Where I Stand on My Journey

     We each are on a journey back to God. Each of us will travel a road unlike anyone else’s because each of us have different things to learn and experience.
     I haven’t been very public about my spiritual journey of late. Many of you know that I no longer attend the LDS church. Many of you probably had no idea. I haven’t attended church since the last Sunday of 2014. My inactivity isn’t something that happened gradually over time. I went every week, every month, to every meeting up until Cameron and I both felt that the Lord had given us permission to step away. It’s not that the time commitment was too much. It’s not that our lives had run aground and we felt unworthy. I realized that in all my experience with church, I was missing a personal relationship with the Lord, and as I started to seek His word and His will and His voice, my experiences at church became more confusing and less satisfying. We had conversations with both our Bishop and Stake President about our thoughts and understanding. Neither felt the need to chastise us, disfellowship us, or take away our recommends. Neither could answer any of the questions that we had about why the church is the way it is now, why it looks so different from what Joseph started.
     We didn’t have our temple recommends revoked, but they’ve since expired, and that’s ok. I appreciate the temple for all that it taught me. I’m grateful for what I learned through its symbolism about how to go to the Lord and converse with Him through the veil in this life. I’m grateful for the symbolic sealing that gave me promises of what the Lord had in store for me and my family if we were able to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. But I’m surprised that I don’t miss it more. Perhaps realizing that the temple wasn’t the ultimate destination had a lot to do with that.
     We still take the sacrament. We gather with a group of people. We take turns bringing the bread and the wine (and grape juice). We kneel together and bless the Lord’s supper before partaking of it. Using whole perfect loaves of bread and seeing them ripped into pieces has been a profound experience, as has partaking of the wine which is indeed a bitter cup to swallow. I don’t like wine. I don’t get why anyone would, but it’s made partaking of the Lord’s supper a lot more meaningful for me. (For the record, I switched to grape juice as soon as Cameron and I started trying for baby #5.)
     We still pay tithing. Instead of paying it to an organization, we gather it among our little group and use it to help those among us that need assistance. If we have more tithing than we have needs, we are able to help friends or family members even if they don’t meet with us. We do everything by common consent. That’s a challenge at times, but reclaiming the responsibility to make those decisions has been miraculous and edifying, and we’ve seen a tremendous amount of good come from it.
     We gather to study the scriptures for several hours weekly. Other times we will gather for a prayer meeting, or to pray and to give blessings to any that wish it. We try to keep the Lord involved in every aspect of our meetings, and to seek his direction as often as possible.
     The Book of Mormon has become more meaningful to me. I’ve always known it was the word of God, but looking at it now, allowing the words to speak for themselves has helped me better understand what is expected of me. It also seems clear that I should be expecting Godly manifestations. The scriptures are filled with accounts of angels, miracles, and people hearing God’s voice and seeing His face. I am trying to have the faith to really believe that those kinds of Godly interactions can be a real and ever present part of my life.
     I’ve also taken a great interest in the Lectures on Faith. They were once part of the Doctrine and Covenants and are an amazing resource for understand the character, perfections and attributes of God. I’m grateful that those theological lessons taught by Joseph Smith were recorded and preserved for us.
     Cameron and I have changed the way we read scriptures with our kids. Instead of trying to fight through 10 verses or a whole chapter, we will focus on a verse or two or three. We will talk about what all the words mean, and try to help them understand the message of how these verses are directing us back to the Lord. We don’t remember to do this as often as we should. But whenever we do, it’s incredible to see how curious the kids are, how much they really want to know and understand now that we’re willing to slow down and talk about it, and to especially encourage them to ask as many questions as they want.
     I talk about God a lot more than I used to. I can’t figure out why it is that God wasn’t a frequent topic of conversation for me before. I’ve always believed in God, known he was there, known he wanted to talk to me. But somehow I thought that bringing Him into everyday conversation would be preachy or corny or irreverent. I used to give a lot of credit to the church and to my religion, without acknowledging God’s hand. I used to think it was the same thing, but now that I don’t have a church to fall back on and rely on, I see just how much I left the Lord out of my day to day thoughts, thinking that being part of a church was satisfying my need for Godly interaction in my life.
     I really do believe that the only way to salvation is through Christ, and Christ alone. I believe I must follow God’s commandments that he gives me, and in order to do that, I have to have a robust enough communication with God that I know what he is asking of me.
     Leaving the church was in no way comfortable for me. It felt strange, and I was worried about what everyone would think of me. But after fighting to reconcile what it meant to obey God alone, while being told that all I needed to do was just obey the prophets, I finally decided that I could no longer pretend those two things could co-exist.
     Agency. It’s what the war in heaven was fought over. It is essential, it is perhaps the most important thing that the Lord wants us to have. And when we give up our agency to any organization, man, religion, etc… we are forfeiting our greatest gift. The point of this life is to make our own decisions, to learn, to seek God and hopefully come back into his presence. I want to be sure that I maintain my own agency, that I’m not just following the rules and tenants of an organization. That would feel like trusting an organization instead of trusting God. Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. He is the only way. I have to keep reminding myself of that.
     I say all of this, not to convince anyone that I’m right, but just because I felt like I needed to say it, to claim my own thoughts. This is what I think. This is what I believe. This is why I am where I am. This is an update about me. I am no one. I am nothing. I can only rely on God and hope that he will continue to teach me, to correct me in all my mistakes, misconceptions, and misunderstandings. I have many.
     I don’t know where you are in your life, what you believe, or why you believe it. I might have a general idea, but I’m guessing I don’t know the whole story. For my part, I’ll just say that these things matter to me and I take them very seriously. So, for those that care about me and my welfare, and are interested in the course of my life, whether you agree with me or not, I thought I would put into words where I am.
     In many ways I’m now on the outside, and I’m surprisingly ok with that.


