Life Lessons, Spiritual


I was flipping through my Personal Progress book on Sunday, and a particular “experience” (Integrity #3) really stuck out to me. I don’t know why, exactly. Usually, I think, “yeah, that one should be easy enough right now.” or “um, I should probably work on that one.” or something to that effect. But they don’t usually hit a chord. This one did. So I’ve been working on it this morning. Instead of writing it down in my journal, the thought came to me that I should put it on the blog. It says share your experience, so I guess this is a good way to share it.

The funny thing is, when the instructions said to think about a time that I showed integrity and it was not easy or popular, a story instantly came to mind. An incident that was close to 20 years ago. I don’t know what recalled that particular instant, but it hasn’t left me since.

I was in 8th grade. We had this really boring text book in my Leadership class. The whole class hated it. One day, the teacher stepped out of the room, probably to go make copies or something. The entire class hid their textbooks. The teacher was pretty flabbergasted when she came back in. I don’t know what made her do it, but she looked right at me and said, “Keira, where are the books.” Althought I didn’t stand up and tell the kids no (they were reaaaallllly boring books), I couldn’t tell a  bold-face lie. So I caved and told her where they were. I thought for sure, the whole class would be mad at me, but actually no one was. Maybe because they knew I couldn’t like. I don’t know. But we didn’t have to use those books again. And the class didn’t really care. I don’t know why it’s so ingrained into my memory, but it is. I don’t remember a single other thing from that class, but I remember the time I didn’t lie.

Integrity Scrabble Brick

It’s no surprise that the first example the Young Women Personal Progress book gives is that of the Savior. Even when He realized exactly how hard it was to comply with the atonement, He did it. He suffered for our sins. If He hadn’t had integrity, there would be no plan.

Joseph showed integrity with Potiphar’s wife. To me, that’s not just showing integrity in the obvious way. Not committing adultery is a definite  commandment. But honoring the wishes of an employer and getting out of a potentially bad situation (as well as making a bad situation good without complaint) are also ways to show integrity.

Esther is one of my favorite examples of integrity. I don’t know if I’d have the courage to put my life on the line to stand up for others. I mean, I guess you’d just have to do it. I like that she fasts and prays before she does what she does. In this kind of situation, putting God at the central part of the plan, remembering that all things are possible through him, is the real example of integrity in Esther’s story.

Job never denied the Lord, when times got hard. I think that everyone has those moments when they wonder, with everything going on in their lives, if God loves them, if He really exists, and if He can help. But at the end of it, if you’ve kept the faith, kept believing, then you can show integrity, too. Just like Job.

Daniel didn’t stop praying. God’s commandments are greater than man’s.

Shadrach Meshach and Abednego were willing to die for their faith, but to me the true sign of integrity is something I heard in a conference talk once. I’ve never been able to find it since. In the talk the speaker said once that Shadrach Meshach and Abednego were great examples of the “But If Not” principle. Not only do they stand up for their beliefs, knowing that Christ CAN save them, they know that doesn’t mean Christ WILL save them. The true act of faith, and integrity, is remembering that God’s ways are better than our own plans. They know that they can be saved, but if they are not saved, they know that they will be with their Savior. “But if Not.” Integrity is trusting God. Submitting to His will.

Hyrum showed integrity for delighting in truth and finding what is right.

Paul showed integrity for changing his ways when he knew better. For adimitting he was wrong. That’s a big one!

Joseph Smith showed integrity by never denying what he had seen. “I knew it and I knew that God knew it.” How easy it would have been for him to just give into the world, “yeah, guys, you caught me.” But just because something is easy with Man doesn’t mean its easy with God. Giving into what the world wanted him to do would have eternal repercussions. It would NOT have been worth it. Easy and worth it are definitely not the same thing.

Life Lessons, Spiritual

He’s my Prophet

New photo by Keira / Google Photos

In case you didn’t hear, my Church called a new President. We really believe that God has given us a new prophet after the death of President Thomas S. Monson. It wasn’t any surprise to us that it is now President Russel M. Nelson as the prophet of God. A friend summed it up nicely when he said, “Only in the Mormon church would they replace a 90-year-old man with a 93-year-old man!” But unlike a popularity contest or a democratic vote, there’s a system set up as to whom our next prophet will be. There’s still room for change in that system, but I highly doubt we’ll ever see it deviate. Our church is quite proud of being a “house of order.”

