Nay, Nay, May he Rest in Peace

On my drives to work, I often listen to 97.3 comedy. Over the past years I developed admiration for John Pinette who passed away over the weekend. I was saddened by the news but more so by headlines that reduced Pinette’s career to a single act on the Seinfield finale. I had to go back and watch the clip they were referring to as I didn’t remember his acting there.

 

I very much enjoyed Pinette’s routine, some of which is found here.

 

 

I was shocked to find out that the man played Edna Turnblad in the Broadway hit Hairspray, in over 500 performances spanning a couple of years on Broadway and on Tour.

Pinette also appeared in many movies and TV shows. He can be seen at the first of this trailer for Duets.

So, thank you John for sharing your happiness and hilarity with us. You will be missed, but now you are like Free Willy. Be at peace.

CMT Presents Ron White Comedy Saltue To The Troops

Grace

protestWhen I was sixteen, a friend and I stood out front of Temple Square discussing the doctrine of the Holy Trinity with an anti-mormon. I felt a firm grip on my shoulder, and after being escorted away by my father was told, “Don’t let me ever see you doing that again.”

“But Dad,” I replied, “I was winning.” He took a moment to educate me on the immaturity of that statement and educate me on the workings of the Spirit. In deed, I hadn’t felt its influence in by conversation, instead I felt contention and pride. I hadn’t won anything.

conferenceI had the opportunity to attend this latest session of conference with my family and particularly with my recently ordained 12-year-old son. I was curious about the proposed protest by supposed later-day saint women of the priesthood session, though I saw no such distraction.

My son was surprised at the few protesters we saw yelling at the crowd of conference-goers. They held signs stating various claims. One or two were obvious jabs at doctrine of our faith, another argued perceived misinterpretations of doctrine, but a couple others grabbed my attention and provoked questions from my son.

protest 2One read, “Jesus is the way,” siting John 14:6. I was curious of the argument proposed by the man yelling at the crowds of folk in Sunday dress. In addition to believing that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life and that no man cometh unto the Father, but by Him, we also believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

Another woman screamed, “It’s by grace ye are saved!” I smiled and nodded at her in agreement. “It’s by grace, not all you can do,” she continued. Her sign sited 2nd Nephi from the Book of Mormon. My son asked if what she was saying was true.

“She’s partly right,” I said, “and I’m sure she means well.” We further discussed the doctrine of Grace, at least as much as his mind would absorb.

In 2nd Nephi 25:23, Nephi explains why he continues to write his prophetic lessons on metal plates of gold, indicating that it is to persuade his posterity and all those that come across what is now known as The Book of Mormon, to believe in Christ “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

I think I might be able to understand the woman’s point. In much of my life I felt that I needed to earn my way into heaven through righteousness. That the way to salvation was in and through my good works.

I have struggled with that last caveat, “after all we can do.”

The “all” I could do part played with my Perfect Addiction. In order to qualify for Grace, I had to do “all” I could. Christ commanded us to, “Be ye therefore perfect.” He similarly taught, “Therefore I would that you should be perfect, even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”

In Moroni 10:32, I am invited to “come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.”

First Nephi 3:7 states that God doesn’t give any commandment without preparing a way for them to accomplish that which he has commanded.

Here’s what I used to believe:

  1. I am commanded to be perfect
  2. The way has been prepared for me to be perfect
  3. Being perfect falls under the gamut of “all” I can do
  4. When I’m perfect, I’ll qualify for grace

As I’ve experienced a change of heart and a more profound relationship with the Spirit and my Savior, I’ve witnessed the miracle that is Grace, as imperfect as I am.

In this past Women’s conference, Sister Linda K. Burton stated “Let’s not start beating ourselves up,” she said in reference to Christ’s invitation to the rich man to leave all he had and follow Him in order to be perfect. “The word perfect in this account was translated from a Greek word that means ‘complete.’ As we try our best to move forward along the covenant path, we become more complete and perfect in this life.”

President David L. Beck stated, “Perfect, as used in the scriptures, means “complete, whole, and fully developed…True followers of Christ may become perfect through his grace and atonement.”

Elder Russell M. NelsonAnd Elder Russell M. Nelson in a conference address of October 1995 stated,

“We all need to remember: men are that they might have joy—not guilt trips!  We also need to remember that the Lord gives no commandments that are impossible to obey. But sometimes we fail to comprehend them fully.

