Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- September 2019

Welcome back!  I hope August went well for everyone and if your kids started school that everything is going well.  I now have a kindergartner and a preschooler which means 3 days a week I have almost 2 hours to myself.  It’s AMAZING!!!!

Funny story from last month.  I guess it was the end of July when we did the story about the snake biting Paul, but Paul wasn’t hurt.  The kids have LOVED playing this over and over and over again.  They were playing it together and my son said to his little sister, “I’ll be Paul, and you can be…John.”  She responded, “No, I’m Mary!”  And then they proceeded to bite each other with a snake toy and shout, “Ahh….go away snake!”  As they shake it off their arm unharmed.  We’ve had a few discussion about how we need to make sure we are still safe and careful around snakes in the wild, but it’s so great to see that this is actually sinking in- even though they frequently grump about getting started!

I stopped adding the section with corresponding children’s scriptures.  Sorry about that.  There’s just nothing available 😦  We’ve started just reading either a Book of Mormon scripture story at night, or reading from the friend, or just whatever the kids request.  There is a Friend Jr. story on Paul’s letters in the September Friend so definitely check that one out.

September 2-8 God Is Not the Author of Confusion, but of Peace

Song: I Lived in Heaven pg. 4

Materials:  Plan of Salvation Printable

Explain the plan of Salvation using drawings.  There are a lot of examples online, you can draw as you go, or I’ve created a very simple printable for you.  Emphasize the degrees of glory described in 1 Cor 15:40-41.

Before you get started, have them draw clothes on the blank (physical body) person, and consider putting their picture on the face.

Pre-earth life- Put the little spirit character on the Pre-Earth cloud, explain that we were spirits living with our Heavenly Father, but in order to become like him we would need to gain a body and make good choices.

Earth- Heavenly Father and Jesus created the earth for us so that we could gain a body, put the physical body on top of the spirit character, then explain that while we are here we need to make good choices.  Talk about a few good choices you need to make (baptism, going to church, hands to self, listening to parents, etc.)

Death- Some day we will die and our body will stay in the ground (put the grave next to the earth and the body there) but our spirit will go to the Spirit world (move the spirit to the spirit world) where we will wait to be resurrected.

Resurrection- move the body and spirit back together and explain that when we are resurrected our bodies will be PERFECT!  No more sickness or pain.

Judgement- explain that Heavenly Father and Jesus will ask us how we did listening to them, following them, and fixing things when we make mistakes.  That will determine where we go.

Celestial- if we do the best we can do with Jesus helping us then we can go to the Celestial Kingdom to be with Heavenly Father and our families FOREVER!  It’s so beautiful Paul said it was like the sun.

Terrestrial- this is for people that were very nice but didn’t follow Jesus all the way.  It’s still really lovely there, but not the best.  Paul related it to the moon.

Telestial- this is for people who made bad choices and didn’t try to fix them.  They will still be happy, but not as much as the other two.  Paul said it was like the stars.  Talk about how the Sun, Moon, and Stars give off different amounts of light.

Side note- you can help kids remember the order with Sea Turtle- C Ter Tel

 

September 9-15 Be Ye Reconciled to God

Song: Faith pg. 96

Materials: Blindfold, objects such as toys, treats, scriptures, picture of Christ

Hide a few items around a room- some things just for fun and some things like scriptures, picture of Christ, etc.  Take turns being blindfolded and having the other family members tell the person blindfolded where to go to find the objects.  Explain that while we are on earth we can’t see Heavenly Father or Jesus, but if we listen to the Spirit, and the words of the Prophets then we can find our way back.

 

September 16-22 God Loveth a Cheerful Giver

Song: Army of Helaman pg. 172

Materials: Fort building materials (couch cushions, chairs, blankets, sheets, etc.), Nerf guns and/or other soft ammo (pillows, paper airplanes, crumbled paper rocks, etc.) Righteous ammo printable

Explain that we are in a war against wickedness.  Wickedness is making choices that go against what Heavenly Father wants for us like taking bad things into our bodies, using our bodies to hurt people, hurting our own bodies, not listening to our parents, making things more important than Heavenly Father, etc.  Talk about what we can do to combat the bad things.  Reading scriptures, going to church, serving people, listening, watching good shows, etc.  You can either just show the Righteous ammo printable or cut out the pictures and tape them to your ammo. Build a fort together and talk about how we want to make our home like a fort against bad things in the world.  Gather in the fort together but leave one parent out to be the opposing side.  Use your righteous ammo to defend your fort and take down the “bad guy.”

