Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Stealing. Learning life lessons.

There was a candy store a few blocks from our house in Taylorsville.  As a child I loved going here because I could get a few different candies for a penny a piece, and this was almost always something we could find if we looked around or were willing to do some work for neighbors.  I am guessing I was likely in kindergarten or at least around this age when this story began. 

As many have likely learned from my other posts, I was able to go away from home and get around my neighborhood a lot as a child.  I only now start to realize that I was likely one of those kids that was constantly seen by neighbors and others as undisciplined and likely even as trouble by many.  That being said I went all over the place by myself, or with siblings, or friends.

One day I went to the candy store and decided I wanted more candy than I could pay for.  I believe I went with others (some of my siblings if I remember right).  We walked around and I knowingly put some candy in my pocket, and then headed on my way.  When I got home, my parents wondered how I could afford the candy I had and when they found out what had happened they took me back to the store and made me give the candy back and apologize.  The man at the store was understanding, but was also firm that if he wanted to he could send me off to detention (or kid jail) for doing things like this.

I got into the habit of occasionally stealing even though I knew better.  There were a few times in my life that I stole.  I stole a toy and a few other candies on a few occasions while I lived in Taylorsville, they were all from different places.  I also got into cars and took money on one occasion.  After my family left Taylorsville and moved to Sandy I stole a video game when I was around 10 years old.  I also stole cigarettes a few times as a pre-teenager.  I also took cash on at least one other occasion I can remember.

No one has ever heard these stories except possibly a friend or sibling if they were involved in the actions.  Sorry mom and dad for these past actions.

I want to make it clear that I write this for my posterity and as a record that people change and as a way to remember that I needed to overcome struggles as all do.  This was one I needed to learn from.  For some time, I seem to have felt others could afford to give me what I wanted.  I have not stolen anything since the time I was taken from my family as a youth.  Though I have been exposed to others stealing and even felt some of the side effects of these actions, these things have further cemented in my mind the damaging and terrible side effects on all that steal or even covet that which others possess.

I have seen hurt from those that have been damaged due to theft, robbery, and others taking advantage of them.  I have also seen people that have damaged their own ability to feel sorrow, to be ripped from family and friends due to loss of trust and faith.  I have even seen some be cast into jail and prison because of their desire to take what they want, and not to care for the efforts of others in obtaining that which they have.

While in foster care I was exposed to some boys that robbed a store and obtained large amounts of money (or what I considered to be large amounts at that time in my life - still significant by any means).  I had to make a choice.  Between those that did this and my ability to obtain some of this money by keeping my mouth shut.  Or doing what I knew to be right and turning them over for their actions to the legal system.  Looking back that decision was a big stepping stone in becoming who I am today.  I have a family member that has spent years in prison and damaged the trust of family and friends because of the terrible side effects of stealing.

To put it plainly.  I learned for myself that stealing was terrible and addicting.  I watched the damaging repercussions on those I loved due to stealing and lying. 

As I have tried to become a person others can rely on and look to for guidance, I have learned not to selfishly put myself first. 

I strongly believe to best way to overcome a desire to steal and to covet is to put aside your own selfish desires and to desire instead the welfare of others.  When this change was in place in my heart.  I no longer desired to steal or even to compare myself to others.  Instead I desired to help to guide and to bless.

This has helped me to find gratitude in my blessings, and to be forgiving and understanding towards others.  I believe this same change of heart will do the same for any that are willing to allow this change in their life.

I didn't stop stealing because of getting caught or because of anything else that scared me, but rather I believe I appreciate things much more when I earn them.  I want to pass this on to my family and posterity.  I simply want to be a good person, someone that leads people to be better.  Whether this be myself, my family, my friends, or anyone else.  I believe everyone wants to be trusted to be respected, and to be loved.  This is why I put away stealing from my life.

Since this time in my life, I feel much stronger about fairness and honesty.  I see EVERYONE even criminals and those that have made bad choices of any nature (That is all of us) as not only people...  But more importantly as people who can change, as people that in most cases want to change if only given the chance.

