Life of a Real Mom

Unedited Mothering

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Hiking: Extreme and Family Friendly Sport


– Dunc and J.D. went with the twelve year old scouts last weekend to hike and sleep in the Superstition Mountains. Because we live close to the church where the scouts were meeting before caravanning to the mountains, my three hikers walked to the church with their gear on their backs. It looked so funny to see these guys walking down the middle of a regular neighborhood with big packs on their backs!

Duncan is getting really excited for his hiking season. If you didn’t already know he has been working on hiking from Mexico to Canada (the Pacific Crest Trail) in chunks every summer. He has hiked 1,008 miles and has 1,660 to go. He hopes to hike more than ever this summer – 270 miles. Two years ago Curt, Adam, J.D. and I joined him for 56 miles.

Here is a photo from the top of Forester Pass,the highest point on the Pacific Crest Trail and on the John Muir Trail, in 2016.

At the top of Forester Pass

We camped above tree line among mountain top lakes the night before this. You just can’t get an accurate feeling of the majesty of these mountains from the photos. We had been climbing for 3 days to get there and the feeling of being on top of it all is unforgettable. It is funny that we look almost like we are in the desert here. We are actually at 13,300 plus feet in elevation! Look behind us. That is one of the very high mountain lakes that we passed as we ascended. These lakes have iceberg type chunks of bluish ice floating in them. They are frozen over at their shore lines. They are a gorgeous blue. It is interesting that there is so little vegetation and almost zero wild life that high. What an accomplishment – especially for me, the slowest but still determined. 🙂 There was a couple miles of snow and ice hiking on both sides of the pass. This kind of hiking I had never done before. I had to be careful not to look around too much because I almost felt dizzy at times. Look at the huge mountains that are BELOW us here.

I was limping on both legs by the time I got off the trail (John Muir Trail of the High Sierras). Curt and I hope to join him for a bit this summer too.

J.D. has caught the hiking bug and is committed to hiking the entire Appalachian Trail this summer from Georgia to Main, which is 2,200 miles in 3 1/2 months!

Here is a letter by Duncan to his family, when he began the adventure.

Dear Family,  

I’ve had a few questions about my venture this summer, so here is more information (just so you know, this is a fairly long email).

This year will be the 1st of 5 or 6 hiking the 2,668 mile-long PCT from the Mexican to the Canadian border.  Some folks take 4-6 months & do it all at once, but I’m spreading it out over several years, and those years may or may not all be consecutive.

I’m extremely fortunate (“blessed” is the right word) to have a wife & family that is strongly supporting me in this activity.  From the beginning, Kristin has been behind me.  I’m also fortunate that I have a job allowing me to take 5-6 weeks off at a time (one of the benefits of enduring all of those years of grad school).  

The PCT, or Pacific Crest Trail, is considered one of the world’s best–if not the best–of the long-distance hiking trails.  It is also open to equestrians (but not mountain bikes or motorized equipment).  The trail’s reputation is one of good signage and fairly easy to follow, and is maintained by an army of volunteers with strong cooperation from the Forest Service (the primary agency), National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other land management agencies–mainly federal, but also some state ones.  Nearly all of the trails is on public land (the rest is on private land where the owners have given easements and right-of-ways).  The Pacific Crest Trail Association ( keeps the trail and its volunteers quite strongly organized.  

Despite the word “Pacific” being in the trail’s name, the ocean is never in view.  Rather, it follows the high elevation mountainous “crest” of the Southern Californian mountains, the Sierra Nevada, and the Cascades.  Because of that, it is also a brutally difficult trail in terms of elevation gain and loss.  Comparisons are invariably made between the PCT and America’s other famous long-distance hiking trail, the Appalachian Trail (or AT).

Those who have hiked both say the PCT is far better than the AT in terms of scenery, variety, and tranquility, but is also a much more rugged and difficult hike.  It is precisely that scenery and variety–and the ruggedness–that attracts me to the trail.  There are a number of towns near (but not right on) the trail for resupply.  Highway crossings occur with some frequency in the Southern California, Northern California, and Oregon portions, but hardly at all in the High Sierra, nor throughout most of Washington & the North Cascades.  Crossings of freeways & other busy highways are usually by underpass or less commonly by overpass.  This year the freeways I will cross are Interstate 8, Interstate 10 (where the wind turbines are at), Interstate 15, and California Freeway 14.

Detailed guides (of which I own a couple now) point out the resupply locations, good camping spots, and water supply (most of which I will need to treat with my water filter and a bit of bleach).  My PCT permit allows me to camp at any reasonable location near the trail–but at least 100′ from the trail itself.

This year (2014) is from Campo (at the Mexican Border–mi 0) starting on May 19 and going to June 23 (or so) to mi 517.6 (Hwy 138 at the Hiker-Town hostel near the north end of Section E).  See the overview map at  

“Hiker-Town” (my end point this year) is located about 30 miles north of (as the crow flies–many, many more in road miles, of course) Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park, but on the other side of the San Gabriel mountains.  Hiker-town is a small business that has some food for hikers, but more importantly showers! (along with laundry machines, and a few bunks in a hostel-type of environment (and outdoor grass for camping if the bunks are all taken).  A separate, but similarly PCT-located, business (called “Hiker Heaven”) exists in Agua Dulce off of California Freeway 14 near the famous Vazquez Rocks.  Even though the L.A. basin will never be far away from much of this year’s journey, the metropolitan area is never in view (except for when I summit Mt. Baden-Powell) as the trail stays to the north side of the San Gabriels.

It is estimated that somewhere between 30-60 people per day will cross any given point on the trail during the main hiking season.  However, since most hikers are northbound, they actually don’t come across each other very often.  About 500 or so people “through-hike” the trail every year (completing it from start to finish).  I’m considered a “section hiker” but I’ll be hiking 4 complete and a partial 5th section this year.

