Monday, September 30, 2013


Well, here we are at the end of September.  I have to say, I'm a little disappointed in this month.  i don't think I typically feel that way at this time of year, but this particular September I will not be sad to say goodbye to.  

I have been shockingly unmotivated, unproductive, and unhealthy.  

It is September 30th and my air conditioner has not stopped running round the clock with 90 degree temperatures outside.  

Craig has been struggling with the major decision of whether or not to relocate our family to Birmingham.  

Savannah's birthday month has been riddled with boy challenges, friend challenges, and overloaded schedules.  

Megan is testing out a new "edgy" style, complete with combat boots, lots of black leather, and a less than compassionate attitude toward her friends and family.  

Emma made it into the musical at school.  That's a great thing, but it comes with 10 weeks of intensely busy, 12-hour days, which makes for a tired, grumpy, impatient Emma.

McKay is fine.   He is remarkably untroubled by the chaos that surrounds him.  

Yesterday in church, a friend commented that his family had had an exceptionally challenging few weeks.  His exact words were "wonderfully miserable."  He didn't elaborate on the details of their trials, but it was obvious that their whole family had felt the weight of the difficulties, both large and small.  But instead of complaining (like I just did up there) he said that even though they had experienced a lot of the "miserable" this week, it had been sprinkled with so much intermittent joy that they could not help but stand back at the end of it and be completely grateful for all of their blessings.   They have a son who is about to leave on a two-year mission to California.  They have the blessings of a temple marriage and an eternal family.  And they have immovable testimonies in the Savior and His divine love for them.  I loved what he said and his attitude was contagious.

It's been hard to look at these last few weeks and not just see wreckage.  But I can also look back and see that we've learned lessons, we've grown closer as a family, and we've gained more fervent individual testimonies of the love that Heavenly Father has for each one of us.

Savannah, who has had the most difficult month of all of us, I think, stood up yesterday in Sacrament and talked about the power of prayer.  She said that she prayed about all these difficult things that are currently happening in her life and she asked for help with them, and then she waited and listened for an answer.  She was frustrated when she didn't hear an audible voice or see any angels or feel immediately different.  But then, throughout the month, intermittent joy has been sprinkled around her and her prayers have been answered through other people.  Her seminary teachers are wonderful this year and are able to make the scriptures applicable to her life.  Her sweet birthday buddy (who also happens to be having his own lion's share of challenges) brought over a bouquet of flowers at 7:00 in the morning for her birthday.  Oh, and the guitar.  That was a big hit!  BUT...more than all of those awesome little things, the big giant thing that she realized this week was that she has a family who loves her and she has a safe little place within her home to escape from all the storms that happen at school and at work.  All those things were specific answers to her prayers for help this month.  Not only did she feel that and recognize it, but she felt inspired to SHARE it with everyone at church.  

So, while I'm very grateful that a new month is on it's way in (and hopefully with it, a cooler fall season) I'm also pretty grateful that our September challenges have left us with a lot of miraculous blessings, too.  It's been a "miserably wonderful" month.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Birthday Surprises

Tomorrow is Savannah's birthday.  

Look what we got her!

Isn't it stunningly beautiful???  I seriously cannot stop looking at this thing, it's so gorgeous!

Not only is it pretty, it's also an acoustic-electric guitar which means it's fitted with a magnetic pickup so you can plug it into an amp and not need a mic.  (That just made me sound super guitar smart, but I'm not.  I just spent a lot of time with the guy at the store.)  It also has a built in tuner.  Holy crap, she's going to love it!

I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.  

And I'm ridiculously BAD at keeping secrets.  

AND I have to wait till tomorrow night to give it to her because Craig is in Birmingham.  

Don't tell, k?  Thank goodness she never reads my blog.  :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fallout...and Life Lessons

So, wanna know how the Relief Society lesson went on Sunday??  

My lesson was almost that exact post that I wrote yesterday, but with a lot more discussion about the five principles of a happy marriage that Elder Clayton spoke about in his Conference talk.  You can read the whole talk here.

We can learn so much from watching and then considering what we have seen and felt.  From watching wonderful, faithful marriages, the following guidelines have become clear.

1.  The best marriage partners regard their marriages as priceless.2.  Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of a happy eternal marriage.3.  Repentance and humility build happy marriages.4.  Good marriages are completely respectful, transparent and loyal.5.  Successful couples love each other with complete devotion.

