Friday, August 19, 2016

Why You Should Never Threaten to Call CPS

Today I sat down and interviewed two amazing women who are at different stages in their fostering career.  I'm writing an article that, originally, I had wanted to be light rather than overly informative; more about the people fostering rather than the numbers.  But the interview went in another way entirely.

These two women are rare.  I know that sounds funny, because it seems like everyone knows someone who is fostering.  But realistically, these two women are a part of a whopping 4,500 people who foster in the state of Arizona.  Sounds like a lot, doesn't it?  Well, put that number up against the 19,000 children currently in foster care or in need of it, and you start to realize how rare my two friends really are.

So why the title of this post?  Well, a few years ago, my then 1 year old took it upon himself to go out for a stroll.  He made it five houses down when the neighbors there saw him and brought him back.  Brett was passed out on the couch and I was upstairs asleep as well.  The older kids had knocked over the gate to the front door in their hurry to leave and didn't bother to put it back up.  We had been living in our new house a total of one month.

Our neighbors didn't know us.  We didn't know them.  They brought our 1 year old back, but it wasn't without a stipulation.  "If you keep letting this happen, we're going to call CPS."

The dreaded words that NO PARENT wants to hear, whether you're neglectful or not.  I'd like to think we aren't.  Regardless, it was awful to hear those words.

My mother in law hopped on the phone and called CPS herself, mostly to calm me down, but also because she, like me, was wondering, "Can someone really get their child taken away because of one slip up?*"

CPS told her that, while I may not have had any of my kiddos taken from me, there would be an investigation opened up.  That for any family the CPS is sicked upon, they must open a case.

This was terrifying.  Brett and I became hyper vigilant to the point of not being able to sleep for fear our little run away renegade would be at it again.  And it wasn't long before, despite our pain staking efforts, he did it again.  To the same neighbors house.  And you guessed it, the threat was thrown at us again.

Now, at the time, I was annoyed.  Why can't neighbors just be kind?  Why can't they just bring him back and let it be that?  Dozens of my friends rallied behind me, telling me their own scary stories of kids sneaking away (one made it all the way to a busy street on his trike, following daddy to work, and was brought home by a police officer.)  But it didn't soothe my fears that the dreaded CPS would be called.

In the end, they weren't.  I know that in their heart of hearts, they were worried for our little one.  I was too!  But throwing out the threat of having our family investigated, and possibly torn a part, made things must more stressful than they had to be.

Stories like this, though, have been all over the news lately.  About neighbors calling CPS on parents who are, comparatively, very good parents.  We were by no means alonein this trial.

So, back to the title of my post.

Listening to my friend today tell me about the little boys she's fostering, well, it broke my heart.  I had tears spring up in my eyes.  Not just for the boys.  But for my friend, for the boys' mom and family, for their other siblings, also in foster care.  This world that they all live in can be a very scary world, filled with so many unknowns.

I learned that parents whose children are taken away must take parenting classes to get their little ones back home.  What a blessing!  What a curse!  Because if they don't comply with all that's mandated (maybe it's just taking classes, maybe it's getting a job, maybe it's getting out of jail, maybe it's stopping drugs, maybe it's getting the kids away from a molester...) after 18 months, their kids are up for adoption.  The clock is ticking.

Now, a lot of the time, this is great.  These kids get a new start at life with a family who wants them enough to jump through hoops to get them.  I've seen it often, and it's beautiful.

But sometimes these kids go back home.  Or back into the system.

The point of this post is not a warning, but a plea.  Please, please don't bog down CPS with petty parenting mishaps.  I can't imagine the hours that would've been wasted by a social worker having to make their way to our home often, to investigate a normal, albeit loud and slightly out of control, family.  These people need to be helping those children I mentioned above.  They need to be helping those families.  That money, that time, needs to go where it's meant to go.

If you see a healthy child wearing nice clothes playing with a younger sibling at a park, let it be.  Or, if you must, watch and watch them until they leave.  Follow them home to make sure they're safe.  I'm sure no parent would begrudge you this.  But for heavens sake, don't call CPS on them.  Just don't.  Now, if they're covered in bruises, malnourished, wearing scanty clothes and no shoes in the middle of winter and play for hours and hours and night falls and they're still not leaving, maybe invite them in.  Maybe find out what's going on.  Sit on it, think on it, maybe pray on it.  Maybe this child needs some extra help.  Maybe the family does, too.

