Monday, April 30, 2012

Forever Indebted and Grateful

Our Sunday School lesson last Sunday was on Mosiah chapters 1-3. Scott and I have made a great effort to read the chapters together before we receive the lesson each week to be more prepared for personal inspiration and understanding. It has made all the difference.

The concept that stuck out to me this last week was one that I have always known, but saw in a different light.

We are forever indebted to God.

Of course we are. I already knew this. He performed the atonement for us and gave of His life so that we might be able to repent.

Our indebtedness, however, goes much deeper than that. It says in Mosiah 2:23... "... in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him."

So before the atonement was performed, He first gave us of our life and breath to begin with.

In Mosiah 2:24 it says... "And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever..."

It's rather ironic. We try to repay our Savior by doing as He has commanded us to do, but every time we keep His commandments, He immediately blesses us, therefore increasing our debt to him. One might look at being in debt to someone as a negative thing, but in this case, the debt is good. We keep His commandments, He blesses us ten fold. We keep another commandment and our blessing thus increase.

So in a way, the more in debt we are, the better. It means we are doing as the Lord commands and He is blessing us in return. It's a win, win situation. The best part of the deal is that the Lord doesn't expect us to make good on the debt, because that is impossible. Does a parent keep tally of all they do for a child as they are growing up and expect the debt to be repaid? No. A parent gets repaid by having the child make wise choices and living a righteous and worthy life. All we must do is keep trying to repay the debt and we will be blessed beyond our wildest dreams.

I am a child in this life... a child to my Heavenly Father. I am grateful that I will be forever indebted to Him. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Closing a Chapter

When I got married, I moved away from Utah and I said goodbye to my career of being a classroom teacher with a classroom of my very own. I was THRILLED for the cause of my departure, but leaving what has been my world for the last 9 years was... well... hard.


One of my rocking chair friends, who also happens to be a fellow teacher and is pictured above, also recently closed the door on her life as a classroom teacher to be a mom... ANOTHER wonderful reason for departure.

I remember reading a blog post that she wrote shortly after packing up her classroom. She described the feelings that brewed within her as she packed up that portion of her life. Wow... I don't think I could have said enough "Amen's" to her sentiments. She spoke of the battle of condensing years of grinding, molding and polishing into a few files boxes and how the really valuable stuff (the stuff that makes a difference) couldn't be given away. The valuable stuff is...


"trapped somewhere in the universe of personal effort.  Sure, some of it can be imitated, but the rest can only be seared in the soul through one’s personal effort. So I was left with this beautiful, painstakingly and lovingly created masterpiece—this teacher—and nowhere to put her. She’s to be thrown into the fire, melted and crafted into something else, and for a little while the thought of it hurt... for a second I searched frantically for somewhere to put that teacher, or some way to infuse everything that she was into someone else, but it was impossible. She’s simply got to be remolded."

This is how I felt. I couldn't have said it better... (hence the quote)...

I put my heart, soul, blood and money into my occupation as a teacher. I worked hundreds, or more likely thousands of hours beyond contract time in my 9 years as an educator  and then I said goodbye all in one fell swoop, including giving away probably 75% of my "teacher stuff"... that literally was a compilation of my heart, soul, blood and money.

I was extremely lucky to get a fantastic teacher to replace me... one that I knew would love the kids and love her place as an educator. I even had the chance to mentor her as a student teacher before she took over.

However, it was hard to shake the feeling of being replaced. I started to wonder if I actually made a difference and what value I actually served in my slot as an educator throughout my nine years. Then I started to fear that I would just be forgotten like one forgets a five dollar bill in your jeans pocket.

Then a few different things happened that helped these fears finally be cast aside...

First... I got a letter from a student that was in my class my first year of teaching. She is is a senior this year and is nearing graduation. She thanked me for all that I had done for her as a fourth grade student and in no uncertain terms let me know that she cared AND had not forgotten me.

Then... I went to Utah. I was walking out of a movie theater with my family and I heard someone say.... "Hey Miss Jensen!" Seeing that I am no longer Miss Jensen and no one called me that anymore, I figured it had to be an old students. Sure enough, another one of my first year students (senior this year) stopped to talk. He knew me and I knew him (by name I might add) and we talked as if we were old friends. Even though he is now almost a foot taller than me and he hadn't seen me for all of the growing up years since fourth grade, he hadn't forgotten me.

Last but not least, I went to visit the school I just departed when I got married. I was a little nervous. I took Scott with me because the kids love "Dr. Scott."

The new teacher told the kids I was coming, but I was anxious to see how they would react. I walked into the front office upon getting there to see two of my prior students (twins) there with their mom. One of them was getting checked out. The mom turned and saw me and sighed with relief saying that her son was devastated thinking he had missed seeing me before getting checked out. I looked at this sweet, beautiful, wonderful little boy and he had been crying. He came over and gave me a big hug. Due to the tears, he couldn't even say anything, but he didn't need to. His face said it all. He had not forgotten me.

The class gave me a very warm welcome.

The smiles on their faces were all I needed to know that my years of grinding work and effort had not been forgotten, but as my rocking-chair friend afore mentioned, I couldn't infuse myself into a teacher who was to follow. That teacher had to be molded for themselves. However, what I came to realize is that I was figuratively fused into every students I ever had. I somehow transferred a piece of me into them. It was at that moment that I no longer felt the twang of pain that came with leaving what I loved. It was at that moment that I knew that it had all been worth it.

My life has moved forward. I find myself in a new station of life and I love that station. I love being a wife. I love being there to support my husband and serve him as he serves me. The best part is that I know the "teacher" that still resides inside of my soul will be able to again emerge when I have kids of my own.

