Thursday, March 25, 2010

Curious??? Join the Contest!

Once in a while I get comments with questions in them about my beliefs. So far they have all been very respectful and based out of curiosity. I just watched THIS video that NieNie linked to on her blog today. I found that it did a really good job of answering some questions people often have about our church -- the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. 

I recommend the video to all those who have any interest in Mormons. Even if you think you know all about Mormons, you may just learn something you didn't know. I know I learned something new watching it. Anybody want to guess which fact I didn't know? Watch the video. Guess which fact I didn't know in a comment and I will send a prize to the person who guesses right. If more than one person guess right I will randomly pick one of the correct guessers to win. 

What is the prize you ask? Hmmm. How about a gift card? Everyone loves gift cards right? $15 gift card to your favorite store (assuming your favorite store is one I can easily get to so I can buy the gift card.) Guesses must be in by end of the day on March 31st. I will announce the winner on April 1st -- No fooling!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stay at Home

The cute reason I quit my job. 

Someone asked if it was hard for me to decide to stay at home with my kids or if that was always my plan. It is a worthwhile question. Here is your answer.

I was working as a criminal defense attorney when I was pregnant with Sabrina. It was good work and I loved it. It was interesting to me. I felt passionate about the cases I was working on. Best of all I was able to do quite a bit of the work from home. 

There is a lot of research and writing involved in criminal law. I was assisting a more experienced attorney with his grade 4 felony cases (mostly rapes and murders not up for the death penalty.) I did all his writing for him. I researched for him. I interviewed potential clients and ran down leads in the case. And when the cases when to trial I went with him and he let me get trial experience by sometimes questioning witnesses. It was fun and exciting. 

At the time I planned to keep working for him after I had my baby but more from home and just getting a sitter when I needed one. I thought I would get bored at home all day. 

Then I had Miss Sabrina. I stayed home with her for 3 months. Often Jon would come home from work and find me in the same place he left me -- rocking sleeping Sabrina in my arms. I just wanted to hold her all day. After about 3 months my boss called and asked me to go do an arraignment for him. All I had to do was go wait for the case to be called and then stand up with the client and put in his plea of "not guilty." 

I sat there for 3 hours next to this accused armed robber waiting to stand and say "not guilty your honor." That was the last day I worked. I missed my baby so badly in those three hours. Jon made enough money for us so I didn't HAVE to work and I just didn't want to be away from her. 

Sometimes now I think it would be nice to have a job to exercise my intellect a bit more and give me a break from being "mommy" all day. But when it comes right down to it I just don't want to miss even the boring slow parts of motherhood with my children. There will be a time for work someday. But right now I want to savor the time I have with these lovelies before they grow up and go away.

Spring is in the Air

My nose is drippy. My sneezles and sniffles and itchy eyes are all speaking to me. The leaves are returning on our Camille tree out front. The signs are all there. Spring is springing up all around. 

I have a love hate relationship with spring. Ever since I was about 7 or so I have had terrible allergies every Spring. It probably didn't help that my parents and our neighbors planted 11 olive trees on our cul de sac back then. Their pollen is the worst. 

I remember so many, many nights I spent with ice cold wet rags on my eyes to help with the itching and numb them so I could go to sleep. I usually could find a medicine to help with the other symptoms but the itchy eyes ... they were my nemesis back then. 

Now my eyes are much less of an issue for me. They are just a tale tell sign that my drippy nose is allergies and not a real sickness. And these days I find remedies to help me along with most of those symptoms. I have had a few weeks of severe asthma this season. But that seems to be getting better now too. Still Spring has always been a season of physical suffering for me.

On the other hand I LOVE the beauty of Spring. If it weren't for the allergies and asthma I would say Spring was my favorite season by far. I love the flowers and the new leaves. I love the color and the rain showers. I love the warmer days. I just wish I could go outside and enjoy them fully. 

Now Spring also means preparing for Easter. Which has taken on an even weightier significance in our lives. And it means preparing for Camille's birthday. This means deep thinking, remembering, and subtle aching. It is a time to drink from the bitter cup of reality and bathe in the hope and promise offered by my Savior. It is another love hate aspect of Spring.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Few of His Favorite Things

The Little Cowboy is getting better at walking. He always walks his best when he has a remote or a phone in his hand. The boy LOVES buttons.

This thing has LOTS of Buttons! And they make sound! Noble loves buttons and he LOVES music. Sometimes I could swear he is singing in the car to Annie's violin music CD. 

Noble loves his big sisters. Last night he was giving Annie a ride on the push toy. 

I don't have a photo of it yet but he has also learned to sign "more." I had been trying to teach him this for a few weeks. Then one day I was feeding him and he was getting fussy. So I showed his the signs again for More and All Done. He got really frustrated and balled his hands into fists and gritted his teeth and made all his little muscles get all tense with that look of frustration on his face. Then he looked straight at me and did the sign for "more" and said "MOE!" I got the message. Little guy loves food. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Grieving Husband

To the Anon with the Grieving Husband: 

I know it is not easy to be there for our loved ones when they are hurting. It is hard for the husband watching the wife go through labor. It is hard for the mother seeing her child sick and in pain. It is difficult for a spouse watching their spouse grieve the loss of one of their family members. 

