Sunday, March 27, 2016


I only remember it happening once before in my life, when Easter Sunday was this close in proximity to the date of my birth.

The reason I can recall it happening is that for the first time in my life I was able to have empathy with those who have but one gift receiving day per year since the date of their birth falls very close to Christmas.

This, if you think of it, is probably one of the great ironies in history, since many scholars have concluded that the Savior’s birth happened sometime in the spring, since the Shepherds were tending their flocks on the hills during the evening.

Anyway, I remember waking on that long ago Easter Sunday morning and finding a new baseball glove in my Easter Basket along with the green fake grass, candy Easter Eggs which rather quickly became one with the fake grass and a couple of the hens eggs we had colored the afternoon before.

Since the baseball glove was unusual I was rather excited until when I showed it to my dad he wished me happy birthday. The scam was immediately evident. We would be putting candles in the deviled eggs instead of on a birthday cake.

I loved the glove and ate the stuff the Easter Bunny had brought. Since this was years before I gave up eating chocolate (for religious reasons – which is another thought to write about). I had the ears and tail of the delicious chocolate Easter Bunny eaten long before mother told me not to eat any candy before breakfast.

I don't think my funk lasted all that long, probably not beyond my first game of playing catch with my new baseball glove, but I did for some reason feel more than a bit miffed at having to share my special day with the Redeemer of the world.

Now that I can fast forward more than 6 decades I am able to report a rather remarkable shift in my attitude.

I know I won't be getting a baseball glove and as close to eating the ears of a chocolate Easter Bunny I will come will be having a Lindt ‘white’ chocolate ball. The reason I can eat white chocolate is because it doesn't contain any xanthines as do the rest of the varieties of chocolate. Not that there is anything wrong with xanthines and in fact recent propaganda indicates that eating chocolate, especially the bitter dark stuff is actually very good for one’s health.

Anyway I digress, the short story is there was a time in my life I felt a need to experience giving up something I was addicted to and in my case chocolate qualified.

As I was saying, now that I can fast forward more than 6 decades I am able to report a rather remarkable shift in my attitude.

It would be extremely difficult to select any day of the year, which
would be mine alone to celebrate my birth, where the remembrance of the Atoning Sacrifice of the Savior wouldn't also be in my mind sharing that date.

I wish I had been more cognizant of the significance of His merciful act as a young boy, but I am grateful for the depth of feeling that now fills my soul as I contemplate His love for His brothers and sisters.

I am grateful for scriptures which help me to walk where He walked and keep me aware of how far I have yet to go.

As I read of His earthly walk I am reminded of how insignificant baseball gloves and all the other stuff we think we cannot live without really are.

I remember the wonderful day when I realized there was a time when I had to cease praying in order to switch to a more formal type of prayer and realized how different I had become from that boy who had to share his birthday with Easter Sunday.

I spend a lot of time every Sunday, especially during these days when the prophet of God has encouraged us to make the Sabbath a delight, thinking about how grateful I am to have this final phase of my life where I have every day of the week which I can make a delight, by thinking of Jesus the Christ and all He and my Father in Heaven have done to open eternal possibilities to all.

I have hardly begun to exhaust my list of the changes which have accompanied my maturation process in the area of being able to have my birthday in such close proximity to Easter Sunday, but it is sufficient to say, on my soon to be reminder day that another year of my mortal allotment has passed, I will not be thinking of baseball gloves. Hopefully I will be pondering all the recent reminders of the eternal significance of Jesus the Christ and the everlastingness of his gift of mercy to us all.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Even though I felt that I had adequately prepared for my Master’s Degree Oral Exam, whether it was anxiety or the prestigious esteem I held for those who were sitting around the table, when they started asking me about authors and books which I had read for the courses which I had taken, I had a sudden brain drain and had great difficulty connecting any of the neurons necessary to answer intelligently. After the execution (examination) Truman Madsen (the chairperson of the board) kindly informed me I had passed, but quickly added it would probably be best if I didn't put my family through any further seeking of degrees. He easily could have said, anyone who can't remember the author of ‘Jesus the Christ’ would be making a big mistake trying to seek any further degrees.

