• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Thursday, December 24, 2015


 Our old copy of Dickens Christmas Carol
Loved to pieces (published before copyright dates were  inscribed)

We found a lighted Christmas ornament this year, with the reformed Scrooge from Dickens’ Christmas Carol coming into the Cratchit home with Tiny Tim on his shoulder.

Ornament Inscription on back:
          “It was always said of him
            that he knew how to keep Christmas well,
            if any man alive possessed the knowledge.
           May that truly be said of us, and all of us.”

As David read again Dicken’s wonderful work, "A Christmas Carol," part of Scrooge’s conversation with the Ghost of Christmas Present captured his attention.

The Spirit of Christmas Present had been sprinkling the groceries of passersby with his torch.

     “Is there a particular flavor in what you sprinkle from your torch?”
       asked Scrooge.

     “There is. My own.”

     “Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day?” asked Scrooge.

     “To any kindly given. To a poor one most.”

     “Why to a poor one most?” asked Scrooge.

     “Because it needs it most.”

When Scrooge journeyed forth with the Ghost of Christmas Past he expressed his fear of falling – being mortal.

The Spirit of Christmas Past touched his heart saying, “Bear but a touch of my hand there and you shall be upheld in more than this.”

The Ghost of Christmas Present bid him, “Touch my robe and hold it fast.”

After being transformed by these two spirits, and after being shown the headstone of his own grave, Scrooge, as Jacob in the 32nd chapter of Genesis, wrestled with the future. “In agony he caught the spectral hand. It sought to free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it….”

May we lay hold of the Spirit of Christmas and thereby master our Christmases yet to come.

Love the Ames

Monday, December 21, 2015


Today Church featured hymns chosen by the Ward Council with short readings between each musical number. It is one of my all time favorite Christmas Programs - ever. Thank you Bishop Dax Wells and everyone else that contributed.

One of my earliest memories is singing with my family.

We would gather together and sing, just to sing,
especially near Christmas.

The songs and carols of the Christmas season always lift my heart.

Please join us.

12:00 a.m. O Come All Ye Faithful.

This unique version shows how people who worship at Westminster Abbey rejoice in the joy of the Savior's birth. Although the words they sing are not common in popular music, we can nevertheless follow their words and hearts toward Jesus Christ.

Westminster Abby, a large Gothic cathedral in England, was founded in 960 A.D., and is steeped with history.

Many of our ancestors are from Britain, and specifically from the London areas of Britain. What was worship at Christmas time like for those that have seen and walked near or in this building?

3:00 a.m.

O Little Town of Bethlehem 

Some religions believe they know the actual site of the birth of Jesus Christ.

14 pointed silver star marks place believed to be site of the birth of Jesus Christ.
 "Jesus birthplace in Bethlehem" by DE.MOLAI -
Originally uploaded on the Italian Wikipedia. 
Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

The Church of the Nativity,located in Bethlehem, is a World Heritage Site.

This link provides a virtual tour of the site first identified in the mid-second century by Justin Martyr.

6:00 a.m.

Away in A Manger

What were his grandparents like?
1. Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
The stars in the heavens looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

2. The cattle are lowing; the poor baby wakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

3. Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.

Text: Anon., ca. 1883, Philadelphia
Music: William J. Kirkpatrick, 1838-1921;

harmonized by Rosalee Elser,1925-2007. (c) 1980 Rosalee Elser.

9:00 a.m.
Stars Were Gleaming

1. Stars were gleaming, shepherds dreaming;
And the night was dark and chill.
Angels' story rang with glory;
Shepherds heard it on the hill.
Ah, that singing! Hear it ringing,
Earthward winging, Christmas bringing!
Hearken! We can hear it still!

2. See the clearness and the nearness
Of the blessed Christmas star,
Leading, guiding; wise men riding
Through the desert dark and far.
Lovely showing, shining, growing,
Onward going, gleaming, glowing,
Leading still, our Christmas star!

Music: Polish carol; arr. by Darwin Wolford, b. 1936

Words (c) 1930 by Presbyterian Board of Christian Education; renewed 1958; from Hymns for Primary Worship. Used by permission of Westminster/John Knox Press. Arr. (c) 1989 IRI.

12:00 noon

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night

Oh Yeah! watch these sheep - we should follow the shepherd, AND - unlike these sheep, we should think for ourselves so we can receive inspiration and personal revelation suited to our stewardships and needs.

