimes it's not according to our time table. Sometimes it takes months, years, a lifetime, and sometimes the lights don't come on in this life.

But the Lord ALWAYS turns the lights on.

One lesson this experience taught me is that I can trust the Lord perfectly. He is anxiously waiting to turn the lights on and will do so the very second that is best for us. He will not delay one moment longer then necessary because of His infinite love and care for us.

So no matter how long we may have to wait, we can be assured that He, who loves us more then we can comprehend, will ALWAYS turn the lights on.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Thoughts

“And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;

Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

The multitudes were rejoicing, weeping, and worshiping who was soon to be their Savior from sin and death. I cannot even begin to imagine the overwhelming joy, emotion and powerful witness that must have been present at that event. It is a moment I wish I could have been present at.

And yet, in just a few days time, the multitudes forgot, turned away and some even brutally turned against He who was theirs and is our Advocate with the Father.

Perhaps before we become too critical of those who forgot Him in those moments we should take a moment to reflect on the words of President Howard W. Hunter.

“On Palm Sunday, and next week on Easter Sunday, our minds turn very naturally to wonderful thoughts of Jesus…that is admirable, but we wonder if thoughts of Jesus, which “with sweetness fill our breast”, ought not to be far more frequent and much more constant in all times and seasons of our lives. How often do we think of the Savior? How deeply and how gratefully and how adoringly do we reflect on his life? How central to our lives do we know him to be?

For example, how much of a normal day, a working week, or a fleeting month is devoted to “Jesus, the very thought of thee”? Perhaps for some of us, not enough.

Surely life would be more peaceful, surely marriages and families would be stronger, certainly neighborhoods and nations would be safer and kinder and more constructive if more of the gospel of Jesus Christ “with sweetness” could fill our breasts.

Unless we pay more attention to the thoughts of our hearts, I wonder what hope we have to claim that greater joy, that sweeter prize: someday his loving face to see and in his presence rest.”

The path of the triumphal entry would lead to an upper room where sacred ordinances were instituted. The path would eventually lead to a quiet gathering of olive trees where on a dark, solemn night He who was the greatest of all, became the servant of all as He took upon Himself our sins, sorrows, pains and heartaches. My husband and I had the sacred experience of traveling to Israel three years ago. As I stood in the Garden of Gethsemane I was struck by the fact that as our brother, Jesus Christ, was kneeling in that quiet garden the temple would have been very plainly in front of Him, lighting up the night. Perhaps the temple brought Him comfort in those terrible moments, just as the temple brings us comfort in our darkest of moments.

From the Garden Christ would have seen a band of Roman soldiers led by Judas – a band being 600 soldiers – with their torches climbing down the steps of the wall of Jerusalem, following the path that led through the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. How cowardly Judas was, to bring a band of soldiers to take our Savior to Caiphus.

He was judged of Caiphus and Pilate, He who had only brought light and life was condemned to death. He was mocked, tortured and nailed to a cross while his confused and crushed followers helplessly looked on.

As Elder Worthlin stated –

“On that Friday the Apostles were devastated. Jesus, their Savior – the man who had walked on water and raised the dead – was Himself at the mercy of wicked men. They watched helplessly as He was overcome by His enemies.

On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled.

It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorry that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.

I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.”

Sometimes, I think, it is easy for us to lose sight of what that Friday meant to His followers. We know the end result – the glorious resurrection.

They did not.

They had lost their teacher, their Master, He who was to lead and liberate them from spiritual darkness and captivity. He who had calmed the seas and calmed their hearts had was now hanging from a cross. I cannot imagine what fear must have gripped their hearts, what terror, what confusion. How could this be part of the plan? This was not how things were supposed to work out. How could they pick up the pieces of their scattered lives, dreams, hopes and move on? Was this not the Messiah? Truly, that Friday was the darkest this world has ever seen. But as Elder Worthlin states-

“The doom of that day did not endure.

The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.

