I want to share something special—something very close to my heart today—that I hope will lift you and strengthen you.
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
I hope you are well, and I am sending my love from this little corner of the internet.
My last post was about how my mom was doing, and it has now been almost exactly three years since she passed. I wrote about the beautiful way she transitioned to the other side in this post on Power of Moms, if you’d like to read it.
And do you know that she is still such a beautiful part of our lives? I can’t even tell you how many stories I’ve heard from my siblings, friends, and extended family members about her influence—in addition to my own special experiences. Oh, it’s so sweet.
And then this past March, our dear dad joined her. He developed brain cancer and had a fairly quick transition, and while I want to record all of the details and stories now, I’m going to leave it with this drawing that Grace made for me:
A lot has been going on behind the scenes here—our family moved from Southern California to Utah, Alia left to Ukraine to serve a mission for our church, Grace started college, and Eric and I are now raising two teenage boys (Ethan, 17, and Spencer, 13), running LearnDoBecome.com together, and serving in our church callings. Life is full, beautiful, challenging, and fun, and we are growing each day.
Okay, so why am I writing here again?
Today I took a couple of hours to think (sitting on a blanket at a local park), and I asked myself a series of questions. The process has been really helpful, so I’ll include the questions here, in case you’d like to do something similar:
- What do I need to start doing/stop doing?
- How can I set up my life more optimally so I have more to look forward to?
- How and where can I speak more of Christ?
- How can I set up my scripture study schedule so I can make the most of my time and learn what God wants for me?
- What am I hungry for?
- What do I want to say with my life?
- What would my life need to look like in order to consider myself a true instrument in the hands of God?
- How can I let God prevail in my life?
- If I were to live my true purpose—and be a support to others—what would that look like?
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Life has been moving so swiftly that it has been tricky to sit down and "just write." And then when I have had time to write lately, I actually couldn't bring myself to do it. Not sure why. It just felt too overwhelming.
But the kids are at their evening events right now, and I have a few minutes of quiet--so I thought I would open up my heart a bit and let you know what's happening.
My mom has been doing generally well for the past couple of years.
It's been a miracle, really.
The Alzheimer's medicine seemed to freeze time. It didn't make her better, but it stopped her from getting worse. Her helper, Cheryl, has been by her side around the clock, attending to her every need, and our weekly visits have been happy.
Thursday nights have turned into events where several of my brothers and sisters join me, my children, and my dad around Mom's bed. We carry extra chairs into the room and sit close and tight while we share our weekly updates, reminisce about all the funny things Mom did over the years, listen to Dad's favorite memories, and sing Mom's favorite hymns. (She used to join in a bit, and that always made us smile.)
About a month ago, however, we made a decision to take Mom off the Alzheimer's medication.
This decision wasn't made lightly, but all eight children were on board.
There comes a point when you have to ask if keeping someone artificially alive is the best thing for them.
Mom's doctor said that she was healthy and strong on the medication and could live for years to come in that state.
(In bed full time. Diapers being changed regularly. Spoon-fed and monitored day and night. Not remembering a moment of it.)
I cried to Eric one evening shortly after the decision was made to stop the medicine and asked if he thought it was wrong to let her go.
"April," he said gently, "your mom is essentially sitting on the bench right now. She can't do anything in this life, and she can't do anything on the other side. Think how happy she'll be."
That felt right to me.
So for the past few weeks, when I've gone to visit, there has been a noticeable change. Mom has stopped talking and humming along while we sing. There is zero recognition in her eyes. She's had trouble chewing and swallowing.
I fed her salmon one night, and she really struggled to get it down. So stressful...
Another night, I got there late (about 7), and she was already asleep. I hugged her and kissed her and whispered, "I love you," and then Alia did the same.
Alia turned from the bed with a huge smile and then exclaimed (in a whisper), "She said 'I love you too'!!!!"
I felt a little pang of envy, as I didn't get a chance to hear that, but I was grateful Alia did.
Tonight I called Laura, and she told me that the doctor is planning to approve Mom for hospice care again.
The first time was in 2014. We thought she only had months to live.
But God gave us a gift of more than TWO YEARS to love her and hug her and be with her.
This time we still don't know how long she has. She's losing weight and declining rapidly, and although I can hardly type this without breaking down, I think I'm finally ready to let her to go.
