Period of Winter

Photo by Ash Edmonds on Unsplash

Well, I have been gone from the blogosphere for a little more than three years now…more than that, if I am really honest. It has been so hard! I have been buried in dirt—over and over and over again. Over the last three years, several times I have felt like I am just about to break through the surface and feel the sun. I am almost there…

…and then it comes….

More Dirt! Sometimes it is just a shovelful. Other times it feels like a dump truck load. It doesn’t really matter how much it is. What matters, is I am buried again! And I have to fight for light….again! Five years buried in dirt. Five years of winter.

I have brought all of my resources into the dirt with me. I am unavailable to help others—not because I don’t want to. My heart yearns to help. But my head knows that helping others—today, right now—will over extend the energy I have to survive the winter. There is only so much emotional energy available. And right now,I am using all of it to try to find the light.

I am doing what I know. I am reading my scriptures (not as often or as deeply as I should be). I am praying. Most nights and days I am pouring my soul out to my Father in Heaven. I have never spent more time on my knees, in my closet (literally, my closet!), or cried more tears during my prayers than I have these last five years. I am going to church and the temple and renewing my covenants. I AM doing this things. I am still buried in dirt and fighting for light.

There is a lot of light (actual sunlight) where I live. The Lord has moved us away from the dreary clouds of the coastline and put us in a place where the sun shines all of the time. I am sure part of the reason He did that was to physically surround me with light while my soul struggles through the winter.

There are glimpses of light—I see them periodically. I am an optimistic person by nature. But if I allow myself enough time and space to feel—I am deep, deep in winter. I don’t know if the light will ever come. And I am so tired. I am tired of living in and struggling through my emotional dirt. Right now, it just feels like a pile of manure, anyway!

Hang on!! The light will come! The manure is good for you! It will help you grow!

Really?!! Cause right now it is still dark! And it STINKS! And there is no light! And I am tired….

The Miracle of the Wheat

We lived in Eureka for 21 years. We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Those of you who are familiar with our religion will know that prophets have emphasized food storage and having enough to take care of your family for at least one year. Those of us who have heeded the prophets’ counsel have tried to store enough for ourselves and to help others. If you have ever tried to store food, you will find wheat stores the easiest. It lasts the longest, is easy to pack, and isn’t very expensive. Needless to say, members of our church have a lot of wheat.

Wheat is heavy. It is not fun to move. So members in our area, when they would move, would often give away their wheat. We stored wheat and we learned how to use it. I make a lot of bread. It is really good. People know that. Often when people would move they would offer us their wheat stores. Drew, being concerned for others, always accepted their offers. I was not so eager for him to do so. I had to find a place for the wheat. And some of their wheat was really old…like 30 years old!

We also would buy wheat because we liked white wheat, most people stored red wheat, and the newer wheat makes better bread. Right as the pandemic was getting into full swing, we had just purchased 500 lbs of hard white wheat kernels. I had no idea how much wheat we had in the garage (which constituted all of the wheat others had given to us).

Mid-July we found out we were moving to Redding. I had so many things that I did not want to move, without even thinking about the wheat.

Side note: Up to this point in my life, I have held exactly one traditional yard sale. It was so much work to prepare and advertise. We made next to nothing and I still ended up with the majority of things that I wanted to be gone. I felt it was completely unworthy of my time and effort. I silently vowed I would never have another yard sale. EVER!

With this move, I needed to unload a lot of stuff and I needed to do it quickly. How was I going to do it? I lived on a busy street. We called it the magic corner because I could put something out, place a free sign on it, and have it disappear in a matter of hours. We picked a day for the yard sale. The goal of the sale was not to make money. It was to get rid of stuff.

I decided to have a ‘name your own price’ yard sale. As a psychology lover and student of human behavior, I was sure it would prove interesting. I also decided I would see if I could unload some of the wheat. Because I just wanted it gone, I would give it away for free. I had no idea if I would get rid of any of it….but any that left my house was that much less I had to deal with.

The night before the yard sale, I thought I had better figure out how much wheat I actually had in the garage. Just so you know, the week before I had moved 750 lbs of wheat that I wanted to keep to Redding. In the garage…my garage… I roughly counted 2,000 lbs of wheat. I KNOW I rounded down. I had over a ton, a literal TON of wheat in my garage!!!! I was floored! That night, as I was saying my prayers, I said, Heavenly Father, please send the right people for the wheat! That was my biggest concern….how to unload a ton of wheat.

