Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Being Prepared

It was just a little over four years ago when the Bishop extended me a call to teach in the primary.  Although I was very excited to finally have a non-music calling, I wondered a bit about the divine inspiration that had led to the offer.  Kirk was serving as a ward clerk and had mentioned to the bishop that I had never had an opportunity to serve in any capacity besides music, and a week or two later, I found myself with a new calling.

That opportunity recently ended, with what seemed like about as much inspiration as it had begun.  I was released after bursting into tears when, during Adam's baptism interview, the bishop asked me how my calling was going.  After I explained that my increased hours with children due to student teaching made me very impatient in primary, he told me they would find a replacement.  "But," I explained through embarrassed tears, "Shouldn't my release come as a prompting from Heavenly Father telling you, 'Sister Fife can't handle this?'  If you haven't been told that, maybe I am just supposed to handle it."  The bishop explained that my bursting into tears was the prompting, and I gratefully accepted my release.

But one week later, when Kirk's not so subtle hints to both bishopric and Sunday School presidency ended in an extended call to teach Gospel Doctrine, I started to feel a little... overlooked.  Didn't Heavenly Father have any specific plans for me?  Would I only ever serve in capacities suggested by my husband?

I accepted the call, excited to do something so challenging, and appreciative of a husband who is willing to advocate for opportunities for my personal growth.  But I still wondered a bit at why it seemed the sequence of events was man-made, when I have been taught that callings come fro Heavenly Father.

I prepared my first lesson carefully, trying to adapt my experience with teaching kids to techniques for leading a discussion in a room full of people smarter than me.  I rehearsed certain sentences in my mind, working out the rambling, choosing efficient words, basically writing it out like a blog in my mind.  I prepared a graphic organizer to keep me on track and to offer as a take-away for the lesson.

I didn't really notice my lack of nerves until Sunday morning when I reflected back to day 1 of my student teaching.  On that morning, I was sleep-deprived and nauseous from the extreme nerves.  I paced at the back of the classroom until it was my turn to teach.  But the morning of my first gospel doctrine lesson, I was calm and well-rested.  And at that point, I realized something.

The Lord had prepared me for this calling.  In the pursuit of my elementary education license, I have had so many experiences that contribute to my ability to teach adults (without freaking out).  And I realized something else.

If the Lord had prepared me months and years in advance, then this must be a part of His plan.  And how my Heavenly Father chose to carry out His plan should be no concern of mine.  Just as I have been taught, callings are extended from our Father in Heaven, and I now get an opportunity to do a job for which the Lord has prepared me.

I am not overlooked.  My Heavenly Father loves me. 

Now I just need to pray that the nervous rash that starts at my neck and spreads to my chest and face will not appear during my next lesson so my brother-in-law and Kirk's friends will not feel it necessary to remind him not to give his wife hickies on days when she has to teach Sunday School. 

I was not particularly prepared for that.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ode to Brett

I've done a pretty good job of writing the occasional ode to Brett (1 & 2 from last summer when I was out in Georgia, and at least one other I found in the archives), but it's been almost a year, and I feel like writing another.

Sunday was a pretty big deal for my sister, Lisa.  She and Brett had flown to Utah to bless their baby John, an action that allowed both sides of their families to be in attendance.

Andrea & Brett
Homecoming 1998
Andrea & Brett
John's Blessing 2013
As I stepped into the chapel, I was immediately taken back to a time nearly 13 years ago when I sat in the same chapel watching Brett take a huge step in his life.  I was there to watch him deliver his farewell address before serving his mission in the California, Carlsbad mission.  Kirk and I were there together to listen to his homecoming.  And on Sunday, I got to sit with my clan of five, watching him prepare to bless his first son.  (Thankfully, I was also there to see him forget to take the baby up with him; the story just isn't the same secondhand!)

Back at Brett's family's home for a post-blessing luncheon, an aunt commented that I had known just what Brett was up to when he tried to steal my water bottle.  "Well, we've been friends for a really long time," I answered, then continued to joke that perhaps if he hadn't married my sister, I could have considered his move to Georgia to be good riddance.

But looking through his senior year scrapbook and reflecting on what easily could have been just a few years of good friendship, I feel pretty lucky to get to call one of my best friends "brother-in-law."  And I feel pretty proud that he gets to call my sister "wife."  But the best part is that my sons get to call their son "cousin."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Worth the Wait

Adam turned eight back in January.  We did the whole dragon cake and Thai food thing, but we knew we were putting off the big deal part of the birthday until April because, when given the opportunity to be baptized right away or to wait until April to share the occasion with Aunt Lisa and new cousin John, his decision was simple.

Besides the obvious joy of getting to see all my kids become captive audience to Aunt Lisa's talk on the Holy Ghost (using a stoplight visual aid to increase focus and comprehension) and getting to share the weekend with John's blessing, I am really glad we waited.

