Sunday, September 10, 2023

Halloween Printables

 Trick or treat!

Guess who started an ETSY shop and TPT shop this month???

Check out my shops for all my printable Halloween bundle options!!

But enough of the boring.... Let's get to the good stuff. The FREE stuff. 
Here are my freebies for the holiday....

This came in really handy when we had trick-or-treaters during COVID. 
"Get your nasty little germy fingers off my doorbell."
We just set this poem outside with treat bags hanging from our giant spider web. 


I'm turning into a "corny puns" human and I have Z-E-R-O regrets.

Can't go wrong with a few classic color pages, yeah?


Friday, November 11, 2022

Grandpa Davey Crockett

In his eyes, there’s this flirtatious twinkle. Hidden behind it is a playful secret that always reels you in.

I want to collect all of the little memories that shaped who my grandpa was and seal them tightly into a glass mason jar. I’ll never forget the hero he had been to me and how incredibly lucky I am to have had his influence help shape me into what I am today.

There was the little toothpick that hung from his lip.

The smoked smell of his BBQ tri-tip on the back patio.

I can hear the clicking sounds of the slideshow projector as slivers of warm light brushed across his shadowed face.

I loved how he would say YIKES at the perfectly appropriate times.

The way he would tap your knee with his knuckle when he had something to say to you.

His signature hats.

His adoration for my grandma.

His love for wildlife and nature

And his love for making fun of himself and putting up with my weirdness.

“Okay, Grandpa. For this picture we have to do our most unflattering face possible, and you have to commit! Don’t back out on me.”

 … He didn’t back out.

I love the memory of his voice when I was a child, and he would gently rock in our wooden chair and quietly sing I was Born Under a Wand'rin Star.

Or every Christmas Eve when he would wear his Santa hat and sing/rap to T’was the Night Before Christmas for the entire family.

My husband never knew his grandparents. It was so incredible watching my grandpa immediately adopt Mitchell as his own and open his heart with the same love that I had known from him my whole life.

He love to call my son Trekker Prather whenever he’d say his name because he felt so proud to share a middle name with his great-grandson.

He would always tell all of his grandchildren that he loved us all the same… but he would look at me when he would say it. So I’m pretty sure that was code that I was the favorite.

He was a man who loved God with all his heart, might, mind and strength.

And then there was his laugh...

I don’t know if our laughs change over time as we get older, but when he laughed, I would picture it coming from the young, handsome man I had always recognized posing in the black and white photos in family albums. I would imagine being Marty McFly and, oh, how badly I would wish I could fly back in time and peek from behind a stage curtain draped in silver tinsel and watch him dancing with Grandma at the local prom. Gazing at her with a smitten look (and gosh was everyone smitten with her) and see his flirting eyes twisting my grandma’s stomach in knots.

The last time I saw him, I think we both knew secretly it was goodbye. He was in the back of the car getting ready to leave, and I reached in through the window to grab his hand. He didn’t let go. He held it tighter than usual. I told him how much, so much, I loved him. He grabbed Mitchells hand and told us to take care of each other.

I remember when Grandpa’s cancer had gotten worse and he was in the hospital. I was at the beach when I received the news. I just stared out at the ocean alone and cried and cried, and it felt so good to cry and to be at the beach, because it was one of the places he always loved.

During the last few weeks before he moved on from this life, my mom stayed by his side. He was so tired, and it was hard to catch him with enough energy to have a rich, deep conversation. I had my mom do me a favor and ask him a question for me when he had the strength to talk. 

When she found herself alone with Grandpa, she told him how I loved to be out in nature and loved to open my heart to Heaven with questions when I found myself alone. She said how I wanted to ask him… “Once you’re on the other side and you see me having a hard season of life and needing a little extra strength to carry on, what can I look for to know that you’re near and that everything will be all right?“

He was pretty tired when my mom asked him so she told him to think about it for a while and went over to the kitchen to crush his night pills. Once she fed him his medicine disguised in applesauce, he looked at her and said in his tired voice, “Tell Jesse… a Bald Eagle.”

As little kids there was something magical about Grandma and Grandpa’s home in Manteca. An atmosphere where unconditional love could be felt so thick in the air, to the point where if you rubbed your fingers together your could almost feel the actual sensation. Grandma and Grandpa’s house was the solid foundation that the rest of my childhood revolved around, it was the "spinning jack" in my world of "Inception", if you will.