My supply acquisition is nearly complete.  My new REI backpack feels comfortable even with 40+ pounds in it (I’ve taken it with me on a couple of 20-milers now).  My training continues apace, and I feel good about my preparation.  However, I realize that hiking in general and long-distance hiking specifically, carries a certain amount of risk.  The things that can go wrong are numerous, and I realize that–but I also know that come May 19th I’ll be as prepared as I possibly can.

The inspiration for hiking such a long trail is two-fold.  First is my love of the outdoors and hiking (anybody who knows me knows that about me) as well as a love of backpacking, which began at age 11 with the family backpacking trips in the Pagosa area–those remain among my favorite memories growing up.  Scouting activities–Philmont primarily–reinforced that love of backpacking.  Secondly, hiking the PCT became my “bucket list.”  In fact, it is the only thing on my bucket list.  

The beginnings of wanting to hike the PCT started one morning in Pagosa when I was 23 years old.  It was a bright, sunny morning and breakfast had just concluded and the tables were all clean.  I was sitting at the picnic table near the white (Shaeffer) trailer and looking at a Rand McNally road atlas, something I often did.  I noticed on the map of Southern California a hiking trail, and I followed the trail with my finger on the map all the way through California, Oregon, and Washington.  Rand McNally only shows two hiking trails on their U.S. road atlas, the PCT and the AT.  That was the beginnings of wanting to hike the PCT.

I should have hiked the PCT right then (in the days before I met Kristin), but alas, I never did.  The desire to hike it has never gone away, and in recent years, has even increased.  Now with two kids on missions and the other 3 boys getting older, the time is right, family-wise, for me, and at long last I am beginning the trail.

Love, Dunc

Dunc and I with our two youngest on the Grand Canyon Shuttle – Summer 2017

Counsel to Teens and their Parents from Apostles of the Lord

Live broadcast of Elder Ballard, Rasband, Robbins, and Costa’s devotional in Gilbert, Arizona on January 28th, 2017.
REMEMBER, these are MY notes – not the complete talks or exact quotes. Any mistakes are my own, not mistakes of the speakers themselves.

To the Youth:
Elder M. Russell Ballard –
One word that would change your life to have in the back of your mind. “I Nephi being young, strong…DESIRE…” (1 Nephi 2:16)

– Desire to know.
– Desire to keep the commandments
– Be willing to listen to God’s counsel.

Elder Rasband –
Look at tonight before you go to bed.
The Church has accounts on social media (including Instagram and Snapchat). The Church is meeting you where you are. Post or tweet Elder Rasband. 🙂
There is a dark side to the internet and social media too. Everything you read/see on the internet is not true. If you made sometime daily to to study standard works, especially for Youth booklet, and preach my Gospel – I promise you will be blessed in your life.
Elder M. Russell Ballard is the great, great grand nephew of Joseph Smith. He is the great-great-grandson of Hyrum Smith. His grandfather, Melvin J. Ballard, was an apostle. So, he has the blood of prophets running through his veins. He is not just talking about Joseph Smith as an apostle, but as his descendent.

Elder Ballard –
Question: How do I stay strong while preparing for my mission? it is hard to keep the commandments, stay virtuous, and active. A: Your desire will make the difference. You will have the will power if you desire to stay clean and be a worthy missionary.
– Be a hard worker
– Make your prayers more meaning full
Q: Do Young Women have to go on missions? A: NO. It is up to her, the promptings of the Holy Ghost in your hear. Pray and ask when you get older (19). If you don’t go on a mission, make your life a great mission. your example will be your mission. Young men, stay faithful as a deacon, a teacher, a priest, and then stand tall when your bishop approaches you about going on a mission. The way you (all teens) present yourself and the light in your eyes helps you to be a great member missionary. If your friends ask you a question that you don’t know the answer to, you say, “I know 2 guys who can answer that question for you. When would it be good to meet them?”
Q: My brother came home from his mission early because of anxiety. What can I do to prevent that from happening to me? A: Learn to talk face to face. Don’t text to ask someone on a date. And for your brother, tell him that all disciples of Jesus Christ are missionaries.
Q: Do I keep asking inactive friends if they want to come to church? A: Pray about it. Maybe an activity coming up or the missionaries would be just right for them. Caring about them, which you obviously do, is a wonderful step.
Q: How can I be a good missionary to my non-member dad? A:Give him a hug and say, “Daddy, would you consider joining the church so that we can be sealed together as a family?” Love him, pray for him. You can also study Preach My Gospel, which was written to missionaries. You will have the inspiration of heaven with a sincere heart. Prepare yourselves to be missionaries. We need you then and we need you when you come home.

Lynn G Robbins –
Q: What do I do when I feel so sad? A: We will all have tough days. D&C 46: gifts are given by the Spirit of God. They include Christ like attributes too. 9 virtues are in chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel. We can pray for these attributes and you can develop them. The more you become like Christ the happier you will be. You can wake up, as Christ must have, happy knowing what good you can do that day. happiness is the most attractive accessory you can have. SMILE. “If thou art sorrowful – call on the Lord thy God” D&C 136:29 “Men are that they might have joy.” 2 Nephi 2:25.
Q: Do I have a testimony? A: Not a “special experience,” but those experiences are so rare. That isn’t the way that it comes. The light of Christ is with you constantly, so you may not notice it. You are so use to it, every day many times. Underling your scriptures is revelation, the light is discernible. It is real. He hears your prayers.

Elder Costa –
Q: How do I deal with peer pressure? A: “It is better to prevent than to fix.” The Costa family motto
If you are in a bad situation (such as a party with drinking or inappropriate behavior)? Leave or help improve the situation? LEAVE. Choose your friends wisely. In their family they have a code. When his kids call him and give the code, he knows to go to their rescue and the child can blame the parents for having to leave. Peer pressure is real. 1 Nephi 3:7 You can do it! Stand tall. Look for the help of the Lord!

