Monday, September 29, 2014

Oh, the neediness...

This is my parents' dog, Molly:

She really is so adorable, and everyone loves her.  But, um, she is reeeally quirky:

1.  She feels that she can't jump up on the bed, but she has no problems jumping off of it.

2.  Sometimes she is too scared to jump off a kitchen chair, which is way lower than the bed.

3.  Whoever is newest to the household is her new best friend.  So right now, I'm her BFF.  (When Mom attempted to pick Molly up off my lap the other day, she ran behind my back and snuggled in there to avoid capture.  It was really funny.  Mom was like, "You little twit!")  But when our home teacher came over the night, he was number one and I was number two.

The last clause in that sentence sounds funny.

Yes, sometimes I have the humor of an 11-year-old boy.  (I just said I was number twooo!!  Haha!)

She just naturally assumes that all visitors will love her.  And most do, unless they're not dog people. But for most of the day, every day, right now, I am the novelty and she follows me around, right on my heels, everywhere I go.  If I'm in bed, she wants up.  And I have to roll over and try to reach down and get her without popping my boobs (a serious fear of mine).

4.  Her neediness for lifting onto certain surfaces presents a whole other problem.  She tries to position herself for easier picking up, but she ends up going out of your arm's grasp.  And she doesn't get that she's doing that.  So you're like, "Molly, come here!  You want up?  Come here!"  And she stares at you, like, "I just positioned myself for you.  What is the problem?"  She's nuts.

5.  She will not go potty for me.  She'll go for everyone but me.

Micah terrifies her.  He just...has no concept of personal space.  He's always in her face, picking her up and carrying her around...she hates it so much.  She is such an easy-going dog, but she'll growl at him and bite him when she's had enough.  She'll often jump on the couch right onto my belly (which hurts like crazy - my belly is really sensitive) when she's running away from him.  The other day, I was lying on the love seat.  The couch makes an L with the love seat in the living room, if that makes sense.  And I wasn't facing the other couch.  So I'm lying there, probably watching Teen Titans or some dang thing that Micah likes, and apparently Micah was bugging Molly on the couch.  I didn't notice.  I was too engrossed in the bizarreness of that cartoon.  For realsies.  Cartoons are freakin' nuts nowadays.  I miss Looney Toons.  Anyways, as I was lying there, suddenly, this white fluff ball flies from behind and to my left, over my head, and lands squarely on my sensitive tummy.  It was Molly, making this enormous leap, like, 5 times her body length, to the safety of Kar, her BFF.

But the landing on the tummy thing?  I was pissed.  I swore.

Micah is always on the hunt for Molly.  He thinks they're besties.  And she is constantly hiding from him.  She's not very good at it.  She needs to take some lessons from any cat, amIright?  If someone is bugging a cat, the cat scratches them and then finds very good hiding places.  Molly's just...well, probably too dumb, if you want to know the truth.  I mean, her brain is maybe the size of a kiwi?  If I'm in the kitchen, cooking chicken noodle soup (Micah's and my current favorite lunch) or folding clothes at the table, she'll hide behind my legs, trying to get away from Micah.  It doesn't matter how much we scold Mike about leaving the POOR DOG ALONE - he just...doesn't get it.  And it's not that his brain is too small.  He has a gargantuan heed like me.  I suppose that he just doesn't care that she's terrified of him.  He wants a live stuffed animal, basically.

I feel bad for poor Molly.  She's going to have major PTSD when this period of her life is finished.  I wonder if she'll have a little teeny heart attack at some point during the next three months, honestly.

Yesterday, the two of them were driving me BATTY.  Mike was chasing her, she was hiding behind my legs, and I almost tripped over her a couple of times.  Finally, I was like, "That's it, you two. Time out for both of you."  So I put Micah by the front door (our time out for him) and I put Molly in the back room.

Maybe Molly didn't deserve time out.  But it's seriously like dealing with quarreling children, and that gets super old.  I only have one kid with me right now.  And I've got to say, not playing referee for the first time in, like, 8 years has been awesome.  AWESOME!  Yeah, Micah is bored to tears, being the only kid with three adults, but we knew having him be a latchkey kid with my oldest two in Oregon would lead to CPS being called multiple times.  On account of Micah's...psychopathy?  I'm trying to find a better way to put it.  He's just, um, a very passionate, angry little person most of the time.  And Dylan and Sadie don't know how to cope with it.  Which is why he's here with three adults.  (And sometimes it takes all three of us to make him comply with rules or talk him into doing homework or chores or...anything that helps other people in any way....)  I mean, I could write a whole blog post on Micah's complexity.  I adore him - adore him!  And he has a lot of really fantastic, adorable traits.  But you gotta know...he's a very intense person.

Anyways.

My sister, Beads, adores being needed.  She thrives on it.  A lot of women thrive on it, actually.  I often wonder if there's something wrong with me that I cannot STAND neediness.  Like I lack the nurturing gene or something.  I mean, I hug my kids and help them and love them and fix their owies and all of that, but there are times that, like, one of them will come sobbing to me, and I'm like, "What's wrong?"  And they're like, "My finger is BLEEDING!" and it's like this teeny little hairline scratch that's not bleeding at all.  And at that point, where I should be like, "Oh no!   My poor darling child!  Here, let me put a band-aid on it, even though that's a total waste of band-aids, which are expensive, by the way, and hug you and dry your tears and kiss it better and pat your head and send you on your way..."  Instead, I'm like, "It's not bleeding.  You're fine."

Is that bad?

