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Daily planning page

Recently I posted a picture (on Instagram) of this daily planning page that I laminated and wrote on in the morning with a wet erase marker to plan my day. I rinsed it off each day to begin the day afresh. (Kind of symbolic for me. 😊) Here is the PDF link for anyone who’d like to print it off!



Encouragement File

Today I’m cleaning out my office (day 3), which includes going through and getting rid of a lot of old papers, files, and stuff. NOT my favorite job, but sometimes fun in the process!

One thing I’m learning: there’s a lot I filed away and never remembered was there or looked at again! For example: the encouragement file. I put a bunch of papers that had helped me through some hard times. I wanted to hold onto these but realized that the file wasn’t where I went for encouragement.

When I need a boost, I kneel down and pray. I talk to my husband or my children. I might call a friend. I write in my journal or maybe will compose a blog post. I open up my scriptures or the Ensign magazine. I might go exercise or eat a treat (the latter isn’t the wisest, I know). I might go serve someone. I might take a nap.

But some of these papers had some great thoughts in them, and I thought I might just include a few quotes in this little post to pay homage to previous helpful words:

D&C 123:17 “Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our poser; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.”

Hebrews 4:15-16  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our informities; but was in all poits tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let us therefor come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

“Do Not Despair” by President Ezra Taft Benson (video) (article). “To help us from being overcome by the devil’s design of despair, discouragement, depression, and despondency, the Lord has provided at least a dozen ways which, if followed, will lift our spirits and send us on our way rejoicing.”

“’When you find yourselves a little gloomy,’ said President Lorenzo Snow, ‘look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated’ (In Conference Report, 6 Apr. 1899, pp. 2–3.).”

“Good Health–A Key to Joyous Living” by Sister Barbara B. Smith (video and article)

“It Is Thy House, a Place of Holiness” by Elaine L. Jack (transcript)

“I saw a lot of people go in and out of that temple, and I never saw one drag out saying, ‘I wish I’d never come today!’ Quite the opposite. They left spiritually enriched, uplifted, ready to face what was ahead. These were good people we could count on to join with us often in temple worship and service. Some of our ordinance workers traveled five hours each way to complete their weekly assignments. President Ezra Taft Benson promised, ‘with increased attendance in the temples of God you shall receive increased personal revelation to bless your life as you bless those who have died.’ ”

“Because She Is a Mother” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (video and transcript)

“One young mother wrote to me recently that her anxiety tended to come on three fronts. One was that whenever she heard talks on LDS motherhood, she worried because she felt she didn’t measure up or somehow wasn’t going to be equal to the task. Secondly, she felt like the world expected her to teach her children reading, writing, interior design, Latin, calculus, and the Internet—all before the baby said something terribly ordinary, like ‘goo goo.’ Thirdly, she often felt people were sometimes patronizing, almost always without meaning to be, because the advice she got or even the compliments she received seemed to reflect nothing of the mental investment, the spiritual and emotional exertion, the long-night, long-day, stretched-to-the-limit demands that sometimes are required in trying to be and wanting to be the mother God hopes she will be.

“But one thing, she said, keeps her going: ‘Through the thick and the thin of this, and through the occasional tears of it all, I know deep down inside I am doing God’s work. I know that in my motherhood I am in an eternal partnership with Him. I am deeply moved that God finds His ultimate purpose and meaning in being a parent, even if some of His children make Him weep.

“’It is this realization,’ she says, ‘that I try to recall on those inevitably difficult days when all of this can be a bit overwhelming. Maybe it is precisely our inability and anxiousness that urge us to reach out to Him and enhance His ability to reach back to us. Maybe He secretly hopes we will be anxious,’ she said, ‘and will plead for His help. Then, I believe, He can teach these children directly, through us, but with no resistance offered. I like that idea,’ she concludes. ‘It gives me hope. If I can be right before my Father in Heaven, perhaps His guidance to our children can be unimpeded. Maybe then it can be His work and His glory in a very literal sense.’ ”

“Within and Beyond Ourselves: The role of conscience in modern business” by Robert C. Gay (transcript)

“Second, I also share these experiences with you because I have found as you guide your life’s decisions by the Spirit there is no such thing as careers—only fields of service—and that it does not make any difference whether you are a scientist, a social worker, or business person. In the world of the Spirit, home teaching and business leadership are one. Moreover, I am sure as we gather here today, many view us as distant and foreign from the real issues of life. Yet, please be assured, as C.S. Lewis once remarked in a speech to students at Oxford University:

” ‘The work of a Beethoven and the work of a charwoman become spiritual on precisely the same [basis], that of being offered to God, of being done humbly, “as to the Lord”.’ ”

“The Children of Christ” by Elder Neal A. Maxwell (transcript)

“Finally, I should like to leave my own witness. In my life, whichever way I turn, brothers and sisters, there looms Jesus, name of wondrous love. He is our fully atoning and fully comprehending Savior, and in the words of scripture, ‘There is none like unto him.’

