Sunday, January 18, 2015

Aaaaaauuuuugh! I got a new calling!

Today, I was sustained as, drum roll please......
The Seminary Teacher!!

I am floored!  I cannot even tell you how excited I am to teach seminary!  Overwhelmed, sure.  Terrified?  Not really.  I LOVE teaching the youth!

I love teaching them because they are right at the cusp of deciding who they are and which direction their life is going to go.  During adolescence they are determining if they believe the framework with which they have been brought up.  They are questioning everything in their search for knowledge and identity.  They are honest, most of the time.  And most of the time, when they are searching for something, they do so with real intent!  The trick is to motivate them to search and seek for the things of God, that they establish their testimonies solidly and early.

Teenagers are my favorite group to teach!  I think it is because they have adult questions and can converse and think on adult levels, but they still want to play like a child.  It is totally awesome because they are fun!

Teenagers are really only a problem if you feel the need to get into a power struggle with them.  Then watch out, because most of them won't back down, and they are seriously creative and sneaky about how to get to you.  But if you can, as Steve Martin says in Cheaper By the Dozen, 'harness that ingenuity, bottle that energy', if you can shape and mold it without stepping on it, that is when you can perform miracles, miracles in their lives, and in your own.

My own experience as a youth was significantly colored by my family circumstances.  My parents had a terrible relationship, my brother struggled with drug addiction, I had a horrible relationship with my father, and my house didn't feel warm and happy.  I loved how I felt when I went to church and hung out with church people.  Girls' camp for me was a huge turning point in my life.  I had adults who not only showed interest in me, but also taught me, and helped me to frame life in terms of the gospel, something my parents could not do.

But the big kicker for me?  Junior year, my seminary teacher.  We were studying the Book of Mormon that year.  She told us that she expected us to read the book.  She told us that if we didn't read it, she would fail us in seminary.  I took her at her word, even though it was news to me that we received letter grades for seminary.  Really?!  Well, I had never failed a class and I wasn't about to fail an optional (at that time it was), early morning, religion class.  So I read the book.  Somewhere in April or so, I had finished it.  I decided to follow Moroni's counsel and advice:

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

I prayed to my Father in Heaven to know if the book was true.  I told Him that I believed it, I had been taught about it, and now I had read it and I really wanted to know.  I was sincere in my desire.  And just like Moroni promises, I received a witness from the Holy Ghost.  From within my heart, a warmth radiated out and filled my entire soul.  I recognized the witness from the Holy Ghost as truth.  I knew for myself that the book was true.
From girls' camp, I knew I was a daughter of God, who loved me, knew me, and cared about me, which is why I kept coming back.  From seminary, I gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon.  I had an innate desire to please God and follow His commandments, later I would learn that was a gift He had given me.  With those three pieces of information and character, I left home and went to Brigham Young University (BYU) where I learned first hand about the Atonement and how to apply that to my life.  I really wasn't any farther along than that when I left home, at 18.

Twenty-six years later, here I am with the opportunity to help those youth in our seminary class solidify those testimonies for themselves.  Do I remember how I felt about seminary?  Yes.  Was it my favorite class?  No.  Did I love my seminary teachers?  Not really.  But they certainly helped me find my gospel footing.
Anyway, I am excited to learn together.  And I am excited to work with the youth!
I love teenagers!

Friday, January 16, 2015

FFF #3 2015--Lead by Example

"Do as I say, not as I do!"  Did you ever hear that growing up?  I heard it, a lot.  But you know what we did?  What we saw our parents do.  Yep.  Their example, their behavior in living their lives, that is what we judged our behavior by and how we decided what was appropriate and what was in appropriate.
What they said?  Well, we didn't listen to that too much.  How they behaved spoke louder to our minds than their actual words.  Today it is the same.

