Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sunrises and Elenor Roosevelt

This morning I woke up with Jack and we both felt like- I don't really want to be awake yet but I can't sleep anymore. So we played with legos and laundry baskets until the best part of my day happens- sunrise. I can see it from my bedroom window, but the view from the dock is ideal. Each one is different and I love that symbolism. My sister has a quote in her room that has stuck with me each morning I get to see the sun come up. It is from Elenor Roosevelt.

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” 

Mrs. Roosevelt must have faced a lot of demons in her life because she sure knows a lot about fear. I suggest scrolling slowly and taking a deep breath as you read this. Life is fast in December. Let this be your slow moment. 

“Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.” 

“Happiness is not a's a by-product of a life well lived.” 

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art. ” 

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it's in hot water.” 

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.” 

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” 

That cloud...

“It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.” 

“No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.” 

I hope everyone has a great day. 
21 days until Christmas!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

This mornings journal entry

November 15

I love being mormon. 

I know that that sentence can be easily misinterpreted in an emerging culture of 'accept everything graciously' and 'don't tell anyone what to do.' I go through phases where I try to be accommodating to my American culture, because there is a lot of good in it. It’s a welcoming culture for the most part, and it’s served some really great purposes like providing the American Dream of becoming who you want to and having the means to do so, and religious freedom, and freedom to write and say whatever you want. I love those parts of our culture. What is hurting me lately is watching those freedoms be twisted and therefore disintegrate under the pressure of trying to live without morals anymore. 

So I woke up this morning so happy because I have this great religion. I was thinking how lucky I feel to be a part of it- to even know it’s out there as an option- to understand it when so many misunderstand it- to feel it is true in my heart when so many don’t know anything is true anymore. I was feeling so blessed that I believe in something that fills my soul’s hunger when so many are really searching for that missing piece of the puzzle that will make everything make sense. And I just thought- I truly love being Mormon. I love that it’s a global church and I feel it has the principles to help anyone in any situation figure life out. And figure out what you're individually suppose to do with yourself to be really happy. 

Increasingly, shouting your love for your particular religion from the rooftops is extremely unpopular. Because it makes others feel like theirs isn’t true or because we are becoming much less open to freedom of religion in our culture than we used to be. It’s sad. Americans used to be a really faithful people. Now we are mostly clinging on to remnants of faith in ourselves and saying insincerely there must be a God out there somewhere but why isn’t he solving all these problems we have down here. We miss out when we fall into that trap. Heavenly Father is not the only one we forget about. Satan is alive and kicking as well and he is quite happy that his long hours and hard work is paying off. He is sucking us dry of our faith in the name of tolerance. There is such a thing as too much tolerance. Hello “post pregnancy abortion” and prostitution and pornography. It’s disgusting how we don’t even realize how far we have come. 

So- this morning I woke up really loving being part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Everything that makes sense to me about life comes from the principles I learned from the gospel of this church. 

I love waking up in the morning and having direction and purpose. I know I need to talk to God first. I know he has a plan for my day and that His Spirit will guide me through it.  I know he loves me. That is priceless information everyone needs to know. You do not have to figure it all out on your own. I have scriptures that I read every morning that make life make sense. I have this knowledge of so many things that directs how I live that I totally take for granted. Like- I know right from wrong. I know not to gossip or let negativity drag me down to the pit of despair. I know when I make mistakes that Christ knows how to help me forgive myself and how to change so I don’t make that mistake again. Or if I do keep making it, because it seems to be an inherent flaw, then shows mercy and I keep picking myself off and he dusts me off and we try again. I know that my soul hungers for truth and I know where to feed it. 

I know people have seen God. I know that he looks like a man, like my Father. I know that he created me. He created me, my children, he created the nature I love so much and he created the sun, moon, and stars that I stare at every day and that provide light to me. These things are firm in my heart. I KNOW them. I know when I have a problem that I can think in my heart to my Father- this is what is happening, this is what I think, please help me find a better way if this isn’t right. Or I can think to him in desperation to protect someone I love, or help me love someone who is frustrating, or help me forgive someone who has hurt me so I don’t have to drag around that yucky heavy feeling you have when you want to stay mad at someone.

