May 25, 2016

You are of infinite worth

Had an amazing day today by myself. I was worried about the busyness of life and trying to get inspiration for my conference coming up, but instead was reminded of something I know everyone in my house needs:

To understand their purpose
To connect with God to find their mission
And to learn what their spiritual gifts are

These are three of the reasons we are on this earth. But before we can find the answer to these questions we first have to know our worth and to truly see ourselves as God sees us.

Does your family know they have value? Do you see value in your own life?

These are struggles in all of us. At one time or another in our life we question if we are important, valued, needed, or wanted . . . or worth anything to anyone.

Yet, when someone tries to tell us we are . . . we can't hear it in them as love, until we can find it first in ourselves. And ironically, even when we think we can give it to other, we will fail until we can give it to ourselves. 

So to find love on this earth we have to first find it from heaven. Because the earthly love that gives us a high for a minute--when it comes in the form of another person or thing . . . can easily be taken from us. 

What are your eternal gifts? Do you believe God created you just the way you are on purpose? Do you see that His masterpiece is unique and beautiful (or handsome for you men)? Do you only believe that when things are going your way . . . or even when you make a mistake?

The cool thing about our Heavenly Father is his infinite love. He loves us no matter what. So why can't we?

The truth that the darkness in this world wants you to avoid is that YOU CAN. 

Trauma, fear, anger, hate. Those lies tell you that you will only be lovable when you are void of them. You can only love yourself when those emotions are not present. 


and will be loved forever by God. 

Once we embrace that, our mistakes are less scary. Other peoples words hold no weight, and we no longer take personal another person's issue, even when they try to make it ours. The world looks brighter, because we don't have to worry what hard thing comes our way. It won't change that truth. 

Hard things will come. Most days have a version of them. But hold to that truth. You are not alone. You are not forgotten. And you will always be loved. 

God created each of us with a unique purpose and gifts. Where ever you are, and where ever you have been, has been your journey to find strength inside yourself so when you find your worth it can and will be POWERFUL. 

You are a powerful being, with a warrior spirit fighting to remember truths that have been there all along. A unique beautiful gift to the world. 

A family worth blending: 10 epic fails

Last night Shawn and I were getting ready for bed and decided we needed to do a five minute video on the struggles of being a step parent for our blended family segment. 

Thirty minutes later we had covered 10 of our epic fails. So here you go. Blended families, many of you will relate to some of these epic fails of ours, but we would love to hear about yours! Also maybe a list of 10 of your triumphs that will help others in their crazy cycle. 

We all have a cycle of our unique challenges. Weaknesses in our families. Broken pieces in ourselves.  Insecurities and annoyances. But I know that these are there to help us fight to become stronger. The more we become aware of our personal cycles, the easier it will be to overcome and stop them before they get out of control. 

Hope everyone has a great Wednesday! Thank you in advance for your comments here and on Youtube about your crazy cycle, your families epic fails, and the ways that you have overcome them! 

We appreciate all the emails and stories! Helps this journey not feel so daunting and lonely. All families have challenges, blended or not! So I hope all of you know you aren't alone, on those days when it feels like your house is falling apart and you just want to give up. So many of us have been there. The pain, the fear, and the heart ache that life brings is real! But it is worth the fight. 

Keep fighting families! We believe in you. God believes in you! The real enemy in our lives is not each other. So don't give up! Every minute of every day fight to bring light to your life. It will always win. 

May 23, 2016

Gearing up for summer

Gearing up for summer. Sharing a few ideas to strengthen yourself and your children to prepare for a successful and organized summer. 

Summer can be overwhelming for us mothers. I can promise you the mixed emotions are in all of us. Excited to be free of due dates and deadlines, but scared to entertain and referee children who easily get bored and fight with each other. The internal battle is real. 

With six kids at home, these are a few of the ways my family is gearing up to face the challenges before they come up. 

Fighting for each other . . . teaming up in our battles.

Finding our truths . . . so we can live in them.

And organizing our days so we can create, learn, and play with less chaos. 

What are you doing in these last few weeks to prepare for the fun summer can be?  I would love to hear your ideas and what has and hasn't worked for you in the past.

