November 7, 2016

What Voting My Conscience Got Me That Voting Third Party Couldn't

What did voting my conscience get me that voting third party couldn't?

Here are some of the things that I learned:

First, I learned that you can not turn your conscience on and off without consequences. I already knew this, but I see it much more clearly as our nation has set aside her conscience each election cycle for years choosing rather to vote out of fear or anger. Some have called it voting for the lesser of two evils, but I see clearly now that it didn't really matter which side you chose both parties have been moving in the same direction.

I have learned that every election is either voting for your conscience or against your conscience, period. There are other options than that of the two party system. The two party system is a made up system that has been perpetuated by the big two parties to the masses either scared or angry. It is much easier to control a people that way, and in fear and anger men will seek to give more and more power to their leaders, and they will be willing to buy that power with their freedom, until they finally end up with a tyrant who will save them from the monster. 

I have learned that there is a difference between the #neveracandidate voters, the third party voters, and those who are truly voting their conscience. As #neveracandidate voters are those who are clearly voting against someone and they will find anyone who they think will possibly beat their unchosen candidate. The third party voters are those who have vested themselves in a party outside of the big two, and are voting for their investment. Those who vote their conscience don't want to be controlled by the voices of fear, anger, and the anxiety that comes from the rhetoric of the candidates and their supporters. They simply want to feel at peace with their vote, come win or lose, they can live with the consequences, because they used their head and followed their intuition, or the voice of their God.

I have also learned a lot about the wisdom that our founding fathers had in setting up the foundation of our country in the Constitution. I have especially been fascinated by the Electoral College. Some have said they don't like it at all and would like to get rid of it, but this one principle alone has the potential of saving us, quite frankly from our own emotional decisions. The electoral college does not protect us from a landslide victory of any candidate. However, it makes it possible for us to stop two bad candidates, because it is not about who gets the most individual votes. They have to get a majority of the Electoral votes, which makes it much easier for the people to vote according their conscience if a voice appears to represent them better than the ones the two main parties have given them. This may not bode well with the parties, because it makes it harder for them to control the people, but it was not set up to empower the parties. Most of the rules surrounding the electing of the Electoral college have been set up to favor or encourage a two party system, but it was not created by the Constitution. Each state has set up its own system, most states have adopted and winner takes all, but some have not. Some states can divide their vote. This Electoral College is what keeps us from becoming a democracy despite the desires of the two parties.

The two party system has effectively turned us into a democracy rather than a democratic republic. When we only have two choices then we pick sides and the majority rules. Unfortunately our side might not represent us on the majority of issues, but the other side scares us because of they go against our core principles. So, we will have to ignore a lot of our own core beliefs and either adopt the parties core beliefs or be dissatisfied with our representation. Over time dissatisfaction leads to anxiety, but when we try to jump ship we keep looking at the other side, and it scares us so we stay on board. This leads to anger at our own party for not representing our values and principles and fear of the other party, because they are somehow are worse. Which brings us to where we are today. Today we have people voting out of anger for their own party and against the other party. They don't even like the one they are voting for, but anger and fear motivate their vote and when it comes right down to it in a democracy the party does not care who votes for them only that they do for them.

I have learned that party loyalty, in some cases, is stronger than religious convictions. The first casualty of elections is principles. When our fears become bigger than our principles then we will justify our principles and vote our fears when only two choices are available. This is again the danger of a democracy or a two party system.

I have learned that my voice means something whether my candidate wins or loses. My vote is a witness of my private values and a representation of my principles. If I vote for someone that does not carry my values and or espouse the principles which I hold sacred then I have wasted my vote. There is no such thing as a wasted vote except the one cast on someone you do not feel carries your principles and values. There is a certain peace that you experience when you realize that the only thing you have control over is your vote. You cannot determine the outcome, so when you answer to God I really don't think he is going to ask you if your vote was for a winner, only if you voted in good conscience, and that can only be answered by you.

I have learned that under the influence of fear and anger people cannot be reasoned with. We become irrational and devoid of critical thinking functions. We may feel we are perfectly logical in our thinking, but our mind is closed and we are easily influenced by fear and anger. We accept far reaching accusations without any solid evidence. And in fact if evidence is presented we turn it away and refuse to believe it.

I have learned that if we allow ourselves to belong to a party we likely will only see the best in our candidate and the worst in our opponents. We are more likely to justify the actions of our own candidate and willing to accept even non-factual accusations against anyone else. We cloud our judgment with such loyalty that we are willing to let our own credibility come under question.  I have learned that it really is about who owns the (D) or the (R) by their name and nothing else. Sadly, policies don't matter once you are the candidate. Your past positions don't matter, it is all about the initial next to your name and your ability to collect votes. It is a game with high stakes. This is the hypocrisy of politics.

I have learned that people can be manipulated by a carrot in front of them or a bear on their butt. The master fisherman is a marketing genius, they know their bait and they know their prey. But most of all they know how to hide the hook.

I have learned Faith is a casualty during elections. When we are more concerned about the outcome of an election than we are about protecting the integrity of our vote, we have lost the most precious thing we have in our vote. To place our faith on the alter before politicians seems to be a sacrifice that I am not willing to make. In the end the Lord scatters his people and gathers them in, both are for our blessing. The one to help us see the light, the other to help us enjoy the light. 

Sometimes the Lord scatters his people, sometimes he gathers them, but it always works for our blessing. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but when things get really bad some of us look to God for deliverance, some of us look to politicians to deliver us. I do not judge anyone with this statement, I don't know your conscience. That is between you and God. 

