5 Things I Learned From Secondary Infertility

I had the great opportunity to share just a little bit about part of my infertility journey over at The Slice of Sun. Jenica Parcell also struggled with infertility and The Slice of Sun was born out of that struggle. The Slice of Sun is a website that you can purchase beautiful items and a portion of those items goes towards helping other couples cover the huge cost of IVF. To date she has helped 82 families by donating over $440,000!

What a great cause! I hope that you will head over to her beautiful website and check out all the good she is doing!

Yesterday my story was posted on her blog. Here is a little snippet of it.


Once upon a time, a young wife said to her husband: “Hey, I know I’m still in college, but I think we need to have a baby!” Not many months later, a beautiful baby girl was born. She was a delight. I was that young wife, and I graduated from BYU with a degree in Dietetics when this cute baby was three months old. After
graduation, I was blessed to stay home while my husband earned his MBA. As often happens though, I thought two kids would be better than one, so we began to try for another child. That first beautiful pregnancy test resulted in tears just one week later. Never in a million years, even after all my studying in college, did I think I would have a miscarriage — let alone ten. It just never occurred to me that that could happen to me.

This miscarriage was extremely traumatic to me — so much so, that I have no
memory besides my journal entry that this even happened. Each time I felt the prompting to have a child, my mind would be filled with anxiety. Surely if I felt prompted to have another child, I wouldn’t lose anymore, right? That just wouldn’t make sense. But time and again, loss was my story.

Before my third child, I lost one more. Then before my fourth child, I lost three.
Let me share just a little about the third one.

Thoughts overwhelmed my mind…Would I ever have another child? Why did I
keep losing babies? Was I such a bad mom that I wasn’t worthy of having
anymore children? Did I even know what personal revelation was? My heart was breaking over and over. We decided to try again though. I had never lost three in a row, so I told myself it would be fine….


To read the rest of my story and my 5 lessons head over to my story over at The Slice of Sun.

My journey has solidified this sentence so deeply in my heart…

Today there is a reason to hope.

I know it is true. There is hope all around. Somedays it is definitely harder to find, but it is there.

Hugs

Emma

PS This story has a happy ending! And here’s our updated family photo.

Here is my everthing! How eternally grateful I am that somehow six miracles made their way into our home.

Jesus Christ is Constant

It has been awhile since my last blog post. I have been doing a lot of thinking. A lot of scripture reading. A lot of pondering. Pondering Jesus Christ. Pondering His life. Pondering His mission.

And the overriding thought that keeps coming to my mind is this quote found in many places in the scriptures…

Jesus Christ is the same. He is constant in who He is. The Jesus Christ I worship today is the same being who said He would be the Savior of the world before any of us came to this Earth. He is the same being who was born to a faithful, virtuous mother in Bethlehem. He is the same being who brought the truth of the gospel of our Heavenly Father to all the world. He is the same being who healed so many people.

He is the same being that gave His life to save ours. Then He was resurrected in all glory. And we can have that blessing too, because of Him.

He is the same being who appeared to Joseph Smith with Heavenly Father to restore His same gospel to the earth once again. That church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He is the same. He doesn’t change Heavenly Father’s commandments to fit the changing trends of society. They are constant. There are commandments we must obey in order to return to live with our Father in Heaven. We can learn a lot from toddlers about this concept. My youngest is just about to turn 3. And I am often reminded about how the tantrum part of this phase of life isn’t one that I love. She can get so fixated on what she wants, not understanding that it isn’t in her best interest for me to give in to her rants. My perspective is better than hers at this point. And so is our Heavenly Father’s. His perspective is better than ours. Our job is to trust Him. Trust our Savior to lead us to our Heavenly Father. They know better than we do.

I want to suggest three things that help us remain on the path.

  1. Daily Scripture study
  2. Daily Prayer
  3. Asking God what He needs us to do each day

These are not new by any means as far as advice goes. But they are critical. If we don’t know what God’s commandments are, then we will be deceived by Satan. We must read the scriptures every. single. day. My ability to gain strength to make it through any challenge has dramatically improved as I have made this one of my most important daily tasks.

