Monday, May 15, 2023

Where's Adrie? ๐Ÿ˜„

Hello out there! Is anyone still reading Enthusiastic Fantastic these days? ๐Ÿ˜„ I totally wouldn't blame you if you're not because I've taken such a ridiculously long break from blogging! While I'd like to feel shocked that I haven't blogged since 2021, I'm not. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Taking an extended blogging break definitely didn't happen on purpose, life just kept me more busy than I ever planned on! So, here are some updates:

Way back on June 27th, 2021, I was called/sustained to be my ward's new Primary President! And now I've officially been in this calling for 22.5+ months! Oh my goodness, say what?! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ That was an event I definitely wasn't planning on, but it was in the back of my spiritual mind for a few years. Yes, I'll just admit that I totally saw this Primary President calling coming—just like I saw the Young Women President calling coming to me when I lived in Texas!

In Texas 2012, I received that almost-unbelievable spiritual prompting/knowing several minutes before the calling of Young Women President was extended to me in my bishop's office. This time around, I felt that I would eventually be my ward's Primary President, but I wasn't sure exactly when it would happen. I guess the Lord wanted me to have ample time—years, in fact—to prepare spiritually for when this calling actually came.

Thus, I've been very busy with everything the Primary President calling entails. It's been such a beautiful, marvelous experience ๐Ÿ˜‡ and I wouldn't change it for the world(!)—but it definitely keeps me looking at my Google calendar! ๐Ÿ˜„ Thank goodness for electronic alerts to keep me on target because I would be lost without them!

Just before I was called to be my ward's Primary President, Greg and I decided to redo the entire outside of our house with new vinyl siding, and install new windows. It was an exhausting event that took up a lot of my time in terms of moving items around our house to make room for the workers (they needed access to the windows both inside and outside of the house), and meticulously cleaning up after the workers finished.

That said, it was a financial gift from Heaven that we were able to drastically improve our home—but it was definitely based on Greg's amazing work ethic. My incredible husband is an absolute work machine. He is unstoppable and I am beyond blessed to have him for my very own! ๐Ÿ˜ Cheesy? Yes. I am still 100% smitten in love with my handsome, intelligent, funny, wonderful Gregor! ๐Ÿ’–

Redoing our siding and windows completely wiped out our savings for quite a while—which was a bit of a scary situation to be in, but we're slowly rebuilding our reserves. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป Even though our remodel was extremely pricey—due to supply chain increases caused by the stupid COVID-19 pandemic (grrr ๐Ÿ˜ )—it was worth every penny! We have zero regrets about improving our happy home! Yay! ๐Ÿฅณ

Thankfully, our 70s house is no longer The Disco Dandy! Hallelujah! ๐Ÿ˜‚ I've now nicknamed our lovely little cottage Sunshine Blue! ๐Ÿ’™ I truly love the way it looks, and our triple-pane windows are more wonderful than I ever could have imagined! Plus, it's really helped us save money on our heating and cooling expenses! I had no idea what a huge difference new windows and siding make ๐Ÿคฏ—but I'm a believer now! ๐Ÿ˜

In 2021–2022, I was also a busy mama who made darn sure my youngest child finished out his senior year of high school well. All of my children are very strong willed, and my baby is no exception! ๐Ÿ˜…

Before he graduated from high school, I spent so much time, energy, sleepless nights ๐Ÿฅฑ, prayers, fasting, and tears on my baby boy—you have no idea. *If any of you didn't already know, teenagers are a lot of work! ๐Ÿ˜… Raising children is the absolute most rewarding endeavor ever ๐Ÿ’›, but it is serious business that takes everything you have and more!

After endless conversations, and many disagreements and frustrations, we finally came to an agreement that my wonderful, brilliant, charismatic, sweet, entertaining son would graduate early from high school. He was insistent on this point and would not relent because he had more than enough credits to graduate with honors. You can't debate a 3.89 cumulative GPA!

To my son, school was pointless, and there was no convincing him otherwise. There wasn't anything more I could say or do to persuade my darling boy to finish out his senior year strong. (We all have free agency.) He was completely done with high school and there was no going back. Thus, on April 11th, 2022, we had him put on home release for the rest of his senior year.

Thankfully, my handsome son still walked with his class at graduation(!), which was very important to Greg and especially me. I wanted our family (and a few extended family members who were actually willing to join us) to celebrate all of his hard work for so many years! ๐ŸŽ“๐Ÿ’š

When we talked with my youngest son's high school counselor, he validated that my son's high school experience was royally messed up (my words, not his) because of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the lockdowns and school closures really did a number on my baby boy's desire to have anything to do with school anymore. ๐Ÿ˜ข I'm very grateful for my son's counselor's kind, understanding heart! *And I will say boo forever to the stupid, unhelpful, unnecessary COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

One of the most unexpected events of the past three+ years happened on July 30th, 2022. My mom's new husband died without warning. ๐Ÿ’” There is so much I could write about all of it—it could be considered months of free therapy, but out of respect for my grieving mother, I will stay relatively silent for now.

Over the final 18 months of his life, I ended up occasionally texting with my mom's husband; I spoke on the phone with him exactly once for about 10 minutes; he was very kind to me. I never met my stepfather in real life. After he died, I finally ended up visiting my mom's new home and observing the bliss she moved to for her new husband. Seeing my mother's new life for the first time—that was ironically ending (there's no amusement in that, whatsoever)—was surreal beyond words.

