Sunday, November 23, 2014

One person's light.

I have been pondering lately on the influence each of us has on others, for good or for bad.  It started with my scripture studies.  I have been reading in the book of Alma in the Book of Mormon.  Currently, I have been studying Aaron's teachings to King Lamoni's father.  As I was reading the part where the people decide to call themselves the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's, I thought, let's see, where does this whole thing really start anyway?
Then I read back, and back and back a few generations.  The Anti-Nephi-Lehi's were the people of the lands of Nephi and Ishmael, under the reign of King Lamoni and King Lamoni's brother 'Anti-Nephi-Lehi (who was given the kingdom by King Lamoni's father).  These are the parents of the 2060 stripling warriors.  They are taught the gospel after Aaron teaches King Lamoni's father and he collapses to the earth as he prays to know God and be forgiven of his sins.  Then the queen comes in and sees Aaron standing over the king.  She commands his servants to slay Aaron.  The servants who have seen the interaction between Aaron and King Lamoni's father say, 'Uh, no.  We will not slay him.'  She then seeks to call the people to have them slay Aaron.  Then Aaron, realizing the determination of the queen to kill him, raises King Lamoni's father up and the father then testifies to the queen and his servants his miraculous change of heart, and commands that his people are taught by Aaron, Ammon and their brethren.

King Lamoni's father is open to listening to Aaron because on his journeys he runs into Lamoni and Ammon, where he almost loses his life but because of Ammon's example, the great king recognizes this Nephite's love for his son.  When Ammon spares his life and only asks in return that Lamoni and his people can be free to practice religion as they see fit, the father's heart is significantly softened (this is his event for opening up his heart to the gospel).

I'm sure you know the story of King Lamoni's conversion and how Ammon saves his sheep and the servants set to guard them.  King Lamoni and the servants are open to Ammon's words because of his ability to protect them and the sheep and then his willingness to continue in his duties as if that was just a normal part of his day.  Ammon's example and that event is what opens their heart to the hearing of Ammon's words.  During this story, after Ammon explains the doctrines to King Lamoni and Lamoni sinks to the earth, as his father then does later, his servants take him to his bed and he lies there for two days before the queen sends for Ammon to receive counsel about her husband.  She says, 'people say he stinks and we should put him in the ground, but I'm not sure.  What do you think?'  To which Ammon says, 'he sleeps in God, tomorrow he will awake'. 
I wondered, how did Ammon know he would wake up the next day?  Then I remembered, Ammon is one of the sons of King Mosiah.  He is one of Alma the Younger's buddies and he was with him when the angel showed up and Alma the Younger sunk to the earth and was out for three days!!  Ammon has seen this before!  This wasn't new to him.  That experience was Ammon's 'wake-up' call.

Why did Alma the Younger and the four sons of Mosiah (Ammon, Aaron, Omner and Himni) have their miraculous experience of having an angel call them to repentance?  Well, that would be because Alma the Elder had been praying for something to help his son change and know the truth.  Alma the Elder, you recall, was the only one of the priests in the court of King Noah, who listened and heard and believed the prophet Abinadi (who testified before them in chains and was burned alive) Mosiah chapters 11-17

All of these miraculous changes come about because one man was willing to testify before a generation of wickedness and lose his life.  In the space of maybe three generations, but within the lifetimes of two men, thousands of people (specifically Lamanites!) are converted!!  Their conversion is so great and amazing, their faith so very strong, that their children fight in battle for the Nephites and though they are young and inexperienced, they do not lose their lives in the battle.   This is amazing!!  (Do you realize that Alma is our largest volume of record in the Book of Mormon, but it only covers about 40 years of time?  Why do you think that is?!  We get a detailed look at Alma's society and it is only 50 years or so before the coming of Christ.  Think about that for awhile!  This book was compiled for our day!!)
Now here is how that applies to us.  We do not usually see the changes that occur across the generations from us into the future.  We cannot know or understand how our behavior in the present will affect generations down the road.  But we can look at history and see how one person's behavior affected thousands of people, then we hail those people as heros, or prophets.  "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass."  Drew's favorite saying is:  The Lord will not use a spotlight, where a flashlight will do the job.  A lot of times, we are looking for the dramatic, the amazing, the spectacular.

