Saturday, December 26, 2015

Our Christmas Day 2015

 I just love Christmas time.  Everything that the Christmas songs talk about with the lights, feeling in the air, gift giving, family, and cheer.  All that on top of the gratitude I feel for my loving Savior and that He came to earth to save us all.  I love celebrating Him.  This Christmas season flew by.  It was wonderful, all of it, but it went by so fast.  Some stress came from having to move during it all!  It's not like we just had to move all of our stuff from one home to the next, we've had to do so many things to our new home: new electrical panel, furnace work, plumbing work, new dishwasher, roof repair, on and on.  Not to mention, every square inch of the inside of the home (NOT exaggerating, I'm serious) has had to be painted.  It's not done.  I have so much work to do I feel as though I've just begun to scratch the surface.  We have painters tape all over my house and I have very little time to do it.  However despite all of that, I was, and am, able to see how much God loves me and how much Jesus Christ love me.  I'm not complaining; because things have to be done that aren't fun sometimes.  That doesn't mean life isn't beautiful.  I have zero regrets about my holiday season.  I know I treasured it and celebrated adequately with my family- and I'm actually proud of myself that those other things didn't get me too overwhelmed.  I definitely simplified this year and when I really think about it... it was nice.

So like last year I decided to throw some clips of our Christmas day together.  I want to remember what made this Christmas day special and these clips do just that.  Most of it is only significant to me but I wanted to share anyway.  One of the highlights of the day was the falling snow!  We got quite a bit of snow last night and today!  I've seriously always dreamed about having a white Christmas but the closest I've ever gotten is having a white Christmas eve in El Paso one year as a kid and then Virginia several years back.  I vividly remember as a kid growing up I'd check that before anything else.  A few times, the glow on the ground from the moon fooled me into thinking we really did get some snow.  There I was, a southern California girl hoping for snow even though I knew it was a long shot.  Anyway, it's silly and not really necessary, but it was fun to get it today.  My childhood dream!

Monday, November 9, 2015

My Thoughts on the Matter

Recently my church revised a long-standing policy which has gotten a lot of members and non-members alike in an uproar.  I admit as I'm typing I have a lump in my throat.  I'm anxious to express my feelings but hope I can do so in a sensitive, loving way.
You may have heard, but to get up to speed visit HERE to watch a 10 minute video all about it.

I have been mulling this over in my head quite a bit and wanted to talk about my feelings.  Today in church a member of the bishopric asked the young women what they thought about this "issue" (I'm a leader in that organization and was blessed to be there to hear the girl's thoughts).  These sweet girls were so brave.  Some were really upset.  Some were really confused.  Others seemed to feel that it made sense.  One comment has been coming back to me over and over and it's this: "I think it's stupid.  Children shouldn't be punished for the sins of their parents."  I've heard this a lot lately and have felt to share my thoughts.

Punishment.  In our mortal minds and hearts, yes, that's what it would be.  That's what it feels like.  I can't imagine coming from a home where I have two moms or two dads and my church, the church I love so much, telling me I can't be baptized at 8 like everyone else.  I have to wait until I'm at least 18.  It would hurt, I'm sure.  The church is about love and acceptance of all people, so why?

Hopefully my insight will help those struggling with this rather than cause deeper hurt or anger.  Let's open our hearts to what God wants us to know and put off what we think is best for ourselves.

Let me explain two things I know before I dive into the previous statements and questions I've posed.

1.  I know God lives and that He loves us.  I know his son, Jesus Christ, atoned for ALL MEN and that we can ALL be forgiven of our sins. It's only once we are made clean that we are ready to dwell in their presence.  No unclean thing can enter in the kingdom of God.  We must repent when we've sinned.

and then,

2. Sin is sin.  Religions around the globe, mine included, love and accept all people as they are.  We do!  We want all to come to church!  We welcome all because we believe in the Atonement's ability to heal and change hearts.  We want all to know and experience this.  But what needs to happen to feel that redemption is that people need to forsake sin.  They need to acknowledge sin for what it is, do their best to forsake it, and not accept it because the world has.

In a way I've already answered my above question.  If the gospel is about love and acceptance, why would this be happening?  The answer is a simple one, really.  We love all.  We accept all.  But we do not accept sin.  We recognize that all of us, in our own way, accept certain sins temporarily in that we are daily committing them... but when we've sinned, we look toward God to forgive us.  We take the sacrament weekly to renew our promise to be that much more like our Savior Jesus Christ.  It's a process.  We are mortal, and weak, so it's kind of a slow process at that.  That's okay.  But, God has set the standard for us on what is right and what is wrong.  HE makes the call, not us.  Our mortal minds are so narrow- we have a very limited view of what eternity is.  It's our responsibility, and privilege to follow God's will.  It's the only safe way back to Him.

