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Two Sundays ago I went to choir practice and right after I came home, I started feeling sick: chills, achiness, nausea. I thought, “Seriously?” With all that has been on my mind with recent and coming family events and preparation, I really wanted to go to church and not deal with physical illness!

I asked for a priesthood blessing from Lane and Nate and got up and went to church. By the end of the third hour, I was doing better than I had earlier that morning. I just took it easy that day.

My sister-in-law Diane stopped by that evening. She had come by the day before when we were working outside and saw what we were trying to accomplish in the backyard. She heard about what we hoped to accomplish before we left for our family reunion, and she left her son Sam to help us while she left to help put on a baby shower.

Without us knowing, she went to task organizing a service night. Late Monday afternoon, another sister-in-law dropped off two pizzas and some fresh fruit for dinner for our family. Then, at about 6:30 pm, extended family started showing up, ready to work wherever we needed them. Our nephew’s fiancée came: “I’m all in!’ she told us. The brother and wife of our niece’s husband even came to help! I don’t even know them! They all stayed until it got dark, shoveling bark, moving dirt, helping with that heavy stone.

And then they left as cheerfully as they had come.

Can I just tell you what love filled my heart?

I felt so much gratitude and love for those people!

And this thought was really impressed upon me: If you want to grow love, serve.

When I was a student at BYU, I went to the student government office one day to join a service program called “Serve to Love to Serve.” That name has stuck with me over these years, and that Family Night service night at our home reminded me of that. If you want to grow love for someone, serve them.

Yesterday in Relief Society, we reviewed the lesson called “Losing Ourselves in the Service of Others.” President Hinckley taught,

If the world is to be improved, the process of love must make a change in the hearts of men. It can do so when we look beyond self to give our love to God and others, and do so with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind…

“As we look with love and gratitude to God, as we serve him with an eye single to his glory, there goes from us the darkness of sin, the darkness of selfishness, the darkness of pride. There will come an increased love for our Eternal Father and for his Beloved Son, our Savior and our Redeemer. There will come a greater sense of service toward our fellowmen, less of thinking of self and more of reaching out to others.

“This principle of love is the basic essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (p.202).

In my scripture study in the Book of Mormon this morning, I read Alma 41. I noticed that there is a gift that comes back to us if we “deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually”–it comes back to us. “And if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.”

This reminds me of a Christmas decoration that this same Diane made for me years ago, a red sleigh with silk flowers in it. Attached was the simple phrase, “Love begets love.” If we show love toward our family members, love will return. The key to nurturing love in our home and family and extended family is to show love through service, kindness, mercy. I found these verses in Colossians 3:13-14:

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

It’s hard to stay mad at someone who is being kind and helpful, right?

I also noted this verse in Alma 41:15, just like Diane’s “love begets love” phrase: “For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored.”

Time for me to get going and go serve.



Overcoming stuttering while piloting

Because my husband is passionate about flying, we subscribe to Plane & Pilot magazine. I love reading some of the articles. One thing I have learned in doing so is that a majority of flying accidents are avoidable if you have sufficient training. I believe there’s a great lesson applicable to nurturing families and children in this! The better educated we are and the closer we are in tune to heaven, the better we can help those around us.

This summer I read an article called “Speaking From The Heart” (June 2017). Johnathan Smith, the author of the article, relates how through his entire life he has dealt with a speech deficit, stuttering. I was dismayed to hear how others had interacted with him with regards to this condition while he was a child:

“I was sent to speech therapy for years and had multiple procedures to attempt to ‘correct’ my condition. Nothing worked.

“To make matters workse, kids regularly poked fun at me and put me down, and my ‘mentors’ continued to encourage me to go into manual labor.

“Luckily, I was storng enough not to allow anybody to put arbitrary limits on me or my big dream. And what was that dream, you ask?…It was to find a way to be a part of the world of aviation” (p.26).

After high school, people continued to discourage him from working towards his dream. Still, he didn’t give up. After years he had saved enough money to attend flight school. When he began inquiring at schools, they told him he “would never be able to fly and become a pilot” (p.26). He was nearly ready to give up when he “approached the president of a flight training center in Glendale” (27). He allowed Jonathan to take the test for a Sport Pilot certificate. He passed the first time! “I couldn’t believe that fter being made to feel this would never happen, that my perseverance had finally paid off. I was so excited. I wanted to learn everything about this aircraft and this field” (28).

