#LDSConf – 2 Nephi 2

CLICK HERE to read 2 Nephi 2.

In this chapter, Lehi continues his final blessings to his sons.  This chapter is the final blessing given to his son Jacob,  the son born to him in the wilderness after they left Jerusalem.

In verse 1, Lehi brags on Jacob, reflecting on how Jacob suffered many things because of growing up on their journey and because of his mean murmuring brothers.   But in verse 2, Lehi gives Jacob the promise of the principle of compensation: that when we are obedient and faithful, he will consecrate our afflictions to bless us in some way.

There are layers and layers to this, but for another blog.

“Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men” (verse 3).

This is the promise, that despite the afflictions of the past, he will get the fullness of a life centered on the Savior.  It hints at a mission, at work in the Temple, and family.  There are a thousand cross-references that develop what this patriarchal blessing means for Jacob.

I love the part in the middle, where it says “thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer”.   We are not redeemed because of us, or because of our righteousness.  We are redeemed because of HIS righteousness.  It takes us back to the great exchange of Isaiah 22:23 and 25.

The beginning of verse 4 repeats the end of verse 3, about how Jacob has beheld the glory of the Lord.

Lehi also reminds Jacob that the Spirit is the same spirit yesterday, today, and forever – reminding us that Heaven is not closed, that we still can see visions and dream dreams, that we still can receive personal revelation from the Holy Spirit.  What comfort this is!  What strength it brings!

Then Lehi says, “the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free” (verse 4).

We know that “the way”, or the Atonement, was planned pre-mortally, before we ever came to Earth.  The atonement was always part of the plan of salvation, and we have always known it.

The Family Proclamation says:

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.

We have always known.

Not only have we always known, but even since being on Earth, we are instructed sufficiently to know good from evil (verse 5).

The law has been given to show us who God is, by showing us what is not of God.

But because there is the law, we can never measure up – because we are still learning.  We are not yet like Him.

This is why we need the atonement, the redemption that “cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth”.

The truth is the whole story of who God is, the mercy with which He balances out justice.

His grace is the salvation we did not earn.

“Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered” (verse 7).

That great exchange requires our giving up of ourselves, so that we can be filled with His righteousness.

It is how we become like Him.

He has kept His promise of doing the work of His great atoning sacrifice.  We knew, from before the beginning, that this was part of the plan.  Because He has kept His promise, we must also keep ours: which is to testify of that atonement.

This is our premortal covenant: that He would complete the work of the atonement, and we would testify of it.

“Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise” (verse 8).

Lehi reminds Jacob that the sacrifice of the Savior is the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrifices, that these sacrifices have always pointed to the Savior and what He would (did) do for us.  And because He has paid the price, because He fulfilled the Law in that way, He is able to intercede for us, to advocate for us, to bridge the gap between us and Heavenly Father.

It is this intercession that makes it possible for us to even approach God, much less return to His presence.

“And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement” (verse 10).

The “punishment” is the opposite of “happiness”, he says.

We know that happiness is to be in the presence of Heavenly Father.

Holiness is required to be in His presence.

So what is not holy, cannot be in His presence.

That is the “punishment”.

In this way, we kind of choose – now – our own punishment for then – by how holy we choose to become in this life.

We are, of course, a work in progress, and “fall short of the glory of God”.

But it is that exchange, that ongoing process of sanctifying to become holy, it is that atoning for what is not-holy (mercy) and give us of His righteousness (mercy) that makes it possible.   But we have to choose it, and do the work it requires.

We do that work by making good choices.

This brings us back to the Law of Opposition.

Without opposition, we cannot make choices.  We need opposing choices of good and of what is not-good, in order to choose the good.  Without a choice of what is not-good, there would be no good to choose.

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility” (verse 11).

But because there is a choice of good and not-good, that means we need a Law that says what is of God and what is not of-God.

But because there is a Law, that means there is the fulfilling of the Law, and the transgression of the Law.

This is how opposition plays out.

So because there is transgression against the Law, we need the atonement to make things right again.

“And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away” (verse 13).

This, Lehi says, is “for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon” (verse 14).

But to bring about all this, that chain of consequences of opposition had to start somewhere.  So we have Adam and Eve with the forbidden fruit.

This was the beginning of agency, or the ability to make choices.

It is the whole reason we all came to planet Earth, to learn how to make choices.

(Also to receive our bodies, of course.)

We learn to make choices by overcoming the temptations of the devil.

The devil was kicked out of heaven for trying to usurp God.  That is consistent in most all Christian religions, and many other religions as well.  We know that story.  In LDS beliefs, we have more details of this, in that we know Heavenly Father presented this plan – even for us to come to Earth to receive our bodies and gain experience (learn to make choices).   He explained the plan, even the need for the atonement.

Jehovah, our eldest brother, offered Himself as the sacrifice as the atonement.  This way Heavenly Father’s plan could unfold as He designed it, and we could all make choices and work our way back home to Him.  Each of us making it back home would bring glory to Heavenly Father, for He had accomplished His work and glory.

Lucifer, however, didn’t want to do it Heavenly Father’s way.  He wanted to FORCE everyone to choose God.  Forcing us to choose God would remove our agency, and negate the need for an atonement.  It would also mean Lucifer himself would get all the glory for getting us back home by force, rather than Heavenly Father getting the glory because we demonstrated our love for Him.

This is why Lucifer and his followers got kicked out of Heaven, and why they did not get to be born into bodies.

They are mad about this, and want us as miserable as they are.   So they like to trick us into surrendering our agency or using it poorly.

