Sunday, September 1, 2019

"Come and See"

I was at the beach months ago when I received word of one of my very dear relatives discovering unfortunate, life-changing news about her health.  We had grown up close in age with only a few weeks separating us at birth.  And as I walked alone, staring out at the mystical ocean and inhaling the stuffy, salty air, my naive mentality that life goes on and on dramatically melted away.  None of us are invincible.  And this life is truly the only chance we have to live.

I reflected on the news and mirrored her struggles into a different version of my life, wondering if I would be able to handle this trial as gracefully and courageously as she was doing.  Whether I live to be 32 or 102, I realized that everyone of us will eventually have to take a final living breath.  I pondered, in that last breath for me, will the taste on my tongue be a sweet sensation of contentment or a choking bitterness of regret?

Because of this turning moment, and the amplified intake of Brenรฉ Brown books on vulnerability, I have challenged myself to have a bold, exciting year with an extra dose of courage.  I’ve tried to truly embrace the blessings I’ve been given and focused on saying yes to things that have held me back by fear in the past.  From committing to a bleached pixie-cut to hitting an open mic on comedy night, it’s been a bucket-list roller coaster thrill for me.

In the bridge of my absolute favorite song, Omnia Sol, the lyrics go, “Let courage be your ore.  Let passion be your sail.”  Such beautiful words that ring truth have brought a new, unseen strength into my life.

So…. There’s the back story behind today’s post.


I was discussing some important life matters with the Big Guy the other day and had a distinct impression to flip open the latest general conference talks and read President Utchdorf’s recent address.  The words confidence, courage, and humility caught my attention and I knew whatever his message was, I needed to act on it.  What was the subject on, you ask?  Missionary work.  And oh gosh.  Missionary work.  

I don’t know if I’ve always been this way, or if it’s just my current season of life, but missionary work is my Achilles Heel in the church.  I gave a high school friend of mine a Book of Mormon once and it was just so awkward.  Even as I write this post my negative thoughts are wrestling inside of me and whispering, “Some of your close loved ones have separated themselves from the church.  What right do you have to bring your religion to others when your own family has taken a different path?”  Ouch, demons… Ouch.

But you know what, Universe?  I have one life to live!  Brene Brown is my spirit animal.  Dieter F Utchdorf is my spirit’s spirit animal.  And I look like Tinker Bell and Draco Malfoy had a baby.  So, being vulnerable and valiant is wonderfully and exactly where my heart desires to be right now!

The missionary attempt…

I could sit here and preach to you about religion.  But I’ve read about Nephi.  Every time he tried being a missionary to his brothers, it seems he usually ended up bound with cords or beat with a stick.  The times when his family truly were converted were through acts of God: Angels, being electrocuted, and magnificent ocean storms.  So, I’m gonna leave that part to Him.  The religion itself is between you and the Holy Ghost.  

All I want to share is how my heart is feeling right now.

We are all dropped into this life when we are born: naked, helpless, afraid, cold, and lost.  Our entire existence is an unfinished puzzle with missing pieces.

If the spirits embedded inside of us are all blinded by the unknown, we instinctively reach out scrambling for a lifeline, for something to help us understand who we are, where we are, and where we might be going.  

Here is what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has done for me:

My soul has reached into the darkness and grabbed hold of something.  Something warm that soothes my shivering.  It feels strong enough to shield me from what danger might linger in this unknown.  And it’s leading me to a place my heart trusts and is beckoning me to go.  Above all, I feel like if I squint just right, it has helped my eyes begin to adjust to the blackness and notice the light.

To me, for my unfinished puzzle, I see it as truth.

If you were more curious about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and all the unique things that make us us, you can ask the missionaries, visit, pm me if you’d like, or better yet come and see. 

And to everyone else, I hope you can trust that I am truly in the best place for me and at peace in my heart.  And wherever you are, however your lifestyle or spirituality may differ from mine, I trust you and know you may feel that too in your own way.  And I wish you the best.

Here’s to courage and vulnerability, to unfinished puzzles and finding peace, to taking our last breath joyfully and discovering the beautiful truth that follows after.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

CFM: It is Finished

This week we will be reviewing the big events from the life of Christ and singing about them.  I put together a picture timeline and matched each story with a primary song we've been working on throughout the year.  On Sunday I plan to scatter the pictures up on the board and let the kids rearrange them in chronological order.  

If you tie a string across the room, you can hang the pictures with clothes pins or something decorative to give it more of a "timeline" feel.

I left the titles blank so the songs revolving around each story of Christ can be customized to whatever hymn is most meaningful to you.

Download Timeline PDF HERE.

Here's my list of songs I chose for each scene:
Birth - Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus
Baptism - Baptism
Apostles fishing - Come Follow Me
Sermon on the Mount - Love One Another
Atonement - Gethsemane
Cross - To Think about Jesus
Resurrected Christ and Mary - I Know That My Redeemer Lives
Christ in the clouds - When He Comes Again

Kids, Cabins, and Camping

Camping season embraced us with arms wide open, speckled with mosquito bites and caked dirt beneath its fingernails.  

