Ahh how sweet it is!!

Ahh how sweet it is!! That is how I tend to sum up my life in a few words. Plain and simple, life is wonderful! This site will give you just a sneak peak at my thoughts throughout my life. Love, Mel

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Location: Bountiful, Utah, United States

Monday, January 30, 2006

Remember Who We Are (Delete The Bad Mental Models)

June 29, 2004

Today I began my walk as usual, only without my radio headset, as I wanted to hear what the Lord may have to say to me rather than all the mortal “experts” who have the world figured out. Within the first quarter mile I decided to “take the road less traveled” or, at least, walk my route entirely backwards to see what “aha’s” my new perspective might bring. I discovered a number of things. First, I was more intent on seeing what was around me, not having the radio helped to be sure, but I was seeing things from a different angle, and they were new and original—again I was consumed by love and respect for this beautiful land we live in. Secondly, I found it troublesome to find my way; I even got lost once and took a road that I had never traveled before, all due to the reverse nature of my hike and even though I had been in the same area hundreds of times. No panic set in like that of being lost on the deer hunt in the mountains, but nevertheless I experienced a slight twinge of excitement and my senses were heightened due to the “newness” of my position. Finally, I commenced thinking about perspective and perceptions and how they affect my senses and my life.

I, like everyone else, like to have things figured out and, to a lesser or greater degree, like to rely on perceptions already formed rather that risk the excitement or danger of having to see and judge things as though for the first time. With perceptions of people firm in place, either based on my own first hand observations of behavior or acquired from a respected other, I attach my permanent label to the individual and read and recognize it each time I happen to meet the individual. “There’s George again. He is so ____.” My labels are useful and I usually disregard any behaviors I see in George that do not fit my label. Not doing so would cause too much cognitive dissonance—bad stuff—confusing. In fact, what I normally do is look for the behaviors in George that conform to my label so I will know I am, again, right. “George is a ___.” “There he goes doing ___again, just like I knew he would.” A funny thing happens sometimes, especially with small Georges, in that he seems often to fit his behavior to meet his perceptions of my expectations. “Could I be contributing to George being so ‘George like’? It must be so for when I change my usual, comfortable behavior toward George, he often becomes less like the George I labeled. If this is true, a fascinating idea bubbles up. Could it be that if I am not accepting of the “labeled George” and would like him to be different, that maybe I could help myself out by behaving differently toward George? This might give me a new and improved George, one I can accept and even—dare I say it—come to love.

Let’s say this is all true. My world is still safe. I rarely come across the path of George. In fact, knowing something of his behavior, I could probably avoid a meeting with George for a long, long time. Wouldn’t hostility be a good reason to avoid George? I think to myself, “no one could fault me for that.” “George’s manner of behaving _____is his problem, not mine. Live and let live.”

Unfortunately or fortunately the mindset of “live and let live” doesn’t seem to be too practical nowadays, either in international or family relations. In fact isolationism is not a doctrine advocated by the Savior. Take missionary work for example, or consider this statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” TPJS:174

But does the love of God, that I am supposed to have, extend to those who are unlovable or unworthy of love? What if my label is accurate? I think the answer is clear. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” (Matthew 5:45 - 46)

To be sure, this injunction requires some serious altering of my perceptions, shifting of my paradigms or reversing my “usual route.” Can I do it? Absolutely, it is a motivation not an ability problem. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9:23) OK, what can help me believe sufficiently to act? Maybe some thoughts from a great thinker and a prophet:

1. (C.S. Lewis: "It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. . .. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit. . .” (The Weight of Glory, pp. 18-19)
2. J. Smith, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”

Recently I had an opportunity to test all this perceptual theory and what some may call “idealistic ravings” of an INFP. I met with Steve G., a former key member of our family, but one who perceives himself being outside our “circle of love.” True to the model, he has formed perceptions, some accurate; some inaccurate, as I do many times. And he has behaved, in some ways, consistent with his perceptions—again, as I do. I, of course, came to the meeting with my labels all arranged and with some anxiety at having chosen to take an “unfamiliar path.” But I came with armor: a sincere prayer for his well being, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that He would guide my actions, a knowledge that Steve is a son of God anointed to become a ruler in Israel throughout eternity, the certainty that Steve is the former husband of a precious daughter and father of a priceless grandson who will be in our midst eternally if I, Steve and Michael are true to our covenants. I knew going in that it is imperative that Steve feel my love for him and I his love for me so that his perceptions of me and the family I represent will be positive, uplifting and loving. Otherwise it would be difficult, indeed, for him to be the kind of example to Michael that would foster him (Michael) displaying to us the kind of love, respect and admiration we want and, hopefully, deserve. (Remember, 50% of Michael’s young life will be spent with Steve). In brief, I tried to go into the meeting with a Christ-centered perspective.

