Friday, March 28, 2014

Family First Friday....#13...Teaching obedience.

On Sunday, my sweet primary president gave a sharing time about reverence.  She had each of the children write on a piece of paper something that is reverent or something that is not reverent.  She collected all of the papers, then called the children up one by one to choose a piece of paper and read what was on it.  Then the children decided if the behavior was reverent or not reverent, and they placed them on the chalkboard with a magnet under the correct word.
It was obvious that the children knew what reverent behavior looked like.  Yet they were still struggling with doing what they know.  I was conducting.  As I stood there, I asked them a simple question:  What if you know what to do, but you do not do it?  What is that word?

Easy, and the children knew the word:  Sin.

Right.  When we know what we should do and we do not do it, that is called sin.  I pointed to the board.  "You obviously know what behavior is reverent and what behavior is not reverent.  So when you choose not to show reverent behavior in church, instead you are choosing to ......?

"Yep, sin.  Even as adults, we struggle sometimes, (in my case, a lot of times) with knowing what we need to be doing, but choosing not to do it.  We sin too.  And that is why we need the atonement of Jesus Christ.

"Jesus has said, no unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of God.  When we sin, we are unclean.  Christ says, if we will repent of doing the wrong things and change who we are and what we are doing, He will not remember our sins anymore and He will forgive us of the wrongs we have done."

The concept really is that simple, simple enough that children can understand how it works.

This example is something Smiley and I have been working on.  Also, on Sunday, I happen to be fixing the bulletin board right outside of Smiley's classroom.  The door was open.  I heard the teacher say these words, "Smiley, I really need you to sit in your seat."  Then he told another student the same thing.  A few minutes later, he again said, "Smiley, get into your seat."

At that point, I poked my head through the door.  "Smiley, can I talk to you a minute."  He had that deer in the headlights look.

"Are you doing what you are suppose to be doing in class?"


"Do you know what you are suppose to be doing in class?"

"Yes, sitting in my seat."

"Are you doing that?"


"OK.  Here is the deal.  Starting right now, if I hear or see that you are not behaving in class or sharing time the way you are suppose to, you will lose Friday's stay up night.  Do you understand?"

"Yes.  Starting now?"

"Starting now."

Today on the way to school, I reminded him of our conversation and just asked him to repeat it to make sure he had retained the information.

He had.

Then, this afternoon, I had to have the same talk with our daughter, regarding homework and food choices.

Almost the exact same conversation!!  Then I took a look at my own struggles and realized, yep, I need to practice some application of the same principle as well. 
Isn't it a wonderful thing that the Lord loves us enough to teach us of this simple doctrine and then to be patient with us as we learn to apply it in many different areas of our lives.  It isn't, "Do this!  Oh, you didn't do it?  Then here is your punishment."

In my experience, it goes more like this:  "Do this......."

"Uh, did you remember that I told you to 'do this.....' "

A few weeks later in scripture study, " this..............."

Months later, "Heavenly Father, I am really, really struggling.  Please help me."
"Did you do this????  Maybe that is why I asked you to do that.  Maybe you should consider doing it now?"

I am so grateful for the counsel to act on what we know we should do immediately.  (Sorry, can't find a quote right now.)  But I am grateful for the knowledge that when I act immediately on inspiration, I am blessed.   "Be swift my soul to answer him and jubilant my feet."  When that is my response, I am so much happier and have greater peace. 

As we teach our children to be obedient to what they know, I hope we are all leading by example, and continually examining our lives to see where we can be in greater harmony with those teachings.
By the way, I cannot wait for tomorrow as we get to view the very first General Women's Conference!  I am looking forward not only to new insights and inspiration, but to hear the vision our leaders have for us today!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

300th Post!!!

I had wanted my 300th post to be something totally spectacular and special....instead it has just proved to be a big factor in writer's block!

I have so much running around in my head and heart right now, that I just decided that I had better give up my 'big dreams' of what the 300th post should look like and start writing so I can move on!
copyright Karen Larsen photography

Starting from today and moving backward:

I have had a few more Ms. P interactions (for background, see this post [The Saga] and this post [Lessons learned from the Saga]).  The interesting thing is that since I know and understand why I have issues with her, when we have another Ms. P incident, I can recognize that my initial reactions are not kind and should be curtailed until I have more time to think and process a proper response.  This week, I was again infuriated at another incident.  Instead of reacting immediately, I simply left the situation, and prayed for help in responding like the Savior.  My anger was still an issue in the evening (incident began about 2:30).  But as I wound down for the evening and got ready for bed, one of my children made a comment that led to a thought that gave me new insight into some of her struggles.  My heart softened and as I drifted off to sleep, I had a clear idea of what my behavior should be.  Then in the morning I prayed for more strength and acted.  However she chooses to react to my action, is not my responsibility.  It is hers.  I was kind.  I was gentle.  I was open and managed my response with an open heart and with the Spirit.

This week we have been catching up on Sun's homework.  I think it is all in a good place.  We are actually on track and I don't think it will cause us too much stress to keep on top of it.

My laundry is backed up from two weeks of not doing it because of March madness and illness.  The games are back on tomorrow and I only have one person who is still kind of sick.  The rest of us are functioning.   And I have been plowing through the laundry.

Sport has been getting everything ready for graduation and his attendance at BYU in the summer and fall.  You know, even though the kids grow and leave the house and they aren't here everyday to eat each meal and wash their laundry, they still need my time and attention.  Sometimes I need to drop whatever my agenda is for the day because one of the college boys calls and wants or needs to talk or needs help with something.  Because their schedules are crazy, with school and work and activities, I usually need to drop my agenda to talk with them when they are available.  I guess it still amazes me how much time it takes and trying to make the sacrifice to drop whatever I think I need to be doing at that moment.  Crazy.

I watched a girl friend's little people for about an hour the other day (they were about 2 years and 3 years old).  All I could think of when they left was, wow, I am so very glad we are older than that.  They were adorable and not any trouble.  Really.  It just reminded me how very difficult those days were when we were all so very little!  Exhausting.  There is a special place reserved in heaven for mothers whose children are so little and so close together.
Elder Holland said so:

In speaking of mothers generally, I especially wish to praise and encourage young mothers. The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. The young years are often those when either husband or wife—or both—may still be in school or in those earliest and leanest stages of developing the husband’s breadwinning capacities. Finances fluctuate daily between low and nonexistent. The apartment is usually decorated in one of two smart designs—Deseret Industries provincial or early Mother Hubbard. The car, if there is one, runs on smooth tires and an empty tank. But with night feedings and night teethings, often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue. Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life. It is not surprising when the shadows under their eyes sometimes vaguely resemble the state of Rhode Island. .....

When you have come to the Lord in meekness and lowliness of heart and, as one mother said, “pounded on the doors of heaven to ask for, to plead for, to demand guidance and wisdom and help for this wondrous task,” that door is thrown open to provide you the influence and the help of all eternity. Claim the promises of the Savior of the world. Ask for the healing balm of the Atonement for whatever may be troubling you or your children. Know that in faith things will be made right in spite of you, or more correctly, because of you.
You can’t possibly do this alone, but you do have help. The Master of Heaven and Earth is there to bless you—He who resolutely goes after the lost sheep, sweeps thoroughly to find the lost coin, waits everlastingly for the return of the prodigal son. Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.

Remember, remember all the days of your motherhood: “Ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.” 10
Rely on Him. Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever. And “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.” 11 You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master’s garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.” 12 And it will make your children whole as well.

This is one of those talks that I always keep close.  I need the doctrine and the support that comes from these words of Elder Holland.  I need them many times throughout the year.

Tomorrow my seventh child turns 11!!  We are only three years away from all but one of the children being in mutual!!!  That is so crazy!!

Well, that's my update.  There, of course, is much more drama going on than that, but since it is private drama and not public drama, I cannot tell you all of it.  Just know that whenever I am quiet, I am wading through lots and lots of drama in lots and lots of areas that affect my life :-)

So, maybe my next post will actually and a theme and a focus.  Or maybe not!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Family First Friday--The time for teens is now!--#12

I know it seems like I have dropped off of the face of the blogging community, but I have actually been attending to my job as mother.  I have one blog post in draft mode that I started about a week ago and never finished.  I had plans for a second one, but didn't even approach my computer.

What have I been doing exactly that has kept me so busy?  Well, to be very honest with you, attending to my teenagers.  Teens are a very volatile group.  They are wonderful and they are amazing, but if you really want to be a part of their lives, you have to 'strike when the iron is hot,' meaning you have to speak to them in real time, when they are in the moment and when they need the information. If you are waiting for the right time to talk to them, you will miss the moment.

