Monday, January 26, 2015

Mission Fulfilled!

So I got to go on SPLITS with the Sister Missionaries last night.  In the geekiest way possible, that has always been like a total dream of mine.  Just by way of confession:

I am a Mormon!
I didn't get married until I was 24!
And NO, I didn't go on a mission.

I tried....I tried to tell my family I was going--mostly for the reaction, (Let's be honest!  There is no lacking in the REACTION DEPARTMENT of the Foster Family!)  The Reaction came, but despite my best efforts to "prove them wrong,"  It simply was not for me.  I did not go.  Disappointed?  Nah! My life still feels complete! And Jared still married me even though he swore he would marry a return missionary (I won that battle :))  However, I have to admit that there is a bit of jealousy whenever I see these cute pictures of these cute 19 year old girls in their cute dresses saying good bye to their cute families and going out to CHANGE THE WORLD!

Back to the Splits!  I am not sure how much I was supposed to say, not being a full-time missionary and all, but I couldn't just sit there!  SHOCKING, I know!  Sometimes my mouth opens, words come out, and I am barely aware that there is supposed be a filter between the thoughts in my brain and the words that come out of my mouth. However, when you talk about the Plan of Salvation, and the Atonement, and the TEMPLE!  Seriously, I could have talked for hours!  I wanted to stop the missionary after every sentence she said and TESTIFY!  and maybe I did!  Don't judge.

I want my kids to go on missions, I really do!  AND I want them to go because it is a natural reaction of the things they KNOW and LOVE!  Do I want Ally to go?  YES!  Have the Foster's already given their reaction?  YES!  Will I be devastated if she doesn't?  NO!  I will only be devastated if she feels like she should and does not.  I set her free to make the best choice for her :0

As I was rewinding the night in my mind, I was also reading and came across this passage, that maybe explains my fascination, my geeky fascination:

IF there had been no Atonement, the rising of every sun would be a reminder that for us it would one day rise no more, that for each of us death would claim its victory, and the grave would have its sting.  Every death would be a tragedy, and every birth but a tragedy in embryo.  The culmination of love between husbands and wives, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters would perish in the grave, to rise no more.  Without the Atonement, futility would replace purpose, hopelessness would be exchanged for hope, and misery would be traded for happiness.  
"A cathedral without windows, a face without eyes, a field without flowers, an alphabet without vowels, a continent without rivers, a night without stars, and a sky without sun--these would not be so sad as a......soul without CHRIST!" 
(The Infinite Atonement)

I've seen one too many school shootings.  One too many crumbling families, one too many wasted days, one too many suicides.  One too many directionless thoughts and fruitless media advice.  One too many terrorist attacks and one too many children forgotten.  We are surrounded by the hollow promises of someone who would have us chained, imprisoned, miserable.  HOPE, is our only prayer.....and that only comes through CHRIST! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

How to Have JOY?

As I was getting ready for the Sabbath this morning a rush of GRATITUDE began to take over my thoughts and eventually spill over into this blog post!  Lucky you :)  This post is mine.....strictly introspective and unique.
It actually all started when I wondered to myself, (quite oddly), "why have I been so happy?"  and then "what is making me happy?"  The questions evolved and eventually I was left with a list of things that bring me JOY.  I decided that happy was the COMPLETE WRONG WORD.  It is more than happy, more than fun, JOY seems to describe the is the right word.  The list is short.  It includes the things that are presently making room in my heart!  Remember, introspective and unique.  Heavenly Father made me different, of that I am aware :)

1.  This week I got to go to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Concert....Muppet's and all...regardless if you are Mormon or not, the sheer cultural, beauty and magic of this event is HAPPY.  And it was, sitting there with my entire family and my sister Patti, I thought to myself.  Life is AWESOME!   However, as the concert was drawing to a close and the Choir began to sing of the Savior.  I cannot describe to you the feelings I had.  They can only be felt.  Music brings me JOY.  The Shepard, the angels, all dug their way firmly into my heart I began to feel like I knew them, like I knew me better, just from listening to this music.  I thought to myself, Mack Wilberg has the most AWESOME LIFE!  If he gets to FEEL like this as he creates, produces, and delivers his testimony through music!  Jealous I am :)

2.  Food brings me Joy!    Lest you think badly of me, let me rephrase that.   Making food for other people brings me joy.  Yesterday JoDee and LaWrell and Brigham were here.   As I fed them Tortellini and Christmas cookies for lunch, LaWrell said, "That was perfect!"  I was delighted :)  All I have ever wanted to do was be DONNA and create an environment where people wanted to come, feel welcome, and stay for a spell.

