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The Best Day of the Year

My kids were playing another scintillating game of "Would you rather?". It's actually pretty disgusting. Example: Would you rather be stung by one hundred bees or have to sleep in cat litter your whole life? The questions getting weirder and more disgusting. I decided to adjust the game slightly. My version: "Would you rather have two Christmas' or two birthdays". It definitely made for a more breakfast-friendly conversation.

This got me thinking about my favorite time of the year. What day is it? Not my birthday. Not Christmas. Not the Fourth of July. It's any Sunday there is a new bishop called  in our ward! (A bishop holds one of the key ecclesiastical positions within the Mormon Church. He is the leader of a local congregation, known as a ward.) It's pretty exciting to think about who will be the new bishop, though all wonder and inquisitiveness goes out the window once you step inside the chapel. Why's that? Well, knowing who will be in the new bishopric (comprised of the bishop and two helpers called counselors) is pretty easy to discover. It seemed such a mystery when I was younger, but as I told my kids yesterday, there are three easy ways to pick out the new members of the Bishopric.

"Daddy, daddy! Do you know who the new bishopric will be?"
"No, but I know how we can find out."
"How?! How?!"
"Here's how."

First, they will be surrounded by family members you've never seen before. From great grandpa Smith who needs help to his seat, to nephew Bill who reeks of cigarette smoke, they'll be take up two pews. Uncle Rico  might even make an appearance.



Second, they will be dressed in a nice new suit. It's easiest to determine when people who only come in shirts and ties suddenly have a suit on.

Third, if there was any facial hair before, it will all be gone. No more of this.


Sorry Brother, this has to come off before Sunday.

The funny end to this story is yesterday we walked to church and I was lagging behind with the younger kids. My wife had time to enter the chapel, scope out the field, find our seat and come back to me and say, "Brother X,Y, and Z".  She was DEAD ON!

As the good brother who was sitting behind me said yesterday, "We might not know who the bishop will be, but we know who the players are!".

A Small Serving

It continues to amaze me how the small acts we do tend to have a much larger impact than we expect. We often think that in order to make a large impact on the world, we must do some great thing. Here's the thing. God is in the small details of our lives. He's there every minute, every hour. His Spirit prompts us to do small acts of service probably all day long. How often do we follow through? A friend of mine has mentioned to me countless times of impressions he/she has received and didn't follow through because it was such a small thing. I'm impressed that this person receives those impressions, because I have a hard time hearing them. The key is the follow through.

I heard it said of Thomas S. Monson that what differentiates him from the average person is that he acts on the things we think about doing. This reminds me of visits we made to a very old, kind man, who would always offer my children ice cream. He would always have such a hard time digging the ice cream out because he had no ice cream scoop - he had a small spoon that would bend under the pressure of excavating the ice cream and loading it onto the cones. I thought to myself, "I'm going to buy this man the best ice cream scoop I can find". Amazingly, instead of just thinking about it for months, I did it. I bought the ice cream scoop. Actually, it was one of these bad boys below. It was an ice cream spade. The next time we visited we gave him the spade and he was thankful and commented on how much he liked it. It was so much easier to scoop the ice cream out.



The thing that was so touching was this: every single time we went to visit this man after that, and I mean EVERY SINGLE TIME for at least a year, he mentioned that we gave him that ice cream scoop and he loved it. You and I might think, it's a silly ice cream spade that cost eight dollars. For this man however it represented something so much more. It meant that someone was thinking of him. It meant that people were concerned for him. It meant that he was not completely alone.

So the next time you have a thought that you should buy something at the store for someone, or ask to watch their kids, or mow someone's lawn, or EVEN to buy someone an ice cream spade, don't delay. The ice cream is melting!

The Sting of Death

For those of you who don't view my blog of poems, I added this one today. I had a friend who lost someone  close to her recently. It was a mother who died after childbirth. God bless her and her sweet, young family.

When death comes swiftly in the night
So unexpected to our sight
When young ones die before they should
Our hearts break, and well they should


The pain is deep, the sting is real
It's all-consuming, it's all I feel
I want to move on, I want to mend
But why did this life have to end?



