After her BYU summer camp performance…

I probably spelled that wrong….. (just so you know, I did….I spelled it Jerri….but then I asked Sun for the proper spelling…and I fixed it ūüôā

I can tell it is really important for me to be writing today, because I decided to do it awhile ago and everything keeps getting in my way of sitting down and actually doing it. Sooooo many life changes have been happening this year! I think I will blog about some of them later. Today, I wanted to document something cool that has happened.

So my little daughter, Sun, is off at BYU I this semester. She graduated from high school, had an eventful summer of college decisions, and eventually landed at the I. She called earlier this week because she was having her second week away from home meltdown. She didn’t have one when she left. She didn’t have one the first week. It hit this week.

For you to understand the significance, you will need a little background. My dear, sweet daughter does not like to think about or deal with her emotions. She has plenty….more than the boys, so much more than the boys. But she is super stubborn, especially when it comes to knowing how she is feeling and acknowledging that. (She is more work for me than the boys too….as far as getting her to talk about her emotions.)

For the last seven years, we have been working with her. I recognized that she has this pattern of behavior: When she feels overwhelmed, she just quits working and finds some way to distract herself from her responsibilities. She keeps ignoring the piling work until it is so overwhelming or the deadline is so close that she just completely implodes and has a breakdown. She doesn’t usually ask for help until I press her so hard that she finally admits to me where she is and what she is struggling with. When she was younger, I rescued her. As she has gotten older, I have reminded her of the pattern, tried to help her plan for the pattern, and encouraged her to ask for help before the problems are so overwhelming that she cannot manage them. Every year, for the past seven years, we have been adjusting the process and her responses, recognizing the triggers, and dealing with some major catastrophe, usually school related. If the truth were told, there was a question of whether or not she was actually going to finish the work for graduation. But she did it! And she didn’t need the safety net that we put into place!! YEA SUN!!

As part of this process, at one point in her junior year, I think, I was completely exacerbated in trying to help her. I prayed silently for insight. I was pulling out all of my hair trying to get her to talk to me about what she was thinking and feeling. “I don’t know” she would say. OK….I relate to that. When I was her age, whenever an authority figure starting berating me, my emotional functioning would completely shut down and so would my brain. I think I just turned everything off. I really could not think. NO thoughts… So I understood what she was saying.

And THAT was the birth of Gerry…..

My daughter is visually oriented. She learns through music and what she can see. I recognized that she needed a go-between in her head between her conscious mind and her emotions that she could SEE. I told her to create a little person in her brain….Is it a boy or a girl? She told me. What does he look like? She told me. What is his name? She told me. What does he do? She told me. He doesn’t talk. He holds note cards. Sun can ask Gerry questions and he puts the answers on the note cards….in her head! She can say, what am I feeling? Why am I feeling that way? What should I do instead? Gerry is a non-threatening tool she can use to identify what is going on inside of her without having to come up with it on her own or feeling pressure when she needs to recognize what is happening. It was a painful process the first time we used Gerry. Sun thought I was weird and she did not want to participate. But when she would close her eyes and look at Gerry and think and relax….Gerry always came up with the answer. Sometimes that surprised her….that Gerry knew. Gerry ALWAYS knows. Because Gerry is really just Sun…..she just didn’t have enough confidence in herself to identify the problem. But she has learned that she can trust Gerry. Gerry loves her and wants her to be happy. But most importantly, Gerry is not afraid. And Gerry can just tell her without any drama or pressure….and Gerry answers when she is ready for the answer.

This week Sun called to say, Mom, I am doing it again. I am overwhelmed. I have recognized that I am not doing my work. I am avoiding my homework. Well, you did just make a major move, change all your people, your environment, your schedule, your food, how you spend your time……I can see how you might be overwhelmed. But you are calling me during week two!!! You are asking for help!!! That is HUGE for my little girl! HUGE!!! She doesn’t usually ask for help until December. What are you going to do about that Sun? No one is there to bail her out. No one is in Idaho with her. She has to do it! She can do it! She is ready to do it! She was sharing her process with me of how she was recognizing that she is doing it again. I won’t go into all of the details, but she said, “Mom, I saw Gerry. On his note card, it said, “STOP SELF-DESTRUCTING”! I wanted to start crying! We talked through her strategies….strategies for success….the behaviors we have put into place and practiced at home. She is doing them! She is doing them without me! Way to go Sun!!! I knew you could do it! Gerry knew you could do it!!! Keep going!! Every day, waking up, feeling the fear, and doing it anyway! One day at a time!!

