Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Young Women's President Sister Tanner gave the talk we studied in Priesthood meeting this Sunday. A different talk she had given was a significant part of the Sacrament meeting's main speaker's talk.

Using her talks was a choice and was part of the way our time was used. We use time because we live inside of time rather than outside the bounds of time. If I were asked to define the essence of living inside of time I would say that even more than life and death, change and loss, the essence of living inside of time is having to make choices. All choice is sacrifice. In that regard, letting loose of resentment is one of the hardest sacrifices we make, but there are so many others, because all choice is sacrifice and every sacrifice is a choice, all required of us because we have only limited time, and are bounded by time.

I guess I should note that all of the speakers in Sacrament were sisters, but the Priesthood lesson was taught by the Elders Quorum President.

Also, I really believe that time makes such a difference. One of the things I really felt in the play My Turn on Earth was when it talks about how there is never enough time.

With the much too short of period I had with my girls, I feel that way even more. And, yes, I'm moving on to topics other than resentment.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The first time I taught college after law school, I was a temp for some business law classes. As with all temps in that program, they gave the students standardized tests after my stint to see how much ground the students had lost due to having a substitute.

In what was a first, my students gained ground in knowledge and comprehension over the regular professor, which delighted the reviewer when he explained it all to me. But, the next time I encountered the reviewer, when he was visiting my church congregation, he was virulently hostile towards me. I was in shock at the venom and then discovered that I had been deleted from the list of temps. My response was to just continue to be respectful and polite, which I think surprised him. I've remembered to act that way every time I encounter a similar situation.

Later I learned that he was afraid for his job and for the jobs of his friends, since they did not have J.D.s. Driven by fear he had torpedoed me before the school found out that instructors with J.D.s taught law better than non J.D.s (not at all a certain proposition btw). His wrong drove his anger. Making the choice to put that rather surprisingly savage attack behind me kept me from wasting time. Had I been angry or embittered by the wrong, I would have made a choice to hold to resentment that would only have wasted time I did no have.

In truth, we never have time to waste on resentment.

As for him, his resentment of me hurt him and was his problem, not mine, because I let it go. For me, it was a learning experience. By understanding the reason he had acted as he had, I was taught me to look twice at any time I feel anger or resentment towards someone. I now look inward to see what I may have done wrong to cause myheart to feel hostility towards others and why I am having an emotional reaction to them.

I'm not always in the wrong (though resentment is always wrong), but there are seeds often enough that I'm glad I learned to look.

In response to some questions, I would note that there are only two times when resentment is hard to overcome. First, when we resent those who have wronged us without provocation and Second, when we resent those we have wronged or provoked.

In both cases, resentment blocks us from the Spirit and from the healing love of God, which we need more than any anger, hate or other emotion we may feel that binds us to our resentments.

It can be hard, but only by starting to let go of our resentments can we let the Spirit come in to educate, enlighten, guide and heal us. For mercy, grace and healing, part of healing is letting go of the resentment. While the Spirit brings peace, inspiration and healing, resentment can block the channels the Spirit flows through.

To overcome we need to overcome, so to speak, but it is the only way we have.
BTW, just ran into Brad Hicks.

Seems to have taken Christ very literally.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

He has a sequence about that scripture (four posts or so) at his blog.

Much of what he writes seems to be parody,* and he has a problem with resentment, but that quote from the gospels has always been dear to me along with James.

*At least that is how I read his neopagan posting. If he is serious about bringing back ritual castration, year kings and the like, I'm staying far, far away.

Friday, February 24, 2006

I learned a lot about forgiveness and avoiding resentment from someone who had been badly wronged. As the result of someone threatening a witness, and hiding the fact that her husband was sexually molesting their daughter, she lost custody. I was able to get the daughter therapy (which also resolved the custody issue, with the daughter coming home to her mother permanently, and the ex-husband staying far away from the state where she lived).