Elder Rasband –
When you have a question ask, How would Jesus Christ answer that question? Go to the topical guide
Q: How do I know if I am forgiven? D&C 58:42 “ He who has repented of his sins, The Same is forgiven.” The adversary laces us with guilt. It causes us to slow down, to dwell in the pst. Turn yourselves to Christ. Forgiving others is a Christlike attribute. Matt 6:14-15. If I forgive others, the Father will forgive me. Don’t carry grudges. Suppress anger and move forward.

Elder Ballard –
Q: Dating before 16? A: Do you believe Spencer W. Kimball was a prophet?
Don’t let others/world label you to one single friend. A goodnight kiss is one thing. Other kinds of kisses are dangerous. We aren’t going to let the world dictate how we live. We’ll let the Lord dictate how we live.
Q: 17 and never asked out? Be beautiful. Lighten up. This has everything to do with fun. Be patient.

Recently Elder Oaks and Elder Ballard spoke to young adults to answer their questions. SEE IT HERE.

Peach Fuzz

Carol: I just read the funniest thing on Facebook that cracks me up. My friend that I’ve known for 10 years in Gilbert just put this on Facebook. She has 62 comments and all but four say to “eat the peel”. The ones that said “peel the peach” are mostly from the South or hate fuzz.

Carol’s friend on the friend’s Facebook page: “Poll time. I just recently found out that some people eat the peel right along with their peaches! Mind blowing! I have always peeled peaches so now I’m curious, do you peel or don’t you?”

Alison: That’s funny! I have never thought to peel it unless I am making something with them!! Ha ha

Janet: Of course, I say eat the peel. It’s not even that fuzzy if you wash it. However, Rob would disagree. He grew up with peaches right in the backyard, but rarely ate a fresh peach! If he did, it was peeled and sliced for him, put in a tiny custard dish, and served with sugar on top. They were all bottled and eaten bottled! He has slowly squired a taste for fresh peaches since we’ve been married, but he still rarely eats them (unless I peel them, sugar them, and serve them w cream).

Kristin: It is mind blowing to me that so many DON’T eat the peel! What can I say without sounding narrow minded? I will just say: I think that being comfortable with eating a fresh peach with the peel is a reflection of your stamina, gratitude for all living and your personal righteousness. (just kidding!!!)

Maybe next time someone ask, “Why do you have such an awesome family,” we can simply say – “We eat our peaches with the peel on them to build character, courage and charisma. It makes all the difference.” (Sorry for making fun. It is too late.)

So interesting, though, for sure.

Carol: Right????!!! So funny!! But there you have it–Rob ate very few fresh peaches at all unless with the peel off…and they were in his own yard!!!! And to have your own orchard you must have stamina. 😄

Janie, do you have tiny custard dishes???

Janet: Hilarious. I don’t really eat in tiny quantities…

You’ve probably all heard my story about when I went to dinner at the Duncans for the first time and we had ice cream – one, perfect, small scoop – in the little custard dishes. They scooped it out of one of those big plastic buckets, by the way, and I thought it was a joke! They were surely playing a joke on me!! I ate mine in a flash and expected them to offer me more, but they put the lid on it and put it back in the freezer! I was shocked, confused, mystified. It was not a joke. I came to learn, though, that Alldredge ice cream quantities seem to shock, confuse, and mystify lots of people. Haven’t you all found that as well?

Carol: Cracking up over here!!! (In Vienna, in the youth hostel with three bunk beds so my kids are cracking up, too)

Actually, Fawsons eat tons of ice cream every single night. So my kids actually come by it honestly. We eat gelato over here on a daily basis. Ricotta with pear is my favorite flavor over here…

Delene: Haha! Yes, I remember that custard dish story, Janet. I remember eating six pancakes at the Roseberry’s once, and they were all staring in wonder;)
Food quantities and food crudeness, are both at a shocking high in our household. Nathan ate a bell pepper like an apple at work one day and shocked and amazed his colleagues (fellow teachers in TX). Other parents have been envious of my toddlers’ eating habits: “I need to have my Johnny spend time at your house and may be he would eat as robustly as your George! I can’t get him to eat anything but graham crackers.” Of course, they want to keep their distance when I’m also allowing my children to cut their teeth on sticks and small rocks at the playground;) I’ll be careful not reveal that we also eat our peaches…..peel on!!

Kristin: LOLOLOL! on all accounts! I am feeling very prissy since we have somehow reduced our ice cream quantities to one scoop in recent years (and we have little custard dishes, I am embarrassed to say, but we don’t have huge buckets of ice cream in contrast. I don’t remember hearing that story! how funny!). I have witnessed the Seamans eat ice cream and it is a sight to behold. Deek – I love how you word it “robustly” “Your George” “cutting teeth on sticks”… LOL!
The Shaeffers LOVE watching us eat, especially Adam, who has a reputation that puts many to shame. He can eat more drumsticks, fried eggs, or ham than the rest of the extended Shaeffer family. Adam is definitely a carnivore.

Carol – you cultured sister you! Ricotta with pear? wow. a youth hostel in Vienna! – how cool is that?!

I have received a lot of comments on what good eaters my kids are too. Desiree, Ben, Chuck … they all are amazed at the variety of foods we eat and how I know how to make so many things.
I remember Desiree, when she first moved in asking about our water drinking habit. “Your kids will drink water?!” Yes. “Do you have any juice?” No, I don’t buy juice or soda. “What do you drink then?!” We drink water. “That is all?” Yep. She quickly got use to it and I would imagine was quite liberated by the thought of having instant satisfaction to your thirst by turning on a facet.


Delene: So funny! Yes, the drinking water thing comes up a lot here, too. I’m so glad I know life does not have to be so complicated. I’d love to have someone point out the ways I do complicate things. I’m sure I do. “First-world problems” is a phrase we catch ourselves using to own up to the frivolity of some of our “necessities.” I account for much of our culture as a product of growing up in, and/or raising, a large family–no time for peach-peeling with so many hungry mouths;)

Kristin: Hugs!


Many of us humans have been touched by anxiety in one way or another so it is a pertinent subject.

