Fancy Pants Executives

Today, Kyrie herself had a fancy pants meeting downtown.

When you are a toddler changing the world, but kind of worn out from a hard week of breathing drama, it’s a good deal to get a ride from Papa in the stroller… and even more exciting to ride the escalator for the first time!

If escalators were not exciting enough, we got to ride an elevator, too!

And we were not so sure about the elevator experience.

But there we were, in a fancy pants conference room, turning down coffee because she is a Mormon baby, so totally off the coffee these days.

Kyrie loved the view from the 12th floor, especially when she saw trains!  Choo-choo!

But we were there for business, and it was kind of scary.

Here’s what happened, quite unexpectedly, as best we can piece together (so some pieces may not be exactly untangled yet).

We wrote a book, Keeping Kyrie.

In the book, I may have perhaps mentioned that “the boss of medicaid” should try doing all his paperwork underwater and see how well he breathes.

Ahem.

I meant it, of course, in reference to the red tape and medicaid drama we had to fight to keep this little girl alive.

Crazy things happened, if you remember.  Like how we got life flighted to Cincinnati Children’s, and then SoonerCare said they wouldn’t pay for it because we had just been up there on vacation.  Or how they would pay for oxygen, but not the pulse-ox monitor stickers.  Or that time we had to contact the boss of CMS, who is the federal boss of state Medicaids (my terms, not their titles), just to get her back to Cincinnati to finish a surgery we needed them to do.  Or all those times they didn’t reimburse us for our Cincinnati trips because we refused to travel on Sunday because of our faith.  Or those times we paid out of pocket to take her to Utah because SoonerCare wouldn’t contract with the provider.

Those are just the big things.

That’s why I said that, and in frustration at the system, not for hating on an actual individual.

Except it turns out he is an actual individual, and friends of friends who are friends of his heard about our book.

Gulp.

That’s how we got invited to a fancy pants meeting with someone who knows that underwater boss of medicaid, and he wanted to discuss our concerns and what “countermeasures” there were to offer to help us.

I looked at the email cross-eyed, not feeling entirely safe.

The meeting was to be with a top medical attorney, and I am just a mom who wrote a book, so that felt scary.

We sent the email to our attorney, and talked to her about what had unfolded so quickly.

She said he did not seem to be representing the state, really might be in a position to help, and that it seemed legitimate to her.  She suggested we go if we felt comfortable, but not to sign anything (not even a non-disclosure notice), and to politely leave if anything at all made us uncomfortable.

So we went, not sure what we were getting into.

The guy was very nice, truly, and also has fostered and adopted.  We talked about his family and our family, and we told him Kyrie’s medical story and all we have been through.  We talked about SoonerCare, and what worked for us and what didn’t.

We told him about the big stories I just mentioned, and others – like how they wouldn’t get us a travel concentrator even when it wasn’t safe for us to be driving with eighty billion oxygen tanks in the backseat with the baby.  We told him how she has scars from burns under and on top of her big toes on both feet because of having to reuse the pulse ox stickers so many times they weren’t safe.  We talked about having to buy supplies on Amazon, having friends ship us donated supplies, and even trading supplies with a friend in India because there wasn’t any other way for us to get the baby what she needed.

We talked about SoonerCare bossing us around regarding which doctors we went to, which specialists were primary in her care whether it was right or not, and no one traching her for a year – and how despite her good days, medical cerebral palsy is preventable and should never have happened.  We talked about how much her good days cost her in other ways, and how she sleeps so much extra to make up for them, and what it’s like to resuscitate your baby in the middle of the aisle at stake conference.  We talked about her coding in church nursery, getting sent home from her fourth day of preschool, and how quickly her status can change because structurally everything is so positional and anytime she can breathe she is outgrowing that airway.

We talked about the impact on our lives as a family, about being separated for eight weeks while I was in Cincinnati the first time, and about how hard it was to have the children home all winter without outings or to travel to hospital trips just so we can stay together as a family.  We talked about how the community has helped us raise money, how we have used all our savings to keep her alive, and how we have no idea what happens next.

I even talked about how the medicaid budget cuts made my job impossible – unethical and even dangerous – and how it deleted the livelihoods of my colleagues.

We talked about how good services up front save money in the long-term, and how a trach would have prevented at least five of her hospitalizations they had to pay for in the last six months.

We talked about how good the doctors and nurse practitioners are, how medicaid won’t let them do their job, and how we don’t like being referred to bad doctors or to clinics that don’t have time to do their jobs.

Blargh.

