Sunday, March 05, 2017

A cycle of making and keeping sacred covenants - Sacrament talk - 23 Aug 2015

Towards the middle of my missionary service in California, I was transferred to the Mohave Desert.  During my first Sunday in the new ward I was serving in, someone, I don’t remember who, told us about a family they had heard about that wanted to visit with us.  A missionary loves to hear that kind of thing, we headed over there as soon as we could.  We met Jake and Lori, Jake had been a member of the church, but had been inactive for a number of years.  Lori was not a member of the church, but had grown up in Ogden Utah, and had the influence of good church members around her.  They had recently had a baby, and were ready to make changes in their lives to come closer to the Lord.
Teaching Jake and Lori, and seeing them commit and recommit to the Gospel was a wonderful experience.  I spent seven months in that area, and became very close to them.  One year later, at the end of my mission, I got a call from Jake and Lori, they were going to the temple to be sealed as a family, and invited me to attend.  A missionary loves to hear that kind of thing, and we made the arraignments to go to their sealing.  We arrived a little late to the temple, I was worried I would miss it, but on entering the temple, I turned to my right, and Jake and Lori’s little baby was running towards me.  She had escaped the children’s waiting room, and ran right up to me.  Jake and Lori’s sealing to each other and to their family was a very special experience.  I am very glad I was able to participate.

Lori was in Utah when Tara and I got married.  When I walked into the sealing room, my family was there, my old roommates were there, and surprise, there was Lori.  Fast forward to a couple of years ago, I had lost touch with Jake and Lori.  They had moved several times, and it was before facebook really took off, so making connections with people you lost touch with was a little harder.  Eventually, we reconnected on Facebook, and I was happy to see that Jake and Lori were still active in the church, still happy, and still striving to keep their covenants.   A year and a half ago, that little girl whose birth prompted in Jake a desire to return to the Gospel, and in Lori a desire to be baptized, the one I remember racing down a hall of the LA temple, with an elderly temple worker trying to catch her, left on a mission and has been serving in Chile.  She returns home soon.  More importantly, she too has made, and is striving keep, sacred temple covenants.

I have thought about this quite a bit in the last year and a half.  There is certainly nothing about that story that really is about me.  I am a happy observer in the life of someone I know.  Any other set of missionaries could have taught them, come to know them very well, and rejoiced in those moments with them, I just happen to be someone that was.  What I think about quite often is this cycle where decisions Jake and Lori made twenty years ago, the decisions they made since, continues to bless their family.  They have started in their family a cycle of making and keeping sacred covenants that I am sure will span generations.  Seeing this has been a blessing and an inspiration in my life.

Isn’t that what every parent in the Gospel wants for their family?  They want their children to be baptized.  They want to see them grow and progress in their testimony, to one day enter the temple and make sacred covenants with our Father in Heaven?  Couples want that in their marriage.  Parents want that for their children.  Children want that for their parents.  Grandparents and Great-grandparents want that for their descendants.  I certainly want that for my family.  I see my children making right choices.  Most of them have been baptized, Adam looks forward to his baptism next year.  I hope they continue on the path, I want to see them in the temple someday, and get a glimpse of Eternity.  I want them to be happy, and see the cycle of making and keeping sacred covenants continue through the generations.  Mary went and got her patriarchal blessing last Sunday.  It was a wonderful experience. 

We see cycles of family discipleship in the Book of Mormon  Lehi & Nephi, Jacob & Enos, King Benjamin & Mosiah, Helaman, his son Helaman, grandsons Lehi & Nephi, great-grandson Nephi,  Mormon and Moroni.  These are all examples of people who lived in multi-generational cycles of discipleship.  We are blessed by their teachings and example.   

Now, I know that doesn’t always happen.  My parents have been active in the church all their lives.  I can’t say the same thing for most of their siblings.  I have four brothers and two sisters, they are not all active in the church.  Decisions in their lives took them away from staying close to the Gospel.  The cycle is a bit broken in my family.  My sisters and a couple of brothers are seemingly disinterested at the moment.  I don’t know what to do for them.  I do know that someday, if that spark rekindles, I certainly will be available to them, my parents will be available to them, we will be happy to help repair that cycle of discipleship in their lives.

For those in a situation like that, where decisions are made that take family members away from the Gospel, that can be very painful.  Sadly, it is not a unique thing.  Everyone has agency, and makes their own choices, and it can be heartbreaking to see it happen to someone you love.  I am not sure that anyone is exempt from seeing that happen.  It is possible that we all know someone we love that has fallen away from the Gospel, who is not doing things to keep themselves close to our Father in Heaven by keeping the covenants they have made.  What can be done? 

We see this as well in the Book of Mormon.  One example is Lehi.  Lehi, as a visionary man, saw in a dream several of his sons not partaking of the fruits of the Gospel.  This grieved his soul, Lehi taught his children over and over in the hopes that the light of the Gospel would spark inside them.  On his deathbed, he taught his wayward sons, in addition to his faithful sons, and his grandchildren, to keep the commandments and the blessings of holding fast to the iron rod.    

Another example was Alma the Elder.  Alma was one of wicked King Noah’s priests, who fled from his life of sin to turn to the Lord.  He taught and brought a people to the Lord.  Later, his son, also named Alma, struggled.  We read about his efforts to tear down the church.  We also read about his conversion.  As Alma the younger had his experience, and was struck dumb, in the process of conversion, Alma the Elder rejoiced.  He knew what was happening to his son.  He fasted and prayed for him.  Surely this was not the first time Alma the Elder fasted and prayed for his son to have a mighty change of heart.  I do not see a man like him waiting for something extraordinary to happen before fasting and praying for his son.  Rather, I see him as someone who prayed for him daily, and fasted often, that his son would return to righteousness.

