Sunday, March 19, 2017

Love is Powerful

I felt I should share a personal experience from a few weeks ago. I hope it's helpful to someone since I share it at the risk of being judged or misunderstood.  Here is the excerpt from my journal:

"I asked for a blessing yesterday.  My thoughts were so dark all day. I had heard something about suicide that morning, and I felt so nauseous and I knew I would feel like that for another 6 weeks at least. Satan likes to get you when you're down.   I felt a desperation and fear and desire to escape most of the day. My thoughts were so negative and they kept bombarding me -  "Death would be so nice... I wish I could die... I hate this...." over and over. It was so unlike me. The thoughts hadn't reached my heart - I didn't actually want to die. But I knew that the bombardment of negative thoughts was going to affect me and was affecting me.  But I couldn't stop them on my own. I asked for a blessing. My dad and Bill gave me one that night.  
Immediately after the blessing I felt lighter - like a weight had been taken off my shoulders. I still feel  sick and nauseous, but not overwhelmingly so, and my thoughts shifted. I thought more about enjoying this short phase as best as I could instead of escaping it. I felt hopeful and strengthened - I could see the light at the end of the yuckiness.  The negative thoughts cleared away.

I know priesthood power is real. I am so grateful for this miracle."
This happened 3 weeks ago. Some days have been pretty hard physically since then, but I haven't felt that overwhelming darkness again.  And I'm starting to feel less nauseous the last couple of days - so I hope it just keeps getting better :) I've kind of been on survival  mode - just doing the basics to get by... but I hope I can start enjoying some of the things I love again soon :)

A little after the above experience, I watched this video and it hit me pretty hard when Christ said, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death." He felt so awful, he wanted to die. But He loved so much that He kept going.

This other song has also been a huge blessing to me lately. It comforts me so much to know that "His perfect love could not be overcome."

I posted that video on facebook last week with the following caption:  This is what I said about it:
I can't tell you how many times I have listened to this song in the last week. THIS IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT. This is why I can get up every morning knowing that my efforts are worthwhile, even though they fall so short. This is why I can feel confident in my ability to raise children in this crazy world. This is why I can move into uncertainty with faith and peace. Because "His perfect love could not be overcome." It never will be. His love beat all fear, pain, anguish, weakness and evil. It still does. The battle was already won for me. I just want to live my life in a way that shows how much I love Him back.

And, lastly, here are some pictures from our outings (Luckily, I have a family that makes me get out sometimes or I'd just stay in bed all day :) )

Walk to the park, and geocaching on the way home.

Look who wants to learn the violin:
I stole these pictures from my kids because I forgot my camera on our Y mountain hike:

We tried going to Bryce this last weekend. It didn't go as planned. I don't want to type it out, but here is a series of texts to my mom and to a friend that day:

We didn't end up finding a camping spot, so we just stopped at a picnic area and ate dinner and roasted s'mores. The cool part of this story, though, is how awesome everyone was. The kids were so positive, they kept looking at the bright side. It was just nice being together. They even found fun things to do while we waited for the emergency roadside service.

I feeling so grateful for my sweet family today.  The only reason I can start to kind of comprehend God's incredible love for us is because of how much I love these people. Love is incredibly powerful.  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

An Exciting Family Announcement, Habit Program Starting, and Picture Updates

We are expecting another Bates baby -  due in October. It's funny, I never in a million years imagined myself having eight kids... growing up, I thought 4 kids was the perfect number. Then I had one baby and I decided that I could maybe handle two - just so that my one baby didn't have to be an only child. But then Heavenly Father gently guided us along paths we didn't think we'd ever take... now here we are - a homeschooling family of soon-to-be 8 kids!  I'm grateful for the adventures Heavenly Father had in store for me from the beginning - and I'm grateful I didn't know what they were back then - I would have been terrified! Yet I am now blessed with more love and joy than I could ever deserve.

Having now almost raised an adult - I can say that (at least so far) the first 4 months of pregnancy are my least favorite part of parenting. I feel sick, tired, and so unmotivated to do anything! It helps a lot to know that I'm doing God's work and that this feeling will pass. In the mean time, I'll just do my best to at least stay on top of the most important things... like the essential life habits that take me closer to God and my family. Habit training will help.

