The Jolley Family

The Jolley Family

Friday, February 17, 2012

Let's Get Real....It's All About The Climb!

It feels like ages since I have written...ahhh HAS been ages since I have written and had any creativity moving through my brain.  I haven't even had it flowing through my fingers and for those that know me well, I am always tinkering and writing music on the piano.  It seems as though my brain has been stuck in neutral for awhile.  It's time to dust off the old brain cells and get to writing.

It's been a very difficult year and one, that quite frankly, has had me questioning many things in my life.  At some point in time I just didn't feel very happy.  I'm not exactly sure why.  It might have something to do with the fact that this past year has brought a lot of turmoil for myself and those that I love.....for both family and friends and even though I seem so tough on the surface and people know me for my tougher exterior...inside I was falling apart....maybe I still am and feel ashamed to admit it.

I have had to ask myself some hard and deep questions about what is most important to me.  I have had to really search and search some more.  I am nowhere near answering all those questions. In fact, it will take a lifetime and beyond.  It feels as if my center of gravity has been rocked and I am teetering trying to re-center it.  However, one thing I know for sure.   We are never really alone as we plug along through our journey in life.  It seems that every time I turn around, the Lord shows my selfish and imperfect self mercy and love.  He seems to always answer my unspoken and buried know the ones I am talking about?   The ones that you are always thinking about but never actually get spoken.  I have them all the time. I know I should be drawn to my knees so much more than I am, but it seems that I am always communicating with my Heavenly Father through my heart.  I desire to improve on this, but sometimes it seems that the unspoken prayers are all I can give at that moment in time.

At some point in time, I found it very hard to smile.  It's like someone reached into my soul and pulled it out of me and STOLE IT!.  THE NERVE!!   I miss it!  I miss the natural curves upward that my face used to so freely do. It seems that I found it much easier to not smile and have a stale face than to put forth the effort and smile.  I have always smiled, even when I didn't feel like it. In some weird way, it seemed to always help the situation....good or bad.  Smiling is an instant tension breaker, an instant ice breaker and can make even the most shy person know they have an instant friend.  I find when I don't smile that all of a sudden it's like there is instant tension people feel from me and I come across unapproachable.  It leaves people wondering whether or not I even want to have anything to do with them when, in reality, I just feel vulnerable.  It's harder to correct than you think, but I am trying to work on it.

Gordon B. Hinkley is one of my all time favorite people and although he has passed away, the legacy he left with his actions and words will always be a source of comfort and guidance to me.  He once said ""Life is like an old-time rail journey — delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."  Did I REALLY believe that I was going to get through life with just a little smoke and dust in my face?   How shallow-minded I was to ever think that way!  How will I ever appreciate the beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed without experiencing the pain of smoke and dust and cinders and jolts?  You know what?  It's OK to experience all these wild delays and fact, it's important to experience them!

I used to think I had to be perfect.  People even looked at my life (because I always smiled) and thought it was "all that and a bag of chips"...and definitely not fat free!!  I played the perfect roll and for a long time and I played it well.  What came out of my mouth didn't always match my true feelings inside and at some point this past year, those two lives collided in a huge train wreck.  It wasn't just one event but several challenges that led to this.  As I have pondered at how human I should be in front of others, I realized something very important in my own learning and growth.   It's OK to be human and be vulnerable. In fact, it's perfectly OK to have a bad day.  It's perfectly OK to not want to associate with people that bring you down.  It's perfectly OK to make mistakes and allow others  to make mistakes without making them feel bad for doing so.  It's perfectly OK to soul search and seek for understanding, learning and growth.  However, I also learned that I don't have go through challenges by myself.  Someone has already paid the price for all imbalance in my life...for sin, frustration, anger, hurt, pain and everything in between.  Our Savior has overcome death and given me the gift of the Atonement and if I invite him in, he will make me better than I could ever be trying to do this on my own.  He hears and answers every prayer, spoken and unspoken and usually does so by putting people in our lives that show love and kindness and in return I can pay it forward and do the same for others. 

I am not always put together. I don't always do what I should, but I am learning to focus on progression and not perfection.  Sometimes I don't want to do my hair, or do the laundry or clean the house .  Sometimes I just want to stay in my pajamas (they are quite comfy)...sometimes, for days...but who's counting...haha.  Sometimes I feel like my spiritual well is dry. Sometimes I just feel broken. It sure gives new meaning to the familiar nursery rhythm Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again.  Let's be honest!  Our lives aren't always going to be one big bowl of bliss.  Gordon B. Hinckley said "Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed. Most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. "  We are, however, meant to be HAPPY!!!!.

We DO have a choice. We Do have a sun that rises and gives warmth to our faces every day.  We DO have opportunities to laugh and curve our lips upwards in a smile and we DO have opportunities to learn from pain and we DO have 24 hours every day to find joy and bless others.  Joseph B. Wirthlin said  "We have so much to smile about, be happy about, yes, even to laugh about. Don't wait for tomorrow. Don't wait for the right job, the right house, the right salary, the right dress size. Be happy today. Be happy now."   Nowhere did it say we had to be perfect.  I think the true message is to continue to progress and be happy as we progress through our life.  I have been guilty for too long trying to be perfect that I forgot how to enjoy the journey of life and not just endure it.  If you find yourself or anyone you know in a similiar's time to re-evaluate!

Am ready to be real?  YOU BET!  I have real problems, real concerns, a real temper, a real blunt personality, real children, a real husband, a real craving for fast food and chocolate, and a real dislike for exercise.... AND  I have real feelings, a real sense of humor, a real desire to be nice, to have real friends, and experience a really happy life.  I want the same for YOU!  Now...go out and be the REAL person that I know you are suppose to be.  Give yourself a break.  Make changes where necessary and let the rest go.  Don't let the smoke and dust be what brings you down, but let it make you tougher and better than you were before and ENJOY LIFE TO THE FULLEST!!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

A year of Facebook Status.....It Changes Everything!

