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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT -- Personal Peace

Yesterday was a hard day.  I won't go into the details too much, but let's just say, sometimes this mama is a little emotional.  Sometimes she gets grumpy and sometimes she yells.  Last night was one of those times.  Sigh. 

I was thinking about how I can have more peace and order in my home.  We love each other like crazy and we have lots of fun in our little home, but I long for a more noticeable feeling of reverence and peace.  I know that's asking a lot with four kids and crazy schedules, but I really am craving more peace in my life and I want to be able to help my kids to have a haven from the craziness of the world.

Last night after my drama queen mama moment, I started playing some beautiful, uplifting music in my bedroom and those little ones fell asleep without any further debate.  Perhaps they were craving some reverence in the home as well.  I'm sorry that it took so long for me to foster that feeling for them.

I read the following conference talk this morning, by Quentin L. Cook, which was a very timely message for this frazzled family:  http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/personal-peace-the-reward-of-righteousness?lang=eng

The main message I brought away from the address is that the most important thing I can do to bring peace into my home is to live more righteously so I can first have peace in my heart.  There were several beautiful examples and quotes in this talk and I would highly suggest that you take the time to review it.  Here are a few of my favorite gems:

“There never can come to the world that spirit of peace and love … until mankind will receive God’s truth and God’s message … , and acknowledge his power and authority which is divine.”  (Joseph F. Smith)

"We earnestly hope and pray for universal peace, but it is as individuals and families that we achieve the kind of peace that is the promised reward of righteousness. This peace is a promised gift of the Savior’s mission and atoning sacrifice."

"For those who reject God, there is no peace. We all participated in the councils of heaven that provided for moral agency, knowing that there would be mortal pain and even unspeakable tragedy because of the abuse of agency. We understood that this could leave us angry, bewildered, defenseless, and vulnerable. But we also knew that the Savior’s Atonement would overcome and compensate for all of the unfairness of mortal life and bring us peace. Elder Marion D. Hanks had a framed statement on his wall by Ugo Betti: 'To believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair, and that there will be wonderful surprises.'"

Wonderful surprises...sounds good to me!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


"When we obey the commandments of the Lord and serve His children unselfishly, the natural consequence is power from God—power to do more than we can do by ourselves. Our insights, our talents, our abilities are expanded because we receive strength and power from the Lord. His power is a fundamental component to establishing a home filled with peace." --Richard G. Scott, General Conference April 2013

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT -- Confirmation from the Spirit

Isn't it nice when you pray and search for an answer to a problem, make a decision, then later have a confirmation that your decision was the correct one?  Let me explain:

As I mentioned last week, I recently chose four areas mentioned in my Patriarchal blessing as areas to work on intensively in this season of life.  I will not ignore the other admonitions mentioned in my blessing, but I will focus on these areas for now, until I sense some improvement.  As I made this decision, I felt such a feeling of peace and purpose, which replaced a confused, discouraged, overwhelmed feeling.

Today I was studying Richard G. Scott's conference address, "For Peace at Home", which he gave at the April 2013 Saturday afternoon session.  I was so pleased to hear his wise words.  The following three quotes especially touched me:

We need not worry if we can’t simultaneously do all of the things that the Lord has counseled us to do. He has spoken of a time and a season for all things. In response to our sincere prayers for guidance, He will direct us in what should be emphasized at each phase of our life. We can learn, grow, and become like Him one consistent step at a time.


We exercise faith and remember that there are some things that must be left to the Lord. He invites us to set our burdens down at His feet. With faith we can know that [we are] not abandoned but [are] in the watchcare of a loving Savior.


Satan is no match for the Savior. Satan’s fate is decided. He knows he has lost, but he wants to take as many with him as he can. He will try to ruin your goodness and abilities by exploiting your weaknesses. Stay on the Lord’s side, and you will win every time.

