Thursday, December 30, 2010

Does it ever get any easier?

This is an interesting question and upon being asked it I was given a very interesting answer, no.
If it ever got easier why would we continue? If life was to be hard and then all of the sudden get easy we would give up. There would be no guarantee that after that looming crest in the distance there would be a valley laden with fruit. That it how Satan wins so many souls. Souls that are on the uphill climb and off to the side we see the valley laden with water, and fruit, milk and honey; take your pick, but whatever it is we stop for a rest and see not only the distance that was left to climb, but now the additional distance enhanced by the valley.
Does it ever get any easier? Thankfully, no.
So what are we to do. The second error that we make is assuming that we are alone up this steep and tall mountain. I recommend getting some good company. I was told once, "maybe they're just jealous of your friends." My first response was, "Who wouldn't be." My friends, over time, become family. They are people that with whom I hope to sit at the feet of the Master one day. They are leaders and teachers, not only to me, but to everyone around them. I am reminded that Lehi saw a great multitude pressing their way towards the tree. Some were lost, some made it and left, but there was a great brotherhood/sisterhood among those that stayed. If life feels too hard, that is because we are trying to do it alone. The Savior walked the path alone so that we could choose to not to. He is the one that sends people into our lives to fulfill specific needs, and then He is there to fill every need. If we are walking alone then we deserve to feel like life is hard, because you're making it hard. Take your foot off of the brakes.
Does it ever get any easier? Gratefully, no.
One last idea with this idea. Our very nature is to only appreciate that which we feel is ours. We don't appreciate a new car given as much as a beat up one that we buy. We don't appreciate a clean room unless we clean it. We don't appreciate a meal as much unless you help make it. Along with that idea, we don't and can't appreciate the Atonement if we don't suffer with Him a little bit. Elder Holland said, "We are going to have to take at least a few steps towards the summit of Calvary." It is in our nature that we must suffer. How much more Christ can appreciate our life's experiences because He suffered. That is why he will run to us, because he has been where we are. We cannot be like the ungrateful and truly blind people who as Elder Maxwell says say, "Father make me as thou art. Give me everything that is thine, but do not make me suffer as you have suffered. Take away all of the experiences that have made you who you are and give me everything that is thine." 
What a prayer! 
Does it ever get any easier? I pray that it doesn't.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


So if you are checking this as the sequel to yesterday and wonder what in the world bells have to do with anything then you will just have to read. It's not that long, come on. 
Tonight we sang, "I heard the bells on Christmas day" just finishing up the second round through Christmas carols and it says, "Then peeled the bells more loud and sweet God is not dead nor doth He sleep. The wrong shall fail the right prevail." Therein lies one of the issues with trusting God
We do not see the big picture. It never says anything about the righteous not suffering and the righteous going to go and win some great victories and be invincible. 
Yeah, okay when you say it like that it sounds a bit ridiculous. The problem is that it is pretty accurate when the wheel hits the pavement. 
I've done it. God am I not doing everything that I can be doing and then THIS? Really? Is that fair? 
I've come to believe that life is more fair than we imagine. 
Trust in God means that we are milling to submit without reservation. It is not a "fine have it your way" attitude. That leaves us with nothing. It must be a "Thy will be done, I don't understand. I don't have to. Let me know that it is Thy will and I will accept it. I will make the best of it." 
When you combine that with the Atonement, which will give us, "Beauty for ashes, the garment of joy for sorrow..." then we will not only make the best of it, but it will make the best of us. It will turn what we thought to be ugly, used up and worthless into the Eternal Glory of our Father in Heaven. That is the beauty of the Atonement. Because Christ suffered, we need not. Pain is obligatory, suffering is optional, only through Him. God is not dead, He does not sleep. If you are awake tonight He is with you. If you are suffering He yearns to come to you. If you are wondering where He is you should ask Him. 
All of the things that I was "cheated" out of by life will be restored an hundred fold. The opportunities that someone unjustly stole will be restored an hundred fold. I will not be deprived of anything because of the infinite Atonement that the Savior suffered. He is ever mindful, I am not nearly mindful enough of Him. 
So when life seems unfair. That is just it. It seems unfair. It can never really be unfair. It will all be made right.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Understanding the Ways of the Lord

It is basically impossible, just saying. 
We are given to walk in this life by faith. We must understand and trust that we don't understand everything. But will the Lord who has invested so much into us leave us rot. Elder Maxwell says, "It is not blind obedience [or faith] to trust in a Being who has proved Himself time and time again."

Gotta run will finish this thought tomorrow

Monday, December 27, 2010

In Our Darkest Hour...The Best Is Yet to Be

To someone who I know needs this and hopes reads it.

Elder Holland

Look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.

The start of a new year is the traditional time to take stock of our lives and see where we are going, measured against the backdrop of where we have been. I don’t want to talk about New Year’s resolutions, but I do want to talk about the past and the future, with an eye toward any time of transition and change in our lives—and those moments come virtually every day.

As a scriptural theme for this discussion, I have chosen Luke 17:32, where the Savior cautions, “Remember Lot’s wife.” What did He mean by such an enigmatic little phrase? To find out, we need to do as He suggested. Let’s recall who Lot’s wife was.

The story, of course, comes to us out of the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, when the Lord, having had as much as He could stand of the worst that men and women could do, told Lot and his family to flee because those cities were about to be destroyed. “Escape for thy life,” the Lord said. “Look not behind thee … ; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (Genesis 19:17; emphasis added).

With less than immediate obedience and more than a little negotiation, Lot and his family ultimately did leave town but just in the nick of time. The scriptures tell us what happened at daybreak the morning following their escape:

“The Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;

“And he overthrew those cities” (Genesis 19:24–25).

My theme comes in the next verse. Surely, with the Lord’s counsel—“look not behind thee”—ringing clearly in her ears, Lot’s wife, the record says, “looked back,” and she was turned into a pillar of salt (see verse 26).

Just what did Lot’s wife do that was so wrong? As a student of history, I have thought about that and offer a partial answer. Apparently, what was wrong with Lot’s wife was that she wasn’t just looking back; in her heart she wanted to go back. It would appear that even before she was past the city limits, she was already missing what Sodom and Gomorrah had offered her. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once said, such people know they should have their primary residence in Zion, but they still hope to keep a summer cottage in Babylon.1

It is possible that Lot’s wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. We certainly know that Laman and Lemuel were resentful when Lehi and his family were commanded to leave Jerusalem. So it isn’t just that she looked back; she looked backlongingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin.

Faith Points to the Future

As a new year begins and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives.

So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently, she thought that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as what she was leaving behind.

To yearn to go back to a world that cannot be lived in now, to be perennially dissatisfied with present circumstances and have only dismal views of the future, and to miss the here and now and tomorrow because we are so trapped in the there and then and yesterday are some of the sins of Lot’s wife.

After the Apostle Paul reviewed the privileged and rewarding life of his early years—his birthright, education, and standing in the Jewish community—he says to the Philippians that all of that was “dung” compared to his conversion to Christianity. He says, and I paraphrase, “I have stopped rhapsodizing about ‘the good old days’ and now eagerly look toward the future ‘that I may apprehend that for which Christ apprehended me’” (see Philippians 3:7–12). Then come these verses:

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14).

