Chicken Enchilada Soup

What’s for dinner you ask?

Soup my friends!

This is my husbands new FAVORITE soup! Seriously guys, this soup is SO GOOD! You are going to want to try it! And even with our current Covid-19 pandemic, you can probably find these ingredients on shelves…I haven’t seen anyone with a cart-full of zucchini, green peppers, and cilantro.

But seriously, this soup is so good! Now as a mom, you can’t beat that! I hope that you’ll give this a try and send me some feedback about how it goes! This is just my little way of sharing goodness when we are all staying home. I love to cook. I love to make good food. So this is me sending my love to you via this yummy recipe.


  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 C bell pepper, I usually use green
  • 1/2 zucchini, chopped
  • 2-3 oz green chilies, canned
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 15 oz red enchilada sauce
  • 3 14.5 oz cans chicken broth {or equivalent homemade stock}
  • 1 can black beans
  • 4 oz 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2-3 C shredded chicken
  • 1 C shredded cheese {I used Cheddar, or a mix blend of Cheddar/Monterey Jack, both work great!}
  • 1/4 C cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3/4 C sour cream


  • In a large stock pot over medium heat, warm oil. Add onion, bell pepper, zucchini, green chilies, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir together, and let saute for 5-7 minutes or until veggies are softened.
  • Add garlic and stir 20-30 seconds.
  • Add enchilada sauce, chicken broth/stock, and black beans. Bring to a boil.
  • Stir in cream cheese and return to a boil. {The cream cheese will not completely blend}
  • Add chopped cilantro OR just throw in a handful like I did.
  • Blend soup. If using an immersion blender, follow directions{ I don’t have one or I would give specifics}. If using a regular blender, blend in small batches–don’t fill more than 1/3 full!! This soup is really hot! It flows up when you turn on your blender, so you will need a rag to hold over the hole in the top of your blender. Once a batch is blended, pour into a large bowl, and repeat. Then once all the soup is blended, return to pot.
  • Stir in chicken, cheese, lime juice, and sour cream over medium heat.
  • The soup should still be fairly hot, but you might need to heat it up just for a few minutes.

Enjoy with fresh bread and tortilla chips. I also think this would be amazing with extra cilantro and guacamole…but my picky eaters prefer their veggies blended up.:)

Download these recipes

And as always…

Today there is a reason to hope.

God Does Provide

What an amazing month March has been! Our world is experiencing something that hasn’t happened before in the way it is happening now. All of us moms are learning how to home school our children, some of us are experiencing financial stress like never before, and we are separated from family and friends.

For me, this experience hasn’t actually been all that hard so far. I like being home. I like having my kids around all the time. My kids teachers have been amazing and made school at home super do-able. The company my husband works for is tiny, so they have been able to continue working. We are all healthy. Our extended family is safe.

BUT, I know there are many, many people suffering and going through some of the hardest days of their lives.

I have been feeling like I should share the experience of having to depend on the generosity of the church I belong to, to feed my family. I pray this will help someone.

About 2 1/2 years ago, my husband walked through the kitchen door early one Friday afternoon. I was doing dishes with a screaming 7 week old snuggled into my wrap(she had SEVERE colic and reflux–she cried all day and night). I turned to my husband and said, Did you get fired?– half joking, but also worried because his boss was acting weird lately. He said, yes, he was fired. He was being replaced with someone cheaper.

So there we stood in the kitchen, holding each other and crying. This was a few days before Halloween in 2017. We let this news sink in. We now had six kids…Christmas was around the corner…now we would have no insurance…had we prepared enough?

We knew we wanted to be calm for our kids. So later we sat down and figured out our money-thanks to the inspiration 1 1/2 years earlier to get on a strict budget- we were able to quickly see what bills we had, what we could eliminate from the budget, and if we could afford Christmas. With the help of many surprises on our doorstep…Christmas did come!

Christmas did come!

One way we were going to make our cash stretch-because who knew how long it would take to get another job– was to depend on our church to help feed our family.

I still very strongly remember that in order to get help from my church, I would need to meet with my Relief Society president. I was actually terrified! What was she going to ask? Was she going to look at my food storage and tell me how much food I could have? What food was there even at the Bishop’s storehouse {a church grocery store for those in need}? Would my kids even eat it? Would I be wasting the Lord’s money? Did we really deserve this help?

So many thoughts.

But she came to my home, my baby was of course crying, but it was a beautiful experience. She made me feel totally at peace. She didn’t inspect my food storage, but instead, she asked me how I was doing– was I ok spiritually, mentally, emotionally? She asked how she could help. Then she guided me in how to get food for my family. She helped me know how much meat, veggies, etc that a family my size would expect to need in a two week period. Then she offered to come with me my first time to the Bishop’s storehouse. Oh how I was so grateful for that! This experience opened my eyes to some of the heavy burden a relief society president carries.