I learned that even though most people profess to believe that the two party system is corrupt they will fall in line when given two corrupt choices. It is insanity to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results, but it is hard to root out insanity when it comes to elections. We are all sheep being pushed forward by two sheep dogs the one on the right and on the left, both leading us through fear and anger.

Most of all what I have learned is that voting your conscience is more than voting simply because you are against someone or someones, it is more than voting third party. Voting your conscience is about giving your values and your principles a voice whether you win or not, I can tell you that your vote is not wasted. You will be heard, as evidenced in the name calling and bullying that happens even among friends.

The image I will take with me this election is a bucket of crabs nipping at the heals of all the sheeples that are clamoring to try and get out of the bucket. 



October 25, 2016

Momma Pheasant And The Third Party Vote

Honestly I am scared of a Hillary presidency. However, I am more scared that we have already lost our conscience. I believe that the rejection of our conscience is a greater threat than anyone who might be elected. Character does matter. Integrity does matter. Our vote does matter.
Our founding fathers made our vote highly symbolic in a representative government. This symbol being our vote equals our conscience, our character, our integrity. We should seek out honest men of sound character who will represent our own character and integrity as well as the principles that we feel are best in governing under the Constitution.
How have we lost our conscience? We proclaim the virtue of competition in all things but voting. When it comes to elections 2 parties is all that count. If you vote outside that framework you are voting for the evilest of the candidates. Third parties have now taken on the mantle of the vilest of parties. Fear is a powerful motivator, it blocks the effects of conscience, it creates irrational thoughts, and it justifies uncharacteristic treatment of others. Fear causes us to act against our better judgment (conscience). This is how we lose our conscience, we fear the outcome more than we fear the solution.
I call this the pheasant syndrome. In the classic Disney movie Bambi, hunters enter the meadow and a mother pheasant begins to panic. In her panic the logical thing to do is flee from danger as fast as possible, so she takes flight and is shot dead. She would have been better to have stayed calm and not panicked. The real solution was to stay close to the ground. I have walked on top of a pheasant that understood this principle and it got away because I was unprepared to deal with a pheasant between my feet. He flew, but he did not panic, he stayed low and disappeared as quickly as possible.
Voting your conscience is not about voting for another candidate, or against another candidate. It simply means you are voting for the person you feel has the best character and will represent you, your principles, and your values best. Those who would attempt to make you feel otherwise simply are more scared of the outcome than they are of the real solution.

September 8, 2016

The National Anthem, Free Speech, And Honoring The Symbol




I have gone through many thoughts about Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the National Anthem. I first felt a disdain for what he did. I thought that it was absolutely disrepectful. However, I began to think, what if I felt the same way that he did about my country? I love my country and I believe in what it represents to the world. However, I am very fearful that it is becoming something that does not represent me nor what our country was meant to be. So, what if it became the great monster that some would have us believe we are? I began to sympathize with his actions. I myself might not sit, because I understand what the flag represents, but I began to understand where he was coming from, at least I could see myself possibly having a hard time saluting a flag that meant something different than what I know it represents.

I began to ponder this situation and did some soul searching and praying. What could one do that would honor the memory of the flag and those who have fought to preserve the ideals of this country, and still let their voice be known that they were concerned about the things that they did not agree with about our country?

I believe in the right to freely speak, but I also believe that we do not have a right to avoid consequences. It is one of the beauties about our system. You have the right to choose, but you do not have the right to pick your consequences. The power of risk is this, that if you risk and win, you win outright, but if you lose you lose outright and have to start over.

So, as I thought about this situation I began to recite the pledge of allegiance. As I did this it struck me that the greatest thing we can do to protest what we think is wrong with America is to do something bigger that we think represents what America should be. If we think that America should be just then define it. Honestly search inside yourself and decide what justice is. Not based on what anyone else tells you justice is, but what you know justice is. If you think that this nation is immoral, figure out what moral is and live it according to what YOU know is moral. What ever great ideal you think this nation is suppose to represent, define it, and live it in a big way, just like Martin Luther King Jr. did. 



Martin Luther King Jr. was not perfect, but he stood for what he thought America should be, and he lived it in a big way. He did not desecrate the flag. He flew it higher and made everyone else look up at it. He made everyone remember the words, "one nation under God, indivisible..." He did not seek to divide or be divisive. He wanted true equality. He wanted us to realize that truly all men were created equal. It was his dream that we recognize the character of the man not the color of his skin.

This kind of protest is positive and honors the symbol of all those who have fought for our right to speak freely. This kind of protest would give life to our country, and promote unity and justice. This kind of protest would be filled with nothing but love in ones heart toward even those whom they feel wronged by. This kind of protest might display righteous indignation, but would be void of anger. This kind of protest would require more soul searching and personal purification. It would require us to face our own fears of who we are. Because it would force us to recognize that we are all children of God, and that makes us equal. And if we are equal then the only thing that truly does matter is the character of the man.

What Kaepernick did was wrong. He disrespected the memory of those who made it possible for him to become what he is today. He disrespected all those who fought for the symbol of a republic which united, would stand one nation under God, indivisible, with justice for all. Kaepernick was wrong, but I don't believe that he deserves the hatred that he is receiving, I think he simply needs to come up with a better way to make his voice known. He might start by reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. There he will learn that you attract more bees with honey. Reading between the lines he might also realize why the flies of hatred are hanging around.

