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From myfamilyleaf. Click on image to go to their Instagram page.

(Saw this ↑ today, after writing this post. Had to laugh after seeing quotes misquoted in memes before! Perfect for this topic!)

How do you know what is true (accurate) and what is false?

We live in a world with “fake news,” social media, and articles printed and posted by people who have more of an opinion that knowledge on a topic.  Sometimes fact versus fiction feels harder than ever to determine.

Lane and I were talking about this a few nights ago after hearing some news on the radio. Reflecting on this topic, I’ve thought today on some things we hope we have taught or can continue to teach our children:

  1. God is the source of ALL truth. This includes EVERY facet of life: all things physical, scientific, economic, interpersonal, political, medical.
  2. God hasn’t revealed everything to us as his children yet. He is allowing us to discover knowledge a piece at a time. This kind of knowledge is something we have to work to discover, and more than not, we are building upon the research and study of many who have gone before us. “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). I think the scientific method–including the faith part–is described in the scriptures in Alma 32, and it is our job to work diligently to discover truth.
  3. Science and religion are partners in discovering all the truth we yearn to learn. “Study and faith.”
  4. We need to determine what reliable sources of knowledge and research are. You can’t just go to any blog or even any news article to find out truth or reliably researched knowledge. Older generations are great sources of wisdom and insight, for sure–particularly when they have been educated, active, faithful, Christlike, industrious people their whole lives. We have learned by sad experience that not every news article tells the truth and that erroneously-reported news can, in fact, hugely alter someone’s life in terrible ways. We have also learned by experience that it can be easy to get carried away with scams, trends, and conspiracy theories. When presented by someone with something that sounds “fishy,” we have tried to ask our children (and ourselves) the following:
    1. Where did this idea come from? Is this logical? Does it follow sound reasoning? Is the source reliable?
    2. Does it align with what the Standard Works (scriptures) and living prophets have taught?
    3. What does the reliable scientific and medical community (such as major universities) have to say?
    4. What do good, trustworthy, educated people think about this?
    5. Have you researched “both sides” of the story?
    6. Does it “sit right” in your mind and heart? If yes, why? If no, why?
    7. Don’t be afraid to stand up for truth, regardless of whether or not it is popular.
  5. James 1:5-6 teaches us, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him./But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” We have taught our children to study, work, search and pray. We hope that they will be careful not to act impulsively on poor information sources and the limited intellectual trends of their generation.

We try to keep a scholarly or reputable (not “slick”) magazine or two in circulation in our home. We encourage our children to read nonfiction as well as fiction. Most of the conversations we’ve had with our children about this topic have been during family scripture study, around the dinner table when discussing the day’s events or during Family Home Evening (FHE). That’s one of the reasons why family scripture study, FHE, and eating dinner together are so important: it’s when a lot of important conversations take place!

Loved finding this video today. Oh, the things you can do when you’re home with the flu…

Other quotes that are great:

“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (D&C 88:63)

“Sometimes, the truth may just seem too straightforward, too plain, and too simple for us to fully appreciate its great value. So we set aside what we have experienced and know to be true in pursuit of more mysterious or complicated information. Hopefully we will learn that when we chase after shadows, we are pursuing matters that have little substance and value.” (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “It Works Wonderfully!” October 2015)

“An official Church statement, issued one year ago, states: ‘We urge Church members to be cautious about participating in any group that promises—in exchange for money—miraculous healings or that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of properly ordained priesthood holders.’11

“The Church Handbook counsels: ‘Members should not use medical or health practices that are ethically or legally questionable. Local leaders should advise members who have health problems to consult with competent professional practitioners who are licensed in the countries where they practice.’” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, “The Trek Continues!” October 2017)

For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—

Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—

These should then be attended to with great earnestness.” (D&C 123:12-14)

“You belong to a church that teaches the importance of education. You have a mandate from the Lord to educate your minds and your hearts and your hands. The Lord has said, ‘Teach ye diligently … of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—that ye may be prepared in all things’ (D&C 88:78–80).4

“…Get all of the education that you can.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, Chapter 17: Continue in the Great Process of Learning,” Teachings of  Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley)


Teaching preschoolers to be healthy

I’m recovering from the stomach flu today. I thought I might skip over this bug after 3 children got it in the 5 weeks. But I didn’t. The GREAT news was that I got a much shorter version of the 3-5 day version the other 3 children had–I only had one day of major symptoms and am already recovering! Tendermercies–especially right before Thanksgiving.

