When Music isn’t Enough

My go-to when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed is to listen to uplifting music. I have a Lauren Daigle station on Pandora that I’ve spent a year tailoring and it has some really great music! All of it is uplifting and helps to point my heart and mind to Christ when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

But lately, music is not enough. In fact, sometimes lately it’s downright distracting. My mind can’t focus on it. It just becomes noise. More noise than I already have in a house with 9 kids! (Yes, we have 10 but Jordan is on his mission).

The fix? Audio books. Or conference talks. I know that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s still noise. Still information that my mind has to process. But it gives me something to focus on. Something to learn. Something that’s not background noise. I feel like my mind and heart – while still pointed to Christ because of my audiobook choices – are able to progress instead of stay stagnant.

I think that’s what it comes down to. I’ve felt stuck. Spiritually stuck.

As soon as we got back from vacation, all of the kids got strep. Then a week or two later, we now have the flu going through the house. I have thievsed and even clorox’d the house several times. I’m now limiting sugar intake for the whole family now that Valentines Day is over. I don’t know what the deal is, but this winter has been rough! Thankfully I skipped the strep and haven’t gotten the flu…. yet.

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She NEVER naps anymore. You can always tell when she’s either growing or sick by if she naps.

So far 4 of the kids have gotten the flu and now the tiniest one is down for the count. I am thankful that they all seem to be taking turns rather than all being sick at the same time. But I’m also exhausted! Getting about 5-6 hours of sleep at night, broken up, because of sick kids is not very easy at nearly 28 weeks pregnant!

But like I said – it could be worse.

Because of all the sickness, we haven’t had family prayer as often as we should, haven’t read scriptures as a family as often as we should, haven’t done as much of the Come Follow Me as we should.

I feel like I’m failing at this motherhood thing lately. I feel spiritually stuck. And I feel guilty for not teaching my children the gospel as much as I should.

So music doesn’t work. I was feeling down about it all and decided to do some cleaning and decluttering and spent nearly a whole day doing that while I finished the Christ in Every Hour book by Anthony Sweat.

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It was amazing! I highly recommend it. It helped me to shift my perspective and to remember that this is something I have to work through. And that the kids will not be sick forever. That routines can be re-established and it’s okay to just do our best for now, even if our best just means keeping kids alive and getting 5 hours of sleep.

I’m now starting Angels: Agents of Light, Love, and Power by Donald W. Parry.

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I just started it so I can’t say anything yet but I feel like it’s one I should listen to, so it’s up next!

Things might not get easier, per se. But I’ll get better at handling them… and kids can’t be sick forever.

On the Morrow Come I Into the World.

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. One of my daughters dropped my laptop and you can no longer see the screen very well. So that was replaced. But then life got busy and writing got set aside.

I’m 26 weeks pregnant tomorrow. Time is flying by and I’m enjoying feeling this new life move around. We found out it’s a boy. Which still blows my mind. God blessed me with 5 boys and now another. I never thought I’d be a mother to boys.

I’ve been meaning to come back to writing here for a while. I’ve procrastinated about it for some reason. But there’s been a topic on my mind, and I wasn’t sure what would be the best avenue to discuss it/get it off my chest, so to speak.

I’ve been wondering, in a purely spiritual point of view – not political. I’ve been wondering – at what point does a spirit enter the body of a fetus/baby? Is it conception? The first heart beat? Birth?

I used to think it was conception. But now I’m not too sure.

3rd Nephi 1:13 says –

“Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets”

Christ was doing whatever work he needed to accomplish before being born into his physical body while Mary was pregnant… with him.

Is this closeness I feel to my son because his spirit is in his little body already – like I used to think? Or is it because he is one of my guardian angels and he is sticking close by during this time because he’s just as excited to be here with us as I am to meet him as my infant son?

Again – this has nothing to do with politics. I didn’t want to post this on Facebook because I felt like it would devolve into something I didn’t mean it to be. I am simply curious. I’ve always just assumed that our spirits are “tied” to our bodies once a heart beat is there and we can move in our mothers womb. But after reading the scriptures and thinking about what that implies… I’m not sure.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t love my baby wiggling in my belly any less. I’m just wondering what he’s doing and experiencing. Or maybe he’s free to come and go as he likes and experience both?