We must connect with our Father in Heaven. He is our best listener. So many of us can feel overwhelmed with the challenges life on Earth brings. We all agreed to come and face these challenges, but it was NEVER God’s intention we face them alone. Yet sometimes we choose to do so. I chose that path once. It was horrible. Satan had me convinced I was not worthy of praying. That I was such a let-down. And that I had made too many mistakes. But eventually I stopped listening to the voice of Satan, and instead listened to the voice of our loving Heavenly Father. Now, prayer is my life-line. I find myself constantly praying throughout the day. Not always just a formal prayer, but maintaining that conversation with the ONLY ONE who can help me. And we do that in the name of Jesus Christ. That is how we talk to our Father. The Savior carries our prayers. The Savior carries our burdens. The Savior carries our hopes, fears, dreams, questions. He is our life-line.

And lastly, allow yourself to be a tool in God’s hands. When we are serving others, our hearts are softened. We are gifted with a small glimpse of what His love really is. And that love will lift your burdens as you serve others. Serving others doesn’t have to be a big service project! It is as simple as a hug, a text, or a plate of cookies. We can totally do that.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/image/pictures-of-jesus-mary-martha-8344ebb?lang=eng&collectionId=3cbf78e787498a07417814a31656063f9227b4c6

I know that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the way home to our Father in Heaven. And it is worth all the hard work to make the small daily choices to stay on the path, because spending eternity with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is the greatest reward.

Have a wonderful weekend! You are loved. You are known. You can do hard things.

Today there is a reason to hope.

PS You might enjoy this recent article on God’s Plan of Happiness for each one of us.

PPS Just wanted to share a bit of life at my house…we sure love our 5 surprise baby bunnies! Meet snowball.:)

Pecan Pie Bars

I love pecan pie. I just seriously cannot make a from-scratch pie crust for the life of me though! It is on my bucket list however.

BUT…

These might be even better than pecan pie. It has everything you need in a sweet treat. A crisp crust, a delicious sweet filling, and the pecans on top crisped nicely from baking.

If you are a pecan lover, this recipe is for you!

Ingredients for Crust:

  • 1 C flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 6 TBSP butter, cold, cut into small chunks

Directions for Crust:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spray a 8×8 square baking pan with cooking spray
  • Place aluminum foil across two of the sides and the bottom of the pan allowing 2 inches past the top of the pan on those two sides. Lightly spray aluminum foil.
  • In a medium bowl, place flour, sugar, salt. Stir.
  • Add butter and cut into dry ingredients using a pastry cutter. Cut until they resemble coarse crumbs.
  • Gently pat mixture into prepared pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

While crust is cooking, prepare the filling.

Ingredients for filling:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 3/4 C DARK brown sugar, packed
  • 3 TBSP butter, melted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 1/2 C pecans, chopped

Directions for filling:

  • In a large bowl, whisk eggs until combined.
  • Add honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and sea salt.
  • Stir.
  • Add pecans and gently stir to combine.
  • When crust is done, gently pour into crust. Use a spatula to spread to corners.
  • Place back into oven and bake for 25-27 minutes or until filling is set.
  • Place pan on a cooling rack.
  • When cooled, gently remove the bar from the pan using the aluminum foil to help you. You might need to use a knife around the edges first, and a spatula to help ensure the edges aren’t sticking.
  • Cut up bars according to your desire.

**You may have noticed that I used “sea salt” in the filling and not in the crust. Sea salt lends itself to helping your natural flavors shine a bit more when making something sweet like this treat. Where as when making this crust, normal salt won’t overpower the flavor.

Have a great weekend! I am really excited because next week we are heading out of town! It’s been long overdue!

The Liberty of Opportunity

This week I received an email in my in-box from my dear friend’s son who is serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He first served in Africa and now is serving in Indiana. He entitled his email, “The Liberty of Opportunity”. I was so incredible touched by his perspective and insight that I asked if I could share his words here on this blog. Thankfully, he agreed. I truly hope this will touch your hearts and help us choose to use our opportunity to reach out in love to all around us.