“Whether taught in the holy scriptures or in the holy temples, his gospel is remarkable. Whether it concerns the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of the universe, the nature of this mortal experience, it is remarkable. His gospel is stunning as to its interior consistency. It is breathtaking as to its exterior expansiveness. Rather than existing without the gospel in a mortal maze, instead I stand all amazed at the wonders of that gospel that we should be privileged to be his children.”

“Finding Joy in Life” by Elder Richard G. Scott (video and transcript)

Checklist of Cognitive Distortions by David D. Burns (Google that phrase to learn more or go to this link from everydayhealth.com)

  1. All-or-n0thing thinking
  2. Over generalization
  3. Mental filter (dwelling on negatives)
  4. Discounting the positives
  5. Jumping to conclusions (mind-reading/fortune telling)
  6. Magnification or minimalization
  7. Emotional reasoning (“I feel stupid, so I must be”)
  8. “Should” statements (self-criticizing)
  9. Labeling (name-calling)
  10. Peronalization and blame (blaming yourself for something that wasn’t all your doing or blaming others for something you had a part in)

“Dealing with Stress and Discouragement” (article from “Handbook for Families” Feb.1990)

Elder Neal A. Maxwell has said, “When in situations of stress we wonder if there is any more in us to give, we can be comforted to know that God, who knows our capacity perfectly, placed us here to succeed. No one was foreordained to fail or to be wicked. When we have been weighed and found wanting, let us remember that we were measured before and we were found equal to our tasks; and, therefore, let us continue, but with a more determined discipleship. When we feel overwhelmed, let us recall the assurance that God will not overprogram us; he will not press upon us more than we can bear (D&C 50:40).” (“Meeting the Challenges of Today,” in Devotional Speeches of the Year, Provo: Brigham Young University, 1978, p. 156.)

“Instead of Yelling” by Debbie Pettey (article)

“I determined to change my behavior.”

“The Blessings of Unity” (Chapter 5, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay)

“Very frequently discords arise in the home because husbands desire to save their own dignity and have their own way, have their own wishes carried out. Wives desire the same. Some exercise their prerogative to have the last word. Husbands are sometimes even more eager to have it than wives. Each really is trying to save himself or herself, and instead of having harmony and peace in the home there arises discord. Instead of saving the life of harmony in the home, you lose it, merely because you are seeking to save your own selfish life, or have your own selfish way. Better to lose that desire. Say nothing, and in losing your desire and that feeling of enmity, of ruling, of governing, you say nothing, and you gain your life in the home.”

“Christmas Talk Valparaiso Ward” by Neil Call, Dec.24, 2006 (transcript of final page)

“Charles Dickens said, ‘Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.'” (this was on p.3 of his talk)



Last week, I received an unexpected surprise: My mother-in-law sent us 5 books that my sister-in-law gave her. She read them, loved them, and passed them on to us. Her goal at this stage in her life isn’t to acquire as many temporal possessions as possible, and she has learned the joy of giving.

Immediately my daughter and I began reading the Boston Jane series, which we love! Eliza read the 3 books in 3 days, I believe, and I read 2 in 4 days. (I stayed up late two of those days to have time to read!) I started the third book and am hoping to squeeze in some reading time this week as well.

This year I have been working on minimizing in my home, getting rid of things that are accumulating that we don’t use on a regular basis or won’t truly need as our family grows. This includes recognizing that I have many good books that have blessed my life that are simply sitting on my shelf and not being read. When I picked up two of the Boston Jane books this morning, I remembered something.

I had an idea not too long ago, to begin giving away books with a label on the inside that invites the receiver to read the book, review it, and pass it on to someone else who would like to read it. This week, I received a text from a dear friend telling me that soon she will have a “Free Little Library” in her yard soon. I was so excited! I remembered my idea, and as I held these books in my hand, and decided that today is the day that I will begin my idea by sharing it on my blog.