I have been on both ends of this dilemma. Neither is an easy place to be. But I think being the griever, you generally know what it is like to be the one who doesn't understand grief. I mean most of us at one point in our life didn't understand what it was like to lose someone close to you. There are those, like my children who learn this at a young age. But most of us remember what it was like to not understand.

So for me it is easier to give a broad allowance to friends and family who don't were not present for me at those painful times. I think I have just felt more grateful to have people who do get it then upset that some don't. Does that make sense? I don't expect ANYONE to get it so I don't have hard feelings about friends who didn't call or whatever. 

So I doubt your husband would think you are selfish. I don't think you are selfish. And yes someday this dilemma will go away. Someday you will understand your husband's grief. It is a fact of life that people die. Someday it is likely that someone you are close to will die before you do. And then you will better be able to mourn with him and not be scared by his grief. Till then perhaps you can write him a letter to tell him how you feel and how much you love him and how you wish you could be there for him more.

I can tell you that grief is one of those pains you have to "push through" just like labor. If you can find the courage and strength to sit with your husband and hold him while he cries and let him talk to you about his feelings I think you would find a new level of love in your marriage. I am sure if you pray for the strength and understanding to do this the Lord will help you "push through" your own pain so you can be there for him. You don't have to do the talking. It is okay if you cry with him. Just be there for him as much as you can.

Hope this helps and I hope you find the inner strength to push through and give birth to a new level of closeness in your marriage. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Grace vs. Works

Anon commented as follows to my Bubble Kids post:

Loved this post. I have been following your blog for some time and have been praying for you and your family a lot. Can you answer a question for me? You said in your post in regard to getting to raise Camille again..."In the end she will be mine to raise 'if I live worthy'." Can you explain that to me? I am curious because I know that you are LDS and that I do not know exactly how yours and my faiths differ. I believe that by accepting Christ and knowing He died for my sins, I will be in Heaven one day. That part has been earned FOR me, not BY me. So I just wondered what you meant. Again, I am purely no way is this a confrontational question! Again, I loved this post. God Bless you and your family! Still praying for you all.

Thank you so much for the prayers Anon. I really do feel and appreciate all the prayers of support from so many of varied faiths all over the world. I can feel of their power in my life. I know it is through them and the power of the Atonement of Christ that my spirit and my heart have healed so much in the last two years. 

I appreciate your question and will try to answer. First I must explain though, that just as your question was asked in curiosity, my answer is given to inform only. I am not trying to convince anyone with this post that I am right. Of course I believe that. But I do not feel it my duty to convince any one of that. If anyone wants to know what is right and true, they ought to be asking God about that. He is the one who really convinces us (or converts us) to any truth. I know he answers my prayers in HIs own time and I have felt His Spirit teach me many truths. I know He loves all of us as His children. And so I believe He will answer any who honestly and earnestly seek to know what is True.

Okay now on to your question. It seems your question comes down to the wanting to understand how LDS people view the doctrine of Grace. Please correct me in a comment if I am wrong on that. We do in fact believe that we are indeed saved by Grace. But we believe that we must be found worthy of that Grace based upon our obedience  to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Many years ago one of our prophets named David O. McKay gave an example to illustrate this. He told the story of a group of boys learning to swim. He told how one of the boys fell into a deep hole in the stream and would have drown but for a quick thinking friend who extended a branch to the boy. The boy took hold of the branch and was pulled by the friend to safety.

This example illustrates the relationship between grace and works. Christ has paid for our sins. He did the work. He extended the branch. But we believe that to take sufficient HOLD of the branch we must do more than just profess an acceptance of the offer. We must take firm grasp on it and hold true to it against the current as we are pulled to safety.

It is a misunderstanding to think Mormons believe we can earn our way to heaven through righteous living. We know that it is only in and through our Savior Jesus Christ that we are saved. But we are saved by Him after all we can do. As I noted in my Bubble post, we do all we can and rely on him to make us "perfect even as our Father in Heaven."

We do not believe we can profess acceptance of the Savior and then continue sinning thinking that the Savior will save us no matter how we live. It is like the parable of the 10 virgins. Only 5 had oil enough in their lamps when the Bridegroom came. We fill our lamps with oil through our Christ like acts. Even though all 10 knew of the Bridgegroom and wanted to go to his wedding, only 5 were let in. These were they whose actions afforded them enough oil.

Really we are trying to follow the Savior as closely as we can in our attempt to become like Him. We believe that in the great day of judgement He will know each of our hearts (if they are broken and contrite and repentant) and all our works (whether we tried our best to follow him and keep his commandments) and He will judge whether we have truly accepted the gift of the atonement that he has offered us.