Only bad days

When anyone in our house is having a bad day Tytus has always said, "The only bad day is if we forget about Jesus." 
So many times his little voice has been the reminder for me to snap out of a bad moment. But last week it was him having the hard days. 
Many of you know he has horrible reactions to food, and after a crazy weekend of eating out and being very relaxed about his diet he had many rough days that followed.
I tried everything to help him, but nothing was working. 
So one afternoon I found myself in my closet crying my face off. Asking all the wrong questions and telling God how hard it was for me to have a son who turned into the hulk when his diet wasn't perfect. How unfair it was that he told me that week he hated himself and me every single day. How tired I was and how I deserved an easier road after all we had already been through. 
The closet was quiet for a while. Then pretty soon this clear thought came to my mind--"If this is hard for you, imagine what it is for him."
Instantly I saw my son as I know God sees him--the real person struggling. 
I ran out into the living room and called his name. I found him sitting on the pantry floor. I grabbed him up and said, "Tytus I am so sorry that you have to battle this every single day. That when everyone else is eating treats you patiently watch. That you only have a few foods you can eat, and most of the time they don't taste that good. I am so sorry how hard this must be for you. And it makes me mad, and sad, and I am hurting for you. And then I am the one crying about it."
He wiped a tear from my face and said, "Mom. I am sorry, this must be hard for you. Thank you for taking care of me even when I don't deserve anything." We hugged and cried. 
I tell you what. Being a parent is super hard sometimes. Especially in a world that makes us believe that anything hard isn't worth doing. 
Well I can promise you moms. We have a pretty big job to do. It isn't glamorous, but our Heavenly Father is so thankful He has willing woman who can fight these battles. 
Children. They aren't burdens--they are blessings, to help us remember that the bad days are when we forget about Jesus. He never leaves us.

The Sacred Gift of Childbirth

I recently learned of a new book that I want to share with all you young moms. Two of my sisters had babies about a month ago, and watching them go through the joys of that phase of life again got me thinking about all of my experiences as a new mother. 

So in light of becoming an aunt again, and missing the baby stage, I asked Marie to introduce herself and tell us a little bit about her new book. 

(Click on picture to find it on Amazon)

The Sacred Gift of Childbirth

Hi!  My name is Marie Bigelow.  I live in Boise, ID, with my awesome husband and cool kiddos.  I love being a mom, and I love helping other moms as they prepare for and give birth.  For almost 13 years, I’ve been helping women “stand” as they welcome their children into the world.  As a doula, childbirth educator, and mother, I have been able to witness and support the miracle of birth hundreds of times.  And each time I do I am reminded of one thing. 
God loves us. 
At the beginning of my career, I viewed birth the way most people do.  As a physical event that brings a baby out of a mother’s body.  But several years into my career I began learning about the physiological aspect of birth (what’s happening inside the mother’s brain while she gives birth), and it changed everything for me.  I learned that while a woman is laboring and giving birth, her brain undergoes dozens of chemical reactions that make her feel joyful, ecstatic, loving, nurturing, protective, and empathetic.  And when I learned that, I thought one thing:
God loves us.
It was clear to me that God had a hand in it all.  That He had designed every chemical reaction to help a woman transform into a mother as she gave birth.  It testified of His love for His daughters, as He created so many avenues to strengthen and magnify His daughters as they became mothers. 
I want all women to come to see the sacred nature of childbirth, and put God and faith back into this miraculous process.   That’s why I wrote my new book “The Sacred Gift of Childbirth: Making Empowered Choices for You and Your Baby”. 

I wanted a resource that helped my clients feel God’s love for them as they prepared for childbirth, but I also wanted a resource that addressed the unacceptable trends in American birth today.  Most of my clients are unaware that America’s maternal mortality rate is the highest in the industrialized world, and have little understanding that the medical interventions we think are making birth safer are actually making it more dangerous for mothers and for babies.  My book honestly discusses the benefits and risks of birthing interventions so women can make choices based in scientific data, as opposed to cultural norms and beliefs. 
Written from an LDS perspective, everything I write can be backed up with scripture, doctrine, or scientific data, so readers can feel confident in the information they are getting.  The book is broken up into 4 sections.

