Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Take A Walk Through Bethlehem

Just Imagine if you would a modern day walk through Bethlehem. For the holidays I hope you each will take some time to not only enjoy the sights and sounds of the season but to reflect on the depth and meaning of the events we celebrate this time of year.
Jesus is THE SON OF GOD, sent to us as a gift to provide grace, justice and salvation. He is our SAVIOUR, our elder brother and our example. No one comes to the father except by his son Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas and Happy "Holy Days."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Is It Enough To Just Have Faith?

I don't think so. I mean faith is of great importance, you really can't do much without it. However there are some who believe they can just have faith, and then sit on their butts and let the blessings start rolling in, without any effort.
Yeah, this post is kinda preachy, so if you've had your fill of Church, just keep on rolling. But before you go, open your mind to the possibility there may be something new you may learn, or some valuable input you can add.

James 2:14 askes the question: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?

I've plenty of friends and acquaintances of all religious back grounds who say it's enough to just believe. They are good people with much to contribute to the world. I am saddened for them because I feel they're wasting away. For whatever reason, they have no need or desire to be actively engaged in building up the kingdom of God.

Don't get me wrong, raising a righteous family, maintaining a strong and good family life and being a good citizen and not causing trouble are important. To which at the very least all should be working to do. But is is enough? For some it's all they can do. But for the majority of us, we're piggy backing on laziness if we justify ourselves as one of those.

Now some out there will undoubtably run to their scriptures (which I hope most will) and probably head over to Romans and/or Galations The bible teaches that salvation comes from faith. True Story Folks. Salvation does come from faith.
Romans 3:20 By the deeds of the law, there no flesh shall be justified in his sight.

Galations 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith

Confusing? On one had, you must have faith because you aren't saved by deeds, right? On the other hand, Faith alone is not enough, without works, it is dead faith.

Could it be possible that faith is a two fold entity? I think so.
It's relatively easy to say " I have faith!" or "I believe" and know they have their salvation in the bag. I know alot of people like that, they pray, bless their food, say I believe, maybe listen to some church music on Sunday... and call it good
There is one scriptures that comes to my mind more often then most:
Matthew 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits,

I'm willing to be wrong, but for me, the truly faithful, will have actions guided by that faith. My sister uses this analogy you're in a park and come across a hungry homeless person and think to yourself "how sad. I will pray for them and I know the Lord will see they are taken care of." What a wonderful thing to pray for them. It is! They gave them exactly what they needed to survive another homeless/foodless day, you gave them the hope that someone else will bless them and a shout out to the Lord to send someone. But is it enough to have sympathy and condolences? Someone will get them food and find them shelter, I did my job in praying for it.
I believe this is the dead kind of faith being talked about in James: dead faith. For Faith without works, is dead.
Perhaps there is a living faith? A faith that requires actions? The faith that produces the "fruits" talked about in Matthew? You can see the evidence of truly faithful, because their actions are governed by it. And By their fruits, ye shall know them. You will see examples of it.

Let's go back and hang out with James again in chapter 2.
Vs 17 mentions: Even so faith, if has not works, is dead, being alone.
I believe that real salvation bring forth that living faith. The faith that bears living and working fruit. It takes some realkind of physical action on our part. One reason why we need a physical body to function on this earth, or else we could all just sit around in spirit praying and expressing condolences knowing we're saved and our salvation is sure. There would be no point in our existance.

How easy is it to show faith without works? I dare say those who have faith without works have very little... and are constantly struggling to obtain "fruits" that are constantly out of reach. There's a reason for it. I liken in to me and my job search.
I can sit on my butt all day and say "I Love the Lord, I am his daughter, he wants me to succeed there for I know I will get a job" and then continue to sit on my butt from now on happy in the knowledge that because I have faith, the Lord is gonna drop a job in my lap, or cause one to knock on my door. :) It's enough for me just to believe and have faith, right?
"Even the devils believe... and they tremble..."

James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

I don't think believing is enough. I think a strong enough belief which brings about action consistant with committment of faith that results in "good fruits" is the whole point of faith. Or else why bother?

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so are faith without works dead."

Living faith is what builds up the Kingdom of God. I think anything else is fooling yourself and Dissin the Lord.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ethnic Children in Utah and the LDS Church.

I've lived in Utah for 18 years. When I first got here, there were hardly any black hair or skin care products, toys, books and so on. For me it was understandable because there just weren't really that many black people living here. Which is why most black people or people of any other ethnicity besides white, don't stay. My sister and I we decided to stay. There must be Pioneering in all aspect of growth. We decided to take it on. If people of different cultures and ethnicity keep leaving Utah, it will never really grow in terms of being a Diverse place.

When my daughter was about 9 she asked me why there were no pictures of any black people on the walls of our home. I was stunned. It made me realize that most of us aren't aware of our children's need to be able to identify thermselves with the world around them.
On our walls were pictures of Christ, a white girl sitting at the knee of Jesus, a white boy just baptized, a white family in front of the temple, the first presidency... you get the point. The portraits are beautiful and positive. But she was trying to identify with how she fits in.

