Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The One About Burdens

I stop myself whenever I want to blog about spiritual things.  I've become more guarded knowing less and less about the audience that reads them.  But I think if my troubles and answers helps others, then it's worth it.  Even if it's just one person.

Lately I've been pretty...we'll say frustrated, with my body.

Of course you know I had my ovary attacked by a cystic teratoma in January.  It ate the whole thing, so the doctor ripped it out.  Which was fine.  

Then February through May marked a sort of see-saw approach to getting sick.  First I'd get the stomach flu, then my back would go out trying to reclaim the house from the stomach flu.  Then I'd get the stomach flu again...well, you see how it went.  

I missed a lot of life, it felt like.

I was pretty grumpy a lot.

And then other physical ailments struck me.  I was feeling a huge desire to shout to the Universe, "C'mon!  Enough already!"

But I didn't really think I had any right to complain or be frustrated.  So many other people were suffering so much more in other ways, I just couldn't bring myself to feel, "Woe is me."

I sort of lost my own identity, if that makes sense.  I was still a mom, a wife, a Sunday School Teacher, but...when it came to me, I just had to deal.  No time to fret and worry or feel down.  I didn't feel like I deserved a pity party.

And maybe I didn't.

Maybe I don't.

But I realized recently that it's not a pity party I was denying myself.

I was denying myself a very special relationship with my Heavenly Father.

I lost that identity someone in there.  Because I didn't want to "bother" Him with this stuff.  I didn't want to sound ungrateful for a pretty great body.  I was afraid if I opened up, the "why me" statement would slip out and then I'd get the plague.  

I didn't understand that, "We are not and never need be alone.  We can press forward in our daily lives with Heavenly Help.  Through the Savior's Atonement we can receive capacity and "strength beyond our own"." -Elder Bednar, April Conference 2012

What he said later in this talk really slapped me in the face, "I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lies and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all lone - through sheer grit, will power, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities."

I feel like I've missed so many opportunities to humble myself and ask for help.  Because I didn't want to be healed, necessarily, I felt like those blessings weren't for me.  "The unique burdens in each of our lives help us to rely upon the merits of mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah."

Physically, I feel beaten.  I don't want Heavenly Father to take away my burden but I have forgotten that I can be strengthened in it.  "And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" (Mosiah 24:15)

What am I going to do with this information?  I'm going to ask for a blessing from the Priesthood.  I'm going to pray and be grateful for my body in the ways that it functions, and asked to be strengthened in the area's it lacks.  I'm going to, hopefully, learn to rely more on my Heavenly Father.  Not because I don't want my burdens, or feel that I can handle them without Him, but because, why would I?  

One last quote from this fabulous talk:

"Thus, the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities - but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and short comings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us."

If you can say you don't suffer from any of these in your life, then you are truly blessed.  But if you do, then you also are truly blessed.  Because you get to rely on our Savior, the Atonement, and our loving Heavenly Father.  No better help, love or support can be found.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The One All About Brett

Father's Day.

I have many excellent fathers in my life.  My own dad, who gave me life and could easily take it away again.  My step-dad, who helped my mom raise me; not an easy feat.  My father-in-law, who taught me the art of shoving toys in babies diapers.

But most of this week my mind has been on Brett, and the type of dad he is.

When I was about to give birth to my perfect angel first born, I had low expectations of Brett as a father.  Not because he wasn't an awesome man.  On the contrary, it was because he exceeded perfection that I naturally assumed he would have to lack in some aspects of life.

Also, his dad thinks babies look like aliens with giant heads.  So, having been raised by a non-baby-lover, I thought, "Like Father like Son."

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Oh boy, I couldn't have been more wrong.

Brett held Cohen to his chest within the first minutes of his little life.  He clung to him, kissed his tiny bald head, looked into his eyes and talked to him.

Like a man.

He talked to my new born, precious angel baby like a man.  And hasn't stopped since.

His goal in life is to not let his children feel unnecessary sadness.  I mean, maybe he didn't set out to do this, but he's accomplished it.  If they're upset over something trivial, he bangs his head into the wall to make them laugh.  He pops his nose.  He makes fart noises.  He is obnoxiously loud and hilarious.  He warns them not to laugh, which, invariably, makes us all crack up.