I am pleased to report that we are on a high road to something wonderful. Tragic as divorce is, this life event has the possibility of being a blessing of incomparable value to both Steve and Myla. (And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27) Our philosophical views are in harmony (what did you expect? We are both NF’s). Steve is committed to honoring his covenants—as am I. We are both realistic about Satan and his tremendous capacity to tempt and deceive us. We both want to be friends, and we expressed our love for one another and prayed together. We (Myla, Steve and I, at least) are planning future social events to further build and sustain relationships. So, at this point “we believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things. Where there is anything virtuous ……”

My challenge to us all is to remember who we are—Latter Day Saints—and the covenants we have made and to extend the hand of fellowship and love to our brother. I am convinced that if I do not, I shall never have the joy of hearing from my Savior the words, “well done thou good and faithful servant…”

Love, Mel

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Doing the Right Thing for the Right Reason---January 28, 2005


While walking the hills of Bountiful this morning, I listened to the Diane Rhem show, sans Diane, and heard the guest, Dr. Temple Grandin, discuss the following: quote: “Humans have long wondered what goes on inside the minds of animals. Now the mysteries of autism may provide clues. A scientist explains how her own experience as a person with autism helps her translate "animal talk." Something Dr. Grandin said struck me. It was that in training animals one needs to attempt to see what the animal sees (she elaborates) and to know what motivates the animal. Animals motivated by fear will behave quite differently than those motivated by kindness or acceptance. She noted that some men sometimes think a dog or cat, for instance, enjoys a friendly roughing up when, in fact, it may frighten the animal and cause it not to behave as the trainer would like, and it may take years to “unlearn” the undesirable behavior. This started me thinking about motivation: Why do I do the things I do? And more worrisome, why don’t I do the things I know I should do? Do I sometimes do the right thing but for the wrong reason? How can I ensure that I do the right thing and for the right reason?

In contemplating the above questions, I believe it is important to consider some hypotheses, if not truths, about motivation. By definition motivation means “action to achieve motive.” In other words we are motivated to satisfy, through our actions, some need that exists. E.g., we eat to satisfy hunger. But we may steal food to eat to satisfy our hunger (wrong thing for the right reason), or grow food to satisfy hunger (right thing for the right reason). Finally, we may steal food to sell for drugs to feed our habit (wrong thing for wrong reason). In searching to understand motivation, I have found the following three-question paradigm to be helpful: (Hint - it works best in conjunction with the question: “How can I motivate myself or others to do blank—?” fill it in).

Question no. 1: If I do “A” will “B” result?
Question no. 2: Do I value “B”?
Question no. 3: Can I do “A”?

Applying this to a typical issue that many face, we may say: If I exercise and lower my fat intake (A) will I lose weight and be more attractive (B)? If we think the answer is yes, we go on to question two: Do I value (B), losing weight, etc.? If the answer is yes, we go on to question three. Can I do (A), that is, exercise and eat less fat? Theoretically, if the answer is “yes” to all three questions, an individual should have the motivation to achieve the goal or solve the problem. Of course we all know it rarely works out that way, not because the paradigm is flawed, but because we are not truthful or kid ourselves about the answers to the questions. This is illustrated more dramatically by the true experience I had with a man who pooh-poohed the paradigm based on his own experience. Briefly, he avowed that wanted to lose weight and had lost weight and could answer yes to all three questions, but that he could not maintain the weight loss. Invariably he would eat too much and not be careful in his food selection and gain wait; therefore, he maintained that the paradigm did not work. I pointed out that the cause of his problem was lack of commitment and, in fact, he really did not want to pay the price of achieving the weight loss (a key factor that is part of question three). Note, an important truth: ability does not equal motivation. Most of us need not look far to find someone with sufficient ability that nevertheless failed to attain their stated objectives. The fact is THEY DIDN’T WANT TO! If you have any doubt that the issue is commitment and not ability for someone who says the paradigm doesn’t work, just try the following test: Have them write out the goal they want to achieve in specific terms. Make sure it is realistic and attainable. Have them set their own date for completion. Have them write out a check to you for one thousand dollars. Tell them you will check back with them on the specified completion date and ask if they have achieved their goal (honor system). If the answer is “yes” you will rip up the check. If the answer is “no” you will cash it. I can pretty much guarantee that you will not get rich using this method, but they will achieve their goals.

