Sunday, November 8, 2015

Family Unity

I was recently asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting of my ward. (Recently, defined here as probably 6 months ago)
As recent church events have rocked many boats, including my own, a dear brother of mine helped me to see that with these changes, family is put first and foremost. Our loving Heavenly Father yearns for family unity more than anything else on this earth. With this latest change in church policy, I feel that is what He is providing for, family unity above all else. With that said, I felt impressed to include the talk I gave in hopes it may help at least one of you.

 As a marriage and family therapist, I find it quite interesting that I was asked to speak on family unity. Many times what I see in my office is anything BUT family unity. I could give you examples all day of families that lack unity, sometimes in the most toxic ofways, but I find it far more important to talk about what we can do to promote family unity in our homes.  President Spencer W Kimball, in a conference talk in 1987 . The family is the basic unit of the kingdom of God on earth. The Church can be no healthier than its families. No government can long endure without strong families Isn't it great that our prophet said things nearly 30 years ago that are still as relevant, and maybe even more so, today?  

I think we all too often get caught up in the hubbub of life:... Planning the perfect party according to Pinterest... Making certain our kids are wearing the best looking clothes... Making st Patrick's day treats that are photographable for Instagram
We easily get caught up in these things and forget that what our kids need most is love. (I know I’m guilty of this) How often do we stop everything we are doing and give our children quality time? Or is our definition of quality time, being in the same room while checking Facebook or watching tv? How often do we get down on the floor with them and really play? Our children need to know they are valued, that they are loved. I have a 13 year old client who acts out all too often, mom consistently says I don't understand, i give her everything she wants, why does she still behave this way?”  We talk often over the idea that maybe all this child really needs is a hug, or encouragement. Sometimes in our busy lives it's far easier to give our kids "stuff" than to take the time to show them their worth.  
And what about our spouse's? Sometimes they are more difficult than the kids! What can we do in our marriages to promote family unity? Probably the best way, is through the example of your own unified marriage. Now does a unified marriage mean we get along 100 percent of the time, I hope not, or I'm in real trouble!  A unified marriage is  Working together for the benefit of the family as a whole; Lift up your spouse, support your husband, communicate with your wife, in these simple measures we can strengthen the unity of our marriage and therefore our families as well. Do we appreciate and thank our spouses for all of the things they do?  What about the check that just shows up in our bank account on schedule?  What about the parts of the house that ARE clean?  Or the clothes that are washed and in our drawers?  Do we just expect things to be done without appreciating the work that went into actually doing those things?  I am guilty of this myself.  Generally our first reaction when we see something that hasn't been done is to wonder why or get angry that it hasn't been done.  
Elder Scott gave a talk shortly after his beloved wife passed away.  He shared with us "I learned from my wife the importance of expressions of love.  Early in our marriage, often I would open my scriptures to give a message in a meeting, and I would find an affectionate, supportive note Jeanene had slipped into the pages. Sometimes they were so tender I could hardly talk.
Just a note, a thank you, or recognition for something our spouse or children or others have done goes a long way.   You can never hear thank you, I love you,  or I appreciate you doing that for me too many times!!

In my current job, I work as a child and family therapist to foster families and families who have adopted children from foster care.... I love everything about my job (most days) as I work with those families daily to build strong foundations and create unity in the home. I teach these things to temporary family's (foster care) as well as the often traumatized and often unhealthy biological families. As we work towards reunification of the family The number one goal is always reunification with family FIRST and when that has no chance of working we move towards adoption into a new healthy family.  Why do we follow this procedure?  Because we know how important family is.  That a family can make or break a child’s future.

