Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Covenants We Make

Whew!  It's been quite a week.  I hope you all enjoyed your Turkey Day.  Our week was all about making and keeping sacred covenants.  From renewing our temple recommends to blessing our new baby to seeing our first-born ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood, it has been nothing short of a spiritually action-packed week.

I'll start with today and work backwards, I guess.  This was Coy and my first Sunday back at church after his arrival into our family.  Luckily, my Dad was able to join us for Guy's ordination.

He also stayed a while and played with us after church.  It's neat to see my family which 18 months ago looked like a family of mostly girls, suddenly blossom into a family of equal parts women & equal parts future priesthood brethren! :)  It's truly amazing what God can do with our lives in a very short amount of time.

Anyway, I'm happy for Guy.  He advanced from Primary to the Young Men's program and also received his Faith in God award which we've worked on together pretty consistently over the years.

Age 11/12 has been a bit of a trying time for us.  Has anyone else found this to be the case?  I'm so glad Guy now has the structure and principles of the Priesthood to help guide him through this next part of his adolescence, because I was truly running out of ideas.  More and more, I see the need to step back and let the principles that we have taught him rest upon his soul and let him take these next steps as independently as he seems to want.  Some steps in life must be taken alone (although I'm of course always here for when he will eventually need me again! :)  

As for our other children, we're all settling in ok with having a new baby around.  My 19-month old Val loves the baby.  My girls do too.

Scarlett, my ten-year old is so very helpful...beyond helpful, she is my second in command...always willing to jump up and see to every need.  What a blessing she is to me.

The other great event of the week is that we blessed Coy the day after Thanksgiving.  I have to say that although it didn't happen exactly the way I would have had it, what mattered most was that my husband had the power and authority to bless him with the priesthood.  And above all else, these are the things that matter.

 When my mother-in-law came to visit last week, she kept pointing out that I have "two families" now, my older children (ages 12, 10, 9) and my younger children (ages 5, 19 months, and newborn).  While I tend to not want to see it that way, in a way her point is valid.  One group is advancing to spiritual and personal independence, while the other is almost completely dependent on me for everything.  One group has been instructed well and taught over years of family home evenings, scripture study, made covenants, etc and must now put what they've been taught into practice, while with the other group, we are basically starting over from scratch!

The great promise in all of this is that we have all of these varied personalities, experiences, and testimonies now in our family to help each other along the path from oldest to youngest.  It will be very interesting to see how the next chapter of our parenting and family journey unfolds!  Wish us luck...we'll need it!!! :)

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Our boon baby is here!

Hallelujah, we had our baby!

Coy Boon Christensen joined our family on Monday, October 30th, 2017.  Just about everything about the labor was different from my others, but his actual entrance into the world was marked by peace, quiet, and calm.  It was very sweet.  And he is just wonderful!

I am super excited, first that he came, second, that he came on the due date that I had in my head, third that he is a boy, and fourth, I'm just so happy that I am not pregnant anymore.  You know, you just get to that point where you're mentally and physically and in every way possible just at your max.  And then one day, it's all over.  And that day finally came for me.  It's amazing the lessons we women learn through childbearing, child-rearing, or even having those blessings withheld.  Powerful lessons one way or another.

I am so grateful for the six major blessings in my life--my children.  Each child different and delightful in their own ways.  Each a gift I am still unwrapping as the days and years pass.  I don't know that there will be anymore children joining our family, but I am sure feeling super blessed to have had these!  I turned 40 a few weeks ago, and I really wouldn't have wanted to spend my 40th birthday doing anything else.

I am so grateful to each of my children (and my husband)  who've helped so much during my pregnancy and beyond to facilitate welcoming another baby into our family.  It's never easy.  It always turns things upside-down for a time until the upheaval settles into a new normal.  And we get stronger again as we adapt and learn how to do things better together.

One major thing we've been dealing with is that Coy has had jaundice, which we've never experienced before. Because of our non-matching blood types (and Coy being Coombs positive), Coy's case was a little bit more serious than most.  So we found ourselves in the ER the day after we returned from the hospital, but we've been working hard to get his bilirubin number lowered and I think he's going to be just fine.

Through this, I've had wonderful women support me and my family by stepping in to babysit last-minute and bring meals, etc.  I am so grateful for these generous friends.  Their help made it much easier to deal with the unexpected doctor's visits and ER trip.  And having my Mom come help has been awesome as well.

Anyway, that's all.  Just giving you the long and the short of it.  If you're wondering about his name, we chose Boone as in "boon" because he is a blessing to our family.  We chose Coy partially because we wanted another three-letter name for our third boy, but liked Coy for it's old English meaning: quiet, calm, reserved.
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Monday, October 23, 2017

Pregnancy Olympics FHE

For Family Home Evening tonight, we staged what we are calling the Pregnancy Olympics!