And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, stood before them as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence.”

The darkness that seemed everlasting and crushing was dispelled by the light of the Resurrection. He dried their tears and their lives were once again whole and filled with joy.

Elder Worthlin –

“Each of us will have our own Fridays – those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world like littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.”

Our Fridays will come, perhaps there are some even today who are feeling crushed by the darkness of shattered dreams and hopes, not knowing how to cope – let alone move forward. Maybe we found ourselves saying – as perhaps the witnesses of the Crucifixion did – This was not supposed to be how things worked out. How can I possibly endure? But one of the great witnesses of the Resurrection is that, as Elder Worthlin states,

“I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death – Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.

No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.

May we always know that no matter how dark our Friday, Sunday will come.”

We can trust that the Lord is at the helm. He always has been, and He always will be – Sunday will come.

Elder Worthlin stated – “The Resurrection transformed the lives of those who witnessed it. Should it not transform ours?”

Friday, April 15, 2011

Filling Empty Lamps

Has your family ever been in crisis mode?
You know, that time where y'all hunker down, slow down and take each day one day at a time.

We've been in that mode since last October. My husband's work schedule, he's in his first year of residency, drastically changed and I, for all intents and purposes, became a single parent. As his schedule improved in December we began our In Vitro Fertilization attempt. As this progressed I experienced fairly painful, albeit rare, side effects - which pretty much put me out of commission. In January I found myself a single parent again, as my husband's schedule shifted once again. At this point my sister flew out to stay with us for two weeks, which helped tremendously. Much to our overwhelming joy, our IVF treatment was successful and in February we found out we had twins on the way. Just as the painful side effects of the IVF were starting to wear off, I was blindsided with morning sickness unlike any I had experienced before. For the next three months, despite medication, I found it difficult to get anything, other then getting my kids out the door to school and throwing dinner in the oven, done. And I honestly wouldn't have had it any other way - to have more children is worth any sacrifice. Just in the last few days I have started to feel a little better, other then the fact that I vomited 5 or 6 times this morning :), and the haze that has been over my brain has started to lift. I'm not laying out our life for sympathy purposes - we are happier then we have been in 6 years - we have babies on the way! I just know that we all have been there, in one form or another, we have all had our weeks, months, sometimes years of crisis mode.

As my mind has been functional enough to reflect on the well being of my family over the last few days, I have realized that our lamps are running on low. While we never stopped our family home evening, family prayers, scripture study etc. over the last few months, our focus has been on surviving - not on thriving. And it's time to get those lamps filled to the brim again! For us, this has meant that my husband and I have needed to take close, introspective looks not only at our own lives, but also the lives of our children. It's meant praying and pondering with greater intensity to know how each of our lamps need to be filled. And each of us requires a different filling mechanism. For my son, it means more one on one time with each of us. It means having his daily scripture reading being a study session with Mom on the couch, it means learning how to connect with a child who is growing up in the blink of an eye. For my daughter, it means an increase of hugs and kisses. It means formulating a more specific plan to help her prepare for baptism. It means lots of snuggle time as we read books together. How grateful I am for guidance to know what my family needs at each specific time in our lives! I would be useless without it.

As I've reflected, I've also come to greater appreciate the filling effects that the basics (scripture study, family home evening, family prayer etc.) have in our lives. By doing the basics each and every day we fill our lamps so that when it becomes necessary to enter a crisis mode, our lamps are ready to light our way through the darkness. I'm so grateful for prophetic counsel, so that when our crisis mode came, our lamps were at the ready.

We have had various crisis modes throughout our family life, some shorter, some longer, some seemingly painless, some that have driven us through more sorrow then we thought possible. And I am certain that we have more on the horizon (quite possibly when our little twins make their debut!). But I am just as certain that as we follow the counsel to daily fill our lamps, they will miraculously sustain us when that crisis comes.

Image courtesy of garstang.us

Monday, April 4, 2011

was it worth it?

