Friday, June 28, 2013


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to welcome a new member of our family to mortality.

Jaxon Archer Whitmer made his entrance to this world on Wednesday and is progressing nicely for a 4 week early preemie.  His little lungs need some work so the doctors are applying all their knowledge and skill to help in that project.

He seems to like sleeping on his tummy.
Here are two pictures of the little guy.  To me, he looks a lot like Hayden but others disagree and my aging eyes aren't always the most accurate.

This is the pic that looks like Hayden

More later as he progresses and goes home.

Jenny with the other two scamps

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Last night I was having a difficult time getting to sleep.  When that problem occurs one of my solutions is to get a good hymn running through my head so I can calm things down and drift off.  My choice last night was hymn # 165 – Abide with Me; ‘Tis Eventide…

          Abide with me; ‘tis eventide.
          The day is past and gone;
          The shadows of the evening fall;
          The night is coming on.
          Within my heart a welcome guest,
          Within my home abide.

Thankfully, it did the trick and I soon drifted off to a somewhat restful sleep.  But when I woke this morning I found that there was cause to seek after greater help in finding peace.  It seems the Supreme Court of the United States has chosen to change the way things are done where it concerns the laws of marriage.

          Abide with me; ‘tis eventide.
          Thy walk today with me
          Has made my heart within burn,
          As I communed with thee.
          Thy earnest words have filled my soul
          And kept me near thy side.

Despite thousands of years of tradition and support from the majority of the American public, the federal Defense of Marriage Act was found to be unconstitutional because it perpetuated a perceived form of discrimination.  This decision equates the denial of marriage rights between same-sex couples with the denial of rights for individual races to be treated fairly.  The challenge now becomes to protect the rights of religious entities (Churches) from laws that will seek to force changes in their beliefs concerning marriage.

          Abide with me; ‘tis eventide.
          And lone will be the night
          If I cannot commune with the,
          Nor find in thee my light.
          The darkness of the world, I fear,
          Would in my home abide.

Truthfully, I was sure this day would come so I am not that surprised.  But I am saddened that we have come so far and fallen so low that this has become the norm for our society. 

          O Savior, stay this night with me;
          Behold, ‘tis eventide.
          O Savior, stay this night with me;
          Behold, ‘tis eventide.

As dark as the days ahead may appear, there is the knowledge that we know who wins the war.  The Savior and His followers will find peace after the night of darkness as they follow the prophets of God.  May we have the calm that comes from knowing the truth.

Jesus will win this war!!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I love surprises, especially when they are about something dear to my heart.  So Father’s Day this year was wonderful.  Missy and Josh brought their troops down to visit and we really enjoyed their time with us.  Later we packed up and made the trek to Brian’s house for a dinner/gathering with the South Jordan Whitmer’s (Josh and Heather are there also).

In the course of the evening several gifts were offered to the old guy as a commemoration of the day.  One in particular was most welcome----- it is pictured below:

Baby bottle with a note that says
Grandchild #15

It seems we are growing again!!  JJJJ

Jenny is due very soon with little Jaxon Archer (number 14) and now Heather has announced she is ready to contribute to the family line from their branch (grandchild #15).  We are thrilled and look forward to a lovely/handsome little ‘un sometime in early 2014.

Secretly I have had a goal for our kids to bring 20 grandchildren into the world so we are well on our way.  Whoopppppeeeeeeee!!!!!!

(Sssshhhhh, don't let them know)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


When Brian was a new little guy we lived in California.  Shortly after his birth he became sick and I was tasked with taking him to the doctor to see what was wrong.  Now, mind you, I was a ‘mature’ father of three and figured I had all things fatherly figured out so this was no big deal.

The doctors were worried he might have some problem with his lungs so we went to the x-ray center for some pictures.  I was concerned how we would get good shots with a wiggly little boy but the nurse assured me things would work out just fine. 

So how do you take x-rays of an infant?  Below is a picture of what they used!!

A little bigger than Brian was but you get the picture.

It seems like a good way to do things……. Until you put the baby in the confounded unit.  Being as I couldn't be right there with him and comfort his fears – I was clear across the room and even disappeared for the time it took to shoot the film – poor little Brian was terrified and screamed bloody murder.  His little eyes were pleading with me to come rescue him from this evil thing that had captured him but there wasn't much I could do.  And being helpless while my little boy was in such distress was almost more than my young dad heart could bear (it hurts even now just thinking about it)..

Before the doctors could wave me in I was removing Brian from the torture chamber, holding his chubby little hand and trying to calm him down AND apologizing for leaving him with the bad old doctors like that.  He just looked at me with the eyes of someone who wasn't sure why he had been abandoned but was very glad to see me back.

That’s been the story of Brian all the ensuing years.  He takes hurt and pain – emotional and physical – with an attitude of patience and forgiveness for those involved.  Everyone is his friend and everyone loves to be around Brian.   Sometimes I wonder why he keeps associating with certain folks but then I realize that it is because he is just a good person and is trying to live a Christ-like life. 

Our middle-child has grown up to become someone very special and important in our lives.  Thanks Brian for being such a good son.  We love you and your little (well, not so little anymore) family.  We love being a part of your life.

