What I learned while hiking Utah’s Ensign Peak.

We hiked to the top of Ensign Peak last week. 

Hiking Ensign Peak | The R House

(This summer Josh was all, “I NEED to be in the mountains.” So, we’ve been doing a lot of hiking as of late with our little fam. Camping is still not on my radar though. Let’s not get carried away.)

Ensign Peak for Kids | The R House

This was a different kind of terrain than our previous hikes this summer. More deserty. Tyson took one look around and said, “What the heck? I thought hiking was supposed to be about exploring in the forest.” So, there’s that.

To Tyson’s point, what the heck is Ensign Peak? On July 24, 1847 Brigham Young lay ill in his wagon after traveling thousands of miles to escape religious persecution. When he arrived at Ensign Peak, B.Y. looked down at the Salt Lake valley and proclaimed, “It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on.” It’s one of my favorite quotes. I mean, there’s a difference between “this is the place” and “this is the right place.”

Desert Mountain Beauty | The R House


The last time I did this hike was on my mission in 2002. I served on Temple Square.

When our family arrived at the summit, we were greeted with “Oohs!” and “Awws!” and cheers from a zone of Temple Square missionaries. We saw them hiking up (the more difficult way than we were taking) and Josh made a point to tell the boys that they were missionaries like mommy was before we got married. I listened to them discuss how cool that was. I’ve never been so proud of that decision I made at the last minute 13 years ago. I love my husband for that moment he created.

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My kids have heard about my mission so many times that they must have felt comfortable just jumping into the zone picture the missionaries asked me to take at the the peak. The sisters were enthusiastic and incredibly sweet to the boys …and when I told them I served on TMSQ as well, they erupted into cheers. I had to choke back a few tears, friends. I’m not sure why, but I loved it so much. Sisterhood! Solidarity!

Ensign Peak | The R House

View from Ensign Peak | The R House

As Josh and I overlooked the valley with the kids and were pointing out all the cool things you could see from the view to our kids, the sisters started a little devotional. We listened to them sing High On a Mountain Top each in their own language–English, Spanish, French, Korean, Mandarin. I was overwhelmed with love, the Spirit, and nostalgia. In their prayer to start the devotional I heard them thank God for us and asked Him to bless “The Family.”

Top of Ensign Peak | The R House

You guys. It was so choice.

They didn’t have to love on us like they did. I mean, they didn’t even know us! What great examples.

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Let’s be more enthusiastic. Let’s embrace people. Let’s take time to learn about them and their families. Let’s sing more. Let’s pray for people who come into our lives–even the relative strangers. Let’s love more. More heart.


Semi-related: Check out Jackson’s form as he jumped over the log “steps” on the way down the mountain. I can’t handle the cute, you guys.

Jack Attack Jump | The R House

The one about my dad.

On Mother’s Day, I was lucky enough to have both my father and my father-in-law visiting.

We all went to church together. As is the custom in our ward (congregation) on Mother’s Day, all the women ages 12 and up gather together for a meeting and are spoiled with served fruit, beverages, and pastries. This means that the classes taught by those sisters are covered by some of the brethren in our ward.

I serve in the primary with our huuuuuuuuuge (250+) group of awesome kids. My job that week was to make sure all the classes were covered by the brethren before heading into the treat-filled celebration of sisterhood with my mother-in-law. Things were a little hairy (250+ kids = a lot of teachers) but I just about had them all covered when I noticed the nursery was missing its leaders. It is sometimes difficult to get last minute teachers and subs for the primary and nursery children. Teaching on the fly is hard, some people aren’t comfortable with kids, some don’t have the patience, etc. I’ve heard it all.

Desperate, I ran into where my dad and father-in-law were sitting.

“Hey guys! I need your help, ” I whispered.

Without any hesitation, they both jumped up and were ready for me to instruct them. “I need you to teach the 18-month-olds for the next two hours. There may or may not be a lesson ready for you.”

With my dad’s famous optimism, he looked at me and said, “We’re on the case!”

Why do I love this story? Why am I telling a story about Mother’s Day for Father’s Day? This is a perfect example of how my dad (a current stake president) and my father-in-law support me. It didn’t matter what I asked them to do, they were ready and willing. Even in the nursery.

