Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How To Turn Your World Right Side Up

Like most people, I have days, weeks, or even months when things don't seem to go my way.  Sometimes I feel like I put my foot in my mouth every other minute, or I get headaches or shoulder aches.  Perhaps something I really want to have happen just doesn't, or people I love are struggling and I don't know how to help.  There are even times when I have had my world turned upside down by frustration or anger.  There are so many reasons our worlds can tip over that I can't count them.  However, I have been surprised to find that, no matter how the problems vary, the answer is often the same.  The answer is gratitude.  Gratitude doesn't always right my world 100 percent, but it always starts it tilting in the right direction.

This may seem too simplistic, but it really is extremely helpful for me to remember what I do have instead of counting what I don't.  It's nice to be thankful for the times I didn't stick my foot in my mouth, and the times that I do feel good.  I am thankful for modern medicine, and people who help me lift my loads, whatever they may be.  I am thankful that if I don't know what to do to help someone I can pray, and get inspiration, or at least leave the problem with Heavenly Father who knows better!  What a blessing! 

Sometimes my world has felt upside down and I have not known why.  On these occasions I go to the temple and find that, when praying for help, it is usually the gift of gratitude that I am given and it is such a generous and helpful gift!  I come away remembering that I am loved, and blessed.  Gratitude always makes my problems seem a lot smaller.

There are days when I want to feel grateful, but I struggle.  I find myself giving thankful prayers like this:  "Thanks for the kids, but I wish they would clean up more.  Thanks for the food, but I wish someone else would make it.  Thanks for the plants, but I wish the weeds wouldn't grow."  It becomes a little humorous in a tragic kind of way.  I think feeling grateful is a gift from heaven, and when we don't feel grateful we can ask for that gift, and then try our best to be thankful even if it is not given to us right away.  One thing I know for sure -- being grateful, or even trying to be grateful, will not make things worse.  It is very likely to turn your world right side up!

*Picture from google images

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fiercely Loyal: Christensen Reunion 2013

The Christensen Reunion is always packed with activities.  Derek's parents have 49 grandchildren and there are usually 22 adults.  This year Uncle Bryon couldn't come, but Trisa's Travis came and so the number of people was the same.  I can't possibly adequately recap the reunion, but I can share a few of my favorite moments, and the ridiculously few pictures I took.

I liked Devin's devotional about Sir Thomas Moore and being fiercely loyal to what we know to be right.  Devin is always interesting, easy to hear, and articulate, with a bit of amusing thrown in for good measure.  I also liked his prayer for those working at night in the cherry industry since he was saying it for Kayli's benefit. 

I liked going for a walk at night up at Derek's parent's cabin with Derek and some of our kids and some of Megan and Leon's kids while Leon went down to retrieve a key we needed to get in.  I also liked that Leon energetically played a game with the kids even though it was late, making things more fun for them.

I really enjoyed watching Derek entertain his nieces this reunion.  It was so fun to watch them get really close up to him and argue whatever silly statement he had just made.  They giggled and laughed and it was fun to watch.

I love that the aunts and uncles love my children and care about what is happening in their lives -- it makes my children's lives better and I am so thankful that they have such good role models to turn to for a listening ear, and advice.

I liked that Travis jumped right in and helped with as many things as he could, and that he and Trisa were happy.

I enjoyed watching the music videos that we were assigned to make.  I was NOT thrilled to make one, but we ended up laughing really hard when we watched it, and we enjoyed all of the others too.

Finally, Connor and Porter challenged their Aunt Megan, who is a terrifically good sport, to a dance off.  Connor and Porter learned Napoleon Dynamite's dance, and Megan ended up recruiting some nieces to dance to the Minion's version of YMCA.  That was fun!  Dan added himself to her group too -- he couldn't resist doing a few moves!
 Aunt Megan -- Dance off Queen
 Good Uncle Derek trades hats with Sara
 Sara is in pink with Derek's hat
 Tyler carrying everyone's snacks for the hike.
 Trisa modeling our reunion tee shirt.
 Laura and Mandy having a chat in the woods.
 Mandy watching the slide -- before her nephews drench her in a water war.
Connor (The Dance off King) at the bottom of the huge slide.
On Saturday we had a devotional about being fiercely loyal to our country and its founding principles, and had a great "adult discussion" about communication and loyalty in marriage led by Doran.  All of these things are helpful, and enjoyable.  I think it is easy to be fiercely loyal to such a terrific family!