The next morning, I put out 16 five gallon buckets of wheat. As people came, some would ask about the wheat. One of my girlfriends came over early to talk and visit. She was so intrigued by my ‘name your own price’ yard sale that she stayed to observe and help.

When others asked about the wheat I would explain. It is hard kernel wheat. Can we see it? Sure, and I opened a bucket. Can you eat it? Yes. What do you do with it? Well, you can grind it and make flour…so you can use it for anything you put flour into. Some people even feed it to their chickens.

One of my yard sale patrons overheard that comment. He said, You know, if you put out a sign that said ‘Free Chicken Feed,’ those buckets would fly off of your shelves. I knew immediately he was right. I ran into the house and made a quick sign.

Right about then a preschool teacher showed up. She was interested in the wheat. She looked inside the buckets. She said, You know, this would be perfect to fill my sensory tables! Yes, yes it would! And you are just giving it away? Yes, yes I am. I have a ton😂. I have preschool teaching friends. They also need to fill their sensory tables. Can I take more? Take as much as you will use.

People started taking a bucket here or there for their chickens. Others saw that they were taking it for free. They joined in. My visiting friend became invested in unloading the wheat. She began advertising it to the yard sale patrons. Are you sure you do not need some chicken feed? It is free. One by one the buckets started disappearing. Rachael (yard sale friend) decided to go and get more buckets out of the garage. She had my boys help her. We had seven metal barrels of 50 lbs of wheat. Rachael and the boys had to take them out the garage, through the backyard, out the gate and roll them around the corner to the front of the house. Rachael got rid of 6 of those! By the end of the day, I had one 50 lb barrel left! AND I had the number of a lady who said Call me if you have any wheat left….I will come back and get it. She was also the only person who said, I just feel bad taking it without giving you something for it, and she paid me $20. She came back and got that last barrel the next day.

Within 30 hours we unloaded more than a ton of wheat in Eureka!

Heavenly Father answered my simple prayer with a miracle! He definitely sent the ‘right’ people. I would never have unloaded that much wheat without Rachael’s enthusiasm and determination to get it gone! I would not have gotten rid of so many buckets without the random yard sale guy who said….make a sign saying Free Chicken Feed. It wouldn’t have happened without the preschool teacher who had preschool teaching friends who all needed something to put into their sensory tables. And of course it would not have happened without all of the people who wanted a little bit to feed to their chickens! All of the ‘right people’ were there.

copyright: Karen Larsen photography

You may also be interested in knowing how the rest of the yard sale went.

It was one of the best days I have ever had! WHEN I have another yard sale, I will definitely have a ‘name your own price’ yard sale. It was so fun to watch the people! Oh my goodness…hysterical! A person would come up and say ‘how much do you want for this.’ And Rachael or I would say ‘This is a name your own price yard sale. How much do you want to pay?’ The younger generation would say ‘I want to pay this.’ Okay. And we would take their money. One young man bought my Ninja blender. It worked. But it only had one mixing container. He paid $20, which is more than I would have asked or expected. The older generation would low ball the price, which is consistent with what they are used to paying. You would never pay full price at a yard sale! One older gentleman bought a Costco size oatmeal box of nuts, bolts, various small tools. He paid $2, but he only had $100 bill and I had to make change! I had three wooden, office arm chairs. We had a set of four but one broke. A middle-aged man asked How much do you want for the chairs? Standard response, This is a name your own price yard sale…how much do you want to pay? He hemmed and hawed for at least 10 minutes. Then he said I really don’t like this…what if these are your grandmother’s chairs and they are worth a lot to you and I say $20 and it is too little and now I have offended you? And I said, What if I told you they came from my mother-in-law? Now how much are they worth? Sooo funny! I had a king sized, heavy reversible comforter in excellent condition. It was cream with a lot of greenery and cream flowers. Very beautiful. A woman brought it to the front and said How much do you want for this? Standard response: This is a name your own price yard sale…how much do you want to pay? She said That is ridiculous! I mean if I said I only wanted to pay $2 for this, you would not be happy with that! And I said Well if that is what you want to pay, I would be. She was totally disgusted! She slammed her $2 on the table, picked up her comforter, and stormed away! I was dying laughing! I WISH I had said Well if that is all you think it is worth, then sure. She was willing to violate her own conscience because I was too stupid to know the value of what I was selling! I am sure she is telling stories about the idiot yard sale lady who doesn’t know anything! People are so funny! There were a couple of sweet moments. One young man was eying a bicycle. It needed work. He ran into his friend at my sale. He told his friend that he and his wife had just had their first baby and he was trying to figure out how to get back and forth to work. He needed to go home and get some cash to pay for the bicycle. I obviously overheard their conversation. I told him to just take the bicycle….don’t go home and get any money. He questioned me three times. No seriously, just take the bike. You are going to have to put some money into it to make it work for you. It wasn’t about the money. He obviously needed it and I just wanted it gone. Another young woman was looking at my artificial Christmas tree. She thought her boyfriend would want it. She also didn’t have any money with her. It was getting late (for a yard sale). Just take the tree. Seriously, just take it. Over all, we made just over $300! Which consequently was how much it cost us to make the dump runs and throw away the rest of our junk. I probably came away from that day about 3000-4000 lbs lighter and had hysterical stories of human behavior! I will definitely do it again….just to watch the people!

