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Ponderizing, eggnog, and forgiving debts

I woke up this morning with the Lord’s prayer on my mind, so I decided to “ponderize” those verses this week.

As I opened up the scriptures and read the verses, I remembered a gorgeous recording of these verses in the song, “The Lord’s Prayer” by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in their album, “Then Sings My Soul.” I love this recording because it begins with quiet arpeggios on the harp and just builds beautifully to the climax of the song, moving your soul to a sweeter, more peaceful place than when the song began. (It doesn’t have Andrea Bocelli in this recording, but it is still incredible!)Then Sings My Soul Mormon Tabernacle Choir

I listened to this song one night (or early morning), when I couldn’t sleep, over and over. It was so soothing.

This week I am thankful I was ponderizing a different verse last week, because each day I thought about whether or not I was fighting against truth. God tells us to do something, like forgive one another, and sometimes we fight against it. Or at least I do, internally. It helped me when I met an obstacle that really interrupted my peace.

This weekend, I got mad over something–over eggnog, of all the utterly ridiculous things–and I wanted on the one hand to forgive quickly (even if no forgiveness was needed but only perceived by me). I also wanted on the other hand to hold onto my frustration for a little bit, because even though I knew that anger isn’t justified, I still felt like somehow I was justified, just a little tiny bit. I was so torn. The natural man part of me who felt mad won over at first. Holding onto the anger really made me feel miserable, and it made the other person feel bad, too. Finally, yesterday I tried to kneel down and pray about it and ask for help in getting rid of the grudge. I think it wasn’t until last night and then later in the middle of the night when it was still bothering me that I truly, truly wanted the burden gone. I begged for Heavenly Father to help me out. And he did. This morning, I feel so silly that I let something so small and insignificant grow into something so big and hurtful. I hope, I Hope, I HOPE that the next time I feel tempted to be quick to anger over something that I will somehow REMEMBER this cycle, and ask the other person for information before jumping to any conclusions. ASK! Not judge! And be patient! Even if it feels like the 1000th time being patient. It is so easy to get angry and so unfair to the other person. It is harder to exercise self-restraint and not judge. So I am grateful for the Lord’s patience in forgiving my debts, over and over and over again.

And I’m grateful for my husband, who deals with it the most, since I don’t know why, but he gets the brunt of my impatience the most. I am so grateful for repentance and forgiveness and the promise that someday, because of Christ, I will be able to overcome all of my weakness.

Forgive us our debts, and we forgive our debtors. (see Matthew 6:9-13)


There we were, four children on the couch, one sprawled out on the floor, me sitting on the floor, all of us covered in blankets or a fuzzy robe to be warm on a crisp, fall morning. Some eyes were partly or all the way closed until their turn to read. Our leader-of-the-day restarted about 4 times as he or she stuttered his or her way through the two verses, and I wondered if any of us could remember any of the 12 verses we read when the question was asked, “Does anyone have any comments?”

I pointed out that Jacob said we could “lift up [our] hearts and rejoice for all men” as we read these words (2 Nephi 11:8). Julia then pointed out that the word just proceeding that phrase was may, which indicated a choice. We have the choice to rejoice, but it’s not a given. I wish I could remember her exact words, but she explained that we have some emotional responsibility there–agency–to choose to rejoice.

There is was again: a child teaching a parent, in the fresh minutes of our early morning. Teaching me to remember how powerful agency is and how we get to choose how we face each day and face life. It reminded us of how it reminded us of President Uchtdorf’s recent conference address, when he asked if the gospel was working for us (“It Works Wonderfully!”). It reminds me of those enlightening words, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24). It also reminds me of “Choose you this day…” and that joy is a choice, just like anger is a choice, love is a choice, kindness is a choice. It is so easy to forget! We have to CHOOSE joy. We GET to choose joy. We aren’t doomed to misery. Talk about empowerment.

Such great early morning words. Such great children who would peel themselves off their mattresses to come to scripture morning study. So thankful for what they teach me. Hope I can remember this today!


Saw this today on the Mormon Channel. Like it. This is one thing I love about being a parent: it is an experiment. You are free to try what you think will be fun, successful, and memorable.  You get to create! Like a well-designed experiment, though, I’m grateful that there are some elements that are constants: God, for example. Without His help, my part of the parenting would probably be a disaster. Sometimes, I am so controlling, distracted, tired, blind, anxious, impetuous, overly serious, impulsive and downright selfish. I think my children would be having a really hard experience under my care if it weren’t for God helping me out. A lot. So I like being a parenting “scientist” as long as I’ve got great back up, great research on which to base my hypotheses, and lots of inspiration to guide my best ideas. Not to mention an invaluable, indefatigable and insanely insightful research fellow (pun intended)–Lane.

