Sunday, January 26, 2014

Talks in Church (and other things)

Yesterday Rachel attended a birthday party for one of her school friends...at the movies?! Is it crazy that I was a little nervous to let her go? I was. I must not be too crazy, though, because the mom of the other little girl who was invited emailed to ask if Rachel was going before she RSVP'd. We decided that if our little girls went together they'd be fine (they're rather good friends with each other...and another little girl who was invited but wasn't able to go). That trio of girls were the only girls invited. The rest of the invitees were a bunch of boys. I knew who all the little boys were. And I know a few of their parents. It was a good little group. But I did feel better knowing there would be another little girl for Rachel to glom onto, even though she's friends with all the little boys, too. 

Anyway, Rachel went to that birthday party; Miriam, Benjamin, and I attended a baptism at our ward building; and Andrew played chauffeur. (He's a good man.)

The baptism was wonderful. I haven't been to a baptism in ages (I think the last baptism I went to was my nephew Malachi's back in 2011). This baptism was beautiful. It was for a lovely grandmother as well as a little girl from our primary (whose mother was baptized last year), and because it was so beautiful we might start attending more baptisms as they come up. We've been missing out.


One blessing of temple attendance is that it helps us remember our temple covenants—the covenants we made in the temple to live a life of "obedience, sacrifice, ...submission to gospel law, purity, and the promise to answer the call of our Church leaders with our best energies." All good things to be reminded of. Going to the temple helps to renew those covenants, in a way, simply by reminding us that we made them.

"It should be difficult to come regularly to the temple, where we hold up our hands in solemn covenants of goodwill, and then be unkind or unforgiving. Temple attendance encourages us to forgive others and to live righteously ourselves. It should be difficult to participate regularly in the temple and not be in the process of saving and uplifting ourselves and our families." When temple covenants are fresh on your mind it is easier to keep them.

I think the same is true of our baptismal covenants. Miriam's primary teacher gave a talk about baptism yesterday that really drove this point home. First of all, you should know that Miriam's primary teacher is an angel. She is so full of love that it just spills out of her. Next, you should know that the kids and I were sitting in the second row, directly behind the sisters who were to be baptized, so when Sister Wood directed her radiant, smiling face toward Sister Pat and little B., it was just as good as if she had been speaking directly to me.

She didn't say anything extraordinary, except for the simple truths of the gospel (which, let's face it, are extraordinary). She outlined the baptismal covenants: to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end.

"This is a church of service," she said. "You will have so many opportunities to serve and you will receive many acts of service. You [Pat] will receive a calling soon and that's a wonderful chance to serve in the church. Just remember to keep serving all your life. That's such an integral part of the gospel. Serving others is so important."

It struck me then—for perhaps the first time ever (or at least for the first time in this way ever)—that baptism isn't a milestone. We believe and are taught that "baptism is the gateway through which we enter the path to the celestial kingdom," but it's not as simple as checking something off a list. The important part—far more important than the white dress or who was there or if treats were served afterward—is the making of a covenant with God, a covenant to "bear one another's burdens, ...to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places."

Our side of the covenant is one that requires constant action (thankfully, Heavenly Father's side of the covenant is equally constant (though He's perfect about keeping up on his side of things while I, for one, am simply bumbling along)).

So it's not the baptismal day that's important, it's the covenants that you make. And I suppose I really always knew this—because what's the sacrament for? To renew our baptismal covenants. It was just something I needed to be reminded about yesterday, I suppose. I needed the reminder to endure to the end, to "keep serving all [my] life." There are so many people who could use my help. I could allow myself to be much more pliable clay in the hands of the Savior. I could be more diligent about following promptings of the spirit to serve others. It was a sweet reminder.

And Miriam was so impressed by everything. She crowded up against the plexiglass—put in place to keep the attendees out of the water—and I couldn't help but think back on Deklan's baptism when the children were expecting plexiglass to be there only there wasn't! I don't think I'll ever be able to attend a baptism without thinking about that!

Miriam dressed herself all in white this morning—she had on a white shirt, a white jumper, white tights, white sandals, and a white ribbon. She can hardly wait for Rachel to turn eight so that she can "turn eight next."

We had to leave for church earlier than usual this morning because the organist was sick and asked Andrew to fill in for her. I love when Andrew plays the organ. I don't necessarily love sitting alone with the children while he plays, but I love listening to him play.