No Lot’s wife here. No looking back at Sodom and Gomorrah here. Paul knows it is out there in the future, up ahead wherever heaven is taking us, that we will win “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Forgive and Forget

There is something in many of us that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either our mistakes or the mistakes of others. It is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist.

I was told once of a young man who for many years was more or less the brunt of every joke in his school. He had some disadvantages, and it was easy for his peers to tease him. Later in his life he moved away. He eventually joined the army and had some successful experiences there in getting an education and generally stepping away from his past. Above all, as many in the military do, he discovered the beauty and majesty of the Church and became active and happy in it.

Then, after several years, he returned to the town of his youth. Most of his generation had moved on but not all. Apparently, when he returned quite successful and quite reborn, the same old mind-set that had existed before was still there, waiting for his return. To the people in his hometown, he was still just old “so-and-so”—you remember the guy who had the problem, the idiosyncrasy, the quirky nature, and did such and such. And wasn’t it all just hilarious?

Little by little this man’s Pauline effort to leave that which was behind and grasp the prize that God had laid before him was gradually diminished until he died about the way he had lived in his youth. He came full circle: again inactive and unhappy and the brunt of a new generation of jokes. Yet he had had that one bright, beautiful midlife moment when he had been able to rise above his past and truly see who he was and what he could become. Too bad, too sad that he was again to be surrounded by a whole batch of Lot’s wives, those who thought his past was more interesting than his future. They managed to rip out of his grasp that for which Christ had grasped him. And he died sad, though through little fault of his own.

That also happens in marriages and other relationships. I can’t tell you the number of couples I have counseled who, when they are deeply hurt or even just deeply stressed, reach farther and farther into the past to find yet a bigger brick to throw through the window “pain” of their marriage. When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is notright to go back and open some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died to heal.

Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is that charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, “Hey! Do you remember this?” Splat!

Well, guess what? That is probably going to result in some ugly morsel being dug up out of your landfill with the reply, “Yeah, I remember it. Doyou remember this?” Splat.

And soon enough everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what our Father in Heaven pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing.

Such dwelling on past lives, including past mistakes, is just not right! It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. In some ways it is worse than Lot’s wife because at least she destroyed only herself. In cases of marriage and family, wards and branches, apartments and neighborhoods, we can end up destroying so many others.

Perhaps at this beginning of a new year there is no greater requirement for us than to do as the Lord Himself said He does: “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42).

The proviso, of course, is that repentance has to be sincere, but when it is and when honest effort is being made to progress, we are guilty of the greater sin if we keep remembering and recalling and rebashing someone with his or her earlier mistakes—and that someone might be ourselves. We can be so hard on ourselves—often much more so than on others!

Now, like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies of the Book of Mormon, bury your weapons of war and leave them buried (see Alma 24). Forgive and do that which is sometimes harder than to forgive: forget. And when it comes to mind again, forget it again.

The Best Is Yet to Be

You can remember just enough to avoid repeating the mistake, but then put the rest of it all on the dung heap Paul spoke of to the Philippians. Dismiss the destructive, and keep dismissing it until the beauty of the Atonement of Christ has revealed to you your bright future and the bright future of your family, your friends, and your neighbors. God doesn’t care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are and, with His help, where you are willing to go. That is the thing Lot’s wife didn’t get—and neither did Laman and Lemuel and a host of others in the scriptures.

This is an important matter to consider at the start of a new year—and every day ought to be the start of a new year and a new life. Such is the wonder of faith, repentance, and the miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The poet Robert Browning wrote:
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in his hand
Who saith, “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”2

Some of you may wonder: Is there any future for me? What does a new year or a new semester, a new major or a new romance, a new job or a new home hold for me? Will I be safe? Will life be sound? Can I trust in the Lord and in the future? Or would it be better to look back, to go back, to stay in the past?

To all such of every generation, I call out, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the “high priest of good things to come” (Hebrews 9:11).

Keep your eyes on your dreams, however distant and far away. Live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness, of trust and divine love that will transform your life today, tomorrow, and forever. That is a New Year’s resolution I ask you to keep.
Young Adults
Leaving the Past in the Past

Name withheld

When I was 16, I didn’t get along with my twin brother at all. We fought about everything. One day he humiliated me at school with an intensely critical and personal attack in front of a group of friends. His actions and hurtful words left me devastated in a way my teenage self could not bear. Even when our parents confronted him about the incident, he never said he was sorry. For years I held onto the pain.

He was still on his mission when I received my own mission call. I was preparing to enter the temple and began to reflect on my life to find where I needed to change to feel prepared to go to the temple. I realized that even though I didn’t often think about what my brother did, I still needed to forgive him.

My brother had hurt me more than anyone else, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to forgive him. So I prayed for help from Heavenly Father.

With His help, I decided to start writing my brother regularly on his mission. Before that, I’m sorry to admit, I hardly wrote him at all. Then I sent him a package. When I left on my mission, he came with my parents to the missionary training center and gave me a hug. He even wrote me a few times.

I know that even though it may take time, with Heavenly Father’s help, we can let the past remain in the past.

Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us.

Paul taught, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness, of trust and divine love that will transform your life today, tomorrow, and forever.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The widows mites

So I got to speak in church today and it was fantastic, sorta. Teaching and I have this love/love/hate/hate relationship. I love preparing, but I am always freaked out when I get up and I love feeling the spirit and then I feel like I didn't get across what I needed to and then everybody says what a good job you did anyway. Meh. I of coarse talked about institute and what it means to me and why everyone should enroll in a class. One of the parables I used was one of my favorite parables the widows mite. At the very end the Savior says, "For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." 
I find it interesting that those who had much and gave much did not give as much as the one who gave the least amount. I gather a few things from this. We need to learn how to give until it hurts. We need to give for the right reasons. No matter what we have we must give our all. 
The rich men, gave of their abundance. They did not trust in the Lord. They kept what they needed to be comfortable and gave the leftovers to the Lord. In Sunday school today we hear from Malachi, "Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts."
Would we really give the leftover, lesser portion to the Lord and call it a sacrifice.?
The Savior also watched how they threw their money in. We must give for the right reasons. Not for a haughty display with contempt, but as the Savior gives to us.
We must give our all. That is the sufficient purchase price. We must understand that our one hour in five free hours is infinitely less than an extremely busy persons half hour. If they only have an half an hour to give and they give it  willingly, we are found left with much hanging in the balance. 
The widow who gave all continues to inspire me and guide me in the ways that I need to give and to serve.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


