Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Christmas Gift

There is a woman in our neighborhood that recently lost her husband. She has been really struggling with all the aftermath. She had a lot of the, angry at the world and God attitude. The happy ever after had not worked out for her. She was now stuck with four kids to rise on her own while having to work two jobs to support them. I went with another man from our church to visit her. In our church we often go visit the needy.

We were visiting at the door; there was clear reluctance to let us in. I ask her if she was set for Christmas, she said “she was still working on it”. I thought “OK she needs the $100.00 in my pocket” (see Aug 07 blog), she resisted, but I insisted. Strong woman, reminded me of my mother who was also a widow. She was a strong woman, was going to do it own her own and didn’t want charity, even if she desperately needed it.

We were about to leave when she invited us in. I told her I understood some of what she was going through. Not that I had gone through it, but that I had lived it from the point of view of a child. I understood to some degree where she was and talked to her about it. It was clear she needed some one that understood. We talked about some of the things she was going though. I tried to make it clear that I understood and didn’t in any way think she was bad or anything other than normal.

Talked about how difficult it was to go to church and see all the couples sitting with their kids and spouse. How she feels like a misfit, but goes for the children. How the happy ever after didn’t work out for her through no fault of her own. That life for her wasn’t fair. That it was going to take years for her to get through it all. She was moving out of her house and we talked about the need to start over and leave some of the memories behind.

As we went to leave I went to give her a quick hug. She started crying and just needed held for a moment. She needed to be cared about by someone who simply cared about her as a person with no other purpose or intention.

She has a hard path ahead of her, as do a lot of other single mothers. It is not possible for me or anyone else to take the path away. Though occasionally we my have the opportunity to help along the way. I was glad that for a short “moment in my life” I was able to give a small token of service, and in memory of my father (see “A White Christmas” below) I was able to give some wood (thought it was refined into green paper) for Christmas.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A White Christmas

This is a story that was published in the Dec 05 New Era. Being its Christmas time I decided to add it. Left is our last family picture, taken a little before the story below. I'm the little boy on the left standing in front.

Wood for Widows

White Christmases were always the best! Christmas Eve I would sit at the window, watching the streetlight, hoping to see flakes of snow falling. We didn’t often have snow for Christmas but it was bitter cold and it was supposed to snow. I stayed up watching for snow until my mother insisted I go to bed. I prayed that night, hoping that morning would find the ground covered with fresh fallen snow.

On Christmas morning I woke early. To my joy, the Christmas tree was surrounded with presents. The excitement gathering around the Christmas tree and discovering what treasures waited inside the wrapping paper made up for still not having snow. As my dad passed out the presents, I stacked mine in front of me. I was eager to see if my pile of presents was larger than my siblings. Especially my older brother Ron, he seemed to always get more and nicer presents than me. I understood he had polio when he was two, leaving him crippled in both legs. It seemed my parents were always nicer to him, though other kids often picked on him.

We were quite poor and most Christmases were meager. My mother had asked Ron before Christmas if he was interested in a racecar set. He had told her, no, he wanted something else. When she asked me I had said “yes” trying not to sound too eager. It had worked. I had gotten the racecar set along with some of the other things I wanted.

We lived on a farm and always had chores to do. My father left to do his chores right after we opened our gifts. It was my job to feed and water the chickens. I was praying that my mom wouldn’t make me stop playing with the racecar set long enough to do my chores. When my dad returned he told me that he had done our chores for us including feeding and watering the chickens. I was excited, I could spend the entire day in the nice warm house playing with my new racecar set. He then said something to my mother about Blanche (an elderly widow down the street) who was out looking for firewood. Ron and I went quickly back to playing with our toys. That was my dad, always looking out for others. It seemed like the entire town depended on him to do things for them. Anytime they needed their car looked at, equipment welded, or a car pulled out of a mud hole, they came to my dad. Blanche wouldn’t come to my dad. She felt he was too busy. Besides, he had been in the hospital to have his spleen removed a few weeks before. His blood wasn’t clotting properly and the doctors had removed his spleen hoping it would help.

The next thing I knew my father was asking us boys if we wanted to go get some wood with him. I couldn’t believe it, on Christmas? I knew that wood was Blanche’s only way of staying warm and cooking. But couldn’t someone else get Blanche firewood, or at least couldn’t we just take her a little off our woodpile? Or wait until tomorrow, surely she had enough wood to last until then. But no! He wanted to go into the woods and get a whole truckload. I complained but it didn’t do any good. We were expected to go. So much for spending the day playing with my new racecar set.

