Friday, February 27, 2015

in our midst

We've had the chance to host seminary for 20+ kids at our home for the last 4 months.  They started meeting in the front room.  The couch and arm chairs from that room found new homes in the dining room and bedrooms.  Last week 3 more students joined the class so now we've switched things around and put the couches, all of them, into the front room.  Now the seminary chairs hang out in our big room.  I had pictures of this but something was going on with iPhoto so I'll have to take some more.

The kids mostly leave the chairs alone.  They just lay down between the rows to watch movies, or play on the computer.  It's an interesting moment in our home decor.  I'm glad we've been blessed with this home, with large spaces and a high tolerance to have 20+ chairs set up in rows.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

More advice for younger people

There is a young woman in our ward that started bringing a boy to church back when she was 14.  Of course they weren't dating back then...  But he's been coming to church with their family for 3 years, dating the girl for the last year and a half.  He's 19 and planning to get baptized soon.  Are they going to get married?   Did they know at 14 and 15 that this was the 1 person they wanted to ever date and be with forever?  And if they don't get married will that ruin his relationship with the church?  What if she doesn't want to marry him but doesn't want him to leave the church?  They don't have the luxury of dating other people or even waiting until they have experienced several years of independent living because someone they already like, a lot, is before them and temptations are strong.

We don't want our children to date until they are at college.  On the one hand that means we won't be around to screen their companions or whatever.  But it also means they will have a lot more years of watching the fallout of teen relationships to give them perspective.

The older I get the more I'm amazed that I didn't marry a bum.  I had no clue how to watch out for all sorts of behaviors that crash marriages.  Even now I don't know what those behaviors are.  I'm pretty malleable though.  So if someone interested in being financially irresponsible asked me to marry them, I'd probably just be like "OK, let's get a credit card!"  That being said, I'd probably have had fun going into debt...

So I don't think it's a good idea to date or marry a non-member.  Sure there are a lot of stories of how a spouse was later converted.  Or how people get divorced even when they were married in the temple.  But when you marry someone that doesn't already share your priorities in religion, it seems that you're setting yourself up for some pretty big arguments down the road.  Also, you deserve to marry someone awesome in the temple.  So the temptation to feel like that person is holding you back, rather than both giving their all, is not healthy.  You can't marry someone you hope to change.  It'd be like buying shoes that don't fit you and hoping that will work out somehow.  Maybe you can still wear them, but can you run a marathon in them?

All this being judgmentally said, I know not everyone has a chance to date someone awesome that shares their faith.  I just feel sad about this situation of the girl in our ward.  It's like an arranged marriage, for all the choice they have, because they made a choice when they were really young.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Advice for young people

Marriage is awesome.  Don't play around with relationships that last years but don't move toward marriage.  And for goodness sake don't move in together and play house.  You deserve an eternal relationship and you don't get there by "giving it a go" or "trying things out".  You've got to find the best person you possibly can, and that might take a long time.  And you've got to both be committed to eternity. 

Also, be mindful of the flexibility of male and female roles.  Sometimes the wife will support the family.  Sometimes the husband will support the family.  It's not uncommon for both to be working, especially in the beginning of a marriage.  Both need to be helping with the house, cooking and chores.  That way everyone understands the value of each contribution.

Many young enthusiastic wives juggles all the roles of student, worker, and housemaker.  Sometimes they do all this even while the husband is just a student, or between school and work, aka unemployed.  That man is not going to appreciate the work it takes to raise children and will assume his wife, that used to "work" is now just hanging out all day.  Women, don't let your husbands grow up to be 13 year olds!

This was the pattern of the first 3 years of our marriage.  Even with the marriage prep class and the couples seminars we attended, I didn't know to ask him to do more.   I felt like it was my job to do it all.  I lucked out with a husband that does value the difficulty of raising children (thank you mother in law!).  We made it past those years.  We made it to the stage of us fulfilling traditional roles and supporting one another in those roles.  I wish we'd known to demand more of ourselves in the beginning. 

