Friday, July 25, 2014

FFF#28--When things don't go as planned.

In the last two months, our two oldest boys have had plans that haven't gone quite as expected.  They weren't little plans.  Spanky was going to be married and his plans fell through.  Slim's graduate school attendance has been put on hold.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

My friend's plans (in this post FFF #26) changed drastically when her husband was killed.  They were making plans to have another baby.

My friends in this post (FFF #25) never planned on their husbands having cancer and having to fight that battle.

We all have times when life throws us curve balls, where things happen to us that were unexpected and unplanned.  Those are difficult times.

We had been married a year and just had a brand new baby when we found out our baby would need emergency surgery, maybe not live through the surgery, ended up being in newborn ICU for a month, and had a colostomy for two and a half years, and during that two years had another 3 major surgeries and 7 minor ones, during which time we also found out he had would go into anaphylactic shock when exposed to peanuts.  We had a new baby, who was born with a heart murmur and spent a night or two in the hospital, and we were both in school during that period of time, too.  It was a crazy, crazy time.  I think back to those days and it just appears as a big nightmare, a bad dream.  It doesn't seem real that we did those things.

But, whenever I am faced with some one's tragedy, whose is similar to what I experienced, the feelings come back.  I know what they need.  I know what they are thinking and feeling.  I know what I can do to help.

My thought with this post is what can we do when our plans completely fall apart and life is drastically different than we thought?  How can we emotionally handle the difficulties we are facing?  It is very normal to go through the grief process when anything unexpected happens that causes us loss.  It may be loss of a spouse, friend, or family member; loss of an opportunity; loss of hopes, dreams, or plans.  Usually the major loss (that of a person or things falling through) is accompanied with smaller losses (our plans, hopes, dreams with that person or opportunity) so loss is not just one thing, but it is multiple losses.  Our grief may surface many times as we are managing the day to day and 'new' loss comes to our attention.
copyright: Karen Larsen photography

So let's talk a little about the grieving process.  I am going to list them as steps, but don't think you can just choose which one you want to be on.  It doesn't work like that.  Those going through the grieving process will usually pass through each stage on their own.  Unfortunately with grief, there is no time table.  You also do not get to pick and choose.  It is a process.  Social scientists have been able to document the process and study it.  They believe it to be fairly universal, though not everyone gets to the acceptance stage.

The first part is Denial and Isolation.  It is normal to deny the reality of what has just happened to us, or the loss we have just experienced.  It is also normal to want to avoid other people.  You are struggling to manage your own emotions and the current and unexpected reality you are facing.  Having to think about other people or their problems and managing your behavior in the current state is stressful and added 'stuff' for you to try to manage in your already difficult emotional situation.  Give yourself permission to isolate yourself as you come to terms with your feelings.  It is OK.  If you have small children who need your supervision and love, see if a friend or family member can take them to play or do something fun so you can have a few hours to grieve.  If, however, your children are also grieving, be extra sensitive to the fact that if your push them away, now they have added grief because of your emotional struggles.  Grieve together.  Pull them out of school so they can be isolated as well and not have to face the questions of others.  They are having a similar experience to yours.  Their loss is just as real, and because small children do not always know what they are feeling, they may not have any idea or words to give you to express their needs.  But recognize they are there and they need you to help them meet their needs.

Anger usually follows denial.  When my friend's husband died unexpectedly, she would tell me that she spent the evening  yelling at his photo.  She was so hurt and so angry that he just died unexpectedly and left her to manage everything all alone.  She was angry at others and the things they said about the accident and about her family.  I just listened to her when she wanted to vent.  She needed to know it was OK that she was angry.  It was also alright for her to let others know she was angry.  She needed to choose a safe place to put her anger.  That was me.  It would not have been appropriate or healthy to vent at her children.  They would not understand or know what to do with that.  They may internalize it and think she was mad at them because their father died.  What would that do to their little self-esteem?  They will have their own anger in their own time because their father is gone.  When that happens, their mother will need to be patient with them and help them to know that their anger is OK.  She can give them appropriate ways to show their anger.  For example, "when you are angry because your father is gone you can go and punch the punching bag, or write him a nasty letter, or go out and paint the fence!"  If you give them positive places and behaviors to manage their anger, they will learn how to appropriately manage their anger in the future.  If you do not want them, for instance, hitting people when they are angry, maybe you wouldn't want to allow them to punch the punching bag (or teach them to hit things when they are mad---different people will have different philosophies about what would be appropriate behavior when they are angry).  And if you are at a total loss for thinking of an appropriate behavior, then pray about it.  The Lord knows you and your little person.  He knows perfectly how he/she is feeling and what behaviors would help your little person through their grieving process.
copyright: Karen Larsen photography

