Sunday, October 10, 2010
Friday, October 01, 2010
It’s 3:45 AM. I’m in a hospital downtown Louisville. It’s a hospice hospital. In the room down the floor is a man in my congregation. He is sleeping; his mother is sacked out in a chair next to him. He’s been dying of cancer for about 18 months now. He requested that members of his congregation come be with him.
I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like for him. His oldest son is serving an LDS Church mission in Nevada. He has 4 girls at home.
4:30 AM. Kirk woke up and I’ve joined him. His mother-in-law went home. His life now seems to be mostly a roller-coaster of pain. The ups and downs are dictated by the timing of the pain medication.
He prayed with his mother-in-law before she left. I guess that’s a sign of faith, to be laying there, in pain, and praying for help. I wonder what sort of help God gives to people in his condition. It doesn’t seem that he takes the pain away. Now only drugs are doing that. Does he give you peace? Does he just watch? Maybe the pain and the anxiety are just the table stakes for being here – and you just have to go through it? I don’t know. What do those prayers mean?
Kirk is about my age.
We were talking… He can’t lift his legs any longer. He said the cancer stole his muscles. He showed me his arms – the muscle is all gone. There’s just skin, tendons, and bones. When he was healthy, Kirk could move the world.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
To hike the Narrows, you need a permit. The group size is also limited – to something like 12 people or so. In our hike last Saturday, as I mentioned in an earlier post, me, my dad, and my brother-in-law finished very late. We were part of a larger group – with people on two permits. At the beginning of the hike, we separated into a bunch of smaller groups and, like I said, when I got out, there were just 3 of us. My sister and a friend waited at the end of the trail, so when we left the park, there were 5 of us.
Earlier that evening someone in that earlier group called the park ranger to tell them that we were still in the canyon. So, when we finally got out of the park, there was a ranger waiting for us. We climbed off the shuttle and he came rushing up to us. Not because he was concerned about our well-being, but because he wanted to give us a ticket for being in too large a group.
This guy was a real jerk. First of all, all he had to do was to look and see that there were only 5 of us. And, given that someone else had called much earlier in the day, he could easily deduce that other people had finished much earlier (there’s no cell reception in the narrows). Next thing we know he’s threatening to give us a ticket for being in too large a group (there were only 5 of us so we were way below the limit). In the end, he just wrote a warning.
I’m sure this guy was upset that he was pulled away from his favorite TV show. Instead of caring about the people in the park, we were an annoyance to him.
It’s just another example of the principle I teach my kids: Only in the direst of emergencies do you ever call the police. Once they show up, you don’t know what kind of havoc they’ll cause. They’re just as likely to shoot you as they would an intruder. Call someone you trust. If you’re ever out doing something and you come in contact with the police, don’t talk to them. Don’t say anything.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This past weekend I hiked the Zion Narrows with my sister, brother-in-law, and father. I must first begin by noting – I forgot how stunningly beautiful the entire Zions National Park area is. The Narrows hike is roughly 16 miles. You start in a field with a stream running through it. By the time you’re finished, you’ve hiked through areas where the walls are 800 feet high (or more) and where in some places the canyon walls are no more than 10 feet wide. The rocks are all sorts of colors, from pinks, to reds, to browns, to blacks. You’ll see trees growing out of cracks you’d be hard pressed to cram 2 fingers into. From beginning to end, it’s an amazing experience.
My dad is almost 70 – and as a result, he’s a little slower than most hikers. We started at 8:30 AM and finished at 10:00 PM. I’ve hiked the Narrows twice before. This was the first time I hiked at night. For an hour or so, we had bats flying all around us. They would skim the water and fly right by you. Very cool. After the sun went down, we were able to hike with the moonlight lighting the canyon rim. Ah, what a great time.
I didn’t get a chance this time, but need to visit again and climb Angels Landing. I want to do it with the fam. We’ll have to rope them together for some parts. Can’t have a wee one taking that one big last step.
What a great hike!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
So, If I’m denied an entrance at the pearly gates, I might respond, “Well, can I just go to Fairplay, Colorado then?”
