Thursday, February 04, 2016


Santa brought us a wonderful little book for this past Christmas, called A Future As Bright As Your Faith--a compilation of counsel and inspiration from Thomas S. Monson for every day of the year. Each page also has a scripture that pertains to the counsel from President Monson, so if you like to "Ponderize", you'll really like this. :) We have been reading one page a day (or a couple of pages if we forget the day before ;) ), and it has given us a lot to think about, as well as getting our family ready for family prayer at night.  We really like it.

The page for February 1 is titled "Progress" (hence the title of this post), and it's a pretty good reminder for all of us coming out of January, where we make all these resolutions and then start to lose steam about now. It all ties nicely into the overarching principle of Integrity, doesn't it? And, since the Iowa Caucus took place that day, I was thinking about the candidates and those who enthusiastically follow them, and how much we need people in our government who do more than say what people want to hear and then don't follow through. And how much we as citizens need to do more than listen to sound bites and fluffy promises and look deeper. I don't know if my kids thought much about it, but it sure stuck with me.

The scripture is found in 1 Samuel 2:3, and it says:
"Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed." 

And then follows the quote from President Monson: 

The world needs more of this, I think. It's really up to us to make it that way.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Personal Progress and Integrity

I had the privilege of serving in the Young Women organization of our LDS ward for about two years, and while serving, I decided I was going to work on Personal Progress with my daughters and the other Young Women. I did Personal Progress as a Young Woman, under the program that was created by Ardeth Kapp and her counselors and board, but I knew it was important for me to work on this new program, not only for my benefit, but also to be a good example to my daughters and the girls I was serving, and so that I could have a sure testimony of this Personal Progress program. It is a wonderful program that our stake leaders called "the Young Women program in action!" I love that. We can facilitate powerful lessons and meaningful activities, but if the Young Women don't go home and DO something they learned, then they will not grow the kind of testimonies and build the kind of gospel knowledge that will keep them standing on the Rock no matter what happens to them. I didn't finish the program before I was released, so I have continued to work on it here and there, and I am hoping to finish with my oldest daughter. 

Surprisingly, it has been a little easier for me to do the 10-hour projects than the value experiences. Serving in my calling helped with that somewhat. For instance, when we were planning and getting ready for Girls' Camp, I had never done anything like that before in my life, so I was able to use that for my Knowledge project. I learned a lot! I was also prompted to write a song for the Young Women to sing at Young Women In Excellence, so I ended up using the time I spent writing the lyrics and music and teaching it to the girls for my Individual Worth project. I am also a mom of six kids, and I have tried to volunteer in their schools where I can--that went toward my Good Works project. I have also applied other things I do as a mom toward Personal Progress, like menu planning. And I have used the program to help me improve relationships with my children or my husband. Looking at the good things we do every day and applying them to Personal Progress helps us to see that we really are accomplishing more than we think! 

I have almost completed every project and am steadily accomplishing the value experiences, and I discovered that I still didn't know what I was going to do for my Integrity project. After looking over the suggestions and pondering about it, I had the thought that I should resurrect my long-neglected blog and use my blog as a way to document examples of integrity in people's lives. So that's what I'm going to do, and hopefully, doing this will also motivate me to blog about something else once in a while, too. :)

Integrity is an interesting word and value. I have always thought of integrity as honesty, which it is, but mostly in the sense of telling the truth verbally. Several years ago, though, I began to see integrity as more than that, and my visualization became linked to ships and their hulls. Ships are constantly inspected to ensure that their hulls and structures have integrity, which means that they are free from holes, cracks, and other defects that will compromise the ship's ability to keep out water that could place it and its passengers in danger, as well as its ability to stay afloat so that it can accomplish the purpose for which it was created. 

This visualization of integrity has helped me to understand what this value really means in my life and in the lives of my children. Our "hull" and "structure" is built by what we believe, the values we have. And when we live our lives according to what we believe, to what values we have, no matter where we are or who we are with or what circumstances surround us, our hull has integrity. We can't only live the gospel when we are with good members of the Church, or when we want others to think we are righteous, or just when we are at church or home; and then behave differently in order to fit in or seal a business deal or get something we want. We also cannot preach or teach repentance and gospel living to others if we are not willing to repent or to live the gospel ourselves.  Not only is that hypocritical, but it demonstrates a grave lack of integrity. We must apply the Atonement in our lives, repent of our sins, fix those holes in our character, and truly live according to our baptismal covenants. Then we will be able to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. Integrity is in essence telling the truth in word and in deed. We are not expected to be perfect, only to keep trying our best and repenting. I have discovered many ways in which my hull has cracks and defects, and I am so thankful for the Master Repairman who helps me to fix these problems through repentance.

