Lioness Home Origins

My Pride at the St. Anthony Sand Dunes 2010
My “Pride” in 2010 at the St. Anthony Sand Dunes

Nine years ago I was a mother of five young children ages 12, 11, 8, 4, and 2. Some days I felt like I was swimming (or drowning) in the sea of insanity, so anytime I had the opportunity to be with grownups and talk about big girl things it was a good day. On one such occasion a few friends invited me to attend the April 2010 Women’s Conference at BYU in Provo, UT. You can imagine my excitement when I realized that the closing speaker was going to be one of my favorite speakers and role models, president of the General Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Sister Julie B. Beck. It had been a weekend full of great speakers, ideas, laughing and friendship. I had gotten good ideas and skills for personal growth and felt rejuvenated to go home, implement and start swimming again. With pen in hand, I set myself to be taught in this final inspirational moment. Something powerful ignited inside of me and I knew I would never be the same when she said these words:

“I have said lately that women are like lionesses at the gate of the home. Whatever happens in that home and family happens because she cares about it and it matters to her. She guards that gate, and things matter to that family if they matter to her. For example, if the lioness at the gate believes in the law of tithing, tithing will be paid in that family. If that family has a humble little portion of ten pesos coming in, that lioness will safeguard the one peso if tithing is important to her. If that lioness at the gate knows about renewing her baptismal covenants with God, she will be in sacrament meeting on Sunday, and she will prepare her children to be there. They will be washed, cleaned, combed, and taught about that meeting and what happens there. It isn’t a casual event, but it is serious to her, and it will be serious to them. The lioness at the gate ensures that temple worship is taken care of in the family. She encourages that participation. She cares about seeking after her ancestors. If the lioness at the gate knows about and understands missions, missionaries, and the mission of the house of Israel, she will prepare future missionaries to go out from that home. It is very difficult to get a lion cub away from a lioness who doesn’t believe in missions, but if the lioness believes in a mission, she will devote her life to preparing the cub to go out and serve the Lord. That’s how important she is. Service happens if she cares about it. Sisters, you are each like the lioness at the gate. This means that there has to be some prioritizing. I was taught years ago that when our priorities are out of order, we lose power. If we need power and influence to carry out our mission, then our priorities have to be straight.”

Bam, Pow, Bang, and just like that my future “womaning” from that moment on was figuratively cast into an iron-clad lioness mold. The future was clear and I knew that all of the efforts I had been giving and would need to give would be worth the eternal investment. Home and family are a BIG deal and it was time for me to rise up, do my duty, and be intentionally BOLD about doing it!

Parker Family December 2018
My “Pride” in 2018 on Texas Christmas Vacation

The last 9 years definitely haven’t always been easy. In fact, many days have been downright overwhelming and discouraging, but with my lioness-fighting heart I haven’t given up this fight I started 9 years ago. You see, I have come to understand that being perfect at trying to do all of the good things above and exercising faith in Jesus Christ and not outcomes is what keeps me and my family (immediate and extended) prospering in the land. That is how we can keep power and priorities straight.

Will you come and roar with me?

The Lioness
a.k.a. Jodi


Spring Break in St. George 2017

We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to St. George, UT for spring break this year. It has become a tradition for many years now to visit southern Utah’s red rocks and enjoy the outdoors after being cooped up for the winter.

This year we joined Lance and Anne’s family again, along with the Puzey’s – sans Diana, and the Peterson’s – another family from Sugar City. We kicked off our adventure by checking our kids out of school at noon with our car and trailer loaded to the hilt with camping gear, bikes, food, and luggage.

We made it to Inkom when the tire on our trailer decided to blow! YIKES. Good thing for spare tires…the guys changed it in record time and we were back on the road without loosing much time.

We were anxious to get to our camp spot, because not only would it be almost dark when we arrived and we needed to set up a tent – we weren’t entirely sure if there would be camping available. It was first come first serve in primitive camping at the Bearclaw Poppy trails. The Puzey Fam were following on the road with us. We arrived near 8:30 pm on the bumpy and steep road to our site and finally set to work getting our tents up and sleeping bags unrolled. The rest of our party arrived closer to midnight.

