Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Conditions of the Heart

copyright: Karen Larsen photography
I have so many thoughts swirling around in my head right now that I don't even know where to start.  It seems fitting, probably, that for the sake of our discussion today, I should begin with this quote:

Elder Gerald N. Lund
“The heart is a tender place. It is sensitive to many influences, both positive and negative. It can be hurt by others. It can be deadened by sin. It can be softened by love. Early in our lives, we learn to guard our hearts. It is like we erect a fence around our hearts with a gate in it. No one can enter that gate unless we allow him or her to.
“In some cases the fence we erect around our hearts could be likened to a small picket fence with a Welcome sign on the gate. Other hearts have been so hurt or so deadened by sin that they have an eight-foot (2.5-m) chain-link fence topped with razor wire around them. The gate is padlocked and has a large No Trespassing sign on it. …
“… The condition of our hearts directly affects our sensitivity to spiritual things. Let us make it a part of our everyday striving to open our hearts to the Spirit. Since we are the guardians of our hearts, we can choose to do so” (Gerald N. Lund, “Opening Our Hearts,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 33, 34).
I relate to this quote is ways I can scarcely venture to enumerate!  Part of my heart has had that small picket fence with the welcome sign on it.  Then about four miles into it, I have that other fence, erected with eight foot walls, razor wire and the no trespassing sign.
It has been a crazy journey over years of time, as the Lord has tried to teach me about the condition of my heart and the necessity of taking down the razor wire, opening up that second gate and dismantling the fence.  I have fought Him most of the way, because someone might get in and mess up that deepest, most sacred, and tender place in my heart.....of myself.
I have finally come to recognize that the place I have walled up, with a no trespassing sign, is the most beautiful part of me.  I keep it hidden because people have hurt me in ways that I wasn't aware of and I just declared, early on.....No more!  No one else is getting in.  Then no one else can hurt me like that!
I have often assumed it was my parents divorce that did that to me.  That was my first conscious memory of stuffing my feelings and sadness into a box and trying to keep it there and keep the lid on it.  I knew I would eventually get to the box, but it seemed so much easier to just keep putting more pain and sadness in the box and deal with it later.  There was always later, right?  I would have time.  As more and more sadness got stuffed in there, I had trouble keeping the lid on the box.  Food became the answer.  If I ate enough food (carbs and sugar and chocolate, oh my gosh, chocolate!!), then I could keep from feeling the things that were leaking out of the box.  It was getting full in there, you know?
So I kept at it.  More stuff in the box, more food to keep it closed.  And if I kept myself too busy, then I could also distract myself from what was in the box and what I was truly feeling.
Over the years, I have recognized the box, and the fences or walls as I referred to them.  I recognized I had some control over the walls, not completely, but I could sense that sometimes they were up and sometimes they were down.  Sometimes I could wish they were down and they would magically go down.  Sometimes people would say or do something to me or my kids, and the walls would go right back up, or I would add a new layer of razor wire.  Other times, I just put people on a black list, indicating they would not ever be able to enter, not in a million years.
My Father in Heaven has been so good to me in teaching me about all of this stuff about me.  My learning has come in so many areas:  scriptures, teachings of the prophets, conversations with friends, blog posts of others, movies, and recently, a fictional book series.  Yes I am serious!  That is the last place I would expect to learn something about myself.  But it happened.
A friend of mine (a librarian, hahahaha!) was reading the series and she and I have had more than a few conversations about our hearts.  She asked me if I had read it or would be willing to read it.  We are going on a fast weekend getaway together soon and she wanted to discuss it with me, so would I read it.  Sure!  Not a problem.
I read the series.
I am going to purchase that series and keep it around so that I can read it often!!!  The entire series mirrored my personal experiences, except that the main character is a famous rock star....that part doesn't match my life.  The first book had so many similarities that I had to put it down and cry and cry and cry.  Through that book, I sought out more revelations from the Lord to help me see how those things I was reading related to me and why they were so painful for me emotionally.  I learned new stuff about myself!  By the time I read the third book, I understood why I had created the box and the fence and how it was affecting my relationships (specifically my marriage).  It has been a crazy week this week.  The emotional roller-coaster has been exhilarating and exhausting.
Before I read the series, I got sick.  I never get sick for more than a day.  But I was sick and down for five days.  I didn't have enough energy to do anything but read a book and I just happened to have this book series sitting in front of me.  Don't even try to tell me that Heavenly Father doesn't have a sense of humor.  He knew that I would 'get around to it' eventually, but He wanted me to do it now.  So He created or allowed the circumstances so that would be the course of my pick up the book and get going.
I can probably tell you more about it later.  I need to go and teach my seminary kids about the conditions of their hearts....that quote from above?  In today's lesson.  No joke.  As we do what He asks, when He asks, the pieces and meanings of our lives will come together.  They do for me, and they will for you!
Have a great day!! 😎 We'll talk more later!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Mr. Kyle

