Author Archives: Jennifer Lavender

About Jennifer Lavender

Jennifer is a happily married, home schooling mother of 5. When she isn't online she enjoys reading, knitting, and spending time with her family.

Simple Ways to Stay Connected with Your Spouse

Today marks 18 years that I have been married to my husband. In that time we have had our ups and downs. We have had times where I feel like we can read each other’s thoughts and times where I wondered if we were even in the same book, let alone on the same page. And we have 6 kids at home who are also in need of our attention. Through it all I have discovered a few things that have helped me to feel more connected to my husband.


We can’t always take time alone when we want. Instead, of trying to find moments to get away, we make an effort to reconnect in the midst of all the madness. Fixing meals together is a great way to do that.

While one person stirs, the other one chops, and you can discuss current events, that crazy thing your toddler did yesterday, what is going to happen next on that TV show, or how you’re doing on accomplishing your goals. The topic isn’t really important; taking advantage of an opportunity where you are both in the same place to have a good conversation is.

Whether you are fixing a meal for your family or a meal for the two of you, use that time to be together.


Being in the same room but occupied by different things is good. Being in the same room and sharing in the same experiences is better.

We don’t have to eliminate everything that could possibly be a distraction. The goal is not to sit in an empty room staring at each other. The goal is to be fully engaged in whatever it is we are doing together. One of the biggest distractions we face is our smart phones. Sometimes connecting is as simple as not letting the games or social media on our phones occupy us.

Turn the phone off, or at least switch it to silent, put it down, and engage in what is happening with your spouse.


Going out on a date every once in a while, especially if you have kids, is a great idea. What isn’t a great idea is thinking that if you can’t do it the “right” way then it isn’t worth doing at all. So, don’t actually ditch date night, but ditch the idea that date night needs to be something elaborate, special, and dramatically different than your day-to-day.

So many times I have heard people talk about strengthening marriage relationships and the first suggestion was almost always to schedule a regular date night with your spouse. I would usually tune out after that because what most people meant when they said date night was to go out of the house and spend money on dinner and a movie, or a show, or an event, or some other special thing you wouldn’t normally do. That just wasn’t feasible for us financially or logistically most of the time.

Over time I have come to realize that my date night doesn’t need to look like this. We ditched the idea of a special date night and embraced the idea of spending meaningful time together no matter what we were doing. When our oldest kids were younger it was staying up after they were in bed to watch a movie. Now that they are old enough to babysit we can leave kids home to run errands or visit with friends, just the two of us. What we are doing is less important than making sure we do spend time that is just the two of us. We don’t even always leave the house. Sometimes we just stay up late and watch a movie or play a game after the kids are in bed.

Grocery shopping may not be a whole lot of fun or feel very special, but you might be surprised at the conversations that can be started in the cereal aisle you may not have had somewhere else. Give it a shot.

How do you connect with your spouse?

Categories: Diligent in Family Relationships | Leave a comment

Bathroom Conversations

Not too long ago, frustrated with my children attempting to have conversations with me through the bathroom door, I decided to institute a new rule. Unless someone was dying or the house was on fire it could wait until I was out of the bathroom. It took some training, but most of the time the kids are pretty good. In fact, I was beginning to think we were past the bathroom interruptions. I should have known better.

Tonight I was in the bathroom when Maxx knocked on the door. (Yes, I can identify my children by the way they knock on the bathroom door.) Like normal, I responded with, “Just a minute,” my reminder that he needed to wait until I was done.

Instead of the usual, “Okay,” I heard, “Mom?” followed by an almost audible spinning of gears in his brain. Clearly, this little boy, who never seems to forget anything, had just realized he had broken a rule and was looking for a way out.


“Someone is dying.”

And there you have it, folks. I told you he never forgets anything. The one thing that he’s allowed to talk to me about through the bathroom door is exactly what comes out of his mouth. I ask him, “Who’s dying?”


I can tell by the almost giggly tone that Malia is definitely not dying, but there’s a pretty good chance that he’s feeling pretty proud of himself for managing to find a way out of trouble. “Oh, really. How is she dying?”

I think I’ve got him here, but really, I should know better by now. This boy is clever and thinks fast. Without missing a beat he replies, “Charles is sucking her blood.”

I smiled to myself while washing up, figuring at this point I may as well just go along with it. “Oh no! Did Charles turn into a vampire?”


“What are we going to do?”

“Rescue Malia!”

I opened the door to a giant grin, got a big hug, then sent the boy off to play. I suspect that stories of unusual ways for people to die may become a regular part of my bathroom routine.

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Searching for a Just Man

At the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010 the United States experienced one of the most polarizing political debates of my lifetime. The question was should the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) be passed or not? More than once I shared my opinion on Facebook, and more than once I had people belittle me. What could have been polite discussion or even lively debate quickly devolved into name-calling argument. It turned me off to the idea of getting involved in the political process.

Here we are, almost 7 years later, and once again the political world occupies a majority of news and discussion. This time, it’s a Presidential race that occupies most minds and it’s been even more heated and divisive than Obamacare was. For my part I’ve done my best to participate in the process by casting my vote, but I’ve tried to avoid most discussion about politics with other people.

As much as I would love to remain a silent observer, I don’t feel like I can any more. I’m still not interested in discussion about the merits of one candidate or another and will not be commenting on any of them in any way. Instead, let me share some of my thoughts and beliefs on the process itself.

Why I’m writing this post

I believe that God speaks to us through the Holy Ghost. Often we are prompted to do or say things without fully understanding why. This is one of those moments. I can’t say why I was led to share the things I am going to share, but I know that the prompting came from God. Because of that, I pray that I will be guided to include the words that need to be included for whatever benefit they are intended to have.

