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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Why Are You Here?

This summer, I was in Dallas at the first ever Prolife Women’s Conference.  There were over 500 amazing women there from all walks of life and I had the privilege of getting to know many of them.  I’ve been to so many conferences (mainly writing conferences), I consider myself an “introduction pro” at this point.  What does it take to be a pro at introducing yourself?


It goes something like this.
“Hi, I want to meet you,” I say and introduce myself to a total stranger.
In any other setting, this would be creepy, but at a conference it just breaks the ice and everybody gets to know each other.

So, I was going around shaking hands, getting to know the ladies and the number one question I wanted to ask was “Why are you here?” 
Everybody at a prolife women’s conference has a heartfelt story to share . . . and every story I heard made a profound impact on me.

Getting to know people makes conferences a party. The first writing conference I went to in New York City, I remember thinking, “Ok, Laura.  You’ve left your family, paid thousands of dollars to be here, you better make this worth it.”
At times it was challenging, putting myself out there.  Remember the three steps:


These things can be exhausting, especially if someone thinks you’re weird, but once I start with these three steps, everything works out.

So, I was asking the women at the prolife women’s conference,“Why are you here?”
Everybody had a story.
Some women volunteered at pregnancy centers, others were involved in politics.  I met researchers and policy makers.  I met women who regretted their abortion and women horrified at what abortion did to children and women.  If I could write every story I heard, it would make an incredible collection.  I instantly loved every woman I met because no one goes to an event like this for themselves.  They go for a bigger cause.  They go to do something amazing.

After getting to know a few people, I found the cards turned when finally, someone asked me, “Why are you here?”

Why am I here?  I had to dig deep for the answer.

At first, I wanted to say, “I’m a writer.”  Yes, I’m a writer looking for an angle, a writer who has a mother who’s been writing about the unborn for over 30 years.  It's only natural I'm a writer.  A writer is a title with a bit of clout.  Yes, I was there because I am a writer, but it was more than that.

“I’m passionate about the unborn.”  Yes, that had a better feel.  I am passionate about protecting children, any and every unborn child should have a chance at life.  But many people care about children?  Why did I care about children in such a way that I would leave my family and spend thousands of dollars to be here?

That’s when I found the answer, and I was so very happy to share it.

“I’m here because when I was 42, I had a baby,” I said, and as I spoke my voice cracked.  
Canyon and I setting up shop at Merchant Square.  He's my best little buddy.

“He is the best thing that every happened to me.  I'm here to represent him.”

No, I didn’t have a badge or a title from an organization.  I wasn’t involved in a daily outreach.  I didn’t have an agenda.  I had a baby.

Throughout the conference, I became very comfortable with my answer.  “I’m here because I have a baby,” and the more times I said it, the more I loved my cause.  It was enough. 
“I have a baby who completely changed my life.”

I’m not sure if it’s because I used that one-liner so many times or because I love the answer, but lately I find myself asking the question “Why are you here?”  I might be helping my kids with homework or attempting to make a healthy dinner. 
Why are you here? 
Because I love my family. 
Because my family deserves healthy food. 
Because I love being a mom. 
Because trying, even if I fall short, makes me happy. 

I’ve been running for a few months.  Some days I love it while other days, not so much.
Why are you here?
Because I want to be strong.
Because I love my body.
Because running pushes myself to do hard things.

I know talking about abortion makes some people uncomfortable.  I would never want to push friends away because of politics, but to me, abortion isn’t political.  It’s just, I had this baby . . . and I love him so much. 

I want every woman to know their baby is just as special, that if they give their baby a chance they will know what I know . . . that a baby is more valuable, more life-changing and more important than anything else in life.  

Having a baby is hard and messy.  Some days, I wonder how I’m going to do it, but I have this internal motivation deep in my heart that will never burn out.  It tells me my baby is worth it, that I will never regret raising my baby and that in his smile, in his laughter, I’ve found my greatest joy.

Why am I here? 

To love.
To dream.
To protect.
To experience.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

When Kids Come Running

Last week, Mayer lost his wallet.  He’d worked hard to pay for that wallet and when he purchased it over the summer, he was excited to put his remaining change and few dollar bills inside it.  
(Here we are on our date the day he purchased his new wallet.)

He carried it around and I could tell he felt like a grown-up when he pulled his wallet out to pay for a purchase.

A few weeks later, the wallet was lost.  Was it left at a store?  Did it fall out on a bike ride home?  Steps were retraced, tears were shed and prayers were offered, but the wallet was nowhere to be found.

