Friday, May 29, 2015


Recently I was upgraded in my work instruments.

OK, I still have the same voice and my brain, though deteriorating somewhat is still reasonably useful, but there are other things that can be replaced when defective or past their useful limit.

My computer is an essential part of teaching and it has come time to change things out.

The laptop I have used for the past three years is on its last leg and some days I wonder about that one.  Startup can be anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 hours – and I don’t know why.  We have deleted lots of stuff and checked the memory but it is still unstable and very frustrating.

Really slow Lenovo -- Never has worked very well
and its not user problems!!!

My options for replacement were as follows:

1. A brand new laptop of the same brand as the old one.

2. A MacBook Pro with shiny new cover.
So Pretty, but very deceiving.
3. A desktop computer with a brand spanking new iPad Air2

I have the black version.

Option #1 was immediately thrown out because of past experience.

Option #2 was very intriguing and almost became my choice.  But I considered the learning curve and the current state of affairs in my head and determined that this was not the time to start all over again.  As I counseled with friends and family it became clear that I PROBABLY could change over to the MacBook but there was also the possibility that my brain would explode and then my wife would be left to fend for herself.

Option #3 then became the obvious choice.  So far, at least half of the decision has been positive.  The new iPad came last week and it has been a delight to use.  In fact, I am currently typing this posting from that unit.  The Air 2 is much lighter and clearer than my old iPad and has some other benefits over a laptop.

Now, if I could just get the desktop to arrive and be usable.

It did arrive at my office but at the exact same time it showed up I received an email from our tech people forbidding me to open the box.  Seems the vendor had imaged the computer with the wrong software and if the box was opened we would be stuck with the unusable computer.  So I am patiently (not so much) waiting for the arrival of the old, but properly imaged, device that is to sit on my desk for the next three years.

Belkin QODE Ultimate keyboard cover and case
In the meantime, I am NOT handcuffed because I still have my new iPad with a very functional keyboard (purchased separately) to keep me connected with the world.

At this moment, I am feeling pretty good about the arrangements.  Let’s hope I feel the same next year.

Of course, I will let you know. :-)

Ran into a problem with this post.  I guess Apple and Google really don't like one another.  Blogger doesn't have the option to download pictures from an iPad so I will have to go to my computer to put in the ones I wanted.  But that means I have to wait for the laptop to stop whatever it is secretly doing so I can access the drive. Who knows how long that will take.  If you don't see pics soon you know who to blame.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


A recent article in the Deseret News indicates that a change is likely coming for leadership opportunities in the Boy Scout program.  Despite reluctance from many of the sponsoring organizations, the National leadership seems bent on allowing openly gay men (and I presume women) to become leaders in the local units of the organization.

Scouting has been a part of my life since I was a boy.  It has been part of the LDS Church Young Men activities for much longer than that.  My life is better because of the things I learned and practiced as both a Scout and a leader of young men in Scouting.  All of my sons are Eagle Scouts and I truly believe that, despite some thoughts to the contrary, this particular award is one of the defining achievements of their young lives.

But (you knew that was coming didn’t you) as an organization, the BSA has marched down paths that seem counterproductive to their survival – and frankly, to their stated mission.  This current issue with gay leadership is not the only reason for their struggle.  Financial decisions on the local and regional level have alienated parents and donors to the program.  A lack of support for local and regional units in the face of civil suits has left a bitter taste in some mouths.  And a number of other issues in recent history have alienated former members and advocates to the point that they have ceased or greatly reduced supporting the BSA (judged by my experience with fundraising efforts in my local area).

With this new, expected change, I believe that many sponsoring organizations will finally feel the need to divorce themselves from an effective,  long-time source of training for young men.  Groups, especially many of those connected with religious entities, will likely determine that having their youth led by those who practice behavior opposed to their moral code creates too great a risk and will cease support for the Boy Scouts of America.

What a loss this will be for the young men who grow up in the aftermath of so much confusion.  They deserve better.

Things just can’t be easy in this ‘ole world. 

