All I got my wife for Christmas were ducks. I wasn’t too surprised when she said that was all she wanted. She always says something like that. I never believe her, so I always try to get her something big, something that will totally impress her. But it seems to never work. Gifts really aren’t her thing. We don’t have a place for ducks in our back yard. Even if we did the HOA wouldn’t go for it. I’m sure the quacking would get us lots of those nasty letters. Besides, who wants’ to clean up duck poop; dog poop is bad enough. So she didn’t actually get the ducks. The ducks went to some under privileged family in some underdeveloped country. My wife likes the charitable organization, Heifer International (http://www.heifer.org). They provide livestock, training, and a “pass it along” program to help families become self sufficient. I wasn’t going to get her just ducks this year. But I attended a (Mormon) Christmas devotional (http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,8921-1-5016-2,00.html) and listened to President Monson speak and thought, “If all she wants for Christmas is something for others, why not?” There are a lot of people who are doing without this Christmas. Why should we spend a lot of money on each other while others are suffering? So this year our Christmas money went to helping others. Her gift to me was a scrapbook page listing some of the gifts and service we had given to others. But isn’t that what Christmas is supposed to be all about? This and being able to spend time with my family made this a great Christmas. My wife thinks I gave the best gift of all this year. Lucky me. Next year she wants a water buffalo.
My neighbor was put in a rest home to die. I felt that I needed to go visit him, and had some impressions as to what to say to him. We had often visited in the in the front yard. We hadn’t been close, but I think he considered me a friend. It is hard to go visit someone that knows they are dying. What do you say to comfort them?
During the visit, it was very clear that he was very scared of death. He had never been very religious, but knew that I was and was looking for some form of comfort. I assured him that death wasn’t the end. I explained some of my experiences after my fathers passing, when I felt his presence, which gave me the assurance that death wasn’t the end.
I then explained that the things that were important here weren’t going to be important on the other side. That the things that would be important on the other side would be Light and Truth, which he would need to seek it. I explained that when he died, he would have loved ones that had already died come to meet him.
I was nervous about what he would think about what I was telling him but he seamed to find comfort in it. He then said that he believed me because he had been very sick once and his mother who had died earlier had come to him.
I have often reflected back on that experience, the conversation and the feeling that was there. But is finding light and truth only important after we die?
We live in a world where truth is hard to find. Everyone is selfishly seeking their own interest and beliefs, bending the truth to confirm to their own desires. It’s sad when people use deceptions to manipulate others, the consequences are seldom good. I don’t want to hear someone’s opinion; I want to know the truth.
I love science, because of the truths it contains. But I find myself very frustrated with science being used for politics, or as a basis to either prove or disprove personal beliefs. I would often get frustrated in collage when the professor would go on about theories based on some claimed scientific finding. I would say to myself, “Just give me the scientific facts, if I want a theory, I will come up with it myself”. I mostly thought this when the theory would conflict with logic or it just didn’t feel true.
I love the word of God because it is filled with truth. In it, is a truth that builds upon truth, so by studying it you can gain a greater and greater level of truth.
I love the spirit of Truth. That by it (through studying and pondering) you can know the truth; past, present, or future. That by that spirit you can know often know of things to come, and be guided through life. By it I have often known thing that were going to happen, long before they happened. But the spirit of truth cannot teach truths we are not willing to hear, learn and understand.
I was sitting on the floor working on homework when someone knocked on the front door. My mother answered the door. It was someone selling tickets for a fund raiser they were having in a neighboring town about 15 miles away. My mother told him that she couldn’t afford to buy a ticket. He seemed desperate to sell her one, but she was unwilling to buy one.
I had one dollar in my pocket and was tempted to buy a ticket, mostly because he seamed so desperate to sell them. The other reason was one of the prizes was a chainsaw. We needed to get wood for the winter, so we really needed a chainsaw. My father had passed away the year before and all the chainsaws he owned went with his business partner. I knew wood was our only means of keeping warm through the cold winters.
