Thursday, August 27, 2015

God Bless This Mess

Yesterday, God taught me a sweet lesson.

A couple weeks ago, my mom said, "one day you'll miss those fingerprints on the door."
"No, mom," I assured her, "I may miss the good things, like the cuteness and the innocence of children growing up, but I won't miss the bad stuff, like the messes they leave or the gross things they do."
She ran her fingers along the little fingerprints on my door and said, "Oh," and left it at that, knowing she was right, but that I was still too young to understand.

Then yesterday happened.  We started our first day of homeschool.  Steve woke us all for family prayer and headed out the door to work.  I wanted to have school done by lunchtime so my kiddos could play the rest of the afternoon away with their friends, so we got dressed and went to work right away.  I had decided to combine P.E. with their grammar lesson, so I told everyone to get on their shoes, I grabbed their language lessons book, and we headed out the door to go on our walk.  As I approached the driveway, I was greeted by Amara who was "all ready to go!"  My initial reaction to what I saw was, "Oh no.  Must we?"

"Amara, you're going to be too tired to haul that around, and then I'm going to have to pull it along, why don't we just leave it."
"No, I can do it.  It's really easy." she pleaded.
"Just leave it." I said.
So she started to wheel it into the garage, when something inside told me, to just let her bring it.
"Fine." I said, wanting to get on with things, "But you'll have to pull it."
I relented and let her bring along her over-sized stuffed dog, placed atop her old carseat, placed atop our garden wagon.  Her dog had a blanket tucked around it, just in case it got cold.

I know my mom would be saying, "Oh!  So cute!"  In my mind I was saying, "You shouldn't let her bring that!  You know she'll be distracted, won't listen, and get tired of hauling it around."

We went on our walk.  We began to review the poem we had been memorizing.  We had only passed about 5 houses before Amara was distracted because her dog's blanket was sliding down.  So, we stopped, fixed it, got back on track and started talking about synonyms and antonyms.  A few houses later, Lily hopped on the wagon, and Amara pulled her, I turned around to look at them to make sure they were listening.  I couldn't tell.  Lily was smiling facing backward and Amara was trudging hard.  I continued with the lesson, asking them questions, and they gave me correct answers, so we moved right along.  Then, Lily offered to pull me.  She made it look so fun, that I didn't pass up that opportunity.   I hopped on, Amara pushed, Lily pulled, and I actually had a lot of fun riding in the wagon.  I'm sure people who saw us had a queer expression on their face as they saw a mom reading aloud, sitting on a stuffed animal, on a carseat, on a wagon which was being pulled by 2 small girls.  If they could hear me, I was reciting "All Things Bright and Beautiful," by Cecil Alexander.  Then the girls were tired.  We all stopped, sat on the wagon along the roadside and continued with our grammar lesson as we rested.  We waved to a few passerbys and spoke to a neighbor who came walking up the road.  Then, we started our walk back (for your information, I think we made it just shy of 1/4 mile before turning around).

"Mom, I'm tired."
"We're almost home."
"This is heavy."
"You can do it." I encouraged her.
She trudged along pulling the wagon with the animal a little further before I said, "Let me try that," and took the wagon handle from her and pulled it home the rest of the way.  I ended up pulling that wagon after all, but at least we got the grammar lesson complete.

So, nothing really out of the ordinary for us.  Similar things like this happen every single day.  I probably wouldn't be sharing it here if it weren't for what happened at night.  I was laying in bed with the lights out and saying my prayers.  I was recounting my day to my Father in Heaven, when He brought to my memory that experience earlier that morning, when the girls and I had gone for a walk.  I could picture that funny little scene of Amara holding the wagon filled with her happiness, and my reluctance to let her take it.  "You know," were the words that crossed my mind, "someday you are going to miss that."  Tears filled my eyes as I realized how fast time is moving.  I go to bed tired each night because my day has been filled with children and their learning, their joys, their sorrows, their pain, their messes, their complaining, their love, and their generosity.   I'm blessed with work, with the work of a mother, a mentor, a teacher, a maid, a nurse, a tech specialist, a cook, a gardener, etc. etc. etc...

Lesson learned: Life with kids is messy, but the moments turn to memories, and when your child companions are no longer children, you'll be glad you have messy memories because it reminds you of them!  So go on and make a mess!

So, wanna see a bit of our everyday messes?  Come up my front path.  It's the one flanked with tall weeds and interspersed with a few flowers.
 Don't look too close.  The weeds will draw the happiness out of your soul.  Just close your eyes when you pass it.  That's what I do.
 Next, step up to my porch.  You'll have to cross the random bath mat that the kids found blown into our yard and "decorated" the walkway with.  And watch out for the mop.  Why that's out of the garage is beyond me!
 Alright, you made it to our front porch.  This used to look welcoming.  Now it's just strange and scary.
 Below you'll see a dry weed that has been placed into the pot of sticks.  It's weird, but beautiful in it's own sort of way.
 Look closely and you can see it's decorated!  What the heck!  Are those the heads of my sweet petunias shish-ka-bobbed all over that dry weed?  Huh.

