Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gratitude Day 26

I did it! Thankful posts everyday till Thanksgiving. To really sum up my heart I can just simply say that I am thankful for my little family and for a Savior, that through His merits,  made it possible to be with them forever. The one is not without the other and nothing else is all that important. These two sweetest blessings encompass everything else that really matters and all that I have and all that I thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gratitude Day 25

I am grateful for the practice of writing. I have always, for as long as I can remember, been a journaler. I enjoy processing my thoughts, feelings, and experiences through writing them down. I have over 1000 blog posts recording everything from our day-to-day life to my testimony. I also have several filled journals. When you read the scriptures you are able to quickly learn that record keeping is very important to God. His people literally risked their lives to keep and preserve records. I love recording life, through this simple practice it is easy to see the hand of the Lord in our lives.

"I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done." Henry B. Eyring

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gratitude Day 24

I am thankful for humor. This morning (like many mornings) the twins were at the table finishing homework. Things were a bit tense (like many mornings) and Brylee was about to quit life altogether over a word problem. (which is a completely valid reason to quit life). I made a comment about how politically correct word problems are these days, where the names of the people in them are from cultures the span the world. (Tiamat, Chiyuta, LaFonda, Rashad, Danuta). Then Scott made up his own word problem and added in his own names and even an accent plus combined all that with ridiculous math calculations and I nearly died of hysteria. I literally had to lean on the kitchen counter and hold my gut--I couldn't even see through the laugh tears dripping down my face. MAN it feels good to laugh really really hard sometimes.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Gratitude Day 23

To say that I am grateful for November 23rd is an understatement. 16 years ago today I became a Mother. From my earliest days I dreamt of motherhood. Of course the reality is a lot harder than those little girl dreams but this is my life's work and I feel confident that motherhood is worth my very best efforts. And to be Kaden's Mother is a joy. He has a heart of gold and he is just plain good. He is helpful to his younger siblings, has memorized 100 scriptures, brings music into our home and is responsible, fun and hard working. Kaden wrapped his heart around mine all those years ago and my heart has been his ever since. Happy Birthday my darling, sweet boy, I love you more than life and breath. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gratitude Day 22

I am thankful for fasting. In our church we typically spend one Sunday a month abstaining from food and drink for at least 2 consecutive meals. We give the money we would have spent on that food to the needy. Fasting is not only a way to care for the poor but it is also a way to feel closer to God as you put your spirit in control of your body. I always tell my kids that fasting helps us practice making our spirits stronger than our body and I feel that learning to do that is so important to healthy self control habits. Fasting is a beautiful practice of faith. Yesterday was not our normal fast Sunday but I was in need of extra guidance and peace so I fasted. By the end of my fast my problems were not solved but I certainly had a increased measure of peace over the situation. Such a simple concept but an amazing tool to help us access the available help of the Lord

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Gratitude Day 21

I am truly grateful for daughters. These girls are a joy and I am so glad they are mine. Brylee is growing into a beautiful woman inside and out. Ella is full of make believe and drama and has a deep love for babies. Cali is adventurous and funny and shows her love without hesitation. I refer to them as "best sisters" quite a lot because I want them to feel united. I want them to learn to love each other and rely on eachother. I know they will need eachother down the road and I hope they are building a deep and loyal friendship right now. I think they are. Each one has a piece of my heart. To be a mother to these three amazing girls is as good as it gets.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Gratitude Day 20

I am so thankful for babies! Our little Cali girl is almost 5 and so our house is baby less for the first time in 16 years. Its both super exciting and super devastating. I love babies. Some of my earliest memories are of my baby brothers. I loved watching my Mom take care of them and helping as I got bigger. My own babies have literally been my whole heart and soul. Taking care of my babies was such a joy to me and I will always miss the privilege of having a squishy sweet smelling babe on my hip. There is just nothing quite like it in all the world. Now I get to enjoy my brothers babies and they are fully enjoyable and I love them.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gratitude Day 19

I am thankful for living Prophets. We live in a confusing world. There are so so so many differing opinions and viewpoints on any given topic. Even the Bible can be hard to understand and interpret. Last night as I was getting ready for bed Kaden came in with his scriptures open and told me that he had been reading in Exodus and found something totally confusing. It was Exodus 32:14: "And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people". He was genuinely confused and said, "I thought God was perfect so why would he repent?" In seconds I had looked up the answer to his question by finding the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible. 