I was super nervous.  And it didn't quite flow the way I had hoped, but I did what I wanted to do with it.  I was real.  I didn't sugar coat anything.  And I opened it up to a lot of discussion which is the best part of teaching a lesson anyway.  We ran just a little bit long, but overall I felt pretty good about the whole thing.  And I got some really nice feedback from some really nice people.  

And a few more people caught me in the hallway after church and said some really nice things, even a few people I have never spoken to before who I admire greatly...from a distance.  It was a nice confidence-building surprise to hear from them.  

But...even with all that positive feedback, guess what I've been stewing over for the last 24 hours?  The two people that I most wanted and expected a response from said nothing.  Like NOTHING.  (...crickets chirping...)  Now, that could mean a lot of things.  It could mean that they didn't have a chance to say anything because I was engulfed by kids and other well wishers.  It could mean they loved it so much that instead of commenting in that busy room, they preferred to send a note.  It could mean that they were just super busy and distracted by the things they needed to get to and didn't have time to say anything to me.  Right??  

But that's not what my head has been saying.  In my head, no comment means they hated the lesson, they are not impressed by vulnerability, they were shocked that I said out loud that I hated anything about Conference.  (I think I actually toned it down a bit and said that I didn't love the talk.  I rarely use that H-word.)  

But, after a little fretting, here's what I've learned from this experience:  It's entirely possible that they hated it.  I might wait for days for an email or a text or a note from those two women and never get one because they didn't actually have anything nice to say about my efforts teaching Relief Society.  

And I'm ok with that.  (Really...)

Because not everyone is going to love everything I do.  (Life Lesson)

In fact, every time I do anything, large or small, there will be people who like it and people who dislike it.  And in my experience, the larger the thing you do, the more of each kind of people you get.  

Here's an illustration of this principle.  I was reading a book the other day and happened to glance up and look out the window at my neighbor who was walking out to get the mail.  She is my age (which makes her well over 40) and she was wearing a denim mini skirt.  For a split second as I watched her walk out to the mailbox, I thought, "I don't think you can pull off that skirt if you're over 40."  

Did you catch that?  

I was a hater.  Right there in my bedroom, watching out the window as my unsuspecting neighbor did something completely innocuous, I became a hater.  I glanced up and caught 30 seconds of that woman's day and had a negative opinion of her skirt.  I criticized her in my head for daring to wear something so short at her age.  My hating lasted all of 20 seconds and then I got right back into my book and forgot all about her, but here's the point of that illustration...

Even something as trivial as walking out to your mailbox draws fans and/or haters.  Who knows, there may have been someone else watching out their window who LOVED her skirt!  I hope so.  

The point is that just the very act of making a decision to walk outside of your house makes you eligible for both positive and negative criticism.  And something as medium-sized as teaching a Relief Society lesson on marriage when you happen to not be an expert at that, and you happen to really dislike the talk you're using, will certainly draw a handful of both fans and haters.  

I lucked out on Sunday and had many more people in the FAN CAMP than in the HATER CAMP.  In fact, those two women who I've been waiting for are the only ones who didn't contribute to the lesson and who didn't say something nice to me after it was over.  

So, in the last few hours I've become ok with the fact that not everyone is going to love everything I do.  Because having haters means I did something worth doing.  It means I didn't turn down the opportunity to teach and just sit at home that day.  I did something mildly scary and I did it pretty well.  I may not ever be asked to do that particular thing again, but it won't be because I didn't try.  And that's really all we can do is TRY!

So, put on your mini skirts today and walk confidently out the front door!  Speak honestly.  Teach with passion.  Be real.  Be YOU.  And OWN it!  Because even though there is no way that everyone is going to love everything you do, YOU should definitely LOVE it.  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Watch and Learn

I love General Conference.  I anxiously look forward to it every April and October.  I'd definitely rank it among the major holidays on the anticipation scale.  I love that we clear the weekend of all interruptions, that we plan huge feasts, and that we devote 8 whole hours over a two day period to watching and learning from the Prophet, his Apostles, and the other General Authorities.  It is truly an exciting event at our house.

Last April, I remember exactly where I was when I heard this specific talk, Watch and Learn, from Elder L. Whitney Clayton in the Sunday morning session of conference.  I was happily making some kind of magic in the kitchen when I heard an unfamiliar voice tell a story about his little granddaughter saying, "Watch and learn, Grandpa."  And as his talk unfolded including guidelines for successful marriages, I felt myself becoming increasingly more and more frustrated and anxious.  I didn't love his talk at all.  Nothing about it was appealing to me, and I remember being physically repelled by the entire thing.  