Let the system work for the people who need it.  Don't bog it down with unnecessary burdens.  And if you happen to see a red headed 4 year old wandering around our neighborhood, know that he's figured out the new alarm system, and kindly return him to us.

*I definitely do not belittle nor condone 1 year olds wondering around.  Trust me, it scared me.  I thought of all the horrible things that could've happened.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

She Lives! Ish!

Well my friends, the inevitable has happened again.

I'm pregnant.

And on bed rest.

My last post was in September, 2015.  To say four kids keeps you busy is an understatement.  But throw in a pregnancy and you've got yourself a nice hurricane of insanity.

I am 33 weeks pregnant.  I know because I have an app that reminds me.  I need the app, because a fifth pregnancy gets put on the back burner, on low heat, until it's done.  Being on bed rest doesn't stop the homework, the story times, the play times, the laundry or the dishes.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it multiplies all of those things.  Thank heavens for women willing to serve.  Seriously, I had FIVE women from my church here cleaning for three hours.  That's FIFTEEN HOURS of cleaning.  While I sat in a chair trying not to puke, imagining five women cleaning my house.

I have issues.

This bed rest has been going a lot smoother than the others (she says, only a week and a half into her sentence.)

I was more prepared.  The continuous contractions were a nice warning that it was inevitable, and so like any good pregnant woman, I nested before I could no longer move.  My room was prepared.  Brett carried my favorite, crappy lazy boy all the way upstairs so I'd have a comfy place to perch.  I love him.

I got Quinns stuff all washed and ready.  (Quinn, that's his name.  Cute, huh?  It means "five" which really makes the crazy OCD gal inside of me smile.)  I bought grannie undies and Tux pads so Brett wouldn't have to (I'm super thoughtful that way.)  And I cleaned my room.

This is my third bed rest sentence.  I feel like I've got my stride.  I have a schedule.  I get up every morning, I brush my teeth, I even put on a bra.  Then I follow a loose schedule of scripture listening while I crochet, planning out days and organizing rides for the kiddos.  I've got great friends who've brought me good books to read.  And Brett works from home.  BRETT WORKS FROM HOME.  This has made all the difference in the world, I think.

So maybe I'll have some more time to drivel out boring blog posts about bed rest and pregnancy and great books.

Maybe not.  We'll see.

In the meantime, if you live within a ten mile radius of me, COME AND VISIT!  I'm lonely.  A lonely introvert is a rare thing to see, so buy a ticket and come on over.  I could use the company!!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Parenting is hard.  In case you didn't know.

If you could create an effective if/then flow chart of parenting do's and don'ts, you would become the most famous person in the history of the world forever and ever.   Monuments would be erected of you.  Dr. Who would probably have an episode dedicated to you.

I used to think that having the internet was such a huge blessing because you have all this amazing parenting advice right at your finger tips.

But after a few years I've realized it's not so great because you have all of this parenting advice right at your finger tips.

It's like having nine million mothers in law yapping in your ear, giving you conflicting advice and judging you all the while.  *Note: not my mother in law.  I adore her and her advice.  End Note.*

And then I made the ultimate mistake of posting on FB.  This only exacerbated the problem.  I had no idea so many people had such strong opinions about how to raise kids.  Oh wait, yes I did.

I actually had to take a break from FB.  We were having relationship problems.  I spent way too much time with it, and in return it made me feel worse about myself and the state of the world.  I think Satan is winning the round entitled "Social Media".  The whole #IstandwithCherish debacle was the last straw.  That poor woman.  The world is so cruel and shows no mercy.

But back to parenting.  Even with having the added blessing of prayer and personal revelation, I still stare into the parenting abyss, completely dumbfounded by the total lack of guidance reaching out to me.  I know I have experience, I know I should know this stuff, but I just don't.  It's that math test I swear I studied for and totally flunked anyway, all over again.  So I binge watch Friends and eat copious amounts of foods that aren't good for me.  Rinse and repeat.

I actually Googled "nervous breakdown" just to see if I'd find a picture of myself.  I wasn't listed, but give it a few more weeks of hours upon hours of homework with tired kids, 40 more loads of laundry, and endless sleepless nights spent with useless worrying and I think I might make the headline, "Mother of 4 head explodes.  Parenting Flow Chart could have saved life."

How have thousands of years of parents done it?  Seriously.  I want answers.  And they had to deal with things like famine, plagues, oppression, pig poop, lack of clean water and all other manner of ickiness that I just don't even have to worry about.

