Monday, December 31, 2012

The End Of 2012

The end of the year has come and it's already the final post of this great year.  When I typed my first post an entire year seemed quite long but I wanted so badly to write about and focus on the positive things that happen in our lives.  My intention was to talk about the good things that people are doing and the touching acts of kindness that would impact my life and the lives of those around me.  I hope that I have sufficiently displayed that there is a lot of good going on and that just because our society highlights many of the negative things doesn't mean that those are the only things that are really happening.
Take every opportunity to seek out the joyous things of life and go out of your way to do something for somebody else that will bring the love and true happiness into their life.  It not only blesses the person that you serve but your life is also blessed for your kindness.
I end this year with an experience of my own.
Not too long ago a man approached me.  This was a man who by the world's standards was poor and without anything of worth.  His clothes were tattered and the filth of his way of living was obvious.  That didn't matter at all to me.  He needed something and I listened to him as he uttered the desires of his heart.  He was hungry and he asked for some money to purchase a meal that would satisfy him for a time.  I gladly gave.  His response was sincere and he walked away.  My mind thought about many things with regards to this lonely man.  I thought about his way of life.  He understood poverty but not just because he had no food to eat, it ran much deeper.  Did he have a family who was living this sad way of life or was he literally all alone?  These were the thoughts that raced through my mind.
In 2013, I ask that each of us please try to do everything in our power to help in every way we can.  Let it not be a question of whether you can help rather the opportunity to help where you can.  Even a tiny bit of help goes a long way.
Welcome to the end of 2012 and welcome to a new year of refreshment and newness.  It's going to be a fantastic year and the blessings that we see will be life-changing. 
I love my life!  Thanks for spending a small part of my life with me through this daily work.  It's truly blessed my life.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wrap Your Arms Around

My heart is tender toward our family, Becky and our four children specifically, because of an unfortunate situation here in our neighborhood.  I feel strongly about stating the fact that the time we spend together as families is a real thing.  It should be something that we do because we want to strengthen family relationships and we want those relationships to be the greatest ones we have.  You never know what tomorrow will bring.  I'm not saying that we ever live in fear that something expected may happen rather be prepared so that when something does happen our relationships are strong and intact.
I have receieved a clear reminder of this while making a couple of good visits this evening.  Becky and I sat and visited with our children and put our arms around them and expressed our love for them. 
Take the time to let your family know that you care about them.  Make sure that they know of your sincere feelings for them. 
I am grateful for this life.  It is well worth living for and the various things that I learn are molding me into the person I am supposed to become. 
We are all important in the sight of a loving Father.  He understands what we think and how we feel.  He is very close by and will help us with anything.  We just need to ask and He will give us answers to those pleas.
Thank Him for all that you have and find contentment in the joys of this mortal journey.  In the end we will be grateful for the endurance that is required of us and the patience we will have learned will be beneficial to us throughout eternity.
Life is worth living.  Life yields grand rewards even through the trials that we are required to overcome.  The eternal award awaits us so lets give our all and do our very best!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's About Being Together

Last night, our family spent the evning enjoying the beautiful Christmas lights at Temple Square, in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was a nice night.  I am always amazed at the love I feel for Becky and our children.  They bring me so much joy and I often wonder what life would be like without them and I offer a prayer of thanks that I have them in my life.
One of the highlights for me was to watch the way that they interact with one another and the outward love and affection that our children show for each other.
I realize that there are many who don't enjoy this blessing that I am talking about but I hope that love with become more prevalent within the homes of everyone and that we will all come to understand that when all is said and done, the family is all that really matters!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Value Of A Laugh

We went for a short drive tonight and our boys, Danny and Brady, were settling in the very back seats of our van to begin a new DVD movie we had just purchased.  Danny says to Brady, "we need to laugh at least a couple of times every day, but today we have already laughed ten times."  It made Becky and I chuckle.  That started a conversation where we expressed our gratitude for happy children.
That brings me to my thought for today.  Different situations in our lives allow us opportunities to make a choice to be happy or to be sad. 
I like the approach that Danny took this evening, "we need to laugh at least a couple of times every day!"
I hope that each of us will choose to be happy even when given the opportunity where we could be justified in being sad.  Happiness is a great thing!  Choose today to wear a smile on your face and be the happy person you are destined to be.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Year Is Winding Down