Step three is called Bargaining.  The idea is basically that you second guess yourself or the circumstances or situation.  If you had just done things a little differently, this tragedy would not have happened to you.  Or for a pending tragedy (terminal illness of yourself or a loved one), if you (God, or the powers that be) will just take this away from us, I will.......(fill in the blank).  This is normal.  None of us want to do things that are hard for us or painful.  It is not a sign of a healthy person to want to inflict pain on ourselves.  We want to be in control and sometimes we are willing to make a deal in order to avoid pain or think that if we had only (done this) then (our tragedy) wouldn't have happened.  But the truth is, we are not in control, as much as we would like to believe we are.  Someone else is.  I believe and know He is our Father in Heaven, who loves us, understands us more than we understand ourselves, and has a bigger perspective than we can really know.  What is the scripture, "For my thoughts are not thy thoughts, nor my ways thy ways...."  something like that. (Isaiah 55:8-9)  His plan is what is best for us, even though we may not have the same understanding or perspective.  We can have faith in His plan, even when it hurts.  Here is a talk about putting our trust in Him during times of trial.  Elder Anderson, October 2012, Trial of Your Faith. 

As your shock, anger, and second guessing subside, the reality of your situation and circumstances sets in.  (My linear description is apparently not completely accurate.  Grief is not necessarily a linear progression. The stages can occur in any order.)  Some people label this step as Depression.  I prefer to label it Mourning.  It is just deep, deep sadness where you feel your loss profoundly.  Again, there is no time-table here.  Each person will experience their loss uniquely.  Others may want those experiencing loss to 'snap-out of it' or 'get on with it'.  But those experiencing their loss just need time and understanding and support.  Sometimes you may think you are doing well and moving on, and then your mourning may over-take you again.  That is alright and just a part of how you or others are managing the grieving process.  My sweet friend had a dream one night that life for her was like it was before her husband died.  She woke up in the morning to face the reality of her situation, again.  That was a really, really hard day for her.  But you know what?  It showed that she was moving through her grief.  She was able to dream about her life and what she thought it was going to be.  It did make the next day hard, but those are the same feelings she will have when she crosses the veil and sees her sweetheart again.  He is not gone forever.  He is just gone for mortality.

The last step is recognized as Acceptance.  This stage is characterized by continuing to build your life in light of your new circumstances, either without your loved one, or without your original hopes and dreams.  Some people never make it here.  Some are so sad and so upset that maybe they do not ever leave anger, or they get stuck in mourning.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

Each of us will respond based on our understanding and knowledge about mortality and our purposes here on earth.  When our oldest son was so sick and so little, the people who had the most difficult time with his illness and the possibility of his death were those who did not share our faith and understanding of the plan of salvation.  For example, Drew and I knew that if our Slim were to die as an infant, he would be saved in the Celestial Kingdom, which meant that one of our children made it!  Then our job would be to do all that we could to be worthy to be there with him.  We would see him again one day.  We would rejoice in his mortality together even though it would have been cut short.  And if he didn't die, we would get to keep him!!  (Personally, with as difficult as he was for us to raise, I was often reminded that I had prayed for his life and now it was time for me to do my part---double edged sword, that kid!)  Those were our thoughts during those days.  They were filled with plenty of tears, plenty of prayers, and a lot of loneliness, even though it was a short period.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
I do not want you to think that I am equating Slim's illness with other people's greater losses.  I guess the point is that we each have loss, to one degree or another.  We experience the grief process, to one degree or another.  I went through the process when my grandparents were unexpectedly killed in an automobile accident when I was 13.  I went through it again when my parents divorced, though I kind of stuffed all of that inside and it has been a lot of years coming out.  Spanky experienced it with his broken engagement.  My friend who lost her spouse and her children, and my two friends with terminal illnesses and their sweet families are going through it now.

