Why I Still Homeschool

Why do I still homeschool? I know many ask this the question, and I will honestly say that there are days I ask it too! Our family’s situation is precarious. Greg’s health is not great, and he could leave me to support and care for the family any day. We also have August, who has many special needs, and requires extra time and attention. Logically, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that I would choose to homeschool, and I am the first to admit that.

A Little Background

Five years ago, I felt very inspired to homeschool our children.  Because I felt prompted, I jumped in with both feet and started. Homeschooling was always an adventure, and through doing it, our family experienced many benefits. I love the freedom it gives us. We are more able to go on trips and adventures. Our kids are best friends, and they have a lot of time together, which is by far the best advantage. I could go on and on, but these are a few of my favorite things about homeschooling.

I homeschooled for 3 years, and then Greg was diagnosed with vEDS in the spring of 2017. After this huge blow, we started to reevaluate our decision to homeschool our children. At the time, Greg was having pretty much constant complications from vEDS, and we were feeling like it was only a matter of time until I was a widow. I looked to the future with a lot of fear, and couldn’t see being a homeschooling family as a good situation for our family anymore. I felt like my choices were being severely limited by our situation. After much tears, discussion, and prayer, we decided that the best thing for our family was to put our kids in public school. This was a very difficult decision because it wasn’t something I wanted at all. I wanted to continue homeschooling!

Life As A Public School Mom

I won’t lie. I loved the different freedom of having my kids in school and not having to worry so much about their education! It was a good year, and I was able to get my feet back under me to some extent. I had no desire to start homeschooling again, and I was starting to wonder what ever possessed me to homeschool in the first place. But then that prompting came again.

Before the school year had ended, Greg and I had decided to bring one of our children home. In the middle of the summer, we decided to bring another home. It was a hard decision to bring these two children home, but I knew it was for the best. They are older and able to work on their own for the most part. They also have experience with homeschooling, and it was the best option for them for this year. That left two in public school and two at home.

When A Prompting Doesn’t Make Sense

A month or so before school started, I had the strong impression that my first grader (one of the public schoolers) needed to be homeschooled. It didn’t make any sense!  He loved kindergarten at the public school, and was excited for first grade. In my opinion and experience, homeschooling can be in the child’s best interest, but it usually isn’t if they are switched back and forth, especially in their early years of school. I couldn’t see how it would be a good idea to pull him from school and then put him back in if/when something happens to Greg. How could I really bring him home not knowing if it was a long-term possibility? How could this possibly be in his best interest?

I prayed, talked to Greg, and prayed some more. I couldn’t shake the feeling that public school wasn’t a good idea. But I couldn’t make logical sense of doing anything else. So…I told Heavenly Father that I knew what he was telling me to do, but that I was going to put my son at the public school anyway. And then I asked him if he would please help me feel good about my decision. LOL. Yes, I really did.

The answer I got back from him was something like this, “I’ll let you feel good about it for awhile, but you know it won’t last long.” I was satisfied with this, and I put him in first grade.

School started, and he loved it. I loved it for a few days, and then that feeling came back. It was strong, and I knew it wasn’t going to be long until I pulled him. He was only there a week and a half before Greg and I both agreed that bringing him home was best, and I withdrew him. In the end, it would have been much easier for us all if I had listened the first time. However, he is happy at home now, and we are seeing some benefits to having him at home.

Don’t Let Your Circumstances Make Your Decisions For You!

I do not know or understand why I am homeschooling most of my kids right now, especially my first grader. I only know that Heavenly Father wants me to. Our situation is hard, and it could get harder, but I also know that if Heavenly Father asks me to do something, he will make it possible. Every morning I ask that he will make up for my inadequacy and shortfalls. I have faith that this is happening.

One of the lessons Heavenly Father taught me with this experience is that I always have a choice! No matter what is going on in my life. No matter how powerless and hopeless I feel, I have a choice. I don’t have to let my circumstances make my choices for me. I don’t have to do the thing that seems easiest just because my situation could turn any moment. My circumstances may limit my choices, but they don’t have to make my choices for me.

Of course it is wise to take circumstances into account when making a decision, but it is important to not let them take away your power of choice. My reality is difficult, but I have faith that everything will work out. Maybe homeschooling is not a permanent situation for our family. That is okay. I am just doing what is best right now, and I will take it a day at a time. I also believe that if homeschooling is to be a long-term thing, a way will be provided, no matter what happens.

Homeschooling is a joy, and I am grateful for this second chance to do it again. I am grateful for the very powerful lesson I learned, that I always have a choice. No matter how difficult your situation is, you are not powerless. There are always choices.



Cherishing the Moment

Sunday at about noon, I had all the kids ready for church, which starts at 1:00 PM. Greg was already at the church, and we had an hour or so until we needed to be there. I told the kids it was quiet time for a bit, and to find something quiet to do. I went to my room for a little quiet time of my own. After awhile, I heard squirting sounds followed by hysterical laughter from my two youngest boys. I smiled and wondered what they could be doing, but ignored it for a few more minutes, thinking it couldn’t be that bad. This is one of the times that thought was wrong!

My little Owen (age 4) had squirted most of our acrylic paints onto two plates. Paint was all over everything: His shirt, his pants, hands, feet, face, the table, the floor. Right before church!!!  I asked him how he felt about what he did, and he said, “I feel great!”  It was so hard to not smile too much at that statement.

I call him my mural painter because I often find his work all over the walls, furniture, and carpet. Markers, paints, you name it. He is always very proud of his work, even though he has to scrub it off the walls himself.

As crazy as it sounds, I secretly love these moments. Yes, he destroyed his church clothes, wasted paint, and created a big mess, which set us back time-wise. But, I will always remember that day, and I will look back on it with fondness. I will always remember how ‘great’ he felt, and those cute little giggles I heard as the paint was squirted out.

Then vs. Now

Owen is my 5th child, and he reminds me a lot of my oldest, Kayla. Kayla was a lot like Owen. She had a mind of her own, and she did what she wanted to do. She often did artwork around the house, and she didn’t stop doing it no matter what I did. Kayla was also a pro at playing with water in the sink and flooding the bathroom, just like Owen. It was quite distressing to me! My reaction to her artwork was much different than my reaction to Owen’s. How I wish I would have cherished that cute little girl more, and shown her more kindness when she didn’t do what I wanted her to do. I was such a different mom to her. I think maybe it’s because she’s the oldest, but I was much more tuned into her flaws.  When she made messes, she was more likely to get a mad, yelling mom than a calm one who was secretly cherishing the moment.

Owen recently asked me,

“How many days is it until yesterday?”

What a profound question! This question really hit hard for me because I have been thinking about how quickly the time flies, and how no matter how much we would love to go back we can’t. Kayla is now 13, and she has grown to be a beautiful, brilliant young woman. It feels like I was just putting her in time out for painting on the walls. It is hard to believe how quickly the time has gone. I often get emotional thinking that we only have a short 5 years or so until she is graduated and out of the house. I know it will go by quickly. Sometimes I long to go back to when she was 4 for just one day to remember the sweetness that I don’t think I noticed before. I am grateful that I don’t see her flaws first anymore, and I hope she can someday recognize that as well.

Having young children is hard, but it is also precious. Sometimes it’s hard to realize how precious it is until it’s gone. There are so many beautiful things about the chaos this stage in life brings. It isn’t easy to stop and see what there is to be grateful for in the frustrating moments, but when I do, it is always a good experience. I am working on cherishing the moments, even when they aren’t perfect. They make the very best memories.


A Change of Direction

It has been a little while since we had a new post. We started this blog very spontaneously, and have always been uncertain of where it was going to go. It seems that we have a little more certainty now. Greg has found a new side business opportunity – 101 Financial. It is a very exciting opportunity, and he has been very busy with it. He has decided he will no longer be a contributor to Because We Have Today. 

This has left me wondering what to do with this blog! We started it as a way to tell our story together, so not having Greg contributing changes things up quite a bit. I have thought about all the options. Do I quit doing the blog? Maybe I could continue it along the same lines of telling our story with vEDS? Or maybe I could change it up and make it my own? After much thought and prayer, I have decided to make it mine.

I feel that for some reason it is important to tell my story (part of why this blog is in existence). Maybe it’s for me. Maybe it’s for someone else. I don’t really know why. Up to this point I haven’t been as real and vulnerable as I could be, and I plan to change that. This blog is going to be the real story with all of its ups and downs and in betweens. I am excited to continue talking about our journey as we deal with vEDS. I also am excited to add some variety to my posts as I talk about motherhood, faith, parenting special needs children, homeschooling, and other things I am involved and interested in.

Nobody Understands What I’m Going Through

Nobody Understands What I'm Going Through

I have been asking this question of a variety of people: What is the most difficult thing about going through a life-changing trial? I have asked various people from all walks of life, and in a variety of situations. Hands down, the biggest thing I hear people saying is, “Nobody understands what I’m going through”. Isn’t that interesting that we all feel this way? It’s quite ironic that we all feel alone together.

I think it is very true! Nobody understands what I’m going through. Nobody truly can. I have had this feeling a lot myself. I have a different life than my neighbors, friends, and family. They don’t understand my life or my choices. They don’t understand the stresses I’m under. Even those who think they are in a similar situation don’t understand what I’m going through. Nobody understands what I’m going through. I think that may be one of the most difficult truths in this life. It makes us feel alone in the world.

What do you do when you feel alone? Is there an answer to this problem? I think there are a few answers.

Other People

Circle of hands on top of each other
Others can strengthen and support us

I have experienced a huge amount of love and kindness from others. Others have been there for me in my biggest crises. They have taken care of my children, been a shoulder to cry on, cleaned my house, done my laundry, and the list goes on and on.  It is wonderful to have people helping and supporting. Having someone who cares can make all the difference during a difficult time or in a difficult moment.

I have found that the hardest part comes after the crisis seems to be over. Everything has settled down, and the people around you don’t always realize you are still struggling. For me, this is the hardest time. I feel that I have to deal with all the emotions and responsibilities myself, and it is easy to feel alone and that nobody understands what I’m going through.

It is very hard to do, but I have found that letting someone know I’m having a hard day can make all the difference. People want to help. They just usually don’t know how and when to help. Sometimes you have to tell them.

See the Good

It is easy to be frustrated with those around us. Sometimes they say things that are hurtful. They may throw judgment around about things they have no clue about. Sometimes you feel a complete lack of support when you need it most. These things are frustrating because you need support more than ever, and it’s hard to feel it.

You are the only one who you have control of. This is a truth that holds a lot of power. Yes, it means you can’t control anyone else, but the power is in you.  You can choose to see the good in others. You can choose your response to the actions of others

I believe that for the most part people are doing their very best with the knowledge and experience they have. They may say things that are hurtful, or give you bad advice, etc, but their intentions may be good. Even if their intentions are not good, you can always find something that is good about them. Maybe you will have to look hard, but it gets easier with practice.

I choose to see the good. It is incredibly helpful to consciously think of good things about someone when I may be feeling frustrated or unsupported. We are all just doing our best. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is very helpful to you and to them.

A Truth and a Lie

While I believe it is a truth that no one on understands what I’m going through, I think it is also a lie.We all have each other. We are brothers and sisters, and we all go through hard things. The hard things we go through may be different, and they have varying degrees of hardship.

However, I believe that every difficult experience has similarities. Different trials can teach us the same things. Hard equals hard. It isn’t right to compare trials. For someone else, something I don’t even see as difficult could be as difficult for them as what I’m going through. While this fact in and of itself can be very frustrating and triggering, I think it can also be very helpful to understand. We ALL know what it’s like to go through something difficult. Because we all experience trials, we all have some extent of empathy for others going through hard things. We have each other in this crazy, difficult life. Don’t we all understand each other to an extent?

A Look in the Mirror

After my youngest, August, was born, there was a time that I wasn’t feeling very much support. He was needing surgery, and I was having a difficult time with my emotions. We were planning to travel to Philadelphia for the surgery, which required a lot of planning and outside help. I was frustrated with others for not being able to see and anticipate my needs. I felt very alone, and that nobody understood what I was going through.

As I was feeling sorry for myself, I realized that I was wanting others to be something that I wasn’t myself.  I wasn’t the friend, sister, daughter, etc. that I was expecting others to be for me. I made a goal right then and there that I was going to be the friend, the sister, the daughter, the mother that I wanted others to be for me. It is amazing how that changed everything! I started finding myself giving out of love. I felt the joy of serving others, and it was amazing how my love for them increased as I served them. The other amazing thing that happened is that others started doing the same for me. It was incredible!

I most definitely am not perfect at this. It is a work in progress! It is always important to know when to say yes and when to say no, as I describe here.

"Be the friend, daughter, sister, and mother you want others to be for you"


Feeling Alone Forces us to Look to God

Standing alone on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a valley

Maybe it’s a good thing that we feel alone sometimes. Sometimes we are given challenges so big that we can’t handle them alone. I think that’s part of the plan. We aren’t supposed to do this life alone. We aren’t supposed to rely on our own strength.

Sometimes, I think we are given challenges that are outside of our capacity to handle because we will be more likely to turn to God. I believe that even when no one else understands, there is One who does. Jesus Christ felt all of our sadness and pain and loneliness. He understands how we feel and what we need. We can always find empathy there. He is the only one who truly understands what you are going through. He can help us and comfort us like no one on this Earth can.

I have felt my burdens be lightened as I have turned to God for help. Because of the hard things I have gone through, I have a much stronger relationship with Him. I know that even I feel that I am all alone and that no one understands, He does. He is always there.

3 Strategies to Feel More Understood

In summary, we have discussed 3 ways to feel more understood (with a few other little gold nuggets scattered throughout). If you can truly do these things, you will see that while it is true that nobody truly understands what you’re going through, there are ways to feel less alone.

  1. See the good in others. Notice that while they may be imperfect (just like you), they are doing their best. Find something good about them and/or their efforts
  2. Look in the mirror. Be the kind of friend or family member you want for yourself. You will find this to be extremely rewarding.
  3. Look to God. Remember that Jesus Christ understands exactly what you are going through. You always have someone who truly understands. Sometimes we are given things we can’t handle alone so we will look to God and ask for help. He is there. You are not alone!

I know that as you do these 3 things, you will feel empowered. You will feel more understood and much less like nobody understands what you’re going through.


How to Overcome Adversity

Over the last year or so, I have gotten into a routine of listening to audio books on my way to and from work. The books that I have listened to lately have been specifically chosen to help inspire me and teach me new things. I love to listen to gospel authors, but I also like to listen to true stories about how other people have overcome adversity. Listening to this type of book has made me wonder how it is even possible for some people to overcome trials that seem unimaginable. What is it that allowed them to survive and inspire others? I believe it is their high level of resiliency that helps them to overcome such adversity.

As I have listened to various books, I have marveled at how people can be in the middle of a horrendous situation and not only survive, but remain strong. Stories like these fascinate me! They show me that it is possible to overcome the unimaginable. In a way, they give me a blueprint for my life. I know there are hard times ahead for me. After reading stories that are so bleak that they can’t possibly be made up, I have learned some lessons from their lives that will help me not only survive, but come out on top. Through listening to two books: The Hiding Place, and Unbroken, I have learned three important principles in helping to overcome adversity.


One book that I have listened to is The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. It is the true story about Corrie and her family who take in Jewish refugees during World War II. Eventually they get caught and are taken to concentration camps. Corrie tells about how her sister was always so optimistic and grateful. She reminded Corrie of the scripture that says that we should be grateful in all circumstances. At the time, Corrie, her sister, and all the others in the concentration camp were in a shelter that was infested with rats. Corrie had a hard time being grateful for the rats at the time, but then she realized that the guards who were supposed to check on her group every night didn’t want to go in because of the rats. This allowed them to teach the other prisoners and hold Bible study every night. This became something that everyone looked forward to.

  • This reminded me that sometimes what may seem to be a trial may actually be a blessing in disguise. The difference is in how you approach the situation.
  • I’ve heard it said many times that you will always find what you are looking for.
    • If you are looking for the bad, you will find it. You will convince yourself that you are the victim and that life is not fair.
    • However, if you choose to look for the good, you can find that as well. Corrie and her sister, Betsy, were very good at finding the good and exercising gratitude in even the most difficult circumstances. That is very inspiring to me.


Another book that I have listened to is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It is the true story about Louis Zamperini, also set during World War II. The biggest lesson I learned from this book is to always have hope. Louis was an Olympic runner before the war and had the opportunity to become the first person to run the mile in under four minutes. Then the war began and Louis found himself flying airplanes. While flying over the Pacific Ocean on a rescue mission, his crew’s airplane malfunctioned and crashed into the water. He tells of his 40+ days in a raft while waiting to be found.

Louis was eventually captured by a Japanese crew and taken to a POW camp where he was tortured for more than two years. One of the Japanese officials took a special interest in torturing Louis because he recognized him as an Olympian. Louis survived multiple brutal attacks at the hand of this man nicknamed “The Bird”. In addition to being physically beaten and mentally tortured, Louis and the other prisoners were malnourished. He describes how he went from a normal weight down to less than 80 pounds.

The book inspired a movie of the same name. The movie stops at the time that the war ends, but the book continues to talk about life for Louis after the war. To make a long story short, life for him after the war was even harder than during the war. He lived a life of ruin and hit rock bottom. Eventually he turned his life around and became a motivational speaker and counselor for troubled young men. What helped him turn things around? He remembered a promise that he had made to God that, if He would save him from the raft, that Louis would serve Him the rest of his life. He finally decided to be true to his word.

One of my favorite quotes from Louis is this:

“Yet a part of you still believes you can fight and survive no matter what your mind knows. It’s not so strange. Where there’s still life, there’s still hope. What happens is up to God.”
― Louis Zamperini, Devil at My Heels

To me, this quote sums up the resiliency of the human spirit. Everyone of us deals with something hard. We will all deal with many difficult situations in life. Sometimes those times are so hard that we feel like we might break. The fact that you are reading this means that you haven’t broken yet. Why haven’t you broken? I believe it is because there is still hope. Even if there is just a glimmer of hope, it is still there. That hope keeps us going even when we feel like giving up. Sometimes that hope carries us through just long enough to survive, take a breath, and keep going to the end of the trial.


“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” – Corrie Ten Boom

When life got hard for Corrie, she had faith that things would work out. She describes how she felt like Betsy had more faith than her. Betsy was always reminding her to think positively and to be grateful in all things. That is easier said than done. Sometimes it is just too hard to be grateful and faithful. Corrie taught me that it is okay to lean on the faith of others sometimes. We can strengthen our faith as we look to the strong examples of others who have succeeded.

When Louis says there is a hope, I like to think of that as faith. We inherently have a certain level of faith that things will work out. They may not work out exactly as we would like them or with the timing that we would like, but we can trust that all things will work together for our good. As long as we hold on to that thought, we can face whatever trials come our way and come out of it better than we were before.

I know that life is hard. Keeping a proper perspective when things get ugly is not easy by any means. I have felt many times like it was a victory for me to just survive the day. In those times it is hard to maintain a proper perspective. I believe though that, if all you can do is hold on and wait, there will come a moment when things change, even if just slightly. It helps to pray for those moments. When they come, they are beautiful. I have seen so many times in my life when I felt like I was about to break and then my Father blesses me with exactly what I need in just the right way. He knows how to bless us perfectly no matter what our situation.

I believe that our Heavenly Father gives us trials to test us and to teach us, but we must be willing to be taught. My first mission president in Seattle told me once that He doesn’t test us to learn how we will respond. He already knows all things. Rather, He tests us to show us our potential and to prove to ourselves what we are made of. Over time, as we overcome more and more trials, have faith in Him, and give Him the opportunity to bless us, we will develop a level of resiliency that cannot come any other way.

When to Say Yes, When to Say No

We have taken quite the unexpected break this summer! We have had a busy summer full of adventure, and we were having too much fun to write blog posts. We are excited to get back into the swing of things now that school has started again and we are getting into a routine.

In the spring, we received an email from the school district asking for volunteers to host exchange students this summer. I quickly skimmed it, discounted it, and went on with my day, but Greg had different ideas. He really wanted to do it.  As a kid, he had many exchange students stay with his family, and he had fond memories of those times. He wanted our family to experience it. I had so many reasons that it wasn’t a good time for us to have them: we don’t have an extra bedroom; we don’t have room in the car unless we caravan; we are already so busy; we are already stressed; we just don’t need more! These are are all good, reasonable reasons to say no, but Greg really really wanted to do it, so in the end, I relented.

Our summer was quite packed, which is another reason I was hesitant to say yes to having the students. We started our summer with an almost two week trip to Canada to visit family. It was a really great trip, and we made a lot of memories. We did a lot of driving, and got to see a lot of Southern Alberta. It was a fun, but very tiring trip with six kids!

When we got home from Canada, we had one full week to prepare for our two Chinese foreign exchange students to stay with us for two weeks. It was a lot of work to get ready for them, and then to get them where they needed to be, entertain them, and take care of their needs. But overall, it was such a fun and educational experience to have these two girls in our home. We learned a lot about a much different culture, and we got to experience a lot of firsts with them. They had never been camping, fishing, had a water fight, cooked, seen a parade, walked on grass, eaten donuts and so many other things. It was very eye opening.

By the time we said goodbye to them, I truly loved them, almost as if they were my own daughters. It was incredible how quickly we all started to care for them. They felt like part of the family, and they still do. We even have a group chat named “We Are Family”, named by one of our Chinese girls.

As we shared time with the girls, I started to see how now is the perfect time to say YES! It’s true that it was inconvenient. It was a lot of work! But the positive impact on our family far outweighs any negative. It was wonderful to welcome them into our home. It was wonderful to share with them and to give to someone else. It filled our cups, and it inspired the entire family. Now we have friends on the other side of the world. We will keep in touch as much as we can, and hopefully meet in person again someday. It was an experience I would never take back.  I’m so glad we said yes.

What is the thing you have always wanted to do but haven’t? I think we all have things we have always wanted to do. Things we are saving for later. We wait for the perfect time when all the stars align, and we can finally have our dreams. Something that has become more clear to Greg and me the past year and a half is that we don’t always have later. We have learned to live for now, and it has helped us to make some good choices, and to say yes to some things we may not have said yes to in the past. It has also helped us to know when it is a good idea to say no.

Saying Yes

I have started saying yes to quite a few things that I wouldn’t have in the past. I have started to consciously make goals and reach for them instead of waiting for the ‘perfect’ time to get started. We were much less likely to go on adventures because they required a lot of work and sacrifice of time, and sometimes money. We could always do those things later in our minds. It is too hard with 6 kids, we said. It will be easier in a year, or 5 years, or 10 years. That is when we will do those things on our bucket list. I have learned some important lessons about saying yes for myself and for my family.

  1. I say yes to opportunities for memories. This summer we went on two camping trips, to Canada, and hosted foreign exchange students. That is a record for us. It was tiring! But, it was so worth it. We made memories, and we will never forget this summer.
  2. I say yes to new experiences. We go on little excursions as often as possible. When we have a chance to spend family time we do. We love to explore and learn and grow as a family. It is definitely exhausting and a lot of work, but so worthwhile! Even the not so awesome adventures are memorable, if only for laughs later on.
  3. I say yes to service. When I have the capacity to help others, I do. I have found that service, if done out of love, actually increases my capacity to deal with things. It is amazing, but it is true. Maybe it isn’t always big things, but I do my best to give back in the ways I can.
  4. I say yes to opportunities that get me closer to my goals. These opportunities usually stretch me and scare me, but the things that stretch me are the things that are worthwhile. They help me grow and get me closer to who I want to be and what I want to do with my life.

Saying No

I do believe that there is a season for everything, and sometimes that means saying no. The day after the exchange students left, we were given the opportunity to have an exchange student for an entire year. Greg really really wanted to say yes, but I said no to that one, and I ended up winning.  A year is a whole other story than two weeks! This isn’t the season in our family’s life to host an exchange student for an entire year for the same reasons I was hesitant to saying yes to exchange students for two weeks. Those reasons really matter when we are talking about a whole year.

It can feel selfish to say no. It means that you are putting yourself first. That is important sometimes! You have to learn to love and care for yourself before you can truly love and care for someone else. Saying no doesn’t mean you’re selfish. It means you respect yourself and your family, and you value your time. When you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to everything else, so it is important to say yes to the right things.

  1. I say no when it isn’t in my best interest, my husband’s best interest, or my family’s best interest. If any of them will suffer, it is best to say no. Even if it seems like a worthwhile thing, it is important to make sure my family is taken care of before I take care of those outside of my family.
  2. I say no when I don’t have time. If I truly can’t do everything that is important AND the thing in question, I say no to it. It is a disservice to myself if I am short-changing my own time.
  3. I say no if it will distract me from my goals and dreams. If I can’t say yes AND make steps toward my goals, the answer is no.

Knowing when to say yes and when to say no is a very important skill. Both have their place. This has been a difficult concept for me to learn, and I am still learning. I’m grateful for the times this summer that I said yes. They stretched me in good ways. I’m also grateful that I have had the strength to say no when I knew it wasn’t in my own or my family’s best interest.

5 Steps To Improve Self Esteem

 In the months that followed my hospital stay, I struggled physically, but I struggled mentally as well. I began to lose confidence in myself. I began to question everything about my existence to that point. I wondered how long I had left to live and got extremely discouraged about my situation. I had a hard time fighting the negative emotions. It seemed like they were always there in my mind and that there was nothing I could do to get away from them, no matter how hard I tried. I wrote about my emotions almost every day, but my situation didn’t change. I didn’t expect it to since my condition is permanent. That discouraged me even more. I was in a dangerous place to say the least.

Even though I was in a dangerous place mentally, I was also on the verge of a major breakthrough. One day when I was feeling discouraged, I discovered the power of feeding positive thoughts to my mind. I had heard of positive affirmations before from my mentor, Kirk Duncan, and had used some that he gave me, but the affirmations he gave me were just to get me started in discovering my own truth. At that moment when I was struggling, I recognized that I was being pulled in two different directions. I wanted to be happy and to have purpose, but I also felt deep despair. A battle was being fought in my mind and I had to figure out how to win!

It was time for me to create affirmations, or as I like to call them declarations, of my own. How could I create a statement about myself that I could be excited to believe? How could I move past writing about the negative thoughts and emotions that kept surfacing and on to something more? Kirk taught me the steps to unlocking the truth of who I really am. In this post, I will explain the five steps I used to improve my self-esteem and how you can do it too.

1. Recognize the negative things you say to yourself

You have probably heard that we are each our harshest critics. I believe that is true. Have you ever caught yourself thinking that what you just did was stupid? Have you ever told yourself that you will never measure up to “them”? Have you ever thought that your nose was too big or that your ears looked weird? These are all examples of negative things that each one of us tells ourselves daily. You probably have so many more examples of negative comments you think about yourself. Take some time today to pay attention to your thoughts. If you said any of those comments to someone else, how would that person feel? Would you ever tell someone else that they are a failure because they forgot one tiny detail in a report or because they didn’t get all the laundry done? If not, why would you say that to yourself? The fact is that we all tell ourselves such hurtful things and we do it all the time. We do it so much that, although we don’t realize it, it has become our “truth”. We begin to believe the lies we tell ourselves because our brains can’t distinguish between truth and lies. They just believe what they are told to believe, whether true or not.

2. Write the negative thoughts down on paper

It is crucial that you write the negative thoughts down on paper. The simple act of writing down the negative thoughts gives evidence to your mind that you have identified the negative thoughts. This is a big step for many people. It can be very hard to recognize the negativity in your mind if it is constantly there. Here’s a secret about the negative thoughts you tell yourself: they are all lies that you have imbedded into your subconscious so deeply that you believe them to be true. Writing them down gets them out of the recesses of your mind and into the open. You will actually see the lies that you have told yourself!

3. Discover your real truth

Once you have discovered the lies that you tell yourself constantly, your next step is to tell yourself the truth. Telling yourself the truth is as simple as turning the negative thought around by finding its opposite statement. For example, you may tell yourself that you are a failure. This is the lie. The opposite statement could be “I am successful in all I do.” Turning lies into truths can feel strange at first because your mind wants to reject any new thoughts that seem contrary to what it “knows”. If this is how you feel, don’t worry. You are actually on the right track.

