Sunday, September 27, 2009

Primary Program

Linda leads the music in Sacrament Service and I usually sit in my assigned seat two rows from the front, so we can sit together during most of the service. Today was our Ward Primary Program and the entire choir seating area was filled with primary age children. By themselves, they usually put on a real entertaining show, but today the 3-year olds stole center stage. Placed on risers in front of the podium, each with his/her own little chair, they sat their like little angels, just waiting for their turn to sing and present.

Linda and I had the best seat in the house. The teachers were sitting on the front row facing their charges, but that didn't stop the individual acts that took place right in front of us. It was a case of twenty five 3-year olds turned comedian. At first, all seemed normal as all eyes turned to watch the chorister. After a few songs, the attention span of a 3-year old turned to entertaining the congregation. With thumbs planted in each eye, he pulled down and revealed red eye sockets. Getting a little rise from his audience, the blond haired kid stood up and took a bow ... sending all of us in the front couple of rows into silent hysterics. Watching him attentively, another little boy decided to catch mom's attention, somewhere in the congregation, so he stood and waived a princely wave at him mom. Simultaneously, a little girl on the top riser became the object of attention as her seat mate noticed the beads on her brightly colored dress and began to pick at them ... which caused the little girl to react by falling off the riser, chair and all. Her teachers were off the pew almost before the little girl hit the floor. Put back into her place, the look of satisfaction she gave the boy brought tears to my eyes.

Then there was the nose picker, the hair puller, the "I can't keep my hands to myself" boy, and the ever popular "turn around and stand on my chair so I can see the group behind me," kid. I know I can't possibly describe the three-ring circus and do it justice, but it was so pure and real, we still got the message of the program, that no matter who you are; no matter your personality, your warts, or your beauty, God accepts us all and desires for each of us to return to His presence.

To help us find our way, he calls special Sunday School Teachers with the patience of Job, to lead, guide, and teach us what we should know. I watched with amazement how the teacher(s) of each class, treated each child with tender love and care, as they proudly guided their charges to the microphone to discharge the carefully prepared script. Teachers, thank you for your sacrifice and faith in preparing tomorrow's leaders each Sunday. You truly are special!

I can't wait until next year's presentation and for certain I will try for 2nd row seats.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Does God HAVE To Answer All My Prayers Pt 2

Let's see, where did I leave off ...? Let's see if I can catch up to my earlier thoughts. Agency produces trials. Trials bring experiences. Experiences develop character. Character is the sum of all the parts. ... Or something to that effect. If we believe that this earth life is staged and premeditated by a higher source of power and love, and I do ... then there must be some purpose for allowing bad things to happen to good people and good things to happen to bad people. It is called "Agency."

We are free to choose. What a marvelous principle.

But sometimes choices are made FOR us. Then we are still free to choose how we will REACT. I was recently terminated by a Company I had given 9 months of effort to. They called it "voluntary Resignation," but it was termination. Other than the pride hit ... it was the right thing to do. The Company made a choice in terminating my employment. I chose to react, not by blaming God for my plight, but by choosing to think out of the box and start another company. Whether or not that was a good choice, will remain the topic for future posts, but for now, I am filled with hope that I can benefit others with a service that will help build their business and provide substanance for my family and I. Another choice that will bring experience and trials and character and opportunity for growth.

If God answered our prayers WHEN WE WANTED THEM ANSWERED and in the WAY WE WANTED THEM ANSWERED, how would that work out? Well, I probably would have married my math teacher, for starters. I was 12 and she was probably 30. Not a good fit. Probably wouldn't have worked. Ya Think??

One thing to consider. God is perfect in His ways, or He wouldn't be God. You have certainly internalized the quote: God's delays are not God's denials," haven't you? For me, this means that God gives us time to season, if it is in our best interests to do so.

