Bri Colorful

Inscribed on the wall of my midwife’s home that I frequented in the final weeks of my recent pregnancy was this little piece of wisdom: “If motherhood was supposed to be easy, it wouldn’t have started with labor.” As I pondered my own role of mother in the days leading up to Mother’s Day this year, I searched the bible for references to motherhood. The most interesting to me was in John 16, where Jesus teaches his disciples about his impending death and resurrection using a parable of a woman in labor. I quote the King James Version:

20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

Having recently experienced the “travail,” “sorrow,” and “anguish” that is natural labor, this spoke volumes to me. Pregnancy and labor are exquisitely painful. They try your patience and your strength until you are sure you will break.

My last pregnancy lasted 43 weeks culminating in a 3 day wait after my water broke for the hardest, fastest labor I hope I will ever experience. Every day waiting for my daughter to come was agony. I was full of anxiety and questions: Was I making the right decision to wait on my daughter; was she going to be ok; what was wrong with my body that it would not go into labor? And then the actual labor, which lasted a total of two hours from no dilation at all to opening my body and my soul to bring another person into being – it completely overcame me. I had to focus every fiber of my being on allowing my body to contract, relax, breathe, and open. Then the culmination of it all, the most pain I have every physically experienced,  when the largest part of her head stretched me, I literally screamed out “I am breaking!” and believed it, and I knew that the universe was shattering around me, and I was at the center being torn asunder… and right then, my husband firmly took my hands in his, gently pressed his head to mine and said the words that changed everything, “Very soon you will hold your daughter in your arms.”

That short phrase gave me the strength I needed for that final push that ended the agony of weeks, of months: something I am coming to understand as the pain of motherhood. Then the joy, the exquisite joy was more than I could take in: my perfect, healthy daughter was placed right on my chest, her strong cries affirming to me that we had made it, her anguish, expressed, both comforted me and reached out to me for comfort. And I knew from that moment what every mother knows: that her joy would forever be my joy, her sorrow, my sorrow. I would feel in a deep relational connection that I would never be parted from no matter what distance or emotion temporarily parted my child and me.

My friends, motherhood is full of exquisite pain and patience. It is this pain and patience that transform us into who we must be, that irrevocably connect us to those whom we gave life. It will hurt. It is the kind of hurt that cannot be hindered, hurried, or hushed by medication, apathy or avoidance. It is the kind of hurt that will haunt you in your sleep and will keep you up at night. It is meant to hurt. But the hurting, I promise, leads to the most exquisite joy, the deepest connection, that a woman can feel: “joy that a man is born into the world.” Joy in that tiny little person who gives you a raison d’etre! You will never be free of the responsibility, the pain, OR the JOY that is motherhood.

Today, you are celebrated. Today “your sorrow shall be turned to joy,” a joy, just like the joy of the resurrection that affirms that we can live again in the eternities with our loved ones, that cannot be taken from us. A joy that is wrapped up in travail, sorrow, and anguish because those things begat the greatest joy – that of loving others.

Happy Mother’s Day to all who suffer, who feel pain, and who experience the joy of mothering.

Reading/ promoting/ editing/ reviewing/ etc this book!!

Wife for Life: The Power to Succeed in MarriageWife for Life: The Power to Succeed in Marriage by Ramona Zabriskie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ramona Zabriskie’s Wife for Life: The Power to Succeed in Marriage is a marriage book to be taken seriously. Written in a personal, romantic style that women will connect with and enjoy, Ramona aims to inspire women, not just give them a how-to manual for getting your man to make love to you. Drawing on a variety of sources, including hundreds of marriage books and articles, biographies and love letters of successful people or famous marriages, and most interestingly – the personal experience of turning an on-the-rocks marriage into an “empire of love”, the book has the capacity to empower women in their relationships, helping them realize they can turn the tide of boredom, dissatisfaction, or alienation in their marriages towards a relationship that is fulfilling, romantic, supportive, and filled with love! Even the good marriage is made better and the better, grand by an exploration of the principles in this book. An entertaining, flowing read that will quite literally inspire you to change your life, if you let it. Ramona doesn’t just flout / tout (not sure which word is right) marriage principles; she lives with love and is an inspirational mentor to woman all over the world. She turns the clichés about men and women and the devastating divorce statistics on their heads. Read this book. You won’t regret it and you’ll never forget it!

Topics this book addresses that I found very helpful and insightful:

Dealing with stresses particular to women and combating them so that you won’t have to place that burden on your husband.

Understanding male psychology- especially fears and how women’s fears and reactions can incite the fears particular to men.

Division of labor (and support) in a marriage.

Filling your “cup” of self-love by living your dreams so that you can have the confidence to nurture and inspire his dreams.

Drawing him to you with her “laws of attraction” which is really all about your attitude and how you treat him.