I picked up Spencer from Cub Scouts shortly after hearing the news from Laura this afternoon, and there were tears in my eyes.
He asked why I was crying, and I told him about his Grandma's hospice care and explained it was probably time for her to go back to God.
A moment later, I looked at him, and his eyes were watery.
"Why are you crying?" I asked.
"Because you are." He replied. "Remember how when you cry, I cry?"
Then he said, "My birthstone is a sapphire, and do you know what characteristic I have?"
I shook my head.
"Emotional healing," he responded. "My teacher told me that."
After a moment, he asked, "Why is Cinderella so bad at sports?"
"I don't know. Why? I asked."
"Because she always runs away from the ball," he replied.
"See? You were crying. Now you're laughing. That's emotional healing," he explained.
(Isn't it so kind for God to give me angels in my own family to help me through this?)
I'm taking the children to see my parents this weekend. Cheryl is going to try to take Mom to church for the last time on Sunday. I want to be there.
This time is full of such sweetness. It isn't easy, by any means, but my goodness, it's a blessing to get to spend so much time with the people you love.
Thank you for your kindness and concern for our family. We so appreciate your love for us.
Time to pick up the kids. :)
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Today is an exciting day.
Your Children Want YOU! is ready.
We have a special launch price available through Friday night--Buy the eBook for $12 and get the audio book free!
I hope you love it. And I hope you love my mom through it. (I'm going to visit her this afternoon with my children to celebrate. She's doing great.)
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Three pretty big projects have come to completion this month, and I'm excited to share them with you.
Register here for the Mom Conference (totally free!)
(2) The SANE Show
I wrote about SANE awhile back, and it's now been more than a year since Alia and I totally changed our diets--cutting out sugar and processed foods. We're still working on getting the whole family on board (#theylikesnickers), but we have never been healthier and happier, and Alia wants to devote her life to helping other children (and adults) learn that being overweight is a choice--that doesn't involve starving yourself.
As I have emailed back and forth with Jonathan Bailor (founder of SANESolution.com and NYT bestselling author of The Calorie Myth), I shared my appreciation for his research and program and explained how I feel a kind of calling inside to help share this with the world.
Well, we collaborated on and launched our SANE Families program a couple of months ago, and now I am the new co-host of Jonathan's podcast, "The SANE Show."
I'll be writing more about this in the future, but for now, I'd love to share the video trailer (Alia's before and after is in there!) and invite you to subscribe for free via iTunes. We have a new show every week, and I so wish I'd had this information when I was a little girl. It would have saved me years and years of struggles.
If you have a child who is overweight, or if you are counting calories and working out every day to try to lose weight (but only ending up tired and hungry), please join us. I don't want to come across as a crazy person, but I really, really, really think this is the solution to our country's obesity and diabetes epidemic, and I want to get this information out there. :)
(3) LearnDoBecome and the STEP Program
I also announced a few months ago that Eric and I just launched our brand new website, www.LearnDoBecome.com. This has been a dream of ours for years, and while the content and podcast will be resuming soon, we've been doing a lot of thinking, planning, and building behind the scenes.
It's been a gift to get to work side by side with Eric, and it's been fun to see him in "running-a-website" mode while we take turns managing the household and running the carpools. He's super cute behind a laptop... We're creating a platform that we plan to build for the rest of our lives.
I don't know if you've read Good to Great, but it's an amazing book, and one of my favorite parts was about identifying your "hedgehog." What can you do BEST in the whole world? What are you passionate about? What can drive your economic engine? (Great questions, don't you think?)
As we discussed where we can be most helpful in the world through our efforts at LearnDoBecome, Eric expressed his deep love for "Life Architecture"--helping others to map out what they actually want to DO with their lives. More on that in the coming months...
And as we talked about MY hedgehog, we decided that it was time to take my love for GTD and organization to a new level and build a program that works for moms and dads, husbands and wives, grandmothers and grandfathers, students, singles, professionals, and anyone who is interested in creating a seamless system to manage all the "stuff" that comes at us--so we can use our time and energy in ways that fulfill our deepest purposes.
I've been working with thousands of moms on this over the past 8 years, and of course I'll still be working with my beloved Mind Organization for Moms community at Power of Moms, but here's the situation: no matter how great the program, a man/student/single/professional doesn't feel super comfortable logging into a website for moms (I don't know why!). Our new program, called Steps to Everyday Productivity (STEP), is co-taught by me and Eric, and it's designed to help people achieve a balance of personal and professional development. I'll share more soon, but the first few modules are up and running, and I am really, really excited about it.
