Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Witness, at Christmastime

A while ago as I sat in church, I was thinking about the unbelief and misunderstanding of the world regarding Jesus Christ, and it made me sad. Today there are many who admire Him as a great teacher but deny the miracles that He did. There are some who say that He never existed, but was only a personification of God’s love for the people of the world, and that the disciples made up stories of Him as a metaphor of this love. There are an increasing number in the world who deny the existence of God altogether and preach the secular doctrines of atheism and humanism instead of the worship of Christ.

All of these groups, though varying widely in some beliefs, share one common false belief: that the man Jesus, if He existed at all, was not divine, miraculous, or powerful in any way other than that which is common to mankind. If they profess a form of godliness at all, they deny the power thereof. This secularism is preached persistently and tenaciously by text books, news reporters, politicians, celebrities, and important men and women holding powerful positions in society. They broadcast their false doctrines with an air of intellectual superiority, often with a sneering, condescending disdain for those they call foolish enough to believe in Divine power. At worst, they are militant in pushing their doctrine of disbelief and reckless in their efforts to let the chips of shattered faith fall where they may; at best, they view the believers as poor fools who need to be rescued from their ignorance.

Choosing to draw a line of demarcation between those who believe in a Divine Christ and those who do not, I can’t say how widespread the nonbelievers are, or whether their recruiting efforts are succeeding. All I know is that the more I perceive the things of the world and the more that time goes on, it appears to me that the secularists’ attacks on Christians are growing more loud and persistent than they once were. It is within this toxic culture of spiritual warfare that my children are growing up, and that so many good, humble men and women are left feeling confused—and that makes me feel sad.

Though I am but a single voice and no one of any consequence in the world, I want to stand up today as yet another witness that Jesus Christ lives, that He is divine, and that He will come again to earth. I testify without reservation that the time will come when Jesus of Nazareth will return to this world and be seen as a glorified, exalted Man by all those who survive the calamities of the last days before His coming. I testify that He was born to a virgin mother under circumstances that cannot possibly be called anything but miraculous. I testify that He is, literally, the mortal Son of our Eternal Father. Angels really did herald His birth to a few, chosen witnesses who received their testimony. I testify that as a man, He really did walk the streets and paths of Palestine; that He calmed the seas; that He healed the sick in a miraculous way that man’s inventions cannot reproduce; that He raised the dead; and that He went about doing good: loving, lifting, serving, and acting out of pure, selfless love in all that He did. I testify that He was the only perfect man to ever walk as a mortal on this earth—that He kept every divine law perfectly and never had cause to apologize, repent, or ask forgiveness of another.

I testify that Jesus the Christ went with witnesses to the Garden of Gethsemane, where as a God, He took upon Him the weight and sins of the entire world. Through means we do not comprehend, He suffered the demands of broken law so that all the rest of us could find a merciful release from the eternal consequences of sin, through faith in Him. I testify that He took upon Himself not only our sins, but also our pains and sicknesses and troubles, so that He would be enabled to succor us individually in whatever trials and tribulation we are called to pass through. Through His grace we can overcome our own failings, the consequences of others' sins, and the natural turmoil of the world as it spins on its appointed axis.

I testify that Jesus the Savior allowed Himself to be taken by ignorant, hateful men and tried on spurious charges, convicted, spit upon, and scourged. He carried His own cross to the hill Golgotha where He was nailed to it and lifted up for all to see as He finished payment of the penalty for our sins. He finished His terrible work in completeness, paying the price for our salvation to the last bit, and then voluntarily gave up his life, His spirit departing from his mortal body. On the third day afterward, angels rolled away the stone from the tomb where his body was laid, and our triumphant Redeemer took up His body again and rose from the grave, breaking the bonds of death. Again through means not understood by mortal men, His triumph over death enables all mankind to rise from the dead.

I testify that all men will rise again from the dead to be judged by Christ the Lord. I testify that the spirit of man is eternal; that this mortal life is but a moment in the grand story of endless existence; and that the condition of life we will enjoy in future eternities depends entirely on our acceptance of Jesus Christ’s atonement for us and our willingness to be His disciples, to turn over our free will to Him, to emulate Him and render to Him all that we have and are. He bought us with the price of His own blood, and we owe all that we have to Him.

