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

Your mom goes to College…

"Your mom goes to College" says Kip from Napoleon Dynamite.

That's me….I'm the mom, almost 40 years old, been married almost 20 years, and here's my story.

For the past 2 years that Stephen has returned to working at BYUI I have been dreaming and scheming of someday going back to school…when JT started first grade. It seems like at the beginning of each semester I would go through majors and envision myself in the distant future with some sweet career. Don't get me wrong – I LOVE BEING A MOM. It is my first choice and I want to spend the rest of my life being as good of a mom/grandma as possible. It is what I always wanted to be when I grew up and I'm living my dream. BUT for some reason I also yearn for more knowledge and a marketable skill in case of tragedy. I decided I would do it (take some classes) when I was released from being Primary President. Well this year in January, I anticipated being released as changes were evident but to my great surprise I was extended the calling to be the YW President. I realized that my education would be on hold and that Heavenly Father has different plans in mind for me.

I Love the Young Women and serving them and now feel like I'm in the groove! In April, Stephen decided that he would submit my application to BYUI and got me an interview with Stake Presidency to be endorsed. I was dragging my feet because I didn't see how I was EVER going to survive school, being a parent and wife, community volunteer, doing my best in my calling, and keeping up with housework. SO I enrolled in a guitar class…:) It ended up being a lot of work (practicing 45 min a day) and after 2 weeks I found out I couldn't even take the class because I was accepted for the Fall/Winter semesters. I'm not going to lie – I was relieved.

Move on to May – Stephen decided that building a gym onto our house would be a great idea…I consented dragging my feet because of many worries concerning time, energy, & money. It was very important to him (that is a long story for another entry). We are still in the process of finishing things up – getting very close!! To pay for this gym project the idea to finish our attic and turn it into an apartment was suggested, but things have been off and on complicated with that. I decided instead of sitting around waiting to see if the apartment idea was going to work that I would go see what kind of work I could do to help supplement the income. The only acceptable idea for me was to work for the school district so that I could have the same schedule as my kids. I decided to be a substitute teacher, put my name on the lunch lady list, and also applied for a couple of other positions. As I filled out applications and made a resume I was a bit discouraged at the lack of experience and qualifications I have. It was in that moment I decided that I am NOT OK with it, it is time for me to chip away at earning my bachelor's degree. I don't care if I never ever use it and have a job – in fact I hope I never have to really. BUT I WILL have skills and qualifications to do something I choose to do – even if it takes me the next 15 years. I'm grateful I have earned my associate degree so I am not starting at ground 0. I don't want to ever feel trapped in a job or situation if I could be doing something now. It is exciting and scary and overwhelming, BUT really GOOD!

So I am easing in slowly…signed up to take Family Foundations (a religion class on the Family Proclamation required for graduation). Stephen is in my class and my brother in law John is our teacher. I really enjoy the class a lot so far. I am also taking a class called, Career Exploration. I decided that taking time to discover the best path for my personality, interests, and skills would save me a lot of time in the grand scheme of things and I also want verification that I am choosing the best degree choice for the lifestyle and family time I want. Last but not least I am enrolled in beginning swimming!!! YIKES…I'm most nervous about this class as it is going to put me face to face (literally) with a few of my fears. It will be a great thing to be able to accomplish and I look forward to the end – not the journey in this class. 🙂

And that is the behind the scene look at this new College adventure!

Report Card

Today started out promising. I woke up early, ran 5 miles with my reliable friend Heidi and then came home and everybody woke up without too much trouble and was ready for scriptures and made it to the bus stop on time. Nobody cried when they got their hair fixed. I think everyone had their homework completed etc. That is a lot of to have accomplished before 7:45 am right?!

After everybody left I spent time organizing, planning, & preparing things for Young Women. I dedicated a large portion of my morning to that and having JT sit on my lap and try to help me because he was scared of the noise we both heard. He isn't a fan of mice and we think we heard something suspicious. I was able to help a friend with carpool to Kindergarten because her child was sick and said I love you to JT when he got out of the car and waved. I came & home finished a few things up for a YW presidency meeting, made Visiting Teaching appointments for Wednesday (last day of the month), and touched base with my parents. I responded to a funny email that Stephen sent to me, and also emailed Mason on a few concerns I had concerning his grades.