Our lives are so different from theirs.  Their little babies died and here we are just murdering ours because they're an inconvenience to choices we consciously made.  Somehow we have an excess of babies.  Just doesn't make sense.

Our worries are so different from theirs, too.  We have to worry about too much information.  Too much offense taken.  Too much homework.  Too much skin showing.  Too little mercy, love and understanding.  Because we're not busy with all that pig poop, we have more time to worry about nice houses, coiffed hair, pretty makeup, perfect clothes.  This is what we're doing instead of taking that extra time to serve, love, show mercy, and play with our littles.

Wait.  Is that an answer?  I don't know!  I'll go try it out and see how it works and let you know.  In the meantime, if you have any parenting answers, feel free to share them.  Especially if it's in flow chart form.

This was a depressing post.  Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite ladies, Marjorie Pay Hinckley.  She was a neat woman who professed that she didn't have all the answers but I swear she did!  Mostly she relied on our Heavenly Father's love and personal revelation and the sweet atoning sacrifice of our Savior.  She made it look so easy.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Motherhood is hard.

Freaking hard.

I don't know what I'm doing half the time.  Often, I literally stare dumbfounded into the abyss of my infinite lack of knowledge, and question whether or not I'm cut out for it.

This is sort of what that looks like.

Add on top of this the fact that I'm a Red personality and struggle with anything I can't conquer.  Motherhood is, like, the perfect example of the unconquerable.  I'm the Don Quixote of Motherhood.  It's my giant my windmill. I'll never win, but I'll never stop.

I guess it's not so bleak as all that, friends.  I mean, it's bleak.  But not that bleak.

I have this quote hanging in my kitchen (where I tend to feel most of my overwhelming moments).

Often I read this quote, and break it down, listing each way I've done that very thing during that day to give me encouragement to keep on keepin on.

"Motherhood is a choice you make everyday to put someone else's happiness and well-being ahead of your own."
  • I got out of bed this morning.
  • I dressed the kids and did girl hair.
  • I didn't complain or comment on Cohen's wrinkled church clothes, his dirty face, or the fact that he was full on Alf-alfa in the back of his head.
  • I didn't yell.  Not once.  I wanted to.  Heaven knows I wanted to.  But I didn't.
"Teach the hard lessons to do the right thing, even when you're not sure what the right thing is..."

  • I rarely know what the right "thing" is.  Should you stay home from school today?  I don't know, do you really have a headache?  Or maybe you're overwhelmed by something?  Do you have a bully?  A gaming addiction?  Or do you just need to totally take it cool for an entire day?  Do you want to stay home to bother me, or are you going to let me force you to stay in bed all day, and, subsequently, out of my way?  If I let you stay home, and you don't really have a headache, are you going to grow up to be a hamburger flipper that requires a better salary than the Pope?  If I make you go to school, will your subconscious despise me for being a horrible mother for the rest of eternity? Ok, go to school.  If it still hurts, have the nurse call me and I'll get you.  (No phone call!  Success!)
  • You have a bully?  Did you try making them your friend?  Are you telling me you haven't done anything to annoy or otherwise tempt said bully into being a bully?  Do I intervene?  Do I teach a wise and valuable lesson I'll have to go and learn about from a book because I have no idea.  Will this end in suicide notes?  Guns brought to school?  Run aways?  Teen pregnancy?  (Boy, that escalated quickly.)  Oh, your bully didn't bother you all day today because you totally ignored them?  Sweet!  I'll tally that as a success!
"...And forgive yourself over and over again for doing everything wrong."

This is where I almost always fail.  I lay down to bed during that special time of night, called the "let's think of all the things we did wrong today" hour, and I list them.  I yelled.  I cried.  I hid myself in my bedroom.  I didn't read all the words in the book.  I let Kembry go to school in her swimsuit.  Kian probably needed a diaper change way earlier than I gave him one.

But I almost never forgive myself.  I pray for forgiveness.  I pray to do it better the next day.  Secretly I know I probably won't (old dogs/new tricks type of thing).  I wonder if adding a fifth child to this array of misery and mistakes is really the best way to go.  (Not a pregnancy announcement, I swear.)

But I'm always blessed with a little slide-show of sorts.  Memories brought to me in pictures by my Heavenly Father.