I’m not sure if it was because it was nearing the end of summer, but Lessi was having a tough day, really wanting some attention, so after getting mad, I went online and found several little science experiments we could do. This one with the food coloring in milk was really fun.IMG_5297

Lessi made a face out of her ice cream. Those are tiny york peppermint patties and a licorice.IMG_5303

Lessi also went to theater camp at the high school. She was a pirate. She did a great job and it was a cute little play. Nice and short.

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While I was gone one day (can’t remember where I was) Cameron took Eli’s training wheels off. That was all he needed. I don’t think Cameron had to give him any pointers or hold onto the back or anything. He just took off on two wheels.


And here’s Jace in his thinking chair again. That blue glow on his tummy is from an iPod. :) And then we have Jace eating yogurt by himself, not so successfully.IMG_5315 IMG_5321

First day of school! I think it was Aug 24th. Sophie in 2nd grade. Lessi in 3rd.IMG_5345 IMG_5346 IMG_5347 IMG_5349

Hanging out in the front yard with Jace. Admiring the pretty view.IMG_5359 IMG_5362

Snuggling with Dad and having a little chat. And then making faces at me. :)IMG_5388 IMG_5390

Bear Lake Reunion July 2014

Once Again, I have a serious lack of pictures! What is going on with me? This is pretty well my favorite 4 days of the year and I took hardly any pics. Sad.

Well, we had another great reunion at Bear Lake with my beautiful family. Jason wasn’t able to come, and he was sorely missed, but everyone else was able to make it for at least part of the time.

The older girls set up the salon on the back patio as they usually do and were almost always available to do hair and nails. Here’s Lessi’s awesome fishtail.


Piper and Jace were funny to watch together. She’s 6 months older, but I’m fairly certain they weigh the same.


Fun in the hot tub! It’s like a mini pool for all of the grandkids. IMG_5231 IMG_5234

Me and Cherise, hanging out by the hot tub. I love my smitsters!IMG_5241

Me and my Jacer at the beach. We ended up doing two beach days which was a lot of fun. We created a fabulously massive sand castle. It was more like a sand village. Very impressive. I should bum a picture of that from somebody cause it was awesome.SAMSUNG

We had a little talent show, and Mer was awesome and taught all the girls a cheer routine. Lessi had a blast.


All the grandkids with my Mom and Dad! We’ve got a big brood going on.IMG_5252

July 2014

Pictures for July were sparse. We took a little trip to Hermiston, Oregon for the fourth of July to visit Katrina and Blair. I gotta say, for a little town, they had an awesome fireworks display. They also had a great outdoor pool with a couple slides and lazy river and whatnot. The only pics I got were of Lessi in the car with her Lala Loopsy (Ella had her Bday party while we were there and it was Lala Loopsy themed.)


