All posts by Catherine A.

About Catherine A.

(Blog Team) is a mother of five small children including two sets of twins. She and her husband spent nearly eight years in Northern Virginia, but now call Utah home. She reviews books for Meridian Magazine, writes for Power of Moms, dabbles in poetry and works on the prose editorial staff for Segullah. She blogs about her wild and precious life @ www.wildnprecious.com.

Safety is Not in Numbers

We are standing on the east end of Lake Wakatipu. The water shines a bright aqua blue in the light of Sabbath morning. Broom shrub spots the hillsides, splashing yellow across green slopes. It is springtime in New Zealand.

We find the sign. White with black print. Indicating church services in a chapel nestled at the bottom of a private driveway. The chapel is a house made of pearl-colored slat board. And it looks like someone is home.

My husband and I park on the main road, walk down the driveway, and crack the door. Sunbeams shoot across the carpet as we step into the small house. It’s a room with maybe 15 chairs, a podium without a mic, and a keyboard, stage right. The faces, a beautiful mix of color, are smiling at us. With no aversion in their eyes, they look directly at us, even though we are strangers. And it is obvious,  they are happy we’ve come.

We exchange names, where we hail from, and sit down on the plastic chairs. The branch president asks if anyone can play the piano. I raise my hand and take my place behind the keyboard.

It feels good to be there. Good to sing, to pray, to break bread with these Saints.

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They invite us to share lunch with them following the meetings, and as we eat, we learn that the Queenstown Branch has only seven active members, with a total of 27 baptized members on record. This particular Sunday visitors make up most of their tiny congregation.

During the announcements, a beautiful young Maori sister, with a handful of children on her lap, is released as Primary President and called as Relief Society President. Another Maori sister, seated behind me, is called as her counselor. She tells me she is the only active member in her family. Even her children don’t attend with her. But she feels great purpose in her new assignment; that she is meant to gather her friends and bring them with her.

The speakers for the meeting are visitors from Dunedin, a city south of Queenstown. This husband and wife have driven three and a half hours to be there. Both are native New Zealanders who joined the church as teenagers. The sister speaks about reading the scriptures every morning before we begin our day. It is one of the most powerful talks I have heard on scripture study.

Then her husband speaks, and with a clear and confident voice, he makes this statement of encouragement to the small branch:

“Safety is not in numbers,” he says. “It is in the Spirit.” Continue reading

Motherhood Realized

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So I was privileged this year to collaborate with a wonderful group of women at Power of Moms to create a book. Women who believe that family life is beautiful and motherhood is a privilege. Even though some days its hard to see that beauty. Especially when you feel you don’t match up, or your heart wants to do more than your hands can manage.

The book is called Motherhood Realized, An Inspiring Anthology for the Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love. And if you’re a mother, you know the truth of that subtitle.

Nothing has brought me to my knees, flat-out prostrate some days, like the stress and heartache of being a mom. And yet, nothing has made me laugh with more delight or be filled with fiercer love, than the faces of my children.

In the book, we redefine social media’s concept of a “good mom.” Because there’s this crazy phenomenon going on, where good, devoted women hop on pinterest, facebook, blogs, instagram, and see images of what they think a good mom should be. The result?  They think they aren’t enough.

In an essay titled Your Children Want You, April Perry discusses how to rethink this idea of a “good mom,” how to hone your personal strengths, put the past behind you, and focus more on relationships than tasks.

In the rest of the book, we share our best ideas for getting through hard times, shifting perspective when needed, savoring moments, and not comparing but sustaining and encouraging each other in motherhood. It really is a lovely collection of essays.

The book launched Monday and has been selling extremely well. So well, if we continue at the current momentum, it is a definite possibility we could land our book on the New York Times bestseller list! Something that, at first, felt like wild pie in the sky. But now, it’s actually looking like we can do it. The window for that opportunity, however, closes on Saturday, March 29th. So we are making a huge effort to sell as many books as we can between now and then.