God doesn't forget us, although right now as I am being tried, it certainly seems so :>)
I was recently recommended for a position of employment that I felt I was perfect for. I submitted the most compelling resume, dripping with "choose me, choose me" sauce.
I didn't even get called in for an interview. OK, my pride was hurt for a couple of days, but then I came to realize that I would have had to give up other parts of my life and income, to work in this new environment. I still don't know if I would have enjoyed the experience once the novelty wore off, but had I been selected for an interview and ultimately offered a position, I would have taken it.

Only God could know that moving into that environment would have been like having a fish out of water. I might have suffocated. I might not have been happy long term, with the income ... even though RIGHT NOW it would be a blessing. IN THE LONG RUN, it might not have been. I have to TRUST in God that it wouldn't have been a good fit, and MOVE ON.

I hope I have explained my feelings correctly, just in case someone really does read this. It is not my intention to try and convince anyone to think or believe the way I do ... but if sharing my life's experiences helps someone else get through their troubles, then the time it takes to write and post will have been worth it.

God bless.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Does God HAVE To Answer All My Prayers? Pt. 1

Perhaps at one time or another, we have all been on our knees searching for answers to life's trials, only to fall short of receiving satisfactory responses or clear direction. Sometimes when we do receive what we interpret to be an answer and we act on that interpretation, we later discover that it wasn't in our best interests after all. "Why would the Lord confirm my prayers to accept this new job and move to another town, only to be laid off a few months later?" you ask.

The purpose of this post is to share some revealing insight into my own quest for understanding why I don't get clear direction when I sincerely ask for it during "need it, want it, got to have it" - type trials in my life.

Recently, a friend of mine came home rather abruptly after a few weeks of traveling in a foreign country. I went to his home and we talked for a time about his experiences and about his new found passion for the Constitution of the United States of America. He explained to me that he was torn between following this new passion to Washington, DC to march with other like minded people on 9/12 ... as a show of support for our country, or use that money to pay his bills. "It sure is easier to let our emotions rule our actions, than it is to provide a measure of control and reason" I counseled. "But the choice is yours to make. And there will be some type of reaction to the choice you make. How you develop from whichever choice you make, will determine in the long run whether or not it was the right choice at the time." If he chooses to spend the money in support of his current passion, and comes home, only to lay on the couch ... and not become involved with local causes, then spending the money had no benefit other than to provide a weekend of diversion. If he chooses to pay his bills with the money, but gets in contact with those who went to the rally and offers his support to them on a local level, putting in place a plan to attend the next 9/12 march in 2010, then he made the best of his choices, in my opinion.

I use this example only to introduce the concept of "Agency." In the Bible, we read of the great war in Heaven, where 1/3 rebelled against a plan of "Agency" that would provide each person the right to choose his pathway back to God. Some would choose a path that led to everlasting death ... and others would choose the way of eternal life ... but each would choose for himself. The other plan presented was to "guarantee" the successful return of each of us, and the glory be rendered to the the author of that plan. 2/3 of the hosts of Heaven expressed support for Agency ... the right of choice.

In order to exercise our agency, the Lord gave us principles, laws, and commandments to follow, and allows Satan, the author of the "other" plan, to tempt and persuade us to disobey. To get on our shoulder and whisper "lies," thus testing our resolve to stay on the pathway that leads to eternal life.

Choice came early after the formation of our world. In the Garden of Eden, Adam was presented with a choice ... either to stay in the Garden and remain true to Gods commandment to NOT eat of the forbidden fruit, or keep God's commandment to multiply and replenish the earth with Eve as his companion. If Adam did not partake of the fruit, he would have been left alone ... and by eating of the fruit, he would be cast out. Either decision would extract an experience. Only by making a choice would there be an "experience" to follow. It would be through these experiences that Adam and the rest of his posterity, would grow and strengthen in character and understanding. As trials and adversity would come to Adams children, they would pray for answers and direction. It seems from reading the Bible and other revealed scripture, that in those days answers to prayer often came from personal revelation and instruction from God himself, or one of his angels When Christ came to earth and taught his disiples they learned to depend upon him for their instruction and teaching. As the day of Gethsemene drew closer, Christ gathered his disciples to him and spoke of the "Comforter" that would come once Christ was gone. It would be the Comforter, the Spirit of God, that would teach and inspire. This would need to be so, so that all of Adams posterity might have access to Him.