If I want my children to exhibit a certain character trait, or certain behaviors, I have to be willing to have those things be a part of my life also.  My example is the light to which they are looking.  If I want them to read their scriptures?  They need to see me reading them.  If I want them to pray?  They need to see and hear my praying.  If I want them to go to church?  Yep, then they need to see me doing that.  How about things I don't want them doing?  It, of course, is the same thing.  If I don't want them swearing?  Then I can't swear and I need to stop them from doing so, consistently.

I think I learned this mostly from my parents, with my personal experience and watching my parents.  Not in the positive way in which you may hope.  I came from a yelling family.  Whenever things didn't go the way the parents wanted, there was yelling, and a lot of it.  When it was time for me to be the babysitter and things didn't go the way I wanted them to?  I yelled.  Surprise, surprise.
I distinctly remember being about 14 years old and yelling at my bigger but younger brother because he wasn't doing what I expected him to.  I had the thought, mid-yell, "Why am I yelling?  My throat hurts, my head hurts, my face is red, and look at my brother's face.  He obviously isn't listening and this is accomplishing nothing.  Why am I yelling?"  And from that moment on, I chose not to yell at people when I was upset, or things didn't go my way.

A little later in my development, I was a young married person and babysitting.  A little person I watched (I think he was about 2), was hitting one of the other children.  I turned him around, swatted his hand and then said, "Don't hit."  Well, that inconsistency hit me like a ton of bricks.  How do I expect him not to hit if I am hitting for his punishment?  I immediately apologized to him for 'hitting' him and then explained that we should not hit and next time he would have a time out and so would I.

How does this principle work in our callings?  Well just like it does in parenting.  Do we want our Young Women to receive their Young Women Recognition award?  Then we should work the Personal Progress Program right along with them.  Do we want our seminary students to memorize their scripture mastery?  Then as parents and leaders we should do the same thing.

When our children or the youth we teach see our struggle to complete the same tasks we are asking of them, it is motivating for the youth to put the same kind of effort and time into those requirements.  Should we ask more of them than we ask of ourselves?  I think not.  Does it matter if we have already finished that task?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  When I was working with the young women, it was significant that I had already completed my personal progress as a girl.  But should it stop me from doing it again?  No, not really, especially considering the benefit my example as the leader is to those young women (or my own children, if that is the case).  However, it would be slightly ridiculous and expensive to get a second college degree just because my children are currently in the process of earning theirs.

When the sons of Mosiah were to go to the Lamanites to preach the word of God unto them, the Lord said, "Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls."  Alma 17:11

The good example the sons of Mosiah showed forth in patience and long-suffering in their afflictions allowed the Lord to use them as an instrument for the Lamanites salvation.  Indeed, as we read further into their story, we see where that actually happens!  When we make proper choices in dealing with those around us, even when they are unkind and unjust to us, our example ministers to the learning and spiritual education of others.  If it can soften the hearts of those who are our enemies, what do you think that same example will do for those whose hearts are more open and connected to ours?

Our example speaks volumes, especially to our own children.  Lead by example.  It is an eternal principle!  Now if I can just learn how to apply this principle in my eating and exercise habits.  One thing, one day at a time, right?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Confessions of an overscheduled Mom (and family)

Last Friday, opening night for Sun's play, we also had GATE academy for my elementary school boys.  GATE (gifted and talented education) is held annually at the university and encompasses the entire school day, where GATE students can choose fun classes that expand their minds in many, many different fields of study.  It really is an incredibly fun day with a ton to see and do. 
Spike wanted me to photograph his #10.

Because our elementary students are on a college campus, more parent volunteers are needed, but the classes are only for the kids.  So they also provide a parenting session for those of us who accompany the field trip.  I have usually not attended with my children because I have had so many little ones who have needed my attention at home.  In October, I decided it would be fun to go and get in on the parenting session, which I never have done before.

It actually was really, really good.  I received a significant piece of information that I think will help me in motivating Sun, academically.  So I will try to implement that and see if it helps her move along.  If it works, maybe I'll share it with you later.