“Our understanding of perfection might be aided if we classify it into two categories. The first could pertain uniquely to this life—mortal perfection. The second category could pertain uniquely to the next life—immortal or eternal perfection.

“Mortal perfection can be achieved as we try to perform every duty, keep every law, and strive to be as perfect in our sphere as our Heavenly Father is in his. If we do the best we can, the Lord will bless us according to our deeds and the desires of our hearts.”

The Church’s website states more about Grace:

“Because of personal choices, everyone also experiences the effects of sin (see 1 John 1:8-10; Mosiah 16:4). These effects are called spiritual death. No one can return to the presence of God without divine grace. Through the Atonement, we all can be forgiven of our sins; we can become clean before God. To receive this enabling power, we must obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and trying to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ for the rest of our lives (see Ephesians 2:8-9; James 2:17-22; 2 Nephi 25:23; 31:20).”

I will not be saved through my good works. It is only by Grace that I can be saved, as the scripture states. I can no more earn my way into heaven, than my dirty clothes can wash themselves.

Isaiah 64:6  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Here is what I now know to be true:

  • I am commanded to be perfect
  • The way has been prepared for me to become perfected
  • In order to qualify for grace, I need to have faith, repent, and make and keep sacred covenants with God. That is “all I can do.”
  • Through the process of showing faith, repenting, making and keeping sacred covenants, I qualify for divine grace and the healing power of the Atonement.
  • Through the Atonement of Christ, I can be saved. I can be made whole and complete. I can become perfected in Him.

We can all be perfected in Him. His grace is sufficient for all. Ether 12:27

Walk On

The Perfect Addiction

disproveA few years ago, my son tried a newly acquired ninja move in his sister’s bedroom. As he mounted his foot, the drywall gave way. I found him dangling by a leg, his foot embedded in the wall. If such a thing were to happen today, I’d laugh and probably snap a photo to memorialize the hilarity. Not so in my earlier years. I took ample time to yell at him for not thinking through his actions. I dragged him all over the house, showing him every hole and mark he’d left from his past ventures, reminding him once again of all his prior mistakes.

In my ignorance, I believed that this tool was most effective in rearing a child in the way he should go. I now know that Shame has long-lasting consequences that are not only damaging to the child, but to those future relationships the he or she may develop and to the countless generations to come. Shame is learned and passed on.

In our pre-mortal existence, we know that Lucifer (Satan) proposed that Heavenly Father send him, rather than Jesus to redeem all mankind and not one would be lost. I’ve wondered how this would have come about. I believe that he intended to take away our choices, forcing us, controlling us to do his will. This of course was completely contrary to God’s plan in which we would be given agency so that we could think and act for ourselves and not be acted upon.

Using Shame in parenting is abuse. It’s a form of brainwashing or conditioning the child to behave a particular way, removing agency from the equation as Lucifer intended. We use it to show disproval and disagreement. It’s a way to train a child not to act, but to react as they are acted upon. I have no doubt that this system of parenting was developed by Lucifer himself.

In College I was watching television with a close friend in the basement of her home. Her dad appeared for a second then returned upstairs. My friend became visibly anxious and excused herself from the group. Later I found her in tears. She told me that her dad was mad that we had hijacked his television time. I saw nothing from her father that indicated that he was upset and asked how she knew. She just did. I think she had become conditioned. Whatever look he gave my friend caused in her a reaction that had been conditioned over her lifetime.

The raw effect of parenting by shame is that it causes children to believe that love is conditional. They are only deserving of love if they make good choices.

Style: "Porcelain pastel"Let’s pursue that thought. What does a Shaming Parent do when the child obeys? Do they let the love flow in great abundance? No. It’s still conditional. I used to find myself saying, “That’s great but…” A Shaming Parent can always find a reason to withdraw and withhold love. Showing love is showing weakness; it undermines the control. Heaven forbid they start to think and act on their own.

The result is a child that is conditioned to aim for perfection and nothing less; because only through perfection might they reach that dangling carrot. And when they fall short time after time (as is the design of this existence), they begin to feel that they will never be good enough; nothing they do is worth the effort, they are broken, useless and unwanted. Their world is seen as black and white, right and wrong.