3.  Snow brings me Joy!  Actually, I am sitting in my kitchen watching the snow fall at a 30 degree angle (that is important) and thinking of what my sister always says.  "When you see snow, you know Heavenly Father Loves YOU!"  To be perfectly honest, I am not at all convinced it is the snow.  Snow to me is synonymous with my dad.  The blizzard, the snowblowing, the sleds tied on back of the snow machine.  The big grey snowsuit all the way down to the way we would sit on the couch and watch the snow fall in the late night under the street light.  That is where you learn about the ANGLE at which snow is falling.

4.  Yesterday I got to go to our first ward party of the Spring Lake 4th Ward.  It was delightful.  Ward Parties bring me joy!  I am not sure that I can fully put my finger on why, only that, it is in these settings that you realize you are literally surrounded by A LOT of really good people, that you really like.  At one point during the party, I left to find a child and came back to the table to find Jared and brother Day both on their phones....annoyed...then as I got closer, I found that they were  both scanning their family trees to see where they were related.  COOL!  Good people!

5.  Teaching brings me Joy!  Testifying of the Savior brings me joy!  There is nothing quite like that feeling.

6.  Being at home!  With my kids!  With music playing, food on the table, the air hockey table going, the dominoes on the floor, the couch cluttered with people.  FAMILY IS MY JOY!

I remember one particular Christmas EVE, a very long time ago.  Laying in my bed, completely distraught.  At the beginning of December I had been given a scripture list from my Young Women's leader.  "If you will read one of these scriptures each day of December, you will feel the Christmas Spirit."  I had not read the scriptures,  the Christmas Season had been HAPPY, but I knew that it was not JOY yet.  I lay there determined to read every scripture and fill up my JOY meter right then and there.
The Spirit taught me something very important that night.  IT COULD NOT BE DONE!  I could start.  But I could not accomplish it in a night.  My studies would have to be ongoing, not one and done!  And so that night I started but I did not finish.  This past year I have continued that quest by studying the Book of Mormon for the sole purpose of learning more about the ATONEMENT.  And now I know about JOY.  Everything good and prosperous, lovely and joyful, calming and peaceful, creative and enriching....EVERYTHING has come because of the Savior.  JOY is here!  Joy will always be here because HE has overcome the World!  The Savior Brings me JOY!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Can You Say BOOK CLUB!?!?!

So!  I officially belong to a book club.  A LEGIT book club.  Like so legit that they have been reading books together for over 10 years and have a monthly record of the books they have read, which they like to stroll through every once in a while.  Made up of some of the funniest, most honest people ever!  Not to mention the after treats that I partake of, but do not always furnish :)  It may be the BEST THING TO DATE that I love about Payson, UT!

I started the year of 2014 with a goal.  I was going to read 24 books this year!   Honestly, this was a really exciting goal for me.  I LOVE to read.  But that was not always the case.  When I was a teenager, I received a blessing that instructed me to read "good books" that would enrich my life. (like not just the scriptures etc which I love the most, but....books!)  My love for literature was not instant, but Harry Potter may have been accelerant....and I may or may not think that he is real sometimes :)   And I may or may not sometimes still cry when I remember that Dumbledore is dead.

ONWARD!  This year, I was going to Make TIME!  If something was important enough to be instructed about, I should probably get on with it.  I have read 20 books to date, and loved most of them....(which I will list soon hereafter).  What I have loved the most about this entire goal is what I have noticed about me.  And it all came together for me during a Young Women's lesson this week taught by my friend Stephanie!

We were studying the Word of Wisdom and the blessings to body and mind that come with it.  I read this particular verse.  Doctrine and Covenants 88:124

Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.

I hope you don't find this a stretch at all, because, it all made perfect sense to me.  I have always wondered why that phrase in red was included in a verse that seemed to be about good health.  Then I realized that this last year has been a little different for me.  Because I have been reading, I have had very little desire to talk bad about people or things or insignificant things in general.  It is like my thoughts have been elevated.  Gossiping doesn't seem to be much fun!  I would rather talk about China!  AND BELIEVE ME, THERE IS A LOT TO TALK ABOUT CHINA!!!!!!