Continuing to bear testimony, to pray, and to fast for those you love.  There is a real power there that will help bless their lives.  It is true that they will still make their own decisions, to choose their own time to turn back to the Lord, but you can be a strength in their lives.  For those struggling to help those they love, keep praying, keep fasting, keep sharing your testimony, in word or in deed.  You will bless their lives.

What are some ways we can help strengthen our families, to grow testimonies in ourselves and in our families that strengthen us, and build, or continue, a multi-generational cycle of making and keeping sacred covenants with our Father in Heaven?  That multi-generational chain of families that will last through Eternity?  

One way we can do this is through improving our Sabbath day worship.  The Bishop will talk about this in a few minutes.  What are some other ways?  In a recent training session with Bishoprics, I heard the Brethren say that weak Gospel teaching and modeling in the home causes the biggest disruption of the cycle.

Is that meant as an indictment of those that can see a broken cycle right now?  Well, maybe.  There are certainly some that simply are not living the Gospel standards.  They may be caught in a cycle of sin, and it is effecting those they love.  If that is the case, now is the time to repent.  Begin patching up your broken cycle of discipleship.  It is not too late to change, and now is the time.
Weak Gospel teaching and modeling in the home causes the biggest disruption of the cycle.  For those with a broken cycle, whether because of their actions or decisions others have made, improving Gospel teaching and modeling in the home one of the answers.

The Stake President has been outlining a number of goals, with associated blessings, for the members of the Stake.  These goals help us improve the modeling of the Gospel in our own lives.  Let me read some of them, with the promised blessings:

·         Home Teach and Visit teach at 90-95% consistently from home to month.  Pray daily for your home teaching families and visiting teaching sisters.
      And the associated blessings:  Miracles will occur in our lives and the lives of those whom we home and visit teach.  We will become an example Stake in the church.

I am constantly inspired to be a better home teacher by my seven year old son.  He somehow understands the importance of this work.  Brother Carlile can tell you that Adam often asks him when he is coming to home teach us. Our family, especially Adam, loves to have our home teachers over.  Now, Brother Carlile is a faithful home teacher.  We try very hard to make the third Sunday of every month work for him and his companion Trey to come visit us.  I am not sure Adam has caught onto this particular schedule, so he asks a lot.  Adam also occasionally goes with me home teaching.  He will run to get his Sunday clothes on if I tell him I want him to go Home Teaching with me.  He will grab a Friend magazine to be ready to possibly share something, even if he chickens out in the end.  I can see Home Teaching blessing the life of my family, and my son in particular.

·         Pray every day for a missionary opportunity or experience and be willing to act when those opportunities arise.  Pray every day that all nations of the world will be opened to missionary work.  Pray for the missionaries in our Stake, by name, every day and in most, if not all, of your church meetings.
·         And the associated promises:  Fear of doing missionary work will be replaced with faith and confidence.  Names and faces will come into your mind as you pray to know with whom to speak.  We will see missionary miracles.
Brothers and Sisters, those missionary experiences will not always be limited to being with those who are not members of the church.  There are those who have drifted, possibly in your own families, that you will be inspired to reach out to.  I fully expect to have missionary experiences with members of my family someday.

·         Pray night and morning, every day, and then quickly follow the prompting that you receive.  Read and study the scriptures every day.  Attend your three hour block of meetings every Sunday in your own ward.  “Bloom where you are planted.”
      The associated blessings:  We will be the ‘very elect’ who will not be deceived, but rather we will remain dedicated and consecrated with “an eye single to the glory of God”

In short, we will remain inside the cycle of discipleship.  Very simple, fairly easy things that we talk about often in the church.  Prayer, Scriptures, Church attendance, with “Bloom where you are planted” sprinkled in.  Tara and I moved into this ward over 17 years ago.  We had no plans.  We could have been there a year and moved on.  I have said this from this pulpit before, our lives were blessed by engaging in the ward early on, whether we stayed here or not.  We have many that pass through our ward, both they and those of us that are here for a longer time are blessed when we all engage together, grow together, and truly bloom where we are planted, even if for some of us it means leaving someday, and for others of us it means saying goodbye to friends we made as they leave.

·         Hold a temple recommend and NEVER let it lapse.  Use your recommend by attending the temple regularly and performing ordinances for those who are waiting, or performing indexing at the rate of at least 200 names a month.  Find a family name that has not yet had temple work done for them and perform that work in the next twelve months.
       The associated blessings:  The Lord will strengthen the bonds of unity, faith and love in your families, especially those bonds that exist between husband and wife, parent and child, and grandparent and grandchild.  He will help remove selfishness from your soul.  He will reveal clearly to you answers to questions and decisions that you must make that are of a concern to you and that are important in your journey back to him.  Many of those answers will be revealed in the temple.

Brothers and Sisters, can you hear the cycle of discipleship in those particular promises?  The Lord will strengthen the bonds of unity, faith and love in your families, especially those bonds that exist between husband and wife, parent and child, and grandparent and grandchild.  He will reveal clearly to you answers to questions and decisions that you must make that are of a concern to you and that are important in your journey back to him.

Hold a temple recommend and never let it lapse.  If you do not now hold a current temple recommend, let’s fix that.  We as a Bishopric are always available to do a temple recommend interview.  Some just need to come in for an interview.  They are already living their lives in a way to qualify for a temple recommend, they just need to come in for an interview.  Others may have things in their life to fix, and maybe are silently committing right now to hurry and take care of their issues to get that recommend.  Others are unsure, or maybe are too hard on themselves, and need to come in for an interview to talk about it.  Questions about tithing, the word of wisdom, honesty, chastity, and testimony will be asked.  There will be some who walk out of that interview surprised to be carrying a temple recommend with them, and it will be fantastic.

