Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Maybe Moving Recap

Well, there you have it.  Those are all of my 'maybe moving' posts.  What did you think?  Kind of a crazy process right?  And then we didn't move and Drew gets the same job here.  However, the craziness isn't over.  More crazy things are happening at Drew's office.  We will have to wait to see how it all shakes out.  Maybe we will still end up moving, but not anytime soon, that we can tell.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

How do I feel about it?  To be honest, I have trouble reconciling the information.  In my heart, I still believe we will be moving, for a job, and to the original area.  What do I have to base my information on?  Only my feelings.  If we don't move, I don't really care.  I am fine doing what the Lord wants me to, as long as I know that is what He wants.  Drew thinks we will be staying here until he retires (at least three more years, but more likely, eight more).  I just don't see that happening.  But then, my life never looks like I think it will.

In high school, my friends used to tease me about being that Mormon Mom with nine kids and a station wagon.  I swore that would never be me.  Who would want nine kids?  I was going to college and getting a degree and then I would be a mom, but I would also have a career.  All through college, I thought about what kind of a job I wanted, marriage and family therapy, school psychology, something in counseling definitely.  Finally, the end of my Senior year, I got it through my head, either I would be a really great employee and a stinky mom, or a really great mom and a stinky employee, or just kind of making it work at both.  Where did I really want to spend my time and energy?  I did get my degree.  I do have nine children (and picked up a couple of honorary children along the way--Tammy and Richard).  I did drive a station wagon, at one time and ditched it as soon as we possibly could (hated that car!).  And my career?  Well, I have one of those too.  It is called Motherhood.  I use my degree everyday!!  Do you have any idea how much money I save in therapy alone?  And tutoring?  And tailoring?  And....and.....and......
This was the best family shot of our super windy photo shoot.

These people are my life!!  They get all of me, everyday.  Not me divided between them and my career, or my part-time sales job, or the PTA.  I am here, for them.  Does that mean I don't do anything else?  No I have a few hobbies and an exercise class with a couple of girlfriends, and quilting with some of the elderly sisters here in the area.  But I can drop any of those at any time to take care of my people, when they need me.  So whether we live here or we move, this is my job, and these are my people.

I LOVE my job!!  It is nice to know that I can live anywhere and it all comes with me!

Just to recap my maybe moving list of stuff:

I have gotten rid of a ton of junk, but I have a ton more to go so that is still in process.
I cleaned half of the windows in the house, but now they probably need to be done again.
I touched up the paint in the family room and have to finish the book shelf wall.
We replaced the flooring in the kids rooms.
I painted the microwave cubby in the kitchen and cleaned out most of the cupboards, but need to finish them.
I spackled the green bathroom but need to paint over it.
And I haven't touched Sun's room because we have college boys sleeping in there over the summer.  Hopefully I will get that done after they all go back to college.

That is the recap.  I will keep you posted as to the status, especially if we really do end up moving.  When we moved here, we knew two years ahead of time that we were coming.  It was super hard to continue to believe that was happening as the months and then years went by.  But here we are.  In September it will have been one year since I originally thought we were moving.  So maybe we just have to wait another year?!!

Whatever.  We will see, ay?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Be a Voice for Children

Sunday is not my usual posting day, but because the Supreme Court so graciously decided to announce their decision this week, I have felt the need to respond.
Now, I am not a very 'politically correct' person.  I say what is on my mind.  I told Drew one day (many moons ago when we were young and trying to figure out what his career path would look like) that I would not be a very good politician's wife.  I would always be saying something that would undermine his position or sticking my foot in my mouth.  Either way, I would be a liability for any campaign, and not an asset.  So even though my sweetheart is brilliant at politics (and he really is) we should look at something else.  So we work for the court--not the one that made that awful decision this week though.

There you have it.  I think their decision is awful, horrible, unconstitutional, and immoral.  Why?  I know, I have heard the rhetoric out there.  "We should be free to marry who we want to",  "Marriage equality under the law,"  "Civil rights for all,"  one person's sign even read "Our Constitution is a shield against Bible based oppression."

This is so sad to me.  Let me see if I can articulate this.  I understand other people have different opinions than me and different life styles.  I honor their ability to choose.  Inherent in that philosophy is that there will be varying and different opinions across the country, around the globe, even.  I defend their right to choose, which means I also defend my right to choose, and which means, I have a right to have my voice heard, as well.  I shouldn't have to be silent or agree with you.

Marriage has always been a religious ordinance, only recently sanctioned by the government, not the other way around.  Marriages, in history have been performed by clergy, various religious officers given the authority by the church to bind their patrons in holy matrimony.  It was not government sponsored, nor sanctioned.  At some point, the government began to recognize marriages (OK, at this point, I did a little research so as not to lead you all astray).  As for what I have been able to surmise, from the internet mind you (so we can all be assured it is correct---wink, blah!) marriage licenses didn't begin to be regularly established and required until 1923 with the Uniform Marriage and Marriage Licenses Act.  Before then, marriage licenses were required only by those people who wanted to be married contrary to their states laws, for instance, those married in an interracial relationship.  Other than those instances, marriage licenses were not required, i.e. marriage was not regulated by the government, federal or state.

Let's go back even farther.

In the Bible dictionary under Marriage, we read:

Among the Israelites, marriage was usually preceded by a formal act of betrothal, such a contract, when once entered on, being regarded as absolutely binding. On the marriage day, the bride was escorted to her husband’s home by a procession consisting of her own companions and the “friends of the bridegroom,” or “children of the bride-chamber,” some carrying torches and others myrtle branches and chaplets of flowers. When she reached the house, words such as “Take her according to the law of Moses and of Israel” were spoken, the pair were crowned with garlands, and a marriage deed was signed. After the prescribed washing of hands and benediction, the marriage supper was held. For a year after marriage a man was released from all military service. The gospel law of marriage is partially given in Matt. 19:4–9; Mark 10:2–12; Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7. Its meaning, as symbolizing the union between Christ and the Church, is explained in Eph. 5:22–32.

It does say they signed a marriage deed, but there is no indication it was regulated by any government.  It is recognized as a binding contract.  The question then is binding to whom?  Looking closer at the wording spoken when the bride arrived, it appears to be according to the Law of Moses and Israel.  I am pretty sure that law giver was not any man-made government.

And if we want to go back even further, we can just look at Genesis 2: 24 & 25:

 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Adam and Eve were married, by God, because, well, He was the only other one around.  I think that makes it His law.
Now, I recognize with all of these varied opinions, that not everyone will agree with me or even the sources I have used to validate my position.  That is fine.  But I want you to understand why it is so significant to me and why I cannot just throw it out because the Supreme Court said so.  In my mind, in my heart, in my place of core beliefs, this 'law,' 'contract,' 'obligation,' it comes from God.  He sets the parameters, not me, not you, and certainly not the Supreme Court.

