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Thursday, May 23, 2013

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT -- The Miracle of Life

Yesterday was bittersweet.  A new friend of mine, LaDena K., said goodbye to her sweetheart, Mark, after he had battled sarcoma for several years.  I met LaDena and Mark on the day of my friend, Trent Rasmussen's, funeral.  I had chatted with LaDena briefly, as a mutual friend of the Rasmussen's, on Facebook the day Trent died to let her know when the funeral was planned.  After chatting with her, I felt an instant connection with her.  When I overheard her speaking with someone in the lobby the morning of Trent's funeral, I introduced myself to her and we ended up sitting together for the service.  While waiting for the funeral to begin, she told me that her husband was battling the same cancer that Trent had battled.  Though in a great deal of pain and discomfort, Mark came into the chapel to listen to the service and pay honorable tribute to his fellow warrior.  LaDena and I talked amiably, not as new friends, but as good friends.  It felt as if I had always known her.

We have continued our friendship via Facebook, and I have followed her faith-inspiring blog, www.ourbeautifulheartache.blogspot.com.  I have been forever changed by this couple.  Their love for the Lord, their desire to do and accept His will in all things, their love for each other, have inspired me to live with more deliberate discipleship, and to live each day to the fullest.

Yesterday, I also had the opportunity to go to my first prenatal appointment.  I heard this little one's heartbeat for the first time.  As always, it was such an amazing and spiritual experience.  I feel so humbled that my Father in Heaven, knowing all my flaws and weaknesses as a mother, feels confident enough in my abilities to send our family another baby.

I have also been thinking about many of my good friends who have been asked to deal with infertility as a challenge in this life.  My heart aches for them.  I know that their struggles are some of the most painful challenges that the mama heart may be called to bear in this life.  I love them and though my heart is full to overflowing, I honor these very special ladies.  I truly admire their resilience and fortitude.  I know that they will bear children...many, if not in this life, then in time to come.  I believe that women who deal with limited fertility must be, in many ways, some of God's choicest spirits.  He has special blessings awaiting them.  I know He does.

I feel so blessed as I think of God's plan of salvation.  It occurs to me that this gospel is true and that the promised blessings He promises are real.  I feel it in my heart so strongly as I type these words, that I can never deny it.  This gospel is true and real.  And I know that living the gospel faithfully, even through our darkest hours WILL bring unimaginable blessings.  I testify these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT -- Stronger than Darkness

This morning, I read President Uchdorf's masterpiece of a talk:  "The Hope of God's Light", which you can read here:  http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/the-hope-of-gods-light?lang=eng

President Uchdorf told a story about a young girl who was brutally and repeatedly abused from the age of three to the time she became an adult at age 18.  She then was finally able to escape her abuser and move far away to begin going to school.  At this time, she was introduced to the gospel.  For the first time in her life, she learned that there was light.  I can only imagine how that realization must have felt for one who had lived her entire childhood with the fear that each day could have been her last.

As she grew older, memories of her troubled past began to haunt her and threatened to consume her and drag her back into the darkness of her youth.  She attended counseling, received medication, and searched within herself and also searched the gospel's teachings.  What she eventually came to believe was that there will always be darkness, but there will also always be light.  She chose to dwell in the light.  She went on to become a schoolteacher, touching hundreds of young lives with her love and compassion.  She became a fearless defender of the weak and oppressed and dedicated her life to helping others through their own seasons of darkness.

In the past few months, there has been so much darkness in the headlines.  I like to be aware and educated about current events and I often check news websites for updated information.  During the Newtown shootings, the Boston bombing, the Jodi Arias trial, etc., I found myself curious about the latest developments, to the point that I was checking the news at least once a day, sometimes more.  I would read each article, word-for-word, trying to learn all I could about the events.  Before long, I began to feel overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and moodiness at home.  One morning, as I was booting up my computer to read the headlines which had so captivated my interest, the spirit inquired of me:  "Do you really want to go there today?"  I paused and took a deep breath, realizing that I did not want to dwell in the darkness any longer.  Instead, I chose to spend the day doing only those things that would be uplifting.