And that, my friends, is the miracle of the wheat! God will help us when we ask. He can do things we cannot even imagine! He can do them quickly if it suits His purposes….or He can withhold the blessings until we conform our attitude or behavior and lend our heart to the process. He truly is our loving Father in Heaven. His work and His glory is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life….our growth and development. His total concern is for us, His children.

copyright: Karen Larsen photography. Tulips are my favorite! Thanks, Karen!

Adult tantrum

(all family photos taken by @andreza_rocha_ ….go and check her out!)

Wow I have been super slacking in the writing my blog department….for about three years now. Quick update….we had three weddings in 2019….we moved in August of 2020…..we had a grandbaby in October of 2020….we had CoVid in December of 2020….we moved again in February of 2021….we blessed our grandbaby and saw all of our kids in April of 2021….now it is summer. There, now you are all caught up!

There has been so much emotional management in so many different areas for so many people! Moving and adjustment is hard work. There has been a lot of adjustment. It has been painful for all of us. I think I will update the blog photos. We had family photos taken in April and now my wall is updated. The blog is next.

We are starting to go back to church. That has been really strange. When we moved in, church was at home… we have been pretty slow in meeting people. We were not the only ones who moved in! So many people are new in our ward and area! We are in Redding now…and this week it was HOT…like 108, in June! People here refer to the summer as ‘the oven’. Here we go.

I am sad today. I have new responsibilities in my new ward. I am having to let go of things from my old calling and ward. I am really sad about that. But I know this is where the Lord wants us and what He wants us to be doing. The kids are growing. Drew is growing. I suppose I am growing and learning too.

I think I have been in what Diana would call ‘survivor mode’. Just managing the things that needed to happen and trying to help my immediate family has been all that I have been able to do or to think about. I am starting to come out of it…but I am still unpacking…still! Ugh! I hate moving. I am in survivor mode in my emotional management too. Just the next right step. That is where I have been. I can’t look too far down the road. Just ‘what needs to be done today’. It is difficult for me to access the feelings.

When I go here, I turn off the emotions so that I can function in the day to day. Periodically the emotions sneak up on me and I have to stop what I am doing and allow myself to feel. I have done a better job of that with all of these transitions. I haven’t packed the moving grief onto my grief iceberg. But I still do not always allow myself to feel. I am too busy. Then the Spirit reminds me…you have to slow down to have the feelings, Carin. You cannot run so fast. Slow down.

I have slowed waaaaayyyy down from where I was running. But the Spirit says, you are not slow enough yet. Slow down more. I wish I was not quite so results oriented. Writing forces me to slow down. Even during the writing of this blog post, I have been ready to be finished about four times, so I can move on to other things. And in my head I hear, go back to writing, Carin….you still have not accessed the feelings. Ugh! Why do we have to have feelings again?

I am sad…still sad….still grief. All of these changes have caused more grief…except the grandbabies! That is pure joy! No grief! (Yet). Yes, I said ‘grandbabies’! We have another one arriving in August. A pink one! (See what I did there? I was just starting to allow myself to have the sad feelings and I redirected and changed the subject so I didn’t have to be sad… bogus!) I miss my people. I miss so many people! I miss my relationships in Eureka. I don’t have those in Redding. No 20 year friends here. It isn’t that I lost my Eureka people….but we aren’t in each other’s lives and business. My deep, deep relationships are not here. I can shoot a text and say hello. I can drive three hours and see people….but it just is not the same. And it will never be the same. And I have to be OK with that and move on to new people and new things and new experiences designed to help me and my family grow.

