Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Powerful Answer

In my last post, I pondered how we can increase the "Staying Power" of spiritual experiences to keep their impact in our lives fresh longer. Today I got an unexpected answer to my own question. Today I spent a good portion of the morning ... mourning. But I was not mourning my own losses or trials. I was mourning for a sweet family I don't really even know.

Oh I am sure I have crossed paths with this family. Their oldest child and my Annie were in the same grade at the same school and both on the cheer team together. But they were never in the same class. We were never in the same ward. Still somehow their loss this last weekend hit me hard today.

A few months ago my best friend had told me about a friend of hers who found out she had cancer, a mother of 5 young children aged 11 to 1. After spending the last couple of months feeling pretty good despite getting treated for the cancer, she passed away rather suddenly this Saturday, three days before her 33rd birthday.

There have been a few times in my life where I am keenly aware that I am literally fulfilling my baptismal covenant to "mourn with those who mourn" or "comfort those who stand in need of comfort." I am not sure how much comforting I could do for this sweet family who is aching for their mama, but this morning, I was mourning with them... for them.

I am fortunate to still have my own sweet Mama with me on this Earth. What a blessing she is to me! But, as a Mama myself, I know what it is to be separated by the veil of death from your baby girl. And today I was feeling for this Mama and most especially for her daughter.

I cried grief ridden tears on their behalf. I felt the injustice of and anger and pain of loss that came to me early in my own grief only this time under the umbrella of their loss. By the time I said my prayer on my breakfast, I was unable to speak in audible words. So halfway through, after saying grace for my food, I prayed silently, fervently, for this family.

And an amazing thing happened. I felt the Spirit wash over me in a stillness and peace that was both powerful and undeniable. I felt the anger leave and a whispering in my soul told me all was as it was meant to be. Where everything in me was yelling the opposite and that surely God didn't need a young mother of 5 small children, I felt that somehow this was all part of a Master Plan. And I felt that this family will be okay.

Then I prayed that they would be able to feel that comfort I had just felt through the powerful emotions of grief. I remember how hard it was to feel comforted in those early days of overwhelming, crippling grief. I prayed that this family, each one of them, would feel that peace that is so life sustaining at such a time. I will keep praying for that and for them.

In this day of mourning for those that mourn, I have discovered that doing so is one powerful way to keep the flames of a searingly powerful spiritual experience fresh in our hearts and minds. Perhaps that is one of the many reasons we are commanded to do so.

Tonight after reading my scriptures, I decided to do a little extra and read a talk from last April's General Conference. Is it any coincidence that I randomly chose Elder Nelson's talk "Let Your Faith Show" in which he talked about his own sweet daughter Emily, mother of five, who died of cancer? I think not. His talk spoke directly to my heart. Allow me to end by quoting some of it here.

"When we speak of faith—the faith that can move mountains—we are not speaking of faith in general but of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can be bolstered as we learn about Him and live our religion. The doctrine of Jesus Christ was designed by the Lord to help us increase our faith. In today’s vernacular, however, the word religion can mean different things to different people.

"The word religion literally means “to ligate again” or “to tie back” to God. The question we might ask ourselves is, are we securely tied to God so that our faith shows, or are we actually tied to something else?..."

"Contrast the fear and faithlessness so prevalent in the world today with the faith and courage of my dearly beloved daughter Emily, who now lives on the other side of the veil. As mortal life was leaving her cancer-ridden body, she could barely speak. But with a smile on her face, she said to me, 'Daddy, don’t worry about me. I know I will be all right!' Emily’s faith was showing—showing brightly—in that tender moment, right when we needed it most.

"This beautiful young mother of five had full faith in her Heavenly Father, in His plan, and in the eternal welfare of her family. She was securely tied back to God. She was totally faithful to covenants made with the Lord and with her husband. She loved her children but was at peace, despite her impending separation from them. She had faith in her future, and theirs too, because she had faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son.

"In 1986, President Thomas S. Monson said: 'Of course we will face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval. … Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with [faith] have courage as well.'

"President Monson’s counsel is timeless! So I plead with you, my dear brothers and sisters: Day after day, on your path toward your eternal destiny, increase your faith. Proclaim your faith! Let your faith show!

"I pray that you will be securely tied back to God, that His eternal truths will be etched on your heart forever. And I pray that, throughout your life, you will let your faith show! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Staying Power

Once in a while you have an experience that sears into your soul. Perhaps it is a major life event that fundamentally changes you. Or it could be as simple as a powerful answer to prayer or an experience where you learn something important from or just strongly feel the Spirit. I have had experiences both great and small that have profoundly and deeply touched my very soul.

In the moment of these experiences and, to varying degrees, the time just after the event, I am so committed to living to my fullest potential and being so dedicated to living according to all the truth I know. But as time goes by, inevitably, I get lazy. The iron clad grip the experience puts on my determination slackens. I suppose it is just human nature. But I want to find ways to keep this from happening. Maybe it isn't possible to keep it from happening. Maybe that is why we need to be always seeking and knocking and asking so that we have more soul touching experiences to keep us going in our determination.

What I have tried to do to keep these experiences with me is to write them down. Also I do share them with others in lessons or conversations when they are applicable and when I feel prompted to share them. This does help. I also do consciously "Remember" many of them when I am feeling weak or challenged. I remind myself when my faith is feeling faint of the MANY answers to prayers I have been given and the miracles I have seen in my life.

But I want to do more. I want to feel more of these experiences in my life. I the effects of them to last longer and I want to build on their momentum. Is that possible?

Maybe just writing this out will help me lose the laziness and recommit myself to be more mentally and emotionally engaged in my daily spiritual workouts or prayer and scripture study.

What do you do to keep those fires burning once you have had a spiritual fireball sear your soul?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Good Day

Today was just a good day. I have long been saying that there will be a party in our house the day Harrison is both potty trained and water safe. Today at his swimming lesson he was swimming all parts of the pool and flipping on his back every time he needed a breath or got nervous. He is finally kicking well and really swimming about 10 feet pretty well. We have come A LONG WAY this summer after 4 months of lessons from Feb. to May of him just launching himself into the pool and hanging out there vertically waiting for someone to grab him. He used to just use his legs like rabbit.

