Sunday, March 03, 2024

Church stories

Weirdly, I have spent the last couple of weeks giving Benjamin tutorials on how to tie a...tie. 

I learned how to tie a tie when David was struggling to learn how to tie a tie (so probably when I was nine or ten). I also learned how to tie my shoes when he was struggling to learn to tie his shoes. 

I say struggle simply because learning is very often a struggle—it's something that requires curiosity and tenacity and humility. David was certainly all those things. Indeed, he was a clever and talented young man. And I was his little sister. 

So, suffering from what we'll call "Little Sister Complex," I worked extra hard to learn how to tie things properly extra early so that I could...brag about it to him. 

Sometimes I was a brat, believe it or not. 

I didn't have any particular reason to learn how to tie a tie, but I practiced and practiced just so I could do it quicker and better than David could (at least when he was a boy of 12). I don't know if he even noticed that I was competing with him, but I was. For whatever reason. Because, as I mentioned, I had no actual need to know how to tie a tie. 

Andrew has worn ties for years, though in high school he often wore one particular zipper tie. He didn't really start wearing "proper" ties until his mission. And he learned how to tie them, in his words, "wrong," because when he unties them, they don't nicely slip undone and instead wind up in a knot that he has to unpick before he can hang it up. 

He's happy—functional—with his abilities, but suggested that perhaps Benjamin should ask me for help learning how to tie ties so that he could learn the proper way. Could Andrew learn my way? Probably. There are many, many ways to tie a tie (I think I do the Windsor) and I don't think any of them are fundamentally wrong. But Andrew's happy with his way. 

He just thinks that Benjamin will take better care of his tie if he doesn't have to unknot it before hanging it up. And he's probably right about that. 

Long story short, I've been helping Benjamin tie his tie this year, since he's been passing the sacrament. I just stand beside him with a tie of my own around my neck and guide him through the steps. 

Today, however, Benjamin tied his tie by himself!

"Does this look right?" he asked me.

"It looks just fine," I told him. "But the only way to test whether or not you made the knot correctly is to take it off and untie it. So, I guess we'll see if you managed it after church."

When we got home he took his tie off and—he'd done it correctly! He was pretty proud!


Alexander gave a talk in primary today. He was originally asked to give a talk on February 11, but I told the primary secretary that I couldn't guarantee his attendance that day. He wasn't sick at that point, but Zoë was and Phoebe was and I was so...instead they asked him to give a talk for today.

Here's the text of his talk:
Good afternoon everyone!

My name is Alexander, but a lot of people call me Alex. I have other nicknames, too. One funny nickname of mine is OWL-exander or OWL-ex, because I really like owls. My big sisters sometimes call me Buddy or Bud. When I was a baby, Zoë used to call me Baby Ander or Baby And. I have an airway defect and when I was a baby my mom called me Goosie because when I breathed I sounded like a honking goose!

That’s a lot of nicknames for one person! But they all refer to me.

Mosiah 5:8 says, “There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God.”

When I get baptized next year, I will make a covenant—or a promise— with God to take the name of Jesus Christ, keep God’s commandments, and serve Him to the end. We are reminded of these promises every week when we take the sacrament. 

The sacrament prayer says that we “witness unto…God, the Eternal Father, that [we] are willing to take upon [ourselves] the name of [His] Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments.”

Like me, Jesus Christ has quite a few nicknames. These names can help me think about how I can follow Jesus’s example. Some of the names Jesus has been called are: Saviour, Redeemer, Lord, Creator, the Good Shepherd, the Rock, Alpha and Omega. My mom and I looked at a list that had FIFTY names for Jesus on it! Knowing the names he is called can help me remember what he was like and how I should be.

Some of my very favorites, though, come from Isaiah, and Jacob shares them with us again in Second Nephi (19:6): “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

This scripture makes me think of Christmas because my family sings it at Christmas time. It makes me think of the nativity and Jesus’s birth. He came into the world so quietly and then he did many wonderful and mighty things. This scripture also makes me think about Easter, which is coming up soon! Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected so that we can live with Heavenly Father again. 

I bear my testimony that when we remember Jesus and let him into our lives we can find peace. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Grandpa asked how much of that talk Alexander wrote himself. That's an excellent question! 

Alexander is only six years old, so he still needs some help with tasks like this. What I do in these cases is talk through things with my child and ask them questions about things. So we read the scripture that he was given as his topic (2 Nephi 19:6) and I asked him what that scripture made him think about. He said: (1) Christmas (as noted in the second to last paragraph) and (2) that Jesus has many names. 