Life is not meant to be easy.  It is to minister to our growth and development.  Sometimes, we only learn certain things, by the trials and loss we face.  But when we do so with faith, and we have an idea of what is happening and how to put things into perspective, we can eventually be made whole again, through the miracle of the atonement of our Savior.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

THREE??!! Already!

Spike, Spike turns three today.  Where has the time gone?  I wanted to have a current photo, but we are still having camera issues, so you'll just have to imagine from Christmas.

My little man says the funniest things!  He has a fire car that he calls his 'wooo who woooo who car' because it has a siren and when you open the doors, the siren goes on and the lights too, of course.  When people ask about the car, which is painted red, he assures them it is a police car, even though it says 'fire' on the side.  Oh well.

Yesterday he was hilarious!  We were visiting a friend to check out her backyard.  It was a huge mound of dirt that she has been trying to clear away and build a retaining wall.  There is still quite a little mound out there and her little guy put one of his toys on the top of it where no one could reach it.  Spike wanted to get it down so he tried to start climbing the mound.  Finally he looks at me and says, 'I can't climb that.  It's too steep.'  I just looked at him totally confused.  What three year old knows the word 'steep' and how to use it??  And where did he hear it anyway?

With his dust allergy, we have been putting in hardwood floors, which has been a little crazy, but seems to have made a big difference, so far.

Let's see.....

Spike, I want you to know how fiercely I love you.  You crack me up.  You are so demanding and insistent about me helping you when, where and how you want it that sometimes I have to go outside and just breath before I can help.  You are exhausting.  If I were a younger mom, you would be having a really, really hard time.  I would be so much less patient and less kind.  You are so very sensitive.  You can tell how people are feeling just by the looks on their faces and the tone in their voices.

Two days ago, as we were all moving the furniture back into one of the bedrooms because the floor had just been laid that day, I came into the kitchen to find you using my four cup measuring cup, scooping out sugar onto the floor and spreading all over the kitchen.  I didn't lose my cool.  I simply said, "No Spike, No.  This is not OK," and I took it away from you and escorted you kindly out of the kitchen.  It broke your heart and you started sobbing.  I wasn't even angry and my tone was kind, just firm.  You cried and cried until I came into you, hugged you, and told you that I wasn't mad, but we couldn't make a mess in the kitchen.

It is so very, very good that your siblings love you!  You still get up every night, sometimes two or three times.  (I think it is mostly due to allergies.)  But your sister gets up with you every night and then you usually climb over your bed and into hers and snuggle with her until the morning.  You love to talk on the phone, or SKYPE on the computer to your brothers who are away at college.  And you pray for all of them and for our missionaries.

You require all of my effort and energy, but you love all of us and you give the very best hugs and kisses, especially before bed time.  And you are so funny.  When you smell something that is nasty, you say, "Peeeuuuusky."

The most important things are that you know Jesus loves you and you recognize his pictures.  I love you dearly and when you are sleeping I watch you and am just in awe of how full my heart is when I look at you.  (I don't feel that way, however, when you are screaming in my face and kicking and flailing your body because I won't do what you want.  I really don't like that.)

But thanks for coming to our house.  We love you, attitude and all!
Love Mom

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Becoming the Pure in Heart.

Here is my sacrament meeting talk for today.  As most of you will not be in my ward to hear it, I feel safe putting it out here on the blog.  But if you choose to reference it, please be kind and give credit where credit is due.  (I have tried to do likewise by posting the links to my information.)

Jacob 3:1-2:  But behold, I Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart.  Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.

           O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.

Specific assignment:  The pure in heart receive the pleasing word of God, how it brings us to the Savior; what are the blessings of purity?

Firmness of mind

Alma 57: 26 & 27:  Helaman is speaking of the 2060 stripling warriors…And we do justly acribe it (that they were all saved) to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.

           Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.

Verse 20 & 21:  ….Behold those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted.

           Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them.

Characteristics of firmness of mind:
  • Put their trust in God continually
  • Obey
  • Observe to perform every word of command with exactness

How do we become the pure in heart??

The Book of Enos exemplifies the process:

1st:  Desire.  We have to want to become the pure in heart or want to be obedient.  If we do not want to, we can pray for that desire—pray to want to.  The point:  To learn to want what the Lord wants for you.

2nd. Repent.  Put things right before the Lord.  If you have major things, do those first and then as those things are put right in your life, the smaller areas that need work will be brought to your attention.
Continue doing all that you can before the Lord –doing all He asks of us.  Strive to be like the 2060 stripling warriors---endeavor to perform every command with exactness---make obedience our ‘watch cry’.