Also, Harrison kept his pants dry and clean today all day without me even having to tell him to go to the potty once. Wahoo!

This morning I turned on some Mormon Tabernacle Choir for our breakfast/scripture reading background music. It was maybe a little too good since Noble didn't want to go up and get dressed because he "couldn't feel the Spirit" upstairs. He just wanted to sit in the family room and enjoy the music and the feeling it gave him. Can't really blame him.

Today I also went shopping with my buddy Harrison, make 7 loaves of whole wheat bread and a batch of yummy sour cream rolls plus salmon, salad, mashed potatoes, gravy and strawberry, blueberry and banana (red white and blue for 9/11) salad for dinner with the missionaries and a recent convert/friend in our ward.

It was great to hear the sister missionaries message of faith and the importance of tithing.

I have been going all day today. I am beat tonight. But it is a good kind of beat. I have been fighting an asthma attack for about 5 days. Finally got to the Dr. yesterday and got lots of drugs to help my body kick it out. They are doing their job and I am breathing so much better today. Breathing is good. I am so grateful for the health and energy to accomplish all I have been able to get done today.

It is good to feel tired after doing good purposeful work all day. It is even better to feel the Spirit in my home and feel the blessings of a gracious Heavenly Father in my daily life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

6th Grade Girls Camp

My Mom said I should post on my blog about the little "girls day camp" I organized for my lovely daughter Annie who is entering the 6th grade next week. Here in Texas that is the start of middle school. My daughter's elementary school is a feeder to two different middle schools. So half of her friends will be going to a different middle school than she will. Meanwhile there will be LOTS of new kids at the middle school from other elementary schools.

I'm not sure how well you remember this phase of life we call middle school. I think most of us just want to block it out. But I remember well how important it was to find a good group of core friends and how excited I was to find a friend in a class filled with relative strangers.

Sixth grade is a big transitional year and I wanted to give Annie a head start in all this. So I called around in our church community and found out the names of every other LDS girl that would be in the 6th grade at her middle school. There were a total of 8 girls. I had only met 3 others who are in my congregation.

I contacted all the parents and organized a week of planned activities for the girls so they could get to know each other before school started. I asked the other parents to volunteer to plan one of the days activities. Three other moms were able to do it so I took the first day and we all came to my house to play get to know you games and do team building activities.

The next day, one of the other moms took the girls to see Maleficent. The third day they went swimming and had a pizza at another girls house. On Thursday the school held the 6th grade orientation. Several of us found each other in the school gym and sat together for the boring talking part. Then the girls went off to get their schedules and run a mock day of school. Turned out that Annie had 2 classes with two of the girls she had not met previous to the camp. She did not have any classes with any of the kids from our congregation. She only had one class out of eight with any of her friends from school last year in them. I was so glad we had made some new friends so she could have a couple more classes with familiar faces!

The last day the girls got together for a Just Dance and cake decorating activity. And one of the moms took it a step further and has invited the group to come over for a late over Tuesday night! So Fun!

So for my day - It was really important for me that the girls felt united. Four of our girls were from one ward and four from another. I really wanted them to see themselves as a group of 8, not 4 and 4. So here are the games I planned. First I had each girl bring a shoe to describe herself. That was fun and took about 15 minutes. Next we played a game with skittles where each girl took a few skittles. Then for each yellow they had to tell about their family or any random thing. For orange= something that made them happy. For Green = something that made them envious. For purple = an embarrassing moment. For red = something that made them mad.  We played several rounds of this and the girls really opened up about embarrassing moments.

Next I took the girls into the front room where I had jersey knit strips cut up to make finger knit bracelets. Before we made the bracelets, I talked to the girls. I told them that this was the whole of the LDS female 6th grade class at their middle school. I told them about how hard middle school can be and how different it is from elementary school. I told them how important finding a good group of core friends is in that time. I related a story about my middle school years where a guy called me a "B" and how hurt I was. I ran off to the bathroom and heard one of friends slap him and tell him what a jerk he was (Thank you Heather Shaw Bankhead!) That meant so much to me that she would stand up for me like that.

I told the girls that the girls at this table were the ones that would be there to defend them when others questioned or teased them. I had Annie stand up with her hands at her side and feet together. I told her not to move her feet and then I pushed on her and illustrated how easy it was to push her over. Then I had one of the new girls come stand up the same way but holding Annie by the elbows. I could still push them over. I added another girl holding both those girls elbows. I could still push them over but it was getting harder. I kept adding girls holding elbows. By the time I got to 6 girls, I could no longer push them over no matter how hard I tried. I had all the girls stand up together like that, feet together unmoving and holding on to two other girls elbows. I could not budge them.

I told them that if they would stand together they could make it through middle school. Then I showed them the bracelets we were making and how to make them. I told them that these bracelets could be subtle reminders of their alliance. They could see the other girls wearing them and know that is a girl who stands with me in my standards and my beliefs and is my friend who would stand up for me and defend me.  Then we made some really cute bracelets.

Next we played a game called press conference where one kid pretends to be a famous person and the other kids act as reporters asking the person questions and trying to figure out who she is. Lastly we divided into 2 teams (with one person you knew before and two you didn't) and made up skits / dances to music. Then we performed them for each other and some of the parents as parents arrived to pick up the girls.

I felt it went really well and was glad to have gotten to know the other girls and met their parents. All in all I feel this is great way to prepare a kid for the social craziness that is the transition to middle school. Feel free to use the idea if you wish! :)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thoughts on Faith From a Road Trip

I just returned from a month long road trip with my kids. My husband was with us the first 10 days and 22 hours of driving. The 36 hours of driving and 21 days I was on my own. It was a great adventure. For the most part the kids did great and we had a fabulous time. I paid them $5 Monopoly money every 30 minutes they were good in the car. If they were not good I charged them Monopoly money.

I had a garbage bag full of treats they could buy for $5 each (like a granola bar or fruit roll) and I had another big bag of prizes for higher prices they could save up for. It was a good incentive and the prizes kept them motivated and (once they bought them) entertained.