Going to the storehouse was an ordeal. Going in the car was difficult for my baby, she constantly choked and spit up because the car seat leans her back. She often would cry the entire 20 minute drive to the storehouse and back. So, I was already emotional when I got there because of my crying baby, being worried about how long we would go through this, and wondering about being judged by how I looked. After all, when I arrived in the parking lot, my suburban, although not new by any means, definitely looked nicer than most of the cars. I looked at my clothes, I certainly didn’t look like I needed any help. Would the volunteers look at me like I didn’t deserve this help?

Once again…so many thoughts.

But as my relief society president met me, we walked in together. And then, I saw that one of my daughter’s friend’s moms was a volunteer. My first instinct was embarrassment. What would she think of me? But that quickly went away, as she and a couple of cute elderly volunteers showed nothing but love and kindness. They oohed and awed over my tiny baby. They showed no sign of judgement at all. Only love. This storehouse also had beautiful pictures of Christ serving, which made me feel peace.

As I went around looking at all the beautiful produce, meat, milk {even CHOCOLATE milk}, cheese, BYU ICE CREAM, canned fruits and veggies…It was hard not to be overcome to tears. As I loaded the groceries in my car, I was just in awe of how God provides.

God had put into place a way that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could easily donate tithes and offerings. That money literally fed my family. That money literally made the difference in my family making it until my husband got a new job seven months later. That money, turned into food, provided the peace I needed. As a mother, I can’t think of anything worse than saying to my kids, I’m sorry there is no food today.

But mothers all around this world do have to say that to their kids.

We have the ability to help people. We can all pay our tithes and offerings. We can support local food pantry’s. We can do a lot of good and still stay home. For those of us who are able, I hope that we can look for ways to help lift hearts that hang down and are weary, worried, and scared.

God does provide. But he also needs helpers. And as we become His helpers, our hearts are changed–Changed into hearts like our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today there is a reason to hope.

Let’s share that hope.

Trusting God Daily

As I was pondering what to share today, I was checking my email. There was an email from BYU speeches with the link to not only a speech, but this amazing video from Elder D. Todd Christofferson sharing a personal challenge, and animated by a student at BYU, Erin M. Ladd. It made me cry. It was meant just for me. And maybe…it was meant just for you.

You see, for the past two years, we have barely been surviving…feeding, clothing, taking care of medical needs, developing talents of six kids, sending a kid to college, paying for two teen drivers–you know the drill– unfortunately takes money. And not knowing until sometimes the day before pay day if there will be a pay day is a bit stressful. I do NOT want to seem ungrateful…we have been able to provide a great life for our kids these past two years, and I know that we are blessed beyond many people in this world’s imaginations. But it has been HARD. I like to plan. I like to have a budget down to the penny…thank you Dave Ramsey! So not being able to plan ahead for birthdays, holidays, vacations, whether you can buy any groceries the next day has taken a toll.

In this video, Elder Christofferson, pretty much shares what we have been going through. I felt so uplifted as I watched. I felt connected to someone who I don’t “know”, but yet I feel like we could be great friends. And I felt strengthened as he shared how his faith in Heavenly Father and prayer were strengthened.

I hope you will enjoy this video. I hope that you will know you are not alone in your challenges. Learning what God wants us to learn can be HARD, but we can climb those mountains.

Today there is a reason to hope.

Egg Free Banana Bread

With all the crazy of being home-bound, I thought it might be helpful to share my favorite banana bread recipe! And the bonus is that you don’t need eggs! Flaxseed is a wonderful egg substitute in this recipe. In fact, we prefer the texture the flaxseed brings instead of the egg. My kids love this recipe, and not to brag, but it gets rave reviews by anyone who tries them.


1 C sugar
1 C Brown sugar
2/3 C butter, softened
2 TBSP ground flaxseed + 5 TBSP water (mix & let stand 3-4 minutes) OR 2 eggs
4 large ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 tsp vanilla
6 TBSP sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
4 C flour

sugar for sprinkling on the tops

I like to use the disposable aluminum mini loaf pans when I’m making loaves.  I find my loaves always turn out just the way I want them (I just wash the pans and reuse them). Grease the pans with butter and then flour them lightly. But my favorite way to make this recipe is to make muffins. They are portable, and don’t take as long to bake.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream both sugars and butter with cookie dough paddle in Bosch or with a hand mixer.


Then add flaxseed/water combo {OR eggs}, bananas, sour cream, and vanilla.  Mix until incorporated, but do not over-mix.


Next add salt, baking soda, baking powder, and flour.  Mix again being careful not to over-mix (this causes tunneling in the bread).

Pour batter into prepared pans, about 2/3 full or cupcake liners using a large pampered chef scoop(or any large scoop).  Sprinkle tops lightly with sugar.

I don’t have a picture of filling cupcakes, but I fill them using a pampered chef large scoop. It’s just the right amount.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35-37 minutes for mini loaf pans.  If using eggs, add about 5 minutes to cook time.

