Sunday, November 8, 2015


On Friday night BJ and I went to David Archuleta live at the Tuacahn Amphitheater. A finalist on American Idol at age 16 and a Mormon, he's been an interesting person to follow. He gave a fabulous concert. He sang just as beautifully as he did on American Idol. He has an amazing high range! During the concert he talked to the audience about the difficulty of deciding to serve an LDS mission when he was a rising star in the music industry. He said that he was told by all the people in the business that if he left for 2 years when he got back there wouldn't be a career for him. But, he said, "the same voice the prompted me to go audition for American Idol was prompting me to serve a mission so against everyone's advice, I went." He said his mission was the happiest he'd ever been in his life.

I was touched by his sincerely and goodness. On Saturday morning during breakfast BJ and I told the kids about David, his concert and the message he shared about deciding to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Then we played one of his most popular songs which he sang as his encore, "Glorious".

David Archuleta's "Glorious"

The kids were really impressed with him and the choices he made. They liked the song a lot too and wanted to talk about it. I explained that the song says that everyone has a purpose, a special mission to fulfill here on earth that only they can do. McKay was amazed by this and said, with eye's wide, "Mom, you mean I have a special mission too?" I answered yes and he said with wider eyes and all the sincerity of a 7-year-old, "But Mom, how will I know what it is?" I told him he could pray to know what the Lord's mission for his is and that if he listened, the Holy Ghost would help him know. It was a sweet, beautiful moment in our home as the Spirit testified to us both of this glorious truth.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

General Conference Reflections Fall 2015

Oh how I love General Conference! I was just amazed at the power of this General Conference. It seems as the world grows more wicked the Savior imbues his church with added power and courage. I felt so renewed as I listened to the divine messages of our inspired leaders.
In particular, I heard messages about the Holy Ghost and much encouragement to listen to and follow His promptings. I felt the Holy Ghost throughout each session as I listened, testifying of the truth of the messages and their relevance in my life. 

During the closing session of the Saturday morning session, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was singing "Come, Come Ye Saints". It was a beautiful version and as I listened I thought of my grandma Brady and the saintly woman she was. She had many struggles in life yet was always valiant. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought of her and felt the strength of her spirit. Suddenly, from the kitchen table McKay's voice permeated my thoughts as he said, "Mom, I feel like I'm about to cry." I asked him why and he said he didn't know. It was a beautiful opportunity to help him understand he was feeling the Holy Ghost through the beautiful song. I told him I felt like I might cry too because the Holy Ghost was touching my heart they way it was touching his. I'm so humbled by moments like this that allow me to teach the amazing little spirits the Lord has entrusted to me. 

I was inspired by the messages directed to the women of the church. I am a covenant daughter of God and it is my desire to fulfill the mission the Lord has for me and to do it well! I want to be a woman like this: 

As a young mother, I want more than anything to have happy, healthy, joyful children, who know who they are, and have a love for and relationship with their Heavenly Father and Savior. 

I have given up some things this year that mean a lot to me in order to be a better mother. I know it is my most important role--the most useful, vital, and significant role I have. Yet so often I feel so incapable of meeting the demands of my young family. The amount of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual work it takes to be a good mother is both overwhelming and exhausting. Over the last several months Kate has struggled with digestive issues and Lily with immune issues. Lily is often seriously ill and Kate, since birth, has rarely slept longer than two hours at a time. This leaves me full of worry and deplete of energy. Though I try my best, I often fail to be the cheerful, tidy, energetic, creative, fun mother I wish I were. From this vantage point, Elder Holland's words were my balm in Gilead. More than anything, I don't want to fail my children or the Lord in the work of our family. Elder Holland's words soothed my weary soul. "No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her children."

I love this quote. I summarizes my renewed determination:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Laie LDS Temple

On Sunday we spent some time on the Laie Temple grounds. The temple there is so beautiful and the gardens surrounding it are lush and tropical. 

