UA-44334008-1

Family

23

Yes, that’s me. What a cutie. I’m guessing it was taken almost 50 years ago. Now why would I trot out an ancient photograph of myself? Because a couple of things have driven my introspection over the past 24 hours. (An as you know, when I am feeling self-reflective, you’ll know it.) Today’s topic: How that kid became this man.

First, last night my friend Lori dragged us into a Facebook vortex by posting a personality type test. You know the kind – they ask a zillion questions, many impossible to answer, then lump everyone into a pre-defined personality type. For the record, I turned out to be an “ESTP,” which means I am of the same personality type as Stephen R. Covey, FDR, Taylor Swift, and the Marquis de Sade. Yeah, I don’t know what to make of it, either.

I am a bit of a cynic. Until I see a personality test or a horoscope that offers insight like “You are mean to children and old people,” I will brush them off.

The test DID get me thinking about why I am like I am. What influences, behaviors, genetics and experiences melded and molded me into who I am today? Add to it out knowledge of the eternal nature of our spirits and their associated personalities, it gets even harder to decipher. Yet here I am – Me – and I am the only one.

Last night, we went to see the movie “Wonder.” If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it highly. If you’ve read the book, you know the story.

Here is the synopsis as found on Fandango:

“A ten-year-old boy with a facial deformity attends school for the first time when he begins the fifth grade. With the support of his mother and father, he learns how to make friends and adjust to his new environment. Meanwhile, those around him learn not to judge a book by its cover.” (link)

What the synopsis doesn’t mention is that it is also a beautifully addressed broadside at bullying and unkindness. I know everyone has experienced those things to one degree or another. Yet it was childhood memories that caused me to watch this movie through teary eyes, and occasional ugly sobs. It tore me up.

I was not bullied as a young kid, but a bit in high school. For the most part, I had a pretty great childhood. What tore at my heart, and pried open memories from long ago was that I identified with “Via,” the main character’s sister, and how her life fit in.  Watching it play out onscreen was hard, yet cathartic. I wrote a little bit about that aspect of my childhood previously, so please indulge me…

I grew up with two brothers – one older, one younger. My older brother struggled with severe mental and physical handicaps. He had a difficult childhood as he tried to make his way through “Special Ed” schools, surgeries, medications, and social stigma. It was hard for him. Nevertheless he was a happy soul, full of kindness, energy and love. Most of the time.

I remember one afternoon, I was out riding my bike with my friends after school, because that’s what eight-year-olds did back then. We heard a siren, and watched to see where it was coming from, so we could chase the fire engine – again, because that’s what eight-year-olds did back then. We not only saw a fire truck, but an ambulance and a police car! We peddled furiously to get to where they were going.

As we drew closer, I realized that there was a police car already parked in my driveway. I stopped. My friends circled back and encouraged me to keep up. By this time, the fire engine, and the ambulance had arrived, and were parked in front of my house, along with a gathering crowd.

I turned my StingRay around, and peddled off. I spent the next few hours avoiding my house. I knew what had happened: My brother had had another one of his “episodes” and this one must have been a doozy. The specifics didn’t matter – I just wanted to be somewhere else. Anywhere else.

Eventually, I went home. Not because I wanted to, but it was starting to get dark, and I was terrified about how angry my parents were going to be for pulling a vanishing act. But I needed to go home, and find out what had happened.

I don’t remember the details. The house was quiet. My parents were in their room. I think I talked to my big sister, ate something, and went to bed. There was no anger. To this day, I’m not sure that anyone even noticed that I had even been gone.

That was just one of the things that irritated me about growing up with a handicapped brother. Sure, I loved him, and have many happy memories of him from my childhood, but there are other, less noble memories.  There were times that I resented him, because his needs were always more urgent. I was embarrassed by him, and felt I was constantly having to explain about him, or apologize for him, to other people. We had little in common, but thankfully, I had a sister who filled the older sibling role perfectly. I’m not proud of those feelings, and I wasn’t back then – but that was my reality.

Sadly, on some days – like that day – I was afraid of him. Once in a while, when pressures, or medications or emotions were out of whack, violence could appear. It was rare, but it was scary. And dangerous. And that is all you need to know.

