Interview Transcript Available Below

To say that Heidi Tucker, found her self in  at a difficult junction in her life, would be an understatment.  She had just turned 50, her 4th child was about to leave home, she was nearing the end to her calling that required her to teach early morning seminary at 4:30 am every morning. She was physically, emotionally and spiritually beat up.  She was on a flight between Phoenix and Salt Lake City, where she had a dream and saw her hands holding her book that she was to write (1:50).

Episode Highlights

  • Heidi tells what she had originally thought when she woke up from the dream (2:45)
  • She tells about seeking personal revelation after she had allowed herself to forget about the dream. (3:40)
  • “I showed you that book” There was no getting away from the promptings she received. (4:40)
  • The book includes personal true stories of how Heidi found hope in trials in addition to gospel principles that helped her and her family through the difficult times. (7:31)
    • Improving Scripture Study (8:12)
    • Turning personal prayer into 2 way communication (9:22)
      • Protect yourself from outside influences (11:30)
    • Learning and relating to sacrifices other family members have made (Family History) (8:48)
  • The audience for this book is for anyone, but has gotten a positive response from Relief Society Sisters and other women (12:45)
  • Know that “Everyone is doing their best, at the level that they are at.”  Gaining a testimony is a process, not an event. (14:35)
  • Connecting with others by being real and honest. (16:38)
    • Combining personal experiences combined with gospel principles help make leaders seem real. (17:55)
  • “Struggle is as much a part of the plan as joy.” (18:42)  Instead of saying ‘Why me,” say, “What now”
  • Experiences with Missionaries coming home early (20:55)
    • Don’t ask why they returned home.
    • Don’t ask what they are going to be doing or ask if they are going to be going back out.
    • Understand there are a lot of unanswered questions.
    • Understanding as a parent that your child is on their own path to their Heavenly Father (26:00)
    • Love them, support them and quit trying to fix them. (27:27)
    • Keeping RM’s involved (32:54)
  • Be Direct and let people know that you care. (35:36)

Links:

Finding Hope in the Journey: Recognize His Message

Heidi’s Blog

Interview Transcript

Kurt Francom:       03:39           Today we’re actually in my childhood home talking with Heidi Tucker.  How are you Heidi?

Heidi Tucker:       03:44          Very good to be here. Thank you.

Kurt Francom:       03:47          You’re from Cave Creek Arizona. Remind me where that is again?

Heidi Tucker:       03:52          That is on the north east corner of Phoenix and Scottsdale area.

Kurt Francom:       03:55          Nice and you’re visiting some grand kids and children here?

Heidi Tucker:       04:00          They all went to college in Utah and never came back.

Kurt Francom:       04:04          Wow. So you have to come visit?

Heidi Tucker:       04:05          I have to be here every opportunity I get.  And so we organized. My parents home was available and here we are in a nice air conditioned home. Are you to record and learn about you so you are the author of “Finding Hope in the Journey.” Yes. Now I know from personal experience you don’t accidentally write a book. So tell us how did this book come to be.

Kurt Francom:       04:24          Well we have to go back a few years. I was actually in a really difficult time. I had just turned 50. My fourth child was ready to leave the nest and I knew from three these three before her right that she’s not coming back. So I know I’m going to be an empty nester. I was in my fourth year of teaching .early morning seminary. So four years of getting up at 4:30 every morning to be at the church by 5:30 to teach at 6:00 that had taken its toll. I was feeling really tired like bone weary tired and my son had just come home early from a mission. So I was in a position where I felt physically, emotionally, and spiritually beat up. That’s sort of the stage and I was headed to Utah for Thanksgiving to celebrate with some family.  And somewhere between Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix and Salt Lake International Airport I had a dream and in that dream I saw my hands holding a book and I knew it was my book. And I remember thumbing through the pages. I remember looking at the table of contents and I understood that it was a book about trials and struggles and finding hope and trying to understand all of that in an eternal perspective. And when the plane landed it woke me and I had two thoughts. Number one there is my first thought was that was so real. It felt so real that I felt like every hair was standing up on end. And it was hard to focus on what I was supposed to do. I remember hearing my husband say come on we got to get our bags and get ready. And I was just kind of frozen. My second thought was there is no way. There is no way I could ever write that book.  I don’t want to write that book. It’s not on any bucket list that I’ve ever had. And so I locked it into a little chamber in the corner of my mind and said,  “Let the cobwebs grow high.”