But, I was wondering what more should be done when I was asked for advice by the woman's attorney on how to seek a pound of flesh from the man who had enabled the ex-husband. In the midst of thinking about that issue, the mother talked to me, asking that I do nothing destructive, and thanking me for my constructive help, including things I had paid for out of my own pocket when money was tight. She was grateful, but she had been healed by the Spirit and did not want to disrupt that process.

With her example, I was able to take seriously the statements that if you are wronged and hold to resentment, you have the greater sin. Over the many years that followed, I spent time rethinking all of my theology on the basis of just what does it imply if I accepted as true that the greater sin is in failing to forgive (much like a friend of mine who treats "be ye therefore perfect" as said in the voice of "you do too know that I mean it.").

First, of course, the rule that not escaping resentment is a greater sin than causing the resentment means that only what we internalize is permanent, and only that which is permanent is significant. When I die, I will not take a cent with me. No material thing has any eternal value. When people rise in the resurrection, they are restored. Nothing done to them is permanent unless they do it to themselves.

Second, closely tied to that, is that in relative terms, most things are only dross. My car, my clothes, my fine twined linens (if I had any, but I couldn't resist the reference), all come from dust and return to dust. We are like children arguing over finger paints and broken toys when we could have so much more. We should ask ourselves, where are our hearts and what do we really treasure?

Third, resentment, the failure to forgive, cankers the soul and cuts one off from God and love. Failure to forgive blocks us from that mercy that would otherwise claim us.

Nothing is worth cutting ourselves off from the Spirit. I found freedom when I realized that what I resented others for was not significant in any real sense, and that the irritation I felt harmed only me. In the end, the only thing I wanted from the memories of those who had hurt me was to be free of resentment so that I would not be harmed further.

I wish I could say I would have found that place without the help of others, but I'm glad for their example and hope that wherever they are today, that God is with them. There may be shades of gray, but some things are absolute. May we escape resentment so that God's grace and mercy always have place.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"Let God be my only defence, my only comfort. Let me be aware"

I listened to these words and thought that I needed to be aware that God provided my only real comfort, my only true defense. The difficulty I had with an awareness of God, was knowing God, not as a magic box, but as God is. Knowing God as God is, and allowing God to work as God works, directly or through others, is a difficult step.

Some people need to pray for desperation, others for peace, and others for stillness to find knowledge, each to be able to find the means to trust God.

It is awareness that helps us penetrate the illusion of control and that aids us in finding the trust that creates faith. Faith prospers us in finding our respite in God. That is why some find peace and others find confusion, in whatever they see God or a higher power to be. We finally find stability when we are aware and when we let God. "I Am That I Am" God told Moses. The same message is here for us today. No more and no less.

We must let God be to know God's name, to know God as our comfort and our defence.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." That is what Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 15:19. Our present life, no matter how pleasant, is still unfair, incomplete and painful.

Because mortal life is mortal life -- complete with being imperfect and a time of trial -- the promise we have is not that we will avoid being mortal or that we will avoid trials, but that after it is over, God will make us whole.

To the extent we know anything of the eternal perspective, we know that we were anxious to be born and saw the experience as worthwhile enough that we were willing to accept all of the shortcomings that we now feel or think we know that life has.

If mortal life were the end and the final resolution of being, then Christ would make us miserable instead of bringing us joy and hope. Enoch's vision of God weeping over creation would be our final view rather than the introduction to the story of the redemption and the resurrection.

Things can be terrible, and they can overwhelm us in this life, but Paul also wrote
"For I am persuaded that neither life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to seperate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39.

That is the hope we find in Christ, in spite of everything that happens to us.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I knew that by using food to submerge and deal with emotion that I was hiding emotion, and that when I quit "eating my feelings" that emotions would emerge, and they have. The biggest surprise to me about my life without food as a buffer is that the emotion that was hiding the most was how happy I am with the people in my life, especially my wife and children.