I came up with the idea after seeing my kids stuffing pillows up their shirts yesterday pretending to be pregnant.  I thought it would be fun to hold an Olympic games of pregnancy, just to kind of help them see what it's like to be in My shoes!

They had a blast.  We all did.

Here are some of the events which were run with pillows and blankets up their shirts (and down some pants).  Some events had them also wearing a backpack loaded down with heavy 2 liter bottles.

Most of the events were timed, such as this "baby crawl."

And the "roll over in bed" event which had them rolling across the floor.  

There was also an event that tested their balance (running across a balance beam while weighed down by 2 liters) and agility (running through a room littered with legos.)

In another event, the kids had to fold a large pile of towels.  The winner was the one who folded the most towels correctly.

 Of course no Olympic Games would be complete without an awards ceremony.

I didn't make any medals or anything, but the winners were announced and everyone enjoyed their bags of Skittles.

Afterward, we talked about what it takes to put yourself in other people's shoes, what it takes to have empathy for others.  Steve encouraged the children to think of the games we played tonight and to keep thinking of ways to help me out over the next few weeks of this pregnancy and beyond.

(*Thanks to my husband for thinking up most of the events and being the MC!)

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Reading the Book of Mormon Together as a Family (Round 3)

As you know, our family has been working hard to read the Book of Mormon together EVERY day as President Monson admonished in the previous General Conference. With our multiple moves and me being pregnant, we hadn't been doing as well as we could have with daily reading, so we redoubled our efforts.

Well, this morning, we finished reading the Book of Mormon together as a family for the third time!

We enjoyed the ending of the book a lot more this time, I think because over the last week or so--with the end in sight--we started reading longer stretches of material, instead of just pecking at it.

This morning, I was awake a lot earlier than usual, so I made lunches, made breakfast, and made a cozy atmosphere for us to eat breakfast in and lounge around the fireplace a bit while I read the final three chapters of the Book of Mormon with my kids.

We talked about how we can know that the Book of Mormon is true and who we will see at the judgment bar of God.  We pondered what spiritual gifts might be found within each of us, and we talked about what blessings are ours as a family as the words of the Book of Mormon are passed down from one generation to another.

We also talked about when we might go celebrate together our latest reading accomplishment.  The first time we finished the book together, we had a Book of Mormon party.  The second time, we went on an awesome family trip to see the Hill Cumorah pageant and tour a temple.  This time, we're going to jump at a trampoline place, because, well you all know what I'm going to say here...Mommy's pregnant and due in two weeks~!  The kids are A-ok with this plan to celebrate together!  (And no I will not be jumping!)

Tomorrow...we'll start at the very beginning...a very good place to start.
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Friday, October 13, 2017

Turning 40 & Having a Baby Shower

I've got about two days left in my thirties, people!   My Instagram account handle is "In the Twinkling of an Eye" because, for me that's how fast life flies by, and I want to remind myself of that fact.

I've mentioned now quite a few times how harrowing it was to be uprooted and moved across the state during the last year.  The hardest thing for me was leaving the people, the women and Mom-friends who've been such a huge support to me over my child-bearing and early-rearing years.  They've comforted me, brought me meals, and most of all advised me.  I miss that.

Despite all of my lamenting here on the old blog, I have been incredibly blessed to be surrounded by a large group of extremely giving, caring, and compassionate women both in and outside of the church in my new community who have helped me so much along the way during this pregnancy and since we moved here.  The Lord knew that I would need a lot of hand-holding, so he sent me to a place where there were apparently a lot of people selfless enough to want to do that for me!  And for that I am most grateful and contantly amazed at their kindness to me.

Earlier this week, my friends threw me a baby shower. I used to feel weird about getting gifts from people at baby showers, but over the years of baby showers I've come to understand how powerful it is to come together as women and express love and support for one another in this way.  It is not at all about the gifts.  It is about the words that are said, the laughter, and sometimes tears.

My last baby shower was special to me in that there were ladies there who've known me since my oldest was 18 months old and have seen me through so much.

This baby shower was special to me because the room was filled with new ladies in my life who have stepped up to be by my side when they didn't have to.  Some have watched my children, brought me meals, talked me off proverbial cliffs and assured me that everything was going to be ok.  And in short order, I've come to love and so appreciate their presence in my new life here in Pittsburgh.

Some of those women I'd put in that category have been some of you reading this post right now.  I have so appreciated how perfect "strangers"--at least people I've never met in person--have felt to reach out to me over the last year (or earlier than that) to say thank you for your post or I felt like sharing this with you or I want you to know you're doing great, etc.

It means so much.