This Saturday is the 4th of July,and we celebrate yet another year of our existence as a nation. For me, the 4th of July celebration was always fun growing up. It was the fireworks, the fairs, the candy, the parades, yet as a young person I still caught a little piece of the deeper reason for celebration. Yes it was fun, but it was about more than fun, it was about liberty, freedom, peace, and prosperity. All these things that I had enjoyed growing up and had not realized truly how out of the ordinary these blessings are.

It wasn’t until I went to Africa for about 18 months that the full import of these blessings became apparent to me. The moment that comes first to my mind is the 4th of July that I spent in Yaounde, Cameroun. The few Americans there got together and we sang the national anthem, we listened to “I’m proud to be an American” and I realized perhaps for the first time in my life that being an American blessed with freedom is not a default setting when you’re born. It’s not something everyone enjoys, even within our own country.

There are many many differences in culture, political process, and government between the United States and Cameroun, but I don’t really feel that most of those are very important. I think that there is one blessing that we have been given as citizens of the United States that is most important and that is the liberty of opportunity. In the US we have so many opportunities surrounding us, we have so many in fact that we could reasonably say that the hardest thing is deciding which opportunities to choose.
These opportunities are a great blessing we’ve been given. They are gifts, free of charge and undeserved, given to us by God at birth. We have a responsibility though, to those who have received much, much is required. There are many in the world who have not received the same opportunities as we have. There are even those among us in our nation who do not have the same opportunities. It is human nature that when we have been given much we begin to believe ourselves to be better or more deserving, sometimes we decide that God gave it to us, if he wanted them to have it why didn’t he just give it to them in the first place?

If there is one thing that I have learned while on my mission it is that charity faileth not, because I have been given much I too must give. The hard part is knowing what to give, when to give, how to give. For this we look to our exemplar, Jesus Christ. He is the perfect example of charity and kindness. The perfect example of someone who had been given much, but who was able to give even more. 

At this particular time we are witnessing a great and terrible ploy of the adversary tear our country into pieces. We are watching as every bit of life is painted black and white, blue and red. I have spent a lot of time asking myself what is to be done. How can I be of most help. This was my answer, to give. To have charity. 

It seems as if at this time in our nation’s history it is impossible to open your mouth without raising conflict, without saying one thing or another that offends someone. In this I think of Christ and his response to the interrogations of Pontius Pilate and Herod. It seems as if we can do little to stop the flow of hatred, to remove the fog that is blinding the eyes to the clever stratège of Satan. What we can do is reach out, with care and kindness, and brighten just one corner of the earth each day. 

In this time when it seems as though all may be lost, when there isn’t a little good in the world remember, Christ has overcome the world. Remember, you have been chosen to have the knowledge of this gospel, and with the opportunities that allow you to share it. I heard once that it only takes a maximum of seven connecting friends to connect one person with any other person in the world, so if you find yourself wondering, as I do, how to help because you don’t know where to start or who needs help, have confidence and start with your friends. Within seven connections you will have reached whoever needs it most.

This is the great work of the gathering of Israel, to separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares. Do not be afraid to lift up your voice, to let your light shine out. We have been blessed with the gospel of Jesus Christ, with that blessing comes also the responsibility to share that opportunity with all who will hear. I will be the first to say that in our current circumstances this is not easy, in fact I think that this may just be one of the most difficult times in history to share the gospel. I also know that it is possible, we can have an impact and help others to change their lives for the better. I hope that those who read this email realize that I’m really not perfect at this, I’m just good at expressing ideal ideas with words. I hope that my little bit of idealism can be a motivation to you, that it may help you to discover for yourself what it is you feel you need to do. 

Love Elder Atkinson


Let’s ponder on seven. Seven friends. Seven connections. What can we accomplish to further spread God’s love to those seven? There are those waiting to feel God’s love more fully about them. Let’s “reach out with care and kindness”. We can be part of Christ’s great work to gather all in him. We have been blessed with so much.

Happy 4th of July tomorrow. Freedom of choice is a great blessing. I hope I can use this gift with more thought.

Today there is a reason to hope.

Your Personal Search for Happiness

President Henry B. Erying started his conference talk in October 2019 saying, “I have prayed for the power to help you in your personal search for happiness.” How amazing is that? We received a talk from him that day that will help guide us in our personal search for happiness!

