Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bridal Veil Falls

We had a blast at Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon during on of our many hikes we took as a family during the summertime.  It was a pretty warm day, but you couldn't tell when you were standing close to the falls. The cool mist felt delightful! It was a very easy 8-10 hike, well worth it. Everyone had a blast. I am so thankful we live in Utah where there are so many places we can hike and visit that are easy, close and so beautiful! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Patterns of Righteousness: Strengthen Home and Family

Last month Scott spoke in church with the topic, "Patterns of Righteousness" This went right along with Jackson's, Will's and my talk that were giver the same morning. Here is Scott's. It is so well written, so inspiring and worth the read. I took notes as he spoke. He brings up a lot of great ideas and things for me to work on. Enjoy!

I appreciate so much that has been shared already this morning, because it supports my talk so well.
Jackson taught us about the importance of Family Rules and Mottos that challenge us to be better individuals.
Will talked about the importance of following in our Savior’s footsteps by being a Good Example to others.
Lori introduced importance of teaching our children “patterns of righteousness” and how these patterns help us Strengthen Home and Family.  It is this topic that I would like to expand upon further.
In Doctrine & Covenants 88: 119 we are told by the Lord to establish a “house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.”
And in the Church Handbook of Instruction – Book 2, Section 1.4, it teaches us about the balance that is sought between the organization and teachings of the church and the structure of the family:
In the teachings and practices of the restored gospel, the family and the Church help and strengthen each other. To qualify for the blessings of eternal life, families need to learn the doctrines and receive the priesthood ordinances that are available only through the Church. To be a strong and vital organization, the Church needs righteous families.
God has revealed a pattern of spiritual progress for individuals and families through ordinances, teaching, programs, and activities that are home centered and Church supported. Church organizations and programs exist to bless individuals and families and are not ends in themselves. Priesthood and auxiliary leaders and teachers seek to assist parents, not to supersede or replace them.
Elder Neil L. Anderson in an Education Week Devotion that he gave at BYU-Idaho in August of 2008, shared the following thoughts about “patterns of righteousness”.
I want to describe the powerful patterns of righteousness that we bring to our children, our grandchildren, and to others in our family.  To better describe these patterns of righteousness, let me ask you a rather unusual question: “At your funeral (which we hope is far into the future), what will be the qualities of your life that will have marked your posterity?”  I am not referring to general statements of your goodness.  We will expect these.  Rather, what are the poignant, powerful, patterns of righteousness that have marked the soul of those who have followed you?
To establish a pattern of righteousness requires more than good feelings for a gospel principle.  It requires what we will call the three “P’s”: Passion, persistence, and patience, applied consistently over an extended period of time, creating a righteous pattern that is embedded in the very spiritual DNA of our posterity.
What are your patterns of righteousness? Let me list a few:

Loving God
Prayer (Lori)
Searching the scriptures (Lori)
Kindness (Jackson)
Devotion to Family
Caring for the less fortunate
Family Home Evening
Paying tithing
Honesty with our fellow men
Mothers raising children (Lori)
Service to others (Jackson)
Sharing the gospel
Going to Church
Work (Will)
Heeding the promptings of the Holy Ghost
Loyalty to the Prophets of God
Exercising the priesthood
And, there are many more.