Little boy with Down Syndrome flies

Also loved this! Saw it online in the news. This is not a boy being tossed off a cliff! It’s an adorable 2 year old named Will who happens to have Down Syndrome with many gifts, whose father is a photographer/blogger and whose family has an awesome love for each other mixed with creativity and fun. This photo is taken at Big Sur. You will love his photos (including the arrival of their newborn!) on ThatDadBlog.com. I love the way they celebrate each of their amazing children!

Talk about enjoying your children! It’s so great to see families having fun together! I learn from them. They make want to have more fun with my family!


Homecoming 2015

I emailed this photo to Elder Livingston of Julia’s homecoming date night, and he responded in a darling big brother way: “Man, if I hear that some kid was mean to my sister, or rude on a date, I will be coming to call on him in the near future.” Julia’s date was neither rude nor mean, but very gentlemanly. When Lane and I met him at our home when he came to pick her up, he asked what time we would like her home. I really appreciated that. Lane made it clear to the young men that we really cherish our daughter and know that these young men (there was another young man there to pick up Julia’s friend as well) would never do anything but protect these young women. I love my husband and my sons. They are good protectors! And I’m grateful for the young men who were indeed wonderful gentlemen and enjoyable as well. High school should always be a time for happy memories!

Getting ready for Homecoming was not without stress, just like nearly every date dance in the past. I am the fashion tailor who takes my woes to the Lord. Thank heaven he helps us figure out what to do! Julia and I both lamented that it would just be nice if we could find a dress that didn’t need ANY altering! There were SLEEVES and a long enough skirt on the dress, but still, it was a crossover dress that was too low on its own. For heaven’s sake! Can’t companies make a beautiful dress that isn’t too low in the front?!? Thankfully, Julia found a solution (after I’d searched all over town and tried a couple other ones) that worked out well, and Sarah generously shared some pretty jewelry that completed the look. Having an older sister comes in handy! (And brother, as I mentioned before.) After I had made some minor tailoring on the bodice–again with some inspiration that Julia received as to how we could do that–then she was all dressed up and looking astonishing. Oh my.

And the apple trees that didn’t bear this year came in handy as a back drop. Ha.


paperwork pilesI walked in from church today to see my dining room table covered with the disarrayed papers, binders, and whatnot. It reflected another week when I just didn’t have (or take?) the time to sit down and catch up on paperwork.

Why are these piles so challenging for me? Partly because my top priority isn’t dealing with papers, so I let them go until they are a necessity. Secondly, because I don’t LIKE paperwork, and third, because I’m a detail-oriented person. Mostly they bother me because I believe they reflect poorly on what I am accomplishing. I am often “careful and troubled about many things.” I want my life to be in order, and I want my home to reflect that. I want to handle each item carefully. I am afraid to throw away a bill or insurance notice or school flyer that I’m supposed to do something with, because I don’t want to cause problems for anyone or for myself. And I don’t like to slop something together–it goes against my nature. So it’s hard for me to just rush through something and get it done. I’m methodical.

I think I have some new insight on piles today from the time I spent at church: it mattereth not (1 Nephi 6:3; Jacob 5:8Jacob 5:13Alma 40:8; Alma 58:37; Alma 61:9Ether 15:34D&C 80:3; et al.). Where are my priorities? Am I doing each day the things that matter most? Am I focused on Christ? Am I clothing the naked? Feeding the hungry? I sure did a lot of laundry and made a lot of meals this last week: check! Did I lift the hands that hang down? Strengthen any feeble knees? I arranged my day to go see two of my daughters perform on stage and on the cross country course. I know they were both thankful I was there: check! Did I speak kind words to those who needed them? I had a sick child and a tired husband, and I tried to encourage both of them: check! There was a lot I didn’t do perfectly, but there was a lot of good I did do instead of sitting down and working on paperwork. This is what God wants me to do. Paperwork has a place, but it’s not always the first, most important place. Being there with a child or a spouse often matters more.

notes from Relief Society

This is from my church notes. This image is such a powerful one to me: the bumps in the path of life are representing the trials and challenges we face. Sometimes that’s all we can see! But if we lift our eyes to the Savior, we can get the longer view that helps us overcome our trials and keep perspective. That’s the gift I got from going to church today: the comforting reminder that when I focus on doing what really matters in the long run–coming to Christ, service and kindness–that the rest will work out. Piles will get cleaned up. And I will have the satisfaction of having done what is most rewarding.