If you would like a more in depth understanding of this principle, there is a great article HERE that goes over the teachings of Paul in the New Testament and how we understand Paul's teachings to support this doctrine. It isn't long. Just a page or two and totally worth the read if you are wanting more detail and scriptural citations.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bubble Kids

There were some really good questions from the last post. I will try to get to them all as best I can in time but today's post is going to address the last question I read. Here it is:

How do you keep from feeling panicked that something might happen to one of your other children? Do you find yourself wanting to wrap them with bubble wrap or watching them every single instant? I find that I am so worried about something happening to one of my children, I don't really totally enjoy the "now." 

The reason I choose this question for my post today is because I just was thinking about this as we were getting the kids off to school this morning. Then I checked my email after they left and found this comment with this question.  

I am not naturally a worrier. I kinda feel like things happen for a reason and I trust that if I am doing my best, Heavenly Father will make up for what I am lacking. That has been the case for me in the past in more ways than I can number. That theory applies to everything from event planning to caring for my children. 

Now since Camille's accident ... I worry more. But not because I think I can keep my child safe from every harm. But because I know I cannot. There are too many ways a child can be hurt that we would never anticipate. We still try to keep them as safe as we can given the knowledge we have, but hurt is a part of living. Our children are going to get hurt one way or another. That is the nature of the world in which we live. I guess I worry more now because my heart has been so wounded. KNOWING the hurt makes you never want to feel it again.

Mostly I worry about Noble. He is at a very dangerous age and stage. This morning I was watching him crawl around the floor looking for anything to put in his mouth. I thought about how I have to hold myself back from just forcing him to let me hold him all day long. He likes to explore. He doesn't like to be confined to a high chair or exersaucer. So lately I have been following him around every waking hour.

Except for when I can't. There are times I have to actually do something other than just sit and watch him. There are times I am doing something else while watching him and I get distracted. I am human. And so I am praying every day for his safety and for the health and safety of all my children. I am doing my best and praying that God will make up for me in my human weaknesses.

I still do trust God. I feel strongly like it was Camille's time to go and that if it hadn't been drowning in the spa that day, she would have died some other way within the same time frame. I know I was doing all I knew at the time to keep her safe. I know that it is pretty "miraculous" that she was able to escape our house and make it to the spa undetected. 

And the worst happened. And it hurt unimaginably. It still hurts. But I am okay. At the end of the day God is still my God and He is supporting me from day to day. In the end she will be mine to raise if I live worthy. In the end we will all be together and we will have joy. So God has not failed me. I still trust Him.

Still I am hyper aware of where Noble is at all times now. I guess that is what hit me this morning. I was just noticing how hyper aware I am of him and how I have to force the worry inside me to take a back seat. Then I took a deep breath and remembered who is really in control. And I didn't worry anymore.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sugar Free

Today I had a "sugar free" day. I made a goal to go the whole day without eating any sugar. I also made the goal to only eat whole foods. I was pretty amazed by the day. I thought it would be SO much harder than it was. Actually the only time I even felt restricted was when I saw donuts at the school while volunteering and I wanted one. But they weren't even mine to eat so...

I found that I had lots more energy and I wasn't hungry at all. I didn't even have that 2 pm sleepy hour hit me. I planned out my food in advance so I would have plenty to eat. Everything I ate was super yummy. I didn't feel at all deprived.

The one big negative was how much time it took to cook and prepare my food. I made homemade bread with honey and fresh ground whole wheat. That took a hour or two. I also grocery shopped so I would have real food to eat. :) And then for dinner I cooked for 3 hours to make homemade veggie burger patties with a fresh fruit salsa to go on top.

I have to say that dinner was seriously gourmet great. I love lentils and barley which were the base for the "burger' patties. But the best was the mango, pineapple, and tomatillo salsa on top. Seriously SO good.  You can find the recipe HERE. Only I left the chili out of the salsa so my kids would eat it. Plus I don't like things too hot.

I am not sure I will do every day "sugar free," but I am going to try to do it again today. I found a website called that calculates not only your calories but your nutrition. I found it very motivating yesterday to input my food and see in which nutrients I was deficient. It gave me lists of foods I could eat to make up for the nutrition I was lacking. That proved very helpful.

I am going to try this site out for 2 weeks to see if I like it that well over time. Hope you all have an energy filled day.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Answer to a Question

Someone asked how I introduce my family to new people. I figured some others may find this information useful so I thought I would answer.

How I answer depends on how the question is asked. If you think of all the ways you introduce your own family to people I bet you would find that there are lots of ways. This is especially true the larger your family gets. 

This was one of my biggest concerns after Camille died and one of the few questions I had for other mothers who had lost children. I found most of them said that how they introduce their family just depended on the situation. At the time I hated this answer. I didn't EVER want to not include Camille in my answer. I felt like that was saying she didn't count and She Does Count. 

Since then I have come to understand why these mothers don't always mention or include their angel children. It is really a pretty big bomb to drop in a casual passing conversation. So I think this is one topic that we mothers of angel children struggle with no matter how we decide to answer. 

I, however, have a few basic rules of thumb for myself when introducing my family. 
1) Don't lie. 
2) Camille counts.
3) Try not to make others feel devastated.

That being said let me give a few examples. 

