Friday, October 2, 2020

Ready or Not, General Conference!

It's been a wild ride of a year for me.  How about you? With my kids and my husband home with me most of the time, and now homeschooling Honor, with the kids mostly home, there's been little time for myself or to get my regular stuff done.  I'm sure you know what I mean!

And today, I'm up at the crack of dawn getting ready for General Conference weekend.  Today will be filled with cooking and cleaning, but I believe that I have everything else all ready.

I was feeling cranky yesterday, which happens when I'm sleep deprived, have a lot of work to do, and when I feel like the burden falls all to me. 

So, today I'll be working on calming down, taking rests, slowing myself, fasting, praying, considering what it is that I want to learn and how I can tune myself back in to that still small voice that has the answers I am seeking.

I thought I'd share one happy upcoming event.  Recently, my daughter Scarlett decided to seek a Patriarchal Blessing.  She was very mature about it for one so young and received her own answer about whether or not she was ready.  I'm looking forward to accompanying her next Sunday for her blessing.  It will be special, I am sure, as she is such a special daughter of our Heavenly Father ( and a strength and good example to me. )  Thank goodness for good daughters!!

All right, I hope you all enjoy Conference weekend and find inspiration to continue on in whatever challenges you face!  The Gospel is true!

PS:  If you're looking to freshen up your GenConf routine, have a look here at my General Conference Ideas Page

Have fun!

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Hopeful Journals

To help us have a good perspective on life during quarantine and during all the turmoil our son brings us, we started doing hopeful journals.

Right before family scripture study, we write down three things were each hopeful about that day or three things that bring us hope.

So far, it has really helped lighten our hearts and brought us joy!

Give it a try!
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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

the Atonement Covers what We Can't Fix

It's funny that my blog's title and theme is 2 Nephi 25:26, a verse that says, "We talk of Christ...that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." And here I am so frustrated with the decisions of my son when the answer is and has ever been before me.

I can only stay the path that I chose long ago, and that path is to talk and teach of Christ in my home, so my children know where to turn for a remission of sins when they need and want that help.

I am grateful for this promise and guidance and I think it will increase the peace for me as I learn to trust Him more, even as I continue to do all that I can for my kids.

Also, I'm so grateful right now for priesthood blessings. I received one in January and my husband said I'd be able to realize my goals and find success. So far I have been able to do that and see success in working out consistently.  

The other day I saw this quote from Pres. Nelson about making time for scripture study the priority. 

"Time for scriptures study requires a schedule that will be honored. Otherwise, blessings that matter most will be at the mercy of things that matter least..."

 I want to make sure my righteous goals have a space and time in this new quarantine world, so I will be working on this and taking his advice.

I realize my success in working out has been largely due to having my workouts decided for me. I don't have to come up with a new work out every day. It's just there on my phone. I am going to see how I can replicate this for myself in the area of scripture study, so that doing it can be more automatic and more consistent during this time when things are out of the regular routine!

What are you doing to improve yourself during quarantine and tweek things in your life?

Whatever it is I'm sure the Lord is blessing all of your efforts!

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Monday, May 4, 2020

Homeschooling Mama at long last....

Whew! It's been a minute.  Actually it's almost been two months of rigorous quarantine for us!  What an adventure!

I have finally gotten to dip my toe into actually homeschooling my kids because of all of this and most days I really love it.

I feel so blessed by all that has happened. I'm still feeling the hopeful high of General Conference and the announcement of a Pittsburg Temple!!!!

However, there have been lows and hard times here at home as well. Through all of it I know God is in charge and he's going to help us all though it all!

I hope that YOU feel the hope and seek out the light in the darkness of these days. 

My neighbors and I put out a light display every Sunday night and it brings us joy and peace.  I hope you have formed some small ways that you increase the peace and light for others around you too. In fact, I'm sure you have.

Continue reading... »

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Guardians of the Eternal Family

One good thing about my kids staying up unreasonably late is we were able to do a Come Follow Me/Book of Mormon study of Jacob 2:23-29.

We talked about why the Lord "delights in the chastity of women" and why the world would be cursed if all women stopped obeying God's commandments all together.