I awakened this morning to the gentle snowfall here in Magna, Utah.  I peered out the kitchen window and felt extremely grateful for the freedom that exists where we live.  I watched the snow as it fell to the ground and I felt gratitude to live in a place where I can enjoy each season of the year.  My mind remembered the days long ago when I worked out in the cold and the snow as a very young boy.  Even though it was cold and less desirable I learned the value of dedicated hard work in my life.  I love to think of those memories because those were shared alongside my older brother Brant.  We made some really good memories together.
It boggles my mind that this year has come and gone so swiftly.  It has been filled with joy and happiness.  The happenings of each day has brought a smile to my face and I have come to recognize the goodness that exists in my life and the great things others are doing to make this world a better place.
Our family has grown a lot and the things that they have taught me are beyond measure. 
There are still a few great days left this year and I plan on getting the very most out of every single one.  The new year will bring with it some different opportunities that will uplift and strengthen us all.
Look to the new year with optimism and the good is exactly what you'll find.  I love all of you whether I know you or not.  I hope that you find as much in life as I do.  Life is a journey of happiness and great joy!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Prayer From The Heart

An experience happened today that  both brightened and enlightened my heart.  Our young niece volunteered to pray a blessing on the food.  She is a cute girl and her heart is like other children her age, pure as gold.  In her blessing there was one part that touched my heart to the very core and was a blatant reminder for me in my own life.  "Please bless us that we will remember how much we love each other."  I have thought about those words the remainder of the evening.
Look inside your own families and although the dynamic is very interesting from family to family there exists the ability and the desire to have active love.  I hope that it will be the desire of us all to "remember how much we love each other," because we do.  If there are things that are amiss within your own circle of 'family' then do what is necessary to repair and make right.
Life is too short!
I will always remember that clear piece of wisdom that was spoken from the lips of a young and innocent child.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The True Meaning


What an incredible time of the year it is.  With the celebration of the birth of the Savior, even Jesus Christ, comes the hope of goodness and light. 

"As I have loved you, Love one another. This new commandment: Love one another. By this shall men know Ye are my disciples, If ye have love One to another."

He is the greatest gift we have ever been given by our loving Heavenly Father.  I hope that this Christmas day will be exactly what you hoped it would be.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

It has been such a great night!  I really enjoy Christmas Eve and the family festivities that go on.  We spent the evening with Becky's parents and her brother's family.  We shared a nice meal together and then enjoyed opening gifts from each other.  We sang together and we felt of the love we have as a family.

There is great joy that comes from the valuable times we spend strengthening our family bonds.  I am a richly blessed man and I give thanks for all that I have.  It just doesn't get any better than this.

May your Christmas be filled with joy and may this time of hope and happiness bless your life.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

We Can Count On Him

I sat in church today and was able to enjoy some really nice feelings.  One of those feelings came during a lesson where the discussion was about a talk given in General Conference of the LDS Church this past October.  One part of his talk touched me and I felt it appropriate to share.

"We have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord.  My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty."  (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland~ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles)

The Savior, Jesus Christ is the One that we should look to at every moment of our lives.  It is He who brought about the opportunity for us to live again with our loving Father.  He did all that He did because He loves us.  I love Him!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Temple Is Peace

We attended a performance where Laurel and Natalie were both participants.  It's their annual performance at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was a nice evening with very nice music.  We listened and were reminded of this season of the year.  Following the performance, we were reminded of the temple and what it represents to us as a family.  We took a couple of pictures to remind us continually that the temples of God can always be with us.