Enos, outlines the process in Moroni 8: 25 & 26, where Mormon lays out the cycle:

And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;

The process:  exercising our faith unto repentance through obedience

The promise:  The Atonement will apply to you.  Obedience brings remission of sins.

As we obey through repentance and faith, our sins are remitted.

Back to Mormon: 26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart (humility); and because of meekness and lowliness of heart, cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost,

What does the Holy Ghost bring?  2nd Nephi 32:5--the Holy Ghost will show you all things which ye should do…..  What is that?  Revelation, knowledge…When we are humble and exercising our faith unto repentance through obedience, that is when we receive revelation.  And why are we humble?  Because we have an understanding of what it was necessary for us to do so the atonement could apply to us.

Back to Mormon, who says, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love.  Who doesn’t want to be full of hope?  And what is that perfect love?  Charity.  So what do we have now?  Faith, hope, and charity….see how those principles are interrelated?

Now here is the kicker...Mormon says, “which love endureth by diligence (obedience over time) which love endureth by diligence unto prayer…”  Then entire cycle is kept in place by prayer!!  Diligent prayer….obedience over time prayer.

Is it any wonder that the evil spirit teacheth a man not to pray?  Why would he do that?  Because he knows that prayer is one of the basic principles to keep this cycle into place.  A man or woman who desires to know who God is and is willing to do what God asks and seeks him will repent and start this cycle.  A praying man will keep this cycle in place until the perfect day when he has repented of all of his sins and has no more desire for them.

Is it any wonder that the Lord asks us to pray continually?  It is consistent, diligent, heartfelt prayer which process bends our will to God’s will that will purify our hearts.  When we have significantly invested in this process, the blessings are:
  • we will be consoled in our afflictions
  • the Savior will plead our cause
  • our sins will be remitted
  • humility
  • the continued presence of the Holy Ghost
  • revelation and knowledge
  • increased faith
  • increased hope
  • greater charity

Moroni Chapter 9:6, Mormon is speaking to Moroni and he says, “Notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness and rest our souls in the kingdom of God….

We, each of us, have that same labor to perform, regardless of what someone else is doing.  What is it?  It is the work to purify our own hearts and receive the pleasing word of God.

Trials---we all have them, are not because God wants us to suffer or because He delights in our pain.  Trials are for our growth and experience.  They are also an opportunity to purify our hearts and learn to submit our will to His or to be angry and turn from God.  You probably already know, as the stripling warrior did, that to navigate our trials successfully, we must learn to put our trust in God continually.

It is the same process that we have been discussing.  We should learn to desire what He desires.  When our trials come upon us, instead of asking “why me, why now, why this” we would do better to ask, “What would the Lord like me to learn from this experience?  What is my role in this process?  What can I do to grow here?”  

Sometimes the answer will be nothing, ‘Be still and know that I am God,’ or ‘Wait for my arm to be revealed.”  But more often, the answer will be to knock off a rough edge of our dearly loved personality by submitting our will to His.

At these points, we should pray for the desire to be obedient to the still small answers we have received to our humble and heart-felt prayer.  Let those thoughts and feelings find a place in our hearts, and pray to be able and willing to exercise our faith unto repentance and obedience.

    “Essential to our personal faith and development is the unmistakable knowledge that our Father and our Savior want us to succeed.  They want us to return to Their presence.  Because of Their love for us, They have given us resources to obtain comfort, direction, and strength for our journey home.  I speak of prayer, the wonderful and sublime ability to communicate and share our concerns with the Father; the Holy Spirit, which will enlighten and comfort us; and the words of the prophets, both ancient and modern.  These resources give us understanding and direction in dealing with our challenges.

    “It is important to understand that blessings often accompany challenges.  For example, those who suffer pain and afflictions are often better able to understand and have compassion and sympathy for others who similarly suffer.”

“Christ on the cross gave out the cry “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” That cry on the cross is an indication that the very best of our Father's children found the trials so real, the tests so exquisite and so severe, that he cried out—not in doubt of his Father's reality, but wondering “why” at that moment of agony—for Jesus felt so alone. James Talmage advises us that in ways you and I cannot understand, God somehow withdrew his immediate presence from the Son so that Jesus Christ's triumph might be truly complete.