I write this not only as a record to my children, but in a deep hope that I might bless those my writings come in contact with.  In some ways I see my past as a dark hue like a number of the childhood stories I learned of those that overcame the darkest of pasts to become great.  If I could dig just one person out of the rut I was in and help them become greater than they would otherwise have been; then spilling my past on this blog, and any perceptions that may come with it are all worth it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Musings... Answers... Finding hope through Christ!

I have recently thought a lot about a few questions that have really disturbed me.  As I have pondered these I have spent days in prayer thinking and pondering what I ought to do and how to best accomplish the decision at hand.

I had my first answer this morning and it was a welcome ray of sunshine after swimming through the darkness.  I guess the first thing I should say is that no I am not going to disclose the circumstances, but that being said I would like to discuss the process it took for me to get to where I am now.

As I faced the problem at hand I learned very quickly this would impact many people, and some of those impacts would be hard to deal with.  My biggest concerns were the emotional impacts on others.  The other concern was for myself, and this I will discuss openly.  I found concern in how I have performed in my responsibilities in the past and whether or not I was handling things in a manner that is pleasing to God.  This second concern came later because of my lack of perception.

I found myself really struggling as I attempted to look at every angle of the decisions to be made and how I could possibly assure what I did addressed what was the most important.  How could I make the best decision possible?  As I wondered I knew the decision dealt with many important things.  In fact to be direct what I consider the two most important aspects of my life, and they appeared to be at war.

I knew one could give or the other, but how do you allow change to an aspect of your life that defines all you have worked for.  I also personally believed that both options were important and both were good. 

People have faced tough decisions since the creation of man, and there are endless stories of people overcoming outrageous situations. 

And in this mindset my adventure began.  I believed I had to make a decision between the two and this was my first flaw.  I asked in prayer time and again to know the will of God in regards to which I needed to impact.  I asked in differing ways and from every perspective I had considered.  In fact it got to a point where I started to doubt myself and if I was going to get any answers.  This is where the second questions came into play.  This multiplied my problems, because I was not willing to accept that maybe both options could occur.

As I spent days in prayer and struggling, I often pondered on the scriptures of Enos and his wrestle with the Lord, and many other scriptures.  I considered my commitment to do the Lord's will regardless of the cost.  I thought back on many of the experiences of my past and of the knowledge I have that Christ is the son of God and that he has experienced all we will ever go through.  I spent hours and hours discussing with God the dilemma I considered myself to be in. 

However, as I started off to work this morning the concerns still in tow I caught a glimpse of more options than I had previously considered.  I truly believe this was the start to my answers, and I believe these came from God.  But what came next I know was from God...

I changed my prayer and asked very differently from my previous prayers for the simple answer of how to approach what I needed.  The answer was very simple and direct and in one sentence, as is often the case with the way our Heavenly Father speaks to us all was resolved.  I didn't need to choose between the two good options.  I simply needed to realize that my priorities in a non-related aspect of my life needed to change.  Yes I will need to make some physical changes, and in some cases they will not be easy.  However, do I trust the direction I received from God?  The answer is a resounding yes, in fact I believe all of the answer and the multiple impacts it carries. 

Because of this I have made some changes and will continue to work on this new direction as it carries me forward to new heights and far away from the initial decisions that brought it about.

The reason I write this and share it now is because I truly believe it may help others.  First to know that God (and more specifically His Son Christ), can help us through anything no matter how complicated.  Second I write this because when we turn to Christ and gain our answers, they are not always what we expected, or even what we thought we needed. 

I read an article today that made the following statement: "in 100% of cases there is a good reason and a real reason...  A good solution solves one problem. A real solution solves 100 problems."  The reason the help we receive from our Savior is so good is that it deals with the real problems and the real solutions.  Not the good problems and good solutions.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Life in Taylorsville part 2

As a child I don't actually remember moving to the house in Taylorsville, even though I have spotty memories prior to this.  It is in my mind as if this was simply the home I grew up in until I was around 9.  With that I will share more of my memories from this period of my life.

There are many simple memories like making nachos and sleeping on the trampoline and going shooting...  I will focus more on some of the memories that will not be as common... at least not now.