While working on my music education website today, I came across this great video:

I just can’t believe how many awesome, free resources there are for young moms now thanks to the wonderful efforts of lots of kind people who are willing to share their talents and resources. Thank you Rachel and all the people like you!

I love Rachel de Azevedo’s happy spirit and the fun way she teaches. I think the messages in this video, “I can be healthy by making healthy choices” and that “we only have one body, so we should take care of it” are right on target!


Fall “meat sparingly” dinners

Click on image to go to the recipe.

Sunday, after teaching my lesson in Young Women on why the Lord wants us to be healthy, I decided to be more committed to living the Word of Wisdom. I want to “eat meat sparingly,” eat more foods in their season, and include more grains in our diet.

So this week I planned ahead, so that we could have 2-3 dinners with meat in them: chili con carne mid-week and sausages on Sunday, with a potential meat dinner on Friday night, when it’s “YOYO” (you’re on your own) night chez nous.

The other nights we have had (and will have, since Saturday hasn’t come yet) stuffed acorn squash, fall root vegetable stew, potato leek soup, and waffles with homemade peach syrup. Along with the side dish, the meals have been hearty, yummy, and comforting. It’s so nice to gather in that dark fall dinner hour and eat together.

Click on image to go to the recipe.

Click on image to learn how to sew an everyday napkin.

I’ve especially been enjoying using the fabric napkins I made for fall, because, well, that’s just my personality!

In fact, I ordered some red placemats from Amazon, and they turned out to be red metallic. Surprise! Haha! And we all think their added sparkle is quite fun. So there you go: sometimes mistakes turn out to be a delightful, serendipitous bonus.

I’ve invested a fair amount of time in cooking this week (watching episodes of The Great British Bake Off on Netflix while doing so) because I wanted to develop some menus and recipes that will help us eat more healthily. It’s been rewarding. Fall is a good time to cook.

Click on the images above or the following links to go to the recipes: stuffed acorn squash (recipe below), fall root vegetable stew, and potato leek soup.

NOTE: The acorn squash was stuffed with quinoa that was cooked with dried tart cherries, onions, and chopped, sliced almonds. The recipe for the quinoa comes from a book my dad gave to Anna for her birthday, A Grandfather’s Lessons by Jacques Pépin. The recipe is simple, but I cannot share it here because of copyright. I recommend the book! But with a little imagination, you could certainly guess at how to make it, if you use butter in your quinoa preparation. (Here’s a “how to cook quinoa” post from Kitchn.com you could use.)

To make the stuffed acorn squash, prepare any stuffing you desire and while the acorn squashes are baking. (Rinse and then cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a 425 degree F oven for maybe 45 minutes.) Once the squash is baked, put stuffing of choice in the center of the squash. Garnish with an herb sprig, such as parsley or cilantro, and serve. Serving suggestion: serve with a chopped salad mix (such as the kale salad mix from Costco) and canned peaches.


Emotional first aid

Click on the image to go to the video.

If you hurt yourself and were bleeding, would you enlarge the wound to make it worse? Of course not! You would clean the wound, treat it with ointment, and cover it with a bandage so that it could heal.

I watched an excellent TEDx talk today in which the speaker, Guy Winch (a psychologist), discusses how we need to learn emotional first aid. If we learn how to protect ouselves and take care of our hearts and minds, we can learn to be emotionally healthy.

This is huge!

Opening the drapes

I have been learning this myself over the last 11 years. I am still working hard to learn how to do this. Just understanding that we have power to change our  thoughts and hence our emotions is life-changing. It is like opening the curtains and a window to let the warm sunshine and fresh air into a dark, cold, stale room.

We each have the power to nurture good emotional health! AND to teach our children how to do the same!