Cook time for muffin liners is around 20 minutes. Just watch for lightly browned. Don’t over-bake or the bottoms might become too browned.

Remove loafs or muffins immediately from pans and let cool on a wire cooling rack.

This yields about 6-7 mini loaf’s.  Or about 2- 2 1/2 dozen muffins

This recipe gives a good crunchy top.  I love banana bread that’s crunchy on the top and perfectly soft and moist on the inside.  It’s SO good!  Happy Baking!

And as always…Today there is a reason to hope.

PS This is the flaxseed I like…and I bet it’s still on the shelf.;)

I usually buy it at Costco

PSS As with baking any product, elevation and humidity affect your baking. I am located in Utah, so I have a higher elevation and low humidity.

6 Lessons I Learned From My Father’s Birth

Today, as I continue my theme for this month, Love of God, I want to share the story of my father’s birth. I shared this initially almost two years ago on my previous blog. But this is a story worth re-sharing. The strength of my grandmother amazes me every time I read this story. My father is one of my hero’s. He shows the Love of God abundantly as he serves his family, in church, and in his community. He’s taught me to never give up, and to trust God with all my struggles.

My father’s birth is amazing and a miracle.  He was born in the winter of 1951.  He was born six weeks early.  At that time in our country, there wasn’t much knowledge yet about how to help these tiny little babies survive.  According to A CDC study on infant mortality at that time for a male baby with my father’s gestational period and birth weight, the infant mortality rate was around 92.7.  Not good odds.

I hope you will enjoy reading about my father’s birth in his own words.

“I would like to relate the circumstances surrounding my birth.  My mother has related this to me a number of times throughout my life and even though I do not remember my birth, because the miracle of it, it has brought to me a deep feeling that my Father in Heaven did watch over me, preserved my life and the life of my mother.

I should have died at birth but I did not, and only though the faith and prayers of my mother, my father, my brothers and sister, and by the power of the priesthood am I alive today.  I was born November 20, 1951 in Ogden, Utah in the Dee Memorial Hospital located on 24th street and Harrison Blvd.  I was born six weeks premature.

My mother relates that she was home doing things around the house.  My father was a salesman at the time and he was out of town.  My mother bent down and lifted something and all of a sudden she started to hemorrhage.  My mother did not have a car to drive.  She called a taxi.  She prayed that the taxi driver would be a woman driver.  In those days there were not very many women that worked and usually they were the taxi drivers.  The taxi pulled up to the house in the driveway.  The driver of the taxi got out and it was a woman.  She told the taxi driver what was wrong, and told her to take her to the hospital.  My mother told the taxi driver that she only had ten cents but that her husband would pay her later.  My mother lived only a few blocks from the hospital.  My mother was self-conscious, so she told the taxi driver to go around to the back of the hospital to let her out instead of going to the emergency room entrance.

As my mother was walking into the hospital several nurses were coming out.  They recognized what was going on and took her immediately to the elevator and up to the operating room.  My mother said they started taking off her clothes as she was riding up in the elevator.  The hospital called my mother’s doctors.  In order to save the life of my mother and my own life, the doctors had to take the baby by c-section.  My mother asked the doctor to give her a blessing since my father was not there and could not be contacted at the time.

The doctors delivered me and stopped the bleeding of my mother.  I had a very difficult time breathing.  I weighed 4 lbs 11 oz.  My entire chest cavity would collapse when I breathed.  I was put in an iron lung machine to help me breathe.  In those days, they did not have all the advances in medicine we have today to help small children that had problems at birth.  I was in critical condition.  The doctors told my mother and my father that I would not live.  They told my father to give me a name and blessing in the hospital because the doctors did not think I would survive.  My father refused to do so.  He and my mother felt I would live.

I remained in the hospital for about 11 days while my mother went home without me.  She told me that it was very difficult for her to leave the hospital without me since a year previous, she had a stillborn birth and that was the most difficult experience she had gone through.

I finally was able to come home.  My father and grandmother brought me home from the hospital.  I was still fragile and could not eat much at a time.  My mother and father and my mother’s mother came and helped take care of me around the clock.  I had to be fed baby’s formula with a duck’s bill nipple that worked similarly like an eyedropper every two hours.  The feeding took about one hour or more each time.  I cannot imagine how exhausting this was for my mother, my father and my grandmother.

Over time I did regain my strength.  My mother told me that my brothers and sister would keel down in prayer and pray that I would live.  My mother told me she would never forget the prayers of her little children praying for their brother to live.”

Oh how I wish I would have talked to my grandmother about this experience!  It is amazing to me that my father lived.  He grew to be 5’11” from his tiny birth weight.

Let me share the 6 lessons I learned from this story.

  • Trust the inspiration you receive from God- even if that inspiration is “against the odds of success”
  • God is a God of miracles-yesterday, today, and tomorrow
  • The power of the priesthood provides blessings in our time of need. And you never know as a priesthood holder when that power from God will be called upon.
  • Miracles can take A LOT OF WORK, but that work is always worth it in the end
  • The prayers of children are some of the most powerful, honest, and faith-filled prayers ever spoken
  • One reason Heavenly Father gave us families is perfectly illustrated in this story–there are times when we will desperately need people to help us. The power and strength of families united will be what carries us through our hardest trials.

