Author Archive

03 May 2010 Outward Appearance
 |  Category: Family, Inspirational  | 3 Comments

This post originated as a comment to Mrs. Smith.  However, as I continued I realized I didn’t want to hijack her post or blog, so I posted my comment here and provided a link.

1) Hah!  I married up, not you.

2) I see a strong, positive correlation to your description above and comparison between (a) humanity and (b) God:

(a) Humanity focuses on the trivial “outward appearance” (1 Sam. 16:7).  How to prevent war?  More armaments!  How to be attractive?  More make-up (which sounds too much like “make believe” so we call it cosmetics)!  How to be fashionable?  More toys (cars, clothing, homes, etc)!  Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Humanity does not, cannot, and will not ever get to the things that really matter because the things that matter are not the outward ones.

(b) As indicated in Samuel, God looks upon, and works from, the inside.  The problem of cleaning, organizing, and governing a home will never occur from the “surface in” – the true change comes from the inside out.  To properly organize a home requires that it be “de-junked.”

While true for home organization, the principle applies elsewhere.  In spiritual terms – the things that matter most – our lives must be de-junked, too.  All the profane, useless, self-defeating, crud must be removed to allow for the “cleanliness, order, simplicity, function, [and] beauty” of our true selves, our true potential, and true destinies as divine Sons and Daughters of God  to come forth (How Firm a Foundation, 85, v. 5).  The Holy Spirit, powered by the Atonement, changes our inner selves – our very natures – to something else: the image of Christ.  It only happens from the inside –> out.

The world would take people out of the slums.  Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums.  The world would mold men by changing their environment.  Christ changes men, who then change their environment.  The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature (Ezra Taft Benson, “Born of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6).

09 Apr 2010 Law of the Harvest
 |  Category: Inspirational  | 3 Comments

I’ve recently recognized that one of the adversary’s most frequently used tactics – quite successfully, too! – is perversion of the “Law of the Harvest.”  Said law essentially states that you reap that which you sow.  For instance, an apple will produce apples.  Makes sense, right?  Similarly, if you sow effective study habits, you’ll reap a better educational experience.

In both spiritual and temporal contexts, the adversary twists and distorts the Law of the Harvest to serve his purposes, as evidenced by what we colloquially call “instant gratification” or “gimme-it-now-itis.”

The Law indicates that if I sow unhealthy eating habits – i.e. excessive calories – I will reap excessive weight.  Satan seeks to manipulate us by obfuscating the  Law through introduction of something foreign, such as liposuction or so-called “miracle weight loss” pills.  Whereas the Law is absolute: if you want less weight (reaping) you must adhere to the Law that governs weight (sowing).  To do otherwise is contrary to eternal principles and ultimately will lead to negative effects, regardless of how “effective” the deceptive weight loss practice proves.

Likewise for money.  If you want to be wealthy you must sow the behavior(s) and thoughts (i.e. adherence to the Law) that governs financial independence.  Reliance on the lottery, the government, or other method(s) to generate wealth are a gross violation of the Law of the Harvest.

In spiritual terms, if I want to acquire Godly attributes, I must sow the appropriate seed(s).  It’s inconsistent with divine principles and patterns to expect, or even hope, for Godly attributes in my life without adherence to the Law that governs such attributes (a.k.a. blessings).

No wonder the adversary is so focused on perversion of the Law, since it governs every aspect of our lives.

23 Oct 2009 Lord’s tender mercies
 |  Category: Family  | 2 Comments

Mrs. Smith wrote an entry about tender mercies of the Lord and I feel to document one such experience I had yesterday – the same day as Mrs. Smith’s, in fact.  I actually had two “tender mercy” instances yesterday, and will share the first.

Background: Everyone knows it’s bad to look at the sun directly, right? So what’s the next best thing? Clouds! When the sun is behind a cloud but near its edge, the sky is lit with brilliant, dazzlingly bright light like lightning, but which lasts long enough to enjoy. I can’t imagine a brighter, more representative brilliance of His glory – without translation to withstand His glory, anyway – than the radiance of those moments.

Similarly, when those brilliant moments are accompanied with sunbeams, it invokes imagery of God’s benevolence, that His smile pierces all things and illuminates the world, but especially the location of the sunbeam’s ground track.

If I were an artist, I could likely spend my entire lifetime trying to capture those moments, and yet find myself unable to engender the thrill they infuse into my soul.

Experience: Yesterday moring I witnessed – and experienced – His light and smile descend from the heavens and pierce my soul.

Driving South down I-15 the overcast clouds began to part near the mountains. As the rising sun neared the clouds’ edge, the light increased – it seemed the sky itself would burst into flame for the light’s intensity! Finally, when it seemed the mountain tops – capped with snow, which further enhanced the brilliance – would begin to melt under the fervent light and heat, the sunlight shone through in a magnificent sunbeam that illuminated much of the Salt Lake valley.