Additional Activity: To go along with the ammo of helping people, think of someone you can serve CHEERFULLY!  This could be as simple as coloring a picture for someone in the ward who is sick, lonely, new, etc.  Or taking some donations somewhere.  Always good to find a simple service project for the kids!

September 23-29 Walk in the Spirit

Song: The Holy Ghost pg. 105

Materials: 9 pieces of Fruit (try to get a good variety, but you might want to go ahead and double up on some favorites), other ingredients for your fruit salad/pizza/smoothie, Fruits of the Spirit

Use the Fruits of the Spirit printable to label fruit with the different fruits of the spirit discussed in Galatians 5:22-23

Talk through the different fruits and what they mean:

Love- we feel and show love for others when we are kind to them and serve them.  What makes you feel loved?

Joy- joy is happiness and a good attitude when things don’t go your way

Peace- we use kind words without yelling, we listen to others when it is their turn to talk

Longsuffering- we are patient, we wait our turn

Gentleness- we use our hands for helping not for hurting, if you or someone else makes a mistake we let them fix it

Goodness- we keep the commandments from Heavenly Father and follow the rules at home and school

Faith- we believe in Jesus and keep learning about him

Meekness- we are willing to listen and fix things when Mom or Dad or a teacher tells us how things need to be done, even if it’s different than how you want to do it

Temperance- we take good care of our bodies

Now use the fruit to make something yummy like a fruit salad, a fruit pizza, or a smoothie.

 

September 30- October 13 For the Perfecting of the Saints

I’m going to actually post the specifics of this with October, especially since this covers 2 weeks because of General conference.  But you’re going to need some supplies so you might want to start thinking about that now.

This chunk will cover the Apostasy and Restoration- you’re going to need a Jenga tower that you don’t mind writing on.  I found an adorable miniature one at the dollar store a couple weeks ago in the toy section.  So be on the look out, it’s probably something you can find at a thrift store as well.

It will also cover the Armor of God.  I’m really hoping to find a suit of armor to use, which might be easy with Halloween coming up!

 

Consolidated Materials List:

Plan of Salvation Printable

Blindfold

objects such as toys, treats, scriptures, picture of Christ

Fort building materials (couch cushions, chairs, blankets, sheets, etc.)

Nerf guns and/or other soft ammo (pillows, paper airplanes, crumbled paper rocks, etc.)

Righteous ammo printable

9 pieces of Fruit

other ingredients for your fruit salad/pizza/smoothie

Fruits of the Spirit printable

 

Be on the look out for a Jenga tower and suit of armor!

 

 

Image by HeVoLi from Pixabay

 

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- July 2019

This month has a running theme of yummy treats and service! You’ll want to identify two families and/or charitable groups to work with this month. I included some charitable organizations at the bottom to consider.

I included Children’s Scripture Resources again, but I’m running out of chapters in the books I know about. Seriously after this month there is only one more chapter in the New Testament Stories book and one in the My First Scripture Stories book…for the REST OF THE YEAR. Anyone have any bright ideas or other resources to help with the epistles we’ll be starting soon???? I’ll be doing some research this month, but please share if you know of anything!

July 1-7 Ye Shall Be Witnesses Unto Me

Children’s Scripture Resources: New Testament Stories Chapter 55, 56, beginning of 57; My First Scripture Stories– Jesus Teaches the Apostles; New Testament Stories for Young Readers- I Want to Follow Jesus, Jesus Said to Share the Gospel

Song: Give Said the Little Stream pg 236

Materials- ingredients for a treat already measured out

Help children begin to understand sharing and the law of consecration discussed in Acts 4. Prepare the ingredients for a favorite treat by measuring everything out into small bowls or baggies. Give each member of the family a set of ingredients to be in charge of. Divide them out unevenly so some members have large amounts and others have very small amounts (for example one family member might have a few cups of flour and the eggs while another family member only has a few tablespoons of baking powder). Explain that Jesus asks us to give EVERYTHING to Him, no matter how big or small and then he will give us back something wonderful. Ask each family member to give everything they have to make the treat. Once the treat is made ask if the person who had the little ingredients should get less of the treat. Explain that even though what someone gives may seem smaller than someone else, it’s still important to the Lord just like how the small ingredients are still important to the recipe, and that as long as we give our personal best the Lord will give us something equally good.