One thing I have noticed is the difference between how Saturday morning cartoons were a big deal when I was a child.  I remember getting up at 4 AM so I could catch the best cartoons and then watching cartoons sometimes until noon.  I remember favorites like Voltron, Thundercats, Transformers, Go-Bots and the list goes on and on.  Of course this is not as interesting to me as the change in how cartoon and video viewing has changed since I was a child.  My children watch the cartoons or shows they want on demand and when it is convenient for them.  Most of the shows can be found easily online or through Netflix or other streaming options.  Looking back I think this is cool to see the huge discrepancy between experiences.

With that I will start into some of the experiences that changed me and gave me some of the perspectives I have.  

As a child we raised goats for some time, and I was often one to feed them and milk the females.  On a side note I used to butt heads with the females, because I thought it was fun (this may explain some things for those who know me).  We had a billy goat so we could raise and breed the goats.  To start with for those that do not know much about goats (I would imagine this is a majority).  I will explain some grounding information about billy goats.  Billy goats stink like no other.  This is because they urinate on themselves to  attract females.  It's OK to cringe I think I did when I first learned this as well.  They are also quite grumpy animals if they do not get their way.  I will speak of one particular experience I had with our billy goat and how it almost got me killed.

Our billy goat was in heat and I was going out to feed the goats.  I started to notice he was always the first to eat and that he would get what he wanted before any of the other goats could eat.  He had long curly horns, and was what I considered to be bullying the other goats.  I always had felt like I could handle him pretty well and would play with him as well as the other goats.  I decided I was going to help the other goats that I thought should be able to eat and enjoy their food as well.  So I took food and started to go to and feed specifically the other goats.  This really made our billy goat angry and he decided to teach me a lesson.  He charged me down and started to butt me.  By this time I was pretty afraid and tried to get away.  He pinned me up against the fence and started butting me (hitting me over and over with his horns).  I was out of breath and unable to move and he just kept going.  I heard my father in the background and screamed that the goat was killing me.  He jumped the fence and ended up trying to get the goat away which was not working.  He finally had to grab a 2x4 which was in our yard and broke it over the goats head.  This broke one of the billy goats horns, and it finally backed off.  I was taken to the house and cared for.  This was quite traumatic to me and I wondered what had flipped the switch and why he was acting this way.  I learned that as far as goats are concerned there is a hierarchy and the billy goat is the top and decides how things work.  I had basically stomped on his domination of the other goats, and infuriated him.

I learned a few things from this experience, first that my father would do what it takes to save his children; even to the extent of jeopardizing himself.  He got hurt a little as well and I am surprised at the strength of this billy goat, when in a frenzy.  I also learned much more about how quickly animals can take control and that there is a safety in understanding why certain animals act in certain ways.  This gave me a new found respect for them and the power they have.

We also had a mean rooster that we ended up getting rid of ( think it could have fought in cock fights).  I believe I talked about raising chickens in a previous post...  I was responsible for gathering eggs and feeding them as well.  As a person can guess with raising animals as well as with pets people get attached.  There were a number of our animals I really liked and spent a fair amount of time with.  Because I really liked a number of our animals, it was very difficult when I had to learn to kill animals so we could prepare them for meals and for stores where we sometimes sold the meat.  I remember learning to prepare chickens and rabbits and other animals for food.  We had a chopping block where we would have to cut the heads off of the fowls, and when preparing rabbits I had to learn to break their necks so they could die as painlessly as possible.  I even learned to work with bigger animals like goats and deer and cows.  However I will not go into any gruesome details.

Although it may not make a lot of sense these experiences taught me to show love and respect for the animals, and to care for them as creations of God in a way that I knew of their sacrifices and that they were caring for our needs.  This taught me that life is precious and to be cared for.  I learned through these and other experiences of the love God has for his creations and I have tried to have the same respect as I live my life.  This passed over into hunting and the care of other animals as well.  

I am in no way an animal activist, but I respect and care for animals as a creation of God.  I care for the world and my brothers and sisters and all of God's creations.  I echo the thoughts of Adam that the world is glorious and beautiful.