This Christmas I go to have one of those I didn't know I was missing it until I got it and realized that my life was more complete because I had it experiences. I am that person that you hate to draw their name out of a hat for a Christmas party kind of person. The terrible person to shop for. My own mother won't even shop for me anymore, because chances are that if I wanted it I have already gotten it. It is a terrible thing I know, but none the less it is the case. This is usually how my gift purchasing works. I see something and I want to buy it, so I go home and research it to see what it is worth. Then I wait a few weeks and if I still want it then I shop around for good deals. Then I wait a few months until it feels right and then I buy it.  
Well standard issue Christmas this year. I got done with my Christmas shopping by around November 28th and was ready to just be done shopping for the season. I imagined that this Christmas was going to be the regular get everything that you went and bought and know that you have a few small surprises under the tree as well that Mom knew were safe to get, because she wanted you to have some surprises. Well I was very unfortunately wrong. I blessed to be friends with a Master Gift Giver. I have no real recollection of how or when this person heard me say it, but I recall talking with someone and it may have even been them about how cool it would be to have a pocket flask like Mad Eye Moody from the Harry Potter series. 
Well the 24th comes around and I start to make some clean up rounds to deliver the last of my Christmas presents. I obtained one in return whilst about my deliveries and it was indeed a very classy, pocket sized flask. I was astounded. I had a flood of emotions. I could not believe that in so many years of no one even attempting to shop for me, which I am more than perfectly fine with this person had gifted me something that was without question one of the greatest Christmas presents ever. I look at it and know that it was something that I did not get myself and that adds an intrinsic value that infinitely increases its worth. 
I think of the Savior. He too has given me something that I could not get myself. Something that through my own neglect I have not given myself. He is the Master Gift Giver and it is through Him that we gain the Gift that we yearn for most. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Night of all Nights

I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas. This night of all nights when the star appeared, ushering in the time foretold from Adam to Samuel the Lamanite. The culmination of thousands of years and billions of souls waited as the Savior of the World was to be born. We celebrate His birthday this time of the year and as such we celebrate Him as He is. Not the babe in Bethlehem, nor the Jehovah of the Old Testament, but our resurrected Lord and Savior. Holding in our hearts that same hope that when He shall appear we shall be like Him. What grounds have we to hope for salvation? None. It is only through the merits of Christ that salvation can be won. They waited and hoped. We wait and hope, but for something different. The Atonement is done and salvation has been won. Now we wait and hope for that glorious day that He will come again to rule in our midst. We hope for that time when we will be arraigned before the judgement bar of God and He will plead our case. That is why we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate the Living Son of God. It is his birthday. May we become master gift givers to Him who gave all that He might give us all, and find an adequate gift for the Savior this year, and everyday of our lives.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last, but not least.

They counted sacrifice a bargain. The last of the ideas that support President Eyring's theory is that master gift givers count sacrifice a bargain. What is a bargain exactly? I don't know. The etymology is pretty mixed. For my purpose I am going to say that it is something that yields more than what you put in. 
Sacrifice seems to be the ultimate inconvenience. No matter what you do it always requires all that you currently have and can seem to break you. The fact is that it is supposed to break you. I always think of a sword in a forge. The metal is folded and folded. Do you think that it is easy to "fold" metal. The only reason that it folds is because it is soooo hot. The fact is that it actually breaks. It gets hot and then is folded and broken so that you can pound it out with a hammer.
Sacrifice requires that we put on hold everything that we wanted to do for someone else. 
Why on earth would we do that?
Because it is what the Savior would do. The things that we give are completely outweighed by what we get. Now that sounds really selfish and if when I say that you think about filling your pockets with the treasures of heaven then it is. The fact is that what we get is almost never measured in physical commodities. What we get is to become more like God. If we were to live life just to get more of what the world has then we will never have enough. 
If we live life to strive to become like God then we will find that there is enough and to spare. The world is always coming out with something new. God is always the same today, yesterday, and forever. The world will have you take care of yourself first so that you can take care of others. Christ would have you lose yourself to find yourself. 
The fact is that anything that we "lose" is much like being in a sinking boat and mourning all of the things tossed overboard to save your life from being lost to the storm and wishing with all of your heart that you had kept them and died. The fact is that anything we lose really makes the trip that much easier and the matter of fact is that we were going to lose it anyway, or it will be restored an hundred fold. I call that a bargain. What are you giving and what are you getting. Do we give gratefully so that we can rejoice in BOTH the gift and the Giver of the gift. What we deem as sacrifice is really lightening the load and in so doing becoming more like Him whom we serve.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Secondly, even though it is just as important

I felt the gift was free.

The Savior has made it clear that all may come and partake. I call it the shed principle. There is one door. There is a diamond in the shed. You want the diamond. You proceed to walk away from the shed. 


That makes absolutely no sense right?

Some people feel that the "church" is too restrictive, which really means they think God is too restrictive, but they just blame the church as if they were in charge. They don't want to have to walk to the shed. God really doesn't care what we do in life. He only cares about what we become. The problem lies herein, that we become what we do. If we refuse to go to the shed we will never retrieve what lies therein. As with Eternal life, the kind of life that God lives, we must make the journey to obtain what lies therein. When we get there I almost expect it to be empty though, because who I am once I get there will be worth more than what I hoped to find inside. I have a feeling that it will not be empty, but it will seem so.

The Savior as the Master gift giver gave freely. He knew in fact that many who would eventually come to accept His gift would spurn Him and that some who would now accept it would abandon Him later in life. He also knew that some would never accept His gift. But He also knew there would be some who would see His gift for what it was. The only chance we had of getting where we wanted to go. He gave freely, and sacrificed of His own accord to give us that chance. 

We have a choice. Do we give because our heart says that we should? Do we feel obligated? Do we give because we feel something more?  Do we give because we felt what He felt? If we do then we will give freely. No expectation of anything in return. Then others will feel that it is free.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Revisting the past

I would like to take the next three days and talk about the three parts to the theory of the great gift giver that President Eyring talked about
1) They felt what you felt and were touched. This is one of the hardest things about giving gifts for me personally because knowing what someone else feels takes experiences, or something much greater than our own experiences.  The Savior is the one who knows what others are feeling and how others are hurting. He knows their dreams and their wishes and so I propose that our own experiences are not enough. Timing is everything to the Lord  His timing. I believe that even though our experiences are vital to ministering to others that being worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost is worth more. If we truly feel the way that God feels towards His children and then if our hearts are touched then we can begin to understand how to give good gifts. "When we feel to take the burdens of another and put them upon our own backs then we feel in some small measure what the Savior feels for us." He would walk with us, and help us in whatever ways that He could. These are some of my goals to help me be a better gift giver in the area of feeling what others feel and allowing my heart to be touched

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gifts of Love

I love going to church and hearing talks that inspire me and this is one that I heard from my Bishop's wife. She only read us a very small portion, but this is the talk in it's entirety. I hope that you find it as enwelming as I did.

President Henry B Eyring

Thank you, President Holland. I am delighted to be here with you. I pray that I may have the blessings of the Spirit so that I can say something useful to you.

A father asked me yesterday to advise him about giving a Christmas gift to his daughter. He just can't decide whether or not to give this gift, or how to give it. His daughter is a college student; she may even be listening today. Her hectic life of school activities is made even harder because she doesn't have a car. She begs rides, and she sometimes misses appointments. Her dad doesn't have enough money for another car, at least not without some real sacrifice by his family. But he's found a used car he might buy for her if he cuts enough corners on the family budget. And now he's wondering. He asked me, "Will that car really be good for her, or will it be a problem? I love her, and she really could use it, but do you think it will help her or spoil her?" Let me guess. I can hear you rooting for the car: "Go for it! Go for it!"