“And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.  And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind” (verses 17 and 18).

So this is how LDS view Eve differently than other Christian perspectives.

We all agree she took the first bite, so to speak.

We even agree that in some way, this caused our “fall”.

But others believe this was a bad thing, and because of her we are all miserable.

This is a horrible and oppressive and twisted view on women in general, especially our most honored first woman, the mother of us all.

In contrast, LDS honor Eve in that she did what she had to do to enact the plan of salvation, to start that process of opposition so that we all could make choices.

And so through this, we were all able to come to earth, to learn to make choices and learn how to demonstrate our love to Him by doing what He says, and by turning to Him through repentance when we fail to do what He says.

“And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents” (verse 21).

But this means that if they had remained in their state of innocence, they never even would have had children.

Without the fall, none of us would have ever been born.

In the same way, they would have never known joy or happiness, because they would have never experienced sadness or pain.

There has to be opposites.

“And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.  And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin” (verses 22 and 23).

And so in this way, Eve transgressed a lesser law in order to follow a higher law.

In this way, Eve taking the first bite was actually being obedient to the overall plan.

In this way, we know that the forbidden fruit was put in the Garden of Eden for a reason.  He had a plan when He planted it there!  He knew what the plan was, and Adam and Eve understood what the plan was.

“Behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things” (verse 24).

Even the forbidden fruit was part of the plan.

The “Fall” of Adam and Eve was really part of the process of us leaving our premortal presence with Heavenly Father, so that we could come here to learn to make choices.  We needed the agency – the ability to make choices, to choose or not, so that our love could really be love – because it was a choice.  And this is our whole point of being on Earth, so that we can find this joy of choosing to love our Heavenly Father.

This leads us to one of the most famous verses in all of LDS scripture, verse 25, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”

But that joy comes through the atonement of Christ.

He was always part of the plan.

“And the Messiah cometh in the fullness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given” (verse 26).

“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (verse 27).

It says “men are free according to the flesh”.  This means that because the Savior conquered death through His resurrection, by His divine nature, we all will experience immortality.  That is His free gift to everyone.

But eternal life – the quality of that immortality – that we must choose, and now is when we choose it.

How do we choose eternal life?

“And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit…” (verse 28).

We choose eternal life by obeying the commandments, by being faithful to Him (and our premortal covenant of testifying).  We are able to do this because of the help we receive from the Holy Spirit.

But if we do not obey, if we are not faithful, if we do not listen to the Holy Spirit, then we are instead allowing the devil to have power to “captivate”, with those chains that lead to death and destruction, to be reigned over by him instead of living with Heavenly Father in the celestial kingdom.

And these words are his testimony to all his sons, “in the last days of my probation” (this time on Earth to prove that we have learned to make choices, to show that we choose Heavenly Father).  “I have chosen the good part, according to the words of the prophet.  And I have none other object save it be the everlasting welfare of your souls.  Amen” (verse 30).

Cleansing and Release

Whew.  I thought this day would never come.

Or, maybe I was afraid it would.

Or, maybe I thought I would miss it all together.

Yes, it’s true!  We are thrilled to announce that after four years of miscarriages and fostering and now adoption, we have graduated one tiny phase of parenthood:  the kingdom of newborns.  It is a huge relief, let me tell you.

It’s funny now, to think back on how hard we prayed for children.

Maybe we prayed a little too hard.

Then we had the experience of being pregnant for two and a half years straight, almost, with no surviving babies to show for the emotional rollercoaster ride of pregnancy.

Then we had the experience of fostering more than 80 children, until we almost did not survive ourselves.

And now we are done.  Officially.  Completely.  No more emergency last minute babies, no more overnight kiddos, no more last minute placements just until they find an available foster home.

We. Are. Finished. Fostering.

Our house is full, our family whole, and we have given everything.

Really, we have.

We have said goodbye to so many of our own babies, and we have said goodbye to handfuls and handfuls of other people’s babies.

And now we are home. Us.  Family.

I knew when Baby Girl came, that she would be our last baby.  When we knew she was coming, I fasted and prayed for her so often to be safe and healthy while growing in such a dangerous world.  We knew they didn’t expect her to be born alive, and once she was born we knew they didn’t expect her to survive.  I had started my cancer battle by then, and had learned enough to make every moment count.

I know we still have parenting ahead of us, obviously, and that there will be other battles and other hard days and that the exhaustion will continue.

But this piece: the gathering of our children through fostering, and the making every moment count, and the swimming in devotion to these children even when I have no idea how to help them, that we have done well.

Not perfectly.

Not without mistakes.

Not without the police being here two weeks ago just to force a head count.

But, in one of the few areas of my life, for maybe the first time in my life, I can honestly say that we have done our very absolute best and given all we had to give.

And I haven’t missed a moment.

I lost working at LDS Family Services, because I needed to be home with the children.  I lost extra income from hospital shifts, because I needed to be home with the children.  I lost a comfortable living, because I needed to be home with the children – who are so very expensive.  I lost the time I used to spend in study, and I lost the time I used to play with friends, and I lost the organization of my home.

But I got these babies, six babies.

And my friends are still out there.

And my home is clean enough-ish.

And my work?  We have had sufficient for our needs, and my work with patients has been improved through these life experiences, and Nathan has had time and space to explore his own work in new ways we never expected.  We have learned so much, and gained exactly the experiences we needed.

Raising children is hard work enough for me, these days.

I remember how chaotic everything used to be, and how strict we had to be, and how much barking we had to do just to keep so many traumatized children with special needs contained and functioning.

