Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Elections and Hate

Two days ago in my Spanish Classes I had the opportunity to share with my students my feelings on the (then) upcoming election. As students came into class I had them make lists of all the reasons they don't like people. Many students expressed their dislike for this task, saying it was mean. As we compiled a list of undesirable characteristics we wrote down things like liars, cheaters, haters, hypocrites, being mean, jealous and on and on. After reading through the list I asked students what was not on the list. After a few puzzling moments a bright student spoke up, "who we vote for". Other students started to catch the idea and began saying things like, "what religion we are" or "what our political views are". We compiled a list and discussed how it is OK to disagree with someone's political view and still like them. Not surprisingly, almost every student understood and agreed with this point. So why am I sharing this with you? Because I couldn't finish. What I wanted to say isn't allowed.

"And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept." Moses 7:28

Towards the end of the Book of Moses, we get to see a glimpse into a vision that the Prophet Enoch had. In the vision Enoch see's everything from Adam down to the end of the world. At one point in the vision we see a perfect glorified God of heaven weeping over his creations. We all have the same question that Enoch asked, "How is it that thou canst weep?"

As I read the answer that followed, my mind tried to understand. My heart drooped low as I read all the reasons. Then something jumped out at me. I thought to myself, "what is not there?" "Why didn't God weep?"

When God answers Enoch he doesn't say "I'm weeping because of who they voted for President", or "Can't you see how many liberals there are?" or even "How can they pass a gun control law like that?" No, what he says is

"Behold these thy bretheren, (I have) given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood".

What a damning accusation. Apparently what makes the God of the heavens weep is not political affiliation or ignorant voters, but hate. Hatred of your fellow man (or woman) for whatever reason you could imagine. Just think, as a parent you teach your children to love each other, how sad it must be when not only can they not get along but they hate their own blood.

So, I am not worked up about who won the election or how will I ever survive this next for years. I am, however, very concerned about how we have treated each other in the moments following the results. Hatred is never OK. Not when someone insults us or disagrees, not when we believe someone to be a terrible person and especially not when they happen to vote for a candidate whom you despise.

Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and more noble life."

I believe that this stands especially true when we called to defend those who disagree with us or even those who hate and spew hatred. We will not make change in our neighbor or in our brother by hatred. One can only lift a bruised and beaten and mistaken brother with love, kindness and understanding. One single president cannot change that who we are or who we become. 320 million can.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Father and a Mother

I wrote this a couple years ago I hope you all enjoy!

You wanted rough hands to touch you as the doctors poked you with needles and so God gave you a Father.
You wanted soft skin to cuddle you until you were asleep so God gave you a Mother.
You wanted someone to toss you around and make you giggle so God gave you a Father.
You wanted someone to kiss you better better when daddy tossed you too high and so God gave you a Mother.
You wanted strong arms to hold you at night when you'd had a bad dream so God gave you a Father.
You wanted a pair of hands that could gently carress you back to sleep so God gave you a Mother.
You wanted someone to tell you that you were the best so God gave you a Father.
You wanted someone to hug you and tell you things would get better, when they hadn't been the best. So God gave you a Mother.
You need to know what you can become; God is your Father
You need to know how you can get there: You also have a Heavenly Mother

Friday, March 8, 2013

Digging Post Holes and the 11th Hour

"Pray always that you may come off conqueror". Especially when you are trying to dig a hole through frozen clay. - Deej & C 10:5

