Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Tournament Game With Half Time Entertainment

Yesterday Connor's team played their last game of the season.  They did not win their game, but it was still one of the most enjoyable games I have ever watched.  A good part of that was that Connor was playing and Derek was coaching, but our team this year had heart, and they tried to do what Derek said (most of the time).  They were even generous with the one player who would lose the ball almost every time he touched it.  They wanted him to score at least once.

When we walked in to the gym we saw a team that was big.  Our team is -- not big.  It appeared that we were to play a team of giants.  Our guys were shorter, and weighed less.  I thought we were doomed.  Derek thought we might lose by 20 or more (though he never said that to the team!)  Much to our delight, we were ahead for a lot of the first half, and were tied at half time.

The half time entertainment for those who were observant was Dan doing some "moves" out on the basketball court.  The score keeping lady loved it.  Dan had informed us at dinner that he is a music boy.  He told us that he sings and dances, but he mostly dances at home, just sometimes at school.  His moves have been missing for a while so I was glad that "music boy" reappeared.

The second half started out badly for our team and we got behind.  Still, the most we were ever behind was ten points and we sure scared them towards the end.  We got so close!  It was disappointing to lose, but since they were somewhat skilled giants it was sure fun to give them a good game.  Hooray for a good season of basketball!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Contrast in Coaching

Connor and Derek love basketball AND cars.
Derek is Connor's basketball coach this year.  Last Saturday they had their last game before the tournament and we were treated to a display of contrasting coaching styles.  Derek is encouraging.  He points out the good things the boys do, tries to help them stay calm, and reminds them of how they should play against each kind of defense, and what their plan for the offense is.  He reminds them that everyone gets five fouls and as long as you aren't out there trying to hurt anyone then you don't need to get upset when the ref calls a foul -- even if you think you didn't make one.

The other coach, who I think is probably a really nice guy in regular life, shouted and shouted at his players, and acted like our players were really his teams' enemy and not just their opponent. He yelled at the ref constantly.  At one point he jumped off of his bench and went to yell at the ref on the court.  The other ref kindly put his arm around him and quietly explained that he needed to calm down, and stay on his bench if he wanted to keep coaching the game.

This coach did good things too.  When Connor made an awesome last second shot before the third quarter buzzer sounded, he clapped.  I just was glad that Connor didn't end up with him as a coach since I think Connor would have decided he didn't like playing city league ball after all.  The game was very close.  Our guy hit what we thought was the game winner, but there were two seconds left.  The other team threw up a miraculous swish of a three pointer right at the buzzer to win.  Our team was sad to lose, but they did play a good game, and have done a good job of having fun.  The tournament starts today and maybe this time we'll get the winning shot.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

One Good Thing

This story actually took place before Connor was born, but it's hard to find the perfect picture!
When the girls were little Derek would often come home from work at 5:30.  We could hardly wait to see him, and were ready to greet him with all of our woes.  We all loved to have someone who would listen to our grievances with sympathy.  Our days were good, but by 5:30 we were tired, and grumpy, and often forgot the good parts.  We never really stopped to think that being bombarded with bad things wasn't Derek's favorite way to be greeted.

Finally, Derek started asking us to tell him one good thing about our day before we said anything negative.  This changed our focus from what went wrong on any given day, to what went right.  It led to a lot happier conversations than our daily tattle sessions.  Now, years later, Kayli has taken it upon herself to make sure we all remember something good about our day at dinner time.  It is really easy in moments of exhaustion to look back and remember the day in a grumpy way, but if we honestly try, we can look back on our day and find at least one good thing.

Monday, February 25, 2013

That Table is in Trouble!

Our table.  It has received many lectures over the years.
Derek is really good at handling hurts with humor.  So, often, when our children would run into walls, or objects, and would get a little hurt, the object would suffer his "wrath".  For example, if one of the kids ran into the table, and was crying, Derek would give that table a stern lecture, and maybe even spank it.  Pretty soon the hurt child would be laughing and trying really hard to convince their Dad that tables can not hear anything. 