Reading with Cohen.  Wrestling with Kian.  Dinner as a family.  Going to the bathroom alone (sweet!) Kissing owies.  The library.  Feeding ducks. Playing at the park. Swimming together.  After school arguments over who gets to tell me about their day.  Listening to piano practice.  Clean kids after a bath.  Lots of love and kisses and prayers at bedtime.  

Motherhood is not grand.  It's not perfect. 

It's messy.  Crowded.  Loud.  Exhausting.  Confusing.  Frustrating.  Hard.

It's bittersweet, full of happy and sad tears, and lots of hugs.  

So many mistakes.

And so, so much love.

Happy Mother's Day, troops.  We fight the hard fight ever day, and we're raising amazing kids because we choose to do it. Carry on.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Mindfulness VS. Anxiety

This was a fantastic discussion.

Can Mindfulness Help My Raging Anxiety When My Kid Gets Sick?

I have my own personal experiences in this area.

It was about 11:30 at night when I heard the strangled cries coming from Chloe's room.  She was only 3, but she could still scream like a grown man whose leg had been cut off.  So I knew, probably instinctively, that something was horribly wrong.

Already mostly asleep, my grogginess was immediately replaced by that mom-adrenaline: panic.  She was sitting up in her bed, and I could tell she couldn't breath.  Her large eyes were bulging from her head, veins were sticking out on her fat, red cheeks, and her mouth was drawn back in a silent scream.  She looked up at me with tears pouring soundlessly out of her eyes.

My heart was clocking in at 1,000 BPM.  I grabbed her and brought her into my room, where my husband was already out of bed, waiting for whatever would walk through our door.

"Get your oil, give her a blessing," I said.  I was impressed that my voice wasn't shaking like the rest of my body.  As he did, I picked up the phone and called 911.  I had never called 911 before.  It was almost taboo.  "ONLY IN EMERGENCIES!"  But I had never in my life experienced the sense of emergency I was having now.

The operator was kind and patient.  I told her, "My daughter isn't breathing.  She's not choking, but she can't breathe."

She verified my address and said the medics were on their way.  Brett began giving her a blessing, as she laid on the bed, her little chest straining for air.  Now tears started falling from my eyes.  The sweet woman on the other line talked to me.  She asked me my daughters name, "Chloe."  Chloe.  Chloe.  Chloe.

Within one minute I could hear the wail of the firetruck.  Within seconds of that, they were in our bedroom.  They were huge, looming men and women.  Four of them, all dressed to the nines in fire gear.  They worked fast, one told the other to call and ambulance, then the biggest picked up my baby and carried her outside, knelt down and laid her across his knees.  "The cool air can help the inflammation."

Why didn't I think of that?

Tears still streamed from her eyes and she reached out to me, her lips starting to go from swollen red to a pale blue.  I held her hand and told Brett to get her blanket.  My voice was still calm.  He came back.  I looked up at his scared face and said, "Call Karen and ask her to come over to the house to stay with the kids.  Follow us in the van."  My mind worked like a fine honed soldier about to go into the trenches.

The ambulance got there.  They told Brett we were going to the Banner Gateway Emergency room as they loaded me and Chloe into the ambulance.  And then the ambulance driver said to the biggest fireman, the one who held my baby, "We have no place for mom to ride.  She'll have to come separate."

Chloe found her voice then.  She screamed and screamed and screamed.  The screaming made her chest seize up even more.  I was almost afraid for the ambulance driver when the big fireman got up in his face and said, "This mom is coming with her.  I don't care what you say.  I don't care if I get fired, or if you get fired, I don't care.  She's staying with her daughter."

I cried harder but still silently as they strapped me into a makeshift chair and buckled Chloe in.  She started crying again because she couldn't see me.  I reached over as much as the restraints would allow and started petting her head, as the ambulance jutted to life and began driving quickly out of our sleeping neighborhood.

Then I heard it.  Well, I didn't hear it.  Her crying had become strangled and quiet again.  One of the EMT began quickly filling a syringe with something, while the other pushed an intercom and told the driver to go to the nearest Emergency Room, there wasn't time to get to Banner.  The ambulance flipped around, and I just kept talking to her.

In my mind, she was dying.  In my heart, she was dying.  But my voice told her it was okay.  "It's going to be okay, baby girl.  It hurts, I know.  But it's going to be okay.  Mommy's here.  Daddy's coming too.  Mommy's here."  I sang her favorite primary songs while my heart was seizing inside of me.

