Several years ago a large peach grove owned by the Church in Orem, Utah was converted into two stake centers.  (Yes, two on the same plot! It’s amazing!)  The mature trees were free for the taking.  My husband’s sister and her husband who live in Orem, both avid and extremely capable gardeners, were thrilled with their tree.  It bore delicious fruit for the first two seasons.  Last summer it was so loaded with fruit (although they had moderately pruned and trimmed in the spring), that to their great sorrow, the tree unexpectedly split one day, right down the middle clear through to the base of the trunk.  There was nothing that could be done to save it. They cried when they had no choice but to cut it down.  

How often life is like that!  Even when we’ve done our best to prune back our activities and obligations, our schedules and lives are often so filled with good things that we feel literally torn right down the middle!  President Oaks conference talk “Good, Better, Best” (General Conference, October 2007) provides inspiration, yet it’s still next to impossible to determine where our priorities should be so our own family trees and lives will not split from being overly burdened, often leaving us in tears of frustration and sadness.

For our family, the blessings of this summer are much like that peach tree: BYU graduations, a long-distance wedding for a beloved daughter, two open houses for her, a son ready to submit missionary papers, a home and yard needing love and attention for special guests, preparing to launch an exciting home-based business and more!

With so many things we both want and need to do, yet with limited resources of time and money, each day we  have simply prayed morning and night that “we would be guided to the most important things and know what to do.”  As always, our Heavenly Father, the master gardener of our lives, has provided just the right answers from clearing up serious skin issues to how to get teenagers to happily help with yard work and cleaning out the garage.

With a very humble heart, I pass on some of the solutions sent straight from heaven to lighten our family’s peach tree with the hope that they may also help lighten the load on yours.

Chronic Acne and “The Acne Cure” by Dr. Tery J. Dubrow  

We have five children.  All have suffered with acne, some very seriously.  My husband and I both experienced it as teenagers.  They’ve all tried everything available over the counter.  Our three sons (now 19, 22 and 29) have all been on extended cycles of the controversial Accutane treatment, two of our boys have even done two cycles.  Our 19 year old son (preparing to submit his missionary papers in September) did his first round at age14, followed again at 16, and things seemed to be pretty-OK until last spring, when it flared and was as bad or worse than ever before.  Knowing that 1) he could not submit his missionary papers while on the 6-month Accutane program, 2) not wanting to have more of this very strong, controversial drug in his system and 3) knowing he needed something long-term to take with him on his mission, I searched and searched for new answers as we bought yet another expensive acne “system” from our local drug store.

To my great delight, a little book called “The Acne Cure” by Dr. Terry J. Dubrow showed up on Google.  The fascinating reviews at Amazon led me to our own library where I checked out a copy.  Dr. Dubrow is a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills with a clinic devoted to acne. The book carefully lays out how acne is caused, and explains why some programs seem to work at the beginning, then fail within a week or so. His program includes three easy to find over-the-counter medications (two we already had, the other we found at a health food store) and a morning and evening routine, including ice pack treatments at night.

Immediately, within the first 24 hours, we noticed a significant improvement including reduced inflammation and redness. Every day it was better! As the weeks have passed it has been amazing to see how his skin has responded and cleared up without a single prescription or doctor’s appointment!  By the time of the wedding on August 14, his skin was beautiful and clear and no one would ever have guessed the condition of his skin in early July.

After suffering with acne since age 12 or 13, this treatment is nothing short of miraculous for our soon-to-be missionary!  We feel so blessed to know that he will be able to continue these simple procedures no matter where in the world he is called to serve.  Our 17-year-old daughter was thrilled with how following the program eliminated the blackheads on her nose and tightened her pores.  

Sadly, one of our adult children tried the program and did not have the same results, so I cannot say it is a 100% cure all for everyone.  But based on what our 19 and 17 year old experienced, if you or a loved one suffer with acne, I strongly encourage you to spend some time reading the many reviews at Amazon.  A number of them are adults who have suffered with acne their entire lives who provide more helpful comments.

Neosporin:  Our 17 year old follows up “The Acne Cure” night-time routine by applying a generouse dose of Neosporin to blemishes, then covering with a band-aid until morning.  Very helpful!