For me, one of the more difficult parts of growing up has been learning how to accept my brother. It is a process that was accelerated when he passed away some years ago, but I’m not finished yet. I still deal with regret and remorse that I did not love him more, try to understand him more, and defend him more. Now, with grownup eyes, I look back at his life and I am awed at what he was able to accomplish, given the specific challenges he faced. My life is so easy, so complete, so fulfilling. I get to experience the joy of marriage and children, and so many other things he never could.

I have come to the conclusion that my brother has secured a very exalted place in the heavens above, and I anticipate that when I get there, I will probably need to make an appointment just to see him.

So “Wonder” did hit some chords with me. Now here I sit with my “ESTP” personality wondering how I got to be who I am, and what things helped that to happen. Admittedly, it is usually an exercise in focusing on the negative traits I might wrestle with. Why? Because of a movie and an internet test. This could go south,  except…

Self-reflection can be a good thing, if it leads to change. Maybe there is something in my personality test that reinforces a nagging feeling in my heart that I just might need to make some adjustments. Perhaps some feelings I had from my childhood have impacted me in a way that might require some adjusting. I say this fully aware that my upbringing was pretty darn good. I had stable, loving parents, everything a kid could ask for, and Gilligan. So many have not had such good fortune.

I have a friend who is knee-deep in writing a memoir that tells the story of a much tougher life. Writing it down requires wrestling some ghosts and demons that have long been dormant. It has been a difficult but worthwhile process.

Back in the 80’s there was an obscure song by the band “James.” I mostly remember it because of one lyric.

“Stop, stop talking about who’s to blame, when all that counts is how to change.”

That simple phrase often comes to mind as I see examples in a society that is focused on victimhood, and its associated justifications. Do I cling to past slights or experiences as justification to accept things about myself that could be improved upon? Has the thought “That’s just the way I am,” ever crossed my mind?

Do I have character traits that stem from my life experiences or upbringing that could use some remodeling? Probably.

Is that kind of change even possible? Is it possible to let go of guilt that has been hoarded for decades? Is it possible to let go of feelings or grudges held and nurtured for a lifetime? Yes, but it can be difficult. But that is the nature of our challenge here in this life: To change. Thankfully we have the Gospel and the Savior.

“The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through the Savior’s Atonement.” (Elder David A. Bednar)

Just this past April, Elder Jeffrey Holland said, “Come as you are,” a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds, “Don’t plan to stay as you are.” We smile and remember that God is determined to make of us more than we thought we could be.” (link)

The very purpose of Gospel of Jesus Christ is to help us change, and become better versions of ourselves

I fear that sometimes we reduce the effect of the Atonement to that of a “spiritual car wash.” We show up every Sunday (as we should)  with repentant hearts, take the sacrament and leave, happy to be cleansed. That is true and worthy, but it minimizes the tremendous additional impact that is available. Rather than just a spiritual car wash, the Atonement can function as a spiritual mechanic and body shop – perpetually rebuilding, adjusting and fine-tuning.

“Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988, p. 361.)

Am I insecure at times? You betcha. As I should be. One of the dumbest feel-good expressions I hear nowadays is “You are perfect just the way you are.”

So much nonsense! If I were perfect the way I am, I wouldn’t need to depend on the Savior and His Atonement. He – along with the Holy Ghost to help with the heavy lifting – can help me make the changes I need to make. Because that is why I am here.

I am grateful that a worthy movie, conversation or prompting can stir my heart to remembrance of the blessings and challenges in my life, and also the reminder that I am yet a work in progress – and will continue to be until I draw my last breath.

 

21

1951 was an important year to me. I wasn’t born yet, but the ramifications of what happened will live with me forever. Pull up a chair, and I will tell you all about it…

A teenage girl, living in Gresham, Oregon was looking to find a church she could attend. She and a friend went “church shopping” until they came across the L.D.S. Church. After attending, she met with the missionaries, and received the lessons. A bit later, just before her 18th birthday, she was baptized a member of the Church.

That’s it.

That’s the whole story. One of the most crucial and far-reaching events that impacted my life can be told in one simple paragraph.

That young lady was my Mom, and that is the extent of my knowledge regarding her conversion. Pathetic, no? I don’t know if it was just never the topic of conversation, or if I just have a cruddy memory, but that’s all I got. I talked to my sister and she told me essentially the same thing. I called a cousin who has, by attrition, become the “memory of the family.”  She didn’t remember any details, either.