For five minutes I watched as the EMTS tried one thing after another.  The big fireman said, "Her lips are blue," but I could still hear her strangled, forced cries.  She's a fighter.

I kept talking to her.  Kept praying in my heart.  Praying that she would be ok, and that I would stay calm.  Just stay calm and love her.  Help her be calm.  Help her stay calm.  Somehow, my head petting and slow, assuring words and singing helped bring her panic down.  We pulled into the emergency room.  They got us back and immediately and put on an oxygen mask filled with Albuterol.  She had petechiae all over her face from suffocation.  Baby veins had burst in her eyes from straining for air.  But she was calm.  She was breathing.

And then I walked out of the room.  I left her because if I didn't cry, if I didn't let that small scream inside of me out, I would do it in front of her, and it was upset her, and she'd panic.  So I walked out of the room, and there stood my giant fire man, the one who probably saved my babies life.  He was crying and shaking.  He didn't mean for me to see him, but he looked up, embarrassment flooding his face.  And then he said something I will forever be amazed of, and grateful for.

"You were the calmest mom I've ever seen.  Ever."

And then I cried.  I cried and cried and cried.  I gave myself that one minute of anxious pain and fear.  Then back into her room I went.  She was calmly holding her mask.  She looked over at me at smiled a little.  The emergency had passed completely.

The next day, she was nearly back to normal.  She had had croup and the combination of swollen trachea and the panic of not being able to breathe closed her lungs completely.  She was blue before we got to the hospital, almost unresponsive.

My Chloe.

Panic and muddy emotions in that moment would not have helped Chloe.  "Muddy emotions," says Dr. Orsillo, "are the ones that aren't giving us particularly useful information.  They also tend to be pretty intense and distressing."

If I had panicked, would I have had the fore site to call 911?  To recognize that my upset would fuel Chloe's fear and panic?  Would I have been able to talk and sing calmly to my suffering baby? There was a mindfulness in my calm and actions.  I know it was a mindfulness brought by the Spirit, calming me.  But wherever you find your mindfulness, know how to get to it, and fast.

Dr. Orsillo says, "Most people define mindfulness as paying attention to the present moment with curiosity and compassion, just allowing the moment to be as it is."

My mind began spiraling out of control for an instant.  She can't breathe, she's going to die.  She's suffering so much.  She's so scared.  She hurts.  I can't do anything.  I'm helpless.  My baby is going to die and I can't do anything.

These thoughts are not mindful, not helpful, but they're real.  I can, for a few minutes, suppress these emotions and let the mindfulness create a clear path for me.  But it's important to eventually acknowledge these emotions, because burying them will only cause them to fester and become stronger and more dominate.

Dr. Orsillo continues, "I think what sometimes happens...partially we think, 'It's really important for me to feel this fear, because what if, what if?'  But another part of us feels, 'I wish I could just push this away, I don't want to feel this way.'  And those responses to our emotions also make them muddy and intensify them.  There's a whole line of research that shows the more you try not to feel something, not to think it, the more you feel it and think it, and the more you're distressed by it."

Dr. Markham* says that we have to acknowledge these emotions.  We have to allow them to be.  But we don't have to give into them.  It's called empathizing.  And surprisingly, we need to be empathetic and compassionate even to ourselves.

Dr. Orsillo says we need to "[acknowledge] where your mind is going, bringing some compassion: It's hard to be a mom.  It's hard to accept that there are steps we can take to keep our children well and safe, and then, at some point, we have to let go and accept that not every scary future event is preventable.  That's hard."

It is so hard, but so much more useful than muddy thoughts and emotions.  When I panic, I get confused, frustrated, and even angry.  I yell.  I scare my kids.  This isn't something they need when they're already sick, hurt or afraid.  They need a mom who is compassionate with herself.  A mom who puts her trust in God, but who also takes all the steps within her power to secure her child's life, happiness or comfort.

I highly recommend clicking on this link and listening to the whole discussion.  

*Dr. Markham, the author of AhaParenting, wasn't mentioned in this article.  But she gives great advice and steps to help you empathize with yourself and with children.  She's my favorite!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Turn That Frown Upside Down

(That post title is way too perky.)

I'm having a "I-feel-like-I've-failed-at-everything" kind of morning.

I look around at my house, and it's a disaster.

My kids: total rag-a-muffins.

My dog keeps licking my hands because she's probably so desperate for attention, and I'm just annoyed.  Another thing that needs my already-scarce time.

And I'm mad at myself.  Not my today self, she's the one suffering.  She's the victim.