Another instance where my abhorrence toward neediness was evident was when I taught 7th grade and 8th grade English.  I could not STAND teaching my 7th graders.  They were so stinkin' cute and sweet, but SO. NEEDY.  They would trace their toes in the carpet and tell me this enormous story about why they didn't have their homework, and I'd be like, "To-to-to-today, junior!!"  Of course I was pretty lenient in crazy cases, because if I wasn't, I would have been branded a tyrant and had all kinds of parents up in my grill.

Oh wait, they already were.

Worst part of teaching - the parents.  I'm just sayin'.

Or they would come up to me while I was in the middle of teaching the whole class something and want to tell me this story about their cat falling off the bed.  And I was like, "Um, that is a really neat story....maybe we can talk about it after class?"  When inside, I was like, "Dude, I don't care about your cat.  Stop bugging me."

When I got the chance to teach just all 8th grade, I was like, "I'LL TAKE IT!"  Because I'd so much rather deal with jerkiness (a common 8th grade trait) than neediness.

So if I was a normal person, I would perhaps love that Molly thinks I'm the bomb.com and follows me everywhere and always wants to snuggle, but most of the time, I'm like, "Dude, Mol, I need you to get up out my face."  I just need to be left alone with my rice heating pads.  I don't need her nasty breath in my face when I feel nauseated.  (Or at any time, really.)  So....it's an issue.  I'm trying to be nice.  But there will be many sighs of relief when Micah and I go to Oregon at the end of December. Molly will be sighing in relief that her tormentor is gone.  I'll be sighing in relief to have Molly up out my face.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mask, schmask.

So every now and then, I'll get a private message on facebook or an e-mail from a friend, saying, "Now, how are you really doing???"

And I say, "Dude, the stuff I put on my blog?  That is how I'm really doing."  I try to be as transparent as possible.  I mean, sometimes I have to be careful about what I write so as to protect peoples' privacy and to prevent people from being mad at me, and sometimes I don't put in all of the nasty nitty gritty stuff, because really, does anyone want to read details about my gastrointestinal life? No.  So that stuff is omitted or kind of sidestepped.  But the rest is real, dudes.  It's real.

And how I'm really doing?  I'm fine.  Really.

(I think a lot of that has to do with my anti-depressant.  Looooove it....)

I mean, it's not fun, the chemo thing.  It's definitely not on my list of top 10 best times of my life [Oooh, I should write a blog post about thaaaat....that is a fun topic.....  wheels are spinning...].  In fact, I'd say the whole cancer experience is definitely on my list of top 10 worst times of my life, but dude, I've been through some hard stuff, guys.  And guess what?  Cancer is not even my number one worst thing that I've ever gone through.  True story.  If I was terminal, or if my cancer had spread to other parts of my body, it would shoot up there to number one.  But, as far as I am concerned (and my oncologist verified this, so I'm not warped here), I am in remission.  In the future, I can say, "I've been in remission since July 30, 2014," because that is when they took all the cancer out, and the CT scans thereafter were clear.  We're doing chemo to be safe, just in case there are little particles out there, but dude, for all intents and purposes, I am in remission.  So who am I to complain???

People sometimes ask, "What is going through chemo like?"  I thought I'd tell you what I myself have experienced so far, minus really gross stuff.  In the past, when I saw someone who had lost their hair and was wearing a hat or whatever, I thought, "Oh man.  They might have cancer.  They must be barfing all day long.  Their bodies must feel like they're burning."  And that might be true for a lot of people.  But I'll tell you what has been true for me.

Kay.  You go in for chemo, and you talk to the doctor for a little while about any new or worsening symptoms you're experiencing.  Then you go back to this big room that has very cozy, recliner-yet-still-not-fabric-because-of-germs chairs.  So you ask for some blankets (they wash them after every use - germs are a huge deal in the cancer business), and they give you a pillow, and they access your port.

My port is by my right collarbone.  You can take blood from it, you can put an IV in it, you can put your chemo meds in it...it's cool.  It's about the size of a dime and it sits underneath the skin.  Ports are so great to have, because then you don't have to keep getting poked for IV's, and also you don't experience the stinging that a lot of people feel when the chemo goes into your body.  So basically, they poke this plastic butterfly thing with a needle on the end into your port (yes, that part hurts, but only like a really thick shot or something like that), put this tube on the tail of the butterfly, and then they can hook up IV bags or squirt syringes or whatever into this tube.  When they're done with each different kind of IV, they flush your port for a minute, and you get this immediate taste of metal in your mouth.

Which I kind of like.

It's weird - I've always really loved the taste of metal.  I used to suck on the metal chairs in church when I was really little.  If I'm doing paperwork and need paperclips and have to hold one kind of at the edge of my mouth while I organize the papers or whatever, I'm like, "Yum."  For realsies.  The best part of milkshakes, to me, is licking the spoon for an extended period of time after each bite. When I tell people this, they're like, "Sounds like Pica."  I'm like, "Whatevs.  I'll address that later. Right now I have bigger fish to fry."  AmIright?

Kay, so first, they give me and anti-nausea thing.  I think it's squirted in through a couple of vials. Then they give me a white blood cell upper.  I think that's through an IV bag.  I feel like that's all at first, but I may be wrong.  I don't really care.  I should, but I don't.  That's something that happens when you go through chemo.  You don't give a rat's arse about anything.  We'll go over this more later.

Then they give you a popsicle to suck on during the first chemo in my cocktail - The Red Dragon.  It's literally red.  And it makes you pee red.  The popsicle helps you not to get immediate mouth sores.  If you keep your mouth nice and cold, you get to skip the mouth sores until two weeks after chemo.  We'll get to that.  The Red Dragon is in two really big vials that the nurse squirts slowly into my port tube.  It doesn't hurt.  I've heard it hurts when you get it through your IV in your arm.  That's why I love my port.  Dear, dear Portia.  She has worked hard for me.

