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Learning Curves of Serving in the Church

I have wondered a little about posting such a personal article on a public blog, but I have decided that there are good reasons to do so. First, of course, is feeling that MM is an online family. There are differences of opinion, but we respect and admire each other. That makes it a safe place to share our thoughts and yearnings and learning curves. Second, while I wrote this in the first person, there are universal lessons we each can learn. I believe my experiences are representative of the situations we each face, and the joys and sorrows that are inherent in serving in the Church.

I believe the calling structure in the Church is divinely appointed. I believe that most of the time callings are extended and released based on inspiration, not desperation. (There are some exceptions, but this post isn ?t about those exceptions, so please don ?t go there.)

I have held many callings. I have always been glad to serve, to be of use to the Lord. Some callings I have had have been more enjoyable than others; some more challenging. At times I have gladly welcomed my release, and at other times I have been saddened to leave one calling even as I welcomed the opportunity for another. However, never before last year have I mourned a release. I went through a literal grieving process that took almost a month for me to work through completely. Every calling (except prophet, apostle, and patriarch) comes with a built-in release clause. I know that. I agree with that. But as I worked through my loss, I learned some things last March, and during this past year, that I had not previously comprehended fully.

This past week has been a time for memories and gratitude for lessons learned. A year ago this past weekend I was released as our ward ?s YW Pres after 3.5 years (+ 1 year as counselor). I had never held a calling as long, nor enjoyed a calling as much, as I did that one. I loved the YW; I loved the calling. This bittersweet time is emphasized for me because last week our branch, in which we had been assigned to serve for 1 year, was discontinued. I am, once again, displaced out of YW, adrift for a time without a calling. But this time I am more balanced because I remember what I learned this past year.

Last March, part of my struggle and part of my learning curve came because I did not receive a new calling for 10 weeks. The Bishop assured me there was a calling for me; he just wasn ?t sure of the timing. As this calling limbo ? continued indefinitely, I began to get antsy. I thought I needed a calling to give me a new focus, to help me complete my letting go of my former beloved calling. I began to chafe a little — why would the Lord not put to work someone who was willing, able, and anxious to serve?! Every time I decided to approach the Bishop about this, the Spirit constrained me to wait. Ray kept telling me to enjoy the break, to realize it was a gift. Wow, that was hard!

But I learned some valuable lessons throughout this entire experience, and this weekend as I remember those opportunities, I am overcome with gratitude for the unexpected blessings and the absolute knowledge that came with this learning curve.

  • The Lord truly knows and loves me. He rejoices and laughs with me. He mourns and cries with me. And He literally and lovingly buoys me up when I simply cannot continue on my own.
  • The peace the Comforter bestows is a real and sustaining power. Just as a soft, warm blanket wraps around me in comfort, the Holy Ghost quite literally can encircle me in love and peace and security.
  • The Lord will give promptings and prepare me for difficult changes or challenges. There have been times when I might not have recognized these feelings for what they were, but there were also times when my need was great that these promptings were strong and unmistakable, and they helped prepare me to be steadfast and immovable when faced with difficulties.
  • The temple is a hallowed haven of peace and comfort and eternal perspective. When all else fails, going home ? to the temple is enough to get me through the toughest times.
  • Answers and reassurances surely come. When necessary, they will come in almost a voice ? whispered reassurances of acceptable sacrifices, and in the literal words of a temple prayer.
  • Even when I know without doubt that it is the right time to be released, that the right person is called in my stead, and that it is time to move on, it is okay to still struggle with it, to go through a grieving process to come to terms with it. It is not a negative reflection of me. It is okay! Heavenly Father understands my need to work through these feelings.
  • Heavenly Father knows what will help me learn and grow, and what will help me in the future. He knows what will sustain me through difficult times. I know there were 2 main reasons I served so long as the ward YW Pres: first, to help me focus on serving others during some very challenging personal difficulties (job loss, financial struggles, foster son challenges, extra people living with us) and second, to give me experience and confidence and knowledge of the YW program and purpose to aid me when called as the only YW leader in the branch 8 months later.
  • The best way to get over ? a release or challenge is to look outside myself and help others. I do not need a calling in order to serve. Focusing on noticing someone whom I could help on a regular basis filled my need to give and serve others, and to feel that I was accomplishing something that was worthwhile.
  • Patience is a difficult but important trait to learn and internalize. The moments I am able to capture this characteristic mold me into a better, more Christ-like person.
  • An important aspect of believing and trusting Christ is to let go of my perceived best timing ? scenarios, and truly allow His timing to be my timing. This is part of humbly saying, Not my will, but Thine be done. ? It isn ?t easy to do, but even the attempt brings blessings!
  • After being in calling limbo for 10 weeks, I was even more grateful for the opportunity to teach RS for 6 months before being called to serve in the branch. And after serving most of my life in Primary / YW / youth SS, and after my most recent 7 straight years of serving in Primary / YW, I finally realized that I truly love RS!

The most deeply rooted lesson I learned this past year has to do with experiencing a change of heart. I realized how the Lord helps us grow and stretch and become all that we can be. Sometimes He asks us to do things that aren ?t too challenging for us at the time; other times He asks things that we feel are impossible (or at least difficult) to accomplish. I have learned that we always end up BECOMING better, stronger, more resilient, more compassionate, more understanding of each other ? as we are obedient and as we serve. He helps us become more than we can be on our own. The Lord doesn ?t often let us sit idly, or live on cruise control, without something to persistently motivate us to continue to improve and grow and become better. I am grateful for these opportunities, even though they often come with fear and trepidation.

A friend shared the analogy of how, as she serves in her callings, she is like the stones of the Brother of Jared that the Lord touched and made to shine. That really resonated with me because I often feel like rough rock, hewn from the mountain, rough, unpolished, raw. Yet when the Lord touches us, He is able to bring forth light, to use us to accomplish His work and glory, to make of us something that is smoothed and brightened and amazing.

We can shine! We can be an influence for good when we serve. We can be examples. It takes time, patience, faith, hope, love, long-suffering, and His help to become enlightened and to make this change of heart, mind, and soul. It is in realizing this process and progression that we internalize and learn the lessons of being polished and changed, and becoming more like Him.

In the process of becoming, we emerge polished and brilliant. We are better than we used to be. We are forever radiant and changed because of our willingness to serve Him and His children.

{ 81 comments… add one }
  • spitfire March 31, 2008, 6:32 pm

    Great article!!! And so very true. I think those callings that stretch us the most, cause us the most “mourning” after we are released. But often, it is years later that we truly appreciate a calling we have served in.

    I’m currently the RS President…trust me if this were a popularity contest, I would NOT be in this calling. I guess the Bishopric labored for quite some time to find the appropriate (not right) person to meet the needs of the ward. I.E. I wasn’t a shoe in, was told by the Bishop that all the women had been discussed (i.e. I was not one of them), said he came into the church & was “hit upside the head” & knew I was to be the RS President. It’s a good thing I sit in the front of the chapel as I could not see those sisters who DID NOT sustain me. Long story short, I’m a RN, which how I became one is a story in itself….well guess what my 1st Compassionate Service need was??? A double organ transplant!!! Oh, yeah..talk about meal restrictions & needs…unbelievable, but I was grateful I had the clinical understanding to guide the service that was needed & not anticipated!! But, suffice to say, we have had many health issues in our ward that have never existed before. I may not be the spiritual leader of the year, but I humbly believe there are few that could fit the need right now. We have not had 4 deaths in 20 years & we had 4 in 3 weeks!! And 3 of 4 required that I support family members to withdraw health care measures & move towards hospice…guess who is also a Palliative Care/Hospice RN??? Some may know I recently underwent a form of reconstruction from a huge breast biopsy…essentially a plastic surgery procedure, a subject rarely discussed in church, in fact NO ONE knows I had the surgery, except you gals! Had a family move in this weekend. 1st thing out of the sister’s mouth, “I need the name of a great plastic surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction”, she had just had a mastectomy & was starting chemo….and I will tell you that 6 months ago, I had not even considered reconstruction for myself!!! How often can a RS President HIGHLY recommend a PS???? Enough about me…Please, please know I am not elevating myself or patting myself on the back..I’m just speaking to the LOVE that the Lord has for his children, the kind of love that puts the appropriate person in the calling at the right time.

    What I’m trying to say is, we are all in callings at times for a reason. I have learned, the hard way, that many times I have passed judgement on those in certain callings that I did not perceive they even had a clue. I’m ashamed to say that, but realize that they were there to meet the needs if for but one individual & perhaps it was themselves.

    I love your article & your courage to post your personal experiences…the Tender Mercies of the Lord will always prevail, noy only for those we serve but for us as well…Thank You for sharing your insights, truths & perspectives….

  • facethemusic March 31, 2008, 7:01 pm

    Lovely article, Michelle!
    I can honestly say that I LOVE my callings right now. I’m in Young Women and I teach Sunday School for all the youth (we have such a small group that I have anyone from 12 on up). Working with the youth is what I love the most, so I’m a really happy camper. I know that I’ll go through the same grieving process you did, whenever I’m released.

    I found one paragraph rather curious though.

    Even when I know without doubt that it is the right time to be released, that the right person is called in my stead, and that it is time to move on, it is okay to still struggle with it, to go through a grieving process to come to terms with it. It is not a negative reflection of me. It is okay! Heavenly Father understands my need to work through these feelings.

    So, did you actually feel guilty for having a hard time with your release? It almost sounds like you thought it was a bad thing to love your calling so much that you wouldn’t want to leave it.
    Personally, I think it probably makes the Savior swell with joy to have his servants love their calling so much they actually grieve after leaving it.
    If there’s anything to feel guilty about, it’s jumping up and down in glee for being released from a calling. Been there,done that. Guilty as charged!!! :devil:

  • Ray March 31, 2008, 7:14 pm

    Wow, spitfire! Those who don’t see the inspiration in most callings need to read your comment and re-evaluate their assumptions. Thanks for sharing that.

