Sunday, April 18, 2021

Sunshine in my Soul

 This morning I walked into church just after the opening song had started up. I hate being late but sometimes mornings getting kids out the door don't go as smoothly as we would like. I immediately recognized the hymn and it brought a smile to my face. It was "There is Sunshine in my Soul." I don't really believe it was a coincidence that the music director choose that song for today, the day before Camille's birthday. To me it was just a little sign from Heaven, a wave hello if you will. 

Right after Camille died, I just didn't see how I was going to make it day after day. I was filled with so much sorrow and needed.... NEEDED some little bit of joy and light to break through the grief and pain and give me hope. So when we were choosing songs to sing at her funeral, I told everyone I couldn't do sad songs. I wouldn't be able to make it through if the music was going to tap into the bottomless pit of despair inside me. 

So we choose to sign one of the most uplifting and happy songs in our hymn book... "There is Sunshine in my Soul." Some may think it an odd choice but we found it fitting. Camille was a ray of sunlight in our lives. I couldn't sing for a long time after Camille died. I would just cry every time I tried. So the line about Jesus listening could hear the songs I could not sing spoke to me personally. And both Jonathan and I felt the 4th verse was a perfect embodiment of how we felt in our most humble, accepting the will of the Lord, moments. It is also how I feel today. 

There is Sunshine in my Soul

  1. There is sunshine in my soul today,
    More glorious and bright
    Than glows in any earthly sky,
    For Jesus is my light.
    • Refrain:
      Oh, there’s sunshine, blessed sunshine,
      When the peaceful, happy moments roll;
      When Jesus shows His smiling face,
      There is sunshine in my soul.
  2. There is music in my soul today,
    A carol to my King;
    And Jesus, listening, can hear
    The songs I cannot sing.
  3. There is springtime in my soul today,
    For, when the Lord is near,
    The dove of peace sings in my heart,
    The flow’rs of grace appear.
  4. There is gladness in my soul today,
    And hope and praise and love,
    For blessings which He gives me now,
    For joys laid up above.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Cami Kindness Week - 14th Birthday Coming Up.

 Every year this gets a little more awkward to post about. Every year I feel a little more alone in my celebration of Camille's life. I understand that. Life has a way of piling grief on grief and eventually the griefs further down the pile are forgotten or overshadowed by those more recent or closer to us. 

Yet, I continue to invite others to celebrate with us because I want to continue spreading goodness into this grief filled world. It is my hope that in this of all years, we can focus on being grateful for the time we have been privileged to enjoy with our loved ones in years gone by rather than aching for the time we have missed more recently. 

I have come to have a greater appreciation of the absolutely essential nature of opposition to our happiness. We truly cannot have true happiness without sorrow. We cannot have true joy without the aching of wanting and waiting. Food always tastes so much better after fasting. 

So this year, after a year of so much wanting and waiting, will you join me in taking a break from all that wanting and waiting and focus a bit on being grateful and paying that gratitude forward in kindness?

Happy birthday week my sweet girl. I hope you are busy helping others from your side of things while those who remember you are working to help others from our side.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Standing as A Witness

Integrity #5

I am an attorney. I have experience working with witnesses and preparing them to take the witness stand. So my perspective on "Standing as a witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places" has a bit of a different taste. Sometimes being a witness is scary. Often, the credibility of a witness will be an issue if they have not lived an honest life. Often there is an opposition waiting to tear a witness apart. But the job of witness is critical to bring about justice.

As a witness for God, I must share my testimony with others. I do this both verbally and in my actions. I must live an honest life and develop a reputation for being truthful. I try not to exaggerate or embellish my feelings or my stories. I want people to believe me when I share my experiences.

Witnesses also share their personal accounts, not the accounts of others. So if I want to be a witness, I need to be striving to have personal spiritual experiences of which I can witness. I need to always be deepening and widening my testimony by study, faith, prayer, and experimentation upon the Word of God. I need to be striving to live more close to the Spirit.

And I need to take every opportunity to share my experiences and testimony with others so that they may know He lives. He is our Father. He loves us. He loves us so much He sent His perfect Son to live among us to show us how to live and He let bad men torture and kill that Son. He let that perfect Son suffer for the sins and pains of all the rest of us so that it would be possible for us to return HOME to Him. This church is His Son's church. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ. He has restored His power on earth to make covenants that will be bound in Heaven through His prophets in His church. He restored this power to Joseph Smith and it continues today. We have a living prophet who leads and guides our church under the direction of the Savior. Of these things I testify in the name of my Savior and Redeemer.

Integrity #4

What does Integrity mean to me? I think of the integrity of a bridge. If a bridge has integrity it will stay strong and firm and do what it was built to do. People can pass over it with faith and confidence that it will be there to hold them up over the divide.

The Savior is our ultimate example of integrity. He came to the Earth and did what He was sent to do.  We can have faith in Him to hold us up and get us back to our Heavenly Father. We can feel safe stepping onto his supportive trusses and following His example as we walk the covenant path.

