We Each Have a Story

Given in the Holladay 10th Ward

Sources

  1. “We Each Have a Story” by By Elder Gerrit W. Gong – Apr 2022 General Conference
  2. It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn, published 2016
  3. Coco, Disney-Pixar, 2017
  4. “The Family Stories That Bind Us” by Bruce Feiler, published March 15, 2013 in New York Times
  5. Job 1:21 KJV
  6. Notes on The Hero’s Journey from Damon D’Amore
  7. Beyond Order by Jordan B Peterson
By |2022-07-21T14:36:23-06:00July 10th, 2022|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

’Tis the Set of the Sail

Dang, this is good.

And from 1916.

But to every mind there openeth,
A way, and way, and away,
A high soul climbs the highway,
And the low soul gropes the low,
And in between on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.

But to every man there openeth,
A high way and a low,
And every mind decideth,
The way his soul shall go.

One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
’Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
’Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919; found here)
’Tis the Set of the Sail
By |2022-07-21T14:37:23-06:00April 19th, 2022|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Merry Christmas: “Witnesses of Christ” Christmas Concert

Christmas concerts, cookies, caroling and celebrating Christ. I look forward to the holidays every year.

But as the years go on, I wonder if I’ll feel the spirit of the season — whether I’ll access the youthful, innocent spirit of wonder, or if cynicism, disappointment and growing responsibilities have layered so thick that even the penetrating messages of Jesus’ birth and the magic of Santa Claus won’t reach my heart.

When I was young, my parents gave me The Polar Express.

A Christmas Concert: Witnesses of Christ

Inside the front cover, my mother wrote: “May you always hear the bell.”

Not a year has gone by when I haven’t asked, “Will I hear the bell again this year?”

The disappointments and challenges of the year are what they are. And music doesn’t make them go away. But the performers in this Christmas concert offered praise that reached my heart. And so, once again, I thank God that I have heard the bell and felt the promise of the gift of His Son.

🔔

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

A Christmas Concert: Witnesses of Christ

  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing / Performed by Truman Brothers
  • Witnesses of Christ – Introduction / Host, David Butler
  • Witnesses of Christ: Shepherds / by Adam Hartshorn
  • While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks / Sung by USU Chamber Singers
  • Witness of Christ: Simeon / by Matheus Santos
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear / Sung by Daniel Beck
  • Witness of Christ: Manger / by David Butler
  • O come, O come Emmanuel / Sung by Allie Gardiner and Wade Farr duet
  • Kids Talking about Christmas / Presented by Shaunna Thompson
  • Deck the Halls / Played by Josh and Lindsey Wright
  • Witness of Christ: Mary / by Mary Alisa
  • Infant holy, Infant Lowly / Sung by Stella Yeritsyan
  • Moment Video – Nativity
  • In the Bleak Midwinter / Sung by Rise Up Children’s Choir
  • Witnesses of Christ Today / by Host David Butler
  • Oh, Come All Ye Faithful / by Abraham Thomas, Aitana Alapa, and Terrell Baker

Memories of singing at Temple Square and my music background.

By |2021-12-15T14:24:23-07:00December 13th, 2021|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

How to Make Stuff Happen

Everyone’s got dreams: things that have never been done or that are bigger than what can be done alone. A few notes to make stuff happen:

[1] Be up to something.

Be up to this thing until you have momentum. Momentum is the flywheel of force that makes it easier as time goes on for you to continue contributing to this thing you are up to. Momentum consists of habit and ritual you’ve created which draw you back into taking actions for the same thing. Progress is an evidence of momentum. Being up to something means you have something at stake. You are living for something.

Make Stuff Happen - start by pounding the rock
How to Make Stuff Happen: start by pounding the rock for your own cathedral

[2] Test for traction.

Once you have momentum, share what you are up to with another human being. Traction is momentum that attracts. When people are really up to something, it’s attractive. People will ask questions, dive in, ask for more, make offers in the presence of what’s attractive. If they want more of it, you’ve got traction.

[3] Invite.

Invitations without a background of people getting what you are up to leaves them unable to answer for themselves … “what’s in it for them to be asking me?” People are suspicious. Aren’t you? Invitations made in advance of experiencing momentum, with an absence of attraction, fall flat. People have their own stuff they are up to. Why would they create lifeless busy work for themselves? After people witness you being up to something and experiencing the momentum of it, only then does an invitation to participate stand of shot of landing.

[4] Stay the course.

Regardless of response to invitations, keep going. Making things happen requires not being messed with by responses.

Make Stuff Happen - stay the course
Stay the course.

Other considerations to make stuff happen:

Why invite someone to do something you aren’t up to? If you won’t do it, if you aren’t doing it … why would they?

Often a prerequisite to [2] is Make a connection. Connect with another human being so they can paint a picture of what’s going on in their world; something to which you can relate. Give them a chance to say what they are up to. You may find they are up to nothing. Start with a no-stake, no-demand, no-request contact. When they experience that you are willing to look into their world, they then may be willing to hear you offer something from yours.

By |2021-12-27T13:27:49-07:00October 17th, 2021|Faith, General Life, Marketing|0 Comments

Ideas for LDS Sacrament Meeting Talks

A friend posted: “I need some good topics for Sunday speakers. Hit me up with topics you have liked or would like to hear about.” Without any hesitation I banged out this list of ideas for LDS sacrament meeting talks.