Believe me, I was conflicted over the experience.  Sure, there have been talks in past Conferences that haven't captured my attention the way some others have.  There have been some speakers whose voices didn't call me from far off parts of the house the way President Eyring's voice or Elder Holland's voice does.  But never in the 20+ years that I've listened to Conference, have I ever had a visceral reaction like the one I had that Sunday in April.  I could hardly wait for the talk to end.  

Typically in the weeks and months after Conference, I like to include the talks in some kind of daily study.  The week after the April 2013 Conference, I started making my way through each of the Conference talks on  But each time I came to Elder Clayton's talk, I would skip it.  Sometime that month, a close friend, who also happens to be a marriage counselor, caught me and said, "Did you hear the talk in Conference about marriage?  I'd like you to read it and tell me what you think because I'm considering using that talk in every counseling session I have from here forward."  I turned him down.  That talk has in fact come up many times in the last 6 months.  And each time I have gone to great lengths to avoid it.  

Until last week...when a member of the RS Presidency called me and asked me to be a substitute teacher this Sunday.  When she said, "Our lesson is on the April Conference talk Watch and Learn, by Elder L. Whitney Clayton."  I laughed, I'm pretty sure right out loud while I was on the phone with her.  And when she asked me if I needed her to email me a link to the talk online, or send a copy over, I laughed again, and said, "Nope, I think it's waiting for me on my Mac upstairs."  

I have lived enough years to know that when a lesson or a person or a principle crosses my path that many times, I need to pay attention.  So I agreed to teach the lesson and then started frantically searching for a little personal humility to be able to study it.  And I heard that familiar little voice in my head saying, "Haunani, you need to check your pride at the door." 

The last two weeks have been challenging as I've spent time becoming intimately acquainted with this talk.  Here are the basic guidelines that Elder Clayton taught:

We can learn so much from watching and then considering what we have seen and felt.  From watching wonderful, faithful marriages, the following guidelines have become clear.

1.  The best marriage partners regard their marriages as priceless.
2.  Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of a happy eternal marriage.
3.  Repentance and humility build happy marriages.
4.  Good marriages are completely respectful, transparent and loyal.
5.  Successful couples love each other with complete devotion.

Nothing earth shattering, huh?  They're not ridiculous or outlandish or even unreasonably hard to accomplish.  They're pretty straight-forward.  They make perfect sense.  And I probably am doing 80% of that stuff at least 80% of the time.  

But here's what I discovered while I read and re-read this talk about 700 times over the past two weeks.  While Elder Clayton was saying "Here are the guidelines for a successful, happy marriage..."  I actually heard, "This is the way to have a happy, successful marriage, and if you have fallen short in any way, or if you fall short in the future in anyway, then...good luck."  I heard, "You have to be perfect."  "You have to do this perfectly."  "This is the most important relationship you will ever have and you cannot mess it up."  Every time I read it, that's what I heard.  And every time I listened to it, that's what I heard.  I finally stopped listening to his voice because even the sound of it after awhile was starting to fill me with hopelessness and despair.  

That's not what he said, though.  The problem I was having with this talk was from faulty hearing, not faulty teaching.  

I've been married for nearly 20 years.  I was not a perfect wife in 1994 and I am no closer to being perfect in 2013.  I fall WAY short on a lot of the things I should be doing to put my marriage at the top of my priority list.  And I've made plenty of mistakes.  I WANT to be perfect.  But I'm disappointingly not even close.  

But here's the thing about that.  

We're not supposed to be perfect.  If we were already perfect wives, mothers, friends, and people, there would be no need for a Savior or an Atonement.  The reason I have any shot at a happy marriage isn't because I can mark things off a checklist every night.  It's because I miss a few, and then regret it, and then get on my knees and ask for help to do better the next day.  There are things that I just naturally stink at, but with the power of the Atonement to change hearts and minds and attitudes and habits, I have hope that I can be better at all those things.  

I've had a huge change of heart about this talk.  I can see the truth in the things Elder Clayton taught.  And I can see the benefit of having guidelines to follow and great examples to watch and emulate.  I also have greater hope in the outcome of my less than perfect marriage.  If there are things I'm not great at, and I have a righteous desire to change those things, there is a way to do that.