I remember my mothers concerned conversations with my older brother about what to do for wood and how to get it without a chainsaw. She had asked some of the neighbors about borrowing their saws, but they were reluctant. Perhaps for concern that only her young boys would be running it. They all talked about helping us, but no one seemed to have time.
I was just about to buy a ticket, when he said “OK” and left. I thought, it was just as well, “we probably wouldn’t win and why waste the only dollar I had”. I knew what my mother didn’t yet know what to do for winter wood. Perhaps she truly didn’t have any money, or like me thought we had no chance of winning and didn’t want to waste what little money she had.
Some time later she got a phone call telling her that she had won the chainsaw. To which she replied “There must be a mistake, we didn’t buy a ticket”. The man replied “All I know is that I have a ticket here with your name on it”.
We never found out how they got a ticket with my mothers name on it, or how it ended up being the one drawn. But we desperately need the saw. It allowed us to get the necessary wood we needed for the winter, so my mother could keep her seven children warm. Perhaps it was God’s way of rewarding us for the service my dad had given before he died, see http://omegathoughts.blogspot.com/2008/12/white-christmas.html.
When I was about 6 or 7, I was wandering through the back yard when I came upon my older brother. Who was in the process of using bailing wire to tie the wagon to the milk cow’s tail.
For the non hick people, my older brother would milk the cow night and morning. So she was been used to him doing unusual things to her, though I couldn’t understand her standing there and allowing him to do this. Also bailing wire is one of the greatest inventions on earth. Initial purpose is to keep bails of hay together, but a country hick can find a thousand uses for it. Could fix most anything with it, well it would usually hold for a little while anyway. So it was perfect for attaching the wagon to the cow’s tail.
Back to the story. So while wondering through the back yard I came across my brother in the process of attaching the wagon to the cows’ tail. I thought to myself “this could be entertaining, I should stay and watch”! I tried to stay my distance out of direct eyesight of my brother. I only wanted to be entertained and not be involved in any way.
It didn’t work my brother noticed me and said “George get in the wagon, and I’ll chase the cow”. Well, I may be a dumb little hick kid, but I’m not stupid, there was no way I was going to get in that wagon. He said “OK then, I’ll get in the wagon and you chase the cow”. To me that was a good idea, involvement I would risk.
So he got in the wagon. I don’t understand why cows ignore little kids jumping up and down and hollering at them. She just stood their chewing her cud. He said “see she is not going anywhere, you get in the wagon and I will chase her”. She really wasn’t going anywhere, so I got in the wagon.
My brother started hollering at her. She took a few steeps, that was enough for me I was ready to get out. But we had a cow dog. He was always very eager to help chase the cows when ever the opportunity arose. Just as I was about to get out, I heard the dog barking at the cow. And she took off running, with me still in the wagon.
All I could do is hold on and scream as though my life was about to end. I wasn’t sure it wasn’t going to. This excited the dog even more who started biting the cows heals. This made the cow run faster and me scream louder. Did the dog really think that, making the cow run faster was going to save me?
To make matters worse the cow was headed for the plowed section of the pasture. When you plow a field it leaves large ripples in the field. Each ripple was a little ramp to make me and the wagon become airborne, coming down just in time to become airborne by the next ripple. This added a whole new challenge to holding on to the wagon, screaming and keeping it from tipping over. I’m sure it also added some discomfort to the cow, not that I cared about the cow.
To my salvation my mother heard my screams. She looked out the kitchen window to see her son flying through the plowed field, in the little red wagon, behind the cow, screaming his head off. She called for my dad, who stepped out the back door and whistled for the dog. The dog immediately stopped chasing the cow, and come to my dads call. The cow immediately then stopped, probably now tired of pulling a screaming kid in a wagon, by her tail.
