Sunday, October 27, 2013


This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel with my husband to Northern California, where our high school football team of 30 years ago, was celebrated for winning the all-state Championship game!  The 1983 Football team from El Dorado High School was reunited, Thursday during a dinner event.  Then, Friday night, this team of Champions was honored during the half-time celebration of the varsity game.  Coaches and teammates were reunited.  Though appearances had changed, their hearts and passion for the game and for each other had remained.  These strong young men of yesterday had all gone on to become husbands and fathers, accountants, police officers, business owners, executives, construction workers, coaches and teachers---- all contributing members of society and striving to make each day better than the one before.  5 teammates had passed away, during the past 30 years, and their lives were tearfully remembered.  It was so fun to play the supporting role at this event, and let my husband know I was proud of him too.  I watched the eyes well up of these grown men, as they spoke of their love for each other, their admiration for the coaches, their memories and heartbreak over the 5 who had passed on, and the lessons learned, on and off the field, during those high school years.  And, of these lessons, only a fraction were actual football plays and strategies from the field.
These young men paid tribute to their coaches and team players for believing in them, and for teaching them that anything was possible with a lot of dedication and hard work.  Practice makes perfect, and if it's not perfect, keep practicing!  They spoke of being teenagers and the difficult and intense schedule that they were required to maintain, to be part of the team.  Early morning practices, after-school practices, exhaustion, late night games followed by late night homework.  Day after day, year after year, these young men worked in order to play in the game they loved.  As adults, each and everyone of them has had to face difficulty and challenge of one sort or another.  And, they remarked how during those very hard times, they would often reflect back to those football years and the hard work they put in to be part of this team.  And, if they could survive that, they could push through and survive anything.  Shy men rose and spoke not-so-shy anymore.  Football had given them purpose and life had given them value and voice and they stood and spoke with confidence.  

  I must brag a bit and add, that my husband was also quite the track star, during our high school days.  Though he is very humble, he set some track records that are still posted in the gym and have yet to be surpassed by any other athlete.  
 He was All-Conference for two years as a football player and his name is on a plaque on the Wall of Fame at the football field.  And, he was also Athlete-of-the-Year, an excellent student, and one of our Student Council Presidents.  Very talented!  Full of determination and zeal for anything he pursued.  And, a burning desire to perform wherever and whenever with excellence!  A true Champion!

The afternoon before the reunion dinner event, my husband said he was not sure if he wanted to go.  He suggested just attending the game with the boys and heading home, the following night.  With the ups and downs of life, it is easy to lack confidence and find peace about who and what you have become.  Life's challenges had definitely robbed him of his Champion status, and most days, he felt like anything but a "winner."  It is easy to look back on our lives and discover all the things we did not become and did not accomplish.  For some reason, we seem to see our lists of races we did not win, embedded on the walls of our minds, rather than the many times we crossed the finish line, exhausted and down trodden, but didn't quit.  Immediately following the half-time celebration, we jumped in the car and drove back to Utah, through the night.  With two of our sons, sleeping peacefully in the backseat, we talked and discussed the reunion events.  In the quiet of the night, I asked him what he like the best about getting together with his team.  He loved seeing his teammates and having those feelings of brotherhood fill his heart again.  He loved seeing the coaches and remembering that they believed in him.  He loved listening to the hours of stories and memories shared, which reminded him of being back in the locker room or on the field, making that touchdown, and feeling like a true Champion! He loved walking in the gym of our old alma mater and seeing his name there on the wall, for track records still unbroken-----30 years later, still a Champion! And, he loved sharing all this with his family.
 He loved putting on the jersey and walking onto the field with many of his teammates, knowing there were people in the bleachers cheering for him, just like 30 years ago, because he was and still is a Champion.  When we left the football stadium, my cute husband had an extra spring in his step, an extra dose of confidence and a permanent smile on his face.  As we drove through the darkness, the Champion sitting next to me had a light of confidence about him that I had not seen in years.  The more we drove, the more we talked.  And, the more we talked, the more accomplishments he remembered. Touchdowns he made. Races he won.  And, the more he remembered, the brighter his smile.

