Sunday, June 11, 2017


Like everyone, you have a story you want your life to tell.
[but] God doesn't love your story, He loves you.
To save your life, you'll have to lay down your stories, and minute by minute, day by day, give your life back to him...[and] Faith isn't about getting God to play a more and more central part in your story. Faith is about sacrificing your story on his altar.

-Letters to a Young Mormon, by Adam S. Miller

I've been thinking about this essay in Adam Miller's book a lot the last 9 months. That's when we found out that DMBA, Darik's insurance through his work, would start covering one limited cycle of IVF per family. I had just returned to school earlier that summer to complete my pre-requisites so I could apply for an MA in History. We were 6 years from being empty-nesters; I could get a job and we could pay off debt and travel and [sigh] we really loved our lives. I hadn't even considered having another baby since back in Virginia when an answer to prayer set me on a different path. I have not been baby hungry in over 5 years.

We had a lot to think about, and ultimately I decided that I didn't know what was on the other side of IVF, but just like 13 years ago the first time we did it - I didn't want to live my life regretting what might have been. So here we are. I am pregnant with twins. I have active lupus. I was so sick I couldn't get out of bed for all of May (Praise the Lord, I love Drugs!). I'm only 9 weeks along and I'm already bigger than I was with Eliza at 12 weeks. We hadn't planned to tell people for three more weeks but I can no longer hide my baby bump, especially from Rexburg primary kids (where I serve in my church). If there's one thing Rexburg primary kids know, it's what pregnant moms look like.

I am happy. I love babies and I love kids. But right now I'm not excited. Right now I'm anxious and nervous and mostly - just processing. I just presented my first paper on Mormon History at MHA. I don't know when I'll fit in my MA plans. But for those who have known me a long time, you might have noticed that God has always laughed at my plans for myself and then given me exactly the opposite of what I'd wanted. So, by all means, we accept your congratulations. Eliza will be a big sister of TWO. Darik and Eliza are excited. But just know I'm still....processing.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Talk 2015

Exactly eleven years ago my husband and I sat in the doctor's office as he told us our test results: unexplained infertility. He said the chances were less than 1 in 1000 that we would ever be able to have a child on our own. That Mother’s Day was not a easy day for me. Mother’s day is the source of pain for a lot of people, and not just the people who can’t have children; it was a difficult day for my foster kids as well and I know there are complicated feelings from my relatives whose mother is serving time in prison. It's even family legend that my grandmother with seven children came home from every sacrament meeting locked herself in her bedroom, cried, and wouldn't come out. There are so many ways for people to hurt on this day. It's a hard day for some. So I decided I wanted to talk about discipleship and share two experiences that have helped shape my own.  

Rewind to 2002.   It's been six months of waiting for a baby and every month we buy those pregnancy tests: so excited!!!  Just kidding, false alarm!  I'm working as the receptionist at Pres. Bednar's Office on BYU-Idaho campus.  One Tuesday Elder Grow came for devotional and spoke a little about what a blessing it has been for his family to follow the prophet and have his wife stay home with the children and not work.  There are MANY working mothers in the admin building that I see every day on the second floor.  I observed as many of these women (some had to work, single moms etc) turned off the devotional or slammed their office doors as not to hear the radio, and some blatantly stand there and criticize his words, i.e. "He has no idea what he's talking about.  Ricks College would shrivel up and die if all of the mothers went to stay home with their children." etc.  I was getting a little riled up because at this point I would have given my left arm to be able to get pregnant and stay home with a baby and I literally wanted to stand up and tell them all, "the guilty taketh the truth to be hard!".  I wrote Pres. Bednar an email and explained the situation and asked him how you know when you should bite your tongue and how you know when to make a stand and let people know they are wrong.  Thirty minutes after coming back to the office from devotional Pres. Bednar asks Betty to have me come in to his office.  (Can I just add as a 10-year postscript after being a SAHM, part-time worker, and full-time working mother -- this issue is just a little more complex than my 20 yo mind could grasp).

