Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Why do people keep journals/records of life?

What do they expect to happen with the sensitive materials they gather as precious books of history?

My first journal started when I was 12 years old.  Someone gave me a little diary and I thought it would be fun to record a few things.  I didn’t write every day but I put enough in the book to know it felt good to write.

One day my younger brother found my writings and read a few of the entries.  After perusing my words, he immediately went outside and told all the neighborhood kids that his brother “loved Bonnie Dees” (I had written that but …… well, what 12 year old boy doesn’t love a little girl once in a while?).  I was embarrassed by the revelation and swore to never write anything that personal in a book again.

Fast forward 47 years.

The fear of discovery is gone and through these many decades I have intermittently shared my thoughts about life, love, and a multitude of topics.  At present I have six volumes of thoughts recorded in journals of some sort.  That doesn’t include this blog (which I consider a form of journal writing).  My schedule for writing is not consistent but I have recorded enough that I believe my posterity will get a flavor Grandpa Whitmer and what his life was like.

I would suggest that we write for several reasons. 

Reason 1 – Written records give those of our family who haven’t been around us as much (grandchildren, greats, etc.) insight into some of the thoughts and concerns of our lives.  Who knows but what they might get a glimpse of why they are such as they are from our experiences.  Or possibly they will think differently about some of the actions they saw from us if they know what we were thinking at the time.  Journals open doors to enlightenment.

Reason 2 – No one wants to be forgotten or remembered incorrectly.  The older we get, the more chance our offspring’s offspring will know less and less about who we are.

One of the great regrets of this life is that I have no written record of my Grandpa Whitmer and the experiences of his life.  As a boy I thought of him as a gruff, grumpy old man who had little tolerance for loud, obnoxious grandsons.  Stories told by my dad indicate that my perception is incomplete and I trust that he is correct.  But, oh, how I wish I had Grandpa’s words to tell me.  I suspect I would really like him and recognize more of myself in how he lived.

NOTE: My dad did write a short history of his parents and family on the Family History site and I was delighted to learn more about some of the early days of his life.  Things like that are so important to our children – I don’t want to cheat my posterity any more than I already have.

Reason 3 – Journals are a wonderful place to practice writing with intelligence.  Some of the early attempts in my life are very embarrassing – my grammar and style were atrocious.  And the things I worried about – whoa baby!!, I was such a self-centered brat.  But even those offerings are appreciated because they reflect who I was at that point in life. 
As I have aged and hopefully matured, my methods of transmission have improved and relieve some of the stress readers experience when writing is unintelligible (though my handwriting seems to be digressing).  My journals have become a place to practice my writing in addition to being a way to share what I hope for my posterity and what joy they bring to my life.

Here are a couple of other regrets/suggestions that I would share.

What I wouldn’t give to have some writings from my dad and mom to help me see how they became the special people they are today.  Their record of progression would invite hope for me and my children as we witnessed, through their eyes, the challenges that changed and blessed their lives.  I’m hoping there are some hidden documents that will, one day, appear to shed light on the mysteries of their sojourn on earth.

And lastly, as I read through some of the things I have written, I am extremely embarrassed.  There were events and experiences that I recorded that show just how dumb and ……. well, just stupid I can be.  You know what I’m talking about.

My protective first inclination is to cover up all the missteps – I even did that a few times when I was younger.  Experience has shown that those humiliating times when ignorance prevailed need to be left alone.  Everyone needs to know that Grandpa wasn’t perfect.  But they also need to know that Grandpa overcame the humbling events that he got himself into.  There has to be redemption.

The stories of our lives are mundane to us – we lived them – and they often seem worthless and irrelevant to anyone else.  Those same stories, shared with people of our lineage, become great documents of discovery and love.  

I believe in writing our own personal story.
It might be a journal.
For some it is a blog.
Others do scrapbooking.

Whatever it is, the effort will be rewarded by the love the succeeding generations of your family feel for you as they read your experiences. 

Please take time to write.  Let them know you care.  The eternal gift will be more than you can imagine. 

Now, pull up a clean document in Word and get busy!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Shortly after we moved back to Utah in 1984, we were introduced to a couple who have a great influence on our lives. 