When we were first married I was so overjoyed by how marriage was even better than I dreamed possible that I had to tell someone, so I would talk to my wife while she was asleep, telling her just how wonderful she was. She learned to just go back to sleep if she heard me talking at night. I still do that some times. It has always been so good just to have her there.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Before Courtney was invited into our family, when I prayed about it I got the distinct impression that she was optional. That we did not have to encounter the trial and hardship that having her would entail. Of course all children are both a hardship and a blessing, and we decided that she would be worth it. She would have been fourteen today.

December is hard. Both Jessica and Courtney entered into their final illnesses on the 25th. Courtney died on the 26th of December, Jessica on the 26th of January. Jessica was born on February 12, Courtney on February 16. Valentine's Day used to be such a joyous week for us.

But, tomorrow will be like Easter for me, an emergence from the sorrow. The cycle repeats itself every year. That I've changed jobs on or about January 1 twice now, has added some subtle twists. Neither time did any of my co-workers notice anything until they had known me a couple years or more.

It may be in my heart, but I miss her still, regardless of ourward appearance.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What God Wants, God Gets. by DKL

Don't look so surprised. It's only a dogma. --Roger Waters

A good friend of mine is a bit older than me. His family is Sephardic, and he's got binders full of photos and letters written in the cyrillic alphabet. As he turns through them, he can tell you exactly who went to which death camp or concentration camp, whether they survived, and who got out of Europe altogether. A few years ago he was with his aunt at the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC, and she spotted her younger brother in one of the photos of death camp prisoners that was on display there. He was very young -- if he were LDS, he might have been a deacon -- but at an age that was older, at any rate, than she'd ever seen her little brother. He died there in the death camp. My friend is Jewish, of course, and it's quite something to hear him describe it.

He told me an interesting story from his childhood once. He and his brother and his father were going through boxes in the attic, and they found a box that had some of his father's WWII stuff in it. His father had belonged to the US Army and had fought in Europe. The box included some neat stuff like knives and medals and identification cards -- the kind of stuff that fascinates young boys. They dug through the box finding treasure after treasure until they reached the bottom.

At the bottom of the box was a Nazi flag. His father explained that when he was a young man he'd taken it as a trophy from the flag pole at the city center of a town that his regiment had liberated, and he disposed of it forthwith. Years earlier, when he'd claimed it as a trophy, it had represented for him the clear triumph of freedom over tyranny. But off the field of battle, it was nothing more than a symbol of suffering and of evil.

That thrown-away flag -- it's a very salient representation of the different ways people view the impact of WWII. All too often, we hear a story about how the war went just as God wanted it to: The good guys won, the clear triumph of freedom over tyranny and all that (as though tyranny never had lasting consequences or even stood a chance). But is that what God wanted? A war and a Holocaust and the Allies riding in to save the day?

In our own time it's been said that the Soviets failed because God backed the Muslims in Afghanistan. This sounds a bit strange to American ears. We prefer to explain the Soviet fall in terms of God's partiality for Western capitalism. As rational as we like to think we are, we're as likely as anyone to see the whim of God as an ever-present moral beacon.

During the Carter administration God wanted the USA to yank support from its second-tier autocratic allies. During the Reagan administration God wanted the defeat of communism. During the George H. W. Bush administration God wanted food distributed in Somalia. During the Clinton administration God wanted to end the slaughter in the former Yugoslavia. Now we have George W. Bush's administration, and God wants the USA to rid the world of terrorism. One hears an awful lot about what God wants.

I don't know if it's worthwhile to pay much attention to the minutia, but one thing is clear: God really delivers on the big ticket items. At all times and on all sides and for all purposes, we get an earful about what God wants. And given enough time, it all happens. There is peace and there is war. There is want and there is plenty. There is health and there is disease. And the whim of God operates more like a sanitizer than a beacon; it's what God wants, and that makes so clean and contained--like the victory of freedom over tyranny in WWII. It masks the mess and complication that we'd otherwise deem "reality." It gives us license to think cleanly about unclean things.