This same model applies to spiritual as well as temporal goals. However, it does get a little sticky because the means of measurement are not so clear nor do the “B’s” follow the “A’s” quite as quickly as they might in temporal situations.

I have sometimes observed—tongue in cheek, but with more seriousness than listeners may be aware—that I already know how to be a better person, i.e., more like Christ, than I am. In other words (as I seek to teach others who haven’t a clue as to the inner turmoil than goes on in the life of an NF-Idealist) trying to become a better person (disciple) is often not a problem of having sufficient knowledge, though study is important, or understanding, though the value of pondering and prayer can’t be minimized. It almost certainly lies in the absence of sufficient commitment preceded by incomplete internal agreement as to tenets, principles and doctrine governing the behavior. In simple words—I don’t want to become a better person, badly enough. On the surface, that indictment sounds pitiful. Why on earth would one not want to improve one’s standing before God by becoming “better” when one knows God exists; understands His character, attributes and perfections; knows the great blessings that are in store for one who loves Him and does his will; and who wants to become like Him? If I were to answer my own question, I would say it is due to the mortal condition. From a motivational perspective mature adults are on the opposite side of the continuum from the child who is promised cake if he eats his carrots. Immediately after the carrots are eaten, the cake is served. But even with God-fearing adults, we are told we must eat a lifetime of carrots before expecting any cake. In fact, it may not come until we are in heaven. To top it off, not only must we endure, but also we must endure it “well.” Also in spite of our meritorious endurance, some not only do not receive cake, rather they receive a severe chastisement at the hands of men. Remember Paul, Abinadi, Daniel, Shadrack, Joseph, Joseph Smith and the Savior. In addition, we have our fallen brother who presents a lavish table of goodies in front of us constantly and bids us partake regardless of our behavior. Is it any wonder I, and others, choose to sample just a little from Satan’s table before we get serious about the carrots?

We know there is nothing new here. The requirement to overcome the world and endure well is precisely why we are here in mortality. The Lord knows it won’t be easy; it is a test. Actually knowing that this life is a test helps me with my motivational problem. Why? Well, tests are not really a reflection of reality. They are sort of like being in a simulator like pilots use for training. Even though everything appears as real as can be, the pilot knows if he crashes he won’t be killed. (In a sense the analogy may fail here because it really is possible for us to botch things up so badly here on earth that we will experience spiritual death or even fall short of our goal. (For Latter-Day-Saints salvation without exaltation is damnation). Nevertheless, to continue, we know that the real lasting reality is spirit life, in some kingdom of glory, and not mortality. Mortality is temporary. It’s like an extended management assessment center, and if we perform really well we could be tapped as the new C.E.O. My point is that knowing the temporary nature of mortality, regardless of the conditions, and having some idea of heaven, it ought to make it a bit easier to endure it well. You know—I’m feeling better already about becoming better!

Now, more to the point of the title of these reflections. Let’s say I’ve answered yes to the three questions and I begin a list of things I can change to become better. As they say, the Devil is in the details. This is certainly true with self-improvement programs designed to become more like Christ. It is not enough for me to choose worthy goals such as: daily prayer and scripture study; eliminate anger, road rage and sarcasm; increase tithes and offerings; and visit the sick and imprisoned. No one could argue that these things are right to do, but the Lord indicates they count for nothing if they are not done for the right reason. Even the greatest service to mankind if not done with charity (the pure love of Christ) is worthless (I Cor. 13:1-3).