I was surprised the first time I saw this.  I don't think I would have ever thought to do that, but it works.  I have lectured tables and walls myself with resulting giggles, and we all know that giggles are better than wails any day.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What to Do With Doubts

Picture from

This is a story about a time that I doubted all that I knew, and still know, to be true.  This was the kind of doubt that can come to anyone who hears something out of the realm of their experience, or who is surprised to find that prophets are human, and not perfect.

In my memory I always believed in Jesus and loved Him.  I feel like faith in Jesus Christ is a gift I was given when I was very young.  I also have always believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet.  I had already had prayers answered many times.  I knew that Priesthood power had been restored to Earth, and I loved the Book of Mormon.  So it surprised me one day, while reading a book about Joseph Smith, when I came across something that made me feel like I had the feet knocked out from under me.

This was a biography that talked about Joseph, seer stones, and treasure hunting.  It was something out of my experience and I did not understand.  I felt like I had lost my anchor.  I was very afraid.  The question came to me, "What will I do if the gospel really is not true?"  I looked around at the life I loved, and thought of the promises I had made, and wondered what the right thing to do was.  Somehow, I failed to stop and realize that I still knew that Jesus lived, loved me, and atoned for me.  I didn't remember all of the times that my prayers had been answered.  The fear had taken over.

I talked to Derek about these things.   He explained what I had read in a helpful way, but I still felt unsure.  This is where years of teaching and habit came to the rescue.  I prayed.  I asked Heavenly Father if Joseph was a prophet.  I got no answer that I could hear, or feel. I read scriptures with Derek, and on my own, and then, when it was Sunday, I went to church.  There in Relief Society we sang Joseph Smith's First Prayer.  As I sang, I could feel the Holy Ghost testifying to me from my head all the way down to my toes that what I sang was true.  As has often been the case with me, my prayer was answered through music.

Prophets have taught that one of the best ways to strengthen our testimony, and to remember it, is to share it.  When we say what we believe out loud, the Holy Ghost testifies to us that what we say is true.  This can happen when we sing too.  It is normal to have questions and doubts, and when we do, the same scripture that helped Joseph, will help us.

James 1:5-6  "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Raffi to the Rescue

Raffi -- from google images
Raffi is a musician who sings children's music.  His music has rescued me on more than one occasion.  To me his music is like a cool spring breeze blowing through a hot stuffy room.  I find it refreshing.

When Trisa was a baby I worked at a day care center.  I was a substitute and so I taught different age groups on different days.  One of my least favorite rooms to work in was the toddler room.  This may surprise those of you who know what a huge fan I am of toddlers.  They are all SO cute, and a little funny.  I often smile constantly when I get the chance to watch them.  However, all day, in a not too big room, with eight toddlers, and one other teacher can seem to drag on for at least a week.  Toddlers love to climb, and the little furniture the day care provided made it easy for them.  So the whole day would be spent saying, "Get down from the table!  Get down from the table!  Get down from the table!"  and then there would be a break to change a stinky diaper, or to say "Don't throw the toys!"  "Don't hit!"

At the end of the day it was down to just me and four or five toddlers, and time was dragging.  I was sure the day was never going to end.  Then I saw an old fashioned tape recorder that wasn't quite as old fashioned back then as it is now.  I hit play, and for the first time that I can remember, I heard Raffi sing.  It was cheerful, and all of a sudden the room felt a lot less like a trap, and more like a pleasant place to be.  The music had rescued me from the tension I was feeling after a long day, and I enjoyed those little people until we could all go home.

Another time, when Dan was two, we had the blessing of getting to go stay on a house boat at Lake Powell with a lot of my family (thanks again Jeff and Jenny).  Derek was travelling with Trisa in a different car because he couldn't stay the whole time.  Dan was with me and the other kids.  The longer we drove the bigger my headache got, and the more grumpy Dan got.  Finally, I told Tia we had to change music and I asked her to put on children's music.  Dan loved, and actually still loves, Raffi singing songs about ducks.  That children's music made such a huge difference!  I had felt trapped in that car with my head pounding, but as Dan and I sang along to duck songs, and I entertained other drivers by dancing in the drivers seat to some other children's music, my headache faded, and the mood in the car shifted.