We did point out the good things, too, though, like how they have covered so much, and we are grateful for that.  We also are totally in love with her case manager and nurse case manager for SoonerCare, who love her and are her biggest advocates and very responsive to me even via text.  All our battles have been easier since we got those ladies, but it was an advocate friend from another state who told us to ask for them.  Parents need to know they can ask for that kind of support.

We said it all.  I didn’t cry, though I thought I might.  He listened, attentively and kindly.  He was even patient when everytime he started to respond to us, my mind was flooded with more pieces that needed to come out.  I talked almost the whole time, and he was never rude about it.  Kyrie walked around the fancy office eating naan and drinking milk and spreading crumbs all over, and he just smiled at her and giggled and chatted with her in baby talk.

It felt safe.  It really did.  And he wants to help, legitimately, I think.

He tried to come up with a health plan to help us, but there are not the specialists that know what to do, and not the physicians that will advocate for her because that brings up extra responsibilities of communication and hospital privilege duties, and none of them are paid enough for that – especially while having limits on their time.  It’s so systemic, the problems that nearly killed her, and I could see it laid out on a map like a genogram in the middle of a nasty family therapy session.

He offered to call the boss of a hospital to get her on a special list to be sure we have good care, but that feels like going into the lion’s mouth when he’s already hungry and angry at us and asking not to get eaten.  He also offered to make sure we get into a clinic associated with the hospital, but clinics like that are busy and have little time and are not going to be responsive in emergencies the way our doctors are now.  I would rather drive to Bartlesville for good care there, where they know her and we are safe.  They and we together seem to do well discerning what is emergent for life flights or not, and when we can just keep her home and ride through the scary.

There just isn’t anywhere here that can care well for her or do the surgeries that she needs, and as it comes time for those again in the future, I don’t know how it will play out.  It’s like our only option is to move, but we need jobs for that, and transfer of the foster-adopted insurance, and all of that is really hard and complicated and hasn’t yet worked out.  So we know we need to be here for now, and are doing the best we can by having them in the schools and therapies they need, even if we know this is just between crises.  It’s the best we can do.

The only other thing to do, really, is to make voters aware of the impact of their choices, and to educate legislators about the real life consequences of the choices they are making.

We are not convinced the legislators want to be educated.

But, I said, we could make them cry.

We can make them feel.

And in that moment, maybe, just maybe, their hearts would soften just long enough to get some edumakashen in them.

I’m not sure.

So we are going to meet again, with the underwater boss of medicaid, who turns out to be a real person with a real name struggling with providing care for children in a state that keeps taking money away from them.

I get that.  That’s my life, everyday.

They think they can use Kyrie’s story to help educate voters and legislators to make changes to improve the care of medically fragile children and those in foster care.

We can at least try.

If there’s even a chance at that, then it would make the last year worth it, and it’s kind of why we wrote the book, so we agreed to explore some ideas of how to make this happen and meet with them again.  We will see.  We are not sure yet what it means, and we don’t have any real time answers to help Kyrie right now, today, but we have ideas to help other families so maybe they won’t have to go through what we have.

That said, and though we don’t yet know if we have made any concrete difference, at least the book has people talking and becoming aware and trying.  That makes a difference, right?  That changes the world, at least a little?  In the meantime, Kyrie is enjoying the perks: some fancy art on the 12th floor, and a little Naan.

#LDSConf – Helaman 14

CLICK HERE to read Helaman 14.

It is now less than 6 years before the birth of Christ.

The Nephites and Lamanites know this – they KNOW it – because the prophets have told them.

In this chapter, Samuel the Lamanite prophet not only tells them it will happen in five more years (verse 2), but also starts telling specific signs that will happen when the Savior is born (verse 1).

Here are the signs Samuel gives, saying these things will happen when the Savior is born:

  • Great lights in heaven, such that it will seem like day and be no darkness (verse 3);
  • One day, night, and day will seem as if one day with no night (verse 4);
  • A new star will shine, one that has never been seen before (verse 5);
  • Other wonders in heaven (verse 6); and
  • Some will be so amazed that they “fall to the earth” (verse 7).

Samuel goes on to say that “whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life” (verse 8).  This is his message that he is commanded to deliver, to urge the people to repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord (verse 9).

Samuel knows the people are angry with him for saying these things (verse 10).  He knows the people think it is too “out there”, and that the call to repentance is too hard.  But he also knows this is what he is commanded to say to the people, and so he does.  He does not want to condemn the people, but to help them find their way to safety by repentance (verse 11).  He wants them to “know of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning”, and to recognize the signs of His coming (verse 12).