It's one thing if they're old and gray
They've lived their lives and had their play
But when they're fresh and young and new
With so much left in life to do

It's time likes these when all I hold
Is to my faith of what's been told
Of life forever with those we've lost
God recompensing every loss

But still the aching here remains
Though lessened by eternal gains
What can I feed my struggling heart
What words of wisdom can you impart

I need not words but hands and hearts
A warm embrace is a good start
I want to cling to those I love
For fear they also sail above



God - comfort me this lonely night
Help me win this horrible fight
Send some loving friends my way
So I can make it one more day

And bless the memory of the lost
I'll cling to the past - at all cost
But lead me by the hand tomorrow
I do not wish to live in sorrow

Proud Parents

Have you ever met parents who think their kid/s are the best thing that ever happened to the world? They are constantly talking about how great their child is, how he/she is the cutest, the smartest, the best behaved, etc? I've been exposed to a lot of this. Is there anything more annoying? I used to think so, but not anymore. Let me tell you what changed my perspective.

I have a three-year old boy who I love to death. He's always been a daddy's boy. I used to lay with him in his crib at night so he would fall asleep. When I would get out, he would ask me to lay with him a "liddle bih" more. It was hard to say no. When the time came to take away his binkie, I cried for over an hour in my room because I knew what it meant, he was no longer a baby. (My wife thought I was going nuts) He's been wrapped around my finger from day one.



When he was about nine months old I went on a trip and visited some unnamed people and was able to meet a baby boy born the same day as my boy. As I met him and his parents, and realized his parents were high on drugs at the moment, I held this boy close to me and felt his warm skin and my heart broke for him. His dad had spent his whole life in and out of trouble, in and out of jail, in and out of love, in and out of abusive relationships. His mother was in shambles as well. I knew from other sources that their relationship was rocky and that this child was not getting the care he deserved. As I held this baby in my arms I thought of the sad injustice of it all. What had this child done, or not done, to deserve to be born to a mother and father addicted to drugs? Why was he any less deserving of parents who adore him and could provide him the love, support, time, and everything else a baby wants and needs. That was a hard night. I called my mom and expressed to her how truly shattered I was, knowing this child would be neglected, forgotten, and not loved as he should be.



Ever since that moment, I find great comfort in parents who love their children more than anything in the world. I'm glad that they have the best kids, the cutest kids, the smartest kids. The reality is, it's probably not true, but IT IS TRUE TO THEM. That's what matters. I thank God for every parent who feels that way about their child, because for every child that is loved with pure love, there is a child who goes without food, goes without warm clothes, goes without a clean diaper, and goes without hugs at night.

I'm reminded of Elder Dallin H. Oaks talk on children in the October General Conference.

"We can all remember our feelings when a little child cried out and reached up to us for help. A loving Heavenly Father gives us those feelings to impel us to help His children."

To all you annoying parents who feel your kids are the best thing that ever happened to the world, never stop feeling that way!

Arguments of the Religious Cynics Never Change

I was reading from Alma Chapter 30 in the Book of Mormon and while reading the comments of the anti-Christ Korihor I was fascinated by the fact that the arguments against religion have and always will be the same. Korihor is bashing these religious traditions and exposing them as incorrect and foolish. The interesting thing is this: Korihor is exactly correct in his sermon on traditions. They can be incorrect, foolish, and lead people astray. The true religion is not false! I spent many months among a tribe who had traditions that did in fact lead people away from goodness and prosperity. However, the wonderful about Mormonism is that we are under a burden of confirming these truths for ourselves and gaining our own understanding and knowledge of the truth.

I thought I'd do a little comparison between Korihor and Bill Maher.



Korihor: Ye are bound down under a foolish and vain hope.
Bill Maher: This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price.

Korihor: How do ye know of their surety? Ye cannot know things which ye don't see.
Bill Maher: And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt.

Korihor: It is the effect of a frenzied mind, and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers.
Bill Maher: I think religion stops people from thinking. I think it justified crazies.

Thieves with Vocal Chords

I'm amazed at all the YouTube sensations that have popped up and become famous. I find it really funny when they become famous for copying other people's work. What is your opinion of these artists? Are they really artists or are they just thieves with vocal chords? Here are a few pretty famous copy cats. The first is Tiffany Alvord and the second is Megan Nicole.