But he also cares very much that they understand the why's behind everything.  Before any of our kids can whine, "But whhhyyyyy!"  Brett is three steps ahead, saying, "Do you want to know why we're doing this?"

Often he explains it in simple terms.

Sometimes he attaches scriptures to it.

Always, he backs it up with love.

He hugs.  He high fives.  He drives them to soccer, to dance.  He goes out at night to bring home ice cream.  He keeps us knee deep in candy.

He wakes up with them at night so that they have a happy(ish) mom in the morning.  He reads bed time stories.

He works so hard.  He chooses to work from home to be closer to us.  He takes time to be with his kids.  He takes time to read scriptures, to join FHE.

He kisses me in front of the kids.  He shows them how to love their future spouse by loving me in front of them.

He gives us all confidence.  He helps us all grow.

He is a great example of Heavenly love.  I'm so grateful for him.  And I know are kids are.

Happy Faja's Day, sweet man.  I love you.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

The One With Sulfur Burps

Today I have lysoled:

  • My entire bathroom
  • The kids entire bathroom
  • The changing table
  • The wipeys
  • The Aquaphor lid
  • The Aquaphor container
  • The diaper genie
  • Every door handle
  • Every sink handle
  • Every and any surface
The Neff House is under attack.  The Sulfur Burp Flu, or, The Aguado Flu, has hit us hard. 

Real hard.

It started with me, maybe.  It's hard to track it back.  The CDC would struggle with this one.

It hit me hard Friday night.  I have never thrown up so much, or done the...other thing so much.  And it was awful.  It was black.

And now my poor Kiki boo has it.  Break my heart.  His little belly is so bloated and hard and in between spouts of happiness is whining because he just doesn't know what is going on.  So sad.  

A picture for the grandparents.  Like kids and books, they only read blog posts with pictures ;)

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The One Where Six Hundred Of Us Went To The Zoo

My good friend Clarissa does preschool out of her house, because she's slightly insane, and she got us all into the zoo for $5 a pop.  Sweet!

Clarissa and William

"Grace, scootch over so you're in the picture."

"Grace, scoot over so you're in the picture!"

"A little more..."


Aaaand she blinks.  Poor kid.

After we took a trip into the desert...in Arizona...we went to pet the sting rays.  Because nothing says, "Come and pet me!" like a STING. RAY.  So soft and cuddly.

Actually, it was sort of the highlight of every ones day.

Kian got in on the fun, too.  So cute.

There were three or four little baby sting rays.  They were so fun to watch.  They would swim in the opposite direction, and swim under/over the older sting rays.  One swam right up to Kembry and ran into the wall trying to crawl up.  It was so funny.

We learned that baby sting rays are called "pops" and when they're born they look like little toquitos and then they open their little fins and are ready for life!

Here's lookin' at you, kid.  Don't mind his face.  We beat him.

I love my Cohen.  He is such an awesome big brother.

Kem and Em.  Cohen snapped this lovely picture.

Everyone, I'd like you to meet Eddie.  My future son in law.

Chloe is Eddie's "favoritest girl ever!"  Don't blame ya, kid.

This pose created by Eddie himself.  "Take our picture!" he hollered.  It's their future engagement picture.

Kembry and a water bottle!  Yay!


Hangin' out with Philip.  The Orangutan.  "People of the forest."  They're my favorite exhibit.

"I got a boo boo so I'm hiding in my blankey."

"You takin' my picture?  You takin' my picture?"

Blue Steel!

 We had a blast.  Tons of friends, tons of fun.  Followed by tons of naps!

The One Where Brett Wants To Give Me A Lance Armstrong Bracelet

It's fun finally updating the blog.


It used to be so easy.  Oh well, here's another day in the life...

Before our fabulous Christmas vacation in sunny Utah *snort* I had an MRI on my back to get an update on my spinal stenosis (it's moving along quick awfully), when they found a cyst on my right ovary.


