Saturday, January 31, 2009

One Of My Favorite Songs - Most Inspiring

"Come Unto Him"

This is a link to the music page on the Church website.

http://lds.org/mp3/display/0,18692,5297-50,00.html

Click on the song "Come Unto Him" and enjoy, then use your 'back' button to return to the blog.

I can play this over and over and over... and almost go to tears.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I guess this is freedom of speech...

This was e-mailed to me from a former bishop.

"Verily I say unto thee, she has her reward."

This will also go on my political blog - leftwingnuts.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

To Comfort Those Who Stand In Need Of Comfort...

Part of the essence of being a true Latter-Day Saint is to follow the admonition of Alma when he taught the people at the Waters of Mormon. In Mosiah 18:8-9 he taught what it meant to be 'disciples of Christ':

"8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life..."

In an earlier post I shared the experience of our son who lived only a few hours, and what a great spiritual experience it was to be able to give him a name and blessing in the hospital room before he returned to his heavenly home. Another touching part of the story is how our ward family stepped in to help our oldest child, a daughter, who was to celebrate her 16th birthday that same week.

Without being asked by us (we didn't even think about it under the circumstances), the young women leaders and girls of the ward threw a 'sweet 16' birthday party for our daughter. That doesn't sound like much in the big scheme of things, but it was huge to me, as an act of love and compassion. The ladies in our ward were anxiously engaged in a good work - they mourned with us when we had cause to mourn, the helped bear our burdens and indeed made them lighter. I will never forget that gift of a birthday party. It is one of those defining events that instilled in me a desire to serve God - by serving His children - throughout my life.

It is a blessing to be able to serve others. It is humbling and touching when you see that service come back to you.

Friday, January 23, 2009

You're Kidding! Is That POSSIBLE?

For those of us who follow the prophets of God, who listen to their counsel and don't naively consider them 'out of touch', here is the ultimate "DUH!" article about the signs of the times:

The article is titled "Teen pregnancies tied to tastes for sexy TV shows"

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Teen-pregnancies-tied-to-apf-13444689.html

For those to whom this is a 'revelation and not a review', please consider the fact that a prophet of God in our day has been warning us for DECADES about this stuff! Will it take OUR child getting pregnant before we see the connection between these sleezy shows, letting our daughters dress like prostitutes, and staying out with friends too late at night, especially unsupervised?

For those who might think the modern prophets are out of touch, I refer you to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's and his October 2006 General Conference address:

"Not often but over the years some sources have suggested that the Brethren are out of touch in their declarations, that they don’t know the issues, that some of their policies and practices are out-of-date, not relevant to our times.
As the least of those who have been sustained by you to witness the guidance of this Church firsthand, I say with all the fervor of my soul that never in my personal or professional life have I ever associated with any group who are so in touch, who know so profoundly the issues facing us, who look so deeply into the old, stay so open to the new, and weigh so carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully everything in between. I testify that the grasp this body of men and women have of moral and societal issues exceeds that of any think tank or brain trust of comparable endeavor of which I know anywhere on the earth. I bear personal witness of how thoroughly good they are, of how hard they work, and how humbly they live. It is no trivial matter for this Church to declare to the world prophecy, seership, and revelation, but we do declare it. It is true light shining in a dark world, and it shines from these proceedings."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A special birthday today...

Nine years ago today, my wife gave birth to our son, Grant Alexander Carpenter. Grant died in my arms four and a half hours later. Sounds like a tragedy, right? Far from it... instead it was one of the greatest spiritual experiences I will ever have.

When my wife had her first ultrasound at 5 months pregnant, we found out that our 'coming event' had a very bad case of Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards Syndrome. His complications included an underdeveloped heart, spina bifida, and under developed limbs and joints. We found out that most infants with Trisomy 18 do not make it to birth, and of those who survive birth, none have been known to live beyond 14 years. We didn't know what to expect. I know families who have special-needs children, and my heart goes out to them for what they go through - what they sacrifice, the pain they feel for their child, the compulsory change in lifestyle.