The Red Dragon maybe takes a half an hour or so.  Then it's time for Cyto-something.  Again, I don't care to go look it up.  Plus it hurts my hip to walk today.  So we're not going upstairs to check.  Cyto-something and Taxotere (hey look!  I remembered something!) are the two remaining drugs in my cocktail, and they are both clear and administered via drip bag.  Each one takes an hour.  I don't have to do anything special during Cyto-something, but during Taxotere, I have to keep my fingertips on an ice pack.  It prevents numbness and tingling.  These nurses are way on top of things.  I love them.

So by the time I'm done, it's been about five hours.  It's a long haul.  My poor friend Kathleen came with me this last time, and I kept saying, "I'm so sorry this takes so long!  You have so many things you could be doing!"  But she was like, "No, I'm good!  I have nothing to do today!  I want to be here!"  She is such a doll.  She had to borrow my sunglasses when we headed up.  She is such a little person that my huge sunglasses on her teeny, delicately-featured face made me chuckle:
I have large features.  The large sunglasses are good for me.  If I wore small ones, you'd see way too much of my chubby face. :)

The first time I did chemo, I brought crossword puzzles, which I didn't do.  I slept for an hour of it. And I tried on hats.  I brought a book, which I didn't read.  I brought card games for my mom and me, which I didn't feel like playing.  But Kathleen came with a plan.  She is so adorable.  She brought these Paper Pumpkin card kits for us to make!  It made the time fly!

So my goal for next time is to make my own card kits - everything pre-cut, etc., all in a compact little box - and actually get stuff done.  I might put together some ballet barre exercises and write them down.  Because you feel just fine during the process.  It's just the after-effects that can get... fun.  (And by "fun," I mean, "not fun.")

So the rest of that day and that evening, you get flu-like aches.  Nothing too awful.

The day after chemo, you have to go get a neulasta shot.  It also bumps up your white blood cell count.  The first time, it left a really nasty bruise that lasted for three weeks!  Just on my arm.  But people were like, "WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?"  It was that ugly.  This time, it didn't leave a bruise.  Yesssss.

The next four days are the killer.  My oncologist lightly calls them "pajama days."  More like DAYS FROM HELL.  And hi, every day is pajama day in my life.  Even before chemo.  Pajamas until I have to go out into public.  That is how I roll.  Skinny jeans at home?  Please.  Way too uncomfortable.  And they fall off my non-butt.  Don't think I'm bragging about my lack of a butt.  I wish I had a butt so that jeans would stay on me.  And then I could sing, "I'm all about that bass, about that bass, no treble..." and get away with it.  I'm missing this really important part of my life - being able to sing that song and own it!!  At least I can sing that part that says, "Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top..." And a belt to hold up sagging britches is out of the question, because it hurts my huge belly.  It's been an issue for a long time.

Kay, so during those four days, your bones really hurt because of the neulasta stuff.  You know where it gets those extra white blood cells to fight off infections you might get?  From your bone marrow. It's sucking the marrow out of my bones, dude.  And that hurts.  And my stomach hurts all the time - not from gastrointestinal distress, but because of the lining.  You see, chemo meds attack fast-growing cells.  So all of the linings of everything are raw.  The lining of your intestines.  Your stomach.  Your esophagus.  Your mouth.  Um, other openings that come out of your body.  (We'll leave it at that.)  I take this stuff that coats the lining of my stomach and intestines before every meal so that the food doesn't irritate what is certainly a raw area.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Mainly, I live with a heating pad on my stomach for those four days.

And emotionally, I just...sit.  I'm like a piece of furniture.  Or a dead dog taking up space on a piece of furniture.  I think, "I should read!....  Naw....I should make cards!.....Naw.....I should watch TV!....Naw....I should write thank-you notes!  Naw...."  You don't want to do ANYTHING.  You just...lie there.  It reminds me of what it must have been like to be sick during Jane Austen's era.  Maybe those sick girls read a lot; maybe because they didn't have the I-don't-give-a-rat's-arse-cocktail, they actually cared about their correspondence and reading and all of that.  In between being bled and all those weird shenanigans doctors did then.

Here's the butt-kicker - even though your bones hurt SO BADLY, you can't take anything for the pain.  Anything with Tylenol will "mask a fever."  You have to take your temperature the first week after chemo, at least twice a day.  If you hit above 100.5, you have to go to the doctor and get your blood tested.  If your blood shows that your platelet count is too low, you get to go to l'hopital and be bored for two days and have incompetent people poke and prod your port because they don't know what they're doing.  And you get male nurses who are like, "Are you ready to shower?"  And you're like, "Um.....  I can do that myself.  But thanks."  I'm trying not to be sexist about having male nurses. I mean, female nurses probably help male patients shower all the time, right?  It was just really weird for me!!  And I felt well enough to do that stuff by myself.  So it was fine.  I don't know what my problem is.  I've had a male OBGYNs...I don't know.  Whatever.

So no pain pills, even though you're in a ton of pain.  My sis was like, "Have them prescribe you something without Tylenol, like Oxycontin!"  I was like, "Whoa, that's hard stuff..."  I honestly don't know if they would do such a thing, but I'm willing to ask.

