Sunday, December 13, 2009

Children...Couldn't Live Without Them!

It just wanted to update everyone on how my children are doing since our big move. Jay is 6 now and started kindergarten this year, although he called it preschool for about 3 months when he first started. I started both of the kids on a reading program this summer and I am happy to report that they are doing swimmingly. They moan and groan a bit whenever we sit down to read, but the light in the eyes when they get the words right shows that they really enjoy learning.

Jay's big accomplishment this year was learning how to count to 100. That may seem like a small feat for some 6 year olds, but to Jay, it was huge. He was still mixing up numbers counting to ten when he went into kindergarten. They tested him at the first of the year and he scored a 13% in Math. We started working on it everyday and something just clicked, it was almost audible. Within a six week period, he was not only caught up in school (they tested him again and he scored a 94% on the same test). He decided he wanted to learn to count to 100, not just to he did! It was so fun to watch the growth and confidence that came as he was so proud of himself...I must admit, I was a bit pleased myself :) He also learned how to swim this year, complete with the extreme pleasure of being able to go down the big, big slide all by himself. He has started to be such a big helper around the house too. He vacuums almost everyday and takes out the trash (although I do hear, "why do I always have to do this", quite frequently), he is a really good example to his siblings and can often be heard saying, "is that following Satan, Mom?, cause I want to follow God". He's such a great kid!

Ellie has been reading as well this year. She is almost at the exact level academically as Jay, so she is going to be all ready for Kindergarten next year...perhaps even a little bored. She is very, very tall for her age. She is wearing size 7 in clothes and she doesn't turn 5 til January. In fact, Jay is in afternoon kindergarten and it never fails that when we go out together in the mornings, someone will inevitable ask the kids why they aren't in school. Ellie usually takes the lead and answers very directly, that she isn't in school and that Jay is in Kindergarten, either that or they both give the questioner a blank if to say, "what are you talking about?". Today, in church, she was acting like a 4 year old and climbing in between rows and all over the chairs, I leaned over to one of my friends and said, "I really hate it that she looks like a 6 year old, when she is acting like a 4 year old," as her long legs were getting stuck as she tried to slide back into her place. She's a little spit-fire and always will be. She's been that way since birth....why change now? One of the memories that I have of Ellie this year is her countless prayers she said during our time of transition. We moved out of our home at the end of April and didn't get a home of our own until September. Every one of those days that we were "homeless", she said in her prayers, "Thank you for our home". Sometimes, I would get a little exasperated and say, Ellie do we have a home? She would quickly reply with, "yes", and she was always right. We always did have a home to live in, even when it wasn't our own.

Joseph is really the apple of the whole family's eye. He pretty much only loves one thing for sure, and that is to eat. I have never seen a baby that can put away so much food. He is a bottomless pit and I don't know where it all goes. Joey is cute and chunky, but the way he eats, he should be at least 50 lbs heavier :) I took all the food out of the pantry this week and put it in higher cupboards so that the little chunk won't be able to get into anything. He is hilarious. I have found more cereal all over my kitchen floor with him than with any of them. We all love him so much though and his big brother and sister adore him. He, of course, wants to be just like them and seems to be doing everything faster than they did at his age. Older siblings will grow you up fast, I guess. This year, he finally decided that walking was an okay thing to do at about 16 months. I must say, I was kind of getting tired of carrying him everywhere by that point. He promptly began to run soon after, and he looks exactly like Charlie Brown when he does. He is all upper torso, with short little legs, with the blond hair and round little face, all he needs is a yellow shirt with a brown zig zag stripe and shorts to complete the picture. He's so cute! I was trying to get him to say I love you recently, and he was doing quite well, but now whenever I say, "I", he completes the sentence with, "U" and a hug. So sweet! I told you he was the apple of our eye:)

All in all, the kids are fairing very well! They have probably adjusted better than their parents to all the changes. They have enjoyed being with their Grandma and Grandpa Brunner and cousins very much. Children are very adaptable creatures and I have been so very pleasantly surprised at how well they have adapted to their new life. I honestly can't imagine my life without these precious, precious little ones. I am such a lucky mom!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Year 2009 Re-Cap

What an interesting year this has been! So many twists and turns, so many set-backs, so many's enough to make your head swim. At the end of Jan 2009, Doug lost his job. We had been working on a business plan and started going through the steps to implement this plan in Oak Harbor, WA, where we were living. We got our logo on our cleaning van, got our website up and running, and we felt very strongly that the Lord was guiding us each step of the way. However, He had a different location in mind for us then we originally thought.