To protest an injustice is good, but know what injustice is, and don't trample the symbol of justice...Raise it higher! Point to it and remind us that we, as a people, should be better than what we are. Rather than be silent, Yell it from the house tops, "With justice FOR ALL..." And when the National Anthem is sung, remember the bodies of the men who died, holding up that flag, that we as prisoners on the boat, might see the flag over the ramparts and hold fast to hope. 


I truly believe that those who are angry over this have every right to be, although I do not see that it honors the flag any more than Mr. Kaepernick. Honor the flag by not allowing others to divide us. That is how you stand for the National Anthem. Too many of us are sitting for the National Anthem, simply by not seeking unity, and understanding to keep us together.

September 4, 2016

Perfection is a Direction, Not a Destination

We tend to think of perfection as a destination, a place where we can progress no further, where we have no flaws, or no blemishes. I believe that God simply sees perfection as a direction.

Yeah, come unto Christ and be perfected in him...(Moroni 10:32)
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life...(John 14:6)

The more I understand The Sacrament, the more I realize the power of the atonement. The more I understand the power of the atonement the less I fear making a mistake. The less I fear making a mistake the less tempted I am to do what I know is wrong. The less tempted I am to do what is wrong the more I want to do what is right.


Continuing down the path you choose will either take you where you want to go, or it will not. We all know that perfection is what will make us happy, but sometimes we feel helpless and hopeless because we think it is so far out of reach that we will never be able to attain it. Without hope we become miserable and we see perfection as a curse, as something we don't want to attain, because it is simply too hard.

Once we begin to understand the atonement, we can realize that attaining perfection is merely changing the path we are on, because perfection is not a destination which we can never reach, because it is always just around the next bend, over the next hill, or across the next stream that seems to get bigger and bigger. Perfection is simply heading in the right direction. "Come follow me, the Savior said. Then let us in his footsteps tread. For thus alone and we be one, with God's own loved begotten son." ( https://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/come-follow-me?lang=eng )

August 21, 2016

There Will Come A Day of Judgement, But Today Is Not That Day

There will come a day of Judgement, but today is not that day...

10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:10-12)

There will be a time for judgment, but today is not that day. Even Christ put off judgment while he was ministering upon the earth. "...Neither do I condemn thee..." However, he did say, "Go and sin no more." Calling sin a sin is not judging, it is a warning, a second chance, an opportunity to save ourselves from that time when judgment will become necessary. It is not our place to judge others, but it is our responsibility as brothers and sisters to warn each other with all the love that Christ would give in such warnings. No more, no less. Go and sin no more.

Because of Christ, this life became a probationary state, a time to prepare to meet God.(Alma 12:24) Thus, our hope is well placed in Christ for he has given us the gift of learning from our mistakes and removing from us the burden of administering justice. "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors..." (Matthew 6:12) When it comes right down to it, to forgive our debtors may be the hardest lesson we learn before we stand before the judgement seat of Christ. 

I believe the difference between warning and condemning is loving. Remember we did not earn the right to judge. We did not take the stripes, or experience the weight of justice baring down on us. And our capacity to love enough to judge is just not there. We have no authority to condemn our brothers and sisters, that burden was taken from us when Christ atoned for our sins. Impersonating one in authority does not go over well before the judge. 

July 27, 2015

Death is a Refining Process

  Cancer is an ugly word often associated with pain and suffering. I cannot refute that in the least. However, I have learned that suffering, in its own way, can be merciful, and that death is a refining process.
     I learned this from my mother-in-law. “Kids are for goats” or “I am NOT a guy,” she would blast with her big voice that she would use like a fog horn. My mother-in-law’s voice was big; I mean it was quiet-a-crowd-at-the-Marriot-Center-from-the-middle-of-the-arena-no-megaphone-needed big. It took me a long time to figure out that she was using her voice to hide her pain.  
     Her life was filled with emotional turmoil. Her mother had been married and divorced or widowed several times. Along the way, she had endured unspeakable abuses at the hands of the men whom her mother had exposed her to. Because of her dysfunctional childhood, she had promised herself that she would not put her children through the same suffering that she went through. When she married it was eternally, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. She was going to provide a stable foundation for her children.
However, due to the abuse, unresolved emotional issues plagued their marriage. Neither she nor my father-in-law were the type to share these struggles with their children, but as they got older they could observe these things without a lot of words being exchanged. Little Ben, their first child, went full term, but somewhere in the process of childbirth his cord became prolapsed; he suffocated and died in the process of being born. This sent both of my in-laws’ world into a tailspin from which they never fully recovered. It was just too much for my mother-in-law to handle emotionally, and she slipped into a behavioral pattern that isolated her from the broader spectrum of society.
Her stubborn, no guff, say-it-like-she-sees-it personality came over as harsh and sometimes obnoxious to others. She was either loved or despised; she left little room for neutrality. Even among her children there were many hard feelings due to her hardline, old school, literal interpretations of words and phrases. This was especially so when their friends were the recipients of her corrections. Nevertheless, I loved her, probably because I could see the pain and perceive her determination to see things through no matter how tough things got. Looking back, her dry sense of humor was probably a coping mechanism that helped her deal with her physical and emotional pains. For me, it was always good for a smile, an eye roll, or a shake of the head.
For months, even years, we had noticed that her health was in decline, but she was not one to show her pain, or even acknowledge it. In fact, we came to realize that her mind probably did not even compute what pain was because it was such a constant in her life. In January 2013, we became very concerned about her breathing. Each time she took a breath she sounded like a train climbing up a hill. Whenever we mentioned it to her, she would snap back, “It’s just the weather.” Finally, in July of 2013, she couldn’t breathe, she was in pain, and she was scared; a trip to the hospital led to an immediate prognosis that her right lung had collapsed. When the doctors investigated to see how bad it was, they said that they could not even stitch the hole in her lung; the flesh was so thin that it was like trying to sew wet toilet paper.
It took another three weeks for the full diagnosis to come back…Mesothelioma, a horrible form of lung cancer that attacks the inner lining of the lungs. It has no cure and very little treatment options, even if it is caught early. She was already at stage four, so there was nothing they could do. She was given six to eight weeks to live.
      She made it past the eight-week mark, in fact, she made it past Thanksgiving. Her will to live was strong. As she became less and less able to take care of her own needs, we offered my in-laws a room in our home. They agreed, but up until December they wouldn’t commit to coming. It was not until mid-December before she finally decided that she was ready to spend her final days on this earth in our home.
     In my ignorance, I thought that I was being generous by opening up my home to my in-laws. I was impressed with myself and my “righteous” offer. How arrogant I was. How wrong I was. Thank goodness I did eventually recognize that she was giving us her final gift. I am glad that humility is not always a bitter bite.
     I quickly learned that in her suffering, my mother-in-law had humbled herself. She had, without declaring it to the world, begun a process of repentance that was as real as any that I have ever witnessed. Not the kind of repentance you normally think of when it comes to sin, but the kind of repentance that refines one’s soul, and sets one on the path toward perfection-the kind of repentance that prepares one to enter the presence of God.