I’m sure everyone has or will have their own experience about our new Prophet and that he is called from God (if not, I invite you to), but I wanted to write my own witness down in a place I would easily come back to and re-read. There was both a special virtual meeting for the members and a press conference to announce who would be our new Prophet/President. I actually watched it 15 minutes behind everyone else because I didn’t keep track of the time (I wish that wasn’t as common as it is. Just glad watching it right behind everyone was even possible). The whole member portion of the broadcast was fine, not really a surprise, but still interesting. It was nice hearing each of the called First Presidency address us. Elder Oaks has always been a powerhouse, and Elder Eyering is my daughter’s favorite. I loved President Uchdorf, too – who is now back in the quorum of the 12, just like when we rearrange a Young Women Presidency – but it seemed like he was everyone’s favorite and was utilized a LOT, so I’m excited to see a change. He will do well in his new assignment. As far as my previous feelings toward President Nelson: He trained the man who saved my grandfather’s life, so there’s that. But that’s not a testimony. That’s knowing he’s a world-renown surgeon and a pioneer in his field.

At the broadcast their messages to the members were all nice. I’m happy that Elder Oaks (President Oaks) let us all know that even though President Nelson is old, he’s still in excellent health and very active. Once again, he’s 93!

Then, there was a news conference where they took a few questions. It was such a juxtaposition to see the things interesting to the Saints and the things interesting to the news media. They wanted to know if his opinion was any different than the previous prophet. Members of the Church were not surprised to be reminded that it’s not President Nelson’s opinion that matters. It’s God’s opinion. Which is the same with President Nelson as it was for President Monson. I loved watching President Nelson put people first over and over in his answers. He talked about how he knew the newscasters before he ever answered their questions. Sometimes he’d even forget the questions. Knowing and Loving the people is important to him. President Monson always said, “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” President Nelson exemplified this during the press conference.

One of the questions (an early question. No surprise. It’s what the Media has focused on) asked how President Nelson felt about LGBTQ agendas. When President Nelson’s response was that they are children of God and paused to let that soak in, my heart soared. I was thinking to myself, “of course that’s the question. But the answer wont change because it’s not his answer, it’s Gods.” And then hearing a reminder that everyone is a child of God… That is all it took for my testimony to find it’s roots. Not only did President Nelson zoom the focus back out to everyone – everyone is a child of God – but isn’t that always the answer? So many problems become minuscule when you remember that the person in question is important to Heavenly Father. The thing about testimonies is that it’s not just about the logical.  My testimony of the newest prophet of God isn’t just coming from my head. That’s the amazing thing about testimonies. Once the roots settle, your whole body, mind, and soul just … know. I know that President Nelson is a prophet of our church, my church. I know that he was called of God. He’s not just some old guy giving old-world advice. He is our Prophet. He is called of God. I look forward to a continued re-training of my thoughts as I hear his messages at conference. Thinking of him as more than a surgeon, but as the man that God has called to lead his church. He is just what God can use right now. He’s clear and concise and simple.

But mostly, He’s my Prophet.



The Swimming Pool Theory

I heard this parable in a support group, once. I can’t find any sources, so this is just how I remember it.

Life can be be compared to a swimming pool. Emotions are equal to water and being able to process emotions is the equivalent of swimming. Some people are natural swimmers, born to families of natural swimmers, but some don’t ever learn how to swim. We start out clinging to the wall. It’s safe. Sturdy. But we get bored of that (about the time we turn into teenagers.) and want to learn to swim. There’s obviously more fun going on in the middle of the pool. So we dive in. The natural swimmers just take off and make it to the middle, treading water and having fun. Some people teach themselves to swim. Some get lessons. And some panic and cling onto whomever is nearest. The only problem is, the other person can’t swim when we cling on! At first, they’re excited to have you in the pool. they may even think it’s fun to have you clinging onto them. But once they start drowning, they don’t think it’s so cool anymore. So they push. Gently at first. But when that doesn’t work, they shove. And they shove hard. They will do whatever it takes to get you off of them. And you’ll do whatever it takes to keep hold of them. Because otherwise you drown.

When it’s finally sunken in (ignore the pun) that this person isn’t going to let you cling anymore, you have 2 choices. Cling to someone else, or face your fears and learn to swim. If you cling to someone else, you’re gonna end up drowning again.You need to learn to swim on your own. And that’s when the pool really is fun – when there are others, also swimming on their own. But they all have to know how to swim.


Life Lessons

Grandma’s hands

These are my grandmother’s hands. I’d like to tell you about them.