Work through makes sense eventually :)  So now for the books!  I will list them in the order I read them and rate them or caution them for your reading pleasure!

1.  Elizabeth Smart, My Story
I had to read this in one day....getting to a happy place before I went to bed.  It is hard to read, but she is AMAZING and her story needs to be told.  
2.  The Great and Terrible- The Brothers
This book made me think more than any other book this year.  I eventually read this entire series.  Although the character development is sometimes a bit shallow, the story line is intriguing and worse yet, possible!
3.  Assisted by John Stockton
I have elevated Stockton from a good guy to a HERO!  Great book!
4.  Great and Terrible -When Angels FAll
5.  Gifted Hands!
There is a quote by C.S. Lewis that says "since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage."  Ben Carson is one of these!
6.  The Great and Terrible #3
7.  The Great and Terrible #4
8.  The Giver
An all time I have not seen the movie!
9.  The Great and Terrible #5
10.  The Great and Terrible #6
11.  God's Double Agent!  Bob FU
By far the most influential book I read all year.  I have been changed!  READ IT!
12.  Strength Training for Women
13.  My Name Used to be Muhammed
The story was fascinating.  Some of it was hard for me to hear.
14.  I Knew their Hearts
15.  The Secret Journal of Brett Colton
An all time favorite!  One of the few I could read over and over.
16.  Heaven is for Real
17.  A Distant Prayer
Another to add to my book of Heroes!
18.  When the Bough Breaks!
I love the writing more than anything else in this book :)
19.  The False Prince
Slow to start, but left me wanting more....Christmas maybe ...Jared?
20.  Bishop's Agent

I plan on meeting my goal by finishing when I am already reading, The book of Luke, My December Book Club Book, and "A History of the Lost Rhoades Mines."  Just so I can talk to my Brother -in-laws about their crazy stories :)  


Friday, October 3, 2014

Happy Conference Weekend!

So!  We have a lot of family visiting this weekend!  Yeah  for Conference Weekend!   A couple of days ago, I started wandering around my pantry and making a list of meals, treats, and favorites for the weekend festivities.  Quite normally, I found myself saying, "Oh, I really should make some of my taco soup, DAD loves that.  And oh!  Pick up some nuts from Costco..he loves those too!"

It only lasted for a few seconds, but the thought of my dad coming to my new house, eating with us, and TALKING! JUST TALKING!  Almost left me in tears....But not for long!  Thank Goodness for the Gospel of Happy Endings!

I have long loved General Conference!   It always happens at the very best times of the year!  And you had better believe that we are LOVING FALL this year!  We have  spent 10 long years without seasons....leaving us feeling like we live in the Garden of Eden!

But 7 years ago, Conference started to totally change my life!  Bishop Leavitt called me into his office to issue a calling!  There was not a name for it, because he made it up :)  But, one week later, I would be sustained as the "Ward Teacher".  A calling I kept for 7 years!  I loved it!

My job.  I was to teach every 5th Sunday Lesson, on a topic the Bishop assigned.  Topic:  whatever was weighing heavily on the Bishop's mind.  The Text:  The Latest General Conference!

I tried to remember the topics...try being operative!  Here are the few I DO remember!

*Using Technology
*Using the Atonement EVERY DAY
*Studying Scriptures
*Being Willing and finding the time to SERVE

I would be assigned my topic and then I would dive head first into the Conference Ensign Issue.   Marking and Marking and Marking everything that pertained to the topic, and the questions I had about it.  THE PROCESS NEVER FAILED ME...NOT EVEN ONCE.  I never had to go to another source.  The Prophets of Latter Days answered REAL LIFE QUESTIONS!

I love Bishop Leavitt for a lot of reasons (mainly his family :) But this opportunity he afforded me changes me still to this day!  Thank You Bishop!  Because of you!  I KNOW!  No more a stranger, tossed to and fro!  I know there are PROPHETS OF GOD!  They speak to  us,  if we cling to their words, WE GAIN THE ETERNITIES!

Happy Conference Weekend!  May your heart be soft!  May your ears be searching for truth! And may your answers be MANY!

Friday, September 19, 2014

It Is Time to CHOP CHOP!