When the day came for Grant to be born - by appointment, labor was induced under these circumstances - it was pretty somber entering the hospital. The medical staff was fantastic - they were professional and upbeat, yet they knew our situation and didn't act giddy and excited.

When Grant was born, his physical defects were obvious. At first I didn't know what to think. Should I be glad for his live birth? Should I be sad for his defects? Should I feel empathy for my wife, who would suffer through this more than I would? It was somewhat surreal. UltimatelyI just treated it like a normal birth.

Knowing that time with Grant might be short. I took pictures of him. But before that, I took care of some most important business...

Our doctor was a member of the church, a holder of the priesthood. My father-in-law is a sealer in the temple - he was there at the hospital. My father was late getting there and we couldn't take the chance and wait for him. So we took Grant in our arms right there in the hospital room, my father-in-law, Dr. Linnerson and myself, and I gave Grant his name and blessing. In the blessing, I told him that his time on earth was short, and that he had come to us only to gain a physical body, then to return home to his Heavenly Father. I commended him to his Father and ended the blessing. At that moment I felt that our hospital room was packed with people. My eyes could only see a half-dozen of them. But I knew, and felt, the presence of angels, there waiting to take our celestial son back home. It was the most incredible feeling - the veil between earth and eternity was so thin that I could literally feel the presence and love of many that I could not see.

Instead of Grant's short life being a hospital tragedy, it was an incredible spiritual experience, a profound teaching moment. I learned more about the Kingdom of God through that experience than I ever could anywhere else. The only time I have felt that same feeling was when I was at my own father's bedside when he drew his last breath. Another thin-veil experience. Knowing I have a son waiting for me there gives me added determination to 'make it back'.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"4:30 Disease" - A Test of Faith

What is the "4:30 Disease", you might ask? Why it's the same as the 3:15 disease our kids get on school days. You understand... school is out at 3:15, and that's when they suddenly feel much better after having stayed home sick that day. They don't want to miss out on playing with friends just because the couldn't go to school.

Tomorrow is Sunday, January 18th. Our Arizona Cardinals are playing in the NFC Chamionship game, with a chance to go to the Super Bowl. It just so happens that the game begins the same time Sacrament Meeting begins, at 1:00PM. The game should end at about 4:30... hence 4:30 disease. That's when the few guys I know of will suddenly 'feel better', having missed church due to some 'unforeseen ailment'.

Sorry if this is judgmental. I hope I'm wrong. But we live in a time and age where such demonstrations of little faith are frustrating. They hurt families. If the presiding priesthood holder in the home can't attend meetings and set a proper example for his family at an easy time like this, what will happen in the future when things actually get difficult?

Another Bedtime Story

I read another bedtime story to my 7-year-old daughter tonight. This time the book was pretty dull, frankly with a poor story line. Not a famous-name author. But I found that the quality of the book didn't matter as much as having the time to read with my daughter. My dad used to read with me a lot. I don't do it as much as I could, but I'm glad I do at least some. I know it's something my daughter will always remember about our relationship, as will I. Something little to be thankful for...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ahhh, Being a Dad...

I read 'Green Eggs and Ham' to my 7-year-old daughter at bedtime. Probably the highlight of my day...

For Those Of Us Who Voted Regarding Gay Marriage

As I sit in Priesthood Executive Committee meeting on Sunday morning, we go over the names of those who are less-active in the ward, the bishop asks about home-teaching efforts to those homes. It is interesting how a few of those who were only less-active a few months ago are now more hostile, and have asked (in noticeably increasing numbers) to have their names removed from the records of the church. I have found that the reason for many of these people is because of the Church's position on gay marriage. I personally find that to be disheartening for a couple of reasons. First, they are so distant spiritually not only from the Church as an institution, but from the Savior's plan of happiness and salvation. Gay marriage is an institution of this world, and cannot, by design or by natural law, be part of God's eternal plan for us. The bottom line always seems to come down to having the selfish, worldly perspective as opposed to the eternal perspective - the two are mutually exclusive. Secondly, and not surprisingly, there is a great correllation between those who go less active and tendencies toward political and social liberalism. Unless they have been offended by someone in the Church, their reasons for not attending are often that the Church is too restrictive, too stuffy, not up with the times, etc, all of which are signs of liberalism. It means to me that these less-active members are trusting the news media rather than the prophet, apostles, and local leaders. Interesting how the two paths of religious conviction and social/political philosophy never really diverge.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Humbling...