     The next four weeks would become one spiritual experience followed by another as my mother-in-law completed her transition. It became apparent to us, in those final days, that the veil had become very thin to her. She had several conversations with individuals that we could not see. One particular incident occurred, just days before she slipped into unconsciousness. I was entering her room. Her eyes were closed. She had a very calm yet intense look on her face, as though she was listening carefully to someone. After this conversation I heard her clearly say, “I forgive you.”  It was as if the purifying process of repentance was coming to a close and in forgiving she found forgiveness herself. She was at peace.
      I cannot say for sure who it was that was addressing her that evening, but I had the distinct impression that it was her mother. It was humbling to realize that while my mother-in-law was suffering through this process, she was being refined. The hard edges of her life were sluffing off her ever-shrinking physical frame. As I witnessed her suffering, I found myself being refined in my own way. My own ability to love was increased, and my understanding of the role of forgiveness was solidified. It wasn’t until then that I realized that death can be a refining process; suffering, in its own way, can be merciful. In her final days, she shared with us the peace that she found in that painful transition as her body became too hostile an environment for her spirit and she let go of her imperfect, worn-out body, and entered into the presence of her loving Heavenly Father.

June 28, 2015

Reflections of This Writer's Process

Reflections of This Writer's Process
I hesitate in sharing this paper I wrote as a final Essay in Engish class back in 2008, but I had fun and thought someone might find it amusing.


    Reflecting upon my writing process is an adventure in and of itself. As I at first, find myself somewhat a negative starter. I tend to stew and brew over the subject in the front of my mind. I moan and groan to my wife, my family, and my friends about how mentally anguishing every paper is. But in the back of my mind the wheels are whirling, the gears are churning and questions begin to move back and forth, up and down, like an old movie projector that takes a little bit of time to get up to speed. Most of the time, I have not even written anything down at this point, but thoughts begin to form into ideas. Ideas become a picture in my mind and when the picture is clear enough I begin to write.
    As I write, I try to feel the words as they appear on my screen, if they feel good, I keep them, if they don’t, I delete them. This process can be time consuming, but it is the only way I know how to write. Planning is a weakness for me. I am A.D.D. and easily distracted. Setting up an outline detracts from my flow and often I feel rushed and insincere in my approach to a subject. Outlines are one technique that would cause my phobic tensions to rise beyond healthy levels when I was in High School. So, instead I rely upon voices that speak in my head. Sometimes those voices are teachers, relatives, parents, and friends. I even hear dead people! I know this may sound weird, but I did say that my writing process was an adventure. These voices, memories, thoughts, and ideas give me my “call to write.” I have always struggled to read books, I have had to grasp concepts, and think ahead of others in order to survive. By imagining my mentors antagonists, and protagonist reactions, attitudes, beliefs, and understandings I increased my knowledge through them. In this way I call upon their advice and opinions to help me to express my thoughts on paper.
    I have always had a tendency to try to get into peoples heads, and try to figure out what they are thinking and feeling. This helps me to find the voice which I choose to use in writing my papers. If I know the person I am writing to I will often bring phrases or words that mean something to them that may not mean anything to anyone else. Depending on the purpose, I may even attempt to use their own voice and tones in my own writing. If I don’t know the person or audience that I am writing to I gather as many clues as possible to find out what their opinions and feelings are on the given subject as well as subjects that may indirectly or directly be related to the subject that we are addressing. Once I have determined what they believe I look at what I believe, and I seek some sort of common ground. This often requires some research. Ah, that dreaded reading thing again. However, I found that while researching requires reading, it is a focused reading, and it tends not to intimidate me quite as much as sitting down and reading a novel. If I have no common ground then I call upon the wisdom and expressions of those voices in my head to help me express myself using a logical, non-judgmental voice. And so, the adventure continues.
    When I am writing a research paper my process is very similar to other papers however, I find that in order for me to have confidence in my argument I have to create a picture of a conclusion in my mind. Once I have a conclusion then I hash out why that conclusion would or would not work, using the voices of protagonists and antagonists to help me push the theory along. Once I have created this solution in my mind, I test it on people who may or may not have an interest in the subject. I seek out their opinions or ideas, there concerns, their feelings, or any obstacles that they may see in the conclusion. These become some of the voices that I listen to throughout the writing process. I add these to my thoughts, and at this point I may even change my opinion on a given subject; however, I try to leave myself open to new ideas through out the process. I try not to rely upon theories, or opinions alone. But I have often found that when researching a subject there are more theories and opinions out there than actual facts. The same statistics are often used to prove both sides of an issue, and whenever I think of statistics I hear my statistics teacher say, “… there are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics!” So, when I do use statistics I try to use them in context, to the best of my ability. I personally feel a responsibility to make my reader a better person for reading what I have researched. I like to do this by simplifying the complex, giving more people an opportunity to share a deeper understanding of the world around them.
    Well, as I said understanding my writing process is an adventure. I actually did not realize what my “call to write” meant, until I began to reflect upon the processes that I use to write my papers. It may not be conventional, but it works for me, and each class that I have taken I have learned a little more how to free the voices that paint my mind with word pictures that bring me and hopefully others valued entertainment, as well as a deeper understanding of issues that drive us as individuals, as a community, and as members of the human race. 