All of this is important if the people are going to find their way to believe in Christ, repenting of their sins, and finding the mercy He offers by the atonement He has made (will make) (verse 13).

Samuel goes on to prophecy not only of the Savior’s birth, but also of his death (verse 14).

For behold, he surely must die that salvation may come; yea, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord (verse 15).

Samuel teaches the people that the death of the Savior is necessary in order to bring about the resurrection, so that we may all be given the gift of immortality (verse 16).  All of us, whether we believe in Christ or not, will be physically brought back into the presence of God to receive our judgments – the consequences we have chosen by our choices during this lifetime (verse 17).

This is why repentance is so important, because the good choices we make are evidence of our faith in Him.  He offers the gift of the atonement freely, loving us unconditionally, but actually receiving the gift is conditional: it depends on our accepting it, and the evidence that we accept it is that we are changed by it – as shown in our behaviors, choices, and interactions with others.   This is our freedom from spiritual death, that by repentance we may return to our Father’s presence – not only for judgment, but to return to our homes with Him.

When we do not repent, and so do not accept that gift, then we keep ourselves removed from His presence “for they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness” (verse 18).  So we must repent, “lest by knowing these things and not doing them, ye shall suffer yourselves to come under condemnation” (verse 19).

Then Samuel gives specific signs that will happen at the time of the Savior’s death:

  • The sun will be darkened and refuse its light, for three days (verse 20);
  • There will be thunder, lightning, and earthquakes (verses 21-22);
  • There will be storms (tornado-ish), mountains will fall, and valleys will rise (verse 23);
  • Highways will be broken up, and cities destroyed (verse 24);
  • Graves will open, with many resurrecting after Christ does (verse 25);
  • The thunder and lightning will last several hours after Christ dies (verse 26); and
  • The darkness will last for three days until Christ rises again (verse 27).

Samuel says that all of this is the earth testifying after the prophets have testified, so that the people will know it is true, and that “there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men” (verse 28).   This way, any who might believe if they understood will be able to believe, and those who would not believe no matter what will receive the judgment they have chosen (and so thereby also agree with that judgment, for they will know they had every opportunity and declined the invitation) (verse 29).

Remember… whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given you a knowledge and he hath made you free (verse 30).

Everyone will know the truth, and so also be free to choose it – or not.

But what we are choosing is our consequences.

He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you (verse 31).

#LDSConf – Helaman 13

CLICK HERE to read Helaman 13.

So the Nephites decline further into wickedness by rejecting the prophets, and so rejecting the word of the Lord, while the Lamanites “observe strictly to keep the commandments of God” (verse 1).   Now only six years before the birth of Christ, a Lamanite prophet named Samuel went to preach repentance to the people, but they refused to listen (verse 2).  He was ready to go home, but the Lord stopped him and told him to go back, that he should say “whatsoever things should come into his heart” (verse 3).

But the people would not let him into the city!  And so he got onto a wall, and taught the people from them.  He told them the words were from the Lord, and that he would say whatever the Lord put in his heart (verse 5).  He then went on to tell them that if they did not repent, they would be destroyed within four hundred years, and that only “repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ” could save them (verse 6).  He told them that an angel had taught him, and that it did “bring glad tidings to my soul”, and that he wanted them to also have these glad tidings but “ye would not receive me” (verse 7).

Therefore, thus saith the Lord: Because of the hardness of the hearts of the people… except they repent, I will take away my word from them, and I will withdraw my Spirit from them… (verse 8).

And he again tells them that they will be destroyed within four hundred years, all of the Nephites being destroyed by war and famine, if they do not repent (verse 9).  He warns them they are choosing destruction (verse 10), but that they still can repent and turn toward God (verse 11).

While not interfering with our ability to choose who to follow, the Lord is aware of what we will choose (verse 12).  Destruction would already come if it were not for the remaining righteous, but He does so want to bless all who will repent (verse 13).  He wants this so much that it has not yet happened already, because he honors those who are righteous (verse 14).  But those who will not repent will earn the destruction they have chosen (verses 15-17).

We cannot, without His blessing, hide up for ourselves earthly treasures – either literally or figuratively – for He does provide everything to us (verses 18-19).  Our hearts must be focused on Him (verse 20), which means our behaviors and our interactions will be like His.  Forgetting Him and losing ourselves to worldly things (riches, passions out-of-bounds, pride, boasting, envy, contention, strife, malice) and iniquity (verse 22) will bring upon us our own judgment that we have chosen, our own consequences to our own behaviors (verse 23).

