Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Week 4 in the MTC

So don't ask me how this even happened, but on Thursday I woke up and my back was hurting so bad, so I had the MTC doctor come and look at it and apparently my back had spasmed and my left shoulder was 3 inches higher than my right shoulder. He told me that I basically had to stay in bed until Monday, laying flat on my back the whole time, which is literally the most uncomfortable position ever. The doctor didn't know how it had happened, whether it was the way I slept or playing volleyball or what, but he said that we would try to do everything we can and load me up on medicine, but if it was a more serious back problem that I might have to go home to get treatment. When he said that it was seriously like 5 million tons of bricks fell on me. I just had a meltdown and I couldn't stop thinking about what a failure I would feel like if I had to go home. Even if I would be coming back out to finish my mission.

Two of the elders gave me a blessing and I just remember the words "you will be healed according to your faith." So I just started screaming in my head "I WILL NOT GO HOME. I HAVE FAITH IN THEE." I think that in the back of my head I knew I wouldn't be sent home, but Satan knows how to sneak into my mind and make me feel hopeless sometimes. So I began my death-bed sentence a little depressed, but trying to keep my faith burning. 

The MTC staff was so sweet, though. They set up a little robot camera in my classroom and a monitor in my bedroom so I didn't miss any of my classes! It was pretty cool. And they gave me a portable DVD player and Preach My Gospel videos, and stocked me up on medicine and heating pads and blankets! Although the pain was really bad and I was super lonely most of the time, those words from that blessing kept running through my mind, so I had to stay faithful! I felt really bad for my companion, though, because she had to take on all the Sister Training Leader responsibilities herself while also taking care of me! Sunday they allowed me to come to Sacrament meeting and they called me to give a talk!  I was surprised, but really happy because I had spent soo long translating it!  My talk was on the Atonement and I actually felt really good about my German! The gift of tongues is so real!

On Monday, I was allowed to do all my normal stuff and go to classes again, but by the end of the day my back had seized up again and the pain was worse.  I felt so helpless not being able to move, and our little district had some other challenges, so we all just had to plead with Heavenly Father to help us get through our trials. Yesterday I went to the hospital (it's called a surgery house or something here so it was kinda scary) and the new doctor told me that he was going to prescribe stronger medicine for me to break the cycle of spasms and that I should be moving around as much as possible! I was SO happy to hear that! Apparently these pills have morphine in them, so I'm feeling REALLY great and a little high haha.

Today for p-day we went on a church history tour instead of going to the temple! Although I love going to the temple, this was so fun and a really great change of scenery!!! England is so beautiful and green, and there are just giant fluffy sheep everywhere! It's great! 

So although this week has been the hardest week of my mission so far, mentally, physically, and emotionally, I am still in awe at how much I continue to learn and grow each week. I've never really had any physical problems before so I was just asking Heavenly Father "why now??" But then I remembered a devotional by Elder Bednar we watched recently where he said that bad things happen to good people because the Lord trusts them to learn the lesson they need to learn. So I've learned to humble myself before God and give Him the broken pieces of my heart and try to listen for what He is trying to teach me. I have grown closer to my Savior this week than I have ever been before, and I am grateful for these trials I am having, Because if this is all it takes for me to develop Christlike attributes and prepare to be a better missionary, a better wife and a better mother, and to receive eternal life and glory, then I will do it! When you look at your trials from an eternal perspective it seems like such a small price to pay for all the blessings we have been promised! Especially considering what Christ went through so we can overcome both spiritual and physical death. I love being a missionary. My mission is the most precious thing to me in my life right now and I will not let anything get in the way of my ability to serve and fulfill my purpose. 

Love y'all! 

Sister Thunell

"Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, and on, on to the victory!" D&C 128:22.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Missionary Mom Reflections

I have heard so many people tell me over the last several months that there are countless blessings that come from having a missionary serving in the field.  And I've been looking for them.  But it wasn't until the email Savannah sent yesterday that I realized we're actually experiencing tons of them, and I've just been missing it.  

I won't elaborate on all of them because there are too many.  