A few of the immediate reactions:

Reaction to my ideas for LDS sacrament meeting talks

“If I ever write a book, you’re picking the title.”

“Holy cow! Where did all these come from? Seriously the titles alone speak a sermon.”

“Nat holy cow. If you just came up with those that is mind blowing.”

Spice up your Sunday meetings with these starting points off the beaten path.

If you write a sacrament talk or ask someone to speak from one of these titles, send me a copy or comment.


34 Ideas for LDS Sacrament Meeting Talks

When People Don’t Apologize: Forgiving and finding reconciliation with God

Would borrow from Forgiveness + Tribulation, a talk I gave fall 2019.

Honoring Fallen Parents: The Fifth Commandment and Romans 3:23

The Fifth Commandment enjoins: “Honor thy father and thy mother.”

Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

How can we, how do we, honor parents … when they have ALL fallen short—at best—and done real harm, at worst?

Mediating Identities: Being an independent agent AND part of a family, part of a ward, part of a Church at the same time

… for there is a God, and he hath created all things … both things to act and things to be acted upon … Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself.

2 Nephi 2:14-16

[M]en should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will … For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.

D&C 58:26-27

vs.

And let every man esteem his brother as himself … And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself. For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just? Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.

D&C 38:24-27

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.

John 17:22-23

Forgiving Ourselves: Letting go of shame, expectation, guilt and perfectionism

The Appeal of Hakuna Matata, and Gospel Prompts for Finding + Making Meaning in Shouldering Responsibility

“Time Isn’t Found, It Is Made” — and other pedestrian truisms the gospel turns upside down

I believe “time isn’t found, it is made” is a Henry B Eyring line. Need to verify.

We’re All Wart: How The Sword and the Stone helped me rediscover what it means to be a child of God

There’s so much to unpack from these opening 8 lines.

Heavenly Mother & The Tree of Life: Symbols of Divine Femininity

7 Years of Plenty and 7 Years of Famine: What I am really learning to lay up in store for my family

The Good Samaritan: Seeing myself in every character

I Am Alma Too: Conversations with my present-day children of varying degrees of faith

(I don’t have kids. To someone who does, go for it.)

From Obedience to Integrity: The personal transformation to leader from follower

Skeletons in Our Closet: What to do when family history uncovers unsavory characters

The Prodigal’s Sibling: Learning to love as my father did

Cardinal Truth: Spiritual directions intimated by North, East, South and West

Seeing Thru a Glass Darkly: The beams that got in the way of knowing my parents, siblings and spouse

The Kingdom of God is Within Me … so why do I place so much stock in others’ accusations?

The Tarnished Rule: Consequences of misapplying The Golden Rule, and how I finally buffed out the error

Why Hope When You Can Ask … and Act?

Being Nice and Cowardice: Which, really, am I being?

Being Even As He Is: A Chapter on Courage

Every Day is a New World: Living with Creative Force in Every Moment

Clinging to Dregs: The unseen upside to keeping ourselves dirty and why we make that horrible tradeoff

Embracing Possibility: The absolute terror of becoming the best possible versions of ourselves

Letting Others Grow: The petty ways I’ve kept my friends & family small

No One is Coming: Stand Up and Lead Your Own **** Life

Taking Responsibility: Voluntarily shouldering the burdens of mortality and climbing upward to The City on a Hill

Empty Handed at the Pearly Gates: Coming to grips with my own vapidness from a life of ease

Oh, So You Think YOU Could Be a Prophet?

Admitting Laman and Lemuel are there to Mirror Me

Lehi and Alma: Grace for parents who “failed”

Ether 12:27: Weaknesses and Epic Fails which only now, a decade later, I can appreciate and be grateful for

Leaning on The Atonement to Overcome Humiliation

The Sound of Silence: Answering my own prayers

There you go. What ideas for LDS sacrament meeting talks do you have now?

By |2021-12-22T17:15:01-07:00April 27th, 2021|Faith|5 Comments

Forgiveness + Tribulation

I gave this talk on forgiveness in my ward September 15, 2019.

Three and a half weeks ago, my wife and I landed in the Paris airport, ready to begin a two-week second honeymoon and celebration of my progress in triathlon — the chance to race at the ITU Age Group World Championships.

I qualified to participate during races last year (oly, sprint), and we got married in June of this year. So as we brought our carry-ons down from the overhead bins and shuffled off the plane, we were well familiar with our feelings of anticipation and nerves of excitement to embark on a journey one year in the making.

Forgiveness + Tribulation: Our bags at CDG
Our bags for a week in France, a week in Switzerland and two World Championship triathlons.

After passing customs, navigating French directional signage for traces of English and snacking on chocolate croissants, we boarded a train, hoisted our things up on a luggage rack and collapsed, again, into our seats for a 4-hour ride. 30 minutes in, I got up to walk around. I crossed into the car behind us and, upon returning, passed the luggage rack to look down and find the lower slot empty.

Our bags were gone.

Stolen.


From just those few words, you might have felt, right there in your seat, that gut sinking, stomach-in-a-knot-tying sense of dread — the feeling of being violated, of the world not going the way you think it should, and grand plans running awry.

Perhaps you recalled a time something someone said or did broke your sense of reality, when your trust corrupted, or when unexpected circumstances shattered your sense of the way the world and people are.