Acceptance, forgiveness, romance, respect, and so so so much more!

Totally revolutionary. Makes you see men and marriage in a whole different light. You won’t believe what she says at first – you’ll say that may be true about some men but not my husband- and then you’ll start noticing things or trying some things from the book and think “Holy crap! She was right!”

View all my reviews

You can download Wife for Life from the Amazon Kindle store.

Also, check out this promotional video by the author and her husband! It is absolutely delightful! 

Aaaand our book trailer! 

Aaaaand an interview I did with one of the beta readers! 

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

I grew up loving my great-grandma Leola D. Merrill, so much that I have always wanted to name a daughter after her. She passed away when I was younger, and I have yearned to know more about her but just started in on my family history this year. I asked my aunt, grandpa, and mom to share any histories they have from her and they all said they’d look around and write their memories down.

Then yesterday my mom came across (by total chance) a box of cassette and video tapes she had recorded of my grandma Leola sharing the story of her life, stories about living on a farm, the story of her baptism, the story behind the family cabin she and her husband built at Bear Lake that we all continue to visit each summer, and recordings of my maternal grandparents telling stories from their lives as well. In one of the recordings it says she is 90 and she is very old and frail; it may be the last recording of her during her lifetime. I cannot help feeling like it is a blessing to my family right now, especially my mom and me, directly from Father in Heaven! I feel so grateful!

I look forward to helping digitize and transcribe these recordings when I am in Washington with family in late February.

Among the most precious gifts I received this Christmas, is a binder full to burst of memoirs, testimonies, old photographs, life histories, etc. of ancestors from both sides of my family tree (up to my great, great, great grandparents). The gift was inspired and drawn from work my aunt Mardi did on my maternal line this past year; my angel mother added to and organized further research for each of her grown up children.

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Tonight, for Family Home Evening, we decided to read about my paternal great, great, great grandfather, Alfred Henry Atkinson, born in 1849. His parents were converts from England; his father the branch president at Middlesex. We learned that they sailed to America in 1855.

My husband recalled to me that he had helped design a website at BYU called Mormon Migration about converts who voyaged to America. You can look up voyages by ancestor name, location, ship name, or dates. We quickly found our ancestors names listed among those who sailed on the Chimborazo from Liverpool to Philadelphia in 1855. I browsed through the different voyage accounts and read a few of them, including the account kept by the ship historian, Elder William G. Mills. I was touched by his account of the rapture the saints felt at leaving their homeland for a life full of promise, hearts so full they were singing. I was especially impressed by the hymn he wrote during the voyage.

When on our Mother Earth we trod
And oft admired her gorgeous robe;
When wandering thru life’s varied scene
At will upon the solid globe;
The goodness of our God we knew
And felt the power of His command;
We praised and loved His holy name
And owned this providential hand.

Thus now when on the watery sphere
When every wave is crowned with foam;
The Chimborazo’s “wooden walls”
Our temporary floating home;
With horizon of sky and sea
That circumscribes us like a ring.
We see the kindness of our God,
We feel the power of ocean’s king.

Then let our numerous voices blend
In songs of deepest gratitude
To him, whose hand controls the sea,
And guides us over the briny flood,
He claims our praise, so let us be
Humbly obedient to his word,
Be faithful now and evermore
To gain all blessings from our Lord.

May we still feel his favouring hand
While traveling over the trackless deep;
The winds in storms and gushing sound
or calmly over nature sleep
God bless our worthy president
The council, president & Saints,
The noble captain, mates and crew
And may we have no just complaints [p.11]

Oh! May we live as Saints should live
our walk & conversation good;
As living testimonies to
The gospel covenant received
Be cheerful Saints all will be well
Angels watch over our gallant ship;
And for the power that brings us thru
Let it be heard from every lip.

As I read on about Alfred and his wife, Mathilda’s lives, I marveled at how they took hardship in stride. They seem to have had no expectations that their lives would be free from trial, that their needs would be met. They took in so many people (at different times both of their mothers – They built an add-on to their home for Mathilda’s mother-in-law and her four young children when Alfred’s father died of cancer and in Mathilda’s own words: “There was never a cross word spoken between them” – not in all 19 of the years she lived with them before she passed away.) They probably thought their lives unremarkable, but I stand in awe of their patient acceptance of life as it came to them. There was little to romanticize about their lives but the way Mathilda writes and historian W.G. Mills writes…. it is just so obvious that they were grateful for every moment of joy and peace; they knew how to drink it in. They knew that life was beautiful. I am proud to know them, prouder still to be descended from them, and I yearn to know them better.

Blooming!

Posted on: June 2, 2012

Tomato blossoms:

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I can’t remember if this is squash or cucumber:

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We also put tomato cages on our plants (that we started from seed- so proud of these) and laid soaker hoses, pinning them down with Orbit loop stakes:

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The peas and beans at the base of my green teepee are really taking off. Do you think I’ll need to thin them though or will they still produce even if I let them go a little crazy?

