Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Grandpa Trainer

For about a week I was receiving some training in my own home.  As many folks know there are a variety of training classes and programs to learn a variety of skills.  In our society there is an area that is sorely lacking for training.  That would be parenting and grandparenting.  Oh, I've heard jokes about someone should be licensed before they can have children and all that.  I am also certainly aware of parenting classes that are available through a variety of social agencies as well as some churches.  I've even taught some of those.  But there are very few trainings that will come and train you in your home.

Well for a week I had a great trainer come to my home and give me the low down on how to be a grandpa.  Her name is Torrence and she is a cute girl who is an expert in the field of being a child and so she came to teach Lisa and I some things we need to know about having a child in the home again.  She has a unique teaching style in that she doesn't use any language at all.  At least not with me.  She may well give her parents the lowdown on my progress in private.  But with me she only uses grunts and various other sounds to guide you in not only getting her what she wants but a couple of times in making sure you didn't forget she was there. 

As with most trainers she had great confidence in not only her own abilities but also that you would eventually get it.  She knows her stuff and was happy to teach me as well. 

I think I learned some o the pleasure of being a grandparent.  Of course there is the normal oft mentioned idea that a grand parent can pass the child back to their parents as needed but what I learned is that things that bothered me as a parent actually gave me some joy now as I approach grand parenting.  It is a joy to watch the next generation learn and grow.  I didn't notice the parental feelings growing in me of "when will you act like an adult".  Things that were bothersome as a parent are joys or neutral as a grandparent.  I noticed that a child crying didn't bother me as much as they did when I was a parent.  I could even smile some during the crying.  It possibly might be that my hearing has dulled to a point where it doesn't have the same effect on me that it once did. 

As a grandparent wannabee I can see the simple joys more and appreciate little simple things that I might have overlooked as a parent.  Torrence taught me the pleasure of stairs, that is watching her go up them and down them, having confidence that she could manage them and not fall on them.  She taught me the pleasure of cheerios again as she enjoyed eating those more than the fancier fare that we had for dinner.  She taught me the truism of "Your value escalates when you hug a baby".   

One day I expect to have actual real live grandchildren and who knows what they will look like or sound like or be like much less what they will become.  But I appreciate all the training I can get so I can be prepared.  Thanks -- Torrence!

She has decided to give her parents some additional training in parenting (they have almost completed their sophomore year) and I suspect is keeping her eye open for some more hopeful grandparent wannabees to give advance classes to.
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The humble kind criminal with a conscience

Kind Criminal?
I had an interesting experience the other day.  I was talking to a man who had been in jail many times in the past.  In our discussion he identified himself as a "humble, kind criminal with a conscience".  That made me pause for a second.  A criminal humble?  A criminal kind?  A criminal with a conscience?  I was not accustomed to thinking of criminals in quite that way. 

So I laughed!  He laughed and then he said, "sounds crazy doesn't it?"  Maybe that is why he was seeing me. 

As I thought about it some more I think I realized what he was saying.  He was humble in that he didn't try doing more crime than he needed to do to get what little he needed.  He wasn't out to get rich, just get by.  That's kind of humble...maybe.  Kind of like a hunter who only hunts when he needs food and then only hunts for what he needs and not excess. 

He was kind because he didn't want to hurt anyone he told me.  He didn't steal purses from old ladies for example (his not mine) and didn't beat them up or throw them to the ground like some of his fellow criminals.  He did allow that maybe he did "harm people emotionally when they found out there money was gone" but other than that he cared about people and never had attacked anyone or caused bodily harm.  He was a pick pocket in his past and he felt that was morally superior to more thuggish criminals. 

He had a conscience that wouldn't allow him to do certain things that would be harmful as I mentioned above.  He even discouraged some of his comrades from doing those mean and abusive things he said.  He took a lot of ribbing for his ideas on that from other criminals he said.  "They said I was different." 
He would much rather hurt himself than someone else he said and had scars to show for it.

A criminal with principal?  I avoided his view of himself because my tack was that he had stopped doing criminal behaviors so he wasn't a criminal any more! 

