Tuesday, July 22, 2008


So, my 1 year anniversary for this blog (3 years for the family blog) passed by last week while I was on a scout camp. I've been thinking lately of doing a post about the evolution of my opinion over the past year and this seems like an appropriate reason to post on that topic.

As I stated in the commencement post, I consider my personal opinion to be semi-fluid. That isn't to say that I waver back and forth, but that I understand the information upon which I base my assumptions is not complete. As I learn and experience more, sometimes that leads to a new understanding and therefore a slight change here and there in my personal stances. Mostly, these are just nuances, but sometimes they are more significant. Here are some relevant changes over the past year or so...

Because of an experience I had last Sunday I want to start with personal changes concerning my Utah Mormons post, which doesn't fit well because I haven't changed much. This post has created a lot of discussion on this topic with people that read my blog and I actually see them in person. I have come to the following conclusion...Utah Mormons don't do anything that out-of-state/country ones do, they just do some eccentric things more on a per capita level (and vice versa is true for other eccentricities I stated in the original post). I challenge anyone to show something that Utah Mormons do that doesn't significantly occur outside of the state...you can't ;-) So, this experience I referred to above was from a relative of some friends of ours that I'm pretty sure don't read this blog. This relative of theirs shared an experience of how a Utah ward that he now lives in has done a couple ward fasts for members in need. He was very surprised to know that a ward in Utah would be that good. What!? It seems like the Utah stereotype is usually the other way around, people are surprised that Utah wards/members are so loose and non-commital, or weird.

Now, the main area in which my opinion has changed...why people leave the church. I have family members, friends, new friends, etc that have left the church completely or to a certain extent. In my mission I heard that 95% of people that leave the church do so because of an underlying problem with morality or the word of wisdom. That implies that they lose their faith and testimony because the underlying problem keeps them from the spirit. Now this may be true in some cases, but my experiences over the past year have shown me the opposite is true, at least with those with whom I'm acquainted. Church history is probably the number one reason. I am fully aware of these reasons and while I don't agree with them, I still love the people that made these decisions and am hurt when others jump to the erroneous conclusion that I used to do. At the same time, because I was guilty of this same problem, I'm easier on those that incorrectly accuse and hope that this will help them be a little less judgmental and more patient/loving.

Contrary to the experiences of some, as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, learning deeply about church history has actually strengthened my testimony rather than weaken it. Similar to an aging oak tree I feel like my spiritual roots are stronger and run deeper thus making me more stable when the winds come blowing.

My role as a father has changed. I now see more importance in my need to do things with my children at their level. This is kind of hard to explain, but I try to consciously get down to their level and do what they do with them rather than get them to come and do what I think they should do with me. I have learned that this allows me to see their individual personalities and talents more rather than pushing them towards what I think would be best for them.

My role as a spouse has changed. I see the need to be positive more than I used to. I really do see Marisa as my second half, without her I truly am not complete and capable of doing what I can when unified with her. That has many benefits, but also some negative consequences that I now try to recognize and avoid. Its ok to be demanding with yourself and push yourself to achieve your very best, but my second half should get recommendation to reach further as a positive encouragement rather than a push for more.

Two posts about which I haven't changed my thoughts much, but have been posts that friends most frequently bring up when we are talking in person were in my Evil is Easier and Not Fair [for women] posts. I have learned to be avoid the dramatic press style titling of my posts like these two had and keep them more straight forward. This helps keep the reader focused on my intent for the post rather than being tripped up on a blatant title intended to encourage clicking through and reading the entire post. The intent had the opposite result.

Evil is easier - I still think this is true. I had a good friend/neighbor give an example of how if you convert a person then they can go and do good for years to come themselves and all of their posterity. As I thought about this, I remembered that the opposite is true as well. But, as I said in the original post, I do think it is possible to do more evil with the same effort than you could do good. What if I spontaneously walked out of my house with the lawn mower gasoline and burnt down a house at night and everyone died inside (this is hypothetical to make a point, I don't really think about this in case you were wondering)...how could you cause the opposite amount of happiness in 2 minutes , for $1.50 and no preemptive thought?

Not Fair - this was a basket of dry straw just waiting to ignite and it caught me by surprise. It made me realize that it's scary to lay myself and my thoughts out there, but at the same time it has really helped me understand myself better and therefore has been worth it so far. So, start your own and let me know about it. We'll understand each other better and be closer in the end.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Positive Praise

If you know my children very well at all, then you know they each have very different personalities and talents. A couple years ago Elder Holland (My favorite apostle BTW) gave a talk in which he counseled against comparing children. He said, "...try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it. You may say most positively that "Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright," but all Susan will remember is that she isn't bright and Sandra that she isn't pretty." This has stuck with me over the past couple of years as I want to tell my first son that he is creative and my second son that he is caring, or any of their other unique attributes. Every time I do, the above phrase would pop into my head. I finally went back to this talk and reread the next sentence, "Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture's obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are 'enough.'"

I take from this that it is ok to praise your children about their unique talents, but not in a way that compares them to each other. I wonder though if this implies that it is better to not praise them about their unique talent when in ear shot of other siblings. This doesn't seem right to me. As I often do to feel out where the middle ground is, on the other side of the spectrum...you obviously don't want to say, "Why can't you be 'X' like you brother." So, where is the line between comparative praise and positive praise about an individual child's unique talent?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Greatest Thing Ever!

At various times in my life I've thought over the question, "What is the single greatest thing in my life?"

A few years ago I decided that for me it is the influence of the spirit:
  • Some of you might be surprised that I didn't say the best thing in my life is my wife Marisa. If you know our story I wouldn't have been inspired to go where I met her or inspired to go up an talk to her if it was not for the influence of the spirit. So without my #1 I could never of had my beloved #2.
  • The influence of the spirit has brought me that much desired comfort in my times of emotional, spiritual and even physical difficulty.
  • I have received slowly over time a testimony of the Gospel via the influence of the spirit which has in turn been a source of comfort knowing the fundamental answer to life's three fundamental questions.
  • I would never have chosen the profession I did without the influence of the spirit and therefore had the confidence to pursue a job that gave me more time with my family.
  • There have been many times in my life where I have noticed a different kind of inspiration that I must attribute to the influence of the spirit rather than just a normal idea that pops into my head.
What is your "Greatest Thing Ever?"