Christoper, Paula, Brian, Becca and Katie

Friday, June 7, 2013


Let me begin this post by making a confession about one of my personal biases. 
I know it is wrong but there is a part of me that has always had a negative feeling towards “Evangelists” who preach and pound the pulpit for Jesus.  Being raised as a Latter-day Saint, I am not fond of loud preaching or strongly worded messages steeped in “hell-fire and brimstone.”  But as I have gained more experience in mortality I have come to see that there is value to these men sharing their messages because it can often have a positive effect on some who need that type of calling. 
Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s there were many instances where Billy Graham would have a special message on TV and I steadfastly ignored anything he had to say.  Time has shown me that, despite some of the doctrinal differences I might have with Mr. Graham (and others like him), they are doing good things for those who are in need of a change in life.  A perfect example is found in a book I just finished reading (I mentioned it in my last post) called “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemptionby Laura Hillenbrand.  Here is a short synopsis of the message – I found it very uplifting and appreciate the power that can come from the Atonement, even when preached by Billy Graham (tongue planted firmly in cheek).
Louie qualifying for the 5000 meters in the Olympic Trials.
He's the one on the left with Torrance on his jersey.
Louis Zamperini was a famous collegiate track star from the pre-World War II days who ran for the USC track team.  His specialty was the 1500 meters but he ran the 5000 meters in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and placed 8th.  As a depression-era young man, his life seemed to be headed for a storybook finish.

Looking at one of many holes in his B-24 during one raid. 
But life had another plan for Louie.  In 1941 he enlisted in the Army and was assigned to be a bombardier in a B-24 Liberator bomber.  Eventually, he and his crew were involved in a crash that claimed all but 3 lives of an 11 man crew.  Louie and two friends were left stranded in a lifeboat for 47 days before they were finally captured by the Japanese.  For the next 28 months Zamperini was a prisoner of war in conditions that were – well let’s say they were less than favorable.  He was especially tormented by one guard who seemed to have chosen Louie as his special project for humiliation.

The Bird -- he took special pleasure
in tormenting prisoners, especially Louie
Miraculously, the war ended and Louie found himself returned to the protection of the U.S. and his family.  But the ravages of war continued to plague his life and his mind.  He began drinking and was on the verge of losing his beautiful wife when a miracle occurred.

Louie and Cynthia, his wife
Knowing that the marriage was near dissolution, Louie’s wife convinced him to go with her to see a new preacher named Billy Graham.  What happened was a miracle worthy of recording in the scriptures and changed the whole course of one man’s life.  He learned that his troubles could be overcome through the love of Christ and that he could even learn to forgive those who had been his worst enemies.  But most importantly, peace was available and accepted and lives around Louie were changed.

I highly recommend this book.  Louis Zamperini is now 96 years old but he still exudes the faith he gained from his experiences so many years ago.  He might state what has happened to him in different words than I would but I believe he has experienced the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ as he has come to accept the attributes of a follower of Christ.  And when he stands before Jesus for judgment I believe he will find a loving and caring friend in our Elder Brother.
Louis Zamperini at age 94

Monday, June 3, 2013


When I got my new glasses I had the choice between conventional bi-focals or the new “progressive” lenses.  Both eyeglass places I visited suggested I would be happier with the progressives (despite the awful feelings the term gives me) so I made that choice.  In hindsight, I’m not so sure it was a good idea.  It is nice to not have a line where the prescription changes, but I was not aware of the distortion the progressive lenses would create.

When I first started using them, I was concerned because nothing seemed level to my eyesight.  Then the realization came that it was the lenses that were causing the problem.  The end result is that I don’t trust my own eyes anymore when it comes to hanging pictures or leveling a board.
And the other problem is that I have to move my head up and down until I find the correct part of the lens for the distance I want to see.  Sometimes that creates an odd image.  But I can see, so I guess I will accept that for now.

Getting mad used to be a common part of my life.  It didn’t take much – but I usually didn’t explode into a rage or turn green.  Mostly I would ignore people or make sarcastic remarks (or make up dumb rules for the kids to show them who was really the boss).

See, I don't turn green!!
Age has mellowed me to a considerable degree and I tend to not get angry much anymore.  There is still a lot of sarcasm (though much less than before) but not the biting kind that hurt so much. 
Much of my ‘rage’ was a result of feeling inferior to other people but I have since realized that everyone has weakness – I’m just more familiar with mine than others.

There are lots of things in my life that I regret but being angry so much is way up near the top of the list.  I apologize to those who were the objects of my insanity and hope my adult-self will be a sign of the changes.

A year or so ago I borrowed a book from Brian called “The Book Thief.”  The story starts out a little strange (turns out death is the narrator) but after a couple of chapters it became very intriguing.  If you need a good story, try this one – you won’t be disappointed.

Clayton Christensen has a new book out called “The Power of Everyday Missionaries” that is a great primer on how to share the gospel.  This man is no slacker when it comes to good ideas and this book has some wonderful examples of how to share without being afraid.

I’m still reading this book, “ Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” but find it very enjoyable.  It’s the story of Louie Zamperini and his exploits during WWII as a bombardier and prisoner of war.  The author is the same woman who wrote “Seabiscuit” and did such a nice job.

On a lighter note: Brian gave Joel a book called “Shades of Grey” for Christmas.  Of course, we all mistook it for that other book with a similar name and were confused by the choice (as Brian had hoped).  Teresa is currently reading it and has decided it isn’t as bad as the “other” grey book is purported to be so maybe I will try it when she is done.

In preparation for our trip to the Bahamas this summer, we have purchased a little GoPro Hero2 camera.  It’s supposed to be great for the adventures we are planning as we scuba and travel to new environs.  I think it will take a little practice so I might end up posting a video or two for that purpose. 

BTW, one of the reasons is so we can video our Shark Dive while we are in the Bahamas.  This is not a cage dive but one where we will be right there with the dangerous beasts!!!  Everyone is excited except a couple of the in-laws.  We will let them take care of the kids while we are getting eaten by the big-tooth fish.