The Best Two Hours to a Clean Home and Yard:  General Conference From  

I’m not really a TV person, but the TV program called “Clean House” is sheer inspiration for me.  On each episode, a wacky, entertaining team of a moderator/hostess, a handyman, a decorator and a yard-sale coordinator go in and help a family gut their homes that are filled with trash and clutter.  By the time the show is over, they have found peace and a new way of life.  The families, often dysfunctional due to the clutter and state of their homes, often cry at the end of the show for the sheer relief of being able to use each room for what is was intended.  The professional team has so much fun helping them that I often laugh out loud.

Inspired by this program, and with the deadline of our wedding and guests coming, we put ourselves to work by setting up a schedule of two hours of combined effort each day in the house or the yard.  I’d decide on what the daily project was and coordinated with the family members at home.  Whether it was sorting or weeding, two hours was our limit!  

I’d turn on a past session of general conference on my i-touch using an i-home for speakers. (You can easily locate these sessions from  Each session is exactly two hours.   Somehow with the Tabernacle Choir and the general authorities speaking, everyone stayed focused and worked with a much better attitude than usual for these kinds of projects. Though we moved around, worked, of course, and did some talking ourselves while the general authorities spoke, I will treasure forever the time we spent listening together as we worked in our home and yard this summer.  The talks were often launching points to other important conversations.

Of course, all the work didn’t get done in two hours, but it laid the ground work for what we could each do individually until the next day’s big combined effort.  If you have not learned how to use this marvelous free service, then hurry, hurry, hurry!  It’s the fastest, easiest way to de-clutter in a heartbeat. Whether you choose to give things away or sell, a simple posting will have the people coming to YOU.  We eliminated a number of trips to our community thrift stores by spending a few minutes posting them online.  Some of our items were worth selling.  We used the money to buy paint and to perk up the family room as detailed below.

Get Some Fresh, Trained Eyes

Our main living area, including the kitchen, dining room, family room and living room that are all fairly open, have been pleasant – and untouched – for nearly 15 years. Our daughter who was two when we moved in is now a high school senior!  Time for some changes …

A delightful young mother in our ward with expertise in decorating was delighted to trade a couple of hours of her professional skill for babysitting.  Her fresh eyes quickly surmised a half a dozen simple things (painting a wall, moving some furniture, changing picture arrangements, adjusting lighting)  that we could easily do to perk up everything.







After all the cleaning and sorting, then her decorator touches, how different, fresh and wonderful these areas now feel! It is truly a lift for everyone and an inspiration for everyone to keep these areas clean and tidy.

Our homes are our temples, and worthy of special attention!  Whether or not you have a pro, have someone whose home you admire come over for some tips on yours.  It’s a spiritual lift, as well as a physical one, to make the most of where you live.

A Very Cool Anti-Aging Tool:

Last but not least (and this is how we know how much our Father in Heaven truly care about “little things” ) I was guided to a very cool, inexpensive anti-aging tool!  

As a little background, when Scot Proctor took my picture for the new Meridian back the first of June, I was dismayed by how old I looked!  Now we all love Scot’s photos and know that he is the best photographer around!  So, knowing the quality of Scot’s photos, I was reminded of what my mother said years ago to my teen-aged sister who was unhappy with school photos: “Honey, how pretty do you think you are?”) Happily, Scot took some more a few days later and they turned out much better. Still, at age 56, the signs of aging, particularly around my mouth and chin, are very visible.

With my daughter’s wedding around the corner and determined to do something, I was blessed to find a little tool that has really made a difference! You can see it at  Originally designed for individuals with mouth and burn injuries that needed to strengthen the muscles of the mouth and chin for eating and speaking, the medical professionals who designed this neat little device quickly realized that it was also tightening and toning the skin and muscles of the mouth and chin for a much better and younger physical appearance!  Sign me up!  

I ordered mine at for about $35.  Put “facial flex” in the search bar.  It’s less expensive than the official site.

Like using any muscles, at first it was awkward and I couldn’t do the required number of sets, but within a couple of weeks, I was feeling the benefits.  I think you’ll agree that my photos show it as well!  It’s kind of weird to actually feel the muscles in your mouth, cheek and chin, but I’m sold and for the 2-3 minutes required each day, I will continue to use it!

Though our “peach tree” for the summer of 2010 has been unbelievably loaded, with far too many miracles to share in this article, the greatest is that we have come to know as never before that Heavenly Father cares in ways both large and small!  He has proved once more that He is the master gardener of our lives and will be there when invited.  With His love and help, life and its challenges can steady and sure with deep roots, delicious, ever-bearing fruit from strong branches – and a trunk that will that will never split.