An Engaging Reunion

The Christensen Family Reunion was held July 18, 19, and 20th.  On Friday the 19th, after the rest of us left Grandma's house to go home for the night, Travis Sonderegger asked Trisa to marry him.  After she said yes he put the beautiful engagement ring on her finger that they had spent the day shopping for.  They will be married December 20th at the Mount Timpanogas Temple.
I didn't remember to take any pictures of them myself, but Travis had Connor take a couple and he (Travis) sent them to me.  They had a happy time together, and since they live about five hours away from each other right now, December seems far away.  Hopefully the time will pass quickly for them.

Happy engagement to my beautiful Trisa!  The years sure flew by quickly for me. The day after they got engaged I woke up with the words to The Circle of Life from The Lion King running through my head -- "There's far too much to take in here"!  I need to figure out how to be a good Mother of the Bride!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Grand Ole Opry

Here are some of the fun things we did at the Grand Ole Opry.  My sisters and I sang Blue Moon in a dramatic fashion.  Derek was in charge of the puppet show where Jeff was the hamburger, and Brian was the shark.  Ray, Jenny, Dan, and I had parts too.  Brian sang a couple of songs while accompanying himself on his guitar.  Some of my nieces and Kayli taught us a round and then did a musical number themselves.  We did some sing along numbers where everyone sang.  My sister-in-law Lori showed us some great pictures she had taken, and framed.  Kayli taught line dancing, Tina led the Hokey Pokey, and Jenny and Jeff wowed us with acro yoga.  I have a talented and fun family!  Here are some pictures complements of Lori and Tina.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Blessed Fuller Reunion

I love family reunions, but this year I seemed to look forward to the Fuller reunion with extra enthusiasm.  It sounded like a vacation.  Activities planned, great people to hang out with, and people to share in the menu planning, cooking, and cleanup.  The only disappointing thing for me was that Jenny did not feel well, but she is one impressive woman who somehow helped, kept a smile on, and even sang dramatically with Tina and me, even though she was feeling super lousy.

Dan, Hyrum, and Caleb.  Uncle Jeff is fun, and he has a backhoe to give boys rides in.
They loved it!

How many men does is take to get a go-cart running?
Three.  My Dad, and my brothers Brian, and Ray.  Much fun was had riding
the go cart around later.  Max, Jenny and Jeff's dog LOVES riding in the go cart!

 Dan fell asleep on his cousin Lauren's shoulder on the way to our Friday hike.
 These were some great hikers!  They were first to the waterfall.  Unfortunately,
with nobody to curb their enthusiasm, Caleb and Dan were soon sporting owies.
Hyrum was not hurt, except in his feelings.  He wanted to scale the walls like Spiderman
and his Mom thought it was a little dangerous in those shoes.  Poor boys!
 All children should have an uncle like Jeff.  Here he is with his boys Seth (in red) and Owen.
 Lauren, and Tina.  We weren't exactly all wearing the perfect hiking shoes!
 Can you find Kayli standing up high?
 I allowed Derek the great honor of taking my picture:)
Dan and Connor
Our reunion started on the 4th of July with a parade in Huntsville.  We enjoyed visiting during the day and went to the fireworks at night.  Besides these things, and the hike, we also had talks from both of my parents at different times, and a "Grand Ole Opry" at my Mom's request.  I'll write more about that later.  I had a terrific time and loved getting to visit with all of the family that could come.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Why THAT Goal?