Mr. Kyle
Our oldest son just got his first big boy job!!  He is teaching sixth grade, complete with salary and benefits!!  He has been teaching for about two weeks now.  He comes home at the end of the day exhausted and elated and ready to start the next day.  I can say that, not because he lives at home with us, but because I talk to him regularly, almost every day.  And every day ends with this sentence:  "I love my job, Mom!"

We are so happy for him!!!  Yea!!  One big boy planted!  I am sure things will change....eventually.  Because we all know that the only constant is change.  But for now, he is happy and has found a professional home.  Hooray!!!  I cannot believe I am the mother of a professional man....and I still have a first grader at home.....but that is beside the point.

He is going by Mr. Kyle, because well, Mr. Lund is his father.  (Think Crush from Finding Nemo....Dude, Mr. Turtle is my father.)  And to be honest, I really like his facial hair and his bald head.  He looks so much more professional!  When I saw him for the first time after he had shaved his head and grown out his beard, "Hey, your head's upside down!!"  He didn't think that was very funny.  I am still laughing. 😆

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What eclipse???!!!

About a week before the eclipse, I started hearing about all of these people in my ward who were going out of town for the eclipse.  They wanted to see the whole thing.  I thought it was great....interesting.....happy for them.  But really?!  Ok.  I can see the draw.  But personally, didn't really care.  I put it on my radar anyway and did a little bit of research (like read CNN) about when it would occur.  Then since two of my children still wouldn't be in school and it was early enough in the morning, I thought I would make sure they had an opportunity to check it out.  This was the view from our house:

Totally and completely fogged in!

This is what Drew's aunt got:
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
She is an amazing photographer and very creative!!!  I LOVE her work!  And of course, she is super talented!

Well, so much for the eclipse.

On to more significant matters in our home.  

The dishwasher has been down for at least a month.  About two days after it went down, we bought a new one and brought it home and put it into the kitchen.  Instead of installing it, it kind of became a kitchen island by default.  People started piling things on top of it.  

I called my plumber friend.  He was really busy and didn't give me a time table.

Now in the mean time of  washing dishes by hand, somehow, the garbage disposal was backing up into the dishwasher and the water was then stagnant and disgusting and it wreaked!  Eventually I would notice when it started leaking onto the kitchen floor.  Finally after the third or fourth time I bailed out the bottom of the dishwasher I was just done with it.  I called some random guy in the phone book and asked if he could install it.  He agreed but said he didn't have his calendar in front of him but he would call me later to schedule the time and we agreed on Tuesday.

Then, I didn't hear from him----not Saturday when I called him, not Sunday, or Monday or even Tuesday morning.  By then, I was really done and decided I could probably manage the task by myself!!  (And save myself  $140.00 in the process....).  

Let me back up.  My dad is a plumber and my uncle is a retired contractor.  I grew up watching them do things like this and helping them as I got older.  So before I called people in, I watched some youtube videos about changing out the dishwasher.  Then I decided that I really didn't want to do that so I called for help.  Then after waiting for a moth, I decided I was done with that and made the decision to do it myself!  Grumble!

Monday I had purchased all of the supplies I thought I would need so they would be available for the repair guy.  So on Tuesday when he still had not called, I decided to just dive into it.  I removed the dishwasher from the box, laid it on its back and hooked up the electrical cord, recognized it came with a drain hose (Awesome!!  I can return that!), and then attached the 90 degree adapter and water supply hose to the bottom of the dishwasher.  As I was evaluating, I recognized that the hose I got was too small to reach to the water turn off valve under the sink---back to the hardware store to replace the hose.  I replaced the hose.  Then I turned the water under the sink off and flipped the circuit breaker and unplugged the old dishwasher and unhooked it from the water supply.  I took the front plate off of the old dishwasher and realized they had laid the wood floor in front of the old dishwasher and it was going to be obnoxious to get the old one out.  (This entire process had taken me two and half hours---but I had blocked out the day for the dishwasher guy anyway, so I might as well spend my time wisely!)  At this point, I laid on the floor, a bit overwhelmed at the process.