I didn't try to answer his question then, but I could sense his worry and sympathize with him. You ought to have sympathy for both givers and getters at Christmastime. Last night my sons, Matthew and John, and I spent time at a toy store. Above us a red Santa Claus spun slowly as the sound of a mother whispering with clenched teeth floated over the stacks of toys to our aisle: "Don't tell me what your brother did to you. I saw everything. Do you want me to hit you right here in the store? Now you go outside and sit on that bench. And you stay there. And if you don't I won't get you a thing." John and I shrugged and smiled at each other as we moved on, and I hummed inwardly, "'Tis the season to be jolly. . . ."

Gift giving isn't easy. It's hard to give a gift with confidence. There are so many things that can go wrong. You wonder if the person on the other end will want it. My batting average on that is low. At least I think it is. You can't really tell what gets returned after Christmas, but I am cautious enough that I always wrap the gift in the box from the store where I bought it.

I've always daydreamed of being a great gift giver. I picture people opening my gifts and showing with tears of joy and a smile that the giving, not just the gift, has touched their hearts. You must have that daydream, too. Many of you are probably already experts in gift giving. But even the experts may share some of my curiosity about what makes a gift great. I've been surrounded by expert gift givers all my life. None of them has ever told me how to do it, but I've been watching and I've been building a theory. I think it's finally ready to be shared, at least among friends at this university. Here it is: The Eyring Theory of Gift Giving and Receiving. I call it a theory because it is surely incomplete. And calling it a theory means I expect you will change and improve it. I hope so, because then it will be yours. But at least I can help your theory building along.

My theory comes from thinking about many gifts and many holidays, but one day and one gift can illustrate it. The day was not Christmas nor even close to it. It was a summer day. My mother had died in the early afternoon. My father, my brother, and I had been at the hospital. As we walked out, my brother and I went to the car together, smiled, and looked up at the mountains. We remembered how Mother had always said she loved the mountains so much. He and I laughed and guessed that if the celestial worlds are really flat, like a sea of glass, she would be eager to get away to build her own worlds, and the first thing she'd build would be mountains. With that we smiled and got into the car and drove home. We went to the family home, and Dad met us there. There were just the three of us.

Friends and family came and went. In a lull, we fixed ourselves a snack. Then we visited with more callers. It grew late and dusk fell; I remember we still had not turned on the lights.

Then Dad answered the doorbell again. It was Aunt Catherine and Uncle Bill. When they'd walked just a few feet past the vestibule, Uncle Bill extended his hand, and I could see that he was holding a bottle of cherries. I can still see the deep red, almost purple, cherries and the shining gold cap on the mason jar. He said, "You might enjoy these. You probably haven't had dessert."

We hadn't. The three of us sat around the kitchen table and put some cherries in bowls and ate them as Uncle Bill and Aunt Catherine cleared some dishes. Uncle Bill then asked, "Are there people you haven't had time to call? Just give me some names, and I'll do it." We mentioned a few relatives who would want to know of Mother's death. And then Aunt Catherine and Uncle Bill were gone. They could not have been with us more than twenty minutes.

Now, you can understand my theory best if you focus on one gift: the bottle of cherries. And let me explain this theory from the point of view of one person who received the gift: me. As we'll see, that is crucial. What matters in what the giver does is what the receiver feels. You may not believe that yet, but trust me for the moment. So let's start from inside me and with the gift of the bottle of cherries.

As near as I can tell, the giving and receiving of a great gift always has three parts. Here they are, illustrated by that gift on a summer evening.

First, I knew that Uncle Bill and Aunt Catherine had felt what I was feeling and had been touched. I'm not over the thrill of that yet. They must have felt we'd be too tired to fix much food. They must have felt that a bowl of home-canned cherries would make us, for a moment, feel like a family again. And not only did they feel what I felt, they were touched by it. Just knowing that someone had understood meant far more to me than the cherries themselves. I can't remember the taste of the cherries, but I remember that someone knew my heart and cared.

Second, I felt the gift was free. I knew Uncle Bill and Aunt Catherine had chosen freely to bring a gift. I knew they weren't doing so to compel a response from us. The gift seemed, at least to me, to provide them with joy just by their giving it.

And third, there was sacrifice. Now you might say, "Wait. How could they give for the joy of it and yet make a sacrifice?" Well, I could see the sacrifice because the cherries were home bottled. That meant Aunt Catherine had prepared them for her family. They must have liked cherries. But she took that possible pleasure from them and gave it to us. That's sacrifice. However, I have realized since then this marvelous fact: It must have seemed to Uncle Bill and Aunt Catherine that they would have more pleasure if we had the cherries than if they did. There was sacrifice, but they made it for a greater return: our happiness. Most people feel deprived as they sacrifice to give another person a gift, and then they let that person know it. But only expert givers let the receiver sense that their sacrifice brings them joy.

Well, there it is--a simple theory. When you're on the receiving end, you will discover three things in great gift givers: (1) they felt what you felt and were touched, (2) they gave freely, and (3) they counted sacrifice a bargain.

Now you can see it won't be easy to use this theory to make big strides in your gift giving this Christmas. I don't expect you'll all rush out now and buy gifts brilliantly. It will take some practice--more than one holiday--to learn how to feel and be touched by what is inside someone else. And giving freely and counting sacrifice as joy will take a while. But you could start this Christmas being a good receiver. You might notice and you might appreciate. My theory suggests that you have the power to make others great gift givers by what you notice. You could make any gift better by what you choose to see, and you could, by failing to notice, make any gift a failure.

You can guess the advice I might have given my friend--the one with the careless daughter. Would a car be a good gift? Of course it could be, but something very special must happen in the eyes of that daughter. On Christmas morning, her eyes would need to see past the car to Dad and to the family. If she saw that he had read her heart and really cared, if she saw that she'd not wheedled the car from the family nor that they had given it to extract some performance, and if she really saw the sacrifice and the joy with which it was made for her, then the gift would be more than wheels. In fact, the gift would still be carrying her long after the wheels no longer turned. (And from the dad's description of the car's age, that time could come fairly soon.) Her appreciation, if it lasts, will make a great gift of whatever awaits her on Christmas morning.

Gift giving requires a sensitive giver and receiver. I hope we will use this little theory not to criticize the gifts that come our way this year, but to see how often our hearts are understood and gifts are given joyfully, even with sacrifice.

There is something you could do this Christmas to start becoming a better gift giver yourself. In fact, as students, you have some special chances. You could begin to put some gifts--great gifts--on layaway for future Christmases. Let me tell you about them.

You could start back in your room today. Is there an unfinished paper somewhere in the stacks? (I assume there are stacks there; I think I know your room.) Perhaps it is typed and apparently ready to turn in. Why bother more with it? I learned why during a religion class I taught once at Ricks College. I was teaching from section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In that section Emma Smith is told that she should give her time to "writing and to learning much" (verse 8). About three rows back sat a blonde girl whose brow wrinkled as I urged the class to be diligent in developing writing skills. She raised her hand and said, "That doesn't seem reasonable to me. All I'll ever write are letters to my children." That brought laughter all around the class. I felt chagrined to have applied that scripture to her. Just looking at her I could imagine a full quiver of children around her, and I could even see the letters she'd write in purple ink, with handwriting slanting backwards; neat, round loops; and circles for the tops of the i's. Maybe writing powerfully wouldn't matter to her.

