Friday, September 22, 2017

One Family's Story of Hope and Prayer During Hurricane Irma

3 hours: 
What is the significance of 180 minutes? So many things happen every 3 hours that just seem part of your day. You could enjoy a round of golf, clean your house, or take in a baseball game with your family. After August 30th, 2017 the 10,800 seconds in a 3 hour period had new meaning to me. Every three hours, the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the division of the National Weather Service responsible for tracking and predicting weather systems in the South Atlantic, delivers an update on the storm systems that are active in the area. Prior to August 30th, I had never even heard of the NHC…now I am an expert on the proper procedure to refresh the page when the latest update isn’t pulling up (just so you know, you have to leave the previous page that you had been staring at for the last 179 minutes, wait 5 seconds, and then hit the refresh button…works every time).

What is the significance of August 30th, 2017? That is when disturbance 13 formed to develop Tropical Storm Irma, just off the small African Island of Cape Verde. The storm rapidly increased and was officially designated a hurricane on August 30th, exactly 45 days after I moved my family of four from the Rocky Mountains of Utah to the beaches of West Florida. Five days later, while enjoying a beautiful Labor Day at the Tampa Zoo, the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, declared a State of Emergency after Irma strengthened to a category 4. I vividly remember looking at the alert on my phone and thinking for the first time that we could be in trouble. After the zoo we casually went to Sam’s Club to get some food while in the area. On the way in to the store we passed 4 generators leaving the store, countless cases of water and other supplies, and Melissa and I looked at each other with a higher level of fear in our eyes. A hurricane was coming our way and we needed to jump into another gear. We skipped our normal slow stroll through the store and went right to the back for the water. They had one pallet left. It’s probably the only time in my life I didn’t look for the price of the product. 


Six days later we were bunkered in our home as Irma was passing right above our head. They say that Hurricanes are better than say a tornado because you have advanced warning. At this point, I think I would have taken the twister…the anticipation and preparation was brutal. 

Do you know what ¼ 20 x 1 ½” threaded rod is? Me neither…up until Irma decided to grace us with her presence. This little piece of pipe, and its corresponding wing nut washer, led to the most stressful two days of my life. Shortly after helping my neighbor install his hurricane shutters, we went back to our house to do ours. According the Florida building code, each new home must come with hurricane shutters and the corresponding hardware…these little guys. 

Unfortunately, the previous owners of the home accidentally had the parts packed with them. In South Carolina. We were two days from the hurricane making landfall and I had no way to install our shutters. The good news is…there wasn’t any good news. Our home is rated to withstand 150 mph wind, contingent on the windows staying intact. While we were lucky enough to find the wing nuts, we had zero luck finding the threaded rod. It was now late on Friday afternoon, Irma was just 48 hours away and I was legitimately concerned for my family’s safety. As a father, you know one of your responsibilities is to provide and protect and I was drastically failing. I needed help. 

After calling the last Nut and Bolt store in a 75 mile radius with no luck, there was only one thing I could do. Looking back on it now, I feel a bit selfish for even saying the prayer in the first place. While we are good at praying as a family, I have really struggled making time for my personal prayers. I can only imagine my Father in Heaven looking down at me in the parking lot of Rent King with the same look that I have for Conner when he doesn’t pick up his toys. Like really…NOW you are going to listen to me…when you know you are in trouble. But he did have pity on me and after saying the prayer, I had the thought (guidance) to post something on our neighborhood Facebook page. I had tried this earlier in the week with no luck, so I was a bit skeptical of doing it again but did it anyway.

I stopped at Home Depot to get some more supplies and refreshed the post to see if anyone responded…nothing. Again, as I was leaving…nothing. Feeling frustrated and mad, I headed home to tell Melissa that I had failed and that our house was going to blow over. I stopped at a stoplight, had the thought (guidance) to check the post one more time and…something. Donna to the rescue!

We took cookies to Donna last night to thank her for saving our lives and she made the comment that she usually isn’t on Facebook and the thought (guidance) came to her to check on the neighborhood before we lost power. Inspiration and the Holy Ghost is real, and I will never doubt it. 

“Should I stay or should I go now?”
Speaking of guidance from our Heavenly Father, when a category 5 hurricane with 180 mph winds is looking you in the face, an obvious question is should we leave? Water cooler talk at the office changed from sports talk and office gossip to “so, where are you evacuating to?” Early on in the process, Melissa and I prayed to know what we should do. While I won’t go into details on that experience, I will tell you that our family was less than pleased when we told them that we felt prompted to stay home. 