To some degree, we Mormons rely on prophets to tell us what God wants. In the good old days, God made polygamy the pride of Mormonism -- [for some] even Jesus was a polygamist. In the good old days, God gave a simple answer to the question of who holds the priesthood and when. In the good old days, God prescribed economic collectivism. There are several schools of thought concerning the role of God's desire and human foible in each of these. Whatever else happened, it's a fair bet that God got what He wanted. And it all comes off pretty tidily when you think of it that way.

Everyone lays some claim to cosmic goodness--from utter lunatics, like the president of Iran, to otherwise reasonable folks like British Prime Ministers and American Presidents; from cranks to bona fide religious leaders; even people like you and me. After all, our lives get pretty messy, too. And come on, God really is on our side, right?

David King Landrith

Of course what God really wants is for us to live in this world and react to it, and in reacting find a broken heart and a contrite spirit. As DKL points out, if we reject humility, all we find is hubris. After all, the real purpose of this world is to be messy, to force us to choose between good and evil, for us to learn and cope and be tested, not to deem the mess the will of God and to congratulate ourselves for our place in it.

Which means, of course, that God got what he wanted in all things, except our repentance. That always remains up to us and is why Enoch saw that God was surrounded in the Heavens by glory, yet still wept for man.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The summer before Jessica died, everything came together. My practice finally started to go well, I had money in the bank, and we had a long, lazy Indian Summer of windsurfing nearly every evening during the week. Win, I and the girls would go out to Lake Arrowhead (Texas) with the windsurfer strapped to the top of our Honda. We would have the lake to ourselves and would take turns sailing -- one out on the water, the other playing with the girls. Then, at the end, we would do the Hawaiian Surfer Princess routine with the girls, one at a time, riding on the front of the windsurfer as we sailed then around.

Then we would pack up, drive home, clean up and go to bed, though I would tell Jessica and Heather stories first and hold their hands until they fell asleep. It was like heaven and I was as happy as I had ever been. I could see my life turning into "happy ever after."

1992 is a long way away from today. I was 36 then and on top of the world. Publishing, asked to write a book, my practice going well, and as happy as a man can be with what seemed to me to be the perfect wife and family.

Now, Rachel is six, just like Jessica. This year is going well and my wife seems as perfect as a person can be. I've lost almost all the weight that I gained with the deaths, and as I continue getting back in shape, so many physical memories come back.

It is as if my life is starting over again.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

My daughter Heather just spoke in Sacrament meeting.

The first time I was asked to give a talk, I said no. I was very firm but it did not matter; I was told I had to give a talk anyway. I was sick and I was upset and I really did not want to give a talk. When I finally gave the talk, I was scared and unhappy and it was painful, but when it was all over, everything was fine.

When I was asked to give this talk, I did not want to. But I knew I had to, and I knew that I could do it, so I finally forced myself to work on it, and now I am giving this talk to you.

Missionary work is like giving a talk in Church. The first time we are asked to do missionary work, almost everyone says no. Even if their lips say yes, they really do not want to do it. They feel a funny feeling in the pit of their stomach, they are unhappy underneath it all, and they wish they could just say “no” and do something else.

But, eventually they force themselves, or they should force themselves, to do something, and the more they do it, the easier it is and the better they feel about it.

They realize that it is possible to do missionary work, and that like giving a talk, most of the time everyone is happier as a result.

The keys to missionary work are the same as the keys to giving a talk.

First, you have to decide to give in and do it.

Second, you need to prepare to do it,

And third and finally, you have to actually do it.

My talk is about the things you can prepare to do, once you realize that you can do it and that while missionary work may seem hard and difficult, but that it isn’t as bad as it seems.

The first thing to do is to be humble. That doesn’t mean being timid or nervous, but it does mean not acting “holier-than-thou,” harsh, or judgmental. It means acting with God’s love, and doing what God wants. You should be doing missionary work because you love and care about other people, and you should do it the way God wants you to do it. Not just because you are asked to at church. It is kind of like being patient without being passive, or being forthright without being pushy.