We had a wonderful discussion where we explored this question. Here are some of the notes taken or drawn by my children 

We talked about how women were referred to as Guardians of the Eternal family in General Conference. We thought about and talked about many things pertaining to our glorious calling as women. From the amazing experience of childbirth, to how having a baby changes women so much, to how being in the home allows us to protect and teach our children.

Val drew this picture of me with a shield in my hand protecting my children!

So I guess it's ok that they're not in bed yet...

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

God Has Your Dreams Secured

I have been asked to participate in a panel of women who will talk to the Young Women at church about their careers and education paths.

At first, I said yes, then I realized I had another committment at the same time, and then I said yes, because I realized that I have a lot to share.  And two of my daughters will be attending the panel, so I wanted to have my voice included for their sakes, if nothing else!

In the days that have passed since they asked me on Saturday, I've had a lot of thoughts come to my mind on this topic.  So I wanted to write them down before I forgot any of them.  

These are those thoughts:

As you may (or may not) know, I worked in TV News as an Editorial Producer before becoming a stay-at-home Mother.  I did a lot more than that, but that's the simple version.  I also didn't go to BYU, like, I guess, so many Latter-day Saints have.  I graduated from Miami University (in Oxford, Ohio) with a double-major in Mass Communication and Political Science and a minor in Broadcast Journalism.

I always knew what I wanted to do.

I wanted to work in Television. I wanted to marry in the temple. I wanted to be a stay-at-home Mother.

How did I come to these life-goals?

My Mother and Grandmother set such wonderful examples for me of Motherhood.  I looked at them and saw women of a noble birthright.  There was no question in my mind that they were performing an exalted calling in life, a calling that they did with their whole hearts.  

My foremothers also really valued education, which they showed me by their example.  My grandmother worked her first job cooking for the widower across the street when she was just 9 years old.  She didn't attend college, because that was fairly rare for a woman at that time, however she was always seeking higher education.  She trained and became a nurse.  She was widowed twice, so an income was imperative.  She spent her life in the service of others and eventually became the first female executive at ALCOA. She also received the honored title of Ohio Mother-of-the-Year in 1995.

My mother graduated with a History degree from BYU.  Because of her example and the way she talked to me about education, I always knew that I would go to college. I always knew that I would graduate.  It just wasn't even a question. And although, we didn't have much money in our family, she showed me all of the steps to qualify for, finance, and finish a four-year degree.  My mother also taught me the importance of being in the home to run things, to teach, to provide peace, comfort, wisdom, to instill security, stability, confidence, and a sense of self-worth and propriety in her children.

My mother often called herself a "muckraker" (the definition of which is a "reform-minded journalist who exposed corrupt leaders and institutions") because she was very involved in the community and in the schools.  Every good thing I remember that came out of school, years later, I can trace back to the efforts and careful stewardship of my mother.  

Such as the time a paddle was being employed in my elementary school to instill discipline.  I got in trouble sometimes, but rumors were spreading about some kids really getting paddled.  My mother went in and asked the principal to please call her if or when he might see fit to paddle one of her children, because she wanted to be in the room if that happened.  The paddle, which had been used as a form of punishment in school for years previous to that conversation, mysteriously and suddenly fell out of use in that school.  Apparently, no principal wanted to paddle a child in front of their parents.  In doing this, my Mom stood up not only for her children, but for the children who didn't have a parent actively watching out for them.

Another thing I noticed about my mother was that she ALWAYS listed "Homemaker" as her occupation on all official forms.

My mother was a powerful influence in my family, my life, and our community.  I wanted to grow up to be strong and powerful just like her.  My mother was a homemaker at all times, a muckraker when necessary, and when needed during a strike at my father's work, my mother was a subsitute teacher in the schools.

So, how did I come to want a career in Television?

I can trace this back to journal writing.  

For as long as I can remember, I have kept a journal. My parents would write for us before we could hold a pen.  Then each Sunday or as often as a few times a month, they'd ask us to write in a spiral-bound notebook that served as our journal.

When I became a preteen, I wrote more often.  And as a teenager, I wrote in my journal every night.  I wrote and wrote and wrote, often spending my own money on notebooks and journals for this purpose. I also loved to write letters.

This is how I became a writer and a skilled communicator.  

(Although the credit for my speaking skills go to my Great-grandmother who sat and listened to a quiet three year old until I started talking more normally and came out of my shell, to my little sister for putting up with listening to me drone on for hours each night before bed in the attic bedroom that we shared, and to my mother who taught me how to give a good talk starting in Primary/Sunday School!)

