Thursday, March 30, 2017

That Whole Agency Thing.....

copyright...Karen Larsen photography
I am not even sure where to start......

Blogging for me is therapeutic.  There is no other way to say it.  It is here that I process my feelings, as scary as that is.  Not that I need to write for the world to know the innermost thoughts of my heart, but writing allows me to access that part of myself.  For some reason, with the business of the world, I just never seem to get back to there.  But when I write, I reach down into my soul and pull the words out.  Gosh it feel so good!!!

Our life has been super challenging.  Over the holidays and right after, I think we were sick for about eight weeks straight!  I kept Spike Spike home from school for three weeks because we just could not get control of his asthma.  Then when I finally did send him back to school, he was there for four days and came home with pneumonia.  I was sick during that time too, and sleep deprived.  We have had car issues, and work drama, school drama, ward drama.......stuff everywhere!  I don't know that I need to go into all of it, but how grateful I am for General Conference coming up this weekend!!

It is one of the two times during the year when I get to just sit at home and soak up the Spirit without any expectations for my behavior.  I tune the rest of the world out!  I am busy that weekend!  Sorry!  Deal with it!!!!  (Although to be honest, Sun does have a rehearsal on Saturday.....but she is only going to one hour in between sessions instead of the two hours they have scheduled.)  And this General Conference will be even more wonderful!!!  For the first time in 5 and 1/2 years, my husband won't be the Bishop!!!

Drew was released last Sunday.

Happy, happy day!!  I do not mean to sound ungrateful.  Serving our ward has been a wonderful gift.  I know we have received blessings for his service.   But you know what?!  We have not received one phone call for the Bishop in almost a week.  No extra meetings.  No drop by's.  No 'please tell your husband' texts.  We need some down time.  My husband does not exactly run fast, and I think he has been running faster than he likes to for about 5 1/2 years.

Over the last six months, I have been really struggling with some very deep seated sadness.  It isn't anything recent, in fact it is really, really old.  I have recognized that I do not have expectations of others, because the person I do have them of and their importance to me is so completely disappointing that I have buried it way down deep, and I have been carrying it around for a long, long time.  Over the last year, the Spirit has helped me to see that is what I have been doing and over the last six months, He has been trying to convince me to let it go and turn it back over to Heavenly Father.  I have been holding on for about 40 years now thinking that if I just wait and hope and pray a little longer, things will change.  Finally, the Spirit has prevailed and helped me to see that the thing I desire most is completely out of my control and not even in my wheelhouse of stewardship.  In fact, it is completely the responsibility of someone else and I have to be OK if they choose to use their agency in such a way that my expectations are actually unrealistic.  That has been super painful to face.  I don't think I have been able to write simply because it has been so very painful and how do I process all of that publicly anyway??  You don't ....which is why I haven't been writing.

I have written here and there in my journal, but it isn't the same.  Most of my journalling (I am making that a verb, even if spell check doesn't like it.....), is done in the morning while I am trying to plan my seminary lesson.  And I don't know about you, but as soon as I get one lesson out of the way, I have to teach another one tomorrow, so it isn't even like I have time to process.  Plus, the New Testament isn't exactly my area of expertise.  It has been a long year.  I am really glad it is almost over.

I love teaching! Love it!  I love my kids!!!  I have SIX Seniors!!!  We have really had some amazing discussions and really had a lot of fun in our classroom.  I am really sad they are all going to be graduating.  I know that is what is best for them.  But next year I have zero Seniors....well, one inactive one.  And I am always disappointed that more of my class doesn't come more often.  That is another place where I just have no control.  That whole agency thing again.

When I was a younger mother and we had first moved here, I visit taught an amazing woman who I loved and looked up to.  She had lots of teenagers and some grown kids too.  One day during our visit, she told me that she wasn't sure she like this whole agency thing.  I just couldn't wrap my head around why she felt that way.  I am starting to get it.

Watching people I love use their agency to make mistakes or unwise choices has been really hard for me.  I pray for peace.  I try not to pray for understanding.  I pray to see them as the Lord does.  I pray for love and the ability to be kind even when I do not agree.

