The Circle of Life (Summer 2015)

coal stove(Disclaimer: these memories are coming from 40 years ago so some of the details may not be exactly right. But for the most part these events are true.)

When I was 7 years old my Dad was laid of and had to go job hunting. My dad is a man of may skills and a hard and determined worker so it was not long before he had work again. But his new job was several hours away from where we currently lived so it meant we would be moving.

My parent decided to try their hand at a long time dream of my dad’s and build a small self sustaining farm. So, they bought 20 acres of property out in the middle of nowhere! And I am talking Wyoming desert nowhere.

When it was time for my dad to start work the sale of the property had not yet closed and we still had a few weeks of school left so my dad went on ahead of us. While he was there he bought a large mobile home and set it up on the property. He would send us letters with pictures he had drawn of the farm that would one day be living on the property and we could not wait to get there. Now, I was young so maybe I just did not understand when it was explained to me but truly I do not remember being told that the home we would be going to was so far out there was no power and no water. When we got there it was a bit of a shock to realize that we would be using an outhouse and going every couple of days to a natural spring with every bucket and barrel that we owned to fill with water. But if the whole truth is to be told, I loved it. As a child I did not have to worry about the stress it caused my parents. I did not even see it. For the first time we had space to run and play with freedom. At this time my parents already had 11 children and living on 20 acres was heaven to us.

My dad was working for the power company and they had promised him that they would bring the power lines out to our property promptly. I do not remember the details but I do remember my parents getting frustrated with the many delays. We ended up going through that first Wyoming winter with no power and no running water. But still, I loved it. We had a great big coal stove that kept us nice and warm (hot) all winter. And in some ways the snow made getting water easier. We had a couple of great big steal pots we would fill with snow and melt it on the coal stove. I still can remember the sound of the little bits of snow that were left on the outside as they melted and sizzled on the top of the hot stove. I even liked that sound too. We went that whole winter with oil lamps and the car battery that my dad would hook up to the TV so we could watch the holiday specials and lots of C batteries for my brothers boombox. But we were happy. As happy as that winter was I recall the thrill when the lights finally came on the following spring. My mother nearly cried. And man-o-man! What a spectacular show was made when the dynamite blasting of our well was happening. The first couple of blasts just brought a shower of dust and dirt. But then it was like Old Faithful right there in our yard. A geyser of water shot out of the ground way up into the air and came raining down on us. And when we could turn on a faucet and get water it was like a bran new idea, it seemed a little magical. I love those memories and I am so glad to have them.

Now I am a mother and with new eyes I can look back on those days with tender feelings for what my parents must have been going through. I do remember a few moments of frustration but mostly they were cheerful and did all they could to make life as comfortable and happy as they could in the circumstances. And for the most part I was oblivious to any real struggle. They have a few times, in talking over those days, tried to give an apology. I always tell them there is no need,

My children and I have been without hot water since June 1st. And although it is a far cry from being without running water or power it is still stressful as a mother. The time it takes to heat enough water so my children can bathe properly, I have three stinky boys, is tremendous! But our cook stove has not been in commission since June 1st ether. We have to heat our water in the microwave and on a hot plate. I have found myself many times wishing I had a great big coal stove and steal pot and there was lots of snow on the ground. My children have been amazing though. They have taken it all with courage and good humor. I hope one day they will look back and find that good things have been learned and memories that will make them smile.

Dream July 12 2018

Judge gavel and scale in court. Library with lot of books in background

This dream was about “him.” In the dream we were married. He worked for a correctional facility for teenage boys. But he was on a suspension with a pending court trial for something he had done or was accused of doing but he would not tell me what it was all about. He acted liked it was no big deal and that he wasn’t worried about the outcome of the trial but I could tell that he was hurt by it and more concerned than he was claiming. Now and then one of the teenage boys would come to him and ask for advice or just wanted to hang around him. He had to tell them he could not because of the suspension. I could see his own internal struggle and sadness; how he wanted to reach out to these boys and how hurtful it was to have to turn them away. Yet when he would look over at me he would quickly put on a goofy face and try to act like it was nothing.