Here is a 'for instance' (not this week's issues):

One of my children was struggling with doing what I asked, when I asked.  I was getting very frustrated with him.  I needed his help and his unwillingness to do what asked when I needed it was hindering my abilities to function in the household and take care of the other children.  I tried for a long time to figure out what I could do or say to help him understand how significantly I needed his help.  After a little while of pondering, I had this thought, "Doesn't he count on you to do things for him?  What if you didn't do those things right away."

Hmmmm.....what if I didn't?  What would that look like?

This particular child at this time in his life needed me to take him to all of his activities.  He is a very social child.  The next mutual activity was at the park.  When the time came to drive him where he needed to go, I told him to go and get in the car.  I would be right there.  While he was waiting for me, I changed the baby's diaper and started the dishes.

He came back in the house.  "Mom! What are you doing??!"

"The dishes."

"But I have to leave!!"

"Oh sorry.  Go and get the baby in the car and I'll be right out."  He took the baby.  Then I found something else to do inside.  He came in again.

"Mom!  We have to leave!"

"OK."  I went to the car.  Turned it on.  Then decided I needed a bottle for the baby and went back into the house.

"You've got to be kidding!"  he said. 

As we drove away, I decided the car was low on gas and made a quick trip to the gas station.  The activity time is just ticking away.....tick, tick, tick........

After gas, I remembered that I wanted to run another errand.  I left him in the car with the baby while I went into the store for a little shopping.  By the time I returned to the car he was furious!

"Mom!  The activity started 30 minutes ago!"

"Oh!  Really??  I'm sorry.  Would you like me to take you there now?"


By this time, the ride in the car was silent.  I think the baby had fallen asleep.  As we drove to the park, I started the conversation.

"So you must be really, really frustrated at me if your activity started 30 minutes ago.  We've been in the car for almost 45 minutes now."  Silence.

"Well, I have been doing some thinking.  I realized the other day that there are so many things recently that I have asked you to help with.  You say you will do what I ask, but then you don't.  Son, those things are causing problems in our family.  I rely on you a lot to help.  Part of being in a family is all learning to work together and do our part to help everyone out, especially your mother.  Then I realized that there are things you count on me to do for you as well.  I have been doing them.  Today I decided maybe I should help you as much as you have been helping me."  Silence.

As we arrived, I said, "I hope you are not too upset.  But I also hope that you will make a greater effort to do the things I ask, when I need them done."

He slammed the car door as he left.  But I didn't have any more issues with him not assisting when I asked.

This week, I have been seizing the moment with one of my teens.  He has needed me, even though he didn't think that is what he wanted or needed.  It has been a rough couple of days, but I think we are again headed in the right direction.  Having two days off of school and spending time as a family probably won't hurt anything either.

There is nothing more important in the entire world happening right now than the decisions this particular teen was making in his life.  They were decisions that will affect eternity, so they needed my undivided attention.  You need to do that with teens.  If you wait too long, the moment will pass, decisions that cannot be undone will be made.  If you are not paying attention, you may even miss that those kinds of decisions are being made.  Part of my personal prayers are to know that those kinds of things are happening in the lives of my children.  I don't want to miss being able to weigh in on those decisions.  (My heart and prayers also go out to all of those families who are still waiting for word of their loved ones on MH370!  We are praying for you all!)

Have a great March Madness weekend!  My bracket is already looking sad..... :-)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Family Traditions--Family First Friday #11

Today is an amazing day at our house!!   We have many children who are amazing at math.  They are not necessarily brilliant, but amazing is accurate.  Today is the 14th day of the third month.  If you put those numbers together, you get:


Pi day.  Or as we know it, Pie day.

Every year on March 14th, we celebrate pi day, by purchasing several pies from Marie Calendars.  This year, it is french apple, cherry, and chocolate silk.  I personally am not a big pie girl.  I like cake.  So I am having strawberry shortcake, because the pies I really like are the fatty, creamy ones with tons and tons of milk, which is probably why I like them.  (In my humble opinion, they are the only pies worth eating.  Periodically a pecan pie will work, but with all the nut allergies in our home, I'd rather just avoid the entire possibility.)

This is just one of the many traditions that happen at our house.  Sunday, is, of course, selection Sunday where the teams who have made the NCAA basketball tournament are announced and the bracket is laid out.  Which means for all of the days from Monday to Wednesday at midnight, all the people in my home will be filling out their tournament brackets choosing which teams they think will make the final four, and then win the championship.  It is a very serious and intense time in our home.  Then on Thursday morning, the fun begins!!

