05 Mar 2009 Hushing one’s fears
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So a few months back I read something in the book of Mosiah, in the Book of Mormon, which has stuck with me and I think of from time to time.  It takes place shortly after Alma (the Elder, a Nephite Prophet), leads a few hundred souls away from the wicked King Noah’s clutches.  Alma refuses the people’s voice desirous that he should be their King, continuing instead “merely” as the High Priest.

Alma also admonishes the people that it’s not good to have a King because of the great wickedness a King may cause the people to commit (unless it could be guaranteed the King would always be righteous, which is never the King when not dealing with God as the King).  Alma has some great words on the subject: “I desire that ye should stand fast in that liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you” (Mosiah 23:13).  Alma exhorts them to many things pertaining to their freedom, all of which I commend to the reader and which is something worthy of considerable discussion in its own right.  But that’s not the part I wanted to discuss tonight.

Reading along farther, starting in verse 25, the Lamanite army, lost after seeking Limhi’s people, stumbles across Alma and his followers in their city of Helam.  Naturally, the Nephites fled from the adjoining fields into the relative safety of the city.  Mormon records that they were “much afrightened” because of the Lamanites (verse 26).

With faith in an omnipotent God at his side, Alma boldly exhorts them “that they should not be frightened, but that they should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them” (verse 27, emphasis added).  How did the people respond?  This is the part I love – for some reason I still don’t understand yet it speaks to my soul:

“Therefore, they hushed their fears, and began to cry unto the Lord” (verse 28, emphasis added).  The citizens responded with equal boldness and faith in their Lord, and Priesthood leader, that He would in fact preserve them if they but excercised sufficient faith.  And, as always, the Lord responded according to their faith and their lives were spared.

I think the lesson is equally applicable in our lives.  Although I don’t live in a war zone (and I recognize many Saints around the world do!), I can likewise hush my fears and exercise faith in the Lord’s (a) capacity, (b) desire, and (c) willingness to bless my life.  Whether it’s fears about being a poor father, inadequacies in my calling, temperment, love toward others, et cetera, I can likewise “hush” my fears and trust the Lord to step in with His grace.

OK, so it’s not likely a huge eye opener for anyone -nor, really, for me- but there’s something about the way it’s documented, perhaps even the poetry of the statement to “hush” one’s fears (and I’m not into poetry!), something just makes me tingle.

25 Feb 2009 Still alive
 |  Category: Inspirational, Miscellaneous  | No Comments

So, it’s been some time now since I’ve written.  Alas, fear not my faithful reader – I mean, readers! – I am still here.  In fact, I think I’ve resolved to use this blog as an opportunity to record insights I get during the day about whatever, though I expect much of it may be spiritual in nature.  The Lord’s Prophets repeatedly counsel that we should keep a journal.  Moreover, as pertains to revelation, we should record thoughts, impressions, and insights as they occur: (a) so we’ll remember them, (b) so we can refer to them later when “a” no longer applies; (c) it shows the Lord that we think it important, which (d) prepares us to receive additional insigh and revelation.

So, I will attempt to do that more as I come across things and, hopefully, document some prior things.  They’ll generally be categorized as ‘spiritual’ for easy reference, though there may be other occasional categories included.

Happy reading.

03 Jan 2009 Great Day
 |  Category: Miscellaneous  | 2 Comments

What a great couple of days it’s been.  Mrs. Smith already hilighted how great yesterday was, so I’ll mention today only.  First off, the kids woke up happy.  Wahoo!  Yesterday when the kids got up, they decided they wanted some yogurt (oh, important plot element – Mrs. Smith and I were still in bed and though awake, barely, we {poorly?} elected to remain in bed) and proceeded to eat five yogurt containers… on top of the space heater in the front room… leaving the unfinished containers on it where small Eagle hands greedily found them and promptly consumed them… or attempted to, but most of it was found dripping onto the rug, down the sides of the heater, and matter into his hair (which never smelled fruitier!).

So, this morning, instead, Doodle was very clear to tell me that he wanted some yogurt, but that he was only going to get one yogurt (which he repeated about 100 times as I’m groggily enjoying my Saturday morning, bless his big heart).  Having been urged thus by my children to awaken, I got up, took Eagle with me, and left Mrs. Smith to slumber on peacefully, which she did for some time (yay!).  We had some cereal and good times in the morning.

