Life with Three Kids

LHM_6549 kids
Picture by Lavon Maiersperger. Aren’t they cute??

Since having Maeli 6 weeks ago I’ve been frequently asked what it’s like to have 3 kids.  This was my day today-

Woke up to get Sam ready for school. Laid out all his clothes and then went to get myself ready. Came back 10 minutes later to find Sam still with no pants on just wandering about his room. Get him dressed. Downstairs for breakfast. Sam wants a smoothie and oatmeal. While I”m making his food, Danny wanders downstairs and says he’s going to stay with Eric while I go to my doctor’s appointment. Just as I’m about to walk out the door he changes his mind and wants to come with me. Run through the house to find him some pants, a fresh diaper, shoes and a coat. Put all three kids in the car, race to the bus stop – we’re too late. Also, the van is almost out of gas and I don’t have my wallet. Run back to the house, get my wallet and some other things I’d forgotten.  Get back out to the car and Maeli is screaming because she hates being in the car when it’s not moving.

Take Sam to school, drop him off just minutes before the bell rings. Head over to Smith’s to fill the van with gas. While pumping notification on my phone pops up that my doctor’s appointment is in 10 minutes – I’m at least 15 minutes away. Finish fueling, hop in the van.  Maeli is screaming again.  Drive to the doctor’s.  Arrive about 15 minutes late.  Have my appointment – everything looks great and I’ve lost 18 lbs since the beginning of the year! Best. diet. ever. 😉 Finish at the doctor’s, Danny keeps asking why they were shining a light on my bum.

Go out to the van and fight to get Danny into his carseat again. Waffle for a little bit and finally decide to be brave and finally take some returns from Christmas back to Macy’s (by some I mean about $200 worth of clothes from Black Friday sales). Danny won’t go through the door I open and insists on opening his own different door. Sales lady comes out to help him and looks at me like I’m being neglectful or mean. Go to take the returns back and find out that I have to take the specific items to their department. I only have items from 2 departments, but still, not the easiest to work with. Make my returns. As we’re leaving Danny insists that we go get french fries. I decide to make that deal with the devil… I mean, my son… and we head out to the car without too much more problem. Hit up Burger King on the way home and get a large order of fries. As soon as we’re through the drive thru he starts saying “no! I want a soda too!” Too late kid. Then the plea is for ice cream. *sigh* Finally about half way up the mountain he’s figured out that he’s not getting anything extra and asks for the french fries. Give him the french fries. Reaction? “No, lots of!” Good heavens! Tell him to suck it up.

Get home. Realize that Danny’s still in his PJs with his cowboy boots on. His sweatpants have made their way up to his knees. He looks like an orphan. This is how we’ve been out in public all morning – awesome. Also find that Sam drank about 3 sips of his smoothie. Danny proceeds to carry the smoothie around the house. Tell him to take it back to the table. He goes back… but then decides to walk around the kitchen with it. Slips on the floor and gets smoothie all over the floor, the back window and the curtains. Exactly what I was trying to avoid.

It’s time to go pick up Sam. Decide it’s a nice enough day that we can walk to the park. Leave Maeli with Eric and let Danny ride Sam’s bike to the park.  Carry Danny’s bike so we don’t have the problem of Sam not having a bike.  Get to the park just in time to see Sam get off the bus.  Confiscate Sam’s bike from Danny so that Sam can ride it.  Give Danny his bike.  Huge fit.  Tell Danny I’m going to ride his bike instead.  Go back and forth between me threatening to ride the bike, Danny riding the bike, Danny walking the bike, Danny throwing a fit for about a block.  Finally Danny decides to ride the bike.  The boys want to go to the scenic overlook on the way home.  Danny insists on riding in the mud close to the edge of the dropoff – just to give me gray hairs.  Get home.

Tell the boys we’re going in for lunch.  Danny is adamant that he’s still riding his bike.  Threaten to put the bike in timeout.  Argue with Danny.  Danny keeps faking me out that he’s coming in, and then whines again.  Danny falls off bike and is very mildly hurt.  Carry bike into garage while Danny is still sad about the bike.  Have lunch.