I am sure Abinadi did not believe that what he was doing was spectacular.  During his mortality, it appeared no one was listening to him.  Without his courage and faith and obedience in standing and testifying before the court of King Noah and calling them to repentance, the entire string of Alma (and those souls who followed him--more than 450 or so), Alma the Younger and the four sons of Mosiah, their teaching of the Lamanites (all of King Lamoni's people and his brother's people----all those Lamanites in the lands of Ishmael, Middoni, Nephi, Shilom, Shemlon, Lemuel, and Shimnilom---plus those who are converted when the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's won't fight, more than 1,005), and their children 2060 (young men only--so we could probably double that to include the girls).........that is an extremely conservative estimate of more than 76,000 people (10,000 for each city listed, and I didn't include Limhi and his people, who Alma baptizes-descendents of King Noah )!!  From one man's testimony!!!  One man, who didn't appear to making a difference in mortality!
My point is:  What are we doing with our mortality?!  We may not feel we are making a difference.  We may believe no one is listening to us.  But I am hear to tell you, your behavior and your example do make a difference.  You might be the flashlight the Lord is trying to work with in illuminating a generation of people, like He did with Abinadi.  The Lord knows who is listening.  He has a generational perspective.  We do not.

The adversary would tell us our example does not make a difference.  You are only one man or one woman, no one is listening, it doesn't matter.  That is a lie!  One man or one woman matters!!  Your example and your faith and obedience and determination does matter!  It matters over generations!  Be the voice!  Stand up for your beliefs, even if you stand alone!!  (Because though it feels that way and may look that way, you are never alone when you stand for righteousness because God and His angels are standing beside you and rooting for you and praying for you!!!)

If you need a further witness, read Mitt Romney's devotional forum to BYU this last week.  Stand strong, stand firm, stand alone if necessary!!

Friday, November 21, 2014

FFF#41 Toilet Training Trials

I had this great blog post planned for today!  Then life has hit me and I am swimming in toddler underwear and urine.  Sweet!  My favorite!  So in lieu of something uplifting, I will just recount the adventures we have been having at our house.

So Spike, Spike has been able to use the toilet since he was about 2 and 1/2, an entire year ago.  Last year, during the Christmas holidays, I spent some of his money on training pants.  I thought we were totally ready to go.  They sat there, and sat there and sat there for an entire year!  Once in a while, I would bring them up and ask Spike if he would like to try them out.  The answer was always the same, "No, not right now, maybe another day."  Then I would wait for weeks or months and then ask him again.  And that is how it went for the last year.

Finally, now that he is 3 and 1/2 and Primary Sunbeams class is happening in January, I thought, good grief. It is time to get this show on the road!  I thought maybe I was handling him wrong.  After raising 8 toddlers, I thought I knew what I was doing and pretty much had a handle on this whole potty training thingy.  Well, Smiley was not a willing potty trainer either.  I learned with him, that the 'wait until they're ready' method, doesn't work with every single child.  It is good for most, and necessary for all (in that if you push them too hard, you will make the problem worse).   This isn't about potty training the parents, it is potty training the child.

When I convinced Smiley that wearing underwear would be cool and that he could hold his urine until he was ready to put it into the toilet and that way keep his pants dry, he took me literally (which his personality is prone to do.......but he was so little that I didn't know it then).  He literally held his urine the entire day!  He put on the underwear in the morning after his wet diaper and kept them dry until 8 p.m. that night.  The kid would not use the toilet and he did not wet his pants.  I was worried we were going to have to take him to the emergency room before he ruptured his bladder.  Well, as I explained the situation to my husband, Drew said, he is just going to have to go.  And then Drew sat him on the toddler toilet and held him there until he would go.  Smiley screamed and screamed and screamed, beads of sweat were rolling down of his head, and started kicking because he was so upset.  He finally lost all control and urine went everywhere!  It was awful!!  But, that was all he needed.  From then on, Smiley used the toilet and potty training was a breeze from there on out.  But that first day, good grief!!  What a day!