I testify that in the latter days Jesus of Nazareth appeared in glory to the boy Joseph Smith, and used him as the appointed vessel to restore the full authority and organization of His church. The church of Jesus Christ that once graced the earth during His ministry in Palestine has been restored in completeness to the earth again, with the express purpose to preach the everlasting gospel to the world, to provide the ordinances of salvation that enable families to be sealed for eternity, to relieve the burdens of the oppressed and afflicted, and to prepare the world for the second coming of the Savior. Jesus Christ is the head of His church, and I testify that He leads it today exactly has He led it after departing this world two thousand years ago, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to the apostle He has set at the head of the Church. I testify that today this chosen leader is Thomas S. Monson, and that he holds the governing keys today that were given by Jesus to Peter of old, and that the succession of key-bearing, apostolic leaders of Christ’s church will continue unbroken until He comes once again to lead it in person.

I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, chosen and set apart by our Father in Heaven to be the Redeemer of the whole human family, and is the only one who can save us. Salvation comes through no other name, by no other way, and by no other conditions than those that Christ the Lord has laid out for us. I testify that He created this world under the direction of our Father, that He redeemed this world through the shedding of His own blood, and that he will judge the world with a perfect, righteous judgment. I testify that someday, every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that He is our righteous Savior and that He is our King, our Judge, and our Lawgiver. Someday the haughty and unbelieving will bend in shame before His majesty and bemoan their fate as those who would not be redeemed, even though a Redeemer never ceased to seek after them during their probationary estate. And someday the meek, humble disciples of Christ will fall down before Him, and kiss His feet, and wet His feet with their tears, as He raises them up and crowns them with the angels of heaven, to dwell with Him in eternal splendor as families and friends, engaged in celestial work and glory that never ends.

I testify of these things through the witness of the Holy Ghost that is in me—the same witness given to Peter, Paul, Joseph Smith, Moses, Adam, and every other witness of God throughout the ages. Though I do not have the same calling these prophets had, I have the same witness through the same mechanism that they obtained it. I testify that every humble seeker of truth can obtain the same witness of the Holy Ghost through diligent study of God's word in the scriptures, earnest prayer, and a determination to obey and serve Jesus the Christ.

He is real. He lives today. And He will come again.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wife Rule #163: I'm a Woman's Man

It was getting late in the afternoon and the ski lifts were closing. I stood at the top of the hill and sighed. This one was rated as a double-blue-square, or "advanced intermediate," and it was the easiest route I knew of to eventually get from where I was to the car. I used to think of myself as kind of an advanced intermediate skier, but I was starting to wonder. I looked at the steep grade, coated with an unforgiving layer of ice and littered with moguls, and wondered if I could do it, especially with this leg cramp I was developing.

My friend Lionel gave me an encouraging word and then took off down the hill, his 6-foot-2-inch frame gracefully dancing back and forth between the moguls. He looked like one of those guys on the ski commercials, one of the ones that made it look easy. Lionel made a lot of stuff look easy. He was tall, barrel-chested, good looking, successful by any measure of the word, and about the nicest guy you could ever know. He made you feel at ease, could talk about any subject, and could compliment you so naturally and with such honesty that you would never think to question his sincerity. Everyone likes Lionel, and indeed, there's nothing to not like. He's a natural leader, athletic, kind, generous, outgoing, and a wonderful family man. As I watched his picture-perfect form descending the ski slope, I thought to myself, Now there goes a true "man's man."

Which, coming back to the painful cramp in my leg, felt like quite a contrast to me at that moment.  You see, I've never quite fit in with "the guys."  Growing up, where most guys loved to talk sports, cars, and rock-and-roll, my interests were in academics, art, and classical music.  Other guys dreamed of being a pro athlete; I dreamed of being a concert pianist.  Other guys spent hours watching, studying, and memorizing statistics about their sports heroes.  I spent hours tinkering on my computer.  While others were pumping iron, I was pumping out drawings.  When many of my friends would discuss their favorite Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin tunes, I tried--without any measure of success--to bring Harry Connick, Jr. into the conversation.