  • agardner April 1, 2008, 9:50 pm

    Thanks for the article, Michelle! Very timely for me.

    I see myself as a RS or YW person, and yet I am ALWAYS serving in Primary!! At times I’ve been very frustrated about it, but I know it is where I am needed, especially now in my current ward.

    I was married for about 6 months when I was called to teach Primary, followed shortly by primary pianist, and then a counselor in the presidency.

    We moved and I did work in music callings and RS for a year or so, and then:

    Primary president
    Primary chorister

    Then we moved again and within two weeks I was called to be:

    Primary pianist, then
    Primary chorister (current calling)

    If I’m going to serve in Primary, chorister is definitely the place to be! But I must admit I have struggled as I have felt that my talents and abilities lie elsewhere. I think the Lord is trying to teach me something (like to love Primary, ya think???). Actually, I do love pirmary, it’s just that I’ve been there a lot!!

    Since I’ve been married (I don’t count my single adult years since all of those callings were in RS except a few months as Sunbeam teacher which was interesting!), I’ve served 6 months in YW, 18 months in RS/ward music, and 8 years in primary. And I don’t see myself as a “kid” person at all! I mean, I love my own kids, but I’m not particularly rushing out to teach preschool or elementary AT ALL!

    My dh, the counselor over primary, tells me they really need me (I can see that they indeed do) and that there will be no release any time soon. So I’m just enjoying our wonderful songs that I get to teach this year and making the best of it!

  • davidson April 2, 2008, 1:37 pm

    James Taylor has an old song that says, “Shower the people you love with love; show them the way that you feel. Things are gonna be much better if you only will.” I’ve taken it as a personal philosophy. It’s a little awkward and uncomfortable, but I have decided that every time I feel love and admiration for somone, I’m going to tell them. So here goes.

    How the Lord must love you, Michelle, and I love you, for being so willing to serve that it ACHES when the opportunity to serve is gone. What a beautiful example. Think about the disciple whom Jesus loved and WHY Jesus felt that way about him. His only desire was to bring souls unto Christ, and Jesus told Peter it was a better desire than the desire Peter expressed to come speedily unto Him in His kingdom. I am certain the Lord feels that way about you, Michelle. You could be aptly termed a “disciple whom the Lord loveth.” I am thrilled to have you for a friend. I think it is a test for advanced disciples, to have the great desire to serve and not be able to serve. Our aging prophets have dealt with that. Truman Madsen says, “Sometimes the calling is not to be called. Sometimes the calling is to give less than we CAN give or WANT to give. Sometimes the calling is only to wait.” I’ve probably told all of you that a billion times (can’t remember), but his quote had meaning for me during a difficult time. You are proving faithful and obedient through yet another test, the test of giving less than you can give or want to give. I read in the Ensign about a stake president who was in a serious car accident and sustained multiple injuries and nearly lost his life. He was released from his calling as stake president. He said the release was far more difficult to bear than the injuries. You are not alone.

    Spitfire, I so love and appreciate you for your gospel maturity. It takes discipline to recognize and silence the discouraging messages Satan is sure to send about the rightness of a call. Self-doubt is stifling in a leadership calling. Those who focus too much on their own insecurities in a calling are wasting energies that could be better used to serve selflessly. I love the fact that you see and even know the inspiration in your own calling! I love that! It does sound like you are the perfect person, and that isn’t arrogance; that is sweet truth and the testimony of inspiration from the Father concerning meeting real needs. I assure you that you are “popular” with the Savior, the only popularity that counts at all. I’m also sure these members of your ward whom you have helped so much have recognized and been grateful for the inspiration in your being called to be their president, and I’m certain other members of the ward are recognizing it too. You could also be aptly termed a “disciple whom the Lord loveth.” I am also thrilled to have you for a friend.

    Agardner, I love you, too. It is so much easier to serve well in a calling we are thrilled about receiving than it is to serve when we would rather be somewhere else. That is also a test of discipleship (which you are passing with flying colors!) I see your faithful obedience. I know you are tempted to think your work in the Church doesn’t matter much. I’ve probably told this story a zillion and six times, and if I have, feel free to not read it. I remember being three years old and sitting on the front row of Jr. Sunday School, crying because my mother had left me there. A man with dark hair wearing a suit (later learned he was the Jr. Sunday School president) scooped me up in his arms and took me to the doorway of the room. He held me tight and swayed back and forth with me, his beautiful tenor voice singing softly in my ear. He was singing along with the children in Jr. Sunday School:

    “I think when I read that sweet story of old, when Jesus was here among men,
    how He called little children like lambs to His fold; I should like to have been with Him then.
    I wish that His hands had been placed on my head, that His arms had been thrown around me,
    That I might have seen His kind look when He said, “Let the little ones come unto me.
    Yet still to His footstool in prayer I may go, and ask for a share in His love,
    and if I thus earnestly seek Him below, I shall see Him and hear Him above.”

    It was the combination, I think, of being scared, having strong arms wrapped around me, then feeling safe hearing those beautiful words about the Savior sung in my ear that made that experience so memorable. I don’t remember anything else about being three years old, but I loved the Savior from that day forward and knew He loved me. That testimony gained at three years of age has sustained me through some very difficult things.

    A few years ago, I returned to my mother’s ward to the same old ward building I attended as a three year-old. The room and the chairs have shrunk, but other than that, everything looked and felt the same, and I remembered, in that silent little old room, the testimony I gained of the Savior through the music of the church and through strong arms wrapped around me. I walked down the hall to the chapel. I remembered the past days of reverence in that chapel. We used to attend Primary after school on Wednesdays. We’d get off the bus at the church, but as we entered the chapel, we were expected to walk and speak softly or not at all, and we did. The reverent feeling was prominent because of the pianist who played the Primary songs quietly for prelude. I can still hear her playing “Reverently, Quietly” and “The Chapel is a Sacred Place.” Wednesdays were sacred days in that old chapel. I felt that God was in that room. Somehow we have lost that, the ability to feel real reverence and quiet awe, and I mourn its passing. Music was crucial to my ability to experience real reverence, and I have never forgotten that either.

    Because it was a Fast Sunday in my mother’s ward that day, I bore my testimony about how that Jr. Sunday School President and the song about Jesus had calmed my three year-old fears and helped me to know and feel His love at an early age. I spoke about the great reverence I felt in that very chapel, and how music had been the catalyst for that experience. The woman who had played the piano those many years ago was in that congregation that day, and she had tears in her eyes. She is currently the Primary chorister. Later that day she had the children in her Primary sing “I Think When I Read That Sweet Story of Old,” and I could tell she had a new perspective about the difference she could make in the life of a child. I learned after Sacrament meeting was over that the Jr. Sunday School president from my past hadn’t been in the chapel that day, but Sacrament meeting was being piped into his home because he was too old and sick to attend church, and he really wanted to hear the meetings. He died a year later. I am glad he got to hear how his love and kindness to a three year-old girl forty-three years ago cemented the Savior’s love in my heart.

    Do you remember any particular lesson you were taught by any particular Primary teacher you had?
    If you are like me, you probably don’t remember a single lesson or a single teacher teaching it; it’s kind of a warm blur. But my guess is that the music of the Church and the lessons taught in it were planted in your heart at an early age. I bet you can still sing the Primary songs you learned as a child. Agardner, if I were a bishop, which I will never be, I would take my very best, my most spiritual people in the ward and call them to lead and play music in the ward. It is such a shame to me that you don’t know how much good you’ve done (and will continue to do) for years and years to come. You never know the influence you have, but because of my own experience, I know you are making a tremendous impact. You are building testimony in children that will sustain them for the good and awful things their futures might hold. They need you in a very real way. God bless you, sweet Agardner, for making a huge difference in the lives of vulnerable children. I salute you and love you. Keep doing good.

    Long comment, but I had to tell you. I am so grateful for good and faithful friends here, and I do love you.

  • Michelle D April 2, 2008, 2:47 pm

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I have a lot to say and answer, so I’ll post twice.

    Davidson, this is why we need you at MM! Who cares if you are “too Molly Mormon” than some or others might get offended at times?! You are in tune with the Spirit, and you have a love for your fellowmen that is heartfelt and sincere. I had to fight back tears as I read your comment!

    Wow, I wish I had known that Truman Madsen quote last year!!!!

    Agardner, my mom served in Pri for about 25 years (give or take; I will have to ask her for an exact time frame) — starting as pianist when she graduated from Pri at 12! I don’t remember her having any other callings while I was growing up. As much as she enjoyed it most of the time, she also had times of burn out. She was in Pri when they instituted Sharing Time. She was in Pri when they started the Sacrament Meeting program outlines as they are now. She still talks about “her Sunbeams” (especially when one of them left on a mission or got married) even though all of her groups of kids are all long grown-up by now! So try to remember that as hard as it is to serve in one organization for such a long time, your influence and testimony and love of the Savior will have a lasting impact on many generations! It is a good thing and a blessing to many to serve where you are needed. Hold onto that! Besides, you get to be in Pri with your girls. That can be good and bad, but it’s mostly fun!

    FTM, I’m jealous of your callings with the youth! I understand how hard it will be when you are eventually released! And I also have had a few of those guilty “glad that calling’s over now” moments… oops.

    Spitfire, what an amazing story. Thanks for sharing it. You are doing an amazing job of meeting the needs of those in your ward. How wonderful to know beyond doubt that the Lord knew what those needs would be and called the right person to be RS Pres at this time! As for popularity, I don’t know anyone who is lining up praying for a turn at that calling! lol

    It’s important not to judge others as they serve. There are a lot of eye-opening realizations when one serves in a calling — never realizing before what it really took to be a Pri teacher or counselor, or a YW pres, or a youth SS teacher, or a RS chorister…. As YW Pres I certainly became more tolerant of previous youth leaders who would spring last minute activities or “need to bring” items on parents — occasionally, those things happen DESPITE best intentions and best well-laid plans. And I definitely learned to delegate! A good youth leader is a facilitator, allowing the youth to plan and be in charge of their own activities and classes. This is their training ground for future Church leadership, and if the adults do it all… the kids only learn that someone else will pick up the slack. It is THEIR program and the adults are only there to guide and direct and to show by example, to help bring them to Christ and to strengthen their families.

