Wednesday, March 14, 2018


October of 2000 found our young family preparing for a life-changing move.  We packed all we had into a 24-foot Ryder Truck, complete with car trailer; and my husband, 6-month old daughter, and I made the 4-day journey from Provo, Utah to Manassas, Virginia.  It was our first job out of school and we were excited for the adventure.

After we arrived and got settled, we sat down together to devise a new budget and determine how to pay off our debt.  We had credit card debt from our move, a car payment, and student loans.  Even before we were married, we had determined that debt was not something we wanted to live with.  We had read One for the Money before, but this seemed like a good time for a review.  The debt-elimination calendar seemed so simple!  It jumped out at us, a so we put into reality.   Paying off the first item felt like it took forever, but once we made financial decisions to really get rid of this debt, we were able to pay it off faster than we anticipated.  Years later I heard about Dave Ramsey and his "snowball effect" with paying off debt.  I was sure he had read Elder Ashton's pamphlet!  This one decision to use the debt-elimination calculator has been one of the best decisions of my life...seriously!

I challenge you to take time this week to read section 3 of One for the money and study the debt elimination calculator.  Think about how to reduce your level of debt and how to meet your financial goals.  Remember to talk it over with your husband and the rest of the family so everyone knows how to help (and not to hurt) this endeavor.

Being out of debt propagates freedom.  J. Reuben Clark has been oft quoted, “Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours; it never has short crops nor droughts; it never pays taxes; it buys no food; it wears no clothes; it is unhoused and without home and so has no repairs, no replacements, no shingling, plumbing, painting, or whitewashing; it has neither wife, children, father, mother, nor kinfolk to watch over and care for; it has no expense of living; it has neither weddings nor births nor deaths; it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.” (in Conference Report, Apr., 1938, p. 103.)

Over the course of paying off our debts, I heard a few bits of wisdom that we put into practice:  (1) use a bonus, raise, tax return, or other un-budgeted-for financial addition to help pay off your debt.  Use half to pay down the debt and put the other half back into the budget to help the family.  Doing this small thing really helped to propel us out of debt.  We even used this advice to pay down our mortgage.  (2) Reward yourself!  When you have paid off  one of your debts, plan to purchase something fun.  When we paid off our car, we bought our first DVD player.  It helped me to look forward to wiping out that debt.  It also taught me self-control to wait for an anticipated item instead of making an impulse purchase.

Resolve today to lesson debt and to prevent from entering into it.  I end with wise words from  President Heber J. Grant "If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means, and if there is any one thing that is grinding, and discouraging and disheartening it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet"(Relief Society Magazine, May 1932, p. 302).” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1979, p. 56; or Ensign, May 1979, p. 39.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


I am a homeschool mom.  Most days it is pretty great.  The best thing about it (other then spending time with my kids) is that I get to learn amazing things.  While homeschooling, I have finally understood functions (remember Calculus?), learned the story behind each of the soldiers in the famous Iwo Jima statue, discovered the reason why the reaction of Diet Coke and Mentos makes a fountain, and so much more.  Often I think about concepts and principles differently than when I originally learned them, and sometimes there is a profound "ah-ha" moment that spills over into everyday life.

This last week, I had one of those "ah-ha" moments.  We are studying Rome...and this week specifically the fall of Rome.  My curriculum points out 4 "red flags" that were major contributors to Rome's downfall (now, I know there are others, but we are focusing on these four).
1.  Many people were poor.
2.  Entertainment was increasingly violent.
3.  The family was weakened and was no longer the basis of society.
4.  The people were no longer self-reliant.

If the purpose of History is to learn it so we do not have to repeat it, this list is pretty sobering.  Each of these points could be talked about in depth, but #4 stood out to me.

What is it about self-reliance that contributed to the fall of Rome?  It's really philosophically simple:  Without self-reliance, we loose our freedom.  Plain as that.  We will be conquered and subject to another's rule without being prepared.

Doctrine and Covenants 78:14 reveals the need for a church storehouse, and the reason is "...that the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world."  If the Lord wants His church to be independent, he obviously wants the same independence for its members.  Elder Marion G. Romney (former counselor in the First Presidency) simply stated that "self-reliance is a prerequisite to the complete freedom to act."

So if “Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church[2010], 6.1.1), what area do you need to work on?

I challenge you to find an area of your life where you can become more self-reliant.  (Refer here if you need a refresher on some of the categories).  Then, do something about it.  Your freedom depends on it.

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Early in our marriage, we tried hard to follow the words of good advice that came to us.  We especially listened to the advice coming from our church leaders.  The statements:  "Get a year's supply of food," "Pay a generous fast offering," "Get an education," "Build a financial reserve," and "Get out of debt" all seemed to contradict each other.  Yes, they were all great things to do, but doing them all at once we felt like was impossible.  We soon learned that it was, in fact, impossible to do it all at once.  But, by doing each a little bit at a time created great results!