And here comes the coolest part of the article is this: When he went for his check flight, he put on the headphones and started to talk to ground control.

“Low and behold, I spoke with perfect fluency! And for 34 hours flying beyond that point, it was as though my stuttering had vanished” (28).

He found out that “when people with a stutter speak the same material at the same time with another speaker, their fluency increases….As you probably know, when we pilots speak in to the microphone, our voice is sumltaneously fed through the headphones, a feature known as sidetone, allowing us to hear our own voice when we speak in a kind of choral effect. Who knows why it works, but it did” (28).

He passed his checkride and has gone on to become a sport flight instructor. He also offers free rides “to kids or others with disabilities and/or disorders” (28) to help give them a vision of what they can do!

To read the full article, visit planeandpilotmag.com.



A Wrinkle in Time

I think that I read this book years ago, but it’s been so long that the memory of the story is filed away in some distant, dusty corner of my brain under a pile of so many other memories and is currently unretrievable. So when Sarah and Anna started reading A Wrinkle in Time aloud together this month, I decided to go along for the ride myself.

The movie of this book comes out in the spring of 2018, so it will be fun to read the book before the film. (But books are always better than movies, right?)

I started listening this morning, and it was cool to hear Madeleine L’Engle’s voice speaking before the narration began. She said that when she was wriitng the book, she would read it to her children at night, what she had written that day. They would tell her, “Oh Mother, go back to the typewriter.” Love it!

She also said that people initially complained the book “was much too hard for children and that it was nearly not published. She said she didn’t think so, as her children understood it just fine. (They were 7, 10 and 12 when she read it to them.) I agree! Children understand so much more than people give them credit for, especially when they have grown up being read to from their earliest days.

I especially loved how Madeleine L’Engle closed her Audible introduction: “I hope you enjoy this book. I had a wonderful time writing it.”


Nothing More Heroic

I was in the temple with my daughter, Sarah, when we had the opportunity to meet C. Terry Warner, a now temple sealer and as I knew him, author of some wonderful ideas. He helped found the group that published one of our favorite books, Leadership and Self-Deception. He was talking about a man who, originally from India, prepared and performed a great amount of temple work for ancestors in his homeland.

I mentioned to him that we have a Livingston ancestor who was an early Mormon missionary in India. He asked if I had read Nothing More Heroic by R. Lanier Britsch. I replied that I hadn’t, and I went home and found a copy of the book and ordered it.

I brought it on our family vacation to begin reading it (Hooray for getting to read on vacation!). Wow! What an education! I’m learning about the experiences and great sacrifices that early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints made in order to preach the gospel in India (“Hindustan”) in the 1850’s. I was delighted to discover, along the way, that I think we have another relative who served a mission to China back then, too!  I have to verify that it is our relative.

Here’s a snippet from my readings thus far:

“I continued working at the Tithing Office and did most of my predatory work after hours. I sold my cow for thirty dollars and bought a pen, some new clothes, a watch, and some other useful items. We held several training meetings in which various topics were discussed, and plans were developed. Our leaders decided we should travel by wagon train by way of southern California, as had been suggested by Elder Willes in a letter form India. This plan required us to buy wagons, horses and mules (ox-drawn wagons were too slow), harnesses, and all that went with such travel. Of course, we would be camping along the way so we had to take cooking gear and utensils, good, blankets, tents, and everything one needs for minimal comfort on a long journey….

“During the next two weeks, we assembled ourselves into a wagon company, and on october 24th, we met at Peteetneet. While on our way, we stopped at the POint of th eMountaiin to take one last look at the Great Salt Lake Valley. Wanting to be as much like the Apostles of old, I sent my purse and my only money, four dollars, back to my mother. I was truly ‘without purse or scrip.’ So were my companions. The group…consisted of thirty-eight missionaries called to Calcutta, Siam, the Sandwich Islands, Hong Kong, and Australia. China-bound Hosea Stout was elected captain, Bishop N.V. Jones became chaplain, Burr Frost acted as sergeant of the guard, and I was asked to serve as clerk…

“…The trip to California took about six weeks” (pp.13-14).

The missionaries traveled to Southern California and then back up to San Francisco (via a ship). Then they boarded the Monsoon on January 27, 1853, traveled over 800 miles and disembarked April 26, 1853.

I’d love to share more later!


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…😉