If I meet someone and I am alone and they ask how many children I have I say 5. If this is a person I will see again and they ask their ages or names or any more detail I say I have an 8 year old, a 7 year old, a 4 year old, one that would have been 2 but passed away and a 10 month old. If I am never going to see this person again (grocery store or something) I say they all 2 years apart and the oldest is 8.

If I meet someone when I have kids with me they often will not ask how many kids I have. If I only have Noble many will ask if he is my first. I say he is my 5th and that he has 4 older sisters. They are usually so distracted by how sad they are for him to have all those older sisters that they don't bother to ask any details about the sisters.

If I have all 4 kids with me people never ask how many kids I have. They just assume that these are all my kids. They will make comments like, "So 3 girls and then you got your boy huh?" To this I sometimes say, "actually there is one more girl not with us." Other times I just don't feel like correcting them so I just nod and smile. 

If it is a passing comment by a stranger I generally don't go out of my way to correct their assumptions. But if they ask directly I tell them the truth. If I am meeting someone who I know will eventually know me well enough to know about Camille I tell them as soon as the opportunity presents itself naturally.

Most of the time I am able to mention Camille and then Noble after and I find that if I at peace in how I mention her then the other person usually feels more comfortable with the information.

I know this is a really personal thing for bereaved mothers face and decide. I think I took my lead from my Grandmother. She lived to be 99 almost 100 and two of her daughters passed away when she was still living. They were grandmothers themselves when they died. I would never of thought to say she only had 4 kids. If anyone asked her she would say she had 6 children. I knew my aunts and had cousins  by them. I would never even think not to include them in the count of how many kids my grandmother had or how many siblings my dad had. 

I guess I feel like just because Camille's life was short and she didn't have posterity to carry pieces of her forward, she doesn't count any less than my aunts. So as much as I can, I include her.

Hope that answers your question. Anybody else got questions?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Little Pieces of Me

Thanks everyone for your comments. I have been feeling much more sunny today. Slowly the skies are clearing and the weather is warming. :) Now for today's post.

Tonight after I got home from church duties, I ran upstairs to kiss my little girls goodnight. Jonathan had them all tucked in bed. He is so good. Then he and I went to our room to talk before he went to sleep. While we were talking we had a visitor. It was Ann Marie. 

"Well, I just wanted to tell you that I am having a hard time sleeping because the other girls are playing and I was really wanting to get some good rest because I wanted to play school tomorrow and so I wanted some really good rest and it is really hard because Sabrina and Lauren are being so loud because they are playing so I can't sleep."

About 1/10 of the way through this speech Jon went to go separate the girls so they would go to sleep. I sat and listened to the rest of the "explanation" for Annie's inability to sleep thinking how logical and like me this little girl in front of was. She has my eyes and my seriousness. She is in some ways so much like her father but in most ways she reminds me so much of me. 

Then after she went back to bed Jon and I talked some more till we heard more voices coming from down the hall. I went to investigate. This time I found Sabrina and Annie talking. I threatened Sabrina with separation if I heard any more noise. Sabrina hates to be alone. It is the worst form of punishment for her to be separated at night. She loves people and she loves her sisters. She, like me, doesn't like to be alone. 

Then I closed the door and looked in at my little Lauren all alone in her bedroom (which hasn't been slept in for months.) Her little self reminds me so much of how I used to look (only with different hair) when I was young. She is the 3rd child. I was the 3rd child. My heart ached to see her alone. So I went in to snuggle her. 

Her little hands played with mine - larger versions of the same hands. I marveled at how small her hands are and how somehow they will grow to be as large as mine. I wished I could freeze time and keep her there with her little mini me hand in mine forever. I am savoring these days of little hands and little feet. I see in my girls little pieces of the best parts of me. 

One of the greatest gifts of motherhood is seeing little pieces of yourself shine in your children. It immortalizes mothers so long as their posterity lives.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I have been feeling "overcast" the last couple of days. Last night was particularly "stormy" for me. It has been the first time in many months that I have felt the ache and sadness of grief revisit me in force. I felt the physical pain of the absence of Camille in my heart yesterday. 

That is hard for me to admit. It is not easy to write it here and even more difficult to tell anyone else. I only told Jonathan. I don't have some reason for why it hit. There was no "trigger" that set it off. I don't know why I am just missing her so much the last few days. I just am.

Why is it so hard for us to admit when we are feeling low? I know I am not the only one who feels this way. To me it is a bit embarrassing to tell someone I am sad and a bit depressed. Why is that? There is no shame in sorrow and grief and depression. They are all human emotions. We all experience them. Why do we feel we must hide them from others?

Perhaps it is because we don't want to make others uncomfortable. Often people do not know how to respond to someone who is grieving or sad or depressed. How can we help them anyway? Maybe we don't tell people because there really isn't anything they can do anyway and we don't want to make them feel bad also. 

But I have found that many times, just talking about it (or writing about it) gets the sadness out. Many times we just need to let the sadness out and then we feel better. I guess that is why I decided to blog about it now. It isn't something I should have to hide or be ashamed to feel. I don't expect people to know what to do or to think they need to do something to make it better. I have learned that some things can't be made "better" they just become more bearable. 

