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Hi I'm Fiona

I love being a mom and working with Cub Scouts. I play flute and piano. I have Asperger's Syndrome, and I'm a Mormon.

About Me

Being a mom is the most amazing, wonderful, and fulfilling part of my life. Every sleepless night is erased with that first smile, and it only gets better from there. When our first kid was about 2 years old, my sister who has a severely autistic girl hesitantly approached me and suggested that we have ourboy checked for Asperger Syndrome. Then in 2010, my husband was seeing a psychiatrist to help him battle his depression issues. When he mentioned some things he struggled with in marriage, his doctor wisely told him that his wife had Asperger's Syndrome too. To be honest, I love who I am and wouldn't change it except for being too oblivious of other's feelings. That's not Christ's way, and I want to be like Him. Other than that, I think Asperger's traits (ie easily memorizing things) really helped me! I was a brainy kid in school, usually getting A's, so that helped get me some scholarships. I majored in Music with an emphasis on flute, and got my BA in 1994. I started teaching piano when I was 15, and still have a few students, including my oldest 3 kids. I also started a free children's summer choir. If I had all the free time I could ever want, I'd first make sure my house was completely clean (with a book on tape for company!), and then get back to writing and arranging music. Someday... ;) That someday will need to wait at least another couple decades, though. I'm busy with my full-time job as mom!

Why I am a Mormon

Sure, there are some who say I'm just a Mormon because I'm the 5th generation of Mormons. Utah pioneer stock, born in Utah, and raising my kids as Mormons because that's what my family taught me. Well, in part that's true. I don't know if I ever would have found this faith on my own. And my family did teach me. I'm the oldest of 7, and my parents taught all of us to attend church. They taught us to study the scriptures to find answers. They taught us to pray. They taught us to follow the Golden Rule. They taught us to be Christians. No family is perfect, but with a foundation like that, well, we were at least heading in the right direction! Unfortunately, even with this great foundation, you have to one day find your own commitments. You have to know for yourself, or it doesn't mean anything. Sometimes in our church, people talk about who is a "convert", and they mean someone who joined the church on their own without being brought up to know about it and baptized as a child like I was. But when we all really look deep down, I think we see that we all have to be converted, no matter our background. And I was. I remember my mom asked me when I was baptized at age 8, how I felt. Asperger kid that I was, I described the physical feeling of going under the water. Recalling how my sneaky dad had that summer come up to the raft where I was out on a lake, I said, "It feels like a scuba diver pulling you under the water." I was baptized because I had been taught it was the right thing to do, and as long as I can remember, I was a bit OCD on doing the right thing because I should do it, not because I felt to do it. Not that it's bad to do the right thing! Doing the right thing usually helps most people eventually know that it IS right... or eventually determine that it isn't, and then move on. I think with my Asperger mind though, it just took a lot longer than it might with people more sensitive to emotion. I think the first bit of faith I had was faith in Jesus Christ. I remember one Christmas when I was a teenager, I kept singing Christmas carols to myself. I love music! I think it was the same year that I was studying the New Testament in my Seminary class. With my autistic/Asperger tendencies, I don't tend to get very emotional usually. But I remember feeling very deeply and certainly as I sang that the reason the whole earth rejoiced, the reason that every angel wanted to sing, was because this little baby who was born was what the earth had been holding its breath for for thousands of years. I knew that He would be the Savior the world had waited for. I knew that with His atonement we could be forgiven and return to our Father in Heaven, and if He had not come, the whole reason the earth had been created would have been frustrated. I believed my parents, my teachers at church, my extended family before. But now I knew for myself. I knew because of the powerful testimony the Holy Ghost gave to me that special Christmas. I mentioned that my parents taught me to read the scriptures. We read them as a family. I read them in church. But honestly, I very rarely read them on my own. I attended an early morning seminary, and always got an A in class, always had my scriptures memorized (ah, one of the blessings of Asperger’s Syndrome... easy to memorize!), and