Get the last few forms to finish off our taxes.  Let the boys play on the tablets while finishing filing taxes.  Taxes filed – WOOT!  Realize it is now 4pm and still need to go to the grocery store.  Take another hour to finalize list, and decide that Danny is coming to the store and Maeli and Sam are staying with Eric.  Move carseats so we can take the Corolla instead of the van.  Danny fights over whether I buckle him or if he buckles himself (he says he wants to do it but won’t).  Run in for something I forgot.  Come back out and Danny is furious that he can’t reach his door handle.  Re-engage child lock on his door.  Drive as far as the park with him mad at me.  Put state returns in mail box and get mail.  Got the CD of proofs from our recent family photos – yay!!

Drive to Smith’s with Danny mad for most of the way.  Park in the parking lot.  Danny fell asleep – crap.  Unbuckle him and stand him up outside the car.  He’s still mostly asleep.  It’s pretty funny to see.  Make him walk into the store half-asleep.  There are no more shopping carts with cars.  Let him grab a small cart and walk towards the other entrance to check if there’s a car cart there.  Try to direct Danny’s cart.   Danny is mad that I would dare touch his cart.  Stop at the pharmacy to get a prescription.  Continue to other entrance still praying there’s a car cart – there isn’t.  Boo.  Go through the store with Danny with a little shopping cart and me with a big one.  Feel like a broken record.  “Danny, stay near me.  Watch out for other people.  No we’re turning down this aisle.”  Have lots of coupons and random items on the list.  Takes longer than usual.  Heading towards checkout and realize it’s after 6:30pm and we haven’t had dinner yet.  Grab a rotisserie chicken for dinner.  Checkout.  Danny keeps trying to go through cashier’s station.  Find out he wants stickers.  He gets some.  Puts one right on the top of my leg.  Decide not to fight it.

Out to the parking lot.  More pleas for Danny to stay near me.  Put all the groceries in the car.  Danny still has his cart and is spinning in circles, just to give me a panic attack.  Get groceries into car – probably have smashed things that don’t want to be smashed but mostly want to get finished so Danny isn’t in the parking lot anymore.  Remember there are plastic bags in the trunk.  Take them back to the store when we return the carts – win!  Out to the car again.  Danny fights over buckles again.  Drive home.

It’s after 7pm.  Send Sam to get ready for bed.  Bring groceries in.  Try to get perishables put away before dinner.  Maeli is hungry.  Sit down to feed her. Turn dinner prep over to Eric.  Eric finds missed perishables – doh!  Maeli’s done eating.  Eat food quickly while she swings.  Finish just before she starts to be mad.  Hold her while continuing to referee boys.  Eric has an important business call.  Trying to keep the boys volume down while holding Maeli and trying to get them to finish their food.  Eric retreats from his downstairs office up to the master bedroom – we failed.  Boys finish eating.

Sam gets a story for bedtime.  Read it to the kids while Maeli is angry at me.  Finish the story.  Danny wants another.  Send him up to pick one out.  Try to make Maeli happier.  Realize Danny’s been gone for awhile and that Eric is still upstairs on his call.  Dash upstairs. Find Eric reading the story to Danny.  Danny came in just as Eric’s call finished – phew.  Time for scriptures.  Sam reads 3 verses on his own – his reading is getting pretty impressive!  Read the rest of the chapter aloud.  Eric has put Maeli to sleep – hooray!  It’s Danny’s turn to pray.  Debate with him about whether he’s praying or not.  Danny finally prays… or something.  Prayer involves lots of random stories about imaginary friends.  Decide to go with it and just say amen.

Time for Sam’s pre-bed game.  Sam plays one level with Eric and then up to bed.  Go lay down with him.  He wants to play a couple levels with me.  Start the levels.  After the first level Danny comes in, throws lightswitch rave.  Finally disable wall switch by pulling cord on the light from the fan.  Take that Danny.  Boys get rowdy.  Threaten remove Danny.  Boys settle down and snuggle for 8 seconds.  Danny is getting rowdy again.  Take him downstairs much to the dismay of both boys. Eric’s turn to snuggle Sam.  Danny follows with promises of piety.  They finish snuggling.  Danny comes downstairs with Eric.