Not willing to chance any more of this experience, I jumped out of the wagon as fast as I could and headed for the house as fast as I could. My dad was walking out to where my brother was. My only comfort from the horrible humiliating ordeal, was knowing that my brother was going to get in big trouble.
When I got to where my dad and brother were, I realized that they were both laughing. This was horrible, I wanted some sort of vengeance on my brother, and I wasn’t getting it. Desperate of some sort of vengeance, I turned and gave the cow a dirty look. This made them both laugh even harder.
I had only wanted to be entertained, not be the entertainment.
My mother has this thing with mice. We had lots of them in the grainery, as a kid I would go and find the baby mice there. They were tiny and cute, especially the little pink ones with no hair. I would always take them in to the house because I knew they wanted to see My mother. They would look up and squeak and she would jump, dance and squeak (scream). I’m sure it was her way of communicating with them. This form of communication was too complex for a child to understand. She would quickly send me out the door with the mice. Not sure why she wanted to spend such little time with them.
On one another occasion she got up very early in the morning to go hunting. I think she was hunting neighbor’s dogs. She had been quite successful hunting in the past. Maybe she thought they were going to eat her mice. She clamed they were after her chickens. She was a very good shot. They claim that she could shoot pennies off a picket fence. I kept hoping she would win me a turkey at the annual turkey shoot, but she never competed. I think she was afraid of showing all the men up.
That morning the dogs got away but not before she had loaded a bullet in the gun. She came in the house and as she was walking through the kitchen one of her friendly mice saw her. Wanting to get closer to her the mouse ran up her leg. She got very excited about the mouse running up her leg. She started doing the jump, dance and scream thing. She got so excited with the dance that she lost her wits and pulled the trigger on the gun. Of course the gun went off and the bullet that was meant for a dog, shot a hole in the kitchen floor.
On another occasion I was in the bathroom doing what “regular” people do several times a day. While there one of my mother’s mice friends came up and started looking at me. I thought to myself “little mouse, it’s not me that you wanted to see, it’s my mother”. I didn’t want him to get discouraged and run away, before he had a chance to see my mother, so I carefully placed the toilet plunger over him. I then went and got my mother. I brought my mother in the bathroom. Thinking they would want privacy for their little communication ritual, I closed the door to the bathroom.
After closing the door I removed the toilet plunger from off the mouse. My mother immediately did her jump, dance and scream ritual. She jumped so high that she landed on the rim of the toilet. Little boys are supposed to put the lid up and I had. I was very impressed with my mother, up until this point I never realized that she could do her mouse dance on the rim of a toilet.
Several years later while driving through Utah I stopped at a truck stop for gas. While paying for gas I looked down and they had a box with a slide lid on it. When I slid the lid a fake mouse come out and hit my had. I said to the teller “I have to get this for my mother for Mother’s day”. She said “you wouldn’t”. I don’t think she understood how much my mother likes mice. I gave it to my mother and waited to see if she would do the jump, dance and scream thing with a fake mouse. She did. I went to the back bedroom and within a few minutes heard a knock on the door. It was her visiting teachers. She said “look what my son got me for Mother’s day”. I then head a scream, then someone say “what is it”? Then I heard another scream. I was so glad she was able to share her love for mice with others.
For her 75 birthday party I thought about bringing a mouse so the grandkids could learn how to do the jump, dance and scream thing. But I decided she was probably too old to jump and dance like she used to.
After the stock market fell 777.7 points on the seventh jubilee, seven years after 9-11 and president Hinckley talk of Pharaoh’s dream of seven years of plenty and seven years of lean, I spent lot of time pondering our current state, and what was coming next. I began to realize that for Zion to be established, Babylon must fall. With this pondering, I wondered what I would tell family and friends if I had the opportunity.
The following conference Elder Christofferson gave a talk called “Come to Zion” in that talk he said exactly what I had been pondering and wished I could say. Ironically today I’ve been asked to speak on the “Gathering of Zion”. I will take much of my talk from the talk given by Elder Christofferson’s. He said.