If you are in the third grade or older, you get to stay home from school on Thursday and Friday and Drew takes off work.  We spend three days watching basketball from 9 a.m until about 10 p.m.  We have lots of fun food.  (Not pie, we can only afford to do that once.)  We joke around with each other, root for our teams, razz each other about whose team really tanked it and laugh at each other when our final four teams, or worse, our championship teams are out in the first or second round.  Then we start cheering for the teams that will make the others in our families tank their bracket as well.  Mind you, this does not get ugly.  We do not allow that.  If we can tell that someone is really upset that their team is out (because when you are working with children that happens periodically a lot!).  We are kind.  We teach that losing is part of the process.  It happens to all of us.  And we model proper behavior as adults, when it happens to us too.

These are just a couple of the fun things we do in our family to enjoy each others' company and build family unity and solidarity.

Family traditions are important because they say, "This is what means you belong here."  It is an identity creating experience.  In our home, we do not have enough money to take elaborate vacations.  Drew's busiest time at work is over the summer, so vacations during that time are almost always out or if we do something, Drew cannot come.  March Madness and Pie Day are things Drew can do with our family, and they do not cost more than our family budget can manage.  

The point is, family traditions are an important way of bringing the generations together.  As those traditions are passed down through the generations, they give each successive generation things that connect them to those before them.  Stories from those activities are then passed down as well.  For instance, with our March Madness, Slim's first bracket (3rd grade) he picked Duke to win.  They did that year.  Now, no matter how horrible their record is, if they are in the 'big dance,' Slim usually puts them somewhere in the final four.  It is really funny.  That experience solidified for him, a love of the Blue Devils.  (At least their school colors are the right color---that's all I am saying.........[every school I have ever attended, beginning with middle school, has had blue and white as their colors]).
I just thought this was hilarious!
Family traditions don't have to cost a lot of money.  They just have to be consistent.  Some small traditions at our house are using china and formal table settings for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinners.  We put weird fruit in the children's Christmas stockings.  Sport always gets a pineapple.  I don't think everyone at his house, when he is the father will get fruit.  But he has already said that everyone at his house will get a pineapple in their stocking.  We will see what his wife has to say about that.  Family prayer, family scripture study, and family home evening are also family traditions.  I hope those things are passed to the succeeding generations as well!

But those are things I look forward to watching.  As a new husband and his bride begin their family, they will bring positive traditions from his family and positive traditions from her family, and together they will decide what it means to be a part of their family.

PS....check this out:  Strengthening Marriage and Family through traditions.  I found it this morning!!  See??  Traditions really do strengthen families!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Presto Chango!

OK I was just too excited so I had to post!!!  I love working in Photoshop.  I only have the elements program so I cannot do any really cool things and I really don't have the time to play with the program I have.  I am very sure it can do way more than I can do with it.  But I just figured out how to change the color of some of the backgrounds I have!!!  That is so huge!!!  It increases the numbers of papers I have exponentially!!  Check out some of the papers I played with!

I changed this:
To this:

And this one:
to this:

And this one:
to this:

OH!!!  Exciting!  I wonder if I can do the same thing with some of my embellishments??
Hang on......

I can!!!  I can!!!  Not that these are so awesome or anything...but here's an example:
To this:
Crazy huh??
Ok.....that's all.  I'm going to go and play some more!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I'm Finished!! (thanks Jocelyn!)

Yesterday I finished reading the Book of Mormon for the umpteenth time.  I have no idea how many times I have actually read it.  Every time I do, I am still amazed at the number of insights I have.  Even though I know the majority of the stories inside, outside, up and down, I find new pieces, golden nuggets of information that help me with my life today.  Perhaps it is because I am a different person every time I read, so different passages of scripture just hit me differently each time.

If you have not yet read this book, I suggest you start today.  If you do not have access to a hard copy, you can find one online (right here).  If it is not in your language, you can change that.  In the search bar of your internet browser, where it says 'lan=....', mine says 'eng' (English) if I change it to 'spa' then it is in Spanish.  I do not know all of the language codes, but I'm sure you can figure yours out, just try a couple of them.

I have a testimony of this wonderful book!!  It is a record and a history of a family who became two great nations.  Over the generations of people (the book spans 1000 years of history, 600 BC to 400 AD, and includes an abridged version of the record of another people, the Jaredites, in the book of Ether) hearts are hardened, societies changed, wickedness ensues, and then hard times come and the people soften their hearts, repent, and begin to be righteous and prosper, until greed and envy overtake them again and the cycle repeats itself.  But some of their stories of lasting change are amazing!!

