Daily Priorities

One of the reasons I’m taking a break from social media is to figure out how to fit the things that are of a high priority to me into my daily routines and then try to implement them into becoming healthy habits.

Like scripture reading. I did the Prophets challenge to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover from October to the end of December. It was difficult even though I’ve read it that quickly before. But then as soon as I had completed the challenge, I wasn’t reading my scriptures as often again.

I just remembered that I bought a prayer journal for myself at Christmas time. It was only about $6 on amazon. I started using it this week and it has been incredibly helpful!

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There’s a spot to write a daily scripture verse on each days entry. So what I’ve been doing is reading my scriptures each morning for any length of time I have. Then I go back through what I read and pick out a verse that I feel stands out. I write that one down. Then it has spots to wrtite what you’re thankful for, what you want to work on, and what prayer requests you have. I use the prayer request portion to think about what I would like to pray about that morning; to focus my thoughts. I feel like this process is creating a more “active participation” in my mind. I’m not just saying the same prayers every day. I’m taking the time to think about what is really going on, what I am truly thankful for each day, and what I honestly need to work on or need help with.

Like I said, I just started using it this week but I already love it!

The kids are slowly recovering from the flu that went through the house. Just 2 kids left feeling sick. I’m hoping it will be gone by the weekend and that it won’t make any other rounds through anyone else!

I did have a funny conversation with Vaiden last night. I went in to check on the boys and Vaiden had just gotten into bed when he asked – “How do you do so much all the time?”

The question surprised me and so I responded with – “What do you mean?”

Vaiden – “Well, you take care of 9 kids every day and then when I was doing homework on your laptop, you have like 10 tabs open but they’re all for work.”

Me – “Oh, well I just try to get things done whenever I have the time.”

Vaiden – “huh…”

I was surprised he noticed. I have tabs open on my computer for ceu requirements for my midwifery certification, my email, some research for something I’m writing, and a tab for a few supplies to have on hand I want to order for the birth of our baby in the next few months. So not all of it work related… but most of it!

By the way, it’s completely blowing my mind that there’s only about 11ish weeks until I could meet my baby. Even sooner if he decides to be born early like Tahlia. Thankfully I don’t think I’d go too far past my due date but now that I’ve written it, it will probably happen. Because luck.

 

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Happy Fathers Day

I’m lucky to have some really great fathers in my life. First, my dad. Who taught me to be strong and fearless by his example. Who never gave up on me. Who always hoped and prayed and believed that I would come around to the gospel again someday. Who is an example of leadership, entrepreneurship, and being bold in the face of adversity. Who taught me and continues to teach me that making mistakes is human but coming to Christ heals all. My dad who has loved me since day one. Honestly, I firmly believe we loved each other before we came to this earth. I’ve always loved and admired this man with all my heart and know of a surety that we were meant to walk this life together. I couldn’t do it without him and wouldn’t want to.

Thank you dad, for all that you are.

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my dad

My step dad. Who taught me that forgiveness is Christlike. That we all make mistakes but that family is forever. This man taught me that people change, even me. That even if we don’t understand our parents that someday, we just might. This man who loves my mother, who took on 3 kids in his early 20’s with no parent manual on how to be a step-parent but tried his best regardless. His example has taught me perseverance. sacrifice, and humility.

Thank you and Happy Fathers Day.

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My step dad with my mom

I have to give a little shoutout to my father in law as well. I actually met him a few weeks before I met my husband in person. He came over to my house to meet me and loan me a book John and I had talked about over the phone. When I met him, I automatically liked him. He is kind, smart and easy to talk to. Since getting to know him better, he constantly impresses me. He loves God, Christ and his family intensely. He pushes me to be a better person. I’m thankful for his example, strength, and love that he adds into our family and into my life already and our journey together has only begun.

Happy Fathers Day!

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my father in law

I also want to say Happy Fathers Day to my husband. The man who already had 7 kids yet opened his heart to 3 more. Who tries so hard to connect with them and love them when he’s home from work. He is an amazing father. A father who loves and listens to his kids. Who stays hours after he should have left for work to make sure they’re all okay. This man who is a powerful priesthood holder. Who has given me blessings whenever I ask for them, who prays for and with our family every day that he’s home, who teaches and talks about the gospel with excitement and love. This man loves God and our Savior Jesus Christ with all of his soul. He is the strength and center of our home and family, even though he has to work away from home for weeks at a time. Who makes me laugh. Who I can talk to endlessly about anything at all. Who already knows me so well and can crack my stubbornness with his persistent love. I couldn’t have asked and prayed for a better father for all of our kids. I’m lucky to walk this journey with him by my side, leading our children through this life.

Happy Fathers Day my love, my soul mate, my husband.

 

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Christ Heals All Things

You hear the phrase ‘Christ heals’ all the time, right? Do we really know what that means? Usually, when we think about healing we think of big miracles. Healing the sick, making the blind see, etc. Am I right? I could be wrong. But that used to be how I viewed this idea. The only way I saw this.

I was wrong. I think I’m a little closer into understanding now though, Christ heals all things.

I don’t really know why I’m writing about this – other than I feel like I should. Maybe it will help someone else understand too.

If you’re not LDS, bare with me. I think there’s still some good stuff here.

Anyways – I was inactive from the church for nearly 16 years. During that time I started drinking coffee. I liked coffee. I liked the taste, the ritual of drinking it every morning. It became a comfortable habit to have. But I was addicted. No question about it.

When I decided to come back to church, I gave up coffee. It was my choice and it was one I wanted to make. I believe the Word of Wisdom is there to help us, make us healthy, make us strong, and develop other healthy habits. It was not an easy habit to break.

I would drive by a coffee shop and a thought would enter my mind such as “one coffee wouldn’t hurt anything”. But you know what, it would. Because if I wanted to be able to go to the temple, then even one would hurt.

You see – those thoughts – those are thoughts of addict. The adversary will and does use anything he can against us. Even little things. Especially “little” things. Because those little things are small concessions. Each small concession gets you one step further and further away from where you really want to be. Those little things end up being a really big thing later.

Now let me tell you something simply miraculous. As soon as I had that temple recommend in my hand. Those thoughts vanished. The idea of wanting coffee – gone. The thought of drinking coffee actually kinda grosses me out now. I don’t want it.

CHRIST HEALS ALL THINGS

Ether 12:27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

I never thought that I would live out a scripture passage. But weak things definitely can be made strong. I fully believe that I will never again have the adversary use coffee against me. That addiction is gone.

I never would have ever called myself an addict either. I mean, it’s not like drugs or alcohol…. right? Wrong. There are so many possible addictions in this life. Thankfully, Christ can heal them all. Even the little things.

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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.)

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.