I'm mad at my yesterday-self, and my day-before-yesterday-self.  And all of my last-week-self.

Then I start to notice this familiar theme: the downward spiral into the self-loathing/woe-is-me depression.  I recognize it because I've been to this park before.  There's the "why is this happening to me" swing, and the "my life is so unfair" slide.  It's really not a great park, I don't know why I keep coming back here.

Anyway, a few years ago my present-self had a long convo with my past-self and they battled a few things out.  Present-self really thought past-self could step it up a notch, and past-self did that obnoxious thing of pointing out the obvious: no time like the present.

Start now?  Like...right now.  Help my future-self out?  That chick is so dang needy.

I wrote this post a few years ago about trying to change, and recognizing that I'm not a tree, so I can change where I am, and other catchy memes.  I'm one of those slow people who have to continually be reminded of my own good advice.  So I'm gonna take some past-me advice and move forward.

Today, I'm going to:

  • Recognize three things I did yesterday for my family, for my friends, and for myself.  It sounds like a big task, but when you think about it, "waking up" can count as a high five for myself.  Making my bed, BOOM!  Another high five.  How about that time I got to pee in privacy.  I call that a win.  Not to mention all the great stuff I did for my family last night, like getting some much over-due R&R with a pal.  How is this helpful to my family?  I think you know.
  • Recognize three small ways I succeeded yesterday, that seem to be making today easier.  Well, I cleaned a lot yesterday, but it wasn't the "out in the open" kind of clean.  I went through the clothes.  The kids clothes.  I separated, folded and stored (complete with a printed label for each!) into those nifty vacuum bags.  Sure the rest of my house was destroyed, but the top of those closets are...cleaner.  I also did some other stuff.  But I won't bore you with it.  Cause closet cleaning and clothes sorting is all sorts of interesting
  • List three things I'm going to do for my tomorrow-self.
    1. Read with the kids.
    2. Go to the library - with the kids.
    3. Make dinner and eat - with the kids.
Making these lists always draw my attention to reality and truth.  Sure I didn't out perform perfection yesterday, and I'm positive I won't today.  But I did succeed in small ways.  The small stuff, in the end, is quite literally what life is made of.  You know, like atoms and stuff.

So buh-bye life-sucks-me.  You are of no use to me here.  But I do have a self-loathing day coming up.  I've scheduled it off as "Netflix" binge.  *Need to remember to buy Puffy Cheetos*

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mormon Monday: Fast Offerings

Once a month, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are asked to fast with a purpose and give a fast offering.

This is one of the most powerful blessings given to us.

About a year ago, my husband counselled me about all the amazing blessings that can come from fasting.  He opened up to Isaiah, Chapter 58.  Read some of the promises that come from a true fast:

6: loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke.
8: ...Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and they righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be they reward.
9: Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am...
10:...then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday.
11: And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose water fail not.

So here's the run down: wickedness can't touch you.  Your burdens will be lifted.  If you're oppressed, you'll be set free, and anything weighing you down will be gone.  Your health "shall spring forth speedily"(this resonates with me, a lot!).  You'll get the glory of God.  Heavenly Father will answer your prayers.  The darkness in your life will be as "the noonday".  And you will have Heavenly guidance, continually.

Say what?  And all I have to do is fast once a month?  Of course with every blessing, Heavenly Father asks of us an offering, a sacrifice.  In our case, we give a fast offering that is equal to or greater than the meals we would have eaten had we not fasted.

For example, if I spend $15 a  meal on our family of six, and we fast for three meals (technically the littles don't all fast for three meals.  The older really only fast for one or two...) then we would offer a fast offering of $45 or more.  Isn't it fun when religion turns to math?  I know, right?!

Anywho...the amount you offer is between you and the Lord.  But when you get in return is all the above.  Blessings are poured down upon you.  It's awesome.

Mormons use these fast offerings to lift up the afflicted, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and help the poor.  100% of the fast offerings given go directly to this cause.  It's beautiful.  I'm so thankful for Fast Sunday, however you can fast any time.  Anytime you need extra strength, and answer to an important or deep prayers, or added love and guidance.

Our Savior set a beautiful example when he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.  Having met with the greatest of temptations by Satan himself, even in his weakened state, the Savior withstood.  Truly each blessing promised by the Lord in Isaiah rained upon the Savior, and he was strengthened and blessed.  We are promised the same the blessings.  They are ours for the taking.  Anyone can do it.