But the point of this post, is that on Friday, I left the house at 7:45 a.m., got home at 2 p.m., picked up Speedy at the bus stop at 3, and then left with Sun at 3:30 and was gone until 8:30 that evening.  On Saturday, I left the house at  10:30 a.m., was home by 11:30 a.m., left again at 12:15 p.m. and didn't get home until 8:30 p.m.  So for two entire days, I was not home.  At some point, Friday evening, I realized that I had missed Spike's entire day.  He woke up sick on Friday and he didn't feel well.  He was whiny and just wanted his mother.  I left him with his sister, after I considered skipping GATE academy to stay home with my sick little munchkin.  But I felt like I needed to go, and I did, so I received that information that will help me with Sun.  But that still didn't change the fact that I missed Spike's entire day!
I felt bad and just wanted to be with him.  Then I realized that this is how working mother's feel all the time.  Maybe they can rationalize away the feelings or they are happy working, I don't know.  But I really like being there for my children, especially when they are ill.  (I am not trying to disparage working mothers.  I think they are amazing the way they divide their time.  I recognize that most of them dearly love their children, do not wish to be working, and are feeling stretched thin while they try to balance two worlds that, in all honesty are pretty incompatible.  I don't know how they do it, and I am grateful I do not have to figure it out!  They are not getting any judgement from me!)  It just really made me sad that I was somewhere else when Spike was feeling sick, and even if he had been well.  I missed him on Friday and Saturday!

In speaking with some of the other mothers at the show, one who has three children (youngest is 15) and one who has two children (youngest is 12), I was amazed at the amount of 'things' they had their children doing.  The first one has her daughter in six dance classes per week!  SIX!!  Holy Cow!  The other mother, her 15 year old, goes to zero period orchestra every day, basketball practice and games each evening, and he was also the lead in our play, has AP classes, and plays year round sports.  Her comment was "So, it's not like we can get a break with his schedule."  And I thought but did not say, "Yes, it is.  Choose not to be so busy.  Cut something out."  The father was a part of the conversation too and he said, "Well, he is cutting back.  He isn't taking piano any more."  To which, the mother piped up, "That is only because his teacher moved.  As soon as we find another one, we'll pick that back up too."

REALLY?  When does that kid find time to breath?  I have to say, for a while, I was that busy as a teenager too.  But as the mother, I realized that our family could not have all of our children running at that pace.  It was too much for the littles, too much for me to juggle everything, and too much for my teenagers. 

We need to rest and balance!  I am so grateful that our family observes the Sabbath day!!  We may have a lot to do, but it is work and worship that keeps us focused on the things that matter!!  This week, our Sabbath would have been triple booked and we would have had to make some very tough choices if we didn't have our 'Sabbath observance' rules in place.  Sun had a show which required hours afterward taking down the set and cleaning the theater.  Shorty had a practice scheduled for two hours.  We had regular church, the bishop had extra interviews, and we had a discussion with an investigator and the missionaries.  Because we know our priorities and have an established Sabbath day observance pattern in place, Sun said 'no' to her show (which was super hard and emotional for her), and Shorty said 'no' to practice (which was easier because we worked with the same coaches last year and didn't attend Sunday practices then either).  As it was, I still missed sacrament meeting because Spike was sick (but I was able to pick it up by attending the Spanish meeting :-)

Anyway, the Lord gave us the Sabbath as a blessing and a gift!!  Our world runs too fast.  No day is considered sacred anymore or given as a day of rest!  We need rest, every seventh day, like the Lord established it!!  Do you realize that He even practices it as God?  The creation?  Six days He labors and the seventh day he rested.  In ancient Israel, even the land is given a Sabbath?  They would plant and harvest for six years and on the seventh year the land was suppose to lie fallow (plowed and left unseeded for a season).  A time of rest is apparently an eternal law, practiced by God himself.  Do you think He knows what He is doing?  That maybe, just maybe he has a little more experience and knowledge than we do?  And He takes off the seventh day!