In middle school, my sister who is about three years ahead of me in school encouraged me to tryout for the morning announcements.  I did.  Then in high school, she encouraged me to try out for the morning announcements again, but unlike our middle school announcements which were over a PA system, the high school announcements were done over the school TV system (thanks to Channel 1!)

This is where I came to love TV production.  By the time I left high school, I just knew I wanted to work in Television.

The lesson here is this: There are people around you who can help point you in the right direction.  Trust them.  Don't be afraid to try things in your younger years.  Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone.  Do your personal progress/children and youth goals.  Things like writing in a journal, reading your scriptures, and organizing service projects can help you discover who you are, what you like, what you're good at, and help you develop a very important skill (effectively communicating with not just people but with the Spirit) that spans basically all career fields.  These things are not wasted efforts.  They just might be the very foundation of your life.

Early on in life, I didn't play organized sports (aside from summer swim team).  Our family didn't have the money to invest in these expensive endeavors.  But, in middle school and high school, where sports were basically free-ish, I tried everything good I could.  I tried out for almost every sport that a girl could play (Thank you, Title IX, which opened up many more sports opportunities for girls!!)  I volunteered, worked a job, helded elected positions in student council, and on and on.

When it came time to apply for college, I knew where I wanted to go, and it wasn't BYU (although my parents met there.)

I wanted to attend Miami University, because it was beautiful, it had a great reputation, and because my sister went there (Thank you, Dawn!)  It was just about as far away from home as I could get and still receive the in-state tuition rate! And ultimately, I felt drawn to it.

Many of my high school classmates applied to and attended Ohio State University.  I am so glad that I didn't go to that huge of a school.  At Miami, I was able to access more opportunities with less competition.  It was one key to my success in starting my career.

Miami had only a small number of Latter-day Saint students attending institute.  But the spirit was so strong there.  I did not meet my husband there.  That was never really my goal for attending college, and it frankly is not to my way of thinking about education at all, but I understand that is a wide-spread way of thinking, especially if you want to marry an LDS person.  I wasn't against marrying while in college, I guess I just wasn't ready.

To this day, I am ever-so grateful to all of the men and women with whom I interacted at my school.  From the RMs (men and women) who taught me how to love the Lord and how to stand on my own two feet with my personal testimony and who watched over me, and to my many non-member friends and roommates who supported me in my choices to live my religion and the morals I was taught at home and in the Young Women's program.  They were so different from me in some ways, but were also my best friends, and I have a great love for them still.  I will always remember one of my friends saying, "I don't ever want to see you drinking...I'll lose my faith in this world."  It was ok for him to drink, but he was going to hold me to my standards at all costs.

Attending a non-church school can be an amazing opportunity to stand out, to serve the Lord, to grow your testimony, and to be a life-long missionary.  The small branch that I attended took me in as their "daughter".  I loved feeling needed and loved.  Under their watchful eye, I was free to "grow up unto the Lord."  The Oxford, Ohio Branch will always be my spiritual home in a sense.

And what about a mission? Serving a mission was never something I even considered.  Why would I?

For one, my patriarchal blessing only mentioned a mission in my later life. (And I still understand that missions are OPTIONAL for women, but a duty for members of the Priesthood.)

For two, the shoes...the that time the dress code was so unappealing to me. Uh-uh.  And I'm not like some kind of fashion-ista, clearly.  This was just so not enticing for me personally (just being honest, here. That was my mindset at the time.)

For three, I had already been a missionary in my personal life.  I always believed that I could be a missionary where ever the Lord put me.  In fact, after an early missionary experience I promised the Lord that I would always share his gospel.  (And I believe that promise was a big reason for my career success.)

For four, I wanted to finish my education and pursue a career.  Stopping my education to serve a mission would have hindered that.  I couldn't see that working for me.

What else?

While I was on a summer break one year, my grandmother clipped a local newspaper article for me that highlighted how students in Ohio could participate in an internship program and GET PAID a grant to work in Washington, DC in politics, lobbying, or communication and STILL RECEIVE COLLEGE CREDITS while doing so.

I could not wait to apply.

