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Doctrines & Scholarship / My fum hurts, Daddy.
« on: March 29, 2021, 09:54:07 pm »
Last week, Sarah-Grace had lunch with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma clipped Sarah-Graces fingernails. At one point, Sarah-Grace moved unexpectedly, and Grandma clipped a tiny bit of skin on the end of Sarah-Grace's thumb. When I got home after work, Sarah-Grace approached me with her thumb sticking up. It had a purple Band-Aid on it. She said, "My fum hurts, Daddy." I asked her to tell me about in and then kissed it better. She went off to play.

About 15 minutes later, Sarah-Grace came back and showed me her thumb. "My fum hurts, Daddy," she said. I sat down with her and we read a story to get her mind on something else. After the story, she went off to play again.

A few minutes later, Sarah-Grace came back and showed me her thumb. "My fum hurts, Daddy," she said again. This time, I heard her voice start to shake. I asked, "Do you want a different Band-Aid?" She shook her head and big tears appeared in her eyes. I realized that she expected me to make it better. I held her and let her cry for several minutes. She fell asleep and I gently covered her with a blanket.

When we experience anguish, whether as the consequences of our own choices, or because of the actions of another person, or because of the path we have chosen, and we go to our Father seeking relief, his capacity to heal us is infinite--far beyond what I could do for my four-year-old daughter.

In Alma 36, we learn of Alma's anguish and of our Father's response: 17) And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. 18) Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. 19) And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

When we cry out in anguish over the things we have done, our Father hears us. He can heal us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ so that we remember our pains no more.

In Liberty Jail, Joseph Smith cried out in anguish over the plight of the saints. Our Father answered in section 122 of the Doctrine and Covenants: 5) If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; ... 6) If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; ... and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb; 7) And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; ... and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. 8 ) The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

I have to admit that I find that answer to be of little comfort. It's seems especially undeserved for someone as faithful as Joseph. That could well be the conclusion if we stop there. Verse 9) Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.

Our Father knew that Joseph's mission was not complete. Joseph still had much work to do in building the Lord's Kingdom. Our Father communicated to Joseph that He had heard Joseph's cries in every detail. He gave Joseph perspective. And then He promised Joseph that evil would not triumph.

When we cry out in anguish over the things others have done, our Father hears us. He can strengthen us by giving us perspective and promise: "Fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever."

In Gethsemane, as the weight of the atonement began to descend on our Savior, he cried out, "... Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42) Our Father responded. 43) And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

Our father knew that His Son, our Savior, would purchase our freedom and our redemption with His life. Our Father knew that His Son, our Savior, would not shrink from that choice--that He would finish the work he was sent to do. And so, during those hardest first steps of the atonement in Gethsemane, our Father sent an angel.

When we cry out in anguish because the path of obedience we have chosen seems completely overwhelming, our Father hears us. He can send angels to strengthen us.

"My fum hurts, Daddy." I could kiss it better. I could put some Neosporin and a new Band-Aid on it. I couldn't immediately heal it. I could tell her about the pain of broken bones and surgeries and how I recovered in time. I could tell her about the pain of losing a loved one or of being betrayed by someone I trusted. I could offer her that perspective and promise her that she won't even feel it in two more days. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be helpful for a four-year-old. I did the only thing I really could do to help. For a while, I was her angel. I gave her strength and comfort so she could make it through the hardest part at first.

"I've seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people leading ordinary lives..." - Tracy Chapman

Be an angel. Our Father will lead us to a sister or a brother who desperately needs an angel. We just have to ask for directions.

General Discussion / Stuff that rocks!
« on: March 14, 2021, 11:25:09 pm »
Tonight, I found out how to use Spotify for my morning alarm on my phone. WooHoo! No more name-of-the-elements annoying alarms for me. Tomorrow, I wake up to the funky sounds of Vulfpeck!


News of the Church / Women as Area Organization Advisers
« on: March 14, 2021, 10:45:29 am »
Women will now serve in an official advisory role at the international area level.

