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Friday, July 18, 2014

An Unexpected Pleasure

Chris Heimerdinger has been a favorite author of mine and a good friend for many years, as well as one of the inspirations for my desire to become an author myself. Recently on his blog, he announced that he was offering a special deal for pre-ordering his newest book, which will be hot off the presses on October 1. I was elated to hear this, but somewhat despondent, because, with our current financial situation, I knew it wouldn't be practical for me to pre-order it, or perhaps even to purchase it when it comes out. When I explained my dilemma to my sweet wife, her answer was immediate. She said: "I know how much this means to you. Go ahead and order the book. We will be just fine." With her encouragement, I placed a call to order the book and spoke to Chris directly. This was the first in-person contact I'd had with him. I had interacted with him on his websites and via e-mail but never before spoken to him. He couldn't have been nicer. He patiently took my information, then took time to ask me how my writing career was going. (I had told him about it before.) He acted as if he didn't have any other concerns or calls waiting. He and I spoke for 12 minutes. He called back a couple of minutes later with a follow-up question. And if that wasn't fantastic enough, he called me again the next day apologizing that he'd forgotten one additional question. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the attentiveness with which he took my order. My wife encouraged me to write this experience down in my journal. And since this blog is now my journal, I thought I'd post this experience to share with everyone. It was one of the best experiences I will ever have in my life.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Trials Make Our Faith Grow Stronger

As many of you know, my sweet wife and I have been out of work ever since she had to quit her job because her health failed in December 2012. I have been looking pretty consistently since that time with no success. Anyone in our situation would be downhearted. And yet, I am not. I am a firm believer in the words from the hymn "Welcome,Welcome, Sabbath Morning" that "Trials make our faith grow stronger." Whenever trials come in our lives, we have two basic choices. We can either choose to embrace them and deal with them as they come, or we can fight against them and make ourselves miserable in the process. I've tried fighting against my problems and being miserable, and it hasn't done me any good. I much prefer to choose happiness in whatever circumstances the Lord places me in. A scriptural passage that has brought me great comfort in my current circumstances is 1 Nephi 21:14-16, where Nephi is quoting Isaiah.

He says: "But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me—but he will show that he hath not.

 "For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.

"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me."

I love that imagery, the idea that He truly has graven us upon the palms of His hands. A hymn associated with this scripture has also brought great comfort to me. It's Hymn #43. While all the verses are touching, the second and third verses particularly speak to me in our current circumstances:

Ev'ry human tie may perish,
Friend to friend unfaithful prove,
Mothers cease their own to cherish,
Heav'n and earth at last remove.
But no changes, But no changes
Can attend Jehovah's love.
In the furnace God may prove thee,
Thence to bring thee forth more bright,
But can never cease to love thee;
Thou art precious in his sight.
God is with thee, God is with thee;
Thou shalt triumph in his might.
It is my testimony that the words of this scripture and hymn are true and my hope and prayer that they might be as helpful to my readers as they have been to me, and I share this post with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Friday, July 4, 2014

First post: Independence Day: Its' meaing and significance

Several people have  spoken to me about starting a blog, so I finally decided to do it. As this blog's title implies, I will be regularly "sounding off" about life: its' joys, sorrows, matters of interest to me, etc. This blog will cover a variety of topics, and will be a better way for me to keep track of my life. I've tried over the years to keep a regular journal, and it hasn't worked out very well for me, especially lately. But I am great at surfing the web, so it's my hope that this blog will keep me motivated to post regular updates about my life and kind of serve as a journal that everyone interested can read to keep up with my life.

It is very fitting that my blog should be started on Independence Day. Why? Because this day is significant to me for several reasons. Having dealt with the preliminaries, I will now post a word or two about what Independence Day means to me.

The first reason Independence Day is significant to me is because of the freedoms I enjoy. I love living in a land that promotes life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I treasure the freedom to worship the way I choose. I love living in a land where the gospel was restored in this last dispensation, never again to be taken from the earth. I am a firm believer in respecting the opinions of others, even if and when I disagree with them. I live by a motto in my life: "We can disagree without being disagreeable." Disagreements can and will come as a natural and regular part of life. What is unnatural is to take these disagreements as a personal affront to  one's values and beliefs. It is possible to not see eye to eye with someone but to still be respectful of them and their views. Civility in public and private discourse will always yield the best results, more so than any other option.

The second reason Independence Day is significant to me is because of those who have gone before, whether their fight for freedom has been more visible and  prominent or private and sanctimonious. I particularly remember those I know who have fought for the freedoms I enjoy. These include but are not limited to my brother-in-law, Lyle Hickman, my paternal uncle, Gary Stokes, my paternal grandfather, Dean Stokes, my good friend Matt Price, our Founding Fathers, and so many more I don't have room to name.

Also no less significant are those who have died for the causes they embraced. I am thinking particularly of Joseph Smith and all the other martyrs  of any religious cause and any others who have lost their lives in pursuit of freedom, religious or otherwise. And most importantly, my Savior, Jesus Christ, who died that I might live forever and be made pure and clean and have eternal life, His greatest gift to me. I owe Him a greater debt than I can ever repay.

Finally, and definitely most importantly, this day is significant to me and ever will be because of what happened to me on this day four years ago. On that day, and every Independence Day since, I have taken my sweet Amy to the grounds of the Mount Timpanogos Temple. There on a quiet bench on the temple grounds in 2010, I proposed marriage to her, and she accepted without hesitation, full well knowing the sacrifices she would willingly make to keep us going. I have made it a tradition to take her to the temple grounds every Independence Day since and re-propose to her. In this way, I renew my commitment to making our marriage work whatever the cost. I have embraced this tradition as a way to celebrate our love and relationship anew every year, and it will be a tradition I carry on forever.

As a final note to this post, my thanks to my sweet Amy for her help in making this blog more artistically pleasing. Her sense of what works and what doesn't will be a great blessing and asset to the success of this blog. Love you, sweetheart, now and forever!

Well, that does it for this blog post. Until I find something else to "sound off" about, I wish all my readers every happiness and success they desire and express my hope that the Lord will bless and prosper you all until my next post. Best wishes, dear readers, for a wonderful Independence Day!