I decided to write down my statuses from this past year.  I had to shorten it by almost half, but realized just how much a persons' status reflects their life.  I hope you enjoy.  It's fun to read them all put together.  Try it!  I'll give you an idea of what your year has been like.

In 2011, may we greet each stranger with a smile and make them our friend. May we look to the future with hope and determination and reminisce the past as a bright dream. May we love those around us a little more, laugh a little more, serve a little more, forgive a little more and WE will make a difference in the world. Here’s wishing you more happiness than my words can tell. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! I LOVE Life....everything about it. The growth, the challenges, the joy, the pain...I love it ALL!! Merry Christmas to all! I am reminded of the true meaning of this beautiful season as I reflect on the life of our Savior and His birth. May God watch over you and your loved ones as you seek to do His work and His will! It's not what we receive that enriches our’s what we give. What you say about someone else doesn't define who they defines who you are! Life is too precious and too short to sweat the small stuff! Live each day like it's your last. Forgive easier, love longer, and serve with ALL your heart!! ‎If you chance to meet a frown, do not let it stay. Quickly turn it upside down and smile that frown away. No one likes a frowny face, change it for a smile. Make the world a better place by smiling all the while.

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. We are each responsible for all our experiences. Every thought we think is creating our future. Everyone suffers from self-hatred and guilt. The bottom line for everyone is "I'm not good enough." It's only a thought and thoughts can be changed. We must release the past and forgive everyone and ♥ ourselves. When we REALLY love ourselves, everything in our life works! The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven't planted. The only disability in life is a bad attitude. Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek. Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens; not by what life brings us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst a spark that creates extraordinary results. Adversity, if properly nurtured, will bloom the most beautiful of flowers! Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same. My one birthday wish would be to have wings and fly. I would fly to each one of you and give you a big hug for such sweet birthday wishes. Thank you all for your kind words. Love you all! St. George Marathon, Family, Friends, Conference, Memories, Laughing till you cry.....Does life get any better????

Happiness does not come by pressing a button, as does the electric light; happiness is a state of mind and comes from within. It must be earned. It cannot be purchased with money; it cannot be taken for nothing. Live, Laugh, and Love...there's no better use for the letter "L"!! On this special day of remembrance, let us remember those whose lives were shortened and their families that were left behind. Let us celebrate our freedoms and love a little more, hug a little longer, look at someone with a smile and kind heart. Let us forgive a little easier and laugh a little quicker. Let us be the very person the freedom’s of this country stands for. GOD BLESS AMERICA! Oh what a beautiful morning...Oh what a beautiful day! I've got a wonderful feeling, Everything's going my way! :>)

From EFY to Cedar Badge to Scout Camp to Girls Camp to Lava Hot Springs to Family Reunions to River Rafting to Jensens Grove...our summer was packed full of fun and memories. What a wonderful way to start off the new school year! Can anyone remind me how to get gum out of clothing? Thanks a bunch!!

Twas the night before the first day of school and all through the house, the Jolley children were puking, and making tons of sounds. Their father is away for a week long business trip while their mother cleaned up lots of messes and boy it wasn't a hit!! When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

The difference between CAN and CANNOT are only three letters. Three letters that determine your life's direction. Positive and negative are directions. Which direction do you choose?

To Be or Not To Be.....That Is The Question!

I think there are those that think they can...and DO! And those that they think can...and DON'T!  We all have dreams and aspirations.  Life is ALWAYS going to throw some kind of curve ball in our way.  There are going to be people or circumstances that influence our lives for the better and the worse.  There are going to be distractions and wrong turns.  What is it then, that keeps us focused on our goals?  How do we reach that point where we finally say "THIS is it! THIS time I am going to....."?  Does that point really exist?  Is there a final turning point where a person says..."Enough is enough!" and just does whatever it is they set out to do? I think it's easier for some than for others.  I think for some, they have a goal, think it through and make it happen.  For others, they have the same worthy goal and yet they fail time and time again.  Do you ever feel like this?   What is that true difference between these two types of people?  I ask this honest question, because I would really love to know.

What great character does the one who succeeds at hard things possess that the one who can't seem to get it together have?  For me, personally, I get stuck!  My mind gets stuck!  My routine gets stuck!   Sometimes I have tunnel vision and can't see past the end of my nose.  I often think of the quote “If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten.”  So that means, if we want to see something change, WE have to be willing to get out of our "comfort zone" that we all create and become uncomfortable. Is this the key?.... to always be on the verge of being uncomfortable (metaphorically speaking) so we don't get stuck in that "comfort zone"?

Our mind is our most powerful tool and yet can also be our worst enemy, if we allow it to be.  And that's just's what we allow!  I believe WE ARE WHAT WE THINK!  I believe we CAN use positive energy and positive words to make our own lives and the lives of others around us better.  I also believe that there are those we all know that suck the positive energy right out of us.  Press forward!  Still be committed and NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give up! 

I want to make 2011 an epic year of change.  I want to refine some of my character traits.  I want to be healthy, and truly happy.  The kind of happy that when no one is around I can giggle because no matter what is going on in life because I choose to find joy in lifes enduring journey!  The truth of the matter is that change takes work.  It takes committment, humility, determination, dedication, failing and picking ourselves up and saying " I AM going to do this!"  Most importantly, being willing to love ourselves despite our own character flaws!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.  What has worked for you that made all the difference?

Happy New YOU to all!  May this be the year where all your yesterdays become your todays and your todays become your tomorrows!  And that your tomorrows are what you THOUGHT them to be!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Matriarch University.........A Unique and Educational Experience!