In April of this year, we were blessed to hear from leaders of our Church.  One of the kindest most compassionate men, Elder Henry B. Eyring gave this beautiful talk: "Is Not This the Fast I Have Chosen?"

Again, you can leave any questions you have in the comments.  Or visit for more information.

Magnetic Airhead

Hello Friends.

Did you know that I'm a natural blonde?

And that I also have a magnetic personality.

No.  Literally.  I produce heavy magnetic waves that essentially effect all electronics around me.  Also, I'm a ditz.  You put those two things together and you're met with a lot of broken or lost cell phones, and posts that don't get posted.

My husbands blog, which is a lot more sciency and boring than mine (just kidding, hun!) automatically posts HIS posts for him.  So I thought, "Genius!  I shall do as much!"  This is how I think.

So I scheduled my Monday blogs to go out on Mondays.  And somehow, it did not happen.  I am only just now realizing this. son threw my cell phone into the toilet.

Why are two years olds sometimes jerks?  I mean, he looked right at me when he did it.  Like, "I'm going to throw this electronic time waster into the pot, where it belongs, and you're going to watch me do it.  And you're going to like it.  Got it, mother?!"  Cause that's how he thinks.  He's a ginger.  That's how Ginger's roll.

And now I can't call out.  Le sigh.  Whatev's.  You gotta make lemonade with broken cell phones, ya know??  So I'm gonna go and do just that.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Mormon Monday: By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them

One of the reasons I love the internet, and blogging, is that I get to meet and befriend so many people from all over the world.  Along with this blessing are ample questions brought to me about my religion.

And it's no secret that I love my religion. 2 Nephi 25:25 says it all. "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

This blog, I hope, is a testament to my love of Christ, and my desire to share that testimony to anyone who reads these posts.

So in an effort to answer mass questions brought to me daily, I'm going to spend each Monday for awhile sharing a bit about our Church.  If you want even more information, please visit, or hunt down the handsome men and beautiful Sisters with name badges in your area.  They'll tell you everything in exchange for food ;)  If you want a free Book of Mormon, message me, and I'll get one out to you myself.  On to Mormon Monday...

One question, concern, or even sometimes accusation I get is about our tithing.  We give ten percent of our increase (for us, we choose our increase to be the gross amount of money we earn) to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Here are some of the things our tithing goes towards:

  • Building beautiful buildings where we can attend meetings each Sunday to partake of the Sacrament and learn more about our Savior and Heavenly Father.  We also use these wonderful buildings for weddings, baptisms, games, Ward activities, and occasionally they can be used for shelter.
  • Temples.  Our beautiful Temples are where we go to make promises with God, and then to help our deceased ancestors make those same promises they were denied while alive.  I'll talk more about Temples on another post.  Suffice it to say, I would give 100% of our earnings if it meant I could have a temple near me.  Thankfully, this isn't required.  I have two beautiful temples a short drive away from me, and I'm so grateful for them.
  • To sustain missionary work.  There are roughly 84,000 sons and daughters serving missions across the globe.  They need places to live, food to eat, and bikes to ride.  
  • On every tithing slip is the option to donate to specific areas, like missions, temples, buildings, education, etc. 
  • We also have the opportunity to give a Fast Offering each Sunday.  This will be it's own post as well.
Something not listed here are the enumerable blessings we've received from the Lord because we payed our tithing.  Those are sacred blessings, that I would love to share with anyone privately.  But for the sake of the audience, I'll keep them close to my heart right now.  Feel free to message me if you would like to know more.

But here is what you really need to know about tithing.  Look at the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Look at our fruits.  Are we purchasing jet planes to send our prophet around the world to ask for more money?  Heavens no!  Do we offer humanitarian aid across the globe?  You bet!  Do we provide help for people who are struggling?  Absolutely!  Are we, as members, provided with books about the gospel, lessons, manuals, pictures, paintings, pianos and music to help us grow to know Him more?  We sure are!  Do we do anything differently from the ancient church that Jesus himself was head of?  We do not!  

Things we do not do with our tithing funds: finance bishops or other leaders.  Our amazing leaders, who spend hours and hours away from family and home, are a  lay ministry.  This means, they do it on a completely voluntary basis.  Bishops usually serve for five years, Stake Presidents can serve for up to 10 years, Mission Presidents uproot their families and move to foreign countries to serve for 3 years.  This is all done to build up the Kingdom of Zion, it is all done "free of charge" and on a voluntary basis.  And I am eternally grateful for their service to me.

