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father’s day

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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

 

4

Strawberrry rhubarb pie

I chose strawberry-rhubarb pie.  Sure, there were dozens of other fancier choices, most of which were probably delicious, but I went with the old-school pie. I was the sole voter in this decision because today is Father’s Day.

The reason I picked strawberry-rhubarb is because, as we were looking at the list of choices, my son Ryan said, “I’ve never had rhubarb before. What’s it like?”

That’s all it took. Decision made. Time to introduce my son to the deliciousness of rhubarb. Or witness his distaste for rhubarb. Who knows? (I’ll report back.)

My other preparation for Father’s Day included figuring out what to blog about on this day of recognition. What thoughts could I add that won’t just be a re-hash of my last four Father’s Day posts? Then it occurred to me that the rhubarb is very telling – it represents one of the key aspects of Fatherhood.

Phase I:

From the moment our children are tiny, we spend our fathering years introducing them to new stuff. We sing them new songs while we rock them, we walk them around the house showing them things and pointing out who’s who in family pictures. From there we graduate to introducing them to new language, new tastes, new sights, new sounds, new smells, new sensations. (Including but not limited to tickling, animal voices, wrestling, ice cream, spicy foods, rock-n-roll, and of course, Dad Jokes.)

We eventually introduce them to games, sports, math, skills, tools, nature, technology, music, movies, etc. The list is endless. It is no surprise that all of my kids listen to some of Dad’s old music. It is imprinting at its simplest.

We facilitate their growth by introduction – and it appears that I’m still doing that with a strawberry-rhubarb pie. And ice cream.

Through childhood and adolescence we introduce them to work, finances, religion, history, politics, culture. We try and help them make sense of these things by introducing them to things like logic, philosophy, and religion.  We introduce them to many of these things in an effort to counteract the introduction of fear, hate, heartbreak and evil that they will inevitably encounter. We introduce them to places that we feel are worthwhile and important, whether for their beauty or history, or for plain old fun.

Of all the introductions we can offer our children, those of the heart and spirit matter most. We introduce them to hope, to obedience. We focus on the “principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.” (link)

Through us they learn about choices and the consequences that inevitably follow. We introduce them to the Savior and His gospel. Through the way we treat them, their siblings, and their mother, we introduce them to the love of a father and husband. Frightenly symbolic, no?

And hopefully…if we are paying attention…we can introduce them to the Holy Ghost – and that can be a life-changer.

(And some would think that showing a son how to throw a curveball is somehow qualifies as important.)

 

Phase II

Being that I am just finding my way in this next phase, I don’t claim to know much. Most of my kids are adults now, two are married, one a parent – but I still have one at home. They are smart, capable and good. A father’s hope is that when they leave the nest, they’ve left equipped to handle what the world throws at them. Equipped mentally, socially, spiritually and physically.

Sure, now and again I can surprise them by enlightening them with new knowledge, or introducing them to something that haven’t experienced before, but it doesn’t happen nearly as often. So what is my role now that I can’t carry them around on my hip and introduce them to new things?

I did a lot of stewing and searching, and the best word I could find to describe this next phase is that of being a “Mentor.” A mentor is defined two ways:

  • A wise and trusted counselor or teacher or,
  • An influential senior sponsor or supporter.

I think either works, but combined, they fit better. In a very literal sense, I have had the opportunity of working with four of the five in a professional capacity, but this “mentoring” as a father pushes far beyond those boundaries.

Now my kids are independent adults. They are “agents unto themselves.” (link) They are accountable for their choices. Which, of course, means I can wash my hands and stop worrying.  Cue the hysterical laughter. The reality is that I still worry about my kids just as much as I always have. I don’t have to worry about a lot of the stuff that concerned me when they were younger, but those simpler worries give way to worries that have greater reach and impact more people. Yet I acknowledge that my role is now different.

I am available as a mentor. When my kids want to talk to me, they know they can talk to me. If they want to talk to me about careers or education, or if they want advice, I will gladly give it. – but I won’t tell them what to do – that is their call.

If they are having health issues, and want my help, I will research doctors and help fight the insurance battles to the hilt – If they ask.

Want my opinion on your love life? You betcha!

If they want to talk politics, I’ll gladly spout my views – but I won’t tell them how to vote.