But the biggest all around thing is- I KNOW God loves me. And everyone needs to know that. You need to know it by feeling it yourself. You need to know by a power that is not your imagination- you need to feel that power come from the great forces that we men cannot control. You need to know from the same power that created the science of sunrises and sunsets, and autumn, and the earth that revolves in this vast solar system that looks smaller with each new discovery. You need to KNOW when you look at your hands and your face in the mirror that God created that. And he doesn’t make mistakes. He made those hands. He made that crooked smile. He gives me a beating heart and breath. He loves me and that power needs to pass through a person every morning. Maybe every a few times a day. It is as real as living. This world needs to remember they are just children. In all the amazing wisdom and knowledge we have, as humanity, figured out and taught each other- the most important thing not to forget is who we are and that we are here because God is real, and he wants us to learn a ton and have great and terrible life experiences so we can grow up. We are weak now- anyone who catches the near-inevitable winter colds knows we people can be knocked off our feet in one day by this little infection. We are mortal and we are made to be because THIS is not our final destination. This is temporary. Life continues beyond this to something even the most beautiful sunset over Tahiti pales in comparison to. This stuff is real. And I’m so glad I know it. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Summer recap

This has been a summer never to forget. Change, when embraced, can be so good for the soul. 

We moved from Kennesaw- full of people we dearly love- and spent a couple months on the road seeing the family we dearly love. We enjoyed the heralded Ft George trip where three generations of Zirkle swam, ate, played, ate, hiked, ate, and got in trouble.

Jack is transforming! And his hair has a mind of its own. 

2 months
8 months

We visited Utah, drinking in the sight of the Uintas and seeing wonderful friends from the Provo days. We stayed with Grandma Liz and were fed with delicious food to our hearts content. We read books until all of us needed glasses. It was great to have a little taste of the summer of Utah, so different from the humid, HUMID south. 

Then we were off to Colorado to visit Wilkin territory. We picked a lot of fruit from Gpa's orchard. We started feeding Jack solids, finally. We thought about sleeping. A lot. We did some retail therapy to make up for the not sleeping. Jack got an ear infection...for a month...and would like very much for that to never ever happen again. Kate got to "camp" for the first time. We lasted until 11pm. We watched the foxes and racoons destroy the yard. I went to a stake conference and as I walked the halls with sleepy Jack, I realized I had walked those halls to my first day of Primary, to my first day of young womens, I walked there for seminary and seminary graduation, for the funeral of Marty who was everyone's best friend and hero, and last but not least- when I came home from my mission and had to report to the High Council about it. I couldn't believe all those halls had seen, and all they have yet to see. It was surreal. 

At long last- we come home. To our new home. It has been a slice of heaven, and I never want to leave. I so enjoy the views and the space for Kate to run. I never EVER thought I'd like having dogs- but Mack has stolen my heart. 

Saying goodbye to Fred and Sheri was NOT the highlight of the summer. We send them much love and strength for their adventure ahead serving in San Antonio. 

Kate turned three last Friday. Many mixed emotions, as it should be. My baby is three. I do not like saying that. She is very eloquent and has wild ideas. She is an entertainer. She loves to run and swim. She is very perceptive. She loves hummus. She has proved to be an amazing, patient, compassionate, doting older sister. 

"I'm three now Mom! I can drive!" 

"Dat's my heart song. It's called boo-tiful Daddy."

Childhood rocks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


"Goals reflect the desires of our hearts and our vision of what we can accomplish. Through goals and plans, our hopes are transformed into action. Goal setting and planning are acts of faith." (Preach My Gospel pg 146)

I have been nervous about this summer's plans to travel for six weeks because all routines the kids and I have fine-tweeked to keep this ball rolling will be sacrificed to survival mode. 