We are all familiar with tribulation.

I am going to talk about forgiveness.

We all face tribulation. By tribulation, I mean events that bring about trouble, suffering and sorrow.

We experience tribulation …

. . . from our own weakness
Our own humanity guarantees mistakes.

. . . from our own intention
Yes, on occasion we know better. We rebel.

The line between good and evil cuts through the center of every human heart.

AS, emphasis added

And sometimes, we act in evil.

. . . from others’ weakness
We are surrounded by humans, like us, blumbering along, dropping balls, communicating poorly, forgetting, assuming incorrectly even with good intent, innocently insensitive and so on.

. . . from others’ intention and malevolence
Yes, on occasion we brush up against crime, the intent to harm and destroy and rob another of his or her agency.

In all 4 situations, millstones temporal and spiritual end up around our necks.

[B]ut we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.

Romans 5:3-4, emphasis added

And whether we be afflicted [no matter the source or type of our afflictions], it is for []our consolation and salvation.

2 Corinthians 1:6, emphasis added

Among patience, experience, hope and the many attributes we can develop in tribulation, practicing forgiveness is one that is always available.

A heading from a Come Follow Me lesson reads:

As I am forgiven of my sins, my love for the Savior deepens.

March 11-17

Further, I believe our love for each other and God and the Savior also deepens as we forgive — whether for sin or weakness — ourselves and others.

DISBELIEF / REJECTION

When I first looked down at the empty luggage rack, my initial reaction was disbelief. As my gut sank, I rejected the possibility of theft. “THIS THEFT CAN’T BE TRUE.” I first accused myself of mistake and error: “Am I really looking at the spot where I put them?”

I looked up. Yes, Emma was just seats away.

My gut again said they were stolen, and I held off, granting general humanity the benefit of the doubt as I wondered, “Perhaps someone had good reason to move them?”

Forgiveness in this moment

There was forgiveness for myself: I forgave myself for the natural, hasty accusation that I was in error.

RECOGNITION / ACCEPTANCE

When I determined our bags were nowhere in the car, I shut off my disbelief, my willingness to be generous and my willingness to believe in the goodness of others. I began to accept the reality of theft. After leaving the first station, we had stopped at two others.

“NO, THE TRUTH IS WE REALLY HAVE BEEN ROBBED, AND OUR THINGS ARE GONE, NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN.”

Forgiveness in this moment

There was forgiveness for myself: I forgave myself for the harsh abandoning of granting others the benefit of the doubt, and for saying things like, “I’ll never let our luggage out of our sight again,” a statement which implies the accusation that no one, in any circumstance, can be trusted.

REACTION / RESISTANCE

But I didn’t want the theft, or the consequence of it, to be true.

In a moment, the meaning of the theft transmuted from “a few material things are no longer in our possession,” to

  • “this entire trip is a bust!”
  • “Emma will never travel with me again!”
  • “I am a failure of a man, not doing my duty to watch and protect my family and our things!”

In the swell, I resisted the reality and rejected my emotions of sadness and hurt.

Rather than letting my emotions come over me, I fought — “I don’t want this to be true” — by seeking for things I could control in vain attempts to force time backward and reality to undo itself.

“I will contact the conductor. I will get him to undo the situation, notify the police, review the security footage, apprehend the thieves, restore our belongings to us, and make all well in the world again.”

We did that, and I even paced up and down every level of every car of that train, saying to myself, “By checking every nook and cranny I might magically rewind time, undo what has happened and bring the suitcases back.”

My sadness, unacknowledged, gave way to anger, badgering the conductor to do more, and saying under my breath, “Just wait’ll I find those thieves and see what I do to them…”

Were I sharper, I might have metabolized my own anxiety rather than pushing it out on others.

Upon visiting every car and exhausting the conductor, I came to that place where Father Adam and Mother Eve arrived some time after The Fall: the realization that there is no going back to the Garden of Eden.

Emma and I experienced, as we all do, another Fall in mortality. And there was no going back to the way life was before.

Forgiveness in this moment

There was forgiveness for life generally: I forgave, generally, that it happened — to forgive the world, knowing the conditions of mortality.

There was forgiveness for myself: I forgave myself for my own proclivity to catastrophize situations — to shout “woe is me, all is lost!” in a selfish show to win sympathy and attention from others.

I forgave myself for responding to feeling robbed with attempts to rob others of their agency.

I forgave myself for entertaining, even if briefly, the thought that it was Emma’s fault because she was facing the rack.

I forgave myself for being less than gracious with the conductor.

There was forgiveness for the conductor: I forgave the conductor for being a man of limited means and doing his best, which was far short of stopping the train and turning back, or calling in French special ops to drop their present tasks, review security footage at the 2 stations we stopped at and put all resources into tracking down and apprehending the thieves.

There was forgiveness for the police: I forgave the police for doing what seemed to be so little — asking the station Lost and Found departments if they had received anything and inviting us to file a report.

There was forgiveness for the thieves: I forgave the thieves for the feeling of being violated.

REACHING OUT / CALL FOR HELP

I came to myself as I realized we weren’t in this alone and that there were more ways forward than the singular solution I had at first: rewind time and undo the theft.

