Friday, December 31, 2010


Looking back on the past year, I marvel at the magic of it all!  What great blessings have come; what great miracles have occurred.  It all seemed so impossible and yet, one day at a time it unfolded in the most marvelous fashion.  I do not deserve such blessings, but I sure do enjoy them.  I would be terribly remiss if I were not to acknowledge them.  Too numerous to list; I'll not record them now.  I've tried to do that as I went along.

As I mentioned, I've tried to live my life one day at a time.  Oh, the blessed gift of a day!  Every morning the sun rises for me, I am presented with a day full of opportunity and potential.  Have I used them all to the fullest?  Of course not.  Have I done the best I could?  Pretty close.  Have I accomplished everything I had hoped?  Not nearly.  Does that discourage me?  Not any more.

I think that is the greatest lesson I've learned this year.  The discovery that there are hundreds of desires I have that I'll have to sacrifice in order to enjoy the most important things, has been huge for me.  Choosing the most important things has made all the difference in this past year.  I suspect that my life will always be replete with opportunities in such abundance that I cannot possibly experience or enjoy them all.  I have long held that for me the biggest decisions are not between right and wrong so much as between better and best.

This past few months have brought great challenges in that regard as well as great revelations.  I currently have a lot on my plate.  I facilitate two 12 Step groups at the Detention Center and one for alumni of that facility.  Those tie up my Monday and Tuesday evenings.  I am High Priests Group Leader in my Ward.  We meet Wednesday evenings and, of course, on Sunday.  I have a calling to clean the Temple every Wednesday night from 10 to 12.  I go Home Teaching every Thursday evening with a very dear, physically handicapped, friend and companion.  Friday night is the 12 Step meeting that keeps me on the sober side of life.  Additionally, I have a calling to coordinate the advancement process of each potential Eagle Scout in my Stake; taking them from Eagle project approval, to their Board of Review.  Each of these opportunities is a great blessing to me.  A blessing I cherish.

Now, when you couple all of those opportunities with other important family, career, neighborhood, community and fraternal stewardships you begin to see that my life is full, busy and rewarding.  There was a time when all of this would have been completely overwhelming.  Interestingly, it is becoming less and less so.  That fact is fascinating to me and caused me to stop a moment and consider it here.

I am a people pleaser.  I love to make folks happy.  The consequence of that has been very damaging in my life.  In a world full of manipulators, I found myself marching to the beat of a cacophony of drums.  That noisome effort very nearly destroyed me.  Of all the blessings that have come from working the 12 Steps created by Alcoholics Anonymous and adopted by the LDS Addiction Recovery Program; perhaps the greatest is this:  In turning my life over to the care and keeping of God, I can allow Him to set my priorities.

Each morning, first thing, I spend an hour with God.  I study the scriptures, write in my journal and spend time on my knees.  Additionally, I then immediately follow that with an hour walk.  That is a great deal of time in a busy schedule like mine; but it is essential time.  During that time I try to let God set my priorities for the day.  Most days it is easy.  Some days, I really have to struggle to discover His will.  I don't think the struggle is ever with Him; but rather with myself.  The struggle is whether or not I am willing to do His will.

Now, there are a number of distractions from that focus.  Most of those come in the form of conflicting wills.  There are a number of people in my life who would gladly set my priorities for me.  Having their own agendas they are wont to influence mine to their own advantage.  These people are manipulators.  Some of their objectives are benign and innocuous and others are down right malignant.  The malignant ones are quite easy to dismiss, the others sometimes require a good deal of prayer.

Having been highly manipulated most of my life; and having caused my self great harm by allowing myself to be manipulated; and discovering that the lion's share of my recovery is contingent upon appropriate management of my manipulators, I have had to really focus on letting God manage my priorities.  Let me give you an example:

I have a supervisor in my calling as High Priests Group Leader.  He is a man I greatly admire.  He is very nearly the finest teacher I have ever encountered.  One of the great desires of my heart is to emulate his teaching power and skill.  This man also has a very imposing presence and so I consider him with a good deal of awe.  As he is a hero of mine, it is the most natural thing in the world to try to impress him.

As part of the training he has given me, I was informed of the need to provide him with a monthly report on a few facets of the performance of my High Priest's group.  I failed to submit that form in a timely manner and he called to remind me that it was late.  I scrambled for an excuse which resulted in a lie.  I have not confessed my prevarication to him yet, but I must.  That of course, will add to my discomfort, but if I am to continue on the road to recovery, there is no other option for me.  It is not enough to confess my dishonesty though.  For the process of confessing to be effective, I also need to understand my motivation for lying and to discover the best alternative to the wrong choice I made.

First of all, I lied in order to keep myself in my supervisor's good graces, despite my noncompliance with his wishes.  That is the most common motivation for lying is it not?  It certainly is mine.  Having grown up in a highly manipulative environment, I learned quickly to fight fire with fire.  Lying too, is manipulation you see.  Having learned that dishonest management tool from my youth, it has become a habit - a bad one.  The only way I'll ever overcome that tendency is to confess it each time I do it.  I hope eventually, that will make it so that dishonesty is not my automatic response to every sticky situation.

Here's how I've resolved to deal with this particular sticky wicket; or what I should have said, and soon will have to say:

I'm sorry Brother So-And-So, I was dishonest in my response to your query about the report.  In seeking an excuse for my tardiness I lied to you.  I am ashamed of myself, apologize, and hope you can forgive me.   To make things right, I need to be honest about my failure to produce your report.  The truth is, your report just didn't make it far enough up my priority list.  I suspect this will dismay you but that is the fact.  I have a lot on my plate and so far there are too many, more important, things queued up in front of your report.  I expect you will direct me to give it more priority, but you don't get to set my priorities for me, that is something I must do myself, under the direction of my Father in Heaven.  Every day there are dozens of things I would like to do that don't make it on my list for that day.  So far your report has been one of them.

Now, Brother So-And-So, the lack of priority I have assigned to your report has not been just an arbitrary decision.  I have carefully considered each item on my priority list.  I consider your report to be of low priority because I have judged it to be of little value to me and to my mission.  Obviously, you consider it to be of value to your mission, but I am called to magnify my own calling, not yours.

Now, I have considered the mandate to "return and report." For the short term, that alone is adequate reason to diminish the import of your report.  As I have yet to go, I am clearly, unable to return.  For the long term, I am not persuaded that the report is of any constructive value.  In fact my analysis shows it to be a manipulative tool, which by its very nature I must resist for the sake of my continued sobriety.  I suspect this will offend you, so let me explain.

I can think of three possible reasons you would expect this task in addition to the regular quarterly report I will provide as outlined in the handbook.  One might be that you are an individual who likes to be in control and who desires to micro-manage my stewardship.  A second possibility is that you want me to take the time to analyze my own performance every month hoping that seeing my short comings on paper, I'll feel guilty enough to try harder next month.  Or, thirdly, you are just too impatient to wait three months between reports.  In each case, I consider the report to serve your needs and not my own or those of the group I lead, which therefore makes the report, by definition, manipulative.