I've done cysts before.  Not too concerned.  So we went our way to Utah, froze ourselves nearly to death, or at least we tried, suffered miserably from the swine flu, and then made our way back to Utah.

Que cyst.

It burst.

I went to the E.R. to request euthanasia, they gave me morphine instead, so I settled down.  During the ultrasound to check and make sure the cyst had burst, they found a cystic teratoma on my left ovary.


So a little over a week ago I had to go under the knife yet again to have it removed.  Unfortunately, it had eaten away most of my ovary, so they took it and my tube, the thieves.

And so now Brett wants to give me a Lance Armstrong bracelet.  I feel a little lopsided, but not too upset.  Surgery is never fun, and the recovery wasn't great.  But at least I can still ovulate.

I rhymed!  I still got it!

The One Where Brett Is Right

Oh, that's every time, though.  He's always right.  Cause he's da bomb.

Anyway, last Tuesday Brett got the AWESOME opportunity to serve as a parking attendant at the open house for the new Gilbert Temple.

We went to lunch before I dropped him off, cause, that's how we roll.  And we had a fabulous conversation.

I was telling Brett how I wanted to be better at certain things.  One of my biggest problems is having grand intentions, worthy desires, and then, blip.  No follow through.

I wasn't sure where it was coming from, or what exactly it was.  For example, I have general desires to raise my children to be righteous, beautiful children who have perfect testimonies of the Gospel.  Simple, right?

But it seems like life just keeps getting in the way.

So this is where Brett's advice came in.

D&C 82:10
"I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise."

Brett told me to hold the Lord to his promise.  Pray to him with my desires, which were good and worthy desires, and He could help me figure out what it was I needed.

Once I had that feedback, he then instructed me to go back to the Lord, and request help overcoming those obstacles.

So I did just that.  Dropped him off at the Temple, headed home, and prayed for guidance.  My answer was immediate.  I knew exactly what I needed to do to become overcoming my blip attitude.

I realized I needed more courage to say no to the good in order to accomplish the best.

The Lord never fails to follow up promptings and revelations with real-life, hands on experience.  So just shortly after this happened, I got a text from Brett:

"Guess what!  They said I can take you guys through the Temple and we don't have to wait in line.  Get the kids ready, be here at 6."

Sounds simple, right?

Enter obstacles.  I had a girls night planned that night.  My monthly girls night.  My beacon of all things laughy, girly, and full of delicious food.  It was my good friends last GN before her belly burst and she gave birth, and my others friends birthday bash celebration.  I had been waiting and waiting for over a month for this night.


Aw, now I see.  Time to hold the Lord accountable.  If I do what He's told me to, I know He will help me.  So, post-surgery, highly uncomfortable, I got myself and four children ready to go to the Temple.

And was it hard to choose the best choice?

Surprisingly (or not, I guess, depending on where your faith stands) it was not!

Cohen bathed, without argument!

Kembry, too!

Chloe let me choose her dress!

Kian didn't have a blow out diaper!

All sorts of miracles started taking place.  A lot of you may giggle at what I constitute as a miracle, but these were tiny sweet blessings all for me following revelation.

We showed up at the Temple at exactly 6 o'clock.  It was peaceful, beautiful, and amazing.  I cried.  My kids were so excited to see the Eternity mirrors in the sealing rooms.  It was the most wonderful feeling to show them the alter where mommy and daddy knelt (upon a similar one in the Salt Lake Temple) and were sealed together for time and all eternity.  I touched it's soft velvety surface and let the tears fall.  I was so grateful to be in that room with my family, I can't even describe the joy I felt.  I honestly don't think I've ever felt anything like it.  And I know they felt it, too.

My heart nearly burst when I saw Kembry reach out and gently brush the velvet of the alter.  Her tiny hand on such an important and simple piece of forever.  It was incredible.

And then we went to dinner.  The Spirit followed us, our dinner was so peaceful (even though poor Cohen puked right before we went in.)  And even though I had planned on meeting up with some awesome women later, I just didn't want to be away from my family.  I wanted to kiss my kids goodnight and snuggle with Brett.  And so I did.

Heavenly Father had given me direction on how I should act, and followed up with amazing blessings.