4. Strengthen your statements of truth

In order for your mind to accept your new statements of truth, also known as affirmations or declarations, and to fight off the lies, your new truth statements must be stronger than your lies. If your new truth is as strong as or weaker than the lies, it will not have a chance against the lies you have told yourself for so long. You must create powerful declarations in order to overcome the lies. In the example above, where “I am a failure” is the lie and “I am successful in all I do” is your new true statement, you can strengthen that new truth by combining it with another statement such as, “I am a huge success in all I do and I am a positive influence in the world.” The key to strengthening your declarations is to make sure that they feel good and that they are powerful. Avoid putting opposites of negatives in your declarations. For example, you would not want to say, “I am not a failure”. Your mind will not hear the word “not” so it will just hear “I am a failure”. This is your chance to recreate the truth you want to believe. Make it as powerful as you possibly can. Your mind will believe anything you tell it to so you might as well have fun with it and make your declaration powerful.

5. Say your Affirmations out loud

Once you have created a list of declarations, read through them out loud with as much passion and energy as you can. The more energy and feeling you can put into saying your declarations, the easier it will be for your mind to begin to believe them. After all, you are trying to fight off the pesky lies that have weaseled their way into your everyday thought process. They won’t go away easily. They will constantly try to creep back in. It may feel strange to say your declarations out loud. If this is the case for you, try saying them when you are alone. When nobody else can hear you, you can let loose. I like to say my declarations at least five times in a row, at least once a day. Obviously the more you say your declarations and the more feeling you put into them, the quicker they will become part of you. I like to create declarations that I can remember easily so I can say them whenever I want. Then, when I notice a negative thought try to creep in, I can use a relevant declaration to offset the lie that I just caught. If I am in public, I can’t always say my declaration out loud. In these situations, I will just think them in my mind over and over until the negative thought goes away.

In this world, there is so much negativity. It is everywhere. I believe we are so bombarded with it that we often don’t even realize that it is there. We have become so numb to the negativity and we just accept it as truth. Then we wonder why there is so much sadness, hostility, anger, etc. around us. Although there might not be anything we can do individually to prevent a global change for the better, we can do something for ourselves. If we want change, that change must start with each of us. You are the only person that you have control over, so take control of your own life, beginning with ridding your mind of negativity (by writing it all down) and replacing it with positive, constructive, powerful thoughts.

Remember, after you have written down all your negative emotions relating to a specific incident, as described here, your work is only half-way done. If you stop after removing the negative emotions, without intentionally replacing them with something better, the negative emotions will return. To prevent the negativity from returning, you will need to intentionally place positive thoughts into your mind. Just like negativity bombards your mind, you will need to bombard your mind with positive thoughts if you want to improve your self-esteem.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

“Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn’t mean to take”      – Angela N. Blount

Life doesn’t always go as planned. In fact, it rarely does! What do we do when things don’t go our way? The choice is always ours. That is where our power lies.

One morning a few months ago, as I was driving to an appointment, I came upon some construction at a 4 way stop. I wanted to go left, but when my turn came, the construction worker motioned for me to go straight. I signaled to her that I wanted to go left, and she shook her head no. So, I went straight, which set me back a few minutes.

After this experience, I burst into tears, and cried the entire 20 minute trip. This reaction was very interesting to me. What in the world?! Why did I react so emotionally to such a small setback? I knew it really wasn’t about what had just happened, but about what had been going on in my life. Greg had recently had some health scares, and my children had been diagnosed with vEDS only days before.

As I was thinking about my reaction, I thought about how a lot of the time we don’t get to follow the road we want to choose. No matter how much we plan, sometimes we get taken on a detour, and a lot of the time we want to throw a fit about it. I think this is a natural reaction. Sometimes the detour gets us there faster, sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes the road is uphill, sometimes it goes downhill. Sometimes it is a dirt road full of lots of dips and bumps, and we end up on it for a long time, or maybe even the rest of our lives.

There are other people on our detours – people we would never meet otherwise. Other people teach us and need us to help them out of pot holes, etc. Maybe sometimes we are led to these detour roads so we can help others on their way. Others are led to help us on our detours. Sometimes the road seems lonely, but if you only wait, you will realize you’re not really alone. There are other people. There is God. There are angels.

The view is often the most beautiful from the dirt roads. The remote roads hold great beauty as well. Some of the most difficult roads take us up so we can see things from an amazing, new angle. We have a more clear view of the world around us.  

In the end we might be grateful for the detour, for the different scenery we got to see, and for the experiences we had. Sometimes we don’t know or understand why we took the detour for a long time, if ever.

What will we do when life doesn’t go as planned? Sometimes this is the test. Do we turn around? Do we pull over to the side of the road and quit? Do we cry and despair about it? Do we find adventure, and get our Jeep out?  How do you react when life doesn’t go as planned? I have learned some things about this.

1. Lean into negative emotion

It’s okay, and even good, to feel negative emotion when things don’t go your way. No emotion is ‘bad’. There are emotions that are uncomfortable, but not bad. When I say lean in, I mean let yourself feel it. Be okay with feeling it. This is the only way to truly process your emotions. I have had a lot of reactions as I have gone on some pretty big detours the past couple years with the birth of our son, and shortly after, the diagnoses of vEDS for half of my family. I have thrown fits, I have cried, I have wished I could do a U-turn and go back to the road I wanted to be on. I think it’s very important to go through all of this and to feel all of the emotions, to lean into them. That is how to get through them. It’s important to not let the negative emotions take over your life, but so so important to let them come and to feel them. It definitely helps to use techniques to release negative emotion, such as in this post by Greg.