The scriptures and writings of the brethren provide a number of insights on the importance of doing the right things for the right reason:

1. Wicked people, that is, those whose actions are intended to exalt themselves and not God cannot do right things. (Moroni 7:7-12.) For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness. For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God. And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such. Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift. For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil. Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

2. To do otherwise is hypocritical: I remembered what the Prophet Joseph Smith was told. In the first visitation from the Father and the Son when, speaking of the world in which we live the Lord said, "They draw near me with their lips but their hearts are far from me." As I put that opposite these two other statements, I find a clearer meaning of the Lord's words. It meant that they were not doing the right things for the right reasons when they are merely drawing near with their lips but their hearts were far from him. One of the most severe words the Master used all through his ministry was the word "hypocrite." "Wo unto you hypocrites," which I am sure is described by this statement, "they draw near me with their lips but their hearts are far from me." (Harold B. Lee April 19, 1961, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1961 1.)

3. We have to want to. Doing something for the right reason is doing it not only because it is what God would want us to do, but also because it is what we want to do. Consequently, work will demonstrate a love of God and be a service to humanity. It will further God's work of bringing "to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39.) It will be inspired of God. (Moro. 7:13.) (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 8: Alma 30 to Moroni [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1988], 294.)

4. Again, ya gotta wanta. Becoming righteously self-governing means doing the right thing for the right reason, particularly when faced with opposition. The person who is righteously self-governing is motivated by neither duty nor "shoulds" nor compliance with the will or wishes of others. Rather, the spiritual self responds to the challenges of mortality as a righteous child of God.

Righteous self-government is based on acknowledging to ourselves and the Lord any unrighteousness and then striving to overcome it. Making that acknowledgment is an act of choosing that allows us to break free from our mortal foibles instead of denying their existence while we painfully suppress them. We can grit our teeth and by sheer willpower restrain ourselves from un-Christlike actions, but that is a far cry from the change of heart that roots out all evil and makes us like Christ (see Alma 5:14). (Richard L. Bednar and Scott R. Peterson, Doing the Right Things for the Right Reasons [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 15 - 16.)

Righteous self-government suggests that a person's goodness is defined by something more than behavior alone. Good conduct is important, but good conduct that is a genuine expression of spiritual substance is infinitely more important. The scriptures regularly instruct us to seek the Spirit, and then good works will follow naturally. For example, Alma states, "And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works" (Alma 7:24). (Bednar and Peterson, 17.)

Righteous behavior is inherently motivating notwithstanding outcome. Righteously self-governed individuals act to maintain harmony between personal goodness within and good works without. That is enough reward. No public success can ever eclipse the personal contentment of harmony between self and God. (Bednar and Peterson, 21-22)

Many times we are willing to adjust ourselves to current conditions in a bid to reduce our own discomfort. By acting, talking, and even dressing a certain way, we hope to increase our chances of winning acceptance or at least to reduce our chances of drawing negative attention to ourselves. The Lord never compromised principle and therefore never compromised himself in order to be found more acceptable to others. (Bednar and Peterson, 21)

5. Don’t forget intentions. Although observable behavior provides many good clues to the quality of a person, it is the intent of the behavior that counts the most. . . . Good works born of a good heart matter the most.
(Bednar and Peterson, 19.)

6. Love is the answer. Medieval author Thomas `a Kempis said, "Without love, the outward work is of no value; but whatever is done out of love, be it never so little, is wholly fruitful. For God regards the greatness of the love that prompts a man, rather than the greatness of his achievement" (in John S. Tanner, "Not a Mind without a Soul," BYU Today, Mar. 1991, 27). (Bednar and Peterson, 17)

7. We all need reminders. “. . . human nature is such that all of us need constant reminding of our responsibilities or we are likely to lapse into some indifference. The need of constant prayer and concentration of our thoughts on the things of the kingdom, and sincere attention to duty, is apparent with most of us, lest we slip. How frequently the Lord has had to caution his people against the weaknesses of the flesh!
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 1: 136.)


It is interesting what one can learn from someone who understands animals and how that learning can lead one’s thoughts into paths uncharted. I liked Kirby and he liked me. I think we both knew that; that’s why we got along.

I’ve always known it was important to do the right thing. Now, I’m going to give more attention to doing things for the right reason—out of the pure love of Christ.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this subject.

Love, Dad.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Reflections: There is a Little of Martin Harris in Me

Martin Harris had a lot of faith, but it ebbed and flowed. He really knew the reality of God, but he just needed some more mortal signs to satisfy himself. He wanted to be a part of the plan, to build the kingdom, but often for the wrong reasons. He knew what the Lord wanted him to do, but sometimes he just could not execute. He sometimes put “my will” above “thy will.”