I’m sorry for what seems to be coming but I expect that this is just the first of many losses we will incur as the world changes.

BTW, for those who know, I am a Beaver. 

I will miss having that mean something.

P.S. I hope I am way off with these thoughts.  Scouting is a good thing for all involved. 

We can only hope.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I’m not a contractor but sometimes our projects give me the feel of what it might be like.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, you guessed right.  We are in remodeling mode once again at our house.
Tools of the trade.

The forewoman has laid out plans for our abode that are ambitious and exciting.  They are also somewhat daunting.  But we are experienced and willing to take on new challenges, so here we go again.

The last year of Teresa’s income from daycare was put away in a special fund, earmarked for upgrading areas of weakness/disaster in our home.  After 30+ years the need was great and could no longer be ignored.

Things started with the Living Room.  Much discussion finally resulted in resurfacing the hardwood floors instead of replacing them with carpet.  Most of the winter was spent with different iterations of what we wanted to accomplish but the end result is a very nice room with a totally different atmosphere than previously felt.  The defining touch was crown molding that covered up many old scars from failed attempts in the past.

Our present focus is the ‘RUMPUS ROOM’ (not really sure what that means but that’s what we call it).  The sheer size of the project (29’ x 14’) has caused some distress but we are not to be denied.  The old brick that was on the south side of the room has been removed (why the previous owners put it there, we will never know) and the ceiling is being redone to eliminate many of the lumps from poor texturing.  We just ordered carpet for the floors and a new back door will be installed in a couple of weeks.  Already, without the fancy things to come, we can feel a difference in the room and are anxious for the continued improvement.

Further improvements will include tile on the entry landing and new paint on the walls.  The intent is to make this a pleasant gathering place for family and friends in contrast to its previous designation as ‘daycare assembly room’. 

Next on the list will be a battle with the upstairs rooms.  Primary changes there will be paint and carpet, but again, the difference will be pleasant and appealing.  If dollars hold out, new blinds are also a possibility.

Oh, and I forgot about the kitchen.  The plan is to change out some of the appliances (our current stove only has one working burner – well another one will heat up but it rocks back and forth and is not very safe. And the oven heats up to whatever temperature it desires, without regard to how much it affects our meals)

The refrigerator is 1980’s vintage and is on its last leg. Maybe something with water and ice in the door (not required but sorely desired)

This might actually look better than our current model.
We thought we might get new cupboards but the money seems to be disappearing faster than planned.  My guess is that we will probably just paint or stain the current cabinets and make do with that until “our ship comes in.”

Without a doubt, it is a busy time at the Whitmer home. but, the boss is kind and sensitive to the failings of her workers so, for the most part, the whole experience is enjoyable.  Having done this several times before, it seems things are going much better than expected (I realize that I have just jinxed everything planned but I can’t stop myself).

It helps that we are a little more patient and willing to take our time – but that also can be hard when we want things done now!!  Patience is built with little (and big) projects like this. J

I will see if I can dig up some photos of the progress but I’m not guaranteeing anything.  Further updates may be offered if I remember.  Until then, happy remodeling to one and all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


We have lived in our house for more than 30 years and there have been a lot of changes to the appearance and setup.  In the early days, we would decide we wanted to change things but were unsure what to do.  Teresa’s dad was very helpful in giving us direction (and free labor) and over the years we developed skills that allowed us to do much of the work ourselves.

Teresa and Hayden are digging in the 'crypt' -- another project

Teresa is patient and stubborn and she eventually learned how to ‘mud’ and sand sheetrock so it looked nice after painting.   My talents were developed in electrical installation (with a few ‘shocking’ mishaps) and plumbing (not my favorite, but I can do it).  Between us we could ‘wrangle’ most other parts of construction and complete a project that looked at least passable (yes, there were times when we had to seek out professional help but they were few and generally secret).

In all this learning we discovered one great truth when it comes to remodeling/construction.

No matter how much you plan, prepare, save, and scheme there will always be more than you expected to any project.

