Monday, December 22, 2008

I am still here.

Right now I am sitting in my office amidst a stack of things that should be filed. In fact, I have promised myself that I will not go home for Christmas break until my office is restored to something that resembles orderliness. I realize that is a big stretch, but that is my commitment nevertheless. So...tomorrow I will tackle that task with energy and enthusiasm. For today, I am watching the snow falling and thinking this is kind of day when we should all be home with mounds of fresh popcorn playing board games with family. I am also reflecting on those things that mean the most to me. Yesterday I sat on the stand looking into the faces of my family in the congregation. I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude for them and for the goodness of their lives. A few hours later, we were together on an excursion to see the lights at Temple Square.

We haven't done that for many years. Although that setting at Christmas isn't unfamiliar to me, I found it to be a renewing experience to see the lights, hear the story of the Nativity repeated, and remember the binding covenants, which can give life to all our most sacred aspirations. Life is precious! Every moment of our mortal learning experience should be savored and used to the fullest measure. Heavenly Father's Plan is perfectly designed to allow us to realize those aspirations. At Christmas, we remember and think deeply about the most important events of this earth. As we contemplate the condescension of the Father, it is easier to be humble for a fleeting moment. If we are successful at that, we feel an inner confidence despite our apparent weaknesses. As Nephi said, "And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted." (2 Ne 4:19) And that is the quest of mortality, to reach beyond knowing of Him... and come know Him in whom we place our yearning trust. To all who pass here, though you may do so silently and unknown, please know that you are important to me because you are important to Him. He lived and surrendered His life for both of us...and He lives again! May the Lord shower you with His choicest blessings at this sacred season and in every moment of need.

All my love,


Friday, October 31, 2008

Way too long between posts.

Yes, I has been way too long since I posted. I have no legitimate excuse except that I have harbored the thought that my life is busy.

So, how to catch up? So many important things have happened in the past six months. We now have three new grandbabies...and they are the cutest!
Here are The Three Amigos!
(From left to right, Peter and Isaac, Kim and Steve's twin boys, and Jonathan, Holly's little boy.)

We also have a new daughter-in-law! Matt married Amanda Taylor in the Logan Temple on October 17th. Matt, and the rest of my boys, have been wise enough to follow my example. We have all married way, way above ourselves.

Amanda is another in a series of fortuitous events in our family history.

As you see from the pictures, she is a beautiful young woman. And, she is just as beautiful on the inside. When Gae and I first saw them together we were very impressed with Amanda. I remember closing the door as they left our home and turning to Gae and saying, "I think we may have just met our new daughter-in-law." It looked like a good match to us. That night as we knelt at our bedside we prayed that it would be a match.

The more we got to know about Amanda the more we felt like she was simply too good to be true. What we have learned in the intervening months is that she is delightfully uncomplicated (I loved it when she said, "I'm just a farm girl who didn't get to grow up on a farm.") and she is good, and she is true. And she loves our Matt with all her heart. And Matt loves her with all his heart.
And that feels really good.
The reception was everything a young bride could ask for, truly a dream come true.
The Taylor's are a terrific family.
Matt is very blessed.
And so are we.
Welcome to the family Amanda.
We love you.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Random musing.

Yesterday was a very full day for me. Up at 5:00 a.m. to attend meetings at 6:00 a.m. ---- didn't return home until 5:00 p.m. ---- then back to the church at 6:30 for a fireside ---- returned home just before 9:00 p.m.

Now, don't misunderstand, I'm not complaining. It was a good day, even a great one, albeit long and exhausting.

With Mom gone for part of the week and being left in solitude, I've had a good chance to do some reflective thinking. I am awakened anew to the sensitivity my spirit seems to have. What once seemed like only little things have become jarring of late.

Let me explain. Recently I did some real introspective evaluation of my motives, thoughts, desires etc. I found that I had started to be less than disciplined in my mental processes. I was beginning to conduct my life, my meetings, my thoughts, in a routine manner. I was going through the motions without being as attentive as needed. I was drifting, not paying the price for personal progress. It was a serious jolt when I was assaulted by the realization that the people who have been asked to follow me deserve better.

So, the inner searching began. In order to get more traction, I shut down, as much as possible, all the distractions around me. I turned the radio off in the car in favor of selected cds of uplifting music. I stopped turning the TV on whenever I came into the house. I recharged my practice of reading the scriptures, the talks of the prophets, seers, and revelators and other inspirational literature. I became more earnest in the requests I made in prayer and spent time listening while still on my knees.