I am thankful for Raffi!  As an interesting side note, when I still thought threatening children was a good way of parenting, I told Trisa that if she didn't stop throwing a tantrum I would turn the Raffi music off.  "NOOOOOO!"  Trisa did not like that idea.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Warning Bells: A Dating Story

picture from google images

Once, when I was on a date, the boy said, in a rather commanding voice, "Hold my hand!"  I did not want to hold his hand, and I was uncomfortable.  I didn't know what to do, and perhaps out of fear, or a desire to avoid conflict, I held his hand.  This sent him the unfortunate message that I would allow him to control me.  Foolishly, though this should have been a warning bell, I even went out with him again.  This was a difficult relationship to get out of.  He did not want to let me go.  I believe he thought that if he exerted enough pressure, I would do what he wanted.

So, my advice is simple.  If someone commands you to hold their hand, and you are not about to fall off a cliff, or a tall building, it's okay to say "no thanks", and maybe even to suddenly remember something you have to do at home.  If they command you to do anything, especially if it makes you uncomfortable, then this is a warning bell and it is time to get out.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Awkward vs. Awkward and Painful: A Dating Story

image from

Once upon a time there was a nineteen year old girl who was sure that life was going to pass her by.  She had never yet had a boyfriend, unless you count first grade when she was Sheldon's second best girlfriend.  She had been on dates, but it seemed like the boys she liked didn't like her back, and vice versa.  She was pretty sure something was wrong with her.  Then a boy asked her out who was a good friend of a friend.  He was a returned missionary.  This girl's roommates liked him.  They thought he was nice, and funny.  She went out with him a time or two and was pretty sure this was not a relationship that would work out for her.

Of course, the girl was me.  My roommates thought that I "looked good" with this boy and they encouraged me to "give him a chance".  Since I was pretty convinced that something was wrong with me, I decided I should try harder to like him.  It sounds dumb, and it was.  This is one of those experiences I'm not particularly fond of remembering.  I dated that poor boy long enough to hurt him when I broke up with him.  He cried.  I felt awful.  If I had been honest with myself, and with him, it would have ended much sooner and been less painful.

When dating, the opinion of others on how you look together, or how awesome the boy's sense of humor is, or their opinion that he is nice, or handsome, should not really factor in to what you do.  If you feel good about dating the person, and there are no warning bells going off in your mind, then you should accept another date.  If you are sure after the first date that this is not going to work for you, then it is better to be honest, and say no the next time.  Awkward is better than awkward and painful! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Charming Meets Naive

picture from

In the same marriage prep class where I learned that men don't get hints, I also learned that the person you are dating won't change after you are married.  But everyone does change, right?  So what did my professor mean?  Here's a story to illustrate:

When I was in college I had a friend.  He was tall, dark, handsome, and charming.  He was raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He had served a mission.  Unfortunately, he also liked to go to Las Vegas on the occasional weekend to gamble.  I was flattered that he liked to talk to me, and I enjoyed his company.  One day we were both setting up for a ward dance and he asked, "Why do girls like you never go out with guys like me?"  I said something terribly clever like, "Because guys like you don't ask girls like me to go out."  I was naive, and probably would have gone out with him had he asked.

So, suppose our story was different, and Charming had asked out Naive.  She liked his company, and was frankly a bit lonely.  They had fun together.  They had things in common.  They fell in love and decided to get married.  They both believed the other would change.  Charming felt that, once they were married, she would go on a trip with him to Vegas and she would loosen up a little and discover that gambling was fun.  Naive knew that Charming was aware that gambling went against what they had been taught and that she didn't like it.  He loved her and he would not want her to be unhappy!  She was sure he would not gamble anymore once they were married.

Of course, before they have been married for too long, Charming will want to take her gambling, and she will refuse to go.  He will be offended, and so will she.  He will determine to have fun anyway.  She will determine to teach him what is right and will nag him when he gets home.  Pretty soon he will want to leave more, and she will want to nag more, and neither one will be happy.  Could they change?  Yes.  But will they change before they wreck their relationship?  Maybe not.

The truth is, if someone loves to gamble before they get married, they will love to gamble after they get married.  If they tell their Mom every word you say and everything you do before you are married, they will do the same afterwards.  If they play video games for hours every day before they get married, they still are going to do that after!  It really is best to find someone who you can love without exception.  Find someone who makes you feel like you want to be a better person when you are with them, and not someone that you feel you can "fix" or "save".