And you know what? They had a blast! That was over a month ago and each of them have told me this last week, “You know what, Linds? WE HAD SOME FUN IN THERE! I think the nursery is the place to be!”

Lindsey Redfern and Dad

My dad is my hero. 

I am his oldest child and his only daughter. I was am not an easy child to raise–I’ve basically been drama from the start.

I remember when I was in third grade and we moved in the middle of the school year to my parents’ current home. I left all my friends. I wept and wept and wept because I was so lonely. I remember my dad sitting by my bed and helping me think of ways to make friends. (Something that has never been easy for me.) Now that I am a parent, I realize that this task must have been heartbreaking for him and probably mixed with a few giggles. (Remember: Drama from the start.) It didn’t help that my little brother, then in kindergarten, came in while I was weeping to my dad only to announce that he had LOTS of friends and didn’t know what my problem was. That stinker! This only made me bawl harder.

My dad is compassionate. And patient in his compassion. 

I remember what a treat it was to ride in my dad’s car. I felt like a celebrity and we thought he was a race car driver. Ever the lover of muscle cars, he would quiz me about the makes and models of vehicles on the road. On one car ride, I remember him asking me about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Without a second thought I proudly announced, “President of the United States.” I grew up right outside of Washington DC and politics were a frequent dinner conversation. I remember NO snickering or mention that women weren’t usually presidents. I do remember him helping me create my platform, having me present it to him, and them him telling me that I had his vote when the time was right.

My dad has always taught me that I have infinite potential. 

In fifth grade, I wrote the f-word in a note to a friend about a boy (who would later try to burn down my house …keep reading.) The note was intercepted by my teacher and given to my mom. I knew she knew about it and I knew she was upset but we didn’t discuss it until my dad got home from work. I’ve never once heard my father use any kind of profanity, so I was REAL nervous about how he would react.

He simply told me that the word I chose to use was one of the worst in our language. He told me he was disappointed in me and we discussed together my consequences. He never raised his voice. In fact, in the 35 years I’ve been on the earth, I could count on one hand how many times he has raised his voice. And those times that he did, it was always in defense of my mother and how we treated her or talked about/to her. I must have learned from those consequences even though they seemed so harsh at the time because I have not said or written the f-word since that one incident.

My dad taught me to take responsibility for my actions. He taught me to understand that the Lord chastens whom he loves. 

It was my dad who sat down with me in elementary school to do math homework. Math was especially challenging and I often reached tears with how frustrated I was. Can you blame me? I mean, why would they call it “borrowing” in subtraction if you never gave the ten back? My dad was the first to notice my deficiency (before my teachers!) and he and my mom arranged for me to have math tutors for the rest of the school career. Math is still difficult for me, but I did eventually learn to “borrow” thanks to my dad’s discovery.

My dad provided the resources for me to find my own success.

Throughout elementary school and junior high school I played softball and basketball in rec leagues. I was absolutely terrible at both. I am not an athlete. And yet, my parents never missed a game. They were always there cheering me on. My dad took a special interest in helping me with my softball skills. I cannot tell you how many times as an adult I have apologized for making them sit through all those boring games …but I never heard them complain and they never let me quit.

My dad supported me even when I was totally terrible at something and tried to help me be better. 

English, art, and writing classes have always been my thang over sports. (Although my dad isn’t proofreading this post so who knows how grammatically accurate it will be.) When I was in fifth grade, my parents signed me up for a special writing camp at the local university. They did it again in 9th grade when I wanted to dive into drawing and fashion design–I took a college course downtown and they drove me each way. In my AP Lit class, I was falling waaaay behind. I was drowning. My dad purchased all the required reading for the term and read each of the books with me. I remember afternoons and evenings discussing literature with him in the study of my childhood home. For one of my AP art classes, I was required to take my portfolio to the University of Maryland for an assessment. My dad arranged for the whole family to go and support me. The summer before my senior year in high school, I was named one of the editors of my yearbook. My parents paid for me to attend a special hands-on conference in Gettysburg focused on yearbook editing. I won an award for one of my layouts.