always knew the right answer in Sunday School. But acing a test on the Old Testament wasn't the kind of knowing that would ultimately help me. It wasn't until after I graduated from college that I started to practice what I professed to believe: that daily scripture study was important enough to make it happen. Finally, when I was 21, without school's excuses like, "The test is tomorrow; I can read scriptures after I study," I started to read EVERY day. I began my daily studies by reading the Book of Mormon. I had already read it in seminary, knew its stories from my parents' Family Home Evening lessons (family devotional time) and family scripture study. But now I read for myself, and not for a grade or for a right answer. I just read because it was the right thing to do. (Again... that's the autism kicking in... boy, do I love schedules and doing my duty.;) I had prayed before to know the truth of the scriptures. The Book of Mormon promised me that if I did pray, the Holy Ghost would tell me of its truth. (Moroni 10:4-5 was one of the scriptures I memorized.) And so as I read daily, I also prayed. I guess I was expecting an answer to my prayer that would feel like when I first knew that Jesus was my Savior. I expected that same powerful wave of emotion and light. But this time, it wasn't like that. If you know anyone with Asperger Syndrome, you probably know some very logical people. And this time, it was more of a logical moment for me, but the moment did come. I realized, after I finished the Book of Mormon after my daily study and pondering that this book helped me know my Savior better. This book testified of Jesus. This book taught me how to be a Christian. And I simply felt sure that because Jesus was truly the Savior and that because this book helped me know that more fully and completely, that the Book of Mormon was a true record of Jesus' ancient followers, and that God had helped us have this scripture so that we would better be able to follow His Son. I had believed all this to be true ever since I was a child. But it took my studying on a regular basis before I knew. But I finally did! I admit I kicked myself for taking so long to start my own personal study, when I had been taught my whole life that I needed to. I skated by on my "text-book knowledge" though, since I could tell you just about any story from the scriptures, or expound on so many points of doctrine. Studying the scriptures regularly though allowed the Holy Ghost to be my consistent companion, affirming what I read. This witness was more subtle, more peaceful, and came little by little, until I finished the whole book and realized that I indeed knew for myself. I finally knew! It was odd to realize that, since like I said, I was anticipating that warm overpowering of the Spirit. But even though this witness didn't come as powerfully and immediately as my other experience, I couldn't deny that it had come. I think keeping the spirit with you regularly is one of the harder things to do. I know that I need to read scriptures and pray daily to maintain that blessing, but even so I have to fight to keep it going. Hey, I'm a mom of 4 kids. Between pregnancy sickness days, to being up all night with kids, to cleaning up the disasters each day brings (at least one of them has autism too, and they are all uncannily smart aka amazingly brilliant at getting in to things!), I'm proud when I remember to pray before my head hits the pillow. (BTW, it DOESN'T work to pray after your head hits the pillow...asleep too fast!) We all have to set our priorities, though. And just like I fight to keep exercise a regular part of my routine so I can try to get rid of some of those baby pounds, I fight to keep scripture study and personal prayer in my busy schedule. Sometimes between sickness, vacations, or any number of curve balls life throws, I fall off the schedule. But I keep working it back in. And over the years, I have been blessed with little pieces of faith. I knew when I went to the temple that it was one of the greatest blessings I had ever received, and had a powerful feeling of God's love as I was there. I was over 30 before I had a specific testimony about Joseph Smith being a prophet, but it did come because I was sticking to that path. I think for those of us who have Asperger’s Syndrome, it's probably a little harder to recognize the Holy Ghost. But I know that God didn't set any of us up to fail; our differently-wired brain can be a great blessing and tool as we delve into doctrine and come to know His plan for us. We can have our own witnesses of what is true. I think for most anyone, it comes piece by piece, like it did for me. It usually takes longer and feels different than for people who are more emotional, but answers will still come. Why am I a Mormon? Not just because I'm 5th generation Mormon, but because I like my family before me have found those answers for myself.

