Saturday, September 29, 2007

A noble trait

Last Sunday, I taught a lesson on gratitude to the young men in our church. The lesson included a discussion on the story of the ten lepers and how only one of the healed ten returned to thank the Lord. After the lesson while the young men and other leaders were filing out of the room, one of the leaders stopped and thanked me for the lesson. As we talked, it occurred to us that out of all the people in the class (about 10 people total), he was the only one who said thank you. We had a little chuckle at the time, but the more I thought about that experience, it made me realize even more just how true the scriptures really are!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Presidential pressure

Our poor president. His opponents have called the war "...a most bloody and costly failure." As one foe put it, "Defeat, debt, taxation, sepulchers--these are your trophies." However, the poor president I speak of isn't President Bush. These comments are not about the war in Iraq. They are descriptions of the Civil War and then President Abraham Lincoln, made by Lincoln's contemporaries.

Some said that Lincoln had converted the government into despotism, all for that most ignoble cause--abolition. There were those who even called for President Lincoln's imprisonment. Tired of the growing body count, they wanted to end the war, even if it meant continued slavery. They believed that Lincoln had consistently acted unconstitutionally in conducting the war.

Sound familiar? And if you think President Bush has overstepped his bounds, think of this: Lincoln put into motion the arrest of hundreds of Southern sympathizers across the North, including newspaper editors. Let the White House press corps chew on that one for a whiles.

Whatever the similarities and differences between these two presidents, it seems evident that both of them have been motivated by a firm belief that their actions were not only justified, but imperative. When I hear about Lincoln's firm resolve regarding the preservation of the Union, it amazes me to think about how easy it would have been in the years since for other countries to overthrow a loosely-formed confederation of states that were not joined in such a solid union.

What then of our current conflict? Could the outcome of the present struggle possibly be as critical to the course of history?

Only time will tell.

Source of quotes: Wyatt Kingseed. "The Fire in the Rear." American History August 2007: 47-51

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Talk about waffling

About 15 years ago, James Holsigner, President Bush's current nominee for surgeon general wrote a paper wherein he called homosexuality unhealthy and unnatural. Now he's telling senators, "The paper does not represent where I am today."

Holsinger told the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "It represented a specific time, in a specific context, for a specific purpose. I can only say I have a deep, deep appreciation of all people, regardless of background or sexual orientation."

Holsinger tried to explain away his paper by saying that it was intended to be a literature review of health issues related to homosexuality for an audience with a Christian orientation.

It sounds to me like the nominee is good at saying just what a particular audience wants to hear.

Full story:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Man's best friend

The neighbor family behind us has a dog, a small black dog with a very annoying bark. Most of the time, the dog is tied up on their back deck. The dog barks at the drop of a hat, so the mere opening of our back door and walking out on our deck started him going and he would keep barking pretty much the whole time you were outside. I was getting to the point of not wanting to go walk out the door.

That is, until about a week ago. I was on the cell phone in our basement and stepped outside to get better reception. A few moments later when I ended the call, I looked over to see our neighbor standing on his deck--with his dog. I hadn't hardly seen, let alone spoken with this neighbor, so I shouted a greeting to him and waved, to which he responded in kind. Just a quick interchange--but it changed the dog. He no longer barks at me when I go outside.

It's as if seeing me interact cordially with his master was enough to allay his insecurity toward me. At first I thought maybe he simply wasn't noticing my emergence into his domain; however, the last several times I've gone outside, I walked around the deck making noises, and he just went about his business seemingly unaware of me. A few times I heard him bark and thought, "oh no, hear we go again", only to look at him and realize he was barking at a bird or some noise in the distance. Then he was quiet again, and glanced at me as if to tell me I'm in his fave five now.

I'm definitely happy about this new development. I'm enjoying my new found friendship--and the peace and quiet.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Tevia was right

I just finished reading a book called "The Mormon Way of Doing Business: Leadership and Success through Faith and Family" by Jeff Benedict. The book was interesting enough. It told about Mormon business executives who succeeded in the fast-paced, high-intensity business world, while staying true to their religious principles such as integrity, fidelity, and family. Many of them had even held positions of significant responsibility in their church while serving as CEO or CFO of a large corporation.