I can see how principles in the Book of Mormon apply to me today.  They help me to make better choices in my life and help me have the courage and determination to make the changes necessary and bring my life into harmony with the laws of God.  My heart is changed and I am turned more to the Savior through the words of the incredible men in this book.  I cannot wait to meet them one day and thank them for their diligence in keeping their records so I could have them and my children and grandchildren can know where to turn to for peace and happiness in their lives.
I want to leave a similar legacy.  I want my children and grandchildren to know that I am a woman of faith.  That I have been willing to stand tall and true and to be obedient even when it was hard and I wasn't sure I could do it.  I want them to know that my strength and determination comes from my personal relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ, just as those men and women in the Book of Mormon.  Like Nephi, I want to say, "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."  2nd Nephi 25:26

I am so grateful for the continued influence of the Book of Mormon in my life.  I never tire of it.

Last year I finally read the Bible from cover to cover.  I hope to make that a regular reading also.  Yea for the scriptures!

PS.  If you would like a hard copy, shoot me an email and include what language you speak/read.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Here is my secret:  I am really, really bad at asking for things, especially from my Father in Heaven and from my family.  When I was younger, I learned that it didn't matter what I asked for, I was probably going to have to figure it out by myself.  So for the most part, I also learned that I could not rely on others.  It was a lot easier in my life to just assume I had to do whatever it was on my own, than to ask for help and be disappointed because someone didn't come through for me.  The good part about that is that I am extremely self-reliant.  The bad part about that is that when I really need help, I don't ask for it.

So for the latest phases in my adult life, the Lord has been trying to show me that He is not as unreliable as the rest of the human race and that if I really need something, I can ask for it.  They are painful lessons, I might add.  Change is really hard, especially if it means that by asking you have to put yourself out there and be vulnerable and I would rather just handle it on my own.  (PS I am sure that is why the Lord has sent me so many children.  I cannot possibly keep up with them all on my own.  I need His help and the help of my spouse and periodically the help of my ward.  If I had fewer children and they were spaced farther apart, I would just handle it all on my own.  Nice, huh?)

Last weekend, we had a stake relief society function to celebrate the Relief Society's birthday.  Their guest speaker was a dear friend of mine who at one time had served as one of my counselors when I was the ward young women president.  Her husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year.  This past year has been a whirlwind ride for them as they have moved, sold their home, started cancer treatments and just tried to embrace what the Lord has had in store for them.  She is truly an amazing woman and I dearly, dearly love her and her attitude!  It was a sweet activity.

For the luncheon, they had little party favors on the table.  They were colored glass rectangles (mine is purple, but they had yellow, green, blue, brown, etc...), held up by a little wood block and on them was written one word, either 'ask,' 'kneel,' or 'listen.'  You know which one I got right??  Yep.  Mine says 'ask'.

And this week, I have a story that matches my theme.

For the last three years, I have wanted a new blender.  I had one that worked.  In fact, I had three, the $20-$30 ones, with a glass mixing thingy.  Over the last few years, I had broken all of them.  One was usable but was chipped on the top and you had to be careful or you would cut yourself.  I use my blender almost every day to make smoothies, or blender pancakes, or to blend up vegetables for soup, or to make strawberry jam. 

Thursday I had invited our missionaries over for dinner and they wanted broccoli cheese soup for dinner.  No problem.  I have mad soup making skills!  Earlier that morning, I moved the blender forward to make smoothies at lunch.  The blender was not securely placed into the motor.  As I moved it forward, the glass thingy wobbled and fell right onto my beautiful green tile counter tops and shattered into a million pieces.  Ugh!

 Thinking quickly on my feet, I remembered it was grocery shopping day.  No problem.  I will just buy another $40.00 blender at Costco and use my household budget money.  Sweet! 

I got to Costco at 3:30, with dinner guests coming at 5.  Went to the blender aisle.  No $40.00 blender.  What??!!!  It was here last week!  Frustration.  They had the $500.00 blender I have wanted, but didn't feel like I could justify that.  And they had a $150.00 blender that was on sale for $120.00.  I still didn't feel like I could justify that.  I went on with my shopping.