My strategy, when I am feeling anxious, is to talk. I feel like I need to talk through things a lot. I am grateful for those who have been the receiving end of my “thoughts” at those important times, especially my Heavenly Father. I admit I am not as experienced or informed as most, but since talking is the way I get through things, I encourage my kids to talk to me a lot. I ask serious and personal and funny questions as often as I can, then LISTEN. I stay up late, wake up early, go on outings, pray like crazy, whatever I need to do to get them to open up. I work on truly accepting them and doing what I can to make them feel safe around me. I am sure that you are all doing this too. I don’t know if that helps, but that is what comes to mind right now.

I also feel that a personal relationship with Heavenly Father and being in-tune with the Holy Ghost is most important. However, this is not the only thing needed sometimes. We need to be honest and in-touch with our bodies and minds. When we need help, get it.

Here are some books I have been referred to from an excellent source that I trust, but I haven’t read any of them yet. 🙂

Happiness Is A Serious Problem by Dennis Prager
The Holy Scriptures by God
The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron
Reinventing Yourself by Steve Chandler
Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Leadership and Self Deception by The Arbinger Institute
Putting on the Armor of God by Steven Cramer
Bonds That Make Us Free by C. Terry Warner
Our Search for Happiness by M. Russell Ballard

Other good book ideas:

How to Stop Worrying and Stop Living by Dale Carnegie—in this book is the concept that you plan for the worst and hope for the best. Sometimes we think, what would happen if my worst fears happened? What would I do? How would I overcome it? When I decide that I could handle it, then it is easier to HOPE FOR THE BEST.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell—in this book is the concept that you are the expert of your life. Experts can guess upon the outcomes of scenarios in the first few seconds. Because you are the expert of your life, your FIRST INSTINCT is the most accurate one. Many of us have a long history of second guessing things. We can try to give myself credit for our first impression. Tell ourselves “What was my first impression?” when we start to waffle. Perhaps we should not even give any credence to the second thought: the first impression (the babies are safe, the car is safe, the curling iron is off, the floor is clean) is right.

Choosing Clarity by Kimberly Giles—this book is really good at pointing out where we are still living a fear-based life. Some absolutely love the podcast by this author called “Relationship Radio”. Kim and her podcast partner, Nicole, speak often about behaviors that are based in fear.

Real Love in Parenting by Greg Baer—this book is so different than other parenting books that you might get scared off. Ironic, of course. Anyway, this one talks about how all conflict and behavior issues are the result of a child not feeling unconditional love but are fearful instead. It is a very expensive book (over $20). The digital copy is far cheaper.

“Happier with Gretchen Rubin”—this podcast has indeed made some happier. It is only 25ish minutes. Gretchen gives so many ideas about how to be happier. Her ideas are so easy to put in place. By listening you just want to be happier. She does this podcast with her sister Liz Craft and the sister dynamic is very appealing, with the girls giggling all the time and calling each other by their nicknames.

“Bold New Mom” podcast—A recent one talks about the differences between sensations and emotions. One of the amazing things about it is the speaker’s description of how sometimes you just need to let your emotions be there and not act on them at all. She says she can have fear wash over her now and almost laugh about it:

There are also many excellent BYU and conference talks such as the BYU talk by Lynn G. Robbins “Be 100% Responsible” and nearly every conference talk by President Gordon B. Hinckley and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  

Standing as a Witness of God at All Times and in All Places

Marty Shaeffer and Jack Winton

My mother-in-law just had a conversation with Jack Winton, one of my recently deceased father-in-law’s dearest business partners. Jack told her that every Monday morning for the last 22 years he has held an employee conference meeting. Last Monday morning he began with, “Today we have a very special guest who is very interested in seeing that we give the very best service and product to our customers and wants us to improve doing so. His name is God, and I would like to have a show of hands if you are comfortable asking for his presence in this meeting.” Jack said immediately all 18 hands went up. So he offered a brief prayer to begin their meeting. And he said he did it again at this morning’s meeting. I told him how happy that would have made Marty and he said, “I think it was Marty urging me to do it!”

Ribbon Cutting at Scudder Park Grand Opening

This past Saturday our renovated neighborhood park had a grand opening. There I became re-acquainted with a Rover Elementary mom who shared with me her love for God and efforts to have him more a part of the PTA and school for the benefit of all. I was edified by her witness. She is doing a much needed work in our community.

How can you be a witness of God today?

CLICK HERE for Clark’s latest email.
I am going to take that challenge and get back with you. I’d love to hear how you stood up for God in your life. Comment here:

Clark: Zone Conference, Exchanges and baptismal dates! ¡Oh my!

This week had fireworks attached to its roller skates. It was a disaster, it singed the hairs on its ankles, but waved as it passed.
Singed? Suinged? My english is degrading. I find myself writing “y” and “con” in my journal by accident.
This week we had zone conference! My first zone conference was hard to understand (remember, I’m in Mexico here) but I’m getting better every day. There are a handful of disobedient missionaries in our mission, so it was a lot of repentance and using the atonement. Although I don’t identify myself as disobedient (in fact my companion tells me sometimes to chillax) the atonement is always for me. And I keep thinking of these 4 words:

Don’t waste your time.

The district leaders and zone leaders in our zone went to Aguascalientes for some training, and those of us whose companions are district leaders, we had exchanges. Elders Burton (from Highland, close to Provo) and Moreno (from Vera Cruz, Mexico) and I had food, study, and taught english (but no one showed up) in our area, so I led us everywhere. It was awesome. Then we put our two beds together and had three elders sleeping sideways on two beds.

Hna Mary and her family is showing great progress! I see the light of conversion growing in their eyes. They always have questions and comments for us, which is great. After we finished the plan of salvation, we asked them to be baptized. And they accepted! Her, her son, and her mother. The spirit was palpable in that lesson. Their dates are for the end of April right now.
We haven’t visited hnas Alma and Louisa in a week or two, we are feeling that they let us in for the wrong reasons (aka they’re attracted to us)
We’re teaching the grandson of one a previous bishop of our ward. He’s 9 so he needs the teachings. It’s easy and hard at the same time to teach him, he’s shy and takes a bit to learn something, but we teach really simply. Elder Wakley is a master at this kind of stuff.