Having studied enough development, I should be able to understand and reason that most people do not make decisions they disagree with.  If they are following a given course of behavior, it is usually because whatever they have reasoned out in their minds is what they think is best for them.  I can kind of get that.  But where I really struggle is when I know they have information that should lead them to want to follow God's way, and yet, they just choose not to do that.  So far, that has not been my children.  But it is people very close to me.  People who I love.  People who I want to be with me in eternity.  But people who are making other choices and their mortal time of decision making is almost over.  I think as the time is drawing closer and closer for them to cross the veil, I am facing more and more grief every day.  I am recognizing that I have to turn it over to my Father in Heaven or it will eat me alive.

I am still functioning and taking care of my family and my class.  But there is a lot more crying---which I know is good.  It is not depression.  It is just a sign of how much grief and loss is in there.  I asked in my prayers the other day, why, why is it so difficult for me?  Why is there so much grief over this loss?  Why can't I just say, well, that's how it is and that's their choice.  Oh well!  I should be happy with the response.  But it just makes me more sad.  The answer was because I love so deeply.  Well, if I didn't, then it wouldn't hurt so bad would it?  Sometimes I wish I could just function that way.  That's not the right answer, by the way.....

See??!!  Look what I did?  A few paragraphs in and already down to the core.  That didn't take too long.  Now the tears are coming.

I really just need to reframe the whole situation.  I REALLY need to give it back to my Father in Heaven.  He loves them more than I do.  He can help them more than I can.  It is not my job.  But I certainly wanted it to be my success.  Maybe that is part of the problem.  I really struggle with the results of things.  I measure how well I did my job by statistics and the success and choices of my people.  That is not a true measure.  And those things don't belong to me.  That whole agency thing again......

Thanks for listening, Blogsphere......
copyright: Karen Larsen photography

It is obviously a work in progress and I am no where near finished.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Little people need you......

copyright: Karen Larsen photography
I had an experience this last week that I wanted to share.  Spike began attending kindergarten at the start of the school year.  I go and help in his class once a week, but only for about an hour.  The children know me, but I am not ever present so they do not have the same kinship with me as they do with their teacher---which is fine.

Over the last couple of weeks, as I have dropped Spike off for class, one of his classmates has been having a really difficult time with school.  Every morning she is crying because she doesn't want to be there.  It is just heartbreaking to watch this totally sweet, innocent little brown eyed girl with flowing long brown hair, sobbing with her fingers in her mouth because she is sad about being at school.

On Tuesday, she was again having a hard time.  Grandma had dropped her off and she wouldn't even come into the classroom.  We had arrived just as class was about to start, so I thought I would help out the teacher and see if she would talk to me so the teacher could manage the other 20 students in the classroom.

At first, she wasn't very keen on speaking to me.  But I eventually won her heart and she opened up to me.  As we talked, she shared how much she really just wanted to give her grandma one more hug before she left.  And she shared how difficult it is to go to school every day without her sister there.  Her sister had been there last year as a 2nd grader while this little person was in transitional kindergarten.  I tried to help her see that kindergarten wouldn't last that long and she would be picked up soon and that she had already done 49 days of kindergarten and she could do one more.  During our conversation, she let me know that she wouldn't be picked up after kindergarten.  She had daycare until her mom or grandma got off of work.

At that point, I kind of stopped.  Wait a minute.  You mean you are five years old, and your day starts before 8 a.m. and you don't get picked up until 6 p.m.----Every DAY?!!  And you did this last year when you were four?  You are five, and you are putting in more than a forty-hour week?!!
copyright: Karen Larsen photography
Now, I am not trying to blame the parents.  I know some parents are in situations where that is the reality of their existence in order to take care of their family.  And maybe this is one such family.  However, the stress it is putting on this little person is obvious!  She is not getting her emotional needs met, at five, because she is being pushed to do more than realistically should be expected of a five year old.

Childhood is so very, very short!!  It just broke my heart that those circumstances are the reality of her day. It was so upsetting to me, that when Spike had a doctor's appointment at 10 that morning, I didn't bother to bring him back to school.  I decided that at least one little person in the world could just come home and play, and be five---the whole day.

When I returned to school that afternoon to pick up Spike's back pack (because I had intended on taking him back to school after his appointment), the teacher thanked me for helping her little student that morning.  I didn't feel like I had done much.  But then, I opened up my heart to her and just shared my feelings with her and why I hadn't brought Spike back to school.  I didn't think that was that big of a deal either.