Next morning we were up and eating breakfast after a lovely (and surprisingly warm) nights sleep. Lily apparently has always wanted to eat the fruit of a cactus, so got all of the kiddos excited about cutting in that for our morning entertainment. The events of the day included an excursion to Gooseberry Mesa to ride bikes…all of us! After that, we had a picnic and headed to Red Cliff Reserve. The kids loved getting wet on our hike in the narrow canyons after a windy and sweaty bike ride. Lily kissed a frog….gross! 😉 For dinner we drove to In-N-Out Burger, then back to our campground for popcorn over the fire, s’mores, and kids playing night games.




Friday it was decided that our bike ride would be the bearclaw poppy trail. Olivia’s bike steering was awful from the previous ride so we were all juggling bikes around to find a way we could all be successful and happy. 🙂 She had a hard time being excited, but plowed through all the way to the end! My favorite thing about Olivia on our spring break trips is her attention to the beautiful details: flowers, rock shaped hearts, etc.. JT, on the other hand, was so anxiously excited he rode way ahead of the others and eventually was lost with Gordon Peterson. We didn’t even realize it, until we ended and then the panic set in. Luckily it didn’t last long as we asked some of the other riders if they had seen two boys and they told us they had and where they were. YIKES! I’m so grateful they didn’t get hurt or kidnapped. I guess that is bound to happen with such a large group. Mason was a rockstar and re-rode the entire trail backward to find the stranded boys. Stephen headed back to camp and got the trailer for all of our bikes. Thankfully all ended well. We rode our bikes back to camp and then ate lunch while determining our next move. Since camping and being sweaty most everyone was ready for a dip in some water. We headed out of town and found a free lake. Stephen challenged any takers to swim across the lake for $5. Sami, Mason, and Owen took him up on it and completed the challenge!  Lily and the older girls washed there hair in an adjoining body of water. She said she could check washing her hair next to a duck off her bucket list.  Afterward drove to Snow Canyon for a hike to a cave. There we cut open glow sticks and splattered then on us and the walls so we could play glow in the dark hide and seek. It was a lot of fun! We settled on pizza from Little Caesars for dinner and ate it at an awesome park while we watched the little and big kids play on the toys. What a full, fun, and exhausting day!


When we first began our plans in January about where to celebrate Spring Break and determining that we would camp to save money, etc. Lily was less than excited. She was worried about the bike rides, and hates germs so camping isn’t her favorite. The thing that kept her excited was the opportunity she wanted to take to do baptisms for the dead in the St. George temple. So she invited her friend Bailey Peterson and I to join her. We went first thing on Saturday morning. When we got back to camp the crew was getting ready to head out for another bike ride on bearclaw poppy trail. I stayed back at camp and relaxed/organized a bit while Bailey and Lily hid candy on the rocks for an Easer Hunt. When all returned we let the kids find the candy. The older kids were able hunt for 5 – $1 bills and 1- $20. Owen was the one to ride the $20. In the afternoon, the Lance Parker family left for home and we – along with Puzey fam, made the drive to Zion’s National Park and in hopes to climb Angel’s Landing. Each of us made it to the scout lookout, but only the oldest kids and Stephen summited. It sure is a beautiful world that we live in! As were were driving back to St. George, Stephen started wondering about the idea of staying on a hotel that night so we could get him back to the airport on Sunday in time for his flight to Austin TX. After a long debate, we decided to take Casey up on his offer to stay in their hotel room. haha! So we got creative and made some interesting sleeping arrangements. Mason shared a bed with Stephen and I. Lily slept by Ashlyn on a hide-away bed and Olivia, JT and Ellie slept on the floor. What a great family to make memories with! So funny and truly gracious.

Poop Patrol!

