Sunday, November 27, 2011


I suspect if there is any validity to the cliché, ‘we learn from our mistakes’, there have been some periods of my life when the learning curve was exceedingly steep, filled with intense educational moments.

For some months I had been laboring in my ‘spare time’ to build a second bathroom in our home. The eight of us had lived in our ‘getto’ home (I left the H out of the word because I was knocking the ‘H’ out of this 5000 sq. ft. monster) for seven years, making do with one bathroom. Having only one bath with all those bodies was quite an education also, but that will be a story which will have to be told in its own time.

I was very pleased that I had finally completed the second bath and all that was lacking was the laying of the linoleum. It was at that stage of the project that I finally got around to hooking up the water into the bathroom. When I turned on the faucet I was greeted with a miserly flow of water dripping from the tap. To my horror I soon discovered that I had plenty of water collecting in various locations within the finished walls. The next four days were spent in a maddening vicious cycle of discovering leaks, fixing leaks and repairing the walls and flooring in our now twice built bathroom. I hope some of you are able to appreciate the remarkable dedication I was demonstrating in the pursuit of learning.

I don’t believe it requires a very vivid imagination to conjure in your minds the numerous ‘you should haves’ which were freely expressed by family and friends who appointed themselves as sidewalk superintendents…

Having personally suffered through the frustrations and anxieties of building the ‘twice built bathroom’, I don’t feel it essential to further expose my ignorance by detailing the many places I went astray. I am sure it will be sufficient to mention that as I was driving in the last nail while replacing the floorboard, rejoicing in the fact that I had finally found and fixed the last leak, that the nail found the PVC pipe and the floorboard had to be ripped up and replaced for the third time. For some unknown reason, decades later, whenever that bathroom is spoken of by anyone in our family it is referred to as the ‘damn’ bathroom. Personally, I will continue to call it the ‘twice built bathroom’ or the ‘blue bathroom’.

Many Centuries ago a wise and righteous king in a long forgotten land in the Americas by the name of Benjamin admonished his people “that all things should be done in wisdom and in order.” (Mosiah 4:27) Hopefully, having built one bathroom twice will be enough ‘education through hard knocks’ to give me the understanding that it is wise to connect, and test a plumbing system before sealing all the pipes inside of walls and floors.

Oh, that the proper order of all of life’s lessons were so easily learned and could be repaired with only a few minor adjustments!

Oh, that we might be wise enough to glean the wisdom of the ages, so that the pangs of discovering and fixing a disordered life might not be needed to be suffered personally by all!

Oh, that we might be wise enough to stay within the bounds of the order which has been tested and proven to be true!

Oh, that the joy of the orderliness of our Father’s House might not be extinguished by unwise decisions made hastily!
I strongly feel that as it is with twice built bathrooms, so it is with life:

Pre-learning the purposes of life will give understanding as to how we should order our progressive steps.

Orderliness in life’s phases will help eliminate frustrations and anxiety and will lead us to fulfilling our appointed purposes in life.

By orderly, sequential moving though the experiences of life we can grow ever closer to our Heavenly Parents and thereby fulfill life’s main purpose which is that we might have joy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Planting, nurturing and harvesting are numbing cycles if one’s bounty is but stacked and stored.

Selecting the perfect bird would be meaningless if Thanksgiving was a ‘little red hen’ experience.

The trip over the river and through the woods would be far less joyful if grandparent’s arms weren’t outstretched.

Gratitude for the feast spread upon the table would seem hollow if the surrounding chairs were vacant.

Clearing the remnants becomes drudgery if many hands don’t make the task light.

That overstuffed feeling is somewhat alleviated by knowing that the many are well satisfied.

It didn’t come as a seismic jolt, but I am grateful that over the years a significant shift has taken place in my life that where once my gratitude was centered on stuff, it has now gravitated to being dominated by thankfulness for meaningful relationships.

Although I am thankful for the all the technical marvels which have blessed my life, I am much more grateful for the tremendous tentacles which this technology gives me to reach across decades and around the world to establish and reestablish loving friendships.

Although I am thankful for my new titanium knee joint, I am much more thankful for the medical team of doctors, surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and pharmacists who have become part of my life and helped me make this piece of metal functional.

Although I am thankful for our warm and peaceful home, I am much more grateful that Kathleen is here to ad measures to the warmth and peace and for family and friends who continually surround us.

Although I am thankful for a life which has been prosperous and healthy, I am more grateful for all with whom we have been able to share our blessings and have added meaningfully to our well-being.


Sunday, November 13, 2011


When I was a young lad I used to spend hours building structures out of Lincoln logs and little red blocks. The Lincoln logs were made out of real wood and worked marvelously until they came into contact with any moisture. Since those were also the days of pre plastic Lego blocks these little red blocks were also susceptible to damage by moisture. One of the wonderful things about these earlier times was that these construction pieces didn’t come in prepackaged projects which were intended to build only one object. The only thing which limited what I was to build was my imagination and the number of logs or blocks I had in my construction chest.

After dedicating numerous hours building a pioneer complex or some futuristic tower, within just a few minutes my creations were demolished and I had all the logs and little red blocks back in the chest.

Wouldn’t we all consider ourselves to have had an amazing life if structures of Lincoln logs and little red Lego bricks were the only part of our lives which had taken a long time to build and then were torn down in just a matter of seconds?

How often do we see someone’s well-earned reputation crumble with one ill-advised choice?

How often do we see a pattern of honesty destroyed with a ‘chance of a life time’ dishonest deal?

How often do we see pains-taking well-toned bodies quickly weakened by neglect of diet, exercise or disease?

How often do we see years of savings eradicated by a budget busting spending spree?

How often do we see a life time of unifying family life scuttled by someone succumbing to a siren call?