February Adam was ready to be baptized.  But April Adam is somehow so much more grown up.  More wise.  More reflective.  Just somehow, more ready.  And our family was more ready, too.

With a few months of primary under his belt, Dylan announced to me on baptism eve that, "My Am is getting baptized tomorrow."  I confirmed his statement, and he continued.  "My Am is getting baptized in the temple."  Though not exactly accurate, I was amazed to see Dylan's comprehension that both baptism and temples were special, and both had something to do with church.  To see him make the connection between the two showed me that his spiritual understanding is far more advanced than I would have given him credit for.

And since we were all so ready, the weekend went off without a hitch.  Here are a few of my thoughts from Adam's big day.

  • Adam is very lucky to have huge extended family support.  Knowing they couldn't attend the actual baptism, Great Grandma and Grandpa Nelson came from Idaho to visit him earlier in the week.  Great Grandma Fife was one of the first to arrive on the big day.  And Great Grandma and Grandpa Casdorph drove all the way from Arizona just three days after Grandma's most recent chemotherapy treatment to be there for his special day.  With Great Grandpa Casdorph, Adam was confirmed by three generations of his family including his dad, three uncles, two grandfathers, and one great-grandfather.
Adam with Great Grandma and Grandpa Casdorph

  • Adam has a beautiful testimony.  He has written it down for us during the two most recent fast and testimony meetings.  Unable to stand in front of a whole congregation to share it today, he allowed me to read what he'd written from the podium.  A compilation of both written testimonies: "I know the church is true.  I know that Jesus lived.  I know the prophets lived.  I know that baptism is important to Jesus.  I know that prayer is very important because there is no other way to talk to Jesus.  I know that fasting is hard.  I know that when you are baptized, your sins get washed away.  I know that whey you are confirmed you get the holy ghost.  I love my family and my cousins and grandpas and grandmas and uncles and aunts.  I love my friends."
  • Adam is so grown up.  He always has been, from the day he was born.  Now, taller, with glasses, and with the spirit of the Holy Ghost around him, he just amazes me every day.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Those Aren't Classics... yet!

At NPA, my students get the opportunity to perform once each quarter at a schoolwide Sing Around.  The first quarter performance is my favorite, because I get to select patriotic music.  The second performance is my favorite because I love teaching standard and contemporary holiday music.  The third performance is my favorite because I get to enjoy the rhythms of folk songs and spirituals.  But the last performance really probably is my most favorite, because I teach the kids music about music, about joy, or just plain songs that I like.

One sixth grade class gets to sing one of the most beautiful balllads ever composed: "Somewhere Out There."  I knew the second they saw the title, they would be overcome with excitement and appreciation.  Well, until I realized that An American Tail is an 80's movie which none of them have ever seen.

And that led me down a line of reasoning through which I realized it is my responsibility to expose my children to the great animated films of my childhood.  A Land Before Time.  All Dogs Go to Heaven.  And certainly An American Tail.

I will likely regret this, but after a several month hiatus, Fife Star Cinemas will be reopening to bring 80's classics into the next generation. 

More information:
Coming Soon...

(Read: More information:
Coming after Andrea finishes her Masters Degree...)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

To Play or Not To Play

If my blog as a bit more up to date, I could start out this post saying,


or maybe

"Last weekend..."

or even


but I'm going to have to go with:

A while ago...

The NPA students and families were invited to spend a no-school-Friday at the nearby "Jump'n'Bounce."  The kids were dying to go, so after spending the morning obsessing over how to pull off an ensemble that simultaneously said "fun young mom" and "appropriate when recognized as Mrs. Fife" and would allow me plenty of flexibility to play in the blow up obstacle courses, we headed out to have some family fun.

I know how why the ensemble was so hard to balance: none of the other mothers planned to play.  It turns out there is a second-floor parents' lounge where most of the adults hang out, supervising from above.  A few of the moms keep a closer eye from the ground level.  But only one mom ignored her kids entirely and dove in.  (And the best part was, I convinced Kirk to play alongside me!)

I don't know why I am fundamentally bad at growing up.  But I do know my 6th grade students were cheering me on as I attempted some sort of a flying handspring.

Playing tag with the
students (hand on
head = I'm playing)
And I do know that one of the other moms felt pretty sheepish after stopping me and asking me and others to slow down our game of tag (and then she realized I was Mrs. Fife, not one of the students).

Part of me kind of wonders if anyone else there thought I was weird.  But most of me doesn't really care.  And all of me hopes I never stop playing.

I think Dylan hopes so too.  I recently overheard him outside my bathroom door asking Kirk where mommy was.  I hurried and hid in the bathtub, and he was convinced I had disappeared!  This led to a prolonged game of hide-and-seek, and I had to get a bit creative.  There are only so many places to hide in a bathroom.

Eventually, our babysitter arrived, and Kirk had to help me down from my final location so we could go on our planned date.  And now Dylan likes to count outside my bathroom door just in case mom might disappear.