I often think on the rich young ruler who asked the Savior what he might do to ensure eternal life and when he was told (invited to follow) he just couldn’t give up his favorite mortal things. How stupid, shortsighted, ignorant, sad (I often judge) to have been in the situation when the God of the universe is offering you all he has in simple exchange for just following him. Of course (I think) I would never do that! But then—having found myself in the act (or reflecting on the act) of having done something just as dumb or dumber—I wonder why I have put things that matter least above those that matter most; chosen the lesser part; rejected the offered gift; failed the test and whatever other metaphors apply. Perhaps the rich young man knew persecution was to follow one who accepted the Master’s offer; I don’t even have that excuse. Things look pretty rosy from where I sit.

As I mull it over, I am amazed at the power of Satan to make good appear evil and vice versa and my own gullibility to think the things of this world are truly real of worth. As David O. McKay put it:

The true end of life is not mere existence, not pleasure, not fame, not wealth. The true purpose of life is the perfection of humanity through individual effort, under the guidance of God's inspiration.

Real life is response to the best within us. To be alive only to appetite, pleasure, pride, money-making; and not to goodness and kindness, purity and love, poetry, music, flowers, stars, God, and eternal hopes, is to deprive one's self of the real joy of living. (David O. McKay, Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, compiled by Clare Middlemiss [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967], 112.)

What a fantastic lesson today, January 19, 2005: (David O. McKay – Chapter 2 The Dual Nature of Man). I love his thoughts about spirituality. “Spirituality, our true aim, is the consciousness of victory over self, and of communion with the Infinite. Spirituality impels one to conquer difficulties and acquire more and more strength. To feel one's faculties unfolding, and truth expanding in the soul, is one of life's sublimest experiences.” (President David O. Mckay, Conference Report, April 1958, First Day—Morning Meeting 6 - 7.)

All that is contained in chapter 2 is worth reading and rereading. Now, the hard part—schooling myself to tune into the spirit rather than the world. D&C 5 contains some suggestions and information given to Joseph Smith and Martin Harris for “putting first things first” and acting on what we know.

*Don’t expect miracles, angels from heaven, the gold plates under glass at the Church Office Building, etc. to convince you of the truth. (DC 5:5-15) Joseph Fielding Smith quotes Luke 16:19-31 (Lazarus and the rich man) and then states:
The Lord has always sent his accredited witnesses to testify of his truth, and has declared that all who reject these witnesses shall be under condemnation. This revelation declared that this generation shall have the word of the Lord through Joseph Smith. There may be some who think that this is unreasonable, and the Lord should use some miraculous means to convert the world. Frequently when strangers visit the Bureau of Information and they hear the story of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, they ask if the plates are in some museum where they may be seen. Some of them with some scientific training, express themselves to the effect that if the scholars could see and examine the plates and learn to read them, they would then bear witness to the truth of the Book of Mormon and the veracity of Joseph Smith and the whole world would then be converted. When they are informed that the angel took the plates back again, they turn away in their skepticism shaking their heads, but the Lord has said: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," saith the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa. 55:8-9.)

We have learned that people are not converted by miracles or by examining records. If the Lord had placed the plates where the scholars could examine them, they would have scoffed at them just as much as they do today. People are converted by their hearts being penetrated by the Spirit of the Lord when they humbly hearken to the testimonies of the Lord's servants. The Jews witnessed the miracles of our Lord, but this did not prevent them from crying out against him and having him crucified.
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 1: 36 - 37.)

*We have been given a witness. (DC 5:16-20) Joseph Fielding Smith notes:
The effect of the testimony of the three witnesses is the power of salvation to all those who believe and accept the Gospel. On the other hand it is the power of damnation to all those who, after having heard it, reject it. The Lord said in relation to the testimony of his servants: "Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor. Therefore they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads." (D. and C. 88:81-82.) If the Lord will hold all those who have been warned under condemnation because they fail to warn neighbors, then what will he require of those who hear the testimony of his servants and reject it? Nephi warns the present generation that they should not reject his testimony and that of the other Nephite prophets, for they spoke as "the voice of one crying from the dust." Said he: "For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey." (2 Nephi 33:10-15.) . . . Those who reject the solemn testimony of these three witnesses, or the testimony of others of the servants of the Lord, are guilty before the Lord and according to his word shall suffer condemnation.
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 1: 37 - 38.)