Article of Faith #2 (there are 13 Articles of Faith in the church) states: "We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression."

Many have brought this up as a contradiction to the revised policy.  Let me share what I have felt as I've prayed for clarity.  The "punishment" mentioned here in this Article of Faith is referring to our final judgement.  When I go to meet my maker I will not be punished for the sins of my parents.  I will be judged on MY works in this life, and my works alone.  To view this policy as a punishment is looking at it as a mortal would.  We think our lives are long, we have fears of missing out, and we have very limited eternal perspective.  God, on the other hand, comprehends all.  He knows there's a MUCH, much bigger picture.  He knows that no matter what, ALL WILL have the chance to be baptized, if they want to.  There's nothing any of His children will ultimately miss out on, NOTHING.  It may require faith and patience in many people's lives, yes, but all will work out.  Think about the times you have been called to endure a trial or be patient.  Perhaps that thing was the very thing that led you to God in the first place.  Trials are our greatest blessings when we view them correctly.  At least in my life, every trial I've been called to endure has brought me closer to God.  This is all a GOOD thing.  People who are questioning and praying about this, good for you!  How else will you know for yourself what is right unless you ask God.

There are reasons the church has revised this and it's referenced in the video.  By listening to it, you just might have insight on the policy that you didn't before.  Maybe it will make sense to you finally, maybe not.  Not everyone is going to agree with this policy and perhaps that's because first and foremost, they don't believe that homosexuality is sin.  It's not new that the church believes that- that has ALWAYS been the stance of Christ's church- that marriage is to be between one man and one woman.  I honestly believe that this policy hasn't been hard for me to accept because I do know that.  I also believe in my church- and have a strong testimony that it is led by a prophet of God, who is inspired by God, to help us through this life.  Much like the prophets of old like Adam, Noah, Abraham, or Moses... we have a prophet today that speaks for God.  Because I know this, it's easy for me to want to follow what he says.  It's not the popular thing always.  It's not the easy thing.  To others it might make me look unaccepting of people who are different than me.  I know it looks like that but it shouldn't, because that's not what it is.  I truly do value and love people of other religions and beliefs.  But I know what I know and even if I do value others I have to stand firm in what is right and what is wrong.  I owe it to God to put His laws before anything else.

I know that God loves all people.  I do not think for one second that because I haven't had homosexual tendencies that I'm better than those that have.  Quite the contrary.  I view us as equally flawed beings that need to work things out.  Trust me, I have things to work out.  I don't know that  I will ever understand what it feels like to be called apostate for something I really do feel within me.  But I understand the plan of Salvation.  I understand how important it is that as a woman, I'm married to a man.  The definition of apostate is: "a person who renounces a religious or political belief or principle."  If you are homosexual and have accepted this lifestyle then you are not in complete harmony with the teachings of the church.  This isn't new doctrine and shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who understands the gospel.  What I hope is that this title, "apostate", stirs something within people who have accepted this lifestyle as the way it should be.  God says it's not- even if it feels right.  The natural man is an enemy to God (Mosiah 3:19) therefore we shouldn't allow our mortal frames to take charge of what our spirits know to be right.  We can deceive ourselves if we are not careful- we need the Spirit to teach us what is right and not be fooled by the evil influences in the world around us.

 I know that ultimately everyone will see and understand as perfectly as God does.  In the meantime, love is the answer.  Love as best we can and as far reaching as possible so that our fellow humans on this earth can have a taste of what God feels for them.  Debating is not the answer, bible bashing is not the answer... what we each need is to individually seek our Heavenly Father and the rest will unfold as it should.  But just love one another in the meantime.  I know people who have chosen to be homosexual and I don't think they are nasty, horrible, human beings.  I just know that their weaknesses are different than mine.  No one wants to hear that they have weaknesses.  No one wants to accept when they are less than perfect - but the reality is that no one, other than our Savior Jesus Christ, has ever been perfect.  You can have weakness and fault and huge sins and still be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It's not a church where we condemn those who are imperfect or who have different tendencies- it's a hospital for the broken!  That said, God's laws are what they are.  It's a home where we are all striving to be on the same page as God, to bend our will to His.  This isn't an issue about hate or intolerance- it's about following our Savior.  If I were to openly accept things I knew to be wrong there would be consequences for me, too.  I couldn't go into the temple if I wasn't actively trying to do things the way God wanted me to.  No one expects perfection- but God wants our best efforts.