Zion is both a place and a people. Zion was the name given to the ancient city of Enoch in the days before the Flood. “And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion” (Moses 7:19). This Zion endured for some 365 years (see Moses 7:68). The scriptural record states, “And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is fled” (Moses 7:69). Later, Jerusalem and its temple were called Mount Zion, and the scriptures prophesy of a future New Jerusalem where Christ shall reign as “King of Zion,” when “for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest” (Moses 7:53, 64).
The Lord called Enoch’s people Zion “because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). “For this is Zion—the pure in heart” (D&C 97:21
The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory.
The antithesis and antagonist of Zion is Babylon. It focuses on selfishness, for which it offers the world goods. Its worldliness, its worship of evil, and our captivity in it, make Babylon the symbol of decadent societies and spiritual bondage today as it was anciently.
They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.
(Doctrine and Covenants Section 1:16)
The Lord said to the members of His Church, “Go ye out of Babylon; gather ye out from among the nations, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (D&C 133:7). He called for the elders of His Church to be sent forth across the world to accomplish this gathering, commencing an effort that continues in full vigor today.
And so today the Lord’s people are gathering “out from among the nations” as they gather into the congregations and stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that are scattered throughout the nations. Nephi foresaw that these “dominions” would be small but that the Lord’s power would descend “upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, … who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they [would be] armed with righteousness” (see 1 Nephi 14:12–14). The Lord calls upon us to be beacons of righteousness to guide those who seek the safety and blessings of Zion:
Joseph Smith sought to establish Zion in his day but was unsuccessful. Under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, early members of the Church attempted to establish the center place of Zion in Missouri, but they did not qualify to build the holy city.
Why? Because he could not get the people to become a Zion people. In other words he could not get them to become pure in heart and they were greatly afflicted. The Lord said. 2 I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions;
(Doctrine and Covenants Section 101:2)
4 Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son. 5 For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified. It’s interesting that part of their chastening including traveling across a wilderness, rebuilding their lives, homes and temple. I’m sure this experience helped them be more united. Because of there transgressions they had to endure chastening and trials. We must be willing to endure chastening. The hardships we may be called to endure will be worth it, if in the end we can become a Zion people. But if we cannot endure chastening and learn to love and care for one another, we must fall with Babylon.
If it is important for us to become a Zion people perhaps its important to consider why Zion has failed in the past. The Lord explained some of the reasons for their failure:
6 Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.
(Doctrine and Covenants Section 101:4 - 6)
“They have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; “And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom” (D&C 105:3–4).
Because of things they were denied the privilege of becoming a Zion people.
How close are we to that wrath? Elder Christofferson’s said. Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens. Remember, “the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). If we would establish Zion in our homes, branches, wards, and stakes, we must rise to this standard. It will be necessary (1) to become unified in one heart and one mind; (2) to become, individually and collectively, a holy people; and (3) to care for the poor and needy with such effectiveness that we eliminate poverty among us. We cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen—Zion will come only as they happen.
I was attending a weeding in the temple and the worker asked “what is the fundamental unit of Zion?” Then he said “the family”. It made a lot of since. Zion must start with the family. Are our families Zion families?
While going through collage my wife did childcare in our home, to help keep us feed. She became what she referred to as a “motor mouth”. She would constantly praise each child for any good behavior. “Look how well John is playing, that is so nice of you to share, look Dan ate all his beans.” As soon as she would praise on kid, all the other kids would try to do the same, so she would praise them. I was amazed at how much more effective praising the good behavior was, at keeping peace and order, then harping on the negative. Positive reinforcement is also more effective at changing behavior than criticism.
My mother used to always say “if you don’t have anything good to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.”
We should ask ourselves if we have overcome were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires (see D&C 101:6). Are we individually and as a family ward and stake, free from strife and contention and united “according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom”?