2. Remember that you have power in any situation

The power you always have is choice. You get to choose how you react, and this makes all the difference in the outcome. How you react and conduct yourself is really the only thing you have control over. I have learned that I get to control what happens inside of me. Outside of me can be a complete whirlwind around me, but can I stay calm? Can I find joy? Can I still love my life? Yes! I have found this to be true. It is all about mindset.

3. Enjoy the journey

Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “So often we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to enjoy the journey”. Greg and I watched “The Shack” a while back. In the movie, the main character was being taken on a journey, and he asked where he was going. He was told to not worry about the destination, and to just enjoy the journey. That really stuck with me. It’s easy to jump to the future and wonder where I’m going, how long it will take, etc. There is so much uncertainty. It’s easy to be afraid. But the journey can also be beautiful, even when it’s full of pot holes and mud. There is beauty and joy everywhere, even in the uncertainty and the sadness. It’s always there. Sometimes you just have to look harder.

4. Open mindedness

This goes along with #2 and #3. Can you be open minded about the road you are on? Can you find the opportunities? Every situation, whether you define it as good or bad, comes with opportunities. I truly believe that everything is going to be okay in any situation. Maybe my definition of okay has to change a little bit, but in the end, I will accept whatever happens in life and find joy in the life I have. Can I be open minded enough to see the beauty on the bumpiest, muddiest, steepest road? Can I look past the hard and find the beauty? Can I look outside of myself and find opportunities to lift others on my way?  

5. Faith and Gratitude

I’m grateful that on my detours, I can have faith in One who is much bigger than me; faith that somehow it will be for my good, and that His plans for me are better than my own. Maybe someday it will make more sense why I’m on this road. Maybe it won’t. But I am grateful for the things I have learned on my detours, for the things I have seen, for the people I have met along the way. As I have learned to express gratitude for the good, and even the bad things in my life, I have found increased peace and joy.

Life is full of ups and downs, and it is full of detours. I have often joked that God laughs when we make plans because He knows the true path your life will take, and sometimes it isn’t the one you are planning on. Despite this fact, it is important to keep making plans, keep dreaming, keep living. And when the detours come, take them with excitement for the opportunities they will present. I am grateful for the new perspective I have and for the view I see from the road I am on. 



5 Simple Steps to Releasing Negative Emotion

Have you ever taken time to analyze your thoughts or emotions? When you are in the middle of a “bad day” how can you get out of it? What do you do? Do you believe that you are helpless in the situation and that you can only wait it out? If so, is your whole day ruined if something doesn’t go as planned when you first wake up? Is the day just a lost cause? I hope not. Sometimes you may feel justified in wallowing in self pity for a while. However, there is a time when you’ve got to pick yourself back up and move on. Over the last year, I have learned (and relearned) valuable ways to pick myself up and get going again.

In the last year, I have learned that I can control my thoughts. In fact, I am the only one who truly can control them. Nobody else can think for me. Other people may try to influence how I think, but ultimately the choice is mine. When hard situations arise, just remembering that I have control of my thoughts gives me power. I admit that I am not perfect at controlling my thoughts. I still have so much room for progress. However, I am making progress. I would like to share with you five simple steps that I do to release negative emotion.

Grab a pen, paper, and something to write on

It may sound simple, but one thing I do to gain more control over my thoughts and to identify my emotions is to write about them. When I have a particularly hard day, I will get out a pen and paper and start writing.

Write “I feel ___ because…” at the top of your paper

Start by describing the situation that you have been dealing with. Then let the pen go. Write everything that you can think of. Write all the ugly thoughts that have come to mind. Throw out all your emotions. Scream and yell and throw a good old temper tantrum at the paper. Get it all out if you possibly can. It will feel so good to let go of all the negative thoughts and emotions that have been bottled up. Then something amazing happens. You may start writing about another situation that is like what you have just been facing and get it all out. While I write, I get so engrossed in my writing that everything around me vanishes. All I see is my paper and pen and my hand moving so fast trying to keep up to my thoughts.

Let your subconscious take over

Don’t worry about what anybody else thinks. They don’t get to control your thoughts because they won’t see them. This paper is just for you. You have complete freedom to say whatever you want, in whatever way you want. If you want to do it in big letters, go right ahead. Throw blame around like it’s going out of style. Bring up past experiences if you want. The key here is to truly get into your subconscious and let it loose. Once you do, you will be amazed at what else comes out onto your paper.

Write until you can’t think of anything else to write

If you have done this properly, your paper should be full. You may even have gone on to a second page. You will know you are done when you can’t think of anything else to write. You will feel satisfied with what you have put down on paper.

Take a deep breath… and then destroy the evidence

Like I said, this paper is just for you. Once you have written everything you can think to write, you no longer need the paper, so get rid of it. Burn it, shred it, crumple it, stomp on it, etc. Whatever makes you feel good. This paper represents all the negative emotion that you just got out. You don’t want the negative emotions anymore, so get rid of them in the most dramatic way that you want.

Unlock the power of a clear mind

There are a few reasons that I choose to write my thoughts and emotions. First, writing gives me total freedom to write whatever is in my mind because I know that once I am done writing, I will destroy the paper. Nobody else needs to see what I have written. Nobody wants to know what is in my mind. This way, I have total freedom to express exactly what is in my mind without worrying about what anybody else thinks. Another reason I write is so I can organize my thoughts better. I find that I can explain my thought process better on paper than I can if I just stew in my mind about something. I have learned that there is something magical about writing. When I really get into my writing, I can dig deep into my subconscious to pull out negative emotions and thoughts that I have been holding onto for years, sometimes even my whole life. When I write about something I have been holding onto my whole life, it is like a huge weight has been lifted. Experiencing a connection between conscious and subconscious mind is so exhilarating!

