How to Change!

Just a few notes and thoughts from “He did deliver me from Bondage” book by Colleen Harrison. It used to be a resource in the church’s addiction program until they wrote their own program. I love that it’s full of study of the Book of Mormon. It addresses any challenge we might have that make us feel out of control or unable to govern ourselves. Learning to completely humble self and rely wholly on Jesus Christ for strength will change our hearts, our vision, and our choices. I’m at the very beginning, again, because I started it 2 years ago and only got to page 13. Once I got to the “action”part, I pooped out. Oops. This time I’ve got this!!! I’d recommend this book to anyone who emotionally eats, has or knows someone with an addiction, or anyone striving to have a better balance of life activities or choices. Thanks to @snyderem for sharing this book a few years ago.

Smith Family Sacrament Meeting

Today Eliza gave a sacrament meeting talk on Love. It was so cute helping her write it. It was just her style and very sweet. She colored each time Love was mentioned.

For Sunday School, Hannah, Max, and Abe each prepared 2 sections of the first Preach my Gospel lesson. They taught about God, Jesus Christ, the apostasy and Joseph Smith’s Revelation, and receiving answers to prayer. I’m grateful for the opportunity we have to do church at home. I love that we can pick the topics, that each one in our family participates in some way every week, and they are learning how to teach, share testimony, and give talks. Each are things we try to teach but having more family time actually makes it possible. I love that bonus to this Corona Quarantine time. I’ve also loved having Abe and Max blessing and passing the sacrament. What a sacred ordinance to be a part of in our home.

Words of the Year 2020

Eliza and I have been doing a 3×5 art-card-a-day project. Wanting to think on a solid topic that had been in my mind, I thought I’d digitally create word art. Not very artsy but it’s important to my heart so I’ll count it.

FAITHFUL…. Not just faith, but one who is full of faith, one who acts in faith. I gathered Bible Dictionary definitions, gospel topic’s reference, scriptures, and conference quotes for the compilation (nothing referenced, sorry!).

FAITHFUL led to HOPE which led to LIGHT and then LOVE. They are basic principles of the gospel, but when my heart is discouraged or feels dark or depressed, I need these simple truths to relight my attitude and perspective … like Spiritual Affirmations.

Each word is something I am striving to be in these specific circumstances of 2020:

  • Be faithful to the truth I know through study and prayer.
  • Focusing on Hope in Christ to bring Joy to dark days.
  • Looking to the light and acting in ways that bring light, doing things to fill my soul with light.
  • Love. Praying with all my heart to be filled with the Love of God to manage my own emotions and mental health, mothering kids of all ages, as well as loving and teaching one with unique brain differences.

#faithfulness #hope #light #love



I’ve been studying about the Miracle of the Passover in Moses time and the Miracle of the Seagulls in Pioneer times. I guess my thoughts have turned there during this Easter and Passover time of year as well as this Corona pandemic. I’ve thought of the fasting and prayers for relief from suffering, sickness, and plagues, as well as news of Locusts overrunning parts of Africa right now (which of course reminded me of the locusts of Moses time as well as the miracle of the sea gulls in pioneer times).

There have been significant miracles throughout time. The greatest being the sacrifice of our Savior. This lesson having been taught through the sacrifice and miracle of the Passover.

The early saints witnessed a miracle of the Seagulls eating the locusts yet it wasn’t mentioned as a big thing in very many journal entries at the time. Just makes me wonder what miracles are right before us that were not seeing clearly because we’re so deep in it.

What miracles are we witnessing right now?  A people being humbled, that we finally are forced to slow down and reconsider priorities, that we will gain a stronger character by dealing with this challenge, that we believe in a living prophet to guide the world? We will experience loss, we will have times of anxiety or depression, but we also can know that God is good and gave us the ultimate miracle of His Son who saved us all.

We have desired miracles in our life for healing, strength of resolve in parenting, patience and increase of love needed.  So it’s on my mind a lot. What is an appropriate miracle to desire? I truly believe that miracles are all around us, as Sister Hinckley shared. I also believe in huge miracles that have occurred throughout time, some of us knowing and understanding, some never to be understood by mortal man.