I know that I am not perfect.  So many sins and weaknesses easily beset me in this life.  I must continue to work on these imperfections with hope, knowing that the Lord is pleased by my efforts.  I pray that I can become more consistent.  I still need to learn to leave those things which are most difficult to the Lord, trusting in His grace and His loving watchcare.  I know that my goodness is worth fighting for.  I know that with Him, I can and WILL win every single time.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT-- Thine Walk Today with Me

Yesterday was Matthew's ADHD evaluation.  For a long time, I have been working with educators and his behavior team at school to find out what is holding him back from academic success as well as from keeping him from making and keeping close friends.  For a long time, because he prefers to play alone at school, his teacher and others missed ADHD as a diagnosis.  He has a need to constantly move, but many times people see the ADHD child as someone who is always bouncing off the walls, running, breaking things, starting fights, etc.  Matthew is such a sweet and affectionate child, always willing and able to engage in meaningful conversation, so I knew in my mother's heart that Autism was not the culprit.  Neither was Sensory Processing Disorder.  He was also tested for IQ, where he was found above average.

The official diagnosis came yesterday:  Dr. Lloyd (AKA Best Pediatrician Ever) diagnosed him with ADHD, mild anxiety, and a probable learning disability.  I prayed before the appointment that I would feel the Spirit confirm any given diagnosis and that I would also know whether any prescribed medication was something we should enlist in our battle.  Dr. Lloyd prescribed Strattera, a non-stimulant which can also help alleviate mild anxiety without the risks of an SSRI.  Immediately after the diagnosis as well as hearing the prescription, I felt peace.

I went home and read up on Strattera and did find some possible side effects, such as sombulance (sleepiness), stomachaches, headaches, and increased hyperactivity, but I feel like I should go ahead and monitor Matthew's behavior and symptoms for the trial month before trying anything else.  I like that his medication is a non-stimulant and will not become habit-forming like the stimulant medications can.  I also looked online to see if there was anything else I could do to maximize Matthew's treatment.  I ran across several resources citing the ADHD diet:  lots of lean protein, especially in the morning before school, low sugar and refined carbs, more complex carbs, more fiber, more Omega-3 fatty acids, and virtually no dyes, MSG, or aspartame.  I felt inspired to purchase a children's vitamin with 100% DV of Omega-3, which I did.  It was interesting that the recommended ADHD diet is so similar to the diet I have been considering to improve my own health.  Learning these new tips, with Matthew in mind, was like a second witness...it's time to change the way the whole family eats.

I have felt mostly peaceful, but last night I did feel a little overwhelmed for a moment.  I started to wonder why Heavenly Father has asked us to face so many difficulties all at once.  I feel as if I would be fine with one or two of our trials, but some days it really seems like the odds are stacked against us.  But it doesn't take me long to remember where I was spiritually before Tyler lost his job, before my health problems, before becoming a mother, before financial uncertainties, before having to put absolute faith and trust in God's will for my family and our future.  I have grown so much since then.  I cannot deny that God is helping me to BECOME who I need to become.

My kiddos and I had the opportunity to go to Gemstone Junction, a rock show at the Weber County Fairgrounds a few weeks ago.  As we oohed and awed at all the beautiful, perfectly smooth and polished rocks, my children asked one vendor there how the rocks become so smooth and perfect.  He showed them his rock tumbler, where he places ordinary-looking rocks.  After tumbling the rock around and around, the rock is freed from any rough edges, becoming a perfect version of itself.  I later talked to the children about how we are like those rocks sometimes.  We come to Earth in a pretty ordinary state, but with great potential.  As God allows us to go through trials and adversity and as we live faithfully, slowly, one trial of faith at a time, we are made perfect, shiny, and beautiful.

I pray that in the meantime, the Lord will feel invited to walk each day with me.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


"I experienced the joy of coming closer to the Savior and of His coming closer to me most often through simple acts of obedience to the commandments."  Henry B. Eyring, "Come Unto Me," General Conference, April 2013

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT -- Revitalized

Last night, for the first time in months, maybe even years, I was able to attend a Relief Society activity.  I was asked to teach couponing for just a few minutes.  There were other teachers for the evening as well.  A good friend of mine, Amanda Kotter, taught about natural cleaning and another lady, Katie Shepherd taught about spiritual spring cleaning.  It was a wonderful meeting and I learned not only about couponing and cleaning, but I heard personal testimonies about the power of personal revelation in overcoming weaknesses.  Amanda spoke for a moment about some specific promptings and guidance she received in response to her petitions, which helped her to overcome bad health habits.  When she started eating only whole foods and cleaning only with natural products, she lost weight, her skin cleared, her mood improved, etc.  She also started a daily habit of positive affirmations to help combat the negativity which had taken over her life.

