Tag: testimony

General Conference, Easter and Complacency

This is more a post for my Mormon readers.  Thanks.

What a marvelous weekend I just experienced.  It’s not that often when LDS General Conference and Easter line up but it happened this year.  This adds a special spirit to the  meeting beyond what is normally felt.  A special focus on Christ and his teachings that I was very moved by.

It was a low key Easter/Conference weekend for me. I had to get some work done for projects this week.  (Very stressful week at work because my supervisor is quitting on Thursday!).

But I started out the day making waffles and having a yummy brunch all to myself.

brunchMy cousin  Danielle and her husband Cory then came over for dinner Sunday night which was a lot of fun.  They are two of my favorite people and I love spending time with them.  I made split pea soup out of ham I had served last time they had come to visit.   This is the soup before it was cooked.  I added real peas this time for the first time and it was very yummy and healthy for an Easter dinner.

split pea soup

I had hardly any candy this Easter which I guess was a good thing but felt a little strange.  We did have brownies with dinner but no Easter baskets or treats this year (I’m 34 so I suppose that should be expected).  In a way it kind of reminds me of my recent Christmas where I was alone and had a low key, kind of ordinary day.  I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bit sad because I’d love to have a partner to share things with but it’s just not what God has seen for me at this time.

Anyway, at least I got to see my cousins which was great and hear from my church’s prophet President Monson and apostles for 2 days.

conference tweetingI also tweeted during conference as I have done for several years.  I tried to keep it a little smaller than in previous years but I enjoyed reading others insights into talks and formulating my own.  Tweeting helps me because it involves multiple senses than if I was simply listening to the talks.

It was an immensely gratifying conference and I feel inspired to improve. One of the big themes of conference which struck me is to avoid complacency in gospel living.  To be anxiously engaged in good causes and increasing your testimony of light and truth.

This talk by my Mother’s cousin Kevin W Pearson was very moving.  Stay close to the tree:

I also loved Elder Nielson where he shared the story of his sister who left the church and for many years was disaffected but came back.  It was moving on many levels.

President Eyring spoke on fasting and reminded me to try harder to live that principle. It’s a principle that I have never had a great testimony of so I know I need to work on it.

Elder Holland told a moving story about 2 brothers rock climbing and how they were able to rescue each other.  He brought home powerfully our need to reach out to those around us and offer love, support and rescue.

Finally we got to hear from the prophet.

There were some dissenters at the sustaining on Sunday which I found extremely distasteful.  These people don’t seem to understand the church they are a part of.  This is not a democracy but a church led by revelation from God. They had their moment in the sun and got their interviews with media I am sure so good for them but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t extremely rude and disrespectful.

Anyway, I do believe President Monson is a prophet just like Moses and Abraham were prophets who spoke for God.  I believe in Jesus Christ and His great Easter gift for all of us.  That He alone as the Son of God could suffer and die and free us from sin and death.  I know because I have felt the holy witness reaffirm it to me again and again.  It has given me everything in my life and even on those lonely afternoons when I wish I could be surrounded by a family of my own I know that Jesus loves me and has given me His truths. For that I am so grateful.

On a totally random note I went to see Furious 7 on Saturday and the review came out pretty good.  Check it out.

Did any of you get to listen to Conference?  I hope you all had a lovely Easter/Passover weekend.

Merry Christmas 2013

Just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas!  I’ve got a bit of a sinus infection today but other than that this holiday season has been perfect.  A dream come true.  I am so grateful for my family coming to Utah for the holidays.  Especially being sick I am SOOO grateful that I don’t have to travel right now.

I am also grateful for my house and the chance I’ve had to make it a Christmas home with lights outside and my first real tree inside.  I am grateful for my memory ornaments and twinkle lights.  I’m grateful for the tree in my room and the goodies I’ve made in my kitchen.  I’m grateful to have a home that I love, a wonderful roommate and amazing tenants leaving and great one’s moving in.

Holiday Decor
Holiday Decor

I am grateful for the stories of Christmas whether it be in a movie, book or play I love Handel’s music, Scrooge’s redemption, Ralphie’s red rider bee-bee gun, or George Bailey’s epiphany.  I like the sappy movies on Hallmark and all the Christmas carols even the silly one’s.  I love the gifts I was able to give this year and excited to get a few tomorrow.

I am grateful for our Christmas traditions of German food and a nativity play.  I also had a lot of fun spending time with my siblings this week including playing games yesterday and getting Christmas manicures with 2 of my sisters.

Nativity play.
Nativity play.
I got a Christmas card from the main office today and it meant a lot to me. Being a telecommuter it was nice to hear their words
I got a Christmas card from the main office today and it meant a lot to me. Being a telecommuter it was nice to hear their words
Our traditional German meal
Our traditional German meal

Most importantly I am grateful for Jesus Christ.  His birth, life, suffering and death makes it possible for all of us to be redeemed from sin and despair.  He has walked where we have walked . He has understood all and he loves us like nobody else could.  I know he is my Savior and He has never forgotten  me even when it seemed I was totally alone He was there. Gloria! His name be praised.

I hope He is with you this time of year and always.  Thank you for all your support on the blog and the love and fun we have together.  Thank you and Merry Christmas!!!!

To any of you that are alone this Christmas, I’ve been there and love you.  Christ loves you.  You’ll get through it and next year you may find you’ll have the best Christmas ever.  I know what that is like. 🙂


Secret Prayer

There is a hymn in my church called Secret Prayer. It has been a favorite of mine since the mission.  Here is a cool version by The Lower Lights:

I love the lyrics:

  1. 3. When sailing on life’s stormy sea,
    ‘Mid billows of despair,
    ‘Tis solace to my soul to know
    God hears my secret prayer.
  2. 4. When thorns are strewn along my path,
    And foes my feet ensnare,
    My Savior to my aid will come,
    If sought in secret prayer

Do you ever have moments where you learn He really is giving you aid and strength?  There are things which I struggle with that I literally can not share fully with anyone on this earth.  There are issues that everyone else thinks I have moved on from which still cause me great pain and sorrow.  For example, each time I think of my grandpa’s passing I miss him and wish he were here to love me.

I also think about the times when I was in the billows of despair and God was there for me in secret prayer.  Its interesting that in my novel my readers all were amazed at how much the character based on me prays.  If anything I lightened it from the actual time period.  Prayer and my friends were the only thing that kept me going in a time I just couldn’t shake the unhappiness away.

I had a cool experience this week.  One of the amazing things about open water swimming as a plus size girl is I have been able to open up the world of competitive athletics for many other girls in a variety of sports.  Girls can look at me and say ‘she looks like me, maybe I can do that too?’.

One such example is my friend Abby.  She saw some of my posts about swims and thought maybe she’d give it a try.

First she asks Can I be ready then?
First she asks Can I be ready then?
You totally could- my response
You totally could- my response

So she trained and lo and behold in September she rocked it having a time under 50 minutes.  She will have to correct me on the exact time.  We have kept in touch this year and I’ve been able to motivate others to enter races and swim.  Abby and I even met this summer.  Super fun.

Here we are with Etsuko


Then the time for her race was coming and I was having a stressful week thinking about Slam the Dam and whether I could make the time limit, not to mention returning home from a trip and getting caught up.  Its of doubt no surprise that I was up all night most nights this week.  (Including tonight I might add).

Eventually 2 am hit and still no sleep Thursday night.  What was bothering me?  Suddenly I had a moment of clarity and I knew I had to ‘help my friend Abby’ but what can a person do when there are barely 24 hours before the event?   On a whim I decided to see if there were florists that would do same day delivery where she lived.  (luckily she had given me her address at Christmas!).  Fortunately there was such a place and the flowers were delivered.

I kind of thought nothing of it until I got a tweet from Abby late last night.  It truly touched me.  Unbeknownst to me she’d had a terrible week and was about to give up on the race when the flowers came.

spiritTo all of you out there- you do have at least one friend who really cares.  I believe in the gifts of the spirit and one of mine is to believe, never doubting.  The other is to love people.  I seem to feel deeply attached to people on very small acquaintances and it has served me quite well in life.

I do have my secret pains that will never go away.  They will never be the same but I also have my secret prayers and loved one’s that are anxiously trying to answer those prayers on the Lords behalf.  They are listening to the spirit and acting upon it and I occasionally get that opportunity myself.  It is a transcendent moment in life.

There is an hour of peace and rest,

Unmarred by earthly care;
‘Tis when before the Lord I go
And kneel in secret prayer.
The straight and narrow way to heav’n,

Where angels bright and fair
Are singing to God’s praise, is found
Thru constant secret prayer.

I hope to be constant in my secret prayers and always have his angels to assist me.

