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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

GOODBYE MY FRIEND

There has been a certain amount of sadness in our home with the loss of Teresa’s mom a short time ago.  But now, our feelings are compounded by the untimely passing of our good friend Bertram Merrell.  He has not been healthy for quite some time but it was still unexpected for him to leave on such short notice.  Thankfully, there are loved ones around (in droves) to buffer the experience for his sweet wife.

The funeral for Bro. Merrell was attended by many of his old friends and a passel of family members.  Each of his children spoke and shared memories of their dad while the congregation reached out with their hearts and hands to strengthen Victoria in her sorrow.  She’s pretty tough, but the loss of her sweetheart has been a great strain on her feelings.

My hope in this post is to express gratitude for the strength that has been evident in a wonderful man and a righteous brother in the Gospel. 

Bro. Merrell would never claim perfection in anything he did.  He understood his limitations and did what all good men do – worked to overcome them and developed skills to counter his failings.   Weakness is part of mortality but to allow shortcomings to control life was not the way Bertram Merrell worked.

He has had more than his share of sorrow – more than I think a person should bear – but his attitude never wavered and his faith in Christ was apparent in every circumstance.  Often times I wondered if he might succumb to sorrow or exasperation.  After all, his experiences were such that he could easily have broken down and drowned in the misery of despair.  Yet, his smile was always clear, he looked everyone in the eye and greeted them with love, and his enduring affection for Victoria served as a beacon for his children and all else who knew him.

I will miss the loving guidance of my friend and mentor. 

Let me share one incident that has had a lasting effect on my life.

Shortly after we moved to West Valley City, I was called to serve as counselor to a good bishop.  The other counselor and the bishop were considerably older and more sedate than I so it became my goal to liven things up in our meetings.  During one sacrament meeting I was conducting and, in a flippant manner, made some comment that was probably not appropriate (thankfully I don’t recall what I said but I’m sure it was out of order).  Sitting in the meeting, on one of the front benches, was the Merrell family, quietly watching this young ‘whipper-snapper’ butcher another meeting. 

Immediately after I made whatever comment I made, my eyes caught a slow but steady headshake from the personage of Bertram Merrell.  At first I was a little annoyed but when I sat down and considered my own actions, I was mortified with what I had done.  No one ever came to me and chastised me or called me out for my silliness, but that headshake from my friend was enough to remind me that I was not to act in a way as to detract from the meetings I was called to conduct. 

These may years later, I still need the likes of Bertram Merrell to counsel and guide me so I don’t wander off the path.  Men of the Bertram type are needed to guide others because they correct with a love that comes from the heart.  It’s good to have people like that in our lives.

I will miss Bro. Merrell.
But I will see him again and he can guide me once more so I can be better.


Thank you Bertram for being my friend.

Monday, April 27, 2015

THE CORD

After nearly 30 years of paying Comcast for entertainment privileges, we have made the decision to go on our own with Internet only service.  It was a tough decision, but when your TV/Internet/Phone bill is nearly the same as rent on a small vehicle, it’s time to make a change.


So, off to Costco for a new modem and an HD Antenna to pick up free TV.  Then the trek to Comcast to let them know we were dropping most of the services they have provided all these years.

Much smaller and much cheaper.

Surprisingly, they did not fight much and the little girl who helped me was really nice.  Too bad they didn't have that kind of service the whole time we were with them.


There will be some changes to how we entertain ourselves.  Not having shows on-demand will be a little inconvenient – but not that much!!  Most of what we enjoy can be found on Hulu or some other site so, if we decide to go that direction, we will be covered.

File:Hulu logo.svg

ps,vudu,logo,photoshop 
We've discovered that Netflix works pretty well and one of our daughters has VUDU with all her movies there digitally.  With the available services out there it seems we will be covered pretty well.  Any other good suggestions are appreciated.

netflix logo 

Our biggest concern was the phone connection but we have created a work-around.  If our home phone decides to be difficult, some of you may need to get our cell numbers.


It is a relief to see less of our money flowing to places that have little payback.  Probably should have done this years ago.  Just slow to accept the inevitable I guess.



I will let you know if we have any success or failure stories as we move on down the line.  In the meantime, we are cord free (mostly) and happily on our way to the future.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

JUDGING HARRY 2

I noticed this article in the Deseret News the other day and paused to think about the ramifications.


The Reid's, Pressler's and Clayton Christensen
DesNews
It is no secret that I am not a big Harry Reid fan but I AM an admirer of the methods and principles advocated by Clayton Christensen.  So it was with some surprise that I noticed both men were found doing something that I would not have thought they would do together.