Here’s a modern day example:

We are currently redoing what Teresa calls the ‘RUMPUS ROOM’ on the southern side of the house.  This is a large room, 29’x14’, that was used as a daycare for 30 or so years.  With no daycare we decided to make it more comfortable and appealing.  Our plan was to do some repairs on the walls, fix a couple of things in the ceiling (cracks in sheetrock mud – early Whitmer effort before we got better) and upgrade paint and carpet.

What we will end up doing is:

1.      Scrape all the texture off the ceiling and replace it with better texture

2.     Take all the sheetrock off the south walls and rewire the electrical

3.     Replace the insulation on that same wall (an outside wall)

4.     Replace all the moldings and sills for the windows

5.     Take out all the brick that covered the south walls (who knows why the former owners put it there)

6.     Put in two new ceiling fans to replace the one that never really helped such a big room

7.     Remove some random wiring that we found inside the walls – can’t figure out where it is going or why it was there

8.     Replace the back door and side windows so we can stop the wind from coming in through the cracks

9.     Level the floor on the south side so it doesn't leave a dip in the new carpet (where the brick used to be)

10.  Replace all the carpet

11.   Paint all the walls a pleasant color that will let us sit in peace as we slowly devolve into madness and advanced age

12.  Maybe more, if we find something else that needs fixing

Many years ago, while doing another project like this, we were bemoaning the fact that there was more to the work than anticipated.  Upon reflection, we decided that remodeling work is like trying to rid the body of dangerous foreign substance.  Every time you open up one job, you find two or three or seven others that need attention before they grow to something more unpleasant.

Since those early days we have prepared differently. Each project is expected to be more than we planned.

We are confident that construction work on an existing home will always reveal more defects than we considered in the planning.

There will be extra time and money spent to control the spread of problems.

We don’t like it, but we accept the need to take out the bad, repair the remaining structure, and move forward. It’s the only way to continue living in our home with any confidence.

And that is why I say remodeling is LIKE HAVING A DISEASE!!

Disclaimer: I have never had a difficult disease and hope to avoid that experience.  I am confident that the true nature of these afflictions are much more devastating than repairing/remodeling a home.  The examples given are not meant to offend or detract from the seriousness of maladies that have been part of many of my friend’s lives.  May you all battle on and know I love you in your times of need.

Monday, May 18, 2015


Most of you know that I am a great C. S. Lewis fan.  He has a perspective that opens new windows to my understanding.  This quote is just such an opener.

Enemy-occupied territory–that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.
C.S. Lewis

Have you done your duty today??

Just such a campaign that had great success.


Yesterday I spoke in my own ward for High Council Sunday.  My assigned topic was Family and Personal Prayer so I gave this little message.  I have had a few requests for a copy so I am posting it here for those who would like to review the thoughts.  It is slightly different than I gave (as always happens) but the gist of the talk is the same.  Hope it helps. MW

The Perfect Example of Prayer and Action

Constitution Ward – May 2015
Often I come into contact with members of the church who are struggling with different aspects of the Gospel of Christ.  Some are finding it difficult to maintain a testimony they have developed over the years because of challenges from family and friends.  Others wonder if certain principles of the gospel have outlived their usefulness and need to be changed to conform to the times in which we live.  And, frankly, there are even times when my own understanding of the Lord’s work leads me to ponder carefully aspects of the Church that I just don’t understand very well.  It seems there are so many questions being shouted from the housetops that it’s difficult to keep focused on what is really important.
While considering what to say and do when we have these experiences I am reminded of a verse in scripture that has been one of my favorites over the years:

Pray always that ye may come off conqueror, yea, that ye may conquer Satan
and escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work. (D&C 10:5)

Questions of doctrine in the gospel can be effective learning tools if we use them properly.  Joseph Smith set the example when he went to the Sacred Grove and asked about his own concerns.  Our Heavenly Father delights to have us call on Him with our questions and problems.  As we ask for help, He can offer us light and truth that will overcome the doubts the world would have us focus on in our lives.  Prophets thru the ages have promised that we can know the answers to all our questions if we will ask them of God, with a real intent to listen and learn, and relying on the Spirit of the Holy Ghost to guide us to the truth. 