My dad is the rock in our family.  He has the most tremendous faith just like his parents.  He shows though his example that being faithful to the commandments of Heavenly Father will bring blessings seen and unseen. My mother and father are just about to head off to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am grateful to them for teaching me to believe in miracles. I am also grateful for my grandparents. They exuded strength and Love of God through everything they did. I will forever be grateful Heavenly Father allowed the miracle of my father’s birth to be, and that He blessed me with an amazing family.

My parents had the trip of a life-time last year as the visited Italy where my dad served a mission in his youth. They also got to participate in the temple open house of the Rome Italy temple. This picture was taken at the Ferrari factory.

If your family is struggling right now with unity, I encourage you to seek ways through prayer and pondering that you might be able to bring healing to your family in order to have the strength of a united family. In my own little family, I have seen when I make small changes, relationships have been strengthened. I have learned that it starts with me. I am the one who can love more, be more patient, be more understanding. There is power in family.

Today there is a reason to hope.

If you want to read an awesome article from Penn Nursing about the history of helping preemie’s in the US, check out this link:

The Care of Premature Infants

I also found this particular paragraph interesting as it talks about the time period when my father was born.

"During the 1950’s, as smaller and more premature babies were saved with increasingly technological treatments and the intensive care of these infants expanded across the country, several problems surfaced. Oxygen, the miracle cure for the respiratory distress associated with prematurity, did save many lives. However, its unregulated use in higher doses and for prolonged periods appeared to be detrimental to some babies. In 1942, the American Journal of Ophthalmology published an article about an apparently new condition, retrolental fibroplasia, or RLF.[26]  By 1950, this disorder of the retinal vasculature became the leading cause of blindness among children in the U.S. By 1956, it became the first acknowledged complication of the treatment of prematurity. Physicians and scientists worked zealously throughout the 1940’s and early 1950’s trying to identify a cause for RLF, ruling out geography, heredity, lack of prenatal care, and early exposure to light. They examined the medical and nursing care of the infants for any discrepancies or omissions that might have triggered RLF. They focused on newer treatments including vitamin therapy, blood transfusions, and various medicines and hormonal supplements. Physicians and others did not seriously consider oxygen in the search for a cause of RLF until the early 1950s. A large scale, multi-hospital study of the effects of oxygen began in 1952 and culminated in 1956 with solid evidence pointing to it as the culprit.[27] Oxygen use was immediately curtailed throughout the world, and rates of RLF dropped dramatically. Unfortunately, without oxygen treatment, deaths due to respiratory failure increased by 1960 even as the incidence of RLF began to rise again. Known now as retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), it continues to affect preemies today.[28] Physicians now believe ROP has many causes. Standard screening procedures identify infants at risk early, and doctors plan treatment accordingly. Clinical studies continue to sort out the best way to prevent the disease and to treat it once it develops. Oxygen, once seen as a panacea for all preemies, remains a major component of respiratory support, however it is carefully controlled and regulated according to individual needs."

Homemade Chicken Stock

Yesterday on my IG stories, I shared a little bit about my homemade chicken stock or bone broth. This is one simple change I made to my family’s diet a few years ago when my son, Taylor, was diagnosed with his allergies/sensitivities {He’s since grown out of them-Yay!}.  This is a simple way to add extra nutrition to your food, and I think it makes your homemade soups and sauces taste so much richer!

I make mine in the crock pot-I know that you can do it in the IP too, but I still prefer my crock-pot/slow cooker.  I save up scraps my freezer of onion, carrots, and celery as I’m making other meals and put them in a freezer zip baggie.  Then when I need to make broth, I dump what I have in my crock pot, add extra veggies if needed, put my organic chicken on top, add a few seasonings, water, and WA-LA!  You’re good to go!

This photo was taken when I didn’t have any scraps…but I use all parts of the onion, carrots, and celery when I have scraps, especially the onion peel. The peel gives an extra deep color to the broth. I often don’t peel the carrots either-just wash and chop.


2-3 C of onion, carrots, and celery, chopped- use all parts of veggies I typically use 2-3 onions, 4-5 carrots, 2-3 celery stalks

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1 TBSP black pepercorns

1 TBSP dried parsley-I MUCH prefer to use fresh- it makes a HUGE difference in taste, but alas, I don’t always have it.  So if you do have fresh parsley, grab a handful and throw that in!

1 6-8 lbs ORGANIC chicken-  It also makes a HUGE difference in the gelatinous of the stock if you use organic.  You want your stock to be thick kind of similar to a jelly when after it’s refrigerated. But if you don’t have access to organic, or it’s too expensive, or wal-mart substitutes your organic chicken…it will be OK!:)


Then add water until it is 1″ from the top of your crock pot and cook on High for 6-7 hours.  I start my broth around 10 am usually, then I have meat to use in a meal for dinner that day.