Summers and Christmases we would make the arduous journey to California, siblings squished together in the back seat with suitcases before iPads and DVD players were around to keep us sane. The excitement was almost unbearable when we would finally roll into the neighborhood and turn onto Navajo Way.

I can still remember my child-body frame hopping out of the car and the stretching sensation in my legs releasing the muscle aches from the long, long drive. The home smiled at me and a strange feeling of homesickness churned with a watered-down version of déjà vu every time we got there. 

Grandma and Grandpa were always waiting by the front door, always. Their eyes and their smiles warmed me before I even reached their arms and fell into their embrace. I still hear Grandma’s laugh and can feel Grandpa’s kiss on my cheek. It was pure. The welcome that I always received made me feel whole, I felt enough, I felt home.

This week I feel like Grandpa must have gone through a parallel experience in his own way. Stretching out his legs from his long journey, I picture him walking up to his spinning jack— his treasure that always reached out to him with homesickness and déjà vu. I imagine him soaring towards arms and eyes and smiles of warmth that are embracing him and welcoming him with pure, unconditional love. Maybe where he is now, he can hear a mother’s laughter and feel a father’s kiss on his cheek.

I’m so glad I was able to go this far through life with you with me, PaPaPa.

You can finally be that Eagle.  You can be at peace. You can stretch your wings and fly. And I’ll always be searching for you.













Tuesday, August 2, 2022

It's me... again

Oh hey. It’s me… again. 

I wonder if you ever get annoyed with prayers. So many repetitive prayers. I’m totally guilty of the repetition at times, but in my defense, I’m following the advice of Amulek in the scriptures to cry out to you morning, noon, and day, and to pour out my soul in my closet, and secret places and in my wildernesses.

While we’re here, can we please talk about “the thing” again? 

When this whole “faith crisis” began for me, my prayers were all the same. I cried and cried and cried to you. Pleaded. BEGGED for you to make everything better. To “heal” me. I would ask all the time for you to bring my testimony back.

Luckily there were plenty of prescriptions and tools I had been given just for this kind of situation—I feasted on scriptures and fasted and meditated and searched for answers harder than ever before. At four in the morning I would wake up on Saturdays to make it to early Portland temple sessions. I “doubted my doubts” and inundated myself with conference talks. I studied the life of the Savior, I kept a journal of my spiritual experiences and reflected back on them again and again. And I had such a DESIRE to believe. But no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried to be “good”, my testimony continued to tremble.

But you were always there for me. You always patiently listened. You always quietly prompted and sent breadcrumbs of your love to keep me moving forward. That warmth in my heart and peace were forever present as long as I gave myself a moment of silence to find you in the ocean of noise.

But many times the confusion became so dizzying. My entire life I had been handed all of the answers to eternal mysteries on a perfect platter with a bright pink bow. And little by little, as I examined each item on the platter, I began to see flaws, knicks and scratches that weren’t noticeable before. The fingerprints of imperfect humans smudged all over the doctrine I had been told was pure and told came directly from Heaven.

And then I couldn’t UNSEE the smudges. I couldn’t wipe them away with the sleeve of my elbow. And I couldn’t ignore them because that platter was meant to be flawless! As I tried to point out the dirty spots to others, they said they couldn’t see it, or they just ignored it, or they trusted it would all make sense later, and a small few suggested that the problem wasn’t with the platter but with my eyesight.

And I believed them. I believed I was the problem for a long, long time.

I think the hardest part for me was the guilt. It was the shame that pounded into me that I was doing something wrong. The general leaders would deliver conference messages about how all of these feelings and experiences I was having was coming from an evil source, that I was spiritually lazy, or that I desired to sin. It hurt me so much. And then it hurt even more knowing so many people before me had been judged the same way. 

But you… you never made me feel broken. Every feeling or whisper I ever received from you was showered with unconditional love and patience and PRIDE… You were PROUD of me. You explained that I was growing stronger and that I wasn’t broken. You blanketed me in a customized cocoon and reminded me that this was all a part of my process. You acknowledged that the platter was distorted. You told me to be patient with the others that couldn’t quite see it the same as me. And nudged me at times to step outside of my own perspective. And YOU were the one that encouraged me to continue seeking truth.