In early 1985 I was called to be a counselor to the bishop of our ward.  He was a fine man and had recently been called to the position.  His other counselor was a burly, gruff sounding gentleman named Don Bawden.  He and his wife, Marsha, were faithful parents and exemplary saints and had two characteristics that I appreciated:

They loved to play and they really loved to WORK. 

Don and Marsha had 7 children and it was not uncommon to see the whole family out in their yard, sometimes playing but more often working.  The Bawden’s were always working.  Sometimes under duress, but everyone participated.

Don is 10 years older than I am so I would often watch to see what I could expect as our children aged.  And I know Teresa was mindful to emulate many of the things that Marsha exemplified – which was pretty easy for her cause she is a lot the same.

As the years have progressed, what started out as an acquaintance because of Church service soon grew to a friendship that has become very important to both Teresa and me.  In fact, when I was called to be bishop, my first choice for a counselor was my good friend Don Bawden.  He was always straight with me and let me know when I needed to make course corrections.

The Bawden’s are good people because they are true to themselves and the faith they profess.  Don never put on airs – he just did what was right.  Marsha’s selflessness was known to anyone who was even a faint acquaintance.  Her perpetual smile and positive attitude helped many overcome great challenges in their lives.  Despite many of her own struggles, I can say that I have NEVER heard Marsha complain about anything.

 NEVER, as in not once in 30+ years.

I mention these good people because this past week we attended the funeral for Marsha Bawden.  She developed cancer about a year ago and finally succumbed, despite vigorous efforts by the medical profession. 

Marsha Bawden
She was only 66 years old and had many joys left to experience in this life.  But her time in mortality is complete and she has proven herself worthy of the expectations of her God so she is welcomed back into His presence.  Her family will miss her but the legacy she has built will be felt through generations untold. 

And her pain in this life is finished (though she never mentioned it).

Her funeral was yesterday (Monday, Aug. 11) and the chapel and overflow were packed with many chairs in the cultural hall.  Marsha will be missed but her goodness will never be forgotten.  And the faith of her good husband, my friend Don, will endure and allow them to be reunited again when his test in mortal form is complete.

Good people!! 

Yep, I think the Bawden’s qualify.

Monday, August 4, 2014


I think this is my first official food review.  Maybe, if it works out  I will try some more.  Might be a good way to get to eat out a little with my favorite 'cute girl.'


Not a real Smashburger but didn't want to violate
any laws.
A couple of years ago we discovered “Smashburger” at one of the outside stores in the Valley Fair Mall.  We didn’t actually eat in much but we liked their food enough to go and buy some to take home.  It was tasty and flavorful so we made it a traditional meal about once a month.

Many times, especially when she had worked hard with the daycare, Teresa would, without saying it in words (you know, that eye-look thing women do), indicate she would really like to have a “Smashburger” for dinner.  And practicing to become the kind and loving husband I hope to be someday, I would scuttle off to the little shop and retrieve her favorite.

But the last year or so has seen a change.  I don’t know if it is corporate decisions or lack of funding or just a general disdain for the upkeep of quality, but the “Smash” people aren’t the same as they used to be.

One of the things I really liked (I think other places do this now) was the juiciness of the meat that comes from ‘smashing’ the patty with a – well, a metal smashy something.  It’s supposed to keep the juices intact and still let the meat cook sufficient for consumption.  When we first started eating “Smashburger”, it was apparent that something different was happening and we loved it.  Frankly, that’s what encouraged us to come back again and again.

But lately, despite visiting several different stores in the valley that offer this product, what we have been getting is meat that is cooked but not at all ‘juiced.’

Could it be that they have gone to a poorer quality meat?  Or maybe have they changed their cooking process?  Can you blame it on us because we have grown ‘accustomed to your face’ (can you guess what that is a reference to?) and it just isn’t exciting anymore?  I don’t know, but our experience is not the same.