Now, that being said, a clear part of my therapy is to handle manipulation appropriately.  That is to say that I must condemn the practice but not the practitioner.  I bear you no malice in your effort to manipulate me.  In point of fact, I invite you to persuade me that you are not; though you need to know that such persuasion may require a good deal of patience, long suffering and unfeigned love supported by a distinct lack of guile.

I also hold myself responsible to do the right thing, regardless of whether or not someone is using manipulation to get me to do it.  In this particular case I do not consider reports to be the wrong thing by any means.  I just don't consider yours to be productive because if focuses on what we have not done, instead of what we have.  It appears that the motivation then is to shame us into doing better next time.  Shame is a major condition of addiction.  The sting of shame makes a great lash, but no one wants to be very close to the wielder. Shame is of the evil one.  The Savior is not in the condemnation business, but rather the invitation business.  I perceive no tone of "Come (out of shame and) Follow Me" in this report.  Therefore, I have yet to be persuaded that this report is important enough to supersede a number of things God seems to consider to be more important.

Elder Maxwell once analyzed different styles of Leadership and offered a few paragraphs on manipulative leadership.  He was able to point out a few advantages to that approach, but to my mind the disadvantages he cited far out weighed the advantages.  I will not be leading my group with manipulation.  I will not be giving orders and compelling compliance.  To my mind, manipulative leadership is not leadership at all, it is merely management.  I have a strong aversion to what is commonly called MBO, management by objective.  In every case I have examined MBO is highly manipulative because objectives - goals, are imposed upon subordinates in this model.  I will be setting my own goals, thank you.  I will be assisting the members of my group to set their own as well.  I will be asking for sacrifice and inviting my brethren to make and keep commitments, but those commitments will not be imposed upon them.  When I conduct interviews with them I will be focusing on them, their needs, their desires and hope to facilitate their hopes and dreams, not my own.  I will not be expecting them to magnify my calling.  I will be teaching them correct principles and I will allow them to govern themselves.  These are fine men.  Men of honor and integrity.  They have every intention of building the Kingdom.  My role is to assist them in accomplishing their task, not to brow beat them into compliance with my own wishes, or my own objectives, or yours.  If I am truly an instrument in the Lord's hands they will hear is voice in my invitation to come follow me.  Hearing that voice, I am confident they will respond.  The sheep need a shepherd, not a sheep herder.  The sheep you've entrusted me with have already proven they will follow.  If I am driving them from behind, how can they follow?  Who can they follow?  If they require a leader, let me lead.

The fact that one who supervises me expects a report such as yours implies that he has set objectives for me, rather than allowing me, in concert with my Heavenly Father to establish my own.  Well did Lehi say that men were meant to act and not be acted upon.  Please rest assured that I intend to act.  I will hold myself accountable.  I will continually consult with God and seek His favor.  I am utterly dependent upon Him for the very breath I breathe.  I am utterly unable to accomplish the great task before me without His grace and good pleasure.  I will do His will to the best of my ability.  I invite you to teach me correct principles and I expect you to let me govern myself.  Please do not be offended if my perception of God's will does not include your little report this month.  Next month?  Well, we shall see.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Snowman Snow!

It is indeed a rare thing where we live to get snowman snow.  Usually we get powder so light and fine that it won't pack into a snowball, let alone a snowman.  Not so this year.  It is perfect for shaping and sculpting into all kinds of fantastic shapes!  Couple that with unseasonably warm weather and you have the perfect snow year for children.  It has rained a good deal since the 15 inches of snow fell in our yard.  The grandchildren have played in it for hours all week.  They've built forts and snowmen, even a hippo.  Little Jeff, who'd rather play Nintendo than anything, has completely forgotten about being a gamer and has practically lived outside!

The other day I took them to see their cousins, all older.  Wow!  The fantastic creations they produced in their yard  were truly inspiring to these impressionable young minds!  There was a monster big enough to eat Sam.  And a pile to slide off that was higher than the ladder used to climb to it's top.  There was a peeping snowman looking into the front window, with his weedy hand pressed inquisitively against the glass.  Also a space ship and a large Kilroy looking creature climbing out of the field.

I wonder if Jeff and Megan will ever have such fun in the snow again.  Usually this time of year is too cold for such fun and as I said, the snow a poor medium for artists and warriors.  This is by far the best I've ever seen it and I'm 60 years old.  I don't think I'll point that out to them though.  They're enjoying it well enough.  I'd hate to make them anxious that it might never happen again.  While it is true that this is the best they'll ever see, it is also a distinct possibility that it is not.  There is no sense worrying  either way.  We've been given this gift, lets fully enjoy it while it's here.

I hope it does get a lot colder soon for the sake of Ryan's luge.  Most years there is enough snow that he builds a giant luge in his backyard.  This year there is enough, though its been too warm to sustain it so far.  One year it was three stories tall.  Kids could slide down it's banked curves as it descended in serpentine fashion around their yard.  Sliding on snow saucers the kids have a ball!  One year he even built a chamber within the pile and standing in there you would see the kids rocket by on the slide as it too passed through the foundations of the luge.  Considering that it is composed of snow and stands in a relatively flat suburban backyard, this luge is really quite an accomplishment.  Ryan often borrows snow from all over the neighborhood.  He uses upturned milk crates for steps up to the precarious launching platform.  To keep it strong and fast he sprays it down with water in the middle of the night.  Hope it works out this year.

Another big bonus was a snow day!  On Monday is snowed so hard and more was predicted so they let school out early on Tuesday and cancelled Wednesday all together.  I can't remember ever having a snow day around here.  Most of us have four-wheel drive vehicles and the City, County and State are well prepared to clear the roads.  When it snows around here we just head on out like we do on any other day.  This kids missed their class Christmas parties on Wednesday, but are looking forward to late presents after the first of the year.  Kids, Moms and Teachers alike were heard rejoicing at an unexpected day off before the Holiday.

I just walked out to bring in some firewood and noticed the neighbor's grandkids, newly arrived from California, playing in the snow across the street.  Glee in their voices and ambition in their countenances as they too, joined in the fun of snow art and construction.  For all of us it is "the most wonderful time of the year!"
Sam, are you being swallowed or barfed?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Joyful and Triumphant!

This morning I sat in the freshly decorated living room to read my scriptures and do some journaling.  As I enjoyed the symbols of the season my eye settled on a Jim Shore recreation of Joseph and Mary's journey to Jerusalem.  How arduous that effort must have been.  I imagined that Satan must have danced alongside the entire trip, celebrating his latest coup.  How clever to have enticed Caesar Augustus to call for a tax at this critical moment in history.  What genius he must have congratulated himself for at having orchestrated this dusty, arduous mass migration of all of Israel to their cities of origin.  The streets and lanes must have been clogged with travelers.  Satan must have been giddy with anticipation that he'd assisted Joseph and Mary in arriving late enough that the Inn was filled to capacity.  What carnal delight he must have felt to have caused the Son of God to be born in a disgusting stable.

Then I began to think, what if.....    What if Jesus had been born in Nazareth in the comfort of his parent's home?  Or what if he'd been born in the crowded Inn surrounded by clamor and unwanted attention?  What if he'd been born in a palace?