Sometimes I hate my own motto! I have this cross-stitched on our walls: In this home we practice and promote growth and development! I don’t want to grow! I want to kick and scream and throw an adult-sized tantrum! I am here! I am doing what you want! I am trying to be cheerful and exercise my faith….but I am NOT Happy Bob! NOT Happy! THIS was not in my plan!

…..Which is kind of crazy because I have wanted to move forever! I guess I had an agenda about that too!

Isn’t it funny how when we get what we want, but it isn’t the way we wanted it, we still aren’t happy? I am a brat!

I have been avoiding my feelings for almost an entire year! It was a year ago in June (near the end) that a friend reached out to us and said, “Hey come and work over here with me….” And we applied on the 4th of July and by mid-August we were moving. Now we have done it. I miss my people. I miss the beach and the redwoods. I miss 60 degree weather….I really miss it right now.

But I have cool things here. I forgot how much I enjoy the heat. Not everyday, not all day, not 108!! But 80 is nice! Warm evenings are nice. Crickets are nice! Swimming pools are nice! Ice cream and popsicles are nice. The people here are nice. I LOVE my new neighborhood! My kids can finally play in the neighborhood. We never had that in Eureka. Sun is nice. Redding is the 2nd sunniest city in the United States…apparently. I can grow tomatoes, I think. The ground at my house is not great….red clay, full of rocks. So I have to make some raised beds.

This is the first time I have let my guard down and just been sad about moving.

I have to learn to trust my Father in Heaven…again….at a new level. When we moved to Eureka from Provo, I wondered, What have we done?! But it all worked out. I learned to love it! I need to give Redding the same opportunity. I need to learn to love it. Not quite there yet. That is OK. Time will tell. I know He loves me. I know He wants to help me grow. I know He wants me to become like Him and that requires doing things I do not like and things I do not want to. And I will do them. But the learning only really works if I make my heart do its work and participate in the process too. I would rather just turn it off and go to work. But that is not the work I am called to do right now.

Right now, the work is to allow myself to have feelings…that is the work. Have feelings. Ugh. Nothing else. Just let life unfold and have feelings about it Carin, and write. Write about your experiences.

Well….I got there. I got to the feelings.


(Photo copyright: Karen Larsen photography)


copyright: Karen Larsen photography

Well…here I am, me and the sacred paper, always here, always available, always blank and clean and new…..a fresh start. It feels good to write…to reach down into my soul and pull out the feelings that have been hiding under the smile. Kind of like slipping into your favorite pair of old jeans….they are ratty, and tattered….but they always fit and they just feel right. So you haven’t thrown them out yet. Your comfort pants…. It has been so long and so much has happened to us in the last three years. I don’t even know where to start. I have been crying for four years.

I am tired of crying. Tired. I have many, many things to cry about and I am not going to spell them all out for you. They are private. But I am tired. I can tell you that. Grief is stinky… in, it is always there. It never takes a vacation or goes away. It never poses as happiness…though it can be masked in indifference. I have to allow myself to have it, but then I have to back away from it and take a break because it is overwhelming and exhausting. I think it is over and another tidal wave hits me. No, I am not talking about those gentle waves that tickle your toes. TIDAL wave ….SNEAKER wave….hits you OUT OF NOWHERE wave….KNOCKS YOU ON YOUR BOTTOM wave….makes it HARD TO BREATHE….that kind of a wave. I am tired of four years of those waves. More are coming. I KNOW more are coming. How many waves can one person really manage? Really?

I have made major changes. I have quit eating garbage…things my body does not really tolerate. I have increased my exercise…like to six days a week. I am drinking more water. Still not enough, but more. I am sleeping well. I am taking care of my physical health. I know that is important or I would not be even attempting to swim in this ocean of grief. I would be drowning. I am not drowning…I am swimming–even if I only dog paddle, or sometimes just float on my back.

No one really sees it.

I think that is the hard part. I look like I am functioning, and for the most part I am. I am not hugging the floor yet. That is also coming, I know. You don’t need to know how I know, I just know. Their (other people’s) expectations of me are normal for how I was functioning. But the grief I am experiencing, necessitates that I do less, so I can feel more…which is hard for them. So on top of all of the sorrow, I have to manage changing relationships and other’s expectations, and then disappointments that I do not meet their desires. And I do not have enough energy to manage their feelings about it, which is good, because those are not my responsibility anyway, but it is still annoying, and I feel the pressure.