Here I sit, a 20 year-old, lowly receptionist in front of Pres. Bednar.  And I will be grateful until the day I die that he took the time from his schedule to teach me a little about life.  First of all he asked how long we'd been waiting for a baby.  I told him, "Six months."  The man literally laughed in my face and said, "Well first of all maybe you need to learn some patience!"  He had family members who had been trying for over 3 years, he tells me.  One day he was alone with Elder Eyring and his son's problems had been weighing on him and he asked Elder Eyring about it.  What do you say to the couple who has done everything right, who has prepared themselves their whole lives for the day when they can build a family and raise children up unto the Lord, and they remain childless?  Elder Eyring told him that the Lord doesn't send children for us to teach them, the Lord sends children for them to teach us.  The point of this life is for us to learn how to become like Him.  Sometimes that is accomplished by having children.  And sometimes the Lord determines that is accomplished by NOT having children.  Do parents learn patience, long-suffering, service, and humility from having children?  Yes.  Do couples learn the same things from NOT having children?  Yes.  So the point is for us to submit our will to the Lord's to become all that he wants us to be - no matter the path He gives us to get there.

This lesson in becoming reminds me of one of Elder Oaks’ landmark GC addresses from October 2000 The Challenge to become
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.  In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.

We qualify for eternal life through a process of conversion. As used here, this word of many meanings signifies not just a convincing and knowledge but a profound change of nature.
I have mentioned earlier that I felt I had a faith transition; I believe it was my conversion - my change of heart. I had an answer to prayer that I wasn't supposed to be a mother again and it shook my foundation pretty hard because I'd always believed the purpose of womanhood was motherhood. I started rebuilding the foundation of my faith, and instead of building it on motherhood - I built it on Christ. I tested that foundation and it was solid, something that would never change. About this same time I found a excerpt from a book written by an evangelical woman who wrote about biblical womanhood and it helped me see a path forward for me:

Proverbs 31 is a well known poem about a housewife: "who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies". It goes on to describe the life of the perfect housewife. For a long time this passage has been seen as instructions on how to be the ultimate homemaker and a woman of God. This is understandable; in a culture that often downplays the significance of a housewife, it makes sense to do all you can to restore dignity to this thankless position.

Would it surprise you to know that Christian congregations may be misinterpreting this passage? This poem was originally written in Hebrew, and Jews have a different understanding of it. An evangelical woman wrote a book about biblical womanhood and she asked her Jewish friend about this chapter during her research. Her friend explained [1]:
    “[Proverbs 31 is] packed with hyperbolic imagery, the poem is an acrostic, so the first word of each verse begins with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet in succession. This communicates a sense of totality as the poet praises the everyday achievements of an upper-class Jewish wife, a woman who keeps her household functioning day and night by buying, trading, investing, planting, sewing, spindling, managing servants, extending charity, providing food for the family, and preparing for each season. Like any good poem, the purpose of this one is to draw attention to the often-overlooked glory of the everyday.”
This woman in Hebrew is described as an “Eshet chayil,” [eshet kile]  or woman of valor —
    “The only instructive language it contains is directed toward men, with the admonition that a thankful husband should honor his wife “for all that her hands have done.” In the Jewish tradition, it is the men who memorize Proverbs 31, so they know how to honor their wives. But often it is no longer presented as a song through which a man offers his wife praise, Proverbs 31 is presented as a task list through which a woman earns it. (In fact if you search for “Proverbs 31 woman” on amazon you’ll find dozens of Christian self-help books for women.) The details of the passage have taken precedent over the message of the passage, and somehow, through the centuries, we’ve managed to turn a poem into a job description.”
 It isn’t the woman’s household accomplishments that earn her honor and praise, but her virtues of wisdom and valor. There’s another woman in the Hebrew bible that is described as an “Eshet chayil.”  She was a foreign immigrant and manual laborer. She was single and barren, and she was dirt poor. She seems the opposite of the Proverbs 31 woman. Despite all this, Ruth is described as an “eshet chayil” before becoming the wealthy, influential wife of Boaz.

Clearly it is not what you do that makes you a woman of God, it is your character. It is your discipleship. As we all strive to “become” in our discipleship, I hope we can remember and honor the men and women of character who have influenced us. I especially hope that today we can all find a way to honor the “eshet chayil,” the Women of Valor in our lives who have influenced us.