At the beginning of March, My mom called, and Doug answered. She told him that my parents had both felt strongly impressed that they needed to offer us the opportunity to move to Kansas. They were willing to pay for the move if we would like to come. Doug played it off, with okay mom, we'll think about it...blah, blah, blah...all the while thinking, "why would we ever move to Kansas?". When I got home that evening, he told me that she had called and what she had called about. I promptly had the same thoughts that Doug had...played it off...decided that moving to Kansas was not really an option I even wanted to contemplate.

Fortunately (we may have thought that it was unfortunate at times this year :), the spirt started working on both of us. I kept having this strong feeling that I needed to call my mom back and talk to her about it. I resisted for about a day, then finally gave in. As I was talking to her, the spirit started confirming in my heart that this is what the Lord would have us do. Of course, I was fighting it - being the stubborn person that I am, but the promptings were coming too strong to deny. So, I talked to Doug about what I was feeling, I think he was in shock. I called and told one of my friends about these feelings and she called me back two minutes after we got off the phone and told me that she was watching my kids the next day and that we were going to the temple...whoa! Okay - I guess moving across the country is prayer worthy :)

So, early the next morning, we were on our way to the temple. Doug was still completely in shock that we were even talking about this...I was still trying to deny my feelings. However, we were fasting anyway, and we decided to say a prayer before we went in the temple. The day was a typical one for a Seattle winter, complete cloud cover, scattered rain showers, not a hint of the sun anywhere in the sky. We were asking to have guidance to know if moving to Kansas was something we needed to do. As we finished the prayer, before we even had a chance to open our eyes, we felt a very strong ray of sunshine, start to shine down on us. We opened our eyes and our car was full of sunshine. We looked up, and the only opening in the whole sky, was directly above us and only lasted for a couple of minutes. That was the first time that day, we felt that possibly our prayers were being answered.

We went into the temple and I went up to the dressing rooms. The first person I saw was Doug's mom. It just happened to be a Tuesday which is the day they work in the temple all day. As I told her the reason for us being there, I started to feel the spirit. The first thing she said after I told her was, "you are supposed to go aren't you?" It wasn't really a question! I told her that I was pretty sure, still in shock, but felt that it was right.

All through the day, Doug was playing little games with the Lord, you could call it seeking signs...but for a good cause :) In his mind he would say things like, "if we are supposed to move to Kansas, then I will see my Dad before the first session". Less than a minute later, Doug's dad came bounding around the corner of the dressing room, and he not only saw him, but he got to sit by him through the whole session.

We had decided beforehand that we needed to ask his Dad for Father's blessings while we were at the temple that day. After lunch, we went into a private room, and proceeded with the blessings. Doug's dad, knowing we were trying to make this decision, did not bless us to have the answers we needed like I would have thought, but blessed us with safetly and faith in our travels to Kansas and talked about the decision as if it was already a done deal - we were moving in his mind. His parents were convinced that we needed to go, but Doug was still struggling.

Oak Harbor is where Doug grew up. It was exactly where he always wanted to live and raise his family. We loved it there! To us, it is one of the most beautiful locations in all of the Northwest. We had his family there, really great friends, we enjoyed our callings, lived in a beautiful house, the ocean was right there ready to be sailed at a moments notice (Kansas is kind of land-locked, quite a big consideration for a sailor). Plain and simple, he did not want to move, plus, even with all the little "signs" that he had received over the course of the day, he hadn't really had the faith to ask the question sincerely.

