Thursday, September 16, 2021


 Jane started her first day working as a dental assistant today!  
Go, Jane!
I dropped Lottie off at school, took a Barre class,
then came home to an empty basement apartment.
I'm officially home alone now.
I turned on Allison Krauss (I only listen to her in the fall),
picked up the house, caught up on my journal & blog,
spent like four hours house hunting online,
and answered e-mails and worked on a devotional that I
am giving on Sunday.
I can feel fall in the air.  The shadows, the sun,
the smells, and the occasional spontaneous color in the tops of the trees.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Family Success Plan

Today after school and work the Nies and I met up with Christian at work.
We wanted to have a family council together and use the whiteboard in the office
since this was going to be a serious family council.
Also, because whiteboards make everything seem more legit.
We have been trying since June to find another house to move to 
and it's been one of the hardest journeys for us!
The market here has been absolutely nuts and it's been very, 
very challenging for our family.
So we had a meeting where everyone came to the board with a plan
to offer to the Lord to show our dedication and willingness to hear Him
and ask for help, too.
Everyone contributed something and then we discussed how to 
implement it in our family life together.
1. Family fast. (Me)
2. Social media sacrifice... no insta, youtube, etc. (Christian)
3. Be like Jesus, be kind (Lottie)
4. Everyone participates and discusses the Come Follow Me curriculum. (Jane)
5. Priortizite homework and stuff (Gigs)
6. Kneel when we have family prayer each night (Ollie)
We had a good discussion about what each of us wrote on the board and
I closed our little council by sharing with the family that having
faith is a very important part of seeing change and prosperity.
Then I read some of the best quotes by President Nelson on faith:

"Through your faith, Jesus Christ will increase your ability to move the mountains in your life,
even though your personal challenges may loom as large as Mount Everest...
Increasing your faith and trust in Him takes effort...
The Savior is never closer to you than when you are facing or climbing a mountain with faith.
Faith takes work. Receiving revelation takes work. 
But “every one that asketh receiveth; and he that 
seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” 
God knows what will help your faith grow. Ask, and then ask again...
The mountains in our lives do not always move how or when we would like...
But our faith will always propel us forward. Faith always increases our access to godly power.
Faith in Jesus Christ is the greatest power available to us in this life. 
All things are possible to them that believe...
Your growing faith in Him will move mountains—not the mountains 
of rock that beautify the earth but the mountains of misery in your lives. 
Your flourishing faith will help you turn challenges 
into unparalleled growth and opportunity.
* * * * *
Also, we STILL haven't had our Back to School Feast,
so that is a BIG #1 on my journey to find success because
 I believe our important family traditions
 bring unity and strength to our family.

Friday, September 10, 2021


Gigs began his three-day behind the wheel training today to get his 
driver's permit on HIS 15th BIRTHDAY in early October.
Pretty soon we will have FOUR teenage drivers in our home!
(Actually, Claire turns TWENTY at the end of October!!).
Who gave my kids permits to grow up?
(That was super cheesy).

Then and now:

Spiritual Enlightenment:

"Elder James E. Talmage tenderly reminded us,
 “The world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.”
 In the final analysis of women’s continuing roles in the Restoration, 
and for us all, what role is preeminent? 
I testify that it is to hear Him, to follow Him, to trust Him,
and to become an extension of His love. I know He lives."

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Jane in Alaska

Jane finished off her summer in Alaska with my sister, 
Page and her family. I admit I was worried about her flying alone from 
Arizona to meet the gang in Juneau, 
then I worried about bears and other wildlife, 
then I worried that her appendix would burst (or something like that) 
while alone at their remote cabin (with no power). 
Then I found myself worrying about her flying on a seaplane
 to get to the cabin in the middle of nowhere, then I worried she'd be cold, 
but now in all seriousness, I worry she'll never want to come home! 
I think she belongs in Alaska!
But she did come home to me!  I am so glad to have her 
back here in North Carolina (she's been out of the house since March!)
 and with so many stories to share!
And Lottie is super excited to have her home so
 she's not the only girl sister anymore!
The first and only time I talked to Jane while she was gone was when she
called me right before she boarded her plane home.
I could tell she was emotional, but not because she was homesick.
"Mom, I saw a killer whale!!!".
Jane is and has been obsessed with killer whales for years.
For as long as I can remember she has loved those beautiful black and white
sea creatures.  And on the last day, she saw a pod of them.
In between silent sobs, she said to me,
"Mom, that's how I know that God loves me!"
Eating off the land; blueberries, salmon, and mushrooms to name a few.
Wildlife sightings (bear, moose, whales)
Salmon fishing, boat rides, the seaplane, 
XTRATUF boots, and clouds over the mountians.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Potential and Hope.