Mary and Martha Minerva Teichert(“Christ with Mary and Martha” by Minerva Teichert. This image from ldsart.com.)

This is what I love about the story of the Mary and Martha. Christ reminded Martha that focusing on ONE thing– one person–Christ!–would help her know what was most needed in a moment. Mary knew that in that moment, she wanted to visit with and learn from the Lord. It didn’t mean that they wouldn’t be hungry at the end or that dinner didn’t need to be made or that what Martha wasn’t doing wasn’t valuable; it just meant that Mary was hungry spiritually, and she knew that need could be filled right then when Christ was there. I think that if I keep my eye on the Savior and try to seize the opportunities to get to know him, serve others as he would, and treat others as he would, when they present themselves in my day, that in the end, the other stuff that doesn’t really matter after all will get taken care of.

I am reminded of this quote from President Benson that I love: “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives.” (“The Great Commandment,” April 1988).

So today, I’m going to stick the papers in a pile and not worry about them, but spend some time on the things that matter more: getting to know the Lord, counseling with my family, enjoying them, planning how to serve this week.  I’ll trust that pile to the Lord to help me get done what is important during the week. Just for today, I’ll focus on the Lord.

I’m so grateful for fasting, for church, for the sacrament, for wonderful talks and lessons prepared lovingly and sincerely and the Holy Ghost strengthening me and helping me get that longer-view focus that I so very much need. What would I ever do without the Sabbath Day? Without ward members to strengthen me? Without priesthood ordinances like the sacrament that strengthen me for the coming week? Without inspired thoughts from the Holy Ghost that give me relief from my weekly worries.

It feels good to put the burden down….


A few songs I’ve written

I am not a professional musician. Fortunately, I have some really kind friends who are who have helped me create some music for our elementary school music program. I need a place to post this music for others to access, so I’m going to post it here today.

I’ve had some pretty fun and cool experiences writing lyrics and melodies. Writing the school song was what got me started. In preparation for going on a youth trek, I attended a church fireside in which a sister in our stake shared a song she had written for the youth just for this trek. The thought occurred to me that we could use a school song at our elementary school. I looked into it and no one at the school could find a school song. So, since were going to start a music program, I decided to give the project a go. I gathered information about the school’s motto and mission statement and started praying for ideas. This was May 2010.

I didn’t have much time to work on it, because being a mom in summer time is busy and I had a calling to go on trek with our stake youth. I went as a technology person (I blogged about the trek for parents back home–how fun is that!). It was a great experience: walking around in freezing temperatures during microburst storms. I’m not being sarcastic! I was a great experience walking in the footsteps of Mormon handcart pioneers who suffered so much on their trek across the states. (We were in Wyoming at Martin’s Cove.)

The night we got back, I slept well and woke up early with a tune in my head and some lyrics in my mind. I started to jot them down on a piece of paper and then went to the piano to figure out the tune. I took the tune and lyrics to my friend in our stake who had written a song for our youth trek. I asked her if she would be willing to help me with the song and write some accompaniment. She said she would, and she did! She is SO talented and a delight to work with! We had a good time working together. I took the final product in August (I think!) to our principal who reviewed and approved it. Ever since then, it’s been a delight to hear the children singing this first creative musical endeavor.

…Which just reminds me that you can pretty much do anything with God’s help!

“Foothill School Song”

Foothill School Song p.1

Foothill School Song p.2

Foothill School Song Accompaniment.mus

(I need to find the rest of the files to this.)

As we continued to have school choirs, I thought it would be nice to have some free music for children’s school choirs to be able to use. So I worked on two more songs (in two successive years) for the spring concert–songs that went along with the school themes for those years. I was particularly grateful for my mom’s help (she’s a real composer) with the “Gold Inside of You” song and my friend Tanya Barkdull, a professional singer, who was helping with choir that year as well. Together we wrote the lyrics and music.

“You’ve Got Gold Inside of You”

You’ve Got Gold Inside of You

(I need to find the rest of the music.)

When I was working on the Legacy song, I asked a friend from my mission (I had done some musical firesides on my mission) who composes music and helps with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir if he could help me out with the music–making some orchestral parts and accompaniment and digitizing it all! (Ha! Talk about friends who generously serve their communities!) He did it for us in about a week’s time. So then we had a song for our choir and orchestra to perform together.