OK, enough of my ranting.  We need to slow things down.  We are running too fast as a community and a nation and as families and individuals.  Maybe the pace we are trying to keep is contributing to our mental health problems.  Maybe more of them could be resolved if we just quit trying to run so fast and then trying to keep up with those who are doing that.  They are going to burn out sooner or later.  Embrace the Sabbath as a day of worship and rest!

Just say NO to those who are over-scheduling our families and children.  It isn't good for them, and it isn't good for us.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How I spent my anniversary!

Yesterday was our 25th wedding anniversary!!  I cannot believe we have been married that long!  It is awesome!  Getting here has been hard work and a lot of effort and time! 

Our little girlie who isn't so very little any more, was in her first play!  She is in a group that hosts classes in singing, a little dancing, and acting.  Sun loves it!!  It is definitely her 'thing'!  I wasn't able to record the performance, but I took plenty of photos during rehearsals and curtain calls.

The show opened Friday night, so this last week, we were in the theater from 3:30 to 8:00 almost every night!!  Seriously!  (But I will share a little more about that later.)  So Saturday, Sun had two shows.  She had to arrive an hour or so before call time so she could get her makeup on.  Because they were having two shows, they also had a little potluck and games in between shows, so I had to make something to take to that.  So.....

Saturday morning I got up and made cinnamon rolls.  Drew took Smiley to his basketball game.  I drove Sun and a friend up to the theater for makeup.  Drove back home, stopped at the grocery store to pick up a couple of missed items, got home, showered, drove back up to the theater, checked on Sun's hair and makeup for performance, then found seats for the first show.

Sun's makeup session:

Full make-up and hair:
Friday night
full makeup and costume
After the first show, Drew and I helped get the potluck ready, then we took off and enjoyed a quick dinner to celebrate our anniversary and came back for the second show where we ushered.  After a quick clean of the theater, we arrived home, tired, Sun with green hair, about 8:30 p.m.  Then we had to make sure things were ready for the Sabbath.

And that is how we spent our 25th wedding anniversary.  Maybe next year it will be a little more romantic?!

Friday, January 9, 2015

FFF #2 2015 Silver Anniversary 25 years!!!

Here we are two years ago.

Here we are 25 years ago!
We were just a wee bit skinnier!

I cannot believe we have been married 25 years!!  Life is so very amazing.  This man whom I love, has been by my side for over 25 years!  We have lived so very much life together!  Here are the highlights:

January 1990:  Got married.
December 1, 1990: Had our first baby, Slim
December 31, 1990:  Took our baby to the hospital, had emergency surgery.  Didn't know if he would live or die.  We were in the hospital for one month.  Then we brought our baby home with a colostomy.

June 1991:  Slim had his second surgery.
 August 1991:  Miscarried our second pregnancy.
September 1991:  Had my wisdom teeth removed
November 1991:  Drew had an appendectomy
February 1992:  Learned the house we were living in was being sold.  Found a new place to live.
July 1992:  Had our second baby, Spanky.
End July 1992:  Discovered our second baby had ventricular septal defect (VSD) and was drowning in his own blood.  We only spent one night in the hospital but had to give him consistent medication until his heart was big enough to not need it and function properly.  Lots of doctor's appointments between the two boys.

August 1992:  Discovered Slim has an anaphylactic peanut allergy.  Spent the better part of a Sunday at the pediatrician's office receiving three injections to calm the allergic reaction after innocent nursery leaders fed him peanut butter sandwiches at church.

August 1992:  I went back to school at BYU.
June 1993:  Slim had surgery to restore his colon and normal bodily functioning.  Included seven minor surgeries and two major ones over a six month period of time.  June was the final surgery.

August 1993:  Drew graduated from BYU.
Fall 1993:  Moved again.  Landlords wanted us to sign a contract that made us responsible to reseed the lawn in case of a drought, and be responsible for any plumbing or electrical problems and pay the property taxes.  Ya.  We moved.

June 1994:  Drew received his first Big Boy job.  We had been unemployed for 10 months after graduation.
July 1994:  Had our third baby, Scuff!  He is allergic to corn and didn't sleep for about six weeks until we figured it out.  I felt like a crazy lady!