I want to be like the Savior. So if I want integrity, I need to do what I was meant to do. What was I meant to do? Learn, Grow, and Return Home. So I need to be working on doing that and I need to have Faith in the Savior and follow the Covenant path living my beliefs and trusting in the Saviors atoning power to make even one as flawed as I worthy to be in the presence of our Father once more.

I will do what I was made to do.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Improving my Integrity

Integrity #2

I took a self assessment and the way I can improve my integrity is to live my beliefs more fully in my home. I know how I need to be a better parent. I need to be less quick to raise my voice and more quick to get up and just do rather than ask another to do for me. I will be living with more integrity if I live according to that knowledge. I am working on it. It's gonna be a long process. I am not going to be perfect at it but I am looking to see progress.

My habit to form is to control my tone of voice to always be kind even if it needs to be firm.

Live the Standards in For the Strength of the Youth

Integrity #1

I live most of these anyway but the media one is a bit harder. I know when I live the standards in for the Strength of the Youth, my thoughts are cleaner. I have felt that this month. I feel closer to the Spirit and more able to focus on what is important.

Serve a Family Member

Good Works #5
I feel more connected to the family member I served. I feel a great love between us as our relationship is stronger and closer. Sometimes it is easy to take for granted the people in our family that we love and who love us but pointedly serving them has helped me have a more intentionally present connection with them.

Dear Evan Hansen

Knowledge #3

I was in NYC a couple weeks ago with my sister's in law and we saw the musical Dear Evan Hansen. While it did have some language in it, I loved the message so much. The theme of it was that every life matters and we all need to be heard and connected and loved. I loved the music and the acting was on point. It only had 9 cast members but they sang beautifully and made the production feel larger than it was.

As it relates to Article 13 - There was a lot of virtue in the play. The messages of being loved and feeling valued are some of the most important virtues out there. The music was lovely. The acting was of good report and praiseworthy. Overall I think this musical fits the bill of being in line with the 13th article of faith, despite the language.

Why Knowledge?

Knowledge #1

I often hear from my children complaints about the usefulness of the math skills they are learning. Why is this knowledge important? When will I ever use it?

Maybe some knowledge you gain you won't ever use. But gaining knowledge is a divine gift that makes us happy. It is good to learn. When we aren't learning we can get a feeling of discontent. It is important to use your mind and learn your whole life through.

I have found the knowledge I have gained gives me confidence, wisdom and more opportunities in life. I am a better wife and mother with every bit of knowledge I aquire.

Family Matters

Divine Nature #3
For the past few weeks I have been making efforts to improve my relationships with certain family members. Rather than share my observations directly with those family members, I share them here.

A big part of having smooth family relationships involves forgiveness. When you live with people you get to see all sides of them. Not everything they say or do is edited. You get the raw uncut version and there are lots of times when the people you live with can say or do things that are hurtful, rude, offensive or just downright annoying. That is a fact of life.

There is no changing that. So I have found that it is best to forgive and let go of these offenses as quickly as possible. I have become less bothered by little things over the years, which helps. But I also have to not think too deeply or to hard about really hurtful things people say or do. Instead, I have found that if I just point out that it is not acceptable to speak to me that way or say "that was hurtful" I can let the person know they need to do better without having to let the barb sink deep into the flesh of my soul and wound me too deeply.

It is easier to make those efforts to strengthen relationships when you forgive quickly and can serve a person in genuine love.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Guided By The Holy Ghost

Virtue #2

When we keep our covenants we are promised the blessing of the Gift of the Holy Ghost who can act as a guide and warning voice to us in our lives. The journaling part asks me to write an entry of a time I felt guided by the Holy Ghost. I have written that for another entry. I think for this one, I will write about a time I was specifically NOT guided.

I feel like I am fairly aware of my standing with the Lord on a daily basis. I am pretty good at sensing when I am close to Him and when I am further away. While this varies hour by hour to some degree, I don't stray too far from a general vicinity. I can feel it when I do something that offends the Spirit and it withdraws. I am so used to feeling the Spirit as my companion, even if only subtly in the background, that I am sensitive to it's withdrawl. It is a terrible feeling to me.

So I know that back in the summer of 2008 I was not too far from the Spirit to not hear Him warn me. I had felt His warning promptings about things in powerful ways not long before that fateful day in June. And yet THAT day - the day my daughter drowned. There was no warning voice. It wasn't that the Spirit withdrew from me. It was just a silence from the heavens.

I sometimes have dreams that later happen. I had a dream the night before that Camille drowned. But I totally forgot the dream that day. It didn't come into my consciousness until I saw her floating in the hot tub. In that moment the dream from the previous night came rushing back. The details were different but the drowning the same.

I guess I choose to share this because knowing that, while I wasn't living perfectly, I was close enough to Spirit to be warned, and feeling a total SILENCE and a blockage of my memory of dream until after I found Camille, well that helped me. It helped me to cope with the guilt because it helped me believe that this was all part of some greater plan I could not see.