I think they are very talented. It's neat that people are able to disperse their talents to such a large audience, a global audience. Good for these girls. 

The Truth about Peanuts

My wife and I made the decision a few years ago to give things to our kids straight. We wanted to be completely honest with them and not beat around the bush or tell them things that would lead to confusion later on. (With the exception of certain bearded men and winged fairies) Before we made this decision we had a bad habit of using alternative words for their anatomy. Some examples are: Julie, don't touch your "private". Or, Mikey don't play with your "friend". Billy, get your hands off your "wee-wee". I know, I know, some strange choices - especially "friend", and that's exactly why we decided to stop.

So, we've started explaining to the kids what a penis and vagina are and have used those words. Those aren't words that are needed often, but there are times when it is appropriate to say it. We hope the kids will appreciate having a knowledge of things at home before they learn them from other sources, be it at school or around friends. We also try to help them understand that those are words that are used appropriately.




A few days ago my three-year old was going to the bathroom and my wife was helping him get his underwear and pants back up. He pointed to his "private" and asked: "Is this my peanut?" You just can't make this stuff up!

As a parent, it's nice to know the things you are teaching your kids are sinking in.


Driving with a one year-old

Things I've learned after driving for 25 hours with a 13 month old:

Babies don't watch movies
Babies want to walk
Babies want to play with daddy not watch him drive
Babies like to spill milk
Not sure how babies poop sitting down in a car seat - honestly, how is it possible?
Babies love it when they get to stretch their legs and chew on used cigarette butts at rest areas.



Check out the blog called “30 Blogs With the Best Tips for Keeping Kids Healthy” (http://www.nannypro.com/blog/30-blogs-with-the-best-tips-for-keeping-kids-healthy/).

Why lie about it?

I'll be honest, there are times when I can sympathize with people who lie. I can at least understand their motives. But the people in the following clip I can't understand. This Jimmy Kimmel video clip is so hilarious. He interviews people the DAY BEFORE the presidential debate to ask them who they felt won, what their favorites parts were, etc. He wants to see how many people will lie about watching it. It's hilarious, and at the same time troubling that so many people who lie about it. I love the black dude at the end who was like, "what debate?"

For your viewing pleasure...



I hate you Oregon but I love the Carlton dance

We drove on I-84 this past week and thoroughly enjoyed the fact that Idahoans realize their state has nothing to offer so the speed limit is 75. Makes flying through that state real easy. All is wonderful as we coast west to visit my sister. And then Oregon happens. Oregon via I-84 is as ugly as Idaho, yet the good people of Oregon don't know that and they make us follow a speed limit of 65. The state goes on forever. And I can't even pump my own gas? I wanted to hit my head against the dashboard multiple times. As soon as we got through Oregon, we did a happy dance.



Family

This is the picture I look at every day at work. Can I tell you how lucky I feel? Such wonderful, good looking kids. How about the colors in this pic too? All thanks to my wife who spent months, no joke, picking out the outfits. She made half of the stuff to. Sadly, she forgot to put on her head attire that she was going to wear. 



Speaking of family, I was talking to my wife last night and I realized that I love my kids so much more when they are outside. There are no lists to be completed, no norms of behavior to follow, no things to break (other than bones). I wish I was homeless, that way I would always adore my kids. Ok, so that last part will come true in about a year and we'll see how it goes. Honestly though, there is something about being outside in the open and enjoying your surroundings that makes life so much better. 

Evan and I love to go on fathers and sons campouts. We only have one rule while we are there: Don't die. It makes things so much more relaxing and peaceful. Now if only there were no school, no piano, no messes, no teeth to be brushed, no pajamas to put on, no homework, etc. 




Michael Vick has a dog - do I care?

News. I love it. I really do. Some of this stuff is just so awesome. The fact that Michael Vick, who was jailed for his part in an illegal dog fighting ring, has a new family pet, it warms the heart.