We were able to wake up and head out of town right on schedule! It was Easter Sunday, so I made a few things for us to discuss and talk about as we drove to feel like we experienced church and took time to honor the glorious truth that Jesus Christ is Risen! Stephen made it to the airport in fact ahead of schedule and the rest of us came home unloaded the car and ran off to the Parker Family Easter party at John and Michelle’s home. What a fast and furious weekend full of unforgettable memories and beauty!

Deliberate Self-Help Mothering + Book Reviews

It’s a good word: deliberate. I really like what it makes me feel like when I say it. It makes me feel planned, dependable, organized, ready, proactive, and motivated. When I use this as the adjective before mothering it is a bit overwhelming too! But I still like it nonetheless. Something I love to do for a past time is read a lot of self-help books. I’ve decided that the reason I like it so much is because I take my job as a mother very seriously and I’m always looking for ways to perfect it. Since circumstances and needs of 5 children are ever changing, I’m sure that it is a quest and need that will never go away. I love being a mom, but it is stinking hard. HARD! I didn’t know it would be such a challenge when I signed onto the job as a new mom at age 21; but if it wasn’t such a challenge I’m certain the joy and rewards, when they come, wouldn’t feel as amazing! I’ve learned through the course of my study and planning that parenting/mothering is not for wimps. I have to be strong and not care when my child says, “I hate you” or glares at me then rolls her eyes. I can’t take it personal when the tantrums, pouting, and sulking pour out abundantly, nor be humiliated and embarrassed when mistakes happen in public and both of us forget the things we know we should do. I just have to say that what I do know for sure is that I am an imperfect mother who loves her imperfect children. The family quest is to be our best selves (whatever it is for the given day). This sure is a healthy approach and I will need to refer back to this paragraph when the pressure is turned on again and emotions are flaring. 🙂

As stated above, I have sort of an obsession with self-help kinds of books. Again as I think about this, I’m always trying to look for ways to make what I do everyday better. I also like to have fresh and new ideas to try and see what possibilities are out there. I also enjoy learning and seeing things from many different perspectives. So I would like to take a second and give a shout out to some great books that I’ve gleaned ideas from through the past years.


#1 – First off the bat, I cannot stress enough the importance it has been for me to read the scriptures! When I read from the scriptures I am inspired by the kinds of parents found in there. The amount of faith needed many years ago is probably the same amount of faith that I need now to teach my children the ways of God. Through reading the scriptures I understand my own nothingness and the need for acknowledging that these children in my home are actually God’s children – that they are on loan to me here on earth. With this in mind it becomes paramount that I use the life-line that prayer can be in giving me the inspiration needed to reach the spirits that have come to live in my home. If I can keep focused on where we all came from and what our purpose and goal is in being here, I will be able to be like the parents I read about in the scriptures. Right now my favorite advice given in the Book of Mormon is from Lehi. It is found in 1 Nephi 8:37-38, it is a great couple of verses, but the last line says it all for ME personally, “and he did cease speaking to them.” LOVE this advice. Sometimes I just need to trust my kids after I’ve said & done all I can, then let them decide for themselves.

#2, #3, #4 – Three books from Richard and Linda Eyre: The Entitlement Trap, Teaching your Children Values, and How to talk to your child about sexThe Entitlement Trap came at a time in my life when I needed to learn about teaching and expecting ownership in my children – ownership is the remedy to entitlement. I needed to know that when they make mistakes it is good and ok for them to own up to them and I don’t have to take them on and feel the guilt from them. I also learned that ownership is linked to many different life experiences, such as: our health, money, testimonies, relationships, etc… The book, Teaching your Children Values gives parents the idea of focusing on specific values each month for a year. Honesty is the first value and we learned that honesty is the foundation of all other principles. I LOVED teaching this and focusing on it and now we are building. This month we are teaching about peace-ability – something that our home could greatly benefit from. I typed & printed off the suggested monthly word and magnetized it to our fridge where it can be stared at every time we eat as a reminder. How to Teach your Child about Sex – a super uncomfortable and awkward subject before reading the book and a less super uncomfortable and awkward subject afterward. It gives great dialoguing and suggestions to teach appropriate ways to explain where babies come from.  It treats the subject as “the most wonderful beautiful and awesome thing in the world” – I think that is cool. If you think about it, it really shouldn’t be embarrassing, we need to be the ones to teach this NOT the radio, TV/movies, friends, school, or internet. I want my kids to know they can talk to Stephen and I about this and that we treat this subject as respectful, special, wonderful, and sacred.

