Friday, February 27, 2009


I have been accused of not knowing what makes people happy. I have been told that happiness is relative and what makes one person happy doesn’t necessarily make another happy. I absolutely believe that true happiness only comes through living the gospel and keeping the commandments. Over the course of my life (a very long one according to my children), I’ve learned a simple truth: keeping the commandments makes me happy and breaking the commandments makes me sad. I’ve experimented enough to know this is true.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that happiness is relative. After all, Satan is the great imitator and perhaps he can mimic happiness so effectively that it’s difficult to discern that some “happy” feelings are actually coming from Satan in his attempt to mislead us.

How do we know if we’re truly happy or merely lulled into thinking so? Perhaps, we need to consider our happiness as it relates to peace. In 1 Nephi 20:22 it says, “ . . . there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” I think that sums it up.
Peace cannot come to those who are breaking the commandments. Maybe they are “happy” in their own definition of the term, but peace escapes those who choose to defy God and his laws.

A difference exists between satisfaction/pleasure/enjoyment and joy/peace. Imagine an enormous hot fudge sundae. Several of your favorite ice cream scoops swim in decadent hot fudge topped with whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry. As each bite glides across your tongue and slides down your throat your pleasure and enjoyment increase.

Now compare that to walking into the temple. As soon as you enter the front door, you can feel the peace. Sitting in the celestial room, you feel wrapped in love. Joy washes over you like a gentle wave while a calm that’s hard to duplicate outside of the temple settles on you. Do you feel the same way you did when you ate the hot fudge sundae?

One brings you pleasure and satisfaction, both superficial feelings. The other brings you a deep, soul-satisfying, spirit-quenching peace—a feeling that Satan cannot duplicate.

I’ve been asked if I’m always happy. Truthfully, I’ve experienced trials in my life, as has everyone. And, yes, I felt sadness when my sister-in-law passed away from cancer last year. However, through all the trials, I have still felt peace. I have felt that though the grief was immeasurable at times I’d get through it because the peace of the gospel never left me.

So, perhaps, I am wrong in my assessment of what determines happiness, but I am certain I’m not wrong when it comes to feeling the kind of peace that only the Savior can give us. Not the peace of the world, but the peace of God. And with that peace comes a happiness that cannot be replicated by Satan or any other worldly source. It is a peace that ignites my spirit and lights my soul. It’s the peace that comes from the gospel and a peace that I strive to have in my life, even during times of trial. It is a peace that’s worth every effort to obtain.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recovering Charles by Jason Wright

I'm not a fast reader and I tend to feel guilty if I'm reading more than I'm writing in the little snatchets of time I have between poopy diapers, laundry mountains, and, lately, barfing kids.

I was up at our elementary school waiting for kids to finish basketball practice the other day when I wandered into the library that also serves as a branch of the public library. I browsed through the books and spotted Recovering Charles by Jason Wright. I thumbed through the pages and decided to check it out.

I finished it, through tears, this morning. Recovering Charles is about a young man, Luke Millward, in search of his father during the aftermath of Katrina. He and his father are estranged for many reasons and when his father goes missing he decides to make the three-day long trip from New York down to New Orleans in hopes of not only finding his dad, but also finding his way back to his alcoholic father who he's all but given up on. He finds much more than that.

Wright does a fantastic job of pulling the reader into the story. I found that I read many more pages than I planned to read at each sitting. He also does a great job of making you feel like you're experiencing the horrific scenes of death and destruction that Katrina left in her wake. I knew it was a horrible disaster, but Wright made me see it through different eyes. I felt like I was living it along with the main character.

Wright throws in a twist. I didn't expect it, but it made sense and made the story much deeper.

Like I said, I'm not a fast reader, but I read Recovering Charles quickly because I wanted to know how it ended. I recommend it--just make sure you have some Kleenex nearby.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Sears Saga Continues . . .

This is a follow-up to my Warning About Sears.

If you read that post, you know I haven't been thrilled with Sears. I've been trying to get our rototiller fixed so we'll be able to use it to get our garden spot ready.