Maeli’s mad again.  Give Danny the option of snuggling with Mom or Dad while watching Olympics – Dad is chosen.  Strap Maeli into BabyBjorn – still mad.  Take her out.  Change her diaper – it’s slightly wet.  Feed her a little more.  Back into the BabyBjorn.  Still mad, but less so.  Watch Olympics for about 30 minutes.  Eric decides it’s time for him to go to bed.  Eric takes Danny up to bed with him.  Watch some Men’s Figure Skating.  Maeli asleep-ish.  Eat a snack.  Write this post.  Time to collapse into bed.

I’m sure that sounds super negative, it really wasn’t a terrible day.  I got lots done!  I went to the doctor’s, made some returns that have been hanging over my head for a long time, filed our taxes, made a huge grocery run, got our meal plans figured out for the next week and wrote in my blog!  And all that on top of my normal basic tasks – getting kids to school, feeding everyone, getting kids to bed.  Honestly, it was a pretty successful day.  But I’m definitely tired, tomorrow will be much less ambitious for sure 🙂  So, that’s sorta what it’s like to have 3 kids.

The Pain of Sin

One of my friends posted this article on Facebook today.  I didn’t get through reading all of it because as I got through the first few sections I had so many thoughts flooding my mind that I needed to stop reading and finish my own pondering.  In particular this is what she said that really stuck out to me –

In my religion, we classify these decisions as “sins” but I’m going to use a different word. I want you to see sin differently. That is the reason I am being open and honest about this. Let’s talk about sin in a more realistic way. Sin is Pain. Over the past four years  I decided to put myself through a lot of pain. This pain kept me from the temple; a place where I found so much peace and all of a sudden I was not allowed to go inside, let alone publicly pray in my own congregation… Sin really is pain. It causes pain. So let’s be more compassionate about how we look at pain because most of us are feeling a lot of it and it’s hard to find that motivation and love for ourselves so that we can allow the pain to heal and go away

I really liked her modified definition of sin as being pain.  I think too often as a church we tend to think of sin as bad things that people do that are detrimental to others.  But the truth is that most sin is most harmful to the person committing the sin, not to anyone else.  There’s a scripture that I stumbled upon several years ago that has changed my view of the gospel.  It was Doctrine & Covenants 59:4 and it reads (with my added emphasis) –

And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me.

When I read that I think my jaw literally dropped.  Crowned with commandments?  Wait, you mean like the commandments are something we should want in our lives?  The whole idea up front seemed absurd to me.  Commandments were things we were told to do or not to do, they restrict us and make our life difficult.  The whole challenge of life is to keep the commandments and that’s hard… isn’t that the point?  Suddenly though I understood the commandments differently.  We don’t get blessed for keeping the commandments – the commandments themselves are the blessing.  I don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me before, but after reading this it seemed so obvious.  Of course the commandments are blessings!  What are we taught in 2 Nephi 2:25?

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

If God’s whole purpose is to help us to obtain a fullness of joy then it makes perfect sense that the commandments are meant to bring us joy, not to restrict us or cause us pain.  I guess in some sense I’d understood that.  I knew that I was happiest when I kept the commandments.  I knew that the results of the commandments made me happy but I hadn’t made the connection that it was directly the commandments that made me happy.  I guess I’m really thick but that took me awhile to really understand.