I truly love this depiction of the angels coming to shepherds by night.

1. While shepherds watch'd their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around.
"Fear not," said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled mind;
"Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind."

2. "To you, in David's town this day,
Is born of David's line
The Savior who is Christ the Lord,
And this shall be the sign:
The heav'nly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
And in a manger laid."

3. Thus spake the seraph, and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God, who thus
Addressed their joyful song:
"All glory be to God on high
And on the earth be peace.
Goodwill henceforth from heav'n to men
Begin and never cease."

Text: Nahum Tate, 1652-1715; based on Luke 2:8-14
Music: Yorkshire carol, ca. 1800

Glow in the Dark Angel 2013 tree

3:00 p.m.

Angels We Have Heard on High

played by The Piano Guys

1. Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

2. Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heav'nly song?

3. Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

Text: French carol, ca. 1862

Music: French carol

6:00 p.m.

Joy to the World

Dancing Snow Couple ornament 2013

What makes you dance with JOY? And sing hallelujah?
Here's another wonderful version of Joy to the World

9:00 p.m.

With Wondering Awe

The human voice is an instrument of wonder. I love barbershop. Sing like that at my funeral, eh?

My favorite 3 wisemen. 
And this rendition is worth every second of the 4:40 minutes. 


1. With wond'ring awe the wisemen saw
The star in heaven springing,
And with delight, in peaceful night,
They heard the angels singing:

Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to his name!

2. By light of star they traveled far
To seek the lowly manger,
A humble bed wherein was laid
The wondrous little Stranger.

3. And still is found, the world around,
The old and hallowed story,
And still is sung in ev'ry tongue
The angels' song of glory:

4. The heav'nly star its rays afar
On ev'ry land is throwing,
And shall not cease till holy peace
In all the earth is growing.

Text and music: Anon., Laudis Corona, Boston, 1885

The Holy Night, by Carl Heinrich Bloch

12:00 midnight

Silent Night


1. Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace;
Sleep in heavenly peace.

2. Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight!
Glories stream from heaven afar;
Heav'nly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!

3. Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth;
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Text: Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848; trans. by John F. Young, 1820-1885
Music: Franz Gruber, 1787-1863

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


In accounting class this week we are asked to explain success and post a business motto.

The assignment states,

"Topic Lesson 10 (Chapter 11):

Many companies have mission statements that outline their values and objectives. They describe desires to provide the best service or products possible, to do so in a competent and trustworthy manner, to provide a superior value to customers, and so forth. Most often, these mission statements are framed nicely and hung in the reception area of the company’s headquarters where they do little more than provide an attractive decoration on the wall.

The 13th Article of Faith states: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

Consider this as a personal mission statement for your career or business dealings. Ponder various aspects and post your thoughts about how it could make you more successful or prosperous. How do you define success?

What are the strengths of the 13th Article of Faith as a mission statement for your occupation? What are its limitations? If you were to write your own mission statement, what would it say?

I answered:

The 13th Article of Faith would look terrific done in word art or calligraphy in the popular styles of today.

For example it could be cleverly arranged in groups of vinyl word phrases as a focal wall in the reception area. I think it would be a business draw—perhaps a bit ‘in your face,’ but why not?

It would make a bold declaration to anyone and everyone regarding personal morals, and the kind of integrity expected of and in the company and of its employees, as well its expectation of its customers. Believing in the good in people encourages them to exemplify the good they know is expected of them.

What would you think if you walked into an office and this was wall sized staring back at you?

Artsy people can make my 5 minute image fantastic and arrange it to fit any size and shape of wall but I imagined it down a tall narrow wall, mostly useless for anything else except just being an element of architecture.

This mission statement would turn that spot into a business proposition and conversation piece. It might even become a draw. The limitations of any motto or statement involve the people implementing the goals of the statement. The things that motivate an individual, and the effort he or she is willing to expend in pursuing any specific accomplishment defines the parameters of success or failure.

My personal motto would be Elder Dube’s (of the Seventy) October 2013 instruction,
“Look Ahead, and Believe.” We must always be aware of and looking toward the future, while believing the best and working toward it.

Some definitions of success mean to finish something perfectly or completely. Success for me personally is making my best effort (but as President Hinckley quipped it has to be “my very best”) to complete a particular goal or assignment.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Sometimes I think.

Just that.

