Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Jar of Happiness

Last night for our Family Home Evening (FHE), I introduced an idea that we may keep for a Christmas tradition. Our family is going to focus on good things. Whether it is service, being obedient, helping someone, sharing or just playing nicely--if it makes someone happy then it qualifies.

The idea is that these are things that Jesus would like us to do. Things that will make Him happy--a birthday gift of sorts.

Here's how it works: Each time someone does something "happy," then they will add straw into our gallon jar. By the time we get to Christmas Eve, we will hopefully have enough straw to make a bed for the baby Jesus in our Nativity scene (we like to act it out to help us remember the true reason for Christmas).

What I did:
I took one gallon jar and printed off a Nativity picture, which I then used craft glue to stick to the jar. I tied a ribbon around it--I have no real crafty skills, but this needed a little festive color. Next, I had a miniature bale of hay for decorations that I have not been using, so we are using that hay to fill the jar with. We've already had a few "happy" moments, hence the hay in the bottom. We just put in a pinch at a time.

I'm hoping this will help my kids to become closer to our Savior by doing what He would do for us if He were here. And, of course, to remember what, or rather, WHO we should be celebrating at Christmas.

Mosiah 2:17 "...that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."







© Wendy 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Keeping Christ in 'Christ'mas

The holiday season is upon us. For Christians, it is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the deep religious reason for the season is frequently buried deep in commercialism, stress, debt, busyness and other things that distract our hearts and minds away from the Lord.

It takes effort to keep your family focused on Christ rather than unnecessary wants. Here are a few ideas to keep Christ as a prevalent part of your family's celebrations.

  • Display Nativities as part of your Christmas decor. Nativities are beautiful depictions that usually portray Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus. They often include wise men, angels and animals as well. Incorporating these images will help bring Christ to the forefront of our thoughts.
  • Focus less on Santa, and more on Jesus. Santa isn't all bad. He is very giving, he wants us to be good, and tries to spread happiness. Similarly, the Savior also has those traits, but is much more. We celebrate Christmas because we can rejoice that He came to earth so that we can repent and return home to Heaven one day. A book that I've shared with my children is "I Believe in Santa Claus." I love this story because it draws parallels between Santa and Christ (hard to make it through without getting emotional!). 
  • Try to attend special events like "The Messiah" or local Creche festivals or anything else that focuses on Christ. Many communities or churches will put on such events for the public to attend--either for free or a very low cost. 
  • Do service for others. The life of Jesus was filled with service for others. We can become closer to Him by following His example and taking care of those around us. My family thinks it is fun to "doorbell ditch" and leave treats or a special message to uplift our neighbors. There are also opportunities to help those less fortunate have Christmas in their home by donating food or gifts to families in need.
  • Read about His birth. A wonderful tradition to have in your family is to read Luke 2 in the New Testament about the birth of Jesus. There are also movies or video clips available to watch to tell His story, such as this one:  


Christmas is a time for fun, family, celebrations, and gift-giving. But, let us not forget the Reason for the Season. He really is someone worth celebrating--His sacrifice, the Atonement, His grace, the ransom paid for our souls. Keep Christ in Christmas this year. Remember Him always.



For some more inspirational blog posts:

© Wendy 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Freedom Isn't Free

We recently celebrated Veteran's Day--a day we honor those who have served to help keep us free, and often are called upon to help others who do not have freedom. We have many holidays that are similar in nature: Independence Day, Memorial Day, Patriots Day, etc. We often display flags or other patriotic symbols that demonstrate our gratitude to live in a free nation.

Those that understand freedom, also understand that freedom is not free, but comes with a price. Often the price paid is the blood of those willing to fight for us to enable us to enjoy the comforts we have. Without those willing to sacrifice their lives or the lives of loved ones, we may be living in a very different world--a world in which many are still living because they are not afforded similar freedoms.

My children enjoying religious freedoms as
we visit the St. George, UT LDS Temple Christus
There is One who paid the ultimate price for our freedom: Jesus Christ. Sometimes we hear the phrase "free agency," which is not an accurate description. Just like our national freedoms, agency is not free, but has been paid in full with the blood of our Savior. Suffering in Gethsemane and dying on the cross were the ultimate sacrifice that paid for all of our sins, for all of our agency and for all of us that the debt might be paid in full--so we can be freed from our sins, our pains and sufferings, and freed from death.

Different from those who fight in wars for our freedoms, Christ's atonement is for ALL people who have ever lived on the earth and will ever live here. There is nothing that cannot be paid for through His atoning sacrifice. There is nothing that cannot be healed through Him.
"The Savior's suffering in Gethsemane and His agony on the cross redeem us from sin by satisfying the demands that justice has upon us. He extends mercy and pardons those who repent. The Atonement also satisfies the debt justice owes to us by healing and compensating us for any suffering we innocently endure." D. Todd Christofferson, Redemption, April 2013 General Conference

“Though you may feel that no one can understand the depth of your despair, our Savior, Jesus Christ, understands. He suffered more than we can possibly imagine, and He did it for us; He did it for you. You are not alone.” -President Dieter F. Uchtdorf


Regardless of your beliefs, the love of God has no bounds. The Atonement is for all. It is not just for our sins, but for all healing that we need. We need healing from sins, but also from abuse, abandonment, betrayal, sickness and all other afflictions. His suffered for all of it--felt all pains we have ever and will ever feel. He is the only one who can truly know how we feel. It is through Him that we are truly free--free from our burdens and sufferings.

Freedom means a lot to me. As you consider the freedoms you have been given, don't forget the sacrifice made by many. Most importantly, don't forget the sacrifice made by One for many--even for ALL. It comes without conditions and without expiration and, most importantly, without any limits.

© Wendy 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Seeking Gratitude

November seems to be a really popular month for everyone to think about, or even post on social media, things they are thankful for. Not only is this a great idea, but it also helps us to realize how many wonderful things and blessings we actually do have in life. We seem to notice more and more of what we do have, and forget about what we don't. We can become more positive while we shift our thinking away from the negative. Thomas S. Monson said:
"We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues" ("An Attitude of Gratitude," Ensign, May 1992, 54)."
I also try to see events in my life for what they usually are: blessings from a loving Heavenly Father. There are so many things for us to learn and enjoy. Often, our greatest blessings come during or as a result of trials in our life. Frequently, the answers to our prayers are direct blessings in our lives. There are so many things in our lives that we have, and often take for granted, that we need to realize and be grateful for. David B. Haight taught:
"It’s so easy in life for us to receive blessings, many of them almost uncounted, and have things happen in our lives that can help change our lives, improve our lives, and bring the Spirit into our lives. But we sometimes take them for granted. How grateful we should be for the blessings that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings into our hearts and souls. I would remind all of you that if we’re ever going to show gratitude properly to our Heavenly Father, we should do it with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength—because it was He who gave us life and breath" ("Were There Not Ten Cleansed?," Ensign, Nov 2002, 24)."
Think of as many things as you can that you are grateful for in your life. They could be family, friends, your job, your home, food in your pantry, a testimony of Jesus Christ, or simply the beauty in the world around us. Write down your ideas in a journal or somewhere you can see them often and add to the list daily. I think you will be amazed at the ways you have been blessed in your life.