    … Okay, sorry, that is obviously a strongly held belief! Didn’t mean to go off on a tangent!

    FTM, I will answer your question about the guilt separately because I believe it deserves to be addressed in depth.

  • Michelle D April 2, 2008, 6:01 pm

    Okay, so this took a while to type because I was interrupted for important things like kids, homework, laundry, dinner, babysitting a friend’s kids, etc…

    So, did you actually feel guilty for having a hard time with your release? It almost sounds like you thought it was a bad thing to love your calling so much that you wouldn’t want to leave it.

    The short answer is yes and no. No, I have never thought it was a bad thing to love your calling and not want to leave it. And yes, I felt some guilt for having a hard time with being released. I am a queen of guilt trips.

    Some perspective: When I was called as a YW counselor, my youngest was 4 months old and my oldest was 14. (When I was released, they were nearly 5 and nearly 19.) The current oldest YW had been in YW for just 2 months at that time. During the 4.5 years I served in YW, we saw a low of 5 active YW and a high of 14. A few of them were Beehives when I was called and Laurels when I was released. Most of the YW didn’t remember any other YW leaders, as most of them “aged up” into YW during my tenure. I gladly and wholeheartedly poured my heart and soul into serving those YW, and loved nearly every minute of it for the entire 4.5 years. That is a long time! Basically 1/8 of my entire life.

    Most of those with whom I served in YW when I was Pres had young kids (younger than mine), worked full time (I didn’t at the time), had recurring car problems, and / or had hubbies in school. I also had a van and they didn’t. When there was a stake or tri-stake activity 20-40 min away, rather than have up to 14 parents drive their kids separately, we would carpool with the YM and YW. Our stake requests / requires at least 1 YW leader, 1 YM leader and 1 bishopric member from each ward to attend most stake activities to help with chaperoning and any possible problems that might arise. For the above reasons, I was the leader who went most often to the stake dances (usually tri-stake in our area), girls camp, youth conference, firesides, service opportunities, etc. Then there were Sunday lessons, weekly activities, and youth temple trips (2 hours away, one way, 3-4 a year). I spent a lot of time with the youth!

    Then add in actually enjoying participating in ward council, presidency meetings, stake leadership meetings, etc. And for quite some time being the longest-tenured organization leader in our ward, as other positions changed leaders — some more than once. (ie: There were 3 Pri Pres and 4 YM Pres who served while I was YW Pres. Some of these changes were because of moves and other such things; none were for bad leadership reasons.)

    And then there are “my” YW themselves. I was a motivating factor for one who was less active to start coming for a while. She came to me for advice and help on a regular basis. Another of them (who happens to be the best friend of my oldest son) started calling me Mama D (and Ray, of course, became Papa D) and many of the YW picked it up. (Our own kids often call us Mama and Papa instead of Mom and Dad, following the example of the YW!) Almost every one of the YW were anxious to share with their leaders news like making honor band, getting a part in a school play, etc. Most of them greeted me and the other leaders with a hug on a regular basis.

    It was heartwrenching to say good bye to those things, for me and for many of those with whom I served as they were released over the years I served.

    And one of the biggest reasons I struggled to accept my difficulty with my release… I had the opportunity to be in the temple with my YW presidency (and Ray) 2 days before we were released. I had known for 5 gut-wrenching days that I would be released; my 1st counselor had known for 2 days that she had accepted the call to be the YW Pres. In the temple, searching for peace and acceptance, I received an indelible answer of comfort and assurance. If I had heard an actual voice or if the Savior Himself had reached out and embraced me, I could not have known more clearly that my efforts, time, and sacrifice were acceptable. I had been receiving promptings for 3 months that I would be released; I didn’t know exactly when, but I knew it would be before girls camp that summer. For many such reasons, I KNEW without question that it was the right time for me to be released, the right time for my couns to be pres, the right time for me to move on to another growth opportunity. And yet I still struggled for over 2 more weeks to come to terms and complete peace with it! My guilt came because I undeniably KNEW it was right but I still struggled to come to a full acceptance of my grief at being released. I unreasonably and unrealistically thought that such amazing knowledge and answers “should” have made the process easier.

    Basically, my learning curve progression went from anguish (But I don’t *want* to leave “my” YW…) to grief to sorrow to guilt to fear (of being forgotten, of not being needed, of being unappreciated…) to acceptance to complete resolution to peace. Ray says I quickly gained an intellectual acceptance and peace, progressed to a spiritual acceptance and peace, and finally found emotional acceptance and peace.

    At times it was a harsh learning curve! But (despite the length of this explanation!) the emphasis is now on the lessons I learned and the blessings I received at that time and during this past year. I absolutely know that I was a good YW Pres, though not perfect by any means. (And it is *huge* for me not to question that at all. I usually struggle with unrealistic perfectionist tendencies and am my own worst critic.) I know I touched lives and made a difference. I helped those YW come unto Christ and strengthened desires to develop their own testimonies. They know that I know the truth of the doctrines of the gospel. They know I love them.

    Throughout this whole process, I have learned more than I ever thought possible about myself, my strengths, my testimony, and my reasons for serving in the Church. And as hard as it was, in retrospect I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Ray April 2, 2008, 6:02 pm

    My wife said, “Okay, so this took a while to type because I was interrupted for important things like kids, homework, laundry, dinner, babysitting a friend’s kids, etc…”

    No, babe, it took a while to type because it is LOOOOOOOOONG!! :bigsmile:

  • facethemusic April 2, 2008, 6:02 pm

    LOVE James Taylor— great song!!!!
    And Davidson– it’s SOOOO awesome to have you back. Your post is exactly why we around here love YOU so much!!!
    That story about your expeirence in primary as a 3 year old is SO beautiful. What a wonderful memory!!

  • Michelle D April 2, 2008, 6:20 pm

    Okay, anyone want to enlighten me on how to do the block quotes and any of those other things that look simple but don’t quite work how they seem they should?!

  • facethemusic April 2, 2008, 7:26 pm

    Right above where you type a response there’s a string of grey boxes.

    b i link b-quote etc, etc.
    b stands for boldtype
    i stands for italics
    you can include a link to another site with “link”

    b-quote is how you quote something
    I have NO idea what the rest is– I’m sure Alison will enlighten us

    All you do is highlight whatever you want to make bold, put in italics, etc, then go up to the grey boxes and click on whichever one you want.

  • facethemusic April 2, 2008, 7:30 pm

    testing to figure out what the other ones do….

    happy happy happy

    happy happy happy — OH!! “img” stands for image– so I guess we can add pictures????

      happy happy happy
      happy happy happy
  • happy happy happy
  • happy happy happy

    happy happy happy — hmmm–“closed tags” didn’t do anything

  • facethemusic April 2, 2008, 7:34 pm

    Interesting… the ul, ol, and li didn’t seem to do anything either

    And look– we didn’t really hijack the thread too much, either.
    It’s “Learning Curves of Posting on Mormon Momma” :tooth:

  • facethemusic April 2, 2008, 7:45 pm

    Hmmmm… the picture isn’t showing on my computer. Just a box with a red “x” in it and the description I wrote of it. But I think that has something to do with MY computer. This happens to me alot with images even when others can see them. Can any of you see it?

  • Michelle D April 2, 2008, 8:14 pm

    Hey thanks, FTM! And I totally laughed at your “Learning Curves of Posting on Mormon Momma” line. That’s perfect! I can’t see the picture either, so it’s not just your computer.

    But I’m still confused ‘cuz that’s what I did to quote you but it shows up as

    in my post, not highlighted as I expected. Do you have to put a quote in quotation marks before clicking the grey b-quote box?

    And I gotta try that “del” button for myself… happy happy happy Will it work for me?? I can’t tell before adding my comment. Is there a way to preview your comment before posting?

    Alison, enlighten us!

  • Michelle D April 2, 2008, 8:18 pm

    Yay, the del button works as expected! The b-quote highlighted too much. Boo! Actually, I typed in “

    ” and it highlighted that part and the rest of the paragraph. Hmmm…

    Hey, FTM, try posting the picture with the Html format instead of text. Will it work that way?

  • facethemusic April 2, 2008, 9:40 pm

    That WAS the Html format.

  • Michelle D April 2, 2008, 10:20 pm

    Of course, FTM…

    Is it time for a new post called Experimenting — or Learning Curves of Posting at MM — or MM Posting 101 ?!?!

    Okay, Alison, time to rescue us — or at least me as a relative newbie here!

  • jendoop April 3, 2008, 6:21 am

    Thanks for your article. I wasn’t going to post because I still struggle with my recent calling change. My release from being YW pres. was the most painful I’ve ever had. My husband was called into the branch presidency, the moment he was called I knew I needed to be released. That didn’t make it much easier. I’ve had every kind of emotion over it, to the point my DH had to tell me to put my big girl pants on and get over it. I’m better now but at the time I felt I was being asked to happily walk away from the intense love and fun of Young Womens without a blink. I wish there were some way (maybe there is) for the calling transition to be more smoothly made. My DH was given his calling 20 minutes before they sustained him in sacrament meeting. If we are truly devoted to serving the Lord and thus truly love those we serve why are we expected to drop one hat and pick up another within moments?

    How VERY grateful I am to have the priviledge of serving in God’s church, to be a part of his holy work. To learn more of him by doing my best to serve as he would if he were here despite my less than Christ-like attitude that accompanies the changes.

  • Michelle D April 3, 2008, 9:44 am

    I am so glad you did comment, jendoop! I TOTALLY understand your emotional upheaval!! It is hard to suddenly “turn off” the love of the YW, the fun, the chatter, the excitement over life that teenagers have! How do you tell your heart to just stop caring about them? You can’t. You just have to switch gears a little.

