Just Breathe…

Some days it just feels hard to breathe. Every minuscule attempt to move my weighed down lethargic body to action takes enormous effort. My thoughts are either driven by a deep desire to climb back into bed and shut out the world, or I can’t seem to formulate any at all. It takes all of my strength just to keep breathing, moving, not giving in completely to the darkness that is trying so hard to engulf me. I feel weak. I am so tired of fighting this battle. I sit in this chair hour after hour…it’s become my place of comfort. I love it and yet I despise it. The contentment it offers is deceiving. The initial warmth I feel now seems to hold me hostage; smothering me, as numbness begins to creep in and overtake my every sense. This is nothing new; I have fought this battle before and emerged conqueror…today I just don’t have the strength to fight it…so I sit here and feel its binding tentacles engulf me body and soul.

I am not alone in my struggles; it seems more and more I am finding out about others like me. The reasons behind the feelings may be different, but ultimately we are all fighting the same war…to keep breathing…to find purpose in our life…to hold on to hope for a better tomorrow. Even the Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi, spoke of his emotional battles.

“…notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.  I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.  …O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?  And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul?”

Nephi is right! Why should I give in to this struggle? Why should I let the adversary have power over my heart? I may feel alone…I might even want to be alone, but I am not, nor will I ever be forgotten by God. So I will hold on. I will fight a little bit harder. I will follow Nephi’s example and attempt to implant his words of encouragement deep in my soul!

“…Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul. …Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.  Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.  O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? …O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy. O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh… Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God.”    2 Nephi 4:17-35 Cape Kiwanda

Love Like A Child…

Time is a funny thing. Some days seem to drag on making you feel as though you are trudging through a tar pit while being decked out in heavy combat gear…while other days are gone in what seems like an instant, leaving you breathless and longing for time to slow down just a little bit so you can enjoy the ride.

It seems like only yesterday it was a daily battle to keep my sanity…(let’s be real, that’s still a daily battle)…and my kids from killing themselves or each other. But the days of little voices floating on the air, tiny hands held in mine, and the pitter patter of little feet echoing through the house are long gone.

Because of Austin’s blindness we didn’t really know quite how much mischief a little person could get themselves into. He just didn’t see that there was a big bright world out there to be explored, so he was quite content to stay close enough by my side that I didn’t have to worry too much about what he was doing or where he was going.

When he was a toddler he would open and close the cabinet door that housed all of our videos…over and over and over, never disturbing anything inside the cabinet…until one day he accidentally reached inside and realized there was something in there! Yeah, shortly after that we discovered the beauty of child locks.

Austin with Nana and Papa


Now my girls…well, that is another story completely! It seemed not a day went by without them getting into some sort of trouble. For example…the time I had been doing some baking and had left my container of flour out on the counter, only to walk in and find my three little angels all covered in white.

 Flour Escapde


(And yes, that is joy you see on my oldest ones face as she uses salad tongs to dust her little sister with flour. For those of you who know her today you might be surprised to see such devious behavior coming from one so mature and responsible as she is now…but don’t be fooled…she was once the ring leader of a very corrupt band of sisters!)

Now please don’t assume that I was just lounging about on the couch, eating chocolate (although I did/do eat a fair amount of chocolate on a regular basis…I only eat it for its natural calming abilities…really) while my three little mischief makers were dusting my kitchen and each other in flour…or climbing on top (yes, I said the TOP) of the fridge to get to the cookies…or creating a new masterpiece with permanent markers on the bedroom walls. No, I was usually doing something far more glamorous; such as, washing dishes, doing laundry, or changing another dirty diaper. See…way more glamorous!

Needless to say, I had to learn early on that if I wanted to keep even a smidge of my sanity I would have to just laugh at some of those disasters, when what I really wanted to do was go all psycho-crazy-mama on my kidos.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t lose it a time or two…or 20. I am ashamed to say that too many times I let my anger and frustrations get the best of me and would yell and scream like a raving lunatic. I deeply regret those times. I have had to work very hard to stop yelling at my kids, and even though I’m not perfect at it by any stretch of the imagination, I can say I have come a long way from the day my littlest one looked at me with fear in her big beautiful hazel eyes, tears coursing down her soft little cheeks, pleading with me to “just please stop yelling, Mommy”. Yeah, that was definitely not my best “mommy moment”. I knew then that I HAD to get a grip or I was going to destroy those four precious children that I treasured more than anything else in the world.