I love the following words of President Henry B. Eyring for so many reasons, and I think they capture the meaning of integrity very well. No matter where we are, no matter who we are with, no matter what happens to us, may we have a hull free from defects and cracks and demonstrate who we are--disciples of Christ--in all we do and say.

Photo from Henry B. Eyring's Facebook page,
meme by Melissa West


Wednesday, January 02, 2013


Dear Family and Friends. . .

We couldn’t go another year without keeping in touch. Our hearts are full of gratitude for the blessings you bring into our lives. We are so grateful to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, for the countless ways in which they guide us and keep us going from day to day. The past couple of years have brought great challenges to us, but with those challenges have come many, many blessings, too.

As many of you know, Melissa’s mom had heart surgery August 2, 2011, and suffered complications and setbacks for many months following. She passed away March 3, 2012. We miss her so much. We are so grateful to know that we will see her again someday. We truly appreciate the support and love shown to every member of the family during Mom’s struggles and after her passing, and for the many prayers in her behalf. The Comforter is very, very real.

Justin has worked at RxAmerica (which was bought out in 2008 by CVS/Caremark) for almost 17 years and received the news October 28 that he and his Salt Lake employees will be let go a few days after Christmas. Most recently, Justin has been the manager of a small team of data analysts in Salt Lake and Northbrook, Illinois in the Rebate department. We are proud of his efforts in helping his team to consistently put out more results per employee than any other team in the department, and of his great attitude as he closes this chapter of our lives. It will be interesting to see what the next chapter of life holds for us.

With all we’ve experienced the past while, it has been nice to be able to get away as a family. Some very kind friends let us use a wonderful cabin in Island Park, Idaho in 2011, and we enjoyed beautiful Mesa Falls and Yellowstone National Park on that visit. We immediately went home and purchased a huge tent and camping equipment to go with it! This past June, we jumped into the deep end camping-wise (Melissa camped a lot growing up, but we’ve never gone on more than an overnighter as a family)—we drove all the way to Yosemite National Park! (Thanks to the Fresno family for putting up with us for a couple of days before we could check in—it was so good to see you!) We had a marvelous time, and left the park forever changed. The week before school started, we enjoyed another camping experience closer to home at Mt. Timpanogos Campground. We hiked to lovely Stewart Falls, enjoyed some early leaf colors and Cascade Springs, and saw more wildlife than we did in Yosemite. J

We also decided the time had come this June to gut and rebuild our only bathroom, which had 50+year old plumbing that was becoming too difficult to fix without destroying half the bathroom and which also had mold that we couldn’t keep under control. While we were in Yosemite, our wonderful contractor managed to get almost the entire room done, to the point that we could use it when we came home! You just don’t know what a blessing it is to have cabinets and electrical outlets in your bathroom until you’ve had none for 8+ years!

About us…

Justin is still doing a strength-training program and loves hiking. He has made it to the top of Mt. Timpanogos the last couple years. He and Melissa served in Cub Scouts as Wolf Den leaders for two years. Now he works with some of the Young Men in our LDS ward to provide music for priesthood meeting, and just got called to be the Elders’ Quorum Secretary. He is a great support to our family as we busily go from one place to the other.

Melissa is keeping busy with six kids and all that comes with them! She loved serving with Justin in Cub Scouts, and received the shock of her life when she was called to be the Young Women’s President in our ward! It has been an amazing blessing to serve with these choice young ladies and their incredible leaders. Just as much of a blessing has been the time Melissa has been spending as Jeremy and Rebecca’s preschool teacher. We have been learning a lot together! Melissa is also trying to maintain a regular exercise routine and likes to go hiking with Justin when she can. She has a goal to hike Mt. Timp next year! She also appreciates the opportunity to use her musical talents now and again. She is trying to convince herself to give in and finally be the kids’ piano teacher. (When our beloved teacher closed her studio, we never ended up finding another teacher because of all that was going on.) Life is never boring, that’s for sure!

Ashley is 14, in 9th grade, and plays first trombone in Symphonic Band. Ashley is an excellent student, and her favorite classes so far this year are Band, Honors English, Art, and LDS Seminary. She just joined her jr. high’s chapter of National Academic League, and loves it.  Ashley also keeps busy with ballet classes three times a week. She finally got to dance in the recital this past May in her pointe (toe) shoes after working hard for three years! She also plays the piano well enough to accompany her Young Women’s group on Sundays, and loves to practice and sight-read when she can. We very much appreciate her willingness to babysit her siblings when needed.

Christina is 11 and is in 6th grade. She loves being a member of the Student Council and is a hard-working student. She has a special love for young children and does a great job babysitting once in a while. Christina is also taking ballet, and has been working hard in the Prep for Pointe program. She just got fitted with her first pair of pointe shoes, and can hardly wait to start rehearsing in them in January!! Christina also enjoyed being in her school’s production of Annie, performing as an apple seller and singing in the NYC chorus. Christina also practices the piano as much as she can. Christina is really looking forward to starting junior high next year!

Christopher is almost 10, is in 4th grade, and is full of energy and curiosity! He has been taking swimming lessons for the past while, and is working hard to progress to the next level. He has really enjoyed Cub Scouts, and will be a Webelos soon. He also got baptized in February of 2011, and we are so proud of his decision to commit to follow the Savior. He loves anything that has to do with Star Wars, Legos, or Harry Potter, and adores Roald Dahl books. He is looking forward to learning the piano soon! He also enjoyed being a member of the cast of Annie recently, playing the part of Servant Stephen and singing in the NYC chorus with his older sister.

Emily—2nd Grade. Emily is our “star shining brightly,” as her favorite song suggests. She never ceases to amaze us with her artistic talents, and is a great reader and student. She dances and sings her way around the house, and loves anything to do with fairies, princesses, and My Little Pony. Interestingly, she is also fascinated by dinosaurs and the human body. She comes up with some of the most creative and elaborate stories and “pretends.” Emily also takes ballet, and is looking forward to playing the part of a rocking-horsefly in the ballet school’s production of “Alice In Wonderland” in May.

Jeremy turned 5 in October, and is enjoying going to “Mommyschool” this year with his younger sister. We have learned about the human body, farms and farm animals, fall, fire safety, gratitude, and more.  Jeremy loves art activities and field trips--his favorite trips have been to Farm Country, the fire station, and a small hike in the mountains to collect fall leaves and seeds. We are excited to do more fun things as our school year progresses! Jeremy loves transportation vehicles and emergency and construction vehicles; and is absolutely fascinated by anyone who drives or fixes vehicles, and other “fix-it” people. He also loves to figure out how things work. Jeremy is an amazing reader, and is trying really hard to get along with his little sister. J

Rebecca turned 3 in July, and is determined to grow up much faster than Mom would like. She loves to do everything herself that she possibly can (and even the things she really can’t). She also adores vehicles of every kind, and has a nice little collection of her own, but she also loves babies, princesses, and the play kitchen, and enjoys playing My Little Pony with Emily on occasion. She loves to imitate Mom playing the piano, and having “school” with Mom as well—she loves art activities and our field trips. She loves the nursery at church, and is really excited to be a Sunbeam (the class for 3-year-olds) in January!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Back In The Saddle?

If blogs had saddles, that is. . . :)

So many things have happened over the last almost year and a half that I couldn't even find a way (or the desire) to blog about them. I've never been a great journal-keeper like my mom was, and I struggle to keep in touch with people through letters, e-mail, or phone calls. (Facebook has helped somewhat in both regards, and I really have done better at journaling than I used to. . .) And when stressful events happen, those things fall by the wayside. So it's natural that my blog would be so sorely neglected.

Something I've learned, though, is that one way to show the Lord our gratitude for his tender mercies is to write them down. I've tried to do this, though I've definitely missed a lot of them, for which I feel very sad. I know that we shouldn't share everything miraculous that happens to us, but I also feel that sometimes we really do need to share the Lord's mercies with others so they can recognize His hand in their lives, too, among other reasons. So I will try my very, very best to do better at blogging. Not only does it help me show gratitude to my Heavenly Father and His Son, but it also helps me see my blessings even better.

So, even though my responsibilities are huge, and my challenges many, I will make an effort to do better at sharing my life and my joy with others. I am so grateful and so blessed.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

SEPTEMBER 10, 2001

Ten years ago today
The sun was brilliant in the sky
The birds sang the song of a beautiful day
The grass was bright green
The world felt safe
I played with my baby and my preschooler
And did things like washing dishes
And reading stories
And taking my husband to school

Ten years ago today
If I had wanted to
I could have taken my husband to the airport
Walked with him to the gate
Kissed him goodbye as he boarded the plane
And stood with my girls at the window
Watching until his plane backed away from the gate
Taxied to the runway
And soared into the sky

Ten years ago today
We worried about the economy
(Though the economists did not)
And the stock market
And the power company raising our rates
Terrorism was something that happened in countries far away
That we only knew from television
Or the BBC

Ten years ago today
There were twin tall towers that scraped the sky of New York
The Pentagon had not been breached
And a crater did not mar a field in Pennsylvania
Mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, and children
Spent time together
Talked on the phone
Did not know this day
Would be their last

Ten years ago today
We thought we were strong
Thought we were great
But we were not united like we should have been
We did not know how strong
How humble
Or brave
Or united
We could become

Ten years ago today
The sun was setting in the sky
The birds sang their evening song
The grass was a deepening green
The world felt safe
And the world did not know--
We did not know--
That we, and the world,
With the coming dawn,
Would change forever.

Scattering Sunshine. . .On Me

It never fails: whenever I'm grumpy, slightly or otherwise, God sends me a reminder/bright spot. I'm sure I miss the significance of some of them when I'm super-grumpy. Thank heavens today I didn't miss it. While shopping slightly-grumpily at Dick's in Bountiful while two of the girls were at ballet, the sweetest older gentleman kept trying to make friends with Rebecca. She is pretty shy around strangers--she usually just puts on her serious face and looks in another direction. I smiled at him, and then continued checking out. He hobbled slowly out to his car, and I sped off another direction to get everybody buckled back in and the groceries unloaded so we could get back to the ballet school in time. As I unloaded the last child from the cart, the sweet man hobbled over and offered to take my cart back to the store for me. "You have enough to keep you busy right now," he said. Bent with age and moving slowly, he took the cart from me with a smile, and I thanked him twice. I was so touched by his desire to be of service and his respect for my calling as a mother. He was a true gentleman, in every sense of the word. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for people like that, and for reminding me to look outside my to-do list for small ways to bring sunshine into someone's life.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"I Had A Great Day"

It was one of THOSE mornings. You know, the kind where you seriously consider asking for a refund. And leaves you wondering how soon you'll be developing a nice, raging ulcer.

There was the usual stress of kids not getting up on time, of trying to keep an ADHD child whose meds haven't kicked in yet on task, and so forth, but a good deal of the stress on this morning came from a certain kindergartner who might also be known as The Daydreamer/The Princess/Drama Queen II/The Snail. I had just about given up trying to get her going (and her disclosure that she had a headache 10 minutes before she was supposed to leave almost sealed the deal), except that visions of the very nice letter the principal sent a couple of weeks ago letting us know that this child had reached the maximum number of absences she was allowed for the school to "make AYP" and that her tardies were excessive and could be "detrimental" to her progress kept dancing in my head. (I think when I received the letter, I retorted something like, "Well, then YOU come to my house and see if you can do any better at getting this child out the door fed and fully dressed and on time!")

The other children ran out the door, and The Snail finally decided that she needed to go to school (why NOW, not an hour ago!), and disappeared into her room to get dressed. I poured her a bowl of cereal, knowing I couldn't send her to school with an empty stomach if she really had a headache. The Snail came out dressed, except. . . "Where are your shoes?" I asked, feeling very much like a broken record. The Snail did not know. I marched into her room to find that not ONE pair of shoes belonging to her was in her closet. NOT ONE. I mean, usually, her closet is an interesting assortment of one shoe from each pair, but this time, not ONE pair was in there. However, we easily found her brand-new, shiny, bow-bedazzled white Sunday shoes, since they were up high and displayed proudly for all to see. But since those weren't an option, we were stuck. We looked high and low and miraculously found her shoes in her backpack (thank heavens for inspiration). She gulped down her cereal (very uncharacteristic) while I scratched out a quick note on the end of a notepad with a pen that didn't want to cooperate. (Thinking about this child handing the secretary a piece of cardboard as she came in the door was amusing, I have to admit.)