We also were trying to buy this house. It was in a very beautiful spot with much green and lovely landscaping. The house itself was somewhat undefined but it was a light color and it seemed almost to glow a soft yellowish glow among all the natural foliage. It was not huge or supper tall. It had one section, sort of in the center, with a second story and other parts that were just one level. The house stretched out among the trees. But the sale of the house was also pending the outcome of the trial. At one point I was looking over at the house we were planning on buying and longing to be there and know that it was mine and yet feeling so frustrated because I was being kept from it and was not even being told why. But then when I looked back at him my heart softened and I felt that, although I did wish he would at lest open up and tell me what was happening, I could, for his sake, be patient.

A Choice to Make

Last night I had a crazy dream that I believe was inspired by an old love letter I found and reread yesterday combined with the episode of Sweet Magnolias my daughter and I watched that afternoon. But I did learn something about myself.

yellow 2 (1)

The dream opened at some kind of apartment building. I think because Randall Mueller, the writer of the love letter, lived in a similar apartment building when I knew him. There were many of my extended family there spread out in different apartment. Most of which had their doors open. I was moving my way between apartments visiting. There were lots of my young nieces and nephews their all pleasantly laughing and playing games.

At some point I was told that my ex-husband, Andy, was there and that he wanted me back. He was asking for me to take him back. My heart sank with a dreadful feeling or remembrance of  my life being married to Andy and I was a little stunned that he would return like this and once again put me in an uncomfortable position.

The next moment I was in the apartment of Randall Mueller. I was sitting at a dinning table with Randall and his father and other people I knew were his family. Andy was also there and so were a bunch of my young nieces and nephews. I was very uncomfortable. I knew I was suppose to make some kind of open declaration, I was to choose between these two men from my past. Randall’s dad was making critical comments about my treatment of his son and Andy was making his usual under his breath snide comments about everybody and every thing. I was trying to act pleasant in the game but I felt most uncomfortable and just wanted to ignore the whole situation.

The scene shifted and we were all sitting on the floor in the living room area. The young nieces and nephews were trying to convince the adults to play a game called 100 Questions. It was explained that each person would be asked questions until 100 questions had been asked and then something entertaining would be read that came about as the result of answers to the questions. nobody wanted to take the time to ask 100 questions yet I could tell that the young kids really wanted to play. I suggested a compromise; that just one question be asked to each person. I said, “After each person has been asked their question and the entertainment peace has been read then we can all go about our own business.” Randell then reached out his hand and said, Well, do we have to go? Can’t we stay and play a few other games?” He had only reached out his hand in a gesturing way but as he did his hand touched mine. I stretched out my fingers to take his hand. I smiled at him and reassured him that I only said to go about our own business in response to people not wanting to take to long on one game. He looked at me and smiled and their was this feeling of innocent hope. I looked down at our hands and they looked like the hands of very small children. In the dream I thought nothing of it but remembering the dram it seems kind of creepy.

As the questions were being asked I got up to use the bathroom. I moved across the room towards the side of the apartment with the bedroom and bathroom doors. On the floor between the two rooms there was a black smallish stereo with music playing. I paused for a moment because I thought I recognized the song and wanted to listen closer. It was a familiar song but sung different than I have ever heard it. It was some modern cover version of “Elusive Butterfly”. I love the song and this version was beautifully done. It made me smile and I lingered yet even a while longer. In lingering my eyes began to wander and I could see into the bedroom through the partially opened door. I could not see all the way in but I could see enough to notice the soft neutral yellow color of bedspread.  Not only was it a soft color but it was very thick and comfortable looking. With the tender lyrics of a beautiful love song and the soft comforting image of the bedroom my mind seemed to fill with clarity. I flipped around and said to the group, “In some things you can find compromise that will make everyone happy, like how to play a game. But other things there is no compromise. Some times things just are what they are. And I am tired of feeling uncomfortable while I try to come up with some solution that will not make others uncomfortable. ” I then asked Andy to step outside and I told him out right that I never would go back. I was unhappy married to him and I had no intentions of every putting myself in that position ever again. (In the dream for all the hype that was made he seemed pretty okay with it.) I came back in and walked over to Randall Mueller. he stood to meet me. I took his hand in mine and smiled. He took my other hand with his other hand and smiled back.

