Tuesday, October 29, 2013


It's been awhile since I've posted. As usual, I've been super busy. However, there's a BIG difference now. I don't feel so frazzled and stressed. Sure, there are crazy days and stressful moments, but overall, life actually FEELS different even though when I look at my calendar I'm busier than I've ever been before. My house pretty much looks the same too...  (remember when I was stressing about all the clutter and lack of organization? I don't think it's really that bad. I'm still following Flylady and it's definitely helping our house-- but the change I really needed occurred in my head.)

What's different? TWO things.

Since the end of August, I've been teaching preschool. Just 2.5 hours a day, 3 days a week. It doesn't sound like too much time, but I've definitely had to adjust my schedule and work smarter to get everything done at home. You know what? I feel GOOD.

The kids are absolutely adorable and they're always making us laugh with the cute things they say and do. I really enjoy being with them and teaching them how to recognize their letters and learn their sounds. It's very rewarding to see the progress they are making already.

I also LOVE the lady I teach with. Her name is Julie and I think I did a blog post about her awhile back. She is... well, she's just plain AWESOME! We have a lot of fun together and I really admire her. She has published the "Read at Three" reading program we use and other preschool's have purchased it to use as well.

So basically, I really look forward to "work" every other day. It's a nice break from the routine of errands and cleaning the house (which never really ends, right?). I haven't worked since?? Gosh, I had a small part-time job back in 2007 where I helped a neighbor with their home-based business (I think it was less than a year?). Other than that, I used to work in the "Bug Lab" at Utah State University in the Fisheries and Wildlife Department back in... oh, 1998. Yeah, it's been awhile.

It feels good to be contributing to something worthwhile and to spend time with the preschool kids and Julie is definitely good for the soul! I feel so blessed to have them in my life. Julie is a woman of God and I would do well to learn from and follow her example. :) Here we are on a field trip to the Fire Station:

A couple weeks ago we went to our friend's Oktoberfest. Just for the record, it was a LOT of fun! Lots of authentic German food and lots of fun people to visit with. Anyway, I've always been and always will be VERY proud to be a mother, especially a "stay-at-home" mother. It is a VERY big sacrifice with immeasurable results! However, whenever someone asks you "what do you do?" and you say, "I'm a stay-at-home mom" they almost always say something to the effect of, "oh, that's nice, good for you" and there's not much else to say. That's fine. I get that. Actually, a lot of the women I associate with are also stay-at-home moms so they get it too. :) They smile a knowing smile and we always have a lot to talk about.

Well, the Oktoberfest was the first social gathering I've been to since I've started teaching preschool and where I didn't already know a lot of the people. So with the regular chit chat, I got a lot of the "what do you do?" and I would say, "I'm raising 4 children AND I teach preschool." They would respond, "Oh, wow, you teach preschool? That's great!" Then, they would ask about our reading program and such, and wow, it felt so good to be part of something as wonderful as this preschool!

I can't wait for our Halloween Party tomorrow! Of course, I will be dressed as Luna Lovegood. I don't think the kids will know who I really am, but I have to celebrate my love of Harry Potter in some way each year. :) Okay...

General Conference. This was during the first week of October and it was absolutely INCREDIBLE. As usual, I took notes on nearly every talk. I felt very inspired and strengthened. I truly felt like some of the talks were specific answers to my prayers. However, this time, I did something else. Something more. Something I'm still doing.

The very first talk really inspired me. It was from Elder Robert D. Hales (one of my favorite Apostles --I got to meet him a few years ago) and it was called, "General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony". I really felt the need to do more than listen to all of the talks and even more than taking notes on each of them. I felt like I should use them as a road map or guide book for my everyday life until the next conference in April.

Before I forget, did I tell you I've been serving in the Relief Society Presidency? It has been such a WONDERFUL blessing in my life. I enjoy it so much. I really feel like I'm helping others and making new friends. Our Presidency has so much fun together and our meetings are always very inspiring and strengthening to me. Denise is our President and she is truly one-of-a-kind. She is one of those genuine and unfailingly kind people. There isn't a mean bone in her body. She sees the good in everyone and is quick to let them know. She goes out of her way to help everyone AND somehow she still finds time to be a wonderful mother and wife and run a full-time day care! She is SO fun to be with too.