My mother is an eshet chayil - she’s taught me a lot of valuable things. She’s taught me that my voice matters, to be brave, and to not care what other people think. She taught me to challenge myself, have goals, and do the best I can every day. Above all this, my mother is an example of discipleship. 

I was once at a stake conference where the Stake Pres described parents as archers and children as arrows. It is the duty of parents to sharpen their aim (develop their own discipleship) to enable them to point their children towards the target (Christ). I remember thinking that this perfectly described my mother. Her aim has always been steady and true in her path towards bringing her children to Christ. Isn’t this the ultimate goal of every mother in the Church? To bring others to Christ?

I hope we can all find a way today to honor the "eshet chayil"- women of valor - in our own lives that have brought us closer to Christ as we move forward in our own discipleship.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Settling Down

For those of you who haven't heard a few months ago we found out we would be able to buy a house and we started looking at what is available in the local market.  Since we want this move to be our last we considered every option, and having been burned before in the past by certain decisions in our owning 4 other homes . . . weighed what's best financially and for our situation ended up buying a lot 5 blocks (about half a mile) away from where we live now (in Rexburg that's two wards away).  Turns out by living within walking distance of Darik's work we can afford to build a 1500sf ranch with a tv room downstairs (the rest unfinished) for the same cost (mort+tax+ins) as what we currently pay in rent.  Thank goodness we've saved money for a down payment over the years.  I know a few friends mentioned they wanted to see our floorplans - which were finalized this morning.

 We chose a smaller, less popular plan that we could customize (walk in pantry, mud room with bench and closet, custom wall-to-wall bookshelves in the main room, walk in closet, wood burning fireplace, extra unfinished storage downstairs, etc.)  Truly our builder is likely to be SO happy we aren't calling with any more changes!  My personality is one that studies and researches and narrowing down to the best 2-3 options available - but I'm not the most adept at actually making the final decision.  Let's just say that choosing all of the colors and materials was a nightmare for me.  Especially since Darik favors traditional and I favor more contemporary - it will be interesting to see how we make this work once we're in the home.  :-)

Timeline is to move in September, we are looking forward to having our own place that we've made our own.  Let the building begin!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What A Difference A Year Makes

Exactly one year ago Darik woke me up too early in the morning.  I had just arrived from virginia the day before (Ellie and I took 8 days to drive cross country).  Darik told me, my very first morning in Rexburg in our new home, that the power had gone out an hour ago and that it was -15* outside and it was probably a good idea to stay in bed.  I peeked out from under my blankets, looked at him with bleary eyes, muttered "ugh, I hate you!" and crawled back under the blankets.  The house hadn't been unpacked, I didn't know where anything was, and much unpacking and work lay ahead for me:
You see.  I wasn't happy to be here.  I accepted that this is where God wanted us to be, but that didn't mean I was happy with God's will.   It's been a beautiful, brutal year (brutiful for you Momastery fans out there).  Through hours and hours of thought, meditation, and prayer -- what has happened is a miracle.

January 16, 2014, started with a smile.  I woke up to snuggles in bed.  I played a video on youtube about a NYC street artist to wake up little L (she's a slow waker-upper like her mama), I took a shower, fed my family breakfast, made lunch, and got them out the door on their way before a friend I v.teach dropped off her 3 little girls for me to watch for a little while.  I played blocks, got some more cuddles, and in general had fun having littles in my house again.  When they left I got dinner ready in the crock pot.  I went into work to prepare the audit books for my boss' presentation tonight in Iona.  Came home and was super-productive working on my 2011 blog book, partitioning and formatting my hard drives, backing up my data, and doing the laundry.  It was an extremely productive day.  Darik got home from work and I was happy.