A few weeks ago we got a letter from our HOA telling us we couldn't have our dog outside without a fence. So we started looking at fences. After shopping around a bit, we decided that our cheapest option was to order the materials and put the fence in ourselves. Lucky for me, my awesome brother Sean, just got a job with best vinyl and knew everything there is to know about putting up a fence.
So last Friday I went to digging post-holes. With a shovel and a mattock. And a hand-post-hole digger. I had hoped that I could knock each hole out in about 30 minutes. 2 hours after I had started I had dug 15 inches into the ground. I went to bed disappointed but hopeful that I could rent a 2 man gas auger in the morning and give it a try again.
I woke up Saturday morning and gave Sean a call. He agreed to come over and help me out. We got right to digging, hoping that the frost line would only be about 6-10 inches and we could finish the Job in less than 30 minutes. I figured that would give me plenty of time to shower up and go to a baptism at noon. Progress was extremely slow. We measured every couple of minutes and saw that we were only moving along at about 1 inch every minute. "No big deal", we thought. After all, only a few inches and we should be through the frost. Wrong. We kept digging. After about 20 minutes of digging, our hole was about 18 inches deep. We kept thinking the next inch would break us through the frost and we could move on to the next hole. At about 20 inches we finally broke the frost line and the auger chewed up the last 4 inches plus an extra 4 in about 3 seconds. There was much rejoicing. Seriously, we started high-fiving each other and whooping and hollering. We excitedly moved on to the next hole (the one that I had dug 15" out already), knowing that we only needed to reach about 18-20 inches and we would be home free. 10 or so minutes later we had busted through another hole the hollering and hi-fiving continued. We took the auger to the third hole and started to work. Our hands were sore and our shoulders ached, but we knew just how far we had to go, and knowing that gave us strength to finish the job. The 3rd hole took another 20 minutes and  we pumped our fists as we moved to the last hole. We still had 45 minutes until we needed to return the auger and I had to go to the baptism. Plenty of time to do the last hole. We started digging but we started to hit what felt like cement at about 5 inches. I got down in the mud to see what we were hitting. It was the same frozen clay, but for some reason the auger just wasn't getting deeper. We got back on the auger and started trying to dig. Our hands were killing us but we kept pushing, we had to finish this last whole. We pulled the auger out and measured again after 2 minutes. Still 5 inches. We both felt desperate. After all we had dug for nearly 2 minutes, our hands were stiff and we saw NO progress. I checked my watch. We still had 30 minutes. We kept digging. Another 5 minutes passed and we measured again. 6 inches. Frustrated, we pulled the auger out and tried to think of what to do next. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, we needed to try something different. After resting a minute I checked my watch and saw that we had about 20 minutes left and still at least 20 inches to dig. We had seen almost no progress in the last 10 minutes. I decided it was time for a prayer. We closed our eyes while still holding on to the auger and I quietly asked Heavenly Father to help us dig the rest of the hole out before I had to go to the baptism. After the prayer I felt confident that we would reach our goal. I knew that Sean felt the same way, and so despite our pains we pushed even harder trying to dig the last hole. We tried using a hand drill to break up the ground and it seemed to get us about an inch per minute. We would drill with the hand drill for a few seconds and then put the auger back into the whole. I kept checking my watch and knew that we would be cutting it close. With only 5 or so minutes to go we had dug out 20 inches, only 4 more to go. We kept pushing, hoping that any second we would break through the frost and be finished digging the holes. At 21 inches we still hadn't broken the frost and it seemed like we had stopped moving again. I wondered if we would make the deadline. I though back on our prayer and it had seemed like the digging had actually gotten harder since we prayed! I thought about quitting and finishing later. I had to go to the baptism and the auger had to be returned. We got to 22 inches and still hadn't broken through. I asked Sean if the hole was deep enough to make it work. He said we still needed to get those last two inches. We pushed as hard as we could, putting all our weight on the auger. I grunted. My hands throbbed. "We can't make it", I thought, "I have to go." I looked at Sean and his determined look made me push on. "It's always darkest before the dawn", he said. "We are almost there." 23 inches. Why the heck have we not broken through this stinking permafrost? Suddenly the auger stalled for a split second and it finally broke the frozen clay. We yelled and hollered  and then quickly cleaned up. We were finally done.
As I got dressed and ready for the baptism I reflected on our little experience. I wondered why it had taken so long to dig that last hole, even after we had prayed in faith. Shouldn't we have been able to dig it in just a few minutes? Why had it actually gotten harder to dig the hole after we prayed? Shouldn't it get easier? As Sean said, "It's always darkest before the dawn." But why? C.S. Lewis asked the same question,
Where is God? . . . When you are happy. . . [you] turn to Him with gratitude and praise, [and] you will be. . . welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You [might] as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. . . . [Yet he was once there.]What can this mean? Why is [God] so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble? 
 Elder Holland explained,
"God wants us to be stronger than we are—more fixed in our purpose, more certain of our commitments, eventually needing less coddling from him, showing more willingness to shoulder some of the burden of his heavy load. In short, he wants us to be more like he is..."
 So maybe when it gets dark in our lives, right before we know the dawn should come, maybe God is trying to make us stronger, maybe he is testing our will to continue on. But, why would an omniscient being need to test our strength, he knows whether or not we will stay the course when the going gets tough. Why does it get harder when it should get easier? I think it is because I don't know how strong I can be. I guess, looking back, that I never knew I could wait more than 2 years to have my little girl. But now I know. Now I know how strong I can be when a trial comes. Now I know that God does come through, even if it is in the last hour. He will be there. "For he will fulfil all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers"  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Taking Responsibility