For the Nephites, this came literally, as they did bury their riches, and their destruction came when whole cities were buried in earthquakes.

But the message from the prophet is clear: “the time has arrived”.   They do not realize Christ would be born in just a few short years, but still they ignore the prophets – or worse, casting them out, mocking them, stoning them, and even killing them (verse 24).

They boast, saying they never would have done to the prophets what happened in ancient times, and yet they do the very same thing (verse 25).  We do this in our day, when we say that we never would have mocked Noah and his ark, or given Moses any trouble, or refused to host Isaiah or Jeremiah – and yet refuse to do what the scriptures say, what the Savior has said, or what the prophet today says.

Behold, ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil (verse 26).

This is the same as what Nephi had told them in Helaman 8, when the people got angry instead of repenting.  This is a sign of a hard heart, when one gets angry and accuses someone else of being bad or mean instead of humbling themselves to receive the correction and seek forgiveness.

It is a false concept to believe that we can do whatever want and there be no consequences (verse 27).  Everything we do has a consequence, either for good or bad, for our happiness or our misery.  Our judgment is our own, and we decide it by how we behave and interact with others.

But we like for people to tell us – for “culture” to tell us – that we can do anything we want, to reward us financially and to flatter us (verse 28).  We want to “feel good” and do what feels good, without thinking of the consequences, much less anything beyond the present moment.  Instead of maturing into grown-ups, we want to remain like hedonistic babies who get what they want when they want – only because they do not yet have the skills to meet their own needs and the needs of others, who cannot yet delay gratification, who cannot yet sacrifice for the well-being of others.

So, Samuel asks, how long will we continue to live this way, foolish and blind in the dark (verse 29)?

The consequences are coming – are we going to do anything about it (verse 30)?

The time is soon coming that we cannot rely on our finances (verse 31).

When we lose everything, then we will remember God and cry out to Him (verse 32), saying:

O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out (verse 33).

What we have today will be gone tomorrow, and the coping skills we use today will no longer be available (verse 34).  He does not want us in bondage to those things for sustaining us, but wants us to live truly alive, to be fully awake, to be present, and to learn why we are here (verse 36).  These things that trap us, distract us, depress us, and delay us are not of God – ever.

Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls.  Behold, our iniquities are great…. And this shall be your language in those days (verse 37).

We will agree with our judgment because we will know it was our choice.

Our choice is now, and we are running out of time to choose.

… Your days of probation are past; ye have procastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which things is contrary to the nature of that righteousness… (verse 38)

And Samuel’s final words in this speech on the wall, crying repentance to the people:

O ye people of the land, that ye would hear my words!  And I pray that the anger of the Lord be turned away from you, and that ye would repent and be saved.

A Mormon(‘s) Response

I would be remiss if I didn’t bring THIS ARTICLE that came out today.  It posits, among other things, that (all quotes):

  • It is an open secret in Washington, D.C. that the Mormon church supports open borders and lax enforcement of immigration laws.
  • Under Sharia law enforced by orthodox Muslims wherever they have the power to do so, religious liberty is defined as giving Christians and Jews and other “infidels” a choice: either convert to Islam, pay the “Jizya” tax, or die. That is religious liberty under Islam, and it bears no resemblance to the religious liberty guaranteed by the US Constitution.
  • A clear-eyed look at the current presidential campaign suggests to me that the extent of Mormon opposition to Donald Trump is being exaggerated by the hostile media and some “Never Trump” opponents.
  • Nonetheless, the statements of some Mormon leaders raising the specter of religious persecution if immigration of radical Muslims is banned, is poisonous to intelligent debate over immigration policy.
  • The clear implication in the Governor’s message is that Trump’s plan to bar Islamist jihadists from entering our country is somehow akin to proposals 150 years ago to bar Mormon immigration.
  • The clear implication in the Governor’s message is that Trump’s plan to bar Islamist jihadists from entering our country is somehow akin to proposals 150 years ago to bar Mormon immigration.

