Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I've been on a reading kick lately. I've plowed through most everything that Issac Asimov wrote, and I'm working my way through Ian M. Banks, Harry Harrison, Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, Philip K. Dick, Orson Scott Card  and a bunch of other lesser known Sci-Fi and Fantasy writers. It's so much fun to see the imagination of others at work. It's even more fun seeing the older works by authors like Asimov and Harrison and how they saw the future from the emerging technological world of the 50s and 60s. Great fun that.

I get a lot of enjoyment out of reading these types of books and it is always good to spend a quiet hour or two just letting my mind run away with the visions of what I read.

I'm grateful that there are creative people out there who want to share their talents.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Still thinking about the Atonement

After the experiences of yesterday, I find I am still quite caught up in thinking about the Atonement and our need for a Savior. Today, however, rather than focusing on our desperate need for an avenue to repent of our mistakes, I am more closely reminded of the healing and help that can come through applying the Atonement in our lives. It is a gift that gives so much vitality and support...and something I'm still learning about every day.

Can you ever express enough gratitude for such a gift?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Atonement

At the end of a very, very long Sunday....all I really have to say is that I am continually reminded how grateful I am for a Savior and all of the myriad blessings that flow from the supernal gift of the Atonement.

There isn't anything more I could say that would have any more meaning.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Getting into shape

This coming summer Caleb and I will go backpacking at Philmont scout ranch. 10 days of backpacking where we'll cover a minimum of 50 miles, and potentially quite a bit more. I'm very excited....and very out of shape for it. Oh, I'm in pretty good physical shape. I work out every day (except Sunday) and I keep myself pretty fit....but I'm certainly not in the kind of shape I know I'll have to be in to be able to do that kind of backpacking and not feel like I'd like to die at the end of each day. It's a different type of exercise and a different type of shape you need to be in.

So, I've been slowly working my way into the kind of physical shape I know I need to be in. One of the activities I've been doing is running, specifically with the intent of trail-running. I don't get to do it more than once a week, but the rest of the days I spend in training for my Saturday trail runs. Today was a big milestone for me. It sounds silly, but I finally have gotten my legs into enough shape that I was able to run down the mountain. Usually I run up, then walk down; going down is much harder on your legs than going up. Up is more tiring but down is more wear and tear. But, today I ran down and was able to maintain a decent pace (actually, a pretty solid pace) and do it pain free.

So, today I'm grateful that my old, rapidly decaying body still has something left in the tank. I'm also grateful that I've had the wisdom to continue to take things slow and not expect too much. A good day overall.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Tonight we didn't have a lot to do. Nowhere that we needed to be tomorrow, nothing pressing on our weekend schedule. So what did we do? Not much. We sat in bed and watched a couple of movies....and we were both totally okay with that.

Today I'm grateful for the small moments of respite, when we can just decide to do nothing....and feel good about it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Music in my life

I sing with a college choir out of MCC. It is one of the things I really enjoy. Tonight I was reminded of one of the reasons why I enjoy it. The details are unimportant, but it was re-emphasized to me how much passion and love for music the people around me in the choir have. From the director to all the voices, there is a great love of music and a desire to do our best as a group...it's really quite amazing. It can lead to some tense moments, some disagreements, and even hurt feelings, but it all stems from a desire to make something beautiful and from a deep passion for music.

For all the difficult moments, the end results are truly rewarding and I'm grateful that I get a chance to associate with such wonderful musicians.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm grateful....really, I am

Today, I did not have fun. I went to the "lab" to get some blood drawn for some bloodwork that needs to be done prior to my annual appointment with my nephrologist. I also have a bit of "bio-measurement" test that I'm supposed to do for my health insurance that is also supposed to be done at the same lab, so, why not kill two birds with one stone? I head over to the lab near my house that I normally go to (which was also listed by my health insurance company as one of the labs that does the measurement stuff they require), but they inform me they can only do the bloodwork, but not the measurement stuff - I have to go to another site for that. So, after I get stuck and they drain me of 3 vials of blood, I head for another location where I can get the health insurance stuff done.

After they take me back, I find out that they need to take blood as well for a cholesterol test. Fantastic. Now I get to be stuck a 2nd time. If I had know that I would have just gone to that location first. Oh well, that's why I have two arms. So, they measure me up (6' 4", 215 lbs) and then the nurse proceeds to stick my other arm, and promptly misses the vein (which I warned her about BTW - but they never believe me). So, then they call in the site expert and he decides to stick me again in the first arm that got stuck and just pick a different vein. So, now I have 3 new holes in my arm and I'm a bit peeved at phlebotamists in general.

Side note - this is not unusual. When I had my shoulder surgery they stuck me 9 times in different places trying to find a vein, then the IV came out when they moved me to the surgery table and had to stick me AGAIN. So, not only was I jacked up from the surgery, but I had 4 huge bruises on my hands, forearms and the crook of my arm from where they had failed to stick a vein.

HOWEVER....all that being said....I am still grateful for modern medicine. I would be in a lot worse shape than I am if it wasn't for competent doctors that have been able to keep me functioning in what resembles a reasonably healthy human shell. My family has also benefited immensely from having modern medicine inflicted on us. I kid, but really, even the bad experiences I had today remind me that for all the bad experiences, there are about as many miraculous things (can you use that word to describe the outcome of science and research?) that have been provided by the dedicated practitioners of the medical profession.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jealousy and pride

Caleb and I went on a short hike today. When I was younger I would go to Squaw Peak and run up and then back down, my goal being to never have anyone pass me either up or down. There were only a couple of people that I ever ran into that could beat me. I did it all the time and it was a lot of fun, but I haven't really climbed Squaw Peak for years. So...today I took him down there to see how it would go. 