I have been thinking more and more lately about eliminating more processed food from my diet.  Though I doubt I'll ever be as gung ho about eating clean and cleaning with natural products as Amanda is, it was so nice to hear that God responded to her prayers in such an applicable and timely way.  I know that as I pray for guidance in my quest for physical, emotional, and spiritual health, He will also bless me with the answers I seek.

Going in to the meeting last night, I was kind of a wreck.  It had been a long, stressful day jammed with activities:  work, parent-teacher conferences, orthodontist appointments, shopping and errands, my nephew's mission call, then teaching the workshop.  I am ashamed to say, that with the craziness and stress of the day, I was NOT a nice person.  I was a yelling, grumpy, negative, MESS!  The stress of the last year seemed to accumulate until I was about to explode and by the time I got to the church, I was NOT feeling the spirit and I was trying with all my might to hold back the tears of frustration and stress.

Sister Shepherd talked about how we can eliminate unnecessary stress, distractions, and filth from our lives and our home and shorten the time periods of walking in spiritual darkness.  We all have periods of spiritual darkness, she explained, but we don't have to tarry in the dark.  We need to step into the light as quickly as we realize where we are.  The Lord wants us to walk in the light and He forgives and guides each and every time we ask for deliverance.

When I came home, I spent some time alone before bed reviewing my patriarchal blessing.  I have so many concerns and stresses swirling in my heart and I am so overwhelmed with it all.  Last night I prayed for guidance to know what needed addressing right now and what could wait a little longer.  While reading my blessing, I wrote down each admonition or piece of counsel mentioned.  When I was done writing them, I scored myself on how I felt I was doing on each on a 1-10 scale.  Then, I circled the four lowest scores and decided that these would be my priorities for now. . . for this season of life.  I then wrote some specific goals that I could work on.  As I looked at my list of admonitions from my blessing, I felt overwhelming relief and peace, to the point of tears.  I realized that I had just been given my life syllabus.  The ONLY things I am expected to work on in this life were all there in front of me on one side of a single sheet of paper.

I thought about how Tyler goes to his advisor at USU often to determine what he has accomplished and what courses still need to be completed.  At times, his advisor will even waive a requirement.  I hope that I can take just a few courses from my syllabus at a time, focusing on those with all my energy, knowing that the time to work on the others intensively will come when the season is right.  I pray that God will bless me in my endeavors.  I know that He will.  I pray that as I strive to live more righteously, with more faith, perhaps our life will settle down a little.  I hope to have a little more faith, a little more gratitude, a little more humility.

After reviewing my blessing and setting goals, the Spirit inquired of me:  "What is the desire of your heart?"  I thought for several minutes, then decided that the desire of my heart is to be a better wife and mother and to have more children.  We have known for quite some time, that there is at least one more child waiting to join our family.  I desire nothing more than to get that baby here and to be ready physically, spiritually, and financially for the opportunity to become a mother again.  There is quite a bit to this story, but I'll share that with you another day.  I felt the spirit comfort me and acknowledge my desire.  We'll see what happens.  I felt loved to have been asked that question and it was wonderful to be able to communicate that to my Heavenly Father.

As I was laying in bed last night, I asked my husband the same question:  "What is the desire of your heart?"  He said that his deepest desire is to be with his family for eternity.  I couldn't agree more.  This is real.  The plan of salvation makes that possible.  I know it does.  I have so far to go, but God is so kind.  I know I will never be left alone as long as I am working to become a better person.

Sister Shepherd's closing words last night were:  "He is coming again.  He is coming soon."

I believe that.  And when He comes, I want to be caught doing good.  I want to be caught following a prompting.  I want to be caught helping a neighbor.  I was to be caught attending the temple.  I want to be caught on my knees.  I want to be caught teaching my children the gospel.  I want to be caught taking care of this precious body, a gift from God.  I want to be caught smiling, joyful and grateful for all my blessings.  I can't wait.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I know that this post isn't really the kind of thing I usually write about, but the thoughts in my mind and heart have been so insistent lately and I just wanted to get them down on paper, so to speak.

On Gay Marriage

By Kristen Walton

For weeks, months, and years, I have been searching my heart about the issue of gay marriage. I have finally formulated my opinion on this hot topic and I feel ready to share it with anyone who is interested. Please take the time to read this note in its entirety.