I think about everything, and anything - even thinking - and I know I am thinking.

Other times I have thoughts.
Sometimes I wonder about such thoughts.

I recognize they are not inherently mine.

Some thoughts comfort and give hope, courage, and power to act or accomplish many good things.

Other thoughts cause despair. They bring hopeless feelings, or even a wish to cease to exist. I feel without value, purpose, or significance. These thoughts indicate I am without importance.

Recently, I avoided serious contention and conflict with a loved one. I was pleased. A calm stillness and quiet, akin to nothingness, lifted away unresolved cares and concerns.

Later on a thought came so strongly to my mind that I can only describe it as a voice. The voice stayed with me a long time, and berated every human fallibility I experienced.

When I stumbled I thought, “I’m so clumsy.”
When I dropped a spot of juice on my shirt I thought, “You're so sloppy.”

At lunch I spilled some salsa on a worksheet. I was shocked to hear, “You are such a pig, a disgusting pig!”

Suddenly, I recognized something important.
That voice was not me.
I never call anyone a pig, much less a disgusting pig.

I began to think – and ponder.
I began to think about my thoughts, and that voice.


It is the voice I hear when I am in despair.

I also recognized that this incident is not an isolated occurrence.
This is the same voice that fosters pride and fear, discouragement and addictions, but at the same instant condemns every such leaning.

There is opposition in all things. There are forces for light and good, and forces of darkness against good. The spirits that want to damage and destroy all, in every miserable way possible, would love to be welcomed into mind and heart and invited to stay. When peace supersedes contention; anytime conflict is avoided, dropped, or stopped so are those forces. 

I thought about the thoughts; those voices I hear.

Too often I have internalized and personalized a voice.

This time the voice was so foreign that I didn’t think “I am a pig.” I don’t call anyone a pig—especially not myself. (Then I recalled a few times recently when I had randomly ‘thought’ (and rejected) that about someone. How sneaky! That voice is downright sneaky!

Jeffery R. Holland humorously suggested, “Like thieves in the night, unwelcome thoughts can and do seek entrance to our minds. But we don’t have to throw open the door, serve them tea and crumpets, and then tell them where the silverware is kept! . . . Throw the rascals out!”

Many struggle with the type of “dark night of the mind and spirit” that Elder Jeffery R. Holland described in his October 2013 General Conference talk “Like a Broken Vessel.” These things can immobilize and debilitate if allowed to linger. Thankfully lingering is not necessary and the spirit can rule the flesh.

I choose what to think, what to say, and how to act.

Attitude is everything.

Thoughts that come to mind need to be filtered. Thoughts need a security screen the same way a computer requires an anti-virus program. Kindness—to self and others—is a security screen for thoughts.

Kindness immediately rejects and casts aside every intimation of every thought that is not kind.

Simple, sincere kindness to all around us always includes ourselves—much like being in an emergency in a plane and needing our own O2 mask before attempting to help anyone else. Without vital oxygen—as vital as kindness for self—breathing and living becomes increasingly difficult; an abundance of either increasingly simplifies breathing and living. 

There are things that help “move along” thoughts and prevent us from hurting self or others. The first and most significant is service. Spencer W. Kimball, twelfth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught that when we feel like there isn’t much of self to find, that we can immediately find more of the essence of our self in service.

Serving others also fosters connections to others. Being appropriately connected to others is one of the most influential ways to protect anyone from trials or abuse of all kinds, whether within or without the family and home. When we are connected lovingly to others we know they are concerned for us and we are more concerned for them.

Connections help foster kindness, patience, and a host of other virtues that help us think and focus on respecting needs of others as well as ourselves.

Elder Holland instructs, “Cultivate and be where the Spirit of the Lord is. Make sure that includes your own home or apartment, dictating the kind of art, music, and literature you keep there. If you are endowed, go to the temple as often as your circumstances allow."

 [And if you are not endowed you can go sit quietly near the temple and feel its influence and power.]

Elder Holland continues, "Remember that the temple arms you ‘with [God’s] power, … [puts His] glory … round about [you], and [gives His] angels … charge over [you]’ (D&C 109:22).  And when you leave the temple, remember the symbols you take with you, never to be set aside or forgotten” (Oct 2013, Like a Broken Vessel).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


The Vietnam war is so highly controversial that even yet many veterans of that war are seldom honored. In 1982 a memorial to those that served their country in that war was erected in Washington D.C. It has become a cultural icon.