 And it's also neatly skewered with the shiny trash from a yogurt container.
 What are those round things in the pot with the sticks?  Those are more "decorations."  They are year old walnuts still in the shell.  I'm not touching them.  There's spiders in there.
 And then atop the table, you come across this old sour cream container in which sits a recently made "potion."  The kids love to play "witches" with their friends.  I see this gross concoction and think of "mosquito breeding grounds," but the kids see things differently.  I'm not touching that either.  They get to clean that up.
 Those old pipes...  Ha!  Fancy seeing those again!  I keep throwing them away and they keep wandering back out of the trash along with other random junk and making their home around my yard and front porch.
 The muddy hand smears all over the front door...
 This naked barbie greets you face down (good thing) as you walk in the house.
I know I've lost your trust for putting you through that gauntlet of terror before you entered my home, but if you look up, you can see that I do try to make a welcoming home.
 And even though the creativity of my children gets messy and dangerous, it also can bring me smiles.
Ah.  Time to go clean.  Again.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Amara's Baptismal Interview

Amara's 8th Birthday
Amara is getting baptized this week, and this past Sunday she had an interview with the bishop.  She was sick with a nasty cold, so she didn't attend church, but bishop wanted to see her, so I ran home and we had 20 minutes til her interview, so I told her and Steve to get dressed, I brushed her extremely tangled hair, and we read a picture book about baptism.  She wanted to know what the bishop was going to ask her, and I told her that he'd ask her if she believed in Jesus.  The minutes flew by, and we packed up the car and headed out as a family to her interview.  
Amara gardening in her pajamas

When we got there, the bishop sat us down at the 4 closest chairs to the side of his desk.  Amara was the closest to him.  She tells me that she was only a little nervous.

Bishop spoke with us all for a few minutes, just catching up with our family.  Then he started the interview.

Bishop: Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

Amara: Yes.

Bishop: Are you kind to your parents and obey them? 

Amara: Um.  Hmmm... (looks at me for a clue with her tired, puffy eyes; 10 seconds of silence as she considers her answer, which seemed like minutes.) 

Amara: (quietly and nasal-y because of her stuffed up nose) Well... not really.

Bishop: (raised eyebrows and a grin) Not really!  Wow, I don't think anyone has ever answered that way before.

Me: She's just being honest.  But, she really does try.

Bishop: I see, so you try to be kind and obey?

Amara: Yeah.

Bishop: Ok, are you kind to your sister? 

Amara: Hmmm... (more silence as she contemplates, looks over at her sister, Lily smiles, she smiles back, Bishop smiles, more silence)

Bishop: I think this may be the most introspective baptismal interview I've ever experienced.  (We all smile)

Amara: (quietly and nasal-y) Sometimes I'm kind to her.

Bishop: Sometimes!

Me: She'll give you a straight answer.

Bishop: I can see that.  Sometimes huh?  But you try?

Amara: Yes.

Bishop: When you get baptized, you make a promise.  Do you know who you make that promise to?

Amara: Yes.

Bishop: Who?

Amara: Jesus.

Bishop: Ok, and who else?

Amara: Um. (silence) Heavenly Father.

Bishop:Yes, that's right.  And what do you promise to do?

Amara: (confidently and nasal-y) Keep the commandments!

Bishop: Yes, very good.  What else?

Amara: (raises an eyebrow and shrugs)

Bishop: Wow I love that she can raise one eyebrow that high.  Ask you mom.

Me: It's those same things we hear every week in the sacrament prayer, we take Jesus' name upon us.

Bishop: Yep, and one more, ask your dad.

Steve: (thinking)  Let's see, keep the commandments, take his name upon us, and...always remember Him!

Bishop to Amara: Very good!  And what does He promise you back?

Amara: That when you do wrong things, He won't remember them anymore when you repent.

Bishop: Very good, and that you will always have a special gift to help you.  What is that?

Amara: Umm...

Bishop: The gift of the...?

Amara: Holy Ghost!

Bishop: That's right.

Amara free as a bird
The interview ended after a few more questions.  I was impressed with Amara's understanding of forgiveness, that God forgets about our sins when we truly repent.  That principle of truth struck me that day.  The whole reason we get baptized is to accept Christ's atonement for us!  We allow Jesus to pay for our sins and in return, we try to live as He would.  Simple.  Beautiful.  What a precious gift to be able to take part in.  He frees us from our burdens and guilt and will remember our sins no more every time we repent.  

To become clean again, free again and again, how I love that!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

4th of July Christensen Reunion Togetherness

The sweet mountain air hugged us as we arrived at our rented log cabin nestled in the tall trees of Provo Canyon, near the Sundance resort.  Although warm from the summer heat, the abundance of kindred company surrounding us left hardly room to complain.  There were games to played, conversations to be had, and nature to explore!

 There were chips, cherries, and all manner of sugary delights to be devoured, amongst the daily feasts of mealtime vittles.
 Cousins rekindled familiar friendships.  Ping pong was the fodder, friendship was the flame.

 The Gull vehicle took prisoner of the very keys that held the power to ignite the beast to charge. Wielding a forged weapon, Sir Tron stabbed the beast with wild abandon!  Slash! He daggared it.
 Pinching, poking, and prying only set the beast's jaws tighter.  Sir Stephen, with his hand held device, youtubed a tutorial, and with the aid of a shoe lace, unlocked the jaws of the great beast, thus quietly concluding the battle, the vehicular beast was tamed, and thankfully unmaimed by the previous attempts at metal-surgery.
 An explosion of laughter filled the expansive gymnasium with the variety of talent that entered the enticing stage.

 We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, accepted a gift pamphlet from grandpa, a pocket-sized version of the constitution of the United States, with a charge to read and understand the philosophy our great country was built on.  Oh happy day of independence!
Summer days of bliss with our relations ended with a trip to the co-op farm that Lady Beverli and her family take part in once a week.

 And no reunion could be complete without the genuine grins of siblings and their parents captured digitally to be remembered always.

The sun set and the following dear Irish blessing came to mind~
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sunshine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
The splendor of the trip is told through the following photos my husband captured.  You can feel the fun, and take part in the beauty we got to be a part of just through the stories his photos tell.  Enjoy!