I sat down across from Emma and we looked at each other, aware of our shared sadness. We expressed gratitude for having each other, and offered each other assurance that all was not lost, that we’d have a good trip, and everything would be OK.

I emailed the Team USA managers to ask about getting a replacement racing jersey. Just in case, I contacted a friend here who had the jersey in my size, and asked him to give it to another friend who was traveling to the event later.

Emma contacted a neighbor to ask her to fetch a new pair of my contacts from our home and rendezvous with my friend before he traveled.

Emma made conversation with the people sitting around us, and the man behind us asked a friend of his, who was into triathlon, to recommend a store where I could buy the proper shoes and pedals for my bike, since mine had been in my suitcase.

WE COULDN’T UNDO THE TRUTH OF THE THEFT, BUT WE COULD ASK OTHERS FOR HELP TO LIVE IN OUR NEW REALITY.

REPAIRS + RESTORATION

Once we arrived at our destination, we spent the next 36 hours receiving help and going to work to restore what was lost.

We visited the bike store.

We got new clothes.

We got toothbrushes and toothpaste, and essential things to live comfortably for the next two weeks.

WE RECEIVED HELP AND TOOK NEW ACTIONS ALLOWING US TO LIVE WELL IN OUR NEW REALITY.

Forgiveness in this moment

There was forgiveness for my uncle: I forgave, even here, my uncle, our host, for not knowing exactly where to take us to get what we needed to replace what we lost.

There was forgiveness for the store owners and the small town: I forgave them all for having what they had — and not everything we hoped they would.

There was forgiveness for the thieves: I forgave the thieves again, now for us taking time to do all of this, instead of our original plans.

RECONCILIATION / PEACE

It is easy to replace a shirt, or pants, or a toothbrush.

It’s harder to replace unique, sentimental and one-of-a-kind items.

Around my birthday in March, Emma remembered that during a previous trip, I threw out a suitcase that had come to the end of its days, and she presented me with a wonderful new suitcase. With our Europe trip months away, the gift was as much a gesture of restoration as a statement of promised companionship in the months to come.

I gave the suitcase a dry run during business travel that spring. Finding myself pleased with Emma’s selection, and also wanting to say, “I’m looking forward to an adventure with you,” I got Emma a matching suitcase. Having matching suitcases for our European adventure was part of the thrill of going.

The suitcases being gone, and everything within, seemed to tarnish the memory and the sentiment. And it seemed buying new suitcases simply wouldn’t polish that out.

One is not only to endure, but to endure well and gracefully those things which the Lord ‘seeth fit to inflict upon [us].’

NAM, Patience, emphasis added

Beneath any temporal restoration lays a sense of spiritual and emotional loss — where the tribulation actually lives.

Even as Emma and I restored our lives temporally, my soul was troubled:

  • Why did this happen?
  • I would have put the suitcases in a different spot had I known . . . 
  • I should have never taken my eye off our bags.
  • I could have prevented this fiasco had I . . .

The bottomless pit of worrying “Why me? Why us? Why now?” in search of an explanation where there is none, and the troubling triumvirate of woulda/coulda/shoulda, are certainly predictable, normal, human responses to tribulation. And I don’t blame myself for having had them, and wouldn’t blame you either.

But they are millstones and were around my neck on that train and the days following.

To endlessly ask “Why?” when the Lord has said, “I give you tribulation for your salvation” seems to be an impatient plea to bring about justice on our time table, rather than to shoulder the cross of mortality and continue walking toward Heaven.


My grandfather died in a military plane crash in 1961.

Some time within a year of that event, my aunt was talking with friends about whether God lets things happen, or if things happen and He is surprised. After that conversation, my 12-year-old aunt knelt in her room and prayed and asked God about it.

The Holy Ghost overcame me from head to toe and the answer was: ‘i-t d-o-e-s-n’t m-a-t-t-e-r.’ And that has given me comfort throughout my life. That it’s not given to us to know in this life. And on the other side in the grand scheme of things, we’ll be able to see and understand. But for now it d-o-e-s n-o-t m-a-t-t-e-r.

PHH, personal notes Sep 22, 2016

The answer revealed to her reminds me of the oft repeated scriptural phrase: “it mattereth not.”

To beat oneself with woulda/shoulda/coulda, seems to deny ourselves “the grace that, so fully, He proffers me” (Hymns) and to reject the gift of the veil and conditions of mortality, wherein we have space between our choices and the necessary, full, eternal magnitude of their consequences coming down on us, so that we can repent and go at it again without being doomed to live forever in our sins.


In all tribulation, there is the physical-temporal component, and the spiritual-emotional component.

The spiritual component and how we feel about it is more important than the physical because …

Things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18, emphasis added

Our visible things will not go with us.

But our unseen hearts and thoughts will.

From President Henry B Eyring:

If we are to have unity, there are commandments we must keep concerning how we feel. We must forgive and bear no malice toward those who offend us. The Savior set the example from the cross: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34). We do not know the hearts of those who offend us. Nor do we know all the sources of our own anger and hurt. The Apostle Paul was telling us how to love in a world of imperfect people, including ourselves, when he said, ‘Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil’ (1 Cor. 13:4–5). And then he gave solemn warning against reacting to the fault of others and forgetting our own when he wrote, ‘For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known’ (1 Cor. 13:12).