As I read his talk this past week, my heart was just filled with hope! I have been writing about the plan of salvation throughout the month of June, so this talk just topped it off nicely!

Elder Erying talks about Alma, the Elder, teaching his son Alma that “increasing in holiness was the ONLY path to happiness.”

So how do we increase in holiness? We must do what is needed.

He tells us how. We must use the atonement of Jesus Christ through the following:

  • Having faith in Jesus Christ
  • Applying continual repentance
  • Keeping our covenants

Then we can “claim the lasting happiness we all yearn to experience and retain”.

There is so much sorrow, fear, despondency, anger, frustration, misunderstanding in our world. Wouldn’t it be nice to have more happiness? More peace? More joy? It possible as we strive to be more disciplined in our daily efforts to follow Jesus Christ– to increase in holiness.

Elder Eyring didn’t say have faith like your neighbor, repent like your mom, or keep someone else’s covenants. This is a PERSONAL quest for happiness, peace, and joy. This is a conversation between each of us and God. Just as each flower is different, each of us is different. Our weakness are complimented by others strengths. I can say with confidence– He is so very patient with our efforts to do the best we can. You are doing the best you can in each moment.

In my recent blog post, How to Gain an Unbreakable Faith in Christ, we begin to change with tiny habits. If you are struggling with your faith, just start with reading the Book of Mormon for one minute a day. You can do this! It will make a huge difference over time…and over time one minute will become many minutes. Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve really talked to Heavenly Father about how you’re doing keeping the commandments. Maybe you’re feeling nervous that you won’t be heard or feel loved. Those thoughts right there are Satan. He will try and stop you from praying with everything he’s got. Do you know why? Because he knows Heavenly Father will pour out His love to you! He will guide you! He will help you feel confident that you are a Child of God. He will tell you that He believes in you.

I went for a good amount of time as a young mom without praying daily. My anxiety, OCD, perfectionism thoughts held me captive in the thought that I was screwing up so much every day as a wife and mother that Heavenly Father was sick of hearing me saying “I’ll do better tomorrow”. I thought perhaps by not praying, I was able to avoid discussing my failings.

Avoidance is a reaction that people with anxiety employ a lot. We avoid things that worry us, make us nervous, things we don’t understand, dealing with our mistakes, etc. This behavior didn’t help me feel peace or happiness. Only more anxious.

Sometimes changing feels totally overwhelming and we just stop. It’s hard. We must remember that we don’t walk the path to change alone– only if we choose to. Jesus will help us if we desire Him to do so. And there are so many who testify of this, like Nephi. He said, “For the Lord God will help me”. He helped Nephi all along the way. Was Nephi’s life easy and carefree? Not even close. We must draw strength from President Nelson’s beautiful promise…

President Nelson said recently, “What will happen as you more intentionally hear, hearken, and heed what the Savior has said and what He is saying now through His prophets? I promise that you will be blessed with additional power to deal with temptation, struggles, and weakness. I promise miracles in your marriage, family relationships, and daily work. And I promise that your capacity to feel joy will increase even if turbulence increases in your life.”

President Eyring tells us that greater happiness comes from greater personal holiness and that we must act on that belief.

Just like little children, rewards seem to greatly increase their desire to finish chores, to learn how to use the potty, to finish their homework. I like rewards still as an adult. The Savior’s prophet and apostles have listed AMAZING rewards. Let’s focus on those when it seems hard to follow through on increasing our Faith in Christ, consistent repentance, and keeping our covenants. Let Heavenly Father’s voice remind you how much He loves you. Hone in on that voice. Block out all the others.

And watch the joy, happiness, and peace increase even amidst turbulence. Elder Erying talks about Job as an example of this. He said, “Then Job lost his wealth, his family, and even his health. You might remember that Job doubted that his greater holiness, gained through greater adversity, had qualified him for greater happiness. It seemed to Job that greater holiness had brought misery….Yet the Lord gave Job the same correcting lesson as Joseph Smith{when he was imprisoned}. He let Job see his heartbreaking situation with spiritual eyes.”