Later in the afternoon we went to Sugarhouse park with the Tolleys, friends that live nearby, and went sledding – wahoo!  I’ve not been sledding in a long time and, believe it or not interested reader, I’ve never been sledding with my kids before!  Ever.  Thought we had some near misses and collisions amongst ourselves, and from other enthusiastic children, we managed to come back home sans injury, but with big smiles, appetites, and somewhat cranky kids (they were hungry and tired, after all).  We fed them some old, moldy, crusty bread (well, it wasn’t old anyway) and sent them off to take naps.

Of course, they didn’t take naps, but they did remain mostly quiet upstairs which is as good as it gets without direct divine intervention.  Doodle came down eventually, “stealthily” snitched some crackers and retreated back upstairs.  He came down a bit after and again “quietly” grabbed some more, presumably for his directing sister (or possibly his grumbly tummy).

Afterwards we had a great dinner (thanks Mrs. Smith) and then decided that since the kids watched Prince Caspian last night, it would be OK if they watched The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe tonight.  Both Cinderalla and Doodle had to go give Mrs. Smith a big hug, kiss, and tell her “Mom, you’re the best – I’ll love you forever” which they gleefully and anxiously did!  🙂

So we popped a couple tons of popcorn (OK, I admit it, I exaggerate at times – it was only one ton), turned on the projector, cranked up the surround sound, and immersed ourselves in the magical world of C. S. Lewis’ creation (with only occasional interruption for Eagle’s crying and kids’ potty breaks).

A little playtime afterwards, and sprinkled throughout the day, a bedtime story, comments of “You’re the best, dad” and “Dad, I love you” of course made this a glorious, happy day for the Smith family.

Don’t you wish you were a Smith, too?

31 Dec 2008 A Brand New Year
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Check out the blue widget on the side.  Mrs. Smith and I (together with the youth from our Ward) attended the celebration, “A Brand New Year” at the Conference Center.  It was awesome, and I’m pleased to include it for your perusal.

21 Dec 2008 Christmas Sunday
 |  Category: Miscellaneous  | 1 Comment

This morning poor Doodle woke up sick.  Bummer.  Not sure what’s wrong – he doesn’t have a fever, hasn’t vomited, and doesn’t complain about any specific pains.  But he’s assuredly not his usual “chipper,” energetic 3yr-old.  He woke up a couple times during the night and needed assistance (as he stood at the top of the stairs crying/screaming – at least the second time he followed my admonition and came downstairs to get me).  He, Eagle, and Mrs. Smith stayed home from Church today as a result, as well as Mrs. Smith’s grandmother’s house, who was going to watch the kiddies while we attended “Music and the Spoken Word.”

So, I went downtown to attend the musical Christmas broadcast at the Conference Center.  We took the youth of our ward down there.  I’m not sure if they all enjoyed it, but hey – they went… that’s more than I can say I likely wouild’ve done had our roles been reversed!  This was the Choir’s annual Christmas broadcast, so the Conference Center was ‘dolled up’ with festive decorations.  Surprisingly, President Monson attended the broadcast, too, so that was neat for the kids to get to see him (even if from a distance).  Some great music, I thought.  The concluding song was the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah which was, of course, spectacular.  President Monson, et al, stood up for that (which, according to Mrs. Smith, is “the way it’s supposed to be done ever since King so-and-so stood up for it when first played for him back in Handel’s day” – I’d never heard that before… any truth to it, readers?).

I picked up Cinderalla and headed to Church, which was a great outpouring of the Lord’s Spirit on His Saints (lots of capital letters in that sentence, goodness!).

Grrrr, the chilluns just came downstairs.  They’ve been thumping around up there for nearly an hour, which I don’t usually mind so long as they stay upstairs.  However, they haven’t.  Grrrr.  I won’t likely conclude the remainder of the day’s activities now, so suffice it to say it’s been a good day.  Too bad Doodle and Mrs. Smith are sick.  🙁

17 Dec 2008 YM going on a mission
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How sweet it is to see a young man with whom I worked going on a mission in a few weeks.  He’s headed to the Charlotte, North Carolina mission on Dec 31 (what a cool date to enter the MTC, IMO).  I take no credit for his decision.  I’m grateful that he’s a great guy, has concerned and involved parents, is a great example to his siblings, and that he has sought the Lord diligently in his life.  I’m honored to know him.  Best wishes for a safe, successful mission!

It’s funny… when the Game Farm Ward Bishop (Auburn, WA) asked me to be the Young Men’s President, I literally laughed out loud.  “Me, YM President?  I know the scriptures say that ‘Vengeance is [His] and [He] will repay’ and it’s time for payback.”  I was… how can I say this… a difficult youth, at times (most times, perhaps).  I’d served in many callings but none of them interacted with the youth since before my mission.  Naturally I agreed to the calling, but I felt overwhelmingly inadequate and ill-prepared for the responsibility (which feeling other perhaps shared!).