Clayton Christensen is famous for his missionary efforts (see here).  He always seems to be at the forefront of the efforts to share the gospel with those not of our faith.

Clayton Christensen and Larry Pressler
DesNews

On the other hand, I seldom hear much about Bro. Reid and his work in the Church (I have heard Orrin Hatch mention that Harry Reid is a faithful home-teacher, but that was about it).  Most press for Bro. Reid seems to paint him in a negative tone (which, obviously, colors my own perceptions) and emphasize the things I would not consider Christ-like or Latter-day Saint-like.


The remarkable story of these three men has me pondering my own level of commitment to what I believe (not that I’m doubting the truth but wondering how much effort I’m putting in).  I mean, this is same Harry  Reid who “purportedly” lied on the Senate floor about Mitt Romney.  What good can he offer to someone who is seeking truth?  And why would he help a Republican?


I get that Clayton Christensen is going to help with the sharing of the message – BUT, HARRY REID!!


It may sound judgmental (and it is), but there’s a part of me that believes someone who espouses the political platforms of the Democratic Party and practices shenanigans in the ‘ways of Harry’ must not be living as closely to the Savior as he should.


The truth is that Harry has been (at least in this one instance) more faithful to his calling as a disciple of Christ than have I.


And if I’m honest with myself, I suspect that he has probably been just as faithful in many other ways – else how could he be prepared to share so effectively.


It is a slippery slope when our thoughts are focused on the weaknesses of others.  The usual result is forgetting to look inside for the rot that has begun to fester in our hearts.


As I have said elsewhere, judgment is not mine to make on the dealings of another.  All judgment must be left to the One who really knows.


It’s just so hard sometimes!!


So I offer two prayers.


Thanks given to Harry Reid, Clayton Christensen, and Larry Pressler for faithful work together.



Humble repentance and 
forgiveness sought by yours truly.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

GOOD PEOPLE -- PHYLLIS GRANGE

This Saturday we were part of a funeral for Teresa's mother. It was a very pleasant experience for all who attended because the people there were wonderful and the remembrances were sweet.  

I was invited to speak for a few minutes and so I thought it would be nice to again honor her memory with the words I spoke in the service.

(Actually, this is what I had written but the things I said were slightly -- well maybe a little more than that -- different from the text.  Seems like that happens whenever I am at the pulpit.)

But, anyways, this is a semblance of the tribute I shared with the family and friends.

Funeral Text for Phyllis Rae Grange -- 

Phyllis on the left -- Teen years
My first memory of Phyllis Grange involves her looking through the kitchen window of her home, along with the rest of the family, as Teresa and I got out of the car in their driveway.  To say I was intimidated would be an understatement.  I was young, brash, and very full of myself but seeing all those eyes focused on me was very disconcerting.  Just a few days before I had called to inform the family that I desired to marry their eldest daughter/sister and had not found a very positive reception (maybe because they had no idea who I was).  To no one’s surprise but mine, there was some reticence in the proposition.  It seemed to me that none of the family spoke to me the whole weekend – except little Cory and Nate who were too young to know what was happening.

These intimidating souls aren't so much!
Nearly forty years have passed since that little introduction.  Many lives have changed and many more have come into this world.  But there has been one constant over all those years – Phyllis Grange (Mom) has been the glue that has held this family together and helped each of us become more than we could have been alone.  She has had a powerful influence for good on everyone who knows her, especially her family, because of her Christ-like example of love and service.  While I have a mother of my own whom I love deeply, I have been blessed abundantly by the tender care and guidance given over the years by Phyllis/Mom and want you to know that she is very dear to my own heart.

But, I am not here today to speak only about our experiences, as pleasant as they have been, with Mom.  I am confident that she would be uncomfortable being the focus of so much attention from all her friends and family.  So my message will also focus on some of the things she believed and taught as she passed through this mortal experience.

Shortly after Mom and Dad were married they welcomed a new little son into the family.  He was healthy and strong and had a head of bright red hair just like both of his grandpas.  Then, for a number of reasons, Mom began to have problems and was required to spend a considerable time in the hospital in Salt Lake.  Some of the experts who cared for her warned her that having more children would put her life in danger but she was insistent that she was going to bring more precious lives into this world so she could have a positive influence on their eternal nature.

Over the years she lovingly delivered 5 more children (one of them my beloved Teresa) and did her very best to raise them up to be righteous children of God.  Each had a personality that made them unique and she carefully devised ways to teach, correct, love, and guide each of them into becoming responsible and faithful followers of Christ and productive members of society.  That was the eternal responsibility she had taken upon herself when she embarked on the journey of motherhood.  Everything she did was to invite her little brood to know and love the Savior (and their neighbors) that they might live with Him again one day. 

