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Holidays

10

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

 

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Christmas Crying

Not everybody enters the Christmas season singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” For some it is never a happy time, and for others it is supposed to be a happy time, but doesn’t always work out that way.

When my EC and I were newlyweds, we spent our first Christmas making the trek from BYU home to Arizona. Both sets of parents lived here in the Valley, but they lived about 45 minutes apart. We did our very best to spend equal time with each side of the family. We attended the formal get togethers, and tried our best to participate in all the activities we could. Yet somehow we failed.

What I remember of that first Christmas as a couple was that we spent a huge portion of our holiday break constantly driving back and forth from Scottsdale to Chandler. Unfortunately, when it came time to head back to Provo, neither set of parents were happy. Both sides felt we had not balanced our time well, and felt cheated – despite what we thought had been a valiant effort on our part. They were disappointed. We were mad/sad at how it worked out and what should have been a joyous week, well, it sucked.

Sometimes people go into the holiday season and things get in the way to make it less joyous. Things happen, people happen and life happens – and the wonder of the season can swirl down the drain.

For others, the holidays are a tender time that brings sadness or even pain. Longing for departed or absent loved ones, loneliness, dealing with separation or fractured families, or even health woes can make it a difficult season. Christmas is supposed to be about families, right? But the reality is, Christmas can be a stark reminder that not everyone has the family situation that can fulfill that assumption.

Some people are simply pre-transition Grinches. They just don’t like Christmas. Either they are dealing with post-traumatic BB gun experiences from their childhoods, or their hearts are just three sizes too small – they just don’t like Christmas and all it’s trappings. Often, they are very vocal about their gripes. You can’t throw an elf across the room without hitting someone who is an Anti-Santa-ite, or see the whole endeavor as a waste of time.

Grinch heart

Finally, there are some who are burdened by the Season. Christmas has the potential to engender feelings of inadequacy. People can feel bad for not baking, buying or decorating to the level that they would have liked. Worse yet, some feel bad that they haven’t been able to keep up with all the clever, crafty people who make their own Christmas wrapping paper out of wood pulp and used tinsel, and use it to wrap the jars of homemade cranberry sauce from the berries that they grew in their own hydroponic gardens. News Flash: Not everyone is Martha Stewart (less the jail time).  Sadly, some feel terrible because they see themselves as inadequate because they can’t do it all. This is not merely a Christmastime condition, it can flare up all year, but it can make for an especially insecure Christmas.

Martha Stewart

Here are a few thoughts to counter the dark days of Christmas and to help find some joy in the holiday:

Focus on Gratitude. If our hearts are full to the brim with gratitude, there is little room left for feelings of sadness, anger, insecurity or Scrooginess. I think it is no coincidence that Thanksgiving comes before we dive into the Christmas season. Something as simple as making a Gratitude List can push us in that direction. The Brethren have had plenty to say about the beauty, and necessity, of gratitude. (Click here and pick one.)

Don’t Keep Score. One way to wreck a holiday, or a relationship, is to keep score. When we keep track of who does or gives more, we are just setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment. This is what happened when we were newlyweds. I have tried to learn from that experience and just be grateful (there it is again) for what I do receive, and the time I do get to spend with my loved ones. One of the core tenants of life that we seem to struggle with is that life is simply not fair. Keeping score implies that somehow it is, or should be. It isn’t – nor is it intended to be. Let it go.

Simplify. If the joy is sucked out of the holiday from being overwhelmed by how much there is to do, don’t do so much. Sounds easy enough, right? It’s not. I am a firm traditionalist. I find happiness and security in having the same Christmas traditions year after year. The realty is that some years there just isn’t time to do it all. Maybe because of health issues, work issues, money issues, etc. Every traditional treat doesn’t have to be baked. Every activity does not have to be attended. Every decoration does not have to be hung. It is OK – Christmas will still come, even if there are still unopened boxes of decorations. The expression “Christmas trappings” is curious, indeed.

Don’t compare. It does not matter that Sister Smith delivered homemade apple spice mini bundt cakes to all the neighbors the first weekend after Thanksgiving. There are no laws that require every family to hire a professional photographer and send out glorious Christmas cards. Social media has raised comparison and insecurity to an art form. Feeling too good about yourself? Spend an hour on Pinterest – that should take care of it. Do what you feel you can do, and do what you want to do – don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.

Believe in Gift of Agency. One of the single most difficult concepts taught in the Church is that we feel how we choose to feel. I don’t know if it something that a lot of us just refuse to believe, or if it is just because it is so stinking difficult. The concept is simply this: If we are sad, or mad, or insecure, or lonely, etc., it is because we choose to be that way. Nobody can make us mad. The idea that someone can make us feel any certain way is one of the great fallacies of our day. Nobody can make us sad. Simply put, to believe someone has the power to take over our emotions means the have the ability to commandeer our agency. Yet, the phrase, “He makes me so mad.” is all too common, and it is a lie. The very best way to dig into this difficult truth is by studying Elder Bednar’s talk “And Nothing Shall Offend Them.

