Sunday, May 31, 2015

Maybe Moving....Day 7, 8, 9, and 10

We have an entire week before it will even be time to drive down to the interview.  A lot of things can happen in a week.  Saturday we attended a baptism in the morning and watched the BYU football game in the afternoon.  Because the game was played on Thursday, we just watched the parts we wanted to, stopped at half time and watched a soccer game, then picked up the rest of the football game.  Later in the evening, I ran to the hardware store to pick up a few things that would help me to take care of those little fix-it projects on my master-list.

While I was there, I also picked up some flowers for the front yard flower bed.  Gotta' have those right?

Sunday was the typical church day, until the last hour when all chaos broke loose.  The Senior primary (kids ages 8-11) were totally out of control (and there were only 7 of them, so it shouldn't have been a big deal---but it was).  I won't go into the details but I ended up putting the wrath of Sister Lund into a couple of them.  I tried to be nice and sugar coat it, but they know what their behavior should look like from now on and what will happen if it doesn't.  Enough said.  That little fire girl inside me??  Yep---she was out!

It probably would have helped if my three year old would have stayed in nursery, which he wouldn't.  And if he hadn't been screaming because he wanted to sing Book of Mormon stories and they were working on the Primary Program songs instead.  Yep, that would have definitely helped.  And if I hadn't had a new sister in the ward in my face about how things were going with my child in nursery.  Ya---that didn't help either.

I was frustrated enough that Speedy went and found his dad to tell him that I was on the 'war path' and Drew, my bishop, came to find me sitting in the Primary room almost in tears.  Such a frustrating day.  I'll tell you, I was ready to pack it up that day and move away right then and right there.  But I didn't scream, and I didn't yell, and I wasn't mean.  I was firm and insistent and made sure the message was received and understood.  Now I get to enforce that next week.  Lovely.

Then Monday, we were all so exhausted from the weekend and stress of the week that we kind of hung around the house and didn't do anything.  Well, most of us didn't.  I washed the walls in the living room with my very favorite Mr. Clean eraser.  Then I planted those flowers in the front yard, which included digging up my bulbs and moving them so that in the spring the flowers don't grow on top of each other.  You know, I used to love planting flowers.  It made me feel good to be out and digging in the dirt.  I still love it, but my body is a lot older now and it doesn't do that as easily as it once did.  By the time I was finished, I was finished for the day.  I sat down and drank some water and then made simple broiled chicken sandwiches for dinner with a salad, and we used paper plates.  Then I was really done.
I felt a little like the guy in the stripes!
So today the children went back to school and I took Slim to the dentist for a couple of fillings, filled out the back to school paperwork, filled out the dependent verification form and paperwork for our health coverage, and washed my kitchen window.  Now I'm working on the laundry.  Here a little and there a little, I'm trying to cover that master list and continue with the day to day workings of our family, which at the moment doesn't include any packing, because we don't know we are going anywhere yet.  (But I am more apt to get rid of stuff.)  Slim is working on the garage today.  Yea for small favors.  Tomorrow I will probably have to make a dump run.  More loveliness.  Happy days!

Friday, May 29, 2015

FFF #19 2015--For the Love of Seminary

Last Friday, we held a 'Freshman Orientation' in seminary where we invited all the incoming freshman to attend seminary and see what it was like.  It was a ton of fun--mostly because currently we have only 3 students regularly attending.  That day, we added seven students--so we had a real class!!  Don't make fun of me.  I know three students, two students, any student is a real class.  But truth be told, without the freshmen who are coming, we should have about 14 students in there now, and then add about 10 next fall.  And instead we have three (really four--one had serious health complications) faithful.
For our orientation, I made cinnamon rolls.  Anyone who makes cinnamon rolls, will tell you that, of course, they taste better fresh out of the oven.  But when class starts at 6:15 a.m., you have to get up pretty early to make cinnamon rolls.  I got up at 3 a.m., went back to bed from 3:30 until 4:30, got back up and rolled those babies out and put them into the oven.  By then, it was time to get up and get ready for class.  As I was rolling dough, I was reminded that every Friday of my freshman year of seminary, my seminary teacher made us fresh cinnamon rolls--not one Friday---Every Friday of the entire school year!!  That meant that every Friday she got up at 3 a.m. to make them for us.  Seriously, she must have loved us or something!