I just wanted to get a bit of the ache out. I want to see it on the page instead of feeling it like a whole in my chest. Perhaps the sun will come out tomorrow. Here's hoping my spirits warm up as well.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

From a Child's Perspective

Sometimes I like to try to see the world through the eyes of my children. One of the ways I do this is let them take some photos with my camera. It is always interesting to see what they come up with. Here are a few of my favorites.

First -- a couple of photos taken by Lauren.

You will find that Noble is a popular subject to photograph.
Now Lauren's "self portrait."

Love that one of her tooties. Now here is one by Ann Marie.

Sabrina always makes a great subject to photograph. Annie also took several of Sabrina jumping rope. Here is one of those:

Now for a few by our little artistic girl Sabrina:
This was after we got home from California. Lauren was still not feeling well and I was trying to give her love. She was having none of that. But she did like the doll she got from the CVS as her bribery/reward for letting the doctor look at her.
Annie led Noble all around the downstairs with the jumprope. He really wanted to get the aglet. (Sabrina just taught me that aglet is what you call the part of the jump rope that you hold onto. Smart girl that Sabrina.) Noble was happy when he finally got to chew on it.
And perhaps my favorite picture from my children's photography recently:
The Aglet: by Sabrina Waite

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Dear Noble,

You are almost 10 months old now. You are the spitting image of your father. You are crawling everywhere and getting braver as you take a few steps between objects. You love real food and spoons and music. You are a joy to every member of your family.

You have been named after two great men. Noble -- your great grandfather on your father's side, and Morgan, your maternal grandfather. They are both wonderful examples in so many ways. But today I want to tell you about your grandfather, my father, and why I gave you his name.

My father is the fifth child in his family. He had 4 older sisters. I wanted you to remember that you shared this family placement with him. It isn't always easy for a little boy to have four older sisters. And even though you only have three to deal with, I wanted you to remember that really there are four to look up to. 

I hope your grandfather lives long enough for you to really get to know him. He is an amazing man that your father and I both admire very much. He has one of the most loving and selflessly giving hearts of any man I know. Countless times as a child I remember him going out of his way to help a friend or a stranger. Whether it was helping with a midnight repair or driving to California to pick up a stranded friend of a friend of a friend whose car broke down. Your grandfather was there to serve.

And his service continues even more now in his retirement years. Grandad used to be an attorney for the county. He retired several years ago and and since served two missions with Nana. They have helped many people around the world on these Humanitarian service missions to Serbia and Kenya. 

Today Grandad and Nana were driving in the car to California to go to Aunt Nikki's babies shower. Grandad got a phone call from a man in Salt Lake City who works for LDS Humanitarian Services. Recently there was a very big earthquake on an island called Haiti. The results were completely devastating. Many campaigns for aid have been underway to help the people of this small nation. 

The man on the phone wanted to know if your grandfather would be able to fly down to Haiti in 5 days to help build temporary housing for the people of Haiti. Your grandfather is now 73, but he is strong and one of the hardest workers I have ever known. He knows how to build and fix things. He loves to build. He loves working with tools and doing projects. And he loves to help people. 

Could there have been any better project for him than this? I don't think so. Without hesitation he accepted the assignment. He will be leaving Monday for Haiti. We are not sure how long he will be gone, maybe 2 or 3 weeks. We know he will do much good and have a great experience while he is there. 

You should know what a wonderful man he is Noble. I hope you will know him well as you grow so that you can grow up to be like him. There are many "Morgans"in our family. They are all honorable, steadfast, and worthy men. But you are named after my father Morgan D. Harris and I hope you will strive to develop the innate charity that he so beautifully exemplifies with his life.

your Mother Stephanie 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


My trip with the kids down to California went very well. At least until the last day. Thursday night Lauren woke me up around 2 a.m. I let her in bed with me to snuggle and after a few minutes she told me her ear hurt. She was close to tears. 

I took her out to our friends living room and rocked her on the glider. I snuggled her on the couch. I gave her Tylenol. I told her stories. I covered her with cozy blankies. She couldn't sit still. She just hurt. Nothing I could do could make it better. I offered up my best mother's prayer for her. We went from one position to another trying to make it feel better. Her bottom lip quivered as she tried to be brave through the pain and exhaustion. 

She wanted our "magic" Camille blanket to make her feel better. I hadn't brought it. I found a baby blanket that was soft instead. She threw it over her head. I asked what she was doing. She told me to leave her alone. A couple of minutes later she took it off. She was so sad and disappointed. "It didn't work," she said with tears and frustration oozing out of her. 

We had been weathering the pain for about 45 minutes. Then I thought maybe I could distract her with some television. I turned on our friend's television to Nick Jr. I saw Kai Lan. Lauren sat in the glider and rocked with her blankie. I laid down on the couch. I dreamt I met Kai Lan and I gave her a big hug and told her how much I loved her. I woke up to the gentle tapping of my little girl. 

"I am all done," she said rather matter of factly. Then she turned around and headed back to her bed. It was now close to 5 a.m. I went back to my own bed and crawled in. Before I fell back to sleep I offered another prayer. 