I am very grateful for the meaning of the temple in my life.  If we will keep the promises we made with God in the temple, our family is promised that we will live together, forever, after this life.  The joy that we felt just the other night at the performance, and every other day, will be ours for eternity. 
What a blessing that is!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sing Out Loud

I went to the grocery store and as soon as I got out of my car I could hear a man singing a Christmas song.  It sounded quite good and I wondered where it came from.  The closer I got to the entrance of the store I soon realized that the singing came from the voice of the older gentleman ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.  He rang the small bell and sang along with a smile on his face.  I wanted to sing along with him.  His voice brought a smile to my face.
His simple approach to the Christmas season was contagious.
Music has an immediate impact on any situation.  During this Christmas season make music an integral part.  You too will find yourself smiling.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Personal Revelation

Nope, this is not Sunday school class but I did want to share an experience that touched me and helped me realize that my own life is filled with the 'tender mercies' of someone who really cares about me and is well aware of my existence.
Each person is of worth and there are qualities that we all have that are divine and eternal.
I was at the store and I stopped to think about one of the reasons I was there when I spotted a woman who was a little 'down on her luck'.  I watched her for a few minutes and then the thought came to my mind that she somehow needed to know she was important and that somebody really cared about her on that particular time, and in that specific place.  I contemplated how I would communicate that to her when I didn't know her at all.  I mustered the cvourage to approach her and as I did so her head lifted and her face looked at mine.  I said hello to her and began some small talk with her.  She wasn't quick to talk to me but she did a little.  I finally found a good spot in the conversation to tell her that she had someone who loved her very much and that her Heavenly Father knew what she was experiencing.  She nodded her agreement and verbalized her knowledge of what I said.  It was a good thing for me to think about and to better understand that God is aware of all of our lives.  He loves us and wants us to be happy.  It is because of His love that I feel important and needed in all that I do.  Things are revealed each and every day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Picture

A picture gives a visual and allows the mind to clearly understand a concept or idea.  I have loved this picture of Jesus and it gives me a clear understanding of my simple recognition of Him.

When I was a boy we would go to Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah and I loved to see 'The Christus' statue.  I found it to be beautiful and you can get a small idea of it's importance just by the picture.  Many of you have seen this and understand what I'm talking about.
I am thankful with every passing day that we have someone who understands clearly the struggles that we face and also knows of the joys that life gives to us.

Life is wonderful and it's richness brings a smile to my face!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It Means Alot

A recent conversation revealed the reality that a person I know doesn't feel like his life is worth all that much. 
I don't know about the rest of you but I believe that my life is everything!
It is worth the few minutes to me to express some of the things that make life truly valuable and worth living for. 
David Letterman has made famous his Top Ten List and I felt it appropriate to verbalize my own Top Ten Reasons Why My Life Rocks.

10.  I awaken every morning and get to enjoy the beauty of the world around me.
  9.  My health is good and I can see, hear, smell and taste.
  8.  I can feel the love of my family and those others who are close to me.
  7.  I have a home that is filled with love and harmony and where peace and safety dwell.
  6.  The act of gratitude brings peace and perspective to everything life has to offer.
  5.  Our parents.  They have taught and continue to teach me every single day that being a good boy is the best way to be!
  4.  Our four children: Natalie, Laurel, Brady, and Danny.  They are a joy to me personally.
  3.  I have Becky who loves me and cares for me more than any other person I know.  She brings me comfort and a lot of happiness.
  2.  Jesus Christ is my Savior and it is only through Him that I can return to the presence of my Father.  What He did for me allows me to fix the mistakes that I make and become stronger through the trials of life.
  1.  There is a clear and divine plan laid out by a loving Heavenly Father that allows    
perspective and direction.

I love my life and it is because of the experiences of my life that I am the person today who is trying to do what is right and trying to make continuous progress. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Blessing Of Children

We can read in the scriptures about the importance of children.  I look around and I am grateful for our own children and the gifts and talents they have.  I read a small piece  about children in the Bible, written by a woman who is a member of the Methodist Church.  It was nicely worded and I liked it a lot.

