Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy HaLLOwEeN!

This Halloween we had pumpkins, pirates, chickens, lady bugs and witches parading our house!  Lots of excitement, too much candy, and tons of fun!

We had our traditional dinner in a pumpkin...

And we invited the missionaries over, along with a friend!  We always like having them over!  My kids LOVE the missionaries, and they are fun for us to hang out with.  If you ever see them, invite them in!  They would love to meet you!

We had a discussion, with our friend and the missionaries, about the Holy Ghost.  Unlike ghosts and goblins of the Halloween variety, we believe the Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones.  He is often referred to as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the Comforter." 

I pray daily to have his companionship, as he plays the roles a best friend would.  He looks out for us, and guides us in our decisions.  Warns us of danger, teaches "the truth of all things", and brings comfort.  He fills us with feelings of peace, *hope, and love. "He is a witness or testifier of the power of God, the divinity of Christ, and the truth of the restored gospel." 

We can all feel the Holy Ghost at times, but to have his companionship always, you must be a baptized member of the church and have the gift conferred on you by a Priesthood blessing.
When I start my day by seeking the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and trying to focus on Christ, my day always goes so much better!  It is not that my situation changes, neither does it prevent my kids from acting up, or things from going wrong... but my perspective changes, I remember the big picture better, and little things don't bother me so much.  

Also I am able to better follow promptings given by the Holy Spirit, because I am "in tune" to receive them.  I might pick up on a prompting to visit a friend, to call a sibling, or to better understand the needs of my children.  I can also feel the Lord's love for me and for others much more when I have the Holy Ghost with me.

The Holy Ghost is the greatest gift we can receive!  I believe there is no better feeling, than feeling the presence of the Holy Ghost in my life!  And I feel more assurance and a surer knowledge from this spiritual sense, or feelings from the Holy Ghost, than I do from any other reasoning or tangible knowledge or evidence.
If [we] would open [our] hearts to the refining influence of this unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, a glorious new spiritual dimension would come to light.

Many times, I have relied on feelings or promptings from the Holy Ghost as I have made tough decisions in my life, or want confirmation that the path I have chosen is right for me.  I have experienced the light and truth he brings, as well as the peace, comfort, and love. What a great blessing it is to me!

If you want to learn more about the Holy Ghost, his roles, and how to keep his companionship, read this is a great talk!  "The Unspeakable Gift", by Elder Joseph B. Worthlin, of the 12 apostles.

Published by: McKell

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Charity Never Faileth

Today I made a festive autumn wreath and vase to take to some girls from church. In our congregations, we are part of a women's group called the Relief Society. Basically, we have a built-in network of friends and support wherever we go! The worldwide motto is Charity Never Faileth, and a large part of what we do is service. We seek out and help others.

Visiting teaching is one way we can be sure every woman's needs are being met. We are assigned a partner and a small number of women to get to know and visit each month. We are also asked to share a spiritual thought to discuss with them. If there is a clear or immediate way that we can help to make their lives a little easier, we offer to help! We strive to mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places (Mosiah 18:8-9)

That sounds like a big task, but if you break it down into baby steps, it is much easier to handle. Every month we meet, send a letter, drop off a goodie- really anything- to make contact with each woman on our list. We slowly aim to learn about her. As the friendship develops, we can better assess her needs and know how to serve her. It may sound a little awkward, and at the beginning, sometimes it is, but it is always nice to know that someone is looking out for you! Some of my very best friends are girls that I either visit taught or who visit taught me.

We realize that God loves all of His children and needs us to help one another out. Visiting teaching is one way that we can act as the Lord's hands to serve those around us. That may mean watching her kids so she can go to the dentist, giving her a ride if her car is in the shop, or arranging meals for the family and play dates for older children when she has a new baby. For me, it has often meant a kind, listening ear on days where I just needed a friend. For some it means someone to hold your hand while you are plagued with illness. The beauty of visiting teaching is that it transforms into whatever you need it to be. We really learn to love each other and come to understand more about the charity Jesus Christ has for us.

I am not saying that I am perfect at this, but I would like to be! Especially with my small children still at home during the day, sometimes it is difficult to do this well. But I have just been given new women to get to know and to visit, and I am excited to get going. I truly feel that this is something Christ wants us to do for one another. And that is something worth doing indeed.

Published by Jen

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

FHE and Hello Kitty Storm Troopers

Yesterday we came together for what we Mormons endearingly call Family Home Evening (or FHE for short). Every Monday night, we gather as a family to sing gospel songs, read scriptures, teach a lesson based on a gospel principle, and play a game or do some other activity. We always end with a treat! Some weeks I have planned ahead better than others; you never know what you're going to get at our house. The important thing is the consistency, as it is with many gospel-oriented things.

