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 21, 2011

Rugby: the LDS connection

Now I'm not a big fan of rugby, and I don't really understand how you score points but this Saturday (May 21) BYU and Cal play for the Rugby collegiate championship.  Who would have thought that BYU was such a great Rugby school?  As a matter of fact, BYU and Cal have played for the championship the last 6 years in a row (and yes there are plenty of other teams that would like to play for that championship).  California is so good at Rugby that they haven't lost a game since 2009 when they lost to BYU in the championship.  This year both teams are undefeated as they head into the championship game.  You might be interested to know that Cal made it to the championship by defeating the University of Utah last week.  So two great rugby teams in Utah. 

Some of you might know that Utah has a good Rugby tradition.  A couple years ago a movie came out called Forever Strong about a High School Rugby team in Utah that has won numerous championships in their own right and rarely loses a game.  It is a good movie and worth watching. 

Rugby at BYU is a club sport, which means that it doesn't have all the advantages (like scholarships) of the sports supported directly by the school like football and basketball, track and baseball, etc.  Still BYU keeps coming with a great team year after year.  If you have heard of the rugby haka you might want to learn more about the BYU haka in the video at the end of this post. 

As a matter of fact LDS folks are getting a good reputation for being great at Rugby.  It is true in this country that Rugby isn't a big draw but in Australia for instance several great LDS players have set aside professional playing (for big bucks I might add) to serve missions.

Elder Andersen spoke in April Conference (2011) about a young man who served a mission rather than accept an invitation to play for the top team in New Zealand. Sid Going served faithfully and returned home, able to complete his rugby dream by playing many years on the top team.  Watch the video here to get the whole story and find out what he is doing now in addition too his taking time to encourage young LDS rugby players to put their religion before rugby.   

There is another young man who is setting aside a lot of fame and Money to serve a mission.  William Hopoate of Australia is leaving for a mission.

Read the article about him by clicking on the previous sentence, here is an excerpt: "Hopoate has decided to leave the NRL and serve his two-year mission with the church. He's not the first rugby league player to make such a call and he won't be the last. But arguably, he's the one with the most to lose, in a football (rugby) sense at least."

It is awesome to see young men leave behind anything and everything to serve the Lord.  The older I get, the more I enjoy seeing young people do what it right and let the consequences follow.  Who's on the Lord's side?  Who? 

BYU Haka

Friday, May 20, 2011

FHE: Don't forget the treats!

Hilary made a new cookie for our Family Home Evening treat on Monday.  I must admit that I was a little dubious at first, particularly when I found out they were a chocolate cookie, as I am not a big fan of chocolate.  But they turned out to be really great!  Maybe having low expectations really does make things better.  Hilary said she got the recipe from the Internet and if you click on the name of the cookies it will take you to that site.  Here is the recipe.  Hilary has put any comments she had in italics.  Hilary said that it took about a half hour to make the dough. 

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies
Yields 2 dozen cookies
  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons spooned and leveled bleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (I just used a cup of chocolate chips)
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar, divide
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and warm, not hot
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (don't know if there's a difference, but I just used plain imitation vanilla flavoring)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of peppermint extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. In a medium bowl, beat together well the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50 percent power for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for 15 seconds more and stir; set aside.
  2. In a mixer with the paddle attachment (didn't use that either), beat together 2 1/2 cups of the sugar, the oil, butter and corn syrup to blend. Beat in the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla and peppermint extract. Then on low, beat in the melted chocolate. Add the flour mixture and beat in on low speed. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for several hours or overnight (mine only refrigerated for about 4 hours).
  3. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line bakesheet with parchment (didn't do that either!). Take out about one-quarter of the dough at a time to shape. Roll the dough into 3 inch balls. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar into one bowl and the confectioners’ sugar in another bowl. Roll each cookie dough ball lightly in granulated sugar first, then very heavily in confectioners’ sugar. (By rolling in plain sugar first, the confectioners’ sugar does not soak in so much and stays on the surface better).
  4. Arrange cookies 2 inches apart on the foil. For crisp cookies, bake 12 to 14 minutes. For a chewier cookie, bake 10-12 minutes. Bake one sheet at a time. (Mom said she liked crisp cookies better, but I liked the chewy cookies best.)

