Monday, October 26, 2015

Thoughts on Social Media

Dear Kids,

First of all, while writing this post, I am going to refer often to facebook.  That is because facebook is the social media outlet I am most familiar with, but this applies to Instagram and Twitter and any other social media platform!

I have been on facebook for a few years now.  I have learned lots of things.  I have learned that it can be a catalyst for so much good and also something that can suck away precious time.  It all depends on how you use it, and it’s a process I am still learning.  (:  Today I wanted to share just a few of the lessons I have learned from Facebook.

First, you are only getting snippets of people’s lives.  Just because you have a friend who posts perfect pictures of her perfect family and perfect house and perfect vacations does NOT mean she has a perfect life.  Don’t feel intimidated by thinking she does.  Everyone has struggles.  She may be going something HUGE, but private.  She may be struggling with health or addiction or extended family.   She may be crying herself to sleep every night but choosing to focus only on the good in public.  Or perhaps she IS going through a perfect stage of life.  Don’t be jealous or intimidated by her success and joys-- be happy for her!  It won’t last—we will all face big struggles and trials.  Sometimes it’s easy to love your friends through their hard things (think how we all rally around someone going through cancer) but we forget to love them through their happy times too!  Don’t make false assumptions about someone’s life simply by their social media posts.

Second, you will never please everyone.  This can be hard for a people pleaser who wants to be sensitive to those around them.   You will soon find that there are so many opinionated people out there and you simply cannot make them all happy.  It’s OK!!!  (: 

I remember one day reading a post from a friend who pleaded, “Please, stop with all the quotes and news stories and funny videos.  I want to know about your LIVES, people!  I want to know what your kids are up to and bask in their joys and successes!  I want to see photos of your family and hear stories about how you are doing!”  That very same day, I read a viral facebook post from someone who was “fed up with self-obsessed people bragging about their kids and posting about how great their lives are!”  Hmmm.  Later on I read a post about how people shouldn’t share their difficulties on facebook and how they were tired of people soliciting attention by publicizing “every little fever or scraped knee.”  A comment on that post completely disagreed and said that they were tired of hearing from their “perfect friends with their perfect lives” and would much rather hear about people’s real-life struggles.  Then there was the post pleading for people to stop using facebook to spread religion or political views, and all the comments underneath who claimed people who didn’t share their beliefs weren’t being true to themselves.   Or the post about stopping all sharing of the “Go Fund Me” type posts (people shouldn’t be asking for help, darn it!) countered with the comments that those who didn’t share them were selfish and prideful.  I even read a (very well written, I must add) lengthy post about how people should stop using the phrase, “I’m so blessed” because it was offensive to those who were struggling.  This met with comments on how NOT using the term “blessed” took away credit from God.

Again, hmmm.  So I guess if we try to please everyone, we can’t share quotes or news stories or uplifting messages that aren’t about our own life or family.  If we share about the good things happening in our families, we are just bragging or making others feel bad who are struggling.  But if we share struggles, we are over-sharing or being negative.  If we share our religious or political convictions, we are ostracizing people, but if we don’t, we aren’t standing up for our beliefs.   If we try to share posts asking for help for people, we are annoying, but if we choose not to share them we are selfish.  Oh, and don’t ever say you are blessed.  (;  

Sound tricky?  Well, it is—and I have found myself being wary of posting the most innocent of posts, anticipating how someone might react.   That is, until I decided that I can't let others (especially strangers!) dictate the things I post about.   I want to give you one perfect example.  Last year, I started posting profiles of orphans who needed families.  I was worried because I have had people in the past express that they were perhaps a little tired of hearing about adoption.  I didn't want to appear "holier than thou" since we have adopted.  But I felt compelled to share these kiddos and guess what-- it led to several children getting MATCHED!  One less orphan is worth ANY amount of my time sharing on social media!  What a beautiful thing it was to follow those children as they found their way into their forever families!!