So, yeah, the definite goal in the first week is to avoid going to the hospital. Because I hate it.  And the food is horrible.  And if you are admitted for neutropenia (low white blood cell count) like I was three weeks ago, you can't eat anything fresh. No fresh fruit or veggies.  Just processed CRAP.  Everyone who came to see me had to wear masks. If anyone had brought fresh flowers, I couldn't have had them in my room.  It's cray.   As my aunt Kennan and I chanted together this weekend, "No l'hopital!  No l'hopital!!"  My mom has been faithful about taking my temperature, and I have been a brat about it.  If it's a little high, I'll be like, "Dude, I've been lying with a heating pad on my stomach.  Of course it's going to be high!"  Or I'll hurry and drink a cold drink, and then it will be, like, 98 degrees, and Mom will give me this sardonic, raising-one-eyebrow look.  The thermometer is my enemy, you guys.  It sent me to the hospital three weeks ago.  I ain't going back to that place.  No way.  No how.

So the week after chemo is when you have to be really, really careful about germs.  I mean, I have to be careful all the time, but that first week is critical.  You can't go anywhere with crowds.  You can't have visitors without wearing a stupid face mask.  You can't go to the store or anything without a stupid face mask.  Those  masks are sooo uncomfortable.  They go up into my eyeballs.  I try to mold them to my nose to keep them down, but...it's just not working out for me.  My aunt brought funny moustache and lip stickers to put on my face masks when she and my uncle came to visit this weekend:


And BTDubs, I only wore the mask for the first night.  I hate those things.  I was like, "Dude, honestly.  I'm not in a classroom of kids.  My aunt and uncle aren't sick right now.  We're good." Maybe I'll regret that decision later; we'll see in about an hour when they test my blood.

Last night, my hip hurt soooo badly.  Sooo badly.  I was lying in bed, crying, and I was like, You know what?  I don't give a rat's arse that this will "mask my fever."  It's been three hours and I'm bawling from my hip hurting, and I want to sleep, gosh dang it!  So I popped one of my hydrocodones (which I'm allowed to start taking after my blood test is okay today, but technically it was a no-no to take it last night).  It buzzed me, so I didn't sleep well, but boy howdy, was the pain ever gone.  Thank you, hydros.  I love you.

The pain is back today, but after my blood test (please don't send me to the hospital, blood test, mmkay?  Puh-puh-pleeeease?), then I'm free to do any kind of Tylenol-based stuff I want.  Which will be the hydros.  Obvi.

So after the fifth day, you start to feel a little like a normal person.  You can do stuff for like maybe a couple of hours, but nothing very active, and then you usually need a nap.  If I fold clothes, I'm like, "Whoa, I need a nap."  Or if I cook something to go along with my mom's dinners, I'm done for.  Making Micah do his homework does me in, as well.  And also on the sixth day, you actually really want to do stuff.  You want to read.  Or watch TV.  Or make cards.  Or blog.  You feel motivated again.  And that is a fantastic feeling.

For the next week or so, you have some pretty intense gastrointestinal stuff go on.  And your throat gets sore for a couple of days, then feels better.  Then your mouth feels like you ate too much Cap'n Crunch for a couple of days.  Then it feels better.  And then your tongue feels like you burnt it.  And then you get little sores on the sides of your mouth.  It's weird.  It's a weird progression, kind of stemming from the stomach pain and making its way out of your body slowly.

By about day 12, you sometimes feel good enough to exercise (in my case, teach dance).  You can go without those naps that you so desperately needed before.  For me, I basically felt crappy for a week and a half, and then okay for a week and a half.  And it seems to be going that same route for me with this second round.

I haven't lost any weight, which is what we want with chemo.  Weight loss is not desired during chemo.  People who lose weight do worse with the symptoms.  I was really hoping I'd happen to lose some, because during that first week, everything tastes weird and gross.  But the last two weeks, your taste buds return and you're wolfing down everything in sight!  I actually gained 3 at my last appointment.  I think that might be because I got boobs during that time.  But who knows.  And who cares?  Not me.

My hair continues to thin.  It's really quite interesting to watch it take place.  I'm not distressed about it.  I examine it and go, "Hmmm..."


It's coming out in patches, as well as the Male Pattern Baldness thing.  It's coming out over my ears...My scalp is more sensitive than it was after I first shaved it.  When I lie down on a pillow, I can feel the brittle hairs snap off.  When I dry my head with a towel, a shower of snapped-off hairs fall on my shoulders.  It hasn't grown much since I re-shaved.  I initially had my shaving party, remember, and a week later, my hairs were enormously tall!  I couldn't have that.  So I re-shaved.  I don't think I'll have to do that again.  They've stopped growing.   My eyebrows are getting thinner, and my eyelashes are, too.  Which is fine.  I have eyeliner.  We're good.  Hair grows back.  This is part of the biz.  I've never been really very vain, so that is serving me well right now.

I obviously have a lot of time to ponder deep stuff lately, and I feel that Heavenly Father did a really good job of preparing me for this time in my life.  I was a big-time ugly duckling as a tween, and I think that helped me to learn that looks aren't everything.  That when your looks are taken away, it doesn't really matter.  What matters is your heart.  Your spunk.  Your personality.

I begged Him to take away how horrifically sick I felt with my pregnancies.  I mean, you have no idea how awful those were.  Nine month torture-fests.  For a combined THREE YEARS of my life.  I often thought, "This is what it must feel like to have cancer."  And it DOES!  At least for me.  The nausea in the mornings...the constant pain in the stomach, the bones that hurt...food that tastes really awful...  I went through all this!  I am an old pro!  I barfed the other morning, and it was no biggie. I've barfed probably thousands of times with my pregnancies.  So I feel that Heavenly Father chose not to take away the illness I felt with my pregnancies, because he knew it would be a good preparation for me.  I truly can see that.  He knows all.  And I need to stop whining to him about stuff.  He's the grand designer.