It can be very painful to see your inadequacies and weaknesses exposed and oozing out, day after day, even if it is in the “privacy” of your own home. But that is what being a parent does. It shines a spotlight on the very worst parts of ourselves and reflects it in the trusting, hopeful eyes of our little ones, until we feel about as useful and valued as a piece of chewed up gum on the bottom of a dirty worn out shoe.

But…the truly amazing thing about children is that they have this innate ability to look beyond our flaws and love us anyway…to be hurt or angry with us one moment, only to forgive us completely in the next… even if we haven’t asked for forgiveness, even if we don’t really deserve forgiveness.

I have not been the perfect mother…far from it…but, I have loved my children enough to try and change… to try and become closer to the kind of mother I know I need to be, the kind of mother I want to be. When I look into my children’s brightly shining eyes, the only thing I want to see reflected there is love…deep, unconditional, forgiving, trusting love. I want to love my children the way I think our Heavenly Father loves us. We are all going to make mistakes. We are all going to disappoint ourselves and others. But I think the thing we need to remember most is how to love like a little child. To be quick to forgive, ourselves and others…to see beyond our weaknesses and to focus on the grand potential we ALL have… simply because we are children of a loving God!

I challenge you to take some time today and look into the eyes of your children or loved ones…what do you see reflected there? What can you change? How can you love more like the Child of God that you truly are?


A lesson in listening…

A few years ago my husband decided to start a new family tradition. Each night after dinner we go around the table and take turns saying at least one thing that we are grateful for.

You would think that coming up with ONE thing you are grateful for each day would not be too difficult…well, you would be wrong. Oh sure, there are many days where it is easy; where the hardest part is deciding which thing to say because there are so many things you are grateful for…but there are other days…days where nothing has gone right, or where you just feel down…those are the days where it can be almost painful trying to come up with something meaningful. This seems to be hardest for my son. He takes SO long to come up with something to say, and then the majority of his “grateful’s” revolve around food. He will name specific foods, different meals of the day, the utensils and dishes he uses to eat said food with…you get the idea. The boy loves food!!

There are times when this has caused other family members to challenge him on what he is grateful for…surely he must be grateful for more than what he’s just inhaled at the speed of light!

One particular night recently as he named off some trivial food related item…again…his dad questioned him on his seemingly lack of thought on his “grateful” item. His response was eye opening for me. He said that he can only focus on one thing at a time and because he wants to hear what others are saying for their “grateful’s” it makes it difficult for him to come up with something of his own, especially in a timely manner.

That got me thinking…Maybe it doesn’t matter what he comes up with. Who really cares if he says the same two or three things night after night. Maybe what matters is that for those few minutes, my boy, who lives in his own little world 95% of the time, is invested in his family and what they are saying. He isn’t thinking of his next video game or what’s for dessert…he’s actively listening to what others have to say. He’s hearing positive, loving, and uplifting things. He is putting someone else before himself.

Austin "focusing" on his baby sister. (1995)

Austin “focusing” on his baby sister. (1995)

I think we could all take a lesson from Austin in this…when others speak are we completely invested in them and what they are saying and feeling? Or are we only half listening and thinking about our own issues and schedules? Or maybe texting, emailing, or on Facebook at the same time we are “listening”. I admit I am guilty of this myself. It seems it is getting harder and harder to really be present in the fast paced digital world we live in. I am going to try harder to be present. Maybe tonight you could try it too. And who knows…you just might find something new to be grateful for.🙂


Growing up we moved…A LOT. Always the “new kid”, painfully shy, socially awkward…you get the picture. I remember one really hard year in particular…eighth grade. We had moved back to the same small town in Idaho that I had lived in a few other times. I knew most of the kids and they knew me. You would think this would have been one of the easier moves we made…(but then when is middle school ever easy?!)  I remember feeling physically ill every single morning as we approached the school. I felt invisible, and yet, as though I stuck out like a sore thumb, all at the same time. But, I did survive! And thankfully my high school years were MUCH better!🙂

Why does all that matter now? It doesn’t really. In the grand scheme of things it is a tiny blip on the map of my life. But at the time I felt so terribly lonely!