    One of the things I had to learn was how to offer support, encouragement, and answer questions from the new pres without overstepping my bounds, giving too much unsolicited advice, and treating the YW as if I was still a full part of their activities/etc. This is HER presidency, not mine. I am no longer entitled to the revelation for how to help the YW and run the organization. I grieved the loss of ALL aspects of being YW Pres. But the perspective from where I am now is good. I can see how much good I did, I still get hugs and news from many of the YW, and the Pres is AWESOME! She has her place in the hearts of these YW and that is how it should be. And I was able to serve in YW in the branch.

    Personally, I think calling transitions are easier when you are being released because you are needed elsewhere. To be released because of a spouse’s calling or when you don’t receive a new calling for a while is much harder! I don’t know if there is a way to make it much easier.

    Ray actually was released from a calling instead of me. (It might have been me being released as YW Pres 2 years earlier than I was.) Our previous bishop, about halfway through his 7+ years as bishop, really focused on not calling both spouses to highly time- and responsibility- intensive callings at the same time. During the time I was YW Pres, Ray served in the bishopric, next as Ward Mission Leader, then as Pri teacher, and finally Pri pianist/ward organist/choir director. Two weeks after my release, he was called to the high council. I feel like it was his turn to serve in leadership! I think many wards and stakes are more aware of the need not to overburden families with time-intensive callings at the same time. Which is why, IMO, jendoop, you knew that you’d be released when your DH was called into the branch presidency. (Of course there can be exceptions in branches and smaller wards where the number of callings exceed the number of people available to fill them!)

    Like you said, jendoop, it is a privilege to serve in His work. I hold onto the fact that I know that the Lord knows I will serve where He needs me to serve at any particular time, even when it’s hard to let go of a previous calling. And now that we are back from the branch, I am laying mental bets on how long it will be before I get a calling in the ward. I’m pretty sure it won’t be 10 weeks like last time! πŸ˜‰

  • agardner April 3, 2008, 11:40 am

    I can’t think of a time when we’ve both been in heavy leadership callings at the same time. When we met, he was EQ president and I was a counselor in RS (single’s ward). Then I served as a teacher in YW while he was primary pianist.

    I guess the closest we got was one time when he was a counselor in the bishopric and I was a counselor in Primary.

    When I was Primary president, they released him as ward clerk so that we both wouldn’t be overloaded. During that time, he served as ward choir director and I think that was the best time in his life. Poor guy, he is always busy in church. He went from EQ pres, to WML, to counselor in bishopric, to ward clerk, to choir director, to counselor in bishopric, to counselor in bishopric again (these aren’t all in the same ward, obviously). He’s had a few little stints of playing the piano in primary and stuff like that for a few months after we move into a new ward, but those moments don’t last very long for him, unfortunately.

    Michelle, when I first your post, I thought you meant that Ray did all of those things AT THE SAME TIME while you were YW president. I was thinking – how is that not both being in leadership at the same time??? I was picturing poor Ray greeting people as a bishopric member/WML, then running to play the organ, then jumping up to conduct the meeting, etc. I was thinking WOW, these people are even more amazing than I knew! πŸ™‚

  • jendoop April 3, 2008, 12:26 pm

    I didn’t get a transition because my 1st counselor was the new pres and had a handle on things, didn’t ask for help or info, just wanted the books.

    It was good to have spiritual confirmation that I should be released because it wasn’t a given in our inner city branch. My DH and I served concurrently as YW and YM pres with many youth the only members in their families, thus needing tons of support = rides. While in those callings we also had a surprise baby (#4) while very far from extended family. Looking back I don’t know how we did it. But I’m glad we did. You can’t go on like that forever and so it was time to end. What an intense yet overflowing with blessings kind of time. The spirit was so strong in our hearts and family. Sometimes the partial withdrawl of the spirit from being released can feel like the withdrawl of the spirit from sin.

  • Ray April 3, 2008, 12:42 pm

    agradner, thanks for the laugh – although there was one stretch when I was functioning as the ward organist while in the bishopric. The picture of someone playing prelude, stopping long enough to walk to the podium to greet everyone and introduce the opening hymn, walking back to the organ to play that hymn, staying at the bench during the prayer, walking back to the podium to conduct business and announcements and introduce the sacrament hymn, walking back to the organ to play that hymn, staying at the bench during the sacrament prayer and returning to the bishopric seat only after receiving the sacrament at the organ bench — that was reality for me every third month. Luckily, it only lasted long enough to have to do that for two different months.

    Wow, I’m tired just typing it. πŸ™

  • davidson April 3, 2008, 12:59 pm

    May I toss in another thought? Maybe we show the Lord we love him BEST when we willingly do an assignment we DON’T want to do. The Truman Madsen quote was taken from a talk he gave at BYU Provo entitled “Sacrifice, the Key to Power.” He also said that callings come with duties and rights. Most leadership positions end up being “very much duty and very little right.” I think it is so true: the Relief Society presidency who fills the assignment at the Humanitarian Center on Wednesday morning–AGAIN–because no one else would sign up for it on Sunday; the bishopric member who deals with used feminine hygiene and dirty diapers because the lot fell to him to clean the bathroom after meetings on Sunday–AGAIN; the prophet Joseph Smith who didn’t want to live the law of polygamy, but lived it anyway (mainly because an angel with a drawn sword appeared to him and told him to live the law or die!) President Hinckley, who really dragged his feet about being called to be the President of the Church. And there was our sweet Savior, who pleaded, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will, but Thine, be done.” If we have only two mites worth of desire to fulfill a specific assignment, and we throw it into the pot anyway, we get and will be rewarded by the Lord’s approval, just as he offered it to the widow. This is a test; this is only a test.

    I’m ‘fessin’ up. I didn’t want to be the stake cultural arts specialist for seven years. I kept thinking, I’ve just got to put more into it, and then I will learn to love it. So I tried harder, did more. At the end of the seven years when I was released, I still didn’t love the calling, and I was greatly relieved to be released. Very much duty; very little right. Sometimes it will be that way. I did learn some valuable things, for which I am grateful.

    President Ezra Taft Benson said (and I wrote it in the front of my journal), “Now we don’t seek office in the Church, and we don’t resist release when it comes, and neither do we resign from office in the Church. I sometimes wonder what would happen to this Church if we ran for office. We do not seek office, we do not resist calls to service, we accept releases willingly when they come, and we serve until we are honorably released.”

    To accept release willingly from a calling we love is as much a test of our faith as it is to accept a calling in the first place when it feels uninspired and when we never wanted it. If we can only whisper, “Thy will be done, and not mine,” the blessings will be great. We can accept duties with the faith Nephi had, which I have always loved and admired: “. . .nevertheless, I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.” Maybe he could have said, “. . .not knowing beforehand HOW ON EARTH I was going to do the things which I had been asked to do.” President Thomas S. Monson has, all of his life, insisted “Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.” If we can just take that leap of faith, if we can just say yes to a calling and tell the Lord we’ll do our best, even if we don’t want to and don’t know how it could possibly be accomplished, and we do it out of love and respect for Him, He will provide a way. And it will probably be a way we haven’t even remotely considered. He is creative like that. It’s fun to watch. One of the things I love so much about Heavenly Father is His ingenuity in answering prayers. His ways are not our ways. I love the song from the movie “Joseph, King of Dreams”: “You know better than I! You know the way. I’ve let go the need to know why. I’ll take what answers you supply. You know better than I.”

    Well, I’ve rambled enough. Being called to serve the Lord Jesus Christ is a privilege, in whatever form it falls. That’s what I think.

  • Michelle D April 3, 2008, 1:19 pm

    Ha! Agardner, I edited it with some “next, then” explanatory words to make it clearer that Ray had 4 different callings during the time I had 1. And to clarify that there “can be” exceptions in a branch or small ward. Thanks for your comment.

    Jendoop, I’m sorry that you didn’t get any transition time! And I’m glad that you had the spiritual confirmation you needed. In our branch that was just discontinued, I served as YW Leader and Ray as YM Leader (while still on the high council). Sounds like you and DH had fun as youth leaders, even though rides/time/etc must have been crazy! I like your comparison of the partial withdrawal of the Spirit from being released with the withdrawal of the Spirit from sin — that you really do feel the loss of the constant companionship and revelation for how to help and serve the YW.

    I was grateful that my 1st couns who became pres sought me for reassurance and help, especially at first, even as she stood strong and independent on her own and relied on the Lord. She needed some of that as much as I did. You know, one of the things I did well was to train her well! She was MUCH better prepared to be pres than I was when I was called! Some of that has to do with personalities within the presidency, and how well a leader can delegate and then let go. When I was couns, the pres was wonderful but had a hard time letting go of some things…

    And yes, it was quite hilarious to watch Ray navigate the organ/pulpit/bishopric seat “musical chairs”! At the time, we had VERY few organists/pianists in the ward, so he wasn’t immediately released as organist after he was called into the bishopric in 2001. (Hey, I should blog about that — he was actually set apart in the hospital room of our son who was recovering from emergency appendicitis. And now that I’m thinking back on it, as bishopric couns, he was conducting the week he was released as SS pres, so he actually announced his own release!)

  • Michelle D April 3, 2008, 1:40 pm

    Davidson, I didn’t see your comment before I posted. You make some really good points about serving well with faith and trust in the Lord’s will. He truly does provide a way for us to serve to the best of our abilities and magnifies our efforts. And all we have to do is try — try to serve, try to have the Spirit with us, try to obey, try to follow His example, try our best (even though some days that is only “better” or “good” or even “gotta do better next time”). I love what you said:

    If we can just take that leap of faith, if we can just say yes to a calling and tell the Lord we’ll do our best, even if we don’t want to and don’t know how it could possibly be accomplished, and we do it out of love and respect for Him, He will provide a way. And it will probably be a way we haven’t even remotely considered. He is creative like that. It’s fun to watch.

    (Hmm, did the block quote work that time?! Can’t tell…)

    It is a privilege to serve, wherever and whenever. When it comes to fulfilling His work, He sure trusts us a lot, doesn’t He?!