Nonetheless, I learned a lot from the boys and other leaders.  I had great times.  And, hopefully, I fulfilled whatever the Lord had in mind when I was called.  We moved to UT about a year later, so it wasn’t a lot of time to develop super-strong relationships with all the boys, but I’m grateful for the opportunity I had, short as it was.  I remember their individual names, faces, and think of them.  May the Lord continue to bless them.

10 Dec 2008 engagement ring story
 |  Category: Family  | Tag:  | 3 Comments

Alright. The other day I alluded to a great story about our favorite jeweler, Tony Bagdy. It’s time to document the story. Cue the music:

Some couples shop for rings together and others do it apart. In our case, we shopped for rings together. We got mine from Unicorn jewelry in Rancho Bernardo (San Diego), with which we were quite displeased. I don’t recommend their services or products to anyone. From that experience we went looking elsewhere and discovered Palomar Jewelers. While there Mrs. Smith located the ring. We ordered it to be her size and sometime thereafter I picked it up and proposed. Mrs. Smith elected to wear the whole thing, not merely the engagement band, because it was so nice which was fine with me.

Now, understand Mrs. Smith is not much of a jewelry person (yay!). She occasionally will wear something, but by and large she doesn’t rely on jewelry to enhance her physical features (yay!). Unfortunately, the byproduct of that is that when she washed her hands one night at an “Islands” restaurant, she took it off and failed to pick it back up. She discovered the ring’s absence a little later during the meal but the ring, by that point, was gone. She hunted through the trash, we had the U-drain checked, etc, but alas, no ring. Someone likely picked it up. 🙁

So, there we were: engaged and ringless. A few days later we stopped at a supermarket and plunked ~$5 into a toy machine trying to get a ring but, alas, no ring for us! Now we were ringless and $5 poorer – argh! So I went to Tony’s store, explained what happened, and requested a new one be created with the same design as it was the ring. When I went to pick up the ring several weeks later, Tony gave me a tremendous surprise: he charged us only for the band, not the precious stones (diamonds)!

First off, he certainly didn’t need to provide anything for free, yet he did. Secondly, the band is considerably cheaper than the diamonds, particularly since he specifically put in diamonds of better quality than what we originally purchased!

Think he got customers for life You betcha! Customer service may be a dying thing in many industries, but it’s alive and well at Palomar Jewelers!

10 Dec 2008 more training
 |  Category: Work  | Tag:  | No Comments

Another fun-filled day of Marklogic training. This time, though, I was able to participate a little more than last time (though not much). Most of the time was spent working issues that arose today, and others that needed follow-up given my absence for the last couple of weeks.

09 Dec 2008 vacation summation
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We’re back in SLC now.  We arrived home this morning at ~1:45am (got to sleep about 3am after getting the kids to bed, stuff out of the car, etc).  Vacations are great.  And, as I’ve told people, San Diego is a wonderful place – to visit.  Glad I don’t live there anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, the weather was nice, people were friendly, air was clear (no “Santa Ana” conditions while there, or brush fire smoke), beach was nice, etc.  But the expense and congestion, particularly on the roads?  Ick.  No thanks.

As for the rest of the trip, it was a blast.  After the evening with the J & J Smith family (and their pushy vaccum salesman), we met Mrs. Smith’s brother and his girlfriend for dinner (Mrs. Smith and the kids went to visit Aunt K., too, while I took my CA real estate broker exam – which I failed… remind me to study next time), and the next two days we visited Legoland (buy one day get 2nd day “free”).

The park was perfect for kids our ages.  Older kids (9+ I’d say) might have been bored as it’s a theme park geared toward a younger crowd.  But for our barely 36″ and just over 42″ kids, it was awesome.  And, given the unusual season, there were no crowds.  Our kids were able to repeat rides over, and over, and over (did I mention they did them over and over?), and over again without having to stop.

On Saturday we hung around the timeshare, met our favorite jeweler (great story for some other blog entry – if you’re in SoCal, I highly recommend Tony Bagdy’s jewelry shop!), and met with Mrs. Smith’s former music teachers and mentors, Martha Rossicker and Diane Geller.  Mrs. Smith was instructed in the “Kodaly” (pronounced Co-Die – go figure) music methodology (I may be incorrect in classifying Kodaly as a methodology – I don’t know; I’m sure Mrs. Smith will correct me as needed).