We are in His hands





The Book of Mormon: My Testimony

There has been a youtube movement called ‘The Two Minute Book of Mormon Challenge’.  This is a channel set aside for people to bear their testimonies about the Book of Mormon.

Here is the introduction on the channel:


Someone from the site asked me to contribute and I finally was able to put my feelings into words and on to video.  It ended up being 4 minutes but I think you’ll forgive me.


One time I was driving with my brother and he was debating various points of doctrine with me and I said to him ‘you know when I read that book I just know its true’ and its really as simple as that.  When I read it I know its true.  I don’t need any other witness than that.  I know the covenants it teaches are real.  I know the faith and priesthood has power.  I know there was a dark ages and then truth was restored and it all comes down to my witness of The Book of Mormon.

I repeat my warning I gave of previous religious posts.  I will not post any comments that are disrespectful or unkind (and that goes for youtube too).  Have enough courtesy to understand that people feel differently about these things and maybe listen for something that could strengthen your own faith.

I hope you all have a great Sunday!  And if you have any questions, would like to meet with representatives or receive a copy of The Book of Mormon go to http://mormon.org/eng

book-of-mormon 2-BookOfMormonCoverPage.480x480-75

Knowing in Your Heart

My awesome friend Adrienne has just started a blog about her experiences coming back to the Mormon church in a unique way. http://agnosticmormonmom.blogspot.com/

Her thoughts about creating a ‘hope testimony’ made me think about how I have reconciled the same issues for myself.  I love that she has found a happy solution in her life and am totally inspired by her efforts, and it made think about me and my own unique internal struggle to believe.

I suppose it is easy to think on such things when tragedy strikes as it did today in Boston.  My friend Tracy, frequent commenter on this blog, was racing and even though I don’t know her well I felt great concern for her safety.  It just made it all feel more real to know someone there.  It also struck home because I participate in group sporting events all the time.   Each time I enter a masters meet or a marathon swim I put my trust in strangers.  I hope that goodness and a spirit of friendly competition will prevail and thankfully it always has.

Anyway, back to my own reconciliation of faith.  Here’s how I feel.  There are some things I know in my mind and some things I know in my heart.  I know that 2+2=4 in my mind.  That is a truth.   I know that my name is Rachel Wagner and that my parents are John and Jane.  I know any number of facts and data.  I also know that gravity is a true principle.  I know that being a good listener is important to relationships.  There are a lot of things I know in my mind and many more things that I need to learn.

Then there are things I know in my heart.  I know my parents love me because I have felt it in my heart.  I know that good and evil exist because I have felt the presence of both in my soul or heart. I know when something is just and also unjust.  I can’t explain it but I know. I know that my Heavenly Father lives and loves me because I have felt it in my heart.

Do I have any proof of this?  Yes, the proof is in my heart.  That is not proof I can transfer to another individual easily but it is nevertheless truth (why the righteous virgins could not give their lamp oil to another.  They could just as easily rip out their hearts).  That is the reason I can say I ‘know the church is true’.  Not because of data or statistics.  It’s because I know it in my heart.  I have felt it again and again and living its principles has always left me with a confirmation in my heart.

Do I blame people for not believing?  No.  I think they all can have this same confirmation, but it takes a sincere and willing heart coupled with the correct timing of God. As Moroni says “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. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.  ”  He is not talking about a worldly manifestation.  Such data and facts are not the kind of thing that can stabilize a life.  They can often be disproven and explained away with the next passing fad.  Knowledge in your heart is a different story.

It can be a concept that is  is hard to explain.  All I can say is I know the gospel is true in my heart.  I got a witness when I was a young girl and it has never steered me wrong or abandoned me.  It has always been in my pocket for hard times.  I know in my heart that President Monson is a prophet and that God reveals his promises to all of his children in all eras. I know in my heart that families can be eternal and that covenants are real.  I know in my heart that the priesthood is real and direct authority from Christ.

That’s what makes sense to me. So you can tell me all kinds of data about Joseph Smith, Church history, or the Book of Mormon and it does not matter because such data is not what my testimony is about.  (and yes I’ve heard it ALL before). The Book of Mormon could be based on a cartoon and I wouldn’t care.  My testimony is not about any of the data.  Its a truth from the heart.

I believe this is even true for God.  He knows how weak and frail we are.  He has all that data of every moment that we reject Him; yet His heart loves anyway.   This is why I have always thought of a testimony as a relationship with God.  Just as relationships with humans ebb and flow so does our relationship with God.  Relationships are not based on data but on the heart. Data also has finite limits; whereas, a relationship can always be better, stronger, more in-depth and close.