And then I got come pics of Jace in this adorable little chair. Ain’t he cute?IMG_5215 IMG_5220

Random cool picture of the sun being blocked by fog or smog or just really thin clouds, not sure which.


We did manage to make it down to the Boise River for a float! We went with the Sehers and the Kimball and Christine Larsen crew. It was a lot of fun. The kids would switch from boat to boat at each stop. I’m really sad I didn’t get a picture of Kate and Eli hanging off the front of Lys and Rick’s boat. (haha, as I tried to type Rick, my fingers automatically typed Rhys (hero of my last book)). It was a bit of a challenge trying to help Cameron steer, cause I had Jace on my lap or standing between my knees the whole time. But all in all, we had a lot of fun. Great family adventure.

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Speaking of not taking any pictures. Here’s a picture of Cameron and I when we were in Vegas. Granted we were only there for like 24 hours, but still, I should have pulled out the camera a little more.


And this is Jace’s favorite hang out spot. We call it his thinking chair. He climbs in and just sits there for a while, chewing on whatever he can find. Though once in a while when he is trying to climb out, he gets his little thigh stuck between the corner of the harth and the top of the bin. He’s gained a few really good bruises that way. But he just keeps at it.IMG_5296

June 2014

Both of the girls were student of the month in may. I did their hair extra fancy for the occasion.IMG_5085IMG_5084IMG_5081IMG_5078IMG_5075IMG_5071IMG_5068

On the last day of school, we all ate lunch outside and said goodbye to teachers.IMG_5099IMG_5095

And then Summer started! And Lessi appointed herself Jace’s babysitter. They had lots of fun hanging out together.


Super Children.


Babysat piggy’s bother and sister.

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Fun in the neighbor’s pool.

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Backyard project! We pulled out a whole bunch of grass, and put in a playset instead. We love it.IMG_5123IMG_5189

Jacer loves his walker. He is a happy camper so long as he can cruise around and bump into people’s ankles.


June 12th was Jace’s first birthday! He’s such a cute kid. We had a big summer birthday bash for all of the family members who had summer birthdays. We rented a blow up slide and a bounce house. We got a giant cake for the kids to eat with their hands. It was impressive. We sat them all around it, then let Jace take a couple bites first and then we said, ready go. The kids all stuck their hands in and pulled them out, and it was pretty much like a disappearing act. The cake was gone. That quick.

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I tried to upload the video of Jace starting to walk, but it was too big. :( But June was the month! He started standing and stumbling forward and was so excited about it. He would throw his head back and giggle, and that would throw him off balance and he would fall. But it was adorable.


May 2014

Jace figured out how to climb the stairs. Watch out, world.


Little Miss Tae turned 8 and so I took the girls on a little road trip while the boys stayed at home. We met up with my parents late friday night at a hotel. Then we went to the baptism on saturday.


Heber is be-u-ti-ful. Made me want to find an excuse to move there.IMG_4984IMG_4981

On May 12th, I released my second book! Missing Lily hit amazon, and the self publishing glitches rolled in.


Jace is my little buddy.


This is Miss Leah, our new little neighbor friend. She’s Eli’s age and they have a grand old time galavanting around the neighborhood.


Had a fun Girls’ Night Out in downtown boise. Ate at Reef, then got frozen yogurt. We also went to Freak Alley and admired the street art.


Another inheritance from grandma Larsen. I picked out all the pretty miniature glassware I could find and the kids have been enjoying their tea parties. Fun stuff. :)IMG_4850

April 2014

This boy cracks me up.IMG_4685

I love the flowering trees in the spring! They just make me so darn happy. Here’s Eli and cousin Annie peddling through the neighborhood.IMG_4681

And Eli’s just makin’ himself some eggs. No big deal.IMG_4669 IMG_4664

And of course, spring would not be complete without the pink tree pictures. It is very important to me to get pictures of my kiddos with these gorgeous pink trees.SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

Jace playing with laundry. He likes to pull them out and snuggle with them and then put them on the floor. I think he was testing them. Snugglability is paramount in his world.IMG_4759

Eli figured out how to haul Jace around and Jace doesn’t seem to mind!IMG_4846

Me and my boys at the park.IMG_4805

I was able to attend my first writing conference! I had a great time and ended up rooming with these lovely ladies. IMG_4837

Sophie reading to Jacer.IMG_4800

Eli is a bunny.IMG_4794

Got to visit a newborn calf.IMG_4770