Monday, June 30, 2008

Help Out a Fellow Writer

I'm all for helping out an aspiring writer, and when that writer happens to be a friend, well, so much the better!

My friend Val just had her very first piece published by the Associated Content website, which allows writers of all ilk to present their wares. The great thing about this site is you can be paid for every thousand people who read it. My dear friend has had a lot of troubles lately, and was even betrayed by a woman who she felt was her writing mentor. Now, however, she's feeling ultra-inspired to write again.

Here's the link to her story: Cloudy Skies Over St. Paul. It's a sweet read, very short, and can only leave you feeling hopeful.

This woman has inspired me. She was the only other Mormon on FaithWriters when I joined, and truly paved the way for me to feel comfortable there. When she started her own blog, The Silver Lining, I began to think about beginning one of my own.

Now she's inspired me to try my own hand at Associated Content. This woman, if you ever get a chance to read her blog, will truly inspire you as well. She has an amazing conversion story and the most remarkable faith. Though we've never met in person, she is one of my heroes.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Inspirations June 29, 2008

I'm sorry to say until this past year I had no idea the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nicknamed the Mormon Church, is the only (to my knowledge) Christian sect that believes we existed before we came to this earth. There are little evidences to this in the Bible, but so much scripture that possibly taught us more about our pre-earth life has been lost by the choices of mankind. We had a chance to learn, to grow and develop just as we have that same opportunity here and now.

I think this is one of the reasons so many who lack this simple knowledge of our real beginnings feel so lost. Why would Heavenly Father place one spirit in a home with loving parents, enough money, and every opportunity afforded, and then place another spirit in the home of an abusive mother, no father, and so far below the poverty level they spend most of their growing up years being homeless? Why is it some people seem to have every bad thing possible happen to them, while others go their entire lives with practically everything handed over?

What is the rhyme or reason for these decisions? Why would a loving Heavenly Father be so casual about His own children? Where is the sense behind allowing us all the chance to choose our own way here on earth, but not being given the choice of where to start out?

For those of you who are members of the Latter-day Saint Church, you may now understand my confusion about the rest of the world's view on our purpose here in life as compared to ours.

I could (and have) written several times on the Plan of Salvation, or the Plan of Happiness. It makes sense, not only to me but to millions of others out there, that we lived before we were born. We had an opportunity to learn and grow, to make choices about ourselves even before we came to earth. For those who would like a closer look on what we, as "Mormons" believe, you can read an article I wrote for teens: Where Did We Come From? If you'd like a closer look, feel free to visit the Plan of Salvation section at Instead of going into the details of where we came from, I'd like to take a moment to think about what it is we brought with us when we were born.

I have a passion for teens. I can't help myself, I feel it's so extraordinarily important for them to know what precious spirits they are, to know just how much they are loved, and that they can do great things. I have a passion for learning. There are few things in this world more exhilerating to me than discovering some new morsel of information I'd never known before. I have a passion for teaching and public speaking. While others find themselves shaking from head to toe, sweat pouring down their backs, and the words stumbling from trembling lips, I get a total and complete rush from the chance to share with others some of the knowledge my Heavenly Father has blessed me with.

Obviously I have a passion for writing. There is something remarkable to me when words begin flowing through my fingertips onto the computer screen, and every once in a while I know, without a doubt, that those words were not directly from me.

We all bring special gifts, intense passions, and jobs to accomplish from our lives before we came here to earth. We have been blessed with particular hardships (that's right, I said blessed) to help us grow and develop in this life so that we can accomplish these jobs, and become the extraordinary beings our Heavenly Father knows we can be.

Take some time out today to write down the things you're passionate about. Look for what gifts you possess, even if they seem miniscule. Pray about what your callings in this life are to be. And if you're not sure about the truth of anything I've said, but have a sincere desire to know, pray about that as well.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Most Magical Laundry Day Ever

After being a mom for more than a few years now, I have found it necessary to break up my laundry into several different days.

The boys laundry is done on Monday/Tuesday. The girls laundry is done on Wednesday. The rest of the laundry is (hopefully) done on Friday. I find this schedule keeps me from falling into extreme, fathomless pits of despair.

When I was "preparing" for my last baby, I kept saying Saturday would be the perfect day for her to come as all the laundry would be done. My husband would promptly tease me, saying he's perfectly capable of doing the laundry. In my head I know this is true, since his clothes always appeared crisp, clean and smelled garden fresh even before we were married.

I have three different laundry hampers in the house, one of which allows us to split the clothes into whites, lights, and darks. I have not seen all of those laundry hampers free of dirty socks, wrinkled pants, and sweaty shirts in years. Not that I'm complaining. I love that I have loads of family in this house and plenty for them to wear...and get dirty. This weekly barrage of clothes begging to be cleansed has become an integral part of my life.

This is why one Saturday morning I discovered a most miraculous occurrence. Hubby and I had been painting the kitchen, where our washer is located. Since we knew this marvelous instrument for the cause of cleanliness would be out of commission for a few days, I worked hard to get as much laundry done as was humanly possible the Saturday before. Because of this, all my laundry days were thrown off schedule (Moms around the world, groan with me). We got the kitchen done and my race to keep my children from running around the streets naked began.