At my meeting I tried hard to be thoughtful and not just rush through things and get to the point. I tried to be a better listener instead of always giving my opinion. I was nervous about being on time to pick up Olivia and her friend for gymnastics because our meeting was getting long. We had a productive meeting and I was only 10 minutes later to pick up the girls than I wanted to be, but they were in good spirits and we only were 1 minute late to class. I went into the class and watched and waved and smiled at Olivia while she did her tricks. She is so cute and getting really good. I was proud when I saw her accomplish her goal and I recorded her doing a running round off back handspring. I even sent it off to people to brag about her.

When I got home I didn't loose my patience when I saw Mason ride up on his bike after I told him not to ride it because he didn't have his homework done. I came into the house and saw Lily helping JT with his homework. I praised them for doing a good job, and hopefully Lily felt appreciated, because I really was thankful!

I looked at the sink full of dishes that had been accumulating since last night and wondered when they were going to get done. All of the sudden Stephen was home from work and Lily solicited him to fix the pedal on the piano. I had just gotten a call from Alexis and she needed a ride home from Math Lab, so I left to pick her up. She asked what was for dinner. I said, "What do you want?" I was looking for ideas. I tried to be friendly and interested in her day and sucked up my frustration when it wasn't met with much of a dialogue.

Entered the door to home and faced a husband we was ready to go fix up the apartment. I was feeling super exhausted at this time, since I woke up early, and I was also feeling cold and unmotivated. He helped me feel optimistic and I changed my clothes. I decided to stay back and fix dinner and do the dishes while they got started. It felt really good to get those dishes done. I was happy to find watermelon in the refrigerator for dinner that I had forgotten about.

Mason came in and wanted to go on a bike ride with his friend that just got word he was moving and has been a little bit sad about it. I decided to let him go to the canyon, even though it was FHE and we hadn't eaten. I knew it would mean a lot to Mason and I just decided I had to go with the spirit of the law.

Everyone else came back in to eat – we had a good discussion/FHE on unselfishness and sensitivity (I thought). Everyone was participating and had good feedback, except Lexi who is has slipped into the teenage abyss. BUT she was the best worker over at the apartment while it was being painted/cleaned – So kudos to her for that.

This is where things started to fall apart. Blame it on my lack of sleep or fear/anxiety about mice, etc… I was tense going over there. It brings back some bad memories from when we lived there and I had some emotional issues. I worry about mice. I worry that things aren't looking clean, and well taken care of, and the shelves are not caulked very well. DUMB things to care about. I was overwhelmed. Kids were painting, paint was getting on the floor, everyone was helping – I should have been delighted…but I was NOT. I was frozen in a stupor and then turned into a barking mom. I was feeling the pressure of the fact that the white paint that was being used to touch things up was not a match to the paint on the ceiling/walls, creating more work! I then heard a family of mice rummaging around in the wall. I started to voice my stress and it seemed to me to be met with mockery from Lexi and Stephen. I don't think they can even begin to imagine the fear that I was feeling. Thankfully Stephen put out mouse traps in there and I hope we will get the problems all taken care of the next couple of weeks that we have until our renter will take occupancy.

I came in to a mini kitchen mess that I hurried to clean up, before going down to the prayer. I got down the stairs to find the chaos of kids changing bedrooms. A triple bunk bed rigged up in Mason's room that now was Livy, and JT's too. Lily and Olivia were making plans of what and where to put stuff. Clothes were being transferred…btw it was 9:15pm. I was pushing back the mountain of loud roars ready to come out of me. I walked out of the room and tried to avoid the whole deal. Kids were crying and whining. Older kids were pouting and rolling their eyes at me, Stephen was sitting their like kid in a candy store ready to break ground on his gym plans and a backhoe is sitting in my yard ready to be torn up. I calmly tried to explain my feeling to everyone. I was reminded of how I am the one who ruins all of the plans. I was reminded of how Stephen gets them all excited about his ideas and then I get to be the one to either deal with it or make a big deal and cause contention. Some days I feel it is me against them. I wonder, where is the family council meeting? Where is the organized method of pulling these projects off? Why are people running around like chickens with their heads cut off starting projects and not finishing them??!!! I lost it – especially when I looked up and saw the look of annoyance in Lexi's face and was reminded how one of my good friends (my daughter) no longer wants to be my friend. Right now it seems like she wants/needs a mom who I am apparently not. It hurts, but it's the truth. That is when I realized. I am going to choose to get an F today. Mom failure. I stood up walked away calmly, trying not to create a big scene – just need to go and spend a lot of time by myself to process all of this craziness. So here I am sorting this day out. I know it will all feel better soon, I know I have the choice to make this a big deal for a long time or not. I know that I can pout or love. I know that I can isolate and ignore the people I feel hurt and betrayed by, but it will only hurt me. I know that I will someday read this and smile and laugh and say, how did I ever survive? I know it will all be ok even though it feels like a big deal now. I know I'm going to have to get up in the morning and make breakfast and do this all over again.

