I Believe You

30 March 2017


Lately, I've been saying a phrase that has quickly revealed to me its power.  Perhaps this phrase has had the most powerful effects of anything I've spoke before:

I believe you.

It's so validating, connecting, and unifying.  I've used it in my marriage and my work; I've even said it in my mind after reading an article online.  Even if I fall on a completely different line of thinking and principle.  But I still walk away every time feeling peace and even love.

Even if we don't stand on the same political line, the same religious beliefs, or we don't understand someone's emotions, choices, or experiences, it ain't no matter, because we can still agree that someone's reality is in fact their true reality.  And that's sooo nice for people to feel that space honored for them.

I believe them.

I believe YOU.

Upward and onward,

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The Auther who finishes our stories

19 March 2017

I found this post buried in my drafts today.  I re-read it, and my thoughts are exactly what I needed to hear today, exactly one month later.


Written February 19.

During church, I had a flow of thoughts within me that wasn't synced with any talk or lesson I heard that day.  Something my consciousness has been mulling over lately.  And as Charlotte and I each occupied a chair in the mother's lounge.  She in one, and I in the other, facing each other, with my boots pressed up on her chair, rocking us both, I let my mind wander into this flow.  (Charlotte was busy wondering why her crib was not packed with all the other hundred items we brought to church with us).

I thought about how a lot of our greatest pains are largely gut-wrenching because they leave unwritten stories.  A loose thread that is left unwoven.  A spare wire that is exposed.  A protruding nerve that is very, very vulnerable.  It's the open-endedness of our stories that can cause so much hurt year after year.  Still waiting.  Still wanting.  Still needing.  It's an open orbit - circling and circling around us, never having a launch pad to finally retire, gear down, and power off .  So the embers of old wounds stay smouldering for a long, long time.  

Several weeks ago in a BYU devotional speech, the presenter said boldly:  "Take hold of your life and order yourself to be valiant."  And I heard, "You're the accountable one for you!  So take control of yourself and be better.  And refrain from codependently projecting onto anyone or anything."  Love that!  So I jotted that quote down on a sticky note and added it to the collection pile of influential sticky notes in the drawer of my desk, which come to recall when I need them. 

Then several days ago, I thought back on this quote, relating it to the side of ourselves that is weighed down with grief.  Instead of a motivated declaration: "Take hold of your life and order yourself to be valiant,"  it became a hopeful, comforting plea: "Take hold of your mind and write a new story."  Once again, calling myself to accountability; this time for my sorrows.  Self, you can take control and find a new way to see things.

We have the power to rewrite any story we please.  Every circumstance has a hundred vantage points.  If our vantage point is dissatisfying, we can pick up our feet and move to a new one.  If we dislike how one of our life stories turned out, we can pick up our feet and lay hold to a new ending. 

So I thought today about the reason the Gospel bears so much hope and light for us is because it helps us either finish writing our unwritten stories or re-write a past story from a better vantage point.  The curtain hasn't fully closed on any part of our lives, because we haven't returned to our Maker and wrapped anything up yet.  But, we get hung up on pains and sadness that keep orbiting around us, and we just keep seeing the same sad tale over and over.  Truth be told, we aren't very good playwrites sometimes.  So Heavenly Father sent Christ down here to us, because we all need a co-author. 

Christ helps us finish the story.

He promises that we will receive the love we want - or that acceptance, or that child, or that health, or that security.  We will get the lost piece to our story.  His promise is so sure that we can rewrite our story now with His ending.  In a way, we yield our pen to faith, to what will come, and our stories can balm themselves now.  We can land our orbiting places of grief.

Now when my sadness rises to an open-ended story, I remind myself that this story was rewritten.  The story is sealed with His pen.  Remember, self, what Christ has told me that ending is?  The joy and love and blessings in celestial life are going to be beyond any of my best imaginings.  My story is re-written and closed with faith of what is to come.

I take hold of my mind and allow myself to be healed with faith.

Upward and onward,

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Scenes from our Sabbath

Snapshots that Ryan received of his two princesses enjoying their Sabbath:

Two little ladies all ready for church.

 Nothing like the weight of a dozing babe in your arms.

 Gotta love a teeny baby neck. <3

A winter baby finally getting naked in front of the sun.

Upward and onward,

C.S. Lewis, you've done it again. Written thoughts that are solid gold.

17 March 2017

"The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self–all your wishes and precautions–to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call “ourselves,” to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be “good”… If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown."

C.S. Lewis || Mere Christianity

The other day I saw this picture, paused, and thought, "That's the bag I'd pack if I were on my way to meet C.S. Lewis."
That's how much I like the guy.

 Upward and onward,

Just Charlotte and I

Ryan has been away the last few days, so Charlotte and I have been left to man the fort.