I would challenge all of you to think about how you know or do not know and how life makes sense for you?  Have the integrity to write it out and  share it.  There is no judgment here- Merely a process of figuring out this crazy thing called mortality.  Maybe I can learn something from you, and you learn something from me?  Maybe we can learn something in our minds and hearts?

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” Ephesians 3:17.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Collossians 3:15


PS. I think it goes without saying that my thoughts and prayers go out to the city of Boston, all the runners and all affected by the tragedy.

Some of my other religious posts




Mormon Feminism

Today as I drove home from my work in Syracuse and I started listening to some old podcasts.  One of them was from Radio West an episode called Mormon Feminism.   It was a pretty good, well-rounded discussion and it started me thinking about my own unique viewpoint on the topic.

As everyone knows I have always had a strong sense of self and fierce independent nature.  (My first word was STOP if that tells you anything).  If I wasn’t leading I’d rather not play, if it wasn’t my idea it was never as satisfying.  Still to this day I would rather fail on my own account than succeed hanging on to the coat tails of someone else.

With this nature it is perhaps surprising that I found an acceptance of my Mormon faith so easily.  I have always believed.  Recently I read through my old journals and I could not find a period of my life where I doubted- sure I’d have a day here or a day there, a few questions, but never a real stage of doubt.   The scriptures talk about gifts of the spirit and I believe an accepting, faithful nature, coupled with my stubbornness, is my gift.

The only real confusion I remember having was understanding my role in the world and church as a woman.  As I have mentioned before on this blog the idea of motherhood was not innately appealing to me.  My mother had very difficult pregnancies and I had to sacrifice a lot for my siblings to come into the world.  As far as I was concerned babies were nothing but an overwhelming, confining trial.  I certainly wasn’t and never have been an ooey-gooey baby person.

I have also never felt I fit the Mormon definition of the ideal woman.  Often in young women or in some talks I’d hear phrases like this:

femininity “is the divine adornment of humanity. It finds expression in your … capacity to love, your spirituality, delicacy, radiance, sensitivity, creativity, charm, graciousness, gentleness, dignity, and quiet strength. It is manifest differently in each girl or woman, but each … possesses it. Femininity is part of your inner beauty. (President Faust)

I’m sorry but I never felt like I was delicate, charming, gracious, gentle or quietly strong.   How could we all be the same and what did that mean for little independent me?  I also wanted to know, if women were so special, why?  It almost seemed unfair to the men to make us more innately worthy so that men had to be given value?

It took me years to answer these questions (not that I have a perfect answer now but I’ve come a long way).  Again, I remind you that my faith in the gospel never wavered.  I just had questions and that’s OK.   In fact, it is encouraged by the church.  Elder Angel Abrea of the Seventy said it well:

“I’m sure that many questions have come to your mind. The truth is that you will not be condemned for wondering or questioning if you make a sincere effort to find the answer. Our mental powers have been given to us to use. Faith based on personal prayer, study, and obedience is more lasting than blind faith; it is more rewarding, and for sure it is better grounded.”

So how did I go through this questioning process?  Well, it started with formulating the questions when I was young and then at BYU  I started getting answers.  I read everything I could on the topic- both Mormon and traditional feminist authors (even read the Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan and found it very insightful).    In those college years I studied polygamy, read female pioneer journals, wrote a heated paper on the women of the Mormon Battalion (I remember my Book of Mormon teacher was shocked! Oh well!) and asked questions of everyone I came in contact with.

I also studied much on the reality of self and what makes a human being, whether male or female, interact successfully with others. But by far my most impactful experience was taking a class called the Political Economy of Women.  At the time it was taught by two dynamite professors named Valarie Hudson and Donna Lee Bowen (to read more about Valarie’s remarkable life check out her Wikipedia page).  They are both inspirational, amazing women.

In the class, we read a huge assortment of articles and books on every issue you could  imagine facing women.  Sometimes it was brutal such as the class on female circumcision where I literally left the classroom and threw up.   While painful, it was also eye-opening.

After such an awakening, we learned about a variety of the world’s solutions including everything from small micro-loans to domestic violence laws.  Through this class I gained a deep appreciation for the work being done to help all women live full, healthy, happy lives.

Finally, we discussed the gospel and its view of womanhood in great detail.  While difficult to summarize here I learned a lot about the eternal equality of men and women, the great need both genders had for each other, the value of Eve’s role in the Garden story, and the importance of stewardship in creating Zion.