I may have mentioned before that I hate running.  I have thought so for quite a number of years, and it seems to have been cemented in my mind since 9th grade track when I "ran" the half mile, and only placed if there were only three runners.  I barely could keep going for two laps, and I was miserable the whole time.  Then recently I found out that a friend of mine was starting to run, and had even managed to run a mile faster than ever.  My very small, but still existent, competitive side thought, "If she can do it -- so can I!"  So, I made a goal.  I would learn to run a mile.

I found a plan online.  It was supposed to help me learn to run a mile in four weeks -- running three days a week and cross training three days a week.  It did say that if you had troubles with one of the weeks, you should repeat that week before going on.  Off I went.  Week one was a breeze.  Run 1/4 of the track, walk 3/4 four times.  Week two was fine.  Run 1/2 track, walk 1/2 track for a mile.  I've actually lost track of where I became stuck, but more than once I ended up bawling because I just couldn't make it as far as I was "supposed" to.  I panic when I get too tired, and then my breathing becomes worse, and I can no longer convince myself it's possible to keep going.  With time I even discovered that I had to listen to fairly relaxing music to keep me calm as I ran.

After 7 weeks of consistent working I had still not run a mile.  I could torture my way through 1/2 mile, walk 1/4 track and run 3/4 track for the next two laps, but not more.  I tried.  I got a little farther, injured myself a bit, and started dreading running.  I kept at it, but with a different plan.  I would run intervals.  It turns out I kind of enjoy that.  I'm fine to run as long as I know I'll get to walk a little sometimes.  So, finally on Monday I decided that I would run a mile -- but with a little walking every lap.  There is more than one way to run a mile!  Maybe one day I will actually manage to run a mile without ever walking, or maybe not, but I do not regret trying.  It's hard to learn what we can do if we never try!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Persisting in Performing

I remember the first time I performed a flute solo at church.  It was a disaster.  Looking back, it was at least a somewhat funny disaster.  I was SO nervous.  Our congregation was small; maybe 50 people, but they were all staring at me!  As I played I started shaking so hard that my flute was bouncing off of the place below my lips where it is supposed to go.  The sound could not have been good.  I could hear a child in the back of the room say, "Mom, why is her flute bouncing up and down?" and the Mom quietly trying to explain that it was because I was nervous.

Another time I decided to do a duet with a friend for a stake talent show.  It was the same song as I did for the solo, but with a duet part.  We had the piano playing too, just to help us not be so nervous.  My friend lost her spot in the music after a couple of measures, and so while I played two pages myself she asked over and over in a frightened voice, "Sherie.  Where are we?"  It is impossible to keep playing the flute and use your hand to point, and I figured somebody had to keep going!  So, that didn't turn out too well either, but it also provides me with a few chuckles.

After these disasters in performing, people might wonder why I ever did it again.  The truth is, I have learned that if I agree to perform, I am way more likely to practice.  This can help me improve my talent, or at least keep up what I have.  I have also learned that the more I perform, the easier it gets -- though I never find it really easy.  I eventually learned that if I found something to smile about while I was playing, my flute wouldn't bounce around, even though I can still feel my whole body quaking!  People are generally kind, and I notice my mistakes more than anyone else.  Since I mostly play at church, I like to pray that the music I play will help people to feel the Holy Ghost, and doing this generally gives me the help I need to do well enough. 

I have other "war" stories of performing, like the time I got done playing, sat down in front of the congregation, and cried the entire rest of the meeting.  Or the time I agreed to play a piano solo and it turned out that the week before, Derek was made Bishop, I found out we were not going to have a baby, I had a D and C, attended a family reunion, and played the solo in front of lots of extra family, and with Derek being the Bishop for the first time.  I have never had my legs shake so badly in my life and I found it to be a miracle that I was able to play the song at all.  I even kept going when I got lost and didn't miss the last note like I am prone to do. 

There have been good experiences and I learned something every time.  I love music, and I have found it to be a blessing that I have been able to persist in performing, even though it is hard.