While I can understand their frustration, it has to be hard seeing these reports and being thousands of miles away, we had prayed and fasted that we would know what the best course of action would be for us. A few days after the storm passed, Melissa and I were talking about what we learned and what we would need to do in the future. While I did the “man thing” and jumped right into forecasts and go/no go timeframes, Melissa did the typical woman thing (recognized the moment and learned from it to make all of us better) and reminded me that we need to fast and pray about the next situation and follow our feelings (guidance). Thank goodness for my better half.  

Irma changed course 100 different times, ended up being late, and just ended up being a lot of drama. Irma lost a lot of power before it got to us, and while we had some pretty gnarly winds and a couple of sleepless nights, we avoided any major damage or power outages. Others in Florida were not as lucky as us. Some estimates put the power outages at 5 million residents with 39 fatalities and over $35 billion dollars in damage. 

People really are GOOD
Two days after the storm, I was lucky enough to join the LDS Helping Hands and head south to support those that were majorly impacted by Irma. The LDS church we met at had 890 volunteers show up to do everything from roof repairs to tree removals…lots of tree removals. It was hot, humid, bugs everywhere…but it was the most fulfilling service I have ever done. 

On the way home, we experienced something truly amazing to see. Do you know how far it is from Allentown, Pennsylvania to Tampa, Florida? 1,133 miles, or 18 hours of driving. Or how about Cypress, Texas to Tampa? 1,206 miles or 18 hours of driving. And that is if you are in a regular car doing 70 mph with air conditioning. But what if you are driving one of these. 

Driving north on I-75, we were passed by 100’s (no exaggeration) of these trucks driving south. Hundreds of crews that left their families, drove for days in trucks that I am sure didn’t have air conditioning, all so they could help complete strangers get their AC. Two of the trucks had logos I could read, PPL Electric based out of Allentown PA and MP Technologies based out of Texas (can you imagine the month that MP Technologies has had with Harvey to deal with).

While tragedies like this are terrible, I do believe that they make us better humans and that it brings the country together. For every 1 story about looters (that the news shows over and over again) there are dozens of stories of kindness, sacrifice and love. A neighbor of mine collected 250 cases of unused water and other supplies and personally drove them to the Florida Keys. Not to make it on CNN, but because she cares about those that are suffering. Or the story that did make the news about a man giving up a generator that he was going to purchase to a women whose husband needed a breathing machine to survive. In a day filled with hate and political uncertainty, it is refreshing to see human kindness in the wake of adversity. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Chaotic Life: Is It Time To Surrender?