Today I helped my toddler walk down an unfamiliar set of stairs.  I thought about this recent news and that set of stairs and my young child and everything came together.  We are like the child, the set of stairs is this life.  The one holding our hand is our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He doesn't yank us down those stairs... He's not impatient.  He doesn't expect perfect performance and He's not surprised when we have some hesitation.  He doesn't expect us to go at any certain pace or to be able to handle it alone.  When we can handle it alone, I'm sure He's happy- but if we need a helping hand, He's there and certainly willing to give it.  We are still learning, still trusting, hoping we don't fall, but we are going at our own pace in this life to make sense of it all.  There's no need to think that just because one person steps down a little faster that they are better.  It's okay for this and all issues to take some time in our hearts.  God loves us.  He won't give up on us.  We can understand and know what God's purpose is for us on this earth, that much I know.

*If you have questions for me feel free to email but know that I'm not a spokesperson for the church, I'm just a member of it who has been blessed with understanding of this policy for myself.  I sustain and follow the leaders of the church because I know they were called of God in their leadership positions.  I'm not blindly following my leaders because I go by what the Holy Ghost teaches me as I listen to them.  I pray about things and study to know what is right.  It's my individual testimony that propels me to follow God and His counsel.  Without my effort, I would just be blindly following or leading on the testimony of others- but that's not the case.  The church encourages ALL to find their own answers and testimonies.  Moroni 10:4 "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It's Who I Am

Have you ever thought about who you would be if you took something away from yourself?  For instance, I play the piano and have done so since I was 8 years old.  If I took that away, there would be so many holes in my life.  I wouldn't be the same person. I wouldn't have the guts I do now to get up in front of people. I just think piano as a whole- has, in large part, molded who I am.  I think about this in terms of religion a lot.  When I was a full-time blogger here I did my best to share droplets of my religious beliefs but for the most part I strayed away from being "too churchy".  My reasoning was twofold:  One, I didn't want to make this a religious blog... and two, I didn't want controversy.  I realize and recognize that speaking of God in ways that aren't familiar to others creates controversy and worse... contention.  But I'll be honest, one of the things that drove me away from being a full-time blogger was knowing that there were parts of me + my life that I just didn't display online so therefore I felt like I wasn't giving my readers the FULL picture of who I really was, and who I really am.  That bothered me and made me retreat from this space- thinking, I could finally be myself- and it was all okay because I was accepted there.  Acceptance here never quite felt right because I'd often think... man, they don't even know me!  Well, I think I've grown up enough now to not be afraid to talk more openly about religion... my religion.  Side note:  I don't allow comments anymore because I love being able to express my feelings and thoughts without commentary.  In fact, I wish I could do that on more platforms like Instagram for example.  Can they make that a thing?  Posts that don't allow likes or comments?  I'd love that.

So to reiterate... I had to quit blogging because I was tired of toning down my religion and other things in my life that are so dear, personal, and sacred to me.  Welp, I just can't not talk about my religion now.  It's WHO I AM, and who I always was.  There's nothing shameful about it, and I'm HAPPY to talk about it.  It's my everything.  It's why I love myself, it's why I love others, it's why I look at people for who they can be rather than judge them for what they've done.  My religion is my driving force behind every choice I make.  It's on my mind 24-7.  From the gorgeous weather to avoiding a car wreck I'm always looking to God.  OK... let me back up because I'm sounding quite honestly boastful.  Rest assured, I'm as flawed as they come.  There's a lot about me that needs improvement and my Heavenly Father knows that better than anyone.  Despite my weaknesses though, I rejoice in what good I do accomplish on any given day- and by the end of the day I am pleading for more strength to do better.  It's a beautiful, often exhausting cycle (in a good way).

Before I go any further I wanted to say who I am.  I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am a Mormon.  Plainly stated, it's the gospel that Jesus Christ preached when he was on the earth.  That's what I believe.  I could go into great detail about where Joseph Smith comes into play or the Book of Mormon but if you're interested you can just check that and many other things out here:

Why am I coming out with this?  Well, if you've read my blog for years now you already probably knew my religion.  You saw me posting temples or saw the vague "we believe" link on my sidebar.  These are non-confrontational ways or sharing who I am.  So, I'm not technically "just" coming out with this.  But I did feel the urge to talk about it tonight, and REALLY talk about it.  There's been a lot of talk about things, my church, in the media over the years and I feel my voice is important.  It might be nice to hear the perspective from an actual member over a news report or article.  At any rate, I've been drafting a post in my mind about some recent popular topics, Mormon related, so look for those soon if you're interested.