Then I drove her to the front doors of the school because the second I said the word "walk," I could see a meltdown coming on, and, since the goal was to get her to school for what remained of the kindergarten day (which would not happen if she went into meltdown mode), I felt it best to just drive her. I felt pretty silly, considering the school property is four houses away from our home (in my defense, the front doors, which are the only ones open after school starts, are almost two blocks away. . .). As my daughter jumped out of the car, Rapunzel hair trailing behind her, and yanked open the heavy doors and disappeared inside, my heart swelled a bit. For all the stress she causes, she certainly is a unique and wonderful individual, and I do love her. That helped me feel a bit better.

Then a dear friend exited the school and commiserated and laughed with me (what is it with children and shoes and tough mornings?), shared some fun and happy news, and basically took my mind off the stress of the morning. As I drove home in the sunshine, I took some deep breaths and arrived home much calmer and with my stomach tied in less knots.

My daughter bounced cheerfully through the door around 11:35 A.M. with a big smile on her face, chattered excitedly about the upcoming kindergarten "Plant Picnic," and skipped into the living room to see her brother, singing, "I had a greeaaat day, da-da-da dah dah. . ." I was tempted to ask, "So what was this morning all about?" But I didn't. After all, if she thought it was a great day, who am I to change her mind?
You Think You Know A Guy. . .

While on a family walk, we were walking around a historic church and well that are near our home. My kids found a huge, almost-full bottle of Gatorade that had been dumped in the grass near the well and thought they would like to keep it. Daddy and I quickly put that idea to rest, and they dumped it back in the grass. However, we decided it would be better if we put it in the bottom of the stroller and threw it away when we got home. So that's what we did--at least, we put it in the bottom of the stroller.

The next day, my husband noticed that the Gatorade was still in the bottom of the stroller, which was sitting outside in the carport. He mentioned that I might want to throw it away before one of the kids got the idea to drink it. Being the environmental steward that I am (okay, I didn't become a big recycler until we got recycling cans--newspapers and phone books were about the extent of my "green" habits), I started to unscrew the bottle to pour out the contents so I could throw the bottle in the recycling bin.

But I stopped, suddenly having visions of what else might be in there besides Gatorade. :) I said as much to my husband, saying something like, "You never know what some crazy kid or teenager might have put in there to bait some unsuspecting soul." "Um, yeah!" he replied, with the tone of, "well, duh!" The Gatorade went in the trash with a satisfying thud.

I looked carefully at my husband, departing for the gym, and added, "Of course, you were never a teenager like that, were you." There was no reply. Only a mischievous smile and a twinkle in his eye. And much laughter as I exclaimed, "Justin!" as he shut the door on his way out.

What? And tarnish his "perfect son" reputation? Naahhhh.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Emily is so funny! She and Jeremy were pounding on the piano and taking turns screaming. I asked them to stop, and she said they were making Halloween music and sounds. I said that sometimes Halloween music is sneaky and soft and maybe they could make that kind. Emily then said that she didn’t like the parts of Halloween where scary things jump out at you. I said I didn’t either. I like dressing up like someone else, getting candy, jack-o-lanterns, parties, and movies. She said she liked that too.

Then she said that the scariest parts of Halloween make her “eyes fall out, and my body fall off, and I turn into a skeleton. A real skeleton!”

She also told me what her plan is for next Halloween. She said that she’s going to dig a hole in the front yard, put a sign by the hole that says, “Don’t get in my spot!”, and then she’ll put lights all around so she can see where she’s going, and then she’ll take off her body and be a skeleton, and then she’ll hide until someone comes to the door, and then she’ll jump out and yell, “Boo!” and they’ll be so scared because they saw a real skeleton! “You know what the scariest part is?” she said. “Boo!”