I have increased my ability to self-nurture. I take more time out to smell the flowers, to sit in the sunshine, to walk in the rain, to listen to the crickets and the frogs. I breathe more deeply. I have even been known to indulge in a fantasy novel or a movie of no consequence. I would not do that before….I was too busy. I need to spend more time writing. That is really where I find my solace. No one interrupts my thought patterns when I am writing on the paper. No one tells me how I should feel or what I should do or what I should think. It is not about them anyway. It is about me. With the paper, I can just sort it out…all of the feelings, and all of the things going on in my head and my heart that I am struggling to identify. Writing forces me to put it to words, and then it makes more sense to me.

It is really strange to have spent your entire life taking care of others and then to suddenly realize it is OK to take time out to take care of yourself too. I watched my mother burn out, as she never took time for herself…not until she left us. I thought I had been so much more careful to take time for myself so that I did not burn out or run away from my family. I actually did do that very well. But I did not give myself enough time or space for grief. I packed it all away in an iceberg in my heart and just kept it sitting there, packing on more grief as was necessary for functioning. Now the Lord has said, Uh Carin… is time to melt that iceberg. If you want to be truly happy, we have to melt it. You have to look at the feelings, allow yourself to have them, work through them, and let them go. As the feelings calve into the ocean and begin to melt, here comes the wave…..and again, I cannot breathe.

It takes a long time to melt an iceberg.

Periodically, my body revolts by breaking out in shingles, or having a huge desire to sleep for no reason, or to stuff my face with carbs and sugar. Those are my clues that I am holding onto my feelings instead of learning to let them pass through me. It is really hard to unlearn behavior and to replace the negative behaviors with more positive coping mechanisms. I love talking about all of this in theory but the application is brutal and painful. I don’t think anyone is really ever prepared for the pain.

One of my boys, in their studies, called and said, Hey Mom….did you know that emotional pain follows the same nerve patterns in the brain as physical pain? Let that sink in moment. That means the emotional pain we have (for whatever reasons) is just as painful as say, breaking your leg. Those emotions HURT! If we say nasty things to one another, we are causing others pain. And the pain we have because of our own choices, or the choices of others, really does hurt us…..physically in our body, the emotion causes pain. But with emotional pain, no one sees it. If I was in an accident, and I had to relearn to walk, after my body heals, people will usually be patient with me because they can see and to a degree, they understand I cannot just bounce back to normal. But with an emotional break, or illness, they do not usually see it, unless it is also accompanied by drastic behavior. That is really unfair of us, to put that kind of pressure on each other when all we are trying to do is heal. Healing takes time. Almost as much time as melting an iceberg! It is no wonder that some of us try to just push through it and continue to work, go to school, be normal and when we cannot do that, we wonder what is wrong with us and feel like even more of a failure. But the truth is, we are rehabilitating and we cannot do what we once did when we were well. We need to be patient with ourselves and with others.

copyright: Karen Larsen photography


I don’t know if you have noticed, but emotional work takes time…..

copyright: Karen Larsen photography

If I was in a major accident and broke parts of my body, it would take a significant amount of time–depending upon the injuries–to heal my body. Once the physical parts are healed, it may take longer to rehabilitate them. I might need physical or occupational therapy and maybe some medications as I learn to work through the pain to strengthen my body and get it back in shape or even just to get it to function. Maybe it will never be ‘where it was’…. I may even emotionally resist doing the work because it is painful and I figure ‘what is the point?’. But if I want my body to heal, I have to commit to doing the work. People are fairly patient with physical injuries. They may push a little or expect one to go faster, but usually they have a general idea of the work involved.

An emotional break, trauma, difficulty, or injury also requires time and work to heal. Sometimes rehabilitation and therapy are necessary, sometimes medication.

Contrary to a physical injury, in an emotional ailment, people can’t see the work necessary or even really evaluate the progress being made. Expectations from others are typically significantly higher than the injured person’s capability. It isn’t always or even usually about personality or ability–though that is what is often identified as the problem or impediment to healing. The truth though, is it usually about pain–and each of us can only handle so much of that at one time. Thus the healing process requires a lot of time and a willingness to work — through the pain. Well meaning individuals who say, “Just get over it,” or “Let it go,” or “Move on…” do not recognize their well-meaning comments actually cause further pain and make the process more challenging, more difficult, and sometimes even make it take longer!

I have learned we have to slow life down to manage the pain.

I learned this principle from Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his address: Of Things That Matter Most. Here is an excerpt from his talk:

It’s remarkable how much we can learn about life by studying nature. For example, scientists can look at the rings of trees and make educated guesses about climate and growing conditions hundreds and even thousands of years ago. One of the things we learn from studying the growth of trees is that during seasons when conditions are ideal, trees grow at a normal rate. However, during seasons when growing conditions are not ideal, trees slow down their growth and devote their energy to the basic elements necessary for survival.

At this point some of you may be thinking, “That’s all very fine and good, but what does it have to do with flying an airplane?” Well, let me tell you.

Have you ever been in an airplane and experienced turbulence? The most common cause of turbulence is a sudden change in air movement causing the aircraft to pitch, yaw, and roll. While planes are built to withstand far greater turbulence than anything you would encounter on a regular flight, it still may be disconcerting to passengers.

What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence? A student pilot may think that increasing speed is a good strategy because it will get them through the turbulence faster. But that may be the wrong thing to do. Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed. The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road.

Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Of Things That Matter Most.

Just like there is an optimum speed for turbulence, there is also an optimum speed for pain–physical or emotional. Our progression is based in learning our optimum speed to travel through the pain. Sometimes hugging the floor for a time period is OK. You may need to hug the floor to conserve the energy necessary to survive. This is true especially at the beginning of trauma as you are realizing the pain you are facing or the work necessary to travel through the pain. YOU will know when it is time to peel yourself up off of the floor. Trust yourself. Don’t push too fast, too hard, or too early. If you do, you will soon recognize that you are not quite ready to be off of the floor yet.

Grief and emotional pain are real. They should be recognized as such.

Our modern, western-style, fast paced society tries to tell us that grief is unnecessary, unproductive, and a problem. But just like the trees slow down their growth during times when growing conditions are not ideal, we also may need a period of winter. All of nature takes some down time….time to hibernate, and rest. And if you haven’t noticed, we are organic! No ‘ever-blooming wonder’ plants. No ‘ever-blooming wonder’ people…..not really. People need down time too–especially the emotionally injured.

Personally, I have experienced many emotional injuries. Some were people being mean on purpose, but most were done unconsciously. My wounds are deep–deeper than I had any idea. I have managed them all of these years by shoving my pain into a box, closing the lid, and pretending the box did not exist. Not a bad emotional copying strategy. It has kept me quite productive all of these years. But it was not a fool-proof method. I have learned this strategy retards my growth. I have needed to learn about the box, recognize that I have the box, open the box, look at the box, and feel what is inside the box. There is an iceberg in there—an iceberg of grief. The melting process is painful and I can only handle so much of it at one time. Sometimes giant chunks melt off and that takes a greater amount of time for crying and slower pace of life to allow for melting. If I melt too fast or too much, I am flooded with grief and non-functional.

There is resistance to the work. I do not want to feel pain, and I am very good at choosing not to feel it! I can freeze it and stick it into my iceberg before I even register that I am in pain, that an experience has injured me. It is because I have spent the last 35+ years doing it that way. I have to make a conscious choice to look for the pain, see it, and allow myself to feel it, before my iceberg melts. I can only handle so much of the pain before I choose to shut it off and manage my day to day. In this way, I can continue to move forward. I just have to find my optimum speed for turbulence (pain)–which is different at different times, and not succumb to the temptation to stop melting the iceberg and go back to my freezing strategy. It is a very difficult skill to unlearn!

copyright: Karen Larsen photography


copyright: Karen Larsen photography

I cannot believe today is Thanksgiving 2020! My heart is so full today of gratitude for so many things. I know it has been a difficult year. We have all struggled with things none of us could really have imagined would happen to us just a few years ago. My life has changed drastically in the last three years. For me, the changes have been good….HARD…..but good. I know many more people who have suffered many tragedies and losses. I have had my own. You need not think that I am exempt and that my life is happy and rosy while everyone else is suffering. That has not been the case. But the hard changes have blessed my life. We are still in the middle of our hard changes….the blessings are still coming….we still have work to do.

Through it all, up to this point, I have been able to see the Lord’s hand in my life. I have recognized that things I believed were stones and serpents really were bread and fish. I just didn’t see them that way. It has taken me time to see value in those very difficult experiences. I have needed to change my perspective, or my behavior to see the blessings, and experience the benefits. I have needed what some might refer to as ‘an attitude adjustment’.