I can't even remember her name!  I am sure she is long gone.  She was not young 30 years ago.  Now it was my turn to show another generation of youth how much we love them.  Now, I just don't think I have it in me to do that every Friday, especially as long as Spike is still climbing into my bed most nights.  We had broken him of that habit and he was climbing into bed with Sun.  Then he got brave one day and walked through the dark of the house and up my stairs and into my bed.  He hasn't gone back to Sun.  Darn it!  We will work on that over the summer.  For this year, next week is my last week of seminary until the Fall.

I guess I just wanted to have you think about the sacrifices you are making for your calling.  Are you sharing your love and appreciation for the Lord by the way you minister to those you work with or for in your callings?  It is a lot easier for me to do that when I work with the youth than when I work with the Sunbeams---but it shouldn't be.  I should be able to share that kind of love and spirit regardless of where I am working or with whom--even if I have to pray for that ability---a lot!
Sorry this isn't longer, but you probably have a lot to do today anyway!!  Tomorrow we are taking a friend to receive her endowment!  I am super excited about that!  I love attending the temple!  (This will be the 2nd time in one month!  I think that is a record for me since we have lived here.  We are four hours from the closest one.)

Have a great weekend!! I will!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Maybe moving.....Day 6

Well, we got the phone call today.  They want him to interview on Tuesday September 9th.  That isn't going to work because Drew has a judges meeting that day where he is presenting the budget (I think, don't quote me on that!).  Anyway, we are trying to work out another day for an interview.  Right now we are waiting to hear.  I'll probably write more later today after we hear what we are doing.  But I know my sweetheart feels so much better knowing that he is getting an interview.  So funny!  I love that man, but he is a worry-wart!

K.  Stay posted.  More later.

Well, we now have an interview set for the 10th.  We will see how things go.  Hopefully when we go down there we will be able to talk with a few of the ward people there and check out some housing opportunities.

Also, I told Speedy today.  He is excited!!   It is really funny to watch how the kids roller-coaster through their emotions of the pluses and minuses of moving.  One minute they are excited and giddy about the possibility and another minute they are mopy and sad about what they are leaving.  So very, very normal for the situation.

Alrighty, over the next week while we are waiting, we will just keep doing more research and taking care of things at the house.  How exciting!
(Here's another one.  Yes, I was crazy!  I wrote three posts in one day.  Nuts, I know.  But sometimes the time was just getting away from me and I had to document something.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

High School Update

Well, Sun did some politicking and wrote a letter expressing her desire to be reconsidered for acceptance to our high school.  She sent the letter three weeks ago.

Friday, they called to say they had reconsidered and they would accept her.

I wasn't happy.  I had finally reconciled myself to the fact that we were doing something different and I was moving on with Plan B.  I struggled most of the day.

Sun and her siblings and her father, I might add, were all ecstatic!  I fought my sadness the rest of the day.

Yesterday, we met with their representative to discuss a few concerns.  Sunday Sun decided that she really did want to attend that high school.

I have accepted her decision.  She is comfortable that things happened for a specific reason and have helped her define who she is and how she needs to go about decision making.  I am glad that she has some concrete reasons for how things happened.  I am glad that she is seeing growth and development in herself.  I am glad she is happy.

As for me, I will have to adjust my attitude, as usual.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Maybe Moving Day 3, 4, & 5

Well, day three and four were so crazy with normal life that I didn't get hardly anything 'moving-wise' done.  I think the only thing I actually accomplished was cleaning the rest of the blind in the laundry room.  On those two days, I had three visiting teaching appointments, back to school night, a meeting with a teacher, a primary visit that fell through, dinner guests that fell through (so grateful for both of those cancellations!)...anyway, you get the idea.  I was busy.

Day 5 was a little different.  We had the moving guy come out and give us a quote for packing up our house.  Actually, we asked for two quotes, one with them doing the packing and one with us doing the packing.  Wanna take a guess as to the price??

I'll give you a minute to figure it out.

Done yet?