We love these times, counter to what it seems when people have to be apart.  His time off to enjoy his passion does something for me; it presses a release button for me too.  Not a full eject from life.  But enough so that I always feel the enjoyment of a staycation myself.  So while he is enjoying his time on this annual spring hunt in South Dakota, I am happy bunkering down at home and soaking in the spare hours to do as I please.  Plus, and our relationship turns back into newlywed status, and we have so much fun Facetiming and counting down the time until he comes home.

And this stay-vacation for me has been different, because I've had a Little Buddy.  Little Miss Charlotte.

Another new thing since his last trip, our growing homestead.  Each morning, I strap Charlotte on, and we go out to feed the bunnies and the chickens.  I see why Ryan takes such good care of them and feels so much pride.  It feels so satisfying to have property and a little self-sustaining world within it.  Our little 3 person tribe and the land we are grateful to call ours.

Later in the afternoon, after Charlotte and I are fed, and she's accompanied me while I do a boxing routine in the garage, and she's had her long nap for the day while I pound through my work, then the day becomes ours.  I greet her in her crib, and she smiles wide at me.  Then we go out into the sunshine.  We go for walks.  We go for drives.  We pull out a blanket and sit in the grass, observing the budding plants and listening to the chirping birds.  I read my book club novel to her.  I read to her about Christ's first visit to the Americas.  I give her a nice warm bath and let her splash around.  We sing and laugh and talk, and she does all the squealing.  She even got to meet my friend Katie over lunch.

Lately, Charlotte has been doing this thing where I have her sitting in front of me on my lap and she'll intermittently crane her little neck so she's looking all the way up at me with her big blue curious eyes.  Just making sure you're still there, mom.  She does it over and over, and it melts my heart.

We sure miss our Ryan!

Upward and onward,

Ryan goes snowcaving! A feat that Olympic athletes probably could not even do.

11 March 2017

Entry from Ryan!!!

Okay, so Ryan really posted this to our neighborhood facebook page, but I asked him if I could also post it to our blog scrapbook.  I got you all excited thinking that Ryan is blogging on here now too, right?  Ryan does have a blog..  a private one just for me! ;)  Anyway, here is a post "from" him!


Last night, the varsity scouts pulled off a very successful snowcaving campout! It was a blast! We had delicious chili cheese dogs, worked hard, learned valuable survival skills, and bonded as a troop. The feeling of accomplishment was something I heard many of the boys express. We finished off the evening with a great campfire devotional, where the spirit was in abundance as we talked about member missionary work and serving full time missions.


Chantel again:
How about that?  Digging and digging through the snow until you hollow out a cave large enough for 3-4 people to sleep in.  And then actually sleeping in it!  Men at church the next day were jealous that they had not been a part of it.

I came home from church and hugged my pillow and my bed and all the reachable heater vents.

And then I hugged Ryan because he's just so darn manly and such a good leader for these youth!


Establish a running base


8 miles down.

Since deciding to run another marathon a few weeks after Charlotte was born (that was the time of the decision, not the time of the race...), I oscillated behind my choice, keeping a noncommittal foot out the door, wondering at what point I should pull out my race entry.  I mean, one Saturday, I set out on my run, and once reaching the trailhead - I took a few steps up the mountain path, no no can't do this, turn around and head back, YES - I can do this!, turn around and run a few steps, no there's no way - windy, cold, turn around and come back, just try - give it a shot, turn around.  And so on.  I truly ran back and forth in a 10 foot distance over and over again.  So many times, that I'm sure any onlookers were thinking that this was how I worked out.  That maybe I grew up at a severely underfunded school where our gym was a closet, and that's where we did our laps.  But I finally just told myself that I would run a few blocks through my neighborhood just for funsies, and then I could come home.  Well, I ended up running my full distance that day.  Probably anyone could do anything if they believed the motivating line of "it's just for funsies!"  Go play patti cake with that wild orangutan - just for funsies. OKAY!

Anyway, Ryan kept telling me that once we establish a base of running that this will get a whole lot easier.  And I put a lot of trust in that.  Because this is my first race that I am starting from ground zero on training.  Pregnancy, baby birth... yeah.  Also, Ryan has a lot of street cred when it comes to running advice, because he is a state champion in track.  Like, super legit.  One of my favorite stories of his is a championship relay race, where he ran with 3 other dudes on a team, and he was the last runner, and the 3 teammates allowed a widening gap between the opponents, and Ryan took the baton, and closed the whole gap, and won the freaking race.  So, yeah, this guy knows a thing or two about running.

So as hard as it has been to just get out the door and give it shot - I kept his words in mind that I just needed to push through the beginning and get a running base.