Surely Satan, in his self centered, egotistical way, imagined that the Son of God would want to be born in lavish, royal conditions.  So how could he imagine that he was fulfilling prophecy, magnifying the purposes of the Lord and assisting in the very thing he hoped to thwart.  How he must have gnashed his teeth when he discovered that he had fully played into the Father's hand.  He did the same thing in Eden and he does it still today.

Look through the scriptures and you will discover that the lessons and experiences of each story were made meaningful by the opposition eagerly provided by a voracious opponent, Lucifer.  Laban's refusal to surrender the Brass Plates, Nephi's broken bow, Limhi's captivity, Alma's rebellion, Pharaoh's refusal to release his Israelite slaves, the Mormon's being driven from Missouri and then Nauvoo; example after example of the role of opposition in the growth, development and eventual deliverance of God's children.

Never once, in recorded history, has the journey to the Promised Land been an easy one.  Israel's journey took 40 years and the loss of an entire generation.  The Jaredites' journey was similarly long and arduous, fraught with peril, labor and seemingly unsurmountable obstacles.  Consider Lehi's journey with his family; or that of the Mormon Pioneers, or the Willie and Martin handcart companies.  Satan was there taunting them with obstacles and opposition every step of the way.  We admire all of these because in the end, they overcame the opposition and in the strength of the Lord emerged strong and victorious.  Push-ups would be of no value at all were there nothing to push against.

I look back on my own journey, one strewn with obstacles and afflictions like addiction, depression, and manipulation, not to mention the flooded basement and other disasters too numerous to mention.  In a poignant way, my morning musing taught me that those too, are the source of growth and meaning in my life.  So often all I could hear were the peals of Satan's laughter at my set backs and sorrows.  But today looking back from a perspective of redemption through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Satan's taunts are silenced by an overwhelming emotion I can only call joyful and triumphant!  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I have mixed feelings about this Wikileaks business.  On the one hand, I have no problem with keeping secrets that protect our troops and national security.  On the other hand, it appears that the bulk of these classified documents are not of that nature.  It looks like most of them are simply embarrassments resulting from indiscretions and prejudices expressed on the part of fools in our diplomatic corps.  Those are appropriately exposed; tell us the truth about our State Department; and should result in rolled heads.

I have no problem with our secret keepers being exposed for the things they do that have lead others to regard us as Ugly Americans.  The politically manipulative shenanigans they do in the name of advancing American interests are wrong and ultimately destructive to our position in the world.  Problem is, I have little hope that this exposure will change a thing.  So far damage control has been riddled with a lot of spin and very little apologetic humility.   It is especially concerning since attempts are being made to remove the threat of dark deeds being brought into the light.  Attempts being made to censor the internet in order to prevent further embarrassment (in the name of security) are going to intrude on our access to the truth.  If we are not careful the government will gladly further erode the guarantees of the First Amendment.

During his campaign President Obama promised transparency in the government.  So far Wikileaks has provided far more transparency than Obama has.  

During all of this I am also displeased with the government for their inability of manage their own affairs.  This current batch of leaked documents has been blamed on an Army Private.  In what world is a Private given access to classified documents?  Holy Cow!  This kind of incompetence in Federal affairs is rampant across the board.  Such revelations are not only embarrassing to them, but to me.

Well did Jesus say, "ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."  Free press should be about telling us the truth.  I strongly suspect that the main stream media has abandoned that notion, much to the satisfaction of the political machine.  No wonder everyone is ganging up on Wikileaks.

I believe in abiding by the law.  I believe in protecting our National interests and most especially, our troops in the field.  I don't not believe in seeking to hide our own sins and much of what we've been shown are clearly in the category of sins being hidden.

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So far you can only get it by invitation.  If you'd like to be invited comment below with and include your email address and I'll sent you one!  You'll love it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Want to Do a Flash Mob?

I'm investigating the production of a Flash Mob in the Vernal Area.  If you are interested leave a comment.  I need about forty serious participants plus a production crew.  I think it will be a ball.  I'd like to use it to benefit the Food Pantry for Christmas.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Review - Odds Are You're Going To Be Exalted by Alonzo L Gaskill

When I first saw this book, I thought the title to be a bit cheesy and left it on the shelf.  It sort of sounded like we were gambling with our exaltation.  Sometime later, I decided to give it a try and I'm so glad I did.  The uses of the term odds, has nothing to do with gambling and everything to do with statistical likelihood.

I'll be keeping this one just for the references.  Gaskill has found more quotations from prophets on the subject than I ever thought existed.  I've long held that the likelihood of Exaltation was greater than the typical Latter-day Saint suspects, but the author makes it plain that such a happy result is far greater than I ever anticipated.  

This is one of the most optimistic, hopeful volumes I've ever read.  Mostly that is true because it also one of the best treatments on the Plan of Salvation I've ever encountered.  God is intent on the salvation of all of his children.  He is a perfect parent.  He will succeed in His mission to bring His children home.  Gaskill makes it plain that every one who wants to go home to live with God will be afforded that blessing.  Even those who don't currently want to are likely to have a change of heart in that regard and the world was designed to make it so.  What a wonderful promise to the posterity of God, "For behold it is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  (Moses 1:39)  He is quite capable of accomplishing that task.

If you are doubtful as to your own possibility of reaching Heaven;  if you have loved ones who don't seem headed in that direction at all; this book is especially for you.

Five Stars

Monday, November 15, 2010

More Observations on the Utah Compact

A Dan Jones poll has indicated that the majority of Utahns are still determined to have an Arizona style immigration policy.  This despite the fact that the LDS Church stood in support of the Utah Pact on Immigration. (Read their statement here.) 60% of Utahns are LDS. I find it interesting that the LDS Church consistently comes down more moderately on the issues than her members do.  This says a couple of interesting things to me.

First, there is room for disagreement in the church.  As Joseph Smith put it, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves."  That leaves the door open to them to misgovern themselves as well.  Outsiders tend to look at us as being in a very restrictive society in which we all march to the beat of the Brethren.  The present issue seems to indicate otherwise.  I don't expect anyone will be excommunicated for disagreeing with the Brethren on this issue.  After the close of WWI Congress was embroiled in a debate as to whether the United States should participate in the League of Nations.  President Heber J. Grant was in favor of joining the League, Apostle and Senator Reed Smoot was not in favor.  Smoot, of course had more influence in the decision and voted against America's involvement.  There was clear and obvious disagreement between these two, and several other, church leaders.  It did not adversely affect their relationship as members of the highest councils of the church.

The second, item of interest is the very apparent fact that the members tend to be more conservative than their leaders on a number of issues.  My personal impression, indeed my belief, is that not only do these men in the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve receive revelation; they are also astute, well educated and better yet, well informed on the issues.  Long experience has shown that we rarely get knee jerk reactions from Church Headquarters.  The last one I recall came during the Mark Hoffman forgery fiasco.  Lesson learned.  The Church's leaders are much more careful in their reaction to the events and circumstances that surround us.
My conversations with most radically right winged Latter-day Saints do not indicate that they are well informed.  They may be well indoctrinated by the likes of Glen Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, but rarely do I encounter one who has rationally considered the alternative or even more moderate point of view. For this reason I whole heartedly applaud KSL radio for dumping Hannity in favor of less inflammatory Jay McFarland.