From my message today I would ask you to remember these nine words, “Powerful patterns of righteousness require passion, persistence, and patience.”
The three “patterns of righteousness” that I would like to share with you today are Faith, Agency and the Holy Ghost.  As I share with you our philosophies regarding these three “patterns of righteousness”, I hope to also express how we approach these patterns in the context of the three “P’s” that Elder Anderson discussed in his devotion; passion, persistence, and patience.
I remember as a high school youth in Seminary studying the Old Testament, just like we are studying this year in Sunday School.  And in that same year, a movie had just come out called “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.  I remember watching this movie and being so enamored with the hero deciphering clues on his quest to find the Holy Grail.  One part in particular that impressed me was the point in the movie where Indiana Jones is expected to traverse this wide chasm.  He is told in his journal that “Only in the leap from the lion's head will he prove his worth."  This meant that he had to make a “leap of faith” in order to pass this trial.
I remember wishing that there were more stories like that found in the scriptures.  Certainly if the Lord wanted us to understand such an important principle of the Gospel, he would have some cool scriptural stories that would help me to better appreciate and understand the principle of faith.  Well, that the very next week in Seminary class, our teacher shared with us the story in Joshua 1 of the crossing of the Ark of Covenant in the River Jordan.  In this story there were individuals, that would bear the Ark of the Covenant, being told by the Prophet Joshua that the soles of their feet had to touch the River Jordan before they would find that they were standing upon solid ground.  We are talking about a mighty river that could have easily washed them all away.  What a tremendous “leap of faith”!  They no longer had the luxury of seeing the way mapped out before them like with the parting of the Red Sea by Moses.  At this point in their spiritual maturity, the Lord was expecting them to “step” without being able to see the outcome ahead of time.
And then I remembered the next year, I heard my absolute favorite story from the New Testament taught in Seminary.  The story about Peter walking on the water with Christ as found in Matthew 14.  Here was a disciple of Christ whose faith was growing and had prepared him to experience an amazing miracle.  He tells the Lord that if it is indeed Him, then by His simple invitation Peter could join him on the water.  The Lord invites him to walk out to him and Peter does indeed walk on the water.  However, as the water starts to lap at his ankles and legs, and the reality of what he is doing starts to impress on his mortal mind the impossibility of the feat, Peter begins to fear.  During this moment of fear, he begins to sink and is subsequently rescued by the Lord.  But the greatest principle taught in this lesson is that it is the faith of Peter that allows him to walk on water.  It is not the Lord’s faith and power that facilitated the miracle, or else it would not have failed when Peter feared.  There is great power in the “pattern of righteousness” that is Faith, and our children need to understand this.  And with that, they also need to understand the passion with which we believe this.  Do we really believe that Faith can move mountains?  The Lord tells us that it can.  Do we really believe that Faith can allow us to behold the finger of the Lord, and subsequently His whole body, as it did with the Brother of Jared?  And if we do believe these things, do our children understand the level of passion to which we believe in this First Principle of the Gospel.  If they don’t, then they need to.
When I first became a parent, I wanted to teach my children everything that they needed to do to become like me.  But I wanted to do it by dictating the choices that my children made to them.  As a father, couldn’t I just command it to be a certain way and they had to obey.  Then they would never deter from the path, and they would enjoy all of the blessings that they could obtain.
Thanks to a very loving and far smarter partner in this parenting pursuit, my wife quickly helped me to see that I was simply seeking the role of Lucifer in the lives of our children.  I wanted to take away their free agency, but get them to the exaltation that I perceived to be so important in the lives of my children.  My wife taught me that having free agency didn’t mean that they had to have a full menu of choices, but they did need a choice.  She suggested that our children could choose when they went to bed each night.  I thought this was ridiculous, because who would choose to go to bed early.  Here is how my wife would structure the choices, however.  Would you like to go to bed NOW or in 5 MINUTES?  Wouldn’t you know that our children ALWAYS chose to go to bed in 5 minutes.  Shocking, right?  But do you know how much easier it was for us to put our children to bed just 5 minutes later.  Why do you suppose it was so easy?  Because they felt that they had participated in the decision and they were not doing something that they were simply told to do.