This summer, I have taken the drive to visit my grandparents during frequent intervals in order to help them out and give my grandma a haircut. I’m not very good at it, but she can’t tell me that anymore, so I do it anyway. It helps out Grandpa, and the nurse that comes in to help them always raves about how great the new haircut is, so that’s good enough. Even though I am nervous every time. Hair grows back, right?

But let me tell you about my grandmother’s hands. These hands picked and shelled peas and snapped beans to fill jars destined for the canner. These hands served lunch to hundreds of school kids (the rolls were amazing!). These hands made one heck of a “squamwich,” taught me how to embroider (while never giving up on me), and thumped my head with a thimble when I got too rambunctious under her quilt.  These hands were never still! When she was sick, or resting, they’d tie knots in all of the quilt strings. When she was listening to conference or the radio, these hands would knit bandages for foreign aide. When she was talking on the phone, these hands did crossword puzzles and doodled on any paper available. Especially little swirly flowers. Those were her favorite. Even eating dinner, grandma would run her hands over the tablecloth texture or across her buttons under the table. If there was absolutely nothing else for her hands to do, grandma would resort to twiddling her thumbs.

Grandma’s hands cut out cute sayings and glued them to magnets for her magnet board. They bought magnets from all the places Grandma visited. These hands gave hugs that always made you feel loved and wanted. These hands sent secret messages when no one was looking. If she caught you at something, she’d rub one pointer finger down the pointer and index from the other hand. It was grandma’s way of saying “shame shame” when she didn’t want the grownups to hear she’d caught us. She’d also rub her thumb across the pads of her first two fingers to show  mock sympathy (“this is the world’s smallest violin”) Grandma’s hands would even laugh when she laughed, resting across her tummy and jiggling when her grandkids would so something funny and clever. Her hands were connected to relief society arms, which always made her embarrassed, but gave much better hugs.

One time, these hands threw a fork at me in a restaurant! We were teasing my grandpa about fliping food in a restaurant, and grandma’s hands slipped! That fork ended up right in my chin.

Oh, and these hands threw away all the skip cards in every new deck of phase 10 cards Grandpa would buy! She hated the skips. She said they weren’t good for anyone! The person playing them had to get rid of a card, the person being skipped didn’t get a turn, and the person at the other end of the skip couldn’t pick up a card to keep playing.

Now these hands have a lot less to do. Grandma doesn’t say much anymore. Grandma doesn’t do too much, either. Unless reading the same Friend magazine or watching the same rotation of pictures in hr digital picture frame count. Grandma’s hands can barely feed herself breakfast. But They’re still Grandma’s… They still twiddle or feel the texture of the tablecloth. They still jiggle when you make her laugh. Some things don’t change with age.


see her hand feeling the tablecloth?


Grandpa gets pretty tired lately. It’s hard to make up the difference of all that those hands used to  do. I am so glad I get to go “help out,” because it lets me reminisce in what life was like with this bubbly old lady, her jolly husband, and her hands.

I love you Grandma.

Archives, Gratitude Dare, Life Lessons

Why My Mom Likes Thorns (an archived post)

Originally posted on my old blog Feb 25, 2011.
I don’t know what Mom was going through. I was only a kid. But as an adult, I look back, and I realize there must have been SOMETHING going on in her life, when she first came across this story. Otherwise, it would not have meant what it did and still does.
For at least 15 years, but probably more, my mother has had a vase of dried, rose-less thorns sitting in a prominent place in her house. They’re quiet and unobtrusive, but distinctly different, And if you ask her what they’re doing there, she will tell you this story…

by: Author unknown

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.

During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer.

“She has no idea what I’m feeling,” thought Sandra with a shudder.

Thanksgiving? Thankful for what? She wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an air bag that saved her life but took that of her child?

“Good afternoon, may I help you?” The shop clerk’s approach startled her.

“I….I need an arrangement,” stammered Sandra.

“For Thanksgiving? Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving “Special?” asked the shop clerk. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories,” she continued. “Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this Thanksgiving?”

“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.”

Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the shop clerk said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.”

Then the door’s small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, “Hi, Barbara…let me get your order.”

She politely excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses; Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there were no flowers.

“Want this in a box?” asked the clerk.

Sandra watched for the customer’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.

“Yes, please,” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn’t be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again,” she said as she gently tapped her chest.

“Uh,” stammered Sandra, “that lady just left with, uh….she just left with no flowers!”

“Right, said the clerk, “I cut off the flowers. That’s the Special. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.”