I figured out that it not only takes service, and changing your attitude, BUT if there are circumstances that could increase your happiness, and you can do something about it.  Do it.  And so I have.  I'm going through a learning curve at my job, but I like what I'm doing, I'm engaged and doing hard things.  I'm staying in contact with my dear friends from Virginia (and praying for a free plane to go visit to drop in my lap from the friend fairy).  I've made really good connections here with a few friends who understand my brand of crazy.  And I'm happy.  Really Happy. 
So I guess what I've learned is to appreciate and create my own brand of happy.  It's all around us, sometimes you just need to notice it. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

When There's Love At Home

A few months ago Darik and I took some communications classes at the same time we signed up for a workshop on campus taught by seniors (for their capstone) based on the book by John Gottman "Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child." While it was a bit weird to be in a parenting class filled with BYU-Idaho students whose oldest child was 2, learning about parenting.  We were the same age as the professor in the class who observed :-)  But Ellie and I had increasingly been butting heads and struggling relationship wise, in addition to her issues of struggling identifying and processing her passionate emotions about all things - and I thought it could be helpful.

What was interesting is a lot of the principles we learned in our communications class were the same things applied in the parenting class - there was a lot of overlap. 

My parenting style had been much more love-and-logic (calm down times, etc) style and while taking this class I realized I probably was applying some things wrong.  For example:  in the BYUI class we were taught to always be emotionally honest with your child.  Always identify and communicate your emotions: whether you're angry, sad, etc.  That trust is built on honesty and finding a way to express anger and sadness in productive instead of destructive ways.  In love and logic I remember the class we took 5 years ago talking about never letting your kids see you lose your cool.  So if you're about to crack, not to let them see it - because it shows they can push your buttons and they'll do it again more next time.  So I started being fake with my emotions, while most kids would process this fine it had profound effects on Ellie & I.  So I sat down and had a serious mano-y-mano talk it out about how we both needed to work on getting along. I used the things we were taught in class mixed with things we were taught in our foster care classes to come up with this idea:
 An important step in both the communications class and parenting class was to identify, label, and discuss your emotions.  If Ellie didn't want to talk to us about how she is feeling, she could go and choose one of the color-coded emotion labels off the wall and put them on her body poster.  We haven't been SUPER active with this (because she always digs in her heels when she knows we want her to do something), BUT having this and applying the principles from our classes has transformed our relationships and the feeling in our home (also the other thing that helped I think was combining this with her love language {physical} and let her come in and cuddle every morning).  I never could have imagined how many more times we have experienced those magic moments of connecting and loving each other. 

The idea for this post came from a moment this morning when Ellie was expressing love and I was just SO overcome with gratitude for my little family and the Love We Have in Our Home.  And I thought this post went along perfectly with my theme for this year.  :-)

p.s.  Here is the handout from the parenting class we took if you are interested.  Although I recommend the book as well.

Monday, January 13, 2014

January, part 1

 I'll start with randomness:  1) my incredulity that third graders are learning and being graded on exponent and times tables.  I didn't learn times till fourth grade and exponents until seventh.  Makes it especially frustrating when said daughter is still back on addition/subtraction and being tested much higher.  2) Darik's incredulity when I clean the bathroom !  3)  Our combined incredulity at Ellie choosing a 2 liter of soda during a Saurey Family Reunion gift exchange.  And un-incredulity at her refusal to grant me a smile.  4) Yay, I'm the primary chorister again!!
 We brought Ellie and her best friend to the Golden Dragon Acrobat show on campus.  They are good at selfies.  And the show was amazing - I'm so sensitive I could hardly watch, their contortions had me wincing in pain.  And the guy who stacked 10 chairs to balance on them 3 stories up?  I have no ability to process that in a healthy way.  My only comment to Darik about the show was, "I guess this is what China does with their aged-out Olympic gymnasts that they took from their homes as toddlers to train for gold medals."  Obviously they were gymnasts who learned acrobatics.  Interesting. 
PS Whose dad is the best dad and makes the most amazing snow-fort in the world that becoes the envy of the neighborhood?  Oh yeah, that's right, Ellie's dad.

Thursday, January 09, 2014


So lately I've realized that people I really admire (in pop culture and society) and like are people who are really authentic.  People who thrive in being their own quirky, different selves and encourage others to do so.  So not that anyone cares, but these are some of my favorite peoples:
Maggie Stiefvater, author
She dresses her goats in tshirts, drag races her custom painted Camaro, is an award winning artist, raises children, loves husband, is generally a great person to follow on twitter.  