But then a miracle happened.
copyright: Karen Larsen photography
The next day, Spike and I were late to class.  Spike's teacher is excellent about starting class on time.  As we walked into class, the children were still playing, 10 minutes into class.  There was a happy buzz about the classroom.  Everyone was just doing their own thing with or without friends.  But the energy in the room was very happy and relaxed.  The teacher and I talked for a few minutes.  She shared with me that my comments the day before had prompted her to let the kids 'just be kids' and to enjoy their classroom and relax.  She said that when it was time for school to start, her little emotional person had just gotten settled with a group of girls and after thinking about how hard life it sometimes, she had decided that she just needed to let them play.

I don't have any idea how long she let them go before she decided that she needed to 'get them on task'.  I don't even know if that conversation carried over for more than one day.  But for that day, it made a difference in the emotional development of at least four people, probably more.

We really don't know how small and insignificant behaviors affect others.  I didn't think my thoughts were very profound, and certainly I was not purporting an agenda or trying to sway the masses.  I just shared the innermost thoughts of my heart with another person--thoughts about how difficult life is for one little girl and how much she is struggling just maintain it from day to day.  I am not trying to blame others for her circumstances or theirs.......just making observations, and wishing life was just a little easier and a little less demanding.

Take time out!!  Especially for the little people.  They were not made to run as fast as we like to think we should.  In fact, maybe they are in our lives to make us stop and slow down.  If anything I have learned after having nine children, there is nothing more important than the emotional needs of our little people.  If we want them to become the kind of people who will change the world for the better, it is up to us to stop the world and validate that they matter!  What they think and what they want and what they need!  They are valuable!  They are important!  And it is out job to protect them and remind them of their importance and of our love!
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

Friday, September 30, 2016

What??!! Two posts in one month? Preposterous!!

Well, what can I say?  Finding my voice back in the blogsphere.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
Today I just wanted to recount an experience I had lately (within the last two months) and recognize and celebrate my growth :-)

A few months ago, I was pulling out of the parking lot of my local Costco.  The weather was great, I had the window down in the car and was driving my husband's little Chevy Prism.  As I neared the stop sign, my husband's brakes aren't as tight as mine on the van, so it took me a little longer to stop and I coasted past the limit line, but stopped the car well before the intersection.  Another driver was turning left onto the street where I was stopping.  We passed each other rather tightly, as I under anticipated the time it would take my vehicle to stop and he cut the corner.

He took the occasion to stop his vehicle in the middle of traffic and started yelling at me for not stopping.  Now, remember, I did not hit his car, nor did he hit mine.  They didn't even touch each other.  He berated me and swore at me for several minutes.  I was so dumbfounded by his behavior, I couldn't do anything but laugh.  That was not the right answer by the way.  It made him angrier.  Then he was yelling at me for laughing.  Finally, he said, "I'll bet you're just one of those stupid women who is going to vote for Hillary!!  You stupid Hillary voter!!!......" and he drove off.  All I could say in response was, "I thought that's who YOU were voting for!"  And I drove away laughing.

Sun was in the car with me.  She was hot!  I have never seen her so upset for such a random occurrence.  She was more upset that I was laughing at it and I wasn't mad.

Now, you need to know, this is about the fourth time some random person has felt the need to publicly criticize me when I have not done anything wrong.  The first few times it happened, my feelings were really hurt.  I came home and questioned my behavior....did I do or say something that could have been interpreted offensively?  Was I mean in some way I didn't recognize?  Did I cut him off on the road?  It didn't take me days to get past it, but it did take hours.

This time, it was obvious to me that I hadn't done anything wrong.  He was being ridiculous and he couldn't have been feelings good.  Everything he did, even though it was directed at me wasn't because of me and I didn't have to take any responsibility for his attitude, emotion, or behavior.  It was so freeing!!  And it didn't even bother me in the moment, let alone for the rest of the day.  In that moment, I recognized that I had grown.  I was no longer taking responsibility from other people that belonged to them.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
It has been a huge jump in my emotional development!! Growing up in my home, I was taught and trained that I was responsible for other people's emotions.  Guess what?!!  I'm not!  And neither are you.  The things they feel, or don't feel.....they aren't your job to create or fix.  Feelings belong to each of us.  Those things that happen in our hearts because of the things we think or the meanings that we attach to them, they belong to us and not to anyone else.  No one else is responsible for them, only us....and we are not responsible for theirs.

Now, I know some of you are saying, yes, but your behavior affects me.  And that is true.  It does.  But how I feel about it, or the meaning I attach to it, that is me, not you.