This is not to say that I entirely disagree with the big three conservative commentators.  I just disagree with the "us vs them" approach that they seem to be fostering.  Seldom to I hear these or other conservative voices consider the consequences to the poor, outcast, alien and disadvantaged among us.  Their mantra seems to be focused entirely on how this all affects ME.  They not only defend big business, they are big business.  Don't get me wrong I am all in favor or free enterprise.  It's just that is becoming more and more apparent that big money is running this country, not citizens.

I was so grateful that thinking people stepped forward with the Utah Compact in a rational and well considered way.  In doing so they acknowledge the existence of serious problems, but cautioned us to avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water.  There are real people involved in these issues.  People who put their pants on one leg at a time just like we do.  Fathers and Mothers who love their children.  Children who want stable families and a chance to grow and an opportunity to succeed.  When we consider cleaning things up in this country, let us please consider the baby.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Utah Compact

Yesterday a distinguished group of Utah political, community and church leaders gathered to sign the Utah Compact.  I'd like to include my support for this important guiding document.  It is simple, clear and makes perfect sense to me.  I include it here:

A declaration of five principles to guide Utah’s immigration discussion
FEDERAL SOLUTIONS - Immigration is a federal policy issue between the U.S. government and other countries—not Utah and other countries. We urge Utah’s congressional delegation, and others, to lead efforts to strengthen federal laws and protect our national borders. We urge state leaders to adopt reasonable policies addressing immigrants in Utah.
LAW ENFORCEMENT - We respect the rule of law and support law  enforcement’s professional judgment and discretion. Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code.
FAMILIES - Strong families are the foundation of successful communities. We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families. We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children.
ECONOMY - Utah is best served by a free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. We acknowledge the economic role immigrants play as workers and taxpayers. Utah’s immigration policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.
A FREE SOCIETY - Immigrants are integrated into communities across Utah. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill.  

I wrote some on this subject a week ago in and entry called Pray for Mexico.  While I acknowledge that there are real and serious problems with our nation's current immigration policies, I do not advocate punishing immigrants for our own mismanagement of our borders.  There is a lot of propaganda out there designed to alarm and prejudice the population.  Thankfully, some cooler heads are attempting to quell the storm with some sensible thinking.  The Deseret News did an important piece that is well worth reading.  In the article, Fact or Fiction?  The myths and realities of Illegal Immigration the subject is approached with level headed thinking that we all would do well to consider.

For me, the bottom line is people.  These immigrants, not unlike our own predecessors are real people, with real families bonded together by real love.  Real people, who've made enormous sacrifice to obtain that which we take, so clearly, for granted.  When we reduce them to statistics and demonize them based on the occasional bad apple; we do a disservice not only to them but to ourselves.  We have our own bad apples and apparently in much more common ratios than their detractors would have us believe.

So, I greatly appreciate the sensible, moderate approach of the Utah Pact and lend my full support to its tone and content.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Major Milestone in a Long Game of Catch-Up

Three years ago, while we were visiting Newfoundland, our basement flooded.  Loving family and friends rescued our belongings and moved them to our carport.  Yesterday, after all that time, we finally reclaimed the carport for our car.  I won't bore you with the details as to why it has taken so long.  Suffice it to say, it has been a long difficult road fraught with mistakes, setbacks, oversights and discouragement.  There remains a great deal of remodeling to do, but having come this far is representative of the direction we are going and comes as a great encouragement.

I look around the neighborhood and see my friends getting their homes and yard ready for winter.  That used to seem like a daunting task.  Now, I see keeping up as a whole lot easier than catching up.  I guess life is like that too.  I keep thinking it sure would be nice if I could just be maintaining, rather that struggling, so far behind.

As we conducted the yard sale and then hauled piles of stuff to Deseret Industries it occurred to me that had we not had the disaster, it is quite possible that all of this stuff would still be wedged tightly into every nook and cranny of our home.  Instead, having done without much of it for better than three years, we began to see what was important to us and what was mere detritus.  The disaster, while inconvenient and burdensome, has also been beneficial and enlightening.  Perhaps life is meant to be like that.  Perhaps if we were permitted to just carry on with the status quo, we'd never grow, appreciate the relative value of things.  Perhaps God intends to upset our apple carts once in a while to keep us on the move and to help us put things into perspective.

Perhaps it is also so with our own personalities.  We move through life accumulating baggage that we tuck away in the nooks and crannies of our psyche and we go along quite nicely keeping up the facade, making things look presentable to the neighbors so to speak.  Then something disastrous comes along to shake us to the very foundations of our lives.  We are emotionally put out on the street.  It is embarrassing, cumbersome, awkward and frightening.  Then, over time, we figure out how to put our lives back together.  We jettison baggage we hardly remembered we had.  We remodel, rebuild, tidy up, establish more refined priorities and while it seems like we're catching up, and hardly keeping up; we are making enormous improvements.

It's beginning to look like, in both cases, that the end result will be far better that it would have been had we just carried on as we intended.  A little disaster is just plain good for the soul.  Of course it included adversity, but then that's what adversity's for.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book Review - Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans

Promise Me is only the second of Richard Paul Evans' books I've read.  I've enjoyed them both.  This one is my favorite.  The story has a fascinating twist that really took my brain out of it's comfort zone but in a pleasant way.  Any good novel makes us ask questions of ourselves and this one does that well.  The question in this story was far more troublesome however, than Evans made it appear.  So given it was an impossible scenario, it came off a little too incredible to sweep me off my feet.

I have no problem with impossible situations.  Especially when they point out conflict or problems that make me rethink my assumptions about life.  This story did that very well.  I could relate to the quandary and what a quandary it was.  I even liked how it turned out.  It was a great idea, but slightly underplayed, so it didn't give the full effect.

It is pretty tricky for a man to write a novel in first person from the perspective of a female protagonist.  I don't think many men could pull this off.  Evans aced it.

I guess if you like sweetness and lite, you'll like this novel better than I.

Still I recommend it for it was a fantastic idea.

Four Stars

Pray For Mexico

The past couple of days we've had a yard sale at our house.  It was a wonderful success and we became much less encumbered by stuff.  We got to meet a lot of nice people, most of whom we've never met.  Among them were a number of Mexican expatriates.  Many were limited in the English they spoke.  All were polite, friendly, warm and kind.  I wanted to get to know them, so I took to asking them to tell me where they came from.

One older gentleman hails from Ciudad Juarez.  Aware that Juarez is perhaps the most dangerous place in the Western Hemisphere, I expressed gratitude that he was here where life is much more safe.  He echoed my relief, telling me how thankful he is that he has been able to get his family away from all that.  Another couple came by. She was from rural Guerrero and he from Acapulco.  I asked if he was a cliff diver.  His eyes widened in cheerful wisdom.  "Too high!"  He exclaimed.  She, spoke better English and I asked where Guerrero was.  She told me it is a state south and west of Mexico City.  When I explained that back in the 70's we loved to spend time in Mexico.  She declared, "It is no longer safe!"
"Even in the South?" I asked?
"En todas partes!"
"I thought is was only bad near the border," I protested.
"It is bad everywhere, these days."
"How very sad."