That We May Be One, Apr 1998, emphasis added

I promise to do my best, to be patient with you. To cultivate a forgiving heart. And to seek spiritual gifts in the tribulation we experience, inadvertently and intentionally.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Books that helped tremendously in my practice of and growing capacity to offer and receive forgiveness:

I listened to all of these on Audible, except Alice Miller’s work which I found on YouTube. It’s now also on Audible.

Try Audible Plus or gift someone a 3-, 6- or 12-month Audible membership.

h/t to Ashley Rasmussen for these suggestions. Her man Danny was featured here earlier.

By |2021-02-11T14:11:12-07:00September 15th, 2019|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Pound The Rock

Pound the rock.

It’s in the footer of my website.

It’s in my email signature.

It’s the first phrase of three I have littered all over the internet. (The second and third being “Do good” and “Have a great time.”)

It’s the motto Gregg Popovich uses at the San Antonio Spurs. Their fan club is named after it. In fact, I’ve been told, it’s the only quote/motto/words-of-inspiration that appear anywhere inside the Spurs’ facilities.

So what about it? Why pound the rock?

This:

When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before. — Jacob Riis

Pound The Rock - Jacob Riis

We love telling “overnight success” stories.

They aren’t true.

Every “overnight success” story is … just a good story.

A story designed to get us to believe “we too” can be as successful as the “overnight” success.

Well, we can.

But not overnight.

Because they didn’t get there overnight.

These stories, so it seems to me, often are told to sell “the overnight method.”

When we buy that method, we get burned. Expectations fall unfulfilled, and we don’t succeed overnight — because we need to pound the rock:

To pound out our weakness,

To pound in our dedication,

To pound out non-essentials,

To pound in our focus,

To pound out dead weight,

To pound in muscle memory.

The true backstory of every success (“overnight” or not) is years of trial and error . . .

. . . effort on effort, and upset and defeat followed by persistence and consistency … all of which finally yield a win.

I’ve long said the most important attribute for any marketing campaign is consistency. You can blog once a day or once a year. If you stick to your schedule, people will accomodate whatever pattern you establish … if you stick to it. What doesn’t work is rush then stop. Publish then quit. Launch then disappear, only to relaunch with flare and pizzaz in 6 months quickly followed by flame-out, just as before.

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and 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 win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order (Mos 4:27).

This isn’t bad news.

Success isn’t in one-trick ponies or luck-of-the-draw rewards.

Success is in being adept at producing desirable results again and again, at will.

Success is in knowing “the wisdom and the order” of how things work, the present limits of your strength (your lactate threshold, for example).

Yes, part of success is arriving at the destination, a destination — of finishing or winning a race.

But grander elements of success are:

falling in love with getting there

knowing you can get there when you decide you want to

knowing what it takes to get there, how to command the elements and the circumstances to combine and align in getting you there

in other words, knowing how to get there again, on command … without assigning any piece of arrival to luck or chance

experiencing your personal capacity to do work every day, to conquer in the face of resistance, and to survive or even thrive in the face of calamity.

“Pound the rock” is a motto to succeed every day.

Between each sunrise and sunset, put.in.the.work.

99 of 100 blows of the hammer end with the rock uncracked.

In a darker moment, the uncracked rock may seem to laugh or scorn.

“What are you doing? Does your work even count? You’re not strong enough. You have the wrong tools. You can’t do this. You’re not making a difference at all. What a waste. Now this, what you’re doing, this is insanity!! You keep swinging, expecting me to crack. I’ll never crack. The outcome is the same. And always will be. Move on … move on to easier ground.”

It’s tricky.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, seeing no results, and expecting a different outcome.

Yet that definition is insufficient.

There are some tasks that are … a pound-the-rock scenario. A scenario where it just does take 99 repeated blows of no-difference-at-all results, which, when followed by the 100th WHAM! everything changes.

It may seem just one blow counted. One blow must have been different from the others. But no … all 99 changed the structure, strength and integrity of the rock until on the 100th it cracked. All 99 up to that point took mental grit and steadfastness and belief that the work was worth it.

I’m not a “good” runner.

I’m not “gifted” or a “natural.”

I don’t have lean thighs.

My VO2 max, when I’m not fully trained, is super average.

My calves are huge, the extra weight doesn’t help.

My calves also don’t connect high on my leg, so their biomechanical leverage is . . . average.

My knees rotate out and my tibia & fibula bow in to compensate, so some force from every step gets wasted in non-vertical, non-forward vectors.

My early years of swimming made my ankles super flexible, and early years of gymnastics trained them to act like absorbers; but great runners have stiffer ankles, trained to act like springs.

Yet my half marathon times keep coming down:

1:42:09 (7:47/mi) — 2008

1:40:26 (7:40/mi) — 2014

1:28:27 (6:45/mi) — 2015

1:24:35 (6:27/mi) — 2017

Why is that?

Because I pound the rock.

There’s nothing special about me.

Sure, I’m learning better form. As I pound the rock.

Sure, I’m in overall better shape … because I pound the rock.

Sure, I’m more flexible and less prone to injury … because I pound the rock (and rollll out, thanks TriggerPoint!).

Sure, I have better run gear and better workout routines … because I pound the rock.

I just pound the rock.

And anyone can pound the rock.

This much about life seems so simple and clear: when you work hard under the direction of people who understand the mechanics of how things work, you get results.