We were planning to do family pictures on the beach just in back of our house. However, little Mark had ocean-a-phobia and began screaming if he even heard the ocean. So, we decided we might have happier faces if we did our family pictures on the temple grounds. 

Todd brought along his camera and took some family pictures but here are some pics from my phone.

Nana and Lily

Angie and Kate

All the boys

Silly Faces

Pretty Lily

Dole Plantation and Shark's Cove

We tried to spend most days doing activities as a whole family but on the day the adults went to see Pearl Harbor we decided to do something else with the little ones. So, those of us who had already been to Pearl Harbor on previous trips took the kiddos to the Dole Plantation.

The highlight was definitely the train ride. Look at these happy faces!

The train takes you through the plantation where there are tons of pineapple plants (of course) and lots of red dirt! That was a surprise. It felt like home...but Hawaiian.

After the train ride we grabbed some Dole Whip (A-mazing!) and headed home.

The whole crew at the Dole Plantation

The Dads (Todd and Dan) with their boys

Another highlight was Shark's Cove. The name sounds terrifying but really there are no sharks in the area and it's an incredible spot for snorkeling and wading. We spent a few hours wading through the tide pools observing lots of sea creatures. There were lots of crabs--McKay even caught a few! We found a sea cucumber which McKay picked up, saw fish and sea plants. It was fascinating!

McKay holding the Sea Cucumber

Polynesian Cultural Center

One of our favorite activities on Oahu was the Polynesian Cultural Center. It is an amazing place! I went there about 10 years ago and I didn't remember it being quite so amazing. There were tons of activities and demonstrations all day long! There was something for every age level and interest. We spent some time as a whole family but eventually split up so that the kids could do the hands-on activities while the adults went to the demonstrations. It was a great day for everyone!

We spent the day doing the activities at the PCC then went to the Luau. It was really fun! The kids especially liked the show during dinner. 

Becky, Dan, and Angie sampling the Hawaiian fare

Rachel and the Boys

At the incredible "Ha: Breath of Life" evening show. We loved the fire dancers!!

Lily at the entrance to the PCC

Being greeted by the beautiful Polynesian ladies 

We loved being all together in Hawaii!

Cute Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad provided the trip for everyone! What a gift!

Learning to make palm leaf fish

Playing Hawaiian games at the PCC

Though we don't have a picture, I must note that the kids loved the PCC gift shop too. They spent a long time looking at all the interesting souvenirs and ended up deciding that more than anything they needed some tiki statues. Benson chose the tiny stone statues while McKay opted for a larger wooden one. They use them at home in their Lego games. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I Quit

Today I quit my dream job. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

I love choral music. It has been my passion and joy for almost as long as I can remember. I began singing in a choir in 4th grade and I've been involved in the art ever since. Participating in choral music has been a part of my development, spirituality and identity-- a part of my soul.

I became interested in choral conducting as a student a BYU. While singing in BYU Singers I took classes in choral conducting and eventually pursued a master's minor in choral conducting under Dr. Ronald Staheli.

When we moved to Kentucky I was offered a position as Director of the TU Singers, the school's women's chorus. I absolutely loved working with the women, selecting repertoire, preparing for concerts and, most of all, running rehearsal. One of the reasons it was so hard to leave Kentucky was knowing I'd have to leave the women's choir, not knowing if I'd ever have another opportunity to conduct at the collegiate level.

About 6 months after moving home to St George I was again offered the opportunity to conduct a women's chorus, this time at Dixie State University! I was honored and delighted! Once again I loved the women, the music, and the rehearsal. Staying home caring for young children can sometimes be mundane, so the outlet of adult interaction, music, and a project to chew on mentally during some of the more tedious times of the day was a welcome opportunity.

I had to take last semester off, due to complications with Kate's pregnancy. However, I fully intended to return in the Fall. Yet, as I began planning for the Fall, I felt very uneasy. As I laid out my weekly schedule, my personal commitments away from my children seemed overwhelming. It just didn't feel right, so I began praying, asking the Lord to help me know what needed to change.