I had a chance to catch up with several old friends along my journey and time to visit with each or my siblings and in laws. It was great.

But somewhere along the way, a train of thought began to form in my mind. Hours of driving on the road gives you lots of time to think. My thought is about faith. I began to think about those times in your life when you just don't know. I think most of us come to a point somewhere in our lives where we question everything we ever thought we knew.

In that moment of doubt and uncertainty, we have a choice. Because the fact is, when we are in that moment we don't KNOW anything. We feel we have "lost our faith" perhaps. But this is just the thing that has struck me. When we "know" things are true we aren't really using "faith." It isn't working our faith to "know" the church is true when you are feeling the Spirit witness that to you. When you are feeling that "testimony" and witness of the Spirit of God you can know the truth of those things about which it is testifying.

On the other hand, when you come to a point where you pray and don't get an answer, or you can't feel the Spirit for one reason or another (because I can tell you that even if you are doing everything right both of those situations can and likely will happen at some point in life); it is at this point that FAITH comes into play. You see Faith is believing and acting upon that belief when YOU DON'T KNOW.

It is when you stand at the cliff with no more reassurance that there is an Indiana Jones Bridge than the word of some old guy you barely know that you must choose whether to step out and hope or stay where you are. Let's face it. The sane thing to do, the reasonable thing, the rational thing is NOT to step out. But in that situation, we must make a choice. Choosing to step IS exercising faith.

I felt like this when Camille passed away. I was in so much pain that I could not feel the Spirit. Here I had just prayed like I had never prayed before for my daughter to be made whole and all the while her condition worsened. I had always been taught that the Spirit would warn and comfort but here I felt no warning voice before and there was no comforting my broken heart.

In that moment, I could have easily chosen to forsake my belief. But instead, in that moment of NOT knowing anything, I Chose deliberately to believe. I REMINDED myself of the countless prayers I had said that HAD been answered. Sure most of them were about small in and inconsequential things but I KNEW they were prayers answered from God. I Reminded myself of the times I had felt warned of the Spirit. And I chose to believe that because I was not warned that Camille's accident was part of her and our plan in this life. Did I know this? No. I chose to believe it. I chose to have believe on faith. I still rely on faith in so many matters that I just don't KNOW.

But I guess that my big thought from this trip was that it is not those who "KNOW" the most that have the most faith. It is those who KNOW the LEAST and choose to believe and live that belief anyway that have the most faith.

What I have also come to discover is that as we act in faith and choose to believe in the face of complete uncertainty (Notice I don't say doubt because if you are choosing to believe you are choosing to stop doubting and just believe.) the Lord will in time help us feel that foundation under our feet and in time perhaps even let us "see" the path upon which we walk so that we can "know" more certainly where we stand.

This I do KNOW: God lives. Jesus is the Christ. He Lives! Christ's Atonement has both that power to cleanse our souls from sin and the power to bind up the broken heart. Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ and was instructed of them to restore Christ's church on the Earth. That Church is today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Book of Mormon is a true book of scripture and written by ancient prophets of God for the people of our day and age.

If you doubt these things: I hope you will consider me (though perhaps I am a stranger) as the old lady upon whose word you can rely as one who has walked the invisible bridge before you. Choose Faith. Choose belief. Step out and I promise you in time and through continued belief, you will find your footing.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Makes Me Sad and Makes Me Happy

Today I went to Annie's "moving on" ceremony. She is officially done with elementary school. She got dressed all cute for the ceremony today. I sat wrestling with the boys for an hour while they recognized kids for various achievements and reflected on their time at the elementary school.

Overall, the ceremony made me sad. I feel no real connection to this elementary school. Those teachers didn't watch my girl grow up from a tiny, violin-playing, chapter book reading kindergartener into the budding young woman she is today. Coming in at the beginning of fifth grade, she didn't have a chance to run for student council or be one of the school helpers. All that was determined before she got there.

In my mind I though of how different her end of elementary school ceremony would have been if we had stayed in Vegas. I imagined how much fun she would have had on the 5th grade field trip to the PALI institute in California and maybe even the GATE trip to Space Camp. I thought of the opportunity to be a host on the schools "Good Morning School" show. She would have been AWESOME on that and would have LOVED it. Moving erased all those opportunities for her. This morning it just hit me and it made me sad.

I was allowed to take her out early after the ceremony and I did. As we drove home, I asked her how she felt during the ceremony. She said Happy. I told her I thought she was pretty darn wonderful. She said, "I think I am pretty wonderful too." And that made me very happy.

Later in the day, we had friends over to celebrate the official beginning of summer with homemade ice cream and a giant water gun fight. The kids had fun. Time came for Sabrina to go to a party her friend was hosting. On the drive over she said, "I think I am getting more freckles."

I told her she probably was because the sun gives you freckles and she has been spending time in the sun. Then she said, "I love my freckles! I think they are so cute." That made me happy too.

There are few things in this world about which I am truly passionate. But two of them are my testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and his restored church on this earth (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and instilling in young women a healthy self esteem.

To have two of my daughters in one day so openly express genuine feelings of self love made me feel so happy. I am so incredibly grateful that my 13 year old can love some of the unique things about her that create her own beauty. And I am also incredibly grateful that even though my Annie didn't get as recognized and awarded as she could or would have been at her old school, she still knows she is pretty wonderful.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

S'more Krispies

For last night's So You Think You Can Dance party, my girls wanted me to make Rice Krispie Treats. But I wanted to do something a little more interesting. So I looked in my pantry to see what I had and I threw these together ... S'more Krispies.

Now I like a good Rice Krispie treat as well as the next girl. But these were so good I had to tell my husband to hide them from me before I finished off the whole plate. 