Next I will make the labels to go inside the books, and then I will begin putting labels in the books and giving the books away. I would like to share one book each month on my Instagram account (@raisingamazingchildren.com) and create a page for it here on my blog. Then as people read the book, they can add their comments to the blog. I would even like to mail books to people who would like to read them, one book a month.

I think I will begin with these three Boston Jane books. As soon as everyone in my family who wants to read it reads it, I will give them away. I’m so excited!

Please go to the Raising Amazing Children Friendship Library Project (RACFLP) page for a list of books that I are in circulation with links to their info/comment pages. Check out my Instagram account for postings about books I am giving away each month.




Nurturing love at home 💚

If I could have made a video representing the most important message of my blog, this would be it! Thanks to lds.org for creating and sharing this video! To go to the blog post from which this video originated on the click here.


Grandma’s Syrup

Sarah texted me from Greece asking for Grandma’s syrup recipe. Everyone LOVES Grandma’s syrup, but it’s not exactly healthy. (It’s kind of like having caramel syrup on your pancakes.) But we usually have some in our fridge that Lane has made.  After all, it is his mom’s recipe, and it is well-loved! I’m sure this is one recipe that will continue to be passed down through the generations…😋


Miss Rumphius

I purchased this new book that Phonetic Planet recommended on Instagram recently, and I love it! I look forward to sharing it with lots of children, including my own. (Phonetic Planet is a group whose goal is to nurture literacy in children through experiences in nature.)

In this story, a young girl’s grandfather invites her to make the world more beautiful before she dies. She helps people as a librarian, travels the world, and lives by the sea, but she still is searching how to make the world more beautiful. Then she discovers one way that she can.

A lovely tale with a lovely purpose! And not just because I happen to love lupines…😉


Love One Another

I woke up not feeling very well and wasn’t sure what the day would bring. I climbed out of bed into a chair and my husband brought me socks and my computer, Anna brought me a piece of toast, Rebecca said she would drive Anna somewhere for me, and Eliza brought me some cereal. I feel very loved!

It is surely the little acts of kindness in life that are so sweet and make home life so much happier. I am so grateful for a husband who models Christlike kindness every day. He inspires me to try to be better, and he doesn’t even say anything. He just is kind and serves sincerely, and that kindness and service make me want to be better.

“Love one another:” 3 of the most powerful words on earth!

(P.S. I saw this video on the Mormon Channel blog. Click here to go to the article!)


Planning for summer

Click on the image to go to my SUMMER page, with ideas from past summer plans.

I have had some ideas floating around my brain for our family summer, but as today is the last day of school, today is when the rubber meets the road. I have got to at least begin to wrap up my thoughts and prepare my plan for next family night. Since I have a date with Lane tonight, we can go over my ideas and see what we think needs changing so that we can be united in our plan. Sunday after family council, I can cement it all together before Monday’s FHE.

How do I begin planning?

I begin with prayer, with pondering, with scripture study, with discussions with our family and my husband. Here is a page I created to facilitate this process:

Click to view/print PDF.

I ask myself what areas of focus I see that we need to work on. Summer can be a great time for learning new skills, earning money, gardening, improving the yard or home, adventuring, subject area learning, and of course, relaxing and making wonderful, fun memories.

As I begin

Here is some of the thoughts I’ve had as I begin.

Because we don’t have an endless budget for vacationing, we spend nearly all our summer at home. This means the children have a lot of time on their hands. So choosing some areas of focus and a way to activate the goals they have really impacts how they spend their time.

We had a family council last Sundays in which I asked the family WHAT is it that really matters to us right now? Time is short, and there are people to love and help, skills to learn, talents to improve. We only have 1 more year with Rebecca at home, and this is most likely our last summer all together as a family. How do we want to spend our time and other resources to make wonderful memories and do things that will really matter to us in a hundred years?

Gathering ideas

We didn’t come to any distinct conclusion right then, but rather brainstormed ideas. We are going to revisit that question on Sunday so that I can be sure our summer plan will allow for us to accomplish our dreams.

There are “nuts and bolts” of everyday living that need to be divided up. So I’m thinking about how I’m incorporating the college students into our family jobs rotation for the next 2.5 months, including laundry days, housecleaning, and yard work jobs. I’m also thinking about how I want to coordinate meal prep and clean up. We are trying to reintegrate the college students, with their employment and social lives and later nights into our family scripture study and family home evenings and councils.