Now we just need to find out what he is so he can have a new label. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thought provoking song by Sissel

Sissel singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

A year or two ago I purchased the Christmas DVD of Sissel singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and orchestra in their Christmas special.  It was beautiful!  I've listened to that DVD more times at Christmas than any of the other Christmas specials they've done.  I enjoyed her voice so much that I have purchased some of her songs.  One thing that really struck me about her singing besides its beauty was that she smiles while she sings.  Something we don't see often.  Even my wife commented, and she of course is a singer, that is a rare ability.

Sissel kyrkjebø

You can go to her website by clicking on the above picture.

Sissel is a singer from Norway who often sings in English.  I recently ran across this song by Sissel that got me thinking.  Listen to her song "Ready to go home"--the lyrics are below if you would like to read them while she sings. 

Lyrics to Ready To Go Home :

(Andrew Gold / Graham Gouldman)
On the streets below these walls
Where I used to walk
Now I can barely crawl
All this darkness rising tall
Lord, shine a light for me
I'm waiting to be called
I'm ready to go home
I'm ready to receive forgiveness for my sins
I'm ready to begin
Take this river to the sea
Where the delta flows
The tide is washing over me
Take this soul to heaven's door
Show me where tomorrow lies
I'm waiting to be born
I'm ready to lay down
I'm ready now to sleep
A promise I must keep
I'm ready to go home
So tired, I lay down with these memories
I breath shallow deep inside of me

[ These are Ready To Go Home Lyrics on ]

This song aside from being beautiful reminds me of a few people who I have met who were ready to die.  I differentiate that from wanting to be dead.  These folks were not suicidal or even wishing they were dead but rather had lived what they considered a great life and found that they were ready to move on to the 'hereafter'.  Some are old and feel worn out and not able to do what they would like and therefore hope for an opportunity to be productive again in the next life.  Others were just anxious and curious to see what was next.  

A line from the song that has had me thinking was "I'm ready to receive forgiveness for my sins".  That could have various shades of meaning for example: forgiveness comes as we repent and not all at once at the end so if you've repented you should have received it already.   Or maybe the whole idea of the song is that the person is ready to change and be a better person, maybe that is the 'Home' that is mentioned.    However, it strikes you it is a thought provoking song that brings up a question in my mind: is it ever okay to be ready to die and move from this world or should our every effort be to remain here at all costs?

Enjoy the song and if it creates some profound thoughts in you, please let me know.  As for me I'll go home when called but I am ready to stay just now. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Agency and Agent

Our religion has a word that we use different than others.  Insofar as I can tell we are the only ones that use it this way.  It is significantly different than the other uses of the word.  The word is agency (click the word to see dictionary meanings of the word).  In our religion it means a human being's ability to choose their actions, reactions and thoughts.  When we speak of agency it indicates that because we each have that ability to choose for ourselves, how to act and think, that we have the incumbent responsibility for our actions.  In addition we are the only ones who can change our actions.  Implied in any discussion of agency is that we have the responsibility to make it a priority to change our behaviors to be more in harmony with Christ's teachings.  We are responsible to attempt to act in a manner not only pleasing to him but following the examples that he gave us in his life and complying with the teachings of ancient and modern day prophets. 

As we put in effort into making that change (which is described as a change from selfishness to selflessness) then we become commendable agents or representatives of our Savior.  We are energized toward that goal due to a covenant or promise that we make at baptism.  That covenant not only communicates our desire to follow his commandments but to also become like him by taking upon us his name symbolically.  Taking upon us His name is like joining His family.  We seek to achieve active daily efforts to act as He would act as evidenced by the teachings from the New Testament and Book of Mormon. 

Needless to say our efforts will be imperfect and often weak.  However, we have the expectation that with increased practice, effort and religious and self understanding (aided by self evaluation) we can improve our efforts and become adequate, commendable and acceptable servants/agents of Christ. 

The Prophet and President of our church Gordon B. Hinckley taught more than once prior to his death in 2008, that in his view what was the best representation of our religion is the individual member's lives (see yesterday's post for more info by clicking here).  Consequently we as members must not just "talk the talk" but "walk the walk", meaning to be an example of what our religion teaches and stands for.  Be living symbols, we might say, in our lives.  Of course we recognize that as living symbols we will be human symbols as well indicating we will not be perfect but make errors.  Even in our errors we can symbolize and exemplify efforts to improve and change to be a more Christ like person. 

Without agency, any talk or expectation of change would be meaningless because without agency we would not be able to do it.  It would be impossible.  Without agency our actions would be due to other causes and not within our own control.  Whatever the other causes we would only be reactive and responsive to those powers.  As believers in agency or rather recognizers that we have been given that gift from God, we are powerful in the ability to choose our actions and take responsibility for good or ill for what we do and think. 

As a result of agency we have a chance to emulate Christ and pattern our behavior after him.  Agency makes that goal a possibility.  (Matt. 5:48: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." See also 3 Nephi 12:48) Without the possibility to control ourselves (as opposed to being controlled by someone else) and without the ability to be responsible for our actions we are animal like in psychology as well as biology, tied to instinct or other controls, rather than being individual agents able to contemplate in thought who or what we choose to follow in our behaviors.

It has always interested me that of all God's creations (of which I am aware) humans are the only ones that can choose to comply with His commandments.  We get to decide whom we will serve rather than automatically comply with everything and anything He says.  

With that established we can more easily see that life is not just what it seems.  It is not just an effort to accumulate stuff or to seek entertainment or fulfill our passions.  Instead life is a testing ground where we can practice and perfect our self-control and shape our thoughts and behaviors to represent what we hold most dear.  Difficulties, catastrophes, pain and heartache are not just a condition of mortality or not merely obstacles to overcome but can literally be the teachers of how to change and conform our lives to be like Christ.  As we modify and transform ourselves in this way we can/will see that our individual life with our individual weaknesses and strengths, along with our individual challenges and successes are an individual schooling that is developed very specifically for each one of us.  This literally can train/shape us individually to reach our potential.  That potential is to most closely resemble our Savior and His Father. 

We may as a child and at times through our lives pattern our behavior after individuals or heroes that we see have some characteristic of the Savior.  But ultimately we must turn to Him and follow His pattern as we understand it, which of course allows us to be responsible for how we turn out.  As we do this we acquire all opportunities to learn and be what this mortal existence was intended to help us be.  The Creator not only did brilliant work in creating this world and all of us, but did ultimately meaningful work in forming a creation with potential!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

From Babbytised to exuding the gospel

About a week ago I read a blog by C. Jane Kendrick.  She writes one of those 'Mormon Mommy' blogs that I have been hearing so much about lately.  It was an enjoyable true story she wrote about a young woman, Abby,  who moved into their neighborhood and liked their family and the young woman's group in their ward.  Abby joined the church, consequently the title "Babbytised".  Ms. Kendrick didn't feel like she was a big part in her conversion (so it seems) and may have even felt like she let her down when she didn't make it on time for her baptism.  But she did play the same important role that we can be to our friends whether they join the church or not.  Just being their friend and being willing to discuss our beliefs at their speed.  I highly recommend it check it out here:

Part of being a member of the church is just allowing the gospel to get inside us deep enough that we just become the gospel or maybe a 'gospel liver'.  So that it shows in our clothes, on our face, in what we say and it becomes US, or maybe we become part of it.

In another post that will be coming today or maybe tomorrow entitled Agency and Agent I mention President Hinckley's thoughts that we are the representatives of the church, the symbols of the church more so than any picture or icon.  (Click here for the enjoyable full talk)

As we let ourselves (it does take work though and doesn't happen just by itself) grow deep into the church, the church will in turn grow deeply into us and will show who we are.

I remember one time a co-worker of mine responded to me after I mentioned that I was surprised that she could recognize certain things about others without knowing them.  She said something like, "you can tell other members of your church just by seeing them can't you?"  I have thought about that from time to time and realized that it is largely true.  There are certain clues if someone is a member of the church.  Sometimes you can even tell it in their writing without ever seeing them.

When we get the church into us enough, then the church exude from us as well.  Then we do indeed become a representative of the church and many people will see it. 

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