Human beings are weak and find Zion-living very difficult.  This is why God gives us jobs to do while here and some of those jobs (or stewardships) can be carved along gender lines.  As anyone knows who has been, in the temple the differences between male and female roles are much fuzzier- because in the temple we are that much closer to equality or Zion.

While I found this knowledge comforting I was still left with a question about my own capabilities as an eternal woman.  I did not feel like a steward of all things womanly.  This thought nagged in the back of my head for many years.  On my mission I felt empowered by the sheer good I could do and how my nature was needed by individuals I taught.  It was the beginning of my understanding of my unique worth.

Then one day when I returned I read Acts 10:34-35

“God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him”

This scripture really hit home.  God and Jesus Christ accepted me.  Me, with all my idiosyncrasies and stubborn ways.  If I tried my best to follow His teachings, then He accepted me.

I made this discovery when I was going through a rough period.  I hated my job. For a time I felt worthless, like there was a black cloud over my life that I couldn’t remove.  With these sad feelings; however, also came an understanding that God had a plan for my life- that my life mattered.  When I quit my job it was not just a change of career but an acknowledgment of divine potential.  It was one of the best days of my life.

Over the years I have come to my own definition of Mormon feminism.  Feminism, to me, means being free, as a woman, to live whatever life you want.  If that means having babies, have babies.  If it means working, work.  Whatever you want to do as a woman, you should be allowed to do.  It is your choice.  Certain choices lead to different levels of joy,  just like the choice of leaving my job drastically affected my happiness; however, in the end it was my choice.  It is my choice to be faithful, my choice to embrace the gospel, and everyone should have that right.  Our national, state and local laws should support a women’s ability to make these choices; as well as protect her from individuals who seek to limit the freedom of women through abuse, unfair treatment or any other unjust action .  I am a Mormon Feminist!

Hey maybe my independent spirit isn’t so different from God’s plan after all and just maybe God loves me because of my unique nature not in spite of it?

PS- this was a hard post to write and feel satisfied in my phrasing.  I hope you get an idea for the questions I’ve asked and the peace I’ve discovered in my life. Love Rachel

Journaling My Life

“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior” Christina Baldwin

A collection of my journals/diaries

In the last few weeks I have learned a lot about myself through a voyage into my journals.  Since I was 8 years old I have kept one fairly regularly.  (I tell people I was a blogger from an early age.)

My sister and I both grew up avid writers. This, despite the fact that neither of my parents have ever kept a journal.  I am not sure where we picked it up? I know reading The Diary of Anne Frank was a big influence as well as the stories about romantic writers such as Jo March in Little Women and Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables.  I have also always loved letter writing (something my parents do not have any interest in either.)  From the earliest entries I have addressed my journal in letter form- beginning with ‘Dear Friend,’ and ending with some variation of ‘Love, Rachel’.

I must admit as I look at the ramblings of a young me it is hard to not feel nostalgic for the past.  In fact, a massive variety of emotions ensue upon opening each book.   Some of the experiences I recall vividly, such as the despair I felt at the passing of my beloved Grandpa  and cousin Lisa in 2001 within 2 weeks of each other. Other moments I’d forgotten about or remembered with a different slant. For instance, with each of my mother’s pregnancy I express feelings of fear and anxiety. (I recall this being a difficult time but I don’t remember being scared.)  On one such occasion after she had the baby I write I feel like  “a million blocks were taken off my shoulders” (October 7, 1996).

Several other themes stuck out to me as I read.  First is how often I talk about being tired, sore, exhausted, and worn out- even at the very young ages of 8 and 9.  How I wish I could reach out to the young me and give her the answers I now have?  I was probably experiencing a sugar high/low and didn’t know it!  Some people have doubted my story of struggling with weight from the age of 8-9.  Well, here’s a picture from 1990.

I still say a darn cute, if pudgy faced kid

This was a year later.  Don’t you just love the rockin fireplace background and the crimped hair!

From this young age I just kept gaining and could never figure out why

It also surprises me how much I thought about weight and how often I refer to getting in shape. For some reason, I have this picture of me as a mostly-confident kid, and I think in some ways I was, but obviously I had many moments of self-doubt, frustration and perhaps even self-loathing.