Section 1: God’s Plan for Birth.  This section describes the physical and physiological processes of birth, and teaches how birth fits into the plan of salvation.  Readers will learn to see God’s hand throughout the birthing process and understand how birth edifies and strengthens a woman.
Section 2: The Medicalization of a Miracle.  This section goes over common birth interventions, (epidurals, inductions and cesareans) and discusses the benefits and risks of each.  It includes the most up-to-date statistics on American birth and is filled with scientific information to educate and empower women as they learn about their options. 
Section 3:  Making Birth Decisions.  This section gives readers decision-making tools, so couples can prayerfully and scientifically understand which type of birth will be safest and most satisfying for their personal situation.  It covers everything from choosing a care provider to learning how to make quick decisions in the moment as labor progresses. 
Section 4: How Birth Affects the Family.  This section discusses emotional outcomes for women after giving birth, and discusses how postpartum depression can affect a woman psychologically and spiritually.  It then gives advice on how to prepare our daughters for childbirth.  It ends with a chapter written specifically for husbands to learn how to support their wives during pregnancy and birth.   
Not only is my book the most current resource on the scientific aspects of childbirth, but it’s the only scientific resource available that also include the spiritual aspect of birth.  It is the only resource that can prepare you physically, emotionally and spiritually for birth. 
And I know it’s exactly what women need to truly understand all the aspects of giving birth.
If you want to empower yourself spiritually, emotionally, and physically for your birth, you can purchase my book at Deseret Book, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.  You can also get signed copies through my personal website

Marie Bigelow is a certified birth doula, childbirth educator, music therapist and author.  She was recently awarded the prestigious Advanced Doula Designation for her contribution to the field of maternal and fetal health.  Marie is passionate about improving outcomes for women and babies, and strives to give her clients the highest quality of care and support available. To learn more about Marie, her book, and her birthing services, visit

May 18, 2016

Who are you becoming?

 Who Are You Becoming?
By Nathan Ogden

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

WHEN LIFE HITS YOU SQUARE IN THE JAW, you are confused. While taking in your surroundings, trying to piece together a plan of action, your ears are still ringing from the impact. What just happened—is this for real? I hurt all over. I can’t deal with this right now. I’m scared and don’t know what to do.
It’s okay to be confused in these situations. It’s perfectly normal not to have an answer when asked, “What do we do now?” I know I didn’t, and I still don’t have all of the answers. Choices I make for one situation don’t always work on another. It’s an ongoing process that if you want to succeed, you must continually make purpose filled choices that allow you to move forward. Even if it’s just making the decision that you won’t give up. This is a step forward and that gives you a direction to go.
Deep emotional injuries, feeling completely broken inside and wanting to quit, have been companions of mine for some time. My life was mirroring perfection until I was abruptly blindsided and thrown into a world I had only heard of, but never thought I’d experience. I couldn’t imagine this nightmare would ever happen to me. We never do.
14 years ago I severely broke my neck snow skiing leaving me paralyzed throughout most of my body, adopting a new title of “quadriplegic”. Over the next year with tremendous hard work I regained almost half of the function I lost. I was going to walk again and I knew it! My life would be normal again.
Just over a year after my skiing accident I came down with a critical case of pneumonia and was rushed to the hospital unconscious. While getting x-rays of my lungs I was dropped off the table and broke my neck again. This time higher up. I lost the use of my hands, triceps, and any movement I had regained in my legs. As much as I’ve tried over the years none of that physical movement I lost that fateful morning has returned.
Life can be hard! It can be paralyzing and make you feel powerless! I fought so hard to progress that far in my recovery only to have it ripped out from under me. After the second neck break I was not only suffering from another physical impairment but was agonizing about my future mentally as well. So many others looked up to me as their example of strength and courage by how I’ve handled these situations.
I asked myself, “Am I strong enough to keep pushing forward? What do I do now? How do I keep the hope and faith that everything will be all right? I still want to walk again!”
Life is an endless process to become someone. Every experience you have and every choice you make is molding you into the person you are becoming. Are your choices creating the person you want to be, in the life you want to live?
You might think you didn’t want to become the person you are today. When you were younger you had a whole different plan in mind of what you would be when you grew up. You didn’t choose this life and the struggles you’ve faced. That’s out of your control, right?

