Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Nobody told me how hard it would be to watch my children grow older. They anxiously wait for days ahead, anticipating future events as if they are gifts to open on Christmas morning.  But when I reflect back in time to when they were younger, my heart is filled with a homesickness that knows no remedy for healing. Time is a thief and sometimes my heart aches like I’ve been robbed!

Our second daughter, Riley, became a teenager today.  For thirteen years we have been blessed to nurture her, guide her, and prepare her to someday fly on her own.  At thirteen, sometimes it can be oh so hard to discover all the flecks of gold that exist in a soul.  As she grows older, many will benefit from those flecks within but the real value may never fully be realized by her.  As she blesses those around her and discovers the gifts she’s been given from God, those flecks will make a difference to those who associate with her. I see them.  Her dad sees them.  They shimmer and shine and have blessed me for 13 years!  I pray she will learn to see them.  When she does, she will be a force for good in a world that would blind her from seeing value in who she is as a daughter of an omnipotent Father in Heaven.

It is my belief and faith that Riley’s spirit existed long before she was born on this Earth.  From the second I held her, I knew her spirit had not been formed inside me.  She was God’s daughter, born in His image and countenance.  Her personality has been constant from the beginning. She is not a result of her present circumstance, she is who she has always been and she will continue to be who she is forever.  I don’t understand how or why she is my daughter, but I know I am blessed to be her mother. 

The past few months it has become very apparent to me that my children are not just mine.  I have always known this, even before they were born.  But recently, I have felt like I am facing a brick wall and the only way to go forward is to knock down that brick wall, only I’m not sure how in the world it can be done.  No matter how hard I try to push, lean into or walk through a brick wall, I continually discover that it cannot be done! I am left to myself and the reality of what I cannot do.  Miraculously, when I pray to a loving Heavenly Father, He provides a way for me to get through.  He often reminds me that He is not just my Father, my God, but He is theirs.  He knows their hearts, their goodness, their gifts and their struggles.  He is waiting for me to ask Him for help to help them. He is constant and unchanging.

I care very little about my kids’ future occupations, salaries or bank account.  I want them to be successful, but I recognize through my own life experiences that true success is not measured by material means. I yearn for them to discover life lessons that matter; that kindness is a rare virtue that comes through sacrifice and a willing heart, that the flecks of gold that will be of so much worth to those around them are already in them waiting to be discovered, that their value comes from within and always has, that Light is always stronger than darkness...always, even if the light is dim at the moment.  But they have to discover these things for themselves, just as I have been doing.  They have to make choices according to what their heart sees as Truth.  They have to search within themselves and even struggle in order to learn.  And I have to let them.  I have to watch them feel the raw pain and loneliness of self-discovery.  You can’t buy what I speak of, it must be found.  And it is challenging, not just at thirteen.

No thing fills me with more joy than knowing that my children are God’s children.  Few Truths give me more comfort than knowing that our eternal lives are fully orchestrated by a loving Heavenly Father who knows us perfectly. There are no accidents, no coincidences.  He is aware and ever present in our lives whether we acknowledge Him as such or not.

Because I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, I believe and know that my children will be mine forever.  Death has no sting.  There is no end. Because of this, I know my children will be His children forever, as well.  God is the same today, yesterday, and forever.

Friday, November 6, 2015


At some point in my life I made a decision to commit my life to God. I'm pretty sure  this took place in a holy temple where I made a covenant to consecrate my life to Him; although informally, I believe it happened much earlier than that day. In my faith, we believe in prophets and apostles, as in the New Testament days of Jesus Christ. God's will is known among men as it is addressed through His chosen prophets. I also believe in ancient prophets and words of scripture, "whether it be from God's voice or His servants, it is the same." I believe that to be true.

I realize my beliefs are vastly different from general public opinion. But through personal experience and exercising faith in my beliefs, they are, nonetheless, what I have come to know as truth. Because of this, when our prophet speaks, I listen. I have my own opinions, I can't help that, I happen to be very opinionated. I don't always see things the same, at first. But in the grand scheme of things, my opinion hardly matters. You see, I believe in a prophet of God, Thomas Monson. And that belief encompasses the truth that God communicates to His children through Thomas Monson. Who am I to weigh my opinion against God's? Who am I to throw a temper tantrum and say, enough is enough, this is wrong! Who am I to think He just doesn't know what it's like. Who am I to think I know best?

