This week was our spring break and, in search of warmer weather and sunshine, we headed south to St. George. However, a cold front moved in just before we headed out. Although St. George found us in warmer weather than the 30 degree temperatures at home, it was still a little chilly compared to what we expected. The pool was closed but we had a grand time hiking and exploring in Zion’s National Park. Since we were so close, we decided to make the two hour drive to Las Vegas for the afternoon. I had researched all the fun and free things to do with kids there; aquariums, lions, white tigers, light and water shows, techtronics…It all sounded great! I had been to Las Vegas a handful of times growing up and always thought it was fun.
We spent hours walking the strip and looking for the amazing things on my list. Problem was, all the things to see were conveniently located in the middle of each casino. That meant wandering around through the smoky haze of one-armed bandits looking for the ‘kid-friendly’ attractions. Traveling down the strip on foot with five kids made the casinos that had something we were interested in seem very far apart. Still, I thought we were having an adventure. I remember being impressed that no one standing on the street with pamphlets and pornography had even once tried to hand any to us. I thought, “Look, they are being respectful of us because we are here as a family. See, Las Vegas can be enjoyed by families like us without worry.” I knew that some people thought that Vegas was a horrible place but I had always had fun there without drinking or gambling. Besides, our family had a technique we learned from the Duggars to help our boys avoid things they shouldn’t see. We had been doing this for a couple of years and the kids were pretty well conditioned. Upon approaching something that we thought they didn’t need to see, like a girl that was dressed immodestly or the windows of the Victoria Secret store in the mall, we would say “Nike”. That was code for the boys to look at their shoes until they were told the coast was clear. If we came across something in Vegas, we could use this technique to avoid it.
At one point in our search for those cool things to see, I looked down at the ground to maneuver the stroller over a curb and was sickened to realize that the pornographic pamphlets were littering the ground by the dozens. No one had to hand us any brochures because they knew that all we had to do was look down to see everything they had to offer. Oh, the cunningness of Satan! I was sickened to realize that, not only had I not protected my sons from temptation, I had paraded them straight through it! In the pursuit of pleasure and adventure, I had discounted the enticings of the devil as something that could be withstood and even overlooked. While this is an extreme example, I am afraid that there are other, more subtle ways in which the adversary successfully lulls us into a false sense of security when temptation and dangers are lurking. It is in the books and movies and tv shows and music and youtube videos and facebook postings and text messages. And, while we can’t shield our children from every evil and temptation in the world, I can be much more vigilant in standing firm and not falling to the tendency to overlook “just a few little things”.
We ended our spring break vacation with a trip to the St. George temple. My two oldest children were able to go in and be baptized and confirmed for the dead by their dad. How grateful I was for their worthiness and desire to be there! How much I want to do all I can to foster that desire and to fill up their lives with opportunities that invite the Spirit and grow their testimonies! That is so much more important than glitter and glitz and neon signs and empty pleasures. Satan may have walked away laughing that night in Las Vegas – I want to make sure he doesn’t get that chance again.