Easy answer? Ask Mom.

Problem? She died in 1999, and Dad followed a few years later.

Unless some eighty six-year-old returned missionary who served a mission in Oregon back in the ’50’s stumbles across this blog post, it looks like that is all the info we will have regarding my mom’s conversion. We won’t know what motivated her, how she gained a testimony, what the circumstances were surrounding her conversion, how the family reacted. Nada.

Now, who shall I blame? I can shoulder part of it for not being more curious when she was around. I should have asked questions, and remembered the answers. I can also fault her and my dad for never telling/reminding us about it. Ultimately, the fault is on all of us because…

Nobody ever wrote it down.

There’s no journal entry, no family history, no personal history, no notes from a talk, no audio recordings – nothing. It may not have mattered to me then, but it does now, and the resources are gone. The story is lost to me and my kids, and my grandkids. This is especially egregious because I love conversion stories. They build my faith, and strengthen my testimony.

Lame.

Two weeks from today I will be hosting my annual event: International Hug a Convert Day. To any and all of you who are converts (by the Church’s definition) who have not written down your conversion story, please get on it. Don’t leave your posterity in the dark.

If you have an aging parent, or a young parent who is a convert who has not written their conversion story yet, help them out. Interview them, get some details. Don’t leave it hanging, like our family did. You will regret it.

Then, after you have your story written, send it to me at mmm@middleagedmormonman.com. I will gladly publish it on Sunday, September 3. Your story will be read by people all over the world. It will bless their lives. Writing it will bless YOUR life, and the lives of your posterity.

Get to it!

There is one more part to my mom’s story that I heard from her. Still, details are sketchy, as nobody wrote it down.

Apparently, before my mom (Marlene) was baptized, she sat her parents down and had a conversation that went something like this:

Marlene: “Mom, Dad, I have been searching for a church to attend, and I have decided to take the missionary lessons and join the Mormon Church.”

Gramma & Grampa: “That’s a coincidence – we’re Mormon, too!”

Marlene: “Wha…?”

Grampa: “Sure. We’re Mormons, we just haven’t been active. We come from a long Mormon Heritage. In fact, my great grandfather was Parley P. Pratt. He was a famous one. That’s why I am named Parley Pratt Grigg.”

The very next year my grandparents – who had already been married for 30 years – went to the temple, received their endowment, and were sealed to each other, and their kids – mom included. I don’t know anything about how this came about – did my Mom’s baptism “stir them up again in remembrance?”

I won’t know until I can ask them person.

Bummer.

Start typing.  Please.

*Yes, I am the adorable little tyke in the center of the photo.

2

This past Thursday I opened the door and found a FedEx box on my doorstep. I brought it inside and was thrilled to find it full of fresh cherries. Thrilled, but not surprised – I knew they were coming.

Last year I made a comment on Facebook about how I think that fresh cherries are even more proof that God loves us. Turns out that one of my Facebook friends/blog readers is a cherry grower in Washington. Not only does Ryan Christensen grow cherries, he has a terrific memory. A year later, he remembered and contacted me to make arrangements for the delivery.

The cherries are delicious, ripe, big and firm – better than the kind we usually can buy at the grocery store. According to Ryan, there is a reason for this. He told me, “I love to get farm fresh big cherries into the hands of people who love them. Truly, the US consumer never sees the best of what we can produce. They all go to Japan, Korea, China, and Australia. The domestic market gets the leftovers.”

This didn’t really surprise me because I knew from my dad’s work in the food industry that the stuff we can get at the grocery store is not nearly the quality of the stuff that gets shipped away, or offered to restaurants.  Quite literally, when it comes to fresh produce, we do get the “leftovers.”

Ryan’s comment that “US consumer never sees the best of what we can produce” got me, and (as I tend to do) I personalized it.

Does my family get the best of what I have to offer?

It is a serious question. I know that when I am at work, or with friends:

  • I do my best to be polite, friendly and kind – even if I have to “fake it ’til I feel it.”
  • I can tolerate all kinds of stupidity from friends, customers and coworkers without ever getting angry or raising my voice.
  • I can patiently listen to friends and clients drone on about nothing without cutting them off or tuning them out.
  • When an employee has something they need to discuss with me, I don’t reluctantly pause what I am doing and glare at them.
  • I don’t leave my junk strewn around the office.
  • I don’t leave my dirty dishes in the sink or used paper plates on the counter.
  • When someone needs help with a problem, I am quick to help resolve it.
  • I use more than mono-syllabic grunts to answer questions.
  • etc.