Then a young man stood up, near the back. He'd said little during the term; I'm not sure he'd ever spoken before. He was older than the other students, and he was shy. He asked if he could speak. He told in a quiet voice of having been a soldier in Vietnam. One day, in what he thought would be a lull, he had left his rifle and walked across his fortified compound to mail call. Just as he got a letter in his hand, he heard a bugle blowing and shouts and mortar and rifle fire coming ahead of the swarming enemy. He fought his way back to his rifle, using his hands as weapons. With the men who survived, he drove the enemy out. The wounded were evacuated. Then he sat down among the living, and some of the dead, and he opened his letter. It was from his mother. She wrote that she'd had a spiritual experience that assured her that he would live to come home if he were righteous. In my class, the boy said quietly, "That letter was scripture to me. I kept it." And he sat down.

You may have a child someday, perhaps a son. Can you see his face? Can you see him somewhere, sometime, in mortal danger? Can you feel the fear in his heart? Does it touch you? Would you like to give freely? What sacrifice will it take to write the letter your heart will want to send? You won't do it in the hour before the postman comes. Nor will it be possible in a day or even in a week. It may take years. Start the practice this afternoon. Go back to your room and write and read and rewrite that paper again and again. It won't seem like sacrifice if you picture that boy, feel his heart, and think of the letters he'll need someday.

Now, some of you may not have a paper waiting for you. It may be a textbook with a math problem hidden in it. (They hide them these days; the math is often tucked away in a special section that you can skip. And so many of you do.) Let me tell you about a Christmas in your future. You'll have a teenage son or daughter who'll say, "I hate school." After some careful listening, you'll find it is not school or even mathematics he or she hates--it's the feeling of failure.

You'll correctly discern those feelings and you'll be touched; you'll want to freely give. So you'll open the text and say, "Let's look at one of the problems together." Think of the shock you will feel when you see that the same rowboat is still going downstream in two hours and back in five hours, and the questions are still how fast the current is and how far the boat traveled. Just think what a shock it will be when you remember you've seen that problem before. Why, that rowboat has been in the water for generations! You might think, "Well, I'll make my children feel better by showing them that I can't do math either." Let me give you some advice: They will see that as a poor gift.

There is a better gift, but it will take effort now. My dad, when he was a boy, must have tackled the rowboat problem and lots of others. That was part of the equipment he needed to become a scientist who would make a difference to chemistry. But he also made a difference to me. Our family room didn't look as elegant as some. It had one kind of furniture--chairs--and one wall decoration--a green chalkboard. I came to the age your boy or girl will reach. I didn't wonder if I could work the math problems; I'd proved to my satisfaction that I couldn't. And some of my teachers were satisfied that that was true, too.

But Dad wasn't satisfied. He thought I could do it. So we took turns at that chalkboard. I can't remember the gifts my dad wrapped and helped put under a tree. But I remember the chalkboard and his quiet voice. In fact, there were some times when his voice was not quiet at all--he did shout, I'll have to admit in his presence--but he built up my mathematics, and he built up me. To do this took more than knowing what I needed and caring. It took more than being willing to give his time then, precious as it was. It took time he had spent earlier when he had the chances you have now. Because he had spent time then, he and I could have that time at the chalkboard and he could help me. And because he gave me that, I've got a boy who has let me sit down with him this year. We've rowed that same boat up and down. And his teacher wrote "much improved" on his report card. But I'll tell you what's improved most: the feelings of a fine boy about himself. Nothing I will put under the tree for Stuart this year has half the chance of becoming a family heirloom that his pride of accomplishment does.

Now I see some art (or are they music?) majors smiling. They're thinking, "He surely can't convince me there's a gift hidden in my unfinished assignments." Let me try. Last week I went to an Eagle Scout court of honor. I've been to dozens, but this one had something I won't forget. Before the Eagle badge was given, there was a slide and sound show. The lights went down, and I recognized two voices on the tape. One was a famous singer in the background, and the other, the narrator, was the father of the new Eagle Scout. The slides were of eagles soaring and of mountains and of moon landings. I don't know if the Eagle Scout had a lump in his throat quite the size of mine, but I know he'll remember the gift. His dad must have spent hours preparing slides, writing words that soared, and then somehow getting music and words coordinated for the right volume and timing. You'll have a boy someday who will be honored at such an event, with all his cousins and aunts and uncles looking on. And with your whole heart, you'll want to tell him what he is and what he can be. Whether you can give that gift then depends on whether you feel his heart now and are touched and start building the creative skills you'll need. And it will mean more than you now can dream, I promise you.

There is yet another gift some of you may want to give that takes starting early. I saw it started once when I was a bishop. A student sat across my desk from me. He talked about mistakes he had made. And he talked about how much he wanted the children he might have someday to have a dad who could use his priesthood and to whom they could be sealed forever. He said he knew that the price and pain of repentance might be great. And then he said something I will not forget: "Bishop, I am coming back. I will do whatever it takes. I am coming back." He felt sorrow. And he had faith in Christ. And still it took months of painful effort. Finally, he asked if it were enough. And he said he didn't want me to guess; he wanted to be sure.

About that time a kind priesthood leader took me aside and asked me if I had any questions. I said that I did, and I asked how I could know when a person has done what it takes to be forgiven. To my surprise, he didn't give me a lecture on repentance or on revelation. He just asked some questions. They weren't what I had expected. They were questions like these: "Does he attend all his meetings?"


"Does he come on time?"


"Does he do what he is asked?"


"Does he do it promptly?"


The questions went on that way for a few minutes. And all the answers were the same. Then he said "Do you have your answer?"

And I said, "Yes."

And so somewhere this Christmas there is a family with a righteous priesthood bearer at its head. They have eternal hopes and peace on earth. He'll probably give his family all sorts of gifts wrapped brightly, but nothing will matter quite so much as the one he started a long time ago in my office and has never stopped giving. He felt then the needs of children he'd only dreamed of, and he gave early and freely. He sacrificed his pride and sloth and numbed feelings. I am sure it doesn't seem like sacrifice now.

He could give that gift because of another one given long ago. God, the Father, gave his Son, and Jesus Christ gave us the Atonement, the greatest of all gifts and all giving. They somehow felt all the pain and sorrow of sin that would fall on all of us and everyone else who would ever live. I testify that what Paul said is true:

We have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.[Hebrews 4:14­16]

I bear you my testimony that Jesus gave the gift freely, willingly, to us all. He said, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself" (John 10:17­18). All men and women come into this life with that gift. They will live again, and if they will, they may live with him.

And I bear you testimony that as you accept that gift, given through infinite sacrifice, it brings joy to the giver. Jesus taught, "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance" (Luke 15:7).