I am most grateful for my testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ. It is through Him, and Him alone, that we can not only repent from our wrongs, but also be healed from all pains, sorrows, heartache and shortcomings in our life. He is our redeemer. I am also grateful for friends and family who are often the answers to my very prayers--sent to me in my time of need. I know that we can lift and help others as we desire to serve our God. There are so many things in this world--if not everything--that is a testament of our Father and His love for us. Even amid horrible trials, there are things we need to learn, beauty to be found and people to save.

We need to be grateful for what we are given and express our gratitude in prayer. We teach our kids to say please and thank you; we also need to exercise this when we talk to God. We need to teach our children by example to say please and thank you in our humble prayers.

Be grateful. Focus on the positive. See the blessings around you. Feel of His love for you.

For some more inspiring blog posts:
Dreaming About Someday
Babes in Hairland
Or So She Says...

© Wendy 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

100 Random Things Blogiversary

Exactly one year ago today, I started my adventure in writing, both a blog and freelance articles. I didn't realize I would enjoy it so much. Per suggestion, I am commemorating this day with a special post--100 random things about me. I know, scary, right?

  1. I am the second oldest of 6 children.
  2. My husband and I have been married for 13 years.
  3. I have 6 kids (but, you knew that right?).
  4. I'm not really an animal person.
  5. I LOVE food. Probably mostly Mexican type foods, but I love most foods.
  6. ^^That being said, I don't like cottage cheese. Or Lima beans.
  7. ^^Or Jello with vegetables or nuts or cottage cheese in it. Gross. Jello is good with fruit in it.
  8. I like to cook, but my specialty is probably homemade bread. Or enchiladas. Or black bean/corn salsa.
  9. I try to feed my kids healthy foods, like kefir, but sometimes you'd think I'm torturing them!
  10. I am very much into natural remedies.
  11. I always kinda liked writing essays or other papers for homework assignments.
  12. I've played the violin since I was in 3rd grade. I don't play so much anymore. :(
  13. I had my appendix taken out when I was in 1st grade. I was sad to miss school because of my stomachache because Fridays were spelling test days. I liked spelling tests.
  14. I participated in orchestra, choir, theater, speech team and played badminton in high school.
  15. I did not make it into the college orchestra.
  16. I wrote for the SUU paper for about a semester. Didn't care for it (or maybe the people there). But, I did have some front page stories!
  17. I joined the forensics team in college--a.k.a. speech and debate. Met lifetime friends and learned so much.
  18. I worked as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant in high school.
  19. I've held jobs such as janitorial work at the college, telemarketing, shirt girl at a dry cleaners and as a recreational therapist for a care center for the elderly. I also dabbled in direct sales (not my favorite thing). I even worked in a daycare at a gym and babysat a child for one of my friends. Now I'm a full-time mommy/wife and part-time writer.
  20. Though my kids sometimes drive me nuts, but I love them more than anything. Opposition in all things!
  21. I'm not as organized as I would like to be.
  22. I teach in Relief Society at church (women's organization) and I love it.
  23. I have a weird thing with numbers and dates. I remember all sorts of dates--birthdays, anniversaries, etc. and I have my and my husband's driver license numbers memorized.
  24. I can't stand to have someone mad or upset at me. 
  25. When someone close to me is suffering or sad, I am too. I work hard to try to cheer them up. I am very susceptible/sensitive to other people's energies and emotions/feelings.
  26. I'm not a dancer, but really always wished I was. 
  27. ^^Probably why I love to do Zumba for exercise.
  28. I am an intensely loyal friend. Conversely, if you hurt me, that trust is gone and hard to recover. I may let the hurt feelings go, but you probably won't be that close with me again.
  29. I love to read good books. 
  30. I am in two book clubs, but I'm not sure how well that is working out.
  31. I am working on writing a book, but the summer with all of the kids home threw me off, so I am trying to get back to it.
  32. I'm still in contact with my tight group of friends from elementary school.
  33. I can't hide my emotions very well, but I HATE crying in front of people. I'm an ugly crier.
  34. It freaks me out when I teach at church or blog and share really personal information...I worry how it's going to be received by the audience.
  35. I love to share the gospel.
  36. I say how I feel and don't usually hold anything back.
  37. Most of the time, I feel like I put more effort into friendships (staying in contact) than people do with me. Though, Facebook has made this a lot easier recently. 
  38. I don't like being cold.
  39. I sleep with socks on at night; it helps me stay warm.
  40. I'm not the biggest fan of camping. It didn't used to bother me, but, now that I have kids, well, it's different.
  41. I've only ever left the USA once. We went to Samoa with my husband's family. I guess we went to Canada once to see the other side of Niagra Falls, but does that really count?
  42. I wanted to serve a full-time mission for the LDS Church, but I got married a few months before I could.
  43. Some college friends and I played some pretty good pranks on some other college friends. It involved hanging a baby doll with ketchup on it outside a roommates door. Haha!!
  44. Most of my friends are older than me.
  45. I took piano lessons for a little while recently. It's hard to learn new things when you're older.
  46. I used to have an obsession with the color purple. That ended when I went to college.
  47. I never dated much as a teen. 
  48. I have a strong moral compass.
  49. I don't have very much self-confidence. 
  50. Sometimes I look back at things that happened in my life and wish they didn't ever happen. But, then I realize, that they have helped shape me into who I am today.
  51. I never took a typing class, but I think I type fairly quickly. I do have to look at my fingers though.
  52. I had pneumonia multiple times as a kid. As a result, my lungs and health are somewhat weakened.
  53. My toenails are currently painted "Sunset Peach."
  54. I didn't get my driver license until I was 19 years old. I had previously witnessed a horrific accident at the time I was learning to drive, so that stunted my desire to drive.
  55. I still remember the acronym from my high school government class--UBTIC WEAE SYT: Use Buzz Terms In Context With Evidence And Examples Supporting Your Thesis.
  56. I am insanely frugal.
  57. I have been to Washington, California, New Mexico, Idaho, Nebraska, New York, New Jersey (drove through), Maryland (drove through), Delaware (drove through) Washington D.C., Virginia, Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Utah, and Arizona. I've only lived in two of these states, some were for vacation, and some I competed in for college speech team.
  58. When I was 3 years old, I didn't want to grow up because "it would hurt"--I think I was wise for my age.
  59. I've never been to an actual music concert--unless the symphony counts.
  60. Live theatre is something I will never get tired of watching.
  61. I'd rather go to the gynecologist than to the dentist.
  62. My favorite color is red.
  63. I love to hang out with groups of friends, but I may prefer the individual, one-on-one connections and conversations.
  64. I live for Friday night Date Night with my husband and our friends.
  65. Sometimes, it's disappointing to eat at restaurants because I think it tastes better when I make it.
  66. Because I have some physical weaknesses, I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about natural health.
  67. When I'm camping, I NEED to know what time it is in the night. I don't sleep well, so I need to know that time is actually passing.
  68. I have so many mentors/people I look up to in life that I can't even count them all.
  69. I don't have as much patience as people think I have.
  70. Once, I rode a duffle bag down the stairs at a friend's house and re-shaped my left arm bone.
  71. I've had stitches twice. Once from tripping and hitting my head into the corner of a brick wall, and another time because my brother threw a PVC pipe like a spear. He blames me, of course. And obviously for the appendectomy and birthing related stitches. 
  72. I got married when I was 20. Best decision ever. I'm so glad he asked, still not sure why he did.
  73. I love to make other people happy.
  74. I wish I could sew.
  75. I wish Mary Poppins was my alter ego.
  76. I think I would panic of claustrophobia if I ever went scuba diving.
  77. I am somewhat OCD in some aspects of my life.
  78. I went back to school in 2008 and earned my associates degree in general studies. 
  79. I've contemplated going back to school, but not 100% sure what I would want to actually pursue. First and foremost, I am a mother--and that's a full-time gig!
  80. I worry about people in my life who seem to have lost their way spiritually.
  81. I used to afraid of lightning and thunder and fireworks. 
  82. I don't have much "daredevil" in me when it comes to things that may actually be potentially unsafe.
  83. I have a lot of songs that I love, but the one that stands out is "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables.
  84. My favorite drink is Dr. Pepper. 
  85. I love Christmas--not for the commercialization, but for the celebration of our Savior and the spirit of giving.
  86. I like to go on adventures with my husband and 6 kids--though sometimes that is a feat!
  87. I want to vacation somewhere tropical...or on any island. Both with all of my kids, and also just with my husband. Oh, and with friends too.
  88. I really want to take my family to Europe to experience that part of the world and visit amazing historical sites.
  89. One of my relatives, Samuel Downing, was the last survivor of the American Revolution. Another one, Sir George Downing, is responsible for the names Downing College (part of Cambridge) and Downing St. where British Parliament is located.
  90. I watch guilty pleasure shows like "The Bachelor."
  91. Whenever we vacation, we also incorporate LDS sites like various temples or historical places such as the Mormon Battalion site in San Diego, CA.
  92. I had all of my kids within 9 1/2 years.
  93. I was an EFY (Especially For Youth) counselor one summer. Loved it!
  94. I've thought about being an inspirational speaker--for women or youth. 
  95. When I hear myself on a recording, it sounds like I talk without any expression whatsoever. I hope that's not really how I sound.
  96. In college, I used to climb a tree outside of my dorm and just sit there to think, read, or cry. Now those dorms and my tree are gone.
  97. I graduated in the top 7% of my high school class and I led the Pledge of Allegiance at graduation.
  98. One of my favorite memories is when my best friend decided to get baptized, and then later when I got to attend her wedding in the temple.
  99. I really like to play word games.
  100. Once in a while, I randomly start laughing so hard that I cry. And, it's usually at something that's not that funny--except it is to me.
I hope you enjoyed that little stroll. If you have anything you'd like to ask, I will answer any questions--though this was probably more than anyone would ever want to know! Haha!!

© Wendy 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013

Keep the Fire Burning in Truth

We just concluded the 183rd semiannual conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members from around the world--or anyone who is interested--was able to watch or listen via satellite, television, radio, internet and soon, the written word.

I love these weekends for the inspiration, the spirit, the instruction, and the time to realign my priorities and goals. To help me remember, I tried to compile quotes from the talks and decided I'd share! In no particular order...

"We sometimes have a tendency to be very critical of ourselves. During these times we need to seek the spirit and ask. "Is this what the Lord wants me to think about myself? Or is Satan trying to beat me down?"" - Linda S. Reeves


"When the quiet promptings of the Holy Ghost come, you must have the courage to set aside your outlines and your notes and go where those promptings take you. When you do this the lesson you deliver is no longer your lesson, but becomes the Savior's lesson." Elder David M. McConkie

Photo: Comparing home teachers to shepherds, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson urged the men of the church to be shepherds who lead their sheep rather than sheepherders who ride behind their sheep during the LDS priesthood session Saturday night.  #ldsconf

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865587794/Men-urged-to-rise-up-and-be-shepherds-during-LDS-priesthood-session.html

"Man's laws cannot make moral what God's laws have declared immoral." -Dallin H. Oaks

Photo: New and improved...this was a pic I took near my home in August. When I heard Elder Bednar's talk, I knew it fit this picture--which I thought looked just like a window into heaven. :)
(image, © Wendy 2013)

"We need to get into spiritual shape." -Richard J. Maynes


"Satan will try to use our previous guilt to lure us back into his influence." -Richard G. Scott

Photo: “Believe in miracles.” #ElderHolland #ldsconf http://bit.ly/1b6cvPr

"Shall I falter, or shall I finish?" - Thomas S. Monson


"...you are entitled to teach with the power and authority of God." -David M. McConkie


"This is our destiny--to prepare the kingdom of God for the return of our Savior." - Neil Anderson


"Our everyday decisions will impact our lives in significant ways...Choose to be diligent and gain the great blessings and protection that come from gathering together and keeping covenants." -Kevin S. Hamilton


"Can good fruit grow from a bad tree?" --Adrian Ochoa


"God should be the center of our universe, our literal focal point. Is He?" -Terence M. Vinson


"Stellar spirits are often housed in imperfect bodies." -Russell M. Nelson

Photo: "May heaven's blessing be with you." #PresMonson #ldsconf http://bit.ly/1b6cvPr

Pin this Image to Pinterest: http://bit.ly/1ghwTjL

"The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of change!" Russell M. Nelson


"Sin, even if legalized by man, is still sin!" - Russell M. Nelson


"May you constantly nourish your testimonies of the gospel that they may be a protection to you against the buffetings of the adversary." Thomas S Monson

What were some of YOUR favorite conference quotes/moments?

Friday, October 4, 2013

LDS General Conference

Every 6 months, we have the opportunity to hear from prophets and apostles and other leaders in a world-wide broadcast. These men and women have been called by God to be leaders in His church and to deliver His message to us. I look forward to these weekends where we can spend time with our family feeling the spirit of the Lord. 

Also, for me it is a special time where I get to ponder the words and messages from Church leaders. I often receive personal guidance and revelation specific to me, answers to questions I have or problems I have been struggling with. The messages and inspiration fill my mind with peace, hope, and love and strengthen my resolve to live better. 


I encourage everyone to ponder questions you have, problems you or loved ones are having and to pray about these to God. Ask for His help and guidance. I know that you can receive answers from Him. 

If you're interested in watching, you can view a live stream, or find it on a local channel.

Also, you can find other inspiring videos on the Mormon Channel

I am really excited for this weekend. I love it and look forward to the spiritual boost and testimony building moments. 

Other related blog posts:

© Wendy 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Being an Answer to Prayer



I've been really touched recently as I have witnessed God working in my life and the lives of others who are close to me. It has caused me to reflect and realize how often He really has had his hand in my life--usually through others He has placed in my surroundings to teach, lift, inspire, shape, encourage, and support me.

Even as far back as elementary school and then into junior high, high school and college, I can recall times where friends, teachers and family have taught me and helped me in my life. I've claimed (unbeknownst to them) some as my personal mentors (I probably have more mentors than I can even count). Some have helped me through my personal hard times, some have taught me by their example, others have amazed me by their love. Sometimes, I have observed how bad choices have affected their lives. I have seen others helping each other in various ways to better their lives. I have learned from the strength, testimonies, hard work, compassion, and different views of so many wonderful people.

I love this quote as it encapsulates so much, while teaching us that we need to help each other:


I strive and hope to be a person that can meet the needs of another person. I want to help people become closer to Christ and to become who He knows we can become. I have had so many do this for me, how can I not desire the same for others? In fact, one of the reasons I started blogging almost 1 year ago, is because of some wise insight from one friend and encouragement from another. I truly believe that these two women have helped me to understand more fully my mission in life by being willing to help and lift me--and listen to promptings. 

Our Heavenly Father loves us so much more than we can comprehend in our mortal minds. He also sees us so very differently, so much better, than we see ourselves. If we only knew, I think we would not succumb to the pitfalls we sometimes fall victim to. He did not put us here to fail. We need to trust in Him, pray to Him for help, and seek out those who He can help through us. 

I feel my words are not adequate to share these deep feelings I want to express, but I hope you can feel the meaning in your hearts. 

© Wendy 2013 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Love One Another

I saw this picture on my friend's wall on facebook the other day, and it got me wondering: how many of us feel like this once in awhile, or even all the time? 

Photo

What kind of emotions does this bring to your mind and heart? What do you feel? How does it make you feel to think that perhaps some of the people you are afraid to lose actually feel this way too?

I want to propose a challenge, and I would love your feedback on how this changes your life, and perhaps the lives of those around you. Instead of always wondering if people are afraid to lose you--because inevitably there are people who desperately want you in their life--try to make sure that those in your life know how much YOU love them.

Tell them in words.
Show them by your actions.
Let them feel it in your embrace.
Let them see it in your smile and in your eyes.
Don't hold back your love.

Often, we may have a feeling, or a prompting, that tells us we ought to call, or say, or do something for another person. Don't ignore that feeling! Act quickly! You will be an answer to their prayers--verbalized or not. In return, we will feel ourselves becoming more like Christ, closer to Him, because we are doing what He wants to do for each of us. We will often feel an increase in love return to us as well. 

Opening our hearts to love can sometimes be hard, but if you put your trust in God, and try to listen to His promptings, you can never go wrong. 

President Spencer W. Kimball has said, "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs." (Small Acts of Service, Dec. 1974)

Be the kind of person who is willing to help fulfill others' needs. Be that conduit of love, faith, understanding, hope and peace. Don't let those who are in your life feel as if they don't matter. Love.

© Wendy 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We Still Have Hope

On the anniversary of the attacks on the world in NY at the Twin Towers, most of us are experiencing the gamut of emotions that we felt that day 12 years ago. I actually dread this day every year because of the sadness and fear it can bring back to the forefront of my heart and mind.

I recall being pregnant with my first child, due the following month. I was fearful of what life would be like for my children and the world after this terrible event. Though the events of that day were so horrific, there are some beautiful things that also happened as a result. People held their loved ones closer. We helped each other more. We were unified in support for the families that lost members that day. We rallied around those who help to protect us and our freedoms. Where there was hate, there was also love. Where there was sadness, you could also find happiness. People leaned on God a little more. Perhaps prayers became more fervent, more deliberate, more personal.

I found comfort and peace in knowing that regardless of what happened (or happens) to our nation, God is still in charge. If we are trying to do what is right, we have no need to fear. God's watchful eye and His gentle hand are there to help and guide us through perilous and difficult times--regardless of how big or small. 

Since the tragic events of that day, LDS Church leaders offered comforting insights and inspiration:
“Peace may be denied for a season. … But God our Eternal Father will watch over this nation and all of the civilized world who look to him. … Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes from obedience to the commandments of God.
“Let us be prayerful. Let us pray for righteousness. Let us pray for the forces of good. Let us reach out to help men and women of goodwill, whatever their religious persuasion and wherever they live. Let us stand firm against evil, both at home and abroad. Let us live worthy of the blessings of heaven, reforming our lives where necessary and looking to him, the Father of us all. He has said, 'Be still, and know that I am God' (Psalms 46:10).
“Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, October 2001 General Conference)

"Today, the world remembers the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. We are still shocked and dismayed at the infamy of those cowardly attacks.
"We know that much good has come of these dreadful circumstances. From the smoke and ashes of New York, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and other areas of the world has arisen a greater sense of unity and purpose in ridding the earth of evil and providing for the freedom and security of all people. We endorse the righteous efforts of God-fearing people everywhere in this important endeavor.
"May our Father in Heaven smile upon us all, comfort those who continue to mourn and guide the leaders of nations in the quest for justice and liberty is our sincere prayer." (Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, Sept. 11, 2002, Memorial Service)

"If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us. We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving him our faith and trust. We too should be with him in every season.
"The way to be with God in every season is to strive to be near him every week and each day. We truly 'need him every hour,' not just in hours of devastation. We must speak to him, listen to him, and serve him. If we wish to serve him, we should serve our fellow men. We will mourn the lives we lose, but we should also fix the lives that can be mended and heal the hearts that may yet be healed." (Pres. Thomas S. Monson, 10th anniversary of 9/11)
We are so abundantly blessed. We must do all we can to repent, strive for righteousness, show love for all of mankind. We need to pray, to worship God, and strengthen our families. If we are living in accordance to the laws and principles of God, we will have no need to fear.

I know that regardless of what happens in this world, God has a plan, even a mission, for each of us to fulfill. Should we die while on His errand, all we be well. We will be in His presence, and free from our earthly cares.Trust in the Lord. Rely on Him and pray always. Have hope in His plan and His mercy.

© Wendy 2013 

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Lord Looketh on the Heart

I've been having a lot of thoughts recently about outward appearances vs. inward goodness. Too often, I think many choose to judge each other based on how someone else looks, or what is perceived based on a few observations. It's hard not to at times, but I think it is really important that we try to love and accept people regardless.

There are people who have tattoos, piercings, or who dress immodestly. Or perhaps the actions of some may be of concern--smoking, drinking, or other inappropriate actions. Even though our standards may be different, it is not our place to judge, as we do not know anyone's full story. We do not know anyone else's trials, their upbringing, their level of understanding, what their journey has been, or especially what their mission on earth is that they were sent here to complete.

A quote I read today states:
"Recognize the good in others, not their stains. At times a stain needs appropriate attention to be cleansed, but always build on his or her virtues."
—Richard G. Scott
In other words: LOOK for the GOOD in others. See what you can that is right with their lives and focus on that instead of the negative.