Dude beat me up to the top (easily) and then back down (easily). 

I wasn't terribly surprised, I kind of expected it, but there was a certain amount of jealousy that he could move better and faster than me now, although he still has a ways to go before he can match what I was able to do at my peak. I wish I could still move like that, but I'm too old and broken down. So there is the jealousy. At the same time....man that kid makes me proud. It's so much fun to watch him get bigger and stronger. I know he's going to surpass me in every way eventually, and I couldn't be happier about it. 

But that doesn't mean I don't get to complain about it.

Today I'm grateful for a son who makes my life more interesting.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Singing hymns

I love singing songs of worship. I love singing in general, but there is just a little something extra when the songs I sing involve praises to the Lord. There are a lot of hymns that I enjoy singing, but one of my favorites is "Where Can I Turn For Peace" - it was the message of that hymn that helped me most in my tie of need. Beyond that, when you sing about the things that are most meaningful to you can access an extra layer of emotion that can make your singing just that much better.

While I'm grateful for my talent and love of singing, I'm especially grateful that there are so many wonderful songs of praise that allow me to worship through music.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Time out for women

My wife got to go to Time Out For Women yesterday evening and today. I love the fact that she has these kinds of opportunities to go and be spiritually fed. I love the fact that she wants to have these kinds of opportunities. She comes back so excited and the time we spend together talking about what her thoughts were during the meetings is a really good time.

Today I'm grateful for a good wife who loves the Lord. That's a true blessing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fun with my favorite little girl

Tonight I got to go on a daddy-daughter date with my favorite little girl, Sabrina. She's been bugging me about it for a while, and I figured it was high time to have another one.

First we went to dinner. I asked her what she wanted and she said Chick-fil-A...not the most special of locations, but, what the heck. Then we went down to the animal adoption shop in the mall and played with a kitten there named Lance. Sabrina could not get enough. We were in that little room with the cat for a good 30 minutes. She tried to start crying as we left without adopting the cat (yea, right...like we were going to adopt it!), but I nipped that in the bud pretty quickly and no tears were shed.

We then went to Dillards and swung by the cosmetics section where Lisa Cullimore was nice enough to not only put some light make-up on her (lip gloss, light blush, and light eye-shadow) but also to give her a little gift box of perfume and lip gloss (Thanks, Lisa!). We then went over to all the fancy little-girl's dresses and picked one out that she liked and went to try it on. We took a picture and sent it to mommy.

She was in heaven the whole time. In fact, when she got home I told her to go run and take a shower before bed, and while she was showering Gavin went in to brush his teeth, she did nothing but chat at him in pretty excruciating detail about every little thing she did that night, and at one point even exclaimed "I was in heaven all night!" That is never a bad thing to hear.

Anyway, I'm very grateful that I have a daughter that loves me and still wants to hang out with me.

That's pretty darned cool.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Surprising opportunities

Tonight at my choir we were talking about auditions for an upcoming performance of a requiem from Mozart. Apparently not many people are trying out for the bass solo part. I have been thinking about it, and now I'm thinking I'll actually audition for the part. Even after years of study and practice I still have a fairly large amount of fear of singing solo in public. In a choir, not a problem. Solo - still pants-wettingly terrified.

However, I know I have been blessed with a talent and I haven't made the most of it in a long time, so I'm going to go ahead and put my terrified britches on the line and give it a shot.

So, oddly enough, I'm grateful today for opportunities to scare the heebie-jeebies out of me.

It's good to get out of your comfort zone....or so I'm told anyway.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Working with the young women

There are many things that I do in the church that provide a lot of joy and satisfaction. I won't provide a comprehensive list, suffice it to say that right near the top of the list is working with the young women. The young women in our ward are truly exceptional. There is a wonderful spirituality and willingness to serve. They are the type of young women that I want my daughter to watch and emulate, and I can think of no greater compliment. They are wonderful daughters of God.

Boy am I grateful that I get to work with them.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The ability to work

Sitting here thinking about what I'm grateful for can sometimes surprise me. Today is one of those times. I don't often think about my work as a great blessing. Oh, sure, there are some great aspects of my jobs that are blessings, for example, being able to work from home is at the top of that list. However, I rarely appreciate just how much of a blessing it is to actually be able to work and to have a job that provides what we need. Not a lot extra, but enough, and that's just fine.

So, amid all the other things that are fairly constant in my life, and as much as I might not enjoy every moment I spend working, I'm still very grateful for my jobs.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Awesome kids

Sabrina is quite the kid. She told me yesterday that she wanted to give the lesson for FHE. She does this on a fairly regular basis, she gets so excited about what she learns in primary and just needs to share. So, we invited some friends over for dinner and then had our FHE. Her lesson was on testimony; she had an object lesson as well - it was pretty dang cute. It was also extremely gratifying to see my 7 yr old daughter having such a love for the gospel. It is so much fun to see their excitement and their love of sharing with others.

So, yep...I'm grateful for my daughter. She's a great little gal with a bright future.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sundays are always good

So, here was the schedule: 6:30 bishopric meeting, 8:30 church, 12:00 ward council, 1:00 count tithes and offerings, 1:30 BYC, 2:00 head home (briefly) and give the wife a kiss, 2:30 choir practice, 3:00 change clothes and chat with the kids a little, 3:30 start dinner, 4:00 eat dinner, 5:00 play "Mexican train" with the kids and convince Caleb to make snickerdoodles, 5:30 call a friend to borrow some brown sugar because we don't have enough, 6:00 help Caleb make the cookies while the kids start getting ready for bed. 6:30 eat some cookies, 7:00 take a plate over to the friends as a thanks for loaning the sugar, 8:00 come home and sit down to finish a few things on the computer and write this post, 9:00 crawl into bed and watch a little TV with the wife, 10:00 (or thereabouts)...sleep.