Thoughts?

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Growing Weeds

I was weeding outside this morning and the weeds reminded me of a comment on Instagram yesterday.

As I was scrolling Instagram, LDSLiving posted a photo that said “Why is Modesty Important?” Out of curiosity, I scrolled through reading the comments. I love hearing what other people have to say and just see people’s personal reasons behind their decisions or beliefs. I’m just curious like that.

So I was reading comments and came across one that shocked me just a little bit. This person commented that “no one wants to see those butt and boob cracks and those other things” I was like… seems a little passionate but okay… and then she continued “I think it’s bad enough that they tattooed them self why would you want to show your temple like that”. There was a few other things said as well but these were the main comments that caught my attention.

At first I just scrolled by thinking, wow – that was a little judgmental.

And then I went back. I’m pretty good at letting things go and ignoring people but I really wanted to comment on it so I said –

“I have tattoos. We all make mistakes in life, some of our mistakes are just more visible than others. I choose to dress modestly because if Christ walked in my door, I would want to be wearing something I would not feel ashamed in. I’m not ashamed of my tattoos, my past, or my mistakes for they are what brought me to this gospel. I would however, feel ashamed to be dressed in a way that was not temple worthy or would make my grandmother cringe. 😉 ”

Her response was “so true, I have made some mistakes but repented and same here.”

So why did weeding the garden remind me of this interaction?

Because weeds can be incredibly amazing. They bloom and flower. Many have medicinal power. They grow in locations and conditions that can be incredibly challenging. And yet, they are judged because a lot of people deem them to be pests, useless, or just not what they want.

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such a cute little flower! growing in the rocks.

My friends, it is not our place to judge others. Many of the most spiritually courageous people have and will come from backgrounds that might be deemed less than. Please, do not squash someones confidence or willingness to learn because they are or look different than you.

It is only our place to love.

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Testimony Sunday

When I knew that I wanted to come back to church, I worried that I would be judged because I have tattoos. There are LDS people that have tattoos, especially nowadays. But I still worried because I have noticeable ones. Ones that I can’t hide unless I wear long sleeves all the time and shoes that cover the top of my feet. I worried, until I found the Tattooed Mormon’s blog. Her name is Al Carraway. When I found her blog, my thought was – “If she is this popular with mormons, I can walk into one church.” My point in telling you this is that she has also posted that everyone should bear their testimony every fast Sunday – even if it’s just to yourself. Ever since I read that, I’ve thought it’s a great idea. Because our testimonies should be growing and changing and evolving all the time.

So here’s my first one –

I know without a doubt that this Gospel is true. When talking to my mom last week, one of the things she said was “exciting things started happening the moment you committed your life to the Lord”. Boy, was she ever right. I was thinking about my life since I made the decision to come back to church. I knew I wanted to before I made the real commitment but that commitment has seemed to open a door to the Devine that I really had never thought possible. There is no doubt in my mind that God is real, Christ is real and risen, and the adversary is very real.

I have had numerous experiences in the last year that has proven this to me time and time again. One of those was when I had the flu, I was stuck in the bathroom (tmi, I know) for hours in the middle of the night. I felt awful and I was so tired. I finally said a prayer telling my Heavenly Father just that. That I was tired and I just wanted to go to bed and sleep. I immediately felt this real physical calm wash over me from head to toe and my whole body calmed down. I felt fine. I stopped and paused and thought “maybe I should just sit here for a while and make sure” and then my next thought was “nope, I’m going to go lay down while I feel this good and if I have to get up again, I have to get up again” but I didn’t. I slept the rest of the night and felt just fine by morning.

God’s grace is real. God’s grace is amazing. And a lot of times, most times, it’s not a big flashy thing. It’s as simple as – now I feel well enough to leave the bathroom and finally sleep.