I decided that I would eat lunch, feed my kids, and after lunch reevaluate my position.

Guess who called at 11:30?  The handy man guy.  He told me that he had lost my number and hadn't been able to find it and did I still want him to come over and take care of that dishwasher today.  At this point, I was thinking, look, I have done most of the work.  All that is left is taking the old one out and putting the new one it.  I am not paying $140.00 for you to come and finish it off.  So I told him I was good and half way through the job.  It wasn't until I got off of the phone that I realized, 'Wait a minute!  You lost my number?  I texted it to you!!  It was in your phone!  You mean to tell me that your phone has been missing for three days?  Or are you just so disorganized that you couldn't manage it?  Or were you lying to me?'  Either way, I don't think you are the guy I want doing this job.  Sianara!

After lunch and my phone call, I was much more resolved to tackling this dishwasher!!  I managed to lift the dishwasher in its place and screw in one foot.  YES!!  Then it took another hour to screw in the other foot and I had to recruit Smiley because I couldn't lift and screw at the same time.  We finally got it done and then we tried to pull the old one out.  It went pretty well, until we noticed that the water supply line I unhooked was actually the refrigerator supply line.  The dishwasher was hooked up behind the dishwasher!!  What?  That is crazy!  Oh well.  I turned that water supply line off and unhooked the dishwasher.  Out it came!  Easy.  Then I saw all of the rat droppings under where the dishwasher had been.  Fabulous!  It took me another hour to find disposable gloves and clean up that mess.  Gross!!

I moved the old dishwasher and positioned the new one, shoving hoses and the power supply line through the holes in the cabinets.  Then I hooked up the dishwasher drain line to the garbage disposal.  I went to plug it in and thought that I probably should hook the water up first.  As I went to hook up the water, I realized my supply line fitting was 3/8 inch but my pipe which supplied the water was much bigger.  Great!  They don't fit!  GRRRRRR!!  Now I have to go and find another hose!  Back to the hardware store!

I found the plumbing guy and explained my problem.  He didn't quite understand what I was talking about.  But I was prepared for that because I am a woman and not very many men believe that I am the one doing these things at my house.  I had a photo!!!  So I showed him the problem. 

 Hmmmm....  he was stumped and started doing the things I had already done, like looking for a hose that is 3/8 on one end, but 3/4 on the other.....(because I measured the pipe before I went to the store!  Bright thinking!).  Then, in the store, I realized that if I could just find a pipe adapter, then I could use that instead of buying a new hose!  So we started looking for that......but we couldn't find one.  He gave me another 90 degree elbow, 3/4 on one end and 3/8 on the other and told me to use that.  That counsel didn't sit right with me.  So I googled plumbing supply stores (remember we are a very little town!!) and went to a building supply store nearby.  They were no help.  I texted my plumbing friend.  He sent me to a different store.  I went there.

They were much more helpful!!  He validated that my feelings that the first hardware guy solution wouldn't work was correct and he got me all the parts that I needed to make it work, including another hose...but 1/2 on one end and 3/8 on the other.  As I was driving home from all of this running around, my daughter called to remind me that she had music rehearsal in fifteen minutes and would I be home soon?  Really??!!!  Yes, I am on my way.  At this point, I was ready to cry!!  How am I going to get this finished so we can just manage dinner!!

I picked her up to take her over there and as I was pulling away, saw my six year old, totally dejected on the sidewalk.  I think he had come running out to see us at the car and we pulled away before we saw him.  Then Sun said, Mom some truck was just pulling up to the house as we pulled away.  What??  I had better go around the block and make sure Spike Spike got into the house and some random stranger doesn't think that we drove away leaving him alone!

When I pulled around the block, and parked behind the truck, I realized it was my plumber friend!!!  Yea!!!  Heavenly Father loves me!!!  I ran in, gave him the run down.  And he said, well, you won't need this or this.  But this should fix it!  And then he stayed and finished installing my dishwasher!!  It took him half an hour!!  I was so grateful!!!  I offered to pay him.  He said no.  I told him I would make him bread for six weeks!!!  He said, Deal!

Then Drew took me to Costco to pick up dinner and get some ice cream to celebrate!  Today I have to return all of those unnecessary hardware products!