Often when we are trying to help someone else, we have to try and put ourselves in their place and see things from their perspective. What would help them? What do they need? When we do not think or learn like they do, our efforts to help them can be completely frustrating because they cannot do it like we do. And we cannot always think about it the way they do. We need help. We need a go-between. Thankfully, for all of us, our Father in Heaven knows each one of us. He can help us to adjust our words or our behaviors so that communication flows more clearly and easily between two people who are completely different. But we have to ask for the help. I am always amazed at the help I receive in such matters, when I ask. With my sweet daughter? Sooooo grateful for Gerry! I don’t think I could have ever come up with that!

My Grandparents….

Dorothy and Melvin (Bill) Bryant

These are my grandparents! Aren’t they cute???! They are my father’s parents. I am their oldest grandchild. My cousin Shelly is about three weeks younger than I am (I think, maybe it is 3 months…?). Anyway, Shelly and I were doted on from the time of our birth. We had the same dresses. The same baby dolls. The same shoes. We were very, very loved and wanted. It was crazy.

My grandparents were killed in an automobile accident in 1983, when I was 13. They believe my grandfather had a heart attack that resulted in a head-on collision while he was driving my great-grandfather home from their Father’s Day activities. My great grandfather died on impact. My grandfather died at the scene. And my dear sweet grandmother was unresponsive in a coma for a month before her children made the decision to allow her to return home.

That Sunday I was preparing for girls’ camp the next day. I was so very excited! It was going to be my first one. I was living in Oklahoma the summer after I turned 12 so I didn’t go to camp that year. We had been home in Oregon for only two weeks when my grandparents had their accident. I remember being outside playing and my father running out the door, getting into his truck, and tearing off down the road. I don’t remember my parents telling me what happened. But I made the decision not to go to girls’ camp that year because if I did I would miss their funerals and I didn’t want to do that and I was hoping my grandmother would wake up. So I stayed home.

My father was only 32 when his parents passed away. He took it really hard. He really struggled and was pretty angry most of the time. I think that is really when he quit participating much in church. He was definitely mourning and struggling with grief, but I never saw or heard him cry. I have never even seen him weep. Actually, I have never seen my mother do it either. Somehow in my family, growing up, sadness was not an acceptable emotion.

I was recognizing that the other day. I was questioning why I do not feel that it is OK to be sad. (I will explain most of how and why I was contemplating that in another post.) But as a Family Scientist, I wondered, What was modeled at my house? Where did my philosophical underpinnings (deep seated beliefs) about sadness originate? As I was pondering about it, I recognized that I had never seen either of my parents cry…..never. I mean, I saw my mother shed a few testimony tears. But that deep, deep mourning, the ugly cry (as my friend Linzy would say)? I never saw either of my parents do that…….and believe me, there were plenty of reasons for sadness in my family—drug addiction, divorce, abuse, unemployment, debt, miscarriage at 6 months, not to mention the normal mortal life stuff. There were plenty of reasons to cry or to be sad. But I never saw either of them really shed tears of sadness and sorrow. Grief was not allowed at my house. That is unhealthy modeling.

I obviously did not have a lot of time to know my grandparents very well. But I wonder what was modeled for my father and my mother. On my dad’s side, his father was an alcoholic. He probably dealt with his sorrow with alcohol. My father was angry, just angry all the time, and distant. He probably masked his sorrow with anger. Anger is usually a secondary emotion. There are other emotions underneath it–emotions that are not acceptable (in a dysfunctional belief system) like sorrow, sadness, grief, hurt, and fear, among others.

I have come to recognize that I grew up in a very emotionally dysfunctional family. Mad or happy were the only acceptable emotions. Other emotions were not allowed. Now, I believe my parents would tell you otherwise. I do not think they did that intentionally. I think they probably believe that they have other emotions and would have allowed us to have other emotions. But no one ever talked about it. Emotions were not discussed or evaluated, or even really considered. They were dismissed and swept under the rug. There was no exploration.

