Friday, July 30, 2010

Animal Traps

That's Mom, Naomi, Jim, David, and Me Mom, Naomi, Jim, David, and Me—Clifton Chapel (I think)

When I was a little boy, someone (probably my dad) taught me how to make animal traps  out of old fruit boxes.  We would take the ends off the box (about 6”X 12” X1”) and nail four of them together in a long, rectangular shape (sort of like a square tube).  Then we would put window screen or a fine mess fencing on one end of the box and a door on the other.  The door had a string that held it up and was arranged so that if the animals ate some food we tied to the string, the door would fall down and catch them. (There was more to it than described, but I can’t give all the instructions…you know, violation of military secrets and such).



Our traps were similar to this one, though not as fancy.

The traps were primitive but very effective in catching little critters (preferably chipmunks and squirrels but sometimes birds got in).  Most often we would just release the animals but sometimes they would become so anxious about their captivity that they would harm themselves in an effort to escape.  Many of our captured friends ended up with bloody noses from crashing against the screen, but we tried to let them out before any permanent damage was done.

I’ve thought about some of the traps encountered in my own life and have recognized that most are just as simple and effective as those I created as a boy.  Let’s look at a few that have given me trouble.


This has always been my dream car….still don’t have it.



Growing up somewhat deprived of the THINGS of life (at least in my eyes), I determined early that I was going to be sure to have enough money and stuff so that I could be “happy”.  One of my life goals (in addition to a family, serving in the Church, etc.) was to have a MILLION DOLLARS by the time I was 30 so I would never have to struggle again.  College and work led me to a career that was very profitable and had me well on my way to success.

What I found was that, while the trap of wealth was exciting, it was also restricting and distracting.  In order to have lots of money you have to work lots of hours or make lots of concessions.  And those concessions and hours left bloody marks on my soul because they took me away from what I really  wanted.  A few painful events (not to be discussed at this time) finally convinced me that “things” weren’t really that important.  Since then I have been much more at peace with myself and my life.

An equally difficult trap has been that STUPID TV.  While I have made progress in this regard, it is still a thorn in my side and in the foot of my sweetheart.  I’m better at the quality of what I watch and I (most of the time) can control the amount, but there are still times when the trap slams shut and I am frantically running around, trying to get free once again.  My hope is that before I die it will be a non-issue (maybe I will go blind or something).




This last one is a little more sensitive so I ask for your kindness as you discover my weaknesses.


There, I said it.  Now you all know and you can see that I have such a long way to go in life (some of you may remember that I tried to sell off a few of my faults a while back but I forgot to include this one.  Oh well, it wouldn’t have mattered because no one wanted the other items so I would still be stuck with this one.). 

Here I am, serving as bishop in my ward, trying to help the members improve their lives, and one of my greatest weaknesses is that I am more concerned with myself than I am with other people.  Oh, there are days when I think I am doing OK but then I revert back to ME mode and ignore what others need.  Then I start wondering why I’m not in tune so much and in finally comes to me that I have forgotten what I’m really supposed to be doing. 

You would not believe the scars and scratches I have endured because of my own stupid decisions…forgetting that I am here to serve and bless everyone else. 

But there is hope!!  I have faith in the Savior and His Atonement!!!  He can help me!!!!  He can open all the traps and let me out.

Christ at the door

That’s the only way I will ever be free. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Out With The Old

When I first became a Seminary Teacher I thought it would be a good idea to replace my scriptures every four years.  The idea was that if I had to relearn where everything was, it would improve my teaching and keep me sharp.

A large print quad in brown was my first set for teaching.
Tried to use this compact version of the quad but they printed the letters too small for my eyes. Silly Deseret Press!

Before my 5th year of teaching I received a new set of scriptures for Christmas and decided it was time to be brave and make the change.  I became very comfortable with this set and became very proficient at finding anything I wanted to share with very little effort.  The fact that I was still trying to figure things out made the transition somewhat easier.

image image
These were the Christmas gift 1999 and I loved them (mine weren’t indexed like these).

Fast forward four more years and we have a different situation. 
When it came time to “mothball” the black set…
I chickened out because there was so much time and effort invested in the markings and references.  I mean, there were hundreds of quotes glued in the pages and notes written in the margins and it made no sense to give all those things up when they were so useful in the classroom. 
No matter that the pages were beginning to look worn and the spine of the Bible was coming apart.  These were like a comfortable pair of shoes   and I loved them.
Think no ill of my using duct tape to preserve the integrity of the word of God.  I once was at a meeting and noticed the speaker, one of our leaders, had used the same method to hold onto his standard works.
IMG_0386 IMG_0387
The use of post-it notes has become common in my scriptures.  That way, if I find I have misinterpreted something, I can remove it as easily from my scriptures as I do from my mind.

