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  1. My mother-in-law has a neighbor whose tree has been up and decorated since my wife and I were dating; they just turn the lights on each year. We were married in 1987.
  2. Some years back an older gentleman was assigned a Sacrament talk at our ward; to this day I'm not sure what his topic was SUPPOSED to be. He chose to go on a rant about the government taking over and making everyone get a chip in their arm, locking families in prison camps, and so forth. As he was getting to the part about dragging people out of their homes and chopping their heads off in the street, the Bishop quietly stood and put his hand on the brother's shoulder and said, "That's enough." It was a bizarre; kids were crying, people were murmuring, what a mess.
  3. Wherever you choose to start, you might try Read The Scriptures, which can help. You tell the site what you want to read, where to start, and how long you want to take. They send you daily reading assignments, and can even read it along with you via audio file.
  4. Having done a few tours of Iraq, I believe that if you banned and confiscated all firearms in the US (an impossibility in my opinion), car bombs and suicide vests would become the weapon of choice for mass killers. It isn't about guns; it's about people who have a desire to kill as many helpless people as possible by whatever means necessary. Security officers in schools is a good idea; not foolproof, but nothing is.
  5. My view on this is that armed guards are a huge asset to schools. In the part of Tennessee we lived in the county provides armed "resource officers" at each school. Last year a man walked into my son's high school with two guns, intending to shoot a faculty member. The school officer stopped him and eventually had to shoot and kill him. Without that officer, it would likely have been a national news story instead of a local item. Even one case of an officer stopping a threat makes his or her presence worth it to me.
  6. I can sympathize; our new ward hs not been working out for us either. I moved last year and bought a house earlier this year; I commuted home on the wekends to be with the family while I fixed our new house. I found the new ward and was greeted with complete apathy. No one has ever come to the house, called the house, nothing beyond two visits from the missionaries (great guys). I had no help from ward members at all working on the house or moving, and they barely speak to us at Sacrament. After seven months in the ward, my family is still treated like visitors, and not visitors you're happy to see. It's to the point that we only go to Sacrament meeting now; starting to feel like a technicality. But we still go.
  7. This all reminds me of a line Granny had on "The Beverly Hillbillies" once. She said she couldn't wear her swimsuit because it had a hole in the elbow...
  8. Think of it as two people describing an incident from different perspectives. Both describe the same occurences and situations, but from different viewpoints, so you get a more complete picture of what is happening.
  9. Traveler, I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading your posts...
  10. It isn't just the south. I've been approached in several states (and a couple of countries) by well-meaning people who want to share their faith. I always try to be polite, and it has led to some interesting conversations. Learned a LOT about Islam from a man in Iraq who was eager for me to understand what they believe. Wal Mart has been a hotspot for those types of encounters, as well as home improvement stores. I agree that it's best to just state your beliefs and be friendly.