Focus on Love. When we focus on love, we are more patient, forgiving and tolerant. We are less likely to be critical – of ourselves and others.

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”  (Moroni 7:45)

By the way, charity is a gift. God gives it to us through the Holy Ghost – all we have to do is ask.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren (sisters too!), pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love...” (Moroni 7:48)

Focusing on love during the Christmas season should be a no-brainer, but life an people can get in the way. We should focus on the Savior and his love every day of the year, but it can be especially valuable during a season that can be fraught with tender feelings of pain, insecurity, loneliness and disappointment. Christ can take those feelings from us as a a personal gift to us.

One year President Hinckley concluded his Christmas remarks with this idea. He said:

May it be a happy and wonderful season. We leave a blessing upon you, a blessing of Christmas, that you may be happy. May even those whose hearts are heavy rise with the healing which comes alone from Him who comforts and reassures. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” 

So said He in His hour of great tribulation: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” 

In the spirit of that great promise and gift, may we all rejoice this blessed Christmas season. (link)

Share Happiness. I found a fascinating quote from Brigham Young that I think fits nicely in the holiday season:

In all your social communications, or whatever your associations are, let all the dark, discontented, murmuring, unhappy, miserable feelings—all the evil fruit of the mind, fall from the tree in silence and unnoticed; and so let it perish, without taking it up to present to your neighbors. But when you have joy and happiness, light and intelligence, truth and virtue, offer that fruit abundantly to your neighbors, and it will do them good, and so strengthen the hands of your fellow-beings (DBY, 240).

I can’t think of a better Christmas gift we can give to our families and those we associate with than a peaceful, happy version of ourselves. Joy is attainable, and it is fiercely contagious.

Merry Christmas!

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Joy is attainable

 

8

Physics Binkie

I have been married to a mother for 28 years–during which time I selflessly fed her ice chips while she birthed five kids–so I proclaim myself duly qualified to discuss motherhood. One thing I have learned is that not everyone realizes that physics plays a role in motherhood. I even found the equation for it:

FB = q v × B

I did not know this at first, but after living with children for some time, it became clear to me that this formula is inherent in all interactions between moms and their kids. Too complex? Perhaps I should use stories to illustrate.

One time (OK, hundreds of times) I was sitting in the front room when one of my sons walked by–walking with a purpose.
“What do you need? Can I help?” I asked.
“No, it’s nothing. Do you know where Mom is?”
“No. Sorry.”

He tuned and went the other direction. A few moments later he passed by again.
“Can I help you with anything?”
“No, but I can’t find Mom anywhere.”
“Did you look in the washroom?”
“No. I’ll check there.”
And off he went.

A little bit later, I was talking to my wife.
“Hey, Our son was looking for you earlier. Did he find you?”
“Yes. I was in the washroom.”
“I offered to help, but he wouldn’t tell me what he wanted.”
“He wanted to know if I thought you would let him go to a friend’s house tonight.”

My thoughts exactly! He bypassed me in order to to ask her a question . . . about me. Who does that? My kids, that’s who.

 This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. I distinctly recall one day when my daughter was young–probably two or three. I heard her begin to cry and went to see what had happened. She emerged from her bedroom, clutching her finger and sobbing. I held out my arms to her and she walked straight towards me. At the last second she veered to the side, walked right past me, and into the kitchen where she found her mom. I was still standing in the hallway wondering what happened. I found them both in the kitchen, my daughter sitting on her mom’s lap, getting love and comfort.

Now I am an involved dad. My kids do not live in fear of me. (Most of the time.) I love them, they love me, and we do really well together. But my wife–their mother–has an unseen advantage over me in the physics department. It is the formula I mentioned earlier.

The physics formula is the equation for magnetism.

Mothers have a sort of magnetic power that pulls their children towards them. Is it spiritual, genetic, chemical, or a combination of all? I do know that it is real. Any father who has held a crying child on his shoulder and watched as that child reaches desperately for their mom knows what I’m talking about.

When my youngest comes home from school, his first order of business is to search the house until he finds his mom. When one of the kids is sick in the night, they go straight to Mom and wake her up–even when I tell them to wake me up instead. They are drawn to her.

When the kids get older and have deep things to discuss, they are often drawn to Mom for comfort or to talk things through. Sometimes I participate in those conversations when they come to me, sometimes they don’t.

There are times when some kids–especially daughters–pull away from their moms. It is as if some sort of polarity is reversed and the magnet begins to repel rather than attract. But hopefully, one force will eventually turn, and the bond will reestablish. (For you guys, think of the Millenium Falcon trying to get out of the tractor beam without enabling hyperdrive.)

