1.26.2015

how #thearmorofgodchallenge came to be - Part 1


This is a story of unity.  This is a story of how Latter Day Saint seminary students came together all over the world in the cause of linking together in spiritual fortification and protection.  This is a story of how we have the power to fight using the Armor of God every single day.

Back in the beginning of October one night I was preparing to teach Doctrine & Covenants 27 to my seminary class in Monroe, Georgia. The scriptures were about putting on the whole armor of God.  I read the quote in our lesson manual by Elder M. Russell Ballard that said, “I like to think of this spiritual armor not as a solid piece of metal molded to fit the body but more like chain mail. Chain mail consists of dozens of tiny pieces of steel fastened together to allow the user greater flexibility without losing protection. I say that because it has been my experience that there is not one great and grand thing we can do to arm ourselves spiritually. True spiritual power lies in numerous smaller acts woven together in a fabric of spiritual fortification that protects and shields from all evil”

 As I was preparing this lesson I felt the prompting to challenge my students to come up with 100 different ways to put on the armor of God. I decided to have them write them down on small strips of paper and then link them together in a paper chain resembling chain mail. The next day I presented my students with the challenge and they eagerly took to it.  They all gathered around the podium and worked together shouting out and writing down different ways to put on the armor of God. When we were finished I had a student dress in armor and wrapped the chain around him.

It was a very spiritual and impactful lesson. Later that day I posted the picture that I took of my student in the armor on our LDS seminary teachers Facebook page. The page has about 2,500 teachers from all over the world. I extended the challenge to these other teachers and asked if they were interested they could leave their email and I would send over more details about the challenge. 

The first time I posted about this I had 150 teachers respond and show interest.  That day as I was sending off an email to all of the teachers I said "Why don't we take this one step further?  If you take this challenge with your class please send your links to us here in Monroe, Georgia and we will connect all of the paper chains from around the world together to see how long we can make the chain.  Let's unify our seminary students across the world. Let's connect them to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lets hasten the work and excite souls. Let's put on the armor of God and come together to share this message in a powerful, impactful, and positive way!"  I sent my address to all of these teachers with a prayer in my heart that this challenge would turn out to be whatever Heavenly Father wanted it to be.

Two weeks later envelopes and boxes and packages started coming in from all over the country.  I was getting more emails and messages every single day from teachers who had heard about the challenge and wanted to take it with their classes. There were boxes and envelopes with pictures of students from all over the world. Seeing their faces was so powerful and I couldn't believe the miracle that I was witnessing.  It brought me to my knees in tears of humility and gratitude many times.  I was humbled that my small and simple idea had grown in to a mountainous pile of boxes and envelopes so high I couldn't see the ceiling in my living room.

Since then we have received thousands and thousands of paper links from all over the world.  Many of them are from the U.S. With more than half of the U.S. States represented.  We have also had participants from 6 other countries: the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, England, Canada, and Japan. 

There have been over 1,000 seminary students participate worldwide.  

Our final chain is estimated to be 1/2 mile long. 

I am so grateful for the power of social media and through it that this challenge has been able to spread all over the world.

It is so incredible to see the faces of the students who are participating in this challenge. I love to line the pictures up side-by-side and imagine them all as an army fighting this battle. They are a beautiful and strong army.  

Through the small and simple things we do each day we can add a chain link in our armor and protect ourselves from the adversary.   These seminary students are fighting very real battles every day wether they are physical, emotional, personal, mental, or spiritual.  Through this challenge we are all coming together and unifying ourselves in the battle and fighting with each other and for righteousness.  I know that as we strive to put on the Armor of God and put a link in our armor every single day that we can be protected and fight.  We are on the winning side!  

What have you done to put a link in your spiritual armor today?




1.21.2015

open statement to extreme couponers


An open statement to extreme couponers: if you are going to take 15+ minutes to checkout and you see a struggling mom with two crazy kids whiz in behind you, kindly let her know that you might be a little while.  It will be much appreciated.  Seriously. 

Today we were 'that' family.  You know the one you look at and think to yourself, "can't that mother control her children?!" It was mortifying.  I don't know what it was but they turned in to little monsters right as we got in to the grocery store. I've literally never whizzed through the store so fast before in sheer desperation.  

The meltdown was in full blown glory and in my oblivious state of course I get behind the extreme couponer. 

I've literally never seen someone with this many coupons.  I mean she deserves some credit that she saved $110 on her grocery bill but, for the love, I would have loved to know that she was going to nit pick every other 3rd coupon.  