But alas, it isn’t just the problem of dry burgers that has us flummoxed.  Our first encounter with “Smashburger” introduced us to “Smash-Fries” – a unique mix of thin potato fries, delicately flavored with olive oil, kosher salt, rosemary, and garlic.  The taste was different/delightful but not overpowering and the ingredients didn’t get in the way of enjoying the food.

Lately, it seems that there is some agreement with the olive oil industry to distribute as much of their product as possible with every single serving of this formerly delicious side dish.  In recent purchases, oil smothers the fries so completely that it is difficult to tell what other ingredients may be attached to the small little potato strips.  And when one finishes a meal, there is a feeling that you have just done a 5000 mile oil change on one of your cars and a shower is necessary.

I’m not sure we want to give up just yet so I suspect that we will try “Smashburger” a couple more times to see if things can be salvaged. But I’m not very hopeful after the last several visits we have made.  Maybe it’s time to see who else has something good to offer in the burger market. 
If you have suggestions please let me know.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, August 1, 2014


There is a quote, attributed to Brigham Young, and used by many dissidents, in the Church and out, to create doubt in the words of living Prophets:

The greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord.Brigham Young
The 2nd Prophet of this Dispensation

I have seen and heard this quote numerous times from people who preach that we must be careful to not take the things prophets teach at face-value.  They suggest that every word a prophet speaks must be challenged and considered before it is accepted as the word of God.  It appears to be a tactic to take away some of the power of scriptural revelations such as:    

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. (D&C 1:38)

Here is a real shocker!!

The quote is not from Brigham Young.  It is not correct.  And it is not the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A fine young man who was disturbed by continual reference to the quote did some research and discovered the genesis of the message. 

His post is rather lengthy (for obvious reasons you will see) but very useful in debunking the false teachings of those who would cast doubt on the words of living prophets.

Prophets are fallible and can make errors in judgment concerning many things.  But when they speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, they are speaking the words of Christ.  Our response is not to doubt, but to confirm the message using the same method by which the message was given.

This truth is the kind that you can rely on in all circumstances.  Of course, you will need to have a testimony of prophets and apostles before it will make sense.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


“Pride is the great enemy of unity…just days ago I watched as two people – good people – began with a mild disagreement.  It started as a discussion of what was true but became a contest about 
who was right.(Pres. Henry B. Eyring)

Pres. Henry B. Eyring

 It is difficult to go a day without hearing or seeing discussions (sometimes heated) on topics of seeming import to the whole world.

Opinions are created by the things we believe and the environment that has influenced our own reality.  These deeply held beliefs are so ingrained in our character that often times we only vaguely understand where they originated.

Our world is not made up of individual entities, living out their existence devoid of contact with outside influences.  Societies are a conglomeration of separate people who have chosen to band together for safety, convenience, and association.  Recognizing the need for joint efforts, most communities develop systems of compromise that allow for the beliefs of the individual while still protecting the group as a whole.

Difficulties arise as one or more individuals determine ‘their’ needs are more critical than the group as a whole.  The focus then becomes not the benefit to the society but the specific need of the one.  And the ensuing discussion changes from how to improve the society to how to accommodate the individual.

Imagine the difference if parties involved in leading were to sit down and discuss their desires, needs, opinions, etc. and do so with the intent to benefit ALL and not just the individual or small group.  When personal agendas are set aside and “what is good for everyone” is considered, I suspect better solutions would arise to nearly every problem encountered in this life.

The world is full of lobbyists, specialists, religionists, scientists, and any other kind of “ists” you might know.  Each is focused on their own little part of the world – at the expense of anything that gets in their way.  Often their agenda creates ‘unintended consequences’ – to the detriment of everyone but their own “ist.”  The end result can be devastating and deadly.

Unity is the only solution to problems like this.

Not unity in opinion, but unity in purpose.

The best example I can think of is the founding of this nation.  A group of men, varied in their beliefs and desires, recognized a need to do something good for the people in their care.  These men worked, discussed, fought, and endured until they were able to create something wonderful – a government unlike anything the bulk of the world had ever seen.

Were there contentions? 
Of course!!!

There were some pretty strong-willed people in this
gathering -- but they found a way!

Were there petty desires? 