I can’t say the same thing about my behavior at home.

Why the double standard? Why do the most important people inside my home not deserve equal or superior treatment than the people I deal with outside my home?

It seems backwards. And I’m sure it isn’t just me. I know that there is plenty of behavior that goes on with our loved ones that would never be tolerated in the outside world. Some of it very disrespectful, crass, inappropriate and just plain gross.  Are our spouses and children exempt from the basic respect? Would you belch in a conference room, or leave the bathroom door open at the office?

Does my family see the best side of me, or does the “natural man” kick off his shoes and relax when he walks through the door?

I am sure that some will respond, “But home is where I can let down my guard and be myself and not have to worry about what everyone else is thinking.”

That does make sense – if that version of who we are is the better of the two. But if it isn’t, then isn’t the “domestic market getting the leftovers?”

There are ways I can improve. I still intend on kicking off my shoes and flopping on the bed when I get home some days – it is my house – but I am talking more about my personal interactions with my family. It is an interesting process to spend a few days being aware of the different ways we relate to family vs. non-family.

In some ways, the family wins: Affection, honesty, sacrifice, silliness, spirituality, long-term commitment, etc.

In some ways, the world wins: Respect, patience, promptness, politeness, cleanliness, etc.

I hope that I can pick the best of both worlds, and let my family enjoy the best of what I have to offer, rather than have them live with the leftovers.

“Being a Righteous Husband and Father,”  Howard W. Hunter.

“Hallmarks of a Happy Home,” Thomas S. Monson

President Joseph F. Smith said: “Fathers, if you wish your children to be taught in the principles of the gospel, … if you wish them to be obedient to and united with you, love them! and prove to them that you do love them by your every word or act to them. For your own sake, for the love that should exist between you and your boys—however wayward they might be, … when you speak or talk to them, do it not in anger; do it not harshly, in a condemning spirit. Speak to them kindly; get down and weep with them, if necessary, and get them to shed tears with you if possible. Soften their hearts; get them to feel tenderly towards you. Use no lash and no violence, but approach them with reason, with persuasion and love unfeigned. With this means, if you cannot gain your boys and your girls, there will be no means left in the world by which you can win them to yourselves.” (link)

11

 

Is this the little girl I carried?

Last night I danced with my little girl to the song “Sunrise Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof. A perfect choice because of what the song means, and what it means to us.

I think the last time Emily and I danced together, she was probably standing on my shoes with her tiny feet. She was our first child, and our only girl.  I spent most of the day either crying, or on the verge of tears as I reminisced about her life, and looked to her future. Good tears.

When did she get to be a beauty?

Emily looked like a princess. More importantly she radiated a happiness I had never seen in her before – probably because she was experiencing a degree of joy she had never experienced before. The entire day was beautiful, the Payson Temple, the luncheon, and the reception.

We saw old friends and met new ones. People came from all over the country to show their love to David and Emily. It was remarkable the bond that they have with so many people. Chrissie and I also felt so much love as people can to support us and our family.

They look so natural together, just like two newlyweds should be.

This was our third child to get married. (All since I began blogging, so you probably all know more than you want to.) It amazes and gladdens me that each of the three have been able to find a partner that is so perfect for them. In each case, their unions are stronger than the sum of the individuals.

Two quick MMM-type thoughts:

Finding that person to spend eternity with is not a task for the faint hearted. Emily is 29, and I know that at times she was getting a bit nervous. But to her credit, she spent those “alone” years achieving great accomplishments; building her career; amassing an army of loyal friends; serving others; attending the temple, and exploring the planet. She did not sit idly by and pine for “her prince to come.” She spent her time faithfully becoming an increasingly better version of herself.

If we are patient, and worthy, the Lord will set things in motion as He sees fit. Far too often we let our opinions or our impatience lead us to make hasty choices, or choose lesser options than what God would have blessed us with – had we just held on a little longer and given Him the chance.

Yesterday, Emily married the right person, at the right time, and in the right place.

 

Of all the beautiful things that happened yesterday, noting comes close to a few brief minutes in the sealing room in the temple. As the bride and groom covenanted with each other, and with God, a new family was created – a new family that has the potential to be an eternal family.