We’ve got a wedding coming: we have a yard and home we’d like to clean up a little before that. We also have a family reunion coming up at the end of the summer, and the children are on committees to help with that. Sarah will be heading off to graduate school right after that, so we have to plan for the end of summer transitions. We will also be having family come to town, as Utah and Grandma’s house is a destination place for our family. So we need to consider accommodating our out-of-town company.

Ongoing learning

We also have summer learning that needs to continue: reading, writing, math, or maybe an online class or camp. We need to learn how to prepare foods that are better for our digestive systems and to help us sleep at night, so we are working on some food planning and prep goals. What do we really want to accomplish?

We want to grow spiritually this summer: we’ve got a child who is preparing to make temple covenants, since when we get married in the temple, we get married for eternity. It is a serious commitment. We want to keep all of that in mind. We also have older children who are preparing to go to the temple for the first time and our family goal to go to the temple each week. We have children preparing to serve missions, so that’s an ongoing goal as well.

We have personal needs as well: I need time to think and write

Youth activities

We also have a pioneer handcart trek reenactment that our teens are going on. And student council retreat, EFY, Hope Squad training…I know! This is summer, folks!

More than anything, I want to help our family just have the Spirit in our home and in our relationships. I want to slow down and breathe and do what makes for peace. So I’m seeking inspiration from heaven as I pray and council with my family to create a plan to do that.

I have more prayer, study, thought, and discussions to have.

I’ll share what evolves from this…next week!

Happy Summer!

For more ideas about summer planning and themes, look under my “Organize ‘Em” tab and select the “Summer” link.


Well, actually, we didn’t see the Queen. We didn’t even see the crossing of the guard or anything like that. We DID have an amazing time in London, Manchester, Chorley, Lake Windermere, and then Paris, Brittany, Normandy, and Giverny. Those 2 weeks in England and France–just me, my husband, and our oldest daughter–were a dream come true.

People have been asking me what my favorite part was. My answer? Being with Sarah and Lane for two whole weeks, away from the normal distractions of home and work. Just one-on-one time with our daughter, talking, laughing, eating, trying new things, seeing new places, sharing stories. After 5 years of college packed with work and school, we had some catching up to do!

I hope we have the opportunity to do something with each child when they graduate from college, even if it’s not traveling the world!

I have some fun details to share–later, in another post, when school isn’t ending and I don’t feel so tired! 😂 (You can see lots of photos already on my Instagram account: find me @raisingamazingchildren)

P.S. I was just in heaven getting to speak French for a week. I returned totally motivated to improve my vocabulary and brush up on grammar. Here is a French learning resource page I have started to share with you some of the resources I have used in the past and some of the new ones I’m hoping to use now.


My life is blessed everyday when I study the scriptures. I particularly feel the power that comes from reading, pondering and trying to apply the verses in the Book of Mormon. I keep a scripture study journal when I study, and I’ve decided that I’d like to share a little bit of my studies on my blog.

This study notebook is my life workbook, because it’s how I discover answers to my self-care, marriage, and parenting questions and problems.

I study the scriptures whenever I can, but I try to study them first thing every day. This year I am reading the Book of Mormon in French, in preparation for traveling to Paris to attend the Paris temple open house. Having discovered more French roots this year makes my heart rejoice and adds to my love of the French language. Reading the Book of Mormon in French really gave me a feeling of connecting with my ancestors who came centuries ago to fulfill their missions on earth. I wonder how they are celebrating on the other side of the veil with the preparation fo the temple in their earthly homeland.

A quiet block of time

I haven’t been able to read the Book of Mormon in French, because it requires a block of quiet time to do it, and finding a quiet block of time isn’t as easy as I had thought, when other daily needs take priority. So I’m reading smaller snippets of longer chapters, when that is what I have time for. I’d like to share, when I can, some of my study thoughts.

Today’s verse is 2 Nephi 9:3:

Behold, my beloved brethren, I speak unto you these things that ye may rejoice, and lift up your heads forever, because of the blessings which the Lord God shall bestow upon your children.

This is a huge promise, right? I mean, if I wake up in the morning and feel heavy and tired and like all I want to do is roll over in bed and go back to sleep, rejoicing and lifting up my head forever isn’t exactly on my mind. So I had to ask: does this prophet (Nephi) really mean what he is saying here? Is there a key to joy that has power to move us from a place of heaviness to a place of optimism, hope, ane even rejoicing in the future?

I know the answer is yes, even though I haven’t gotten there yet. I have had enough experience with faith to know that the scriptures are true, that God doesn’t lie, and that we can take him at his word.