Now, that might sound like a long day, and in many ways it is. But it is also a great day. During all of those activities I get to be with wonderful people (friends and family) doing wonderful things (generally spiritual) and mostly just enjoying a day unlike any other.

So, yes, I'm grateful for Sundays. They're my favorite day.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A good kid

We got to watch Caleb play with his volleyball club today, they didn't win much, but they are still learning. It got me thinking about the fact that he's really a good kid. Together we go hiking, we geek out on cars, we enjoy games (video and board). He's essentially a mini-me....and I love it. It's good to have a son that isn't just your son, but also your friend. I'll share more specific stories at another time, but for now, I just need to express the gratitude I have for having Caleb as my son.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Grateful for a patient wife

It seems that November is a month when a lot of people choose to express their gratitude. With all of my inconsistencies of late, why not jump on board the bandwagon. With a bunch of other people posting daily, it will serve as a good reminder to me to not be quite so lazy about it myself.

Let's do this.

Today I am grateful for my wife. But not just for any reason, and not a reason that you would find typical. Let me explain. My wife loves me and she loves our kids. She also wants to make sure that I have good relationships with all of our kids. She knows that I have difficulties occasionally and knows exactly what those difficulties are, but here's the thing: she never harps on me about it. Every once in a while, if we're talking together about difficult things and she can tell that I'm open to it, she'll mention something. Never in a blaming or accusatory way, but in a "this is what you do" kind of a way. She is very careful and knows that if she were to jump on me all the time it would only cause anger and hard feelings. So, very patiently and very carefully she has tried to help me see where I can improve.

Over the last week or so I have come to realize just how patient and careful she is. I have finally begun to notice for myself what she has been talking to me and warning me about. This is where she's been trying to get me for years, but she knew I'd have to get there on my own if I was going to stand a chance of making a change. I now see very clearly where my shortcomings lie and what their effect has been. I have no idea how to fix them, I have no idea how to go about changing the habits of a lifetime, but I'm now in a place where I realize that I must change. I'm ready to try anything, to get whatever help I need.

So, thank you, my dear, sweet, patient, loving wife. I don't know why you put up with me, I will never really understand how you are able to be so patient with me...but I'm inexpressibly grateful for your love and your patience.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The wisdom of others

This past weekend was General Conference for the LDS church. It was excellent as always to listen to the general authorities, apostles and first presidency address us. You can learn quite a bit listening to them if you are paying attention. I'm formulating some more extensive thoughts about some aspects of events surrounding GC, but for now I would simply like to express my gratitude for the careful thought and inspiration that is dedicated by so many wise and learned men as they prepare their messages for us. I have learned much (as I always do) and am grateful for the opportunity to learn more.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Remembering the past

After reading recent posts, it shouldn't be hard to figure out that I've been feeling not quite up to par spiritually for some time now. However, quite unexpectedly, this blog has provided me with a rather clear manifestation of the workings of God in my life.

Last week my sister Laura sent me an e-mail. It seems she was preparing for a lesson she was going to teach in Relief Society about temple work. She had read some of the posts on this blog and remembered a short tribute I wrote to my Grandpa Miller. She wanted me to send her the link to my blog so she could find that post as I had expressed some of the feelings and memories that we apparently shared, but felt that I had expressed them in a way that she could not. I forwarded her the link and didn't really think much of it. 

Fast forward about a week, and this morning my mom called and wanted to thank me for writing the post. She was in tears as she recounted how grateful she was for what I had written and how grateful she was to now know, because she had never realized before, how great an impact her father had on my life.

What in the heck was going on here? I remember having written the post, but didn't remember much about the specific content - it simply cannot have been that good. So, it was time to find the post and re-read it. It turns out it was the first post I wrote for this blog, and you know what? It was pretty good. More importantly, it meant something to me again. Re-reading the post I was able to remember why I wrote it and what I felt when I wrote it and to feel again those same memories that mean so much to me. I could instantly feel and see the hand of the Lord - he knew my struggles, knew my weakness and helped to transport my mind back to times of strength. He had brought back precious memories of strong examples of faith and service and remembered experiences of joyful relationships strengthened by shared love of the Lord. 

Living in the immediate present can be wonderful at times: paying attention and being mindful of what is around you and those you love, but the past can be a powerful tool and we forget it at our peril. I am grateful to the Lord for the gift of the Spirit which can "bring all things to your remembrance" (John 14:26) and has brought these precious memories and feelings back to my heart.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Righting the ship

In the last few months I've been struggling quite a bit with being consistent in my daily routine of faith. I have pondered over the reasons for why it has been so difficult. I'm not claiming a crisis of faith or a lack of belief, I'm merely saying that I haven't felt a real need to engage in all the daily acts of faith that should accompany a life of devotion to God.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that my conclusion is that I simply need to be more grateful in recognizing the source of my blessings. Oh, I know all of that already and I recognize it readily, but I need to make that gratitude more deeply felt and more personally expressed. If others are struggling in the same way, this may or may not be an answer that fits your needs, but it works for me.

To that end I have also begun thinking about this blog. As originally intended I was planning on following the model set forth by President Eyring in his conference address ("O Remember, Remember" - General Conference, Oct. 2007), wherein this blog would be a record of how I had seen the hand of the Lord in my life or the life of my family. Initially it began that way but quickly morphed into a record of simple gratitude for things that were meaningful to me. I was pleased to be able to record those feelings, and I don't believe that a gratitude journal is anything other than a very good thing and a worthy endeavor, but for me....it apparently wasn't enough.

