Richard Alger

Personal Online Journal

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Wrestling With Comparisons

"Wrestling with Comparisons", J.B. Haws, Associate Professor of Church History and Doctrine, BYU Devotional, May 7, 2019 

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"Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others. If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick.


Let me be direct and clear. The answers to the questions “Am I good enough?” and “Will I make it?” are “Yes! You are going to be good enough” and “Yes, you are going to make it as long as you keep repenting and do not rationalize or rebel.” The God of heaven is not a heartless referee looking for any excuse to throw us out of the game."

("Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?", Elder J. Devn Cornish, Oct 2016 GC)

Dad brought this up during his Come Follow Me study

Thursday, July 08, 2021

What Is the Meaning of the Phrase “Sufficient Is the Day Unto the Evil Thereof?”

From “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”, D. Todd Christofferson, CES Devotional, January 9, 2011

In the 1950s my mother survived radical cancer surgery, but difficult as that was, the surgery was followed with dozens of painful radiation treatments in what would now be considered rather primitive medical conditions. She recalls that her mother taught her something during that time that has helped her ever since:

“I was so sick and weak, and I said to her one day, “Oh, Mother, I can’t stand having 16 more of those treatments.”

She said, “Can you go today?”

“Yes.”

“Well, honey, that’s all you have to do today.”

It has helped me many times when I remember to take one day or one thing at a time.


The following is from https://bookofmormonstudynotes.blog/2019/06/02/what-is-the-meaning-of-the-phrase-sufficient-is-the-day-unto-the-evil-thereof/

In the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded by Matthew, the Savior cautions his disciples against excessive anxiety about the future. You can’t serve both God and mammon, He says. Therefore, if you really trust God, you will focus on the present, with confidence that He will bless you in the future (Matthew 6:24-33).

Then He gives the following admonition:

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matthew 6:34).

When Jesus visited the American continent following His death and resurrection, He delivered essentially the same sermon to a group of people gathered at a temple in a place called Bountiful, but with some variations. The verse quoted above is different from the version recorded in Matthew:

Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof (3 Nephi 13:34, underlines added).

Here’s how I interpret the New Testament version of this passage:

You have enough challenges to deal with today without piling on all of the challenges you may encounter in the future. Focus your time and attention on today’s problems, and you can work on tomorrow’s challenges when they come.

And here’s my paraphrase of the Book of Mormon version:

Every day, you have enough time to deal with the challenges and duties of that day.. Therefore, don’t burden yourself with worry that there won’t be enough time tomorrow to deal with tomorrow’s work. There will be enough time.

I like both versions of this sentence, and I think they both lead to the same conclusion. I ought to prioritize serving over planning. I ought to prioritize the duties of today over the duties of tomorrow. I ought to pay attention to the people I’m with right now and the tasks I’m working on right now, and not be distracted by the people and tasks I will interact with in the future.

Today, I will exercise my faith by living in the moment. I will trust God, believing that there is enough time to address any challenges which the future may bring.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

"My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee"


I love this song. It touches my heart and fills me with hope and love. 

Lyrics for My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee by Rob Gardner

For a little while
Have I forsaken thee
But with great mercies will I gather thee
In a little wrath I hid my face from thee
For a moment

But with everlasting kindness will I gather thee
And with mercy will I take thee 'neath my wings
For the mountains shall depart
And the hills shall be removed
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea
But know, my child
My kindness shall not depart from thee

Though thine afflictions seem
At times too great to bear
I know thine every thought and every care
And though the very jaws
Of hell gape after thee I am with thee

And with everlasting mercy will I succor thee
And with healing will I take thee 'neath my wings
Though the mountains shall depart
And the hills shall be removed
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea
Know, my child
My kindness shall not depart from thee

How long can rolling waters
Remain impure?
What pow'r shall stay the hand of God?
The Son of Man hath descended below all things
Art thou greater than He?