If you haven't yet joined us at LearnDoBecome, please pop over and sign up for our free guide and audio download, "Five Life-Changing Habits Most People Overlook." You'll get a good feel for LearnDoBecome, and then we'll email you when our other resources are ready to go.
So there you go. Three invitations that I hope will be helpful for your life.
I look forward to writing more soon and having time to share pictures of my cute parents and stories about what's been happening with our family. (Everyone's doing really well, by the way.)
Thank you so much for your continued prayers for my mom. I've still been going every week, and I hug and kiss her and sometimes crawl right into her hospital bed so I can hold her in my arms for awhile. Last week she fell asleep on my shoulder, and it was the cutest thing ever.
Now, if you don't mind me sharing my heart for a second...
Sometimes, when it's just the two of us, I push my cheek against hers and say, "Mom, there is so much going on. I didn't know it would all get this big. The projects I'm working on are scary for me. I don't know if I'm up to all this."
She always gets a concerned expression on her face, looks me in the eyes, and then starts a sentence with something like, "Oh, no, you musn't..." but then she trails off and gets distracted by a noise in the hallway or a snag on the corner of her bed sheet or something colorful hanging on the wall, and she forgets what she was trying to say.
But, like I've written before, I know what she would have said.
And so one quiet morning, a few weeks ago, I actually wrote down the best advice that my mom and my Heavenly Parents have given me over the years when it comes to facing hard things, and I made an audio recording called "Daily Reminder" that I listen to each day before I jump into my day's work.
Oh my goodness... That has been one of the most beautiful gifts in my life.
I don't know how I forget these things from day to day, but every time I hear those reminders, they fill my heart and help me to keep going.
Because it's not about me.
Our work is never about us.
It's about those who can be helped by what we can offer, and it's about listening closely to that Voice who is gracious enough to allow us to be instruments in His hands.
Okay, I think that's all for tonight.
Love to all of you! I've missed you.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
I started counting calories when I was nine, I ate between 600 and 900 calories a day the summer before I started high school, and throughout my first 14 years of motherhood, I tried to eat as little as possible each day--and still get out to exercise (even when I was exhausted from being up all night). That part of my story hasn't been pleasant.
About a year ago, I started something new. I read The Calorie Myth my Jonathan Bailor, and my frustrations with food and exercise finally made sense to me. He explained the science behind how our bodies work. He told me which foods would help my metabolism to heal. More importantly, he helped me to finally achieve "nutritional serenity," so I don't even have to think about calories anymore.
I wish I could explain how much this has meant to me. Looking back, I can't believe how many years I spent going hungry.
(These are my "before and after" photos - I can't tell you how reluctant I have been to post these, but I know it's helpful for people to see...)
But the story gets better...a lot better.
My daughter, Alia, started struggling with her weight when she was in third grade. I helped her to count calories (like I did), and I encouraged her to eat less sugar. I also tried to get her moving more and invited her to participate in my workout DVDs. Nothing worked. She kept getting heavier and heavier.
However, when I started applying the advice from Jonathan and The Calorie Myth, she saw that it was working for me, and she began to follow my lead.
It was slow at first. We started eating green smoothies together, and I showed her how to get protein into every meal. But over the course of a few months, her entire body changed. Every few weeks, we were heading off to Old Navy to buy her smaller pants and poking new holes in her belt so she could tighten it.
It wasn't only her body that transformed. She became happier and more confident than I had ever seen her--without EVER being hungry.
Last September, I reached out to Jonathan Bailor on Twitter and thanked him for making a difference in our lives. Then I invited him on Power of Moms Radio, and he invited me onto his podcast.
We talked about Alia--and all the mothers, fathers, and children out there who are overweight and/or diabetic--not because they are weak, but because they don't know what to do besides "eat less and exercise more."
Then we decided we could do something together to help save lives. We outlined a step-by-step program for families--including things like how to grocery shop, how to pack SANE lunches, and how to eat healthfully while on the go. We recorded videos about how to get organized so the process would feel easier, and we interviewed Alia regarding how she made this transformation as a 15-year-old girl.
This week, our SANE Families program has launched.