“We’re Building a Musical Legacy”

We’re Building a Musical Legacy (C Score)

We’re Building a Musical Legacy (SSA)

We’re Building a Musical Legacy (VIOLIN 1)

We’re Building a Musical Legacy (VIOLIN 2)

We’re Building a Musical Legacy (VIOLA)

I guess we didn’t do a cello part because we didn’t have any cellos that year? Not sure! Guess I need to work on that one…

There are two little songs that I put together for my Delicious Music kindergarten curriculum. One is the them song. The lyrics were another early morning writing ideas down experience. The tune that was in my head was the Christmas carol “Fum, Fum, Fum.”

“Yum, Yum, Yum” (Delicious Music Theme Song)

DM Theme Songs Lyrics


(I need to find the rest of the music.)

“My Grandma Has a Green Thumb”

(I need to find the rest of the music.)

“Lullaby for a Wakeful Mother”

LFAWM sheet music p.1

LFAWM sheet music p.2
LFAWM sheet music p.3

I have some work to do to complete this post! But I need to post it so I can access it. :)


Talking Like the Rain

Talking Like the Rain

It’s been raining this week (hooray!), and I couldn’t help but think about a book of poetry we have called Talking Like the Rain: A Read-to-me Book of Poems, selected by X.J. Kennedy and Dorothy M. Kennedy and illustrated by Jane Dyer. This beautiful book of poetry was given to me at my bridal shower (yes, I had a children’s book-themed bridal shower. I was thinking ahead to reading the children we hoped to have).

The title comes from this quote from the book Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen:

“One evening out in the maize-field, where we had been harvesting maize, breaking off the cobs and throwing them on to the ox-carts, to amuse myself, I spoke to the field laborers, who were mostly quite young, in Swaheli verse. There was no sense in the verse, it was made for the sake of the rhyme…

“It caught the interest of the boys, they formed a ring around me. They…awaited eagerly for the rhyme, and laughed at it when it came. I tried to make them themselves find the rhyme and finish the poem when I had begun it, but they could not, or would not, do that, and turned away their heads. As they had become used to the idea of poetry, they begged: ‘Speak again. Speak like rain.’ Why they should feel verse to be like rain I do not know. Ir must have been, however, an expression of applause, since in Africa rain is always longed for and welcomed.”

This book has such lovely (and how appropriate for rain!) watercolor illustrations that accompany the enjoyable collection of poems to read aloud to children, including one of our family favorites, “The Purple Cow” by Gelett Burgess:

I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one!



Black bean sweet potato chiliThis morning I ate some leftover black bean soup that Eliza made last night. She had finished her work early in a class at school, so she was browsing recipes online (they were using computers) and found a recipe for black bean sweet potato chili. She made it for dinner for us last night, and it was delicious! It sounded better than hot cereal this morning, so I enjoyed a bowl. (Sorry. I wish I had a food photographer. I really don’t care to become one right now, so thanks for bearing with my cell phone shots!)

Eating this chili made me think of Sunset magazine. Thinking of Sunset magazine reminded me of how I grew up where Sunset was published, and one time as a child I was asked to come in and do some art that was included in an article. I don’t have the article, but my mom saved the picture I colored and framed it. It hung in our home for years until we moved, and then at some point she gave it to me.

Thinking about that fun experience, (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie), I remembered a photograph my mom had pasted into an art scrapbook that she made of some of my childhood art. I went to find that photograph and scrapbook. I found it:

Lizzie drawing

Of course, I decided to go through the album. I was impressed with how blessed I was to have people around me who were so encouraging of my artistic efforts! My mom and dad, first of all, made a really big deal about my artwork. Looking back, my art is so like many children’s work that I see:

Roayl family drawingBut my mom was super observant. She noticed what I drew, and she recorded her thoughts and my work together and made an entire scrapbook for me of them. She pointed out that I loved to draw families and particularly seemed occupied with mothers and fathers who had crowns on their heads. Considering the fact that I didn’t grow up bathed in a Disney princess-laden world, this has often made me wonder if I had some memories from our premortal existence–where we did live in the presence of our royal, Heavenly Father and Mother–that somehow simmered in my spirit. I don’t know, but it’s fun to see what I drew!

sacrament meeting program drawing Lizzie M.

My mom always let me draw during sacrament meeting, so the back of the printed program naturally became my drawing pages. I love that my mom encouraged me to do this. I think it made me a better listener. I still love to take notes during church, since I retain information so much better by writing it down when I hear it.