We bundled up well and headed for the woods. At least it was warm in the cab of the truck, but soon we would be out in the cold loading the truck with wood, which happened all too soon. My dad was very good at getting his boys to help him. We each had our job, my dad would run the chain saw and cut the wood. Grant my oldest brother, would split the wood. I would load and my next oldest brother Ron, being crippled, would sit in the back of the truck and stack the wood. My dad was always good at making Ron part of whatever we did and feel important and needed. Eager to get back to our toys we all worked hard. He had cut a big tree and we almost had it loaded. I thought it was plenty, but my dad cut into another big tree. This is going to take forever, I thought, “I’m cold and tired and want to play with my toys and he is cutting down another tree.” We finally got it all split and loaded. At last we were headed home. It was nice to be back in the warmth of the cab of the truck again. All we had to do was unload the wood and then I could go back to my racecar set.

We backed up to Blanche’s house and started unloading the wood. I couldn’t believe it! There wasn’t of sliver a wood to be found anywhere in her yard. The only thing she had left to burn was her house itself. I was worried about losing time playing with my racecar set, while she was worried about freezing. As we were unloading the wood she came out of her house. My dad looked up and said “Merry Christmas.” She started crying, and my dad got down from the truck to console her. I couldn’t fight back a few tears myself. I tried hard not to let it show, but then I noticed a tear in my brother’s eye too. My presents didn’t mean anything to me now. The fact that I was able to help keep someone from freezing on Christmas day meant much more to me than all the toys in the world.

That night it snowed. My mother said she was glad that we had gotten Blanche firewood. I was glad too, really glad. Never will I forget the lesson and spirit of truly giving to others. But that wasn’t the only lesson that we learned that year. This act of kindness on my dad’s part would have an influence that would not be realized for years to come.

The next Christmas would not be so happy, we sat around solemn faced, after opening our presents. Finally Ron said, “lets go get wood”. Nothing more needed to be said. We all got our coats, hats and gloves and headed out the door. Again we were getting wood for a widow. But this time it was our mother. It wasn’t that we needed the wood, it was something deeper. Two weeks before Christmas my dad died on my oldest brother’s 16th birthday. He left seven children to be raised by my mother. But my dad had taught us to work. So my brothers and I would make sure that we had wood for the next year and each year after that.

I suppose that because of that one act of kindness, and the lessons that he had taught his boys, he assured that his widowed wife would never go without wood. We not only got wood for our mother but often we would get it for other widows. Often on Christmas day after we had opened our presents my brothers and I would go out after wood for one of the widows. Though it was never spoken openly between us, we were all doing it in memory of our father.

Times have changed and most people don’t use firewood to stay warm. So our tradition of getting firewood has died. There are few people in our society that are in danger of freezing on Christmas day but there are many who need warmed on the inside.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Plane trip

I recently took a plane trip and had an interesting conversation with the person that sat next to me. He was a prestigious medical doctor and had plenty of money. I asked about a book he was reading that looked like it was about Buddhism. It was actually a sort of new age spiritualism book. He begin telling me all about it and about these other powers out there and the things others could do with these powers. “This conversation is not going where I want it to go” I thought. I wanted to end it and go back to reading my book. But then I thought maybe he sat down by me for a reason.

I explained as plainly and forcefully as I could that there are always two sides to such power and that he needs to be careful not to follow the wrong side. The bad side will seek to deceive and bring destruction. The good side will never deceive and cannot be used for evil. He said but they say there is no good or bad. Let’s see, where have I heard that one before.

22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

(Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 28:22)

I took some time but I finally convinced him that there was good and evil in this world and on the other side. I told him I had experienced both sides and wanted nothing more of the evil side, ever. The good side brings peace and happiness. What ever you put into life you get back out. I then gave him a copy of the most spiritually powerful book I know of “The Book of Mormon”. He promised to read it. If he does it can push evil away and bring goodness into his life.

I changed the conversation to his family; he was married with two little girls. I told him that families are the most important and that is where true happiness comes from. He told me he was currently separated from his wife. I asked if there was a chance for them to get back to gather. He said that he got to angry every time he was around her. I’m thinking “I’m not a psychologist” but kept talking to him, I was on a plane with little else to do.

He said that she was clueless of his needs and neglected the children. She would leave the children home alone sleeping in the crib for hours. He explained to her that it was illegal and she couldn’t do that but she did it any way. I asked if she loved the kids. He had asked her that and she said “They will take care of me when I get old”. I’m thinking what a totally selfish person and the children need protected. But realized I was only hearing his side of the story.