Kurt Francom:       06:35          Because you are in the midst of your own trials and you kind of to write a book you sort of have like you have answers.

Heidi Tucker:       06:38          I was in a little bit of a survival mode right on a lot of different levels.

Kurt Francom:       06:42          So where do you go from there? You locked it away and how long did it gather dust in your mind?

Heidi Tucker:       06:49          It gathered dust for several months.  And I really had allowed myself to sort of forget about it and was on sort of a new path of trying to find out what Heavenly Father wanted me to do. I’m you know flash forward a few months. I’m done teaching seminary. My children are all out of the house so I’m on this journey of fasting and praying and Heavenly Father what do you want me to do to better be a disciple of Christ?  What can I do to serve you?  Where is my path? And I was really searching for that fasting, praying about it, serving those in my ward just trying to get some personal revelation about what I was to do because I’m done teaching seminary now too and that was a huge block of my energy and time.

Kurt Francom:       07:33           You had some extra time to work with.  Start writing.

Heidi Tucker:       07:36          Absolutely.  So I thought maybe I should work at the high school. I love teenagers. Obviously I can’t bear my testimony on campus but I feel like I have a pretty good connection with the youth. And so I just was pursuing a lot of different avenues. And I remember exactly where I was on my dirt road walking up from a three mile walk.   One day out of the blue I hear a voice in my head that says “I showed you that book.” I absolutely knew what that meant. And that’s the last thing I wanted to hear. I kind of thought you know anything but that. And I remember some pretty good arguments in my prayers. No. Heavenly Father I think you’ve got the wrong girl and that’s not me. I can’t do that. It’s too hard. It’s too personal. What would I say?

Heidi Tucker:     08:26          Why would anybody care what I have to say? You know all of those doubts and feelings were racing through my head but eventually my prayers turned from “I won’t do this” to “maybe I’ll do this” to “okay I’m willing to do this and boy do I need your help.” Yeah.

Kurt Francom:       08:45          And so it sounds like there’s no getting away from the idea.   

Heidi Tucker:     08:50          There was no getting away.  Let me tell you that every bank teller, every cashier at the grocery store, every speaker at church, every hymn, every song on the radio, every deejay said something every single day that said to me you need to write that book. There were little moments that I just, I just knew, I knew that Heavenly Father was really pounding on me a little bit to say this is what you need to do.

Kurt Francom:       09:13          So did you feel like he knew who you were writing to. I mean it’s important to have a specific reader or audience that you’re writing to as you’re writing a book. Right so right you feel like you’re writing this for yourself or for others like you?

Heidi Tucker:       09:25          Yes and yes it was wonderful to write to get to have the words come out you know and to just sort of as I taught the reader I taught myself as well. You know I sort of listened as I wrote and I also felt like I wrote to others who might be in a similar position. So I felt like my audience was women and mothers and but I felt like it there were so many messages that it could be for, for anyone. And part of me thought too you know maybe this is just maybe I’ve been asked to do this because my testimony needs to be heard and known in my family. Maybe I have a grandchild or a great grandchild or great great grandchild in the future that will have my written testimony and that that will be important to them. So initially I didn’t I didn’t know that this would get published. You know I just thought maybe this is a family a personal family history.

Kurt Francom:       10:19          I’ve had similar thoughts with Leading Saints  and thought that you know this a lot of these episodes may not get out there to the world to the audience I hope they get to but my grandkids will sure have a fun time listening. You know right.  And so the whole premise of the book is based around finding hope. Obviously the title Finding Hope in the Journey. So are you did you feel like you’re addressing you know what to do as you experience trials where you found hope? Are you telling the story or is it more that you’re talking about tactics that have helped you?   

Heidi Tucker:      10:46          Both. I think you know I tell a lot of personal true stories that have happened to me or to my family and in those things there are veins of gospel principles that we can cling to to sort of get us through some of those. And so I touch on a lot of different patterns that helped me helped me find hope helped me find some motivation to continue forward when things were really difficult and well when times felt really dark. And so I touch on each of those. Another scripture study is making your prayers more effective and direct and allowing time in your schedule to really improve that process of prayer where we set ourselves up to have a two way conversation instead of us just rattling things off and you know and yeah and then falling off to sleep at 10:00 at night. So I just talk about a lot of different things like that family history understanding the sacrifices that your family has made in the past and and feeling. Sometimes all we need to do to do is to understand that it is our position to support that and to carry that forward. Everything that they’ve done in the past for us we need to do that as well be kind of an anchor in the Gospel for those who will then come after us.     