“What do we know about maintaining our psychological health?…”

“What do we teach our children about emotional hygiene?…”

“You know, we sustain psychological injuries even more often than we do physical ones.”

Good emotional hygiene

Dr. Winch explains that negative experiences such as loneliness, failure, and rejection can have a powerful impact on us unless we handle them in a way that is emotionally healthy. We need to recognize how we approach challenges such as these and practice good emotional hygiene.

“You have to fight feelings of helplessness….You have to gain control over the situation. You have break this kind of negative cycle before it begins. 

“Our minds and our feelings–they’re not really the trustworthy friends we thought they were. They’re more like a really moody friend who can be totally supportive one minute and really unpleasant the next….

“When you are in emotional pain, treat yourself with the same compassion you would expect from a truly good friend.” That sounds a lot like the Savior’s instruction, “Love your neighbor as thyself” (Matt.22:39). That phrase is the basis of learning about self-care.

2 minutes of distraction

He shared how when his twin brother was enduring chemotherapy, he (Guy) developed the habit of constantly thinking of how difficult it must be for his brother. His brother was extremely positive, uncomplaining, and doing well psychologically. Guy knew that while he was “psychologically… a mess,” he “knew what to do. Studies tell us that even a 2 minute distraction is sufficient to break the urge to ruminate in that moment. And so each time I had a worrying, upsetting, negative thought, I forced myself to concentrate on something else until the urge passed, and within one week my whole outlook changed and became more positive and more hopeful.”

As we learn how to battle negativity, we can learn how to heal. He shares how to practice emotional hygiene, including avoiding rumination.

I believe this TEDx speaker contains truth in it. I wanted to share it with you.

Dr. Winch elaborates on this topic in his book, Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries.



Thankful memory

Anna was home this week for two days with a stomach flu. The second day that she was home, I felt like someone had pulled the plug on my energy reservoir. I had none. I was exhausted and didn’t feel very “up” to caring for a sick child.

But I wanted to. I thought of the character of Christ and how I want to develop it, and I prayed for help.

At one point in the day, I was in the kitchen. A song came into my mind: “Read Me a Memory.” This is a song that nearly all of our children learned in kindergarten. The words and music are beautiful:

Read me a memory
Tell me a tale
Speak of wondrous adventures
Together we’ll sail
Off to forests enchanted
And lands far away
Fairies and kings
And magical rings
My heart has wings
When I sit at your knee
And you read to me.

Years turn like pages
Soon I’ll be grown
Maybe someday I’ll read to a child of my own
Now I may not remember the stories we shared
I always knew that time spent with you
That you loved me, too.
While I sat your knee and you read to me.

Childhood, like summer days, dews on the grass
Soon will be yesterdays
Don’t let it pass
‘Till you read me a memory
Tell me a tale
Speak of wondrous adventures
Together we’ll sail
Off to forest enchanted and lands far away
Fairies and kings
And magical rings
My heart has wings
When I sit at your knee
And you read to me.

(Music and lyrics by Jay Richards)

Kristi G.

I thought of my dear friend Kristi, who taught us this song. (She was one of the great kindergarten teachers in this world for many years. I feel so blessed to know her!) I thought of all the sweet kindergarten childrens’ voices I had heard singing this song. I thought of the countless hours I read with our children and all the happy memories we’d had together.

And I remembered that Anna had asked if I would read with her that day.

The books arrived right then

It was almost in that same moment that the doorbell rang, and a package from Amazon (that I had ordered earlier in the week) arrived with some books that I had ordered for our family for November. Excitedly, we opened them. I brought the books to the couch and read to Anna.

I recommend each of these wonderful books:

Thankful by Eileen Spinelli (the same author of another favorite book, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch)

The Quiltmaker’s Gift  by Jeff Brumbeau

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki

It was a sweet moment. It made my day so much happier. It was the very help I needed right then to be able to take care of Anna better. It was an answer to my prayers.

Help is available

I am SO grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who help me as I try to help my family, even when I feel tired, weak, grumpy, or incapable. They always come through. They knew not only what Anna needed, but also how to nurture me in my fatigue. What a gift!