The second thing is to realize that all missionary work consists of steps. You don’t just walk up to someone and baptize them. Missionary work isn’t grabbing people and forcing them to do anything.

Instead, missionary work consists of many small steps. Just like you would not do your laundry by tossing all the dirty clothes into the dryer, you shouldn’t start doing missionary work by skipping the steps.

Before you can share your testimony with anyone you must first have one. Before you can testify of the truth of the Book of Mormon or even the Bible you must have read it for yourself and pondered on the principles therein. Otherwise how can you answer the questions of those you would teach the gospel.

Next, you should live the gospel.

That is a big concept, but the part that applies to missionary work is that you need to live the parts of the gospel that have to do with being kind to others and loving them. Some of the strongest testimonies of the gospel that I have ever heard have come from inactive members of the church who have fallen away due to some trial in their lives with which they are struggling, but have never stopped trying to be kind to others and have maintained that Christ-like love of mankind.

True missionary work comes from loving others and is the kindest thing you can do. It is the attempt to aid another person by sharing the most precious thing you have.

If you start being kind to other people, loving them and caring for them, then sharing the gospel becomes as natural a part of your life as feeding them when they are hungry or listening to them when they are sad. As stated in D&C 64:34 “the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind”

If we do not put our heart into our task or are unwilling to prepare for missionary work we rob our friends of the chance to learn. We refuse to give a treasure that will last for all eternity. Just as true missionary work is the kindest thing you can do, grudging or false missionary work is among the cruelest.

But, by finding yourself in service and love for others, you increase the amount of love and peace you feel in your life. By doing missionary work, by caring for others, you will become happier and have more joy in your own life. You will find the things you need to be at peace and to be closer to Jesus Christ.

So, no matter how you feel about missionary work, if you take it one step at a time, you can do it, and share the love and joy that should be in your life and that God has for you.

It is a matter of starting, one step at a time. Reading your scriptures and praying. Being kind to others and paying attention to them. Caring for your friends and neighbors and those you meet so that you can both be an example to them and so that you can know when they need help.

Finally, it is a matter of sharing the gospel with them, a piece at a time, just as you would bring them food when they are hungry or give them a ride when their car breaks down. It is the process of letting the love of Christ work in your life to heal you and to heal others.

I leave you with my testimony of the importance of true missionary work. I leave you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Win was called in to cover an emergency at work. Jessica would have turned twenty today, but life goes on, even if we wish it would not.

Funny. Most people do the most of their blogging on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I do most of mine on the weekends, especially Sunday evening before I go to bed, but after everyone is quiet.

It is so quiet now.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

"But Daddy, it is in this book!" .....................................................

Ok, Heather was sick as a dog, and not eating (that kind of sick) so we put her back in bed and took Rachel to the movies.

On the way home, Rachel starts giving us the most unusual natural history lesson I've ever heard and tells me I'm wrong when I disagree with her.

Finally I can hear her voice in a pout and she says in exasperation: "But Daddy, it is in this book. Right here. Look!"

You guessed it, Rachel had a book of Gary Larsen Far Side comics which she had been reading. We had a little talk about humor, fiction and reality right then.

But until I saw which book it was, I was really starting to wonder about what they are teaching her in school...

Friday, February 10, 2006

It was late September and life was good. It had been a very long hot summer, everything was dry and we were ready for rain.

My husband and I both had lucrative careers and I was finally on the cooperate ladder I wanted to be on. Work was demanding and I was spending a lot of time away from home. We had put off the whole idea of having children, so many things we wanted to do or better yet “experience” first. But life had other ideas for us, and our baby girl was born in May and was a bouncing bundle of energy. Beautiful golden curls and a round pudgy face dotted with the freckles I had spent my childhood wasting every birthday wish on. Aurora was funny, full of quirks and had somewhat slowed us down a bit, but not much.