Then I remembered a little gem from missionary life. Key Indicators. 

And I quote "Perhaps you have wondered which of your many duties are the most important. To be able to answer this question, you must understand your purpose and know how effective use of time can help you fulfill this purpose." (PMG pg 138) Enter Key Indicators, the metrics which measure your progression towards your goals. SO I need to figure out:

My purpose is:

My key indicators are:

I'm hoping this will simplify the ENORMOUS guilt complex Satan seems to love flinging in my face as each day passes and "nothing" gets done. I'm excited to sling my own metrics of success in his face and know when I'll be satisfied with my day. Hope this helps someone else in their own situation. Because time has become such a commodity in our fast paced culture, I'm constantly judging if I use mine wisely. I'm also ticked when I waste it, but sometimes I confuse myself on what 'wasting' time really is. Like- spending NON structured time with my kids is not wasting time. Or meditating is not wasting time. Laundry is and always will be a waste of time though. And especially ironing. Who irons anymore right?? (Only those who leave their clothes in the laundry basket so long they are a wrinklly mess. SO yeah we still iron a lot.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Why picking a spouse is like picking a watermelon

Why picking a spouse is like picking a watermelon.

There are a few tricks I've learned in my 29 years about picking a great watermelon. Let me tell you- I served in Tahiti and watermelons are kind of a HUGE deal there. So here are the tips for picking a great watermelon. 

First you look for one that has a nice solid white spot. That shows the little guy has been sitting in the sun ripening. The rest of him should be nice and green. Next, you thump it with your palm to see if it sounds like it's full of water- a hollow sound should be your sign of a good fruit. You also look for bee stings- that look like little scars all over the poor son of a gun. It means it is so sweet bees couldn't resist attempting to stick their pointy bums in there. I wonder sometimes if they died trying to get a bite of my delicious melon. Finally- heftiness. The heftier, the more water, which my friends equals a nice ripe WATER-full melon. 

Ready for the analogy?

The white spot. Has to sit in the sun- which I will play on words as THE SON, so the light of Christ or the power source of the universe. He has to spend time with God and his son to get nice and sweet. 

Thump it to see if its full of what it says its full of. This is that age old wisdom of watch him while he's in difficult situations to see how he handles it. Usually life dishes out the hard stuff and you can just sit back and observe, but if it's too good I'm sure you'll have differences where you purposely or inadvertently thump him and you can see if he's full of compassion or if he's "hollow."

The scars. A good man has been through his fair share of trials and though a flawless watermelon looks pretty- it won't do you as much good in the way of taste. Those unslightly scars are where bees try and sting because they sense sweetness. They show proof of sweetness within, tried and tested. Marriage and life is HARD and you need someone good from the inside out, even if it took them a lot of mistakes to get there. 

Heftiness- because WHO DOESN'T LOVE A BIG STRONG MAN!? But the heftiness could be spiritual. I just happen to have both in my big ole watermelon husband. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lake people

A few updates.
Kate will be THREE in September!? 
Kate- I don't even know where to start with this girl! She is WILD and happy and hyper and so loving. What touches me the most is her gratitude. She is always thanking me for playing with her or cooking for her or reading to her. It melts my heart to hear "sank yew" for any little thing. I love her constant hugs and giggles. Today she asked- mommy can I annoy you? Haha! Then she started waving a pom pom around in my face. This girl loves to have fun and is just entering the magical world of make believe. She casts spells and regularly plays with monsters and dragons. Her mind is a steel trap and so I have to watch what I say and explanations I give because she keeps them in that little vault. She knows quite a few teasing tricks that Daddy will have to un-teach her before she goes to school. She can ride a bike (w training wheels!) and swim (w a life jacket!) and loves to swing. She could swing for an hour if Jack and I would let her. She is quite in love with Jack, which is a huge relief to me. Because we are keeping him. 

