Category Archives: church

Why I Don’t Play On Sunday

Let me set the scene.

On Saturday morning my one and only son, Nelson, played in a basketball game that kicked off a tournament.  Single elimination.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love sports?  Well.  My heart beats at a quicker pace when I watch any of my children play; we are connected out there against the competition.  His basket is mine, her shot is my near-miss.  Their victory validates me (a little too much) and their defeat makes me pull my hair. I take great pleasure (and way too much pride) in their athleticism, but also take it personally when they fall short.  Yes, mama needs to get a grip.  But all I can say is, sports are a great joy to me. I’m always pushing those sweet things to try sports I never played, to practice their soccer moves, and for heaven’s sake, hydrate.

 

Let us pause here a moment.

 

We thought we knew what Daddy did on Saturday until I received this picture from a person who shall remain in protective custody.  Daddy says he’s coaching basketball when he’s gone to faraway places…but really…he’s playing Starsky and Hutch dress-up?

Let’s not go there today.  It’s Sunday.

 

So.  While driving Nelson to his basketball tournament on Saturday, we had a little pep talk about heart and soul.  Of being aggressive and smart and yeah, be a good sport, too.  He made his mama proud and played his heart out on the basketball court.  His defense was at its best.  His offense was at its peak.  At 11-years-old, he lives for a basket; it can make or break his mood for hours after.  Me?  I want to win, but I get over it quickly.  I’m finally maturing enough to see how FUN it is just to play.  How FUN it is to turn without your knees hurting.

Saturday he dribbled, passed, and shot.  Though none of his shots were going in, he was my hero; I saw the heart and soul.

His team was ahead and the clock was counting down and my Nellie had the ball, five, four…”Shoot the ball” the crowd cried.  “Go, Nelson!”  My hands clenched, I stopped breathing though my heart pounded.  His team didn’t need him to score, but I prayed, please God, please let this shot go in for my Nellie…please…he neeeeeds this!

Three, two…He went up for the shot but was blocked.  “Shoot the ball!” the crowd cried again.  One.. He went right, dribble step, and let the ball fly while getting hit in the face.  The ball soared through the air as the buzzer went off.  And then it swished through the net for a 2-pointer.

I almost cried.

The shot didn’t win the game, but it won my son.  Knees skinned, shins bruised, face clawed, he was exultant.  And need you ask?  So was I.

The team advanced to the next round, which was held the next day.  And even though I was prepared, my heart sank a bit.  The next day was Sunday.  His whole team would advance to the championship games together.  Without Nelson.  Without me in the stands – and who wouldn’t be sad about that??

Picture taking, bonding, rough housing, high fives.  Perhaps a few would ask, “Where’s Nelson?  Oh yeah, it’s Sunday.”  Some think it’s weird, some think it’s dumb, some even think it selfish to let a team down after practicing and competing together for three months and we can’t be there “just because it’s Sunday.”

I have wanted to write this post for a long time, but I always got stuck, worried about offending.  Let me say, I’d be horrified to come across as self-righteous.  That is not my intention, friends.  I’m just going to explain my “Why.”

As a Christian I interpret “Thou shalt keep the Sabbath day holy” as a day that I should keep the Sabbath day holy.  What does that mean to me?  Sunday is a day we go to church as a family.  We don’t watch the Disney Channel or play with friends (and that’s easy because none live on our road.)  We don’t go to restaurants or out for ice-cream or to movie theaters because that would mean we are making someone else work.  And it kills me sometimes, but it also means no basketball tournaments.

It also means I’ll never run the New York City Marathon even if I qualify or win the running lottery.  I’ll never run the Covered Bridges Half-Marathon in Vermont – something I’m supposed to do as a New England runner.  Marine Corps marathon?  Nope.  Dallas?  Pittsburgh?  Well, I’ve never wanted to go there anyway.  It means a lot for the future, as so many thing are now being scheduled for Sunday.

