Tuesday, November 4, 2014


About a month ago we were driving behind a garbage truck on our way to school. Sammy jumped with excitement to see the garbage truck and declared that he wanted to be a Garbage man. Bradley my oldest quickly responded by snickering, "YUK! That is a STINKY JOB!". Sammy said no more, but I interrupted and I told Sammy that if he wanted to be a Garbage man that he could be whatever he wanted, as long as he was honest, hard working, and could support his future family.  I told him I would be honored to be the mother of a righteous garbageman. I think I have learned what President Uchtdorf taught in this last Priesthood session when he said, "When I was younger, I was impressed by those who were educated, accomplished, successful, and applauded by the world. But over the years, I have come to the realization that I am far more impressed by those wonderful and blessed souls who are truly good and without guile."
After my boys were dropped off at school I could not shake off my mind what my oldest son had said. I wasn't so concern with Sammy being hurt by his brother's remarks because Sammy knows what he wants and does not get bothered by what others think of him. However, my concern turned quickly to my oldest. I wondered what had I done as a parent to make him think that any job is less or more than any other job. I quickly thought of how I could make a correction. Recently we have been focusing on hard work, last night we had a lesson working hard in our home. I don't want my boys to ever look down on a job that can earn them an honest living. When I was in college I learned too quickly that many of my college mates were fixing to be thieves in suits. I could barely pull a A in Calculus and some of these college kids who had not ever stepped a foot on campus suddenly Aced a test!! I wanted to give these same students the benefit of the doubt, I would tell myself that maybe they were geniuses but that was not always the case.  I saw so much dishonesty and disregard for hard work that it was disappointing. I have come to the conclusion as a parent that I would rather have an honest, hard working garbage man as a son than a thief in a suit. I tell my kids that the key to success is not always being a genius, because there are geniuses who are lazy, the key to success is being honest, and working hard, being smart is just a bonus. I don't know if all my kids will enjoy hard work as much as Sammy does, but I sure do hope that they can see the blessings that come from being and honest hard worker. These days I am not impressed easily by those with wealth or are accomplished, but I am impressed by those who try to do good. Recently a friend of mine took a new job, really his dream job where he could do what he always wanted to do with his career. His previous employer was willing to increase his pay substantially to keep my friend in his old job. My friend did not budge, he explained to his old employer that it was not about the money. The previous employer could not believe my friend was willing to leave such a great offer, the truth is that it was never about the money, my friend was scouted by a family friendly company who was giving him more than money could give him, time with his family and a dream job. In fact, the bonus part of his job is that they will now be closer to their extended family. People like this friend are the ones who really impress me!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rookie Moms

I have no doubt that people cross our lives for a reason. A few years ago I met another young mom (younger mom) whose family looked a lot like mine. She had three children all under the age of five, she stayed home with the kids while her husband was hard at work.  I knew we share some similarities but I NEVER knew that our differences would make us such good friends.  As a creature of habit I did not get out much, AND the thought of spending more than $10.00 at a fast food restaurant was riveting. I was an extremely cautious mom( still am but a bit more relax now, I hope), never taking my kids anywhere that I could not control the environment. As kindergarten approached for our oldest child our friendship also became closer. We were both rookie mom's of kindergartens and we helped each other  she helped along the way. That first year was especially difficult for me and for my son, but I was happy to have a friend who could empathy with me. During the first two years of our kids academic path we saw each other every morning and every afternoon. We would catch up when we dropped the kids off to school, and then we would meet at Sonic for Happy Hour after school with the rest of the troop. We would meet at Ikea on Tuesdays, and just to change it up we would go to McD's to count box tops. My dear friend introduced me to processed food and to one of the best times of my life and my kids life. Thanks to this dear friend our Christmas' will never be the same, she introduced me to the Elf on the Shelf. She also showed our family how to be secret agents while we secretly served a family from the ward. My friend introduced me to books, yes, kids books. She got me hooked on Scholastics. I never thought I would love to read kids books so much. She especially taught me how to love to serve my children without being compelled to. I learned so much from this friend, especially to be a better mom, and a kinder wife. Recently we learned that our friends are moving and they are making a big move, one where we will not be able to meet at Ikea or go and get shaved ice on a hot summer day, or meet at the pool. Our dear friends are moving far but no matter how far they go we will always cherish our great adventures together and we will miss the looks we both got from people when they saw two moms with 8 kids. My heart aches to see our friends go, but I also couldn't be happier for them.  Texas will not be same without the Barlows.
Thank you for letting us tag along  with you all for the last 3 years. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