Almost six years ago my sister came to live with us for awhile. Every summer afternoon would find us on the couch in serious conversation while my kiddos slept. She was trying to figure out whether living the standards of the gospel were really going to make a difference in her life. She was at a crossroads, trying to know for herself if the Church was true and if that was the path she really wanted to take. I distinctly remember pleading with her to just trust me, that everything would be worth it in the end.

That summer was one of our happiest as she became a part of our little family. She became the big sister to my children and I claimed her as one of my own. We have remained especially close over the years.

Last week I had the tremendous privilege to be with her as she prepared to marry her sweetheart in the Mesa Temple. I was surprised with how close to the surface my feelings were that week, especially as she went through the temple for the first time. Tears were present as I put my arms around her at the end and whispered to her - "Was it worth it?" With a huge smile on her face and tears in her eyes, she nodded.

The week was as chaotic as any wedding week, but the sweetness of those few moments far outweighed the stress.

I left Arizona with a renewed determination to do all I can to point my own little ones to the temple. I cannot even begin to imagine what those precious days will be like.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Two Little Munchkins

Two little munchkins have assured that their mama has been very, very tired as of late.

Nope - not these two little munchkins -
though they have certainly done their part....

These two little munchkins.

After 6 very long years we are beyond pleased to announce that we are expecting twins.

Until today they were known as Baby A and Baby B.

Corey and I were surprised to learn today that....

Baby B is a GIRL and

Baby A is a BOY!

We would like to thank you for your thoughts and prayers on our behalf over the years.
Our family is overflowing with joy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Princess Academy

For several months I thought over how I could better instill in my daughter and help her more fully understand her role as a daughter of God. She was six, turning seven at the time, but I felt like the world was already attempting to divert her from her divinity. After much prayer, the Princess Academy was born.

Each Sunday afternoon Madison and I sit down together with her little Princess Academy notebook (the above image is on the cover). Her notebook is divided into eight sections - Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue. Sound familiar? :) Each week we start off by singing a song and saying together - 'I am a daughter of Heavenly Father who loves me and I love Him.' Each week we focus on a different value and the coordinating princess from the scriptures. When we discussed Faith we learned about the life of Sarah, when we discussed Knowledge we learned about the life of Mary. We talk about ways that we can be like these true princesses and then Madison adds a picture of the princess to her notebook.

It a short and simple thing we try to do most Sunday afternoons. I hope that, over time, these values will distill in her heart and her role models will be the remarkable women of the scriptures.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

why we do what we do

My current calling is Primary Chorister.

Primary Chorister = Bliss

On Sunday a member of our Bishopric, when announcing the rest hymn, said, "I've heard that the Primary children have been working on this song. I am excited to hear their voices." The intro started and a little one behind me exclaimed, "I know this song!" During the course of the hymn I couldn't help but smile as the little voices joined the congregation in singing with all of their might -

Hold to the Rod
The Iron Rod
'Tis strong and bright and true
The Iron Rod is the word of God
Twill safely guide us through

I came across this post, written by a fellow Primary Chorister. It describes almost perfectly how I feel about not only Primary, but my role as a parent as well. Sometimes I think it's so important to step back from the madness that is life and remember why we do what we do.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I am a checklist kind of girl. Something obsessive in my personality I suppose. I love writing down 'to do' lists and derive even greater satisfaction when I cross each item off the list. I think that's why some things in the Gospel have been relatively easy for me to accomplish. Anything that could be put on a checklist would get done. Daily Scripture Study - check. Visiting Teaching - check. A Year's Supply - check. Family History - check.

However, I realized some time ago, that while I was continually ticking through my checklists, I was missing the bigger picture. I wasn't becoming. I was superficially making my way through life without taking the time to become. Become more like the Savior. I wasn't taking the time, while running down my checklist, to really ponder and then apply what it meant to follow and emulate Him.