We all have this grace in our lives. I see it in mine all the time. It’s when we get too busy, too distracted, too caught up in the world that we don’t see it for what it is. Because most of the time, it is these small things. People tell me all the time how overwhelmed I must be with 10 kids. And I do get overwhelmed. I get stressed. I feel really busy most of the time. But it is only by God’s grace that I really don’t feel overwhelmed most of the time. I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I know that I can find joy in the busyness that comes with having 10 kids. I know that I can teach my kids to find that joy in their lives no matter what – because of God’s grace.

I love this Gospel. I love my God and my Savior. I love what this Gospel has brought into my life. I know that my life has been guided by God since the moment I was born and I am (maybe slowly) learning to let God have the reigns completely. My job in this life is to be still. To listen. And then to act upon what I know and feel to be true and to let God decide and lead me where He wants me to be.

I say these things with all the love in my heart, in the name of Jesus Christ – amen.

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Can’t hide the tattoos. And that’s okay!

CTR and Summer

 

I used to think that CTR rings, necklaces, WWJD bracelets, etc were silly. I don’t particularly like crosses as jewelry… but that’s a whole ‘nother post for another day. I used to think these types of jewelry were silly. Why? Because why would someone need that except to be flashy? To be trendy? I didn’t get why anyone would need jewelry to show they loved Christ. Wouldn’t that just be something you needed to feel and not flash around to everyone else?

CTR stands for Choose The Right. It’s something that was designed for kids to help them to remember to choose the right, make good choices, and follow Christ. Except ever since I’ve come back to church I’ve felt like I needed a CTR ring. It’s taken me nearly a year to buy one. Part of that reason was I still felt like it was silly.

Until I went to dairy queen for ice cream with the little ones the other day. The older kids were having parties at school and the tiny ones were feeling left out – ice cream fixes everything, right?! Our cashier was a woman a little older than me. She looked like she might have had a rough past (absolutely no judgement here, just a simple observation), she had a tattoo on the back of her hand (again… never gonna get judgement for tattoos from me!) and she had a CTR ring on. I almost said and I wanted to say “Wow! I’m so proud of you!” This was literally the first thought that came to my mind. And I was a little taken aback by my own thoughts. I also wanted to ask her to be Facebook friends with me but I’m still trying to figure out how weird I can be about religion with people. lol No seriously, I am definitely that weird in general with people and make friends pretty easily wherever I go but I still feel a little awkward talking about religion with people I don’t know, don’t know well, or even people from my past that knew me when I wasn’t active in the church. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to offend people or make people feel awkward about it. I’m slowly getting over this but it really has been a struggle. Silly, I know.

Anyways, my next thought illuminated as to why that was my first thought and reaction to seeing her CTR ring. These rings aren’t just to remind us. They are a statement of our values. An outward statement of our beliefs. My next thought was “you need one”.

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So I got one today. It’s these little things that show others (and ourselves) who we really are. It shows the world who we are striving to be. It shows our Father that we are willing to stand and say, Yes, Christ is my Savior and Redeemer.

And that’s why I’ll probably be treating this ring just like my wedding rings and it won’t be coming off.

Step by step just like line by line, we learn and grow.

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Today was the last day of school for these kids! Summer is officially here!

We went to the park to play after school although I didn’t get very many pictures since everyone was running around in opposite directions!

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After the park, we decided to go celebrate National Donut Day.

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I’m sorry if you ever get stuck waiting in line around us…
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love these kids!

Then we had pizza and movie night to celebrate the beginning of summer. I’m actually looking forward to not having to worry about school for a few months. I think this will give us all a chance to learn to work together, to get along a little better (a mama can hope!) and create some good family habits before the next school year begins.

A Mother’s Faith

I texted my mom today and told her a few things that have been stressing me out. Some things that felt big. At least, they felt big until I heard her response.

After being inactive in the church for about 16 years, my mom and I didn’t talk about the gospel, church, Christ, anything related to religion, really. Being able to now almost shocks me sometimes. Her faith is amazing. She is a rock and she truly listens to the Spirit.

