Monday, December 11, 2017

Sam Shovel the Private Nose

I'm posting this here because it was so hard to find.  My father used to read this to us as Scouts. Not really specific to anything in the blog other than I wanted a place to put it, and it's a reminder of my dad, you go:

You've all heard of Sam Spade, private eye, well my name is Sam Shovel, Private nose.

The other day as I climbed out of the chandlers, you see I'm a light sleeper, I went to my private office, opened my private door, went in and sat behind my private desk, and my private secretary came in and poured murine all over my private eye. I picked up the phone, you see it was ringing. Right away I could tell the girl on the other end was desprate for money. She kept saying deposit 35 cents please! Then she said Dirty dealing dan dugan from dry gultch ditch. This was a case for the fashicious fumagnation of the organization of the screwball dignatails.

I needed a drink. I reached on the shelf and took down the bottle, took the cap off and drank it down. It made me feel blue, I looked again, it was a bottle of ink. I knew dirty dealing dan when I was a fighter.

We boxed chocolates together in a candy factory. Just then a tall beautiful blond walked past my window. How did I know she was tall? My office is on the second floor. She had long beautiful, blond hair all down her back. She had to have it someplace. There wasn't any on her head. There must have been something extremely fascinating about her left eye, the right one kept looking at it. Her teeth reminded me of summer, sum'er here and sum'er there. They also reminded me of sparkling water, one down and seven up.

Right away I knew she was the girl I had to follow. I left the office and as I reached the street I heard the sound of breaking glass behind me, you see I had forgotten to open the door. Never-the-less I hailed a cab. The driver got behind the wheel and 10, 20, 30, 40 times he tried to start the car. But soon we were on our way. I directed him to the last chance saloon.

As we reached our destination I went up to the bar tender and asked "Sir have you seen a man eight feet tall, green hair, fifteen fingers and a pinball machine strapped to his back?" "No " he answered, but is there anything peculiar about him? Yes I replied, the pinball machine was tilted. Look up the stairs he said. So I did, one, two, three, four, flights of stairs. My nose started to bleed, because of the altitude. I went to the door and knocked. The door opened and there was that same beautiful blond. She had a gun in her left hand, and a gun in her right hand, with a knife between her teeth. Right away I could tell something was holding her back. Oh yes her garter was caught on the door knob, but she snapped out of it. Then she kissed me. Boy what a cut up. You see she still had the knife between her teeth. I said Look baby, I came here looking for clues.

Well, she said look in the clues closet. And so I did and there was dirty dealing dan dugan. Quick, Quick, she cried, shoot him with your forty-four. I didn't have a forty-four, so I shot him twice with a twenty-two. This goes to prove that Sam Shovel always gets his man.

The Patriarchy (Link)

This is a link to an excellent article on the Patriarchal Order.

It's not my writing, but I think it highlights a lot of things that are worth considering about men, women, priesthood, the family and current attempts to destroy it.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Kill the Killer's Brother

If someone commits a crime, who gets punished?

The offender!

A murderer kills?  His life is taken.  No one elses'.

Even the scriptures say this:

11 Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay.
12 But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered; (Alma 34).

And yet....we sin, we kill, we transgress, and who is put to death for it?

The one man who did nothing wrong.

My older brother, eternally, actually.

We talk about a perfectly just God, the Eternal Father, yet where is the justice in selecting someone completely and totally innocent out of the crowd - who did nothing - and making him pay - having him pay - for everyone else? 

Only God Himself could do such a maneuver with eternal justice and have it be just.  And then call it mercy, and have it be so.

Nobody else can shed their own blood and have it count the way his did.  Do what you will with your blood, shed it as you like - it won't do any good the way his does and did.

I find there are some things I can't put words to, but this is just a thought from my Elder's Quorum lesson that I had put together today. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Blessings of Formal Prayer & Small Acts of Obedience

As  a missionary I think I counted that we would - at minimum - pray about 15 times per day if it was just a regular day.

With all the praying we did, at the time, I didn't see anything special about the morning right-after-I-tumbled-out-of-bed prayer or the just-before-I-got-into-bed prayer because I spent so much time praying through the course of the day!  Nevertheless, this was a habit we kept up through our mission.

Missions end and life goes on....I haven't ever lived, or been able to live, the life of a missionary with all it's opportunities for staying so close to the Lord as I could and did then.

Keeping a prayer in my heart always is not a problem.  I pray while I commute, and am constantly checking in with the Lord about nearly every little thing.

But that formal nighttime and morning time prayer?  Setting things aside and trusting things to be okay while I kneel in prayer? 

I've only recently begun to discover the blessings of them. I once asked Father how I was doing in my personal prayers.  I got the impression that my prayers were more like someone running into the DMV and throwing a stack of papers on the desk for them to figure out before running out and hating the crowd for their inconvenience of even having to be there.