I made a hazard guess and so did my husband and my son.  The frustrating thing was that we all chose the same number at different points in time and we all thought it was totally ridiculous!!  But it was accurate, which was totally scary.  OK here are the numbers:

Ya!  Over $10,000.00, for them to do the packing and only just over $7,500 for us to do it.  And you know that would be low because you know they do not have an accurate weight of all of that stuff!  Drew said we could hire a few guys from the YSA branch and pay them $500.00 a piece and probably do it cheaper.  So totally nutso!!  I am still just a little envious of those who can afford to do that or have their company do it for them.  Whatever.  That has never been, and I guess will never be, our lot.

But we also had some break-through in that because the moving guy was coming and I home school Sun, I didn't want to freak her out.  So I prayed about it and had the thought that I should just tell her why he was here.  Just before he arrived, I pulled her aside and told her that her father had applied for another job far away, that we were considering moving, but a lot of things had to happen before it was something that would happen.  I also asked her not to talk to anyone else about it because I hadn't told any of the other children.  But that I would probably tell Shorty soon, because I thought he would have the most difficult time with the process.

Slim was good enough to share with me some of the struggles he had when we made the move from Utah to California.  He told me that for him the move was too fast.  He didn't have enough time to process what was happening before it happened and that is why he pretended to be sick the first week of school.  He needed more time.  All of that is emotionally valid and I have even thought that if we make this move, I may just home school everyone until Christmas so they have some time to adjust to a new house, new neighborhood, new ward, etc...  Moving is hard emotionally on people, even little people and we need to think about them too.
(I decided to put in some of the same photos from a post I published on the day I wrote this.  See if you can find it.)

So later that afternoon, while Smilely was at piano and before Speedy was home, Sun asked if I was going to tell Shorty.  I thought I should, so I did.  He didn't take it so well.  He spent the evening talking with Slim and processing stuff.  I went to a RS activity.  By the time I was finished, Slim and Shorty were at the building with a list of Shorty's concerns about the move and how it would affect him.  After the activity, we spent 1/2 an hour at the building, talking quietly about those things.  He was much better and seems to be happy today so we will see how things go from here.  I was clear with him too that the reason I didn't want to say anything to him was because, at this point, we do not know if we are going.  So stressing and crying about it is wasted emotional energy.  I asked him if I shouldn't have told him yet, or if he is glad for the time.  He said he would want to know and he was glad that I told him.  Sun and Shorty spent the rest of the evening playing ping-pong in the garage by themselves so they could talk about their feelings.

So much emotional drama.  Luckily we are going to process it one person at a time. :-)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Maybe Moving.....Day 2

Well....None of you know this yet and I don't know if I will ever publish it, but I felt the need to document the process of our possible move.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

Last week, my sweetheart applied for a job down south by his parents.  It is a great opportunity!!  We have serious reservations about moving and how it will affect our lives and the lives of the children.  Slim knows our plans and has been involved almost from the beginning.  At this point, we have not told any of the other children.  Application were due a week ago and this week, we are awaiting the phone call requesting an interview for next week.

Because my husband and I have both had promptings that would seem to indicate we might actually be moving, we have begun the research process.  My sweetheart has priced homes and looked at crime statistics according to neighborhoods.  I have been researching schools and educational opportunities, including the school rating, etc..  We have called a few of the bishops in the area to ask some preliminary questions and just get some basic ideas about the area.  They have been so kind to tell us to stay out of certain areas because crime is awful!  But they have also told us places that are good to be looking.

Last week, I put together a preliminary list of things that need to happen at our house to prepare it to be sold, just touch up things mind you, nothing major, except that wall paper in Sun's room....nasty, nasty wall paper that I started pulling off thinking I would have plenty of time to do it at my leisure....NOT!  The more I peel off, the more mold I find.  It is disgusting!

Anyway, today on my 'master list' for the house I cleaned half of the blind in the laundry room, washed the inside and outside of the laundry room window, and wiped out all of the cobwebs.  When we were laying the carpet, two weeks ago, I cleaned out under the washer and dryer and rearranged everything in that room.  Later today, I'll wash off the washer and dryer and clean out the broom closet.  I may or may not finish the blind today.  We'll see.  It will either be that or go and spend an hour getting wall paper off in Sun's room.  OK... I spent an hour and a half in Sun's room with the peeling and the clean-up.  Yuck!!  And Slim put out many, many things on our magic corner where things just disappear!  Today was an exercise bike, an elliptical machine, a vacuum, a stroller, a high chair, and an office chair, all gone in half an hour!  Sweet!!