In response, the Deseret News, published THIS RESPONSE, which includes the following statements (all quotes):

  • Tancredo has clearly not read the stated immigration policy of the LDS Church… [and] would offer that the real “moral incoherence” lies not with church leaders but with hardline advocates who call for immediate action on immigration but seem unwilling to do the hard work of engaging stakeholders to achieve meaningful reform.
  • The reality is that most Americans disagree with this approach. A majority of Republicans now reject mass deportation of undocumented individuals with fully 66 percent preferring a pathway to citizenship or permanent legal status. Meanwhile, some 84 percent of Democrats hold a similar view.
  • … the church’s actual statements regarding immigration tell a far different story.  “Most Americans agree,” the church’s immigration statement reads, “that the federal government of the United States should secure its borders and sharply reduce or eliminate the flow of undocumented immigrants.”  The statement continues: “Unchecked and unregulated, such a flow may destabilize society and ultimately become unsustainable.”  This language is hardly a call for “open borders.”
  • The (church’s) statement also notes that, as a matter of policy, the church discourages “members from entering any country without legal documentation, and from deliberately overstaying legal travel visas.”
  • What is important, the church emphasizes, “is how we treat each other as children of God.”
  • LDS leaders have also called for special sensitivity with regard to families, recognizing the harm caused when young people are caught in the shadowy world of no documentation while unmoored from their loved ones and left without a practical way to square themselves with the law.

I am a Mormon.

I believe that God still uses prophets just as there have always been prophets to guide communities of faith since the beginning of time.

But I also believe – and believe that my faith declares – that my own agency, or ability to choose, is paramount.  Everything hinges on this, actually.

And that is one reason Mormons so fiercely – individually and collectively – argue for freedom of religion.  We want the freedom to worship and the freedom for others to worship “according to the dictates of their own conscience” (a quote from our Articles of Faith).  But also within agency is the freedom we each have to make everyday choices as well: the way we operate as families, the way we function in the workplace, the access all people have to the services they need.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the very long and formal name of our church, though we are often just referenced as “the Mormons”.  While we maybe let it go and don’t mind so much, and may even call ourselves that now in reference to more cultural aspects of ourselves as a people, even that – being called “Mormons” comes from our history of being persecuted and chased out of state after state for our beliefs.  This has happened over and over again in history, when a group of people that is peculiar – set apart, different, unique, a peculiar people – gets stereotyped and labeled and derogatory words are used as slander… but the people themselves find the honor in it, because it confirms integrity and declares that yes, this is who we are, and no, we will not be moved from our holy places.

Maybe that’s why we are called on to connect with Muslims, not because of some fear-based reaction declaring we want terrorists invading our country, but because we know what it means to be hated, what it means to be refugees, what it means to be blamed for violence that comes from other people’s hate.

Maybe we are called on to help refugees because people matter, because lives matter, because God said so and we believe Him.

Maybe because anyone who calls themselves a Christian but spreads vile hate and lies about others does not really know God, and certainly is not following the pattern of the Savior “who went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.”

The church is The Church of Jesus Christ, and it is His church.

The Mormons are the people, who are very real and very mortal and often mistaken.  We are navigating waters in a world where we do not belong, waiting for our eternal home to be restored.  That makes us refugees, historically and culturally, though not all of us have endured such hardship in a temporal, real, physical way.  But many of our people have, and do, and currently are, and we will seek to rescue them – and their friends and neighbors, whom we also love, just for that reason: they are our friends and neighbors.

That leaves us all living on the same planet together, like it or not, much like my children sharing a hotel room while we moved last weekend.

We can get along and have a pleasant adventure, or not.

Some Mormons are republican, and some Mormons are democrat.  Most of these, like other Republicans and other Democrats, feel very strongly about why they have chosen this party or that one.  Some, like me, struggle more because they have grown up in a generation that is more loyal to the issue rather than the organized party, and so look to see how their elected leaders support or fight against one issue or another.

Our votes for either issue or either party come from spiritual insights we gain through study and spiritual intuition and common sense, not from someone else telling us how to vote.

We, like any other group of people, must be wise and careful in how we organize ourselves in support of one issue or against another, thinking clearly and pondering carefully about the choices we make.

There are few political issues that intrude upon us as a people of faith, but freedom to worship is one of them.

But we cannot responsibly fight for freedom to worship without also supporting the freedom of others to worship differently than us.

We are not fighting for freedom to worship like Mormons.

We are fighting for people to have the freedom to worship as they choose.

That includes many groups of faith with whom we share common truths despite so many differences, and the Muslims are one of those groups.  They believe in covenants, and we believe in covenants.  They believe in families, and we believe in families.  They have religious garb, religious holidays, and religious health codes, just like we do.  It makes sense that Muslims would be one group we would share lots in common with, especially as some of them flee for their lives for safety from their own governments.

Yes, some terrorists claim to be Muslim.

