Thursday, March 12, 2015

Speaking of 15 Year Olds . . .

Last Saturday, I went to bed at 11:00 p.m., knowing that Kate had to speak in church, in front of the whole congregation, at 10:50 a.m. the next morning (church starts at 9:00, with classes first).  SHe had not written a word at that point.  We knew she had been thinking about her topic, Families, for a few days, but neither Kathleen or I had any time to help her.  Below is the talk she wrote in the wee hours, and gave the following morning:

Sunday Talk: Family

According to God’s plan, we were all born into a place and situation built to test us. Not just anyone: us. Each person individually was placed in a situation that would test that one person to the utmost. To aid us in our lives, we were all given talents. Everyone’s place was created not only to test them, but to stretch them, change them in a way that, if they so chose, they could return to the Celestial Kingdom of Heaven and live with Heavenly Father. Extremely important in God’s plans for our life on Earth are our families.

Our families, like everything else about our challenges and situations in life, have been uniquely tailored to us. However, unlike many things that we may encounter, our families are put there to help us as well as challenge us. No one can say that family is perfect. In fact, by virtue of human nature, all families are imperfect. Everyone’s families have sometimes tested them – even in something as simple as an argument over what song should play on the radio. After all, not all challenges have to be extreme. But we can receive strength from our families too. As the ultimate example, Jesus was able to live perfectly, suffer in gethsemane, die on the cross, and be resurrected, partly as a result of his lineage as the Only Begotten of God and the direction he received from His Father, and His Earthly mother, Mary.

The book of first Nephi is another prime example. It, like all books of true scripture, is full of wonderful gospel truths that should not be overlooked. But it also contains a story. It is clear from the beginning that Lehi has sons of highly varying character. On the one hand, Nephi and Sam, and later their younger brothers Jacob and Joseph, chose to follow Lehi and support him when his eldest, Laman and Lemuel, murmured against him. Laman and Lemuel caused their family much pain – they refused to believe their brother could have learned from the Lord how to build a boat, and then, when he did, they tied him to the mast  midway through their journey, causing him physical pain and his parents to become so sick with grief they nearly died. Nephi supported them. He obeyed his father and eventually led his family to the promised land, despite trials from within and without his family.

We, too, can choose whether to strengthen or weaken our families. Each family is different. They face different trials, and have different needs, whether it be illness, finances, death, or something else entirely. All share two things in common. All are important to God. And all can be strengthened when all or even one of the members of that family follow His principles and commandments. Satan is attacking the family because it is one of the most important pieces of God’s plan. As we strengthen our families we too can be strengthened. It doesn’t have to be hard. We can use our gifts, even often overlooked ones, such as the gift of listening, or humor, to comfort our family and brighten their days. In turn, they may use their own individual gifts to help us, and may also teach us new ones, such as patience, which will help us throughout our lives. There are other things we can do. Encourage each other. Repair quarrels quickly. Smile, hug, and say “I love you.” Read scriptures and pray as a family. The Adversary loses just a little more each time someone strengthens their family in simple, small ways, and God’s presence can be felt more strongly.

Beyond that, we can all find ways to strengthen our extended family – our aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, our dead and unbaptized ancestors. We are also part of an amazing ward family. And each time we strengthen, comfort, or help another person, we are strengthening our spiritual brothers and sisters, the family of God.

I hope we can all use our gifts, even the smallest ones, to strengthen our families.

As her father, who probably is one of her principle tests/stretching devices (OK, maybe not quite the test that her brothers are, but still) I could not be more proud.  There is a lot of wisdom there from my sweet pea.  She also had a beautiful, clear, confident delivery.  Very proud papa.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

So It's Been Awhile

I don't know where the time goes, and why blogging regularly seems so hard.  I guess because it is tough to choose between living life and recording it.  Time passes so quickly you feel like you have to live every flipping, fleeting moment as hard as you can -- if you have the time to record, you'd be crazy not to use every one of those moments to live mas, as they say.  To that point, I remember the opening photo, at Lake Louise, and the ones below, like they were yesterday -- how can it possibly be that the little girl in these photos is now 15, and my sons 10 and 8?

Who has time to pause and reflect and write when time goes like that, and these beautiful little moments never return?

But my Mom has inspired me of late, by bringing over bits of our family history, like stories about my grandpa Aldin and my great uncle Coy. It is amazing how much I feel in my heart that these stories are central to who I am.  Given my LDS faith, that probably should not be a surprise, but the depth of that feeling still amazes at times.  So I will try to write again, for the stories, and so my kids, and their kids (who I may never know, given how late we started) know and remember a little more about who and what makes them who they are.

To that end, overheard in my house at dinner in the last 24 hours:

Kate:  "Now that I am 15, dad, would you take some time this summer to teach me how to drive?"

Me, gulping hard:  "Well, I have taken out an extra life insurance policy on myself, so I guess we're ready for that."

Kate, without missing a beat: "Glad you did that -- so then I guess its fine if I throw a fork at you."

At which point my dear wife laughed so hard, with a mouthful of food, that we almost should have taken out the life insurance policy on her.

This was followed, at a subsequent sitting, by this exchange:

Kate: "Grandma, what did you watch on TV when you were little?"

Grandma: "Kate, when I was born, there was no TV!"

Keegan, who was enjoying a cookie:  "Grandma, were you born before sugar?"

There aren't very many dull moments around here, for better or worse.  Hopefully I will be better about catching more of them.