Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sometimes Stuff is Just a Mess

"Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than what we were, more understanding than what we were, more empathetic than what we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.
This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow." - Thomas S Monson

Since I had to be banished from the house early this morning for two showings, I tried going to the temple to feel all the great things I usually feel.  Peace. Comfort. Confidence.  Reassurance.  

Except the temple is still a pretty huge mess on the outside.  There were construction trucks and cement trucks all along the side where I usually park and the entrance where I usually go in was completely closed. 

And here's the part where I should insert a spiritual thought about how it's what's on the inside that matters and how the chaos on the outside went away as soon as I walked in the doors. It did. Sort of. It was super busy in there and a little chaotic inside, too, but everyone is so nice and it's quiet and I loved it.  But as soon as I walked back outside all the weight of the chaos just came right back again.  Usually I can get it to stay away at least for the whole drive home.

I tried to find something to take a picture of, because that's what I'm supposed to do these days...

And that picture up there was the only tiny part that I could find that was free of construction workers and dirt piles and orange ropey things.  And if you zoom in you can probably see that there's actually a bunch of orange ropey stuff in the background, and a bright green cement truck down there behind one of those trees.  

I kind of feel like the outside of the temple today.  

A mess.  

There are one or two parts that probably look peaceful and presentable.  Like the sky was really blue today and the flowers were all tidy and pretty.  But if you get close enough you can see that there's mostly just a giant mess.  

I can't get anything together.  

None of the places I usually go for help are very helpful today.  

Whatever I'm doing isn't working.  

I know this is so stupid, and all this whining about the trial of my house sounds so petty and ridiculous and dramatic.  It's not just the house, though.  It's all of it.  It's the single parenthood.  It's not being able to make any messes.  And then not having any enthusiastic help to clean up the ones that accidentally sneak in.  It's living this life without anyone to talk to except this stupid blog.  It's the constant pressure of feeling like there must be something wrong with me because I really like this house, but no one else seems to.  It's all the driving.  It's all the perfecting...that's not a great thing to require of an already borderline perfectionist who's teetering on the edge of sanity.  It's the trip to Hawaii looming right in the middle of all of this...I know, that's completely ridiculous to be complaining about, too.  Who complains about a trip to Hawaii?  Believe me, everyone I know has told me how dumb I am to not be totally in love with both the trip and my husband for giving it to me...except I hate trips.  And I hate planes and I hate adventures and I especially hate doing all of that stuff ALONE.  And I would like to point out to all of those people (who don't even know I have a blog) that if the situation were reversed and I had spent a large sum of money on a super cute moppy dog that Craig didn't want or ask for for his birthday, I'm pretty sure the entire world would not be telling him that he should just embrace the dog idea and be open minded and adventurous.  Pretty darn sure...

Sorry about all the complaining.  If it continues much longer, I'll rename the blog...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Actually...nevermind...we were just kidding

So...we're not under contract anymore with that cute little couple who bought our house over the weekend.  Oh wait, you have no idea what I'm talking about, do you, because I hadn't even had time to post about that yet.  Yep, we were actually under contract for about three days, but our realtor just called me an hour ago and said that the buyers just sent over a termination of contract.  Apparently they got cold feet.  What the heck??  We hadn't even gotten to the inspection yet.  That was scheduled for tomorrow.  

I'm trying really hard not to be super disappointed or mad or down on myself about this, because that's typically what I do, you know.  

Well, first I destroy stuff, like their sweet little letter introducing their family with the cute little picture of themselves, gushing about how awesome and beautiful our house is and how this is where they want to live and raise their little family, and blah, blah, blah.  Yeah...that's gone

And then the next thing I always do is think, "Oh crap, what have I done this week that ruined this?"  Like surely this huge wreck must be my fault somehow.  A consequence for missing Enrichment last night, or for being super impatient with Craig, or for being lazy about reading scriptures, or not making dinner for the kids, or not preparing enough for Conference, or for all the other ways I've been less than perfect this week. 

But that can't be it because I was just thinking this week about Savannah's experience she had on splits with Sis Lang and how she said that there are so many variables in life, but we need to remember Who is in charge of all those variables.  And just on Monday morning, I was telling Craig that I felt like I had learned from this whole house experience that it wasn't because I didn't clean enough or do enough last fall, or because the house wasn't pretty enough that it didn't sell, and it wasn't because I wasn't obedient enough or worthy enough.  It just wasn't the right timing then, and who even knows why?  So if that stuff was all true on Monday, and I think it was, and if I actually learned that lesson (that part is debatable,) then probably it's still true on Wednesday and I should probably realize that this isn't my fault either.  But, my head isn't quite believing that yet. 

And holy cow!  What an unexpectedly frustrating thing to get that phone call today.   We all totally thought this was such a done deal.  Well, I did.  I guess there's no such thing as a done deal until you hand over the keys on closing day.  