Yum!  Smiles were had all around and they tasted great with a glass of cold milk!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Guest Blog: Turning 21

Our third daughter turned 21 a couple of weeks ago.  Rather than choosing to go out to dinner, she asked me to make one of her favorites here at home (chicken pot pie).  She asked her dad to make her an ice cream cake (she has never liked actual cake, even as a kid).  And then, after dinner and opening her presents, we all went down to the family room and watched "Tangled" together.

This in vivid contrast to the way the world would suggest she mark this "passage into adulthood".

It's actually quite ironic; celebrating your coming of age, your maturity, your adulthood, by taking mood- and mind-altering substances into your body--so much so that the next morning, you are hard-pressed to remember just what you did and who you did it with.   

How much more mature, more adult--in the true sense of the word--to respect your spirit and your body, and to remain master of both.  To spend time with people you care about, to enjoy their company, and to have those memories the next morning. 

That's the recipe for a happy birthday--and a pretty good foundation on which to build a happy life.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Degrees of charity

We know the importance of charity in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In 1st Corinthians 13:13 it says: "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."  That makes it pretty clear that charity is huge, when you consider how important hope and faith are.  Moroni 7:46 corroborates this: "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all".  Doctrine and Covenants 88:125 says it in a positive way: "And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace."  Charity is something we need to develop.

Possibly a way to measure where we are with the development of charity in our lives is the "Eight Degrees of Charity" which were penned by a medieval Jewish philosopher named Maimonides.  The following are his degrees of charity from lowest (least charitable) to highest.

1.  Giving to the poor unwillingly.
2.  Giving to the poor gladly with a smile.
3.  Giving to the poor person after being asked.
4.  Giving to the poor person before being asked.
5.  Giving without knowing who you give to even though the person receiving does know who has given to him.
6.  Knowing who you are giving to but they don't know you.
7.  Neither the giver nor the receiver knows the other.
8.  Help a person by providing a loan, making a partnership or finding/giving them a job and helping him until "he needs no longer". 

As I have thought about this I couldn't help but consider how we help people in the church.  Better known as the church welfare system, members give money to the ward (called fast offering) for the use of the Bishop to help people locally who are in need.  The system is set up to help people for short periods to get over an emergency situation.  Ideally those in need through a financial emergency will receive short term help until they again stand on their own to maintain their independence.  That situation coincides with #7 on the degrees of charity.  We give money to the ward for the Bishop to be able to help the needy.  They don't know who has given the money to the Bishop and we don't know who the Bishop helps with it.  Church employment specialists attempt to help with degree #8, to help them find a job, or better job so that they will no longer have financial problems.  That degree #8 help could also come in learning how to budget, finding more a more affordable place to live or learning strategies to live within a families income.   

The interesting parts, to me, of these degrees of charity are at the lower end where people give unwillingly.  I had to think about that for a minute because most seem to give willingly in the church or not give at all.  I was trying to imagine a situation where a need existed and a ward member would give unwillingly.  Still good that they gave but as we all know, doing the right willingly is much closer to how the Lord does things and there seem to be increased blessings for those that are able to provide an attitude of willingness to do or give as required. 

I found degree #2 intriguing because it seemed to me that all the higher degrees should include the smile.  On the other hand I imagined the person giving unwillingly frowning or grimacing which had some funny images in my mind.  I guess if I were giving unwillingly I might make some faces too. 

