Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My Hope is in Christ

*****This excerpt from my journal is the voicing of answers to questions I've had about why I and others go through hard things that seem unfair and just plain dumb. I hope all readers (if there are any haha) will be respectful of my faith :) I felt compelled to share, even though it absolutely terrifies me. It's a bit heavy and boring...sorry****

I’m sitting on my dirty porch, watching the little boys run around the muddy yard while their dad chops at roots. I should be finishing an assignment….folding laundry….preparing dinner….chopping roots…or straitening the toys strewn across the family room floor. But the deep, continually percolating thoughts in my heart feel about ready to come forward. So, before I lose my nerve, I think I’ll stop and give them their due.

It seems as though every day I read another story where one of my brothers or sisters in Christ express their feelings of loss, pain, isolation, and hopelessness because of their circumstances. Whether due to others’ actions, mental illness, physical ailments, or a variety of things, they’re hurting. They hear the promised blessings of gospel living and, despite trying so hard, continue to feel burdened by their circumstances. Often times they are stung by unwise counsel, misunderstandings, thoughtless words, and well meaning reminders of the blessings they feel they will never have. I hear their words, the feelings they bravely share with me or with the public, and I wonder why. Why can’t it be a simple formula where righteousness always equals the blessings we so desperately want.

As a young girl and teenager this is how I assumed it’d work. I thought if I was good: read my scriptures, said my prayers, kept the standards, dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s, I’d eventually get every good thing I wanted. As I’ve crossed the threshold of adulthood however, I see such is not the case. Certainly there are blessings from striving to keep the commandments, but those blessings are not centered around us and our agenda, but around the fact that it is through exercising faith, that we are enabled to be closer to our Heavenly Father and Savior.

Ultimately, I've found that joy comes from knowing my Savior and Heavenly Father. It comes from having the Holy Ghost as my companion. It does not come from having a fancy home, nice car (Thank goodness! My bumper is currently held on by duct tape…) or yearly vacations. It doesn’t even come solely from having children or being married. Certainly those things are joy filled blessings; but they are blessings because they enable me to better become like my Heavenly Father and Savior, and thus prepare myself to return to their presence. I am firmly committed to family and its importance. After all, I married my sweet heart at 19 and had a baby 10 months later J But the reason my family brings me joy is because to truly serve, love, and enjoy them I am forced to let God change me into someone more like Him (even though it’s painful and I generally fight every step of the way). ******* In making sacred covenants to my husband and Heavenly Father, I enter a path that leads me to become like Him. And being like Him is what brings happiness.

When I exercise faith and choose to love the Savior with my life, I find hope. I find hope because I am able to cast my burdens onto Him and trust that all will be OK in the end because of Him. So often, I think it is in the broken parts of my life that I find my desperate need and love for the Savior.

I think of Captain Mormon, the famous historian, and his long life of violence. He became a general for a wicked people, a people destined for destruction, at the age of 15. Imagine his life: filled with the horror of watching his loved ones lose their souls and lives. Imagine the PTSD, the sleepless nights and tear stained pillows. I wonder if and when his sweet heart was stripped from him. I wonder if all of his children stayed true to the faith, or if they joined in the wickedness around him. How did he do it? How did he go on when his life was so far from the perfect? I believe the answer lies in Mormon 1:15: He “tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus”.

Did you read that? It didn’t say: he tasted and knew of the goodness of eternal marriage, or the goodness of bearing children, or the goodness of his dream career. The one thing that gave him the courage and motivation in the midst of darkness was his…our…Savior Jesus Christ. It was by coming to know Him, that Mormon found his joy, his slice of heaven on Earth. 

I think it is no coincidence that in these most recent latter days, as questions concerning the origins of happiness and fulfillment plague our hearts, our inspired leaders tell us to get back to the Savior. I need to take the Sabbath day, particularly the Sacrament, seriously. I need to remember Him, and what He’s done. I am here to show Heavenly Father that more than all else, I love Him and want to return to Him. In utilizing the Atonement daily, I find the joy that comes from this slow, uniquely personal, journey towards exaltation.