And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; (Doctrine and Covenants Section 105:5)
I believe that all beings of a celestial order have pure love for all others, and if they cannot develop that kind of love, they will not be there.
This doesn’t mean you need to support wickedness. It is often difficult to judge between unconditional love and supporting wickedness. For if we truly loving someone we will not and cannot support their wickedness.
Many of us have been to the temple and made convents there. We are not to speak evil of the Lords anointed. If we were sealed in the temple and we speak evil of our spouse, are we not speaking evil of the Lords anointed.
I have few memories of my dad before he passed away. But I remember him standing around with a group men who were complaining about their wives. It was clear they wanted him to join in on the wife bashing. One turned to him directly asking a question, which would have required a negative comment about my mother. He refused to answer. His silence, silenced their wife bashing. His refusal to speak ill of my mother set a lasting impression on me, one that I have tried to follow in my life.
So why must we become a Zion people and what is the purpose of the “gathering of Zion”? “And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth” (D&C 115:5–6).
At this point we are not called to leave the physical Babylon but we are called to spiritually leave it. The day may come to physically leave Babylon, but if we haven’t spiritually left Babylon, then we may not be able to physically leave Babylon.
It is my prayer that as Babylon falls; we will be prepared in our heart and mind to establish Zion. Our very survival my well depend on it.
For years I have wanted to experiment with an idea of using the earth’s thermo mass capabilities as a means to reduce the heating and cooling demand of your home. So on Memorial Day weekend I decided I would dig up my back yard to experiment with the idea. Went to the hardware store and bought a bunch of pipe and tubing to put in the ground and some grounding rods to work as temperature conduits. I rented a mini excavator to dig a trench. My plan was to dig down about 9 ft deep (the temperature stays mostly constant below 12ft) and then sink grounding rods another 8. I was going to dig a 20 ft ditch and install 15 grounding rods. I estimated this would give me approximately one ton of cooling capacity.
So I put together a manifold of pipes and tubes (see picture). The manifold was to allow me different ways to test my theory. I rented a mini excavator and started digging. First problem, I hit caliche (dirt as hard as rock) at 4 feet and couldn’t go any deeper. The excavator would just scrape the dirt. I decided I had already made the manifold so I may as well put it in at 4 ft. Next I tried to pound the grounding rods with a 25 lb jack hammer. I could only get them about 2 ft into the soil. So I got an auger hooked it to a drill and could get down about two feet that way. So in all I was only able to sink the grounding rods about 4 feet. It was frustrating,
So I made a mess of my back yard. Spent a lot of money and couldn’t get it deep enough. I may still be able to get some information from it. I will have to see if it ends up saving me any money on my cooling bill. At least I tried to do one of my new year’s regulations.
Last month I helped my daughter move to Idaho. Her husband is going to school their. It was a great brake from the regular grind of work. They were able to find a county home to rent. It’s great their closest neighbor is about a half mile away. There are fruit trees, a garden spot and lots of cows.
I’m really a country hick and loved being on the farm. I would trade them houses if I could move my job their. It was nice to get away from the desk job and spend some time doing real physical work. They had a huge crab apple tree that needed trimming so the owner let us use his chain saw and trim it. We also pruned the fruit trees. It was especially nice to be able to spend some time working with my son in-law and getting to know him better.
My daughter in-law also went with her daughter. It was good to be able to spend some time with them, my daughter and her daughter. I’m truly blessed to have such great children, son and daughter in-law and grand daughters. They don’t come any better, and it’s not that I’m bias. They and my wife are truly the greatest blessing in my life.
On our way up my son in-law and had the privilege of attending the LDS general priesthood session (A semi-annual meeting for men 12 and up) in the new conference center in Salt Lake City. This is the first time I have had the privilege of being in the LDS conference center. I was impressed by its size and structure, but I was more impressed to be in the same room with Prophets and Apostles. To hear them speak for our time, the things that are coming, and receive their advice how we should live our lives and prepare for the future.