I went to the Provo Temple last night.  It is the temple we are assigned to until the Payson one is completed!  At which time, you, all of my friends and family, are invited to the dedication  and party at our house afterwards :0  (See you then)!

However, back to the Provo Temple.  Throughout these next couple of paragraphs, it is imperative to remember that IT is the crux of this entire post!  However, we must start in a far away place.....high school.

My parents and my adopted parents (the Christensen's)  were excellent at teaching us how to work.  Their  escapades were many and opportunities abounded.  Today we we will focus on ROLLING TREES, my part-time, high school employment.  DON'T JUDGE.

If this conversation is to continue, I must briefly educate you!  In Idaho, we still believe in logging  (like chopping down trees for man's use :) So, after the trees are chopped down, the Forest Service would go in and plant tree seedlings.  These tree seedlings are very delicate.  They are stored in an ice cache until the day before they are ready to  be planted. At which time, Papa Joe, would dig into the ice cache with the back hoe, hit a tunnel, and Jay, Renn, Paul, Chris....would pull out massive boxes of trees.  The trees were then taken to a small warehouse consisting of barrels of burlap, tables, and a conveyor belt down the middle.

Within this warehouse, were two sets of people.  The Counters!  and The Wrappers!  If you were really talented, you got to be a wrapper:)  Just kidding Ernie! (kind of)!  The counters stood at the front of the warehouse, counting bundles of 25 trees, aligning their root collars, and sending them down the conveyor belt.  The rollers stood at the back of the warehouse.  Their job was to grab a wet, nasty burlap out of the the barrel, grab two bundles of trees off the conveyor belt, align their root collars, cut the roots to a certain length, and proceed to roll up the bundle, sealing it with a big rusty nail.

Paul, at the end of the conveyor belt, would then gather all bundles, and set them in the cold storage room, where the next day they would be retrieved to be planted.

The job would start right after school and end....well, when you got done.  Some nights, we rolled 50,000 trees.  Some nights we rolled 90,000! I bold that, just to make sure you know that was a feat of nature in itself. It was those nights that hold the memory that was brought to my mind as I sat in the temple last night.

Around 70,00 trees, life looked BLEAK!  We were TIRED, HUNGRY, and no amount of root beer barrels were going to ease our anxious desire to GO TO BED!

As soon as we felt like faking sick, a whispering started in the ranks!  Beginning at the head of counter's table (Bob)!  you would hear the faint sounds of "it's time to chop chop!"  Before you know it, the rollers were bombarded with bundles of trees!   Just when we were the very most tired, we were not going to be outdone by the counters, so it was also time for us to CHOP CHOP!  20,000 trees had never been counted so fast. All to the humming whisper of a conveyor belt and CHOP CHOP!  To this day, every tree roller knows  what it means to CHOP CHOP!

I  LOVED  this job!   I was surrounded by family!  Blood and Not Blood.  Believe me when I tell you that you cannot spend months with someone dressed in  grossly enormous bright yellow rain gear, smelling like a combination of dirt and formaldehyde and not become deeply emotionally connected :)

Now...Remember the crux of the story...The Provo temple.   I walked up to the doors of the temple last night, feeling like I had just physically rolled 70,000 trees.  Emotionally, I was weighed down to the tune of ISIS,corruption,and hopelessness on all accounts of what we call Public news!  I was ready to relax.  That is not what happened.

This temple is a MACHINE!   PEOPLE EVERY WHERE!  Everyone quietly hurrying off to an assignment. Lest you get visions of irreverence, stop your self there.  If there is such a picture as a SACRED URGENCY,  picture that!

At one point, I had to wait.  And as I waited, I listened!  There was a HUM of words.  The hum seemed to grow and the feeling I got seemed to intensify.  I felt  RIGHT THEN  and THERE as if I finally knew what it meant that the "WORK IS HASTENING!"  It is through the Power Of God on earth!  Through Covenants!  Through righteous messengers (on both sides of the veil)  that the bleakness will lose its clenching grip. 

Strangely, I whispered to myself, (which I do quite often) "I get it now."  I also felt Papa Joe there, and then the memory of ROLLING TREES.  The feelings and thoughts all seemed  to converge with a message from my dad.  I get it dad! Like never before, it is time to CHOP  CHOP!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Marriage is good :)

Jared and I have been married 13 years TODAY!  So in honor of contemplation I have made a list of why the last 13 years of my life has been AWESOME!  Fast, a blur, and tiring, but AWESOME.  INDULGE ME :).