I took a good look around at my apartment. She had fun toys and books and dolls she played with. They were all white. Nothing wrong with that, but culturally, there was something wrong with that. My family it multi Cultural. My stepmom and 4 step siblings and their kids, white. My Dad's brother married a filipeno woman 3 decades ago so their kids are bi-racial. My Brother's first wife was black and french creole, her people were from Louisiana, so their they're bi-racial as well. My Great-Great Grandmother was full blooded Indian, another, great grandmother half black, half white, another, half black half indian.... you get the picture.
I made some choices and decided my home atmosphere should reflect my family. And I needed to find a way to incorporate that with Gospel Principles. Not easy to do in Utah.
I purchased a calendar depicting black art and framed some of the pictures. On a trip to Vegas I found some black greeting cards and framed them as well.
I made come conscious efforts to purchase black dolls, books, videos, even christmas ornaments and decorations. I think one of the most difficult things for me to find in Utah were black dolls that weren't dressed like aunt Jemima or slave looking servants. There were beautiful porclean dolls and barbies and baby dolls in beautiful lace dresses. They were all pretty much white dolls.
I soon began to learn how these things can effect the self esteem of a child. How must if feel to see dolls and toys reflecting your face as servants, or slaves while dolls of other races hand on lacey dresses and hats, or native costume in bright colors and cool accesories. Yeah, I was getting to see things from her point of view.

As the "eternal youth advisor/young women's president" I began to learn what kind of effects these things have on the youth of the church, especially the ethnic youth of the church. I've heard them call each other the racial slurs and the ethnically inappropriate jokes. We need to surround out kids with the positive and beauty of all culturals and diversities.

It's important to children to be able to identify with the world around them. To know there are people and things just like them. It helps to build confidence and and more importantly self esteem.
Although nationally it's easier finding ethnic toys and books, it can still be difficult. I've become part of an affiliation that have ethnic toys, books and dolls of all races: Asian, Bi-racial, black, latin, native american, Pacific Island and yes, white.
So take a look at the website.
I'm also going to have a permanent link to it on this webpage (on the right hand side under the heading JUST LIKE ME.) It is also a perfect website for gift giving. If nothing else, poke around the website.

Every child wants to be able to see and hear things that are "JUST LIKE ME"To see the variety of toys/dolls available for girls and boys of all ethnicity:Click here to browse

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Service Tag! You're IT!

I got tagged in another blog to share some of my experiences about Service. I'm honored. And what a great time of year to share such experiences.
Here are ther rules I was given:

1. Tell a story of when you had service done to you
2. Tell about a time when you did some service
3. Tell us about when you saw someone do some service to yet another person
4. Tag 5 other bloggers to do the same.

Oh, here we go.

A few years ago a bunch of my friends were throwing a birthday party for me. A couple of hours before the party I got into a car accident and smashed the front drivers side of my car. Turns out, I had a pretty bad concussion. My bishop and his family were to baby sit my daughter over night as the birthday party would be running pretty late. I called him to let him know we were in a car accident and that I probably wouldn't be going to the bday party. He actually offered to keep my daughter over night and encouraged me to go to the party, instead of sitting at home in pain trying to stay away all night. (It was one of those concussions where you have to be able to say awake or wake up easily for the next 12 hours or so) I had already called my friends and told them I was in a car accident, had a pretty bad concussion and wouldn't be able to make the party. Much to my suprize they called me back and told me someone would be picking me up for the party and to dress comfortably. I was hesitant but agreed.

When I got to the party, there were about 20 0f my friends there. A couple of them had flown in from California and Seattle for the party, 2 of them drove from Reno to be there. Much to my suprise when I got to my friends house who was hosting the party, I walked in and there were pillows, sleeping bags and folks dressed in pajamas. Upon hearing that I had a concussion and needed to pretty much stay up all night, they came prepared to take shifts in keeping me awake.
It was a fun and difficult night. I remember being so tired that I was beggin one of my friends to take all the money in my wallet and let me sleep just 30 minutes. He looked down at me with tears in his eyes and said... "I can't.... I don't want you to wake up dead!" lol

Right now it may not seem like service since there was a party of sorts. But to me at that time in my life, I needed a stellar group of people to be associated with. Never have I had so many peope during that time show so much love and care for me... and my daughter. I always reflect back on that time when I think of service. It wasn't money or material things they gave to aide me. It was simply their time, themselves which really is the greatest of all gifts and when it's needed the most is when it's usually the least convenient.

On of my favorite memories on giving service happened when I was just out of High School. We had a rather large family in the ward. The Husband, Brother Denninghoff was in the Military and rarely home. There were 7 kids. We started baby sitting for them for years. The wife , Sister Denninghoff was my idol. She made her own bread, peanut butter could make ends meet, found time to spend with all her kids who were never lacking even in social graces. Whatever she was doing, she was doing every well. I enjoyed being around her and her family. One Friday my sister and I decided to go over and kick Sister Denninghoff out of her house so she could have the whole day to do what she wanted, and my sister and I would watch all the kids for her, no charge.
The rules were she had to do something she WANTED to do, not had to do unless if was absolutely needed. She was so floored and confused about the whole thing that she sat in her drive way for 30 minutes, not knowing what it was like to have a whole day to herself. She hadn't had one day to herself for about 15 years. Finally she did leave and my sister and I have a fabulous time with the kids. We bbq'd, swam in the pool, made cookies, cleaned the house, did the dishes, went on a hike. For us it was just a day playing with the Denninghoff kids. When she did return home the house was clean, the kids were well fed changed, a couple of them sleeping. Dinner was cooked all she really had to do was come home and relax. When we left forthe day she tried to pay us. We threw a $2o bill back and forth for about an hour. When we left we found it on our car floor. So we took it and bought her flowers with it.
Our parents always taught us to do something for someone else that we would appreciate ourselves. I don't think I really understood what an impact something like that can have until I became a mom myself. True I only have one child, but I can imagine how it must be with someone with 7 kids. Or even 4. I know she really really was appreciative that day. And it was one of my funnest memories of days gone by.