At the end of the week I finished folding the last pair of shorts, shoved a final shirt in the cramped closet, and matched my last pair of socks. At one point I stood in my house when a magical moment occurred. The stars might have aligned. Angels should have been singing. It was a day to remember and have etched in the annals of time. For one brief, shining moment every single laundry hamper was empty.

And then the kids woke up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chopped My Hair Off

Don't be deceived by the picture next to this. My hair was recently chopped to just below my chin. I was given a very special gift - the gift of fast growing hair. Coupled with a chemically-induced-natural-curl (my way of saying I got a perm at 16 and it never went away, ha ha), and a glowing red hue, I have been the envy of many a woman...

Maybe not. But in my head it's the one thing that makes me feel insanely good regarding one aspect about the way I look.

Several years ago I was desperate for a change completely under my control (spending several years watching your body being distorted by baby after baby can do that to a person). My hair had reached a significantly long length by that time, but I figured I should let it grow a bit longer.

I looked up Locks of Love, as I'd heard of their program many times before. Back then you needed at least 12 inches of hair to donate. By the time I couldn't stand hair everywhere I turned I was able to cut off 14 inches. Can you imagine cutting that much hair off of your head? Now the minimum length is 10 inches.

I felt sorry for the poor woman who had to cut off all my hair the first time around, namely, my mother-in-law. It was a bit traumatic for her. We bundled it into a ponytail, stuffed it into a plastic bag, and later on I mailed it off.

Since then I've donated my hair three more times. Like I said, the stuff grows fast. I don't do it so I can tell people how cool I am that I'm doing it. I figure Heavenly Father granted me a head of fast-growing hair, and the least I can do it find a good use for it. Helping to provide a head of hair for a little girl who's dealing with cancer is the least I can do. Believe it or not, it can take six to ten ponytails to make a wig. So the more hair they receive, the better.

I'm excited to say my oldest is now growing her hair out with the same idea. It's exciting to me to see my example in this one, seemingly small, area is having a good effect on her own perceptions.

I was also excited to see the local salon, and by Salon I mean Great Clips, will give a free haircut to anyone donating their hair to this cause.

So, if you've got some seriously long hair that you're really thinking of getting rid of, think hard about donating it to an amazing cause: children.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I've Never Been So Excited to See Three Yellow Belts!

Earlier this year I prayed so hard about something I could get my older kids involved in, something to help them all feel better about themselves and feel good about progessing and maybe even excelling in.

I was surprised at the answer, and yet excited at the same time: Self-defense Karate.

All three had indicated they might like to take it, but I'd always cringed at the cost. This time I knew we'd have the money (oh baby, it was tight...but we did it) because it was an answer to prayer.

So I signed them up! I was doubly excited about this idea. Not only would it be a great way to up their self-images, but there was the added bonus of helping them know how to protect themselves in this rather scary world.

It was remarkable how well they did. Do I sound surprised??? Well, you'll have to forgive my doubt. The age of my boys would leave anyone doubting if they'd focus long enough to learn the moves, let alone pass the test. It felt like a long twelve weeks, but at last we came to testing night.

They took the kids two at a time to test. My daughter and older boy were paired together and went first. I was so impressed with how much they remembered! Of course my son watched his older sister (and made a lot of her mistakes, heh heh). At the same time they were testing two other kids and I couldn't help fluffing my maternal feathers and my own two kids retained a lot more than the other two did (for shame, Laurie).

My younger son went last with the oldest kid in the class... Watching the oldest kid's moves might have had a lot to do with it but he did AMAZING!

Tonight was graduation night. Neither of my boys wanted to try and continue until they found out yellow belts (if they made it) got to start sparring. Boys :) We really weren't sure what would happen until ~
Yellow belts all around!!!

What a proud Mama am I :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Inspirations June 22, 2008

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nicknamed the Mormon Church, we hold what's referred to as a 3 block meeting on Sunday. One block consists of meetings held for children (Primary), the youth (Young Men and Young Women), adult women (Relief Society), and adult men (Priesthood Meeting for Elders and High Priests). The second block is our Sunday School hour, where we are at liberty to participate in scripture study. The third block is our Sacrament Meeting, where we partake of the Sacrament and listen to talks given by members of the congregation on assigned topics.

There are some Sundays when a most unusual circumstance occurs: during these three blocks a theme can be found. For me, today was one of these days.

My calling, or job, in the Church is to teach the Young Women (girls age 12-18). I love this calling so much and dearly hope to remain in it for many years to come. There is something special about "my girls," as I have come to call them. Each of them has touched my heart something fierce.

Today's lesson was on 'Heritage.' In particular we discussed the traditions we pass along to our children, grandchildren, and so on. I watched the eyes of my girls as I asked the question, "What kind of ancestor do you want to be?" None of them had ever thought about it before.

Think about those who have gone before you. What sort of heritage have they left to you and your family? Are there stories passed on from generation to generation? A love of music shared with a great-great grandparent? Does your family have a special tradition you can trace back to a foreign land, or back several generations?