  • Michelle D April 3, 2008, 1:42 pm

    Argh! Help, Alison! Time for Posting 101. Grr…

  • davidson April 3, 2008, 1:52 pm

    Yes, Michelle, He trusts us a lot. I stand all amazed.

  • agardner April 3, 2008, 2:31 pm

    Michelle and Ray, I laugh at your multiple callings stuff. Having lived in big active wards for most of my life, it definitely was a transition to move to a ward where things…well, don’t function as well.

    My dh has had his own moments doing the organist/bishopric thing, so I hear you there. He still is the main substitute for the organist when she is gone, but usually it has worked out that when he has to play the organ he is not conducting. He’s the better organist of the two of us, so usually if they need a sub they ask him…however if he is conducting he’ll go to the third choice – me!

  • Alison Moore Smith April 3, 2008, 2:32 pm

    Posted By: Ray Those who don’t see the inspiration in most callings need to read your comment and re-evaluate their assumptions.

    Count me as one who doesn’t. That is because I don’t think I interpret the “inspired calling” idea as seems to be most common. Leader fasts and prays and is given a glowing, singular name–the ONLY one who should fill this calling at this time.

    More often–much more often–I think it’s a combination of who is available, who is willing, who has the needed skills, and who is ACCEPTABLE to the Lord. Most of the time I don’t think God micromanages wards (i.e. “Only Sister Barker is pleasing to me to fill that position.”) anymore than he micromanages our lives (i.e. “You MUST major in marine biology and then you MUST work at the Oceanographic Institute of Ottawa in order to fulfill your life’s mission.”)

    Don’t get me wrong, I have seen and witnessed situations where a specific person was crucial and timely in a calling. But for the most part I think it’s more a case of people being called and then being inspired to serve as God would have them serve.

    So, I think it’s more a case of God being willing to guide and direct while letting us use our brains to figure it out, directly intervening only when necessary–which I don’t think is all that often. So, for example, you might look over the women who are in your ward, think about them, pray generally, come to an idea of one or two and try to discern who would best fill the calling. As the scripture model says, then take your decision to the Lord.

    In my opinion, God will confirm your choice UNLESS there is a good reason not to. Just as he’ll let you choose what to major in and who to marry and what job to take–unless there is a reason for him to redirect you. So, I think it’s usually more of, “Sure, that’s a fine choice. Go ahead.” than it is, “Yes, you have found my true choice.”

    My thoughts on this kind of align with what I call the Saturday’s Warrior Fallacy–that we have a predestined one and only that we are supposed to marry.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 3, 2008, 2:33 pm

    BTW, last year I was called to be the Primary pianist. We have lots of piano players in our ward. I just don’t happen to be one of them. πŸ™‚

  • agardner April 3, 2008, 5:00 pm

    I have more to say and will try to get back on later tonight, but I had to say this:

    I had a good friend who was also called to be the primary pianist when she didn’t play. She told the bishop that, and he said, “Yes, we know that”. Then she said something like that there were plenty of other people in the ward who DID play, and he said, “Yes, we know that as well, but we are asking you to do it”.

    At the time, she had taken a year of lessons as a child but nothing else in 20 years! She could read the treble clef notes and knew where to find them on the piano, so she plunked out the melodies and started taking lessons along with her kids to improve.

    By the time I moved into the ward and met her, she had been the primary pianist for several years and was playing wonderfully. When she told me the story I was so surprised…but I guess it was God’s way of getting her to develop a talent that she had but wasn’t using.

    By the way, are you the primary pianist now??

    My pianist (I am primary chorister) doesn’t play very well, but she is trying really hard. She practices a lot on her little keyboard at home, and has really improved a ton since she was called. But in our ward it’s more of a case of not having very many who play. And she’s moving in August! πŸ™ My husband and I both play and most likely I’ll get moved back to pianist when she moves, unless we decide to use CD’s or something. My dh is in the bishopric, he can fill in occasionally. There is an older lady who plays the organ, but she’s also in the RS presidency. The YW president plays. That is the entire group of pianists that I’m aware of. Obviously we are going to have to have some shifting around, or have another inspired calling like my friend got!

  • Alison Moore Smith April 3, 2008, 7:33 pm

    Yes, somehow I KNEW one of the “I had no idea how to _______ until I was called…” stories would come up. :shocked:

    When I was asked, I said, “I’ll accept any calling you extend, but you should know that I don’t play the piano”

    The counselor said, “You DON’T???”


    “Oh! Well, I don’t know how mumble mumble mumble…”

    That’s the last I heard. They didn’t officially rescind the calling, but they sustain me either.

    For what it’s worth, yes, I know we all gain skills that we don’t have while serving (if we put any effort into any calling) and, yes, I know that people are called who have no skills–and gain them (or not). But not MOST of the time.

    Most bishops and RS presidents are decent people with testimonies who can get along with people to some extent and have some semblance of leadership ability. Once in a while someone is called to a leadership position where everyone kind of raises their eyebrows and says (or thinks), “Wow, never would have predicted that one!” But probably way more often everyone thinks, “See! I was right!” or at least, “A logical choice.”

    Next time you visit a new ward, try to just look around and see if you can’t guess who the auxiliary leaders are based only on appearance. Fun!

  • Alison Moore Smith April 3, 2008, 7:34 pm

    Oh, and most ward organists and pianists already know how to play.

  • Tinkerbell April 3, 2008, 7:36 pm

    Michelle, my heart aches just reading this. I totally know what you felt! The first time I was YW Pres, I served for two years and then moved. That was a hard ward, so I was honestly relieved. I was released the Sunday after we moved. I was so exhausted from dealing with YW issues that I couldn’t even look at a YW in my new ward. πŸ™‚ But, then after a year in my new ward, I was called as YW Pres again. It was wonderful! The best leaders and girls I could ever ask for. We were a huge YW (30 girls). After a year of that, the ward split, and my husband was called into the Bishopric of our new ward. We have four small kids, so I knew I couldn’t be YW Pres. It would have been impossible. I mourned and mourned all my losses – the loss of my YW, the loss of my calling, the “loss” of my husband as he is now gone all the time instead of me (and believe me – I LOVED leaving my four boys at home all the time to go be with YW). For those first two weeks after the split, my heart ached in ways I didn’t know it could. I ended up being called back into YW as the Secretary and PP leader (I don’t go on Wed nights because my husband has to be there). It was a hard adjustment at first. One Sunday I told my husband to release me now because I just can’t work under this new president! But, I swallowed my pride and stuck it out. It has been almost 5 months now, and I am really enjoying my new calling. I get to do all the things I love to do in YW without doing the things I don’t (like going to all the meetings and getting yelled at by unhappy parents). πŸ™‚ In fact, I feel that I am able to have a positive influence in ways I couldn’t as the Pres. But, I know well that aching and longing of letting go of such a special calling. In fact, I couldn’t even write my feelings about it all in my journal until just a few nights ago. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    P.S. Sorry about the silly pseudonym. I was so excited to sign up and post that when someone had already used my other ones, I just went with one I thought noone would have. I was right. πŸ™‚

  • Alison Moore Smith April 3, 2008, 7:37 pm

    Huge welcome to you, Tinkerbell!

  • agardner April 3, 2008, 8:24 pm

    Tinkerbell, welcome. Your situation sounds so much like my friend who was just released as YW…in fact, I wondered if you were her for a minute!! But then I re-read and saw the 4 boys part, and she has 3 boys and a girl. Otherwise, your stories are almost identical.

    And I can so relate to having the husband gone all the time, I’ve even started posts on here ranting about it before. πŸ™‚

  • agardner April 3, 2008, 8:29 pm

    Alison, I didn’t mean to start a “I had no idea…” discussion, lol! I just thought it was cool that people were willing to try something so foreign to them. I think you handled the situation very well – it sounds like in your case it was definitely more a case of someone assuming you played than someone wanting to challenge you to learn something new.

    It did make me think back on some of the callings I’ve had and how unprepared I felt at the time for them, and yet I was able to handle situations that I never dreamed possible with the Lord’s help (obviously I’m not speaking of learning a new talent here or anything…just bringing out something that I already had in me but didn’t realize).

  • Tinkerbell April 3, 2008, 8:51 pm

    It is comforting to know that there are other people who share the same experiences and have the same feelings about it. Almost like I am normal or something. πŸ™‚

  • Alison Moore Smith April 3, 2008, 9:23 pm

    Tink, if I could be almost normal, it would be one great day.

  • Ray April 3, 2008, 10:04 pm

    I don’t want to be normal. Normal is boring.

  • jendoop April 4, 2008, 6:30 am

    Funny story about getting a calling you have little ability for-
    My in-laws were called as mission presidents and asked the fam to sing at their farewell. I said, “I don’t sing” and was the only one who sat it out, much to my mother-in-law’s diappointment. Less than 6 mo later I was called as primary chorister. When we visited them in the mission home for Thanksgiving I had to swallow my pride and ask my MIL for chorister training. About a year later I was called as WARD CHORISTER! I felt so lame up there, belting my heart out and knowing I sounded horrible but I tried to do my best knowing all the while the people who could hear me sing most were those sitting on the stand who called me to the position πŸ™‚ It gave me a huge amount of confidence todo something in the service of the Lord I felt totally unprepared for. I generated a more tolerant attitude toward others doing a calling they don’t feel comfortable for and had a greater love for my ward family who put up with my lack of talent.

    On the issue of how callings are issued…I agree with Alison on how callings are given. Sometimes we are supposed to think it was a golden light from heaven for every calling, but its not. In our branch only Latino women are called to RS callings, it makes me sad that I will never have a calling there while in this branch. Also while in another ward a rumor was started that DH and I were on the verge of divorce, unknown to us of course. I was passed over for several callings I would have loved because they thought our marriage couldn’t handle it. I only found out the bishop thought this when I went to talk to him about a calling related concern and he admitted he thought it was to get marital counseling. He apologized and I let it go but who knows the opportunities missed?