For this blog to have meaning for me it needs to focus my attention and my thoughts in another direction. I need to not be simply grateful for what I have (although that helps), I need to actively seek out and recognize the moments when I receive blessings from the Lord in whatever form they take.

The explanation for why this is necessary in my life is fairly basic: I am independent. I don't like relying on the service or help of others, I feel like I can do it all myself using my own industry and intelligence. I don't like feeling that I need to rely on anyone else. Some might consider this a strength, but I have found that the more I swing over to the "independence" side of my personality, the less I like who I become. As I am able to allow the help and love of other people into my life, the opposite effect occurs and I enjoy who I have become.

It's a terrible catch 22: be myself, and feel strong but unhappy, or reject my innate tendencies and feel vulnerable but happy.

So, while my posts may not be consistent yet in frequency, I will be dedicating them to be more consistent thematically, and hopefully I can return to being a less independent, but happier, individual.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Great weekend

Jared and I had the opportunity to take Caleb up to Utah this past weekend to General Conference and to tour around the church sites there. It was such a fun weekend. Jared and Caleb were able to go to the Priesthood session of G.C. on Saturday night with Brad, Noah and cousin Jared. They had a wonderful time and I think it was really neat for Caleb to be in the conference center with 21,000 men and boys listening to the prophet and apostles. On Sunday, Jared, Caleb and I were able to go to the afternoon session of conference. I loved being there and especially feeling the strong spirit as the audience went completely silent in under 2 minutes as the prophet walked into the conference center to begin the session. How wonderful it is to be gathered with so many other saints and know that we all have the same goal of trying to be like Jesus and learning how to together. I find it interesting that after having this wonderful experience over the weekend, I come home and have to read such negative things about some things that were said by my prophet. I respect everyone's right to choose to believe what they want and to find their own journey in life. I feel as if I am a kind, tolerant person, but sometimes it is hard to not feel hurt and want to lash out by things that are said - especially by someone that until only recently believed as I did. Now, this blog is for the opportunity to express my gratefulness, not to complain about things I really don't understand. So, with all this being said, I am truly grateful for a living prophet. I know that even though I struggle, I can follow his guidance and council and find more peace and happiness than the world could ever give me. I know that as I continue to struggle through my life and through the challenges that I face each day, I can turn to a loving Heavenly Father and feel comforted and feel peace and find direction. Looking to worldly things will never bring me the happiness and joy and peace that following the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring. I will not let Satan lead me astray.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Place to ponder

I find that when I really need somewhere to go and think and be alone, I end up at Samantha's grave. It gives me peace, quiet and I feel close to her and the spirit there. I went there today and wrote in my journal and pondered the things I need to change in my life and what direction I wanted my life to go. I did not come home with all the answers - which I usually don't, but I came home with a feeling of gratitude that I have this special place to go to. I am grateful to a loving Heavenly Father who allows me to still feel close to my daughter when I really need it. That is such a huge blessing in my life.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Consistency is the thing

Okay, so, I haven't been doing so well with being consistent on this blog. I know I want it to be a daily thing for me, and I know that it should be a daily thing, I just have difficulty some days in finding the willpower to sit down and get it done.

My life is full of unnecessary habits. Better described as "things I do that take away from other things that should be a priority and make me a better person." Habits that are easy and entertaining, but ultimately unfulfilling. This is, or course, the worst place to be. Not really doing anything wrong which would trigger a more drastic reaction, just a bunch of little things that are easy to live with that take up time.

So, with the little pity party I've just written, what could I find in my life that I can be thankful for? Therein lies the heart of the problem: I get so caught up in ignoring the things that matter that I have difficulty recognizing the real blessings that operate in my life.

I will not print any meaningless resolutions or heady revelations or promises. Instead, I will simply say that I am grateful that I have a loving Heavenly Father who still blesses me with a spirit of kindness and awareness of who I am. I still know that this is not who I am, and that I can get back to a state of clarity and happiness. I'm grateful that I still have the ability to change and the knowledge that I can.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Good Friends

Just waiting to go out with my great friend - Tiffany. She is moving to Utah in the next couple of days and I am extremely sad. I hate that she is going, but I know this is what is best for her family. I hate saying goodbye to my friends. I don't do it well. I wish I never had too. 3 years ago, I had to say goodbye to Alisha and it took me a long time to get over that. So, I assume it will take me a long time to get over Tiffany going. But, having said all of that, I am so grateful for wonderful friends that teach me, listen to me, share in my life and love me for who I am. Alisha and Tiffany have blessed my life in so many ways over the past 6-8 years. They have laughed with me, cried with me, counsiled me, served me and generally loved me. I have learned how to be a better friend, wife, mother, and person because of their examples. I will never forget them in my life and I thank my Heavenly Father for the blessing of associating with them. Good luck in your new adventure Tiffany. I will miss you terribly, but am so happy that you have gotten what you truly want and deserve!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Recognition is nice

While on a business call today I had someone give me some very solid but unexpected recognition. I had worked on a project that was somewhat unusual and had to really work hard to get even minor ideas of mine passed through. The perception from many was that my influence and effect on the project was minimal. 

However, in the call today we were re-visiting the project and my partner basically said that my efforts were largely underestimated and that they were critical to their success and something that they all found invaluable. 

It was unexpected, and came at just the time when I needed it to boost my mood and morale. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A little inspiration

Today my wife left for Las Vegas to help out her sister do some painting and decorating of her house. She took Sabrina with her which left me with my two boys. This could have been a bad idea.

