Wednesday, May 24, 2017

mother's day



I think this was the first time in five years of taking our Mother's Day picture that Mike was home to take it for us. Usually we use a self timer. I think that explains the real smiles on my kids' faces. I am sure Mike said something really funny to make us laugh.

I shared this quote on my instagram, and I know I've shared it on my blog before, but that doesn't mean I can't do it again:

"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough of greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity."

-Margaret D. Nadauld

Mother's Day was weeks ago I know, but I am grateful to share my thoughts about it here, late as they may be. I love Mother's Day because it focuses on the goodness of women everywhere, whether they have borne children or not. Sister Julie B. Beck said, "Righteous women have changed the course of history and will continue to do so, and their influence will spread and grow exponentially." I believe that women run this world, and without our efforts, everything would crumble, or in the very least, everyone would run out of toilet paper. (Did you read that funny article making the rounds on Facebook?)

I love that Mother's Day gives me the opportunity to check myself, to see how I am doing, to ask myself if I am becoming the kind of woman that Sister Naduald described. Inevitably, the Spirit whispers to me that I am doing ok, but that maybe I could do a little better in this area or that. I am thankful for those promptings because my children deserve my best.

And I love that it makes me reflect on my own mother. She teaches me how to be a woman of God through her actions everyday.

I hope your Mother's Day was a happy one, full of contentment and love and hopefully not too much mess and at least a little bit of chocolate.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

doctrine vs application


I teach the 14-16 year old girls in my congregation (Mabel included). Just the other day, I sat down to plan our Sunday lessons for the summer and we will be learning about some potentially difficult things-- things like the importance of keeping the law of chastity, temple marriage, and preparing for motherhood. While the world is screaming to these girls that these things are not important, it is my job to tell them otherwise. Sometimes that feels difficult.

I was really glad when my sister steered me toward an article on RubyGirl.org that talked about doctrine versus application. The gist is, if we want our children to learn truth - eternal truth, we must teach them doctrine, not application. For example, if we want our children to keep the law of chastity (a principle), we need to teach them that their body is a temple because it houses their spirit (the doctrine). They need to know the "why" behind the principle, not just how to apply it in their life (in this example, an application could be wearing modest clothing or not watching suggestive media).

The author, Rochelle Tallmadge, says this about doctrine: "Doctrine is truth. But not just any truth. Eternal Truth. Doctrine is things as they WERE, things as they ARE, and things as they really will BE. It doesn't change. Some things are true on this earth, but they aren't TRUTH. ... Doctrine doesn't tell you what to do. It just IS."

About principles, she says, "A principle is the category that falls under doctrine. Many principles peel off of the same doctrine. There aren't that many doctrines, actually. But there are more principles. Like, Keep the Sabbath Day Holy, Pray, Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity. Those tell us what to do, generally. Those can change. For instance, the Word of Wisdom looked very different for the children of Israel than it does for you and me. Even the Law of Chastity might look different, given the time."

And then, applications. Rochelle says, "After principles come applications. These are the specific ways you live the gospel and practice principles. You may wear a dress that covers your knee, whereas I might have a skirt that stops just above it. You may watch tv on Sunday night, but your best friend does not. Applications are very, very personal. It's up to us to follow the Spirit and make our own choices. And we get in trouble in the church when we try to teach the applications instead of doctrines. That's how the Pharisees and the Sadducees missed the fact that The Messiah was standing right in front of them. They were focused on the applications (and misapplications) of the Law of Moses, not the whole purpose of it: Jesus Christ."

Oh, it's so good. The article is not very long, and I encourage you to read it for yourself. And then talk about it with your children. :) I am grateful for this little refresher course on how to teach children and youth. I want my children to stay true to the doctrine of Jesus Christ more than anything, so I better make sure that they know it, and not just the application of it.

Monday, May 22, 2017

a summer pie


It is our last week of school, so we are just about in summer mode over here. Hooray! I made this very summer-y pie last night to celebrate and thought the recipe was worthy of a share.

Raspberry, Lime, and Coconut Pie

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
6 tablespoons, plus 1/2 cup butter
1 sleeve (or 9 rectangles) graham crackers
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
a pinch of kosher salt
2 teaspoons of lime zest, divided
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup lime juice
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 cups raspberries

While your oven is heating up to 375 degrees, toast the coconut on a baking sheet until golden brown (3-7 minutes). Grease a 9 inch pie plate and set aside. Put 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top to soften; set aside. Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter.

