Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Mixed Faith Family Home Evening Lesson

When church members open their Come Follow Me family lesson manuals each week, all families are taught to follow the guidance of the Spirit and cater to their individual family situations. While most family lessons on average probably deliver the same spiritual lesson, there is DEFINITELY a unique, challenging twist to the lessons in an interfaith family like ours. I don't think there are quite as many people with the bumper sticker badge of Mom belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Dad, who's not a fan of labels, but if he had to be categorized, would probably go with Athiest/Religious Resister.

I REALLY wanted to share this post to help others see that you CAN respectfully merge two different worlds together and bring your family closer to each other and to their own spirituality.

Today we talked about our heart compasses

I first gathered a few of the kid's stuffed animals and we discussed times in nature where animals have to trust their instincts. We mentioned how salmon always know to swim upstream, how birds and whales and butterflies migrate in the seasons, and how baby sea turtles hatch from their eggs and go straight to the ocean without anyone there to guide them. 

We then talked about how our "spiritual instincts" work the same way and how inside of each of us, we are magnetically drawn to those BIG questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? What happens after I die?

I love the episode of BLUEY where Bluey asks her dad where she came from before she was born. He very vulnerably and honestly answers her, "I don't know, Kid. That's something you get to figure out for yourself."

And ultimately, aren't we all agents unto ourselves? No one can live our lives for us and every person's spiritual journey will be personal and different.

We then talked about how we all have access in our lives to different places that can bring us closer to light and truth. And how it is up to US to listen to our hearts and learn for ourselves what is true and what is important.

Download the lesson visual printable HERE.

We have times when we can feel a warmth in our hearts and trust it

We have the people around us (who are all listening to their own personal heart compasses) that we can choose to learn from: our parents, our relatives, our friends, our teachers, our leaders, prophets, heroes, strangers

We have things we can read: books, articles, journals, scriptures, magazines, words of others who have already passed on

We have churches and religion, or for my hubby, a good, long hike in nature to remind him how rare and beautiful this life is and his place in it

And my personal favorite... we can look to the stars. Nothing rattles my heart-compass and magnetically draws me closer to my spiritual instincts than gazing up at the night sky and feeling love showered back down from something bigger than me. It's a love that I personally feel comes from my loving Heavenly Parents, and I'm pretty sure most people, at some point in their lives, have felt some acknowledgement from the universe and their importance in it.

One thing I have grown to love about the uniqueness of our family is how my children have the opportunity to grow up "spiritually bilingual". I'm so grateful for the empathy they'll be able to have for others as they see everyone learn and grow spiritually in different ways.

Please, please know that you don't have to fit the cookie-cutter mould. I have always loved Christ's parable of the servants and the talents. We are all given a different number of talents and we take what we have and make the best of it. If your family home evening lessons look way different from others around you, you can rock your version and your circumstances. You are beautiful exactly how you are. ❤️

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

 Did I dye my two-year-old's hair red and dress her up like a Nephite for my book trailer? Absolutely I did. Regrets? Zero. Shampoo took the red out in 2.5 seconds.

Huge, HUGE thank you to my mom for writing the music for this.

And thank you to my crazy awesome SIL, Lydia, who has the BEST Hollywood horror scream ever.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

While My Brother Sleeps


When her city is captured by her sworn enemies, the last thing Keziah expected was to battle feelings of forbidden love for the military captain of the Lamanite army. 

Along with the pain the Lamanites had caused her people for generations, Keziah had a mark of hatred burned inside her heart for intimate reason. 

They were the Blood Hunters.

Follow along as she learns lessons from her ancestors of courage, love, forgiveness, and fighting for what she truly believes in.

I am CRAZY EXCITED to finally share with everyone my new book, WHILE MY BROTHER SLEEPS.
I love you all and I am so, so grateful for all of your support.

Click HERE to order my book from Amazon!!
Or HERE for the eBook!

Romeo and Juliet melts into the Book of Mormon, turning classic scripture stories into something that breathes with a warm, beating heart.


Saturday, May 2, 2020

Mother of Man

We have stretched ourselves through April and have finally made it to the month of May, friends. And with Mother’s Day on the horizon, I find my mind wandering through more of the universe’s great mysteries and once again pouring my thoughts onto paper… er… typing on digital paper I guess.

Below are the lyrics to the children’s hymn our ward primary sang last year for Mother’s Day:

Words: Phyllis Luch, Music: Jeanne P. Lawler

My mother taught me to love the Earth. She taught me to climb a mountain and yell into the sky once I reach the top. She taught me how to be still as my eyes soak up the scenery of an open valley. She taught me to walk beside a river and listen as it whispers wisdom to overcome my life’s challenges.

As I’ve grown older and allowed layers and layers of life to wrap around me like a flavored onion, the wild “earth child” inside has shrank deeper underneath those layers. The young tomboy who once spent her day climbing trees and wrapping herself in the tossing ocean waves now spends her day consumed in house projects and wrapped in sweatshirts because it’s simply too cold to go outside… I once buried my little body under the dirty beach sand and reached out on floating logs to catch water snakes, now I bury myself in excuses for why I don't have time to go hiking and reach out instead for my phone to check my texts.