I have emphasized the opposite direction in my family. We talk about emotions all the time. My children sometimes hate me for it as I make them sit and think about and talk about (that is what they hate the most) their feelings. We sometimes miss other events because I am making them talk about their feelings instead of sweeping them by the wayside to ‘deal with later’ because as we all know, later never comes. It is a lot of work and it takes a lot of time. But guess what? In most cases, we don’t have underlying emotional ‘sneaker waves’ that attack without warning. Unfortunately, even with all of their training, I am not sure my older boys have kept up with the emotional managing I have helped them to put into place. They are going to have to work those things out. And as I have been going through more of my own emotional baggage, I have had to put up some boundaries and ask them to manage some of their relationships without me. I have given them a great foundation, now they have to practice application of those principles. It is hard, hard work and it takes a lot of time.

But….that is part of why we are here on earth, to learn how to manage our emotions and still treat others properly, even when they don’t do that to us.

Anyway, just some food for thought…..what was modeled at your house? What are your beliefs about emotions and feelings? Do you live by those beliefs? What are you modeling for your children? Stuff to think about.

My Aunt and Uncle….

My Aunt Janelle and Uncle Ed

This is my Aunt Janelle and my Uncle Ed! They are the most amazing people!! I LOVE them dearly! They are a great example of what marriage should be and how it should look! It is hard for me to write about them because my feelings for them run so deeply!

Today my aunt is having surgery. Pray that all will go well for her. I called her on Saturday just to chit chat and catch up. I love talking with her!
 I am more like her than like my own mother. I LOVE her attitude and her spunk! When I visit with her, I feel like I know where I came from. I am a Biggs (but she would tell you that I am a Knapp….her mother’s side)!! I have the same attitude, the tenacity, the work ethic, and the same tastes for food and sugar and the ability to cook and unwillingness to eat stuff that tastes like garbage.

When I was a girl and we would go to Janelle’s house, the food always tasted better. It was later that I learned her secrets. She likes fat :-)….mayonnaise instead of miracle whip, butter instead of margarine, sugar instead of artificial sweetener. My mother used all of the other things. Janelle’s house was the place to be! It was where we gathered for the good stuff! Halloween? Janelle’s house. Thanksgiving? Janelle’s house. Christmas? Janelle’s house. Hanging out for the summer? Janelle’s house. Janelle is the glue that keeps us all together.

I remember the entire family would gather at her house….me and my parents and siblings, all four of Janelle’s kids, their spouses and their children, Ed’s parents, Nellie’s parents (as they got older). We would each bring our specialty dishes for the big feast. Janelle had made homemade candies a lot of years and we always topped everything off with homemade ice cream and freezer preserved strawberries. My mouth is watering just thinking about the food. Then we would all sit around and talk and visit with each other. The women would work or clean in the kitchen….which was HUGE! And the men would all hang out and visit and watch TV in the family room. Most of the time the kids were out running in the pastures, chasing the cows, or down by the river, or jumping on the trampoline, or swimming in the pool. We were there for hours and hours….from as soon as we could get there in the morning until it was way past bedtime. Those were great days!!

The hallway in her house was so long and dark that as children we would see who could stay in the hallway the longest and try to make it to the end without scaring ourselves and each other silly. All the doors were pocket doors, so if someone was in one of the rooms and came out while we were playing in there we would all freak out and run back to the light! So much fun!

Sometime during high school, they moved back into town. After my freshman year of college, I came home to a divorced family and things not working very well at my father’s home. After a month at his house, I called and asked my aunt and uncle if I could stay with them. They readily agreed. That is where I was living when Drew and I got engaged. We were sitting on their front lawn on a warm August evening. It was late. And my aunt and uncle’s bedroom window faced the street and was open because they didn’t have air conditioning. As Drew and I were talking, I heard my aunt say, “Ed, get away from that window and leave those kids alone!” That is still one of my favorite memories! Not too long after that, they moved again, back out to the country. When I go home for a visit, I usually stay at their house. It is just home to me. Wherever they are, that is home! They are the constant!

Two of my favorite people!

This last year their health has not been very good. My uncle is 87 this year and my aunt turns 82! My parents are about 10 years younger. But it is my aunt and uncle who I look to for guidance and example. I know they will not be around too much longer and then I will dearly, dearly miss them!! How grateful I am for their love, their support, their example of righteous living and leadership and how life should be lived. I really don’t know what my life would have been like without them! They are such a HUGE part of my heart and my life and who I am.