Exodus 32:9–14 contains the record of a conversation between the Lord and Moses about the rebellious Israelites. These verses can be confusing because of what they say about the Lord. 

The Prophet Joseph Smith changed this verse in his inspired translation of the Bible to read as follows: “And the Lord said unto Moses, If they will repent of the evil which they have done, I will spare them, and turn away my fierce wrath; but, behold, thou shalt execute judgment upon all that will not repent of this evil this day. Therefore, see thou do this thing that I have commanded thee, or I will execute all that which I had thought to do unto my people” (Joseph Smith Translation, Exodus 32:14 
The Lord does not repent; He has no need to. The change made to Exodus 32:14 in the Joseph Smith Translation is in harmony with that doctrine. Further, this change by the Prophet corresponds to the original Hebrew, which conveys the idea of being sorry or of consoling oneself, indicating the Lord was frustrated with these people, but He did not need to repent of any wrongdoing.
The Joseph Smith translation of the Bible is such a gift. When Joseph Smith was 17 he said that the Angel Moroni told him  that his name would “be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues.” Can you even imagine? This was a kid with a 3rd grade education living in a time when computers, mass communication, telephones and T.V's were non-exsistant. I am sure the idea that his name would be had at all must have seemed impossible let alone among all nations, kindreds, and tongues. Of all the things that Joseph Smith said this one thing can not be argued. He was 100% right. Our modern day prophets are not perfect men. The apostles that Jesus called personally while He lived on Earth were not perfect either. But I am thankful for them. I am thankful that God loves us and gives us leadership and direction, in a difficult world, through living Prophets. 
“Because Heavenly Father loves His children, He has not left them to walk through this mortal life without direction and guidance. That is why He pleads so earnestly with us through His prophets. Just as we want what is best for our loved ones, Heavenly Father wants what is best for us.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Gratitude Day 18

I am grateful for the standards in the pamphlet For The Strength of Youth. I literally would be lost, in raising teenagers, with out these guidelines. Our house is very teenagerish right now. We have 3 teenagers in the middle of navigating, the sometimes treacherous world, that exists between 13 and 19. In so many ways these years are AWESOME. These kids are hysterical, their friends are down right entertaining and the activities they are involved in are so fun to watch. BUT MAN there are a lot of scary and stressful aspects to raising teenagers in a difficult world. We are so incredibly blessed with great teenagers. So far our big kids are nailing it! And so much of that, I believe, has come from the standards that we expect them to live by. Kaden will be 16 in less than a week. This is a whole new world for us. He will begin group dating and driving and for us he will also begin managing his own bank account. A few weeks ago there was a knock at our door and Kaden was asked to the Winter Formal Dance. I was smiling and snapping pictures but later I had a sort of I-AM-NOT-READY moment. But that was quickly followed by a sweet assurance that Kaden has been taught and guided and has a conviction for himself of the standards we live by. "Teach correct principals and let them govern themselves." Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gratitude Day 17

Last nights FHE activity was building our Thankful Tree

I am thankful for the Family Home Evening program. Over the years our FHE's have ranged from down right flops where everyone is mad, fighting and hating each other to little pieces of Heaven on Earth. But the heavenly FHE's have far out weighed the horrible. Oh and we've had a ton of really mediocre ones as well.

This is what the Church says about FHE.