We live in a time period where it is no longer believed to be sound-minded to turn to a higher power for revealed Truth. I recognize this. But now, more than ever, is when the voice of a Prophet is needed. Thank goodness, I don't have to rely on my own understanding to receive guidance and counsel regarding how He operates His church. Do I have my opinions? Of course I do. I am not a robot who goes into auto-pilot mode thinking and feeling exactly the way I'm told to think and feel. Sometimes I don't understand. Sometimes I worry about the implications a decision may cause me and my family. I can be very defensive. Sometimes, I cringe at the thought of having to defend one more principle or practice that is contrary to what is popular or what is easily accepted by society. Marriage and family, these things seem to be universally accepted as important.  Prophets and apostles...people either assume you are crazy or a part of some cultish religion that will end in a mass suicide. You know you were thinking it...

Facebook is often reminding me that I have notifications in my newsfeed. But when I logged on this morning, and read all the opinions of others, I had an overwhelming feeling that none of their opinions really mattered either. It's great there is an outlet for people to vent, persuade and even convince. But to what end? Do any of us really know better than our neighbor, or the person who insists on being combative to our ideas or thoughts? To assume I have THE ultimate answer on any given subject is arrogant, yet ignorant. I certainly don't feel any opinion of mine contains that much relevance and importance to the vast population of the world or universe. But I do believe in an all-knowing God whose does.

Because I am LDS, I will not place my opinions or any others before God's word. I will accept His will and humble my heart as I trust in Him and sustain those who guide me. At the end of the day, I know He cares about my heart and even my opinion.  Because even though I know my opinion matters very little in the scheme of things, I know it matters to Him. And that matters to me. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014


I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was eight years old in Everett, Washington.  I can’t remember all of the details, but I certainly remember some.  I remember that my grandma came from out of state, I received my first copy of the Book of Mormon signed by my bishop, my family went out to eat at Round Table Pizza afterwards, my dad went to church the next day, my mom had written a song about Baptism and sang it with the other mom whose daughter was baptized that day; I remember that when I received my first set up scriptures I opened them up to the very page that had the verse that was on my baptism program.  At the time, that was special to me.  Most of all, I remember how I felt so happy on that spring day in 1986.

We believe in baptism by immersion, fully immersing our bodies under the water.  This symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  In the Bible we learn this is how John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Through baptism, we receive a remission of sins, we gain membership into the Church and we make it possible for us to return to live with God.  Baptism is the first saving ordinance.  An ordinance is a sacred, formal act performed by someone who has authority from God.  When we are baptized, a covenant is made.  A covenant is a promise made with God.  At baptism, we promise to keep His commandments, always remember Him and take His name upon us.  He promises to forgive our sins and He allows the Spirit to always be with us.

I have had the privilege of witnessing three of my own little 8 year olds take this giant step in their lives.  With each one, I have wondered if they were old enough to understand the implications of the covenant they were making with God.  I certainly didn’t want them to take this step because I was forcing them to do it.  I wanted it to be from their own free will and choice.  The past several months we have been preparing our son, Luke, for baptism.  We’ve tried to teach him the importance, what it means, and how it can bless his life.  On Friday night, I found some alone time with Luke and I sat him down and told him, “Luke, you know you don’t have to be baptized tomorrow.”  He looked at me like “who are you and what have you done with my mom?” I told him this was an important decision that he was old enough to make on his own, but if he didn’t want to do it, it would be okay.  He said in return, “I want to be baptized. I want to live with Jesus again.”

His baptism was yesterday.  He was so happy.  He felt special all day long.  Many people came to support him.  I’m not sure what he’ll remember of it when he’s my age, but I hope he remembers how he felt, because I know he felt so much happiness and love. These feelings are such a testament to why I believe as I do.