Another fellow came from Southern Chihuahua.  "It used to be quiet in my home town.  Not no more," he lamented.  I used to risk a visit to my parents every year, but now they're gone, we don't go there no more."

My heart broke for them, and for Mexico.  These are wonderful people, who've left behind a wonderful place.  It is so very sad.

Petey in our Ward just got back from a mission to Tijuana.  I asked him how his mission was.  "I survived." he sighed.  It took me back again to the early '70's when we lived on the border.  The Tijuana District of the Church was set to become a Stake.  Trouble was, they had no building - not one.  Our Stake got wind of it and in one night raised enough money for our Mexican neighbor's portion of the building.  The next year, we did it again and again.  Now there is a Mission in that city.  Still it is a dangerous place.

So Mexico is in crisis with Drug Cartels killing all who stand in their way.  Sound familiar?  Sounds just like the Gadianton Robbers to me.  Was life any less miserable for the Lamanites?  When they concluded to destroy the Gadianton Robbers from among them they did it by preaching the word of God to them.  That's right, they used the word to change the hearts of their enemies.  I expect the good people of Mexico will follow that most singular pattern and sooner or later turn the plight of their country into glorious results.  Why do I think this?  Because Mexican's are the salt of the earth.  They have a goodness and sensitivity that is most remarkable.

Today in Fast and Testimony Meeting a sweet little eighty-three year old Mexican American woman went to the pulpit to bear her testimony.  How sweet and sure and simple it was.  During her testimony I had the impression that I would live to see miracles happen in that sweet land.  Most misbehavior comes of desperation.  I believe that most if not all, of those desperadoes would choose a more righteous alternative if they actually felt they had one.  The good news is that there is a better choice and we must labor and teach, trust and pray that such a blessing will come to our wonderful, sweet neighbors to the South.

Everyone I talked to yesterday was thankful to be here, in America, in relative safety.  They also all expressed the wish that it didn't have to be so, for they'd rather live and raise their families back home.  For more and more, though, this is becoming home as generations are born and raised this side of the Rio Grande.  That is okay with me.  Most are refugees from oppressive poverty, crime and corruption.  I see them as welcome, decent and honest neighbors.  To me they are just as welcome as the Irish, Polish, Italian and German immigrants who fled similar oppression 100 years ago.  Just as welcome as the Dutch and English who preceded them and the Asians who've come more recently.  We haven't run out of room in our cities and towns for them and they'd assimilate far better if we hadn't run out of room for them in our hearts.

I guess each group of immigrants had to struggle to get a toe-hold for themselves in the United States.  Need we make it harder for them?  Can't we make legal immigration simpler and less exclusive?

The Church is growing in Mexico by leaps and bounds.  Mexico currently has 221 Stakes and 32 Districts, plus 12 temples with one more announced.  Zion in Mexico is enlarging her tent and I have great hopes that the Saints in Mexico will indeed leaven the loaf.  Let us all remember Mexico and our brothers and sisters there, often in our prayers.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'll Be Voting, How About You?

I'll go over and vote today.  But I'll have a bit of stoic grimness in my countenance.  I will enter the booth and in every case I've studied, choose the lesser of to weevils.  I don't think any one is addressing the real problems with our country.  To me the real problem is career politicians.  Not a single candidate has expressed the recognition that the reason Washington is so bogged down is because our representatives are more interested in keeping their jobs and in establishing and maintaining their power bases, than they are in solving our problems.

We send them back there to do a job and they go back to keep it.  When I complain to them about it, they'll give me lip service, stuff like, "You're right, but because the system is so entrenched the only way I can really help you is to do the same."  Well, this go round, the people are fed up and they are giving limits to congress' terms whether they like it or not.  Trouble is, we're not fed up enough and are still sending too many of the scoundrels back.  And, it looks like the new comers are likely to continue to follow suit.

There are three things that can fix the mess in Washington, term limits, term limits and term limits.  If congress men and women knew that they had just two term to accomplish what need to be done and that then they would be returning to their homes and regular citizenship, they work on the problems instead of their careers.  Oh, there'd probably still be corruption, but we could deal with that.  What we can't deal with are representatives that represent themselves, using their constituents as mere fodder for their own personal objectives.

If they won't limit their own terms, I call upon voters everywhere, to do the limiting for them!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book Review - The Breaking of Eggs by Jim Powell

I cannot imagine reading a book more pertinent to the moment, in my life, than this one was, now, for me.  It is a memoir of an amazing year in the remarkable life of a little man named Feliks Zhukovski.  You know I don't like to retell the story in my reviews.  This remains true in this case.  Suffice it to say that Feliks left Poland as a boy, just one week before Hitler invaded that land.  He lived in Switzerland during the War and in France the balance of his life.  Most of his adult life is spent traveling extensively in the Eastern Bloc as it was called under the thumb of the USSR and is now experiencing the momentous changes in the political structure of Eastern Europe as the Soviet Union crumbles and the Berlin wall comes crashing down.  That is not the story, that is the backdrop.

I learned so much about life behind the iron curtain during those years we call the Cold War.  The book showed me that life from a number of different perspectives.  I loved the colorful tour through a drab scene Jim Powell provided in a most unique and poignant way.  That, provided the atmosphere.

The story was more about certainty and confusion, about ideals and disaster, about lofty visions shading grimy realities.  It was about ideas versus experiences.  It was about understanding and compassion.  It was about thinking one thing academically, only to discover another truth entirely in the actual experience of life.

I have long held that in the pre-mortal experience we knew all there is to know.  What we lacked was experience.  We came to mortality to make practical application of the things we thought we knew.  It is one thing to know that a hot stove will burn you.  It is entirely another, to actually experience the placing of one's hand on that hot stove.  So, brilliant people cook up brilliant ideals for our lives and storm the political landscape with them; while in the end, they remain our lives, lived and lost, suffered and enjoyed, full of struggles and triumphs, mistakes and successes, lives of experience; the thing mortality is made of.

In the end (thinking about the National Elections day after tomorrow) it is people that matter, not policies and parties and power and posturing.  Like Eastern Europe we've developed a system of government that has concluded that the ends justify the means.  And like the former USSR, we are quickly running out of the means to carry it off.  That seems totally lost on those who seek to guide our future.  Not unlike the Communists, Congress will carry on with an attitude that "you need to break a few eggs to make an omelet."  Which might seem fine, until you realize that the omelet is not for us, but for them.

History, will surely repeat itself.  The egg breakers will continue down their reckless path and eventually the house of cards they imagine themselves to be building will tumble, revealing it for the illusion it has become.  Lives will be shattered, broken, crushed, but experience will be gained and the purpose of mortality fulfilled.  It is time to think more seriously about the people across the dinner table and less so about those across the Potomac.

Five Stars!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Brilliant New Way to Study the Scriptures on!