As the ringmaster in your home you know all about those afternoons when the circus is indeed in town, your home is its tent, your family is the main event and you are the one on the platform juggling, lion taming and strangely enough pulling things out of the oven like a magic hat magician. Yesterday, as master of my own circus I found myself orchestrating 5 different acts simultaneously! I prepared to head off for my son’s cub scout den meeting while arranging a quick return transport of a play date friend, whilst my daughter called out arrangements for a ride to and from the football game, and simultaneously I set the chicken for dinner soaking in the sink. Oh, and all the while my husband was urgently texting me about a KSL item I had sent him to look at. I had broken into a sweat by the time I was alone in the car.
Right in the sludgiest, thick of the thick of it I began to panic as I was filled with absolute certainty that my head was going to in fact EXPLODE with the pressure, and all that brain goo was going to get in the kids’ hair and they’d never be able to wash it out on their own and the kids at school would tease them and call them Brainy Hair McGee and they’d be scarred for life for sure!
Thankfully though, a phrase I’ve heard many times before came floating on the breeze of sanity, “Surrender to the chaos”. I shook my head, rolled my shoulders and continued ring mastering the circus of my life and family and ignored the possibility of head explosions.
Later that night I returned to that term of surrendering to chaos. Surrender generates images of armies falling to their knees in front of the adversary and praising the enemy with tears of defeat. Or in terms of surrendering to family chaos I imagine the toddler running naked through the house wielding half eaten chocolate pudding cups, mashing play dough into the carpet and drinking my essential oils. I see the teenager going and coming to and from heaven only knows where while the 8 year old jumps on the couch, the 5 year old plays in my makeup and the 11 year old stares vacantly at the computer screen while shouting insults at this brother, and all the while I am obediently surrendering and pretending I am so very zen when really my head is still about to explode with all this “surrender” nonsense.
Here’s the big Ah-Ha reveal…chaos isn’t the enemy. It’s the inevitability of living a life with responsibility, meaning, people and especially children. Chaos isn’t something to be fought against or given over to, it just IS. It is neither bad nor good, to be envied or feared, it is simply something you must learn to deal with or fight against until you’re weak and defeated with your brain goo in the children’s hair.
God created a beautiful and perfectly organized and formatted world in which we flourish and thrive, and he did it using only chaos and matter. So you see, the chaos matters. In fact, the chaos in your life IS the matter you get to use to create happy and well adjusted human beings. All that flurried activity is life happening and is the time for teaching and example setting so that those littles of yours can learn to ring master the chaos that is and will ever be in their lives.
Now, the only way you can use that chaos for the greater good is if YOU yourself are not chaotic. There’s that scene in the movies where the heroine stands still and calm while everything around her moves with dizzying speed. Your family needs you to be that still center around which everything spins. So just breathe. Find what works for you to clear your head, ground yourself and organize your priorities. If you can manage this then from your viewpoint in the center of it all you can appreciate the little still frames of beauty all around you. Your boys tying their first ties in the mirror, your daughter twirling in a sparkling skirt and fairy wings, your teen’s bright face as she heads out to soccer, your son’s serious walk as he readies for scouts, your family passing dishes across the table to one another, your toddler running to hug her Dad as he walks in the door and that moment of surprise when he lifts her in his arms and you remember just how handsome he really is.
Surrendering to the chaos doesn’t mean you lie down and let it consume you in its path of destruction. Surrendering to the chaos means accepting its inevitable authority in your life and letting it hustle around you while you enjoy the rush of its living breath on your face and the beauty it stirs up in the life about you.
Need a place to put these good ideas to use? Check out our planners at

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Attach items to your Coil

I finally made a video, my first tutorial of how I attach different items to my planner coil.  
I love to buy the clear sturdy cards from the Heidi Swapp brand found at most craft stores, and I know Becky Higgins brand also has some really cute cards from Project Life.  Most of the embellishments and cute stickers I get are from The Planner Society.

Hope you enjoy the tutorial.  Leave a comment to let me know what other videos you would like to see me do.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Love is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

“Love is the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yet it is not found only at the end of the rainbow. Love is at the beginning also, and from it springs the beauty that arched across the sky on a stormy day. Love is the security for which children weep, the yearning of youth, the adhesive that binds marriage, and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death. How rich are those who enjoy it in their associations with family, friends, and neighbors! Love, like faith, is a gift of God. It is also the most enduring and most powerful virtue.”

Monday, February 27, 2017

Home is a special kind of feeling  

In today’s world,  
nowhere is that bedrock foundation of love needed more than in the home. And nowhere should the world find a better example of that foundation than in the homes of Latter-day Saints who have made love the heart of their family life.

To those of us who profess to be disciples of the Savior Jesus Christ, He gave this far-reaching instruction:

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

 If we would keep the commandment to love one another, we must treat each other with compassion and respect, showing our love in day-to-day interactions. 
Love offers a kind word, a patient response, a selfless act, an understanding ear, a forgiving heart
In all our associations, these and other such acts help make evident the love in our hearts.

 Love is the very essence of the gospel, the noblest attribute of the human soul. 
Love is the remedy for ailing families, ill communities, and sick nations. Love is a smile, a wave, a kind comment, and a compliment. Love is sacrifice, service, and selflessness.

Thomas S. Monson

What will you do this week to increase the feelings of love, understanding and acceptance in your home?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Love one Another

Today is the last day to enter the giveaway. I can't talk about things I love without mentioning my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the epitome of love and one of the words I would use to describe Him is welcoming. His arms are always extended and ready to receive us. I love to keep that image of His arms extended toward me in my mind and heart at all times. I know He loves us and He wants us to be happy. He has told us that one of the best formulas for happiness is by loving others and serving them. He feels our love for Him when we serve and love others, especially our families and neighbors.

What word would you use to describe our Savior?

