Going to ABCs

Danny going to ABCs
Danny, all dressed up and ready to go to ABCs

This morning I was curling my hair and getting ready for church and hadn’t realized that my three year old had (as usual) escaped the house.  I went outside in my curlers and had this conversation with him on his bike –

Me: Danny, I need you to come back inside.  I didn’t know you were outside and I was worried
Danny: But I wanted to ride my bike
Me: Well, I need you to come back inside now.  Do you want to go to meetings with dad?  He’s coming back to get you and you don’t get to go unless you’ve been obedient
Danny (lights up): Yes! Yes!  I go to ABCs with dad!!

Believe it or not, this is a typical Sunday conversation with Danny.  He *loves* to go to church meetings, and luckily for him his dad is our ward’s Young Men’s President and has a plethora of meetings to attend on a Sunday morning.  As the apocryphal 14th article of faith states – “We believe in meetings, we hope for meetings, we have endured many meetings, and hope to be able to endure all meetings.  If there is any reason for a meeting, we seek after it.” (Note: for those not of our faith, this is not a real article of our faith, it’s a tongue in cheek spoof of a portion of our 13th article of faith, but for those with demanding callings it sometimes feels true)    He started calling his dad’s meetings “ABCs” which is a pretty apt way to categorize the alphabet soup that are church meetings (PEC, BYC, PPI etc).  As soon as Danny saw that I’d pulled out his suit this morning he was so excited to get all dressed up for church.   He got dressed as much on his own as he could and was so pumped to get to go.  He even sits relatively quietly through his dad’s meetings, that’s why he has his notebook in the picture above – so he can take his notes in the meeting.

Our family likes to giggle about Danny and his love of meetings, but I was thinking about it this morning and I’ve decided that I want to be more like Danny.  He acts like it is a great privilege to get to go to these meetings while most of us who are actually required to go to such meetings dread them.  But Danny is right, it is a great privilege to have a calling to serve those around us.  As King Benjamin taught

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.

What greater privilege could there be than to use our humble gifts in the service of God?  We are so blessed to be in a position to serve others and to be given that responsibility is a tremendous gift.  We should rejoice to have the opportunity to share the blessings we’ve been given with our brothers and sisters in love.

I also like his attitude about his church clothes.  Most of us are loath to put on a dress or a shirt and tie to go to our church meetings.  It’s not convenient, it’s not comfortable, and most of us think “do I have to?”  I read an article earlier this week entitled, “Are Americans dressing too sloppy for Sabbath worship?” which addressed the increasingly casual attitude of Americans in their church services. I thought a lot on what I had read, and it bothered me a little bit the thought that we might judge people on how they dress for church.  I think if someone shows up to church in yoga pants and a tank top we should welcome them in and love them, just as they are.  However,  I think it is a problem that we are less willing to get ourselves dressed up for church.  There is wisdom in the idea of putting on our “Sunday best”.  I think it shows respect to our Father in Heaven and shows that we are willing to make Sunday a little different from any other day.  Even if it is acceptable to go to the office in jeans and a t-shirt that doesn’t change how we should approach our Sabbath worship.  Cleaning up and dressing up for Sunday shows that we’ve made some preparation for how we approach our Lord.  It signals that we appreciate what a privilege it is to come to church, partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants, and that we take that privilege seriously.

I guess I’m understanding a little more why our Savior taught –

Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved.

The Power of Our Influence

Elder Richard G. and Sister Jeanene Scott
Elder Richard G. and Sister Jeanene Scott – Image from LDS Living

After General Conference Eric casually added a calendar item on his calendar for a General Conference 40-Day Challenge.  The idea behind it is simple.  Every day for 40 days there is an assigned talk from this most recent General Conference for you to listen to/read/study as a way to keep the words of the prophets in our minds.  I liked the idea so I decided to participate as well.  It’s been really great because rather than the full deluge of spirituality that comes with the conference I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on each of the talks in turn and really focus on the things that stood out to me in each one.  As I was listening to today’s talk I remembered a  favorite moment from conference that I wanted to share.

Today’s talk was Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk entitled “I Have Given You an Example”.  This was the part that I especially liked –

[As] I was about to graduate from the university, I fell in love with a beautiful young woman named Jeanene Watkins. I thought she was beginning to have some deep feelings for me also. One night when we were talking about the future, she carefully wove into the discussion a statement that changed my life forever. She said, “When I marry, it will be to a faithful returned missionary in the temple.”