        "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." Some how in the last 30 years, this morphed into, "There is no failure in the home that can't be blamed on someone else, or that shouldn't be compensated for by the government." I know, it takes a community to raise a child, but here's the caveat, a community can only help raise a child IF real reaching is taking place in the home.  It is not anyone's responsibility but your own to make sure your kid graduates high school and leaves your house knowing at least how to be a productive member of society. 
         Yesterday I had a new teacher meeting during my lunch break. I have these meetings every month and I usually just quietly eat my lunch as my thoughts wander off into space. I leave having learned almost nothing. Luckily my lunch break is only 34 minutes long, so I only wasted 34 minutes of my life. Something was said in yesterday's meeting that upset me. Another first year teacher asked the group how she could help a group of students that would not turn their homework in. Most of the ideas went something like this: "remind them everyday to turn it in so that they know you care". My first instinctive solution is this, "Fail them, so that they know you care." I don't know where other teachers stand on this issue but here is where I stand. It's not my responsibility to make sure your kid succeeds. In fact no matter what I do or how often I remind your child to turn their homework in, I can't make them succeed. I can only give them great opportunities to learn how to succeed. I think that by reminding them every day to turn their homework in, I'm enabling them to be lazy. I'm enabling their parents to not do their job. There is not much I can do if you chose to work 80 hours a week between the two spouses and only left 30 minutes a day to spend with your 3 or 4 kids. 
         So here is where I'm going with this. People love to gripe and complain about our educational system. There are too many lazy teachers who are only doing it for the job security. There are not enough teachers and too many kids. Teachers shouldn't have guaranteed salaries, they should be performance based. Guess what gripers and complainers! Your child's education isn't the public school system's responsibility. It is yours! Spend a little less time working and watching TV and take a little more time to explain to your child the importance of personal accountability. Teach your children that their success or failure in school has little to do with who their teacher is or where they go to school, but has everything to do with their ability to push themselves and with their desire to learn. Kids turning not turning their homework in and being disruptive in class isn't the problem, it's the symptom. The problem is the erosion of the family unit in society and the slow shift of responsibility from the individual to the group. 
       I don't believe that this problem is going to go away. The prophets and apostles have warned us for years that this would happen. They have told us how we can avoid these problems ourselves. I just want to give one piece of advice: Follow the council of the prophets as outlined in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Event the parts you think are outdated and old fashioned.  Here are a few of my favorites: 

HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.  Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.

WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
If we heed these warnings, we will be successful in our families. I know it, I have seen it. 

Laman's 10 things you need to know to be a guy

Need a crash course on being a guy? Whether you're just a girl trying to understanding the male psyche or just David looking add a little testosterone this is your list.

10. Two words: Automatic Iron aka the dryer. Just throw your wrinkled Sunday shirt that you forgot to hang up last Sunday into the dryer and 15 minutes later, vuala your shirt looks perfectly pressed.

9.  College football is not a season, it's a 5 month long religious holiday. Sort of like Hanukkah  but it's only celebrated on Saturdays.

8. Phone conversations should be over in less than 30 seconds flat. The only exception is when talking to females and then your own side of the conversation should be kept to a minimum. Example:
Caller 1: Hey caller 2 did you see that hit?
Caller 2: Yeah that was sweet.
Caller 1: OK, well, I'll talk to you later
Caller 2: OK talk to you later.

7. If it takes you longer than 10 minutes to get ready then there's something wrong. You need to fix it. "Manscara" and "Guyliner" are not acceptable. If your eyelashes are not long enough then just deal with it.
PS - If it takes you a full minute to put your pants on, they are too tight, they're not yours, they're your sister's.

6.  There is always a game on somewhere. August through December is Football season, November through March is Basketball season and April through October is baseball season. The NBA can fill in the only 2 weeks of desolation at the end of March after your team is eliminated from play.

5. Stop Flopping. In life and in sports. Don't pretend like you got knocked over when everyone knows you just fell down.

4. Your wife will let you watch as much baseball as you want if you're just nice to her. Treat her like you should and you can enjoy 164 games a year.

3. Sorry guys but a beer gut (or Dr. Pepper gut) is not acceptable under any circumstances. No matter how many sports you watch there's always time to get up off the couch and lose that extra 15.

Since I wrote this so long ago, it looks like I never finished. So lets go peeps, finish it for me. What are your #2 and #1 things you need to know to be a guy?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Deer Heavenly Father

So last night I knelt down with my wife for prayers and she began as most of us do, Dear Heavenly Father. Now sometimes my mind goes off on tangents and surprise surprise, I thought "Deer Heavenly Father" and I imagined a big buck like the one on Bambi.
Can you imagine if we prayed to a "Deer Heavenly Father"? Could you trust such a being? Maybe, but I don't think that I could. How could I trust something that doesn't understand me. How could I trust something or someone I am not familiar with?
For that moment I was grateful that I say Dear Heavenly Father and not Deer Heavenly Father. It is great to know that God has a body of flesh and bones just like I do. That he isn't some unknowable spirit, but he is a real, loving Father, who understands all my needs. I am especially grateful for the First Vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith and with it, the restoration of the knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father.