But one of the noticeable ones for me is that I have been surprisingly emotionally stable this week.  So far, there have been no meltdowns, I've been not only functional but productive, and I didn't cry or carry around any of Savannah's stuffed animals yesterday when I read her email!  That is miraculous.  Last Wednesday, I had honestly resigned myself to being hopelessly sad and inconsolable once a week for the next 18 months.  I'm sure there will be more of those days, but I am so grateful to know that it's possible to also find joy on p-days, too.  

The other miraculous blessing was in her email.  Did you read it?  

I'm sure I don't have to tell you how much I adore my oldest daughter.  She is magnetic, smart, determined, hilariously witty, amazing and beautiful, and you can rest assured that very few of her talents and gifts have escaped me after 19 years of being her mother.  But I also know that she isn't perfect.  She struggles with things that frustrate me and that I know will cause future challenges down the road if she doesn't get a few of them under control.  During those three months she was at home preparing to leave for the MTC, a handful of her noticeable flaws were a huge concern for me.  I worried that her stubborn pride and strong opinions were going to be hard for some companions to live with.  I worried that her need for constant perfectionism (and her very vocal complaining about things that were only slightly imperfect) would be a huge impediment to the Spirit and the compassion she would need to have as a missionary.  She is also notoriously late everywhere she goes because she insists on seeing perfection in the mirror before she feels comfortable leaving it.  After 19 years of watching a tiny, strong-willed perfectionist become a grown up, strong-willed perfectionist, I spent a lot of time between August and October worrying about her mission experience.  I was a little bit consumed with guilt that I hadn't caught those things earlier.  I was a little bit frustrated that I couldn't figure out how to say the exact right thing to compel her to hurry and fix them before she left.  And I was a lot worried for her future companions.  By late September, I considered writing a personal note to each of them that she could hand out upon arrival, warning them about potential compatibility hazards and pleading with them to be understanding...and to pray a lot.  I thought better of that decision and just opted for my own pleading and praying with Heavenly Father to help her to grow on her mission.  

Again...did you read her email yesterday??  
"Sunday I had soooo many spiritual inspirations, but one that I want to share is that I have definitely been learning how to be more submissive. We are here in the MTC to learn how to submit our will. To our district leaders, to our zone leaders, to the president, and most importantly to the Lord. I've been trying to be a little more humble, and teachable, and submissive, and Heavenly Father has helped me so much. I feel like I'm not as quick to anger, I am willing to give up some of my pride and do what my companion wants to do, or what my district leader asks us to do, and I definitely feel like my faith in Jesus Christ has grown tremendously."
This is the same girl who for 19 years wouldn't let anyone else in the house pick the games we played, or the restaurants we went to, or the movies we watched without some serious battling.  This is the same girl who has taken her role as older, wiser leader of the family pack extremely seriously.  And somehow after three weeks in the MTC she has felt the need to be more humble and to give up some of her pride.  Miraculous...

And have you noticed her pictures??  Yes, she is glowy and radiant, but she's not wearing any make up!!  And her hair is just in a pile on her head.  No hair dryer, no straightener, no mascara, no fuss.  Which leads me to believe that somehow she has also felt compelled to set aside her need to look perfect for now, and get where she needs to be...on time and ready to work!  And miraculously, she still looks beautiful!

What an enormous blessing it is to see Savannah lose herself in things that are so much more important than appearances and being right.  How grateful I am for the Spirit that whispers those gentle reminders so much more directly and effectively than her parents ever could.  And how excited I am to have a tiny glimpse into the refining process and to watch the Lord put all of those amazing talents and gifts of hers to good use in His work.  

Only three weeks into this and I can't even express how abundantly blessed we all feel, not just because Savannah is growing and changing, but because we all are.  It is a tremendous blessing today to be a missionary mom.     

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Halfway Through the MTC!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Week 2 in England

Hellooooooo everyone! :) 

Week 2 has also been great!! There were some very very high highs, and some very very low lows!! But that's life (haha.) 