I am so grateful for the technology which allows me to try to share light with the whole world via my blog and via Facebook.  There is good all around us, even on the web, but the internet can most certainly become a dark and seductive place for those who are not on our guard at all times.  I have been inspired by several women who have used the internet as a platform to spread happiness and light to the world.  Here are some of my favorite, uplifting websites:


I hope that my website inspires others by allowing them to see my desire to dwell in the light during even the hardest days.  Getting to know my readers, their stories, and their testimonies, makes it that much easier to find the light in my life.  Thank you.


"Isn’t it wonderful to know that we don’t have to be perfect to experience the blessings and gifts of our Heavenly Father? We don’t have to wait to cross the finish line to receive God’s blessings. In fact, the heavens begin to part and the blessings of heaven begin to distill upon us with the very first steps we take toward the light.

The perfect place to begin is exactly where you are right now. It doesn’t matter how unqualified you may think you are or how far behind others you may feel. The very moment you begin to seek your Heavenly Father, in that moment, the hope of His light will begin to awaken, enliven, and ennoble your soul." --Dieter F. Uchdorf

Friday, May 17, 2013

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT -- Faith, Prayer, Desires

This morning I read the following verse in Enos:

"And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith."

I love this!  I feel that this verse is really a key principle in all we do or desire to accomplish in life.  God can usually only grant us the desires of our hearts after much effort on our parts.  We have to pray for it.  We have to work hard.  We have to study the scriptures so we know what to desire...what is righteous and what is not.  By doing these preliminary steps, we are exercising the requisite faith, thus enabling God to bless us, which is the desire of His heart! 

In verse 17 of the same chapter, it further explains:

"And I, Enos, knew it would be according to the covenant which he had made; wherefore my soul did rest."

In other words, once we have covenanted with God, once promises have been made, we can rest, knowing that if God promises a blessing, it WILL come to pass as long as we are striving to make it so.  He will handle the rest, so we can stop worrying, fretting, and obsessing.  Through Him, we can receive the strength and patience to "wait upon the Lord"... to "be still and know that [He] is God."

Thursday, May 16, 2013


From:  "Children" by Neil L. Anderson, General Conference, October, 2011

Years ago, Elder James O. Mason of the Seventy shared this story with me: “The birth of our sixth child was an unforgettable experience. As I gazed on this beautiful, new daughter in the nursery just moments after her birth, I distinctly heard a voice declare, ‘There will yet be another, and it will be a boy.’ Unwisely, I rushed back to the bedside of my absolutely exhausted wife and told her the good news. It was very bad timing on my part.”5 Year after year the Masons anticipated the arrival of their seventh child. Three, four, five, six, seven years passed. Finally, after eight years, their seventh child was born—a little boy...

It was not in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve bore their first child. Leaving the garden, “Adam [and Eve] began to till the earth. … Adam knew his wife, and she [bore] … sons and daughters, and [acting in faith] they began to multiply and to replenish the earth.”11

It was not in their Jerusalem home, with gold, silver, and precious things, that Lehi and Sariah, acting in faith, bore their sons Jacob and Joseph. It was in the wilderness. Lehi spoke of his son Jacob as “my first-born in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness.”12 Lehi said of Joseph, “Thou wast born in the wilderness of [our] afflictions; yea, in the days of [our] greatest sorrow did thy mother bear thee.”13

In the book of Exodus, a man and woman married and, acting in faith, had a baby boy. There was no welcoming sign on the front door to announce his birth. They hid him because Pharaoh had instructed that every newborn male Israelite should be “cast into the river.”14 You know the rest of the story: the baby lovingly laid in a little ark made of bulrushes, placed in the river, watched over by his sister, found by Pharaoh’s daughter, and cared for by his own mother as his nurse. The boy was returned to Pharaoh’s daughter, who took him as her son and called him Moses.

In the most beloved story of a baby’s birth, there was no decorated nursery or designer crib—only a manger for the Savior of the world.

In “the best of times [and] … the worst of times,”15 the true Saints of God, acting in faith, have never forgotten, dismissed, or neglected “God’s commandment … to multiply and replenish the earth.”16 We go forward in faith—realizing the decision of how many children to have and when to have them is between a husband and wife and the Lord. We should not judge one another on this matter.