The unbelievably happy news is that in December 2022, my youngest child decided to enroll in one of our great local universities as a full-time student! ๐ŸŽ‰ He finished his first semester with straight 'A's!!! He's even continuing in their 2023 summer semester with a full schedule! This happening is an absolute miracle compared to what my wonderful son said at the end of high school. Suffice it to say, my husband and I are beyond thrilled that our beloved youngest child sees what the real world really is, and has now done a complete 180 in terms of furthering his education! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

I've also been a very busy piano teacher! I currently have 19 delightful piano students who keep me on my toes every week. I will possibly gain another three piano students in the near future, bringing up my total to 22. For quite a while over the past two+ years, I had 26 piano students! I absolutely love teaching piano to such wonderful children ๐Ÿ’›, and I'm so grateful that their fabulous parents want me in their children's lives ๐Ÿฅฐ, but teaching piano is also tiring. Keeping up with laundry, cleaning, organizing, shopping, paying bills, cooking, etc., also takes up a lot of my time—but of course it's always worth it! That said, my bathrooms are atrocious and seriously need to be cleaned! ๐Ÿ˜‚ Darn. Such is life.

One thing I will absolutely never give up is exercising six days every week. Yes, there are random days once in a great while when I have to skip working out one day, but for the most part, I hit my exercise-six-days-every-week goal and it feels super flippin' awesome! ๐Ÿคฉ I definitely stay healthier and my clothes fit nicely because I continually workout. ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿป The fantastic benefits of physical exercise are truly endless!

Since March 2020, I spent a lot of my free time researching COVID-19, masks, and vaccines. I've wanted to do an epic All-Things COVID-19 blog post for years, but my research continued to be never-ending. Whenever I felt like I'd finally researched enough to write my post, I would inevitably stumble onto something new that I needed to research more!

Up until last week when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared officially over(!)/finished(!)/ended(!) ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ†๐ŸŽŠ, I'd been greatly concerned that if I write my true feelings here and share the many things/issues I've discovered/researched about COVID-19, masks, and vaccines, I would put my beloved blog in jeopardy. I never want to lose my favorite Enthusiastic Fantastic! I would literally cry if I ever lost my blog! ๐Ÿ˜ญ I was also concerned that if people I personally know and care about were to read my epic CV19 blog post, I would be ostracized in some way or many ways.

At one point in 2022, after doing a lot of research on free speech and many different social media platforms, I had decided that I would only be able to write my CV19 thoughts and discoveries on Substack. I planned to create my epic CV19 post, publish it on Substack, and share the link to it here on my blog. It really bummed me out that I had to do that, but I felt it must be done that way—that I had no other option because Google was actively censoring websites and users that went against the global COVID-19 narrative. I was sooo not pleased! ๐Ÿ˜  The fact that I felt I must be extremely careful with my words made me feel like we were (are we? ๐Ÿ˜ฌ) in a version of George Orwell's "1984"! The situation was beyond frustrating to my soul—and actually frightening to some extent.

Speaking of social media, I'm ecstatic that Elon Musk bought Twitter!!! ๐Ÿฅณ Hip hip hooray for free speech winning! ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿคฉ I've used Twitter a lot over the past two+ years to learn and study about things that I never would have found via regular search engines. Amazing Twitter users have been absolutely vital for my discovery and research! I'm 100% grateful that said amazing Twitter users were and are willing to put their reputations, careers, and livelihoods on the line to fearlessly make sure the whole truth is available for those who work to find it! ๐ŸŒŸ

Yes, I was happy beyond description that I was able to freely share my thoughts/feelings/research on Twitter, without worry/fear that Twitter would ban me for "misinformation." I'm so sick of self-righteous people who think they have the only authority to judge and enforce what is true, vs. what is misinformation—without even being open to any new information at all! It's so beyond stupid! ๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜ฃ

Basically, it's been an incredibly long time since I've felt that I have time to blog. I also didn't dare write what was in my heart for fear of censorship and losing said wonderful blog. ๐Ÿ’” I'm ecstatic that I finally feel like I not only have room in my life for blogging again, but I actually feel free and safe in writing all the things I've been researching/studying for the past three+ years! Yay! I've missed blogging so much, you have no idea!

There's absolutely no way I'll be able to write about all of the COVID-19 information I've researched over the past three years. But I will give my best efforts to document my family's and my personal experiences with all-things CV19! I'm excited, ready, and willing to do so! ๐Ÿฅณ

As we all know, there are times and seasons for everything. My incredible husband and our three beautiful children are the number one most important everything in my life ๐Ÿ’›—followed by my church, teaching piano, and exercising. *It's difficult to put exercising last in that lineup because working out is absolutely vital to me successfully fulfilling my life's mission. I would not be who I am if I didn't workout as much as I do!

In reflecting over the past three+ years, I have no doubt whatsoever that I've spent my time on the right things. I'm just very glad that blogging is getting some love, time, and attention again! Hip hip hooray for happy blogging days! ๐Ÿ’› Thanks for reading! I hope you have a very happy day! ๐Ÿ˜

Sunday, May 30, 2021

A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit

Hi hi! On November 29th, 2020, I spoke in my ward's sacrament meeting! Yay! It had been a while since I'd presented at our podium, so I was excited to be given the opportunity again! ๐Ÿ˜€

To prepare for my big 12(+/-) minutes, I spent a few days listening to General Conference talks and reading the scriptures. I had an overall idea of how I wanted my talk to go, but then came the time consuming part of putting it all together!

I spent about two days writing, reading, editing, and practicing my talk in my basement. It was a fun endeavor because I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church sooo much! ๐Ÿ’— But I was also tired while working on everything because Thanksgiving was the day before I actually started writing my talk; I was worn out from a busy week and a full day of cooking! #colormetired! ๐Ÿ˜‚

I felt the time crunch—hello adrenaline! ๐Ÿ˜—but finished writing my talk with plenty of time to get everything ready for Sunday morning—and I got to workout to one of my faaavorite fitness videos on Saturday night! Yeah yeah yeah! It was such a great workout, it made me smile my guts out! Plus, after sitting at my computer for pretty much two days straight, I needed some serious physical activity! On Friday morning, I went walking with Greg for 38 minutes and did stretching yoga for 40 minutes before I started writing, but by Saturday night I was super antsy to get my body moving!