"Area organisation advisers will give instruction to Church leaders and provide women’s perspectives at all levels of councils. They will also represent the Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society organisations in their service."

"The position of area organisation adviser expands leadership roles for women in the area and builds upon the practice of women and men serving alongside each other in unity on councils and committees on the other levels."


Politics / Impeachment
« on: February 12, 2021, 04:57:52 pm »
I've been listening when I have time in my schedule. Right now, the senators are asking questions at the end of the proceedings.

My question:

On January 6th, President Trump said, "We love you, you’re very special."

Today, Trump's legal defense called the same people criminals who should be punished to the maximum extent possible.

So...which is it?

Crafts / Card Making
« on: January 05, 2021, 10:29:58 pm »
My wife, Michelle, makes greeting cards. We received a Christmas card from the Netherlands (thanks Jana!) As soon as Michelle saw the card she said, "Oooh. That's really good. Do you know how long it takes to cut out all those little pieces and position them?" Sam was reading over my shoulder and said, "I miss Oma!" So, You have a card making colleague from across the pond, Jana!

General Discussion / Merry Christmas!
« on: December 24, 2020, 11:13:27 pm »
May you receive an increased measure of joy and peace from the Baby in a manger, the Teacher on a hillside, the Son in a garden, the Savior on a cross.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO7ySn-Swwc Another version of my favorite Christmas song.

Politics / The Insurrection Act? Really?
« on: December 19, 2020, 04:01:09 pm »
Man, I really hope this doesn't gain any more traction. Let's just make it one more month without all hell breaking loose.

And now, with the Electoral College confirming Biden’s win, recounts failing to change the results and courts at every level swatting down lawsuits challenging the outcome, some MAGA figures have latched on to the specific Insurrection Act clause granting the president authority to use the military to quash a “rebellion against the authority of the United States.” In their strained interpretation, the clause gives Trump the power to go after the Democrats and deep state actors conspiring to remove him from office. It’s a reading of the law experts immediately rejected.

It seems nearly impossible Trump would actually invoke the law in this manner. But that hasn’t stopped prominent Trump supporters like Wood, one of the lawyers pushing unsubstantiated lawsuits through the courts, from suggesting Trump send the military into Georgia to break up a meeting of electors.

And over the weekend, after the Supreme Court rejected a Trump-boosted lawsuit from Texas asking to overturn the election results in four other swing states, MAGA supporters took to the streets to demand, among other things, that Trump use the Insurrection Act to force an election do-over, or at the very least, stop Biden from taking office.


Moroni 1: Moroni records how he wanders alone, avoiding capture by the Lamanites. He knows they will put him to death because he won't deny Christ.
Moroni 2: Moroni teaches about the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Moroni 3: Moroni teaches about the Priesthood.
Moroni 4 & 5: Moroni teaches about the Sacrament.
Moroni 6: Moroni teaches about baptism and fellowship.

It struck me how profoundly alone Moroni must have felt. In the time he had left, he taught about being together.
- The Holy Ghost is a constant companion.
- The Priesthood binds us together and seals us in the family of God.
- The Sacrament gives us a frequent reminder that we are together in the Church of Jesus Christ.
- Baptism is our formal adoption into God's church and family.

Doctrines & Scholarship / What the Bible teaches about conspiracy theories
« on: November 24, 2020, 12:01:48 am »
There's a good podcast series called "Quick to Listen." Some of the episodes--you have to take with a grain of salt. Many are really good. A recent really good one is about conspiracy theories. You can read the transcript at Christianity Today. The guest is Rev. Dru Johnson, the director of the Center for Hebraic Thought.


There's a kind of a soft Gnosticism that goes on with conspiracy theories, where we just want to know because we think knowledge is power in and of itself. But scripture would say doing what God has commanded is actually the power part.

In Scripture, as in science and everywhere else, it values that “knowing” is fully actuated through embodied actions. So if you think about learning math or learning how to read x-rays or any kind of technical skill, it's always embodied. It always involves time, history, coaching, an authority who can help you understand what's going on, etc.