10 Wonderful Years Downs, and Eternity to Go..............

Almost 11 years ago I met a wonderful young man, who I thought was an investigator of our faith. I thought he was someone who needed help, and as a sympathy dater, I was going to help him and fix him (like a project). We met at a friends party and then we saw each other again at church on Sunday. He asked me out on a date and I accepted. Our first date...well, lets just say  that I thought our date unforgettable and regrettable. In retrospect, it actually was very comical. 
It all started with two people in love.......
My future husband thought it would be funny to take me to Esthers Follies comedy club. I should have caught on a little sooner that my date was a jokester, but instead I took offense and I slammed the door when he dropped me off at home. I swore I would never see him again. I called those days The Mormon Zealous days, those lasted roughly 6 years. Knowing that I was not the only fish in the sea, so I gave Brad another chance, and the rest well, it is history. We got engaged two months after our fist date and we got married 9 months later. Like I mentioned earlier I thought I needed to help him, but as it turns out it was I who needed help fixing. Brad has been the most wonderful person in my life. He never forced me to do anything I never wanted. He grew up knowing something I never really did until we were married, he knew Heavenly Father loved him and he wanted me to know that Heavenly Father Loved me the same way too. 
The wedding day
Somehow, he always knew that I could do more with my life with the help of my Heavenly Father than I could on my own. A month after we got married he gave me a digital camera, and then for our first Christmas he bought me a sewing machine, our second Christmas he gave me a laptop. Some mother's day he made me a craft area in our office, he built a pot rack for me, bought me awesome car mats. As I go down the list of things he gives me, they are things that help my life be easier with four boys. My husband is practical not so much romantic, but he also is always thinking of me and the boys. 

Our latest investment was our motor home, and  we can't wait to put so many miles of happiness on it. He is always thinking of what can make our lives easier and happier. Years later, these are the gifts I treasure most. I have sewn curtains for my home, made church bags for the kids, and bibs for the babies. My mini van's carpet never look filthy  thanks to my awesome mats. I have also developed a sense of creativity that I never knew I had. Brad gives me all I need to be the best mother for our children, and I could never ask for anything more. Thank you honey for the last 10 years, thank you for being the jokester in the family who makes me smile and relax a little, for helping me find solutions, and never giving up on me. Thank you for having strong convictions on marriage and on families. Thank you for our four boys, one dog, and two tortoises. Thank you for choosing me. 

Me and Bradley 1-17-2006
Brad and Sammy 9-19-2008
Me and Carter 3-08-2011
Baby Lincoln 9-24-2013