Recently, I have contemplated going back to school.  I love learning and want to become a nurse.  I enjoy caring for others and making their life more comfortable and meaningful.  In all my thoughts and reasonings, the feelings keep coming back to me that it's not my time yet.  I have watched many  friends going back to school and I keep thinking it should be my turn.   It sounds logical to me.  However, the still small voice whispers to me otherwise.

As I was lost in my thoughts recently, it occured to me that I HAVE been going to school.  In fact, before I was married,  I was taking all the prerequisite classes for my major.  After I got married, I continued to go to school.   The classes were different, but I was still learning and being graded on my performance.  Once I had children,  my course of study was somewhat altered.  However, I continued to go to school and to this day, I am still going to school. 

What school am I attending?  Why, it's Matriarch Univerisity!   It's a University with a very unique and educational experience.  My major is Motherhood.   I started classes when I was very young.  When I was 8 years old,  I would wrap up my dolly and put her in the cradle.  I would feed her and change her diaper and got to name her myself.  I call this class Role Model 101 and my campus was my home.  My instructor was my mother, grandmother, aunts, and other women whom I would emmulate.  You were there too!  Just on a different campus! 

I remember one particular experience vividly!  I wanted to wear a bra like my mom.  Well, in Role Model 101, I learned that girls watch their mothers and do as they do.  At 9 years old, I decided to wear one of my mothers' bras to school.  I remember the morning  clearly.  I snuck her bra out of her room and put it on and stuffed it full of toilet paper.  I even remember the shirt I wore.  It was red and had cherries in the middle.  I was so proud of myself that I was going to be just like my mom.  As my older brother and I walked out the door to school, I proudly showed off my new chest.  My brother was horrified and tried to get me to take it off.  He was embarassed to walk with me.  I didn't care.  I just wanted to wear a bra like my mom.  As we got to school, everyone was staring, and rightfully so!  My chest was WAY out of proportion to the rest of my body.  It never occured to me that I looked ridiculous!  It never occured to me that people were probably laughing.  Who thinks about that when they are 9?  Thank goodness for the nuturing love of my 4th grade teacher who helped me understand the error of my ways.  I realized I was going to have to give up the dream of wearing a bra until mother nature took it's natural course.

Although this experience is funny and brings outburts of laughter, I was just doing what I was taught in Role Model 101!  Now, I am the instructor for this course.  I have daughters who do as I do.  They are watching  every move I make, and are emmulating my words and actions.  I have to ask myself often if I am a good instructor?  Am I teaching them what they need to know to face life's challenges?  Am I setting the proper example?  Do I listen with an open heart?  Am I helping them to pass the class so they can one day be good instructors themselves? All these and other questions are necessary to be a good instructor for Role Model 101!

Through the years, I have taken many classes at Matriarch University.  Below are some of the classes I have taken.  There are many I am currenly enrolled in because they are lifelong classes and what I am learning will takes years of experience through trial and error.  Ultimately, the grade for these classes will not be known for quite some time.  I can only hope that my instructor,  Heavenly Father, will be well pleased with my work and that I will pass with flying colors.

Role Model 101- I have learned that this is the prerequisite class to all others.  Where I was once a student, I am now the instructor.  And, having a good instructor is crucial for students. 

Cooking 101-I love to cook and this class came easy for me!  I learned how to create meals, how to make a meal plan and shop accordingly.  I learned how to blend flavors and make delicious food.  I failed many food tests as some dishes didn't turn out so well, but you know what they say....Practice makes perfect!    My homework was to cook for my friends, family and anyone who would let me.  It's a great class and I really enjoyed it.

Organization 101-  Early in my marriage, I decided it was important to be neat and tidy.  In Role Model 101, my instructor taught me by example.  She taught me that cleanliness was next to Godliness.  I applied what I learned from that class to what I was learning in Organization 101.   I learned that I felt better about myself when my home was clean.  I learned how to schedule my laundry days, and learned quick tips to keeping a home clutter free.  Don't get me wrong, there are many times where I have abandoned what I learned.  Sometimes, life gets really busy and playing catch up is difficult.  However, I do remember what I have been taught and can quickly get back on track. 

Charity 101-  It's a life long class with many labs I get to attend.  Once you gain knowledge from class, you get to go to lab and practice what you have been taught.   My lab has many people in it.  They range from family to friends to neighbors to complete strangers.  This class is constantly evolving and I am constantly changing as I attend.    I am learning to be tolerant of others, to be sympathetic and compassionate.  I am learning that true charity is a love of action.  Charity is the pure love of Christ.

Flexibility 101- Since motherhood is my major, being flexibile is a class I needed to take.  It's a class that requires me to use the skills I learned in  Compassion 101. It sometimes requires me on a moments notice to change my schedule or be flexible with the direction my life is going. It requires me to be ready at any time to offer a hug or a kind word to my children or others.  Flexibility is the name and changing is my game!

Humor 101-This is a required class for all those majoring in Motherhood.  By taking this class,  I am learning  to find humor in life.  It sure makes our experiences much more tolerable.  Adversity is a part of our life.  President Deiter F Uchtdorf said "It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop." (General Conference, April 2010).  How do you react to life's experiences?  Finding joy and humor is one way we can cope.  At any given moment, motherhood is going surface a rainbow of emotions.  We will experience emotions of joy, sorrow, frustration, excitement, undescribable love ( like the birth of a child), fear, worry, hope, peace, irritibility (and chocolate does wonders for this!), anger and everything in between.  Learning to use humor to diffuse tough circumstances can prove to be an effective tool.  Try it!  It really works.  I remember one particular experience I had with my third child.  She is a firecracker!  She is creative, witty and bold!  She loves deep and is a very loyal friend and daughter.  Well, she loves sugar wafers with the creme in the middle.  The vanilla ones are her favorite.  If it were up to her, she would eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We made a deal that she could have some after lunch for a treat.  After her lunch one day, she asked me if she could wait out front for her brother to get home from school.  I said yes and out the door she went.  Several minutes went by and  I realized that school wasn't going to end for over 2 hours!   I went outside to check on her and found her sitting on the ledge of one of the windows with a whole bag of wafers.  Her mouth was stuffed full and crumbs were all over her shirt as evidence that she indeed was eating these sugar wafers as fast as she could.  I looked at her and said "What are you doing and where did you get those wafers?"  Astonished and completely surprised to see me standing there, she put her hands on her hips and said "HOW DID THOSE COOKIES GET THERE?"  Nevermind the fact that her mouth was stuffed full, and nevermind the fact that she had crumbs all over her shirt, and nevermind the fact that she had a whole bag of wafers sitting on her lap!  She was in complete denial that she was eating these sugar wafers.   I gave her a good scolding and without her watching, I had such a good chuckle.  Some days if I don't use humor, I could very well have a good cry!  I know you can relate.  That's what so great about us women majoring in Motherhood.  We can share together what we have learned for the good of us all!