June 7, 2015

A Love Letter

Just a little fun. It has been awhile since I have posted and my son keeps asking me to post something new. This was an assignment that I had in my writing class this semester. I thought that I would write a letter that could have been just as easily given to my wife, but that letter was not an option for the class.
   
  My most beloved Camera, 

     I remember the first time that I saw you. I had searched the technological world from one end to the other, looking and longing for you; and finally I found you. I remember the feeling of excitement that I had as my wife and I drove to the house where I would meet you for the first time. I remember removing you from the box in which you were placed and attaching the lens I had previously selected just for you. That first click of your shutter filled my mind with visions of places we would visit, and things we would see, the memories that we might share…
   
    Since that day, we have become very close, at times inseparable. You have given me great pleasure as we visited the grand panoramas of this state, from the majestic green mountains of Northern Utah, to the royal red cliffs of Zions National Park, Capitol Reef National Monument, Bryce Canyon, and beyond. We have captured many sunsets with their brilliant orange, reds, and pinks. We have inspired many with the wonders of God’s gift to mankind, even the world and its raw beauties.

     We have recorded miracles from our adventure in Capitol Reef. There we learned the power of
God to deliver us from a near “Man vs. Wild” experience, to the morning we took a walk in search of a tender mercy from our Heavenly Father; our prayer was answered with the silhouette of a beautiful buck at sunrise.

     We have also had our fair share of expeditions as well, such as our first time in Yellowstone. Our first “bear jam” was exhilarating; I foolishly leaped from the van and headed in direction of the bear, you in my hand. As the dark chocolate creature with the humped shoulders lumbered closer we scrambled back to the van and jumped in. You captured that magnificent omnivore and kept it safe in your memory card.  You and I have been on many hikes, our latest through the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. We have recorded many incredible picturesque scenes all in an effort to show others this great creation that our Heavenly Father has given us. I think we make a great team.

     I do have to admit when I walk with you I see others give me that jealous eye. Your lines, your curves, and your accessories are just plain sexy. And it’s not just that I want you for your body; you have beautiful software inside as well. When I take you in my hands and look deep into your view finder…Well, I sometimes get lost in your world of bells and whistles, your fisheye effect, your scene settings, and those special effects settings all enhance my emotional attachment to you. Many have dreamed of holding you, but I have reminded them that you are mine and mine alone to turn on.
   

     You are my beloved camera and though we have established that I love you; you are much more than a camera to me. You are an opportunity to express my testimony. You have brought me closer to God’s creations; you have increased my awareness of the details that enhance this mortal existence. You have helped me to not only see the beauty in every individual, but to capture it in such a manner that they too cannot deny their own beauty.  I look forward to deepening our relationship as we expose the gifts of life and beauty that our Heavenly Father has given us, that others may also recognize the beauties of this world and exclaim, “How great thou art...My God, how great thou art.”
Love,
Your one and Only

December 21, 2014

The Reality of All Hope Was Born That Night...


What made that night so holy?