In Sunday School this theme continued, taking on a more spiritual nature. In the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, there are two major nations: the Nephites and the Lamanites. The Nephites consisted of those who belonged to the Lord's Church and desired to live righteously. The Lamanites either used to belong to the Lord's Church and knowingly turned away, or had no knowledge of the Church whatsoever.

Each of these people stemmed from two brothers who lived 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Not surprisingly, the two brothers were named Nephi and Laman. Laman was the elder of the two brothers, but gravitated to worldliness and wickedness. He did not believe in the ways of the Lord, and detested his younger brother. Nephi was a very righteous man, favored in the sight of the Lord. He hearkened to his father as well as the Lord, and was consequently placed above his elder brother, regardless of birthright.

The dealings between Laman and Nephi could fill books. It is only needful to say that because of the choices these men made, either for good or for evil, according to their perceptions and desires to know the truth, generations of people were either led in the ways of the Lord or in the ways of the world.

We never know exactly what this life will hand us. We may be blessed to have good parents, as Nephi tells us he had. Or we may be given parents whose choices, or the choices of those who have gone before, will lead them and possibly us on roads that will take us away from the Lord. Either way, we need to think now about what we want our children's children's children to know about us.

Was Great-Grandpa John known as a man who worked hard at everything he was asked? Did Great-great Grandma Jen let her children know they were loved beyond words? Did Grandma Ann teach her children and grandchildren about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, bearing her testimony every chance she got?

Think about that today. What sort of an ancestor do you want to be? What sort of heritage do you want to leave?


If you'd like to read about Nephi and his family go to 1 Nephi 1

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Trials of Being a Redhead

As a kid I hated being a redhead. Anyone who has ever been blessed with such a vibrant color of hair can attest to the taunts and teasing from schoolmates. I had always wanted to dye my hair the darkest shade of black possible, and might have even tried if I hadn't been scared off of the idea when reading Anne of Green Gables. The thought of my hair turning out a horrid shade of green still makes shivers run up and down my back.

Being a redhead has grown on me (get it? Grown on me?) over the years, but there are still three distinct things that drive me nuts.

First, try finding a decent color to wear when the shades that look best with your hair look awful with your skin tone (are all the guys groaning right about now?). My hair looks great with jewel tones, but my skin prefers pastels. I know. It's awful.

Second, the freckles. I had a gym teacher (this was back in the day when elementary schools still had gym teachers) who was covered from head to toe in freckles. Though it was mean of me to think it, I never wanted to be like her. Of course the only way to avoid all those freckles is to hide away from the sun at all possible times. Being a hermit isn't all bad. I tried it for a few years. Unfortunately it can get pretty lonely. Of course now my goal is to see all of my freckles meld into one giant freckle, making me look as though I have the most awesome tan ever!

The third problem, and the one which keeps my ultimate goal at bay, is that my skin burns in 0.2 seconds. In fact, I'm pretty sure I just have to look out the window and my skin reddens at the mere thought of what might happen if I dared to venture out.

I walked to pick up my kids from school today. I couldn't have been out for more than half an hour. Tonight I'm sporting a lovely shade of red all down my arms, my nose, my face, etc. It's simply not fun.

Ooo, great sunburn remedy. In sixth grade our school class went swimming one day. Being the brilliant young lady you all know and love, I forgot sunscreen. Later that night my skin was almost purple, it was so bad. So I sat myself down in front of an electric fan with a bottle of aloe vera in hand. For the next few hours I repeatedly applied the aloe vera and let the fan cool me down. I was the only kid in class the next day not sporting blisters. Just a thought.

Try to stay cool people! This summer could be a scorcher.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Night Spent in the ER

It's my first time, and that's saying a lot considering I've been a mother for over 10 years now. After watching my older son barely escape breaking just about every bone in his body, I thought it would have to happen sooner or later.

Fortunately we're still waiting for later.

Our ward (local church congregation) had just finished up a party where all my kids'd had a wonderful time. I thought for sure they'd all fall promptly into bed and be asleep before I could finish calling out, "G'night!" No sooner had I flipped on the computer, ready to have some "Mom" time, when a wrenching cry erupted from the boys' room. My older son comes out, head tilted up, his crying emitting an odd gurgling sound. That's when I noticed the blood oozing out of his nose and mouth.

I raced him into the kitchen, doing my best to keep any and all blood from trailing down to the floor, and piled a box of tissues on his face. Folks, I've never been so frightened in my life as we went through tissue after tissue with no indication the bleeding was going to stop. As we switched fresh tissues for drenched ones I noticed his nose, normally so petit, had begun to swell. It was at that moment I thought for certain he'd broken it.

Fortunately after a few more minutes the bleeding showed signs of slowing down. I managed to get someone to watch the kids, grabbed an ice pack to place on his nose, and drove him over to the church so we could tell my husband what a fun night we were about to have (please note the sarcasm). Sadly, I even had to stop and get some gas, as this was one trip I hadn't planned on. To the hospital we finally went, and soon enough he was checked in, the nurse had taken a look at his swollen nose, and he'd had that annoying blue bracelet placed on his wrist. We went to find a seat or two in the crowded waiting room, when my son discovered Spiderman 3 was playing on the T.V. Normally I wouldn't let him watch it as I feel he's still too young, but he was injured and there was nothing else to do. There was an added bonus - neither of us could understand a word because the movie was in Spanish.