"Children were often inserted into Bible stories as objects to make a point to adults. Even our favorite stories about children who became great leaders, such as Moses and Jesus, were written long after the fact to make a strong case for their leadership."  (J. Ann Craig)

I love to watch what children do and to interact with them is a treat!
When I was serving as a full-time missionary for the LDS church I was assigned to a city where there were a lot of children at church.  I quickly learned that the children were my greatest allie when it came to learning the Dutch language because they are honest and would tell me if I was saying something wrong.  I did learn that their indication of my errors was through laughter.  That was okay and I appreciated their honesty.
I am grateful for the children in our lives.  I love our four children more than words can describe.  My life is trully blessed because of their love and the talents they share with me.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

'Go Fish"

There is a card game that I have played literally thousands of times.  I played when I was young and I play it currently as an adult.
This card game can be played with multiple people and the pace of the game is dictated by the players themselves not by some sort of timer.  It is a relaxing game that doesn't require much 'brain power' and the best thing about it is that you can learn it when you are very young.
I have played 'Go Fish' with each of our children since they were little kids and have loved every minute of it.
Our youngest son Danny asked me if I wanted to play a game of cards with him.  I told him that I would love to play with him.  "Dad, what do you want to play?"  My reply was simple.  "Go Fish!"
We shuffled the cards really good and dealt out five cards to each of us and the enjoyment began there.  We played several games of this and visited along the way.  It was a fun time and I stored some additional good times in my memory bank of life.  What a life I have.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Memories In The Making

The time we spend with our families is valuable and at times seems extremely hard to come by with the hectic schedules and the various activities of life.  I am the most happy when we can be together and not really do anything at all.
I recall a specific time I had as a boy.  It seemed like a normal day around our house.  My older brother and I were riding our bikes and trying hard to learn to 'pop-a-wheely'.  We would ride up one side of the street and begin to pull up hard on the handle bars of our bikes to lift the front wheel off the ground.  To pop-a-wheely requires some coordination but then to 'ride-a-wheely' is in a complete other realm of imaginary possibilities.  We tried over and over and got to where we could pop a darned good wheely but never being able to master the riding a wheely part.
That time spent with my brother was very simple but enjoyable nonetheless.  It is the quality of time not necessarily quantity.  I have many memories just like that one.  We have tried to keep things simple but it doesn't always work out the way we planned it to be.
The time we spend together will ultimately make some of life's greatest memories.  Keep making them!

Friday, December 14, 2012

We Can Do It

It's a busy time of the year but it also is one of my favorite times. I love Christmas and the holiday cheer that accompanies it. I am grateful for the hustle and bustle that becomes a part of the celebration but I try to keep in perspective the 'Reason for the Season'.
Let me share an experience that illustrates my love for the season. Many years ago I was privileged to be a small part of an act of generosity that my friends and I knew would uplift a needy family. The act was not to pat ourselves on the back rather to bring some joy to a family that would have otherwise not come. Like each one of you it feels good to do something for somebody else. There isn't another feeling quite like it. I was overjoyed on that particular day but every time I think about it a feeling of happiness overcomes me.
We help because we want to bring joy to someone else. We serve because it's the right thing to do. We feel better when we lift the spirits of somebody else.
I am thankful for this time of year and I hope that you will too.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

There Are Always 'Firsts'

Tonight was a night of a 'first' that doesn't even seem possible to me.  Danny and I went and watched Brady play in his first church basketball game.  He has been waiting for this time to come for sometime and it finally got here.
There are a lot of boys on the team and everybody got a chance to play and enjoy the game.  I watched Brady and thought about how quickly time has sped by since I was his age and was experiencing the same fun time that he is currently having.
This is just one of many other 'firsts' in life.  I am thankful for these times and I hope that I will always enjoy 'the moment' that these experiences offer.
Life is full of wonderful moments and I challenge everybody who reads this to take the time to enjoy the journey of the many moments that bless your life.
It was a joy to watch the happiness and contentment that Brady wore on his face.  He was in the moment and the memories he made tonight with be life-long ones.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Uplifting Moments

In the LDS church, we have opportunity to visit assigned families every month. It is the responsibility of two men to check on and take care of specific needs that may arise with a particular family. I am assigned a companion who is devout and has the sincere desire to do his duty as a 'home teacher'. I have always had a good example of what a home teacher should do because my dad was faithful in his responsibility as a home teacher.
I visited a home where a single woman lives. My companion was unable to go on this particular visit so I went and made the visit alone. It was a meaningful visit for me. It is amazing to me that there are many things there are to learn and with a little bit of effort, these things are learned and my life is enriched.
My membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is important to me. I value all that there is to learn and the potential growth opportunities that await as I strive to do my duty.
I am thankful for the opportunity to visit those individuals and families that have been assigned to me and my companion.
My life is fuller when I serve those around me. It is through service for my family that my life is as good as it can be. I am so thankful for them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

He Cares For Me

There are the words from a favorite song that explain a few truths that have blessed my life.  As I walked out the door today I couldn't help but think of the love that my Heavenly Father has for me and each of His children.