  11. Outshined

    Mothers Day

    This was my Mothers Day talk: I was asked to speak on honoring and sustaining our wives, which is fitting for Mother’s Day. As a prelude I’d like to take some time and reflect on some of the women who shaped me into the man I became, or at least refrained from killing me until I did so. I was rambunctious as a child, much as I am now, though somewhat less restrained in my manner. I have no doubt that raising me presented its own set of challenges, but I imagine no more than being married to me. I never considered then that it might be less than a joy to have me around all the time, or how daunting the challenges I presented may have been. I briefly entertained the thought that my fourth-grade teacher might even want to adopt me, as I overheard her say to one of the other teachers, “I wish that kid was mine for just one day!” In retrospect, perhaps I misunderstood her intent. I lived with my mother’s parents for most of my formative years, so my grandmother played a large part in my life; at 4’ 10” and around 80 pounds, she was the disciplinarian of the family and last word of authority. Her name was Christina, but I never heard my grandfather say it. He just called her ‘woman’ for all the years I knew them. I can still see my grandparents’ house, though it has long since been torn down. It was tall and white, with horizontal board cladding, and a perpetually rusty metal roof. I can remember painting that roof several times with that vile silver paint when I was growing up, but it always seemed to look the same. They got indoor plumbing in 1973, thankfully before I moved in with them. Behind the house was an open well, where you drew water from the ground in a bucket. I had a bit of a fear of falling in, but the water was always sweet and cool. The well never went dry that I know of, even in years of drought. It was a good place for a kid to grow up, with 64 acres of hills and woods to roam. My grandmother was fair, and had a sense of humor, but took zero guff from anyone, ever. When we kids got too far out of line, she’d reach behind a door or piece of furniture and whip out a section of orange Hot Wheels track, and all would immediately be calm again. That was one of those last-resort weapons that never failed to bring peace, sort of the nuclear bomb of corporal punishment. I’m sure there was a demonstration beating at some point to establish its place in the arsenal, but I don’t remember it. Mostly she relied on switches, or at least the threat of them. We never ran from discipline either; she always told us a warning tale about her sister, whose son tried to run to avoid a spanking so she threw half a brick and hit him in the head. We stayed for whatever punishment we earned. Having been a mother and then raising another brood of children long after her mothering days were supposed to be over, she also had keen instincts concerning when we were hurt or sick or only faking. If she suspected you were faking sick to get out of school or church, she’d take down a bottle of some horrible green liquid from the medicine cabinet and make you take a big dose of it. The words we dreaded as kids: “looks like you need some of the green medicine.” To this day I don’t know what the green medicine was, but it caused a number of miraculous healings in our house over the years. If you were really sick you got to lie on the couch with the cat under a blanket. Mothers are a special and blessed people. They share a bond and connection with their children that borders on the mystical at times. A new father can sometimes be baffled by the almost supernatural way a mother can tell what a child needs without asking, just from an expression or tone in the voice. A new mother can look at a child from across the room and say “he needs a diaper change”; the father will think “the bag says up to 10 pounds, and I know there can’t be that much in there already”. Mothers simply have natural instincts to help them deal with the challenges of child rearing, and thank heaven for that. My grandmother could tell if you weren’t really hurt even if you thought you were. The hills around the house where I grew up are steep and green. The house is gone, but the valley is the same. On the east side there is a steep hillside covered with thick trees. Among these trees in one area are many vines that grow far up among the branches so the vines hang down like ropes. Being kids, we would naturally grab one from time to time and swing like Tarzan. One day when I was about eleven, my brother, sisters and I had a particularly sweet ride going with a vine on that hillside. It was a thick vine, cut loose at the bottom to allow a wide swinging arc over a small gully. We were taking turns swinging out in the air over the gully when my brother’s turn came. He swung out fine, but when he got back to the hillside where we were standing he slid down and the crotch of his pants hooked onto a large knot on the vine, so that he could not get off. Back he swung over the gully, trying to get loose from the vine. In his panic, he let go with both hands to pull at his trousers. At the apex of the arc, the farthest point out, the seam of his pants let go with a loud rip. He flipped off backward, arms flailing, and seemingly in slow motion plummeted downward and crashed facedown to the ground. Leaves and debris blew up around him in a cloud when he hit. He lay motionless as the dust settled around him and we all rushed down the hill