We took the rototiller in for repair in November and were told that it'd be ready in December. MY husband checked in December--not ready. I called in January to check on it and was told the transmission was faulty and a new one had been ordered, twice. I was assured a technician would call with details. Good thing I didn't hold my breath . . . I'd be dead.

After going in circles through the automated phone system and calling the local repair center several times, including two days ago, I was finally contacted by a repairman today, after I called again.

The repairman goes on to tell me that he can't fix my rototiller because he's in one state and I live in a different state that's contracted by another repairman.

Tangent: My sister has had to deal with the other repairman. She had an upright freezer go out twice during the warranty period and now has a washer that has a faulty motor. The repairman has been rude to her, not shown up for appointments, hasn't called her, and has left her without her washer for a month (she has 10 kids so, luckily, they borrowed another washer because you can't go for a month without a washer with that many kids). She is flabbergasted with the way this repairman has acted and, as a result, I'm not at all interested in working with him.

Back to my story: So I told this repairman I wouldn't work with the other one contracted in my area and besides, the tiller is actually in the state where he's contracted. He then told me that a repair order hadn't even been activated on my rototiller. Excuse me? It's been sitting in the store since November, I've called several times and now there's no repair order?


So, again, beware of Sears. I, for one, will never purchase another item from Sears. I can't believe what we've had to go through to get this tiller fixed. And, somehow, it doesn't seem right that Sears not only has my money, it also has my tiller with no repair date in sight. Doesn't it seem like I should either have my money back or my rototiller?

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Credibility in Writing

This is a rant of sorts. I was watching a TV show on USA called, Psych. It's about a guy who pretends to be psychic and works with the police. He actually has a photographic memory and amazing observation skills, but uses the psychic thing as his cover.

The premise doesn't bother me--it's the setting. The show is supposedly set in Santa Barbara, CA. A city with which I'm intimately familiar because I grew up there and return to visit every year. When Psych shows the police station, for example, it is definitely not the Santa Barbara Police Station. No, I've never been arrested or spent time in the police station, but my best friend's father's law office is a block away from the police station and I used to spend time with my friend at her dad's office.

The city streets shown on Psych are not the city streets of Santa Barbara. Nor are the beach scenes. Santa Barbara has a very distinctive style.

On an episode yesterday, one of the characters was telling the police he'd eaten at a restaurant on On-new-paw-moo. The name of the street is actually Anapamu, pronounced Anna-pu-moo. See the difference? If they're going to pepper the show with the names of actual streets in Santa Barbara they should at least get the pronunciation correct.

On another episode a character is tossed into Cachuma Lake, except not. The lake they used wasn't even close to Cachuma--I know I spent several summers attending camp at Cachuma Lake.

Turns out the show isn't even filmed in the US. Now most people wouldn't notice the discrepancies. But, for me, it completely loses credibility because I know what it's showing is false. They should've set the show in a fictitious city.

My point? When writing fiction, it's important to have facts straight to have the credibility factor. Not all readers would pick up on a discrepancy in setting, but for those who do, you'll lose them as readers. So, for me, I need to get my facts right when I set a story in a real town.

As for Psych? The discrepancies about the setting bug me enough that I'm not interested in watching it again. See how that works?

Friday, February 20, 2009

No Murmuring

Nephi was commanded by the Lord to build a ship. Though he didn’t know how, he willingly worked to build the boat. After Nephi constructed the ship, amid his brothers’ mocking and ridicule, the family boarded it to make their journey across the ocean. While at sea, some of the family members made “merry, insomuch that they began to dance, and to sing, and to speak with much rudeness, yea even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither; yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness” (1 Nephi 18:9).

When Nephi attempted to speak to his family in soberness they became angry with him. So angry that Laman and Lemuel took Nephi and bound him with cords. They bound him so tightly it caused his wrists and ankles to swell. Once Nephi was bound, the liahona stopped working and a great storm developed insomuch that it beat back the ship for three days.

Nephi witnessed all of this, but was powerless because he was bound. Yet, he said, “Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions” (1 Nephi 18:16). This statement illustrates the character of the prophet Nephi.