By changing the word “fathers” to “mothers,” this idea is founded in the scripture D&C 98:16: “Therefore renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their mothers, and the hearts of the mothers to the children.”

Not all mother/child relationships are rosy all the time. Growing and learning requires that, but the pull that comes from a mother’s heart is very real and will always be there.

I love seeing that bond between my wife and our kids. I don’t feel threatened by it. I am grateful. Fathers have a bond too, but it is different–besides, I would prefer they end up with more of her traits than of mine. I am happy they love her, trust her, and feel the “pull”–because I feel it, too. I find it tragic when that bond is lost between moms and children.

I have seen and experienced this same magnetic force across generations. When I was a boy, I had that bond with my mom. She has been gone now for more than a decade–but I still feel the pull. There are so many times I see something and think, “Mom would have loved this.” Or something would happen, and I ask, “I wonder what Mom would have thought about that.” I still miss her, and I still feel her pull. And at 51 years of age–I still want her to be proud of me.

My mother-in-law passed away a few years ago. Before she died, she had a difficult road. I watched as my sweet wife turned towards her and the two of them drew closer as mother and daughter. That bond was never stronger. Service does that to people. Now that she has passed, I sense that pull still working within my wife’s heart. She still wants to feel her mother’s love. She wants to feel that closeness. That pull is still there, even after this life is over.

I’ll concede that this magnetism is not merely physics. But it is very real, and comes from within. President Hinckley said it this way: “God planted within women something divine that expresses itself in quiet strength, in refinement, in peace, in goodness, in virtue, in truth, in love.”

No formulas, no equations, no physics, not even electromagnetism. The force that pulls a child to his mother is love. Not just any love, but a god-like love.

“May each of us treasure this truth; one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.” —Thomas S. Monson

Why are we drawn towards our mothers? The same reason we are drawn towards our God: Our spirits desire to be with the divine.

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Note: If this post seems familiar, it is because it is a reprint of an article I wrote for LDS LIving in 2013. I felt it appropriate, and haven’t time to write a new one today.

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“The Annunciation” by Henry Ossawa Tanner
The happenings leading up to, and culminating with, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ represent some of the most joyful, hopeful events in the history of the earth. But to appreciate these events a little more, I would like to look back to when things were not so joyful.

Sometimes we tend to look at our church callings and grumble. Surely some are harder than others. We can look to the pioneers and see those who had a difficult task, but I would contend that nobody ever had a more difficult task than Noah. Yes, Noah – the one that built the ark. Imagine having that calling.

You would spend your entire life calling people to repentance, with very little success. The Lord would instruct you to build an ark to save your family – because He intends to destroy the earth. So you and your sons begin building, while you desperately try and convince people to change their ways and follow God – as they try and kill you.

There are no takers.

And then the day comes that you, your wife, your three sons and their wives seal yourselves up in the ark, and listen as the rain begins to fall.  As the waters begin to rise, you know that every single person on the earth will be killed. Your neighbors, your friends, other relatives – all gone.

Eventually the rain stops, and the waters recede, and you begin again.

After living for 950 years on the earth, you finally die and find yourself in the Spirit World – in Paradise. But this joy must be dampened by the knowledge that those countless souls who perished in the flood are trapped in prison.  And in spirit prison they must remain, until the promised time comes when Christ comes to the earth, where he atones for our sins, and dies.

As Jesus’ body lay in the tomb, his spirit will visit Paradise and establish a way for those souls to escape that prison. But until then, there they wait – for thousands of years.

And then the long-awaited day finally arrives. The time of the Savior’s birth draws near. Can you imagine how excited you would be?

But it gets better, because in the Spirit World, you are more than simply Noah. You are the angel that stands next to Adam in holding the keys of salvation.

You are Gabriel.

You have the sacred privilege of visiting the young girl Mary, and delivering the joyful message:

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
To a virgin epoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David;
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And the angel came in unto her, and said,
Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee:
blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
Luke 1: 26-31

And so it begins. And you are right in the middle of it. How long have you waited for this to happen? The moment that had been thousands of years in the making: The Christ will be born.

I can’t think of anyone else who would find more joy in this simple announcement than the angel Gabriel.

In ancient Grecian texts, Gabriel was the same angel that appeared to the shepherds on that sacred night, and warned Joseph in a dream to take the newborn Jesus and flee to Egypt.  We don’t know for sure if it was Gabriel – but I hope it was.

Now, when I see a manger, or a Nativity play, or a movie representing the Savior’s birth, I take a look at the angel, smile and think, “Attaboy Noah.”

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Gabriel/Noah is listed in the LDS bible dictionary under “Noah”.

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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.

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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.

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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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