I was thinking on that with an experience that my little brother is going through right now.  In the last few years he’s made some choices that have not always been in keeping with the teachings of the church.  I don’t want to share too much of his story because I don’t feel it’s mine to tell, but as a result he eloped a couple years back and wasn’t able to be sealed to his wife on his wedding day or have a traditional wedding.  However, in the time since then he and his wife have worked together and gotten themselves to a place where they are going to be able to be sealed in a couple of weeks.  Since they didn’t have any sort of traditional wedding the first time around my parents have decided to celebrate their sealing day like they would have liked to have celebrated their wedding day under different circumstances.  We’ll be going as a family to the temple, taking pictures, and having a reception-like party in the evening.  Whatever you’d expect as part of a regular wedding celebration we’re trying to do for their sealing, because this choice and the journey they’ve made is a big deal.

I’ve heard the attitude this is inappropriate.  That they missed out on that opportunity to have a reception because they chose to elope and that this is *not* a wedding and we shouldn’t be treating it like it is.  I think these people don’t understand this concept of sin as being pain.  Yes, I felt slighted to not be a part of my brother’s wedding the first time around.  But you know who was really caused the most pain from that decision?  My brother, not me.  His decision didn’t take anything away from my wedding day with Eric, or make it so that our experience of being celebrated on that day was any less.  His decision didn’t take away from the way that I was able to start my marriage with eternal covenants with the man I love.  The decisions and sacrifices I made to do things the “right” way the first time around have brought me JOY, and lots of it.  I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  He only took those things away from him himself.  There are plenty of ways that he has already cheated himself and had to go through a lot of pain to get to the place that he is right now.  You know who knows that best?  My brother.  So, now that he’s gone through all of that pain and suffering, why would I want to deny him any part of the blessings that I was able to enjoy?

Why do we insist on the attitude of the righteous brother from the parable of the prodigal son?  He chose to remove himself from the celebration because it wasn’t fair that his father was celebrating his unrighteous son’s return in a flashier way than the steady righteousness of his other son.  But what do we learn in that parable from the Savior himself?  In Luke 15:31-32 we hear the response of the father –

And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

The righteous son hadn’t missed out on any blessings, he already had all that his father had.  But for some reason he felt slighted that his father would celebrate the other son’s return to the fold.  I think many of us still hold that same attitude.  I think as a church, and as people in general we need to stop thinking that we need to punish people for their sins, or make them realize what they missed out on.  We need to realize that sin *is* its own consequence.  God doesn’t need us to judge people or make them feel less than worthy, he needs us to love each other and celebrate when we do something right.  In President Uchtdorf’s most recent conference address he extended this invitation:

To those who have separated themselves from the Church, I say, my dear friends, there is yet a place for you here.

I think the subtext to those who have been faithful members in the church is – make that place.  Do everything in your power to make those who haven’t always been on the straight and narrow feel loved, accepted and welcomed.  Do not make them feel ostracized for the things they’ve done wrong – they already know!  No one in this church, or on this world for that matter, is perfect.  So don’t feel like you need to make it any worse for someone because of their particular failings.  You know your own shortcomings and I doubt anyone needs to tell you of the pain they cause you.  So please don’t exacerbate anyone else’s pain by making them feel unworthy of the blessings they’ve worked so hard for.  It may not be the same way that you got there but it doesn’t make their journey any less valid.  In the words from another favorite talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Why should you be jealous because I choose to be kind?

The next time you feel slighted because someone is getting a blessing that you feel maybe they don’t deserve or haven’t worked or sacrificed for the way you did, I want you to apply President Uchtdorf’s iconic advice from Conference of April 2012

 Stop it!

Choose to love others and to be grateful for the commandments that you’ve been blessed to keep.  Be grateful that you didn’t have to go through the pain of sin that others have had to go through, and rejoice for those who have made their way back into the fold.

Mooooother I love you, Moooooother I doooo

me and brittsters
Me and my mom curling our hair while camping. What high maintenance girls we must be!

Today is Mother’s Day and across the world Primary children will be getting up in sacrament meeting to sing a song to their mother’s in honor of the day. In our family we have a joke about my mom’s least favorite Mother’s Day Primary Song – Mother, I Love You.  If you’ve never heard this song performed by a chorus of primary children you may not understand why she has such a loathing for this song – the lyrics are really sweet and who wouldn’t love ANY song sung by their children to them on Mother’s Day?!  But something about the timing of the song, and the opening few measures, the sound is reminiscent of a whining child who is slowly plodding through and fighting doing their morning chores.  While that may be an appropriate depiction of motherhood, it’s hardly the one most desired for remembrance on Mother’s Day.