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So excited for these plants!

Super bummed though about these strawberries though:

We think it must be either tarnished plant bug which I am somewhat hopeless of curing (though open to suggestion) or that there might be some problem with the strawberries getting fertilized by each other. I must thank my friend Dana Nash and my sister’s horticulture professor respectively for the diagnoses. It could very well be TPB because we have wild mint (a common TPB host) growing in our driveway. But I couldn’t see any of the little critters on my plants… Hmm.

Now I open it to you to suggest a solution. Anyone know what to do? I’m going to try taking a clipping to the master gardener at the Utah county extension center but I’d appreciate any help with diagnosis or solutions. I’ve not given up to despair for my little berries yet though I’m earnest for their revival. Also, does anyone know, if it is either of the above problem, if it will affect my other plants nearby?

Grounded

Posted on: May 28, 2012

We got most of our plants in the ground now were safe from frost (knock on wood). Here are some great pics of our garden so far.

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Planting day.

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Meet the Dream Team behind our current project: gaining support for WIFE FOR LIFE: The Power to Succeed in Marriage. WIFE FOR LIFE is the book Ramona Zabriskie, creative mind behind Mona’s Musings, is writing. We need to create a following for the book in order to get it published.

We did a Google Hangout last week. Here’s everyone that showed up (Sara Lyn did not want to be included in the picture).

Grant has taken on the task of creating a blog/ landing page for the project to transparently let people know that their support is essential to getting the book published and letting them explore previews of the book and success stories from other married women. I’ll document our process here and be our Twitter-vangalist.

Bri and her husband Grant
Married August 2008

Hannah is our photographer and videographer.

Hannah and her husband  Kenneth
Married August 2011

Sara Elliot is keeping abreast of the conversation about marriage online and leaving comments. 

Sarah and her husband Spencer
Married June 2003

Emily is going to be our Facebook fanpage administrator.

Emily and her husband Brent
Married December 2003

All of us will be contributing guest content to the blog and Sarah Lyn will be managing, editing, proofing, and posting that content.

Sara Lyn and her husband Morgan
Married August 2005

Kristi is our Pinterest gal and gives us the perspective of single gals hoping to get married.

Beautiful Kristi

Ramona is managing what we do and writing, writing, writing, plus making a ton of decisions about the site/blog.

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Ramona and her husband Dale
Married December 1976

We’ve decided to use the project management tool, Basecamp, to collaborate from all our different locations (from Orlando to Los Angeles).

So excited!

It’s been about a month so I thought I’d do a quick update on how our garden in progressing. After finishing removing all the rocks with my husband when he returned home, we asked around for someone in our ward with a rototiller. Brother Jerome very kindly obliged. It was quickly apparent that this guy has a much greener thumb than I do. He apologized for coming late because he had been delivering some baby goats (how sweet!) and his rototiller is industrial size.

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Look at that monster!

Granto tilled up both plots in minutes. Thanks for letting us borrow it Brother Jerome!!

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Here’s what the plots ended up looking like when we were finished.

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While my sisters were in town, we decided to go get materials for some of the projects we were going to work on. We went to Lowes for all our pots and stakes for the green teepee. We went to the transfer station (the dump) for free tires to grow potatoes in (still haven’t completed that project though) and industrial pallets for our raised strawberry beds. Our favorite place we went was Mc Coards Garden Center over by the Provo Municipal Airport. We didn’t know what to expect but that place is huge! I loved Kristi’s face as we drove up to it.

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I have to put a plug in for Mc Coards here. They were so great. They only sold BIG packages of black plastic, a ton more than we would need and it was priced beyond my budget. I asked if they had any packages with less, and the gal went and found some used white yard plastic and gave it to us for free. Nicest people ever!

Then we had to take a slight hiatus from gardening projects while I finished school and graduated. In the meantime I kept up my little nursery of potted plants we’d been growing from seed ever since February. I love all the light in my laundry room/ pantry/ greenhouse. I wish I could capture the smell in there for you: an amazing mixture of laundry detergent, pungent moist soil smell, and all things growing.

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My son cheered me on at graduation from BYU.

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Go mom!

Read the rest of this entry »

With the digital shift to social media and the near necessity of creating an online persona, publishing agencies have “encouraged” authors to start selling themselves; having them do more of the heavy lifting. It is no longer enough to be a writer; you also have to be an advertiser. And you’re selling more than your writing; you’re selling yourself. I learned this in my Children’s Picture Book Writing class at Brigham Young University, but I’m seeing the practical application of it in “real life” with my mother-in-law and good friend, Ramona Zabriskie.