"Dear Heavenly Father, Tonight I thank you for the person who invented television. I love that person."

The next morning when we woke, Lauren had goopy pink eyes. There would be no swimming lessons that day afterall. Her ear was still hurting as well. I took her the the CVS Minute Clinic to get some medicine and have her checked out before our drive to the higher elevation of home. 

She did not want to go to any kind of doctor. I assured her there would be no shots. She still didn't want to go. I strapped the baby Bjorn on Sabrina and put Noble in it. Then I picked up Lauren and carried her into the CVS. We looked at the toy aisle as we waited for our turn. I promised her a toy of her choice if she would just let the doctor look at her.

Finally it was our turn. We all filed into the small exam room. Lauren was glued to me with face in my chest. I reminded her of her toy and that she had to look at the doctor to get it. She eased up some and let him look at her eyes. He took her blood pressure, let her take her own temperature, and listened to her heart. We were doing well. Sabrina and Annie were playing with Noble on the floor. We had been in the CVS for about 25 minutes by now though and I knew I didn't have much time left before they would be bored of watching him. 

Then it was time to look in Lauren's ears. She didn't feel well, she said. He looked in own ear--infected, he said. She said she felt like she was going to throw up. Her face was white. He handed her the trash can. She threw up a little. He looked in her other ear. It was fine. She kept dry heaving over the trash can. When she finished he checked her throat. It was fine. She had more dry heaving to do. 

Finally there was only paper work left to fill out -- prescriptions to send to the pharmacy. Lauren said she felt sleepy. I looked at her. Her face was... devoid of color... it was the face of death. She was limp and faint in my arms. I knew all of this was a reaction to her fear of medical things. I knew we were with a medical professional and he didn't seem to be worried. Still, I looked at her limp in my arms with her face so like that face -- that face of my other limp colorless child -- and my heart skipped a few beats. 

I had to remind myself that this was Lauren and she would be fine. I just needed to get some medicine in her and get home. The nice man let me lay her down in his exam room while I went to the pharmacy side of the store to pick up her prescription. She had fallen asleep. Sabrina and Annie stayed with her. I walked the 20 feet away from the exam room to get in line at the pharmacy with Noble. 

The lady at the counter was having some kind of insurance issues. The lady in front of me could see I was ... well I had my hands more than full. She let me go in front of her. 10 minutes passed. Finally the person in front of me was done. Lauren had woken up and the next person had come to the minute clinic so she had to leave. Sabrina brought her to me. She was shaking and shivering and white as a ghost. 

I juggled a cranky Noble and directing the pharmacist as to our prescriptions to be filled while trying to get Sabrina to get me a bottle of Tylenol off the shelf. Some older gentleman got the Tylenol for me. I ripped open the package and poured the medicine in the cup for her (still juggling Noble and limp crying Lauren.) She didn't want to take the medicine -- I mean REALLY didn't want to take the medicine. 

I threatened and bribed till she drank the medicine. I told the pharmacist we would pick the medicine up through the drive through. I grabbed the empty packaging for the toothbrush my kids had opened and given Noble to play with and the opened Tylenol and gave Noble back to Sabrina and picked up Lauren and herded my crew to the front of the store to check out. 

"Man you really are superwoman," said the clerk. I didn't feel like superwoman. I felt like super needs help woman and super grateful for the small acts of help and kindness of strangers woman. I wondered how single mothers do this. How do they function when times get sticky like this? All I wanted to go was be home with Jon so he could help me. I just needed his emotional and physical strength so much.

A few minutes later, with medicine picked up and forcefully administered, we were on our way home. As we got onto the freeway I realized I needed to pee. I needed to pee, but I couldn't. I just couldn't stop and take all my kids into someplace to pee. Not with Lauren so limp and faint and Noble so tired and cranky. I just had to get home. My needs would just have to wait. 

Two hours later Lauren had recovered from her medical phobia trauma and had her color back. We pulled off to get gas and go to the bathroom and get a few treats for the road. Life was better. We sang the songs to West Side Story together all the way home. I was happy to be in the car and going home to our harbor of safety, strength and peace.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Testimony Fireside

As I have mentioned before, I work in the young women's organization of our church. Last night I gave a fireside to all our youth aged 12-18. It was on what a testimony really is and how to get one. Mostly we focused on what is a testimony. Being that I am an attorney, I got the job of teaching this one. I thought I would share the fireside or at least my written version of it. I never follow my scripts very well and end up adding or saying things different in the moment. But this is what I had prepared.

Feel free to use it if you work in the church youth programs. That is why I am sharing it. I think it is good to share ideas for youth activities, firesides and lessons. I have a lesson on virtue I gave a couple weeks back that I need to type up to share as well. It just takes so much time to type these things up. It has been taking away from the blogging time.

Swimming lessons were great until the last day when Lauren woke up with an ear infection. I will have to do a post on that ordeal. Tomorrow maybe. Suffice it to say for now that I have serious heartfelt respect and a week's worth of empathy for all you single moms out there. You really are superwomen.

Okay now for the fireside: Sorry I know it is really long but I don't know how to do one of those links to a PDF file or something.