Have you checked out the newest update of  It is wonderful!  The site is now interactive offering tools and applications that will be useful to not only Latter-day Saints but also our friends of other faiths.

Members of the church may use their church site passwords to access all of the information available to members including New Family Search for preparing family names for Temple Work online.  They may also access their Ward and Stake websites and get meeting information and check out the Calendars for their local units.  New to now, is the ability to sync your Ward and Stake Calendar with Outlook or Google Calendar.  What a fantastic way to keep current on local church events in a busy age.

Another great feature allows us to access the Ward directory of our own particular Ward and Stake.  This includes addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and photos.  Best of all is that this is always as current as the membership records in the Clerk's office!  In Wards where membership has a rapid turn over, this will be an especially useful tool.

Also, there is a Maps app that will help you locate addresses.  This isn't too needful in my Utah Ward, but imagine being called as a Home Teacher to a newcomer in a rural Texas ward.  Wouldn't it be nice to be able to check out a map right from the Ward Web Site?

You can also request a copy of your Patriarchal Blessing from the site.  That, and the blessing of any direct line ancestor.  Isn't technology great!

Finally, and my favorite, is the My Study Notebook.  Associated with all the library content on the site, the notebook allows you to personalize your study of the scriptures, conference talks, church magazines, etc.  As you are studying, should you wish to mark that particular verse; you can highlight it, add personal notations, file the scripture in subject folders of your own creation, as well as tag it for later selection on a particular topic or theme.  This feature makes the online scriptures every bit as useful as my old well worn set of leather bound ones.  Over the years I've tried commercial versions of this that never met my needs.  I shudder to think how much money I spent with no real results.  Now, for free, I can make my own archive of personal insight and inspiration, as pertains to every verse I wish to comment on.  Then when I read the scriptures again, I can read them side by side with the notations I've previously made included right there.  There is a feature that allows you to hide your notations, but I look forward to keeping them open for future reference.  I have long studied the scriptures with a red pencil to mark passage that impressed me.  While I have often, also written notes in the margins, there is seldom enough space to meet my needs.  Now there is no limit to the space I can use to note impressions I have as I study.  Now, if a quote or concept from a conference talk impresses my heart I can file it in a folder that is unique to me and find it quickly next year when I need it for a talk or lesson.

The search engine for the scriptures is much improved as well.  And you can search Conference Talks and other library content as too. It looks like there's also an app that will allow my Folders and Scripture marks and notations to be downloaded to a mobile device so I can carry with me, not only the scriptures, but my personal study data as well.

Well did the ancient prophets long for our day.  Can you imagine studying the scriptures back then and while rolling up a scroll, be given a vision of what we're experiencing today?  I'll bet if we could see those old scrolls, we'd find drool stains, from men who were shown what great blessings and resources WE would take so much for granted.  I hope not to take them for granted, but to make full use of such great gifts from our Father in Heaven.  The church is making full and wonderful use of technology today.  Check our for more fantastic examples.  See it all at .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Too Much Stuff

Remember George Carlin's bit on stuff?  How about Delbert McClinton's song about Too Much Stuff?  They were funny because they were true.  I'm not laughing any more.  I'm afraid I'm on the verge of being a hoarder and have decided it's time to get rid of some stuff.  You'll notice I said, "some."  I've got to ease into this gradually.  I've spent the past few days considering what stuff to keep and what stuff to divest myself of.  The process has been shocking.  How on earth did we get so much stuff?  The hardest part is discovering stuff we sure thought we had to have; stuff we haven't even seen for years.

I'm pretty practical on the big ticket items.  A camp trailer for example.  Even though I sold them for a year, I never once considered buying one.  $30,000 for a reasonably modest one.  How many night's could I stay in a in a motel for that?  How many nights could I camp in a tent for that?  How much more gas would I spend dragging it around?  How many places would I hesitate to go while towing my house around behind me?  I couldn't see how it would ever pay for itself in either savings or convenience.  Have you noticed that hotels are handy, right off the interstate.  Campgrounds?  That's another question.  Besides, campgrounds aren't free either.  I look around and see lots of jet skis, campers, boats and other stuff like that taking up space, hardly ever used.  We rented a couple of jet skis once.  They cost $100.00 for a full day's enjoyment.  It would take a lot of days to make one worth buying.

The little stuff, however, is another story.  Somewhere, I have the right dohinky stored away to fix my widget if it ever quits.  Trouble is I couldn't find it when the widget quit so I bought another one.  Only, at Lowe's dohinkies are sold only in blister packs of four, so now I have four.  Three are not stored in the same place as the first one though, so if my widget quits again, I have twice as much chance of finding one next time.  Then there are the movies.  Dozens and dozens on video tape.  I only own them until the VCR quits.  Then I just own a pile of plastic.  Have I learned my lesson?  Nope, now there are dozens on DVD.  Actually, I'm catching on in that case.  Netflix can own them and if (actually a pretty big if) I really do ever want to watch one a second time I can rent it for lots less than buying it and I don't have to keep it anywhere.

We're currently preparing for a huge yard sale.  We want to get rid of some stuff.  The carport and a 7X14 foot enclosed trailer are crammed with stuff we hope to find new owners for.  We're going to sell off our stuff for pennies on the dollar.  In that pile are hundreds of books.  Many I actually read.  I can't bring myself to let go of dozens of others.  I'm trying to keep my collection in line with the number of bookshelves I already possess.  It makes me think a Kindle or Nook, might be smarter.  The books are cheaper, and can all be stored in a place smaller than a book!  A book reader is cheaper than a bookshelf too.  Plus, there's no waiting, no shipping charges, what a deal!

Another pile in the yard sale is that of scrapbooking supplies.  Scrapbooking too, has gone digital.  The photos are digital.  The paper and doodads are all digital.  The punches, stickers, pretty paper, scissors, binders, are all strings of ones and zeros!  What a space saver that is!  Hopefully, someone will show up to the sale who is too old fashioned to scrapbook with a computer.  I wonder if Sweetie would consider digital quilting or crocheting?

I doubt it.  In fact right in the middle of preparing for the yard sale of the century, Sweetie's mother passed to the great beyond.  And, as you can't take it with you, left behind all of her stuff.  The good side is that she had seven children and lots of grandchildren to divvy up all her stuff.  Even so, this week we're trundling home with lots more stuff.  Good thing we were preparing for the yard sale or we'd have had no room for the inflow.  I'm still hoping for a net loss in the volume of stuff.  But, I think we might have to sell some more books and a book case or two so we'll have more wall space for the burgeoning volume of artistic stuff we have to display.

My brother has a friend who is a bona fide hoarder.  His house has a path from the front door to the kitchen with a tributary path to the bedroom and bathroom.  Everywhere else is literally stacked with stuff; clear to the ceiling.  He even shares his bed with stuff.  This is in his new house.  The old house next door was abandoned when some stacks tipped over, eliminating the pathway.  He has never thrown away a milk jug or a newspaper!  I'm not that bad, in fact Sweetie and I fill two large garbage cans nearly every week; with stuff we're tossing out on a regular basis.  So now the landfill is running out of space for stuff.