My older boys LOVE FHE! B prays for it every night. And they both request it most days. Last night we talked about how the Lord will never ask us to do more than we are able and will always provide a way to accomplish His commandments. For an example, we reviewed a story from the Book of Mormon. A man, Nephi, is asked by God to do the seemingly impossible, and responds by saying "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save He shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commanded them." (1 Nephi 3:7)

We wrapped up the evening with Star Wars sugar cookies that the boys helped prepare earlier in the day. As I was putting the cookies into the oven, M said, "Mom! You are SO GOOD at this!"
 However, as soon as I started decorating them (in a hurry, as the spaghetti noodles were cooking for dinner), M stated, "Umm, Mom...these look...kinda...disgusting. Why does Yoda look so sad?" My husband said my Storm Troopers looked like a combination of Hello Kitty and Angry Birds.
Ugly cookies or not, they are mostly gone by now. And the boys sat still for several minutes of scripture study. And both boys asked to have FHE again tonight! I'll call that a success.

Published by Jen

Monday, October 28, 2013

Serving Up Cupcakes!

I spent today baking!  It pretty much was an ALL DAY endeavor... not what I had planned on, but I went a little crazy and made FOUR DOZEN cupcakes!  If I'm going to all the trouble of baking, I might as well double the recipe... And then I decided, since the recipe I chose involved some waiting time (with cooking down then cooling of coconut milk), I could try another flavor too!  Add in the help of my kids, the extra bath around lunch time because they were both covered in chocolate, and 'Lil M spending most her time on my hip... it took all day.
But they were delicious!  Thanks to Cupcakes by Cami for the new recipes!  Against my nature, I actually followed the recipe too, which doesn't always happen, but today I wasn't baking for us.  
Typically, Monday nights at our house we have "Family Night".  One night a week, my husband, kids and I, all come together as a family to sing songs, pray, and have a short lesson together; the best ones, according to my kids and husband, end with a treat!  My kids are still young enough, they LOVE family night!

Today's lesson was on service.  We learned that service can be fun, AND tasty!  We took the cupcakes to our neighbors, and people from church who had a birthday this month.  B was so excited to carry the plates of cupcakes to everyone!  

We discussed that if Jesus were at our house, we would want to serve him!  We talked about the nice things we would want to do for him.  Then we read in Matthew 25:40, "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." And I explained that when we do nice things for others, it is like we are doing it for Jesus! 

Of course, family night doesn't always go as planned, and we had to finish up early because 'Lil M was tired and whining because she thought she saw a dog out the window, that she REALLY wanted to go pet!  

Oh well.  I'll finish the deliveries tomorrow.  However, family night ended with everyone happily eating cupcakes!

(If you are interested in the recipes, here is the link to Garbonzo Bean Chocolate Cupcakes and Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream Frosting... 
My favorite was the coconut ;))

Also, some of my lesson inspiration came from Parenting in the Latter-days, FHE lesson.  We didn't get much further than the scripture tonight, with all the time our deliveries took... I'll save the rest of the lesson for next week!

Published by: McKell

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Why I'm a Stay at Home Mom

Like so many of us, I had different plans in mind for when I "grew up". I am very driven and was fast-tracked for medical school. I had perfect grades and would be entering college a National Merit Scholar and technically a sophomore. My father is a highly specialized physician, as was his father before him. Also, my grandfather and great-grandfather were Deans for universities and med-schools. I have a profound appreciation for the human body and science. Both of my parents instilled in me a great love for learning and a desire to further my education as much as I could. But they taught me the importance of family and being the best mother/spouse/sister/daughter I could be as well. I wanted to do that, too, but thought that I would have several or more true 'adult' years before that materialized as a possibility. That all changed when I met my husband.

We met at the beginning of my second year of college. I had just picked neuroscience as my major and was really loading up on classes to graduate ahead of schedule. The more we dated, the more I just knew that he was the one I wanted to spend my life with. I took it to the Lord in prayer and received confirmation. Five months after we met, we were engaged. And five months after that, we were married in the temple for all of time and eternity. We both graduated the next year (he stretched out his last couple semesters and I sped mine up. My last semester I had 24 credit hours, including the two online courses I was taking) and moved across the country where he had gotten a job. This is where my true internal struggle began.

Perhaps because I was young and egocentric, or perhaps because my academics were followed by newspapers in my hometown community- that's what you get for doing nerdy competitions all the time- I really felt like there was a specific expectation for my life path. I was supposed to make a difference, make oodles of money or at least find a cure for Alzheimer's or something. And I wanted to do all of those things, really. I still do. But more important than worldly accolades, I knew what I was truly supposed to do. And that was first and foremost to have children and raise them well. A former leader of our church, President David O. McKay, said, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." That truly resonates with me! Once I caught a snippet of a program of Dr. Laura on the radio. I had never listened to her before, nor have I listened to her since; but I really liked one statement that she made. She said that she learned that she could not have just a good career and be an 'ok' or good mother at the same time. She could only do one thing at a time if she wanted to do either really well. I'm not saying that's true for everyone, and some don't have a choice regardless, but that really hit me. If I wanted to be my own version of the very best mother, I really needed to focus only on that.