As a young man who had just recently returned from his mission in Northern Mexico, I had set a goal of getting a Doctorate Degree. When the opportunity was presented a few years later, I jumped into the educational fray with my family in tow. Kathleen was especially included in the adventure, since she had long ago become the editor, typist and organizer of all previous attempts I had made in pursuit of my educational goals. There would also be sacrifice of father time for the six young children who by this time blessed our home. Ignoring Brother Madsen’s counsel we blindly and boldly plunged ahead.

The three years of course work, special projects, papers, exams and dissertation writing passed rapidly and suddenly the appointment for my Doctoral Oral Exam was in stone. I didn't know whether the calmness I felt as I entered the room was due to the water which had passed under my bridge since I received my Master’s Degree or that the panel was entirely made up of peers I had been working with during those early years of my career in the Church Education System. At any rate my calmness was the polar opposite of the anxiety I had felt during the previous Oral Exam experience.

The exam was opened with a prayer and then the first question was asked. To my delight they didn't begin asking me to connect books to authors, although I had diligently been preparing for this possibility with flash cards. The question was, ‘who do you believe has the ownership of children, parents or institutions.’ My answer came so quickly that I was sure a lengthy rebuttal would pursue, but instead we spent the required hours after that one question, reminiscing about our years together. Just to satisfy your curiosity, my answer was, ‘neither has ownership, but both have stewardship.’ I elaborated on that brief response for another five minutes, but there were no further questions.

As I have previously written in my Thoughts, I believe in the process of self-examination and, likewise, I am sure in most aspects of our live we are constantly being evaluated by others. Many times, whether we are examining internally or whether it is coming from some other source, much like my Master’s Degree Oral Examination the queries keep coming going deeper and deeper until we or others are satisfied that the extremes of our progress, understanding and knowledge have been reached.

I have been thinking that our ULTIMATE FINAL EXAM where our mortal progress will be measured will be more like my Doctoral Degree Oral Exam and have no resemblance to my Master’s Degree Oral Exam.

It is entirely possible that the Savoir gave us a hint of what the question on the exam will be when he replied to the query of which of the commandments was the greatest. We recall that his response to the lawyer who was examining him was, the first and great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds and then he quickly added that the second is like unto it, that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:36-39)

With all our anxiousness, with all our fear and trembling, it seems that as we stand before that FINAL BAR, there may well be but one two part question, ‘did you have loving relationships with the Lord your God and your neighbors.’ Warning, there could be a possible follow up question about who made our list of neighbors and how inclusive that list was.

John recorded in his Gospel the Savior teaching that we demonstrate our love for our Lord and God by keeping his commandments. (John 14:15) In the second chapter of his 1st Epistle, John also taught that we would know when we are keeping his commandments; first, because by so doing we would come to know Him and second, through keeping his commandments the love of God would be perfected in us.

John also helps us to understand how we demonstrate our love for our neighbors. Once again using the Saviors words, he recorded that we must love one another as He has loved us, and in this way we are to love one another. (John13:34, 35)

And oh how He loves us:

He feeds us when hungry

He binds up our wounds

He is the light of our lives

He finds us when we are lost

He guides us safely home

He is our Salvation and Redemption

Although I realize that all my meager efforts will never approach His magnificence, I pray that when I enter His presence for my ULTIMATE FINAL EXAM, my efforts will have been sufficient and that I will be able to answer with calmness, that indeed I love my Lord and God and my neighbor.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Sal had long dreamt of the day when he would be able to take the cattle high into the mountains all by himself. He had been at his father’s side each of the last seven years as they drove their small herd higher and higher into the Oquirrh Mountain range. He knew now that since he had passed his sixteenth birthday a few months earlier, his father would expect him to drive their cattle to the summer mountain range all on his own.

The wonderful smells of Mom’s Thanksgiving feast were long forgotten.

The bright colors of Christmas were once again back in their trunk in the barn.

The snows of winter were at last giving ‘way to emerald blades.

