WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES

It was a long time ago, but I remember it clearly. A little girl in our ward had just been baptized. It must have taken a lot of courage for her to stand that next day in our testimony meeting. We thought she was going to tell us how glad she was to be baptized, but she seemed to be having a lot of trouble getting out the words. Then in a small quaking voice she said, “I was washed clean, but I already made a mistake.” Her misery was clear. I’m sure you can guess our reaction. “Ahhhh.” We felt for her. She was too young to be so disappointed in herself.

I was just thinking this Sunday morning how easy it is to be despondent and frustrated with ourselves when we make mistakes. Yet as human beings we often find ourselves making them.  I remember one morning when I was thirteen, deciding that I was going to do and say everything right that day. Well, it took me mere seconds to put my foot in my mouth. Aaaargh, I thought, What’s the use. I’ll never get it right!

Now, years later, it seems funny that I thought I could get through a whole day at the age of thirteen and do and say exactly the right things. I still can’t do that even now. In fact, it  occurred to me that maybe the most important message we can give to the children in our lives and maybe one of the most important things we can remember ourselves as children in an eternal sense, is that this life is a growth process. God and Jesus knew we would be making mistakes. That was the whole point of the atonement. In fact, if only perfect people went to heaven, there probably wouldn’t be anyone there.

Further, I have the feeling that our Heavenly Father reacts similarly to the way I did and the rest did in that testimony meeting  when that little girl expressed her disappointment—that he reacts not with anger, but with compassion and love.  Just as the rest of us in the congregation wanted to say to that little eight-year-old, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Mistakes are a part of life and you just may make a few more along the way,” I can’t help but believe that Heavenly Father too, wants us to know that we need to continue moving forward—that we more than likely are not going to get through this life without mistakes—that if we were already perfect, we wouldn’t need to be here, and that most important, His love is unconditional.

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I FORGOT TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE CIGARETTES

I wish I had added in my last blog post that I thought it was super cool to smoke when I was in elementary. That’s because all the movie and TV stars smoked. Also, the commercials and slogans for cigarettes were apparently effective because I can still remember them. “I’d walk a mile for a Camel!” for instance. Are there still Camel cigarettes? Then there were Lucky Strikes with those ladies dressed in cigarette boxes, and Pall Malls which were “smoooooth.” Winstons? They tasted “good like a cigarette should.”  In contrast, there were my teachers in primary and Sunday school and my family who said NO SMOKING. Mormons don’t smoke.  Family and religious training won out over TV and movies. Well, maybe not completely. I did buy candy cigarettes at Nygren’s market which I pretended to smoke on the way home, exhaling slowly for effect.

Can you guess which of these thirteen things are true?

I was challenged to list thirteen things about myself that my Facebook friends might not know.  I listed quite a few but then decided to do a little fabricating here and there just to keep things interesting.  See if you can tell which things are true and which aren’t.

1. When I was three and we still lived in Denmark,  I fell in a canal and was saved by my two-year-old cousin.

2. I have a serious fear or heights and avoid escalators. Elevators are okay unless they’re glass-enclosed. Then I have to crouch down and hide my eyes.

3. I love applesauce and like to mix it in with gravy. I like broccoli with jam.

4. I almost died when I was six or seven due to complications following a tonsillectomy.  The doctor had left a roll of gauze in my throat.

5. I once had a puppet and book shop where my family and I put on puppet shows for birthday parties. One summer my kids and I put on shows at our local libraries.

6. I majored in chemistry but became a writer.

7.  I sucked my thumb for an outrageously long time—well into elementary. It was so hard to stop that to this day I empathize with people who are trying to quit smoking. I mean my thumb did not even contain nicotine. (As far as I know, anyway)

8. I do a great imitation of Betty Boop.

9. I was the height I am now, 5ft. 10, in 3rd grade.

10. My first published story was called “Tall.”

11. I served in “the Disneyland mission” and gave out copies of the Book of Mormon on the “It’s a Small World” ride.

12. I hated to babysit so much when I was a teenager, that I decided I’d better not have children.

13. My husband and I got engaged after we’d only known each other for two weeks.

Did you guess which ones are true? I heard the best liars slip the false in with the true. So ha ha ha, got ya!  I did fall in a canal, but it was a Dutch, not a Danish canal.  My family’s from Holland, not Denmark. And my cousin, John, was actually more like two and a half. He couldn’t swim yet, but he did make such a racket that he got me some help. Okay, I’ m kind of just blobbing this all together. So numbers two through five are true except for the with jam part on number three.  Number six is only partially true. I did become a writer, but no way did I major in chemistry. I didn’t even attempt that major.  I did try out three or four other majors  until I finally remembered I’d always liked to diagram sentences and switched to English and creative writing. Seven and eight are unfortunately true, but not nine. I’ve never been 5 ft. 10. I only grew to be  5 ft. 7 and reached that height in eighth grade, not third. It’s true that my first published story was called “Tall,” however. I wrote several more teen and children’s stories for magazines along with articles and even a few books. As far as doing missionary work in Disneyland, I did serve in Anaheim, but didn’t make it to Disneyland while I was there. I had gone to Disneyland about ten years before that—the year after it opened. Yes, I’m that old. And last, my husband and I waited for a whole three weeks before we got engaged. That was over forty years ago. Obviously, I changed my mind about having children. We have three great daughters and one fantastic son. Our children were smart enough to marry lovely and very smart people and now we have thirteen WONDERFUL and GENIUS grandchildren whom I love to tend. And yes, it used to make me nauseous as well when grandparents said things like that. Now I say this stuff. I may even get one of those obnoxious bumper stickers. Thanks for listening.

How do you respond to that?

Apparently, our seven-year-old twin grandsons didn’t exactly act like angels in church this past Sunday, and my daughter and son-in-law weren’t too happy with them.  They tried to think of something they could do that would “inspire” the boys to behave better. Remembering that their sons have really been  into earning money lately and have been working hard to save up quarters, they decided that an effective punishment might be to charge a fee. “We’ve been thinking about this,” their dad said, “and from now on you will need to pay a fine of a whole dollar every time you act up, starting today.”

H, who we’re all guessing will be an accountant someday,  immediately wailed his objection. It was something like, “Noooooo, anything but my money!”

O was more pensive. “Oooookay,” he finally said. “I guess I’ll have to give you a dollar then. But I was saving up my money to give it to the poor.”

Mom and Dad looked at each other and sighed. Back to the drawing board.