Remove chicken carefully after the 6-7 hour time-it will be extremely tender.  Let the meat rest covered loosely with foil for for 10 minutes. Then separate the bones, meat and fat.  Put the bones back in the crockpot, save the meat for a meal, and discard the fat.  Continue cooking on low overnight. Why throw the bones back in?  That is where you get the gelatinous part of the stock.  All the rich minerals cook out of the bones into the broth.

The next day, turn off your crockpot, and strain the stock with a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl.  Discard veggies/bones.  Let the stock cool for 30-45 minutes on the counter.  Then cover the bowl with a lid and put it into the refrigerator until the next morning.  When you pull it out all the fat will be solidified on the top.  And that gives you an almost totally fat free homemade stock!


Scrape the fat off and then pour into plastic freezer containers. You can find them in the canning section of a grocery store.

I keep the stock in my fridge for up to a week, or I keep them in the freezer for several months- I use mine faster than this, so I assume it will keep for several months.:)

This may seem like a lot when you read through it, but after your first time, you’ll see how easy it is to make your own chicken stock.

When trying to improve your diet, start with small things. Add one thing each month that you want to try to add into your diet. This was something easy and pretty hands free- the crock-pot does all the work.

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend and can find ways to look for the hope that exists all around us.

Today there is a reason to hope.

7 Simple Actions to Increase the Love of God in your Life

Challenges and trials can knock us off our feet. We can feel numb to the world, to our spouse, our children, our church, and our jobs. Sometimes we feel like we are living our life in slow motion or everything seems like a blur.

I definitely have felt this way many times in my life– especially after losing a baby. Almost every time I lost a baby, I would withdraw. I would feel like my ability to feel even one more thing was impossible. The feeling of sorrow would completely overwhelm me and all my senses. Numbing myself became my coping mechanism for most of my miscarriages. Feeling became too overwhelming because I didn’t know how to allow those feelings to sit, pass through me, and then provide the understanding and strength that trials are intended to bring.

Over the years, I have found these seven actions tremendously helpful in my ability to feel the Love of God more fully in my life again. His Love never leaves- we are the ones who distance ourselves from feeling it.

  1. Finding new places for quick conversations with God, our Heavenly Father. You can ask my kids, they know my favorite place to pray is my bathroom. You can turn on the fan, and in my case a wonderful heat light, and kneel down and pray. It is my quiet place. Another favorite is my car. When my kids were all younger, even if they were in the car, they were in the back. So I could silently pray, cry, and ponder as we drove. Then wipe my tears, and be ready again to be a mom that could be present for them.
  2. Studying Conference Talks on the topics of The Love of God, Hope, and Peace. In the church I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there is a biannual conference where our church leaders give the most beautiful talks that inspire and uplift and give direction to us in our lives. These talks speak to my heart just as the scriptures do. These talks made such a big difference to me. And listening to them again, and not just reading them, allows the emotion of the speaker to touch our hearts even more. Searching by topic helps us to receive inspiration on what we are seeking to heal our hearts in that moment.
  3. Increase attendance of the temple. If you are a member of the same church as me, and have a temple close to you, I encourage you to attend more frequently. As a young mom with babies, I definitely didn’t make it to the temple very often. But now it is much easier. The Love of God is tangible in these beautiful buildings. Sometimes I would have the thoughts that the reason I lost a baby was because I wasn’t worthy of having any more kids. Being in the temple chased those thoughts away. I would come out edified and ready to face my sorrows and trials because I had gathered strength as I served. {If you aren’t familiar with the purpose of temples, it is to unite families together forever, and help us make covenants with God that will enable us to live with Him again eternally- both for the living and those who have passed on to the next life already.}
  4. Serve others. When we focus on the needs of others, it helps our worries be put into a different perspective. Not just seeing those around us as a man, woman, or child walking this earth, but seeing them as a spiritual brother or sister who might be hurting, lonely, depressed, scared, insecure, or feeling numb to the Love of God. We are God’s hands. When we set out in our day to be his hands, I know that our days will be 100% better. When I don’t set out to look for ways to serve, my day is not necessarily “hard” but it is less fulfilling for sure. Lately, my focus has been more on my family. Little ways to make them feel not only that I love them, but in turn that their Heavenly Father loves them. My favorite local charity is Hearts Knit Together. Volunteering there makes me feel like Santa Claus.
  5. Watching our thoughts. For much of my infertility journey, my thoughts were left unchecked to take me to dark, lonely, self-defeating paths. It took a long time for me to start paying attention to my brain, and stand up to those thoughts. One way to stand up to those thoughts, is to fill your mind with scripture. Delving deep into the verses of scripture that remind us that God loves us so much. And for me, I would at times journal these verses. Writing them down in a notebook can solidify those words deep into our hearts. Then when the voice of the devil tries to tell us we are worthless, we have something to fight his words with.
  6. Surround yourself with people who are positive. Seeking out friends who are sharing goodness and light has strengthened my faith in humanity, built me up on those hard days, and increased my knowledge that God is aware of me. I can’t count how many times a thought was shared on social media that was an answer to my prayer. When we fill our social media feeds with joy and hope, we are lifted up and strengthened. Choose who you follow carefully. This can be hard at times, but for me it has made a huge difference. Social media can be a beautiful thing, or it can be a damaging thing. The great news is we have the ability to choose what we feed our minds. I know that when I open Instagram on my phone I will see a plethora of scripture, thoughts by prophets and apostles, and insights from men and women who love God.
  7. Surround yourself with inspirational art that depicts the Love of God. The photo at the top of this post is by artist Kate Lee. You can find her print here. I absolutely love her art. I have a sweet neighbor who has basically an art gallery of photos of Christ in her home. She struggles with some health issues, but being able to see Christ all around in her home gives her strength. I have been trying to add more pictures to my home too, and I can feel the difference it is making.