My Heavenly Father Loves Me

Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by our lilac tree,
I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heav'nly Father created for me.

He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him rev'rently
For all his creations, of which I'm a part.
Yes, I know Heav'nly Father loves me.

(Words and music: Clara W. McMaster)

Knowledge blesses my life and the specific knowledge that there is a Father who loves me more than I can even conceive.  He gives me a glimpse of that every day that I'm alive.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Light is refreshing and it brings hope into life. I have always enjoyed being in 'the light' rather than in the dark. The brightness fills my soul with happiness and joy. When I was a young kid I recall a time when I was with a group of kids around my same age. I recall that we were in a dark place (The basement to a home that was under construction. It was still in the framing stage.) and I had a dreary feeling about being there. I distinctly remember how I felt and I even mentioned that I felt a little uncomfortable. One of the kids told me to quit being a 'sissy' and don't worry about that stupid feeling I was having. When we finally abandoned the home and headed toward our own homes I felt grateful to be out in the light and to feel better about where I was.
On a number of occasions, I have felt the darkness that is experienced when I was not in a place where I shold have been. I have spent most of my life in the light that is joyful. When we're in the light our lives are blessed immensely. The direction we can gain is more than we can comprehend. Life is everything we hope it will be when we grasp onto the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This life is our opportunity of love given from the hands of a loving God. Stay in the light and everything else will take care of itself.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Great Day For A Few Reasons



Hooray! It snowed. Some of you are thinking to yourself, "Why is he excited?"
I have to say that it is a known fact that during this time of the year, it is supposed to snow in Utah and I'm grateful for it.

Okay, on to the thought of the day. Our family attended church today but we went to a different building to watch the program that the 'Madrigals' (the high school choir that Natalie is a part) put on in sacrament meeting. It was very well done and I was grateful to be there to listen to the vocal talents of these young people.

I love music and the universal language that it is. The spirit of Christmas is felt from the songs that are shared. I looked around the chapel on a few different occasions and observed the looks on the people's faces as they listened and enjoyed the songs that were performed.

This is a wonderful time of the year! It is a time of reflection and gratitude. It allows each of us to take a personal inventory of who we are and what we are trying to accomplish.

I banter back and forth with a co-worker. He is a 'glass half empty' type of personality and I try to be a 'glass half full'. Anyway I have stated many times to him that the future is bright. He gives me a look of doubt every time I say it but I firmly believe that the future looks bright in many ways. I feel extremely blessed and I know that we will continue to blessed for our good efforts. Optimism is a powerful tool. It's that outlook that brings hope for the things that are yet to come. Optimism is contagious. The fresh snow blanketed the Salt Lake valley today. Optimism can be just like the snow. There is brightness, hope, and a feeling of 'I can do it!' This is the season of hope. It is because of the reason for the season that we gain our greatest hope of all.

Life is great!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hard Work And Determination

A good night's rest is a wonderful thing!  Yesterday we worked hard to get some necessary things done in our yard before the snow falls.

During a conversation this week I spoke with a man who expressed his opinion about work with regards to his children.  Our viewpoints differ on the importance that our children learn what hard work is and that they participate in it often.  I listened as he spoke of the fact that they would have to work their whole lives and that they shouldn't be burdened with it while in their youth.  After he said that he began to share with me his frustration with the way his children currently live their lives.  I couldn't help but think about the absence of learning to work in their lives when they were young.  As grown people they were  now lazy and unwilling to do any more than was actually required--the bare minimum.

I am personally grateful for hard work and the satisfaction I receive by accomplishing the various tasks that are a part of every day life.

"In all labour there is profit..." (Proverbs 14:23)

I love the parable that the Savior teaches in the New Testament.  This account teaches us the pure value of hard work.