This entire line of reasoning started for me in the 9th grade.  We were required to read Viktor Frankl's book, Man's search for meaning.  His book is about his experience in a Nazi concentration camp. The basic premise is though all of these horrible things happened to people in the camp, those who were able to survive kept some part of their mind free.  They had a place in their psyche apart from their experience.  The guards of the camp could do whatever they wanted to their bodies, but they couldn't control how the prisoners felt about it or reacted to it.  Those prisoner who could keep a sovereign place in their mind, apart from their experience, fared better than those who could not.  It was a fascinating read, even at 14.

Though I had the intellectual understanding that was possible, I really didn't develop the emotional capacity to put it into practice until the last couple of years.  It has been a slow process, but I am finally able to have experiences where I can listen to some random stranger berate me for something that I didn't do and not get angry or hurt by his behavior and can actually laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation.  It is still more difficult for me to navigate in relationships that are close to me....mostly I believe because I still want to help others be happy and feel some shared responsibility for making that happen.  I know this is one of my weaknesses, that my Father in Heaven is trying to make one of my strengths.  And it is working.  S....L.....O.....W......L.......Y....... like a sloth over time.

But it was so refreshing to see my growth!  So I just had to share it with you!
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
Have a great weekend!!!  I cannot wait for General Conference!!!  Watch it here!!!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Ruminations and revelations......

I know, I know......where have I been?!!

Well, the truth be told, I have been managing some very deep and personal emotions over the last year or so and I have not been and am still not ready to process them in public.  Life of course, has carried on.  We have done many fun and important is still good.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
The processing however, has been super slow.  Its not a bad thing.  It just is what it is.  I can't make it go any faster, even though I would like it to be done and over with.  It is a process and I am in the middle of it.

I have come to a few revelations they are really not new, but my understanding of them and ability to apply them....that is new.  Here they are:

1.  I am not responsible for other's feelings.....not their reactions.....or the meanings they attach to my behavior.  If they really want to know what is going on in my head and my heart, then they should probably just ask me and not make assumptions and allow those assumptions to hurt their feelings.  Their hurt feelings are not my fault, even if their hurt feelings are attached to my behavior.

2.  When I respond with Christ-like love, compassion, and kindness to their misunderstanding and hurt feelings, things work better and I am more in control of my emotions.  When I let my anger, hurt and frustration rule my response to their ridiculousness, we all lose and it gets ugly.  Kindness is the key.  My husband gave me a necklace for Christmas.  It is a simple silver key.  I wear it and remind myself that kindness is the key particularly when I am feeling vulnerable to respond in the 'natural Carin' way instead of the Christ-like way.

3.  Christ focuses on others, even when He himself is hurting.  Today in seminary we studied Matthew 14 where the Savior learns of John the Baptist's beheading.  Did you know that was his emotional place when he performed the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes?  Did you know that there were five thousand MEN that he fed with those five loaves and two fishes---that there were women and children there too?  He probably fed over 10,000 people......when he himself, just wanted to be apart from everyone and mourn the loss of his beloved cousin and the forerunner of His ministry.  This particular story touched my heart more than I knew was possible.  So many times as a mother, I just want to run screaming from the room and say, "I am sorry you have all of these needs....I need a moment to attend to my own sorrow, or stress or whatever."  Christ would not respond that way.  He looked on the multitude with compassion and when the disciples said, "It is late, let us send them away...." Christ said, no....and then took care of them, regardless of His personal pain.  I want to be able to respond like that.

4.  The Savior is patient with us.  He waits for us to figure it out and then gives us further insight or something else to think about.  I have come to a place recently where I, in a small measure, recognized emotionally what I gave up when I left my parents and siblings to go to BYU.  It is a normal thing for college aged kids to go off to college after graduation right?  Well, things were not normal at my house when I left.  My mother had just left our family and left all six of us kids with my dad.  My dad wanted me to stay home and take over for my mother and help the family in this time of crisis.  I knew however, that their ship was sinking and no amount of effort I could put in was going to save it or keep it afloat.  I knew that if I didn't leave when I did, I would spiritually sink with the boat.  I left them, children and all, to save myself spiritually.  In order to do that, I had to distance myself so far emotionally just so I could survive in my new environment and not mourn the people and things I left behind.  I chose God, over my family.  Most of them have still not forgiven me for making that choice.  They likely never will.  I am finally looking back at what I left behind and mourning for those people and relationships.  Now, I am not reliving that, just recognizing the sacrifices that were made and mourning those losses, so I can allow my Savior to heal me, instead of having them buried underneath 30 years of life.  Functionally, I am cleaning out the closet and finding some nasty stuff in there.  As I came to that realization, the Spirit's gentle whisperings were "I need you to see what you have done in the past and recognize the strength you have within...."  I have the feeling I am going to need that knowledge in the near future.  I am not excited.......