Five years ago I met Mitchell at Olallie Lake for one of his PTC resupply drop offs and we promised each other that in the future we would bring our family camping here.  So we did!  And it was fantastic!

The lake perfectly frames the reflection of Mt. Jefferson like a classic Bob Ross painting.  It's just heavenly.  The dirt road to get there is so incredibly bumpy that it's never crowded because you have to truly commit to driving there.  

The cozy, little one-room cabins come with a burning stove and mattress bed.  And I get it, without the tent you're only half camping.  But I prefer coziness to bragging rights, so I can still totally live with myself.  

Pack-N-Play was a life saver for Little Miss.  Outside we'd throw a blanket on top to keep the bugs and the sun out and she was totally content playing with her baby toys. 

 Also, can anyone get over the fact that her hair is long enough for low pig tails now??  I am obsessed with the pigs.

Tried to keep our three-year-old as busy as possible with a bunch of activities.  He rocked the nature scavenger hunt like a boss.

Grandma hooked him up with an activity bucket too.  I'm pretty sure he always had something to do.

I did my first pedal boat ride.  Let's go ahead and add that to my resume.

Then, late one night I had a chance to sneak out and sit by myself on the lake dock studying the stars and the moon.  The lake was still.  Just the sound of frogs and crickets were there to serenade me.  I was so grateful for this beautiful world I was a part of.  I so badly wanted to have some sort of profound, spiritual experience, but things like that can't be rushed and I had the babies to get back to. So I just soaked in the peacefulness for a moment and whispered to God, 
"I see you."
"This world is beautiful.  This life is amazing."
"And I see you.  I see you.  I see you."

I think showing gratitude is one of the most powerful things we are capable of.  And I hope the Lord truly knows that I recognize my blessings.

Such a great family getaway.  We can't wait to go again and make it a new family tradition.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Testimony Tuesday

My caged spirit is rattling.  It wants out.  Everyone has their personal passions and outlets and I find mine is pouring out religious thoughts. Because I love it so much! The gospel is like chocolate ice cream to me.  And. I. Must. Eat. FAT. FAT. FAT!

Here's what's been on my mind lately...
 While we were visiting another Sunday ward recently, I was walking down the hallway with a fussy baby and peeked into the window of my son’s Sunday school classroom.  All of the two and three-year-olds were sitting reverently in their chairs singing along with their teacher to “Jesus Said Love Everyone”

… Except for my child who was in the corner on the other side of the room lying on the ground NOT paying attention.

 First of all…. Typical. ๐Ÿ˜‚

 But as I drove home reflecting on my day of battling tears while putting on my toddler’s church socks, the anxiety of keeping the kids quiet enough during sacrament meeting to not disrupt the other families, the loneliness of doing it all on my own suddenly piled on top of me and the negative thoughts naturally crept in and began attacking.  

“You’re not a good enough mom.”

“Your family doesn’t have the religious structure that other families do.”

“Your kids will always be different from their peers.”

I thought and thought and thought.  And then a thought invited itself in, as those beautiful Holy Ghost lifelines usually do.  I recalled Christ’s parable of the servants and the talents:

            “And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
            His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
            He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
            His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord…”

I sat thoughtfully at the long stoplight gripping the steering wheel and whispered to God, “Here are my two talents, Father.  It’s not as much, but I am truly working with what I’ve got and giving it my all.”

I never paid attention to the details before. I think most people focus on the five-talent overachiever and the ONE-talent servant that shrinks away and hides his treasure. It seems like the two-talent character usually goes unnoticed.  But I suddenly realized in this story that the lord gives the same reaction to the five AND the two talent servant.

“Well done, good and faithful servant….”

In this moment I felt like God was proud of me.  He knows me.  He knows my circumstances.  And it is silly of me to judge or compare myself to others.  

When we got home from church I walked past my son playing with his toys and I could hear him humming to himself, “Jesus said love everyone…”

Everything is gonna be just fine.  We are all fine.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

CFM: O Grave, Where Is Thy Victory?

Family lesson ideas while studying with little ones
Download blank CFM weekly program HERE.

There are so many great Easter Hymns we never get around to singing.  For my primary singing time activity last year I made little Easter Hymnbooks.  You can click HERE to get to my post with the Hymnbook printable.

Another great family tradition we always do is decorate an Easter tree.  Click HERE to get to my Jesus ornament printables.  

Each picture is accompanied by an Easter quote or scripture that the family can read and discuss together to focus on the Savior.  

Saturday, March 30, 2019

CFM: Thou Art the Christ

Family lesson ideas while studying with little ones
Download blank CFM weekly program HERE.

Opening Song: This is My Beloved Son

It's just a tiny verse in the scripture reading, but the kids loved the story of finding money in the fish's mouth.

We ended the evening with a go-fishing game!  You could take turns making comments about the lesson as each person catches a fish.

Monday, March 25, 2019

CFM: Be Not Afraid

Family lesson ideas while studying with little ones

Download blank CFM weekly program HERE.