It's so wonderful to have good people in our lives.
We feel this way in particular about our friends who are 
 generously letting us live in their beautiful basment apartment 
while we search and seek to find a place to call our own.
It's been MUCH longer than we anticipated and certainly
 MUCH longer than we all would have liked!
But at the end of the day, we have a warm place to come home to,
a kitchen to make modest meals in,
a fridge to keep a few cold Dr. Peppers in,
couches to sleep on with comfortable blankets,
and a TV to watch family movies together (or the BYU football games).
It's certainly not ideal, but it's a blessing!

Yes, I am suuuuper uncomfortable being homeless,
this threatens my homemaking role and responsibilities as the mommy.
I'm not as creative as I used to be.
I don't take many photos as I used to, and I've for the most
part stayed away from social media.
But I am also learning a lot of things- or at least I think I am.
I hope I will catch the Lord's messages for me
through this transitory period of my life so I can 
 change, grow, and stretch some more.
He's molding me and our family- and most days I feel
so very overwhelmed, but on the clear days, I see potential
and hope as I try to hear Him guide my life.
I love this counsel from Elder Neil L. Andersen:

"Honesty in assessing ourselves allows us to more clearly hear his voice. 
But it is so easy, in those times when we feel the changes 
the Lord wants us to make, to close the heavenly curtain, to say,
 “I don’t want to do that!” or to hide and discontinue our honest communication. 
Sometimes we rationalize that the feelings we felt were not from the Lord.
Where do we begin, then, to assess ourselves truthfully?
As we honestly listen during our prayers, 
we will each know what it is we need to do.
 Maybe it’s beginning to pray earnestly again. Maybe it’s loving a spouse. 
Maybe it’s turning off the soap operas or controlling our tempers.
 Maybe it’s being honest at school or always telling the truth. 
Maybe it’s paying our tithing or sharing more of what we have with others. 
Maybe it’s being more careful about wearing the temple garment. 
Maybe it’s casting out our unbelief or finding more time to attend the temple.

As a prophet of God, President Harold B. Lee explained:
“The most important of all the commandments of 
God is that one that you’re having the most difficulty keeping. … 
Today is the day for you to work … 
until you’ve been able to conquer that weakness. 
Then you start on the next one that’s most difficult for you to keep.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

I Didn't Know

I've loved having Jane back home with me! 
She's my little buddy and we do everything together!
Sadly for me, this is a short-lived arraignment as she just got 
another job as a dental assistant while simultaneously 
getting her dental assistant certificate! 
 Go, Jane!
She's excited... I mean, her dream job would probably be 
working as a park ranger in Alaska but this is a good option, too.
Today after our Barre class we went to Target to pick up a few items
 and check out the HALLOWEEN stuff that's already out!  Yes, you heard me. 
 I said HALLOWEEN! I have to admit, I am really excited!
Mostly I was excited about the candy corn! 
Gotta love those in any season!
While in the cracker aisle I came across a box of mini saltine and
grabbed a box for my older friend who attends church with us.
She has been home-bound for a while and is in the last stages of her life.
Right now all she will eat are crackers (mini saltines) and ginger ale.
When we got to her apartment we found her on the floor just below her bed.
She had fallen and had been lying there for several days.  
It was heartbreaking.  
We picked her up, bathed her, and got her the attention she needed.
It was really a sad situation.
After a bath and fresh clothes, she sat in her 
wheelchair nibbling on her saltines while I put some ointment
 on bad bedsore on her heel.
Then I began telling her that I knew a lot about the Bacitrcian ointment 
and wraps from my time in the burn unit.
She looked at me and asked me and said,
"Oh, I didn't know you were a nurse on the burn unit."
I said back to her, "Oh, no I was a patient there."
She looked at me surprised and said,
"You were a patient?"
I looked at her, lowered my mask, and said,
"Yes, I'm burned, can't you see."
She in all honesty said to me, "well no, Stephanie, I didn't know."
Now, I know she is older and her eyesight is not so great (obviously).
But it was a beautiful reminder to me of how the Savior sees us.
He doesn't see burns or any other kind of handicap we may have.
He sees us for who we are and what we are doing.
He sees our efforts, he sees our dedication, and he sees what we are capable of.
For that three minutes, it felt so good to think that someone didn't see
me as burned.  I wasn't labeled. It was just, me!
And that is how I want to see people, too.