If that warms you as it does me, you may well want to give a gift to the Savior. Others did at his birth. Knowing what we do, how much more do we want to give him something. But he seems to have everything. Well, not quite. He doesn't have you with him again forever, not yet. I hope you are touched by the feelings of his heart enough to sense how much he wants to know you are coming home to him. You can't give that gift to him in one day, or one Christmas, but you could show him today that you are on the way. You could pray. You could read a page of scripture. You could keep a commandment.

If you have already done these things, there is still something left to give. All around you are people he loves and can only help through you and me. One of the sure signs that a person has accepted the gift of the Savior's Atonement is gift giving. The process of cleansing seems to make us more sensitive, more gracious, more pleased to share what means so much to us. I suppose that's why the Savior spoke of giving in describing who would finally come home.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. [Matthew 25:34­40]

And that, I suppose, is the nicest effect of receiving great gifts. It makes us want to give, and give well. I've been blessed all my life by such gifts. I acknowledge that. I'm sure you do, too. Many of those gifts were given long ago. We're near the birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He gave his great talent, and his life, that the gospel of Jesus Christ might be restored for me and for you. Ancestors of mine from Switzerland and Germany and Yorkshire and Wales left home and familiar ways to embrace the restored gospel, as much for me as for them, perhaps more. It was ten years after the Saints came into these mountains before my great-grandfather's journal shows one reference to so much as a Christmas meal. One entry reads, in its entirety: "December 25, 1855: Fixed a shed and went to the cedars. Four sheep died last night. Froze." I acknowledge such gifts, which I only hope I am capable of sending along to people I have not yet seen.

And so shall we do what we can to appreciate and to give a merry Christmas?

"Freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8). I pray that we will freely give. I pray that we will be touched by the feelings of others, that we will give without feelings of compulsion or expectation of gain, and that we will know that sacrifice is made sweet to us when we treasure the joy it brings to another heart. For this I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm having separation issues...

So anyway today was absolutely fantastic and I have some of the best friends in the world. I got to go to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and David Archuleta and see the Prophet and be with some of my favorite people ever then I went straight to church and was with more of the favorite peoples, and then I got to go listen to Bro. Hunter give a fireside. That was epic, which is why I 'm coming back to it. Then got to finish the night off with dessert night and games with more favorite people which may or may not happen to be the favorite people that  happen to go to church with.
Anyway, world in four syllables fantabulous.
Back to Brother Hunter, on w of my favorite teachers. He gave a fireside and I was blown away as something came into focus from my life from in way that is impossible to describe. He showed us a video where Sister Victoria Pearce said, "We are lonely because we are separated from God." I was blown away. I always thought that the reason I experience loneliness or heart ache was because life was supposed to be that way sometimes. I am not convinced that it is. We are simply experiencing spiritual home sickness. Longing for a place that we know and a life that we love. A Father and Mother who loved us beyond our currently available comprehension. 
I will forever be grateful to a Savior who through the Atonement at last said, "Father, why hast thou forsaken me." I don't think that many times in life I felt forsaken, just lonely. Forsaken seemed a bit extreme. But I know that he knows how loneliness feels and I suddenly don't feel so lonely anymore. 
I am grateful for friends who act as the emissaries of the Savior and heal my loneliness with their warm hearts and outstretched hands and most of all their smiles. Smiles have a powerful effect on the human mind. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ironic, no?

I used think I understood Irony a lot better than I do now. I will never laugh at something ironic again. 

"If we had all the data which is available to God, we could see that what looks like irony is simply the smooth flow of events and decisions that are part of a much larger Plan." -Elder Maxwell

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Gift of a Savior

I was browsing and saw this scroll by, "The Gift of a Savior." 
I am so glad to know that even though life is hard that we have things that bring us joy. Stupid things really, when I sat back and looked at my life today. Work was hard because there was a lot of sitting and waiting today, and when I can't keep actively engaged I start to go crazy more so my mind that anything else. It is my curse among other things that I inherited from my father, he is always thinking. I digress, so I started playing some of the "training clips" which mostly involve stupid things or simple silly things. I really liked the Yoda doing the voice for TOM TOM and watched it several times laughing. It was so interesting the ideas that he translates. It had me thinking about perspective and how we see the world around us. Are we so set upon what we are used to seeing that if it is different we get irritated? 
Another video I watched was an experiment to see what people really see in the world around them and pay attention to. They have a counter and a man gives the person who comes in a form to fill out. They fill out the form and he takes the form and puts it under the counter and a different man in a different colored shirt with different colored hair gives them a packet to take. 75% of the people tested did not realize that the person was a completely different person. 
So now you ask what do these videos have to do with the gift of a Savior? Nothing really, if not to draw an abstract parallel. 
The little things in life are what give it meaning. I define the entire time I spent waiting for someone to call by two simple videos. I define a day by one call, or one person whose life is now better because they ran across me today, a week by spending a day with someone special. Our lives are made up of defining moments, events that lead to a process.  So it is with the gospel. We are a sum of our experiences. Many small experiences add up quickly. The Gift of a Savior was something that was esteemed as not. It was something so small that was unaccompanied with fanfare and commotion that it passed by the watchful eye of many. It will be the same for us until we can come to take time and enjoy the small things in our lives. The things that really make life worth living. If I can find meaning in the small things in the world around me it helps me to find God in the small ways that he cares for me daily.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Where sky and water meet

I have always loved the books that C.S. Lewis writes, because of his great understanding of the gospel. With the release of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader book I decided to re-read the book and this is one of my favorite ideas in it, though not entirely accurate, in many ways it has a lot to do with the way that we view God

 “Oh, Aslan,” said she, “it was kind of you to come.”

“I have been here all the time,” said he, “but you have just made me visible.”

“Aslan!” said Lucy almost a little reproachfully. “Don’t make fun of me. As if anything I could do would make you visible!”

"It did,” said Aslan. “Do you think I wouldn’t obey my own rules?"

I am not saying that we can do things that will make God visible of invisible, but I have met those who, partially because of the life they lead cannot see the hand of God. They cannot see His works yet He is ever there. We see Him as if to say thank you for coming, and he responds I have been here all the time, you just now took the time to see me. How it must pain Him to come to us and to encircle us in the arms of His everlasting love and we will not so much as even look. Then when times become desperate we ask where is the pavilion that covers thy hiding place. We seek to ask a question that Joseph only asked after spending months in prison and having been ever close to the Lord and we are ever straying from His paths. He has rules and He has promised that if we draw near unto Him that He will draw near unto us. That means that the reverse must be true. 
This Christmas may we reach out and in return be touched by the true Spirit of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where did it go?