She didn’t give me any easy answers. But she gave me the best answers. I could tell that she really thought about what to say before she said it and then what she did say was perfect. She told me to have faith. She told me that God will and always does provide. She gave me hope and specific things to look forward to. She suggested a few activities, like reading the scriptures with the kids every night, even if it’s only for 5 minutes, that I haven’t been doing every day. Yes, we say our family prayers every day – multiple times a day – but I’ve been struggling trying to get everything done.

And you know what – she’s so right. I need a priority shift. Because that is definitely something we should be doing together every day.

My mom and I have have always had a great relationship. Even through our trials and disagreements, I’ve always known she always loved me regardless. Being able to talk about our faith just makes that even better.

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Our two 3 year olds blowing bubbles together today

I found this article tonight too that I LOVED. Give it a read (or a listen! love that you can do that with all of the conference talks), for sure! It’s called Joy and Spiritual Survival by President Russell M. Nelson from 2 years ago. I am constantly shocked by how inspired this man is. Everything he says and talks about just hits me to the core. I really love our prophet. He is definitely meant to be our prophet of these times.

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This tiny one cracks me up!

Read this one too. It’s called Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives by Russell M. Nelson as well. It’s from the April 2017 conference. Just a few months before I came back to church. Yes, I do read and listen to conference talks a lot. I have a lot to catch up on! 😉

One last thought – I’m really loving being able to write here. All of the little things that seem irritating or annoying during the day.. as I reflect here on what to write about – they just don’t seem important. It’s almost cathartic to sit and review my day. Those little things, even the kids fighting (because they do do that) just doesn’t seem that big anymore. This is good. God is good. I’m glad I listened to that still small voice that kept telling me to put this up… more than once. (Remember the whole stubborn thing? yeah… I’m working on it.)

Laundry, Steam, and Social Media

If there was one chore that I could pay someone else to do all the time… it’d be the laundry. I’ve never really enjoyed doing laundry. I mean, I don’t mind putting it into the washer and flipping it over to the dryer. But putting it all away… never been my favorite activity. I think it’s just because it’s so monotonous and takes so much time. And now there’s 12 people in the house. I mean, John is gone a good chunk of time and Jordan does his own so I guess it’s really more like 10. But 10 people worth of clothes is a lot of laundry.

I’m not really telling you this for any other reason than to complain and say I dislike doing laundry. lol so there’s that.

I went to the gym today for the first time in way too long. I have to say, I feel so much better emotionally when I can get work-outs in. I usually go to the gym for 2 hours. I walk at an incline (totally don’t like running so I just increase the incline to make it more difficult 😉 ) for at least 30 minutes. Then I do various weights for arms, legs and core. I do squats and pull-ups and then I leave the last 20 minutes or so for the sauna. I’ve always loved the sauna. It’s just sitting in a hot room sweating a lot but it’s so relaxing to me!

The gym closest to my house now only has a steam sauna. I’ve only ever been in a dry sauna but I gave it a go today anyways because… sauna.

When I went into the sauna, I was the only one in there. I decided to sit and pray while the room filled with steam. There’s been a lot on mind lately – which I’ll write about sometime soon, I’m sure, but praying felt like a good idea. So I prayed for a few minutes. Maybe 5, maybe 10. I couldn’t really tell. When I opened my eyes the room was full of steam. I could barely see a few feet from where I was sitting. It was a room of white haze. It was so beautiful. So peaceful. I don’t know why but I immediately felt more at peace and just sat and watched the steam for another 10 minutes.

Another random thought for ya – I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love staying in contact with friends and family, I love my oily community, I love following gospel related people and organizations to get uplifting content in my feeds throughout the day. One of the things that I’ve noticed within the last year is that when I’m having a stressful time, there will always be a story or quote or picture or whatever that pops up that is exactly what I need, exactly what I’ve been contemplating. It really blows my mind that this keeps happening. The fact that God uses social media to help us – #mindblown but I’ll take it!