This is not to say we shouldn't strive for good things. Of course we should! We should do all in our power for the blessings we desire! But sometimes, despite our efforts, blessings are withheld. Waiting for unrealized blessings is agonizing and I think it's healthy and natural to mourn in our unique ways. But in our mists of darkness, where we feel so alone and at odds, I hope we can remember this: Our hope is in Christ. He did what He said He would. He knows us. He loves us more than we can comprehend. He will mourn with us. He truly is the best, kindest, most caring friend we can have. He will lighten our burdens, open pathways, and give us the strength to find joy amidst pain.

I don’t know whose difficult story I will hear about tomorrow. My heart already aches for it. I hope I can provide a hug, listening ear, or the right words to the next heart poured out to me. I hope I will be willing to wrestle with God, to get answers to things I don’t understand. I hope I will continually seek witnesses from the Spirit to know that the counsel from the Lord’s chosen servants does indeed come from Him. I hope that whenever my next trial strikes, I will remember to cling to my Savior. Most of all, I hope I will trust that no matter what, my hope is in Christ, and because of that, I can have joy in all things.

***** Post Edit Note: I am not saying that eternal marriage and the creation of families are not important, or just "good things we could possibly fill our times with". I hope no one took my words as such. As we know, the doctrine of the family is  such that marriage and family creation is pivotal to the Plan of Salvation. The Earth was created, the fall happened, and the Atonement was performed all so we could have a place to have families. Matrimony is essential to becoming just like God. I have a testimony of all of that: my point was that when those blessings don't happen for us, or when difficulties arise in our families (as they will for everyone), that doesn't mean we're doomed to a miserable Earth life or that we are somehow "less than". As Elder Christofferson says: "With confidence we testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has anticipated and, in the end, will compensate all deprivation and loss for those who turn to Him. No one is predestined to receive less than all that the Father has for His children" (bold emphasis added). Anyways, I hope nobody thought I was diminishing the importance of family. My beliefs about family are best articulated in the following talks:
"Why Marriage, Why Family"

"Teaching the Doctrine of the Family"

"Defenders of the Family Proclamation"

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Checking in and First Trimester Survival Guide

We've been busy with the holidays and day to day life activities. I feel like the weeks FLY by until next thing I know months have passed. We're still plugging away at our house and have decided that 2017 will be the year we work on our yard. So stay tuned for that!

Most excitedly though....WE ARE HAVING ANOTHER BABY!!!!!!! Whooooohooooo! Carter and I are SO excited! We are overwhelmed with this amazing blessing and can't wait to meet our new little guy. I am currently 19 weeks pregnant and glad to see the first trimester symptoms ease up. Many times I found myself googling "how to survive pregnancy discomforts with a preschooler and toddler" and unfortunately there wasn't much help. So, I decided that since that stage is behind me, I'd write my own survival guide with the hopes that it might help someone. Every woman and pregnancy is different so I doubt everything will apply, but I hope any tired pregnant mamas will find some comfort here. At the very least, I'll enjoy looking back on this post to remember what I've learned.

This post is SUPER long, so go to whatever topic suits you. I promise I'm not trying to seem like I have everything together, I just know this is the sort of thing I wish I had read a couple months ago. So without further ado, here are some things I've learned and am still learning

Attitude: The most important thing I can do was remember how grateful I am for this little life. Certainly, sometimes pregnancy comes at a surprise and it may be very hard to feel excited, but I think if we consciously recognize our negative feelings and either get help with them or deliberately work through them we can find ways to improve our thinking. On the hardest days I had to remind myself that this baby is a gift. As I let that truth wrap itself around my heart, I felt peace.