to him. My sisters were wailing, convinced he was maimed or worse. They picked him up to drag him to the house, and I ran ahead for help. My grandmother was snapping green beans at the kitchen table when I burst in, breathless to tell her that my brother was hurt and maybe dead. She jumped up and ran out onto the porch. She stopped and took in the situation. My sisters were coming up the dirt driveway with my brother hanging between them like a wounded soldier, dead leaves and dirt in his hair, pants in tatters around his knees. My grandmother took a long look at this and started laughing. She laughed long and loud, to the point that she had to cling to the porch post for support. I was outraged that she could laugh at such an obvious tragedy, but slowly began to realize that my brother was not dying. He wasn’t even really hurt; he’d just had the breath knocked out of him. Eventually I would come to see that in that few seconds her experienced mother’s eye had been able to discern his lack of injury, and I would come to admire that. She was a country woman, practical and efficient, and she had immediately evaluated the situation and appreciated the humor in it. My brother survived and is in fact alive and well today. Through the teaching and example of my grandmothers, I learned what qualities I wanted to have present in myself as an adult. I learned that life is what happens to you, but character is how you respond to those things. That falling down is life, and getting up is living. My grandmother taught us that humility is a trait worthy of respect; that there is no reason to admire those who boast and shout about their own accomplishments. That we should be humble and let the lives we lead speak for themselves. We were taught to be respectful as children; never calling an adult by their first name. We couldn’t even call elected officials by their first name or last name only; we were required to say “President So-and-so”, or “governor so-and-so”. We were taught the value of hard work, and the absolute shame of being considered lazy. Though it was hard at the time, I’m glad I had the benefit of that upbringing. My other grandmother, my father’s mother, was a strong-willed woman of Native American descent, one of 22 children. She had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh, and always cooked like she was expecting a very large number of people to show up. Coincidentally people often dropped by at dinner time, knowing the food was there. I remember that she cooked a pound of bacon at breakfast every morning. Every Halloween she kept a bread bag full of candy set aside for each grandchild when we stopped by her house to trick-or-treat. She loved her grandchildren, but was not afraid to let us learn things the hard way. We’d be playing at something she’d warned us not to and someone would inevitably get hurt, and she’d just say “What did I tell you?” She taught you the right way to do things then let you make your own mistakes. I remember watching my father cutting weeds on the slope of her front yard. He was in his late forties I’d say, and a bit 'impaired' at the time. He ran into a nest of yellow jackets and got stung, and took offense. He got a hoe and began trying to dig the nest out of the ground, shouting, “come out and fight!” They did. He stood in a cloud of yellow jackets, flailing and cursing, while my grandmother sat on the porch in her rocking chair and laughed. She figured that she had taught him all she could, and he was on his own; she may as well enjoy the humor in it. These are the women who raised me to the point of adulthood, when I went out on my own at age 18 to join the Army. Though I had seen little of the world, I believe the guidance of these women prepared me and taught me how to conduct myself, to face the adversities and temptations that I would face on my own. I am grateful that I had such good strong women to steer me through my early years; I would be a far different person today without having had that guidance. Mothers play a vital part in rearing strong men and women, and no matter how far you climb or how powerful you become, your mother is still your mother, and you her child. When Mary was at the cross, I don’t believe that as she looked up she saw the Savior, but the child she had held and nursed, and taught to walk and speak. She saw her little boy. Even as He hung there, he was concerned for his mother. One of Christ’s last instructions was to ensure that his mother was taken care of. "When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother!’" On this mother’s day I express my gratitude and best wishes to the mothers among us, and hope it is a wonderful day for you. Second to a man’s mother in shaping the way he lives his life is his wife. Second in chronological order, but not always in importance, for many a woman has taken a man to husband and changed his outlook on life and his course in it. A powerful partnership is formed at marriage, and almost anything can be accomplished with the combined efforts of two people pulling in the same direction. Both my grandfathers showed by example that they respected and honored their wives. I never heard either raise his voice to his wife or treat her without respect, and I have tried to follow that example in my own marriage. I believe I chose well when I married, and still expect my wife to someday catch onto who got the short end of the deal. I have been married to my wife for 24 years. She has put up