From the Scriptures

Mosiah was both a religious leader and a king in the Book of Mormon. After his sons all declined to become king he sent out a proclamation to his people outlining a system where they would be led by judges. He told the people that “if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, … if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.” He reminded the people of the destruction that can come from having a wicked king. He encouraged the people to choose liberty.


It often feels like we are part of a never-ending political cycle where a person is elected and then we spend the entire time they are in office analyzing what they do, comparing it to how everyone else who wants the position says they would have handled it. As they reach the end of their term it doesn’t matter how much good they accomplished, because any opponents will pull out even the tiniest of bad things they did to prove why they are unfit to remain in that position. Campaigns seem to be fueled on attacking the character of other candidates as well as their political positions. As we get closer to an election the bid for attention from candidates becomes more desperate and you we are inundated with emails, social media posts, phone calls, news stories, flyers in the mail, and any other method a candidate can find to try and convince us to vote for them. We elect a new leader (or return the old one to office) and the process starts all over again.

While we go through this cycle we run across all sorts of people who want to be our political leaders. Some are what Mosiah would consider just men, but I frequently get the impression that a large portion of them are not. I do my best to spend time researching the candidates and then praying about who to vote for. In past elections I have felt a strong distrust for certain candidates that I can only attribute to the Holy Ghost witnessing to me that they are not just men. I have also felt a strong support for a few rare candidates that I feel was a witness of their character. Right now, I am definitely feeling a lot of distrust. I have listened to interviews where a candidate would say all the right things, where I would actually agree with most if not all of the points that they made, but I was still left with that pit in my stomach feeling that tells me this is not a good person. The candidate I felt was the best option is no longer in the race, and I’m not feeling good about voting for any remaining candidates.

My Plan

So, here I am, knowing that it is important to vote and participate in this process, but not having any idea who I should vote for. I will continue to pray about who the best candidate is. I will continue to research the candidates and their positions on a variety of topics. And, if it comes right down to it and I can’t support any of the candidates on the ballot, I will leave that section blank. I will not choose from the lesser of two evils, and I will not choose someone based on their ability to win.

While I will not actively participate in discussions/debates/arguments that revolve around political issues and candidates, I will continue to encourage people to participate in the process. If there is an issue or candidate that you feel strongly about, then by all means advocate for your side. If you are unsure where you stand on an issue, then do some research about the pros and cons of all sides so you can make a decision informed by more than the opinions of your peers. When it comes time to vote, choose the best candidate for the job.

And, last of all, I will participate in the process myself.

Categories: Diligent in Citizenship | Leave a comment

Joseph Smith-An example of friendship and character

One of my favorite verses of scripture is Joseph Smith-History 1:28. In this verse Joseph Smith is recounting a time after the First Vision when he is experiencing severe persecution because he would not deny that he had seen a vision. There are many things that can be learned from this verse.

“…persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends…”

It won’t always be strangers who treat us cruelly or unfairly because of our beliefs. Sometimes it will be those who are closest to us. When we face persecution from friends or family members, how do we deal with it? Do we continue to reaffirm what we know to be true, or do we change who we are to make it easier to maintain the relationship?

“…and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me…”

There will be times in our lives, too, where we may be on the other side. We may have a friend or family member who we believe is doing something wrong. We may even describe them as deluded, out of their mind, crazy, or just plain ignorant to believe what they believe. In those circumstances, do we continue to treat them with the respect and affection we should, or do we resort to persecution like Joseph Smith experienced?

“…I was left to all kinds of temptations…I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature;…”

So often, we hold those in leadership positions to a higher standard of behavior. As a leader it is reasonable to expect them to set a good example, it is not reasonable to expect them to be infallible. They are subject to the same human experience that we all are.

“…I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been…”

This may be my favorite part of this verse. At first reading it may seem silly to even think of levity as something one should feel guilty of. There is no commandment I am aware of that strictly outlaws levity. But the seriousness of the sin is not what is important here. It is what is unspoken that I find most important. Joseph Smith felt that he had sinned. That feeling was probably a prompting from the Holy Ghost that he listened to and acted on. How many times have you been prompted by the Holy Ghost to not do something that you enjoy? How often have you listened to that prompting? Do we acknowledge that those promptings are from the Holy Ghost and act appropriately in response?

If you continue reading in further verses you learn that Joseph Smith went to the Lord to ask for forgiveness of his sins. This is a great example to all of us of how we should ask forgiveness even of those sins that may seem trivial or minor.

It is my hope that I can continue to be diligent in standing up for my beliefs, being a friend to those around me, supporting my leaders even with their weaknesses, and listening to the spirit to repent of those things that need to be repented of.

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What I’ve learned from my 13 year old: Malia edition.

☆Be excited about new opportunities. It won’t hurt and it’s better than being scared.

☆ You’re happier when you forgive.
☆ Making new friends is easy if you just take time to get to know somebody.
☆ Always be yourself.

Some other interesting things about Malia.

☆ She is the child most likely to leave me a love note in an unexpected place.
☆ We sent her to a church summer camp this summer where she was the only girl from our stake to go. (Normally there are several girls from each stake.) Some of her leaders were concerned about her not having any friends up there, but she saw it as a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. It was a wonderful experience and she had a great time.
☆ She is developing into quite a young woman. Always willing to help, cheer someone up, and set a great example for others.

Categories: Diligent in Family Relationships | Leave a comment

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