Two years later we got a very unexpected surprise, my sister gave us custody of her two boys. They were 4 and 2. So we quickly had three children under the age of four. A nanny later and we were back to the plan. Work had taken over almost every aspect of our lives. My husband was had just finished dental school and had started his own practice, and I was working my way up to VP.

We built a home in a rural area, welcoming the privacy, hiring the acreage out to have hay planted. My husband had always wanted dogs and horses, and so we delved into that investment and tried to find the time to devote to our animals, children and church. Life was simply beautiful. Or so I thought it was.

It had been a brutal summer. But the clouds rolling in on the horizon were swollen and full of promise for the much needed rain. I was on my way home in the mid evening. I stopped and took pictures of the bold and daring lightening strikes. It was a pretty amazing display of energy, and among the beautiful fall foliage it was simply spectacular.

I saw the lightening hit. The boom about knocked me over. I was on the last switch back heading up to our home. I couldn’t actually see the ground, but I could tell it had hit in the field behind our home. It wasn’t seconds later, as I was frantically getting into my car, that I saw the smoke.

By the time I got to the house, the field and barn were engulfed. The fire was so hot. The flames just ate up the dry wood and weeds. I am not sure I remember exactly when I realized that Aurora was in the barn. Megan was screaming about the kittens... and the fire trucks got there..and I looked around the boys were there...and slowly... it sunk in.. Aurora was in the barn. She was teasing those kittens we had recently discovered. Up in the loft.

The rain came later. Long sheets of cold moisture. Pounding against my skin. I don’t remember feeling it. I do remember being wet though. I remember screaming, kicking and clawing. Its like an old movie that was taken with a wide camera lens, the kind that has the crackles in it, that seem not so clear and maybe yellowed.

The next three years are a blur. Pain and darkness over came our house. The kids were sullen and the walls were dark. I couldn’t look at my husband nor he at me. The quiet ate us up almost. When it wasn’t quiet there was yelling. Blame can take on the form of many ugly monsters. I felt cold inside. Cold, confused, disoriented and numb.

I couldn’t tell you the date he left. He couldn’t bare to look at me anymore, for the pain in my eyes and I couldn’t see past the self inflicted guilt. He tried. I know he did. Tried to reach inside of me, to that place that I had retreated, but I shoved him away, is SO many different ways... push and pushed. I wouldn’t let him touch me, I wouldn’t open up and talk to him, I mean doing that would indicate that I wasn’t alright, after all. I quit living.

I sat in my bed, slept, took sleeping pills, everything I could do to avoid thought. My sisters and parents were forbidden from coming to my home, except to pick up the boys and take them places. I missed birthdays, Christmas, Easter everything.

It would be three years and a little, before I came “to.” When my son looked at me with those huge blue eyes and said, “Momma, won’t you please take me for a walk. I miss Aurora so much, she used to walk with me, remember Momma...?” That is what it took. The flood gates opened on that walk. And...it didn’t close for a very long time.

It hurt. Everything hurt. Remembering still hurts. I have raged at God, screamed, hollered, and accused. I have taken solace and comfort in the peace the spirit affords, and then raged again.

I took her pictures down, locked her things away, hid from her existence. I can finally look at them again. Finally.

Its been years, and years. My sons are now eighteen and sixteen. Five years ago, I finally let someone in and met and married someone new. He has been incredibly gentle with me, and has helped me find the peace I have longed for.

The guilt is incredible, I don’t know if I will ever get past it. My life is so different now. A smaller home, I wouldn’t work for a dime. I went through a long period when I wouldn’t let my other children out of my sight. I have a different view on what is important, and dear to me. I am softer, more sensitive, I “feel” everything, from the pile on the towels to every little word said to me.

I don’t know that I will ever think, “Oh, I have learned so much from this experience”, I can’t even glance down that road. I won’t ever be grateful for this experience either. No matter what people say, there is very little solace in that line of thought for me. Yes, I have learned a lot, yes, I know myself better, yes I have been blessed. But grateful? Not yet.