Life is hard, family is hard. If it wasn't we'd never learn through our family experiences. There are days where I can choose to either laugh or cry. Humor is my friend. ... I often find myself thinking of my family in terms of "I live in a madhouse ruled by a small army that I created myself." Or as Cary Grant once said, "insanity runs in my family. In Fact it practically gallops!" Don't we all feel this way from time to time
For those of you who don't know, I am the mother of 7 fabulous kids, ranging in age from 18-down to 4. Now in many cases some might call my family a yoursmine and ours family, but if you ask me, I will gladly tell you, we are mine mine and mine family. There is no line drawn between step siblings or half siblings, because to me those titles are irrelevant, we are a family, and that's what matters.  Now does that mean we get along 100% of the time? Certainly not, Some weeks we’re lucky to hit 60%

How often do we find ourselves scolding or giving negative feedback to our Children, or to our spouse, compared to how often we are found  giving compliments and praise... I would challenge us all to find the amazing in one another, point out the positives, enlighten each other, encourage each other, be your family's best advocate and cheerleader, teach your children to pray for one another, because down the road, in the eternal picture, it's is not our birthday parties, elaborate craft projects, or perfect place settings at the table that will be valuable to us, it will be our families and our relationships with them.  
In 1st Thessolonians 5:11 Comfort yourselves together and edify one another this means we shouldEncourage one another and build each other up.”
Now, we cannot measure our family success on whether every person in the home is happy all the time, that's unrealistic, as long as you are striving to do your best, that is all you can do.  

When I was a kid, we'd go on family excursions or adventures, and every time we'd be heading back home, my younger brother would say "i didn't have any fun" to which my parents response was generally, okay we'll leave you home next time.  Was this a family failure that one kid always ended up grumpy? Of course not! What if every child was unhappy about it, would it be a family failure then? Nope, not even then.  Growing up our Monday Family night activities had themes, A Cultural activity, A make the house happy “activity” (This is when we’d improve our house in some way, indoors or out), we’d do activities to serve others, and once a month we’d do a fun family activity. - Now I could stand here and tell you that I loved all the Make the house happy and service days, but that would be far from the truth.  Most times I dreaded these activities, BUT they taught us as a family to work together, as well as what the important things in life really are.  

Now with those 7 kids, a spouse, and a few dogs at my home, saying life gets crazy is an understatement.Some days we’re just trying to survive until bedtime! I remember a time not long ago when I felt I was failing as both a wife and mother, I just couldn't get my life, or my house, or my family to be picture perfect. It was at this time, that My dear mother (She must have been inspired) sent me a Simple little sign for my home that read.  Good Moms have Sticky Floors, Messy Kitchens, Laundry Piles, and Happy Children.  This not only made me feel validated as a wife and mother, but also went deeper and reminded me of what really matters.   As you drive by my house on any given day you'll probably see 4000 bikes in the yard, a couple dishes the ten year old brought out for who knows what reason, a sock or two of the 4 year olds, Easter grass that I've never seen before, And a sidewalk lined with broken rocks as my kids, with the use of a hammer, learned what can be found inside those rocks...  A Family doesn’t need to be perfect, they just need to be united, and we strive for that everyday at our house.

This fall marks the 20th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Family.  IF you have not read it recently, I might suggest that you do!
Elder Bednar stated in 2006:  Such instruction has never been more needed than it is in the world today, as the sanctity of marriage is attacked and the importance of the home is undermined."  That was nine years ago and does it not seem to get worse every day?

Above everything else, we need to put the Savior first in our lives. I think we all know what we need to do to put the Savior first, in our lives, in our marriages, in our families.  It is sometimes just hard.  Satan is the one that likes to make it hard.  He is the master at making things hard.  He knows what will pull us away from the things that we need to be doing.    He knows that if he can mess up the head of a family unit that he might not even have to work on the kids because of the damage he can do by starting at the top.