So,  I would love if you would consider these guidelines, coming from a mom who loves you and has learned a lot from her time on Facebook:

1  1.    Share your joys!  People who love you will love to hear about them! 
    2.    Share your sorrows!  People who love you will lift you up! 
    3.    Share your successes!  People who love you will find happiness in them!
    4.    Share your failures!  People who love you will love you even more!
    5.    Share your testimony!  People who love you will appreciate your goodness  and faith!
    6.    Share your convictions respectfully!  People who love you will respect you  even if they don’t
    7.    Share things that uplift you!  You can uplift others in return!
    8.    Share things that make you laugh!  What an easy way to brighten someone’s day!
    9.    Share what you are comfortable sharing!  If you feel uneasy posting something, that may be a little    
           voice telling you not to share.  Listen to it.  A good guideline might be to consider if you would be       
           comfortable sharing it with me or Dad or even Grandma.  Or think about a future spouse reading it 
           someday!  Once you’ve made something public, it is hard to make it private again—even if you 
           erase it, it has already been shared.
    10.   Share things that you want to share.  Don’t spend time worrying about how others might react.
            It’s good to care, but counterproductive to overthink things.   Share things you are passionate  
            about.   Again, you will not always please everyone.  That’s ok.  (: And if/when you mess up, 
            forgive yourself and be better.  We are all learning! 

Third, (this is something I could definitely improve on) if you are taking time to scroll through people’s posts, take time to “like” and comment when you can.   It’s like giving people a virtual hug!  (:   Wanting others to like their posts doesn’t mean a person is  insecure or needy—it means they are human!  Everyone “likes” to have “likes!”  That being said, DO NOT EVER place your worth in the number of “friends” or “likes” you have.  Find your worth in YOU.  You are a child of God, loved beyond comprehension by Him and by US. You are beautiful enough, talented enough, good enough.  We love you perfectly, shortcomings and all, and we always will. 

Fourth, learn to sift.  When I was young, I loved sleeping over at my Grandma Larsen’s home.  In the room that I sleep in was a framed poem that I loved enough to memorize.  It goes like this:

“A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

Be that kind of facebook friend!   Find the good in those you interact with on social media.  Use that breath of kindness to blow away what isn’t worth keeping.  Build others up.  Be gentle.  Be kind.  If you feel the need to challenge someone, do it with a great deal of kindness.   Assume the best in people.  If they are being negative, they are probably coming from a place of hurt.  If they are being needy, they are likely coming from a place of loneliness.  If they are overbearing, they likely don't know it.  Give others the benefit of the doubt!  SIFT!!!   If you can be that kind of friend, you will attract others like you who will influence your life for good and make you an even better person.  You will find that social media can be a blessing to your life and a wonderful way for you to serve and bless those around you.   

Finally, don’t let social media take over your life!   In referring to social media, Elder Ian S. Ardern said, “As good as these things are, we cannot allow them to push to one side those things of greatest importance. How sad it would be if the phone and computer, with all their sophistication, drowned out the simplicity of sincere prayer to a loving Father in Heaven. Let us be as quick to kneel as we are to text. Please be careful of becoming so immersed and engrossed in pixels, texting, earbuds, twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of media and the Internet that you fail to recognize the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication.”

 And then this:

 I offer two questions for consideration in your personal pondering and prayerful studying:
1. Does the use of various technologies and media invite or impede the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in your life?
2. Does the time you spend using various technologies and media enlarge or restrict your capacity to live, to love, and to serve in meaningful ways?”

I know from experience that technology can distract us from things that matter most.  It can also be a marvelous tool in building relationships, enriching our lives, strengthening our testimony and even just getting away from daily stress. 

Use it wisely, my beautiful kids!  And have fun socializing!



Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sophia Breanne

I don't know how it happened, but our baby is 7!!!  I think that's as hard for me as the fact that our oldest is 17!  Sweet Sophi's birthday was September 4 and began with an early morning trip to watch the sunrise over Bryce Canyon with Jeremy and Taylor.  Then it was back in the teepee to have her breakfast in bed.  As usual, Sophi wanted Lexi to join her for her birthday breakfast-- those two are pretty inseparable!  After cleaning up camp and exploring a little more, we headed back home with a stop to see (great) Grandma Larsen.  We all love her so much and appreciate any time we get to spend with her.  Then it was on home, where Grandma and Grandpa Nelson had cake waiting.  It was a fun birthday for the Soph Monster.

Sophi started first grade this year and is loving it!  Her teacher, Ms. Poppleton (isn't that the best name ever for a 1st grade teacher?) is darling and her TA, Ms. Dani, could not be any better.  In fact, Sophi often says in the evenings, "I miss Ms. Dani!  I can't wait to see her tomorrow!!"  It is so comforting to send her to a great school with great teachers and great friends.