I know the Lord gives these things to me….the difficulties as well as the blessings, because He loves me. He knows what I can become. He knows what experiences I need to get there. I don’t like His experiences. They are hard and often painful. But as I hold onto Him, I become what He sees. And after the fact, I see it. I would never see it if I didn’t choose to hold on to Him through the difficulties. I might resent having to change or leaving things or people I love. I try to keep the things I think are worth keeping, instead of trusting Him to give me greater things, and being willing to sacrifice the things I think are ‘so important’. It is fine, usually, when the objects are things…..more difficult when those things are people. I have been asked to let go of some of my people and to trust that God knows and loves them too and it is not my job or within my ability to save my people. That was always His job…..and He needs me to do other things….with other people. That has been super hard for me, because I love all of the people and I don’t want to give up any. I am just a little selfish that way.

I am learning to trust God’s love for me, and for all of the people I love and am concerned about. I cannot make other people do or choose what I want. That is hard for me. Not because I need them to do things my way, but I want them to be happy and I know happiness comes from making righteous choices. But not everyone agrees with me….so they have to be free to make the choices they want to make…which they believe will bring them the happiness they want. But that is not always the case and sometimes I have to watch them suffer because of the choices they have made. That breaks my heart.

But God knew we would make those choices…they would make some, and I would make some. And we would not be happy with the consequences of the choices we made. So He provided a way that we could changes things. He gave us His Son….because He loves us. His Son suffered unimaginable things, so we might not suffer if we would change. He did that because of His love for us….the Son’s love for us…..God’s love, and His Son’s love. He knew we would need to learn by our own experiences, and not the knowledge or understanding of another. Sometimes our mistakes would hurt the people we love, including ourselves. We would need to have enough love to trust God and His Son and make changes, changes that would be painful. But changes that would be necessary for us to become love.

I wonder how the world would change if everyone’s only motive was love… like Theirs.

It was all brought about because of love…..because of Their love, so we could learn to love, TRUE love….the kind of love where we put another person’s needs above our own, like They did.

Today, this Thanksgiving? I am grateful for Their love and for the experiences that are teaching me how to love…the way They do.


copyright: Karen Larsen photography


Ok…You are going to have to follow me on this blog post. I am going to wander for a bit, but I will tie it all together before we are finished. Today, I am grateful for Air….yes, just the basic kind that you breathe in and out every day. Let me tell you where I have been.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law had a surgery…nothing major, but surgery none the less. I didn’t realize that I had been contemplating air and my ability to breathe for awhile. But her surgery reminded me of a couple of things. A few years ago, Drew’s aunt had a routine surgery. She was in recovery, and somehow, she threw up and aspirated her vomit and died. My grandmother, when I was 13, was in an automobile accident and on life support in a coma for a month before they decided to terminate her air. I have been reading about the Brother of Jared in the book of Ether and his concern that the boats the Lord asked him to build have no light and no air. And I have known for awhile that the Lord wants me to go a certain direction and I have been trying to go there, but recently have come to a place where I recognize, if I go there, I know it will be dark and I am afraid I will not be able to breathe… light and no air.

I have several children with asthma. Some of the scariest times I have had with them are when their asthma is so bad that they cannot breathe and there is nothing that I can do for them, and we are in the hospital as the staff tries to manage their air.

I have been pondering about the faith it took the Brother of Jared, and all of his party, to enter the barges….where the Lord said, “Ya, you are going to be buried in the deep, as a whale in the sea, but don’t worry, I will bring you up again…’ll get air….it will be OK.” (rough paraphrase 🙂 And they trusted Him, not knowing how long they would be buried in the deep, or even how long their journey to the promised land would take them, and they had no ability to steer. That is some serious faith.

My sister-in-law had to trust the anesthesiologist with her air….. With my grandmother, people she didn’t even know and may not even have been aware of, stepped in and provided her with air. With Drew’s aunt, her air was managed fine during surgery. But somehow AFTER the surgery there was a problem and the Lord called her home. Accident? Negligence? Maybe. But maybe it was just the circumstances the Lord used to bring His daughter back to Him.

I am afraid. I am afraid to trust God with my Air. And yet, He is already giving it to me. It is completely His to control. He controls it today! Right now! He gives me my daily breath. If He wanted to, He could stop my air right now and I would return home to His presence. So why am I so afraid that He won’t provide air for me while I am doing what He has asked? Why can’t I seem to bridge that gap today? Why am I struggling to exercise my faith and to trust Him at that level?

I don’t know. I am working on it. But today….that is where I am and today, I am grateful for air….just the normal kind that I breathe in and out every day, every hour, every minute…usually without thinking about it. But today, I am thinking about it and grateful for it!