Jackie boy is almost 6 months old. I know he's growing up fast but friends I have felt every single day of that 6 months. ;) He's a tender little soul. He seems so laid back and happy compared to my spirited Katie bug. I love his sweet smiles and how he always wants to hold my hand. He loves to hang out with me at night and party through the wee hours of the morning. I keep hoping he will sleep through the night! Someday. Over the rainbow. 

Our summer plans are pretty awesome. In a month we are moving into a friend's garage and being gypsies for awhile! We get to go to the infamous Ft. George (many pictures will to come.) Then to Utah for a week (too short, I will eat Costa Vida EVERY DAY) and then on to Colorado to crash at my parent's house for a month. We just wanted to be there to get the results of all my dad's hard gardening work! And to love on Yaya and Gpa. Poor Zach has to drive cross country again *CRINGE* and I thank him 1000x over for not making the kids and I drive too. Thank you Wright brothers from all of us mothers of young children. 

At the end of September we are going to call Salem, SC home sweet home. My Father in Law's Fred has a Lakehouse there and while he serves a mission for our church in San Antonio, Texas we get to enjoy it. 

Though I am excited for a new adventure, Kennesaw has already felt like home. We will really miss our friends here. Not to mention my family! For the first time in my 29 years, I live 30 minutes away from family! I have a cousin and his wife in my very apartment complex and My grandparents and 4 out of 5 uncles within an hour! That means a lot of cousins to miss. And I'm going to miss this wonderful place. But hey if I never left every place I thought I'd miss I'd still be in Boulder. Bring it on Salem. 

Grandma Wilkin with Jack
Uncle Chris, Grandma & Grandpa Wilkin with Jack

Lake Keowee in Salem, South Carolina.
That will be our dock on the right. 

The Backyard

The Lakehouse

My favorite dog in the world, Mack

 Sold 35 minutes away (nearest grocery store...gasp) but worth the drive. I think Kate will be frequently bribed with these. And Jack if his teeth EVER come through. 
A waterfall about 15 min away
Zach towing Princess Kate and her 2 loyal subjects
(the dogs)
A little walk. Little Kate.

So y'all have to come visit and stay with us. 

After that? As much as our plans change WHO THE HECK KNOWS! But we will probably move back to Kennesaw to keep working. Of course by then we will then be loaded (with sand from the lake) and will move to Tahiti. 

Prison Break

This talk is really short and simple but describes something I am experiencing. Especially this quote:

There are many who find themselves in circumstances similar to those of Jim and Ed—not necessarily confined to a correctional institution, but nevertheless in prison, a prison from which legal authorities cannot release them, a prison of personal habits such as alcohol, drugs, immorality, selfishness, dishonesty, laziness, aimlessness; yes, these can be more confining and damning than any state prison. Yet there is a way to escape to a freedom that surpasses anything designed by man—the kind of freedom Jim and Ed have found.
This freedom can only be found by accepting the divine plan and keeping the commandments of him who gave his life for each of us that we might find eternal life—even Jesus Christ. For did he not say: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”? (John 8:32.)
Towards the end of my pregnancy with Jack and the months following his birth, I felt like my personality was changing in a way I did not like. I felt trapped. I was more angry, way less patient, never content. I was grasping at straws trying to find happiness or feel peace. I thought it was because of pregnancy and the impatience to be done with it. I thought maybe it was because Zach's job was so frustrating. I thought it was because Kate was getting so stubborn- probably terrible two's. I blamed it on being so tired and never getting time for myself. Then once he was born, I blamed it on the slow recovery or post partum depression. Maybe even PTSD because the traumatic delivery.

About two months ago, Zach and I had some real slap in the face conversations that showed me this decay in my happiness, when it really came down to it, was not from any of those external sources or hard experiences. It was coming from within me. 

My soul was starving and I was feeding it with Modern Family, Pinterest, Facebook, texting friends, and food. I couldn't find the source of the problem so I was trapped in this cell of discontent.