Does writing about a rough situation make the situation change? The answer to that is often no. What it does, though, is gives you the opportunity to let go of the negative emotions enough to start seeing that there may be something to gain from the difficulties you are facing. You may discover a solution to your problem. You may just feel good letting off steam that has been building for a while.

I must admit that I have written so many times about having vEDS. I have written about the initial incident that put me in the hospital. I have written about receiving the diagnosis. I have written about when we received the results of our kids’ tests. I have written about as many “unfair” things about vEDS. Has this taken vEDS away? If only it was so easy! It hasn’t taken away the effects of vEDS. It hasn’t taken away the fact that I have pain regularly or that our family life has changed forever. What it has done is helped me learn how to process such a life-changing experience. It has helped me connect with my emotions, which is something that I used to be afraid of. Connecting with my emotions has helped me sort through them instead of just shoving them and trying to ignore them.

I know that I still have so much emotional discovery to experience. My subconscious has been holding on to so many negative emotions over the years, even before I was diagnosed with vEDS. I would suggest that, if you take time to try this for yourself, you will realize that your subconscious is holding on to too much garbage too.

This is considered a release technique because you are releasing negativity. You must replace the negative thoughts with something or your mind will fill in the empty spaces for you. In my next post, I will teach you what you can do to replace the negativity with thoughts that will serve you better.


Calm in the Storm

Our sixth child was about to be born, and we were so excited to welcome him into our family. We were ready, and I had planned a beautiful birth. Things went fine until the very end when his head came out. Suddenly there was panic, and he was pulled out of me quickly. His cord had ruptured during his birth, and he was not responsive. VEDS was not on our radar at the time, but this would later be the first clue that our youngest child, August, has vEDS. We found out the day after his birth that his right arm was not moving at all. When he was so forcefully pulled out at his birth, the nerves in his neck that control his arm were torn and/or stretched. His right arm was completely paralyzed. He has what is called a global Brachial Plexus Injury.


The doctors originally told us that his arm would heal on its own, but thanks to my mother’s intuition and training as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, I knew we needed to find a specialist. There are no doctors in Utah who are skilled at dealing with brachial plexus injuries like August’s. After some research, we found Doctor Kozin in Philadelphia, and decided he was the one who we would go to. He is the best of the best when it comes to brachial plexus injuries. Doctor Kozin had us send him a video of August’s movement, and from that short video alone, he knew August needed surgery. He told us to schedule a date and come to Philadelphia for the surgery. This surgery was to last all day long, and no imaging would tell us the degree of damage to the nerves. We just had to trust that Dr. Kozin knew what he was seeing from August’s videos. That is some kind of faith, especially in a doctor we had never met!

This was a very difficult time for me personally. The experience of August’s birth was very traumatic, and I had a lot of work to do to get past the trauma. On top of that I was dealing with feelings of intense grief, guilt, and anxiety. The thought of my baby having major surgery was terrifying to say the least. I was so distraught, and I prayed that it wouldn’t have to happen. That somehow we would get a miracle and he would be healed.

When August was 4 months old, we flew from Utah to Philadelphia for the surgery. I was so nervous for that day. How could I be calm all day while my baby was intubated and undergoing surgery? How could everything be okay? I didn’t sleep at all the night before the surgery. Early the next morning, exactly two years ago tomorrow, we took August to the hospital for surgery. The anesthesiologist took August to the Operating Room, and all I felt was peace. I had been so wound up that I didn’t know I was capable of feeling peace in this moment. This was a miracle in and of itself, and I marveled at it.

During surgery, Dr. Kozin found that the two nerves that control August’s shoulder and elbow were completely torn. The three nerves that control his hand and wrist were pulled like taffy and were a big bundle of scar tissue. Dr. Kozin took nerves out of the backs of August’s calves, and grafted them into the two torn nerves. He decided to leave the other 3 alone since we had started to see some movement in his hand and wrist. All went well during the surgery, and Dr. Kozin felt confident that we would start to see some movement in the next 6-12 months.


August is 2 now. He has had two surgeries so far, and he is doing great. He has handled all of the hard things in his life with a smile on his face and determination to get past it. He has never let his arm slow him down. He now can move his shoulder and elbow quite well, and his hand and wrist work ok. His arm is quite limited, but it is so much better than what it could be. I am so grateful for that surgery. It is amazing how much progress August has made and continues to make. It is a miracle.

Looking back over the past couple years, I have had many experiences where I felt peace and calm in the most stormy, heartbreaking times. Even though August’s birth was extremely traumatic, I also felt immense peace and a certainty that everything would be okay. The day Greg was ambulanced from Zion to St. George (the day that changed our lives) was scary, but I also felt such peace and strength. The day we told our children they have vEDS was heartbreaking, but it was also beautiful, and I felt so much peace and love surrounding us. I have no doubt that I’m not alone. I have a loving Heavenly Father who is always there. His grace is amazing. I know that I have angels surrounding me, especially during the hardest times. There are also earthly angels, whose thoughts, prayers, and acts of service and kindness have strengthened me during the hard times. 

For me, the times I have the hardest time feeling peace are when things are feeling more calm and nothing big is going on. When I’m trying to process all the things happening in my life. I have had many moments that weren’t filled with peace. I have felt alone and like no one cares and no one understands. I have searched for ways to feel peace so I can continue living the life I want to live.

The best and only place I have ever found true peace is through Christ. He cares, and He understands. He is very possibly the only one who truly understands what I’m going through and how I feel. He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27). He is the Prince of Peace. If I can be connected to myself and to God, it is so much easier to feel the peace I need to feel. Remembering how peaceful I have felt during the extremely hard times helps too. I know I am not alone.

I can’t say I’m grateful for what happened to August at his birth, but I can say that I am grateful for the things I have learned through my experiences being his mother. He has taught me about peace and calm in the storm better than anyone else. He is one of my greatest teachers.