While he was enjoying blasting out the prelude music, the kids and I went to our usual pew and got settled in. The kids were so good. Rachel quietly read stories to Benjamin. Miriam sat quietly beside me, grateful for the opportunity to snuggle into me without Benjamin trying to push her away. I read from Our Search for Happiness (relatively undisturbed, even). They sat through twenty minutes of prelude music perfectly behaved, though evidently getting to church so early threw off Miriam's internal clock because after we sang the opening hymn (and right in the middle of the opening prayer) she whispered into my ear, "Is sacrament over now? Can I got to primary?"

She wasn't thrilled when (after the prayer) I told her that that was only the opening prayer and she still had a good hour or more before it was time for primary. She managed to behave for the rest of the meeting, and Rachel did, too, though Benjamin acted up a bit.

It was lucky that I was reading Our Search For Happiness during the prelude, though, because I was alerted that the little girl who had been scheduled to give a talk in primary that day was sick and wouldn't be there. Rachel said she'd give a talk in her place. I know I'm in charge of assigning talks but I didn't bring my binder with me and I couldn't remember what the exact topic was, though I knew it had to do with the plan of salvation, which just happened to be the chapter I was reading in Our Search for Happiness.

Rachel's talk was basically taken from pages 70–72 (of the Missionary Reference Library version). She did a great job for pinch-hitting.
"Families on earth are an extension of the family of God.... Every person is a child of heavenly parents as well as mortal parents," and, "before coming to this earth, lived with Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, and each was loved and taught by them..." But Heavenly Father knew that there were some things that we had to learn through experience and faith, and that the only way we could become like Him would be to gain a body and experience trials and pain and temptations.
So Heavenly Father "called all of His spirit children together to explain His plan. He told us that He had created a world for us where we could gain experience and be tested.... Part of that test included complete forgetfulness of our Heavenly home....so that we could make real choices between right and wrong without being swayed by our memories of what it was like to live with God."
Heavenly Father gave us many things to help us on our journey: The Holy Ghost, to help us make good choices, prophets, to reveal His will to, scriptures to guide us and, most importantly, a Savior "to atone for our bad decisions and choices and make it possible for us all to...return to live with Him."
"But the choice," Elder Ballard tells us, "would always be ours."
I know that by following the example of the Savior will help me make good choices. I am grateful for Heavenly Father's plan for me and that I can choose to live with him again someday. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Miriam, dressed all in white from head to toe, got a bloody nose during the last hour of church. Naturally. She gave a talk last month that I totally forgot to record here, so bear with me. Since her talk was given right around Christmastime, it was about the Savior's birth.
In the bible, many prophets tell us about the Savior. Isaiah was one of those prophets. Isaiah said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: ...and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
In this scripture, the child Isaiah is talking about is the baby Jesus and the son is The Son of God.
Many prophets in the Book of Mormon testified of Jesus Christ as well. Lehi and Nephi had a vision about the birth and life of Jesus Christ. They knew that he would be the Son of God and that his mother would be Mary and that he would be the Savior of the World.
When Jesus was born, all the prophecies about his birth were fulfilled.
Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven of our sins and return to Heavenly Father. That’s why people have always looked forward to his coming.
I know that Jesus loves me. I am thankful for Christmas so I can remember about Jesus’s birth and life.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Benjamin did not speak in church, nor did he have a bloody nose. Today was, however, rather monumental for him. He went into nursery without shedding a single tear!

I walked into the nursery carrying him and one of his leaders squealed, "Benjamin! My main man! Come see me, little buddy!" She took him right out of my arms and kept on talking to him (read: distracting him) while I sneaked out of the room. He was perfectly fine when he realized I was gone (no point in throwing a fit if Mom's not around to see it).

Andrew picked him up from nursery while I was dealing with a bloody nose (no, not Miriam's—another little girl's—today was a great day in primary!) and when I caught up with them in the hall Benjamin's eyes got all big and his mouth turned into a big O. He was so excited to see me that it took a moment for him to catch his breath and exclaim, "MOM!" while lunging out of Andrew's arms.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend full of wonderful things.

(Looking back at my old posts it seems I could probably relearn some succinctness. I suppose my word length is just growing with Andrew's (he can't not write a lot anymore either)).



1 comment:

  1. I love nursery! Natalie went for the last two weeks and also didn't cry; which I was VERY pleasantly surprised at. It makes church so much more manageable (and peaceful in my case as I am not currently serving in the primary.)

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