Connection with God: I know not everyone is religious, so apply this however you will, but I think that connecting with God every day is the only way I thrive in my mothering. Especially during challenging times. Some days I only have five minutes to give and others I can spend more time in study and prayer; but I've found that as I offer my heart and asked for guidance, I feel the love of my Heavenly Father and am able to better bear the burdens of the day. Making time for spiritual health, no matter your religion, brings an inner solace that buoys you up during difficulty.

Mood Swings: Without the addition of pregnancy hormones I am a very up and down person. I have a tendency towards anxiety and depression and have had to apply cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, relaxation methods, and ample exercise to help regulate my sometimes difficult moods. When I'm pregnant I notice that I tend to feel more down and easily upset. To combat this I first: recognize it for what it is. This is not me, this is my poor brain dealing with changing hormone levels. Recognizing this helps me extend grace to myself, and also see the humor in the situation. It also helps me not take out my weird moods on my family. While we ladies certainly deal with our fair share of hormonal ups and downs, I don't think that's an excuse to be rude to people, especially our family (I'm not perfect at this!). Instead we need to understand what's happening and then give ourselves the break that we need. Second, I do what it takes to help myself out. Whether that be taking a nap, going for a walk, writing out my thoughts, taking a break, completing a mood log, calling a trusted friend, WHATEVER IT TAKES! During a really hard day I texted my friend asking "At what point am I actually insane and not just a normal mom? I know that some insanity is par for the course in motherhood, but when do I need to get help". I think the fact that I even asked that question meant I needed some help, and I'm happy to say that I got it :) Some days are just hard, and that's OK. If you're consistently feeling blue/anxious with little to no relief, please talk to your doctor and loved one.

Nausea: I dearly wish there was a straight shot fix for nausea. I'm sure whoever comes up with one will be a billionaire. I pretty much always feel nauseous the first three months; some days it's worse but it's always there. I think the only way to deal with this is survival. If you're unable to keep any food down, certainly talk to your doctor. But overall, I say try to keep something in your stomach, get outside (the fresh air helps me), and know you're not alone. I was generally not interested in anything I had made, so getting take out or enjoying meals other people prepared helped. While I tried to eat nutritiously, I had aversions to a lot of healthy options, and so I did the best I could.

Exercise: When I was very early in the pregnancy (like 4 weeks) I ran a Spartan Beast. It was such a fun event and I had to be in pretty good shape to complete it. The current pregnancy recommendations are that you can keep up with whatever you've been doing at least in the first trimester. I assumed I'd be able to keep up my normal routine, but just a couple weeks after the Spartan I noticed a huge difference in my ability to exercise. I'd go to the gym for literally 20 minutes, doing light cardio and moderate lifts and I'd be light headed, dizzy, and extremely nauseous. I had been doing the Kayla Itsines BBG program as part of Spartan training, but I struggled through even half of her work outs. So, I cut back immensely. I slowed my cardio to a walk and only do a couple strength training work outs a week. These work outs are about 10-20 minutes long and I use light weights. Basically, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. I went running a couple weeks ago and felt great, but then two days later when I ran again I got really bad cramps and felt awful. Every run has felt that way since. So I don't run :) Exercise is the most important thing I do for my mental health so I don't consider it optional; however, I have to go at a pace that feels good. And I love it! For me, pregnancy exercise is about supporting a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum recovery. It's not about maintaining a certain physique.

Caring for the boys: SLOW DOWNNNNNNNNN!!! Remove anything that is not necessary. Seriously. You can say no. That's the biggest thing I had to learn. Usually I try to multi task and struggle to relax in my home because I always see something to care for (cleaning, laundry, organization, etc). It's hard for me to just sit and be when there's something to be done. BUT my tired tired body needed to take it easy and so I would often set the boys up with an activity and then rest close to them. They'd do play dough or stickers at the table while I rested on the couch, or they'd play with legos in their room while I read to them. In keeping them contained, occupied, and close to me, I was able to lay low. When they needed to get wiggles out I'd make them obstacle courses in the house they could run and jump through. They loved doing "races" where they run from one end of the house to the next. And every evening Carter is good to tustle with them. Twice a week Jayden has Joy School and once a week we go to church where both boys have classes with kids their age so I figured if that was the only socializing they got it'd be fine. Occasionally we'd plan play dates with friends and cousins, and I just planned to take it wayyy easy once we got home (taking kids out is exhausting even when you're not pregnant!). But aside from Joy School, church, and the occasional play date, we rarely went out and that was just great. There were a few times where the three of us sat on my bed watching a movie and it was so fun. While feeling tired each day is hard, it's a good opportunity to sit and be close to your littles.