Kurt Francom:       12:07          Let’s talk about as far as prayer. How what did you learn about prayer through your own experience? How has that changed?

Heidi Tucker:       12:14          It really did change. I’m a little bit of a type A personality so when I’m in my house I see to do lists everywhere. Can’t get away from that.

Kurt Francom:       12:21           And I think you’re describing 90 percent of women.  Am I off base by saying that?  

Heidi Tucker:       12:21           I don’t know.  I don’t know.

Kurt Francom:       12:28           My wife is definitely that way that you know there’s a list of things to do and that’s my focus. Don’t get in my way.

Heidi Tucker:       12:32          Yeah my way. Right. Right. And so what I what I have found is if I get outside, if I get out of the house and get into the mountains and get out walking in the desert, if I’m here in Utah I’m walking in the mountains or just anywhere to get out to get out and have a real conversation with Heavenly Father.

Kurt Francom:       12:52          So this is you know prayer isn’t just reserved for on your knees.

Heidi Tucker:       12:56          Absolutely not. Absolutely not. My most effective prayers are when I’m away from my house. Now I’ve had some you know moments obviously where I’m you know beside my bed or I’m in a chair in another room or I’m driving in my car but I’ve made it a real pattern to take time away from everything electronics. I don’t even bring my phone. Nothing, it’s just me and the outdoor air and it’s a direct communication to Heavenly Father. And what it does is it puts me in a position to listen and to feel impressions. And that happens. That happens and I think I’m you know I’ve gotten to a point where our Heavenly Father knows that I’m in that position and he knows I’m going to hear that and so I’m so much more likely to hear a direction or a prompting at a time like that than I am when I’m home and I’m busy and distracted and there’s a lot of things going on.

Kurt Francom:       13:52          And you know you talk about your approach for expecting it to be a two way conversation that you’re listening not right not just shouting things to the universe right. How do you better facilitate them and create that two way communication?

Heidi Tucker:       14:06          You know I learned a good a really valuable lesson when I taught early morning seminary. I learned that you have to really protect sort of your you have to protect yourself from outside influences. When I was so reliant on the Spirit to teach these teenagers at 6 o’clock in the morning I quickly learned that I had to be very careful about what was playing on the radio. No your so your standard pop station. It felt some of the lyrics if I heard those I felt like that diminished my ability to feel the spirit. And so I was really I have to be really careful about music about television about movies.

Kurt Francom:       14:46          There’s nothing like getting in the scriptures every single morning to sort of start your day. And so that whole process of creating an environment where the spirit is strong and you’re a lot more likely to feel that and feel the direction that it’s taking you. And it sounds like not that you’re saying you know you shelter yourself from the things but mainly be intentional about how you’re approaching the mundane parts of your day.

Heidi Tucker:       15:03          Right. Exactly.

Kurt Francom:       15:16          So who would say you know with this book I know there’s sometimes I remember from my experience as a bishop or as a leader you’re faced with someone who’s just tired with life and just is looking for somebody to understand where they’re coming from and maybe sometimes they don’t like that leader does. So maybe describe those who would be. Who’s the audience for this book? I think everybody has trials right. And so anybody can gain from this but is there do you feel like because of your background or experience in life there’s a specific audience that this would be perfect in their hands.  

Heidi Tucker:       15:48          You know I do. I do a lot of firesides and I do a number of youth firesides and conferences and speak to them quite often and I do some Relief Society conferences and I would say that the number of bobbing heads and bright you know attentive eyes and just resonating with what I’m saying comes from the Relief Society women. They have been in the trenches raising kids. We all have wayward kids.  We all have difficulties with members of our extended families.  We all have stress.  We’re emotionally, we’re physically tested.  Sometimes spiritually tested.  And so, I really do, that’s probably my primary audience.  Women in the church or outside of the church. I’ve received a number of emails from women who are not members of the church but are Christian.  Of a different Christian faith.  And you really appreciate some of the insight.   