So, why are there still so many who are unable to find out what they want to know? 

Are they being ignored by our Father? 

Has he stopped speaking to individuals and expects us to get answers solely from the prophets and leaders? 

And, when we can’t find answers, is it because we are in a state of wickedness and unworthy of an answer?

The answer to all of these questions is an emphatic NO!!!

A basic principle of the doctrines of God and Christ is that each of us has the right and privilege to ask questions and receive answers for our own needs.  Personal revelation is God’s way of helping us push through the questions that come up so often.  We need prophets to guide and regulate the Church doctrine, but we have the obligation to seek out answers pertaining to our own circumstances and for those we love and serve in this life.  Nothing is withheld if we ask in faith and listen carefully for the answers.

Today I would like to speak a little on how we can improve our own conversations with our Heavenly Father – especially on a personal and family level.  The principles I will share are applicable in both areas and will help us all to invite more revelation and guidance in our journey through mortality.

First, let me confess that I sometimes struggle with the quality of my prayers.  There are a variety of reasons but none are good.  I find that there is a constant need to evaluate how I address Heavenly Father AND how I listen to His answers.

Prayer is a personal experience that connects us with God as we express our feelings and desires.  But it is much more than a chance to report or to make a request for help in our efforts.  I have always appreciated this paragraph from the Bible Dictionary topic “Prayer”:

Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other.  The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them.  Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.

Several years ago, Elder David A. Bednar dedicated two consecutive conference talks to the subject of personal and family prayer.  His opening message began with this statement:

I invite the Holy Ghost to assist us as we consider a principle that can help our prayers become more meaningful – the gospel principle of asking in faith.

As I have pondered his counsel there are a few things that I believe will prepare all of us – individually and as families – to improve that quality and effectiveness of our regular prayers.  Let me begin with what I believe to be the most important principle of any prayer we offer and a follow-up principle taught by Elder Bednar:

        For our prayers to be effective we must ASK IN FAITH AND THEN ACT!!

Joseph Smith taught that “faith is a principle of action in all intelligent beings.” Faith is not just believing something sincerely, it is believing and then acting on it as if it is true.

Brothers and sisters, the biggest deterrent to receiving answers to our prayers is directly related to this principle.  Most of us do very well when asking in faith for help or guidance in our lives.  We love and trust Heavenly Father and have confidence in His ability to direct us in the ways that will solve our problems.  Often when we pray for specific blessings, our expectation is that God will take over and guide us to the answer we are seeking.  And often He does.  But remember what the Bible Dictionary said? – Prayer is a form of work!!

While our prayers are engendered by our faith in the power of God, we will have greater success in receiving answers when we listen to and offer the words that come to our mind and heart (D&C 8:2) as given by the Holy Ghost.  Our words of prayer will then reflect the desires Heavenly Father has for us in regards to the questions or problems we are trying to solve. 
But when we rise from our knees at the end of our supplication, our duty is not to turn everything over to God.  We have a part in the answer to every prayer we offer.  Our part is to ACT – to go out and do our best to help the prayer be answered.
I am reminded of the story of Ammon as he determined to take the gospel message to the Lamanites.  His prayer, and that of his brothers and friends, was to help a fallen, degenerate people find peace through the Atonement of Christ.  Ammon prayed in faith with all his heart.  But then he ACTED!!  He gathered all who would go with him and went to the land of Nephi and did all he could for the people he wanted to help.  Things were tough at first, but over time his actions changed the hearts of a wicked people and led them to be more righteous than many of the Nephites.

Every day we pray for help in a myriad of ways.  I wonder if we might find more success if we followed Elder Bednar’s counsel and got up off our knees and acted in a way to see the answer to our beseeching’s. 

 Think how our personal prayers can be improved as we learn to act on the desires we feel and express to our Heavenly Father.  When we need physical or spiritual strength we can ask for help in the specific areas of weakness and then rise from our knees and act in faith to build that strength by practicing those things that need improvement. 