Oh, as a side note, did I tell you that I put together tonight's dinner at lunch and realized that I am going to have to make something completely different???  I don't have enough for dinner and my kiddos won't eat it anyway!!  I hate it when I have to change my plans!!  Ugh!  Maybe we'll just have sandwiches tonight?....
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
Today is the first day of school.  If you want to see how fun it was, read my post from then, August 25th.  We'll get more done tomorrow!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Family First Friday #18--family photo shoot

We had most of the kids home this year between May 2nd - May 7th, only a five day window.  We had a friend who does photography as a hobby come and take photos of us at the beach.  It was a super windy day and the sun came out just as we got there.  He took a ton of photos!!  The colors are great!  The wind, not so much.  We are going to have to do it one more time. 

Some of the individuals are really good and we will use some of those, but none of the family ones will work.  I thought you'd like to see them anyway.  So here are some of the funnier ones.

So you can see, we're going to need to take some different ones :-)  Besides, Slim wasn't there.  We will try again in July when they are back for Richard's wedding!!

I will update some of the individual photos if we find some that we like :-)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Maybe moving......Day 1

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
 About 3 weeks ago, (remember today, writing day, is August 26th, 2014) Drew's boss passed on an announcement for a different in a different court.  When he brought it home, he was excited.  I was not so excited.  Remember in February of 2013, I thought we were moving also, because of a job which we had applied for and were waiting for the interview.  (Read here if you so desire, and here for the background and here for the rest of it.)  But it became apparent quickly, that the Lord had other plans for us.  So when Drew brought home this announcement, I thought, "Oh ya', been there done that.  We are staying.  We always stay."

 As I went to bed that evening, with that attitude, the Spirit gently walked my mind through some significant details in the life of our family.  As I pondered on those thoughts, I heard the words, "This is different than your last experience.  You need to be supportive of this and enthusiastic and helpful in the process."  Alrighty...sure.  No problem.  I can do that.

For three weeks we have been pondering the 'what if' scenario.  Last week applications were due.  This week we are waiting for the interview scheduling phone call.  (You realize that if this doesn't go anywhere I may not publish any of these posts, right?)  After the application was all turned in, because that is a process all unto itself, you know, I made myself a 'Master List' of all the things that would need to be done inside the house to prepare it for our leaving.  For some reason, yesterday, I felt the need to document, on my blog, the process.  Maybe it is so I will have some posts to publish while the actual move is occurring and I won't have to stress about having stuff to post when my house is in chaos as we move down the state.  (I really don't have any idea why this is necessary, but the Lord does, so I will go and do.....)

Know that we may not move.  We haven't even interviewed yet.  But taking care of all of these things on our list won't hurt us any and will help us if we actually do make the move.  So there is no reason we can't just jump in and get started, making the actual moving time easier if we are really moving.  There you have it!

Here is the Master List:

Sun's Room:  Remove the wall paper
                     Paint 3 walls
                     Clean the windows

Green Bathroom:  Spakle the hole Smilely put in it
                            Touch up the paint
                             Replace the towel and toilet paper holders the kids
                            Erase the pencil Spike drew on the wall
                            Clean the window

Blue Bathroom:  Clean the ceiling over the shower
                          Touch up the paint over the shower and the toilet
                          Clean the window

Speedy's Room:  Restain the window shutters
                           Clean the window

Hallway:  Replace doors for the closet

Living Room:  Touch up paint in all the place Spike has drawn on the walls
                       Spakle and repaint where we changed the lock
                       Glue down the baseboards
                       Patch the Gold curtain
                       Clean the windows (Inside and out)

Slim's Room:  Clean the windows
                      Wash the sink and mirror (see if the water still works because we don't use it)

Family Room:  Touch up paint (ceiling by the back door and over the stove)
                       Paint the baseboard where they took off the carpet
                       Goo Gone the hardwood flooring they put in
                       Clean the windows

Kitchen:  Replace the sink molding
              Clean out the cupboards
              Fix the drawers (3)
              Paint the microwave cubby (?)
              Clean out behind the refrigerator (Yuck!!)
              Replace the element in the oven
              Clean out the ovens
              Glue the stove top
              Clean the window

Laundry Room:  Clean out the broom closet
                          Clean the blinds
                          Clean the window

My Bathroom:  Unclog the sink
                        Clean the windows
                        Wipe down the shelves and cubboards

Hallway:  Clean the shutters
               Clean the window
               Clean out the cupboards in the sewing room

My bedroom:  Clean windows
                       Clean out closets

And I have a huge list of things to get rid of that won't make the cut for the move.  Do you want that list?
It is just a bunch of junk, but maybe will help someone else.  Good thing I have my 'magic corner'.  I don't know what I am going to do when it is gone!

