Faith Because of a Baby

Sometimes God allows us to go through similar experiences and feelings over and over again in our lives, to learn, grow, and develop more faith in Him.

Five years ago today almost to the month, Travis was applying to accounting PhD programs. The preliminary interviews turned into fly-outs and before we knew it he was flying around the country interviewing—it was a scary, unknown time. Within this same time frame, I was pregnant—eight months pregnant—and before we knew it I was on the labor and delivery floor of the hospital giving birth to our stillborn baby—and that was scary.

Jesus on Your Playlist: Mainstream Songs That Remind of Christ

During the holiday season, symbols of Christ surround us.  Christmas decorations, traditions, and music on the radio all point to the Savior.  The spirit of the season sometimes seems to fade once January rolls around, and the music is switched off, but types, shadows, and symbols of Christ surround us beyond December 25th. 

Gentle Grace

As I sit here, Bible in hand,
reading about the birth of Christ,
I see in my mind’s eye, Mary,
and the tenderness in her eyes.

The Babe upon her shoulder,
her own face turned t’ward His.
A hallowed moment as her lips
just brush Him with a kiss.

Gratitude—More than We Think

"Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done."

Gratitude is powerful. It has the power to shift our thinking and attitudes. I’ve always loved the saying: “I used to complain about my shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” There will always be people worse off than you. Focusing on what we do have however, the good within our circumstances, can have powerful outcomes.

Doubt, Perspective, Belief

Yesterday I had the kind of day where stress coiled my right shoulder and neck into a tight, angry thing. I couldn’t sleep well. I was tired and burdened. It was just a lot to internalize. I’m not being specific, but it was the kind of day that makes me say, “Oh hey, world. I really love you, but wow, you aren’t the easiest thing to navigate, are you?”

How to Suffer Successfully

I have recently been introduced to the world of podcasts and, wow, what a world! One show that I have enjoyed is called The Art of Manliness. Topics range from relationship research, fitness and financial tips, and leadership techniques, to the meaning of beards. So, man or woman, clean-shaven or scruffy-faced, there is really something for everyone. Episode #345 focused on Ed Latimore, an author who has recently found success with the telling of his life’s trials and how they have helped him become successful. One of the highlighted steps to success was knowing how to suffer.

New Ward; Same House

When our young family moved from Texas to Southern Florida for Grad School several years ago, we did not have much time to scout out a place to live.  In fact, my husband spent one weekend—alone—securing a condo we could afford in a safe area.  The neighborhood was great, but our ward had a few challenges. 

Living the Gospel with Grit and Real Intent

What if your prayers aren’t answered? Or the thing you are praying for doesn’t come to pass.

It’s Better to Look Up

The news has been overwhelmingly full of terrible things lately. It just seems to never stop, and no one is immune from hard times.

I remember almost five years ago, sitting in the Provo Temple waiting to go into the endowment session. There I was sitting next to my husband and no one else in the entire room knew I had delivered a 5 lb, 8 oz baby girl just about two weeks before and that we buried her one week before then. I thought about the person sitting next to me on my other side, and the people in front and behind me. What were they going through? It reminded me of the quote: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." And while we don't always see or know of the battles those around us face, everyone faces hard times.

When I Felt Like the Worst Mom Ever--God Disagreed

My youngest child has a shoe problem.

Lest anyone should suppose this problem involves over-shining, let me explain. This boy’s shoe setback is that he cannot keep shoes around long enough to wear them out. I have provided a convenient shoe basket, 17 inches from the door, but this has not solved the problem. Not counting hand-me-downs, this one child has required more shoes than the other two, combined. Countless minutes are wasted each week looking for lost companions to flip-flops, just so we can make it to appointments on time.

Confessions of an Apathetic Conference Viewer

If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or are closely associated with someone who is, you are probably aware of General Conference.

General Conference is a biannual gathering of members of the LDS faith to listen to talks and teachings of the Lord’s called and appointed prophets, apostles, and other leaders of the church. It is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah and transmitted all over the world in many languages. It is part of the basic belief of the church that God lives and that He continues to communicate with us and provide revelation for us in these latter-days. Just last weekend was the fall conference.

A Fix for Fear


It comes to all of us in many different forms for a million different reasons.

In The Book of Mormon, in Mosiah chapter 23, Alma and his people were prospering in the land of Helam when a Lamanite army made their appearance. We all have our own armies appear daily in the forms of fear, anxiety, stress etc. Whether it’s fear of an unknown future or a natural disaster, something currently happening that’s anxiety inducing or stressful, or just feeling scared from a circumstance we can't control—perhaps that my toddler won’t make it in time to go to the bathroom in a public place—the armies always come.

Together Forever: A Story of Learning, Loss, Leaving, and Love

This is from a dear friend of Melodee's who wishes to remain anonymous, but wanted to share her conversion story, her wrestle with God, and how she made her way back.