I won't lie. There is still a lingering sense of ... I am not sure what to call it. It isn't exactly guilt and remorse isn't really the right word. All I know if that when I think of what I would say if I were to see Camille again the very first thing that comes to mind is "I'm so sorry." But not I'm sorry for what I did to you kind of sorry. It's the I'm sorry you had to go through that and that I wasn't there to save you or be with you or that I failed to sufficiently protect you. I'm sorry you didn't get to grow up and I didn't get to watch you grow up. I'm sorry we had to be seperated. I'm just ... sorry.

So knowing that I was worthy and NOT guided to do something that would have prevented that tragedy helps me cope. I hope always to live closely enough to the Holy Ghost to be warned and so I may know if I am unwarned about a trial, it must be one of those necessary for my development.

Comfort Others

Good Works #3

Some ways we can comfort others are to pray for them, reach out to them, express love, and listen. I have been on both ends of this. Perhaps the greatest comfort I have ever been given in a time of need has come in the form of prayers of others. When we pour our whole soul out to God on behalf of another, we are truly remembering Christ and taking His name on us. We are becoming like him.

And when others are praying like that for us, they feel a bit of what we feel and somehow that makes what we are feeling a little easier to bear. There is serious power in those kinds of prayers. I have felt them. Those are the kind of prayers that prompt the Lord's hand to manifest itself more plainly in the lives of those being prayed for. And nothing is more comforting than God's love and feeling His presence with you.

Life Plan

Individual Worth #4

Write a life plan - write your hopes and dreams for the future including education, home family, etc.

Ha! This is a very different task at 44 than it was at 14! But considering I still have about half of my life to live, it is still relevant.

Education: I really like school. I am not sure I will ever go to school again. I went to a lot of school. But I do like continuting to learn. I guess my goal then, it to keep learning. I want to further my spiritual and secular knowledge. I have been working a bit and that does help me learn. I also have taken on some new challenges in volunteer organizations that will help me keep learning. I guess I just want to be like my mom who always has pushed herself, and still does, to learn new things and do scary things becuase they help you grow. Never stop growing. That's the goal.

Family: My goal here is to do all in my power to ensure my children come unto and know Christ. There are lots of other things I would like from my family. I would love to have a kid who is a brilliant doctor or married to one. I would love grandchildren someday and good marriages for my kids and financial successes etc. But really those things are not MY goals. I have no control over those things. And in the end the only thing that REALLY matters to me is that they Come unto Christ. My goal as a mother is to point them to Him because I will not always be here but He will and He can help them through things I can not. And He is the only way we can return Home again. I can't control if they will turn to Him, but I can be a good arrow to point the way. That is my goal.

Things I want to accomplish in my life: I want to serve a mission with my spouse if possible. I want to be a productive contributing member of my ward and community be that through working or volunteering. I have a secret sometimes wish to write a historical proper romance novel. :) I want to raise all my children to be independent and self sufficient financially, spiritaully, and emotionally - but I still want them to love me enough to keep close. I'd like to be a fun Grandma someday that really knows her grandkids and makes them feel unconditionally and unreservedly loved. I want to become the kind of person that makes people feel loved as soon as they meet me.

That's it.

Building Others Up

Individual Worth #3

On Instagram and in person I did things to build others up. It was particualarly wonderful to reach out to lots of old friends and tell them things I love about them. I feel lots of great feelings about other people that I never get the opportunity to express. There just isn't enough time in the day. But it was nice to carve some out specifically for that purpose.

This has also helped me be a better mother. Often I can be like the monkey mom who is always picking at her kids to clean them up and make them better. That is part of mothering, but it should be a smaller part than the building them up part. And I find that building them has a better effect than pointing out weaknesses or flaws to improve.

Seeing my children and others in the favorable light of pointing out their great qualities reminds me to treat myself the same way and not get down on myself for my many flaws. Rather I can focus my energy into doing well at what I can. And when I fail, I can brush it off as a practice and try again.


Divine Nature #6 and #7

I have been praying each morning for help to be a peacemaker. It is crazy how something so simple really does help. It's like Moses holding up the brazen serpent. Sometimes we think a think is too small and it won't really help. But prayer is powerful - simple but powerful.

I am not going to say that I kept the peace for the last 2 weeks in our home. Let's be real. There have been arguments and yelling and some of that has included me. But praying for help to be a peacemaker and focused my energy more fully to that task. Combining that with the other attributes I have been praying to have for other personal progress experiences has exponentially helped me to be a better mom. Not a total makeover, just subtle improvements that I notice.

Our home feels more like heaven when it is filled with peace. Our Father is a God of Peace. I feel Him most in times when my soul feels peace. Or perhaps it is He that brings the Peace. I aspire to be like Him in that. To be a bringer of Peace.

Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the Peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God"

When we are peacemakers we are showing our divine ancestry. Thus we are called the children of God because we are being like our Father, the King of Peace, and his Son, the Prince of Peace. It is in all of us to bring peace. Sometimes that is as simple as holding our tongue or changing the subject. There are very few things worth fighting over. Most of our daily greivances are not on that list.