Most of this stuff is coming here in huge container ships from China.  It could be a communist conspiracy to bury us in stuff!  Meanwhile, it looks like we're trying to bury them back - in money!

A few years ago Randy talked me into accompanying him on a six day 60 mile trip into the Grand Canyon.  I've backpacked considerably and ordinarily carry around 50 to 60 pounds on my back.  Randy insisted that on this trip we were going light.  We sawed off the handles of our tooth brushes and trimmed every ounce from every other item as well.  When we dropped in over the rim Randy was carrying 23 pounds and I was carrying 24.  Included in each of those packs was all the food we'd need for the week, all of our camping and cooking supplies and eight pounds of water.  We looked and acted like we were on a day hike; literally skipping along past backpackers lumbering along with their heavy stuff.  You know, it was the best backpacking experience of my life!  And, I never missed a single thing I left behind!  I'm starting to think I might enjoy life a lot better too; if I were to travel a lot lighter.

Last night on Katie Couric's show she reported of a movement to do just that.  There are people who are attempting to limit their number of possessions to 100 items!  Sounds rather emancipating doesn't it?  Think of it.  Smaller house, smaller rooms, smaller closets, smaller kitchens with fewer cupboards, a garage where you can actually park your car.  I've never dared to enclose my carport for fear that I'd have to park the car outside!  I'm really beginning to subscribe to the statement that says, "We don't own our stuff; our stuff owns us."  Now I'm not going to go that radical on the subject; but I am heading in that direction.

There are some things I'd rather not do without.  I like a bit of memorabilia.  I like a bit of art.  I'm a bit sentimental about things my loved ones have created.  I love the feel and smell of an actual book and I love the look of a bookcase full of them.  I like that my workshop is stocked with tools and I love using them to make stuff.  And here we go again, adding to the problem.

I think my all time favorite movie has to be the Gods Must Be Crazy.  Xi, an African bushman spends the entire movie trying to get rid of stuff.  In his case a coke bottle.  Practically the only material possession of his tribe, the bottle is nothing but trouble.  Part of me wants to be that free of stuff.

Another aspect of the problem is that we all seem to want our own stuff.  So, my neighbor across the street, the ones next door on either side of him and those on either side of me and the guy right behind me, my son-in-law, all have our own chainsaws, I have two!  What is up with that?  We all have our own lawn mowers, and myriad other things.  Wouldn't we all benefit if we could come up with a way to share fewer piles of stuff?  When I was in the Navy, the base had a rental place.  As we were quite nomadic as a group, the military thought it to be to their advantage if we had less stuff for them to move around.  Thus we could go to the base and rent everything from sleeping bags and tents to barbecue grills or chain saws.  As a group we collectively carried around far less stuff.  Maybe there's a lesson we civilians could learn from that.

Perhaps I need more drastic intervention.  Perhaps I need an exorcist.  Obviously, I'm possessed by my possessions.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Its Time For A Regulation in the Church

In Alma 62:44 we read, " had become expedient that a regulation should be made again in the church."  Call it the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or Satan's influence.  Call it the foibles of mortality or the fallen state of the natural man.  What ever you call it, it seems to be the common lot of life here on earth; things tend to go downhill to a more corrupt and chaotic state.

Such is the case with Funeral Potatoes.  Back in the day, Funeral Potatoes were the cat's meow in my book.  I was often tempted to crash the luncheon following the passing of total strangers.  In those days that blessed concoction of shredded potatoes, sour cream, green onions, Campbell's soup and cheese was the most comforting, delectable, thing ever served in a cultural hall.

Now, please realize that I am one who never fails to step into the kitchen and express my gratitude to those wonderful sisters whose compassionate service has blessed us on such a day.  Far be it from me to criticize their earnest and much appreciated efforts.  They are earnest in their labors and are surely only desirous of doing what is right.  It is likely they, who are the most victimized by the corrupted recipes they've inherited.

It is probable that a mere typographical error or misplaced line of text has led their good intentions into such dreary darkness.  There are frequent stories heard of a child who, upon walking into the kitchen and seeing funeral potatoes emerge from the oven, has asked, "Who died?"  It seems most certain that no one ever tastes them at home.  Additionally, we cannot be influenced by social pressures to accommodate some gentile's distaste for onions.  Onions are not prohibited by the Word of Wisdom despite claims of some detractors who would have us settle for less than perfection.

When funeral potatoes first came on the scene one could count on their yummy deliciousness at every special occasion.  Gradually though, more and more presentations of the gem were declining in their wonderfulness.  My dismay led to a practice that, for a long time, remedied the problem for me.  I would be certain to be near the end of the parallel lines that moved the length of the serving table.  It always began with plates and utensils, then came the ham followed by casseroles of funeral potatoes.  Usually four were presented at a time.  I would take a small sample of each and step aside to taste test the four.  At first I was eliminating the corrupted version but gradually, I found I was seeking the ONE.

I've been to two funerals this month.  To my dismay and utter astonishment none, were even close to the divine standard upheld when the original recipe was revealed.  Some I could barely choke down.  This is when I determined to set upon a quest to regulate this blessed ritual in the Kingdom.

Here is our family's original recipe:
Funeral Potatoes
10-12 potatoes                                            2 bunches green onions
2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup                    1 pint sour cream
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Boil the potatoes whole and in their skins until just barely tender.  Cool, peel, and shred.  Slice or dice the green onions.  Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 9 X 13" pan.  Bake 30 - 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
I'll allow that frozen shredded potatoes be used in the interest of time and convenience.  It is a very simple recipe, so there is no need to further modify it.  Now, I am not so stubborn that I would not consider some other recipe and would be willing to try any suggestions you might offer.  Still, I cannot imagine anything better than the simple one shown above.

Brothers and Sisters, it is time that we no longer have our mourning exacerbated by this oversight of church standards.  Need we mourn the loss of funeral potatoes at the same time we are bereaved?  Our sainted mothers would  roll over in their graves if they knew of the dwindling of such hallmark tokens of our heritage.

I, therefore, call upon the General Relief Society Presidency, Stake Relief Society Presidencies, Ward Relief Society Presidencies and Relief Society Sisters everywhere to gird up your loins and go forward in faith that Funeral Potatoes might once again be enthroned in their Celestial place.  Terrestrial and sometimes Telestial potatoes will never do.  I for one would not be offended if Section 139 of the Doctrine and Covenants were to make this recipe to be part of the canon of truth.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It All Began With a Promise

I had the honor of speaking at my dear Mother-in-law's funeral yesterday.  There were several who requested a copy of that talk.  I include it here for them and those others who might be interested:

It All Began With a Promise

It all began with a promise -  when in that Great Council in Heaven, Jesus stepped forward and said, “Here am I, send me.”  It was a promise to set in motion, a plan to redeem His Father’s children, his own brothers and sisters, from the inevitable error inherent in their mortal experience.  He knew that in order for us to become like our Heavenly Parents we would have to have our agency in mortality.  He knew that with that agency we would, to some degree, choose to be in defiance of the laws of the Universe, the laws of happiness.  He knew that those wrong choices would prevent us from returning to live with our Heavenly Father and Mother, unless someone perfect and unspotted, without sin, could redeem us from our errors.
And so the Son of God, condescended to come to earth, to be born in a stable, to suffer the pains and sorrows of mortality, to endure the pain of our sickness, weakness, disappointment and sin in Gethsemane and on the cross and then die, that we might live.  That was a very personal promise made to you and to me.