*We know the truth. It has been revealed. (DC 5:16-18) Orson Pratt indicates:
Peter did not get his knowledge from seeing miracles wrought. He did not obtain his knowledge because some other man had received a knowledge. The Savior blessed him and said, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." The Lord had revealed this knowledge unto Peter 100onsequently Peter was constituted a witness. And so the Lord, by having given revelation from the heavens to scores of thousands of the Latter-day Saints, has made them witnesses of the divinity of this work.

O, how the Latter-day Saints ought to rejoice! How faithful we all ought to be! How frivalous are the things of this present life, compared with the knowledge of God, which you have received! Do you appreciate this, Latter-day Saints? Do you realize it as you ought to, or are your minds swayed to and fro by the frivolities and vanities of this present life? Do they absorb the greater portion of your attention? Do you forget your God, the greatness of your calling, and the knowledge which you have received? I have not.
(Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 21: 177.)

*Stay the course—endure to the end. (DC 5:35) John Taylor explains:
If I am doing right, I am preparing for thrones, principalities, and dominions, resolved by the help of God that no man shall rob me of my crown. With this view of the subject, all the outward circumstances of this life do not trouble me.

I know it is the case that many men would like to have everything they can desire or think of. And I used to think, if I were the Lord, I would give the people everything they wanted—all the money, all the honor, all the riches, and all the splendor their hearts could desire. But experience and observation have caused me to change my mind, for I know that such policy would not be good for the human family.—JD, 8:100, June 17, 1860.
(John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, selected, arranged, and edited, with an introduction by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941], 341.)

Even though Martin Harris wavered in his life—who can judge—he ultimately was true to the faith and died in good standing within the church. I hope and pray that I can survive myself and when crunch time comes place myself on the Lord’s side along with all of you.

Love, Dad.

I Love being a part of this family. Oct 2005

October 12, 2005

Associations: Have you ever played the word association game—Psychriatrists use it for different purposes—just think of what comes to mind when you say a word? Well, I played it with myself and this is what came out. DON’T try to analyze. I’ll do a spouses version later.

Markelle: “Way to go. Look how much money you made working at Albertson’s this year!”

Melinda: “Now just think; if one apple costs ten cents, how much would six apples cost?”

Melanie: “What did you do to the Chevette?”

Markham: “The lizards will always be there. Come and try skiing!”

Myla: “The skating season is over now; remind me next year.”

Marianne: “You seriously want to wear my old coat, stained, full of holes and twenty years old!”

Michael: “Put a towel around you; you’re going to shiver to death.”

Molly: “You want to go fishing?”

I can’t believe how special and what a blessing it is to be part of this family. What a contrast to my own childhood experience. You might say I’m “sibling challenged.” This is not a disguised plea for you all to have eight kids, but I’m sure if you did, you’d love every minute of it from now through eternity. Look at the children you have (or will have). Who would you leave out?

Which Shall it Be?

"WHICH SHALL IT BE? Which shall it be?"
I look'd at John-John lookd at me
(Dear, patient John, who loves me yet
As well as though my locks were jet);
And when I found that I must speak,
My voice seem'd strangely low and weak:
'Tell me again what Robert said."
And then I, listening, bent my head.
This is his letter: 'I will give
A house and land while you shall live,
If, in return, from out your seven,
One child to me for aye is given."
I look'd at John's old garments worn,
I thought of all that John had borne
Of poverty and work and care,
Which I, though willing, could not share;
I thought of seven mouths to feed,
Of seven little children's need,
And then of this. 'Come, John," said I,
'We'll choose among them as they lie
Asleep;" so, walking hand in hand,
Dear John and I survey'd our band.
First to the cradle lightly stepp'd,
Where the new nameless baby slept.
"Shall it be Baby?" whispered John.
I took his hand, and hurried on
To Lily's crib. Her sleeping grasp
Held her old doll within its clasp;
Her dark curls lay like gold alight,
A glory 'gainst the pillow white.
Softly her father stoop'd to lay
His rough hand down in loving way,
When dream or whisper made her stir,
Then huskily said John, "Not her, not her!'
We stopp'd beside the trundle bed,
And one long ray of lamplight shcd
Athwart the boyish faces there,
In sleep so pitiful and fair;
I saw on Jamie's rough, red cheek
A tear undried. Ere John could speak,
"He's but a baby, too," said I,
And kiss'd him as we hurried by.
Pale, patient Robbie's angel face
Still in his sleep bore suffering's trace.
"No, for a thousand crowns, not himl'
We whisper'd, while our eyes were dim.
Poor Dick! bad Dick! our wayward son,
Turbulent, reckless, idle one-
Could he be spared? Nay; He who gave
Bids us befriend him to his grave;
Only a mother's heart can be
Patient enough for such as he;
"And so," said John, "I would not dare
To send him from her bedside prayer.'
Then stole we softly up above
And knelt by Mary, child of love.
"Perhaps for her 'twould better be,"
I said to John. Quite silently
He lifted up a curl astray
Across her cheek in wilful way,
And shook his bead: 'Nay, love; not thee,'
The while my heart beat audibly.
Only one more, our eldest lad,
Trusty and truthful, good and glad-
So like his father. "No, John, no-
I cannot, will not, let him go."