Kurt Francom:       16:47          I think in any message or classroom or conference talk. There’s always this undertone of you’re not doing enough and it’s not done in a negative way but you know that’s a message that people can get feel overwhelmed by especially sisters in the church when they sit in these classes. They feel like I’m just not measuring up or just not measuring up. What could you you know if you were in front of a room full of Bishops what can we better understand about what the Relief Society sisters are experiencing? Maybe we’re missing when it comes to trials and finding hope in life.

Heidi Tucker:       17:20          You know that everybody is doing their best. Certainly at the level that they’re at. Right. Because it’s it’s such a process. It’s not an event that we gain our testimony. It’s not an event that motivates us to be stronger. It’s a process of tiny little steps in the Gospel. In learning maybe the hard way or maybe hopefully the easy way of how to sort of better prepare ourselves better, handle the situation we’re in. It’s really taking it just a step at a time.  

Kurt Francom:       17:51          I guess what I’m getting at is that you know it’s I think there’s a lot of leaders that don’t know what to do with them. Right it’s like other than give, “Like well you know just go to the Scriptures and you’re doing fine.” , And but there’s just this. And I don’t know if it’s part of that human nature of just feeling like I’m not I’m not doing enough. I’m not you know man that family over there has it figured out.  You know it’s so easy to compare within the church and I think especially you know in high concentrated LDS areas.  There’s such a culture about it.  “Man that mom just gets it all done and she’s happy and beautiful and always has her makeup on and right then I’m just not there yet.”  And I think finding hope is getting away from that paradigm right. You know and I think bishops they want to be able to empathize with them not to say “oh just get over it you’re doing fine.”  But that doesn’t help right? How does your book go about it or does as you’ve written this how do you feel about connecting with that state of mind in order to bring them to hope?

Heidi Tucker:       18:55          Yeah. One of the most common reactions to the book that I hear is you are so real in the book.  You don’t hold back. You just say it like it is. You know the good the bad and the ugly and the emotions that are attached to that spiritual strugglestional struggles. And so I’ve always tried to sort of paint that picture of being real and allowing the reader to know me and to know what works for me. And fortunately it helps a lot of other people as well.

Kurt Francom:       19:28          There’s so much empathy when when you’re real they can. They can then be real you know.  And it’s sometimes hard for leaders because we want to set an example. We want to live you know at a high level high standard of life. But sometimes that effort makes it feel like oh we’re in a different class of people now and you’re not quite there. And we don’t mean for that  message to be communicated. So what would you say if there’s a relief society president out there and she’s like you know I want to be more real. What would you say to her?

Heidi Tucker:       20:02          I would say share personal experiences. You know we can combined with principles of the Gospel that work. That worked for her.  That work for a bishop. I mean maybe that he’s seen has worked for other people that have been in his office. You don’t have to use names.  You can just use you know generalizations but to just really help that person understand that they are not alone in struggles. It’s why we were here. Right. We came here to feel joy. We also came here to struggle. That is part of the plan. The struggle is as much a part of the plan as joy is. And so I think when we begin to understand that, that when it hits we cannot just say why me? We shouldn’t really ever say why me. Because of course if it’s part of the plan that’s why.  But to say what now.  What now should I do to climb up out of this pit that I am in?  Depending on what the trial is you know so.   

Kurt Francom:       21:04          What real life experience whether you share in the book or not that really resonates the most with the sisters or the readers that listen?  Is there one specific experience that comes to mind?  

Heidi Tucker:       21:15          From the book that I’ve mentioned?

Kurt Francom:       21:16          That’s a real story that people think wow I can resonate with that.  

Heidi Tucker:       21:20          Yeah.  You know it’s a variety.  Some of the readers have known kids that have come home early from missions and so they can sort of relate to that.  Relate to some of the struggles that he have and has and that I’ve had and they see that. I talk a little bit in there about chronic pain and I’ve had some chronic pain. I’ve had some depression. One of the reasons I get outside every morning first thing is depression is thick in my family. And so I’m always a step ahead of that. And I do that by being active. Getting out into the sunshine walking. I have a little bit of anxiety in the morning when I wake up. I don’t feel happy. I don’t feel positive about the day. There’s a little churning in my stomach. I feel a little dark. So I just go straight from my workout clothes and I’m out the door and I come back a very different person.  

