Creating a Family Mission Statement

Right after Erman and I got engaged, we began making lists–lists of things we needed to start saving and preparing for, things to get or get rid of once we merged our lives, things we needed to do for our wedding, and people we wanted to celebrate with.

But our lists weren’t just about the wedding day. From the start, Erman and I have tried to focus on a bigger picture, beyond the “I dos,” setting our sights on the kind of marriage, home, and family we want to create together.

When I was in college, my best friend/roommate’s father tragically passed away. At the funeral, inside the memorial program, their family mission statement was printed alongside their family photo. I had never heard of a family mission statement, but I could see how their family’s focus was actualized in the lives the children were living. I loved the idea so much, I filed it away as something I wanted to do with my own someday-family.

So one Sunday, Erman and I sat down to figure out what our family’s overarching focus would be. We started by just brainstorming–spouting out words and ideas, goals that were important to us, and characteristics we wanted to exhibit in our own lives and teach our children.

fullsizerenderAfter our brainstorm, we combined like ideas and I wrote up a master list. Because it’s something we want to teach to our children, I tried to find a clever way to present it so they could remember it easily. I started with a numbered list that rhymed, then tried to make it a poem, and finally settled on an acrostic, where the first letter of each line spells our last name.

Each word was carefully chosen and we plan to recite our mission statement each week at the start of our Family Home Evening activities. I later realized that there are 11 letters in our last name. Those 11 lines, plus our family motto (written at the bottom of our document) equals 12, which means I’m also having grand visions of focusing on one “value” each month some year down the road when our kids are older and we can memorize scriptures, meaningful quotes, and discuss the ideas and lessons behind each point.

I ended up changing “Family Mission Statement” to “Family Manifesto” because it sounds so much more solid, in my humble opinion. I like the oomph behind “Manifesto.” Once I had it to a place where both Erman and I were happy with it, I hired Elisabeth Wing at WingMade to design/illustrate it so I could print and hang it in our home. I’m beyond delighted with how it turned out. Elisabeth is so talented and I love how she drew inspiration from traditional Turkish embroidery to illustrate the floral motif.

unnamedI encourage everyone to create a Family Mission Statement. It’s a great way to build family pride, encourage family unity, focus your efforts, and instill what’s most important to you in your children. Here are the points of our Manifesto and the thought behind them:

We are a family that 

Exhibits trust and love in God. 

First and foremost, we want to teach our children to love and trust God, but more importantly, we want to teach them how to manifest that in their lives. Faith is an action, not just a nice thought or a simple utterance. We want to always make sure that we are loving, trusting, and praising God with our not just with our words, but turning that love and trust into action as well.

Runs to help others. 

This point started as simply “give service” but it lacked something. Finally, I realized, there was no power or urgency behind it. One of my favorite scriptures is found in Mosiah in The Book of Mormon: “For are we not all beggars?” Erman and I want to be people who move swiftly to lift, help, and assist others. And we want to teach our children that we are a family that runs to make that happen.

Creates a welcome place for all. 

As a Southerner and a former-eastern European-Muslim, hospitality is extremely important to both of us. We love to have people in our home, host dinners and parties, visit with friends, and find ways to extend an extra measure of love to all who cross our threshold. We want it to be apparent that our home is a welcome, safe place for everyone, regardless of religion, race, background, choices, etc. But beyond the walls of our own home, we want to teach our children that no matter where they are, they can provide kindness and hospitality to all, that the seat next to them is always open.

Is generous with our abundance. 

This goes back to the notion of “are we not all beggars?” But it’s slightly different than running to help. Beyond the action of service, we want to always be aware of our abundance and find ways to live simply so we can share with those who have less. We want to teach our children about the mindful donations we offer and the variety of organizations we support financially. We also want to encourage their own philanthropy and giving.

Never stops learning. 

Originally, this point focused on education, and while education is definitly important to us, we want to focus more on a love of learning. Erman and I both plan to get advanced degrees, but we also have lists of additional things we want to learn–from online or rec-center classes, to community education opportunities, to books we want to read and skills we want to research. We hope we can teach our children to love learning no matter where it’s available and to seek both a good education as well look for opportunities at every age and stage of life to expand their minds and skills.

Marvels at, takes care of, and travels this beautiful Earth. 

Erman and I love to see the world. We love to take drives to look at the changing leaves in the fall, pull over to watch the sunset, or point out a particularly beautiful tree. We love road trips and plane rides, new cities and new foods. We have a travel bucket list a mile long and goals to save for those opportunities. We want to help our children see the wonder in this amazing, vast, diverse, and breathtaking Earth, to take seriously their role as stewards of her protection, and to make traveling to see it all a priority.

Always owns our mistakes and our awesome. 