How often do we see a talent extinguished by the cessation of practice?

How often do we see learning limited because of the termination of retention exercises?

How often do we see belief in Deity dissolve because we cease to attend to prayer and chapel?

Observing the rather frequent repetition of these passages in our personal lives and the lives of loved ones never seems to lessen the sadness which accompanies the demolition of an aptitude, acquisition or attribute which had been built with years of relentless proper placing of one bright brick upon another.

Simply because there is a frequency of these ‘life’s efforts’ eliminating activities does not mean that this is the way things should be. We should all believe strongly in the wonderful principle of repentance and perhaps we have had numerous occasions when we have had occasion to call upon the extended mercies. However, it might be well if we were to give equal awareness to the principle of enduring to the end.

During my more experienced years (euphemism for senior or old) I assembled holiday villages around the house and only removed them after numerous requests or pleas for the restoration of our home to its non-holiday state. I suspect if room had been available they would have been a year round Fung Shui part of my environment. Even though this activity did not in anyway ‘endure to the end’, never the less, I was able to get a little bit of understanding between the pleasure and excitement which comes from building with little red block or Lincoln logs and then their immediate destruction and the more continual joy and satisfaction which comes when the results of our efforts endure, if only for a season.

We might consider striving harder to keep our reputations whole through proper choices.

We might consider always making honesty the best policy.

We might consider being constant in healthy habits.

We might consider concentrating on needs and controlling wants.

We might consider faithful relationships to be of more importance that fantasies.

We might consider talents timeless and not temporary.

We might consider the ability to learn an eternal blessing.

We might consider the building of Heavenly relationships a daily responsibility.

Yes, repentance is a tremendously important, necessary and well used principle, but the principle of faithfully enduring to the end is worthy of consideration because of the constancy of joy, peace and satisfaction which will surely attend.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I guess I miss the days of attempting to gather our five sons and our little daughter on Monday evenings for Family Night. (I made an error or slip when I was typing that last sentence and typed Family Fights) I think the pain of undisciplined chaotic hours is fading, because I am now beginning to recall some special evenings when everyone was involved and it felt like the purpose of Family Home Evening was realized if only for a few fleeting moments.

I remember one of those Monday Family Home Evenings which turned out semi positive. (This was before we instituted volleyball as our regular Family Night and attempted to have our spiritual lesson on Sunday evenings, when all members of the family seemed to be a bit calmer.)

The lesson for that ‘better’ Family Home Evening instructed us to make a search of our private mounds of treasure and select that ‘one’ item which if we were called upon to evacuate our home and city, we would not be willing to leave behind. The lesson presenter was told to remain seated during the search and after each family member had shown their article and given a reason for selecting it, the family was supposed to ask where the presenter’s item was. Then, the presenter was to respond, “You are all here, my family is the one thing I would never wish to leave behind.”

This Family Home Evening lesson probably fits into the many cliché formats which have an extra amount of emotional appeal, because they are based on Finality Themes. For years speakers at BYU forums have been asked to give a ‘Last Lecture’, which was intended to stimulate all who were listening into making a dramatic change of direction in their lives. We have all been asked to think about what we would tell our parents if we knew it was the last time we would see them. All of us have probably been asked to contemplate what we would do if we knew we only had a short time to live.

Some years ago I was paying a consolation visit to a friend of mine who had recently lost his brother. Little did I know that I would leave that short visit with a very interesting twist on finality themes. Just a few months earlier his brother had been told that his illness was not one of those ‘take a pill’ things, but he was embarking on a short journey to terminality. My friend summarized the last few months of his brother and his brother’s family with the following thoughts. “There were no dramatic changes of direction needed.” “Their proper course was already a well-established pattern.” “The family was at peace because peace was the norm for the family.” “Love abounded during those months because the family relationships had always been founded on love.” “This final journey was a shared familial experience because all previous experiences had been done with oneness.”

Since that day, when I received far more consolation from my friend than I was able to give, I have remembered this, along with other experiences on that marvelous list, when the skin on the back of my upper arms prickled and the lower lids of my eyes were unable to retain the tears which welled while the Spirit was felt.

Subsequent pondering on this experience with principle has brought me to the belief that the secret to gaining a life filled with purposefulness may not come from living each day as if it were to be our last, but because we weigh each action as if we had a millennial life ahead. Living each moment as if the way I now react will have everlasting consequences for multitudes of tomorrows.

I believe it is possible that weighing decisions on eternal scales might help us become more genuine in our relationships and more sincere in our actions. We might find ourselves developing patterns of constancy of goodness. We might find the directions of our steps more consistently straight. We might find that our tomorrows seem directed to a higher level of trust and security. Not only will we be more constant in seeing the good in others, but I believe likewise, we will begin to have a greater degree of self-love with an appreciation of what we are becoming.

I pause to think about how much more speedy my progress would have been if there hadn’t been so many moments of retracing, retrieving, repenting and regretting. I can’t help but think that ‘futuring’ my thoughts, words and deeds would have saved decades of accumulated detours.

The longer I live the more I desire an epitaph which reads something like “he lived a long, peaceful good life full of love and joy” rather than, “that fellow really came through at the end.” Scrooge is to be respected for his last minute character correction, but lost forever are the decades of sweetness ‘which might have been’. Gone are the years of loving having been cankered by bitterness. Never to be retrieved are the moments of loving tenderness which dissolved in the darkness of fear and pride.

We should all hope we can be more constant in remembering that today will never be the last day of anyone’s life but will always be the first day of the rest of our eternal lives.

It might be well if a part of those prayers we send heavenward might be for help in living today in such a way that we will begin or continue a constancy of a pattern of life that will forever lead to an increase of joy and fulfillment for us and all those we encounter.