Throughout my life I have prayed for direction. Yet, the pattern in my life seems to be that I come to a logical decision and pray for confirmation of that decision. If I feel good, I proceed. Elder Scott, in his April 2012 conference address explained that this method is considered being led by inspiration. And yet, while living in Kentucky I became concerned that I wasn't feeling direction from the Lord in my life as often as I wanted and felt prompted that if I would commit to listen and follow instruction, more would be given. I made that commitment several years ago now, and have tried to listen more closely and follow the promptings of the Spirit, no matter what.

So, as I was pondering my schedule for the Fall, I felt a direct prompting that I shouldn't direct the women's chorus. This came as a surprise because logically it probably makes the most sense. I had lined up childcare with my mom and mother-in-law. The class was during the day while two of my four kids would be in school and it was perhaps the most unique opportunity and not easily attainable again.

I struggled with this answer because it didn't make sense in my head. I knew I had received direction- revelation-but I didn't want to follow because I didn't understand. So, I tucked the prompting away. I mulled it over in my mind and kept it to myself. I would think of it and pray again, only to receive the same strong feeling. But I didn't act. Could I really give up this rare opportunity? Was it really the Spirit I felt? Couldn't I maybe give up something else instead?

Still, the feeling persisted and I knew that I needed to prove to the Lord (and myself) that I was willing to follow the guidance I had asked for. So, I spoke to BJ about my feels, then my mom. Both confirmed I ought to follow. Still I didn't act.

Two weeks ago I was sitting in Primary on Sunday. During Sharing Time our Primary president was giving a lesson on the Holy Ghost. She began by asking, "Have you ever had a prompting from the Holy Ghost and followed it? What happened when you followed?" Then she shared a simple experience of following a prompting. As she was teaching a clear thought came into my mind, "You have received a prompting. Are you going to follow it?"

Did I really have enough faith to believe that the Lord knew better than me?

Another week went by and I sat again in Sharing Time and heard another lesson on the Holy Ghost. This time members of the ward had been invited to share experiences where they had listened to promptings. Our Bishop (my brother-in-law) related a story. He was driving on the freeway one day and felt prompted to slow way down. He did so and kept expecting that around each corner he would see something dangerous or perhaps something would happen to his car and then he would understand why he was supposed to slow down. However, he saw nothing. Eventually he felt it was safe to speed up again and he made the rest of his trip in safety. He testified that he didn't see anything but knew that had he not obeyed the prompting, something would have happened.

As I listened, his testimony reassured me that although I didn't see the exact reason for the obedience and perhaps I never would see it, it was still important to obey.

I was also reminded of the experience of Joseph Smith who asked the Lord if he could lend the Book of Mormon manuscript to Martin Harris. He was told "No" but kept asking the Lord until finally the Lord allowed him to do what he wanted, with disastrous results. I sensed that if I didn't act soon, I would be on that same willful and potentially disastrous course.

So, this morning I spoke to Roger, my friend and colleague and tendered my resignation. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. It was my dream job and I walked away.

Like my brother-in-law, I may never fully understand all the reasons. I spoke to my brother, Daniel, and asked him why it would feel so hard to follow a prompting. He reminded me that perhaps it's a test. If it were easy, would it be a test? Can the Lord test our faith and devotion if the stakes aren't high? Think of Abraham, Moses, and Nephi. The Lord asked for sacrifices much bigger than mine, partially to test their obedience and faith.

While pondering this choice, I had a picture come into my mind. I was hiking and there were two paths. The first first path looked difficult. The branches were thick and the path overgrown. Treading that path seems undesirable. The second path looked smooth and clear, an easy route. My inclination was to take the second path, the easier road but when I started toward it, my guide, an experienced hiker who knew both paths suggested I take the first path. Though it looked less appealing than the second path, he promised it would lead me to the best destination. The second path looked easier at the start but wouldn't lead me where I wanted to go.