Sunday we went to the ward in which I grew up (or in which I aged, anyway – whether I “grew up” remains to be seen) and from which I departed for the mission field.  It was nice to see some of the old families from my youth, though there were a lot of new faces!  Afterwards we visited Mrs. Smith’s former piano teacher, Dale Warstadt, and had a great visit with her family.  And finally, we went to J & J Smith’s house again for dinner, some games, and creation and, shortly thereafter, the destruction and consumption of a traditional gingerbread house.

The next morning was spent cleaning/packing things for the road trip with Mrs. Smith’s bro who hitched a ride home for the holidays (yay! he was a big help with the kids in the car).  The trip was ~12.5hrs to drive.  Ugh.  There were four instances when we had to drop down to stop-n-go traffic due to traffic and Vegas afternoon construction.  And then from ~Cedar City to ~Nephi (in So. Utah) we had whiteout conditions.  Not fast, not fun.  Mrs. Smith woke up at one point when I went over the warning strip on the side of the freeway (I couldn’t see the road, afterall), and then decided she wasn’t going back to sleep.  She didn’t much like the whiteout.  Not a bad drive otherwise, though.  I listened to a book on tape (book three of a series by Lloyd Alexander, author of The Black Cauldron) and actually didn’t get sleepy throughout.

Nice to be back home, even though it was 46 degrees in the house (we turned off the heater while gone) and our waterbed was a bit above freezing (turned it off, too).  Brrrr.

02 Dec 2008 Temple, Jamba Juice, and a pushy salesman
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Today’s been a fun day.  After breakfast this morning, we left (well, when we left it was closer to lunch, but it was after breakfast after all) for the San Diego Temple.  We ate sandwiches on the Temple grounds, took some pictures, and the kids “played” with the various Nativity statues and animals on the Temple grounds.  One of the most exciting things, for us, is that we discovered a Visitor Center is planned – yay!  In my estimation, it’s something that’s been missing from this Temple for some time, given its proximity to the I-5 freeway, etc.

After there we went across the street to a Jamba Juice – the same one Mrs. Smith and I visited immediately after we were married.  When we finished pictures on the Temple grounds, following our marriage, we left immediately for our honeymoon (we did the reception when we returned a couple weeks later), we were hungry.  So we went across the street to Jamba Juice – Mrs. Smith still in her wedding dress and I still in my tuxedo.  Like the lovestruck kids we were, we’d not brought more than $5 cash – enough for one smoothie.  Fortunately, the employee gave us the ‘Just Married’ special and provided a buy-one-get-one-free offer – wahoo!  We waited for our smoothies, danced to whatever music was playing on their speakers, and delighted in our status as husband and wife.  😀

So, from there we went to the Birch Aquarium which is nice, but which unfortunately doesn’t compare to the Aquarium at Monterray Bay where Mrs. Smith and I vacationed a few years back (also with our WorldMark, The Club, timeshare resort).  From there we went to Mount Solldad, a federal war memorial, where I proposed to Mrs. Smith nearly six years ago now.  And then we stopped (where I am currently writing this, in fact), at my brother’s house.

We had just arrived, and I received the tour, when the doorbell rang — a Kirby vacuum salesman.  He offered to ‘quickly’ shampoo the carpet to provide a demonstration of its amazing abilities (he hasn’t gotten to it yet, but I’m sure that soon he’ll reveal it also makes Julian fries, doubles as a mini-Cooper, and solves so-called global warming).  Well, ~90 minutes later he’s still sitting downstairs doing the demonstration and started into the ‘pushy’ sales tactics we all know and love so much from in-home salesmen when my brother and his wife have rebuffed his sales efforts.  Oooh, overhearing the conversation, it just went into the emotional manipulative mode “Well, I obviously haven’t done a good job of convincing you about this vacuum if you’re not going to buy it…”  Nice.  To my sister-in-law’s credit, she and her husband have remained civil.  All the while dinner is now, for sure, quite cold on the stovetop.  Were it I, I’d likely have already agreed to it, signed the papers, kicked the guy out the door, and then relied on the 72hr right of recission (i.e. “cool down”) that’s federally guaranteed for in-home purchased products because of pushy salesmenship.

I’m sure anyone over 18yrs of age has experienced the salesman that’s quite good at what they do but which inevitably falls into what I categorize as distasteful, lengthy sales attempts.  Personally, I’d be much more likely to purchase something if they came in, skipped the presentation, told me the bottom line, and then left my family alone.  We’re now going on ~120min.  Take a hint, please – how many ways does someone need to say no?  Clearly many more times than once.  🙁

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