I have been thinking of loneliness a lot lately. There seems to be so many people in the world that feel clutched in the grasp of its ugly talons. I sincerely doubt any of us make it through this life with out spending a good portion of our time there in fact.

  • The widow or widower who sits all alone, day in and day out, hoping to be remembered by someone…anyone.
  • The child who sits on a crowded school bus, but seems invisible to everyone around them.
  • The husband and wife who share the same couch, dinner table, and bed, but have become strangers somehow.
  • That quiet individual who sits in the same spot at church every week, always smiling, but inside hurting and hoping someone will actually speak to them today.
  • The single mom, struggling to work and take care of her family’s needs…never mind her own needs.
  • The blind/autistic child who so often listens as others laugh or gasp as they watch something on TV that he cannot see or understand… who has few or no friends at all because it takes too much effort to be his friend.

The list could go on and on and on. You would think that since so many of us have been in that cold and lonely place we would do a better job looking out for each other…reaching out to those in need of a friend. But, we get caught up in our own worries, our own struggles, and sometimes that can be blinding.

I believe that loneliness is one of the Adversary’s greatest tools he uses to pull us down into an ever darkening pit of despair. It can be easy to lose hope when we feel alone in our pains and sorrows. But we must not let it overtake us!

I have come to know that even though life is full of lonely moments we are never truly alone. No matter our situation, no matter how lonely, scared or hopeless we may feel, we can all take comfort in knowing that Jesus Christ knows our pain and He can ease our burdens. He IS there for us! Sometimes we just have to open our hearts and eyes to see Him.

 I love the way Jeffrey R. Holland expresses this in his book, Trusting Jesus.


“…it is not without recognition of life’s tempests but fully and directly because of them that I testify of God’s love and the Savior’s power to calm the storm. Always remember in that biblical story that He was out there on the water also, that He faced the worst of it right along with the newest and youngest and most fearful. Only One who has fought against those ominous waves is justified in telling us-as well as the sea-to “be still” (Mark 4:39; D&C 101:16). Only One who has taken the brunt of such adversity could ever be justified in telling us in such times to “be of good cheer” (John16:33; D&C 68:6). Such counsel is not a jaunty pep talk about the power of positive thinking…No, Christ knows better than all others that the trials of life can be very deep, and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them.

…don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears…Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.”

So if you’re feeling lonely and in despair today, tomorrow, or any other day, remember that you are not alone. You are loved and God is aware of you! Remember Elder Holland’s words…“Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.”

Light in a dark world.

It seems that lately the world is getting darker and darker at an ever increasing pace. At times that darkness can be so suffocating that it seems hard to breathe. Everywhere you turn there is violence, hatred, selfishness, sex…lots and lots of sex! Now please don’t get the wrong idea and think that I disapprove of sex. Sexual relations between a husband and wife can be a beautiful, sacred, opportunity to bond with one another, express our love and devotion, and to create life! But it seems that anymore it is just viewed as a way to be physically satisfied by anyone, anywhere, anytime you feel like it. This has never been more apparent to me than when reading some of the reviews from the recent Grammy Awards.

It can be very disheartening to see how society has declined to where it is now. And there have been many times in my life where I have focused so much on the darkness of the world that it has robbed me of my personal peace and joy.

But all I really have to do to gain it back is to listen to my 22 year old son laugh with pure delight as he plays “catch” with one of his sisters; or see his face light up whenever a little child is close enough for him to see them and touch them. It reminds me that there is good in this world. There is light! And as long as we focus on that light it will always overcome the darkness in our lives.

For me, Jesus Christ is the light that guides me through the dark. When I try to see the world in a way that I think He would it is easier for me to focus on the beauty, joy, and love all around me.

I think that is why I love looking at the world through my son’s eyes too. Because even though he cannot physically see very much, he sees many other things ever so clearly. To him, wrong is wrong! And he won’t hesitate to tell you when he thinks something is wrong! That has led to many embarrassing (and humorous) situations. But in the end I think he has also made many people stop and really think about their actions or in-actions. If more people…myself included…did this on a regular basis, I believe there would be a lot more light in the world and a lot less acceptance of the darkness in the world. Image