Kurt Francom:       22:17          And I don’t think you’re necessarily saying that work for anybody that’s you know the prescription. But nonetheless I think leaders can encourage those that struggle to know what works for you what is different about those days that go well as the poor as opposed the others that don’t.   And and keying in on you know some habits that maybe help them and obviously you know there’s great counseling and therapy in extreme cases. And that’s as important.  Let’s pivot a bit to having a mission missionary return home early. You know the missionaries leave with such expectation. And when they return home early just their luggage is full of stigma.  Of shame. And you know it’s hard to say whose fault that is where the culture we’ve created. accidentally created.  But it is what it is. And my hope is that we can get past that as a general LDS community. And truly understand that and I think from what I understand more and more missionaries are coming home early with the age change to 18 just because you know some are more prepared than others. And it is what it is so maybe it tells a story what is as much as you feel comfortable sharing what real learning and experience did you gain from from and what we learn as leaders from this experience?

Heidi Tucker:       23:33          You know I think we’re getting better in general as congregations in the LDS church and in accepting these back. I think because it’s more common.  We’re seeing it more and more.  We all know somebody who’s come home. But I had a great ward, have a great ward who just really accepted him back with open arms. It was hard. You know in the we generally sat right up front and as a family for forever. All those years raising our kids and our first time back to church after he’d come home he said can we sit in the back. You know that says a lot. That says a lot. So we sat in the overflow. We’ve never sat in the overflow before.  You know his young man’s leader noticed him came right over and put his arms around him and said, “Hey let’s go hit some golf balls.”  You know I mean how great is that. And I had members that invited him out to dinner and just you know really kind of watched out for him and we don’t need to know why. That’s irrelevant,  It’s so personal to each missionary why they’re back. And we probably shouldn’t ask what they’re going to be doing.  What their plans are.

Kurt Francom:       24:44          OK.  You know it just seems like a logical question but…It’s so logical to say, are you going back? Or when are you going to go back?  Or what are you going to do?  And they don’t know.  They don’t know at that point. It’s all such a moment of turmoil and a period of time that’s just really difficult with a lot of unanswered questions. What role did the Bishop or what leadership role. Was there a specific leader that helped facilitate your son coming home?   And I know there’s obviously the mission president’s going to make a call to somebody.  Was it just to you is it to the stake president or how did that ….

Heidi Tucker:       25:24          He came home.  He was supposed to be in the MTC for 12 weeks going to Russia and he left the mission at 11 weeks. So he never got on the plane to go to Russia. So we just got a call from I think it was our state president called us and let us know that things were happening and that they were having conversations at the MTC and that we might need to be prepared to go get him and that we would know within 24 hours or so.

Kurt Francom:       25:52          And you’re down in Arizona.   

Heidi Tucker:       25:54          We were actually vacationing in Utah at the time.

Kurt Francom:       25:58          OK. Gotcha  And again I’m not here to disparage how one leader handed over another but is looking back in hindsight is there anything to that process you wish would have been handled a little bit better than it was or do you feel like it was generally okay.

Heidi Tucker:       26:12          Oh it was great. It was really great. Our bishop was kind and wonderful.  Attentive to his needs.  Attentive to my needs. I had a number of conversations privately with him in my own struggles with the whole issue and trying to understand what was happening and what options were available and all of that and so.  Everyone was really open and communicated well.  We didn’t really know you know obviously the real answer comes from Salt Lake City, I think, in a number of cases of whether they can return back or not. But it was just it was I have no no qualms about the way it was handled in our situation. The difficult part was the inner struggle over it. The inner turmoil that that I was facing. And it’s easy to beat yourself up as a mom and say, “Oh if I just had you know more family home evenings that were better.”  “If I had just right if I’d had more scripture study with the kids.”  “If I had just if I had just prepared him more to be a missionary?  I mean you can just the list goes on and on the what ifs you know and you can’t do that to yourself.

Kurt Francom:       27:18          So how did you get past that?  