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.  Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?  So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Matthew 20:1-16)
Going back to the discussion I had with this man, we will be better suited and prepared to take on the many influences of the world and accomplish all that is required in our lives if we will learn how to work and then teach our children the importance of it also.  It has always been a desire for Becky and I to know that our children know how to work hard and are confident to do anything that is required to live a good and productive life.
It's a great life!  I'm thankful for every single day.  I hope that this finds everybody well.

Friday, December 7, 2012

December 7, 1941

In the United States, we remember that it was 71 years ago that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  Many lives were lost that day so we remember those who perished and those who lived and were deemed heroes.

Pearl Harbor survivor Stu Hedley, 91, left, salutes, as Doyle McKee is thanked for his service by Rebecca Shaffner during the annual Pearl Harbor Day Remembrance Ceremony aboard the USS Midway Museum's flight deck in San Diego.

Pearl Harbor survivor Stu Hedley, 91, left, salutes, as Doyle McKee is thanked for his service by Rebecca Shaffner during the annual Pearl Harbor Day Remembrance Ceremony aboard the USS Midway Museum's flight deck in San Diego.

I am so grateful for all of the veterans, both men and women, who served and continue to serve our country so faithfully so that we are able to enjoy the many freedoms that we have.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Around The World

Anyone that knows me very well understands that I love the game of basketball.  These days my love is primarily for basketball on the driveway at our home with our kids. 
Our oldest son Brady really enjoys the game and we love to 'shoot around' together.  Yesterday we purchased a brand new basketball and Brady asked if I wanted to play a game of 'around the world'.  For those who are unfamiliar with this specific game I will briefly explain that it is a game where players must make a shot in the basket from designated spots on the basketball court determined by the players.  The first player to successfully make all of the shots is the winner.  I struggled in the beginning and Brady was doing very well.  It got to be my turn again and I began shooting and making all of the shots that we had pre-determined needed to be made. 
This game reminded me a little bit like life itself.  There are times when we seem to struggle to make things work out the way we hope they will.  However, there are also those times when everything we do seems to go 'just right'.
I was in the grocery store last evening and I noticed a group of young people.  I watched them for a little while because I was in the same places they were to get the few items I needed to purchase.  A woman in a handicap cart dropped an item from the basket on her cart.  Without hesitation one of the young people reached down and picked up the dropped item.  That wasn't the part that impressed me the most it was the smile that accompanied the simple act of service.  I think the woman was a little shocked by the act of kindness from the young man but she smiled in return.  I think that there are many days when the woman in the cart feels like life will never give her a break but the simple and kind act of somebody else helped her immensely.
A life lesson was taught to me while playing a game on the driveway with our son.  No matter what we face in life we need to be strong and continue to face the challenges that will come.  Sometimes there will be people who lend their help to us and other times we will be able to do it on our own.  Just keep plugging along and life will be rich!  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I Heard The Bells

Music has long played an enriching part of my life.  From the time I was a young boy I remember that we sang and enjoyed great music together.  At this Christmas season I enjoy hearing and singing the Christmas praises.  One such hymn is entitled "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."  It has been a favorite of mine for a long time.  I want to share a verse from this song.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
Somewhere down the hallways of history there is the desire to have 'peace on earth and good will to men'.  In many ways we do enjoy such a blessing.  I hope that the goal is to foster a feeling of 'peace on earth' inside the walls of our own homes.  The world creates chaos in our lives and in the lives of our children.  If we will strive harder than ever before to create a haven of peace and safety then there has been before then an increase of confidence and self-worth will prevail.
The bells of Christmas are sounding all around.  Those same bells will penetrate into our hearts an unwavering feeling of peace.  Merry Christmas to you and may the spirit of the Savior radiate in your hearts all the day through. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Being A Gracious Receiver