Watching over little ones all the time.
Now she has passed from this life and is in the world of Spirits where she is preparing for the day when she will, once again, be united with her devoted husband and, eventually, the rest of her loved ones. 

But what is she doing right now?  What is it that people do when they leave mortality and enter into the next part of their progression? 

The Prophet Alma, while teaching his son Corianton about the rewards of our lives here on earth, taught an eternal principle that give us some knowledge of what happens when we lay our physical bodies down in Mother Earth:

Now concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
And then shall it come to pass that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.  (Alma 40:11-12.)


When Alma talks of a place of rest, he isn't speaking of easy chairs or hammocks for all!!  I doubt Mom would be very happy in that kind of environment.  No, the rest we receive in the Spirit world is rest from the cares of mortality.  We won’t worry about sickness or pain – or hunger – or dementia or any of those things that make this probation hard.

But, we will continue to learn, grow, and become more like our Savior.

The time we have in the Spirit World is for us to hone our spiritual sensitivities and improve our obedience to the principles and doctrines that have been given to help us become Christ-like.  Our probation on earth is finished but our education is not complete and will continue learning until we determine we have had enough OR until we have gained all we need to know to become like our Father and His Son. 

And finally, in the Spirit World we will reunite with those who have gone before us and are awaiting our arrival in this new environment.

Now, I don’t know if they have video cameras in the Spirit World, but I think it would be really cool if we could all see a replay of the reunion between Mom and Kerry and all those who have been there waiting for her to arrive.  I expect it was a pretty happy occasion.

While we may have some sadness with the passing of our dear friend and mother, we are also confident that she is continuing the work she has done so well all the days of her life.  No doubt, she is carrying around a tray of spiritual food, trying to convince someone they need a little more to eat so they can be happy.  And I’m sure she is doing all she can to help any who are discomfited to find peace in their circumstances – all while thinking that she really has nothing positive to offer because she just isn't very talented.

Always helping.
We all know better and will all be grateful for the work she is doing as she prepares a place for us when we make our own arrival in the next part of our eternal journey.

I am thankful for the knowledge we have concerning death and the next life.  The hope of the Savior’s Atonement makes our lives more tolerable – especially when we are struggling with whatever challenges we have.  


May God bless each of us with the knowledge that there are many in the Spirit World who are ready to help us and guide us as we move forward in our eternal progression.  And may He especially bless Phyllis Grange for being a righteous example to all she loves. 



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

THE BACHELOR

Nope, this is not an invitation to watch an episode of some slimy TV show. This is about what it’s like to be alone when you’re used to having someone around.

For the past month (or so) Teresa’s mother has been fading off into the sunset of life (she did finally leave us on the 10th of April – more on that later).  And, since she (Teresa) is free from other restrictions (hooray, no daycare), she has been going down to be with her dad as he waits the final passing and to help with the arrangement for the funeral.  I am very grateful that she has this opportunity to be of service to a really good man and a wonderful father.

But, one side effect of Teresa’s good works is that I have been alone much more than I particularly like or than I am used to.

Now, it’s not like I can’t take care of myself.

For instance—
I haven’t starved.
I can wash dishes and clothing.
I can even make my own bed (when I want to).

It’s just that I’m so used to coming home and finding my best friend and sweetheart there and now I come home to a dark and lonely house.

It’s very weird!!

I don’t like it!!

It reminds me that I have a better than good life and an even better than better wife.  She is more of my universe than maybe I have been willing to recognize.

So what do I do to cope?

Well.

I am becoming very adept at sending little messages via text.
Just tiny thoughts that remind her how much she is missed.

And I do it a lot.

Probably drives her crazy – though she would never admit it.

But it helps me stay sane.

I also find that if I make a list of projects, I tend to mope less about the circumstances.  So I work and stay busy.

And I have found that if I go visit the kids on my own, life becomes much more bearable.

My point in all this??

I have determined that when it comes time for us to leave this mortal sphere –

I’m going first!!

Ummm, but that means I will be in a new environment and feeling really out of place and there won’t be anyone there for support.

So, maybe I’m going second so she can have things ready when I get there?!!!

Yeah, but then I’m left here by myself and no hope for relief.

Dang, maybe we just better make sure we go together so we don’t have any issues when we get there.

This is all so hard.
Well, I suppose we will figure it out. 
Or someone will!!
Whatever!

But the truth is, I really DON’T like being a bachelor and I’m so glad these circumstances are only temporary. 


And that’s the truth!!

Friday, April 3, 2015

FIT-BIT

Yes, I am part of the masses that has chosen (sort of) to keep track of my daily activities using an electronic device.