Another blessing from the promises about the temple that the Stake President made.  For all of us, we have ancestors that were not able to make the sacred covenants of baptism and those found in the temple.  There are so many that lived when the Priesthood and the fullness of the Gospel was not on the Earth.  Others did not have the opportunity.  Brothers and Sisters, those people are also working to establish a multi-generational cycle of making and keeping sacred covenants.  The Gospel is being taught to those who have passed on.  We read about it in Doctrine and Covenants section 138.  Speaking of the Savior after his death: 
“From among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the Gospel preached to the dead… These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the Spirit.”
I have been working on the temple work for a set of six brothers on my Mom’s side of the family, that lived in the 1800’s.  There is only one of them left to finish, and a couple of sisters, then the family can be sealed together.  Brothers and Sisters, this generational chain of making and keeping sacred covenants, this chain of discipleship is not meant to extend down just through our children and their children.  It is also being extended up through our ancestors, who look to us to help them make these covenants for them in the temple.  We may not see ourselves in a long running chain today, but one day, after our time on earth is over, we may be surprised to see just how far that chain extends, and our role in helping make that chain happen.

Brothers and Sisters, it is possible for us to start, or continue a multi-generational cycle of discipleship, building families strong in the Gospel.  The family is Eternal.  The family is central to God’s plan for His children.  Because of that, we have the promise of His help in our lives as we strive to improve Gospel teaching in our homes, as we strive to improve Gospel modeling, or living, in our homes.  We will have the Spirit with us to help us.  We will struggle at times, we will have great joy and rejoicing at times.  The way is being laid before us, and we all have the capacity to change and improve.  It is not too late for any of us or those we love. 

The Savior is always standing ready to help, either in our own lives or as we strive to bless the lives of those around us.  As he said: “Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and I will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come.”

May we all be blessed as we try to continue to build an Eternal cycle of discipleship, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Spiritual Spurs - Sacrament talk - 24 April 2016

Spiritual Spurs
24 April 2016

The Spur

In the summer of 2002, I shattered my ankle playing softball.  I was taken to the hospital, where they operated to put the ankle back together, and get me back on the road to recovery.  I spent a month in a wheelchair, a while on crutches, and eventually got moving again.  In October a year and a half ago, I dropped something on that same foot, and it started to hurt, and didn’t really get better.  A couple of months later, I went in to get my foot looked at.  XRays were inconclusive, and I ended up getting a cortisone shot in my ankle.  This helped things for a little while, but the pain came back. 

I tried ignoring it for a while.  Whenever I thought I could, I would try to not limp.  Usually this meant having to sit down at night and put my foot up for hours.  I came to church on Sundays and did my very best to hide it.  It wasn’t the easiest thing to hide all the time, but I still tried.  The ankle hurt all the time.  I finally went back to the doctor.  We scheduled a surgery for the middle of August.  Last summer, I had an increasingly hard time getting around.  I met with the surgeon one more time, and we decided to delay the surgery until mid-December or early January.  I got another shot in my ankle, but that didn’t really help things the second time.

I simply couldn’t walk without pain.  I could choose to hide it, to a point, but the pain was still there.  If I tried walking more than short distances at a time, I couldn’t even hide it, and limped.  I did less and less, deferring where I could in order to avoid walking.

Finally, it came time to have the surgery.  The surgeon presented three outcomes, either he would find something in the ankle that he could fix, he would find something in there that he couldn’t fix, or he wouldn’t find anything.  We were hoping for the first option.  I had gotten a blessing from my Dad in August while back East, and just before I went over to the surgical center, I got another blessing.  I was calm going into the surgery, not really worried at all.

After the surgery, the surgeon came in, and let us know that I had a bone spur in my ankle that he ended up removing, along with bad cartilage and some scar tissue.  He was very positive about a full recovery. 

I went reading up on bone spurs afterwards.  They are small little growths of bone, that in the wrong place, like a joint, and at the wrong size, can cause a lot of issues.  You can have a small spur in a joint that maybe doesn’t bother you at all, or enough to do anything about.  Others, like mine, eventually get noticed, and are always with you, bothering you.

Spiritual Spurs

While teaching in the Americas after His resurrection, the Savior taught: “What manner of men ought ye be?  Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” 

Brothers and sisters, do we have spurs in our lives, causing us problems?  Maybe spiritual spurs? Are we carrying around scar tissue from previous mistakes, holding ourselves accountable to things that we may have repented of, but just can’t forgive ourselves for? It may not take very long at all to identify a few areas in our lives that are those thorns in our sides.  We may be good at hiding them from others, but most are perfectly clear to us. 

Don’t let these things discourage you.  Yes, absolutely we need to work on them.  Yes, absolutely we need to get past our sins, our bad habits, the natural man. 

In Ether 12:27, the prophet Moroni writes the words of the Lord: “And if men come unto me, I will show them their weaknesses.  I give unto men weaknesses that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” And then, two verses later, Moroni's response, which is sometimes looked over: “And I, Moroni, having heard these words, was comforted, and said: O Lord, they righteous will be done, for I know that thou workest unto the children of men according to their faith.”

It may be sin that we just can’t give up.  It may be that we struggle with certain Gospel topics, we struggle with doubt.  It may be like we heard last week.  It’s not that we are doing bad things, it’s that we aren’t really engaged doing good things.  Maybe our scripture study or prayers can be deeper, richer, and more meaningful.  Maybe we can engage in our callings or home and visiting teaching assignments more fully.  Maybe we struggle to attend the temple regularly. 

The point is that in most cases, we can see these things in our lives.  Yes, there are a few circumstances where we may have a blind spot, and need help from those that love us to see.  Family, a spouse, your Bishop; these are all people that love you and can help you know what you need to work on, when you are just stymied about what is holding you back from progressing.
Those things we know, we can work on.  We can be better.  Pick one, and set a goal, if only to yourself, to start working on it.  Then take it to the Lord and ask His help.  It will take work, but in the end, that work is worth it.  We come closer to our Father in Heaven, we have the Spirit more abundantly in our lives, we become more like our Savior, step by step.