I have to start this very long post with a picture:


I have been needing to record the story leading up to this exciting announcement.  Right now the series of remarkable spiritual experiences are just floating around in my memory.  Hopefully I will be able to remember everything and get it down on paper.

When Macey, my youngest, was born, the delivery was one of the most profoundly spiritual experiences I have ever had.  I had heard others speak of deliveries as being miraculous and wonderful, but truthfully my other labors had consisted of pain and, well...agony.  But this delivery was so special.  The veil was very thin and the spirit was nearly tangible.  In fact, the doctor remarked later, with tears in his eyes that it had been one of the most special and touching of his career.  After Macey arrived safe and sound, the nurse started cleaning her up and checking her vitals near where I was recovering.  As I gazed on my little sweetie, a voice whispered to my heart:  "There is yet another baby to join your family."  It was the most undeniable prompting I have ever received.

It turned out that the timing of this prompting was perfect.  Just one year after Macey was born, our life was turned upside down with Tyler losing his job.  Our financial security was overturned and all that had been predictable in our life, became uncertain.  Without this prompting, fear very well may have convinced us to consider our family complete.

In 2010, I began my Weight Watchers journey and aided by the Lord, was able to loss 76 pounds in a year and a half. 

In October, 2011, my life was changed by the conference address:  "Children", by Neil L. Anderson.  In the talk, Elder Anderson spoke of an experience his friend, Elder Mason had, where he was prompted directly after his wife gave birth, that there was "yet another" baby meant to join their earthly family.  Elder Mason's experience was so similar to mine that it stood as a second witness of the truthfulness of my prompting.  Elder Anderson's talk also spoke of how we shouldn't put off having children because of earthly concerns or financial concerns.  He spoke of how Lehi (and many others) in scripture had bourne children while in the wilderness and these children had grown to be faithful adults due to the faith of their parents.  The talk was beautiful and reassuring.  And as I felt the Lord's call to duty, I was just a bit frightened.  I didn't want to lose the ground I had gained in my weight-loss battle.  I wanted to lose even more before having children.  So I asked God for one more year.  I promised him that I would have a "meeting" with him the following October during general conference and then, if I still felt the nudgings to start trying for our baby, I would be obedient then.  I didn't realize it at the time, but by putting off my obedience for a year, I was pitting my own will against my Heavenly Father's.  Oops.

IThe moment I put my will ahead of His, he withdrew his help in my weight-loss efforts.  I began slipping, losing ground, gaining, roller-coastering, doubting, struggling, etc.  I made virtually no progress in the year I had pleaded for.  It was a frustrating experience.  I had put off the Lord's errand and I was no longer entitled to His aid.

As promised, I "met" with my Heavenly Father sooner than I promised, in September actually, and submitted myself to His will.  With heart pounding and hands sweating and trembling, I called and scheduled an appointment to have my IUD removed.  During the October session of conference, there was a talk about how an airplane needs two wings to fly properly:  the analogy showed one wing as being logic, and the other wing being faith.  I had been trying to fly myself with only the wing of logic.  I now needed to exercise faith.

While I waited for the appointment, I spoke with some friends of mine with large families and they reassured me that God really does help things to work out somehow. These conversations helped me more than these sisters will ever know!

My appointment was in October, 2012.  I remember the morning of the appointment well.  I was nervous, panicked, worried, perhaps even doubtful.  (I recognize these traits now as coming from the adversary).  I wondered if I could do this thing.  I wondered if I were about to make a mistake.  We couldn't afford a baby!  What would I do if I got pregnant?  Would I quit my job?  How would we configure our already crazy schedules?  Etc.  I fell to my knees and prayed.  With tears running down my face, I sat on my bed and opened my laptop.  I went to lds.org and watched Elder Anderson's talk about children again.  I was crying like a baby now, and my appointment was only minutes away!  Watching the talk again brought me the resolution I needed and I walked much more confidently out to the car and drove, puffy eyes and all, to my appointment.