And things aren't that different now.  I still find that my musical tastes gravitate towards those more commonly held by 60-something-year-old women (Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Michael Buble, anyone?)  My lack of athletic ability only grows more pronounced as I struggle to figure out how to help my sons learn the common sports of the day.  The first pinewood derby with my freshly-minted cub scout was saved only because you can buy pre-cut cars now--I don't even own a saw.  And I still spend too much time on the computer (you're looking at Exhibit A).

Instead of growing gracefully older, I'm growing pleasingly plumper.  Instead of having a swell cleft in my chin (like Gaston), I have two (going on three) chins.  I kind of went straight from high-school pencil neck to happily-married padded neck.  I completely missed the sweet spot somewhere in-between.

Somehow, miraculously--even bewilderingly--this never mattered to my wife.  When we met, even though she's a good athlete, she didn't care that I'm not--she was happy that I studied hard.  She didn't care that I'm not broad shouldered--she was happy that I'm smart.  She didn't care that I don't know how to fix cars or own tools--she's glad that I can get around on a computer.  She didn't care that I more closely resemble Mr. Potato Head than Arnold Schwarzenegger--she always wanted to marry someone who's "nice."

And now, 14 years later, we've got a great marriage and six wonderful children.  We're a happy, blandly average, middle-class family living in a middle-class neighborhood in the greatest country on earth.  All because my wife was willing to take a terrible chance on little old me.

So as I slowly and painstakingly made my way down the hill, slipping on the ice and stumbling over the moguls, I was reminded that no, I'm not in the "man's man" club.  Though I admire them and struggle to understand them, I'm at peace with the fact that I never will be one of them.  Heck, I'm not even a "women's man."  I'm simply a "woman's man."  One woman's man.

And for this life and forever, one is enough.

Friday, April 27, 2012

New Photo Blog

I recently put together an online gallery of some of my favorite photos that I've taken over the years (and a few my wife has taken as well).  It can be found at, and will have a permanent link in the header of this blog.

I may update it from time to time if I can get around to looking through the hundreds of photos we take every year (it's always more fun to take them than to process them).

Please take a look and let me know what you think!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wife Rule #162: We're Family

Sometimes when I want to say something most, it's hard to find the words to say it.

My cousin Erica passed away a week ago from cancer. Her funeral was yesterday. We grew up together. For several years she has lived in Florida with her husband and children, whom I don't really know. I've occasionally checked in on her blog, and tried to offer condolences when her mom (my aunt) passed away last year, also from cancer. She has extended sympathy to me regarding my dad's cancer the last several years. There have been mutual prayers sent back and forth in our respective struggles, but in truth I haven't been all that close to Erica in recent years. Now she is gone.

I know from reading her blog that she loves her spouse and children, I'm sure just as much as I love mine. And I know they must love her back, just as much as mine love me. And so my heart breaks for them--for the children who miss their mother and for her husband, who has lost his wife: the source of so much happiness and balance and meaning and direction in life.

I have learned from loving my wife that there is a beauty that comes into your life when you enjoy a happy marriage and family that cannot be replicated in any other way. This is because the married life--the family life--is what God intends for His children. It is the way to happiness. It is a shadow of His life.

Feeling this celestial love and yearning in our own families is a big part of what makes the separation from our loved ones sting so much. Because of what Erica's husband and children lost when she died--because of her love for them and their love for her--they must literally be going through hell.

I believe this is why God sent his Beloved Son to save us: so there would be a way back out. So that we can find a way to dry our tears. So that after the sting of death eventually loosens its grip on us, we can have hope again. So that we can find joy again. So that we can overcome both sin and death, and live together as families again, with Him.

He is real. He cares. He loves us. He really did rise from the dead, and because of Him, so will each one of us.

Some day I'll see my cousin again, and I hope that in the next world--the world that never ends--we'll keep better track of each other. I hope to get to know her husband and kids.

After all, we're family.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wife Rule #161: It's a Half-Full Life

I've heard social media criticized because people tend to only show the positives in their lives and neglect sharing the negatives. This can lead to unfair comparisons between a person's real life, with all its baggage, and the picture-perfect lives portrayed by others online. I suppose this blog is no exception to that criticism.

I haven't written much lately, and that is because I have often been busy, down, stressed, or my mind otherwise consumed to the point where I simply didn't have much to say. "If you can't say something nice..."