And now, here's my talk! ๐Ÿ˜€

A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit

Adrie Peterson

In 3 Nephi 12:19, Jesus Christ teaches us, “And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”

In 3 Nephi 9:20, He further teaches, “And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost…”

At times, it may feel difficult to humbly approach our Savior with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Younger Saints might not know exactly what it means to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Others may wonder if it’s really necessary to possess either.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught that a broken heart is a repentant heart, and a contrite spirit is an obedient spirit—that “it is the gift of [ourselves]—what [we] are and what [we] are becoming.”

Elder Bruce D. Porter explained that “Those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit are willing to do anything and everything that God asks of them, without resistance or resentment. We cease doing things our way and learn to do them God’s way instead.”

In the Church’s Gospel Topics, the section on sacrifice describes a broken heart and a contrite spirit as “a willingness to repent of sins and a desire to follow Jesus Christ and align one’s life with His commandments.”

So why should we desire and strive for a broken heart and a contrite spirit? In our beautiful sacrament prayers, we are taught that if we “…are willing to take upon [us] the name of [Jesus Christ], and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given [us]; …[we will] always have his Spirit to be with [us].” That alone is a beautiful promise!

Yet in 2 Nephi 2:6–7, we are further taught that “…redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.”

Thus we see that in Jesus Christ’s extraordinary sacrifice of not only redeeming all of humanity—so that we may live eternally with our dearest loved ones—He is also willing to be with us spiritually each and every day of our lives! Through the spectacular gift of the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ can absolutely influence our lives for the best! We simply must freely give our whole hearts and souls to Him—and ultimately to our Heavenly Father—because as Jesus tells us in John 6:38, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”

Despite the marvelous promised blessings that come from giving ourselves so completely to the Lord, at times we may struggle.

In 3 Nephi 11:11, Jesus Christ gives us some pretty important reasons as to why we should not only want to give ourselves to Him, but why we should happily jump at the chance! He shared His perfect heart with us when he vulnerably said, “…behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.”

Wow. That clears things up pretty quickly, doesn’t it? Thinking of our perfect Savior suffering for the benefit of everyone makes His thought-provoking request not only logical, rational, and reasonable, but a true privilege and honor to willingly participate in.

So what does that mean for each of us individually? How do we implement this wonderful, life-changing idea into our lives? For a little more motivation, Elder Porter beautifully said, “The Savior’s perfect submission to the Eternal Father is the very essence of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Christ’s example teaches us that a broken heart is an eternal attribute of godliness. When our hearts are broken, we are completely open to the Spirit of God and recognize our dependence on Him for all that we have and all that we are. The sacrifice so entailed is a sacrifice of pride in all its forms. Like malleable clay in the hands of a skilled potter, the brokenhearted can be molded and shaped in the hands of the Master.”

I become a little teary when thinking of all the utterly unexpected ways I’ve been molded and shaped in my life by the hands of the Master. Every single experience I’ve been given has greatly improved my soul. I’m so thankful I’m willing and open to learn from all of my trials and challenges—for I absolutely would not be who I am today without them!

Elder Porter shared that “a broken heart and a contrite spirit are also preconditions to repentance,” and that “when we have received a forgiveness of sins, a broken heart serves as a divine shield against temptation.” The protection of a divine shield sounds pretty great to me! ๐Ÿ˜€

President David O. McKay taught (as quoted in President Thomas S. Monson's General conference talk), “There is one responsibility that no one can evade. That is the effect of one’s personal influence.” ๐Ÿ’› That is such a vital message for everyone! Our life missions are meant to be unique, but each of us has the glorious opportunity to make a significant difference in our world if we are simply willing to be fully open to what our Heavenly Father has in store for us.

Having a close relationship with our Heavenly Father through the Holy Ghost is yet another major reason to connect with Jesus Christ through our own broken spirits and contrite hearts. When we break down the walls surrounding our individual wills, we basically become unlimited in the ways Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can utilize us for the benefit of those within our circle of influence! It’s beyond exciting to think about how each of us can reach our highest potential and simultaneously bless the lives of others!

I absolutely love this thought that President Thomas S. Monson wanted each Latter-day Saint to internalize,

“The Redeemer chose imperfect men to teach the way to perfection. He did so then; He does so now. 
“He calls you and me to serve Him here below and sets us to the task He would have us fulfill. The commitment is total. There is no conflict of conscience. 
“As we follow that Man of Galilee—even the Lord Jesus Christ—our personal influence will be felt for good wherever we are, whatever our callings.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared a sweet story about a man he felt prompted to call to a stake presidency in Latin America. The brother owned a bicycle, but no automobile. Elder Holland said, “Many leaders across the Church don’t have cars, but I was nevertheless worried about what that might mean for this man in this particular stake. In my terminally-ill Spanish I pursued the interview, then said, ‘[Brother, don’t you have a car?]’ With a smile and not a second’s hesitation he replied, ‘[I do not have a car, but I do have feet and I do have faith.]’ He then said he could ride the bus, ride his bicycle, or walk…he smiled—‘like the missionaries.’ And so he does.”

We each need to remember that outside of the fundamental principles, ordinances, and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, don’t have a list of requirements as to how our lives should look. There is no standard checklist of worldly accomplishments or endeavors to which each of us should be checking boxes. Instead, we should individually be striving each day to be inspired by the Holy Ghost to live the lives that our Heavenly Father envisions for us—the ones that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected for! Our gift to Them in return is then following through on the inspiration we receive—regardless if we like the answer, or not.

In helping us achieve our goal of desired closeness to God and Jesus Christ through the Holy Ghost, Elder Christofferson wisely shared, “As a first step, you must lay aside any feeling of pride that is so common in the world today. By this I mean the attitude that rejects the authority of God to rule in our lives. …You hear it expressed today in phrases such as ‘Do your own thing’ or ‘Right and wrong depend on what I feel is right for me.’ That attitude is a rebellion against God…”

Throughout our wonderful marriage, Greg and I have experienced so many crossroads where we knew without a doubt that our Heavenly Father had different plans for us than what we wanted or expected. Each time we realized—through amazing spiritual confirmations—that our carefully prepared plans needed to change, there was inevitably a grieving period involved. Yet after we let ourselves mourn our wishes and dreams for a little while, we eventually came full circle and were in harmony with Heaven. Hindsight being 2020 (sorry, I couldn’t resist! ๐Ÿ˜„), we clearly saw each and every miracle that was brought into our lives simply because we followed the inspiration and revelation we received through the Holy Ghost. The simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ is truly beautiful!