I just have to mention that WATSON IS THE CUTEST
(kay and chuck’s new puppy)

Here’s a scripture I’ve been studying a lot. I want to increase my testimony of the book of mormon in going from knowing it’s the word of God to knowing without doubt that the events therein actually happened and people experienced miracles and had dealings with their God. “Moroni 5” popped into my mind while praying about it. So I read it:

1 And now, it came to passs that when king Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them.

2. And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, becuase of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

If you read it, the Spirit will impess upon you the truth.
We are king Benjamin, and our investigators are his people. If they listen and ponder and study and pray, the Spirit will show them the truth.
Faith unto repentance, unto baptism and receiving the holy ghost.

Con abrazos,
Elder Shaeffer

Sorry, no pictures this week, I didn’t get that many crazy photos or bring my cord for it this morning…

Prayer and Me

– I know Heavenly Father hears my prayers. I have felt His love enough times, while praying, that I can picture Him REALLY caring about me. I am so grateful for Him.
– When do you pray?
– I pray When… HERE IS A VIDEO that my niece made 3 years ago that includes many of my nieces and nephews and sisters and brothers and even my grandma. See if you can find Dunc the Hunk in it. 🙂
– I prayed a lot this weekend: for direction in my teaching at the Relief Society Conference, for comfort, for inspiration while reflecting on my goals, for my kids – especially Clark on his mission and J.D. on big decisions. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father. I know He hears my prayers. HERE is a wonderful talk by Sister Wendy Nelson that has changed my life.
This is the link to the amazing talk by Joy Jones and Bonnie Cordon that I based many of my comments on during the conference this weekend. It is about parenting with purpose and intention. PRAYER is a BIG part of parenting intentionally.
– I have taken the time to transcribe some prayers from General Conference to study to them and improve my prayers. I may be over thinking it, but especially when I pray in public, I want to NOT draw attention to myself, but to NOT forget the important things. I also want my prayers to be from the heart, but again, to not draw attention to myself. Maybe thinking so much about it IS a reflection that I think the prayer is somehow about me. I don’t want that. ANYWAY, studying other public prayers has been helpful for me.

Here is one from a session of General Conference that I love(October 2016, Priesthood Session, opening prayer):

“Dear Heavenly Father, We bow our heads together as we have gathered together as thy sons to learn how to be better bothers to each other in our quorums and learn how to bless thy daughters whom we have been privileged to serve and have be a part of our families. We’re grateful to come sit at the feet of thy chosen to lead the church in this the latter-days to be taught in the doctrine of this holy order after the order of thy son and to this end we ask that Thy Spirit will be with us. That those who speak to us will be directed and inspired to the end that we can become what thou would have us become. In the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.”

I like keeping a list of things/people to pray about/for. I often refer to this, laying it on my bed as I pray. I like taking notes on the paper so that I can see the Lord’s Hand in my life.

I have also written my prayers down. My heart is full as I do this because I feel more articulate and tend to choose my words more carefully. I thought of sharing one with you, but it is a bit too personal. I’m sure you understand.

Gospel Essay on Prayer
Video on a humble woman’s example of how Prayer can change lives.

This is what we want our kids to do:

Teaching our children to pray begins with us. They should see us praying in our rooms. They should hear us praying in family prayer. We can help them form prayers during teaching moments through the day, but the most common times I taught my kids to pray was before they went to sleep and before breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Here are the steps that I taught my kids to follow from my old mission flip chart:

Praying to God daily keeps our lives focused on Him. We must have a relationship with Him and rely on the teachings and the Atonement of His Son Jesus Christ to reach our potential as Children of God. I hope you find peace and satisfaction as you teach these principles to others.

Happy Day!

– Kristin

Appendix – From the Bible Dictionary:
Before the first generation of mankind had passed away, men began to call upon the name of the Lord (Gen. 4:26; Moses 5:4). Prayers, whether with (Gen. 12:8; 13:4) or without (Gen. 20:7; 32:9–11) sacrifice, were constantly offered by the patriarchs to God. The efficacy of the intercession of good men was recognized (Gen. 18:23; 20:7; Ex. 32:11).

Prayer is nowhere specifically commanded as a duty in the law, and prayers were not prescribed at the sacrifices except on two occasions: a confession of sin on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:21) and a thanksgiving when offering the firstfruits and tithes (Deut. 26:3, 13). It is, however, certain from the nature of things, and from the custom in later times, that prayer accompanied sacrifice.

Even in the times of the Judges, the children of Israel did not forget to cry unto the Lord, and a model of prayer is furnished by Hannah (1 Sam. 2:1). Samuel was recognized by his nation to be characteristically a man of prayer (1 Sam. 7:5, 8; 12:19, 23; Ps. 99:6). David’s Psalms, and the Psalms generally, breathe the highest spirit of prayer. The nation that possessed them must have been rich in teachers and examples of prayer. Remarkable prayers were prayed by Solomon (1 Kgs. 8); Hezekiah (2 Kgs. 19:14, etc.; Isa. 38:9, etc.); Ezra (Ezra 9:5); the Levites (Neh. 9:5, etc.); and Daniel (Dan. 9:3, etc.). “Making many prayers” was a part of the corrupt religion of Israel under the later kings (Isa. 1:15) and a marked feature of the religion of the Pharisees (Matt. 6:5; 23:14).

It was the custom to pray three times a day, as did David (Ps. 55:17), Daniel (Dan. 6:10), and the later Jews. Prayer was said before meat (1 Sam. 9:13; Matt. 15:36; Acts 27:35).