Wish me luck!




Today I met an Apostle

Today our Stake had the privilege of hosting a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles: Elder Dallin H. Oaks. He had been in Rexburg speaking at devotional, training bishops & stake presidents, etc. & our stake was the lucky one chosen to get to have him address us for Sunday meetings. It was an honor to get to shake his hand and watch my children meet such a special priesthood holder of our church. Alexis was asked to sing in the youth choir and even got to sit directly behind Elder Oaks. 🙂

Before I write further I need to give a weekly background of events leading up to Sunday, I began praying, as soon as I heard he was coming, that I would have a personal confirmation of Elder Oak's call to be an apostle and representative of Jesus Christ. It is interesting to note how Satan began working on me in small subtle ways after doing so. As the week wore on I had really weird random worldly doubts enter into my mind and thoughts. 1. One of my former Visiting Teaching ladies has left the church and puts anti-mormon propaganda on her FaceBook page, on one particular day what I read kind of bothered me and I let it kind of fester a little instead of immediately dispel the thought. 2. Stephen mentioned a weird random fact he had recently heard from our church history that got me thinking and wondering that he saw from a crazy email came that came across the BYUI servers, 3. this email was a warning to President Clark that many of the students are having doubts and questioning some of the doctrine, 4. I also had a a ward member talking to me about how President Monson had been summoned to court in England and had charges against him for representing false doctrine, 5. there is also so much filtering the media about same sex marriage and how those against it are bigots. All of this combined with 6. how busy I was to not sit down and infuse myself in study and prayer to find peace got me feeling confused and a little bit scared. So I held tight to the prayer that I was going to get the opportunity to hear from an apostle who speaks for Jesus Christ.

Now a record of today's events: We arrived at our Stake Center at 8:30 the meeting was set to begin at 10. ALL of the soft seats were taken and we were left to sit at the front of overflow in the gym. I was proud of our Stake members and their support and excitement in meeting one of the Lord's servants – way to represent Sugar City! It is a wonderful place to live. In fact Elder Oaks complimented us on how unique and rare the high numbers and our stake reports looked. He said we should thank the Lord for living in a such a blessed community. I do feel blessed!

As he stood to speak at our local pulpit – the same one I have spoken from, it felt a bit surreal. He seemed just like one of us in a good way and then he began to speak. His message was simple, a message of Love. He explained that as he prayed for guidance on what he should share that was the impression he received. He reminded us that "the love of God is unconditional…that the road to qualify for the justice of God & ultimately exaltation requires us to repent, be baptized, keep commandments, etc. so that His spirit can be with us. He spoke of the fact that anyone can have the blessing of exaltation we just need to have DESIRE. He said, "if you desire eternal life, you can have it! There is NO sin that cannot be forgiven" (other than the unpardonable ones very few commit – killing someone). He cautioned that "DESIRE is what stands between us and Eternal life." He gave the youth a scripture to post on the bulletin boards in their rooms: D&C 38:42, "Go ye out from among the wicked, SAVE YOURSELVES (take responsibility for your choices). Be ye clean (live virtuos lives) that bear the vessels of the Lord." (for YM & Priesthood holders the vessels are the emblems of the flesh & blood or sacrament. For YW & YM he reminded them that there is no more sacred vessel than the body that God has created. for YW he said those sacred bodies are carried and brought into the world through a daughter of God)

Throughout his talk it was a build up to a powerful answer to my prayer and suddenly I was overcome inside and received that witness that I had desired. I appreciated His words and message of Love. It is one that resonates inside of me, it is what I would expect all of us that have chosen to follow Jesus Christ and be his disciples would benefit from. This simple message took all of the confusion and worry away from the week's random questions and it was completely gone and still is. The reassuring warmth and comfort that enveloped my soul gave me peace and confidence in the ways of God and the doctrine of the church I belong to: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know I heard from a special witness of Christ, that He is one chosen to a mouth piece in teaching us the things to do to find happiness now and have hope in the things to come when our life here is through.