I also understand that the Supreme Court interprets the laws of the land where I live.  I will uphold their decision, as theirs and now as the law of the land to which I live.  I believe in sustaining and upholding those laws.  But I also believe in my right to disagree with them and to fight to change them, if I feel they are not good for our society.

And you guessed it, I do not believe this law is good for our society.  I think it is harmful, even to the people who are happy about it.  How you ask?  Well, here is my biggest beef with it.
I believe marriage was instituted by God for the protection of families and specifically children.  I believe what the prophets have said:

"The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity...."

I believe children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony.  It is their right.  Each and every child is entitled to have a mother and a father, two parents of differing genders, married, and honoring that contract they made with each other and with God.  Homosexual couples, regardless of how committed they are to each other, cannot under any circumstances provide each and every child in their home with a mother and a father.  They are violating the rights of those children, the voiceless, non-voting population of our society.  They are doing so to fulfill their own selfish purposes, while taking away the rights of the innocent, and trying to tell them it is OK for them to do that and then perpetuate that philosophy down through the generations.  That is not OK with me.  I will stand as a voice for the innocent, for the children.  They deserve and are entitled to two parents of differing gender who are married and committed to those children because each of them participated in bringing that child to earth.

I have enough experience to know that not every child will experience the ideal.  I know there are some heterosexual couples who should never be parents.  I am not telling you that they are perfect, and yes, there are some very loving and kind homosexual people and couples.  However, that doesn't change the fact that no matter how loving and perfect they otherwise are, they cannot ensure the rights of those children are not violated.

I am sure my position is not going to be popular.  So be it.  I am obviously not here to win a popularity contest.  (Have you not read that I have birthed nine children?--Popularity is not on the radar.)  But I am here to tell you what I believe and why I believe it.  And it is a deep part of me, one that cannot just be changed because someone on the Bench said so.  Sorry.  There wouldn't be very much to my character if I was willing to change my position just because the winds of popular opinion did (---just ask some of the politicians, they probably aren't sleeping very well at night---).

But you watch.  Those who have now won the 'right' to marry, pretty soon they will be more than happy to silence people like me and stomp on the rights of those who do not agree with them.  They have already shown they are willing to walk on the rights of the children.  Why wouldn't you or I be next?

And if you are curious, here is what the Brethren have said on the subject:
copyright:  LDS.ORG
The Church issued the following statement Friday:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that following today's ruling by the Supreme Court, same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States. The Court's decision does not alter the Lord's doctrine that marriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God. While showing respect for those who think differently, the Church will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman as a central part of our doctrine and practice."

And I agree.

Friday, June 26, 2015

FFF #22 2015 Perspective

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
 Oh Yea!!!  Can I just say that?

I took my car into the shop on Monday because I would turn it on, and it would die, and I would turn it on, and it would die. Then I would turn it on, give it some gas, say a quick prayer, and drive away hoping all would be well until I reached my desired destination.  The mechanic thought that was strange.  So did we, which is why we brought it in.  It needed some other work anyway.  My serpentine belt squealed like crazy every time I drove the car.  It was driving me bananas, seriously.

So they fixed that.  Then they tried to figure out why it would die.

They replaced the spark plugs.  It didn't fix the problem.  They ordered a part that wouldn't be in until the next day.  Fine.  They put that it.  It didn't fix the problem.  When I called in the middle of day three at the shop, poor Steve told me that the car had actually died in the shop and they couldn't get it started again.  But finally, they found a loose wire.  When they pushed on it, the car worked, and when they didn't, the car didn't.  It was a pretty inaccessible wire, so they were going to try to find it the next morning, fix that, and hope that took care of it.

They did that.  It works! 

Can I just tell you that even though we have been down to one car for four days and I haven't been able to take all of the family anywhere, I am soooooo glad the car died at the mechanic's shop and not while I was out on the road with a car full of kids somewhere!!!  Totally worth the four days to know that is not going to happen!  Yippee!! 

This afternoon, I took the kids to the beach!  The boys who have been to Utah lately just complained because they said it was too cold.  Just to give you a little perspective here, the locals were out in shorts and bikini tops.  Those actually in the ocean surfing were in wetsuits.  The wind was warm, which never happens and the temperature?  A very nice and warm 59 degrees. 

Spike Spike played in the water.  He was soaked from head to toe.  After an hour, we had to pull him out because his teeth were chattering, but it was warm enough that I could change him on the beach instead of in the car, like usual.  (And the beach was packed!!  We had to wait for a parking spot, which I have never had to do either.)

That is all I have to report today.

Except, you probably would like to know how our stake presidency change went.  It happened :-)  And they didn't call Drew.  So in that vein, things in our ward won't change much!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Maybe Moving--Seven months later.

Crazy!  I know.  I should let it go.  It didn't happen.  We didn't move.  Now there is no job on the horizon.  No reason to move.  Nothing.

But guess what?!!  We are moving.  I know we are.  The Lord has told me so.  He hasn't told me when, but at this point, I believe that a year from now we will be thinking about it.  Wouldn't that be crazy??  Write a post a year early?  Nuts.

But now I believe what He has told me.  I know He can do all things.  I know if He wants us to have a specific job, we will have that job.  If He wants us to live in a specific ward, we will live there.  If He wants us to have more children and I am an old woman?  We will have them.  (I can write that because this blog may never see the light of day!)  I love the freedom that comes with privacy!  But musing, wise, I may as well write down my predictions for future posterity.

Well, let's see.  I know I have dark days ahead.  Hard days.  Days that will take my breath away and perhaps my desire to continue going to church and to ignore my prayers and the Lord.  They are on the horizon.  I just don't know what they look like.

I know I have a nasty pregnancy on the horizon, and I turn 45 this week (the week I am writing).  It will be ugly and difficult and hard.  It may or may not be connected with my dark days.  I kind of think they are two separate difficult things.  But we will see.

I know moving south is on the horizon.  When?  I am not sure.  At this point, I think in one year.  Where?  I do know that.  I kind of know what it will look like.  I think I know which ward and what school for the high school kiddos.  Maybe the little guys too.  (I actually put them on a waiting list for a school I think is the right one and the waiting list was like two years long.  It may be that long before we actually make the move. Nuts, right?  Yep, I know.  But you just don't leave those kind of things undone when you feel the inspiration.  I mean what is the worst that will happen?  We won't go, they will call and I will tell them, never mind.)  And, believe it or not, Drew will get that job.  Because the Lord said so.  So now we wait.

I was told that it wouldn't look like I thought it would, but the sea would part and then we would go and it would be fast.  Which is why I was told so early, so I could work on things slowly because when the time for moving came, we wouldn't have time to deal with stupid things, like junk.