Zach always talks about going to the wrong wells for relief. I think I'd heard him say it so many times that I was blocking it out. After an honest look at our day to day, and seeing how much my unhappiness was affecting my family, I knew I needed to reboot internally. I know my external pressures and responsibilities may transform over the years but will never go away. Life is an upward climb, my friends, and no sense in waiting for it to get easier or slow down. My kids need more and more of me and I can't pretend spirituality to them or fudge through the day waiting for bedtime so I can have ME time. I have to actually change inside to be the woman I want to be for this next chapter of our lives. Coming to accept my happiness as my responsibility was my first step. Accepting that I needed to quit feeling jipped if I didn't sleep or did a lot of work around the house. I had become so selfish, to the point where service wasn't even fun, just a duty. I felt jaded at the end of every day. I wanted to find ways to get out of service so I wasn't so tired. I think that's because my heart was in the wrong place. I had slipped into thinking the Universe owed me something and that my ideal life involved a whooooole lot of free time. Accepting God didn't OWE me for raising these kids or being a stay at home mother was quite a slap in the face. I cringe at the things I was taking for granted. 

So once I saw that I was a lot farther from where I wanted to be than I realized, I was pretty motivated to change. Change is not easy. Especially if you are trying to change habits you have developed to protect your weaknesses. My answer first lie in 2 things: praying every time I felt myself getting cranky and taking alone time to read my scriptures and think about them every day. The longer the better. I remember the first day after five minutes I felt like I was done. I had become so used to little samples of spirituality that I thought I was full. So wrong. Personally I need a solid 30 minutes to feel filled now. It's like when you start running and want to die after the warm up. Oye. Mornings are best for me to do that, before I start serving my family. Sometimes it doesn't work out and I do it during naptimes or night. Before, Zach and I were just listening to a conference talk before we went to bed. That kind of "scripture study" was totally not cutting it to help strengthen me for the mounting pressures life is giving us. Interestingly, the ME time I was craving isn't as frequent a need now that I have this meditation time with God every day. My friend Vera gave me a "40 Days Closer to Jesus Christ" thing that has about 10 scriptures and 2 quotes for every day. Each time that I read one, I'd have these thoughts I knew I needed to write down, and WOW does writing help release that tension that builds up from stress. 

I have noticed that since doing JUST these 2 things- praying a lot and spending time thinking and reading with God, so many things have fallen into place. My marriage is SO much happier because I am happier. Though I've been tempted many times to flip a lid, I find this strength coming from within to stop myself and find respectful ways out of it. Kate has been so much better behaved- I think because I play with her more and we are so busy doing positive things we just have less contention between us. I'm way less stressed. I'm not killing myself with unrealistic expectations of a clean house or perfect schedule. I recognize the HUGE privilege it is to be a stay at home mother. I could go on and on about that one but naptime is almost over so I'll have to save that for another day. I can even communicate better with Zach when things are sliding downhill. It is plain crazy all the benefits that come out of just doing these two things. Have other people already discovered this secret? It is probably the 30th time in my life I've had to rediscover it and surely not the last, but I'm so relieved I've put in the effort to do it because I finally feel like myself again. I've got dreams again- that's a big contributor to my happiness. Who stops dreaming? Ugh. Not me please. It also provides this structure for me to lean on for the upcoming changes. We are moving in a month and traveling for a good part of the summer, which can be pretty *special* with 2 young kids. I feel at peace anyway because I know when I start to feel dark inside I just have to go draw the right water from the right well and I can navigate through it. A quote I've got hanging in my bedroom is Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of these things and still be calm in your heart.