 Sophi is pretty much the most lovable little person on the planet.  I always tell her that my favorite part of each day is 6:45 in the morning.  We've just finished scriptures with the older kids and it's time for Sophi to wake up.  I love to go and scoop her out of bed, wrap her silky blanket over her, and head to the couch for a little cuddle time before the morning gets too hectic.  Holding her in my arms while she is still so sleepy and warm and yummy is just heaven for me.  Ahhh, I love that girl!

I think I've mentioned it before, but Sophi has (per her request) her own little youtube channel.  She has always loved being on camera, and it's fun to have a place I can keep snippets of her life.  If you'd like to visit it, you can click HERE.

I cannot imagine my life without this precious little girl.  She fills my heart.  I am sure there is no joy on earth above that which I find in being her mother.  I love you, Sophi Malophi!!!

Sophi and cousin Emery love to play with each other!

Sophi and Emery at Lagoon


Roasting marshmallows with China Dad
Birthday girl and Taylor

Birthday breakfast

First day of school

Look what Sophi caught!

Friday, October 16, 2015

National White Cane Day

Today is National White Cane Day, so I thought it a perfect time to share Lexi's and Conner's experience last week at Short Term.  Short Term is an overnight program 5-6 times per year where visually impaired kids get together and do all kinds of amazing activities.  It's such a great opportunity to be with kids that face many of the same struggles they do.  The director and counselors there are the best, and our kids have had so many wonderful experiences there.  

This last short term was centered around White Cane Day and how using a cane can help you to become more independent.  I don't know how the director of Short Term pulled it off, but Blessing Offor from The Voice attended with the kids!  He was a fabulous mentor and the kids all loved him.  At the end of Short Term, they had a White Cane Day celebration that the families were invited to.  It was fantastic-- yummy food, informative booths, and a special concert put on by Blessing Offor.  He sang several songs on his own, but the kids also got to be part of the program with cute little speaking parts.  Conner actually got to perform a song on the piano and did a great job.  But the best part was that earlier that day, the kids and Blessing wrote a little song together and performed it for the parents.  Conner got to play the piano with Blessing and Lexi got to sing with the kids.  Jeremy was standing by the piano, so you can't see the other kids in the video-- you'll just have to believe me that they were all adorable.  (:  

Having positive role models for kids is always important, but it's even more special when they have role models that can understand them in ways others cannot.  Blessing was just that-- a big blessing to our kids.  Conner especially enjoyed and was inspired by him.  And we know that Short Term was successful because on Sunday, for the first time ever, Lexi actually ASKED if she could use her cane to walk to church!!  Our kids typically don't like to use their canes because it makes them feel different-- but somehow, the White Cane Day celebration helped her to realize that her cane was a powerful tool in helping her become independent.  She was so proud that she walked to church and back without a sighted guide.  Happy White Cane Day!!!

Conner plays Fur Elise

A snippet of Blessing singing "Hallelujah"

The song that Blessing and the kids wrote together

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Alexis Li

I have been so excited to write this post!  I have the MOST fun story to tell about our Lexi!  But first of all, let me just go over a few things about Lexi and what she has been up to this year.  For starters, Lexi has always wanted a summer birthday party, but her birthday is at the end of December and of course, she never wants to wait for summer.  This year, we had a very balmy January (at least for Utah's standards) and we decided we would give her the summer party she has always wanted.  So, in the middle of January, we went outside and roasted hot dogs, played all kinds of summer games and then watched one of Lexi's favorites, "Teen Beach Movie."  The kids were fine in jackets and they had a ball.  Lexi was thrilled to finally get her summer party!

Lexi and Sophi are the very best of friends.  Perhaps the fact that they were adopted from the same orphanage on the same day has led in part to their one-of-a-kind bond.  They are mostly inseparable and are just perfect together.  This school year has been fun.  On the first day of school, I asked Lexi what she wanted to wear and she replied, "Whatever Sophi is wearing."  Then I asked Sophi how she wanted her hair fixed and she said, "Like Lexi's."  That started a trend and I am a little amazed to say that thus far, they have worn the same outfits and had the same hairdos for school EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I've snapped a few pics showing their twin-ness and will add them below.  (:

Lexi had a fantastic summer.  She attended the Bell Program for two weeks (a braille day camp) and a  sports camp for the blind/visually impaired.  She loved hanging out with her cousins during our two family reunions and especially enjoyed Lagoon.    I was able to take her on an especially fun Mommy date to see "Into the Woods" performed at the Hale Theater.  Lexi basically has the whole play memorized and was so excited to "see" it live.  When we got there, one of the ushers saw her with her cane and walked right over and asked if she would like a backstage tour.  He took her backstage and let her feel some of the costumes and props-- oh how I love thoughtful people!!!  It made the experience so much more fun for her.  Afterward we were able to meet some of the characters and she thought that was super exciting.  Then we went to have Mexican food and she got a whole dessert to herself.  We don't often take the kids out to eat (expensive!) and if we do, we skimp on things like drinks and dessert, so she thought it was the coolest thing ever to get a whole dessert and kept telling me so!  I sure love that girl.

Lexi is one of the most sensitive, caring, joyous, lovely little human beings on this planet.  Her joy is contagious and pure, which makes it so much fun to do things that make her happy.  That is why this next story is so much fun!  To tell it, I think I'm going to just copy and paste my posts from Facebook.  (:  That way you can get a taste of the excitement that was happening for us and for Lexi on October 1!

1st post:

HELP WANTED!  smile emoticon As anyone close to Lexi knows, she has been a little obsessed with Idina Menzel for the last two years. She listens to her music pretty much every day. She even asks strangers if they know who Idina Menzel is and promptly educates them by singing one of her songs.  smile emoticon The biggest compliment you can give Lexi is to tell her that she sounds like Idina when she sings. Her whole face lights up with the biggest smile and giggle! She has asked me MANY times if I think she will ever get to meet Idina. She has me describe to her what she looks like over and over. Well, we just found out that Idina will be in concert TONIGHT in Orem. Jeremy wants to surprise her and take her on a little date.  smile emoticon But this is our question-- Does anyone have any connections to Lexi Walker or Gentri (both opening for Idina tonight) or to the UCCU center or to Idina Menzel herself or to ANYONE who might know how to make it possible for Lexi to spend a few seconds actually meeting Idina? Any other child who is going to see their favorite star can do so by simply attending the concert-- but with Lexi, she can't "see" Idina without getting a moment to touch her hand or give her a hug. It would seriously be the most incredible gift you could give Lexi!! It would be the highlight of her life.

This post was followed by a TON of comments and shares all over Facebook with people trying to help us make a connection so that she could meet Idina.  I was so over-the-moon happy and grateful and was just sure it was going to happen!

2nd post:

Just told Lexi where Daddy's taking her tonight... Looks like we will have one happy girl even if she doesn't get to meet her in person! 

3rd post:

 I want to give a very special and big THANK YOU to Mary Rice who was extremely generous in giving us the tickets she and her husband had purchased but decided not to use. We were so, so grateful!!! The kindness of strangers continuously blows me away. Jeremy has been texting me from the concert and they are having a great time. He talked to someone there who told him that Idina does not do meet and greets. ): I told him to keep trying, as I am praying my heart out that she can still meet her. It's crazy to have her so CLOSE (they have seats on the floor pretty close to the stage) and not be able to see her when it's been her dream for so long! It's pretty much driving me out of my mind to not be able to pull it off for her! But I know she is still loving her time there and it will be such a great memory. 

During this time, I received a few messages from people who had been trying to pull it off for Lexi but who were unable to do so.  I was SO grateful for their efforts and felt so much joy that they would even try, but I was starting to give up hopes that it would happen.  

4th post:

PEOPLE!!!!!! I am DYING!!!!! I JUST got an email from the director of the UCCU Center. I had emailed him earlier today. He said that if Jeremy would meet him after the concert, he would give him a meet and greet ticket for Lexi. That means she will be meeting Idina Menzel in the next little while!!!!! God is SO GOOD!!!!!!  smile emoticon I prayed seconds before his email popped up and felt His comforting spirit. Thank you everyone else who prayed as well or shared the post or did anything to help!!!! I can't wait to share how it goes!  smile emoticon smile emoticon smile emoticon smile emoticon smile emoticonsmile emoticon

This post was met with so many likes and comments.  It made it all the more fun for me to be able to share this experience with friends and family and even strangers that were just so happy for Lexi.  It's during times like this I just love Facebook and the good it can do.  