Fortunately in our ward this year they’ve chosen a different song to honor mothers.  This will be my first Mother’s Day when I will actually have a child old enough to sing with the Primary children for Mother’s Day, and I’m stoked!  When I first heard the song choice, while I was relieved it wasn’t the aforementioned song, I was a bit confused.  The song that our music director had chosen is Love is Spoken Here, and while it’s a beautiful song, it had never struck me as a particularly Mother’s Day-y song.  However as I listened to our primary kids sing it, tears welled up in my eyes as it made me think of my own mother.  For those of you who don’t know this song the words to the first verse are below –

I see my mother kneeling with our family each day

I hear the words she whispers as she bows her head to pray

Her plea to the Father quiets all my fears

And I am thankful, love is spoken here.

I wish I had a digital picture I could post, but I have a very vivid picture in my own mind of my mother kneeling by her bed daily in prayer.  It’s probably one of the most recurring and constant memories of my growing up years to see her there.  Almost daily I would walk into her room to ask her where my homework was, or what we were having for dinner or to come kill a spider in my room – and there she was in silent prayer at the side of her bed.  I know that my mom has a very close prayerful relationship with our Heavenly Father.

As I heard the words “Her plea to the Father quiets all my fears” I thought that even though I no longer live with my mom and don’t have that visual reminder, I know that she is still there by her bedside and praying for me.  I thought of some of the things I am facing right now that are a little bit daunting.  When I thought about it, I knew that my mom is praying for me to be able to get through the trials I have before me, and I truly did suddenly have all my fears quieted.  Whatever I may have to face, I know that my mom is there, pleading on my behalf with the Lord.  What a wonderful feeling of peace that gives me.

The last line doesn’t quite seem like it goes with the rest of the song.  The song is tells a story of prayer, but then at the end the author says they are thankful that love is spoken in their home.  The word love isn’t even mentioned in the song before that.  However, I think that’s a powerful message right there.  Even without saying the words “I love you” to her child, the mother in this song has communicated love more effectively than any words could.  My mother spoke her love for us with actions as much as with words.  How could I doubt that my mother loved me when she spent her time talking to the Lord to know how best to raise me and love me and do all that was best for me?  I think the message of the song is that the best kind of love comes through teaming up with the Lord to provide the best care possible for your children.

I feel so very blessed to have the wonderful mother that I do.  Her example of prayer and faith has been a beacon to me throughout my life, and will continue to be so into the future.  I love you so much Mommy, and I hope that I can be as good of an example of faith and love to my children as you have been to me.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

The Miracle of the Cody Muffins

Today my brother Cody enters the Missionary Training Center for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to begin his two year mission preaching the gospel in Spanish to the people in the area of Morristown, New Jersey.  I am so proud of him.  In the picture above you’ll see over 80 muffins that I made in honor of my little brother receiving his mission call.  Ever since I can remember my brother has had the nickname “Cody Muffin”, so making muffins for his mission call opening party seemed appropriate.  I don’t know why we call him Cody muffin, but the name stuck.  He even has a song that goes along with this nickname.

Cody Muffin (sung to the tune of the Indiana Jones theme song)

Cody muffin, Cody boy

Cody muffin, Cody muf-fin boy

Cody muffin, Cody boy

Cody muffin, the muffin, the muffin of boy

Yes, we’re very creative lyricists in my family 😛  As he was playing basketball in high school this nickname spread as they called him “The Muffin Man” and we’d joke about “Do you know the Muffin Man?”  But the nickname itself isn’t what I wanted to write about.  As I was making several dozen muffins for my brother I realized that me baking muffins for Cody is nothing short of a miracle and I wanted to share with you the miracle of the Cody muffins.

