Thursday, November 26, 2009


On this Thanksgiving Day, I have found much to be thankful for. Family, religion, job all top the list. Indeed I have much to be grateful for. In addition, I am am also thankful for this blog. Over the last month it has been a source of inspiration, clarification, joy and healing, as well as a much needed outlet. I have grown because of my time spent here, and my heart has been strengthened.

Now I am ready to move on a bit. While I will be writing here from time to time, it likely won't be as frequent from now on. The story that came to me last week about Anja and the Jews has thrust itself into the forefront of my mind, and that's where my creative energies will be placed from now on.

Real quick, I just finished The Robe today. A wonderful book, a tremendous story, filled with many inspiring, heart-wrenching, meaningful plots and characters. It's not a fast read, but it's worth the time and effort. I highly recommend it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Couldn't resist

I pulled this from the blog "Funny Mormons." You may not laugh like I did, but then again, it may make you snort and hyperventilate. :)


Sometimes with service you are on the glorious end of the giving, the rendering, the sharing, the lifting, the restoring. What a tremendous feeling that is. Life is better, you're more grateful for what you have, and you feel blessed and enlarged personally.

But sometimes the tables are turned, and you are on the humbling end of the receiving, being rendered to, shared with, lifted up, and restored. What a tremendous feeling that is, as well. Life is better, you're more grateful for what you have, and you feel blessed and enlarged personally ... at least that's how I believe the Lord would have us feel. In a world and a culture where we are taught that you are valuable when you serve and give, we would do well to learn to be served and receive with that same grateful and swelling heart. At least, I know that such a feeling and reaction would bless my life.

In the last year, on multiple occasions, I have been on the receiving end of serving, giving, loving, helping, restoring, and blessing. At times I have met it with self-criticism and self-doubt, questioning my own worth because I was in need and required a blessing at the hands of another. But that did not strengthen me, nor did it lift me up, as I know that the experience was intended to do. Other times, however, I have received those blessings as gifts from God and let Him touch my heart through these acts of kindness, charity, and love. From personal experience I can say to you now that anything negative or demeaning that you tell yourself, any degrading or depressing feeling you have, any thought that tears you down or reduces your sense of worth because of being in a position of need is based in an all-out, vicious, and destructive lie. You are not being served out of pity for your inferiority or lack of worth, but rather because the Lord loves you infinitely and is using your circumstance to teach you to be more holy and to receive what He, and only He, has the power to give you. Indeed, you must become the greatest of receivers to gain the fullness promised you through the Atonement. And then, having more fully received of true charity - which is the love of God that He mercifully bestows upon us - you will be more able to lift another along the way who stands in need of what you can now give, which is perhaps more than you could have given before.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for what my trials have been, and for what they have not been. The Lord has taught me many things, which I treasure above all else. They have been hard lessons to learn, and many I am continually learning (over and over again), but they have been worth it. May I be made equal to the opportunities and challenges that are ahead. And may I be ever more able to serve and be served, that all may be blessed and profited thereby.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Israel 2006

In January 2006, almost four years ago, I was privileged and blessed to spend a week and a half touring Israel with my dad, my in-laws (who organized and led the tour), and a score of dear friends - one of whom is no longer with us. I'm telling you, the Bible has never been the same since and I have found myself with a regular yearning to return.

Part of my responsibility in the trip was to act essentially as recorder. I kept a log of where we went and some things that we did. Additionally, I gathered the thousands of photos taken by the other travelers and compiled them into a musical slide show. It literally took me weeks and who knows how many hours to sift, filter, organize, arrange, and animate the 35 minute show. Little did I know then that this effort would someday help fill a void - nearly four years later - that I thought could be filled only by setting foot on Israeli soil again. As we watched "the Israel DVD," as we affectionately call it, I was taken back to my experience there and many of the feelings returned. Even now, as I write, feelings, smells, sounds, and sights are coursing through me, leaving me as if I just went back for the afternoon. When you land there, you are in Israel. But when you leave, Israel is in you and you can find it there whenever you are quiet and look carefully.

I do hope to return - this time with my wife, who did go in 1996 - and for a longer stay, if possible. But one thing is certain, and it's the most powerful take-home of the trip for me: Look wherever you tombs, in caves, in sepulchers, under rocks, in cemeteries, or anywhere else, but Jesus will not be there, for He rose on the third day and lives again! And while I loved my experience there and think that anyone who professes to be a Christian should go if they are able, you don't have to travel to Israel and see the Holy Land to find Jesus. You can find Him anywhere, and most powerfully while on your knees in humble prayer or striving to live as He would live. Even more powerful than sight, President Harold B. Lee taught, and even more powerful than walking and talking with the Savior Himself, is the manifestation of the Holy Ghost in the heart of a son or daughter of God.