As I've slowed down in my personal prayers, I've found: 

1) They give purpose.  I'm quite scatterbrained.  But taking the time to enumerate and inventory my life gives me a chance to take stock of what I'm doing in life, whether I'm being effective or not.  It gives me the chance to see myself in the context of looking back over an entire day at nighttime, and to prepare for a day in the morning.

2) It helps to take the time to see the blessings of the day that have happened, as well as to consciously ask for them before the day begins.   Gratitude is an immense source of peace.  In a difficult life, being able to see the blessings of the day and say "Thank you" for them is such a blessing and again brings so much peace!

3) It helps me find my priorities.  I remember the prophets praying for their children.  When I take the time to pray for my children, their struggles, their needs and wants, and our family, it helps me to become a better father.  Rather than simply reacting to my children in the daytime, I have the chance to kneel and ask for their blessings and know how good I'm doing with them, what I need to do better, and what's going on with them.  Sometimes it breaks my heart to hear the things I fall short in as a father, but it's also things that I know my fathers never knew or had access to without the gospel gifts and knowledge that I have received and acquired.

I've marveled and wondered how some of my blessings I've heard will ever come to pass.  As I fasted this last Sabbath, I was pondering while general conference was being replayed on the television.  The answer came while fasting and listening and looking for revelation - simple obedience to the small things. You keep doing those, you will see them build great big things, and miracles come to follow.

Fast monthly.
Pay a fast offering.
Pay a full tithe.
Say formal prayer.
Scripture study as a family regularly.
Pray as a family regularly.
Pray as a couple regularly.
Read scriptures by yourself.
Attend your meetings.

All of these are the things that the Apostles and Prophets have done.  If you wish to be like the greats, do the things they greats do.  We can go off in search of some quest for some great thing to do as King Naaman was minded to do.  Or, we can simply do the little things and slow down and let the Lord do His work through us as we are faithful, bit by bit.

Take the time to be blessed - go see your Father and talk to him as well as listen without just dumping a pile of requests on his desk and go running out.   Be involved in your own life alongside heaven.  Get to know the Boss and work on that promotion between worlds to become like the Boss by doing the things he says to do.  Be happy in obedience through the small things, and then the great things - including returning to his presence - will come to pass as surely as the sun rises.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Spiritual Decoy Operations

Not all misleading voices in this world are specifically enticing us to do something wrong.

Many - perhaps most - of the voices in our world entice us to join some good cause!

But...are those causes what the Lord would have us do?

Here's where we have to judge carefully.

I honestly might simply say that if it's not the gospel of Jesus's a distraction in this world.

Let me give an example.

Political party this or that, rah rah our side our side, hooray hooray!  Boo on that side!  Huzza for this side!  THIS side has the truth!  Let's put all our energy into defeating that side! 


I try not to put too much faith in man-made institutions or philosophies.   The Nephites were very much focused on their side and still lost because they forgot the Lord.  Heck, we can be like the people of Coriantumr and Shiz, spend all our time gathering everyone we can to this side or that and then all perish in a massive slaughter of side-agains-side with no victor or priesthood to save our souls.

In the end...politics aren't going to save us.

Political philosphies aren't going to save us.

And whatever spiritual principles are in them, they existed before the parties ever did - truth and principles are eternal.

28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

29 But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9)


We need to beware of those who set themselves up as a light to the world but who really lead us away from the gospel.

I'm always wary of the politics that don't leave room for Christ or worry about religion dividing people in the cause....  He is the inspiration for it all.

But in the end, there are decoy operations of the adversary.   For example, conspiracies about this or that historical event where people insist the government was part of this, or that people were actually a part of that...what's the truth???!!!

Looks real enough....but look closely....
Is there darkness in the world?

....Does a chicken have a beak?

So can I expect to be given the full truth about these conspiracies? 

Probably not.

But let's say I *DID* find the truth in a conspiracy....

If the world lies in darkness and ignores the principles and truths of the gospel eternally....what good will it do?

I can spend my energy on a conspiracy, find the truth, and yet...not have the truth.  And another conspiracy will happen for the lack of the truth. 

And that is just as much an effort of the adversary to get me focused on the search for truth and to ignore the most critical truths there are - and waste my priesthood and time and energy in something that won't profit me eternally - a decoy spiritual operation. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

We don't get to say goodbye as much....the loss of a child....

The day after Thanksgiving, my former home teaching companion's youngest son was killed in a 4-wheeler accident while the 8 year old was driving.

That's how it is on the farms out here.

But by the time big brother got 1/2 mile to the house and dad got back, his son was dead in an irrigation ditch, the day after thanksgiving.

My heart broke for this family.

I knew the little boy - not that well but had seen him a lot and he was close to my daughter in primary.

Today we had the funeral for him.

Somehow I ended up in the close friends and family section up front with my children.