There are so many great scripture stories in this week's lesson.  Sometimes simple is best.  It's nice to just cuddle together on the couch and tell the stories of Jesus.  That's what we did this week.

We talked about when Peter tried to walk on the water.  This is one of my most favorite faith-testing scripture stories of all time.

Everyone munched on bread and fish while we went through the stories of Christ's miracles.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

CFM: Who Hath Ears to Hear, Let Him Hear

Family lesson ideas while studying with little ones

Download blank CFM weekly program HERE.

MATTHEW 13 - As your family members read the Savior's parables, they might enjoy thinking of their own parables that teach the same truths about the kingdom of heaven, using objects of situations that are familiar to them.  

A few weeks ago I shared a family game with cards of objects around the house.  Each person takes a turn picking a card and coming up with a homemade "parable".  Click HERE to download the card printable.

The righteous must grow among the wicked until the end of the world.
This always makes me think of Mormon.  He was just such a cool cat.  He lived in a time when the Nephites were super wicked.  Even though he was alone in his values, he kept the commandments, loved his people, and sprung where he was planted.  Mormon 1:14-17

The Friend magazine has a super cute board game all about loving your neighbor and teaching how we can make good choices when others around us are choosing differently.  Get the board game printable HERE.

No matter what's happening in the world around us, we can always let our light shine.  Click HERE for a special night activity I did back when I worked with the Young Women. 

 This reminds me of the Sleeping at Last lyrics:

Like fireworks
We pull apart the dark
Compete against the stars
With all of our hearts
Till our temporary brilliance turns to ash
We pull apart the darkness while we can

Sunday, March 10, 2019

CFM: These Twelve Jesus Sent Forth

Family lesson ideas while studying with little ones

Download blank CFM weekly program HERE.

My yoke is easy and my burden is light
Mosiah is my favorite book in the Book of Mormon.  I love where Alma's people are in bondage and their burdens are made light.  This is so real.  I have experienced this where a trial I am experiencing is lighter than it should be, where the emotional weight no longer controls my life and I can find pure, pure joy in my hardest challenges because of the aid of my Savior.

For our activity we filled T's backpack with some of his heavy books. 

 It was funny watching him trying to carry it around without falling.  

We then went through his load and took out the books one by one.  Each book was sticky-tacked with a different emoticon.  We talked about all of the different ways we might feel down and how we can turn to Christ to help us ease those burdens.  And before you know it--BAM!  The backpack was light as a feather!

Download ๐Ÿ˜ŠEmoji๐Ÿ˜Š printable HERE.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Beach Babes

This weekend we were able to escape the snow with my in-laws and play at the beach!  It was a perfect break from our winter cabin fever.  

I have the biggest crushes on these two!

Hail, rain, wind, and sunshine.  Packing for the Oregon Coast be like....

Winning at twinning ๐Ÿ‘ฏ

 Sissy's first handful of sand...
... which we'll continue to see in her diaper for the next few days. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

CFM: Thy Faith Hath Made Thee Whole

Family lesson ideas while studying with little ones

Download blank CFM weekly program HERE.

I'm cheating a little bit and using the activity from the Come Follow Me-- for Primary

Give each child a paper rain cloud, and ask them to write on it a trial that someone might have.  Put all of the clouds on the board, covering a picture of the Savior.   Invite a child to remove one of the clouds and suggest ways we could help someone with that trial to find peace.  When all the clouds are removed, testify of the Savior's power to calm the storms in our lives.

Download my cloud printable HERE.

It may be fun to make a homemade storm as a family.  Use rain sticks, shakers, snapping, or thunder audio on Youtube for your sound and be creative with flashlights or strobe lights for lightning. ⛈

Sunday, February 17, 2019

CFM: He Taught Them as One Having Authority

Family lesson ideas while studying with little ones

Download blank CFM weekly program HERE.

I'm gonna be honest here... Oats work better than sand when performing a wise man/foolish man object lesson.  Go with oats.  Tell the children he built his house upon the oats.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

CFM: Blessed Are Ye

Family lesson ideas while studying with little ones

Download blank CFM weekly program HERE.

Jesus Christ had come to fulfill the lower law and teach a higher law

I was struggling to come up with a way to teach a three year old about the law of Moses and the law of Christ and how in different times God's children are given different commandments.  And then I was craving Skittles.  And then this happened....

Put a stack of cards on the table with different chores/jobs/rules in your family.  Then place a bowl of candy in the center.  When you flip a card over everyone that that rule applies to gets to take a Skittle.

At the end of the game we can see how even within the family different members have different rules to follow.  The baby doesn't know how to make her bed yet and a toddler is not expected to pay the bills.  As we grow we are given more responsibilities because we are better able to handle them.

Download PDF of the chores cards HERE.  I also included a blank page for adding custom chores and jobs to personalize your family game.

This was a lesson I really needed to hear this week.  After attending the temple, I have been pondering this idea so much lately of why it is that we are given line upon line and why people from the past were given different commandments.

I am just so grateful to know that we are growing and that God continues to parent us and guide us, catering to his children uniquely as a generation and on an individual, personal level as well.

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