Who am I?  An imperfect human being trying their best.  On top of that is my absolute crazy passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If I could shout from the rooftops without looking like a crazy person, I would shout from my rooftop just how much I love my church.  Did you hear that internet?  I'm Mormon!  I know it, I live it, and I LOVE IT.  I truly do.  It's that BIG HUGE chunk of me that was always kinda overshadowed on this blog for i-don't-know-whose benefit.  I thought I'd be cool, be an every-man (woman), fit in and only like trendy stuff!  Gosh I wish you could hear my tone cause I get pretty animated in my head.  Truly, that was never the full story.  Now this is...

Monday, November 2, 2015

Getting by until Christmas

I've always been disappointed with the thanksgiving decor over the years.  Only recently have I seen some cute stuff at Target and I'm really happy about it.  Of course, I still haven't gotten any of it... but in time.  This year I decided to add more gold into my Thanksgiving decor to take away from all the orange and brown.  Not my favorite colors to decorate with but it definitely feels like fall outside - and now inside!  Again, this is a post solely for me to remember what I "did" as far as decorating.  I love doing posts like this for me to look back on.
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This centerpiece is usually ironed and put on my table but not this year since all my kids climb on the table and get into stuff.  I wish I could say it's just my (almost) two year old that does it but no... it's all of them. lol  I already have my 2016 calendar ready in storage to put up in a couple months.  Can't believe the year is flying by like this!IMG_7896 IMG_7902 IMG_7904 IMG_7906 IMG_7907
I did a fall styled shoot recently where we were going to put up gold leaves.  There were some hiccups and we never ended up using them.  So, I decided to put my leaves (and two cans of gold spray paint) to some good use.  Don't worry, the first sign of mold and my halloween jack-o-lanterns will be gone.  My kids drew pictures of what they wanted their pumpkins to look like and I recreated it.  It was the safest way.IMG_7921 IMG_7922 IMG_7924 IMG_7929 IMG_7914 IMG_7931 IMG_7880
I love kid made decor... and a lot of it is made by me (both above and others) but let's be honest... I'm really just getting by until I can put out my favorite decor of all... CHRISTMAS!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Apple Picking

When my mom came into town we picked her up from the airport and went straight to apple picking. My kids and her had planned that out for a while so it was fun to finally do.  The apples were TINY and mostly not so good... not to mention it. was. HOT that late September day.  But, like I said in a previous post that was the best apple pie I've ever had.  My kids loved being in charge of their buckets and filling them up.  There were some delicious caramels after and apple cider.  I love fall!

Oh, and poor Greyson's broken leg.  4 kids and 7+ years as a mom and it finally happened where I turned my back and someone got hurt.  Tony called to go on a lunch date and so while Greyson played quietly in the boy's room I went in my bathroom and started brushing my hair.  Minutes later I came in to him crying, holding his leg standing next to the bed.  I texted Tony saying I thought Greyson broke his leg.  There was a different fear and look in his eye as he cried so I knew it wasn't just a bonk or something.  He bent his fibula and the doctor said it wasn't a big deal and it would "heal quickly" so cast it for 3 weeks.  After one difficult week Greyson started walking normally on his cast.  When the 3 weeks were over (and they went FAST!) we took the cast off and had him walk but he cried "ow!" So the dr had another one put on for 2 more weeks.  The first day without the cast he still complained but the doctor ensured me he would get used to it.  He hobbled around and couldn't walk or run normally for a few days but little by little he stopped saying ow and limping and he's back to his normal self!  I'm so grateful it wasn't worse and that according to his doctor, he shouldn't have any negative side effects from this.  I have to admit, watching him walk around on his cast was the cutest thing ever.  I really missed chasing him and making him scream and run away, so I am happy to have that cast gone though.
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Monday, October 26, 2015

Halloween Decor 2015

How pretty was this morning?  I'm loving it here.  And I think we all know my love for "cute halloween" decor.  I *despise* the bloody creepy stuff.  My kids are grateful for that, no doubt.  Another thing I love about halloween is decorating with my kids' creations.  How cute are the decorations B has brought home from school over the last couple years?  I'm excited to see what he brings home this week.  My kids have also loved taking spider web and putting it around the house.  I personally love gel clings.  They are so kid friendly and add so much so easily.  I know they don't look expensive and ritzy but nothing about my life really is so it's perfect for me.

The biggest change about decorating this year vs. last year is having a mantle!  I had a "wall ledge" but no mantle before.  It's been fun this year to change it over the season.  After the break I shared a couple more images from this year's mantle.  Most of my decor is randomly throughout the house but I like to take pictures to remember year by year where I put stuff.  It's hard when I move all the time but it's still fun for me to go back and see what I've done with what I have at each home.
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Oh, and the super moon eclipse we had last month!  So glad we could witness it and it wasn't cloudy.  I took this without a tripod so it's not super sharp but cool still.