Taking time to pause from all the hustle and bustle of our day to let our spiritual eyes open, can bring the understanding, strength, and peace we need to keep going, even if only for that day. There were many, many days, when I was mourning the loss of yet another baby that it was so hard to keep being wife, mom, fulfilling my calling, etc. I had no other way to make it daily except to rely on my Heavenly Father to provide that strength. And He often did that through the kindness of others.

This blog post is longer than I originally intended. I hope that you made it through! I guess what I really want say is that it’s worth the effort. And as we take tiny steps, we will increase in holiness. We will see with our spiritual eyes the miracles in our life that God provides as we keep our covenants and promises to Him. We will gain happiness and retain it. Don’t give up. Don’t listen to the voices calling you away from God. True happiness is only found by staying on the path God has set forth.

Today there is a reason to hope.

How to Gain an Unbreakable Faith in Christ

You know the end of the Book of Mormon when Moroni is all alone?

And he says…

“And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life.”

He gives this statement after mentioning that the Lamenites are putting everyone to death who will not deny the Christ. I love how firm he says “I will not deny the Christ”. I can just imagine him. A strong, seasoned soldier. A prophet of God. The son of Moroni. Yet he is also extremely lonely. He has just witnessed his whole people, including his father, destroyed. His mortal life is HARD.

But no matter what challenges came, his testimony of Christ was UNBREAKABLE.

How can we gain an unbreakable testimony of Christ like Moroni?

It’s the little things that matter most. It’s our daily choices. Choosing every day who we belong to. Who we will follow. Who we will draw our strength from.

I love to listen to beautiful music that is centered in Christ when I am feeling overwhelmed with what challenges are all around. In Christ Alone is my current favorite song. I play it loud. Sing it loud. And feel lifted up.

Because in Christ alone, hope is found. No earthly thing or person can bring our soul the hope and peace it seeks. We must choose daily to seek Christ.

There is peace in staying firmly rooted in the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For me, my religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, provides the path for me to be rooted in Christ. Firm in my knowledge of how to return to my Father in Heaven. Living prophets give guidance and reminders of how we come to Christ.

I am good a scraping my knees because I fall down on that path back to my Father. But I get back up. I stay on the path.

Studying the Book of Mormon more diligently and deeply this past 18 months has literally changed me. I find daily hope as I read the words of Christ written by his prophets of old. Reading the words of modern day prophets and apostles lifts me equally. If you are struggling with your faith, this is where I would start. Read the Book of Mormon every day. Even if it’s only one verse. Get that habit going. And then watch it build. Watch your hope build. Satan will start trying extra hard to throw things at you. But remain strong like Moroni.

I recently listened to a podcast interview of the author of Tiny Habits on 3in30. He talks about anchoring the habit we desire to something we are already doing in our daily routine. For me, I struggled for years and years and years to be consistent in my morning prayers. It’s hard when you have little kids that are your alarm clock and wake you up. But a few years ago, unbeknownst to me, I followed this guy’s advice. I anchored my prayer to going to the bathroom. Every morning after I go to the bathroom and wash my hands, of course, I immediately kneel down and pray. Every morning I need to go to the bathroom. And now every morning, I pray. I have added other things to this routine, like reading scriptures, journaling, creating, pondering. Sometimes this takes 60 minutes. Sometimes it takes 10. But I always take this time in the morning.

It’s all about choices and what we desire most.

And like Moroni, we can have faith that when we reach the end of our lives we can say like him, “I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead.”

Paradise of God sounds like a great place to be for all eternity. Let’s stand strong together. Let’s read daily in the Book of Mormon, look to our living prophets to guide us, and pray and connect with Heavenly Father each day. It’s the simple, daily actions that lead to an unbreakable faith.

Today there is a reason to hope.

PS picture of Christ credit: Christ Visits the New World, by Walter Rane

Who You Really Are

One of the greatest daily battles I fight is to remind myself who I am. To not let the voices of dark and doubt overshadow the voices of LIGHT and TRUTH.

Today I wanted to share some powerful quotes by President Spencer W. Kimball, who was prophet for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was a young girl. I have a special fondness for President Kimball. He was a great man. My father is also a great man. My dad would get cassette tapes (if you don’t know what these are…google it! ha-ha) of President Kimball’s talks in church. He would listen to them in the car. President Kimball had to have surgery on his vocal chords or something like that–I can’t remember the exact reason–and because of that he had a raspy voice for the rest of his life.