That is my report seven months after the initial thoughts of moving began and the interviewing process and all of it.  I believe Him now.  It will happen.  I just don't know what the plan looks like.

And that is my report.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sun at EFY!!

Here is the video of my sweet daughter singing for the variety show at her session of EFY.  Just so you know, this is not her best work.  But it is the first time she has sung to such a large audience and in front of her peers, a Capella, without much rehearsal.  And this is the song she was singing when she learned that she really could sing---so it is kind of a special song for her.

You should know the story.  A few years ago, in the sixth grade, Sun decided to sing in her school's talent show.  She was the final number and she did an amazing job!!  Because she was young and did so well, we found a local singing/theater group here in town and signed her up for a class that did not require an audition.  She was one of the oldest in the class and the teacher told her that she thought she would really enjoy the next session in the class with kids who were more her age.

I wasn't going to sign her up for that class because it was a really short class and it was during basketball season while our family is totally busy.  Just to keep our schedule somewhat manageable, I thought she could skip a session.  The Spirit prevailed on me and told me that this was really important that she participate in this session.  Fine, I would manage the total chaos of our schedule to add her class to the mix.

 Because it was an in between session and there was no really big show at the end, there were only three kids in the class.  The teacher had ample time to focus on each of those students.  She gave each of them a monologue and helped them to find a solo to work on.  As she picked one for Sun and they were working on it, I piped in and suggested that Sun sing 'Part of Your World' from the Little Mermaid because I had heard her sing it at home and I knew how she felt about it.  The teacher readily agreed but said she didn't have that music.  But Sun had brought it with her!!  (She must have pulled it off the internet when I wasn't looking).  So they gave it to the accompanist and she started singing.

She was pretty tentative at first but somewhere after the first couple of lines, she got comfortable and really started singing.  The teacher stopped her, and helped her to see how her singing had changed and sent her back to the beginning of the song to sing it that way, which she did.  As her heart came through in her singing and it was beautiful, I just sat there and sobbed and sobbed!!  My little girl had found her voice and her gift!!  I was so happy that she had found a gift of hers that I couldn't stop crying.  Finally her teacher said, I think we had better sing something else before we do much more to your poor mother.

Anyway, Sun usually hits all the notes and doesn't miss them, but I think it is a pretty amazing job for the situation and circumstances.  And this is the song where she figured it out!!

PS..let me know if you can't get this to play.  I can't seem to make it play in the preview mode and I don't know if that is because of my super old computer, or because I am in preview mode, or because it really isn't working.  I guess I will try it tomorrow when it posts.  I really hope it works!!

IF it doesn't play for you, hit this link and watch it on youtube..

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Maybe Moving---Two months later

Well, at this point, I am not sure why I am still documenting this.  It is crazy to think that two months have passed and there is still no plan in site to be actually moving.  The job we were looking at has been offered to someone else and they are obviously working out.
I am not sure what the process is all about.  I have learned some significant things.  I finally can ask God for things that I need.  For a long time, I couldn't.  I just didn't feel like I could ask.  I am sure it is a product of my upbringing where I didn't feel like I could ask for things from my parents and if I did, they had serious strings attached.  But now, if I need or want something, I feel like I can ask Heavenly Father for those things.

The thing I am learning now, however, is that I do not always believe He will give them to me.  I have asked for this job, because He told me to.  I have asked for a house that goes with this job, because He told me to.  I had no problem asking for them when He instructed me to do so.
But now that two months have come and gone, I question whether or not those things are coming, even though He instructed me to ask for them.  Maybe I need to accept that just because I ask, doesn't mean it will happen.  Here though, I struggle with that because I was specific to only ask for things I knew He wanted me to ask for.  I know He has all power.  I know He can do His own work and He does not need me to do it for Him.  He can give me this job (or give it to Drew).  He can give us a house and He can do it whenever He desires to do so.

I still believe we are moving, because He told me so.  It is really difficult to continue believing in something when it would seem the time has passed.  Whenever I ask for clarification or a reminder of what I know, I receive the same information.  We are moving.  We are moving where I think we are going.

But I have no clue when, or how.  All I know, from past experience, is when the Lord's plan is implemented, things happen quickly.  There is no time for doddling.  When it does happen, it will happen fast.  So I guess I had better continue with my list.  I'll check it over and give a report in this post about where things are and what I still need to accomplish.  Then I'll get on it :-)
That's it for now !!

Friday, June 19, 2015

FFF#21, 2015--I'm Exhausted....but What's for Dinner?

The last two days, I have been helping out at Cub Scout Day Camp.  This is the first year I have ever done it.  To tell you the truth, because of the number of boys I have at our house, I think the last 20 years has been cub scout day camp every day---maybe that is why I secretly hope never to have that calling.  I feel like it is my life, every day, all day.

Yesterday was fine.  I enjoyed my time and came home still able to put together dinner for guests.  But today (maybe because I also did the grocery shopping) I was wiped when I got home.  All I wanted to do was to sit and watch a movie or something that took no brain and no body.  I didn't even feel like I could manage dinner.  In the past (once upon a time when our family still ate cheese and Spike Spike, who is allergic to everything, wasn't a part of the family) I would just buy pizza and we would call it good.  Of course, that was totally more expensive and even though our budget was tighter, I justified it much more often because the little people just wiped me out.  Now however, Spike is allergic to everything, so eating out isn't a lot of fun because of the consequences for him, which then translates to me.  Not to mention, we are doing a much better job in the budgeting area and we just don't have the money to eat out.
OK this was just hilarious, and fitting!!

I was totally happy tonight however, when I spent $10.00, bought cheese, bread (remember that I make almost all of our bread products), and ham lunch meat, made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (homemade....I will include the recipe) and that was dinner.  Not only were the kids satisfied, they were ecstatic!  Why?  Because I bought cheese!!  Seriously!  A year ago April, I decided that if we really were all allergic to milk, then I shouldn't buy cheese either.  So I quit for six months.  I told the family that is how it was going to be.  Then we learned to eat our food without cheese.  When the six months was up, I really couldn't justify the expense to put it back into our diet.  Every once in a while, someone will super complain.  But I just stick to my guns and that is how it is. Today however, I caved because I needed a break and was totally exhausted.  Grilled cheese it was.  And the masses were ecstatic!!  Even Drew was alright and happy that we were $10.00 over the budget, when this morning he told me to stay within it, because I bought cheese.  Oh the magic of milk.  When it isn't a part of our daily diet, we are all happier and less itchy and less grouchy.  But on a special occasion, (like Mom is wiped) it is magic.  Magic, I tell you!