I will no longer be dressing up as a mountain man, important historical characters, holding less than desirable reptiles or any of the others joys of teaching (at least not in my own classroom) but I'm okay with that. As that chapter of my life closed, a wonderful new chapter began.

Goodbye Miss Jensen and hello Mrs. Allen!

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Animal Food" for Easter

Scott and I spent Easter this year at my brother Dave's house. 

The wonderful hosts...

 It was a small intimate group and it was wonderful. We had so much fun helping to prepare the meal. Our contribution is what I would like to call Animal Food... Or in other words, food that looks like animals.

The first entree we contributed were a few delightful Bunny Rolls. 

Okay, so we recognize that we may need to clip the ears on top next time since they kind of look like cats, but either way, we were so thrilled with the creation. Scott was in charge of snipping the ears and I made the eye holes. Scottie is such a great helper in the kitchen.

Our next contribution we refer to as Chick Eggs. Instead of a boring old deviled egg that is cut in half the oval way, we thought we'd spice up our chicks and make them look like they were hatching. They turned out so cute and they were delicious!

Scott was the great carver of the ham. 

Good food. Good Friends. Good Times.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Becoming Domestic

I finally got my first sewing machine!

I've been doing a few different projects to try to figure out all the things it can do. I decided to make a quiet book. Why not? I know I don't need such an item right now, but someday it will come in very handy. It gave me experience doing snaps, velcrow, and lots of different stitches on my new machine. I had a lot of fun doing it and I felt so proud. I can't take credit for the design, but I am so grateful for others on Pinterest who are willing to share their great ideas. 

Enjoy a few finger puppets and stick them back in the barn for a nap. Change the snaps on the tree and change the season! Flowers for the spring, green leaves for summer, fall colored leaves for Autumn and take them all off and you've got winter.

The petals to the flower can be taken off and put inside the flower pot pocket. The ballet shoe gives practice in tying a ribbon.

Move the paint splotches around and pull the car out of the garage and take it for a drive!

Dress up the girl in all kinds of fun outfits and write a note and stick it in the mailbox.

Weave the strings of the tennis racket and practice up with zipping zippers!

I am still far from being a seamstress, but I am not afraid of my machine anymore. Progress...

Twenty-Five Dollars

I came home a proud woman yesterday!!

I have always been one to try to save a dime. I love to get discounts and use coupons if it means I am going to get a deal. I came home yesterday with the following items and I saved a total of $25.04 off my receipt. I paid less than 50% of the actual prices. Plus I got a free gallon of milk!

Not too shabby I'd say!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I'm not in Utah Anymore

I live in Las Vegas. It's...   nice? (For lack of words...)

The weather is good... EXCEPT when the wind decides to pick up.
There are pretty palm trees and blue skies... MOST of the time.
There are fun wholesome activities to participate in... IF you are far away from the strip.
There is family to see... WHEN they are driving through on their way to their way to other places.

Ha ha! In all seriousness, while Scott and I don't want to live here our whole lives, we are making the most of our temporary stay here. Home is wherever you decide to make it. Scott and I are doing fantastic, thus Vegas will do.

The classic childhood film "The Wizard of Oz" often comes to mind and I think of the line... "Toto, we aren't in Kansas anymore."

I feel those same sentiments when I say... "Scott, we are not in Utah anymore."

I feel like I'm on my guard here... ALL THE TIME. It is hard to be very trusting of most people and situations. Don't get me wrong, there are a ton of great people here, and it really is a nice place, but here are a few examples of why I am always on my guard. 

1- Last night Scott and I were returning home from his intramural volleyball game. We tried to turn onto the road that led to our home and it was blocked off by a police car. So we went around the block to try to enter our neighborhood from the other side. There was a police car there as well, but this time it wasn't completely cutting off the entry to the neighborhood, so we turned to go home and noticed that there was a police car on every block and some in the middle of the block. They all were prominently positioned with their lights on. It was basically blocking off the entire 3-4 block area so no one could get IN or OUT without being seen. We saw a cop inconspicuously standing behind a palm tree on the side of the road staked as a look out. We stopped and asked him if it was okay to enter our complex. He said it was, but that we needed to call and report if we see anything suspicious. From what we gathered, there was someone within the area that they were trying to catch and they were blocking off all areas so that he/she could not leave the area without being seen. Scary.

2- On another day, I was at a ladies house in our ward to participate in a craft day. There in the middle of the day, the SWAT team passed by the window and stopped at a house two doors down. Using the mega phone, they instructed the owner of the home to come out. When they didn't, they sent smoke bombs (very loud ones) into the home to flush the person out. The man was wanted for drugs and murder among other things. Luckily, the man was caught.

3. A man in our ward told a story last week about going out into his garage to find something and boy did he find something... a NAKED man! Apparently the man was hiding from someone or something and he was thought to have been possibly having hallucinations at the time. He had stripped down and had been hiding out at this home all day. Through some guidance from the Holy Ghost on what to do, the man in our ward was able to lead the man away from his home where his wife and kids were oblivious to the situation. Upon finding the wallet in the left behind pants of this man, it turns out that he was a repeated sex offender.

When I am within the walls of my own home, I feel safe (especially if Scott is home with me) but there are a lot of crazies out there and I'm definitely not in Utah anymore.

Just another quiet day in Vegas aye?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Who's your Paddy?

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, Scott and I ran a 5k. It was put on by a ward in our stake, so it wasn't super big, but it was Scott's FIRST official 5k! Scott has run a lot in his day, but never as a registered participant in a competitive race. Scott could have smoked me, but he was nice and ran with me the entire time. Our time was able to get me a second place medal for the 19+ age women's category. (As I said... the race wasn't very big!) We have another race scheduled in a few weeks. I'll try not to hold him back on this next one!

On Sunday we decided to keep the love of green alive when we went to church. Lime might become my "second" favorite color... behind orange of course.