Again, Denise is another very special woman of God. It is no coincidence Heavenly Father has put these women and many others in my life at THIS time. I need them. They help me to stay strong and to do good things. She said to all of us right after conference or was it Time Out for Women? I can't remember, but she said how important it is to continue to study all of the conference talks AFTER conference.

Denise heard someone say, "A talk a day keeps Satan away." 
That has really stayed with me! She said she listens to a talk every morning as she's getting ready for the day. So, I thought I would try it. I usually listen to music or nothing at all and I thought this would be a good time to focus when my mind is fresh and the kids are at school.

I have to tell you, it has literally been life-changing!!! 10 minutes a day. LIFE CHANGING! I have felt a greater desire to pray and read my scriptures. I have felt greater peace and daily inspiration. I have felt HAPPIER! I often find myself listening to 2 or 3 or even more talks. I carry my phone around the house with me as I make my bed and load the dishwasher and start a load of laundry. It has been a HUGE blessing in my life and I hope to do it as often as I can.

Here's *just a few* of my favorite talks from the October 2013 General Conference:

"Windows of Heaven" by Elder David A. Bednar

"Like a Broken Vessel" by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

"Called of Him to Declare His Word" by Randy D. Funk

"The Strength to Endure" by Richard J. Maynes

"Look Up" by Elder Adrian Ochoa

"We Never Walk Alone" by President Thomas S. Monson

If you prayerfully read or listen to these talks I know it will bless your life.

Now that I think about it, I don't know if the "two things" are actually preschool and conference or Julie and Denise, but either way, my life has been changed for the better.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Banana Bread

I always seem to have ripe bananas sitting around my kitchen...

This is one of my favorite recipes ever. I've taken a few recipes and sort of mixed them together and modified them to make it my own variation:

Banana Bread
(not too sure about this picture... I'm hoping to get a better camera someday, but anyway, you get the idea :)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, add:

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar

Cream together and blend rest of ingredients:

2 eggs
3 ripe* bananas, mashed (*if you use new bananas the flavor isn't as sweet and the bread isn't as moist)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4. tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Spray pans with non-stick cooking spray or dust with flour. Bake smaller pans about 30 minutes and the larger pans about 50 minutes, but this is just an estimate. It depends on your oven and it also depends on how full you fill the pans. I always set my timer for 25 minutes and then I check them about every 5-10 minutes after that, sticking a toothpick in the center to see if it's baked. The top will be a nice dark brown. After you take them out of the oven, let them cool just a bit and then go around the edges of the pan with a knife to get them out. I don't wait until they're cooled completely in order to take them out of the pan, I think it makes the outside a bit soggy from the heat and steam. Let them finish cooling on an open rack.

My family loves to eat banana bread for breakfast.

This recipe makes 4 small loaves (3" x 5.5") or 2 regular size loaves (4.5" x 8.5"). You can double and even quadruple this recipe. (at least I've tried those variations and they turn out fine)

*FYI -- If you have ripe bananas, but you're not ready to use them, you can peel them and put them in a plastic freezer bag or another container you can put in the freezer and you can freeze them to use later. I do this ALL the time. When I want to make the banana bread, I take the bag out of the freezer, put it in my mixing bowl and let the bananas thaw out while I'm preheating the oven and getting out the other ingredients. When they thaw (especially if they are very ripe), you'll sometimes have a little brown juice in the bag along with the bananas -- just pour it all in the mix! YUMMY!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Conference with a cold and my favorite scripture.

8:30am: Here's my kitchen in all of its horror...

If you could see it in real life you would understand why I'm sitting here typing... it's TRASHED! The other side of the room looks just about the same minus the food. I wanted to take a picture, but my phone is full, of course. Life can be so overwhelming. I can't seem to breathe. (ha! quite literally at the moment)

It was Conference Weekend and I've had a nasty cold since Thursday. Not a good combination. I've spent a lot of time on the couch... blah.