Did many individuals have to give up treasured opinions or agendas for the sake of the whole? 


The result of their efforts was the United States of America.
Notice the first word. 


Unity was the key. Not necessarily unity in belief, but unity in the desire to join together in a process that was greater than the individual flames burning in each person.


Not in who was right, but in what was right for the whole gave the world an example of what could be.

Is it possible to change the course of where we are headed (or where we find ourselves today)? 

I don’t know. 
I certainly hope so.

Things will not change until everyone determines that the course of the world/nation is more important than the petty (or major) desires of one group, person, or entity of any kind.

And things will not change until the desire of the group is to live in such a way that the truths of right are the baseline for any actions we take.

Decency, morality, honesty, love, hope, patience, selflessness, and faith must take precedence over all other desires.

Yes, I know, that sounds like we need to be religious. 

We do!! 

Without some form of godliness or goodness in our lives, we will be forever wandering in darkness struggling with how to be happy.

You don’t have to be a Latter-day Saint or a Christian but the principles of good and right must be part of the equation if unity and peace are to be established once again. 

Life can’t always be about what “I” want.

Let me give you a modern day example.

At the beginning of this essay I quoted Henry B. Eyring, a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He is one of 15 men on the earth today who leads the Church.

The First Presidency
When the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meet together each Thursday, they discuss important decisions that must be made for the benefit of the Church and the world.  Each item on their agenda is presented and discussed and a decision is made about what to do. 

There are usually three choices for each item:
1.    Proceed and do what is proposed
2.   Remove the item from the agenda
3.   Table a decision until a later time

Sounds pretty normal.

Kind of like a business meeting with high-powered executives in any large company you might imagine.  (BTW, these men are not novices to this process.  Most have had extensive careers in the world to prepare them for their calling).

The Quorum of the Twelve
But here’s the kicker to their process.

NOTHING can proceed, no matter the importance to individuals or the Church as a whole, unless there is complete unity between all fifteen. (see D&C 107:27)

If one holds out, the matter is tabled and reviewed at a later date.

Unity is required for approval of any decision.  

No exceptions!

Imagine how Congress would look if that were the criteria for getting things done.

The resulting chaos, based on today’s Congress, would be disastrous.

 Things have to change in our country/world.  We can’t keep separating ourselves by the name tags of our desires, wants, attractions, religions, or anything else that piques our fancy.

We must find a way to unify and improve, not divide and tear down.

Enoch was successful -- after 365 years.
In the history of this earth, there has only been one society that exceeded the expectations we have for the United States.  They succeeded because they put away their selfishness and worked for the benefit of all.  It took them 365 years to accomplish their goal, but they persevered until they won the “battle for unity.”

I believe it is possible but it has to start with individuals.  Each person has to decide to seek for unity and peace or nothing will ever happen.
It’s hard to change.

But it can be done.

I’m willing to try.  How about you?

Monday, July 21, 2014


It’s one of those days when I want to write but I don’t have a particular message I want to send out.  That leaves me in the position of simply recording some my thoughts and letting that be the post.


I used to be a pretty good typist.  When I was in high school I could pound out 50-60 words per minute – rivaling some of the girls in our typing class.  And that was on the old fashioned typewriters that required you to hit the return bar and push really hard on the keys.
Yes, this is what they look like.
No, there is no processor or monitor.

With the advent of computer keyboards my speed and accuracy increased exponentially.  But for the last year or so I have noticed a decided decrease in my ability to tell my fingers where the letters are on the keyboard.  Part of it might be that there is some urgency in everything I do lately.  But I suspect most of it is just a rebellion in the extremities of the body and the connection they have with the brain.

Stupid Old Age!!!  And I’m not really that old yet!!!


Working with young people gives me a chance to watch most of them begin the process of driving.  There is a wide range of emotions with these kids and some I am a little surprised to witness.
I drove one just like this for a couple of years.  I miss it.

For instance, while there are many that are thrilled, excited, overcome with joy, etc. to get a license to populate the roads, there is also a growing number of young people who choose to avoid the prospect of driving.  Excuses range from no interest to fear of failure.  Several boys I know have yet to begin the process of learning and they are nearly graduated from High School.