And this thought is perfect:


There are many good people who may not look the part. The opposite is also true. But, I know that the Lord can see beyond our outward facade and knows our hearts, our intentions, our thoughts and desires. Everyone can change; we need to allow change for others and ourselves. 

All of us can learn to accept and love others just the way they are. That will open windows and doors not only for them to perhaps be inspired to better themselves, but it will also create and allow for changes within ourselves. Try to see others the way God sees each of us. We are ALL children of God, even if some of us are a bit like the rebellious child at times. We're all in this together, so we need to help build each other up and truly love others. Being a Christian means acting as Christ would--and I am sure he would be found among those who outwardly we may not expect.

 © Wendy 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mormon Musings

My 10-year-old daughter has come home from school on many occasions reporting conversations she has had with one of her friends, who attends a Christian church in our city. The conversations disturb me--not necessarily the subject matter because religious discussions are not something I shy away from, but the fact that her friend's church and her parents are actually teaching her such false things about others.

Over the past couple of years, my daughter has been told by her friend very negative things and attitudes toward Mormonism, a.k.a., The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

  • Mormons aren't Christians.
  • She doesn't like living here because of all the Mormons.
  • It's "annoying" that there are so many Mormons.
  • She doesn't like Mormons.
  • Mormons are weird because they can't have tattoos and piercings.
  • Slanted views of our beliefs in the Book of Mormon and prophets.
I have helped my daughter explain/refute some of these things:

  • Mormons ARE Christians; we believe in, worship, and testify of Jesus Christ.
  • If she doesn't like all of the Mormons, then she doesn't like my daughter. It hurts my daughter when one of her good friends says these things.
  • We don't have tattoos and piercings because we treat our bodies with respect and believe they are special.
  • We also believe in the Bible; The Book of Mormon is "another testament of Jesus Christ" and we do believe in (but do not worship) modern day prophets and revelation.
Having questions like this are not wrong, but having someone in authority in a church preaching falsehoods about any other religion or people IS wrong. Teaching your children such things is also wrong.

My daughter is still friends with this girl, and I'm happy about it. I hope that over time, the example and love that my daughter shares will ultimately help her friend understand that the things being taught to her are simply not true. Actions speak louder than words.

As best I can, I try to help my kids understand that not everyone is going to agree with all of their beliefs or opinions, but we still need to respect and love them; we can surely still be friends with people of other faiths, backgrounds, and situations. We are meant to learn to live with others in peace and harmony.We are meant to love each other even if we disagree.

I wish people would simply go to church to rejoice in Christ, preach of Christ, and be edified in Christ, not to preach against other religions that they do not understand, or may even fear. Isn't that what being a Christian means--worshiping Christ? Acting as Christ would if he were on the earth today?

Regardless of religion (or no religion), we need to be more united, more full of love for one another, work together instead of against each other. We can accomplish so much more good working together. We are all in this life together. Help your neighbor. Lift another. Share your light. Spread sunshine instead of gloom. Be a force for the positive: Seek it, live it, be it.

For some more inspiring posts:
Babes in Hairland
A Mouse in My Kitchen
Brassy Apple
Girl Loves Glam
Dreaming About Someday

© Wendy 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

Obedience

I had an experience a couple of weeks ago while shopping with my 6 kids--which is an experience in and of itself, a special kind of torture. But, I really needed to go to the store as we were out of several necessary items.

While shopping, I had my 2-year-old asleep in the top of the cart, and was herding the remainder of my children throughout the store. My 4-year-old boy kept trying to ride under the cart, which I told him was unsafe and to get out from under there. I had told him at least twice, including the warning that he could get hurt.

Fast forward to the end of the trip....my cart wheel had gotten stuck on something, so I was backing up when I hear my son screaming. As I looked for him, I realized that he had been UNDER the cart without my knowledge. The result was the loss of his entire nail, a trip to urgent care and lots of other shoppers and store employees around to see the entire unfolding of this disaster due to the insanely loud and large amounts of screaming going on. (I should get a shirt, or at least a mug, that says: "Mom of the Year" for sure!)
I might add that the next day, I heard that the majority of the employee meeting was about this incident. :/

I hope he learned a good lesson about obedience that day. More importantly, I hope that he (and my other kids will learn the importance of obeying God's laws as well.
He that keepeth [God’s] commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.” (D&C 9:28)
Just as obedience for a little child to their parents is a large safety net, so obeying our Heavenly Father brings us great blessings as we learn to do His will. We aren't given commandments to restrict us, but rather to protect us and bring us happiness, peace, salvation and exaltation! President Thomas S. Monson recently stated:
"There are rules and laws to help ensure our physical safety. Likewise, the Lord has provided guidelines and commandments to help ensure our spiritual safety so that we might successfully navigate this often-treacherous mortal existence and return eventually to our Heavenly Father." ("Obedience Brings Blessings", April 2013 General Conference)
As our Creator, He does know what is best for us, what we need to learn, and the effect sin and disobedience can have on us. We don't need to be perfect, but we need to strive toward it so we will be ready when the time comes and we be comfortable and want to dwell in His presence.

Our Savior is the greatest example of obedience. He was tempted, tried, and went through unimaginable experiences, yet he remained true and faithful to the Father always. I am so grateful that he was willing to be obedient to fulfill his calling on this earth so that all mankind may be saved.

The things we are asked to do are simple and easy, yet we still are not fully obedient. Pray, read scriptures, keep the Sabbath day holy, be honest, love one another, and to do good are not hard things to do. We don't have to do it all at once, but start somewhere, start today. Increase your obedience, increase your faith, and blessings will be granted.

Just as parents want to praise and reward our children for doing what they are asked, so does our Father in Heaven want to pour out His blessings upon us if we will only be obedient!

© Wendy 2013 

Friday, August 16, 2013

There Was a Young Woman... (parody)

There was a young woman who lived in a house,
She had so many children and only one spouse.
She cooked and she cleaned and worked all day long,
To show her love for her happy little throng.

© Wendy 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Life and School

It's the first day of school for my children. Today was met with nerves, excitement, stress and relief. And, even though this summer has been difficult with 6 personalities going a million miles a minute, I was a little sad to see them leave (a little, let's not go over the top...mostly, I feel exuberant and free!).

Of course I have worries: Will they behave? Will they choose good friends? Will they set a good example? Will they ultimately make good choices?

But, I still send them off on their own. I know it's good for them to have time away from home where they can practice the values and teachings we have tried to instill in their minds and hearts. They need to stand strong on their own two feet and learn how to get along in the world, without hovering parents. They will make mistakes, but that is part of learning.

I think this is a bit of what our Father in Heaven feels for each of us.

He sent us here to earth, knowing the trials we would face, hoping we would remember all that He taught us. The stakes are high. The world teaches the ways of the world, distorting the things of God, but we must try to remain faithful. I'm sure He has similar worries as us parents do as we send our children out into the world on their own: Will we behave? Will we choose good friends? Will we follow His example? Will we choose Him over the things of the world?