Set aside 2 tablespoons of the toasted coconut, then pulse the remaining in a food processor with the graham crackers, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and salt. Once fine crumbs have formed, drizzle in the melted butter until combined. Pour it into the pie plate, using a flat bottomed measuring cup to compact it evenly on the bottom and up the sides.

Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely.

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of the lime zest, the eggs and yolk, and the gelatin until well blended. Then whisk in the lime juice. Set the bowl over a saucepan with an inch of simmering water in it. You don't want the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture very thickly coats a metal spoon or until it reaches 190 degrees. This should take 8-16 minutes. Don't let it boil. If it's not thickening up, reduce the temperature and continue to cook, whisking, for a few more minutes. (Mine thickened up after about 10 minutes.)

Once it's thick, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of butter, one tablespoon at a time until melted and well blended. Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water until cold, stirring occasionally (10-20 minutes).

Spread the lime curd in the crust and chill uncovered for about two hours. Then whip your cream and spread over the curd. Top with the raspberries and the remaining toasted coconut and lime zest.


What I wish I'd done differently: I wish I had packed the graham cracker crust better. Mine ended up feeling dry and crumbly and overwhelmed the filling. Also, the recipe doesn't call for sweetening the whipping cream, but I wish I had added just a tablespoon or so of sugar as I was whipping it. I would totally make this again, though. The lime curd is so bright and creamy and delicious.

Are you counting down the days until summer vacation, too? We're at 4!

Friday, May 12, 2017

happy weekend


Elliot turned seven last week, and ever since then, he's been gelling his hair before school and looking way too grown up. Ah! I don't know if I can take it. Elliot is full of personality, a good playmate, and a great baseball player. He is always getting his siblings outside to jump on the trampoline or ride vehicles, and likes to be in the middle of the action. He'd eat oatmeal every morning if he could and still likes a good snuggle first thing when he wakes up. And also, he looks exactly like his dad. :)

Two things we tried this week for dinner (and most of us liked): Spicy Instant Pot Carrot Soup (not too spicy and served over rice) and Breakfast Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce (assembled in the morning, kept in the fridge, and then popped in the oven at dinner time--I love when I can do that!).

What I'm making myself for Mother's Day: The Best Yellow Cake. I haven't been eating sugar all week, saving it up for Mother's Day, so I am really looking forward to eating this cake. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting will always be one of my most favorite desserts, but I've never made a successful homemade version. I am excited to try this recipe!

I hope you have a happy weekend, especially on Sunday.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

because it's almost Mother's Day


Every Mother's Day for the past four years, I have taken a photo with my children on our living room step. This is the first time I've seen them all together, and oh, I love them! It is one of my favorite traditions. Look how teeny Elliot was in that first one!

Mother's Day can be tricky. I have found that what works best for me is to do everything that I normally do, while trying really hard to have gratitude in my heart for the opportunity. I have been blessed with some really wonderful kids to mother, and that is reason to celebrate! And if I get flowers or chocolate or a card on top of that, then it should be a really great day.

But here's the thing. Lately, I have been feeling under appreciated. I don't want to go into Mother's Day feeling that way. I don't ever want to feel that way. It doesn't lead to any sort of happiness, but sometimes that feeling is hard to shake. But when Sister Eubank read this quote from Eliza R. Snow in her Women's Conference address, I got the shaking I was looking for:

Sister Snow said, "We want to be ladies in very deed, not according to the term of the word as the world judges, but fit companions of the Gods and Holy Ones. In an organized capacity we can assist each other in not only doing good but in refining ourselves. ... Women should be women and not babies that need petting and correction all the time. I know we like to be appreciated but if we do not get all the appreciation which we think is our due, what matters? We know the Lord has laid high responsibility upon us, and there is not a wish or desire that the Lord has implanted in our hearts in righteousness but will be realized, and the greatest good we can do to ourselves and each other is to refine and cultivate ourselves in everything that is good and ennobling to qualify us for those responsibilities."

Oh man, she just laid it all out there, didn't she? Sister Snow was a wise and strong lady, and I admire her greatly. And so I am going to do what she says and stop seeking appreciation. I have a work to do and it is really important, so I best get on with it and stop feeling sorry for myself.


And also, grow my hair back out. I need to do that, too. :)

Monday, May 08, 2017

the main thing


I must not have learned this lesson yet, because I keep coming across things that remind me to focus on what is most important in my life and to not worry so much about the rest. I seem to go through waves of feeling like I can handle my load and feeling like it's going to swallow me up. Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed and swallowed. In the quiet hours of my Sunday morning yesterday, I sought comfort and inspiration from the keynote address at last week's Women's Conference at BYU. The keynote speech, by Sister Sharon Eubank, was wonderful. But it was in the brief message by President Kevin J. Worthen, President of BYU, given before Sister Eubank spoke that I found what I needed to hear.