One recent example of this happened in September 2019 when Greg was hired to do his
dream job. It was such a miraculous happening in our lives, there’s zero doubt that divine intervention was involved! Thus, we weren’t thrilled when a few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, Greg was notified that his salary would be reduced by 20%. Even worse, just one short, blissful week after his salary was returned and we thought life was happily trending toward “normal,” Greg’s company let their employees know of the upcoming merger with a competitor. They were transparent in the fact that every employee could possibly face a layoff.

At that point, I was beyond disappointed because Greg had already been through two major layoffs with previous companies—I knew all too well what could be coming to our family, and I was worried about the potential upheaval. I spent the next four months planning and preparing to the best of my abilities for the possibility that Greg would have to start all over again in his career for the third time.

As Greg and I patiently waited for the “layoff ball” to be dropped in our laps, we received a surprise knock at the door. It was our ward mission leader with our stake's two full-time missionaries! As we chatted with them, Greg shared that he was waiting to see if he would be laid off the next day. Our ward mission leader instantly got a sad look on his face for our situation. After we talked about it some more, I said to the missionaries, “…so please put us on your prayer list and pray that Greg keeps his job!” They enthusiastically agreed and said they would pray for us. We set up an appointment to do another Zoom meeting with the missionaries, and they went on their way.

What those kind men don’t know is our very happy history with the Church’s missionaries as a whole, and their positive influence in our lives. While Greg and I have always been so strong in our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church, we have still been helped by the missionaries throughout our time spent living in Colorado, Texas, and Utah. Thus, when the missionaries unexpectedly showed up on our doorstep the very night before Greg was to find out if he would keep his dream job or be laid off, we took it as a blessed sign from Heaven that regardless of the outcome, the Lord was aware of us and He had a plan for us. ๐Ÿ’›

The happy ending to that story is that Greg was one of the lucky ones who kept his dream job—for now. He knows that as the merger of his two companies continues, there is a possibility that his responsibilities and job title could look different. My heart aches for Greg’s coworkers and their families who didn’t experience the same positive outcome as we did. Yet in that same breath, I have full faith that there is a plan for each of those former employees, too. I know they will be cared for, led, and directed on the path the Lord has for them! While we never know what’s coming our way, we can and must have faith that we will be taken care of regardless of what happens.

This life is meant to challenge and change us for the best! ๐Ÿ’— One of our goals should include not only enduring life’s challenges, but enduring them well—to the best of our abilities. I wholeheartedly believe that if we are willing to stay close to our Heavenly Father by being dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ, we will not only become strong in our trials, but we can find joy as we struggle through our challenges.

As we choose to give our broken hearts and contrite spirits to the Lord, He promises us marvelous additional blessings found in Ezekiel 36:26, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Oh, how I love that scripture!

(Bear testimony.)

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. ๐Ÿ˜€


So, there you have it! I wish I would have finished writing this blog post sooner, as I've forgotten most of what happened after I gave this talk. In my defense, there has been a lot going on in our COVID-19-pandemic-mess-of-a-world, so I've been a little distracted over the past six months! ๐Ÿ˜„

I do remember that my talk was received positively, so that was a huge relief! I more than loved getting such kind text messages, phone calls, and emails from people who watched my talk (online and in person) and gained something beneficial from it. It really meant a lot to my happy soul! ๐Ÿ’›

Lastly, it's super fun that my official YouTube debut was giving this talk in my ward's sacrament meeting! Ha ha. ๐Ÿ˜„ Yay yay for all of this amazing technology that continually blesses our lives! I hope you have a wonderful day! ๐Ÿ˜

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Follow By Email

Happy Sunday, everyone! I originally came to my blog today—for the first time in a very long time—to post my sacrament meeting talk from several months ago. When I opened up Blogger, I saw that some changes had been made to my blog that I didn't approve of, which is super frustrating and confusing to say the least! #whattheheckGoogle?! While investigating what happened, I realized that Blogger is also making changes to the way some of you get alerted to my new published blog posts. Here's the official notice I received:

"FollowByEmail widget (Feedburner) is going away
You are receiving this information because your blog uses the FollowByEmail widget (Feedburner).
Recently, the Feedburner team released a system update announcement, that the email subscription service will be discontinued in July 2021.
After July 2021, your feed will still continue to work, but the automated emails to your subscribers will no longer be supported. If you’d like to continue sending emails, you can download your subscriber contacts. Learn how"

Boo. Thus, I went to Feedburner's site for the first time ever (how hilarious is that?!) and saw my email subscribers list. It was super fun reading the names of people who have subscribed to my blog—thinking of all of you totally warmed my heart! ๐Ÿ’› I sincerely thank you for subscribing to my little spot on this vast internet full of information that none of us will ever be able to fully digest!

I will look into other email subscription services that I can use after July 2021. If you're interested in receiving email updates for Enthusiastic Fantastic and you haven't already subscribed, please continue to subscribe via the "Follow By Email" box on the desktop version of my blog.

On July 31st, 2021, I will do one final check of my email subscribers on Feedburner to make sure I didn't miss anyone. After that, please use the "Contact Form" listed on the desktop version of my blog. You only have to include your email address—I don't need your name or a message if you don't want to send anything else.