I received word that I had been accepted before I even returned to school in the fall.  Apparently, however, there was an application and approval process set up by a guidance counselor at the school.  I was supposed to get her permission or something to apply because only two students were chosen each year to represent Miami.  However, I had unknowingly by-passed her self-imposed process and secured a spot for myself for the following semester.  She wasn't very happy about that.  I was elated.

Lesson here:  Take the chance.  Always apply. Raise your hand. Volunteer. Throw your hat in the ring.  And listen to your grandma who is always clippling magazine and newspaper articles for you.  She knows what's up.

I had secured my entrance in to the program, but I had to secure my own internship.  I applied to two and had two interviews.  One was a political group, the other was a TV News Agency that I had never really heard of.

When I did my phone interview with the news agency, the woman, who would eventually become my boss ended her brief interview with, "please call me if you have any questions about that position."  Luckily, I had a question. And looking back now, I'm sure that was the spirit prompting me.  What was my question?  "What is the dress code for working in the bureau?" It was a silly question, but she said to call if I had a question, so I basically called her RIGHT back and asked it.  She offered me the job during that second phone call.  I later learned that to tell the intership candicates apart, she always ended the interviews with the same invitation: to call with any questions.  The go-getters ask follow-up questions.  If you called back with a question, you got the job.  I got the job.

I would eventually learn many things during my time in this internship, things that would serve me in my career and my life.  But I will always remember the importance of listening, hearing, and asking questions.

I went to Washington DC that next semester.  It was right in the middle of the Impeachment of President Clinton.  DC was abuzz with political excitement.  I have so many stories from this time in my life.

One thing that stands out to me is that Tribune Broadcasting (the news group that hired me) was not a known entity to me.  They were not "big time" household names, however, because they weren't as "big" in the industry as other networks, they used Interns as field producers, giving us special access to cover things.  Because of President Clinton's involvement with an intern, interns were basically banned from the White House.  Because of the scandal they were seen as immature and untrustworthy and a liability.  As an Intern, I was sent on assignment to cover the White House, both inside and outside. I produced live shots, attended briefings, etc. I just acted like a regular field producer. Because of this I was able to learn and do so much more than if I was working at a higher-profile company simply pushing tapes or getting coffee.

My time as an intern solidified everything for me career-wise.

Lesson: Take the job that feels right, not the one that sounds right.

When it was over, I went back to Miami to finish my last year and graduate.  

In one of my senior Mass Comm classes I remember my professor would often bring printouts of job listings and toss them onto the table.  One day he brought one from a Miami Alumnus for a job that WASN'T an on-air TV job.  Most students turned their noses up at this, but I applied.  I knew I'd need money after college as I had loans to pay off.  

This job in Media Relations was also an important first step.  I learned some life-lessons, but it was a stepping stone for me.  It was a time for the Lord to teach me important lessons, lessons about trusting him and lessons about how to hear the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Lesson: Have a job while you're looking for a job, and don't be too good for a job.

That first job wasn't exactly what I was looking for.  It was probably a great first job for me, however, I wasn't satisfied. I wasn't sure where to go next, so I actually took the LSAT and the GMAT as I looked for something more fulfilling.  I got into a Masters of Education program at Ohio State and I had scores good enough to get into Law School as well.  I considered going to school to become a Communications Lawyer.  However, given that my goal was to be a stay-home mother at some point, accruing much more debt didn't seem logical.  So I didn't go back to school, and I didn't change course on my career goals.

I always kept in touch with my friends and co-workers and even my singles ward friends in DC.  I was always networking. I asked a co-worker to keep me in mind if a job ever opened up at Tribune.  One day it did.

She offered me a job that was freelance, so it didn't have any health benefits.  At this point, I had a good job in medial relations.  I had an important decision to make -- a decision that would really change the course of my life.

I was very worried about quitting my steady job to chase this dream of working in TV news, especially when we knew the job could go away at any moment if things went south with the advertiser/sponsor of the show.

I counseled with my parents.  My Dad who always worked a steady job and never changed, said, "If it were me, I wouldn't go."  The easy thing would have been for me to follow his advice, so that's what I went to bed having decided.  I would stay in Columbus.

Then next morning, however, I woke up and immediately started packing up my apartment.  I had a complete stupor of thought. I couldn't stay a moment longer in that WRONG situation.  The future was waiting for me in DC.  I knew that I had to go.  I might be making the biggest mistake of my life, but I had to make it.