5th post:

Oh my goodness, it just keeps getting better. Just got this text from Jeremy: "She is singing her encore. She called up a bunch of little kids to sing 'Let It Go.' Lexi made it up and Idina shook her hand. When she saw Lexi's face, she reached out and caressed her cheek. So sweet." WOW. I'm crying!

6th post:  

I just got off the phone with Lexi. Oh my goodness-- it was the most fun phone call of all time. She was GLOWING (can you glow in your voice?) with excitement. She exuded happiness through the phone. I wish I could have recorded the cuteness of the conversation. It went something like this: "So... guess what! I just met Idina Menzel! (giggle) And she loved my voice. (giggle) And she has really beautiful soft hands and was wearing rings. And she touched my cheek which was so cute! And I just really loved her and she really loved me too!" Seriously, it was the best conversation ever! After talking to her for awhile and hearing her cute perspective on it all, I got on the phone with Jeremy and he filled me in on details. Apparently, as the kids were invited onto the stage, it took awhile for him to get Lexi up there and they had closed the line. There were a bunch of kids that didn't get to go. Jeremy said to the person there something like, "Look at this sweet girl. Do you think you might have room for her?" And they replied with "Absolutely." So she got onto the stage even though the line was closed. Apparently everything happened very fast so he didn't get photos/video, but Idina took her hand, then looked at her face and caressed her cheek, which Jeremy said was the most tender moment ever. Then they sang "Let it Go." Supposedly he has some video of that but because of the way Lexi was turned, it's not very good. I so wish I could see that moment where they met on stage,(I wonder if anyone has video of it?) but I'm still just so happy that it happened!!! After the concert, the director met Jeremy and had ONE meet and greet ticket. He said it was the only one he had and that they had VERY strict guidelines about not letting you backstage without a ticket, so Lexi would have to go without Jeremy. Ha! Apparently, someone else was going to have to escort her. Jeremy texted me this and I was seriously laughing out loud-- so happy that Lexi would at least get to go and yet thinking how absurd it was that he couldn't go with. I told him to at least send his phone with so someone could take pictures. Well, when it was time for her to go back, the guy in charge asked Jeremy if he was coming. Jeremy told him that he didn't have a ticket, to which the guy replied, "Are you with her? Then come on back!" So we were so happy that he looked past the typical rules. Apparently, at this moment everything happened VERY quickly-- people were supposed to get like 3 seconds with Idina and were kind of rushed through and he wasn't able to video or take pictures, but "their people" were taking pictures and are going to email them to us. Idina remembered Lexi from the stage and told her that she had a beautiful voice. That was honestly the BEST thing she could have ever said to Lexi. I know she'll ride high on that one for a very long time. Jeremy said she was very sweet with her even though it was a short moment. Honestly, I just couldn't be more happy right now. Lexi faces such tremendous challenges on a daily basis and does it with such grace and courage!! There isn't another girl in all the world that could find as much joy from meeting Idina as Lexi found tonight. My heart is so full! Thank you so much again, everyone, for your kindness and for finding joy in Lexi's joy!!! I will post pictures when I have them. Believe me, I am as anxious to see them as anyone!  

People were so happy for Lexi.  It was so fun to have such a big group of people to share that joy with!  Thank you, Facebook friends!

7th post:

smile emoticon
And with that

Just tucked in one very, very happy girl. Her last words to me: "I wish Idina could come to our house and have a sleepover with me since we like each other so much."  
smile emoticon

And with that, I am finally able to share the photos of that night!  They came yesterday in my email and seriously, I got teary all over again.  I think the one of Idina and Lexi is definitely going to have to be blown up and put on her wall, right?  SO cute!  And a reminder that Heavenly Father is aware of Lexi and delights in making her smile.  I know that he accomplishes His work through GOOD, WONDERFUL, CARING people like you-- so again, a big THANK YOU to all who were a part of Lexi's magical night!!! I know that she will never forget it.  (:

Getting ready to leave on the best Daddy date ever!


Backstage with Idina!!!

Aren't they just darling together?!!

Got home close to midnight and was still so hyper about the whole thing.  Thought it would be hard waking her up for school the next morning, but she woke up on her own at 6:30 a.m. and was out on the couch singing Idina Menzel songs!

Summer birthday party!

Best friends!


Lexi loved Graci's China Mom

Always twins!

With her special friend Marilyn at the Color Run

Mommy date to see Into the Woods

Loving her Tres Leches

So much fun with my sweet girl!

Walking home from church