I think one of the greatest acts of Service I ever witness and happen to be a part of was the LDS Genesis Group and their Service at Camp Williams with the Hurricane Katrina Survivors who were brought in. The LDS Genesis Branch was called in by the Office Of Black Affairs with many other Black Church groups in the community to be hands on and in the front lines in the effort to serve them while here in Utah. It was important for them to see friendly black faces as such a cultural shock of Utah could do even more harm to their psyche. The LDS Genesis Group (and many others) Helped hand out clothes and other needed materials on a daily basis. Some of us were there so much people thought we were hurricane survivors. We took them around the city, to job interviews, apartment hunting. Helped them put together furnature after they moved in, Took them grocery shopping, to Dr appointments and so on. Many awards and recognitions were given out to other churches and organizations but the LDS Genesis Group was not given much recognition at all. I would have to say what I witnessed the 4 weeks I spent up there everyday was some of the greatest Kindnesses I've ever witnessed in my life.

So there you have it. It may not be much in what some consider service, but these experiences have touched and changed my life for the better.

I would like to tag:
http://sugar-grenade.blogspot.com/ (Laura)
http://lefthandedinmyrightmind.blogspot.com/ (Adonis)
http://brentito.blogspot.com/ (Brent)
http://all-things-testify.blogspot.com/ (Beth)
http://rubyg.blogspot.com/ (Joy)
http://thoughtsofmark.blogspot.com/ (Mark)

I did and extra one for good luck

Monday, December 15, 2008

Does Non-denominational = Non-Commital?

I'm not accusing, I'm just asking the question is nondenominational essentially the same as noncommital? I was discussing this with one of my friends. She doesn't claim a religion but she claims a believe in God and Jesus Christ and the bible. She's very quick to tell me "the bible says this...?" and "the bible says that..." but only when it suits her needs. If anyone tells her when she doesn something that isn't very Christlike wether it be deed, word or attitude she gets very defensive and upset. Well in her behalf I guess we all do that. Anyways she and I had a little chat about it.

Caution: I do not suggest having this conversation with someone you don't have strong ties to as a friend. All friendships cannot take this kind of conversation, just know what friendships yours are.

I like Cheryl because we can have these discussions without offense, with humor and knowing that we both care a great deal about each other without the Fear of either one of us trying to convert the other. Just an open minded discussion about beliefs. We actually LEARN from each other which is the beauty of it all.
We got to talking about the divorce rate amongst religious denominations. Here's is some of what we found:

The divorce rate was lowest amongst:
(catholics and Lutherans tied for the lowest)

The divorce rate was highest amongst:
Non denominational
Born Again Christians.

She joked about ours is low only because civil divorce by man cannot undue and eternal marriage in heaven so most LDS divorces wouldn't count in the stats. HAHAH!

I joked about Nondenominational is the same as noncommittal so why we expect a marriage commitment to be any different with them. Hahah!
She actually got a look on her face and said... " You know, I never thought about it that way but I wonder if there's some truth to that."
I admitted to her I didn't really ever understand the standing of "non denomination." And asked her to explain it to me according to her stand point and view.
She started out as most of my "non denominational" friends do saying how she believes in God and Jesus and the bible, but no particularly in organized religion. That there was many of man's corruptions into organized religion and so you really can't trust it. I absolutely understand her thinking on this as we believe there was a great apostasy as outlined in Isaiah 60 & Amos 8:11-12
(Actually there are SEVERAL references in the old and new testaments so forgive me if I only use 1 or 2 of each reference for the sake of time and space)
Basically she believes we are in those days now and believes all religions are massively corrupt and are establishments for power, greed and money.
WOW, thems are some powerful accusations I tell her. She spoke of how ministers and preachers in their new suites, watches and shiny new cars solicit for church donations and pass around the basket for the sake of "tithes and offerings."
She said she'd have more respect if they just come out and say..

"hey, this is my weekly pay check for serving y'all as the preacher so show me the money."
I understand where she's coming from. There's an old country song "Would Jesus wear a Rolex on his T.V. Show."
She said she respected the fact the LDS has a lay ministry and our leaders have regular jobs in the community from high school principles, insurance, salesmen, to New paper editors, Doctors, Lawyers and yes, even constructions workers/carpenters. They don't get paid for their religious duties, it's considered a "calling." A call to serve and with that call should be a standard of obligation to live righteously and not just preach about being righteous.
She's a little puzzled about our Prophet and why we put so much into having a living prophet on the earth today when the bible teaches so much about false prophets and how obvious it.
She feels Jesus Christ was the last true prophet that walked the earth and because of his sacrifice there is no longer a need for prophets. This is where she and I really differ.
I'm reminded of a few scriptures:
Matthew 16:18-19 Where Jesus Christ says that he will build his church and passes off the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter.
Sounds like he is establishing a church to me.
Again in Matthew 26:26-28 is where we believe our weekly "sacrament" covenant began.

Mark 16: 15-16 Christ instructed to go and teach the gospel to every creature. He also said he who believes and is baptised shall be saved.
This is why we have missionary work and baptisms.

Luke: 10:1 is where he calls the office of the "Seventy" and sent them 2 by 2 to every city and place he would also go.

Acts:14:23 They ordained "Elders"

1 Corinthians 12:27-28 : Speaks of how in general we are the members of the body of Christ but the Lord has set apart some to be Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, and it even specifies "Governments" in that scripture.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 Speaks of Bishops and their eligibility and also vs 8-9 speak of the office of the Deacon.

Ephesians 4: 11-16 speak to the issue that Christ not only established his church while here on earth, but state he gave to the church Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers for the perfecting of the saint, work of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ.