I've not been all that "close" to mormonism in the church mostly because we don't make it to sacrament with my wife's health being ill.   I pass it at home but we make it to class.

So today as family thanked me for showing up - I was surprised they knew who I was.

Not to make a funeral about me but I don't feel like I belong here much - I'm not "in" - I'm not one of the "family" here.

And yet they cried and thanked me for coming.

They said they felt our prayers.

There's not much more I can do.

We followed the entourage up to the cemetery.  His coffin was small - small enough for a four year old.  Quite ornate but still small.

As we gathered around I felt like a stranger - voyeuristic on their grief - as I watched them move the coffin to the grave site.

Tears filled my eyes and heart as his mother spoke.  I looked at the grave where his coffin will be placed....was placed....and knowing that mom and dad would be there over the next several days and weeks saying goodbye.  His cold little child's body laid to rest there, put into the ground....a note of finality to it all - this is actually happening....and there's no going back.

It's not a dream and you won't wake up from it....except when you sleep...

His father spoke of wishing at one point that his son had never been born so he wouldn't have felt the grief he felt...but realized where those thoughts came from in his anguish...

His uncle dedicated the grave by the priesthood and I felt  the blessings of heaven upon it.

One last thanksgiving....but no new birthday....

Dad stumbled around - the counselor in me could see what was behind everything as he tried to smile and shake hands but gosh....even with the plan of salvation and all we know, saying goodbye through the veil is hard....

I have a testimony of the gospel....but not the church....

Today I saw a ward come together and I've never seen that before...never understood it....never felt a part of it...never needed it until recently...and today they needed us....

Their son - I won't name him here - is alive and well.  He's doing missionary work through the veil. 

But never even the chance to say goodbye....and the last view of him pinned....

Today was touching and hard at the same time.

In closing, his grandfather made the comment that there are "accidents" in this life - they seem like accidents - but this is all a part of a plan eternally.  There aren't "accidents" where God is concerned.

He completed his mission here - however short.

Thousands - literally - had been hugged by him.

The chapel was completely packed full and overflowing....

And now...all that knowledge, with a bunch of empty rooms he used to play in, left over clothing, toys, and a million other memories to sort and put in place and deal with day to day.

And we wait - to say hello again - and we so often get to say hello....but goodbyes?  Not as much. 

They asked us to not focus on loss right now but to focus on that it isn't a loss.

My troubles today seem trivial but I am going to agree with all that and try to do it at home.

Love my children, played board games with them today - got a burger - and just....enjoyed being home for now.  Sealed.  My wife is here.  All is well for today - I'll count the blessings.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Chewed Piece of Gum and Licked Cupcake: Shame and Fear Based Relationship and Chastity Approaches

Perhaps you've heard the saying in mormondom about girls ending up as a "licked cupcake" that nobody's going to want in regards to them if they lose their virginity before marriage - i.e. someone licked the cupcake before its intended recipient, and who is going to want to eat it?  EW!

Or the "chewed piece of gum" analogy where the seminary teacher asks the kids to chew a piece of gum and then pass it around the room until everyone's had it, and when everyone then goes "EW!" compares the chewed piece of gum to their sexual purity: once it's been used, nobody is going to want it.

Or heard of youth, in an attempt to avoid the "actual" breaking of the law of chastity, and to avoid the stigma of now being "used", engaging in other sexual activities instead.  

The analogies, while poignant, completely overlook the atonement and the reality of the missionary work and world that we live in.  Telling a girl - or a boy - that they are now a licked cupcake, and nobody is going to want them because of a mistake, isn't going to help them in their relationship with the Savior or with others.

Many a teen has thought, "Well, I'm no good now, might as well go be what I am completely..." and decide to  just abandon spirituality together and leave the church after such a mistake.  They often receive the message "Well, you're mormon so you should have known better!"  thereby adding the message that not only are they no good, they are stupid.

Obviously we don't want to be transgressing the laws of heavenly father for numerous reasons.  But the reality is that we make mistakes for a host of reasons too numerous to list here.  And viewing ourselves or others permanently as licked cupcakes or chewed gum isn't going to help anybody recover from a mistake and achieve exaltation.

This is a missionary church, adding hundreds of thousands of members annually who haven't ever heard of or lived the gospel standards, let alone been in a covenant to keep the commandments - we want them to have faith in the atonement, such a message is inconsistent with everything we send our missionaries out to teach. 

Further, with divorces, creating a stigma against women and men who have had other partners as "used" or "damaged" isn't going to help families at all or make people feel loved or wanted and runs completely counter to the Lord's purposes through the temple and in eternity.

Sexual abuse, victim's seeing themselves as "used" and "damaged goods"because of someone else's actions isn't going to help them heal either.  I don't think that's what's being said in such lessons and comparisons, but that's what many a victim has heard with them.