I am so grateful for the family I grew up with as well as my own family. I am learning everyday new ways to handle things, the capacity of my patience, and how to help our family through difficult times. Growing up my parents provided many opportunities for family unity, whether this was early morning family prayer andscriptures reading or the monthly family councils we had to ensure we are all on the same page and in this together. I remember growing up my dad would take each child individually each month and give us a father's interview of sorts. In this interview he'd inquire about our lives, our friends, our Dreams.. He'd listen to our troubles and concerns, and use this time to teach valuable gospel lessons and principles. This is just one of the many ways that my busy father promoted unity in our home. 
Now with my own family I often think of my parents and Wonder how on earth they did all that they did, and survived it!  Whatever they did obviously worked, as my siblings are some of my best friends, in fact my husband often feels my family is a little too unified.
I strive every day to be a better mother and wife than I was the day before. Many days I fall short, I recognize those days, learn from those days, and move forward. It is my hope that we can all be a little kinder, a little more open, and a little more dedicated to our families. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jersi-isms (September)

Season 2 show number 2 of Hannah Montana is really funny. You shoulda watched it when you were little!

Do you know this singer? Well he's Morrissa's boyfriend cuz I spied on her about it and now I know.

Mom did you know your car has four whole cupholders? Isn't that so awesome?! It would be more Awesomer if it had ten though.

We saw deer crossing the road this morning:
mom see those deeruhs? They're either running away from Santa cuz of a fight... or, they live here.

"I like babies that are hims and babies that are hers!"

Jersi is reading me a new book. We've never read this book before so she's making up the words as she goes. She believes that the book is about cleaning your room and suddenly the girls room turned gold after she cleans it... 
"Wow Jersi, how come your bedroom never turns gold when you clean it? " she looked right at me and said "I never clean my room of course!"

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dragon Jog-a-thon

My kidlets now attend Kaysville Elementary, and apparently this school does a big jog-a-thon for the students every year.  Today was the day.  Kindergarten through 3rd grade ran together, and then the 4th through 6th grades ran later. After the local fire dept lead the kids in a warm-up they were off!  Each kid has a wrist band and they'd get a mark on their band for every lap they'd run.

 Every class came running out of the school super pumped to win this jog-a-thon...

Oaklee, in 2nd grade, ran out smiley as can be...

Dayton in First Grade running out with his class..being super ... um... reverent...

Dayton ran his little guts out, ending with 6 laps in 15 minutes!  (He lapped Oaklee as she was still completing her first lap)

Oaklee was more in it for the smiles and friendships.  A good 90% of the time she was walking/jogging whilst holding her the hand of at least one of her friends.

Kyndi's group came out next.  We cheered her on in the parent tunnel as her class ran out of the building towards the field.

After a quick warm-up, she was off!  Kyndi is a fantastic runner and super competitive.  turns out she got a major side ache after 2 laps and really struggled. She ended with 7 1/2 laps.  Go Kyndi!

During all the excitement, Jersi had a rough day.  She started out finding ladybugs and then playing at the "park" with her BFF (Reese) but then it all went south when Reese wandered off to find her mom and Jersi somehow thought that was rude.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

So Much Dancing!

My three littlest girls all started dance lessons this month. 

Kyndi: Hip Hop - but OOPS, I have no pictures (yet)  I took video of her first lesson and it was pretty cute.  She picks up the moves fairly well and it's fun to watch.

Cute Oaklee started clogging. She's so excited.
She smiles the entire time no matter what she's doing

Now here's an overload of pictures of Jersi.  She is hilarious to watch and really does a fantastic job.  She is in Pixie Dance which is simply a tap/ballet class.  She loves every minute of it.  I think her favorite part is the sparkles they get on their faces at the end of each lesson.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


BYU is ranked this year, (currently 21) and I got to go see them beat Virginia!

Gotta love my Cougars!

This man was not so happy that the Cougars won!  In other news, will somebody please buy me season tickets?
(Also, he showed up to the game in all his Utes attire)

Rushed home from the BYU game to go to the movie in the park with these kidlets
It was Despicable Me 2  ...but we left about 40 minutes in as all the Littles were running around crazy and Morrissa was on her phone.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Peach Days

Scenes from Brigham City Peach Days

I don't want to share my peach cobbler!