Technically, I was raised as a Lutheran, but my parents taught me opposing doctrines of their own ideas about “God.” One parent believed that “God” was a word meaning “pure love energy” with zero control in the universe; The other taught about a spiteful, angry being in the sky who demanded we worship him and call him “father.” This teaching was confusing, and I grew up never thinking of God as one I would want to turn to for answers or comfort, let alone one who would bestow blessings.

One Choice

I was living the perfect life. I was a 12 year-old kid in 6th grade with a lot of friends and a good life at home. I was also very active in sports. It was coming to the end of the school year in May and I was on a baseball team with some of my classmates at school. Let's say that the baseball team was called the “Tigers”. I loved playing on that team. I was pretty good at baseball and my team was good, although I wouldn’t play on Sundays because it is against what I believe and my religion so I chose not to attend my baseball games and practices on Sundays. My coach was not very fond of me missing out on those events, but I still continued to miss them throughout the baseball season. I was fine missing out and it didn’t impact me very much the rest of the season. The season ended in August and come November my plan was to tryout for the Tigers again until I received an email from my coach.

5 Things That Should Be On Every School Supply List

Since starting kindergarten in ’99 I have always been a very eager and dedicated student. When I was in grade school I loved to go school supply shopping and organize everything neatly in my back pack before Meet the Teacher Night. I always laid out my First Day outfit and packed my lunch the night before the big event. Though my enthusiasm never changed, my preparation process had to as I grew older. College required a bit more than just buying some supplies and making sack lunches, but I certainly rose to the occasion. Classes had to be scheduled around work, tuition had to be paid and degree plans had to be followed. After registration I would print all of my syllabi, read through and highlight the important parts and color-code my planner with significant due dates and deadlines. Then I would conduct a campus walk through to make sure I had enough time to traverse the courtyards between classes. I have been called a nerd, but I really loved it every minute of it.

Find the Joy

It was 5am and my two year old started crying. She had a fever and was miserable and we went on to have quite a long day. By 3pm I was ready to crash. But my little people needed me, and my two year old would pull open my eyelids anytime I tried to shut them for a little catnap. I was exhausted. And then I remembered something from a couple weeks before.

Gene R. Cook of the seventy gave a BYU Devotional called “Seek Eternal Happiness.” In it he quotes a first presidency letter that was sent out in which was written: “there is great joy and rejoicing in your posterity, giving one of the great purposes of life.”

I was pondering this in the temple and I realized I needed to find the joy—always.

We will find what we’re looking for in life.

My Missionary Miracle

Every year, thousands of young Latter-day Saint missionaries open the envelope containing their mission call and feel a mixture of surprise and excitement. It is a feeling only those of us who have opened one of those envelopes can understand; it is an experience we never forget.

My mission call was especially surprising.

Dear Elder Ocampo:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Belgium/Netherlands Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 24 months.

I grew up as part of a Hispanic family in Texas, so I guess I had imagined myself being called to serve somewhere in Central or South America. I had not expected an assignment to serve in Europe. But the real surprise came later in the letter.

You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language.

Learning to Love Your Enemy — When Your Enemy is a 5th Grader

The most frightening moment in my teaching career occurred when a 13-year-old 5th grader threw his desk at me.

Normally my classroom was as far from chaotic as one could be, as I held classroom management at the highest level of importance, as essential as teaching math. Flying furniture threatened to overthrow order.

Top Talks from Elder D. Todd Christofferson

For almost 10 years Elder D. Todd Christofferson has served as an Apostle of the Lord in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. During that time he has spoken at each General Conference and given some great talks on sensitive and hard topics. But, he always seems to testify with a calm surety that encourages every listener to want to be a little better. Some of these top talks come from before Elder Christofferson was called to the Twelve, but they are great nonetheless.

Do you agree with this list? Comment below and let me know.

My Body Won't Let Me Fast: 5 Ways I Do My Best, Anyway

My doctors won’t let me fast.

Rather, the dozen or so medications they have prescribed to help battle terminal cancer, many that must be taken with food, make it nearly impossible to go without even one meal a day.  This is yet another one of cancer’s effects on my daily life, which has forced my family and I to develop our “new church normal.”

Even though I am not physically able to actually go without food and participate in a “proper fast,” I have learned there are several actions I can take to be in the proper spirit of fasting and prayer, even when my physical body prevents me from following a fast to the letter of the law.

The Book of Mormon: What Is Uniquely Ours?

President Thomas S. Monson’s powerful witness of the Book of Mormon in April 2017 general conference and his invitation to each of us to “prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day” have helped bring a renewed focus on and appreciation for the Book of Mormon into my life this month. President Monson’s message has also helped me recall some of the building blocks of my own testimony of the Book of Mormon.

Is Easter Pointless?