Keep in mind that this is a lesson from a marriage prep class.  If you are Charming, or Naive, and have already married someone who you thought would change, you are now operating under a different set of rules including "love your choice", and "you can only change yourself".  There is still hope for your happily ever after, and there are other stories I will tell another time that might help.

As a final aside, it is true that in the story above, Naive is also charming (of course!), and Charming also happens to be naive.  They both failed to realize that the person they were dating would not change when they were married.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Reason to Rejoice

The Manti Temple
Photo from
This is the temple where Derek's parents were married.
Today is my brother-in-law Alex' birthday.  He would have been thirty today.  As I tried to decide what to write about, I thought it would be a perfect day to be thankful for temples, the sealing power of the priesthood, and the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith said, "The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again. … "

It is hard not to wonder every year what Alex would look like now, and if he would have the same sense of humor as the rest of his family, and where he would live, and many other things.  But we will not have to wonder forever.  One day we will have him again, and that is a good reason to rejoice.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Working Vacation: A Family Project

This is the carpet we've had for 15 years.  You can see the main path through the room.
This is also the start of ripping out the carpet on Friday.

 This is the guest room where all of the stuff stayed.  It's a good thing we didn't have company this weekend!
 Jake Derek and Connor at the beginning of the project.
 Dan.  One of his main jobs seems to be posing on the floor after it's done.
 Kayli, Connor, and Derek -- almost done!
 All done.  The glowing spots are from the camera.
The room all put back together, with the Knight and the Princess in their proper places.
Derek (Dad):  Was the chief and the muscle.
Connor:  Main assistant with some heavy lifting.
Sherie (Mom):  Prep work including taking out baseboards -- which isn't fun.  Painter.
Kayli:  Helped Derek and Connor in the main room and did the closet floor with Mom.  Heavy Lifting, dusting.
Jake:  Helped with the main floor and with odd jobs.
Dan:  Said "I've done a lot of work today.  It isn't fair!"  He vacuumed, mopped some, posed for a picture, and ??????
Everyone was very helpful and good sports with only one fit from Dan.  He perked up when Kayli took him and Connor to pick up food.  Working holidays can be rewarding.  Family Home Evening was watching church videos while we ate and having yummy cinnamon rolls for treat.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Sweetheart Kayli

Kayli and her date Bryant before the Sweethearts Dance.
These pictures are courtesy of Bryants mom.

Not Forgotten

Centennial 2 apartment complex, only I don't think it looked this nice back then.
This is where I llived at the time this story took place.
One of the challenges that I have is that ocasionally I get to feeling lonely, and forgotten.  Usually, I know the feeling will pass, and I am fine.  But I remember once in college when I had a particularly difficult time.  It was the week before Halloween.  Halloween was on Saturday, and all of my roommates had plans.  I had been invited to a party, but it was a party full of acquaintances -- people I did not know well.  As I was walking over, I saw some of my friends leaving on dates, and I felt left out.  I went to the party, but soon they went to turn on a movie that was against the standards that I had lived my whole life.  I quietly got up and left, and walked home.

When I got to my apartment it was dark.  Nobody was home, and the feelings of loneliness seemed to close around me.  I remember lying on my bed and crying.  My journal reports that I cried for three hours.  I read the scriptures and found the words "Fear not for I am with you" comforting.   I decided that I could pray and fast that I wouldn't feel so lonely.  In my journal I wrote that I asked for a miracle, and that my friends came through to provide it.  When I went to school I saw three different friends who were happy to see me and asked how I was doing.  My home teacher even stopped me to ask if I was okay. 

The interesting thing is that nothing really changed.  My family and friends loved me the whole time.  They would have been happy to talk to me, but apparently I couldn't see that.  Thankfully, when I asked the Lord for help, he sent it in the form of kind friends and the ability to see that I was not forgotten.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Judging By Appearances

Dave, Megan, and Shannon
Megan is the baby they were carrying in to church in the story below.
When Derek and I first moved to Payson, I can remember thinking that it would be really nice to have a friend.  Derek is a great friend, but he has to go to work all day, and can't talk to me anytime I want.  One of the first weeks we attended church we sat towards the back of the chapel.  I watched my neighbors walk in. They were a beautiful family, with two children plus a new baby.  The Mom was wearing a pretty dress, had her hair was done really nice, and her makeup looked perfect, and I thought "I would never have anything in common with her!"  I've had beautiful friends before, so I'm not sure why that thought popped up.  Thankfully, we were both called to work in Primary on the music, and we quickly became friends. 