So, I have no idea what to think now.  Maybe Heavenly Father didn't think I quite learned that whole PATIENCE thing well enough.  Or that TRUSTING thing.  Or maybe ALABAMA isn't ready for us.  Ugh...I'm so sick of thinking up all the potential possibilities for why we have to wait here.  I didn't even tell a whole crapton of people yet.  I didn't post it on any social media places.  Thank goodness.  At least I don't have to go back and untell too many people.  

So now we're back to having it available to show at any time starting tonight.  Constant cleaning and perfecting and leaving and hoping and waiting.  I'm not sure I can do another round of this.  Last weekend almost put me right over the edge.  The only reason I made it through that was because it ended with a contract.  And Easter.  

This morning, I was making lists of things to set aside for the hotel stay vs. packing for BIRM, and I was moving things in the garage so the inspector wouldn't have to climb around to get to the circuit breaker and the water heater, and now we're back to putting away every scrap of paper we take out and cleaning up every crumb.  

I feel like my head might spin off...  

Trying to keep my spirits up and think positive thoughts and still hope for an uninterrupted Conference weekend.  But, I'm pretty disappointed and sad...and mad at those people for just changing their minds.  

And shocked at how little rain it takes to make me doubt everything I know so well in the sun.  

"...prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  prone to leave the God I love..."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Long Days and Waiting for Reunions

Last night at rehearsal we sang Homeward Bound, which we almost always end our rehearsals with and which happens to be my favorite non-hymn.  I have loved that song since...i don't even know when...and since way before I even knew why.  
In the quiet misty morning
When the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing
And the sky is clear and red,
When the summer's ceased its gleaming
When the corn is past its prime,
When adventure's lost its meaning
I'll be homeward bound in time 
Bind me not to the pasture
Chain me not to the plow
Set me free to find my calling
And I'll return to you somehow 
If you find it's me you're missing
If you're hoping I'll return,
To your thoughts I'll soon be listening,
In the road I'll stop and turn
Then the wind will set me racing
As my journey nears its end
And the path I'll be retracing
When I'm homeward bound again 
Yesterday was not enough time for me with Savannah.  An hour once a week never really is.  I know I shouldn't even complain because I'm pretty sure I get more time than most missionary moms.  In fact, I've stopped telling the other moms about my p-days with Savannah because theirs definitely do not look like mine.  I usually get Savannah's generic email sometime in the morning, but then right after it, I also get a pretty long personal email with additional details about her week and questions about mine.  And then I respond and we have about an hour to have an actual email conversation.  And, as you can tell from her emails that I post here, she doesn't hold back many details about her life and her feelings, so I don't have to press her for much of that.  Which is a huge blessing because details are what make my heart beat.  I totally thrive on them.  And I certainly have more details than I ever thought I would have when Savannah left for the MTC last October.  

But I still miss her.  

There is some point in nearly every day when I just want her here, and when I wish there were some way to call her or text her and ask her to please come back cuz I totally miss the heck out of her.  Some days I just want to hear the sound of her voice. And some days I just want to tell her the things I can't tell anyone else because no one else would get it the way she would.  And some days are just crappy and it would be so much better if she were here because her whole purpose in life is to make me smile, isn't it? 

And then I come back to my senses and I remember that that's not actually her purpose in life.  And I remember that what she's currently doing there is so much better than anything she would be doing here.  And I remember that "exactness" probably doesn't include coming home because your mother misses the heck out of you and can't get through a day without hearing the sound of your voice.  And would I really want to trade all those amazing, uplifting emails for a bunch of trivial conversations about this house or BYU or callings or current events or the weather?  Probably not.  

And then I also remember that the way things look today is not what they will always look like.  It really won't be that long before I'll get to hear her voice again.  And we'll get to talk about the weather again.  And it will actually be her purpose in life to make me smile again...oh wait, maybe not that one... :)

Because what she's doing right now is figuring out who she is and what brings her real confidence and how to hear Heavenly Father's voice and what to do when she hears it and finding her calling.  And after all that stuff, she'll come back...(and yes, I know she'll fly away again shortly after that, but at least it won't be so dang far away and at least I'll probably talk to her more than once a week.)  And that reunion, after she's learned all that awesome stuff for 18 months, will be so much better than if I could actually call her or text her somewhere in the middle (like everyday) and beg her to come home and hang out with me.  

So, if I could actually talk to her right now, I would tell her that I miss the heck out of her every single day, and that even though it would make me so happy to spend a whole day driving around listening to music and talking and laughing hysterically about some stupid thing and just hanging out doing absolutely nothing; what would make me infinitely happy (like the kind of happy that feels like the sun is shining from inside your body) would be waiting out these long days instead of giving in to them, and seeing her learning everything she possibly can and magnifying every second of these experiences...what does she call that...juicing? that when our reunion finally gets here, and surely it will, it will be SO worth it and SO much more joyous.  

And the funny thing is, I'm sure I wouldn't need to tell her any of that at all because she already knows all that stuff.  It would mostly be me who would need that little pep talk...hence the blog post. :)  

"Never give up what you want most for what you want today." - Neal A Maxwell

Monday, March 28, 2016

Vorwärts, Immer Vorwärts (Onward, Ever Onward)

Hello everyone! 