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Seating in the Hot Seat

We just got back from an awesome family get away to Garner State Park. It was a last minute trip but it was well worth it. The boys got to hike, and fish, and play!! Brad and I got to get away from the world for a little while and to come together as a family!! We truly had an amazing time! It was our first time to Garner and I promise you it will not be the last!!Anyhow, on our way back home we decided to swing by good old Laredo and pay my mom and friends a (short) visit. It was nice to look through old pictures and to reminisce with our friends and family about the old times and to catch up!! We had a lot of catching up to do!! On our way back home we have to go through the check point and tons of memories flooded my mind about the check point.  Brad asked all the kids to get down from the camper and get in their seats with their seat belts and he asked me to open the blinds on the RV. As we waited in the long check point line we saw tons of 18-wheelers and there we saw the Texas Hold'Em campaign sign. Texas Hold'Em is a Border Patrol initiative that aims to reduce the trafficking of contraband in commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers, buses and freight carriers by using existing state laws to revoke the commercial driver's license of a person convicted of a smuggling-related offense. According to the Texas Transportation code, a person who holds a CDL is disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for life if convicted of using any motor vehicle during the commission of a felony. Just alone in the Laredo border they have revoked 455 CDLs. Crossing the check points or border is not something I do very often these days and but it was somethings I did almost on a daily basis when I was a kid until we moved to Laredo, Texas.  I was very familiar with Immigration Agents and Border Patrols; they were supposed to be to me like the mailman is to you. Unfortunately, I did not view the IAs and BPs as my friendly mailman, and it was not because they were not nice or friendly it was because I was taught to fear them instead of respecting them. Growing up I remember always getting all pumped up to cross the border. We had to get our border crossing card ready, and get our seat belts on because wearing seat belts were not enforced in Mexico. I also remember hiding the unpitted avocadoes under my seat and possibly some bottles of rum or tequila to avoid paying the tax. I guess some memories don't go away, they are just store in a very far away file and then years later they come flooding back.  Now, years later I realize why I feared these men and women who are only their job, and a good job they do, I am grateful to have these agents protecting our borders!! I feared them because I was always seating in the hot seat, although crossing unpitted avocadoes, pork lard, or tequila bottles may only get you a very small fine, I knew it was wrong and it was illegal but how did I argue that with my mother.  You don't!! I remember wanting to bust out and tell the BP or IA "We have avocadoes or a bottle of tequila under my seat!!!" when he would politely ask, "Do you have anything to declare?” I just wanted the lies to stop, I did not want to lie anymore, and I was fed up with it!! I don't know why my mom thought it was really worth it, it wasn't, it never is, but people still do it. It’s dumb and all it does it makes that kid that seats in the hot seat feel awful about themselves.  This time crossing the check point was a completely different experience, my heart was not pounding and my hands were not sweating it was great to see those men and women in green suits and see the dogs walking around the cars. My kids had a completely different experience than the one I had growing up. We had nothing to fear because we had done nothing wrong. I have learned over the years that honesty is always the best policy and that law enforcement should not be feared but respected!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Creating Unity

On my way to the San Antonio Zoo with the boys I got a phone call asking me to be part of Women's Conference. I a little worried because I did not think I could put it together in such a short notice with all that happens around here on a daily basis. I of course did not decline and I took on the challenge. A little before Thanksgiving I decided that I needed to step it up and be more diligent with my Family Home Evening to help my oldest boy be prepared for his baptism. Family Home Evening was not always a priority in our household, it was more of a chore than an opportunity to have fun and learn as a family. I had tried to make efforts with FHE but failed many times, when my kids were younger it was always a disaster and it never had the long lasting effect I wanted. I think a big part of the problem was that I did not understand children, I did not play with my kids like I do now!!  Anyhow, I started to observe how other families do theirs and I started to love it. I have a friend who is an absolute gem in my life, she taught me how to be a fun mom, I needed to work on that that and once I learned I was enjoying preparing FHE for my family. I know I have a lot more to learn from Family Home Evening but I am very happy with what we have been doing so far. We will probably venture off more in the near future. Once I had a better attitude about FHE I started to get more creative with my calling too which is in our Nursery. I started to get more crafty there too. Nursery reminded me that I needed to have some fun in my life, and children are so filled with fun and joy!! So back to my class from Women's Conference. I was asked to speak on creating unity in the family, while I prepared for this class and I prepared for Nursery  I learned a few things. One of the things that hit home for me was that sometimes I was seeing my kids as an inconvenience because they would get in the way of what I  wanted to do (work out, sew, craft, keep the house clean, do big home improvement projects, etc). Once I changed my attitude about my children I began to treasure my children. I have had some real fun lately with the boys listening to the funny things they say. I am so glad I am finally listening to my kids, because lately my kids have had some interesting things to say and some of which are big red flags to me. Ever since I chose to listen to my children I have noticed that my TV is not on as much and we are actually doing things together. I never thought this day would come!! I won't lie sometimes it takes all my creativity to pull them away from "screens" (smart phones, tablets, computers, TVs) but once we are on board on an activity we just roll with it. I think our family is taking a turn for the good, I am glad I have my children who help me be accountable and help me be a better person (mother). They are precious and I am lucky to have them.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Modern Pioneers with Pioneer Attitudes