Fast-forward to my life in DC.  It was thrilling to be back in the city that I loved and among some of my old friends, and to feel like my career was really launching now.  However, what we feared might happen DID happen.  My job "went away" as they say.

Soon, I found myself jobless in a very expensive city, but I wouldn't and couldn't give up.

I went on interview after interview.  I went after jobs that I knew I was not qualified for because I didn't have enough years of work experience, but I didn't care.

It was a very rough time.

I had to face people looking at me like "We told you so." (Those people were NOT my parents.  They never lost faith in me.)

I had to question everything.

I had to face the past and figure out if I still believed in the future that I saw in my mind.

Meanwhile, many people I knew were getting or were already married...with kids.  I felt fairly lost and hopeless.

I felt depressed.

I remember the distinct feeling that I could just disappear one day and no one would notice...except maybe my creditors. But even that, I questioned.

Staying connected to Institute and my church friends really helped me during this time.  I remember feeling particularly low and laying in the dark of my apartment.  I felt panicky.  I knew I needed to go where there was hope and light, so I went to the church to join my roommate who I knew was playing basketball there.  I ran into a girl who hardly knew me. She asked how I was.  A casual question that I am sure she didn't expect an actual answer to.  I told her how I was...not good.  She immediately reached into her purse and gave me all of the money out of her wallet.  She told me to pay her back when I could and if I couldn't, I was to "pay it forward".  This was such a life raft for me.  Not that the approximately $43 changed my problems, but it did bring me hope.  

Staying close to the Institute has always brought me strength in more ways than one.

I remember praying to the Lord that night and saying, "Why is this happening.  You know I won't ever leave you!"  He knew it.  I guess I needed to also know it deep down inside.

Then a day came when everything came together.

I went on an interview at a big PR firm.  The job required 10 years of experience, which I did not have.  However, while I was being interviewed, the interviewer said, "Your resume shows that you have a lot of TV production experience.  We just hired someone away from CNN, and I know that they are hiring.  Let me bring her up here for you."

Now that I look back on that, I wonder what prompted her to do such a generous thing.  I can only think that the spirit was prompting her.

The woman who came up from the back was about my age.  She gave me the name of her boss at CNN.  She told me to call her.  I did, and within the week, I had been interviewed and hired there--at what at the time was basically my dream job. 

I remember how excited as amazed I was.  

While I was working that first job after college, I would watch Wolf Blitzer on CNN and secretly whisper to myself in my head, "Some day I'm going to work there."  I had NEVER said those words aloud to anyone.  Not anyone.  But the Lord knew.

He had my dreams secured. 

Within the month, I'd be passing Judy Woodruff in the hall, giving camera cues to Wolf Blitzer, and seating special guests for Larry King Live.

My time at CNN was everything.  It was exhilarating.  It was a dream come true.  It was a culmination of all of the people who had helped me become the person I was.  And it was 100% facilitated by the Lord.

Another dream came true during that time.

My senior year of college, I received my temple endowment in the Columbus Temple.  Living in Columbus, I was able to attend the temple frequently, usually weekly. I remember watching the old lady temple workers and thinking, "I'd love to be a temple worker some day!"  but then I chastized myself for even thinking it.  I figured I'd have to be an old lady to have the time/opportunity.

Well, during the time that I was jobless in DC, I was called to serve as a temple worker in the Washington DC Temple.  I realized not long after that, that the Lord had orchestrated this whole time in my life to help me realize my righteous desires and goals.  He had brought me to my dreams in a way that I could not have imagined, foreseen, or accomplished myself.

So what about marriage?

I had dated....a lot.  I had met some truly wonderful men, and I will always, always be grateful for those men that treated me like the daughter of God that I am.  In the age of the MeToo movement, I realized more poignantly that every moment that I spent with those "good guys" was a protection to me from those other "men".  I am so grateful for that time in my life. I am grateful for the spirit that warned me of dangerous people and situations.  I am grateful for heavenly protection during the dating years.

I am also grateful for another thing: my patriarchal blessing.

I received my blessing when I was a junior in high school.  It told me a lot of things that I wouldn't completely understand until later, but one thing it said was that I was not to be hasty about getting married, but that I was to get to know my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ first.  And that when the time was right, I'd marry in the temple.