Homemaking: Simplify, delegate, and streamline. Early in my pregnancy before I felt nauseous I prepared 36 freezer dinners. It was two days of a lot of cooking, but holy cow it helped. Unfortunately, none of them have been appealing to me because of weird pregnancy aversions, but they've kept my family fed and our grocery bill down. If you can't do that though, either make very simple meals or delegate that task. As far as cleaning, we have one pick up time each day when we put toys away and straiten everything up. In the mornings we make beds and pick up rooms before the day begin and after meals I immediately put dishes away. Then whenever I use the bathroom I pick everything up and wipe down the counters/toilet as necessary. This sounds like a lot, but these little routines don't take much time and keep things relatively picked up. I do one, maybe two loads of laundry a day and that keeps clothes in our drawers. BUT some days (or most days for some ladies!) are just awfully hard, and on those days I say let it go and survive. Definitely. Messes can wait :) All will be well!

Rest: REST AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. I at least laid down during my boys quiet time, even if I couldn't nap. I make getting enough sleep a top priority, and trust me, with all the sleep I need, that's not easy. It's important to my husband and I that we get time together each night, so we put the boys down pretty early (7pm most nights) which gives us enough time to hang out, but still get to bed at a good hour. I also let myself sleep in until my boys wake up. Some moms swear that they need some time to themselves early in the morning, but I find that when I'm pregnant, the sleep is more important. So I give myself that grace and wake up to my Jayden saying "Momma! The sun is up! It's time to wake up! Hurry or we'll be late!" It's pretty adorable. Basically, the point is, make sleep and rest a priority. Your body is doing SO much work while pregnant and you need it.

Grace: Most importantly, give yourself grace sweet mama. While pregnancy is an incredible blessing, it is very hard on some days and it's OK to recognize that. If you're barely able to eat, and always feel like you have the flu, please don't worry about not cleaning/working/doing whatever you do usually. Just survive. Find someone you can express your feelings to. Pray with all your heart, and believe that all will be well. Your kids will be SO blessed by their new sibling. I think about my five brothers and sisters and can't imagine life without them. I am eternally grateful to my mom for bringing them into the world to be my buddies, even if it meant she was not at her normal capacity for a while. Honestly, the excitement of her pregnancies were some of the most wonderful times of my childhood! So rest assured you are doing important work and let the rest go. Say no to unnecessaries and know you're not alone.

Lots of love! I hope something helped someone!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Hey Cyberspace. Today I need to let my hair down a little and share some things I'm struggling with. My purpose in doing so is to help others who struggle know they're not alone, and to process my challenges so that I might better find solutions.

Parenting is exhausting and hard. It is truly a refiners fire where you must learn to embrace the joy that comes from giving of yourself or shrink in bitterness. I am a very selfish person at heart and struggle every. single. day. to not be frustrated and whiny about what is asked of me. I want my home to be a happy, peaceful, nourishing environment. I want my kids to look back on their childhood with feelings of warmth. I want them to get every opportunity available to learn and grow. I want (NEED!) my life and surroundings to be organized and beautiful. I want enough time to connect with God, to sleep, to eat nourishing foods, to improve my mind, and to exercise. I want to fulfill all of my church responsibilities and make time to nourish my community. I want to learn new hobbies that will improve my home and mind. I want to do and be so many things BUT. I. JUST. DON'T. HAVE. ENERGY. OR. TIME. And that folks, frustrates me to no end.