I'm starting my habit training program this week.  I figured that if Heavenly Father inspired me to do this, then He'll help me get it done, nauseous or not. You can just want to sign yourself up for the site if you want to join - you'll just need to type in your email and set a password and I'll approve your request. If people find it helpful, I hope to put the program in book form to reach more people someday - so I'd love it if people would try it and give me some feedback. The site is It's still under construction, but it has enough on there to get us started.

I won't blog about it anymore on this blog  - it will all be on the website, but here is the intro for those who want a taste before signing up, along with the first 2 habits.

21 Habits that Grow People into Their Potential

I am excited to build and improve on some critical habits with you. A lot of these habits are probably things you have thought about doing, tried doing, or are doing. However, there is power in focus. The purpose of this program is to prayerfully focus on two habits per month - one weekly and one daily. The habits will build on each other and by the end of the year, you will have acquired the 21 habits that grow people into their potential and will be growing into yours! You will notice yourself coming more alive as you take these steps.

I will post the two suggested habits for the month along with some principles explaining why these habits are so powerful.  The suggested habits do build on each other, but can be adapted to your individual circumstances. The key is to be prayerful when choosing how you’d like to apply and adapt each habit each month. This whole process will be meaningful and successful to the degree that you involve God in the process and seek His guidance, strength and power in this divine work of strengthening your family.

You can also take the time you need with each habit. If a habit has been really hard for you, you may want to stick with it for 6-8 weeks until it's automatic and solidified. If it is pretty easy for you, you can move on to the next habit in 2-3 weeks.

I have seven children ranging in ages from three to seventeen. I will add tips and ideas for involving the different age ranges. However, the important thing is that you work on the habits yourself first. You can invite your family to join you once you have developed a testimony of their power and importance. You will certainly burn out quickly if you are trying to drag everyone into joining you when they do not sense your joy about living it. You can always go through the 21 habits by yourself this year and invite them to go through the process with you next year if they are not yet receptive.

For some habits, your main goal will be to simply acquire the habit. For other habits, your goal will be to improve the habit in some way because it is something you already do. I will list ideas for both.

If you homeschool, teaching these habits at home could be your entire homeschool curriculum, as it is mine. I have come to see myself as someone who creates an environment where good habits are encouraged and where children can use these habits to forge their own path with God - rather than someone who pushes information into my children hoping that some of it will stick. In establishing this environment, you will find that your kids will not only be prepared for college - but more importantly - they will know how to receive and follow personal revelation for their unique life’s work.

If you do not homeschool, your kids may already be participating in some of these habits at school, but the important thing is that they realize these are life habits - that they continue to engage in them during their days off of school, so that they can continue to use them as tools for growing closer to God even after they leave their school days behind.

Finally,  I hope to make this program into a book someday to reach more people who could benefit from it. If you could help me by sharing your experiences, quotes or scriptures that have strengthened you in gaining a particular habit, or even by correcting my grammar to help things sound more clear, I would be very appreciative!

And also, thank-you! Thank-you for being the kind of person who seeks for ways to strengthen your family. You are so needed in our world!

Chapter 1: Reflection and Daily Priorities

The following two habits are extremely powerful tools for learning to hear God's voice in our lives and acting on those feelings.  When done with the proper focus, these habits will help you and your children learn the skill of receiving personal revelation. The increase I saw in my children's self-motivation and the ability to accomplish their goals was surprisingly fast when we started to routinely make time for these two habits.

Habit #1: Weekly Reflection

We like to do these on Sundays, but I have also seen great success in doing them during hikes or other activities that invite the Spirit and open perspective.

We remind out children that God knows exactly what we need in order to be prepared for the work He has for us on this earth. He wants us to be diligently seeking ways we better tune our minds, hearts, bodies and relationships to Him so we can continually grow in truth, light, and love. The following categories have worked well for our family, but can be modified to meet your family's needs:

Mind and Heart Tuning:
1. Classic Book*
2. Talent(s):
3. Skill(s):
4. Interests:
5. Habit(s):
6. Other:

Physical Tuning**:
1. Food:
2. Exercise:
3. Sleep:

Relationship Promptings:
1. Family:
2. Others:

*Classic books are books where we experience ah-ha moments as we read  - the pages are filled with concentrated truth that lifts our perspective. I try to encourage my kids to read from a classic book everyday - even if it's just for a few minutes on busy days.
** Our bodies are the instruments of our Spirit. Having a better tuned, healthy instrument helps us better hear and act on promptings we receive.

