Personal Online Journal

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Farmers, Atheletes and Musicians

On the way home from our Priesthood Campout, my sons and I listened to Farm Wisdom for City Folks.  It is one of the best talks I have heard.  My dad grew up on a farm and orchard.  His dad supplemented their income from the farm.  When my dad graduated from BYU in the late 60s he got a job in Phoenix.  We lived there for about 10 years.  One of my dad's concerns was that he raise his children well.  One of the main reasons he moved west to the suburb of Peoria was he could get a couple of acres of irrigated land.  He wanted to make sure his children knew how to work.  And that they would grow to love it.

Some of my best memories with my dad were when we were working.  I was pretty little when we built the house in Peoria.  My dad spent at least a year going into work extra early so he would have time to go out to the property and work on something or another.  He did get contractors to dig the basement, and many other large items.  But Dad helped a lot with the electrical system, all of the drywall, taping and painting and I am sure much more.

The younger brothers and I built the work shed he has.  We would pour a little slab of concrete at a time.  I remember using the electric drill to put in hundred of screws to put up the siding and the roof.  Our family vacations were also work.  I think camping is a way to make work fun.  Coming off of our priesthood camp out, I tell you that it is work.  From the planning, packing, setting up camp, breaking it down and all the hiking around.  I remember when mowing the grass turned from being a chore to having a measure of satisfaction in a job well done.  There were many times that I looked forward to mowing.

John Bytheway mentioned talking to a mission president.  He said that if all his missionaries would be farmers, athletes or musicians, 70% of his problems would go away.  He said that each of these pursuits cultivate a certain character in people.  The law of the harvest is in effect.  You cannot plant seed at the beginning of September and expect a harvest by dumping hundreds of gallons of water on it and waiting a few days to harvest.  The same goes for dedicated athletes and musicians.  You have to dedicate yourself to them and incrementally get better and stronger and more skilled.  You have to learn to continue on when you don't feel the progress happening.

President Benson said it this way.
I have often said that one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.

A second aspect that stood out to me was that we are amusing ourselves to death.  That we are moving generally from a work ethic to an entertainment and welfare ethic.  While I think that it is possible that this is a general trend in our society, there are many, examples that I see of a work ethic and honor in craftsmanship around me.  There are so many that are willing to put in the effort needed to be honorable producers and not just consumers.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Moments of Clarity

There are times when life gives you moments of clarity.  Like tonight when Steph noticed that I moved my hand from her arm to her hand.  You see I sweat easily and her skin gets irritated by it.  She noticed it.  But I didn't.  She told me and we had a tender moment.  I could see that in some ways I am becoming the man I aspire to be.  It was a moment to see the direction I am going.  What I am becoming.

I hope to continue on that path.

It reminds me of the moment in The Matrix when Neo recognizes he has complete control over his virtual surroundings.  Or when Eragon in the Inheritance Cycle series recognizes that he must not become faster in his sword skills, he must only wait for the right moment.  Or Nephi as he stood on the shore working to build the ship God asked him to build.  He said that nothing is impossible for the Lord.  If He asked Nephi to command the water that it be dry ground and if Nephi were to give that command, the water would become dry ground.  Or when Gandalf says to the bellowing balrog, "You. Shall. Not. Pass."

Sometimes I feel that power.  The power of God.  The power of Good.  Mostly I don't feel it that strongly though.  Most of the time is spent doing regular things.  Menial tasks.  The laundry.  The homework.  The grocery shopping.

I am reminded of the pilot who saved the flight that was rising out of an airport in New York City.  He said something to the effect that he went through training his entire career.  He practiced the training and over the years he had built up a reserve that he was able to tap.  When he needed it, it was there.  He tapped his reserves and it came out all right.

That is what I want for my family and friends and community.  I want it to turn out all right.  Ultimately.  Finally. Eternally.  It is so interesting that these destinies come from every day decisions.  That turn into every day habits.  That turn into the character of the people we are.  That determines our destinies.  Our every little decision.  Piled up over our lifetimes.  And eternities before and eternities to come.

My church teaches me that this life is different than what we experienced before.  That in this life, time exists.  There are deadlines.  If you don't meet the deadline, no one saves you.  Or if they do, it's because they have gone above and beyond.  Our lives are messy.  We don't remember our existence before.  We are here to live by faith.  To see through a glass darkly.

We are more mold-able here. We have tabernacles of flesh, maybe that is one reason.  Time causes things to change.  The fall of Adam caused entropy or a tendency for things to go towards chaos.  We must work to retain our lives.

I have not seen the lives we have ahead of us after this life.  I do know that we can improve our lives in the here and now by practicing Goodness.  Be Good according to the dictates of my conscience.  And when I fall short, get, back up and try again.  Allow forgiveness for myself and others.

I have faith in a great life to come.  That never ends for any of us.  We are Eternal beings, spiritually born of The Eternal Being.  Our lives are what we make of them.  The moral choices we make each day.  We can choose happiness or misery.  These don't come in one day but they do come drop by drop, day by day until we obtain an infinity of Goodness by the Grace of God, an exceeding depth of pain and bitterness, or somewhere in between.

So what choose you?  I choose life and life more abundantly.  But each day will be the verifier.  Choose each day to keep trusting in God.  To allow happiness in my tasks.  To lean into the work I have to do.  All with a prayer of gratitude for the chance to experience it and to do my part to pass it on.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Trust in the Lord

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5)
I love the three things I focus on when life gets hard:
- Trust God
- Be Happy
- Work Hard

Trusting in the Lord means that I expect the Lord to fulfill His promises whether now or in eternity.

Choose to be happy in the situation I am in
Work hard doing what the Lord wants me to do.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Letters to Loved Ones

There were two talks in General Conference this April that spoke about letters to loved ones: "Willing and Worthy to Serve" by President Monson and "Was It Worth It?" by David F. Evans.  I also read a news article recently that asked if our social media makes us lonely.

It has caused me to think of my letter writing habits. Also my social media habits. I asked myself if my interactions were meaningful online. Also if my habits in real life are fostering strong relationships. I have three teenagers now. They will soon be out of my home. Am I creating the relationship I want with them as they become adults? Am I investing in my relationship with my wife so it can blossom and bear good fruit?

There is a lady in our ward that has spoken of letters she received from her grandma. There were a lot of them.  They were encouraging to her. She thought she was the only grandchild to receive them.  Her grandma sent similar letters to all her grandchildren.

I want rich relationships with my family and friends. I have decided to write a few more letters to those I love. And make my time in real life more meaningful. I am grateful for the messages in General Conference and the other things that have led me to this.