Now?  Now we are finally, finally, finally, in a settled place, in a still place, in a home of peace (not so much quiet, just yet).  We belong together, and we are learning each other, and we are all getting better at expressing ourselves, saying what we need, asking for help, and enjoying each other’s company.  Now, finally, we are happy.

We are home.

We are family.

Back then, at the beginning, I thought today would come too soon and be too hard.

In the middle of those years of grief, when I lost both my parents and all my babies, I knew that this day would wrench my gut beyond what I could handle.  It would be what finally knocked me over a very precarious cliff, I thought.  I might finally drop my basket.

But it was perfect, exactly perfect.

I wasn’t cheated out of anything.

It didn’t happen until I was ready.

And then it was right.

It was right, and a relief.

I tossed the bassinet to Nathan from across the garage, and threw the newborn swing at him, and flew the playmat like a frisbee.  We pulled out Barrett’s car seat because he finally gets to move into a booster, and he is too big for his booster chair at the table.  We downsized a stroller, and passed on the extras.

And the clothes?

Any mother will tell you, in girl world language, how hard it is to let go of their tiny clothes.

And this Baby Girl wore her preemie clothes for six months, and her newborn clothes for another four months.

It’s not about tiny clothes that gag you with cuteness.

It’s about the smell of memories that waft through the air when you touch them, and how very warm the tears are that days once so overwhelming have now passed so quickly by.

This was the first outfit I took to her in the hospital, where she had been wearing only a diaper and a thousand tubes and cords for fifty-one days.

This was the outfit I brought her home in, when we drove straight to the temple across town for me to pray my Hannah-tears over this little Samuel-baby-girl who was a miracle, my miracle.

This was the outfit she was wearing when Nathan held her for the first time, when she smiled for the first time, when we gave her the speciality bottle she finally took instead of only the feeding tube.

These are the pants that matched that adorable shirt we had to cut off when we resuscitated her.

This is the dress she was wearing that time we rode in the ambulance, the shorts she was wearing when we were life-flighted, the sleeper she was wearing when we took her last pictures before surgery when she didn’t wake up and laid there on life support.

This is what she was wearing when we finally came home again, on the airplane, or when we flew on another airplane back to another hospital, or when we called the ambulance again and they were sure we had lost her.

This is the dress she had on that time she stopped breathing in the middle of stake conference.

This is what she was wearing when I knew, I knew, she was our baby and staying in our family.

It’s not about the cute clothes.

It’s about the sacred and precious memories, and the love that grows through those experiences.

Baby Girl is ten and a half months old now, which is how big Anber was when we got her.

For the first time ever, there is a strange continuity of experiences, as Baby Girl finally grows out of newborn clothes just in time to turn one, moving directly into Anber’s baby clothes as if it was always meant to be.

And the bassinet?  It’s not just a girly bassinet with ruffles and pink.  It’s where we laid her sideways and elevated, because she couldn’t breathe on her back.  It’s where we glued monitors to her every night, so that we would wake every time she stopped breathing.  It’s where we rushed when the alarms warned us her heart had stopped again.

The little swing?  It’s not just a cute swing in all its pink glory.  It’s where we rocked her on her side after feeding her through a tube, just so she wouldn’t throw it all back up.

The big infant swing?  It wasn’t just a gift from a friend we miss, but a symbol of love.  That friend twice drove the baby all the way to me at the hospital in Tulsa where I was working, just because of feeding crises and to help get her back to sleep.  That friend rocked her and fed her and loved her, when others were too afraid to try to help.

The first walker, the one she already wore out?  A miracle.  Because she wasn’t supposed to live this long.

And here we are at a new normal, where our family is as it is, where the kids who live here get to stay, where so many little ones outgrow their clothes and toys faster than I would like.

But that is good and right, and as it should be.

They are healthy, and happy, and normal.

This is our home now, without any boy clothes under size 4.

This is our home now, without any girl clothes under size 12 months.

This is our home now, full of children who are growing and playing and breathing.

It was a good day, not hard at all other than the hard work of doing all there was to be done.

It was an exactly perfect day, even in its exhaustion.

  

#LDSConf – 2 Nephi 1

CLICK HERE to read 2 Nephi 1.

Just as 1st Nephi was an account of Lehi and his son, Nephi, and the rest of their family leaving Jerusalem and traveling into the wilderness, so 2nd Nephi is an account of the final days of Lehi, Lehi’s death, and Nephi’s continued journeys.  In this way, 2nd Nephi is about the passing of the torch from Lehi to Nephi.  The family records are passed down to Nephi, and he continues to document the family story.

In 1st Nephi, the bad behavior of these boys consistently played out opposite Nephi’s good behavior.  The characters of these brothers are “types” of the Law of Opposition, showing how the opposition plays out, showing what each side looks like.  It helps us to learn what the opposite choices are, enables us to discern what consequences follow, and empowers us to make our own good choices.  This is how we avoid bondage by learning the lessons from their experiences; unless we do not learn by their example, then we still must repeat the pattern until we get it for ourselves.

But now, in 2nd Nephi, the same thing starts to play out on a grander scale.  Instead of just representing the opposites of good guy / bad guy, these brothers begin to point to a higher pattern.  No longer simply playing opposites in their choices, the brothers are now opposites as a result of their choices.  Rather than simply representing opposing choices, the brothers now represent opposing consequences.  Instead of just being the good guy, Nephi now is a prophet pointing to the Savior, a “type” of the Savior, or representing the people of the Church.  Instead of just being the bad boys representing the bad choices, Laman and Lemuel now represent those who are rejecting the prophets, not of the covenant, and even mocking the Church.