Most of all I know Good sends miracles of all types and sizes to us as we are faithful and continue in obedience. I just want to have the spiritual eyes to SEE and recognize and live in Thanksgiving for these miracles.

Forgiveness & Healing

This past week our family experienced a devastating blow, feeling betrayed and misunderstood by someone who should have been a trusted friend. I don’t know if it was viciousness or ignorance on their part, but they will never know the damage they have caused. I’d like to think what they did was out of love but it only feels hurtful. I have lost trust in just about everybody and feel a need to rebuild all relationships. I’ve been challenged on something that I hold most dear. Like something that stabbed me to the very core of my purpose.

What I’ve learned: Be careful what you say and who you trust, and believe me, I thought I was already a cautious person with whom I trusted my heart and my family’s challenges.

What I haven’t learned yet: how to forgive and move on. This burden feels heavy. I am trying to replace this suffocating fear with faith and trust in a loving God who will watch over us, and replace all pain with exquisite joy someday.

My faith tells me that even when I feel abandoned by mortal friends, my Savior and Redeemer stands by me. I feel deeply that God is aware of me and my family, our desires, our efforts and all is acceptable to Him. He knows my struggles, my weaknesses, my heartache, and He offers me strength and comfort.

Sunday was a painful day. It was so hard to go to church especially when Jimmy had to leave my side to go to Elders Quorum, but because I know my issues are not with God, I knew I needed to humble myself and attend so that I could participate in a sacred sacrament ordinance and feel of the Holy Spirit. I wish I could say my heart was where it should have been, but it was still hurting and doubting others motives.

But attending Seminary Graduation Sunday evening was a healing balm. Hannah played the piano and the closing hymn, As we Search the Holy Scriptures, resounded with my soul. One way to allow God to heal our souls is to partake of His Holy Word. A study of the scriptures allows us see miracles and blessings that came to those who remained faithful. As for unseen wounds that need healing… I know we all have hurts that need God’s mending power.

When I have challenges that I cannot share with others, the burden seems heavier. I am used to calling husband, mother, father, sisters, friends to receive advice and comfort. And although God has sent these angels to help us along the way, there comes a time when there is nobody to rely on for strength but our Heavenly Father. I know the greatest healing and comfort comes in humble prayer to a loving Father. But do I feel connected to Him?

I do not want bitterness to eat away at my soul. I visualize the canker and ugliness that bitterness creates inside of me. And then I try to visualize a pure love cleansing my heart to occupy that space. I find this might take time but I have a “desire to believe” in this “change of heart”.

This week I’ve listened to several talks on the power of forgiving others. My favorite was by Dieter F. Uchtdorf from 2012 called The merciful obtain Mercy.

The following quote emphasizes to me that the Love of God is what dispels fear and anger and hurt. When we are filled with God’s love, we see others and ourselves as He sees us. His emphasis on changing our thoughts and attitude remind me that I must keep my thoughts emotionally healthy. Blaming someone or acting the victim WILL NOT BRING PEACE OR HEALING! But healing will come as I continue in God’s Love and allowing thoughts of TRUTH and PURITY to fill my mind and heart. Believing in my AMAZING DIVINE NATURE and WORTH will help me fight feelings of discouragement and failure as a mother. Show the naysayers that I am Strong in Christ. That my foundation is firm. And I will persist in acting on all the good I am capable of instead of hiding under a rock (which is what I feel like doing most of the time in public. Much anxiety about my mothering and my children’s behavior? ummm, yes).

For several years, I’ve slowly connected HEARTS in nature as a reminder of God’s Love. It’s so cheesy; hearts are totally cheesy, right?!. But as we hiked in Utah and came across heart rocks, I wanted to teach my kids of the importance of seeing God’s hand every day, so I started pointing out hearts I saw.  (Now my kids all point out the HEARTS to me!)