That’s why I put “Pound the rock” everywhere.

To remind myself of, and to stand for, the ethic of putting in the work.

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground” (Gen 3:19).

“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal 6:7-8).

Mastery thru repetition.

Affinity through consistency.

Results from no work are empty gains.

Dreams with no work are naught but wishes.

Gains from shortcuts are, eternally speaking, hollow.

Unearned upsides can be wonderful blessings and grace from heaven, but if converted in my mind and heart to expectations or views that “I don’t have to work because good things simply come my way” or “I will succeed because I am deserving of success” … those attitudes diminish my soul and others’.

Which brings me to another reminder baked into those three words:

To touch base, to make contact with, The Rock … every day. That rock being the “lowercase” rock of revelation and the “uppercase” Rock of Revelation who is Jesus Christ.

To meekly remember I am able from the gift of choice.

To meekly remember I am forgiven and cleansed from His gift of mercy.

To meekly remember I am empowered beyond my natural strength by His gift of grace.

So . . . I pound the rock.

By |2022-05-22T21:13:56-06:00January 3rd, 2018|Faith, General Life, Marketing, Triathlon|1 Comment

Are we related? We could be cousins . . .

Are we related? Over Thanksgiving I found out I’m related to 12 of the 102 Mayflower passengers (5 directly), so if you have any connections there chances are good we could be cousins.

Are we related? We could be cousins.

How did I find this out?

www.RelativeFinder.org

Join my group and lets find an answer to the question “Are we related?”

The password is my first and last name together (this website without the ‘www’ and ‘.com’) — all lowercase, no spaces.

Even if we aren’t related, Relative Finder will show you if you’re related to a large basket of famous authors & poets, saints and popes, composers, entertainers, movie stars, sports figures, U.S. Presidents and their families, signers of The U.S. Constitution, signers of The Declaration of Independence, European royalty, scientists and technologists, and more.

FYI, if you’re a family history / genealogy noob . . . “3rd cousins twice removed” explained:

Your first cousins are the children of your parents’ siblings, i.e. your aunts & uncles’ kids. First cousins because you are the first generation down from the sibling connection.

Your second cousins are the kids of your parents’ cousins, or your grandparents’ siblings’ grandkids. Second cousins because you are two generations away from the sibling connection.

Now, your second cousins’ kids, what are they? Your second cousins, once removed. “Removed” just means however many generations down the ladder on either side. The smallest number of generation lines to the sibling connection is the “___ cousin” and the “___ removed” counts the rest.

So when my second cousins’ kids have kids … they will be my second cousins twice removed.

My Grandpa Doug‘s line goes way back to early U.S. colonial days so I’ve got some cool connections, a lot of which are through him. People including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Emerson, Thoreau, Steinbeck, Elvis, Harry Truman, Jefferson, the Bushes, Johnny Carson, Carrie Fisher . . . lots of people.

Pretty cool to find these things out.

If you need a hand getting into the group or set up with anything, post a comment.

Have fun, cuz.

By |2021-12-13T14:21:22-07:00November 26th, 2017|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Metabolizing Anxiety: Highlights from Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist (Ep 20)

If the mere mention of Ask a Mormon Sex Therapist in my bio hasn’t prompted you to listen, maybe these selections on metabolizing anxiety will.

Btw, these interviews are all Q&A based — usually two Qs per episode, this one has three. To get the backdrop on this metabolizing anxiety conversation, jump to the start of the third question and Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife’s answer at @ 22:00.

What follows are loose transcripts from the episode. I cut “you knows,” “I thinks,” and so on, and added content (in parentheses) that I believe accurately connects allusions to previously mentioned ideas so that it’s easier for you to follow the excerpts.

 

@ 34:33 – Giving people space to grow

To tolerate the discomfort of another’s discomfort is part of what it is to actually give people the space that they need to really grow, and to manage your own anxiety.

 

@ 35:59 – Metabolizing Anxiety

If you’re going to actually grow, you have to metabolize more anxiety within yourself and not use the people around you to manage what is your work, or what is your job, or what is your responsibility.

What is of virtue is to take 100% responsibility for exactly what your responsibility is — in a marriage, or in a family, or in any group — and 0% responsibility for what isn’t your responsibility.

That sounds very selfish, but that’s actually one of the most virtuous things you can do: to really do what your job is in any situation.

It also frees up other people to grow in the ways that they need to grow.

When we get in trouble is when we rush in to kind of get anxiety to go down in the moment, but then we stabilize and mature our destructive patterns.

The virtue in creating goodness is tolerating difficulty up front. That’s what sacrifice is: you take your difficulty up front to create something better ultimately.

It’s against our human nature (to do that, to sacrifice, to tolerate difficulty up front) — it’s natural man to not to do it (to avoid difficulty up front, escaping to an easier path). But what creates goodness and godliness is doing that (tolerating difficulty now).

 

@ 40:15 – When’s the time for metabolizing anxiety?

It’s when you’re having a hard conversation, and they’re pushing on those buttons on you that you like to react to, that you get all self-righteous about.

Instead of getting self-righteous and reacting, you calm yourself down and you stay constructive. That’s what I’m talking about in the “real time”: that you don’t (use) your losing strategies, which are the reactive things we do that feel good in the moment but that keep suffering alive.