The above picture is one of the most poignant pictures I have. Growing up, my mother had a few cassette tapes that she would listen to. One particular tape had a women's choir singing " I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked". For some reason, that song always stayed with me.

Many, many years later, as a mother with children of my own, I had the privilege of visiting the Holy Land. My husband and I often discuss how life altering that experience was for us. At one point during the trip we were retracing the final days of our Savior. Our guide showed us some recently excavated stairs that led to Caiphas' palace where Christ was judged. While some sites in the Holy Land are 'best guesses' as to where different events happened, this was a certainty. The final hours of the Savior's life were weighing heavily on my mind as I slowly began climbing the stairs. As I began, the words to the song from my childhood came into my mind.

I walked today where Jesus walked,
In days of long ago.
I wandered down each path He knew,
With reverent step and slow.
Those little lanes, they have not changed,
A sweet peace fills the air.
I walked today where Jesus walked,
And felt Him close to me.

My pathway led through Bethlehem,
A memory's ever sweet.
The little hills of Galilee,
That knew His childish feet.
The Mount of Olives, hallowed scenes,
That Jesus knew before
I saw the mighty Jordan row,
As in the days of yore.

I knelt today where Jesus knelt,
Where all alone he prayed.
The Garden of Gethsemane,
My heart felt unafraid.
I picked my heavy burden up,
And with Him at my side,
Where on the Cross He Died.

I walked today where Jesus walked,
And felt Him close to me.

And then the Spirit whispered something to me that I will never forget. Every single day, as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a builder of the kingdom, I have the opportunity to walk where Jesus walked. I have the privilege of doing what He would do if He were standing there at that moment. I have the blessing of ministering on His behalf to His children. I have the privilege of being an emissary for Him, of walking where He walks.

But in order to walk where He walks, I must become as He is.

And for me, that takes more then a checklist.

I still love checklists - I make them almost every single day. In so many ways they help me accomplish the things that will help me to better know and become like the Savior. But they aren't the end all be all.

Some days I fail miserably to make any progress. Lots of days I fall about 15 steps back instead of taking a step forward. But I am grateful to understand the journey to become isn't something to be checked off a list, but is an eternal pursuit of learning to walk where He walks.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Redefining Princess

From the moment our tiny daughter was born, she was our princess. Now, after almost eight years, she is still our little princess.

I've been thinking a great deal about the word princess as of late.

What is a princess?

The world would have us believe, and is working around the clock at this endeavor, that a princess must be impossibly beautiful, terribly rich, flippantly rebellious, full of sarcastic sass, infinitely lazy and humorously tyrannical. **To be clear, I am not making reference to Disney Princesses, just to the word Princess as a whole.** All one has to do is flip on the television and evidences abound of crass, self-centered girls (and women for that matter) who demand to be treated like princesses who are unable to cope, let alone thrive, with the demands of daily living.

However, as with just about everything else, we are not buying the world's definition of princess around here. I read a book several years ago that discussed the need for fewer princesses and more pioneers. That idea has stuck in my mind. Am I raising a princess or a pioneer?

My answer is, hopefully, both.

I believe that princesses and pioneers are, essentially, one and the same. To me, the word princess denotes grace, inner beauty and a clear understanding of lineage and royalty. A pioneer woman encompasses faith, hope, unwavering dedication, never ending industry, and a profound understanding that she is laying the foundation for future generations. A princess is a pioneer and a pioneer is a princess.

I have found that raising a daughter today takes conscious, planned, and precise mothering. To raise a daughter as a princess pioneer is, at times, daunting and even overwhelming. And there are days when I fail absolutely miserably. I am so grateful that I am not alone in this endeavor. It never ceases to amaze me that the Spirit speaks most distinctly and directly to me when I am asking about my children.

So, despite the negative connotations many have in regards to the word princess, our daughter is still our princess. And hopefully she always will be.