Somewhere in the middle of shopping I had the thought, I should just call Drew and tell him my dilemma and ask him what he thinks I should do.  A few minutes later, I did just that.  (I also needed diapers that week that usually don't come out of the household budget.)  After a few minutes of negotiation, Drew suggests that I pay for the diapers out of the household budget and he will take the blender money out of another budget category and I can have the $150.00 blender!!!  Sweet!!  I am all over that!  And I got my Ninja blender from Costco!  I really wanted a heavy duty blender because I want to make hummus.  I love hummus and it is so expensive!
So the point is:  Ask your Father in Heaven for the things you need.  There are some principles regarding asking that we should discuss later.  But we'll save that for later.  Have a great day!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Work of the Soul--Family First Friday #10

In our fast paced and busy world where almost every waking moment is or can be filled with distraction and noise, it is tempting to believe that is how life should be.  The truth be told, however, most of us cannot function at that pace for very long before we are burned out and none of us should be running at that speed very often.  However, as the adversary has nothing better to do with his time than to distract us from eternal pursuits and entrench us in sin and misery, we are constantly bombarded with the temptation to join the rat race and run until our hearts give out.  So how do we refocus and make the eternal work of the soul a priority?
copyright Karen Larsen photography
What even is the work of the soul??  Well, to be honest, it is learning how to change negative thoughts, actions, behavior patterns, and beliefs into positive thoughts, actions, behavior patterns and beliefs.  It requires changes of heart and attitude and repentance.  Many times, the things that are holding us back from getting the peace and happiness we want in life are beliefs or understandings that we don't even acknowledge on a conscious level.  It takes a lot of time and help from the Spirit to uncover those things so we can then change them.

The first thing to do is to make time every day.  It doesn't have to be long, but it should be quiet and as free as possible from distractions.  Being a mother of many children, I know that is easier said than done.  For me, I try to get up early every morning before the people in my house do.  That is when I say my prayers, read my scriptures, write in my journal, and prepare my agenda for the day.  I personally need about an hour to get out of bed, hit the bathroom, pray, read and ponder.  Obviously, some days I am more successful than others.  It is important to recognize there is an ebb and flow to your process.  It is alright that it doesn't always look the same.  For instance, if the baby is up all night teething or because he is ill, you may not be able to get up at 5 a.m. having just finally gone to sleep at 3.  Give yourself permission to have an ebb and flow to the work.  As you participate in the process, it will become easier to you. 
copyright Karen Larsen photography

Opening the process with prayer is vital.  As you pray, ask your Father in Heaven to what He would have you do that day or who He would like you to help or what He would like you to focus on.  Then as you read your scriptures with pen and paper by your side, be prepared to write down the specific thoughts, feelings, or impressions you have.  Some of them will make sense immediately, others will need time to incubate.  One morning during my scripture study, I received the phrase 'girls' camp'.  Well that's nice.  What is that all about?  I haven't been to girls' camp in more than three years.  I love camp but I don't think there are any plans for me to attend this year, at least I don't know of any.  I didn't have any idea what that meant, just 'girls' camp'.  Hmmmmh.   So on went my day.  Later in the day I was looking for something.  I came across my girls' camp folders, looked through one, found some thank you notes and remembered my earlier prompting.  So I looked for other girls' camp folders.  I found another one.  Underneath it were some files I didn't recognize.  I pulled them out and looked through them.  They were and old family home evening lesson, five copies, all with cardstock in them.  I had needed cardstock for one of my primary activities that day, but thought I didn't have any and would have to purchase some.  Since I had five copies of the lesson, I knew I didn't need that many and was able to use the cardstock from one of the lessons, print what I needed on the back and use that.  My 'girls' camp' phrase that didn't mean anything at the time, came in quite handy in finding something I did need later in the day.

More than just finding things and getting help with the little daily decisions, opening with prayer can open your mind and heart and unlock patterns of behavior or negative thoughts that have kept you bound in mortality.  What are your personal beliefs and thoughts about motherhood or fatherhood?  How about that lady in the ward who drives you crazy?  Do you hate your calling?  Or a child?  Or your spouse?  Is there a doctrinal subject you are struggling with?  How is your personal relationship with Jesus Christ?  Or are you too mad at God to think about that relationship?  We are all just mortal, just people, normal people with personal struggles, every day.  The question is what are we doing with that struggle?  How are we managing it?  Are we learning and growing?  Or letting it fester and bother us and destroy our faith and hope?  We can be the captains of our own journey, which can be positive and healing when we allow the Holy Ghost and our Father in Heaven to help us through the atonement of Jesus Christ.  Yes, it can be scary.  We can learn things about ourselves that we didn't want to know.  But we can also learn how to change things so that our lives can be beautiful and fulfilling and in the process, we clean out the old emotional baggage and free ourselves from emotional, spiritual, and psychological bondage.  Isn't that what life is all about---change, for the better?  Out with the unhealthy and emotionally damaging, in with freedom and happiness.  You can have it too, but you have to be willing to do the work.