If you would like to know more about tithing, click here: tithing

I struggled with paying my tithing when I was first married.  We were already dirt poor and I often thought Heavenly Father would understand.  In the end, I am the one who didn't understand the blessings and promises that come from paying my tithing.  When Brett and I started consistently paying our 10%, we were blessed.  I know it's from our faith in this law that we were blessed with a house, that Brett was blessed with a lucrative job, and that we were blessed with innumerable other things pertaining to revelation and the Spirit.  

This is a law that should only be obeyed when it's done with faith and love.  It's hard for someone outside of the Church to feel the Spirit testifying to them of the wonders of tithing, so I'll do it for you!  It is a sweet blessing!  It is a simple thing to do!  And we are so grateful that we get to pay our tithing!  

**Interesting Facts** In the early days of the Church, shortly after the restoration, people were asked to tithe their time and work in place of money.  They each spent every tenth day building a beautiful temple.  What an amazing way to give of yourself to Heavenly Father and to your fellow members.

Friday, February 13, 2015

My War Against Depression

Friends, I struggle with depression.

Not like the, "Blech, I feel depressed today."

But the clinical depression.  The one where the chemicals in my brain make it hard for me to think straight and make good decisions.

For example, non-depressed me thinks clearly and has motivation to follow through.  I need underwear?  I'll do the laundry!  What?  No dishes?  No problem!  You spilled eighty gallons of milk?  Meh, I can handle that.

But then the chemicals in my head meet to go over this years fiscal earnings, and they get all uppity and upset and wonky and then suddenly, going to the bathroom seems like a chore.  "Why me?  Why do I always have to get out of bed to go to the bathroom?  Why don't I just call a spade a spade, and wear depends?"

Depression is a real problem.  It is for me, even if I do deny it really well.

When I'm depressed, everything is exacerbated.  Being a mom is the worst burden.  I feel like a disappointment to my kids and to my husband.  They have to pick up my slack.  All those little nagging thoughts we usually can just push to the back of our minds, come running to the forefront and become my only reality.

I've failed.  I'm a failure.  Just give up.  What's the point?

Basically, Satan just gets to have his way with my thoughts.  My guards are down, and any and every bad feeling becomes the only feeling.

But I do know one thing that does help.

My faith.  I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and it's pounded into my brain every day that Heavenly Father loves me.  We're advised to do certain things every day: pray and read our scriptures.   Pray and read our scriptures.  Pray and read our scriptures.

Some people think this is a ridiculous thing.  They wonder, "How on earth is that going to help you, in any way?  See a doctor, not an imaginary God.  Take drugs."

Well, I'll tell you.  When soldiers are trained in drills, it isn't for their health.  It isn't for fun, they don't get kicks and giggles out of it.  They don't LOVE doing it.  People wonder and may even ask the, "Why?  It's so pointless."  But they do it.  Because they know when they're in a war, under attack, being shot at by enemies, watching their friends die, and probably feeling the pinnacle of fear, they know what to do.  They know what maneuvers to make.  They know how to fall down, crawl, dig a trench, aim, fire, hide, run, fight.  These things are a part of them now because of their constant drilling and training.  Under the barrage of fire, they don't have to think.  They act.

And that's how it is for us.


Read our scriptures.

Even in the depth of my depression, when I wonder why I ever made the decision to come down to this earth, to get an imperfect body, and to be under the constant onslaught of Satans' power, I know what to do.


Read my scriptures.

Like a soldier trained to reach for their gun, my arm naturally reaches out and grabs my scriptures.  My legs naturally bed and my head automatically bows and suddenly, I'm no longer completely alone.  Suddenly darkness doesn't sound so appealing.  Suddenly I feel like I can do one more day.

He doesn't solve my problems, He just helps make them bearable.

He doesn't take away my chemical imbalances, but He helps me manage the side effects.

He doesn't remove the obstacles, He just helps lift me over them.  Sometimes, all I need is that encouragement.

Heavenly Father is real.  He knows us.  He loves us.  He waits to help us.  I'm grateful I've been trained like a soldier, because I am living through a war.  A literal war where Satan runs rampant, and a very personal war...where Satan runs rampant.  In my brain.

My body is heavy, my mind is cloudy, and my house is a disaster.  Most people don't understand this.  But I'm not alone.  We are never alone.

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