Having this assurance from the Lord and this personal map for my life really helped me to go forward with confidence.  Yes, I was a little sad when I watched other women becoming mothers, and I wondered a tiny bit if that dream would be realized for me or not.  But it helped me so much to know that the Lord had a plan for me.  That my plan didn't have to look like anyone elses.  It allowed me to trust the Lord and his timing for my life.

When I met my husband, I was kind of "over" dating.  I was working and having fun.  We were called to work together as co-chairs of the activities committee for a singles ward of 400 people.  The Lord had to put us together but soon after we finally started dating, I knew I could marry this man.  He was good.  He was worth waiting for.

We were engaged after three months, and we were married in the temple a year after our first date.  We traded in our callings as activity committee chairs for 400 singles for "event coordinators" for 6 children of our own.

When we left DC a year later for my husband to pursue an MBA at Penn State I was 6 months pregnant with my first child.  CNN allowed me to freelance for them from home during Hurricane Katrina.  They offered to keep me on as a guest booker from my home even after my child was born.

This was so alluring.  I could work from home and make good money to help support our family in Grad school.  And I could keep my status as an Editorial Producer of Guests for CNN.

However, my goal was to be a Homemaker, and I could easily work a 13-hour day during busy news cycles.  This was not what I wanted for my babies, so I declined the offer and cut professional ties with CNN.

People asked me during that time if this was a difficult decision to make.  It was not.

For one, I have the most amazing memories and stories from my time at CNN.  I saw things, heard things, participated in things that most people will never get to experience.  My job was literally to escort famous people, actors, rock stars, politicians, amazing journalists, kings, queens, etc. through the DC bureau every day.  The Lord used me as a missionary during that time.  I am so grateful for those experiences.  I will always have that.

But being a Mother was also my dream, the biggest dream.  And I was going to choose it with all my heart and with my time.

Fast-forward, I now have six kids.  Another thing that I hear my fellow-mothers say sometimes is that they lament that they are "just a mother" or that they "don't use their college education" now that they are a stay-at-home mother.  This last comment shocks me, really.  I feel like I use my education EVERY DAY of my Mothering career.  I use my intelligence, my understanding of the world, my leadership skills, my communication and reasoning skills, my organization skills.  I could go on and on.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't think back and see the faces of the person who taught me whatever skill I am currenty using and THANK them silently in my heart. MY parents, my family members, my teachers, my church leaders, my neighbors, my friends.

All of those previous experiences are still and always will be a part of me.

Another lesson I'd share here is: Figure out what you love and do it, it will serve you and bring you joy all of your life.

When I was a new mom, I did some freelance writing of news articles for small local papers and some state magazines.  It was a way to keep my hand in writing and it was fun.  I stopped doing that when my kids required more time (when I had then three of them, under the age of three!)

Later, I started blogging.  And that was such a fun outlet. I felt drawn to blogging ONLY when I realized I could write, be creative, help teach my children, AND be a missionary to my friends online through blogging.

Then I was approached by Church Magazines to write a bit for them and to submit ideas and be a source on some articles.  This has continued to use my skills in new and interesting ways, while I still perform my full-time mission of being a Mother.

How I decide how to spend my time and energy now:  You all should know that my motto is "You always have time for the things you put put the most important things first."

I am always weighing the options for my time and trying to make sure any project that I take on helps my family and me and doesn't tip the delicate balance of our lives together.  I also make sure I use my skills mainly only when the Lord indicates that it's needful for his purposes.

There are often alluring things out there that seem good to me.  (Like last year when I took on a big role in the PTO, but realized later that it was taking me away from my littles too much so I had to quit!)

Late last fall I received a new calling as Stake Media Relations Specialist.  I wondered how I would do this as I have such a busy time with raising my six kids (Those six kids that I once wondered if I'd ever have!)  The Lord showed me that he already had a plan and connections in place and made it easy for me to do his work in this area without sacrificing too much at home.

Now I am serving as the Stake Director of Communication.  It's amazing after all of this time to have the Lord come knocking and ask me to employ my skills in his service again, in a different way than I do daily as a Mother.  And I am grateful to do it, because I know that it's through his grace that I was able to have all of these great experiences and to see my education, career, and family goals realized.

A friend of mine said earlier this week: GOD HAS YOUR DREAMS SECURED.