Continuing still, the pressure on parents to not have wayward children within a religiously conservative community can create devastating circumstances for children who may find themselves disowned from the church and their families over a mistake - cut off from the very support that can bring them back to life.

Trying to recover from life's difficulties or choices only become more difficult when we are dealing with an institutional or cultural and even religious sense of shame and worthlessness..  As a counselor, I find more tragedies from people trying to cover up low self-esteem, shame, and guilt, than almost anything else I work with - it is almost always at the root of all I deal with in counseling.  As children of a royal heritage, sons and daughters of the King of the universe, shame and guilt and fear are debilitating weapons...which is why they are so often chosen to be employed against us.

That's not to say that we shouldn't experience remorse when we are repenting even on a weekly basis, but shame and guilt are and can be sham substitutions for spiritual humility and contrition.

I love the statement from Joe Pesci in "With Honors" (1994) where as an enlightened bum he comments, "When it comes to relationships, everyone's a used car salesman."  We are all in the same boat eternally.  Even Paul noted that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  Whether it be this sin, or that, all need to be repented of before we return, and all of us stand condemned if we don't for any and all sins.....But if we're looking at ourselves or others as chewed pieces of bubblegum and licked cupcakes who can never be redeemed, we've entirely set at naught everything Jesus lived and died for.

Additionally, I've seen the value and strength that those previously married and who have lived hard lives bring to their new relationships, because they can appreciate some things better than those who are fresh out of highschool with no troubles under their belts, and they bring additional strengths.  I think this is part of the reason Father sent us down here so we can bring some of those experiences back with us.  

We can be washed clean, we can be forgiven, we can use our experiences and knowledge to teach others and warn others, or even speak out against the seductive lies of the adversary.  When I was a missionary, I remember teaching a man who was actually cross-dressed at the time we met him.  My companion was skeptical of any such success with him and didn't want to spend any time on him - an understandable line of thinking, I think, but I'm not sure it's always inspired when we consider that Christ even spent his time with all those who were considered unclean by the law.  My thinking was, we get this guy on board, do you know the damage he can help us do to the satanic causes that undermine the gospel in the name of "tolerance and diversity" while teaching hellish, man-made doctrines? This guy  This is exactly the guy we are looking for!  This guy has been on the other side, and nobody can say he doesn't know what he's talking about!  Let's bring him over!

I listened to a single mom once in fast and testimony give a very poignant reminder to the young women not to make the mistakes she had made and that had affected her life so significantly - that day I found myself inspired because she was giving a testimony and a voice of experience that only she could give - a successful bishop and married husband couldn't warn with the same credibility she did - and that day I was very, very thankful for her for the clarity she gave, and I remember it still. 

And while we don't want to fall any more than we have to, and once commited, we can't "un-commit" a sin - that reality has hit me more than a few times in my life - we mustn't underestimate the ability of the Lord to redeem and restore us. Once fully repented of, we are clean before the Lord, and our experiences - if we let them - can serve as lessons and reminders for us of the importance of keeping the commandments.

Personally, I've been terrified of the judgement bar of God, ashamed to think of my sins and flaws being shown forth - however they are shown - in whatever vivid detail may come and been more focused on those than others' sins around me.  But as my testimony of the Lord has grown, as well as my faith in the atonement, I've heard them whisper through the veil that the judgement is going to be a wonderful day for me, and a time of their rejoicing when I come back to them. 

To offset "the parable of the chewed gum", or the "parable of the licked cupcake" - I will recall - the parable of The Touch of the Master's Hand - where a battered and used violin was looked over by everyone at an auction, until the Master Violinist picked it up and demonstrated what it was truly capable of. 

Rather than thinking we are worthless because of our sins, or that we are going to be if we make a mistake, in the end we need to focus on the atonement and know our worth and our potential if we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and progress back to father.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Capacity of a Spoiled Child - Plan B

Before the world was, we all know there were two plans put forth for our eternal growth and progress.

But the more I think about the second one of them, the more I realize just how diabolical it was.

One that hit me recently was by doing everything for us he planned to destroy us!

Have you ever seen a kid whose parents do everything for them?  It destroys them!  It doesn't challenge them or let them grow or find out what they are capable of.  They never really find their true potential.  They can't!

Oh, it's an alluring promise of security and safety and ease!  But in terms of destroying godly potential and eternal growth....there's nothing more destructive than doing everything for someone.

We'd have been something like this....
Additionally, by taking power over everyone and everything, not only would our skills be diminished, in terms of protecting ourselves, in time we wouldn't be able to defend ourselves or even speak for ourselves.

And then if we displeased him, he could simply withhold the things we need from us, and we'd be powerless to obtain them - we wouldn't have the strength. 

Anyways, it was just realization as to how the notion of giving us everything really isn't as pleasant or wonderful as it sounds.    Nothing fancy, just a thought.