I know this is getting long but it's been a huge deal so I'm having a hard time shutting up about it. I noticed that I was BLIND to so many great things I almost missed. My kids are treasures and growing up fast. My husband is willing to cook and grocery shop and clean- I was controlling all those things so he hadn't even had the opportunity to help ease my burden. I had no idea he wanted to help out with that. All in all, none of our circumstances/pressures have changed and yet I feel like I have nothing to complain about now- I can see so much more good than I could before. I ask God for energy daily instead of more sleep. I ask him to help me anticipate Kate's needs and cherish this time with Jack as a completely dependent little boy. Someday they won't need me every minute and it will crush me, though it seems so overwhelming in the time. I am an imperfect individual but these little testimonies give me confidence that Christ really can help me reach my potential as an awesome woman, wife, mother, and human being in a crazy part of history. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Weigh in on some motherhood things

I imagine I am not alone in being troubled with the present state of affairs in our world. I feel like I'm in a tanker with thousands upon thousands of passengers- women, men, children, of all races- and there is a dark, sly enemy lurking in the depths of the waters. He is slowly punching quarter-size holes in the bottom of the ship, with the intent of sinking all those wonderful people and families trying to enjoy the beauty of the ride. Because of how slowly the ship is inching deeper into the water, the happy passengers don't notice how dire the circumstances really are. Well- as a passenger on the bottom deck I just glimpsed down to find my feet in water. I don't know how to yell out to my fellow old-fashioned believers besides in the form of a blog post. I'm hoping somehow by weighing in on some important issues that I'll hear from you guys- my friends and family- what you feel about these things and what to do about it so I know I'm not the only one seeing the waters rising so we can prepare the life boats in case this sucker sinks. 

The first one on my mind is the decision to have a child. 

I read a couple weeks ago that Planned Parenthood legalized post-birth abortion. The content of that article has haunted me every day since readying it. Post-birth abortion. That doesn't even hide what those lobbyists are really going for. Murder. That is murder anyway you spin it. I mean- if I cause a car accident, and a pregnant woman is killed- I'm charged with murder. PP- you're downright crazy. And you being crazy is going to cost a lot of kids their lives. Mothers making this decision are robbing themselves of happiness.

I'm pro-life (except for in extreme circumstances of incest or rape). I think at the heart of this whole abortion epidemic are lies society is teaching about sex and what it's technically really for. It's just a free for all anymore. Like- the next step after you kiss someone. I think how lost I would be if my whole view of sex was based on what I learn from TV and magazines and music. Speaking of the evil little ship-sinker, he's really attacking the family from every angle. I hope we can open up our eyes and see how families are going to be hurt bigtime if we don't start playing by the rules the man upstairs has made. Open relationships, abortion, divorce out the whazoo...we can't expect society to teach family values anymore. It's just up to us guys. We've got to listen to our hearts about what's really right and wrong and draw some lines for ourselves instead of letting others erase them for us. 

I remember going to my first prenatal appointment at 10 weeks and being shocked that the nurse at this clinic did an ultrasound. I'd expected them to use one of those heartbeat monitor thingies to make sure the babe was alive- I didn't know I'd get to see her- or that there was anything to see. So the nurse squirts that cold gel on my yet empty-looking belly and voom- that black screen lit up with a white tiny human being kicking and waving at me (yelling hey mom! Watch this!) I couldn't feel a thing! But there she was kicking and waving like she could see she was on a 24" flat screen in front of her adoring fans. I didn't know she would already look like a little baby. I was still picturing the different sizes of fruit compared her to. A little strawberry just sitting there patiently waiting to become human. Silly mommy. She was an itty bitty little girl already. How, even in the depth of fatigue after the despair of labor, could a woman look upon her own beautiful new innocent child and with the fateful wave of her hand allow another person to kill that baby before her very eyes? The waters are rising. The only way a woman could do that is if someone is working overtime trying to sink her ship. The ways to combat the ship-sinker are not easy, but they are worth it. Read The Screwtape Letters. It opened my eyes a lot to ways the adversary had hold of parts of me I was clueless about. Zach has actually noticed a difference from me since reading that book. I'm on to you ship-sinker. 