So this blog tends to reflect only the times when I am feeling happy, grateful, and positive about life. I have written about some hard times in my Wife Rules, but typically only after I have arrived in a place where I can put a positive spin on the end of the story. To me at least, this blog is clearly a half-full glass.

The half-empty times mostly pass in silence.

And in a way, my wife is a lot like this blog. She chooses to love me with a half-full-glass attitude. She sees the best in me. She assumes the best in me. She expects the best of me. She downplays or ignores those parts of me that are part of the half-empty glass. And on occasion, when there's just not much nice to say about me, she refrains from saying much at all.

Not that she shies away from the occasional constructive comment, or avoids talking about the serious times we sometimes face. She's willing to tackle tough issues when they need tackling.

I guess I'm just trying to say that when I'm not at my best, and I know it, and she knows it, she simply lets it be.

And in so doing, she shows her faith in me and love for me, and soon the half that was empty is filled up again--in part, because she made it so.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Wife Rule #160: What Love Is

Love is a many-faceted thing.

Love is when I invite my parents over for dinner and our annual Valentine's Day dance without consulting my wife, and then she agrees with a genuine smile, even though I just complicated her preparations a bit.

Love is when my older girls pitch in with decorations for the dance and my wife interrupts her food preparation to help them gather the needed supplies.

Love is when I leave my work at the door, shake off the drowsiness that settles in during the evening commute home, breathe deeply, and muster my remaining energy to greet a wonderful wife and energetic family.

Love is when my sons greet me at the door and enthusiastically remind me of my important goal (to drink a glass of water before each meal) by screaming "GOAL! GOAL! GOAL!"

Love is when my wife puts aside the feelings of tension that build up amidst the chaos that occurs as hungry children are corralled and directed to clean up before dinner, and greets me with a tender hug and a smile.

Love is when my parents arrive for a visit after a long, complicated day of being out and about while enduring the pains that come with advanced cancer and the onset of the golden years.

Love is when my toddler and my three year old, dressed as pink ballerinas, greet my parents at the door with shy smiles and tender hugs.

Love is when my parents endure being pummeled by the four older children and all they have to show and tell.

Love is the beautiful table setting my wife laid out in honor of the holiday.

Love is the delicious meal and the chickens, grain, and green beans that gave their lives for our enjoyment.

Love is the complete trust engendered by a wise and kind father, so that his son can ask him for advice about complicated decisions at work.

Love is my father talking as long as I had more to ask, and my wife waiting patiently while I sought needed help.

Love is dinner followed by a dance.

Love is the special feeling a proud father gets when he takes the hand of his daughter for a dance.

Love is seeing a brother who wasn't all that comfortable with the idea of dancing take his older sister by the hand, smile warmly, and join in.

Love is the surge of affection that I feel as my two little ballerinas turn and fall, get back up, and march around the room, cookies-with-icing-licked-off still in hand.

Love is swooping my baby up and holding her tight as we tip and spin to the music, her little eyes smiling in the lamplight.

Love is not caring that the icing left on her hands is now on my shoulder.

Love is the picture of my parents, holding tightly to each other, slowly turning, sometimes with eyes closed.

Love is the sting in my eyes as I watch them, knowing this will be the last Valentine's Day dance we'll all have together.

Love sometimes hurts.

Love is the warm, soothing feeling of holding my wife as we slow dance together--the familiar feeling of her back, the shine of her hair, the warmth of her head on my shoulder.

Love is the lingering hug I give to my parents as we say goodbye.

Love is finishing up the kitchen cleanup and starting the dishwasher while my wife puts the last load of laundry in the dryer--even though it's very late and we're both very tired.

Love is kneeling side by side at the bed, holding hands as we petition our Father in Heaven on behalf of our marriage and our family.

Love is the familiar look of tired sweetness in my wife's eyes as we say goodnight and turn out the light.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Okay, so I've spent far more time being worried about my job the last nine months than writing blog posts about my life with my wonderful wife, who is more supportive, kinder, patient, and deserving of praise than ever.

And now I finally feel compelled to write something, but it's not a Wife Rule. It's a sweet experience that needed to be recorded. So to read it, please visit my other blog (which gets written on even less frequently than this one).

I've composed many beautiful Wife Rules in my head as I've driven to or from work or at other inopportune times. Hopefully one of these days I'll actually write one down...