The Big YES I’ve Always Needed

After my divorce I was a shattered person. I remember telling my therapist that it was like not just my life but ME, myself, my person was in a million tiny bits and I couldn’t put them back together. No matter how hard I tried, the pieces of what I thought my life was supposed to be and who I thought I was simply no longer fit into a cohesive whole. The best thing I could do was metaphorically scoop up the scraps and throw them in my emotional backpack and slug it along until. . .I didn’t know. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with those shards of a former person and her former dreams. My life no longer made sense and it seemed hopeless to even try to build my life back up.

What I finally realized was that I *couldn’t* put my old life back together because I *wasn’t supposed to* have my old life. Of course those pieces of my life could only be schlepped around in my emotional carry-on because, and this was an important realization, when I left that marriage I threw out the glue that held those pieces together. It was my willingness to be in that marriage and life that made it possible.

Leaving my marriage was a good thing to do. It was the right thing to do. It was, truly, what God asked me to do. (I’ll have to blog about that another day.) But once I had done it, once I was good and divorced and single with four little kids and trying to figure out how to get a decent job and a place to live, I began to doubt myself. A LOT. It seemed that there were so many NOs everywhere I looked. I encountered so many people who refused to rent to me because I was a single mom. There were so many jobs I wasn’t qualified for because I had been out of the workforce for so long and could only take jobs that would work with my kids’ school and care schedules.

This was the hardest thing though: the NOs for my kids. There were so many things they simply weren’t going to be able to do any more because I no longer had the time or the money to support them doing it. That wasn’t the life I wanted for them.

I needed a YES and I needed it badly.

Little by little I figured things out. I did find a rental. . .but it was in a different city. I did find a job. . .but it required a long commute and the pay was minuscule.  I did figure out ways for my kids to have some activities. . .but they weren’t the ones they hoped for.

I spent so much time looking for a YES from other people, I felt like my life was completely out of my control. It was scary. It was defeating. It was victimizing.

The breakthrough finally came when I was tired. I was tired of everything being a no and I was tired of being so scared and I was tired of not feeling in control of my own life.

So I decided to give myself a YES. Every time an opportunity came up to try something I had never done before I would say YES, no matter how silly it was. If someone invited me to do something I hadn’t done since high school I had to say YES. If I was scared of it then it was an automatic YES.

Everything turned around after I gave myself that YES. I did so many things and grew in so many ways! I learned muay thai kickboxing and even how to hit actual people. I learned country swing. I went on dates. I played Ultimate with a bunch of college kids I didn’t know. I learned how to do a back flip on a trampoline and off a diving board. I climbed mountains. I ran over 100 miles in races and even got second place in one! I went skydiving!! I got a job teaching elementary school and LOVED it. I eventually met my now-husband.  I played and sang and danced with my kids.

Sure, some of the YESes I gave myself led to mistakes and even some heartache, but even then mistakes and heartache were something I could say YES to and survive. Every single YES was something I could learn from and something that, even if took awhile, gave me the confidence I needed to become a whole human again.

The YES I always needed could only come from one place: ME.

So, here I am now, six years out from my divorce with a completely different life than I imagined back when I was young and married the first time. It’s a good life. I like it. A lot. But I’m getting restless and sometimes frustrated. I can feel myself slipping sometimes back into the old habit of believing my life is not in my control and that I can’t build it the way I want it. I’m finding myself looking for YESes from other people, again, hoping to stumble on to what I want.

I need to give myself another BIG YES but this time it isn’t in opportunities that come my way. I’m already in the habit of saying yes to opportunities. I said YES the other day to an impromptu dance party at a neighborhood barbecue and made it a truly memorable (and amusing night) for my family and strengthened friendships.

The YES I need is in my ideas. I spent a few days a week or so ago monitoring my own thought patterns and realized that I tell myself NO dozens of times a day in some very subtle ways. The NOs I gave myself sounded like:

  • I don’t have time.
  • That costs too much money.
  • I don’t know how.
  • I might fail.
  • It would upset *fill in the blank with any name of any person I know*
  • I’m not smart enough to figure that out.
  • I’m too tired
  • It’s too hard.
  • People will think I’m crazy.
  • People will think I’m dumb.
  • I don’t have enough experience.
  • No one will believe me or listen to me.

Any of those NOs sound familiar? I didn’t realize that these were all NOs until I looked at how effective they were at stopping me. The most effective NO comes from inside ourselves.