I love the first couple of weeks after any major holiday, Easter is no exception. As my ever so thrifty mother and grandmother have taught me, the best deals for next year’s holidays happen just after this year’s. I have observed time and time again that upon entering any major retailer for the first couple of weeks after a holiday there will be found many discounted eggs, decorations and cheap chocolate. The deals are unbeatable and who doesn’t like to stock up?

I recently went to the store for exactly this reason. As I perused the aisles I observed that, though there were bunnies and chicks and eggs, there weren’t near as many decorations or themes as there are for other holidays. This brought to mind a conversation that I recently overheard exploring the apparent lack of purpose for Easter and asking why we even celebrated such a boring holiday. A boring holiday… I have to admit that at times the reason for the season can be forgotten behind the egg hunts and dresses and baskets. But Easter is the farthest from “boring” or “pointless” that it could be.

I Like General Conference Better After It’s Over

I’m one of those church members who often feels guilty about the fact that I don’t like General Conference.  Don’t get me wrong.  I sustain our church leaders, love the messages that come from their talks, and enjoy the spiritual renewal from personal revelation and answers to prayers that often accompanies General Conference.  However, these things usually happen for me the week after conference is over and into the following months, once the text and videos are released online and in printed form.

#LDSconf Wallpapers For Your Phone

Every six months LDS Conference helps build our faith and strengthens our resolve to do better and be more Christlike. We took six of our favorite quotes from this past weekend and created wallpapers that can be saved to your phone and then set as your lock screen or background. This is a fun and easy way to remain focused your goals for the next six months.

General Conference Provided an Answer I Didn't Know I Needed

The circumstances leading up to general conference last spring were no different for me than the session six months prior to that, except that I found myself in a new leadership position in my ward. As I prepared to participate in conference, there were a couple of specific questions surrounding my new calling that led me to seek answers from the Lord during that special time of instruction, which, as has been promised by our leaders, were revealed to me by the time conference was over.

How Pizza Strengthened My Testimony

I have often found myself repeating this phrase, “It has come to pass; it has not come to stay.” I use it to channel and concentrate my efforts to maintain a positive perspective during the trying times of my life. My own experiences include trials such as group projects, illnesses and being the “new kid” at school or work; though the concept could apply to any kind of difficulty. These last few weeks I have pondered how this concept of endurance has made an impact on my state of mind and in my life. I wondered what the most impactful experience that I had while channeling this idea was.

Some of you may be empathetic, but I imagine that most will be surprised by the answer: wedding planning.

Quarterbacking Through the Ups and Downs of Life -- Texas A&M Quarterback Trevor Knight

The LDS youth in College Station, Texas had a recent fireside where the speakers weren’t members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but were Christian athletes from Texas A&M University. This is part two of three in a series highlighting the events and stories told from that evening.

Former Texas A&M quarterback, Trevor Knight, doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t love sports. From an early age, he could be found with a ball in his hand and dressed like the athletes he watched on TV. Not only did he love playing sports; he was good at them, too. Really good.

“Me and my twin were bigger kids growing up, and we would have to bring our birth certificates to T-ball games to prove our age,” Knight said. “Some parents would get a little upset because I would hit an inside the park home run, then my brother, who is a little bit bigger than me, would hit it over the fence every at bat."

Knight didn’t only see success on the T-ball diamond, but in other sports as well—especially football. As a sophomore in high school, Knight was named starting varsity quarterback, a big deal in Texas where high school football is revered.

What Makes a House a Home?

Merriam-Webster assigns this definition to the word ‘word’: “A speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning.” As a communicator and a lover of linguistics, that fascinates me. It is intriguing how a “speech sound” can be powerful enough to evoke in us emotion, move us to action, and prompt us to reminisce or even ponder future possibilities. It is equally intriguing how words are defined one way in a particular area, culture, or generation and can completely change in another. Some words even have essentially the same meaning, according to the dictionary, but a completely different essence in society.

New Year, New Me: See Myself the Way Christ Sees Me

The new year brings with it that tradition of making resolutions. These goals seem to regularly focus on changing what we don’t like about ourselves, often such lofty changes that are so far beyond our reach that we abandon them by the 5th week of the year. I love this time of year, and have learned through experience that it’s best to use resolutions as a way of making goals that I know I can achieve.

I haven’t quite made an official list of specific goals for the year, but the thought of how I can become better has been on my mind. I have come up with a theme for my year, and that is to not be so hard on myself and others.

How An Olympian Learned To Trust In The Lord

The LDS youth in College Station, Texas had a recent fireside where the speakers weren’t members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but were Christian athletes from Texas A&M University. This is part one of three in a series highlighting the events and stories told from that evening.

Stephanie Malherbe is an accounting major at Texas A&M University and a midfielder on the Aggie women’s soccer team. Never before did she imagine the title of “Olympic athlete” would follow her name.

“The Olympics were never in my plans,” Malherbe said. “I was very content playing soccer at A&M and enjoying my time. It wasn't something I had aspirations to do, and it wasn't something that I really thought about.”