Here is how I made them:
Smore Krispies
3T Butter
5 1/2 cups Marshmellows
1/4 cup Nutella
6 cups Rice Krispies
8 Oreos broken up
2 cups mini marshmallows
5 graham crackers crushed

Melt 3T Butter and 5 1/2 cups of marshmellows in a pot.
When melted add the Nutella (I just got a big spoon and put a spoon and a half in. I would guess it was about 1/4 a cup.)
Pour in your Rice Krispies
Start stirring. Add your extra marshmallows, Oreos, and graham crackers.
Put in a 9x13 sprayed pan and press down with clean hands you have sprayed with cooking spray.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Question and some ideas for service

Okay Ladies, where do you buy your shoes and why? I need help finding the best place to buy ladies shoes! HELP!

Also I am having my Dance Watching party Wednesday night at 8:30! Come if you have access to my address!

Looking for a way to help someone else? Here are a couple of ideas:

Feed the local missionaries from my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.) They won't try to convert you. They just will pray with you and eat with you and maybe share a Christ centered message (3-5 minutes) with you. It will be a blessing to your family to do the Christlike service of feeding these young men and women who are sacrificing 18-24 months of their life to the Savior. So if they knock of your door or you see them on the street, offer to have them over for dinner. You'll feel good knowing you helped someone out.

Go to this link and learn more about Prader Willi disease and see how you can help this family whose daughter has it.

Go buy a cookbook from this cute couple to help them afford IVF. I did this just because the girls name is Camille. You know that won me over. :)

Okay people I am trying to do an extra good deed daily. I am counting posting this as one of mine for the day. Have you done a good turn today?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It's that time of year...

I am loving Spring in Texas! I love flowers. Spring is the season of blooms but I usually suffer so badly from allergies that I can't enjoy them. Not here!!

Finally feeling like myself and really enjoying the cool breezes and warming air here. I love the rain storms and was so happy to wake to foggy dew this morning. 

We have done a total makeover on our backyard and I am loving all my roses, gardenias, jasmine, calla lilies, daisies, hydrangea, and hibiscus! Plus we have a new swing where I can sit and enjoy it all! 

And the kids are loving the new sandbox my dad and I made when he came to visit in April!

Haven't been able to fully love many things here in Dallas yet but I officially LOVE Spring here!

Also So You Think You Can Dance premieres tonight!!!! I'm excited. If you have my address (even if it is from a stake directory or school directory and I haven't officially met you) you are invited to come join the party tonight 8:30-10:30 pm. I'll be making something yummy to celebrate the premiere!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mirena and Depression

Okay. I know. I haven't been blogging very "regularly" lately. I have been in a funk for a while. And I just have been instagramming more. But there are a few things I want to write about. This post will be about the first one, just be warned it is a bit personal so you can skip this post if you want. :0)

Mirena and Depression - I just wish I had known about this before I had my Mirena put in. 18 months ago I had an IUD put in. I had been on the pill when Jon and I first got married and it was great. Then after Annie was born I tried the mini pill and got depressed after 3 weeks and I quit it. After Harrison I really REALLY wanted the Mirena to work for me so I wouldn't have to deal with periods anymore.

Here is what it was really like. First I went crazy (short tempered and cranky) for about 6 weeks. Jon was ready to get it out right then. But told him we should wait and see if it settled down because I really wanted to have no periods. I bled sporadically and enough to need to wear something for the first 14 ish months. YES people.

Doctors often seem so eager to get you on the Mirena but I didn't hear that it was normal to bleed randomly for that long. Apparently it was because I went to my Doc to ask what was up and he said it was all normal. Even after 14 months I bled randomly throughout the month. It just wasn't always enough to merit wearing something.

The "Crazy" did wear off a bit, but I had some serious stress and challenged to work through then. Basically, Jon was looking for a new job and I started studying for the bar exam. Then Jon got his new job and left town and I packed up the house and moved us. And then there was moving a week before Camille's angel anniversary. So I was super emotional all through this.

I told myself to just give myself 6 months in Dallas and it would get better. And while I did get used to the place and feel more like I had friends here, I still didn't feel... myself. February was especially tough. There were weeks I just wanted to stay in bed and cry all day. By this point I had no REASON to be down. I mean it was just silly. I felt so blessed in my life. I looked at signs of depression online and I had 7 of the 10 classic signs.

So I began to wonder if the IUD was playing a role. I googled Mirena and Depression and read story after story that sounded so much like mine. I made an appointment with a doctor here. She suggested perhaps I needed estrogen in the mix to balance out my hormones. She put me on the pill I originally took as a young married. 10 days into that pill and I was WAY worse.

My parents came to visit and I just couldn't climb out of the pit I was in to show them how excited I was that they were here. My mom was worried about me. I stopped taking the pill after she left and it was suddenly SOOOO much better. I made an appointment to go back and have the IUD removed.

I have been IUD free for about two weeks now. It feels like a heavy blanket has been taken off me. I am able to really feel happy again and feel like myself.  I share all this just in case there is anyone else with the Mirena or another hormonal contraception that is feeling like I was and not able to figure out why.

Don't let Doctors tell you it has no effect because the hormone is so small an amount and only directly into your uterus. Please! Some of us are just more sensitive to hormones than others I think and if you are one of those people, look into getting rid of those things.

Consider this my Public Service Announcement. Hopefully I will get my booty in gear to blog more because I do have more to write. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Camille's 7th Birthday / Easter 2014

This weekend has been one worth writing about. The kids had Thursday and Friday off school and Jonathan had Friday off work. So Friday we went to Six Flags to celebrate Camille's 7th birthday. We always do a big family fun thing like this for 7th birthdays. The weather was perfect and the park was empty so we had a great time.

Saturday morning Jonathan took the kids to do a community service project pulling weeds on the "Flower Mound." This was part of our "Cami Kindness." Meanwhile I prepared a lunch for us and the cousins and filled balloons with helium and Cami Kindness acts people had told me they had done.

After lunch we took the balloons out front and let them fly. It was great.


Thank you so much to all of you who contacted me on did Cami Kindness acts this past week. It really means so much to me that you all remember her and continue making the world better because of her life.

What really made this weekend worthy of a blog post however, is less what I did and more how I felt. This is my 5th time celebrating Camille's birthday without her. It was, without question, my hardest. I am not sure if it is being in a new place where no one knew her or just the fact that it has been 5 stinking years of not being with her on her birthday. Perhaps more than both of these, it was feeling her spirit closer to me than normal and just aching to be with her.