For those that aren't aware, my son Gavin and I have our issues. He is a loving and very intelligent child, but he has some obsessive compulsive issues that create a lot of stress in our relationship. I don't understand how he makes decisions or how he interprets the input from his environment, and often his reactions seem specifically targeted to drive me to the maximum level of crazy. Usually Marci is there to act as a buffer for me - when I reach maximum level of frustration, I can turn it over to Marci and she can take over while I cool off.

Needless to say, with Marci being gone for several days I was not looking forward to managing Gavin on my own.

However, tonight...it wasn't so bad. I had to take him with me to drop Caleb off at church for YM and then I needed to drop by Costco to grab a few things. Early on I got the impression that I should try really hard to just let Gavin be himself and not worry too much about it. As we went around Gavin continued to act in ways that would normally have driven me insane...nothing bad, just doing things that I usually consider annoying to others or unwise in public places...but I was ready to let that all slide by and just let it go. It was a surprisingly easy evening.

I'm not sure if I'd be able to manage that kind of zen every time we go out, and I had never even tried before, but it seemed to work out. Now if I can only figure out how to have the same kind of calm when there are things that are urgent or required and the resulting fallout when trying to get Gavin to go along.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The example of others

Today I have been thinking about the example of others. 

On Saturday we went to Brother (!) Killian's farm to do a photo shoot for a gal for her senior pictures. We were having fun and moving around to various locations when suddenly Bro. Killian comes out of his house in his bare feet and hands my wife a huge 9x14 tray of cinnamon rolls. No reason - he just knew we were there and wanted to give them to us. 

It might sound like a silly experience, and something quite random and small - but it is also an example of a man who has spent a lifetime learning how to be generous and kind. He just wanted to be generous and didn't hesitate to be so. He has been a marvelous example for me in many ways and it was a blessing for me to be a recipient of his personal generosity.

So...that is the end goal. To have a lifetime of serving and generosity and kindness and then to pass that along to others by way of example. That's not a bad life at all.

Amazing Man

I am so grateful for an amazing husband that indulges me in many ways and truly wants to see me happy. As Jared has mentioned in a previous post, I have been doing some work on our house. It is something that I love to do and yet, it always costs lots of money. So, when I have extra to spend (which is not often) I want to make changes to our house. Some of these projects I can do myself, but most of them I need his help with. He does not sign on for these project, but he willingly will help me. I know he sometimes grumbles inside when I start something new in anticipation of having to change his plans for a Saturday to help me finish a project, but he always makes those changes and helps me out. It is something that makes me love him even more and helps me appreciate how good he is to me. He is such a good man and I am truly blessed to have him as my husband. Thank you for giving up working out, going hiking, or just doing something that you enjoy more so that you can help me out and make me happy. All of your efforts do not go unnoticed. I love you!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Completing projects

Every once in a while my wife decides to re-do our house. This winter/spring was one of those times. She has re-painted Sabrina's room, our room and our bathroom. She has gotten new carpet for our room and the two kids rooms. She has put a frame around our bathroom mirror, installed a new light fixture, a new towel rod and 2 new shelves in the toilet room. She has purchased new nightstands and a "bench" for our bed. We have been living in a wreck of a house for weeks now. Thankfully, today, the carpet was finally installed and we have returned most of our house back to normal.

Today, I am grateful that the number of projects we have been working on has now been reduced significantly, and the only thing we have left to do is paint the cabinets in both bathrooms (a task we will be paying someone else to do), and then paint the kid's bathroom.

The end is in sight, and I couldn't be more grateful.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Another Sunday in the books

I'm not quite sure what to be thankful for today. The day was, generally, just like any other Sabbath day...full of all that is good in life. Nothing really remarkable for me stood out, just a general sense of rightness and goodness. It is a blessing to be able to have a ward that we enjoy so much, and it is a blessing to be in a position to serve all of the fine members here. 

Seems like that's plenty of blessings to be thankful for right there.

Friday, March 1, 2013

An understanding wife

I love to hike. I really do. I've spoken about it plenty before so this is nothing new. What may be somewhat unusual to know is that I feel guilty as heck every time I go. I feel guilty for leaving my wife behind and for not doing the many other things that could and should be done on a Saturday. It's one of the reasons I don't go as often as I'd like and it is the primary reason why I don't go camping very often (if at all). When I'm gone I miss soccer games for my daughter, getting things done around the house and the yard. There are often church activities that are going on that I feel somehow that I should be attending (especially as a member of the bishopric).

As much as I love it, it is still hard sometimes for me to leave and be gone all day.

I am now hiking with my son Caleb and occasionally with Gavin so the time should be more valuable to me and I should feel less guilt for leaving other concerns to wait for my return. I guess I just have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. Besides, I love hanging out with my wife, so leaving her is the hardest thing to do.

However, I my wife also understands this and tries very hard to make me not feel so guilty. She knows I don't go every Saturday, and she knows I don't go year round (summer is a lousy time to hike in the desert). So, she indulges me in the hiking season and tries to be as understanding as possible and when I start to express how I don't feel like I "should" go, she is quick to point out that she is okay with it.

Thank you dear for valuing my love for hiking and finding ways to help me enjoy it more - even if I feel a bit guilty for leaving.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

My children - and my daughter in particular today

Today was Sabrina's 7th birthday. It would be a huge oversight if I didn't recognize the hand of the Lord in my life by giving me a daughter who teaches me so much humility and love. She is the light of our home (as everyone will agree) and our little princess. She brings joy and fun wherever she goes and smiles just follow her around. She is truly a blessing for me and my family.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Being an answer to someone else's prayer

Tonight I went to an activity for the Young Women of our ward. They were holding their "New Beginnings" program where they introduce all the YW that will be turning 12 this year into the program. It's very fun and quite cool to see how interested the older girls are in making the younger ones feel welcome and special.