As I read this account, I realized how applicable that statement is to my own life. How have I reacted to afflictions? Have I kept my faith in God?

When one of my daughters was born, we had to return to the hospital the day after we brought her home because she had a fever. While we drove to the ER I desperately prayed that she’d be okay and we’d be able to go right back home. As soon as the ER doctors heard she had a fever we were rushed back to a room and she was immediately hooked up to an IV. An ER doctor asked permission to give her a spinal tap because he believed she had meningitis. During the procedure, I prayed the doctor would be able to find what he needed. He didn’t. He couldn’t extract any fluid.

I prayed she wouldn’t have to stay in the hospital. She did.

I prayed the doctors would know what was wrong. They didn’t.

I prayed she wouldn’t need any more antibiotics. She did.

I prayed the nurses could find a vein for her IV so she wouldn’t need a pick line in her neck. They couldn’t.

When the doctor came to tell us she’d have to be life-flighted to another hospital, I felt broken. I was afraid to pray because up to that point, the opposite of what I prayed for seemed to be what happened. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I had a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

The pediatrician who had unsuccessfully tried to do a second spinal tap on her asked for permission to try a third time. He told us that if we could extract enough spinal fluid and it was clear we could rule out meningitis and we wouldn’t have to fly her to the other hospital. I was at a crossroads. I knew, deep down, that Heavenly Father answered prayers and couldn’t understand why he didn’t seem to hear mine. I had to decide if I was going to murmur because of my afflictions or put my faith in prayer.

I decided to pray. Moments after we finished kneeling on the hospital room floor, the doctor entered with a big smile. He’d extracted three vials worth of fluid and it was clear. She did not have to be air-lifted and the next day we discovered she had a urinary tract infection and could be treated with a simple antibiotic by mouth.

Unfortunately, I have murmured at other times. I’ve complained, usually about insignificant things, about things that don’t matter. I need to be like Nephi. I want to be like Nephi. I want to have that complete faith that when afflictions arise, and they most certainly will, I will, “ . . . look unto my God, and . . . praise him all the day long; and . . . not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions” (1 Nephi 18:16).

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

American Idol Favorites

Here's my update on American Idol. After listening to all of the contestants last night I voted for:

Michael Sarver--I just like him. I didn't like his song choice and I wasn't crazy about his performance, but I just like him and want him to go on in the competition.

Danny Gokey--Love this guy. I love his voice and his style. And, of course, his personal story is so compelling, I just want him to do well. But, I think he has a great chance of winning the whole competition because he has such incredible talent. He's awesome.

Ricky Braddy--What a fantastic performance last night. He's had no press up to this point and when he sang, wow, he was amazing. He definitely deserves to move on. He was in a different class than most of the other contestants.

I was not impressed with any of the girls. I think that Tatiana's behavior totally detracts from her singing. Watching her exhausts me. And that goes for the young man that's the drama king. Too much drama for me. Just sing and showcase your talent, don't do the drama thing.

It'll be interesting to see the results show.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How Did You Celebrate?

It was wonderful having a long weekend. A break from school, seminary, fixing sack lunches, and trying to beat the school bus to the end of my driveway is always a welcome relief.

Since it was the end of the trimester (yes, we have trimesters. Why? Couldn't tell you, but it makes for much confusion when transferring credits from college-level classes at the high school over to a college on the semester system) on Thursday, we also had Friday off. After doing chores, of course, some of my kids went to their cousin's to celebrate birthdays. My husband and I went to the temple (which is in another state) and attended an endowment session. The cool thing (well, it's always great to go to the temple) is that we had family names. The person for whom I was a proxy was not a direct ancestor, but I knew her and I could see her face throughout the session. This is when genealogy work really feels personal. Afterwards, my honey and I had a nice dinner for our Valentine's date.

Saturday involved basketball games and a Valentine's celebration. My younger girls and I put on facials. I think the boys all wondered why green-faced women were walking around the house. We then all made pizza and watched a family movie. My son wanted to watch a "boy" movie, but I insisted we watch something Valentineish so it was, "Sabrina," with Harrison Ford. A very romantic movie.