The Sacrament

Dinne Nature #4

For the past couple of weeks I have been focusing on keeping my baptismal covenants and really pondering them during the sacrament on Sundays. I will admit that staying focused during the whole sacrament blessing and passing time is a struggle for me. There have been times when it has been easier to focus my mind completely. But those times have been polar for me. I find in times of great trial or great joy it is easier for me to wholey focus.

But I don't think the Lord expects us to live always in polar times. He knows we will live great periods of our lives in valleys in the middle. I think this is WHY we are asked to focus once a week on these covenants. This is a time of practice and training. It is okay if we aren't perfect at focusing. It is only important that we try and keep trying.

When we lose focus and our grocery list pops in our head or a family member says something to us etc. We must refocus again. We just keep working at it. And as we do so we will have moments, even if brief and mild, when we feel the depth of the covenants we are renewing and have a glimpse of understanding given to us of what and who exactly was sacrificed so that we could have hope in this life and Eternal life in the world to come.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Sexual Purity

Virtue #1

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints covenant with God that they will refrain from sexual relations outside of the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman. That is one of the Lord's commandments. I will not go into a deep public dive on this subject. I don't feel inclined to be very public about a subject that is so personal.

This much I will share. I know from personal experience that keeping this commandment allows me to feel closer to my Father in Heaven and have his Spirit more abundantly in my life. I feel accepted and nutured by Him. Not keeping this commandment, causes a withdrawl of the Spirit and a spiritual regression of such magnitude it takes significant time and repentence to return to the spiritual place you started from. It is not a good feeling to have the Spirit withdraw from you after living years of having it as your constant companion.

Procreative acts and powers are sacred and ought to be treated as such in our thoughts, words and deeds. Whatever my personal beliefs or desires may be, I choose to live the covenants I have made with the Lord to the best of my ability. I encourage others to do the same.

That being said, I hold no judgement of those who make choices different from mine. Each of us must struggle to do our best according to the knowledge and light we are given in this life. I will not be the judge of anyone else.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Holy Ghost

Choice and Accountablity #5

Throughout my life, I have countless times prayed for direction as I make decisions. Sometimes, I must move forward with the choice I have mentally worked out will be best. Other times, I have been given clear direction about which way I should go from the Lord via the Holy Ghost. Many times, I have felt a nudging or a gentle stillness that sat more fully with me in thinking on one course of action over another. And then there have been times when every action and option feels wrong. In those times, I have learned to wait.

Perhaps it will be best if I just share an example of being led by the Spirit in a decision being made.

A couple of years ago I was leading the children's organization for my congregation (ward.) We sponsered a cub scout pack and had joined with another ward several years earlier to increase the number of boys in the program and split the work between the wards. Over the years our wards had grown in size and there were lots of boys in the scout program. There were still a few age groups with only 2-4 boys from each ward but most had at least 4-5.

Basically, we could have run the program combined or seperate sucessfully. We had stayed joined for a number of factors that were all great reasons including how much we loved having the boys get to know the kids their age from other wards so that they would know each other when they went to middle and high school together.

But the schools made a change in their start and end times and it left our two wards wanting to hold the scout den meetings at different times. I felt pretty strongly that the time the other ward wanted to meet would not be great for the families in my ward. But I also really appreciated the benefits of being combined.

I talked to the president of the other ward's children's group at length. She also felt strongly about when they had decided to meet. I studied out all the factors in my mind. I prayed about it. I still hadn't come to a clear answer.

Then I met with my presidency (2 counselors and a secretary.) We discussed all I had been mulling over and the my discussions with the other president. As we talked through the issue, it was as if a golden thread of peace and direction wove into our discussion and led us all to feel pulled into separating the two wards into separate dens. This peace settled on us so profoundly that I had no hesiation in calling the other president and telling her we had finally received our answer.

There were benefits that came from that decision. There were also some things lost. But in the end I know that spliting was right.

Oh that all decisions had answers that became so clear...


Choice and Accountability #4

The times in my life that I have most desperately needed to repent, I have gone back to remembering that it isn't some complicated thing. Repentance is change. But, change is rarely ever an easy thing. It is hard if it is forces upon us when our spirit is unwilling and it is sometimes even harder when our spirit is willing but our flesh is so darn weak.

I find that to really change ourselves, we need something more than the idea and knowledge of what we should do or be. We need help. Sometimes, we can find a motivating factor like fear or guilt or love is enough. Maybe we love our parents enough to change to be more the person they raised us to be. Or maybe we are scared enough of getting in another accident to transform our driving habits. Maybe we have enough guilt over watching some dumb show that wastes our time to stop.

But, often we need something more. Often we need the Savior's help to change. Certainly to fundamentally change our nature, we need the Savior. He is the one who can change the metaphorical water that we are into wine fit for a king. I have felt His changing power work in me. I have felt it in BIG ways that fundamentally change me. More frequently, I have felt it in the purification of the Spirit and the filling of my soul with love for all mankind and a desire to be all that He would have me be and show His love for others everyday in every way.