One of those quotes that popped up today was from Gordon B. Hinkley saying, “If we complain about life… we are thinking only of ourselves.”33992804_10103364497482068_6425437225625845760_n

This one was a little bit of a gut shot. I mean, not all messages we are meant to receive are going to be easy pills to swallow. Right? And I’ve been cranky this week (and last week, if you recall! Man…) So apparently I needed this. I needed a reminder that complaining is not only being selfish but doesn’t help anyone be in a positive mood. And no, I’m not saying that you can never complain (go re-read the first paragraph up above lol) or that you’re a bad person if you do. We all complain sometimes. But if that is interfering with your life. Then it’s time to reassess. I needed the reminder.

And then here was another one –

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I needed someone to tell me that it isn’t easy trying to… not stay because I feel like that isn’t the right word but maybe ‘seek to accelerate’? on the path of righteousness. But it is oh so good and oh so worth it!

Oh and kids are good! Last day of school for everyone is on Friday. Summer is only 2 days away…

Lots of random thoughts today. I promise I’ll try to organize my mind a bit better in the future. No promises though.

 

Memorial Day

I think I let the kids stay up late too many days this weekend. I had some super cranky kids on my hands today. We’re going to have to figure out an appropriate summer bedtime soon because some of these kids still need plenty of sleep to be happy little people!

Live and learn.

I am super proud of Ethan. He was nearly done cleaning his room today (which he shares with 3 of his brothers. Which is also how they want it. I offered Ethan and Vaiden their own room downstairs but they didn’t like that idea, so sharing it is!) Anyways, he was nearly done cleaning the boys room and I noticed the neighbor having some trouble with something big over the fence in his back yard. I commented to Ethan that it looked like he needed help and he should go offer to help him. He immediately put his shoes on and went to offer some help. Well it turned out that the neighbor was trying to remove a stump and was planning on using some black powder to do it. Ethan was all over that! He ended up staying out there for about an hour helping to dig and move stuff around. He did get $10 in the end so it was a win – win in his book. Explosives and got paid!

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I snuck outside to snap a photo. So proud of him for just jumping in to help!

After Ethan was done helping the neighbor, we ate lunch and I made 9 of the kids get into the car. We drove 45 minutes to go to the Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

I haven’t really done anything for Memorial Day in the past. However, this Memorial Day – I am married to a Veteran. My husband served in the Army for 20 years. I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am that he survived those 20 years. Because I am so thankful, I am even more aware that there are many others who do not have their loved ones with them today because of the sacrifices that they made.

John‬ ‭15:13‬ says Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Christ gave His life for us that we may be saved and brought home to our Father again.

But it can be easy to forget that we have men and women willing to sacrifice their lives for God, country, their families and friends and so much more today. This isn’t a story book or a history lesson. This is life today.

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None of the pictures the guy took for us turned out with everyone cooperating lol

While we were there, I asked the kids if they knew what Memorial Day was for. We talked about why all of these people died. Phalin all of a sudden said “My dad was in the Army! But he didn’t die” I responded with “Yes! And that is why we are here to say thank you.”

I gave each of the kids 3 little flags and told them to go find a gravestone with no flowers or tokens that have been left and give them a flag. We walked through reading names and talking about where they had been stationed.

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Some of the kids were confused as to why we would go if we didn’t know anyone there. I explained that it was more important that we are thankful for everyone – not just those we know. In Gods eyes, every one of us are family.

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I love watching each of their personalities. How they respond to things, how far they’re willing to wander off, who wanted to talk and ask questions, who placed all of their flags then came back to get me to show me where they placed them. All of these little things show me a glimpse into who they are and it’s so so fun.

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My tiny dude

We got home, did a few chores around the house, kids played, ate dinner and then we did a few sparklers and pop-its. The kids had way more fun with them than I expected and I was lighting sparklers one after the other and didn’t get any pictures of it. But they had fun – I promise!

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throwing pop-its

I honestly never imagined that I’d be a mother to so many. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yes, I yelled at them to stop yelling (irony) and fighting in the car on the drive back. But those little things, those momentary fights, arguments, growing pains, boundary pushing, etc. Those are moments. They pass. This awe at watching them grow, these glimpses into their personalities and potential, this love that grows day by day and minute by minute. That will never pass or fade. This is what I want to focus on. What I want them to remember.