with a lot in that time. She left her home and went with me to Germany, to be away from her family for four years. She had our first child in a German hospital, far from her own mother, and stayed alone with that baby while I was away in the Gulf War. She has endured three of my deployments to Iraq, taking care of the family and household while I was away. There won’t be a fourth. Someone recently suggested to me that perhaps the reason we have had such a good marriage is that I have been gone so much, but I choose to believe that it is because we committed early to making it work. I do not claim to be an expert on marriage; I have only been married once, but thanks to the quality of the woman I married, it has been successful. I do not claim to have a better marriage than anyone else, but I do claim to be married to a great companion. An officer once commented to me in the Army that he never heard me say anything bad about my wife and that it impressed him. I told him that I had nothing bad to say about her, and that I have always truly considered her to be the better half of the relationship. The simple fact is that few of us could function nearly as well as we do without the support of our gracious and loving wives. All too often, we fail to express our appreciation to them; we accept or become used to them without really noticing them. But how can I expect God to honor me and be pleased with my service if I do not honor and cherish my very own companion? Most men worry about being successful in their work, and they spend a great deal of time and effort at it. But I’ve learned through the example of loving, considerate husbands such as my grandfather that to be successful in our work, we first have to be successful in our homes as husbands and fathers. Too often we give more of our time and attention to our work associates outside the home than we do to our loved ones inside the home. I have come to realize that the work my wife does in our home is more important to me than any work I have done outside our home. One of the great blessings of having a good wife is that she can be the source of the most basic of all human needs—love. The greatest unconditional love that I have received in my life has been from the good women in my family: my wife, my mother-in-law, my grandmothers, and my daughter. The greatest sustaining influence in my adult years has been the constant, unconditional and absolute love I have felt for my wife. The sacred relationship I share with my companion has been the utmost blessing of my life, and I can’t imagine what my life would have been without having had that blessing. A good woman has a way of bringing out the best in even a good man. It is worth the time for each man to reflect on what he would be without his wife. We have to sustain our wives, our constant partners in everything they do, from parenting and running the home to education and Church callings. Even when my wife was in the nursery or had a calling related to Relief Society, I helped her make posters and assemble supplies and organize to make her calling easier. They were not my callings, but it was my duty to help my wife where and when I could. I know the gospel is true, and I know that a considerable part of that gospel is how I treat my wife on an hour-to-hour, day-to-day basis. I believe that none of us can come into full possession of all our powers without an eternal companion. I believe that the ultimate judgment will come to us in terms of what kind of person we have been, what kind of husband and father we have been, and what kind of family we have raised. Perhaps in these times of stress we can become what we ought to be in our relationships with our wives. Maybe the eternal “every day” causes some of us to be more casual than we ought to be. Of course, we love our wives, but possibly we take them for granted too much of the time. Perhaps too often we fail to express our appreciation to them in little ways. I know I do. We could certainly show more affection and always look upon our companions with love and respect. We can surely be polite and courteous if we try. We can nourish and cherish them. I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
  12. I gave this one in Sacrament recently; I had a hard time getting through it, as it wasn't as light-hearted as my usual fare. Good afternoon; a good friend of mine once warned me that if you feel impressed to write a talk on your own you are going to be asked to give a talk. I drive quite a bit for work, and my mind often wanders. Lately I started thinking about a subject and something kept saying wouldn’t that make a good sacrament talk? I kept going through it and decided I should write some of it down, and bam, I am assigned a talk. Hewas right. The subject that kept coming back was one of being positive, avoiding murmuring and negativity. The same phrase kept coming back; bloom where you’re planted. The concept of blooming where we are planted has been around a long time, and I was first made aware of it by a friend of mine long ago. While I was going over all this in my head, someone actually used that phrase in Sunday school, which sort of made me think I was supposed to be writing it down. I’m not a huge believer in coincidence in those kinds of situations. While reading through this I have considered that I may have trouble with parts of this because some of it is really personal, but I’ll try to get through without getting overly emotional; I