He said, "I know life well enough to know that for all of you sooner or later and for most of us multiple times, there are struggles in life. We live in some very challenging times. There is turmoil, lack of civility, our values are under attack and then you add to that the complexities of our own individual lives. And we can feel that we are at war because in one sense, we are at war. In such times I am reminded of advice that was received by Major General Robert Scales . . . in Vietnam . . . his platoon sergeant said, 'Men, in combat, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Otherwise you die.' We can get ourselves caught up in lots of different causes and worries and concerns and in those situations, when everything seems to be swirling around us, what we need to keep in mind is the main thing. What is that main thing? Alma 7:7 records it this way: 'For Behold, I say unto you there be many things to come; and behold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all--for behold, the time is not far distant that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people.'

"That is the main thing. The gospel of Jesus Christ--the good news that as a result of Christ, we can have hope no matter what the situation, we can have help even when we think we are helpless. There is no problem He cannot help us solve as a result of His great sacrifice for us. . . In those moments when life seems to be completely complex and out of control and we have no hope at all, if we will think about Jesus, we will be blessed."

So this week I am going to try to keep the main thing the main thing. I am going to try to let the less important things slide away out of my vision, and keep my eyes fixed on Jesus Christ. I will repeat to myself the words "faith and family" when I am feeling overwhelmed. Because my faith and my family are what keep me anchored. When they are my focus, the rest doesn't feel quite so overwhelming or important.


photo from Mabel's incredible Millennial Choir and Orchestra concert last weekend

Monday, May 01, 2017

small and simple ways


A few years ago I felt like I needed to improve my everyday practices of faith--things like reading my scriptures, saying my prayers, and attending the temple. I felt like I needed to obtain good habits in those areas so that I would be prepared for more challenging days ahead. It was a prompting that I couldn't shake, and so I started reading my scriptures everyday. I started reading them with my children. I made a better effort at my prayers, and I attended the temple much more regularly.

Because of this prompting, when Elder L. Whitney Clayton said the following in his talk during General Conference, my spirit recognized it as truth: "When we decide to do 'whatsoever [God] saith unto' us, we earnestly commit to align our everyday behavior with God's will. Such simple acts of faith as studying the scriptures daily, fasting regularly, and praying with real intent deepen our well of spiritual capacity to meet the demands of mortality. Over time, simple habits of belief lead to miraculous results. They transform our faith from a seedling into a dynamic power for good in our lives. Then, when challenges come our way, our rootedness in Christ provides steadfastness for our souls. God shores up our weaknesses, increases our joys, and causes 'all things [to] work together for [our] good.'"

I loved Elder Clayton's talk, Whatsoever He Saith unto You, Do It, and wanted to share my favorite bits here for this week's conference report.

In speaking about simple, daily acts of faith, Elder Clayton said, "I have observed that those who are deliberate about doing the 'small and simple things'--obeying in seemingly little ways--are blessed with faith and strength that go far beyond the actual acts of obedience themselves and, in fact, may seem totally unrelated to them. It may seem hard to draw a connection between the basic daily acts of obedience and solutions to the big, complicated problems we face. But they are related. In my experience, getting the little daily habits of faith right is the single best way to fortify ourselves against the troubles of life, whatever they may be. Small acts of faith, even when they seem insignificant or entirely disconnected from the specific problems that vex us, bless us in all we do."

It reminds me of some of my favorite counsel from the Book of Mormon. The book of Alma, chapter 37 tells of the compass, or Liahona, that was given to the prophet Lehi and his people. This compass showed them the way to go as they traveled through the wilderness, but it only worked if they were living righteously and had faith in God. Verse 40 says, "And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day."

It continues, "Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey; Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions. For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land."

And then my favorite part: "And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise."

I know that it is through those small, simple acts that miracles can occur in my own life. I don't want to be lost in the wilderness, hungry and thirsty for direction. I want to find that land of promise, and I believe that I can if I read my scriptures and say my prayers and do all of the other little things that are asked of me.

Elder Clayton said, "Every day, consciously or otherwise, we all choose 'whom [we] will serve.' We demonstrate our determination to serve the Lord by faithfully engaging in daily acts of devotion. The Lord promises to direct our paths, but for Him to do that, we have to walk, trusting that He knows the way because He is 'the way.'"

We have to walk. I want to walk. And I know that when I do--when I engage in those daily acts of devotion--I am showing Him that I am willing to follow Him.

