Ok so I just feel compelled to say a heart-felt “thank you” to blog readers.

I keep this blog for a family record, but over the years it has become so much more than that.  I have gained friends all over the world which I am so very thankful for.  I’m so grateful for all of you wonderful people who have stuck with me through this kind of crazy year. Yes, for the most part I have still been here, but sometimes I haven’t really BEEN here, if you know what I mean, for a couple different reasons.  The first is that my mind is mostly going in a thousand different directions trying to decide a on a dumb light switch or a roof tile.  (Which, now that we are in this house, is so totally worth it by the way, so grateful for this home.)

But aside from that, I haven’t BEEN here as much because in the midst of all that hullabaloo I have been trying my darnedest to live true to my “word” for 2014:


And when you’re trying to “shine” you can’t really go hide in a closet and blog.

(Of course.)

You have to live life instead of just trying to record your thoughts about it all the time.  Because you want to be shining your love to your husband.  To your children.  To your friends.  To a stranger on the street.  Shining to me means you are filled with unconditional love.

I picked that word because I think it is beautiful.  It’s been in my heart ever since the Young Women theme a few years ago: “Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations” (D&C 115:5)  I just love that it is an action word.  And when I picked it over all the other words I considered, it just spoke to me as the overarching word that comprised them all.

I haven’t written about it until now because for some reason I kept waiting until I could report that I was doing ok at it.  I wanted to report some miraculous story where I was calm under pressure or where I helped someone in serious need.  I wanted to tuck my children under my wings and whisper things I love about them in their ears each morning and I wanted to make my eyes shine better whenever my husband walked into the room rather than spilling out the latest quandary I was up against.  I wanted to find balance in life so I could just go about shining loveliness all day long.

But guess what?   I forgot something important:

That’s not what having a “word” is all about.

Having a “word” is to remind me to strive to be that.  To work hard at it.  To push toward making it become part of my very fiber.

Elle has done quite a few photo shoots this year which means I have been her assistant, meeting new families often.  One evening shortly after I had decided on my “word” we met up with a family who had just adopted a baby.  As Elle shot away I couldn’t help but notice how the Mom of that family exuded love as she spoke to her family.  She was a “shiner.”  She embodied what I envisioned that “word” would turn me into this year.  She spoke so kindly to her children.  She was patient.  She glowed.  For real.

And guess what?  Her family could feel it.  I could feel it for crying out loud!

Sure, they were still kids.  They weren’t perfect.  But the way that mother spoke sweetly to them with a smile, even when they were being rambunctious brought in such a beautiful spirit.  So thick you could have sliced through it.

Right then and there I realized that was the kind of shining I was going for.  And I have thought of that mom over and over again this year as I have pushed to shine more, and then kicked myself that I keep failing miserably.

I lose my patience.  Or I don’t get the sleep I promised myself I would which makes me grumpy.  And then I don’t get even the tippy-top of my “list” done for the day and I feel guilty.  And all that stuff is totally the opposite of “shining.”

I know it’s a gradual process.  I know I can’t morph overnight to be a “shiner.”  But I want to be reminded of that word on a regular basis.  And I realized just this week that what I need is some tangible reminder to shine if I’m really going to master it by 2015.  Ha!  I need a reminder to slow down and breathe and soak in those around me instead of being so task-oriented.

As perfect timing would have it, my sister-in-law Julie has a deal going with “Living Social” for her beautiful necklaces.

So I bought one.

(aren’t those so beautiful?)

I can choose whatever I want to be on that beautiful, sterling silver necklace ring, so guess which word I’m going to choose?

You guessed it:  SHINE.

Can’t wait to wear it around my neck to remind me each day to slow down and let the love I feel shine out to those around me.

Do you, dear blog readers, have a “word” for the year that you want to be reminded of?  These sterling silver necklaces are only $29 right now, and that’s the deal of a century if you ask me.