One more experience...  We used to have a few doberman pinscher puppies and one day while driving up into the mountains we stopped by a river.  To make a long story short one of the puppies fell into the river and we had to rush to get it out.  I loved those puppies and although all worked out well, I worried for those puppies and know things could have turned out much different.  I got in trouble for not watching them the way I should have, if I remember right I was told not to take them out of the car and decided to ignore the warning.  I was scared enough by the experience that I was much more careful when intrusted with a task of caring for them from that point on.

Through each of these experiences I learned more of trust, of differences and to respect them, of dedication and persistence.  I was tried, but I learned much from the experiences of my youth and I am very grateful for them.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hearing the voice of God

I have recently watched the Women's session of conference and have thoroughly enjoyed it.  Link to Women's Session of Conference  My oldest daughter was one of those that was able to attend for the first time.  As I think of her standing and singing, and learning in her youth from the words of general leadership that will bless her life forever, my thoughts turn to my wife, and then my other children. 

I love General Conference time!!!  I share my testimony that I know that God speaks through our prophet and other leaders and he does so twice yearly to the world.  With my hundreds and even thousands of people I know through this blog, and other social media.  I hope you will take time to listen to this conference.  General Conference Link  The conference will take place this Saturday and Sunday over multiple segments and can be listened to after the fact as well.  As you think about this and if you decide to listen I would encourage you to do two things.

First, Pray to God about a question you may have. 

It can be anything.  As you listen you will get the answer to your question.  I know that this is true, and encourage you to share your thoughts and feelings after the fact, if you would like.  As you listen to the talks given the answer will most likely come in a few ways.  Something specifically said that answers your question.  The answer may be given as you think on something that was said or that you feel.  The answer may come in direct revelation from God.  This means you may simply know the answer and that it is your answer, or a thought may come to your mind with the answer, you may have other ways in which this answer is given, but I know God answers questions and wants us to know Him.

Second, think about one thing you can do in your life that will bring you closer to God and Christ.

If you will find one thing that you hear that will bring you closer to God and work on it I know you will find strength that you never knew you had, and that you will feel God in your life and have a stronger desire to know Him more.

For those that have read my blog previously you already know some of the things that have brought me closer to God and strengthened my relationship with a loving Father in Heaven.  For those that have not you are welcome to read, and comment on anything I have written, and even ask for more details or specifics.  I will say I may not give them unless prompted by the spirit to do so, but I will do all I can to answer your questions.

Enjoy General Conference, and again share your feelings and thoughts.  My blog is here to allow discussion and to help others find the joy that life can bring in all it's splendor.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Added Capabilities

I have recently added some new capabilities to my blog including search capabilities, and translate capabilities for those from other areas of the world.  I have also standardized the blog more to the norms of other sites visited.  If there are any other changes that you see that might be wanted or appreciated let me know and I will seriously consider them all.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Memories in Taylorsville

The home I lived in the most while in my youth was the home in Taylorsville Utah.  Most of my memories come from this home and they are plentiful.  I want to talk a little about some of these memories.

Some of my biggest memories are digging holes and trying to make an underground castle like in Voltron.  Riding our horse and pony, playing with the goats and butting heads with them, collecting eggs from our chickens, and other experiences with our dogs, and cats and other animals.  Pole vaulting, high jumping, running track and jumping hurdles, riding skateboards, sledding down hills, and bouncing on the trampoline.  All of these are cherished memories and things I look back on with happiness and joy.

This post may not get many hits, but I want the record for my family, and for me it is nice to look back and think about this time of my life.

I will expound on a few of these memories in no order, just as they come to my mind.  I remember sledding down a pretty steep hill we used to go to in the winter since we could get some great speed on it.  The down side of this hill was that at the bottom of it was a ditch.  We had to either get enough speed to jump it, or we had to stop before we got to it or we would get soaked by the frozen water.  I remember getting soaked and having to head home freezing, because of this ditch.  The hill was still our favorite place to go sledding.  There was a little home at the top and to the left of the hill where the owners of the property lived.  I tend to remember them not really liking us being on their property to sled.  I think they were afraid we would get hurt.  I can see why they would have felt that way now that I am older.  At the time as a youth it was an annoyance to try to avoid.  It also kind of added a suspense to sledding there.