 Taking a much needed break after walking for roughly 5 minutes
 Daddy's favorite part of Peach Days is the Car Show.  This year it took more than 2 1/2 hours to get through the whole thing!   The kids and I did a lot of hanging out in the shade

 Tired feet, Cute Shoes.
We had to get Morrissa to work so we left early-ish from Peach days - BUT that meant Dayton and I got to watch BYU beat Texas on TV!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A New School Year

First day of school overload!  When I asked Jersi what she and I were going to do all day by ourselves, "eat all the snacks" was her response. Bring on the snacks!

Dayton starts 1st grade  - I was worried we'd have a repeat of last year where he fought to run out of the classroom - but he did fantastic!  Went right in and set to work coloring a picture!

Oaklee starts 2nd grade (and her best friend Ripley is in her class)  She wasn't nervous about school at all.

Kyndi starts 4th grade - she's in a class with lots of kids she knows from our ward - AND the best part, in her opinion, instead of chairs, they sit on exercise balls everyday.

Dropping Tate off was the hardest.  Out of all my kids the move to Kaysville was hardest on him.  He struggles making good quality friends.  He has been determined all summer to not make friends because it is easier to have no friends than to be hurt by people you believe to be friends.  As a mom this is heartbreaking.  Tate attended a summer basketball camp for 2 weeks.  I enrolled him hoping he'd make friends.  No such luck.  He doesn't even have friends in our ward because he attends his dad's ward every week.  So...needless to say, dropping him off was heart wrenching, he knew nobody. I was so nervous for him and his timid little heart.   At the end of his day he told me he knew some names of kids in his classes and was excited to tell me all about his Chinese class - BUT also told me how lonely lunch was.  Hmmm. Gonna be a rough week or so until he starts making friends.  Sure love that kid.

Of course Jersi needs her picture taken too!!  I opted to not pay to put her into preschool this year.  She is already super smart, knowing how to write most of her letters already.  I figured she and I can do preschool worksheets together throughout the year.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Best Sister Award

Snuck into my littlest brother's room today to tuck in his best friend Grover. Best Friend in this case is best defined as: creature he's been terrified of since childhood. What a fantastic sister I am to reunite them!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Goodbye to Disney

Before we left we spent some time in Downtown Disney.  Mostly to do some shopping, but the Lego Store was great too.
 I may or may not really want this hat...
 Oaks spent her money on these sunglasses
 Kyndi tried on this hat.  (This is really meant to be a hat!)
The boys got themselves some sunglasses - possibly trying to be as cool as their dad
Jersi chose a mini mouse baby...
(Kyndi chose an art set, Morrissa a bunch of treats, and Dayton a telescope and gun)

Our plan that night was to drive to Barstow and stay in a hotel.  2 reasons, a chance for swimming, and a break from doing the whole drive at once.
Well... our car had other plans as 20 minutes out of Anaheim we blew a tire.  Kamron promptly put the spare on but as it was the wrong size, we had to get a new tire before continuing home the next day.
This picture is from being pulled over on the side of the freeway
 The kids got a wee bit of swimming in the next morning in the cold before heading off to get a tire and go home.

On the way home Oaks and Jerz found themselves a new pair of shoes...

 All in All a super fun trip.  (Sharli's family got an extended stay in St George due to their car having a literal melt down on the side of the road in Hurricane)
Now I think I may need a serious vacation from that vacation!

Oh Wait!!  Some super cute random pictures I want included here (Mostly stolen from my sister)...
Sharli, Dan, Mom, Dad
 Oh how I love this little boy!  Atticus and his mouse
 I got to spend some good quality time with Jonah.  I love this kid.  I wish he and Jersi could be best buddies and live near each other!  (This is our angry faces in the mirror)
More of our parade watching...

 More of the carousel!  I LOVE Atticus here!!
 The 5 of us that kept on riding

Man I miss it all already!  But I miss my family even more!