And that is where the dream ended.

A Winter Drive

cattailsThe morning of February 1st we had an obnoxious storm. It had started out as rain but turned into a wet and heavy snow. Normally I would not have given it a whole lot of thought and just hunkered down at home until it was over and the roads were cleared. But later that morning my son had an important dental appointment in August, about a 35 minute drive north. I had to go out in the weather and I was a little annoyed by it.

As things would have it the snow had stopped just before we had to leave.  The roads in town were a little rough but once we got out on the high, which was the majority of our trip, the roads were find.

With the winter rain that had fallen first, creating an icy foundation for the snow, it caused the snow to stick fast to everything it fell on. The drive turned out to be a half hour of breathtaking scenic views

On ether side of the highway there were rows of trees covered in thick snow. The frosted look on the deep color of the evergreens was a gorgeous contrast and the bare winter branches of the leafy trees were bare no more. Instead they looked to be covered in white spring blossoms. Along the way there would be patches of ground with no trees. In these place instead were tall, yellow wild grasses with dried leaning cattails sticking out of the smooth windblown snow. Every couple of feet I would gasp and say to my children, “Just look how beautiful the earth is!”

Every now and again a gust of wind would dart quickly across the road and grab up some snow and toss it into the air. The snow was wet and heavy so it did not swirl around in the air as it usually does, rather it would shoot up into the air and create a frosty arch over the high way. And we would just drive right under it with soft blue skies up ahead of us.

I found myself saying a prayer of both an apology for my original annoyance at the weather and of gratitude for the opportunity I had to see it all. If Asher had not had that appointment I would have just stayed home and inside until the full glory of the day had been diminished with time.

This earth is truly glorious!


A dream I had the night of February 1st 2018

Floral_Blossom-wallpaper-10151853-783006There was some general talk about going on a temple trip on a bus with a group of other people. And although I do not remember talking directly to him about it I just sort of knew I would be going with my ex-husband. I felt uneasy about the trip and did not want to go. I kept saying things like, “Maybe this time I wont go.” or ‘I don’t think I want to go.” The thing of it was I did want to go to the temple. I very much wanted to be in the temple I just didn’t want to in that way.

The general coloring of everything was pale blues and grays and gray-blues and the feeling was pretty cold except for my own anxiety over my indecision.

I put off any definite decision until I knew he had already gotten on the bus. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to go. But at the last minute I ran out to the bus and waved as I yelled out for the driver to stop because I was coming after all. There was a man standing inside the bus on the stars just inside the doors. He was the only one in dark or bright colors. He had on a dark colored suit, a very white shirt and noticeably red socks. It appeared that he had been waiting for me. Me in the dream knew who he was but after waking up I do not even remember a distinct feature except that he was tall and had an easy natural smile. I could see him turn around and gesture to the driver. The bus stopped and the doors opened. He held out his hand to help me up that first big step and told me he was glad I had decided to come. At that point I realized that my daughter was with me, only instead of 12 years old she was maybe 3. I handed her up first and the man busted her up to the top of the stars and then took my hand and jumped onto the first step. I realized that in my indecision and last minute deciding to go I had not properly prepared. I was not dressed for the temple. I was wearing a blue and gray plad button down shirt and jeans. He told me that it did not matter and that it was just good that I had decided to come

At first I could see my ex-husband in the back of the bus. I shifted a little uncomfortably wondering where my daughter and I should sit. But that is the last I remember seeing him all in the dream.