Some counter these feelings by creating alternate realities, convincing themselves and others that they are perfect and therefore able to be loved and happy. But the truth is they aren’t perfect, no one is; deep down they know this and so they don’t feel allowed to find joy and peace.

They turn to comparing themselves to others. Judging others’ shortcomings distracts from their own and dodges any opportunity to accept personal responsibility, reaffirming the false reality that they are perfect.

I have a theory that our perception of God is based on our perceptions of our parents. For much of my life I believed that I could only feel God’s love if I were perfect. I had a fundamental belief that I did not deserve the Atonement unless I did nothing wrong (wherein I would have no need for it).

Shaming our children can have a powerful impact on their relationship with God and understanding the Spirit and feeling the healing effects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Black and white thinking can be devastating to relationships and to the person’s well being as they battle with hypocrisies and fallout from their mistakes unable to apologize or even accept the possibility of doing anything wrong.

examIt’s like a test. We black and white thinkers only have one shot at this exam and there are only two outcomes, pass and fail. To pass we need a perfect score, 100%. If we get one problem wrong, dropping our score to 99.8%, we were something other than perfect and so we’ve failed. It’d be no different if we got an F. To some this might seem absurd. But to those that have been conditioned by shame, they will understand, and possibly even agree with the analysis.

The need to be perfect is an addiction and permeates every aspect of our lives. We live for praise. Some fall prey to emotional affairs. Others neglect their family while reaping praise from serving the world. We judge and criticize those around us, and mostly those closest to us. We create a paradigm where we can do no wrong. Such a world will eventually become unmanageable because it is not founded on principles of the Gospel like forgiveness and repentance. After a lifetime of perceived perfection we abandon sacred truths, break sacred covenants, and continue to point the finger elsewhere.

Like battling any addiction, the 12-step program, particularly the Addiction Recovery Program developed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints can help.

The first step for me was the hardest.

Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.

ARP“Rarely do people caught in addictive behaviors admit to being addicted. To deny the seriousness of our condition and to avoid detection and the consequences of our choices, we tried to minimize or hide our behaviors. We did not realize that by deceiving others and ourselves, we slipped deeper into our addictions. As our powerlessness over addiction increased, many of us found fault with family, friends, Church leaders, and even God.” – ARP Manual, Step 1

The Perfect Addiction may be more subtle, less noticeable than say drugs or pornography, but just as damaging to our souls. Sins do not necessarily keep us out of heaven, not repenting of them will. The Perfect Addiction brings with it pride, resentment, unwillingness to forgive, and selfishness.

If any of this has hit home, or if you have found it offensive, hard to hear, please take some time to soul search. Take courage and look in the mirror. It was extremely difficult for me, but I’ll tell you that on the other side, life is wonderful and happy. Through daily repentance and the Atonement, I can over come the effects of shame in my own life and refrain from passing this addiction onto future generations.

cry

 

I decided to get a Divorce

Last night, I helped my son prepare a talk for church who was asked to speak on Elder Scott’s address from this past conference; one I can’t say I really remember hearing.

Richard-G-Scott-GC-Oct-2013Elder Scott spoke of the covenant made by King Lamoni, his brother Anti-Nephi-Lehi and their people, to not take up arms against others. They buried their weapons (not so they couldn’t use them, but so the weapons would remain spotless and stand as a testimony that they had kept their covenant).

They gave their lives to keep that covenant.

helamanYears later Helaman, son of Alma, good friend to Ammon who taught King Lamoni the gospel, reminded the people of Ammon of their covenant not to take up arms. He, their former priesthood leader, pled with the people not to break their covenant, but instead send their sons, boys and young men to fight.

The talk brought to mind an experience I had just over a year ago. I was sitting in the spare bedroom in the basement, a pit in my stomach, wide-awake in the middle of the night. I had been living in the spare room for a couple months.

My parents had also been living in separate rooms for some time and the word divorce could be heard more and more often.

When I was sixteen, I lived a summer with my grandparents who at that time had a similar sleeping arrangement, up until they divorced a year or two later.

That night in the spare room, I came to a conclusion. I wasn’t going to wait forty years to end a toxic marriage. I wasn’t going to prolong the inevitable. I decided to get a divorce.