1982 dedication of Vietnam War Memorial

 History and its ongoing documentation diverges, sometimes does not perfectly agree as it evolves, and is readily found.

We choose to remember and honor the men and women patriots that made difficult choices in a difficult time, though historical controversy continues.

Ken Shelton circa 1967

One of those men, is Papa's first cousin Ken, the son of a brother (Herman) of Papa's mother, Katherine Shelton Ames. The Shelton family sent several cousins to Vietnam.

Ken's brother Dan Shelton served in the Air-force. Although he did not see active fighting he was transferred many places including Texas and Japan.
Robert (Bobby) Shelton,Third Class Ordnanceman front row: 2nd from left.
Taken at aircraft maintenance area (Sangley Point, PI) circa: early 1960s.
VNVP-40 Crew 3 flying P5M Marlin Seaplanes out of Sangley Point, PI,
Conson Island, VN, Kamron Bay, VN and the waters off Danang, VN

Their cousin Bobby Shelton served in the US Navy. He is the son of another brother to Katherine Shelton Ames, Gibb. Gibb was a World War II hero.
Robert Lee Shelton

We honor them all, but today we focus our gratitude toward Ken Shelton.

At Papa's request Ken agreed to be the subject for this 'guest post,' and came for lunch yesterday. Papa's transcription follows. Although Ken did share some of the atrocities and horrors of war we decided to not honor those. This is not to minimize in any way the magnitude of those events. Our choice is instead to focus on and honor Ken's resilience and enduring fortitude. Thank you Cousin Ken for your military service.

Many thanks to Ken's daughter Rachel, and his sister Patricia (Mike) Erdmann, for providing some pictures.
Papa: "I used to enjoy visiting my cousin Ken [Shelton] and listen to him tell stories about being a cook in the army. I called him up the other day and he agreed to come over and tell me some more stories. Some of the stories emphasize that war is a dangerous place to be and that soldiers have hard job to do. I appreciate hearing those stories. I thanked him for living through them. He also told me some stories which were a bit more humorous – stories which should be shared: 
The Fastest Bread-Cutter in the World
"Cousin Ken tells that in Vietnam the army had bakeries which would send bread out to the soldiers. The bread wasn’t sliced when they got it, 'so you had to slice all bread by hand.' It came in two foot long loaves. Ken claims that at home he cut bread so poorly that he would get in trouble for the way he did it. He could cut it no better in the army. The loaves had to be cut into army regulation half inch slices.

"His commander gave him the assignment to slice bread for 150 soldiers. Kens explained that he couldn’t cut bread but the commander told him that he was going to slice bread.
"Ken did slice the bread. It took him 3 hours. His commander came to him saying that the other cooks had reported that he had not helped cook at all. 'Well, I was slicing bread; I told you I couldn’t cut bread' 

“'Well, you will cut bread until you know how.'
"Ken returned to the task of cutting bread. While cutting he stopped and considered, 'Maybe it’s the knife.' He sharpened the knife so that 'it was so sharp it could slice through anything. It was so sharp I could shave with it.' He also reshaped it. With the sharpened, reshaped knife – and practice, he was finally able to slice bread for 150 men in six and a half minutes—the same amount of bread that had taken him 3 hours on the first try.

"After that, when Ken was cutting bread men would stop to watch. One day he saw the LDS chaplain (or non-denominational chaplain who happened to be LDS)* watching him. 'What are you doing here?' Ken asked. 

"'I came to watch you cut bread. They told me you were the fastest and it is true. You are the fastest bread cutter in the world.'

Ken Shelton 1967

Lighting the Stove.

"Cooking had its own challenges. Ken would get up at 3 am and prepared breakfast in the dark. He fueled up and pressurized the burners for the stove from the truck's compressors. When the burner was ready he stacked 5-gallon water cans two high around his stove and then he would lie on the ground to light the burner. The bright flash of yellow light from the flame could be seen for miles. He stayed on the ground until the flames got hotter and turned blue, then stuck the burner in the stove and started cooking biscuits. He says, 'Sometimes the men got biscuits for breakfast.' Ken explains that the blue light cannot be seen very far and he was safe until the sun started coming up and made a silhouette of him. It was usually at that time of day he would be shot at. Sometimes the enemy would shoot at him a couple times in a day, sometimes only once in a couple days.