Seeing progress

Back to my recent ankle surgery.  Shortly after the surgery, I noticed something interesting happening.  I started seeing, day after day, just a little bit of progress.  Little small things.  The ability to move my toes one day.  Getting out of the cast, and able to move around a little easier day by day.  Being able to bend the ankle a little.  After I was allowed to start putting weight on the ankle, feeling each and every day that I was able to put more and more weight on it, and go just a little further than I could the day before.  Really little things.

Does that mean that every day was easy?  No.  There were days when I did too much, pushed too hard, and paid the price for it.  There were days where I was just so sore, I didn’t want to get moving.  Days where my shoulders were just shredded, and I dreaded getting back up on the crutches.  What do you do in that case?  Say a prayer, ask to have a good day, and keep going.

I still tried to hide the issue the best I could, especially on Sundays.  I traded Brother Selway months to conduct Sacrament meeting.  I got sat down on the stand before most of the ward arrived for Sacrament meeting, stashed the crutches, and sat there until most were out at the end of the meeting. 
Despite that, day after day, things were getting better.  One day, I decided it was time to ditch one of the crutches.  Eventually the other.  When I was walking halfway decent, I started tackling stairs.  One step at a time, small improvements that stacked on each other.

Seeing Progress

As you work to improve yourself, to work on that thing that you most want to improve, you too can see small improvement in yourself, day after day.  The Savior is our perfect example, but he didn’t come to that all at once.  We are not asked to be perfect all at once, either.  It is, however, a pattern or goal for us to strive for as we go about our lives.  The Savior learned and grew, just as we are all doing now.  We read in Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”  It was a process for the Savior, just as it is a gradual process with us.  In D&C 93:13, we read: “And He received a fullness not at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fullness.”

There is a pattern there for us.  That thing – the one thing - that biggest issue for you – you don’t have to overcome it all at once.  You may not be able to.  We can however, take a step in the right direction, do the best we can do, and then take another step in the right direction.  When we fall short of the example the Savior has set for us, or struggle to really and truly progress, we have the Atonement that lets us repent, that lets us lean on Him for support, to give us strength to carry on, and He gets us put back on course to continue changing and being more like the Savior, day after day. 
As we work on our weaknesses, which we are all personally aware of, taking them to the Lord, we will slowly but surely work those things out. It may be a one step at a time, a slow but sure pace, but it will eventually happen. Perfection, or being like Christ, is not a quick process. It's not meant to be.
I am surprised by the number of temple recommend interviews that I do, where we go through all the questions, the member is living a good life, really striving to keep the commandments, which makes them temple worthy, and we get to the last question that says “Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord’s house and participate in temple ordinances”, and the member is not confident enough in themselves to give a definitive yes answer, even though we have already reviewed that they are living a good life and really striving.  It’s not everyone, but it is definitely some.  They just don’t see the progress they are really making, I guess.  As you go to the Lord to work on these weaknesses, of which you are painfully aware, ask him to allow you to see the progress you are making along the way.  In the same way I saw little tiny improvements in the state of my ankle, you can certainly see the good progress you are making, the Lord can certainly open your eyes to see that.

Striving for ‘perfection’

Where am I at with my ankle today?  This week was interesting.  I was in Chicago on Monday and Tuesday, I walked 4 or 5 miles each day.  This is more than I have walked in a very long time.  I expected to have a lot of swelling, and wake up in the morning sore each day.  To my surprise, there wasn’t that much swelling, and it wasn’t sore.  I’ve turned a bit of a corner this week.  I don’t think I am trying to get my ankle rehabilitated anymore.  It’s certainly much better than it was before the surgery.  On Friday, I went to help my brother pour 10 yards of concrete.  I expected to come back sore and swollen, but Friday night, when I thought about it, I was fine.  I am suddenly past the issue, without even realizing it.

Does that mean the ankle is perfect?  No.  I went more than a year walking funny on it, so it will still take a while to get a full range of motion.  If I walk too fast, I can still feel it a bit, I certainly have not started running yet.  When I get on an incline, I can feel it a little.  What I do know is that I am past the issue, well past where I was when I had the surgery, and headed towards 100%.  I’m not going to worry about it anymore, I will keep going, and look for another area of my life to focus on really improving.  The ankle doesn’t need the intense focus on it for it to continue to improve.

Striving for perfection

Doctrine and Covenants 50:24 reads: “That which is God is light; and he that received light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light growth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”  Brothers and Sisters, there is a perfect day ahead.  There is a perfect day for that one thing you want to work on right now, there is a perfect perfect day.  What there isn’t is a timetable for that perfection.  The scriptures do not say that we need to be perfect by our 23rd, or 40th, or 72nd birthday.  It doesn’t say when the perfection needs to come, just that it needs to come.

We have to understand that the process of improving ourselves, the process towards perfection, takes time.  It takes a lot of effort and humility on our part.  We may fall short of our expectations, and see the same thing happening in others.  In this process, we will continue to make mistakes, need to seek forgiveness from the Savior.  We also need to forgive both ourselves and those around us.  I know I can be my own worst critic.  I also have to understand that I am trying, that the Lord has not given up on me, and when I make mistakes, I can pick up from there and carry on.  Our Savior is always there for us.  He is always ready to take our sufferings, our setbacks, and our sins upon Himself. 

The Lord is able to take all of it on, no matter what the problem is.  The person struggling with paying a full tithe might first decide to pay some.  Then they find they can pay more.  They continue to have faith, and one day take the step to pay a full tithe on an income. And the Lord blesses them. Then they do it again on another income, maybe the next check, maybe a few checks later. They continue to ask the Lord for help, continue to act in faith, and eventually they find that they can always pay a full tithe. It's not a problem for them anymore. They've become a perfect tithe payer. Suddenly the title perfect fits with something in their lives. They've taken steps to become more like the Savior. It's not a problem for them ever again, because they have seen the difference paying a full tithe has in their life.  Then they work on something else in their life.