It is too easy to look at how someone is different from us in appearance and, in a stroke of foolishness, decide that because they are pretty, or ugly, or tall, or short, or in a wheelchair, or any number of other things, we probably wouldn't have anything in common with them -- and so we fail to really find out.  When we do this, we might be missing getting to know someone who would have really blessed our lives.

The friend that I foolishly thought I would have nothing in common with is my good friend Shannon.  She has saved the day for me on so many occasions that I can't even count them.  She has been fun, and kind, and compassionate.  We have a lot in common.  I shudder to think of all that I would have missed had I been allowed to follow my first thought.  Heavenly Father does not judge by appearances, but by what is in the heart, and I do not know of a more kind way that He could have reminded me that I should do the same.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The One Who Does Math, and Makes Pies

Picture from Google Images
When Derek and I were first married we were both attending BYU.  As a part of my general education I needed to take a college algebra class.  Math isn't my favorite, and I was afraid I would not do well.  I explained to Derek that my sister "Tina is the one who does math".  He asked why Tina doing math meant that I couldn't.  I figured she got all the math talent, and I didn't.  I had some pretty good memories of how I was NOT a genius at math during high school, and how it seemed easy for her.  This must mean I just couldn't do it, right?

Then one day my sister Jenny called to discuss assignments for Thanksgiving Dinner.  When we were talking about pies she said something like, "Oh, Tina is the one who makes pies."  I got off the phone and told Derek what she had said, and I also told him, in a slightly incensed voice, that I could make perfectly delicious pies!  I suspect he found this amusing and used it to prove the point he had been trying to make.  Just because one person in the family is good at something, doesn't mean someone else in the family can't be good at it too!  This is true even if it comes easier to one person than another.

I did take that college algebra class, and thanks to Derek's good tutoring, I got an A.  Of course I always liked algebra better than geometry or trigonometry, which seem to leave me feeling lost and empty headed, but I'm still rather proud that I did so well in college algebra.  I had been using my own faulty logic to excuse me from trying something that is hard for me.  Just because someone else is good at something, and it seems to come easier to them than to me, doesn't mean I couldn't do it.  Probably, if I wanted to badly enough, I too could be one who does math -- and makes pies!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's With the Avengers

 I think I have a future writing Valentines.  At eleven last night I was writing Avengers poetry for everyone that lived at home.  Don't worry, Trisa and Tia were not neglected -- but their poetry wasn't about the Avengers and I can't remember their cheesy poems.  Here are the ones I wrote last night.  I'm feeling rather pleased with myself.  Enjoy!

Dan's Valentine:  Thor has a hammer, Iron Man has a suit, I hope you enjoy Your Valentine's loot.

Jake's:  Avengers are awesome, They can save the day, When Thor swings his hammer, get out of the way!  And have a great day.

Connor's:  The Hulk has big muscles, Iron Man has a gun, And today we both hope, That you will have fun.

Kayli's:  Iron Man is red, The Hulk is green, And you are so awesome, It's like a good dream.

Mine (yes I wrote one for me too -- I didn't want to be left out!)  Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and the rest, are all pretty great but my family is best!

Derek's: The Avengers are smart, Some are handsome too, But those great Avengers Have nothing on you!

And here's an extra one for you!  Thor has his hammer, And lightning too, But I do not think, He's as awesome as you!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Receiving Gifts Graciously

These flowers are beautiful, and I am happy to report that I received them very graciously.  However, I have another memory where I did not do well at all.  It was almost time for Derek to come home, and I was grumpy.  Somehow (and this is odd) I had the feeling that Derek was going to bring me flowers, and I knew that they would be light pink carnations.  I grumpily wanted bright colored flowers.  Even with this advanced knowledge (or suspicion) of what was coming, I handled Derek's very thoughtful gesture ungraciously.