Welcome to the Witness Training Center.  Tonight you will be learning about how to be powerful witnesses both in and out of the courtroom. How many of you have watched a TV actor playing a lawyer yell out an “objection” in the courtroom?

There are rules about what kind of evidence and testimony are allowed to be considered in trial. All testimony is given under oath. Two of the most important requirements of a testimony are that it be personal knowledge of the witness and that it be Relevant. That means witnesses can only testify to things they know for themselves and that their testimony tends to PROVE or DISPROVE a material element of the case.

Perhaps this would be easiest to understand if I give you an example.

This is Joe. Joe is in a tight spot. He has been accused of Burglarizing Natalie’s home. Now the law says that Burglary is entering a home, business, or other premises with the intent to commit a theft or other felony. So there are 2 main elements the district attorney has to prove to send Joe away for burglary. He has to prove that 1 he entered Natalie’s home and 2 that he did so with the intent to commit a felony (ie steal something or hurt someone inside.)

So we are going to do a mock trial and few of you will come up and give your testimonies. As each person gives his or her testimony, the rest of you will act as opposing counsel. That means that if you hear the witness testify to something that he or she either does not have personal knowledge of you should raise your hand and call out “objection personal knowledge.” Or if the witness says something that does NOT tend to prove or disprove one of the key elements – entry and intent to commit a felony – you should raise your hand and call out “objection Relevance.”

I will act as the Judge and either “sustain” your objection (meaning you were right) or “overrule” your objection (meaning you were wrong). If you miss an objection that I notice I will help you by striking the testimony myself. Please keep order in the court during this process and leaders are welcome to participate.

We will now call our first witness. Natalie. You are called to the stand.

Prosecutor – Natalie Please tell us what happened to you on February 12, 2010.

We will next call CSI Ryan to the Stand.  – Tell us about what your found at Natalie’s house on the 12th of Feburary of this year.

Now we will call Bob.
“Natalie” -- Please read the following testimony pausing between each paragraph.

I went to work that day and when I came home I noticed the lock on my front door was broken and the door was ajar.

My front door is red and really cute.

I went inside and all my furniture had been rearranged.

There were muddy footprints all through the house.

My floors are all nice hard wood floors.

I picked the wood out myself in the forests of Brazil.

I looked all over the house and no one was there.

Nothing appeared to be missing at first.

Then I noticed my Picasso had been exchanged for a Jonas Brothers Poster.

That Picasso was worth a million dollars.

My grandmother gave me that painting.

I really loved my Grandmother.

My grandmother died last year.

Joe wanted that painting. Bob told me that Joe had been talking about the painting and how much he loved it.

CSI RYAN – Please read the following statements pausing between each paragraph.

I processed the scene using standard procedures. I dusted for fingerprints. I found several fingerprints on the picture frame that did not belong to the home owner. I ran them through the system and found they matched the defendant’s fingerprints.

He was in the system because he is an attorney and he had to be fingerprinted to be admitted to the state bar.

There was a Jonas Brother’s poster in the picture frame.

There were muddy footprints all through the house. They were the same size as the defendants shoe size.

The house was painted a nice shade of sage green inside.

Suspect Joe’s best friend Bob

Bob please read the following statements pausing between each paragraph.

Joe is my best friend. He is a nice guy and very honest. I have known Joe for 10 years.

Joe wore jeans and a tee shirt the day of the alleged break in.

Joe’s favorite color is green.

Joe knows Natalie. We had been to her house for a party.

Joe loves the Jonas Brothers. He has several posters of them.

Joe also loves Miley Cirus. He has lots of Hannah Montana posters too.

Joe asked me if he could borrow my crowbar the night before the incident.

Joe is allergic to peanuts.

Joe drives a Honda Civic.

Joe took work off the day of the incident. I know because I saw him at McDonald’s that morning and he told me he was going to go spend the day with his mother in the hospital.

Joe loves his mother.

Good. Now you know what makes a strong legal testimony. Let’s look at how this relates to our spiritual testimonies.

In legal testimonies we testify of things we have first hand knowledge of – things we have learned using our senses. In our spiritual testimonies we also testify of thing we have first hand knowledge of. But often our knowledge comes from something other than the 5 senses. Most often our knowledge comes from feelings we feel given to us by the Holy Ghost.

We can know it is freezing outside because we can scientifically prove it. But we can also know that we love our mother or that our mother loves us because we can feel it in our hearts and see the effects of it in our lives. So we can know the truth of spiritual things as we feel the witness of the Holy Ghost in our hearts.

Just as there are rules to what is admissible in a courtroom as evidence, there are parameters for what is and isn’t a testimony in church. Testimonies at church should be statements of firsthand knowledge that tend to prove the truthfulness of the gospel, it principles and doctrines.

As Elder Oaks said in the May 2008, “A testimony of the gospel is a personal witness borne to our souls by the Holy Ghost that certain facts of eternal significance are true and that we know them to be true. Such facts include the nature of the Godhead and our relationship to its three members, the effectiveness of the Atonement, and the reality of the Restoration.
A testimony of the gospel is not a travelogue, a health log, or an expression of love for family members. It is not a sermon.”