Marriage is awesome, and it is work.  It doesn't just turn out fine by luck.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Song Books

I'm the Primary President of our ward.  I wanted the children to have the words to the songs we sing so they have a chance at learning the lyrics more reliably than weekly.  So I made a set of documents that could be printed as photos and put into a cheap photo album.  The children got the books last week loaded with the January song and 5 songs like "The books of the Old Testament" that are very word heavy.  This year we're singing "Follow the Prophet" and I wanted them to be able to do all 9 verses.  But we don't give them the words until they've spent a month looking at the visuals and learning the song somewhat by rote.

In my house this has so far exceeded my wildest expectations.  On Monday lP was in charge of the song.  She chose the song from January and instructed the other children to go get their books.  Tonight lP had hers out and was studying the words to "I know that my Savior Loves Me".  She's at that point where she doesn't really read, but words can prompt her memory.  Then M and G got theirs out and started singing the songs that are really lists.  I love it!

So if none of the other kids enjoy it as much as mine do, that's fine.  Mine are enjoying them a lot.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

let it go

This is a nice poster I made for G to sell camp cards.  He sold 100!  So that's great because it means the pack has plenty of money for camp and activities.  I had a lot of fun making the poster.

Today I left some FB forums that I always find myself fighting in.  I also threw away socks that are not comfortable.  What an extravagant life!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The deaf shall hear

I have a friend that loves a good discussion.  One topic that we've talked about several times is deafness and Cochlear Implants.  She likes to say "Well what about the scriptures that say the deaf will hear?"   She is a former dancer and currently can't dance because of severe health issues.   So her perspective that deafness is a wrong that would be made right is understandable since she has lost considerable abilities and feels the loss keenly.

She's not actually as anti-deaf as this recurring discussion would paint her to be.  Her family is the only one in the ward that has crossed the road from "I wish I could sign" to actually being able to function as an interpreter in a pinch.  And they also converse casually with deaf members. 

My perspective in this discussion is personal.  Our family chose to have our deaf son implanted when he was 4 but didn't get medicaid funding until he was 5.  We also have signed with him since he was diagnosed with a moderate loss at 1.  We are extremely unique in our embracing of the sign and the CI.  Before moving to have our son attend the school for the deaf, we lived in a town where everyone else had their children implanted and none of the families sign.  True, we only knew 10 families, but none of them signed fluently.  All 4 families in my son's age range chose to have their children bi-laterally implanted.  This 4 to 1 ratio caused the district to create an oral program for those children that our son could not participate in.  Ironically our son was left to attend an ESE classroom with an interpreter, but no signing peers.  Eventually moved to places with strong oral programs.  One family was even a member of our faith, but not in our congregation.  We had so much in common, but could not be friends because we actually had nothing in common.  So I know that when people choose oralism, it does in fact result in the isolation of deaf people. 

The point I want to make is that being deaf is not bad.  In the scriptures it is often classed with other maladies that we'd all be happy to be cured of, blindness, being lame and what not.  But think of all the other inabilities people suffer from and seem to get along just fine.  I personally can't dance.  I feel really embarrassed if I try.  And I feel even more embarrassed watching people dance.  I'm actually happy without dancing.   When you are not involved with a community, it is very easy to imagine the value of their association away.  I know people who can't sing, or sew.  Gasp! People find joy in many ways.  Some can't imagine being happy without sight, hearing, or walking.  I have a hard time imagining happiness in gun ownership or drinking alcohol.  In ancient times certain "limitations" were more visible.  Though it seems that even then, they knew about affluenza.  Note the case of the rich young man that wanted to go to heaven.  So.  Sad.

When you live in a town with no deaf community it is easy to think "Who would my child ever talk to if they signed?"  The answer is no one because there is no one to sign with in that town, especially if the family won't learn.  But when you live in a community with deaf people, you can more easily recognize that they aren't isolated.  It becomes more like "If I teach my child to speak Polish they will be able to talk to their grandparents".  If I teach my child a language ________ they will be able to participate in a community of people who also speak ________.  Whether it is Ebonics, Spanish, or Minecraft.  BTW, I don't let my kids play minecraft.  Sorry we can't be friends!

But let's return to that rich young man.  The moral of his story is that whatever you love more than God, keeps you from him.  Do Deaf people love their deafness more than God?  I doubt it.  Do ballroom dancers, in their skimpy costumes, love their dancing more than God?  Probably not.  Could it be possible that God loves them both in their abilities and inabilities that bring them joy?  I hope so.