Many of the entries are predictable and probably full of the kind of details only interesting to me- grades in school, various friends over the years, squabbles with my family (some I hope the particular family members never read!) and other going’s-on in a young life.  One thing I’ve realized is that I was very independent growing up, but I was also in constant need of validation- validation from others that my choices were correct. Whether it was my taste of music, friends, books, movies, or activities I was almost never satisfied just to like something for my own fulfillment.  I’m not sure why this is but I recognize I still have some of this trait.  To a lesser extent,  but it’s still there.

The other lesson I take from reading these journals is my constant faith in the LDS Church, the Book of Mormon, God’s love  and in Christ’s sacrifice for my sins.  In years of chronicling my inner-most thoughts I do not have one entry expressing doubt or questioning.  I’m not saying I never did, but not in a dramatic, extended way.

October 21, 199o says (I have fixed the spelling but that is all), “I love the Lord and Jesus Christ and love it even more when you go to a place and have a great feeling and that place is the place where sins vanish.  In the stake center or church building when you are baptized and confirmed.”

Much later as a high school student I said, “I’m so grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  He is my comforter and my best friend and I love him dearly.  It’s hard for me to comprehend what He did for all of us but I am grateful that he did.  I was once asked ‘ who in history I would like to meet’…My answer was decidedly sure.  I’d meet Jesus.  There is no one who has done more for me.” (April 2, 1999).

I love this photo. I was a senior in high school. I loved getting studio shots because they were rare and somehow I felt they made me look thin

I could give many more examples, but suffice it to say I am grateful for my faith and the grounding, comforting influence it has been throughout my life.  I think I would have been a lonely fat little girl/teen without it.

On a funny note, almost every angry, venting entry  has something to do with not wanting to work.  There is a hilarious diatribe about gardening (to this day I still detest gardening above all other chores):

Sept 4, 1995, “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself.  I wish my mother took this more to heart. Want- a garden, Way- have kids do all the work, Profit- a bunch of food you can buy in the store and is moldy anyway.”

Another entry from 1993 puts it more bluntly. (I was disappointed on this day because we were supposed to go boating but it was cold so we ended up working instead.  Also, a friend was supposed to come over but couldn’t. ):

“I finished cleaning my room.  When I grow up I am never going to make my kids do work.”  There are a lot of other examples-  my poor parents! Somehow they taught me to become a workaholic? (Well, my mission taught me that, but they helped!)

this is another one from my senior photos that I've always loved. One of the best photos ever taken of me.

I just wanted to share one more entry from June 1, 2000:

“Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me? I seem to see the world through different color glasses than everyone else.  In some ways I suppose that I am more well-liked for my peculiar nature but I still wonder why I have it? Well, I suppose I will never know and if years from now, dear friend, I am reading this and have figured the answer out, I ask only that I share that knowledge with friends and family who will most likely find it most interesting as I am sure they have long been wondering what makes me tick”

Sorry friends and family…I’m still working on the answer to that question! Thanks for putting up with me anyway.

Happy Easter! Christ is Risen

I don’t have long to write this Easter morning, but I have been contemplating my relationship with Jesus Christ lately.  It amazes me how His sacrifice could be both intimate and infinite.  While every single person who ever lived is saved from sin and despair, I have also been saved.  His grace and power coupled by divine love and empathy gives me the strength to live my life with purpose and obedience.   What a comfort it is to know that because He conquered death and was resurrected on the third day- we all can live again with our loved ones.  In my limited experience with such things the knowledge of eternal life and resurrection was truly a balm of Gilead.  It is my greatest desire to follow Him and be a worthy disciple.  I love Him and know that His church has been restored. He truly did die for my sins and sorrows- as He did for yours.  I have gained this knowledge through personal prayer, scripture study and the promptings of the Holy Ghost to my heart.  I hope you all have a wonderful Easter morning and that you try to find ways to be more like Jesus Christ every day.  Build up your testimony and then strengthen others. This is the way you will be Happy in life!  God bless.


“Her mothering influence has been felt by many hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, and she has refined the role of nurturer to an art form” Julie Beck.

For years quotes like the above would make me groan and roll my eyes.  To many of my Mormon friends this may seem surprising, even shocking.  How could I have such feelings about the divine roll of motherhood? I believe there are several complicated reasons for my unique views going back to my childhood.

When I was 10 years old my mother and father announced they were expecting a baby.   In my young years I was nothing but excited about such news.  In fact, a number of friends mom’s had babies and I was excited to be part of the trend.  My father must have approached the news with more trepidation because he knew what a pregnancy meant for my mom.  While no doubt excited to have more children, my parents knew that having a baby meant nearly-full bed-rest for my mother.   At the time my dad was working to start his own software company and I can’t imagine what the stress must have been like knowing he was about to be both bread-winner and substitute mom for three children.  No doubt there was many a prayerful night pleading to have the strength for his family and this new treasured baby.