My teacher, Mrs. Policci, was as amazing as my mom in encouraging the children in her kindergarten class. She wrote what we were drawing on our papers. She verbally encouraged and praised our work. She was happy, cheerful, creative, and fun to be around. I adored being in her class. She had us do such fun art projects. I still remember the full-sized body of ourselves we drew and painted. She hand wrote newsletters and quoted children. No wonder I wanted to make newsletters later in life! I had grown up believing my work could be published!

kindergarten body painting Lizzie M

Mrs. Policci's handwritten newsletter

kindergarten newsletter Mrs. Policcii Lizzie M.

I noticed that the community also encouraged children’s art by borrowing it, hanging up in places like the library, and then returning it with a note of thanks! Someone went to a lot of trouble to help encourage children in their creative works. Wow!


I notice that my work wasn’t anything crazy astonishing. I think that’s really important. Hanging EVERY child’s work sends a wonderful true message: YOU MATTER! YOU ARE CREATIVE! WE LOVE YOU!

Lizzie M. library picture

My teacher even told me once that if I had done a picture in oils, someone would pay money for it and hang it in their home. Would they have? I don’t know. But she nurtured a seed of belief in me that my parents had planted there. My mom and dad made a big deal about my art, and I loved creating through art and making people feel happy. I began to believe that I was capable of creating something good.

Now I have my children’s artistic works on the walls of our home, too. Perhaps none of my children will actually create art for a living. Perhaps they will only draw blackline drawings on the back of sacrament programs for their children to color in with crayons as they learn to be reverent. Or perhaps they will sketch something funny on a homemade card to their spouse, child, or sibling. That’s great with me! I know that there is a longer goal in view when it comes to creating and encouraging children in art. Even more than the fine motor skill development or art appreciation or brain development that happen when a child creates art, it’s the messages we send that are so important. YOU MATTER. YOU ARE CREATIVE. YOU CAN MAKE SOMETHING WORTHWHILE. WE LOVE YOU!

I am excited to get to help with art at our children’s school this year as well as music. Children matter. They grow up to be adults who nurture other children, who make a difference in their homes, communities, nations, and world. THANK YOU to my family, teachers, leaders, and community members who nurtured me to believe that I am creative and can create something worth sharing.


How to fix a nursemaid’s elbow

Saturday night, Anna’s elbow/arm was really hurting. She couldn’t recall doing anything to it, nor could anyone else. I had taken her shopping for some fabric for her sewing class, and she didn’t have any interest in anything by the time we got there but was just holding her arm with her other hand to support it.

The first thing we did was to treat it as if it were a “nursemaid’s elbow.” I learned this helpful information back when Sarah and Nathan were babies, when I attended a class taught by our nurse practitioner.

When someone yanks a child’s arm, it may pull their elbow out of socket (dislocating the elbow joint). Thankfully, it’s not typically a seriously injury, but it hurts like crazy. You turn their arm so that the palm faces upward, and with one hand under their elbow joint, you gently move the face-up palm to their shoulder. It will really hurt, but it should pop things back into place. Sometimes you do it a couple of times in a row. I showed Anna how to do it, but it’d been so many years since I had done it, I forgot to put my hand under her elbow to feel if it popped back into place. Anna did it herself with no problem (but she’s also not a toddler!).

Anna’s arm is better now, but the next morning she started throwing up. She has had stomach flu the past few days, with Peter joining the party this morning. Oh my. Thank goodness the elbow got resolved so quickly!

If you ever have yanked a child by the arm and a nursemaid elbow resulted, you learn quickly that gentleness is a great way to go when interacting with children. It’s important to be firm, and children can be very strong and strong-willed, so if they want to go one way but you need them to go another, sometimes it’s better to just pick them up (while they’re kicking or screaming) and hold them instead of trying to yank them the way they need to go. If you forget, the tears in your child’s eyes from a hurting elbow quickly remind you!



A Night Divided

A Night DividedI just finished listening to A Night Divided on Audible yesterday and LOVED it!

If you have ever seen the movie “Night Crossing,” you will love this. If you are interested in Cold War history, you will love this. If you like historical fiction or gripping stories, you will love this. Moving, intense, thought-provoking. I loved the German proverbs and quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I really recommend this book. (Can you tell?)

I also recommend The False Prince trilogy that our family listened to/read last Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to what will come next from author Jennifer Nielsen!


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