I tried to avoid banter and light-minded conversations with others. (Of course, that doesn't exclude humor and light heartedness.) I can't exactly describe it, but I tried to "tighten up" my own speech, ie. no slang, no bantering, no verbal bumping of someone else, no laughs at their expense, nothing that would be considered denigrating or unkind. I even tried to be more precise about the way I speak, saying "should have" instead of "shouldda", pronouncing the "ing" at the end of words, I listened more carefully, looking others in the eyes when they spoke. I made a conscious effort to smile more throughout the day, just a lot of little things.

The results have been surprising. In only a short time I find that I am enjoying myself much more. I feel an inner calm that is restful and rejuvenating. I look forward to the chance to read and contemplate and to have a conversation in prayer. My social associations are more pleasing to me. My mood is more consistently cheerful. I've come to realize, again, that there are levels upon levels of personal progress. The pursuit of that progress is energizing and fulfilling to me. I am renewing my efforts to get to the next level, whatever that may be.

That brings me back to my observation about sensitivity. I am certain that in the past I haven't been as attentive to my spirit's response to my environment as I should be. Little things, that I've not noticed before, are now unsettling to me. Critical, belittling, loud, or coarse conversation; questionable innuendo; potty language; thumping, menacing music, and a host of other minutia are not so trivial as I once supposed. I can feel my spirit cringe when I expose it to things that are unrefined.

In a way, this condition is very inconvenient. If I am to respond appropriately I must change some practices. I cannot participate in certain conversations, some that I might previously engaged in without a second thought. I need to be even more selective about my use of the media. I must be more proactive about influencing my environment. In the event of failure to influence I will have to simply withdraw. That may mean that I will come across as distant or self righteous to some of my friends and associates. As unfortunate as that may be, I believe I will prefer that to the option of losing the inner peace I am beginning to feel.

So, there you have it. Some very personal thoughts spilled out, somewhat clumsily, in words. This kind of exercise always helps me get clarity. Thank you for indulging me.

All my love to my family. You are each more precious to me every day. I miss you when you are gone. I savor the times we are together. As soon as you leave I count the days until we will see you again. I wish I had been a better teacher for you when you were younger and more impressionable. I also wish I had acquired my present sensitivity when I was much, much younger. Ah, to be young again. But, if that were to happen I would want to retain the wisdom of experience. I guess you can't have it both ways.

Monday, April 7, 2008

General Conference was great!

I loved the General Conference. We were able to attend the Solemn Assembly along with Matt and Amanda. It was a memorable experience to be there on such a historic occasion. We had the family together for the weekend, at least those in anything resembling reasonable traveling distance. It is always good to have everyone around the home front again. We certainly missed Marc and Trina and family, Kim and Steve, Ben and Michelle, and Adam and Devri.

We were hoping to have Amanda with us for the weekend to meet some of the rest of the family. Unfortunately, she wasn't feeling well (a lingering case of mono, I am told). It just wouldn't do to have someone thrown into the clamor of our family gathering when they aren't at full strength. It is a daunting task even when you are at your best.

We took tons of pics...I hope Jill will post them for me. It was a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

See? No one is really paying any attention.

I might be a good thing, if you are really interested, to go to the bottom of the blog and subscribe. That way you will be informed whenever there is a change in content...and you won't miss you almost did...because you don't visit here that much.

I know, I know, I'm supposed to keep adding things so it is interesting when you return. My blog is kind of like a test pattern on a TV. Oh, never mind. You are all too young to even know what a test pattern is. Anyway, that means things are pretty static most of the time.

I have resolved to do better in the future. I may even get Jill to help me upgrade my technical skills so I can post pictures. However, that creates another dilemna. I'm not in the habit of taking pictures of everything I do. That would be another TV test pattern. You'd just get lots of pix of me in a white shirt, suit, and tie, sitting in some meeting.

Well, what would you expect? That IS my life!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Okay, you can stop whining.

It really has been too long since I made an entry. So...for anyone (both of you) who really visits here, this is the latest. I really don't mind blogging, but I recognize that this is a visual medium and I just haven't taken the time to master the nuances of pix and video entries. I apologize for the boring text-only content of this blog.

The past few weeks have been quite impressive to me. Some of our very best friends have been sealed in the Temple. It has been a great opportunity to witness these events and to be a tiny part of it. What a privilege to be able to interview them and to sign their recommends!