We want our children to know that mistakes are okay. We own them, learn from them, become better because of them, and move on. They need not feed shame in our house. There is nothing to be gained from hiding errors. On the flip side, we want to raise our children to be confident about who they are and own their awesome–a little phrase I say to people (usually girls and women) who hem and haw about their talents, skills, and characteristics that make them amazing and unique. Own your awesome! Know what you’re good and and be proud of it!

Understands that hard work is more important than talent. 

I do not care if my kids are the brightest, most talented kids in class. I care that they worked hard, that they put in the effort, and can feel the pride that comes from doing hard things regardless of the end result.

Remembers to pray always. 

God is at the center of our lives and our home. We are His children and He loves us. If we are to navigate this world successfully, we must communicate with Him. And a relationship with anyone depends on your willingness to talk to them, God included. We are a family that prays. We pray together and for each other. Erman and I pray as a couple. And we will teach our children how to access the divine power that comes from communion with heaven.

Expresses love and gratitude freely. 

Graciousness is, in my opinion, becoming a lost art. We want to be a family that recognizes when we’ve been blessed and says thank you. And we never want there to be a question about our love. We will say it and show it–to each other and all we meet. Everyone is worthy of love and should hear it daily.

Really hugs tight. 

We’ve found that most resentment, annoyance, and anger can be defused with a hug. At night, when we say family prayers, we end it with a family hug and boy do we squeeze tight. We shoot our love out of our arms and into the other person. Touch does wonders for the soul and like it or not, we’re huggers.

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10 Tips for Positive Online Dating

Screen shot 2015-08-19 at 9.51.55 AMI got an email a couple months ago from a friend who wanted advice on online dating. She wrote, “You have been very inspiring to me, watching you date online with a ‘positive’ attitude, and I was wondering if you had any tips for me. I desire more than ever to find a companion and someone to share life with, and I’m trying to get in the mind set. It just feels hard to date online positively! I made a Match profile, and have gone on some sad first dates … depressing.”

You see, this year, I set a goal to go on 50 dates. Which is crazy because I don’t think I’ve even been on 20 dates in the 20 years I’ve been “of age” to date. But because of that poor track record, I wanted to figure it out. What am I missing? Why am I not dating? Am I a bad date? Am I just undatable? Do I not give off the “right vibes?” What gives? So really, this is an experimental year as I try to learn: How to date.

And we all know–I’ve been online before (exhibit A and B) and not with a very good attitude. So I took her email to heart and tried to determine what I was doing differently this time around to result in a better experience. I am NOT an expert. I’m honestly making it up as I go. But here are 10 things that have made a difference for me this time. Continue reading →

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Nearly 8 Months

I’ve been in Colorado now for nearly eight months. That’s a long time–nearly a full year–and I wonder if I have anything to show for all that time.

It’s a beautiful state, although I haven’t done much exploring yet. And the people are nice and I have a few friends, but no one that I’m close to. I’m frequently alone. And that’s been fine. I’ve never minded solitude. Most days, I just go to work and then I go home. And when I’m home, I work on my apartment (although, I’ll admit, I’m frequently distracted by Netflix). But to have this tiny space that’s all mine? It matters a lot to me for some reason. I want it, need it, to be …

And so I’ve taken my time, unpacking boxes and arranging shelves. I’ve painted walls, even though I’m only renting. I’ve scoured Pinterest and Craigslist and Ikea and Home Goods and Target and thrift stores, pinning my inspiration, imagining my perfect place, and purchasing only what speaks to me.

So much of my nesting, though, has surprisingly been about the weeding–the getting rid of the unessential, the eliminating of things that don’t speak Krista. It’s interesting to have looked at the sum of my physical possessions and numbered the things that were just place holders–things I thought I wanted, things I thought I should have, but really never loved. But once I was rid of those things, I was left with space … for more of me.

And when I sit down at the end of the day, my slippered feet propped up on a tufted chartreuse stool, and look around, I find myself surrounded by my place inside this world. And it’s a soft place with colors and words and art and history and the faces of the people I love most.

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Missing Florida

On New Year’s Day, I moved to Colorado after spending a year and a half in Florida. It was a good choice, coming here. Although, I don’t know how long I’ll stay. It could be a year or two or three. Or it could be for forever. But it’s right, for now. And there is comfort in that. (Who’d’ve ever thought I’d be the girl with no plan, though.)

But despite it being the right thing for now, I’ve been missing Florida a lot lately. I miss my grandmother. I miss the land. I miss my kids and my friends at church. I miss the feeling of purpose I had there. My contributions were meaningful and my life was rich.

This weekend, I emptied my camera for the first time since I moved and found a million pictures of my last week of sunrises. And then I got all homesick for the river.