So here is my amazing tomato soup recipe.  I adapted a recipe I got off of Zis Boom Bah.  (This website is also magic!!  We have used it to help out kids see what they are eating and how it affects them.  There is a lot more to the website than I have time to manage, but I really like it and it is a great resource!!)  OK  I guess I didn't adapt it that much.  This is their recipe:

Tomato Soup

1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves of garlic
1 TBL oil
1 Cup of onion
3 1/2 C Vegetable broth (I use chicken)
56 ounces of tomato (I just buy the #10 can at Costco)
2 TBL fresh basil (I use dried because that is what I have)

(I also add 1/2 chopped red pepper and 1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder)

Saute the onion, garlic and pepper until tender
Puree the tomatoes and sauteed vegetables (because my kids won't eat it if it has chuncks)
Add all ingredients and cook for 5-7 minutes on high
Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes (I don't usually do it that long--maybe 10 minutes)
Stir frequently.

Serve with anything......it is truly delicious.

This is the fastest, cheapest and easiest soup I have ever made, which makes it a winner in my book.  My kiddos love it, especially those who are allergic to corn and cannot eat the Campbell's kind.  It is fabulous with a sandwich and salad, for lunch or dinner, or even a snack and it packs up nicely in a thermos (if people still do that).  So tonight dinner took a grand total of 10 minutes, prep time included.  Throw in a bagged salad and you are good to go!

Good thing it isn't my night for the dishes, because they would be waiting when I woke up!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Maybe Moving....but no plan in sight

So today I fasted about moving.  I have felt so sure that we were moving and were going to get this job.  It has been frustrating because I had in my head how things would go.  We would go to the interview, maybe have a second interview, be offered the job and then make the move.  It would be that straight forward and easy................even though moving is never easy.

When it didn't happen that way, and I was reminded that I was told that it wouldn't happen that way, I held on for a little while with the hope that it would come through soon.  And then it didn't come, and it didn't come, and it didn't come.  I kept wondering if it was coming.  Could all that has happened just been in my head?  Could I have misunderstood the things I was feeling and thinking that much?  Really?  I have been really, really struggling.  Then yesterday I came to the place where I thought I must just have been completely wrong and misunderstood everything.  I was sad, mostly because I felt like I had been so very wrong and missed the information or the point of the information.

Today I fasted for clarity.  Yep.  That was it.  I just fasted for clarity--clarity in my thinking and my understanding of what I had been told and what the Spirit had been trying to communicate to me.  Sunday morning as I was doing the dishes (a lot of my inspiration comes while I am doing the dishes, or in the shower, or anywhere when my body is busy working, but it doesn't take much of a brain), and the clarity came.  'You are moving.  Yes, you are moving.  Be patient.  Be faithful.'

"Then why am I having such a difficult time remembering that information?  Why do I keep doubting?"

'Because I cannot give you the blessings if you do not have the faith that it will happen.'


I think I am blogging this mostly so that the next time that I doubt, I can reread this and remind myself that not only do I feel like we are moving, not only have I asked to have these specific blessings, not only have I had numerous impressions that validate that we are moving, but now I have fasted and asked directly and received further evidence that the previous information is correct.

This entire process is so very interesting, and frustrating.  My Father in Heaven has a time-table.  He has a plan.  Things are going according to His plan.  I do not have any clue what the plan is, or how it is coming together, and at this point, I have no external validation that the plan will happen.  But I have multiple spiritual witnesses that moving is on the agenda.  So now we wait-----or I wait, and exercise my faith.

Here is the talk I rely on most in situations like this:  Cast Not Away Therefore Thy Confidence, by Elder Holland.  The other talk that has helped me lately has been Trial of Your Faith, by Elder Andersen.
Wish me luck  I don't want luck----just pray for me as I continue to wade through this process.  Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Maybe Moving.....One month later.

Well, it has officially today been one month since our interview and a full 28 days since they told us that Drew did not make the second round of interviews.  Normally, that would have been enough and I would have completely let go of the entire process and realize that once again, we are not moving but are staying here in Northern California.  Except.....

Ever since the announcement came out, I have had the feeling we are moving.  When we went for the interview, it went great!  Amazing things happened with getting Speedy into the Early College High School in their area.  It was not easy!  We had tons of hoops to jump through and were told that they didn't usually accept other students and their school was full.  But we were told to jump through the hoops anyway.  The Spirit confirmed that we needed to jump through their hoops....application, letters of recommendation, essays, academic transcripts, attendance records and discipline files.  Seriously!!  Then it seemed to take forever!  Last week we got the phone call that when we actually make the move, there will be more paperwork to do so Speedy can attend there.  He is in!!  It is amazing!  A blessing!  A gift!!  The only issue is right now we don't have a job and we aren't moving.  Why do we need to do that?

My question for General Conference has been, are we really moving or not??!!  During conference, several times, I received, 'This talk will help you when you make the move.'  So we are moving??  I get little hints and stories of just enough hope to keep me thinking that we really are moving.  Before we received news that Speedy would be able to attend their school, I got a phone call from someone here in this area looking for work and calling all of the bishops.  She wanted to talk.  She told me of the story of her husband not being hired by the company he currently works for and how they called him three weeks later and offered him the job.  Then I think, is that what we are doing?  But the three weeks has come and gone and no phone calls, no indication that anything is happening except for this nagging thought in my head.......yes, you are moving.
When I try to make plans for just a few months out or for the summer, I can't seem to actually do that.  I am putting things on hold, 'just in case'.  I feel slightly schizophrenic, just slightly.  Our entire family is talking about if we are moving.  But just one problem..........................we have no job!!!  And no indication that one is coming!  Nothing but the small whisperings of the Spirit, to me, who is often wrong.  Lovely.

Early in the process, before we didn't have a second interview, I heard, "It is going to be different than you think it is, so don't get angry or frustrated. You can trust me."

OK. Well, I am trying, but I don't feel like I am very successful in the process.  I am not angry or frustrated, but I am certainly confused.  I don't get it.  I don't understand.  Are we moving or not?  If not, I need to let it go and move on and work here.  If yes, then I have things to do, a lot of things to do.  But right now, my job is to wait and trust.  (I hate waiting---quote from the Princess Bride, with the proper accent, of course.)

I know there is a point to the process.  This week, I had a major break through.  Since General Conference, I have been really sad.  I have recognized my sadness only because I have noticed that I am medicating it with carbohydrates.  I have not been horrible in my eating, but I have not been good and I have really, really struggled.  As I have been praying and pondering about why I am sad, because I really have not known, I thought about my mother.  Then I made a comment to my husband about the move and about my mother.  That comment sank into a pit in my heart and then I knew why I was sad.  I was sad about leaving my mother.

I live six hours away from her.  It isn't like I live close, or like I see her often, or really ever.  But somehow, living here has meant that I am close enough to hope for some kind of a relationship.  Over the past year, the reality has hit me that I am not going to have that kind of a relationship.  Relationships take at least two people.  When one person doesn't want it, it doesn't work.  Heavenly Father has been helping me to take off the rose-colored glasses of my childhood to see things as they really are.  It has been painful and there has been a lot of sorrow for me.  But as I like to live in the realm of truth, I recognize the process as necessary for my growth and benefit.

