Thursday, January 25, 2007

Patience Report #2

My husband and I have a theory on children’s Sunday behavior. The worse their behavior is at home on Sunday morning, the better it will be during church services. The opposite is also true. If you have a calm, subdued and relaxed Sunday morning, be prepared for a trying service at church.

This past Sunday not only were the kids cranky, but I was too. I’m sad to report that I blew up at Loula Belle Sunday morning over the fact that I’d reminded her to put away her ski pants three times the evening before, and Sunday morning she wanted to know where they were so she could play in the new-fallen snow. I’d seen them stuffed in the closet with the other snow stuff, and now I knew that someone else had put them there for her. Grrrr.

I gave her a rather loud lecture, and despite thoughts reminding me that I was supposed to be practicing patience, I gave it to her with both barrels. And when Bug wouldn’t stop complaining about the heavy snow shovel he was using, I let him have it too.

As I sat down in the chapel on Sunday and prepared to take the sacrament, I wondered if I should even take it. I had, after all, thought about being patient but decided against it. In the end, I did partake of the sacrament, but only because I felt awful about the morning’s blow up. My soul wanted to be patient, it just wasn’t perfect at it yet.

As the deacons administered the bread and water, I began to think about sacraments past. How many times have I taken the sacrament unrepentant of my patience problem? I’ve known for a long time that I need to improve my patience, but until now I haven’t DONE anything other than just feel sorry. Sorrow with no change or commitment to work on it. Truly Christ’s atonement was made for people like me.

After the sacrament I thought back to the talk I’d given at Beans’s baptism. (I’m adding it to this blog under "Baptism and Clean Socks.") I thought about just how miraculous it is for us to take the sacrament and re-new our baptism covenants and be as clean as a brand new pair of white socks. Even though I haven’t mastered patience and blew up on Sunday, after I took the sacrament with a broken heart and contrite spirit, my soul was as clean as the day that I was baptized! Imperfections and all.

Baptism and New Socks

Note: This is a talk which I gave on January 6th at the baptism of my eight-year-old daugher. My instructions were to prepare a talk for the baptismal candidates, all age eight. The others in attendance would just be listening in.

(Holding up a pair of new white socks.)

I want each of you to pretend that your parents gave you a brand new pair of white socks. They are clean, white, and comfortable. You were so excited to have a new pair of socks, that you wore them outside without any shoes. You ran across the lawn that had just been mown. Some grass and grass stains got on your socks. You jumped in a couple puddles left from last night’s rain storm. Now your socks were wet and squishy. And then, while you- were coming in through the garage, you stepped in some oil, and it got on your socks.

Would your mom and dad want you go wear those socks into the house? No, of course not. Your mom would probably have you take them off so she could wash them.

When you are baptized today, you’ll be as clean as a brand-new pair of socks (show socks again). But here on earth we’re learning how to follow Heavenly Father’s commandments, and it can be hard. When we disobey or do something wrong, we become like a dirty pair of socks. And Heavenly Father said that only clean souls can enter his kingdom. But we’re all going to make mistakes, we’re all going to get dirt on our souls.

That’s why baptism is so great . . . You’ll be clean today, but by repenting and taking the sacrament each Sunday, your soul can be spotless white again. I didn’t really understand that until I was eleven. But by repenting and taking the sacrament each Sunday, we can be as clean as we were on our baptism day.

The one who made it possible, whose soul did not get at all dirty was Jesus Christ. He made it possible for us to repent, become clean from our sins and to one day return and live with our Heavenly Father.

I have felt the Holy Ghost testify to me that these things are true. Christ did come to earth. He lived a sinless life and through His atonement we can become clean too!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

PatienceReport #1

I’ve begun working on my personal patience plan and even shared my goal of developing patience with the rest of the family at Family Home Evening on Monday. (I figured I needed a little accountability.)

Well, this morning I had a learning opportunity. I was tidying up the kitchen and putting away a small plastic container when I noticed that someone had apparently unloaded the dishwasher and tossed all the plastic containers and lids willy nilly onto the shelf of the turntable where they are supposed to be neatly sorted and stacked. Grrrr!

Beans informed me that it was Loula Belle – which was the same conclusion I had drawn, as she was the last one to unload the dishwasher. Double Grrrr!

"Loula Belle!" I yelled, "you tossed the plastic things in here and didn’t put them where they’re supposed to go! Get over here and . . ."

That’s when I stopped, realizing that I was yelling and not practicing patience.

"Oops," I said in an instantly calmer tone. "I’m supposed to be practicing patience, aren’t I?"

The girls nodded and smiled.

"Let me re-phrase that. Loula, I can see that you didn’t put the containers away like you should have. And even though I’m talking to you in a calm and friendly voice, I’m still upset. Please do a better job next time."