I feel that He guided me to decide to apply for dance-teaching jobs way last spring so that I could get this amazing job that I love and that gives me so much joy and hope during all of this crap.  When you let Him take the helm, he really does take you to where you need to go.  And he prepares you for hard stuff by giving you semi-hard stuff first.  Or super-duper hard stuff first.  Or both. :)

Look, I'm never going to be one of those people that's like, "I pray for trials to come to me to make me a better person."  I will continue to hold my stubborn "If you give them to me, fine.  But I won't be happy about it" stance.  Because who wants to suffer?  Nobody.  Nobody.  But I do like looking back and watching the Lord guide my life.  There are some things I don't know about yet - why certain things happened the way they did or why I had to go through other certain things.  But I'll know someday.  He and I will have a talk and I can be like, "What about that one time that....?" and He can tell me about it.

What I do know is that His atonement is not just about him paying for our sins.  He also experienced everything I'm going through now.  And because He knows exactly how I feel, he has tailor-made these incredible blessings for me.  I feel like he's pouring this enormous bucket of blessings on me.  I cannot get over it.  If I tried to write them all down, it would take a year.  The blessings make the hard stuff feel...workable.  Do-able.  The blessings make my load feel lighter.  You just have to open your eyes and look around to see the blessings.  Sometimes you can't see them.  But if you pay close attention, you'll see them all around you when you're going through rough stuff.  I say quick thank-you prayers in my head to Him when they happen, in case my chemo brain kicks in at night and I can't remember them during nightly prayers.  (Chemo brain is real.  You just...get really forgetful.) Overall, I feel very grateful.  I'm in remission, guys!  I feel like I have the flu every three weeks, but only until Christmas!  And then I'll feel fantastic!  That's nothin'.

So honestly, I am good.  Really.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Lesson - What blessings does Heavenly Father promise if I obey the commandments? - What I did.

Demonstrate to the youth how to identify promised blessings by reading with the class the “Message to the Youth from the First Presidency” in For the Strength of Youth (pages ii–iii). Invite the youth to raise their hands every time they hear a promised blessing. Why are these promises important to the youth?

OUR DEAR YOUNG MEN AND YOUNG WOMEN, we have great confidence in you. You are beloved sons and daughters of God and He is mindful of you. You have come to earth at a time of great opportunities and also of great challenges. The standards in this booklet will help you with the important choices you are making now and will yet make in the future. We promise that as you keep the covenants you have made and these standards, you will be blessed with the companionship of the Holy Ghost, your faith and testimony will grow stronger, and you will enjoy increasing happiness.


In all that you do, stay focused on the temple. In the temple you will receive the greatest of all the Lord’s blessings, including marriage for time and all eternity. Keeping the standards in this booklet will help you be worthy to attend the temple, where you can perform sacred ordinances for your ancestors now and make essential covenants for yourself in the future.

Our Father in Heaven has placed great trust in you. He has a work for you to do. Seek His guidance in prayer, and counsel with your parents and leaders. The decisions you make now will set the course for much of what will follow during your mortal life and throughout eternity.


We testify that God lives. It is our fervent prayer that you will remain steadfast and valiant throughout your lives and that you will trust in the Savior and His promises. As you do this, you will be an influence for good in helping to build the kingdom of God and prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Savior.


  • On one side of the board, write “Commandments,” and on the other side write “Promised Blessings.” Invite the youth to look for places in the scriptures where the Lord promises blessings to those who obey His commandments. For example, they could look in the scriptures suggested in this outline. Or, if necessary, show them how to use the Topical Guide to find scriptures about a commandment. Invite them to write on the board the commandment they read about and the promised blessings they found. How does reading about these blessings make them feel about the commandments?
I tweaked this one a little.  I did a little of the legwork ahead of time, using the some of the scriptures listed at the top of the lesson that were associated specifically with blessings for obedience in the scriptures.  Then I gave each kid a different sheety with a different scripture on each one.

Finding Blessings for Obedience in the Scriptures

Directions:  Read Isaiah 58:6-11.  Write on the board the commandment you read about and the promised blessings you found.



Finding Blessings for Obedience in the Scriptures

Directions:  Read Malachi 3:10-12.  Write on the board the commandment you read about and the promised blessings you found.



Finding Blessings for Obedience in the Scriptures

Directions:  Read D&C 59:9-20.  Write on the board the commandment you read about and the promised blessings you found.



Finding Blessings for Obedience in the Scriptures

Directions:  Read D&C 89:18-20.  Write on the board the commandment you read about and the promised blessings you found.

This is all I can find in my files!  I'm so sorry!  Perhaps this took all of the time?  I wish I had time to come up with more ideas for you, but I have chemo early in the morning and need to hit the sack. Wish me luck, okay?

The Lesson - How do the commandments help me learn to become more like Heavenly Father? - What I Did.

Ack, it's so hard to try to remember what I did with all of these, but I just want to get them up so that people can use them!

Okay, so I think I did the following thing as an attention-getting activity.  I gave them this recipe and told them there were some ingredients missing.  It's an easy chocolate chip cookie recipe and I figured that some of them had made cookies before.  Here is the right recipe:

Original Nestle® Toll House® Chocolate Chip Cookies








Servings: 60
Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg
1 (12 ounce) package NESTLE® TOLL
HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts, optional
Directions:
1.
PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F.
2.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
3.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Original Nestle® Toll House® Chocolate Chip Cookies


Servings: 60

I gave them one with something really important taken out, like maybe eggs or flour or something.  For some reason I don't have that file.  But you can do it easily, right?  Right!  Time is of the essence!  I have chemo tomorrow and won't be at the computer for several days, so we have to get these churned out like crazy today.