I remember having questions. Hard questions. With really, really HARD answers once I found them. The answers didn’t match with what I had been taught in Sunday school growing up. And I felt so betrayed. And you counted those tears. You didn’t gaslight me and discourage me from feeling what I was feeling. You wrapped your arms around me and cried with me, because you understood how much it hurt. I didn’t know who or what to trust, and I felt my foundation disintegrate beneath me. And although that foundation was crumbling, I was still hanging there by your arms. I felt so much like Peter reaching for Christ out of the water. It must have been the exact same haunting, sinking feeling. Thank you for holding me during those really hard moments.

Then the anxiety became too much, remember? I had my first real panic attack watching General Conference up in my room all alone. I would curl in a ball and cry on Saturday nights dreading church the next day. I would get emotionally-activated during sacrament meeting. Something said over the pulpit, or even some of the lyrics we sang from our hymnbooks, would be enough to send me to the bathroom crying. I would tell you how church wasn’t giving my strength to get through my trials in this life, but that it had become my trial that was taking away my motivation for being alive. You told me church wasn’t supposed to do that to me. You agreed with me that I was running faster than I had strength. And I felt nothing but peace and support from you when I made the choice to “take a break” from Sunday services. You said to my heart, "I will meet you where you're at."

I had been taught parables my whole life about you and how you would leave the 99 sheep to find and shepherd the one lost sheep. I always assumed the role of one of the 99, munching in the grass just waiting patiently for you to get back with the wanderer, but ever since I’ve started feeling like the “one” lost, I am trusting you and trusting in your parables. You keep whispering to me, “I will find you. I promise that I will find you.”

I’ve learned how to be more honest with you and those moments have been my most sacred experiences yet. I wanted to talk with you, like… a BIG talk. I had no strength left and I needed a miracle. I went to a place that I had previously designed to go to know for myself if my religion was true. I went to my wilderness. My waterfall. Joseph Smith would have honestly been a little jealous of my sacred grove. 

I was all alone, sitting on a fallen tree and feeling the spray of the waterfall on my face mixed with the wetness of tears from my eyes. But I felt so alone. I couldn’t feel you there with me. Maybe I was trying to force a spiritual experience and should have known better than to do things with my timing instead of yours. 

 It still made me upset though. And by the time I got home I was angry. 

Sooooo angry. And it was the first time that I was angry at you, but I knew you could take it, so I came at you raw and honestly. 

I said how I was so mad if you were actually the God that my religion had painted you as… 

I went off about the scripture stories where you sounded so wrathful and vengeful and jealous. A god of fear… who would take beautiful, messy humans and shallowly categorize them as wicked or righteous then destroy them with floods and famines and earthquakes. 

Were you really a God who designed an eternal plan that manipulated your first-borns and set them up for failure? Then birthed us all into this twisted relationship where we are all forced to depend on you? Because those are totally red flags of an abusive relationship last time I checked.

I’m upset if you’re the God who takes spiritual privileges and withholds them from his children born with certain shades of skin color or simply because they have two X chromosomes. 

I’m mad if you are the God who cursed me and all other mothers with excruciating labor pains as we deliver our babies for a sin we never committed. 

I am livid if you are at the head of a church that creates policies that cause LGBTQ youth to literally take their own lives because it’s too complicated to be themselves AND live the gospel.

 I cannot grasp the idea that you were a God who sat back on your throne and watched polygamist women cry themselves to sleep while they listened through the thin walls to their husband making love to another woman… in the name of God? 

I’m heartbroken if you really allowed me to fall in love with Mitchell and give him my whole heart, then use your doctrine to rip him away from me in the next life because of his difficult choice to leave the church when I’ve been nothing but faithful to you. 

And I JUST CAN’T HANDLE IT, God, if I live my whole life doing everything you ask of me, just to be rewarded in eternity as a woman by being shoved into a dark room and cut off from my spirit children. Where I would have to watch them suffer through their mortal lives without them being able to talk to or pray to or even SPECULATE anything about their Heavenly Mother. That sounds like Hell to me!