So this morning we went to the temple again! We pretty much go every p-day, and I forgot to say this last time, but last week was Sister J's first time going through the temple!! Sister J is a convert of 17 months from Thailand, and she is the happiest and sweetest girl in the entire world. She understands a lot of English, but it's hard for her to speak it sometimes, but just seeing her go through that experience for the first time was so amazing! And it was so cool that we all got to be there for her!! She loved it :) We have missionaries from all over the world here! It's crazy! We have mishs from Thailand, Norway, Ireland, Scotland, Hungary, France, Dubai, Switzerland, Spain, Finland, Brazil, England, US, Madagascar, Austria, and South Africa. And most of those missionaries just left yesterday actually because they're all english-speaking two-weekers! But tomorrow we are getting 12 new sisters and a lot more elders! We only lost 2 sisters so it's gonna be so crowded upstairs for the girls (haha.) The Sister from Madagascar is Sister A and she speaks French and Malagasi. She's learning English and so we all help her a lot and she is just wonderful too :)

So early this week every single missionary in this MTC got to bus down to Manchester and proselyte on the streets EXCEPT for the Germans!!! I was so sad!! Like what the heck??? It's because we are the only ones here without visas for England so we aren't legally allowed to proselyte. The Greeks are all European because you're not allowed to serve in Greece unless you're European so they even got to go :( So that whole day the Germans were all alone just moping around (haha.) 

Since the first day here our district has been singing hymns only in German, and it is so fun! And it really helps!! It's funny because a lot of the hymns in German are in different keys than they are in the English hymnbook, and in German the songs are just so much more meaningful and descriptive. It's crazy! And they also have Come thou Fount in the German hymnbook :) Sacrament is always cool because we always have three languages going on, German, Greek, and English. And then most of the time we all get confused and it doesn't work out so everyone reverts back to English (haha.) 

So p-days here are awesome. We take a coach to the local supermarket called Asda. It's basically Walmart. I actually think they're owned by the same person cuz they have the same slogan. But the first time we went there we were ooohing and ahhhing about everything, and now we are realizing how silly that was because it's exactly like Walmart (haha.) Then the coach takes us to the post office where we can mail letters or get stamps and stuff (by the way, I can get letters and packages here at the MTC. I didn't know that before), and then they drop us off at the LDS bookstore! It's like a 15-minute walk back to the MTC from the bookstore so we take our time and snap lots of pictures (haha.)

So our MTC President, President Preston, has been in the hospital since we have been here, with septic arthritis, but he just got released this week! So we finally got to meet him and he's awesome! He talked to my companion and I for a long time the other day in the hallway, and then just yesterday he came into our district room and gave us some really great advice :) He said that technically we have only been learning German for like 6 or 7 days cuz Sundays and pdays and our first day here don't count! And he said that with what he has heard us speaking just at meals and in the halls he is so proud of us and we are advancing so much! Which was comforting to hear because I feel like my German is coming along veeerrryyyy slowly. But here is my German word of the week for everyone! Entscheidungsfreiheit. (ent-shy-doongs-fry-height) It means agency :)'s crazy how long some of these words we learn are, but what's even crazier is that I can read and pronounce them now without hesitation! German pronunciation is simpler than I thought! The grammar on the other hand is still inching along.

We sang the EFY medley on Sunday to President and Sister Preston, and Mommy, I'm not joking I totally called it, I was the only one here who knew how to play it! I'm the only sister here who can play the piano! And the only other person is another elder who is in my district, so I made him learn it and play it (haha) because I was so nervous when we were practicing that I couldn't play it while everyone was singing.

So we have started to teach 1-2 lessons every day, and the other day we had our best lesson yet. It was with an investigator named Danny (brother fields) and my companion and I just played off of each other so well and I had an actual conversation with him! I am so surprised at how much I can understand now. Friday we are having German day, we're only speaking in German, and honestly it's gonna be great because we speak 50% German on normal days anyway so I'm ready!!

I've definitely found that I am way harder on myself than I should be. My comp and I are study rats.  We study and practice teaching and speaking German and grammar concepts like 24/7 while a lot of the other mishs like to take breaks and goof off sometimes, and I still feel like I'm not learning as much as I'm supposed to be. But on Sunday both President and Sister Preston were basically praising the sisters for how great their language was coming along and how wonderful we are and how we are doing everything perfectly, and then they were SO HARSH on the elders! It's crazy, I feel so bad for them. But I guess I'm harsh enough on myself that I don't need them to tell me I'm doing everything wrong too. My companion and I are so strict with the obedience thing. I was told EXACT obedience brings blessings, so we are EXACTLY obedient! But sometimes I hold myself to too high of a standard, I guess.