So that’s my new YES goal. Every single day I’m listening to my own ideas and before I can say NO I write the idea down and agree with myself to evaluate it later. If it’s an idea that is persistent or one that lights me up inside, then I give that idea the green light. I say yes and, even if it is only in a small way, I take one action to make that idea a reality. –

True story: I’ve got an idea that is BIG and SCARY and LIFE-CHANGING and will push me in a million ways. But it’s PERSISTENT and it’s EXCITING and when I talk to God about it I feel like He’s SMILING on me.  So, this one is a YES and I’m not looking back.

Because the really big, awesome, life-changing YES can only come from me.


For really reals,



Come Follow Me. . .How’s it going?

It’s been almost a quarter of the year with the new home-focused Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints curriculum, Come Follow Me. (BTW: go here to get my Come Follow Me pdfs. It’s made it a little easier for my family to get it done.) Anyone else having some ups and downs? Please tell me I’m not the only one!

Full disclosure: I’m a bit extra when it comes to depression and anxiety. Like, extra enough that this is a life-long health condition that I have to manage every day and the last five to six months has been brutal.  The pit of despair that makes up little parts of my mind and heart isn’t so little any more. Like, it’s so not-little I feel empty inside about 95% of the time.

With the focus on home being the bedrock of our family’s faith and the emphasis on women leading the effort to build that bedrock. . .being depressed feels like a double failure.

But, here’s what I’m banking on: this quote from Elder Bednar. You remember it?


Our family soul portrait is happening in small brush strokes but a few small strokes on a canvas is better than none, right?

So, sometimes our study is short. Sometimes I do it one kid at a time because they all fight so much I can’t let them be in the same room. Sometimes we all pile on the bed and the kids ask 500 questions and we all laugh and learn.

I guess that’s my only tip for success: FLEXIBILITY in your approach to building your family’s faith is the best way to be SUCCESSFUL.

How are you doing?

#grace2019, creative writing, personal, Uncategorized

The Wild Bells of Mortality

Gratia 2019“Ring out wild bells. . .ring out the old, and in the new,” goes the old Tennyson poem-turned-hymn. It continues, “The year is dying in the night. Ring out wild bells, and let him die.”

There are no bells ringing where I am tonight. And it isn’t quite the New Year. But there is someone dying, someone I don’t know well but she is close to those I love, and it has made today a somber day.  We’ve marked it with tears, fasting, prayer, and searching for words when there is really nothing to say.

Of course, in the poem the bells are also ringing to bring in the new year, to celebrate the new life that is always just around the corner. Fittingly, there is new life all around me too. Not mine, of course, but people I love are having babies. There are two sweet, wonderful, fresh, squishy new little boys in this world. They are just starting out and every moment is a discovery for them and their parents. We’ve marked their births with congratulations, gifts, and lots of baby snuggles.

These two things happen every day. In every corner of the world, in every moment, people die and people are born. These are the two most common human experiences, the great equalizers of humanity.

But I don’t always remember these things are happening every day.  Rarely do they happen with such immediacy and synchronicity. So many of us are stuck in the swings between the ringing in and the ringing out that we forget that those bells are constantly tolling for someone, somewhere.

I have a lot of friends who are also ringing out some personal wild bells because they have completed the Church of Jesus Christ’s prophet’s challenge. In October, President Russel M. Nelson challenged the women of the Church to read the entire Book of Mormon before the end of the year. Many of my friends are finishing the book over the last couple days and today they are celebrating. To hear their voices ring out with the accomplishment is to hear the Mormon testimonial equivalent of the wild bells’ “Ring out the darkness in the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be.”

I finished the Book of Mormon today. I am sure it is because of the wild bells of mortality surrounding me right now that the last chapters of Moroni rang true to me in a different way this time. Yes, at the end of the Book of Mormon comes a promise of discernment, a promise of truth-finding. And the end contains an excellent exegesis on faith (see Moroni 7: 20-44). The verses on charity are some of the most stirring in scripture (see 7:40-48).

But at the very end of the end is something that is, to me, greater than all of those things put together. It is something sprinkled in verses throughout the entire text of the Book of Mormon but concentrated especially in two of the last three verses. They say:

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

Did you catch it? The word that rings through those verses?


When asked to distill the message of the Book of Mormon to only a few words, Moroni leaves us with the most powerful message he can: the grace of Christ is sufficient.

It is sufficient for all things. It sufficient to embrace the pain of death, to rejoice in the magic of new life, and to steadies through all the swings in between.

As the wild bells of mortality ring out and ring in all around me, there’s one word I hear in their peals. It’s the word that I will carry into the new year. Let it fill my life and the life of all those I encounter.