First of all, Happy Easter!  I forgot to say that last week, so I'm saying it now!  If you haven't already, you should go watch the #hallelujah video the Church has put out for Easter!

And while you're at it watch the Hallelujah Chorus video too, cuz that's pretty cool! 
I'm so grateful for the time that we have with these holidays like Christmas and Easter to celebrate the Savior!  And it gives us missionaries the perfect chance to quickly bring up Jesus Christ on the streets!  Don't forget the true meaning of these holidays. 

Now I would like to talk a little about my fast from sarcasm.  As I mentioned last week, I started the 40-day fast challenge, and one of the things on my list to fast from is sarcasm!  It's hard.  Sarcasm is a giant part of my personality!  So this week I decided to type in the word "sarcasm" on gospel library and just see what came up. Well, I was shocked let me tell ya. "Sarcasm is the lowest form of humor," "the Greek root for sarcasm means 'to tear flesh like dogs'," "sarcasm damages relationships," etc.  Well, if that wasn't humbling I don't know what is!  So, as I continue to try and fast from sarcasm, I've realized that sarcasm is actually just a way to mask being rude and mean to others!  I have never really viewed it in that way, so I sincerely apologize to anyone that I threw under the bus in the name of a joke.  There are so many other ways to express yourself and to be funny, without being sarcastic!  But it's definitely still something I need a lot of practice at!

This week we went on tausch with the sisters in Wiener Neustadt, and I worked with Sister Lang!  She is really the sweetest, and just has such a positive attitude about everything!  As we were walking down the street one day I was complaining about how it's so hard to be exactly obedient sometimes because there are so many variables in life that change things!  And it's so hard to know when we should street contact, or door, or try calling people, because there are so many variables that affect when people would want to listen to us and when they wouldn't!  And then Sister Lang said something that totally opened my eyes and changed my attitude.  She said, "Yes there are SO MANY variables in life, but sometimes we forget who is in charge of all of those variables!"  #mindblown  I just kinda sat there letting that soak in for a second, and then I just thanked her so much for saying that to me! Even as missionaries, people who teach others about trusting in God and who have the Spirit with them so strongly every second of the day, we forget sometimes that every single variable in life is completely in the hands of our Heavenly Father.  So I will definitely be trusting Him more, and not complaining so much about the variables of life!

Sunday, Sister Fast and I were in charge of the lesson for Gospel Principles and it was about the Atonement.  One member brought four Persian friends to church, and that was so awesome!  We gave them Persian Books of Mormon, and then tried to start teaching in Danglish, because they spoke and understood a tiny bit of English and a tiny bit more of German!  At one point during the lesson I didn't know what to say, so I just started bearing my testimony about Jesus Christ.  I honestly can't even remember what I said, but I just know that the Spirit descended SO STRONGLY into that room.  I looked into the faces of the Persian friends and I just spoke the words that the Spirit told me to say.  I started crying, and I saw that one of the women was crying, too.  She could barely even understand me, but the language of the Holy Ghost is universal.  It was so powerful to me that she could feel exactly what I was feeling, and that even though she had no idea what was said, she was changed a little in that moment!  Seriously, if I don't see anyone get baptized throughout my whole mission, or if see no other success, I will KNOW that I have at least made a difference in that woman's life because I was able to follow a prompting from the Spirit.  

Also, we met with our cute little investigator, Nadine, again and committed her to be baptized!!  She said yes before I could even finish stumbling over the baptismal commitment question in German. haha  She is so prepared and we love her so much!

Well, I haven't had the opportunity to watch the Women's Broadcast yet because everything is like a week behind here in Austria, but I am SO EXCITED for General Conference!!  I can't wait to hear from our Prophet and Apostles.  I would challenge all of you to really think about a question that you feel like you have been trying to get an answer to.  Think of something you can ask, and see the hand of the Lord answer that question for you through His servants!  Then, after conference don't just say "Well, that was a great spiritual high for two days!" and continue going through life. No! Change!  Let the words from Conference seep through you and let Elder Holland pound your heart with his meat tenderizer of a voice, and let it be softened and available for change.  That's the point of this life, change!  Start doing something different, stop doing something that doesn't have eternal importance, make goals, and new habits, and become a better, new and improved version of yourself! :) 

I love you all!  Have a wonderful week!

Liebe Grüße,Sister Thunell

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Because He Lives

Because He lives...

If you reach out, call out, cry out...

He is here. Then. Now. Always.

He is here.  During the good. The bad.  The in between.

He is here.  No matter who you are.  Or who you were.

He is here.  No exceptions.  No lost causes.  At all times.  In all places.

He is here.

He rose on the third day.

He lives today.

Find Him.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

LONG Weekends and Tender Mercies

I edited this post from an email I wrote to Savannah sometime this weekend...I don't even know when..  It's been an unbelievably long week, but there's SO much to write about and so little available time to do it.  And I can't do anything small or without...what's that word...verbosity? so I apologize in advance for the stream of's seriously, like one long sentence...but I wrote it like I was talking to her, so just pause and insert a breath for me when you need one. :)
There are also a few references to things I haven't mentioned on the blog yet (the recliner,  the camping trip and Stake Conference,) so just know that you haven't missed them, I just haven't posted them yet.  I have a lot of back posting to do next week...