As soon as I walked through the door into the room where everybody was seated Sis. Barrus immediately looked at me and said "Oh, Bro. McLain! Thank goodness you're here! This is an answer to my prayers!" She was having some technical difficulties with her computer and a projector, and was trying desperately to figure out the problem, she was praying silently that she could get some kind of inspiration or help so that she could carry out her presentation as she had planned it. When she saw me, she knew that I had done some tech work with her in the past and she was confident that I could fix her problem. I could and everything turned out okay. Afterwards she thanked me again and shared with me how grateful she was for not just my help tonight, but for all the help I have provided in the past.

It isn't often when you get someone telling you "You're an answer to my prayers!" as soon as you show your face, but tonight was one of those times and I'm grateful that I was able not only to be there to help, but that I had the knowledge and skill to provide the help needed. I'm also grateful for Sis. Barrus and her quiet faith and strength.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kids who still get excited

For the last few days I've actually been noticing it a lot more, but I love the fact that my kids still get excited to talk to me and are excited to give hugs or do any little thing with me. I haven't really taken notice of it quite so much until recently, and I'm not sure why it has come to my attention quite so sharply, but I can say that I now recognize it as a tremendous blessing, and one that might be fleeting, so I'm grateful that I do recognize it as something special while it still lasts.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Small, but significant

The whole story is rather long and complex, but I will shorthand it here a bit. After 3 years of actively trying I  finally managed to get a reservation for Philmont. It hasn't been easy and it hasn't been a smooth path. This year timing was everything and nothing seemed to be going the way we needed it in order to have a successful outing from the Stake to get to Philmont. Leadership change was our biggest problem with a change in the stake presidency causing the most difficulty. Nevertheless, we have forged ahead (myself and the stake YM president, Lyndon Smith) and acted as effectively as we could under the constraints we were given. 

We got the final authorization to go ahead with the trek a little over a week ago, but we had a payment of $100 due to Philmont by this Thursday in order to keep our reservation. We were only able to get the barest of communications out, mostly by e-mail, to try and get as many boys and leaders on board as we could. It looked like it would only be semi successful. After speaking with Pres. Smith about it we decided we needed to ask Philmont for more time if we were going to be more successful. So, today I called Philmont to plead our case. All we wanted was 2 more weeks to get the word out a little better. Philmont actually offered to give us until April 1st to get our payment in. 

This is an unbelievable blessing. We now have the time to get a little more organized and really reach out to the boys in the stake and try to get them interested in the adventure. I'm extremely grateful that we now have the opportunity to do what we have been wanting to do and get in front of boys and parents and to really talk to them about the Philmont experience.

I will post at some time in the future about how utterly beside myself with excitement I am for the blessing of being able to go there at all, but for now, I'm just ecstatic that I get the chance to share what a wonderful experience it will be for the boys (and leaders) and get as many on board as possible.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A good Sabbath day

On Sundays, occasionally there is no need to be grateful for anything other than it being the Sabbath and all that goes along with it being a blessing. Today was one of those days. I always draw strength and renewal during the Sabbath, but today felt particularly good, and was particularly necessary for me.

Some days you fund the blessings and the hand of the Lord right where you are supposed to find them.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A day of work

Today was a bit of a long day. Soccer game for Sabrina at 8:00, then working in the house. Installed a new faucet in the kitchen, finished painting the master bedroom and bathroom. Installed a new light fixture and towel bar...and then a very short "date night" with Marci that consisted of going to the gym to relax in the spa, In-N-Out burger and watching TV for an hour.

Woo. Hoo.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't recognize all the blessings in my life that have allowed me to have the physical strength and stamina to do a long day of work like that. Not even a year ago that kind of work would have meant some serious downtime due to back and shoulder issues. Now, I'm able to score massive brownie points with the wife and help her with a very extensive and difficult "to do" list around the house.

For anyone that has ever suffered from chronic pain of any sort, you realize what a tremendous blessing it is to be relatively pain free, and how grateful you can feel for the blessing of being able to work.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Eternal friends

Today I was reminded about one of the promises in my patriarchal blessing. It tells me that I will make many friends in this life, many of whom will be friends through eternity. I've been very blessed to have many friends throughout my life, and it is always interesting how no matter how much time has passed, to a really good friend, that time doesn't seem to really matter at all.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The beauty of nature

I'm not sure whether this is a blessing or simply a highlight, and in a way it is kind of both.

Yesterday we had a particularly cool winter storm. It actually snowed in Mesa. There was a bunch of small hail first, enough to look like snow as it stayed on the ground, but then a little dusting of snow on top of the hail. I heard from Marci earlier in the day that there was snow on the Superstition mountains.

Now, I should explain that I am obsessed with snow on the Superstitions. There have been a handful of times over the last 10 years or so where there has been snow on them that has stayed long enough to be really noticeable. My dream is to go and hike up into the mountain when there is still snow visible. The mountain has not cooperated. Every time it has snowed on a day when I cannot go hiking! It is either on a Sunday (I won't voluntarily go hiking on a Sunday if it can be avoided) or on a weekday when I cannot miss work. Add to that the necessity of having a partner with me to be safe, and that's nearly impossible to manage on a weekday as well.