I am my uncle’s baby. When I was born, my father was serving over seas in the military, so my mother and I lived at Ed and Janelle’s house. Their youngest child is about nine years older than I am. So I WAS the BABY! I don’t know how long we lived there, but it was for a while. My uncle has always called me ‘Sweat Pea’. They both love me dearly, and I know that! Nellie told me on Saturday when I called that she has always loved me like I was her own….and she has. I have felt that. As I was getting off of the phone with her, I told her that I loved her and she said to me, “Ya, but I love you more!” So today I pay tribute to her and to my uncle and express my total and complete gratitude that my Father in Heaven sent me to a home where I would have access to their example!

Made the Move….

Here I am at WordPress….it has been a journey.¬† It has been a while since I have posted.¬† There are good reasons for that.¬† Hopefully in the next few days I will enlighten you, if you’d like to know!¬† In the mean time, take a look around.¬† I updated the header, family photos and the general look and feel here in my space on the web.


Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. ‚ÄĒ Izaak Walton

The other night…..

Spike Spike came into my room at 3 a.m. sobbing hysterically.¬† I had him climb into bed with me while I held him….since I was mostly asleep and needed to be up in two hours.¬†

Buddy, what’s the matter??¬†

Why didn’t you put my name in the concrete??

(We have a cement slab in the backyard that needed to be replaced when we moved in, April of 2009.  To commemorate our new home, after the slab was poured, we all wrote our name into the concrete.  Spike was born in July of 2011.)

In the back yard? That concrete?

Yes, (sniffle, sniffle, ….sob)…..

When we poured that concrete and wrote all of our names into it, you weren’t here yet and we didn’t know you were coming.

But you should have put my name in the concrete too!!

But you were still living with Heavenly Father and we didn’t know you were going to be coming to this house.¬† We thought everyone was already here.¬†

You should have known I was coming!!

Well, Heavenly Father knew you were coming and He knew when.¬† You arrived at exactly the right time to be able to do all the very important things Heavenly Father wants you to do.¬† If you had come earlier, you might miss some of those things.¬† He sent you at exactly the right time.¬† Because He doesn’t make mistakes.¬† You came exactly when He knew you should.¬† And we are so excited that you came to our house!!¬† We love you!¬† Having you come, when we didn’t know you were coming was like getting an extra Christmas present!!!¬† Who wouldn’t want an extra Christmas present????!!

That seemed to quash the drama.  I still had to let him sleep on the couch in my bedroom. Such a sensitive little soul that boy!

Getting into the Y.

I decided I wanted a few of my stories down for posterity.¬† I don’t know how many I will write, but this is the first one.

LOVE the purple eye shadow! ūüėú

My senior year in high school, my parent sat us down in April to let us know that they would be getting a divorce.¬† I was just devastated.¬† I knew my parents had problems and fought sometimes, but I had no idea things were rough enough to consider divorce.¬† My dad sat us all down and said, “Your mother loves someone else and she is leaving us.”¬† The truth was that my dad was kicking her out.¬†

Anyway, you already know I am the oldest of six.¬† I knew with my mother leaving, and the fact that I would soon graduate from high school, my dad was going to want me to step into her role and keep things functioning.¬† I did not feel up to the task and I had plans for my life.¬† I was just getting to the point where I could fly and I was terrified that I was going to get stuck cleaning up a mess that wasn’t my responsibility.¬† Inside, I recognized that I was not responsible for the position my parents had put themselves and their children in.¬† But at almost 18, I also had no idea what to do or where to go.

So I did what you do when you don’t know what to do—I asked a trusted adult.¬† My band director, Mr. Elkington, was a member of our Stake High Council.¬† He knew my parents.¬† He knew me.¬† I had worked with him in band for the last three years. We were both trumpet players and I knew he cared about me.¬†

The day after my parents told us, I didn’t feel up to attending school.¬† I was too sad.¬† I knew I would just cry and cry and cry the entire day.¬† I was the happy girl at school.¬† I helped other people change their attitudes and see the brighter side of life.¬† But I was not in a place to do that on that day.¬† So I stayed home and sobbed all day.¬† The only problem was it was the day before a band concert.¬† I was the first chair trumpet player in the top band.¬† Missing rehearsal the day before a concert was death.¬† Never a good choice.