As I pondered Smiley's experiences and thought about Spike's personality, I realized he hates change, fights change, but once it happens, he manages.  Wearing underwear is a change.  So yesterday, I fought through it.  I had been prepping him for three days.  I told him when the package of diapers we were using ran out, we were not going to wear them anymore.  I made him try on his underwear once a day.  He could pull it right back off, but I strongly encouraged him to (and didn't let him get out of) putting them on his body.  The morning the diaper package ran out, I told him it was time to wear them.  He refused.  He refused to let me change his diaper.  So I told him that when the diaper got so full that it leaked, it was coming off and then we were wearing underwear.  Period.  No exceptions.  I went about my day.
About 2 hours later, the moment was upon us.  He had a bowel movement and it was everywhere.  The day before, he had one that didn't get changed right away and made him sore.  I reminded him that if I didn't get it off his rear end, it was going to be sore and hurt.  He let me take it off and clean him.  Then I told him it was time to wear underwear.  I had brought them all out earlier in the morning when I tried to put them on him.  I told him to choose his pair.  He refused and screamed for his diaper.  I refused and told him that I would be happy to put him in underwear but if that is not what he wanted, he would just have to be naked.  That went on for half an hour with him yelling at me to put a diaper on him, and me quietly repeating that I would not put a diaper on him but would be happy to put underwear on him.

Then I had a stroke of genius.  It was probably the Spirit helping me to motivate my child.  But the last two weeks, Spike has gone grocery shopping with me and I have gotten him a Churro from Costco for behaving well while we are shopping.  It was grocery shopping day.  I told him that I needed to go to the grocery store, but unless he was wearing pants and underwear, he would not be able to go with me.  I would have to just get  a churro by myself.  Since it was raining, he would have to have underwear and pants, and socks and shoes and a sweater.  Oh well.  I guess I'll just go by myself.  That did the trick.  He was willing to put on his underwear and pants.

Before we left for shopping, I took him into the bathroom and asked him to use the toilet so we could go shopping without an accident.  He did!  I packed a bag for him in case we had an accident while shopping.  We finished our shopping, churro in hand, and went and picked his brothers up from school and got home all without incident.  Then I took him to the bathroom at home.  It was a super successful day, just because he was willing to wear underwear (even though we went through five pair)!!!  It was a miracle!

He even wore them to bed!!  I just took him to the toilet before bed and again when he woke up.  At this point, I have to take him to the toilet.  He is not willing to decide for himself and take himself there.  But this is all in the process right?  We rejoice in the little steps and congratulate heavily, the small steps!!  At this point, we had tried all of my potty training tricks that worked with the other children.  None were working with Spike.  He is not the other children.  He needed a different routine and different motivations and different rewards.  It is just not the normal stuff and he is exhausting!

Each trip to the toilet is a battle of the wills and an exercise in diplomacy.  (And because he loves to drink water, today I have to set the timer to take him to the toilet, or I forget and he has an accident.)  Wish me luck!! Maybe by the end of the Thanksgiving Holiday, Spike will have this whole toilet training thing mastered!!  (And I will have survived my most difficult child to date!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why I love small town living!