“From Gethsemane and Calvary there are many lessons we need to apply to our own lives. We, too, at times may wonder if we have been forgotten and forsaken. Hopefully, we will do as the Master did and acknowledge that God is still there and never doubt that sublime reality–even though we may wonder and might desire to avoid some of life's experiences. We may at times, if we are not careful, try to pray away pain or what seems like an impending tragedy, but which is, in reality, an opportunity. We must do as Jesus did in that respect—also preface our prayers by saying, “If it be possible,” let the trial pass from us—by saying, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt,” and bowing in a sense of serenity to our Father in heaven's wisdom, because at times God will not be able to let us pass by a trial or a challenge. If we were allowed to bypass certain trials, everything that had gone on up to that moment in our lives would be wiped out. It is because he loves us that at times he will not intercede as we may wish him to. That, too, we learn from Gethsemane and from Calvary.

“It is interesting to me, brothers and sisters, to note that among the qualities of a saint is the capacity to develop patience and to cope with the things that life inflicts upon us. That capacity brings together two prime attributes—patience and endurance. These are qualities, in the process of giving service to mankind that most people reject or undervalue. Most people would gladly serve mankind if somehow they could get it over with once, preferably with applause and recognition. But, for the sake of righteousness, to endure, to be patient in the midst of affliction, in the midst of being misunderstood, and in the midst of suffering—that is sainthood!....”

“....If God chooses to teach us the things we most need to learn because he loves us, and if he seeks to tame our souls and gentle us in the way we most need to be tamed and most need to be gentled, it follows that he will customize the challenges he gives us and individualize them so that we will be prepared for life in a better world by his refusal to take us out of this world, even though we are not of it. In the eternal ecology of things we must pray, therefore, not that things be taken from us, but that God's will be accomplished through us. What, therefore, may seem now to be mere unconnected pieces of tile will someday, when we look back, take form and pattern, and we will realize that God was making a mosaic. For there is in each of our lives this kind of divine design, this pattern, this purpose that is in the process of becoming, which is continually before the Lord but which for us, looking forward, is sometimes perplexing. “

The point is that trials and challenges have the ability to purify our hearts also, and consistent, diligent, heartfelt, obedient prayer is the glue that holds us in place and will facilitate more fully our growth and development, which is what we are here to accomplish.

    And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto his disciples, he turned again unto the multitude and said unto them:
    Behold, verily, verily I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to sift you as wheat (which Elder Oaks [Unselfish Service, April 2009] defines, as to make us common, like everyone else around us).
    Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;
    And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be give unto you…

So the Savior commands the Nephites to pray always.  In V 20: And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be give unto you.

Doesn’t that sound like the scripture in Alma about the 2060 stripling warriors??  Even according to their faith it was done unto them?

Back a few chapters to chapter 9--This is the voice of the Savior after the destruction of the destruction of the wicked Nephites before He shows himself, they hear his voice:
    v13 Oh all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me and repent of your sins and be converted, that I may heal you?
    v 14 Yea,---verily I say unto you---if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life.  Behold mine arm of mercy is extended towards you and whosoever will come, him will I receive---blessed are those who come unto me.

All are welcome, if we will but come.  He denies none.

For a few verses He explains that no more will the shedding of blood be an offering for sacrifice, but in 3rd Nephi 9: 20, this is what He does want:

And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite (obedient) spirit.  And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

Chapter 19 of 3rd Nephi, this is the purity cycle for the disciples, start in v 6

And the twelve did teach the multitude; and behold they did cause that the multitude should kneel down upon the face of the earth, and should pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus.

Then the disciples teach the words which Jesus has spoken, nothing varying, then they kneel again and pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus

And they did pray for that which they desired most---the Holy Ghost.

Then Nephi goes into the water and is baptized (which is what? The first fruit of repentance, which comes by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments  because they exercised their faith unto repentance through obedience…..) and then the other disciples are baptized.

So because they have repented, and been baptized and are being obedient, their sin are remitted and their hearts are meek and lowly, so what happens next?

The Holy Ghost comes, v 13, And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did all upon them and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and fire….

And now, as Mormon says, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love and as Nephi says, will teach you all things which ye should do, so their hearts are sufficiently prepared for revelation and what happens???

The Savior comes.