"However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made, or talents you think you don't have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love.  It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines."   - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, April 2012 General Conference, Laborers in the Vineyard

I know that those things are true.  I know that the Savior will meet us wherever we are and bring us back to where He is.  No matter how long we have been married, how many times we've messed it up, or how deeply rooted our flaws, there is always an opportunity to change.  

I have a testimony that Heavenly Father is aware of me personally and that He picked this lesson specifically for me to learn and grow from.  And if He knows me and cares about what I'm watching and learning and teaching, then He knows you, too.  Wherever we are is not too far away for Him to find us, to hear our prayers for help, and to change us.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dear Blog,

Dear Blog,

I'm so sorry I've been shamelessly neglectful of you this week.  I promise I haven't forgotten about you.  I haven't been in an accident.  I haven't replaced you with Instagram or the DVR.  

Every morning I have the best of intentions to hang out with you and fill you in on my day, and then something drags my attention away and I never make it back up the stairs.

Monday it was Institute.  Oh, I LOVE being back into the scriptures, but holy cow! Kevin is making my head spin with this Old Testament stuff.  I had to stay after and dissect the lesson with a few friends, and then come home and recap it all with Craig over lunch before I could even think about anything else.  And then the kids were all home from school... 
...and then someone found a toad that night and wanted to PLEASE keep him in the house. 

Tuesday, the toad was gifted to a very kind 6th grade teacher.  There was a Homecoming date possibility for Savannah, an impromptu lunch date with a friend, and a dr's appt, which turned into a day of Googling all the possibilities and worrying and drinking two giant bottles of this yucky stuff...ew, ew ,ew!!

Wednesday, Craig left for Tucson. Savannah's potential Homecoming date fell through.  She stayed home from school due to emotional trauma.  There were more appts, more errands, and a crisis lunch which included lots of life lessons, the imparting of wisdom, and maybe a few baked goods... 

Thursday, there was a relieving phone call that there are no major medical catastrophes to worry about in the near future.  Then a day spent working on a RS Lesson that I CANNOT seem to pull together, and trying to figure out this very pretty, very updated, very different iPhone.  

And now, it's Friday.  Craig comes home in a few hours.  There will be a recap lunch where I will fill him in on all the events he's missed in 2 1/2 days.   And then kitchen restocking, a missionary open house, more baked goods, work schedules, and baseball practice later tonight.  

See, little blog, I haven't neglected you on purpose.  I'll try to do better next week.  Thanks for understanding.    

Friday, September 13, 2013

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday the 13th!  We used to have reservations about this day, but now that we have a little boy whose birthday falls on the 13th and thinks that 13 is the luckiest number he's ever encountered, we embrace all the 13s in our lives.  Here's what's happening around our lucky #13 house this week...

1.  Sky Ranch
McKay had such a great time at his first ever sleep away camp.  Two whole nights and three whole days without his parents or his sisters.  He LOVED it.  Fortunately for me, my neighbor was one of the chaperones for this trip and texted me pictures/updates every few hours.  Hooray for watchful neighbors and successful camp experiences.  

2.  Lunch with the greatest neighbors on the planet!  
Lunch was great...because how can Mexican food not be great!  But I loved the company even more!  My neighbors, Jill and Karryn are the BEST!  (Of course they're not in the picture, because we're always too busy talking to remember to take pictures.) I am SO grateful to know these women.  Their kids are best friends with my kids.  They are surrogate parents, alternate carpool drivers, additional sets of watchful eyes, house sitters, emergency contacts, and most of all...dear, dear friends.  I could not have picked better people to live next door to and across the street from.

3.  11:11
Do you see this time of the day as often as I do?  I know, it happens just twice every 24 hours, but I seem to ALWAYS catch it every time it rolls around.  I don't know if it's lucky, or if I'm supposed to make a wish then, or if it means someone's thinking of me, but it's a fun coincidence that I've noticed A LOT lately.  I recently watched this blog video post on why all those 1111's cross our paths so often.  A little way out there, but kinda interesting.  

4.  Emma's Show Choir Dress
(please ignore the lovely bathroom background...)  Emma's show choir dress finally arrived.  We had to custom order the sizes, so they took a little longer to get here, but they turned out SO cute!  The color looks kinda purple in the picture, but it's actually a gorgeous royal blue.  It's so flowy and girly and will be so much fun to dance in.  The boys' will have matching royal blue vests and bow ties.  I can't wait to see them perform.  