"A fellow soldier, on the last day of his tour, was concerned that Ken had become too used to getting shot at. They were sitting on a water can talking. There were a bunch of 'four duces' (4.2 inch mortars) right behind his mess tent. 'They all fired in unison so you had no warning.... When those four duces went off his feet went about six inches off the ground.'

Vietnam era mortar

"Ken says when he settled down the soldier said, 'Oh that makes me really sad.' 

 “'Why's that?' asked Ken.  

“'Cause you’re not going to make it.  You didn’t even flinch.'  

“'That was outgoing,' explained Ken. 'When it’s incoming you've never seen anyone move as fast in your life as I’m going to move.”
“'No, you’re not going to make it,' answered the soldier.

"Later that night they were sitting on top of the captain’s bunker watching an air to ground fire fight on the next hill.  There were about seven helicopters in the air.  Ken said it was beautiful to see the tracer rounds going up and coming down.   He says, 'Immediately below this hill we were looking as a sniper shot at us…. We saw all the tracer rounds come out of his gun…. As soon as I saw the tracer rounds coming out of that guy’s barrel I started to roll to the left and down.'  He was already lying on the ground as a bullet went past the other soldier's head.   He landed on the ground next to Ken.  As soon as the adrenaline settled down enough for him to talk Ken asked, 'was that fast enough for ya’?'

“'I think you’re going to make it,' the other soldier replied.

"I guess he did.
"Thanks cousin.  You’re a hero!"

* The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) provides many resources to its members in military organizations. In May 2003 President Gordon B Hinckley provided counsel, comfort, and guidance to members about military service, in his talk "War and Peace." 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Spider Rain


I have never been a fan of spiders.

Spiders are my least favorite part of where I live.

Therefore, image how I feel when late afternoon sun reveals how many live on my lawn! Now stop.

 Go ahead. Click the picture, enlarge so you can look closely.

I don't want anyone to be traumatized.
As for me, well - I don't even want to leave my house.
If there are this many spinning spiders outside, why go out?
And you can only see them when the sun is just so!

However, I now have seen what's out there.

With my own eyes.

And it is NOT in one spot only.

It is everywhere!!

Indeed, I have known fall is when spiders fly: kiting is what I have heard it called. It is also when their webs dangle from every upright. Sometimes when you walk outside you will cross a fine web and feel it brush your face or hand. USUALLY it is just a strand of web here or there. This time my entire yard has a sheen almost like a very light blanket. I've never before seen this with my own eyes. Thanks Papa for the picture.

It is actually called ballooning, and is common enough that the poet Walt Whitman wrote a poem about it. A few web searches (no pun intended) led me to this fascinating video describing the process. It mentions it often occurs with a change in the weather. Yes, our weather changed. We are almost always dry, and we had slight rains.

I tolerate rain decently.

 'Spider rain' is, however, entirely different.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015



I heard what you said.

You, the woman standing 5 feet on my right in the narrow store aisle, talking to the woman 10 feet to my left blocking the end of the same aisle with her cart and 2 kids.

You also had a child with you.
She clung tightly to your hand.

I couldn't help hearing you.
You were loud!

I quote, "I see you're stuck too." I looked. She didn't look stuck or unhappy to me. "I'm stuck with bringing her with me. I couldn't get rid of her. The other kids are at school, but I'm stuck with her. I just couldn't get rid of her."

How did that clinging child feel?

I was talking to my mother last night. I asked her if getting married or having kids was a big change for her. She told me how she loved to go babysitting when she was young because she loved kids so much. I don't think she ever felt 'stuck.'

Jean Campbell about age 17
with children she helped care for.

Mom said they both had their work and they just kept on working after they were married so not much was different except they could be together. Her work was helping to care for a family with children.

What changed was she could have her own children.

She said she loved having her kids, and it was something she always wanted. She also talked a lot about how she loved being with her kids - all of them - all 10 of us as well as a foster child that came to live with us during the school year when he was about 10 years old.

Jean Campbell Forsyth with her first 7 children abt 1958.
We were visiting her mother and this photo is taken in the front yard. 

Mom told me that every mother has their own way of caring for a child and every child needs their own unique care. She said she learned a lot from all the mothers she helped.

I thanked mother for never making me feel like a nuisance and for loving an ornery kid like me. She seemed genuinely surprised.

