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2019 word for the Year: Joy

26 Dec


Take joy home,
And make a place in thy great heart for her,
And give her time to grow, and cherish her!
Then will She come and often sing to thee
When thou art working in the furrows; ay,
Or weeding in the sacred hour of dawn.
It is a comely fashion to be glad—
Joy is the grace we say to God.
—J. Ingelow

When my husband asked me to speak in church a few weeks ago on the topic of “the relationship between Joy and Gratitude” my first thought was,

“He doesn’t know it, but I’ve been preparing for this talk all year!”

Every year as part of my new year’s resolutions, I choose a word as a focus for the year, and last December, I knew already that my word for 2019 needed to be “JOY.” I felt strongly that I needed to learn how to be joyful despite my circumstances—that I needed to learn how to return to joy.  On Dec 18, 2018, I wrote in my journal:

This morning I woke up at 4a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I made breakfast,  washed the dishes and had an hour to read my scriptures, all before 6a.m.  I read in Mosiah 3 where King Benjamin explains that the wicked have a guilt which causes them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery.  It struck me that if misery  is the place far from God, that joy is a closeness to God, and that the further I get from God, the more miserable I become.  I guess this is a “well duh” moment, but it seemed  so significant to me this morning that the answer to happiness—not just eternal happiness, but every day TODAY happiness—is to stay close to the Lord.

I had forgotten that flash of insight until this week when I looked back through my journal to find something else.

What is Joy?

Joy is a connection.

Joy is a child playing with a puppy or a kitten.

Joy is a new baby.

Joy means someone is glad to see me.

Joy is our response to Grace—the Greek word for grace translates as unmerited favor or unmerited specialness.  Just think—you are special to Jesus Christ without having to work for it.  You are special just because you are you.  (from Joy Starts Here,  E. James Wilder, et al.)

President Nelson says, “For Latter-Day saints, Jesus Christ is joy.”

Alma described to his son what happened to him when he called on the Savior in his darkest time (Alma 36:21) he said, “Oh what joy and what marvelous light I did behold; yea my soul was filled with joy.”

This is not a blog post about how being grateful will keep you from being sad.  We all experience sadness, discouragement, heartache, and pain in this life, and the thing we do not need is some well-meaning person guilt-tripping us that if we’d just “count our blessings,” we could be happy in a snappy.

Lehi tells us (2Nephi 2:23) that in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had “no joy, for they knew no misery” and did no good, “for they knew no sin.”  After Adam and Eve leave the garden and are taught the plan of redemption, Adam expresses his gratitude, saying (Moses 5:10-11), “Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy…” and Eve says, “Were it not for our transgression, we never should have known the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth to all the obedient.”

I don’t think gratitude pulls us out when we’ve fallen in a pit.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ is what rescues and redeems us from the pit.  I do think gratitude helps us stay out of the pit as much as possible.

Here is what I do know: it is not possible to be grateful and resentful at the same time.  It is not possible to be grateful and bitter at the same time.  It is not possible to be mean-spirited and grateful at the same time.

Sister Bonnie D Parkin taught

Luke chapter 17 records the experience of the Savior when He healed 10 lepers. As you recall, only one of the cleansed lepers returned to express his appreciation. Isn’t it  interesting that the Lord did not say, “Your gratitude has made you whole”? Instead, He said, “Thy faith hath made thee whole.”

The leper’s expression of gratitude was recognized by the Savior as an expression of his faith. As we pray and express gratitude to a loving but unseen Heavenly Father, we are also expressing our faith in Him. Gratitude is our sweet acknowledgment of the Lord’s hand in our lives; it is an expression of our faith.

One of my favorite talks by President Eyring is one where he tells about being inspired to keep a journal where he recorded each day how he had noticed the hand of God in his family’s life that day.  He said:

I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I  was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us  that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what  He had done.  …  More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more  certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ.   And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.

Sister Parkin said:

Gratitude requires awareness and effort, not only to feel it but to express it. Frequently   we are oblivious to the Lord’s hand. We murmur, complain, resist, criticize; so often we are not grateful. In the Book of Mormon, we learn that those who murmur do not know “the dealings of that God who … created them.”3 The Lord counsels us not to murmur because it is then difficult for the Spirit to work with us.  Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God’s love. This  heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude  happiness and carries divine influence.

Joy is connection with God.  What creates that connection? Expressing gratitude!

About half-way through this year, I decided that I needed help to learn how to return to joy—Heavenly Father was sending me the messages, but I wasn’t putting them together alone. So I started working with a really great counselor, and these are the things I’ve learned to do to make a place for joy in my heart.  All of them, it turns out, are rooted in gratitude:

  1. I let go of worrying over something that wasn’t my responsibility and feel gratitude that someone else will take care of it.
  2. I express appreciation and give compliments to my family (especially my husband) aloud, and not just in my head.
  3. I have learned to watch for the encouragement and affirmation that God sends to me, often through the words and actions of others.