 I’m sorry God, but I’m so mad at you today. And I hope you’re there listening. I want you to exist and feel my anger. Because I’d rather be on bad terms with you now and come around later than to not have you exist at all. Because right now it’s hard to hear you.

Then I remembered that moment of silence where I listened...

 That familiar warmth. That quiet whisper that I have always known. It returned. And it said to me, “Don’t worry. That’s not me. You can be mad at that God you described all you want because that’s not who I am.”

I have grown so much closer to you since that day. And I hang on to those whispered words. I have changed so much. And so have you. My understanding and interpretation of who you are is continuously evolving and I am so grateful.

Before, when I prayed, I would pray for my testimony to return and for my faith in the God I was taught to believe in to come back. But I don’t pray for that anymore. The wording is different. Now I just pray to find truth. I pray to continue to grow and to discover you. And that has been a long process of sorting through my old cultural/faith traditions to determine which parts truly represent you and which ones I no longer choose to subscribe to.

I am grieving. I think about and mourn the old, black and white version of who I was sometimes and the lack of complexity I had in my faith. But I’m taking it a day at a time and embracing the new nuanced version of who I am now. And I have felt you every step of the way.

Also I’ve started making a promise to everyone around me whenever I tell them our story. I hope you don’t mind. I tell them that if they’re concerned about me to just take it up with you. And I promise that you’ll whisper to them, “Don’t worry about that one. She’s in good hands and I’ve got her.”


My "Let's Normalize Faith Crises" PLAYLIST 

that got me through the hard days

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I have been having SO MUCH FUN experimenting lately with color pages and wanted to share the love. Download below my "dots" version to paint with Q-tips or the black and white page for a regular coloring.


Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Dark Night of the Soul

 When I pray, sometimes I BEG for heavenly poetry: divine designs that turn the details of my life into the Universe’s art canvas.

A year ago on my 33rd birthday I demanded poetry. I thought about Jesus Christ, predicted to have lived to be about 33 years old. I wanted that year of MY life to be spiritually significant, dedicated to my Savior, and full of growth with God as my major focal point.

It was a significant year... But not at all in the way I was expecting. 

Turns out, it became the HARDEST year for my faith. A spiritual crisis is an understatement. It felt like a religious obsessive compulsive disorder full of anxiety over spiritual matters. There was so much confusion and pain as I dug deep into what I’ve always believed, why I believed it, the God I had grown close to and whether He/She matched up with the God I was studying in scripture, in history, and in the actions of the people around me. It has been the most intense, sobering, beautiful spiritual roller-coaster.

That’s when I turned to art for therapy. My sketches became the oxygen-tube getting me through the days and overcoming the shame that shadowed every question or doubt I found myself wrestling with. I struggled to trust the revelations inside of me when it clashed with outside sources or teachings I’d been taught my whole life.

There’s a term some use called “The Dark Night of the Soul”. Like a spiritual depression. Mother Teresa was thought to have experienced it from writings in her journals, Saint John of the Cross, Joseph Smith in Carthage jail... I think the majority of us will go through a form of this at some season in our lives. 

A full year went by and I found myself staring into the reflection of a now 34-year-old with a few more white strips of hair behind her ears and a tired, worn-down soul. I remembered that birthday wish I had prayed for the year before of growing closer and understanding Christ more and felt a bit of disappointment.

Then a familiar voice inside of me whispered, “In His last year of life, wouldn’t it have been Christ’s darkest hour? His time of most confusion? Of feeling alone? Of sorrow for the choices made by others and wishing that they saw God as He did? Don’t you think THIS was the best way for you to truly understand Him? Wasn’t it your most spiritual year after all?”

Oh, isn’t THAT poetry?

Although it may have felt like a winter of darkness, I have never, EVER felt closer to my Creator. My hand has been held every step of the way by something outside of myself that whispers of unconditional love and of pure patience as I stumble and fall and lift myself up again.

I am learning to trust that whisper inside of myself and trusting that God gave me this heart for a purpose to navigate through this living experience.

God is with me. God is inside of me. Like a child is literally half of her mother and half of her father, I am literally made out of God.

I am OF God.

This is now my season to look inside of myself and trust. And continue to search for and appreciate my Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother's poetry and the divine artists that They are.

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