The get-rid-of list:
     All exercise equipment
    Folding table and chairs
    Dryer (extra one in the garage)
    Extra dishwasher
    Various other things, but those are the biggy items.
   Old lawn mower
   Most of the bicycles

Remember too that this is just the inside of my house.  It doesn't include much of the garage or the backyard.

**Read the post written on May 19, 2015 entitled Changes to get the context of these posts!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Today, at work, they are announcing that my husband is getting a new job.  It is really a promotion, as he will be working for the same court.  It is an interesting story as to how everything came about.
copyright: Karen Larsen photography

Last year, in September, we applied for another job at another court.  (And actually, we applied for a different job at a different court, the February a year before that.)  Our applications were not because we wanted to leave the area, but the jobs announcements fell into our lap and we felt prompted to follow the processes through.  The job in February Drew actually pulled out of the interview process because he felt that even if they offered him the job, we couldn't really afford to take it with the cost of living and housing in that area.  Going through that process was huge for me, because it helped me to uncover some feelings that I didn't realize I had.  They were stuffed way down there.  I really believe that if we had not participated in that recruiting process, those feelings never would have surfaced.

The job in September was slightly different.  I was told to ask Heavenly Father for the job, which confused me because I wasn't really sure that I wanted it.  But I was obedient to the promptings.  Then, because I was told to ask for it and how important it would be for the growth and development of my spouse, I assumed it was the Lord's will to give it to us.  Today He is giving it to us, just not in the court we applied to.  He is giving it to Drew here in the area where we already live and work.  When I thought we were moving, I began keeping a 'secret' blog that I planned to unveil when the move happened.  But since the move isn't happening, but the job is, I felt it was time to unveil it anyway.

It has been an interesting process to recognize that even when we do what the Lord asks, things don't necessarily (or usually in my life) turn out the way I anticipate or expect---the blessing comes, but it never looks like I think it will.  I thought you might enjoy reading my process.  Maybe it will help you as you sort through revelations and information you have been given.  My blog posts for this process are entitled 'Maybe Moving'.  I will start posting them tomorrow and throughout the next couple of weeks.

If you want to know what days I actually wrote those blogs, you can match the photos in those blogs with the photos in another blog, and then you will know which days I wrote which blogs.  Does that make sense?  The photos in the blogs that I wrote on the same days will match.  I don't think I did that with the first or second maybe moving posts, but I did do it with the rest.

I asked my husband how he is feeling about the announcement.  He said, well, there will be some people who are happy and excited, some who do not care, but several who will not be happy and will try to undermine him.  Won't that be lovely?  I really hate politics--anywhere, but especially small town politics.  But really, regardless of what size of city we live in, we all have to deal with small town politics, because wherever we work, or go to school, or go to church, or sometimes even in our own families, we all have small groups where people aren't always happy or kind when things go well for us.  That is so sad to me.  I wish we could all just be happy for the successes of those around us.  Another person's blessings does not mean something negative about us.  I struggle with it too and I have to fight my own feelings when someone else receives a blessing I want.

I struggled for many, many years because we could never afford to purchase a home.  We still have not done so.  After watching all of my friends purchase their first homes, sell those and purchase their second ones, and then watch some of my young women get married and purchase their homes, while I still haven't bought one has been super hard for me.  One of the only things I have ever wanted in life, was to own a home.  I finally had to decide that if that was not a blessing I was granted, it needed to be OK with me.  I think what finally did it was recognizing that I couldn't take it with me anyway, so why did I care if I owned one in mortality?  And I had to just let it go, which I did.
copyright: Karen Larsen photography

Regardless of the responses of those around us, I am grateful for the gospel in my life.  I am grateful the Lord honors His promises, even when they don't look the way I thought they would.  I can trust Him.  That is another huge lesson for me personally.  I have trouble trusting anyone, God included.  It takes a tremendous amount of faith and prayer to do what I know He wants especially when things don't usually look the way I think they should.  But I have found that the way Heavenly Father does it, always matches what He told me, blesses me more than I could have imagined, and happens in the time that is best for my learning and growth and development.  Life and the growth that comes with it is so hard sometimes--even when the blessings are amazing!