We have a motto in our home. I had my sister in law cross stitch it so we can have it on the wall:

In This Home, We Practice and Promote Growth and Development.

copyright: Karen Larsen photography

I wanted my children to know that growth isn’t an option, it is a requirement. I don’t know if you have noticed…..but growth is painful. One of my dear friends has children who experience growing pains as their bones and muscles change. They wake up in the middle of the night with leg cramps and sometimes they cry because of the pain. Just like our physical bodies grow and change, so do our spiritual bodies. We change emotionally, intellectually, and socially too. Sometimes that growth is imposed upon us. Someone in our family or a close friend dies or leaves for some reason and we have to learn to live without them. Someone moves. It can be simple or it can be complicated. But it requires us to change. Sometimes, however, we have to choose growth. We choose to take that new job, or jump back into school, or we are impressed to make a change that requires us to develop.

One of the biggest things I try to promote in our home is the choice to grow emotionally, to choose to make changes in who we are, how we think, and how we feel. I truly believe that is a large part of the purpose of this blog. Emotional growth is hard work. It is painful work. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like pain and I avoid as much as possible. But making that choice, keeps me from growing. It keeps me stuck. It doesn’t allow me to become. I don’t want to be stuck…..and I don’t want my children to be stuck either. I want us to become….to grow.

Become what exactly?

Well, that really depends upon each individual. God has blessed each of us with talents and gifts, and at my house, those are all different for each individual. Their learning curves are personally tailored because their spirits are unique and so none of their experiences are identical because each one needs something different to learn whatever it is that they are becoming. Today, I am grateful for growth, even if it is painful and it hurts and it requires me to change… I can become.


copyright: Karen Larsen photography


Me and LInz!
Me and Shari

Today I am grateful for good friends…these are just two of the many beautiful people Heavenly Father has allowed to be a part of my life. They, and others, have changed me for the better. Shari was a part of my life when I was younger….so much younger! She was there when I was a teenager…so young! My family was falling apart. My life wasn’t a mess yet…even though my family was. Shari kept me from personally jumping off of the deep end. She kept me focused. She gave me direction and vision. I don’t know if she has any idea how profound her effect on me was. This photo was a ‘chance’ meeting. I bumped into her in a place where I usually would not be. And, at the time, I thought to myself, you know, if Shari was anywhere, I bet she would be here right now. There were thousands of people there. The venue was huge. We were on a 15 minute break and I began looking for her. After about 10 minutes of looking, I thought, what am I doing? There is no way I am going to find her in this sea of people. And I decided to hit the bathroom before I sat through the rest of the presentation. As I headed to the restroom, there she was! I saw her talking to someone else. Just so you know, it had been probably 25 years since I had seen or talked to her. And there she was!

Linzy? She was my secret friend in Eureka. 🙂 There were some other people in our lives and they did not appreciate the love we had for one another. We kept our friendship quiet…I mean, how much time we really spent together. We had reasons to interact, working together in church and things. We were both struggling with relationships, in many areas. Our hearts could just unload on one another without causing stress to the other person. (Love you Linz!!! 💕💕)

I am so grateful Heavenly Father has always given me good friends. Wherever I have lived, He has provided some amazing people who have supported me and strengthened me and listened to me and been there for me. These are just two of my people. If I posted about all of them, I could probably post for the rest of my life! Such good people! Anywhere I go…there are more people to love!



My big boys….after helping someone pack their moving van.

I am Mother to some amazing people! I LOVE being a mother. The opportunity to help bring to earth and grow another person, in my case 9 other people, has been my journey of a lifetime and has helped me to grow and change in really amazing ways. Has it been challenging? Understatement of the decades! So much work! Heavenly Father has known exactly how to push all of my buttons and show me my weaknesses, harness my strengths and force me to grow in very painful but productive ways. Motherhood has made me become, and required me to reach deep within my soul and call forth everything I could give and ask the Lord to make up the difference. Sometimes I have had to do what Elder Holland says, ‘come to the Lord in meekness and lowliness of heart and,…, “pounded on the doors of heaven to ask for, to plead for, to demand guidance and wisdom and help for this wondrous task,”’. I have done that more than once….probably more than once for each child. These are incredible people…and I don’t want to mess them up because of my inadequacies. I want them to reach for the stars and to soar! I want them to believe in themselves and to go after and obtain their dreams. I know they can do it with the help of their Father in Heaven! I KNOW they can! I am so very grateful for the opportunity I have to interact with them on a daily basis and have them all as a part of my life!!


some of my girls….

Lenise 🙂 (I need more photos of you and Johnathan!)

Alli and Tammy
At a performance for Allison
Crazy Ryan….
Spencer, Joshua and Daniel