Holy Cow! what a weekend it's been, and oh, how grateful I am that tomorrow is finally Sunday, although I feel a tiny bit like I still have "miles to go before I sleep..."

So, the house is back on the market and we eased into this holiday weekend with one showing on Thursday night and then EIGHT on Friday! 😳 Yup, EIGHT!  They started early and were sprinkled throughout the day, and since they each are scheduled in one hour blocks, the girls and I pretty much just stayed out of the house from 10-7 on Friday.  Somewhere around 4:30 (ok, it might have been earlier...) I started getting a tiny bit grumpy about it.  I was grumpy about being banished from the house and grumpy that I had been cleaning and perfecting and rearranging and decluttering for weeks, and who even knew if anyone was even going to like it this time or if we were just going to do the same thing we did last fall...a lot of people looking and no one making any offers?  And as more and more texts came throughout the day Friday for appointments on Saturday, and the girls and I kept wandering around doing stupid things with our whole day on Friday, I kept talking myself into being more and more frustrated about it. (See what my head does when it's left alone for too long?)

We got home at 7:00 and the girls had a party to go to at a friend's, so I was totally alone in the house from 7:30-10:30.  It was way too quiet and way too dark to do anything productive, and I was still mad, so I just went in my room and cried and prayed and seriously just stayed in there on my knees for like the first hour that the girls were gone.  And then I went out and just sat in the dark living room and thought, "Well, this was a total waste of a day and I can't even get it back," and then all of a sudden this whole other thought occurred to me that it was Good Friday and then I thought about exactly what that meant and what the Savior had been doing on this very day a long time ago, and why He even did all that stuff.  And the little voice in my head said, "Days like this are the whole reason He did that for that the dark, lonely, crappy feeling at the end of a long, frustrating, useless day doesn't have to last forever, but instead it goes away and is replaced with a sunrise and a new start in the morning."  Amazing huh!?  The atonement isn't just for the big stuff.  It is for that, for sure.  It is for repentance.  And for forgiveness.  And pain.  And death.  And the HUGE things.  But it is for the everyday little things, too.  The weaknesses, the insecurities, the frustrations, the loneliness, the trivial, the mundane, the crappy.  And He wants and expects us to use it everyday, too. 

So then, this morning I woke up and saw the sun and had a new, happier attitude.  I prayed first, and after apologizing for being so selfish and grumpy on Friday, and thanking Heavenly Father for about a million things, I also asked Him for some specific things:

1.  To do that thing where He makes what we have enough and to make this house enough for some cute little family.  Because I KNOW there is a cute little family who would just LOVE this neighborhood and this area and especially this street and this house.  And maybe even this amazing WARD...!

2.  To finalize all this house stuff quickly so that we can be Under Contract and watch conference next weekend in our own house uninterrupted by showings. (I know, that's bold, but It's been a weight on my mind this weekend.  I really don't want to house-hop to watch Conference with friends. I just want to have one last Conference in our house, in jammies, with breakfast casserole and cinnamon rolls and President Monson in my living room.)

3.  To help me recognize His hand in the day because I'm pretty sure I missed it yesterday. 

And then I got up and started stuff.  The girls both had places to be early so I dropped them off and then ran a few errands and got some things done before Craig and McKay got home from their camping trip.  

Tender Mercy #1
I sort of had in the back of my head all weekend that I wanted to get a picture of those spring tulips that are always out at this time of year, but I couldn't find them anywhere.  In fact, I must have missed all the spring flowers because I haven't seen a single one in the usual places.  So even though I've had my camera with me all weekend, it hasn't gotten much use. 
Yesterday afternoon we had run out of errands, and the stores were way too crowded with Easter shoppers anyway, so we just stopped at Celebration Park to walk around a little, and guess what!  Around one of the corners, there were all these little colorful eggs sprinkled in the woods!  A little family was having an egg hunt with their kids and they had no idea that they were also providing that spring color I had been looking for all day. 

Tender Mercy #2
By 6:00, when the sixth and final showing was out and the house was finally free to come home to, the absolute last thing I wanted to do was put on a skirt and go to the church for the women's session of Conference.  (And I totally knew I would feel that way earlier in the day, but I had forgotten to pray for help with that...poop! 💩) But as we were pulling in the driveway, another text came for a showing at 7:00.  So Emma and I put on skirts and went to the church because now we had no excuse to stay home.  Megan had gone to a babysitting job, and Craig and McKay loaded that ugly recliner into the van and hauled it off to the Salvation Army...yay, for strong 12 year olds!