Modern Pioneers with Pioneer Attitude

My name is Maggie Summers. You probably don’t see much of me because I am mostly undercover serving some extra ordinary group of people. I can’t go into too much in to details without getting into trouble, but I can tell you this much, the people I work with are mostly under 36 inches tall, which of course I love because I tower over them. These little people I work with love to learn and don’t mind if you are corky and silly, in fact the sillier and corkier the better. I have been serving this in awesome assignment (calling) for almost 9 months and I love every minute of it. I am very grateful to have this assignment (calling) because it has taught me to go back to the basics in the gospel. This place where I work sometimes is considered a glorified daycare, RATS!! I just let a little too much information out!! Well, there is no turning back. In fact it is not a daycare at all; it is classroom where I am able to teach the gospel to little people in tiny doses!! Which is perfect for me because as a secret agent I can’t teach my students lengthy lessons, they have to be 3 minutes tops or under if my lessons are any longer, I lose my little troops.  And we I can’t have that. My missions are constantly changing, that is what I love about this job. I have also made some very interesting discoveries in my assignment; I learned that some of my troops like to make their fishies float with the water I give them at snack time. Oops!! There, now I’ve done it, you’ve probably guessed my secret job, I am a Nursery Leader!! Shh!! I hope I did not say that too loud... But I trust that you all will keep my secret safe, this top secret mission I do is SERIOUS stuff, you can’t mess around with it, and I believe my mission is far from over. I personally don’t mind in if I am there for the rest of my life-HINT HINT BISHOP!! Anyhow, I am not here to talk about my normal undercover mission, I am here though on a different assignment. I was asked to speak on Pioneer Attitude.

Let’s talk about who a Pioneer is?
According to Sister Beckham, the YW General President back in 1995, said the following,“ A pioneer, is someone who has touched another’s life”, and I would like to add that it is someone who has set a great example for you, has endured hardships well, and despite all the tribulations in their lives their faith is unwavering!! The biggest pioneer in my life has to be my mother-in-law. Micki, many of you know her, she joined the church at 16 a little after she lost her mother and her father became very distant. Can you imagine being a teenager and not having the support you need at that tender age? I can’t!! So Micki faced some serious hardships and broke great barriers, at a tender age. She then married my Power House father-in-law Sam. They married in the Salt Lake City Temple. While married Micki and Sam went through a series of difficult financial hardships, they lost jobs, Sam got seriously injured in a work accident, and like many self-employed people they had their fair share of bad luck in business, and had to move away from family. To make ends meet, my mother-in-law also had an in home daycare. I think that Brad my husband is probably the child that cost my in-laws the most, when he was 10 his appendix rupture and they did not have health insurance, so they had to pay out of pocket. Brad also tells me of the first house his parents bought, it was 1200 sq. feet. They did not have much, and they went through a lot, but despite all those hardships they still managed to raise 5 wonderful kids who have all been married in the Temple. I am so blessed to have one of those 5 in my life!!  When I first came to Brad’s parents’ house, I asked him, does your mom always keep her home this beautiful, and he said he has never known it to be any different. The amazing part about my mother-in-law is that she radiates, her attitude is absolutely beautiful, she has found joy in the simple things of life, and she is the strength to the whole family as she uplifts us all with her positive attitude!! We meet in her home almost every Sunday and she gathers us together to help each other. I love that about Micki, she is awesome and she is solid!!

Elder Dallin H.Oaks said it better in his talk at the 1989 General Conference Titled Modern Pioneer, The path of modern pioneers is not EASY. Burdens carried in the heart can be just as heavy as those pulled in handcarts.”
This leads me right into my second point, MODERN PIONEER HEARTSHIPS!! Brothers and Sisters Everyone is going through something, so ponder on this question, what are the things that weigh heavy on your heart?  I am going to list just a few that I happened to notice on the most recent Table of Content of the Ensign and on the Mormon Channel.
a.       Hope and Healing After Divorce
b.      Faithful Parents of Wayward Children
c.       The Lord’s Standard of Morality (Chastity)
d.      Self-Reliance/Financial Responsibility
e.       Wholesome Language (Appropriate Internet Usage/Gossip)
f.       Teaching Children the Gospel
g.      Get Informed/Get Involved-Stand By Your Faith
h.      Finding Peace In Widowhood
i.        The Light at the End of the Tunnel (Depression)
j.        Bullying-Stop It
k.      Continue in Patience
l.        Infertility, Faith, and Personal Growth
m.    Unemployment
n.      Addiction-Pornography