So hold on thy way
For I shall be with thee
And mine angels shall encircle thee
Doubt not what thou knowest
Fear not man, for he
Cannot hurt thee

And with everlasting kindness will I succor thee
And with mercy will I take thee 'neath my wings
For the mountains shall depart
And the hills shall be removed
And the valleys shall be lost beneath the sea
But know, my child
My kindness shall not depart from thee


 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Rising Strong

I am not sure if I can stop saying how much Brene Brown has benefited me. This book is no less good that the others I have read. This quote jumped out to me this morning.

In the absence of data, we will always make up stories. It’s how we are wired. In fact, the need to make up a story, especially when we are hurt, is part of our most primitive survival wiring. Meaning making is in our biology, and our default is often to come up with a story that makes sense, feels familiar, and offers us insight into how to self-protect. What we’re trying to do in the rumble --choosing to feel uncertain and vulnerable as we rumble with the truth-- is a conscious choice. A brave, conscious choice.

Robert Burton, a neurologist and novelist, explains that our brains reward us with dopamine when we recognize and complete patterns. Stories are patterns. The brain recognizes the familiar beginning-middle-end structure of a story and rewards us for clearing up ambiguity. Unfortunately, we don’t need to be accurate, just certain.

(“Rising Strong” by BrenĂ© Brown p 79)

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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Friday, June 11, 2021

I Will Try to Fix You

"Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VDAhbzTovo

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/coldplay/fixyou.html

I love the Cinematic Pop version of this song. I imagine these words come from God. God will repair all if I allow His Grace in my life by working the path he lays before me. 




Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Which Part is Mine?

This is one of the most powerful songs I have ever heard. It is sung by Felicia Sorensen. The following has the lyrics to the song as well as the story behind as told by the author Michael McLean. 

Lynne and I just celebrated our 36th Anniversary, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the remarkable woman I married back in August of 1974.  She’s not only the reason my heart has a song, she influences every song I write, though not always as I would like.  Here’s a classic example of what I’m talking about.   The song is “Which Part is Mine?” and this story makes the most sense if you experience the lyrics to my first draft of the song first:


She was only a dairyman’s daughter.  She was only a child of thirteen,

But the stars on the radio brightened her nights with a dream    

So she called up her best girlfriend, Jenny, cause she thought

They would make quite a pair

She said, “Let’s you and me try to sing harmony

At the amateur night at the fair.

But she only had the range of an alto

So the part she knew best went to her friend

And when Jenny’s soprano drowned out the piano

They’d have to start over again.

And the dairyman’s daughter would then say

“Which part is mine, and Jen which part is yours?

Could you tell me one more time, I’m never quite sure

And I won’t cross the line like I have before

So please help me learn which part is mine

And which part is yours.”


She grew up and got married to Bobby

Kept him working on his MBA

They had two little red-headed children

And one on the way.

Everybody said she could work wonders and she

Wondered what everyone meant

She played so many roles it was taking its toll

And she feared that her life was mis-spent

So she opened her heart to her husband

They discussed everything on her list

From the kids to the job to her feelings for Bob

But what it really just boiled down to this…She said

“Which part is mine, and Bob, which part is yours,

Let’s review it one more time. I guess I’m not sure.

And I won’t cross the line like I have before

If we’ll just define which part is mine, and which part is yours.

 

-- interlude --

 

Every sleepless night knows many mothers who are

Wondering if they’ve done alright

And the dairyman’s daughter knew more than a few of those nights.

Had she give her son too much freedom?

Had she smothered her two teenage girls?

Did she spoil them too much or not trust them enough

To prepare them for life in this world?

So she opened her heart to the heavens and she

And she spoke of her children by name..

And the prayer that she prayed that her kids would be saved

Had a very familiar refrain…She said "Let's review this again"

“Which part is mine?  And God, which part is yours?

Could you tell me one more time, I’m never quite sure

And I won’t cross the line like I have before.

But it gets so confusing sometimes.

Should I do more or trust the divine.

Could you please tell me which part is mine and which part is yours?"


When I first wrote the song, that’s where it ended.  I played it for my wife who said… “That’s not the ending, is it?”


“Yes, it is…”


“Michael, it can’t be.  It’s too depressing.”


“Depressing?  It’s not depressing, it’s life.  Can’t you see, I have captured a truth about life in my song.  Everyday we wake up and we have to decide how much is up to us, and how much we can turn over to someone or something else.   Is today the day that if it’s meant to be it’s up to me, or is today the day to just let go and let God?”