I truly believe Christ organized his church in this. In the case of the great apostasy and the corruption of the church many of these things would be lost. And for them to be reestablished one would only need to refer back to Christ's Organization of it (in the scriptures) to recognize it once again.
We believe a Prophet was chosen in this dispensation to Restore Christ's Church. I say Restoration because it was already established by Christ.

Acts 3:18-22 speaks of Jesus death and when the time of "refreshing" will come from the presence of the Lord and he will send for his son Jesus, "which before was preached unto you."

We discussed a bit on these perceptions and thoughts and it turned into a really good conversation. Some of the scriptures she was familiar with and others she wasn't. She is another one of my friends who believes in the bible, but doesn't really have one on hand. I tease her a bit about that as well. But that is a common theme I'm noticing amongst many of my friends of ALL denominations. We call ourselves men and children of God yet we don't take it upon ourselves to read his word on a daily or even weekly basis. True I have my Scriptures but I'm not in them on a daily basis.
I set a goal one year that I needed to read in my scriptures or any spiritual literature that would help me become closer to God and help build up his kingdom at least 1 hour a day before I could watch any TV, Jump on the Computer or read any other type of book for entertainment.
We're told to "seek ye first the kingdom of God."
So let it publicaly be known... this will be on my goals for 2009.

I'm still confused on the Nondenominational thing. It must be nice to believe in God and Jesus Christ but not commit, really, to any practices or actions on a regular basis supporting it. Cheryl admits she likes not having to feel or obligated to sit in a congregation regularly, and feel she's being preached to or hear testimony of how the Lord has blessed others in their lives.
But I was quite surprised when she shared with me the following.
She feels it's easier to justify and live with her own short coming and what she feels is a lack of blessings and a list of failures. Being Nondenominational justifies her lack of enthusiasm and ambition in doing what she admit can be a better job religiously. But she also says it spill over into other aspects of her life. She knows she's only fooling herself and not so much of anyone around her, but for now, she's OK with willing to live like that.
With that being said, I must say to some it should seem like I should blast Cheryl for her lack of desire to make her religious actions consistent with her religious claims. But I don't feel that way one bit. First of all, "we believe that others can worship whomever, where ever and how ever they want." Its a little irritating when she quotes me things like.. "the bible says...." I have to remind her... "girl, I have a bible, I read it, I know what it says." But I feel we all do that to some degree.
I respect Cheryl a great deal. She knows she is at conflict in her spirit. I appreciate her willingness and humility in recognizing it. She's miles ahead of those who "know what they know and can't take into consideration anything but what they know.." when in reality what they know and what they do are in conflict, inconsistent and those around them see it but they themselves are oblivious to it. Actually it's kind of fun to watch that sort of person. Trudge forward in self pride whilst making a fool out of themselves.
OK, shame on me, for that last few sentences but I find that sort of person quite entertaining.

Cheryl asked me if I could give her any religious council as a friend what would it be. For me I told her it was simple.
Get a bible and read it. I know she read it as a child, teenager and what not. But as we grow older and wiser with life experiences, we see things differently, Although the words are the same, as we are humble and childlike and toward our father in heaven, deeper meanings and perceptions are revealed to us that we understand on a deeper level as adult.

Also I believe with fullness of heart in the following Scriptures:
James 1:5-6

Luke 11:9-10

Especially Luke. I've heard a lot of people say "well God hasn't revealed such and such knowledge to me." And when I ask them.... "have you asked??"
And the response is usually something like "he's revealed many other things to me I'm sure if it were truth he would have revealed that also."
In my opinion that's spoken like a person who has MUCH to learn. I do believe God reveals things to us as we need them and in our own due time. But I whole heartily believes he reveals even more to those of us who ask. Or why else would he command us to
"Come unto me...."
"Ask and ye shall receive..."
"Seek and ye shall find..."
"Knock and it shall be opened.."

We have an obligation to become humble before the Lord and call upon him, not just for the asking of blessing "to be healed, keep us safe, finding a job, gimme gimme gimme." And all of us have a lot more to be thankful for besides "food, fellowship and family." Or the Three F's as I've heard some of my Baptist friends call it. We have an obligation to him and ourselves to ask about the truthfulness and integrity of people around us and our families, the righteousness of political issues and those who are running for political office, if a career path is right to take or even who to court and marry. Why WOULDN'T we ask he who is all knowing on these issues? Of course we're expected to act for ourselves but we're also expected to study things out the best of our knowledge, ask in faith believing and act in according to the answer we receive. I also believe it we act in accordance to what we believe to be correct the Lord will interfere in our best interest before we make those drastic mistakes. Some mistakes we are allowed to make because from them we gain wisdom. But I believe in seeking his council and asking for knowledge the mistakes we make are minor and give us wisdom and strength.

So Cheryl, My Non-committal/non denominational friend, That is my council to you. Know that I only gave it Cuz you asked me for it. You are my friend regardless of religious differences, you always have been. I enjoy our discussions and the things I learn from you make me a better Daughter of God as well.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Elder Joseph B, Wirthin

I just finished watching the funeral for Elder Joseph B Wirthlin. What I remember most of him was watching him in the April 2008 General Conference as his voice and body began to shake during his talk and Elder Russell M. Nelson stood by his side like a diligent servant ready to catch him if he fell.
I'm saddened that I am not as familiar with him as maybe I ought to be. I would like to share with you a General Conference Talk of his that was shared with me about 2 years ago. It was shared with me by a friend who was struggling with the death of his mother as well as other struggles.
I have turned to this talk many times in the last couple years for comfort and peace.
It is in his honor that I share it in hopes that it may do some good to anyone who is looking for comfort and peace as well.
I've included the sound link at the bottom of the page for those who would rather hear it, than read it.