The amazing thing is, once I caught myself and spoke more calmly, the whole tone of our morning completely changed. The girls almost giggled when I corrected myself in front of them, and the rest of the morning as I continued to urge them to get ready for school in an ultra-sweet voice, it was as if we were all participants of an inside joke.

I can hardly believe I’m saying this, but practicing patience was actually FUN. And, I might add, effective.

Son Applies Science to Home Life

The final coats of paint are done. The plumbing all works. The carpet will come tomorrow, and then our basement will be days away from being done! Whooeee!

Hubby and I were talking about how nice it will be to have more space for things – kids included. They’ll each have their own rooms downstairs. I asked him if he thought that they’ll get along any better once they’re moved into the basement.

Bug heard me and piped up, "I’m sure we’ll get along better, because when molecules have more space to move around in there is less friction."

How is that for applied science? I was so impressed with Bug’s analogy that I wrote to his science teacher to inform her that her lessons were sinking in.

So here’s hoping that our kids are like molecules, and when the basement is being lived in we’ll have less friction between them. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Kids tell me how I'm doing as a parent

As I drive home from aerobics each morning, I listen to the radio. Each day I get to hear the Family Minute -- 60 seconds of advice for making a stronger family. (They have a web site too:, but I've never been there.) Anyway, yesterday they encouraged parents to ask their children for feedback on how they're doing as a parent. So I did.

Each of my children told me something I was going well and something I could work on. Here are the results:

Bug said he enjoys talking and laughing with me. He feels like he can talk with me about anything. But . . . he would like to have a "real" supper every night.

Loula Belle felt like I'm going very well as a mom, But . . . said I could work on not getting mad and upset.

Beans loves it when I come to wake her up in the morning and read a book to her in bed. But . . . she felt like Lou Belle did and thinks I can be less irritable.

I have an idea on how to improve my patience. Our church has General Conference twice a year, and in October Elder Robert C. Oaks gave a talk entitled, "The Power of Patience." He encouraged listeners to create a personal patience plan. I'm hoping to follow his counsel and work on becoming a patient person.

I will admit, however, that part of me doesn't want to change. (Keeping with the status quo is the easiest way to go.) But when I look at my children doing homework on the table or reading a book on the couch, I'll have to ask myself, "Are they really the most precious things in my life? Don't they deserve to have a kinder, gentler mother?" I'm hoping that I can soon answer, "Yes they do!"

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Does Jesus Play Basketball?

Every now and then parents get a peek at what their teenager is thinking. For us, it happened on Sunday. We were sitting around the breakfast table reading the paper. The radio played Sounds for Sunday in the background. Bug, our thirteen-year-old son, had been reading the sports section of the newspaper.

"Hey Dad," he said. "Is this Big T singing?"

"Yeah," said Hubby. "It’s Thurl Bailey."

"Hey, I could have him for a role model."

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of my son as an inspirational singer. Basketball player, maybe. But a singer? "Besides," I told him, "you’ll never be black."

"I could be like Michael Jackson except go the other way. I’d go from white to black," he said.

That’s when my husband piped in, "Yeah, Bug is always asking me, ‘Do you think I have slow twitch or fast twitch muscles?’"

I’m laughing, but the guys are still talking basketball physiology. Bug asks, "Hey, if I visualize myself being tall, do you think I could grow to be 6 feet 2 inches?" Then he wants to know, "Who would want to be white?"

After a few moments of contemplation Bug asks, "Do you think Jesus plays basketball?"

Clearly, the combination of Sounds for Sunday and the Sunday sports section has taken our conversation in a bizarre direction.

"I bet Jesus could school those street ball players that played at Sky View," said Bug.

"You really think He knows how to play basketball?" asks my husband.

"Well if He didn’t, He could pick it up in about two minutes."

This last bit of cogitation leads to new train of thought.

"So," Bug asks, "what would happen if you have a bunch of perfect people get together to play basketball? Would the score be over 200, or would the score be super low?"

While Hubby and Bug debate the possible outcome of a game of resurrection basketball, I begin to reflect on just what our strange conversation might mean.

First of all, it’s clear that Bug loves basketball, and he’s been thinking about what kind of person would make a good role model. I’m impressed with his choice of Thurl Bailey. But is he serious about wanting to be black, or did he say that just to see our reaction?

Is Bug a little obsessed with being tall? Should I be trying harder to help him be satisfied with himself? I guess we’re lucky that he feels comfortable telling us about his basketball dreams, but isn’t it a little sacrilegious to mention Jesus playing basketball? Or should we take it as a sign that he’s applying religion to his personal life? I suppose that to a thirteen-year-old boy, playing basketball must be part of perfection.

One this is certain, having a teenager has introduced me to things I’d never thought before!