Think about it like cleaning out the garage.  In order to use the space more effectively, like to store the car, have a game room, or exercise room, or just to be able to find everything, you have to clean out all of the garbage and junk that has accumulated.  Your soul or spirit is similar.  Sometimes the thoughts or beliefs you hold there are not necessary or are organized improperly or are no longer helpful or useful to your life.  They bog you down.  It is important to periodically take a look at those things and clean them out so your life can be more fulfilling and you can use that spiritual space more effectively.

Recently, I have learned that some thoughts and attitudes I have about one of my parents isn't true.  My wrong thoughts and attitudes have led to a lifetime relationship that causes me problems, grief and sorrow.  Because I have been able to understand these previously held beliefs aren't true, I am able to change my behavior in certain circumstances so the outcomes of our relationship are more validating of my feelings and person.  Previously, I have been a victim of these beliefs.  I fall into the negative cycle of our relationship and do not know how to get out of it.  But as I recognize those beliefs are not true, I can then become an agent in the interaction and not feel like every time I interact with my parent, it 'turns out like this'.  Does that make sense?  I can't exactly give you details because that would be unkind.  But the idea is that when I changed my beliefs about what was happening, and see the interactions in a different light, I am then able to change the cycle of our relationship.  In the process of validating my feelings and honestly interacting kindly in the relationship, I do not leave our interactions feelings victimized.  I leave them feeling empowered. 
copyright Karen Larsen photography

This is a lot to take in.  So think about what I have said so far.  Is there something in your life you would like to change-----a belief, a relationship, a behavior???  Deeply think about what your thoughts and beliefs are regarding the subject.  Ask Heavenly Father through prayer to help you identify something in your thought process that is inaccurate.  Take some serious time to ponder and pray about it.  If you don't have enough time in one day, take little chunks to time over many days.  Make sure your thinking time is quiet so you can really focus and have a conversation with yourself and hear what the Spirit has to say to you.  We'll talk about what to do with that information another day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Happy Birthday Speedy!!

Today is your day Speedy!!  Happy, happy Birthday!!!
What to say......
Speedy is a very compassionate soul.
He cares about each and every person.
He tries very diligently to make sure others are included,
that their feelings are considered and valued,
that they feel like they belong and are important.
He is extremely passionate about his beliefs.
He is still trying to figure some of them out.
He knows the Lord will be there to help him.
He is kind, loving, and sensitive.
He loves man stuff (knives, fighting, swords, explosives...).
He will watch a chick flick with me if I twist his arm.
He recently learned that he loves biology and he is really good at it!
If you are a soft, squishy, warm blooded animal, Speedy loves you!
I'm sure he will own a farm, or his wife will wish they did,
not because he is a farmer, because he loves animals.
He has an amazing imagination and will one day
be a famous author of adventure novels....mark my words.

The night Speedy was born, it was Relief Society homemaking night (women's church group) when they still called it that.  My husband and I had an interview with the stake president that night, so I wore a dress to the activity.  My contractions were hard, but I wanted to make the interview and visit with my friends at homemaking, so I endured the pain.  Our interview was at nine pm, 20 minutes away from home and the hospital.  During the interview, I was more uncomfortable than I can ever remember, sometime in between my contractions, the stake president asked my husband to serve as the Elders' Quorum President.  As we left his office, I had to stop to breath through the contractions.  I knew we needed to go to the hospital.  It was 10:30.  We drove the 20 minutes home, grabbed my bag and changed my clothes, arrived at the hospital at 11 and Speedy was born by 11:30.  (That is why his nickname is Speedy.  No one else arrived that fast.)

Speedy has always watched his brothers get into trouble and known what to avoid in his own life.  He learns very quickly that way and applies it well.

He has always been pretty good with babies and was absolutely amazing with Spike!  Spike was born in July and Speedy began his homeschooling for middle school that fall.  For two years, Speedy and Spike were buddies, doing everything together.  Speedy was my right hand man during that time.  He learned how to cook and managed making breakfast almost every day for two years.  (At first, his brothers complained, but Speedy's cooking got better with practice :-)  He took Spike for walks, put him down for naps and at night, fed him, changed him, and held him when I needed help.  People at church loved to watch them interact and then tell me about their observations.