When I unexpectedly got pregnant two years ago my husband and I were terribly taken off guard. He nor I thought I could have another child. We had been told that, by a couple of different docs. I shifted into a downward spiral. I didn’t really want to have this baby. The thoughts were over powering to me. In a lot of ways, I raged at the Lord again.

And then Ethan entered our lives, and new pain as well as clearer understanding and blessings have ensued.

Ethan is a whole other story... He is the most amazing gift. At two, after multiple surgeries, brain damage, deaf/blindness and global developmental delays, a tight rope of not knowing if he would survive or not, he is a full of life child who takes my breath away. Ethan, our beautiful son who I know beyond a shadow of a doubt dances between the Veil that separates this life from other ones. Every once and a while...he looks off into the blue and laughs out loud and wiggles his toes, and I know... he is with her.

Aurora’s life and existence seem a lifetime away, but in the summer afternoon or when I see the grain dancing in the wind, I can’t help but remember, and I am transported back again, to her freckled face smile and light blue eyes and sometimes I can even smile.

This is a guest post from a friend.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

How do you go forward when you pray and it seems as if no one hears you or cares? What do you do when the universe betrays you and your child dies? Countless parents have faced that bleak wall, and the core of many groups is that they are comprised of people who have come through that dark valley to the other side.

What is interesting about twelve step programs is that they all confront this issue, over and over again each time someone new comes to a meeting. The people in a twelve step program (such as AA) have already prayed and it seemed as if their prayers fell on deaf ears. As a result, while they have an intellectual belief that God can do anything, in their hearts they have learned to have faith that God will not help.

Yet, twelve step programs work because people find that God does help them after all, once they surrender themselves to God and begin to develop a new relationship with that higher power greater than themselves.

While current success rates are low, before Courts started ordering people to attend programs, the success rate was about seventy percent -- and almost all of these were people who had learned that God was deaf to them before they learned to approach God again in a way that involved faith and trust and surrender. By changing their heartfelt concept of what God was, they found help from God.

They found the truth of the promise that when we take upon ourselves Christ's yoke, the burden is light. But to do that, they had to admit that they could not succeed without God and that they did not know God the way they needed to know him. Much like Joseph Smith taught, to reach God you must know some true things about God and must realize that you truly need the Holy One.

So yes, I think that the scripture means it when it says:

Matthew 11: 28 - 30
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I also believe that learning that lesson is one of the mysteries of the gospel, along with faith and love, and I hope everyone who has suffered unbearable pain finds that rest for their souls.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sometimes it seems that Philosophy spends much of its time passing the blame for bad ideas to Religion.

Take Natural Philosophy, for example. If you read the world view of Jewish works such as Enoch or The Apocalypse of Adam, you get a vision of worlds without number, filled with life. Then Greek philosophy comes along and it is all science and logic and the Earth as the stationary center of the universe, the only place where life is to be found -- a far cry from the vision that makes a man ask "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"

Fast forward, science changes its mind (though it still believes that all orbits have to be perfect circles) and it blames Religion for the false perspective.

Or consider how philosophy dealt with men and women. The great discussion about love lost my attention when Plato and the boys started explaining how women were so inadequate that they weren't capable of really being loved, men had to reserve that for each other as higher beings. Compare that to Eve as a "help meet" or a "companion equal" to Adam and Proverbs 30:10 that illustrates the ideal women as one who is in business for herself, taking her own counsel as she buys and sells and sets others to work. A wave of kings, a wave of scientific philosophy, and suddenly the Norse women who were full equals become chattel to chattel and women all throughout the western world are reduced in status.

A few, like Brigham Young (who kept preaching sermons pointing out that women made as good of lawyers, doctors, politicians, accountants and business types as men), pushed for equality and the franchise. But the enlightened Federal government took it away and scientific men rejected women as lawyers or other professionals. Move forward a hundred years and suddenly Philosophy has reversed course -- and blamed Religion for what went on.