This morning, I was reading in my bed and Luke came running into my room and jumped on my bed.  He said, “Mom, when do I get to make my second covenant?”

He felt so good with the first promise he made to Heavenly Father, he can hardly wait for the next.  My own heart was filled with joy.

Because I am a Mormon, I believe in baptism by immersion by the proper authority.  It is sacred.  It is a reminder of a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. And now, for Luke, he has his own reminder.  I hope he never forgets.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Miracle

Today is Easter. I awoke this morning and had so many thoughts running
through my mind, I wanted to try and make sense of them and the best way
for me to do that is to write.

In our family we have been praying for a miracle since early February.
I had severe nerve damage to my inner ear and suddenly, my hearing and
vestibular system were shot. My body didn't know which way was forward,
backward, up or down. In a second, my life changed. Of course, at the
time, I thought all of this was temporary. I was told it was an
infection that would clear up in 7-10 days. But time came and went and I
was still left with no hearing in my left ear and was wheelchair bound.
I've also experienced a relentless tinnitus who knows no quitting, and
it has frustrated me beyond anything I have ever experienced in my
life. There was no calm, no solace. After some testing, it was
determined this was not caused by an infection or virus, but rather my
nerves were damaged and my condition was likely permanent. And the
prayers increased. Countless people have been praying for me, and I am
so grateful. I've exercised my faith greater than ever before in my
life, but no hearing has been restored. No miracle.

Or, some may think.

When something knocks you down, like this did for me, all of a sudden, I
started recognizing others' perceptions. People said, "You are a good
person, God will heal you." Or, "If you have faith, you will be
healed." Or, "I told God I would do this or that if He would heal me and
He did." Or, "Be obedient and stay strong, and you will be healed."
Or pertaining to others' miracles, "she was healed because her faith was
so great, how could He not heal her?" Well, I happen to have learned
from other life experiences, that none of these statements are entirely

What about my faith? My obedience?

I know I'm not perfect by any means, but I have spent my lifetime
trying to be obedient and increase my faith. From the second I was sent
into a whirling cyclone of chaos, I have never questioned my Heavenly
Father's love or ability to hear my prayers. I have never questioned
His ability and power to heal me. I have always known that if it was
God's will to make me whole, that I would be healed. Yet, very humbled
by this, I have prayed that He would help my unbelief; that my faith
would increase even more; that I would have the faith required to
receive this miracle and my hearing could be restored.

It hasn't yet been restored. But here's the thing: I have received a miracle.

After living a month in this condition, I became discouraged. Accepting
this could be my life, I began to grieve and my outlook was very bleak.
Besides people, I had lost something I valued more than just
about anything else in this life: my ability to hear music. This seemed
worse than cutting off my leg or my arm. The hours I had spent at my
piano, the time and money I'd invested in voice lessons, the blessings
that had come to my life through music are too many to number. My sure
way to always obtain peace was through music. Suddenly something I
loved so much became a source of pain and intense frustration to my ear.
Chords, which at one time seemed to make everything right in the world,
were suddenly dissonant with no hope for resolve. My kids told me I was off-key when I sang along to anything.  I went to a production of my most favorite music in the whole world last month and it was probably THE most depressing day since all of this happened. I couldn't hear. I didn't want to live like this. I wanted a miracle! Why not me? If the Seattle Seahawks can win the Superbowl, surely I can have this miracle, too? (Maybe its asking for too much in the same year haha!) I kept thinking, who CAN live like this? And I was right. No one should live that miserable and hopeless. My prayers had always been for healing, but they transitioned into praying for my body to tolerate its condition, that I might live in peace and gratitude and JOY--all things I had been lacking.

This is when I began to see my miracle unfolding.

I've learned there are many others, far worse off than me. I've learned
to be so very, very, very grateful for my good ear, and my eyes and
mouth and every body part, really. I've learned compassion for those
who suffer. I've learned that even when someone appears to be fine,
they may be dealing with something very difficult and that it is best to
always be patient, gentle and kind. I've learned to be positive and to keep from spilling my sorrows to any listening ear.  I've learned my brain can compensate and my body is slowly learning a new normal.