He was still struggling with these things as we drove home from the temple. We were talking about it, and as we talked, he was feeling more and more confused, more and more clouded about this decision. I finally had to say, "Doug, I am not moving to Kansas unless you know for sure that it is right, even though I feel like I have already gotten an answer. If you have any confusion, we are not going!". As soon as I said this, it was like the fog started to clear, he took a leap of faith and said,"Phame, we are moving to Kansas!". In that moment, he got his answer. He had to leap first, then he was able to feel the spirit testify that his decision was correct.

I moved to Kansas, the end of April, a little over a month later. I drove across the country by myself with my 3 little kids, leaving Doug in WA to wrap up some work that he was already committed to do. We still own a home in Kent, WA and the same month we moved, our renter decided to stop paying rent. Doug spent those two months, kicking our renter out, fixing the septic tank, finding a new renter and trying to work as much as possible. I spent those two months doing market research for our new business, trying to figure out where we were going to live (we got the answer to move to Kansas, not specifically where we needed to be in Kansas), going through culture shock, and tried to adjust to living close to my family (we tried to stay with my mom, moved after 2 days to live on my sister's farm in a 100 year old home that is constantly in a state of construction). Tough, tough stuff! Glad I got through it.

We were finally re-united the middle of June. We met in Utah for a wedding and had a second honeymoon, driving to Kansas again (we drove to Kansas for a wedding reception on our honeymoon). We promptly moved to the the Kansas City area the end of June and set-up our new cleaning business ( This summer, I don't think that I would have ever recommended starting a new business in the middle of an economic down-turn unless you are absolutely crazy! However, somehow, after 5 months of spending countless hours struggling to get it off the ground, the business is actually starting to thrive. We spend very little on advertising, and we have been booked solid for about 3 weeks now with lots of jobs already on the books for the rest of December and even into January.

I know the Lord directed us to move to Kansas, even though it was the last place we really wanted to go. Ever since we made that decision, life has handed us one problem after another to overcome. We have been without a home of our own for 4 months of this year, looked down the nose at foreclosure and bankruptcy, sold or lost many of our worldly possessions, had one financial set-back after another, suffered health problems severe enough we were afraid Doug might not be able to work, worked endlessy trying to get our business up and running, and hoped and prayed for a better day!

There were numerous times over the course of the last 7 months, when I took comfort in reading about people like Job, the Martin and Willie Hand-cart Companies, and many others that suffered tremendous hardships as they were trying to follow the Lord's will for their lives. My repeated phrase in my mind was: "The Lord did not send us to Kansas to starve, we will find a way to provide for our family". It has been quite the trip...but I think I have learned somethings along the way.

About 6 months ago, I created a stress journal. This journal was created for the express purpose of writing down all the stress in my life, just so that I could sleep at night. I found an interesting pattern while writing. So often, I felt like my stress was so unsermountable that I couldn't bear it, but as I wrote the things that were weighing me down, I started to notice all my blessings at the same time. My journal entries would start with all my problems, then turn to why I needed to have these problems, recognizing my own need for growth in these areas, and turn into entries that were all about how blessed I was. I began to see all the ways the Lord was trying to bless me with by giving me those particular trials. I have seen the hand of the Lord many times over the course of the year, and although it will never be a year I would willingly repeat, it was much needed in becoming who the Lord would have me be.

BTW - I don't think we are going to starve either :) I even have Christmas already bought for my kids...woo hoo! Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thy own understandings and He shall direct thy path.

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Crazy Life!!!

I just read the scripture again that titles my blog. All I can say is when you truly embrace trusting, sometimes it means you are in for a wild ride. These past two months have been incredible, and not exactly in the normal context of the word.

This has been my crazy life since I left Washington! Besides being a single mom (Doug is still in Oak Harbor, but only for one more week, hooray!) and dealing with a major culture shock and transition with the 3 little kids, these are the other things that have been thrown at us in the last month and a half.

First, our renter in Kent bounces a check for April's rent payment, then he doesn't pay the month of May either. Our house is two months behind on the mortgage, the septic tank is seriously damaged (needs $4500 worth of work), and the house needs lots of work to clean it up so it is rentable, sellable, etc. Then, we had to decide what we were going to do with the house (facing the real possibility that it might have to go into foreclosure).