  • Tinkerbell April 4, 2008, 8:48 am

    jendoop, that is interesting. I wonder how many rumors there are like that going around. I know of a few in my ward – there are probably several about me. πŸ™‚ Thank you for the reminder to keep gossip to myself.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 4, 2008, 10:18 am

    When Sam and I got our house under contract, we were both released from our callings. The next week–when we had secured a lease-back on the same house, we were both put in Primary “until we moved” because we were “temporary.” It’s been almost a year and a half since then.

  • Michelle D April 4, 2008, 1:14 pm

    Oh rumors! The “best” one about myself was floating around a few years ago… that I was pregnant. That one had quite a bit of steam. Nothing like that to make you feel the weight of the baby flab you haven’t lost!! One of my best friends finally said something to me so she could dispel the myth when asked. (Nobody was asking me; they were asking and telling everyone else.) I decided I could laugh or cry about it — I chose laughter. But I am extra careful now not to presume someone is preg-o without confirmation from the source!

    And I want to say welcome to Tink, as well. Thanks for your comment. Yes, I think you are normal in having these feelings — and in being relieved to find you aren’t alone. You mentioned having a great group of girls when you were called in your new ward as YW Pres. It reminded me of my first year as Pres and dreading girls camp because I had some negative experiences as a YW (cliques etc). What I realized is that with our stake, girls camp is fun! The youth, stake and ward leaders all work together. (emphasis on the youth leaders, yay!) I discovered when it works the way it’s supposed to, it is a great experience!

    jendoop, I think it’s sad that the presumption of marital problems was made and that you missed out on possible callings because of it. Ouch. Reminds me of motes and beams, and “judge not that ye be not judged.”

    What I was hoping for with my article is just this — not touting my own calling (or Ray’s, either) but an acknowledgment that there are some universal feelings in regards to callings and serving in the Church, and that it’s okay to feel some disconnect when one is released (as long as we don’t wallow in it indefinitely).

  • Alison Moore Smith April 4, 2008, 1:41 pm

    Oh, I’m still wallowing. You can’t make me stop.

  • Michelle D April 4, 2008, 2:15 pm

    Alison, I agree with you in general about how callings are extended: “More often–much more often–I think it’s a combination of who is available, who is willing, who has the needed skills, and who is ACCEPTABLE to the Lord. Most of the time I don’t think God micromanages wards…” — “But for the most part I think it’s more a case of people being called and then being inspired to serve as God would have them serve.” — “So, I think it’s more a case of God being willing to guide and direct while letting us use our brains to figure it out, directly intervening only when necessary–which I don’t think is all that often. … In my opinion, God will confirm your choice UNLESS there is a good reason not to.”

    However, I think there are exceptions and Ray was pointing out one of them with his comment you quoted. Spitfire’s experience of being called as RS Pres qualifies as that level of direct inspiration. It seems to me, based on what she wrote, that her bishop had considered a list of names, prayed, and then was “hit upside the head” with someone he had not even considered. As she shared it, with her career experience and the situations her ward has encountered, I don’t think spitfire being called was any kind of accident or just “a combination of who is available, who is willing, who has the needed skills, and who is ACCEPTABLE to the Lord.” I think it’s BOTH inspiration and someone available/willing/skilled/acceptable.

    As YW Pres, I know I received a VERY clear answer about who to call as a Sec/PP Leader, but the bishopric said no, the timing wasn’t right. And it wasn’t — among other reasons, at the time she was pregnant with 4 other kids and a husband working multiple jobs. A wonderful sister here for her husband’s 6-month-long co-op was called and was amazing. When they went back to school, and I needed to submit a name for a new Sec/PP Leader, the first sister’s name again came strongly as the answer. I tried to tell the Lord the bishopric had already said no. He answered with the gist of D&C 6:22-24. I submitted her name; she was called. She was the most fabulous PP Leader I have EVER seen! Our YW are more consistent in fulfilling PP because of her enthusiasm and love and motivation. They cried when she was released. Does this mean I was wrong or uninspired the first time? NO! This is another example of BOTH inspiration and someone being available/willing/ skilled/acceptable, working within the structure of the Church.

    Personally, I believe callings are extended using both methods (inspiration and studied consideration) most of the time in the Church, not just one or the other. And I think that is what you were saying as well, Alison.

  • Ray April 4, 2008, 2:21 pm

    Fwiw, since it was my comment that sparked the “inspiration vs. desperation vs. doesn’t-matter-ation” discussion, I need to make a slight correction to my comment – making it say what I meant.

    I believe the split among the previous methods is quite even when looking at callings overall. However, I believe that the calling of Presidents is predominantly inspiration. I know there are exceptions, and I know there are individual Bishops and Stake Presidents who aren’t inspired in the way they issue callings, but **overall** I think the thought and prayer and agonizing over calling a President lead predominantly to inspiration for those callings.

  • Michelle D April 4, 2008, 2:24 pm

    So Alison, from what previous calling are you wallowing? And what if I don’t want to make you stop?

    I have to say that a year and a half doesn’t seem very temporary!

  • Tinkerbell April 4, 2008, 2:47 pm

    jendoop, I just read your comments carefully and see that my experience was very similar to yours, too. It’s a small world. πŸ˜‰

    I did have one more comment. I don’t know if I can communicate it well, but I’ll try. Besides loving the girls, I loved “being” YW Pres. It was just a fun thing to be. When we moved and I got released the first time, I felt like a fish out of water for that year. When I got called to be YW Pres again, I felt like I was back “home”. It makes me wonder how a Bishop or a mission president must feel to be released, particularly related to this that you said:

    Sometimes the partial withdrawl of the spirit from being released can feel like the withdrawl of the spirit from sin.

  • Tinkerbell April 4, 2008, 2:47 pm

    Okay, so that blockquote didn’t work so well . . .

  • Alison Moore Smith April 4, 2008, 2:49 pm

    Michelle, I agree and do think I said that. Mostly I was trying to say that I do NOT think “inspiration” usually means “divine the magic, one and only ‘right’ person.” I think that happens relatively rarely.

    When I was both ed counselor and RS pres I had a couple of situations that were very, very specific as well as an odd “here’s your magic person…no it’s not” answer, that only later came to make perfect sense. At the time I felt tricked.

    If you’ve been around a while, you’ll also remember Sharilee posting here and saying that she did NOT want me to be her counselor years ago (yea, I have that affect on people), even though she did feel inspired to give my name. Both sides of that whole issue were batted about last summer.

    Agreed, Ray.

    I’m wallowing about being released from teaching RS AND wallowing about BEING in Primary “temporarily.” My whole life is Primary. You could pretty much shoot me in the head on Sundays and I’ll go willingly.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 4, 2008, 2:54 pm

    FWIW, I tried to remember my other experiences of extending callings (or names to be extended) and the most significant thing I can think of is two bishops (neither of those I served under in the above callings) who never so much as asked for names. Both of them just called everyone in the auxiliaries themselves–and informed us (or not). One did it for the whole ward, the other only for all the women-led auxiliaries.

    Don’t get me started on that. Suffice it to say it’s sure weird to sit in Sacrament Meeting only to hear half of those in your stewardship be released and replaced without so much as a mention.

  • Tinkerbell April 4, 2008, 2:55 pm

    Alison, I just read the link. I have broken down and cried over callings several times too (cub scouts being one of them). Considering that my oldest of 4 boys is turning 8 this year, I think I have YEARS of cub scouts ahead of me. I want to cry just thinking about it . . .

  • Tinkerbell April 4, 2008, 3:02 pm

    Alison, I know THAT feeling, too. It kind of made me want to say, “So, why exactly do you call a President?” I don’t think I should get started on that one either. It is interesting now to be caught between the YW Pres (as her Secretary) and the Bishopric counselor over YW (my DH). This is both of their first time getting used to the process of issuing callings. She thought that she would submit a name and *bam* the person would be sustained that Sunday. It really doesn’t work that way most of the time. On the one hand, I have been reassuring her that there is nothing wrong with her, it is a process, the Bishopric sometimes knows things she doesn’t know. On the other hand, I have been watching my husband as he wrestles with receiving confirmation of the names submitted (or actually receiving no confirmation). I feel like I am getting the opportunity to encourage both of them as they grow and learn from this new experience. But, based on my experiences, more often than not, I have received little confirmations here and there that the people who eventually filled the positions were the right people.

  • Ray April 4, 2008, 3:11 pm

    Those bishops should be taken behind the woodshed and beaten with a brick stick. :devil:

    There; now that it’s been said, we can move on. :bigsmile:

  • Tinkerbell April 4, 2008, 3:19 pm

    Thank you Ray. (I love that little devil emoticon – I hope I have occasion to use it sometime). :tongue:

  • Michelle D April 4, 2008, 4:50 pm

    Alison, it would drive me absolutely nuts not to be asked to submit names for those who would be serving with me, to have someone released from my stewardship without knowing it, and to be called/sustained over the pulpit without being asked first!! Nightmares!!

    Our ward has had some wonderful bishops. A number of years ago, someone was released from Pri to be called elsewhere, and the Pri pres learned about it at the same time as the rest of the ward. The bpric couns told me this when I was YW Pres and he told me they were going to release someone serving with me. He said the look on the Pri pres face that day was enough to stop the entire bishopric in their tracks — and they ALWAYS forewarn org pres now. So we might not have a say in whether we lose someone before *we* are ready for them to serve elsewhere, but we will ALWAYS know before it happens! That is a real blessing.

    One of the lessons I learned as YW Pres is that I might receive confirmation that so-and-so is the right person to submit for a calling, but just because **I** think she’s the right one, doesn’t mean that the Bishop will agree — or even sometimes that he will agree with me but not end up issuing the calling because she needs to serve elsewhere. He has a much larger vision of the needs of the ward, whereas my vision was the needs of my organization. Over time, I actually found this to be easier to understand and accept as a pres rather than as a counselor. I’m not sure whether that’s because of PPI’s with the Bp and ward council, gaining a better understanding of the actual workings and needs of a ward and callings, or because of the Pri pres and YW pres I served under (who were great, but easily frustrated that yet another person had been turned down for a calling).