For our family vacation this year, we visited Colorado. We left on Thursday afternoon and drove to Denver. From Louisville, it’s 1100 miles or so. We drove straight through – arriving in Denver around noon. Elane and I were toast, so we just hung out at the Sheraton (south of downtown off I-25) that night. On Saturday, we drove to the Deer Creek area, just west of SW Denver. It was a beautiful. SW Denver is a beautiful area.
Sunday, we attended church somewhere south of the loop and then took Highway 285 to Fariplay. It was nice, headed into the mountains, while everyone else was driving back. We camped in the Fourmile campground just SW of Fariplay. It’s beautiful back there. We were there Sunday through Thursday.
One morning we did a hike up Mt. Sherman (14,125 or so). The entire family started the hike and probably made it to 12,500 or so. Looking at how fast we were burning through water, Elane and the younger ones went back to the car. I continued with the 4 oldest. We made it to the saddle. Then Joshua and I continued to the Summit. I didn’t have a camera with me!!! so there’s no record of the summit. : )
On Thursday, we drove to Dillion and camped there until Saturday. On Friday, Hyrum, Allison and I climbed Quandry Peak (14,265 or so). I was very impressed with how they did. Hyrum was really cruising. Allison did great as well. Quandry is a tough hike. The final push is just a straight climb up a fairly steep slope. Nothing technical, just a grind. On the way down, we came across 4 – 5 mountain goats. At times, they were within 10 feet of Hyrum and Allison. They thought that was the highlight of the hike.
I had several people stop me and ask Hyrum’s age. One guy asked how long he’d been hiking. I looked at my watch and said, “What time is it?” There were a lot of people climbing Quandry that day. I’m envious of the ones for whom this was a day hike.
We ended up camping in Dillon in the same spot we camped last year – site 53, in the campground just off the Dam Road.
Then, there was the drive back… We left Saturday at noon and drove all day. It’s the hardest thing I do, watch the mountains disappear in the background. We drove to somewhere in Kansas and spent the night. Sunday, in the car again, all day. We arrived home at 12:30 in the morning.
The kids were great in the car. They’re packed like sardines in there.
I’m drawn to the mountains. It’s hard to explain. I think there’s something to climbing those big peaks. I think there’s something to my kids being able to say they’ve done it. When you’re climbing that mountain, it’s only you. You can look down from the top and see that you did something impressive. I hope it helps them.
I think a portion of my heart resides in Colorado.
Sunday, August 08, 2010
- Did a beautiful hike in a canyon just west of SW Denver (Deer Creek I think)
- Summited Mt. Sherman with Joshua (Hyrum, Hannah, and Allison made it to the lower saddle)
- Summited Quandry Peak with Allison and Hyrum.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Wednesday night I was returning to Louisville from Phoenix. Two segments: first to Dallas/Fort Worth then to Louisville. On the second segment, I sat next to Kelly from Louisville. She’s a couple of years older than I am. She’s divorced, but engaged with a date in October. We had a great discussion about a wide range of topics. Through that discussion, I learned she is Christian. I took the opportunity to ask her “How did you come to know Jesus?” Here is her answer.
She grew up having her parents drop her off at church (church services served as a babysitter for them). She never was spiritually involved, however, reflecting back, she can think of instances where God was reaching out to her.
Not sure on the age range, but she went her own way and did her own thing. Somehow, she ended up a newlywed living in Australia. One morning, about six months into her marriage, she said “I love you” to her spouse – with no response. She asked further and learned he didn’t love her anymore. In short order, she was kicked out, with no money, no way to get home, and nowhere to go. Neighbors, with an unfinished house (she talked about “3 walls”) took her in. Their generosity got her out of the weather, but it wasn’t a great solution.
She didn’t know what to do. She was very upset. Searching for something to do, she had the thought, “Call a church.” She dialed several numbers and eventually spoke to the wife of a pastor. The wife could tell she was in trouble and immediately insisted that she come pick her up. She did, took Kelly to their home and took care of her. Kelly said that she slept the first 24 hours solid. Anyway, the kind couple gave her enough stability that she could get on her feet.