I had been going to counseling for about a year and felt that I had been given many tools to help my relationship with my wife, and all that was missing was for her to fall in line and do her part. I had built a severe case against her; I accused her, diagnosed her, labeled her and judged her. I jumped at every opportunity to point out her faults and mistakes and to remind her of past failures. I told myself that by doing so I was helping her out, providing leadership. After all who doesn’t love to be told over and over and over again that they’re wrong. Moreover, I felt that I would somehow be held accountable if I didn’t point out her problems.

Elder Scott said that the people of Ammon’s “wise priesthood leader, Helaman, knew that breaking a covenant with the Lord is never justified. He offered an inspired alternative,” to send their sons that hadn’t made the covenant.

This passage struck me particularly hard. “Breaking a covenant with the Lord is never justified.”

A couple weeks ago I exchanged emails with someone that suggested God would under the right circumstances tell someone to get a divorce and break the covenant they had made over an altar of the temple before God, angels and witnesses. This person stated it was similar to God commanding, “Thou shalt not kill,” but then commanding Abraham to kill his son and Nephi to kill Laban. I suppose the point was that there are always exceptions.

Before I continue with this thought, let me clarify that I do believe that God cares about us and our wants and desires, and that there certainly are circumstances that would justify a divorce. Additionally, the covenant made in a temple marriage and sealing involves more than one party in addition to God.

abraham isaacBack to Nephi and Abraham. As I pondered this thought and read the passages of scripture where Nephi was commanded to take Laban’s life I realized that according to the Law of Moses and the doctrine given to Nephi, he was not commanded to do anything that was contrary to the Law of Moses or the law of the land.  Nor was Abraham commanded to do anything contrary to the gospel. God used the experience to teach Abraham the true reason for living the law of sacrifice they had been given. Abraham nor Nephi were asked to break a covenant they had made.

As I further pondered, I could not think of any moment in scripture where God commanded anyone to break a covenant they had made. The story of the people of Ammon came to mind and I felt that God honored and supported our covenants and that even though the people of Ammon would have been justified in taking up arms, they were counseled not to because they had made a covenant.

Breaking a covenant with the Lord is never justified. Elder Scott’s counsel came as an answer to prayer and my studying of the topic.

When I told my priesthood leader I was considering a divorce, he encouraged me to try and keep the sacred covenant that I had made in the temple. He invited me to continue to go to counseling, and invited my wife to go separately.

In our discussion, he helped me see that I was ever ready to bend over backwards for others, unconditionally love anyone, willingly forgive associates for great offenses but somehow I wasn’t able or willing to do those things for the person that at one time was the closest and dearest to me. I considered myself to be my brother’s keeper, but I was not that of my spouse.

I prayed and studied, pondered and prayed some more and I realized that I could not justify breaking that covenant. It didn’t happen right away, but my heart began to soften and change. The Lord in his goodness showed me the louse I had been and helped me see how to become something better. He helped me to see the need I had to check boxes rather than live the gospel as I discussed in a previous post. He guided me to develop unconditional love for my bride. As I repented and softened my heart, I felt happiness, true happiness.

Up until that time I had been miserable. I tried to hide it from the world; I blamed it on those around me, or things outside my control. I found some reprieve by badmouthing my wife, building the case, and reinforcing my judgments, but deep down I knew I was wrong, no matter how justified I felt, I was a hypocrite.

I professed to be a Christian. Christ didn’t look for opportunities to point out mistakes, condemn those that had sinned, cast out the unworthy, withdraw his love from even those that betrayed him. Quite the opposite. Christ came not into the world to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved. My actions were not at all Christlike.

I didn’t necessarily care about solutions; I was more interested in not being blamed. Building the case helped me to feel justified in my hypocritical actions.

Looking back at the years, I realize that it was difficult for the Atonement of Christ to take effect in my life because of my pride, more than my sins. Sins won’t necessarily keep us out of heaven, not repenting of them will. How could my heart be mended if it was broken, or my spirit touched if it wasn’t contrite?

Once the healing power of the Atonement took effect and the peace came, it was easy to let go of the case I had built against my wife. Unlike the parable of the debtors, I had been forgiven of a great many things, who was I to not forgive the minor offense?

15 yearsSo it’s been over a year and we have kept and recommitted to the covenant we made December 19, 1998. This past year has been the funnest, happiest, greatest year of my life.