I was on a roll…I think if you listened closely you could have heard a church organ underscore my little sermonette.


“Is today the day that when the going get’s tough, the tough get going…or is it a day you trust that you’ve done all you can do and show some faith.   Can’t you see, Lynne, this song, perhaps more than any other song I’ve written, has captured a truth about life.”


“Yeah…in a really depressing way.  Can’ you fix the ending?”


We’d been married a long time and I’d learned not to get defensive when my wife offered constructive criticism of my songs. So, I listened, actively, and when the mood seemed right I said.


.. “SO HOW MANY SONGS HAVE YOU EVER WRITTEN?”


“Goodnight, Michael. Play me that song again sometime, when it’s finished.”


I was NOT going to change that song.  The artist in me was not going to compromise just to make Pollyanna happy.  You know, I never discussed this with her, but I think my wife truly believed Romeo and Juliet should have lived.  


I was too riled up to sleep so I went to the “great room” of our house.  Perhaps I should mention here that at the time our place was sort of like THE WALTONS television show, and I was John Boy.  My mom and dad lived there, my wife and our three kids, and my sister and her husband and their three children.  The central gathering place of the house we called the “great room”. It had a wonderful piano in it, and with the logs and rock and high ceiling it sounded great.  


I played through the song again, imagining how it would sound, unchanged and recorded in a professional studio with terrific players and a great singer.   


When I got to the final few lines…. “It gets so confusing some times.  Should I do more or trust the Divine? Lord please help know which part is mine and which part is…..yours……”


When I came to the word yours I accidentally hit the wrong chord and it created an almost eerie texture to the song.  As the harmonics rang throughout the room, and put the context of the song into an entirely different key, I saw in my mind’s eye the dairyman’s daughter that I’d been singing about.  She was in her kitchen, grating carrots.  Then, dropped everything into the sink and leaned against the counter, with her head bowed and her fingers interlaced.  


And I heard her sing:


"DID YOU HEAR ME?


It was so faint I almost missed it.


I CAN FEEL YOU NEAR ME…


I could see her lower lip tremble.


THIS IS THE ANSWER THAT I’VE BEEN LONGING FOR

JUST TO KNOW YOU HEAR ME

AND TO FEEL YOU NEAR ME….

IT'S ALL THE ANSWER

THAT I’VE BEEN LONGING FOR


I could hear violins swelling and the woodwinds echoing.  It was so beautiful I couldn’t stop, and strangely I knew how she was feeling. Living under the same roof with so much family (nuclear and extended) all needing so much attention, understanding and love and not knowing if and/or when you’ve done enough can really make you yearn for answers to life’s big questions like “which part is mine, and which part is Yours?” Yet when you’ve been struggling for a long time, and wondering if anyone up there knows what you’re going through, and then you feel that closeness, it’s so healing you don’t ever want it to leave. It’s curious to me that what often brings the comfort is not a specific answer to a question, but knowing you are actually being heard.


Yes, I knew how my dairyman’s daughter felt and so I joined her, loudly in the refrain:


DO YOU HEAR ME???????


Throughout the house I heard unimagined voices saying: “YES, WE HEAR YOU…………GO…..TO……BED!!!!!!!!


But I couldn’t. Not yet.  I didn’t want the feeling to go away.  So very quietly I played that ending over and over and over again.  After I’d recorded the song people told me that the fade out was longer than HEY JUDE.   My explanation was simple.   People who are feeling heard don’t ever want that feeling to go away.  


And then the dairyman’s daughter was gone.  In my mind’s eye I couldn’t locate her anywhere. It surprised me when I heard myself sing what became the ending to the song:

AFTER I’VE DONE MY BEST

I KNOW YOU’LL DO THE REST

BECAUSE I KNOW YOU HEAR ME.


The recording of the song sounded just like it did in my head, and I sent it to my wife and daughter who were on an educational tour together overseas.  I express mailed a copy so they’d have something to listen to on the long bus rides.  Typical of my wife, she played the song for everyone and then called to tell me how much everyone responded to it. 