If we had gotten the job right away and made the move right away, I would be so busy in the process of moving, that I would never have taken the time and effort necessary to recognize the sadness I have about moving and why it is such a sad thing for me.
Yesterday, I took a mental health day.  I just hung out with my family.  I called a girl friend.  I cried a lot.  I ate food I liked and that made me feel happy.  I didn't try to be happy, I just allowed myself to be sad.  Today I am better.  I feel lighter.  I don't have to eat carbohydrates today.  I am not trying to hide my feelings.  I have written my feelings about my mother and our relationship into my journal so they are not out here on the internet.  I am not completely better today.  It is not over.  I am still sad.

But I do feel like I can move now.  I have done my spiritual work, so they can really call anytime.  Right?!  But maybe the Heavenly Father knows I have more spiritual work to do.  Maybe my mother and our relationship wasn't the only thing I need to unearth in my emotional quest.  I hope there isn't a lot more..... ugh!  This is hard work!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ramblings and a new stake president.

Just a few ramblings for the beginning of summer.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

Slim and Spanky are in Utah working and preparing for school.  Spanky will start again in the fall.  Slim, who knows when? 

Scuff is home, started working, yesterday was his first day after training, only no one called him to let him know he was on the schedule.  He got a call around 4:15 telling him he was an hour late.  That wasn't fun for him.  Training was on Friday and they couldn't get him into the schedule so they were going to call when they got it worked out.  They didn't call.  But he is in better spirits now.

Sport is home, working out mission papers, etc...

Speedy and Sun are in Utah at EFY.  I cannot wait for them to get home and tell me all about it!!  I never attended EFY as a youth, or even knew it existed until I was a student at BYU.  Now we do what we can to give each of our children the opportunity to attend at least once, and hopefully twice between 14-18.  Totally worth the testimony building experience!!  Totally!

Shorty and Smiley are attending cub scout day camp this week.  Shorty is helping out.

Spike Spike is becoming a boy.  He is not a baby anymore.  He gave the opening prayer in primary on Sunday, with help of course, because otherwise he would have blessed each of the individuals in our family and then asked that we get home safely, and that would have been the end.  But he did a great job!  And didn't insist on doing it his way--all of which is good.

Me?  I had my first mammogram yesterday.  Ugh!  I am feeling old.  They told me it would only take 10 minutes and the test only took 10 minutes.  But I was there for 45 before they took me back.  Frustrating.  I was so glad that I hadn't tried to squeeze it in on the the day they called me.

This weekend we have stake conference and they are calling a new stake president.  Our entire stake is kind of excited.  In case you do not know what the process is, here is how it has worked the three times we have done it.  Saturday of the conference, the general authorities assigned will interview each member of the current stake presidency, the Patriarch, all of the High Council, the current Bishops and any other brethren in the stake the members of the stake presidency feel would qualify to lead the stake (i.e. former bishops or former stake presidency members---but not limited to that).  Each of those brethren has been asked to fill out a paper with their names and photos and some general information about themselves and to recommend three brethren whom they feel should lead the stake.  In their interviews, they will be asked why they have recommended those brethren.  The general authorities will use prayer and the Spirit to come to a consensus of whom they feel the Lord is calling as the new stake president.  After their interviews, they will confer, ponder and pray and then extend the calling to that man with his wife.  If after their interviews, they do not feel they have found the man the Lord would call, they continue looking by interviewing more brethren in the stake.  The announcement is then made in the Sunday morning session of the stake conference.

It will be an interesting weekend--that is for sure!  I will keep you posted.  Tomorrow and Thursday I have plans, so I will post a few more 'Maybe Moving' blogs to keep you busy.

Have a great summer!!  I will :-)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Maybe Moving thoughts---today.

Well, what do you think so far?  Kind of a crazy story huh?  Over the next several months, I kept wondering and pondering how the whole moving thing was going to happen and when.  It was so strange to feel prompted to ask for the job, but then not to get it.  I was super confused.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

During the process, I kept having the feeling that 'I can trust the Lord' which, you should know, trust is not an easy thing for me.  And I also kept thinking, 'Yes, we are moving.  I just need to prepare and plan so that I am ready when the time comes.'  When I would fast or pray about it, I felt like I received confirmation of things I already knew.  I would be moving.  The time was coming.  Just prepare and wait.  But month after month came and we didn't move and the farther away from the job interview we got, the more and more I wondered how it was all going to come together.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

To be honest with you, I still don't know.  Maybe we are still moving.  But as of today, we have the exact job I prayed for, we just have it here in the town where we live.  It did happen fast.  The person who had the job announced they were leaving and the court did not feel like they had enough time to recruit for the job so they promoted Drew.  Maybe this all plays into Drew getting the job in another court at a later date?  I really do not know.  I know enough to know that I can trust the Lord, and He will take care of me.  But I really do not have any idea what His plan is or what it looks like.  I just know what I am suppose to do, here and now.  I guess I am still making assumptions about what those instructions mean the bigger picture is.  And so we wait, still working and following the instructions we have been given.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
Things can look so different as time passes.

Friday, June 12, 2015

FFF#20 2015 Summer Time

I love summer!!  I love having all my kids home almost all the time.  We have a ton of fun!  We play games, play in the sprinklers, go to the beach, fight, read books, pretend it is hot, when it is overcast and cold.  Lots of fun things and sometimes we even get on each others' nerves because we are all together too much.

Part of the awesome things are having the college boys home!!  Part of the not so awesome things are having the college boys leave.  Spanky left on Monday.  Monday was super emotional day for the kiddos.  Even though I told them on Sunday night that he would be flying out Monday morning before they woke up, they were not OK when they woke up and he was gone.
It was early!  And the airport was empty.  (Not like it is ever full!!)  I have to say that is one thing I LOVE about living in a little place.  We have one gate and two planes, one airline.  That makes things a little more expensive, but no one is ever there.  No crowds.  No lines (very few like, maybe six people, ever).  No waiting, even for your baggage.  Walk through security.  So nice. 

Anyway, Spanky is back off to college and the bachelor's life (minus all the partying and women, etc...).  Monday morning, Shorty was in a foul mood.  Spike was super grumpy and sad that he didn't say good bye to Spanky that morning.  Shorty finally confessed that he did not want Spanky to go back to school.  That took some talking to.

Sun is taking two of her finals as I type.  When she is finished, she will have only one left!  Shorty and Smiley are out on Thursday.  Friday Sun and Speedy are off to EFY (See FFF #20 2015).  It will be a quiet week next week.  (I may take off the entire week of blogging and just clean my house---there's a novel thought!)