Patience 101-This is an evolving class and takes practice every single day.  It requires me to be understanding and flexible (something I learned in Flexibility 101) with my children and those around me.  It requires me to forgive and do hard things.  There is required homework every single day and sometimes I don't do a very good job on my homework.  Thank goodness this is a life long class with a very patient instructor who knows me better than I know myself. 

Prayer 101-This, too, is a life long course!  One that requires me to be the initiator of many conversations.  Through this course, I have learned so much about myself.  This course has allowed me to become a partner with my instructor.  I seem to have the same instructor for many of my courses.  He understands the major of Motherhood.  He has a deep love for all women  and communicates to me when I am on my knees that He loves me and appreciates the hard work I put into my classes.  Prayer 101 is one of those feel good courses.  Every time I attend, I leave feeling stronger, and my desire to pay closer attention to my other classes increases.

Forgiveness 101-Many students taking this class have a rough time with this!  It's not always easy to take this class. It's required and like many others, is a life-long one.  Like Prayer 101, it requires me to be in constant communication with my instructor.  He is very patient with me when I don't do so well on my homework. He teaches me to give others the benefit of the doubt.  He helps me understand that with the help of His other teacher, my Savior, I can overcome my weaknesses.  I have learned that this class is necessary for me to graduate and be like Him!  We all have need to forgive and be forgiven.  Through this wonderful process, we become closer to those we love.  We learn not to judge, and to be tolerant of others and their weaknesses.  I have learned that I don't have to grade other peoples tests!  I get to cheer them on and help them do well! 

Marriage 101-I love this class!  This is a class I get to take with my husband.  He has a major too.  It's Fatherhood.  With what he is learning, and what I am learning, our children get the best of both worlds.  This class has high's and low's!  This class requires knowledge from all my previous classes to make this one work.  It requires humor and patience and flexibility and organization and prayer and forgiveness!  It also requires creativity, committment, love, honesty,and trust!  It requires constant communication and a desire to stick through the class even when times are tough.  It's a beautiful class that can be wonderful if both husband and wife assume their proper roles.  In the Family: A Proclamation to the World, the roles of parents are outlined in detail.  This document along with many others is the core corriculum for this class.  By strictlyl following it's guidelines, husband and wife will find joy in their journey together.

I know there are many other classes I have not even mentioned.  I know there are ones like First Aid 101 and Music 101 and Religion 101 and Taxi Cab 101.  The list for graduating goes on and on, but all classes are for our experience.  There is no greater joy than having Motherhood as my major.  At times, I feel like I am  falling short in some of my classes.  That's OK!...I .pick up myself up where I left off and practice again tomorrow.  At times, I  feel the beckoning call of the world to put my classes on hold and take a detour.  At times, I  feel like I am failing certain classes. It's during those times that I draw from the knowlege I have learned and try to be patient with myself.    I have also felt  the success of putting more time into them and seeing the outcome. 

Motherhood is a sacred calling.  Do not let thoughts of doubt and fear cloud your mind.  Wipe them away and replace them with confidence and determination.  Be strong and of courage.  Be happy with who you are.  Love yourself and the major of Motherhood that you have chosen.  Celebrate the different classes that others around you are taking.  Lift them and support them.  Enjoy one big study group with others majoring in Motherhood or others interested in this major. 

So, there you have it!  This is the low down on the University I have been attending.  I know that it isn't always the most popular major and doesn't always have the best pay, but it is worth all the time and effort I have put in. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Corn Maze.....A Parallel to Real Life

I am sure that there are many things we can parallel to real life such as running marathons and boxes of chocolate (Forrest Gump.....hehe!).  I am going to add surviving through a corn maze to that list.  I say surviving because that's just what I did.  I survived!

Tonight we went through a 15 acre corn maze that was created to celebrate 100 years of scouting.  I am a huge supporter of scouting, so naturally I wanted to go.  We took our family plus 2 of my daughters  friends for her birthday.  We were all excited!  The corn had grown so tall, almost 8 1/2 feet.  So, you can imagine a shorty like myself not being able to see anything but corn...corn...corn!!

When we arrived,  there was a guide to give us specific instructions.  We had to listen very carefully or there might be important information we missed!  There were several mazes in and of itself.  They ranged from very easy mazes that didn't take long;  to very difficult mazes that took 3-4 hours to complete.   We were given a color coded map and a folded card to also find clues to who killed the "farmer"....kind of like a game of Clue where you have to narrow down who killed who with what and where. We split into 3 groups and off we went very confident that we all knew exactly what we were doing and where we were going.  Afterall, it wasn't dark...yet, and we decided to participate in a relatively easy maze that would take about an we thought!

In our group was my husband, myself and our two youngest children.  My oldest daughter and her friend were together and my oldest son and his friend were together.  Each of us took a different direction and were suppose to end up at the end together.   We could hear the laughter of our other groups as they were so excited to find the clues first.  It was such a fun competition! 