Today, the automatic sliding door on my mini-van (that I was so excited about having when we got the mini-van) decided that it didn't need to close.  It didn't seem to matter what I did to it, I couldn't get it to close.  So obnoxious!  I cleaned the sensor thingy on the door.  Nothing.  I pushed the buttons a zillion times, the one overhead, the one on the side of the door and the one on my key fob.  Nothing.  I waited until the door was almost closed and then I forced it shut with my awesome hip action (because I have plenty of uhm-pah to close that door).  It closed!  A momentary hooray!  Then the car opened it back up.  Oy!
So I decided to call my mechanics, which I use so regularly their number is in my cell phone.  They are really awesome guys!  It is really pathetic when you just have to say, "Ya....this is Carin." and they say, "Oh Hi!  How's it going?"  Better if I wasn't calling you...... but I digress.  I talked with Reed.  He said, "Well, we could look at it for you, but we are super busy today.  Tomorrow would be better."

That's all fine and good, but I live where the weather can change and will change and choose to rain in a matter of 15 minutes.  It can be gorgeous and sunny, and warm and 15 minutes later windy and rainy and cold.  I couldn't leave the door opened until later today and especially not until tomorrow.  (I can't park it in the garage right now either.  Ya'....don't ask about that!  The garage door isn't working either.)

So what does Reed do?  He says, "See if there is a fuse or an override switch that will control that."

"Would that be in the owner's manual?"


"Alright," as I proceed to read him all the fuse listings in my owner's manual.  Nothing.  Then I find something in the index that says 'resetting the power sliding door'.  That looks promising!  Reed tells me to read it to him.  Which I do.

Then he says, "Oh, so there is an override button."

"There is? How did you get that out of .......?"

"Carin, look for the override button panel."  I, of course, automobile illiterate individual, have to look it up in the owner's manual.  "Oh, here it is.  What?!  I use that button all the time!!  I just knew when I pushed it, the kids couldn't open the door. Ha ha..."

"Try the button and see if you can close the door."  Which I did.  And voila!  The door closed!  Then I reread something else and realized, oh the door does that when the fuse is blown.  So I do need to go have those guys take care of that for me because the fuses are under the hood, and if you have lifted the hood of my car, you would know that I have to take out the entire engine to reach anything in there.

BUT!  I do not have drive the car right down to the mechanic and have it fixed right now, because Reed was willing to spend 15 minutes on the phone with me!!  Because he knows me and I take my car to his shop all the time and have for the past 16 years!  Not this car, but many, many cars over the 16 years!!
Just glad I wasn't calling about this!

And THAT is why I love living in a small town!!  That not only happens to me at the mechanic's, but at the doctor's office too, and our elementary school, and even sometimes at the dentist's office.  Person to person service, the way it used to be.

Thanks Reed!!!  I needed you today!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings....

My husband and son (Speedy) went to Priesthood leadership meeting last night (for our stake).  Drew had to be there significantly early for a different meeting, held in conjunction with the stake priesthood meeting.  Anyway, the guys left at 3:30 and weren't going to be home until 8:30 at the earliest.
The kiddos who were left home and I decided that we wanted to just relax and enjoy our weekend.  We made smoothies for dinner, along with a pot of chili and the a few of the rolls I had made for the priesthood meeting.  I sat down on the couch to read a book (not one of my personal choosing, one that I am reading to help Sun with her English class, but it is still a fun read).

Spike needed attention.  I don't know what his issue was but about an hour after dinner, he came into the living room snuggled under my blanket, flew his airplane in front of my book and around my arms so that I could not read it, rolled over (about a million times), kicked me on my bruised shin, and got upset when I wasn't cooperating with his questioning.  Then, as I was finally getting the hint and climbing out of my blanket and putting my book down, his diaper leaked all over my blanket.  Lovely!
So I put him into the bathtub.  Spike does not always cooperate in the bath, so there was a little drama when I was already irritated.  But we managed to wade through that.  By 8:30, he was finally ready for bed and we read our scriptures, said our prayers, and I sent him off to have his teeth brushed and climb into bed.

About that time, Drew called to say they were on their way home.  When they arrived, Slim was with them.  What?!!  I thought you were in Utah?  What are you doing here?  (Enter Slim's friends).  He didn't answer my question for about an hour or so.  But when he finally got around to it, he told me the story.