To top of the conference the closing song was our "family song". The 3rd verse to "How Firm a Foundation" was the icing on the cake of my spiritual comfort and quest for inner peace. I sang and felt like God was speaking to me, "Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed. For I am thy God and will still give thee aide. I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand."

LOVE today, can't wait to keep LOVING everyone, LOVE the gospel, LOVE my Heavenly Father and His plan for us, LOVE that I can be with my family forever. I want the kind of LOVE that helps me LOVE without strings attached or have to keep my guard up, or better said, the LOVE that helps me see others through GOD's eyes. This sounds like the ultimate quest for a lifetime and I'm ready to try to take it on.

Diamond in the Rough

Picture in your mind all of the beautiful & different shapes a diamond can be cut into. If you had to quickly determine which shape you would choose if you got to be known at the end of your life as one of these shapes, which would you pick? I would like to point out that all of these shaped diamonds are beautiful and priceless and have each had to go through a refining process. Now some questions to consider, what if all of the diamonds in the world could only be cut one way – like round? Wouldn’t it be boring? I think you can see where I’m going with this. One of the phrases we use in life about potentional is "she's a diamond in the rough" – which would literally mean a piece of coal, but figuritvely speaking mean someone who is going to become something amazing. So have you decided shape do you think you would be? How do you express yourself in your own unique way? You may have some things in common with your friends, but I am confident there are also just as many differences. Some of us are small, some of us are tall; some may prefer brown skirts, others of us like black; Some have been blessed with a tender and soft heart, others with bold and unwavering devotion; Some of us are spunky and know how to get to work and get ‘er done. Others have the gift to make things light and fun. Which shape do you like to sparkle in? For each of us there is a unique way that we will feel most capable of "coming unto to Christ and being perfected in Him". Let’s not fight against those capabilities but magnify them & embrace them. And on the other hand let us appreciate the other people we admire for their unique examples and then use this understanding as we work together to perfect ourselves. We don’t all have to be the same. Each of us is enough being uniquely who we are inside & out– we don’t all have to be the same "shape". Isn’t that refreshing? We can each ultimately become the diamonds we are meant to be as we handle the pressures of life, but in the end our shapes will be specific to whom we have always been, even before the world began. !A word of caution! How many of you know what a cubic Zirconia is? Cubic zirconia—commonly called CZ—is widely used as an inexpensive diamond substitute. I found this quote from when researching about diamonds: "There’s no need to shell out the big bucks for a diamond dazzler. Cubic zirconia jewelry offers a unique eye-catching shimmer without having to break the bank." To the untrained eye, a brand new CZ looks like a real diamond. This is why many people substitute them for the real thing. The two substances may look similar—especially when new and clean—but they’re not! Unlike diamonds, CZ’s scratch and become dull and lifeless over the long term. They don’t sparkle like real diamonds either once you’ve worn them for a bit. The world would have us believe that superficial things are real and that we can sacrifice quality. Please DON’T BELIEVE it. The world is the big and spacious building we read about in Nephi's account of the tree of life. I think sometimes when we pick up a magazine and see the flawless faces of the models it’s hard not to believe the little lies that Satan places in our thoughts, that we are ugly and not good enough. That we will never be that good. What we don’t see is the unhealthy habits or the air brushing techniques that accomplished the flawless look. It is hard to see the picture for what it truly is. It looks like a diamond, but it’s really only a CZ right? Would could use this example with countless other things. Let’s put all of these ideas together. A CZ would probably go through the motions of going to church and taking the sacrament, but not ever develop a deep rooted testimony. A flawless and uniquely shaped diamond in the rough, might look like this depending on our strengths. Some may show love to God by reading their scriptures diligently, others will want to do something like go on a hike and feel reverence for the creations that God has given to us to enjoy. A few others of us will find it easy to be a cheerleader with encouraging words when others feel down; some of you will find it easy to reach out and give someone a hug or make them a favorite treat to demonstrate how much you care. As we embrace that we truly are a diamond in the rough, it is easier to stay focused on keeping the two greatest commandments to love God and love one another. Our brother, Jesus Christ’s, perfect example of humble confidence is one for each of us to strive for no matter what cut we are. He had the humility necessary to glory in "His father", and then through that found the confidence He needed to heal lepers, feed the hungry, give the blind their sight, walk on water, teach forgiveness, and help the homeless. He is there for us, waiting with arms open wide. He will mold our lives and change our willing hearts. He will safely guide us and gently lead us through our "roughness" until we are ready to stand before Heavenly Father at the end our days as a uniquely shaped & sparkling diamond. I know this is true for each of us!