Just because we got to the church and were sitting in the place where the Spirit should have been, don't be fooled into thinking that we just automatically felt it.  We didn't.  Emma was in a mood 👿and she was so impatient and as tired and grumpy as I had been on Friday, and she only had me to take it out on.  She was snippy at me about everything.  It was way too warm in the chapel.  The loudest, most distracting people managed to sit right in front of us even though we got there late.  The sound on the broadcast was just a little bit too soft so we had to try extra hard to hear...especially over the loud people in front of us.  And I was already tired, so with everything else happening, I just really wanted to cry, but I held it together.  And then Sister Marriott spoke.  I love her.  And her voice made me relax.  And I thought, "Ok, just stop worrying about everyone else and just focus on Conference. This is why you're here. If Emma is grumpy and misses it, then she misses it, but you don't have to miss it, too."  And I started to let myself love being there.  I started to let the Spirit of what Sis Marriott was saying sink into my head and my heart...

and then my phone rang.  

It was the schedulers. 


I ran into the hallway to answer it and they were calling to tell me that the 7:00 appointment was going to be 30 minutes late and would that be ok?  I said sure, hung up the phone, and sank into one of those chairs in the lobby, realizing I had missed the whole middle of Sis Marriott's talk.  There were so few people in the chapel for the broadcast that there was no speaker on piping the sound into the hallway.  
Tender Mercy #3
I'm quite sure I was alone in that foyer.  But all of a sudden, someone turned on the speaker because I could hear Sister Marriott's voice in the hallway, and it was right at the part where she quoted Julie B Beck, "the ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the greatest skill that we can acquire in this life."  That happens to be my all time favorite quote in the entire world!  And then I started thinking that probably Savannah had heard that quote, too, and she knows I love that one because I say it ALL the time.  And then I thought about how she was listening to that very same Conference on the other side of the world, at that very moment and I was so grateful to be there in that meeting because it was kind of like being with her (yeah, it didn't occur to me until I got home that she probably didn't get to watch until later because she would have been sleeping during the time of the actual live broadcast...but it was still a really good thought.)  And then in the hallway all by myself, I was totally just crying and crying because I was so grateful for this worldwide sisterhood that I love and that connects me to so many women who I also love so much.  And I was crying because of this tiny bit of monumental evidence that Heavenly Father knows me, and He knows that I love Sis Marriott and Sis Beck and that hearing those words would be meaningful especially on a day when I needed to know that He was aware of me. 

Tender Mercy #4
After all that crying, I just really needed to get myself together, so I went outside to walk around the building for a second and breathe.  And there was this amazing sunset out there! Unfortunately, this picture doesn't even show all the pinks and the oranges.  I literally gasped when I came around the corner of the building, it was so beautiful.  

Tender Mercy #5
The sunset and the air pulled me together and I walked back into the chapel and sat down next to Emma.  She had stopped being grumpy by then.  We listened to the last sister speak and we sang the hymn, and then Sister Wixom announced that the very last speaker would be President Eyring, and Emma reached over and patted my arm and said, "oh, Mommy you love him!" and I started crying again.  (It was just one of those days...)

His talk was wonderful, as always, and his voice was calming and familiar and patriarchal just like it always is.  And then he said the craziest thing right in the middle of his talk.  I think I told you about the General Authorities who came to Stake Conference last week and the very last one who spoke about the "cloud of witnesses" and quoted Hebrews 12:1 which is just like 2 Ne 4:16-30 only more!  Well, Pres Eyring talked about "a cloud of witnesses" briefly in his talk, too.  Seriously, I don't even know why he said that, but I was writing something else and I heard him say it and I just stopped and looked at the screen and tried to figure out if I was the only one who had heard it.  I'll have to wait and see what the transcript says on 😊  So his talk was actually like Tender Mercies #5-10 ✨

(There are a couple of others, but I'm going to wait and post them later...)

Tomorrow is Fast Sunday for us. Which is weird on Easter, but I'm so grateful to get to fast because there is much to be grateful for and I can't think of a better way to acknowledge my gratitude.  How grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father whose hand is in all the details of my life, and who makes the long days more bearable and the enduring more joyous.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

For Sale...Again (...and also Food Poisoning and the Recliner)

Welp...we're officially FOR SALE again!  

I was feeling SO great about this earlier in the week, and then the sign went up and the first call came for a showing at the stupidest. most inconvenient time, and instantly I felt that sick feeling come back like I felt last November when I was SO done with letting people walk through this house.  I tried saying a prayer to be nice and to have a kind, happy spirit that people could feel in this home instead of hating the world, cuz you know, probably that's not the best attitude to have when you're trying to sell a house...

On Wednesday night, after the tornado sirens ended and we all got back in our beds and went to sleep, the winds kept blowing and the storms kept storming and McKay wandered into our room and crawled into a little heap in our fluffy chair in the corner sometime in the middle of the night.  And then sometime later in the middle of the night, Craig started throwing up periodically for about three hours or so until he finally fell asleep about five minutes before the alarm went off to wake up the girls for seminary.  I let him sleep and just drove the morning routes to sem and school and picked up some Sprite and crackers for him on the way home.  He had a consistent rotation of crackers, sleeping, and throwing up going until about 1:00pm when he finally stopped throwing up and just slept for three straight hours.  He's pretty sure it was food poisoning because it was almost exactly 12 hours of misery and then poof! it just ended...