I feel like King Lamoni when he said, “And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son.”

Beard Envy

Beard EnvyI had a proud father moment. My daughter (may have been making fun of me) drew glasses, beard and mustache on her face. It is quite possible she was suffering from Beard Envy that has taken hold of many, even me who has never had a desire, or the ability to grow proper facial hair.

Several friends have grown out their beards, and I found myself growing ever envious of their changing profiles.

I first began noticing the beards in No Shave November. In December and thereafter the beards didn’t come off.

I wonder if it had something to do with the popularity of Duck Dynasty, now those are some beards.

My BeardThen I came across this article on CNN talking about Hollywood getting on board. That’s about the time I get off of any fad I’ve ever been a part of. Though I shaved it down, I believe that there is something deeper to the beard envy. I wonder if we men, long to be men, to do manly things, to act like a man. As a member of the male gender, I have found it confusing at times, knowing how to act as society continues to change what I once believed to be my role in society. Growing a beard helped me reestablish and reconnect with my manliness. Do you have beard envy?

Multicultural Celebration

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My heart is full. As the rain broke from the heavens, soaking our field, soaking our youth filed before the prophet, I huddled under the safety of a tarp, thoughts flooding my mind.

The youth had been diligent. At the first practices they didn’t quite line up, or wave their flags in sync; they played around and goofed off, as teens are prone to do. But now it was game time. I watched as they hit their marks, they waved the flags, they even sang. They grew together as a team.

Several families recently moved into our ward. I love watching how new youth are invited and incorporated into an old group, and I love seeing how the dynamics of that group change and become better. This event sped up that process. The youth not only performed, they became a performing team.

IMG_6737_2Just before they were asked to take the field in anticipation of President Monson’s arrival, the youth huddled into groups, I assumed to keep warm. As I came closer I realized they were praying, praying that they rain would cease, or that they could stay warm and have the strength to perform, I can only imagine, but I do know that the Spirit was felt in those prayers, testimonies were strengthened and prayers were answered.

For me, the highlight of that day wasn’t seeing the prophet, though of course that was a special experience. During the live rehearsal, I sat behind about a dozen youth with mental disabilities. During the Hispanic heritage song, they stood up and danced. One young man twirled his hat around with pride, and then launched it into the air at the end. Their performance was wonderful, but the best followed. As they sat to enjoy the rest of the performances, two young men noticed the disabled young man sitting in front of me. I gathered that they must have been in the same ward. With a handshake and a pat on the back, they smiled, said hi, and talked for a while. I believe that small acts of kindness happen all the time in our corner of the earth. Some of these acts have received national attention, and countless others are noticed by strangers like me, their presence undetected, their hearts touched forever.

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In our regional and everyone practices, I saw many friends, people I grew up with, that I attended school with, in Gilbert. I’m certain I felt like Alma the Younger when he saw his brothers after fourteen years. Here my friends are still in the faith. We that were once youth, no doubt concerns to our then leaders, are now serving other youth in that same vicinity, only now there stands a temple instead of cotton fields. I can only imagine what this new generation can do with the legacy they’ve been given. What reunion will there be when they bump into their friends at their children’s soccer game and reflect on that rainy night years before?

Checking Boxes

Crest Before
In a cabin in pine, above the fireplace, hangs what was once a beautiful piece of art.

It’s a family crest, or was when first hung there many years ago. It’s made of solid wood, shaped like a shield, with a banner once reading “Sanders”. The crest was composed of small, individually cut and added wood pieces, each with differing color and texture. Together, they formed a beautiful complicated piece of art representing the Sanders Family. There was a large bull at the top, posturing to all that Sanders were stout, tall, proud, and passionate people. I particularly loved the fleur de lis in the middle, representing to me my family’s involvement in scouting.

Crest AfterOver the years, the crest fell apart. It seemed every time I’d visit the cabin another piece had fallen from its position, victim to the heat of the fireplace. What the family used to comfort our stay actually destroyed the crest. As the fire’s smoke and heat rose through the chimney the glue, securing the wood pieces softened then melted.

I sat, recently, in front of that fireplace, under that very crest. I asked myself what could have been done different.

I was thinking about the crest, but more intently thinking about my family, my parents and eight siblings. At the time, my father had moved out of the house, and soon after, my mother filed for divorce. As I stared at the crest above the flickering fire, I thought of the countless lessons my parents taught me, though now they seemed to have less tack.