I think I'll always be grateful for that prompting I received a few years ago to be more solid in my gospel habits. I have been through some challenging days since then, but my faith has been strong and my challenges not as daunting as they otherwise might have been. I am not perfect in my devotion. Some days I don't feel like reading my scriptures or saying my prayers. Some days feel too busy to fit these things in, but when I put them first and do them anyway, it's like my days are lengthened and I have time to accomplish all that is required of me. I can see that when my effort is stronger, my life is happier.

You can listen to, watch, or read all of Elder Clayton's talk here.

Friday, April 28, 2017

happy weekend


That beautiful new dishwasher right there represents true love. Here's why: Our old dishwasher broke a few months ago, and I have been hand washing our dishes ever since (#firstworldproblems, I know). But because he loves me, Mike took our tax return (the first we've gotten in years!) and bought a new one. Be still my heart! I am trying to retrain myself so that instead of scrubbing all of the dishes in the sink before putting them in the dishwasher like I have always done, I just scrape the food off and put them in unrinsed, as per the dishwasher's instructions. So far so good. We've been living in our house long enough now where we might have to start fixing and replacing things, I guess. I like that settled, long-term feeling.

Our activities are starting to wind down, and it feels great. Slower, less busy days are on the horizon. Mike only has a few days left of his first year of MBA school, and he is definitely due for a break, or in the very least, a nice, long nap. He has worked so hard! But before that happens we have one more baseball game, a few more volleyball matches, two really big choir concerts, and Mike has a few more finals to take.

It's not too hot here yet, so we'll be outside this weekend, trying to get our yard in order before summer hits.

What do you have planned?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

weights + scriptures


When Mike brought home a humongous weight bench (that takes up almost our entire Arizona room and can be seen from the front door!) a few years ago, I thought he was nuts. But now it's part of my favorite morning routine.

Two mornings a week, in between the time that I send my big kids and my little kids to school, I lift weights and read my scriptures. Mike and I use the StrongLifts 5x5 app. I love that it is simple (just five sets of five reps for three exercises). The app keeps track of how much weight I am supposed to lift and counts down my rest time in between sets. I love that I don't have to think about it, and in between my sets, I can step into the kitchen and think about my scriptures instead.

Combining my scripture study with my weight training gives me time to focus and think about what I am reading. It forces me to slow down. I feel like I get more out of my reading, and lifting weights (something I thought I would hate) makes me feel stronger, have better posture, and feel more confident.

I look forward to these mornings almost more than any others.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Easter, finally


Do you ever go back to bed after you've sent your kids off to school? Sometimes it is so tempting! I was babysitting nieces and nephews last week and I feel like I am still catching up on sleep. But rather than nap this morning, I feel the pull to write here for a minute.

Easter fell right in the middle of my eight day babysitting stint, so here I am, more than a week later, finally thinking about it. I try to keep Easter as religious as possible at our house. We don't do Easter baskets, or presents, and we hardly ever dye eggs. This year, because things were hectic with all of those extra kids, we didn't even do an egg hunt. I don't think anyone missed it. And I definitely didn't miss having all of that candy around the house. Our one non-religious tradition comes from Mike's childhood. He hides a chocolate bunny for everyone to find on Easter morning.

The rest of the day was spent worshipping at church as a family and with Mike's parents at Sunday dinner. My nieces and nephews went to their grandma's house that day, so it was a nice, quiet break for me.

I love Easter with the hope and rebirth that comes with it. I know that because Jesus Christ lived and died and lived again, so can I. And so can my family. Because He atoned for my sins, I can try again and again, as often as it takes for me to become more like Him. These things bring me peace in a world that is so lacking in peace, and I am grateful for a religion that helps me to know them.

I hope your Easter was a happy one.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

some Easter things


If you are looking for some extra Easter inspiration this week, here are my four favorite little videos (each is only about 2 minutes long, but so powerful!):

#Hallelujah - As Easter Message about Jesus Christ

He Lives - Celebrate Easter because Jesus Christ Lives

Because of Him

His Sacred Name - An Easter Declaration


more Easter videos here


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

some things


We went to the Easter Pageant last night. If you are local and haven't been yet, it is running through Saturday at the Mesa Temple. It is one of our favorite Easter traditions, and portrays the life of the Savior through song, dance, and drama. It is the largest Easter pageant in the world, and I feel really lucky to live so close to it.

Speaking of Easter, my kids and I have been talking more about the Holy week this year. I think it's important that we know what the Savior did during His final week in mortality. The more we know, the more real it will be to us. So we've been taking just a few minutes at dinner to talk about what happened to the Savior each day. And then we've been watching one of the videos highlighting some principles of peace that the Savior taught. These videos are super short, but so relevant to our life today. I really like them.