Have a great day and enjoy reading the process!!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Family First Friday #17 2015

I do not even know what to title this blog post.  I wanted to share all of the exiting things that are happening here at our house, because some of them are exciting!!  My BYU boys are home for the summer (or a part of it)!  Scuff returned home from his mission to Brazil!!  And Tammy has left for Utah!  Those are the highlights.  But in the midst of all of those great things, life has been super challenging and overwhelming.  And I have been super busy without even enough time to sit down and just blog the highlights.

Not to depress you, but to help you understand that we have challenges too, I have decided to blog about the things that are currently stressing me out, and some of the major challenges we are facing.  I can't share all of them, because, well, we are still going through them and they are not concluded, so to share too much too soon would be inadvisable.

However, since my birthday, Drew's best friend, Darren passed away, which I blogged about a little.  That was the first major blow.
copyright: Karen Larsen photography

Then, about a week later, we found out that Sun was not admitted to the high school I have had all of our children at for the past 9 years.  That was a low blow.  You may be tempted to think it was because she just wasn't up to the same academic standards, however that would be inaccurate.  The truth of the matter is that the principal of that school was looking for a way to keep her out.

Over the past two years, Speedy has been walking out of English class and refusing to read some of the vulgar and debasing 'literature' they have chose as their works of study.  It has not been a small issue.  They read literature that has debasing topics, graphic details, plenty of profanity, and then they watch the movies in class.  Speedy is more sensitive to those things than some of the other boys have been.  We, as their parents, have always given them praise and permission to stand up to exposure to anything they feel violates their standards, regardless of who is doing the exposing.

Last year the principal called me and told me that she also had 'conservative values' but wondered how I could justify Speedy leaving class and not participating.  After all, she contended, they were going to be exposed to these things in college.  Well, unfortunately for her, between the six of us who are older than Speedy, we hold eight college degrees, one in literature, and none of us have ever had a problem with the university literature courses.  The only place where we have a problem is in the high school English class.  Good grief!

There wasn't much she could say to that.
copyright: Karen Larsen photography
The year before the principal was upset because Sport petitioned the school board to take more than the allowed number of college credit hours so he could graduate with his Associate's Degree.  The board allowed him to do so.  You would think she would be happy that one of her students actually completed the purpose of the school in the four years allowed.  She wasn't.  The next day she shot down Speedy's petition to attend a higher level core support class that he missed admittance to by .001 grade points.  And the petition had been in for several weeks.  Seriously.

Sun's interview for the program was suppose to last 10 minutes.  It lasted 2.  I assumed that was because their decision for admittance had already been made.  I was right about that, but wrong about the conclusion. The principal came into Sun's interview only, and then that interview room was closed down.  The principal went into the interview looking for a reason to deny Sun admittance and when she had it, she didn't need to continue.

I could go on and on.   But suffice it to say, plenty of people were admitted with academic abilities and scores below Sun's.  There was room for her in their program.  The principal in her passive aggressive manner felt the need to flex her power muscle and send me a message:  Quit messing with her school.

For a while I was really angry--angry that she hurt my daughter, angry that Sun's application and interview was never about Sun, angry that she was willing to hurt someone else to get back at me (which seems to be the story of my life....), and angry that she didn't just have the guts to tell me how she feels about me and my 'values'.

Then, my sweet husband and my calling as seminary teacher put everything into perspective for me.  Drew read Sun this scripture in Matthew 5:

 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

copyright: Karen Larsen photography
He helped her to understand that what was happening to her wasn't because she wasn't as good as the other children or as capable.  What was happening to her was a direct result of Speedy's willingness to stand up as an example.  The rest of the scripture that follows expresses what Speedy has been doing:
 13 ¶Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Unfortunately, whenever good men and women stand for truth and righteousness, those seeking power and authority will seek to pull them down, even if they are only 14 years old!!