1.  It is the BEST WAY for my kids!  There is something so GOOD AND SAFE about living within 4 walls that are are governed by two people that are totally and completely devoted to and love each other...Ask me, I know!  I was raised in one of those houses :)

2.  It is the best when there is someone to check up on you!  "Did you make it ok?"  "How is your day going?"  "I love you have a great day!"  Can you imagine a better text :). Not me!

3.   He does the dirty work!  Something in his genetic make up makes it perfectly ok for him to stick his hand down the dark slimy confines of the garbage disposal, fix a toilet, or remove the snake that enjoys our front yard!  My genetic make-up...does not!

4.  Can you say Reinforcement?  "What did your dad say?"  "What did your mom say."  Nothing gets by us :)

5.   He steadies me!  At the end of the day, when he is home and I am home....I know it is all going to be ok!

6.  I love to talk!  He loves to listen!  It works for us :)

7.  He takes over!  When I have done everything, I can do, and I am left exhausted!  Which usually occurs around 9 pm on Friday night :). I can can slip off to bed and know that the kids will be taken care of  and life is good!

8.  He makes the money and I get to spend it!  Seriously :). I can't think of a better arrangement!  In all  honesty, he is a wonderful provider and leaves me so greatful each day that I can stay home and be with my kids!

9.  Life is so FUN!  TOGETHER!
10.   And lastly!  He is my constant reminder of my greatest goal! My companion on the pathway to Eternal Life!  With HIM!  With Heavenly Father, my kids, and the myriads of family that make me complete!

Today is 13 years, but it is only 13 years and COUNTING!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Just a Piece of a Puzzle:)

I inherited this piano from my mother's basement, who inherited it from her mother, who purchased it for her oldest daughter, Barbara, who was somewhat of a musical prodigy.  Barbara was my oldest Aunt, I never met her, she died shortly after giving birth to her first son Eddie.  And yet here I sit in Payson, UT with her piano.
I learned to play on it (we use the word "play" lightly).  It is so heavy, it should have been buried in my mother's basement and died there with the Yellowstone Super Volcano, if it were not for my brave husband, brother-in-laws, and Christensen boys.  The trek from out of the basement to Nevada to Utah, has nearly killed a  lot of people, and demolished the side of my dad's Pick-up.  But it will follow us wherever we may go.
It sat in our Overton home for many years in slight disrepair.  Several of the keys  needed a new ivory shell and the tuning, hammers, strings.....need  I go on.   I kept saying I was going to get to it, but the time and the money never allowed the getting part to come.  However, Donna came to visit one time, and offered to tend the baby while I ran into a Dr's appointment.  I came home to find all the keys stripped and ready to be redone (not that I was ready, but it was now ready).  5 months and several  payments later, I sat down in my living room to gaze at the masterpiece, at which point, a soft, sweet thought floated through my mind, "I love your mother, She is a very special lady."  And for some reason, I knew those words came from my Aunt Barbara.
Ever since that thought, this piano has meant so much more to me....I am not sure I can explain that part of it.
Yesterday I had another, shall we call it a "Barbara Experience?"  Moving to Utah has put us closer to so many relatives.  The closest of which is my Uncle Keith in Spanish Fork.  He is an artist, in the truest sense. His home is filled with masterpieces and he is the master.  And if you can imagine, his kindness is even superior to his artistry.  Upon visiting my home he said softly, "Now when you get settled, come over and pick out a painting you would like."  I waited, less than patiently, and yesterday, I made the visit.
This painting is my treasure.
A couple of weeks ago, I was a bystander to a depressing conversation.  The jest of which was, "Do you ever wonder what this life is all about?  I mean, you work hard, you die, and then what?  No one remembers, no one cares, is it really worth everything we think it is?"  I sat formulating a response, but never dared intrude to give it.  So, to you cyber world, I will respond.
Thus, I receive so much satisfaction from serving in my church, building the Kingdom of God, building something that will last forever! Can you imagine!
And talk about SATISFACTION!  How about a family, that lasts, and lasts.....I am just a small piece of it, but as big as the eternities, because  the chain was meant to last forever.  I grip tightly to the piano, to the painting, to my kids, my nieces and nephews....because every piece of this familial puzzle that lands in my hands, is what makes life meaningful!