If only that feeling could last my whole life time. But we do not live in that kind of world. In our world, things always change. And those pure moments of transcendence degrade once more into chaos and it is our job as humans to work to change once more.

We must keep showering. The clean feeling after a shower only lasts so long before change happens and we are dirty and stinky once more. And so, into the shower we must go once more. This life is a perpetual cycle of change.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Divine Qualities of a Daughter of God

Divine Nature #1

As part of my uplifting others goal, I sent messages to a bunch of people on instagram yesterday. In one I noted how I could see the best attributes of the person's parents combined beautifully in her. Today I was reading the assigned scriptures and listing the divine attributes mentioned of a daughter of God. Each of us has seeds of divinity with in us. However it is up to us to discover these spiritual gifts and develop them and strive to develop those which do not come as easily to us.

One attribute that was mentioned in pretty much every selection of scriptures was charity. Faith was another big one too. I particularly liked reading 2 Peter 1 verses 4-7: " these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escapted the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity."

I loved this because it was like a stepping stone path. We can add these divine qualities to our natures by diligence. And it seems all these culminate in charity. I think charity involves so many other divine attributes like faith and virtue and kindness and humility. It is my greatest desire to be the kind of person who exudes charity. Maybe if I work on these other attributes it will better help me get there.

I do feel I have a pretty charitable heart, but I don't think I am very good at letting it shine out of me. I am gonna try to work on that. Smiling more and letting the love I feel for people shine out. Perhaps that will help me further develop this most precious divine attribute.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

He Knows Me

Individual Worth #1

In this personal progress experience I read several scripture passages where the Lord tells prophets that he knew them before they were born or where He calls them by name. He tells them they were forordained to do the work on the Earth that they are doing. (Psalms 8: 4-6; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Abraham 3:22-23; Doctrine and Covenants 18:10; Joesph Smith History 1:1-20.)

When we read the scriptures, it is most impactful if we can put ourselves into them. I like to think of myself as being in the place of the person writing the scripture. Surely, if the Lord knew Moses or Abraham or Joesph He also knows me. This is what these scriptures teach me.

But I also have had numerous experiences where I have felt that the Lord knew me specifically. He knows my joys and sorrows, my strengths and weaknesses. He knows what I need to be happy and to grow. He points me to things that will help me do that.

One example of this is my current project of doing Camille's Personal Progress. I wrote that I had felt in a sort of slump in my first post on Keep the Faith (which I wrote right after I decided to do Cami's Personal Progress but before I decided to journal all the journal entries on the blog.)

The next morning I dove head long into doing this Personal Progress thing. I wrote like 4 posts that day and completed nearly all my Faith experiences. I only have to share my testimony this Sunday to finish my Faith experiences. I have felt so uplifted and purpose filled. Doing this has completely taken me out of my slump. It has reminded me how important it is for me to journal and write. I have not been good about that the last 5 years. I have relied on Instagram to document my life. But I have missed journaling. I need to be better about that even when I am done with this current project.

I am grateful that the Lord knows me well enough to know what I need and that He gives me those gentle nudges to do that which will make me happy and fulfilled.


Faith #7

I have been paying a tithing of 10% of my income to the Lord for as long as I can remember. At certain times in my life this has been an easier thing for me to do. At other times, it has taken faith. One such time was when I was in law school. I moved to Washington D.C. with basically nothing. I had about $1500 when I graduated college and I spent most of that backpacking Eurpoe for a month. (Priorities right?)

So I took out loans to pay my first tuition and my dorms. My parents had supported me 100% through college but aside from paying my car insurance, I was esentially on my own financially. I was doing night school and looking for a job to help me pay for school so I wouldn't have to take out so many loans. I felt led to go to school at Georgetown and had faith that the Lord would make a way for me to pay for it.

My brother Morgan though I was crazy. He and my sister Lesli had driven the car my parents were letting me use out across the country to pick me up after I got back from Europe in NYC and drive me down to D.C.  We were walking the streets of D.C. and he asked me why I was coming to school out here when I could have gone to University of Utah on a scholarship.

"You are gonna get married and have all this debt." He wasn't sure I would ever even practice. I told him I was gonna get a job to pay for it. He pointed out that as a public relations major, there was no way I was gonna get a job making enough money to pay for Georgetown tuition plus living in one of the most expensive cities in America.

After trying to justify my decision and him arguing with each of my points, I finally said, "listen, I know the Lord wants me out here. So He is going to make a way for me to pay for this."

He responded, "Okay, but you do understand that is the only reason you have given me that makes any sense right?"