Leave a comment below and tell us for an entry in the giveaway today.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Paper Planning

All you need to do to enter the giveaway for today is to post a picture of your planner or a page in your planner, blank or filled out to share.  You can post it in the comments here or on your own social media pages.  Make sure to use the hashtag #mmpthingsilove and tag me @mormonmomplanner on Instagram or Facebook or @MorMomplanner on twitter.  Please tag me on Pinterest as well if you post there.  You also need to tag 3 friends on your post.  You get an entry for each social media forum you use. 

It's no doubt that one of the things I love to do is plan.  I've always been a planner and an organizer.  I love to see things turn into something beautiful, including goals.   Planning to me is taking my thoughts seriously and implementing them into actions and accomplishments.  If I don't take the time to record and write my impressions and plans down, it means I never really took them serious in the first place.  One of my major goals this year is to just follow my planner.  Haha.  I know that seems weird, but I take the time to write my goals and action plans down, so how foolish would I be to not follow those personal and thoughtout plans inspired just for me or my family?  When I follow my planner and do the things I committed to do, I feel a lot less stressed and like I can do those small things each day to accomplish my intentions and fulfill my purpose.  When I fly by the seat and disregard those plans, I feel like a feather in the wind and I have little direction and productivity.  I'm certainly not rigid at all about this and allow a lot of room for spontaneity and flexibility with kids, sicknesses, last minute things. For instance, I planned all of January  out with all of these amazing ideas and thoughts I had for home and for business, only to be sick for most of the month with ear infections, strep throat, etc. but it was nice to come back to work and life and have the plan down and all I needed was to adjust a few things and move a few things around and I was back on track again so, I do feel like it's important to stick to the plans and goals as much as possible, especially when they were made through prayer and inspiration.  There's nothing like a fresh start and I don't just use January every year for that.  We can start at anytime and make tweaks, adjustment, new goals, step it up moments and reset our life whenever we choose.  We can reach our potentials one little goal and step at a time.  I'm sure grateful for pen and paper to help me remember those little and big things along the way.

Here are some mock-up spreads I did awhile ago but thought they might be useful again to see different ways you can plan.

How has paper planning helped you?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Favorite Quote

I love quotes and scriptures and since we're focusing on the things I love this week, I thought I would share with you my favorite saying to remember.  I tried and tried to find where I originally heard it, but I couldn't find it.  I seemed to remember I heard it from James E. Faust, but I searched and couldn't find it, but the scripture reference is Revelations 3:11

I love this thought because it is true.  Jesus Christ overcame everything and conquered the devil forever and all we need to do is stay focused on our loving Savior and keep His commandments and we've got it!  When we mess up EVERYDAY, all we have to do is say sorry and commit to do better.  Really, That's it!  And if we do that, and fill ourselves with His love,  we will receive ALL that our Father in Heaven has!  How amazing.  How spectacular and joyful.  This is our goal, this is our Father's goal to bring to pass OUR immortality and eternal life.  Think of it, GLORY and CROWNS.  I can hardly imagine, but I know it's real.  God is real, the devil is real.  Good and evil does exist.  The devil hates us and wants us to fail, but we can't let him take away our glory and crown.  We can do this.  We can overcome the world just as our Savior has.  He has shown us the way and it is only by and through Him.  How blessed are we!


To be entered into the huge giveaway today.  All you have to do is make sure  that you're following all of these accounts if you aren't already:

AND, if you are already following them,  then you just need to post your favorite quote or scripture and share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #mmpthingsilove  AND please tag me by using @mormonmomplanner  on FB and Instagram and @MorMomplanner on Twitter .   ALSO, please tag a few of your friends that might enjoy your quote or scripture you're sharing.  Make sure your account isn't marked private for today only so I can see your post and enter you in the giveaway.  Let me know in the comments when you're done. 

That's it!  Let's spread some awesomeness today on the internet! 

If you still need to get organized for 2017 you can pick up a planner for just $29.99 (that's 15% off) and you get FREE shipping.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Things I love Giveaway

I'm so excited for this awesome giveaway sharing a few things that I love with one of you!  You are simply the best customers and I feel so blessed to get to share part of my life with you.

Ok, so let's go over all of the prizes a little bit.