Anyhow, yesterday was different. The now came down at such a low altitude that I knew I wouldn't have to hike up very far to see it. So, after a work meeting at an incredibly annoying time (7:00 - 8:00 - if not for the meeting I would have been up at 5:00 just to get there before sunrise) I asked Marci if I could go down to take some pictures. Marci is busy painting our bedroom and could have used my help for sure, but, and I believe I married her in anticipation of this very moment, she said "Go ahead."

So, I went. Paul Reed was also headed there for a run and we eventually met up. It was simply spectacular. I've never seen the desert blanketed in snow and ice like that...it was worth every bit of effort, and I wish I had gotten there earlier and for longer.

Today was the partial fulfillment of a long-held dream of hiking the Superstitions in the snow, and the welcome blessing that I have a wife who understands how important and rare of an opportunity this was for me, and let me go even though it was probably pretty annoying for her to do so. Both were blessings that I am very grateful to recognize.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The activity of youth

I got to spend some time with the young women of our ward tonight. Our stake is having an activity called "walk your ancestors to the temple" (or something like that), the idea being that all the youth of the stake will do some family history research and take the family name that they have found to the temple. In addition to the family history activity, all the youth will walk to the temple from our stake center (about an 8 mile walk). It's an interesting idea and one I support.

So, tonight I got to help out the young women to get registered on the New.FamilySearch.org site and help them with their research. It was a lot of fun....but also very humbling. I've personally not done much family history research. I did some a LONG time ago when it was still a very manual affair and nothing was online. But I honestly haven't put much effort into the activity now that everything is online. These marvelous young women were showing me an example wherein I cannot help but find myself humbled.

So, today I am grateful for the strength of the youth of our church and for what they teach me every time I get to work closely with them.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I have no idea...

All of these posts are written pretty much real-time. I don't plan them out, I do very little editing once they are written out, and I rarely begin thinking about what the blessings of the day are until I sit down to write them. There is quite frequently a long pause between logging in and typing the first words.

Today is a tough one. I'm getting sick again (for the 3rd time in as many months - a very rare occurrence for me) and I'm quite unhappy about it. Marci and Sabrina are also sick (mostly Marci), and that doesn't make things any more pleasant. I won't enumerate the various symptoms I'm experiencing, but they are all pretty annoying and miserable. So...how do you find something good in a day where you feel sorry for yourself and feel like crap?

I need to think a little harder about this one today.

Okay, I had two little experience tonight that qualifies now that I'm paying more attention, here goes:

I teach psychology at a local community college, it's a nice side job and I enjoy it quite a bit usually. That was not the case tonight. I knew I would have to lecture and I was just not feeling up to it. I was sniffing and coughing and my throat and head hurt and I felt weak - just a horrible combination for trying to entertain students for an hour. On my way to campus I said a little prayer as I was driving "Please, help me get through this tonight." As class started I wasn't feeling any better. I had some water and a pile of tissues ready to go. I warned my students that I was sick and might hack up a lung or need to blow my schnoz at any moment, then I began the lecture. 

I had zero problems. My voice held out, my mind was clear and I barely noticed that I was sick. After I concluded my lecture I went back to the computer to log off, and I had to lean on it to catch my breath and my balance. I had nothing left! I also suddenly started coughing and needed to blow my nose. It was almost as if someone cut the marionette strings as soon as I was done; but more importantly, I also now realize that I was being supported for the time I needed it. I staggered (that is not an exaggeration) back to the car and headed for home.

Once home I had to run a couple of quick errands (pick up medicine and get some food) and as I was returning home I got a text from bishop that he needed someone to cut a check down at the church. I was already out and about, so I went down to help out. I got the main business taken care of quickly and while I was there another member of our ward took a moment to thank me for talking to their spouse at a recent activity. Apparently some of the things I said "really inspired him" - I had no idea. I remembered the conversation but couldn't really remember anything I said that was inspiring or even that tried to be inspiring, but it was good to hear a clear message that somehow I had been able to bless another person's life in a small but meaningful way.

So, today I'm grateful that the Lord saw fit to support me in my moment of need, and then chose to bless me in a small random way that made me feel good at the end of an otherwise rather unpleasant day.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Shared joys

I went hiking today with Caleb. Not a particularly adventurous hike, but it was a good one nevertheless. We went and did the 302 circumference trail at the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and ended the hike with a jaunt up the summit trail of Piestewa Peak. It's a trail I've done probably 50 or more times, but Caleb had never been, so....why not? We ended up covering about 8 miles or so and had a pretty dang good day.

It is wonderful to me that Caleb and I can share an interest in hiking together. It gives us a chance to talk privately about whatever we want and we get a chance to bond and have fun together. I get to see him grow in skill and strength...to the point where I'm becoming annoyed - he can hike faster than I can and he's getting pretty strong; I've still got him in skill and stamina, but he's catching up quickly. [sigh]

It is just such a blessing to me that Caleb shares some interests with me as it really helps me stay close to him as a father. 

Now.....if I can just find something like that with Gavin I would feel truly blessed.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Preparation is key

Today I'm grateful for a lifetime of preparation. As I mentioned in my post yesterday I was a bit of a bonehead and forgot that I was arranging to get speakers for sacrament meeting this month. Due to the extremely late nature of the dawning of that realization this week I made the decision that I should bear the responsibility of my idiocy and I should be the one to give a talk.

I had very little time to prepare much of anything between realizing that I needed to prepare and the actual time I needed to deliver the talk. I was really only able to think about what I was going to talk about but not really write anything down or do any extensive research or preparation. I was essentially flying by the seat of my pants.