            Some “no’s” are harder than others, but in this case it’s easier to be all or nothing.  If I run one race on Sunday, why not another?  If we go to one birthday party, then why not the next?  If anything, I’m trying to be consistent.  I can’t be the hypocrite.  I just want to do the right thing and not have my kids wonder what crazy mama is going to change her mind about next.

            It’s not something I ever agonized over; it’s just something we always did.  I suspected for a long time it was because my mother liked napping so much.  And the Sabbath is the day of rest.  Bingo!  I get it now! If there is anything that is more appealing than sleep to a woman with children, well, I’d like to hear it.  Sorry, honey.  And anyway, if the Lord himself needed to rest on the seventh day, then why can’t I?

            When I was a kid our church was located right next to the swimming pool we belonged too.  We swam there everyday except on Sundays.  On hot summer days my dad would drive past that beautiful blue pool, us kids shoved in the back seat of the olive green station wagon that never had air-conditioning and say wistfully, “Look at all those sinners having a terrible time.”  Meanwhile my best friend would be canon-balling off the diving board and shrieking with glee.  They sure looked like they were having a terrible time.  We’d sulk and scowl and my dad would laugh his head off.  I guess I’ve continued the tradition of torturing my children, too.

 

            In college it occurred to me that I didn’t have to go to church.  I didn’t have to keep anything holy!  I could sleep.  I could skip.  I could hop on the back of that motorcycle and drive to Tennessee.  Yee-haw, I miss those Idaho days!  But the guilt complex was too much for me.  And anyway, I like my naps, remember?  These days, I rarely get a Sunday nap.  I’m busy being mama or getting a lesson ready.

 

My ma or pa aren’t here to tell me not to go swimming on the Sabbath.  My husband and I had to decide a long time ago what family life was going to look like on the Sabbath.  And we had to think:  Why?  Why doest it matter at all?

 

Why I don’t play.

 

1.  Physical regeneration.  I’m exhausted by Sunday.  I need the Sabbath to get rested for the onslaught of the coming week.  I give the world six of my days.  Can’t I just give the Lord, one?  “Come unto me, all ye heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  I need that rest.

 

2.  Spiritual growth.  I don’t think you need to go to church to feel the Lord’s spirit, but it is a very rare Sunday that I wish I had stayed home after I go.  I always leave with a better feeling than when I arrived.  I need it.  I crave it.  I need to remember who I am and what my purpose in life is.  A prayer, a scripture, a thought…it all helps me, especially when I’m surrounded by people who believe the same.  Their spirits feed mine.

 

3.  Obedience.  The way I keep the Sabbath day holy is my personal interpretation of how I love God on that day.  Heaven forbid that church becomes drive-through church, where I enter and leave unchanged.  I can’t be a brat to my neighbor and completely unchrist-like the rest of the week.  No, the Sabbath sets the stage for the rest of the week.  The way I keep the Sabbath day holy is my outward manifestation of my inner commitment to God.

 “Your neighbor’s vision is as true for him as your own vision is true for you.”

– Miguel de Unamuno. 

And whatever your vision, I respect that.  Each of us must decide what we stand for and then do that thing.

There are conflicts.  Because we don’t have gas stations just around the corner, and because I don’t plan well, sometimes I have to fill the gas tank.  I don’t like that. Sometimes my husband has to work on Sundays because he works at a boarding school and students need him.  Sometimes he can’t go to church with us.  When we lived on campus we went to church and then came home to be dorm parents to twelve teenage boys.  It was our job.  But it was still the Sabbath and the boys knew it.  Some would ask who that picture of Jesus was and why we went to church.  Once a student said to me, “I’ve heard of Moses – wasn’t he a really great actor?”  I always thought that very funny.  And a little sad, too.

            A woman I recently interviewed is a printmaker named J.Ann Eldridge.  Her light is strong.  You can tell by the thoughtful way she speaks that she means to do live with purpose.  She is not of my faith and I have no idea what she does on Sundays.  One of her prints is entitled, “My Religion Has Something to Do With Compost.”  The earth is her greatest passion and she takes care of it, recognizing its gift.  I find that holy.