The most important thing to remember when doing these weekly reflections  is to always start with a prayer and ask for Heavenly Father's guidance in how we can improve in each area. This isn't a personal goal list. This is a list of promptings that we are asking Heavenly Father to guide us through. I have found that the quickest way to get an answer to a prayer is to ask Heavenly Father what He would have me do to grow closer to Him... I'll almost always immediately think of something I can give up that tends to distract me from Him, or something I can do to be kinder. This reflection list has really helped me seek His guidance in important areas of my life.

Keep your reflection list in a place where you can access it everyday.

Habit #2: Daily Priority List

I like to write my daily priority  list after reading my scriptures in the morning. My daughter, Jessalyn, likes to write hers the night before after reading her scriptures in the evening. The list is simply a list of things we feel prompted to work on that day in order of importance. We also review our reflection list as we write our priority list each day.

Like the reflection list, the most important thing is to say a prayer before writing a priority list. It is so easy to slip into "to do" list mode. This isn't a daily task list. This is a list of the things we feel are most important to God for us to do that day. I have failed at times to start the list with a prayer when I'm writing one with my younger children - the list seems to loose it's Spirit and it becomes a list of things to do for them instead of a list they are working on with their Heavenly Father.

My older kids write their own list. I ask them to show me or let me know they got it done in the morning just for accountability. I write a priority list with each of my little kids each morning. We say a prayer together and ask for inspiration and guidance for what that particular child needs that day.

Interestingly, when I first started writing a daily priority list for myself - it was pretty long. But as I got better at discerning between my own desires for getting things done versus the things Heavenly Father wanted me to work on, my lists have gotten much shorter.

The second most important thing to remember about a priority list is that it is not necessary to complete everything on your priority list. All that is necessary is that you establish the habit of prayerfully writing one each day. It's helpful to look at the previous day's list and see how you can do better the next day, but it is more important to realize that we will often fall short of our ideal  and that it's okay. Sometimes things will come our way that will suddenly become higher priorities than what we wrote down that morning. That is good. We need to learn to make a plan, but be flexible with it as Heavenly Father leads us moment by moment to what is most important that day.

Also, I noticed something interesting happening after I wrote "Exercise" on my priority list everyday for a while. I didn't always get to it, but in my mind I started to become the kind of person that exercised each day which made it easier to find creative ways to fit it in sometimes. There is something about setting a prayerful intention for the day that helps us find energy and opportunities for accomplishing it.

Here are some sample reflection and priority lists from some members of my family:

Sample Reflection List:

Joshua (age 7):
Classic: Sam books, Long Walk to Water as a family
Talent: Piano
Skill: Math, Geography, Reading
Interest: Singing
Habit: Daily Scriptures and Prayer

Food: Eat 5 fruits or vegetables each day
Exercise: 10 sit ups, 10 burpees each day
Sleep: Go to bed by 8:30

Family: Basketball with William
Others: Be kind to everyone

(more samples on the webpage)

Priority List Sample:
James (age 5)
Remember kind words
1. Scriptures, Prayer
2. Jobs
3. Math
4. Spelling
5. Typing
6. Reading
7. Exercise
8. Practice Magic Tricks
9. Fold paper airplanes
10. Do something nice for someone

(more samples on the website)

The site will also include key points and FAQ. Plus you can ask your own questions, share experiences and give suggestions.

Again, you can sign up here:


Family Pictures from the last 2 weeks:
These girls are the cutest

Me, Dallin, William and Cassia making windmills on the Frontrunner in preparation for this awesome performance:

Dry Canyon Hike with Cassia

Hike to the Y by myself.
 We did a girls' trip to Vegas to see Finding Neverland. We had a great time (even though I accidentally booked a room in St George, South Carolina and we had to scramble for a room in St. George, UT at midnight 😶)
St. George temple

Vegas temple 

At the play

Cozy in our hotel room

Stop at Cover Fort on the ride home

Then some good times with family....
William playing with his little sister

Dallin shooting a BB gun

On a windy day

James asleep in the waiting room after being a haircut

Play of Aesop's Fables at the Children's Theater

Joy Doing a Magic Trick:

 Hike to the G with Cassia:

Wow. I feel like I've been sitting at home feeling awful for most of the last 3 weeks, but putting all the highlights together like this makes me feel like I've been out having adventures all month. Nice!