Derek had taken time out of his day to go to a store and pick up perfectly lovely flowers for me, and when he presented them, I reacted badly.  His face fell.  My heart sank.  I had disappointed him, and myself.  I knew then that I didn't deserve those flowers, and that I might never get any again, and I would deserve that too.  I apologized, but felt I couldn't really apologize enough.

Thankfully Derek is kind, and before too long he bravely brought me some beautiful red carnations, which I received in a much more gracious fashion.  However, I still wish that I had reacted to the lovely pink carnations with the same generosity that Derek showed in giving them.  Even if I hadn't felt gracious, but had acted graciously, I would have felt SO much better.  I do not believe we will ever regret receiving gifts graciously!

Jake's 11th Happy Birthday

Yesterday was Jake's birthday.  It was a good day for him.  It started out bright and early with presents, progressed to his class at school singing to him, moved ahead to him eating a giant brownie (after blowing out candles), included him eating his chosen meal of ravioli for dinner, transitioned into movie time, with a slight interruption from his college sisters who sang to him, and concluded with night snack, traditional scripture time, and hugs.  Dan was sick, but it was a mostly good day.  Here are some pictures:


Monday, February 11, 2013

Jake Had Fun!

I have taken to asking Jake if he had fun, or enjoyed the different activities that he does.  I almost always get a shrug with the comment, "sort of", or "a little".  I tease him about this, and he smiles, but still doesn't describe his activities with much enthusiasm.  However, when he came home from his birthday date with his Grandma and Grandpa C. and I asked if he had fun he smiled really big and said "Yes!" 

They took him to Wendy's where he ate all of his chicken nuggets, all of his fries, and his frosty.  He went to the BYU art museum and saw the Monsters and Heroes exhibit.  I'm afraid he didn't find the artwork very impressive (his words) so that was only -- shrug -- "okay".  Then he got to pick his own present.  He was extremely pleased about that and worked for quite a long time after he got home until he had his Lego Chima Eris Eagle put together.

I love Jake, and am continually trying to figure out what he enjoys the most.  I'm thankful for Grandparents that love him too, and spend time and money making him really happy.  Jake does enjoy grandparents, and all the nice things they do!  He's smart that way.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

When Life Seems Intolerable . . .

Sherie and Jake
You may just need a nap.  Being tired seems to have a big affect on me.  When I am tired I get frustrated and angry easier, and I cry a LOT.  Problems seem big, and unsolvable.  However, if I can just manage to sleep, a lot of times those "problems" disappear.  They were caused more by my exhaustion than by reality.  So, if everyone is seeming unreasonable, and unhelpful, and is generally "making" you mad, you might just try a nap.  It usually works for me.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


image from
Me being a "helicopter" parent and hovering.

Jake and Dan went to get fillings at the dentist on Wednesday.  They each had almost identical little cavities that needed to be taken care of.  As the ladies came and called their names, not at the same time, I stayed seated.  I realized that this is a novelty for me.  I don't want to be absent when my children need me, and I tend to hover nearby "just in case".  In thinking about this tendency I have realized that, while it is good to want to help, I may sometimes be doing them a disservice.

I have perfectly capable children, and it is possible that my hovering communicates the message to them that they can't do this (whatever this happens to be) without me.  Jake and Dan managed getting those fillings on their own, and were very well liked by their helpers.  It would be good for me to remember that maybe I will be helping them more by letting them handle things on their own.  They can do it, even without me hovering nearby!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Neither Do I Condemn Thee

image from
If you read enough of these, you will come to realize that I have had to learn the same lessons over and over again.  I especially seem to be susceptible to the idea that I am not good enough, or that I am somehow a failure, or any number of negative depressing thoughts that end in a good I'm not perfect yet pity party.  On a particularly hard morning I was crying, though I no longer recollect what I thought was so bad about me that day, and I knelt to pray.

In desperation I asked Heavenly Father to just tell me one good thing about me.  Then I was still, and listened.  A scripture came to mind almost immediately, and its words ran through my head.  The scripture was John 3:16 and 17.  I was particularly struck by the words from the 17th verse:  "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." 

I realized that I had been condemning myself for my human failings, but that God had not been condemning me at all.  I am His daughter. Isn't that one very good thing about me?  He loves me.  He sent the Savior to help me, and certainly not to make me miserable.  Learning is a process.  Heavenly Father knows my name, my strengths, and my weaknesses, and He sent the Savior to help me.  It is not my place to condemn anyone, even me.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

It's Okay to say No!