            Once, when we were at church it was announced from the pulpit that a member of the congregation was having a water issue at their farm.  It was a dire situation and they needed help immediately.  The service was cancelled so we could go home and change and go to the farm with our shovels and trowels.  I’ll never forget my dear friend telling me how much it meant for her, as she sat in the middle of her farm, worried that all was lost, to see her church friends show up with shovels, food, and ready to work.  The farm was saved by brothers and sisters working side by side.  That’s holy.

            The Sabbath was meant for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

-Mark 2:27

            I have to admit, I had a moment of wavering yesterday.  As I drove my son home, I thought of how badly I wanted to be at that game.  How badly I wanted to see us win – surely we would!  How badly I wanted to see my son dribble and pass and play in the championship.  I looked over at my son and told him how awesome he was.  I even sang him a little Alecia Key’s, “This Nellie’s on fiiirre!”

“Man, it stinks that the game in on Sunday,” I said, whacking the steering wheel.

            “That’s why I played so hard,” he said.  “Because I knew it was probably my last game.”

            I wondered if it was unfair of me to make this decision for him.  After all, I hadn’t even asked if he wanted to play.  And he hadn’t asked either.  He hadn’t begged or cried or said one word about it.  And the game didn’t actually overlap with church.  He could play in the game and we could watch him as a family.  Then, as a family we could drive to church together.

            “What do you think, buddy?” I asked.  “Do you want to play?”  What would I do if he said yes? I wondered.  I think I would have to take him.  Perhaps it could be just this one time and we wouldn’t do it again because it really wasn’t what felt right to us.  But as I looked at him, I knew he had to make the decision for himself.

            He shrugged.  “Well, it just wouldn’t work,” he said.  “It’s Sunday.”  True that.  Thank you, son, I thought.  For helping me be strong.  For saying no when mama almost wanted you to say yes.  But not really.

Killer, how badly I wanted to go to that game.

As I recounted my son’s buzzer-boy-basket to his dad this morning I was animated and lively.  “I probably care more than Nelson does!” I said, looking at the clock.  It was one hour before game time.  Nelson put his arm around my shoulder and said, “That’s probably true.”

 

            So we didn’t go.  In-between hair-combing and picking out the church dresses and gathering our Sunday stuff, I checked my phone anxiously as a friend sent texts of the play-by-play nail-biter.  They lost by 8.

 

Would I do it any differently?  Nah.  We drank smoothies for breakfast, dressed for church, squabbled in the car, heard two of the best talks I’ve heard this year, and drove home together with less squabbling because we were all feeling the spirit a little better and a little louder.  And then we had dinner, a short family night and played Pounce and ate Thin Mints for dessert.  As a family.  I guess it’s just the way we roll.

 

I often wonder, if I died tomorrow and found out everything I ever thought was true, wasn’t, would it have been worth it?  Would I be mad I missed the tournament?  I’ve decided not.

 

The Sabbath day has served me well and so I do with that as I will, and keep it the best I know how.  How, I wonder, do you do it differently?

 

Here’s something I believe with all my heart:  We are all brothers and sisters made in the image of the same God who loves us all.  We are here to learn how to be happy, but we must all find out how to do that for ourselves.  I’ve felt the power of God and his spirit.  It is very real to me.  My adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ might set me apart from the world, but it’s also the one thing that unites us all.  I know I am a child of God and I also know that so is everyone else.

 

It was on the Sabbath day and at the feet of my mother and father that I truly learned that.  I was also taught to honor God.  In return, God would honor me.  He hasn’t let me down yet.

 

So tomorrow is Monday.  And then I shall play.