But here is what I know:  Heavenly Father loves me and listens to me.....and even when I don't ask, He is aware of me and what I am struggling with.  I had been waiting for the dishwasher to get fixed for over a month.  I had been trying to contact my plumber friend for a month!  I am capable of doing hard things....even when I don't know how or think I can.  There are people who can help me if I ask.  And when I am up against things I don't understand, Heavenly Father will send someone to help...especially if I am at a breaking point.  When I try to take care of the things He wants me to do, He has my back even when it is just silly things that I want to do.  I am so grateful that He loves me!!!  He loves you too and He will do those things for you!
A sunset at our house...when it isn't foggy.

Sunday, August 20, 2017



My blogging percentage is wwwwwaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy down, just in case you hadn't noticed!  But here is an up to date family photo!!

Crazy stuff happened in our family over the last few months.  Our missionary came home.  We dropped Sport and Speedy off at BYU Provo with Spanky and Scuff.  Slim got a job teaching sixth grade!!  We are all dying!  And we cannot wait until it has been a few weeks. He really is an amazing man and a great teacher!  But he has a lot of work to do in the patience department, but he is ready!

The biggest news since I last blogged is that they released Drew as the Bishop.  He served on the High Council for four months, specifically serving with the YSA in the area.  Two weeks ago, they called him to be our stake patriarch!!  He will do a great job, I am sure.  His first blessing is tonight.

I cannot believe we are growing up so fast!  Six of our ten children are out of the house and adults.  Five are returned missionaries----five!  Speedy will turn in his papers at the end of this next school year.  Sun is 16!  Shorty isn't 'shorty' anymore and is 14.  Even Smiley is taller than me!!  He is home schooling this year.  And Spike Spike is in the first grade, and now is so large that I cannot scoop him out of bed and carry him to the living room for family prayers in the morning.  I am not quite sure how I am going to make sure he gets there.  Maybe Shorty will have to do it.

If I could summarize the last year that I have not really been blogging, I guess I would have to tell you that I have completed A LOT of emotional work.  I have uncovered a lot of unresolved emotional issues, Drew and I have worked out a lot of communication issues (through a lot of miscommunication and then having to resolve it), and I have a more realistic picture of who others are and thus my expectations of them can be more in line with their abilities and my feelings are less hurt because I am not hoping for behavior from them that is unrealistic.  I am sorry you are not getting any detail for those things.  I am pretty sure that is why I wasn't blogging.  I didn't know how to 'not say' the details of my emotional journey.  The results, however, are wonderful!  I can cry when my feelings are hurt, usually in the moment, which is sometimes embarrassing.....but I am getting there.  I am not usually stuffing my feelings with food because I am not trying to hide from them.  As a consequence, I am eating differently and dropping weight without paying any attention to it.  I am now below 200, which is about 25 pounds that just went away.  I still have a lot of work to do.  I am no where near finished and I know I have some big emotional hurdles coming at a freight train.  Those will not be fun.  But I feel more confident in myself and my emotions and less like I have 'to be' something for someone else.  I can just be me....drama and all.

I am still teaching seminary. Tomorrow is our first day!  Book of Mormon this year!  I am super excited because I feel like I know the Book of Mormon, where with the other books of scripture, I had to learn them.  I knew some of the stories, but not like I know the Book of Mormon.  The Spirit has been trying to take me out of my comfort zone to create a new comfort zone.  I have been so scared to teach outside of the manual that it has stifled my teaching.  Over the past few months, I have spoken in church twice (twenty minutes each), and at camp three nights (60 minutes each), and done so without notes.  I have a baptism coming up, where I am supposed to do that again.  It is a new experience trying to speak completely from the Spirit without prior notes or sources.  I am sure it has been practice for teaching this year as I choose to teach my students, using the material but not completely leaning on the material.  I know I can do it, I have just been afraid to do it on an every day basis.  So pray for me, this year as I teach :-)

I have also learned that big boys still need their mom.  Slim calls me almost every day.  Spanky and Speedy call sometime during the week.  Scuff and Sport call maybe monthly.  I do love talking to them, and when we do talk, I am reminded of how much I love them and really like having adult children!!

I think I am going to start slowly--blogging, I mean.  I really don't know how often I will write.  But I do know it is time to get back into the saddle, so here I am.  Have a great Sabbath Day!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

That Whole Agency Thing.....

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

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

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

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

Drew was released last Sunday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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