I've learned some very important things: 1) Sometimes you just have to keep on keeping on even though you are not seeing light at the end of the tunnel. 2) Personal spiritual progress is accelerated when we move forward with faith and make the covenants. Conversely, our personal spiritual progress is slowed when we evade the covenants. 3) If we are left alone to gauge our own spiritual readiness we usually measure ourselves short. 4) Great blessings almost immediately follow after we proceed with faith.

We're also in the middle of bidding some of our best friends farewell as they depart for full-time missionary service. This has been very interesting as well. I've had the privilege of interviewing and recommending them and waiting with them for the calls to come. One of my favorite things to do is stand on the sidelines and cheer the missionaries on during this process. I get really excited for them and I count the days for the call to come and then I count the days until they report to the MTC.

This has been a bit different for me. As I've mentally put myself in their shoes I've come to realize what a sacrifice they are making. These are very capable people, full of faith and unquestionably devoted. Though they are entering into a sacred service, with all the attendant blessings that will inevitably ensue, it is not easy to uproot yourself, even temporarily, and leave dear friends, children and grandchildren and the familiar surroundings of comfortable homes to go to a foreign country, learn a new language and try to adapt a lifetime of routines, habits and expectations to new customs, new foods, new schedules and a way of life that is completely different. I've learned to appreciate these great people even more.

I am really looking forward to the feelings that will come as they are set apart for their callings.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Packed Schedules!!

That has been the most common mode of operation around our place since the last blog. We have had so many important and wonderful events in the past few weeks. As you may know, Matt returned from his mision to Samoa on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It was so good to see him again and to hear all about his missionary experiences. It was delightful to see how he has matured and grown into a man of considerable spiritual substance. He still has that faint little smile permanently affixed regardless of the circumstances. It was a wonderful reunion! All of our family together for the first time in nearly ten years!!

Mike and Lyndsi were married in the Logan Temple on November 23rd. They are very, very happy and we are elated to have Lyndsi as an official member of the family. They are living in Logan and plan to attend school full time and work full time as well. All of you know something about life like that.

Adam and Devri were married on December 19th in the Manti Temple. It was our first time to be in the Manti Temple...What a beautiful setting! Adam is still waiting to see if he will receive "the offer" to play football. Several coaches have expressed interest but nothing is formalized. He is still hoping to get an offer from a D1 school. There have been several good offers from D2 schools and some D1AA schools. All of this does nothing to contribute to any feelings of security or permanence. Devri is being wonderfully patient even though they are technically homeless at present. Devri is sweet and good and we are pleased that she let Adam choose her.

We are so grateful to have these two wonderful young women join our family. We earnestly hope that we won't ever embarrass them or make them wonder how such nice girls could get into such a fix. They both fit into our family pretty seamlessly and we are grateful. It is really sweet to watch them relate to each other, to their new husbands, and to the entire family.

It was especially meaningful for us to have all of our children together in the temple at each wedding. At times like this you realize that it is really all about family. We are so very grateful for our children and their companions and the goodness of their lives. We are blessed way beyond merit.

I love this time of year! I love everything about Christmas! I love the music. I love the ambiance of it all. I love the snow. I love the tinge of cold in the air. I love to hear the snow crunch underfoot. I love to walk outside when you are all bundled up with a warm cap and good gloves. I love it when you can exhale frosty breath. I love a crackling fire in the woodstove when it is cold outside. I love to see the delicate patterns of frost and snow on the bare branches of the trees. I love the stunningly brilliant blue sky of winter that always comes after a good snowstorm. I even love to join in the bustle of the holiday shopping crowds. I love to call out a cheery "Merry Christmas" to friends and strangers alike. There is nothing quite like Christmas.

There is another thing I like about Christmas. Throughout the year our most reverent worship is centered on the Savior. In our mind's eye we recall His ministry and the purpose of His mission and try to visualize Him as the Master Teacher, the consummate Priesthood Leader, the ultimate example of perfected man. At Christmas it is different. At Christmas we quietly kneel at a manger and our most reverent worship is centered on a baby...The Baby. And we are reminded that He wants us to become pure and meek and ... childlike.

To each of you who have taken the time to pause here, if only briefly, please know of our love for you. In so many ways, that perhaps you've not realized, you have blessed our lives and we are deeply grateful. I pray that the Peace of this season will permeate your heart and your home. May the blessings of Heaven rest upon you and all those you love.