Our worst lesson so far has been with Sabina. We walked in and she said she only had five minutes to talk with us, so we basically gave her 5 commitments in five minutes. Will you read the Book of Mormon? Will you pray about it? Will you come to church on Sunday? Will you be baptized if you find out it is true? And will you bring your husband and sons to meet with us next time. too? hahaha...we were honestly cracking up so much when we walked out and realized what we had done. We were just trying to do what Preach My Gospel says, though! But we have learned from our mistakes.

Wow I'm sorry this is so long! I just have a couple more things to say! So this week has been really spiritual for me. I've had some breakdowns, but I've also learned how to rely on Heavenly Father for what I need. I am so used to running to people for help, and now I need to learn to run to Heavenly Father for help, and He really will help you. As a missionary, I am authorized to receive personal revelation for not only myself but also for my investigators, and I have the blessing of having the spirit with me so strongly every second of the day as long as I am doing what I should be doing. I have seriously prayed about the silliest things, and I receive immediate help and comfort. So I know without a doubt that my Heavenly Father knows me personally and loves me. I am part of His army, so He wants to be there for me and help me! I also know that feelings of incompetence or negativity are not from God. They are from Satan so don't listen to them. I am so glad I am a missionary!!! 

I have so much more I could say, but this email is so long already. Thank you again everyone for all the kind emails!! I love hearing from you!!

Sister Thunell

Monday, November 9, 2015

Missionary Motherhood

For those of you who are here often and can do the math, I'm sure you've already figured out that I didn't actually post that letter from Savannah last Wednesday when I received it.  It took me a few days to be able to read through it and edit it for publishing here...not because I was busy, but because I couldn't even get through the thing without crying.  

Good grief!  This experience has been so much different than I expected.  

I fully expected to be heartbroken and sad on the day we took Savannah to the airport, but I was fine.  I expected to be non-functional for 3-4 days after she left, and even blocked out those days on my calendar, but I was fine.  And I expected to be excited and thrilled to receive her emails on her preparation days (P-days,) but instead I am a complete mess the entire time she's online and well into the 48 hours following.  So my missionary mom advice for the day is: Don't try to predict how you're going to react over the next 18 months (or 2 years, if you send out a son) because you honestly won't know until you're in it.  And every single person is different.  

It is especially hard to know what to say to her in my emails.  I know her time online is limited, so I don't want her bogged down reading trivial information from home.  But I also want to keep her informed on what we're doing here, because although she is worlds away right now, she is still part of the family.  I don't want to go on and on about how much we miss her and how I carried her stuffed animal around for an entire day last week, but I also don't want her to think we're having a party here without her.  I have mostly tried to make sure to let her know always how much we love her and how proud we are of all that she's doing.  Who knew communication would be so hard with this little thing who I typically communicate with so well?

Wednesdays are especially hard for me because no one is home.  Savannah is 6 hours ahead of us, so her emails come in the morning just after I've dropped kids off at school.  The house is quiet.  Craig is almost always out of town at that time of the week.  There is no one available to talk me down off of these ledges.  But as much as I don't love wading through all that sorrow by myself, it has been a good learning experience to rely solely on Heavenly Father for strength and sustenance.  I thought I already did that.  I had no idea...

I have prayed many, many desperate prayers in the last two weeks to just be able to get myself together enough to do something besides cry and mope all day.  And every time, He has sent some helpful little distraction, or some thoughtful text from a friend, or some pink sparkly thing to remind me that my daughter is fine, and I am fine, and that He is in charge of this.  He has a plan.  For all of it.  For us.  For her mission.  For the relocation and sale of this house.  For my lonely days and my good ones.  

Giving up control and the desire to orchestrate and hurry things along, and trusting in Heavenly Father has not come as easily for me as I thought it would.  But, apparently I have a few (million) things to learn from this mission experience, too.   

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

First Week in the England MTC

Friday, October 30, 2015

First Email from Preston!

I still haven't decided how often I'll post Savannah's letters here.  I'm not sure I want to make this a missionary blog, but I also don't want to manage two different blogs.  And she is a pretty dang big part of my life, so we'll see...

But this first email was pretty awesome to get, so I wanted to immortalize it on the blog.  

I got this Thursday morning after a long night of checking and rechecking Flight Tracker to make sure Savannah made it safely to Manchester, England.  