Books that rank on best-seller lists become topics that get attention in the larger world. So getting our book to the top of national book lists would open media conversations about the topics I mentioned above. And we think that would be incredibly valuable.

I sat down earlier this week to read through some of the essays again and found myself emotional over the words and ideas, even after reading them before. I was reminded that this book is full of powerful life-truths that will bless mothers in any stage of parenting.

 And you should know, none us are making money from this effort. All proceeds go back to Power of Moms to fuel an online community that supports and strengthens mothers globally.

So, will you consider buying the book for yourself, your sisters, daughters, mothers, or friends, then sharing this link via FB, email, or twitter? (Social media also does it’s own kind of miraculous good.) The book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and any national bookseller. Just click on the link to buy.

And! Power of Moms is offering free prizes for everyone who purchases the book by Saturday the 29th. Who doesn’t like free prizes? :) Click here to receive your free prize, see a list of authors, or watch a short video promo for the book.

Some authors you might recognize are Katrina Kenison (Mitten Strings From God), Linda Eyre, Saren Eyre Loosli, Shawni Pothier, April Perry, Allyson Reynolds.

Over the years you have become a community where I have felt safe sharing some of my most personal beliefs and thoughts. Because you’ve been so kind, I felt comfortable posting this here and asking for your support.

Many of you are women I have watched, observed, and been inspired by in my own mothering. You’ve made me better. Your words have changed me, and blessed my family.  And I am so very grateful for you.

The Last Sacrament Cup

Mormon-church-sacrament_emblemsOur five children ping-ponged between our laps, shuffled around for seats, as my husband and I pulled out books and crayons to settle our noisy crew for sacrament meeting.

It was just before the New Year and we were visiting a ward in St. George, Utah. A ward that had no primary or youth program because it was composed mostly of retired couples. No twelve-year-old Deacons bumped elbows on the front row; it was the High Priests who were preparing to bless and pass the sacrament.

Normally, the ward would have gently filled the padded seats of the chapel, but on this holiday weekend, the overflow divider was pushed wide and we, with a number of other families, were nestled onto metal folding chairs that stretched to the back of the gym.

The meeting progressed as usual and I watched as a dozen older gentlemen carried trays of bread, then water, through the bursting rows. They were making great effort to manage the unusually large crowd. Their faces were kind. Some had rounded shoulders and bent spines. They whispered directions to each other. One wore cowboy boots. One winked at the little girl in front of us. Continue reading

Blessed

I believe one of the most courageous attributes we can develop in this life is gratitude. Particularly when we let it rise out of darkness, loss, debilitation, heartache, or any other hardship.

It has always impressed me that Paul and Silas, while sitting in prison – stripped, beaten and chained – found it within themselves to pray and sing praises.

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” – Acts 16:25

So on this Thanksgiving day, I wanted to simply share a few verses of praise with you. As we collectively remember His gifts, His generosity, and the bit of good we can do, wherever we are.

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I part the out thrusting branches

and come in beneath

the blessed and the blessing trees.

Though I am silent there is singing around me.

Though I am dark there is vision around me.

Though I am heavy there is flight around me.

- Wendell Berry, “Woods”

Continue reading

Sisters in Scriptures

Three years ago our Stake Relief Society Presidency had a thought: What if we created a weekly scripture class for the women of our stake, where they could be edified, taught, and comforted in the presence of other searching women?

The idea quickly grew into reality and before long I found myself sitting in the chapel listening to two women teach out of the scriptures, as if I was back in Israel, completely filled by the spirit, gleaning truth from enlightened professors.

They called it Sisters in Scriptures and our two Stake RS counselors were selected to be the teachers. Years of dedicated scripture study have prepared them for this experience. Diane Adair, (in the Yankees cap) is a former seminary teacher and regular presenter at BYU Education Week. Nancy Hanks Baird (turquoise necklace) is a published writer, poet, and gospel scholar. They are more than qualified . . . and were wonderfully good-natured when I informed them I wanted to take their picture after class this Tuesday.

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