5.  McKay's Clean Room
This has been on my list of things to do since we got back from Florida, but I just kept putting it off.  The kids all have their daily and weekly chores that they are responsible for, but every so often (usually right after school gets out and right after Christmas) we have to do some MAJOR cleaning and purging.  I decided to finally take on this job without McKay around to help (which made it so much easier and less traumatic.)  I got rid of a whole trash bag full of trash and half a box of old toys and clothes that don't fit.  Hopefully it'll stay like this for a while after he gets home.  

Hope this Friday the 13th is a great one for you and that you're having a wonderful September!  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

DVR Purging and Spaghetti

Earlier this week, I had a surprisingly free, unscheduled day and was stuck at home with no car.   Sometimes having all four kids in school and having 6 whole hours to myself isn't such a great thing.  I started with the DVR-purging that is such a happy alternative to vacuuming the house and doing laundry.  I have a million food shows recorded...Master Chef, Top Chef, Pioneer Woman, Trisha's Southern Kitchen.  I happily pinned recipes and deleted episodes and felt such a feeling of accomplishment in just the first 2 hours of my day.  

But then, when all of my shows were gone, instead of moving on to some other more productive activity, I just stayed and wandered around on the guide...I should have known better.   I started with some fun, mindless stuff...The Chew, Say Yes to the Dress, What Not to Wear.  Then not long after, I gave in and watched some of the most ridiculous television I have ever seen...Life with Latoya (ugh...just the sound of her voice made me want to change the channel,) Raising Whitley (she's actually pretty funny and I stuck around for FOUR whole episodes of that one,) Swamp Murders, Snapped, Dance Moms, and Abby's Ultimate Dance Challenge.  Yep...can you see the rapid degeneration???  Boy, it doesn't take long for mild and mindless to turn into trashy and awful. 

I was shocked and horrified by most of the shows I watched, but I just sat there with my mouth open and barely moved from the couch even to get a drink!  It was terrible, but I was riveted.  Why is the sensational so enticing?  I don't know a single person like those dance moms.  I have been a PTA member, a room parent, a choir booster, a baseball mom, and now a Show Choir mom, and not once have I ever thrown a drink in another mom's face or yanked my kid out of a rehearsal.  Do people really behave like that?  

Forever ago, there was a story that I heard somewhere about being careful with entertainment.  Something about...mindless channel surfing (or internet surfing or even radio surfing sometimes) is like allowing the TV to feed you garbage.  Would you ever walk into a restaurant and let the waiter scoop spaghetti off the floor and serve it to you?  Nope.  So why would you just let the TV programmers and producers do that in your home?  Ew...

At the end of that day, I felt like my head was filled with gross spaghetti, like I had held my poor spirit hostage on that couch all day, and like I just needed a complete detox.   

That made me think about that quote we hear so often in General Conference...

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.” - Alexander Pope
I don't want to get too familiar with the faces and actions on my TV.  I don't want to fill my head with the untruths of reality TV that life is a competition, that bigger is better, and that if no one is looking, you're nothing.  I definitely don't want to get so comfortable with those Dance Moms that I want to embrace them.  There are so many trivial, mundane, beautiful things that happen in my little life that I am so thankful for.  They will never be interesting enough to be followed by thousands or written about in People magazine, but I am so grateful for them everyday.  

Today, I decided to turn off the TV and wade through the ocean of Legos in McKay's room, refill bathroom cabinets with toilet paper, have lunch with some friends, and write notes to a few people who I really love.  It's not glamorous, but it's so worth it.  And it's so much better than spending the day eating spaghetti off the floor.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Upside Down #5

Baseball season has (officially) started again for us.  Although with McKay around, baseball season is sort of a perpetual thing.  

Our team was a little late coming together before their first game, so the parents opted for matching royal blue t-shirts, socks, and hats with grey pants instead of ordering professionally made jerseys.  One of the moms found some iron-on numbers for us and POOF! team uniforms came together.  

McKay's first game was Saturday night at 8:00p and as usual, we had about 4 million other things scheduled for the day.  I ran around with the girls to their various activities in the morning, ran home in between to trade out cars and kids, grab cameras, and hurry out the door for the next thing.  By 3:00 that afternoon, I had found all the pieces of McKay's uniform and dragged the ironing board out to quickly iron his number on the back of his shirt before I had to run out the door to the next thing.  I'm not an iron-on expert or anything, but I was pretty impressed with myself for centering the number and ironing the whole thing on without any problems.  It was quick, easy, and for the first time in about 3 years, his whole uniform cost less than $20.  (...hallelujah!)