As Sal sat by the comfort of the fireplace and listened to the logs snapping their warming tune, his father’s voice broke into the silence at the beginnings of his drossiness which always seemed to accompany sundown.

Although his father had spent many hours as they rode up and down the mountain side repeating and repeating the importance of this annual ritual, for some reason his words had never had the force that now seemed to cause a cascading avalanche upon his sudden awaked-ness.

“It is time for you to drive the cattle into the mountain for the summer. Tomorrow I am putting the family’s future into your hands. Your mother and I know that our trust will not be misplaced.”

A little smile curved Sal’s lips slightly upward at the corners, partly because of the short direct sentences in which his father always spoke, as if he wanted those he was talking to to know that he didn't waste words, but mostly because of the warmness which was coming into his heart which he knew wasn't coming from the fireplace.

Sal broke the silence which followed his father’s declaration and then was immediately saddened and wished with all his might that his thoughts had remained in his head. There they were hanging in the air putting a chill on the room as if they had just gone out into a morning fog.

“How can I know the way?”

In the same steady short sentences his father, with more patience than Sal remembered him having in his voice before, said softly, “I have taught you the signs of the trail. Remember and follow the signs.”

The following morning, bundled against the chill of the brisk spring morning, Sal started the small herd of cattle which represented so much to his family’s welfare up the gentle slopes which led to an abrupt climb up the west side of the Oquirrh Mountains.

He had barely left the comfort of the valley floor when he suddenly found himself staring into the maze of canyons which would eventually take him into the high summer meadows where the cattle could contentedly graze until autumn.

As he passed familiar sign after familiar sign it seemed as if his father was by his side once again repeating those words he had heard so many times before. Sal was not only assured, but amazed at how those treasured words chimed a sweet comforting message in his mind. It made him feel assured in the same way he sometimes felt when the words and melody of a church hymn would come to him in moments when he felt troubled.

Remember the smells of life giving water are crucial.

The colors on the sides of the trees give one constant direction.

The stable stars of night will always replace the light of day.

In another day at another time the most loving of Fathers sat before his throng of children and told them their time would come.

I suspect universally we must have had the thought pass through our minds, “How can we know the way?”

Softly the Father of Fathers, knowing our hearts, would have reassured us with the softly spoken words, “I have taught you the signs. Remember and follow the signs.”

Surrounded as we are by the tempests of life, we make our way through the maze of valleys and up the mountains seeking to find joy on our mortal journey, gratefully hearing now and again, our Father’s words ringing from afar into our souls.

The stench of evil will be repugnant to the righteous.

The colors of truth will always brighten the path of those who seek My way.

The darkness of evil will always give way to the light of the gospel.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Throughout my life both Kathleen and my mother often found occasion to remind me or make an appropriate comment about the behavior of others concerning what I will be referring to as ‘Caring for one’s Capital.’ For Kathleen these comments were very fitting, because by her natural DNA makeup she is very frugal. My mother was not all that frugal, but she just had a lot of little sayings for almost any situation. When I was young and we didn't have much in the way of stuff I thought my mother was very frugal, but once my father started making a very good wage along with a generous end of year bonus, her needs and wants seemed to flip flop or magnify which ever seems right.

Anyway the ditties which I have heard throughout my life include, but are not limited to the following:

A penny saved is a penny earned

You can’t have your cake and eat it too

Even when you buy something on sale you have still spent money (I suspect this applied to wants and not to needs)

Waste not, want not

You can only spend your earnings once

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

I suspect you have already become weary of the point I am trying to make. Therefore, let me put a little twist on the subject of ‘Caring for one’s Capital.’

I believe besides the spending and saving of money we also have limits on other capital resources:

Love and Friendship

Dedication and Diligence

Spirituality and Service

I hope that before you finish reading this Thought you will have added some of your own areas of life which may have caused you stress and frustration because the capital you have available in some part of your daily routine has been exhausted or depleted.

I am grateful for my mother’s early encouragements to be more conscientious about saving than spending. I am more than grateful for the aid Kathleen has been in transforming me (there are times when I am sure she still considers me a work in progress) into a person who has enough squirrel in him to be concerned about putting away some nuts for the winters, times of scarcity or lean times which will surely come to all during our lives.