First of all, I do not support gay marriage. I have my reasons for that. They are personal. T...hey are deep-rooted. And, yes, they are based in church doctrine. That being said, I am not naïve enough to suppose that gay marriage will not become legal in the coming years. I think that it will. And soon.

I believe that many gay people are good, loyal, loving, compassionate people, just like many Christians, (but not all) are good, loyal, loving, compassionate people. I believe that they, as I am, are entitled to their agency, their own opinions, and their own convictions.

I believe that as a Christian, a Mormon, it is not my job or calling in life to judge or condemn others based on their beliefs. If gay marriage is legalized, or if it isn’t, my only job on Earth is to love others as Christ would love them. And I’m pretty sure that Christ wasn’t a Bible-thumping, house-burning, propaganda-posting kind of guy. I’m pretty sure that He was the kind of gentle man who reminded us to look within ourselves for the beams in our own eyes.

The way I see it, it’s time to stop seeing the ways in which we differ, and time to look for commonalities. I have a good friend who is covered with tattoos and piercings, physical attributes which I would never choose for my own body. But she is my friend, because we have things in common. I am grateful for her friendship. I am enriched by the stories of her life and the adversity she has overcome.

My church does teach that only marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. And I believe that. But the Church of Latter Day Saints teaches that doctrine gently. It has never, never taught its members to hate, condemn, or judge those who choose a different set of beliefs, no matter what. In fact, the church teaches:

“I wish to say that our opposition to attempts to legalize same-sex marriage should never be interpreted as justification for hatred, intolerance, or abuse of those who profess homosexual tendencies, either individually or as a group. As I said from this pulpit one year ago, our hearts reach out to those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Why We Do What We Do”, General Conference, October 1999).

President Dieter F. Uchdorf also taught:

“Be kind and be glad that God is kind. It is a happy way to live.”

As a member of the LDS faith, I have been taught to be even as Paul: loving, joyful, peaceful, longsuffering, gentle, good, faithful, meek, [and] temperate, (Galatians 5).

If you have met a member of the LDS church who you have felt to be hateful towards gays, please rest assured that they are not living in the way they have been encouraged to live by church leaders.

It troubles me greatly to see two things happening: 1) That I am increasingly discouraged to share my own opinion on gay marriage and 2) that society, as a whole, is unable to discuss matters such as gay marriage with respect and decency. I recently was reading about Joseph Smith’s experiences when he was searching for a church to join in the early 1800’s. He wrote:

“All their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions” (Joseph Smith History, 1:6).

I’m ok with someone else having a different opinion from my own. I’m not personally threatened by that because I do have my own convictions. I try to live what I believe and I allow others the privilege of living what they believe. In fact, our church teaches that men ought to be allowed to worship according to “the dictates of our own conscience” I teach my children what I believe and they teach their children what they believe. (Article of Faith 11). Frankly, it’s not my business what others do in their own bedrooms.

As for all the “hellfire and damnation” talk that is aimed at homosexuals, that’s not really any of my business either. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is a one-on-one, case-by-case application. The plan of salvation is big. It is perfect. It is based in and centered around the precept of love and created by the most loving Being there is. Our Heavenly Father and His Son look on the heart. They know the whole story. They understand desires, intentions, heartaches, aspirations, and disappointments. They desire to bless and reward to the fullest extent possible. I do not see the whole picture. I cannot. They can. There is no absolute mathematical equation leading to heaven. There are simply too many variables. It is not my call to judge others on issues which I do not understand.

Some attribute my beliefs to “blind faith”. I disagree. I have spent my entire life experimenting with my faith. I have paid tithing and have been blessed for it. I have kept the Word of Wisdom and have been blessed for it. I have prayed and my prayers have been answered. I have tried and tried, sometimes quite imperfectly to follow the counsels of the Lord and I have been blessed time and time again. It’s not blind faith. It’s irrefutable and undeniable evidence.

So for me, it comes down to this. Do I believe in gay marriage? No. Do I support it? No. Do I try to love and respect all men, regardless of their personal convictions? Absolutely. Do I hope to be allowed my own beliefs? Yes, please. And in the mean time, I will have gay neighbors, coworkers, and friends. And I hope to be able to associate with them. I hope that I will look for the similarities we share, not for the ways in which we differ. I will teach my children that the fire hose of bigotry has no place in society. I will teach my children the fading art of common decency.