With this concept in mind, I created something called Princess Academy, that my daughter and I do together on Sunday afternoons. I will post about this at another time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy New Year - in February...

Happy New Year!

Yes, yes - I know it's February 1st. But for me today is the start of my new year.

I just love New Year's. I love quietly wrapping up Christmas and taking the last week of December to evaluate and reevaluate my direction and the direction of my family. I spend most of the week making long lists, which by December 31st I have fashioned into a compact list of goals for the New Year. It's such a time of renewal - have I mentioned that I just love it?

This year I missed out.

The majority of December and all of January was spent prepping for and undergoing our IVF treatment. I was so exhausted physically and mentally that I found myself living day to day. It was almost as if our family had entered crisis mode and wasn't able to plan for or process more then one day at a time. While at first I struggled with my inability to have any forethought, I quickly came to the realization that it was okay. There is a season for everything, and for those two months our family needed to focus on each individual day as it came. (Elder Christopherson came a marvelous talk on the concept, you can find it here.)

But thankfully, we have begun to pull out of crisis mode. The haze has begun to lift and the sunshine is pouring in again. And to celebrate - I have declared February 1st our family's New Year's Day!

So here's to a fresh start, a year of rejoicing and striving to come closer to the Savior.

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Oh, and make sure you get your all important New Year's Kiss today...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Interplay of Faith and Hope

This is my life right now.

Every evening is filled with multiple injections and medications while almost every morning is filled with doctor appointments, ultrasounds and blood work.

We are in the middle of attempting In Vitro Fertilization. It is our last chance at being able to have any additional children that are biologically our own. We are experiencing the end, one way or another, of six years of trying to navigate our infertility issues. Six years of failed attempts and intense heartache. But I can sit here today and honestly say, regardless of the outcome of our IVF, I wouldn't trade those six years. They have helped me gain a greater depth of understanding then I would have otherwise.

We haven't broadcast to the world that we are attempting IVF. Only our family and closest friends know. What has been remarkable to me has been the almost universal response we have received when we have let people know that we are in the middle of the IVF process. Eight times out of ten the response is -

"I am so excited for you! Aren't you so excited to be doing IVF? That's just so exciting!"

My answer, though I often do not express it, is a resounding no.

Please understand, we are profoundly grateful for the privilege of attempting IVF. Especially under the miraculous circumstances that our opportunity came about. In every prayer that we utter, both silent and spoken, we express our gratitude. Our gratitude cannot adequately be expressed. But gratitude does not always equal excitement. It's something that runs much deeper.

I've have thought, over the years, about the distinction between faith and hope. President Uchtorf gave a marvelous Conference Address on this subject awhile back, but it has only been in the last few months that I have come to a better personal understanding.

I have hope that our IVF will be successful. I have hope that all of this turmoil will result in the cradling of a sweet one in my arms. I have hope that this will not all be for naught.

But I know that whatever the outcome, it is the will of the Lord, and that we will be okay. That is my faith. I have come to more deeply understand that true faith centers in Jesus Christ and in trusting His will. My blossoming of faith has come as I have learned how to trust and accept His will, no matter what it is, perhaps especially when it isn't what I have so desperately prayed for.

I haven't always been able to so readily accept His will. It has taken years of sorrow and grieving and humbling to reach where I am now. And where I am now is still so very, very far away from where I need to be on my journey of faith.

Faith and Hope have existed in my heart over the last few weeks, dancing quietly and peacefully with one another. At times buoying courage and strengthening endurance, at times waiting quietly in the shadows, ready to appear when needed. But Faith and Hope have always been there - grounding me with knowledge that all is well, and all will be well, no matter what.

And as I've understood and recognized the presence of Faith and Hope, I have realized and humbly recognized the hand of the Savior holding mine, personally walking me through this experience.

Excitement isn't the word.

Profound, quiet, humbling gratitude.

Reverence for the sacred experiences that these last intensely painful six years have enabled.

Courage to move forward, to trust God and go on.