And so we wrote, in courteous way,
We could not give one child away-,
And afterward toil lighter seemd,
Thinking of that of which we dream'd,
Happy in truth that not one face
We missd from its accustomed place;
'Thankful to work for all the seven,
Trusting the rest to One in heaven.

Here are some relevant poems and quotes. I hope they make you think, ponder, laugh and cry.


I make my own choices everyday.
No one else controls what I do or say.
Good choices - bad choices - it's up to me.
I choose to decide what my life will be.

When my choices are wrong, when things go bad,
I can yell, get angry, hit, or be sad.
I can blame my neighbors or my brother,
Or point at myself, not someone other.

I can make excuses; say you're not fair.
I cannot tell the truth; say I don't care.
Or I can do the right thing; just be nice.
Learn so I won't make the same mistake twice.

I make my own choices every day.
I know I control what I do and say.
I will make good choices and you will see,
For now I'll take responsibility.
--- Copyright © 1998 Robert McDaniel

• December 22, 2000
" Children are the reflection of their teacher.
Everybody can see your reflection."
--- Copyright © 2000 Keri Zimmerman

• December 20, 2000
" Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do
Are in harmony."
--- Mahatma Gandhi --- Submitted by Molly Callaghan --- Pennsylvania

December 8, 2000
" Teaching kids to count is fine,
But teaching them what counts is best."
--- Bob Talbert

• November 22, 2000
" You are never where you want to be,
But always where you planned on being."
--- Copyright © 2000 Brett Strothers

No man on his death bed ever looked up into the eyes of his family and friends and said, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office"

"One of life's greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world."

"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people."

"Where does the family start? It starts with a young man falling in love with a girl - no superior alternative has yet been found"

"There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained"

"Most of what we object to as misconduct in children is a natural rebellion against the intrusion of an unimaginative adult despotism in their lives"

"A father is someone who carries pictures in his wallet where his money used to be"

"After all, what is a pedestrian? He is a man who has two cars-one being driven by his wife, the other by one of his children."

"The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother."

"You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back." (This one brought a tear to my eye)

"I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection."

"Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice"

"The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family."

"No matter what you've done for yourself or for humanity, if you can't look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished?"

"A happy family is but an earlier heaven."
George Bernard Shaw

"Children are not our property, and they are not ours to control any more that we were our parents' property or theirs to control."
Richard Bach

"We never know the love of our parents for us till we have become parents."
Henry Ward Beecher

"The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you"

"Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship."
Margaret Mead

"My wife and I have five children; the reason we have five children is because we do not want six"
Bill Cosby quotes

"Smile at each other, smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other -- it doesn't matter who it is -- and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other."
Mother Teresa

"The family you come from isn't as important as the family you're going to have"
Ring Lardner

"There is nothing more thrilling in this world, I think, than having a child that is yours, and yet is mysteriously a stranger"
Agatha Christie

"Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them."
Richard L. Evans

"A child enters your home and makes so much noise for twenty years that you can hardly stand it: then departs leaving the house so silent that you think you will go mad"
John Andrew

"Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see."
John W. Whitehead

"When you put faith, hope and love together, you can raise positive kids in a negative world."
Zig Ziglar

"Children learn to smile from their parents."
Shinichi Suzuki

"Children aren't happy without something to ignore, And that's what parents were created for"
Ogden Nash

"What we desire our children to become, we must endeavor to be before them"
Andrew Combe

"It's funny that those things your kids did that got on your nerves seem so cute when your grandchildren do them"

"The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn."
John Lubbock

"The best inheritance a parent can give to his children is a few minutes of their time each day."
M. Grundler

"Humor helps us to think out of the box. The average child laughs about 400 times per day, the average adult laughs only 15 times per day. What happened to the other 385 laughs?"