So I had them guess what was wrong with it.  I think maybe one of the girls guessed right.  I told them that you can't make a perfect cookie without all of the ingredients.  And then I said that you can't perfect yourself to become like Heavenly Father without the commandments - commandments are a lot like a recipe in that way.

  Ask half of the class to read the first paragraph of Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s talk “‘As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten,’” and ask the other half to read the second paragraph. Invite them to look in their paragraphs for answers to the question “Why has God given us commandments?” (They could also read Elder Robert D. Hales’s talk “If Thou Wilt Enter into Life, Keep the Commandments,” beginning with the paragraph that states, “Some may ask, ‘Why did the Lord give us commandments?’”) Discuss what they find. Invite the youth to make a list of attributes God has. 


So I gave each kid one of the three following handouts and had them do it:

Why Does the Lord Give Us Commandments?

Directions:  Read the following quote.  (Your quote may not be the same as another person's quote, just FYI.)  Answer the question that follows the quote.

Some may ask, “Why did the Lord give us commandments?”  In premortal councils, He determined that we, His spirit children, would be given commandments by which to live during our mortal lives...

These commandments are loving instructions provided by God our Father for our physical and spiritual well-being and happiness while in mortality. Commandments allow us to know the mind and will of God regarding our eternal progression. And they test our willingness to be obedient to His will.

The commandments are not a burden or a restriction. Every commandment of the Lord is given for our development, progress, and growth. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “God has designed our happiness. … He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 256).
                 Elder Robert D. Hales, “If Thou Wilt Enter Into Life, Keep the Commandments,” General Conference, April 1996

So, according to this quote, why does the Lord give us commandments?
  

Why Does the Lord Give Us Commandments?

Directions:  Read the following quote.  (Your quote may not be the same as another person's quote, just FYI.)  Answer the question that follows the quote.

Our Heavenly Father is a God of high expectations. His expectations for us are expressed by His Son, Jesus Christ, in these words: “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48). He proposes to make us holy so that we may “abide a celestial glory” (D&C 88:22) and “dwell in his presence” (Moses 6:57). He knows what is required, and so, to make our transformation possible, He provides His commandments and covenants, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and most important, the Atonement and Resurrection of His Beloved Son.
                 Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “As Many As I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten,” General Conference, April 2011, paragraph 1

So, according to this quote, why does the Lord give us commandments?
  

Why Does the Lord Give Us Commandments?

Directions:  Read the following quote.  (Your quote may not be the same as another person's quote, just FYI.)  Answer the question that follows the quote.

God’s purpose is that we, His children, may be able to experience ultimate joy, to be with Him eternally, and to become even as He is. Some years ago Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained: “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.”
                 Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “As Many As I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten,” General Conference, April 2011, paragraph 2

So, according to this quote, why does the Lord give us commandments?

Thennnn, we listed attributes that we think Heavenly Father has up on the board, all together.  The kids calling the attributes out and me writing them.

Then I put them into pairs and had them do the following:

Attributes and Commandments

Directions:  We've made a list of attributes of our Heavenly Father on the board.  Based on the following quote, I've written some attributes in the table below.  I've included some blank spaces to add more attributes that we had thought of and had written on the board. 

Working with a partner, I want you to think of commandments we are given that will help us to develop these attributes.  When you're thinking of commandments, think of alllll of them – the original 10, plus any others you can think of – tithing, Word of Wisdom, etc.  As you and your partner discuss, write the commandments in the row of your choice – many of these commandments could fit more than one attribute.

And then let's discuss how you filled out your table when you're done!

“God is perfect. He is a God of righteousness, with attributes such as love, mercy, charity, truth, power, faith, knowledge, and judgment. He has all power. He knows all things. He is full of goodness.”
                 Gospel Principles, Chapter 1:  Our Father in Heaven

Attributes of Heavenly Father
Commandments that Will Help Me Learn These Attributes
love


mercy


charity


truth


power


faith


knowledge


judgment












And that's it, folks!

The Lesson - How can I help others understand my standards? - What I Did

  • Invite the youth to make a list of questions that friends or family members have asked them about the Lord’s standards or commandments. How did the youth explain their standards? What do they wish they had done differently?
I gave these sheeties out at the beginning of class.  When they finished, we discussed them.
Questions and Answers

1.  Make a list of questions that friends or family members have asked you about the Lord’s standards or commandments.







2.  How did you explain your standards to your friends or family members? 






3.  Do you wish you had explained anything differently?

  • Bring to class several copies of the New Era or Liahona. Invite the youth to search these magazines for stories that tell about people who had to defend or explain their standards to others. Ask them to share what they learn from these stories. (During the week before class, you may want to search a few issues of Church magazines to find copies that have articles that seem especially relevant to the youth you teach.) Do the youth have any similar experiences from their own lives that they could share? What do they learn from these experiences that can help them explain their standards to others?
I did a little bit of the legwork ahead of time, making another sheetie.  There are different sheets for each kiddo.  Then I had them share what they learned from these stories, and if anyone in the class had experiences like these.

Stories – Explaining Standards

Directions:  Read the following story from the New Era.  In the space underneath the story, write what you learned from the story.

Every day at lunch, a kid at Caleb Earnshaw’s school asks him, “So Caleb, when are you going to have sex?”

And every day, 15-year-old Caleb gives the same answer, “Not until I’m married.”

The next question is always, “Why?”

And it is the answer to this question that attracts the crowd. Caleb says, “I look at it as an opportunity. Every day, people gather around for the conversation, all these people sitting around us, listening intently. Every day I tell him about God’s plan for marriage. I’ve told him that way you never have regrets.”