After school was over and I was sure I wouldn’t run into any of my friends, I went to find Mr. Elkington to tell him why I wasn’t in rehearsal.¬† I found him in the teacher’s lounge and asked if I could speak with him.¬† We went out to his truck and I sat in the front seat and poured my heart out to him.¬† I expressed all of my sorrow and my fears and told him that I didn’t have any idea what I should do or how I should handle the situation.¬† He listened to me cry for two hours.

Then he asked me some questions.

Do you want to go to college?       Yes.
Do you know where you are going?   No clue.
What kind of grades do you have?      Great ones.
Have you taken the SAT or ACT?      No, what is that?
Do you have any money?      Some, but not a lot.
You need to go to BYU.  Great, where is that?
Utah.  Utah??!

OK, Carin, I need you to do a few things.  Are you willing to do them?  I will do whatever you tell me to.

First, sign up to take the ACT.  Then go to counseling center and ask about a FAFSA application and start filling that out.  Call BYU and have them send you an application for enrollment.  You will need three people to write you letters of recommendation.  I will write one and then you need to find two other people to do that for you.  Can you do that?

And then I did it.

By May I had received my acceptance letter to the University.  Mr. Elkington had connections at the University.  He called one of them and told him that I was coming and that I had to have a job in order to be there.  Would he please save a spot for me so that I could pay for my expenses.  He would.

Once I was accepted, I applied for housing.¬† I had always wanted to be in a sorority.¬† The dorms were the next best thing.¬† I had a friend from church who was also attending BYU.¬† She wanted me to room with her in an apartment building because it would be so much cheaper.¬† I appreciated her logic, but I just wanted to live in the dorms so badly that I decided I would do it for a year and then reevaluate.¬† I wanted to live in Heritage Halls, but they were full.¬† There was room in Helaman Halls, however.¬† At this point, I didn’t care too much.¬† I just needed somewhere to live.¬† I got in!!¬† And I had enough money saved to pay for my initial deposits and rent.¬†

I was super excited!!!  I had housing!  I was admitted to the University!!  Now I just had to get there.

Once again, a miracle occurred.¬† An older friend, who had graduated from the University, was returning to get her teaching credential.¬† She would drive me out there with her.¬† I didn’t even pay her for gas.

My father was not happy.¬† He begged me to stay home and attend U of O.¬† He would pay for my expenses.¬† I could live at home.¬† He would pay for tuition…….just stay home!

I knew from past experiences that my father would start out with the intentions he promised.¬† Then, over time, sometimes not even very much time, he would find other reasons why he just couldn’t keep his promises.¬† Then I would be stuck, with no options.¬†

I decided that the chance for freedom outweighed the promises that would not be kept.  Once I had decided I was going, I just kept plowing forward. 

I will forever be eternally grateful for Mr. Elkington and his counsel.¬† ¬†Literally, he affected my eternity.¬† I met Drew at BYU in the dorms.¬† We now have ten beautiful children.¬† I recognize that getting into the Y in May of my senior year for the fall was a miracle!!¬† With my children who have attended the Y, applications are due December 1st the year prior to enrollment.¬† Decisions are made by March!¬† I didn’t even apply until April!!¬† I LOVE my education and I use it every day!!¬† I wanted to document this story in my life to remind myself and others, that God can do His own work!¬† He doesn’t need us.¬† But He allows us to participate in the process for our growth and development.¬† If I had known the process for enrollment and how competitive it was at BYU, I may never have applied.¬† But I was completely naive.¬† I just did what I was told, and because I acted in faith, the Lord did the rest.

28 year reflections…..

Well, this ‘get back into blogging thing’ is harder than I thought.¬† My emotions for the past year have been all over the place.¬† I am learning to manage sadness better….past sadness and present sadness.¬† Lucky for me the Lord is giving me plenty of opportunity to practice it.¬† I am just tired of it.¬† Crying all the time is really stinky, in that your nose is stuffy and you have puffy eyes and your make up runs everywhere.¬† And then when people say, ‘what’s wrong?’ and you just say, ‘I’m sad’ but can’t really tell them why because there are so many reasons.¬† Blah!¬† Too much sadness.¬† Guess I have been stuffing it for only 30 years…so I can’t really expect it to be over in a day or two.