Speedy, I know sometimes you are unsure of yourself.  I think you are getting better and more confident as each year goes by.  I think you are an amazing young man and I am so very proud to call you mine!!  Thank you for your example and perseverance, especially when your younger siblings annoy you.  It all comes full circle right?  You were once the one annoying people.  Now you are the one being annoyed :-)

Love you!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Of Fathers and Sons

Being a mother of eight boys, I should have enough experience to speak about fathers, right?
I spoke a little in this post about my father's relationships with his sons, and his relationship with his father.  But lately I have been thinking more about positive father/son relations.  A few years ago, I was prompted that a friend was having a really difficult time and needed my prayers.  I only saw him at school when I was there for the children.  He wasn't around for what seemed like weeks.  When he finally returned, I asked him how he was doing and mentioned that we had missed seeing him.  He then told me that his father had just passed away and he had been attending to his father during his final days in mortality and taking care of the arrangements after his passing.  He was still visibly tender from his most recent experiences.  I could tell they had a sweet relationship; my friend had even said as much.

When our boys were young, they came to me for help and comfort.  I was their rock, their foundation, their safety.  During their teens, again their relationships with their father struggled a bit.  When they were willing to talk, they usually talked to me.  I enjoyed that part of our relationship.  It was sweet.  It always bothered my husband.  He was glad they were talking to one of us, but when they were hurt and would come to me, he would say, "They always go to you!"
check out Spanky's photo bomb!
As our boys are becoming and are men, they now increasingly turn to their father, which is fine and doesn't bother me.  It is sweet to have them call and say, "Hi Mom.  I love you!  Things are good.  Is Dad there?  I really need to talk to him.  And he isn't picking up his phone."  Now my husband gets the scoop before me and then he gets to tell me about their conversations, usually.  There have been times when they have conspired together for a secret only to let me in on it later, because they wanted it to be a surprise.  One of these days I am going to meet a prospective daughter-in-law that way, I am sure.
and this one!

I am so grateful they feel like they can talk to their father.  They have someone to look to and help mentor them as they enter manhood and become men, husbands, and fathers in their own right.  Currently, many of them are laying the foundation for their ability to provide for and support their families.  They have questions and they want and need counsel and guidance.  And the amazing man I am married to is there to help them out.

can you believe him?
 He has a great relationship with his father!  He may not think so.  They argue about plenty and do not have the same opinions about most things.  In fact during our early marriage, I was always so surprised that they could have a lengthy and heated discussion about whatever, only to never have it negatively affect their affection for one another (in my house, that kind of discussion meant you were at war).  They just agreed to have a difference of opinion about the issue.  Their love for each other is fierce.  They do not agree, regularly, but their love and concern for one another is evident and consistent.

Our sons grew up in a home where they could have a difference of opinion also.  It wasn't always pleasant and caused plenty of tension in the air, but our boys always knew they could rely on their father.  He would be there for them even if they disagreed with him.  The ability to have that kind of a relationship, until now, has been foreign to me.  But it is amazing all the same.  Watching my adult sons interact with their father is priceless.  I can only imagine as they become fathers, their relationships will deepen that much more.
my husband actually 'trying' to look mad

In my Book of Mormon reading, I have also enjoyed studying the father/son relationships.  (Some of which are located here:  2nd Nephi 1-4; 2nd Nephi 31-33; Mosiah 27; Alma 36-42; Moroni 7-10.) 
I really appreciate the fathers pleading with their sons to make righteous and moral choices and then see a few chapters or a book later, the sons then pleading with their sons to make wise and moral choices.  I love seeing that faith and hope passed from generation to generation, for what more do we all want than to see that our children and grandchildren grow up to be moral and happy people who strengthen the community around them?

Family Science literature has just begun exploring the dynamics of the father and child relationship.  I haven't read many of the studies, but from my own experience, healthy father/child relationship tend to correlate with healthy self-esteem development and greater confidence in their children.  My dear friend and I both struggle in our relationships with our fathers and both of us have difficulty with our confidence levels.  We have both had to work very hard to develop positive self-images and to feel good about who we are and what we can do.

I guess the point to my post is just that fathers play a vital role in children's lives, particularly their sons, but also their daughters.  I am grateful to have a husband who understands and values his role as father, and that he will pass on positive father/child relationships to his children.
Yea for fathers and sons!