Being a selfish child it was hard for me to see my mother in bed- especially in the beginning when she had both morning sickness and bed-rest.  However, there were many positive life-lessons that came from this first pregnancy.  I have memories of my sister and I (at 8 and 10) cooking meals for the family during that pregnancy.  I know that Megan used to make muffins of all kinds (she still does).  I remember when my dad brought home 10 lbs of barbecued beef because we had said we liked it once!  I remember when Ben got mice and they had babies in the middle of the night (that was the one event my mother got out of bed for!).  I remember when I tried to make maui smoothie for my mom and the blender exploded all over the kitchen (thanks to a kind neighbor for helping us with that one!).   I even remember Megan’s baptism with a pregnant Mom in Winter- she did attend that event.

Clearly we learned a lot about working hard, caring for a house, cleaning, and taking care of a baby.  On the negative side I learned that baby’s were hard work.  Hard work that took both of my parents away from my life (again selfish child). This was amplified by our move across the country to Maryland when Anna was a year old.  So now I had to make new friends in a new place while still adjusting to a new sibling.

Somehow I made it through the tough middle school years and was ready to start high school.  You can imagine my mixed feelings when in January of that year my parents announced another pregnancy.  This is when my little brother Sammy was born.  Once again we had to go through the experience of my mother being sick and bed-ridden, except for this time we had to do it with a 5 year old to take care of.  It was a good thing my dad was an independent businessman who worked at home, or I don’t know how he could have done it. I give him a lot of credit for holding down our family during those times.

Still for selfish me, it wasn’t enough.  In my eyes my parents weren’t around for my high school events the way my friend’s parents were- and I blamed it on the care of a baby.  I am not saying this was the right way to look at the situation.  My friends would spend weekends in DC exploring, take trips to the nearby beaches (something we never did the entire time we lived in Maryland), and visit historical attractions.  This was very difficult with an infant and a 5 year old.

I also had a very independent, prideful  streak (and still do to a lesser extent) that refused to admit to any of these feelings or discuss them with my parents.  Instead, I became super active with my friends and felt my family were a bunch of people I couldn’t really relate too.  Luckily for my parents I also gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon at this time so I didn’t rebel the way I might otherwise have.  At the time, Ben and Megan seemed like the similar ones, who longed to be at home.  I just didn’t feel that way. Like many teenagers I felt different, out of place, and even a little lonely.  I wanted to get out and explore the world.  I did what I could in little Middletown but deep down inside I wanted more.  This is where I first latched onto the idea of going to BYU, and I never gave up on that dream. This is also the time when I wanted to move out on my own more than anything else (my mother says I was ready to move out when I was a baby!).

Adding to my feelings was a young womens program (fantastic in many ways) that in my eyes focused way too much on motherhood.  I felt like every lesson was on motherhood and how wonderful it was.  These lessons failed to describe the bed-rest, labor, nightly care, isolation, and hard work baby’s need.  I felt like they were living some different version of motherhood than my family presented.  I grew to resent these messages, even in Conference.  I have never taken well to being told what to do and with motherhood I felt it was the only option presented for women in the church.  Like if I didn’t like or want to have my own babies I was a terrible person.  You can imagine the conflict this created inside me.

As I grew up my testimony of the gospel increased  in every way except for motherhood.  This kind of explains why I was less-than-thrilled when my parents told me they were expecting again the spring before I first attended BYU.  This was my dream and now I was going to be abandoning my mother to pursue my dream.  I knew the road would be rough and I was actually quite mad at them.  I remember Ben being mystified at my reaction- How could I not want another beautiful baby?  Again, it was a selfish reaction.

The next few months were very difficult on our entire family.  My mom tried her best to be positive but with both Meg and I gone she struggled.  I felt guilty and sad for my mom but I think there was a side of me that also felt relief- relief for being far away from the stress and pressure.  In an odd way my first summer in college was a picnic compared to what I saw as the stress of home.  I don’t remember feeling homesick at all. Strange, hah?

Somehow my mother made it through and our family survived.    Of course, now I can’t imagine my life without my siblings.  They are precious to me beyond words- partly because of the sacrifice paid to bring them into the world.  All three pregnancies were crucible moments for our family- particularly for my parents and us three older children.   I feel we are united together in a way the younger three are not.  They have not faced such a struggling time, and I hope they do not have to.