What is the balance? What do I let go of? What do I put on a shelf for that nebulous "someday when things slow down" (HA!). There are so many wonderful ideas out there on how to live your life, and all make great arguments. I want to find my niche and feel comfortable with it. But I have no idea what my niche is? Am I the exercising/health minded mom? The June Cleaver homemaking champion mom? The hobby homesteading mom? The crafty mom (ok. we all know I'm not that). The intelligent always reading/writing/teaching mom? What do I want to be???

Because right now I'm the tired mom who is trying but usually failing. Anyways....I'm on a journey to figure out what it is I like and want to do with myself. In the mean time I'll be wiping runny noses and playing Thomas the Train with my littles.

Does anybody else struggle with this?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Welcome Home Elder Chancey! Family Pics

     It has been a wild month! We've done lots of traveling and spending time with family. It all began when my little brother Chancey came home from his two year mission to Busan, South Korea. We hadn't talked to or seen him for two years except for one hour Skype sessions on Mothers Days and Christmases. We all missed him so much but were so happy for all he was learning and doing.

(post edit note: we did email Chancey each week while he served, so there wasn't COMPLETE silence. THANK GOODNESS!) 

      In our church, boys and girls have the opportunity to serve missions where they get to learn to love and serve people far away from their homes. The purpose of these missions is to help other people come closer to their Savior, Jesus Christ. Missionaries seek out those willing to learn about the gospel by serving and teaching lessons. They do whatever their mission community needs to have greater access to Christ's love. Missionaries work really hard to study the gospel and the language and customs of the people they serve. For 18 months or two years they focus their life on serving the people in their mission, putting off school, relationships, and even family. While this is a sacrifice, when we better understand the sacrifice Christ made for us, it feels natural to try to "feed his sheep".

      Missions are very hard and serve as a "refiners fire" for many. The days are long and especially difficult when you're still learning the language and culture. Missionaries spend all of their time with a companion and have to learn how to get along or go insane. Although there are many challenges, as missionaries learn to focus more on other people and the importance of their work, they overcome and come away stronger. Not everyone has the opportunity to serve a full time mission. Sometimes life circumstances or health dictates that they stay home and in those cases we can rest assured that they will learn what they need to in another way. But for those who do get the opportunity, it is certainly a blessing worth celebrating.

     I am amazed at how my little brother went away still a boy and came home a man. He came to truly love the Korean people and their beautiful way of life. As he's told us more about their customs, I can see why he loves them so much. He had opportunities to get to know a huge variety of people and learn so much from them. He has come home more submissive, humble, kind, meek, and hard working. Most importantly, he's grown to better love his Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ and gained a further desire to love their precious children. I am so grateful for who he has become as a result of his service.

     On July 27, we picked him up from the airport and were overcome with love for this boy of ours. After leaving the airport we went home and sat together as a family, peppering Chancey with questions and listening to him and Dallan play guitar together again. I was overcome with emotion --- it was a glimpse of heaven. We were together, filled with love and it was beautiful. That's an opportunity I wish everyone could have.

      The next day we took off for Donner Lake where we spent the weekend playing in the water and soaking in time together. We put away all media and just focused on being. Every night we'd have a family devotional where the spirit was so thick you could slice through it. The peace and joy were tangible. It was a good reminder of what actually matters in life: faith, family, community. Opportunities like this put everything in perspective for me and encourage me to keep on keeping on.


Elder GQ

Trentman Girls

Trentman Boys...and Carter

Couple goals right here

Smooching on a rock :) you can't tell, but we're holding the boys too

My little family

This is my BABY brother. what the heck happened people?

More smooching :) 

Jayne (Carter's sister) tagged along for the weekend to do our dishes and take our photos ;)


The best big sister a girl could have


The best little sisters a girl could have :) These two are so fun!

Trentman kids

The whole gang. Poor babies!