My studies for seminary those weeks were about the persecutions the early saints received as they were expelled from Missouri and unjustly driven from the lands they purchased and homes they built because of the choices of a few who had been numbered among them.  Joseph's instructions to them from Liberty Jail were also instructive to me.

D&C 123:

 12 For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—

 13 Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—

 14 These should then be attended to with great earnestness.

 15 Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things.

 16 You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.

 17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

I realized, God is my friend.  He knows my worries and my concerns, my strengths and my weaknesses, my efforts and faith.  He also knows my works and the thoughts and intents of my heart, and He knows those things about those who are my enemies.  I do not have to retaliate or seek retribution.  What more could I do to her than God will hold her accountable?  Do I think she can stop me or my children from achieving our goals?  Not if they are set in partnership with the Almighty.  What can she do to stop his work?

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).

And D&C 121:

 33 How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.

I just realized that I can trust God to fight my battles for me.  I don't even have to worry about them or be concerned if her wrong is ever righted.  God is my friend, my defender.  I will do what He asks, when He asks and how He asks.  Then I can stand back and know that those who stand against me are really standing against Him.  Let Him do what He will with them.  What is that to me?  It will be right.  It will be just.  And it won't stand in my way or the way of my children.
That is where my emotions have been the last several weeks.  There is more going on than that.  But what I cannot say.  You'll just have to stay tuned.  Have a great weekend!!  And hopefully I will find more time for writing and sharing the struggle of my soul.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Family First Friday #16 2015 Inviting to Act!

If you have been teaching the youth over the last year, you have probably noticed that the teaching programs have been revamped.  Before, the lessons were given pretty much verbatim.  Now, the structure is to decide what to teach, prepare to teach, make connections, learn together, and invite to act.

Over the last few weeks, I have not only been teaching seminary, but I have also substituted in Relief Society and taught the youth Sunday school class twice.  After I have finished teaching, I thought "Darn it!! I did not leave them with a specific invitation to ACT!!"
copyright Karen Larsen photography

This really bothered me because what good is the knowledge of the gospel if we don't ACT on the information.  Acting on the information, exercising our faith, applying those doctrines--that is where the real learning takes place and testimony becomes conversion.  Without the exercise of our faith--the acting--we leave out a necessary ingredient in the recipe of conversion.  We leave out the piece that allows the Holy Ghost to testify to the truth of our behavior and sink those doctrines deep into our hearts.

Luckily for me, the Spirit corrected me and reminded me of several places in the last few lessons where I did invite my students to act.  I invited them to bring questions to conference, to read their scriptures, to thank our Father in Heaven for the Prophet Joseph Smith and all of the doctrines restored through him, to search 'homosexuality' on LDS.ORG and read what the prophets have said on the matter, and many other things.  I just didn't invite them to act at the end of the lesson.

Years ago, I taught a lesson in Relief Society on the temple.  Because of the dynamics of that ward, I expected to TEACH those sisters about the temple.  When I actually taught the lesson, they knew all the answers.  They had the information!  I was dumb-founded.  I knew from my experiences with them that they were not applying those doctrines.  My assumption in teaching them was that their lack of application was due to a lack of knowledge.  My assumption was completely incorrect!  I spent the next several weeks studying how we can know something and still not do it.  What is the motivating factor?

As I pondered more deeply on the subject, I realized that we all do that to one degree or another, in one area or another.  I know what  kind of a visiting or home teacher I should be, but do I do it?  I know I shouldn't eat so much sugar and should eat more green things, but do I?  I know I should exercise to drop weight, but do I? As regularly as I should?  I know I shouldn't get angry at.....fill in the blank, but do I choose to control my emotions?  So in all of these areas temporal, spiritual, emotional, financial, and more, I know information that I do not act on.
copyright Karen Larsen photography

The real question becomes how do we motivate ourselves and others to act on information that we know is good and do something with it?  This is a much longer conversation than this blog post, but a few doctrinal principles apply. 