July 8-14 What Wilt Thou Have Me Do

Children’s Scriptures Resources- New Testament Stories- Chapter 57, 58, 59, 60; My First- The Epistles of Paul (most of the content is actually from Acts)

Song: I Feel My Savior’s Love (vs 4) pg. 74

Materials: scriptures, materials for service project

Tell the children about Tabitha, New Testament Stories Chapter 60 is a good resource. Discuss how Tabitha helped bring people to Christ first because of her service and then because of the miracle performed for her. Talk about nice things you can do for people each day and then plan a small service project you could do in your ward (for the families you minister to, a new family, or someone going through a trial) or community.

July 15-21 The Word of God Grew and Multiplied

Children’s Scripture Resources: This is a stretch, but- Jesus Loves Me

Song: I’ll Walk With You pg. 140

Materials- multi-colored eggs, ingredients for a treat, matching game

Find eggs with different colored shells. You can typically find brown eggs in regular grocery stores, but I also have some friends who raise backyard chickens and they have given me eggs in a whole range of colors- the more colors the better, but at the very least get some brown and white. Or I guess you could pull out some Easter supplies and dye them ahead of time, but don’t boil them.

Show the kids the multi-colored eggs and ask them to describe them. Talk about how people are all different as well, we look different, our skin is different colors, we come from different places, etc. Then crack each egg into it’s own bowl. Each egg looks basically the same on the inside. Help them understand that while we look different on the outside we are all the same on the inside and we are all children of God. He loves all of us the same! You could then use the eggs to make a yummy treat (do you see a pattern here??) and explain that when we all work together we can do great things.

While the treat is baking you could play this matching game of kids from around the world.

July 22-28 The Lord Had Called for Us to Preach the Gospel

Children’s Scripture Resources: New Testament Stories Chapter 61, 62, beginning of 63

Song- your favorite Christmas song

Materials: Christmas decorations, Christmas cookie ingredients, gifts for your chosen person or group, wrapping paper

Christmas in July!!! Yes! Pull out some simple Christmas decorations. Sing some carols. Bake some Christmas cookies (I really don’t know why this month is all about food, but why not???) Maybe even watch a Christmas movie. Then read Acts 20:35 “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Take “Christmas presents” to someone in need (bonus points if you wrap them in festive paper!). Maybe someone in your ward going through a rough time. Maybe to a charity (I’ll list a few below the materials list). A homebound sister or brother. A new family in your neighborhood. Think and pray about who could use some Christmas in July.

July 29- Aug 4 A Minister and a Witness

Children’s Scripture Resources: New Testament Stories Chapter 63

Song: Love is Spoken Here pg 190

Materials: toy snake

No stuffed sheep today- this time you need a snake toy. If you don’t have one- I mean how would you not have one??? But if you don’t, you can find them at the dollar store for, well $1. Explain the promises Jesus made in Mark 16:18 then act out the stories in Acts 28:1-9. Discuss Priesthood blessings for healing and times you have seen the Lord fulfill promises.

Consolidated Materials:

ingredients for a treat already measured out

scriptures

materials for service project

multi-colored eggs

ingredients for a treat

matching game

Christmas decorations

Christmas cookie ingredients

gifts for your chosen person or group

wrapping paper

toy snake

Charities to consider for Christmas in July

Gathering Humanity– AZ based, this group assists recently arrived refugees and asylum seekers. They need household items to set up apartments for newly arriving refugees and back pack kits to give to asylum seekers. They keep a list on their website of needed items.

Maggie’s Place– AZ based, this organization provides housing to pregnant women who have nowhere else to go. They provide them with education, tools, and resources necessary to get on their feet so that they can provide for themselves and their baby. They take moms at any point in pregnancy and allow them to stay in the housing up until the baby is typically about 6 months old, additionally, they continue to reach out to assist alumni moms. They can use women’s clothing (especially maternity and interview appropriate clothing), anything and everything baby related, cleaning supplies and hygiene items (full size not travel size), and toys and books for young children.