Thank you again for reading! I know I've been very absent this past year, but I hope to be spending more time on Enthusiastic Fantastic in the near future! I hope you have a delightful Sunday! ๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Home Church and the Book of Mormon

Happy Sunday, everyone! ๐Ÿ˜ I hope you are all doing well on this lovely sabbath day! As with every Sunday, I have church on my mind! Boy oh boy, do I love all things related to church, spirituality, divinity, and religion! ๐Ÿ˜‡

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my family and I have mainly been doing home church since March 15th. That said, on May 19th (The 23rd anniversary of when my darling Gregor proposed to me!! ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ’–), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced: "we now authorize some meetings and activities to be resumed on a limited basis using a careful, phased approach." Yay yay happy day! Hip hip hooray! #clapclap ๐Ÿ‘

Thus, on June 21st, we so very happily celebrated our return to worshiping with our ward members in our actual church building! It was such an exciting event! We've been on a rotating schedule of doing home church on the first, second, fourth, and fifth (if applicable) Sundays of every month; we have in-person sacrament meetings with our wonderful ward members on the third Sunday of every month. Our second in-person sacrament meeting was this past Sunday, July 19th—it was so great, I loved it so much!

While I dearly miss regular in-person church, my family and I have been having some absolutely amazing and profound home church experiences together!

I began having my family focus our home sacrament meetings on the brilliant Come, Follow Me program that was introduced to the Church's membership in July, 2018. It's absolutely not a coincidence that the Church implemented their "home-centered, Church-supported" study program in January, 2019—one year before COVID-19 became a global pandemic. It's fully amazing that we had had an entire year of studying the Gospel of Jesus Christ at home together with our families in greater depth than we ever had before.

Talk about inspiration! ๐Ÿ’› They didn't know it at the time, but the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were unknowingly preparing Church members for the worldwide pandemic that would paralyze our entire planet just one year later. It truly blows my mind when I think of their level of inspiration! ๐Ÿคฏ

After the first couple of weeks of our family home church—consisting of opening and closing prayers, studying Come, Follow Me, and partaking of the sacrament, I felt greatly inspired to have us start watching the Book of Mormon Videos on one of The Church's YouTube channels. I told Greg of my feelings, and he agreed with me. Yay! ๐Ÿ˜

Each week after that, my family has had opening/closing prayers and partaken of the sacrament as usual, but I've now included having us watch and discuss a couple of Book of Mormon videos, followed with our stake leadership's weekly YouTube video message—which we've sometimes discussed, but sometimes those talks stand on their own and they haven't needed further discussion. Oh, and to make our experience even better, I signed into my YouTube account through our Roku YouTube app so we can watch the Book of Mormon together on our big-screen TV—which is so cool cool cool! ๐Ÿคฉ *Bonus points if you know what "cool cool cool" is from! ๐Ÿ˜„

It's been utterly astounding to me how greatly the Book of Mormon Videos have enhanced our home church! They instantly and fully bring the Spirit into our home! They give fresh insight, important context, and beautiful, tender feelings to the stories we've read and studied for years—I've had little tears while watching them more times than I can remember! ๐Ÿฅบ They show great examples to my family that I will be forever grateful for! ๐Ÿ’— And they always lead to wonderful, faith-filled, hopeful discussions about this life and eternity. They succeed at what movie makers for generations have tried to accomplish: positively impact audiences in ways they'll never forget! The Book of Mormon Videos evoke such depth of emotions that totally complement the way one feels while reading the actual book. ๐Ÿ“˜

I still absolutely love reading, studying, and listening to the scriptures. Watching the Book of Mormon Videos will never take the place of traditional scripture study by book. I know beyond any doubt that the Holy Ghost gives us the gift of vital truths when we sincerely read and study the scriptures. The holy scriptures are there for our benefit and use—every single day of our lives! Yet the Book of Mormon videos are one more brilliant way to really come to understand and love the messages that the Book of Mormon prophets, writers, and contributors are trying to convey and help us implement into our lives.

When I knew that the Lord wanted me to show all of the Book of Mormon Videos to my family, I decided to create a private playlist on my YouTube account. You see, The Church's YouTube channel has a ton of Book of Mormon Videos: longer videos, and snippet videos of particular stories that are also part of the longer videos.

While it's helpful to have so many excellent videos—especially for when you're teaching a specific principal found in the Book of Mormon, it's also a little confusing to know if you're re-watching snippet videos that you've already seen in the longer videos. Trying to navigate which videos my family should watch for our home church was a little time consuming; I clicked on too many videos, wondering if we should watch that snippet video, too, or if we'd already seen it.

Thus, I created my first-ever playlist on YouTube! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜ƒ You laugh, but that was quite the momentous occasion for me! It's taken me many years, but I am finally an active participant and huge fan of all the goodness that YouTube has to offer. And of course, I stay away from all the weirdo, strange, and trashy videos out there. #nothankyou! ๐Ÿ‘Ž

I'm sooo grateful to my beloved church and its participating members for creating such lovely, spiritual masterpieces that will positively affect countless souls and bless humanity forever! Or, at least for as long as technology survives! ๐Ÿ˜„

I can't wait until all of the Book of Mormon Videos are completed and released! 2021 can't come soon enough, and it's not just because we want the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic to finally end! Ha ha. I hope that The Church will one day release a full-length Book of Mormon Movie with all of their fabulous videos rolled into one big cinematic masterpiece for the world to enjoy in movie theaters! Wow, can you imagine how spectacular that would be?! ๐Ÿ˜

But back to the inspiration of The Church's leadership...again, I'm amazed at the perfect timing of the release of the Book of Mormon Videos. They were given to us exactly when we needed them: less than six months before COVID-19 upended our lives. Just wow. I'm super thrilled that even more of their wonderful videos are coming ๐Ÿ‘—they will continue to support and inspire us through these crazy changes we're experiencing on nearly a daily basis! #pandemicfatigue ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

Today, I decided it was time to release my playlist publicly(!) so that others can enjoy it, too! Yay! I reviewed all of the videos in my playlist, and they are all up to date. ๐Ÿ‘ I'll update my playlist every time The Church releases a new video.