Sometimes the Lord asks things of us that don't seem "reasonable." Anyway, I signed on with a temp agency while I looked for a job. The first gig I was assigned to was editor of a newsletter for a lobbyist. He liked my work. After a couple of weeks he offered me the job full time. He had also done Georgetown Law as a night student. He told me he didn't want me "eating Ramen" every night to get by and then offered me a salary twice what all my colleges at other publications were making. $36,000 a year. That was $1,000 more than my brother was making at his accounting job. :) I enjoyed calling to tell him my miraculous good news.

When I got home after that, I wrote out a budget. Before I started I figured I needed at least $100 a month to live. My housing and books and tuition was all paid in advance with loans. I wanted to save enough to cover my tuition for the next semester and only take out the subsidized Stafford loans that didn't accrue interest.

I started forming my budget and figured out how much I would need to put away each month to save for tuition. I factored in my tithing and a generous fast offering given my budget. After I deducted all my set expenses from my monthly net income, I was left with exactly $100 to spend on food and transportation. It was a sign to me. The Lord does provide, sometimes exactly what we need.

I did get married during law school and only worked for a year after school before I had Sabrina and quit. I ended up coming out of law school with only subsidized Stafford loans. (I think it was about $36,000 of debt. Tuition at that time was about $25,000 per year.) I was able to make enough money practicing law to pay off all my debt in 6 months, before it accrued any interest.

I attribute this financial miracle to faith, hard work, and paying a full tithe.

Jonathan and I have been through a few financially difficult times and times of unemployment. Even when we have lost everything, the Lord has always helped us find ways to regroup, find employment, or send helping hands to see us through. These are blessings of an honest tithe.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Promises at Baptism - Atonement

Faith #4 and #5

I take my baptismal covenants seriously. Probably because I have felt keenly the cleansing power of the Atonement in my life. I know what it feels like to suffer the pains of godly sorrow for your sins. It is not pleasant. Sure we may grow comfortable here on this Earth living in and among sin without much thought. But that is like being comfortable being dirty in a dirty place surrounded by dirty people. We grow used to what is around us and no longer see the dirt.

But I know that one day we will all be brought before the bar of God to be judged and in the presence of His holy cleanliness, the "dirt" from our sins will be all to apparent and painful to us. I have had an experience where I felt that pain and been shown the "dirt" from my sins. It was unbearably awful. Like I can't imagine having to live with that awareness and pain. I felt so bad, I felt unworthy to even pray.

Yet in the depths of that despair, I remembered how the Lord had commanded us to pray. He wanted us to turn to Him when we felt like that. I realized that it was Satan that didn't want me to pray. So I gathered all my strength and uttered a very simple, direct prayer. "Lord, please forgive me." The words were few but the feeling was deep and powerful and pleading.

In an instant, all those painful, uncomfortable, sorrowful feelings were wiped away and I was filled with joy and forgiveness and light. It was miraculous beyond anything words could adequately describe. I KNEW the Lord had forgiven me and I didn't need to worry about my past sins any longer.

I felt such gratitude to the Savior for bearing the weight of those sins and for suffering the punishment for them. I felt purchased. From that moment at the age of 14 on, I have not considered my life my own. For, I could not have lived under a consciousness of my guilt. My life was purchased almost 2000 years previously in the Garden of Gethsemene.

This is what I think of when I take the sacrament each Sunday now. I think of the debt He paid for me and thank Him for it by repenting anew and striving to recommit myself to doing my best to do His will and His work on this Earth for the remainder of my days. I take His name on me and promise to keep His commandments and I REMEMBER Him.

A Faith Strengthening Experience

Faith #3

I am glad to have the push to journal this experience which strengthened my faith.

In the spring of 2018, my family made the decision to move to San Antonio, Texas. My husband, after being unemployed for a year, got a job in San Antonio and had been commuting the 4-5 hour drive down from Flower Mound for a year. It looked like he liked the job and would be at it long term so we decided it was best to uproot the family to move down.

However, we had a big beautiful home in Flower Mound and lots of dear friends and a fantastic church congregation. None of us were eager to leave and we weren't sure the market would allow us to sell our home without us losing money on it. So, we decided to set a price on the home that would get us out breaking even and if we could sell for that amount, we would move. We hired a realtor, got the house prepped and put it on the market.

The house got an offer within a couple of weeks that was below our asking price but above the break even point we had set. We accepted the offer and started searching more diligently for a home in San Antonio. We looked at lots of home but couldn't find one we liked that met our needs.

A week or so into the process, our buyers backed out. We were disappointed, but had been having lots of traffic before we got that offer so we figured we would get another offer soon. We were wrong. Once we put our home back on the market, it was like crickets. Very few showings and none of them making offers.

Months passed. All this time, we are emotionally in limbo. We kept wondering if we would move or not. We couldn't make firm plans one way or another because we simply didn't know what the future held for us. I kept praying to enjoy the time we had there for as long as we had it and that if the Lord wanted us to move that He would help us find a buyer that could pay at least our break even price.

June came around and in the middle of June we decided to go down to San Antonio to spend a week with Jonathan. Just before we left, we got an offer on the house. Now we had recieved a couple of REALLY low ball offers that we rejected without hesitation in the weeks just previous to this but this offer, while lower than our break even price point, was worth considering.