You have to really track what it is you do (habitually) so that you can push yourself to do the better thing in the face of a lot of pressure to do the thing that’s familiar. (Catching yourself before you do the familiar thing) is what development is all about.

 

@ 42:56 – The effect of metabolizing anxiety

When you step into new action, or action that’s driven by a sense of what you believe is right, even if it’s hard, you literally expand your capacity as a person, and you expand your sense of self.

 

@ 43:52 – Metabolizing anxiety includes not doing the familiar thing to get validation

Many of us prefer to kind of just do and deal with the (familiar) things that (have, in the past, managed to get us) validation from the other person, and so we constrict our relationships (to doing just those things, even if they are losing strategies that perpetuate suffering) to our detriment.

We have to work against that natural-man tendency.

 

Ask A Mormon Sex Therapist is a sub series of the Rational Faiths podcast.

Have a listen.

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Metabolizing Anxiety

Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife

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By |2021-01-15T15:37:22-07:00August 31st, 2017|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Neal A Maxwell: A Complete Chronology of His Talks and Speeches

In mid 2016, I read a book by Neal A Maxwell. Shortly after, I embarked on listening to his entire BYU Speeches archive, in chronological order.

I listened to many of these talks while making the long drive from Salt Lake to Heber City. At the time I was seeing someone who lived in Heber, and each time we made plans to get together I looked forward as much to her company as I did to the drive from my home in Millcreek, up Parley’s Canyon, past Park City and back down into the neighboring valley — my quiet, private time with Neal. The drive being an hour each way, I listened to one talk there and another on the way home.

In 2017, I started listening to the entire archive of his General Conference talks.

His perspectives certainly colored this piece I wrote, where I included just one of his golden nuggets.

I thought I’d put together all the speeches and talks of this man who seemed so well to maintain proper perspective for all life’s experience. For as he once said, “This world is not the one we are preparing for.”

The first book I read was We Will Prove Them Herewith. I think it’s out of print, but you can find it on Amazon.

Will update this with all of his Ensign articles, books, etc. I have a book that isn’t on the Wikipedia books list, so I think it will take some work.

I also recommend his biography, A Disciple’s Life: The Biography of Neal A Maxwell, which I finished fall 2017.

Neal A Maxwell - A Disciple's Life

From the Life of Neal A Maxwell

b. Jul. 6, 1926

1970 – Appointed Commissioner of Church Education

1970 – Feb. 23 – Spiritual Ecology – BYU/CES

1971 – Oct. 23 – Mormon Milieu – BYU/CES

1972 – A Time to Choose – Deseret Book

1972 – Apr. 27 – Freedom: A “Hard Doctrine” – BYU/CES

1974 – Jan. 15 – Family Perspectives – BYU/CES

1974 – Apr. 6 – Called as Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

1974 – Apr. – Response to a Call – LDS General Conference

1974 – Sep. 1 – But for a Small Moment – BYU/CES

1974 – Oct. – Why Not Now? – LDS General Conference

1975 – Apr. – The Man of Christ – LDS General Conference

1976 – Jan. 4 – Taking up the Cross – BYU/CES

1976 – Apr. – “Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King” – LDS General Conference

1976 – Oct. 1 – Called to the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy

1976 – Oct. – Notwithstanding My Weakness – LDS General Conference

1976 – Oct. 26 – Insights from My Life – BYU/CES

1977 – Nov. 8 – All Hell Is Moved – BYU/CES

1978 – Feb. – The Gospel Gives Answers to Life’s Problems – Ensign/Liahona

1978 – Apr. – The Women of God – LDS General Conference

1978 – Oct. 10 – Meeting the Challenges of Today – BYU/CES

1979 – Nov. 27 – Patience – BYU/CES

1980 – Apr. 21 – In This Time of Complexity and Challenge – BYU/CES

1980 – Oct. – The Net Gathers of Every Kind – LDS General Conference

1980 – Oct. 7 – True Believers in Christ – BYU/CES

1981 – Jul. 23 – Called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

1981 – Sep. 15 – Grounded, Rooted, Established, and Settled (Ephesians 3:17, 1 Peter 5:10) – BYU/CES

1981 – Oct. – “O, Divine Redeemer” – LDS General Conference

1982 – Apr. – “A Brother Offended” – LDS General Conference

1982 – Sep. 5 – Meekly Drenched in Destiny – BYU/CES

1982 – Oct. – “Be of Good Cheer” – LDS General Conference

1983 – Feb. 18 – Try the Virtue of the Word of God – BYU/CES

1983 – Apr. – “Shine As Lights in the World” – LDS General Conference

1983 – Oct. – Joseph, the Seer – LDS General Conference

1984 – Apr. – The Great Plan of the Eternal God – LDS General Conference

1984 – Oct. – “Out of Obscurity” – LDS General Conference

1984 – Dec. 4 – If Thou Endure Well – BYU/CES

1985 – Apr. – “Willing to Submit” – LDS General Conference

1985 – Oct. – Premortality, a Glorious Reality – LDS General Conference

1986 – Feb. 7 – Good and Evil Spoken of Among All People – BYU Management Society

  • Address given at a dinner event of the BYU Management Society, Washington, D.C. Chapter.
  • Only exists as two print copies — no known recording or transcript. Print copies on file at HBLL Special Collections – Americana Collection, BX 8608 .A1 no.2968.