I handed the shirt to McKay to make sure it looked as perfect on his little body as it did on the ironing board, and I noticed that something looked weird to me...  

What do you think?  Anything look funny to you??  Yep, what I thought was supposed to be a 2 was actually a 5.  Eek!  So much for my newly acquired iron-on skills.  With three more things to do and less than 4 hours left before the game, there was no way to get a new shirt and a new number.   McKay was mortified.  But we consoled him by assuring him that if he could live with it for this game, we would figure something else out before the next one.  He's a pretty easy going kid, so off he went with Craig to the ball field for pre-game practice, while I went to the church to be a photographer for an event.  (more on that later...) 

During some downtime at my event, I had this happy text conversation with Craig...

Instant confidence boost.  In about five minutes I went from "ridiculously inept with an iron" to "clever."  I'm good with clever.  And McKay no longer wants me to get a new number or fix his shirt.  He would like me to stop calling him "upside down #5" though.  We'll just go with #2.  Because underneath all that catcher's gear, you can't even really see what number is on his shirt.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

High Five for Friday

Phew this week has been so crazy busy!  We have been launched right into another school year.  Here are a few of the things I remembered to take pictures of and be grateful for this week.

1.  Early Morning Seminary
Love that my high school girls get to start their days armed with the power and spirit of the scriptures.  And I love that they are so happy to be there.  <3

2.  Savannah's Hair
She decided to go get her hair cut while I was in Vegas and didn't even tell me until I walked out of the airport and saw her cute sassy cut!  It is adorable and SO her!  We all love her sassy, adventurous spirit.

3.  Fixing Cars

McKay got to happily tag along with Craig and his boy scouts while they worked on their Mechanics merit badge.  (McKay's the short one in the back who can stand up straight underneath that Porsche.)

4.  Football Season in Allen

Texas high school football season is upon us once again.  I love the games, but I REALLY love the BAND!  Love that sound filling the stadium and LOVE those 800 kids filling the field.  Go EAGLES!

5.  Missionaries at the Football Game

Can you see all those little white shirts sprinkled in the front rows of the stands?  Those are LDS missionaries who got special permission to attend an Allen football game because, can't really serve part of your mission in the Allen area and NOT be in that amazing stadium.  Besides, there are 18,000 people available to talk to about the gospel!  Go missionaries!

Have a happy, safe, wonderful first weekend of September!  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Yesterday was a potentially frustrating and exhausting day.  I had overscheduled the day after a long weekend, thinking that I would make up for the things I had missed while I was playing in Las Vegas. 

Here's what my day looked like:

Crazy huh?  

I got up at 6:00am (twenty minutes before my alarm) and panicked a little because I still hadn't quite gotten used to the morning routine of a new school year.  The girls were already off to seminary but it was too early to wake the other two, and I really felt like I needed that extra 20 minutes of sleep.  So I set out breakfast ingredients and hopped back into bed.  But the lists in my brain were already running wild, so all I did was panic for 20 more minutes.  

And then I found this in my email box:
"This month, especially if you have a lot to do, try doing more of nothing.If you don’t meditate at all, try 10 minutes a day. If you do meditate,double your time. Then notice the velocity at which things get done.If you don’t notice an improvement in a week, quit. But give it an honest try."
~Doing Nothing… Insight From Martha

Unfortunately that is contrary to everything I typically think on a day like yesterday.  I always make time for a prayer, but on days when I start early and run fast, I usually have an abbreviated version of my morning meditation.  But, I firmly believe that things cross our paths for a reason...quotes, experiences, friends, etc.  So I stopped what I was doing, and took some time to find a quiet place and double the time I normally spend in prayer.   Oh man, was it hard!  On mornings when I have no plans and no one waiting for me, I like to have long leisurely prayers.  So I thought I'd increase "long and leisurely" to "all inclusive and really intent."  