The progression up from there makes sense to me.  Willing to give but must be asked first.  I am often not a volunteering guy but when asked am willing to do whatever is needed.  This emphasized to me that maybe I need to be more free with volunteering.  Then the further progression of giving without knowing who and then they not knowing you gave was good too.  Those two in particular start taking out the control of the money (If I know who it is going to, I might feel some control over the money still.  Or its possible I would choose not to give to certain folks while being willing to give to others--so in essence not trusting the Lord and the Bishop with my money but wanting more control.) Alternately when the receiver knows it came from me I might receive some side benefit from giving--at least knowing that they are in my debt or sharing their gratitude with me.  All-n-all I found the degrees of giving a good gauge at looking at my own giving to see if I am progressing to giving the Lord's way. 

In reality, however; charity is a lot more than giving to the poor.  It is also an attitude of forgiving, kindness, love and caring all wrapped together.  So don't get tunnel vision thinking that charity is only about giving to the needy.  Charity is a way of life that smooths all our relationships, including our relationship with ourself that makes our relationship to God much more comfortable as well. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I want to hold your hand

Some of us might remember the title of this post as lyrics from a Beatles song from the 60's.  I am not a Beatles fan and they are not the point here.  The point is again my in-laws.  If you don't know what inspirations they have been giving the rest of the family lately please go to this post and read about it: They Twain Shall Be One.  My mother-in-law recently wrote to tell us of their second meeting since the accident, I think it will continue to inspire you to read it.  Mom is able to use her computer and send emails and etcetera via voice control. 
She writes:
This morning Lynell and Lesli brought Gary to visit me. That's the second time we have been together since his accident. We had a wonderful visit and were able to sit outside on the patio for a while. Gary has made great progress this week. His therapists are very happy with what he has accomplished. He is able to go several hours a day without the use of the trach so the weaning process is going well. He was able to speak with some volume today and some of what he said was understandable. He is able to move his own wheelchair using one leg and one arm. It's good to see that strength returning. He's also sipping water from a glass and has eaten some applesauce as well. He can also wash his own face, put on his own glasses and wipe his own nose. Maybe I should be jealous – I can't do those things for myself. He also was able to use a standing frame and transfer without the aid of the Hoyer lift. Those and other things mark a lot of progress this last week. I'm really pleased that he's working so hard and is having such good success. He wanted to hold my hand while he was here today and maneuvered until he was able to do that. I'm looking forward to holding hands more often ASAP. I feel like he's making big steps now instead of the baby steps we had seen before. Thanks for your prayers, concern and love that have helped us move along down this path. Love, Loray

It is amazing to me the things we take for granite.  Of course we most often don't even realize how little we regard certain abilities and privileges we have on a daily basis...until they are gone. [Note: surely there is some way to be grateful before we lose what we have.]  Of course I am talking about holding hands.  The effort that Dad has to go to to "maneuver" as Mom called it so he could hold her hand, where in the past that was something that was easy, even considering Mom's limitations.  It's enough to make me take a day off and hold my my wife's hand all day.  Well...almost.  Maybe the situation will be such that I'll look back at this and wish I had. 

I can remember some of the first times I held a girls hand (not my mother or sister) and the feelings that created in me.  Now hand holding is a comfortable and comforting activity to help me feel like my wife and I are acting together, as one, or at least getting there.  I'm going to try and let this inspire me to appreciate the seemingly simple activities that show love and solidarity with my wife.  And for you two girls that have a husband and fiance handy, do more handholding! 

"This years fancies are passing fancies, but sighing sighs, holding hands.  These my heart understands." 
--Beegie Adair (Musician)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Music #7: Octappella--Anthem to My King

I am a lover of Acapela music.  Acapela music has more of an impact in Christmas themed music and what I'll call humorous music, but it is also getting quite a presence in Christian music.  This particular song is put out by the male acapela group Octappella and unusually has a female soloist for this song.  Mindy Gledhill is the soloist.  Both Octappella and Mindy Gledhill are LDS singers. 