Imagine that time before we came to this earth where we were all one big family, we loved each other, we had no prejudices or divisions, we were all called by the same family name. We learned together, and we counseled together and it was determined that it was time for us to experience mortality. Everything was going according to the plan we had agreed to. Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, according to the plan, and mortality became a reality for us.
Suddenly things changed. We watched our brothers and sisters come down to earth and struggle with temptations and weaknesses, with physical deformities, depression, anxiety, infertility, and many, many more physical and mental challenges. We were sad.
Each one of us still looked forward to our turn to come here to earth and try our hand, thinking, we could see the mistakes that our brothers and sisters had made, and we could correct them. We saw them making choices that led to heart ache and misery. And it in some ways this terrified us. We saw many that we thought were strong and noble spirits come down, stumble, and fall under the pressure of mortality.We were commanded by our Heavenly Father to pray to him for help. Some did, some did not.  We saw them fight, the siblings we loved and cared about were killing each other. We were sad, and we began to understand the need for a Savior in the plan. We heard the pleas of our siblings, as they cried out, "Oh come, Oh come Emanuel, and ransom captive Israel, who mourns in lowly exile... "The closer it came to our turn the more we appreciated and understood those pleas, begging for help..
So, when it was announced that this night was the night we had been waiting for. We rejoiced, we broke into songs of Hallelujah. We cried tears of joy, not only for ourselves, but for all our brothers and sisters who's pleas were being fulfilled. The veil which separated us from our brothers and sisters became thin and many heard us as we celebrated. Our Heavenly Father was so excited he sent his angels to announce the birth to any who would listen. He was also a little apprehensive. We could tell he was very pleased, but was also a bit anxious.
We rejoiced with all the holy prophets as we watched our Savior being born. We watched as he grew up. We saw him suffer at the hands of our own brothers and sisters. That was a dark day in heaven. We felt a deep sorrow, it was difficult to understand how our own brothers, and sisters could have gotten to this point.
There really wasn't much time for us to mourn, because on that side of the veil we had been preparing for the return of our big brother. It all happened almost as it were in the twinkling of an eye, because on the third day we rejoiced once again as Emanuel, our brother, Jesus Christ arose and took his place next to our Father.
And we rejoiced, because we knew that it was done. Our agency was no longer a hopeless curse, but a gift that made all the suffering we, and our brothers and sisters would suffer, worth it. Our ability to repent and change would not be in vain. Our mistakes, our stumbling, and our falls, could now officially be turned into stepping stones of learning rather than our hopeless demise. The gift of agency and repentance, the greatest gifts of all eternity had there beginnings long before their reality, but it is the reality of these gifts that we celebrate each Christmas Season.
May God bless us all with a Merry Christmas as we ponder upon the gifts our Heavenly Father has given us.
Remember, Faith is loyal to the happy ending. Faith sees trials, tribulations, stumbles, and falls as simply part of the story on its way to an inevitable Happily Ever After.

October 12, 2014

Peach BBQ Sauce


I have had several people ask for my Peach Chipotle BBQ Sauce recipe. I hesitated posting it because I thought I might market it. However, I have decided that I like sharing far more than I like making money. So, here is my not so secret Peach Chipotle BBQ Sauce recipe.


Two #10 cans Ketchup

6 Tbls chipotle seasoning

3 Tbls chili seasoning

1 1/2 tsp mace seasoning

8 cups puréed peaches

1 1/2 Cups puréed onion

I puréed sweet pepper

1 Cup apple cider vinegar

4 Tbls Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 cups Molasses

4 Tbls paprika

1 Tbls liquid smoke

1 Tbls minced garlic


I then bottle it and seal the bottles to use through out the year, or to give it to friends. It goes really well with my smoked pork ribs. Hmmm... I may just have to fire up the smoker. It's about that time again. 

May 12, 2014

Change Can Be Scary, But It Is Good


                      

Change comes in so many different forms. Change indicates the newness of life. It also ushers in the end of life and the beginning of eternity. Change brings in Spring and Fall and Winter and Summer.

Change brings joy and sorrow. It  can hurt. But it can also bring pleasure. It can happen fast, take a lifetime, or it may take much much longer for us to recognize the changes that are happening. Change can happen outwardly or it can happen inwardly. Change is ever present and inescapable. 

Change is a gift...
It can be scary, but no need to fear,  it is best to embrace it and realize the blessings  within it.  



January 21, 2014

Perfect Obedience Is About A Relationship With God

 When I was on my mission several years ago we were given a set of discussions and we were instructed that they were to be taught in the order given. These new discussions were an upgrade from the previous ones as they did give you principles to study and allowed you to use them creatively in your teaching by the spirit. Shortly after I left the mission field they began to encourage teaching principles by the spirit. Meaning that they could teach in whatever order the Spirit dictated. This was a huge leap of faith in the missionaries and their preparation.

Perfect obedience has been emphasized since, well, I don't know when, as it is a basic belief that the first law of heaven is obedience. So, when Lauree wrote me and asked for advice about perfect obedience I wasn't too surprised with her struggles. I think most missionaries go through struggles in regards to obedience to the rules. She is a perfectionist. She looks at the handbook as her bible of rules and has the utmost intention of being perfectly obedient to the rules that she has been given. This is good. Her contrite desire to be obedient will do her much good. Even if she never gets past the rigid rules aspect of the handbook. Just as it would for anyone in her situation.

Now lets take just a second and put the handbook in perspective. It is a creation of many years of experience. You have young people from every walk of life, and from every sort of background and culture. These young people have, in many cases, very little sense of direction or standards of conduct in many cases. They fear nothing, and they are not always the most wise of souls in the Kingdom of God. Let's face it, J Golden Kimball was right, if the church were not true the missionaries would have destroyed it long ago. That being said, the handbook of rules is there to minimize the damage. It is there to assist the missionaries in learning how to think and to serve as a conscience to those who may at times let their conscience slip...a little. Kind of like the Pirates code, they are more like guidelines. ;) Well, a little more than guidelines... This must not be interpreted as lessening the importance of the "White Bible," as we so fondly referred to it as.

So, my daughter struggles with perfectionism and truly desires to be perfectly obedient, as do many missionaries. I can not speak for their mission presidents, nor for the church and I may be completely wrong, but I don't think so, when I say they really aren't talking about the handbook when they say they want to you to be perfectly obedient. I believe they are saying be perfectly obedient to the Spirit of God. Be perfectly obedient when the Spirit says be home at 9:00. Be perfectly obedient when the Spirit says, be out of your apartment at a certain time. Be perfectly obedient when the Spirit says, talk to this person, knock on that door, etc...Then when the Spirit does not say what to do, you will be in the right frame of mind that the "rules" won't matter because they will be apart of you.