Without further ado, here is my beloved playlist of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ! I dearly hope you'll press play many times and let your soul go on a life-changing journey that will bring you joy! ๐Ÿ˜‡ 

*As with anything, having the right mindset before participating in an activity makes all the difference. If you can watch the Book of Mormon Videos with an open heart and mind, your experience will be that much better. I highly recommend praying before watching them for the first time: pray that your heart and mind will be open to the Spirit; pray that you'll understand and internalize the many great truths being offered; pray that your soul will be willing to make those changes that will bless your life and others; pray that you'll have a soft heart toward things you might not understand or agree with.

Please know that I love The Book of Mormon with my whole heart and soul! It has been a fixture in my life for as long as I can remember. Yet I'm most definitely not simply just a "blind" follower of my religion. I have spent uncountable hours upon hours studying, researching, and praying about all things related to Heaven. I have spent my entire life desiring to be extremely close to God, our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ—the literal Savior of our world and all of God's children. I have done everything possible to cultivate a working, successful relationship with the Holy Ghost who allows me that closeness with Them and Their angels. I continually choose to allow Them into my life to influence me for good—even though the outcome of whatever comes my way might not be exactly what I wish for or desire at the time. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are two of the most important aspects of my life and who I fundamentally am—I love them and refuse to ever be separated from them! As the saying goes: I am true blue, through and through! ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ˜Š

Photo Credit: Gospel Media Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Finally, I must share this fascinating tidbit: as I was writing this blog post today, I received an email from my ward's clerk. In it, our ward was told about our new in-person sacrament meeting schedule. Much to my delight, my ward now gets to meet more often than we have in the month of June and July! Yay! We're not back to in-person sacrament meetings each and every Sunday, but I'm so grateful we get to at least meet together twice a month now! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜€

Some may be skeptical, but I truly believe my ward's news that was delivered today is a beautiful tender mercy just for me! Yes, this updated sacrament meeting schedule will benefit our entire ward, but today's announcement was an incredible reminder to me that my Heavenly Parents, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost dearly love me and are very aware of the desires of my heart! And yes, I am super cheesy today! Okay, let's be realistic: when am I not cheesy?! ๐Ÿ˜‚ I can't help but relish the overwhelming feelings of love from Heaven that are sent directly to me. And it feels really good. ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’›
"But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."
*If you'd like to read, listen to, and study the Book of Mormon in its entirety, download the app! ๐Ÿ˜€

If you'd like to read the Book of Mormon online, please click here and have a happy day! ๐Ÿค—

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

What Are We to Learn From This?

Hello, it's me! Yes, I'm still here nearly 11 months after my previous blog post! I actually began writing this post in February 2020—before the unbelievable COVID-19 pandemic put our entire planet on hold. Then there was the little matter of the 5.7 earthquake and thousands of aftershocks we've experienced here in Utah. And now we're watching protests galore unfold across America and some parts of the world. ๐Ÿ˜ข

To some, this post might seem a little odd to share at this point in our history. Yet I'm publishing what I wrote anyway because I took the time to write it, and I enjoy remembering our lives pre-pandemic, pre-earthquake, and pre need for current protests—because, yes, I dearly wish there were no racism, no inequality, and no injustice anywhere in our world! I want everyone to feel safe, secure, protected, loved, cared for, etc. ๐Ÿ˜”

Before I continue, please rest assured that everything is great in my little world. ๐Ÿ˜ I am so happy, healthy, and loving my days at home with my husband and children! My life is truly beautiful! That said, let's take a little trip to where I've been for the past several years outside of my happy life with Greg and our adorable children...

There's no easy way to start this, so I'll just dive in: In September 2019, my one and only mother married a man that I've never met! And she specifically chose not to tell any of her children, extended family members, or friends that she was going to marry him! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ My mom never told a single soul about her wedding plans outside of the man she married and the Nauvoo Temple staff!

There were no cleverly worded invitations, no exciting wedding preparations for my mother's children, grandchildren, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, siblings, etc., to be involved with. There was no beautiful wedding experience, no reception, nor any kind of happy celebration to enjoy for the people who love and support her. There were no cheesy, adoring, or artistic photos snapped. There are no videos of the "blessed day" to be enjoyed or laughed at by my mother's posterity. There hasn't been any sort of anything that we could happily post to any of our social media accounts. That said, my mom's new husband's family threw them a marriage celebration in Hawaii a few months after their wedding—but none of my mom's family or extended family were invited...including not me. ๐Ÿ˜ข

I found out that my mom married said-man-that-I've-never-met eight days after her wedding and sealing was finalized in the Nauvoo Temple! Adding insult to injury, I found out about my mom's wedding/sealing from my sister—and my sister found out all of that information through a text that my mom sent to my sister and brother! ๐Ÿ˜ฃ In my mom's somewhat-defense, she emailed me about her wedding/sealing the very next day after she texted my brother and sister. My mom claims that technology issues were to blame as to why I didn't receive her life-altering text, but the situation hurt my heart more than I can ever express. Because—Hello!a phone call would have been nice!!! Even now as I read what I wrote, I still cannot believe that my mother did all of that!

Prior to her new marriage, my mom lived off-and-on in her now-husband's house (she had her own separate bedroom) in a different state from us, for about four+ years. So my siblings and I were dealing with all of those continuing challenges even before our mother's unsettling elopement.

While I won't go into great detail, just know that my mom and I were extremely close emotionally speaking before all of this happened. Unfortunately, things have absolutely not been the same between my mother and me since October 2013. It's been such a rough six+ years, you have no idea! I could go on and on and on with maddening details of my childhood family's situation. I could literally write for endless hours about the frustrations, turmoil, heartache, bad dreams, etc., that my mother's actions have caused. I'm sorry if this is too vague for some of you, but there are many things that are too private to share...just don't let your imagination get the better of you.