A few thoughts about mortal bodies

The other day our family was having a dinnertime conversation to which JT posed a question after the topic of birthdays came up. He said, “Mom, what day was I born on?” Finding this question puzzling since I knew that he knew the date of his birthday I reminded him, “February 26th.” He had the happiest most amazed look, and exclaimed with his sparkling eyes and raspy voice, “I was born on my birthday!” Of course this produced a round of laughter. Isn’t child like wonder a magical thing?

When I was a little girl, one of the questions I remember wondering to my parents was, “Why didn’t you name me a cute and more common name like Stephanie?” To which I felt like I was given a few unsatisfactory explanations, until one day my mom finally said; “We had a couple of names in mind, and we just thought you looked more like a Jodi than a Penny”. After that I decided that my parents chose the perfect name for me. My brothers and sister still call me by my nickname, “Jo”. Some of us have often heard the phrase, “just your average Jo” when referring to someone that is typical or common. A few years ago I connected something, I had an ah-hah moment when I realized; this is totally true about me! I let the idea roll around in my head until it stuck to my inner thoughts. I genuinely felt ok about it all because I tend to want to comfortably blend in most of the time. I wonder if any of you have ever felt this way too at times, even if your nickname isn’t Jo? I’ll explain later how this relates to my talk, so be just be patient with me.

But for now, I would love to take time with you to tap into our inner birthday child wonder and rediscover how awesome it is that we were born on our birthdays!

It’s actually amazing isn’t it that we were born and are living here on earth at this time? If we really have a testimony of the Plan of Salvation, in particular that we lived in Heaven as spirits before we came to earth in mortality, this notion is reason to celebrate big time! This is our chance to see how we are going to continue to choose Jesus Christ as our Savior, we know from what we’ve been taught that we did choose to follow him before we came and that is why we were given the privilege to receive an earthly body. We have been waiting a pretty long time to get our turn to see what we can do around here, somewhere roughly around the 6000-year mark. This is one of the reasons I want to believe that birthdays can still be just as magical at 39, 6 or 73 after all it’s the anniversary of the day you and I received these bodies we came to church in today, the bodies that were created in the image of God as we’ve been taught.

In His conference address entitled, “Decisions for Eternity”, Russell M. Nelson gave a beautiful description of these bodies that house our spirits. He said, “My professional years as a medical doctor gave me a profound respect for the human body. Created by God as a gift to you, it is absolutely amazing! Think of your eyes that see, ears that hear, and fingers that feel all the wondrous things around you. Your brain lets you learn, think, and reason. Your heart pumps tirelessly day and night, almost without your awareness. Your body protects itself. Pain comes as a warning that something is wrong and needs attention. Infectious illnesses strike from time to time, and when they do, antibodies are formed that increase your resistance to subsequent infection. Your body repairs itself. Cuts and bruises heal. Broken bones can become strong once again.” End quote. Isn’t this a WONDER?!

Elder David Bednar enlightened us with something very serious to consider during his conference address from April 2013, “As sons and daughters of God, we have inherited divine capacities from Him. But we presently live in a fallen world. The very elements out of which are bodies were created are by nature fallen and ever subject to the pull of sin, corruption, and death. … And yet we are dual beings, for our spirit that is the eternal part of us is tabernacle in a physical body that is subject to the Fall. As Jesus emphasized to the Apostle Peter, The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).Because a physical body is so central to the Father’s plan of happiness and our spiritual development, Lucifer seeks to frustrate our progression by tempting us to use our bodies improperly. The very tool he does not have is thus the primary target of his attempts to lure us to spiritual destruction.” Close quote.

Unfortunately, this is true, and as I’ve gotten older I’m see that the world’s influences swim upon us in big waves as we are trying to remember this. I want to again accentuate Satan and his followers didn’t get the honor of having an earthy body and they are more than jealous! I’m sure they are delighted to see things like: addictions to food, drugs, gaming, pornography; media influences that mock virtue; infidelity and immorality; and domestic violence and abuse to name just a few. These are all things that Satan and his followers throw at us, whether we are watching, participating, or a victim of somebody else’s choice these are a reality. All of these and more can truly leave us heartbroken, confused, and questioning.

