Thursday, December 25, 2008

Guest Post from J.L. -- For Christmas

This is a shorter version of a longer post that will be at:

Visit there to get the full impact.

I saw myself standing before God to be judged, and he wept.

He shook his head at me in disappointment.

He asked: How could you have broken my trust this way? Why did you not care for my beloved child? How can you return her to me in this state -- bruised, broken, neglected, unloved? I gave you dominion over her so you could bring her back to me whole and beautiful. She was your responsibility. Do you hate me so much you would betray me in this, and break my heart so?

I crumbled to the floor sobbing. Overwhelmed with suffocating shame. I didn't mean it. I didn't know. I didn't know I was the one entrusted with her. I never saw Your child, Your beloved--I saw only this broken wretch fallen before you.

I would not have done this .... and He comes to me and enfolds me in his arms and We weep together.

We are, each of us, precious children of God whom he has entrusted to us to care for and to love.

For this Christ came in to the world on Christmas day, for God's love for each of us.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Forgiving in order to heal, how do you do it?

i've actually been wondering all night if you might have a post on this topic. specifically, when one *wants* to forgive, and has even said the words "i forgive you", and then tried to carry on as though forgiveness has actually taken place, but nothing has changed on the inside. what can you do? how does one invoke the atonement? for big things specifically (in my case). all i want for christmas is peace and freedom from this multi-decade hurt. i've recently had the chance to vent and the person who hurt me listened, apologized, and then wrote me a letter further apologizing and asking me to forgive them for all the ways they hurt me and it's impact on my life. i have (in the past) said I forgive them, and tried to have them in my life as if all was well. but it wasn't. isn't.

so how does one move from this point to a healthy place. how does that mysterious atonement work?
is there a magic word i need to utter? some level of despair i have to attain? some amount of humility and contriteness i have to conjure up before i can finally be free?

That was the question I was asked.

There is no magic word that I know, though the things that tend to help some people are the process of praying for God to bless the other person and the process of keeping a journal and writing it all out. Buy a simple wire bound spiral notebook, if nothing else, and write about everything, pour your heart out in words.

They pray every night to God to bless the other person and to aid you in forgiving and moving past.

That is where I would start -- and I'm hoping that people who read this blog will chime in and add their thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Trust in God

This time of the year is mixed for me. I had two Christmas times in a row where many presents went unopened and the lights on the house were taken down by friends. The strongest images from both are the funerals of my daughters.

At times it slips my conscious awareness. Both Courtney and Jessica became sick just before Christmas. Courtney died on December 26, Jessica died on January 26. They were both born in February.

And then Robin ... Now Rachel, who is coping with Tourette's and other issues. Not to mention, the whole house has had seasonal illnesses. My parents and my wife skipped having dinner with me on my birthday because they were too sick, now Rachel and Heather have whatever it was. Sometimes the issues are overwhelming, sometimes all that overwhelms me is how precious my children are to me.

To trust in God. What does that mean? Can I trust God to keep me from pain? Will God keep me from discomfort, sorrow, loss or death? Will God keep me from the full range of life and from more than I think I am ready for? No. In fact, I am pretty certain that at the end, there will come a day when God does not keep me from death.

Then what should I trust God for? What can I trust God to do? That is a question that everyone has to face, what can we really trust God to do and not to do.

A few notes.

Other people's death's may affect us, but those deaths are between them and God, not between us and God.

Best part of my birthday was seeing Heather. Her flight was a little delayed, but she made it safely home. With everyone who was sick, I ended up with just Heather and Rachel at dinner (though we brought back a meal for Win and a selection of desserts for my parents). Everyone is still a little sick today. I had to take time to drive them home from Church early so they could be tucked back in bed.

But today has really been a good day as well. Silly to be so glad to have a child's birthday (on the 21st) and to be so delighted just to see them breath. But I am.

Other recent posts on trusting and understanding God:

Not to mention, the day after Christmas, I'll have a post at Mormon Matters that touches on some of these topics and my favorite related scripture:

For I am persuaded that neither death nor 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 separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 NKJV

That is our trust, especially in this Christmas season.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Relationship Advice -- Absence ...

I was reading a relationship post about a relationship with God, and realized it takes more than just maturity and patience and then thought about relationships with others when we are absent for a while.