1986 – Mar. 30 – Joseph Smith: “A Choice Seer” – BYU/CES

1986 – Apr. – “Called and Prepared from the Foundation of the World” – LDS General Conference

1986 – Oct. – “God Will Yet Reveal” – LDS General Conference

1986 – Oct. 11 – Great Answers to the Great Question – BYU/CES

1986 – Oct. 21 – “Meek and Lowly” – BYU/CES

1987 – Apr. – “Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame” – LDS General Conference

1987 – Oct. – “Yet Thou Art There” – LDS General Conference

1988 – Apr. – “For I Will Lead You Along” – LDS General Conference

1988 – Oct. – “Answer Me” – LDS General Conference

1989 – Mar. 26 – “A Wonderful Flood of Light” – BYU/CES

1989 – Apr. – Irony: The Crust on the Bread of Adversity – LDS General Conference

1989 – Oct. – “Murmur Not” – LDS General Conference

1990 – Feb. 4 – The Children of Christ – BYU/CES

1990 – Apr. – “Endure It Well” – LDS General Conference

1990 – Oct. – Put Off the Natural Man, and Come Off Conqueror – LDS General Conference

1991 – Mar. 31 – “In Him All Things Hold Together” – BYU/CES

1991 – Apr. – “Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds” – LDS General Conference

1991 – Sep. 27 – On Consecration, Scholarship, and the Defense of the Kingdom (pp 12-21 in the PDF, printed as pages x-xix) – FARMS

  • The version linked to above is the transcription Daniel C. Peterson published in the Interpreter in 2003. Peterson got the transcription from Matthew Roper, who was present and recorded the speech, and then transcribed it on 5 October 1991, slightly more than a week after the event. As far as anyone knows, that recording (and no others) exist.
  • This speech is more commonly known by the title “Discipleship and Scholarship,” under which it was published in condensed and polished form by BYU Studies in 1992.
  • That he would speak at the FARMS annual banquet in the Wilkinson Student Center at BYU is reported in the Sep 1991 FARMS newsletter, INSIGHTS, page 5.

1991 – Oct. – Repentance – LDS General Conference

1992 – Apr. – “My Servant Joseph” – LDS General Conference

1992 – Aug. 18 – The Inexhaustible Gospel – BYU/CES

1992 – Oct. – “Settle This in Your Hearts” – LDS General Conference

1993 – Apr. – “Behold, the Enemy Is Combined” (D&C 38:12) – LDS General Conference

1993 – Jul. 4 – Provo 1993 Freedom Festival Fireside – BYU/CES

1993 – Aug. 25 – Wisdom and Order – BYU/CES

1993 – Aug. 26 – Out of the Best Faculty – BYU/CES

1993 – Oct. – “From the Beginning” – LDS General Conference

1994 – Mar. 27 – “Called to Serve” – BYU/CES

1994 – Apr. – “Take Especial Care of Your Family” – LDS General Conference

1994 – Oct. – “Brightness of Hope” – LDS General Conference

1995 – Apr. – “Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness” – LDS General Conference

1995 – Oct. – “Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father” – LDS General Conference

1996 – Jan. 23 – “Brim with Joy” – BYU/CES

1996 – Apr. – “Becometh As a Child” – LDS General Conference

1996 – Oct. – “According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts” – LDS General Conference

1997 – Apr. – “From Whom All Blessings Flow” – LDS General Conference

1997 – Oct. – “Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ” – LDS General Conference

1998 – Jan. 4 – The Pathway of Discipleship – BYU/CES

1998 – Apr. – “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel” – LDS General Conference

1998 – Oct. – Hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ – LDS General Conference

1999 – Jan. 12 – Sharing Insights from My Life – BYU/CES

1999 – Apr. – “Repent of [Our] Selfishness” (D&C 56:8) – LDS General Conference

1999 – Oct. – Lessons from Laman and Lemuel – LDS General Conference

2000 – Feb. – Jesus, the Perfect Mentor – BYU/CES

2000 – Apr. – Content with the Things Allotted unto Us – LDS General Conference

2000 – Oct. – The Tugs and Pulls of the World – LDS General Conference

2001 – Apr. – “Plow in Hope” – LDS General Conference

2001 – Oct. – The Seventh Commandment:A Shield – LDS General Conference

2002 – Apr. – Consecrate Thy Performance – LDS General Conference

2002 – Oct. – Encircled in the Arms of His Love – LDS General Conference

2003 – Apr. – Care for the Life of the Soul – LDS General Conference

2003 – Oct. – How Choice a Seer! – LDS General Conference

2004 – Mar. 16 – “Free to Choose” – BYU/CES

2004 – Apr. – Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been – LDS General Conference

d. July 21, 2004

Neal A Maxwell: A Man with Perspective

Sources:

BYU Speeches by Neal A Maxwell

LDS General Conference Archive of Neal A Maxwell

More Interesting Neal A Maxwell Resources:

Maxwell Bibliography. An on-going project by Tyler Snow. Elder Maxwell’s lifetime cited works, grouped into Books, JD, HC and CHC, and then sorted by frequency of citations.

From “A” to “Z”: A is for Alliteration, Z is for Zion. By Don Duncan. 1997. (Working on converting this to a spreadsheet format.)

By |2022-09-26T20:30:35-06:00June 29th, 2017|Faith|54 Comments