Heidi Tucker:       27:20          I got past that by understanding that he was on his own path separate from me. I was able to separate myself as mother bear and little cub you know and to just say he is on his own path to salvation. I’m on my own path to salvation. And I have done the best that I know how to do. And so has he. So where he is is on a track back to his Heavenly Father and he’s had some speed bumps and so have I.   And we’re just sort of journeying along here and I can be supportive and I can just love him and just that was number one what I needed to do was to just love this boy and not judge. I didn’t want details. I still don’t know details. I don’t want to know details. And you just love him and pray that he’s you know stays with the church and in the Gospel. Right because we lose a lot of when boys come home it’s a critical time. And I knew that. I knew that we lose some then even further. You know they leave the church

Kurt Francom:       28:29          And you know I can’t agree more with this idea of just loving him and I think everybody lots of people would say that.  Want to do that. What more can you say? What does that actually look like?   How is that manifested? In this when you talk about you just recognize he’s on his own path. There is this the step of sort of letting go. Right. Saying I can’t drag him over my path.  He’s on his path. But we’re both on a path right. And so how does that love manifest itself?  Is it that you weren’t begging him to go to church on Sunday or you were just being open to him going down his path. But any example come to mind like what did loving him actually look like? How did that manifest itself.?

Heidi Tucker:       29:06          Despite how I felt inside. There was a smile on my face and a hug for him and encouraging words. You know you can do this. Have a great day. It’s just everything had to be positive because what we both were feeling inside was was negative and scary and emotional. So it was that it was supporting his decisions to have to find work. That was supporting decisions he’d made. Maybe I’ll go to Utah and go to college in Utah It was just being supportive of what he sort of was feeling was his path at that point and trying really hard not to judge and put him on a path that I wanted him to be on which might be very different from where he’s feeling like he needs to go.

Kurt Francom:       29:51          Yeah. And that’s probably a difficult line to walk because you don’t want to necessarily be the one that’s saying, “All right so so when are you going back.”   Right because right.

 

Heidi Tucker:       29:59          Right. Right. But initially I did. Initially I did that and I look back and I regret that. Yeah.

Kurt Francom:       30:03          Yeah. And when did you realize that wasn’t the best thing to say or encourage?

Heidi Tucker:       30:10          You just start to see that they are going to that they are struggling on their own but they’re forming their own path and they’re getting their own revelation from Heavenly Father and they’re figuring it out on their own and that as they should. Right. He’s not 12 anymore. He’s 20. Right. So. So I needed to let him do that.

Kurt Francom:       30:30          Well you know five years before you could say things like, No you are going on that Scout camp and you stay there.”  That’s exactly right.

Heidi Tucker:       30:37          That’s exactly right. What I had to do was to keep the seminary mom in me.  My kids all laugh and say, “Oh you’re  you’re such a seminary teacher.” What I wanted to do was chain him to a chair. Play the Mormon Tabernacle Choir music in the background. Put the scriptures in his lap and say. “Have a nice day.” Right. Can’t do that.

Kurt Francom:       30:55          And really you’re getting away from this idea that you’re going to fix it. The situation.  You’re going to fix it all.  He’s going to be on a mission in six months. Everything will be fixed all right. Nobody’s going to ask about him again. We’re all back. He’ll come home and the airport scene it will be great. But you’ve got to get away from that.  That’s what I’m hearing right?

Heidi Tucker:       31:13          We can’t fix our kids. You know when they reach a certain age you can’t fix your kids. You just need to love them. Love them and support them.

Kurt Francom:       31:20          And I think that’s the key there is that when you say when you truly mean that I’m just going to love them. You’re also saying I’m going to stop trying to fix them.  I mean that’s crucial because I think a lot of people say well yeah I’m going to keep loving them. “But hey listen now that everybody’s gone. Let’s talk a minute. When are you going back?  Right? Or how’s that job coming? “You going to get a job?  You have to do something.”  And it’s hard to make that transition because its an important work. And it sounds like there’s a sort of this this shell shock period of like the week or two after. There’s, you know, people at church are wondering. He wants to sit in the back row.  And then maybe there’s some normalcy.  That some rhythm to the life that comes back and then there’s this whole. there’s this long term process of now we’ve given him the hug. But if the Young Men’s president comes up and hugs me every Sunday and says you know let’s let’s go through four or five things this week. If he does that for 10 weeks in a row he’s going to start feeling weird like, I think you’re just doing this because you’re trying to fix me. So what did that time after that shell shock period. Was any advice there that that you learned as far as you keep encouraging him down his own path.  