I want them to remember to love each other. To love the people around them. To love strangers. To be thankful. I want them to remember that I love them. And if we can accomplish these things, we’ll be good.

And just so you know it’s not all rainbows over here – bedtime was crazy. Just like every other family. 😉

Sundays Are My Favorite

I woke up this morning and remembered that Tahlia was supposed to give a talk during primary at church today. The talk was supposed to be on how Prophets teach us to live the Restored Gospel. I did a little googling but didn’t really find what I thought I was looking for. I decided to play some music while I got ready for church and went to turn on Pandora. When I unlocked my phone, I had a thought that I should listen to an old conference talk instead. I almost ignored the thought and then thought to myself “no, I told myself that I would listen and act on any promptings no matter how small”. This has been taking a lot of effort. I mean, you wouldn’t think so right? But man, it’s so easy to just jump right into habits – like listening to Pandora. It takes real effort to stop, listen and make that choice. Even with these seemingly tiny things!

Anyways, getting way off track here. Back to the point. I brought up my LDS Library App instead. I went to the conference talks section. I didn’t really want to listen to any recent ones since I’ve been listening to those pretty often lately, so I just swiped up on my phone and let it scroll down. As it scrolled, I randomly touched my finger down and stopped it. I stopped on October of 1999. I clicked on that and scrolled through the talks. “Spiritual Hurricanes” jumped out at me. So I clicked on that one and hit the “play” button.

Wouldn’t you know it… here was everything I needed for Tahlia’s primary talk. I quickly wrote out her talk while I was getting ready, went and talked with her about it and we were all set!

Here’s how it went –

Just like weathermen and storm watchers who keep people safe from danger, our prophets are our spiritual watchmen. They help teach us to be like Jesus, to protect our spirits, to prepare, to read our scriptures, to pray, and to choose the right.
They tell us what our Heavenly Father wants us to know.
Amos 3:7 says – surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
If we follow the prophet and listen closely, we will know what to do!

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my shy girl!
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love her!

Yep, I snuck a few pictures while waiting to help her give her talk. I tried not to get other kids in the photo, that’s why it’s so off-center. I never know how other parents will feel about me posting photos with their kids in them so I always try my best to get photos with only my kiddos in them. It usually works!

Today, this same little girl told me that she wasn’t sure if she believed in Jesus because her dad keeps telling them that he doesn’t. This broke my heart. I told her how much Jesus loves her, that He is very real, that He lives and that He can’t wait to see her again someday.

If anything, this definitely strengthened my resolve to focus our lives on Christ as much as possible. Sometimes, it’s one comment, one negative moment, etc that will stick in your mind more than a hundred positive ones. We know this to be true with everything else in life. It doesn’t matter how many people tell you that you’re capable, brave, strong, fearless, pretty – anything! That ONE person who says you’re not. Who puts those thoughts of doubt, negativity, or sadness into your mind – our minds latch onto those. We play them over and over in our heads. We focus on them. On why they would say those things. Why they would believe those things. The negative always feels bigger than the positives a lot of times. And for kids, this is so hard. I am determined to override my children’s minds with Christ. I want them to know without a doubt that He lives and loves them so unconditionally that no comment will ever cause them to doubt this fact. Don’t worry, we will get there.

Sundays are my favorite. I love getting my kids into church. I love going to church. I love singing the hymns. I love being able to participate and take the sacrament. I love sitting in Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society. I love coming home and making (okay sometimes forcing) my kids to take a break, relax, watch inspiring movies, read the scriptures. I love reading my scriptures throughout the day and being interrupted by the kids while I read. Because this means that they see me read my scriptures. Does everything always go perfect on Sundays? Of course not. I mean, there’s a lot of bribes that go into getting so many kids to sit and be quiet during sacrament meeting (and jokes aside  – the bribes don’t even work half the time) but we go. Till the end of my days, I will thank my Heavenly Father for the opportunity to take my kids to church. Because going from being inactive and raising kids outside of the Gospel to coming back and seeing them in the Gospel. It’s different. It’s good. And I’m so so thankful.