Suffice it to say, after praying, studying, and researching innumerable articles, podcast episodes, videos, devotionals, and books by wonderful licensed therapists, happy life coaches, amazing religious/spiritual leaders, incredible motivational speakers, uplifting TED Talks, inspiring holy scripture verses, etc., and talking things through with my childhood family and extended family members, friends, and especially my most precious husband, Greg ๐Ÿ’–, I am finally at a point where I'm able to somewhat deal with my mother's new life. *But I'll never support nor condone her actions of marrying without including anyone in her joyful occasion besides her new husband. #noiwillnot! ๐Ÿ˜’

All of that said (yes, there's more ๐Ÿ˜…) I will never be able to fully express how devastating my mother's actions have been to me, nor can I adequately convey how difficult it was for me to get through those first four+ months after my mom's elopement. And I thought the previous five+ years had been rough! Ha! Unfortunately, they were just the prelude to my childhood family's new reality that repeatedly smacked us in the face like a dying fish out of water! ๐ŸŽฃ

While I'm thankful I've mostly turned the corner in terms of coming to accept the shocking reality of my mom's new life—and trying to get used to the spoken-and-unspoken conditions that have been established by her (many of which I absolutely don't agree with)—getting to this point was only possible because of untold hours of researching, listening, talking, writing, praying, and many tears. Even after all of that work, it was only after I realized that I had a version of relationship PTSD—that those in the psychology world define as mother wounds—that I was finally able to pick myself up and start moving forward. I'm so thankful I was finally able to begin grieving my mother and find a way to "deal" with her choices!

Yet as much as I thought I've been making great progress these past additional four+ months, just three nights ago, I had a doozy of a dream that showed just how much my subconscious is still struggling big time with my mother's new life. I was stunned at how revealing and truth-filled my dream was! It makes me tear up when I think about it—but again, I must keep moving forward.

Even last week, my brother, sister, and I had a group text going where we shared our grief at missing our mom and wondering when we would ever get to see her in person again—and it has nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, as our mother and her new husband are vacationing in another state...that is not where her children live!

To illustrate just how much mothers mean to their children throughout their entire lives, please read this section from The Science of Happiness Podcast, Episode 66—it's a great listen:

Rebecca Vitali-DeCola: My father’s mother died in childbirth with him. And in our first set of questions, there was a question about, like, if you could change one thing about your childhood... ...Anything about the way you were raised. What would it be?

Joe DeCola: My mom. Yeah. I really think she would have been really an interesting woman.

Rebecca Vitali-DeCola: Yeah.

Joe DeCola: And a really good thing in my life.


Rebecca Vitali-DeCola: [His mom] was so central in his narrative. There was a moment, and I think in set three, I think where it’s like, "If your apartment is burning and you can get all the people you love out and pets out of it, but you had to, like, go back for one material item, one possession. Like, what would you run back for in a fire?" And he said "This, you know, photograph I have of my mom." And yeah, I mean, I just kept crying. I could not stop crying, listening to him talk. And I didn’t know that. I mean, and that’s very significant. So, yeah, that was a revelation. It was just really poignant. He’s you know, he’s 82 and he never met her. And she still occupies such an important part of his life and consciousness.

Oh, how that story tugs at my heart strings! ๐Ÿ˜ฅ It's amazing that an 82-year-old man can still miss his mother that much! It makes me feel better knowing that my siblings and I aren't the only ones who are so attached to their mom. Mothers and fathers really do make the world go 'round!

Obviously, there are many sides to every story. My mom has her version of her dating/marriage story, too. My entire childhood family and my mom's siblings each have their individual perspectives about what occurred with my mom's new relationship and marriage.

*So, to anyone reading this blog post, just know that I dealt with my mom's situation in the best ways I knew how—and I was always trying to improve myself while processing everything! I tried so very hard throughout the past six+ years to do and be the best that I could for my parents, siblings, and myself. Regardless of anyone else's life experiences, no one can ever fully understand what I've been through, so I hope you will proceed with compassion and empathy toward me. My broken heart thanks you. ๐Ÿ˜”

While working through my issues with my mom's elopement and her new marriage, I pondered various coping mechanisms I could utilize. One of the best ways for me to process life is by writing. Yes, journal writing is always a great idea, but blogging is my absolute favorite! ๐Ÿ’›

Thus, I felt a strong desire to share my thoughts and feelings about my "mother issues" through my blog. I even drafted a few blog posts about my mom and her situation over the past year+ (including before she eloped), but they remain unpublished. After being reprimanded by my sister because she felt a blog post about nearly everything in our situation was too hurtful, I decided to do more research.

Not publishing my previous blog drafts about my mother and her dating/marriage situation was probably a good idea. It's no surprise that I can be feisty and "cutting" with my words if I want to. Most of the time, my words are lovely, uplifting, and kind. But I was so emotionally hurt by my mother that I was more than ready to let my pain and suffering explode like words spewing from the Hoover Dam! #noshame! Oh, the stories I could tell would make your head spin! Even though it would have felt really great to unload my feelings like that, it's probably best that I didn't publish my explosive sentences! ๐Ÿ˜„

While researching, I was so happy to read in several online sources that many experts state that sharing our personal stories is super helpful for each of us. Sharing our stories really does make us better people and might even help others learn something new in the process! I immediately felt relief and decided to compose a blog post that served not only my emotional healing, but one that could possibly help prevent others from making some of the mistakes I've endured (due to others' choices) over the past several years. Yay for story sharing days! ๐Ÿ˜

By the way, it feels incredibly great to finally be blogging again! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป I've wanted to blog about endless topics over the past few years, but I was so torn up inside about the situation with my mom that I just couldn't go there. Plus, I spent quite a bit of my free time trying to process everything, so I truly didn't have it in me to blog about all of my issues until now. I'm so happy to be posting on Enthusiastic Fantastic again! ๐Ÿ˜