With your parents and siblings you probably learned about absence by going to camp or away on a mission or off to school. If you use that for your model when work takes you out of town from a wife or husband and children for a month or more, you will make serious miss-steps.

There is a period of roughness, anger even, that goes with being reunited with a spouse and children when you have been gone. Young children are transparent. They just get angry when you come back (though they get over it in a day or so). You need to expect the same emotional waves to affect older children and your spouse and be ready for it, to just patiently take the time to re-engage.

Think of it as shifting into gear after starting a car that is cold. Do you skip using the clutch or letting the car warm up? If you do, things grind.

Anyway, just thought I'd post a comment on that, since most of us will have a time in our lives like that, when we are away for a month or two. I've been lucky, but my dad was in the Air Force and had TDY assignments, Viet Nam and Korea.

Not to mention, sometimes we feel emotions in regards to God that we aren't comfortable with and need to work through, just as when others are absent.

BTW, this comic made me think of my wife:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Recent Books ... and looking for recommendations

The Pyjama Game: A Journey into Judo by Mark Law (Paperback - Jun 2008)
Buy new: $13.33
7 Used & new from $12.95
Usually ships in 2 to 4 weeks

Just finished this book.

A fifty year old newspaper reporter/journalist decides to begin Judo. But his story is also the story of Judo and the story of Judo in England. It was really good, as you might suspect by the fact that the used copies are almost as expensive as the new ones.

I'm now reading a book we got for free from the lending library at the hotel we stayed in during our visit to New Orleans (and it too, is a great book):

Taxi: The Harry Chapin Story by Peter Morton Coan (Paperback - May 1, 1990)
Buy new: $14.95
35 Used & new from $3.11 (with all the free copies, I'm surprised it isn't cheaper).

Please recommend a new "good book" to me now that I've pretty much finished these.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow in New Orleans

I had to to to New Orleans to teach a class, so I thought I'd extend my stay a day to see the city, especially since Win was able to come with me. Luckily I brought a sweater and a liner as well as my jacket and she has a heavy coat, as we went walking in the snow, rain and wind.

She's asleep now, recovering. My voice lasted through the two and a half hours of lecture I had to give, though my new cold acted up a little.

Wonderful people, wonderful place. I like the hotel, quiet and warm.

Hoping that my flight doesn't get canceled -- I had a couple extra people in the class as their flights out of New Orleans were canceled due to icing conditions.

Rachel will be sad she missed the snow, she stayed with her grandparents who live a couple houses down the street from us. She had school.

But life never fails to offer some interesting surprises.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Our Yearly Christmas Letter

More or less, the final draft will probably go out this week-end, but I'm sharing it on-line now ;)

In the "can do" tradition of Texas, the Marsh family presents a “do it yourself” or “choose your own options” Christmas letter. Many of these options make for a better year than we had, or at least a stranger one, but don’t let that stop you when you make a pick


(a) Decided engineering was a better major than neuroscience;
(b) test drove a 30.06 at the rifle range;
(c) Is getting a concealed weapons permit class for Christmas
(d) Is now taller than her dad;
(e) Is practicing walking in a long skirt and wearing her hair in tight braids as she prepares to move to West Texas;
(f) Now works for KBYU;
(g) Went horseback riding in Washington State.


(a) Wants to work in a think tank when she grows up;
(b) Was baptized this year;
(c) Started fourth grade;
(d) Got a perfect score on the State Music Theory test;
(e) Got a superior rating at the sonatina festival;
(f) Begs daily for a cell phone;
(g) Keeps asking for a rifle of her own.


(a) Got a rifle for father’s day;
(b) Had a presentation from his material made to the Shanghai People’s High Court at the University of Wisconsin and is cited in the C.F.R.s;
(c) Was invited to join a group blog that drew comments;
(d) Went to New York City to do a short appearance on Fox TV;
(e) Had a Daddy/Daughter date at the rifle range;
(f) Experienced his car bursting into flames after he was rear-ended;
(g) Joined the (Jeff) Green Party.


(a) Completed five quilts this year;
(b) Volunteers in the nursery at Church;
(c) Has multiple firearms registered in her name;
(d) Functions as a social director and transportation agent for Rachel, drawing the line at more than twelve activities a week;
(e) Racked up twice the frequent flyer miles as the rest of the family;
(f) Looks better in blue fox than mink;
(g) Has worked hard to work less this year.