Verse 1 of chapter 1 opens 2 Nephi by explaining this transition:  “And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of teaching my brethren, our father, Lehi, also spake many things unto them, and rehearsed unto them, how great things the Lord had done for them in bringing them out of the land of Jerusalem.”

But then, in verse 2, Lehi does something that I love very much, something that I need reminding of everyday: he calls out the naughty boys, those murmuring and rebellious brothers of Nephi.  He calls them out for their bad behavior on the ship, back when they were mean and rude and tied Nephi up (1 Nephi 18).  But here is the part I love: Lehi calls them out on it, but then points them back to the Savior.  Rather than focus on shaming them, or getting stuck in the reprimanding, Lehi follows the pattern we are given by disciplining and then demonstrating an increase in love (See D&C 121:43).  In this moment of meekness (for to be meek is “strength under control”, and he had plenty of reasons to just blast them), Lehi straight up calls out the boys for their bad behavior, but then rather than isolating them or shaming them for this, uses it to teach a character trait of God.  He teaches them about God’s mercy.

In the context of justice (as opposed to “tender mercies” which is a different thing), “mercy” is when we do not receive what we should.

This is in contrast to “grace”, which is when we receive what we did not earn.

The atonement includes both grace and mercy:  He did it for us even though we did not deserve it (grace); because He did it, we will not receive the full punishment we should have (mercy).

It is grace when my mother got me a chocolate shake even though I fussed at her early that morning.

It is mercy when my mother grounded me for only 1 day instead of 3 days for fussing at her.

Mercy is when the full punishment is not dished out.

So in verse 2, Lehi is saying that the bad behavior of those naughty boys earned a severe punishment from God.   If we remember that story, we know the storms came and threatened the ship and everyone on it.  But God showed mercy and did not destroy them (even though they had earned it).

Lehi used that past experience – very fresh and relevant to his children and their families – to explain what God was doing for them now (line upon line!).

In verse 3, Lehi talks about their safe arrival in the land of promise, and how this showed the mercy of God because He had warned them to leave Jerusalem before it was destroyed.

This is the mercy of God: that He gave them commandments, and their obedience saved them.

This is how He delivers His people through covenants.

We know that anytime the Scriptures talk about the land of promise, or the promised land, we know it is referring not only to that physical deliverance of those people at that time, but also to the ultimate deliverance of all of us returning to the celestial kingdom to be with our Heavenly Father.

In the same way, whatever or whoever is being destroyed in that physical moment of that historical time becomes a representation of “the world”;  just as the covenant people must flee from those lands/oppressors/cities, so we must also be “set apart” from the world to be delivered to the promised land.

To be “set apart” means to be “holy”, so it is this “setting apart” from the world that transforms us into becoming holy, into becoming the people-of-holiness.

(See this blog on 1 Nephi 15)

It is the journey, it is the “setting apart” that makes us holy, that makes us become the covenant people He has called us to be.

Keeping all that in mind, we re-read verse 3:

“And he also spake unto them concerning the land of promise, which they had obtained—how merciful the Lord had been in warning us that we should flee out of the land of Jerusalem.”

So we learn that it is HIS MERCY that enables us to be “set apart”, that makes us holy, that transforms us into a covenant people.

It is also a reminder that His Laws, the principles by which we live, and the commandments we know are good for us, and that they are given to us by His MERCY, so that we can be delivered.

It brings us back to the image of the Passover, and of how being obedient saves us.  We see it in every commandment given to us – CLICK HERE to read my favorite talk EVER on the Word of Wisdom, by my favorite-est I-can-talk-Hebrew-Greek-and-English-in-the-same-sentence scholar, Hugh Nibley.

So this is the lesson, that in God’s mercy, He gives us commandments to keep us safe – both temporally and spiritually.  It’s really that simple.

In verse 4, Lehi tells his family that he has seen a vision in which Jerusalem has been destroyed.  So he knows that what he prophesied has now happened.  And, it really did.  This is all just after 600 BC, and we know that in this time, Jerusalem really was taken captive by Babylon.  This is the time of Jeremiah the prophet, and the captivity will last through the days of Zedekiah and until the rebuilding of the Temple.

So, Lehi says, “had we remained in Jerusalem, we should also have perished” (verse 4).

This opens up a layer of prophecy, where Lehi is talking about the land of Americas as well as this “promised land” being a type of the future celestial kingdom.

He says, “Dude. This was a hard trip.  It’s been really hard.  We had lots of hardships along the way.  But we got here safely, and were delivered out of the destruction that went down back there.  We are grateful and glad for His mercy that provided a way for us to make it here, and grateful and glad for this provision of a place to live. The Lord keeps His promises.”

“But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” (verse 5).

Then come his powerful words of prophesy: “according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord” (verse 6).

This land, he says, is a promised land.  The Lord will lead people here, and that is how the people will find it.  Then, as long as the people continue to be obedient and acknowledge Him, He will protect them here in this land because they are His people and this is His land.  But if they refuse to become His people, they must leave the land because it is His.”

This, like all other others, applies in a temporal (here and now) and spiritual (celestial kingdom) sense.

The Lord is holy.  We cannot be in His presence if we are not also made holy.  To return to His presence, we must become the people-of-holiness.