Here's what I've learned from my childhood family's issues—from my earliest memories, to literally today—in no particular order:
  • If you are a parent, you must be the parent for your child no matter how old you or your child are. Don't "reverse" the roles of parent and child! Every child needs and deserves their parents until the day they die. Even in the afterlife (I believe in the postmortal spirit world), parents should be watching over and helping their children to the extent possible. I truly believe the role of parent continues throughout eternity. *A sweet example of parents always being there for their children in the proper parenting roles was shown in episode 10, season 6 of Madam Secretary. Stevie (First Daughter) is sitting between her parents, Elizabeth (Madam President) and Henry (First Gentleman), in the presidential limousine on the way to her wedding:
Elizabeth: So sweet of you, by the way, to drive with Dad and me. That means a lot. It's very sweet. Thank you.
Stevie: Yeah, well, I, um...I thought that it would give us a chance to talk.
Henry: Absolutely, What's on your mind?
Elizabeth: Listen, sweetheart, no matter how old you get or how many kids of your own you have, you can always come to us with anything, about anything.
The scene continues in funny banter between spouses, parents, and child, but it fully illustrates the point that parents should remain a significant, devoted source of comfort, safety, and love throughout their child's life. *As a side note, I'm super bummed that Madam Secretary was canceled! ☹
  • Regardless of how your child is acting/behaving, you must always show up as your child's parent! Unless a parent has a significant impairment that prevents them from understanding that they are a parent, parents should always rise above and be the good parent their child deserves. *If you have questions as to how to be a good parent, take the necessary time to learn, be humble enough to make needed changes, and then continually put forth your best efforts to become the wonderful parent your child deserves. It's never too late! Start today! Change happens the instant you decide!
  • Realize how incredibly important you are to your child. There is nothing that can ever replace the importance of a parent in a child's life. Parents are absolutely paramount! Of course, nearly every child will one day create their own life, but they still need their parents no matter their age or the level of success they achieve!
  • Create good, healthy relationships and support systems within your family, friends, and community. Then, when you're struggling—because we all struggle at times throughout our lives—make sure you reach out to that support system you've created to help you work through your issues. Never put your child in the role of "therapist" unless they are a fully grown adult who is happily established in their own life. Even then, use caution with how much you rely on your child; keep your child as your first priority in your relationship with them. If you're really in a jam and can't seem to unscramble the mess, find a well-credentialed therapist who will help you figure everything out—it will benefit you, your entire family, and your posterity.
  • Give your loved ones a heads up if you are going to elope! There is never any excuse good enough to justify not sharing your upcoming wedding news with those closest to you. That doesn't mean you need to include people in your wedding day specifically, you can totally have a private wedding, but you should definitely clue them in as to what's about to happen! *I recently read this lovely story about an older couple that found true love during the COVID-19 pandemic. I ate up every word about the darling couple and daydreamed about how amazing it would have been if my mom had simply given me the opportunity to somehow be involved in her engagement and wedding. ๐Ÿ˜ข
  • Do your utmost best in choosing your spouse. Look at every characteristic possible to determine if you two are a match. Spend ample time fully communicating about everything relevant to your future marriage and family. Don't leave any topic to chance! You don't want to discover a deal-breaker after you've already made the serious, life-changing commitment to your spouse. Then, do everything within your power to help create and sustain a happy, loving, long-term marriage and family! Marriage depends on both spouses continually giving their very best to each other—including forgiveness! ๐Ÿ’›
  • Unless there is abuse happening, stay married to your chosen spouse! Love each other wholeheartedly, unselfishly, and unconditionally throughout this life and into the next! Your first spouse should be your only spouse! Divorce should be your very last option after every other resource has been exhausted. Only resort to divorce if your marriage is truly "dead" beyond recovery. For further thoughts on this, please read this wonderful talk, "Divorce," by Dallin H. Oaks. *I fully understand there are certain situations that warrant divorce. I'm not saying that divorce should never happen. I'm just saying that every couple should try their very best to make their marriage happy, healthy, and loving, and then stay married!
So, where am I emotionally today? Well, I'm feeling a lot better compared to the emotional "bomb" I experienced in September, 2019, that's for darn sure! Obviously, blogging isn't the perfect answer to work through issues, by any means, but writing out and sharing my story has definitely helped—so thank you for reading! ๐Ÿ˜Š

I still haven't met my new stepfather (not even virtually or via phone call!) and I don't know if or when that will happen. That feeling totally sucks, but I'm getting used to it. I know...that's complete and utter craziness, but it's the truth.

Now, on to a few happier things:

The fantastic news is, I've paid to have my domain name remain active for Enthusiastic Fantastic through 2029! Woohoo and yippee skippee! I find great satisfaction in knowing that my blog will live on for at least another nine+ years—it gives me true joy! ๐Ÿคฉ

And I must share these happy photos that my children took of Greg and me on Mother's Day, 2020! My children know that one of the very best gifts they can give me are photos! ๐Ÿ“ธ Greg, our three darlings, and I spent quite a bit of time posing and taking photos as my main Mother's Day gift. We had the best time together! ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’œ

I'm so very thankful for my amazing family—that literally exists because Greg and I fell eternally in love! ๐Ÿ˜ Greg and I are 100% committed and faithful to each other, and I'm beyond grateful that our family reaps the benefits of our happy, healthy marriage every single day!

Greg & Adrie Peterson ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’› 05/10/2020 ๐Ÿฅฐ

Greg and I were acting like robots for this one! #robotdancers! Ha ha ๐Ÿ˜‚


Things are getting a tiny bit better in my childhood family. I've had a smidgen of contact with my new stepfather—both through kind holiday/birthday cards and gifts, and a couple of text messages. But no, I still haven't met him in person, nor have I talked with him over the phone or even virtually. I really don't know if or when any of that will ever happen, and it's confusing.

My mom and I have had several more talks via phone call and the Marco Polo app; we're working on this new normal of our family dynamic. I'm bummed I haven't seen her in one-and-a-half years, and I don't know if/when I'll see her in person again. ๐Ÿ˜” Overall, it's still a difficult situation for me, but the difficulty has lessened a little as time passes. I wish I had better news for this unbelievable situation, but it is what it is!