The thought occurred to me last night, what if God was preparing my heart for all these years FOR THIS MOMENT? FOR THIS CHALLENGE? He knew it would come. He knew what heartache I would suffer. He knew I would need a RESERVOIR OF MERCIES to call upon. So that even though I didn’t want to look for His goodness, I would be so used to doing it, that I would continue even in heartache, even when it was extra hard (Remember when I always taught my kids, “We can do Hard Things!” Oh boy howdy. Here it is!)

Sometimes I don’t know what to do with these heavy burdens. My friend Julie has helped me visualize it like this. Take all your worries, your schedule, your action items, your responsibilities and lay them all down on an altar. My prayer would be something like this, “Loving Heavenly Father, I cannot carry all of this right now. Please take all of it and make something better than I can out of it all. Help me know which items I should pick back up to move onward with together with Thee. What can I do without so as to simplify my life? What burdens can I hand to you and to a perfect Savior who has saved us not only from an eternal death, but has also carried our burdens so that we don’t have to? Please take away the pain and replace it with LOVE and peace.” Something like that. That visualization helps me see this principle of handing burdens over to God more clearly. Next, this next quote is also a reminder that because of God’s mercy towards us, we will be like Him as we offer forgiveness and love to those who offend us and because of God’s truth in that principle, healing occurs.

I’m writing this entry in bursts as that is the only way I can function with 6 kiddos and a mom brain. Everything is probably a bit disconnected. Welcome to Heather’s Brain!

So after writing much of what’s above, I listened to a great talk: Encircled in the arms of His love – Neal A. Maxwell. Well, since it’s Elder Maxwell, really I read it first, then listened to it, and then read it again to catch the parts my HEART needed in this healing time.

First we must believe before we will ever understand… Believing that God loves us and will allow challenges stemming from other’s using their agency poorly, needs to come before the light of understanding. We may not understand or see the strengthening that is occurring or how this experience is preparing us to serve and love someone else. Perhaps we may eventually understand and see the lessons we needed to learn.

And even if that ‘Understanding’ only comes after this mortality, we can always know and maintain a knowledge of God’s love for us! This following quote reminds me that truth always receives “2 or 3 witnesses”. As mentioned in the hymn earlier, the scriptures teach us of God’s LOVE for his people. And that we can feel of God’s love by choosing to see the blessings and mercies he has shared with (HEART ROCKS!!!). And lastly that we feel of God’s love through the Holy Spirit. A reminder of how important it is to have this beautiful feeling in our hearts and home and family.

This following quote connected with me in regards to the anxiety I feel about many things with my mothering and this world we fight against daily. Even when things are in commotion around us, we can be still. We can be solidly settled in Holy Places so that we are not “moved”. Even when harm comes to us or our loved ones, we can move forward with Strength from a God who LOVES. God sustains those who keep His commandments! Oh, how I try. One of my favorite lines from the hymn, God, our Father, Hear us Pray is, “Bless my efforts day by day.”

Final thought by Elder Maxwell. I think of Stephanie and our “Tie on your bonnet Sister for WE WILL MAKE IT TO ZION!” message I’ve loved for all these years. Changing our hearts and desires and feelings might be mighty hard work. But those who came before showed the endurance and faith that I need now in my challenging situation.
Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
‘Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell–
All is well! All is well!

And now I’ve come to the end of my thoughts for a period. The past few weeks I’ve gone between anger and sorrow and judgment and pain with bits of healing in between. Gathering and writing down these thoughts has helped me heal immensely. God’s loving word through prophets and his Holy Word in scripture brings much peace. And even though I needed to be vague about details in regards to this specific situation, I feel that these principles are understood by many in various challenges. I wanted to note them to bring remembrance to my future self or family. Plus, healing and joy come to me when I am creative… hence all my cutesy-poo quotes I always do as a visual learner!


Today …

Outside my window… Bright Texas Sunshine. 62 degrees which is perfect! Falling Leaves.

I am thinking… about how to help our family be more peaceful and happy together. We’ve had so much arguing and nit-picking lately with all the kids. It seems someone is always crying, or arguing, or fussing or having to do push-ups as a consequence. We need each other. Our family is all we have for eternity (well, and God!). I really am praying we can figure out how to have a better spirit in our home and help those children with mega issues to be more peaceable.