I am sure that He sheds many tears of sorrow and also joy as He watches our trials and triumphs. We make mistakes, daily. We repent and trust in Him and His Atonement. He loves us. He wants us to come Home. He rejoices when we seek His help. He generously blesses us and gives us opportunities to learn and grow.

I am not sure I am making my point very clear. I guess, life is basically like a school for us. We leave Home, venture off on our own, and we are able to learn, be tested, and expand out knowledge and become who we are meant to become. We must use faith and prove ourselves worthy to return to Him.
"For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." Alma 34:32
God wants us to become like Him, which is why we must learn and practice His ways:
"My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom." Doctrine and Covenants 136:31
We often hear the question, "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" How else would we learn? I love this wisdom from 2 Nephi 2:11: "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so...righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility."

Back to the matter of school.... though I worry about my children, I know that this is a time for them to expand and grow on their own. Mistakes will be made and good choices will also occur. It is for their own good. They must know of hardships to experience joy.

We must also experience the difficulties of life, to feel the peace and joy that God gives to us. It's part of the University of Life.

© Wendy 2013
 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

All About Dr. Pepper

Some of you may know that I have a bit of a thing for Dr. Pepper--my drug of choice. Here's my good reasons why... just for fun. :)


  1. Once, about 10 years ago, I had a REALLY BAD sore throat. I kept having the thought/feeling that I should drink Dr. Pepper. That was the LAST thing I wanted to do--my throat hurt so bad and I was positive that would hurt to drink. After about the 6th time I had that thought, I finally drank some. What happened? My sore throat was gone!! I was shocked and now keep it around for medicinal purposes. 
  2. Sometimes I struggle with health issues from my lungs being weak or other ailments. Often, the caffeine or the carbonation helps to alleviate some of the symptoms. Sounds crazy, but it's true.
  3. On sluggish days where I can barely keep my eyes open, a little swig helps wake me right up!
  4. I have days where I am frustrated, down, or just struggling with life (shocker, right?). Sometimes, Dr. Pepper is just the pick-me-up I need.
  5. Tolerating crazy antics of my children is made easier just from indulging a bit on my dark gold. Every mom needs a little supply of a special treat somewhere for such moments. :)
  6. I call it my "Happy Juice" for so many reasons.
  7. It tastes so good. For real. I don't like Coke or Pepsi at all, but Dr. Pepper is yummy. I recently had it with a bit of vanilla in it, and, WOW... sooo tasty!
No, I'm not addicted to the stuff. I often go weeks without it, but I'm starting to think it ought to be a staple in my house for emergencies. :)

Nothing really serious today, just Dr. Pepper love.

© Wendy 2013

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Missionary Work is Simple!

I really love missionary work. Though I never served a full-time mission, I have always been a missionary at heart. I love to share the gospel because of the happiness it brings to my life. I have witnessed people gain that happiness and it is miraculous and wonderful to see.

Some people are scared to share the gospel at times for a variety of reasons. Being a missionary doesn't mean you have to have in depth discussions about really hard topics. You can simply just be happy, and people will recognize the light in your eyes and be drawn to it. You can share briefly what it is that makes you happy and then go from there. And as Elder Russell M. Nelson declared, "Ask the missionaries! They can help you!" The biggest thing we can do as followers of Christ, is to truly ACT as a disciple of Christ and do what He would do on earth if He were here. Continually strive to be like Jesus. That is the key. All the rest will fall into place.

For fun and for cuteness sake, here is a little video where some young children simply answer questions about being a missionary:


For a little more inspiration, visit these blogs:

© Wendy 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pioneers Past and Present

For LDS people, the 24th of July is a day to celebrate. The early saints of the Church arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, after fleeing from persecution in Nauvoo, Ill. Mobs killed the early Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. The saints were forced from their homes because of their religious beliefs. The sacrifice that these saints made to follow God is astounding. There are numerous historical and historical fiction accounts about the saints who came west and some retelling later travels to settle other nearby areas.
Echo Canyon 1866
An 1866 party of pioneers in Echo Canyon east of the Salt Lake Valley (courtesy mormonnewsroom.org)




















Though the Church was restored in the modern days on United States' soil, it is a world-wide organization with more members outside of the USA, than in it. Even today, people still make sacrifices to follow their beliefs. Some lose the support of their families, their friends, their jobs, or their homes so they can have the gospel in their lives.

My grandmother and grandfather joined the LDS church while living in New York. Because there was no temple there at the time, they moved their family to Arizona so they could be sealed together--not just for time, but for eternity. This is a sacrifice that I am grateful for, and I am sure others may take for granted. As a result of their conversion, many other families also have the blessings of the gospel in their lives.

My best friend from high school made the decision to be baptized and joined the church between our junior and senior year. Her family supported her, yet they were not 100% happy with her choice. I know it hasn't been all easy with many struggles along the way, but she was able to be sealed in the temple to her husband and is starting a pioneer legacy all her own with her husband and her children.

Whether you come from a long line of pioneers, or you are the very first to join the church, the heritage of the church's beginnings are a part of your life and American history. The Church began not quite 200 years ago, in 1830, and has grown to over 14 million members with about 140 temples throughout the world. It is the 4th largest Christian religion in the USA. Also, it heralds one of the largest (and oldest) women's organization in the world, the Relief Society, which works to take care of one another and provide aid to people of all religions in 170 countries and territories throughout the world. The growth is amazing.

People like my friend and my grandparents and the early pioneers inspire me. Their examples of steadfastness make me want to be better. I want to have the faith and strength of pioneers past, present, and future. I don't know that I could have endured the physical strain of crossing the plains, nor the heartache of losing family and friends to death along the way. But, I am here now enduring challenges that are equally difficult, but in a different way. In a world where so many are struggling, I am trying to be strong in my faith and testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. I try to help those around me to strengthen their faith and testimonies so they can be strong enough to endure the onslaught of trials in the latter days.

©Wendy 2013




Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Don't Fall Victim to Identity Theft

I was at the store when my red flags started going up.

I had been shopping for my son's birthday with all of my kids--who were also shopping for his birthday. After a grueling hour or more of this trip, decisions were made and we were at the check-out stand. When everything was totaled up, I swiped my debit card and entered my PIN. The card wouldn't go through. I was completely perplexed. We tried to run it again. It still didn't work. I knew I had funds available, and beyond that, I have overdraft protection, so I was a bit concerned.

Upon returning home, I had a couple of voice messages from the fraud department of my bank. I looked up my bank account online and discovered an erroneous charge hitting my account. I quickly hushed my six kids and dialed the 800 number from the message. They listed several other charges that had tried to go through my account besides the one I saw. *Groan.*

Luckily, they are really great about taking care of things like this and I don't think there will be any lingering effects--other than being without my debit card for a week. I have a small suspicion about what happened, which I will be further investigating.

I want to address a more dangerous form of identity theft, one that can have eternal implications: Do YOU know WHO you are?

There are so many mixed messages in the world that can leave us wondering or confused about who we are and who it is we are meant to become. The adversary works hard to distort our view of ourselves, mask ourselves with things that hide our true beauty, damage our perceptions. I see people every day who are seeking happiness, wandering aimlessly, never really finding what they are looking for in life.