Stories – Explaining Standards

Directions:  Read the following story from the New Era.  In the space underneath the story, write what you learned from the story.

For Sarah Ayer, 16, of the Laconia Ward, the subject of drinking has become a sticking point with some classmates. “Someone in my chemistry class asked me what would happen if I drank.

“They asked, ‘Would your parents disown you?’

“‘No, they wouldn’t do that,’ I answered.

“‘Then why don’t you just try?’

“‘Because it’s bad for you. God gave us the Word of Wisdom so we can know what is good and bad.’

Stories – Explaining Standards

Directions:  Read the following story from the New Era.  In the space underneath the story, write what you learned from the story.

It seems like one of the most difficult standards for these teens to convince their friends of is waiting to date until they are 16.

Elena Halley, 17, of the Ascutney Ward explained it this way: “They don’t get that we’re young. We have a very long time to date and get to know somebody we can consider marrying. I’ve seen a lot of couples who have dated too young end up sadly.”

Stories – Explaining Standards

Directions:  Read the following story from the New Era.  In the space underneath the story, write what you learned from the story.

One of the standards that causes a lot of discussion among Mitchell Mender's friends is not drinking.  Mitchell, 17, of the Lebanon Ward says, “My friends just can’t understand why I don’t want to have any ‘fun.’ A lot of times I tell them that I like being able to remember what I do. I see that a lot of them get into trouble. I tell them I don’t want to ruin my life like that. They know me and that I’m not going to give in.”


Stories – Explaining Standards

Directions:  Read the following story from the New Era.  In the space underneath the story, write what you learned from the story.

Seth Sansoucie, 15, of the Canterbury Ward says that it seems like everybody in his school swears. “Some ask why I don’t swear. I say it’s against my religion. My friends don’t swear a lot, but every once in awhile I’ll have to say, ‘Hey, watch it when I’m around.’”


Stories – Explaining Standards

Directions:  Read the following story from the New Era.  In the space underneath the story, write what you learned from the story.

Teens seem to love having the standards written down in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. They find it handy to give to friends and to refer to.

Megan E. Snyder, 17, of the Bedford Ward says, “I have the little one in my wallet, and I whip that out so many times. I love it.”

“My cousin has one, and he’s not Mormon,” says Olivia Searle, 16, of the Laconia Ward. “He carries it in his wallet. Lots of my friends have a copy.”

“They always find it really interesting,” says Elisabeth Earnshaw. “Some think that people don’t respect Mormon standards, but I find that if I ever discuss them with anyone, most of the time they are very accepting. They may not understand, but they respect someone who is able to follow those standards.”



Stories – Explaining Standards

Directions:  Read the following story from the New Era.  In the space underneath the story, write what you learned from the story.

In a lesson taught a few weeks ago in seminary, something really touched me and had a huge effect on me and my life. My teacher read aloud the Entertainment and Media section from For The Strength of Youth. There was one passage she kept repeating over and over again. It said, “Do not attend, view, or participate in entertainment that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable” ([2001], 17). As she said this over and over again, it started to sink into me.

Later that day at school, I was in my English lesson when my teacher said, “Today we are going to watch a film as a treat.” I really did not want to watch it because it was a scary and vulgar film. I knew that I would feel uncomfortable. I pulled my For the Strength of Youth pamphlet out of my bag and explained to my teacher that I have standards and that this film was inappropriate for me to watch. I was scared and nervous about what my teacher’s reply would be and how she would react to me for sticking up for my standards and what I believed in. She paused for a moment and then said, “Kelsey, I fully understand that you have standards, and I admire you for sticking up for your beliefs.” My teacher then told me that I could go to another room and get a head start on our next topic.

I appreciated my teacher for understanding, and I will always remember this experience. I now know that I can stick up for what I believe in and that the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet is a strong and powerful thing in my life and always will be.

Stories – Explaining Standards

Directions:  Read the following story from the New Era.  In the space underneath the story, write what you learned from the story.

Bright lights. Screaming crowds. Thousands of fans on Facebook. When 17-year-old Gerson Santos became a top-10 finalist in the Portuguese televised musical talent competition ├Źdolos, he had to adjust to the fame and attention that came with his success. Gerson decided to embrace this unique opportunity to preach the gospel and quickly became known across the Portuguese media as the “Mormon competitor” willing to answer questions about his faith.

Once during a dinner with the other contestants, we talked a little bit about religion, and I spoke about my faith and the standards of the Church. Later I gave each of the finalists a copy of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet so they could better understand what I believe. Some said the Church’s standards seemed really conservative, but others praised me for having such high standards in these days.

  • Give each youth a copy of President Thomas S. Monson’s talk “Preparation Brings Blessings.” Ask the class members to quickly scan the talk, looking for the Church standards that he explains (such as modesty, honesty, and the Word of Wisdom). Invite each youth to select one of these standards, read what President Monson says about it, and share with the class how President Monson explains the standard and anything they find that they could use to help others understand this standard better.
Another sheetie.  This one has directions that are self-explanatory:



Preparation Brings Blessings

Directions:  Read what President Monson says about the following standard.  Be prepared to share with the class how President Monson explains the standard and anything you find that you could use to help others understand this standard better. 

In cultures where dating is appropriate, do not date until you are 16 years old. “Not all teenagers need to date or even want to. … When you begin dating, go in groups or on double dates. … Make sure your parents meet [and become acquainted with] those you date.” Because dating is a preparation for marriage, “date only those who have high standards.” 

Be careful to go to places where there is a good environment, where you won’t be faced with temptation.

A wise father said to his son, “If you ever find yourself in a place where you shouldn’t ought to be, get out!” Good advice for all of us.