When my girls were young, and I spent a lot of time with my friend Shannon, Derek would occasionally help us practice saying no.  I think he saw and heard how busy we were, and knew that we were inclined to sign every volunteer sheet that came by.  I have a lot of friends and family who have this same inclination, and who accomplish many good things.  I have been known to feel guilt if I pass by a sign up sheet without adding my name to it, but I have learned that sometimes it really is okay to do that.  Sometimes saying no is the right thing to do.

I have learned, before signing up to help with something, or volunteering, that I should think about it in relation to my priorities.  For example, will saying yes take me away from my home at times where I feel it is important that I am present?  I like to be home when my kids are going and coming.  If saying yes takes me away at those times then I'm more inclined to say no -- depending on if it is a one time thing, or a regular thing that I am agreeing to. 

I have even learned to take into consideration what I like to do.  I have been a room mother several times and I finally figured out that I really hate that job.  Even after I knew this, I agreed one more time because nobody else would do it, but I avoid being the room mom if possible.  I do like to help though, and so I decide in what ways and at what times I can help at school, and I am happier.  I don't mind helping with parties, and I love to help kids read, or spell, or write, or even do math (as long as it's pretty basic math).

As with everything, there needs to be a balance.  If I say yes to every opportunity to help, I get frantically busy, tired, and cranky.  If I don't say yes enough, then I miss out on opportunities to make a positive difference, feel guilty, and not very useful.  Not everything that I agree to do needs to match my schedule perfectly and be something I like to do, but I have learned that it is okay to consider those things because when I'm not frantically busy, tired, and cranky I am obviously happier, and that helps my family to be happier too.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Give a Miracle

image from
Written on my white board in big green letters is the word GIVE.  My friend Marcy comes up with one word a year to represent her goals or resolutions.  I like this idea, and thought I would like to pick a word too.  There are obviously many words I could have chosen and benefited from, but this one felt right for now.  The question is, what and how should I give?

To come up with ideas I thought of the many times that people have given to me.  I have realized that often, without even knowing it, those who have helped me have created a miracle in my day.  For example, in The Multiplication of Smiles I mentioned that one girl's kind comment and cheery smile turned my day around.  Her thoughtful act has continued to influence my thinking, and has changed my life for the better.

Another night I was walking to campus in the dark for a late class.  A girl came up beside me.  I did not know her, but she struck up a conversation with me.  She asked me questions and seemed genuinely interested.  I went from feeling a little lonely, to feeling that my thoughts mattered to someone.  It made such a difference in my outlook that I have remembered, and been thankful for this stranger for many, many years.

There are so many ways that people have given to me.  I remember my Mom giving a listening ear, and compassion as I fought homesickness the first night in a new place.  I remember my Aunt giving me a comforting hug after I had been in an accident on the way to her house.  I remember neighbors tending children, offering money, and willingly watering the patch of yard we never got to.  I have been given notes, and email, and the benefit of the doubt.  I have been given friendship, food, love, ideas, perspective, and wonderful things.  Each of these gifts, and more that I have not listed, have been a miracle to me.  These gifts have helped to lift me up when I was down, and to heal the hurt from the sorrows and worries I was dealing with on that day.

I like the idea of giving.  The kind of things I have been given, I can give to someone too.  Everyone has something large, or small, that they can give every day.  We may never know the result of the things that we give, but it is possible that when we choose to give, we will be giving someone a miracle.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Remembering my "Sweet Boy" Dan

Trisa was almost 16 when Dan was born.  She and our other kids were worried that something would go wrong when their baby brother was born, so Derek made sure to call their schools as soon as possible to let them know all was well.  We found Trisa's note this weekend still pinned to the bulletin board she left behind when she went to college.  It read, "9:30 Her brother was born & is fat and healthy".  This was true and was a relief to all of us.  He was my biggest baby, and the Dr. thought he looked muscly when he was born.
I have often mentioned that I had decided I was just going to enjoy this baby.  In my mind he would be perfectly healthy, and fairly stress free.  Then he had Torticollis which made his head fall one direction and led to him always laying the same way and making his skull funny shaped.  Then we found out he was allergic to milk, and eggs, and peanuts.  Then we discovered he had asthma.  I kept mourning my plan to have a perfectly healthy, no problem baby, but I did not give up on my plan to enjoy him, and Dan is easy to enjoy.