January 1996:  We had our fourth boy, Sport!  (When I found out we were expecting this baby, I cried and told the Lord not to send any more babies, until I told him to.  I was exhausted and didn't think I could handle any more!)  Sport was the best baby and had the greatest hair ever!

August 1997:  I finally graduated from BYU!!!
September 1998:  We moved to California (20 weeks pregnant with our fifth son!)  Our new job only paid half of what we were making in Utah, and we were only making $25,000 annually.  It took serious faith to make the move.

March 1999:  Drew was called as Elder's Quorum President.  After our interview with the stake president, we went to the hospital and delivered Speedy, the same night.

May 2000:  (Somewhere around here) Drew accepted a new job with the Elections Office of our county.  He was assured it was a full-time, permanent position.

November 2000:  Within weeks of the election being over, Drew was fired without warning or explanation.  He came home on a Friday at lunch, lamp and box in hand.  Later that afternoon, he went to see the Court CEO who had originally hired him.  The CEO told him to show up on Monday and they would find work for him to do.  What they needed him to do is what led him to the job he currently has.  If we had never accepted the other job and then been fired, Drew wouldn't be working where he is today.  Being fired was a blessing and necessary in the Lord's plan to get us where He wanted us.

April 2001:  Had our first and only daughter.

October 2001:  Drew was called as the Bishop, 1st time.

September 2002:  Got kicked out of our rental because they thought we had too many kids in their house.  We had two property managers quit because they weren't willing to do the dirty deed.  The second one told us they were quitting because the owners wanted us out and were going to hire someone who would do it.  He told us to start looking for a new place to live right away.  Yea for small blessings, huh?

March 2003:  Had our sixth son, Shorty!  Lived in a very bad neighborhood, kept our front blinds closed because of the drug traffic outside of our house.  Had three other ward families live within one block of us.  Even though the neighborhood was bad, we supported each other and helped each other and became really close.  They are still some of my very favorite families!

May 2003:  We spent one week in the hospital with Shorty who had contracted Bronchiolitis and could not breath.  He continued to need nebulizing treatments on and off for the next two to three years.

June 2003:  Drew was released as Bishop.

December 2004:  Had our seventh son, Smiley.  Smiley was the only baby who was ever late.  He was more than a week late!  It was a stress for me because I had a personal agenda of having him born before the end of the year.  He actually arrived at 11:17 p.m. on New Year's Eve.  I'm not sure I could have cut it any closer.  It was part of my personalized curriculum that things happen on the Lord's time table, not mine.

No specific dates after Smiley was born:
  • Someone stole my clean laundry out of my laundry room and off my back porch.  All of my favorite clothes, including my garments, and entire load of baby clothes.  I was not amused!  I had the feeling to bring the laundry in the night before, but did not heed the prompting.  Didn't realize it was a prompting until the laundry was stolen.
  • Came home to find a skunk at the back door eating the cat food.  Went in the front door.
  • Some nice thieves siphoned the gas out of my automobile numerous times before I realized they were doing it and purchased a locking gas cap for my car!
  • Had serious drama and problems with ward people, including someone calling my landlord and telling them that I was moving (when I wasn't) to find out how much my house rented for.  (There was a TON more, but I won't go into the details.  Just know that it was five years of serious trial and heartache.)
  • Had our first 'real' teenager with our own learning curve issues.
February 2009:  Because of the drama and the Lord's timing, we moved out of our ward and into the neighboring ward without telling anyone.  Then we got to deal with that drama, and drama is the right word, let me assure you.

May 2009:  Our oldest graduated from high school and received his Associate's Degree from college.  Then we had an entire summer of fun with him exerting his adult self and resisting against the control or interest of his parents.  It was a lovely time.  (Can you hear the sarcasm?  Just checking.)

August 2009:  Our oldest left for college.

May 2010:  Our second oldest graduated from high school and received his Associate's Degree from college.  And Slim left for his mission.

August 2010:  Our second left for college.