This decision did not come easily, and I have had a hard time defending it to many around me. I have had friends and relatives tell me, very decidedly and rather bluntly, that I was ruining my life. Throwing away all of my potential. I cannot tell you how much those words hurt. I am not a blind follower or uninformed. I know full well what I am capable of and the impact my choices will have on my life. Some make us feel that women can only be respected if they make themselves equal to men in the workforce. But I know that I can do the most good in my home, with my children- and I would most regret missing this time with them. To my friends' and families' credit, nearly everyone who at some point had harassed me about my decision has apologized and made amends; and I do not harbor anger or resentment. I only included this to show the pressure I faced in pursuing what I know to be right for our family. 

I love the recent comments from the Apostle D. Todd Christofferson, who spoke on the moral force of women. He stated,

A woman's moral influence is nowhere more powerfully felt or more beneficially employed than in the home. There is no better setting for rearing the rising generation than the traditional family, where a father and a mother work in harmony to provide for, teach, and nurture their children. Where this ideal does not exist, people strive to duplicate its benefits as best they can in their particular circumstances.

In all events, a mother can exert an influence unequaled by any other person in any other relationship.

                                                                         My boys!

Now here I am, with my three little boys (ages 4 1/2, 3 and 7 months) and husband, and my life has never felt crazier. Frenzied, frantic, and frenetic. I fear I may never be that woman who is calm and collected and has it all under control. We may never have the house we really want or the cars we'd love to drive or make those exotic trips that would be so fantastic. But when I get the small opportunities every day to teach and observe my boys, I know I made the right choice. When my baby flashes a toothless grin when I pick him up, or my 3-year-old runs over and kisses my knee unprovoked, I know I am blessed. Or when my oldest son asks me to read him books, I can cherish the moment. It is not easy, but I can feel that it is right. And I love that at the end of each day, I feel the comfort of knowing that I am doing something good. We are together; we are happy! And nothing has brought me pure joy like watching my children grow and learn and experience life. Have I made sacrifices? Of course. But they have been worth it many times over. And they are only here and young and ours for a short time. I do plan to go back for advanced degrees, but not right now. There is a time and a season for everything- and right now, mine is with my boys and trying to teach them to be honest, hard-working, and faithful men. And I know that is where I'm supposed to be.

Published by Jen

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Decision to Marry Young

I started off my college career with big plans for myself.  I knew exactly what I wanted and I had my life all planned out.  My list of goals hanging on my closet door would help me to get there.  I planned to be a news anchor/reporter.  This dream spurred from watching the Olympics happen in Greece, and seeing our local news reporter in the midst of the action, interviewing top athletes, and exploring Greece!  “How awesome would that job be!” I thought.  Excitement, Action, Interesting People, and Traveling the world…  It still gives me tingles thinking about it.

I was attending BYU-Idaho with a hand or foot in about everything… working at the library, on the newspaper staff, singing in the choir, running cross-country, taking 18 credits, and getting into a new social circle.  Life was moving so fast, and I was loving it!

Another one of my goals was to go on an LDS church mission.  At the time, girls weren’t allowed to leave until the age of 21, so I planned for three years working on my degree, break for an 18 month mission, come back to BYU-Idaho to finish my degree, and then find a job where I could start working my way up the career ladder.  Accordingly, one of my goals was to date a lot, and have a lot of fun, but not to form any attachments with a boyfriend.  My plans with traveling, a mission, and a successful career, weren’t compatible with any serious relationships.

I grew up in a strong Mormon family, and all my years as a young woman, I was always taught, and I always planned for, the day when I would marry in the temple for time and all eternity, and then have a family.  This was also a strong goal of mine.  But my goals had an order to them, and this would fall at the end of the line.  I had places to see and things to accomplish first. 

This is why, after I had been dating Devin for a while, I had this huge internal struggle.   I liked him, A LOT!  He was five years older than me, had finished college, and he wanted to get more serious.  But he was not in my plans!  I still had a lot of college to do!  I still had a mission!  And a career as a reporter doesn’t exactly fit the wife and mother lifestyle.  He was about 4-5 years early, and he wasn’t going to sit around and wait.


We are so excited to get this blog going!  As our introductory video says, we are stay-at-home moms, and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We love our Savior, Jesus Christ, and God, our Heavenly Father.  We know there are many misconceptions about "the Mormons", and we want to help clear some of those up.  We love our church and want to help spread the gospel message!  Follow us through our journey as wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, striving to be disciples of Christ.

Also, we'd love to hear from you!  Join the conversations by adding your comments to our posts!

Posted by: McKell and Jen