Oh, and just to add insult to injury -- I went outside yesterday for a moment of fresh air and I got stung by a wasp! I haven't been stung by a wasp or bee since I was a little girl! So weird! OUCH! (By the way, lavender oil works great on wasp stings -- the swelling and pain were gone in less than an hour.)

For the record, my sweet hubby and kids have been helpful -- bringing me tissues and cleaning up the house when needed, but last night we just kind of gave up. Zeke offered to clean, but I begged him to sit by me on the couch and watch another movie. This cold makes me feel like a big baby and my brain is so foggy... ugh.

Conference was great. I'm still trying to absorb it all and clarify my feelings and thoughts about some of the talks I would like to post about later. 

One scripture that really stood out to me (I noted 5 different speakers referencing it) was :

Matthew 11:28-30
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

I know I've mentioned on my blog a few times that this is my favorite scripture. 
It is THE scripture. The one that keeps me going. The one that got me going in the first place.

Long, long story, but when I was 18 and completely lost I had a miracle of a thought. To this day, I don't know what made me think it. I do know I'd hit rock bottom in my life and literally there was no way to go but up. I didn't realize this thought would change my life forever.

I thought maybe there was something to this Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I wanted to find out for sure. I opened a Bible -- you know how people say they just randomly flip to a page and start reading? Well, I did that and came to Matthew 11: 28-30. The words practically jumped off the page at me! Those verses seemed highlighted somehow, like there was a glow surrounding them. Those simple, yet powerful verses changed my life forever. This was my answer. THE answer. I have never looked back.

This scripture has sustained me and strengthened me through the last 20 years, but trials still come. Life is very hard sometimes, but life can also be joyful and rewarding. There is always hope through the Atonement of our Savior. 

Yesterday, Richard G. Scott said something like, "The Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. There is justice for rebellion, but for our weaknesses He shows mercy." I needed those words yesterday. I struggle SO much. I get SO mad at myself. I feel SO weak and unworthy sometimes.

I think of 2 Nephi 4:17-21 when Nephi says, "... O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and sins which do so easily beset me. And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins;"

Then he says, 
"Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions... He hath filled me with His love, even unto the consuming of my flesh!"

We need our Savior to help us overcome our weaknesses. He is THE answer. I have prayed earnestly to overcome my weaknesses and turn them over to Him. I know it's a daily battle and a lifelong process. I know I can't do it alone. I know in whom I have trusted.

Another quote from Conference (I think it's from Timothy Dyches of the Quorum of the 70):
"All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Christ."

One of my favorite talks was by Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the 70. It really brought me hope and comfort and... wow, the word that came to mind was vindication (for me, at least).

He said something like, "We need to develop spiritual stamina in order to find inner peace and strength to endure whatever challenge we wake up to each morning."

I appreciate so much that he acknowledged that some trials don't end. Some trials are with us throughout our earthly life. Many people face horrible and unthinkable and unbearable trials they are able to overcome through the help of our Savior and because they eventually end. (Like being out of work or recovering from a serious accident or illness). They get through it. It's an event in their life, not a way of life.

What about people that just have to endure? Their trial is ALWAYS there and most likely always will be. For some, it is reality. We need to have compassion and understanding for those people. Those people need to have compassion and understanding for themselves. (I'm talking to myself right here.) It's so hard, because some trials people face are invisible to others. Trials you can't actually "see" on the outside or maybe not realize how hard it is for them or what they are truly going through.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "If the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and BE STRONG!"

I honestly loved that and "hated" it at the same time. It stung me (and it was supposed to). I faltered because of my weaknesses. It sounds too hard. I want a reprieve sometimes. It's hard to be strong! I truly appreciated his talk and related to much of it -- but it made me realize I need to accept my trials and not compare myself to others, to "come what may and LOVE it". (from Elder Wirthlin long ago)

I know the Lord knows exactly what we are going through. He understands fully and He can truly see everything. He loves us no matter what. I find great comfort in that eternal truth. I hope I can be strong enough to "drink the bitter cup" and keep going and even "LOVE it". 

One day at a time ... sometimes for me, it's one hour or even one moment at a time. I've come to realize that is what enduring is. We can't be perfect now and we certainly can't be perfect and happy every moment, but little by little we can keep going forward doing our best. That's all He asks. It is enough.

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