I was impressed with the stamina and ability to juggle many priorities demonstrated by these busy execs as they would fly home to a child's ball game or a church meeting amidst jetting around the world. However, as I read quotes from these highly successful men, I couldn't help thinking about the line Tevia sang in Fiddler on the Roof: "When you're rich, they think you really know!".

Being a Mormon myself, it occurred to me that most of what these men were saying about their beliefs could have come out of the mouth of any young child in the church. The author of the book seemed to be asserting that there was something about what these men accomplished that made what they said about life and values somehow more profound. However, the very teachings of the church they belong to does not indicate that what these men had accomplished constitutes the true definition of success. Mr. Benedict seemed to be putting forth some sort of a blueprint for greatness, but it seems to me that even the greatest man who ever walked the earth lived a life pretty much in diametric opposition to the type of success espoused by this book.

I'm all for letting those who want to pay the price reach the top of their field and win at all that they do. What though, of a business owner who never reaches the top because his acts of charity toward customers erode his profits? Is that type of a person any less successful that one who brings massive earnings to gleeful shareholders? I know too many great men who are not rich to buy in to this book's way as the "Mormon Way".

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Kid's stuff

I've always been a bit sentimental. For over 20 years, whenever one of our children gave me something such as a card, a drawing, a note, etc., I put the item in a box labeled "KID'S STUFF". The box is the kind that reams of paper come in, the ones with slide-on lids. On Father's day this year, I decided to sit down and go through the box. What an experience! There's nothing like having over twenty years of memories come flooding back at you. I had the greatest time reading notes, gazing at pictures drawn for my office, and looking at cards that contained expressions of love and appreciation. It took me a while to get through the whole box, as I alternatively laughed and sobbed the entire time.

My wife has a similar box, too, which I know is just as priceless to her. The contents of these boxes are of little monetary value, but it's what they represent that gives them their value. One of the most expensive toys we ever bought our kids was a trampoline. After our kids grew up and we gave it away, I didn't think about how much it cost (other than that it was one of the best investments we ever made). I thought about crack-the-egg contests, doing flips, and sleeping out under the stars on the tramp.

Some time ago, I was sitting at the kitchen table writing a note to my wife. As I looked at the table, which we've had for many years, I noticed slight etchings in its surface. Visible were numbers from math assignments, letters from countless reports, and a myriad of shapes from drawings. This table is covered with recordings of our past.

I have a hard time parting with these objects of sentimentality. Observe the the penny on my key chain, the lesson handout in my scripture case, the polished rock in my glove box, or the broken down go-kart under our deck. We've thought a few times about getting a new kitchen table. If and when we do, I think we will still find a place for that old table somewhere nearby.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Oh, there's One who smiles on high

On this Mother's Day, I'd like to pay tribute to the many Moms in my life.

I have fond memories of two wonderful grandmothers. Grandma Salisbury was such a jolly soul, and being in the rocking chair with her was like lying on a nice big pillow. After those wonderful seafood dinners at Bratten's, her and my mom used to fight about who would pay the bill, even though she barely had any income from Social Security. From Grandma Smith I remember the birthday shoe boxes filled with candy from the Gem Theatre; I don't know how she made it fit so well, but there was no air in there. I remember tossed salads with peas, a drawer with unique toys and such, and playing with the old upright radio. I was also fortunate enough to have a third "grandmother" in Aunt May. Alway so smiling and proud of us all. She was light and frail from eating like a rabbit, but would splurge on chocolate cake and ice cream at family birthday gatherings.

This is the first Mother's Day without my mom. We all miss her love and the music she made with her voice and life. She remembered every holiday and special event that ever occurred. Always conscious of our health, hamburger night was not complete without the compensating carrot and celery sticks. She gave freely to everyone, asking for little in return except an occasional neck rub and a homemade Mother's Day card. We miss you, Mom.

I'm grateful to my Mother-in-law for raising the love of my life and giving her away to me. Mom Bev is a master of making home a lovely place, a trait which rubbed off on Annette. I can't think of a time when I didn't feel totally welcome in her home. I also learned from her that I was "striking" in appearance.