"Children really brighten up a household - they never turn the lights off"
Ralph Bus

"Our children are not going to be just "our children"-they are going to be other people's husbands and wives and the parents of our grandchildren."
Dr. Mary S. Calderone

"You have a wonderful child. Then, when he's 13, gremlins carry him away and leave in his place a stranger who gives you not a moment's peace." "You have to hang in there, because two or three years later, the gremlins will return your child, and he will be wonderful again."
Jill Eikenberry

"Children in a family are like flowers in a bouquet: there's always one determined to face in an opposite direction from the way the arranger desires"
Marcelene Cox

"Better a snotty child than his nose wip'd off"
George Herbert


Winter Day Walk - November 2004

Winter Day Walk
November 2004

On a winter day burdened with cold and nagging infection, I ventured forth to see if perhaps the biting cold could or would seize the germs infesting my body and restore me to peace and good health. So, layered up with abundant sweaters, wraps and shades to protect against the winter glare, I stumbled out from the warmth—a breeding place for germs, or so I thought —into the icy chill. An acquaintance, who happened along my trek, remarked that my features reminded her of the Uni-bomber, the man infamous for diabolical mischief and known for hood and dark glasses to secure his anonymity. I wore the same, not to conceal misdeeds, but to appear anonymous since I was three day bearded and unwashed.

Out I tread, warmed from the baggage I wore, only to find others dressed much more lightly as though the winter grip was being loosened by a more mellow southerly flow. Little did I care; my purposes were met and so concealed I drove on experiencing the ecstasy of muscle opposing gravity and loosening sinews too long dormant from lounging about in a sickly state. Hoping not to meet anyone who would recognize me, given my more than average height and customary exercise habits, I quickly passed a small, uncoated, group of children returning from grade school, and having passed and widened the gulf between us a few yards, was taken aback to hear a child cry, “Hi brother Bennett!” What’s this? I recognized no one nor had I attempted to connect to anyone eye to eye as I shuffled past. But recognized I was, and to this day I have no idea by whom in the small, youthful crowd. Meekly, I returned a “hi” and went upon my way.

Reflecting on the incident, I marveled that someone so young and not in the mainstream of my acquaintances would recognize me and be so confident and bold as to address someone such as I, a fellow sojourner on this planet to be sure, but one whose disparate age and circumstances would not likely bring us into fellowship. To be thusly recognized and hailed with the appellation “brother” could only mean one thing. The child knew me from our mutual attendance at church. If thus recognized, how then perceived? Was I admired, having acted admirably? Were there behaviors perceived that were not as noble as they could be? What, if any, deduction had the child made about humanity, character or godliness on viewing me? Did the view, bedecked as I was, build or limit faith and hope? Was I a source of inspiration or of doubt and confusion to this child? Did she, for the voice sounded feminine, speak to her parents of me, and what did the parents say of me? For surely, if recognized by her, then certainly her parents knew me or of me. What, if any, judgments of me were made as a result of the child’s recounting of her experience? Like one standing in front of the mighty Judge, my thoughts raced in quick reverse scanning my life for any incident, however small, that would cast a shadow of doubt, disappointment or uncertainty on any who had perceived me.

I was unmasked, revealed to this child. Should, would and could haves disappeared. All that remained was myself, labeled somehow “Brother Bennett.” It was an endearing, kind label: “brother.” If I a brother then she a “sister.” Connotations of goodness and accountability were implied. After all would a brother misuse, abuse or harm a sister. Would a brother speak unkindly of a sister to others who may seize upon perceptions and advance them for their own mischievous purposes? Would a brother fail, physically or psychologically, to extend a helping hand even though in doing so his own ambitions may be placed in jeopardy? Suddenly great feelings of obligation to this sister poured over me. I knew she had expectations of me. She hadn’t thoughts of running and hiding from me. I was her brother. She was secure. I was honor bound to preserve, protect and to cherish her all the while not knowing whom she was. It was sufficient that I was her brother. Happily, I continued on my way thankful that I had not violated a “sister’s” trust and knowing that a simple “hi” to my sister, though unspoken, communicated volumes.