Family home evening is a time to strengthen family ties. We do this by learning the gospel together, by listening to each other’s feelings, thoughts and ideas, and by enjoying activities together. It is usually held on Monday evenings.
The practice of learning the gospel in the home began with Adam and Eve (see Moses 6:57). It has continued throughout succeeding generations, as prophets counseled parents to teach their children to love God and follow His ways (see Deuteronomy 6:5–7Ephesians 6:4).
Family home evening is a time to enjoy each other and have fun together. Through simple activities—games, service, sharing talents, visits to local sites of interest—families create connections and build unity.
Prophets have promised great blessings to those who follow this counsel, including greater faith in the hearts of the youth, increased ability to resist temptation, and greater peace, love, and harmony in the home.
President Thomas S. Monson has said, “We cannot afford to neglect this heaven-inspired program. It can bring spiritual growth to each member of the family, helping him or her to withstand the temptations which are everywhere. The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.”
 I love FHE. It is work and it can be so hard (even a huge pain sometimes) but what a gift this practice has been to us over the years. It has helped me as a mother to sit down each week and think over what I'd like to specifically teach my children. It is a chance to bear testimony, love, eat and learn with the people I care most about. What in the whole world could be better than that? 
We will keep adding to it all month. The kids love this and they especially love it
when I make their friends add leaves to the tree :) 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Gratitude Day 14, 15 and 16

I wrote the last three posts in my head so now its time to get them written for reals. In my defense, I spoke in church yesterday. I also gave our Sharing Time lesson in Primary and I had Priesthood Preview last night. Not to mention mothering 5 kids. Plus Cali's play date, that I was desperately counting on, was canceled making last week as a whole--completely crazy. But whewww...we made it. Now for a 3 part thankful post for day 14, 15 and 16 and then off to do 5 hours of Monday cleaning. ITS A MUST!

Saturday I was able to take my two little girls and spend a few hours at my parents house. Later as I was finishing preparing my Sacrament meeting talk, which was on the blessings of fulfilling our callings, I wrote this:

I am so grateful to have grown up with parents that taught me by example to fulfill callings to the best of my ability, I saw the joy they had in their callings and a seed was planted in my heart that has always stayed with me.

I am grateful for my parents. I am thankful for each of the good things I have learned from them.

Like I said on Sunday I spoke, gave sharing time and worked with the Priesthood to put on our Priesthood Preview meeting. I just cant say how thankful I am for church work and for callings. Dallin H Oaks said,

The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become converted. It teaches us what we should do, and it provides us opportunities to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become. The full measure of this conversion to men and women of God happens best through our labors in His vineyard. … 

I cant imagine trying to develop all the Christ-like attributes that I want such as compassion and sacrifice without church work. Because members of the church are never paid for their church work it gives us a unique opportunity to serve and sacrifice in a way that ends up blessing our lives beyond measure. Its the genius and inspired way of the Lord and I love it. 

Today I am thankful for my home and for my ability and opportunity to take care of it. For as long as I have been a Homemaker (17+ years) I have used Monday to clean my house. Let me tell you that by Monday morning this place is a Frat House. The mess of food, clothes, weekend activities, little girl art projects, friends, homework and the disaster of getting all 7 of us to 8am church is momentous. 

It is so much work to get through all the bathroom scrubbing, floors, vacuuming, straightening and dusting but I am thankful that I have a home and that I have a healthy body that allows me to keep it. I am also so grateful that I have a sense of passion and duty about being a Homemaker that lets me see the sometimes mundane work of it as a divine privileged. I am so honored. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Gratitude Day 13

I am so grateful for Scott. How could a month of daily blessings go by without mention of him? It couldn't really because he could be in every post, to tell you the truth. We passed our 17th anniversary back in the summer and it just feels like every year gets better and more comfortable and sweeter. Hard? Yes. Perfect? No. But happy and good? Absolutely. Scott and I-we are in this together! And nothing feels better than that.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Gratitude Day 12