I truly believe that if the world truly understood the reality and significance of the sealing powers of the priesthood in the temple of God, the temples would be operating 24/7, and people would anxiously lined up for miles to receive this amazing gift.

 

“The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.” (link)

I know this to be true, and it is emblazoned on my heart every time one of my loved ones enters into the sacred covenants that make it possible.

As someone who gets to spend each day living a love story, I rejoice that my married children are experiencing the same. Sure, there will be struggles, but how much better is it to struggle with your sweetheart by your side?

 

“It is so rewarding to be married. Marriage is wonderful. In time you begin to think alike and have the same ideas and impressions. You have times when you are extremely happy, times of testing, and times of trial, but the Lord guides you through all of those growth experiences together.” (Richard G. Scott)

 

Yesterday was a glorious day. It is a beginning that came form a lifetime of hope, faith, obedience and trust in the Lord. I could not be happier for my little Emily.

 

I’m gonna go take a nap – crying while typing makes me sleepy.
One of life’s sweet moments

 

11

MMM note: As I was looking for a picture of my dad to post, I stumbled upon a Father’s Day talk that I gave to my ward back in 2008 when I was serving as the bishop. I had forgotten about it. I went in and added links, and  took out the stuff that would be specific to particular stewardship or congregation, and put in in a context that I can share with you, my friends. (Pull up a chair, it’s kind of long.) 

President Hinckley told a story in a masterful speech at BYU about “legacy” that you might remember:

“I thought of an experience I had long, long ago. In the summer we lived on a farm. We had a little old tractor. There was a dead tree I wished to pull. I fastened one end of a chain to the tractor and the other end to the tree. As the tractor began to move, the tree shook a little, and then the chain broke.

“I looked at that broken link and wondered how it could have given way. I went to the hardware store and bought a repair link. I put it together again, but it was an awkward and ugly connection. The chain was never, never the same.

“As I sat … pondering these things, I said to myself, ‘Never permit yourself to become a weak link in the chain of your generations.’ It is so important that we pass on without a blemish our inheritance of body and brain and, if you please, faith and virtue untarnished to the generations who will come after us.

“You young men and you young women, most of you will marry and have children. Your children will have children, as will the children who come after them. Life is a great chain of generations that we in the Church believe must be linked together.” (link)

Many of you come from great pioneer heritage. Many of you are actually the first link in a brand new chain of faithfulness. Thinking about legacy, and with it being Father’s Day, I would like to tell you a little about my father, and explain how his life fits in with President Hinckley’s teachings about the great chain of generations.

My father passed away back in 2003. His name was Horton David McBride – named after his great-grandfather Horton David Haight – one of the great early pioneers of the church. Elder Haight actually crossed the plains 14 times, bringing companies of saints to Zion.

On the other line, my father descended from John McBride – one of the victims of the Haun’s Mill massacre in 1838. My dad’s great-grandfather, James McBride was spared from the massacre only because he was sick that day, and did not go to the mill. James McBride went on to cross the plains with a company led by Brigham Young’s brother. James McBride settled what is now the town of Grantsville, Utah, and other parts of Southern Idaho. My father’s mother came through the Asael Smith line: Joseph Smith’s grandfather.

My father was part of a great legacy that stretches back to the very founding of the church, and by virtue of being his son, I share in that legacy.

While of great ancestry, my father was an ordinary guy, worked as an insurance salesman most his career, had hobbies, served in the church and led a pretty quiet life. It wasn’t until a few years before his death that I knew many details about his upbringing. I had thought that he was another link in a chain of strong, righteous generations, but I came to find out that the reality was different – the chain had been broken.

When my father was 5 years old, my grandmother died from complications of childbirth. My grandfather did not handle it well, and instead of pulling closer to his children, he withdrew from them. He found himself a girlfriend and took off – checking in on the kids occasionally, but abdicating his role of father to the older kids in the family. They did their best to run the ranch they lived on. My dad told stories about cooking breakfast for 10 men, carrying bales of hay and riding his horse to get the mail when he was under the age of 10.

When my Dad turned 8 years old, his father was nowhere to be found. One November afternoon a member of the bishopric took my father to the warm springs where the kids liked to swim. They cleared the moss from the surface of the water, and waded into the pond. My father was baptized, then confirmed at water’s edge by a leader that figured it “needed to be done.” Thank goodness for wise and worthy Priesthood leaders.