Sweating the small stuff or as Elder Maxwell said, "Getting lost in the thick of thin things." What are the thin things, Christmas is a good time to ask that question. I was in the process of planning a get together and it was said of it something to the effect that it won't be anything fancy, to which I replied good I like it like that. It will be a group of friends getting together to share in the spirit of friendship or the spirit of Christ. I contrasted that with the wedding reception which I attended earlier. It had been going on all evening and being good friends of both the bride and the groom wished to come late stay late and get to talk with them. The cursed line was still there and it was really ironic. The parents were quite candid and expressed the feeling that they no longer had any feeling in their legs and were ready to be done. The bride was starving and the groom looked tired out of his mind and I thought, "what a fantastic way to celebrate living the rest of your lives together. 
Now before I get a bunch of hate mail and other such things I grant that there are some unfair conclusions that can be drawn from this and I only use this example as a contrast of irony having had both experiences in the dame day and I know them both and they are very happy together. But the point is that something simple is almost more enjoyable than a huge extravaganza bonanza. Do we look beyond the mark and hit it? I know that all too often I do. I look forward to things that will be and not the moment that is. I find that it is too easy to forget to love, to share, to be kind, to reach out and the problem with that is that it is Christmas for crying out loud. What is it all about?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Can We See the Christ?

Second Counselor in the First Presidency
One night a grandfather was reading a story to his four-year-old granddaughter when she looked up and said, “Grandpa, look at the stars!” The older man smiled kindly and said, “We’re indoors, honey. There are no stars here.” But the child insisted, “You have stars in your room! Look!”
The grandfather looked up and, to his surprise, noticed that the ceiling was peppered with a metallic glitter. It was invisible most of the time, but when the light struck the glitter a certain way, it did indeed look like a field of stars. It took the eyes of a child to see them, but there they were. And from that moment on, when the grandfather walked into this room and looked up, he could see what he had not been able to see before.
There are so many things that we have to be grateful for. I hope with President Uchtdorf that we take time to see those things that have been there all along and yet escaped our view. Taking time to realize that we have all and more than we are currently looking for will greatly reduce the amount of looking for that which we are looking for. There are things and people that we have had and yet have not been able to see before. Things that make no logical sense, but yet when we too look, we see them. May we pray for eyes to see that which is already ours, especially at this time of Christmas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Finals the scapegoat of the graduated and non

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
C. S. Lewis

I found out how much I miss all of my friends today. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Our Stake President talked about peace today and the difference between peace of conscience, peace of mind and the peace of God. He talked about how peace of conscience is a spiritual peace knowing that we are repenting and constantly trying. It is what urges us to be better and to continue repenting. Peace of mind comes from having our temporal needs met and is interconnected with peace of conscience. 
The peace of God come when these two forces work in harmony in our lives and our will becomes intertwined with God's it is the kind of peace that allow the righteous to suffer and recognize the hand of God. It is the peace that the comforter can bring and allow us to be truly near unto God. 
This is the season of good tidings and peace on earth.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
C. S. Lewis

I know that I've already posted this quote but it fit so I'm re-posting this quote

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Again? No still...

I am still on a C.S. Lewis quote kick so...again or still whatever you think

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
C. S. Lewis

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Great Man

Tonight I was reminded why I love C.S. Lewis. I went and saw the Voyage of the Dawn Treader and it was great. 

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
C. S. Lewis

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Move! I'm in my way!

Wait a minute? I'm in my way. 

But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
Again had breakfast with a great friend and she said that struck me as deeply profound. I was in my own way. I've thought about this all day, and I find that this is very applicable to me more at some times throughout my life than others, but I still ahven't learned how to completely get out of my own way. I wonder why life is hard and why things aren't "going right" and I find that more often than not if I can take a good hard look back on life that I was/am in my own way. I stop myself from reaching what I need to be grabbing at. I either back out too early or get scared or get tired or lose interest, but I am what happens to my life plans. If I had a better attitude about certian things then it wouldn't be a set back and I wouldn't plant down in the mud trying to "fix" what went wrong. I pray to be guided by God and then when life doesn't "go right" I tend to fall apart. Nothing went wrong per say, I just needed a change of scenary. I needed new friends, I needed something when I was looking for something different. Instead of trying to always "fix" what goes wrong I need to learn to get out of my way and go with the flow. The more that I do that the more that I feel that God truly leads my life. Thanks, Katie

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Today was a good day

I was just reminded how amazing each day is and how much you are missed for one day. If you have ever thought that you can check out spiritually for one day and take a break I beg to differ. Some of you may be aware of the release of Catacylsm and some may not know what that is. Well with it's release yesterday there were lots of people not at work today They were sorely missed. If you think that someone will just pick up your slack, you are right. The major problem comes from two ideas that I've seen; the other person is not you, and you are not the other person. 
First, the other person is not you. They will pick up the slack and cover for you it is true. The work of God goes on, however, they are not you. You have unique things that you bring to the table and that only you can offer. Will it still get done, yes, but will it be the same no. Chris at work is a lot better at most things, and not having him to call and talk to about certain issues was miserable today. 
Secondly, you are not the other person. You miss out on the opportunity to grow and learn and experience life in new ways. You will never get to have what you gave to the other person. You will not lose anything that is vital, but you may lose something that you will miss very much.
I'm not saying you can never take a vacation from work, but you can never take a vacation from the gospel. It can deprive you of the blessings that you have been seeking, whether a mission, or temple marriage, or the feelings of joy and peace that come from service in the Church. 
Even though work was harder today, it was a good day. I am glad that I was there to experience it. Life will be harder when others leave us to pick up the slack, but it will be a good day if we are where we need to be doing what we need to do.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Don;t get mad, get glad

I have never really understood why people get mad, or upset (including me, it has just never made much sense at all). I wish I knew sometimes, though I find that the more I find out about life the less that actually gets me upset. I usually feel bad for another person who has yet to come to realize the peace by not being offended. I have met people who just refuse to forgive and forget, but I am talking about general unhappiness in the world. I am talking about the things that allow me to spend a lot of time around someone and never see them smile. It just isn't healthy and most of the time it is ourselves that we are most aghast with. 
Have you ever prayed to have the Lord change someone else? I have, often. Change this persons heart so that they will be nice, change this person so that they will not be stupid, you get the general idea. What about us though? I find that when I pray like that the reason I feel that way is that I don't like who I am around that person. I need the Lord to change me so that I am not that way around that person. 
It really comes down to responsibility for ourselves. We identify what someone else needs to fix and are often wrong about what they need to fix because I find that people are more often than not reflections of us. That is why God can truly love everyone, He sees himself in them. If we were just happy with ourselves then it would not be a constant session of what they do wrong. It would be an opportunity to evaluate what we do not like about ourselves. 
It is peculiar who we can pray for God to show us our weakness and then have an opportunity to get to know someone and see "their" flaws, and pass away from that experience not having a greater sense of ourselves. 
If you feel that someone is always fake, then chances are that you are often fake. If you feel that someone is prideful then chances are that you are prideful.
The old adage it takes on to know one is usually very true. If we did not have those fatal vices then it would simply not bother us. Our presence would begin to lift the other person and we would take the opportunity to return the favor of being a mirror in which they can evaluate what they are doing wrong. 
The more that we become like Him the more that we will be happy and tend to look upon others with the infinite compassion that He does. Then we will be truly happy, that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