I know that Satan tries to make you focus on how pregnancy/childbirth will affect your looks and your body size. He also makes you freak out about the pain you are going to experience. He makes you think you are not strong enough to endure the first 9 months of that baby's life and not good enough to parent him/her for the rest. He ensures you that the baby will ruin your freedom and probably your relationship with your spouse and surely your career. He starts making you real harsh on yourself to speed up this process and he is really really good at attacking when your hormones are going crazy. Such a stinker. 

Just don't believe his lies. 

The truth is- God built you strong enough to withstand all of the trials associated with childbirth and rearing and strong enough to combat Satan's temptations while you do it. I think the secret is to rely on the Savior for grace. 

"The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.

It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.

Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the Fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23)." (LDS Bible Dictionary, Grace)

There is so much more to say on this subject. To be continued in like 6 months when I find time to blog again. :)

Pre and Post baby boy musings

December 8, 2013

I have one month left until baby boy arrives. His impending birth is much different than Kate's was. I have no major lifestyle change to figure out. I am not quitting any job or wondering what on earth childbirth is like. But there are a few differences this time that really have my brain gears turning- always in the wee hours of the morning. (Somehow I only need 5 hours of sleep anymore?) One is how this will change Kate's life. And secretly- how this will change Kate and I's life. Nobody knows how much I love holding her hand walking through parking lots. My adorable little best friend who knows me so well. We have our routine so down pat that I know BOTH of us are going to struggle with baby coming in and taking over.

May 19, 2014

I just found this draft from before Jack was born. Much has happened since then. Jack was born January 8. It was quite the experience. I laughed when I read that I didn't have to wonder what childbirth was like. HA! Jack's labor (such a different beast than my labor with Kate!) happened so fast and so intensely that Zach delivered that little baby by our front door. More on that later. 

I have a smile now reading about my fears of Jack disrupting Kate and I's life. I  don't know where to start. He has in such a beautiful way. Kate now has to learn patience and independence. I could never have taught her those things so well, because now she learns them out of love for her brother. She is learning to put other's needs before her own. She is learning to care for a person smaller and more helpless than her.She is learning to share not just toys but her parents- much harder than sharing her stuff. She has learned the durability of our love for her. She is learning that our focus on him does not diminish our love for her. HOW could she have learned these things at such a tender age without a sibling? I had limited vision, as I thought bringing her a brother would make her feel neglected and that I wouldn't have as much time to teach her valuable life lessons. This was a classic "My ways are not your ways" situation. I read a quote once that the best thing you can do for your child is give them a sibling. I see more clearly now why that is true. And confession- I was scared I wouldn't love him as much as Kate. Her place in my heart has not (AND WILL NEVER!) budge one tiny bit out of the way to make room for someone else. My heart just grew bigger so Jack has a nice roomy place of his own now. The little dude has made Kate happier if you can believe it. She does not like his crying, but she loves holding him, talking to him, giving him toys and feeding him, and it seems she is as proud of him as I am when he hits developmental marks. I can tell that he is a part of her now too. I didn't know how much she needed him. Oh and how he melts my heart with the way he looks at her- with total trust and love. A baby's gaze of love is the most spiritual thing I have ever seen. It is that trust I am learning to place in God through this process. We three now walk through the parking lot and I still hold Kate's hand. Our relationship has not weakened. It's strengthened because now I look to her sideways- as a helper, a hug when I need one, someone to laugh with during the day when I have to change a narsty diaper or Jack's screaming about something. Now that Kate and I have endured something hard together, we are stronger for it. And sweet Jack has added so much love to our family. He smiles readily whenever Kate bursts into song- and truth be told Kate distrupts his life much more than he disrupts hers ;). It's now 7am. Naptime yet?  

Thursday, January 30, 2014


by Truman G Madsen
from Four Essays on Love

The way to overcome the fake fires that are omni-present in our culture is neither wet blankets nor cold water. It is to burn with a brighter, richer flame...

Love is Fire. 
That is the great secret. 

It is Fire with a large F. It is Divine Fire. When it is in you it lights you, all of you. And transforms. No self-induced flicker can compare with it.