Because of the life and eternal sacrifice of the Savior of the world, we will be reunited with those we have cherished.
I am grateful to be with you today and to draw strength from your testimonies. More than words can express, I am grateful for your kind words of support, your expressions of love, and your prayers.
Today I would like to indulge in a few personal memories.
I was born of goodly parents. From my father, Joseph L. Wirthlin, I learned the values of hard work and compassion. He was bishop of our ward during the Great Depression. He possessed a genuine concern for those in distress. He reached out to those in need not because it was his duty but because it was his sincere desire.
He tirelessly cared for and blessed the lives of many who suffered. In my mind, he was an ideal bishop.
Those who knew my father knew how active he was. Someone once told me that he could do the work of three men. He rarely slowed down. In 1938 he was operating a successful business when he received a call from the President of the Church, Heber J. Grant.
President Grant told him they were reorganizing the Presiding Bishopric that day and wanted my father to serve as counselor to LeGrand Richards. This caught my father by surprise, and he asked if he could pray about it first.
President Grant said, "Brother Wirthlin, there are only 30 minutes before the next session of conference, and I want to have some rest. What do you say?"
Of course, my father said yes. He served 23 years, 9 of them as Presiding Bishop of the Church.
My father was 69 years old when he passed away. I happened to be with him when he suddenly collapsed. Soon after, he was gone.
I often think about my father. I miss him.
My mother, Madeline Bitner, was another great influence in my life. In her youth she was a fine athlete and a champion sprinter. She was always kind and loving, but her pace was exhausting. Often she would say, "Hurry up." And when she did, we picked up the pace. Perhaps that was one of the reasons I had quick acceleration when I played football.
My mother had great expectations for her children and expected the best from them. I can still remember her saying, "Don't be a scrub. You must do better." Scrub was her word for someone who was lazy and not living up to his potential.
My mother passed away when she was 87 years old, and I think about her often and miss her more than I can say.
My younger sister Judith was an author, composer, and educator. She loved many things, including the gospel, music, and archaeology. Judith's birthday was a few days before mine. Every year I would give her a crisp one-dollar bill as my birthday present to her. Three days later she would give me 50 cents as her birthday present to me.
Judith passed away a few years ago. I miss her and think of her often.
And that brings me to my wife, Elisa. I remember the first time I met her. As a favor to a friend, I had gone to her home to pick up her sister, Frances. Elisa opened the door, and at least for me, it was love at first sight.
I think she must have felt something too, for the first words I ever remember her saying were, "I knew who you was."
Elisa was an English major.
To this day I still cherish those five words as some of the most beautiful in human language.
She loved to play tennis and had a lightning serve. I tried to play tennis with her, but I finally quit after coming to the realization that I couldn't hit what I couldn't see.
She was my strength and my joy. Because of her, I am a better man, husband, and father. We married, had eight children, and walked together through 65 years of life.
I owe more to my wife than I can possibly express. I don't know if there ever was a perfect marriage, but, from my perspective, I think ours was.
When President Hinckley spoke at Sister Wirthlin's funeral, he said that it is a devastating, consuming thing to lose someone you love. It gnaws at your soul.
He was right. As Elisa was my greatest joy, now her passing is my greatest sorrow.
In the lonely hours I have spent a great deal of time thinking about eternal things. I have contemplated the comforting doctrines of eternal life.
During my life I have heard many sermons on the Resurrection. Like you, I can recite the events of that first Easter Sunday. I have marked in my scriptures passages regarding the Resurrection and have close at hand many of the key statements uttered by latter-day prophets on this subject.
We know what the Resurrection is—the reuniting of the spirit and body in its perfect form.1
President Joseph F. Smith said "that those from whom we have to part here, we will meet again and see as they are. We will meet the same identical being that we associated with here in the flesh."2
President Spencer W. Kimball amplified this when he said, "I am sure that if we can imagine ourselves at our very best, physically, mentally, spiritually, that is the way we will come back."3
When we are resurrected, "this mortal body is raised to an immortal body. . . . [We] can die no more."4
Can you imagine that? Life at our prime? Never sick, never in pain, never burdened by the ills that so often beset us in mortality?
The Resurrection is at the core of our beliefs as Christians. Without it, our faith is meaningless. The Apostle Paul said, "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and [our] faith is also vain."5
In all the history of the world there have been many great and wise souls, many of whom claimed special knowledge of God. But when the Savior rose from the tomb, He did something no one had ever done. He did something no one else could do. He broke the bonds of death, not only for Himself but for all who have ever lived—the just and the unjust.6
When Christ rose from the grave, becoming the firstfruits of the Resurrection, He made that gift available to all. And with that sublime act, He softened the devastating, consuming sorrow that gnaws at the souls of those who have lost precious loved ones.
I think of how dark that Friday was when Christ was lifted up on the cross.
On that terrible Friday the earth shook and grew dark. Frightful storms lashed at the earth.
Those evil men who sought His life rejoiced. Now that Jesus was no more, surely those who followed Him would disperse. On that day they stood triumphant.
On that day the veil of the temple was rent in twain.
Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were both overcome with grief and despair. The superb man they had loved and honored hung lifeless upon the cross.
On that Friday the Apostles were devastated. Jesus, their Savior—the man who had walked on water and raised the dead—was Himself at the mercy of wicked men. They watched helplessly as He was overcome by His enemies.
On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled.
It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.
I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world's history, that Friday was the darkest.
But the doom of that day did not endure.
The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.
And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, stood before them as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence.
Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.
But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.
No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.
I testify to you that the Resurrection is not a fable. We have the personal testimonies of those who saw Him. Thousands in the Old and New Worlds witnessed the risen Savior. They felt the wounds in His hands, feet, and side. They shed tears of unrestrained joy as they embraced Him.
After the Resurrection, the disciples became renewed. They traveled throughout the world proclaiming the glorious news of the gospel.
Had they chosen, they could have disappeared and returned to their former lives and occupations. In time, their association with Him would have been forgotten.
They could have denied the divinity of Christ. Yet they did not. In the face of danger, ridicule, and threat of death, they entered palaces, temples, and synagogues boldly proclaiming Jesus the Christ, the resurrected Son of the living God.
Many of them offered as a final testimony their own precious lives. They died as martyrs, the testimony of the risen Christ on their lips as they perished.
The Resurrection transformed the lives of those who witnessed it. Should it not transform ours?
We will all rise from the grave. And on that day my father will embrace my mother. On that day I will once again hold in my arms my beloved Elisa.
Because of the life and eternal sacrifice of the Savior of the world, we will be reunited with those we have cherished.
On that day we will know the love of our Heavenly Father. On that day we will rejoice that the Messiah overcame all that we could live forever.
Because of the sacred ordinances we receive in holy temples, our departure from this brief mortality cannot long separate relationships that have been fastened together with cords made of eternal ties.
It is my solemn testimony that death is not the end of existence. "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."7 Because of the risen Christ, "death is swallowed up in victory."8
Because of our beloved Redeemer, we can lift up our voices, even in the midst of our darkest Fridays, and proclaim, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"9
When President Hinckley spoke of the terrible loneliness that comes to those who lose the ones they love, he also promised that in the quiet of the night a still, unheard voice whispers peace to our soul: "All is well."
I am grateful beyond measure for the sublime true doctrines of the gospel and for the gift of the Holy Ghost, which has whispered to my soul the comforting and peaceful words promised by our beloved prophet.
From the depths of my sorrow, I have rejoiced in the glory of the gospel. I rejoice that the Prophet Joseph Smith was chosen to restore the gospel to the earth in this last dispensation. I rejoice that we have a prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, who directs the Lord's Church in our day.
May we understand and live in thanksgiving for the priceless gifts that come to us as sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father and for the promise of that bright day when we shall all rise triumphant from the grave.
That we may always know that no matter how dark our Friday, Sunday will come is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1. See Alma 11:43.2. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith (1998), 91.3. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (1982), 45.4. Alma 11:45.5. 1 Corinthians 15:14.6. See John 5:28–29.7. 1 Corinthians 15:19.8. 1 Corinthians 15:54.9. 1 Corinthians 15:55.