The attitude of prayer ordinarily was standing (1 Sam. 1:26; Neh. 9:2, 4; Matt. 6:5; Luke 18:11, 13); also kneeling (1 Kgs. 8:54; Ezra 9:5; Dan. 6:10); or prostrate (Josh. 7:6; Neh. 8:6). The hands were spread forth to heaven (1 Kgs. 8:22; Ezra 9:5; Ps. 141:2; Isa. 1:15). Smiting on the breast and rending of the garments signified special sorrow (Ezra 9:5; Luke 18:13). The Lord’s attitude in prayer is recorded only once. In the Garden of Gethsemane He knelt (Luke 22:41), fell on His face (Matt. 26:39), and fell on the ground (Mark 14:35). It is noteworthy that Stephen (Acts 7:60), Peter (9:40), Paul (20:36; 21:5), and the Christians generally (21:5) knelt to pray.

Prayers were said at the Sanctuary (1 Sam. 1:9–12; 1 Kgs. 8; Ps. 42:2, 4) or looking toward the Sanctuary (1 Kgs. 8:44, 48; Ps. 5:7; Dan. 6:10); on the housetop or in an upper chamber (Dan. 6:10; Acts 10:9). The Pharisees prayed publicly in the synagogues and at the corners of the streets (Matt. 6:5). The Lord prayed upon the tops of mountains (Matt. 14:23; Luke 9:28) or in solitary places (Mark 1:35).

As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.

There are many passages in the New Testament that teach the duty of prayer (Matt. 7:7; 26:41; Luke 18:1; 21:36; Eph. 6:18; Philip. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thes. 5:17, 25; 1 Tim. 2:1, 8). Christians are taught to pray in Christ’s name (John 14:13–14; 15:7, 16; 16:23–24). We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ—when His words abide in us (John 15:7). We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent His mind but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart.

Book of Mormon references on prayer include 1 Ne. 18:3; Alma 34:17–28; Ether 2:14.

Parent Listening Skills

Active listening allows a parent to connect with their child. Connecting skills keep your relationship strong. You want your teens to trust that you will support their development. Active listening communicates that you REALLY care about your child.

#1 –
– Notice body language clues (such as looks of confusion, sadness or anger),
– Face the child (Turn your body toward the speaker),
– Engage in eye-contact (Do not look at the computer, your work, or phone while actively listening),
– Use good starter questions (such as “What happened at school today?”), and
– Avoid quick fixes to their problems (This shuts off the child’s talking and problem solving).
Don’t get distracted, change the subject, criticize or judge, or interrupt.

#2 –
– Use “Tell me more” phrases to keep the conversation rolling and get more details (such as “Can you explain that?”) and
– Summarize (Rephrase what they said in your own words to show you WERE listening and to make sure you understood what the teen was saying).
>Don’t get distracted, change the subject, criticize or judge, or interrupt.

#3 –
– Show that you understand their feelings (You may ask, “How did that make you feel?” and follow up with an understanding thought or phrase like, “I understand why that would have made you sad…”) The four major feelings are: Mad, Glad, Sad, and Afraid, but there are others of course.
– Encourage your teen to be his best. Show that he is important to you and that you believe in them by making them a priority and REALLY listening to them.
>Don’t get distracted, change the subject, criticize or judge, or interrupt.

What skill are you going to work on this week? I am going to work on avoiding quick fixes. I want Curt and Adam to know that I really care about them. If I am not actively listening to them, not only will they sense I don’t care, but maybe I really don’t. Woah!

Miracleeeees! Elder Shaeffer

February 19, 2018:

Yup, it’s happening. The mission is happening. Mexico is beautiful. Miracles happen all the time.

We had two big lessons this week, with Hna Alma and her friend Louisa on Friday? I would have to look at my planner. They live together with their combined 8+ kids. When Saldaña and I went on exchanges, Wakley and Durst gave them each a book of mormon. And when we met with them, Alma and Louisa said they knew it was true. Which is awesome. I know that if they will read it and pray about it, they will want to change their lives. It might have already done that. I didn’t say much during our lesson, it was mostly Wakley, he sometimes goes on a roll of straight fire. Sometimes the kids just ask me a bunch of questions, like where I’m from, how I’m so tall, and where that line on my head came from (I make some great stories) But when we each testified, the spirit hit us all so strong. And they were starting to tear up.

The other lesson was with Hna Mary. We met her by means of a miracle last week, I forgot to mention last week: We went to an electronics store to check out a few things on pday last week, and we left. Then we met up with Elders Durst and Saldaña, and Wakley said, “Aw, there’s nothing in there. Let’s go” Then I said “Why not? We have time.” Then we went in, and she walked up to us: “Do you people believe in seeing someone after they die?” Whaaaat
She recenty lost her dad, and was wanting to know where he was. She was very direct in our lesson last night: Where is he right now? Why do I hear his voice? Why are we even here, on earth? She and her mom (her dad’s wife) were both crying at different points of the lesson. And her 3 year old daughter, who started out by watching kid stuff on youtube and eating tostadas, ended by messing with my watch, showing me her nails, showing pictures in the Plan of Salvation pamphlet, and running to and from something on the other side of the hallway, laughing and talking. We later thought about it and we know that her grandpa was there with his wife, daughter, and grandkids. The spirit was so strong.

If you can’t tell, this week went by really quickly. It is really a blur sometimes, and I get lost in the work.

I don’t have a ton of time! Love you all!

Con abrazos,
Elder Shaeffer


1. There’s real cool art sometimes

2. Off to work

3. Intercambios, lunch and all that

February 12, 2018:
What happened this week again?