My parents have a billiards room in their basement. The walls of this room are covered in the achievements of their children. My brothers, who are crazy-talented athletes, have decorated most of the room. My dad made sure that my award for my layout design was displayed prominently in the room. I am still so proud of that stupid award.

My dad has always encouraged me to get the best education I can, to keep an open mind, to expand my mind, and to recognize truth. He blessed me with opportunities to find my own talents.

In eighth grade, my “friends” (who were upset with me over something), poured gasoline all over our front yard, killing the grass. They also lit a bail of straw on fire on my front porch with my whole family asleep inside. My mom awoke to the smell of smoke, woke up the family, and we evacuated while waiting for the fire department and police to arrive. The police eventually caught the kids and wanted us to press charges. My dad refused and instead invited them all over to our home with their parents to talk about what happened and make sure they took the steps to stay out of trouble in the future. How he treated these kids was a huge eye opener for me.

My dad believes in forgiveness. He believes in second chances. 

When I was a junior in high school, my dad let me borrow his fancy car to get my hair done before a homecoming dance. I totaled his car before the dance. As I was being pulled out of wreckage, the gravity of the situation hit me. “My dad is going to kill me!” I wailed hysterically.

He never said one word about the car. Not one. He just held onto me, gave me a blessing, and tried to get me back behind the wheel as soon as possible. To this day, I’ve never heard him talk longingly about that vehicle. Instead he talks about the spiritual lessons we learned together from that experience. And there were some pretty great ones!

My dad looks for the lesson to be learned instead of focusing on the negative. 

On my mission, we discussed deeply the doctrine of our faith through letters. He asked me for my thoughts. He still does! My dad asks for my advice on important issues at least once a month. He treats me like an equal and like a leader because he believes I am. He is quick to tell me about how well my idea went and thank me.

My dad seeks my council. 

When our adoption failed and another was reversed, my dad wept with me–big old crocodile tears. He continued to check in on me and offer hope and messages of faith. He helped me survive the most difficult experiences I’ve been given in this existence.

Our infertility, my inability to bear children, our struggle to build a family, our “almost” children …they all caused me to push Heavenly Father away. I had so many doubts about why a loving Father in Heaven would allow such things to happen to me and my family and what motherhood really meant. Through tears, I expressed my doubts to my dad over and over again. He listened each time, validated my feelings, and encouraged me to search for truth from God. He sent me messages he thought would help me work things out in my mind.

My dad taught me that it’s okay to have doubts and ask questions. 

Oh how I wanted to have this post published on Father’s Day morning. But my dad taught me “work before play” and we had a house full of friends and family that needed each other today and a lot of work to complete before that could happen. Here I am minutes before midnight about to make it live.

So Dad, thank you for helping me be the best me. Thank you for teaching me I can conquer the world, that my opportunities are endless, that I am capable of magic, that I have always been more than enough, that I am powerful, bold, brave, important–and can be anything I wanted to be.

Happy Father’s Day. I am proud to be your only daughter.




1 year old cake photoshoot

My baby is one today. 

Newborn Baby Jackson, Kim Orlandini Photography

Jackson, just a few hours old.


It’s hard to believe and yet, it’s like he has always been in our family. We call him the Baby King and he fills our home with joy and laughter and mischief. He is the apple of his older brothers’ eye. Never have two older brothers been more infatuated with their baby.

Birthdays are a big deal at this house. It’s a special day for my kids and their birth moms. It’s THEIR special day together. If you’d like to read a heart-wrenching and heart-warming account of the day Jackson was born, please check out the post that was featured on Portrait of Adoption and The Huffington Post entitled Our Jackson.

Before all the birthday pressure and expectations and presents, I hired Kim Orlandini Photography to come over yesterday for a quick 20 minute session of Jack Jack and a birthday cake.

The shoot was just in my kitchen using extra large bulletin board paper that you can get for $0.60/yard at the party supply store. We taped it with masking tape to the floor and wall and then put the baby and the cake together. Kim worked her magic and Jack took his cake eating very seriously. (You don’t get chub like that with any other kind of attitude.) After the cake throwing eating was complete, we just rolled the paper up and threw it out. Easiest clean-up!


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So happy birthday to The Baby King.

And hugs and prayers and peace to his beautiful birth mother. We love you!