Remember, Christ, when on the Sabbath he gathered food with his disciples? Or when he healed a man on the Sabbath? The scribes and Pharisees sought to accuse him of breaking the law of Moses, but Christ turned their questions back on them and declared that the Son of Man was also Lord of the Sabbath. Did he break the law? How about Adam and Eve? In order for them to set into play Our Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness, they had to transgress the law. According to President Joseph Fielding Smith Adam and Eve "transgressed the law, but did not sin, because they had to do it." Thus, perfect obedience required they break the law. The story of Nephi was another case in which the commandments were required to be broken in order to be perfectly obedient. It might be noted that in each case where the law was broken it was not an easy decision for the one asked to break the law. And that I believe is because they understood the importance of obedience to the laws.

If we are not enjoying ourselves, I can guarantee that we are not being perfectly obedient. When we become perfectly obedient we will find our creativity is increased, our enjoyment is increased, our effectiveness will be increased, because we will be so in tuned to our Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness.

No one can judge our level of obedience better than we can. In fact no one can truly measure our level of obedience besides us and God. That is because perfect obedience is more about our personal relationship with God than it is about obeying commandments and rules. Perfect obedience does not negate the law, it in fact justifies the law.

October 14, 2013

In Our Footsteps, In His Footsteps

Sometimes it is hard to imagine that one day this little foot will step into their parent's shoes. As a parent it never ceases to amaze me, and in some ways, frighten me how quickly my children's feet are growing into my shoes. It amazes me because of the incredible spirit they have to conquer so much more than I had, and it also frightens me because I know that as one generation rises another fades. 
God's plan is an amazing plan as it introduces us to the pattern of His Fatherhood. We are his children and someday we will grow up to be like him, if we simply follow in his footsteps. "Come follow me, the Savior said, then let us in his footsteps tread. For thus alone, can we be one, with God's own loved begotten son..."

August 20, 2013

There Shall Be No Mistaking It

And so the Gospel rolls forth...
There is nothing that will bring this world more peace than knowing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Is it any wonder then that the Lord would call so many young people to spread that gospel? Not only young people, but more senior missionaries as well?

I have been pondering the reality that this world has become so torn apart and struggling for some semblance of order, that it is no longer safe to live here in mortality. More and more people are feeling out of control of their lives. More and more people are growing faithless, turning to governments to give them what they want rather than asking God for what they need. The more control they seek the more it looks like chaos. The more chaos the more they turn from God the less peace can be found. Controlled by guilt they refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions.

Thus the stage is set for the light of the gospel to go forth and penetrate the darkness. The contrast being necessary that there be no mistaking when the light of truth is present.

God is real. His power is real. He is the same today as he has always been. He loves his children and wants them to feel peace. His work and his glory will ever remain to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Press forward Saints with steadfast faith in Christ...

July 31, 2013

Tender Mercies In A Time Of Need


Sometimes it is not all about the picture. Sometimes it is the story behind the picture that makes the picture more clear.
Friday morning July 19, 2013 I got up a little extra early to go for a short hike to see the sunrise. I was feeling somewhat discouraged, but I had a seed of hope in my heart. As I approached the top of the hill I was enjoying the view that God had given me that morning when I let my mind wander to thinking about things I would love to take a picture of, when the thought came, "would it be to much to ask for a silhouette of a nice buck?" I thought, it might be, but I decided to ask anyways. And so I did. I looked toward the sunrise and I saw nothing. So, while I was walking and having my semi silent prayer, I hadn't moved 10-15 yrds when I looked up on the ridge just ahead of me. This magnificent creature popped his head up from the sage brush. For the next 10 minutes he walked back and forth in front of me as I took pictures and spoke softly to him. This was most certainly a tender mercy from a loving Heavenly Father. There was a spiritual exchange and then with the sound of a vehicle from bellow he snorted and bounded off only to stop and turn back to look at me one last time. That feeling sustained me through the remainder of that day. God gives good gifts...


July 27, 2013

A Scout Is...

Each Scout takes upon themselves an oath and promise, as an obligation to become a better citizen, friend, and future husband, and father.

On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty to God, and my country. To help other people at all times, to obey the Scout Law...

So, just what is the Scout Law? It is a statement that describes the ideals in which a scout subscribes to. Becoming a scout is as much a process as the process of collecting merit badges and qualifying for a new rank. And this is my version of what a scout is:

A scout is trustworthy. A scout is worthy of trust. They are honest even when it hurts. When they are assigned to a task you are safe to assume that if they accept the assignment the assignment will be done. A scout takes pride in their ability to come through. Their word is their bond. You need no contract for them. A simple handshake will do. They would never even consider breaking their agreement once they enter in.

A scout is loyal. A scout is loyal to their family, their friends, their God, their country, their fellow scouts, and to their leaders. A scout is loyal to the ideals of their oath and law. Loyalty implies a commitment to help others become the best they can be by standing by them without compromising their own principles. Loyalty means a scout would never ask another to compromise their own principles and they will stand with those who stand for their same ideals.

A scout is helpful. A scout can not sit still when things need to be done. In fact they are the first to ask, what can I do? They are eager to use the life skills they have been learning and realize that being helpful is not only a sign of respect and gratitude, but it is also a great way to hone their skills. They have a work ethic that in and of itself will take them places and lay a foundation for their future.

A scout is friendly. A scout shows their ability to make and keep friends. They do not look for the differences in others, but similarities. They treat all with common respect whether they be the head of a nation or the lowliest of citizens.  They do not judge others by the color of their skin, nor their gender, or anything else, but by their character. They see everyone as an opportunity to be a friend.