Vincent the polydactyl cat:

(a) Brought us a bat as a gift;
(b) Delivered a baby rattlesnake to Steve;
(c) Left a freshly killed mouse in Steve’s shoe;
(d) Developed a catch and release program of live birds for the house;
(e) Still forgets where his food bowl is;
(f) Found his way home after Rachel took him for a tour of the neighborhood;
(g) No longer thinks chicken is tuna.

We visited:

(a) Salt Lake City;
(b) Yellowstone;
(c) Spokane;
(d) Galveston;
(e) Orlando;
(f) Colorado;
(g) King Tut.

Whatever answers you chose for us, we had a great year and hope you did as well or better than we really did. May each of your coming years be creative and fun.

The Marsh Family

Sunday, December 07, 2008

More on "having too much stuff"

There are several ways to deal with people so they don't feel that they are being asked not to love you when you ask to avoid "more stuff." My daughter's best friend had a birthday party where all the presents went to the local Children's Medical Clinic. Everyone was good with that, the parents loved it, the kids were happy to go roller skating and they got to give presents.

For me, I've a paralegal and a secretary, etc., at work, and they understood that it would make me happy, so they were good with it (I gave them amber earrings for Christmas -- my wife's idea -- staff that result in my being happier end up with jewelry as she notices the difference in how I'm doing). My eight year old, I let her wrap up some things for me that I already had (because I've shrunk so, I'm replacing some of my work shirts -- from 17.5" to 16" trim cut -- a big difference).

For other family members, I've told them that as tough as things are this year, instead of spending money on me, they should spend more money on their own families. That works out.

So far it is going well. Yes, I have a lot of dress shirts wrapped up under the tree that I'm not going to get to wear until after Christmas (unfortunately, Lands End is really pulling back on its trim cut/etc. [they keep changing the name of it] shirts, but that means that they've been dumping them through the discounted overstocks section -- I got a lot of shirts for under a hundred dollars). But it works.

I'm also getting some gifts, a new frying pan from my wife, computer gear, etc. I'm giving some jewelry, people rarely think they have enough (matching earrings is what Rachel gave her mother and older sister, and she is getting a pair as a gift to her from the cat). But I also gave the local library several large loads of books. I went through and got rid of a lot more. I've realized that a lot of things that I was holding on to, if I really, really find myself needing them, there is always the used book section of

It has taken several waves, but I'm now probably more than a thousand or two books lighter, about five bookshelves worth. I still need to finish up reorganizing things, but it is a real improvement.

Anyway, hope that answers how I'm implementing the concept and how it is being received. So far, so good.

Great links:

Friday, December 05, 2008

One silly thing about having "too much" stuff

I don't want stuff for Christmas or my birthday. In a way it makes it harder to shop for me, but in a way it is easier -- all I really want is to see people and be happy with them. I can't say that is such a bad thing.

On a more serious note, I've been reading:

It has been fascinating.

A core message (other than breaking ADD into different types, based on brain scans) is that for those who have ADD that without help they can't control it, it isn't their fault, but that there is hope.

The brain scan categorizing of it is interesting, as is the fact that 30-40 minutes a day of vigorous exercise and taking a multivitamin can really help a lot of people. Oh, and that caffeine is bad for you. So was the correlating of different brain scan results to the vast differences in what types of medication and/or nutrition approaches work best (or are actually harmful) for which people.

Interesting material.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Possible Future for American Health Care

After consulting a citizens group, the institute decided that the nation should spend the same amount saving or improving the life of a 75-year-old smoker as it would a 5-year-old.

The article is about what is happening in England, and how their lead is being followed by other countries. Basically, it is triage of what is available from the state system (all started by a panic over the price of Viagra) and how it means limits on things such as dialysis and expensive cancer treatments.

There are two current issues:

First, total expense.

Second, "highly expensive life-saving drugs for terminal illnesses."

But, the question tends to spread to two other areas (as it has in some countries):

First, not allowing people to pay for things themselves; and,

Second, adding in quality of life and similar factors.

Admittedly, they have good points, for example the article talks about a niche drug that started at less than a dollar a dose and quickly had its price raised to $260 a dose as it became more popular (but no more effective or any more expensive to produce). In the United States, such niche drugs account for almost a quarter of the nation's drug bill (24%) -- the foundation of the unfunded entitlement drug benefit that many have called the worst threat to America's security in our generation. for the entire article.