To read more books that I recommend for November, go here.

Many thanks to Kerry at SelfSufficientKids.com for her post on books that teach generosity and gratitude, which helped me find two of these books.❤️


“If you loved me…” (#laughoftheday)

During the summer, I worked hard to find and purchase (or sew, in one situation) clothing for our family for the wedding.

My daughter-in-law’s mother is an accomplished seamstress, and she benevolently volunteered to sew dresses for our daughters! I was astounded! She sewed dresses for Anna, Eliza, and Rebecca, but Julia and Sarah wanted to find something that they were sure would fit and that they liked. The dresses she sewed turned out perfectly! I am still so grateful!

She also sewed the underdress to my outfit, in about an hour, when our family was on vacation the week before the wedding (yep, cut that one close). Talk about fast! And talented!

Shopping with daughters can be very fun. Shopping with sons or my husband can feel painfully tedious to them. 😂 As I worked to shop for suits, shirts, ties, socks, and shoes for Lane and Peter, neither of them were super excited about it.


One day Pete said to me, “If you loved me, you’d just buy a suit for me and let me go to a friend’s house.”

I really did laugh outloud. The story of a 13 year-old boy’s life, right?

Pete sure makes me smile and laugh. I love that about him! He is really awesome.


God’s World at poetry club

Today I got to go to my first week of “poetry club.” What a joy!

My friend and her mother invited me last spring. I have been anticipating getting to join them since then. Today was the day!

The eight of us there listened while we shared poems we had brought. Delightful!

My friend, Heidi, shared the translation of a song her sister sang with a choir recently. The lyrics and music are heavenly:

O salutaris Hostia

Composer: Ēriks Ešenvalds
Text:St. Thomas Aquinas

O saving Victim, opening wide
The gate of Heaven to us below;
Our foes press hard on every side;
Thine aid supply; thy strength bestow.
To thy great name be endless praise,
Immortal Godhead, One in Three.
O grant us endless length of days,
In our true native land with thee.

My mom also attended poetry group, and as some of the poems shared tended towards themes of fall, leaves, and the beauty of the earth, she  started to quote a poem she loved but couldn’t quite remember. Connie, my friend’s mom, had it etched in her mind and heart and recited it on the spot.

This poem describes just how I feel about this fall!

God’s World

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
   Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
   Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!   That gaunt crag
To crush!   To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
         But never knew I this;
         Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

In the Morning of Life

In the morning of life, when its cares are unknown,
And its pleasures in all their new lustre begin,
When we live in a bright-beaming world of our own,
And the light that surrounds us is all from within;
Oh ’tis not, believe me, in that happy time
We can love, as in hours of less transport we may; —
Of our smiles, of our hopes, ’tis the gay sunny prime,
But affection is truest when these fade away.When we see the first glory of youth pass us by,
Like a leaf on the stream that will never return,
When our cup, which had sparkled with pleasure so high,
First tastes of the other, the dark-flowing urn;
Then, then in the time when affection holds sway
With a depth and a tenderness joy never knew;
Love, nursed among pleasures, is faithless as they,
But the love born of Sorrow, like Sorrow, is true.In climes full of sunshine, though splendid the flowers,
Their sighs have no freshness, their odour no worth;
‘Tis the cloud and the mist of our own Isle of showers
That call the rich spirit of fragrancy forth.
So it is not ‘mid splendour, prosperity, mirth,
That the depth of Love’s generous spirit appears;
To the sunshine of smiles it may first owe its birth,
But the soul of its sweetness is drawn out by tears.

How the Leaves Came Down


“I’ll tell you how the leaves came down,”
The great Tree to his children said:
“You’re getting sleepy, Yellow and Brown,
Yes, very sleepy, little Red.
It is quite time to go to bed.”

“Ah!” begged each silly, pouting leaf,
“Let us a little longer stay;
Dear Father Tree, behold our grief!
‘Tis such a very pleasant day,
We do not want to go away.”