Yesterday I tossed my pride aside, donned a bathing suit, and we all went swimming at our public pool. We had a a great time. Though I wished I looked better in a swimsuit, sometimes it's just more important to please the kids than myself.

All in all, a fun weekend. The only downside? We all had to go back to work, seminary, school, fixing sack lunches, laundry, and cleaning today. How long until spring break?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Housekeeping and Homemaking

There is a difference between housekeeping and homemaking.


This includes cleaning and caring for the house. Keeping an orderly house is important for the Spirit to be able to dwell there. “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:119). The Lord wants us to be organized and to keep our houses orderly because his Spirit cannot dwell in chaos.

I know that when my house is messy I feel stressed. I don’t feel like I can concentrate on anything except trying to get the house clean. With such a large family, it’s quite a challenge to keep the house tidy (especially with two young children I affectionately refer to as Tornado #1 and Tornado #2). I do assign each child chores that need to be accomplished every day because it takes everyone’s cooperation to keep the house clean. I simply don’t have enough time in the day to clean up after so many children and also do laundry, cook, pay the bills, and the other things I need to do to keep the house running smoothly. Besides, it’s important to teach children to work and to contribute to the family by helping with the housework.

When the house is clean, I feel so much better. I love to see an empty kitchen sink, vacuumed carpet, and sparkling bathrooms. It’s brought me to tears when I’ve come downstairs to find that my kids have washed dishes and cleaned the kitchen, especially if I haven’t had to beg them to do it.

Housecleaning is really no fun. Who wants to swish a dirty toilet or scrub boogers off the wall? But, it’s essential to keep the house orderly to have a house of God.


Homemaking is taking care of the spiritual, emotional, and temporal needs of each member of the family. It includes teaching, leading, loving, and serving members of the family. If homemaking were a career, it would include: nursing, psychology, linguistics, mathematical expertise, taxi-driving skills, juggling, reading specialist, humorist, writer, scriptorian, organizer, fundraiser, mind-reader, encourager, and comforter. Of course, those who study homemaking are usually expert diaper-changers, nose-wipers, and baby-talkers.

Homemaking encompasses the divine role of being a mother. The world seems to mock those who take their role of mother seriously. There are no worldly awards or recognition for those who spend their lives devoted to guiding and rearing righteous children. In fact, many look down on women who choose to stay home rather than pursue a career.

David O. McKay once said, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” At the end of our lives we will not be asked how much money we made, what kind of house we lived in, or what career we had. We will be asked if we raised our children in the gospel, if we had family prayer and scripture study, if we kept our covenants, and if we, by example, taught our children to be like the Savior. We will never do anything more important than what we do within the confines of our own homes. The influence of a righteous mother (and father) can be felt for generations.

Both housekeeping and homemaking have a place in our lives and both are intertwined. As we strive to do both, Heavenly Father will bless us and magnify us and at the end of our lives he will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant . . . enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feminist Movement

I read an article yesterday that claimed that the feminist movement was the worst thing to happen to women. I have to agree.

I can remember the days of ERA and women shouting for their right to be the same as men. I remember worrying that I'd never be able to use a public restroom because I certainly didn't want to share a restroom with a strange man. I can remember the chanting, the bra burning, and the demands. I never quite understood it because I loved being a girl. I loved wearing the girly things (though I could do without the bra most of the time) and have never wanted to be the same as a man.

I think women who truly feel slighted by men haven't fully grasped the glorious role we have as women. We are all equal, but equal doesn't mean the same. I don't want to be the same as a man and I don't think our roles are interchangeable.

Women are, by nature and design, more nurturing. That's not to say there aren't men who are nurturing, but by and large women are the nurturers and that's why we are entrusted with bearing and rearing the children. Women are more emotional than men (though I did see quite an emotional young man on American Idol the other night) and, sometimes, that makes it harder to make an objective decision. We tend to make decisions based on how we feel. I've made that mistake many times in dealing with my kids. If I'm very emotional about an issue it's always better to let my husband handle it because he can be more objective than I can.