Maybe you know someone else who needs one of these things (whether it’s a word you have inscribed or the name of a loved one, or the name of your first grade teacher, you name it, she puts it on).  The awesome thing is that you can order it now and you don’t have to decide what custom words you want on it for three whole months.

That, my friends, is right in time for Christmas.

And who doesn’t need to shop early for that, so they can “shine” a little more during the Christmas season.

Whoa!  Hold on here, I’m not sure I’m ready to think Christmas quite yet!

Once again, I digress.  I am just getting too excited about my little reminder I ordered.  Click HERE if you want to order your own.

I’ll close with the same way I opened:  THANK YOU, dear blog readers, for all the support and love I feel through cyberspace.  I do feel that although I’m trying to “shine” more here at home, which sometimes takes me away from the blog, writing here and interacting with you through your kind emails and comments (and your forgiveness that I’m so horrible at personally responding!), makes my little light shine brighter.  I love to have an avenue to express all that rolls around in my head.

Thank you for listening.

…and for shining your own light my way with your kindness.  There are so many “shiners” out there who I am so very grateful to “know” now through cyberspace. Thank you for your unique lights that shine out to make the world a better place.

Love, Shawni


  1. Love this post, mostly because reading your blogs has always helped to make ME shine! It's funny how we see things in others that they often don't recognize in themselves. And love the necklace idea!

  2. I'm pretty sure you shine brightly right through this blog. It's not about being perfect, it's about living true to who you are and letting that shine through. You do a great job.

  3. I've been faithfully reading your blog for about 6 months because of your wonderful inspiring posts about motherhood. I so value that it is about loving your children, preparing them for adulthood, prioritizing family and instilling faith. (It is NOT how to get organized, make adorable crafts or have a beautiful home. Those things are not bad, you are just focused more deeply.)

    It is always a dose of shine for me…a random Catholic Mom in Grand Junction, Colorado!

  4. I wish I could be more of a shiner too! I should try to find myself a motivating word, I think it's a great idea even if we forget in the midst of everyday things 🙂

  5. It was 4 months ago, today, that my husband passed away. I am not really a jewelry-wearing girl, but I was given a few necklaces as gifts, and now I cherish them.

    The necklaces say:



    vanOrmer Family Forever

    I love wearing my necklaces when I go out. They are sweet and precious reminders for me.

    Thank you for sharing your "Shine" with the world, through blogging. Rubbing shoulders with real people is a great way to shine too, of course, but through blogging you reach SO MANY people. You will never know how many people have been touched by the light of your rays.

    Thanks for your example!

    Keep shining!



  6. I love your blog and admire your honesty about the way you live and raise your children..our lives are completely different (I live in Melbourne, Australia and am an assistant principal of a Catholic school. No children of my own but work with 215 precious kids every day)
    Thanks again for your words of wisdom.. Keep shining

  7. Beautiful. Wet eyes here. I think of the song, Window to His Love, to become clean and clear so that the light of Christ can shine through us. Thank you, Shawni for doing that here.

    I started the tradition of a "word" focus last year for the picture-a-week challenge that a lot of people do. Shortly after that I came across your blog and have loved hearing your experiences with your focus word. This year I've chosen "listen" and have a long way to go. It is amazing to me how the word suddenly just pops into my head when I'm tempted to keep on going about my own business with an occasional "uh-huh" to my spouse or kids. I love having a focus word, and I really appreciate reading your thoughts on your words. You have such a beautiful, eloquent way of expressing yourself and echoing my own thoughts.

  8. We returned from GB on Tuesday and I can't sleep, what is the opposite of Jet lag!?!? I decided to read one of my favorite blogs. I was surprised and honored to see you had posted about our family. Thank you for your kind words. This year has been one of the most eventful, challenging, growing years we have experienced. It was a year that I felt like my light was continually trying to be smothered, for a lack of a better word, So to see your post brought instant tears to my eyes. Thank you for finding the good in our family, in me. That just shows the kind of person you are;) you shine brightly, more than you might ever know, for so many. Love you!!!

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