It wasn’t a beautiful voice to listen to, but it was a voice bearing powerful testimony of truth that filled my little heart with the Spirit. I loved listening to his words. And I loved that I was able to listen to his words with my dad. My dad set a great example to me of whose voice I should listen to. Not the many voices clamoring for my attention, but the voice of God speaking through his prophet.

So today, I wanted to share some of the prophet’s words. They are words that I hope will help you as a woman to remember who you really are. And I totally believe that these apply to men too. Men are Sons of God. God loves us equally. One is NOT more important than the other. Just as one color of skin is NOT more important than the other. We are all equal before God. He made us. And I believe he made us all beautifully. We are His creations.

This quote is from Chapter 20: The Women of the Church in the book Teachings of the Presidents Spencer W. Kimball

This quote is powerful. Memorize it. Use it in those moments when you are surrounded with doubts. You are a woman of God.


President Kimball continues:

“No greater status can be conferred upon you than being a daughter of God…All of you need to drink in deeply the gospel truths about your eternal nature of your individual identity and the uniqueness of your personality. You need, more and more, to feel the perfect love which our Father in Heaven has for you and to sense the value he places upon you as an individual. Ponder upon these truths, especially in those moments, (in the stillness of such anxiety as you may experience as an individual) you might otherwise wonder and be perplexed….

There is no greater and more glorious set of promises given to women than those which come through the gospel and The Church of Jesus Christ.

Where else can you learn who you really are?

Where else can you be given the necessary explanations and assurances about the nature of life?

From what other source can you learn about your own uniqueness and identity?

From whom else could you learn of our Father in Heaven’s glorious plan of happiness?”


In my recent post 3 Ways to Strengthen Your Roots of Faith I share a few links to learn about the Plan of Happiness. And if you are not familiar with the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can learn more about them here .

Hearing that we are women and daughters of God is one thing. The next step is to let it sink into our hearts, become part of our whole soul. It is something that I am constantly working on–ask my husband.

Seeking gospel truth, studying Christ’s words in the scriptures, and listening to the words of our modern-day prophets will help us sink this truth that we are women and daughters of God into our hearts. We are women and daughters of God. It is truth. And we have a great work to do. We cannot accomplish our INDIVIDUAL work until we get a firm knowledge of this truth. And when we do, truly I believe that angels will be sent to help us accomplish that mission.

Today there is a reason to hope.

PS This is a picture of my amazing parents! They both have taught me whose voice to listen to. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

PPS I am truly thankful God has blessed me with those six children in my main photo of this post. One blessing of being a mother is seeing the unique gifts each child has, and helping them see those gifts too.

3 Ways to Strengthen Your Roots of Faith

Have you ever thought of how it must feel to be a little seed trying to sprout, pushing up through the ground, trying with all it’s might to fulfill it’s purpose? I am sure that it is HARD! That it is painful. That it is exhausting.

I feel like that sometimes as I am trying to grow and become a better person.

I feel the weight of my failings pushing against me like the dirt does to the plant. The wind whispers of “not good enough” surround me. The beating of the sun when I’m tender and taking those first steps to change.

How does that seed make it?

It works on it’s roots.

Sending roots deep and wide provide the strength for the plant above. So what can I do, and what can you do to send roots deeper and wider?

Let me suggest three things that I learned from a talk by Elder Richard G. Scott, How to Live Well Amid Increasing Evil . I always loved watching Elder Scott speak. He just had this amazing way of looking right through the camera into your heart. I miss watching and hearing him speak.

  1. Study the Plan of Happiness
  2. Combine Faith with Consistent Obedience
  3. Seek and be Attentive to the Holy Ghost

Elder Scott speaks a lot about the evils that surround us in this world. My sins/failings/struggles may not be those he specifically mentioned, but I struggle none the less in other ways. Struggles are struggles. And they are necessary for growth. And there is one who does NOT want us to succeed and grow…and that being is Satan. He wants us to not even make it even to the surface, let alone grow into a beautiful strong plant. But we must prevail. And we must share our knowledge and light wherever our journey takes us.