What does Gnosticism do? It says, “You're going to get access to this secret knowledge and that's going to open up salvation, rescue, or another world for you.” For me, the message from scripture from beginning to end is that the world around you is real and has the right to teach you and you submit to it.

Music / Indie Bands
« on: November 06, 2020, 09:15:10 pm »
On the drive home from work, I was listening to election coverage on NPR. Then I realized, "I'm done with this for today. Time for something else." So I hit the search button on the radio, and the next station was KRCL out of Salt Lake. The DJ was playing music from Indie Bands, and I heard a song I really really liked. I tried to remember lyrics so that I could look them up when I got home. Found them! The band is Okkervil River and the song is "Unless It's Kicks." It's been around for about ten years, it seems. I really like the singer's voice, and the lyrics are filled with imagery and they're clever without seeming overwrought. Anyway, here's a link. I'll be listening to some more from the band.


Politics / I voted!
« on: November 03, 2020, 02:15:10 pm »
I did my best this time to really learn about all the candidates on the ballot. I voted for candidates which most closely represent my position on policies I care about, and who are ethical public servants. I ended up mostly voting for Republicans at the local and state level. I'm in Utah, and there were a number of unopposed Republican candidates. I voted for a candidate from the Constitution party, and one from the Libertarian party. They really have no chance of winning. They still best represent my positions. I voted for the sole Democrat in Utah's congressional delegation. And, while it was super tempting to vote for Kanye West for POTUS  ;) , I voted for Biden. I just can't imagine how far our country will sink if we have another four years with the current administration.

Cooking, Food, and Food Storage / What are your favorite kitchen things?
« on: October 31, 2020, 08:51:46 pm »
A month ago, I got a heavy carbon steel frying pan. I absolutely love cooking with that pan! Sure, it requires a bit more maintenance. I only wash it by hand, and then only with water and a brush. I coat it with a thin film of canola oil after each washing. It has transformed so many different foods! Meat, chicken, and fish now have a delicious crust on the outside. Vegetables have blackened edges. And, I can cook with high heat. I've been slowly getting rid of all my non-stick cookware over the last few months. I have a few stainless steel pots, now. I have a porcelain coated cast iron dutch oven. I have a cast iron deep skillet with a cover. And now, I have a carbon steel frying pan. Cooking for my family has become so much more joyful!

What are your favorite things in your kitchen?

General Discussion / White Privilege
« on: October 29, 2020, 11:05:31 am »
I have treated the phrase "White privilege", and the ideas around it, with skepticism since I learned about it last year. I've watched the PragerU video which attempted to explain it away. I've listened to friends and extended family members who say it's part of a movement to force everything from slavery reparation payments to hiring quotas, and that it's aim is to make white people feel guilty about their skin color, which they can't change.

My own life experience shows me that I have benefitted from white privilege, but not in the way I first understood.

I grew up in rural poverty. My dad didn't graduate from high school. He was a barber sometimes, a truck driver sometimes, and unemployed sometimes, until he got a steady union job when I was in middle school. My mom had a one-year certificate in office management from Ricks College. She worked as a part-time receptionist at the school district office. After I turned 12, I started working Saturdays and summers on our neighbor's dairy. I made $1 / hour mucking out calf stalls. When I turned 16, I was able to work in the milking barn and earn minimum wage.

I earned a 1-year scholarship to college. When that ran out, I joined the military to pay for the rest of college. I was enlisted for 5 years, and then I became an officer. While I was working full time, I completed the courses I needed to become a teacher when I got out of the military. After another nine years, I went back to school again while working full time and earned a Masters degree so I could become an administrator, which is where I am now.

With the exception of two years of missionary service (which I saved for), I have always had a job. When I learned about "White privilege," my first response was, "Well, that's not me. I certainly didn't have any special privileges. I worked hard to get to where I am."

I understand now that is the privilege. People around me gave me opportunities because to them, I represented American grit--the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mythos which is so powerful in our culture. I was the kid who grew up in poverty and became successful because of determination and hard work. Here's the thing: Nobody ever expected anything different from me. They encouraged me and gave me opportunities to succeed.