 It all seemed so therapeutic and the result--- a returning Champion!  So, I decided to make my own list of Championship accomplishments. I was not an honored athlete, though I loved sports.  I didn't win any races.  So, for my Champion list, I went clear back to 2nd grade, when my self-portrait 

was chosen to hang in the community library, and the honor I felt each time we went, and checked out books, and walked by my masterpiece.  In 7th grade, I won a science award for the Best Design of my machine powered by a can of soda.  Student Council Secretary.  A junior high award for participating in All Sports.  High School chemistry award. Crazy as this list may seem, as I drove, I continued with my Champion List!!  By the time we arrived home, I remembered I was a winner too!!  I decided, we all need to take time and make our Champion Lists!  We have all accomplished things that we are proud of.  Whether we have been selected or honored or not, we are all Champions of one sort or another.  And, remembering an award for my 7th grade soda pop machine reminded me that I was a Champion too.  A Champion is not afraid to fall and get up and run faster!  A Champion will fight through anything!  A Champion never quits!  A Champion was once a contender too.  A Champion requires motivation and hard work, winning is just the end result!  However, the most important attribute of being a champion ------- is believing that you are one.  So, if you fall, get up!  Keep persevering and never quit!  Work hard!  Don't just think Champion---- Be a Champion!!  What's on your Champion List?  Don't let life cause you to forget the races you have won, the teams you have supported, the lives you have touched or the pictures you have drawn.  Make your list! Remember the feeling!  Don't just think Champion--- Be one!  Smile bright! Dream big!  Champions!



One of the most common questions I get asked is, "How and why did you get back into school so fast, after such a devastating experience?"  "Why didn't you get a full-time job instead of school?" So, YOUR questions have become the inspiration for this post.

 "Learning"  would definitely describe the past three years of my life.

It was October 2010, Winter was right around the corner.  The air was cold, my heart was heavy and I could barely wrap my mind around my new reality.  I was alone.  I had 4 children.  I never finished college.  And, for the past 18 years, I had just been a Kool-Aid mom and taken care of our children and managed our home.  Now, I found myself needing to manage my life and the lives of 4 children, as a single mother.  And, the tremendous weight that accompanied my new reality felt all-consuming.  I decided that I loved taking care of people, so I would try to get into a  Nursing program.  At that point, obtaining a CNA was a prerequisite, so I went to check out a nearby program.  I found out the next CNA program started in two weeks.  They gave me a stack of papers to fill out.  I sat down and began to write, as I was afraid that if I left, I would would never have the courage to come back again.  Upon completion, the secretary told me that I needed to take a math test, before I could be considered for admittance.  She handed me the math test, 50 questions, and two pencils and two blank pieces of scratch paper.  I walked through the sterile hallway into a testing room, found a seat and began the test.  I remember, looking at the paper and then looking out the window, and thinking to myself, "This CANNOT be happening to me!"  "How did I go from full-time mom, PTA regular, and Garage Sale Guru, to single-mom-taking-math-test, in a moment of weeks?"  I then sent a prayer to the heavens, pleading for help on this math test, a subject that was my least favorite in school and of which, I had not had formal instruction for over 20 years.  I made a deal with divinity that if I were to go back to school, I needed a Math Miracle to give me the confidence and courage
I would need to succeed. I took a deep breath, opened the test, got my scratch paper ready and began!!  Some of the problems were harder than others.  I would sit and stare at equation after equation and wait for inspiration.  Sometimes, I could see myself helping one of my kids with a similar problem during a homework session.  Other problems, I could hear my father instructing me as a young girl, "Work it out backwards", "Figure out which answer it is not."  I only had an hour before I needed to pick up kids from school and practices, so my mind was on my test and the clock.  As I finished, there were 2 problems I just could not figure out.  Finally, I took one last look at each, chose the best answer for both and turned it in.  The secretary corrected it immediately.  My score-------- 49 out of 50.  That "A" on my math test that day stood for:
                                                    Absolutely go back to college!
                                                    Always pray for help!
                                                    Alone I was NOT!    and,
                                                    Ashlyn, Adam, Amber and Andrew Garrett are counting on you!