It has taken hundreds of hours behind the scenes to get it up and running, and there's still a lot of work ahead of us to get it out to the families who need it, but this is part of my Butterfly Project I've been telling you about.
My life and Alia's life have been so transformed by Jonathan's work that we feel compelled to share it with others who are struggling like we were.
If you want to hear our podcast with Jonathan and learn more about our SANE Families projects, this is the link that includes all of the key SANE information:
So excited about this--and hopeful that we can make a real difference.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
***Quick Book Update (before I start this post):
Thank you all for your support and inquiries regarding my upcoming book, Your Children Want YOU! I am more excited about it than I can say, and I thought it might be helpful to let you know what's happening.
(1) The book is finished. It has taken more than two years, but it's done.
(2) I shared it with my dear friend Rachel Nielson, who is more than an editor. She's a deliberate mother who lost her amazing mom to cancer years ago (you can read her story here). Out of everyone in the world, I felt like she could give me the feedback I needed on this book.
(3) She did. In fact, her feedback was so good that I decided to take some extra time to apply all of her edits and publish the book "right." Rachel has never met my mom, but she knows her. She would say things about my book like, "I don't think you meant it this way. I think your mom would have said ____ instead." And she was absolutely right.
(4) The book is coming. I feel like it's a sacred project that will not only honor my mother, but will strengthen others who need her.
This is what I wrote in the dedication:
Okay...now here's today's post:
I was about to jump into my day (lots of emails and projects calling my name), but I felt like I should pause for a moment to record a powerful experience that won't leave me. I hope it will be helpful for you.
Last Thursday, my children and I went to visit my mom (as usual!). We went boogie boarding at the beach first, so we were a bit tired when we got there. I actually crawled into my mom's hospital bed right next to her and took a little nap while she held me. I haven't done something like that in nearly 20 years.
Well, after our rest time and our dinner, my sister Laura came over to visit for a little while. We pulled up a few chairs around Mom's hospital bed--me, Laura, Grace, and Alia--and then we just talked.
Mom doesn't participate in these conversations anymore. She usually fiddles with her bedding or hugs her stuffed animal (a blue bunny this week!), and then whenever we make eye contact, she smiles at us like this:
A few minutes into the conversation, Laura mentioned that she was teaching a lesson at church that Sunday about justice and mercy. (This excellent talk was the basis for her lesson...I definitely recommend reading it.)
We talked for a bit about what kinds of questions she could ask in her lesson and about how we have personally felt the Lord's mercy in our lives.
Then I shared a thought that has been strengthening me for the last few weeks:
I need the Lord's mercy every single day. Sometimes I look at the challenges--and the opportunities--in front of me, and I think, "There is NO way I can do this. Zero. I don't have what it takes. I don't have the energy. I can't possibly get through this. I am not up to the task."
But then I step back for a moment, and I ask myself, "Has there EVER been a time--even once--when the Lord has let me down?"
And the answer is, "Not once." There hasn't been one time in my entire life when I have felt like I was falling, and when I have called to the Lord for help, and when he hasn't come to rescue me. He gives me SO much more than I merit, and so when I start walking into what seems to be a long, dark, overwhelming time in my life, I only need to remember that I have help RIGHT there.
The power I feel when I remember these thoughts completely lifts me. However, what is more powerful is what my mom was doing while I shared those thoughts.
"Look," Laura said, "Look at Mom. She's listening. She's here. She's nodding her head."
I turned to look at my mother (who is about five years into her Alzheimer's), and although she didn't have the words to say it, this is what I felt:
April, what you're saying is true. The Lord is there for you. He's there for me. Don't give up. NEVER doubt Him. His mercy is a gift, and whenever you need Him--no matter what--He will take care of you.
I wish I could have taken a photograph or a video of her face and her eyes. I wish you could have seen how she wasn't confused or distracted for those few moments.
And do you know why?
Because her knowledge of God is so deep in her core that nothing--not Alzheimer's, not dementia, not old age--can take it from her.
That is what I want for me and for my family.
Forget about all of the shallow things that get way too much attention these days. They don't matter.
Forget about the questions or doubts that creep in. They're not from the right Source.
Life is not easy--for anyone. But I have no doubt whatsoever that God loves us, knows us, and cares for us. It is by His power that we can do whatever He asks.
I hope you can feel His love for you today.