This rings so true for me in my life.  Many times, we don't see how these dreams will be realized, but if we trust in him, cultivate righteous desires, and pledge to do his work, HE WILL USE US.

I'm leaving a few things out here (and lots of other work experiences), and I'm not sure how I'll communicate this all to the Young Women tonight, but I thought I'd type this out for my girls to some day read when they reach this point in their own lives.

The Lord knows you and has a work for you to do.  Figure out what your dreams are and believe in them. Act in Faith.

This reminds me a quote from Elder Holland: (source)

"Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—that is the first principle of the gospel. We must go forward. God expects you to have enough faith, determination, and trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. He expects you not simply to face the future; He expects you to embrace and shape the future—to love it, rejoice in it, and delight in your opportunities.
God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream. In short, He can’t if you don’t believe."

Dream your dreams, girls.  And trust that the Lord has your dreams secured.

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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Woman in Embryo

I was walking through the front entryway of the middle school this evening and I spotted this display of what the fifth-graders want to be when they grow up.

You bet I was proud when I saw my daughter Autumn's photo. She was holding a sign that read "Mom" on it.

In a sea of aspiring actors, video game designers, and sports figures, she's not afraid to declare that she wants to be a Mom.

This made this former TV Producer, double-major degree-holding, stay-at-home Mother and Homemaker's heart take flight!

Move in the direction of your dreams, little Woman in embryo (as your Grandmother says!) As you follow His plan for you, God will help make those dreams come true and use you in ways you never imagined!

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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Come Follow Me: motivation

I feel like my kids need some incentive to really engage in Come Follow Me lately. And sometimes I'm ok with tying rewards to positive actions, especially if it gets us over a hump or out of a slump or ultimately leads to a habit that could some day save their spiritual lives 

So today, I'm trying a little reward system that is tied to lunch treats (which they rarely get but really want) or snacks for movie nights and such.

I figure if they write in their journal identifying principles, and reading on their own, that would be worth a reward. So for every two days they do this in a week, they can choose a snack from my snack box to pack in their lunches. If they manage to do it 7 days out of the week they can choose a special outing with Mom or Dad. (Or they can get more snacks. :)

Maybe that doesn't sound like much or maybe it's too much, but it is the strong desire of my kids to have both of these things/opportunities. I figure it will motivate all of us to be more diligent and serve another purpose... Rationing of school lunch snacks which seem to disappear at lightening speed in our family of eight!

What's in my snack box? Individual portions of Lucky Charms, Oreos, Cheezits, Fruit snacks, microwave popcorn packets, and other items I don't buy on a regular basis which they consider a fun treat.

Here's the seen from after school today. Challenge accepted, I guess:

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Monday, February 24, 2020

talent show FHE

To encourage the development of our talents tonight we had a talent show for FHE.
We were treated to sword fighting by Captain Hook and Peter Pan...
...magic tricks...

...trumpet pieces...


...the highest and lowest note on a saxophone...

...and the recorder. Oh and I showed a blanket that I crocheted.

After each brief performance, each family member had a chance to ask questions of the performer.

This last-minute FHE was fun and cultivated a spirit of appreciation for the talents of others. The questions helped us see the work involved in reaching these goals in our talents.
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Monday, February 17, 2020

the Lord's Hand to Revealed

This is me reaching out longingly toward this blanket that I started crocheting back in January. Lately I've been so busy with my calling that I haven't had time for this little creative hobby.

But I'm an so grateful for this calling of Stake Director of Communication. This weekend was an "emergency" Stake Conference, in which we had a new Stake Presidency called because our other recently called Stake President is moving away.

In preparation for this Stake Conference we invited lots of local government leaders to attend. We met with them and invited in person or over the phone. And basically they all said yes!!

I mean, that's to be expected when the person doing the asking is a former Pittsburgh Steeler with two Super Bowl rings, however, I am still amazed.

Perhaps the persecuted Joseph Smith might have been amazed. I think possibly the visiting Elder Montoya (whose great grandfather was killed by soldiers in Mexico 105 years ago for being "Mormon") was slightly amazed.

But it was indeed a remarkable show of support, one we haven't seen in this area previously, and I could see the Lord's hand in it.

I was worried when they called me to this position. Being a SAHM, fairly new to this area, and not having government connections, I wondered how it was to be done?