When my mom was pregnant with Cody she started having severe pain in her stomach when she was about 6 months along.  She went to her doctor a few times and the doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with her so he sent her home saying “Well Mrs. Anderson, pregnancy can cause pain sometimes.”  This rather ticked my mom off as this was her fourth pregnancy; she pretty well knew that pregnancy could cause pain, and that this particular pain was NOT normal.  Finally the doctors figured out that she had a kidney stone, and not just your regular run-of-the-mill kidney stone, but a stone that was about 1cm in diameter.  In terms of kidney stones that was a veritable boulder.  She couldn’t pass it normally and they couldn’t do anything about it surgically until after the baby was born.  So she was stuck for the last three months of her pregnancy with this extreme pain that they couldn’t do anything about.  They put her on codeine and bed rest for the last few months of her pregnancy.  We joke that Cody is so named for the codeine that made it so our mom could continue her pregnancy without dying in pain, but my parents insist they had liked the name before my mom was given the drug.  During that time my family was so blessed by our friends and neighbors who helped take care of us.  I remember there was one lady who would come over and make me a lunch to take to school every day.  I don’t actually remember if she came over every day or what but she would always make me a ham sandwich.  To this day I still don’t care for ham sandwiches and I attribute that dislike to an overabundance of ham sandwiches at that time.  But I now realize more clearly what a simple but incredible act of service that was for her to make my lunch every day so my mom could take care of herself at this time.

Finally on 19 December 1993, Cody Allen Anderson was born, 3 weeks before his due date.  He had some difficulties at first so he was placed in the NICU until he was strong enough to come home.  After coming home my mom could tell that Cody had difficulties she hadn’t seen with her other children.  He would break out in hives and had a very difficult time breathing.  The doctor put him on Nutramagen, a special hypo-allergenic formula that was very expensive but kept Cody from having these reactions.  My mom knew he had allergies, but the conventional wisdom at the time was that people didn’t develop allergies until they were at least 2 or 3 years old, so my mom couldn’t even get a referral to an allergist from Cody’s doctor.  When they finally did get him in Cody was diagnosed with some severe allergies and asthma.  There were three things that Cody absolutely could not eat or he would need to be hospitalized almost immediately – eggs, milk and peanuts.  His airways would close up and he would go into anaphylactic shock.  My mom started having to carry around an epi-pen in case of any severe reactions and even though it was only the mid-90s, my parents were early adopters of cell phones so that they could be reached any time in case Cody had a reaction to something.  Cody was also more mildly allergic to a wide variety of other things – wheat, rice, soy, corn, grass, dust, mold… you name it.  In other people they would have considered these to be substantial allergies, but compared to his trifecta of anaphylactic allergies these were almost disregarded.  Feeding Cody was a very difficult task because so many basic things were off limits.  He ended up most of the time eating things that he *was* allergic to, but not as severely as the major allergies because there was so much off limits that it was hard to find something that worked.

A good example of Cody’s allergies – for his first birthday my mom realized that she wouldn’t be able to make him a birthday cake.  So instead of cake she opted to make him some red Jell-o.  However if you look at the pictures of Cody’s first birthday you’ll notice he has dark circles around his eyes and some hives.  We found out that day that Cody was allergic to Red 40, a common dye in many foods.

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As the years went on we got used to living with Cody’s food allergies.  We became experts at reading food labels and knowing that dextrose meant that there was milk inside (this was before the advent of common allergens being listed out separately and clearly at the bottom of the labels).  One of our favorite Cody allergy stories happened when Cody was 4.  My mom found him walking around eating a peanut butter chocolate chip granola bar, an obvious choice for something Cody could NOT have (remember anaphylaxis for peanuts and milk?).  She told him to hand it over, that he couldn’t eat it, and Cody told her “Don’t worry mom, Zach checked the ingredients!”  Zach, of course, was Cody’s best friend, who was at the time 3 and obviously had no reading capabilities and certainly was not a qualified choice for an ingredient checker.