We met all sorts of people there. Most everyone brought in children who were sick. I saw so many tiny babies who were having a hard time breathing or couldn't stop coughing. One couple's daughter, who was maybe a year or 18 months, had been diagnosed with pneumonia just two weeks before. Her antibiotics had ended only two days ago, and her breathing had only gotten worse. I could see her struggle for every breath.

My son and I met a nice kid who had a great time telling us about every time he's broken a bone or his friend broke a bone. He helped wile away a good 40 minutes of the two hours we spent in that waiting room.

Around 10:30 pm my son kept asking if we could just go home. You'd better believe I said no. There was no way I was going to drive all the way up to the children's hospital and not see some form of doctor. At last we were called into a room where guessed it....waited some more. I watched as the clock ticked away minute after minute. I watched as my son, who you normally can't get to sit still, began to slow down both in the rapidity of his questions as well as physically. At last he plopped down on the bed, his eyes barely able to stay open, and fell asleep. It was 11:25. At 11:35 the doctor came in (figures, right?).

I did my best to explain that my boys were playing Indiana Jones, and as Indie ran away from the bad guy he hit his nose really hard on the metal bed post (not Indiana's finest moment). We rolled the sleeping explorer onto his back where the doctor listened to his heart, checked his ears and mouth, and then tried looking up the nose. Indiana didn't notice much. He just didn't like being on his back (he's more of a stomach sleeper like his mama).

The doc basically told me there wasn't much to do at this point. An x-ray wouldn't tell us much. We really needed the swelling to go down, but so far as he could tell it didn't look as though the nose was broken (HUGE sigh of relief). I'm supposed to check it on Wednesday when the swelling has gone down more to see if it still looks all right. If I see any kind of curving of the bone I'm supposed to take him to an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat doc) to try and realign the bones before they completely set.

We got out of there around 12:30 in the morning and finally arrived back home at 1:00 a.m. He crashed for the night and I spent a few minutes trying to wind down before heading to bed myself.

My poor son now looks worse than he did that night. He's bruising all under his eye and along the bridge of his nose. The good news is it doesn't seem to be hurting him much.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Inspirations June 15, 2008 Father's Day

First and foremost I want to wish all those who are dedicated, righteous fathers, and any other man who has ever taken a child under his wing, a very Happy Father's Day.

I had a most extraordinary experience of speaking in Church today (having members of the congregation speak is a fairly common occurrence to those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). The topic was, of course, fathers. I wanted to share this talk with all of you, especially as I know my Heavenly Father guided my words.

One of my earliest memories of my father is of a night when I was
desperately sick. I don’t even recall how old I was. I simply remember the night
my door was opened, the bright light of the kitchen across the hall blinding me.
I was frightened for a moment, unsure of who the tall shadows were who boldly
walked into my room, each one looming at either side of my bed. It wasn’t until
the soft whisper of my father’s voice was heard that I became calm. I felt his
considerable hands press gently upon my fevered brow as he and a trusted friend
gave me a blessing.

Those hands have been a symbol of love, of gentleness, and of power from that day. I recall those hands gently lifting me up out of my bed on Sunday mornings, cradling me to his chest as he would rock me awake. Just like many other fathers, he worked an awful lot, and our time together was rare and precious. I loved to go on odd jobs with him, to watch those hands fixing a swamp cooler or a heater. Those hands showed me what it meant to serve my fellow men.

My father-in-law is another special man who knows what it means to use his hands in righteous works. Like my own father, most days you can find him in the home of a friend, family, or ward member who is in need of help. I can’t begin to tell you what it’s meant to watch as those hands, perhaps not so steady as the years have gone by, help to give healing to my sick children. Those hands also stand as a testament to what a good and righteous father can do for those he loves.

I recall the moment my husband took our daughter, so scrawny and gray and weird looking as she first came into this world, and with wonder in his eyes held her for the
first time. It was a miraculous moment for him, and for me as well. I remember the day our first son was born. With agony he laid his hands on his son’s head, followed by my father’s and my older brother’s, and together in a crowded hospital room, amid the sniffling and crying of doctors and nurses, they gave this precious boy a name and a blessing. My husband held this child only once that day.

Since that time two more rambunctious boys and a vivacious little girl have come to grace our home. I love to watch as each child embraces their father as he comes home from work, or takes his hand with their own, anxious to keep hold of him. I count myself as one of the most fortunate of women to have this remarkable man as the father of our children. Like both of our fathers, he is rarely able to be home as his life is spent in working to help those in need, either through his jobs or through his callings. I know my children are watching as those hands bless not only their lives, but others as well.

I believe it is in these precious moments we can witness a small portion of what it might be like to be a child of God. It is not the material gifts we present to our children, the movies we take them to, or how many times we all go to get a Slurpee. It is in the moments when the bond between children and their fathers are brought into focus.

There is a time in the life of Jesus Christ where my appreciation and love for our
Heavenly Father intensifies each time I think about it.

This beloved Son had never once sinned. Never. He could not understand what it meant to sin. Neither could he comprehend until the moment He walked into the Garden of Gethsemane what one little sin can do to a person. All at once the
realization of what He was being asked to do begins to settle upon His mind, and
He cried out, “Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”

Perhaps the Father’s perfect Son is now frightened by what He is being asked. We do not know. It is only in empathizing with our elder brother, in trying to imagine just a little of what agony the weight of sin had already placed upon Him in those short moments, that we can even begin to appreciate His next words: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

Up in a world of spirits stood a Father who must have been in agony himself. Have any of you thought even for a moment what watching this scene must have been like for Him? As He watched His perfect Son writhe in anguish, did He wish to call out, to bend to His Son’s wishes, to stop the pain? Was His hand stretched out, shaking, wishing He could do just that?

The Father would not stop what was happening, but He could give His Son some form of comfort. He sent an angel, perhaps one of Christ’s greatest friends, down to give Him what little support could be offered. Still, it wasn’t enough.

The time came when Christ would be asked to endure more than even He thought possible. Not only was the angel’s presence withdrawn, but the Father pulled His own Spirit and influence away as well. I cannot begin to imagine the shock this must have been to a Son who had never, in His entire life, gone without the influence of His Father. These two individuals had never known a moment like this before. How do you imagine the Father felt at that moment, knowing the intense distress He was causing His Son?

Yet what a joy it must have been for both when the Holy Spirit and influence of the Father was restored. Never does one appreciate the blessings in one’s life until those blessings have been taken away.

Surely this should have been enough. Hadn’t Christ just endured all that would be required? Could not the Father now take His Son up to Him, satisfied that all had been accomplished?

We all know it was not enough. Still the Father watched on as His Son was brutally beaten, mocked by those who simply could not comprehend, nailed to a cross, and hung. Surely the Father desired to send legions of angels to stop the cruelty, to at last allow His perfect Son to be at peace. Instead, the Father knew the mission was not complete. Once again He needed to take His influence away from His Son. Is it any wonder, after all that He had endured, Jesus the Christ yelled out in agony, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46.)

How the Father’s heart must have torn at those words. They were not a condemnation, but a desperate cry from a Son to His Father.

There is a moment I often ponder upon, as perhaps only a parent can. Christ has given up the ghost, and returned to the spirit world, where He is embraced by friends and family who have gone before. His body is no longer in pain. What do you think our Heavenly Father was thinking at that point? Was He grateful for the little time it took for the resurrection and ascension to calm His trembling hands, to wipe His tears, before finally being able to take His Son up into His arms and hold on tight? Was His voice choked as He patted His Son on the back and whispered, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”?

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has said, “[The Father] endured what He saw because it was the only way that a saving, vicarious payment could be made for the sins of all His other children, from Adam and Eve to the end of the world. I am eternally grateful for a perfect Father and His perfect Son, neither of whom shrank from the bitter cup nor forsook the rest of us who are imperfect, who fall short and stumble, who too often miss the mark.”

As we celebrate this Father’s Day, take some time to recognize what it is our Father sacrificed that day, but don’t stop there. If you have never realized it before, it is time to recognize it now. He allowed all of this to happen because He loves each and every one of us so very much. We are not perfect. We all have sinned. We will never be asked to go through what Christ went through. Yet the Father love us so much that He sacrificed His only perfect child so that we can all come back to live with Him someday.

What a remarkable Father.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Spiritual Nudges

I’ve been insanely upbeat this morning, which is quite a feat considering today is grocery shopping day. Unlike most of America I actually enjoy grocery shopping. I don’t even mind it when one of the kids tags along (but put them all together and I turn super-ornery).

In the middle of my excursion today I was overcome by a feeling of welcome expectation, of intense anticipation, as though something really good was happening either at that very moment to someone I love, or will happen very soon. The feeling was so powerful I had to stop in the middle of the cereal aisle (thankfully no one was directly behind me). Even now, several hours later, I’m still riding this spiritual peak.

As many of us know, everything in this world has it's opposite. Just as I am sometimes overcome with these wonderful sensations, I have also known times when feelings of dread and extreme sorrow overtake me so fully I have been brought to tears.

One of these times preceded the death of my precious mother-in-law, a woman who was so remarkable her influence is still felt so many years later. I regret not being able to know her for long. Another time hit me just before my father had appendicitis and was taken to the hospital. Fortunately everything in that event turned out well and he is still here blessing my life.

Other spiritual nudges I have noticed as I pack on the years have to do with a sense of being prepared for something. I have long ago stopped looking at the hardships in my life as being something bad. Rather I look on them as a chance to grow. As many of those in my life can attest to, once the trial is over we have a new outlook and a better knowledge of how God's hand is at play in our lives. They serve as a nudge to remind us to keep close to Him.

The last 18 months I felt myself being prepared for something. I found myself eager to expand my knowledge in various areas, but in particular I discovered a need to explore the life of Jesus Christ as well as the Book of Mormon. I helped launch the site to, writing for both Children and Teens, eventually staying on as a volunteer writer for Teens. I have tried to become more informed in various aspects of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nicknamed the Mormon Church, so that I can be a better teacher. As I have followed these spiritual nudges to the best of my abilities, I have found myself growing closer to my Heavenly Father, to be more ready to recognize and accept further light and knowlege, as well as new paths to take.

One of those paths was wholly unexpected, completely exciting, and one I'm not yet ready to talk about until things are settled.

The purpose of this post today? If you don't feel as though you have experienced a spiritual nudge in a while, perhaps it's time to kneel down and pray for the ability to recognize one when it hits.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'll Be A Terrible Empty-Nester

I informed my two boys today they're not allowed to move away from home. Ever. The elder of the two rolled his eyes and said, "But you moved away from home to have your family!" Well, I can't fault his logic.

My younger son is all for staying with Mommy forever. What a good boy he is.

Why the sudden need to never release my white-knuckled hold on my children? I took my oldest to school earlier today to go on a three day camp. It's her first ever. She was so excited, and I couldn't keep myself from holding some part of her. I'd grasp her hand, play with her hair, put an arm around her shoulder, tiedhershoelacestogethersoshe'dtripandhavetostayhome...whatever.

I began to recall all the other times I've had to "let go" a little over the years. The first time they started school, slept over at a friend's house, etc. Then my overactive imagination began to think of all the coming events that would rip my children from my needy, uh, protective arms. First dates will be a big one. I have this sneaking suspicion once they learn to drive I'll only see them at dinnertime. It'll be even worse once they get their first job.

The biggest, and most dreaded, event will be the day they leave for (gulp) college. Not only will they move out of my house, they'll take my money at the same time. My boys, and even my girls, may end up in foreign lands as they go on missions for our Church (missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go for two years), foreign lands like Brazil, Italy, or Southern California. Like my mother said at the sending off of her own boys, I instinctively know my heart will hurt.

Even though they'll eventually find fantastic (Mama-approved) people to marry, these unknowns will probably move my children away from me. At least they'll provide me with grandchildren.

For now I must content myself with delusions that I've placed at least one kid under verbal contract to never, ever leave my house.

Whether or not I still want him living with me in twenty years, well, I'll get back to you.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday Inspirations June 8, 2008

I made myself and my Heavenly Father a promise many years ago. My junior year of high school was turning out to be a bit like extreme torture, and I found it necessary to find ways of bringing the Holy Spirit more fully into my life. One of these efforts included how I spent the Sabbath Day. A common scene in many households on Sunday nights include frantic teenagers desperate to finish off those last homework assignments before school the next day. While it's certainly a worthy effort, I began to realize it doesn't do much to keep me in tune with the Lord.

One particular Sunday I knelt to pray with a specific purpose in mind. I was hoping to make a pact, or a covenant between myself and my Heavenly Father. If I did my best to get my homework done before the Sabbath, and didn't do any of it that day, I asked for my Heavenly Father to bless me in the hopes of not allowing my grades to suffer.

They never have.

I have long since graduated from high school, but that covenant remains between my Father and I. It has long since gone from a habit formed as a teen, and come to bless me in my everyday life. Only once have I been required to work a job where Sundays were a must. When it has been my choice, I have kept my word to my Father. Not even in my LDSBlogs job do I allow myself to write or post on Sunday, even if my work there is the hope of bringing souls to a more full knowledge of what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nicknamed the Mormon Church, is all about.

This blog is different. In one effect it's a form of journaling for me. I can put down thoughts and ideas, silly stories of my family, or other things I might not take the time to record elsewhere. My wish for my Sunday posts is not to be silly, or to post about anything and everything. The Sabbath should be a day for stretching our spiritual muscles, for actively looking for the things God wishes us to learn or to remember. I was given two special tasks to remember today.

First, it is important for us to bear our testimonies. I recently read an article by a woman who in no way considers the Latter-day Saint Church, the Mormons, to be Christians. She'd obviously made up a situation in which a friend was listening to the missionaries. This friend felt the promptings of the Spirit, but had fortunately come to visit where the writer was able to talk her out of what she might have felt.

The author's particular point of attack was against the Mormon Testimony. She claimed all we did was look a person straight in the eye and say the words, "I know" with fervor. In her mind, that's what a testimony was. She forgot one very important aspect to having a testimony: the witness of the Holy Spirit. When those who are members say the two words, "I know," it most often follow much fasting and prayer, and a witness from the Holy Spirit.

I myself had a witness to the truth of this Church. Though I've been a member since I was a child, I had to find out for myself if this was where God wanted me to be. If you'd like to read my conversion story feel free to visit Converted to the Mormon Church at 17. Since that day I promised to stand as a witness of God, and that means never being afraid to bear my testimony. I also know that the more I bear my testimony, the stronger it will become, and the less afraid I will be to give it.

The second thing impressed upon me today was given by a member of our ward, or local congregation. He challenged us to look for the hand of the Lord in our lives today. Not just today, but every day. Do you actively look for His works in your life, or do you stand still, eyes locked in one direction, waiting for signs and wonders? If we want to find the miracles the Lord has in mind for us, we need to be an active participant. We have to knock, we have to seek, and we have to listen to His promptings. We have to recognize that His answers will not always be our answers. When this happens we need to realize He knows so much more than we, and if He gives us answers we don't agree with, it's time to put our faith in Him to the test.