(One thing the FOMLs know, as you all do, is that I am never short on opinions, and I have a thousand blog posts to prove it. I do find solace in knowing that no child of mine will leave my nest and be able to claim that they did not know how their dad felt about things, and where he stood – especially about the things of God.)

If they are having spiritual questions, or struggles, and ask for my thoughts, I would leap at the opportunity to talk to them about the things of God. Should they want advice in this area, I will gladly give it – if they ask for it or not – such is the role of the family Patriarch. But I’ll try not to push my way in, uninvited, “unless moved upon by the Holy Ghost.” (Link)

I can, and will, pray for them on a regular basis – sometimes with more intensity than others.

The main thing I want them to know as adults is that I love them, and I have their backs. I am their biggest fan, and will walk through fire for them. I find great joy in watching them grow, learn and succeed. I will love who they love, and celebrate their lives, and mourn when they mourn.

I will be here for them when they are searching for answers, when they are struggling, when they need help, when they need counsel, or when they need to be blessed. I love them, and I want them to live with me eternally.

Like a father does. Like our Father does.

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(Yes, I am aware that most of this post applies to moms as well, but please let us have our moment today, thanks.)

Happy Father’s Day!  If you would like to look at some past years posts, here they are:

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

2014: ‘Fathers and Lawnmowers.”

2013: “Keep Peddling.”

2012: “King of the Castle.”

and some silliness: “Fathers Day Coupons for Teenagers.”

 

Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

HP Mints

Happy Father’s Day!

I have been debating which of two posts to put up today- one short & sweet, the other longer and more thoughtful. My indecision has led me to post both. Feel free to read the short one and then move on. Or stick around for some navel-gazing.

—–

As I mentioned in a recent post, our family traipsed through a San Diego Dollar Store the other day. As I was discovering whacky playthings, my EC found something sweet, and well, sweet.  But first, some backstory:

When I was a boy, my father always kept a supply of mints in his suit coat pocket. Sometimes during Sacrament Meeting, he would reach his hand deep into his pocket, pull out a mint, and hand it me. Or my sister, or brothers. He never made a show of it. Never made eye contact, sneaky.

When feeling daring, I would reach into his pocket and find one for myself. He always had mints. They were either pink or white, and chalky.

I don’t know where the name came from, but our family always referred to them as “High Priest Mints.” When asked, I remember my dad answering that they were to “keep the High Priests awake.”

Fast forward 40+ years. Last week in the Dollar Store, my EC finds me and asks me about the ‘High Priest Mints” that I had told her about.

“I think they have them.”

I found this odd, because I had not seen them in years. But, sure enough, there they were hanging on pegs in the candy section.

HP Mint bags

They aren’t anything fancy – just normal candies, peppermint or wintergreen – and I don’t even think they are even that tasty. Apparently they are called “Canada Mints.” Who knew?

I bought some, and the next week, I showed the mints to my sister. The first words our of her mouth were, “High Priest Mints.” As it should be.

While they are just mints, they evoke memories of my childhood, and of my father. Funny how something so simple can carry such a wallop. Especially with Father’s Day on the horizon.

I find myself thinking of my dad often, and in this instance, I think of his constancy in being there in church beside us, where he should have been, where we should have been.

If the memory of a simple candy can trigger memories of my father, I can’t help but wonder what small things will evoke memories in my own children years from now.

—-

I’ve been a father for 27 years now – more than half my life. Over the years there are times where I have felt more “Dad” than others. For example:

Nothing feels more “Dad” than running behind a child as they are learning to ride a bike. Or cleaning up vomit.

When I was a young father, it all felt so new, and there was always a nagging worry in the back of my mind if I was doing it right.

• Am I setting the proper example?

• Am I loving enough?

• Am I too hard, or too soft?

• Am I equipping my kids with what they need for the future?

• Do my kids know what I stand for?

Now that I have been at it for almost three decades, I can comfortably say that I still ask myself the exact same questions. Not to beat myself up, or beat any of you up. Merely for an “inventory,” and perhaps an opportunity to make some adjustments.

I may not be pacing the floor with a colicky baby at 3:00am, but feeling “Dad” does not go away. In fact, the past month I have felt more “Dad’ than in a long time.

• Four weeks ago, my fourth FOML graduated from High School. We attended the graduation ceremony and the baccalaureate and were proud to watch him sing at both events,

• A few days laterI had the great privilege of laying my hands on the head of that same son and ordaining him an Elder.