I am thankful today that yesterday was a day off of school. My Dad was nice enough to take my three big kids on a dirt bike ride for Kaden's upcoming birthday. My kids LOVE riding the dirt bikes with my Dad. The little girls and I spent the morning cleaning, watching cartoons, napping, bubble bathing and then we loaded the bikes for a day at the park. We fed ducks, rode down the hills, dug in the sand, swang on the swings and had a picnic. IT WAS THE LIFE! The icing on the cake was that we ran into no less than 4 different sets of friends. Nothing feels quite as good to me as being free from the grip of a schedule for a bit. These random, middle of the week days off of school are magical little nuggets of relief that give us added fuel to make to the finish line. I love them!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gratitude Day 11

Thankful for my brothers that serve our country. I love my brothers so much. There just aren't very many people that can say they have seven brothers and I feel lucky that I can. Last month I read a book about a little girl and her family that were WWII POW's in the Philippines. They suffered for three and a half years before they were liberated by the American forces. In her book she said that you never really appreciate your liberty until it is taken away. I believe it but I think we can still try.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Gratitude Day 10

Do you ever come across something unexpectedly that brightens your day at just the right moment? I was mindlessly scrolling through my phone's camera roll the other day, during a particularly difficult afternoon, in an attempt to just have a few minutes of down time for my scattered brain and heavy heart. I came across a screen shot that I had taken of a text correspondence between my Dad and I. A sweet, timely little reminder that I was loved and cared for was just what I needed right then.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Gratitude Day 9

Saturday was Kaden's last meet of the season. I am thankful its over! Its strange to be committed to something 6 days a week for 3 solid months and then BAM its over. I am happy for him and excited to have him home more! Love my swimmer boy!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Gratitude Day 8

Today I am grateful for Brylee and her natural ability to be patient. When the twins were infants Brylee always ate second. I can remember that I was able to determine early on that Brylee was a bit more willing to wait a few minutes longer than Branson. So I patterned their nursing schedule off that cue. I would snuggle Brylee right next to my lap on the couch and then I would nurse Branson and when he was full I would put him next to me and feed Brylee. Never the other way around, Branson was only content to lay still, while I fed Brylee,  if he was nice and full but Brylee would wait so sweetly and always eat second.

The other day I walked by her room and thought it looked so lovely in the morning sun. And then I thought about how Brylee has asked so nicely a few times if we could hang some pictures and do a bit of decorating...well we have lived here nearly 3 years and it hasn't happened YET. What a gift her patients has been to me over the years. I sure appreciate that wonderful Brylee girl and her little baby self too!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Gratitude Day 7

Brylee has been feeling under the weather. Her throat is sore and she is a bit run down. Lots of homework, cheer practices, babysitting jobs, orchestra and the generally WACK life of a teenager (emotions and mood swings if you know what I mean) has gotten to her and I wanted to do something special. Brylee does so much for me and my heart hurts when she isnt her naturally happy self. So last night I stopped in the grocery store and picked up what I needed for her favorite comfort food, biscuits and gravy. I already had it going when she came down the stairs this morning. She loved it and seemed to perk up with every bite. It is so satisfying to take care of others. I just love this aspect of mothering and homemaking and I am so grateful for the privileged it is to do it.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Gratitude Day 6

When the school year started  I thought maybe I could get to the temple once a week. Well I haven't quite made it every week but having a temple within walking distance sure has made frequent visits a more viable option. Yesterday, I was filled with anxiety. Not an unusual occurrence for me but I was desperate for the iron grip of life to release me, so I threw myself together and arranged things so I could get to the temple. In the temple there is peace. Your concerns and challenges and worries do not magically go away but you are reminded of eternal things and it feels easier to put things in the right perspective. It is a place where prayer and meditation flow easily from your heart and inspiration can flow in. I love the temple, I am so grateful for it.

 This temple will be a sanctuary of serenity, a refuge from the storms of life and the noise of the world, and a house of quiet contemplation concerning the eternal nature of life and the Lord’s divine plan for His children. President Monson, Gilbert AZ Temple dedication 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Gratitude Day 5

So thankful for a big brother than can (and will)  help younger siblings with Math homework. All three of the big kids have now surpassed my Math level. Kaden you deserve a kiss my boy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Gratitude Day 4

Today I am thankful for fall. It is such a great time of year. A whole world opens up to us desert people when things cool off. For all those long summer months the only thing that can be comfortably done outside is swimming and even that can scorch you if you don't watch out. A true Arizona summer is not for the faint of heart. But now NOW we can hike, bike, run, play, picnic, go for walks and run errands without being in actual life threatening danger. Its our turn to brag now and boy have we ever earned it. This amazing Arizona fall (and I would even dare include winter and spring) weather is nothing short of glorious and I love it!