When I realized that having a two and one year old around rock climbing cliffs was NOT a good idea

Gearing up while I gathered the babies

Chancey helping Jayden do a little climb before momma ruined the fun

My handsome climber

The guy in charge

The RM



Temple trip

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Post Grad Life

Hello everyone! It's been a really long time since I last updated this thing. A lot has happened with our little family. My goal is to write here about once a week, but we'll see how that goes. In the mean time here's a little bit of our life:

In December we moved back to California after Carter finished his Masters Degree in Structural Civil Engineering from BYU. We stayed with my parents while we found a house to buy. That whole process took F-O-R-E-V-E-R but it was super exciting. Carter's mom Phyllis was our superstar real estate agent and did all the hard stuff. She's amazing. Go buy a house from her. Finally we found a little house in Roseville that smelled horrible but was the right price (those two features correlated somehow...). It needed lots of work and we were initially hesitant but it was the only one we were able to get into escrow and it felt like the right place. After a month and a half of spending at least a few hours every day (except Sundays) on a face lift it was ready.

We moved in and have kept busy with ongoing projects. The house is over 50 years old so we anticipate lots of busy Saturdays. But we love it, and are SO grateful for this opportunity. Our new ward family (the congregation we meet with for church) is amazing and so welcoming. One of my favorite things about the LDS Church's organization is that no matter where you are on the earth you are part of a ward family and immediately have access to a great community of people. It's such a blessing. Lucky for us, not only are we in a great ward family but both of our families live only a half hour away! And they are great! I love living close to everyone.

I'm loving having a real live house to play, well, "house" in. I love taking time to cultivate a happy environment for my family; and though I struggle every day, I find a lot of fulfillment in that role. I've been busy with school and wrangling my boys until before I know it, months have passed. Life flies with lots to do; all the more reason to stop and savor. Luckily I just finished my spring semester of school and I have six weeks until fall semester starts. PARTY TIME. Or rather, laundry time.

The boys are adorable and exhausting. Jayden is every part of what you'd expect a two year old to be and most days Carter and I wonder how the heck we're supposed to manage him. He's quite a handful. Consistently juggling discipline, encouragement, expressions of love, fun, and physical needs is quite a balancing act and we often wonder if we're getting it right. But I'm promised that I'm going to miss these days because it only gets more complicated, so I'm doing my best to relax and savor the way he looks into my eyes and says "Momma, I love you so much". Alright son, you're forgiven. He really is the cutest.

Currently, Jackson is our super easy child. So long as he's fed and rested he's happy. We can't help but squeeze and snuggle him every chance we get because he's truly the most precious thing. He starting to communicate with us better and often he'll toddle up to me (on his bow legs), take my hand and guide me to what he wants me to do. It's the cutest thing ever.

We're busy, happy, and so grateful for life. I will get before and after pics of our new house soon! Happy Sabbath!

Teaching at Youth Conference

Bought a "daddy" car

Professor Jackson hanging out at Great Grandma Harper's house

Fourth of July Cookies

At Fairy Tale Town with cousins

Our little booball player

At the Valentines Day Sweetheart Dance 

Before our weekend getaway to see Brian Regan

With cousins at the zoo

Placing in the JAA fundraising run HA...the only time I will ever place in any event (there were so few runners!)

Painting Easter Eggs!

At the zoo 

With cousins!

A little Passover Dinner to get us ready for Easter

With Uncle Dallan at his football fundraising breakfast

That little smile melts me

My parents found a 3 gallon jug of ice cream so naturally Carter and I had to help them with it...not a job for sissies

The twins and I put on a Prom Dinner for Dallan

Annie's welcoming decor

Trying to take a pic on the Foresthill Bridge where mommy and daddy had their first kiss...Jay wasn't into it

The key to our house!

Welcoming summer

Pics taken for Jackson's first birthday. I love this baby of mine! 

Happy little champ!

Four eyes

Jayden being an angel :) 

The aftermath of a preschool experiment

We don't do pants sometimes. 

Coloring the Constitution for 4th of July festivities