Sound link: http://lds.org/conference/sessions/display/0,5239,23-1-646,00.html (click on Sunday Will Come by Joseph B Wirthlin in the Sunday Afternoon Session

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I survived Black Friday.

I dunno why they call it Black Friday cuz I was the ONLY black person out there at least in the line I was in. This year was the first time I participated in the tradition called Black Friday. I've heard horror stories about the madness to being out in the freezing cold in a line that goes down to the corner around the block and into the next county all in hopes of getting that $9,000. electronic-gadget-whachama-whozit-thingy on sale for $9.95!you're the 175th person in line and the store only has 8 of them but you are hopeful, it's Christmas time!

My brother survived Black Friday 2007 and coached me on all the ropes as to what I should and should not do and how to prepare. He gave me 1 bit of troubling information: "You should probably camp out in line the night before starting at about 6pm Thanksgiving Day." What the...?

Now that I think about it, it wasn't that troubling, I'm always up for an adventure. I do so LOVE camping and hadn't had the chance to go all summer. My only concern was the cold. I have a low cold tolerance and it was supposed to be 29 degrees with a 10% chance of rain

Out of the mouth of my best friend "WJ".... "I can be wet or I can be cold, but I CANNOT be wet AND cold." I love winter but my body doesn't. I break out in hives if I get too cold even if it's summer and the lake water is nice and cold. Well I decided I was going to do this, so I needed to be prepared. My biggest challege would be lack of sleep. I only slept about 3 hours the night before Thanksgiving and I started the week with a head cold and sinusitis. AUGH!

My day went very quickly on Thanksgiving, next thing I knew it was 3:00 and we were eating. Well they were eating, I sampled so much while I was cooking I wasn't hungry so I cleaned up the kitchen a bit. Next thing I knew it was 5:00 and I wanted to be in line by 6pm, 7 at the latest. I had arranged to go down in line with a friend, she and I wanted the same items. I also had a 2nd friend who was interested in the item. But his history is one of being flakey so we didn't really plan on him. about 5:30 I layed down to take a power nap and slept for about 30 min. 6:00 came I put on a layer of long underwear, sock, a thermal undershirt, a sweat hoodie, a fleece hoodie my Michigan beanie and a pair of fabulous boots I'd purchased a couple weeks before. I grabbed one of the 4 tents I own, a lawn chair, sleeping bag, personal dvd player, cold meds, herbal remedies, packed them in a cooler with water and some food to munch on and headed off to get in line

My store of choice:

BEST BUY. My gadget of choice an HP laptop! Normally $616 on sale for $349. But wait, there's more! There's always more! They've added a Canon 3 in 1 Printer/Scanner/Copier for free! Nope, no joking. I'm starting a small business and need a lap top as part of the business will require me to do presentations from a laptop. This lap top was plan "A." There were too other lap tops that would serve as plan B and C however they were a couple hundred more than I wanted to spend even at their great prices.

I got there a little later than expected, just around 6:30. I pull into the parking lot and there was a camper and a few cars, not too many. There were 3 tents set up already with people I learned later who had been camping out since Wednesday. There were a group of teenagers playing basket ball. Someone brought a hoop and set it up in the parking lot. And there was a card table with a group around it playing poker.