May the Lord bless and keep you safe this week.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Tooth Fairy and Other Tooth Related Stories

I'd say I have fair claim to the title, "Worst Tooth Fairy Ever." It's certainly not an honor I've worked hard to win. For example, I didn't mean to forget to put a dollar under my daughter's pillow the night she lost a tooth. And it was an awful shame when it happened twice more.

My oldest has lost a number of teeth over the years. Once she bit into a hot dog, and it came out the victor! Another time Daddy, a little tired of listening to the constant complaint of just how much her loose tooth hurt, made a fist and pretended he was going to knock it out. In an attempt to avoid the make believe show down, our daughter scooted to her right and made for the kitchen door. Unfortunately at the same time my husband's fist went to his left. It was like watching a movie in slow motion. Her laughing face made direct contact with his knuckles. Her hands gripped her mouth. His eyes widened in shock.

We all heard the plink, plink, plinkplinkplink of something dropping to the floor. It took a bit of searching, but sure enough, there was her tooth. Needless to say, she didn't complain much about the next loose tooth.

After years of not allowing anyone near her dangling teeth I couldn't help laughing when, recently, she claimed to be tired of the most recent culprit and announced she was going to pull it out herself. I stood in mocking silence, thinking to myself there was no way she was actually going to pull out her very own tooth. Imagine my total and complete surprise when she grabbed a tissue, reached into her mouth, and pulled it out bearing a happy little prize. She should have gotten a buck-fifty for that.

My older son has been losing teeth for several months now. The funny thing about his method is that he never realizes it's gone until after the fact. I've had to search under a messy bed for one, under the couch (almost just as messy) for another, he lost one at school and managed to find it amid glitter, discarded crayon wrappers, and other things I'd rather not think about. Twice his teeth have split from top to bottom (I swear, he brushes!).

Most recently his two top front teeth have become loose. Our family was having dinner at Grandma's house where he walked point blank into something and came out bleeding everywhere. A few days later tooth #1 came out. Yesterday his younger brother kicked him in the mouth (don't ask...I didn't) and managed to knock the other one so loose, it was hanging on by the nerve. Today Dad became the coolest ever because he took a tissue and popped the thing out (never mind all the teeth I've located in impossible places). This one was hollow. Seriously. I could hold it up to my eye and see his toothless face through the other side.

To say the least, the Tooth Fairy has been paying a lot of visits to our house, especially recently. My oldest likes to write her letters, and expects answers in teeny tiny handwriting. One morning she woke up really early and was so disappointed when the Tooth Fairy hadn't shown up. Being up, she decided to go watch cartoons in the living room. Apparently the Tooth Fairy had been running behind that night (or went to bed so late she completely forgot) and didn't get to our house until the wee early hours of the morning. Poor kid.

So here's hoping the Tooth Fairy is once again able to make the trek to our house tonight. Here's hoping she's stored up enough cash to help reinforce the idea that buying dicarded teeth is a good thing. Most of all let's hope she goes to bed at a decent time and with enough awareness to put the cash under his pillow so he can wake up happy.

Unlike his sister.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Eliminating My Allergies Part III: The NAET Treatments

I believe it's important to understand a bit about how your body reacts to allergens in order to understand what makes these treatments work.

Your entire body is filled with energy pathways, or meridians. These pathways aid in everything from thought processes to digestion. When an allergen is introduced a warning signal is sent throughout your body and the meridians put up a block. The only problem is, the energy in your body is still trying to flow. When it can't get through it's proper channels a buildup occurs. This buildup has to get out somehow, and that's when you get an allergic reaction.

These reactions can vary: fatigue, muscle aches, high blood pressure, skin rashes, and more. What needs to happen now is a way to help your body stop thinking of something that should be harmless, like eating a tomato, as a danger. Sort of like rebooting your system.

The actual NAET treatment is simple and quick. A small glass vial (bottle) of water infused with the electromagnetic force of the allergen is placed in the right hand. Using a process of acupressure, the doctor opens up the energy pathways, helping to rewrite your body's reaction to what you're being treated for. The actual process takes less than five minutes, but the session doesn't end there.

Once the acupressure is done you're not supposed to cross your arms or your legs. With my doc he then leads us to another room where we can lay down for the next twenty minutes. During this time we are to hold on to the vial, keeping skin contact to it. After the twenty minutes are up the doc will call you back in and check your muscle response.

Strangely enough it's the next 24-25 hours that are the hardest, depending on what you're being treated for. During that time you need to stay away from any contact with the allergen. It takes twenty-four hours after the session for your body to clear all of the meridians of the allergen (there are 12 meridians in all, and each take two hours to clear).

The next time you head into the doctor he/she will retest your muscles to see if your body was able to successfully pass the allergen through your system. More often than not it'll pass the first time around. There are times, however, when the allergy is severe and it may take more than one session to be a success.