I signed up that day.  Found the entire CNA program paid for by dear friend.  And, that friend, you know who you are.  YOU are the reason that I was able to hold my head high when I felt lower than low.  YOU are the reason I had the courage to try.  YOU are the reason that I did not quit.  If I had paid for the program myself, I would have quit when the work got hard, the homework even more difficult, sleep became scarce, the stress of tests and deadlines overwhelming when coupled with the demands of single parenthood and shattered dreams. But, your gift of education and courage taught me not to give up, that I could do hard things and smile, and that someone much bigger than I was ultimately in charge. I completed the CNA program, applied to college and jumped in full-time.  I am now in my 5 semester of college studying Public and Community Health.  I hope to work on the Utah Valley University campus with the Turning Point program geared towards helping people in transition, or in the Women's Center---- and sort of give back as so many have given to me.

Going back to college, I have LEARNED that I can still LEARN at age 47.  Not only can I LEARN in my classes and become better and brighter with each credit.  But, I can LEARN with each life's experience.  Some classes are more challenging than others.  Some classes require a tremendous amount of reading
and quiet studying while other classes require more group work.  And, life has proved no different.  Some challenges have sent me to retreat with the ultimate text book, my scriptures, and quietly ponder for answers and inspiration, strength and motivation.  While other experiences have drained the life right out of me, and my only hope has been a group of family and friends,
to bring me to my feet again, and give me hope for a new tomorrow.  I have LEARNED that prioritizing makes all the difference.  When I have taken care of my children, put my house in order, accomplished my part-time jobs, and even taken time to serve, I can go to my Heavenly Father in prayer.  I remind Him that I have taken care of the sweet spirits He has entrusted me with, I have tried to lighten someone else's load, I have worked to help provide monetarily, and now I need Him to help me.   I plead with Him to take the hour or two that I have and make them more.  And, He always does!!!  I have been blessed to be able to memorize in an hour what should have taken a week.  I have been inspired with different ways to study, like recording my notes, and playing them while I shuttle kids, fold laundry, change sheets, or make sack lunches for an entire basketball team at a moments notice------- then go take a test.....and succeed!!

 LEARNING has helped to heal my broken heart.  About a year after my husband left, he began requesting a regular schedule of visits and weekends with the kids.  The first day of the first visit arrived.  I had a suitcase packed with tender loving care----- medicine just-in-case, vitamins, warm jammies, clean clothes, favorite blankets and a picture of me with an I Love You note placed right on top!  He arrived, kids left.  The car drove off with my most priceless possessions.  I shut the door.  I slowly slid down the inside of the of the frame, barely clearing the doorknob and crumbled to the floor.  Not only was I empty and broken-hearted, but the sweet little ones that I lived and breathed for were gone.  The house was still and quiet.  The lump in my throat enlarged so big that I felt I could no longer breathe or swallow.  Unable to mutter even a prayer, the tears began to pour and I just simply looked up.  There on the kitchen counter, illuminated by the only light on in the house, sat my pink plaid back pack.  Homework!  I could do my homework!  When the kids were gone, I could work feverishly on homework, and even get ahead.  Then, when they were home, my time could be more devoted to them and to our home.  That day, I realized that I needed to go to school for many more reasons other than obtaining a degree.  I needed to teach my kids that education and LEARNING are important.  I needed to create a career that could provide for them and me in the future---- a career I would love and that would enable me to give back.  I needed to meet people and professors who would go on to inspire me.  (This blog is the result of one such class and one such professor).  I needed to learn how to prioritize and rely on the heavens to make up the difference.  I needed HOMEWORK, to fill in those dark and lonely nights with deadlines and study groups------- requiring my mind to focus on education while healing my broken heart.  And, I have LEARNED that I am never Alone------- and if the adversary wants me to believe that I am,  it only takes "Reading" or a little "Group Work" to know that I am wrapped in His arms, all throughout life---- and all the while I am LEARNING!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I was watching General Conference, this past Sunday.  It is a meeting for anyone and everyone, all over the world.  It gives the general authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints an opportunity, every 6 months, to address the church, as a whole.  The talks are not planned as a group.  Topics are not given.  However, the meeting always seems to flow together, with an amazing spirit of renewal and inspiration. Last week, there were many talks which taught me, however, one talk pierced my soul to its very core, and I could not sit still until I wrote:

Sunday-- 6 October 2013

Today, marked the last day of General Conference, October 2013.  It was remarkable!  We were reminded to stay close to the Lord.  We were encouraged to Love God and to Love others.  We were invited over and over again, to share our testimonies.  It is my hope and prayer, that through this post, the Spirit will be felt, my testimony shared, and most of all, that the heart of each reader will be touched.  I was moved to tears, as President Thomas S. Monson spoke this morning.  He opened his talk, remembering his sweet wife Francis, who passed away, just a few months prior.  President Monson spoke of her sweetness and their close friendship.  He spoke of her constant support without complaint.   He said, "To say that I miss her does not even begin to describe my feelings..."  He described his loss as "profound".  And said she was, "an angel indeed."  My heart began to pound as I thought about my years as a wife, the past three years without that role and title, and the past two months of remarrige, as a wife again.  It was not a question of, "could it be said of me that I was supportive, a trusted confidant or closest friend?"  It was much more than that.  It was a question of, "would it be said of me?"  Would I be described as an "angel?"  Once I pass from this life to the next, would my loss be "profound?"  I realized again, the importance of my role as a wife and a mother, and soon to be "grandmother"(that's right--- April 2013) meant to me.  The incredible warmth I felt from head to toe, testified to me, that these roles are eternal, and also mean everything to Him.  This testified to my very being, how much I love being a wife, and as equally powerful, how much I had missed that role.

I decided today, that if I wanted to be referred to as an angel, that I had better go about my day as an angel would.  And, that if my loss was to be felt and my legacy remembered, I had work to do!!  In his address, President Monson shared the words of a poet:

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.
Though there are days when the adversary would have me feel like a failure, this poem reminded me that perhaps, the strong wind of divorce, hurt and pain, could in effect, make me even a better wife.  And, that though I have been divinely given the opportunity to be a wife again, there will still be storms to bring strength, bright blue and dark gray skies------ all with the potential to make me "profound" and "angelic".......if I allow it to. 
I realized that because families are SO important and vital to all of us and even to our communities and our futures, the adversary will waste no time in his attempts to tear them apart.  He will use large wrecking balls of infidelity and addiction.  He will quietly take us apart, brick by brick with low self-esteem, hatred, anger, priorities and secrecy.  He will try and get us to fight rather than be faithful.  To be negative rather than nurture.  To see our glass half-empty instead of half-full.  He will beat us down with our own weaknesses.  And, he would have us feed our doubt and fear until it becomes all-consuming, rather that look to our higher power who truly holds all power to make us free!  He will turn our focus from posterity to possessions,  from kitchens and cradles to careers and clothing.  He would have what model and year we buckle up into become more of a priority over who we buckle up and how quickly those years fly by! 
Today, I have begun my life-long pursuit of becoming angelic.  Though I know I AM a child of God, I want to BE a child of God, in all my interactions and pursuits.  I want to love when it is easier to hate.  I want rise rather than crumble.  I want to put up over give up---- everyday, without ceasing.  Though each day I am a mother, a recess-duty, an elementary school aid, a full-time college student, maid, cook, chauffer and wife, the title of His Child, will dictate what I do, what I say, how I act, who and what I listen to and how I serve, as I fulfill each of these roles................if I let it.  The knowledge of being His child not only brings meaning and reason, but hope, peace and motivation to be His hands, each and every day, inside the walls of my own home and out. 
I want my kids to know, all 10 of them, that I LOVE YOUR fathers!!!!  That I have and forever will be their friend, their confidant, their support and biggest fan.  And, when I mess up, I will rise with the help of heavenly wings and brush off the dirt with apology and forgiveness and begin again.  To my 4 children, I ALWAYS supported your father.
Though I have had moments when his actions have torn me apart to point of bleeding to death in hurt and pain and I have retaliated as a child of His would not have, I have apologized, sought forgiveness, and taken courage and allowed His grace and sacrifice to heal those wounds, and I have tried again.  And, I will continue to do so.  To all 10 children, I LOVE my husband!  I am honored to be his wife.  Doing laundry is no longer a chore, for I know, that load by load, I will run across his items, and love permeates my being as I fold them.  I do not love him in spite of weaknesses, I love him because of them!!!  We are a team for each other and for each of you!!  Though I am not angelic, I am an angel in the making.  And, I am part of Lord's university of love, life and forever learning.  Where classes can be retaken as many times as needed, requiring a full-tuition of courage and desire to try again.  "Profound" is the word I would use to describe my husband, your father and step-father, my best friend........and most of all, my love for each of you.   Profound is the warmth I feel when each of you are around!
Profound is my testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I KNOW He lives.  I know He suffered for each and every one of us.  I know that He is the only one who knows our sorrows, pain and sufferings.  I also know that He is the only way to healing.  I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that he did restore the Gospel here on earth.  The fact that he would lay down his life for it, is nothing other than profound!  I know that He prayed and his prayers were heard and answered.  I know, as sure I am typing, that he did in fact, see God the Father and Jesus Christ.  Not because I saw it too, but because of the profound warmth I feel, as the Holy Ghost testifies, each and every time I read of it!  I know that we are all His children.  I know He loves us with a profound love!  I know that though Families Change, He does not!  He is constant! The Gospel is a profound blessing and the fruit from living it is thirst-quenching.  I hope and pray to be a profound influence for good in the many lives around me.  This is the degree I truly seek.  And, I know that with Him, I can do exactly that------ with nothing less than a profound amount of courage and faith, strength and effort, and LOVE!! Profound are we!!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013