As a youth, the milestone of driving was anticipated with….. well, great anticipation.  And to consider avoiding the opportunity was unthinkable.  You weren't a real teen unless you ached to drive a car.  I’m sure the insurance companies are grateful for those who choose not to take the wheel but it just doesn't

 seem right.  What is this world coming to?

New Digs

After 7 years teaching at Granger High School, I have been moved to Hunter High.  It’s not very far from Granger but it a little bigger school and faculty.  Where we had only three of us at Granger for the past few years, Hunter has 7 teachers.  There is a bigger office here (though I haven’t used an office for years) and the school is slightly closer than Granger was last year.  But it will mean getting used to a new group of students –
and more importantly for them, getting used to me.

I am the old guy here – by about 10 years.  And the majority of the other teachers are young enough to be my children.  But they will learn to fear me as all others have in the past.  Or they will ignore as even more have done.  Anyways, I am here and suspect this may be my last stop before retirement.


We went to see Teresa’s folks last weekend.  Her mom is still struggling with dementia/Alzheimer and her dad is the primary caretaker.  Last time we were down I asked if he would like to go to the Temple next time we came and he thought that would be a good idea.  So Saturday morning we took the drive over Huntington/Fairview Canyon and deposited ourselves at the Manti Temple.

The Manti Temple
This is the same Temple where Teresa and I were sealed 37+ years ago so it has some significance to us.  It is a unique design and is built from the local sandstone that was quarried in the area.  As expected, Saturday was pretty crowded with weddings, students visiting, and lots of people attending as we were.  We had a delightful visit and I think Teresa’s dad was relieved to have a little break from the regular routine of his day.  My next goal is to get him to one of the newer temples (Provo, Payson, Timp) and let him experience the different video presentations they have.


I think everyone knows we are up to 16 grandchildren now.  Benjamin Gregory was born a few weeks ago and is going through the normal process of growing, crying, eating, crying, eating, other things, more crying, even more eating, etc. 

Benji with his big sister Becca and his brother Chris.
Becca really loves to hold the baby.
He came just a few weeks ago.
Having the kids so close means we are well acquainted with all the fun things each of them do.  And all the unique experiences we have with them make the years we spent as parents, pulling our hair out, crying, cringing and wondering what ever possessed us to bring those five special souls down to earth so we could savor the joys they would bring into our lives worth it (BTW, this is a really good run-on sentence… use it for an example if you ever need one).  Anyone who does not want grandchildren has no idea what they are missing.  


A short note for anyone who might think entering our home illegally – please don’t do it.  We are not that OLD yet and we still have a few defenses.  Yes, you might scare us a little but I think we might also frighten you.  I mention this because of an experience we had last week.

It was somewhat late (probably about 11:00 pm) and we were about to retire for the night.  Suddenly there was a noise that sounded like someone was pounding on the side of the house – Thump – thump – THUMP!!!

We looked at each other and then looked at the door, wondering who was going to go down first.  I finally gave in (I am, after all, the man and required to protect the house and family) and crept slowly down the stairs to have a look.  Teresa followed me shortly (neither of us brought a weapon – bat, shovel, gun, etc.) and we carefully looked around the main floor of the house.  NOTHING!!

Gathering my ------- well, I don’t know what I gathered but I decided it was time to look in the basement and see what was there.  Again, NOTHING!!

We checked out the big room on the side of the house.  NOTHING!!!

Finally, I girded up my loins and fresh courage took and tiptoed to the apartment to see what might be hiding in the shadows.  NOTHING!!

Very puzzling.  But also very disturbing.  Though it was probably too late, I determined to be better prepared immediately.  I got a weapon and put it beside the bed – that way I would be ready for the next occurrence.

Eventually we went to sleep and had a good laugh the next morning.  When I came home from work that day Teresa asked me to come to the kitchen.  Guess what she found?  One of the drawers in the counter/cupboard had fallen off its track (who knows why) and dropped down into the cupboard below resulting in the thumping sound.  Boy did we feel silly – BUT –

Anyone who is thinking of thumping or bothering our home any time in the near future better be careful.  I am now ready!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Prior to a conference in late September 1830, a man named Hiram Page, living in western New York, found a small flat stone (3”x5” approx.) with two small holes in it.  Not unlike many others of his day, he determined that this stone was somehow imbued with power for receiving revelation from God.  Accordingly, he began to claim visions pertaining to various subjects.