Sometimes we sin. Everyone makes mistakes in their lives, some come under the category of 'sins'.  When this happens, we need to repent. Sometimes we need to visit with the Bishop about it. We most definitely need to overcome our sins. There is nothing better in the world than to know that our sins have been forgiven. The process of laying those sins at the feet of the Savior and overcoming them brings us closer to him.


We all have things in our life that we struggle with, that keep us from reaching our full potential, that we can work on and improve.  It can feel daunting, especially when we are in the middle of them.  In Lehi and Nephi’s vision of the tree of life, they saw multitudes of people pressing forward along the path that lead to the tree of life.  Lehi says some of the people lost their way on the path as a mist of darkness came, wandering off and becoming lost.  Others pressed forward and clung to the iron rod, which Nephi interpreted to be the word of God, until they came to be able to partake of the fruit of the tree. 

I imagine these people, of which we are a part, all had their trials and struggles along this path, even while they held firmly to the rod of iron.  Others may not have had quite the same grip, but stayed close and eventually found their way back to the straight path.  Others may have temporarily lost their grip, and wandered for a while before finding their way back, or getting help from those around them to return to the path.  I will say it again, we are a part of those people that Lehi saw on the path.  The fact that you are here today is an indication that you are somewhere along the path that leads to Eternal life.  You are not totally lost.

Brothers and Sisters, it doesn’t matter where we are in this path, where we feel like we are in this path, no matter what our circumstances, and what all we feel like we need to work on, we can always turn to our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ for help.  They love us, and want the absolute best for us.  Our Savior truly understands our pains, our trials, our struggles, and is always there to help us.  He knows us, and knows how to help.  He can help us see clearly both where we are, where we need to be, and can show us the progress we are making along the way, even when that progress is small amounts at a time.

When we have a problem, we can take that problem to the Lord. We plead with him to help us overcome our problem. We decide on ways we can improve that day, and go out and try. Then we come back and review with the Lord how we did. The next day, we try to do just a little bit better.  Sometimes we have a setback, but we keep working on it. Eventually, we find that it gets easier and easier to overcome the problem. We build confidence in ourselves. We thank the Lord for His help. We suddenly find that whatever the problem was is no longer a problem.  The Lord is able to take all of it on, no matter what it is. 

We live in a hard time.  It can be hard to live the way our Father in Heaven would have us live.  It can be incredibly easy as well.  We have the path before us, and our Savior will always be there for us.  We also live in a wonderful time.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is on the Earth.  The Priesthood is real.  Our Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ love us very much.  They can and will help each and every one of us, as we stretch and do the work to reach out for their help.  May we all have the strength and humility to work to remove those spiritual spurs from our life.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Gratitude & Thanksgiving - sacrament talk - 27 Nov 2016

Gratitude & Thanksgiving
27 Nov 2016

Last summer, our family went on a road trip back East.  I was not feeling well, I went to the doctor the day before we left, and was diagnosed with double ear infections.  I still thought we had everything taken care of, and off we went.  Because I was not feeling well, Tara did much of the driving, especially on the first day.  Somewhere along the way, a semi-trailer blew a tire right next to us.  It sounded like an explosion right next to us, but nothing hit us, the truck driver was able to pull off, and we kept going.  Sometime in the afternoon of the first day, I was asleep in the passenger seat, when I felt a shaking, and Tara pulling over to the side of the road. 

On getting out of the van, we found that one of the rear tires had blown.  We were going 80 miles an hour at the time, and the tire was completely shredded.  There we were, on the side of the road in the middle of Wyoming, cars and trucks zipping past us going 80, the kids off in the weeds trying to stay away from the van and the road, I was sick, and then we had trouble getting the spare tire off.  I called Justin Larsen when I couldn’t get the spare off, he told me what should happen, but the spare was stuck in it’s enclosure, and would not free.  I spent at least an hour being frustrated trying to get it freed, which it eventually did after some well placed kicking in frustration, we got the spare on the car, and drove into the next town.

In the next town, there was one garage.  That garage had one tire that fit our van.  We used it and the spare, because the back tires were shot.  Something I failed to check before we left.  While we waited, someone 20 miles up the road had a big camping trailer roll over in the wind while they were trying to change a tire. 

We eventually got to our stop that night, the next morning I took the van into a tire shop.  The front tires were also worn out, we got new tires on the front as well.  That day, while driving through Nebraska, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the blessings of the previous day.  Grateful that we were protected when the tire blew going as fast as we did, keeping the van on the road without crashing.  Grateful that the van didn’t blow over in the wind while changing the tire.  Grateful that the auto shop had a tire for us, and that we could get somewhere to get the other tires replaced as well.  Grateful that the Lord was watching over us, keeping us safe, protecting us from harm.  Any one of those things could have gone differently, but they didn’t. 
In the scriptures, we are taught to show our gratitude to our Father in Heaven and to our Savior Jesus Christ by thanking them in prayer, in song, in word, and in deed. 

Psalms 100:4 says: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” 
Alma taught:  “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”
In the Doctrine and Covenants, when the Lord teaches about the importance of the Sabbath day, He indicates that the associated blessings of the Sabbath come when we “do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances.”

President Monson and President Hinkley before him have talked often about the need to show our gratitude by giving thanks, both to the people in our lives, and especially to our Heavenly Father and to the Savior. 

How is it done?  What does an ‘attitude of gratitude’ look like, especially for those that are not inclined that way, either by nature, or because things just don’t seem to be going our way?  We may be out of practice.  Life can really feel like everything is going wrong sometimes, but if we take the time to search for the hand of the Lord in our lives, we can see ways he is blessing us.  Nephi calls these the “tender mercies of the Lord”, and cited it at the beginning of his record as one of the things he wanted to teach us about.
When we look for the hand of the Lord in our lives we will certainly find He has been blessing us.  It may be a spirit of peace or comfort at just the right time.  It may be a Sunday lesson that seemingly is given just for you.   Maybe it is simply the fact that you are here today, and were able to renew your covenants with him.  When we look for the hand of the Lord in our lives, we see He is there.  We may not recognize it in the moment, like my experience with that van, it may come later as we reflect on it.  When we see these tender mercies, we certainly should express our thankfulness for them.
In the Book of Luke, chapter 17, we read of an experience of the Savior:
“and it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.  And as He entered into a certain village, there he met ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off; And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.  And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests.  And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.  And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?  There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.  And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way:  thy faith hath made thee whole.”
All ten lepers were healed.  They all benefited from the gift of the Savior.  In this passage, it would seem that the one that had showed his gratitude seems to have been given a greater gift. 