#5 – The Child Whisperer – by, Carol Tuttle. This book has really given me a new way to look at all people not just my children. Carol Tuttle teaches that we all are born with a “nature” something we generally call our personality and that our nature and facial/body features are connected. She has broken it down into four “types” – very much like the color-code book (think red, blue, white, & yellow) but on a much deeper level. I really appreciated reading this book! It helps me be much more patient and understanding as a parent. It helps give me ideas of ways to connect with the different needs/natures of my children and reasons to why they behave and act certain ways. It also empowers me with what I can do to support them in living true to who they are. I also learned a lot about myself and am more gentle, accepting, and content with my own “Type 4/1” nature. I don’t feel such a need to try to be like “so and so”, but just focus on being my best self. If we were all the same it would be a boring world. I like how this book teaches us to appreciate the wonderful attributes that others have to offer and be ok with ourselves.

#6 – The Parenting Breakthrough, by Merrilee Browne Boyak. I LOVE this book – it is my most recent read. It gives the reader great ideas on why its important to have kids work! She explains that when kids learn how to work, and provide for themselves and acquire other necessary life skills they need to know before they are 18 and leave our homes,  that they will have more confidence and better self-respect and esteem.  She has a comical way of taking the reader through the book so it is light hearted, yet important. She comes across as a REAL mother, even though she clearly has it all together. Favorite things from this book are the idea of creating a family time line, not being afraid to have tough love and expect kids to work, and teaching skills that will in turn give our children the confidence they need to navigate life when they leave the comforts of our home and need to be independent. I highly recommend that ALL parents read this book.

He is not here for, He is Risen

What a powerful principle, to know that He is risen from the dead and thus making it possible for all man to rise again.  The simplicity yet the power of the statement is amazing. It says volumes in just a few words.  I know that He is Risen and that we too will rise again!

Matthew 28: 5-6

“And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

Act with FAITH; don’t react with FEAR

easter familyAct with faith; don’t react with fear. When our teenagers begin testing family values, parents need to go to the Lord for guidance on the specific needs of each family member. This is the time for added love and support and to reinforce your teachings on how to make choices. It is frightening to allow our children to learn from the mistakes they may make, but their willingness to choose the Lord’s way and family values is greater when the choice come from within than when we attempt to force those values upon them. The Lord’s way of love and acceptance is better than Satan’s way of force and coercion, especially in rearing teenagers.”

Elder Robert D. Hales, Ensign, May 1999

We cannot live on “borrowed light”

The parable of the ten virgins is so very powerful to me as there is such a deeper meaning than what you may initially perceive. We cannot wait until the end to “fill our lamps”, as I raise my family, I try so hard to express the importance of this principle and let them know that we as parents will not always be there to lean on.  As much as I would love to give them my testimony it is not possible, they have to establish their own testimonies, their own oil so to speak.  We each must fill and continually fill our lamps by living the gospel and becoming what we learn and teach.  We never know when we will be called upon to stand strong in the storm.

Matthew 25:1-13

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

A new commandment I give unto you…

I was touched and learned a lot more from the powerful parables that the Savior taught, including the commandment to love one another. It is much easier to love someone who you know loves you, but to love someone who may actually hate you or mock you is very difficult.  It is even more difficult when they outwardly express they do not want you to love or care about them.  Yet it is essential for us to do this in order to be worthy to enter the kingdom of God.
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thyneighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”