Last April during priesthood session Elder Hales said the following, “Young men, (and I want to extend this to all of us old and young), your fathers and grandfathers never faced the temptations that you face on a regular basis. You are living in the last days. If your father wanted to get in trouble, he had to go searching for it. Not Anymore!! Today TEMPTATION finds YOU! Please remember that!! Satan desires to have you, and “sin lieth at the door.” Brothers and Sisters I know that these hardships are true, they hurt us and the tear us down, but we must be prepared to overcome these tribulations.

Elder Hales said the following about overcoming tribulations, “Sometimes we become the lightning rod, and we must “take the heat” for holding to God’s standard and doing His work. I testify that we not to be afraid if we are grounded in His doctrine. We may experience misunderstanding, criticism, and even false accusation, but we are never alone. Our Savior was “despised and rejected of men. It is our sacred privilege to stand with HIM!!”

Like I mentioned earlier, we are all going through something all the time (let us be kind and patient with each other) the key is to endure all of these “somethings” well!!  Elder Oaks said the following about enduring it well,Many of our members are struggling valiantly to try to do it all. They support themselves and provide for their families. They strive to carry out the responsibilities of their church callings. They spend many hours transporting their children to numberless church and school activities. They try to be generous with money and time for worthy causes in the community. They strive to improve themselves. They hope, after all of this, to have some little time left for togetherness and recreation.
One sister wrote, “We are having great difficulty [just] trying to cope.” Many could say the same. Yet they do cope. They carry on without complaint, even when they have just cause for complaint. And even when they fall short, the Lord blesses them for their righteous desires (seeMosiah 4:24–25), for, as King Benjamin taught, “it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength” (Mosiah 4:27).

And then he said this, “Like the noble young mothers who postpone the pursuit of their personal goals in order to provide the needs of their children, they sacrifice immediate pleasures to keep commitments that are eternal. They accept callings and, in the service of others, they willingly give their time and sometimes their lives.”
 This hit home for me, I don’t always postpone my personal goals. If I want to go somewhere I just get in my car and go, if I want to distract myself from my duties I just get my phone or get on line, if I want to buy something, I can get it now!! If I want to learn how to do something, I get on-line and get a tutorial. If I want to vent, I go to Facebook! If I want to stay fit, I can spend hours at the gym and have someone else watch my kids. Surprisingly Elder Oaks was talking to the women in the 1989 yet his counsel still applies today. I am so blessed to see that we still have some of these sisters because they have managed to overcome these distractions so much better than me and they are my heroes. I thank you for YOUR RIGHTEOUS EXAMPLE.  Sister Beckham said it better, “When you are promoting righteousness, you’re being a hero in someone else’s life.” Brother and Sister let us be like these mothers let us be heroes who sacrifice immediate pleasures to keep commitments that are eternal. We can cope; others have done it with much less than we have today. Let us not give up!!

So how do We Become a Modern Pioneer?
Elder Hales posed this question,
How will you resist Satan’s aggressive tactics? Put on the whole armor of God.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”2

Elder Hales also suggested the following:
Ironically, standing strong sometimes means avoiding and even fleeing from the world. The Savior declared, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Joseph of Egypt ran from the temptations of Potiphar’s wife, and Lehi left behind Jerusalem and took his family into the wilderness.