    Tink, you are right that callings are never a “sustained next week” thing. They take time, more time than we’d like. Sometimes it’s because different organizations are asking for the same person so the bishop needs to know where the Lord wants them to serve. That’s especially difficult when the person would be equally good at each calling and with each org. Sometimes it’s because the person to be called is on vacation or sick or whatever, so it takes a while for the bishopric to meet with them to extend the calling. Whatever the reason, it always seems to take longer than desired. I learned to be patient with the “system” and to submit names 4-6 weeks before I ideally wanted them. πŸ™‚

    At any rate, I am always grateful that I will never be a bishop with the responsibility to call — and not call — people to serve in various capacities!

  • jendoop April 4, 2008, 5:35 pm

    Alison, the post you linked to about serving in primary while being a SAHM while homeschooling sounds like my reaction to my current calling as Primary counselor. I am SAHM with 4 kids and hubby in branch presidency. It is too funny (now, not a few months ago) that the other counselor and president that I serve with were only children and have no children of their own thus some parts of being with kids is a mystery to them (like serving food at a primary activity). The primary pres mentioned to me how little spiritual sustenance she gets out of church being in primary for the last two hours. I not so tactfully informed her that wrestling with 4 kids while DH is on the stand doesn’t make my first hour ‘oh so grand’ either. Not to mention the social opportunities I miss out on because of his business trips and various church meetings on weeknights.

    The difficulty with trying to receive inspiration for a calling can be frustrating. Often if I have a good conversation with the bishop about why and the inspiration I felt then everything is OK. Even if those people aren’t called where I would like I know the bishop took very seriously my considerations and must have had a really good reason not to issue the call. Yes these things vary greatly upon ward and bishop and sometimes we sisters have to ‘educate’. πŸ™‚

    Given all the heartache, frustration and person to person ‘miscommunication’ in callings over the years it is hearting to realize how much I’ve learned in this school of hard knocks. My sister called just a few weeks before Christmas, she is the ward activities chairperson and it was the night of the Ward Christmas Activity. She related problems she was having with her committee (which was one other person) and said “Help Me”. I knew just what to tell her because of my past experiences and she said later it was good advice. The amount of skill and knowledge I have gained in callings is indefineable. It isn’t the kind of information you can learn in a 9 to 5 job either. As we all know working in the church is light years from resembling the work world. That I am very thankful for. I can serve and show my love for the Savior, seeing a change in hearts and lives, never really knowing the total results of my service yet finding my own greater level of devotion and faith through the work.

  • Tinkerbell April 4, 2008, 7:10 pm

    Michelle, I also found it was easier to understand and accept as a President than a Counselor, too (although I was a Counselor in Primary, and Pres in YW – Primary has a whole lot more turnover). Since Ray already took care of the “stoning”, I’ll throw this out and let it go: I never had a PPI with one of the Bishops I worked under. I was only “allowed” to talk to the counselor. It was frustrating, but I think it also helped my husband. He watched me and the struggles I went through, and I think it is helping him to be a better counselor (and Bishop, if he ever is called. Knock on wood he isn’t :confused:)

    jendoop, I agree. It is really neat to look back on callings and see how they have helped you to grow. I never really felt “successful” my first time around as YW Pres. I gave it my all, but we sort of limped along. My second time seemed extremely “successful”. We turned things around really quickly. I wondered if my first time was practice or preparation so that I didn’t have to go down the learning curve the second time (although I hope I did SOME good the first time). And being YW Pres really set me up well to be PP leader. Because I already have a relationship with the girls and “get” how important PP is, it seems like a natural fit. It is neat how callings build on each other, and you learn some more each time. Now cub scouts . . . actually, I admit I learned something useful from that, too, that will help me for the next 20 years as I do it. πŸ™‚ Little boys need time to get together and be little boys.

    In general, it is nice to see the Lord’s hand in my life – to know I have a purpose.

    Also, going along with what you said, you can’t really rely on someone else at church to “give” you spiritual sustenance. When I first got called to be a Primary Secretary 8 years ago, I was so worried about whether my testimony would falter. But, I found that my testimony is based on my own personal scripture study and prayers, not on the Sunday School lesson (although good Sunday School lessons help – we have an AWESOME teacher right now), and my testimony has grown leaps and bounds while serving in Primary and YW Presidencies.

    One last thing – if you have ideas on how to keep 4 kids quiet during sacrament meeting, I would love to hear them!

  • nanacarol April 4, 2008, 8:12 pm

    I have enjoyed all the posts on this subject. Just wish you had been around in 1988! From 1986 to 1988 we were stationed in Iceland for two years. I had the joy of being the Primary President for the first year and Relief Society President the second. When I was released and went on to our new assignment in England I was lost! I had poured my whole heart and soul into being Relief Society President. I worried constantly about the young unmarried women in my stewardship. I worried about the married men who were there without their families and very lonely. So we always had activities to keep them busy!! Plus we tried to do things with our Icelandic brothers and sisters. So I stayed so busy for a year. When I was released I felt a mantle come off that I just can’t describe. I felt lonely for that special spirit that I had felt so often. Is this what it feels like to be released as a Bishop? It took me a year to move forward. Have to admit I went thru a really rough patch after that.

    I have had callings I have so enjoyed too much. When I was called as first counselor in Relief Society over Enrichment I was so disappointed. I was the chorister in Primay and loving it. Had the calling only 4 months when moved to Relief Society. Another time I had the calling as Gospel Doctrine teacher and was called to teach Seminary. Just not the same. I do not do teenagers!!!!!!!! I loved my two but a whole group I falter badly. Yet my PB says I will work with youth. I do prefer Primary and I want back there so badly. I do enjoy Relief Society but my heart belongs to Primary!

  • Ray April 4, 2008, 8:14 pm

    “if you have ideas on how to keep 4 kids quiet during sacrament meeting, I would love to hear them!”

    One of our “foster sons” always recommended Nyquil.

  • agardner April 4, 2008, 8:35 pm

    Ha! I like the nyquil idea.

    Tinkerbell, you’ve probably tried this – but other than the obvious of having something for the children to do, we sit right up at the front where they can see their dad and he can give them the evil eye when they act up. That is really quite effective.

    My oldest was less than a year old when my husband was first called into the bishopric, served for 2 years and then we moved. Again he was called two years ago, and when the bishop moved in October and a new bishop was sustained, he was again called as counselor. So I’ve spent a good portion of my child-raising days doing Sundays alone too. My oldest just turned 9, so I guess that makes it four years of her life that we’ve done this. I’m getting the hang of it finally…although I really will be happy when we are able to sit again as a family! I love the times when we are traveling or something and are able to be together on Sunday!

    I usually keep in my church bag at least a couple of copies of the Friend, crayons/markers/pencils, notebooks, children’s church books, those little seek and find things (my sister made one for me – do you know what I mean? They are fleece with a clear vinyl window, with tiny objects like a CTR ring that they have to try to find in the midst of all these little bead things). I sometimes bring a snack for my youngest (4) which she can have after the Sacrament. If they act up, they have to go out into the hall, fold their arms, and stand straight up against the wall. We’ve actually only had to do that once. Usually I just keep them busy and if they start to get wild I give my husband “the look” and he in turn gives them “the look” and they usually settle down.

    Oh, and I am Primary chorister, so I almost always have something fun in my bag that they like to play with – like any pictures I’m going to use, or visual aids, or the cube I sometimes use to say how we’ll sing the song that time (acapella, boys only, girls only, performance position, etc.). They like to roll that just to see what will come up even though we aren’t really singing (kids are entertained by the simplest things sometimes!). Sometimes I’ll even have my oldest draw a picture for me or something that I can use in Primary.

    Not that any of this makes for perfect children, but most weeks I am pretty proud of the way they behave.

  • Michelle D April 4, 2008, 8:40 pm

    Tink, according to the Handbook, all auxiliary pres (YW, YM, Pri, SS) are to have a PPI with the bishop (NOT couns) quarterly. The RS, EQ, and HPGL have monthly PPI’s. Submitting names for calling consideration, getting answers to most questions, etc go through the couns over the youth, who then takes the necessary info to bishopric meetings for discussion and prayerful consideration. If there are sensitive, morality type issues those go directly to the bishop pronto. At least that is my experience and understanding. Your experience is unfortunate, but at least your hubby is learning to be a better couns because of it!

    The best suggestion I have for surviving sacrament meeting with little ones is to endure to the end! Keep going even when it’s tough, when it seems like nobody gets anything out of the meeting, when you want to tear your hair out. If you have to take a child out, don’t stay in the foyer where they can see others and want to talk and play. We would take ours into an empty classroom and have the child sit in a chair facing the wall until they were ready to go back. The point is to make being IN the chapel a more desired, better choice than being OUT of the chapel. (We learned this from our parents.) For someone like jendoop whose DH sits on the stand, sit close to the front on the side where Dad can give the kids the “evil eye” if they start acting up. I know when Ray was the organist or in the bishopric, our kids knew Dad would be watching and they’d hear about it later if Mom came home in tears.

    And don’t be afraid to ask for help!!! When I needed help the most, Ray had a calling that required he attend another unit (timing meant he couldn’t attend our meetings) and we had 3 little ones — 4, 2, and newborn. It was awful! 15 years later this is still the “worst” calling I think either of us has ever had, and the sad part is that Ray loved it! I just had a hard time supporting him in it when I needed his help so desperately. I was young, shy, and afraid of not appearing “perfect.” Instead of struggling alone with 3 young kids and trucking all 3 of them to the mother’s lounge to nurse the baby, I should have asked a YW, grandmother, or anyone to help! (To Ray’s credit, he often encouraged me to do so.) I didn’t then. I learned to ask in subsequent years, when the need was not quite as great. Life would have been easier then (and I would have found it easier to support Ray’s calling) if I’d swallowed my pride and asked for help… and sometimes even accepted the help that was offered. So learn from your experiences about what works and what doesn’t, and allow yourself not to be the “perfect” family every week in sacrament meeting. That is unrealistic!