In my youth, I used to want to have a lot of friends.  But as I've grown I've realized that having just a few really good friends who help me in my journey towards Christ is all I really need in life.

And luckily, I have been blessed with just that!  So thank you!

Thanks for reading and commenting and emailing me to show love and support from afar, and thanks to my friends for showering me with their love right here in Cranberry!

40's, here I come...

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Is the Book of Mormon Written for Us?

Is the Book of Mormon written for us?  Did the prophets writing therein really see our day and our "doings?"

As our family gets closer to our goal of finishing the Book of Mormon together for the third (?) time, it becomes increasingly apparent that it is written specifically for us and they most certainly did see our day.

Sixteen chapters away from the finale of the book, this is sometimes comforting and at times disturbing as it feels like the sins of our generation are on full blast on the big screen of our scripture reading each morning.

As a result, it makes it very easy to "apply the scriptures unto ourselves," just as it was easy to apply General Conference to ourselves last week.

While reading Ether Chapter 6, it was very easy to compare our family's recent move and all of the travails we've experienced before, during, and since to the journey of the people of Jared across the ocean.  It says that the Lord sent a wind to blow them continuously (344 days straight) until their barges reached the promised land.  I'm so grateful to a college friend who taught me during an FHE one evening to look at the storm and see that it was the method that the Lord used to bring the people to a better place.  Our storms can do the same thing for us.  We also noted that although there was darkness all around them and they spent most of their time buried under water and tossed about, they did not have to cross in darkness because of the faith of the Brother of Jared in Jesus Christ...and we don't have to either.

In Ether Chapter 8, which we read yesterday, we see the reintroduction of secret combinations into what was previously a peaceful beginning to their new society in what we know as the Americas.  Because of a thirst for power, people entered into oaths with one another to uphold the wicked behavior of their leaders or those who wished to lead.  We learn that these secret oaths are had among all nations and are as old as Cain and that the author of these secret combinations is Satan himself.  Moroni warns the modern gentiles (talking to us) to guard against these secret combinations and to not let them get above us, because if we do, it will prove, as with all people, to lead to our utter destruction.

Are these secret combinations had among us?  They most certainly are, if one glance at the news this week is any indication.  I couldn't sleep last night, and made the "mistake" of taking in all of the details of the latest sex scandal in Hollywood--and it's a big one.  Being a news person my main interest was discovering why this wasn't reported sooner by certain news outlets.  I remember seeing this man on TV during a news clip of the Oscars earlier this year and thinking, "Wow, he looks like a real sleazeball."  Little did I know how true that inkling was.  And how disgusting it was last night to read all of the accusations against him and even more disturbing to know that no one stood up to him, in fact, his associates aided and covered for him in a wide range of industries (including media and journalism companies) in order to gain access to his power.

As someone who worked in a lot of professional environments with a lot of powerful people before marrying and becoming a mother, I have some surprising insight into how widespread this kind of behavior is and how much people thirst for power, access to powerful people, and fame in our society.  As a young female, I got to see firsthand how men at almost any level of power prey on the young, eager, and naive women around them.  And my friends who worked in similar fields can share similarly harrowing tales.

Did the prophets of the Book of Mormon see our day.  I testify that they absolutely did, which is what makes it such a powerful tool in our lives today.

As Elder Nelson taught in General Conference, "The Book of Mormon provides the fullest and most authoritative understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to be found anywhere.  It teaches what it really means to be born again...The full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is contained in the Book of Mormon. Period."

So is it possible to turn our society around and become the kind of people who can dwell with God?  The Book of Mormon shows us that people can turn around rather quickly, if we desire to.  In Ether 9, we read that after losing the kingdom to his conspiring, wicked son, King Omer and then his son King Emer rule in much so that the Lord poured out his blessings upon the land and King Emer saw Jesus Christ in person.

However, we don't want to be flip-floppers during our probationary state--during our lives.  We don't want to be lukewarm.  The world will do what it will do, but we must worship the Lord and obey His commands so that we can cross through the darkness of this world with our lights shining brightly.

I tuned in only at the very end of last night's Face to Face live Youtube event, but what I heard in the last 5-10 minutes was beautiful.  

One young woman talked about standing strong against temptations and how hard that is as a youth today because they are faced with so many evil things.  She said that she thinks about someday after this life we will all sit around a table with the prophets.  She said that no one will want to say, "Oh, my life was easy."  We will say, "I worked hard.  I tried my best. I stood strong," etc.  Not one of us will say it was easy, but it will have been worth it, and our personal storms will be what brought us to a glorious end, to our personal promised land, if we have faith enough in the Savior to make the journey with His help and the help of the wisdom provided in this sacred book, which if read daily can qualify us for heaven's help in our lives.  Help we will certainly all need more and more of in the days ahead!

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