Let’s apply the rules of evidence to some church “testimony” statements and see which are really “testimony” and which are not.

I am thankful for my friends. They really help me to choose the right.

I love the Book of Mormon. I know when I am reading my scriptures every morning, I feel the Spirit helping me to choose the right throughout the day.

I know the Joseph Smith really saw Heavenly Father and Jesus in the sacred grove because I feel so peaceful in my heart every time I hear or read his account of that experience in the Joesph Smith History.

My Family went on a Church History trip last summer and we had a really great time and I learned a lot about what the early pioneers went through.

I love my mom and dad.

I just got back from EFY and I learned that there really is some cool church music and we should be listening to more of that and be more careful about the music we listen to everyday.

I know God lives because everything in me tells me that He is there and that He is my Father. I can feel His love for me when I am lonely.

I know Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. I feel the Spirit confirming this to my heart when I hear him speak in conference.

I know when we pay our tithing the Lord takes care of us. I once had to choose between paying my tithing and paying my rent and I chose to put the Lord first and pay my tithing. I thought I was going to be evicted. But then my friend dropped off a check to me in the exact amount of my rent and reminded me I had lent him money 5 years ago and he could just now pay be back.

I know the priesthood power is true because I have been healed by its power.

I know our bishop is called of and inspired by God because he has known just when I needed to talk or just which calling would be best for me.

The other day I had a friend ask me about church in my English class and we were able to talk about the gospel and it was really cool.

I am thankful for my teachers at church because I know they love me and they do a really good job.

I know the Book of Mormon is true because I have read it and prayed about it and I felt peaceful and right and warm. I know that was the Holy Ghost telling me it is true.

I love to come to church on Sundays and see all my friends and I love it when my teachers bring treats.

I know the Jesus is the Savior. I have felt his forgiveness in my life when I have turned to Him.

Last week I had a really tough week and I didn’t really want to talk to anyway so I went in my room and then my mom came in and talked to me it made me feel better so I am really thankful that God made mothers to help us when we have bad days.

I know the Savior Lives. I know it because I feel it is true when I say it.

Great job at finding the relevant testimony. Now in court witnesses are sworn to tell the truth as they are under oath. We similarly end our testimonies “in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen” when we are bearing them in church.

Now you know more about what a testimony is. Let me just share a few points on gaining your own.

First we must have a desire to know. Then we must follow the pattern laid out in Matthew 7:7.

Ask, and it shall be bgiven you; cseek, and ye shall find; dknock, and it shall be opened unto you:  Matthew 7:7

We pray and ask with real intent.
We seek and study and learn all we can about it
Then we go and DO – we Knock. We try it out.

One of the easiest ways for me to know if something is true is to say it out loud. I have a very sensitive internal lie detector. If I say something untrue it feel different to me. I would never be able to fool a polygraph. But when I bear my testimony I do not feel that feeling that I am saying untrue things.

Elder Oaks confirmed that this is a valid way to find a testimony. “We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it. Someone even suggested that some testimonies are better gained on the feet bearing them than on the knees praying for them.”

Some of you may not yet “know” that gospel or its principles are true. But you may believe. So if you believe you should say “I believe” when you bear your testimony. Then as you say it you may come to feel the truth of that statement in your heart more and eventually you will be able to say “I know.”

Now we are going to take some time to write a couple points of our testimonies down. Please take a piece of paper and a pen and write down 2 or 3 things you KNOW that are relevant to the gospel and its principles and how you KNOW them. If you don’t have things you KNOW for yourself yet, then write down 2 or 3 things you Believe and why you believe them. Do not write your name on the paper. These will all be anonymous.

I will turn on some church music to set the tone and I want each of you to find your own spot to write. You will have 5 – 7 minutes. When you are done come put your paper face down here on the table. You can then grab your blanket and head outside by the fire.

After everyone is done we go outside and I read everyones testimonies with a flashlight by the fire.

We have done this outside so you could be under the stars. Each star is such a small piece of light in the sky. They are like a single spark. They are small in the big picture.

An attorney will similarly call many witnesses with little bits of information. Some witnesses will only be called to say someone who has testified is an honest person. Others will have more sure facts about a case. But all the information together helps the jury to come to KNOW beyond a reasonable doubt whether to convict or acquit.

Your testimonies may be just small sparks of belief or knowledge of truth at this point. But if you foster these sparks and keep them alive and add to them by asking, seeking, and doing to gain more knowledge you can build a burning fire of a testimony in your heart similar to the one here tonight.

May I bear my testimony to you that I do have a testimony and I know the importance of KNOWing for yourself. I was about your age when I got my testimony so I know many of you are in that process of finding out for yourselves. And it is good to believe on others testimonies until you know for yourself. But someday you will need to know for yourself. I count my testimony as one of my most treasured possessions. It has borne me up through some very difficult times. It has been the rod of iron that I have clung to and used to pull myself up when I didn’t think I could ever stand again. I pray that each of you will seek your own testimony and foster it into a burning flame so that when the cold times of life come your way it can warm you through those times. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.