There is a lot of truth to that. We don’t always choose the trials we’ve had to endure. However, we have made relevant decisions during those trials that are continually shaping ourselves into what others see, and more importantly, what we see in ourselves.
Who do you want to become, and what steps will it take to get there? If you want to be known as an honest person that consistently tells the truth, no matter how uncomfortable and embarrassing the consequence, you can choose to do that. If your dream is to live a long happy life married to the same person, then put your spouse’s needs first and never let your eyes wander. If being financially successful is your goal, then put in the energy, sacrifice and hard work ethic so you can attain that dream.
When you know where you want to end up, then it helps to create a roadmap of what you must do to get there. The path we take in this life is rarely the one we hoped for. There will be roadblocks, disasters and even sinkholes that will make you feel your desired path is no longer available.
Zig Ziglar put it best when he said, “When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal, you do not change your decision to get there.”
Sitting at home with a second crippling broken neck was devastating. I was staring at the realization that I would most likely never stand up taller than my wife again. There would be no need for her to get on her tippy toes to kiss me.
Imagine all the activities you use your fingers for each day that make you productive and happy. Playing the piano was so inspiring and relaxing to me when the pressures of life weighed heavy on my shoulders. That peaceful remedy had now vanished. Throwing a tennis ball into a local pond for my black lab, Sage — one of my best friends—was no longer an option. I particularly loved bending over and holding hands with my 2-year- old daughter before church. She felt like a princess in her pretty white dress and ponytails as we danced around the family room together in our pretend castle. Truth be told, she made me feel more special than I ever did her.
Of course there’s much more to it than this, but these are some of the little joys in life I will miss. All these tiny snippets of wonder are now gone and I can’t choose to bring them back. Only through my mind’s eye will I re-live these very ordinary experiences that have now become extraordinary memories.
Now what? Do I quit and let others run my life because it’s too hard, or do I push forward?
I stumbled through every emotion imaginable, from feeling completely indestructible to a brief thought of suicide. Hopelessness, remorse, resentment and despair, were all invited to my party. On the surface everyone saw a very positive and driven individual who wouldn’t give up. Deep down I’m not sure if anyone, even my wife, knew the terrifying doubt and fear I was suppressing.
“This is not who I wanted to be. People expect more of me. I expect more of me.” Though I felt a great deal of loss, I never did lose one thing — my faith. Faith that life could be better. Faith that I can do more. Faith that I can become the person I’ve always envisioned.
I’m not saying that all pain, suffering, and feelings of despair have good that come from them. I don’t believe this to be true. There are terrible acts of destruction to the mind, body, and spirit out there. I do believe that even though these instances may occur, there is an opportunity for growth and strength to come from them. Making the most of these experiences can be extremely difficult and challenging to comprehend. It is up to you to sift through the rubble, find the good, and decide to apply those learned principles in your life.
Life hit me square in the jaw and it hurt. It hurt bad! Not many people will break their neck on two separate occasions, leaving more of their body paralyzed each time. I came to realize this was all part of my purpose, that there was a mission I needed to accomplish. What that mission is, has been an ongoing process to discover.
What are your aspirations in life, and are you on track to accomplish them? Don’t expect this transformation of becoming who you desire, to happen overnight. It takes time and discipline to change thoughts and behavior. Always be willing to say, “Bring it on,” because you are capable of greatness, and no one can generate this forward momentum but you. You must believe in yourself and have faith that your life will become everything you’ve ever dreamed of. It’s time to live a life unfrozen!
Ask yourself these two questions to get yourself started:
1-   Who do I want to become and why?
2-   What three changes will I make in my life to get there?

My name is Nathan. I will never physically stand again in this life, but I choose to stand unfrozen. 

Thank you so much Nathan for sharing your journey with us. Please go check out Nathan's new book UNFROZEN. It gives superior systems to move from paralysis to progress. Allowing yourself to not be mentally paralyzed and start living unfrozen. #livingUNFROZEN

Check out his website You can even get an autographed copy. Select the “buy now” button. It’s also available on Amazon and Kindle.