A scout is courteous. A scout knows good manners and uses them in every situation. They are aware of their surroundings and aware of others. They live the old school rules of treating all with respect. They are chivalrous. They are just plain pleasant to be around.

A scout is kind. A scout is sympathetic. They mourn with those that mourn, and rejoice with those that rejoice. They make others feel welcomed and wanted. Not only are they kind to those who look like they need it. They are kind to those who don't need it. They don't wait for others to need an act of kindness, they just do it out of habit. They are kind to all living creatures.

A scout is obedient. A scout realizes that the first law of heaven is obedience. That they can not be a law unto themselves. That order is imperative to reach greatness.  They also recognize they need to be as good a follower as they are a leader. They understand that obedience leads to greater opportunities. While disobedience hurts not just themselves but those around them. They are obedient to their leaders, their parents, and anyone who is called to preside over them at any given time. So, long as they are not asked to compromise their values and standards.

A scout is cheerful. A scout is quick to smile and full of faith. A scout always displays his positive, can do attitude. A scout is quick to bring good news. They are jovial and full of good clean spirit. A scout is fun.

A scout is thrifty. A scout is a good steward with his resources. They use their time as wisely as they use their money. They understand the limits of their resources and work creatively within them. They manage their funds with skill to avoid debt at all cost. They are just as aware of their immediate needs as they are their long term needs and wants. They know the difference between needs and wants. They educate themselves well enough to know that the best is not always the most expensive.

A scout is brave. A scout is not free of fear, but because he is prepared he need not fear. The skills they have acquired in the process of becoming a scout have made them prepared to deal with just about any situation they might encounter. Fear is merely a discomfort rather than a paralyzing dose of not knowing what to do.

A scout is clean. A scout is clean in mind and body. They maintain high standards of hygiene, and they keep themselves clean inside and out. They never allow their mind to filled with thoughts that would leave them feeling impure. They do not participate in off color jokes, and they shun pornography. They take pride in their general appearance as well as the appearance of anything they do. Whether it be in their work or in play. Cleanliness is next to godliness. They realize that cleanliness in not just a matter of pleasure, but a matter of safety as well. They know how to clean clothes, dishes, bathrooms, bedrooms, cars, etc... and they do it... most of the time. ;)

A scout is reverent. A scout is fully aware of God's creations and his hand in their lives and holds a deep sense of gratitude for all of God's creations and his presence in their lives. They have a reverence for life. When they are in the outdoors they know how to balance having fun with respecting those around them as well as nature. They recognize that reverence is applied differently in different places and they act accordingly. They recognize that reverence is an outward attitude radiating from an inward feeling of gratitude.


...to keep myself physically fit, mentally awake, and morally strait.
By keeping the scout law the scout will automatically fulfill his oath. Each point building upon the other. By living the law they will be prepared to live a morally outstanding life making choices, not out of fear, but out of a conscientious decision to do what is right and good.

And though it is not officially a part of the scout law, we must never forget, A scout is hungry... Not only are they hungry for food, they are hungry for knowledge, and adventure as well. A scout is always on a quest for truth.... and more food. ;)

This is what I expect any scout that is seeking the rank of Eagle to become. Are they going to be perfect? No, but they will be well on down the path in that direction...Well, they will be if they have to go through a conference or review in which I am involved. I did not get my Eagle and I feel it my obligation, as a leader, to protect the prestige and honor of that award.


July 1, 2013

Called To Serve Him, Heavenly King Of Glory...

Well, here we are on the eve of our daughter's mission and the emotions are running deep...Not so much on the surface, but we certainly are anxiously engaged in the final preparations.

Lauree requested to watch Nicholas Nickleby as she was finishing her packing. Nicholas Nickleby is her favorite movie...at least according to the number of times she has watched it. Somewhere between visits from friends and neighbors we were able to get through the movie and Lauree is mostly packed. I was able to give her a father's blessing.

It is times like this that I am reminded just what an honor it is to hold the priesthood. I am not sure how a father can possibly serve his family adequately without the priesthood. To know that God has entrusted me with the same power that he used and uses to serve his children is quite humbling. I find great comfort knowing that she will have access to this same priesthood through the elders with whom she will be serving.

So, now as I get ready to send her off, I have to put my trust in The Lord as my parents put their trust in The Lord when they sent me on my mission. It is not easy, but I am excited, because I know what is in store for her. She is about to experience the greatest transformation one can make as she shares the blessings of the gospel with her brothers and sisters in Ecuador. Her faith is about to grow from the mustard seed into the mighty mustard tree. The experiences she will have will bring her the greatest joy she can possibly experience until she holds her own child in her arms...It makes my heart sing just thinking of the love she is going to experience.
http://calledtoserveecuadorquito.blogspot.com/

June 7, 2013

If Ye Love Me...

While at Yellowstone we were walking around the boardwalk at Prismatic pool, there we saw someone had taken an object and written their name in the algae mats. They also wrote these words, "I love Yellowstone." I thought, how ironic. Then the thought came to me, "If ye love me keep my commandments." (John 14:15)

I wonder, how many of us know what that means? We say we love our Heavenly Father, but then we are quick to excuse our sins. Or we may just cherry-pick those commandments that we think are more important than others.


As a Latter-day Saint, it is like sustaining our leaders and then not SUSTAINING them when they ask us to help.

God has given us these commandments as a gift to help us be happy while living with our fellow man. To dismiss them is like giving your child a present only to have them set it aside without even opening it.

The only way we truly can know the power and wisdom of God is to test his wisdom through obedience.