Plus we can make and eat caramel apples and feel totally justified about it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Gratitude Day 3

I like running. I really like running with a friend. In the last few weeks my running friends have started to drop off one by one. Pregnancies, moves, schedules that don't match up and now all of a sudden I am a lone runner. Its a huge bummer. But today I got all of the kids off to school (you know the 4 and a half hour morning schedule) cleaned up the morning bomb and headed off on a solo run. No phone, no chit chat just me and my thoughts, the clear blue sky, cool breezy air and the hymns of Zion humming in my ear. It was lovely. Now that the weather has finally cooled I can really enjoy having an hour to myself while I run. I think it really is good for the soul to be alone now and again and today I really needed it.

Yesterday was Ella's fun run. She killed it once again coming in first for the girls. Today I am most thankful for cooler weather, a healthy body, a solo run and Ella who is going to make a great running partner one of these days.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Gratitude Day 1 and 2

I really believe way down in my soul that a thankful life is a happy life. I have always wanted to post everyday of November something I am thankful for but I have never followed through and guess what?? I am already behind this year because today is November 2nd! Akk. Oh well two things I am grateful for today wont hurt right?

Yesterday I sat down to write that I was so thankful that Halloween and all that goes with it is over for another year! Hallelujah and Glory Be! I know it is all so fun for the kids but my Presidency is in charge of our neighborhood/ward Halloween Party and it is a load of work for me. It all turned out so amazingly and everyone seemed to have a really good time so it is all worth it but MAN was I pooped by the time it was all done.
My amazing Primary Presidency. These girls worked their tails off!

And then to get through all the family festivities the very next night. This morning it felt so good to put away all the costumes and decorations and know that I have a whole year off before Halloween comes again. Yay!
Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Our kids were like, who the heck is Lois Lane??

Vegas Show Girl...I mean a red robin. (Haha!)

The thing I am most grateful for today is my early mornings with Kaden. I always try to do some kind of scripture devotional with him while he eats since we really don't have time to do a full scripture study. All week he has been expressing feelings of frustration. He has worked so hard this swim season and has even been complimented several times by his coaches on his work ethic. And yet his swim times have hardly bumped all season. He also has been striving to get straight A's. Kaden has 6 academic classes plus seminary but all of them are honors even his elective is Honors Engineering and requires a lot of time and effort. He has all A's except English. He just cant seem to pull his B to an A. He works so hard and talks with his teacher and time and time again his papers come back lower than he hoped. He has been pretty down about these two issues and has said to me, "I am working so hard and its just not paying off."

Last night as I went to bed I was going over and over Kaden's problem in my head and trying to figure out what I could say or do that would encourage him. I turned on a conference talk and in part of the talk the speaker used the scripture from D&C 64. I noticed it because its one of my favorites. When that talk ended I still hadn't fallen asleep so I turned on another one and the same scripture was mentioned again and that's was when I finally got the message. This was exactly what I needed to say to Kaden. So early this morning after I had made him some warm waffles I pulled out my scriptures and told him that I had thought and prayed about his problem and that I had an idea to go over with him. I read him this...

33Wherefore, be not weary in welldoingfor ye are laying the foundation of 
great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
 34 Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and willing mind...
I explained that the Lord doesn't require a certain swim time or a certain grade He just requires the heart and a willing mind and Kaden certainly has those two things nailed. I also told him that all his "well doing" is laying a strong unmovable foundation. I am so proud of the man Kaden is becoming and I am so thankful for those early EARLY mornings when all is quiet in the world and I get him all to myself.