I am wondering… how in the world I’ll go a month without sugar. I decided to do it on Monday. And yesterday I didn’t have any treats or sweets or chocolate. That is huge! I have to improve my health on 2-3 points or my insurance is kicking me out of the ‘wellness health discount” or whatever it is. $150 more each month is way too much on insurance premiums so I’m kicking it into high gear. Plus, who decides to potty train a Scotty and go without sugar on the same week. Crazy mom!

I am Praying: for the way to a new treadmill. So silly. But i keep hoping I’ll either win one on a give-a-way… or more eternally beneficial and principled to find the pennies to save (on top of my idaho vacation fund) to buy one. We had one for 12 years that I tried to use but was never very consistent … but it died last year. But I’ve just got to commit to exercising 6 days a week and in Texas heat and humidity, indoor exercise is how it has to be, unfortunately. But I know if I exercise, it will encourage me to eat healthy… And vice-versa. Anyhoo… so tricky to balance health and exercise as a mom of many.

I am thankful for…
Jimmy… He works tirelessly for our family. At work and at home.
Scotty… He is quite the character that keeps us laughing when he’s feeling jolly.
Eiza… Lately she’s been a good friend to me. She’ll rub my back and enjoy talking with me.
Truman… So grateful on days when Truman gets up and gets going off to school with a happy heart.
Max… has so much faith! Grateful for his natural testimony.
Abe… working hard and accomplishing good things in honors band trumpet. He came in 3rd chair for district trumpet out of all the middle schools.
Hannah…. this girlie gets up early for seminary and is mastering the “I can do hard things” life with so much going on with homework, friends, driver’s ed. And she is a dear heart at home for all.

I am lovin’: SLEEP! seriously love a good’s night’s sleep. Love my cozy blanket on my bed right now. Love taking a respite from the stress of life. Sleep … it does a mama’s emotions good!

From the learning rooms…
Hannah: Christmas Music. Playing the Organ. Patience with friends and life circumstances.
Abraham: How to build a boomerang out of paint sticks in Engineering.
Maxwell: Spelling Bee on Monday! Go Max!
Truman: a need for fidget toys to help with focus. Learned to whistle.
Eliza: Just learned to ride a bike without training wheels.
Scotty: Learning to go potty. Wahoo!

From the kitchen… another batch of Fire Cider. Hannah made sweet potato, black bean, corn Flautas. Pretty yummy & healthy. Little kids didn’t agree and there were tears all over the place.

I am wearing… my favorite t-shirt cardigan (hand-me-down from Mary), Old Navy California bear shirt, Jeans (with a new hole in the knee. arg!), Pink nike shoes that are not comfortable. And since I actually got ready today I’m going to comment that I’m wearing mascara and lipstick. bonus!

I am remembering… days when I was just mostly exhausted physically for carrying and helping little ones. Now it’s more emotionally exhausting than physically. Love my kids so much! But wow… balancing life is a tricky business.

I am creating… a few scrapbooks for Christmas. I’m not sure how and when I’ll get them done, but I have oodles of free $ to shutterfly that expire in December. Eliza has been begging for a photo album. And Max appreciates them as well.

I am going… to the temple tomorrow. Wahoo! So excited! #templelight

I am reading… I just read the entire Jonquil Brothers books by Sarah Eden. It was so silly to read them all but it was so fun to have my twice-a-year-read-a-thon.

I am hoping… for happy family days ahead. Hoping to accomplish this by having our family memorize the Living Christ. At least start it this month… and hopefully finish by Easter? Hoping…

I am hearing… Scotty’s tv show. I don’t remember what it’s called. But it’s so hard to watch such a toddler show so poorly made. Ugh. But Scotty likes it. I’m trying to convince him to watch Wreck it Ralph Movie. I think he’d like it. He loves fixing things with tools with Jimmy. But he won’t give it a try.