It really was a heavenly place to live. I’m a lucky girl to have so many homes–so many beautiful homes. This Earth, man. It’s a wonder.

Here are just a few of the millions of pictures I took before heading back to the mountains. Oh, and you really should watch this video I made a couple years ago. It’s been on repeat for me this week. Continue reading →

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Three Things I Need to Say About Dating and Marriage

It’s an interesting thing to read through one’s blog archives, which is what I’ve been doing lately. It’s a little embarrassing too (yikes), but mostly it’s just interesting to see who I’ve become–to compare the person I am now to the person I was a few years ago. So much has happened. So much has changed since I first started blogging.

Of particular interest to me has been to read my attitude toward dating/love/marriage/men. How I saw it then. How I see it today.

Over the last year, I’ve formulated some conclusions regarding this aspect of my life–conclusions that have brought … peace, I suppose. Although that sounds a little dramatic, even for me.

The first conclusion was more a “stroke of inspiration” that came as I was sitting on the dock one evening in my backyard in Florida (back when I was living in Florida). I’m not even sure what I was thinking about to invite its entrance, but I know it came from God. I know what those thoughts feel like and this was one of them.

“It’s not your fault that you’re not married,” He told me. Continue reading →

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2015 // one x one

I love new days. I love new weeks. And I love new years. I love fresh starts.

I also love setting goals. I’ve learned through the years, however, that setting too many goals is my downfall. I’m a lofty changer of self. Because of this, I also find myself failing miserably about a month or so in. So last year, I changed my tactics and set a handful of small but significant goals and I did them one and a time. This made all the difference. And this year I plan to do the same.

I also wanted to share my goal chart with you, should you find it helpful. It’s divided into four quarters (corporate girl, here) so you can set four goals this year. Try to focus on small changes or habits that will make you happy. Then do that ONE THING, ONCE a day.

Here are a few ideas to get you started: 1) Eat a vegetable at every meal. 2) Drink one glass of water for every can of soda you consume during the day. 3) Read to your children for 15 minutes every day. 4) Say a prayer once a day. 5) Meditate for 5 minutes each day. 6) Spend 15 minutes in the sunshine/fresh air every day. 7) Text someone everyday to tell them that you love them and why. 8) Read 3 verses of scripture before bed. 9) Save $2 in a jar every day. 10) Make out with your spouse for 10 minutes every day. 11) Floss your teeth. 12) Set a bedtime and follow it every night. 13) Put your phone away at 7:00 p.m each night and don’t touch it again until morning. 14) Choose to make a phone call instead of sending a text once a day. 15) Read a chapter a day from a book just for pleasure. 16) Take a walk.

Good luck! Click here to download the chart.

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The Buttons Go in Front: An Essay About That Time I Found a Lump in My Breast

“I think I just found a lump,” I said, interrupting her mid-sentence. I was laying on my back, still in my nightgown, bare feet with painted red toes propped up on a pillow, talking on the phone with my best friend about everything and nothing, my hand resting on my breast, poking and pushing the flesh around for no reason at all, when I felt it–a hard knot, just above and to the left of my nipple. I’m not an expert on my breasts–no one ever sees or touches them–but I knew enough to know that this felt out of place.

“You need to get that checked,” she said. “Now,” with firm emphasis. Apparently, I put things off. I haven’t had a flu shot in 15 years. I avoid check-ups. I hate annuals. This works for me because I floss and brush my teeth. And I eat my broccoli. But. Cancer scares the crap out of me. I always think I have it even when I know I don’t. When I was little and didn’t understand the whole chemo thing, and I had hair wash down the drain in the shower, I was certain I was dying. I even wrote a will once and put it in my underwear drawer so my parents would find it after my funeral. I still remember–I bequeathed my scriptures and journal to my parents and my jewelry box, stuffed animals, and New Kids on the Block posters to my sisters.

But anyway. The lump. This was different. It wasn’t theoretical. I wasn’t eight years old anymore with a weird predisposition for thinking about death. I could feel this foreign thing with my own two hands, thus making the cancer fear no longer an intangible supposing but a possible reality. I mean, it could be …

Continue reading →

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What Happened When I Quit the Like Button

About a month and a half ago, a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook written by a woman who stopped using the “Like” button on social media. I found it to be an interesting idea, especially since I was growing weary of Facebook.

I’d contemplated deleting my account, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it–what about all my connections! I didn’t want to lose touch with people. And yet–I was hardly connecting. And that was what I’d grown weary of.

I’m also a marketer by trade–a professional communicator, if you will–and you can’t just up and walk away from Facebook when you’re in the business of marketing.