It was also a privilege to be a building with 21,333 other good men. Not that any of us are perfect, but to be with that many other men who were listing and seeking to improve their lives. To think that there are also thousands more gathered in chapels throughout the world listing to the same messages. I sometimes get frustrated over all the evil in the world, but it’s comforting to know there are also a lot of good people. That gives me hope in the future. Hope in knowing that as the wicked get more wicked the righteous will get more righteous.
For college students good part time jobs were hard to come by. I found a job driving school busses in the winter which lead me to a job driving Grayhound Busses in the summer. I was responsible for driving the second bus when the first bus was full. I would drive from Flagstaff AZ, where I was attending NAU, to Gallop NM and spend the night and drive another bus back.
My wife was pregnant with our third child. She had started having contractions one evening and sure enough they called wanting me to drive one of the busses to Gallop. I told them my wife was in labor and they would have to get someone else. They said they would get someone else, so we went to the hospital. Unfortunately it was false labor and so we ended up going back home.
I got to bed around midnight but couldn’t sleep. I keep getting the impression that I needed to go down to the bus station. Because of this, I knew they hadn’t found another bus driver. I got dressed and told my wife I needed to go down to the bus station. She couldn’t understand why, I had not received any phone call telling me I needed to.
When I got their sure enough there was a bus full of very angry passengers. The bus station was closed and they had been waiting there for hours with nothing to eat and no where to go. Had I not come they would have had to spend the night in the bus. The bus station being closed they had called everyone they could think of including the police. Needless to say they were very happy to see me. I called and woke my boss up to tell him I was driving the bus to Gallop.
When I got on the bus, some of the more aggressive passengers started questioning me. The conversation went something like this. “Did the bus company call you?” “NO” “Did the police get a hold of you? “NO” Then who called you? “No one.” A moment of silence. “Then how did you know we needed a driver?”
I thought “how do I answer this one, I want to be honest but they will think I’m crazy”. So I simply looked out over the bus full of passengers and said, “Someone Prayed”. The bus went silent, as I looked at them a lady in the third row, isle seat, sheepishly made the slightest hand signal, which only I could see. I said, “That’s why I’m here.” I then got in the drivers seat, started the bus and drove them to Gallop.
It wasn’t the anger, rage and phone calls of the aggressive passengers that got them safely to Gallop that night. It was the lady in the third row who humbly prayed.
Last night we rented Fireproof from blockbuster. Part way through I found myself thinking that it was just a come to Jesus movie. But it actually had a good plot. It was about a fireman who ends up trying to save his marriage, with a lot of the struggles that most marriages face. It included his struggles to overcome his selfishness and additions, and coming to truly love those important people in his life. Problems we all face.
I realized it was one of the first modern movies that weren’t promoting Sex, Violence and Homosexuality. It is getting more and more difficult to find good movies. Is it getting to the point that the only movies they aren’t promoting evil are from a few religious groups. Clearly the division between good and evil is widening.
Satan has most all the modern media is serving him and promoting all forms of evil. A company would have to pay millions for that much advertising. By they have willfully become his advertising network. The sad thing is that he doesn’t have to pay, we pay for it. We call it a little entertainment. It is no wonder we are considered by some to be the great Satan, if this is all they have to judge us by.
OK, it new years and everyone is making these goals. I wasn’t going to do it because I usually don’t keep them anyway. But I decided to do it anyway. So here is my goal.
Take one of my multiple invention ideas and complete it.
OK, that's it, my one and only goal. All my life I have had tons of ideas but never felt I had the time or money to do it. Most of them are related to energy conservations or efficiency of some sort. So this year I’m going to do it. I will post what it is and the results.
Also, I would like to also finish my back yard, put in security cameras, organize my garage, loose 15 lbs, work on a book, etc. But those aren’t goals they are tasks, which I will try to do also.