First of all, I LOVE bags.  I'm sort of a hoarder of bags, but this is by far my favorite.  I can fit so much into this bag.  My planner, my laptop, my camera, all of my other little bags full of doo dads.  I love all of the little compartments and that I can adjust it to fit my needs.  This is also the bag I take when I travel anywhere because it's quite thin even when packed to the brim,  and it sits so well under my feet on the plane or in the car.  This bag is the missy mint bag from

I LOVE blankets, cute candles and good books.  This blanket is a sweater blanket by Threshold and it is SO cozy and King size too.  It is from and the candle is from Hobby Lobby and my favorite books are Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park.  Love Pride and Prejudice, well and all of Jane Austen's books too, but my husband refrained me from giving away the whole set......this time.  But, I'm sure it will be another future giveaway.  ;)  The covers are so cute too which makes it an extra bonus.

I LOVE stickers as you all know.  I try really hard not to hoard them, but I'm not going to lie.  I have plenty and to spare.  I love to use them up and they are just what is needed sometimes to spice things up in my planner or birthday card, etc.  I've hooked this giveaway up with some of my favorite stickers to use in my planner because they are word art and inspirational phrases to help keep my motivated.  They are mostly the stickabilities brand from Paper Studio that you find at Hobby Lobby.  Here they are:

Wahoo!  Here are some more close up shots:

I also love cute note cards and scrapbook papers I can attach to my planner or use in scrapping.  I love writing quotes on these cards and using a stapler or washi tape to attach them to anything I want when I'm journal-ing  or planning.   I love all of the Snap brand journal-ing cards and they come with adorable embellishments which I love to use as well.

 And of course, I love pens & accessories like these:

That pen at the bottom is one my dad made, and it is beautiful and they write so nice too.  The bag and 3 of the washi's are from The Planner Society, and I LOVE her creations, they are definitely some of my favorite.

I LOVE office supplies.  Here are some of my favorite:

How cute is that glue gun?  

I love on the go, convenient things and when they're cute, it's a bonus.  I picked up a water bottle for shakes, infuse water and one for hot drinks along with some re-usable ice mini ice packs to help keep things cool while you're out and about running errands or partying on the town with your kids.  Everything you see in the picture is from Target.  I love water bottles and treats ready to share with my kids when they're getting a little cranky.  This is the perfect set to take with you in the car or to the park.

Okay, last but not least.  I love bags.  Oh wait, did I already say that?  Well, I do.  And I love a cute back to store all of the essentials I need while I'm out and about.  Kind of like these:

I don't know why the water bottle was in this picture again, but it is what it is.  Okay, so there are more cute little smaller bags to keep things organized by category.  I personally have that same get it together pouch and I love to use it for my doo-dads like extra tape, tacky, pens, cards, paper clips, rubber bands, safety pins, mini stapler, etc..  That has come in so handy for me while setting up things for Young Women's activity or kid's projects.  
Some other things you see in the picture:
Cute compact umbrella
Cute reciept holder
Cell phone Portable charger (isn't that so cute?!)
Cell Phone charger is gold
Card Case for all of those extra cards you don't want in your wallet
5 little bags, 2 see through for extra storage.

And Here is a picture of everything together.  WOWEE!

I am trying to grow some of my social media accounts as some of them are brand new and I would really love your help in spreading the word and sharing these accounts with your friends.  So, all you have to do to get an entry today is make sure you like all of these social media accounts and tag your favorite one on any of your social media accounts.  You'll get an entry for every tag you share and you'll get an entry just for liking them too.  

 In the top right hand corner of this blog, you can enter your email to subscribe to our blog and get updates when I post.  You get one entry in the giveaway by submitting your email.

 If you're not already following us on Facebook,
Click on the link and go ahead and like our page and you'll get another entry to this giveaway!

 Instagram is such a fun way to share photos and we have a fun feed you can follow to get inspiration or ideas for the day.  Follow us on Instagram for another entry.

Follow us on Pinterest for another entry

And here is our Twitter that is brand spank'n new.  Here we'll be posting links to our favorite quotes, scriptures, talks, and so much more.

Our You Tube channel is also very new and we are excited to be posting more videos and tutorials on this channel that have to do with planning and so much more.  For an entry, you just need to subscribe to the channel.  

Whew!  So there you have it.  Lots of chances to enter today's portion of the giveaway.  We'll be randomly choosing a winner tonight that will go on to the final drawing.  (We will choose a winner from each day that will be in the final drawing.  Wahoo.  

Please leave a comment if you have any questions and 

If you still need to get organized for 2017 you can pick up a planner for just $29.99 (that's 15% off) and you get FREE shipping.