There I sat, on the edge of my hospital bed, staring at the familiar bassinet where my new daughter lay sleeping.  This marked the culmination of my 4th pregnancy and 3rd delivery in 5 years.  I had just sat on the edge of that very bed, 18 months prior, after the delivery of my second baby.  Needless to say, the familiarity was accompanied by paralyzing anxiety regarding the future.  My thoughts raced with useless self-doubt in my ability to sufficiently meet the needs of these three little ones, under four years of age.  Fear soon followed, as my mind raced with wonder, "How will I take care of two young ones and a newborn, each morning they wake up hungry, needing love and attention and care?" "How will I get them to bed each night, with the same one-one-one time I have always given them?" "What time will I need to wake up in the morning, to have a minute to read and recollect, before I begin each day?"  "Where will I put my groceries with a basket full of children?"  Without answers for any of these questions, I kissed my newborn on the cheek, and decided to shower, there in my hospital room.  As the water began to run down my head, tears began to flow as I pondered my future.  Soon, I heard the voice of my pediatrician.  Through the door, he asked me how I was doing?  I told him I was fine.  I assumed he then checked out the baby, and headed to his next patient's room, as he did each morning.  When I was able to maintain a little bit of composure, I turned the shower off, wrapped my body and hair in a towel and opened the bathroom door.  There, smiling, sat my pediatrician, on the foot of my hospital bed.  He winked at me and said, "Are you ready to take this Princess home?"  Suddenly, I just broke down and crumbled, right before him.  I explained to him my feelings of complete and utter inadequacy regarding this newborn, and the responsibilities that awaited me at home.  I begged him to keep me in the hospital for a few more days.  He sat down with me, and calmly took out a piece of paper.  He drew one small circle.  He said that represented my little family----- my husband and my 3 little ones, and our home, the day to day stuff that absolutely  NEEDED to be done each day, like meal prep, laundry and basic clean up.  He then drew a larger circle around it and labeled it, "My Responsibilities".  He told me that My Responsibilities included house cleaning beyond the typical day-to-day stuff, yard work, church callings, and any school or community responsibilities that I had committed to do.  Then, he drew yet an even bigger circle.  This outer circle was labeled "Friends and Neighbors".  It represented anything and anyone that did not have a particular time limit or responsibility connected to it.
 After creating these three Circles, he tenderly put his arm around me.  He pointed to the center circle.  He explained that this was all I needed to worry about for the coming days, and possibly even months.  It was up to me.  He told me that when I woke up in the morning, I just needed to worry about a husband and these 3 little ones and NOTHING ELSE.  He told me to make easy meals, do minimal chores and just worry about my family.  He told me that each day I would get better and better at it.  And, that after I felt confident with that ever important task of taking care of my family, I would naturally extend my energy to the next circle of  My Responsibilities.  I could begin to incorporate extra chores, some yard work.  Then, I could fulfill my other commitments.  This feeling of accomplishment would create more and more confidence in my abilities, that soon I would be able to reach out to that outer most circle of Friends and Neighbors.  In doing so, my confidence would grow exponentially, as I learned to take care of My Family, meet My Responsibilities and then, reach out to Friends and Neighbors.