As a family, when we pray each morning and night, our thoughtful consideration for the needs of family and friends can become more effective if we discuss some of the ways we can bless the lives of others in our lives.
Many times, as you and I kneel to pray, we are impressed to offer words seeking help for those who are suffering in body, spirit, or other ways.  We plead with God, in faith, to bless these good people to have comfort or relief in their afflictions and challenges.  But if we stop there we are depriving ourselves and those we have prayed for the true gift that can come from effective prayer.  Fulfillment of these prayers only occurs as we rise from conversation with our Father and carefully look for ways we can be the direct answer to that prayer. 

Some questions we might ask ourselves as we complete our prayers (personal and family):

What do we know of the struggles endured? 

What talents, gifts, or assets do we have that might relieve the sufferers of their challenges?

Who else can we invite to help bring to pass the answer for those involved?

 As we pray in faith, act in faith, and let God guide us to become involved in the completion of our requests, we will usually see that our efforts result in the fulfillment of the prayers we have offered.

Why usually?  Because we are still mortal and not all-knowing as is Heavenly Father.  What God desires is not always the same as what we are looking to see.  There are times when our hearts must be filled with the tender, faithful refrain – THY WILL BE DONE. 

Our actions can be sincere and effective, our faith strong enough to move mountains, and our every desire is to bless those we love, but Heavenly Father knows what is best. 

Remember, the purpose of prayer is to find how to receive the blessings God is already willing to give us if we will but seek for them. 

Brothers and sisters, I commend to you the gift of prayer as an essential tool in knowing what it takes to become like our Heavenly Father. 

He will answer us as we are faithful and act to receive truth.

He will guide us to those who need our help as we act to do His will.

He will whisper important truths, from time-to-time, as we are faithful to Him and the doctrines of His gospel.

I bear witness that prayer unites families as they learn to act together in fulfilling God’s will.

I promise that prayer changes individuals as they learn to exercise faith by DOING what is necessary to see those prayers answered.

Prayer changes hearts and minds and gives peace to the troubled soul.

These things are true.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Many of the prayers I offer each day are founded in a desire to become something better.  Weakness is always more vivid in our own eyes and we often see much that needs to be changed.

Pruning is beneficial to trees and people

Recognizing these things is a part of our mortal construct, given to us so we can find a modicum of humility amidst the false pride that grows up around our meager accomplishments.

Prayers are often requests for help in areas where we recognize failings, while secretly ignoring an inner weakness that has become our ‘false god’ or ‘guilty pleasure’ begging to be purged.  The plaintive cry to God marches around the real issue without actually approaching the real need.

The words we offer on our knees, in our hearts, and through our despair should be pleas for things we want in order to become more attuned to the works of Him who is holy.  The promises we make must be to become better, regardless of what might be offered in return.

Weakness in prayer is expected – mortality is NOT perfection.
Keeping focus is key.

Wants are to the betterment of others.

Needs bring joy to those we serve.

Forgiveness changes hearts to find peace.

Prayer is a gift from God.  It gives us access to the Divine and hope in the Eternities.

O’ God,
May I want what thou hast given me today.
May I give to those who have needs I cannot see.
May I forgive and be forgiven in equal amounts each day.
May I be like Thy Son in all I do that I may see both Thy faces.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


A very old Bible
My life has been deeply affected by the reading and pondering of scripture.  As a young boy I was taught to honor the scriptures as the guide for a powerful and positive life.  My parents set a wonderful example of the value they found in the recorded messages of God to His prophets, both past and present.  Eventually, my own studies led me to choose a career that was based on the scriptures found in the Standard Works of the Church.