Heidi Tucker:       32:27          Yeah. You know it was just normalcy and it just became the normal rhythms of the household and going to church. And of those things. I remember there was a day you know a few months after he’d come home that that he said,  “You know mom, I learned a hymn in Russian. What would you think if we sang that you know for Sacrament” What do you think if I sang that?” Oh so yes I called the Bishop and I said can he do this? Can he sing this, this hymn? And he said absolutely. So you know we worked on that together and he stood up and he I mean there was not a dry eye in the chapel. You know he sang it in part English and part Russian. Be Still My Soul.

Kurt Francom:       32:27          Powerful hymn.

Heidi Tucker:       33:09           Powerful. Powerful. I mean I just wept at the piano.

Kurt Francom:       33:09          Oh you had to play.   

Heidi Tucker:       33:09          I had to play. It was incredible.  You know it was just incredible.  And I think that everybody there understood we’re all trying.  We’re all trying.

Kurt Francom:       33:23          And it makes me think to my mind goes to you know getting them involved in some way, Where again, you don’t want to give them four or five callings because you’re just you know let’s give you it’s over structure your life right. And you get you too involved but nonetheless you’re almost just waiting for them to say you know I’m ready to dip my toe in the pool. Do you think that would be okay?  And then encouraging that.  Rather than throwing a bunch of responsibility or yeah you know you need to be meeting with the bishop once a week or.  You know let’s let’s make sure we don’t miss those appointments. We got to fix something. How would you describe that? What advice would you have as far as just allowing them to rather than you know get them engaged in the ward but allowing them keeping the door open so they asked to be involved.

Heidi Tucker:       34:06          Just being aware of what’s going on in the ward and the different functions and events that are going on with family and friends in the ward and being open about as I always am about welcoming and inviting him to be a part of that. But understanding that there’s things that he doesn’t want to go to. There’s things that he’d rather No. No thanks and no problem. See this is all wrapped up in also because these boys were right 18/19 leaving on missions. That’s exactly when we’re struggling as parents with letting go in general right?  And not, you know you will go to church and you will hear this and you will. So it’s a difficult time in general where we’re trying to let go of our children and let them be adults.

Kurt Francom:       34:53          And for directness from your point of view as a parent right you’re not suddenly being a lazy parent or a bad parent but you’re in transition to a different stage of life that it’s OK to just say well whatever you’d like.  Yeah. And you mentioned this Young Men  president you know hugged him and went to the driving range with them. Anything else. No those weeks following that leaders did that again sort of let him know that doors open for him to be involved as much as he would like to.

Heidi Tucker:       35:21          Yeah I think he was asked to do a few things in you know young men nights or I know I had him. He went and did some something for seminary where he just talked a little bit about the atonement. And so there was there was a few things that came up where people asked him, Hey would you be willing to do this?”  and he’d say “Sure you know sure I’ll do that. And so it just helped him continue to feel included in the ward as opposed to just leave him alone you know. It’s awkward for people they don’t know what to say so they say nothing.

Kurt Francom:       35:51          Yes. And that goes for any on with anything whether there’s a death in the family or absolutely tragic. We don’t know what to say so we don’t say anything when that’s not always the the best approach. But again we don’t know.  So making that invitation of, “Hey would you be willing to do this or that?”  And coming from a priesthood eader or Young Men’s president I would go a long way where…

Heidi Tucker:       36:17          Absolutely. And I you know that I’ve changed in my perspective on that since this has happened with him. And regardless of what it is whether I learn that someone has cancer or I learn of a death or someone’s got a problem with a missionary or anything like that I am so much more direct now.

Kurt Francom:       36:17          What do you mean “direct?”

Heidi Tucker:       36:36          Direct to…I will approach the person or the parent involved. And I just go up and I just give him a hug and say good to see you you know I heard such and such. Is that true?  I’m so sorry about that. Just I hit it direct.

Kurt Francom:       36:50          Where other people are going to dance around it, right?

Heidi Tucker:       36:52          Right, everybody dances around. Not everybody but most people dance around it.

Kurt Francom:       36:57          There’s a five hundred pound gorilla in the room. But let’s not look at it.  How’s your little kids doing? Like let’s talk about everything but that. To be direct and just say…

Heidi Tucker:       37:06           I’m just direct. You know just direct and it’s never it’s never been a problem. Yeah I think it’s appreciated.

Kurt Francom:       37:11          And if it was done out of love. You know I feel that love and you’ve established a relationship before that they know that you’re not just trying to poke.  

Heidi Tucker:       37:18          No there’s no judgment no judgment just love, just love and inclusion that hey we all got struggles.