We were super busy this week! Lots of walking and talking and learning. Elder Wakley and I have great companion moments every day, and thankfully he takes selfies on his camera nearly everywhere we go, he’s a stud like that.
Should I just go day by day? I would get more details but it miht be more boring. AndI would want to go off on a tangent, like I always do. Let me know what you think, and remember to like and subscribe

Martes: District meeting, Elder Wakley is a great teacher. He’s been district leader for 4 transfers. I said he’s been a trainer for 4 transfers, but that’s not true, just about him being district leader. I’m his first trainee. Hna (hermana) Liliana, the best member ever, whose daughter gave me a christmas stuffed Goofy (because apparently I’m a lot like him, clumsy and funny (even though Idon’t understand most of what people say)) needed a blessing because she is feeling ill. She asked me to give the main part of the blessing! I was more nervous than any other time of my mission. I don’t remember a lot of it, but Wakley later said that a part of it sounded really fluent. So I guess that was the Gift of Tongues right there

Miércoles: We fasted today. It was sooo hard because we walked up and down all day, looking for new people. Wakley has a great perspective on what a fast is. I usually think that I ask for a blessing or help from Heavenly Father, and in return I go without food for a while, but Wakley understands it as this: We go without food. We pray and ponder, and in our weakest moments, we reach out to God. and that’s pretty awesome, we prayed for the opportunity to find a new investigator that needs our message. And we did! José Manuel is a super nice guy. We contacted him on the street. He basically just gave his life story, and wants to find out more. That’s often how first meetings go here, just us listening, applying it to a principle, and finding a time to come back. We haven’t met with him again yet, but we will this week.
We also had another lesson with hna Alma, remember her? We’re trying to get her to come to church. It’s weird because she has 4 kids that are all cute but crazy, and she feels like she needs permission from her husband. Kinda dinky, but if we get to bear our testimonies and let the spirit flood in, it will help people to know that we are servants of the Lord.

Jueves: Weekly planning. Wakley is a master of conversation, and always has something to say. He always finds good and room for improvement in everyone equally, even himself. We also had exchanges with Elders Durst and Saldaña, and Durst and I met this reference hna. Durst (in the same generation as Wakley) did the intro and all that, and she said that she’s working all the time. A common reply. Right before Durst said “ok, thanks, have a good day” – I chimed in. “Do you want to find more joy in your life? Life is really hard. Sometimes it’s hard to be happy. I know that our message is a message of joy. And we want to share that with you.” Or something along those lines.
She let us in and we had a good lesson, and now Durst and Saldaña have a much needed new investigator.

Viernes: Service for a member in our zone, who needed help moving. And we made jello for our service on..

Sábado: The big thing was that we went to a Mexican old folks home. I couldn’t understand basically anything anyone said – imagine not really knowing a language, then talking to an extent of those people who don’t have teeth. Yeah. But I kinda love old people, so it was still really really fun. We sang hymns to them.

Domingo! The El Orito ward has 200 plus members, but the average attendance is 45. It’s tough sometimes. The less active number is a scary subject, and there’s a lot to be done there. I passed the sacrament. We had ward council, and there’s a lot to do. One day at a time.
I’m practicing piano to learn more hymns to play in Sacrament meeting. Right now the music director goes up, sings the first line, and says “like that.” And then we sing. Our bishop doesn’t know yet, shhhh
And Wakley wants to learn to sing better and actually play the piano. My practicing went out the window when I taught him the musical alphabet and hot cross buns and chopsticks.
Also made some mac and cheese with Elders Durst and Saldaña.

Today: We toured an old mine. Lots of cool pictures on Wakley’s camera, because mine died. I got a couple of nice souveniers! Not all of them are for me ( o _ o )

I’m sorry I don’t have my camera with me right now, you’ll get a whole bunch of photos. next week. Btw you can’t say “A whole bunch” in Spanish, just “mucho mucho.” pfft

Happy Valentines day this week, love you all. Family is the most important important thing in existence.

¡Con Abrazos!

Elder Shaeffer

Will We See Our Beloved Pet in Heaven After We Die?

Kay and Sally

Will we see our pets in Heaven after we die? My kids have this question and many others have wondered the same thing.

Sally, our sweet and loyal sheep dog black labrador mix passed away on Friday. Even though we have anticipated that day for a while, it was still so sad. I will be the first to say that kids are better than dogs. I believe that to join God in creating life and then raising that child to be a responsible, God fearing individual is the most satisfying work anyone can accomplish. Pets are dear. They enrich our lives and even save lives. Sally did both of these for us. Though she is not as important to me as my children, she WAS important and we miss her very much.

Where DO dogs go after they die? According to
“Yes, animals have spirits (see D&C 77:2–3). Of course, there is a major difference between animals’ spirits and our spirits—we are begotten sons and daughters of Heavenly Father, and they are not.

“And according to the Prophet Joseph Smith, there are at least some animals in heaven. He said:

“’John saw curious looking beasts in heaven; … actually there, giving glory to God. … (See Rev. 5:13.) …

“’I suppose John saw beings there of a thousand forms, that had been saved from ten thousand times ten thousand earths like this,—strange beasts of which we have no conception: all might be seen in heaven. John learned that God glorified Himself by saving all that His hands had made, whether beasts, fowls, fishes or men; and He will glorify Himself with them” (in History of the Church, 5:343).

“So, although we don’t have a complete understanding of what happens to animals after they die, we believe that they will enjoy some kind of salvation and immortality.”

Curt and Sally

One morning after walking Adam to elementary school Sally on the leash and Curt in the stroller, a vicious dog with a broken rope around his neck ran toward us. Alarmed, but thinking quickly, I positioned Sally between the crazy dog and the stroller. Sally FOUGHT that dog growling and biting until the apologetic owner caught up and called the dog off. What a nightmare! That is one time Sally saved us – amongst others. She has warned us of rattlesnakes while camping, guarded our home, and more.

Why aren’t we sealed for eternity to our dogs? Remember that dogs aren’t people. They don’t have to be baptized nor need temple work. Yes, we get very attached to them, they even feel apart of the family, but they aren’t as important as kids. So, what is their place in The Plan of Salvation? explains:

Where do animals fit in the eternal plan of things?
“Gerald E. Jones, director, Institute of Religion, Berkeley, California “Nature helps us to see and understand God. To all His creations we owe an allegiance of service and a profound admiration.” Thus the General Superintendency of the Deseret Sunday School Union, President Joseph F. Smith, President of the Church, and Elders David O. McKay and Stephen L Richards, members of the Council of the Twelve, editorialized in the April 1918 Juvenile Instructor. Recognizing that the “love of nature is akin to the love of God” they reminded the members of the Church that “men learn more easily in sympathetic relationships of all life than they do in the seclusion of human interest.” (P. 183.) Many families recognize the importance of pets and the resultant loving and sharing among their children. Caring for pets can also develop a sense of responsibility.