Such love, over long periods, becomes diamond-like. A real diamond, being pure carbon, burns up in split seconds surrounded by flame. Yet there are other fantastic pressures and refinements that give it luster and sheen until it can cut and endure through almost anything. Love in you is both that destructive and that durable. 

Snow lessons

Well I think I know what Kate has been wishing for every time we blow out candles or see the first star every night- SNOW. If you haven't heard yet what's going on in the south, we went from a pretty warm Monday to rare snow in the middle of Tuesday. At first it was a light flurry but it picked up and gave Kate a couple inches to play in. Zach works ten minutes away and it took him two hours to get home for all the traffic he was in. 

At first I chuckled that two inches of snow was such a big deal but all humor was gone as the night went on. The freeway was a gridlock on ice- with many of our friends stuck in it. It was full of huge multi-car accidents, semis Jack-knifed everywhere, stranded cars, kids stuck in schools because their parents couldn't get to them, people with no food and running out of gas, abandoning their cars to walk home in the snow because they hadn't moved in 7 hours. One woman gave birth in her car assisted by her husband and a police officer because they were stuck in the gridlock and couldn't make it to the hospital. As far as I've heard they are both okay. After my experience almost giving birth to Jack in our parking lot three weeks ago in 15 degree weather that woman's experience is what wrenches my heart most of all. This whole experience has gotten me thinking A LOT about being prepared. Some real lucky things happened that kept us safe from this storm but we easily could have been one of the thousands right outside our house preparing to spend the night on the freeway. 

There were a combination of factors I've heard that have contributed to the disaster this whole mess is. Many of them seem to have direct spiritual parallels.

First- no one expected- and few prepared for- a winter wonderland Tuesday when it was sunny Monday. Lesson: it's far easier to prepare for storms when it's sunny- and much harder when the storm has already hit. You never know what tomorrow could bring.

All was business as usual dropping kids off at school/daycare and going to work. When snow dropped and schools called to say they were sending kids home, everyone in Metro Atlanta jumped in their cars to go get their kids or go home, creating a gridlock. When more snow fell, what few plows the cities had couldn't do their work bc the roads were full. So the road conditions worsened around all those drivers. I have no criticism for how the situations were all handled because I'm sure everyone was doing their best in an unexpected situation. Very crazy to see that where we came from in Utah can have a foot of snow dumped and because they're accustomed to snow, they are prepared for living safely in it, while when it hits a state so unexpectedly, even two inches can be devastating. 

Second: Many unaccustomed to driving on slick roads got in accidents from simple maneuvers that would have been easily accomplished on a dry road. Lesson: The Lord gives us gradually increasing trails (tough experiences on dry roads) to practice for the harder ones to come (tough experiences on icy roads). It's easy to keep your footing when you're in control- like a driver on a dry road- but much more difficult to keep your faith when you feel like your sliding all over and out of control. Another lesson from this could be to keep up devotional practices like reading scripture and praying when things are going great so that you have the strength you need when things are hard. 

Third- just because it stops snowing does not mean the hard part is over. The aftermath of trials needs just as much faith and attention as the initial trial itself. The snow stopped late Tuesday night but there is still so much to be done to get back to normal functioning Atlanta life. Some kids are just being reunited with their parents after spending the night at school. The roads are an icy mess. There are hundreds of abandoned cars in every parking lot and on every road. Tow trucks are working like crazy to clear the freeway so they can make driving safe. People have to deal with repairing their cars from all those accidents. To date over 1000 flights out of Atlanta were cancelled. The backlash goes on and on. Point being- when you have a hard trial- you need to give yourself time afterwards to recover from it. Extra spiritual attention, taking life a little slower, and not expecting life to go on as if nothing happened. Taking time to learn the lessons from trials gives the trials value. 

If we don't spend time thinking about life and what we are learning from it, the trials are for little good and will most likely have to be repeated.