Saturday, September 04, 2021

A Letter from Claire about Grace

(Claire with her companion Sister B.)

This week, I studied a talk called "His Grace is Sufficient
and I have learned so much about grace.
Before, I thought grace was what filled the gap between us and being enough. 
But I loved that he taught "grace isn't about filling the gaps, it's about filling us."
He compared grace and striving to become perfect to practicing the piano. 
We need to continue trying and practicing, and we can't expect ourselves 
to be a prodigy at first.
 I needed to hear that, especially this week.
Thoughts of home and discouragement have been filling my head this week, 
and to be honest, I have struggled with feelings of
 inadequacy since I got here to Brazil. 
But I felt so much peace, learning that God's grace is not something 
that I will get far off in the future when 
I've finished doing everything I could do. 
I can receive His grace right now, and I can be content with 
progress in the right direction, 
rather than needing to worry about being a perfect missionary.
"When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, 
that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. 
When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of
 Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness.
 When we understand grace, we can, as it says in the Doctrine and Covenants,
 “continue in patience until [we] are perfected” (D&C 67:13)."

I love you guys!

PS.  MOM! Jane, and I both agree you look like Gerard Way
from My Chemical Romance when you were younger in this (and ONLY this) photo.
I think it's the eyes and the bangs that you used to have in the early 2000's.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Welcome September! (and zits)

 Happy September!  
The last week here in North Carolina has felt like fall!
The weather has been chilly and we've even been wearing...SWEATERS!!!  
To welcome September and the changing of the seasons,
we also welcome another kind of change.
A fist zit!
Yep, Gigs finally got his first legit zit.
Gigs definitely has the best skin in the family and for him to get his first zit
(Yes, just ONE singular zit)
as a freshman in high school is pretty miraculous.
A lot of us got our zits in 7th grade.
Christian tried to help him with the correct popping and squeezing routine
in the bathroom (using MY tweezers!!!).
I know, super gross.
And of course, I took photos of it.

I hate the word "zit". 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Watchmen On The Tower

Last July I got a text from Jane who informed me that
The Killers were coming to Raleigh in September.
Jane loves LOVES The Killers!
She woke up suuuuper early to buy tickets for her and Ollie and Gigs, too!
And since then we've been listening to only one band exclusively:
 The Killers! Obviously.
Yesterday as we were doing homework at the table 
I heard an audible gasp followed by tears.
The Killers canceled the concert because of COOOOOOVIIDDDDD!!!"
We had a moment of silence for the loss of that opportunity 
along with so many things that have juristically changed
 in our lives and most prominently our very livelihood.
It's been another disappointing blow from this horrific pandemic.

I am reminded of some lessons President Nelson taught
us to as we think about what this pandemic has taught us:

"Adversity is a great teacher. 
What have you learned in the past two years that you always want to remember?
 Your answers will be unique to you, but may 
I suggest... lessons I hope we have all learned and will never forget."

"Lesson: The Home Is the Center of Faith and Worship
Lesson: We Need Each Other
Lesson: We Hear Jesus Christ Better When We Are Still"

Despite the personal anguish and heartache, we've experienced
in our homes, lives, communities, church, and schools,
 I am trying so hard to see it differently because honestly somedays
I am so resentful and mad.
I am so thankful for a prophet who is our watchman on the tower
and who is and will continue to
 warn and guide us during these difficult times.
“I have set watchmen upon thy walls,
 O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night:
 ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence.”
Isaiah 62:6

Friday, August 27, 2021

What do you call a lizard that sings?

Each night before bed I make the Nies lunches.
Lottie usually helps me by picking what she wants or doesn't want 
in her lunch (she hates Doritos).
I don't know if it's her age or what, but she's been on a joke kick lately.  
She has a million jokes in her head that she's read, or seen,
or heard and remembers. 
 But the best are the ones she makes up-- they're hilarious!
Each night she writes these fantastic jokes on the brown lunch sacks 
I pack for the boys.  Sometimes she'll even draw a little picture
 of the joke or other random stuff.
It's the best.

"What do you call a lizard that sings?
"A RAP-tile"

We did it!  One week of school down!  

Happy Weekend!

Spiritual Enlightenment: 
"Jesus Christ sees people deeply.
 He sees individuals, their needs, and who they can become."

Bookmark and Share