Octappella and Mindy Gledhill: Anthem to My King

Holy Father with humble voice I raise
An Anthem to my King
May the Heavens find a way to hear
Those words I cannot sing
Lord with everlasting praise will Thee I worship endless days
Let this voice of gladness bring glory to thy name
Lord with everlasting praise will Thee I worship endless days
Let my voice of gladness bring glory to thy name
Father, our grateful voices raise an anthem to our king
May the heavens write on every heart
The words we cannot sing
Lord with everlasting praise will Thee we worship endless days
Let our voices of gladness bring glory to thy name
Father with grateful voices
Now we raise an Anthem to our…
Holy Father with grateful voice I raise
An Anthem to my King

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Manly Man Training #13: Testify

When I was a child listening on Fast and Testimony Sunday I had a hard time connecting with what people were saying.  I needed something to help me pay attention and not get energetic and rambunctious.  So I started keeping a tally of the number of men versus women bearing their testimony to keep me somewhat focused.  I quickly noticed that repeatedly, month after month, women were more likely to bear their testimony.  I began to wonder why that was the case.  For years that seemed to be the case.  Why were more women bearing their testimony than men, I wondered.  Was there some difference between men and women that led to this inequality month after month?
In the past couple of years I have noticed that more men are bearing their testimony as well as more boys and young men.  The numbers have equalized by my counting and it is not uncommon for men to actually outnumber the ladies in bearing their testimony. 

Manly men need to bear their testimony.  Of course I don't mean just in Fast and Testimony meeting, but in life.  Men need to bear their testimony to their family.  Manly Men need to make a stand and declare what they stand for.  I remember hearing a talk in the last couple of years about the importance of fathers bearing their testimony to their children and I decided to write mine and put it in a book for my children.  The example of a man bearing his testimony both in his own home to his children as well as in the meeting are important to his family and to other observers. Just the action of bearing our testimony can influence others for good, irrespective of what we say.   It could be that there is a little boy like me that is keeping track and wondering why a testimony is important especially for a man.   

When I was a teenager it became accepted practice, for a while, that if one of us stood up that we could encourage a specific individual to do so after us.  So a teenager might stand to bear their testimony and mention a friend in the congregation and encourage them to bear their testimony too, while at the pulpit.  Of course that would be embarrassing but we figured if we had the courage to go up and do it then our friends should too.  I believe our action of verbalizing our testimony in a meeting helps others think that they could do the same thing, we literally encourage them by our example.

It is important that men strengthen their testimony by bearing it as well as living it.  I think I understand how that works now.  If we develop a testimony but keep it to ourselves, it tends to never get strong enough to have power in our lives or other's lives.  Similar to faith without works, there are action parts to the testimony.  If we put our testimony into words it requires that we think about it and that process of thinking and delivering helps define what our testimony is and isn't to ourselves as well as others.  The delivery also serves as a declaration of our belief and makes others aware of it and consequently we can receive support in living up to it. 

In a marriage our wife likes to hear us bear our testimony.  She knows our beliefs probably more intimately than any other person and would be the one who could most accurately measure our testimony, outside or ourselves.  She will appreciate hearing our words of testimony especially when they match our actions that she sees in our life.  The testimony we bear verbally as well as the one we show through our actions in our life, and especially in our home, will bear great dividends.  It will assure and comfort our family that we are trying to do the things that they know we should and that we likely teach them that they should do.  Our actions in this regard strengthen our words and indicate that they are truly meaningful to us, consequently making them powerful to our families and friends.  [Naturally if we tell our testimony at church and then do not show it at home then those actions will weaken the power of our words and weaken the faith and hope of our families.]

So as a Manly Man please bear your testimony of the Savior, the gospel, the church, the importance of families and the reality of a meaningful daily religion and it's power to help us in our daily trials.  The dividends are that your family will be strengthened and be more unified in the Gospel and that other people will be influenced for good through the Spirit of your testimony. 
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