It's a weird feeling to watch your daughter fly over the Atlantic Ocean.  Oh, how I wish someone would come up with Missionary Tracker so I could follow her every move for the next 18, that probably wouldn't be a good idea, would it?  

What a happy surprise to find this email when I woke up...

Hi mommy! 
I don't have much time, but im here at the mtc!! I love it here. its sooo pretty and i got my nametag finally! theres also a giant swan in the front in a pond, we named her odette. so our flight was delayed a little so we got in at like 6:50am uk time, and then we went through customs, which took like an hour because the line was so long, and then we got our bags and found the nice brittish man waiting for us with the mtc sign! the flight was super long, and pretty painful. and im running on like 5 hours of sleep in the past two days, but im excited! we have our room assignments, and im not in sister hancocks room so i probably wont be companions with her :( but we dont get our official companions till tonight so we are unofficial companions for the day! :) today we are just doing interviews, and unpacking, and finding our way around and getting settled. then tonight we have a big meeting with everyone who came into the mtc today. so yesterday was when the whole group of other mishs left the mtc, and until we got here there were only 10 mishs here! thats cuz theyre learning greek!!! so crazy! theyre here for 9 weeks, and i guess there is a mission in greece! im charging my camera so i will be able to take more pictures, but all the other sisters and i exchanged emails so they will all email their pics to me later. my pday will be on wednesdays, so thats when you'll hear from me next!! there were about 20 of us on the flight over here, and over double that coming in either from england or just different flights to the uk. so all of us who were on that flight are all super close now! okay well im gonna try and write alex an email back now, and maybe a general email but probably not. love you! i had alot more to tell you but i cant think of anything haha so ill just write it down for next time. oh and the mtc president is president preston haha which is funny cuz we are in the preston mtc. okay love you!

Sister Thunell

What is it about that girl and naming animals?  Isn't she the goofiest thing?  

Hopefully in the weeks and months that follow she'll be able to take a breath between sentences, and add things like punctuation and capital letters to her emails, but who even cares about that stuff when she's so happy and excited to be in England.  

I think it's miraculous and amazing how the Spirit gives you exactly what you need.  I knew Savannah was safe because I could see that her flight had landed.  But I was totally in awe on Thursday morning after not expecting anything, that I had received not only a phone call from Newark the previous day, but also an email filled with all the details that I personally needed to know she was not just safe, but excited and happy.  

Super grateful today for missionary emails, for an enthusiastic daughter, and for the Spirit that provides every single thing we need...even the things we don't dare ask for.  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Missionary Mom Advice

I have gotten tons of advice over the last few months from great missionary moms.  I've tried to take it all in and keep it with me so I would know exactly what to expect through all of this process, especially the saying goodbye part.  A lot of people warned me that it would be an emotional roller coaster.  Some said that the first day would be the hardest, but that each day after would be easier.  Some said it would hit unexpectedly and in waves.  Some told me that my job would be to put on a brave face until Savannah was out of our line of sight, and then I could just cry all I wanted on the drive home.  So I prepared for and expected all of those things.  

What I didn't expect was the absolute joy and love I felt on Wednesday morning.  We had a few tiny challenges.  Like some of us who take a ridiculously long time getting ready in the bathroom (like over an hour!)  Like a 20 minute delay leaving the house because of people who take a really long time getting ready.  Like bags that weighed slightly more than we anticipated.  Like forgetting luggage tags.  

But overall, the whole airport experience was so much better than any of us expected.  After three months of preparing, Savannah was excited and ready to go.  How could any of us be sad about that?  

At the very end of our morning at the airport, I was surprisingly ok with not being the last one she talked to.  I happily gave that job to Craig.  I am a lot of things for Savannah.  I'm her emotional support, her friend, her confidant, her spiritual advisor, but Craig is her rock.  His is the reassuring voice she needed right before launching into this exciting, but scary adventure.  His is the advice she needed on those last hundred yards or so of being a little girl.  And how grateful I am that he took this whole week off so he could be exactly what she needed in the last days before she flew off to Europe, especially on Wednesday morning.

We stayed and watched her walk through security, and when we could no longer see her cute missionary face, we all walked back to the car.  I could totally feel everyone taking my emotional temperature and waiting for the breakdown, but it didn't happen.  So we took everyone out for breakfast and then dropped them all off at their respective schools.  And when Craig and I came home, he checked my emotional temperature and waited for tears.  None.  