After the truck he was catching a ride in left our home town, about 30 minutes up the road, the driver realized that he had the wrong trailer attached to his cab.  He turned around and came back.  While that was happening, Slim had the thought that the truck was turning around so that he could get off of it here at home.  Then he rationalized that he had a bunch of things lined up in Utah this week that he didn't want to miss, and coming back home didn't make any sense to him.  So when the truck got here and changed trailers, Slim just went along with it and decided to go ahead and continue his journey.  Three hours later, as he arrived at our friend's house, he had kind of come to the understanding that the Lord wanted him to be home and not on this trip.  During his ride, Slim had some insights as to why being home would be more beneficial to him instead of taking this trip to Utah.  He also decided to stay with our friend for the few days he was there, to help them with the work they had to do.  Then he was able to have one of his buddies drive out and pick him up.
After he told me the story, he looked right at me and said, "I learned a little more what it means to 'counsel with the Lord'."  And so it goes.

Many times, as we are trying to decide what we should do in any given circumstances, or what decisions we should be making, we do take the initiative to study it out in our own minds.  We decide what to do.  Then we inform the Lord what we are doing and how we are going to do it.

If we are wise in our decision making, after we have decided what we think we should do, we will ask the Lord what He would have us do.  As we participate in that process, and ask for His counsel and guidance, it is then that He can tell us what He would have us do.  He may or may not tell us the reasoning.  Slim received some specific counsel and specific guidance regarding how this trip would risk a greater vision and plan the Lord had in mind for him.  Thus, when push came to shove, Slim agreed with the Lord's ideas and thoughts about the matter.  Then he was humble enough to set aside the immediate desires of his heart for a greater plan.

I love seeing that my men are growing in the counsel and admonitions of the Lord!!  I don't always get to see that, but I am grateful Slim shared his story with us and glad that he is home from his travels, even if they didn't go according to our expectations.

Friday, November 14, 2014

FFF #40---Go, and Do Thou Likewise

So my blogging efforts have not been as regular as I would have like them to be.  Spike Spike has been sick for three days, fever, throwing up, and awake in the night.  Today he must be feeling better because he is actually eating and he wants me to do everything with him!  "Mommy, watch my show with me."  "Mommy, sing Wonder Pets with me!"  "Mommy, come and play with me."  I don't mind and I like spending time with my little guy, but it was just slightly easier when he was on the couch in a blanket sleeping because he didn't feel well.  Not complaining!  I just can't believe how demanding he is today.

Slim is on his way to Utah for a wedding this week.  We have friends who offered to drive him out there with them and he knows people he can stay with, so his trip is relatively inexpensive.  (Not like we can support multiple trips across the country!)

Speedy made his school's basketball team!  That will add practices to our already kind of crazy schedule, though it is getting to that season.  Everyone plays basketball at our house, except Sun.  So right around Thanksgiving, it is time to sign everyone up for their teams.  We will be working on that in the next couple of weeks.  And we have parent/teacher conferences where we get a face to face update with how our children are doing in their classes.

Today I took lunch to a friend who just had a baby.  In our church, when a family has a new baby, or when someone is sick, or there has been a death in the family, we all band together and do what we can to assist the family.  We bring dinners, maybe we watch the other kids, maybe we wash laundry or help get the house ready for guests, or anything else the family might need to assist them during their time of transition.

 People have done this for us, as well.  I cannot tell you the relief it has been to me in such times of stress or sadness.  When Slim was so very, very sick as an infant, we had people who didn't even know us donate money to our family.  It paid for two months of our rent.  We had one of our friends do all of our laundry.  One of the families in the ward stocked our refrigerator with with easily prepared foods so we could spend most of our time at the hospital.  People came and sat with us at the hospital.  People prayed for us and fasted for our family.  I think our ward paid our electricity bill.  You can bet I spent most of the month crying, not only because I was worried and stressed about my baby, but because of the love and support we received from those around us.