What is your group doing for the summer?

I am contemplating a monthly swimming pass at our local pool, and teaching Spike how to read.  And we have Richard and Dani's wedding in July and family photos that weekend.  That will be crazy!  But I will probably just prepare for the up and coming seminary year.  Have a great summer!!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Maybe Moving...Day 21

The news.....

Drew was told in the interview that they would let him know Friday.  The call came in just after one.  We have all felt like we are really moving.  So we were super anxious for him to call them back.  We were all anticipating them offering him the job.

Except, that's not what happened.

He called home and let us know there were two other candidates who were more qualified.  I interpreted that to mean that they offered the job to someone else.  I was totally confused.

All of the spiritual information I had received indicated that we would be moving.  It felt like we were moving.  I wrestled the rest of the day with my feelings.

Did I misinterpret something?  It didn't seem so.

Was this a MY will over Thy will situation?  Nope.  I didn't really care about moving or about this job.  In fact, I didn't even want to apply for it but felt impressed that it was what we were suppose to do.

Why was I receiving directions to do things that would indicate moving, like getting the house prepared for moving, getting rid of stuff that I didn't want to move, checking out the schools, talking to a realtor, knowing that we weren't suppose to live in the city where Drew would work, but commute from half an hour away, in a completely different county?  Why was any of that necessary?  And why do we both feel it is necessary to put in an application for the school Speedy would attend if we aren't going?  We still both feel like that is important and necessary.  Weird.

The next day, I started to get a little frustrated.  I am not irritated about not getting the job.  I am more irritated about not understanding the revelation I thought I was receiving.  Then I was reminded, "Remember, it is not going to look like you think it will.  Don't get angry or frustrated.  You can trust what I am telling you.....Miracles will happen and the sea will part."  I was pretty sure that 'sea will part' thing was in reference to our housing.  The sea is going to have to part.  But now it would appear maybe the 'sea' is actually the possibility of getting the job.

Ugh!  And so we wait.  Saturday and Sunday are spent doing the normal things that we do here, mixed with a little sadness and thinking that things will be better and easier if we don't move and coming up with all the reasons why it is better that we don't move.

Friday, after the news, I picked up Smiley from school and told him what our trip was about, to which he said, "You mean we might move?"  And then I told him and Shorty that they had offered the job to someone else.  Both of the boys are glad it appears we are staying here.  So we shall see.  On Monday, I told our missionaries in our weekly emails, and a few days after that I told Spanky.  I still haven't told Sport.  I think he has had just a little too much on his plate for him to worry about that too. The funny thing is that both of our missionaries were like, "Totally cool!!!  That would be fun!" which was a response I was not anticipating.

(So this is Day 28)
Anyway, today has been one week since we got 'the news'.  Only a couple of interesting things have happened.  On Tuesday, as Drew was explaining to me how he told his boss, he clarified that they had not offered the job to someone else.  They were having a second interview and were only interviewing the two candidates above him.  They also asked him if they could keep his information on file and call him if they needed him.  Of course, he told them they could. But that is a totally different scenario than that they had chosen another person and offered them the job.

Then yesterday, I get a phone call from one of the sisters in the 'possibly moving into' ward.  She tells me that her bishop asked her to call us and give us the specs on a house for sale on her street.  Which makes me start thinking.  And doing a little more research into schools in the area.  And we get most of Speedy's application done, though we still have a little bit to finish.  We should have it completed and mailed by Tuesday of next week.

That's where we are.  And so we wait.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Maybe Moving....Day 20

The drive home, which we did after our meeting.

So today we met with the realtor we have been speaking with about the possibility of moving into the area.  He is a great and amazing man, who has been so kind to be willing to help us.  This part of our research is simply overwhelming.

The houses are waaaayyy beyond our ability to pay for them.  Rent is three times what we are currently paying and even if we were to get the job we are looking at, I don't know how we can afford housing of any kind.  I am glad we are not looking in San Francisco, but for our budget, we might as well be.  It is so ridiculous, the amount of money it takes to live here.  I have secretly always looked at the salaries here and farther south in our state and just been floored by the amounts, but when I look at housing, I recognize where all that money goes.  We look at the salary and think, ya, we can totally do that!  In fact, we should be able to do that easily!  And then we look at housing and think, heck, no!  You want me to pay how much for what exactly?!!  If we get this job, obtaining affordable housing will be a complete and total miracle!

After meeting with the realtor, my husband just said, even if we get this job, we probably can't take it because we can't afford to live there.  Housing in the more affordable areas, we are told, is gang infested and dangerous.  That is why we eliminated the city where Drew would work in the first place, and decided on the commute.
Look for this one too.

I'm sure I am not alone in wanting a safe and comfortable neighborhood for my children to grow in.  If we were thinking just about Drew and I, we could deal with things a little differently.  But where children are involved, young children, the stakes are higher and the surrounding neighbors more significant.  I would really like to just pack us all up and live somewhere out in the middle of the farm lands of the United States.  I hate the heat and the snow, the tornadoes and the hail, and the flat, flat land would eventually drive me bananas.  But the people are nice.  Life is slower for the most part.  Farm animals don't carry guns, though ranchers do.  But their lives aren't usually about crime and corruption.  They are off fighting big government.

I know, I am just wishing and fantasizing.  They have their own issues, I know.  And it is probably nothing like I am envisioning.

Oh well.  People are just people.  Some have very misguided concepts of life and how it should function and how we should treat one another.  But we all have some very basic needs:  sleep, food, shelter, warmth, safety, and love.  My heart just bleeds for those children who are being forced away from their families and the love of their parents and indoctrinated in the language and behavior of hate and violence---or those who are being used and abused.  In my heart, I want to scoop them up and love them and feed them and give them a safe and happy place to grow and just be a child, and not be subjected to evil and hate and abuse.

I do not have the power to do what my heart desires.  But I do have the power to make life like that for the children who God gives me direct stewardship over.  Those children in my home, they will have those things.  And though we may not always have the food we want to eat, or the clothes we want to wear, we do always have food to eat and clothes to wear.  We are warm.  We are safe.  We are loved.  We are learning and growing.  We are happy, whether we live in the Redwoods or somewhere farther south.  We'll make sure that the things we do have control over protect the children who live here and bless the lives of the children who are near us.  After all, children are an heritage of the Lord------that is how I feel about them and that is how I will treat them!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Maybe moving.....Day 19

Interview Day.