I say GET UNPLUGGED!! GET OFF LINE!! AND Get Online with the Savior!!
Mary Walker a Facebook friend of mine, challenged herself to leave Facebook for a while, she is doing a 40 day off Facebook. I think she is very brave for doing that. She also mentioned that she will be cleaning her smart phone and getting rid of some apps that may be distracting to her. I am very excited to see what will happen with her. She really is inspiring. I recently got a smart phone that I actually use and like and have been very careful as to what I put on my phone, I think that if I put too much on it I will slow it down, so I am very careful as to what I put on it. 
Never has this the following been more true to me, “Extraordinary things are made by ORIDANARY PEOPLE. Mary is ordinary but she will do some extraordinary things with her new found time off-line!!
 Elder Oaks said the following:
The fruits of the gospel issue from every honest and good heart, without regard to past origins or current positions in the Church. As President Clark declared, “There is no aristocracy of birth in this Church; it belongs equally to the highest and the lowliest.” (J. Reuben Clark: Selected Papers,p. 73.)

One of the best qualities in any of the sons and daughters of God, whatever their circumstance, is a determination to become better. Since we all have a need to improve, we should always be willing to recognize goodness and encourage improvement in everyone.

Brothers and Sisters, keeping our covenants will not free our lives from lives’ problems, but it will enable us to cohesively focus on solutions for those hardships.  I had a feeling a wrench was going to be thrown in my plans. Recently I felt like I was doing all I have been asked to do, I am say my prayers, family prayers, reading the scriptures, doing Family Home Evening, I am not a criminal and I help others with my time, well just yesterday after a long Saturday we checked the mail and I found a nice little red camera ticket for not stopping at a red light while I turned right!! I honestly did not know I had to stop on a red when you turn right, so many of those tickets may be filling my mailbox. Yikes!! I really hope not! Don’t get a ticket!! What I am trying to say is that even when our lives are in tune with the Savior we are still going to face bumps in the road, and what is even more ironic is that I was on the way to do a Visiting Teaching appointment. I was on the Lord’s errand. About 8 years ago, I also got a ticket for speeding on my way to the Temple. I have learned that these bumps on the road should not stop us from keeping our covenants, they will be there and we have to learn how to overcome them.

I know the Gospel is real, I know my Savior Lives and that he died for our Sins. I know he wants us to make it. He wants us to be Modern Pioneers with Pioneer Attitudes!!
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ –Amen. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Marriage more than just about LOVE

I knew this moment was going to come when my children were going to start wondering about relationships and marriage. This morning my 8 year asked me a question that I SHOULD be prepared to answer at the drop of a hat. But I am a rookie mother so I answered as best as I COULD. So we were having breakfast in our kitchen and suddenly we heard a squeaking cry from my bedroom, it was my 4 month old baby boy, he was ready to be changed and fed again for the 10th time that morning. Anyhow, my son in the kitchen said, "Mom, we should name said baby Mr. Squeakers and then he can marry our 1 year old girl cousin (who is also known for her squeaking), and they can be Mr. & Ms. Squeaker!!". My son is full of brilliant ideas, but I DID have to say something not purposely trying to shatter his new found idea, I replied "Well, that is cute but we can't marry our cousins." He quickly asked WHY? And here is where I ALMOST stumbled, without going into details I quickly replied, "Because it's weird!" Could I have come up with a better answer, maybe, but I was put on the spot and my brain does not seem to process these kind of subjects well so early in the morning. My son was satisfied with my answer and did not pursue the questioning any longer.  I know that these kind of questions are on the rise in the in our home and I want to give all my boys the best answers. I want to allow them to form their own opinions.  After he finished eating breakfast, I quickly thought of a the an ad the LGBT  community has posted on Facebook, " Marriage is not religion, atheist get married, Marriage is not about procreation, the infertile marry, Marriage is not about finance, it can weave poverty, marriage is about "LOVE", and that is beautiful." When I read this ad, I thought well that is pretty darn catchy, but is it true? So if its' about "LOVE" why is my son's idea of cousins getting married so strange. It used to be kind of funny when people said well if you are from Tennesse you can marry your cousin.  Sometimes my 5 year old says he wants to marry our dog because he "LOVEs" her. If marriage is about "LOVE", why can't we marry our parents, siblings, or grandparents, don't we love them too?  So maybe marriage is more than just about "LOVE". What do you think? I would like to hear from you, and what you would have done in my shoes, if you don't want to post online, you may message me privately, this is a very sensitive subject so if you choose to reply to my message please be coordial.