The NAET treatments are not cheap. I've never claimed they were. What you have to ask yourself is if it's worth putting your money into something that might cure the ailment as opposed to putting a band-aid on it. Of course this may not be for everyone, but if these posts have really captured your attention, perhaps it's time to look deeper into NAET.

I was tired of the cortizone. I was tired of not being able to hold my children. I couldn't exercise because of the constant flare-ups. I was miserable. Today I am almost rash free, and I haven't had to take pills or put on creams to do it. I consider this a miracle.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Eliminating My Allergies Part II: Muscle Response Testing

During my initial consultation with Dr. A the only thing I had planned on being treated for was my skin. It was the first thing I brought up, but it wasn’t where we ended. Before I knew it we had discussed my recent fatigue, brain fog, and inability to concentrate on any one thing for too long.

I had no idea so many of these things could be due to allergies.

Next he tested me for 120 different allergens. He didn’t do a blood test. Neither did he stick a patch on my back to see what flared up. Instead he did something called Muscle Response Testing.

Have you ever had a moment when you’ve come in contact with something and all the muscles in your arm or hand go really weak? I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened to me, and had no idea it might be my bodies reaction to some type of allergen. This is the method preferred by those doing NAET.

Not all allergies cause your system to put out antibodies into the blood or create rashes on your skin. They do, however, cause some sort of muscle weakness. Through this testing we discovered I was allergic for almost half the list. I was stunned, to say the least.

As we went through the list after the testing was done, Dr. A starred certain items he felt were especially likely to affect my skin, my recent tiredness and fuzzy thinking. These specific issues were quite tantalizing as it would be a few weeks before we could start on them.

There is a list of ‘basics’ that need to be addressed before moving on to other allergens. These basics are the most common allergens. They include things like eggs, vitamin C, corn, sugars, wheat, and others. Over many years of treating people the docs found these specific allergens needed to be treated first, as they were the most likely culprits in many other allergies.

For example, say you were allergic to vitamin C. Your first instinct might be to treat for oranges. The only problem is after you’ve treated for oranges you still find yourself allergic to strawberries, green vegetables, and a lot of other foods rich in vitamin C. Perhaps you can see that if you’d treated for the vitamin in the first place, you might not have had to treat for everything it’s in.

Clear as muddy water?

In any case we needed to start with the basics. How quickly we could run through all these depended largely on how many sessions I could afford, and the strength of my body. Dr. A recommended two or three times a week for me. Depending on our funds, I sometimes went in just once a week, sometimes up to three. It took a little over two months to get through the basics, and at last we were able to play with other of my allergies.

I think we should pause here for today. In my next post I’ll try to go into more of what the actual treatments are like.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Eliminating My Allergies, Part I

Back when I had my first baby I began to develop skin rashes. They started on my arms, traveled to my legs, then headed north to my face and neck. That was more than ten years ago. I went to a lot of doctors, but they all said, "It's eczema, there's nothing I can do." Then they'd slap a tube of cortizone cream in my hand and send me on my not-so-merry way.

My mother can tell you I was never satisfied with that answer. I noticed my rashes would flare up every time a storm would come in and the humidity in the air would increase. I felt certain it had to do with allergies as every time I took some Benedryl or other antihistamine it would all clear up. I went in for loads of tests, but blood tests all came back "normal" and the only thing I reacted to on the scratch tests was nickel.

Skin rashes probably don't seem like a big deal to many out there. Perhaps it's those who've endured them who can fully understand what it's like. I've scratched so hard and so often I've been covered in scabs. There were nights I'd wake up scratching. At times the rashes would be so bad I couldn't hold my children or sit next to my husband. I didn't like to be touched. I couldn't even stand the feel of my clothes on my skin. At times I was so embarrassed to go out in public. I even overheard my oldest trying to explain away mom's rash-covered face to some of her friends. It's been torturous.

Maybe now you might understand why I was tired of going to doctors. I was sick of hearing them tell me the same thing over and over: we can't help you.

It wasn't until my husband told someone he works with about my frustrations that I finally came across the first ray of hope I'd had in more than ten years. I was led to a man who dealt with NAET, or Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique.

I'll talk more about my experiences with NAET in upcoming posts, but if you'd like to read up on it go to . Just as I'd thought, my "eczema" was due to allergies, and I'm on the road to recovery.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A New Chapter

There comes a time in everyone's life when it's time to start a new chapter: graduating high school, heading off to college, beginning or ending a relationship, getting married, getting divorced, having children, or, like me, starting something new...say a blog.

I've had a passion for writing since I was young, but never had the courage to do anything with it. Okay so maybe a Reflections contest or two back in elementary school, but nothing along these lines. It's never easy to put yourself out there, even if it's fairly anonymous. Still, when the Holy Spirit nudges, it's wise to listen, and I wasn't just nudged. I was practically knocked to the floor.

You'll probably find this to be a hodge-podge of everything. I absolutely love to learn, and will pick up a book on everything from the newest direction of allergy elimination to teaching yourself to draw; from how to pick a ripe cantaloupe to possible locations for the Book of Mormon - another testament of Jesus Christ. I find almost everything to be absolutely fascinating.

So here's hoping you'll stick with me for however long this new chapter of my life lasts.