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A Young Woman With a Capital "C"

This summer the big C turned 12.  That meant she graduated from Primary, where all the kids are, ages 3-12 during church.  It’s where I’ve been for years, with my sweet babes around me, all four kids together.  But in January, when I looked around, my oldest wasn’t there.  It happened!  She moved on without me.  How rude.
She didn’t think it was rude, oh no, Cope was soooooo excited.  I admit, although she wasn’t in the same room with me, I was feeling so lucky that she had entered a program I have complete faith in.  Ms. Cope is a “Young Woman.”  She has new leaders that swooped in and carried her off into this wonderful world of goals, personal progress, and summer camp.  I’m also hoping they reinforce my latest mantra (passed on from my father):  Boy are bad.  We’ll see.  They are going to play a big part of her life in the next few years.
Her leaders had a party just for Cope, to help her feel welcome.  To her, they just about walk on water.
And if there’s Friendly’s Forbidden Chocolate, you can bet I’m in on the action.

Cope is the first of a slew of girls entering the program.  She feels quite mature, quite ready to lead and pave the way for the younger girls.

She got her Young Women’s Booklet and was hopping up and down, ready to finish it in one day, even though it’s a book to work on until she’s 18, when she graduates from the program.  In this Young Women’s booklet are goals to work on.  They are all spiritual in nature.  
When I finished the program many years ago, I yelped, “Yea!  No more goals!”  and my teacher was so appalled, “What do you mean?  You’re just starting,” she implored.  Poor dear.  She thought she had failed.  But I was serious.  I was done with goals.
Ha. She was right, it was just the start of many many goals to be made in life.  She had prepared me well.
The Young Women’s Program has 8 values:
Faith
Divine Nature
Individual Worth
Knowledge
Choice and Accountability
Good Works
Integrity
Virtue

I see a lot of kids on a daily basis.  My eyes light up with excited 3-year-olds, I empathize with disillusioned 15-year-olds.  I talk with confident 16-year-olds, and my heart hurts when an 8-year-old has a life that is already too hard.  I want to say, Don’t you know who you are?  Let me tell you about your divine nature!
In this house, we are on the verge of high school, on the verge of great decisions.  Who doesn’t want their child to be everything they can be?
Tonight, Cope wanted to pass off one of her goals, so she taught a lesson to her family.  We tried to sit very still and listen and not poke each other, stick out tongues, or laugh out loud.  Her lesson was on Faith.  I watched her read and teach.  I saw her hesitate, stumble over what exactly she wanted to say, then come confidently to the finish. I saw the way her eyes searched for meaning, they way her brain reached conclusions based on knowledge, prayer, and personal experience.  
I was reminded that children don’t stay small for long, they grow and can become something really really great.  Proud of you, Big C.
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He Returns

Valentine’s was extra special this year:  Elder Ian Makechnie, Gregor’s youngest brother returned home from serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He was sent to the Denver Colorado mission.  We “heart attacked” the house and Brynne put a special heart on the door for her beloved uncle:

My idea of a “special” Valentine breakfast.  Easy 🙂

As you can imagine, we created quite the scene.  Our bishop and his family were at the airport as well. There aren’t a whole lot of things that can top waiting in the airport for a missionary to come walking on home.  I still remember the way I felt when my twin brother came home after serving for two years in Idaho.  

He returns with honor.

The cousins were beside themselves.  And see that good-looking guy on the right?  Victor, one of “our boys” who graduated from Proctor in 2005 is working at the airport.  He wants to work air traffic control.  It was awesome to have him there.

I always get emotional at missionary homecomings, but I held it together very well.  Until Ian went to his mother…

And then his father

Brothers gotta hug

Nelson is so happy to have another man around. 

The girls happily carry the baggage:  one bag and one small suitcase.  A missionary travels light.

We went out to eat at the Airport Diner, arriving at 9:30p.m.  Yep, the kids are a wreck two days later but it was worth it.  Here Paige is Ariel and combing her hair with a dinglehopper.