President Hinckley asked us to do a little at a time in the November 2002 Priesthood session:
"I wish to urge again the importance of self-reliance on the part of every individual Church member and family.  None of us knows when a catastrophe might strike. Sickness, injury, unemployment may affect any of us.  We have a great welfare program with facilities for such things as grain storage in various areas. It is important that we do this. But the best place to have some food set aside is within our homes, together with a little money in savings. The best welfare program is our own welfare program. Five or six cans of wheat in the home are better than a bushel in the welfare granary.  We can begin ever so modestly. We can begin with a one week’s food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months. I am speaking now of food to cover basic needs. As all of you recognize, this counsel is not new. But I fear that so many feel that a long-term food supply is so far beyond their reach that they make no effort at all. Begin in a small way, and gradually build toward a reasonable objective. Save a little money regularly, and you will be surprised how it accumulates."
Over the last several years, we have planned, talked, and budgeted every month to follow the seemingly contradictory words of advice. Some months we did more in one area and other months did more in another.  It is a constant effort to stay on top of these.

At the beginning of January, I challenged you to set aside a little bit of money each month for Food Storage.  I hope you did! Now after we have planned (month 1) and organized (month 2), it is time to take action!

March's Goal:  Purchase

Take your master shopping list hard copy and keep it in your wallet.  When you are at the grocery store, look for sales on the items you need and start buying them.  You should have 3 months of "food storage money" saved up, but be careful not to go beyond your means--or your budget!  Buy what you can afford.  If you can buy everything on your list, great!  If not, save some for next month, or maybe the month after that.  

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


My Great-Grandma was an amazing gardner.  She was the one that started her seeds in the house so she could wait until whether was good enough to plant them outside.  I think her garden was an entire acre.  People would come from all over just to buy her produce.  I remember visiting her and she would always have a plant here or there (she even grew a banana tree in her living room) and I remember the amazing tomatoes, potatoes, and everything else that she grew in her garden.

Well, if having a green thumb is genetic, I don't think I got it.  I have a single indoor houseplant that I think is still alive by its sheer will.  My husband got the "love to grow things" gene, and over the years, I am just trying to catch up.

Monday morning we had a "Family Home Morning."  By unusual circumstances, my husband was home during the day (and had to work until late).  Planting the garden has been on my list for months.  But, we decided this was the week.  So, all 10 of us planted the garden...finally!  I am so glad we did.

Gardening in San Diego is pretty easy.  You could start seeds inside and transfer them when the weather is warmer, but there really is no need.  We just stick our seeds in the ground, give them water and wait.  We have had pretty amazing results.

February is an AWESOME month to plant around here.  According to Mr. Ledgerwood, right now is the best time to plant Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Chives, Kale, Kohl Rabi, Lettuce, custard, Onions, Peas, Parsley, Parsnip, Radish, Potatoes, Rutabaga, Swiss chard, Spinach, Turnip, Collards, Morrow, Squashes.

I saved a spot in my garden for peppers and melons...those roll around in a few months!

I challenge you to plant something before the end of the month.  Whether it be an inside container or an outside pot.   Seeds are available at Home Depot, Lowes, or Amazon.  Pick something edible and let it grow!


Charles B. Ledgerwood moved to Carlsbad in 1933.  He bought a little piece of land on Carlsbad Blvd. (then just a main road between san Diego and Los Angeles), close to the ocean, and built a home with a store front before the City of Carlsbad ever existed.  For over 50 years, he sold seeds in his store.  He also farmed and researched to cultivate the best seeds possible.  Gardeners and farmers came from all over Southern California to buy his seeds.  He was a wealth of garden knowledge and knew everything there was to know about seeds.  He created the Southern California Planting Calendar, noting which garden seeds were best to plant in which months.  Planting seeds at optimal times increases the chances of a successful harvest especially for novice gardeners. His story is remarkable.
I was lucky enough to receive a list, based on his planting calendar, giving the best seeds to plant every month.  September is a bit of an off-month, listing only a few items, but the next few months have huge varieties!
If you are not ready to plant, I challenge you to prepare a spot.  Whether it is a corner of your yard, or a big pot on your back porch, get ready, The San Diego winter garden season is about to begin!
If you are ready to plant, the best September seeds are:  Carrots, Celery, and Winter Zucchini.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Finances...this word is typically not a favorite.  Yet this whole "money thing" is so important in our mortal lives.  Without being financially prepared, we cannot be truly self-reliant.

While preparing for Law School, I got a job doing credit and collections for a small business.  I was the one who made the phone calls no one wants to get, I sent the nasty letters, I repossessed property, and I took people to small claims court for judgments and wage garnishments.  The percentage of the company's accounts that came to me was small, but there were enough to keep me busy full time.  I sadly watched how a $12 a month flute payment racked up to hundreds of dollars in unpaid rent, late fees, and court fees.  I quickly saw the difference  between those who could not pay, and those who would not pay.  I worked with families as they tried to pay off the debt before court action took place, and I was hard-nosed with those who were belligerent and angry with me because of their debt.  As I was training, I was told that this job would change me and help me budget and plan financially for the rest of my life...that was so true.  Watching the destruction of individuals and families over poor financial choices was heart-wrenching and devastating.