Here is a great video of his family that shows just how strong they have all been using these tools and living life unfrozen. 

Related articles: Changed

The Moments We Stand is coming to South Carolina. June 4th A Reason to Stand conference

Let me feel . . . so I can let go

First off . . . don't you love the random faces Youtube pics to set as the video picture? Yes, me too. 

Thank you for your sweet emails, those of you who have been sharing how these tools have helped strengthened your relationships these last few weeks. 

I am so grateful for modern technology that lets me record my thoughts I want to blog about on days where I have no time! Today on my grocery store outing I starting thinking about many things. A friend who's husband passed away last week and other friends struggling to find ways to help her family; some of my kids who are struggling; my own marriage that seems to have ups and downs daily. And how to apply all the truths I know to these relationships and scenerios.

And as I have been learning new skills, I am trying so hard to apply them! Like I said the other day . . . we all want to be better than we were the day before. Application comes a lot less natural than the learning of new ideas. So we need to be patient with ourselves. We won't be perfect right away. It is application and testing that will help us really gain a strong testimony of the skills we learn. The universe has defiantly been putting mine to the test and asking me to learn to be more patient and loving along the way. 

One day at a time friends. One day at a time. We are all overwhelmed, tired, worn down, and exhausted some days. Tired of doing the same patterns that get us to a place where we feel we aren't being heard or seen in the way we want to be. 

Imperfect beings striving to live perfectly in an imperfect world . . . well not today. Today we embrace our fears, or anger, and our hurt. Not to allow them to be our allies anymore hiding deep inside, trying to "protect us" from pain. But embrace them and allow them to feel so they can stop fighting and begging to have all the power. 

Kind of like a young child who acts out, because any attention is better than no attention, our emotions will continue to cry from the pit we have hid them in until we can acknowledge them in healthy ways. 

The people around us need that as well. To feel validated and seen. Acknowledging their struggle, without forcing your view on how they can fix it, can and will change your relationships. You will become a safe place for others to use as a sounding board as they fight their own battles and find answers to their problems. 

I am learning so many knew things and I enjoy sharing and learning from all of you. 

What things are you learning or trying today to make your world a better place? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment or email me topics you want to hear about, or struggles you are overcoming with new skills! We are all in this together. We are fighting similar battles, just different wars. But we aren't alone. Thank goodness for that. 

May 17, 2016

How does it feel when parents divorce

Jordyn's turn to tell us how it feels on her end of our blended family. How does it feel when parents divorce? 

I asked her a few questions and she answered:
How did it feel when your parents divorced? 
What was the hardest part then and now?
What would you tell yourself if you could go back?
What advise would you have for a kid going through it now?
Advise for parents getting a divorce?

And then she just talked about different topics she wanted to say. 

Thank you sweet Jordyn for sharing your heart!!

May 16, 2016

Complementing a bad day

Sometimes I feel so lazy just recording myself talking, but with the end of school and six kids to go on field trips, and recitals, and ball games . . . this is all the blogging I have made time for! 

Todays thoughts are about perspective. A few ideas that we all already know, but it seems so easy to forget. 

and loving

Try these little ideas for those around you, and just watch how your world will change inside of you.

May 13, 2016

Complement and Serve

When you get up early to mop the floor and your husband has already beat you to it...
We have been having a lot of talks lately about how we show/receive love and how service and complements can change a negative day for each member of our family. 
And action--for me-- is way more powerful than words. 
Do you know what your spouse's love language is? It makes a big difference. If you are showing them love and don't feel like it is being received (this has been us for years), watch how they try to show you love. It is usually not the way you receive it...but how they wished you would give it! 
Kids too!! Some love: words, time, service, gifts, touch. If you find a person's love languages it makes showing them love a lot easier. And you don't have to guess if they would rather have a foot rub, a late night walk, or a floor mopped. (Let's be honest...I will take all of these as love) 
But the point is...we all have to try! That's the hardest part of all. Stepping outside ourselves is not always natural--but so worth it when trying to strengthen anything that is weak. Especially a tired marriage! But don't wait for it first. Be the difference! You will be surprised how it changes broken hearts and sparks parts of love that have felt dormant. 
Happy Friday!!

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