I had an unexpected, unexplainable, amazing, uplifting day...all day.  Texts and phone calls and kind thoughts and messages dropped in all day long.  By 3:00 when the kids started coming home and I started taking my own emotional temperature, it occurred to me that there's no possible way I could have just willed myself to not be sad.  That's so unlike me.  I cry over everything, especially saying goodbye to people.  I'm pretty sure I was carried around by angels all day Wednesday and Thursday.  They've since left (or at least stepped back into their usual positions) and I can definitely feel the difference.  It's a lot harder to maintain that spiritual high without them, but I'm sure they're somewhere close by monitoring my emotional temperature...and when needed, they'll be back.  

I know there will be hard days ahead for all of us, especially for Savannah.  But how grateful I am for the gift of being able to see this whole mission from her perspective for a day, and to be able to feel nothing but selfless joy for what she's about to experience and learn.  I'm so grateful for the moms who prepared me in advance and to now be officially numbered among them.  I'm grateful for those sweet heavenly angels who carried me around for a couple of days and for the earthly ones who are still here taking my emotional temperature and checking in with me.  Oh, how I love all of them!   

And now, I can add my own missionary mom advice for the people who will do this after me, and for the future years when I have to do this all over again...Trust Heavenly Father.  Look for the ways He blesses your days, even the hard ones.  And never doubt how well He knows you.  Every experience is as unique as the people having them, and He has the ability to provide exactly what we need, exactly how and when we need it.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


It's 11:45 and I should have been in bed a long time ago.  I'm exhausted, and tomorrow morning is going to come quickly.  But the whole house is asleep and I just want to hang onto this feeling of absolute peace and security for a little while longer.  

Tonight I know where everyone is.  Tonight they're all sleeping safely and comfortably in their beds...well, except for Megan who is sleeping in Savannah's bed with her.  Tonight I don't have to wonder how anyone is doing.  I can walk through every room and see them and hear them.  And KNOW.

Tomorrow morning, we will take Savannah to the airport and let her fly all day and all night across the world to England.  Without her phone.  And I won't know...not the details anyway.  

I won't know how the plane ride was, or how she found all the missionaries in the Newark airport, or if she likes all of them.  I won't know how cold it was or wasn't in Manchester or how long the ride was to the MTC in Preston.  I won't know about any of the millions of thoughts she had or the things she ate or the people she talked to.  Until sometime later this week?  or next week?  And by then, I'll probably only get a brief synopsis instead of all the details.  

That's the hardest thing for me about this whole mission...the part where I give up my constant and instant access to all the details of Savannah's life.  Even at BYU, she would text or call multiple times a day to tell me about every test, every interaction, every experience, and every cute animal she spotted on her walks across campus.  I don't think I ever went more than three days without hearing her voice.

I like details...especially the details of the lives of the people I love.  

Tonight, when the Stake President came over to set Savannah apart, he gave her a powerful and amazing blessing.  And the whole time he spoke, all I could hear was the Spirit whispering to me, "Haunani, this will be so worth it.  Your family will be blessed.  Your children will be blessed.  Savannah's children will be blessed.  Stop worrying about the details.  You won't miss a thing."

That's miraculous, isn't it?  To think that I can send my daughter off to Europe with only weekly opportunities for email communication, and I won't miss a thing?  I have no idea how that will work, but I believe He can do it.  

If it were up to me, I would let Savannah take her phone with her.  If it were up to me, I would have sent her to a mission in the United States.  If it were up to me, I would probably have had her just stay home forever and sleep in her bed every night.  It's probably a good thing for her that it's not up to me.  
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." - Isaiah 55:8
So as I walk through all these dark rooms tonight filled with sleeping children and mourn the loss of this stage of life we're leaving, I also have to rejoice in the exciting plans the Lord has for all of them.  I know He wrote this mission in Savannah's heart a long time ago, and so He will fulfill it in her life exactly the way it will best suit her.  He also wrote HER in MY heart a long time ago and He's not going to let me miss anything important that happens in her life.  