The line wasn't too bad there were about 40 people ahead of me, counting all their children. There was a nip in the air already. I parked my car grabbed my gear and headed toward the back of line and got there just ahead of a couple of guys who also had a tent and some other gear. I started putting up the tent when Erin arrived with her gear as well. I got a little frustrated because my phone began to ring for what felt like non-stop for about 45 minutes. Suddenly friends and family were calling and wanting to know if I could get them this or that so they wouldnt have to be in line all night. I got hightly irritated:I was gonna be out in the cold all night with no sleep, being sick, had sprained my MCL early August and still use a knee brace for it, AND at midnight it would be my birthday. None of those who wanted anything offered to come and hang out, keep us company, bring a hot drink, extra blanket or quick snack. I probably wouldn't have minded so much if they weren't so expectant to reap the rewards of our effort and not even give regnition to the effort.

I think I was mostly irritated because I chose to keep answering my phone in the midst of putting up a tent and the wind was biting. I told the 2 guys in front of me I was going to have them answer my phone for me while I tried to put up the tent.

Although my house was just under 5 miles away. My Sister and our friend Travis offered to keep us company and be on call to bring provisions. They bought us a pitcher of hot water for our thermoses of hot chocolate. They also brought extra sleeping bags. My daughter who also volunteered to be on call came and brought some things as well.

Lyn & Erin

She came a few minutes after I did with a 2nd camping chair and 2 thermoses for hot liquids. She left rather quickly as she would be the one mainly on call throughout the night so she was going to catch some winks.

Well the night actually went by Very quickly, at least for me. After Erin arrived and we get the tent set up we were ready for the long haul! Erin broughtknitting, a book to read, Peach pie and her army cot. I had crocheting, and grabbed the couple of things to put in my cooler for dinner.

About 9 or so I had my sister Lyn and our friend Travis bring my personal DVD Player and the 2 latest Harry Potter episodes. They also brought some boiling water so we could delve into the can of hot chocolate Erin had. When it got too cold we lined the tent with our blankets and sleeping bags, crawled inside and is was so comfy and warm! Danielle stopped by and hung out for a few. We were laughing and talking I don't think I would have been too much more comfortable at home!

Dannielle & Travis

They guys in the tent behind us had a heater and we could hear them watching episodes of home improvement and I think they had some Grease or some Grease parody going on. Since our tents were pretty much sharing the same area we could hear them quite well. We decided they were pretty cool and even funny as we overheard some of their conversations (sorry guys!)
The Y'z Guyz

We labled them the Y'z Guy'z cuz they had on beanies from BYU. I made sure my Michigan beanie and blanket were in full display. They Y'z guyz started out with just 2 of them .I think they were brothers. Their group would later turn into 4 and I think "Dad" was one of the 4. I took a picture of them because Erin was trying to get a pic of them with their camera but it didnt work so I offered to take it and email it to them.

My Heroes

Our friends Jason was supposed to be camping out with his wife and kids at a Sears the next county south of ours so we were communicating back and forth via text/cellphones. They wanted a frontload washer dryer combination on bargain for 599$. About 11 or so, He called me and asked my whereabouts.out side the tents. So he came on is a well. With the hot chocolate and the conversation we were all quite warm. For me it hadn't felt like we had already been out there 6 hours. I figured he was just curious to see if I had given up. Suddenly I'm hearing him in Stereo. Jason

and he's outside my tent. He came up just to hang out for the night and possibly see what deal he could find on this end of the vally. With the hot chocolate and the conversation we were all quite warm. For me it hadn't felt like we had already been out there 6 hours. Danielle left early because she had work at the bank Friday Morning. She left Erin and I with "Toastie Tootsies." They're air activated foot warmers you stick in your shoes. Lyn left with the hot water and a thermos that broke, luckily travis had a spare thermos we could use. Jason had his wife and kids tucked in the car out of the elements. He decided to hang out 3 stores down and Jump in the Target line while there were only 7 people in it. Erin and I settled in and started watching Harry Potter 4.

I had dozed off and Erin was waking me because the there was a shift in the line so we needed to move our gear forward to keep our place.

In front of us were a couple of cute high school boys. They only had camping chairs and a few blankets. I liked them, the were well behaved and were asking us most of the night if we needed help with anything . We watched their stuff while they took their breaks or left the line.

I gave one of my toastie tootsies to one of them. He had on a sweatshirt and a couple of blankets and he mostly jammed to his music on his mp3 all night long.


The other was more social. He made pals with some of the kids at the front of the line playing basket ball and poker. He even helped calm down a situation with another wasted kid that could have gotten pretty ugly. He took him for a walk in the parking lot to cool him down. I was impressed with both of these young men. In my mind I refer to them as dimples and the peace maker!

Peace Maker

Just before handing the tickets out The manager came out and explained how things work. We were intructed to put all of our tents and cots and other big items away so things would flow easier.

About 3 or so the line started getting restlest. What happens is the managers and staff come out with tickets for the doorbuster items. They start at the beginning of the line and ask who wants a ticket for "such and such " item. And they continue down the line until all the tickets are gone. So the folks at the end of the line have like ZIPPO chance of getting a ticket for the item they want. Sad thing is you can't purchase "such and such" item at the bargain cost without a ticket.