I have always believed in "stay-at-home" mothering but it sure has been tough to give up such a joyful professional opportunity. My favorite quote from Barrie's Peter Pan is:

Mrs. Darling: There are many different kinds of bravery. There's the bravery of thinking of others before one's self. Now, your father has never brandished a sword nor fired a pistol, thank heavens. But he has made many sacrifices for his family, and put away many dreams.

Michael: Where did he put them?

Mrs. Darling: He put them in a drawer. And sometimes, late at night, we take them out and admire them. But it gets harder and harder to close the drawer... He does. And that is why he is brave.”

As I said before, I don't know all the reasons why I had to close this drawer for now, but I can count Four very special reasons, and each deserve the best of their mom--her physical presence, her attention and her energy. Even if those Four are the entire reason, that is enough. 

I don't know everything, in fact, sometimes I feel I don't know anything at all but I trust the Lord. I know he knows the best, safest, happiest path for me. I believe he will lead me, guide me, walk beside me, and help me find the way to the best end. And, as Maria Von Trapp says, "When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window".

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Slideshow 2015

I heard this song a year and a half ago and knew it was for Mom. It's message is the perfect way to describe this incredible mother of mine. She is strong, kind, good, faithful, and so loving. We couldn't love you more, Mom.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mother of Four...

Being a mother of four a lot. Something about four kids makes me feel a little like I've been hit between the eyes. Every day. All the time.

Have you heard the Jim Gaffigan sketch about having four kids? "Do you want to know what it's like to have a fourth? Just imagine you're drowning...and then someone hands you a baby."

Jim's right. She's super cute but with the entry of Little Kate into our family, I've sort of lost what little control over the house and kids I might have ever had. Now we're just surviving.

Funny enough, there has been research published stating that mothers of three children are the most stressed out. The research says that once you hit four children you just give up and give in to the chaos. Most mothers of four embrace the chaos and just hold on for the ride.

I don't think I fit the study. I definitely feel like four is more stressful than three. Perhaps it's the age of my four kiddos. At this point, no one can tie their own shoes or get their own drink (without spilling) or get dressed (in matching clothes, anyway). No one notices the messes around them, let alone cares to clean them up. And no one can help with the baby, other than to tell me she's crying or occasionally hold her under supervision.

Lest this sound like a whine-fest I have to say, my prayers every night are filled with gratitude to Heavenly Father for giving me four beautiful, amazing, interesting, sweet, delightful, and eternal Spirits to love. I realize that each one of my little ones is a miracle and a gift. I wouldn't trade them. I wouldn't un-do any of it.

However, I've had to seriously re-define my version of success and remind myself, over and over and over again, what matters most.

On Saturday I dropped by my parents house and talked to my dad for a few minutes. I asked him what he'd been up to that day. He had mowed the lawn, edged the yard, fixed the sprinklers, attended two baseball games, made church phone calls, and caught the end of the BYU Rugby championship--all by 5:30 PM. Then he asked me what I'd been up to all day.

 My response, "Well, I got dressed. I got all the kids dressed. I fed everyone. I exercised for 18 minutes. I fed the baby and fed the baby and fed the baby. And I kept everyone from killing each other all. day. long. And I scrubbed the sand box and water table.

Yep. That was it.

I laugh to myself when I think about my calendar during graduate school. It was literally filled completely from 8 AM to 11 PM in half hour increments. There were classes, meetings, study sessions, practice sessions, lessons, performances etc. Lots of "important" stuff. I felt so useful and accomplished. I would fall into bed every night exhausted but satisfied.

Things are so different now. I sometimes feel discouraged wondering what I even accomplished all day. Dishes? Laundry? Sometimes not even that. My dad told me about a super-star BYU volleyball player who got married and had twins. She said in an interview, "I had to simplify my goals. For one year I decided if I read scriptures, attended the temple, and cared for my twins, that was success."

