Saturday, June 11, 2016

Lessons From My Children: Natalia; Persistence Wins


Natalia was born October 17, 1985. The story of her birth is a miracle, and we owe a world to Dr. Rosenfield. After Sheri had become pregnant again, we moved back to Utah, close to where Sheri’s family lived. Sheri had intense monitoring during the pregnancy in light of the result of her first two pregnancies. Sheri’s labor was started, as they didn’t want her to go over her due date because of her past experiences. During her labor, they noticed that the baby’s heartbeat would slow down whenever Sheri would lay on her side. Sheri had to remain on her back, but they were still worried about what this might mean.

They thought that perhaps the baby had ingested some fecal waste, and because of their concern, they asked the local pediatrician, Dr. Rosenfield, to attend to the baby’s birth. During the childbirth, the baby’s heart rate dropped greatly. The umbilical cord had wrapped around the baby’s shoulder and this caused the problem. They decided to push the issue and deliver the baby as quickly as possible. They used forceps to pull Natalia out of the womb, leaving red marks on her forehead.

When Natalia was born, she did not breath. Dr. Rosenfield and the pediatric nurses (Aunt Judy, Sheri’s aunt was one of them) grabbed Natalia and took her to a table. There they did what they could to get her to breath. Sheri and I sat staring at them as they worked with Natalia, slapping her on her feet, and trying to get her to go. They put a tube down her throat and started pumping air into her. A minute passed and she still did not breath.

Sheri and I were stunned at the activity. It was almost like we were forgotten during all of this. It was almost 90 seconds before Natalia first cried. You can imagine the relief we felt at that cry. After that first cry they continued to shake her and jostle her to keep her going.

They cleaned her up, and brought her to us to meet her. I noticed her eyes. They went back and forth, back and forth studying everything. They reminded me of the cyborg eyes from Battle Star Galatica. They were beautiful as they went back and forth, back and forth.

Natalia’s name comes from Argentina. I had met a young woman, Natalia Bonavena, and liked the name, so I determined my first daughter would be called Natalia. The name fits her, as it means rejoicing in birth, and that we certainly did. I put a big sign up at our house, “It’s a Girl,” to welcome Natalia and Sheri home.

Natalia taught me to be a parent, and to realize it is not all glamour and games. She taught us that sometimes the diaper leaks and poop goes everywhere. (That was a Sunday at church and fortunately we lived close enough to church that Sheri could take her home and change her dress.) It happens, and you laugh and roll with it.
But the life lesson that Natalia taught me is that often the turtle wins. Natalia’s favorite animal is a turtle, but I am referring to the story of "The Tortoise and the Hare." Natalia was born with average intelligence. Her brothers on the other hand, have always tested smarter. But Natalia gets better grades than all of them. Discipline plays an important factor in life, which breeds faith, which in turn creates success.  A friend once told me that.

Natalia had a terrific fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Jackson, who influenced her greatly. The most important thing Natalia learned that year was how to study and organize. She learned a basic principle; it is more important how you study than your general intelligence.

More important than talent, is doing. The person who does, the person who performs, feels good about their effort, and consequently they have more faith. I like what James said about faith in his general epistle in the Bible:

14. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?
15. If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food.
16. And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17. Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble.
20. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21. Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22. Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23. And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (James 2: 14-24)

There is a relationship between actions, faith and accomplishment. Those who put in effort, who are disciplined, have an increase in faith. And those with an increase in faith have an increase in performance and success. This can be measured in grades at school, prayers said, scriptures read, or in financial success.
It was James who also wrote the scripture that inspired Joseph Smith to pray in the grove, and initiate our dispensation:

5. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.
6. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that waivereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
7. Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (James 1: 5-7)

This scripture moved Joseph to act. Faith creates action. President Kimball said, “…Remember that there were no heavenly beings in Palmyra, on the Susquehanna or on Cumorah when the soul-hungry Joseph slipped quietly to the Grove, knelt in prayer on the river bank, and climbed the slopes of the sacred hill.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer Kimball p. 142)

Schoolwork is not the only area where Natalia demonstrates discipline and faith. She is faithful in reading her scriptures and saying her prayers. Her faith has been rewarded with a testimony of Jesus Christ and of the restoration of the gospel. Spencer Kimball also said, “In faith we plant the seed, and soon we see the miracle of the blossoming.” (ibid. p 142) Natalia has received the miracle of testimony in her life, because she was willing to plant and nurture and tend the seed.

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