Like so much, control over our finances is a choice we make.  Before we got married, my bishop gave us a little pamphlet that has directed our family's financial state for the better!  Based on the 1975 General Conference talk by Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve, One for the Money is worth much more than its weight in gold!

I challenge you to read this small pamphlet.  Read it first on your own, then read it with your spouse.  If appropriate, read it in family home evening, or with individual children.  Talk and discuss how these principles can be followed better.  I love how Elder Ashton put it, "Whether we are anticipating marriage, or well into it, today is the time for all of us to review and repent if necessary to improve our money management skills and live within our means."

Take this next bit to specifically review and ponder Elder Ashton's first two points.  (1) Pay an honest tithing.  Keeping our commitment to the Lord will help us keep our commitments to our budget, and our spouse.  (2) Learn to Manage Money before it manages you.  I love this idea of forming new attitudes and relationships about money.  One of these attitudes I am developing to view money as my servant, not my master.

Please ponder and pray about these points and discover how Heavenly Father can help you command your financial state.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


We just got back from a 2-week road trip.  We visited Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado.  We had a great time visiting family and seeing the beauties of different parts of the country.

I can tell you though, 8 kids, 2 parents, and many hours of driving was not always easy, or exactly fun.  We did learn some things though:  the baby loves Winnie the Pooh, after eating citrus from our backyard Wal-Mart oranges taste terrible, Disney's Robin Hood has some great one-liners, Texas can get really cold in January, gas is super cheap outside of California, and we remember that it is so fun to visit and reconnect with family and friends.

Another really neat thing, is that everywhere we visited, there was a temple.  The first one we visited was in San Antonio, TX.  No matter how much complaining happened while we were trying to get there, once we got out everyone had a renewed spirit and was just happier!  I love the awe of the 3-year old when she discovers Angel Moroni and the quiet reflection of the 11-year old as he ponders his sacred feelings.  It was truly amazing to see how much we all quietly enjoyed being at the temple.  The peace and love we felt was incredible.

While visiting Dallas, we were busily going from one family member to the next and we forgot about the temple.  As we headed back to Jeff's brothers (later than expected) a little voice asked, "Were we going to the temple today?"  We tried to explain that we ran out of time and that we just were not going to make it.  All our reasons sounded hollow...we should not have forgotten.

A few days later we eagerly mapped the Oklahoma City temple, determined not to miss another one.  As the GPS chimed "You have arrived, " Jeff turned into a church parking lot and said, "I think you mapped the wrong address, I don't see a temple."  We stopped to change a diaper and let everyone out for a minute.  We soon realized that we were at the right spot...the temple was being rebuilt and in its current state, it did not look like a temple at all!  It was just a big construction site.  The feeling was weird, we were there, but the temple we expected wasn't.

Fast forward a few days and we were in Denver, Colorado.  The Denver temple was our temple for almost 7 years, so we knew just where it was.  It was too cold to get out, but the feeling we had as we drove up to it was unmistakeable.  That same feeling of love and peace reached out to us.

These amazing temples are here for us and for our families.  Are we taking advantage of them?  Are we taking the time to teach our children to love them, to see them, and to be there?  Are we prepared even though we may be at the right place, but a temple is not available? 

Love for temples starts early.  My parents followed President Kimball's advice; “It seems to me it would be a fine thing if every set of parents would have in every bedroom in their house a picture of the temple so the [child] from the time he is an infant could look at the picture every day and it becomes a part of his life. When he reaches the age that he needs to make this very important decision, it will already have been made”  (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball (1982), 301).  I am trying to do the same, but just realized that my baby does not have a temple picture in his room!

I encourage you to make a temple goal to be there more often.  Whether you are a temple worker, or one taking steps to obtain a recommend, decide today to be at the temple more--either pondering outside or serving inside.  This spiritual preparedness is too important to miss.

I end with some prophetic promises.

"As we attend the temple,” counseled President Monson, “there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other feeling which could come into the human heart. We will grasp the true meaning of the words of the Savior when He said: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’ [John 14:27].  Thomas S. Monson, “Blessings of the Temple,” Liahona, May 2015, 91.

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) promised: “If you will go to the house of the Lord, you will be blessed, life will be better for you. … Avail yourselves of the great opportunity to go to the Lord’s house and thereby partake of all the marvelous blessings that are yours to be received there” (“Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, July 1997, 73; emphasis added)

Elder Richard G. Scott promised: “Regular [temple] attendance will enrich your life with greater purpose” (“Receive the Temple Blessings,” Ensign,May 1999, 26; emphasis added).

President Thomas S. Monson also promised: “As we go to the holy house, as we remember the covenants we make therein, we will be able to bear every trial and overcome each temptation” (“Blessings of the Temple,” Liahona, Oct. 2010, 15; emphasis added).