"I never though my kids were a nuisance! I never thought you were ornery,"she said. "I never thought any of my kids were ornery."

"I loved being with my kids."

Forsyth family about 1963

I think she did.
I never felt like an unwanted nuisance.
I never felt abused, or neglected, poor or underprivileged.

Amazing how she forgets all the stupidity of all of us.
 How she cherishes being a mother.

I think she has the key to parenting.
She knew the most basic of basic concepts.
She loved having kids, and being with kids.

Her husband and family were everything to her.

They are still.
I think they always will be.

Friday, October 16, 2015


16 October 2015

I am holding summer tightly as the fresh nights cool and slow the garden and yard. The porch pots trail long, and the roses out front burgeon in showy splendor. 

It hasn’t frozen yet, though leaves are turning and the Virginia Creeper over the fence is brilliant red.

This week has been busy: homework to hand in, produce to pick and preserve, appointments to endure, and meetings to manage. Autumn’s nostalgic cues trigger longings I don’t even begin to understand—yet they seem innate to my being and the season. I was born in October. 

Our background and environment (in the past as well as every day) clearly influence our life roles, our motives and decisions, and the way we interact with the world and people around us; even our aspirations and hopes. 

If I am a gardener I hope the frost holds off until the tomatoes are harvested, and, can I get just one more cucumber? 

I know the seasonal nuances that announce change, having learned them from my parents who learned them from their parents. They depended on the garden for food. Even if I never garden I still know the softness of the air preceding a snow. 

I have walked and worked with many knowing mentors. Precept and example taught what they valued; I heard their words and saw their choices.  

So it is with our families, our marriages, and our most cherished interpersonal relationships. The past, for generations, contributes culture and expectations. 

Some expectations are like Fall. We can’t even explain them—they are instinctively part of our intrinsic outlooks and attitudes. 

Are the attitudes good or bad? 

Usually neither, but agency and choices may turn them either way—to our benefit and joy or to our detriment, and that of the future.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ provides patterns of identity as sons and daughters of divine beings; a father and a mother with purpose and a plan for joy. 

Scriptures and living prophets outline ideals. 

And each of us finds our own way to arrive as near or far from those ideals as we wish. 

Increasing clamor to conform to more secular standards tests our sincerity. 

Will the next generation know their divine birthright?

Can we model and mentor? 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


My father often greets me with "Hello, beautiful."

Even when he can't see me.
I bet you've heard him answer the phone, "Hi good looking!"

And he means it. He sees all people as beautiful. He sees them each as a wonderful creation and child of God, an Eternal Father.

I have heard it so much that it has become second nature and habit.

Recently I said it, in an automatic kind of way, to a young adult. She asked me why I said that.

I was caught off guard. Why did I say it? Is it just a habit? Or do I believe it? She had recently delivered her first baby. I looked her straight in the eye and truthfully, with all the conviction of my heart replied, "Because you are."

I wish every child could know they are beautiful.
I wish every person might know how beautiful they are.

I am so grateful for the example of my loving parents.

My mother taught me that I can be happy the way I am.

She couldn't wear lipstick and other makeup. The few times she tried she got painful sores on her skin and mouth. She decided to never put it on again. She taught me that Heavenly Father made me the way I am and I should never be ashamed of the way I look.

She taught me to never do anything to myself and my body that hurts.

One day a child pushed on her ample stomach and rudely said, "Why are you so fat?"

She laughed and said, "Because I am happy."

I have thought of that many times since then. She WAS happy. And she didn't let what other people thought of her outward appearance keep her down for long. Sure she wanted others to see her beauty - don't we all? AND she set a powerful example of being happy the way she was.

My father often told her she was beautiful - and even more often he said, "hey good looking!

That can be said to anyone.

My choice parents have influenced my thoughts and habits.

Hey, good looking - you know you are - right?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Happy Dominion Day, fellow Canadians.

Here's a tiny bit of history  trivia courtesy of my daughter,  Kimber, AKA Mrs. Lybbert. This morning she composed a pop quiz for her Advandced Placement [AP] Conference classmates. She asked, “ What popular early twentieth century song, written by a teacher and quoting Tennyson, will be sung by millions of people today?

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

"O Canada" is the national anthem of Canada. The song was originally commissioned by Lieutenant Governor of Quebec Théodore Robitaille for the 1880 Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony; Calixa Lavallée composed the music, after which words were written by the poet and judge Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier (May 8, 1839 – June 27, 1920), whose occupation was lawyer, author, judge, and professor.

Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier was a Canadian judge, author, and lyricist . He wrote the lyrics of the original French version of the Canadian national anthem O Canada. He was born in Saint-Placide, Quebec, to Charles Routhier and Angélique Lafleur.

Official French

Ô Canada!
Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter l'épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

Translation of French:

O Canada!
Land of our forefathers,
Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers.
As is thy arm ready to wield the sword,
So also is it ready to carry the cross.
Thy history is an epic
Of the most brilliant exploits.
Thy valour steeped in faith
Will protect our homes and our rights.
Will protect our homes and our rights.

The lyrics were originally in French and an English version was created in 1906. Robert Stanley Weir wrote in 1908 another English version, which is the official and most popular version, one that is not a literal translation of the French. Weir's lyrics have been revised twice, taking their present form in 1980, but the French lyrics remain unaltered. "O Canada" had served as a de facto national anthem since 1939, officially becoming Canada's national anthem in 1980 when the Act of Parliament making it so received Royal Assent and became effective on July 1 as part of that year's Dominion Day celebrations.

It has been noted that the opening theme of "O Canada" bears a strong resemblance to the "March of the Priests" from the opera The Magic Flute, composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The line "The True North strong and free" is based on the Lord Tennyson's description of Canada as "that true North, whereof we lately heard / A strain to shame us". In the context of Tennyson's poem To the Queen, the word true means "loyal" or "faithful".

"To the Queen" Alfred Tennyson, 1809-1892

O LOYAL to the royal in thyself,
And loyal to thy land, as this to thee--
Bear witness, that rememberable day,
When, pale as yet, and fever-worn, the Prince
Who scarce had pluck'd his flickering life again
From halfway down the shadow of the grave,
Past with thee thro' thy people and their love,
And London roll'd one tide of joy thro'all
Her trebled millions, and loud leages of man
And welcome! witness, too, the silent cry,                10
The prayer of many a race and creed, and clime--
Thunderless lightnings striking under sea
From sunset and sunrise of all thy realm,
And that true North, whereof we lately heard
A strain to shame us 'keep you to yourselves;
So loyal is too costly! friends--your love
Is but a burthen: loose the bond, and go.'
Is this the tone of empire? here the faith
That made us rulers? this, indeed, her voice
And meaning, whom the roar of Hougoumont         20
Left mightiest of all peoples under heaven?
What shock has fool'd her since, that she should speak
So feebly? wealther--wealthier--hour by hour!
The voice of Britain, or a sinking land,
Some third-rate isle half-lost among her seas?
There rang her voice, when the full city peal'd
Thee and thy Prince! The loyal to their crown
Are loyal to their own far sons, who love
Our ocean-empire with her boundless homes
For ever-broadening England, and her throne          30
In our vast Orient, and one isle, one isle,
That knows not her own greatness: if she knows
And dreads it we are fall'n.--But thous, my Queen,
Not for itslef, but thro' thy living love
For one to whom I made it o'er his grave
Sacred, accept this old imperfect tale,
New-old, and shadowing Sense at war with Soul
Rather than that gray king, whose name, a ghost,
Streams like a cloud, man-shaped, from mountain peak,
And cleaves and cromlech still; or him                    40
Of Geoffrey's book, or him of Malleor's one
Touch'd by the adulterous finger of a time
That hover'd between war and wantonness,
And crownings and dethronements: take withal
Thy poet's blessing, and his trust that Heaven
Will blow the tempest in the distance back
From thine and ours: for some are scared, who mark,
Or wisely or unwisely, signs of storm,
Waverings of every vane with every wind,
And wordy trucklings to the transient hour,             50
And fierce or careless looseners of the faith,
And Softness breeding scorn of simple life,
Or Cowardice, the child of lust for gold,
Or Labour, with a groan and not a voice,
Or Art with poisonous honey stol'n from France,
And that which knows, but careful for itself
And that which knows not, ruling that which knows
To its own harm: the goal of this great world
Lies beyond sight: yet--if our slowly-grown
And crown'd Republic's crowning common-sense,   60
That saved her many times, not fail--their fears
Are morning shadows huger than the shapes
That cast them, not those gloomier which forego
The darkness of that battle in the West,
Where all of high and holy dies away.

from The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate (London: Kegan Paul, 1878).