See… Mona is a writer. I mean, she’s really a writer. At heart. Something like what I aspire to become one day, but fear may be inborn and thus unattainable. You have only to stumble across the shelves upon shelves of binders FULL of old journal entries at her house as I did to realize the prolificacy of her writing. She’s kept two different (award-winning) blogs in the time I have known her, evidence of her incredible ability to adapt to emerging technologies, though at her age, most of her peers resist such changes (Mona’s Gospel Musings or Mona’s Musings with a Hint of Romance).  She is also a playwright (With Mine Own Hand) and a public speaker (she is currently presenting “Understanding, Supporting, and Appreciating the Men in our Lives,” all over the Northwest U.S. and Canada), not to mention directing and acting in numerous plays over her lifetime.

Right now, Mona is writing a book. I think it is an important book. I have read some of it. I find it incredibly inspiring, just like I find Mona incredibly inspiring. The book is entitled WIFE-4-LIFE: The Power to Succeed in Marriage and a top New York literary agent thinks it “could be an important book” except for one thing: Ramona Zabriskie does not have the academic credentials to write a self-help book nor fame to lend support to her words, and publishing agencies won’t take the book on the merit of her ideas and writing alone.

BUT, they will take it if YOU say it’s good and if YOU say you like her ideas.

I, along with many others, am trying to help her set up a marketing plan  that puts her “out there” so more people have a chance to read what she has written, judge for themselves, and become a follower. That is all it takes: a few thousand followers and that agent will be able to convince an agency to publish. Did you know public opinion had so much power? Do you know how much your voice counts when combined with many others?

Mona, a few other ladies, and I are going to collaborate on some ideas for this project next Monday. They need a little tutorial on how to join a Google Hangout, so I’m writing that below:

To hangout on Google, we all need to have google accounts and be on Google+ (A Google+ profile is a nice place to have a short bio and a public “online resume” of sorts for people (potential employers) to learn more about you quickly anyways. You can check out my profile here.) You will have to go to Google+ before our meeting and “download Google Hangout” – it only takes a few seconds. (I think it’ll be to the right of the screen in Google+, but I’m not sure as I’ve already downloaded it).

Everyone make sure to be online by the time we decided on and I will “start a hangout” and I believe it will automatically send an invite to your gchat (so make sure to be logged into your email and into chat too) – at least this is what has happened the few times I’ve used the Hangout feature. The invite will be a link. Just click that and it’ll take you to where we’re “hanging out”. If you have any questions, call or email me ahead of time and I’ll try to walk you through it.

It’s been a week since graduation, and I am not even close to settling into some sort of routine. Life has not slowed down much, though it is nice to choose what I do with nap-time and have a few less deadlines. I thought I’d post about a few of my projects. 

  • My amazing mother-in-law Ramona (you may know her from her award winning blogs: Mona’s Gospel Musings or Mona’s Musings with a Hint of Romance or even the play she and her husband wrote and produced, With Mine Own Hand) is in the process of an entirely new enterprise which she has entitled WIFE-4-LIFE. She has researched over 35 books on marriage and romance and countless articles, blogs, and websites of professional counselors, mentored many young married women, and is currently presenting “Understanding, Supporting, and Appreciating the Men in our Lives,” a presentation she created in connection with this project, all over the Northwest U.S. and Canada. She has also started writing a book, WIFE-4-LIFE: The Power to Succeed in Marriage, which follows her own experience (one of turning a marriage on-the-rocks into one of 30+ years that inspires others) in an attempt to inspire, as well as instruct, women how to make their marriages S.P.A.R.K.L.E (an acronym you’ll want to learn more about). Her book gained the attention of a top literary publishing agent in New York who thinks it could be an important book in the market, but cannot get publishing agencies attention because Ramona is neither a Ph-D nor a celebrity. BUT this agent advised mom that if her Twitter, Facebook, blog, and website could gain wider attention (meaning more followers) that would change everything. I’ve read bits of the book and heard her speak on the subject and believe me, she is an important voice in this discussion, the mother-mentor that so many young women are missing. Thus one of my projects is working with my husband to help her create an online marketing campaign to gain support for her book. Stay tuned for more information, because I’ll be posting our process here. 
  • I’m going all out with our garden. My sisters, Kristi and Traci, and my husband and I have put dozens of hours into it already. I’ll do a post with pictures soon. 
  • Researching Digital Folklore (one of my passions from school) and posting about it here. (If you want to see how I got interested in the subject and my previous research, check out my school blog). 
  • And I’m starting in on my long-neglected reading list (I know, ironic for an English major, but there it is). I’ll try to post reviews here as I read. If you want to keep up with what I’m reading and network with what you’re reading, check out my goodreads account (also a widget in the sidebar). 
  • Come fall, I’m excited to start in on Grant’s grad school reading with him. Since we’re both interested in similar things (enhancing education through the use of technology), we’ll both get a lot out of his degree. 

 

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