In the same way, this land is consecrated (set apart, made holy) for His people.  If His people continue to be His people, the land will remain as a symbol of freedom to them, a “land of liberty”.  Can you see Moroni raising the flag in Alma 46?  But if they lose their freedom and liberty, it will be because of iniquity.  Yet even still, it is promised to His people, so those who become His people, people-of-holiness (the House of the Lord), will inherit the land.  It’s a promise.

“Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.”

Thus unfolds the drama (as in story) of the entire Book of Mormon.  The whole rest of the Book of Mormon is the story of how the Law of Opposition, played out by the descendants of Nephi (Nephites) and descendants of Lamen and Lemuel (Lamanites) affects who has the land or not.  It is how these groups of people, the Nephites and the Lamanites, are blessed or not by the choices they make and the covenants they keep (or not).

“Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.”

This is a beautiful promise, a powerful promise.

It is also concerning, for we know the consequences of falling away from God as a nation, and it seems in-process even now.

The Family Proclamation says:

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

That time is here.  That time is nearly now.

We are no longer in the latter days.  We are in the latter days of the latter days.  Time is running out.  The signs are here, the earth is testifying, and the prophet and apostles are exponentially speeding up preparations in every way.

Lehi said, “But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord—having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise—behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them” (verse 10).

The Lord can only show us mercy if we are listening and obeying and doing what He says.

Mercy works by delivering us through warnings, which means doing what we are supposed to do BEFORE the consequences come.

If we do not, then all that is left is the consequences, which is justice-only.

The time for mercy is NOW.  They time for obedience is NOW.

The time to be delivered is NOW.

But Lehi’s family was delivered because they heeded the warnings when they came, not because they waited until Jerusalem was invaded.

If they had waited, it would have been too late.

Now is the time to prepare to meet God.

It pre-echos the urging of Alma 5.

This life is the time to prepare to meet God (Alma 34:32).

If we do not, it will be the same as is always the pattern of those who refuse the Lord: rather than being GATHERED and DELIVERED, there will be SCATTERING and DESTRUCTION.

“Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten” (verse 11).

We have to wake up!  We have to remember!

Lehi said, “O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe” (verse 13).  These “chains of hell” he is talking about is defined in Alma 12:12:

And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

If our hearts are soft, we are given a “greater portion of the word” (understanding of Scriptures, Spirit-tutoring in the Scriptures, and deeper layers of meaning).

If our hearts are hard – if we will not obey – then we are given less.  Why would he give us more, if we do not care about or pay attention to what He has already given?

Why would He ask more of us, if we do not do what He has already commanded?

In the Hebrew, “mysteries” refers to two things: first, the things of God; second, ordinances of God.

So the more we humble ourselves before the Lord, and heed (listen and do!) what the Spirit teaches (instructs, corrects, and guides), then the more soft our hearts will be.  The more soft our hearts are, the more easily He can IMPRESS upon them.

When my house was being built, I carved my initials into my driveway.  It was easy because the cement was wet and soft.  I could not go out there today, a year later, now that the cement is hard and dry, and so very easily carve my name into the cement.  Is it possible?  Yes, I could.  But not in the same way, the same ease as when it was wet and soft.  Now it would be a hard process, rough, and require painful carving the way a flower must feel when I pull off its dead blossoms so that new blossoms can burst forth.  It’s much easier to impress upon something that is soft.

This is Lehi’s call to his children and their families; this is Lehi’s call to us:  be soft, let the Spirit impress upon your hearts, so that the Lord can teach you line upon line, so that you can become the people-of-holiness, so that you can get home safely to Heavenly Father.

He calls out, “Awake! And arise from the dust!” (verse 14)

This is our being lifted up.  As we are sanctified, by His Spirit, and by His atonement, we are changed.  He lifts us up, transforming us from what we were into who we were created to be.  We must shake off the dust from our tears of repentance, and we must exchange our sackcloth for white robes.   This is His work and glory, to bring about the immortality and eternal life of all of us.  It is His work of making us at-one again.

We see the at-one-ness in verse 15:  “the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love”.   I am encircled about in the arms of his love.  This is the embrace, the bringing into His presence.  It is the prodigal son being reunited with his father.  It is the moment of at-one-ness.

In his last words before dying, Lehi repeats all of this in a parallel poem kind of way, emphasizing the tender urging of a “trembling parent” (verse 14):

“And I desire that ye should remember to observe the statutes and the judgments of the Lord; behold, this hath been the anxiety of my soul from the beginning…  My heart hath been weighed down with sorrow from time to time, for I have feared, lest for the hardness of your hearts the Lord your God should come out in the fulness of his wrath upon you, that ye be cut off and destroyed forever;  Or, that a cursing should come upon you for the space of many generations; and ye are visited by sword, and by famine, and are hated, and are led according to the will and captivity of the devil” (verses 16-18).

Rather, Lehi pleads, choose the way of the Savior.  Turn to Him, love Him, serve Him, do what He says “that that these things might not come upon you, but that ye might be a choice and a favored people of the Lord. But behold, his will be done; for his ways are righteousness forever.  And he hath said that: inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence” (verses 19, 20).

This is an important, subtle piece because it again reflects and points out the attribute of mercy the Lord has.

It’s not a pass/fail exam.

“Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land” could read “to the degree that you keep my commandments, you will prosper in the land”.

This is not old-school mad-Jesus Heaven-or-Hell.

This is the mercy of God, that He provides a way, and our choices determine how far along that path we get and how quickly.

He makes it possible for us to return to Heavenly Father, but our choices determine how close we get.

Look, and see –

My mother has always been my mother, but after things like running away (my “Fall”), getting adopted by her made it all legal again.