At first, I had to really force myself to be calm and deliberate with my words instead of hurrying through.  I didn't really have 10 minutes to pray much less 20!  The lists in my head distracted me for awhile and I had trouble thinking of sincere words.  And then, I turned off all the outside noise and just started listing out loud all the things I'm grateful for.  And when I thought I was finished, I made myself think of a few more.  After I felt like I had covered absolutely everything, I asked for help to be open to the influence of the Spirit throughout the day, to act quickly on the things I heard, and to be uplifting and useful in the things I had to do.  And then, even though I felt pulled to get up off my knees and start moving, I stayed and listened.  Those are always the best times...when it's quiet enough to hear specific instruction from the Lord.  

22 minutes later I finished getting dressed and went about my day.

Here are the things that I noticed...

  • My typically chatty and overbooked dentist office was unusually efficient and I got out of there in a record 20 minutes.  
  • I used that 30 minutes to catch up on emails and school forms that still needed to be filled out.
  • I had a 30 minute break in my 10:00-1:40 volunteer shift at the school, so I got to have lunch which always makes me happy. 
  • I had time after volunteering at the school to pick up the extras for dinner, come home and put them all away, and cut up fruit for dinner.
  • I had time to have a "snack and chat" with my kiddos after school and still get homemade calzones in the oven for the missionaries who arrived at our house for dinner at 5:00.
  • I met McKay's baseball coach.  
  • I made it everywhere I needed to be on time.
  • I was in a great, happy, positive, unrushed mood ALL DAY LONG!
I want to write this down because I want to remember ALWAYS...especially the next time a crazy day rolls around...that when you set the tone for the day with sincere prayer, the whole day is more manageable and fulfilling.  

There were plenty of things that could have gone wrong yesterday.  There were potentially frustrating people and situations that might have pushed me over a few ledges.  But none of those things happened.  Instead, I had more time than I expected to have.  I got more done than I expected to.  And I was happy doing all of it.  

That little quote is going up on my bulletin board and I will be teaching that principle to all my children.  Take time to acknowledge Heavenly Father, to be grateful for the things you've been given, and he will bless your life in ways you cannot even imagine.  

I'm grateful for an awesome day, for the power of prayer, and for a Heavenly Father who is aware of each one of us and wants us to be happy.

Monday, September 2, 2013


I'm so happy to be home from Las Vegas.  I LOVED the time I was able to spend with my mom while I was there...really loved it, and I'll have to write a more detailed post on that later, but oh, Las Vegas is SO not for me.  Dimly-lit casinos with no windows and no clocks.  The constant ching-ching-ching of slot machines.  People milling around everywhere with no real purpose but to move to the next machine.  The haze of smoke.  Girls with nearly nothing on.  Free drinks.  

My mom is light.  She carries that with her.  Even in the dingiest, smokiest casino, she smiles, connects, and uplifts.  It was such a joy to follow her around and to know that she is where I come from and that I have been blessed with a similar handful of super powers.  We walk the same way.  We talk to everyone the same way.  We are so similar it's shocking sometimes.  

But despite the wonderful feeling of bonding with my mom for three days, I couldn't get over the emptiness I felt in those hotels and casinos.  On Saturday evening, when I got off the plane in Dallas and jumped into a van filled with teenagers who wanted to talk to me, I breathed a sigh of relief.  Even though there were no neon lights in my house, no fireworks when I got home, no live music and no money falling from the sky, I was so happy to be back there with my little family.  

On Sunday, I felt a similar feeling.  I walked into our sparsely decorated, unadorned church building on Sunday morning and felt love and peace and contentment.  I could see everyone clearly because it was well lit and there was no smoky haze.  I heard the familiar, discernible words of the hymns we sang.  I looked at the happy faces of people I love and listened to them share their heartfelt testimonies and I knew we were all connected.  

I found the contrast so stark it completely surprised me.  Las Vegas is larger than life.  It's sparkly and gilded and dripping with money and beautiful people, but I couldn't feel the Spirit there.   When I walked into my house on Saturday night, though, and into the church building on Sunday morning, I felt overwhelming love and gratitude that those are the places I get to spend my time.

The theme for the youth this year is Stand Ye in Holy Places.  This trip reminded me of the difference between being where the Spirit is and being where it isn't.   I have been in places before, both spiritually and physically, where the Spirit was NOT.  And I am grateful to know the difference between the way each of those places feels.   I'm grateful for quiet places to pray and listen for answers.  I'm grateful to be surrounded by people who long for a similar feeling.  And I'm grateful for the experience of standing in a not so holy place so that I could better recognize the wonderful, holy places that are around me everyday.