Actually, the kids decided they wanted me to live a little longer so they made me aware of my physical fitness by offering a nice birthday present.  I've had it for about a month and, so far, it has been helpful.

I’m not much of an exerciser anymore but I do try to control my weight as I get older.  This little doodad watches how much I walk and exercise AND invites me to watch what 
and how much I eat.

One thing I have found is that I am more inclined to NOT eat quite so much because it means I have to enter it into the device when I’m done.  It’s not hard, but being cognizant of what I eat means I usually eat less than originally planned.  

And that’s a good thing.

What about the future?

I’m not sure, but I expect I will use this until it decides to fail.  Then I will have to choose between going without or getting something newer.  My hope is that by then I have a few better habits and it will be easier to continue.

I’ll let you know.


In the meantime, I will make use of the Fit-Bit and try to be more healthy.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

PURE SOURCES

There are many who would have doctrines and principles of the gospel that are malleable to fit the current environment.  That way believers would be popular with the current culture and avoid the struggles of being different.  All that desire to change offers is something that is opposite what God intended.

I was recently pointed to a message that explains the need for purity in what we believe.  Only part of the discourse is included below.  Please consider the message and the implications it addresses.

A little background on the author --  Elder Carlos E. Asay (formerly of the Seventy but now deceased) was a full-time missionary in Syria from 1947-50 and was very familiar with the Arab culture.  For his complete message, follow this link.


Elder Carlos E. Asay
While serving in the Middle East, I established a choice friendship with a prominent Arab official. He offered my companion and me the courtesies of his home and more. That is, he shared with us his profound wisdom and insights about religion gathered over a lifetime of living and serving. On one occasion, he expressed high regard for LDS teachings and practices. Among other things, he complimented the Church for its simplicity, the apparent purity of its doctrine, its service orientation, and the extreme devotion shown by its members. Then he questioned, “Can your faith survive the test of time?” He explained, “I would like to be around in another generation to observe your Church when it is established worldwide and broadly recognized, it is less persecuted and generally accepted, it can boast of meeting places and other evidence of affluence, and it has members of mixed backgrounds and races. If under conditions of public acceptance and prosperity you can preserve your purity of doctrine and integrity,” he added, “the truthfulness of your claims will be verified.”

I have pondered the words of my Muslim friend many times over the years. A generation has come and gone since he made his profound observation, and conditions have changed. I feel that my faith has weathered the storm and passed successfully the test of time. Yet I’m concerned about the continuing need to exercise care and to keep the waters pure. As the standards of men in the world deteriorate, we must be watchful in making certain that our attention to the standards of God does not lessen. While man’s tendency to flaunt commandments seems to increase, our allegiance to holy laws must become stronger. When men seek to pervert or contaminate the wells of living water, we must guard the springs and guarantee their purity.

Carlos E. Asay, “God’s Love for Mankind,” in Mormons and Muslims: Spiritual Foundations and Modern Manifestations, ed. Spencer J. Palmer (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University 2002), 51–61.



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

WORDS

Passing on two items that I found interesting.
Both have their place.
Both are filled with words.
One will help you get better spiritually.
The other will help you feel better physically (humor).

The first is a quote from Elder Charles Didier of the 70 (emeritus). It is surprisingly similar to my recent diatribe on patterns.

He said:

Unfortunately, there are those who gain testimonies and then deny them and lose them. How does this happen? If you follow the steps to obtain a testimony, you do exactly the opposite to deny it or lose it. Do not pray; the door to revelation will be closed. Do not be humble but listen to your own superior voice. Do not participate in the ordinances of the gospel but follow the practices of the world. Do not follow Church leaders but be critical of them. Do not listen to prophets and follow their counsel but interpret their declarations according to your own desires. Do not obey the commandments but live according to your own appetites and desires. (CR, April 1991)

This pattern IS given for example only.  Testing or usage of this pattern will result in nothing good.


The second has made the rounds on the Internet for decades but is still mostly current.

Have fun and smile!! J


CANDIDATE FOR A PULLET SURPRISE
I have a spelling checker.
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.
Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished inn it's weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.
A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when aye rime.
Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o'er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.
Bee fore a veiling checkers
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we're lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.
Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know faults with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.
Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped words fare as hear.
To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaws are knot aloud.
Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting want too pleas.

Jerry Zar, 29 June 1992
Jerrold H. Zar
Graduate School
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
jhzar@niu.edu
(Current mailing address: Department of Biological Sciences, same university)


The above poem passes spell cheque but is full of suggestions for grammar and style.  Readers are not encouraged to use this method to write anything of value. 