Elder Russell M. Nelson gave us hope when he acknowledged, “Mistakes happen. Errors are made. Sins are committed. What can we do then? We can learn from them. And we can truly repent [and I am going to insert her forgive ourselves and others]. We can change our behavior. Our very desire can change. How? There is only one way. True change, permanent change, can come only through the healing, cleansing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He loves you, each of you! He allows you to access His power as you keep His commandments, eagerly, earnestly, and exactly. It is that simple and certain.” End quote

Our flesh and bones were the first gift we received in mortality. We only get one body. We must be watchful to not believe the lies of negative and destructive behavior or thinking that Satan places before us. In YW each week we recite, “We are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him. We will stand (this sometimes means literally with our bodies) as witnesses of Him at all times, in all things, and in all places. It is true for sons and daughters alike and no matter what age we are! As we keep God’s commandments, we prove that we are worthy of our destiny to become like Him. We all matter and we each have a unique purpose, Heavenly Father loves us! IF this is true, and my testimony is that is absolutely is, that means that individually we can do amazing things that will become extraordinary when joined together as followers and disciples of Jesus Christ. We matter! Nobody is just an average Jo- not even me!

Lastly, I would like to say, “happy birth day” to each one of us. It is my testimony that God does have a plan for us. It was presented to us before the world began. We have been waiting for our turn to come here and have this experience to prove our willingness to continue to follow the Savior in these latter days! Our bodies, no matter the current condition, are amazing. Let us not take for granted the gift and opportunity it is to be living the mortal experience. Let us be grateful for the challenges our bodies give us to remind us that at least we have one. Let us have respect for them and other people’s and treat them with dignity and virtue, never to defile the miraculous gift for what it is. It is my hope and prayer that we may each cherish every day of our mortal lives and be found as one ready to become who the Lord needs us to be as we help the rest of our spirit brothers and sisters throughout the world understand this important truth.

Feelings from a Rookie expressed through a letter

Dear Sugar 6th Ward YW,

I’m BACK! You just can’t get rid of me can you? Sister Stewart has caused quite a raucous in our ward hasn’t she? You can blame her for all of this – Those YW stake leaders figured out what we had here in our ward and decided we had to share her with all of the YW in our stake!

Just so you all know, I am just as sad as the rest of you all that she and the rest of your previous leaders time to serve you was up. I think I had more tears than some of you on Sunday over this. 😉 I can genuinely say I love Sister Stewart. I love Sister Pingry. I love Sister Wise. I love Sister Angel. I love Sister Michaelson.  I love Sister Schmitt. It’s true they weren’t my YW leaders, but they are my friends. I know just how special they each are and how much good was done because of their service to each of you! I like how Sister Stewart put it to the laurels on Sunday. She told them they would always be a piece of her, and that hopefully (and we know this is true) she will always be a piece of you girls. You have made special & fun memories together – NEVER to be forgotten, but to be treasured in your hearts always. I still remember and love my Young Women leaders from over 25 years ago. I remember how certain leaders had such a big impact on me at certain times in my life when I needed them. I remember the love and acceptance I felt and the confidence they gave to me to have Christ’s image in my countenance. I remember the carefully written notes delivered to my mailbox and read in a great time of need. The Young Women Program is amazing and I have a testimony of the far reaching goodness it offers to the world as you young women turn into young college students, missionaries – eventually mothers who know how to stand for truth and righteousness and also carry values of faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice & accountability, good works, integrity and virtue. You truly are a bright light in a darkened world and your influence will have the power and potential to ripple throughout the future world if you allow it too!