As we started off, we quickly found one of the clues!  We were confident that we would breeze right through the maze. Afterall, my husband was our fearless navigator so we were in good hands right?  Following the map wasn't as easy as it looked.  What seemed the right way to turn sometimes led us to a dead end.  Other times, we found exactly what we were looking for.  The further we got in the maze the more we realized that we couldn't just turn back .  We had to keep pressing forward!  At times, nothing looked familiar and other times I could have sworn we had JUST seen this very row of corn!   Every so often, we could hear our other groups trying to navigate their way.   I could hear them say "Should we go this way or that way?  It all looks the same!"  or "  I know we have been here before, why can't we find our way out?" 

As time went on, it started to get dark.  We realized that we weren't  as prepared as we thought we were.  When we had started, we thought for sure we would be done before it got dark. That was our first mistake!  Second, we did not come prepared just in case it got dark.  Although there were flood lamps high above the corn maze, it only would give light to some parts.  Other parts of the maze were pitch black.  We soon realized how valuable a flashlight would have been to us and started to use the light from our cell phone to direct us.  Then we realized that it was so much easier to navigate in the light.  In the darkness, we felt completely helpless.  My youngest child finally said to me "Mom, you know about Jack the scarecrow don't you?  You KNOW he has a head made from a pumpkin and a body made from sticks right?  You KNOW he is here to scare away the crows from the corn, but I think he is following US!"   I could only imagine what tricks his young mind was playing on him and who gave the scarecrow the name Jack anyways?  I reassured him we were not being followed and that we were safe.  He kept saying that he couldn't see well in the dark and how much easier it was to see where we were walking in the light.

Finally, we realized we were lost.  We could not find our way out the maze.  We could no longer hear our other groups and realized that it had been well over an hour.  Our younger children were tiring quickly and wanted to go home.   I knew they were feeling scared and wrestless.  My husband reassured them that if we stuck together, we would find out way out.  We also knew that if we could find one of the clues that if we needed to, there was an emergency phone number to call and we could give them our location and helpers would come rescue us.  We called our daughter on her phone and told her to find her way out and we would meet her at the entrance.  We were relieved to find out that she had found our son and his friend and they were trying to get out together.

After awhile, we still could not find our way out.  It seemed so simple and the map seemed so clear, but in the dark, we mine as well have been blind.  Then a stroke of luck came.  We could hear our daughter and son and their friends and soon we were reunited.   We were all so happy to be together.  Soon after, we found our way to the end......together!   It was a great feeling.  We felt relieved, happy and also proud of ourselves that we made it to the end.  It was a great experience!  Each one of our groups had a different experience and yet we also experienced many of the same emotions.  We all experienced joy and excitement and yet we also experienced frustration  and fear.  In the end though, we all experienced relief and a sense of accomplishment and it was fabulous to experience the maze all together.

How does this relate to real life?  Well, life is like a corn maze!  Just like at the beginning of the corn maze we were given instructions and a map to help us on our journey, so it is in life!  We have been given the gospel as our map with clues along the way like scriptures, prayer, families and a living prophet to help us on our journey. We are never alone!  However, it was very important that when we were given instructions at the beginning of the maze, that we listened carefully and payed attention.  How many times in life do we think we can bypass certain instructions and still come out on top?  How many times do we block out promptings we receive because we have our eye on the wrong prize?  Do we ever stop and ponder and discuss and have a game plan for our life?  What happens when we don't?  Does our journey through life ever take wrong turns?  You bet!  Do we ever feel lost like our life keeps going in circles and we aren't making progress? 

One important parallel to life I made as we were going through the maze was the complete contrast of being able to find our way in the light vs. in the dark.  It was a completely different experience.  Where once confidence and excitement were our emotions, they were replaced with uncertaintly and fear once the darkness had set in and we weren't prepared for it.   Isn't that how we feel when we can spiritually see the light?  Don't we feel more confident when we have the light that the gospel brings to help navigate our course through life?  How much more difficult is it when we try to muddle through life in the dark, so to speak!  When you feel spiritually dark, isn't it easy for doubt and fear and frustration to take over where light once was? 

Although it was dark, we made it through as we found sources of light to navigate our course. All was not lost!  Although it was only a small light from a cell phone, it was light nonetheless!  What source of light do we have in our lives to help navigate us in the dark?  It is true...dark times will come.  Are we prepared to meet them when they do or are you going to try and muddle your way through without a plan? 

In the end, it was a joyous reunion as we all found each other and shared our different adventures.  I KNOW it will be like this for us too in the end.  I KNOW we will have wonderful stories to swap with one another about our joys and trials and learning.  What a wonderful feeling to know that we all started together and although our experiences were different, they really were similar in many ways.  We all started out with the same goal in mind, and that was to reach the end of the maze with a job well done.  We all wanted to win and feel satisifed with our efforts.  We all had a game plan and we all ended up together! And yet, our direction that we traveled was different.   What a tremendous experience!  I learned so much and my perspective on life was realigned once again with what is really important.  It's about finding joy in the journey.  It's about learning from our experiences and finding joy in sharing them with others.  It's about failing and picking ourselves up and trying again.  It's about perspective.....its' about real life!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Your TRUE Identity...It's Not Something You Can Google On The Internet!

Have you ever needed to find the definition to a word or research a certain topic ?  Nowadays, we use the Internet for everything.  The world is at our fingertips and we can pretty much learn anything we want from this incredible tool.  Type anything on google and you have a million references to research.   If you wanted to know the definition of a word, you might go to  If you wanted to learn more about how something was made or how a civilization came to be, you might go to  However, knowing your identity, your TRUE identity,  isn’t something that you can google on the Internet, and you won’t get a Wikipedia answer either. 
Knowing your TRUE identity is the accumulation of thousands of small choices that testify of the ONE, and that ONE thing is who you are. You are a child of God!  You have worth and depth and characteristics just like Him! 