Your local NICU- I was only a NICU warrior momma for 10 days, some of those families are there for months. Those 10 days were very lonely and hard so you can imagine how exceptionally lonely and difficult it must be for those with a much longer stay. Each year at Christmas we take treats and a card to the NICU for the current families, but how awesome to get something at a random time of year. Some small things that would mean a lot to NICU families- gift cards to local fast food restaurants (hospital food gets real old real fast- and again I’m saying that after only 10 days), pocket size hand sanitizer (don’t want to spread any germs to the littles!), lotions (be careful about scents as little tiny babies can have super delicate skin), puzzle books or adult coloring books, little treats, etc. You would probably want to call ahead to find out how many families to plan for and to find out specific policies. Know that your children would likely not be able to enter the NICU (when we drop things off my husband keeps the kids where they can look through the window at the babies in the nursery), and you will probably either leave the items with the desk or in the family break room.

For the record my NICU baby is totally fine- she’s almost 3 now and has had no lasting issues. If you want you can read our story.

Image by Melissa Etheridge from Pixabay

Christ-Centered Easter Activity Countdown- 2019

Time to get inspired for Easter!  With Easter being April 21 we will start our countdown on Friday March 29th.  A lot of these will be repeats from last year but I’m also going to incorporate some of this year’s activity from the Friend Magazine.  They don’t start until Palm Sunday so I won’t be going along day by day because I like to give Easter as much attention and preparation as we give Christmas.  I hope this helps you as you make your Easter preparations more intentional.

  1. Friend The Miracle of Easter (Day 2) “When Jesus was a boy, He lived with Mary and Joseph in a city called Nazareth. He always did what Heavenly Father wanted Him to do.”  Date with Dad- It’s our ward’s Father/Son camp out but you could substitute any activity with Dad!
  2. Friend (Day 3) “When Jesus grew up, He went to the Jordan River. He asked His cousin, John the Baptist, to baptize Him. Then He began to teach others about Heavenly Father.”  We will have cousins in town so we’re going to party with cousins, but you could also attend a baptism if possible.
  3. Jesus is the Light of the world.  Use trick candles on cupcakes, as the kids blow them out and they re-light explain that even though they tried to put out Jesus’ light, his light did not go away.  (Got this from The Joy Journey, scroll down, it’s one of the last activities, this is also a great resource for ideas!)
  4. Jesus created the World for us- visit a zoo or aquarium to see some of His creations.
  5. 2018 Friend activity #3– “Jesus said, “I thirst.” Jesus felt pain and was terribly thirsty. He understands whenever you feel sick or tired or hurt. Jesus wants us to help others who are ill or tired. What can you do to help someone in your family who isn’t feeling well or is very tired?”  Serve someone who has been ill (take a meal, make a card, take treats to the hospital, etc.)
  6. Read the Easter Story from this month’s Friend Jr.
  7. He is Risen cut and paste, there’s also a tracing one
  8. Jesus rode in to Jerusalem on a donkey- go to a petting zoo with a donkey
  9. Resurrection Eggs for toddlers
  10. Jesus continued His church by calling a Prophet.  Read about President Nelson in the Friend and watch General Conference.
  11. Friend Jr. Life of Jesus Christ Sequencing activity.  I will put each picture in an egg and make it an egg hunt and then sequence and talk about each part of Christ’s life.
  12. 2018 Friend activity #5– “Jesus said, “Behold thy mother!”  Before he died, Jesus asked one of His disciples to take care of Mary, His mother.” Mom date!  Our ward will be having a mother/daughter activity this evening but again, this could be any fun activity with mom.
  13. Jesus prayed in a garden and after his Resurrection he visited Mary in a garden- visit the Botanical Garden (they have butterflies this time of year!!!)
  14. Jesus was the Lamb of God, make a lamb craft
  15. Easter Movie Night, we will probably watch To This End Was I Born, and one of the VeggieTales Easter shows.
  16. Friend (Day 1)- “Our Heavenly Parents love us dearly. They want us to live with Them forever. Before we came to earth, Heavenly Father knew we would need someone to show us the path back to Him. We would need someone to save us from our sins. Who could He send to save us?”  Talk about our Heavenly Family, and Jesus as our older brother.  Explain that because they love us they gave us our Earthly Families as well.  Extended family Easter Egg hunt.
  17. Friend (Day 5)- “Some people were angry with Jesus because of His teachings. They didn’t believe that He was the Son of God. Jesus knew it was almost time for the greatest miracle of all. Jesus gave His disciples the sacrament to help them remember His sacrifice for us. Then He went with some of the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. There He prayed to Heavenly Father, and He felt the pain of all of our sins. He did this so we could repent and return to live with our Heavenly Parents.”  Take the sacrament at church.
  18. Friend (Day 6)- “After Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, people came with swords to arrest Him. They took Him to Pilate, the governor of Judea. Then they took Him to a cross on a hill called Calvary.”  Make palm frond crosses- my little brother will grab some extra palm fronds for us from the Palm Sunday service at the Episcopal church he attends.  Here’s a simple tutorial.
  19. Friend (Day 4)- “Wherever He went, Jesus taught and helped people. No one had ever seen anyone do miracles like He did! He healed people who couldn’t walk and people who couldn’t see. He blessed children and taught people how to pray. He even brought a girl who had died back to life. What greater miracles could there be than these?”  Do a service project to be a miracle for someone else.
  20. Easter Sequencing Activity– this one focuses just on Christ’s death and Resurrection- the other one I’m using covers His whole life.
  21. Show a picture of Jesus washing the Apostles’ feet, then wash each others’ feet in a foot spa or just in the tub.
  22. Make an “Easter Garden” in a pot with some little plants, a rock for the tomb, etc.  Mine will be much simpler than the one in the link, but it gives a good idea for reference.
  23. Make Resurrection Rolls, and tell the Easter story as you do it
  24. Friend (Day 8)- “Jesus really did live after He had died, and so will we! He visited with His disciples for 40 days. He ate with them and talked with them. What a joyful time it was! Then He asked His disciples to meet Him on a mountain. He told them what they should do after He went to heaven. And He gave them a promise that He would always be with them. This wonderful promise is for us too!”  Use a glove and your hand to explain the Resurrection.  I explain how I do this in my Family Home Evening post for this month.