That made her my mother, but it is our time together, our positive interactions, our choices in taking care of each other – that is what made us friends.

Heavenly Father has always been our Heavenly Father, but the atonement pf the Savior makes my adoption possible.

But it is our time together (scripture study), our interactions (prayer and heeding promptings), our choices in taking care of each other (obedience, covenant-keeping) that makes us friends.

ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father (Romans 8:15).

I will call you friends, for you are my friends, and ye shall have an inheritance with me (D&C 93:45).

This is the embrace of at-one-ness, the work of the atonement.

But we have to do our part.

Because that’s how covenants work.

We know He will keep His promises.

But we have to keep ours.

“And now that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you, that I might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave, arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things” (verse 21).

This is at-one-ment!

Then Lehi sums up his whole plea, repeating the pattern once more so that they might see how it works.

First, what happens when we are not at-one:

“that ye may not come down into captivity; That ye may not be cursed with a sore cursing; and also, that ye may not incur the displeasure of a just God upon you, unto the destruction, yea, the eternal destruction of both soul and body”

And then, rather, how to become at-one:

“Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.  Rebel no more against your brother, whose views have been glorious, and who hath kept the commandments from the time that we left Jerusalem; and who hath been an instrument in the hands of God, in bringing us forth into the land of promise; for were it not for him, we must have perished with hunger in the wilderness; nevertheless, ye sought to take away his life; yea, and he hath suffered much sorrow because of you” (verses 22-24).

The armor of righteousness, the robes of righteousness, the armor of God.

Rebel no more against the prophet, against those that warn you.  Listen, and heed (go and do!).

Keep the commandments because that is HOW the Lord delivers you.

Testify of the Lord working in your life, and the Spirit will testify to their spirit that you are a servant of God (Preach My Gospel, p. 158).

Lehi urges his sons and their families to turn to the Lord and obey His commandments.  He has explained how the commandments are given to protect them, to keep them safe, to teach them to depend on spiritual things.  He has explained how it is through commandments that we are delivered.  He has reminded them of examples of this.  Now he says that Nephi’s example of doing this well and teaching his brothers how to do this is not “for power nor authority over you, but he hath sought the glory of God, and your own eternal welfare” (verse 25).

So again, Nephi is a type pointing to Christ, who has given us commandments that are for our eternal welfare, for the glory of God.

Lehi confronts the murmuring of his sons against Nephi once more:

“And ye have murmured because he hath been plain unto you. Ye say that he hath used sharpness; ye say that he hath been angry with you; but behold, his sharpness was the sharpness of the power of the word of God, which was in him; and that which ye call anger was the truth, according to that which is in God, which he could not restrain, manifesting boldly concerning your iniquities” (verse 26).

The words of God are only “sharp” and difficult and too hard when we are not doing what He says.

It’s only oppressive when it isn’t what we really want.   It’s only oppressive when we are out-of-sync.

That’s why it is “inasmuch”, or to the degree to which you obey, because He is not out to oppress us or make us miserable.  He wants us happy, and He wants us to succeed.  He lets us choose.

When we are “kicking against the goads” or “kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5), it hurts and we are uncomfortable and we do not like it.

But when we submit, and take upon us His equal yoke, designed just for the being we are, then our load is made lighter and we are able to progress forward (Matthew 11:30).

“And it must needs be that the power of God must be with him, even unto his commanding you that ye must obey. But behold, it was not he, but it was the Spirit of the Lord which was in him, which opened his mouth to utterance that he could not shut it” (verse 27).

We are called to listen to the prophets and leaders who teach us, guide us, and correct us.  It is by the Spirit that they speak.

In the same way, we should be filled with the Spirit of the Lord, so that we also testify.  Always, being filled with the Spirit is a call to some kind of sharing, some level of passing-it-on, some type of testifying, whether or not we actually use words.  Receiving the Light and Becoming the Light is all part of the same process.  We are called to be a light unto the world.

We read in Matthew 5:14-16:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

What is interesting about this is how we, collectively, a covenant people of the Temple (a city on a hill), are the light of the world.  We cannot be hidden; we cannot be silenced.   Our primary influence is a collective influence.

But, the only way that can happen, is for us as individuals to shine.

We must shine, even to each other within the church, to our brothers and sisters of the covenant (“all that are in the house”).   We cannot be acting like the world, when we are supposed to be acting like a city-on-the-hill (Temple).  We should be demonstrating attributes of the Savior – goodness, kindness, loving-ness, forgiving-ness, soft-ness, service-ness – unto all those around us.  Not drama, not bickering, not hatefulness, not ugliness.  We should be reflecting the Savior, so that all may glorify our Father-in-Heaven.

And if we do so, even listening to the prophets, doing what the Scriptures say, heeding the promptings of the Spirit, then “ye shall not perish” (verse 28).

Now Lehi is dying, and gives his final blessings to his sons.

He also blesses Zoram, the servant of Laban (the guy who had the records and wouldn’t give them up).  He even thanks him for being a “true friend” to Nephi.  He declares Zoram to be a convert to the covenant “because thou has been faithful, and so they seed shall be blessed… and nothing, save it be iniquity among them… shall harm or disturb their prosperity upon the face of this land forever… if ye shall keep the commandments of the Lord, the Lord hath consecrated this land for the security of thy seed with the seed of my son” (verses 31 and 32).

In this way, the close of the chapter that opens 2 Nephi, we see how the covenant is open even to converts, and that in some way all must convert.  We see being born into the covenant is not enough, but one must be faithful to the covenant.