So I asked him why he thinks Jesus has so many names and how so many names can refer to the same person. Is that normal? How many names does he have? 

We talked about names that Alexander has gone by and that became our introduction. 

Then I pulled up Mosiah 5:8 and asked him what that meant to him. He made the connection to baptism and the sacrament (so I pulled up the sacrament prayers for us to read together so he could see that they also mention taking the name of Jesus Christ). 

We pulled up a list of names of Jesus Christ and read through some of them. I wrote down ones he thought were interesting or meaningful. We didn't include all of our conversation about those names in his talk, but we talked about some of the names—why is he called The Rock? Why is he known as the Saviour? How is he a Good Shepherd? 

Discussing those names in more detail could have been another talk in and of itself. Instead I reminded him of the scripture he was given for his topic (2 Nephi 19:6), which lists some other names about Jesus. And we talked again about what this scripture makes him think of—Handel's Messiah, which was really written for Easter but which is also used at Christmas. 

So it has a lot of his ideas—even some of his own phrasings—massaged into a cohesive form with a little bit of help from his editor-mother. 

When my kids are older, I usually have them write a first draft of what they want to say and then help them probe deeper into certain themes, expanding or deleting things as necessary as their talk develops. 

But for a six year old...I do a lot of the writing, it's true.

A note about how Alexander is getting baptized next year. Ugh. It's Miriam's fault. She began this rounding-up way of thinking about age long ago (I think because her birthday is so late in the year) and now all the kids do it. As soon as the new year begins, all the children are the ages they just turned in previous year (obviously) but since no one has a birthday until midway through the year, they will skip that birthday and say how old they'll be in the following calendar year. 

Alexander just turned six in October, so next year he'll be eight. Like, he completely bypasses the fact that he'll only be turning seven before then. So while it's true that he's going to be eight next year, he's only six it feels strange to hear him say that he'll be getting baptized next year (since he needs to be eight in order to be baptized). 

(That part confused Grandpa: "He's getting baptized next year?! He's only six!" True. But you know how my kids count these things, eager as they are to grow up...for whatever reason. (Relish your childhoods, sweeties, being grown up is...less fun)).

Anyway, Alexander did a wonderful job delivering his talk. He's very glad it's over.


We very rarely drive to church all together, though perhaps we'll end up doing it more in the future. With so many people doing so many things (Spanish ward organist! Secretary of the Deacon's Quorum! Counselor in the YW class presidency! Family History and Temple committee! Choir practice!) people need to be early or stay late or...what-have-you. 

So thank goodness we're no longer a one-car family! 

Remember that one time we totaled our van, had to buy a new (to us) one, and then Andrew's scooter blew a tire on the way to church? We took the seats out of the van and hauled that thing up inside it to take it to the shop. That was an adventure

Now we're a three-car family so we don't have to worry about one car, so much. 

But last week we all drove to church together, which (as I said) is somewhat unusual for us). So...we're driving along and driving along and we got this sign in front of a baptist church. Now, you should know that you should always read these church signs because they are all over the place (we pass...three? different churches on our way to church) and are often hilarious. At Christmas this particular sign said, "You've heard of Elf on the Shelf. Now try YOU in a PEW!" or something like that. 

Anyway, here's what the sign has said more or less since Christmas:

So I—in front of the entire family, because I just can't keep my confusion to myself sometimes—said, "I just don't understand this sign. The Servers Singing. MARIO! Sunday...6 PM. Like...what does that even mean? Is it every Sunday at 6 PM? How will anyone know when the concert is? And who is Mario? Like, is he a featured singer of The Servers? Or..."

I was surprised when Andrew, Rachel, and Miriam gave me a condescending snicker, as if I had made some sort of a lame joke and needed them to laugh so I could feel good about my sense of humour.

"Very funny, Mom," Rachel said. 

"What's funny?" I asked. 

"Oh!" Andrew said, laughing for real this time. "Oh, you're not joking!! You really think that sign says Mario!!"

"That sign does say Mario," I said. 

"That sign says March 10th!" Andrew said. 

"All the numbers are in red," Rachel and Miriam explained to me. "It's Sunday, March 10th, at 6 PM."

"Well, that makes a whole lot more sense than MARIO!" I said. 

And now whenever the kids are in doubt about any the details of anything they just claim, "MARIO!"

I will never live this down...

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