Whatever the factors, this was a hard one for me. I was somewhat weepy on Friday. Friday night I couldn't hold the tears back any longer and I wept long and hard that night before crawling into bed. As I prayed that night through my sobs, I was given the thought or impression that my grandmother Lucile (celebrator extraordinaire, she made everything pure magic) was with Camille-that she was taking care of her. Perhaps this was meant to make me feel better. Honestly, it mostly just made me really jealous. So I cried even more wishing I were with them.

I had a few other impressions about the work she is doing now and I treasure any hint I get of those things in my prayers. But none of these heavenly gifts could pull me from the powerful wave of grief I was experiencing. I don't get hit by these waves very often anymore so I didn't fight riding it. Sometimes my grief reminds me that she was real. 

Still I wondered how long this wave would last. Would this be the kind that pulled me down for days or weeks or months? I was set to teach a lesson on the Atonement Sunday in gospel principals class. Would I even be able to prepare it or get through it?

Saturday was an even weepier day than Friday had been. I did not feel the "celebratory" feeling I had in past years on Camille's birthday. I was just so sad that she was not there. I ached for all the consequences her absence has on every member of my family.

After the birthday party Saturday afternoon, Jon took the kids to the park so I could prepare my lesson. I decided to make a visual aid to help explain the role of the Atonement in the Plan of Salvation to our class and most importantly to our new member. This is something my mother would do. It is a good teaching tool so I followed suit. Below is the result:

Saturday night we prepped for Easter and finally got to bed around 12:30. I went to bed exhausted and emotional and wondering how Easter would go.

Sunday morning I woke to the sounds of excited children (one of my favorite sounds.) I got up despite only having about 6 hours sleep and turned on Handel's Messiah and told the kids where to look for the their baskets. As I listened to that music, the joy of the gift of Easter took root in my heart. My sorrow evaporated like the morning dew.

Later in church, our sacrament talks were especially profound and I felt a reconfirmation of the reality of the Savior's power to make us perfect. I felt a lightness in spirit and mind because of my witness that HE LIVES! He rose from the dead! And because he did so will all of us.

As I taught my Easter lesson on the Atonement a little later, I taught what was on my visual aid. Then, at the end, I noted how it is a really nice plan all laid out on this nice chart. It looks good on paper. But when you are living separated from someone you really love, this plan is EVERYTHING. And what Jesus Christ did in Gethsemene and on the Cross and in the tomb. That few days of history and the Savior's choices and his suffering in that time make absolutely all the difference in the whole fabric of the plan.

I am so grateful to Him. He is the Way. Through Him our families can become Eternal Families. He is the way Home to all those we love and miss beyond the veil.

My reconfirmation of this knowledge removed my sadness. It took the sting of death away for me yesterday. If you don't know these truths for yourself, I urge you to Seek them. Seek Him. At some point in every person's life, this knowledge can literally save you. For more information on how to find Truth for yourself, go hit the chat button on No one will try to convince you they are right. They will only guide you to find out for yourself what is true. You will be glad you did.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cami kindness time

It's that time of year again! Camille's birthday is the 19th. This year it happens to be the day before Easter. I love it! What better way to spend "Easter Eve" than doing service? 

My family is planning to participate in a community clean up project to make The Flower Mound beautiful. I am excited to do this work for our community as a family and in Camille's honor.

I invite any who read this to participate in Cami Kindness Day and do some act of service or kindness beyond what you would normally do in memory of Camille. This is one way her short life can really make a difference and make the world just a little bit better place.

Please SPREAD THE WORD! Invite others to join us. 

I would love it if you would share what you did or are going to do 
for your Cami kindness with me by commenting, emailing me or whatever. I want to release balloons as part of her birthday celebration and I would love to fill them with scraps of paper with Cami kindnesses written on them.

Thank you for helping me make her short life matter.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Blossoms of Love

Recently, I had been feeling well... depressed. Which is just silly because I have no reason to be down. I am so blessed. I recognize and appreciate my blessings. But still I had this fog of depression hanging on me. I am not sure why. Maybe my hormones were just off or something but it was worse and longer than my normal one day of feeling blue per month.

Honestly, there were several days in a row there where I just wanted to stay in bed and cry all day for no reason. I am a little embarrassed to even admit that but it is the truth. The frustrating part for my analytical mind was not being able to pinpoint why I was down or how to get it turned around. It gave me great sympathy for those who suffer from depression more chronically.

But as I was thinking my way through my rain clouds, I identified a few ways I could feel more sunshine in my life. Some of these were things I could not bring into my life on my own.

Today the weather turned warm here in Dallas. I am not going to say that didn't help my mood a bit. But it was the capstone to a myriad of small miracles that have told me that the Lord is mindful of me. You see in these last few days, several people have provided to me those mood lifting opportunities that I could not give to myself.

It got to the point where I started to think, "Geez! It is like someone told everyone how I was feeling and everyone around me is trying to lift me up." Then today it just subtly hit me. Maybe someone didn't tell everyone how I was feeling but some One knew and was inspiring people to say and do things that would lift me up.

I am grateful to have friends and acquaintances who live close enough to the spirit to follow these gentle whispers. Today as I can hear the promise of spring in the song of the birds outside my window, I also can see the beauty of the bouquet of love blossoms the Lord has gathered for me through the words and actions of his living angels on Earth.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Opening the Past - Call for Prayers

Yesterday my girls had a family history themed activity for church. Annie and Lauren both decided to dress up as my grandmother Mary Harris and tell funny stories about her. There are no shortage of funny stories about Grandma Harris. She was a hoot.

I thought it would be fun for them to take some of her clothes that I actually have but I haven't seen them since our move. I decided to go look for them. One of the places I thought to look was in the trunk upstairs in Sabrina's room. It was my hope chest when I was a girl and I have put some special things in it from my mother.

