Still a little bit short on energy, and severely short on patience, I finally gave up. I was so tired of the kids bickering and whining that I said
"Fine. You're on your own. If you want to go to church then you better get yourselves dressed. If you don't want to go, fine."
Then I plopped right down in the black chair, that was conveniently located in the sunniest part of the house and I watched. Cameron realized I was completely serious and he took charge. He ordered the kids around and took a shower and dressed himself. Miriam dressed herself. Simon even dressed himself. I knew Eli would be the wild card, but miraculously by 9:47 he was ready to go. I supposed I had no choice but to load up the car and drive them to church. (A little bit disappointed they had pulled it off...) We went without me brushing Miriam's hair, without writing Eli's primary talk, and with Eli hopping on one foot because he said his shoes were too small. (But only on the left foot.)
Today was Fast Sunday, which means that members of the congregation stand at the pulpit and share their feelings about the gospel. In our ward in Kuna, where there were 150 children, it got to be a problem on these Sundays because the children would start lining up at the pulpit and the line would go all across the stand and down the steps into the congregation. With some direction from ward leadership, Richard and I taught our kids that they were always welcome to share their testimonies at home or in primary, but to save time in the testimony meeting for adults who would like to participate.
So today when Miriam came up to me (looking quite disheveled) and asked if kids were allowed to bear their testimony I wasn't quite sure how to respond. Our ward is small enough here that there are often periods of silence, and there are also so few children that it is extremely rare to see a child at the pulpit. I asked her what she wanted to say and she whispered a few things about Jesus. I deferred to Richard, and seeing that she was quite serious we decided to let her go ahead.
She walked up to the pulpit, with her messy blonde head, nervous but determined, and shared the thoughts that were on her mind. This is what she said, as best I can recall.
"I want to bear my testimony. I know the church is true. I know that Jesus loves us and cares about us. I know that he died for us to go back to Heaven. Jesus gave us the scriptures and the gospel. Sometimes my mom is sick and stays in bed a lot. My dad makes the food and we take care of her. I love my mom and dad and I know they love me. They teach me good things like to love people no matter what. I do things that they like, and they do things that I like. I know the gospel is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
She spoke slowly, clearly, deliberately. My world seemed to stop while I listened to her, and I could feel my own heart pounding. The moment she finished there was an audible sigh of adoration from the congregation. (As I said, children are a novelty.) I felt slightly embarrassed about being labeled an invalid, but mostly I was just completely full of love for her. She is a strong little girl, and I am so grateful for that. She will do the world good.
I'm really not that great at recognizing God's hand in my life. It's not that I don't feel gratitude, it's just that I think my pride prevents me from giving God the credit for all my blessings and even/especially these little moments. But I thought about how I was completely willing to skip church today. When we got to church I told Richard I was surprised we were there at all. But we were. And it was a Sunday I'll never forget. Something bigger than I am, and bigger than Mim's sweet soul, lit a fire inside her that gave her the idea and the courage to stand up and share. And if that's not a tender mercy, I'm even worse than I thought at understanding them.