    Depending on parenting styles there are things like quiet books, coloring, Cheerios, etc. But we phased those things out as quickly as we could. We avoided “toys” that would be typical daily fare, so any Sunday stuff was once-a-week special opportunity. It helps as the kids get older, because the younger ones see the examples of their older siblings. Sometimes that is a good thing, sometimes it’s not. Teenagers can talk and draw and distract just as easily as a 2 year old!! But you also have the older kids who can help with the younger ones. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve taken my youngest out to the bathroom in the past 2.5 years (after potty training) because she has older sisters who are always sitting closer to the edge of the bench who take her if necessary. We also try to ensure they’ve gone to the bathroom and had a drink before the meeting starts so they don’t “have” to leave.

    Unfortunately, there isn’t any one right answer or any one quick fix for this! It depends on the kids, parenting styles, personalities of all involved, callings held, and weekly changes like fatigue, allergies, someone getting sick, teething baby, etc, etc, etc. No matter what the ages are, some weeks are going to be better (or worse) than others. So I repeat: endure as well as you can to the end! Grandparents keep saying that some day we’re going to miss this. Now that my oldest is in college and my youngest in kindergarten, I think I am finally beginning to believe them!

  • jennycherie April 4, 2008, 8:48 pm

    Posted By: RayOne of our “foster sons” always recommended Nyquil.

    My Uncle Terry would say two conks on the head ought to do it, but if not–try three!

  • Tinkerbell April 4, 2008, 8:52 pm

    Thanks agardner. No, if I sit in the front, everyone will see me as I drag two kids out with me. :confused: I do some of the same things you do. We have a rule that the kids need to sit reverently until after the sacrament. When it is over, they can have a piece of gum and take out whatever activity they brought. We do have a seek and find – pretty cool! And I bring copies of the friend and blank paper and crayons. After two particularly bad Sundays, I resorted to bribes. The kids each get 5 scoops (a teaspoon-size scoop) of ice cream each Sunday. They can lose them or earn them back. I started that after two really awful Sundays. This past Sunday was pretty bad, too. My oldest lost all 5 scoops before we even left the house and earned only 1 back. But, in general, my 5 and 7 year olds are pretty good. It is my 3 year old (ARGH) and my 1 year old who just started walking who are the hard ones. I usually sit next to someone and hand my 1 year old to them 50 times during the meeting so I can deal with the other ones.

    Okay, I just have to tell this story. It might not sound so funny in text, but this past Sunday, we were all sitting in a row during the Sacrament. My 3 year old laid down with his bum in the air and let out a little “toot”. All 4 boys (and me and everyone 3 rows in front and 3 rows behind started giggling). He let out another one a few seconds later. I tried so hard not to laugh because each time I would crack a smile, all 4 boys would take it as a cue to howl with laughter. You should have seen the looks my husband was shooting at us from the stand.

  • agardner April 4, 2008, 9:02 pm

    Yeah, I see what you are saying about sitting at the front is just more chance for everyone to see it.

    My mom gave me some of the best advice ever. She told me never to make going out of church a fun thing. She suggested sitting on a chair and holding them on my lap and making them fold their arms. I ended up doing the standing straight at the wall thing because they seemed to try to wiggle less that way. But they do know that if they act up they are going to stand there, straight and tall, and fold their arms until they are ready to go back in and be decent. I don’t require “super-reverence” after the Sacrament, I think it’s just unrealistic for children that age to sit totally still and do nothing. But they do know that they need to be quiet and not disturb others, and work on whatever they have chosen to do that week. The few times I have had to take them out, or have dad give them the evil eye, have usually been when they start arguing over who is going to do what that day (that’s why I try to do everything in triplicate when I can so they can each have one of whatever they want).

    BTW, I think the toot story is pretty funny too. I can just see your husband up there shooting you all looks.

  • Tinkerbell April 4, 2008, 9:14 pm

    Thanks, Michelle. Enduring to the end is my big challenge, I think. I heard a hokey song when I was a youth called “Enjoy to the End” (it was moms who sang it). I keep trying to tell myself that: Enjoy to the end. Enjoy to the end.

    You are right – YW Presidents are supposed to have PPIs with the Bishop. I spent a year trying to get up the courage to ask for one, and then the ward split. πŸ™‚

    I do feel a little guilty that I dislike my husband’s calling so much when he is loving it. But, I’ve come a long way. I am no longer raging mad as I drive to church on Sundays. That stopped about 3 months in. πŸ™ Enjoy to the end. Enjoy to the end.

    Thanks to all of you. I don’t think I’ll try the Nyquil or conks (although sooooo tempting), but making it uncomfortable for my 3 year old to leave Sacrament meeting would be a good start.

  • Michelle D April 4, 2008, 10:49 pm

    Tink, your Sunday IC isn’t a bribe, it’s a reward!

    While sitting in front means that lots of people can see your kids’ less-preferred behavior and can see you take kids out — there are fewer distractions in front of your kids to cause problems. For me, it’s easier to try to instill reverence when the kids can’t see a bunch of other kids without turning around, and they aren’t supposed to turn around once the meeting starts. And being close enough to Dad on the stand to give “the look” if necessary also outweighed the other stuff… I say, use whatever works for you and your family!

    “Enjoy to the end.” My new motto!

  • jendoop April 5, 2008, 7:00 am

    The suggestions for Sunday reverence have been great there is one big thing I would recommend. Be grateful and praise progress, not expecting perfection. My 6 yr old boy is the handful now, it is so hard to have patience with him. Changing the tactics from time to time is a must for him. Last week Dad promised a super surprise if he were good and that helped him improve, not great but better.

  • Michelle D April 5, 2008, 1:06 pm

    jendoop, that is an important point — praising the good things, not always criticizing the bad things. And changing tactics occasionally is also important to success. (In terms of desired behavior/attitudes, I would define success as seeing progress over time — usually years, not weeks.) Even adults have a hard time sitting through church at times. How can we expect kids to do it perfectly?

    I think we all want to see improvement in our kids — and in ourselves — no matter what topic we’re considering (church behavior, respect, kindness, obedience, etc).

  • facethemusic April 5, 2008, 6:28 pm

    We always sit in the very front row for that very purpose– to encourage better behavior and actually paying attention to the talks, with less distraction. They know everyone can see them, and they’re smack in front of the Bishopric and any visiting Stake leaders.
    I’ve made sure all my kids sit in the front of their classrooms at school, for the same purpose.

  • Tinkerbell April 5, 2008, 9:25 pm

    Yes, good point about perfection. My ultimate goal isn’t to have perfectly behaved kids. It would be nice, but really what I am going for is for my children to have positive feelings about going to church. Elder Oaks spoke in our stake conference a few weeks ago. He said that most of us wouldn’t remember a word of conference, but we would remember the feelings we had. I hope my kids remember what it was like to shake his hand! Anyways, sometimes I know that I get so caught up in the here and now and structure (I am a gold personality if that means anything to anyone on here) that I forget the real picture. If I “force” my kids to be so good that they hate going to church, then we all will lose in the long run.

    If I sit in the front row, then everyone would see the three conks! :tongue:

  • kiar April 6, 2008, 1:16 am

    my dad always offered to rock me to sleep. Then he would tell me to go find him a rock.

    My kids are not the greatest, have definatly gotten better in the past year. When we first started at our current ward, I dreaded Sunday. my 5 y/o would fight me, and kick and scream all the way to the pew. he would yell at his sister in the middle of the Sacrement. He would take crayon to the wall of the meeting room… you kinda get the idea. And I was going alone, with 3 kids, and pregnant, while my DH was working. I was ready to pull my hair out, until one sweet lady took me aside, and said “aren’t you blessed to have such a stong spirit in your family. I bet he grows up to be a great man!” It changed how I looked at his actions. He was just being a little boy with a big spirit trapped inside.After that, I seemed to be much more patient with him, and he began to listen more, and to sit still for longer. Now, with daddy back, and baby sister to play with, he is much more content to sit and try to be reverant. He even goes to Primary, and doesn’t run away from his teacher. Now, I am serving in the Primary, and he likes to show me how he can be the reverant child. My 3 y/o is also following in his footsteps, but is outgrowing the obnoxious stage much faster, since his big brother is showing him how to be good. sitting closer to the front worked for us as well, since they couldn’t see the door, and the people going in and out.

  • davidson April 6, 2008, 1:22 am

    That’s a happy ending, Kiar! You’ve been so patient. I am glad you’re being rewarded.

  • jendoop April 6, 2008, 1:18 pm

    Kiar, What a great example to keep us all going.

  • Tinkerbell April 6, 2008, 1:29 pm

    Yes, kiar. I appreciate your example.

  • Michelle D April 6, 2008, 1:59 pm

    Yay, Kiar! Incrementally, it gets just a little easier, and when the oldest is better trained, the younger ones follow their example. What a wonderful lady in your ward who made that comment about your son! Perspective has a lot to do with attitude and reverence — and, actually, a lot of things in life.

    My friends and I learned this a few years ago. We would walk into YW and talk about how loud and ornery our kids had been during sacrament meeting. After a particularly bad day, I told one of them that I hadn’t heard her little boy and she said she hadn’t heard my youngest girl — and we looked at each other in astonishment as the light bulb went on — “What seems loud in your own row may not be heard just a few rows away!” It was an amazing thing to learn, and totally changed how we viewed our kids’ behavior at church.

  • facethemusic April 6, 2008, 5:27 pm

    Was Elder Ballards Conference address today GREAT as it pertains to our discussion here, or what? I was trying to picture him in the last pew with 6 six kids, puppets on both his hands and Cheerios all over the bench and floor. What a hoot!!!

  • Michelle D April 7, 2008, 1:08 pm

    Yup, seeing Elder Ballard with 6 kids, puppets, and Cheerios — useless in helping with the reverence! — was a priceless mental picture. LOVED his talk! LOVED Conf!

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