Welcome to the Vick home
I also love hearing about celebrity couples who divorce. Sorry for Tom Cruise and Katie whatever her name is. Did you hear about what Miley Cyrus was wearing at the latest premiere, and oh my goodness did you see her hair? And I couldn't believe that Halle Berry and Alicia Keys wore the same outfit, what were they thinking?


Enough yet?

Back to Michael Vick. According to Vick, the family pet has been adopted and is being shown lots of love. He feels it important that his children learn how to care for the animals and bond with them. That's wonderful, it really is, but how come CNN isn't covering my daughter and the meal worm that she got from school? Yes, yes, I know, because she isn't famous.

I love the news.


Why Missionary Age was Changed

The response to the announcement by President Monson that missionaries could now begin service at 18/19 definitely has made a big ripple in the Mormon community. I was posting on Twitter with #ldsconf and it was interesting to see people's response. All were generally excited, but I followed a link to the Salt Lake Tribune where Peggy Fletcher Stack had given some analysis on the possible impact. I was more interested in the comments of the readers, as they just blew my mind. For those who are not aware, the Salt Lake Tribune is the dark side of Utah. Most things posted about the church are controversial and the readership are generally Mormon-haters, at least those who comment.



What I found amazing was the reasons these people believe the change to missionary age was made.

Some of the comments:

"I guess the church is more concerned about quantity rather than quality."

"Finally women are treated as more equal."

"They just want the football team to improve."

Really? Really? I love Elder Neal L. Andersen's reference to the scripture:

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:9.

When the prophets implement a change, let's not assume it was because they are finally in touch with reality. Blacks weren't given the priesthood because one day the prophets realized they were behind the times. God isn't waiting for his prophets to "get it", he's waiting for the world and the members of the church to be ready for things before he grants them to us. Line upon line, precept on precept.

Elder Holland had a magnificent quote in General Conference a few years back and he said this:

"As the least of those who have been sustained by you to witness the guidance of this Church firsthand, I say with all the fervor of my soul that never in my personal or professional life have I ever associated with any group who are so in touch, who know so profoundly the issues facing us, who look so deeply into the old, stay so open to the new, and weigh so carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully everything in between. I testify that the grasp this body of men and women have of moral and societal issues exceeds that of any think tank or brain trust of comparable endeavor of which I know anywhere on the earth. I bear personal witness of how thoroughly good they are, of how hard they work, and how humbly they live. It is no trivial matter for this Church to declare to the world prophecy, seership, and revelation, but we do declare it. It is true light shining in a dark world, and it shines from these proceedings."

Was that POWERFUL or what?

For those who missed the press conference, you can hear from the prophets themselves as to why the church implemented the change they did.




Bye Bye

A new member of our payroll team from Seattle came to Provo this week to meet me and do some training. We started chatting about religion, politics, and lots of other things you are not supposed to talk about at work. After the topic of religion was brought up, she mentioned she was an atheist. I asked her, so what do you think happens after we die? Her response, "Bye Bye." Like, there's nothing else. It's all over. I was slightly shocked. Shocked that she could say it in jest, but also shocked that a person can be so happy in this life believing that this is all there is - and she's a very happy person.


I'm so glad I know that life doesn't end after death. It's also helpful to know how other people believe, as it builds my appreciation for the knowledge I have.


LDS Missionary Service

When President Thomas S. Monson announced the eligibility of 18-year old men and 19-year old women to serve missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there was definitely a charge of emotion and reaction that swept through the Conference Center and throught the world.

On television, they showed one young man sitting next to his mother who looked stunned and paralyzed.



They then showed a group of young women after the announcement and they were looking at each other giddy, as if Justin Bieber had just given them a peck on the forhead.



Women are so much better than men. So more willing to serve and so much happier to do it. Thank you for being the way you are.


Call Me Maybe (After Conference is Over)

This might be the best thing since the last Call Me Maybe video. 


When Gina and I went to the BYU game a few weeks ago, they played this song over the speakers. The guy  behind us was telling his brother, "I want to hate this song, but I just can't - it's too good!". Funny.



"We ask you to contribute just a little more"

In watching the replay of the Presidential Debate that was held in Denver a few months back I'm getting really annoyed with President Obama's sly suggestion that in order to increase revenue he is "asking that those of us who have done very well in this country contribute a little bit more to reduce the deficit". Seriously, this makes me want to throw up. What he really means is: "We want to steal more of your money to make up for corrupt decisions that include endless war, the federal reserve, and foreign aid."