President Monson said “My brother and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive?  Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.”

Brothers and Sisters, what is happening in your life today that you can be grateful for?  Have you thanked your Father in Heaven yet?  If things don’t seem to be going the way you want, are you looking for small tender mercies of the Lord that you can latch on to and gain strength from?  The hymn states:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost, count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
So amid the conflict, whether great or small, do not be discouraged, God is over all.  Count your many blessings, angels will attend, help and comfort give you to your journeys end.
This, brothers and sisters, is the thing.  We can certainly be thankful to our Father in Heaven, because he surely is blessing us all the time, whether we recognize it or not.  If we can’t figure out what to be thankful for, what we really are grateful for, every Sunday we have the opportunity to reflect on the gift of the Savior’s atonement in our lives, as we take the sacrament, and we can thank our Father in Heaven for it.

I certainly have been very, very blessed in my life.  I don’t often recognize it in the moment, usually for me, it is something I have the think about, to reflect on, and the blessings become obvious. I have to actively look for them to find them often times, otherwise I just take them for granted.  It may be different for you, but I hope you can see the tender mercies of the Lord in your life, are grateful for them, and are able to thank Heavenly Father for those blessings, whether they are big or small.

Our Father in Heaven loves us, and is involved in our lives.  I know he loves me and is involved in my life.  I am grateful for that.  I know he loves my family and is involved in their lives, and for that I am grateful.  I know that our Father in Heaven knows and loves each and every one of you, and is involved in your lives.  May we all find the tender mercies of the Lord in our lives, take the time to express our gratefulness for them, big or small, to our Father in Heaven.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Listening to the Spirit - sacrament talk - 22 Jan 2017

Listening to the Spirit will save all our lives
22 Jan 2017 – jjp

Fifteen years ago, Tara was back East visiting my parents with the kids.  I was busy at work with a large time sensitive data center migration project, working some long hours so that we could get done before the start of Fall semester.   One Sunday, in Priesthood, I was talking with a few brethren in the ward about the possibility of going to the park on Saturday and playing baseball.  After a long week at work, Saturday came around, and I should have been doing some work around the house, but like some sort of adult Tom Sawyer, I decided I would rather be playing baseball. 
                As I was grabbing my mitt and bat, the thought came to me that I should stay and do the work around the house that I needed to finish. I ignored it, left the house, and walked over to Dick Keele’s house, to see if him and his boys wanted to play.  They were too busy that morning to play.  The thought came again that maybe I shouldn’t go.  I shrugged it off and walked over to someone else’s house that said they wanted to play.  They too were too busy to play, and again came the thought that maybe I shouldn’t go.  Again I shrugged it off, and walked down the street. 
                On the site where Provo Peaks Elementary is was a school called Farrer, which had a ball diamond where people played pickup games on Saturdays.  I figured I could walk down there and just play with whoever was down there, and if no one was playing, it was a nice day, I would at least enjoy the weather.  The ball diamond wasn’t in the best shape.  When it was wet, mud was everywhere.  When it was dry, the ground was hard, with all kinds of divots and the like.  I got down there, there were some people playing, so I joined them.   Somewhere in the pickup game we were playing, I decided to try to turn a single into a double.  I rounded first base, started running to second, and decided I needed to slide into second base.  Unfortunately, the girl covering second base was standing over the plate, and instead of ramming into her, I rammed my foot into the hard uneven ground right in front of the base.  I ended up shattering my ankle.
                I was carried to a car, and eventually got to the hospital.  Within short order, I was in surgery getting my ankle repaired.  For not the last time in her life, Tara got a call from someone that started “I am with John at the hospital…”  I spent the night in a hospital room, not able to sleep, alternating between: thinking about how dumb I was, asking the nurse if it was time to go, wondering what they did with my pants, and lamenting that I hadn’t listened to the small promptings to not play baseball that day.
                Tara had to drive back home on short notice.  I spent the first couple of days not able to do a whole lot, I even slipped and fell once trying to get the mail, and was stuck in the doorway while I figured out how to get up safely.  I spent a month in a wheelchair, a few months on crutches, and still had the large work project to work on.  This gave me plenty of time to think about the consequences of not listening to a prompting of the Spirit when it came. 
                I hope I have learned that lesson.  I try harder to listen when the promptings of the Spirit come.  I’m not always perfect at it, but since that incident so many years ago, I hope I have been better at listening.  I certainly have tried.  While learning that lesson didn’t save me from the consequences of what happened, I am a better person for having learned. 

The purposes and mission of the Holy Spirit       
All those that are baptized into the church afterwards had hands laid on their heads and given the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For those that have received that gift, and try to live the life of a disciple of Christ, the Holy Ghost becomes a constant companion.  He is with us, active and constant.  He is there with us, to comfort us in times of trial and sorrow, to testify of truth when hear it, to inspire us when we are ready to listen.  The Holy Ghost also helps to protect us from danger, both physical and spiritual, he strengthens us as we try to do what is right, he helps us stay close to the Savior, helps us know when we need to apply the Atonement in our lives, and we are sanctified, made clean again through the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead, and he works to help us on the path to return to our Heavenly Father again.