So, while Craig was on his death bed, our realtor put the FOR SALE sign in the yard and got the listing up and running on  I figured that was probably a good time to get all the last minute things done that Craig and I were supposed to do today...taking down the dining room table from the Missionary Moms Lunch, resetting McKay's furniture, moving our giant ridiculous, dilapidated recliner out to the garage, and just general cleaning...including the TOILETS (blah...why did I leave those for the end?? why did I not suggest that Craig just clean those yesterday in case he came down with food poisoning at the last minute??)  

With one person now doing what two of us had planned to do, it was an unexpectedly busy day for me.  McKay's room has been doing double duty as a bedroom and Craig's office since Christmas, so I needed to make it look a little more functional and less like a storage facility.  First, I cleared off McKay's little desk and chair and hauled them out to the garage.  Then, I moved Craig's giant desk and chair (and two bookshelves, and a printer, and a monitor, and a shredder, and about 4 jillion electrical cords that go to...I have no idea what...) to the opposite wall, and put McKay's bed on the wall where Craig's desk had been.  I emptied out McKay's whole dresser and put all his clothes on hangers in his closet (and got rid of quite a few things that were way too small) and then hauled that dresser out to the garage, too.  And let me just tell you how clever that little trick was!  There was no way I could carry that thing through the house and out to the garage by myself.  So I just pushed the dresser across the carpet in McKay's room and then out into the hallway onto a giant beach towel that I had laying on the wood floor.  And then, once it was securely on the towel, I just pulled the towel through the whole house with the dresser on top of it, via the kitchen and the laundry room, and that was like 75% of the work right there!  By the time I had gotten it that far, all I needed to do was lift it up and over one little step from the laundry room into the garage and then a short distance across the garage to the place where it's now hiding until it moves to Birmingham.  It's really too bad there was no one at home who was conscious enough to celebrate that success with me because I was pretty excited about the ingenuity of that plan.  After a little vacuuming and dusting, McKay's room was finally done.  

I moved on to taking the leaves out of the dining room table and carrying them up to Savannah's room where they are now tucked under her bed, along with a whole lot of other stuff that originally Craig was going to put in the attic.  Because I can do a lot of things I did not think I could do before Thursday morning, but going into the attic is not one of them.  Nope.  Not doing it.  And really, it seemed unnecessary when Savannah's bed can hide a whole LOT of things...and I've never once seen a spider under there.  

By the time all the kids had come home from school, Craig was starting to regain consciousness, and everything was finished except for that dumb recliner.  That thing came from my dad's house in Houston, and I can't really remember what our logic was in bringing it with us to Dallas, but it has lived upstairs in our playroom for the past 6 years growing more and more dysfunctional every year so it was beyond time for it to go.  Craig and I had moved it downstairs earlier in the week intending to freecycle it, but people aren't stupid.  Even freecyclers didn't want that dumb thing.  So, there it was on Thursday afternoon just sitting right in the middle of the living a huge old lazy dog laying in the sun.  

I didn't want to haul it back upstairs, but it was way too big and heavy to slide around through the house on a towel and out to the garage.  Plus, I don't think it would have even fit through the laundry room door anyway.  So...brilliant idea #2....McKay and I put the seats down in the back of the van.  I drove the van around to the front.  Megan and McKay and I carried the chair out through the front door and shoved it into the back of the van!  And then I drove the van back through the alley, and backed it into the driveway, where the three of us unloaded the recliner into it's new temporary home in the garage!  Hooray!!  McKay had a pretty great time riding in the back of the van while sitting in a recliner for a minute or two.  

(If that doesn't make any sense, we have an alley garage which means it lives behind our house and we don't have a driveway in the front.  So to get anything from the front door to the back we would have had to carry it down the street and around the block and then through the alley.  Dallas is weird.)  

Right after we unloaded the recliner, I got a text from the real estate schedulers saying that someone wanted to show the house at 6:45 that night.  Holy heck!  I still needed to clean bathrooms, get Emma to her DMCO rehearsal by 5:00, get back home and get ready for my rehearsal (which was starting late fortunately...cuz I still can't remember if I even got a shower that day) oh, and there was also a 2-day camp out that the walking dead Craig and McKay had decided they were going to try and make it out on...That's another whole post.  I can't even try to fit that story in here. 

The short end to this crazy story is that everything got done.  The house was perfected.  And we all lived.  

The longer, more interesting ending, because I can't resist giving you every singe detail, is that...
I came home from taking Emma to DMCO and finished up the last few things before the people got here at 6:45, and then Megan and I waited in the car out front while the people looked at the house...for FIVE MINUTES!  ugh!  Just long enough to use the bathroom and wash their hands and leave what I hope was water all over the bathroom floor and lock us out of the garage!  UGH!!   We realized after 20 minutes of trying to reach our realtor (who is my neighbor and very dear friend fortunately and didn't mind that I texted her 50 times while she was at church) to let us into the house with her lock box key, that the other people had left the patio door unlocked, so Megan snuck us into the house that way, and I made it to my DMCO rehearsal and I also now have a house key with me on my rental keys..because yep, they're still fixing my Jeep and I'm still driving that rental car. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Two Sister Thunells

So yesterday I was just laying around outside...kind of like a lizard...because it was really sunny and springy...