Other examples of where our children are able to exercise their agency.  My wife will typically give them a choice of outfits to wear when they are younger.  My wife structures their choices to be two adorable and cute outfits that she would be happy to see them in, either way.  But the toddlers feel that they get to have more choice in the matter of what they wear.  As they get older, they get greater freedom in their agency by picking out their outfit from the full array of clothing that we have purchased for them.  But still, these are “patterns of righteousness” that we are inviting them to practice each day.
And here is where the 2nd P that Elder Anderson talked about comes into play; persistence.  We have to be persistent in our use of the tool of agency.  There might be times when our children resist the choice that they made.  Now that 5 minutes has come and gone, they will now ask for another 5 minutes.  Sure it might be easier to not have to deal with the “gnashing of teeth and the kicking against the pricks”, but we need to help them to stand firm in the decisions that they have made.  There might also be times that we want to swoop in and save them from the dire consequences of their decisions.  Sure, it would make their lives easier if we did their dishes for them so that they can go out with friends to that special event that they have waited weeks to attend.  But I promise you, that it is the hard lessons that often are learned at a deeper level.  I am sure, that on the same level, our Heavenly Father would love to save us from the mortality of our decisions too.  But he doesn’t, and likewise, our children need to learn that there are consequences, both good and bad, that come with the practicing of our free agency.
Holy Ghost
How amazing is the Holy Ghost?  One of my favorite Scripture Mastery scriptures is found in John 14: 26.  In this chapter, the Lord is teaching his Apostles in the Upper Room.  He has just finished washing and anointing their feet, and begins again to teach them.  He says, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”  So is the Holy Ghost going to teach us just a few things?  No, he will teach us ALL things!  Is he going to help us to remember a couple of things?  NOPE.  He will bring ALL things to our remembrance.  Isn’t that amazing?  I know we have yearned for this many times right before a tough test at school.  “Please Heavenly Father.  If you will help me do well on this test, I won’t hit my brothers anymore, and I will read my scriptures every day….”
But this is exactly what the Holy Ghost will do!  But this can only happen if we are living a life that allows him to remain with us as a constant companion.  I am sure that we teach our children that once they are baptized, they are able to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  But this is a Gift that is conditioned upon our continual worthiness and upon the sanctification of our vessels.
And here is the great principle of this “pattern of righteousness” that we need to teach to our children.  We are going to make mistakes and do things that are going to drive the Holy Ghost out of our lives.  That is the natural man, and while it is the enemy of God, it is also an important aspect of who we are as mortal souls.  Since the Holy Ghost cannot abide an unclean tabernacle, it must leave.  But the amazing thing about the Holy Ghost is that it also has an ability to sanctify our vessels and make them clean again.  As we make changes in our lives to repent of our mistakes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we are able to receive a sanctification of our bodies by the Gift and Power of the Holy Ghost, even unto a renewing of our bodies (as spoken of in the 84th section of the Doctrine & Covenants).  Our children need to understand this important principle because it is the essence of our mortal life here on Earth.
And I think that this is where the 3rd P that Elder Anderson taught us about has a tremendous role; patience.  We need to exercise patience in the application of this principle in our lives and in our teaching with our children.  We need to help them understand that patience has to be exercised in the use of the Holy Ghost in their life.  Sure, we might want an answer to our prayers that very moment when we first ask for it, but the answer may not come for days, weeks, months or years.  It is only as we patiently listen for the promptings of the Spirit, that we will be able to discern its directions when it does come.  This same patience must be endured during the sanctification stage as well.  Depending on the degree of sin that drove the Holy Ghost away, the Spirit may not be able to simply return immediately following the statement “I am sorry”.  Instead, it may very well be a constant striving that occurs over the course of many days, weeks or months that will allow the proper sanctification of our souls and the full return of the Gift and Power of the Holy Ghost.