Of course, being limited in what he could eat was difficult on his little growing body.  Despite having great athletic talents Cody wasn’t growing and developing as quickly or healthily as we’d have liked.  He was cheerful and a delight to be around, but he constantly had Benadryl in his system making him tired and not as capable as he would have liked.

When Cody turned 8 he was baptized, as most children in our church are.  After the baptism our dad had the privilege of laying his hands on Cody’s head to confirm him a member of the church and give him the gift of the Holy Ghost.  At this time it’s also customary for the person performing the confirmation to give a blessing to the person who has just been baptized.  As my dad was giving this blessing he suddenly stopped speaking.  He had a really long pause and we all started furtively looking around the room wondering what was going on.  Then, my dad started crying and we were really wondering what was happening.  Then he pronounced in his blessing that the allergies that had plagued his body for so long would no longer affect him the way they had.  There was a collective jaw drop and a sort of stunned moment for everyone there.  Typically blessings of this magnitude are not part of a confirmation, usually more general knowing the love of our father in heaven, being a good example to siblings, maintaining righteousness etc.  Not that those aren’t awesome blessings as well, but they don’t have the same sort of effect.  Everyone in that room knew about Cody’s allergies, heck, pretty much anyone who had ever met Cody knew about his allergies and it was an incredible thing for him to have been blessed with.

After the baptism day we all went home and pondered this declaration of healing.  It’s something we all knew and believed was possible, but not something we were expecting to witness that day.  Ironically, before the baptism I remember my parents discussing how they weren’t sure how prepared Cody was for baptism.  He’s not a super deep kind of guy, and that started from when he was pretty young.  What you get from Cody is pretty much all surface level.  Which isn’t a bad thing, I think what you get right there at the surface is pretty awesome, but he’s not one to go and sit and ponder on the things of the universe.  My parents weren’t totally sure that he’d done the sort of thinking about this choice as they thought it would merit.

The next day was a fast Sunday and we agreed as a family that we would fast to figure out the meaning of this great blessing.  The blessing hadn’t been that he was completely healed of his allergies but that they wouldn’t affect him as they had.  So we all fasted the next day.  We decided that what we would fast for was that if what the blessing meant was that he really could eat just whatever he wanted that he would have a desire to eat the foods.  That might sound silly, a kid who has been refused these things all his life and we’re asking that if he *wants* to eat them that’s an answer?  But you have to understand, these foods could have killed him the day before.  Only a week or so previously he had accidentally touched some ranch dressing at a class party and despite having the dressing washed right off he had hives breaking out all up and down his body.  The idea of eating something like that was incredibly frightening.  It would be like wanting to eat ice cream laced with cynide.

At the end of the day as we were breaking our fast Cody came up to my mom with a container of yogurt and asked my mom if he could eat it.  She asked him if he wanted to, which he said yes to and so she let him eat it.  I’d like to say that we all had perfect faith at that point and didn’t think too much of it, but the truth is that we all took mental note of where the epi-pen was, calculated how much Benadryl he would need and considered whether or not we should just hop in the car right away to go to the hospital.  But as we watched him with great trepidation… nothing happened.  We watched for the hives that we knew so well to break out – nothing.  We listened for his asthmatic breathing to get really bad – it didn’t.  We looked for any sign that we were wrong to have believed that this could happen – and we came up empty.  Cody truly had been healed in a way that can be described as nothing short of miraculous.

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Later Cody told my parents that as he was under the water being baptized he’d had the thought that if baptism could wash away his sins then it could wash away this trial from him as well.  We also found out that his sweet best friend Zach had been praying every night that Cody could get better from his allergies.  Oh the faith of little children!

The few weeks following Cody’s baptism were nothing short of a celebration for those who knew what had happened.  That night we attended a baptism for a young woman who had recently converted to our faith.  Afterwards they had the traditional open house with different refreshments.  The mother of the young woman noted to a family friend afterwards, “There was a little boy there who looked so happy, you’d think he’d never had a cookie before in his life!”  Little did that mom know at the time, he really hadn’t had a cookie before in his life.  Different friends called dibs on taking Cody out for different firsts.  His first cheeseburger, his first ice cream, his first time eating scrambled eggs.  His descriptions for the different foods were mind blowing, things that we take so much for granted were a whole new world for him.  It was an incredible experience.