Continuing down I-15 the sunbeam seemed to move South with me and caused me to greatly marvel at the majesty of the Lord’s creations and handiwork. Slowly the clouds closed and, to my surprise, another sunbeam appeared to the South, though this time much smaller. Instead of a large ground track over the valley, this one began on the top of the mountains and moved a little West until it rested squarely on the Draper Temple. Though clouds moved and swirled around, as I continued South I seemed to maintain relative positioning with the clouds such that the sunbeam remained focused on the Temple.

As I neared the Bangerter exit, the sunbeam shifted and headed West toward my vehicle. At the moment I exited I-15 heading West – away from the Temple – I perceived the sunbeam reached me because I felt the radiant warmth and light as my eyes adjusted. I perceived no shift in shadows from cars ahead 500-1000ft, nor signs or objects to the sides. Near as I could tell, the sunbeam was focused exclusively on my vehicle as I drove a few thousand feet down the Highway until, presumably, the clouds over the mountain closed and the sunbeam retreated.

Words cannot describe nor express my thoughts and feelings as I drove down I-15, culminating in the light that infused my vehicle and soul. I perceived His closeness and His smile that pierced my soul’s core, and brought sweet assurance that although others witnessed the meteorological events, the experience was a personal gift that is mine alone to treasure.

Allow me to further attest that my experience, though personal, is not unique: He doesn’t love me uniquely, but is certainly willing to provide such personal experiences and “tender mercies” to all His children.

05 Aug 2009 chicken warden
 |  Category: Family  | No Comments

Doodle – our middle child – is officially the chickens’ warden.  Anytime they’re out of their coop they tend to wander into the garden (not that I blame them, really) and need to be herded elsewhere.  “Doodle, the chickens are in the garden.”  “OK, Dad, I’ll get them out” is his cheerful reply before dashing off to extricate the birds from our yummy goodness, usually with a pole, stick, or something else to increase his reach.  Hopefully he’ll prove equally capable with younger siblings as their mobility increases.

Now, if only we could successfully teach him to round up his toys and other items when done using them, we’d be in good shape.

01 Aug 2009 Highland Fling
 |  Category: Family  | No Comments

Today was the City of Highland’s annual “fling” (celebration of the City’s founding).  We went last year and decided to attend this year with Mrs. Smith’s parents again.

We first went to the SLC airport to pick up Opa (Grandpa), Mrs. Smith’s father.  Although the morning was a bit rocky – the kids would not listen – by this time they’d mostly settled down.  “Daddy, I see an airplane blast off-ing!”  Followed shortly thereafter by, “Hey, look, there’s the United States Flag of America!”  Mrs. Smith and I enjoyed a brief chuckle; not the normal word order, perhaps, effective nonetheless to describe the departure and U.S. flag.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon at the Highland fling.  The kids enjoyed huge cotton candies (thanks Opa!) which they willingly shared with all… including Eagle, who discovered he did not like it when his hands and face were completely covered in cobwebby, pink, spun strands of melted sugar.  That is, until I showed him that he could just suck it right off his fingers – then he wasn’t too upset.

Note to self, though: if we do that again next year, let’s limit the kids’ sugar intake.  Perhaps letting them eat “sugary ceral” (read: code for all sorts of non-mother-approved cereals) for breakfast wasn’t my brightest idea ever.  Oh well.

As always faithful reader, see Mrs. Smith’s blog for photos.

24 Jul 2009 At the Grandparents
 |  Category: Family, Inspirational  | No Comments

We’re at Mrs. Smith’s grandparents’ farm this week.  They live in a small town in Idaho (Payette) and have an orchard.  Usually there are lots of fruits to be picked but, unfortunately, there’s little fruit this year because of late frosts, excessive magpies, and such.  It’s kind of weird because we usually help pick cherries, peaches, and other delectable fruits for resale from the farm… this year, though, there’s so little it’s heart-breaking.  🙁

For the faithful reader, this will be the first mention on my blog: last week, July 19th, I was sustained, ordained, and set apart as the Bishop of my Ward (for those unfamiliar with LDS terminology, a Ward [and Branch] is the smallest unit within a geographical make-up for the Church; Wards are units within a Stake [Branch is similiar to a Ward and is a unit within a District], and each District & Stake are included within some geographical region; although the smallest geographical area, in my mind it represents the place where the proverbial rubber meets the road, as it’s at the Ward level that individuals meet, commune, worship God, associate, live, love, learn, and experience pain – together).

I’m over-awed with the awesome (and by that I mean crushing, huge, massive, scary – not ‘cool’) responsibilities imposed on Bishops in their meager attempts to love and serve those individuals within their local geographical boundaries.  Nonetheless I thank the Lord (a) that He trusts me sufficiently, (b) provides supporting local members, (c) has given me a magnificent wife and family, and (d) has high expectations of what our Ward should – and will, God willing – be.

I hope to not let Him or those same supportive local members down!

08 Jul 2009 Cutest family ever
 |  Category: Family  | 2 Comments

The normal daily routine (Mon-Fri, anyway) is that the kids/wife wake up just a bit before I head out the door for work.  We read scriptures, pray, and they each get a hug/kiss before I leave.  Then as I’m walking away, Cinderalla and/or Doodle often wave at the window, come outside and wave/yell, and sometimes go out to the sidewalk waving and yelling until I’m essentially a speck in the distance – or until I stop turning around and waving back, anyway.  Well, one day last week my cute family decided to shake things up a bit.

