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!