At the age of seventeen, my parents sat down with us children and discussed that my grandfather, a man respected in the community, a former Bishop and member of the Stake Presidency, along with my grandmother after 40 years of marriage and twelve children, decided to call it quits. Of course this terrified many of my siblings, but my parents assured us that they had their act together, they loved each other and they would never split up.

My recent conversation with my children was a little different.

My parents bragged that for some thirty years, maybe more, that they read the scriptures everyday except for one night back in ’78, maybe it was ’79? Even when they were living apart, they still read scriptures. I was raised to believe that scripture reading was an ingredient for a successful marriage. I doubt it hurt, but I’m learning that a successful marriage isn’t achieved by checking boxes.

That may actually be a large factor in my family’s current situation. If we believe that God will judge us on our works, that it is only through strict adherence to the laws, that qualifies us for heaven, we might adopt a practice of checking boxes. Reading scriptures, going to church, saying prayers, paying tithing, all great things, if done out of fear of condemnation, don’t seem to harvest the blessings that foster happiness. If we check the boxes with hopes of not being punished, its difficult to enjoy the moment, or recognize the blessings that are predicated upon those laws. And what of the atonement, forgiveness, and mercy?

The devil would have us think that our efforts aren’t good enough, that we don’t deserve grace because we haven’t done “all we can do.” The story of our existence changes when we realize that the greatest of us, the only deserving, able of inciting damnation, came not to condemn but to save.

As a box checker, I often found myself looking at others around me, seemingly free from the daunting tasks of righteousness, wondering why they appeared so happy, free. I judged them, I condemned. I thought that by checking the boxes, I would someday find myself, after having endured to the end, struggling through this existence, carrying the crosses I’d been asked to bare, at the Savior’s feet, where he would say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

I’ve since had a change of heart. I realize now that enduring to the end is the fun part, the great part, because now I have the knowledge of who I am; I have been forgiven and shown mercy. Now I can enjoy the blessings of the atonement and the gospel and be happy.

That was difficult to see through my judgmental eyes. My insecurities and fear drove me to criticize those around me, passing condemnation onto the lot, as I sought to find fault with others, in the name of righteousness. In truth I was living way beneath my privilege, making this existence harder for myself and those around me. In reality, the scene I often visualized of describing to the Lord the boxes I had checked, complaining about the crosses I had born and the sacrifices I had made would have merited the words, “I never knew thee.

As box checkers, we bend over backwards to serve those around us, to offer a ride, make a pie, donate countless hours to others and worthwhile causes. This usually merits kind recognition, appreciation from those served. It might even allow us to dream of our mansions above and with that, maybe we already have our reward. To our family, those not in the lime light, where action isn’t seen by the world (except through Facebook), it’s difficult to find time and the only boxes requiring checks have little to do with being a good parent. There’s a world of difference between reading versus of scripture, and teaching children the Gospel. And “no success can compensate for failure in the home.”

Heat will come; there is opposition in all things. I think the answer to avoiding separation is stronger bonds. As I’ve abandoned the ways of checking boxes, I’ve learned how to live in the moment, finding joy in everyday situations with my family. I’m more grateful for my life, and I recognize the multitude of blessings that come from, not checking boxes, but making righteous choices.

The greatest bond comes through the healing power of the atonement. The atonement not only has the ability to heal the offender but also the offended.

I use to believe that my day was made up of right or wrong choices, black or white decisions. If I was in tune with the Spirit, I would be told the right choices to make in everything I did, down to which road to take to work. I was essentially asking God for more boxes to check. Then I learned that the Spirit doesn’t work that way. God gave us a mind in which to ponder, and free will to choose, not between black and white, but purple, orange, red, and blue, and hundreds of thousands more.  The Spirit isn’t going to tell us anything contrary to God’s plan of happiness. God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be. The Spirit cares about what’s important to me, and doesn’t seem eager to give me boxes to check.

Another bond is each other. At one point all of us were on the same side. If Christ came not into the world to condemn the world, who are we to not forgive all men.

Family Photo

Even though the crest is looking pretty pathetic, it wouldn’t take much to restore it to its former majesty. A little love and forgiveness could go a long way.