1 - The Holy Ghost testifies of truth, helps us to remember those truths.  He inspires and is a conduit for revelation
                Joseph Smith describes his search for truth prior to the restoration, and in response to the reading of James chapter 1 verse 5, describes the influence of the Holy Ghost, testifying of truth.  He said:
“Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine.”
I won’t pretend to know what he felt at that moment, but I know what I have felt, as I have read scripture, and I have heard truth - in sacrament meetings, Stake and General Conferences, in the temple, in countless church meetings, in quiet reflect times, and in other settings.  In Moroni 10:5 we read that “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”  I have felt truth in my mind and in my heart.  Over and over again in my life, the Spirit has testified of truth to me.  Every Sunday here in this room, I feel the Spirit as I listen to you and as I partake of the Sacrament. 
On my mission I saw over and over, people who had just come in contact with the Gospel.  They started to read the Book of Mormon, and wanted to know if it was true.  I have knelt in prayer with them, and have seen and felt as their prayers were answered.  It is kind of miraculous.  Their lives were changed.  I have prayed to know the Book of Mormon is true.  I know it is true.  The Gospel is true.  All of it.  That has been testified to me over and over in my life, through the Spirit.  If there ever is a doubt, the Spirit reminds me that I know.    

2 - The Holy Ghost strengthens us as we try to do what is right 
                In the book of Mormon, we read about the people of Alma, who after being converted and baptized, left their lands, and found themselves subject to the king of the Lamanites, and Amulon, who put burdens on the people.  The scriptures say that Amulon began to persecute Alma and his brethren, and put tasks upon them, and taskmasters over them.  Here is what happened:
And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.
And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.
 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

                What burdens do we have?  Do we have the faith to ask for help?  When we struggle, and call on the Lord, He always helps.  The Spirit can sustain us, comfort us, and help our burdens become light.

                Do we worry about how well we serve?  The Spirit can help us be better at our callings, no matter the calling.  In the New Testament, we see the change that comes over Peter after receiving the Holy Ghost.   Peter becomes the rock the early church needed after the Savior ascended into heaven.  We have been taught today about the Gifts of the Spirit.  They are wonderful, and help us be better people than we might be otherwise.  Through the gifts of the Spirit, we are made better disciples.  We are better at whatever calling we are serving in, better home and visiting teachers, better parents.  Those gifts can give us strength at important times in our lives.  Our burdens can be lifted.

3 - We are sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost  
                What role does the Spirit play in purifying our lives, in making us clean?  In 3 Nephi 27:20, the Lord said: 
Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

We are made clean through the workings of the Spirit.  Each week, if we are prepared through repentance, we can walk out of Sacrament meeting clean, having renewed our covenants, through the sanctification of the Holy Ghost.

                2 Nephi 31:17-20:
Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

                It is possible, Brothers and Sisters, if we live in a way that we have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

4 - Have the Spirit with us constantly 
In a recent General Conference talk, President Eyring talked about the need to live in a way to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  He said:
“For many reasons, we need the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. We desire it, yet we know from experience that it is not easy to maintain. We each think, say, and do things in our daily lives that can offend the Spirit. The Lord taught us that the Holy Ghost will be our constant companion when our hearts are full of charity and when virtue garnishes our thoughts unceasingly (see D&C 121:45).
For those who are struggling with the high standard needed to qualify for the gift of the Spirit’s companionship, I offer this encouragement. You have had times when you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost. It may have happened for you today.
You can treat those moments of inspiration like the seed of faith that Alma described (see Alma 32:28). Plant each one. You can do that by acting on the prompting you felt. The most valuable inspiration will be for you to know what God would have you do. If it is to pay tithing or to visit a grieving friend, you should do it. Whatever it is, do it. When you demonstrate your willingness to obey, the Spirit will send you more impressions of what God would have you do for Him.
As you obey, the impressions from the Spirit will come more frequently, becoming closer and closer to constant companionship. Your power to choose the right will increase.
You can know when these impressions to act for Him are from the Spirit rather than from your own desires. When the impressions square with what the Savior and His living prophets and apostles have said, you can choose to obey with confidence. Then the Lord will send His Spirit to attend you.”  (End quote)

                Brothers and Sisters, I am grateful for the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life.  At the beginning of December, I was away on a work trip.  On Thursday afternoon that week, I was in a session of the conference I was at, and suddenly felt terrible and exhausted.  I’m not sure that description does the feeling justice, I felt horrible.  I got out of my seat, climbed over some people, and went out into the hall.  My CIO, who was on the trip with me, just happened to be walking by then, and told me I looked terrible.  I had missed breakfast and lunch, so I went and found something to eat and drink, and sat down for about an hour.  I figured I had done too much without eating.  After an hour, I felt a bit better, and went back to the conference.  That night I sat through a long dinner still not feeling totally well.
                On Saturday, when I woke, I felt bad again.  I was home then, Tara said I didn’t look good.  This was the morning of our Ward Christmas party.  I went to the party, still not feeling great, didn’t eat much, and tried to stay busy helping clean up after.  Later that afternoon, Tara was shopping for groceries, I was home with the little kids working on my computer.  All of the sudden, I wasn’t able to type or use my mouse.  I had no control of my right arm.  It felt like the circulation in my arm had been cut off.  The first thing I did was to make sure my shirt wasn’t cutting the circulation off.  It wasn’t.  I stood up, and was very dizzy and wobbly.  The first thing I thought was “did I miss lunch?  Should I eat something?”  I have a long history of just ignoring physical issues, and that weekend was certainly no exception.  Immediately after that, came a clear and distinct prompting that said “There is something incredibly wrong here.”  That was all the prompting was, but I listened.  Tara didn’t answer her phone.  My home teacher was out of town.  Bishop Ringer was in North Orem, I called our Home Priest Group leader, Jason Ensign.  I said “I think I am having some sort of medical problem, can you come over?”  He was at my house in no time.  We went to the emergency room, and I was very quickly taken in.  I had suffered a stroke. 
                This isn’t a story with a bad ending.  After all, I am standing here sharing it with you.  I had gotten to the hospital quickly, the doctors and nurses took care of my quickly, and I got the medicine I needed quickly.  I had a small pea sized stroke in a sensitive area of the brain.  It was on the border between the inner capsule, which sends signals back and forth to and from the body, and the hypothalamus, which does all kinds of stuff for us.  If I had waited, the stroke likely would have gotten much worse, if I survived it at all.  Modern medicine saved my life.  Well trained doctors and nurses saved my life.  Jason Ensign saved my life.  Before any of that, listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit saved my life.
                As far as strokes go, I guess you could say I had a good one.  I am back at work now.  You see a LOT of doctors when you have a stroke, and most of them have cleared me to return to day to day life.  I still struggle a little with light sensitivity, with noise and talking behind me, with people that talk very fast, and for some reason, I get a bit cold for a little while after I eat a meal, but I am certainly on the mend.  I will always be grateful to those that helped me on December 3, 2016; to that the prompting of the Spirit that came; and that I listened. 
                I was recounting this to the Stake President while I was waiting to be discharged from the hospital a few days later.  One of the things he said in response was “listening to the Lord’s prompting will save all our lives.”