“Oh, come on, you can’t tell me someone is willing to pay for that!” exclaimed Sandra.

“Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling much like you feel today,” explained the clerk. “She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery.”

“That same year I had lost my husband,” continued the clerk, “and for the first time in my life, had just spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.”

“So what did you do?” asked Sandra.

“I learned to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly. “I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and never to ask Him why those good things happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important. I have always enjoyed the ‘flowers’ of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.”

Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her. “I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.”

Just then someone else walked in the shop.

“Hey, Phil!” shouted the clerk to the balding, rotund man.

“My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement…twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems,” laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

“Those are for your wife?” asked Sandra incredulously. “Do you mind me asking why she wants something that looks like that?”

“No…I’m glad you asked,” Phil replied. “Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord’s grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem. He rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from “thorny” times, and that was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific “problem” and give thanks for what that problem taught us.”

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special.”

I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life,” Sandra said to the clerk. “It’s all too…fresh.”

“Well,” the clerk replied carefully, “my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don’t resent the thorns.”

Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment.

“I’ll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please,” she managed to choke out.

“I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I’ll have them ready in a minute.”

“Thank you. What do I owe you?” Sarah asked.

“Nothing; nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me.” The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first.”

It read:

“My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the life I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant.”

Praise Him for your roses, thank him for your thorns.

A Day in the Life

Mentally Scary Mommy Moment

I’m taking a break from all of this work stuff to watch a movie with my daughter. (Confession: I’m reading homework while she’s watching. Only half counts). It’s a quick-made Disney channel movie, but it’s still cute. In the movie, the princess must flee quickly. No big deal. Normal plot. And we’ve watched it before. Regular movie-watching, right? Then My daughter asks a question and I’m suddenly aware of how old she’s getting and how unprepared I am for the realization.

“Mom, where is her emergency kit? and shouldn’t she be taking it with her, like I would have to do?”

I should be thrilled she remembers such an important safety element. I am! But instead it suddenly occurs to me that she is aware of the concept that there could be a time when she would have to flee without me.

That is a scary thought. One I really don’t want to entertain. But I am beginning to realize that her Tinkerbell backpack is not going to cut it. Suddenly, I’m not thinking “what happens if my family had to leave quickly, what will WE need.” I’m thinking “what do I want my daughter to have if she were ever to get separated from me?” I think I’ll be re-vamping our emergency kits very soon.

A Day in the Life, Life Lessons

One Life

[warning]This post is kind of scattered, because my thoughts are raw. Also, this post involves death, which might be a trigger.[/warning]

UntitledWritten at about 6: I just got word that my grandma might not survive the weekend. Probably not even until tomorrow night.

It’s silly that I’ve known that this could be coming for more than a month, now, and have felt absolutely no sorrow for it; she’s lived an amazing life, and she gets to be with her husband and daughter again. Her only daughter. And now, in her last hours, I’m so sad! Suddenly, I’m not thinking about how SHE feels about this, I’m suddenly realizing I have feelings, too!

This is the woman who held my hand through the delivery of my daughter. This is the woman who helped me out of so many scrapes, especially when everything hit the fan. She loved me and always had my back.  I guess, up until now, I’ve just been happy for her chance to move on to “the next great adventure.” When I went to visit her a few weeks ago, we talked about life. We talked about everything she was going to have to go through. She told me she wasn’t afraid of the other side, she was just afraid about how long it would take to get there.

I look back on the day my daughter was born differently, now. At the time, I called her because my ex was an hour and a half away and didn’t want to leave his meeting (at the time, I thought he couldn’t leave it. But my perspective has changed since then. No boss would expect a man to miss the birth of a child. Not in Small-town, Snowbank where we used to live). Grandma had told me that if I needed anything, all I had to do was call. Well, when it looked like I was about to have my very first baby all by myself, I called! It was a little awkward having your grandma there. But now… now I’m so glad I did. All of her other grandkids talk about all she did for them. But she never did that for any of them. Just me. Years later, she told me how much it meant for her to be there. She only had one daughter, as I said. She told me at that moment, I became her daughter, too. And she got to hold her daughter all over again, and help her daughter through life, all over again. Her daughter made a lot of hard choices in her life, picking men about like I picked them; some really dangerous and oppressive, and one really, really great guy. Grandma never judged me for my past, just helped me pick up the pieces. She never called my ex names, but helped me through all the problems he left me, even though he caused problems for her, too. Really expensive problems. She’s my hero.