It is also where I have kept all things Camille that were made of cloth. I guess I just didn't really remember how many things I had in there. It has been a long, long time since I opened that trunk. I was running around looking for these Grandma Harris clothes and opened that trunk and as I put my hands down in those little baby girl clothes ... she was just there. I could feel her little legs in my hands and feel her soft cheeks against her favorite blanket. I could just almost feel her little body in my arms.

This summer will mark 6 years since her passing. She would turn 7 in a couple months here. I see other little girls her age and wonder at how big they are. I wonder at what her personality would be like at that age.

But she is still just shy of 14 months. She is my baby preserved and waiting for me. Someday I will make use of those blankets and clothes. I will wrap her up in them and hold her tight to me again. That is the hope to which I hold. It is the promise of the Savior through the power of the Resurrection. I will hold her little 14 month old body alive and whole again. And it will be a glorious day.


One of the little girls in our ward (a "would be" a classmate with Camille) just got diagnosed with Leukemia last week. Her name is Melody Johnson. Her family has been so kind to us since we moved here and they have kids all the same range as me. I am sure their family would appreciate any prayers any of you would like to offer on her behalf.

Knowing the power of masses of people praying for you as I do, I simply must ask for your prayers on her behalf. Thank you!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Finding Happy

I am feeling a little down today. I know it is probably just hormonal, but I hate feeling this way, especially when I have so very many blessings in my life. In an effort to lift my spirits, I thought I would share a few things that make me happy. And maybe give myself some pointers on how to better fill my life with these things.

Helping Others - Fewer things bring me greater joy than knowing I am helping someone else in a time of need. I love feeling that I am making a difference in the world for good. Big or small, making a difference by helping someone else makes me happy.

I have been blessed to have wonderful children. Being a mother gives me opportunities every day to make a difference in the life of my children. I need to remember to look at my mothering more fully through this lens. There isn't anyone in my life upon whom I can have a greater impact than my children. I need to make sure I am working daily to make a difference in each of their lives for good.

Learning - I love learning. I wish I could always be taking some sort of class. Perhaps I should look into doing some online coarse work. Or maybe I just need to take the Texas Bar. :) I will have to think on this one. So many choices on what to learn.

Music - Good music can always lift my spirits. I ought to keep my earphones next to my bed and pop a song in to start my day that will get me up and going with a skip in my step and a smile on my face.

Friends - I really enjoy spending time with old friends and really getting to know new friends. I love it when you can break through the superficial wall we all put up with other people and just have a real and honest deep conversation with someone. Having a great conversation with a friend is sometimes as good as going to therapy for me and lots cheaper.

Family Happiness - My family, when they are happy, brings me so much joy. I mean I still love them when they are crabby and whiny and angry etc. But sometimes when they are in sour moods it can bring me into a sour mood too. But when I am feeling a little down, all I have to do is ask Noble for a little "sunshine" and he will look at me with this cute smiley face that brightens my whole day. Each of my children and my husband have this power to brighten my day in small and simple ways.

Writing - I can almost always pick my chin up and have a brighter perspective when I write. I am so grateful for this blog and the blessing it has been to me in that way. Even when all the world is falling down around me, I know I can find a silver lining through writing.

It has even helped me today. I am feeling a little bit better just being able to sit here and see this list of happy things and a few plans to bring them more fully into my life. And now I have a primary lesson to prepare for church tomorrow. I get to substitute for Lauren's class. :) I am sure it will make me happy.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Nerium. Have you tried it? Here are my trial results!

 A little over a month ago. A good friend of mine, Sunny Valencia, asked me if I would try out a product she sells. It is a night cream called Nerium. I am sure some of you have heard of it. I told her I would and I would post the results on my blog. True to my word and in spite of the awful selfies, here is that post. :)

It has been 35 days since I started using Nerium. My bottle ran dry last night. I took the top photo here the night before I started using the product just after washing my face.

I took the photo below one month later.

I took a few closer up photos on specific areas I knew I had wrinkles. The top is always the before and the bottom the after.

Now for my personal review: This product is really easy to use. Really all I did was rinse my face with water each night and put the product on according to directions. It feels kind of like a mask and gets tight on your skin which I liked. You leave it on over night and rinse it off in the morning.

I will say I did not love the smell of it. It smelled a little like bananas to me. But my husband likes bananas very much and he really liked the smell. To each his own I suppose.

As for how well it worked, I think the photos speak for themselves on that. I was skeptical, I will admit. But I was surprised when I looked at my own before and after photos how much of a difference I could see in how pronounced my wrinkles were, especially on my forehead.

All photos were taken at the same time of day in the same room and lighting and, as much as I could, at the same angle.

If you want to get some of this lovely wonder. You can contact Sunny at or go to here website HERE



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Prayers getting longer

Ever had a season of you life when it seems like your prayers just keep getting longer because you keep adding people to pray for every day? I was feeling like that last night on my knees. I was going through all the people I know of who are suffering in one way or another and praying for each of them individually. Some of these people I have been praying about for years. Others are new urgent additions.

I know none of their issues are going to be solved overnight. But I also know all too well the power of people praying for you when you are suffering. It is a power not to be underestimated. And so I keep praying for these people, my family and friends, and sometimes even strangers.

Last night the list seemed to be getting rather long and the weight of sorrow and sympathy in my heart seemed to be growing heavy. It was then that I was reminded once again that there is One who carries all these burdens with them.

And I wondered at it... at HIM! He knows all the hidden and secret problems and sorrows of us all. And He has suffered them all with us and for us.

I know He has the power to lift each of us up out of the deep.

So, I turned my concerns and sorrows for myself and those for whom I pray over to Him.

And I thanked Him once again.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Funny Valentine

Dearest Camille,

Today our family gathered in the family after scriptures and I handed out valentine's cards I had made for each of my kids. I thought of you when I was making them. I had a cute piece of paper ready to write you a card too. But I decided to write your card on this blog instead. Sending my words out across the nebulous expanse of the cyber world feels a little more like getting them out to you than holding a piece of paper in my hand.

My heart aches to be with you and hold you and tell you how much I love you in person dearest. I want to thank you for helping us grow so much as a family and for helping us remember what is important in this life.