hate it when I do that up here. It makes me hard to understand. Being negative has always come naturally to me, and I have to struggle to keep it in check. I was first made aware of this in 11th grade English class; a teacher from a neighboring class stuck her head in to ask a question and asked who I was. My teacher replied, “That’s the class cynic.” Until then I was unaware of my tendency to be negative, and I have struggled with it since. Not only does it help us when we keep an optimistic outlook, but we are certainly more of a positive influence on those around us when we are making an effort to be part of the solution. Many of you have seen the shirt I wear that says, “I’m part of the problem,” but I try not to be. We should look for the good in life wherever we are and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves; that is not easy to do, but it is worth the effort. I find it is usually much easier to complain and scowl, but that affects those around us, and a positive attitude does the same in a much better way. We can show our love for others by being positive and tempering our desire to complain. I first heard the phrase “bloom where you are planted” from a friend of mine long ago when I was stationed in Germany. What would my talks be without stories from my younger days? I had an unmarried friend who lived in the barracks but liked to visit our home to hang out with my wife and me and our other friends. His name was Ken Hobson, a bit younger than we were, but a nice guy. He was always smiling and laughing, and liked to have fun. He liked to roll around in the floor with our daughter, who was a baby then, and watch movies with us. He talked my wife into baking him some particularly disgusting brownies once, with marshmallow and caramel in them. Seemed gross to me, but he was so happy when she made them. Anyway, Ken and I had several experiences together that stuck with me; lessons we learned about staying positive. The first was a field exercise we were on in winter, and we were complaining about the cold and wet and mud, as soldiers do. It has been said that a complaining soldier is a happy soldier, and we were no different. On this exercise we had a lieutenant from the French army, and he heard us going on and on. He stepped over and said, “You know, there is a French proverb about this.” And he said it in French, and then translated: “No matter how bad things are, you are very lucky; it could be raining cow manure and flat stones to splash it on you.” We were quiet a moment, and Ken turned to me and said, “I guess it’s not so bad, is it?” Now I’m aware that there are more reverent ways to say it, but it’s a quote, and the point is that the whole thing was only a minute or two of my life more than two decades ago, on a cold, muddy, slushy January day far away, but it has stuck with me since, and I hear those same words in my head whenever I feel the need to complain. Had I known then who Laman and Lemuel were, I could have related the situation to them. They were miserable and complained at every turn, and made everyone else miserable, but Nephi obeyed, he did what he was told to do, and those around him were blessed by that attitude. We were talking about the Israelites a couple of weeks ago in class, and how they murmured against Moses. I was thinking about it, and if I was there I hope I wouldn’t be one of those guys in the back going, “At least I had a bed in Egypt”, or “I had to walk all the way across the Red Sea, and my feet are killing me,” but you never know. You can feel Moses’ exasperation in some of that scripture; he was doing such a great thing for them, and with them, risking his life, but they kept complaining. When I was young and we were doing some hard task, we would gripe about it, and my grandmother would say, “Well, if complaining helps, you’ll sure make it!” And we did, but the complaining just made us that much unhappier. In His parable of the vineyard workers, Christ noted how those who worked from the first hour, having “borne the burden and heat of the day,” murmured because they received the same wages as those who worked only the last hour. Instead of being grateful for receiving the pay they had agreed to for the work they did, they chose to be angry because they felt someone else had not had to work as much for their pay. It is human nature to complain, but the truth is that it never helps us; it doesn’t improve our mood, and certainly does not improve the circumstances. Murmuring can also be noisy enough that it drowns out the various spiritual signals to us, signals which tell us in some cases to stop soaking ourselves in self-pity. Murmuring over the weight of our crosses not only takes energy otherwise needed to carry them but may even cause another to put down his cross altogether. Grumbling can be contagious. Besides, brothers and sisters, if we were not carrying so much else, our crosses would be much lighter. We can never underestimate the power of a cheerful outlook to brighten the circumstances. The second example experience with Ken was in the Gulf War. We were in Iraq, and the company executive officer needed to go to a meeting at brigade headquarters in the middle of the night. He woke me and told me to drive him in his Hummer; Ken woke up and asked if he could go along, and they said yes. In those days GPS was in its infancy; each vehicle had been equipped with an antenna and a small LCD screen that displayed latitude and longitude. When