It isn't our pain that keeps us from living the life we want most; it is our choice to suffer that kills it.

On this Easter morning, my miracle is that I can't help but feel peace, gratitude and joy beyond measure.

Jesus Christ is the Miracle.

He also prayed to the Father and asked that the bitter cup be removed,
but nevertheless, God's will be done. He willingly suffered for us,
even though He didn't want to--if it wasn't necessary. But it was
necessary. For us. Because of His suffering, we can turn to Him and He
will carry our burden. He rose from the dead, and He lives. Because
He lives, we may live again. Because He lives, I will hear again, no
question.  Why do we not turn to Him with our sins and obtain forgiveness and relief from guilt. Why do we not turn to Him when trials are too much to bear and obtain peace.

          “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” Matthew 11:28–30
Because I am a Mormon...I know He is the Son of God; that He
suffered not only for my sins, but for my pain and sadness. As easy as
He can take my sins from me, He can take my sorrow, if I turn to Him.

I know there are many who suffer from heartache much greater than
hearing loss. But I believe in Jesus Christ and His power and ability
to heal; even that we may not feel the burdens upon our back, no matter
what the suffering may be.

I can't tell you how many people have commented to me in the past month
how they are happy to see me getting better. Its funny, because my
hearing loss is as profound as it was on February 6th. Not a day has
gone by that I haven't woken up in the morning and been reminded that
the world is turning, only I seem to be going in the opposite direction! The tinnitus hasn't improved at all. I still can't sing. Or drive. But thank goodness, I no longer need a wheelchair or support when I walk. I can do nearly almost everything I did before, while dizzy. For the most part, life has become very normal again. The dizziness is just a little reminder that I need help beyond my own, and that isn't a bad thing. My body is figuring out how to work through this...

And my heart is learning, also.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Shanghai, Beijing, Uganda, Tel Aviv, Geneva, London, NYC and Detroit.  What do all these places have in common?  Since September, my husband has worked in all of these cities.  He left again today for Asheville, North Carolina and will be working his way up the east coast to Baltimore.  Each week until Christmas, he is scheduled to be gone, (except Thanksgiving--yay)!  And we miss him already!  He just returned on Friday from the last trip!  It seems he is barely home long enough to get some laundry done before he is off again.  Life doesn't stop when he comes home either.  I have commitments, the kids have activities, friends/family need meals or time or love or all of the above.  I'm not about to complain!  But there is a cost that comes, and I have learned the necessity of having my priorities straight, efficient time management, not taking on more than I can handle and the art of recognizing my blessings.  Inevitably, appliances and cars break down when spouses are away!  Kids get sick.  Moms get sick!  Important documents need signing.  I bought our last house when Brandon was traveling! The list goes on...

The past several months have been insane for us.  We still have things left unfinished on our new home.  As workers come to finish, they point out things that need to be redone because they were done incorrectly, they throw numbers and words out about framing, electrical or plumbing as if what they are saying makes perfect sense to me!  Its difficult knowing who or what to trust.  We've been burned.  I've been naive and too trusting.

Kids come with their own individual struggles and our family is no exception.  Constant concern over what is best for them, time needed with each one, and learning how to advocate for them is something I spend a great deal of time on.  Getting to the root of learning disabilities, speech impediments, potentially fatal allergies, emotional issues and more takes time and a lot more emotion! 

We are not immune to health challenges.  I have a bag next to my bed that is host to a dozen pills I take every day.  Kids whose bodies aren't functioning right and need medicine to rely on for the rest of their lives is something that will keep you up at night! And learning how to discern between normal child behavior or behavior caused by a disease that messes with hormones is another challenge!  Searching for avenues that will restore health take a great deal of time, money and discernment.

I've now painted a miserable picture!

Here's another view.

I married a good man.  He is a good dad.  He is loyal and faithful. He has never complained about providing for our family.  I know he didn't want to get on that airplane today.  But he is a hard worker and will always take care of us.  When he's not working, he's working.  He listens to me talk about each kid and then does what is needed to reach out to them during that small window he is home, or over skype!  He forfeits sleep and rest (even with jetlag) so that he can be with us.  He is a good man.