I like this description from my journal:  Dan "is such a fun little boy.  He gets into everything and I call him my Tornado.  He says quite a few real words and lots of pseudo words.  He's very fast at sliding downstairs on his belly and he likes to follow his brothers and sisters down there.  He'll bang on Tia's door and yell for her.  It's cute and pesky to her at the same time.  He's a lot of work, but we aren't really in a hurry for him to grow up either."
One night Dan kept yelling in his room and he wanted to sit on the couch.  He fell asleep there and so I put a blanket on him and went to bed.  At three in the morning he knocked on our bedroom door and said, "I'm all done sleeping on the couch." and so we put him to bed. 

One of his prayers, obviously said while he was looking around, was "Thankful for Kayli, Mom, Jake, Tia, Dad, and not Trisa because she's at college, and Connor ..."  He is actually very thankful for Trisa and has been sad on more than one occasion that she is at college.  He gives her big hugs when she comes home, and is always hoping that this time she'll stay.  He loves Tia too.  She was always so good at talking to him when he was done with Kindergarten, and one of the things that I missed the most when she went to college was her conversations with Dan. 
Dan hasn't stopped saying amusing things yet.  He was explaining to me just the other day how he knew that monsters were real.  He went on and on about that, and his club, and how you get your "powers" after you fight a monster.  He apparently has his powers from fighting an invisible man on the playground.  Enjoying Dan is easy.  He is fun, has great moves (which, unfortunately, he has gotten shy about sharing), loves his family, likes group hugs, and generally lives his life with enthusiasm.  He really is a sweet boy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Remembering Super Jake

In my journal I described Jake's birth this way:  Jake came out feet first.  I could hear the nurses, "Oh!  Look at those little feet!  And that cute little bottom."  And then, "He's definitely a boy."  Then Jake cried, and me too because I was so happy.

Jake's birthday was very, very happy.  His birth went well, and I felt better after his birth than with any of the others.  These were all blessings, as was the talent of the surgeons who fixed his heart defects, and the family and friends who supported us through it all.  I remember seeing Jake right after his surgery.  He looked so good, and I leaned down and whispered in his ear that I loved him and he should try to get better as fast as he could.  I had the feeling that he understood me, and would do it.  He has always amazed his doctors with how well he has done, and I know that faith and prayers contributed to his quick recovery and continued good health.
Jake started to walk at 9 months old.  He was little and I remember putting him down on his feet at church once and having someone gasp because they thought he was maybe four months old.  He has always had incredible balance and would do dangerous things and be fine.  I liked taking pictures of Jake because he got into so many things.  I wrote, "...he got out a pizza pan and sat on it and he is incredibly pleased with himself when he knows he's being naughty.  It is hard to keep a straight face when he's being so full of glee!"  He liked to fake burp at the table and laugh, and fake sneeze with his sisters.  When he was one I wrote "He climbs anywhere his leg will reach."

Jake loved the "phone, phone" and could be found sitting on my bed with it any time I left the door to my room open.  He loved his shoes because they meant he got to go outside.  He'd give his shoes to someone and lay down and stick his feet up so they would put the shoes on him.  He went most everywhere with me, and was mostly a good shopping buddy, but he thought it was very funny to hide from me, which I didn't enjoy.

Jake hasn't ever been a real fan of food.  It has always been a struggle to get him to eat.  He gagged on everything, and the only thing that seemed to stop that was Derek yelling "don't gag!" at him.  We tried to get some nutritional food down him, including baby food green beans which Derek nicknamed pond scum.  So one night Jake was saying his prayer and he said "thankful I could eat carrots, pond scum, and dananas" (bananas).


Jake wasn't great at sleeping either.  I don't think he slept through the night much until he was five.  Once he wasn't sleeping and he yelled "I scary, I scary!"  He's really not a scary boy.  He is compassionate, and kind.  He's an excellent brother and he's smart too.  We are thankful for Super Jake.