The morning proceeded normally: showever, shave, breakfast, scriptures, prayer, hugs & kisses, adios.  This time, though, it wasn’t enough.  Standing at the bus stop – roughly 100 yards away – I look over at the house, where Doodle and Cinderalla are still waving, and I see Eagle tear out of the yard and start toddling over to me.  Mind you, there’s a busy road next to the sidewalk (we have a fence to keep the kids in, which is normally closed) and you must cross an intersection to get to the bus stop.  Naturlich, I’m worried about Eagle and start to walk towards home.  I’m comforted to see Mrs. Smith follow a few seconds later, though, so I figure everything is under control.

Well, Eagle was apparently not to be deterred from his objective.  He rather quickly toddled over the 100 yards – all of the kids sans shoes (no glass, fortunately!) – and gave me another hug & kiss.  The other kids, both of whom arrived before Eagle, also provided additional hugs and kisses.

Instead of my lonely wait at the bus stop, the whole family gathered until the bus came and then waved as I boarded the bus and we drove away.  Some other passengers commented on the adorable family and how much they love their daddy to come out there.

It filled my soul with gladness and was, to me, one of the “tender mercies” of the Lord that He’s given me a loving wife and children.  Hopefully I will be worthy of such devotion.

08 Jul 2009 04:05:06 07/08/09 – Where were you?
 |  Category: Family, Miscellaneous  | No Comments

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I actually got to witness the unfolding events this morning during a historical time. Specifically, at 04:05:06, 07/08/09 this morning (a date/time combination not to occur for another 1,000 years) I was awake, experiencing the second-long moment.

Of course, I was changing a child’s diaper at the time – so I wished I hadn’t been in the moment – but nonetheless, now I’ve experienced life to the fullest. How does it get any better?  ;p

What were you doing during your second?

16 Apr 2009 Utah Tea Time
 |  Category: Politics  | No Comments

Yesterday was April 15th – the notorious income tax day throughout the United States.  The day when the unconstitutional – aka illegal – income tax is rammed down our collective throats federally and, for most Americans, at the state level, too (though States’ Constitutions differ and such an income tax may be legal, dependent on your State of residence).

In conjunction with several other so-called “Tea Party” rallies (reminiscent of the Boston Tea Party of early American history fame, naturally) across the country, I gathered with other citizens in a demonstration of discontentment with the current Presidential administration – and, to be fair, I’m equally (perhaps more so – Obama has time to “change” for the better still!) discontent with the prior several administrations – and the botched economy, and other critical issues.

Though, candidly, I could not hear what the speakers said for the most part, as I stood behind them under the federal building overhand – it was snowing, afterall – I enjoyed myself nonetheless.  Despite having been labeled by the Department of Homeland Security as a “rightwing extremist” (despite the peaceful, Constitutionally-protected gathering) only days prior, I appreciated the sanctity of the moment, that I live in a nation wherein such practices are permitted – at least until the Gestapo “changes” that.

I tagged around with my cousin who has taken to state-level politics like a fish to water.  She was kind enough to introduce me to several of her associates, including several State legislators, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, and others.  She has a desire – nay, passion – to make genuine improvements for the State and communities, not merely to politick.  Though we don’t live remotely in the same legislative districts, I hope that if – or, rather, when – she chooses to run for office, that she receives the support she deserves and wins!

My own political involvement has been on low simmer since my 2006 Congressional campaign (WA, 7th district).  Though I remain informed with current affairs, I’ve distanced myself from the so-called pavement, having been focused instead on several other efforts (finished my Masters, working on a Ph.D, in my local congregational Bishopric, on the South Salt Lake City Planning Commission, et cetera).  At the rally, though, I felt the simmer wanting to boil, though – it was fun, and I wasn’t truly involved!  My passion is centered on federal issues still, but I remain interested in local and State politics.

16 Apr 2009 Starburst flavored jelly beans
 |  Category: Family, Miscellaneous  | No Comments

OK, so I tend to be the type of person that grabs a (small) handful of candies and pops them into the mouth at the same time.  I don’t have a well developed sense of taste – which I’m sure is because I have fewer taste buds than average, and not because of my eating habits – and so I figure they’ll all taste the same anyway, so why bother eating them one at a time.

My wife has proven me wrong.  Who knew – besides her – that starburst jelly beans do in fact taste different, that each of the various colors (yellow, green, pink, purple, orange, red, and maybe others) correspond with a specific flavor.  I didn’t believe her at first.  She put two of the same kind in my mouth at a time and you know what?  I, the taste loser, could distinguish different flavors!

In fact, before our experimentation was through I was able to close my eyes, eat one, and correctly identify the color jelly bean I consumed based off its flavor.  Perhaps this milestone in my life doesn’t mean as much to others, but for me it was quite the eye-opener.

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