Even that sounds a bit out of my reach.

I'm learning patience and faith in new ways. Learning to view the day as successful if I gave to my children. Dressing them, feeding them, reading to them, laughing with them, listening to them, pushing them on the swings, bathing them, and loving them are the new rules for success. I'm trying not to look for ways to get things done in spite of them but to find joy in the work of motherhood with them. It's tough to feel successful when this work is so unmeasurable but I'm trying.

I rather abhor selfies but I think this one tells the truth. I don't look great or even good, mostly just tired. But, it's me and Kate spending a little quality time together. And in that moment I felt peaceful and joyful. So, here's to more "success" in doing less.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Kate's First Smile!

Well...this isn't it but she did smile at me for the first time today, twice! And what a beautiful smile it is. Both times I had walked over to pick her up and when I got close and she saw me, her little face just lit up! It is one of the most rewarding sights, those first smiles.

Even when she's not smiling she's adorable. She really reminds me of a little doll. Her head is so small it fits into the palm of  my hand. She's very dainty and delicate. Her bones are so small I worry she's just going to break! Even though she was my biggest baby, 7lbs 15 oz at birth, she is just little. She reminds me of a little bird.

Kate has such a pretty little face. She has long eye lashes, a little button nose, and a rose bud mouth. She's our little doll!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

First Song

As a singer and a music-lover, during my pregnancies I often think about what my babies first song will be. What will I first sing to them? Usually it's been "I am a Child of God" because, in the end, that's what I want them to know.

In the past I've sung to my babies within the first hour of life, usually right after delivery, in that precious time when they are first experiencing the world. Within that early time I have always wanted them to experience one of the greatest beauties of the world: music. However, Kate was born at 4:15 AM after an all-night labor. I was completely exhausted, so tired that I really didn't have it in me to sing.

The days have passed quickly and the adjustment to 3 small children, plus a newborn has been really overwhelming. There just simply isn't enough mommy to go around. Plus, Kate has been struggling with her Bilirubin counts, so the days have been filled with lab and Dr office visits and nights with phototherapy treatments.

However, this morning the other 3 kids went to play at grandma's and Kate and I were left at home to prep for another Dr's visit. I was feeding her in a quiet house and she began to fall asleep. She looked so beautiful lying still in my arms that, without thinking, I started to sing the old folk song "Beautiful Dreamer" softly to her. As soon as I began, she opened her eyes and stopped eating. She held perfectly still and, with the most peaceful yet joyful look on her face and light in her eyes, she listened. Then, when the little song was done, she softly closed her eyes and with the closest thing I've seen to it, she smiled and went to sleep.

It was a holy moment, a little gift amid the fatigue, worry, and craziness of the last few days since her arrival. Whether she'll love music the way I do, I can't say. Whether it will heal her and feed her soul the way it does mine, I'm not sure. But I know that in that moment I saw a glimpse of the big, beautiful Spirit inside her tiny body. And, I was witness to perhaps her first recognition of beauty--not the beauty of a voice but her recognition that there is beauty in this world.

 I wish I could capture that small moment somehow and hold onto it. I hope someday in Heaven we'll get to look back on moments like this. I think even in all the beauty and wonder of eternity I'll still treasure this moment of Kate's first song.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pregnancy Wrap-Up

Prior to posting about Kate's birth, I wanted to record my feelings and experiences with this pregnancy for Kate and for myself, in case I'm ever crazy enough to attempt this again. I really love being a mom and I believe strongly that there are many Spirits who need a safe home where they can be loved. Each child in our home has come with their own unique qualities and each brings new interest and joy to our family. For those reasons, I would love to have more children. Plus, I have this feeling that our family is not yet complete.