• Three weeks ago I spent a week with  my youngest in the mountains as I was in charge of running his Scout Camp. I must say, camp was great, but the best part was sharing it with my son.

• Right on the heels of Scout Camp was our family faction. It was our only chance to get everyone together, so we headed to the beach. Nothing makes you feel more “Dad” than getting the entire family together under one roof, and burning through piles of cash.

• Home for four days, and we were on the road again – this time taking FOML4 to BYU as a new Freshman. (Cue tons of wonderful memories) Nothing feels more “Dad” than carrying stuff up the stairs to your kid’s dorm room. (Except maybe wearing out your credit card at Target buying all the stuff he might need.)

• Friday I saw the new movie “Inside Out,” which should make any parent take stock…

• Yesterday I spent the day with my eldest, my only daughter, as we ran around  Provo, visited some wonderful relatives, and just hung out. Sure, she is a remarkable, independent adult, but she is still my little girl.

Which brings us to today – Father’s Day. Due to this odd sequence of events, I find myself in a hotel room with my EC, with nary a child in sight. The last imd I was not home for Father’s Day was 26 years ago. As for the kids, two are in Provo, two are at home, and one is at his home with his almost-ready-to-deliver wife.

While it may seem that being away from home wouldn’t feel very “Dad,”  It still does. My kids had the forethought to celebrate Father’s Day with me last Sunday. (And I saved myself a BonaFide Box. hehehe.)

On this quiet Father’s Day morning, sitting in the dark, I have time to type, and reflect. And ask myself those same questions that i mentioned above.

And I can’t really answer any of them.  Maybe one day my kids can answer them for me. The only question that I am confident  about is “Do my kids know what I stand for?”

One advantage of being opinionated, loud and a blogger, is that my kids never have to wonder what their dad believes in. And I am glad about that. If that question comes up at the Judgment Bar, I won’t sweat it.

I have a friend who once told me that he tries not to discuss religious matters with his kids, because it is such a personal thing that he wants them to work through it for themselves, without his “interference.”

I told him that was the stupidest thing I have ever heard in my life. What? He will gladly teach them how to fix a car, do their taxes, or myriad other things – but the single most important thing they need to learn on this earth is “hands off?”

Ridiculous.

Satan, and the world, have absolutely no problem whatsoever in trying to define, teach and influence what our kids believe in. They will gladly fill the vacuum left by absentee parents. If we are not willing to push back, we have already ceded the battle.

One of the key responsibilities of Fatherhood is to find out what is true and right, live it, and teach it to our kids, using both example AND words.

I think when I was younger, I underestimated how much the “Dad” feelings of responsibility and worry would still exist even after the kids have left the nest and are successfully living their own lives. I’m guessing that it never goes away, merely alters the way it is expressed.

I love my kids. I love being their Dad.

I love my Dad, and I miss him terribly.

In three weeks I will be feeling very “Grampa” as well as “Dad,” which opens up a whole new world I have yet to experience.

Happy Father’s Day to all of you men out there. I hope you are feeling very “Dad,” and relishing the privilege.

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12

The 1965 Schwinn Stingray.  And it was mine.  I couldn’t ride it yet, but it was only a matter of time.  I did have some training wheels, but they seemed to send me off in all the wrong directions.

One Saturday morning, my dad decided it was time for me to learn how to ride it for reals. This was probably the result of my incessant begging, but I have somehow chosen to forget that part of the story. I do, however, remember the big day

But before I tell you the story, let me tell you a little about the bike.  Stingray bicycles were only a few years old, and they were very, very cool. However, that cool factor was decimated by the existence of training wheels.  Mine was blue, and had a “banana seat.”  Why banana? Look at it.  Now you may scoff at the banana seat, but it did have some advantages.  Lots of room for you, and lots of room if you needed to give someone else a ride. But those concerns, like the heightened “Sissy Bar” accessory, or the fluorescent orange flag, would only come into play after learning how to ride it.

That’s where the banana seat came in handy.  The metal loop at the back of the seat was the perfect handhold for the instructor to steady the bike, as the student wobbled down the road.

(Side note:  I taught most of the FOMLs to ride BMX type bikes that had no such convenient handhold.  However, I was able to teach them without needing one, since I would usually take them to the top of a nice grassy slope, wish them luck, and give them a gentle push. Worked like a charm.)