The offer was within $10,000 of our break even price. We went back and forth with them trying to negotiate a price that would get us up to our break even point. The whole drive down to San Antonio, I was talking back and forth to my realtor and Jonathan about negotiations. By that evening it came down to a $3000 gap between what they were offering and our break even price.

Our realtor told us it was not very likely we would get a better offer since our house had been on the market so many months. But it was up to us. Jonathan was adamant that we stick to our guns and demand the break even price - which they had repeatedly refused to go to and had told us this offer was the best and final. He wanted to make sure they really wanted the house and weren't going to back out like the other offer we accepted. He felt, if they REALLY wanted the house, they shouldn't mind going up the $3000. He said he was willing to commute another year if needed.

So we said no to the offer. As we cleaned Jonathan's house in San Antonio that night I kept wondering if we were crazy. Was it really worth $3000 to have all this uncertainty and stress? Finally I told Jon, we need to pray about this. I mean we had been prayful but hadn't specifically knelt together to ask the Lord. So we paused in our cleaning and closed the bedroom door and knelt in prayer to ask the Lord if we should just accept the offer. Both of us got a fairly clear answer to just wait.

So we went forward, trusting our fate into the hands of the Lord. About 2 hours later, our realtor texted us to say the buyers were willing to go up the extra $3000. We texted back to tell her we were good with that. A minute later, she called us. She said she had just gotten a call from another interested party who had been through the house previously and wanted to see if we had any action on it. She had not yet responded to the buyers we had been negotiating with all day. It was after 10 pm at this point.

So we had her ask the second party if they wanted to put in an offer. They went to see the house again the next morning at 7 am and made an offer at 8 am for well above our break even price. We went back to the buyers we had been negotiating with all the previous day and let them know. They came back with an offer $10,000 higher than our break even price and that was more attractive as far as closing date and other things. We also had another party request a showing. We accepted the offer of the party we had long negotiated with and the party who requested a showing ended up putting in a full price back up offer the next day.

Meanwhile, that morning in San Antonio, we went to look at a few houses withour realtor down there. We finally found one that met our needs (after not finding one in a year of looking) and were able to make an offer that night which was accepted the next morning.

These 48 hours were miraculous to me. In all those months before, I was holding onto faith. I didn't know if the Lord would really have us move. The future is never certain. All I could do was try to Keep the Faith and believe and trust in the Lord and the answers to pray we felt He was giving us. I am so glad we followed the promptings we felt. More important than the extra money we got by doing so, we now have a more firm testimony that we are supposed to be here in San Antonio and in this house. That has been helpful as we have struggled to feel at home here and have sorely missed our friends, family, and life in Flower Mound. And this experience strengthened my faith that the Lord answers our prayers and that He will be there for us when we trust in Him.


Faith #2

Motherhood is the most challenging, rewarding, and holiest of callings. We partner with God to create a person in our bodies and then suffer the agony of our own personal Gethsemene's of childbirth to bring a child into the world through the sheding of blood sweat and tears. And that is the easy part. Once our children are here, they have challenges that we must help them through. They will try our patience like no one else can. But they will also love us and we them in a bond unlike any other.

It is difficult to always live close enough to the Spirit to really take full advantage of the partnership with the divine in this process of parenting. When you are late for school or church or an activity and your child is being defiant or just distracted it is hard to keep your cool and be Christlike. We as mother's mess up - all the time.

So I guess grace is a big part of mothering for me. Giving grace to your children as they are learning and having patience with them while they learn is hard but so important. And allowing grace for yourself as you mess up and try again is equally important.

Really, I just want to so entangle myself with the Savior that I can draw on the power and grace of His atonement to enable me to be the kind of mother I want to be and help me to set the tone in our home even when others in our home are grumpy or sassy or angry. If I can be strong and stay above all that, perhaps the rest of them will come up to join me in the peace above the chaos of life.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Keep the Faith

Faith #1

I have been in a slump lately. Not a funk. Nothing that drastic. Just a little slump. Maybe it is the let down after having family in town and celebrating Camille's 12th birthday, Harrison's baptism, and Easter all one day after another last weekend.

In any case, I have been feeling lazy and unmotivated. But today I was working with some young women from church on our Personal Progress studying areas of the gospel and I began reading up on Faith. This was after I attended the baptism of a friend yesterday. There a man told a story of President Hinkley giving him one piece of advice for what to do after his mission. President Hinkley told him "Keep the Faith." That is a phrase my grandfather used frequently. He would sign his letter off with Keep the Faith. 

So as I read in the scriptures today about faith in Alma 32, and I read about the need to continually nourish the seed of faith in order to have it produce that miraculous fruit, I thought -- "This is how I Keep the Faith."

I have faith. I have a solid, and sure testimony of the Savior and our Heavenly Father and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. But I am not alway as good about nourishing this faith as I should be. I need to seek more earnestly in my prayers and scripture study. I need to drink more deeply from the living waters. That is how I Keep the Faith.