D&C 82:9
"...I give unto you directions on how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation."

This experience was almost immediately followed up by another where I had already RSVP'd to a rockin' birthday party for a good friend.  But then Brett signed us up for the marriage class the Stake offers, which we've been wanting to take.  I could have easily missed it.  In fact, there were women who did miss it in order to go to our friends bash.

But I knew Heavenly Father had made me a promise, and I knew what I would get in return when I held up my end of the bargain.

Brett and I don't really need a marriage class (cause we're rockstars.  Ok.  He's a rockstar, but I get some glitter now and then.)  We just love learning about the Gospel and ways to improve ourselves.  And I did learn just that.  Like a waterfall, more of my prayers and concerns were answered.

I got an answer to how I can better study my scriptures with Brett.

I realized we were lacking in saying prayers together.

And I learned again how very, very much our Heavenly Father loves us.

I'm so grateful I listened to Brett's advice, and so grateful that Heavenly Father blessed me with guidance and promises to help me succeed.  I have a loooong way to go, but I also have that same feeling I get when I'm in the Temple.

Everything is possible.  It's almost...easy.  With His help, I can do anything.  Even say no to a party or two.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

....And Then I Realized....

So I'm laying in bed the other night thinking about all the stuff I didn't do with the kids that I had wanted to.

I really wanted to do some kiddie crafts with my little ones.

I really wanted to have Kembry help cook dinner (she did help with the cookies...ish.)

I really wanted to read two chapters with Cohen since I missed two nights in a row.

I really, really, REALLY wanted to clean the kitchen.  But that's not with the kids, that was for my own sanity.

I really wanted to read our scriptures together.

I really wanted to say a family prayer.

And then it was 11:30, and I was in bed, not sleeping.

And then I realized...

I never did any of those things when I was kid.  Like...ever.

My mom tucked me in every night until I was like 10, but I don't remember reading chapter books with her.

Pretty sure we never prayed together, or read scriptures.  Ever.

My mom was a working mom, so I don't remember ever doing kiddie crafts with her.

But you know what, I still really love my mom.  I still turned out pretty okay...ish.  My kids still think I'm pretty cool and love me.

So even though there are still things I want to do just because I want to do them, I've kind of accepted that, hey, I turned out okay without ever learning culinary arts at my moms elbow.  And maybe my lack of craftiness doesn't stem from not weaving when I was a toddler.  Shoot, I can crochet a wicked hat of a random proportionate size.

And because most of this lamenting was poured out in prayer, Heavenly Father helped me recognize some other things:

I haven't yelled at the kids in a long time.

Kembry gives me hugs every fifteen minutes and tells me she loves me.

My kids love going to school.

My kids love coming home from school.

My kids have friends.  And they're good friends.

My kids smile more than they cry.

My kids are beautiful.  And they're mine.  And I adore them.

So I'm on my way.  I'm on the road.  And on that road may be the occasional, and I do mean, occasional kiddie craft.  Perhaps when Kembry is 16, I'll teach her the art of crock potting.  Cohen and I may just finish the Leven Thumps series before he graduates college or have his fifth kid.

All in good time.  There is a reason we have eternity.  There is time.

And because everyone loves inspirational quotes (okay, maybe just me?)  I'm throwing this in here.  My friend Shine posted it on facebook just when I needed it.  Another tender mercy of the Lord.

"By their fruits ye shall know them" Matthew 7:17; 3 Nephi 14:16
"Have you ever bitten into a fruit that's not ripe--a hard strawberry or a green melon or something like that? It's gross! All you really want to do is spit it out. If you were judging the fruit based on that appearance at that time, you might think the fruit was not good. But if you waited until the fruit was ripe and then tried it, you would see how delicious it could be.
An important thing to understand about raising children is that children are the slowest-ripening fruit there is. Those precious fruits of our mothering take a long time to mature, and what's more, they all ripen at different rates. So it's unproductive and even dangerous to base our feelings of mothering confidence on where the fruit is at any given time." - Emily Watts "The Slow-Ripening Fruits of Mothering," (p. 10-11)

And then of course, there's this:

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