I just got off the phone with a friend who has been so very, very frustrated with all of the social media hype about the Prophet Joseph Smith and his stance and participation in polygamy.  And with all the discussions about the Church's stance on homosexuality and same gender marriage.  I have to tell you, with all of the contention and wide and varying opinions on these issues, we are missing the bigger picture.  Where is our humanity?!

Without contending on controversial issues, can we just remember that we are all children of God?  That He loves all of us?  That He wants all of us to be happy, safe, loved, nurtured, fed, sheltered, helped?  Can we decide today that we are going to be one of those people?  Can we reach out in our small, intimate circle of people and represent the Light He sent us?  Can we follow the example that has been set for us about how to show our love for the Savior by serving our fellow men and women?  If that is not how others have treated us, will we decide to set a different example for those we interact with?
I don't know about you, but I for one have decided that I want to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ!  I want to help others and love others, and serve others.  They may not be like me, look like me, smell like me, talk like me.......but I know He loves them too and I know He wants them to feel safe and happy and loved.  He knows I might be able to help them receive that, whether that is my children, my family, my neighbors, or my brothers and sisters who live across the world and who do not know me, or believe as I do.

I do not believe I should enforce my beliefs on others by force.  I acknowledge and respect their agency to choose for themselves.  With our differing beliefs, can we not come together and acknowledge our shared humanity, our shared existence, our shared desire for life, family, children?

I think we can!  I wish we would!  The most important thing we can do today is to decide that we will!!  (Even when others don't do that for us!)  If each one of us decided to do that today and then again tomorrow and those we share simple acts of kindness with do likewise, think of the awesome force for good and change we could become!!  Will you do it?  Will you join me?

Here are the words of Elder Hugo E. Martinez and his feelings about this topic: (Full text here!)
I believe the words of the Savior in the parable of the good Samaritan apply to us: “Go, and do thou likewise.”4
On September 21, 1998, Hurricane Georges hit Puerto Rico, causing extensive damage. Sister Martinez, our five children, and I managed to survive that great storm and its hurricane-force winds by staying in our home. However, we went two weeks without running water and without power.

When our supply of water ran out, obtaining more was difficult. I will never forget the brethren who ministered to us by providing that precious liquid, nor will I forget the loving way the sisters also served us.

Germán Colón came to our house with a large plastic water container in a pickup truck. He told us he was doing it because, in his words, “I know you have little children who need water.” A couple of days later, Brothers Noel Muñoz and Herminio Gómez loaded three large water tanks onto a flatbed truck. They showed up at our house unexpectedly and filled every available water bottle with drinking water, also inviting our neighbors to fill theirs.

Our prayers were answered by their personal ministries. The faces of those three brethren reflected the love that Jesus Christ has for us, and their service—in other words, their personal ministry—brought much more than drinking water into our lives. To every son or daughter of God, knowing that people are interested in and watching out for his or her welfare is essential.

I testify to you that Heavenly Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ, know us individually and personally. For that reason, They provide what we need so we will have the opportunity to reach our divine potential. Along the road, They place people who will help us. Then, as we become instruments in Their hands, we are able to serve and help those They show to us by revelation.
In this way, the Lord Jesus Christ will reach all of Heavenly Father’s children. The Good Shepherd will gather all His sheep. He will do so one by one as they make good use of their moral agency—after hearing the voice of His servants and receiving their ministrations. Then they will recognize His voice, and they will follow Him. Such personal ministry is integral to keeping our baptismal covenants.

Likewise, being a good example of a disciple of Jesus Christ is our best letter of introduction to those with whom we can share His gospel. As we open our mouths and share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we become “His undershepherds, charged with nourishing the sheep of His pasture and the lambs of His fold”5; we become “the weak and the simple”6 “fishers of men.”7
Think of the good one person can do!

Have a great weekend!!