School started and so have the hectic mornings of half-eaten bowls of cereal, last-minute signatures and gelled-back hair.  The kids are doing great and their excitement far outweighs the stress of adjusting to a new schedule and new teacher, but some mornings are just too much.  Tired kids, disheveled homemade lunches, running a few minutes late and before I know it, someone has said an unkind word.  Bringing back a good-morning-gone-bad is like lassoing in a wild horse.  Sure, you can get the horse back, but he’s still acting wild.  Yes, some mornings are better than others.

By the second week of school, the kids had homework and assigned reading and although it had been a difficult morning, the afternoon was proving to be much better.  

(Making homemade milkshakes together.)

Mayer was studying in his room when he came running into the kitchen.  Before I knew it, he had his arms wrapped around my waist so tight, I stopped everything I was doing to hug him back.  With some of the tension from earlier in the day, I instantly melted into the hug.

“Mom, I found my wallet,” Mayer said and explained while making his bed, he’d found the wallet on the floor near the base of his headboard.  How it got there, we’d never know, but it’d been found and that’s all that mattered.  His prayer had been answered and for that, he was grateful.  As my son skipped back to his room, I had to reflect for a moment on the tender, yet zealous hug I’d just shared with him.  He’d literally come a’ running, to me, the moment of that joyous experience. 


Out of all the things he could have done, Mayer needed to validate himself with me, through that hug.  This is literally one of the best things about being a mom.

This is not the first time the glory has been shared with me, but it still is one of the marvels of motherhood.  Even when one of my kids run to me with tears, it’s still the same reality – kids need their moms in moments of reflection, awareness and discovery.  They need their mom’s full attention, physical affection and affirming words of validation.  These moments, glued together through days and years of quality time, through the hours of gazing and bonding, through the highs and lows of parenting create a rockstar-like persona for the mother where she is the one, the perfect one to run to in a crisis or to celebrate a momentous occasion.  It doesn’t mean a mother has to be perfect of even know how to fix a situation; it just means a mother is there as the immovable and constant.  A mother’s love is the fix and the reward because no matter the situation, the love between mother and child is bigger.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Moment of Saying Goodbye

In July, mom and dad were called to serve as temple workers in the London Temple.  

My mom dreams of England and considering there are another couple of months of Arizona heat to deal with, I think England is a great option.

They left last week and my heart has been a flurry of emotions.

I’ve been married for almost 18 years, and for 16 of those years, I’ve lived on the same street as my parents. 

Here is the view, standing from my home looking down at her home.  There is only one house that separates us. 

Living close to my parents, well, there are too many blessings to count, but one of the most meaningful is the most obvious – our close proximity.  In a moment’s notice, I can run down to borrow the white sweater I saw my mom wearing last week or she can run up to borrow my crock pot (which she gave me for Christmas).  I see her every day walking her dog Winne and I see my dad riding his bike through the neighborhood.  When my mom pulls out of her driveway to run up to the store, she might stop and ask if I need anything.  I see my dad pull weeds and keep up with the lawn.  Every day, I am privileged to watch a day in their lives – moments as they love, serve and grow.  It’s an interesting perspective and is something that can easily be taken for granted.  There’s a comfort in the daily witness of their lives – the waves and smiles, the offerings of food and borrowing of tools. 

Eden at Grandma's with her cousins.

A few weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, one thing after another piled up on my list of motherhood tasks and I became overwhelmed.  I took the baby and walked down to my parents.  I wasn’t sure what I needed, but I knew if I told them how I felt they would know what do to.  Sure enough, my mom offered words of wisdom and my dad offered a Father’s blessing.  I came home an hour later with a new determination and a fresh perspective on what I had to offer.  My kids smiled as I walked in the door and the contention that had been their earlier had dissolved. 

The night before my parents left for England, my mom came over with some food items that she thought I might enjoy.  We talked for a few minutes and hugged, celebrating this wonderful opportunity for her.  My kids said goodbye to Grandma and then it was time for her to leave.  I walked out the front door with her, my baby Canyon in my arms.  Canyon looked up into the sky and said “Star,” his new favorite word.  My mom and I giggled over his tiny little vocabulary, encouraging him to say “Bye Bye.”  We hugged again.  I watched for what would be the last time in a while, as she walked the stretch of lawn from my house to hers.  I started crying, and had the sensation that my heart my split in half.  Canyon got out of my arms and followed her.  My mom stopped and spent another precious moment or two with him, pointing to the stars and the leaves in the trees. 

I walked over to my mom, trying to hold back the tears.  “I’m not sure if I’ll ever understand how much you love me,” I said and we hugged.   

