My best friend Melissa was in a crisis, and she and her 3 teenagers moved in with us. Immediately God started working to prepare me for Joshua marrying Melissa. Plural marriage had never been in any of our plans, and believe me when I say I had a long way to go.

One day, not long after Melissa had moved in with us, these hoodlums started walking past our house on a regular basis. We lived near a skate park, and it was usual for teenagers to walk past our house. But there was something different about these teenagers.

For one thing, they were coming past during school hours. Why aren’t they in school? I wondered. I thought about calling the truancy officer at the local high school, but I didn’t want to be that nosy neighborhood lady, always worrying about everyone else and never looking hard enough at her own life.

They were also dressed in a rough manner. Wearing hoodies even in the beautiful April weather. The classic baggy pants down around their knees. Baseball caps worn backwards. The sorts of things that bother nosy neighbor ladies.

There wasn’t any destination nearby except for the skate park; none of these hoodlums was headed to work or school.

It wouldn’t have bothered me as much if there was just one teenager going past, to meet his friends at the park. It was the sense of a gang: several hoodlums roaming the neighborhood made me nervous.

Sometimes I watched them saunter past our house. We lived on the corner and it seemed like they were always turning that corner and heading up the hill, going past both our front and back yards. I never saw them go into a house.

I was secure from them, inside my locked house, spying on them, but I had three small children, and I liked to let them play outside. The neighborhood always felt safe enough, until those hoodlums showed up and started going past the house what seemed like several times a day.

This went on for a week or two and was really starting to bother me. I didn’t know how to handle it and I started praying, asking Father in Heaven for help, asking Him to send away the hoodlums, asking him what I should do about this problem, telling Him I wanted my babies kept safe and I want to live in a place that would allow us to continue our lives without fear of hoodlums.

While I was praying, the answer that came to me was shocking: “I will get rid of the hoodlums after you get rid of the hoodlum in your heart.

What??? Get rid of the hoodlum in my heart? Do I have a hoodlum in my heart?

I got really honest and looked deep into my heart and realized that, indeed, there was a hoodlum in my heart. I hadn’t realized it, but there was a rebellious piece of my heart that didn’t want to share my husband with another woman. I thought I was willing, I thought I was happy to do it, I thought I was ready. But it turned out that wasn’t thorough enough, and I had to repent on a deeper level.

Once the hoodlum in my heart was spotted, it was up to me to get rid of it. I repented. I got rid of the hoodlum in my heart. And then… God got rid of the hoodlums in my neighborhood.

Those teenagers who had been going past my house multiple times every day stopped coming. I never saw them again.

Parents: More is Better

Mothers everywhere know what it means when their husband is traveling for work: All the parenting, 24 hours a day, falls to you.

Such was the situation I found myself in, with my husband across the country on business, and I was discouraged and exhausted. The days were long, our routine disrupted, and the children tired of not seeing their father.

My son blew the shofar to call us to our evening family time, where everyone has a chance to show something or tell about their day; we lovingly call this time “Shofar & Tell” (a play on “Show and Tell” — get it?).

We gathered in the living room of my sisterwife Melissa, and as I routinely do, I pulled out the family Happy Book to write in while we shared our lives and visited together.

My son disrespectfully jumped on my case and told me I shouldn’t have a “toy” during Shofar & Tell (referring to my writing in the Happy Book). He’d been nitpicking and criticizing me a lot, so the uncalled-for criticism was especially frustrating.

We officially got started with Shofar & Tell, and when my daughter’s turn came to hold the shofar and show/tell us something, she took the opportunity to complain about me.

I was hurt, and since I had been struggling for some time with those two children disrespecting me, questioning me, and dishonoring me, it got to be too much.

I said to my sisterwife Melissa, “Why does everything come down to criticizing me and complaining about me? Everyone in this house seems to be starting from a place of ‘Mom is wrong. Mom has wronged me. What is Mom doing wrong right now? What can I criticize Mom about right now?’ I feel like everyone is assuming my guilt until I’m proven innocent.”

Melissa saw the problem, recognized my need for support, and she truly stepped up.

She launched into a scolding lecture about about how lucky the children are to have me; how lucky they are to have a mother who stays home with them and focuses on taking care of them; how they shouldn’t be rude to me; how they should treat me with respect and love; how they ought to show gratitude for me and the good life they have.

She went on and on. A couple of the children got teary-eyed over it. When she was done, she gave every child a chance to say something. To me she said, “I want you to write down in the family Happy Book what they say: I want you to recognize it and embrace it.”

Each of my children expressed their sincere gratitude for me and came over and hugged me. Melissa even had her young child say something nice and hug me, and then she also expressed her love and gave me a hug.

I felt extremely validated and supported. Someone saw me and wanted me to feel appreciated. Someone wasn’t going to stand by and let me be treated with disrespect by my children.

I wasn’t doing all the parenting by myself after all. Melissa and I were together, taking care of the children, trying to teach them, being a good team.

If I had been the only parent home that week, things would not have gone so well, I can promise you that. I would have continued to be sad, and I might have lost my temper with the children and just made things worse.

If our husband Joshua had been there, he certainly would have shushed the children to keep the peace and given me moral support later in a private conversation.

But Melissa took it further and worked right then and there to truly change the hearts of the children and let me know how much she supports me.

This is one real-life example of the benefits of a polygamous family.

My children are lucky Melissa is invested in them the way every mother should be invested in her children, and I’m grateful to have her as a co-parent.