Did you know that Heavenly Father knows you personally--by name?  You may not have heard the Lord call you by name, but He knows each one of you and He knows your name. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said. 'I testify to you that God has known you individually . . . for a long, long time. He has loved you for a long, long time. He not only knows the names of all the stars; He knows your names and all your heartaches and your joys!' ("Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been," Ensign, May 2004, 46)."

Have you ever questioned who you REALLY are?  Do outside influences cloud your mind and do you sometimes forget where you came from and why you're here?  How do come to know your true identity? It’s through patterns and habits that over time when exercised with faith and put into action become permanently engraved in your heart. You become like Him in thought, word and deed. You will come to know Him as you serve Him.  Your desire to be like Him increases, and your standards become higher, stronger and your feet are planted firmer in His gospel principles.  And then, YOU are living your true identity. 
How many of us compare ourselves to others?   All too often, we think we must be less of a person if we dont' have the same talents as someone else, or the same home or income or body type.  These are all ploys from Satan.  He uses these gimmicks to lead us down another path and that path is a destructive one.  He has so much to lose and we have so much to gain if we really know who we are. 

Several years ago, I participated in a skit at girls camp helping the young women understand proper texting  etiquette.  I played Politapee, a prudish English woman with an English accent, who was appalled when she went to lunch with a dear friend whose texting etiquette was HORRIBLE.  The audience roared in laughter and our acting skills could have landed us on America's Got Talent....for sure!  My friend, who played the other character wore a mullet wig and kept picking her teeth and talked in this hilarious raspy voice. She wore some psychedelic jumpsuit from the 70's.  She was rough and tough!  I wore a black wig, bright lipstick, a flower in my hair, and a horribly ugly blue dress!  For several hours, we were in character.  It was fun, but after awhile, I was ready to take off the itchy wig and dump the English accent.  I slipped into my tent and something very unexpected and yet so wonderful happened.  I began longing to be myself.  I was tired of playing a character that wasn't me.   I glanced in a mirror that was by my bed and began to weep.  I realized at that moment, how much I loved myself for who I am,  for my weaknesses and my strengths.  More than that, I had a witness given to me that I was indeed a daughter of Heavenly Father and  he deeply loved me.  It was an incredible realization for me.  I didn't want to be Politappe or anybody else for that matter.  I just wanted to be ME!  From this experience, I also had a desire for the young woman to know their true identity.  My sincere desire is for everyone to know who they are and begin living their true identity.  Not the identity the world defines you as, because we all know the standards of the world are constantly changing.  What was popular yesterday is out-dated today when it comes to defining who we are.  

Remember the who, what, when, where and whys of your identity and before you know it, you'll feel better about yourself and in the process others will feel of your light and love and do the same.  You will come to know the God that created you and will desire to more like Him.  What a wonderful merry-go-round of love that continues  if you decide to jump on board and hang on for an incredible ride.

Who-You and I and everyone in between.  You are a child of God.  You are loved and beautiful and talented!  You have the ability to serve and lift others to a higher standard. 
What-Become the change you want to see in others.  Serve, Love, Lift....all these words require us to DO something. 
When-NOW!! Don't sit idly by complaining about who you want to be. Start right now to make changes in your life that will bring you happiness and joy. While you're doing this, no one likes to work alone, grab a friend for the journey!

Where-Everywhere.  Opportunities exist all around us.  Dont' let them pass you by.  Change the way you view life.  One step at a time will lead you where you want to be.  
Why-Because you are AMAZING!  Because you are LOVED!  Because you WILL know your true identity.  I can promise you that!!  As you are patient with your own self, you will find that you have patience for others.  As you love yourself, you will find that you have love for others.  

Friday, September 10, 2010

Visitors....A Stroke of Love Painted Into the Walls of My Home and I am a Better Person Because of their Visits!

As long as I can remember, I have always said unspoken prayers. You know the ones I am talking about? The ones you say in your mind that are said and felt right in your heart. No one around you hears them. Well, at least not out loud anyways. I KNOW Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. I know he listens even to ones that are never spoken out loud. I said one of those very prayers after we moved here.  I longed to see familiar faces and have familiar conversations. Those longings turned into unspoken prayers.

I felt a bit homesick for my life in Vegas. I missed my daily routine that seemed to click for my family! I missed deep friendships that took years to develop. Having deep friendships to me is like having a piece of aged cheese that gets better the longer it sits. Once you bite into it, you realize just how delicious it is and recognize it was so worth the wait!  That's how  friendships are! They take years to develop and one day, you realize JUST how incredible they are! Once the newness of moving wore off, I longed for my dear friends.  Well, all my unspoken prayers started to yield visitors...from near and far!

I love visitors.  I love entertaining and talking and giggling.  I love playing games and listening to stories about their lives.  I love serving them and providing an atmosphere where they enjoy themselves and hopefully they want to return. I cry with them and support them through challenges and rejoice with them over accomplishments and milestones.   I love trying new recipes or making  ones that I know will be a hit!  I love the way I feel when they are here.  Each time they leave, I feel like a better person.  It's like they left a part of their wonderful self  imprinted in my home.  It's like my walls are newly painted with their love! 

Have you ever warned your children to be on their best behavior when visitors come?  I do!  I go through the ritual of making sure I remind my children how we treat one another.  I remind them to step up their kindness and stretch themselves with service.  I remind them to keep their rooms a bit tidier.  I remind them to savor each visitor and learn from them and enjoy being surrounded by those who love them. Is that such a bad thing?  I don't think so!  I think it's important for children to learn what their best behavior is and to have opportunities to show it off.  Hopefully,  their best behavior will become the norm.