As a sophomore in High School, my dad found his family spreading out in all directions. His older brothers went to Montana to work with their father, leaving my dad behind in Idaho – effectively homeless. That year he slept at night out on the front porch of a lady named Mrs. Fippin – and he recalled that those Idaho winter nights were pretty cold to be sleeping on the porch.

His junior year he moved to Sandy, Utah (he got there by hitching a ride inside the trunk of a car) and lived with his older brother in what he referred to as a “shack” on what is now 90th South and State street. They would work in the fields during the summer to get by during the school year, and grew tomatoes on their plot of land. Senior year, his brother joined the air force, and my dad lived by himself in the shack – He was proud to tell me that even though he lived alone, he got himself to school everyday, and to church every week.

My Dad was in the Class of 1942. On graduation day, he walked down to the post office after school, and there, waiting for him, was his draft notice. He joined the Navy and reported to boot camp 30 days later. During those 30 days he received the Melchezedek Priesthood, and his patriarchal blessing. His blessing was so short that he did not anticipate ever coming home from the war.

He never talked much about WWII, but did express what a rude awakening it was for a young Mormon farm boy – the coarseness, and vulgarity, the alcohol and promiscuity were all new to him. He was surrounded by it all the time, but chose not to let it become part of his life.

He was stationed as a radio/morse code operator in the South Pacific, at Guadal Canal. When word came down that the war was over he said “There was a lot of shouting and celebrating. Everybody got drunk – except for me.”

He told one story about finding other members of the church:

“I remember one morning I had a call from a navy nurse. She said that she had examined all of the personnel records and that there were only three Mormons out of the hundreds of men stationed on the Island. A hospital ship had come into the harbor and she was on it. She was Mormon, I was another and there was one other sailor. We agreed that the three of us would get together and have a sacrament meeting. We got a jeep and drove out to a hill and we climbed to the top and sat on the ground and had our own sacrament meeting. We had a prayer and then we discussed things about the sacrament. We broke bread and had water, just the three of us. We bore our testimonies to one another. That was the only time while I was overseas that I was able to do anything with others in the church. The nurse and sailor shipped out and I never saw them again.”

Eventually he was discharged and went back home, ending up in Salt Lake City. He worked his way through the University of Utah as a short-order cook at the local Walgreens, getting a degree in Communications. He then did something that wasn’t required, or even commonplace at the time. At age 26 he decided to serve a mission. He was sent to Uruguay in the early ‘50s.

He had previously been told by a high school Spanish teacher that he would never, ever learn Spanish, and that he should give it up. It turned out that the first six months of his mission proved the teacher right. No matter how hard he worked, my Dad could not get the ear for the language. Frustrated and wanting to go home, he counseled with his Mission President, who gave him a blessing of encouragement, and invoked the gift of tongues on my father’s behalf. He emerged from the President’s office fluent in Spanish, and thereafter served an effective mission. Part of the time he served with Richard G Scott as his companion.

After his three years were up, it was off to Provo for a Master’s degree, a wife, and a family. He led a very normal life – went to work, came home, served in the church, built pinewood derbies that never were fast. He loved my mom and cared for her through many health issues. Raised four children, and saw all four of us to the temple and all four of us onto missions. After the youngest was sealed to his wife, I remember my Dad turning to me in the temple and exhaling a sigh of relief that he had been carrying for 32 years. Though never rich to the things of this world, he led a rich, meaningful life. He passed away in 2003 at age 78, and I miss him.

My father had every excuse, reason, environment or circumstance possible to turn his back on the legacy of his ancestors and the gospel – His father had already broken the chain. But instead of clinging to his father’s bad example, my dad re-established the legacy that I enjoy today. He re-forged the chain that I and my children and grandchildren are now part of. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been, and I owe him greatly.

I know that eventually I will see him again, and I will need to answer to him as to how I have preserved that chain, and if my link in that chain is intact and strong. In addition, I have a Savior who will want to know what I have done with His name as well, and if I have passed a legacy of testimony on to my children.

I know that one day I will make this report to the two most important men in my life. My father and my Savior. I feel a tremendous sense of duty and urgency to do everything I can possibly do to get it right. But I struggle. There are many things I work on constantly, yet still cannot master. As I identify things in my life that could be more refined, or should be stronger, or counsel that I receive from our leaders, I tend to pass that information onto you, my brothers and sisters. (My personal challenges often wind up as blog fodder.)