Today, I am actually feeling really happy….grateful for my life and the blessings I have—frustrated about plenty of things, but feeling like I can actually accomplish some goals and make some headway.

I have to remind myself, as I feel frustrated with where I am and how slow this whole healing thing is going. that I am doing so much better than I have in the past, even if the scale doesn’t necessarily reflect the progress I have made.

It is time to recommit myself to taking care of me–not just emotionally, but physically as well—eating right, sleeping more and exercising more regularly.¬† I used to exercise all the time!¬† I loved it!!¬† Then I had so many babies so close together that consistent, hard exercise seemed unrealistic.¬† Now I have the time and the desire, but my body is having trouble cooperating. Do you have any idea how much harder exercise is with an extra 60 pounds?¬† Blah!!!¬† Now I have to be diligent in my food intake as well.¬† More self discipline.¬† Ugh!

I was going to give you an update on the fam, but I think it is wrong of me to post the kids lives on my blog, since six of them are adults……I should probably let them share or not share their own news.¬† But just to satisfy your curiosities, no marriages yet.¬† At this point, I am not sure how much they are even dating…….¬† Nosy mothers don’t get very far.

I am rereading that book series.  That might be why more of the sadness is surfacing.  I think I cleaned out some or even a lot of it, but obviously not all of it.  So more work on that front.

Guess what?  Yesterday was my 28th anniversary!!!  Twenty-eight years of marriage!!  Can you believe it?

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

I should probably actually get to the reflections part.  Here goes.

  • I love my husband more now than I did when we first married.¬† He is an amazing man, who is kind, sweet, adorable, and he loves me and worships the ground I walk on.¬† He is gentle and sensitive and he cares.¬† For all of our differences, and disagreements over the years, we know each other better and appreciate each other more.¬† What would I do without him?
  • Parenting is just plain hard.¬† I thought after so many children that I would know what I was doing.¬† True, I am a better parent than when I started, but each and every child makes me learn something new in parenting that individual.¬† They are all exhausting.
  • I am going to venture to say that the older they get, parenting seems more difficult.¬† Not kidding.¬† When they were little, I was in charge of everything–from what they ate to when they slept, who they played with, and what they wore.¬† I almost always knew where they were and what they were doing.¬† Now, I have no clue.¬† Though I love my adults and love being their mother, I rarely know where they are or what they are doing, and sometimes when they tell me, I really wish that they hadn’t.¬† And our conversations take way more time!!
  • Money really doesn’t matter so much.¬† I really thought while we were so young and struggling that when we made what we are making now, life would be so easy to manage because we would have plenty of resources.¬† Not so.¬† We spend a ton more and not on anything fun like huge family vacations or new automobiles or even a house.¬† We pay for travel for children, tuition that was short, housing that couldn’t be met, food at the end of a college month.¬† And we haven’t even started paying for wedding things yet.¬† Yikes!!
  • Though I hate moving, it does make you clean out your stuff!¬† We have not moved for almost 10 years.¬† The garage will testify to that fact.¬† I hate cleaning the garage.
  • As life slows down, I have more time for reflection.¬† People don’t ask me to do as much as they once did.¬† Most of my friends with little people don’t ask me to watch their kids.¬† I still have tons to do.¬† I just tend to do it by myself.¬† All of my friends who are my age, have gone back to work and the young moms all hang out with each other.¬† I spend a lot of time preparing for seminary, and working around the house and just cleaning out my emotional closets.¬† I am ready to start managing some yard work and tackling housing projects.
  • The Lord has been so very good to us.¬† We have definitely had our trials and our heartaches and we will undoubtedly have more.¬† I mean, think about it.¬† Life is hard for all of us.¬† There are a lot of learning experiences, for everyone.¬† As my children grow, they will each have their own.¬† I know it will be a different learning experience to watch them struggle through their issues while I just do what I can to help them.¬† We have had some things like that, but nothing like watching your children manage the issues of their children.¬† I would bet that is a whole different ball of wax.
  • The gospel is still true.¬† I hope I will continue to be true to the gospel.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
Well, there it is.  Enough blogging today.

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:

“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. …
‚Äú‚Ķ¬†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‚ÄĚ (Gerald¬†N. Lund,¬†‚ÄúOpening Our Hearts,‚Ä̬†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 agency….to 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!! ūüėé We’ll talk more later!

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. ūüėÜ

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.