Elder Scott said that when Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove, “They began to place on earth again that plan of happiness and all required to sustain it.” That last phrase really struck me. Heavenly Father has provided all that is required for us to achieve happiness in this life and in the life to come. As we study that plan more in depth, I believe the strength to press forward will come.

Here are a few good sources of info about The Plan of Happiness:

Elder Scott said, “Your struggles are defining character, discipline, and confidence in the promises of your Father in Heaven and the Savior as you consistently obey Their commandments.” We are meant to struggle. I wish that wasn’t so sometimes. I just want to be better right now! I want my ability to conquer my faults to happen much faster. But it’s in the struggle that we achieve the growth necessary. It’s in the struggle of the plant that make it able to stand up to the wind, rain, sun, and storms. And one of the blessings of the struggle is confidence that God’s promises will be fulfilled.

Another thought is that we also need to pair gratitude and grace with our consistent obedience. Keep trying and be grateful for the journey, but also giving yourself grace when you slip up. For me, that is what I want to focus on. Not being frustrated at my lack of “faster progress”, but happy with my “slow and steady progress”. And then to give grace not only to myself, but those around me, especially my family. I admit, that is one of my failings. For example, I often find myself expecting my husband to be perfect, even when I am not. And that is 100% not fair. And it causes strife. And that means I am acting like the awful plant– morning glory. It’s tentacles reach out to nearby plants and hurt them. Why do we often hurt those closest to us?

I know that change starts with me. And I know that as I seek to better myself, I learn even more from my Father in Heaven about loving others, and about making relationships strong. { Mark, I hope that you’ll stick with me — little did you know you married a turtle.}



And last, Elder Scott said, “Seek and be attentive to the personal guidance given to you through the Holy Spirit. Continue to be worthy to receive it. Reach out to others who stumble and are perplexed, not certain of what path to follow.” I think that when we learn the lessons we need to by seeking and following the Holy Ghost, the next important thing is to share what we learn.

Sometimes sharing is hard. I know for me, that’s when those wind whispers of “not good enough” start to blow stronger. “Who am I to share?” “What good would it do anyway?” “Everyone already knows all that stuff.” “You are so imperfect-like you can give advice!”

But I feel a great pull to add my one small voice to the millions of other small voices that are all sharing truth. The truth that God lives. His Son, Jesus Christ, lived and died for me, then lived again. They have a plan, The Plan of Happiness. And when we follow it, we will be given strength. The strength we need to send our roots down deep and wide. So that when the wind, sun, rain and storms come, we will be found standing tall in full blossom when Jesus returns.

PS I absolutely LOVE sunflowers!! I grow them every year.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. May you be filled with hope to keep trying. Don’t give up. Those roots will strengthen as we keep pressing forward. Join me in 58 years when I’m 100, because that is how long I’m going to need.

Today there is a reason to Hope.

Blessed in Abundance

Earlier this week on Instagram I shared this scripture and thought:

Nephi’s family made it to the promised land. They explored. The planted ALL their seeds- because that’s what they were commanded to do. They did something that made them exercise faith! They didn’t save a few seeds in case the first ones failed.

They planted ALL THE SEEDS.

And their faith was rewarded with ABUNDANCE.

When we exercise our faith…all we can muster…in aligning our will God’s, and then use our spiritual gifts to fulfill that will, then we will be blessed with ABUNDANCE.

I 100% believe that.

In this YouTube video, I share a miracle that our family recently experienced.

I hope that as we go forward, we can ask ourselves…

Have I planted all my seeds?

Am I exercising faith, and watching for the miracles to come?

Am I using the gifts God gave me to lift and help others?

I know that miracles are real. They happen every day. But often they require our faith before they are seen. Let’s increase our faith and do things that require faith.

Today there is a reason to hope.

Homemade Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies

These cookies are my most requested birthday treat! They are so incredibly good. They are hard to resist, so it’s good that they are kept in the freezer…out-of-sight slightly helps me to keep them out of my mind that they are in the house!

I created this recipe when my son, Taylor, was experiencing food sensitivities. And boy am I glad I did! This recipe is made without egg or soy. You could totally make them with both, but my recipe is without. They are a bit time-consuming, but TOTALLY worth it!