Satan wants us to forget that we are children of God. He wants to cover our eyes, shield our minds, infiltrate our souls and remove any memory or feeling of who we are and where we are from. We need to work hard to not get trapped in this "spiritual amnesia." Don't let Satan steal your spiritual identity.

As with identity theft, we have to safeguard ourselves from spiritual identity theft. Necessary actions include frequent (or constant) prayer, daily scripture study, regular worship/church attendance and anything else that will strengthen you spiritually.

If you do not yet know who you are spiritually, I hope that you will seek that out--pray, study and ponder--and gain that knowledge for yourself. God does loves us, He answers our prayers, and He wants us to return home to him again. He knows us as individuals. Always remember that. Continually seek to know it without a doubt.

Protect your identity.

© Wendy 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pornography Only Hurts the Viewer, Right? Think Again.

*This is a pretty serious post, about a serious topic. Just FYI.

I have been thinking a lot about pornography and the far reaching effects it has not only on the one who is using pornography, but to others around that person. I think too many people think it's okay to look at such degrading pictures, or think that it's not going to hurt anyone, or think even that they are not addicted and it's not affecting them. Or maybe they know it has affected them, but they think they now can't do anything to stop. Or many people probably think that the material they are viewing, reading, or listening to isn't even porn.

Really, I don't know what goes through the mind of one who uses pornography. But, I do know the pain and heartache and sorrow that happens to those close to the user. I spent my life with a father who was, and still is, addicted to pornography. I have to say, I barely know him as a person. I don't know if he loves, or even cares about me as his daughter (or if he is even capable of doing so at this point). There is no emotional connection--at least not a positive one. It has affected my siblings as well--even influencing some of them to struggle with pornography. It led to being molested. Ultimately, it led to infidelity and the end of my parent's marriage, a broken family, pain, heartache, and sorrow. I have lots of unanswered questions, unanswered love, and the feeling of basically being an orphan--at least on some level.

A scripture from the Book of Mormon hit me so hard, Jacob 2:35:
"Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds."
Recently, the Deseret News wrote a four part series on pornography, which you can read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. These four articles talk about some experiences from people who have been affected by viewing porn, some who have been deeply hurt by being involved in making porn, and also the legal problems around it. There are astounding statistics also given in the articles. It is a devastating trend in society. So many people think it's okay or 'no big deal', when in reality, it is a really big deal. Those with pornography addiction often have trouble controlling their tempers, become depressed or habitually unhappy.

Society is full of porn...or images that are really close to it. It's not just pictures. It can be live and suggestive dancing. It's suggestive or explicit lyrics in songs. You can find innuendo even in children's movies. Reading materials can be pornographic in descriptions (romance novels, erotica, etc.). Prime time television, commercials and other programming slowly desensitizes our minds to not recognize evil when we see it. Gordon B. Hinckley has said to "avoid pornography like the plague." I wish everyone would.

Because of things that happened in my childhood, it has affected me as an adult and in my marriage. I'm still healing. I don't trust many people alone with my children. We don't allow sleepovers. I am really careful with who I leave them with and we also have really blunt discussions with our children around the age of 8 about sex and safeguards that are important.

Painting by Del Parson
There are tools to help, but it is a long process that may involve many re-starts. Pornography is said to affect more parts of the brain than drugs. Another article about pornography, tells about a new website entitled "Overcoming Pornography Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ." It contains help for individuals, family members and church leaders who are affected by or dealing with pornography as well as ways to prevent it in our homes. I hope that if there is anyone in need of rescuing and healing from pornography addiction that they can find the help they need.

The Atonement is real. God loves you and wants you to be free and happy. He wants you to be healed. Jesus Christ paid the price for us--we just need to accept it, to use the atonement to be made whole and to heal. You have never gone too far to come back. It may not be easy, you may struggle, but there is always hope through Jesus Christ. Healing is not just for the sinner, but also for the brokenhearted, the abused, and the afflicted.


© Wendy 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

Importance of Date Night

Think back to when you were not yet married, but dating that person of your dreams. You're in love and finding out everything you can about the person you would someday marry.

Fast forward 5, 10, 15 or 50 years later...

Are you still dating? In love? Getting to know each other better?

If not, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate and put in more of the work that marriage requires. Marriage and staying in love takes work--100% effort by both spouses, husband and wife. Just like a garden, you can't water it and take care of it the first couple of weeks of summer and then just let it fend for itself the next few months. It will die. Likewise, marriages must have the nourishment and the work required to be fruitful.

Since we believe that families are eternal, cultivating a healthy marriage, as well as happy family relationships, is paramount for my husband and me. Not only that, but the strength of families (or the lack thereof) directly correlates to the strength of our society. Our example of a happy marriage will have a significant influence on our children--what they will observe and later seek for their own marriages. It is our responsibility to teach our kids how to work at a marriage. Our attitudes will become theirs. If we show them that marriage is important, they will likewise cherish their own.

The importance of marriage brings me to the importance of having date night. Couples need time to reconnect--spiritually, emotionally, and physically--and some scheduled time is often necessary to make that happen. Here are some ideas to get it going in your home:

  • Pick a night of the week that works best, for us, that day happens to be Friday. Be consistent and make it happen. It can be for an hour or five hours or over night; again, whatever works for you. 
  • Get a babysitter for the kids. Often you may be able to find family that can watch your children for free. We usually get a babysitter that we know from church. Negotiate how much to pay per kid per hour. I have a few older kids that can really help out a lot, but are not quite ready to babysit consistently. We average paying about $5 per hour, and round up a bit. Babysitter costs vary by demographics. I have also found that most 12-14 year old girls are the best babysitters.
  • Double date. Encourage friends to come along and enrich their marriage too.
  • If it doesn't work (financially or otherwise) to go out, put the kids in bed and play a game, watch a movie, have dessert or get some take-out from a restaurant and have a date in your own home.
  • You can be simple or elaborate with your date nights. We often just go get dinner and dessert, but sometimes go to a movie or go grocery shopping together. We also try to go to the temple together about once a month--to remember covenants, or promises, we made that will help us ensure our family can be together forever, not just until we leave this life.
  • Spend time talking, writing love notes, or just being tender with each other.
  • Also, http://www.thedatingdivas.com/ have a myriad of great ideas that are cheap, free, easy, fun and can fit into anyone's lifestyle. This is a great resource to help get you started or feed you new ideas to strengthen your marriage and relationship with your spouse.
Whether you've been married for one year or seventy years, remaining close to your spouse is crucial. Become and stay best friends and be blissfully happy. Do it for yourself, for each other, and for your family. You'll be glad you did! And besides, dating is fun! Not all work is hard work. :)

©Wendy 2013


Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Guide for Summer Sanity

It's summer. The kids are out of school and are perpetually bored, whiny, and fighting with each other. Bedtime somehow comes later and later. It's a recipe for parental insanity.

Here's a few ideas to hopefully mellow out the negative aspects of summer and possibly create some great memories while you're at it.