In each of the other girls valentine's card, I told them how I loved their talents. I look forward to the days when I can get to know your talents more fully and know you more fully as a person. As your brothers grow and I now that they are leaving the baby stage I think of you often as my baby still waiting.

One day I will hold your little baby girl self again and I will squeeze your little thigh and kiss your cute poochie lips. I will watch your grow and learn and hear the amazing things you will tell me. And I will learn from you. One day.

I love you to the deepest part of my soul,

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why I Believe

A friend of mine started posting a series of essays by her friends and family members on her blog. Each essay is on the topic "Why I Believe." I have read several of the essays she has collected and really enjoyed reading each persons individual journey. Today I had a free afternoon so I wrote my own essay for her collection. I am glad to have recorded some of the experiences I share in my essay that I don't think I have ever written down. Writing this was a great experience for me. If you have any inclination to write your own "Why I Believe" essay, I would encourage you to take some time and do it. Keep it for yourself and your family, submit to my friend for her collection, or share it with the world, it is just good to record it. I shared mine with my friend and it will be on her blog. I wanted to share it with all of you too.

Why I Believe
By Stephanie Waite

I was born and raised by faithful life-long members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So, in my childhood they taught me about Jesus and my Heavenly Father. I was taught the doctrines of repentance and faith and choosing the right. Eventually, when I turned 8, I was baptized.

Many might believe that this teaching and training by parents are my reason for believing. And I will say that their efforts in parenting are what guided me to my belief. But my parents teaching is not why I believe today.

I believed my parents when I was a child. But, I did not really live their teachings very well. I was a naughty kid. I am not saying that lightly. I mean, it is just the truth. I was not really kind to my friends. I hurt them physically frequently. I was stubborn and selfish and insecure.

I believed the LDS church was true because I had been taught that. But, I didn’t know it for myself. I was going to church every week and all that, but my heart had not been converted.

As my childhood turned to adolescence, I may have stopped scratching my friends and acting out but I found other ways to get attention from my peers. By the time I was 13 I had been going to our youth program for a year and had felt the Spirit on more than one occasion. I knew I needed to be better and I was trying.

Shortly before I turned 14, I started going to seminary, a before school class where you study the scriptures. I had an amazing teacher who had a huge impact on my life (thank you to Garth Tesch.) I began reading my scriptures on my own everyday.  I had made some good new friends and had really begun to change.

During that year, I had been trying to get one of my best friends, who was a member of our church but not really active, to come with me to seminary.  She had come a couple of times and told me she felt the Spirit there. I knew deep down that this was a good thing for her and I really wanted her to come with me. I had spent a lot of time and effort trying to encourage her to join me. I felt so happy that she was feeling the Spirit there.

Two days later, my friend called me one night. I was sitting in my parents’ study looking at a picture of the Savior they had there. I was alone. My friend told me excitedly that she had sneaked out of a church activity with a boy and done some things they ought not to have done. She was bragging about it. I was crushed. I was so hurt that she would go do these things after feeling the Spirit and all the work I had been doing to help her get back to church. (I did mention I was selfish right?)

But as I listened to her, what could I say. Was I any less guilty than she? No. My own sins, as I knew them to be, were beyond what she had just told me. I could say nothing. I hung up the phone and the wheels of my mind started turning.

If I was this hurt by what she did. How hurt would my parents be if they knew all that I had done? After all, they had been working my whole life to bring me into the church. Geez, how hurt must my future children be. How disappointed in me must they feel. They surely have seen all my doings. They must be so bummed to be getting a mom who is such a sinner.

Then I looked up and saw the picture of the Savior looking at me.

He knows. He knows everything. And so does His Father. They have been working so hard to get me back to them and here I have been screwing it all up.

At this point, I got up and went into my bedroom. I spent the next three hours sobbing. I don’t think I can describe how low I felt to anyone who has not felt the full weight of their sins on their own back. But I felt them that night… keenly. They were overbearingly heavy on my shoulders. I wondered how I could live with the weight of them. I was so weighed down in sorrow that I felt I was not even worthy to utter a prayer.

Yet, praying is what I had been taught we were supposed to do to be forgiven. Still I shrank before my Maker knowing how I had hurt the Savior. I knew that what I was feeling, that weight of sin, was just a small drop of what he had felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. I was so very sorry to have caused Him such pain. How could I now ask anything from Him?

After three hours, I gathered my courage and knelt before my Maker. The only words I could think were, “Father, please… please forgive me.”

Immediately … and I mean immediately, all the weight was gone. It was lifted from my shoulders. I could feel it evaporate off of me. I was filled with a sense of love and peace that was beyond description. I knew that I had been completely forgiven for all those sins that had been weighing me down. I knew I was accepted of the Lord.

When evangelical Christians talk about being “born again,” I imagine this might be the kind of experience to which they are referring. I had been baptized years before, but that night I was truly born again. I felt changed in a mighty way. I knew exactly the weight of the burden the Savior had taken from me. I knew I would spend the rest of my life in His service in gratitude for His sacrifice for me.

This experience is why how I know that the Savior is real and that through His atonement He has the power to forgive sin.

Several months later, after spending a year reading about and studying the history of our church, I had another experience that gave me a solid testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. I went on a trip to visit the church history sites. I had been praying for about a year to know for myself whether our church was really all it claimed to me- the only church with a fullness of the truth of the Savior’s gospel and led by the Savior himself through a prophet in our day.

One of our last stops was at the Sacred Grove where Joseph Smith went to ask God which church he should join. He recounts that in answer to his prayer, God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him that he should join none of the churches he had been considering. He was told that the Savior’s church was not on the Earth at that time but it would be restored to the Earth through him.

I was familiar with the story. But, I wanted to know for myself if it was true. So when the group leader gave us time to go find a spot and pray in that grove, I hoped for an answer. I was disappointed. I was so concerned by the mosquitoes buzzing around me that I was not able to focus very well on my prayer. After a short time, I gave up and found a friend and headed back to the visitor’s center where we were to gather for a testimony meeting.