Come, Sweet Death

When I was about 5, shortly after my grandfather passed away, my Grandma had been going through and organizing old boxes (a favorite a past time of hers).  She pulled her wedding cake topper and gave it to me saying, “I probably won’t be around for your wedding so I want you to have this now.”  Well, she did make it to my wedding just shy of her 90th birthday, and proceeded to last another 6 years beyond that.

IMG_20180201_174120

On January 21, 2018, just two months shy of her 96th birthday, my Grandmother peacefully passed from this world.  In the days following, as is expected, people have offered their condolences, saying things like, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or remarking on the sadness of it.

Of course I appreciate everyone’s condolences and well wishes, but to be honest, and I hope this doesn’t make me sound uncaring or cold, I have not felt sadness or loss over her death.  I have felt only peace and joy at her passing.

Background

As I mentioned, my grandma was almost 96.  Her husband, my grandfather, passed away almost 25 years ago.  At that time she was living one street over from her older sister who was also a widow.  They were companions then and my grandma cared for her sister up until she passed about 16 years ago.  Living in St. George, which was basically a glorified retirement community, she still got together with “the girls” on a regular basis and busied herself with family history work.  But as the years went on, more friends passed, and she spent much of her time alone, she began to be plagued with paranoia, anxiety, and other health concerns.  About 10 years ago we thought we were going to lose her, but she bounced back and chose to move into semi-assisted living back in St. George as she had several friends living in the same community.  She “de”-aged after moving there, surrounded by people again.  Which was a huge testament to me of the need for human connection.  I was living in Provo and would visit roughly once a semester.  She would take me to the cafeteria to show me off to her friends and bring me to play cards with “the girls.”

On one of the card playing adventures the ladies began discussing other ladies in the community.  After making a comment about someone my grandma said, in a very plain and matter of fact tone, “She used to play cards at that table, [pointed to the next table over] but she died.”  Then a few minutes later the following conversation took place:

Friend: “Did you hear about Doris?”

Grandma: “Yes, her daughter came to help her move.”

Friend: “Well, she was going to move, but then she died.”

Grandma: “Oh, that’s nice.”

I was baffled and had no idea how to react.  These ladies were talking about people in their community dying as casually and almost as celebratory as my friends and I would discuss people getting married.  It began to occur to me that it was just the next step to them, just like my friends getting married or graduating.  They were happy for them.