I hadn’t thought much about a mission before then. That night my motivation to consider missionary service changed dramatically. I went home, and I could think of nothing else. I was awake all night long. I was completely distracted from my studies the next day. After many prayers I made the decision to meet with my bishop and begin my missionary application.

Jeanene never asked me to serve a mission for her. She loved me enough to share her conviction and then gave me the opportunity to work out the direction of my own life.

As I heard this simple story I thought to myself, what if Sister Scott hadn’t decided to make that simple statement of convictions to Elder Scott at that pivotal time in his life?  How would the church and the world be different, not to mention Elder Scott himself?  Now, that isn’t to say that Elder Scott would have turned out to be some maniacal criminal without mission experience or anything like that.  There’s every reason to believe he could have gone on to be a faithful wonderful person and done lots of great things.  But I would wager that he would not be the man he is today, and having the influence he does worldwide without that experience.  And perhaps he would have never had it without the simple prompting from a valiant young woman.  Elder Scott’s personal sense of gentle authority has long made him one of my favorite apostles (ok ok, so they all get a turn being my favorite when they come to the pulpit, but all for very different reasons).  When he looks at you as he’s speaking you feel like he can see into the depths of you.  I’m positive even extremely good people walk away and think “I need to do better!  I can be better!”  He gives off almost the sense of…. I want to say disappointment, but it’s not that.  Just the sense that you can do more and be more than you are and you just don’t want to let him down.  The church needs an Elder Scott to fill that role.  Sure, if it wasn’t him perhaps there would be someone else who would have also done an excellent job, but I’m sure not quite in the same way and that makes me sad to think about.

As I reflected on that it made me think more fervently about the influence I have in simple moments every day as a mother, a sister, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a neighbor, a Cub Scout Committee chairperson, a person sitting on the bench at the park, a member of a Sunday School class, a visiting teacher, a Facebook friend etc.  Am I living my life in such a way that I might use those small teaching moments to help someone reach a higher potential than they might otherwise?  How can I do better to uplift others and point them to righteous paths?  I want to be more like Sister Scott and instead of saying, “Eh, you know what?  Richard is going to be just fine the way he is, he’s a good guy!  It doesn’t really matter if he does this one thing right now, he’ll still turn out fine.”  I want to instead say, “How can I help this person to make the very best decision to help them reach their fullest potential?  They shouldn’t settle, they can be awesome!  Let’s help make them awesome!”

Of course, that attitude should be tempered with the next part, which was that we allow people to take their life in the direction that they choose.  I’m not at all proposing making decisions for another person, or judging them for making a different decision than I would have chosen.  But if I can influence someone to do better and be more, then I want to put myself in the position to do just that.

Saying Sorry FHE

Saying Sorry Printable

One of my Facebook friends posted a link to this article called A Better Way to Say Sorry.  With a two year old and a five year old at home apologizing is something that I find we are doing FREQUENTLY, so I decided to read the article.  It was simple, but brilliant!  Her intro – where she goes through what it’s like to try to get kids to apologize, and how you almost never feel like you’ve gotten them to do so adequately – is the story of my life.  Seriously, I couldn’t have written it better myself.  The author goes on to talk about a seminar she went to where she learned the proper breakdown for an apology and how she applied the principles in her classroom.

I decided almost immediately that it was something I wanted to implement in our home.  So of course, I had to make it into an FHE lesson.  I haven’t yet used this in our home because today was a long day and I felt we would be better served by having FHE on Tuesday instead of Monday this week, but I thought I would share what I came up with.  I would recommend reading the article that I linked to above so that you can get a good feel for her methodology before teaching this lesson.  However I think you can probably teach it just fine just from the outline I’ve provided.  Hopefully this works as well as described!   I’m excited to facilitate more effective repentance in our home, and hope it works well for you too 🙂

I’ve provided in this lesson an outline as well as a printable that you could put on your fridge to remind everyone during the week.  My printable is nothing fancy, but I think it will get the job done.

Saying Sorry Printable
Saying Sorry FHE Outline

Oh and I have to give a shout out to my amazing husband Eric for the treat idea.  I was trying to come up with a treat that would go along with repentance, but wasn’t too hopeful that I would come up with anything.  On a whim I decided to ask him if he had any ideas and he almost immediately came up with Sour Patch Kids.  If you don’t understand why that was a brilliant treat idea you should probably see this Youtube video: