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...

Saturday, May 7, 2011


There is no doubt that we as men don't have adequate appreciation for all that Mothers do.  They keep so many things going including the magic of cleaning clothes and making meals and often working at a job and calming, teaching and raising children.  So much to do and much of it is a challenge.

I had a bit of an opportunity for a few months to learn some things about motherhood from the inside.  When my wife and I moved to this state we agreed that the first one to get a job would go to work and the other would care for our three young children at home.  One was entering the first grade and the two others were not old enough to attend school at the time.  So as luck, or more likely Heavenly Father, had it my wife found the job first.  That meant I was going to learn a lot and have a very interesting several month experience.  I stayed home to care for the children, met my daughter after school and prepared dinner daily.  I think I was first string on washing the clothes too, but I'm sure my wife could tell you for certain.  Over time I began to do day care at my home and had as many as 8 children at home at a time.  I learned to appreciate mothers more than ever! 

As I think back there isn't a lot of detail sticking out in my mind.  Oh, a few specific outstanding experiences and some memories of my learning to make homemade salsa (that was an interest of mine at the time) and I remember writing during nap time, but most of the day to day experience of things is lost to my current memory.  So I have a little insider enjoyment of this video clip entitled "In tha Muthahood".  It is a rap song that is fun and clean. 

I first saw that video on a blog that I read (click here to go to it).  Hopefully you can smile and laugh at the video and not wince and grimace.  That reminds me of a movie about parenthood that Lisa and I saw years ago.  We thought it was pretty funny initially.  Others that we recommended it to didn't think it was funny, they said it hurt or was too much like their family to laugh. 
Mothers most often shape the world for us as a child.  And that shaping lasts far into adulthood. Because mothers are so influential they have gotten much of the blame for things that are going wrong in society as well as in individual people's lives.  I hear that a lot in my field when someone tells me that their behaviors now are due to their mother.  I say if you can think that through well enough to verbalize it that clearly, then you can figure out that you are responsible for your actions now, not your mother! 

The truth is the vast majority of mothers really do all they can and make tremendous sacrifices for their children.  I had an opportunity today to talk to two mothers.  One was retired and her children were grown and another had one child who was just high school age.  The younger one expressed concern over how much to push her child to get him to grow and become the person that he can be.  The other looking at life from the other end was settled, peaceful and supportive of doing the best you can but trusting that they will remember what you have taught them when it is critical.  We decided the trick was in not pushing so much that they learned not to take responsibility but not so little that they didn't think it mattered.  Not an easy balance to make.

As a father, I have been pleased to be a part of that shaping of our children.  I have seen close up the tremendous love and detail involved in motherhood as well as the tremendous sacrifice and deferral of self that a mother does to care for and prepare her children on a daily and life long basis.  I could never diminish those who have fulfilled their life by being a mother.  Instead I can learn from them. 
My mother has been a great influence in my life.  I chose this picture, which is from Christmas 2005, because she has always loved Christmas and Christmas time.  She has taught me that love, not just for Christmas but for Christ.  Aside from that she has taught me to love and care for people, all kinds of people not just ones like me.  She has taught me many things that I treasure to this day and plan to treasure throughout my life. Her influence in my life has gone through me now to my own children.  And since all of them are girls I fully expect that my mother's influence will have great impact on another generation...soon.  Thanks Mom for everything and don't worry, I won't forget you. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Stand on high ground, And don't go down, not even a little

Very often in life we find all kinds of reasons not to make a stand.  I mean there are all kinds of reasons to be wishy washy and to determine that making a stand in one area or on one particular issue will be a bother to us and our friends.  Some people will misunderstand our stand, others will quit their association with us, or others will laugh at us and still others may hate us.  All of that can be hard to deal with.  We care about what other people think.  We also care about what other people do and sometimes we follow them.  Recognizing our desire to be like others should help us know that some of them will want to be like us and will follow our example if we declare our standard.

It shouldn't be surprising that we get tempted to be weak and not make a definitive decision about standards.  If we won't make the decision in advance then maybe we'll waver under the heat and stress of the moment.  Sometimes we decide to keep the standard in our mind but don't tell others about it.  Kind of like keeping a standard secretly.  When our friends and associates don't know we have a standard then they assume we are much like them and will invite and encourage us without thinking about it to break that standard.  It is because our standards are so different from the world that this issue is a big deal.  Eventually the tire must hit the road however, and we have to act on our standard or not.  There are many weakening tactics to get us from proclaiming or being a living example of the standards.  Satan uses them all.  Embarrassment and concern with being accepted socially are two of the biggest.  When we do not declare our standards then ultimately it can be like having no standards at all--at least none different than the rest of the world.

In life many of our standards are like snap together furniture:  Most if not all standards rest on and are supported by other standards.  If one is weak then others are weak too.  If one falls then then most or all of it falls.  If one doesn't exist in our life then other standards literally don't have a leg to stand on, or in other words don't make sense or have meaning.  Our standards need to be linked together to keep each of them strong, stable and standing tall.  In addition when we 'link' with others who have similar standards then each of us becomes stronger resulting in the advice to associate with others that have similar high standards.  Ultimately the standards are there to protect us from harm. 

When we link with others we make us all stronger.  "This people have got to become of one heart and one mind.  They have to know the will of God and do it, for to know the will of God is one thing, and to bring our wills, our dispositions, into subjection to that which we do understand to be the will of God is another" (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 221).
 Consequently we get talks from General Authorities encouraging us to make a stand.  We read about those who did take stands in the Bible, Book or Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants.  When we make a stand for standards then we are standing for Christ and against Lucifer.  So it is no surprise that we get tempted, embarrassed and hurt in an effort to keep us from making that stand.  Satan would prefer we don't draw that line in the sand, so to speak, designating what we will and will not do. 


In the Book of Mormon we read about a story of Lehonti who protects himself and his troops on the top of the hill or mountain.  Amalikiah comes with an army to take them.  He sends envoys up the mountain asking   Lehonti three times to come down.  Lehonti refuses.  Finally Amalikiah comes up the hill.  If the story stopped there it would look like Lehonti's example helped Amalikiah be a better man.  Except Amalikiah doesn't come all the way up, but close and then asks Lehonti to come down just a little.  Lehonti falls for that and eventually loses his life and the safety of those with whom he was responsible because of that seemingly minor reduction in his standard.  Lehonti thought he was in control with his guards when he went down just a little.  But that was enough for Amalikiah to put his plan into motion for Lehonti to lose everything.  

This reminds me of Karl G. Maeser, the founder of what is today Brigham Young University, who memorably taught his students concerning honor. "I have been asked what I mean by word of honor. I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls — walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground — there is a possibility that in some way or another I may be able to escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of that circle? No, never! I'd die first."  Lehonti was a great guy.  He did a lot right but ultimately he went down from his lofty position just a little and that was enough to trap him.  Similarly we can be trapped and hurt if we cross the line of honor, the standards, the line drawn in the sand. 

As Elder D. Todd Christofferson said in October 2010 Conference: "To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes.  True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives--that is our time and choices--to God's purposes.  In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny." That's what I want, my "highest destiny". 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Angela Johnson's sculptures of Christ

Angela Johnson has done some beautiful sculptures of Christ depicting some of the scenes from the New Testament. (Click here to go to her website)  I was able to see some of her sculptures when they were on display at the Washington DC temple visitor's center.

These two views of Lazarus' rising were pictures I took.

These video's below give you a little bit of info about Angela Johnson and her sculptures.
This first video is just over a minute if you don't have much time.  
This second video she explains more about getting into sculpting and what it has meant to her personally.  This is six minutes long. 
This last video is views of several of her sculptures shown to the song "Do You Have Room" by Shawna Belt Edwards.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Between Veils

I live my life
Aware of the veil ahead
That I cannot see beyond

When I change perspective
And ponder my beginnings
I brush against another veil

Neither veil affords a view
To what came before
Or what will come after

The veils do not trap me
But simply define my present
Birth to death

Both veils are inviting
From my current perspective
An entrance and an exit

Not inviting to leave
But inviting to stay
To explore, learn and grow.

Explore this existence
It's privileges and mysteries
It's beauty and contrast

It's light and dark
Warm and cold
Strong and weak

Learn it's meaning and hope
It's individuality and sociality
It's love and hate

It's peace and chaos
Loneliness and longing
Freedom and duty

Grow to love and be loved
To respect and be respectable
To trust and be trustworthy

To know joy and be joyful
Care and be compassionate
Value others and be kind

Both veils bid me to be.
To become
Until I am

copyright 2011
by Dallas, Dad, Big D & I

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Soul Surfer--the movie

As I write this we just got back from a movie.  I rarely see a movie in the theater for a variety of reasons.  One is I am old enough to have a hard time paying nine dollars to see a movie.  Another is that too many movies have things in them that would embarrass me.  And third I usually only go to a movie with my family.

So my wife and I decided to go on a date today, Hooray!  We had been talking about going to a movie on a date since the beginning of the year but the couple times we looked at the current movies we couldn't find one that both of us would like.  Our tastes in movies run very different which I may have to blog about another time.  But this movie seemed to fit all the criteria (see the trailer at the bottom of this blog) and I had read a good review by Chris Hicks (click here to get to it).

And I was right!  It was really great.  But first there are two things that are important to note:  One: modesty is not embraced by much of Christianity and secondly surfer girls apparently are not high on the modesty meter either.  If you can accept that problem the movie was superb.  As Lisa and I discussed the movie afterwards we realized that the immodesty was not done at all in a sexual manner.  It is a bit jarring initially but is fairly easy to overlook because there is no sexual energy from the script, the actors or the camera work.  

I'm not a good judge of acting and all that so I'm not claiming the acting is great (although it may have been), but I was very impressed with the story which is based on a true story of a young woman who was just budding into a great surfer when she was attacked by a shark and her arm was bit off.  The young woman's name is Bethany Hamilton who is played by AnnaSophia Robb.  I remember reading about this young woman a few years ago and the courage she showed.  Helen Hunt from Mad About You was the mother and Dennis Quaid played the father, both showed some good and accurate portrayals of trying to be strong through such a harrowing experience. 

The movie shows that excellently.  I am amazed at how well they were able to show the struggles and difficulty overcoming both the mental and physical trauma (considering it is just a movie less than two hours).  It is amazing how they were able to picture the actress with one arm, it was digitally done (since the actress actually does have a left arm) but worked excellently. Incidentally at the end of the movie they have some video footage of the Bethany Hamilton (the real girl and her parents) which is enjoyable to see as well. 

The message, to not give up in the face of extreme difficulties, is well done.  The message that faith in Christ can help us through our trials is present, and may feel strong because it is usually left out, but is not heavy handed.  There was even some meaningful religious imagery shown after the attack in a spiritual experience she had.  The message that family is hugely important is grandly shown.  In addition the photography is beautiful (the scenery) and amazing (some of the surfing and shots underwater), thoroughly enjoyable.  In addition the music was great (I was especially attracted to the instrumental pieces as you might imagine and one pop song that was actually written by Bethany Hamilton according to the credits.  This movie is a great movie to impress on each of us including children that faith in Christ really can be a strength.  I recommend it highly.  This is a family friendly film, but I would suggest forewarning about the immodesty before going to see it.  This one is worth watching more than once. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Music #5: Moodorama--Grumblegoof

When I was raising my children I used to teach them that if something was prepared for them at dinner and they didn't like it or want to eat it that the proper way to communicate that was by saying, "I can't properly appreciate that".  That is the response I gave to my Sister-in-law when I was a teenager and she presented something for dinner that I dared not try.  That is what I would have to say about some of this groups music.  However some of it I can appreciate highly including this enjoyable song called Grumblegoof.

The name alone is enough to get my attention.  It makes me thing of if someone were to buy your favorite ice cream and when you noticed it in the freezer (I always check the freezer to see what kind of ice cream people have first thing after saying howdy! Ha!) you ask if you could have some.  What you hear is "no, blah blah blah", but what they actually say is "yes, blah blah blah" and so you close the freezer door with a sad expression on your face while grumbling.  They can tell what you THOUGHT they said and laugh at you and get you strait.  That is a grumblegoof! 

Grumblegoof by Moodorama.  The video is a still picture, the music is the star here. 

Moodorama is a German Electronic group specializing in what is called "downtempo trip hop" whatever that means.  It is something fun to listen to.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Manly Man Training #11: Ask Yourself

Often, we as men, go about our daily lives just moving forward.  We don't ask a lot of questions, we don't second guess a lot, we just 'keep on moving on'.  We do tend to get side tracked or at least allow our appetites and passions to interrupt our purpose and goals.  Meals tend to be attended, electronic gadgets tend to be inspected and all the other usual suspects.  Unfortunately one thing that we don't often do is that we do not ask ourselves questions very often.  Certainly we rarely ask ourselves what we feel about things.  We probably do take the time to compare where we are at with our goals from time to time.  Our education goals or our career goals and hopefully we think about our eternal goals, but maybe not as much as we should. 

Maybe one of the corner stones should be to ask our self "What kind of man do I want to be?"  Ideally we think beyond the wants of this world but more to the hopes of the next world. So if you haven't thought about it in a while here is a chance to consider:  What kind of man do you want to be?

Certainly a Manly Man, that goes without saying since you are reading this.  But when you consider and determine the type of man you want to be, think about how that differs from the man you currently are.  What changes do you need to make and which ones are you willing to begin to make now?

It is entirely possible that you do not know the way to become the man you wish to be.  So how do you find out?
1. The first step would be to tell Heavenly father your conclusion and let him know what type of man you want to be.  He may offer some additional nudging that will guide you further.
2. When you feel His approval for the direction you are going ask Him to teach, guide and empower you to become that man. 
3.  Then keep your eyes open for the different ways that the Lord will instruct you.  You will begin to see parts of Sacrament meeting talks that have help and advice for you.  You will begin to notice that lessons are dealing with things that seem directed directly at your needs.  You will begin to see friends and family bringing up things that will help in your quest to be a better man.  The Lord will very often work through others to give you the help and encouragement you need, especially after you ask for it.  It is important that while we are making these efforts to improve that we don't miss any church meetings, or conference if possible.  We need to be in the right places to get the help that the Lord is offering.  He will be inspiring folks to give what is needed and if you aren't there to hear it then it was you not the Lord that fell through.  
4.  Once in a while take a moment to notice the changes that have occurred.  Sometimes if we don't do this simple and short step then we tend to think that nothing much has changed. 
5.  Finally note and implement the helps that come.  If you can remember them without writing them down then by all means write them down.  Manly men can write without losing their strength.  If you need notes to help you remember or help them sink into your heart and soul then do it.  If you need to listen to it fifty times if that is what it takes, do it!  If you need to make it part of your monthly fast then do it. 

Another question that sometimes helps and that we men are sometimes weak in is thinking about what others think of you and what will they remember about you.  Do you think about what others think of you very often?  As men we often tend to go by the mantra 'do what needs to be done and don't worry about what people think of you'.  That mantra helps us keep going despite naysayers and that has its place.  However, it is important that we care about what people think, especially when we respect their opinion.  Sometimes considering what others think will help keep us out of trouble and away from poor decisions.  It might help us focus some of our decisions as well by not just getting to the right goal but being able to set a better example while we are doing so. 

Steven Covey has advocated the idea of contemplating our funeral and while thinking about it consider having someone speak from our professional life, our church associations and our friends.  What would these people say about us, how will we be remembered? 

Finally, what kind of a Priesthood legacy are you leaving?  Are you a Priesthood holder in name only?  What is a Priesthood legacy you might ask?  What have you done to magnify your Priesthood?  Do you make yourself available to give blessings when asked willingly without rushing and do you encourage them to ask again as needed?  Do you accept and sometimes volunteer for opportunities to do Priesthood responsibilities including home teaching?  Do you support your leaders and friends in word and actions in addition to raising the right hand when they are sustained to callings in the ward?  Is it evident that you care about what you are doing or do you act bored and disinterested.  When you are at church are you alert and participating or unresponsive and withdrawn?

There is much to consider when we start thinking about what type of man ought we to be.  Of course you well recognize the reference from the words I chose and realize that we are to be like the Master (3Nephi 27:27).  Let's start working on it now.  And if we are already having some success in that area lets keep moving forward on that great and worthy quest of becoming.

Here's a great quote by Elder Richard G. Scott that goes well with what I've been trying to say: 
"I have come to know that there are currents of divine influence in our life that will lead each of us along the individual plan the Lord would have us follow while on earth.  They are identified through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.  Seek through the Spirit to Identify that plan and carefully follow the direction the Lord will provide.  It will come through answers to prayers and pondering on the counsel of others who are worthy.  Align yourself with it.  Choose willingly, to exercise your agency to follow it.  Do not be overcome by concentrating solely on today, its challenges, difficulties, and opportunities.  These things are the relatively insignificant surface winds and waves of today.  Such preoccupations must not totally capture your interest and attention so as to consume your life."
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