An example of a seer stone.

Hiram was not an evil or deluded man – he was simply following what he considered to be the proper path for determining the will of God.  After all, his friends had shared with him their testimony that another young man, Joseph Smith, had followed a similar path in receiving truth from Heaven.  Hiram only wanted to be faithful as Joseph had taught.

The grave of Hiram Page

Page’s experience was shared with his family and friends resulting in great excitement.  But when Joseph Smith was informed, he had reservations about the propriety of Hiram’s actions.  Living in Harmony, Pennsylvania (250 miles away), Joseph felt it serious enough that he chose to visit with the parties involved.

Joseph’s concern didn’t come because Hiram was receiving revelation – all are promised that “the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5). Revelation is a gift from God and should be sought to help our lives conform with what He desires of us.  No, Hiram was not wrong to seek answers, but Joseph felt there was something out of order.

When the young Prophet arrived in New York he gathered all those involved and allowed them to share their feelings on the matter.  Then he did what prophets should always do – he sought for and received the will of God.  Afterwards, he asked those involved to consider the new information.  It was a hard thing for these good people – especially for Hiram and Oliver Cowdery.

Eventually, after much discussion (some of it heated), prayer, and revelation from the Holy Ghost, it was agreed that the counsel of the Lord, through Joseph Smith, was the correct path to follow.  Hiram disavowed the revelations, Oliver confessed that he had been deceived, and a new truth was established as doctrine in the Restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Section 28 of the Doctrine and Covenants records the full text of the revelation but for the purposes of this essay, I want to focus on verse 2.

But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses. (D&C 28:2)

Lest someone misinterpret the message, let me explain.  The Lord, through His appointed prophet, is not saying only prophets can receive revelation.  He is saying that no one except the prophet can receive revelation for the Church.  Were it otherwise, how could there be order in the Kingdom?

Not really a hard concept to understand.

It is not the prerogative of the members of God’s church to determine what is and isn’t doctrine. 

That’s like allowing the foot-soldiers of an army to decide where and how battles should be fought.  Imagine the confusion if generals could be countermanded in battle plans or methods of warfare according to the whims of the rank and file.

The Church of Christ is not an army in the worldly sense of the word.  We are volunteers, not conscripts.

But there needs to be order in the operation of God’s work or confusion will prevail.  To allow outside influences to detract from the mission of the Savior, as revealed to His appointed prophets, is tantamount to ceding victory to the adversary.

That is not to say that the members of the Church cannot ask questions and seek understanding.  Joseph himself inquired of God, resulting in the First Vision.  At later times questions were asked to invite revelation necessary for a restoration of essential ordinances and covenants.  But the doctrines, principles, ordinances, and covenants of God must be administered by His methods as revealed through His prophets.

Voices crying for change are not unusual.  Motives for change are not that different from the cries of yesteryear. 

Moses listened as the children of Israel yearned to return to the ‘flesh-pots’ and gods of the Egyptians. 

Not good results for many of those participating
in the festivities.
Elijah stood as witness to the priests of Baal and Ashtoreth as they proclaimed their works to be righteous and their gods to be all-powerful – only to be consumed by the fires of Jehovah. 

I especially like when Elijah
tells the priests of Baal to call louder
cause their god might be sleeping.
Modern voices have every right to ask for answers to the relevant questions of our day.  But they cannot expect to remain unscathed when they advocate rebellion or abandonment of the principles and truths of God.

I certify that our Heavenly Father knows what He is doing with the people of the Earth.  I am confident that our Savior, Jesus Christ, speaks through His prophets and helps them know what should be done.  I am also aware that He, from time-to-time, allows us to struggle before He resolves questions we think we need answers to


That is part of our learning and growth – part of the exercise of Agency.

That is the Plan.