Monday, April 16, 2012

A FHE of Titanic Proportions

The Mister and I switch off teaching the lesson for Family Night each week. Since we've been watching the miniseries Titanic (created by the makers of Downton Abbey) the past few nights, I thought it would be appropriate to liken some Titanic lessons to our lives. (Personal admission: I am absolutely fascinated by Titanic history. But that's a post for another day...)

We took the kids to see the Titanic exhibit when it came here to the museum. It was fascinating. (At least to me, anyway. The Mister... not so much.) I bought a replica of the 1st Class china dinner plate.

When you enter the exhibit, the docent hands each patron a passenger ticket, complete with the identity information and general life facts of one of the real-life passengers. You don't know if you survived or not until the end of the exhibit, at which point they have a 'survivor wall'. Pretty poignant experience, actually. As a side note, they also have a large ice stone for patrons to touch and experience some of the frigid temperatures that fateful night 100 years ago...

For tonight's lesson, I held up the plate and gave each child their passenger ticket that I had saved. My dialogue went something like this:

"Do you guys remember when the Titanic exhibit came to town a couple of years ago?"

*Affirming nods* Good, we're getting somewhere. Leaving Northampton, at least...

"I remember feeling anxious to find out if my passenger survived the tragedy. Secondly, I was anxious to see if any of my loved ones/traveling companions survived.

"Well, Dad and I can kinda relate that to the earnest desire we have as we hope to be reunited with each of you in the hereafter someday. Before we talk about that, who knows some of the reasons the Titanic failed?"

(Josh is all over this one... he's somewhat of a juvenile expert on the history. He chose to do his non-fiction book report on it. That's my boy.)

*Not having sufficient amount of life boats to accommodate the passengers

*The Captain giving orders to push the ship to it's maximum speed in order to reach New York faster than expected

*The Captain and his crew disregarded 6 ice warnings prior to the collision

*Some of the life boats were lowered into the water before reaching their maximum capacity load

As you can see, there are a number of Gospel parallels that can be made to the disaster. To keep things simple, we discussed some of the 'icebergs' or obstacles that would prevent us from reaching dry land in our lives. Bottom line: anything that would keep us from being temple worthy can destroy our spiritual survival. (We talked about pornography, dishonesty, drugs, etc.)

Afterwards, we sang "Families Can Be Together Forever", ate apple crisp and finished the final episode in the miniseries I mentioned above.

Incidentally, I would love to see the new Broadway musical, Titanic which is being staged by a regional theater company in Davis, CA. It served it's audience an 11-course feast replicating the 1st Class dining on the ship. Another personal admission: I am deathly afraid of large bodies of water. I never NEVER desire to step aboard a cruise ship in my lifetime. Titanic is my worst nightmare. But dang, I can teach a mean family home evening lesson on the ill-fated expedition.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Birthday Games

Today my 10-year old is having her 'Friend' Birthday party... In researching games for the big day, I came across an awesome website with fun, inexpensive games for all age levels. They were games I had never heard of, so it will be fresh fun for all:) Check it out here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Heartache and Life Lessons

I have two brothers and one sister. I have this memory of hearing my baby sister wake up from a nap. I was 5 years old. As I entered her room, I saw the late afternoon sun seeping through the white wooden shutters in her bedroom. She held her chubby baby arms up at me, hopeful that I would pick her up. How could I not love my baby sister for the rest of her life, no matter what?

This past month has been emotionally draining for me. My sister admitted herself into an inpatient drug rehab clinic. She spent a hellish week in Detox, and then the next few weeks were spent learning skills to help her function without drugs, and a healing process began. I can't even imagine what Detox in particular, felt like. My mind knew that it was a consequence for her choices, but it was hard to hold back my tears as I heard her anguish and loneliness-- extreme physical and emotional discomfort. Our family has been fasting and praying, writing her letters and making daily allotted 10-minute phone calls to her. (My personal favorite was the letter I wrote her on Napoleon Dynamite stationery. Hand writing letters is a lost art, after all.) She has been battling this addiction for a few years, with it's accompanying roller coaster of sobriety and relapses.

Her clinic had a Family Week last week for family members who are willing to participate in addiction/codependence therapy, and all that accompanies that vicious cycle. I joked with my sister, "I'll only come if they have a big colorful banner that reads, 'WELCOME, DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES!' with helium balloons and cafeteria fish filet sandwiches." Unfortunately (or unfortunately?) our family had plans during spring break, so I wasn't able to accompany my parents to the clinic. And about those dang gas prices...

The Mister has one brother who has also lost his way. Sure, I'm mad as hell when I remember the lying, stealing and proverbial addict-junkie behaviors my sister engaged in. However, JP and I talk often about our sorrow and love for our siblings. And that's not who my sister really is. That's the Addict Sister. The Authentic Sister is inside underneath all that angry, lonely garbage. She is truly one of the coolest chicks I know. Will our siblings ever come back to the values they learned in this life? Maybe. Hopefully. I wish it were as easy as reaching down and picking up my baby sister out of her crib.

If only they would quit loving things that won't love them back. "... and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell." (Alma 30:60)

And because the tomb is empty, my life is not. Jesus Christ is the only true hope any of us has of finding purpose and peace in this life or the next. The Only Way.

So tonight, as I rocked my insomniac 5-year old baby, I stroked her cheeks and thought to myself, "What will you need rescuing from in your life?" "Mama, sing 'My Life is a Gift, my life has a plan, my life has a purpose...' and as I did, I pleaded with God to keep her safe and pure...

Forgive me, my dear friends and family who may be reading my late night purging, for I am sorrowful, and writing brings me clarity. And I am hopeful because tomorrow I will see my sister for the first time since rehab. And she will be sober. My heart is heavy, yet thankful.

"Real character is formed in the midst of the battles of the soul. Christ offered peace, not in the sense of freedom from disturbance, but in the midst of disturbance. When he said, "Peace be still," it was in the midst of a storm. We need to develop within ourselves the kind of self control that will enable us in the midst of disturbance to find the peace that comes into the soul of a man who is living as he knows he should live." ~ Hugh B. Brown