Yes, to see Israel is sublime. But to seek to live a life that would meet the Savior's approval and to have His Spirit always with us, that is divine, and everything else will be enhanced by it. Everything.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

No longer a pretender

As long as I can remember I've felt a connection to writing. I always felt internal pressure, even as a youth, to be a journal writer. Not always did I heed that yearning, but I carried it with me into my mission, where I was actually quite regular at recording the day's events. Upon returning home I fell out of the habit again, and it wasn't until a night in March 2002, I think, when I declared to the world that I would not lay my head to the pillow without writing in my journal. I was sick and tired of not doing what I felt I should, staying with it for about four years. I still write, though not as regularly, in my journal, as I feel it is important to record for my life for myself and posterity.

In recent years my yearning to become a writer by trade has increased and grown. Determined to develop and hone my craft, I set out on October 19th - over 30 days ago - to write in my blog every day for the next 30 days. With one exception, I have done just that. And now today makes my 30th entry since making that promise to myself. I am a writer, and this is just the beginning.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's gotta be a great story

My wife and I watched "Emma" tonight (yes, I admit it - I dig chick flicks). There is something to be said for a great story, for which Jane Austen had an incredible propensity. How many of her books have been turned into movies? Emma, Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, Sense & Sensibility and probably others that I don't recall. And why? Because they are great stories with incredible characters that speak to life as it is...or as we wish it were. It is my dream to create such a work of literary art. I have in my head what I think are the makings of some pretty meaningful books. But one thing is for certain - it's gotta be a great story. And for me there is almost nothing better.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christmas shame

The following poem was sent to me in an email, so I do not know the author, though I wish I did. Sometimes it takes poetry and satire to illuminate parts of our culture that are dark or dangerous. So in the spirit of the poem: Merry Christmas to all! May we remember the reason for the holiday and live accordingly.

'Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
See, the PC Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
"It might hurt people's feelings," the teachers would say.
"December 25 is just a 'Holiday.'"
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit,
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X-Box, an iPod -
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down,
At Lowe's the word Christmas was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas, it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that are used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, now Darden, now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen,
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith,
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded,
The reason for the season - it stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate "Winter Break" under your "Dream Tree,"
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say.
Shout "Merry Christmas!"
Not "Happy Holiday."

I am tolerant of all faiths and believe that all people should be free to believe and worship their God according to the dictates of their conscience. So I hope that no one will take offense this year when I greet you with a hearty "Merry Christmas." I'm not forcing my faith upon you, and I don't expect you to believe as I do. But please understand that I believe that Christmas was created to celebrate Christ; and since Christ was (and IS!) the embodiment of love, know that my expression to you is out of love for Him and reflects my love for you.

So Happy Thanksgiving, and very, very soon, Merry Christmas - from the miraculous pulse of my beating heart.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Definiteness of Purpose

Great quote from the Napoleon Hill Foundation. I'm putting it here because I need the reminder, every single day.

"Without a plan for your life, it is easier to follow the course of least resistance, to go with the flow, to drift with the current with no particular destination in mind. Having a definite plan for your life greatly simplifies the process of making hundreds of daily decisions that affect your ultimate success. When you know where you want to go, you can quickly decide if your actions are moving you toward your goal or away from it. Without definite, precise goals and a plan for their achievement, each decision must be considered in a vacuum. Definiteness of purpose provides context and allows you to relate specific actions to your overall plan."

Moral: Know what you want, make a plan, then GO!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anja and the Jews

A story came to me last night in a dream - the powerful, riveting story of a busload of Hungarian Jews being transported to a German concentration camp just before the close of World War II. Anja suffers as much as anyone else on the bus, but becomes a strangely polarizing figure on the trip, among both prisoners and soldiers alike. You see, she is there by choice.

It's a story of love and hatred, fierce political battles and the unrelenting power of human relations. It's about pain and forgiveness, absolute power and total submission. And this story will leave none who touches it unchanged. It's already changing me.

More to come, in one way or another. I believe this story has a future both on the book rack and on the big screen. I pray that I might do it justice.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Writer's Block

Sometimes it just doesn't come. A good night for a great quote (paraphrased):

"If you don't design a plan for your life, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much." (Jim Rohn)

Here's to pursuing your own dreams, all the way to the glorious end.