Tuesday, February 19, 2013

of Faith and Nerf

On this particular day in late December our little cottage in the canyon was packed to the brim. We had 13 humans all crammed in together and you couldn't step anywhere with out squishing something or someone. It was AWESOME! This particular morning the air was charged withe anticipation because we were prepping for the great and dreadful NERF WAR. I had crawled into the depths of the closet under the stairs which my brother referred to as the "slasher closet", and truthfully really did look like something out of a slasher movie, and pulled forth (cue the angelic chorus) "THE ALL POWERFUL BUCKET OF NERF".

Now it may look like a simple 5 gallon Home Depot contractors bucket, but I promise, within it's depths lies so much more. It contains finely studied ammunition and weaponry. It represents hours of target practice (shooting the dogs) and detailed studies of aerodynamics ("look at how the darts go behind the frig when I hold it like this"). And most of all it symbolizes the most fun we have at Christmas time. I hate to say it but if asked, I bet my kids would vote to save the bucket of Nerf over the Christmas tree with out blinking an eye.

My 3 grandsons, 4, 6 and 8 years old, were crazy with anticipation, unlike the rest of the family who were still asleep, so I set about to give them something that would keep them entertained for a while. Out of old foam core boards from assorted abandoned art projects I cut 3 shields. I was even so awesome as to fit the shields with pieces of waistband elastic (leftover from Christmas PJ's) so the boys could slip the shields onto their arm. I handed the boys each a shield and the washable markers and let them go to town. I did learn washable markers don't adhere all that well to the slick surface of the foam core, and before long there was some smearing, but what the heck, it was all washable, right? At leasts that's what I said to their mom when she saw their faces and hands coverered with red, blue and green ink.

Finally after much pleading from the littles, the bigs were dragged out of bed, fed and pushed into assorted cars. We arrived at our nearby church where we had the building to ourselves. Teams were drawn up and rules were made that pretty much no one followed and for over an hour sanctioned mayhem prevailed. Squeeling, laughing and a massive amount of darts flying in all directions. Except me, it was my job to hold the sleeping newborn baby of course. They began with assorted strategies but for the most part they just shot each other until they ran out of ammo and then reloaded and started again. The only rule that they adhered to was that if you got hit you had to "die", meaning throw yourself on the floor for ten seconds before you could get up again. Most "deaths" were award winning in their theatrics and never lasted a full 10 seconds and somehow the dead person had managed to completely reload at the end of their brief visit to the great beyond.

Truth be told, I would choose the bucket over the tree if anyone asked.

This last week I was getting ready to sing with my 4-11 year olds in church and was thinking about what we do to protect ourselves spiritually. I got to thinking back on the shields that I made with my grandsons. I hadn't paid much attention to it at the time, but the shields were pretty much abandoned after about ten minutes. It seems to me that it just took too much coordination to hold up the shield while trying to shoot everyone within range. To be watching the enemy and aiming and shooting took up most of everyone's concentration. To be able to swing up that arm and fend off incoming darts at the same time would have taken more practice than the once a year we have our Nerf war.

So on Sunday I told the kids that story and explained that we could look at that shield as if it were our faith (see D&C 27:15-18). Our faith can shield us from so much that could harm us, but we are going to have to practice. We need to exercise our faith every day if we are going to balance all that comes and goes in our lives.

Then we sang this song:
"Faith is knowing the sun will rise, lighting each new day.
Faith is knowing the Lord will hear my prayers each time I pray.
Faith is like a little seed if planted it will grow.
Faith is a swelling within my heart, when I do right I know."

My own faith has shielded me time and time again. There have been some pretty good darts that have come my way, and a handful of times when they have come from all directions. And let me tell you I have given some award winning performances myself as I have throw myself to the ground, sure this dart or that may have been my undoing. But for some reason I never abandonded my sheild. And my shield never abandoned me.

So what if I had to choose between the three, bucket, tree or shield? I'll choose the sheild. Even if I have to practice.


  1. *gasp!* my mother in law is a blogger! Wonderful post, I am going to subscribe right now!! Nerf is just the best for getting ones wiggles out, isn't it?

  2. I love your writing! You are amazing!

  3. Ah, but the tree - the tree is an ages-old symbol of the cross upon which the savior achieved the atonement. In medieval English language lit, "the tree" is that atonement, the sort of planet-covering shield that is also tricky to wear properly. And the pine tree we favor at the celebration of the birth of child is a metaphor, as you already know, of the Tree of life, and eternal life. So the choice is tough. Or maybe, really, there are two choices here?

  4. Thank you, K, for what would our shield of faith guard if not our faith in the atonement!