I don't often think of my Grandfather. But I can feel him near me now. He's probably the one giving the rousing sermon to my soul on this matter. And so I commit to dig a little deeper and be more consistent in my relationship with God - that my seed may be nourished - that I can partake of the fruit - that I can Keep the Faith.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Personal Progress

Last weekend when my sister Lesli was in town with her family for their Spring Break, Camille's birthday and Harrison's baptism, she gave me an idea. Camille would have just turned 12. Her peers all started the youth program at our church this year in January. As part of that they are encouraged to start a Personal Progress program that guides them through experiences and goals to help them learn and grow. It is an intensive program requiring 46 experiences, many of which take several weeks to accomplish, and 8 projects that each must take at least 10 hours. Those who accomplish this recieve a medallion.

This year I was put in charge of this program in my congregation. This is the last year of the program and next year the church will start a whole new program for all the youth. So I have been meeting with and encouraging the youth - even those who just entered the program - to work towards completing the program this year and get their medallion. I have told them they can do it in a year. It won't be easy but it is possible.

So in honor of Camille, this year I am going to do my best to complete the Personal Progress Program in her behalf. I am starting late here. Its almost May so I only have 8 months. But I believe I can do it. There is a lot of journaling required for the program. I have decided to do my journaling here. So if you want you can follow along with me. At the very least it will keep a record of this journey for me and I will make book of it that will be one of my 10 hour projects.

Happy birthday Cami dear! This is for you!
All 4 of my little Young Women

Friday, June 15, 2018

10 years

10 years. A decade. That is more than half my marriage. 10 years ago was Father's Day. It was also the day we turned off Camille's machines and let her go home to her Father. I mostly just like to pretend this day doesn't exist each year. Like if I could take a sharpie to the calendar I would just knock June 13 and 15 off the calendar. I'd prefer these days didn't exist. But year 10 has been unexpectedly emotional in ways no other year has. Her birthday was so weepy for me. This day I am just reflective on the accomplishment it has been to live the last 10 years with any degree of normalcy.

I have to say that second to the healing power of the Atonement, the greatest help to me in getting through the last 10 years has been the unfailing, unwavering, unconditional love of my husband Jonathan Waite. This Father's Day I honor him as a father because not only is he great with his kids but he has done the greatest service for them by loving me, building me up, and walking with me these last 10 years. 

Losing a child, especially in an accidental manner like we did, can reek havoc on a marriage. And while our marriage is not perfect and we still work through things, losing Camille has never been a wedge between us. There has never been any blame or any of that. We may not experience grief the same but we allow space for each others grief in our relationship. I am endlessly thankful for that space and understanding from Jonathan.

And to my angel girl--well on this day I guess I will just say 10 down maybe 40-50 more to go. Maybe that sounds awful. But to me it sounds hopeful. Kinda like when I am running and I tell myself I am 1/5 of the way done. Doesn't mean I have to hate every minute of the rest of the 4/5s but I am always looking forward to the finish line. And in the expanse of grief as a young bereaved mother - being 1/5 of the way done feels like I am finally getting somewhere.

So here is to the 10 year mark.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

On the Eve of Your 11th Birthday Angel Girl

Dear Camille,

Tomorrow is your birthday. Eleven years ago tomorrow I had my visiting teacher drop me off at the hospital to end a very painful pregnancy and begin the sweet experience of being your mother. You lived your short life to the fullest, always wanting to be around and interact with people. You demanded the attention you needed as a 4th daughter and I thank you for that. I can't tell you what a joy it was to spend those 14 months mothering you here on this earth.

As my 10th year of missing you draws to an end, I find myself feeling at more of loss on how to celebrate your birthday. Every other year I have invited others to join me in celebrating your life with random acts of kindness. Somehow this year I don't want to be so public in my celebration. I am touched when people remember you and celebrate your life on their own. I love to hear how they do. But I don't want to ask them to anymore.

Somehow this feels like entering a new phase of grief, this 10 year mark we are approaching. It is easier in so many ways. In some ways it feels like another person who lived that nightmare of losing you. I am no longer a young mother with babies at home all day. I don't change diapers or get spit up on anymore. I am in a new phase of motherhood.

And yet in some ways, this new phase just is hard. It is lonely. I am the only person who still thinks of you everyday. And while most of the time it is so much easier having the last 10 years behind me, there are moments... There are moments when I can feel your little legs straddling my hip and hear your cry and see your face in my mind and the wave hits me out of no where like a tsunami - so unexpected and totally devastates me all over again. Yes, 10 has been a rough year.

I miss you.

Tomorrow, I will dry my eyes and I will celebrate your life. I will eat cupcakes and we will heat the pool and go swimming because I know you would have loved that. I will do acts of kindness in your honor and hopefully your siblings can be kind to each other and to me and I will be kind to them regardless. I will think of you as I have every day the last 11 years. And I will continue to carry your heart in my heart.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
E.E. Cummings

I Love You - Mama