So, for just one more merry day
To the great Tree the leaflets clung,
Frolicked and danced, and had their way,
Upon the autumn breezes swung,
Whispering all their sports among—

“Perhaps the great Tree will forget,
And let us stay until the spring,
If we all beg, and coax, and fret.”
But the great Tree did no such thing;
He smiled to hear their whispering.

“Come, children, all to bed,” he cried;
And ere the leaves could urge their prayer,
He shook his head, and far and wide,
Fluttering and rustling everywhere,
Down sped the leaflets through the air.

I saw them; on the ground they lay,
Golden and red, a huddled swarm,
Waiting till one from far away,
White bedclothes heaped upon her arm,
Should come to wrap them safe and warm.

The great bare Tree looked down and smiled.
“Good-night, dear little leaves,” he said.
And from below each sleepy child
Replied, “Good-night,” and murmured,
“It is so nice to go to bed!”

This poem reminded our hostess of an exerpt from Bambi that she had in a compilation book, and so she found it and read it. Truly delightful.

The Two Leaves (from Bambi: A Life in the Woods)


The leaves were falling from the great oak at the meadow’s edge. They were falling from the trees.

One branch of the oak reached high above the others and stretched far out over the meadow. Two leaves clung to its very tip.

“It isn’t the way it used to be,” said one leaf to the other.

“No,” the other leaf answered. “So many of us have fallen off to-night we’re almost the only ones left on our branch.”

“You never know who’s going to go next,” said the first leaf. “Even when it was warm and the sun shone, a storm or a cloudburst would come sometimes, and many leaves were torn off, though they were still young. You never know who’s going to go next.”

“The sun seldom shines now,” sighed the second leaf, “and when it does it gives no warmth. We must have warmth again.”

“Can it be true,” said the first leaf, “can it really be true, that others come to take our places when we’re gone and after them still others, and more and more?”

“It is really true,” whispered the second leaf. “We can’t even begin to imagine it, it’s beyond our powers.”

“It makes me very sad,” added the first leaf.

They were silent for a while. Then the first leaf said quietly to herself, “Why must we fall?…”

The second leaf asked, “What happens to us when we have fallen?”

“We sink down….”

“What is under us?”

The first leaf answered, “I don’t know, some say one thing, some another, but nobody knows.”

The second leaf asked, “Do we feel anything, do we know anything about ourselves when we’re down there?”

The first leaf answered, “Who knows? Not one of all those down there has ever come back to tell us about it.”

They were silent again. Then the first leaf said tenderly to the other, “Don’t worry so much about it, you’re trembling.”

“That’s nothing,” the second leaf answered, “I tremble at the least thing now. I don’t feel so sure of my hold as I used to.”

“Let’s not talk any more about such things,” said the first leaf.

The other replied, “No, we’ll let be. But– what else shall we talk about?”

She was silent, but went on after a little while, “Which of us will go first?”

“There’s still plenty of time to worry about that,” the other leaf assured her. “Let’s remember how beautiful it was, how wonderful, when the sun came out and shone so warmly that we thought we’d burst with life. Do you remember? And the morning dew, and the mild and splendid nights….”

“Now the nights are dreadful,” the second leaf complained, “and there is no end to them.”

“We shouldn’t complain,” said the first leaf gently. “We’ve outlived many, many others.”

“Have I changed much?” asked the second leaf shyly but determinedly.

“Not in the least,” the first leaf assured her.

“You only think so because I’ve got to be so yellow and ugly. But it’s different in your case.”

“You’re fooling me,” the second leaf said.

“No, really,” the first leaf exclaimed eagerly. “Believe me, you’re as lovely as the day you were born. Here and there may be a little yellow spot but it’s hardly noticeable and only makes you handsomer, believe me.”

“Thanks,” whispered the second leaf, quite touched. “I don’t believe you, not altogether, but I thank you because you’re so kind, you’ve always been so kind to me. I’m just beginning to understand how kind you are.”

“Hush,” said the other leaf, and kept silent herself for she was too troubled to talk anymore.

Then they were both silent. Hours passed.

A moist wind blew, cold and hostile, through the tree tops.

“Ah, now,” said the second leaf, “I…..” Then her voice broke off. She was torn from her place and spun down.

Winter had come.