Later that afternoon, I was straightening the living room.  As I walked past the piano, I heard a voice say very clearly:  "Today is a day of great rejoicing!"  Wow.  It was powerful!

The following month, our family dealt with some major illness especially for Katie, my second child, who had several scary weeks.  At one point during dealing with her sickness, she was taking a nap in my bed, while I worked on the computer next to her.  I was completely overwhelmed and sleep-deprived in this moment, so I closed my eyes and spent a few moments meditating to calm myself.  When I opened my eyes, I noticed that Katie was now awake and looking toward the doorway of my bedroom.  There was a child standing there.  The child was too small to be any of my other children, so Katie and I were both confused.  I couldn't see any facial features, more of just a silhouette, and I couldn't exactly tell by the silhouette if the child was male or female.  Katie and I both whispered to each other quietly for a moment, then just like that the child was gone!

Starting in October, I started gaining weight again.  Lots of weight!  It was a trial of my faith and resolve.  Would I ask for more time again, so I could get to a healthier weight before conceiving?  Or would I trust that the Lord would bless me with health and common sense and determination and with a safe pregnancy?  I chose to listen NOW this time and not put off this important prompting any longer! 

Once I was off birth control, I was a little surprised that it took almost eight months to get pregnant.  It was a time of complete trust in the Lord's timing and submission to His will.  If it took a while, we would welcome that as time to get ourselves better prepared.  If it happened right away, we would thank the Lord for that! 

I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago how while studying my patriarchal blessing, I was asked by the spirit, about the desire of my heart.  I then replied that the desire of my heart was to be a better wife and mother and to have more children.  I didn't know it at the time, but I was pregnant during this spiritual communication!

The most recent experience happened just yesterday.  I was feeling yucky due to fatigue and morning sickness and the children were all at school, so I laid down on my bed.  I didn't intend to fall asleep, but I did, without an alarm set!  As 12:00 approached (preschool pick-up time), a very clear little voice awoke me:  "Mommy!  Mommy, get up now!"  I knew that I had received help from our little angel and was grateful not to arrive late to get Macey from preschool, especially since I had just gotten a new cell phone with a new number and her teachers wouldn't have had any way to reach me if I had been late!

I am overcome with many emotions at this time.  We are still living day-to-day financially and otherwise, and the doubts of our stability and readiness to become a family of seven (!) do tend to bob up to the top once in a while, but I am getting better at pushing those doubts back down whenever they threaten.  I am trying, with all the concerns about my health, etc., to choose joy and faith.  There is plenty of joy as I start thinking about this baby and about how long we have been waiting for he or she to join us!  I feel so blessed!  I know that when I am on the Lord's errand (which I am!), I am entitled to His blessing!  I know that choosing to have our fifth child is a decision I will never regret.  I look forward to meeting this little one.  I know this child's sweet, strong, insistent spirit already because I have felt it with me consistently since the moment of Macey's birth.  God is so good.  And we are so blessed!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT -- The Center of His Will

A few months ago, Ronald Frandsen, my stake president, said something so profound and touching that it has changed the way I view my life.  He said, "The safest place to be is in the center of God's will."

Since that time I have thought many times about the way I am living my own life.  Am I doing the things that God would have me do?  Am I allowing His Spirit to guide my daily decisions, big and small?  Am I aware of His commandments?  Am I keeping them?  Am I communicating daily, asking for further guidance each step of the way?

Several years ago, Tyler had a very good job with a locally based engineering company.  We were very happy with him working there.  The pay was good, the benefits were fine, and his coworkers all felt like a family to us.  We were very happy.  Then, a bigger, national engineering company moved to town.  We researched this new company, knowing that Tyler was highly qualified to work there, wondering if it was time to move on from his current position.  As we conducted this research, we found that the benefits package for this bigger company was very impressive, including attractive and very large bonuses, profit sharing, top-notch health care, tuition reimbursement for the whole family, etc.  We soon had dollar signs in our eyes and Tyler applied for the new company.  Soon, he had interviewed with the new company and one day was offered a position.