Monkey likes cookies too!

Ingredients for Wafers:

2 C Sugar

2 C flour

3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1 TBSP ground flaxseed + 2 TBSP water–let stand 2-4 minutes to thicken OR 1 egg

4 TBSP butter, melted OR 4 TBSP shortening, melted- this gives you a crispier wafer

2/3- 3/4 C water, divided–you carefully add water just until the dough comes together

Coating ingredients for Wafers:

3- 3 1/2 (12 oz) bags of Guittard milk chocolate chips–seriously the ONLY kind I’ll use

4 TBSP butter, cut into chunks —here is where shortening(soy) would help if you use that–it makes coating the cookies much quicker and easier, but we still do the butter anyway.

3/4 tsp McCormick PEPPERMINT extract

Directions to make Wafer:

Place dry ingredients in bosch mixer(this is what I have so it might be slightly different with another mixer). Pulse several times to mix well.

Add the flaxseed/water combo, melted butter, and 1/2 cup of the water.  Turn bosch mixer on speed one.  While it is mixing slowly add only enough water to form the dough!  You may need more or less.  I always pause once in the middle of adding the water to scrape down the center and sides.  You don’t want to add too much water.  You will know when you’ve added enough because the dough comes together and scrapes the sides of the Bosch bowl clean.

Place dough into a bowl, cover it and place in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets with butter.  Grease really well! Set aside.

Then roll out dough onto parchment paper that has been lightly floured. Roll out dough and cut circles out using a 1 1/2-2″ circle cookie cutter or biscuit cutter.

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 Place circles on greased cookie sheet.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes(I cook two sheets at once and switch their place in the oven at 5 minutes).

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Let cool on sheet for 2-5 minutes( I usually do at least 4-5 minutes).  Then cool on wire racks. When all dough has been baked, wash and dry the cookie sheets.  Then line with parchment paper.

Directions to make the Coating:

In a large microwave safe bowl, warm the chocolate chips for 2 minutes in the microwave. Stir really well.

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Add chunks of butter and peppermint extract and microwave for 30-45 more seconds. This can get somewhat thick, so using a knife to stir seems to help.

**Be careful to NOT over microwave your chocolate.:) Burnt chocolate chips is a terrible smell.

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Using a knife, spread the coating on both sides of the cookie.  These cookies are soft, so this is a bit of a careful undertaking.  I frost the bottom of the cookie first, then place it on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Then put some of the coating on the top and sides and spread around until the cookie is covered. This is messy, but OH SO WORTH IT!  When you have filled your cookie sheet, place cookies in freezer for 10-15 minutes. When the coating is solid, take off cookie sheet and put them in a freezer safe bag or well sealed container.

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If the coating cools to much, place back in microwave for 10 seconds and stir again. I usually warm it back up in between switching a done cookie sheet out for a new one in the freezer.

If you don’t have time to do both sides of the cookie, just frost the top.  They are still good! 

Store them in the freezer! Then just let them sit a few minutes before eating–if you can handle it! Or pop them in the microwave for just a few seconds.

This recipe makes just enough coating, so if you discover that you’ve been putting too much coating on and are running low, then switch to only frosting the top or make another small batch of the coating-I do this sometimes when I haven’t gauged correctly. This recipe makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Then comes the hard part…summoning the will power to not eat them all before your family gets home!  I always, always eat one, OR maybe two, before they come home…They never know!  Well, now they might.  Before serving, take out of the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

Life is better with chocolate…especially these cookies.

**Now if you CAN eat eggs and soy, then it does make a much easier for the coating part to use shortening.  I still prefer to use flaxseed instead of eggs in the wafer, but you would use 1 egg instead of ground flaxseed. I recommend using shortening instead of butter too with eggs for the wafer. This does make the wafers crispier too. The coating is smoother with shortening- so you could actually dip your cookie in the coating instead of spreading it on with a knife. I still do egg and soy free, but it’s more work. 😊

**If you only have time to frost the top, use the extra frosting later to dip pretzels in.  It’s SO GOOD!

And as always, Today there is a reason to hope! Especially if you are making these!