There were so many other wonderful poems shared! Shakespeare, Dickinson, Eliot. Just wonderful. Wish you could have been there.


Getting out, and the difference it makes

We nearly tripped over this animal skull on our trail walk this week.

This summer, because I hurt my back, I curtailed my exercise. I gardened and walked and danced a little. But I really missed my more vigorous workouts!

This fall, I’m starting to get back into my exercise routine and this week got to both ride across, up and down town and back (10 miles) and head up by the reservoir with the pup and my friend for a beautiful 5 miles walk. Neither jaunt was too hard–just enough to help me breathe deeply and take in all the beauty of nature around me.

Wow, Utah is gorgeous! This fall it is particularly breathtaking. I just look in awe at the vibrant gowns the trees are sporting. What a treat! Talk about an energy boost!

There is a reason exercise and being outdoors helps our mood improve. In my own life experiement, I can say that it helps me a lot!


Sometime the pull of oncoming depression seems to understandably appear: it is connected to hormonal cycles, when I feel exhausted and negative no matter how well I’ve been sleeping or eating or exercising. Other times it comes  after a long string of days with hardly any routine to them. Or there are times when it seems to be related to too many nights that were late and not well-slept and not enough exercise on the following days.

But some days it seems to be just there. I wake up, feeling like I wish I could just keep sleeping and sleeping and sleeping and not have to do what I do everyday.

Acting on the Spirit’s suggestion

Today I woke up feeling happy and got out of bed tired but grateful. After my prayers, I went to family scripture study, we had a nice study, but I could feel the pull of that downward depressive feeling that I had been feeling for a couple of days, and I knew that if I stayed to do my personal scripture study, I might not make it back up again for a while.

So I I decided to act on the thought I had recently to make breakfast for my family–to simplify breakfast–to set a routine that would make it simple. I made hot cereal. And I went to work cleaning up from yesterday’s birthday celebrations. As my body went through the motions of preparing and cleaning up, my brain worked on ideas for the day. I noticed my body felt OK. I made progress, felt hopeful, and felt more in control emotionally.

I especially felt happy being able to feed my family a healthy breakfast. I worked to keep my thoughts positive as I worked.

It is work

And it is work. (Overcoming negative thoughts can feel SO very hard. Writing about it and then reading it after makes it sound so easy. But it is not. It is simple, but simple doesn’t equate easy. Sometimes it is the hardest battle of that day.)

A good start to the day (simplify a healthy breakfast)

Now I am eating my breakfast as I sit down to write and study. I feel it’s important to document my experience, as a sort of scientific approach, as it were, to my life experience. I want to share my trial and error. I want to share how I cope with this challenge, and how God helps me. I felt like the idea to simplify breakfast and to get back to preparing breakfast for my family was an inspired thought, and so I wanted to exercise my faith in acting upon it.

My hypothesis is that the line from the song, “Choose the Right Way” actually describes the way we can change the direction of downward cycles: “Choose the right way, and be happy.” Here’s what I mean by that:

My hypothesis: Choose the Right Way

I think that when we recognize that our thoughts are taking a downward turn, we have a choice we can make to change the direction of those thoughts. I think we can choose to think other thoughts: any thoughts about ourselves and others, about the present and the future, that are gentle, positive, loving, kind, invigorating, cheerful, grateful, hopeful, and full of faith.

As I work to yield to the Spirit encouraging me to choose uplifting thoughts, my mood will change, and I can feel better physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Recognizing what I am thinking is the first step. This is made easier when my body, mind and heart feel the weight of a downward pull: it’s a warning flag.

By changing my thoughts

Then I have to act to change my thoughts. And I need to act on the inspiration that comes, as small or simple as it might be.

This has an effect on my mind-body-spirit that is tangible. I find that I don’t have to stay in that downward pull. I can change direction and have my thoughts turn back upward, or “right.” Mentally, I envision my “upward” positive thoughts forming the neuropathways I need to overcome the pull of depression that my old negative through pathways or perhaps genetically-predisposed pathways have forged previously. Someday, I hope that these pathways become so “well-worn” or established in my brain that someday it will be impossible for my mind to get depressed!