Kurt Francom:       37:25          And that’s again goes back to to being real and I love you know you mentioned him singing in Russian. You know every return missionary they’re so proud of where they serve you know I served in Sacramento and for some reason I’m so proud of Northern California. For some reason even though there’s really nothing overly special about it from a boy from Utah but it’s cool to give him an opportunity to be proud of where he served. Even though he never stepped foot there it sounds like right. But that’s where he was called in and he learned some some Russian and was able to have a moment where he was proud of where he served rather than well let’s not even mention the mission because if what if you know people realize that you don’t speak Russian fluently and then ask questions.

Heidi Tucker:       38:04          Yeah. Yeah. But if you ask him he’ll say I served my mission in Russia. You know I was called to the Russian mission. And then if people want to continue talking then he can say, “Well I came home early.” But he’s a missionary. He just served it shorter than most. And he did get the opportunity to give away some Russian book of Mormons. He kept him in his truck, in the truck, and he found opportunities.  If you can believe that you know where people came up he was at work one day as a cashier and someone came walking up and he heard they were on their cell phone. They were in line to purchase their food and he was at the cashiers and he heard them speaking Russian on their cell phone. So when they hung up he spoke Russian to them.

Kurt Francom:       38:48          And they were like you know this is in Phoenix Arizona. They’re like, “What?  Where did where did you learn that.” So that starts the conversation. And he gave that woman a Book of Mormon and you know found or was able to take a break as cashier go over. run out to his car, get the Book of Mormon, the Russian Book of Mormon and gave it to her while she’s eating And months later she came back to that restaurant looking for him because she had been baptized. She’d gone home to Russia. Yeah. She’d gone home to Russia and found the missionaries. Wanted to know more. And she was back on a business trip and went specifically looking for him. And like this she said I was baptized so incredible is incredible. Yes I know. He came home from work that day and said Mom I got a baptism. I say absolutely. Well you have a baptism.

Kurt Francom:       39:37          Wow. I mean that you know we talk about the worth of souls in Doctrine & Covenants. You know what. Every bit of those 11 weeks or the turmoil, the stigma was obviously worth it. I mean it was able to speak up in that moment and be a missionary which he was called to be so right. Wow.

Heidi Tucker:       39:56          Well he still knew he still knew the first discussion. You know in Russian. And so he was able to tell her a little bit of that while he handed her the Book of Mormon. Yeah it was incredible.

Kurt Francom:       40:07          Well this is such a good discussion I think more needs to be said about this topic I think every, absolutely every, leader out there wants to create a scenario where that missionary returning home early is received with love, that they can pick up right where they left off you know where. So I think there are so many examples and the experiences where that’s just one big step out of the community. out of the church. out of you know that lifestyle and that’s unfortunate. So the more I think we can understand what they’re going through to be a few things to say a few things not to say and can go from there and so and obviously this takes us back to the general premise of your book right where life is. It sounds like you know you recognize you’re being real in this book that life is messy.   Right. And just because I’m seeking to live a perfect life as the savior asked me to doesn’t mean I’m perfect and doesn’t mean life unfolds perfectly because we’re the smiling family on the front row.  But here’s here’s some places to find hope and you talk about this. You know these patterns.  And I can see why it is on the bookshelves of Deseret Book.  And obviously you’re getting some good good response from it. Anything else that we’re missing as far as the premise of the book.?

Heidi Tucker:       41:20          Probably just in in finding hope we gain. It’s important to get  areal  eternal perspective on everything and to recognize that we are here on a field trip in essence you know we’re here. Heavenly Father could have sat us down in a theater and shown us a big IMAX movie which was a big wide screen right. This is what life is like. These are the ups and downs this is what a struggle looks like. That wasn’t enough. We came here to feel. And once we sort of understand that really really understand that we are here to feel. I just feel like that makes a huge difference in recognizing where we are emotionally, spiritually and moving forward from that and saying OK what am I going to do with this? What can I do to better myself?  What can I do to become closer to my Heavenly Father?  Everything that I talk about in the book essentially draws you closer to the Lord so that through the Atonement you can begin to heal and feel His love.  So that’s what’s key is understanding those points and understanding what to do with the grief and the despair that you feel in any situation. It doesn’t matter. I tell my story but readers come to me and they say you were telling your story. But as I read it it was my story.   

 

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