The mother of my children makes me practically speechless. From the moment I saw her working with those preschool children in 1981, I knew that my Annie C would be a mom of all moms. I can't even begin to list the countless ways that she has affected the lives of our children (and in turn, mine) for good. No one knows like I do how much she cares for our "jewels" or of the tremendous joy, yearning, and concern felt by her as we raised our children. Hohnee, to quote a famous line, "no one loves you as I do".

By becoming a mom herself, Lindsey has delivered a whole new level of delight into our lives. She has shone as Sadie's mother and we are so excited for her and Blake as they prepare for their second child. Her quiet dignity as a Mother as she guides Sadie through her life's journey is most gratifying to watch.

Laci is a proud member of FMA (Future Mothers of America). I know that she and Eric are very excited to begin their family. A home filled with much love and blessings awaits some lucky spirits. And so do we!

Yes, I've been blessed with many wonderful moms. On this Mother's day, I thank God for that.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

In Case You Didn't Know...

I've been tagged by my daughter, Lindsey. Prepare for the most exciting moment of your life as you take a journey into the unknown...

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:
  1. Naval Officer
  2. Hospital Administrator
  3. Carpet/Furniture Cleaner
  4. Yard Maintenance Company Owner
B) Four movies I could watch over and over:
  1. Princess Bride
  2. Fiddler on the Roof
  3. What About Bob?
  4. It's A Wonderful Life
C) Four places I have lived:
  1. Magna/Salt Lake City, Utah
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Seattle/Maple Valley, Washington
  4. Fredericksburg, Virginia
D) Four television shows I watch:
  1. 24
  2. American Idol
  3. Law and Order
  4. Without a Trace
E) Four Places I have been on vacation:
  1. New York
  2. Hilton Head, North Carolina
  3. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  4. Orlando, Florida
F) Four websites I visit almost daily
G) Four of my favorite foods (I have about 500 favorites, but here are four of them):
  1. Chicken Artichoke Bruschetta from Ledo's
  2. Pumpkin french toast or pancakes
  3. Ice Cream
  4. Pizza
H) Four places I'd rather be right now:
  1. Utah
  2. Seattle
  3. Aruba
  4. Skiing

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Gonna Fly Now

I recently saw the new Rocky Balboa movie. I was pleasantly surprised by what I experienced. Obviously, a few of the later Rocky films left something to be desired in the quality "arena", so I don't think I was expecting much. But I was really moved by this show.

As I think back on the previous Rocky movies, I believe that there was sort of a “Lawrence Welk/Mister Rogers” syndrome going on--everybody likes to poke fun, but at the same time everybody watches, and is affected (consciously or subconsciously) in a very positive way by what they see.

At the end of Rocky Balboa, I realized that over the years I had been impacted in many ways by the Rocky themes of never giving up, of fighting, of surviving. In making this last movie about this fighter, Sylvester Stalone practiced what Rocky has always preached, and came out a winner.

Blog Tag - 5 Things You Don’t Know About Me, But Wish You Didn't

I was recently tagged by Leezy Lindsey “The Great” Snow to expose 5 not too well-known facts about myself, so here goes:

1. For many years, I too have used Sharpies to touch up chips on dark furniture. It has been very helpful on our black enamel Scandinavian style office furniture, especially on the front edge of the desk.

2. When I was just a little grasshopper, I took a ten-second Super 8 movie of David Carradine, who played Kwai Chang Caine on the TV series Kung Fu. He made a funny face at the camera as he walked by me in the airport. What a magic moment that was.

3. I used to bite my nails incessantly. When I was 19 years old, I decided to stop, and did just that. I hated those blasted hangnails. If only all bad habits were that easy to break!

4. As a young boy, I was President of the World Wide Spy Club (WWSC). We had a logo and everything.

5. My lower teeth are really crooked, because I refused braces when they were offered to me by my dental professional and parents. I told them that if God wanted me to have straight teeth, he would have given them to me. The real reason was that I was scared to death of being called “train tracks” by other kids.

Well, there you have it. Now you’re it. Do the same on your own blog or in a comment to this post.