Put off the natural man by yielding to a better choice

Lane shared Mosiah 3:19 on Sunday at family scripture study:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

This reminded me of that space between choice and action: before we do something, we make a choice, no matter how fast we make that choice. So if we want to become someone different than we are, we have to make new or better choices. When the Spirit prompts (i.e. encourages or suggests) a better choice, we can yield to that good thought and act. Elder Bednar explains it this way:

In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation. (“And Nothing Shall Offend Them”)

Ways and neuropathways

And the past few days I have thought of Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

I like to think that “ways” includes neuropathways.

Time for me to go. More later!




This morning after I woke up at 3:33 am and couldn’t go back to sleep–and knew I wouldn’t be going back to sleep any time fast with thoughts of Julia leaving on her mission passing through my mind–I turned on Little Women on my phone (with headphones).

I hadn’t noticed the preface to the story before. As I listened this morning, it seemed completely fitting to Julia’s departure:

‘Go then, my little Book, and show to all
That entertain, and bid thee welcome shall,
What thou dost keep close shut up in thy breast;
And wish what thou dost show them may be blest
To them for good, may make them choose to be
Pilgrims better, by far, than thee or me.
Tell them of Mercy; she is one
Who early hath her pilgrimage begun.
Yea, let young damsels learn of her to prize
The world which is to come, and so be wise;
For little tripping maids may follow God
Along the ways which saintly feet have trod.’
Adapted from JOHN BUNYAN.”

We spent the morning in last minute clean up (her bedroom and basement where she had had her things spread out over the table and couch as she packed. She got all ready and looked beautiful! I wish I had taken some pictures then. We were in a hurry, and so I didn’t. (Learn from me!) So all my photos of her are teary-eyed and face trying to hold back from crying. But that’s how it is!

I was finishing up her mission binder–printing out workout pages so she could keep exercising, printing out talks that I felt could help her when she feels like “a wedged bear in great tightness,” and printing out family history quotes and stories to remind her of her heritage. Then I dashed to the shower (I hadn’t felt well that morning and as we were companions, I hung out with her until another family member was home).

Thank goodness the children got home just in time, and Eliza had the presence of mind to make her a sandwich so she wouldn’t go into the MTC hungry! Lane and Pete carried her luggage out to Lane’s car where we crammed in a few final items–her BYU sweatshirt, a note from a sister, her bottle of face wash, her mission binder.

And then our neighbor pulled up in her car just when we needed a photographer! We snapped a few photos together (it is hard to smile when you are trying not to burst out in tears–my funny grimace in the photo above as evidence!), packed ourselves into the car like sardines (and her suitcase!) and headed to the MTC.

With the new construction there, we were surprised to be directed into a new underground parking garage. Julia’s final Facetime call to Sarah was cut short, and we pulled into a line of cars filled with parents and families dropping off their missionaries. There were also groups of missionaries there serving as hosts, welcoming each missionary and walking them into the MTC. There many people in yellow vests directing traffic. It was extremely organized and welcoming. 

We got out, gave our final hugs and goodbyes, and she walked off with her hostess and we drove away, hearts full and tears flowing.

I was surprised to get an email* from her an hour later! She wrote,

Hello family! They are having us email you to let you know that I made it to the MTC! But, you did just drop me off about an hour ago, so it hasn’t been that long. I am no longer crying, thank goodness, and I guess I am learning Croatian because that is what the teacher started saying when I walked into the classroom! I am actually having fun–so you were right, Dad. 

So far I have learned to say “thank you” (Hvala), and “how do you say….” I use the “How do you say” a lot so it’s on my mind. 
I love you all and will actually write you on whenever my email time is haha
Sestra Livingston
(I will edit her emails for spelling, punctuation and grammar, since missionaries type as fast as they can and don’t always have time to go back and proofread their emails.😉)
It was a little harder this time sending off a child on their mission. When I went to set the table and counted out 6 plates instead of 7, and when I saw the light to the basement on and went to turn it off, realizing that no one was sleeping down their anymore, I had to cry a little.
I sure miss our Julia!