Circles continue to remind me of a loving doctor and friend who took the time to not only teach me a valuable lesson, but to show me that he cared.  Circles continue to remind me that I cannot always do everything.  And, that my priority lies in My Family circle.  This Circle Effect has helped me during the many events of Family Change.  When a family member has been sick or struggling, I automatically go back to my inner circle, and make sure their needs are met each day.  Then, I venture out to other Responsibilities and then Friends and Neighbors.  When my husband left, for the first time, in 2005, leaving me with 4 little children, I, once again, went back to my inner most circle and began to work my way out again.  Then, when my he left for good, in 2010, the feelings of failure were all-consuming.  I had worked SO hard, been SO supportive and I failed!!!  I functioned on auto-pilot for the next few days, barely getting kids fed and off to school.  One morning, my alarm went off.  The burden of my reality so heavy that I could not even move the covers let alone, get out of bed.  So, I laid still, and horizontally pleaded to the heavens for divine guidance.  As I opened my eyes to the darkness of the morning, I saw above me, the drawing of Circles.  And, I could hear His familiar voice and feel His loving arms around me, and knew I just needed to go back to my inner Circle------just take care of my 4 children, and soon, I would gain the confidence and strength I needed to tend to the other Circles of my life.  I was calm as I realized again, that not only could I not do it all myself, but that I did not HAVE to do it ALL.  And, most importantly, someone knew me, knew the challenges that awaited me, and took the time to let me know He cared.  I can honestly say, it probably took me a year to venture out of my inner circle, after my husband left.  And, that was OK!!!  I realized that my Inner Circle had changed.  Death, divorce, college and missions, birth and adoption, military service, kids grown and gone, and even re-marriage....... as life goes on, our inner circles change.  With some change, our inner circles enlarge.  With other change and challenge, our inner circles are strengthened.

I have come to know and understand the importance of my inner circle and making sure those needs are met.  Taking care of those that I have a divine responsibility to, allows me to accomplish my other Responsibilities and even touch the hearts and serve my friends and neighbors, as I accomplish, serve and love, one circle of responsibility at a time.

I have grown to love and appreciate this blog so much.  Over the past 3 years of incredible Family Change, it has allowed me to reach out beyond my inner circle, through technology, when my time and energy would not have allowed.  It has given me the opportunity to make more friends, meet more people and even have opportunities to speak and share, even though, there are still days, when I never make it out of my inner circle. And, through this blog, many of you have touched my heart with your stories, your good wishes and your strength and courage and confidence.

 Now, with a new marriage, my inner circle is filled with new cherished loved ones who are counting on me to focus on them, and meet their every need.  So, I find myself, back to focusing on my inner circle.   I am loving the challenge of figuring out who likes what in their sack lunches, who loves their back tickled at night, who needs to be tucked in with an extra kiss and needs an extra prayer, just for them, whispered in their ear. I am learning who needs to be picked up where, who likes what for dinner, even what music everyone loves to hear.  My Inner circle has grown in number and obligations.  But it has grown even more in love, trust and confidence.  Whenever I doubt  my ability, I can hear that tender whisper of wisdom, and see those Circles.  So, I listen.  I regroup.  I move those heavy covers and return to my inner circle and begin again, to work my way out towards my other circles of responsibilities. I know that as I focus on my family, my inner most circle, that someday, I will be encircled in the arms of a loving Heavenly Father, who entrusted me with each of them.  Circles!