Preparation Brings Blessings

Directions:  Read what President Monson says about the following standard.  Be prepared to share with the class how President Monson explains the standard and anything you find that you could use to help others understand this standard better.

Servants of the Lord have always counseled us to dress appropriately to show respect for our Heavenly Father and for ourselves. The way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way you and others act. Dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you. Avoid extremes in clothing and appearance, including tattoos and piercings.

Preparation Brings Blessings

Directions:  Read what President Monson says about the following standard.  Be prepared to share with the class how President Monson explains the standard and anything you find that you could use to help others understand this standard better.

The oft-repeated adage is ever true: “Honesty [is] the best policy.”  A Latter-day Saint young man lives as he teaches and as he believes. He is honest with others. He is honest with himself. He is honest with God. He is honest by habit and as a matter of course. When a difficult decision must be made, he never asks himself, “What will others think?” but rather, “What will I think of myself?”


Preparation Brings Blessings

Directions:  Read what President Monson says about the following standard.  Be prepared to share with the class how President Monson explains the standard and anything you find that you could use to help others understand this standard better.

How you speak and the words you use tell much about the image you choose to portray. Use language to build and uplift those around you. Profane, vulgar, or crude language and inappropriate or off-color jokes are offensive to the Lord. Never misuse the name of God or Jesus Christ. The Lord said, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” 

Preparation Brings Blessings

Directions:  Read what President Monson says about the following standard.  Be prepared to share with the class how President Monson explains the standard and anything you find that you could use to help others understand this standard better.

Our Heavenly Father has counseled us to seek after “anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.” 5 Whatever you read, listen to, or watch makes an impression on you.
Pornography is especially dangerous and addictive. Curious exploration of pornography can become a controlling habit, leading to coarser material and to sexual transgression. Avoid pornography at all costs.

Don’t be afraid to walk out of a movie, turn off a television set, or change a radio station if what’s being presented does not meet your Heavenly Father’s standards. In short, if you have any question about whether a particular movie, book, or other form of entertainment is appropriate, don’t see it, don’t read it, don’t participate.

Preparation Brings Blessings

Directions:  Read what President Monson says about the following standard.  Be prepared to share with the class how President Monson explains the standard and anything you find that you could use to help others understand this standard better.

The Apostle Paul declared: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? … The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Brethren, it is our responsibility to keep our temples clean and pure.

Hard drugs, wrongful use of prescription drugs, alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco products destroy your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Any form of alcohol is harmful to your spirit and your body. Tobacco can enslave you, weaken your lungs, and shorten your life.

Preparation Brings Blessings

Directions:  Read what President Monson says about the following standard.  Be prepared to share with the class how President Monson explains the standard and anything you find that you could use to help others understand this standard better.

Music can help you draw closer to your Heavenly Father. It can be used to educate, edify, inspire, and unite. However, music can, by its tempo, beat, intensity, and lyrics, dull your spiritual sensitivity. You cannot afford to fill your minds with unworthy music.
  

Preparation Brings Blessings

Directions:  Read what President Monson says about the following standard.  Be prepared to share with the class how President Monson explains the standard and anything you find that you could use to help others understand this standard better.
Because sexual intimacy is so sacred, the Lord requires self-control and purity before marriage as well as full fidelity after marriage. In dating, treat your date with respect and expect your date to show that same respect for you. Tears inevitably follow transgression.

Ask each class member to read one of the scriptures in this outline. Invite the youth to find words and phrases that indicate what our attitude should be when we explain our standards to others. 

Words, Words, Words

Read the following scripture. (Your scripture is different than anyone else's in the class.)  Find words and phrases in the scripture that indicate what our attitude should be when we explain our standards to others.   Jot the words and phrases down underneath the scripture on this worksheet.

Romans 1:16  

Words, Words, Words

Read the following scripture. (Your scripture is different than anyone else's in the class.)  Find words and phrases in the scripture that indicate what our attitude should be when we explain our standards to others.   Jot the words and phrases down underneath the scripture on this worksheet.

2 Timothy 1:7-8  

Words, Words, Words

Read the following scripture. (Your scripture is different than anyone else's in the class.)  Find words and phrases in the scripture that indicate what our attitude should be when we explain our standards to others.   Jot the words and phrases down underneath the scripture on this worksheet.

2 Ne 8:7  

Words, Words, Words

Read the following scripture. (Your scripture is different than anyone else's in the class.)  Find words and phrases in the scripture that indicate what our attitude should be when we explain our standards to others.   Jot the words and phrases down underneath the scripture on this worksheet.

1 Timothy 4:12  

Words, Words, Words

Read the following scripture. (Your scripture is different than anyone else's in the class.)  Find words and phrases in the scripture that indicate what our attitude should be when we explain our standards to others.   Jot the words and phrases down underneath the scripture on this worksheet.

3 Ne 11:29 

Words, Words, Words

Read the following scripture. (Your scripture is different than anyone else's in the class.)  Find words and phrases in the scripture that indicate what our attitude should be when we explain our standards to others.   Jot the words and phrases down underneath the scripture on this worksheet.

D&C 11:21 

Words, Words, Words

Read the following scripture. (Your scripture is different than anyone else's in the class.)  Find words and phrases in the scripture that indicate what our attitude should be when we explain our standards to others.   Jot the words and phrases down underneath the scripture on this worksheet.

D&C 84:85 

Words, Words, Words

Read the following scripture. (Your scripture is different than anyone else's in the class.)  Find words and phrases in the scripture that indicate what our attitude should be when we explain our standards to others.   Jot the words and phrases down underneath the scripture on this worksheet.

D&C 100:5-8

And that's it! 

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