I remember that day well.  Tyler asked the supervisor if he might have a few hours to discuss the offer with me, and then he would call back.  We sat in the living room, on the couch, and prayed and discussed the offer.  We felt guided to tell the new company no and to stay put.  Tyler called the supervisor back and kindly thanked him, then rejected the offer.  The supervisor knew that Tyler was highly qualified and wouldn't take no for an answer.  He offered Tyler more money.  As I sat there, listening to only half of the conversation, I began to sense Tyler's excitement as the wage offered to him increased again and again.  Finally, I nodded my head, and Tyler accepted the offer.  It was too good to refuse.

Long story short, after over two years of a very stressful set of circumstances, Tyler's employment with this company was terminated.  It was a very difficult lesson for our family about the importance of living within God's will and trusting His omniscience.

It has now been three and a half years since Tyler lost his job.  In that time, his employment has been transient.  He has worked at a local juvenile detention facility since then, and has also worked several other jobs to help make ends meet.  I have also worked at two different insurance offices, trying to make up the difference.  We have gone to making about one third of what we used to make.  Now, Tyler is a full-time student AND a full-time employee (Superman!)

From these experiences, we have learned several lessons which we may not have learned any other way, so although the road has been rocky, in a way, I am grateful for the detour.  First, we have developed unwavering trust in God's will.  We have learned not to counsel Him, but to take counsel from His hand.  We have learned that there is power in loyalty.  We have learned to appreciate the things that matter most:  faith and family.  We have learned to appreciate each other, to listen to each other, and to show gratitude to each other.  We have learned to accept help from others during the very hardest times.  We have learned many lessons on thrift.  We have a greater desire to live frugally and desire to be temporally independent.  We have learned to act on and trust the promptings of the Spirit, trying hard not to doubt or fear, sometimes without seeing the wisdom in the promptings until much later.  We have learned to appreciate service from others and to look forward to opportunities to serve whenever they come.  We have learned to be more compassionate and forgiving, realizing that there are no charmed lives and that everyone has trials at one point or another.  We have learned to find beauty and magic in life's ordinary moments.

I love that God has taken a mistake and has transformed it into a tapestry of lessons learned, testimony gained, and wisdom garnered.  He has readily forgiven us for our follies and has made us wiser.  We now know that there is safety in living in the center of His will.  By the grace and goodness of our loving Heavenly Father, we have found growth and possibility as we have wandered in our own wilderness.  He is so very good.  I thank and praise Him for His everlasting lovingkindness.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT: Peace, Glorious Peace!

I prayed for peace the other day and I have it.  My life is beautiful.  My family is beautiful.  My Savior is aware of me.  I received a powerful confirmation of all of these facts yesterday.  It is too personal and sacred to share (at this time), but I want to express my gratitude to my loving Father.

I watched "Facing the Giants" last night, which is one of my favorite movies.  It was produced by a Baptist media company and though I am Mormon, I would certainly consider it "virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy."  It is such an uplifting and fun movie!  I can never get through it without shedding some serious tears (neither can my husband, but don't tell him I told you that).

The basic message of the movie is that we should work as hard as we can, preparing our fields for rain, preparing for God's blessings, then leave the rest up to Him.  If those blessings come, we thank Him.  If they don't come, or if it seems like our prayers are being answered in an unexpected or even an unwelcomed way, we still thank Him and praise Him.  I want to bear testimony that this principle has worked for me in my life.  It has worked time and time again.

I have seen some adversity in my life but I have tried to stand as firm as possible, with hope that by God's grace all things will work out for good for those who love Him.  And even with life's ups and downs, I have found His love to be constant, even in the times when my love for Him was not.  He cares deeply for me.  He knows my name and He takes note of my struggles.  He rejoices when I rejoice.  He cries when I cry.  He longs to have me return to Him.  He is good.  His lovingkindness is my anchor in this crazy world.  His Son is my Friend, my Brother, my Physician, my Counselor, my Savior.

I don't understand all things, but knowing that He can see the end from the beginning is enough.  All I need to do is to plant myself firmly in the center of His will.  If I am found standing with Him and for Him, I will never be alone.  Never.  Ever.

I love Him so much.  I love that He loves me.