To answer the first question, I realized the major motivating factor for bringing our behavior in line with the knowledge of the gospel, is our feelings about and understanding of the atonement.  This could be a post completely on its own.  In fact, it is encompassed in several books written by the prophets.  If you are feeling less than motivated to apply the doctrines in your life, study the atonement of Jesus Christ, His life and His teachings.  Enough said.  (Well, not really, but like I said, BOOKS about the subject.)

My personal favorite patter of conversion is laid out by Mormon in Moroni 8:25-26.

 25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;

 26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

I know I have used this scripture before, but I thought I laid the cycle out somewhere, however I cannot find it.  Ugh (as Spike would say)!  Guess I will save that blog for later.  Just recognize the pattern:  the first sign of repentance is a person's willingness to be baptized, to act.  This presupposes that the person believes the information and understands why repentance is necessary.  As a person chooses to be obedient to the information and knowledge they receive, by exercising their faith unto repentance, they are granted a remission of their sins.  As their sins are remitted, their hearts soften which allows the Holy Ghost to enter.  What does the Holy Ghost bring?  Hope and perfect love (charity) and though not mentioned in this scripture, the Holy Ghost also brings revelation.  The love and hope that we feel from the Holy Ghost and the revelation that we receive, gives us new places and strength to exercise our faith by acting on the new information we receive (repenting again) and the entire cycle is kept in place by diligence unto prayer.  So start the process!!  Be obedient where you can, pray for faith, strength, courage, motivation and a change of heart where you are struggling.  Remember we are all struggling somewhere so be patient with yourself--but also make goals and strive for improvement where you are struggling.
copyright Karen Larsen photography

Here is my personal example.

I need to drop weight.  I make plans and effort to do so.  I recognize my feelings (about many different things) interfere in my ability and willingness to act.  I pray for strength and help to do so.  I have so much going on right now that my emotions have been a bit overwhelming (boys home from college, a boy coming home from a mission--tomorrow by the way!, the death of a dear friend, anniversary of another friend's death, Tams leaving for Utah, drama at Drew's work, end of the year school projects and graduation stuff, rearranging the house for people, conversations with extended family and their drama--just a lot of stuff going on in my life right now).  Because there is so much going on and has been, in my weight loss goals, I gave myself permission to just hang out at this weight for four weeks---no effort at loss, no beating myself up because of overeating, or eating the wrong things--just simple maintenance of where I am.  Patience with myself.  In a few weeks, when things settle down emotionally, I will re-evaluate and make different goals and continue my weight loss.  At this point, my prayers and faith are focusing on helping me to manage my emotions and learn different coping mechanisms than the ones which got me fat :-) all of which will eventually contribute to further weight loss.

Can you see how my willingness to try my faith (experiment upon the word) to repent (change) and be obedient (drop the weight), brings me forgiveness (of myself and others for past choices) which brings meekness and lowliness of heart, allowing the Holy Ghost to bring me revelation (which heals my heart and my body) and fills me with hope (to continue my weight loss journey and that I will eventually succeed) and love (for the Savior and my fellow man)?  And I keep that cycle going by diligence unto prayer, which strengthens my faith and motivation and tells me when to adjust my expectations?  Isn't that awesome??

Elder David A. Bednar, in his book 'Act in Doctrine,' lays out the pattern to conversion using Helaman 15:7-8.

 And behold, ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them—

 Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are firm and steadfast in the faith, and in the thing wherewith they have been made free.

Elder Bednar then says:

"Please notice the specific steps identified in these verses: (1) belief in the teachings and prophecies of the holy prophets as recorded in the scriptures fosters (2) faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Faith in the Savior leads to (3) repentance.  Faith in Christ and repentance bring about (4) the mighty change of heart.  Therefore, as many as have diligently and faithfully followed these steps are (5) firm and steadfast in the faith.  This is the pathway of conversion unto the Lord."

I LOVE this book!  It is laid out like a workbook with writing spaces for you to use and take personal notes as you contemplate how to apply the doctrine in your own life.

This post is getting super long!  And I have a ton to do!  Scuff arrives home from his mission tomorrow.  He should be about ready to board his plane in just a few hours and then fly all night to see us tomorrow afternoon!  Pray for a safe flight.  I will try to remember to post photos.  I have been so bad about that lately.  I am just so glad they are home that I do not even think about preserving the moment in film (that tells you how old I am :-)

Just remember whenever you teach, invite your students to act!!  Have a great weekend!