We have been blessed beyond measure in so many ways. Our bodies are strong and functioning.  We have the means to pay for good health care and medication (at least for now!).  We have cars with over 100k miles that seem to be doing just fine (knock on wood!).  We have a roof over our heads and within these walls we have a safe haven that protects us from more than the harsh elements this earth provides.  We have kids who are learning how to be good people and want to be.  They are learning that their challenges are often what turns them to the things that matter most in life, rather than seeing them as obstacles in their way.  We are given opportunities to grow closer together and rely on each other.  We have felt the joy that comes each time we are reunited and know there isn't a greater feeling than being together after being apart.  We have a great support network from our parents who constantly provide relief, support and love.

I've learned if others are painting a miserable picture of their life, they are not seeing the good.  And if they are painting a perfect picture, they are not acknowledging/sharing the bad!

As Mormons, we believe that opposition is essential to God's plan.  We are free to choose liberty and eternal life through Jesus Christ or captivity and death, according to the power of the devil.
"For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things...righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad...and if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin.  If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall say there is no righteousness.  And if there be no righteousness, there be no happiness.  And if there be no righteousness or happiness there be no punishment nor misery.  And if these things are not there is no God.  And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon.
 For there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon." (Book of Mormon, p.58)
I have learned where there is resistance, there are greater blessings right around the corner.  We have felt the tug and pull of these slight challenges recently, but we have also seen unexplainable miracles unfold in regard to all of these challenges.  Likewise, where God is seeking to provide blessings, the adversary (Satan) is working overtime to create temptation and feelings of doubt and insecurity in us. If you are feeling weighed down, learn to feel the opposite.  If you are without hope, trust in the opposite.  If nothing seems to roll your way, wait for the opposite. 

Because I am a Mormon, I will look to my Savior, Jesus Christ, and do all I can to be faithful and choose eternal life.  I believe this is the way to happiness in this life and the world to come.  I do recognize there is another way to live, an opposite; but misery is not something I plan to welcome into my life any time soon!!

I love this family picture because we were all laughing at something when the timer went off on the camera! 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Same Church, New Congregation

I hate change!

In the LDS Church, we don't pick and choose the building where we would like to attend church.  Each congregation is geographically assigned into groups called wards.  Here in Utah, a ward consists of a few blocks of homes because nearly every house has a member of our church living in it!  Back in Snohomish, WA where I grew up, a ward covered several miles worth of neighborhoods because there are fewer LDS people. In some parts of the world, they must travel a great distance at great sacrifice to attend church with their ward. When my parents first moved to the Seattle area in 1980, my mom had to drive 30 minutes to Monroe to get to church until they built a new building in Everett.  As I was graduating high school and membership numbers grew, a church was built even closer, in Mill Creek.

Within each ward there is a Bishop.  He has overall responsibility for ministering the temporal and spiritual affairs of the congregation.  There are also leaders assigned to be over the children, the youth, the music, the compassionate service, missionary work, scouting, activities, etc.  Everyone within the ward has a volunteer assignment. NO ONE IS PAID.  It is perfectly organized and universally the same whether you live in Alpine, UT or in Africa! Ideally, everyone works together for the good of the ward.  I have been in wards where nobody knows my name, and I have been in wards where I know and love every single person on a personal level.  It is in wards where we are taught to serve and reach out to our neighbors, where the gospel is taught each Sunday, where we learn tolerance and forgiveness, and where we build relationships with other members of our faith.

I have fond memories growing up in the Everett 4th Ward.  Our ward boundaries had kids from different school districts which was kind of hard for me not going to school with all the same kids in my ward.  But we were a Family.  We didn't have any other family in Washington State and so our holidays, camping trips (when we went camping once!), and vacations were spent with ward family friends.  We played Church Basketball--dividing teams among wards.  There was quite the rivalry between wards! :) Because my dad wasn't an active member of our church when I was a kid, I can remember many of these ward families reaching out to our family and I will be forever grateful to some of those who befriended my dad and helped him feel more comfortable when he started going to church.  My mom was always involved in our ward in some way or another and her best friends were ward friends.  It is always a sad thing when they divide ward boundaries and all of a sudden, you go to church with a new congregation.  That happened when I was 12, and I recall feeling a great loss.