We got up early, well, I got up early.  The crazy thing about all of this is that Drew is sick.  He came down with a few symptoms on Monday.  By Tuesday at his judges' meeting, he was exhausted.  I did the driving down (mostly).  Mornings are the worst for him.  Nights are best.  So he drove last night, but this morning, before the interview, he is wiped.  Poor guy!  But he managed to make it out of bed.  We tidied up the hotel room and went to their continental breakfast.  Not bad.
Ya..I know, I used this one three times, but it goes with this:

We got back to the hotel room and my sweetheart went over his application and wrote down a few of his thoughts about things they might ask to just clarify his thinking.  Then it was time to drive him over there.  We stayed just 3 minutes from the interview, but remember that whole timing thing my sweetheart struggles with?  He wanted to leave the hotel and be at the interview building by 9.  We didn't leave the hotel until 9:20 and then there was zero parking.  So I had to stop in the road and let him out.

As I drove back to the hotel, I decided to get gas.  Where I stopped, they only accepted cash and debit card.  No gas there.  And I was the only white person there.  Not that it matters, because I really don't care, but it was interesting to look around and realize that everyone else were different nationalities.  That doesn't happen in most of the places I live, or even visit.  If we make this move, life will be different.

I went back to the hotel, called a girlfriend.  Talked about our experience up to that point, sat down and read my journal and realized some of my significant growth over our time in Northern California.  When my sweetheart had about 1/2 an hour left, I decided to go and get him.  I found a sweet parking spot next to the courthouse!!  I parked and just sat outside on the bench in front of the courthouse, waiting for Drew and doing my favorite thing: watching people.

It was 11 a.m., 72 degrees outside, and people were wearing sweaters.  If it gets to 72 degrees where I live, we all go to the beach and play in the water.  That is HOT!   But here, it is cold.  So strange.  That means, if we live here, we are going to roast!

Anyway, Drew finished the interview.  He felt like he did really well.  He said it was one of the best interviews he has had.  And he felt like he did well on the practical part, as well.  Because of our discussion about where we would live on the way down, we decided not to waste our time looking at housing in the 'work' city and to make the drive to the 'housing' city and look around.

We ate lunch and changed our clothes, or Drew did.  Poor guy.  He has only been eating potatoes since we left because he is feeling so lousy!  Then we drove up to the new city.  As we arrived, Drew had the thought to check out the high school.  We decided to drop by.  It was a good thing we did too.

I hadn't felt the need to reach out to them by phone.  When we arrived and explained the reason for our visit, the receptionist, kindly but firmly, told us there was no way our child would be able to attend their school.  They only accept freshmen and both their freshman and their sophomore classes were full.  End of story, no exceptions.  So I just clarified.  "You mean, even though he is currently enrolled in an early college high school, and we might be moving, you wouldn't accept him?"

She thought for a moment and then said, "Well, I would have to run that by the principal.  And she is in a meeting right now."

"Great, we'll wait."  Then she asked us if we had taken care of parking.  We hadn't, only because we didn't see the parking permit boxes.  Parking was an entire dollar, and only accepted quarters.  We had one quarter between the two of us and zero cash.  At this point, we hiked over to the security office to explain our predicament.  We are from out of town.  We didn't plan on visiting.  We stopped by on a whim.  She laughed and gave us a parking permit.  Drew put it in the car and I went to talk to the principal.

We had a great talk.  She was totally supportive and reiterated the secretary's original position, but said they do accept individuals with unique circumstances, and this would be one of those circumstances.  Then she told us all of the things she would need from us to talk with her supervisors about admitting Speedy to their school.   It was a huge blessing!!  I know if we had not been there in person and if we had just called on the phone, they would have told us 'Sorry, but no'.   There would have been no more discussion.  Stopping by and talking to them in person was definitely the right thing to do.

Then we went and got all checked into our hotel room.  Definitely a down-grade from the night before.  In hotel staying, you definitely get what you pay for.  Pay the extra money.  It is worth it, trust me.  But it worked.  So that was OK.  We hung out in the hotel room and did a little more educational research, just looking at schools for the littler kids.

About five o'clock, we met with one of the bishops from the area.  He gave us a tour of the building and then took us around town.  It was too funny.  He drove us all over his ward, told us he would take us to the other side of town and show us that ward, but took all of his time in his ward and then encouraged us to go and see the other side of town.  He was trying to be fair and that was his honest intent.  He was just so excited about his area of the vineyard that we didn't see the other side.  Driving around gave us a definite feel for where we should live.  No specific houses, but a definite feel for where to look.

After our time with the bishop, we drove half an hour north for dinner.  By now, I was starving!!  I hadn't eaten since 11 and it was 7.  I needed food.  I was grouchy.  I had told Drew I was tired of hamburgers and I wanted to eat something nice.  Even though we didn't arrive until 7:30 ish, Drew took me to the Olive Garden, one of my favorite restaurants!  I think it has been 16 years since I have eaten there because we don't have one where we live.  Anyway, after a yummy dinner, we made the drive back to the hotel, to sleep.  We were both exhausted.  At least the bed was soft.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Maybe Moving...Day 18

Driving Day.

Tuesday morning I got all the kiddos where they needed to go.  Kissed them and told them I'd see them in a few days.  I had presidency meeting at 10 a.m. then hit the grocery store, because that didn't happen yesterday.  Then I came home and packed.  Finally.   I picked up Drew at 1 and we went and picked up the rental car.  When we got home, Drew packed and we tried to pull things together so we could leave.

I don't know about you, but I have this uncanny sense of time.  I know exactly how long something will take me, including travel, and interruptions and I can usually sense if things won't work into a given time slot and make adjustments within about 10 minutes of accuracy.  I was ready to drive away by 1:30 when we returned home with the car.  My husband does not have that gift.  He continuously underestimates the time something will take him and then we are late.  Today was no different.
Remember to look for this photo in other posts.  Then you'll know what day I actually wrote it.

We left home at 2:30.  The kids usually get home by 3.  If we had stayed another 20 minutes, we could have picked the kiddos up ourselves!  But we finally got on the road.  It was only an 8 hour drive with stopping.  Oy!

As we drove I discussed with Drew the comments made by Speedy's administrator about the area we were headed to.  It was fairly easy for both of us to say, that sounds a little too dangerous for us.  We made the decision on the drive, that we would be commuting to work and live in a safer neighborhood.  Which really is a fine decision because the only school we can find around the area that will allow our children to graduate high school with their Associate's Degree is the area we decided we would live in if we get the job.  So that works out nicely.

We talked about all the things moving will mean for our family and our lives.  It is a little daunting.  My sweetheart needs stability and security.  He feels like he has that where we live and feels like he will be giving all of that up if we move.  I don't agree with him, but those are his feelings, and so we need to work with that.  Moving will be hard on all of the children.  They do not like moving.  The littlest ones have not known anything except here.  The last five were born here.  Moving to another city is a huge step in their little lives--one that most of them do not want to have to face.  We have been managing lots and lots of emotions here.