Let’s just get the elephant out of the room. None of us would have expected me to be the YW president. It’s true!! I was beyond shocked when the Bishop called me into his office and extended the invitation. I wasn’t prepared for this ladies! In my mind I was going into his office wishing and hoping to get a call to be one of your Sunday School Teachers. As the bishop talked I had lots of thoughts roll through my mind – many of which you may have also had about me? Feelings of inadequacy, feelings of being overwhelmed, feelings of worry that so many other amazing women could and would surely do a better job, feelings of being sad that I will get to go to many meetings and be away from my cute family and husband. But then I remembered being in ward council a week before and hearing Bishop Andrews speak of you. He loves you – he cares deeply about what happens to you now and your future. I support Him and agree with him and know he is the Lord’s servant to lead all of us at this time and remind us to keep our covenants so we will have true happiness.  Because of this, I realized if the bishop called me in and asked me to the clean toilets, I would do it! I am willing to do anything that Jesus Christ calls me to do through his servant, our bishop. Even though it is daunting, I am so completely excited!!! I have loved each of you girls since I served you in Primary a few years ago. You have been a piece of my heart for all the years I have lived in our ward. I have LOVED watching you grow, develop, and mature into the beautiful daughters of God you each are. I have learned from your testimonies as you’ve shared them. I look forward to spending time with you at this time in your lives. I want you to know I love each of you, I look at you and marvel at the good you do. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has brought me much joy and carried me through some dark days too. I know that we can do anything through Christ the Lord who strengths us. We are so blessed. The Lord loves us. We are going to have a blast together. We have amazing new leaders who I know are to the ones to be here and bless your lives at this impressionable time. Sister Baggett, Sister Norman, Sister Lerwill, Sister Robinson, Sister Hamblin, Sister Ricks, and on Sunday there will be another added to this list – they each are ready to love and support you. Lean on them, give them your respect, acknowledge and look for ways they will strengthen your testimony. Watch their example of how they keep their covenants and how they find lasting happiness in their lives. They are amazing women – that were once in the same spot you are. They are each a standing beacon to you of what you have the potential to become. They have used the YW values to bless their lives and continue to do so as they stand for Truth and righteousness in a world of shifting values.

“Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him” – it’s our focus this year. As we do so, we will be blessed and protected from Satan’s influence. Let’s stay strong and let’s learn from and lean on each other.

Much Love,

Sister Parker

A Message for When I Die

Not to be morbid or jinx myself and not that I'm planning on dying anytime soon, but I am a nerdy planner and decided I would put some of my thoughts down for ideas to use at my funeral when the time arises for me to say good-by to earth and hello to heaven. 🙂 (That's where I'm hoping to find myself) I really want people to feel like I did when I went to my cousin, Alison's, funeral. I felt like I had just been to a wonderful & spiritual church meeting. I felt inspired to be a better person, to make every day count and strive to become my best self. I felt an overwhelming love from heaven showering down on earth reassuring me to be still and know that God's ways and plans are real and sure. I would hope things are set and prepared so that people could feel and experience a peacefulness and faithful assuredness that God loves us all and that through the gift of the atonement of Jesus Christ we can rejoice in the knowledge that we can all be together beyond our earthly lives.


Opening Song: I know that my Redeemer Lives

Life Sketch:  Keep it light and fun & short to help people feel comfortable. You know like tell the story about my violin teacher and the cats, how I loved blue skies and white puffy clouds and the sun, hot chocolate, running with my dear friends, and…..shoot, I guess I'm a little more serious than I wish I were.It must be said how much I love my husband, children, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are everything to me! I also love music – it has been a therapeutic way for me to express my deepest feelings, whether they be sorrow, despair, love, happiness, or contentment. Really stress how blessed I felt to grow up in the family I did – with loving parents, and amazing examples from my siblings. I also can't express how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful family to have married into. My HUSBAND, Stephen, made me feel the most loved of all – every day in various ways he was sure to let me know how much he loved me. Just thinking about him makes me happy and I smile. I couldn't feel more important & special than he has made me feel. I am so happy that he and shared his life with me and that we have the same eternal goals and desires. What a privilege and humbling experience it's been to be the mother of some extraordinary children: Lexi with her integrity, responsible, and fun nature; Mason with his passion, humility, and adventurous ways; Lily with her exact, determined, and thoughtful being; Olivia with her tender, sweet, and affectionate nature; and JT with his direct, intense, and loveable ways. All have enriched my life and inspired me to be a better person. What an honor it's been to be their mother.

Song: O Divine Redeemer – Solo or Trio

Talk: About the Plan of Salvation & Faith, Mercy, Grace, and Love.

Song: Savior, Redeemer, of My Soul with violin obbligato – the Dallyn Vail Bayles & Jenny Oaks Baker version from movie 17 Miracles.


Closing Song: Each life that touches ours for good – because it's how I feel about all of the people I have had the privilege of knowing and learning from.