What does all of this have to do with receiving answers to prayer? Everything!

If we will step back and look at our earthly experience as a blip in a long line of blips ... then the fact that we lost our job, lost our money, our home, our car, went through divorce, encountered sickness, etc., would not be of any consequence UNLESS we let one of those experiences derail us from taking the pathway of eternal life back to where God dwells. What matters most is how we react ... and what we learn from life's trials and adversities.

Many of us are currently undergoing great trials in our life right now. It might be related to work, money, debt, sickness, relationships, children ... There appears to be a tide of turmoil spreading across our land in the form of adversity and personal trial. Prayers are being sent heavenward by the droves; many sent from persons who haven't prayed in decades, but now find themselves unable to figure things out ... having to humbly seek the attention of a familiar relationship that existed many years ago, but somehow got dulled over the years of inactivity and independence.

Many faithful prayer warriors are even finding their own domains under attack and in need of support and direction. In these trying times, it is more important than ever to understand the principle of Agency and how it changes the way we think about prayer.

If you have had an experience as I have recently, in not getting a clear signal ... a clear answer to sincere prayer, then this next segment is for you.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Once upon a time, many, many years ago, there was a man who desired to be King. There were also many who desired to have a strong and powerful man be their King and to provide for them and protect them against their enemies. The man who would be King was skillful at flattery and led away many of the good people of the land from basic truths and religions of which their fathers had believed. Many judges of the land were also swayed to support the one who would be King, in exchange for powerful positions of authority and control. "Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget their Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one."

In time, the one who would be King caused a great yearning among the people for change, and through his cunning devices and the use of many flattering words, the one who would be King obtained great power and control over the people who supported his rise to power. But instead of protecting the rights and freedoms of those who supported him, he began to lobby his own agenda, in spite of the wishes of the majority of the people. There were protests from many of his former supporters, but they were deemed "disenters" and done away with. Yea, we see that just one man can destroy the lives and freedoms of an entire nation ... the very foundation of liberty which God had granted to them, so long as their nation remained righteous.

And there was a man in the land who yearned for a return of the precious freedoms he saw being taken from the citizens of his country by the one who would be King and his unrighteous judges and politicians. In search of a better country, he took flight to a land far away. It was a beautiful land. A land rich with natural resources and friendly occupants who welcomed him and made him feel at home. Our man traveled the countryside, hoping to find that which was missing from his heart in hopes to bring his family to this land of promise. He sent word to his anxious family that he had indeed found a land rich with beauty and promise and was traveling the country looking for opportunity and industry to export.

However, as time went by, our man in the land began to hear familiar dissention from the beautiful land's inhabitants. There were men living in this beautiful land, who were becoming more and more like the one who would be King, back in his own country, talking of more government control over the rights of the people, taking land for the government to distribute to the people, and government control of the media, etc. In moments of solitude, our man in the land began to yearn to be back home, to fight the good fight on his own soil, and help turn the tide against the government control of his own free choices.

Our man in the land returned home, more determined than ever to fight for the rights of the people, to protect his own God given rights, and those established by the founding fathers of this nation. He "rent his coat" or in other words, "cranked up his blog" and wrote upon it ... "in memory of our God, our religion, and freedom,and our peace, and our wives, and our children" ... and he posted it on his blog for all to see.

A "Title of Liberty" was set as his standard ... as he called upon all inhabitants of the land to gird up their armor, put on their breastplate and shield (aka: courage and conviction) and bow themselves to their Creator, for the blessings of liberty to rest upon their heads so long as there remained a band of believers to posses the land.

"Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them."(Alma 46:20)

And it came to pass, that when our man in the land posted these things, the people responded with a cry of "count me in," and they mounted their own blogs and began to write ....."in memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, and our wives, and our children." I join this cause of freedom and pledge to sound the war cry for all concerned citizens of the land to band together for the purpose of encouraging righteous government for the people and of the people, and for the preservation of our life, liberty and precious freedoms. And that they did ... didn't they?