My favorite quote from General Conference this week is from Mark A. Bragg's talk, Brighter and Brighter Until the Perfect Day. It's a short talk and worth a listen. In it, he said, "May we be strengthened by the light that is available to us through greater participation at church and greater application of gospel principles in our families." I have a testimony of this. I believe that our Heavenly Father wants to bless us with light, and peace, and understanding, and comfort, and everything else that we need, but it takes work on our part. We must make an effort to seek that light. I have found in my own life that as I seek the light through participation at church and application of the gospel in my home, it has come. Little bits of it have consistently come that add up to a bright understanding, which gives me peace and assurance - two things that I really need in this life.

Something that has helped me get through my sewing projects this week: the Escape to the Country Collection on Netflix. The show highlights an area of the English countryside, then shows prospective buyers three adorable properties. It is helping me to fulfill my life-long dream of living in the English countryside in a home full of centuries-old character. Plus, it's British, and I think we can all agree that they make better television. Have you seen it?

I hope your week is going well!

Friday, April 07, 2017

happy weekend


It's little league season! Hooray! Elliot and I went out to the park after school yesterday to practice hitting some balls. He was mostly excited about wearing his new baseball socks, but he did manage to hit two balls out of the park and into our neighbor's yard. It's volleyball season, too, and after a little bit of practice with Stella, she asked if she "could go inside and do [her] homework now." Ha! So maybe volleyball isn't her thing, but she sure has fun with all of the girls on her team.

Here's some good news: Mike placed second in a pitch contest at school! He got a humongous check and everything. He did a great job and I am so proud of his hard work. His winning idea was a mosquito killing fan, so maybe we're getting into the mosquito killing business? I'll keep you posted.

I have a mountain of laundry to catch up on today, and some sewing projects to finish. But then I'll be ready to party. And by party, I mean attend little league and volleyball games. :)

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, April 06, 2017

more like Mary

 

These are the busiest days of my motherhood, and I don't think things are going to slow down. As my children get older and are more involved in school and sports and music and church and everything else that is beneficial and good, I think this will become the norm. I have never been a "busy" person, and so this new reality has been a difficult adjustment for me. But I had a revelation at the temple this morning and I'd like to share it here.

I have always been uncomfortable with the story of Mary and Martha. Remember, when Jesus Christ came to their house, Martha got busy. There was legitimate work that needed to be done to prepare for and accommodate His visit, and she was going to see that it was completed. Mary, on the other hand, ignored the work and sat at the Savior's feet. I have always been a Martha, and so when the Savior gently rebuked her for complaining that Mary wasn't helping, I couldn't help but take a small bit of offense. But I am beginning to see that sometimes (all the times), I need to be a Mary.

So when there is housework to be done and children to shuttle and food to prepare and so much sewing to do, I can't lose sight of the most important work--the spiritual and holy work--for myself and my family. On our busiest days, I need to set aside those less important things to make sure I am making time for personal and family scripture study, for meaningful personal and family prayer, and for things like Family Home Evening, family councils, and church callings.

I was feeling particularly burdened by my load this morning and thought about skipping my weekly temple time to get some work done. But I remembered the commitment I had made to my Heavenly Father to get to the temple as often as I can, and I remembered how great I feel when I visit the temple, so I went. And in the midst of my worry and weariness, the Spirit taught me (as it does every time I let it).

Here's to being more like Mary, for setting aside more time for holiness and for worrying a little less about the less important things.

Monday, April 03, 2017

the prince of peace


The blossoms were popping in Salt Lake City this weekend. It was so fun for me and Mike to be there on Saturday during General Conference. We didn't attend the meeting, but we watched it in our hotel room nearby and then listened to some of it on Temple Square before we flew home.

Usually when I watch General Conference, I find a theme. My theme might be different than your theme. In fact, it probably is. That's the amazing thing about conference, we can receive inspiration that is personal and specific to us, even though the same messages are given to millions of people.

My theme can be summed up in a quote from Joseph Smith. When asked what the fundamental principles of our religion are, he answered, "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it."

It is easy to get caught up in the "other things." But Jesus Christ is the only thing that really matters. That is the message I heard at conference. That I need to know Him better than I do now. I need to study His life more than I do now. I need to follow Him with all my heart. And if I do, I will have His peace in my life, for He is the #PRINCEofPEACE.


I love this new Easter video and I am excited to explore some principles (like compassion and faith and gratitude and five more!) that will help me understand Jesus Christ better. You can learn more at mormon.org or by clicking on the banner to the left.