FAVORITE SCRIPTURE: Moroni 10:32 Yea, acome unto Christ, and be bperfected in him, and cdeny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and dlove God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be eperfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Mother Teresa's Anyway Poem

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Just a side note: If I am ever on life support, I give my permission to my husband and/or children to make the decision to take me off if the need arises and quality of life is gone.  Keep in mind that I do not fear death and I would never want to prolong the inevitable. Just have faith and remember that we can be together forever.

You’re gonna hear me RoAr

Dear Satan,

I heard a great quote once from a lady I greatly admire. Julie B. Beck told all of us women at BYU Women's Conference,  "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." Guess what – I believe her! I even put a picture of a lioness in my room where I see it every day as a reminder.

So Satan, I know you like to make me feel like I am a crappy parent and that what I do isn't making a difference. I know you like to whisper negative thoughts into my ear about how I don't contribute to society because all I do is stay home all day and that I should go get a job or go back to school and get a career so I can drive a fancy car. I know you want me to believe that my kids don't listen to a word I say or care about things that are important to me. I know you are the one that tells me it's ok to be upset and angry and overwhelmed when things don't go my way or my house is a complete disaster.  I know you are trying to keep me so busy and tired that I don't want to stay awake to read my scriptures or pray when I go to bed at night. I know that you are the one that tells me that FHE was a failure when kids fight the whole time, or that when our family only reads one verse in our scriptures for family scripture study because we slept in too long that we aren't dedicated enough. You are the one who tells my kids that they are a loser or aren't good enough. You are the genuine author who puts naughty lyrics to a catchy tune. You are the one who makes us all feel worthless and alone and like failures. I really don't like you, you know that? You really get on my nerves.

I have faith in the idea that Sister Julie B. Beck counseled.  You can count on me to do everything in MY POWER to keep YOU out of my home because I care that all of us acquire and strengthen our own testimonies of Jesus Christ.  I care that we remember that we are children of a Heavenly Father who loves us. I care that we keep our covenants. I care that we are surrounding ourselves with wholesome and uplifting things. I care that we are good friends as well as choose friends with high gospel standards. I care that we learn to love and serve each other.  I care that we follow the prophet. I care that we have a desire to represent Jesus Christ and serve a mission to share the gospel with others. I care that we understand that the Family is of God. I care that we hold fast to the knowledge that marriage is between a man and a women that love, honor, and devote themselves to each other. I care that we are preparing ourselves to go to the temple. I care that we keep the commandments and are honest, hard working, and humble. I care that we know how much power can come through scripture study and prayer. I care that we care about good grades and want to continue learning for the rest of our lives. I care that we participate in activities that will keep our bodies healthy and strong. I care that we acquire talents that will give us confidence now and the ability to serve later. ALL of this matters to ME! So watch out, "You're gonna hear me Roar…louder than a lion cause I am a champion."


Jodi Parker

p.s. Please thank your friend, Katy Perry for the chorus of her new song that I quoted above… It reminds me of being the Lioness at the gate of my home. Actually, while you're at it, will you let her know that I am NOT a fan of her morals or dress code. Thanks that will be all. 🙂

Ode to the power of writing

The older I become, the more I get to understand myself. I am constantly learning and re-learning what works and what doesn't. One thing I have found that works for me is writing.

Today I want to acknowledge how therapeutic it is for me to write. For me, it isn't that I feel like I have important things to create or share. I am not wise, exciting, nor talented in this regard. I don't feel like it is my obligation to the world to be known for anything remarkable. Rather, I enjoy writing in my aloneness and rote simplicity.  With this said, I will clue you in on how much I relish the power of honey do and "things to do today" lists; the "what to make for dinner" plan;  a color-coded calendar; a note I can write to tell someone I love them or value what they've recently done; or even a place to organize and process my thoughts and feelings – such as this blog; more pointedly said: finding a moment to document the beautiful life that God has blessed me with is something that brings me joy!

I also love to brag about my children and my husband and realize that the one and only person in the world that most likely would enjoy hearing about it all is my mother; so journaling about it makes me feel satisfied and safe. Having a place to keep it for another day – when the danger of my kids getting big heads is past, and the threat of other people judging or being annoyed with my bragging is not an option – seems like a good plan!  

What would I do without the ability to type, physically write, or more importantly think? I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have been blessed with to read, write, process thought (though jumbled they seem), and think and make plans; thankful also for a safe and warm place to incubate it all, and the health and strength to keep learning and living! Life is good – oh so very good. The friendship I find in this process is very fulfilling and I feel settled and complete when we part.

{insert} big, happy, long, smiling sigh