Somewhere, in the midst of this, her heart was broken and she reached out to God – and felt God’s response. She said that she was the type how needed to hit rock bottom before she would make that move. She described her conversion as happening in two stages (she used terms I don’t recall). The first one was that event while she was in Australia - feeling God's love for her. The second was when she returned to the United States, and was, as I recall, more of an event where she committed herself to God.
Her spouse-to-be sounds like a great guy. October should be a joyous time for them both.
Great story. Thanks Kelly. I wish you the best.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I was on parking assignment.
Just a couple of observations...
As Christians, shouldn't the parking spaces fill up farthest to closest? After all, the ones that arrive earlier have more time to hoof it across the parking lot. I guess though, the reverse would be true for seats in the meeting. The early risers would get the close padded chairs while the ones coming late should get the hard metal chairs in the back (less of a disturbance).
I don't think Jesus would require the closest parking spot be reserved for him. However, why is it that the local leadership have this expectation? Maybe some of us are just a little more equal. :)
Yep - congregational parking, when there's not enough space, that's the test. Wow, can you imagine what things could be like if there were ever a shortage of stuff that really mattered?
Note: sign me up for parking duty anytime. I was able to miss the first half of the meeting because I was guarding the strip mall parking lot. Bonus. :)
As part of the conversation, I asked how she was doing - emotionally. Her response included a reference to faith. I took that as an opportunity to ask how she came to know him. Several themes from her response:
She's always known God has been there and has been shaping her.
I didn't sense any sort of bitterness or blaming.
She's recently nurtured a better relationship with a local congregation and believes this will be important in helping her get through this experience.
I didn't have paper to take notes. I think next time I'll include in my question a request to take notes so I can capture better what I hear.
Monday, February 22, 2010
There’s an early Christian story, probably from the 1st or 2nd century, called the Hymn of the
And with me They [then] made a compact;
In my heart wrote it, not to forget it:
"If thou goest down into
And thence thou bring’st the one
Hard by the loud-breathing Serpent,--
"[Then] shalt Thou put on thy Robe
And thy Mantle that goeth upon it,
"And with thy Brother, Our Second,
Shalt thou be Heir in our Kingdom."
He travels to
His parents who are watching over him know what has happened. They gather the nobles around and craft a letter that they send to him to remind him of who he is and of his sacred mission. The letter reads:
"From Us--King of Kings, thy Father,
And thy Mother, Queen of the Dawn-land,
"And from Our Second, thy Brother--
To thee, Son, down in
"Up and arise from thy sleep,
Give ear to the words of Our Letter!
"Remember that thou art a King’s son;
See whom thou hast served in thy slavedom.
Bethink thyself of the
For which thou didst journey to
"Remember thy Glorious Robe,
Thy Splendid Mantle remember,
"To put on and wear as adornment,
When thy Name may be read in the Book of the Heroes,
"And with Our Successor, thy Brother,
Thou mayest be Heir in Our Kingdom."
I believe, like the young traveler in Egypt, that our Heavenly Father watches over us, sends us messages that remind us who we are, provide support and encouragement, and has given us a means of communicating with him. This means of communicating is prayer – and I’d like to tell some stories about prayer. These are some of my favorite stories, either because I find them comforting or because I don’t understand them and I like pondering on them.
For those of you in school, you know math is challenging. I hate it that already I’ve been stumped by a problem that Joshua has brought home. Learning math requires hard work and dedication to be successful. A friend of mine teaches graduate-level math. In his classes, he will give students a weekly homework assignment with 5 – 10 problems and expect that it will take 10 – 15 hours to complete. He has plenty of office hours when students can come with questions. However, much to their disappointment, he usually doesn’t answer their questions. He gives hints and confirmations.
Sometimes a student may come to the office – stuck – after spending 15 minutes on a problem. He’ll give them a pep talk about the importance of hard work and sends them packing. Other times, a student will show up, obviously having put hours into solving the problem – they’re close but just can’t get it completed. He’ll look at what they’ve done, perhaps draw their attention to one particular part of the problem or point out an error they made. The student, after all her hard work, will have the light-bulb go off, and they’re off to finish the problem. The other condition is when the student has put in a lot of effort but isn’t close. In these instances, he gives tutoring, tells them to work on it and offers to coach them further.