Just like some idiots claim to be Christian, or Mormon, or any other faith group, and do really stupid or mean or terrible things.

Not to say extremists or terrorists are okay.  Of course it isn’t.  I don’t mean to minimize that at all.  I just mean that it isn’t fair to lump together an entire people because of the bad behavior of some, or because of false claimants who turn “religion” into something it is not at all.

And nothing, nothing, nothing ever justifies being cruel to or neglectful of others.

When people need help, we will help them, with healthy boundaries and good plans to ensure their safety and success as much as our own.

No one in Mormon history has ever said we should let a bunch of crazy people in whatever border you are referring to, and then just stand there and take it while they kill us.  Ever.

Mormons have always, as a collective group, fought hard to defend their property and peace and pursuit of happiness, including their right to worship.  Or their right to live.

Individually, we are called upon to care well for our families and care well for our neighbors, whether that means giving tithes and offerings so people I have never met can get an education and go to temples and receive food in floods and refugee camps, or whether that means taking bread to my neighbor and having the children sing a song to cheer up their day, or whether that means adopting six children with special needs, or whether that means learning to braid the hair of my brown daughters, or whether that means helping the world to fall in love with my little sick baby from Pakistan.

Anything else is not of God.

“Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?”

~ Malachi 2:10

#LDSConf – Helaman 12

CLICK HERE to read Helaman 12.

This repeated cycle of the people falling into the pattern of the Gaddianton Robbers until nearly being destroyed, repenting and being delivered and blessed, and then becoming proud and seeking after wealth and power again until falling into the pattern of the Gaddianton Robbers shows how very weak we are.  We also see how merciful God is to so quickly forgive us, and what grace He has toward us to provide the way.

And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him (verse 1).

So, Nephi says, we see how every time the Lord does try to prosper his people, even with temporal increase (physical and financial blessings), and show them mercy (delivering them from the destruction they chose), and “doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people”, that is when the people – when we, who are so very weak – “do harden their hearts and do forget the Lord their God, and to trample under their feet the Holy One” (verse 2).

This – our own bad behavior and poor choices and neglect of each other – requires chastening, which the Lord sends to us through afflictions, so that we remember Him (verse 3).

O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men (verse 4).

We look to Him for blessings, but when they come then we become proud in ourselves and are bad stewards of what we have received (verse 5).  We ignore His counsel, and will not do what He says (verse 6).  His commandments are not oppressive or limiting, but rather ensure that we retain our freedom and our happiness.  What we think sets us “free” by breaking His commandments is only an illusion, actually dragging us down into captivity and bondage.

Even the dirt, Nephi says, is more obedient than we are (verse 7).  It blows where it is supposed to (verse 8), and the earth quakes when it is told (verses 9-15, 17).  There is rain or drought at His commands, and the seas stays where it is put or leaves its bounds when told (verses 16).  The earth hides treasure if it is told to do so (verses 18-19), but people will simply not obey.

But even if people think they do not have to obey God, it does not make God any less God than He is.  If He afflicts them to get their attention, He is still God, and still loves them, and is still trying to rescue them – even if they do not believe in Him, do not agree with Him, or do not listen to Him.

Yet still, the law is the law, and if they do not respond to Him, then they will miss His presence (verse 21).

But those who do respond, will be rescued and enjoy His presence (verse 23).

And we need His presence, even His Spirit, to become.

And may God grant, in his great fulness, that men might be brought unto repentance and good works, that they might be restored unto grace for grace, according to their works (verse 24).

The “grace for grace” is talking about what God gives us.

Mercy is NOT giving us what we deserve.

Grace is giving us what we do NOT deserve.

It is by grace that we receive spiritual gifts, and these are what we need to become like Him.

He makes our weaknesses strong by granting us gifts that are the opposite of our weaknesses, so that we can – by Him – overcome them and become more like Him.

And so it is by whether we claim and use these gifts (or not), and practice them and develop them, that we  give evidence that we have accepted His gift.

Detangling Intersections

I got another one of those hot baths!  This self-care thing just might work!  Good job, self-therapist.

We planned to take today off.  By that, I mean take the day off from running around to eight thousand children appointments, and just stay home working together on the house.

I can unpack faster, you know, if it were just me.

And I don’t just mean because there is more stuff here with eight people.

I mean because I could push through and get it done, without stopping to eat or drink water or go to the bathroom, very nearly, and even sleep would be optional.

Here, though, the mornings are focused on study before the children wake, getting the children ready and safely delivered to school, and then we have a bit of time to work on the house before it’s time to bring them home again.  Baths have to start as soon as we walk in the door, while everyone else takes their turn playing outside once chores are completed while I cook supper.