Loss

Grandma lived in that community for about 6 years.  She continued to drive herself and her friends around past the age of 90 and took care of all of her own finances.  She walked slowly but without assistance.  While she ate most of her meals in the dining room with the other residents, she could still fix herself a simple meal as needed.  She kept her apartment impeccably clean and organized.

And then one day, about 4 years ago, she lost it all.

It’s unclear as to the exact order of events.  They aren’t sure if she suffered a minor stroke which caused a fall, or if she fell and hit her head causing a small stroke.  But however it happened at 92 she started her decline.  We moved her to Arizona, first to a care facility near my parents house, then into the mother-in-law suite attached to my parents’ house, where my mom’s mom was already living, and then finally a year ago, her care became too involved and she was moved into another care center where she died.

Perhaps the reason I have not felt sorrow or loss in her death is because I started the grieving process 4 years ago as I watched her body and her mind fail her.  She suffered a few falls, one that broke her hip, because she couldn’t remember that she couldn’t walk on her own.  She began to struggle with terrible panic attacks.  She lost the ability to keep any sort of conversation.  She could hardly follow a television program.  It got to the point where she wasn’t really living, she was mostly just existing.  She wasn’t really Grandma anymore, we lost her a long time ago.

There were sweet moments as well.  She began to have conversations with lost loved ones, or would ask about them.  My dad had been contacted by some distant cousins to help do the temple work for their Uncle’s second wife, Therle.  I had never heard anyone in the family mention her before this experience, and my dad had not said anything to Grandma about the plans.  But one day, a week or so before my dad was going to meet his cousins at the temple, out of nowhere Grandma asked, “And how’s Therle doing?”

The time she lived here in Arizona allowed her to spend time with her great-grandkids.  She would perk up a lot when they were around.

But the overarching question she constantly asked over those 4 years was, “When can I go home?”  And in all of hearts we started to ask the same question, when could she go home?

Sweet Death

The sadness I have felt in this experience has not been in her death, but for how long she lingered.  I don’t feel the need to seek understanding for why the Lord took her as so many do in situations of untimely deaths, the understanding I have been looking for is why she was made to linger so long.  It’s painful to wonder how much loneliness, pain, mental anguish, boredom, and complete lack of independence someone can endure, only to watch it get worse and worse, and feel so powerless to do anything meaningful about it.

The decision was finally made to discontinue some of the medications that were keeping her alive and just make her comfortable.  When my parents let me know that the decision had been made and hospice estimated it would only be a few more weeks, I felt very much at peace.  We made arrangements to get the family together to visit her and for my husband to assist my dad to give her a final Priesthood blessing.

Typically when we talk about Priesthood blessings, they are intended to seek healing.  This one was very different.  My dad, seeking prompting by the Spirit, blessed her that she would see her loved ones soon, and that she would not be afraid but would feel peace.  He blessed her to die.

She was asleep the whole time we were there, and was struggling to breathe.  As we sat there with her the words to this song came to my mind, and became almost like a prayer for her:

Come, sweet death, come, blessed rest!                                                                                    Come lead me to peace                                                                                                            because I am weary of the world,                                                                                                    O come! I wait for you,                                                                                                                  come soon and lead me,                                                                                                                  close my eyes.                                                                                                                                Come, blessed rest!

That idea of death being sweet and blessed was very real.  She was weary of the world in so many ways.  Her body was weary.  Her heart was weary as most everyone she had associated with in this life went before here.  Come soon.  I didn’t want to watch her suffer any more, I wanted it to come soon.  And it did.

We had figured it would still take a few days for her medications to leave her system.  However, the very next day my dad received a call from hospice telling him they believed it was going to happen that day and that he should probably come.  My mom sent me a text message shortly after I got home from church relaying the news but said that it might be several hours.  I wavered for a minute on whether or not I should head over then or wait, but since it was Sunday and my husband was home to take care of the kids, I decided I should just go ahead and go.

Shortly after getting on the road for my 40 minute trip across town, my mom sent another message that said it would be soon.  I was full of nervous energy wanting to be there, but also a little bit afraid to be there as she passed.  I can’t really explain it, but the idea of being with someone as they pass has always sounded odd to me, but I hoped that this might help me work through some of those anxieties.  When I was about halfway there I had this sudden peace come over me, and had the thought that she was gone.  I immediately second guessed myself and the nervousness came back only to followed by peace again and a voice that said, “You’re not going to make it in time.”  About three minutes later my mom sent another message that she was gone.