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
5.  The Savior asks us to do really hard things, but waits patiently until we are willing and able to do it.  I have been trying to drop 30 pounds for about 10 years......  I try and try and try but seem to have these emotional places that get in my way. (I think I have gained and lost the same 10 pounds 10 or 15 times.)  I have not been able to break through them to figure out the psychological reasons why I eat the way I do and cannot seem to maintain proper food intake to have the results I want.  Today during my scripture study, I had a major emotional breakthrough.  I think I understand why it has been so hard and I can see that without my new understanding of today, I have not yet been successful in years worth of effort.  I think I am ready and now I believe I am capable of actually dropping the weight and keeping it off.  Theory is always different than application and my new knowledge is theory.  There will still be some 'falling off the wagon' as I learn to apply the new knowledge.  I will struggle.  I will make mistakes.  I will have some failures.  But as I keep moving forward, I will also have more success than I have in the past.  I need to be patient with myself and not beat myself up because it is a process and it is hard and it is new.  I can do it, with His help.

6.  Each of us has to learn to rely on our Father in Heaven.  I recognized this morning that in all of my life, my Father in Heaven has put people in my life who have been able to provide me with the emotional support I need.  I have always had someone there who fed me emotionally.......until recently.  In the last few years, all of those people have moved away from me.  I have not really been able to talk with anyone regularly about the deep troubles in my heart.  I have had to learn to pour them out to my Father in prayer.  It is never usually one great big long prayer.....but lots of teeny prayers throughout the days.  It is hard sometimes when I do not feel supported or fed.  But He never leaves me hanging.  Like Peter when he was walking on the water, every time I get to the point where I just can't do it by myself and I am starting to sink, I call, and He reaches out to me.  He pulls me close and lets me cry and gives me enough encouragement to dust myself off and try again.  Which leads me to my last point......

7.  I can trust Him.  I do not trust anyone.  I allow people to participate in my life to an extent.  But I have never trusted most of them with all of my heart.  I have been hurt emotionally too many times by people who are suppose to protect me and love me.  It is an every day work and effort for me.  Every Day!  He wants me to share my best self with people.  I don't yet.  Because I know people are going to hurt me.....He is asking me to let others in.  I am afraid they will ruin the curtains and jump all over the furniture and graffiti on the walls of my soul.  I keep them at a distance, so they cannot do that to me.  He reminds me that even if they do those things to me, He will heal me.  He will always come.  He will never let me go.  Only I can let go of Him, but He will not let go of me......EVER!  He is God.  He cannot lie or He would not be God.  I can trust Him to take care of me, even when no one else will.  This has been the hardest doctrine of all to apply.  I forget it daily and need to be reminded.

I cannot believe I am writing.  I have not wanted to look that deeply into my soul but these things have been running around in there for quite a while.

I love teaching seminary!!  My class is GREAT this year!  We went from a class of six to a class of 16---pretty regularly!  We have 21 on the rolls and only one student has not shown up at least once.  I feel that is a huge success!  And we are at the point where the class talks together and communicates with one another.  We have seven sets of siblings, which provides its own unique challenges.  But we are working on it.

Now that I have ventured into my soul, maybe I will update you on real life in a few days.....maybe not.  I may still have more things to think about without putting it out on the blog.  But we will see.

Until then, just know that I know Jesus Christ heals.  He is real.  He knows you personally, all of you---heart, sorrow, sin, thoughts, beliefs......all of it.  You do not have to hide from Him.  He knows where you are anyway, so you might as well just face yourself in the mirror, acknowledge where you are, and decide to do what you need to to be who you want to be.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
It is so freeing to be true to yourself, especially when that truth is in line with His Truth!  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


copyright: Karen Larsen photography
I had the impression that I needed to call my mother today.  That is fine.  I haven't spoken to her for a few months.  I made the call and we spoke.  We ended up speaking about things when I was a little girl.  I just rattled off some of the things I could remember:

  • Sitting in my mother's bedroom on her bed while the hailstorm poured outside of our house.  Eventually, the hail destroyed our front room window.  There was glass and hailstones all over the front room.  We never felt scared though because we were safe with my mother.
  • My brother setting the field on fire during a very dry Texas summer.  He went to the fire station to be scolded on being more safe with fire.  Instead he got to turn on the fire truck lights and slide down the pole.  I was so jealous, I considered lighting the field on fire.
  • My other little brother got his heel caught in the spokes of one of my parent's bicycles when they put him into the child seat and rode around.
  • My grandmother in Oregon made me a teddy bear for Christmas because I was living so far away from her.  I remember sticking my fingers through the wrapping paper and feeling his fur.
  • Throwing up outside of my mother's bedroom door, in the middle of the night, because I was sick.
  • The scorpion falling off of the ceiling and into my bowl of cereal.
  • Hiding and crying in my bedroom closet because my mother lost a baby and it was a boy and I wanted a sister (I already had three brothers at the time) and didn't think God loved me or was listening to the desires of my heart.
  • Jumping the fence on the side of the house and getting my shirt caught on the cap of my tooth.  When I jumped down, the cap came shooting off.  I searched in the grass for what seemed like a long, long time but couldn't find it.  Late that night, my mother noticed, asked me about it, I feigned ignorance and she was sure that I had swallowed it without knowing and insisted that we go to the hospital and x-ray my stomach looking for it.  It was in the grass on the side of the house.  I never told my mother, until I was married with many, many children.
  • Catching lizards and climbing trees.  One day we even caught an armadillo!  That was a great day!
copyright: Karen Larsen photography
As we were talking, it came up that I had spoken with my father on Father's Day.  We discussed my grandparents' accident and how it has and did affect my father.  My father actually shared some of his feelings with me that Father's Day.  My mother was surprised.  Then she told me some things about my grandparents and my father that I didn't know.
  • My grandfather visited bars every night after work.  My grandmother would send my father to the bar to bring my grandfather home, almost every night.
  • My grandfather didn't think that my father was capable of very much or that he had the skills necessary for helping him.  
  • My grandparents built a house.  My father was a plumber and had been taught to do that and some electrical work, and building skills by my uncle who was a contractor.  My father offered to help his parents with the work and save them some money.  Grandpa didn't think Dad could do it and hired a contractor instead of accepting my father's offer for assistance.
  • My father won't accept responsibility for anything being his brothers struggle with the same thing.  On the flip side, the women all accept more than their fare share of responsibility, even for things that are not their fault.
  • My mother tried to get my father to attend counselling for their marriage.  He wouldn't go and said there wasn't a problem.
  • My mother tried to get my dad to go on a second honeymoon.  My dad wouldn't do that either.  Part of the reason was because the money came from my grandparents' estate.
As we continued to talk about my dad and the things my mother knew that I had no clue about, my understanding and compassion toward my father grew.  I recognized how hard life must have been for him.  How unloved he must have felt and probably does feel.  His brother and sister rarely talk to him.  His parents are deceased.  My mother left him.  He feels like I abandoned him also, and many of my siblings can only handle so much of his toxicity before they have had enough and need some space.
copyright: Karen Larsen photography
Over the last year, I have learned a lot of things about my father that I didn't know.  The information is helping to change my perspective of who he is and where he is and what are realistic expectations to have of him.  I am more capable of managing conversations with him, especially when he says something intended to hurt me.  I can let the comments roll off, and even better, I can place appropriate responsibility for behavior where it lies.  I can take what is mine, and I can give what is his back to him without accepting what isn't mine and without being mean or hurtful.  Those skills have been invaluable in building something between us.  

The Lord has given me time and space to develop into a person who can manage some abuse and then appropriately place it back where it belongs without doing harm.  Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the doctrines of the gospel, I am more capable of properly handling negative emotion and abuse, without it affecting me like it used to.  I am healing.  Hopefully, I will be able to share some of those things with my father, and he will be able to heal also.

The other miracle that happened in our conversation, was that for the first time, my mother admitted that she had made bad choices that hurt her family.  In all of our conversations in the past, she has not expressed what happened in those words, where she said, I did this, and I shouldn't have.  That is healing to me as well.  I don't need her to apologize.  I just have wanted her to recognize that her decisions affected the rest of us and she was in control. She could have made a different choice.  Now, she can completely repent, heal and let go.  

I am so grateful for the principles of the gospel!!  How amazing they are when we live them and allow them to penetrate our hearts and become a part of who we are.  I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and His example of how to treat people who do wrong to us, and shows us how to forgive and then gives us an opportunity to practice!