Holding my daughters hand I lead her down the bus isle and we took a seat on the left side. Once we were sitting I felt very much at ease and was glad to be there. As we approached the temple people were deciding where they were going to go and what work they would do in the temple that day. I was asked what my plans were. The man who had helped me into the bus did not directly ask me but he was in the group that was talking and making plans. As I though over what my plans were for that trip I watched my little 3 year old Constance bounce around and being a little restless. I then said because Constance was not in a calm enough mood to sit through and endowment session and because I was not really properly dressed for the temple I thought I would go and do baptism that day. (Why baptisms would have made the difference in ether case I do not know. But that is how dreams work.) At that moment we were all in the temple foyer and the man with the red socks–who earlier had stated that he would be doing an endowment session–with his very comfortable smile, said he understood my choice and suggested that we meet up later in the foyer. To which I agreed.

As I turned, with Constance in tow, to the baptistery I began to calculate the time an endowment session would take so I would be sure to plan my time accordingly and not be overly later than the others and make people wait. When I opened the door that you might expect to find the stairwell going down instead it opened to a long hallway. The walls were a lovely pale pink like the color of cherry blossoms in the spring time. The rug on the floor was a deeper pink and there was a pink sort of light glowing from the floor up the walls. The light was very bright at the floor level and  dimmed as it went higher up. there were big white lights on the ceiling. In the middle of the hall all the way as far as I could see, there were small square tables set up and sister missionaries sitting at each table.  I somehow just knew that as we made our down the hall we were to stop and hear a message from each set of missionaries. At the first table I help Constance into a chair and sat down. The sisters there gave us these rectangular clear plates with small football logos in the corners. I remember thinking it was very odd but I just went with it. They also gave us some colorful straws but I do not remember any refreshments or drinks being offered.

The sisters greeted us happily and asked some introductory questions. It was at this point that I woke up. I lay there on my bed feeling very calm and almost as though the pleasant loveliness of the pink hall way was still present in my room. I had for a moment or two forgotten it was winter as I was surrounded with a deep warmth.


I Am Not an Island

I am not an island.  What I am is a hermit living on a tiny little island.  I believe I first came to my island a long time ago. It was easier to hide on my island than to pretend all was well. Even more terrifying was the idea of talking about or exposing my fears and pain to others. It seemed a better solution to just withdraw. I was comfortable there for a while. But I remember how in my teens; standing on the shore line of my little island, looking out towards the mainland I decided I wanted to be there.

It was hard to leave my island. It was scary crossing the deep and rough waters that had for so long separated me and my island, even protected me, from the people on the mainland. That journey took a lot longer than I had expected. But as I approached the shore I was met with love. Many people welcomed and helped me out of the waters and to find footing on solid ground again and I began to enjoy the vast places I could go and the people I met along the way.

Then, so unexpectedly, I was again in pain, excruciating pain, and all I wanted was to return to the safety of my island. Getting to my island is a lot easier than it was getting off. This time I did not go alone. I took my children with me and for along while I was very happy there. My children and I were happy there and we liked being together. But I did not, maybe I could not, see the damage I was doing. I did not understand that my island was not a safe place for my children.

As they have grown I have watched them. I have seen their own pains deepen in the shadows of my little island. I have watched them stand on the shores and gaze longingly across the waters. I have seen their struggled attempts to cross the water only to turn back in fear or capsize and wash up again gasping on the shore of my little island.

But I have crossed those waters before. I know that though the way is hard and difficult, at the other end is love. It is time for me to cross those waters again. I must cross them again with each of my children. For each of them will have a different journey to take. It was I who brought them to my island now I must help my children safely to the mainland; safely into a life of freedom, where they feel safe to love and to be loved.