And so here we are, trying to make women into men. Why? Why is it such a bad thing to want to be a woman, to want to bear and rear children, to want to embrace our womanness? Why is it bad to want to be different than men? Why is it that being a mom is somehow less important than being an executive? Isn't that backwards?

What has the feminist movement earned us except that men don't treat women with respect as they once did. Of course, there are men like my honey who respect women, but there's been a change in men's attitudes toward women. Families have disintegrated as women have felt compelled to compete with men in the workplace. More women choose to be independent and not marry or have children. More women see raising their children as a chore instead of a privilege or see marriage as disposable. We've lost sight of our divine roles in our attempt to become the same as men.

For those who want to compete with men, have at it. I surely won't stand in your way, but don't assume that I want to do the same.

I'm perfectly happy having my husband open the pickle jar, pull out my chair, and protect me from all the dragons of the world. He is my knight in shining armor and I'm completely happy being his damsel in distress (well, hopefully I'm not always in distress). I love being a woman, a wife, a mother, and embracing my femininity which has absolutely nothing to do with the feminist movement.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Manic Monday on Tuesday

I always liked the song, "Manic Monday," probably because that's how I feel every Monday. Actually, I don't even know all the words, I just feel like Mondays are always nuts.

When we were leaving for church my kids all said, "Hey, we can see the dirt in the field now. The snow has finally all melted." Wrong thing to say. When we got out of church it was snowing and by late Sunday afternoon we couldn't see any brown in the fields. Yesterday it snowed so much my daughter stayed in town with a friend so she didn't have to traverse the dangerous roads. It snowed again during the night and we have about 6-7 inches on the ground now. The roads seem to be clear, but my driveway (1/8 mile long) is treacherous at best. The cleared roads don't so us much good if we can't even get out of the driveway.

And, I ended up having the flu and am finally now feeling better. I hate being sick. I'd much rather take care of sick kids than be sick myself. And, just when I was feeling totally barfy, my youngest decided to have an exploda-diaper all over the place. As if I weren't sick enough, cleaning that up about did me in. Good thing I love him so much.

Yes, I realize it isn't Monday today, but I feel like it is because all that I usually do on Monday to make up for a wild and crazy movie-watching, popcorn-eating, game-playing, kids-chasing weekend was put on hold while I was sick and I did all that make-up work today.

I'm looking forward to a Wonderful Wednesday!

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Tithing: The Windows of Heaven

My son returned home from his mission last summer. Since that time, he’s found that post-mission life can be difficult. With the current economy, finding a job has been hard, if not impossible, for him. He’s been living at home trying to find a job to save some money and move out.

My daughter has been attending college. She took a semester off to work and save money for college. When she returned to college, she found that the tuition costs had increased. She planned to work at the same place she’d worked the year before while attending school. She started working for this same company, but unfortunately it was affected by the economy and one day while she was on her way to work, she received a call telling her not to come in because the company was closed as of that day. To top it off, she was told that her paychecks from the few weeks she worked had been sent to the wrong address and were lost in the mail. My daughter called me in a panic, unsure what to do. She had very little money, no job, and no idea how to pay for food or her tuition. She decided she’d pay her tithing on the small amount she’d earned before the company closed.

My son also decided to pay tithing on a small amount of money he’d earned. The day after he paid his tithing, he received a call for an interview with a company he thought had already hired an employee. Two days later, he received another call for an interview for a different job. He also finally received a refund check he’d been waiting for. A coincidence? I don’t think so.

My daughter call the day after she’d paid her tithing to tell me that the checks that had been lost in the mail suddenly appeared in her account as direct deposits. She also went to her mailbox that day and found a refund check from a past apartment. Now with this money and a small loan, she can make it to the end of the semester. A coincidence? Again, I don’t think so. She told me, “Mom, I will never not pay tithing.”

In Malachi 3:8 we read, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” The Lord takes tithing very seriously, we would be wise to do the same. All that we have is his. He only asks that we give 10 percent back. A small amount compared to what he gives us each day.