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Happy Father's Day

Anyone need a whisker rub? He had the look long before it was a fad.
 ("Whisker rubs" were usually reserved for anyone being cranky.)
And look at that twinkle in his eye.
Dear Dad:

Naturally, although we have never seen you do it, you can walk on water - right? I mean, why "sink or swim" if you can "walk on water"? From you (and mother) we learned faith. When we have faith, and turn to the Savior, we can walk on water.

1991 Mission to Los Angles, California, building the "kingdom"

You were always building something, but I think the most important thing you ever built was a family. You are a solid foundation each one of your family depends upon.

Trailer built on rear axle and bed of an old truck

And with a good foundation, anything can be built, and when needed repaired.

Repairing spring horse,
 but there sure was a lot of teasing about looking like this pony dumped you. 
We watched you.
We learned if you get "bucked off" just try again.
You can always try again.

How many pancakes have you made over the years?
How high can we count?

And of course a pancake, made with 'Cackle Berries' and 'Moo-Juice' was a great way to start the day, once you were 'up-and-at 'em,' and had 'that mattress off your back.'

And most of the other important lessons of life we heard as you worked and sang about "Swingin' on a Star:" Set our sites on the stars, don't be as stubborn as a mule, stay in school, be clean, have good manners, work hard, learn to read and write, those that are "slippery" will get caught, and of great importance - ALL the monkeys aren't in the zoo! Beware that we're not acting like a monkey!

Quilt, by Kimber for 2007 auction

What does it take to swing on a star?

Would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
Or would you rather be a mule?

A mule is an animal with long funny ears
Kicks up at anything he hears
His back is brawny but his brain is weak
He's just plain stupid with a stubborn streak
And by the way, if you hate to go to school
You may grow up to be a mule

Or would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
Or would you rather be a pig?

A pig is an animal with dirt on his face
His shoes are a terrible disgrace
He has no manners when he eats his food
He's fat and lazy and extremely rude
But if you don't care a feather or a fig
You may grow up to be a pig

Or would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
Or would you rather be a fish?

A fish won't do anything, but swim in a brook
He can't write his name or read a book
To fool the people is his only thought
And though he's slippery, he still gets caught
But then if that sort of life is what you wish
You may grow up to be a fish

And all the monkeys aren't in the zoo
Every day you meet quite a few
So, you see it's all up to you
You can be better than you are
You could be swingin' on a star

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Jesus healed many people.

Why not me?

lame man may have had this question.

The man is described in Acts chapter 3.

Verse 2 records "And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple."

How is this possible? 

Do you ever feel like you wait at the "gate" of the temple, and even at heaven's door for a miracle that is not forthcoming? 

Was this lame man not at the temple gate when Jesus was?

Acts is the record of the things the apostles did after Christ's death. Jesus Christ, resurrectedministered to the apostles 40 days. Acts chapter 1 describes how Jesus returned to heaven.

Acts 3 tells how the lame man was healed at the temple by Peter and John, sometime later, AFTER Christ's crucifixion, and resurrection, ministry, and return to heaven. Acts 4: 22 tells us "the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed."

FORTY years of age?
Where was he when Jesus came and went from the temple?

While Jesus lived on earth the blind saw, the deaf heard, the lame leaped by His power and miracles. Through his name and power, the rotted flesh of lepers "came again like unto the flesh of a little child" (2 Kings 5:9), and of even greater significance sins were forgivenwashed completely away, and forgiven.

Mathew 11:5 tells us, "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the  lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."

We know from many sources, and specifically from Matthew 21:14 that "the blind and the lame came to [Jesus] in the temple; and he healed them."

How is it then that a 40 year old man, lame from his mother's womb, "laid at the gate of the temple daily" was still at the gate of the temple when Peter and John came?

The story (Acts 3: 4-13) tells us: 

"Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

"And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.  And all the people saw him walking and praising God:

"And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.

"And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus . . . ."

Peter witnessed that this man was healed so that the people could receive a sure witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and that His power and gospel remained on the earth.

Prophets teach us to go to the temple when we are troubled, to seek peace and healing there. As we wait at the temple praying for a miracle do we have faith and trust like this man apparently had?

Do we trust God?

Can we accept His omniscience?

Especially when we feel we have been bypassed?

Even when miracles happen for all around us?"

Particularly when we have cause to question: "Why not me?"