Heather said that the next morning Ian said, “Now mom, you are not to do any of my laundry,” and then he went right to Proctor to get a job for a month before heading back to BYU-I.  At least we get him for a month.  We get to hear Ian speak on Sunday except that I get to go first!  I am honored to be on the stand with this good boy.
Welcome home Ian.  We’re so proud of you.
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Sunday Interviews and a New Sunbeam

Awhile ago I blogged about starting interviews with my kids.  Since they were babies I’ve had a notebook that I try to write in at least a couple times a year.  I used that notebook, and for each child wrote:  Physical, Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, and Social (though, what’s the difference between mental and emotional?) Largely inspired by Shawni‘s stories of her parents, The Eyres.  
Then, the 1st Sunday of January I asked each one separately to come into my closet (the one Paige slept in) by themselves and talk withe me.  I couldn’t believe how excited each of them was – the feeling special, singled out, one-on-one time with mom?  Brynne was hopping up and down waiting her turn.  It was so funny at how different their responses were.  “Fine.” “Fine.” “Fine” versus full paragraphs. (Hmmm…boys vs. girls). 
My goal:  Do this once a month.  1st Sunday of the month is good.  Must not be a slacker.  It’s very interesting what you find out about your children when you actually sit down and no one can escape and there are no other distractions.  I wasn’t running around saying “uh-huh, uh-huh” and not really listening.  

More exciting news is that Paige became a “Sunbeam!”  Yea!  Sob!  At church, when kids turn 18 months old they go to nursery.  When they turn 3 they get to go to primary (for all the kids 3-11) but it starts every January.  So, this January our baby Paige started a new chapter in her life.  Now, all of my kids are in primary with me!  If we could only get Gregor teaching primary too…but he’s with those old men.  As you can see, Paige was feeling a little shy about the whole thing.
But by the end of church?

We had a very happy sunbeam! (I would not have put this picture of myself but Paige’s face was so funny).

She has cried a few times sitting on her chair while I’m running around getting things organized and trying to conduct, but we’re all adjusting.  Her teachers are just fabulous – I am thankful!  They always say, “Go away, she’s much better without you.” I suppose we are all constantly adjusting. 
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Nelson is Baptized

Nelson turned 8 in April, but was baptized Memorial Day weekend so family could attend.  What a great time!

Nelson receives his own set of scriptures from his grandparents – with his own name engraved on the cover

The boys.  
Uncle David, Uncle Peter, Gregor, and Grandpa Steve.  Uncle Brendaen and Grandpa Art joined us later.

Nelson was baptized by his father

Posing with the parents

The fam

Ah ma…

Brothers – 9 years apart.  David comes for the road trip:  Moving Peter and Allison to Brooklyn NY, Nelson’s baptism, and a 5k the next day.  Sounds like an adventure!  It was.

My boy

And the cousins – Chloe, Brynne, and Ella
We are proud of our boy and were so glad family could join us for a beautiful day.
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"The Future is Bright for Those With Faith"

This past weekend was conference.  I really enjoyed being at home with the family listening to the talks.  The older I get, the more I appreciate it, and really look forward to it.  Sunday morning was when the whole family actually sat down and quietly listened or colored.  The rest of the sessions weren’t as restful, but that day will someday come, right?  Usually there are a few talks that just hit me very strongly.  This time I was especially touched by the music.  This time, instead of the talks, I was most affected by a strong to connection to our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson.

It seems to crazy to most the world that there are people that actually believe there is a prophet of God.  I would probably think it’s crazy too had I not experienced it myself.
I have really missed President Hinkley.  He was the prophet when I was at Rick’s College, then BYU, then as a young mother.  I grew to love him.  He saw me through a lot.  
And although I knew President Monson was the man called of God, it took me a little while to feel that same love and affection.  But when he was speaking this time, that feeling came.

Yesterday was a really hard day – the basement flooded, and I had do fix it fast, and by myself.  I had to stop the water that was already up to my ankles, and children who needed me, and the granola was in the oven and had to be stirred every 10 minutes!  I was also so tired – and then I’m emotional and question my mothering, my writing, my strength & conditioning job, everything that I’m doing, but don’t feel I’m doing great.  Just okay.  Just average.  

But then it comes like it always does; I know there is a book I need to open, to give me peace and show me the next step.  “Doubt is not from God,” came the words, right from a conference talk.  President Monson is part of that.  Just hearing him speak and knowing he is there, leading me.  And I  know that tomorrow everything will be better.  Preach on, Brother.
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