The younger ones also help fold their laundry on their day, and set the table, and clean their room.

Everyone also has violin, piano, homework, “babysit” Kyrie time, and one-on-one art or music projects with Papa.   They also take turns helping me cook dinner.  They love to cook, all of them!

Everyone is in pajamas by the time we sit down to supper, and we do scriptures right after that.  So then everyone brushes their teeth while we take turns with bedtime prayers and bathroom trips.  We almost have our new routine down!  Whew!

We also are getting more and more settled.  We are not finished unpacking yet, and of course Nathan and I have left our room for last so it is a disaster.  But we do have some special corners settled, like where my cello and Nathan’s violin goes:


We also finally uncovered our pew with the quilt Jenn Perkins gave me for winning the ovarian cancer prize, so that I can practice when I am able and the children know we still have our family prayer bench ready.  I’m also using it for laying out the next morning’s school clothes, so that once they get their turn in the bathroom, they can grab their clothes and find a place to change clothes privately instead of everyone waiting to change in their room or the bathroom.

The mess in the window behind the bench is the stuff going to my new office next week, and that’s the concentrator in the background in its new place – out of the way but easily accessible.

We needed air today.  That baby got called home from school for being the wrong color and trying to catch her breath, and she was very glad to see me when I picked her up.  But she was so mad to get stickers back on her face!  She settled as soon as I left them alone, though, and got her air going.  Then she slept until late afternoon and now is asleep again.

I think she is growing again, for one thing, and she has always required oxygen to grow.

We are also watching her closely to see if she develops any sickness or presents any new symptoms since she is being exposed to other children for the first time at school.

There is always the possibility that we are back in the cycle of her outgrowing her airway, but we hope it is not that.

This summer she has had several good weeks and then a hard three or four days, and then several good weeks.  It seems to be a pattern, I think.  So I am expecting her to be better by tomorrow night if it isn’t a new illness coming out, so hopefully she will feel better soon.  Regardless, we have a Pulmonologist appointment tomorrow, though I am anxious to see how that goes since last time was pretty scary in the hospital.  We haven’t seen them since the last time they said she was admitted to be trached and then wasn’t, so we will see what happens.  I hate that it feels “ugly” between us because they are really some of the nicest doctors we have ever encountered.  They aren’t bad.  It’s just hard when they think we are crazy and we feel unheard, but we share a mutual love for Kyrie and wanting to do well for her.  We will be excited to go in and tell them how well she has been doing – until this weekend.

But also, winter is coming, and it scares me.  She has thrived in the sun and fresh air.  The cold and wet air that will come, with all the illnesses from the other children, can be so dangerous for her.  We will get her back on RSV shots and we may have to pull the kids out again, but hopefully she can hang in there.  That’s another reason we wanted her exposed to other children now, to get some germs while she is strong and able to recover, to fortify her against the winter a little.

I was talking with an advocate friend who was mentioning seizures associated with apnea that intersect with obstructive apnea.  She said these are really hard to catch on the EEG, and that it may be part of what happens with Kyrie in some of these episodes where she just stops breathing and doesn’t respond, even though we have tried several times to catch seizures on the EEG and none have shown up.  Regardless, we need more understanding of PRS babies and the (especially long-term) effects of ongoing hypoxia and anoxic brain injury – which counts as TBI.  I didn’t even know that!  I need to talk with my friend Dr. Evanson about this more, but have spent the evening reading journals and making calls to neuro and looking back at Kyrie’s MRIs and other records.  Goodness.

Also, the breathing part of her brain is where her stroke happened, so that also intersects in the same place and can’t be helpful.

In the meantime, life is more simple that mindblowing.  Singing hymns with the children.  Reading scriptures with Nathan.  Kissing babies goodnight.  And kissing them again.  And kissing them again.  And yes, one more hug.  And then just one more.  And then just one more.  And then finally, my hot bath, and a little writing so that my own voice can breathe again, and a little processing of what we can do to help Kyrie who so badly wants to grow so very fast but is still so tiny.

Anber and Barrett, though, are already quite grown up since going to Pre-K, with no more baby fits at all, and not even one screaming incidence in two weeks.  WHAT?  That is equally mindblowing as all the research on Kyrie.  They amaze me, those two.

Kirk, Alex, and Mary loved their first day of second grade, were thrilled to see each other on the playground, and couldn’t wait to chatter (nonstop) about all the excitement when we picked them up from school.  I am so happy that they love school, and so proud of them for the hard work of adjusting to a new school.  They are brave and good, those kids.