Wouldn't you know, the Lord already had set a plan in motion?  As it turned out my daughter's homeroom/health teacher is one of the Township Supervisors for our local government.  A way was already provided before I was even called.

Other things to note: the person who held this calling before me only held it for three months. He didn't know me, but my name came to him as the person to call to the committee. After I had been called, I asked him if he knew anything of my background. He said that he didn't. He had no idea that I had worked at CNN, was a journalist and did some PR in my career.

And Chris Hoke, that Pittsburgh Steeler, and member of the Stake Presidency who has been my "missionary companion" as we have gone out visiting government officials for the last month or so has been instrumental, using his name and connections to open doors that would not have opened to me. Now, he is our new Stake President, an excellent choice for a leader. But he was 2nd counselor long enough to guide our Committee and jumpstart these community relationships again.

I told Pres. Hoke yesterday in a text how much I respect him, however not because of his worldly fame. After all, unlike most other Yinzers, I have never seen him play a minute of football in my life!

But I have seen him take the field for the Lord, and I have been most impressed with his willingness to repay the Lord for his success by using his name, fame, time, and all of his amazing talents to Serve the Lord and Build His kingdom. I have all the respect in the world for that.

So if Chris Hoke can do it, I guess I can put down my crochet hook and cast in my sickle for the Lord.

It's much more exciting than crocheting anyway!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Some People are Just Magic

I know I'm a little late with this post, but I just have to give a shout-out to the Santa at the Pittsburgh's Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens this year.  

He was warm and sincere and did an amazing job of sparking joy and a sense of wonder in my children when we visited with him.

I absolutely adore people who are so much like children themselves that children accept them as an ally pretty readily.  This is how this Santa was for us.

Just so amazingly sweet and kind.

For this Mom who spent much of the entire holiday season tending a sick household, watching him interact with my babies was a treat in and of itself.

Thank you, Santa!


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Monday, February 10, 2020

A Thought for This Week

Just thought I'd share this to get you psyched up for the week ahead.  No matter what you face, remember this:

"You were taught in the spirit world to prepare you for anything and everything you would encounter during this later part of these latter says. That teaching endures within you!" - President Russell M. Nelson

Make choices today that will allow the Holy Ghost to remind you of those teachings when you need them most!  

You can do this!

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Sunday, February 9, 2020

My Mom Turned 71

My Mom turned 71 on Saturday, so we bopped on over to Cleveland to spend the day with her and my Dad (and also got to see my sister.)

Because, we can do that now that we only live two hours away.  We couldn't run over and back in a day when we lived nearly five hours away.

I count that as one of the major blessings of our move, the move that was so hard to make three years ago.

But God truly works in mysterious ways to bring about what is best for us, and what is best for me now is being able to live closer to my family.

My Mom is a truly remarkable lady.  She is always learning new things.  Like currently she apprentices for a local balloon shop learning to become a balloon artist.  She is so creative and fun like that.

Another thing about my Mom is that she will always tell it to ya straight.  She doesn't mince words.  I always know if I ask her opinion, I'll get an honest answer. I trust her because of that.

My Mom and my Dad are straight about the gospel.  They try their best. They point me to Christ and to his prophet.  I love them for the excellent examples they are to me.

And I'm grateful I get to share more of my time with them now that we live a lot closer.

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

What Come Follow Me Looked Like One Day

Lately, I cannot get my kids to sit down and listen to scriptures unless food is literally going into their mouths at the very same time.  I guess this shouldn't surprise me that much, since we've used this as a strategy since they were little.

On Saturday, after a day of relaxing past-times (such as water-coloring, puzzle-solving, raclette cooking, and trash-collecting in the neighborhood, I sat down while dishes were being cleared from dinner and just started reading and interpreting the scriptures aloud.

I had a semi-captive audience.  I was really just doing my own personal studying amid the chaos, and as I'd discover one truth after another that I'd somehow missed the other 40 times I'd read the passages, I'd exclaim with excitement at what I had learned.  The kids would draw nearer and want to engage.

Soon, four of my kids were working on water color paints and passively listening while I read, jotted down notes, and pointed out what I thought was so amazing about what I had just learned.

Every day, it seems I approach Come Follow Me a little differently.  But this was one of those good days that I'll always remember.


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