Around the house… Messes. We still haven’t picked up sufficiently from our house guests the past week. Toys scattered about. So often I ask the kids to each put away 25 or 50 or even 100 things just to get things tidied up better. Crazy that we even have that many things. Which brings me to the discussion of getting rid of much of our stuff. Gotta sort through and figure out how to do that. BUT … we have the Christmas tree up and even though it’s not decorated yet, the #ChristmasLight is awesome!

One of my favorite things… Apple Cider Vinegar. Ewwww. Not my tastiest thing but a healthy thing. But it ought to be noted that I honestly think it has helped my immune system. The only time I’ve been really sick in the past 6 months was the week I stopped taking it. I honestly think it’s disgusting, though cayenne pepper helps cover the taste. I put a tsp or Tblsp in a glass of water and drink it as fast as I can. Then I drink another cup of plain water to help wash it down.

A few plans for the weekend: Stake Conference.

A scripture I like: Philippians 4: 8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” I heard this the other day and it was a good reminder to keep thoughts positive and to focus on the good in our life. Of course there are hard things. Of course there are occasional doubts. But there is faith and hope and light and goodness to fill our hearts and minds with.

A Song I like: Aiming for Hope by David Archuleta

A picture I love:
I just really loved my hair short. Even though it made my neck look like a football player’s… and my family didn’t love it as much as I did, it was just a fun haircut for that time of my life when little Eliza was a wee babe. Plus, I remember I loved green that year. Color of the year probably! Plus, newborns! So much snuggles and baby smiles and smells.  Plus, I was skinnier then.  So funny that’s my new goal is to look like I did after baby #5.  Yikes!  Baby Steps.

Truman and Eliza’s First Trip to Six Flags

Last fall, we got Six Flags season passes, good through the end of 2017, for Hannah, Abe, Max, and myself. Every once in a while, season pass holders are allowed to bring a friend for free and that day came last week. So me and Max brought Eliza and Truman as our friends. All three kids were very excited to go. It was great motivation. They rarely have done their chores and homework so well as when they were told they could only go to Six Flags if they got it done. :) Here are Eliza, Max, and Truman near the entrance to the theme park. While Truman doesn’t look very happy in this or many other of the pictures, he really was very good and very happy throughout the day. He just doesn’t know how to fake a smile, thus when he is told to smile for a picture, it never comes off as natural.

The first ride we went on was the Tea Cups. Eliza was in a tea cup with me, Daddy, and Max and Truman were in the tea cup next door. All the kids loved it. We did the ride two or three times.

We next went on the Sombrero ride. Eliza opted out of this one. This gave me the opportunity to snap some good pictures of Truman and Max while on the ride. When he’s not posing, you can see the natural joy and excitement on Truman’s face.

We next visited the Carousel per Eliza’s request. She loved it.

Next, we headed to Bugs Bunny Boom Town, a collection of about a dozen kiddy rides all together in close proximity.

We rode the Marvin the Martian Space Ship ride. While in line for this line, we were standing by some kids who were soaking wet. They said they got wet on the Daffy Duck Bucket Blasters ride, and Truman insisted that we go there next.

Truman said the Daffy Duck Bucket Blasters was his favorite ride. Of course, I think at one point or another he said almost all the rides were his favorite.

The last ride I have a picture of is the Harley Quinn Spin Cycle. This was the only non-kiddy ride we did all day. Eliza wasn’t planning to ride it, but when we got to the front of the line with Max and Truman, she decided to go. And she loved it, as did Truman and Maxwell.

Not pictured, but on our way out of the park we also did the Bat Wings ride, which Eliza really liked. And we stopped by the giant play ground in Bugs Bunny Boom Town, and the kids loved that. After three or four hours the park started getting really crowded and the kids were getting really tired, so we headed for the exit. Overall, it was a great day.

North Rim Grand Canyon

It’s been forever. Life is hectic. I can’t fit in everything I’d like to do.

But… here’s a bit.

We went on a 10-day trip to Utah. It was hard. It was fun.