Monday, August 25, 2014

And it begins!!

I'm usually thrilled to send my boys off to school, but this year it seemed summer was just too short. I am happy that school has started and new adventures for the boys will too. As I'm sitting here blogging, Preston is still sleeping (9:30am) and Nathan is sitting at the bar drawing and eating cereal. It's SO quiet. I will be able to get my long to-do list accomplished...finally!! 

Last night, the boys gathered their new outfits together and loaded their backpacks with school supplies. We made teacher gifts and their lunches. Then we talked as a family about the upcoming year and each of their goals. Scott was also able to give each son a blessing, and we ended the night with a huge feast dinner (steak, potatoes, corn on the cob and watermelon with a brownie sundae dessert).  We capped it all off with family prayer and a family hug. 

Will is 14, starting at Olympus High School in the 10th grade. 
Jackson is 12 and starting his 8th grade at Evergreen Jr. High.
Tyler is 10 and heading to the 6th grade at Rosecrest Elementary.
Gavin is 8 and in the 3rd grade at Rosecrest Elementary.
Brigham is 6 and starting the 1st grade at Rosecrest Elementary.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Color Run

Yesterday was a super busy day with football season starting for three of the boys, but we managed to squeeze in a colorful and fun 5k before the madness began!  Our family has participated in the Color Run several times, and we've loved it every time. Only Will, Brigham and I were able to participate in yesterday's fun race. Here are some highlights...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sweep the Earth

I heard the most amazing, powerful talk this afternoon at BYU Education Week by Elder Bednar. Wow. It was a poignant talk directing members of the church to use the internet and social media as often as we can in a positive and uplifting way, to sweep the earth as with a flood. We need to share the goodness. 

Elder Bednar spoke on four main points that all LDS members should remember as we immerse ourselves in the social media world. 

1. Be authentic (trustworthy) and consistent. 
2. Edify and uplift. Be courageous and bold, but not overbearing. 
3. Respect intellectual property. and recently opened a media library filled with usable quotes, pictures and videos that we can use. 
4. Be wise and Vigilant. Protect yourself and your family. 

"What has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation

 communicating gospel messages through social media 

channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now

 extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into 

a flood. 

Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep 

the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth

—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—

and literally sweep the earth as with a flood."

While sharing bits of our faith and testimonies with other members of the church "we can sweep the earth as with a flood" that edify and uplift other people around the world. Always aware of the possibilities and pitfalls of the use of the internet and social media sites. Doesn't this get you excited! Doesn't this motivate you to do more, to be better!

I'm on Facebook, Twitter Pinterest and Instagram. I try never to be negative about anything (I have broken this rule once or twice in the past 8 years...). I hardly ever speak on my religious views, if I do I'm re-posting/re tweeting/blogging about something else someone said. This talk has lit a fire over my bum to use these great media sites and share my thoughts, feelings and testimony.  "The Doors to the world are literally opened wide" for all of us to take advantage of. Quoting Elder M. Russell Ballard, "digital technologies should be servants not masters."

Remember at Easter time when the LDS church put out the video "Because of Him" and all of a sudden social media was filled with #BecauseOfHim hash tags with added testimonials and pictures?  It was awesome. A little earlier than that the church posted out there #DidYouThinkToPray with pictures that all started with "I pray when..." That too was incredibly powerful. 

All the brethren have a Facebook account, did you know that? Elder Ballard, Elder Holland and Elder Bednar are all on Twitter. How cool is that! Add these brethren to your accounts so you can often see uplifting, inspirational updates from them. 

The talk in its entirety has not yet been published in a video form, but you can read his talk HERE

“Try to imagine the impact we can have as hundreds of thousands and millions of members of the Lord’s restored Church contribute in seemingly small ways to the rising floodwaters. May our many small, individual efforts produce a rainfall of righteousness and truth that gradually swells a multitude of streams and rivers —and ultimately becomes a flood that sweeps the earth.”

I challenge each and everyone of you to take Elder Bednar's message to heart and add your water to make the flood stronger. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Santa Barbara Reunion

A couple months ago Michelle, Steve, Robin and I were all talking together about how great it is that so many families from Santa Barbara are now living in Utah. We thought it would be a great idea to plan a SB we did! 

Yesterday we met at Creekside Park in Alpine. The park was very fun, and central for so many families. There are several playgrounds, a splash pad, basketball courts, tennis courts, a volleyball court, tons of grass to play Frisbee and lacrosse and sidewalks for bikes and scooters. 
We BBQ'ed meat, ate chips and cookies and drank soda pop. Steve lead an epic game of Crazy Ball. It was so fun!

It was so wonderful to see so many great people from Santa Barbara again. I remember most of these people as 14, 15 and 16 years olds, so it was pretty strange when they brought along their spouses and children! Here are a few pictures of the fun event.