Well, fast forward to today...I am convinced that we recently moved away from THE BEST WARD in the entire LDS church! (And there are over 29,000 LDS wards in the world.) I've never learned so much from others as I have living among those people.  We must be crazy to have willingly left such a great place!  Our kids were taught by some of the greatest people on the earth! Every Sunday, we left church feeling uplifted and inspired to be a better person that week.  I miss them so much.  We moved less than a mile away, yet when you aren't in the same ward, your social circle is different!  Its such an odd cultural norm here! 

This new ward is nice and I have no doubt there are good people here.  But it is challenging to go to church, look around and see strangers. We have yet to meet our bishop and I can't remember names of people who have kindly introduced themselves, but hopefully we will start to feel at home soon.

Because I am LDS, I will always belong to a ward family.  I may not know them yet, and they don't know me, but through service and time, we will!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

What if none of it is true?

I was seventeen when I can remember feeling very lonely for the first time.  I was surrounded by family and so many wonderful friends of all walks of life.  I was so blessed and had been given many opportunities and good things in my life.  But even my closest childhood friends felt far away from where I was at that time. Without realizing it, a division was happening as I was approaching adulthood, and I felt it.  Diversity is a great thing, but sometimes, it is nice to have someone next to you who understands what you are thinking without needing to use words.

After some time of feeling this way, when I was able to put my finger on it, I realized what I was longing for most was a friend who saw life as I did.  My friends were all good people.  But because of my religious practices, I felt set apart in the choices we made, things we wanted out of life, and the directions we were facing.  I’m sure there were others I overlooked who were in my same predicament, but at the time, I just felt lonely.  I was very aware that the reason I felt this way was because of my religion.  In my loneliness, I found myself asking...what if none of this is true?  What if it’s all a lie?  What if all these sacrifices I am making turn out to be for nothing?

Those are haunting questions.  But very real questions. 

Doubt is an enemy to faith.  Faith is believing in something you cannot see.  My whole life, I had believed in doctrines taught to me that I accepted on Faith; believing without seeing.  One would think that is foolishness.  But some might also say that having faith in something is being able to rise above foolishness.

I was an avid journal writer, so it is easy for me to remember exactly how I felt then.  I wrote in my journal nearly every day. Around this time period, I was reflecting on things in my life that were positive because of my faith in religion. One day I noted in my journal that even if someday I find out that it is all a lie, none of it true, I had decided it is still a good way to live my life; a life devoted to families, improving character, service, sacrifice and centered on Jesus Christ; a life of discipline, striving to make life better for those around me, of forgetting myself, and finding joy--not momentary happiness and excitement--but pure inner joy that is lasting.  I chose faith over doubt and committed myself to live this life, believing that it was a good way to live.

Now it has been seventeen years since that time, and my faith has grown.  I believe this way of life I am living is not just a good way to live.  It can be both demanding and challenging. It can be lonely.  Questions still arise and my faith is put to the test.  But I believe this way of life is THE WAY to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. 

But I’ve also wondered this.  When I was seventeen and doubting what was real, I also wrote this in my journal...“If this religion is what it says it is...what does that mean for all my friends who I love so much who do not know?”  I expressed heartfelt yearning for them to believe as I did.

So now I ask you, my friends of all walks of life!  Just as I questioned whether or not my religion was true or not, I ask you: 

what if it is? 

I believe that truth is Truth whether we choose to accept it or not.  Truths that are conflicting cannot all be Truth.  We can say the sky is purple all we want.  We can say that this life has no meaning.  We can say that there is no God in heaven.  We can say there is no such thing as miracles, answers to prayer or revelation from above.  But at the end of the day, Truth will remain.

Because I am a Mormon, I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is Truth.  And I pray I will live my life according to that truth--no matter the loneliness, or whatever else falls in my lap--until the day I take my last breath.