These are not new ideas or rocket-science. But these worked for me in the past, and continue to work today. Over the years, I got better at catching those negative thoughts early on. Then I could put more of my time and effort into those first four actions. Sometimes we just have to numbly do those actions for awhile before we will see how they are actually helping lift our spirits, helping us to feel known and loved of God.

I hope that today you will see the Love of God more fully present in your life. Then take it and share it.

Today there is a reason to hope.

The Love of God

Today’s story is one that I shared on my first blog{awaitingrainbows} back in May 2018 entitled Little Warrior. This month I will be sharing stories that illustrate the Love Of God. I know that we are loved so intently and individually by God. He is aware of our every need in the moment we need them. Life is full of challenges. We must hold onto that Love of God to make it through. I hope today you will feel HOPE RISE in your heart as you read Mary’s story. For those who have read this story when I first published it, you will want to read it again. Because this story is all about hope.

You might want to grab a tissue before you read any further.

““We think you should pull the plugs.”  I sat on the couch looking at the phone receiver in my trembling hand and thought, “Did I really just hear her say that?”  I knew I needed to formulate some sort of response and finish the conversation, but I was in shock hearing these words uttered by my close childhood friend.  

We were only about 3-4 weeks into the most difficult thing we had ever been through.  It was a challenge for our family in many aspects, the hardest being physically and spiritually.  We had a 13 week premature baby in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Primary Children’s Medical Center and we were in for a bumpy ride.  One of those rides that when you get to the top and start heading down, the wind whips your hair and the ride pulls you to the left, the right, and to the left again, jerking you relentlessly.  All while in the dark.  That’s where we were, wondering what direction we would be going next, not knowing if we were making any progress. Not knowing if we were heading up the hill, or at a low point down in the valley. And now to hear that other people were trying to “help” make decisions for us was more than I thought I could take.  They made these decisions without even knowing the details, yet, they gave us their point of view.

On September 30, 1993 I was at home preparing dinner for my two children while speaking on the phone with my husband. He was working late and was just checking in with me. All of a sudden I felt like my water broke. Looking down, expecting to see a clear liquid, I was startled to see blood pooling at my feet. I hung up from my husband so he could race home. Having taught first aid classes for many years I knew exactly what to do next; I called my father. Now you’re thinking, “Why would she call her dad?” He was a retired paramedic. I explained to him what was going on and his response was, “Oh honey, here’s your mom.” I was confused because this was uncharacteristic for him to respond in this way. What I didn’t know at the time was, while my mom was calmly walking me through what my next steps should be, he was dispatching 911 to my house from his cellphone.

Because my parents lived 45 minutes away and no neighbors were home, the plan was to put the kids in the ambulance with me until my parents could get to the hospital. I remembered at this point that I had a brother and sister-in-law that lived a mile away. I called them to come for the kids. I then gathered my kids, purse, and keys and walked down the stairs to the front door. I walked outside, locked the door, and sat down with the kids on the front step. I was explaining to my terrified 4 year-old, and her 2 ½ year-old brother, that Mommy was feeling like she was going to lay down and take a nap. At this point I was feeling very faint from the loss of blood, but I went on to tell them that people were coming to help me and that Aunt Darlene would be there to take them home for a sleepover.

The paramedics drove up just as I finished, and my sister-in-law arrived just seconds later. The most vivid memory I have of this moment is the look on my kids’ faces: The oldest with her wide eyes that kept getting bigger and bigger as she was gradually walking further and further away from me and closer to the road. My 2 ½ year-old stood in his tan, corduroy, OshKosh overalls, holding on to the Indian statue that his great grandpa had carved for him. I remember pleading with my sister-in-law to take them away so they wouldn’t be more frightened than they already were. She did so, hugging me and telling me everything would be okay.