Listening to the Spirit will save all our lives
                    Brothers and Sisters, the companionship of the Holy Ghost is important enough to our Father in heaven that he allows for us to enjoy the constant companionship of the Spirit as early as eight years old, if we are lucky enough to be baptized that young.  Weekly, we come to Sacrament meeting to partake of the Sacrament, renew our covenants, and a part of the associated promises include that we may always have his Spirit to be with us.  It is important enough that it is part of both sacrament prayers.
                The Spirit is our tether to the Savior and His atonement.  No matter what our circumstances, and what all we feel like we need to work on, we can always turn to our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ for help.  They love us, and want the absolute best for us.  Our Savior truly understands our pains, our trials, our struggles, and is always there to help us.  He knows us, and knows how to help.  He can help us see clearly both where we are, where we need to be, and can show us the progress we are making along the way, even when that progress is small amounts at a time.
                Specific and clear promptings of the Spirit come at important times along the way.  When we listen, we are always blessed.  When we follow, we are always blessed. 
                Brothers and Sisters, I am grateful for the influence of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I have certainly been blessed when I have listened to those specific and clear promptings, no matter how small they may be.  I am grateful for the constant companionship, always there, whether I think about it or not.  His influence is there, as a kind of undercurrent in the flow of my life.  Steady, strengthening, and comforting.  It is a wonderful gift from our Father in Heaven.
                The atonement of Jesus Christ is real.  Yes, it is available to us when we make mistakes.  The atonement is also available to us as we try to live the way we should, is a strength to us when we try to do what is right. 

                Having the Spirit in our lives is our bell weather.  I testify that we will never go wrong by following the Spirit.  I testify that we can get better than we are today at listening for, recognizing, and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  I have tried in my life and have been blessed for it.  Listening to the Spirit saved my life.  Listening to the Spirit will ultimately lead me and you to Eternal Life, and help save us, if we allow him.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


I haven't been here much of late.  I've been kind of busy.

Last week, I was released from the Bishopric in our local congregation.  I've been in the Bishopric 5 of the last six years, it's a bit of a time commitment serving, even as a counselor to the Bishop.

In addition to that, 2016 was an interesting year for health issues:

  • In January, I had surgery to remove a bone spur from my ankle joint.  My ankle is doing well these days, but there was some time this time last year on crutches.  
  • Mid year, I was having lower back pain.  I went down to Moab for a few days, and started having really bad sciatica pain, to the point that by day three I couldn't sleep.  It turned out that I had a compressed disk that was pinching the nerve.  I took a cortizone shot in my back, which helped, and did a couple of months of physical therapy, my back is still sore, but I don't get the pain down my leg anymore.
  • At the beginning of December, I had a stroke.  (surprise!)  I'm still kind of recovering from that.  
I'm sure 2017 will be better.  That's not really the reason I am checking in here.  I can't guarantee that I will post here all that often, I can try.  Right now, I get home from work and some days I am just wiped out and need to take it easy.  (I don't recommend a stroke to anyone.)  Having been released from the Bishopric, I have been looking over some of the talks that I have given in church over the past few years, there were quite a few.  I figured at the very least, I could post them here on Sundays for a while.  

First up - a talk I gave three weeks ago, where I in part talk about having the stroke.

Monday, December 08, 2014

2014 Christmas Tree decorating

Somehow I got the video a bit out of focus, and it stopped recording on it's own, but you get the idea...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Published Author

This Winter, Mary became a published author!  She won a writing contest, and they published her story with a bunch of others.  (  It's called Fashtonella, and is published in a thing called Sibyl’s Scriptorium.

Nice job, Mary!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Massively Parallel Bedding - Part 2

We had the solve the 'Noel climbs out of her crib with ease' problem a couple months back, the answer was another triple bunk.  As is the case with all things I build, I thought of several ways to improve the thing immediately after I got it put up, but it was too late...

The old double bunk went into Adam's room.  No announcements or hidden meaning in that.  We filled the top bunk with stuffed animals...

Part 3, which will 'some day' happen, is to put bookshelves in between the triple bunks, complete with USB chargers, and fan, and a light for each bed.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Last week I had the opportunity to go to a San Francisco Giants home game.  We had a great view, looks like nearly every view in the park is a great one.  

They played the Dodgers, went 12 innings, and eventually won the game.  Good game. Those Giants fans do not like the Dodgers.  We had a guy a few rows behind us that turned into a loud drunk by the 8th inning, fortunately he left about the 10th inning.

At one point, the moon came up over the horizon across the bay.  It was the night after the full lunar ellipse, and the moon came up over the horizon big and dark red.  I didn't get a picture of that, sorry.  We also had a little bit of fog rolling in over top into the stadium.

I had never been to AT&T park.  It really was a nice ballpark.  

It was also Jackie Robinson day.  They had a nice presentation before the game.