He wasn’t interested in divorcing her and taking custody of the kids. I agreed that what the kids need was a normal function mother. I suggested that he get her some counseling. He had tried. I asked if she was abused as a child. He was shocked at the idea and said “no”. I said “but she disassociates from emotional things”, he agreed and in thinking more about it gave several indications of childhood abuse, and agreed that maybe she had been.

I suggested that he change the way he looked at her and try to better understand her. That getting angry was not going to change her or solve any problems, that he needed to learn to control that anger. She needs help and he should find ways to get her that help. The kids are the most important and that their mother, functional, is the best thing for them.

I may never know if the conversation did him any good or made a difference in his life. But it made me grateful for the wife and family I have, and for the principle of the gospel that has guided me to the life that I have. I have what prestige and money cannot buy.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

You owe $500,000.00 to the US Government

With all the talk about the bank bailouts, I did some math. With the US government bailouts we are approaching 12 Trillion dollars in US debt. There are 116 million households in the US. That is over $100,000 dollars for every household in the United States. If we add expected Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security to it then it is around 60 Trillion Dollars. That is over $500,000 per household. Do you have that kind of money?

That is ten times the average household income of $50,223 (Aug. 28, 2008 census). That means the average family owes over ten times their annual income to the US government. How do they expect us to ever pay this off? Don’t you think we need to pay for socialized medicine too?

Total US Debt with Bailouts
$ 12,000,000,000,000
Number of US Households
$ 116,000,000
US Debt Per US Household
$ 103,448
Average US Household Income
$ 50,233

Including Medicaid, Medicare and SS
$ 60,000,000,000,000
Total US Debt Per US Household
$ 517,241

The problem is that they don’t have that money. They have to borrow it. A good portion of the money lent to the US comes from China. California is now asking the Federal Government for a loan because they can’t borrow money. I hope the US government can borrow the money, because no one else can. If that happens, will they be able to secure the money you have in the bank? Will it be the undoing of America as we know it?

We are now facing financial problems like we have never seen before. The Democrats and Republicans point the finger at each other, but neither party stopped it. All of them helped create these problems. These are the people we elected and were not willing to change it. But we keep reelecting them!

Is this truly about saving the economy? They have dumped Billions of dollars in it already and it hasn’t made the banks free up money. They had thousands of voters asking them not to pass the bailout. So they didn’t pass it, until they added another 110 billion in pork. Doesn’t that make us Americans we proud of them? Even as they were putting this bill into law, stocks were dropping. Yes, once again the government stepped in to save us! I’m sure they saved some of their rich campaign contributors (with our money), but there are no guarantees in it for you and me. What does your retirement account look like after they saved it?

Some day we will wake up to find ourselves out of a job and homeless. Maybe then we will make some real changes, but you need an address to register to vote. Of course the rich campaign contributors (with our money) will get to keep their homes, so our wonderful elected officials are safe.

If you pass this information along, make sure you include a letter to your congressman. To check my data, see the following links.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

You have a moment in your life.

You have a moment in your life.
To do anything you wish.
This moment is totally yours.
to be anywhere,
to be with anyone,
to have anything,
to say anything,
to think anything,
to feel anything,
to do anything.

You have a moment in your life.
Take this moment,
Be there in your mind.
Where are you?
What are you doing?
Are you where you really want to be?
Are you with those you love?
Are you with those who love you?

You have a moment in your life.
The moment is right now.
Are you thinking about;
those you love,
those who love you?

You have a moment in your life.
What are you feeling?
Are those feelings;
of anger,
of resentment,
of frustration,
of joy,
of happiness,
of love,
of pleasure?

You have a moment in your life.
This moment is yours,
And everything about it,
those thoughts,
those feelings,
those actions,
are yours.

You have a moment in your life.
You have power over this moment.
Power over the feelings of
of anger,
of resentment,
of frustration,
of bitterness,
of sorrow.

You have a moment in your life.
In this moment you have power.
The power to master feelings;
of joy,
of happiness,
of pleasure,
of peace,
of love.

You have a moment in your life.
With that moment you have power.
To influence the feelings of others;
with anger,
with frustration,
with sadness,
with happiness,
with peace,
with joy,
with love.

You have a moment in you life.
Your life is this moment.
And this moment is;
every minute,
of every hour,
of every day.

You have a moment in your life.
What going to do, with your moment?
Are you going to;
be happier,
be giving,
be caring,
be loving.