In the church we do everything individually.  We take the sacrament individually.  We are baptized one person at a time.  The labor of the Temple could be greatly accelerated if we could do the work for groups, but no, we spend the hours and do the work for individual souls, one precious person at a time.  Mom knew and rejoiced in the privilege and spent untold hours extracting names and serving vicariously for such individuals in the temple, one person at a time.  So it was with Jesus’ Atoning and vicarious sacrifice.  I bear testimony that He took each of our names through the Temple of Gethsemane, one person at a time.  By so doing, he became intimately familiar with each of us.  He became acquainted with our grief, our disappointment, our fear and frustration, our anxiety and pain.  He did this that He might be able to understand and then succor us, that he might be able to lift us from our sorrow into the glorious light of His love and forgiveness.  Elder Boyd K. Packer explained the breadth of Christ’s most kind service thus:
“Save for those few who defect to perdition after having known a fullness, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness.”
That promise extends to all and is a promise that will enable us to not only return to live with God again, but also with Rae and Garth, Noble and Donetta, Willard and Inez, Angela and Annie and myriad other loved ones who have gone on before us.
After Jesus died on the cross He went to the Spirit World, where Mom has gone, to visit the millions who had left mortality through death and were waiting there for the further implementation of God’s Plan for our Happiness.  There He organized the righteous to go forth and inform the rest, of the blessed and still available opportunity they had to, through repentance, find the joy of redemption.  Thus, they might become righteous too.  The definition of righteousness is not nearly so much tied to our performance as it is tied to our willingness to repent and receive redemption through Christ, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Listen to these words of comfort as prophet and President Joseph F. Smith describes the place to which mother has gone:
Section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants

 31 And the chosen messengers went forth to declare the acceptable day of the Lord and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel.
  32 Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets.
  33 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,
  34 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.
58 The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,
  59 And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.

I believe that Mom will continue with her involvement in that great work, just as she did here in mortality.  Earlier in that same section of scripture we read:  (Think of Mom as I recite these words.)

  12 And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality;
  14 All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
  15 I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together

If anyone departed this earth worthy of such joy and rejoicing it is our own Grandma Rae.

You will notice that the chief characteristic of those joyful ones was that they had been “faithful in the testimony of Jesus.”  While it is important to bear testimony of Him, might this not also mean that we must be faithful in His testimony about us?  Everything Jesus ever did or said was a testimony that we, His sisters and brothers ARE of Divine Worth and Infinite Potential!   Mom tried to convey that truth to us as well.  We have within us the seeds of divinity.  Let us go forth from this day forward, responding to Jesus’ promise to redeem us with a promise of our own.  That like our Mother we will be faithful in accepting Jesus’ testimony that we are precious children of God who are indeed, of Infinite Worth and Divine Potential.

It all began with a promise.  On December 22, 1942, nearly 68 years ago, Garth Rasmussen and Rae Petersen knelt across an altar in the Logan Temple and made a promise of their own.  They promised that they would begin a new family in the earth.  One that would endure through eternity.  They have kept that promise. 

Along the way there were other, smaller promises that added up to that one big one.  Rae promised to follow Garth to the ends of the earth and Guam and Newfoundland and a dozen places in between were very nearly so.

They promised they would be faithful to one another, and so it was.

They promised they would do their best to raise their children and so they did.

Garth promised to build a house for his parents, a promise he kept.  And then to keep his promise to provide for his family, he expanded that house to what it is today, though not quite as yellow.

Rae promised to fill that house with love and memories and oh, how faithfully she honored that commitment.  But suddenly, have you noticed; it wasn’t the house, but she who was its very heart, which made it such a home.

Mom promised a life of consecration and that was the life she lived.  She kept a journal of all the quilts she made and gave away.  We thought that was pretty impressive.  Then Darryl Wilson showed up last night with another journal of all the quilts her quilting group had completed in just the last decade!  How many lives are wrapped in the warmth of her great love and devotion?  How many names has she done in the temple?  How many more has she extracted from old, hard to read records?  How many sisters has she visited?  How many lessons has she taught?  How many meals has she prepared?  How many lives has she touched for good?  More than any of us can possibly count.

I used to go to the temple on Saturday.  I often wondered if I’d ever see some heavenly manifestation while I was there.  Then when I retired I switched to Monday; and there in the Temple I saw an angel, our own angel mother, I hesitate to add the in-law, for she is a dear to me as my own mother.  I have seen that angel in the Temple often and hope to, yet again.

I hope you all got to hear Mom pray.  I got to hear her bless the food one morning.  She was hoping to choke down a few spoonfuls of yogurt.  But to hear her pray you’d have thought she was sitting down to a feast.  Her humble, sincere, heartfelt gratitude knew no bounds.

Recently, as she and Cheya were closing an arduous day of sickness with prayer, Mom gratefully acknowledged the blessing she had so enjoyed of serving in the Temple.  As they finished and Cheya was tucking her in, Mom told her that the Spirit had whispered another promise; that she would yet enjoy many many hours of Temple service.  We take that to mean that she will be resurrected and serve in the Temple during the blessed years of the Millennium.

I’d like to finish with one final promise.  It is a promise delivered by a Patriarch, from God, to us, through her:

The Lord will make up to you, because of your faithfulness, for every heartache and sorrow that has come to you and they will be turned into joy and blessing for you for every righteous desire of your heart will yet be realized.  The Lord will eventually make up to you every blessing promised to you in the temple.  You will not lose any of them.  You can be sure of family life and exaltation eternally.  Nothing is impossible to the Lord.  Through the continued love, effort and prayers of yourself and children, the Lord will work upon your husband to where he will yet come to love the Gospel and give faithful service in it.

Then God promised:

I seal this blessing upon you Sister Rasmussen, and seal you up that through your faithfulness you will come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, with your loved ones, thrilled at the part the Lord has given you in mortality in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

With regard to God’s promise concerning Dad; Mom had a second witness of its truthfulness when Cory brought Audrey to the Vernal Temple to receive her endowments.  It was an experience too sacred to express here but affirmed that her beloved husband is indeed hers forever.

With regard to the rest of us, who all fall short of the standard of righteousness that lets us send her off so assured of her exaltation, may I close with this affirmation of the Patriarch’s certain promise.  From Orson F. Whitney we read:

“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home the painful experience will not have been in vain.

I assure you that Mom kept her promises.  She will have us.  Her love will draw us to her and not one of us will be lost to her.  I don’t know about you, but I want to respond to those tentacles of Divine Providence, tentacles I feel here today.  I want to respond to them sooner, not later, so that upon my own arrival in the Spirit World, I will be one found rejoicing, not still treading a thorny path.

Mom is forever ours, and we are hers.  I promise, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.
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