Monday, December 9, 2013

The Christmas Sweater

We started a tradition a few years ago, inspired by a wonderful friend, of wrapping Christmas books** each year and having the kids open one per day in December until Christmas Eve. I throw in a few bigger chapter books that we can snuggle in and read for longer periods too.

One of my all time favorites is The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck. Stories have such an amazing impact and boy does this one! It’s a story of love, forgiveness, and the impact small choices can make over a period of time- for good or bad. I never fail to shed a few tears while reading certain parts. And my children always offer more hugs, compliments and love during and after reading it. It really brings home the love of family and the need to cherish the important things in life while we have them.


**Just a note - we wrap up books we already own. I might buy a book or two each year but mostly we just wrap the old favorites we have! I just choose 24 of them for that year.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Love is a verb

I’ve been reading 7 Habits For Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey again. What a phenomenal book!

Covey tells a story about a man who approaches him after a seminar complaining that he and his wife no longer love each other but don’t know what to do about it. Much to the man’s frustration, Covey tells him to love his wife and that will fix it. The man objects that the feeling simply isn’t there anymore. Covey goes on to explain that love is a verb, an action word. We display love by doing things such as serving, sacrificing, listening. The feeling of love will follow loving actions. I couldn’t agree more!

Years ago when I was first married, before ever even having the benefit of reading Covey’s amazing books, I made this decision- I chose to love my husband whether I thought he deserved it or not. It has been a key decision for me. Some days it has been easy to make the decision all over again to keep loving him and some days it has been hard. But it’s interesting to me how it keeps getting easier as life goes on and we keep putting each other first. We’ve come to depend on each other and to trust in the love we have for each other. A love that shows through our actions, some of which (like kissing in the kitchen) our children will protest. But we can see the truth in their eyes- they are happy their parents love each other and aren’t afraid to show it!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Who will you choose to be?

We have a tradition in our family for Halloween that we started about 7 years ago, to go to dinner and a movie. We skip out on the trick-or-treating partly because we don’t like something for nothing attitude it promotes and partly because I dislike the amount of sugar that typically comes home.

This year we went to see Smurfs 2. We didn’t really choose it for inspiration, we chose it for the fun factor. We liked the first Smurfs movie and it happened to be one that the whole family could watch including our youngest daughter who is 9.

I have an internal alert to great quotes though, and this movie had a winner I thought I’d share.

Papa Surf is talking to Smurfette, who has doubted her Smurfness and personal character because of her origins- being created by Gargamel. Papa Smurf says to her, “It doesn’t matter where you come from. It matters who you choose to be.”

There are so many amazing examples of people who come from terrible circumstances or are put into horrific situations and still choose to rise above it. I’ve always loved those stories of personal triumph. One of my favorites is by  Immaculee Ilibagiza called Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

We can’t run and hide


I just finished watching The Village for the 4th or 5th time. It’s one of my all time favorite movies. It’s a suspenseful thriller, not a horror movie, which is just the kind I love to watch.

I realized something afterward this time. The movie has always appealed to that part of me that would love to go off with a safe group of friends and family and start our own little ‘village’. Safe from the evils and terrors of this world. Safe from the thieves, rapists and murderers. A world apart from the world. How I would love to protect my children from all of the garbage that goes on- but I can’t. No matter where we live or who we live with there will be sorrows, even evils. Satan still tempts people who don’t own cars or have access to the internet. There will always be a Cain.

So rather than shelter my children, I will tell them about the evils in this world. They will have to learn to shelter their own minds as I have learned to do. They will have to learn, as I have learned, that we always have a choice.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fighting abuse and pornography

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at two different functions.

The first was Chainbreaker Foundation. This is a much needed organization that has helped many who are trying to break the cycle of abuse. They provide guidance and emotional support as well as many temporal resources to assist those who are trying to leave an abusive situation. If you are in need of help, they are an essential resource!

I also had the opportunity to speak at the South Jordan chapter of Women for Decency. This is a fabulous organization fighting the dangerous effects of pornography. This is a serious addiction that is destroying individuals and families and I believe it was at the root of the destruction of my childhood family. Pornography addiction in my father led to more and more serious addictions, including the verbal and sometimes physical abuse that he inflicted on his wife and children, and later the voyeurism he committed against the next door neighbor girls. 

Check out the websites of these wonderful organizations:

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Recently some friends of ours initiated a collection for another friend who is in need of a particular surgery- an operation that has become more and more pressing as time passes. Some of you know who I'm talking about! Emails went around and the funds were raised in a pretty short period of time.

This same miracle occurred on our behalf in February 2012. Friends, neighbors and people I don't even know collected funds and delivered them to us so we could travel to attend Charlie's and Braden's funeral in Washington state. There were actually 2 different groups, completely independent of each other, who participated in fund raisers. It’s inspiring and humbling to me to see a community come together like that!

It reminds me of …barn raising. Now bear with me a minute.

In Seven Habit for Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey teaches us what it means to be interdependent. This is the ability to work effectively with other people to accomplish more than you would on your own. So- 1 person might produce (x) in 1 day. 3 people might produce (x3). But 3 people working together effectively might produce (x10) or more per day.

In the days of Little House on the Prairie (I love both the show and the book series) people didn’t have television, the internet, or personal electronic devices to entertain them. They had to invent their own fun and it often involved getting together with other people. Spring dances, church going, and simple dinner parties were just a few fun people activities. They also helped each other bring in crops and raise barns. They learned to work well together and have fun doing it. And boy did those barns go up quick!

Anybody need to raise a barn?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How to Make Stress Your Friend link to video

I watched this video segment a couple of days ago. I thought of a few things as I watched.

First reaching out to other people during the last few years as my family and I went through major trauma was key in saving my life- my physical life.

Just a few months before Susan disappeared, I started mentoring a class called Shakespeare Conquest with another wonderful lady- on a completely voluntary basis. Things were going very well. The class was a lot of fun and I was learning at least as much as the students if not more.

We had just ended the 1st semester when this situation with Susan came up. We passed through the holiday season and it was hard. But I had committed to doing this class and so even though I was really no help at all- their was no sharing of the responsibilities for class prep- I went back in January and attended and did what I could to be helpful in class. I couldn't have made a better choice.

This drew me out of my pain and gave me something else to think about besides me, my missing sister-in-law and my scum of a brother. I was serving others (including my two oldest children who were in the class). And I was surrounded by good people. The parents of the youth in that class are still among my dearest friends. Turning to them and continuing to serve (albeit in a limited capacity) I think, after watching this video, physically saved my heart.

The second thing that dawned on me was that I still had a paradigm shift to complete. The stress of the situation did affect my health in other negative ways. I am still on the slow path to recovery, but I'm on it and that's better than a few years ago.

However, I've continued in a mindset that someday life is going to let up a little. I'll find a virtually stress free place in life. I've come to realize that place doesn't exist. We have to make that stress free place from the building blocks of our everyday lives. Our stressful lives. There will always be  obstacles to negotiate, challenges to meet and hurdles to overcome.

So how do we handle life gracefully- and physically survive the experience? I think this video on stress gives great insight. Turn to family and friends during crises, or even for minor stresses. It's just good to have a friend. Also, think about stress differently. It's only a killer if we see it as a killer. In addition to those I would add- turn to Heavenly Father. He is the ultimate friend and will always listen, even when no one else will. I have spilled my heart out to Him many times when I didn't feel I could burden my friends with any more or didn't feel it appropriate to share something with others even if they would have been willing to hear. It's good to have a Friend.