The Savior then prays to the Father and thanks Him for sending the Holy Ghost and asks for the Holy Ghost to be given to all those who will believe in the disciples words.

Then the Savior returns to find the disciples continuing in prayer.  

v 24...And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold they did still continue, without ceasing to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray for, and they were filled with desire.

(Remember the cycle is held in place by diligence unto prayer)

v 28--the Savior prays unto the Father and testifies as to what has taken place---
Father, I thank thee, that thou hast purified those I have chosen, because of their faith and I pray for them and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith in their words, even as they are purified in me.

So the blessings of being pure in heart are:
  • we will be consoled in our afflictions
  • the Savior will plead our cause
  • our sins will be remitted
  • humility
  • the continued presence of the Holy Ghost
  • revelation, knowledge
  • increased faith
  • increased hope
  • increased charity
  • it will be given unto us what to pray for
  • our wills will be aligned with God’s
  • Because we are obedient, faithful, repentant, and praying for what is inline with God’s will, it will be done unto us according to our faith (we will have answers to our prayers)
  • we will be a light unto the world
  • We will be converted, healed, and have eternal life
  • And as it says in 3rd Nephi 12:8, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God….because we shall be like Him.
And that is how we become the pure in heart and come unto the Savior.

Friday, July 18, 2014

FFF#27--Pampering my boys.

When I was a younger mother of four, I had a close friend who had nine children (6 girls and 3 boys).  We were talking one day and she said, "I think it is important to pamper the children, especially the boys."
When Sport was the baby (1998)

I wasn't sure how I felt about that.  I didn't necessarily disagree with her, but I also wasn't sure I agreed with her.  I mean, there is a point where you want your children to feel loved and special, but you also want them to learn how to work (and work hard) and how to discipline themselves.  I wasn't sure how the two concepts could go hand in hand.  Now, however, I think I have found a balance.  (Not that I will be able to explain it to you, but I'll give it my best shot!)

This morning might be a prime example.  I have two very high maintenance and demanding children who are currently the 'book ends' of our family.  Even though one is an adult (23), he has spent the last four-ish years doing things that have been really difficult for him (college and mission).  He also pushes himself beyond his abilities sometimes (a lot of times).  He runs and runs and runs until he crashes.  Over the last six months, he has crashed, though he did manage to finish college before he dropped.  He has had multiple concussions and because he pushes himself so far, he has not healed properly.  Right now, he is home recuperating.  He needs consistent meals (we are talking six, not three) and sleep (sometimes 2 naps in the day, depending upon how his head is doing and what he did the day before). 

Life is hard out there for those young men.  They need a safe place where they can come home and relax and be cared for.  They need to know they are loved.  When they are little, they also need those things.  Why?

What does it communicate to our little men to have them feel loved and pampered?

I think it ministers to the kind of men they become.  If they experience life with safety and security, where their needs (physical, emotional, and spiritual) are met, they have a reference and understanding for how to treat others and engender in them similar feelings.  They are more compassionate, more kind, more sensitive to the needs of others.  Those are the kind of men we need more of in the world.

Now, I am not talking about 'sissy' men who are so pampered that they cannot be men and protect their families and work hard and fight in a war, if necessary.  Slim is home recuperating, because life has been difficult and he is injured.  He is capable of fighting the world and fighting it alone if necessary.  I do not 'quash' the masculinity out of my men.  On the contrary, I expect them to be hard workers, and have strength, tenacity, determination, and fight inside of them, and for the most part, they do.  But I also want them to be capable of sensitivity to the needs and plights of others.  I want them to be men with a heart.

So my examples this morning are two fold, one where two of my boys asked for something for breakfast that was important for them but required me to make two different things.  Spike asked for pancakes for dinner last night and I told him I would make them for breakfast.  Then at breakfast, before Spike was awake, Slim asked for muffins.  I made them both.

Smiley, however, had a different morning experience.  I asked him to empty the dishwasher (a five minute or less job) and he came in with an attitude and slammed the cupboards.  I told him to go out, I would do it myself.  Then I let him know it would be his job to wash all the dishes for the entire day even though he did them last night.  Well, you probably shouldn't have such a major attitude over such a minor issue, or as your mother, I am likely to find plenty of other, less pleasant things for you to be doing with your time.
Ya' wanna have an attitude?
Bring it on!!!  I'm pretty sure your mother can have a bigger one!