This morning while in our normal bishopric meeting I did a very quick preparation and decided that I was going to talk about agency and how it affects us as we strive to gain knowledge. I was using as my foundation the lesson for the youth Sunday school curricula "Come Follow Me". The February topic is "The plan of salvation" and one of the lessons is "What is the role of agency in learning the gospel?" There is a wonderful talk by Elder Bednar linked in that lesson that speaks about using our agency in order to learn about the gospel. It is a topic that has absorbed my attention and thought process for a few years now and I feel that I am only just starting to understand the subject.

I began my talk as I had intended, but as I spoke I realized that I wasn't really talking about agency, what I was talking about was preparation. I was demonstrating preparation. Yes, I had made an error in forgetting to fulfill an obligation, but I have spent a lifetime studying the gospel. I've spent a lifetime learning and studying the gospel. I've spent years serving in the church learning how to interact with the gospel. I've been a parent now for 12 years and have started learning how to talk to and teach my children. All of that preparation gave me the strength, knowledge and ability to get up in front of a congregation of worshipers and to deliver a talk at the last minute. All that time spent serving gave me the ability to recognize the promptings of the spirit and to share a message that was meaningful to me and (I hope) meaningful to someone else.

In all honesty, whether or not it helped anyone else is actually not as meaningful to me as what I learned myself from the experience. Sometimes we continue to do what we do in the church and do it almost out of habit without ever really seeing or feeling the results of our labors. To be sure there are moments where we feel that surge of the spirit or we recognize the immediate or necessary help we have been able to give to another...but we rarely see the change in ourselves. Today I was taught by the spirit that all that learning and preparation of a lifetime can help me in a moment of need and can still teach me even when I don't think I have anything to offer. Today I learned that sometimes, even when you make pretty stupid mistakes and force yourself into a corner, the Lord is still there to support you.

Provided you've put in the effort beforehand.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Back in the saddle - I hope

Seems I've taken a break since late November. I was disrupted for a few weeks due to having shoulder surgery. I had an arthroscopic procedure done to clean up my right shoulder joint and re-anchor a torn labrum (sp?) tendon. This essentially put the use of my right arm out of commission for several weeks. I tried typing a few times, but I was relegated to typing one handed for about 3 weeks and it was really lousy. After typing all day at work the last thing I wanted to do was type some more.

And that was it. No other good reason for such a long break. I took the easy way out and took a break for a few weeks rather than deal with the frustration.

At first I wasn't in the mood to count my blessings. Then, right as I started thinking I should get back to writing in this blog, I got the flu and was down and out for a week. Then the holidays, then coming back from the holidays, then the start of school, then....blah, blah, blah.....ad infinitum.

The much more simple explanation is this: I got lazy. I let the simple frustrations of every day life get in the way of the goals I had set for myself. I could somewhat justify myself through some of my physical problems, but really....there's not much of an excuse that is worthwhile. I found the time and found a way to do other things that were of far less value but required probably the same amount of work and effort, so the bottom line is that I didn't make this a priority......for 3 months.

But - today is the day to start again and not procrastinate any longer.

Today I am grateful that I am an idiot. I know that most everyone is already aware of this fact, and certainly I've been aware of it for most of my adult life (cocky teenagers and early adults don't count - they don't have a brain and are therefore incapable of recognizing their idiocy, and I most certainly fell into that category).

The month of February is my month to find speakers to talk in sacrament meeting. We had fast Sunday (no problem there) then stake conference (again, no problems) - but then this week I completely forgot about it till Friday morning. Yikes! Thank goodness it is High Council Sunday and Wade Pew (the High Councilor assigned to our ward this month) was ready to go and willing to come on short notice. Now I just needed to find a companion speaker for him.....so I looked in the mirror. If I am going to be lame, I cannot foist my ineptitude onto another. I have to take that responsibility on myself (and besides, Marci laughed in my face when I asked her). So, I will be preparing a talk. For tomorrow. It is 9:00 Saturday night, and we have church at 8:30 in the morning.

So, I will be relying pretty heavily on the spirit in my talk tomorrow, and for that I am grateful. It teaches me humility, it teaches me to remember the things that are important, and it reminds me that I need to stay close to my Heavenly Father just so that I can always be prepared for moments like these.

What can possibly go wrong?

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Today, I am grateful for the days I can stay home and organize! I love to organize things but it seems like it is a losing battle when it is just me against 4 others who don't care about having things in their place. :) But, that is okay - most of the time. I was able to just hang out in my jammies all day and organize files, kids school work, find things that I can sell or at least try and get rid of that are not needed any longer. It feels good to let things go, to know I will be able to find things when I need them. I guess there are some advantages to living in a house with not enough storage space and not enough places to put things. It makes me go through our stuff more often and downsize and really thinks about the things that really matter to me and what I can part with. So, today I am just grateful that I have days where I can just go at my own pace and get the things done on my own time.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Years

I don't just make resolutions once a year. I feel like I am always making some and always re-evaluating and trying to find ways to improve. It is a constant for me. I have a lot of things to work on. But, I am grateful for the beginning of a new year to look at what I did last year and think how I can make it just a little bit better. Last year I decided to pick one word and focus on it. That word was Family. I wanted to make more memories with my kids and husband and just focus on them. I did good for awhile and then stopped. Then tried again and stopped. You see where this is going... I think it was a good think to focus on and I think it was great to have just one thing to work on that seemed to incorporate a lot of other little things. I haven't decided if I will try and do my resolutions this same way again this year, or go back to the "standard" way of making new goals or think of something else. I am still thinking on it. I am grateful that I have lots of opportunities to make changes in my life and hopefully in the lives of my children. I will write some things down in a different journal and see what I can accomplish this year. I hope it is more than last year and I hope it makes a significant difference in my life and the lives of my family. I am grateful for a new year to live and grow and be better and to learn!