During that testimony meeting, something amazing happened. It felt as if a veil was lifted off of my understanding and I felt my heart burning within me. I am not talking about heartburn, though it was a physical feeling. It felt like my heart was glowing embers of a fire. It didn’t hurt. It just felt so warm. Into my mind came scriptures I had read about the truth of spiritual things being witnessed by a burning of the bosom. I knew that was what I was feeling.

I also knew that it had been burning for a while but I had only just then, as the veil of my understanding was lifted, been able to recognize it. This told me that I had been having witnesses of the Spirit my whole life but I had not recognized them as such. I needed to be more aware to recognize them.

I shared my testimony and walked out of that room. I found comment cards in that visitor’s center and wrote myself a note. I wrote down how I felt. I told myself never to forget what I knew right then. I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that he really did have the vision he claimed to have, and that the Book of Mormon was a true book of scripture. It followed logically to me that if Joseph Smith was a prophet and the Book of Mormon was true then this church he restored must also be what it claimed to be.

I wrote on those cards, “I know it and I know God knows that I know it.” I am bound by that witness. I am committed. I am all in.

Beyond these experiences of my youth, I have had countless manifestations both big and small of the Spirit guiding me and working in and through me in my life. I have felt the Spirit as I read the scriptures, including and especially the Book of Mormon. I have had prayers answered in miraculous ways. I have seen the Lord’s hand in the workings of the church. I have been physically healed in a powerful and immediate way by a priesthood blessing given when I had pneumonia in college. I have had witness after witness of the truth of the doctrines of the church as I have put them to the test by living them.

In my adult life, I have been faced with trials that test faith. I have had doubts enter my mind that could derail me from my faith if I let them. They are small things, inconsistencies I could focus on, questions I can’t find answers to, or historical things I just don’t understand about the church, its doctrine or some of the leaders.

But the fact remains that I know what I have felt. When I am faced with those questions, trials, or doubts I choose to believe.

Never was this choice more poignant than when my daughter drowned. Here I was, doing all I could to follow the Savior and choose the right. And one day as I am sitting 10 yards away inside my house, my 14 month old is drowning outside in our spa. I had received warning promptings to prevent bad things from happening before. Yet on this day, it was as if there was total radio silence from heaven.

God did not stop that bad thing from happening. And as we fasted and prayed for her to recover, she only got worse. We only felt peace when we prayed “thy will be done” and turned her over to the Lord’s care.

After she died, religion didn’t help they way you think it should. It didn’t feel the way I had been taught it would feel. I didn’t feel the Spirit comforting me. All I felt was pain and loss and sick to my stomach at the nightmare that was my reality.

That is how it felt at that time. And in those circumstances, I made a conscious decision to believe anyway. Now as I look back, I can see how the Lord was with us. I can feel how we were surrounded by the Spirit and angels were ministering to us daily. I read my writings from that time and feel the Spirit that was all through me at that time. But, I was unable to feel it then over the overwhelming pain I was experiencing.

I later heard Elder Scott, a modern day apostle who had lost 2 of his own children, say that trying to feel the spirit after great loss or grief is like trying to appreciate the delicate flavor of a grape after eating a jalapeƱo pepper. His analogy was perfect.

Five and a half years later, I see how much my life has been blessed and how my family and I have grown in ways we could not have without Camille’s death. I have seen people join the church and grow closer to God by reading about our experience. I may not like it, but there was a purpose in her passing that was within the Lord’s wisdom.

To this day, if ever I read or hear something that makes me doubt. I step away and choose to believe. Believing makes me happy. It gives me hope. It helps me survive.

I feel like losing my daughter was like me stepping out of the boat like Peter did to walk on the water. I have felt everyday since then has been a miracle of me walking on the figurative water. As long as I keep my eye focused on what I know (and that is that the Savior loves me and is guiding me home) I am okay. I dare not take my eye off of Him and be distracted by the storm around me. It is too bleak, too dark. I survive and thrive only by keeping my eye on the Savior. I choose to believe and He keeps me afloat.

I believe. 

To read more essays on this topic, visit my friend Laura Laurent's blog HERE and click on the tab "Why I Believe." You can even submit your own essay if you like.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Fog of TIme - An Update 5.5 years out

I just woke from a very vivid dream - a nightmare. In it I found Harrison floating in a pool and I pulled him out to do CPR and mouth to mouth just as I did on Camille. It was Harrison in my dream. At least that is what my brain told me, but now that I am awake with the images burning in my brain, it was really Camille. It wasn't my almost three year old little boy. It was my sweet nearly bald baby girl. Mercifully in this nightmare, she came too.

I have been thinking I wanted to do an "update" on where I am at 5.5 years out. And mostly I am doing really well. I feel like I am living a new chapter here in Dallas. I feel like enough pages have turned that I can appreciate fully the blessings that have come to my life from my tragedy. I can even feel thankful for those blessings and appreciate the necessity of the trial that produced them.

But, I still have nights like tonight. I still wake up to the reality that my worst nightmare is in fact my reality. I still miss her every day. The missing is not the same though. It is more distant. I can't remember her well enough anymore. It kills me to say that but it is just the truth. I don't remember the feel of her in my arms. It is hard to recall the feeling of presence.

Of course, right now, on the heels of that dream, she is closer. I remember right now. I feel as if I have just travel 5 years back into my past. I am tired and want to go back to sleep but I am scared to close my eyes and let my mind wander freely again. So I write to get the images out.

It was wonderful having my mom and dad visit last month for my birthday. But saying goodbye at the airport was so hard. Seeing them reminded me of all I left behind when we moved here. I didn't really appreciate the loss of living close to them when we moved because they had been living in Africa for a year and I was used to them being half a world away. And even when they returned, I was so used to a phone relationship that the loss didn't hit me.

But as I held my mother before she had to go get on the plane, it did hit. And I cried. I remembered how nice it was to be able to see them whenever I wanted and the joy of just having them in my presence brings me. In that moment I felt the love and wonderful feelings of all those I left in Las Vegas. I remembered and I mourned.

And so it goes with this whole grieving thing. Most of the time I am fine. I miss her but with a dull missing fogged over by years of time. But once in while, something slices through the fog of time and brings me right back to my early days of grief and I am left to mourn.