The Februarians

Have you marked your calendars for the game night event of the leap year?

February 29th.  7pm.  Bartlesville.

Watch for details, and see what Nathan is up to now… besides raising money to buy a very sick toddler the equipment he needs to learn how to walk.

  

Fancy Personalities

In case you don’t know Kirk and Mary, here’s a glimpse into the core of their beings… they are both as fancy as anything!  

They got to pick out new pajamas tonight, and here are the selections:

Mary picked a fur lined Frozen set of pajamas that are softer than anything I have ever felt in my life!

  

And Kirk wanted to be just like Papa playing at the symphony, and picked out some of the fanciest boy footies I have ever seen!  It’s pajamas made to look like a tux! He is so proud of them!

  

They went to bed in giggles, and I could not be happier in this life.

Making Yogurt and Granola

We use whole milk to make our yogurt better, and organic milk to keep hormones given to cows away from my cancer:

 

The first step is the easiest, just letting it cook on low in the crockpot for two and a half hours.

Do you see the mark on Kirk’s face?  That’s from them all sliding down the slide together in one big heap all afternoon yesterday.  The video is on our YouTube page.  Goofy kids.

Anyway, we don’t always have to make vanilla yogurt, but it is a favorite with the kids:

 

We use agave and honey instead of sugar, which is how our bowl full of sugar turned into one giant hardened block, which the kids thought meant they could eat the rest.  This is false.

Once we add vanilla and honey, we unplug the crockpot and let it sit for three more hours.

 

That means we don’t keep taking the lid off to taste it, “just in case”.

If you haven’t made yogurt before, you need some starter to get it going.  We use an organic brand, again to keep hormones out of my cancer, but once you have some you can use the last of your own yogurt to start the next batch and keep it going that way, just like bread starter.  You just have to be sure it has live cultures in it if you want it to work!

 

I mix a 2:1 ratio of the crockpot mixture and the starter yogurt in a bowl separately first, then whisk that back into the crockpot.  I wrap a beach towel around the crockpot (which is off and unplugged), and cover it with another towel.  I leave it overnight to work its magic, and it’s perfect by breakfast.  Leave it at least eight hours, but as many as twelve, depending on how tangy you like your yogurt (the longer the tangy-er).

If you only like thick yogurt, you will need to strain it in morning.  Put a colander in a bowl, and cover it with some cheese cloth.  Pour the yogurt in, and let it sit in the refrigerator for three or four hours.

 

Jar it up after that, or before if you don’t mind a thinner mix, and it’s ready to eat!

We use honey and raw maple syrup in our granola instead of brown sugar, and mix it with oats, sesame seeds, pecans, slivered almonds, chia, flax, and unsweetened coconut.

 

Spread it out on a pan with parchment paper and bake it at 250 for an hour and fifteen minutes, stirring every fifteen minutes.  You can make it looser or chunkier, depending on proportions of oil and syrup to seeds and nuts and grains.

If I start the yogurt between four and five, then it’s ready for the last mixing before bed between ten and eleven.  Then it sits overnight, and is ready for straining by six in the morning.  We need to keep the whey, so we don’t strain, but I jar it up and get it in the fridge by six.  That gives me time to bake the granola before the kids are awake, so that breakfast is ready when they are.

They do like to help with all of it, though, and it is so super easy:

We eat oatmeal most everyday all winter, so they are excited to be “practicing” for our Spring and Summer breakfast!  They also are old enough and big enough to learn so much so quickly, and they love cooking with me in the kitchen.  They were very proud of their yogurt and granola!

 

Those are dates on top, which I always put on top of their breakfast, just because it’s so good for them.  I tell them stories of Israel, and how the Arabs brought the dates when they worked on excavation sites, and how now palm trees grow all around the exposed ruins from the men spitting out their seeds.  I tell them how all the nutrients they need in a day are in a date, and it’s better for them than taking vitamins.  They just think they are getting sweet candy for breakfast, and for some reason think they come from Nathan’s parents’ fig tree – a conversation we clarify Every. Single. Morning.

It feeds them well and healthy-ish for a start to our day, and is cheaper than buying any of it.  Milk can freeze, so I use half a gallon in each batch and freeze the rest for the next batch.  Yogurt can be frozen, too, if you are going to use it in smoothies or something that will cover up the grainy thawed texture.  I freeze mine in ice cube trays, and then use that as my ice cubes for smoothies so that I don’t have to worry about having enough yogurt for my smoothies.

 

 

#LDSConf – 1 Nephi 22

CLICK HERE to read 1 Nephi 22.

This last chapter of the first book of Nephi switches gears one last time, from the Isaiah-ish prophesying in recent chapters back to his own narrating of his experience.

Nephi tells us that when he finished reading these things (scriptures) to his brothers, they came and asked him what it all meant.  Specifically, they asked him whether these lessons learned from the scriptures were physical (tangible in the here and now, as in “temporal”) or spiritual.

Nephi answers that they are both.

Remembering this is critical, and unlocks most everything else we read in scriptures, as well the underlying meaning of our day to day experiences.

He says that the Scriptures are both temporal (historical) and spiritual (likened to us for real-life application), but also explicitly says that all things in the whole entire world have meanings that are both temporal and spiritual.

And, he says, that the understanding of this comes as the Prophet and as the Spirit manifests it to each individual, or makes it known (understood) on an individual basis.

“The things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both temporal and spiritual” (verse 3).

Specifically, Nephi’s family wants to know about those that stayed in Jerusalem when Lehi and Nephi and the others left.