You have a moment in your life.
What are you choosing for your moment?
With your moment will others;
feel happier,
feel appreciated,
feel needed,
feel loved.

You have a moment in your life.
Your life is your moment,
You choose how to live it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The End of the Best of Times

I was very disturbed after the terrorist attacks on 9-11-2001. Was it a sign of latter day events? I spent two weeks having great anxiety about it. I came to the conclusion that we had more time, that it was a warning, a precursor, a start but not the end.

In the September conference President Hinckley gave a talk called “Living in the Fulness of Times”.
In it he said the vision of Joel has been fulfilled, meaning that the signs and events of the second coming have started. He mentioned that all the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah haunt or society. But was reassuring in what the church stands for and what it will become. We must understand that Zion cannot be established until Babylon falls. Not that I am eager for the fall of Babylon, but know it must happen.

He also gave a talk entitled “The Times in Which We Live”.
The following are quotes from that talk.
“I have just been handed a note that says that a U.S. missile attack is under way. I need not remind you that we live in perilous times. I desire to speak concerning these times and our circumstances as members of this Church.”
“I cannot forget the great lesson of Pharaoh’s dream of the fat and lean kine and of the full and withered stalks of corn.
I cannot dismiss from my mind the grim warnings of the Lord as set forth in the 24th chapter of Matthew.
I am familiar, as are you, with the declarations of modern revelation that the time will come when the earth will be cleansed and there will be indescribable distress, with weeping and mourning and lamentation (see D&C 112:24).
Now, I do not wish to be an alarmist. I do not wish to be a prophet of doom. I am optimistic. I do not believe the time is here when an all-consuming calamity will overtake us. I earnestly pray that it may not. There is so much of the Lord’s work yet to be done. We, and our children after us, must do it.”

Some interesting things to note;
The number 7 seams to be significant with the Lord meaning complete, 3.5 is also significant meaning incomplete.
The missile attack started during October Conference, and at the end of Sukkot a Jewish holyday, celebrated for ending the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
President Hinckley spoke of Pharaoh’s dream. Joseph was separated from his brethren. Stored grain for 7 yrs, which faithfulness allowed him to save his brothers both physically and spiritually. Most of us are descendents of Joseph and have a similar responsibility in the last days. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 124:58)
We have been told for years to store food and are now we are starting to see a food shortage.
September 2008 will start the Seventieth Jubilee year.
April 5, 2009 is conference and an important day in the Mayan, Venus, Mercury and Hebrew calendars.

I’m not in the least saying that I think the second coming will happen then. In fact, I’m sure that is several years off. I do think however, that the time to prepare is drawing short.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Random thoughts about me

My Daughter tagged me so here are the random thoughts about me.

1. I have gray hair and a granddaughter, but don’t feel that old.

2. I have been more blessed than anyone I know, with a good wife and marriage, three wonderful kids, a wonderful son and daughter in-law and the most wonderful granddaughters, (ones still on the way).

3. I always want to help others but am always cautious that, I don’t get taken advantage of, or take away the lesson god is trying to teach them. Sometimes the difficult things we go through are for us to learn important lessons.

4. I have always wanted to wean America and the world of petroleum or the current rapid use of it. It is a limited supply and when we run out, life as we know it will no longer exist. It influences every aspect of our life.

5. There have only been two people in my life that I could not like. One was our downstairs neighbor in collage. He put his kids to bed at 6:00 and we put ours to bed at 8:00. In a very self righteous way he let the entire neighborhood and church group know how horrible we were. The other was an attorney. Nothing against attorneys, I have a lot of very good friends who are attorneys. But this guy was such a snake. There have been a few more that I have simply chosen not to like.

6. I’m a reformed hick. I grew up in a very small town less than 500 people even now. I had a very poor education. I now have a degree in Physics and work as a scientist for a major utility. I will make that a Blog story someday.

7. Someday I’m going to build my own electric hybrid car. I’ve been saying that for 25 years and am not much close than I was then, but still want to do it.

8. My mind is constantly coming up with new ideas but I never have the time or money to try them. I’m hoping that will change with this new job.

9. Four things I worry about happening to the US. I added this, only because I fell we need to be prepared for such things. 1. Another terrorist attack, it would cripple our sagging economy. 2. Large natural disasters, the frequency of natural disasters have been ever increasing, it would be another blow to the economy. 3. Loss of supply of petroleum, this would be a final blow to the economy, we are totally dependent on petroleum. 4. Anarchy, from a failed economy.