Sun just cried and cried to me the other day.  I think I spent 45 minutes with her in her room as she poured out her little heart and just sobbed about all the reasons she didn't want to move.  Some of you may say that I shouldn't have told them until things were more final.  Yes, I can see that approach.  But, if we are moving, my little ones need more time to emotionally process what that means for them.

Slim told me during this process how hard the move from Utah to California was for him.  He was 7.  He said it was too fast.  He heard we were moving.  Then we were packing.  Then we drove away.  Then he had to attend a new school, with new people.  He wasn't ready.  He was 'sick' the first week.  Shorty is a lot like him.  He needed more time to process.  So does Sun, and Speedy.  We still haven't told Smiley.

We finally rolled into town about 10:30 p.m.  Checked into our hotel.  The interview is tomorrow @ 9:30.  Wish him luck!  I'm not sure what I will do during his two hour interview.  I'm sure I'll come up with something!

(During the drive, we also found out about the death of one of our ward members, so the Bishop got to manage that remotely as well.  Love those days!)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Birthday Bloggin' Babble

Today is my husband's birthday!  He is almost the big 50, but not quite.  What can I say?  Drew has been by my side now for 26 years or more.  We started as friends, hung out after class, ate meals together, and participated in ward stuff activities with each other.  Everyone thought we were dating when we weren't because we spent so much time together.

He is my rock.  Next to my Savior, Drew is what keeps me sane, kind, functioning, and all in one piece.  I am prone to emotional explosions, especially when I have been bottling it for a while, which I do regularly.  He is good at getting me to vent and then knows how to manage all of my steam and exactly which words to say to help me stop the emotionally out of control train.  I guess you could say he helps me to bridle all that passion.  (Of course, he would like it all redirected---which I am working on--but that is a post for another day.)

I am so grateful for my kind-hearted, level-headed, malice-free husband who may not know how to fix the lawn mower, or build a wall, or even paint.  But when it comes to my heart, he can fix it all and does so with gentleness, love, and occasional reproof.

He is an amazing father.  Our children have periodically struggled with their relationship with their father, as most children do.  But always in time and experience, they come to see the wisdom of his counsel even if they do not agree with how he would have handled something.  I can only imagine that as they become parents in their own right, they will grow to greatly appreciate the example of fatherhood which was set before them.  I certainly do.

Fathers play a vital role in the development of their children.  Indeed, my children would not be the men they have become without the influence of their father.  Drew is an amazing man, a good man, a righteous man, a man who loves God above all others, and because of His love for God, he loves us, protects us, and leads us in a manner pleasing unto God.  Yea for righteous men with testimonies who will love and lead the next generation teaching them how men of God behave and live.  Yea for Drew!

Happy Birthday, Honey!  All my love,

Friday, June 5, 2015

FFF #20 2015--To EFY or not to EFY??

Do you know what EFY (Especially for Youth) is?  When I was younger, I didn't either.  Here is the link to tell you about it.

Especially for Youth is basically a spiritual and entertaining week of activities, devotionals, and classes with youth ages 14-18.  I think it is based in the United States and I am unaware of any programs out of the USA.  I personally, have never attended EFY.  But as a parent of youth, there are some significant reasons we spend the money to help our youth participate. 

EFY is super expensive--around $500.00 for an overnight session, depending upon which session you choose.  Plus, for us, there is the expense of traveling to and from the session we attend.  Because of the expense, we cannot possible go every year.  But we try to make sure each of our children can attend at least two sessions between 14-18.  We try to coordinate with another family in the area or cousins or friends out of the area who can attend the same session.  That way, we can either share the expense of the travel or we can make sure to see friends and/or family who live far away and renew our relationships with them.

This year, we are doing both.  We are traveling to our session with friends from the area and we are meeting friends who live far away from us.  (My ultimately favorite session was the year a girlfriend and I drove our kids out to Utah and we--the moms--hung out in Utah and Yellowstone the entire week and played until the youth were done and ready to be picked up!  We had way too much fun!) 

Why do Drew and I spend the money to send our youth to EFY?  Well, coming from an area where our children are almost the only active youth in their ward, we want them to know that they are not alone.  We want them to experience the strength and excitement that comes from seeing other youth who live their standards, have fun, testify of their experiences with the gospel, and share that light in their lives.  Those experiences strengthen our youth and help them to have the courage they need to stand up to the pressure they feel in living a solitary life of values and morality.  We live in an area (and I have the feeling we are not the only ones facing these issues) where my children are some of the very few who are not drinking, doing recreations drugs, having sex, using vulgar and coarse language and who are not willing to expose themselves to those kinds of behaviors, even if only through what they see and read, in their classes.  Sometimes my youth are not supported by the adults in their lives for living the values and beliefs they hold.  Unfortunately, sometimes for us that has been in the church as well.  How do you fortify those youth to be able to stand up under those kinds of pressures?
You send to them to EFY where other adults and youth their ages, hundreds of them, support them and encourage them and love them for their valiance and courage.  We send them there to remind them that they are not alone in standing for the values the Lord says are significant and important to Him.

We try to send them the summer right before high school so as they head into that rocky sea of shifting values or the doldrums of virtue, they know who they are, what they believe, why they believe it and understand that they are not the only ones who believe that and feel that way.  (And then we send them again when they are older so they can really enjoy the atmosphere and have fun doing it, making friends along the way.)

When my youth return from EFY, they are different youth.  They glow.  They talk non-stop about their experiences and their testimonies shine.  Some of them have come home and immediately changed things they knew they should have but didn't have the courage to before EFY (like drop a girlfriend).  It is worth every penny, and every sacrifice we have to make, for our youth to have that opportunity to strengthen their faith.

Is EFY right for your youth?  I do not know.  But if you can make the sacrifice to find a way for them to participate in that program--it is worth it, a hundred times over.  I would have loved to participate in something like that as a youth and I am ecstatic and grateful that we have been able to make the sacrifices necessary for them to attend.  Don't just dismiss it!  They have scholarships available too and it isn't only in Utah---they have sessions all over the nation!  Choose one close to you!  Make time and support them in their desire.

this year's theme
Start early!!  In September, log into the EFY website and declare your intent to attend the following summer.  This part is considered preregistration, costs you nothing and you are not committed to attend at this point.  If you are worried about the expense, also fill out the scholarship application for each youth you are sending, as early as possible after September.  Start reviewing the session schedule so you can plan your summer activities appropriately.  Then sometime after the beginning of January you will receive an email notifying you of the date you can register for EFY.  When you register, you will be expected to pay for your session.  Then it is just a matter of waiting for it.  You can still make changes after you register, it is just a little trickier and I haven't had to do that because we are usually pretty set on our plans before we register.

If you can't go this year, plan on preregistering in September of this year and plan for next year!!  When your youth return home from EFY, you will be glad you sent them, and you'll pay for them to go again!  It is that worth it!