He says, “it appears that the house of Israel, sooner or later, will be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations” (verse 3).

Now-a-days we call this “the lost tribes” of Israel.

These prophesies of Nephi and of Isaiah and Jeremiah and all the Old Testament prophets – they all came true temporally, when Jerusalem was overtaken and the Temple destroyed and covenant people fled for their lives.  But it also became spiritually true, as believers fell away and as covenant people lived amongst the world, and as individuals lost the blessings that come from behaving like a child of the covenant.

“there are many who are already lost from the knowledge… the more part of all the tribes have been led away…” (verse 4).

They have been literally (temporally) led away, and spiritually led away (outside the covenant).

Nephi says, just like the other Old Testament prophets say, these people who have either fallen away from the covenant or were so mixed with the world they were not living as children of the covenant… these people will harden their hearts against God, and against the covenants.  It is this hardening that will lead to their scattering (verse 5).

In the same way, when we soften our hearts toward God, He rushes in with truth and light to gather us and lead us back to Him.

And as we are led back to Him, we are nourished by others (Gentiles) who were born outside the covenant (not born Jews) but now have been adopted into it (verse 6).

And this “nourishment” is the teaching that will restore the knowledge of the covenant, even “unto the making known of the covenants of the Father of heaven unto Abraham…” (verse 9).

This cannot happen without Him revealing Himself (verse 10).  It is by the process, power, and unfolding of personal revelation that God reveals Himself so that we learn who He is.

“Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to make bare his arm in the eyes of all the nations, in bringing about his covenants and his gospel unto those who are of the house of Israel” (verse 11).

And when we receive the full Gospel,we are baptized: “he will bring them again out of captivity” (verse 12).

Then we go to the Temple and make covenants (and remember those already made).  There are many blessings that come from going to the Temple, but two of the primary blessings that lead to the others include:

1.  the gathering of our families: “and they shall be gathered together” (verse 12); and

2.  receiving instruction on who we must become to return to the presence of our Father-in-Heaven:  “gathered together to lands of their inheritance” (verse 12).

This is the process by which we escape bondage, by which we escape captivity, by which our hope becomes testimony, and faith becomes knowledge.

“and they shall be brought out of obscurity and out of darkness; and they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel” (verse 12).

But we must do it His way, after the pattern of the order of the Priesthood as it was given to us.

Everything outside of that, or mocking that, is “abominable”.  Rituals and rites and ceremonies are empty and pointless without the proper authority and the Spirit of the Lord.  This is a perversion of truth, and a misapplication (or misuse) of ordinances (verse 14).  This is when the “proud and they who do wickedly” will be burned, but those who live in righteousness will be saved.

It’s very reminiscent of Passover.

And like the Israelites escaping the oppressive Egyptians, “He will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous” (verse 16).

And so, like Passover, “he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fullness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire.  Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire” (verse 17).

We are in the last days, Nephi says, and this will (temporally, literally) happen on the last day.

This is why we are “Latter-day Saints”:  We are the Church of Christ, but we know that we are in the context of the very last days.  We, the Saints (believers in Jesus Christ), are His church in this day and time.  We are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And because we are His people, He will make a way where there was no way.  The “way” is through the Prophets, the Scriptures.  We know that the “flaming sword” on the path to the tree of life is a symbol of the Prophet, that we must go to Him through His servant, through His prophet.  This is the order it has always been; this is as it has always been.

And living “in order” does make us at-one.

His righteousness makes us at-one.

“And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power” (verse 25).

This is the squashing of his head while he is bruising our heel: that by the atonement, we become righteous.  And our being righteous means we advance the glory of God – it means that the more we become like Him, the more credit He gets for it, so that we are all ever progressing.  We can never catch up to our parents!  I can be a grown-up, and have a good job, and work hard on a space I enjoy and appreciate.  But as I progress and grow up, so does my mother.  I can never catch up.  No matter how grown-up I become, she will always be my mother.

In the same way, the more righteous we become – because it is possible because of the atonement – the more credit He gets for it.

This is our call to repentance, that we might show His plan for our salvation worked.

“And now I, Nephi, make an end; for I durst not speak further as yet concerning these things” (verse 29).

You, he says, just focus on doing what you are supposed to do, and staying out of trouble.

Easier said than done.

But it is possible, Nephi says.

This is his testimony and his teaching: that “if ye shall be obedient to the commandments, and endure to the end, ye shall be saved at the last day” (verse 31).

Baby Food Party

Today the baby was officially cleared from puréed foods, which she has been stuck on for ten months.  She has had no texture and nothing more than stage two baby foods in her cup.  She has been dying for table food, but they wouldn’t let us give it to her until after her palate was closed and her tongue released.

Finally, today was the day!

Alex wanted to celebrate by making her dinner, and all of us eating the same thing.

He and Kirk brainstormed, and came up with sausage and macaroni and cheese and green beans and pudding.

Fabulous.

I used gluten free pasta, and the cheese was organic and homemade.

   

The kids were all more excited about this meal than Nathan and I were, though we tried to be good sports.  They all worked together to cook the meal, and it really was sweet of them.  They were so excited!
  

We had some concern, as they warned us she may have food aversion and not want it or like it, and also prepared us to be ready to assist her if she choked because there just isn’t any room in her throat… but she did so great!  We are still so careful, and she did save up all the chunks to spit out later after playing with them, but she finally figured it out! We were so proud of her!  She cheered and clapped for new stage three foods, and even got down some bits of real green beans and a few bits of pasta with cheese.  She loved it!