May 20th, 2013

I had a crazy dream last night! I had taken Tucker to the emergency room and the doctor would not prescribe him any medicine and told me to come back the next day instead. But then I wrecked the van trying to turn around on a skinny muddy road so I couldn’t go back after all. I remember putting my head down on the steering wheel and crying while I could feel the wind blowing in from the broken back window. It was one of those hopeless feeling dreams. I hope it has no meaning and is just the result of being very over stressed

Family is a Serious Business.

(March 7th 2013)Tucker at the MCT Cropped

My Tucker is such an amazing person. It was his turn for the Conducting and dessert for FHE tonight. When he called us together he was dressed in a full suit and tie. He gathered us at the dinning room table and had Constance pass out folders to everyone. Constance was all dressed up official like too. Inside the folders were our meeting agendas all typed and orderly with a pencil for note taking. He even had a table set up off to he side with doughnuts and hot chocolate. Who would have known that a business meeting could be so fun. I am going to save my agenda sheet in my scrap book. Tucker has always been creative with his FHE assignments.

Comments given on facebook at the time it was posted:                                                           Jennifer Smith Barnett You really have the neatest, most amazing children:) they seem extra special—More spiritual; more in tune with family and god than most children are. Such a cute, sweet little man 🙂                                                                               Dena Worster Some kids get it. Tucker obviously does!                                                           North Elizabeth Giles Hmmm…he should come and conduct our FHE’s

“Guide Us O Thou Great Jehovah.”

zion(This was written on March 12th, 2017)


Today has been a beautiful and interesting day. It has set me on a thought process. In stake conference today we sang the hymn “Guide Us O Thou Great Jehovah.” I have sung this hymn many times throughout my life but this morning in the third and final verse the lyrics really touched me.


“When the earth begins to tremble,
Bid our fearful thoughts be still;
When thy judgments spread destruction,
Keep us safe on Zion’s Hill.
Singing praises, Singing praises,
Songs of glory unto Thee,
Songs of glory unto Thee.”

So beautiful! I know that God is love and that love casteth out all fear. I am learning to trust him. I long to be among those standing safely in Zion and singing his praises.

Then this afternoon Constance and I watched “17 Miricles”
I cry from beginning to end every time I watch that movie. I have come to truly love the people whose lives it depicts.

As I thought about all the early Latter-Day Saints had been called to go through for their faith it got me thinking about the lyrics in the hymn this morning. It got me thinking about what I have been called to go through; things I have already experienced and seen and things in the future. This put me in mind of this quote I ran across last year by Elder Maxwell.

“The Church has done many difficult things, and from these achievements one would not wish to detract. But all the easy things the Church has had to do have been done. From now on it is high adventure!”
― Neal A. Maxwell, Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward 1978

As I sat there listening to the ending song after the movie was over thinking on these things I admit it is tempting to be fearfully. But then the words of the hymn came back to me.
“When the earth begins to tremble,
Bid our fearful thoughts be still;”
The earth is trembling! But I am not afraid. Sad sometimes but not afraid.
“When thy judgments spread destruction,
Keep us safe on Zion’s Hill.”
From all that I have seen and experienced in this world I know that God’s judgments cannot be to far off. But I also know that Zion has been promised to those who are willing. I believe in Zion. With the guidance of Jesus Christ I think I am ready for the adventures ahead.

I Don’t Know Much

{This is a memory from exactly 1 year ago.}

Yesterday my heart was very weary. As I was preparing dinner my 16 year old son Clark comes to me and says, “So, Mom, how are you doing?” I breathed out a weary sigh and said, “Oh, Clark, I just don’t know.”

There was a brief pass. Then he put his arm around me in a sideways hug and said, “Well, I don’t know much but from what I do know I think you are doing just fine.”

I could not hep but smile. As a rush of love and comfort swept through me and I was reminded of the song “I Don’t know much” by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville. I wanted to dedicate this song to my tender hearted Clark and to say I love you too! And that may be all we need to know.