I'm getting better though.  The seed of love my mother planted inside of my soul towards Mother Nature has begun sprouting again. And I’m noticing that as I now consciously strive to give the Earth my undivided attention, she has reached out and pulled me back into her welcoming arms. 

For this post I wanted to focus on HER and here is what I’ve discovered as I’ve sought out who Mother Nature really is.

The word NATURE is “to give birth”. How appropriate to give such a name to that which creates, is mothering, and nurturing!

When I inhale the pure air of the forest, my heart inhales pure healing, and my spirit inhales pure heaven.  I’m drawn closer to God inside of her quiet peace.

The hymn says it best as the lyrics to ALL CREATURES OF OUR GOD AND KING encourage:

Dear Mother Earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way, 
Alleluia! Alleluia!
The Flow'rs and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them his glory also show,
Alleluia!  Alleluia!

As I ponder of Mother Nature and her connection to the Savior, my grasp of His atonement expands into a new dimension. I think back to the New Testament where Christ goes sorrowfully into the Garden of Gethsemane.

As his closest friends lay fast asleep and left him alone to suffer for the sins of the world, there was one who did not abandon Him. Mother Earth was there and supported Him during His pain. Through the blades of grass beneath Him and the fists of dirt He may have clung to, He was not alone.  

I have always wondered what it would be like to meet someone like John the Beloved and picture myself overwhelming him with questions about what it was like to walk with Christ. I’d ask about His personality, His mannerisms, if He did indeed smile all of the time the way I have always imagined...

Yet the thought recently sank in deeply and hit me that SHE knows Him. She lifted Him across the water with every step that He took and obeyed as He hushed her stormy breath. She listened to every sermon, watched every miracle, and knew what no one else knew as he knelt and cried in agony, “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”

From the moment of her birth when the Earth opened her eyes, it was His face, her creator, that she saw first. A loving bond that I believe we mortals are incapable of fully understanding in this life.  

If we take a step outside of our front door, we are surrounded by the one who witnessed it all. And I believe if we reach out and ask, she will draw us closer to Him.

The earth considers us her children. The Mother of Man. Enveloped in that same heavenly love, she is the womb we develop in before our birth into immortality.

I’ve always believed that if I make it to heaven I would race directly over to the Holy Ghost and give him the biggest embrace (Is He huggable in heaven??? IDK) and thank Him for always being there and getting me through this crazy, wonderful, confusing life. I am now realizing that she has always been there with me too… watching silently with the greatest of wisdom, just waiting to be given permission to teach.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

You Are Never Alone Alone

Wow!  What a week, yeah?  

This virus has made me feel like I'm living through one of those end of the world apocalypse films . . .  Which has totally been on my mind lately.  I feel like I've been having lots of subconsciously complicated zombie dreams throughout the month.  And I have no idea what it means . . .

As we all awkwardly stretch through these growing pains of adjusting to a new normal, I wanted to share a thought or two about our new church-from-home studies.

I was so cheerful as the church announced suspending member gatherings on the sabbath.  Looking through my faith lense, it is so remarkable seeing the Lord's preparation as the church implemented the Come Follow Me home study manuals through the last year and a half.  Thinking of God's love and President Nelson's inspiration, the heart of my testimony doubled in size the day of the announcement.

But then my emotions started to shift as I read reactions from members excited for their new family sabbath study plans and received an email from our bishop stating that priesthood holders may now perform the sacrament ordinance in their homes each week.  As everything became real, things really struck a nerve for me and my unique situation.

In our mixed faith marriage there are a lot of great days.  Mitch and I have never been closer and there's nothing that I love more than having deep, connecting conversations with him about life's big mysteries.  But we both have acknowledged that every now and then one of us will have a dark day where the weight of our differences piles on our shoulders.  

Just a week ago I was having one of these days and I remember telling Mitch how I was experiencing this weird loneliness at home feeling "alone" in my beliefs.  Each Sunday in my ward I was given that rejuvenation being surrounded by others who shared a common faith.  It helped me charge my batteries.  

After the church cancellation announcement was made (obviously) those feelings amplified.  The thought of that "alone" feeling ignited my emotions again and I realized as we remain home and my personal study each week becomes solo I would be, quite literally, alone in my religion.
But after a while a single thought brought me peace and rested my worries.  I thought of Moroni.  

In high school I still remember well the year we studied the Book of Mormon in seminary.  When we reached the lesson where we learn of Moroni being hunted by the Lamanites who spent years wandering through the wilderness alone, my wonderful teacher, Sister Caldwell, assigned each student to their own, individual classroom and made us quietly study our lesson in solitary to understand the isolation Moroni had to experience.  

He was someone who knew what it was like to be alone in his faith.  And that thought is giving me the strength and the spiritual energy to press on . . .  at least to make it to our next general conference. 😉 And Moroni is now the popping picture background to my phone gracefully reminding me that I am not alone. 

. . . and a constant reminder of my uncomfortable Angel Moroni zombie dream 🤦‍♀️

But I also had to remind myself that, no, I am not alone.  And I realize that there are a lot of church members out there in similar circumstances to mine which Moroni didn't have.  And I have the internet which Moroni also didn't have.  

So as part of my "personal study" on my sabbath days I am really hoping to post a spiritual topic on instagram that I would love, love, LOVE participation from each of you.  You can all be my virtual Sunday school buddies and we can lift each other up from our individual, lonely wildernesses.  


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