Also this week, my computer completely crashes, my car is acting up (we were stranded on the freeway yesterday, hopefully only a battery problem but not sure yet), I misplaced my tithing check at my mom's house - so I wrote another check and repaid it on Sunday. In the meantime, my parents found my other check and turned it in also (which is a problem because we are phasing out that checking account and it caused us to bounce 3 checks with of course $35 charges attached to each one), all the while trying to get a business up and running and attempting to keep my sanity. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

Luckily, Doug found a renter that wants to occupy asap. We are able to negiotiate with the bank to put the mortgage payments at the back end of the loan (hopefully they will approve), the tenant left peacefully and is cleaning up most of the mess he left behind (minus the carpet cleaning, of course). We were able to negiotiate with our ex-tenant a repayment plan to pay us for back rent and damages (which means not having to take him to court, cross our fingers).

The business plan is going swimmingly and our marketing plan really is hopeful. The kids have been major troopers, really as good as I could ask for during all of this stress. We have been swimming and have played in water over half a dozen times, because it is already so hot. Ellie even got her first real sunburn because her mom is not used to putting sunblock on to play in the backyard in May. My sister has been an angel and we are building a fabulous relationship that somehow I was too self involved to build when I was growing up. All in all, I think we are going to win the war even if the battles have been hard.

Our website goes live by the end of next week. The web address is , but you can preview it at . I want to add a testimonial section, so those of you that have used our services, please leave me a comment and I will add it to my website.

We miss everyone in Washington! Hope you are doing well!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Surprise! We are Moving.

We decided today that we are moving to Kansas to be with family. We are completely overwhelmed, but feel like the time to move is now! When I say now, I mean I could be out of here in less than three weeks. That means I have to start packing! I need boxes! Help! For a complete story, please call me. If you have boxes, please drop them by or call me and I will come get them.

I know there is a reason for everything the Lord asks us to do, but why Kansas? Sometimes we don't like the answers to our prayers because they make us do hard things. For us, this is one of them.

FYI - Doug is going to be staying here for a few more months, wrapping up jobs that he has already committed to do. If you know of anyone who needs his services, let us know.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Celebrate a NEW YEAR!

Join us for an Adult-only New Year's Eve Party! Bring your favorite party food, party games, and party hats! We will be starting at 8pm, feel free to come when you can and stay as late as you want. Everyone is welcome - seriously the more the merrier! If you know someone that needs a little holiday cheer, please invite them. If you don't know where I live, please call me. If you need a sitter, I have a list of 6-7 girls that really would like to have a babysitting job that night. Come and help us ring in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Miracles!

I have felt overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude during this Christmas season. As you count your blessings, they seem to multiply right in front of your eyes. My last post came as a result of difficulties we were facing and wondering how I was going to provide Christmas for my children. We were definitely feeling a financial pinch and I didn't know what to do to make this Christmas special for my family. As I was writing, I knew that I had much to be grateful for anyway, and I decided to focus my attention on everything I have instead of what I don't have. I have been richly rewarded for that decision.

November was a short month as far a work goes. Doug's job does not consist of holiday pay and we get paid twice a month. Normally, his second check of the month has at least 11-13 working days. We received his paycheck early because of the holiday and he had only worked 8 days which is a huge chunk of money gone at Christmas time. When we got that check, I was really wondering how we were even going to pay our bills let alone give our kids anything for Christmas. We also hadn't had almost any cleaning jobs for during the month of November. Miracle #1 happened, the day before Thanksgiving as we got 5 unexpected phone calls, jobs all to be done that weekend. Every penny of those wages that we would normally have earned were made up with a little bit extra for Christmas presents.

Miracle #2! One of the jobs we did was for a dear friend of ours. This is a friend that has done so much for us. Doug was so willing to help him out and didn't want to charge him anything for it. Our friend, however, had other ideas and promptly sent me a Christmas card with $500 in it. The job was probably at most only worth $150. We had never mentioned that we were having any financial problems at all. Sometimes the generosity of others is simply overwhelming.

The 3rd Christmas miracle came this last Saturday. Another one of our friends is moving next week and called us to ask us if we would like a trampoline. The house they just bought has a slopped yard and they really can't use it anymore. Now, the amazing part about that is the timing. All year I have been wanting to buy a trampoline for my children for Christmas. I priced them out sometime this summer, but I never felt like we should spend the money to purchase one, but it was definitely on the top of my Christmas wish list. Our friend's said that we were the first ones they thought of and again we never told them that we wanted a trampoline. In fact, I have never even been to their house, nor did we know they even owned a trampoline. Someone was communicating my secret Christmas wishes to them, but it wasn't me.

The 4th and 5th Holiday miracles happened in the last two weeks as I was able to attend the sealings of two beautiful families to their children. One family went to the temple for the first time, as she just got baptized a year ago. Doug and I were able to be the children's escorts. What an incredible experience! Those children were just beaming!

The second sealing was actually a family sealing, as Doug's brother and his wife took their two little girls to the temple to seal them to our family forever. They have waited a long time to have daughters, and after 13 + miscarriages, they decided to foster children. They received their first daughter when she was about 6 or 7 months old. This poor little baby had been severely abused by her mother. Her mother went to prison, but not before she was pregnant again. So, six months later, my brother and sister-in-law were going to the hospital to pick up a brand new baby girl. Now, these beautiful girls are 2 and 3 and they were officially adopted on National Adoption Day, sealed to their parents on December 6th, and given and name and a blessing this last Sunday. During their oldest daughter's blessing, the words were spoken that "early in life you were surrounded by angels that protected you, so that you might be able to fulfill your mission in life". I have never felt the spirit so strongly during a baby blessing as I did at that moment. I know that angels were protecting that little girl because she really could have died and to look at her now, she seems to have almost no ill affects from this extreme abuse.

The Lord really is watching over each one of us. He loves us, he knows our needs, he knows our wants, and he even knows our secret Christmas wishes.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thoughts of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving! It is too bad Thanksgiving is less than one month before Christmas. It seems that so many times this holiday just gets rolled into all the holiday preparations. I mean, we get together with family and have a feast, and we get a long weekend away from the stresses of work, but the very next day after Thanksgiving we have the biggest shopping day of the year in preparation for Christmas. I know our family usually spends all day Saturday getting a Christmas tree, trimming the tree, putting up all the holiday decorations, etc. Really fun family traditions right? But my question tonight is when do we get a chance to feel thankful?

In fact, as the economic difficulties have hit so many people this year, I am sure for some just the thought of trying to get ready for Christmas is overwhelming. Gratitude is easy to overlook. It is a lot easier to see what we are lacking than what we have. For me the week of Thanksgiving has come this year with little to no recognition of all my blessings. Not that I don't try to live my life with an attitude of gratitude. I do. I know I am happier when I am grateful instead of wishing and wanting more. I simply wish there were a little more time in all our traditions to be thankful, to teach gratitude to my children, to emphasize the blessings we have without feeling like we need more.

Sometimes, if not many times, the holidays can be a time of wishfully feeling like we are lacking somehow, even if it is wishing we had more so that we could give more. Giving more to my children seems to be the theme of my wish list this year. However, when I look around, they really have all they need. They have food a plenty, a nice home to live in, more clothes than they really need, tons of toys, a family that loves them, a mother and father that are committed to one another, great friends that surround them, really what more could children need. Do they really need a commercialized Christmas to make them happy?

I fall prey to the feelings of wanting Christmas morning to be really special. Having them wake up Christmas morning to find wonderful presents that Santa has brought. Seeing the light in their eyes when they find the present that they have really been wanting and the excitement of making them happy. My children, however, are still young enough that they don't have that expectation. My Christmas traditions can be different. So, my question is how can I make my Christmas really special for my children with very little money?

For the next three years, Doug and I have committed to a very strict budget. We have a plan to get out of debt and stay out, but to do this, sacrifices must be made. One of them is that I can either blow my whole budget out of the water and have Christmas for my children, or I can sacrifice, stay on track financially, and have a very sparce Christmas. I don't think my children will care or remember one way or another, but I need to have some ideas of what to do to make it a wonderful, memorable holiday for all of us, for my sake.

I need to carry the spirit of Thanksgiving into my holiday season. I am thankful for my Savior and although He is the reason we celebrate, He is often lost in the hustle. I want this year to begin a new era for the Jensen family, where were are no longer worried about what we are going to give or receive for Christmas, but how do I do that? I want this to be the year we truly worship and thank God for the blessings we have instead of dwelling on what we might think we are lacking, but that's difficult when there are so many parties, functions, and holiday preparations to be made that worshipping is side stepped for things that are not as important.

So, tonight I am starting with a thankful list. I am making it a tag that I am giving everyone. I want everyone to make a thankful list. Then, I want you to contribute your ideas for celebrating gratefully on a budget, teaching about & worshipping our Savior, and generally de-commercializing Christmas in our homes. So here goes...

My Thankful List

First of all, I am so lucky to have such a great husband that loves me unconditionally. How blessed I am to have a man who loves his children. He loves them with all his heart and sacrifices so much for all of us. He is my best friend and I know that I am a better person because of him. He has taught me and shown me compassion, empathy, unconditional love, and how to be happy no matter the circumstances. He truly sees the best in those around him and tries to bring these qualities out in others. He is concerned with others feelings above his own and truly lives a Christ-like life. We all have our weaknesses and of course being his wife, sometimes it is easy to focus on them, but when I sit and reflect on the person I married I can't help but be filled with gratitude for the blessing of having him in my life.

I am so grateful for my children. They are the joy and light of my life. I am so grateful that I don't have to work outside the home and I get to be so closely involved with the everyday happenings of these amazing little spirits. I am grateful I have had the opportunity to create life and be a mother and when I remember the eternal responsibility that I have been intrusted with, I am in awe.

I am grateful for the power of prayer. When all else fails, pray! Usually I try to remember to pray before everything fails, but how blessed I am for the understanding and knowledge that prayer to a loving Heavenly Father is grounding, is edifying, is powerful, is rewarding, and is a blessing that no one can take away. Along with prayer is the ability to use the atonement in my life. What a blessing to be able to give all our sins away and have them remembered no more. I have been made clean and that would be impossible had my Savior not died for me. I may not have forgotten all my sins and I may beat myself up over some of them, but I KNOW when I repent sincerely, my sins are washed away.

I am grateful for the opportunity that Heavenly Father has given each one of us to become like Him and inherit eternal life. I was thinking today of how much having an eternal perspective has changed my life for the better. I am so grateful for the direction of the Spirit in my life. So many of my decisions would never have been made had it not been for the knowledge that I was being directed by the spirit. I would never have moved to Washington, never would have served a mission, wouldn't even have met my husband and if I had met him I doubt I would have married him, probably would have only wanted two children, would not be living in Oak Harbor right now, and the list goes on and on. Where do people turn for direction without the gospel? I guess I know the answer to that question because I lived enough of my life without the guidance of the spirit and I definitely remember the how it felt to "build a house upon the sand".

Which leads me to another huge blessing in my life. I am so grateful that the Lord helped me back into full fellowship of His gospel. Coming back was a rocky road, but definitely worth the trip. It has been over eleven years now since I started that journey back, and I will always be grateful for every person that lifted me up along the way.

I am also grateful that we always have sufficient for our needs. We are taken care of. The Lord hears our prayers and everytime we have a need, somehow it is filled. Often, my prayers are not answered in the way I would have expected or how I would have wanted, but looking back, we have always been taken care of. There is no reason to fear and no reason to doubt. Our needs will be met and we will not suffer more than is for our good when we are faithful. I am also grateful for the reassuring peace the spirit brings when I feel anxious or afraid.

I have so many temporal blessings that I would feel ungrateful if I did not add them to my thankful list. I served my mission in Argentina and the whole time I was there and most definitely when I returned I KNEW how rich I really was. There is nothing like a third world country to put some perspective on how amazingly rich we really are. Even the poor of our country live better than many, many people in the world. It is so easy to forget when wealth is all around us. WE ARE RICH and I have so many temporal blessings!

So, that's it for now, but I tag everyone to make a THANKFUL List of their own. Have a wonderful holiday and enjoy your families!