My husband drove up, just in time to walk in to the house, call his parents, and ride with me to the hospital. When he exited the house, he was white as a ghost, because he had seen my bloody footprints up and down the halls. All the way to the hospital I just kept thinking about how this had happened in the middle of my dinner preparation and I was worried about the kids going hungry. Looking back I think this was one of the things that got me through the moment, because I was not thinking about the dire circumstances the baby and I were in.

Once at the hospital, the doctor was hopeful that we wouldn’t be having a baby that night. However, hope turned to uneasiness as my contractions continually became worse, and the baby’s heartbeat continually dropped. It was soon evident that yes, in spite of efforts to prolong the pregnancy, we would be having our third baby that night. Because the baby’s heartbeat was no longer detectable, the staff immediately unplugged the bed from the wall, and ran down the hall pushing the bed to the C-Section room. The skilled staff had me completely unconscious, and the baby delivered, in about 5 minutes from the time we entered the room.

I remember waking to see my family gathered around my hospital bed. I felt disoriented and very cold. A few minutes later, the Life-Flight team wheeled an incubator into my room so I could see my son before he would be flown to Primary Children’s where he would stay for 3 ½ months. I reached out to touch my baby, but my hand met with cool plastic instead.  I stared inside at this perfectly formed 2 lbs. 5 oz. bright pink and yellow baby boy.  The next time I would see him would be 2 days later when I was released from the hospital.  We named him Jake.

The nurses warned my husband that the first time I would get to see my baby in the NICU, it would be a difficult encounter.  This held true.  Reality can smack you in the face and it can be difficult to hear what it has to say. 

For us, it meant that our “Baby Jake”, as the hospital staff called him, was facing some very difficult challenges.  His lungs were underdeveloped and the ventilator that was saving his life, was also damaging his lungs.  His heart needed surgery and the medications he was being given for his lungs were making his sick heart work too hard.  This resulted in high blood pressure.  We truly began to know why it is called “the practice of medicine.”  They practice with procedures and medications until hopefully they get it right.  The treatment for one thing leads to another problem arising, which requires that issue needing treatment only to find another thing has gone awry.  This vicious cycle continues until you are back to where you started in the first place because the dog chases his tail.  

It soon became apparent that Jake had multiple issues facing him.  And so we began the roller coaster ride.  Countless prayers later, we realized what a miracle all children are, but Jake’s miracle got to be viewed outside the womb.  While Jake’s progress was slow, it was hopeful.  Never had the doctors verbally indicated that we had a choice to make in his behalf.  Instead, we were told several times  they were concerned that he needed more time between the ups and the downs to get stronger.  Even though at six weeks old he was given only a 2% chance of living, there was still hope and our faith was edified and strengthened daily by our loving Heavenly Father and the promises of the plan of salvation.

The incredible thing about all of the experiences we had with Jake, is that he taught us things every chance he could.  Patience, service, faith, love for fellow men, and gratitude.  It doesn’t take long to feel blessed when you spend time in a NICU and you can see what other people are facing.  We honestly felt grateful for the experience because of what we learned about ourselves.  We learned that we were strong.  That trials build character and that good things can come from them.  We were able to help others see this too. 

One of the greatest things we learned is that we did not have to go through this alone.  It’s not easy to rely on others, and we had to a lot, even for the most mundane things like, laundry, house cleaning, groceries, meals, and babysitting.  We also came to a place in our spirituality that required great faith.  Faith in our God, in the many care-givers abilities, and in our little warrior.  He fought valiantly and became a symbol of hope for all of us early on.  Perhaps the miracle was what happened to us.  How we grew as a family, pulling together instead of apart. 

I will never forget sitting in the social worker’s office in the hospital.  My husband and I sat clinging to each other.  The social worker looked back and forth several times between my husband and me.  With curiosity on her face, she asked us, “How are you staying so strong?  Normally, this pulls families apart.” 

We were given the opportunity to serve other families going through difficult times.  We were able to sit with them and listen to their fears.  Knowing that we were in their shoes gave them the chance to really open up to someone and feel a connection.  We were kind of the “old kids” on the block by the time Jake was able to come home.  We were able to touch many lives, and many lives, in turn, touched ours.  So our miracle reached immediate and extended family, the nurses and staff that became like family (some even coming to Thanksgiving dinner), friends we had before this experience, friends we made during this experience, our church and community groups. 

Going back to my initial paragraph, I put the receiver back to my ear and heard the last bit of her comment, “the cost could be outrageous and you don’t know what the future will hold for him.”   Speaking more calmly than I felt, my reply was, “Come to Primary Children’s with me tomorrow.  I want you to meet him.”

Tomorrow came, and as agreed, we met in the lobby and walked those long halls together.  Primary Children’s does a good job at catering to the children.  The decorations and colors they use do alleviate some fear, but there is no real way of masking a hospital’s “sterile smells.”  We made our way to the “scrub” room where all NICU visitors must “scrub-up” very much like the doctor’s do on any hospital show you see on TV.  Your hands become cracked and dry with repeating this so often.