In the years that have followed we’ve come to better understand why Cody was blessed that his allergies wouldn’t affect him the way they had rather than that he was completely healed.  While the foods that were so toxic to him before have diminished, there are still a very few things that can cause him the same distress as before, mainly almonds and walnuts.  He still has some minor asthma and is allergic to cats, but comparatively this is NOTHING when viewed in light of what his problems once were.

So the miracle of the Cody muffins?  A few months ago I had the privilege of making muffins for Cody – with eggs, milk, flour and all kinds of things that once would have killed him – and he was able to eat them.  When Cody was younger the prospect of him going on a mission was pretty grim.  The chances of him ingesting something lethal and not getting the care he needed in time by the time he was 19 were extremely high.  But beyond that, how could someone with the difficulties he had go and spend most of his time outdoors among dust, pollens and molds while going door to door to preach the gospel?  How could he leave an environment where a very controlled diet kept him alive to go eat at the homes of different members eating whatever might come his way?  The little 8 year old Cody would have been disqualified from serving a traditional mission based on his health.  I cannot express what a great miracle I was blessed to witness and how grateful we are as a family for it.  I’m so grateful for and proud of my little brother – his faith, his personality and his commitment to serve.  We’ll certainly miss him, but he’s going to be a great missionary.

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Enos, and the request of a mother

Note: I wrote the outline for this back in June, when April’s conference talk was obviously much more on my mind.  However, finishing off this post apparently took a backseat for awhile and I only just re-discovered the draft.  Please accept my apologies for being so delayed in posting this.

In April’s General Conference President Uchtdorf related a story at the beginning of his talk of a mother who had requested that he speak on a particular subject.  She had two children who were estranged from one another and she wrote to President Uchtdorf  saying that if he would just speak on a particular topic that her children would be reconciled.  President Uchtdorf said that among other things that letter had prompted him as to what to speak about.  He also said before beginning his talk “Dear sister, I pray that the Spirit will touch your children’s hearts.”

I was so touched that of the multitude of topics he could have chosen to speak on, to a church of millions of people, this good man directed his comments to one particular sister and her two children.  I felt like the request was a bit audacious to feel like your children’s fight warranted the intervention of someone of such standing who doubtless had many other things to do.  However, I was more impressed with President Uchtdorf’s fulfillment of the request, regardless of audacity.

Tonight we read the book of Enos.  In this single chapter book we read of a man’s prayer for his nation, his enemies and other things.  One of the particular things Enos requests is the preservation of his people’s records.  I couldn’t help but think, what if the only reason we have the Book of Mormon today is that this one man had the audacity to ask the all-powerful, all-seeing, surely busy God to look out for the things he and his people had written?  Surely he could have thought – if the Lord wants our records preserved, he’ll preserve them and I don’t need to ask for it.  But he didn’t.  Rather than just seeking for his own personal forgiveness and things that he could control, he put his faith in God and had the faith that his own requests – however small or insignificant – were being heard by one who has the power to fulfill those requests.

In the Bible Dictionary we read –

“Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”

What if Enos had neglected to perform that work and because of that we didn’t have the Book of Mormon today?  Perhaps the simple prayer of this one man have since affected millions of lives.  What if that one woman hadn’t taken the time to ask President Uchtdorf to speak to her children?  Perhaps this wonderful talk, which is so needed in our day, wouldn’t have been given.  Maybe we would have heard more about airplanes, or something else.  I’m sure whatever else President Uchtdorf could have spoken on would have been wonderful, but perhaps not this often quoted, well beloved talk that we were blessed with back in April.

This made me wonder, what blessings am I being denied simply because I don’t have the faith to ask?  I have a new resolve to strengthen my prayers and pleadings in behalf of those I care about, our nation and our world. I think our prayers have more power and import than we realize and we need to be diligent in using it to benefit the world.