How I live my faith

Right now, I serve in church as our nursery leader. I play with the kids for an hour each Sunday, then the next hour teach them lots of fun and spiritual songs, coupled with a simple gospel lesson. We top it all off with coloring time and treats before mom and dad come to get them. I'm kinda proud of the little "nursery garden" I put up on our wall. Each kid has their own flower that's growing there with their picture and first name. This helps the substitutes or new teachers who come in to help me be able to address each child by name. At the top of the board, I put up the scripture from the Book of Mormon, "Behold your little ones". That's from when Christ came to America and was blessing their little children, and I want the parents and the other teachers to realize how much God treasures and values each of these little ones. They're amazing gems, not long out of His presence! I'm also helping with the scouts at church. I'm on the Scout committee as the "Advancement Coordinator" and help do boards of review for scouts that are getting advancements, then log in all the merit badges and pick up their awards. We sure have some awesome youth in our area! Before that, I was the Cub Scout Master, and before that, the Bear Den Leader, so it's been wonderful seeing some of my Bears get their Eagles already. My oldest boy has been excited for years to join scouts because he sees all the fun things I help them do, and now it's finally his turn to be a Wolf. Every 4th Monday, we have a humanitarian aid morning and do quilting and other projects (like making hygiene kits) that can be donated across the world. It's so fun to bring my toddlers over to play with the other kids there while I sit and chat with other ladies from our neighborhood for a few hours. The event is sponsored by our church, but I have neighbors who aren't Mormon who come too... I love how service can bring us all together! Everyone who is willing in our church gets an assignment to visit other members. I and my companion visit one older sister who is I guess what most would term a "shut in". She is a great-grandma and doesn't drive anymore, and has frail health because she used to smoke and has emphysema. So she adores it when we visit with a gospel message each month and she has someone to talk with. I also try to visit her other times during the month; she LOVES it when I bring the kids along so she can hold my baby or have my daughter sing her a song. I also was assigned to visit a friend of mine who doesn't attend church any more. Sometimes, her daughter comes to church with us since my daughter is her friend from school. I've brought her meals sometimes, like when she broke her foot, and also at that time I drove her daughter to and from school. I've been so happy to see her warm up to the gospel since I started visiting her. They have started having family prayer and family home evening (a weekly family devotional), and she has talked about coming to church with me... hope I can help her act on that, since I'd love to see her have those blessings that attending church regularly brings! We like to find someone in our neighborhood each Christmas that we can offer secret service too. One year, our bishop suggested a lady that needed some glasses because hers broke when she had a seizure. That's how we met Grandma Grace. Her family treats her terribly, often telling her they never want to see her again, that she can't see her grandkids, and then being all nice to her when they want money or something else of her. My kids have adopted this emotionally abused grandma, and have loved her unconditionally. She's been uncomfortable to ask anyone for rides, so we worked out swapping babysitting for rides to the doctor, to the store, etc. We don't keep track of who has served who the most; we just help each other out, as if we really were family. (My kids think she really is their grandma! :) Let's see... in the community, I love to help out at my kids' grade school. I volunteer about 2 hours a week so I can help out both of our wonderful grade school teachers. It's the least I can do for them working with my quirky kids! I also volunteer as a library story time reader. I love sharing my love of books with those little preschoolers! I love hosting a neighborhood BBQ each year... sometimes we just get to know the neighbors who live closest or who we go to church with, but this gives us a chance to make friends with everyone. I also have a 4 year and running tradition of making pumpkin pie from scratch for the neighborhood every Halloween, and while they eat, reading the children a sweet Halloween story about a lady who did the same thing in her neighborhood. I love to serve in our temple at least once a month. Before I had kids and before I had tendonitis, I used to play the organ for a temple to invite the Spirit while others came to worship there. I also am doing my best to gather and record all I can about my family history and to keep my own journal. I plan to someday serve at least one mission with my husband. We're saving for that day along side our retirement fund. In 2009, I started a free summertime children's choir since I wanted something that wasn't gonna break the bank to have my kids participate. Since my family has sometimes gone over to sing or have a family home evening night with the retirement center on our street, my husband suggested we might have our little choir sing there. Our request was of course eagerly snatched up, and I had my piano kids join us too for a wonderful program and lots of smiles and requests for us to return as soon as we could! I am glad that with my parent's guidance and the prophets' teachings, I have known since I was a little child that I should pay tithing and learn to budget and use my resources wisely. I have never let circumstances change the fact that I will first pay the Lord his 10%, and then pay myself (a savings account for retirement and one for other emergencies). Even when I only made $7.50/hr and had an apartment all by myself. Even when we had a time when we were first married that we only had a $20/week grocery budget. And I have NEVER been without. Even when our autistic boy was fascinated by pouring water down vents and we had to buy a whole new furnace. Even when I was rushing too much and didn't put a shopping cart away... and it rolled and hit someone's car door and I had to leave a note for them so we could pay for the body work (a $700 mistake!). I think part of our financial security comes as a direct blessing to our obedience to the law of tithing. The other part is from obeying the prophets' counsel to have savings and to live frugally. I remember when I was attending a gospel institute class with my husband a few months before our first child was born that we were talking about how Jesus called Peter and the other apostles. The teacher pointed out that we probably never would be called on to leave our jobs as they were to serve the Lord. I thoughtfully raised my hand and said that I actually was. Our church has acknowledged that some mothers will have to work, especially single mothers. But that whenever possible, the mother should remain in the home to nurture and rear the children. My husband and I planned to follow this admonition as soon as our first baby was born. In a couple months, I would leave my profession, just as Peter did, so that I could better serve the Lord by dedicating myself to my children's needs. I don't regret this decision one bit... even though it did mean that $20/week grocery budget that I mentioned! Some of the service and acts of faith are big, and some are small. The daily stuff I think ads up to be the bigger deal. We pray before each meal, and it reminds us how blessed we are to have sufficient food, to have a good job for dad that puts that food on the table, and to have the strength the food brings. Daily scripture study helps me notice the hand of the Lord in my life. I'm learning to love unconditionally... motherhood is a good school ground for that Christ-like attribute! I am learning to forgive and to say sorry more (marriage being the greatest school ground for me there). I may or may not have time or health to volunteer and serve in some grandiose way, but I hope that I will always make my first priority the little day to day things that make me a Christian.