First was a visit from my parents.  They surprised us with a visit.  One day, the doorbell rang and there they were!  We laughed and talked and cried.  I realized where I got my joy of service from as I watched my mother jump right in and help.  She has served others her whole life.  How blessed I am to enjoy the same love she does.  I learned about events my dad had been participating in with his job and watched the bond between my husband and my father deepen.  As they left, a stroke of their love was painted into the walls of my home and I was a better person because of their visit.

Next we were visited by some dear friends from Las Vegas.  Having my girlfriend here visiting with some of her children was a sheer delight!  We chatted for hours and had yummy food from a local Mexican Restaurant.  We caught up on the lives of our wonderful friends and acquaintances in Las Vegas.  We laughed and watched our children play!  I begged her to stay longer.  I enjoyed her company and learned how tender hearted she is and how much she cares about others.  I want to be more like her.  As she left, a stroke of her love was painted into the walls of my home and I was a better person because of her visit.

In between visits from far distant friends and family, we were blessed with many weekly visits from cousins who we were getting reacquainted with.  I loved to watch my children learn about their cousins and find similarities amongst each other.  I loved visiting with my sister in-laws and talking about everything and anything.  We were also visited by grandmas and grandpas who live just 30 minutes away.  I loved to watch my children hug them and tell them about their summer activities and their dreams and plans for the future.  As each of these visitors left, a stroke of their love was painted into the walls of my home and I was a better person because of their visit.

Then we had more wonderful Vegas friends come.  They were passing through on their way to Washington.  We didn't always have the opportunity to spend  much time with them in Vegas together, but now that we lived out of state, it felt different.  We sat and talked about her school and how AMAZING she looked.  She was working so hard to be healthy.  I learned that with determination and dedication we can accomplish anything.  Her personality easily attracts others and she puts you at ease.  She makes you feel important. Our daughters relationships picked right up where they had left off.  I was in awe at how tall her children had become.  We cried as we talked about families and friends.  We had picked up right where we had left off as if no time had hardly passed at all.  I knew we would get another visit from them again as they passed back through Idaho on their way home. And still, when they left, a stroke of their love was painted into the walls of my home and I was a better person because of their visit. 

Visitors continued to come.  This time it was because a special friend so willingly accepted  the call of duty.  Girls camp was approaching.  This very special friend did the Lifeline activity in Las Vegas for our girls camp there.  Now, as I am Young Women's President in Blackfoot, I wanted the girls here to have the same wonderful experience I did in Las Vegas.  My special friend took time from her very busy "Especially For Youth" schedule to come and spend a couple days with our girls camp in Idaho.  She came and stayed in my home the first night before we left for camp.  We talked for hours about her family and her mother.  I learned how strong of a woman she is and how she deeply desires for people to really know WHO they are and WHERE they came from!  Her spiritual strength runs very deep and I enjoyed our conversations.  When we were at girls camp, her message to the Young Women changed many lives.  In fact, I bet changed the course that many YW will choose to go because of her strength and testimony of the Lifeline.  I felt so blessed to call her my friend.  When she left a stroke of her love was painted into the walls of my home and I was a better person because of her visit.

At the same time my special friend was visiting, we also had a mutual friend and her family here too.  I have known this family for many wonderful years.  She is bold and strong, and straight as an arrow!  I love these qualities about her and her girls too!  They love deeply and serve unconditionally.  I watched her at girls camp (because she came to help with the Lifeline) as she payed close attention to the details of our camp.  That is her personality.  She pays close attention to the details in life.  She remembers conversations and things that you say and blesses your life when she remembers your birthday or gives you something because she heard you say it along time ago.  Having her here helped me to pay closer attention to my family.  To listen closer to the details of their day.  I loved spending time with her. Her family brought laughter and excitement.  When they left, a stroke of their love was painted into the walls of my home and I was a better person because of their visit.

Soon after, my brother and his family visited us for the weekend.  I love having his family here.  His wife is a breath of fresh air.  Her boys are so lovable and I find myself wanting to hug and kiss them even when they don't want me to.  Her youngest son has the curliest locks of hair and I found myself asking him if I could twirl his curls just to hear him speak.  His way of saying thank you was "shanks"!  My sister in law and I would sit up at night having long conversations about kids and marriage and life.  I will always treasure those conversations.  She helped me see my family differently.  She pointed out personalities in each of my family members and helped me connect with them even more than before.  My brother has a gift of gab too!  He loves to talk and share and their visit was delightful.  When they left, a stroke of their love was painted into the walls of my home and I was a better person because of their visit.

Recently, I was contacted by a friend in Las Vegas through Facebook.  I know her daughter from when I was a Youth Camp Leader at girls camp in Las Vegas.  She is now a Sophomore at BYU-Idaho.  I haven't spoken to either of them in years.  She asked if she could come and attend church with us as they were passing through to take their daughter back to college.  We met them at our church and enjoyed warm embraces of our reunion.  Their grandmother was also with them and grew up here in Blackfoot.  What a treat it was to see them and feel of their warm spirit!  Afterward, they came over for a delicious lunch and we chatted for hours.  I learned what is was like growing up on a farm as the grandmother told story after story of what it was like living here and owning a busy farm.  Before I knew it, they had to leave.  When they left, a stroke of their love was painted into the walls of my home and I was a better person because of their visit.

Over this past week, my husband's aunt and uncle have been staying with us.  They have enjoyed attending the state fair and spoiled my children rotten with their love and attention.  I love it and I love them.  I love everything about them.  They are kind and gentle and patient.  I love spending time with our aunt.  She naturally radiates peace.  She has a calming effect on everyone.  I will cherish our long talks.  We played games and decorated for the Autumn season.  She helped me understand what is really important in life.  She treasures every moment.  And our uncle..he is no different.  He loves children.  He loves hearing the chatter and watching the hustle and bustle of our busy family.  I cried when they left.  They are wonderful people.  The kind you think everyone should meet.  When they left, a stroke of their love was painted into the walls of my home and I was a better person because of their visit.