I think God works with us in a similar fashion. He is the perfect teacher and he’s set up this world as a classroom for us to learn. He gives each one of us problems, suited for our own needs; that help us learn what we need to learn. So, we get the problem, or perhaps manufacture one ourselves, and go to him for help – or maybe to ask him fix it. Just like it would be the worst thing for my friend to solve a problem for a student, it really isn’t in our best interest for God to answer our question or take away our problem. I think that often he gives us hints and confirmations and that he expects us to put effort into understanding the problem and to work at the solution. You recall the Lord’s words to Oliver Cowdery:
Behold you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought…(D&C 9:7-9)
I think there are parallels to the story we read of Limhi’s people. Remember that they ignored Abinidi’s words and were later subjected to Lamanite bondage. Three times they fought for their freedom and were beaten back each time. Then we read in Mosiah 21:
And they did humble themselves even to the dust, subjecting themselves to the yoke of bondage, submitting themselves to be smitten, and to be driven to and fro, and burdened, according to the desires of their enemies.
And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions.
And now the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage. (Mosiah 21: 13 – 15)
I think I’ve always read that and thought that God was punishing them. If you look at verse 15, “…because of their iniquities” I can see how I thought that. Maybe, though it’s not punishing them because of their iniquities, but they still needed to learn and throw off their iniquities. Remember the Savior’s words in 3 Nephi,
…how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings. (3 Nephi 10: 6)
I’ve always enjoyed the story of Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah. They were going about their riotous way until the angel appeared with his “Stun-o-meter” set to mild. Remember what the angel said to Alma and the boys:
And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.
And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God. (Mosiah 27:14-15)
I find it interesting that the angel acknowledges the reason why he was sent – the prayers of Alma and the people.
Speaking of the prayers of parents, Elder Packer shared this story in a talk this past October:
Elder Graham W. Doxey, who once served in the Second Quorum of the Seventy, told me of an experience…
During World War II, he was in the navy posted to
Later they boarded a train to return to their base, but after more than an hour, the train turned north. They were on the wrong train! They spoke no Chinese. They pulled the emergency cord and stopped the train. They were put off somewhere in the countryside with nothing to do but walk back to the city.
After walking for some time, they found a small pump-handle car, the kind that the railroad workers use. They set it in the rails and began to pump their way along the tracks. It would coast downhill, but it had to be pushed uphill.
As they came to one steep downhill slope, they scrambled aboard the car and began to coast. Graham was the last to get aboard. The only place left for him was in the front of the car. He ran alongside and finally climbed aboard. As he did so, he slipped and fell. He was bouncing on his back with his feet against the car to keep from being run over. As the car quickly gained speed, he heard his mother’s voice say, “Bud, you be careful!”
He wore heavy military boots. His foot slipped, and the thick sole of his boot caught in a gear of a wheel and stopped the car just one foot (30 cm) from his hand.
His mother sat up at about in the morning and awakened her husband: “Bud’s in trouble!” They knelt by the bed and prayed for the safety of their boy.
The next letter he received said, “Bud, what’s wrong? What happened to you?”
He then wrote to tell them what had happened. When they compared times, at the very time he was bouncing along that track, his parents were on their knees in the hotel room half a world away, praying for his safety.
These experiences of prompting and prayer are not uncommon in the Church. They are part of the revelation our Heavenly Father has provided for us.
I like this story because I don’t understand it. I bet that Bud’s parents said a prayer for him before retiring to bed that evening. I don’t understand why they needed to say a prayer “at that exact time.” I shared a draft of my talk with my family last night. Elane shared an example that occurred with her and her parents and said that her mom has told her that this has happened on more than one occasion with several of her siblings. This, is, of course, bad news for my kids. I’m not great at getting up – so their date ending time has now been set for when I go to bed – even when they go to college.