Even with the deep love I felt for my siblings I still had issues about motherhood.  This continued all the way through my mission.  Even today I get annoyed when I feel like the message is shared without any hint at the difficulties.  To make matters worse I felt guilty every time I would hear about how natural and wonderful motherhood was.  What was wrong with me?  Why didn’t I feel that way?Why I am the only Mormon woman who wasn’t crazy about having kids?

After much thought and prayer I finally found the answer that worked for me.  It happened after reading D&C 64:34 which says:

“Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days”

I realized “I have a willing heart”, “I do strive to be obedient”.  I may be different from other women but the Lord loves me for or in spite of those differences. He will help me be obedient in all I do including being a good mother if the time ever presents itself.  He will help me use the skills and personality I have to build His kingdom in some way. I know that is true.

With this revelation and another spiritual experience I will not share,  I stopped worrying about it as much.  All that I need to do is maintain a willing and obedient heart, and  if the time ever comes that I get married and feel a need to start a family, the Lord will bless me with His strength and mercy.   I know that is true!

My sister is such a great mother.

What do you give this woman with a BUMP on her head?

I had funky but real life scare on Saturday.  What happened is I was working at the houses, tired and sore from cleaning and being on my feet for two days straight.  As a little reward I decided to bring my swimsuit and enjoy the hot tub up at the house.  It was cold and very windy and the hot tub sounded great!

Without even looking at the temperature I jumped right in and the water was around 95 degrees, which is warm but  not hot.  To keep the heat in I decided to only unfold one part of the hot tub cover.  These covers are heavy.  In fact, it is difficult for me to move them at all.

As I was enjoying the hot tub the wind got worse and all of the sudden a huge gust caught the cover and quickly blew the folded half over landing a large blow to the back of my head.  I didn’t see it coming and the punch sent a shock through my body.  I didn’t black out- thank goodness!  If I had I could have drown because I was completely alone at the house.  After a second, I was able to get out of the hot tub and rush inside.  After sitting I changed and then laid down with ice on my head.

For the next few hours I monitored my condition carefully.  I felt a little light headed but it was hard to tell since I had been in hot water, and been tired. Eventually my dad arrived bringing food, which I was able to keep down.  Perhaps I should have gone to the emergency room but I decided to just rest.  If it had been a weekday I probably would have gone to the doctors, and I may still do that tomorrow. We’ll see how I am feeling.

Since the accident I have felt pretty good; although, a fairly strong headache has never completely gone away.  I have a big goose egg on the top of my head and it is tender to the touch but considering what could have happened I feel lucky.  Who would have ever thought that a relaxing hot tub could become so dangerous!

Naturally I have been thinking about it today.  It is sobering to think I could have died or at least have been sent to the hospital.  I am so grateful I was safe and that the Lord was watching out for me- even when I was doing something admittedly stupid.  Sometimes on this blog and in my life I grumble about politics or people that get on my nerves,   I whine about a bad day, I wish things could be easier or better.

In the end I love my life! I know what it feels like to be unhappy- to be depressed.  I have had periods where I felt alone, confused on how I could make things better, and even hopeless.  Getting through such experiences has taught me that I am worthy of a happy, vibrant, wonderful life.  This is my right as a daughter of God.  I do not have to resign to a stupefying existence that I don’t enjoy. I love my family, friends, job, hobbies, interests, entertainment choices, and most importantly my faith. As I said in my Easter post I know that Jesus lives and watches over my life.  He wants me to be happy.  He forgives me for my sins.  He loves me unconditionally.  I am alone a lot in my life but in truth I am never alone because Jesus Christ has never forgotten me.  He is my best friend.  I am so grateful for that.  I am so grateful that He watches out for me and I hope I live my life in a way that He is proud.  As a friend quoted to me the other day “I hope I wake up every day and Satan says ‘man she’s up again!”.

I am so glad that I wasn’t hurt and that I can keep living my wonderful, happy life.  How lucky am I to be happy- really, truly, genuinely happy?  I wish everyone could feel as I do. What a gift!

By the way, thanks for all of the positive feedback on my blog.  It boosts me greatly and is a fun part of my life.   The process has also made me a better writer.  I have now been writing this blog for over a year, and we are at 5,000 hits! Not bad for a single girl from Draper, Utah.  Not bad at all.