  • Get out of the house. I can't say this one enough. When everyone is cooped up under one roof, it just begs for getting on each other's nerves. Whatever it is you want to do, go do it! Make sure it's fun and feasible. 
  • Find a schedule to keep consistency at home. My schedules are pretty lax, but I make sure everyone gets dressed every day--at the very least. Do whatever works for you and your kids. Keep chores regular. 
  • Encourage play dates!! Nothing changes the dynamics of the house quite like having an extra kid over to play (or one of your own gone playing elsewhere works great too). 
  • Schedule your own "me" time. This is really important. You can't take care of others if you don't have anything to give. You have to refill yourself. I go to the gym and read while I exercise. Also, talk to your spouse about taking a day to shop, eat with a friend, get a massage or pedicure. Having a break doesn't make you a bad mom; In fact, getting time to recharge probably makes you a great mom!
Some free or cheap ideas to do with your kids to keep them happy are:

  • Visit your local library. You can check out books, attend story time, and most libraries have children's sections where they can do puzzles or other activities.
  • Going along with the library, read to your kids. I have been amazed that my 2 and almost 4 year old will sit and listen to me read for 20, 30 or 40 minutes--or longer!
  • Get the wiggles out at the park. Get some sun, get out of the house, and have fun!
  • Have a picnic.
  • Invite some friends over for water fun in your backyard.
  • Make homemade popsicles or snow cones.
  • Play games or sports in the backyard.
  • Go to a local splash pad.
  • If available, visit zoos or museums in your area.
  • Take a day trip to the mountains, or lakes, or another city.
  • Make home videos.
  • Produce a puppet show.
  • Build forts.
  • Do small service projects for your neighbors (age appropriate). You may try washing windows, or lawn care or making treats to deliver.
  • Write letters (or draw pictures) to members of the military or missionaries from your area.
  • Have a lemonade stand or bake sale and plan something fun to do with their earnings.
  • Put on a play for the neighborhood.
Remember to enjoy this time with your kids. I know it's hard when they run you ragged and your sanity is on the brink of collapse, but, as everyone always says, you're going to miss this time when they're all grown up.

If you think you're about to lose it, call a friend. Get the kids together and take the opportunity to recharge each other.

One more piece of advice: Date Night. For real. Super important. Talk to your spouse and schedule date night, often. We try to go once a week--whether it's out to eat, a movie, a trip to the temple, or shopping (not our favorite). We also double date with some friends. It's important to find time to reconnect with your spouse, emotionally and physically. And, face it--the kids need a break from you, too!

© Wendy 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Don't Give In to Self Doubt

This post may be more for me than anyone else, but I need to put it out there--to say it "out-loud."

Lately, I have been stressing about my writing. I am working on a book, yet I feel so inadequate. I'm at a point where I can't read something without analyzing the writing--comparing it to mine. Every time I read another blog, another article, or a book I think, "Hey, this is good. But, I don't write like that." And then the panic sets in my mind and heart, "What if this isn't something I'm "good" at doing?"

I doubt myself. I doubt my ability to write. I doubt that anyone would even want to read what I write. I fear and I panic.

Maybe it's part of the process.

Then, I try to remember what brought me to this point--the point where I decided I wanted to write and how so many things just fell into place. I think about the people that do read what I write--and may even like what I have to say. I think of things that I have to share which just might help another person in some way.

I think of my "WHY" for writing.

I realize that it's not all going to be easy, but it is something I want to do, something I like doing. Do you have these thoughts about what you enjoy or are pursuing? I think it is important to not give up, or give in to these negative thoughts, but forge ahead, focusing on our goal, and keeping our thoughts positive. Work on and improve your skills. Take classes. Rely on God and, as I said in an earlier post, "Remember WHO would like to see you fail." I think that is the problem exactly...the adversary. We can probably do most anything we put our mind to, but Satan preys on our doubts, fears, insecurities and tells us we can't. But we CAN! We are children of God and probably have abilities beyond our knowledge that we can cultivate and improve and learn.

Go forward and do what you are supposed to do on this earth. Spread more positive in the world. Lift those who need it. Encourage others who are struggling to find their way. Don't doubt, fear, or give up. Be positive, learn, grow, improve and become who God knows we can become, and help others do the same.


© Wendy 2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

School's Out: Bittersweet.

This starts our third week of school being out. I feel like this is one double-edged sword. There's good and bad to having everyone home. Really, I could never home-school because I would be pulling my hair out.

The Bitter:
Six kids. Home all day. Every day. With me. Alone. The fighting, the whining, the laziness.

So who cares if they don't get dressed until noon--if at all? Bedtimes are unfortunately more lax (which makes for a crazier mom). You'd think they would sleep in if they go to bed later, but they don't.

And forget 3 meals a day... it's 3 meals and continual snacking!

Constant boredom. If they can't play on the computer or watch television...there is "nothing to do!"

The dishes, the laundry, the toys and the trash pile up, while my sanity dwindles into nothingness. And, I do work to get my kids to help clean up their mess, but there are lots of threats uttered.

Going grocery shopping has also become a big process. With spirited, curious children, I am constantly trying to stop them from touching everything in the store, running off, or adding extra items to the shopping cart. If I manage to purchase most of what I came for, I guess I'm doing pretty well. More often then not, I forget at least one item we needed.

My two youngest kids have been on a tantrum run...which is sometimes quite humorous. This is our latest that I recorded, instead of losing my cool:



The Sweet:
I don't have to prod my kids out of bed every morning, prod them to get dressed by a certain time, prod them to get their homework done...

The last month of school was agonizing. I think my "work-minded" self is completely done with homework by the time May rolls around. One of my kids had "parent partner" assignments which basically meant I had homework beyond just making sure it got done/checking it. And it was a hard assignment--research, reports, staying in a budget and making a brochure--in 4th grade! I have four kids currently in school, so to take the astronomical amount of time it takes to do that homework along with making sure everyone else got theirs done, and get to all of the end of the year programs, and still cook dinner... well... let's just say miracles are real.

I really don't mind having our days free to do what we want when we want to. It's a nice break from the normal schedules. I also like to spend time with my kiddos--especially when we're not in the middle of some sort of catastrophic meltdown. We love to do fun things together, and summer break allows for that freedom.

School is out for about 2 1/2 months. We will fill our days with going to the park, doing our local library summer reading program, taking trips--both day and overnight, and just trying to enjoy not having school and getting to spend time together.

And, of course, luckily I'll have some Dr. Pepper to help get me through it all. :) Hang in there, Moms!! I'm always glad to know that I am not the only one who does not love summer break 100%. I don't think it makes me a bad mom to need/want a break from my kids either. I think we just do what we need to do and only do what we can. I have learned to not become overly frustrated by all of the things that I think I should be doing, or by all of the amazing things I see other moms do that I do not do. I take care of my kids--feed them, clothe them and love them. It's the best I can do. Different days are packed with different battles, but we can make it through--one day at a time. If nothing else, there's always bedtime, and we can move it up an hour. ;)

© Wendy 2013