I remember we used to have our trampoline out in front of our house and we would jump off the roof and onto it and then do flips off of it onto the ground.  (Maybe I should keep these stories hidden from my children until they are older).  We would do all kinds of tricks and I think we got to where we could do doubles and other fun tricks on the trampoline, after jumping off the roof.  Well one time we got very daring and decided we were going to move it out onto the basketball court behind the house and jump off the two story house next to ours to get more height. Our babysitter decided to go first and she jumped off the roof, unfortunately she went through the trampoline and hit the pavement below.  The good news was the trampoline broke her fall before she hit the ground and she wasn't hurt.  The downside we couldn't use the trampoline for quite some time again until we could replace the mat.

Another fond memory is that there was a large field behind our house after going through our corral and jumping a fence there was a much larger field and ditch back there.  This is not the story I was going to tell, but since it is on my mind I am changing directions.  We used to play in the ditch quite often and there were a few water pipes that went underground.  I remember we used to take a big breath and then go through the water pipes until we surfaced at the other end, and could again breath.
As I look back on my childhood I am amazed I am still alive to tell these stories.  I was crazy!!! 

So to the next story, in this large field a person that lived about 8 houses down the bigger street from us was a pretty big time skateboarder (at least I thought so).  He built a half pipe behind his home in this large field and we would watch him do his tricks quite often.  I really wanted to do it and he let us on a few times, but most of the time it wasn't allowed and so we turned to other skateboarding.  We would skate down the pavement of the other side of the hill we would sled down in the winter.  We would get going pretty fast, probably 20-30 miles per hour, and our skateboards would start to wobble before got to the bottom of the hill.  One day as we were doing this I was most of the way down this hill and hit a rock and slid for quite a ways on the concrete.  My body was so ripped up from the crash that I had to wear gauze padding over most of my body for around a month if I remember right, and I don't think we ever skateboarded down the hill again after that.  We did talk about it and I even got tempted, but never did do it again.

This same hill had a very steep decline, and my father would sometimes take us off of it in the car or motorcycle at 40-50 miles per hour so we would catch air and get butterflies in our stomachs.  We would look down and see the valley below and feel like we were going to fall until we hit the street again and would slow down before the road ended down below.  I can remember a few things about this, but will simply say the memories were amazing, and I truly loved them.

Another memory I will write about is when I was breaking my horse.  We had a tree out in our field and we would sometimes climb it or swing on the branches.  In this memory those branches ended up being my enemy.  I was riding my horse and he decided he was not wanting to be ridden at this time, but I wanted to show him I was in charge and got on and rode anyway.  We went around the corral a few times and then he headed for the tree and ran right under it and ducked clipping me right off his back with one of the lower hanging branches and I ended up on the ground with the air knocked out of me.  I suppose I was lucky to not have gotten hurt more.

We used to high jump and pole vault out in our corral as well and that was where we would jump hurdles, and run. and dig holes...  One day while we were out pole vaulting I decided to raise the bar and go for a new high.  The bad thing was that we didn't have real pads behind the bar, we only had a few old mattresses, and not only did I clear the bar, but also cleared the mattresses and landed on my back on the hard ground of the corral.  I honestly thought I was going to die, I think it took me around 30-45 seconds before I could catch my breath.  To me it seemed like 5 minutes.  I had enough time to stand up once I realized what was going on, and run toward the house in pure panic.  I remember thinking I would die because I couldn't breath.  After climbing over the fence my breath finally caught and I ran to my dad sobbing.

Perhaps I will share more experiences from this time in my life in another post, but for now I need to wrap up and save them for later.

A taste of the stories are getting attacked by our billy goat, our mean rooster, preparing chickens, raising rabbits, and some memories with our dogs (dog getting pulled down the river).

Hope everyone enjoyed this post, if so let me know and I will gladly read and reply to your comments.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Trial by fire... When our house burned to the ground.

The next big item I think I should write about in my life was when our house in Taylorsville burned down, and we pretty much lost all of our worldly goods.  There have been a few times in my life where I have lost most of my worldly possessions, this is the first I remember.  I will also touch on another as I write this blog entry.