This blog is not responsible for those who cannot get the humor of the posting.

Friday, March 6, 2015

PATTERNS

One day, I got a crazy idea that I wanted to learn how to sew.  My mother didn't sew very much (who had time with all those kids around) but it looked interesting and challenging so I decided to try to make something.

Unfortunately, since I had no experience, I didn't know how to start the process.  A friend suggested I get a pattern and start there.  At the fabric store, I found a simple pattern, some material, and a few other things that seemed to be appropriate for the endeavor.


Who can interpret this stuff?
I sure couldn't.

At home, I took out the items I had purchased and began the process of learning how to sew.  While my pattern was simple, it wasn't simple enough!!  The paper for the pattern was thin and frail and easily torn and there were all these strange symbols printed on it that made no sense.  No matter how hard I tried there was no way I could interpret the markings, lines, words, or ideas the pattern and instructions were trying to convey.


As I recall, my attempt was a t-shirt kind of like this.

Eventually I just gave up and donated what was left to the thrift store.

Since that time I have learned that in order to be successful at sewing you need more than a desire and a good pattern.  You also have to know how to lay that pattern out on the material and cut it correctly.  Of even more help is to have practiced simple stitching and tailoring before embarking on a whole shirt.  Maybe I could have succeeded if I had understood the process a little better.


The Gospel of Jesus Christ is filled with patterns designed by our loving Father to guide us in our lives.  The patterns are all throughout the scriptures and words of the prophets and are found in the form of commandments.  It’s pretty easy to recognize the laws God asks us to live but we often struggle in understanding WHY God wants things a certain way?


What I have discovered is that each of the commandments our Heavenly Father gives is part of a larger, more complex pattern designed to help us achieve or obtain something beneficial for life.  And if we aren't careful and prepared for each step, we may destroy the ‘thing’ we are trying to create from the pattern.


Let me share a scriptural example of what I’m trying to convey.  It’s well-known and simple but each step, seemingly independent as a commandment,  is very clear to the reader.


At the closing of the Book of Mormon, Moroni offers a challenge for coming to know the truth of the record.  Here’s how he states it:


Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.  And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.  (Moron 10:3-5)


This is the Lord’s pattern for finding the truth of the Book of Mormon or anything else we want to know.


So, what’s the pattern?


And what is the expected result from following the pattern?



Step #1 Read these things – Moroni is speaking specifically about the Book of Mormon, but it could be anything we might need or want to know in our lives.  Not everything is a book so we might have to modify the word to include study, consider, or other action verbs.  The point is that we have to begin by doing whatever it takes to become acquainted with the law or principle God is offering.


Step #2 Remember – The more I study God’s plan, the more I recognize the need to remember things.  Remember that God HAS a plan.  Remember that we are THE reason for the plan.  Remember that God is doing all He can to INVITE us to become like Him.  The more we remember……the less we make the mistake of forgetting!!


Step #3 Ponder it in your hearts – Like remembering, pondering helps us focus.  To ponder is to think often and deeply about a subject.  That subject then becomes much clearer to us and we can identify truths that might have escaped notice with a more cursory glance.


Step #4 Receive these things – To receive is to take it in.  Ideas, thoughts, or truths that come from God (as we ponder or pray or study) are only valuable when we internalize them and practice what they teach. 


Step #5 Ask God in the name of Christ – Since we are focusing on learning gospel principles it is appropriate to ask our Father what He thinks.  After all, it is His work and glory (see Moses 1:39) we are experiencing.  But, we must be specific in what we ask.  Vague questions are most often answered vaguely.


Step #6 – With a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ – In many ways, these three are inseparably connected to each other.  Our heart must drive the intent of our questions or we will not be sincere.  And everything we do must be grounded in an abiding faith in the Savior to be recognized by the Father.


Step #7 – He will manifest the truth of it unto you – Every good pattern has a finished product that can be seen upon completion.  In this case, the product is a testimony of truth, accompanied by a witness of the Holy Ghost.  There is no mistaking the “goods” that will be the fruit of this pattern if done in the order and manner expected.


This is only one of many patterns that God has given us for our benefit.  Others are found in the scriptures (I will list a few at the end for your perusal) and the words of living prophets.


Following each pattern, using the order given, and carefully obeying the instructions will always result in an amazing (at least by our own individual standards) experience.


Patterns are God’s way of helping us see why we should obey and how He provides the necessary attributes for returning faithfully to His presence.


Other Patterns:
Moroni 2-5 (four different patterns)
D&C 93:1
D&C 20:68-70
Matthew 5:3-10

Luke 15:3-32 (three patterns)