Monday, December 6, 2010

How the Grinch Stole Chirstmas

So my brother has been talking a lot about President Uchtdorf's talk from the Christmas devotional about the Grinch, okay so it wasn't about the Grinch, but he related part of the story to the Grinch. How do you steal Christmas anyhow?
Christmas is really a feeling, how often do normal people just give presents to people? I find that gifts are one of the ways that we have of expressing a feeling that is hard to put into words. We want to give someone something else because we truly feel that we were given something, 2010 years that would forever change our lives. How much more then we can look kindly on giving a smile, words of encouragement, a compliment, flowers, a hug, some of our time and some of our money, but mostly ourselves. I am who I am, in part, because of the lives that have touched mine. 
I will forever remember sitting in a chair rather upset to have to be at the Institute having driven my sister over, the stress for registering for classes fresh in my mind when Rachel Draper came up to me. I could tell that she didn't want to talk to me, and I was trying to look as uninterested and apathetic as I could. She came over and asked if I was enrolled in an Institute class and I lied, I said yup. She asked if that was my sister over there and I said yup. She asked if I had joined a committee and I knew I was hooped. She was just outgoing enough that if I said yes she would ask which one and I would pick hers, so I didn't want to get stuck so I said nope. She asked what my interests were and I told her taking pictures and photoshop, and computers. She said that the perfect committee for me would be the iTV committee. I looked at the list and I was like score. I knew that there was no way they could ever call all of these people. I signed up and left with my sister. Three days later I got a call from some weird number and let it roll through. It was Colby Manscill. He left a goofy voice mail and invited me tot he committee meeting. I said, fine so he has a lot of time at the beginning of the semester to call a bunch of people, I'll go and just disappear into the crowd and they'll forget about me. I showed up to the first meeting and there were the six of us, plus Brother Smith. I made some great friends and really became active with the Institute. 
My life is forever changed because one girl was brave for five minutes. Because one guy gave me a call and was goofy. Because a lot of people were where they were supposed to be doing what they were supposed to be doing. My life will never be the same. 
There may be some that try to steal Christmas. It is a feeling, but more importantly it is a feeling that makes us want to do something, there is a word for that, oh yeah, faith. It moves us to action. The spirit of Christmas is His spirit. It is the spirit that moves us to be saviors on mount Zion. It moves us to do for others what they cannot do for themselves, even if it is to make them happy. May we not be accused of stealing Christmas. But spreading it. Rejoicing in the song the angles sang of glad tidings of great joy. May we look forward to His glorious return and point others to Him through our celebration of the Christmas Spirit all year long. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Do you see what I see?

The Lord said, "Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand. It can definitely seem hard in the moment, but if we don't seem to understand something that is happening in our life that is usually a good indication that we need to find out what the Lord would have us do, because this is a growing time, a time in which God is designing our life. We have two choices at this point; we can either accept God's design, inquire what it is and find out what we can do to help and ease the pain of growing by pushing along where we can or we can sit in the mud and get muddy. As surely as the Lord God lives the glory will come only after the tribluation. Some have paid that price well beforehand, some have been paying that price a little bit every day of their lives, and some of us pay that price all at once with one event. The ways in which we have our tribulation allotted are the way in which the Lord sees that we can handle it best. If he had some of us that had to wade through affliction everyday, we might just give up, and those who wade through a little every day may crumble if it were dumped on them at once. At times it can seem overwhelming for anyone, but when that happened to the Savior what did He do? And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. He recognized that God had the power to change things, He told Heavenly Father how He wanted Him to change things, and He finally let Heavenly Father know that if there was no other way that He would still pass through the suffering. There is no anger, no malice, no accusation, no doubt. There is a firm decree of the omnipotence and omniscience of God, and a willingness to do whatever is required. Once we fully develop that we will no longer suffer needlessly, but we will be granted the lager picture of why those we love must suffer or even sometimes be taken from us. We will see the mercy of God, and shortly thereafter the Glory.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fast Learning

Fast Sunday starts soon and it is a grand time of the month. The fast is an incredible opportunity to have prayers answered and grow stronger spiritually. The way I view prayer is more like a phone. If you have service bars you can make a call. Even if you have one bar the call still goes through, but if you have five then you have a super good connection. The bars of service is like the strength of the Spirit in our lives
The point of prayer is to align our will with God's or in other words, find out what God wants us to be doing in life. Fasting gives us the ability to focus on what the Spirit is saying, we still have to make the call and ask the questions and wait for the response but the stronger that we feel the Spirit the more likely we are to get a clear answer that will help us write the coarse for our path in life. I hope that you have a happy fast day. Isaiah 58 is a good chapter to read if you are not. Have a happy day!

Friday, December 3, 2010


So yesterday I mentioned the difference between Gold and Silver Medal usually being so absolutely tiny that it is almost immeasurable. I remembered reading in a conference report about this and was wondering what it was used for in the talk that was given. Here are some excerpts from it and I hope that you find it enjoyable and enlightening.
Pursuing Excellence


But how did they do it? What makes a great athlete? I remember a great Olympic champion who once addressed this question. He named some important factors such as great coaching, good equipment, good athletes to train with, or just pure natural talent. All of these ingredients can go into the recipe for a great athlete, and each will help in its own way. But there is one quality that rises above all, and without it, the athlete is not complete. That ingredient is desire.

The athlete with the greatest desire to succeed will stand a greater chance of reaching his or her goal. The same holds true for the student or the musician or whatever it is that you young men aspire to be. A five-year study of many of the United States’ top athletes, musicians, and scholars has recently concluded that “drive and determination, not great natural talent, led to their extraordinary success.” (Los Angeles Times, 17 Feb. 1985.)

In determined athletes, we can see the difference between knowing and doing. Those who really desire to reach their goals will do whatever they must do in order to achieve them.

My coach taught me a great lesson in my early development as a gymnast. I was leaving for my first national team training camp. Before I traveled to the camp, my coach told me only one thing. He didn’t tell me to learn any new maneuvers at the camp. He didn’t tell me to try to perform my routines better than the rest of the team. He told me that when I returned from that training camp that he wanted to hear me tell him, with all honesty, that I had worked harder than anyone else on the national team.

So I remember making it a point to be the last one out of the gym every day; and that didn’t mean just waiting at the door for everyone else to leave! Also, I remember that at night, when some team members would occasionally relax with their pizza and beer, I would go back to my room and do more exercises.

When I returned home two weeks later, I was proud to tell my coach, “Yes, I worked harder than everyone else.” I didn’t work twice as hard, just a little bit harder. But it was enough to help me to improve greatly. Sometimes, just a little bit is all that matters.

Let’s realize what the margin of victory was in a few of the events in last summer’s Olympics. In women’s cycling, after the 79.2-kilometer race, the difference between the gold medalist and the silver medalist at the finish line was just the length of a tire. In a pressure-packed swimming relay, the difference between the first-place team and second-place team was only .04 of a second. In many of the gymnastics competitions, the difference between first place and second place was as minute as .025 of a point.

The champions didn’t win by running twice as fast, by jumping twice as far, or by scoring twice as many points as their opponents. In many cases they won by just a fraction of a second, a fraction of an inch, or a fraction of a point. Likewise, and more important, the champions didn’t win by training twice as hard as their opponents. If another gymnast trains six hours a day, I can’t train twelve hours a day. Twelve hours a day in a gym just isn’t healthy! But I can train six hours and fifteen minutes a day. This is where giving it that little extra and going the extra mile makes the difference.