I know there are some who consider me ultra-orthodox, or too exacting, but at the heart of it, the reason that I push, pull and prod, is that I know that all of us will one day stand before our Savior and tell him of the legacy we have left for our children. We will also answer to those who went before us, and one day we will answer to those generations who will follow behind.

Yes that is pressure. Believe me, I feel it, and I imagine you all do, too.

– And that is OK.

Richard Edgely said: When Alma queried, “Have ye received Christ’s image in your countenances? he was talking about the attributes of true manhood.

Yes, Satan has his man and God has His man, and Satan has his characteristics of manhood and God has His. Satan would present his characteristics as the true measurement of manhood and God’s criteria as weak and wimpy. But one must understand that Satan’s criteria will almost always be the easiest and the wimpiest. Satan’s way takes no courage, no character, no personal strength, and it proves no manhood at all.

A true man does not let Satan lead him down the easy path with his everlasting chains of destruction. A true man is strong enough to withstand the wiles of Satan and humble enough to submit himself to the redemptive powers of the Savior.” (link)

N Eldon Tanner said: Always remember that people are looking to you for leadership and you are influencing the lives of individuals either for good or for bad, which influence will be felt for generations to come.” (link)

Fathers: Every minute of every day we are building the legacy for our children. To do it right requires strength, a willingness to let go of our own desires, and a commitment to be in it for the long haul.

Remember – doing a good job is like shaving…no matter how good you do it today, you’ve still got to do it tomorrow.

Parents, we need to look to our children and commit to do everything we can possibly do to make sure they are sent out of our nests with the strength and testimony. We need to get over ourselves and focus on the Lords’ will for our families, instead of pursuing the decoys that Satan has set up for us in society.

Children, please look to your parents and do all that you possibly can to follow their lead, as they follow the Lord. If you are in a situation where your parents are not leading, I would suggest you to go to them, and with all the love in your heart, ask that they help you work through these difficult times by following the Lord’s counsel. They will respond, because they love you.

This Church is full of goodness. It is full of strength. We are surrounded by families who respond whole-heartedly and unconditionally to the call from the prophet and their leaders; members who serve diligently in their callings; saints who love and protect their families with the power of scripture study, FHE and family prayer. Many have temple recommends, and know how to use them…

Yet I know that there are some of you who do not see yourselves as one of those families, I testify to you that you can be. It is a question of agency and desire. You can be obedient, you can witness the miracles the Lord provides to those willing to seek them out and receive them. Start now. If there is something impeding your progress, seek counsel from your Bishop. The Lord wants you and needs you to be a part of his kingdom.

Elder Joseph B Wirthlin said: The Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. The Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father.” (link)

Brothers and Sisters, please use these brief stories of the life of my father to recognize that agency is ours. I am not my father. No matter how strong he was, it benefits me nothing if I choose not to be strong. Conversely, should my father leave a legacy of mediocrity, or weakness, or worldliness, again, I am not my father, and I can use my agency to choose to change the direction, and re-forge the chain. It is time to accept a simple truth: We all must let go of the excuses, justifications and rationalizations that keep us from attaining what the Lord wants us to attain. It is not our parents’ fault, our spouses’ fault, our upbringing, our health, our leaders, our ability, our income or our personalities that hold us back – it is our hearts.

In speaking about change, Elder Dallin Oaks said: The traditions or way of life of a people inevitably include some practices that must be changed by those who wish to qualify for God’s choicest blessings.” (link)

As a father, I desire the choicest blessings for my children, and am trying to give up those things that stand in the way.

As your friend, and fellow journeyman, I desire the choicest blessings for you and your families, that your descendents will not look back on a legacy of mediocrity, but a rich legacy of love, obedience, happiness, prosperity and blessings of the Lord.

Happy Father’s Day!

Other Father’s Day stuff from previous years”

2016: “Rhubarb and Fatherhood

2015: “High Priest Mints and Feeling Very Dad.”

2014: ‘Fathers and Lawnmowers.”

2013: “Keep Peddling.”

2012: “King of the Castle.”

Father’s Day Coupons For Teenagers

The Stripling Warriors’ Missing Fathers