As frazzled as I was we were in straight survival mode.  Avett was hungry so he kept grabbing items off of the conveyer belt.  But half of them were glass.  The last thing I wanted was the glass jar of yeast to go plummeting to the ground.  So it ticked him off he couldn't hold it and it was the only thing he wanted.  Then he was squealing to get down out of the cart.  

Of course every time he screamed Evaleigh cried that it was 'hurting her ears.'  She was so fussy and so difficult I started twitching.  I'm typically an extremely patient person.  But with the combo of my crazy kids and the extreme couponer I was at the steam coming out of my ears level.  Had I known the time it would all have taken I would have gladly gone to a different aisle.  

The woman in front of me never said a word although she was clearly aware of the meltdown behind her.  After we finished our checkout I dashed as quickly to the car as I could while scourering the parking lot for this woman.

I had a plan to calmly and kindly give her my above tip.  She was obviously much faster at puting her groceries in the car than she was at paying for them. 

Please forgive my snarkiness, it's not like me to get so upset.  So, I'm going to go grab my Trader Joes chocolates and sit in the fetal position on the couch until my kids are up from their naps.

*****

(The above picture was taken earlier in the day at Trader Joes which was quite the lovely stop.  Even though they didn't have my coconut chips.)

1.20.2015

bubble





I love my life as a stay at home mom. We live in a little bubble here and our days are slow and sometimes quiet. We keep to ourselves most of the time since John and I share one car and he is at school during the days. 

Evaleigh spends a lot of time doing puzzles and coloring while Avett goes around making a lot of messes. Sometimes at the end of the day it can be frustrating but I wouldn't have it any other way.  We are constantly rotating between the living room the kitchen and jumping off the bunkbeds in the basement. 

With the weather cold now we don't spend as much time outside as we would like but I'm looking forward to warmer weather so we can live outside again.  I never thought I would say I look forward to summer.  But here I am in January looking forward to making water bubbles and playing outside in diapers and undies. 

Of course there are hard things too, I'm really struggling with Avett wanting to be at my feet all of the time he's pretty fussy sometimes.  It can be quite wearing on my nerves. But then I remember that he'll only be this little for so much longer. Parenting is such a roller coaster.

I really cherish this time when we are quite untouched by the outside world, all we do is hang out with each other all day long. And I love it.

1.19.2015

a 3 year old


Well the birthday curse was in full swing this past weekend. Evaleigh turned three on Saturday and a few days before: she started throwing up just like her second birthday. It's been a whole year since she had gotten sick like that and as luck would have it on her birthday weekend she was sick again. Luckily on the actual day of she felt well again. We went out as a family to downtown Monroe and let her pick out some treats at a bakery and the Cottonwood Cafe, played in the pocket park, had some treats, went to the store to get her birthday gift, then came home and put together her birthday present.  We got her a pink tricycle and while she took a nap in the car John put it together for her. When she woke up we played outside until it was dinner time then we had pizza and birthday cake and she blew out her candles. At the end of the night she and I snuggled on the couch until it was bedtime.  A good day indeed.

Evaleigh Joy is such a blessing in our lives we love her so much. She is so funny and so sweet. When we asked her where she wanted to go on her birthday she told us, "Mexico".  One of my favorite things she says a lot right now is, "what's the plan dear?"  She loves to sing and make up songs she is very organized she loves to do puzzles and spirograph.  Although she loves her little brother he's tends to drive her crazy at this age.  She says the sweetest prayers and has the most tender moments I can tell she's very close to her Savior at this very young age.

Happy birthday to the little girl who made us parents.
















1.16.2015

a resolution

My New Years resolution this year was to read The Book of Mormon as many times as possible.  Knowing that I can count on two hands all of the books I've probably ever read I knew this was a big challenge for me.  I read the Book of Mormon cover to cover once in college and it took over a year.  But two and half weeks in to the new year and I am already 1/3 the way through.  I can't wait to keep going.  




I love this book and I know it's true. I love how it works together with the Bible and it testifies of Jesus Christ and brings peace and joy to my soul. It prophesies of Christ before his coming and I know the things that it teaches are good.  I love to read its counsel and pray and ponder and wonder about it. It helps me to be a better person.