And today I ran 8 miles, and it felt GOOD!

I came home and told Ryan that 8 miles is a significant mile marker in my past marathons.  8 miles is the first mark of pain.  You run breezefully to that point, and that's the mile marker when the game starts getting mental.

I told him my 8 miles today wasn't a breeze, but at least I ran what I consider is the base distance of a marathon.  I got a base of something going now!

Alright, I'm doing this.

Upward and onward,

Divine Nature

10 March 2017

Tonight Ryan is away on a scout campout, so me and Little Char are having a true sleepover.  She only takes up a smidgen of the space on Ryan's side of the bed, and it's so sweet to have her little company.

This morning, I caught one glimpse of Charlotte rubbing her eyes, and I swooped her up in some of her small fuzzy blankets and went to her nursery to hold her tightly in my arms while we swayed in the rocking chair.  I knew the moment was ripe for her to just relax into me.  Ryan and I haven't had many, if any, moments to really "rock" Charlotte to sleep.  She just decides it's time for rest, cues us by rubbing her eyes, and then she likes us to just take her to the crib and lay her down.  She's out cold in seconds.  If we keep holding her when she's tired, she'll stay awake and look around endlessly, basking in her privilege of being held high on a throne that she can observe everything.

So this morning when I noted her fatigue, I took quick advantage of the time for us to be close.  As we rocked in the glider chair, she stared intently at me.  I began telling her how special I think she is, and before long, I was lost in thought on the purpose of one human's journey here on this earth. 

It all began when I was telling Charlotte that I believe she was a really special spirit before she came here.  Then I told Charlotte that I believe her purpose here on this Earth is to learn of her divine essence and how much God loves her.  Her journey on earth is not to prove herself to anyone else.  What other's think of her is none of her business, because then she'll have to speculate about their private lives and why they think or suffer as they do, just as they are doing of her.  The only business of hers is to come to know herself, as a spiritual being, and know whose she is.

By knowing how glorious of a spirit she is, she'll feel the love of her Father and Mother in Heaven; she'll know her spirit will continue beyond this blip of time; she'll know she's sacred and eternal and loved supremely.  From that knowledge, she'll know she's of worth far above all labels, judgments, and human opinions; she'll keep watch for herself and keep herself in holier places, surrounded by better people, making choices from a wiser perspective, holding boundaries and standards that take increasing courage. 

And how can someone who knows that about themselves not live without an astounding amount of integrity and confidence?  How can someone like that not, by default, create a better energy on this Earth?

Suddenly, it became very clear to me what my job is for her.  My most important job is to clear any interference that may silence all this truth for her.  To reduce the noise of all the unnecessary voices of low content.  To declutter all the pipeways of fallen and broken messages.  I must keep our airways full of higher truths and feelings of the spirit.

I would do just about anything to have Charlotte know of her worth.  And I think this hits me so close to home because of the times I've been really dislodged and met with such darkness in this life.  Fed lies, abandoned, forgotten.  I know what it feels like to hold a flickering candle to this truth of oneself, and there is no faster way to be drowned in this world.  So, I know how important it is to have God's confirmation of who you really are.

As I told her that this is what I want her purpose to be, I felt a conviction that the same message holds true for me and for everyone.

Our journey is only about us finding our identity as a spiritual self and letting that connect us in unimaginable ways to God and our eternity.  How much of the clamor - even the noise of people standing up for their well-thought out convictions - is really a loud reverberation of deep emptiness.  Countless individual people speaking louder and louder.  When the answer is silently tucked deep within.

This knowledge alone of our divine selves can repair a soul to a core.  This knowledge alone stops the finger pointing, the offendedness, the easy reactions.  This knowledge augments goodness, expands efforts, merges gaps, opens the veil, anchors our roots into Heaven, and awakens The Law of Consecration.  The ultimate way of living as united, thriving beings.  All together.  As one.  So by finding our self as a Spirit of pre-existing glory, healing flows outward with such force that not only our energies bind to each other, but temporal resources begin evening out the troughs in all of the world.

So yes, I will make all sacrifices I deem necessary to give Charlotte this gift.  Even if it's as simple as turning off the radio when a song comes on that I love, but I can feel that the message isn't in harmony with who I believe we are.

And after I've successfully whisked Charlotte away into a swirl of these thoughts on her divine self, I observe her stare slowly fading into a daze, her lips moving all around as she settles deeper into comfort, then her eyelids softly closing into a deep, heavy doze.

Sweet dreams, little one.

I feel pretty humbled that I've been blessed with a baby who has a spirit far greater than I can even imagine.

And also pretty intimidated, because when she was in Heaven and meeting with God about who her parents were to be for this next leg of her journey, I'm sure he pulled up a real-time moment of me and I was like picking my nose or something.