I was reminded of the importance of being gracious in my life.  That one principle is extremely vital in order to more fully understand the very essence of who each of us are and what we are ultimately destined to become. 
The story is told of a young girl who was overjoyed by the reality that the precious hand-made gift she had made for her aunt would surely thrill her on the receipt of it.  She anticipated the giving of such a gift and hoped that her excitement would be proof enough of the intense effort she had given.  The long awaited time came for her to give.  She handed the gift and set it into her aunt’s hands.  Her aunt scowled at the simple gift, grabbed it with her one finger and thumb as if it was something disgusting.  She wrinkled her brow and a strange expression enveloped her face.  She dropped it to the ground and walked away to talk to somebody else who was in the room.  The girl was devastated by the lack of interest shown on behalf of her auntie.  Many years passed by and the remembrance of such ingratitude remained freshly engrained in the mind of the grown up girl.
At this time of year may each of us have the desire to be more grateful for the simplicities of our life.  It matters not the size of the gift or the cost of the item but rather the thought and effort put into the giving of it.  Christmas will be more meaningful and our lives will be completely enriched. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

He Is Our Light

You guessed it, because this is a month of celebration and remembrance of the birth of the Christ child I would like to speak of this topic for a few moments.
There is hustling and bustling all around and the season of 'gifts of plenty' and beautiful lights and delicious food is upon us.  The family Christmas parties bring to life the very Spirit of the season.  We are surrounded by the commercialization and the excitement of kids receiving the gifts they so badly anticipate.  It is a lot of fun to be around and we feel the 'buzz' of all that is happening about us.
The part that I love the very most is the spirit of one person helping another.  An extended hand to the less-fortunate.  The kind word or gesture to the down-trodden.  The freshly baked goodies that are given to the very simple in heart.  The end result of our holiday experience will directly coordinate with our own personal effort to help lift another.
Our Example came to this earth and clearly showed us the way that we should go.  It is He who walked among the simple of heart.  It was they who benefited most by His outward display of pure love and affection.  It was He who served them and it was that same Jesus who brought about miracles to the 'children of men'.
During this Christmas season may each of us remember who He truly is and His purpose to come and save all mankind.  He is our Brother.  He is the Master.  It is by Him, and of Him that each one of us can one day enjoy the blessings of eternity which includes the return to our Father's presence, if we will do our part and keep His commandments.
Enjoy what today has to offer.  He is the way, the truth, and the life!  Our lives are blessed because of His coming.  It is during this time of year that we are reminded of His important role in the Plan of Redemption that has been given to us.
The hustling and bustling that occurs will take on better meaning if we will remember the 'reason for the season'.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

You've Obviously Worked In Labor

I met a man at the University of Utah who was busy completing his custodial duties.  I asked him how he was doing and he responded in a friendly manner.  I thanked him for his efforts in keeping the restrooms clean and the other surroundings very tidy.  His response, "you've obviously worked as a laborer."  I told him that I still was.
That led into a very sweet conversation with this man named Jim.  He was intelligent and very bright.  He spoke nicely--borderline beautiful.  His language was refined and he spoke as one who legitimately knew what he was talking about.  I guess that he was in his late fifties or early sixties.
We talked about life and the experiences that helped to shape us into the men we are today.  He asked me if I felt that a janitor meant he was unsuccessful?  I told him that I felt just the opposite.  "it takes everybody in this world," I told him.  
There are some remarkable people.  I love the vast knowledge that is had by many who are 'overlooked'.
It was a pleasure to talk to Jim and to hear of his feelings.  There are many among us who just need someone to listen.  I hope to always be that person.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Orientation For School

It's official, I am attending orientation at the University of Utah.  I am really excited to be going to school and to help better life and learning.  
I am one of about three hundred 'transfer students who will begin school for the spring semester.
There have been some really good things spoken about.  I have been sitting between a man and a woman--the woman majoring in Biomedical Engineering and the man in journalism.  Our conversations have been motivating and I appreciate the comfort that I feel when talking with other people.
I have a 'hill' to climb but this is well worth the effort that is required and I know we can do it. I want our children to know how important this is and I hope that they will possess a sincere desire to go to college and to create more opportunities for themselves and their families.
Learning is a beautiful thing!  To stimulate our minds is part of the Plan.  I am thankful for this opportunity to go and I appreciate the support of my lovely wife, Becky.  Thanks for your support and your confidence in me--it is apparent that many don't have what you and I enjoy.  I love you very much!
Have I ever expressed how much I love my life?  Well, I do!