When I was around 9 years old we lived in a house in Taylorsville Utah.  I have more of my memories of my youth in this home than any other.  I will write an entire blog entry at some point on some of the memories of this home and the multiple experiences I had there, but for now I will just touch on some I didn't plan on putting into that post.  My mind is flooded with memories and they vary from catching dragonflies and spiders and mice, to stepping on nails, to blowing up watermelons, hanging out in the root cellar behind our house, skateboarding down the hill by our house, sledding, catching catfish in the Jordan river...  It seems I could likely write a full post of memories just looking back.

That being said Some of my greatest memories were that I excelled in scouting and earned every award I possibly could as a cub scout.  We had many pictures, and all the things that come with having lived in a home for years.  So back to the story...

One Summer day as we were out playing we had started the BBQ grill and it was getting hot and ready to cook with, while we played.  We had a back storage area behind our house that we filled with excess papers from our paper routes and would take them to be recycled from time to time in order to make a little extra money, we probably had at least a few truckloads at the time of the fire.

We had some struggles with some of our neighbors over animals and other disagreements.  Some that stick out the most is our horse getting out of it's corral, and people being annoyed at us (the children in our family) being all over around the neighborhood.  I am sure there was more than this, but these stick out to me.  I also remember one of my uncles came over to our house to beat up my father, and my mother hitting him with the broom until he left.  At a minimum it can be said there were hard feelings going around. 

The day the fire happened, I saw one of our neighborhood boys jump our fence and run to his house.  I headed into the yard wondering what was going on and the BBQ grill was tipped over onto the newspapers behind the house.  We tried frantically to put out the fire but it spread far too quickly and the home burned to the ground, before the fire department showed up and put it out. 

We cannot say for certain that the neighborhood boy had tipped over the grill, and at this point it doesn't really matter.  There was a breeze that day, and we determined that day that whether there was malice or not we were not going to push after it.

On the downside, I lost almost all pictures of my youth and everything we had as a family.  For a while it was pure shock.  I just didn't know what we were going to do and everything was gone.  We moved to another home and moved on with our lives, and from the experience I truly learned that you can lose all of your worldly possessions and still make due.  We were very grateful that all of our family was safe and nobody was injured or harmed.

I also learned that people are generally good and want to help those that are struggling.  I believe we received most of our needs through the kindness and donations and help of others during this time. 

I will write shortly about one other time in my life when I lost everything as far as worldly possessions are concerned.  This is not nearly as dramatic and was at least to a degree my own fault.

I was around 18 or 19 at the time and had amassed quite a large video collection as well as  many other items from my life.  Some of the most precious were my trophies from martial arts competitions and the electronics I had bought.  That being said I was in a rather precarious situation in my life and was living in Georgia.  I had fallen back into some of previous struggles and was not the man I needed to be to put it simply.  I had at least in part returned to church activity, but was with the wrong crowd and still really struggling.  I will write a few posts about this period of my life at some later point.

To make a long story short I was contacted by my parents who were living in Arizona at the time and they offered to take me in.  I couldn't take all my belongings with me across the country, so I ended up leaving them with friends, and by the time we could go back for them, many months later they were no longer where they had previously been.

There are a number of things I learned from these experiences, and the first is that worldly possessions hold very little to no importance when it comes to the grand scheme of things.  It is very hard to lose them especially at the time, and often I would wonder how I would ever recover.  However now both experiences are just memories and there is very little I miss from the possessions.  In the place of those items however is a strong understanding that it is more important to be kind and loving and patient than to have nice things.  That it is far more critical to learn to be humane than to seek revenge or to let hate fester and destroy happiness.  I learned that often times we put our trust in the things we have, rather than the people we are and can become.

I have often heard elderly people say it's just stuff, when a beautiful object is broken or damaged by a child, and I know that perspective came at a cost.  I am grateful to have gained these perceptions earlier in life than some.  They have blessed and strengthened me and others when hard times come, and have built an appreciation for the people in my life that mean so much.  I am grateful for the chance to lift others and help them in their times of need.  I have learned more of the perceptions of a loving Heavenly Father that only wants to build us up and help us become like him, and help us attain his attributes in our lives.