Raymond, one of my friends in middle school, didn't have the opportunity to work at the dairy. His dad did. My boss at the dairy hired undocumented Hispanic migrant workers because he could pay them below minimum wage. Ray's dad was one of those workers. When the "Mexicans" weren't around, the boss and the white workers talked about how all those Spics would bring up their wives and pump out kids as fast as possible so they could stay in America and get on welfare. Ray was one of those kids. My boss hated Mexican kids. He wouldn't even let them on the property. I was given the opportunity to work because I'm white.

When I was in the military, I received a lot of encouragement when I decided to switch from enlisted to officer. In every new leadership position, there was recognition of how hard I had worked to get there. There was always underlying talk, in hundreds of places and situations, about how black people in similar leadership positions were there because the military had to "fill a quota." I received encouragement to advance. My colleagues who were not white received resentment.

When I became a teacher, I had an outstanding mentor who became my closest friend. He had grown up in an upper-middle class home. His first car (a Mustang) was a gift from his parents while he was in high school. College was paid for. He's tall, thin, educated, and well spoken. He also has brown skin. Whenever he goes into an upscale department store, a security guard or other employee will follow him around (at a discrete distance, of course.) That has never happened to me, and I usually wear old jeans, a tee shirt, and a ball cap. I probably fit the profile of a potential shoplifter much better than my friend does. I don't arouse suspicion because I'm white.

Acknowledging this, that white privilege has played out in my life in the form of opportunities and encouragement, doesn't change my history. It doesn't lessen the fact that I have worked hard for 40 years to get to where I am. It helps me to be grateful for what I have been given. It helps me to understand that others, friends and colleagues in many instances, didn't receive opportunities and encouragement. They received suspicion, resentment, and even hate, because their skin isn't white like mine.

3 Nephi 27:10 - 12

"And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it. But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return. For their works do follow them, for it is because of their works that they are hewn down; therefore remember the things that I have told you."

I highlighted "works" because it jumped out at me this morning how important works are in the church. The scriptural passage and the associated study guide are focused on the name of the church, and why it is called by Christ's name. So, this isn't a discussion of faith vs. works in our individual salvation. It is a discussion about the purpose of the church.

... Gotta head to work. More to come...

Politics / Which Republicans do you support?
« on: October 17, 2020, 04:00:39 pm »
On a different thread, Sparky made the observation that the majority of posts were against Donald Trump. So, I thought we could "bring balance to the Force" with a discussion about Republican officials we support.

I'll start:

I support Senator Mitt Romney. I voted for him in the 2012 Presidential election. I voted him for him to represent Utah in the Senate. Out of all elected representatives at the national level, Romney most closely aligns with my own values as a citizen.

I approve of Amy Coney Barrett for Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. Unless the direction changes in the next few weeks, we will likely have a liberal majority in the House of Representatives, maybe a liberal majority in the Senate, and probably a Biden White House. I'm grateful for a conservative balancing force in the separation of powers. Like Romney, Barrett's values around family and faith issues most closely align with my own.

On the state and local level, there's not much to say. I received my ballot by mail yesterday. Many positions have unopposed Republicans running. In the Governor's race, I'm supporting Spencer Cox (Republican.) His Democratic opponent, Chris Peterson, has some good ideas about education. Spencer Cox has actual plans to improve public education. And, Cox's commitment to supporting families and to preserving religious freedom are crystal clear.

Locally, I support our very Republican mayor. He's probably the busiest person in Santaquin. He has a fulltime job. He serves as Mayor on Fridays for the paltry sum of $6K per year. He's a Stake President. He has a family. And, with all of that, he worked shoulder-to-shoulder with me volunteering to dig post holes at the Girls Camp. 

So, with the whole picture in the frame, I support Republicans the vast majority of the time. It's interesting that because I won't be voting for Donald Trump, I'm suddenly a baby-killing Socialist who wants to take away free speech and destroy America.  ::)

Setting aside Donald Trump, which Republicans do you support and why?

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