Written at about 10: When I told my daughter about Grandma, she took it really hard. At bedtime, she prayed the sweetest, most inspired prayer. “And please bless Grandma, and let her have fun with Adella. And help her be happy up there. And help us be happy down here. ” It was said just about the time my grandmother actually slipped to the other side. Adella is my sister’s angel baby, she lost last spring.

Help us be happy down here…

Life Lessons


I have been reading the Old Testament for about 4 years. I’m still in Kings. I’ve changed the direction of the goal, though. Instead of reading to a specific point each day, thereby getting exhausted, and not reading for a few days afterwards, I am just going to read every day. Get as far as I get, and embrace the change. I know, sort of a no-brainer solution, huh? That’s what I get for looking so close to the problem.

I do have to say, up until the last few chapters of 2 Kings, I was determined that I would never read through the books of Kings again! So depressing and dry. I’ll take Leviticus any day. And then I come across a humble king in all the history of Kings named Hezekiah. He’s my hero. He saves the whole book for me. Here’s a guy, knowing all is lost, and still fighting for restoring faith to his people. He already knows Judah is going to face the same fate as Israel in a few short years, and yet he gives it all he’s got to save the people. Isaiah even says that it’s too late, that their fate has already been sealed. But that doesn’t stop Hezekiah from going to and doing the work. If you need a hero that fights for lost causes, he’s it. Then, he’s informed by Isaiah of his imminent death, pleads with God for more time, and is granted 15 more years. He’s also granted the opportunity to die before he sees the cause be utterly lost.

Gratitude Dare, Life Lessons

That Time I was Mad at God

This post is for my friend. It’s taken some time to write because I needed time to think about it and then forgot to come back and write it. I never forgot about her question, just never at a place to sit down and share my thoughts.

There once was a time that I was so mad at God at how my life was turning out. I felt so guilty for being mad at Him, so I’d berate myself constantly. God doesn’t do anything wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’ve done everything I needed to with the resources he gave me. I’d attended all my meetings, I’d fulfilled my callings, I’d kept his commandments. And still things weren’t going my way; instead they were getting much much worse. Almost daily. Family relations were tight. Finances were tight. I kept getting sick.  Nothing seemed to be going right. And I was exhausted.Finally, one day I just gave up. I went for a run to clear my head and the whole time I mentally screamed at God. Full on chewed him out. Told him repeatedly it wasn’t fair and how dare He and that he must not love me at all. Seriously. Stuff we’d be furious our kids said to us. But that’s how I felt. I then sobbingly told him everything I felt was unfair (the perks to running in a small  town: no one sees you bawling in the middle of your run). Just let it all out. And let the shame of my anger go with it. It seemed so shameful to chew out Deity. I wasn’t allowed to chew out my parents, and this was GOD! Totally inappropriate, right?


Actually, I don’t think it was. Here’s why.

When I had finally calmed down and just bawled while I ran and got it all out, I had a perfect thought pop into my head.

“I am so glad you finally got that all out. Now we can talk.”


God doesn’t need shame. Me chewing him out doesn’t make Him less of a deity. In fact, I felt such peace and serenity after getting it all out, like I could finally accept Him as deity. It felt like God was saying “I’m so  glad you finally decided to come to me so we can talk about this! I’ve been waiting. I know you’ve been feeling like life isn’t fair. I’m so sorry you’re hurting so badly. But I can’t help you until you’re ready. I’m so glad you’re finally ready to be with me again. I miss you when you distance yourself.” God loves me so much, he just needed me to come to him with how I really felt. But I was so embarrassed that I was mad at God that I distanced myself from Him. Not openly, but emotionally. Shame kept me from coming to God with my frustrations.

What an amazing parent! To rejoice in my anger because it could bring me back to Him. I learned a lot about shame that day. And parenting. And love. And God. He and I still have some trust issues to work out, I’m not denying that. But He’s waiting for me. When I’m ready, we’ll be there together.

So to discuss gratitude: Sometimes we’re not grateful for things. And that’s totally okay. I don’t think we should fake gratitude. It’s like hiding in shame. Instead, find that one good silver thread. Be grateful for that. That’s all you have to be grateful for. Otherwise, let yourself be angry! You don’t have to be grateful for anything you’re not feeling. As long as you do feel it. And if you can’t find a silver thread, that’s okay, too. Just be honest with yourself and with God. Some day, that gratitude will come. It doesn’t have to be today. Just let it teach you.