It should surprise very few that almost every time in history that Religion has given way to Philosophy or Science that the passage of time results in the position being rejected and Religion taking the blame for it. Which gives me pause.

But I remember: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus". (Galatians 3:28) and "And he inviteth them all to come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God." (2 Nephi 26:33).

May we all remember that, regardless of what science or society or philosophy would tell us.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Relief Society was asked what lessons they wanted the most. The number one request was for my wife to teach a class on how to make rolls. The class was held tonight and had record turnout, much to my wife's surprise. As Win told me "Steve, those rolls are good, but that good?" Well, after years of having them at various activities, I guess everyone thought they were "that good."

Here is the recipie:

Pretzel Shaped Yeast Rolls

Demonstration by Win Marsh

2 tablespoons yeast )

2 cups warm water ) Stir together

1 can evaporated milk )

1 can warm water ) Stir in

½ cup sugar )

2 tablespoons salt )

½ cup oil )

1 egg ) Stir in

Stir or beat in 4 cups of flour. Beat it smooth. Keep gradually adding flour until dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. Total flour will be about 8-9 cups. The dough will still be very sticky.

Dump it on a flour covered counter. Start kneading until it feels good, but is still a VERY SOFT dough. Expect to knead in 1-2 cups of flour.

Put the dough in a large greased bowl. Plastic is better than metal. Turn the dough over so that all sides of the dough are greased. Cover the bowl with plastic or cloth and put it in a warm place.

When it is raised, punch it down and split it into 4 parts. Cut each part into 12 pieces. Roll each out on a lightly floured board in to a long piece and tie it like a pretzel. Tuck the ends underneath and place on a slightly greased cookie sheet.

Put a glaze on each roll: Beat together 1 whole egg and ¼ cup of milk. Paint the top of each roll and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Wait until the rolls puff up .. about 30 minutes or less. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.

Baste them with melted butter while still hot from the oven.

Modify for Cinnamon Rolls

Pat or roll out dough, spread soft butter then sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and a light dusting of nutmeg. Add nuts and raisins. Roll dough up and cut in one inch pieces. Put 12 on a greased cookie sheet. Let them rise for 30 minutes. Bake them longer than the rolls. Quickly frost with a white frosting. One recipe makes 24 large rolls or 12 huge cinnamon rolls.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Trust in God is, in part, acknowledging that not trusting God does not create any change. Acceptance of life means to live life, and trust in God is a part of accepting life.
Another Anon

It is not where we will be next week, but what we become now. To "take no thought for the morrow" means to be alive now, accepting life and the present.
One more Anon

Thinking about those things I realized that resentment anchors us in the past with our pain, and a lack of trust holds us away from the future, in fear. By finding trust and acceptance we are able to live. Not that giving up resentment is easy, or that trusting is painless, but they both make life worth living.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Myths attempt to explain why the world is imperfect and what we should do about the problems we face because of an imperfect world. An interesting part of some faiths is the doctrine that the world is not imperfect any more than an obstacle course or a golf course is imperfect.

My own beliefs include some explanations of some things that everyone can observe and that many find painful:

(a) The almost universal condition of women being subordinate to men is not a celestial pattern but is a direct result of the world being imperfect, which means that we do not emulate it, but seek to escape it.

(b) Women need only listen or hearken to men to the extent that they know that the men are following God. Men may end up in charge because the world is imperfect, but women are not obligated to just follow them around, (but instead should follow God and only listen to men when the men are listening to God as well). We all escape the consequences of imperfection by working together as partners.

(c) In the heavens, things are binary, as it says: "in the image of God created God humanity, meaning male and female." That is, God is not alone in the heavens and that women have as much divinity in them as men -- when Eve was created it was as a "help meet" or a "companion equal" to Adam.

I find it interesting how some people naturally find that message and how others do not. There are similar messages all around us, some enlighten us, some we miss. Some times we miss because we lack the right metaphor or language, sometimes because we are blinded by experience, some times it is because life is overwhelming.

But it is life, an experience for us rather than an end.