My training ground was a flat sidewalk, with lawns and bushes on one side, and grass parkways on the other.  There were about five front yards to pass before the street turned downhill. This is where I would master the Stingray.

After removing the shameful training wheels, it was time to learn.  Dad held onto the loop on the seat and jogged behind me as I tried to balance and pedal at the same time. It was slow going. We went the distance of the course, and then turned around and went back.

A couple of times I realized that my dad let go of the bike and was merely watching me pedal.  This awareness, of course, caused me to instantly crash.  We made a few runs, and he would try and trick me, but he couldn’t fool me. I could tell when he let go, and would immediately panic and fall over.

Then something different happened.  My dad was running behind me, and for some unknown reason, I veered to the left, and, amazingly, recovered.  This quick adjustment caused my dad to stumble and fall into an evergreen shrubbery next to the sidewalk.  I could tell he let go, and I glanced back.

I caught a brief glimpse of him lying there in the bushes, and I prepared to crash – but… I didn’t. And to this day, I clearly remember Dad yelling encouragement from the bushes:

“Keep pedaling! Just keep pedaling!”

And I did.

And I still do.

— I miss you Dad.

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Father's day crown
2011 Crown

Every year, the FOMLs present me with a Father’s Day crown. It is made of construction paper, with each of the kids writing a message to me on their section of the crown. I wear it because it is awesome. Then I leave it on my lampshade until the next year.

Yes, as evident by the crown, I am indeed the “King of the Castle.”   *trumpet fanfare*

This – this is my Kingdom, my land, my castle. I rule with an iron fist. My word is law. All those in my presence show proper deference with honor and respect.

Well at least for today. If my EC signs off on it.

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Today we spent Sunday School talking about King Mosiah and the political systems in Zarahemlah. Mosiah was so worried about the prospects of another king succeeding him. that he talked the people into abandoning the monarchy entirely, and moving to a systems with elected judges.

King Mosiah was a good king, as was King Benjamin before him – both because they fused elements of Theocracy into their Monarchy. They both followed the teachings and laws of God. (Nowadays we can’t even get out government to follow the laws of the land!) Bu it was the theocracy that made their  monarchies effective.  After studying about this mixture of political systems, I decided something important:

I don’t want to be “King of the Castle.

I want to be “Theocrat of the Castle.

No, it is not as catchy, and you have never heard that expression before, but it fits much better. A “Theocrat” is defined as someone who practices Theocracy.

Theocracy: A form of government in which God is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, with God’s laws being interpreted by the ecclesiastical authorities.

That’s my house, right? My castle?  In my home I am the priesthood leader. With my EC, we are expected to lead this small society based on the laws of God.

Granted, the rest of society is not part of this theocracy – and outside my home I need to play by their rules – but my home can be a tiny theocracy in which we recognize God as our leader. As “Theocrat of the Castle”, I have the obligation to lead my family according to God’s law, as revealed to my leaders, and as revealed to my EC and I. That is a lot different than how a King runs things. But we will save a fortune on torture equipment.

For example:  If you are a King, and someone errs against you, you get to slap them in chains, and throw them in the dungeon to rot.  A Theocrat gets to “reprove betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and then showing afterward an increase in love…” (D&C 121:43)  It is a little different style. This example alone shows the impossibility of being a worthy monarch without adopting elements of theocracy.  Even in disciplining our children, one of the members of the Godhead needs to sign of on what we are doing.

Sadly, I find myself behaving like a monarch occasionally. I make unilateral decision, I dole out excessive punishments, I make up laws on the fly. (No eight wives though – still on my first.) When I rule like a King I expect and demand things.  I expect people to read my mind. I demand they do things. I expect things to be done for me according to my whim.  Have you ever heard about a man getting upset because the dinner wasn’t on the table at a certain time?  That is a King.

Compulsion: King
Pride: King
Vanity: KIng
Dominion: King
Theocrats are kind, patient, long suffering, full of charity, etc… (D&C 121)  (Sometimes we refer to theocrats as Priesthood holders.)It surely must be important to rule like a theocrat, rather than a king, because about half the talks in General Conference in April talked about how to do exactly that. (Sadly, I hadn’t invented the term “Theocrat of the Castle” yet, so nobody was able to use it.

Today I will celebrate Father’s Day, as the “Theocrat of the Castle”, and try to earn that title from here on out.

But I’m still wearing the crown that my servants  kids made.

Happy Father’s Day to you all.