As I pulled up to her care center, knowing she had already passed, but wanting to see her, I got this distinct impression, I could almost see it, that she was with my grandpa, and they were so happy, almost giddy.  It was beautiful.  Her death was sweet.

Final Acts of Service

About a year ago, knowing that his mother’s death was more imminent than not, my dad began designing a casket.  I think my dad’s love language is building things.  Some might call this gift giving or acts of service, but it’s not just any gift or any act of service, it’s designing and building very customized items.  The design for her casket was based on her old Singer sewing machine that had been her mother’s.  It is now over 100 years old and has been a prized possession.  About a week before her passing, he showed her pictures of the almost completed casket, she was able to whisper that it was beautiful.  Below is the sewing machine to the left (sorry I should have gotten a better picture of the front), and the completed casket to the right.

 

 

It was not quite complete before her passing.  I began helping to stain it before we went to see her the last time then continued that evening and after she passed.  My 3 year old had taken quite an interest into what Grampses (that’s what he calls my dad) was doing in the garage.  We explained to him that it was a casket, that Great-Grandma Ramsey’s body would go in the casket when she died, but that her spirit would go to Heaven.  We got him set up inside with some blocks so we could work in the garage, but he came running up to me with the blocks and excitedly exclaimed, “Let’s build a casket!!”  He proceeded to build a casket out of blocks then showed it to me and explained, “This one’s for her spirit.”  It sounds a little creepy out of context, and I made sure to warn his preschool teacher the following week that he might build a casket out of blocks.  But it was so sweet and innocent and I hope that he can keep that perspective of service for the dying.  One of the hard parts of watching someone go, is not being sure what to do about it.  Should you sit there and just watch?  I don’t know, and the answer is probably different for everyone, but it felt right to be honoring her by helping my dad finish his final tribute to her.

Additionally I had the beautiful and sacred experience to assist in preparing her body for burial.  It is customary for endowed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be buried in their temple clothing.  When possible, this is traditionally done by other endowed family members of the same gender.  For those who are unfamiliar with the temple, there is a beautiful and short video that briefly explains this clothing and it’s importance.  In the temple we receive instruction and make covenants in endowment rooms, which includes putting on this special clothing, also referred to as the robes of the Holy Priesthood.  Temple worship service culminates by entering the Celestial Room which “[symbolizes] heaven, where we may live forever with our family in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.” (See reference and more information here.)

Honestly, when I first got the news that they were just making her comfortable and realized that this service of dressing her would fall to my mom and me, I felt anxious.  As I mentioned before the thought of being with someone when they died was a bit frightening to me.  The thought of touching a dead body, was very disturbing.  I can’t really explain exactly why, but it made me queasy.  I asked around for advice from others who had done this for their own relatives and received a lot of wonderful responses.  One of the responses that helped me work through my concerns was a reminder of the women who prepared Christ’s body for burial.  That was a beautiful way to think of it, so I carried that with me, and while it was still difficult at first to touch her, I was able to do it.  I felt the need to take extra care to make sure everything was straight and tied beautifully.  My mom and I chuckled a little together as my grandma had been incredibly neat and tidy, maybe to the point of being a bit obsessive compulsive about it.

I reflected on that desire to be neat after we finished and left her in the funeral home.  I thought about my first time going to the temple.  I was living in Provo at the time, my parents in Arizona, which made St. George (her home) a good meeting spot.  At that time she was having a difficult time sitting anywhere besides her own chair at home for long periods of time which would make attending the temple difficult.  I spoke to her and let her know what the plan was, that I would love it if she could be there, but would understand if her physical limitations would not allow it.  Her response was that she would, “take an extra pill if needed.”  I don’t know what those pills were, but apparently they worked, and she was able to come.  I remember her fussing over me a little to make sure everything was straight and neat.  As I was reflecting on this, the beautiful thought came to me, that she had helped me to be prepared to enter the Celestial Room of the temple nearly 10 years ago, but now I had symbolically prepared her to enter the presence of the Lord in the Celestial Kingdom.

To picture her finally fulfilling her desire of going home, to her eternal home, reinforced in my heart and soul that her death was sweet.