This past week as the Eastern Idaho State Fair has been here and Blackfoot has been visited with thousands upon thousands of visitors.  Blackfoot has played host and fed and entertained all them with carnival rides, delicious food, wonderful music, animals, beautiful quilts, housing and so much more.  I learned that this tiny and quaint town has so much to offer.  I learned that amongst all the old buildings and homes that as each visitor has come and gone,  their love has been painted into the walls of our town and we are better people because of their visit. all our visitors have left,  the walls of my home are newly painted with love.  Each visitor brought something different to share.  They left a special piece of their hearts here in our home and we are better people because of their visits.

The Lord truly heard and answered my unspoken prayers in more ways than one.  He helped me see the goodness of others and the goodness of our town.  So, next time you have the opportunity to have a visitor,  take them up on it!  Savor each moment and remember how much your cup runneth over with blessings and love!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Funerals.....A True Celebration of Life!!

Let it be said that funerals are INSPIRING!!  I know, there are many sad parts to a funeral, but for many joyful reasons, funerals are a celebration!  I have played the piano and organ at many funerals in my day; from babies to the elderly and many ages in between.   The circumstances of each death have all been different but the outcome of each funeral is the same....A CELEBRATION OF LIFE!!  Each funeral I have attended has provided new perspective on life!  It helps us celebrate the wonderful qualities of the person being honored.  We see the Plan of Salvation, (the Plan of Happiness) in action as the final chapter on a person's earthly life has ended and the "to be continued" from this life to the next are now being abridged.

I am  grateful for my knowledge of eternal families, that if we are sealed together by the priesthood authority in a Holy Temple of our Heavenly Father, His house, that we can strive to be eternal families...that death is but a glimpse on the grander scheme of things. This knowlege alone gives me comfort that I will be able to see posterity from my family that have already passed on to the other side.  I also long to see those people whose funeral I took part in.  I long to see the mature stature of an infant whose funeral I played at, or our dear sweet cousin, Justin, all grown up, or the youthful beauty of my grandparents or the peaceful face of a young mother whose life was taken too early from this life leaving behind young children to long for her embrace and affection.  

I am gratefyl for my gift of music.  I love sharing it with others and watching them feel the calmness and peace that comes from beautiful music.   There is no quicker way to feel the warmth of the Holy Ghost than through inspirational music. It's no wonder that people have an abundance of music at funerals.  It sets the tone and adds love and bonds those who are in attendance together.  The spirit testifies of our Heavenly Father's plan and all those who are in attendance partake. 

It's been quite some time since I have played at a funeral.  I had fogotten the tender feelings that exist until today.  All the tender feelings that are felt at a funeral were renewed today as I got to learn about Bernice. I never met Bernice before.  She was 95 years old and lived a wonderful life with the attitude of "enduring to the end with joy as your companion".  Interestingly enough, she had a poodle she named Princess who has been her companion for many many years.  Princess died of unknown causes 2 days after Bernice died.  I tend to believe it's because she was broken-hearted.  Bernice was so good to her, that cute Princess saw no reason to continue.  For 45 minutes, I listened as Bernice's life was outlined and unveiled to the audience.  Although most everyone there kenw her, but I didn't......until today.  As I sat at that piano and accompanied the violinist, I could feel the gratitude of Bernice.....almost like she was thanking me for playing at funeral to bring closure and peace to her dear family she left behind.   Before long, I felt like Bernice and I had been friends.  If I had lived in Blackfoot, ID long enough to know her, I am CERTAIN we would have been friends.  Her life was amazing and any words I write could do her no justice.  Let's just say, she was truly one in a million.  I hope one day I can be like Bernice!!

I cried as the spirit bore witness to me over and over again of the goodness of this woman.  She had touched so many lives and yet the room wasn't full...but the hearts of those in attendance were.  Being a part of Bernice's funeral gave me new perspective on life today.  It helped me to see the end from the beginning and started me thinking where I am at in my own life.  It has been said before that we should think of what we want said at our own funeral and live our lives backwards.  Until today, I envisioned all my friends  and collegues and family there and for whatever reason, I pictured friends reading words about me....until today!  It hit me so sharp today that it's MY family...MY children and MY grandchildren that would be reading MY life history.  It became so clear to me that the MOST important work I can do is that of being a successful wife and mother in my own home.  As the years pass, my children will grow up.....I only have a short period of time with them to teach them and love them  compared to the amount of time they will be spending outside my home.

What kinds of things do I want MY family to say?  What can I do TODAY to be a better mother and wife to prepare MY children for their future homes?  I started thinking of the "Am I's?"...Am I patient enough?  Am I showing more love and less criticism?  Am I preparing them to meet the challenges that surely this life will bring?  Am I taking the time to tell them each individually I LOVE YOU?  Am I teaching them to whistle while you work and to look for the needs of those around you?  Am I teaching them compassion by giving them the benefit of the doubt?  Am I freely forgiving so they can freely forgive others? Am I living what I believe so they have an example of how to establish their own solid foundation?

All these questions and more have flooded my mind.  I have much work to do as a mother and feel so grateful for the words "I'm sorry" as on many occassions I have had to ask my children for their forgiveness.
Attending Bernice's funeral today gave me more determination to use this life, which is a probationary state (Alma 12:24) to be a better person.  It starts in the walls of our own homes and is spread to those around us.
Today I more, compliment more, hug more,  serve more, show more compassion, make better use of my time, and the fruits of my labor today will be seen in all my tomorrows!!   Life is like a delicate flower being tossed in the wind.  Although it might wilt and be carried  away, the seeds that it spreads will far surpass today.