Upward and onward,

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Watchtowers & Egos

05 March 2017

Tonight, the three of us are snuggled on the couch reading our books.  Well, Charlotte is alternating between eating an old Sunday School lesson of mine and sucking her thumb.  I spent long hours painting this front sitting room and designing it with the intention of a quiet place for reading and pondering, so it's so nice to have my dreams coming to fruition.

Ryan reads from his favorite political series (The Uncle Eric books.  Libertarianism, anyone?  Amazing stuff) and I am reading Teachings of President Hinckley.  I am finding this book to be so powerful.  It's really putting my heart at peace and calling my spirit to be more devoted to Gospel things.  I like being filled with this type of spirit.

Last week, I got online and was immediately swamped with feeds of criticism towards a female leader in our church.  From friends and other people that seemed respectable enough.  I saw where they were coming from, only meaning that it wasn't beyond the realm of my understanding to see why they stood with dissatisfaction.  But, it still made my heart sink, so I backed away slowly and moved on with my day.

Later that week, I was feeling pretty exhausted, both in body and mind, so I laid very still on my bed and reached for a meditation to take me away.  But instead, I began bearing my testimony to myself; it just seemed comforting enough to try.  I declared to myself truths that I know, and when I came to The Prophet and those called under him, my mind snagged, and I couldn't stop looping around the power and courage behind these people.

There is something that I don't take lightly, and I never have.  Criticism of General Authorities and the female authorities of our church.  That has never rested well with me.  Just like I believe that prophets of old had face-to-face communions with God and angels, I believe that same communion occurs today with our prophets.  Light is given to these people through revelatory experiences that would cause our souls to quake if we knew.

I know that myself, and others, hurt.  And that pain can chide with other voices sharing testimony, or we can feel snuffed under new Gospel policy, or we can feel lonely and forgotten when our experiences are far, far away from the ideal.  But like my bishop once said:  the entirety of this Gospel is like a big puzzle, and if you come across a piece that you can't find a place of belonging, do you throw the whole puzzle off the table, saying, "This is untrue!"  No, you set the piece aside and continue working until you find that piece a home.

And hearing / reading so many critical voices out there, and sometimes seeing that same cynical voice inside myself, I have found it's best to step back and see where other's or my own voice is taking me:

Does this thought, this criticism, this mood towards someone or something make me more loving, more full of the Spirit, more eager to understand?   No?  Is it making me cynical, distant, and hardened?  Then there is something here I need to abandon, to loosen my grip of.  Lay it down.

And if this hardness returns, well then, I'll pray for more awakening when it does.  And I'll keep laying it down until it returns to me, and I able to speak on it with light and love.  People, and myself, do a dis-service to our spirits to clamp down on things that weaken or provoke or dim or annoy us.  And yet, unfortunately, I find myself doing it all the time.  All the time.  The more light and awareness I find in this Gospel, the more I realize how much my ego controls me.  And I do say, to continue on in the dictations of my ego, the suffering is bearable mainly because of its familiarity.  It is that of which we are all accustomed to, because we exist behind the perceptions of our egos minute-by-minute, which cause us to be so co-dependent on blaming and critiquing other people or things for our pain.  "That is the cause of my suffering."  "This is the cause of my suffering."  And we exist in co-dependence with everything around us.  We suffer because we are holding this cycniscm.

Until, one unveils their ego and lays it down.  Then one finds that "in here, is the cause of my suffering."  I am the production of my suffering.  You change the patterns of your mind, and you change your life.

I am not yet my own Master, living without my ego, but I am awakening and rising above it.

So, basically what I am trying to say is, the more I encounter others' egos reigning their eyes and their minds, the more I withdraw.  I am not going to participate in that, nor surround myself with it. Fingers will continually point more firmly outward, causing a more and more co-dependent nature of people slinging their pain at anyone and anything, being critical and cynical.  And unfortunately, our prophets and leaders are going to take increasing hits.  The very people who are communing with our Savior.

But like I always, always say, I cannot push on the side of a ship and make it turn, but I can choose to row my boat in my chosen direction.  And I will continually work on unveiling my ego and letting my co-dependent fingers fall, along with my pride, my pains, my follies.  I will sink into my Master, my faith, the  prophets, my husband, and I will let myself be transformed.  My deepest desire is to be fully awakened and filled with light.  This process will continue until I am well beyond the grave, and in that time, you will never hear me discredit the people on the watchtower.  They are people that I believe are more awakened than I, and I would rather trust in their light and let my own ego be proved fallible.  
When I was a young man and was prone to speak critically, my father would say:  "Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve."                                                   -Gordon B. Hinckley
Now, back to our peaceful evening reading :) Upward and onward,

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