But after 11 years, it is time to make a change.  Not just because it will help me be a better teacher BUT because the old books are really looking hammered.  And I can’t be afraid of making this change.  Besides, maybe I will be forced to teach something in a better way because I can’t remember (a different problem I will chat about on another day) how I did it before.  NO, it is time!!!  The die are cast and the deed is done! 

This is a burgundy Quad.  I know it looks like the brown but they are really different.  In fact, I don’t know if they even make the brown version anymore.

So, thanks to one of my counselors, there will be a new book (containing four books) on my podium this next school year.  I’m sure there will be struggles but I will persevere and come out the champion…or I will run, screaming from the room whenever I can’t find something. Ask me later how it is going.

BTW, my thought has always been that I will bequeath my old volumes to any of my children who might be interested in them.  Kinda like a scripture journal….but not!!!  Now that I am at that point, I’m not so sure any of them really want to have these beat up books in their possession.  What say ye, O children of mine?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Prep

I am often asked what teachers do with their summers.  There are even some people who think ALL school teachers have the months from June- August to do whatever they want. I can assure you that MY employer expects me to work the whole summer (except for those days I use for my vacation—which usually means scout camps, girls camps and other things like that) and I try to comply with their desires. 

My number one priority is to get things ready for students and have lessons prepared to teach.  Sadly, because we rotate our curriculum every year, I have to relearn and redo all my lessons…I mean, who can remember what you taught 4 years ago.  Saving old lessons works to a certain extent but usually I find that my view of what is important to teach has changed in the ensuing years.



(My work desk and accoutrements)

(I know, it is a bit of a mess but that’s how I work best)

The subject for this coming school year focuses on the Doctrine and Covenants.

Joseph Smith

Sometimes this can be the most difficult part of the standard works to teach.  Unlike the other books, there is not a story line or theme to the message.

There is just a collection of revelations, given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, that facilitated the organization of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

First Vision

Ahhh, but that is where we are very mistaken in our assumptions.  For, there is a story line to each of the sections in this great volume.  It just isn’t always in the text.

Ancient prophets who recorded their revelations and visions from God used the “journal” style to pass the information on to their people.  Even some of the modern prophets have used this method for latter-day revelations (see D&C 138).

Joseph Smith was careful to record all the things he considered to be the mind and will of God and those who compiled those writings into a book did so under his direction. 

But the context and reasons for the revelations are not always included in the text of the scriptures.  It takes personal effort and study to be clear about WHY things were given to the Prophet. 


That’s why it is good to use some of the books, written by men of the Gospel, to help in our understanding.  There are lots of them to help but I have been enjoying this one as I prepare this summer. 

Here are a few other parts of my prep that are going on this summer:


Getting the classroom ready.


salt lake temple

Attending the Temple (though, not this one)


OK, maybe a few means three or more but I couldn’t find the right pictures to represent the other things.  Just use your imagination and you will come up with some ideas on how I spend my summers.  And NO, I don’t just sleep all day!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Growing From Sorrow

Short post today. 


Take a few minutes and read the following attachment from

Jerry Johnston.

He’s onto something.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Scouts and Mountains

Last week I spent 6 days in the mountains with the Boy Scouts at their annual summer camp.  I enjoy camping but over the years I have had to adjust some of my gear to accommodate my ever changing physique.  No longer can I sleep directly on the ground and function the next day…there must be some sort of pad to protect my fragile form.
If you look carefully…..ahead and right, on the bottom bunk……. you will see blankets on top of an air mattress.  What you can’t see is the foam pad on top of the mattress to add comfort to my resting place.  You also can’t see the ear plugs I wore every night so I didn’t have to listen to the snoring of the whole gang.  They CLAIM that I snore but there is no proof.

My role on this campout was to serve as the Chief Cook for the troop.  This is a serious role because an army that doesn’t eat well cannot function well in their merit badge challenges!!!
Many think peanut-butter sandwiches aren’t much of an effort for a gourmet cook like me but those babies were made with special care and craftsmanship.  And the kids actually ate them!!!
Young men are made at these events.  And sometimes older men learn about themselves and their limitations.  The next photo is of our Scoutmaster who had just given a lecture about knife safety and then proceeded to demonstrate the negative. 
The cut went deep into the meat of the hand but is healing up quite nicely.

Camping in the Uintah’s can be an adventure when it comes to weather.  One minute it is beautiful and clear and the next………..Pea sized HAIL!!
(Notice it is the same hand?!!  And no, he didn’t get infection, despite his best efforts.)

Everyone had a great time and the boys came away with 61 merit badges (9 boys).  Here are a few random pictures to give a feel for the week.
105 107
Adirondacks instead of tents            Three boys canoeing                  Same three boys sinking
013                   125
2nd knife incident                        Boys seem to have a fascination with latrines!!??#&#%#^

057              058
I told the scouts of my experience catching animals when I was their age.  No one believed me (not even the adults) so I set up a trap to catch a chipmunk… a Nutcracker (bird) got careless and became my prize instead. 
Now they believe me!!!