Kathleen and I are able to spend what will be our last phase of mortality in comfort with sufficient for our needs because I was able to learn and apply to some degree the counsel she and my mother gave. I suspect most, if not all, have heard the phrases referred to earlier many times during your lives, I will spend the remainder of this Thought thinking about some of the other areas of our lives where ‘Caring for one’s Capital’ is of vital importance.

During the second year of jumping the hurdles on the way to achieving my goal of gaining a Doctorate Degree, I had to complete a PROJECT. Since I was getting my doctorate in the area of Educational Administration the PROJECT had to be in the area of leadership training. I had a very natural collection of leaders with whom I was involved in the various Stakes and Wards in Northern Nevada and Northeastern California. I sought and was granted permission to present this leadership training PROJECT throughout that area by our Regional Representative, Elder Leonard Robinson.

I felt I had done a very good job in the creating and organizing of my PROJECT, but after the first or maybe the second leadership training meeting I held, I learned a very powerful lesson about the amount of time, talents and resources which we individually are able to spend, depending on the available Capital we have in reserve in the areas of our lives which do not involve coins.

I made a quick revision with a few additions to my leadership training PROJECT, and ended up with what to me was a surprising conclusion to the training sessions. After either the first or second training meeting which was being held for the Ward and Stake Leaders of the Quincy, California Stake, one of the Ward Relief Society Presidents came up to me and with tears flowing from her eyes, sobbed ‘I don’t think I can do any more.’ I must add that my presentation in its first edition was heavy on motivating leaders to do more and better in their callings. I suspect we have all attended such meeting.

Anyway, it was after a comforting hug and departing for a long drive home through the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains that the thought came to me that we all have only so much Caring Capital available to us. Like resources, we all have varying amounts of Capital at our disposal in our accounts of time and talents. Likewise, if we are not given the opportunity to restore used up resources in these other areas of our lives, the stress and exhaustion which attends being bankrupt in these areas will cause us to attempt to escape or shut down our productive activities.

One of the things I discovered during the year I was presenting my Leadership PROJECT was that as a leader, if we do not realize and recognize when a person is reaching the limits of the Capital they might have in their Love, Dedication or Spirituality Capital Treasuries, we may soon find a person under our stewardships who seeks relief through escaping or shutting down.

To be sure there are women who can juggle all 16 balls required to keep the ship at home afloat, still manage to do their visiting teaching the first week of the month, and be President of the Primary. BUT NOT EVERY WOMEN HAS THAT MUCH CAPITAL IN THEIR CARING TREASURIES. If we are not vigilant in our Caring for those under our stewardships, we may find ourselves with another problem rather than someone to help us with solutions.

To be sure there are men who can spend 60 hours a week building a successful career, do their home teaching the first week of the month and be the Scout Master. BUT NOT EVERY MAN HAS THAT MUCH CAPITAL IN THEIR CARING TREASURIES. If we are not vigilant in our Caring for those under our stewardships, we may find ourselves with another problem rather than someone to help us with solutions.

And see that these things are done in order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might with the prize; therefore all things must be done in order. (Book of Mormon – Mosiah 4:27)

I suspect that my greatest contribution that year, for both myself and those who attended my PROJECT, was learning that I needed to continually take inventory of the Capital I have available, as well as the Capital which all under my Stewardship might have available, and make sure not to spend or demand resources of time and talent when the cupboard has become bare.

Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal. (Pearl of Great Price – Abraham 3:18)

I didn't learn it during that year, but I have come to understand or at least I think I am coming to understand that the limits of ‘Caring for one’s Capital,’ although it certainly involves their faith and belief quotients, also has many other factors which will determine when their resources have been exhausted.

Besides the obvious point that Abraham was being taught, that none of us are alike, and, therefore, we should never judge another based on the resources in our own Capital treasuries, I hope we also catch the importance of there being no end to our existence, which to my understanding opens the possibility that there will be no end to seeking and gaining an increase in our Capital holdings of Love and Friendship, Dedication and Diligence and Spirituality and Service.