Tapping into power

But I haven’t tapped into that power that he is describing yet very much. I have had tastes of this power to move me from a place of unhappiness, fear, or stress, to a place (mentally, emotionally, spiritually and sometimes even physically) of peace, happiness, good cheer and joy. So I believe there is more that I can tap into.

I think the key might be hinted at in the part where it refers to the future, and God’s promises. If we know God and his character, then we know that He keeps his promises, right? He does! He has kept all of his promises to me, and the ones that are in the future I truly believe he will keep. Someday I should go through my journals and make a list of promises He has made me in priesthood blessings and how they came to pass.

4.27.17: Sarah’s last EMS shift during her commencement exercises, when she received her bachelor’s degree in physiology and developmental biology. She was radiant!

Sarah’s college graduation

Yesterday was one of them. A long time ago, Lane gave me a blessing that told me I would have joy in my children’s successes and see them succeeding, but that I would be feel the greatest joy when those successes were in spiritual things, such as remaining faithful. Yesterday when we sat in the Marriott Center and saw Sarah’s name on the commencement program, receiving her bachelor of science degree in physiology and developmental biology, my heart swelled. She had done it! With God’s help and our help and lots of professors’ help and other students’ help with whom she worked and studied and with the faith and prayers of her siblings and grandparents and extended family, she did it. She worked very hard for five years, studying, working, sometimes failing, picking herself up after challenges and pressing forward. She put in thousands of hours of service as a volunteer EMT. Imagine going to work day after day and never getting paid a cent! That’s what she did for 3.5 years. Because she had faith in the Lord that this opportunity would help her help others and help her prepare for her future education and service.

August 1995, outside the Marriott Center, commencement day, when I received my bachelor’s of science in education degree, almost 22 years previous to Sarah’s commencement.

As I sat there in the audience, thinking of Sarah in the EMS office and having just heard that she was officially graduated, and I thought back to my graduation, and how Sarah was born before I finished my schooling, and I was pregnant with Nathan as I walked through my convocation ceremony, I sat in wonder of how God brings about gifts and blessings in our lives. I couldn’t foresee what would come, and how wonderful and hard and stretching motherhood would be, nor could I taste how sweet moments like yesterday would be back then. I just had to trust. And work. And wait.

And then to see her ministering (as an EMT) to someone who fell and got hurt at the very end of the commencement service, that was really the icing on the cake for me and Lane. She got to help someone in the last minutes of her last shift on campus. It was so appropriate! And that promise that God made me was fulfilled, again.


Boy, I’m just scratching the surface on promises that God has made to me personally and to us in general as mothers. Those promises are found in the scriptures. So when I search the scriptures daily, it helps me to review the ways God has kept his promises to generations past. And the Holy Ghost brings to my remembrance ways that God has kept and is keeping his promises to me now, which strengthens my faith that He will keep his promises to me in the future. That really does have power to encourage and lift my heart. I can figuratively lift up my head and go forward in faith. He’s got my back!

Seriously. God is so good. He helps our dreams come true. He promises that if we put our trust in him and work our best, he will make up the difference that we need and help the things that matter most eternally come to pass in our lives. It’s not a dangling carrot; it’s a reality. It’s not a charade.

“Diligent, focused work”

I’m recalling right now that the work he invites us to do is our most dedicated, sincere, stretching work. President Russell M. Nelson just taught us last month that “there is nothing easy or automatic about becoming such powerful disciples. Our focus must be riveted on the Savior and His gospel. It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in every thought. But when we do, our doubts and fears flee….

Faith in Jesus Christ propels us to do things we otherwise would not do. Faith that motivates us to action gives us more access to His power….Drawing the Savior’s power into our lives is to reach up to Him in faith. Such reaching requires diligent, focused effort….When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do” Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into our Lives(“,” April 2017 general conference).

Just to wrap this up, I recognize that one of my challenges, on those mornings when I have moments of fatigue or frustration or hormonal roller-coaster days or whatever it is that makes me want to stay in bed in the morning, turning to the scriptures is a great way for me to climb out of that heavy place and lift my thoughts towards God who never breaks his promises and renews my faith in the future. I’m reminded of another verse I love:

For he will fulfil all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers. (Alma 37:17)

I have spent an hour on this post! Time for me to get back to my day. I certainly can’t post every day about my scripture study; I like to use the time to study more than write! But I’ll look forward to sharing a few of my thoughts with you again in the days to come.