She’s never taken credit for the ending.


She should.

-

Friday, May 07, 2021

Art Together Now

Art Together Now Announcement 2021: https://youtu.be/T7YCao8_Dlw

Original version: https://youtu.be/a5j50F4rlzA
OK Go Sandbox - Art Together Now (Symphony From Home Version):  https://youtu.be/i7va3BbNoSk
OK Go Sandbox - Art Together Now (Nature Version): https://youtu.be/g4EEtfNk1yk
OK Go Sandbox - Art Together Now (Kids Version): https://youtu.be/2hnhE7zlWNg
OK Go Sandbox - Art Together Now (Bunni Version): https://youtu.be/iCH9yM46FhY
OK Go Sandbox - Art Together Now (Space Version): https://youtu.be/nvhVTLk431U
OK Go Sandbox - Art Together Now (Praxinoscope Version): https://youtu.be/7JCEXOYOK9A

Lyrics
It's all still the same
Everything's untouched but forever changed
Oh, we're all still the same
Everything's untouched but forever changed
All the colors we painted yesterday
They look so different now
And all those harmonies we sang yesterday
All sound so different somehow
Though they're all still the same
Everything's untouched but forever changed
Everywhere on earth
Every single soul, everyone there is, all together now
And everyone alone all together on the precipice
All that mattered then, all that matters now
All that matters after the world shuts down
All of it dissolved all together in the chrysalis
Together in the chrysalis
Nothing changes, until one day it does, then there's no going back
Our best selves and our worst selves live in that moment there
Sparring over who draws the new maps
And though their lines
May look the same
Everything depends on who wins that game
Everywhere on earth
Every single soul, everyone there is, all together now
And everyone alone all together on the precipice
All that mattered then, all that matters now
All that matters after the world shuts down
All of it dissolved all together in the chrysalis
Together in the chrysalis
And now the impossible's happenin'
A million knots that we were told can't be untied
Would always hold all unraveling
And even while the heavens fall
The fog's still wrapped around us all
And when it's snuffed out every last star
We'll see just who we are
Just who we are
All together now, all together now
All together alone in the chrysalis
We're all together now
All together now, all together alone in the chrysalis
We're all together now
All together now, all together alone in the chrysalis
All together now
All together now, all together alone in the chrysalis
We're all together now
All together now, all together alone in the chrysalis
All together now
All together now, all together alone in the chrysalis
We're all together now
All together now, all together alone in the chrysalis
All together now
We're all together alone


 




"Everything with eyes has some amount of eyes"

"Everything with eyes has some amount of eyes"

https://open.spotify.com/track/0RQ6ghOpbHURdOqn1ltRDy?si=c076891e0722475f

This reminds me to not take myself too seriously. And about tautology. 

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tautology


Triops Has Three Eyes 

Rabbits have two eyes

And whales have two eyes

And eagles have two eyes

But triops has three eyes

Triops has three eyes

Two eyes on a face

Are usually enough

But triops has got

One that looks up

And one that looks around

And one to keep an eye

On the other pair of guys

Triops has three eyes

Needles have an eye

Tornadoes have an eye

Potatoes have a lot of eyes

But triops has three eyes

Triops has three eyes

Everything with eyes

Has some amount of eyes

And triops has got

One that looks up

And one that looks around

And one to keep an eye

On the other pair of guys

Triops has three eyes

There are two sides to every story

But triangles have three

And the tricycle has one more cycle

Than the washing machine

Chickens have two legs

And varmin [unverified] have two legs

And monkeys have two legs

But tripods have three legs

Tripods have three legs

They've got more than you

'cause they need more than two

A tripod has got

One that points back

And one that sticks out

And one to be a friend

To the other pair of legs

Tripods have three legs

Look, there's an eye

Hey, there's another eye

And there's a third eye

'cause triops has three eyes

Triops has three eyes

Two eyes on a face

Are usually enough

But triops has got

One that looks up

And one that looks around

And one to keep an eye

On the other pair of guys

Triops has got

One that points back

And one that sticks out

And one to be a friend

To the other pair of guys

Triops has three eyes

Triops has three eyes

Triops has three eyes