"When I hit 17 and 18 -- I was suicidal.  Everything was great . . . but I looked at the adults around me and thought that I didn't see a single one I wanted to be when I grew up.  I did, however see a lot of people I didn't want to be."  {later}  "Because really, I didn't understand then that if I didn't see the world I wanted around me, I could make myself a world that I wanted.  I didn't think one person could change anything.  I didn't realize that I could find people like me and fill my life with them."

"I'm a dirt road out in the country kind of person, but I remember thinking, I could live in Chicago."

"In the end, you have to write like you're not afraid of the critics."
Jennifer Lawrence, actress
as gorgeous as she is, this GIF is one of the best parts of her authenticity.  there are many women as beautiful as her, but very few as authentic and comfortable enough with who she is to just be herself 

“If I don’t have anything to do all day, I might not even put my pants on.” – responding to a question in Glamour about what she does in her free time

“Sorry! That was phlegm. That was so powerful. I’m like a dragon!” – after coughing on David Letterman 

“Backstage, I just peed like every 3 seconds. I think your staff thinks I have diarrhea.” – doing her thing on Chelsea Lately

"I'm the fastest pee-er ever," she told Rolling Stone  in 2012. "I'm famous for it."
 Ellen, needs no introduction
there is no other person I can think of that encourages people to dance like nobody's watching

“Who's to say what's better or worse anyway? Who's to even say what's normal or average? We're all different people and we're allowed to be different from on another. If someone ever says you're weird, say thank you. And then curtsy. No, don't curtsy. That might be too weird. Bow. And tip your imaginary hat. That'll show them.”
Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously... I'm Kidding  

“So be who you really are. Embrace who you are. Literally. Hug yourself. Accept who you are. Unless you're a serial killer.”
Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously... I'm Kidding

“I personally like being unique. I like being my own person with my own style and my own opinions and my own toothbrush.”
Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously... I'm Kidding 

“Beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It's about knowing and accepting who you are.”
Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously... I'm Kidding  

“Laugh. Laugh as much as you can. Laugh until you cry. Cry until you laugh. Keep doing it even if people are passing you on the street saying, "I can't tell if that person is laughing or crying, but either way they seem crazy, let's walk faster." Emote. It's okay. It shows you are thinking and feeling.”
Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously... I'm Kidding  

“Find out who you are and figure out what you believe in. Even if it's different from what your neighbors believe in and different from what your parents believe in. Stay true to yourself. Have your own opinion. Don't worry about what people say about you or think about you. Let the naysayers nay. They will eventually grow tired of naying.”
Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously... I'm Kidding 

 Mindy Kaling, Actress, Writer, Comedian
writer, producer, actress in my favorite show.  

“I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well meaning, but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?’”  Mindy in Parade Magazine.

“If someone called me chubby, it would no longer be something that kept me up late at night. Being called fat is not like being called stupid or unfunny, which is the worst thing you could ever say to me. Do I envy Jennifer Hudson for being able to lose all that weight and look smokin’ hot? Of course, yes. Do I sometimes look at Gisele Bundchen and wonder how awesome life would be if I never had to wear Spanx? Duh, of course. That’s kind of the point of Gisele Bundchen. And maybe I will, once or twice, for a very short period of time. But on the list of things I want to do in my lifetime, that’s not near the top. I mean, it’s not near the bottom either. I’d say it’s right above “Learn to drive a vespa,” but several notches below “film a chase scene for a movie.”
Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  

“If I’m at a party where I’m not enjoying myself, I will put some cookies in my jacket pocket and leave without saying good-bye.”
Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? 

"Mindy is exceptionally smart, but is not afraid to talk about nail polish.  And yet her love of nail polish does not take away from her smartness.  In a perfect world, she would take my SATs for me, and then we would go to the mall together."   Steve Carrell on Mindy Kaling

“In my mind, the sexiest thing in the world is the feeling that you’re wanted.”
Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?    

So my other honorable mentions are:  Shannon Hale, Glennon Melton, Zooey Deschanel, Anna Kendrick, etc.