“Devotion of animals to families can be inspiring as well as practical. A recent news item related the bravery of a dog in saving the life of a small girl by breaking the window of a burning automobile and pulling her to safety.

“A number of questions have been asked concerning the place of animals in the gospel plan:

“Do animals have spirits and are they resurrected? Yes. The Prophet Joseph Smith received information concerning the eternal status of animals. Answers to questions he posed are in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 77. He also spoke about the resurrection of animals in a sermon but did not expand on the subject. (History of the Church, 5:343.)

“To what degree of glory do animals go? The scriptures speak only of animals being in the celestial kingdom. Whether they go to other kingdoms is a matter of conjecture. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith on one occasion said the distribution of animals into all three degrees of glory is “very probable,” (Improvement Era, Jan. 1958, pp. 16–17.) To my knowledge, no other prophet has published an opinion on the subject.

“Are animals judged and resurrected according to their obedience to laws? According to Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, animals do not have a conscience. They cannot sin and they cannot repent, for they have not the knowledge of right and wrong. (Man: His Origin and Destiny, Deseret Book Co., 1954, pp. 204–5.)

“Can animals be with their owners in the hereafter? There is no revealed word on this subject. Reason would tell us that a rancher or farmer may not want all of the cattle he has owned during his life. On the other hand, emotional ties may be honored and family pets may well be restored to their owners in the resurrection. Elder Orson F. Whitney wrote that Joseph Smith expected to have his favorite horse in eternity. (Improvement Era, Aug. 1927, p. 855.)

“Just what is the relationship between men and animals? Men are children of God. Animals are for the benefit of man. This does not mean, however, that man is not to have a concern for this part of his stewardship. The prophets in all ages have indicated that man will be accountable for his treatment of animals and that justice and mercy should be exercised concerning them. Alma encourages us to pray over our flocks. (Alma 34:20, 25.) There are numerous examples in Church history of animals being administered to by the anointing of oil and their resultant healing. In the best-known incident, Mary Fielding Smith’s oxen were spared to bring her pioneer family, including a future President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith, to Utah. (Preston Nibley, Presidents of the Church, Deseret Book Co., 1959, pp. 234–35.)

“Though the prophets have spoken frequently about man’s responsibility to show proper treatment to animals in this world, very little detail is known about the states of animals in the eternities. Greater emphasis is rightly placed upon man’s need to live the gospel and be worthy to return to his Heavenly Father where he will then learn the answers to such questions. Quoting again from the editorial cited at the beginning of this article: “Men cannot worship the Creator and look with careless indifference upon his creations. The love of all life helps man to the enjoyment of a better life. It exalts the spiritual nature of those in need of divine favor.” (Juvenile Instructor, Apr. 1918, p. 182.)”

I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for helping us find a loyal loving dog for our family. She was the hiking/running companion, the entertainment, and the listening ear that we each often needed over the last 15 years. We love you Sally!

Duncan and Sally

Men and women, boys and girls are children of God. Animals are for the benefit of man.

Why did you decide to get a dog for your kids? I wasn’t raised with a dog, but Duncan was, and loved it. I knew we would get one someday. One day I was kneeling, asking God what I could do for J.D., who was about 4 at the time. I got the out-of-the-blue impression “Get a dog.” This helped warm me up to the idea. At the time we were living in a rental house, so after we moved to our own house we got a dog. 🙂 I have wondered if the dog was really more for J.D., sr, though. Duncan LOVED Sally!

How did you decide which dog to adopt? We asked our very experienced animal loving neighbor Nancy to go to the Animal shelter with us. She watched the kids play with 3 dogs and told us the best one for us. INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, we hadn’t talked ahead of time about what kind or color of dog we wanted, but all three dogs we chose to play with were black and black lab mixes.

How did you decide on Sally’s name? Duncan’s favorite dog growing up was Lucy, a german shepherd. We decided to stick with the “Peanuts” theme.

How did you train Sally? Our good friends, the Kubys, lent me a book on training a puppy. I read the whole thing before we put dog food under the Christmas tree. It helped me very much. I knew that as a mom modeling proper behavior around a dog and showing love to a dog was my responsibility, so I overcame my inexperience and fear and faked it until I made it. I enthusiastically petted, talked to, walked, spent time with, kissed and taught Sally with and in front of the kids and they picked up on it very quickly. Sally learned to catch a ball in the air, sit, not chew in the house, to sleep in a crate, and to signal when she needed out.

How did Sally die? She was, according to the vets, one year old when we adopted her. She was 16 when she died. She definitely lived a full life of playing, guarding, camping, hiking, and exploring. She had cataracts, arthritis (super hard to get up and down and walk in her last 2 months), a heart murmur, cancer, and deafness. The two weeks she was incontinent, in pain (tail between legs), falling (back legs would give out on her), and actually bleeding, so we knew it was time. We were super impressed with the tenderness that our vet showed when we would call to ask questions near the end and at the time of her euthanasia. Sally’s passing was very peaceful.

What do you miss about Sally? The house is so quiet. I went walking this morning without her. Weird. We miss her greeting us when we come home. Kay will miss her the most. She and Sally were strict confidants and close close friends.

Why aren’t you going to replace Sally? We are ready to leave town and not worry about getting a sitter for her. Things will be more simple now. No more poop-scooping :). Our emphasis has always been on the kids, which is the source of our lasting joy (along with our relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ). Our children continue to be the best hiking, camping, traveling companions and friends. We are so blessed and so very grateful!

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