...and the sky was really pretty so I was also trying to take a picture of it, but not having much success...

...and then my mailman friend happened to drive up and put a great big envelope in my mailbox for me!  And guess what it CSM stuff from Salt Lake!  EEP!

So now I'm an official badge-wearing, pass-along-card-carrying, Church Service Missionary Photographer!...which means there are now TWO Sister Thunells in our family.  Of course, I'm just a part-time Sister Thunell, but still, that's pretty cool, don't you think?  

Um...I didn't realize until after I put on my name tag and took this cute little selfie and posted it all over the world that I was wearing my Johnny Cash t-shirt, and although my mission rules are not quite as strict as Savannah's, I'm pretty sure the Church would prefer that I not wear concert t-shirts while on official missionary assignments.  I'll have to remember to be a little less oblivious in the future...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Vienna is Waiting for Me (Part 2)

Well, this week was crazy to say the least!  But I have been sleeping super well because I am just so physically and spiritually DEAD at the end of each day. haha 

Tuesday, after District meeting, Sister Fast and I hopped on a train and headed to Wien!  Sister Fast and Sister Jest went back to Graz, and Sister Price and I stayed in Wien 1!  MY HOMETOWNNNN.  haha  It was seriously the WEIRDEST THING being back home!  In that apartment, and in that area, and we even saw a few members from the ward!  I was a very happy clam that day.  Usually tausches are only 24 hours, but since Graz is so far away we decided to do a 48 hour tausch!  Sister Price and I literally worked our little behinds off!!  For two days straight we were just running from appointment to appointment like chickens with our heads cut off!  But I LOVE LOVE LOVE Sister Price!!  She is soo much like Mallory Moss, and we just instantly became the best of friends :) We definitely had a blast working together!  We had an eating appointment with the Johnson's (the family from Texas) on Wednesday night, and that was so fun!  I missed them!!  We did an Easter message with them where we hid Easter eggs all around the house as soon as we walked in, and then an hour or so later when we did the spiritual thought, the kids had to go find the eggs!  They were filled with candy and little pieces of paper saying "watch the #hallelujah video" or "sing an Easter song."  It was super fun!  The one problem was that Tyler, the little 3 year old, found a couple of the eggs right before dinner started. haha

Sister Price and I did a little finding together one night and we were talking to this guy who didn't really believe in God.  At one point he said, "Sometimes I just get too impatient for answers, so I start doing drugs."  And Sister Price was like, "Ich auch" (me too) and I was kinda shocked and said, "WHAT! NO YOU DON'T!"  And then the guy said, "Oh! You do drugs, too?? Do you want some??"  And then it just went downhill from there.  Apparently Sister Price only heard the part where he said that he got impatient sometimes, and she was about to say that she did too, and then bear her testimony about prayer!  But it definitely did not go the way she planned.  So we quickly got out of there!  

Thursday morning we hopped on a train back to Graz, and Sister Price also drooled because of the scenery, so it's not just me :) and then we met up with Sister Fast and Sister Jest and went to lunch, and then we did some power finding together!  One companionship on one side of the street, and one on the other.  It was the best thing ever because to be honest I am so sick of only working with Elders!  (haha)  A girls day was much needed :) Then we showed them a little around Graz, and they spontaneously decided to hike Schlossberg and we had to leave to go to another evening FULL of appointments!  That night we visited with a very old and very nice lady in our ward, went to the hospital to visit another member, and then ran to the church to do some computer work really quick, and then we had to RUN home to get in on time!  SO MUCH RUNNING.  Friday was full of planning and appointments, and same with Saturday. 

This week I started a "40 day fast" challenge that Sister Price told me about.  It's where you fast for one day and make a list of things that hinder you from feeling the spirit, and then you fast from those things for 40 days!  By the end, hopefully, my heart will be changed and I will be better able to be a tool in the Lord's hands :)  Reading the Book of Mormon this week, one particular verse really stood out to me:

"They hushed their fears and began to cry unto the lord" - Mosiah 23:28

I have really been trying hard to hush my fears lately.  My fears of talking to people, my fears of being incompetent, my fears of what other people think of me, my fears of the future, the list could go on and on, but I've decided that instead of being afraid, I will just cry to the Lord instead!  Because I'm really good at crying (I get it from my mom.)  I have really been able to see SO MANY blessings come from hushing my fears, and one particular miracle that happened like 30 minutes ago was that WE NOW HAVE AN INVESTIGATOR!  The famine is over, people!  We are feasting on this girl hard core.  Her name is Nadine and she is PERFECT.  I am smelling lukewarm baptismal water in the near future!  I am so grateful to be able to be a part of this wonderful work, and to see the blessing of the gospel enter into people's lives and touch them!  It is the most amazing thing ever! 

Sorry this was a little short, but we have so many appointments nowadays that we basically have no pday.  Which is sad :( but this is exactly what we have been praying for!  Work!  Hopefully it will eventually get to the point though where we can have a relaxing pday, too. haha

Love you all!  Thank you so much for the prayers :)  THEY'RE WORKING!!