Our Sunday school teacher asked us to email her our scripture study goals for the year and I shared my goal with her. She responded and asked me if I had ever read the book of Mormon in a week!??  I had never even had the thought to do that before. It made me wonder if that would be something I could ever do. With teaching seminary and two kids that I am raising during the day reading it in a week is not quite possible for me but I'm going to try my best to finish it before the month of January is over.  Reading the book of Mormon this quickly is giving me a new perspective that I've never had. I love getting all of the storyline in a much quicker time. It's a beautiful book with a beautiful message about our Savior and I'm so grateful for it and what it teaches me.

1.15.2015

The past two weeks

The past two weeks have been fun.  Last week John took Avett off to Colorado by himself, his grandfather passed and he went out for the funeral. (Obviously that was not the fun part)  Grandpa John will certainly be missed. ❤️ While Evaleigh and I were here at the house we had so many dates and did so many fun things together. I enjoyed being with her alone so much even though I was missing the boys. We made cookies did glitter nails went to target and bought a few new toys went on a movie date and to party city for birthday supplies for this weekend and read a lot of books and snuggled together for naps.


Sunday night I went on a midnight run to the airport to pick up the boys. I was so excited to see them and when they got here I got a huge surprise. John's Mom came for a visit! We were so happy to have her here since we don't get to be with her very often. We had a great time together and the children enjoyed her so much. She is the most incredibly helpful and wonderful Grammy! 

Last night was her last night here and John played guitar and we sang music for a couple of hours. It was so good to hear him play and harmonize together. Of course he played my favorite Avett Brothers song, Murder in the City.  I always tell him that I want him to play that at my funeral if I go first. If not somebody else better do it! 

"Always remember there is nothing worth sharing like the love that lets us share our name."




My mom and her husband left on their mission to Independence Missouri. We are so excited for them and so happy that they get to go off on this adventure and serve the Lord. We will miss them terribly but are keeping up with pictures and videos and face time.









12.16.2014

family pictures

It has been forever since I have had the time to blog!  To be honest I miss it a lot. I really miss writing. 

This year has been one that I think we will look back on and wonder how we ever survived. We've never been so busy. Between John having full-time school and a job and me with seminary and two little kids to take care of we've hardly seen each other. But it's made the moments that we do have time together even more special. 

This year has been a year of growth for all of our family. I have really loved teaching my early morning seminary class and getting to know all of the seminary youth in our ward. I love many of them like my own and I love learning about the gospel together every morning.

Evaleigh will be three next month and I can hardly believe it. She is such a sassy responsible and joyful little girl.  She walks around saying sweet things to us like "Merry Christmas!" And "I love you mommy you are beautiful!". She is such a sensitive sweet little soul.  

Avett is our little explorer.  He climbs all over the place and especially all over us. I've never seen a little boy love his mother so much and I love that about him.

 John is trucking along with school and doing a great job at it. He is a very good student and studies a lot. He also works with the men at church. We are both loving what we are doing and even though we are busy we are happy and very blessed.










10.28.2014

the fastest

Our boy turned one last week.  That was officially the fastest year of my life.  And even now I'm feeling a bit weepy about it.  I love him.  We love him.  











It was a simple day.  He spent most of it chasing a bouncy ball around on the back porch.  He was so happy.

He is just the most perfect suprise.  I remember when I was pregnant with him and we found out he was going to be a boy.  John threw his hands up in the air, yelled out loud, and couldn't contain his joy.  

Me? Well I was terrified.  Girls were always something I thought I'd be great at raising. But a boy...a boy was something that I just didn't feel confident going in to.

Now here we are at his year mark and the love he and I share is unlike anything I ever expected.  Maybe it's that he loves me so fiercely but the bond I have with my son is one that has been one of the most unforeseen blessings of my life.

His favorite thing to do is run full force in to my body while I'm sitting on the floor with his arms outstretched as he comes at me.  He loves to follow his sister around and touch what ever it is that she is playing with.  He also loves to lounge back on us whenever John or I are on the floor.  He smiles a lot.  Big gappy toothed grins that take my breath away. He puts himself to sleep for naps and night time.  He loves to play in the trash, unroll all of our toilet paper, and if we've forgotten to put the lid down he can always be found near a toilet bowl.  He is incredibly strong.  He loves leaping off of high surfaces in to our arms.  He has a new wrinkly nose face accompanied by a fake cry that we don't particuarly like but it's growing on us.  He can throw a mean bouncy ball and practically pick up a gallon of milk.

Avett, you've added so much to our lives and you put a smile on your dads face that only a son can.  We can't wait to see who you become. 
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