The jackasses at the front of the line get tickets for everything and then try to sell the tickets to the folks at the front of the line. I call it greedy and selfish. Im sure they call it the American way. Some guy started his ticket selling at $40 bucks. The ameture teenies were selling theres for $5 and $10. I had plan A-C. If what I really wanted ran out of tickets before it got to myself and Eric, then we would upgrade to the next lap top or the next one. Then we decided if nothing else we could purchase items at the gargain cost and cell them on Ebay so the night wouldn't be a total loss. For me it was a great experience anyway so no total lost. There were tickets for Xboxes, Wii's, Desk tops for $500, Laptops for 300, Digital camera's for $60... you get the picture. And these are GOOD items, not no name items.

TheYz Guyz helped us move our tent earlier and also helped us break it down and kept our place in line as we packed our gear and took it back to our car.

It began to rain and get windy after the tents were all put away. OF COURSE! I was still pretty warm. I actually didn't get chilly til about 30 min before the door was opened and at that point I still wasn't uncomfortable.

Erin and I had tickets for our option B and C. About 20 min before the doors were to open up some guy sold his stack of tickets for $8. I guess people got start and quit buying them so the people at the end of the line were stuck with a bunch of tickets no one was really buying after a while and when it got wet and windy they just wanted to go home or get comfortable instead of trying to pan handle money in the cold and rain. One of the Y'z Guyz bought the stack. There was probably 25 tickets. They were able to get the tickets they needed for what they wanted. Then they had Erin and I go through and there were 2 ticket for our Plan A item! Can I just tell you I LOVE THE Y'Z GUYZ? And when they got what they needed they didn't sell the rest of the tickets they gave them away. I also gave away my Plan B and C tickets to the folks at the back of the line.

Now it was just a matter of going in, getting the gear and getting home. Sounds easy enough right?

WRONG! When you walk in, there are colored arrows on the floor. If your ticket is blue, you follow the blue arrows, if it's green you follow the green arrows. I asked for the yellow brick road and ended up in the purple line. Sadly enough there was no cheese at the end of the maze either

The purple line was the line for all Computers. Erin was toward the front of the line but came back to stand with me. We were STILL relatively at the front of the line which masqueraded like a carnival ride at Six Flags, Lagoon, Cedar Point or some other amusement park. This is how the line was looking behind me. You can't see much of it because it bends, twists and turns like the snake river.

This was the purple line for the computers. They had some sort of S.L.O.W system going on. I got home about 6:45-ish. The doors opened at 5 so that was being in line almost 2 hours after camping out 11 hours. I didn't really get tired until I got home and fixed a plate of Thanksgiving dinner from the night before. Then I crashed until just before Noon.

My "sista" was calling to tell me her daughter was in labor and they hadn't figured the baby to be born on MY Birthday. In my slumbering I had forgotten it was my birthday! I was born on my cousin Paul Warfield's birthday. (yeah, the one who played in the 1972 Miami Dolphins championship). My Nephew Devan was born on my birthday 15 years ago :)

And yesterday Amari was born on Devan's birthday. I know, my family is calling me greedy and selfish claming all the kids on my day.

For the most part I thoroughly enjoyed myself out there in the Parking Lot of Best Buy. It was a fun experience. Today I'm mostly in bed resting hoping I can run this cold outta me by the end of the weekend and catching up on sleep. But if ever I feel the need to venture into the World of Black Friday door busters, although the best things can't be bought, I'd do it again.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yeah, I'm cheating! This is a repost from last year. Many of you enjoyed it and some of you have never read it. Anyway, if you want to read a different message then you can find it posted on my other blog which actually kind of goes hand in hand with this post:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Each day is another year gone by and each year is another landmark in our lives.We focus on certain land marks such as births, deaths, anniversaries and other various events with monumental meaning, forgetting the greatness of each day.

When I wake up do I look around and focus on what’s right in my life or what’s wrong? Have I piled up walls around me of the bad and negative things and imprisioned myself by it each day? Have I given in to Lucifer’s invitation to anger, depression, hopelessness, contention, pride, and sadness or have I chosen to surround myself with the goodness and positives that encourage my own goodness, hope, joy and love?

The sun rises and sets each day, regardless if I see it or not. Some days the Sun’s rays are blocked by heaven’s clouds and some days the Sun’s rays are blocked by my own clouds. Recently I’ve found strength in know that although there are days I may not see the sun and it‘s light , or feel it’s warmth, I KNOW the sun is there. Sometimes its minutes before the sun appears and sometimes its days. But I know its’ there and soon I will see it’s brightness and feel it’s warmth. I only need to be patient and wait. While I wait, I do those things that keep me patient until I can see the light and feel the warmth of the sun again: I wear warm clothing to protect me from the cold. I use lights and other things to help me see and to guide my way throughout the day so the visual absence of the sun doesn’t hinder my everyday life. Doing these things gives me comfort, patience, peace, love and it sustains me.

Each day by focusing on the things that give me comfort, peace and love it seems to attract and increase more of those things. (Is this what is meant by “The Law of Attraction?”) And those things of a negative, depressing nature seem to fade. And it’s not that they really disappear, they just sort of fade away to a point where their importance has diminished greatly and they become easier and less tedious to deal with. I’m anxious to deal with them so those things can be replaced with something more positive.

Take some time this Thanksgiving to think about those things that give you patience, peace and love. Seek them out daily to sustain you, until the sun begins to shine again in your life. You may not always feel it, you may not always see it, but know that the sun is ALWAYS there. There are always things to be grateful for each day and focusing on them will create even more things to be grateful for each day. I promise :)

Homework: Find my playlist and pause it. Now go back and reread this and replace the meaning of "The Sun" with "THE Son"

And have a BEAUTIFUL Day and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Big Brother, Little Sister Moments

Big Brother, Little Sister Moments
Hand in Hand


I earned some temporary wings!