Somehow, over the next 18 months, it will be possible to let go of all the ways I currently KNOW things, but yet still KNOW.  Amazing...
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 58:9

Friday, October 23, 2015


This is the house we currently live in.  I pretty much love everything about it and have since the day we moved in.  

There's a blue jay that sits in that tree in front of my bedroom window in the mornings, and a million squirrels and bunnies that play in the yard all day long.  

It took me months to figure out what to do with the space going up these stairs, and then when that collage wall finally came together, I mostly just wanted to walk in the front door as often as possible so I could admire it.  I love the entry into this house.  

This dining room has hosted Thanksgiving dinners, church activities, birthday parties, open houses, music recitals, game nights, and every Sunday dinner for the last four years.  The piano lives in there, and Megan's bass, and a handful of guitars and ukuleles. I made those curtains (with some help from a really good friend with a sewing machine.)  That screen on the wall belonged to my grandmother.  The two soup tureens belonged to Craig's grandmother.  

I probably spend 50% of my day in this kitchen.  Food = love and with 6 people in this house, there's a lot of both happening in this kitchen.  The kids eat breakfast at the island while I pack their lunches for the day.  Those two stools are like the revolving door after school where the kids take turns debriefing their days with me as they come home.  Hundreds of the world's problems have been solved (or at least discussed) at that little island.  

This table is where we read scriptures every morning, where Craig works on his lessons on Sundays, where we eat dinner during the week, and where the sun first appears in the morning.  

There's a lot to love about this house, and that doesn't even include the amazing neighbors we have, the incredible schools my kids go to, and the supportive, uplifting, inspiring church community we belong to.  There is nothing I would change about this place or the five years we've spent here.  

Moving to Birmingham has always sort of been in our long term plans because Craig's company's corporate office is located there and any kind of promotion, we knew, would also inevitably include a relocation.  I had hoped to be able to get a few more kids through high school before we actually had to think about that.  

Timing is a funny thing, though, and no matter how hard I try, I can never quite control it the way I'd like to.  

I dragged my feet for awhile about putting this house on the market mostly because I really like where I live and I wanted to stay here as long as possible.  I was reluctant to look for houses online, and I definitely wasn't interested in a house hunting trip to Alabama. can only drag your feet for so long on a thing like this...

Last month, I finally gave in and flew to Birmingham for one day to look at a few houses with Craig.

Of the hundreds I looked at online, and the 6 or 8 that we actually looked at in person, this was the only one I was interested in.  It was the only one that made me picture us actually living in Alabama.  It doesn't have a wall going up the stairs that I can put all of those pictures on.  It doesn't have any bunnies playing in the front yard.  It doesn't come with the same neighbors and friends we have here.  But it does have a lot of stuff I'm looking forward to and I'm sure a bunch of other great things I haven't even considered.   Someone I love recently reminded me that there are good things and good people to be found everywhere.  I'm totally hanging onto that hope as we gear up for yet another big move.

Our current house has now been on the market for 43 days, and it doesn't appear to be in a hurry to sell.  And guess what...I'm now feeling a little bit anxious to get on with this move already.  All of my reluctance and dragging of feet has been replaced with restlessness and impatience.  We've gone to dinner with all the people we really like...some of them multiple times.  We've seen and done all the things that were on our Dallas bucket list.  As of this Sunday, every member of our family will have spoken or sung in church, and also taught lessons in every class.  We've prepared a missionary, and next Wednesday she'll be on a plane headed for Europe for 18 months.  We have a beautiful house patiently waiting for us in Birmingham.  Craig loves his new position at work.  And we're all growing tired of his 600 mile commute every week.  

So...what is left for us to do here?   I have no idea.   

I'm sure there's some personal lesson in all of this about giving up control, and trusting in the Lord's timing, and of course patience...because apparently I always need opportunities to practice that.  For now, I'm working hard on enjoying the moments while we're still here, because there are a lot of them to enjoy.  Being impatient for the next adventure in our lives doesn't diminish the gratitude and love I have for the one we're wrapping up.  And it makes me think of all the previous chapters in our lives that have woven together to make a pretty amazing story.  I have loved pieces of every place we've ever lived, some more than others.  There are people and memories that are indelibly written on my heart, and our experience in Texas is no different.  Oh, how well we've been nurtured and taught here.  And how excited I am to see how Heavenly Father will use each of us in this next place we're headed to.  

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6