We entered the NICU and walked to Jake’s isolette.  My friend watched him for a few minutes taking in all the monitors, tubes, alarms, and the explanations we gave her.  With tears in her eyes, she looked at me and said, “I understand.”  She confirmed in herself what everyone saw in Jake.  The miracle of hope and faith.  It had gotten us to this point and would carry us through to whatever end was awaiting us.  

Jake is now a funny, delightful 24 year old man who is involved with his YSA ward where he holds a calling and loves to go to FHE.  He has done much volunteering with several companies including a local elementary school where the kids read to him for a few hours a week.   I reflect back at the many ups and downs and trials we faced.  I feel nothing but gratitude for the lessons learned.  Faith in a higher being, in my fellow man, and in the will to live that my little warrior was born with.  Patience to endure the hard things, to be willing to wait, and to hope even when things don’t go the way you expect.  Gratitude for what you do have even when things look bleak and frightening.  Peace to know that all is well even though we didn’t know what that meant for him then, and even wonder sometimes now.   That service is a wonderful way to lose yourself and to remember that there are others who need hope and help as much or even more than you do.  

I don’t look back at this time and wish for it not to have happened. Yes,  If could have taken away his pain and fear, I would have done it in a second. But wishing that it never happened would also wish away other aspects of my life that made me the person I am today.  I thank my Jake often for allowing me to have this mortal experience and for his willingness to help us grow.  Truly a blessing for our family!

Jake is one of my favorite people. He truly has a light about him. And his mother Mary, well she’s an angel on earth. And I know that God watched over that little family then, just as He does today. And I know that is true for each one of us with our families and the challenges we each face. So let’s be like those beautiful yellow flowers at the top of this post. We can bloom and grow in the Love of God, no matter what challenges lie all around us. Today I hope that the Love of God will fill your heart and lift your soul.

Today there is a reason to hope.

A Leap of Faith

This week I am announcing a hard thing for me. And since it’s Leap Day on Saturday, I thought it would be a great time to share this decision.

After much thought, I am letting go of my awaiting rainbows blog. It was my first blog where I consistently wrote and grew it. I love it so much. I have grown a lot learning to write and blog. I have learned that I love to write. I’m not sure that I am great at writing, but it gives me a creative outlet I never knew I needed.

Because of all I learned in my time awaiting those precious rainbow babies, I was given a jubilant hope. I have a tremendous hope in Jesus Christ and His ability to succor us in our most heart-wrenching life experiences. And I feel called to share my hope. And I truly hope that something I say will help even one person to have a reason to hope today.

I will still share about my infertility journey now and again, but my focus is on finding daily hope in any situation, not just infertility.

So going forward, this will be my only blog. I occasionally will share a Wednesday story from my awaiting rainbows blog, new personal stories of hope, or a recipe that brings me joy. I feel like A Jubilant Hope gives me more room to grow and expand.

As a way to say good-bye to my awaiting rainbows blog and that IG account etc,I am going to promote my two new projects-this blog & my etsy shop Jubilant Creations Co

So, I am doing a giveaway! Please head on over to my IG accounts and check it out!

Head over to my IG acount @jubilantcreationsco to enter! I am giving away this beautiful Slouchy tee from Inspiring Dreams Apparel and one of my new pillow covers of your choice.

Sharing hope on this blog and through my etsy shop products are a couple of my goals right now. I spent so many years not thinking about me. Just in the trenches of motherhood–which I LOVE! But I realized something this last year…I can do more. I can be a good mom AND a writer. I can be a good mom AND a small business owner. I can be a good mom and volunteer at my favorite charity { Hearts Knit Together }, I can be a good mom AND share hope. {But don’t ask how good I am doing at cleaning my house and blogging!:)}

What can you add after the AND in your life?

Today there is a reason to hope.

Something To Work With

To go along with my last post about Random Acts of Kindness, I wanted to share another thought.

When we start our day with the thought that we will have available time, hands, words, thoughts, prayers, meals, flowers, notes, smiles, etc for Him {our Savior Jesus Christ} to use, then we are servants who are ready and prepared.

Let me share something super easy for me. Because I love baking, when I make bread, I almost always bake more than we need. Then I have something for Jesus to use to minister to someone. Some little way a family or individual might feel the Savior’s love for them that day.

Here is my favorite recipe to make lately. It is basically the same generic artisan bread recipe that you can find anywhere. This recipe has my tips for how I do it. It is so easy, you just have to remember to start early enough. This recipe can also be halved to make one large loaf instead of three smaller ones. I also prefer to use sea salt, you get a nicer rise and flavor, but Kosher salt will work too.

I hope that you will join me in trying to give our Savior something to work with as we strive to be more aware of those little whispers that someone needs a reminder that they are known of God. Think of something you already like to do. God has blessed each of us with gifts to serve. We are all needed. We can find an incredible amount of joy as we serve.

Today there is a reason to hope.