Liebe Grüße,
Sister Thunell

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Missionary Mom's Lunch

When Savannah left for the MTC in October, the thought occurred to me that I had just been indoctrinated into a new sisterhood with about 12 other women in my ward who also had missionaries serving somewhere in the world, and I should probably invite them all over for lunch or something.  

But I didn't do anything about that thought.

A few weeks before Spring Break, that thought came again, only this time there were specific instructions, like the people I should invite, and exactly what it was supposed to look like, and when I was supposed to have it.  Sometimes that happens...clear visions of stuff I'm supposed to do.  That kind of clarity makes it a lot harder to ignore.  

So I wrote down a few notes and then we left a few days later on our epic Spring Break trip, and I didn't think about it again until we were halfway home.  And honestly, with everything else I had to do this week, planning a luncheon for 10+ women in less than a week felt a little bit overwhelming.  But I fought the urge to make things more complicated than they needed to be, and by Sunday night I had sent out 14 cute little evites without spending a dime or even moving from my couch.  Oh, how I love technology

I used some black and white plates that I have had for years, but they're pretty, and they weren't paper plates, and I specifically got "use pretty plates and make a fuss about the table" in that little vision earlier this month.  

Side Note:  I only had 8 of those black and white plates, so I had to scramble a tiny bit to find a few more coordinating plates to fill in, but Target is a complete lifesaver for that sort of thing!  That little predicament was also a good opportunity to teach my girls that they should ALWAYS ALWAYS buy dishes in sets of 12!  I can't even tell you (or them) how many times I have tried to set a table for a thing and wished I had had more than 6 or 8 or even 10 dishes.  I know that seems like a lot of dishes when you're newly marrieds or empty nesters or you only have two kids, but I'm telling you, when you want to have Thanksgiving or Christmas or a dinner at your house with more than two friends or family members and their kids, you'll be grateful you have 12 dishes, I promise. 

I was going to buy chocolate bunnies to put on everyone's plates, but then I thought not everyone likes chocolate bunnies ( me) and also, I would have had to take each bunny out of the package to tie a bow on it and that's kind of gross to touch someone else's chocolate bunny before putting it on their plate.  So I just got them all little flowers which was a less expensive and slightly more practical option anyway.  And I found those little mini chicks in my box of Easter stuff, so I put one in each little pot and everyone took a flower home with them.  I think everyone liked the flowers more than they would have liked a giant chocolate bunny with a bow tied around his neck...and fingerprints all over him.  :)  

So for the actual lunch, I made two ham and broccoli quiches, and a bacon zuchini quiche with a hash brown crust (gluten free for one of the moms,) a giant fruit salad, spinach salad with strawberries and toasted almonds, monkey bread, and one of the moms brought homemade rolls.  There was more on my original menu, but as time ran out I realized I needed to eliminate a few things, and guess what! they weren't even missed.  

So, even though I lost that whole day of grocery shopping and cooking because of that dumb wreck on Wednesday, I put on some good uplifting music and said a really long prayer that everything would come together and I wasn't even worried or frazzled all morning.  And it all came together.  

So here's the part of this lunch that was the most important reason for us all to get together, I think.  One of those moms in that group is named Cathey (she's the one with the long pretty braids sitting at the head of the table) and her son is serving as a missionary in Mongolia.  Cathey is not a member of the Church and Aelias has only been a member for a couple of years.  When he joined the Church, Cathey said she was fine with it as long as he wouldn't be going on "one of those mission things."  A year later, he called her from SLC to let her know he had sent in his mission papers and that he would be serving the people of Ulaanbaatar Mongolia for two years.  Can you even imagine?  There's so much more that is amazing about both Cathey and Aelias, I could seriously fill an entire blog with just stories about them.  I really just wanted her to meet all these other women, and I wanted all those other women to meet her!  I'm really not sure who was more uplifted by whom.

I had hoped to have everyone actually go around the table and tell spiritually uplifting stories about their missionaries, but it was much more casual than that, mostly just conversations between a few people at a time.  But what I mostly kept thinking all day long, especially before everyone got here, was that I was so extremely grateful for all of these women who have prepared and shopped and sent packages and waited for emails and quietly supported from home as their missionaries have done hard things.  I have called every one of these women at some point in the last five months and asked for some kind of support or advice.  It's not an easy thing to let your babies go off to other parts of the world to serve missions for 18 months or 2 years, and I had NO idea what that even meant until last October.  Some of these moms have done this two or three times now!  Some of them with multiple kids serving concurrently!  And Cathey with no testimony of her own that this is actually the Lord's work that Aelias is doing...just a trust in her son and a hope that he will be ok.  And that is an amazing group to be surrounded by.  So it was a total joy and a privilege to have thought about them all week and to have spent the day making food for them and setting a pretty table for them and to have had them all in my home for two whole hours.  

Even with the dumb interruptions this week has brought, I would not have even considered for one minute postponing this lunch.