I took Canyon in my arms and my mom turned back, walking towards her house.  This night sky was dark and I watched as her silhouette started to fade.  She was leaving.  The symbolism was almost too much.  She was there, but she wasn’t there.  I watched her go and prayed with all my heart I would see her again someday.  In a sort of desperate moment, I shouted out, “I love you, Mom.”  She turned and I could see her face again in the moonlight.  “I love you, sweet Laura.”  After that, she was gone.

I tried not to get carried away, but I had to let the moment teach me.  Here I was, so happy for my parents to have this opportunity, but knowing they would be gone for birthdays, Thanksgiving, even Christmas.  But, it was more than that.  It was the moments I would miss the most like seeing my mom at the mail box or watching my dad take out the trash.  They would be missed in the every day moments of blowing kisses and evening prayers, of homemade cookies and compliments of love. 

My mom, my best friend, one of the few people on this planet who would do anything for me was leaving and I wanted to do everything in my power to let her know I loved her.  There are not many moments in our lives when we know they will be our last.  Had I used the moments wisely?  Was there anything else I could do in the moment to express my love?  The idea this might be the last time I might see her was painful, but reminded me families can be together forever.  My mom will always be my mom, whether she is here, in England or in heaven.  The only thing I have control over is how I treat her, how I show affection or appreciation, how I express my love and gratitude. 

They arrived safely in London and start on their adventure.  

I will miss them, but even more, I will love them with all my heart. 

My mom sent this photo, assuring us they would not go hungry.

In this photo, I can feel the love my mom has for my dad.  He is her prince.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Darn you, food addiction

Over 7 months of intermittent fasting has been darn good for me.

It’s allowed me the time and opportunity to see how food has controlled me. 
It grants me the space to step away from food without feeling threatened because throughout my life when I’ve gone without food, my mind and body have felt threatened.
It feels so good to go without food and know everything is o.k.  

An intentional intermittent fast means I’ve agreed before hand, before any hunger or craving comes in and messes everything up that I’ve set up the rules.  Going without food for 16-18 hours a day has programmed my mind to turn elsewhere for emotional rewards, to look outside the food box when I’m bored or happy or lonely.  Oh, this has been so good to me.

But, still . . . when I open up my 6-8 hour eating window the reality of food addiction is still there.

Here’s how my day goes.  I’ll fast until noon or 1:00, depending on how I feel and when I’m ready, I’ll eat some guacamole or a salad or an omelet. Something with good healthy fats and proteins, but after that, the girl looking to celebrate with food creeps around the corner.  She’s wearing a shirt that says “SUGAR” and it’s obvious what she wants.  I give in every single time.

Some days I’m like “What’s the big deal?”  It’s not like sugar every killed anyone, oh, hello diabetes.

As many of you know, my daily intermittent fasting start with a prayer and purpose.  It’s a spiritual process with lots of Godly intervention.  When I first started, the spirit taught me when I craved sugar it was because I craved the sweetness of the earth.  That’s right, sugar to me represented love and kindness.  When I craved sugar, I turned to prayer, reading from the scriptures and serving others, but that takes effort.  Whereas eating sugar, boom, the fix is done.

Sugar!! Why do you have to be so sweet?  I’ve tried fruit, nuts, smoothies and gum, but sugar, you’ve got me wrapped around your cavity-causing, fat-inducing, heart-disease contributing little finger.  Curse you! 

So, even 7 months into fasting, I’m still battling my food addiction.  I’m patient with myself, really, I see how far I’ve come, but am shocked how deep the dysfunction of food addiction can be.    

I have dinner around 6:00pm, again something healthy like a burger on lettuce or a vegetable soup.  Again, a pulse of craving runs through me and the desire for something sweet presents itself. I give in every time.  Around 7:00 or 8:00 pm, I stop eating and at that point, I have no problem warding off sugar, it’s only during my eating window that I faultier.

Even with 40 more pounds to lose, I’m not fasting for weight-loss.  Intermittent fasting is so much bigger than weight-loss.  For me, fasting has set me free, released me from self-sabotage and self-destruction, allows me the freedom to live without regret, puts faith first, think outside myself, dream bigger, accomplish difficult things and live healthier.  Oh, weigh-loss is just another wonderful side effect, a side effect that has slowed down and I think it’s because of the sugar.  I do want to learn to let sugar go.  I’ve tried some mental tricks like going on a sugar fast, but some days I just can’t remember or I put it off for another day. 

I want to set a good example for my kids.

Letting go of sugar would be a wonderful gift not only for my kids, but for me.  I'm trying to conquer this addiction from an emotional/spiritual path and there's lots of good information out there.  Darn you, food addiction!!! 

Any advice for those of you who have fought this battle?  I'd love to hear about it in the comment section below or on my facebook page here.