**The inspiration for this impromptu literary exercise came from a blog posting by a friend of mine at (somewhere out there) ... travelings of a very disturbed middle aged man :>) I also took license to include scripture from the Book of Mormon, which tells of a leader named Moroni who etched the Title of Liberty as a lesson for the inhabitants of our time, written prior to Christs birth, and anticipating the very challenges we are facing in our society today. Whatever your personal beliefs are, or your political views, I hope this call for a Title of Liberty standard in our own time, will ring loud and true, and strike a chord in the hearts of all who read, so that they too will make the resolve to come out of hiding and make their voice heard. Let us join our differences for the common goal of supporting those who echo the cause of freedom.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


It's funny how hard times force you to think out of the box. I would never have answered an ad on Craigs List for a copywriter, had I not been caught in the jaws of the current recession and forced to look inside my soul for any positives I could find. I knew I could write ... but other than my journal and real estate contracts, I really hadn't tried anything else. So I answered this ad for a copywriter and to my complete surprise, the editor himself answered my query. He asked for a sample of my writing. Ha! I guess I could send him the last contract I drafted ... or tear out a page of my journal. Then I thought, why not write about the experience I had just had attending the Mesa Arizona Temple that morning. So I wrote the article you see posted in my blog, in one setting, and sent it in.

A few days later I get another email from the editor asking me for "ideas" I might have to contribute to his newly started magazine, "Eat Fresh AZ." He sent me to the website for a look at the first printing and to get an idea of the type of writing style it required. He asked if I had ever interviewed anyone before and if I had ever submitted any photography. Of course I said no to all of the above and then I heard nothing for a couple of weeks. I then decided to send him some article ideas, most of which were already being considered.

I happened to mention that I was headed to Yuma to do a construction draw inspection on a hotel for an out of state bank and I wondered if he had any ideas for an article in Yuma. That struck a chord ... as he grew up in Yuma and had wanted to do an article on Yuma Lettuce Days. I said I would drive out to Yuma, interview the sponsoring entity and write an article with photos. Talk about walking in the dark.

So I went to Yuma, found the sponsoring entity, interviewed them, took a few shots of lettuce fields ... and headed home. My daughter in law Jackie Malone is a photography stud-ette and she came over to assist in a raw lettuce "photo shoot."

I wrote the article, added the interviews, and photos of the lettuce close-up, taken in our kitchen and sent it in. A few days later, the editor emailed me with a few style suggestions and asked me to tighten it up a bit. I'm still learning the lingo here. So I still don't know, at this point, if he was going to use the article or not, until the magazine proof goes to the printer. It contains on the front page of the Winter edition ... OUR PHOTO and the cover article on Yuma Lettuce Days. Only they changed the title from "Lettuce Entertain You" (which I thought was way superior) to "A Head of the Curve" (???huh?). Anyway, editor rules.

I couldn't download the article onto this post (still learning how to open a PDF file and download it) so you'll have to go to the magazine website to see the article in all its color and photography, which, for the most part I got from the Yuma Lettuce Days archives... other than the cover photo, of course.

Other than the editor stiffed me when I tried to collect my promised $0.25 cents per word fee ... it was a great experience. The fact that I didn't get paid for my work and that the editor proved to be a flake, doesn't take away the fact that I did accomplish another FIRST in a string of other FIRSTS... like running a marathon (a story for another post). Whether or not I will pursue a second attempt at finding a legitimate opportunity, remains to be seen. But the thrill of not only being published but having your photography on the cover ... the very FIRST attempt, is way cool. Of course I have since sent some articles into the Ensign Magazine, only to receive my FIRST rejection letter. Ok, so they don't know who I am at the Ensign ... I used my writing name "WritRat." HaHa... I will have to direct them to my published article in the "Eat Fresh AZ" magazine. I would send them one but I couldn't even find out where the magazine is being distributed, to obtain a copy. I had to print a copy off the website for my own file. Is this a funny ending ... or the beginning of a fun hobby? I guess time will tell one or the other.