The Law of Tithing is a law that must be practiced before the blessings come. We must exercise our faith in it before we can receive the blessings from being obedient to it. Think of what would happen if we all obeyed the Law of Tithing. Think of what we could accomplish if everyone in the United States willingly donated 10 percent of their increase and it was administered properly. We could solve so many problems in this country. We could eradicate hunger, strengthen our cities, repair our roads, educate our children properly, take care of our needs, and as has been my experience, enjoy blessings of abundance. If only we were willing to give the Lord his tenth he would, “open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).

I have a testimony of the Law of Tithing. I’ve seen it work in my own life and in the lives of my children. He truly does open the windows of heaven.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

American Idol Recap

I was disappointed that David Osmond was cut last night. He took it very professionally. I liked his voice and thought he could've done well.

I was happy to see the guy from the oil fields go through to another round. I really like the 16 year-old-girl that was part of the Divas group. She has a beautiful voice and so much talent, especially for such a young girl.

I felt bad for Rose, the blond with dreads. She seemed so sad. I usually feel for the ones that get sent home because I'm sure it feels like the end of their dream--similar to how I felt when my first picture book was rejected (it was about dinosaurs and, boy, am I ever glad it was rejected).

I'd like to say I felt bad that bikini girl was sent home, but I didn't. Proof positive that an ugly attitude can make a beautiful girl unattractive. Perhaps, she'll find success in another area where that kind of attitude is acceptable. There's a difference between being confident and being arrogant.

I also didn't feel bad that the woman with bright red hair was cut after she was so rude to her group and afterwards cussed out the other girl in the group. I guess kindness is also a talent--some have it and some don't.

American Idol is about talent, not beauty. It's about commitment to a dream, not singing when it's convenient. It's about drive and ambition to improve your talent even when you're tired or sick. I love to watch these kids improve from week to week and I especially love to see them nail their songs. I get goose bumps (my daughter calls them cold pimples) when one of them really gets a song right. It's inspiring to watch them work so hard to achieve their dreams.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Jessica Simpson and Mom Jeans

Have you seen all the criticism of Jessica Simpson since she's gained some weight? It's ridiculous. Our society is so obsessed with weight and physical looks. Jessica Simpson is a beautiful woman, yet all the media can do is focus on her weight gain. It's especially ridiculous because even with her weight gain, she's still thinner than the majority of women in the US. What message does that send? Are those of us who wear more than a size 6 not worthy to live in our society?

Where's the emphasis on healthy eating or a healthy lifestyle? Why does thin equal healthy? The message the media sends to our teenage girls is that if they aren't skinny they're basically worthless (yes, I have teenage daughters and this does affect them even though I try really hard to counteract it). That couldn't be further from the truth.

All of us have gifts and talents to share no matter what size we are. We are all children of Heavenly Father and he loves each of us. Why can't we focus on what's inside of us instead of what's outside? Let's concentrate on developing compassion, unconditional love, faith, obedience, and those things that will lead us back to Heavenly Father. I really don't think he'll pull out a scale and ask us to stand on it on judgment day.

Yes, it's important to exercise and eat healthy just like we've been counseled. It's important to maintain a healthy weight--not an unrealistic weight--and to take care of our bodies. But, it's something completely different when we're consumed with our weight and/or physical appearance. We should do our best to get and stay in shape and eat good foods, but then we need to find joy in who we are and love ourselves no matter what the scale says.

And the mom jeans? Yep, I wear mom jeans and proud of it. Here's a little heads up on the whole mom jeans vs. hip huggers. Hip huggers don't look good on women and, in fact, look good on very few girls. Hip huggers create love handles and encourage belly fat to hang over the top of the pants. Not very attractive in my opinion. Give me mom jeans any day and let me keep my extra flesh inside my jeans instead of rolling over the top of them. I am more than my weight and more than my mom jeans. I am a daughter of God.

Jessica Simpson--you go, girl. You sing and perform and find joy in who you are. You look great. Don't let the media tell you any different.

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