As I have often reminded folks (and have often been reminded by others), I am not a scholar of the scriptures, I am a teacher.  I have not studied, to any great depth, the historicity of the different volumes available, nor do I really desire to do so.  Such is not my attraction to these pages. 
I love the scriptures because they help me understand the workings of God, our Heavenly Father, and His Majestic Son, Jesus Christ.  I believe that these two are the most important individuals we can acquaint ourselves with in the hopes of emulating their way of life.  The words they give to modern and ancient prophets are the foundation for living a better life and finding eternal peace.  Whatever modicum of success we achieve in the application of the truths in the scriptures will result in an astounding change in our personal lives.  The value of these written words cannot be overemphasized.
There is a movement, many years in the making, which seeks to adjust the significance of the written records used by most Christian religions.  I don’t know its origin but the purveyors of the doctrine are primarily scholars who, wittingly or unwittingly, water down the value of the Word of God as written in the Bible (and to some extent the Book of Mormon).  Often the conversation they initiate begins something like this:

* The Bible is the product of two historical communities, ancient Israel and the early Christian movement.

*The Bible is created by man and therefore is human centered, and not a divine product. We are not denying the reality of God.  But we see the Bible as the reaction/record of men as they experience God (whatever form that may take).

It seems to me that this method of study is designed to focus on the cultural, historical, and mortal nature of the written word of God. 
Experiences of religious value.

What, then, is the experience of God? 

Does it include visions and visitations or is it just the “musings of the elders” as they try to deal with the struggles of the community?

Can spiritual experiences be included, even when they may violate some precept of society?

Did the ancients actually have communications with God and hear His voice? 

And what if a person is bold enough to state that the words they are speaking have come from God and need to be recorded as given? 

Are words still human centered because they came from the mouth of a man?

Scholars sharing this definition of scripture claim that their views do not alter the place of scriptures or completely deny their sacred nature, but should be used as a way of seeing scripture for its real value. 

In my mind, these ideas are opening doors to unneeded doubt or something slightly (?) more insidious in nature.  IF the scriptures are just an historical response to what people believed about God, and are not really a divine product/inspired record of God’s dealing with His people, what value do they have?  Scripture becomes no more than a tale used to teach moral values as believed by those in charge of the culture.  That would seem to elevate modern works like The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter to the same standing as the Bible.

A further step to the changing view of scripture pushes more toward the lack of divinity in their creation. 

* As their response to God, the Bible tells us the view of the ancients. It is a record of how they lived with God as the focus of life. Their scriptures contain their stories about God’s involvement in their lives, their laws and ethical teachings they thought God would share, their prayers and praises, their wisdom about how to live, and their hopes and dreams. It is not God’s word as recorded by man (divine product), but their interpretation of what God had said (a human product).

Historical scholars would have us believe that any response to God says more about the people that it does about their interactions with God.  Stories they tell are to show God’s involvement in their lives, teachings, traditions, and every aspect of their lives.  But if these are simply the reactions to events that they perceive as being from God and not the literal words of God, spoken to men on earth – again, what value do they have?

I am not smart enough to make all the arguments I would like on this subject but I AM smart enough to recognize a devaluing of the Holy Scriptures of God.  I am confident that the Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price are exactly what they say they are.  These books are records of man’s interactions DIRECTLY with God and Christ. Prophets, called of God were instructed, literally, by God to do things for the benefit of their people. 

Moses DID lead Israel out of Egypt, even if there is no archeological evidence to prove it.

Abraham DID take his son, Isaac, to Mt. Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice, as commanded by God.  He was restrained by an angel from completing the sacrifice but was counted worthy because of his faith.

Jesus Christ DID live and teach in the Holy Land.  He called disciples to be Apostles and continue His work after His crucifixion and resurrection (which was also a literal experience).

Nephi and Lehi DID build a boat and sail to the Promised Land to begin a new culture. The record of their experiences can be found in The Book of Mormon.

Joseph Smith DID see God and Christ in the Sacred Grove and was directed by Moroni to translate The Book of Mormon from plates with the appearance of gold.

These experiences are NOT just the cultural reminiscences of a people who believed in a supreme being and found ways to include that in the records of their culture.  These were actual events and are valued because they show the love of God for His children. 

God is real and His words are real. 

They are in the scriptures and come from prophets and will change lives for the better.