On the other hand, pregnancy is tough and scary and it's getting harder with each child. A few months before this pregnancy began and at the suggestion of my doctor I had some laser surgeries on my legs to close down the worse of the damaged veins, the veins that had clotted during Lily's pregnancy. The theory behind the surgeries was that it would prevent clotting in those same veins and would likely lessen the varicosities and pain in my legs during future pregnancy. Sadly, this was not the case. While I'm glad those veins were removed because of the danger of their clotting, the pain was not any less. The legs didn't look quite as ugly as they did with Lily but the pain was just as intense.

With the pain in my legs and it's debilitating effects came much discouragement. I would come to the end of each day in so much pain I couldn't walk. By about November I was feeling really depressed. It seemed like forever until delivery and my other children are each at ages that require so much help. None of them are old enough to really care for themselves, so my inability to care for them made me feel like a failure all the time. Plus, because of the constant pain I found myself easily annoyed and frustrated with my little children who need and deserve all the patience I can possibly muster.

It was about then that BJ and I had some serious discussions about how we were going to make it through this time. We made some lifestyle changes that really helped. The long and short of it was that I needed to slow down a lot!

At BJ's strong urging as well as that of my mom and sister, I took Winter semester off from Dixie State. I didn't direct the Women's Chorus and I didn't teach any students on campus. I stopped singing in Lieto Voices and stopped as much of the running around as I could.

My mom and BJ started making trips to the grocery store for me. Mom started making dinner for us at least twice a week and the rest of the time we ate easily prepared meals that didn't require me to be on my feet for long.

Mom also took care of the kids two days a week during the day so I could rest and my friend Kari took them for a few hours another day, plus Sue and my sisters-in-law would take the kids for play dates, all of which really helped.

BJ made arrangements to do dental trade for house-cleaning, so Lupe, a sweet wonderful lady, began coming to help with the cleaning once a week. This both relieved my legs and lifted my spirits to be able to be in a clean house and not have the guilt of constantly feeling like I should be cleaning.

I also faithfully wore the medical-grade compression hose. Without them I couldn't make it through the day. They were so annoying and took about 5 minutes to wrestle on but they saved me from a lot of pain and from blood clots. My doctor also had me take a baby Asprin every day to keep the blood thin. I admit, I wasn't as diligent about this as I could have been, but I did often take it and again, it seemed to help.

All of these changes helped immensely and, while I felt embarrassed at needing so much extra help, I am so grateful for the willing hands who took over so many of my responsibilities during this time so that I could survive.

I also know that the Lord was mindful of me during this time. As January came around and through the remainder of the pregnancy, something amazing happened. In previous pregnancies as the pregnancy progressed the pain would intensify. I fully anticipated this and was dreading the last trimester, as the pain was already so intense during the second trimester. However, from January to the end of the pregnancy, I began to realize that the pain was more bearable. I know that some of this change was due to the lifestyle changes but I also know that it was in answer to prayer.

I was talking to my mom one Sunday in January and mentioned how I had felt my spirits really lifted that day. She commented that it must be in answer to the family fast. Apparently, though I didn't know it, my siblings, their spouses, and my parents and BJ had fasted for me. I later found out from my sister that these amazing family members were praying for me every morning and night and fasting for me each fast Sunday. My sister-in-law Angie said, "We wish we were closer so we could help you more but since we're far away this is how we can help."

I am certain that the blessing of some relief came as an answer to the fasting and prayer of my family, as well as in answer to so many of my own prayers for strength to endure. I feel unworthy of such blessing but so deeply grateful that so many faithful people were petitioning Heaven for me. I know it is not because I was deserving but because of my family's faith and the Lord's mercy that I finished this pregnancy without any blood clots and with a manageable amount of pain.

I'm so grateful that during this difficult time in my life I could feel the Lord's love and see His hand helping me bear the load both through the service of others and through His tender mercy and grace.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Kate- one day old

Kate and Mommy spent one day in the hospital following her all-night delivery. She was tuckered out after such an ordeal and, after a couple hours of awake time right after delivery, became a pretty sleeping little thing.

She's still a little swollen from delivery but what a sweet little face!