A recurring theme in The Book of Mormon is that wicked kings loved to tax people heavily to be "supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which (the king) had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity." Mosiah 11:6

King Benjamin said: "And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne..." Mosiah 2:14.

King Noah did: "And he laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their ziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain." Mosiah 11:3

King Noah is known as the most wicked king in The Book of Mormon and he only taxed 20%. Add up all the taxes we pay in different forms today and many pay over 50% in tax. (This is not even addressing corporate income tax rates and estate taxes)

The federal income tax is used to pay off debt to the Federal Reserve Banking system, which is not affiliated with the government at all. It is a private bank that literally prints money out of thin air, lends this worthless paper to the US government, who then pays back the money with interest. They get the money to pay back interest from federal income tax.

All the government services that we depend on such as Social Security, Medicare, schools, construction of roads, etc. are paid for with other taxes (gasoline tax, sales tax, property taxes, etc, etc). The federal income tax started in 1913 at 1%, and now????

My question to those who read this is: Do you feel a sense of pride paying taxes? Do you think it is your civic duty to pay federal income tax? Or do you feel that our tax code is corrupt and something that we should be more aggressively trying to amend through proper channels? Let me know your thoughts.

The Great Debate

I'm trying really hard not to be cynical, so I won't be. Tonight was the first presidential debate between Brother Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama (that I have yet to watch). I just wanted to pass along a thought from my co-worker from the south. What she said cracked me up. She was expressing her confusion as to what to do with regard to her vote when she said, "I'm from the south, and I'm supposed to choose between a black man and a Mormon?" I don't think I've ever considered that southern dilemma before.

For those of you who fight back and forth and stick up for your candidate while knocking down the other, these are for you. :) Don't get too excited about either one, because they're backed by the same banks.



Gh...Gh...Gh...Ghosts!

My wife was telling me about the adventures of book club. I'm fascinated by a woman's need to socialize and also read. Book club is like the food's version of peanut butter and jelly. Perfect match. She mentioned that one of the women there believes her house is haunted with a friendly ghost. Like Casper I presume.


I won't delve into my opinion of ghosts who haunt houses, but what I will say is for me, talking about ghosts at 11:30 at night before I go to bed is not what I want to be doing. Sharks, airplanes, and scary movies are three of my least favorite things. When my wife started talking about ghosts last night for some reason I got a little weirded out and asked her to stop. She kept going for a few more seconds so I made her come and wait outside in the hallway by the bathroom while I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed. I was not going out there alone! You kidding me? I don't care if it is only 3 1/2 feet from our bedroom. I didn't want to have any other worldly encounters.


Only in Provo, maybe?

Leaving the BYU Football game at 9:40 pm - pitch black - we saw a mother in the grass next to the stadium changing her baby's diaper.



Does any other fan base take infants to a college football game? The poor kids get their eardrums blasted out and have to stay up late. Let them sleep! Now, I'm not completely opposed to parents bringing three week old kids to games, I can understand. They probably couldn't find a babysitter or have never left their baby with anyone. BUT, the guy behind me at the game can't understand why people do it. His thoughts? "I would commit suicide before I brought a baby to a football game".  A little extreme - especially since I don't like it when people joke about suicide and killing themselves - but probably a popular opinion.


Fruit Snacks and The Mormon Church

Hypothetically speaking, let's say you had a one year old who would not allow you to sit through Sacrament Meeting, or Sunday School, or Priesthood/Relief Society. How many packages of fruit snacks would it take to keep her happy during a three hour block if I were to give her a fruit snack every thirty seconds?



Calculation would be: # or fruit snacks in each package x packages of fruit snacks x 2 x 180, right? Well, my little darling is a little too young to not choke on fruit snacks so instead I let her make a wonderful mess with graham crackers.



I really don't think God intended for children to go to church. There's a reason they're baptized at 8 right? I assume Joseph Smith was mistaken when he prayed to know if little children should got to church. He thought God said "Nursery". He really said " No siree".