September 2010:  The baby (Smiley) starts kindergarten!!

November 2010:  We found out we were expecting our seventh son and kept it a secret until I was about 20 weeks pregnant.  (Being 50 pounds overweight helps to hide things, you know?)

July 2011:  Thursday before I had the baby on Saturday, Drew was called as the Bishop the 2nd time.
July 2011:  My water broke and there was a lot of blood.  We almost had to have a C-section in the middle of the night, but things settled down and we had the baby normally, but two weeks early.  Drew was sustained as Bishop while I was in the hospital recovering from child birth.

August 2011:  Our second oldest, (Spanky) leaves for his mission.
May 2012:  Our oldest returned from his mission!  (And I was seriously blogging by then, so if you want to read the day to day, just go back a few years on the blog!)  Our third graduated from high school and received his Associate's Degree!!  (Then he left for BYU a week later!)

November 2012:  I think we started to phoof the man-cave amid many protests from the men who live here.  We started with the lamps.

December 2012:  Slim and Scuff came home for Christmas and we took family photos in the Redwoods!  I got curtains for the man cave.

May 2013: Scuff left for his mission!!
June 2013:  Tammers and I painted the man cave!  It looks smashing by the way!
July 2013:  Tammers left for her mission!!
August 2013:  Spanky arrived home from his mission and left for the Y three weeks later.
January 2014:  Two weeks before Sport turned 18, we found out, when we went to turn in his Eagle Scout paperwork, that they had added a new merit badge requirement.  We had to pump it out in record time.

May 2014:  Sport graduated from high school and received his Associate's Degree from college!  Slim graduated from the university and I got to go!!!  I was gone for four days, including travel to the east coast!  Oh, and Spanky got engaged.

June 2014:  Slim came home to live for the summer and ended up staying until Christmas.
June 2014:  Spanky got unengaged!
June 2014:  Sport and Spanky left to go to the Y.  Drew and I took them out there and were able to attend our old ward and see our very, very dear friends!!  The husband has brain cancer and his life expectancy is not good, so we were so happy to spend a few days visiting with them as we got the boys settled!  I love Provo!

November 2014:  We are officially now all potty-trained! Woohoo!!
December 2014:  Slim decides he needs to be in Utah.  Leaves with four days notice.  Dealt with emotional drama of the family.  No one came home for Christmas, but we all SKYPED several times during the day, including SKYING with both missionaries at the same time due to scheduling mix up!

January 2015:  Here we are!!!

February 2015:  Tammers comes home!

May 2015:  Scuff comes home!

That is a ton of living we have done together!!!  Why would I ever consider starting over with anyone else?  This man who lives by my side is as much a part of the children's reality and stability as I am!  We are a team!  We are yoked together, to pull together, to help each other, to be there when we need support!  This is our load to carry!  These children rely on us to keep our selfishness in check and put our pride away so that our partnership is unhindered in its ability to perform the work we have to do.  Our unity is vital to our children's stability, self esteem and vitality.  If our relationship crumbles, their identity will follow, as surely as night follows day.  Lucifer and the world, will tell you that you deserve to be happy (that is true), you deserve to have freedom (true),  you are worth it (true), the spouse you are yoked to is making you miserable (half-truth, some of it is your responsibility and choice), if you leave him/her things will be better (completely false, in most cases).  Things will not be better for the children.  Things will not be better for you or your spouse in the long run.  I will promise you that if you will put your trust in the Lord and plead before Him your trials and heartaches in regard to your relationship with your spouse, and then you will act on the promptings you receive and make the changes required of you, your relationship will change for the better.  We all have to acknowledge our part in the reasons why our relationships are struggling.  The Lord knows what those parts are, even if our subconscious is hiding them from us.  He will help us to see them, teach us how to change them, and give us the strength to do so.  Marriage is worth it!  The time and effort it takes to become happy and stay happy is worth it!!  Keep striving!  Keep working!  And above all Keep Loving!

Happy Anniversary, Love!