This week the verses in James 1:2-4 spoke to my heart:

Count it all joy when ye fall into many afflictions; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect (finished) work, that ye may be perfect (complete) wanting nothing.

Count it all joy!

In Luke 7 Jesus eats dinner with Simon, a Pharisee.  A woman comes in and washes the Savior’s feet with her tears and dries them with her hair.  Simon is offended—he thinks that if Jesus knew what this woman had done, he wouldn’t allow her to touch him.  Jesus tells Simon a parable about 2 debtors.  One owed 500 pence, and one 50 pence.  When neither could pay, the man frankly forgave them both.  Jesus asked Simon who would love the man most, and Simon answered, “he who was forgiven most.”  Simon didn’t understand the parable.  He didn’t understand that the two debtors were him and the woman.  Simon did not think he needed to repent of much, and thus he felt no gratitude or joy for the Savior.  But the woman who was forgiven much, her love and gratitude and joy overflowed.

President Nelson said:

Joy is powerful, and focusing on joy brings God’s power into our lives. As in all things, Jesus Christ is our ultimate exemplar, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” Think of that! In order for Him to endure the most excruciating experience ever endured on earth, our Savior focused on joy!

May you find more room for joy in your hearts in the coming year,

❤ Glowworm


This is the day which the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalms 118:24

And the saints rejoiced in their redemption, and bowed the knee and acknowledged the Son of God as their Redeemer and Deliverer from death and the chains of hell. Their countenances shone, and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them, and they sang praises unto his holy name. Doctrine & Covenants 138:23-24


Tulsa Rocked Out

9 Nov

img_5923These knuckle-heads went to their second 21Pilots concert.  Looks like they had lots of fun.


Spanish Poetry

12 Feb

via Spanish Poetry

Christmas Crafting 2018

26 Dec

Merry Christmas!

Since the twins were born, and I think maybe even longer ago–possibly for the last 6 years–I have not attempted making anything for Christmas. I just accepted the impossibility of making anything with twin babies in the house. This year the Christmas crafting bug could not be denied. It was my turn to give to my little brother, Sammy, and My best idea was to make a family version of Pit (a favorite game in our family.) Its a trading game. Usually the commodities traded are things like Wheat, Sugar, Corn, and Barley …a.k.a. Stock Market commodities. I made it with pictures of our family, so the commodities are Sammy, Katie, Eddie, etc. Mom is the Bear card, and Dad is the Bull card. 😂😂. We had great fun playing on Christmas Day.

Let me tell you, it was more cutthroat than regular pit because the stakes felt higher.

How I made it:

I used the paint program on my computer to crop the pictures and add the point values. (Sammy got to be 100 since it was his present, and then I just went in reverse order. Peter suggested that I should have made our birth years the point values—which would have been cool-but significantly shortened the point spread.)

I printed the “wallet size” option, which was perfect for the cards.

I bought two 88 cent packs of playing cards, making sure to get the same pattern backs. I used double-sided tape to attach the pictures. Then I borrowed my friend’s laminator to laminate them. Originally I was just going to use clear packing tape to “laminate” them—and that might have been better, because they are pretty slippery and thicker than regular cards, it took a couple of rounds to get used to holding them.

However, I worried that the packing tape wouldn’t hold up as well.

I also made a birthday chart for my in-laws. They needed one :).

Now I know why most people use vinyl lettering instead of painting. I didn’t sand the board with a smooth enough grit, and the paint bled under the stencil edges pretty badly. So lesson learned: use at least 3 levels (probably more) of sandpaper , and just use vinyl cutouts. I fixed the big letters with a little paint brush. The little letters bled so badly that I gave up on that stencil and just painted the months freehand. They turned out better than I expected.

This board was 3/4″ by 6″ by 28″.


Home School & Toddlers: Get Help!

15 Aug

via Home School & Toddlers: Get Help!

Home Schooling and Twin Toddlers

18 Jul

Home Schooling with toddler twins is extra hard. Find out my tips!!

Small and Simple Home School

TWINS (2)If you are a home schooling mother with twins or multiple toddlers, I want to share with you the things I tried that worked for us.

But first, the background story:

I have twin boys who are almost 3.

The year that the twins were 1-year-old, was a pretty good year, school-wise.  It was our first year home schooling, so I gave myself permission to not be perfect.

The twins were happy to sit by me on the couch, drinking their milk, while we did sort of an extended morning time version of home school.  I read aloud and my students narrated.  It was a beautiful time.  By May, as the twins reached 18 months and demanded more attention, school got harder and harder.   With a sigh of relief, we took summer break, and I reassured myself that school would be easier in the fall.  After all, I…

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Is Motherhood a waste of brains?

12 May

via Is Motherhood a Waste of Brains?