 

#LDSConf – Helaman 11

CLICK HERE to read Helaman 11.

Contentions grew so much with the Nephites, that wars broke out among the people (verse 1). Secret works continued to stir things up toward destruction and wickedness (verse 2), as opposed to humble works of righteousness that would have built people up in faith and testimony.

So Nephi the prophet did cry out to the Lord (verse 3), asking Him for a famine instead of war (verse 4).  This was a righteous prayer because a war meant that the people would be destroying themselves and each other by focused aggression and hardened hearts, while a famine would soften hearts by reminding them to think of their Creator, giving them another opportunity to repent.

The Lord agreed with this, “and so it was done” (verse 5).  The earth was made dry, so that grain did not grow (verse 6), and the people “began to remember the Lord their God”, and also the words of his prophet Nephi (verse 7).

They asked Nephi to pray to the Lord for them, begging that the prophecies of their destruction not be fulfilled (verse 8).  Nephi witnessed this repentance, and their humble behaviors, and prayed to the Lord in their behalf (verse 9).  He told the Lord that the people had repented, even getting rid of the Gadianton robbers that had stirred up so much destruction (verse 10).

God, of course, knew all these things.  He had seen the people’s repentance, and He had heard their prayers.  But since part of their sin had been denying the words of the prophet, part of their repentance was to return through the prophet.  They had, collectively, refused the prophet, and so had, collectively, refused God.  They had to collectively return to God through the prophet, collectively.

This is a type of our Father in that when we pray to our Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ, our Heavenly Father does already know our needs and wants, our desires and our concerns.  He knows our weaknesses and our struggles, and He knows our triumphs and joys.  But if we are His child, and He is our Father, then we express that relationship by talking to Him about these things, and we do that through prayer.

It is also a type of Christ, in that the atonement is already there for us.  He has done the work of it already, and it is a gift waiting for us.  But still we must claim it – receive it – by enacting it.  We receive this gift by asking for it.  There can be no mediation without a mediator, and there can be no advocating with an advocate.  So the Savior’s great atoning sacrifice is complete, and it we are still learning to apply it and harness its power.

So Nephi prays for the people, mediating for them and advocating for them, telling the Lord that He does not have to be angry at the pride of the people because the people have humbled themselves (verse 11).  Their humility is their token of repentance that they offer, and so Nephi asks the Lord to offer His sign of forgiveness: the end of the famine (verse 12).  Nephi asks this according to his priesthood duty and office, by the power given to him by the Lord (verse 13).  This power was given to him for the purpose of calling the people to repentance (verse 14), and the people have now repented (verse 15).  Thus the Lord is bound by what He says (D&C 82:10), even to bless the people (verse 16).

And so the Lord did, and the rains came, and the grains began to grow (verse 17).  The people “did rejoice and glorify God”, and they understood Nephi was a prophet with power and authority from God (verse 18).  Nephi, and his brother Lehi, continued their ministry, and Lehi “was not a whit behind him as to things pertaining to righteousness” (verse 19).

This is how the Nephites began to prosper again (verse 20), and the church spread throughout the land, and there was peace (verse 21).

The Nephites, however, are just not skilled at being a peaceful people, and will not submit to God to let His grace give them that gift of peace.  Instead of growing in the knowledge of God, they argue about doctrine (verse 22).  The prophets have to teach them again, preaching to settle the issue and “put an end to their strife” (verse 23).

The Lamanites, just recently praised for their faith and obedience, struggle in the same way.  Some are Lamanites by birth, and some are Lamanites by conversion, and these two groups are warring against each other (verse 24).

Some of both groups rejoined the Gadianton robbers, stirring up the desire for wealth and power at any cost (verses 25-26).  These people “did make great havoc” among both the Lamanites and the Nephites (verse 27).  The Lamanites and Nephites did try some to fight these back (verses 28 and 29), and suffered many losses trying (verse 30).  The people had to return to their own lands instead of being pioneers into the wilderness, because of the many robbers (verse 31), who were increasing in numbers every year (verse 32) and carrying off captives of women and children (verse 33).

The experiences of these afflictions again reminded the people to turn toward God (verse 34), for it was the subtle and small things that led to such big problems.  When they “did not mend their ways” (verse 36), the people were growing in pride – making the problem worse and themselves more susceptible to these robbers – rather than humbling themselves before God and being delivered from this captivity (verse 37).