I was just going through pictures and was able to auto-merge these photos we took into a panoramic version. Cool, eh? You can even see the fire in the distance on the left side. If we would have gone to the south rim, that fire would have smoked the entire view (as it did in 2001-ish when we went there). So, I’m super glad we went to the North Rim.


The end. For now…

The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen

Last week Jimmy mentioned that he was weary of the kids having the ‘Not I’ attitude…
which was a perfect lead-in idea to read The Little Red Hen for a Family Devotional.
Ah-ha… interesting how often we sound like the ones who didn’t want to help that hard-working little red hen.

Jimmy shared the scripture in Galatians & D&C about not being weary in doing good for others.

I came across this parenting article which I quite liked for our family….

Posted on Thu, Aug 5, 2010
Parenting lessons from ‘The Little Red Hen’
By Annie Zirkel


In the story The Little Red Hen, the overworked and under-supported Mama Hen spends all her time cooking and cleaning while the rest of her household naps the day away. Finally fed up after getting no help in tending some wheat seeds she eventually turns into flour and then a cake, she answers the question of ‘Who’s going to eat this cake?’ with, ‘Not any of you.’

Of course in the story, losing out on cake is just the trick needed to get her lazy, and now hungry, crew to start pitching in – presumably living cooperatively ever after.

Especially when children are young, this deceptively simple story has some wonderful lessons to offer including messages about working together, planning ahead, standing up for yourself, and the power of consequences.

But, not all of the morals of this story are for children. Many parents fall into the trap of doing most of the work while their children spend their time lounging around, playing and socializing, or focusing on their own pursuits. In fact this dynamic is one of the core power struggles in countless families – who’s responsible for the work and who’s responsible for the leisure.

When my children were little, we came up with a phrase that worked well to address this dilemma. We called it Fun & Done as in: Let’s have fun AND get things done, too. Play and clean up. Cook dinner and then relax for a little while.

Or better yet, have fun while getting the chores done. I used to read to my kids while they folded the laundry. And while the laundry didn’t exactly disappear, it was a nice way of balancing the need to move the day forward with the equally important goal of engaging in the only opportunity we would ever have to enjoy that particular day.

Creating a spirit of family cooperation is the critical element for setting up a scenario where everyone can get better at both having fun AND getting things done. Talking to children about what it takes to keep a household running smoothly is a good segue into getting them on board for pitching in. And of course being ready with those calm consequences is a good idea as well.

But the other obstacle to this approach comes from Mama Hen herself who has to shift her expectations and be open to getting less done, putting away her checklists and re-learning what her children (and maybe even her partner) already know – how to relax and enjoy the moment.

This can be harder than it sounds. I know many moms who admit that they feel better when they do it themselves because it gets done right. Then there are those who may do a heck of a lot of squawking about not liking this setup but don’t insist that their clan pitch in. And finally there are those who acknowledge that they just don’t get the whole “fun” thing. Maybe it’s because they have forgotten or maybe they have gotten so caught up in their “To Do” lists that they don’t know how to stop planning the fun and start participating in it.

So if you would like more cooperation for getting things done and more moments of personal fun, you may enjoy this “To Do” list to get you started:

1. Get the book “The Little Red Hen” and read it to your family.
2. Talk about family cooperation and the importance of everyone pitching in. (For older kids think regular booster discussions.)
3. Besides Fun & Done, consider some of these sayings to get the point across:
Many hands make light work. Work hard, play hard. ~ Nike slogan Life’s not all fun and games. (But there should be SOME fun!)
4. Practice the When/Then technique as in “WHEN you’ve cleaned your room, THEN you can go to a friend’s house.” Though be prepared for lapses and have those consequences ready. 5. Both with and without your family, put some FUN into your day as well. (All work and no play makes Red a dull Hen.)

Finding that balance is challenging and fairly unlikely to stay that way for any length of time. But “time” is the crucial word here. Because before you know it, your kids will be gone and you really will be eating that cake alone. Which is too bad because, like chores, cake is so much better (and definitely less fattening) when it is shared.

Annie Zirkel, LPC is a parenting consultant and workshop presenter based in Ann Arbor.