When I was younger we lived in
I don’t have too many stories like this in my collection – of a dead ancestor speaking. I sometimes wonder if there might be more to this linking of generations that happens in the temple than we realize. Again while, preparing this talk, Elane told me that her great grandfather, who died soon after WWI due to an injury he suffered in that war, would regularly provide guidance to her great grandmother and helped her get through the depression of the 30s.
While at BYU, I would regularly ride my bike up
The story Sister Mari Com shared in her testimony the other week I’ve added to my collection of stories. I found her prayer and attitude about her cancer very inspiring. As I recall, her attitude in prayer was very much one of recognizing that God has the power to heal her. If He did so, she would continue her work here. If he did not, she would meet Him on the other side of the veil. I believe that attitude well internalizes the phrase, “Not my will but thine be done.”
I think sometimes we earnestly pray for things that simply aren’t God’s will. We exercise faith and ask, but we are praying for something that just isn’t to be – in what is, with our earth-bound perspective, a very difficult time. I believe often God answers prayers not necessarily by changing the outcome, but by speaking comfort to our souls and showing that his hand is guiding the events.
In December, my friend Jeff’s dad died after a long illness. He had a tough struggle but the end came quickly. Jeff drove to
Jeff’s dad had a strained relationship with his other son. While Jeff was there, his dad and brother spent a day together in the hospital just watching TV. Later that day, Jeff said to his dad, “Dad, your going to die soon. You need to use this time to connect with those around you. Don’t let this time go to waste.” The following day, his dad spent the entire day with his wife and son in earnest conversation. That was the last time he was lucid.
As Jeff’s dad’s condition worsened, family members took turns by his side. Jeff was there, watching a movie on his laptop. He felt to look over at his dad and saw him struggling for his last breaths. He called in his mom and she was able to be there as her husband died. The outcome didn’t change, but two events happened where
So, back to the story of the young hero in
I clothed me therewith, and ascended
To the Gate of Greeting and Homage.
I bowed my head and did homage
To the Glory of Him who had sent it,
Whose commands I [now] had accomplished,
And who had, too, done what He’d promised.
[And there] at the Gate of His House-sons
I mingled myself with His Princes;
For He had received me with gladness,
And I was with Him in His Kingdom;Brothers and sisters, may we always remember that our Heavenly Father loves us, that his interest for us is eternal life. I believe answers to prayer are all around us. I believe that with prayer we need to remember that we’re here to learn. Brothers and Sisters, we aren’t mere mortals. We came here trailing clouds of glory and we have our royal robes waiting for us at the end of this journey.
 Welch, J. and Garrison, J. (n.d.) “The ‘Hymn of the
 Mead, G. R. S. (1908). “The Hymn of the Robe of Glory.” In Echoes from the Gnosis. Downloaded
Saturday, January 23, 2010
So, earlier this week I'm riding along and this guy drives by yelling foul words at me. A minute later I'm passing him. I couldn't let the opportunity pass. I stopped and lightly rapped on the window. A stream of profanity issued forth.
I'm thinking, "What do I say to this?" At the first break I said, "Are you a Christian?"
He replied, "What does that have to do with it?" I said, "Simple question, yes or no." He answered with another stream of profanity. As he rolled up his window I said, "I guess that answers my question." Now, I don't know know that he thought a second about what I said - it doesn't really matter.
What matters to me is that I was good throughout. No anger. Nothing. Just looking for an opportunity to help my fellow man.
Monday, January 11, 2010
I don't think it got as cold as forecasted. Usually when I've done this, there's a layer of ice in the bivy - wasn't there last night.
I have on my list of things to do
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Saturday, January 09, 2010
My setup: bivy bag with air pad and sleeping bag inside. This year I've done something new. I boiled water, put it in my water bottle, and placed it down by my toes. Right now, I've been out about 15 minutes and I'm too hot! I'm sure that will change as the water bottle cools.
I've been asked to give a talk in my congregational meeting next month. The topic is 'prayer and promptings'. A good topic for me to study, but not one where I feel I have a lot to offer - as far as insight to share with the congregation. Hopefully I'll do no harm.
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