Still, my feed was full of pointless videos and quizzes (oh, the quizzes!) and advertisements. I felt like I had to scroll through miles of sludge to find the stuff that actually mattered to me. But after reading the article, I wondered … what if I took back the reigns of my feed? How would it change my experience? Continue reading →

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Let Us Be Faithful

A couple Sundays ago, it was “fast Sunday.” As Mormons, once a month (typically the first Sunday) we refrain from eating or drinking anything for two meals. We do this as an expression of sacrifice–showing the Lord that we are willing to control the appetites of our bodies so that our spirits can be more receptive. Generally, we approach fast Sundays with a purpose–blessings we are seeking (whether for ourselves or for someone else), direction, answers we are in need of, etc. In addition to the fast, we take the money saved from those two meals and give it as a “fast offering.” That money is then used to feed, clothe, and provide temporal welfare to those in need in our immediate geographical location.

Well, this last fast Sunday began and I “opened my fast” with prayer so as to present my purpose before the Lord, and then I headed to church. The sacrament and worship service began and I contentedly listened to the sermons of testimony from my fellow church-goers (As is also customary on fast Sunday, the pulpit is open to the general membership to share their witness of Christ as they feel inspired.). At one point, I wanted to write down something someone had said, so I reached in my bag to get a pen, but instead found a package of SweetTarts. Happy day! Without thinking, I opened it up and popped all three in my mouth, chewed, and swallowed.

That’s when it hit me. I’d just broken my fast. Why my brain couldn’t register that fact 10 seconds earlier is beyond me (and totally annoying). My first thought after that was, Welp. So much for that fast. I didn’t event make it two hours. What will I have for lunch?

But then I thought, Krista. Okay, you ate something. Yeah, you broke your fast. But don’t throw the whole thing away over three SweetTarts. Keep fasting. You can still offer this sacrifice, despite its imperfection. Just start again. Continue reading →

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Where Was I

I have purposefully never posted anything about 9/11 on my blog or Facebook page. Each year, I’ve passed the day with a reverent silence on social media–but it hasn’t been silence out of respect, as one might presume, although I do, very much respect. I’ve been silent, because I haven’t known what to say. Or more truthfully, I had nothing to say. There has always been this part of me that feels like a fraud trying to join in on the conversation.

Because.

I have never cried over September 11, 2001. I never hurt or felt the fear, numbness, and confusion that so many have told me they felt. Honestly, I have absolutely no frame of reference for the events of that day. I’ve often heard older people talk about “where they were” when JFK was shot. And I hear the same thing from my generation in regards to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. “Where were you?”

Where was I? Continue reading →

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How I Came To Be Living In Florida

Frit’s and my home, on the night I pulled out of the driveway and shut the garage for the last time.

Last May, when I knew Frit was about to get engaged, I started looking for a new place to live. Once she got married, she’d be moving to Iowa and I didn’t want to live in our house without her. There was also no way I’d be able to cover the mortgage on my own and I had zero desire, at 34, to start again with new roommates. Salt Lake City seemed like the logical place to look. It was closer to work. And it would provide a (sort of) “fresh start” in a (sort of) new city. I looked at dozens of apartments, but I couldn’t find anything that felt right.

Some might say that doesn’t matter–the “feeling right” bit. Just go where you want to go. Be where you want to be. Make a choice and God’ll use you wherever you land. But I firmly (stubbornly) hold to my expectation that Heavenly Father owes me at least that–a place where I can tangibly feel confident that it’s exactly the right place, at the right time, for me. If I’m to live this unexpected life on my own, then yes, He owes me at least that. (“And hardwood floors, a garden plot, and a walk-in closet, would be nice too,” I told Him one night, only half joking.)

But like I said, nothing felt right. Pretty soon Frit had the ring, and I felt the pressure. I began to feel very frustrated and very anxious. I kept searching, but to no avail other than stress. Plus, I was just … heartbroken. I would miss her so desperately. And I didn’t want to leave our house. Our happy, peaceful, welcoming, spirit-filled-garden-in-the-back-neighbors-we-adore house filled with seven years of memories. I just wanted everything to stay how it was. Continue reading →

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In Defense of Faith

Over the last few years, a handful of my dearly-loved friends have left the LDS (Mormon) Church for a number of reasons including, but not limited to, the recent disciplinary action taken against a couple of our members who have publicly spoken out on (and organized protests in response to) issues they think the Church is handling incorrectly or is just plain wrong about, the Church’s strong stance regarding gay marriage, feeling out of place as an “older” single in a family-centric religion, and frustrations with LDS culture.

A lot has been written from all the sides of all these issues, and while I do have opinions about Kate Kelly’s excommunication, gay marriage, women’s equality, finding one’s place as a “mid-single,” etc., this post is not that post. This post is an essay in defense of faith. Continue reading →

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