you wanted to go somewhere, you input their latitude and longitude, and the unit would display an arrow and how far you needed to go in that direction. No maps, no pictures; just an arrow and distance. It was strange; in a foreign desert in the middle of the night, pitch black, no lights or landmarks to guide by, just following an arrow and trusting it would get us where we needed to go. Even the stars were absent, as the fires from Kuwait had blacked out the sky. We talked as we went along; Ken was curious about what it was like to be married. He very much wanted a wife and children of his own, and thought we were very lucky to have that. We had seen a fair number of explosives in our time there; it was a combat engineer unit and we had seen every type of landmine, artillery shell, and bomb imaginable. We were very aware of cluster bombs, which are large bombs that spring open just before they hit the ground, spilling a cargo of smaller bombs across the ground, from small antipersonnel bombs to antitank mines. We came to a large dune and drove up and over it; as our headlights came down to level they came to rest on a large cluster bomb about 50 feet in front of our vehicle, stuck in the ground with the sides sprung open. I stopped, and we all sat there realizing that we had effectively just driven into a minefield. After a brief discussion we decided our safest course of action would be to back up in our own tracks to be sure we didn’t run over anything. Ken lay down across the back seat and hung his head and shoulders out with a flashlight, and would guide me left or right to stay on course. After just a few feet he started giggling, and I did too, and had to stop. Soon we were all laughing like loons, and had to stop periodically until we got under control again. The pressure of the situation had been immense, nearly unbearable, but Ken’s laughter had released that tension in all of us, and we managed to get out safely and choose a course around the hazard. It would have been easy to wail and gnash teeth about how unfair it was and our terrible luck, maybe cry out “we’re gonna die,” but a little laughter changed the entire mood. Bad things are like that; if you can find a reason to smile or laugh, suddenly everything is lighter, the burden is easier to bear. At this time of year it’s appropriate to discuss being thankful for what we have. Not just in a material sense, but in everything. We live in a time and place where we are free to worship as we want, to say what we want. I have been in places where that was not the case, where entire families were killed for one member expressing an opinion critical of their government, where the only religion allowed was the one approved by the government. It’s easy to forget how much we have, and how hard those who came before us had to work to allow us to have so much. I was at a Thanksgiving party a few years ago and we went around the table taking turns expressing what we were thankful for. When it came around to one relative, she hesitated. She had a disability that made it difficult for her to walk, yet she had a loving husband and son there beside her, was sitting in an electric scooter that had been given to her, and had arrived in a vehicle that someone had donated to her family so she could travel more easily. She looked around and said, “I can’t think of a thing I’m thankful for.” I thought at the time, and still do, that it was sad to have that mindset; to have so much and still not be able to see beyond the end of your own nose. We should not let misfortune blind us to the treasures in our lives, like those who love us for example. I should take a moment to finish Ken’s story. When I left Germany, I got off active duty and began my civilian life, which eventually led me here. Ken chose another path; he stayed in and discovered that he had a gift for language. He attended the Defense Language Institute in California and became fluent in Arabic. He met and married a young lady and they soon started a family. This was before the current wars, so he was assigned to diplomatic duty as an interpreter at various embassies. This is how he found himself at the US embassy in Kenya in August of 1998, when a car bomb was detonated outside the building. Twelve Americans were killed, including SGT Kenneth Hobson. His wife Debbie was rushed from the country with their daughter, and suddenly found herself planning his funeral in the US. While driving, she heard an interview on the radio with a folk singer they both had loved; she called in and got on the air to talk with him. She told him how much his music had meant to them and of Ken’s philosophy of ‘bloom where you’re planted.’ He was moved by this, and agreed to sing at Ken’s funeral, and that night wrote a song, titled “Bloom,” which he sang for the first time at the funeral. The lyrics say in part, “In the story grandma tells, when other men were angry and withered in the sand, my daddy never raved and never ranted, he just bloomed where he was planted.” It was a fitting description of Ken. And his story goes on; the day before the funeral, Debbie had an appointment with her doctor, where she found out she was expecting their second daughter. None of us will escape tragedy and suffering. Each of us will likely react differently. However, if we can recall the Lord’s promise, “for I the Lord am with you,” we will be able to face our problems with courage and dignity. We will find the strength to be of good cheer instead of becoming resentful, critical, or defeated. We will be able to meet life’s unpleasant happenings with clear vision, strength, and power. The news is constantly filled with stories meant to shock and frighten the public; we are given grim headlines that proclaim the impending doom of the planet, of wars and pestilence. Each political party tells us that if we vote for the other party, we are dooming our country and our children. In times like these we should be prepared and remember the words of the Savior: “Fear not, believe only.” In fact, the message of “fear not” appears in the Bible over 350 times. We should not dwell in fear, but prepare ourselves and keep a bright countenance, knowing that those who follow the Gospel are not lost. We, as followers of Christ, should be of good cheer always and willing to help bear the burdens of our neighbor. On my last deployment to Iraq I was tasked with the supply of all food and water to the Anbar province, which was about 45,000 people. It was a very busy job, which is why I volunteered for it; I knew it would make time pass. The social climate was very tense; there were problems with leadership, and I eventually ended up giving testimony at the court martial of my first sergeant. So besides busy and being in a war zone, things were very hard all around. I finally posted on the wall beside my desk a portion of Doctrine and Covenants 121, which says in part “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment.” This helped me keep perspective that though stressful and difficult, this was just a small part of my life, and it would eventually be past. That mindset became more important in early 2008. I had several refrigerated containers used for transporting perishable goods. They were essentially 20-foot long shipping containers, insulated and with refrigeration units mounted on one end to keep the contents cold. I got a phone call that one of my units in the field had an issue. A young Marine had been killed in an explosion, and his remains were put in the reefer unit to transport him back to our base. This presented me with two major problems. First, once it has been used for that purpose, the unit can never be used to transport food again under any circumstances, so I would have to find a new home for it. I did, with a mortuary affairs unit so they could use it for that purpose. Second and most pressing, they told me that because of the remains it was very messy inside and would have to be cleaned as soon as we got it back. I had ten people working for me, three on that shift, and I was going to have to ask one of them to do that. I considered all of them friends, and I couldn’t figure out how to task one with something that could affect them for the rest of their lives. I agonized over it, and I knew that with every passing minute the truck was getting closer to us. I finally made the only decision I felt I would be able to live with; I cleaned it myself. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but I could not in good conscience ask someone else to do it while I stayed safe inside. I suppose the point of that story is that it was “but a small moment,” and I was able to press on and return home to where things were better. I guess I could have chosen to let that define the rest of my life and withdraw into self-pity and anger, but we are told “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you.” We have to look beyond ourselves and know that there is a greater purpose for all we do. That sometimes the right way is the hard way. If we look for the bad in life we will find it; but just as surely we will find the good if we but look for that as well. I once heard a story about Will Rogers visiting a friend in New York. They were walking down the street and Will stopped and cocked his head. His friend asked him what he was doing, and he said, “I just heard a cricket chirping.” His friend laughed and asked if he really thought he could hear a cricket above all the noise of the city. In reply Will took a dime from his pocket and dropped it to the ground; as it clinked to the pavement heads all around them turned in his direction. He turned to his friend and said, “It’s all a matter of what you’re listening for.” We have to remember that there is opposition in all things, and that we can’t enjoy the good without knowing that the bad is there. A song I have always liked says: “Sometimes a shadow dark and cold lays like a mist across the road. But be encouraged by the sight; where there’s a shadow, there’s a light.” The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to bring blessings to our Heavenly Father’s children. You are planted in your country, in your community, and in your family to facilitate these blessings. I pray that we will all have the sight to see the good around us and that we will find the strength to truly bloom where we are planted. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
  13. By all means make an attempt at therapy; sometimes things like this are a sign of an emotional problem that is manifesting itself through immature behavior. I have unfortunately known a few guys who went to Iraq with me and had marital problems when they came back; they thought they wanted a different partner, but the issue was actually one they had with themselves. The mind is a funny thing sometimes. Before burning the bridges, make sure the relationship is beyond hope.
  14. Found some of that in Romania last August. Loved it!