I spent most of my day volunteering at the local Deseret Industries thrift store. I paid attention to the people who work there. I took notice of the people who shop there. I looked closely at some of the merchandise - much of it with broken, worn out or missing pieces. I watched as small children played with broken or incomplete toys with almost as much excitement as if they had just opened it on Christmas morning. A lot of those toys were purchased. I actually saw some stuff that I had donated some time back. My heart sort of melted. I realized what a blessing it can be to see how life is for others. Just when I think life is tough, the Lord has a way of showing me how blessed I am. Someone always seems to have a bigger cross to bear than I do. So I smile at them, offer to help them, load the oversized items in their car, thank them for coming...and thank my Heavenly Father for my blessings.

Pepsi and The Word of Wisdom

There are certain gospel topics that are handled with the utmost of care. One of the most interesting and controversial, if not avoided, of these topics is that of caffeinated soft drinks. I suppose like anything else, I should only pass judgment on myself and let others be their own judges. Here, I will detail my own experience and the conclusion I arrived at.

I am a convert to the Church, having grown up attending the Presbyterian and Methodist churches. I was baptized at age 11 with my parents. And although 11 years old seems so young as to have been raised in the church, please keep in mind that I did not have the chance to learn the gospel in primary, or learn primary songs, or have family prayer or family home evening as a young child. Because of this I really didn't develop a testimony of the gospel until I was about 17 years old. The point here is that I grew up drinking a lot of Coke and Pepsi (and some beer before conversion), and thought nothing of it.

When I got to be in my late thirties and early forties, I began noticing the effects of drinking Pepsi.

First, there's the issue of addiction. Here is what I discovered about myself:
1. The more I drank, the more I wanted.
2. It got to the point where I was drinking up to four 44-ounce cups of Pepsi in a single day.
3. Sometimes I would look forward to the next morning so I could go buy another Pepsi.
4. I tried half-heartedly to quit several times, but always ended up going back to it.

Second, the issue of lifestyle:
5. I gained about 35 pounds. I lost that weight, but put it back on when I went back to drinking Pepsi.
6. I was always tired. I spent a lot of time resting when I should have been busy.
7. I found that the caffeine caused me to lose sleep at night, which contributed even more to always feeling tired.
8. The increase in my heart rate caused by the caffeine would cause me to breathe heavier. At night, the heavier breathing would cause me to snore.
9. I got sick more often when drinking a lot of Pepsi.

Finally, the physiological effects:
10. I found that when I drank a lot of Pepsi, my joints would ache more. I wondered if it was eating up the cartilage in my joints.
11. The increased heart rate can't be good. It makes me wonder how much sooner a person's heart might actually give out from being overworked earlier in life. I have had two close friends die of heart attacks in the last few years. They were 36 and 48. From all the tests I have had, my heart is fine, but how long would that last under the circumstances?
12. I found that I always had 'bathroom' problems when drinking a lot of Pepsi. I wondered if that could lead to future incontinence problems.
13. I found that my sexual drive and performance were affected when I was drinking a lot of Pepsi. That alone should make me kick the habit, right?

Despite all of this, I was one who would defend my drinking of Pepsi, claiming that the prophet has never said caffeinated soft drinks were prohibited, and was never specifically mentioned as were coffee, tea and alcohol. Recently in General Conference, President Boyd K. Packer spelled out five specific things which are prohibited by the Word of Wisdom: coffee, tea, tobacco, alcoholic beverages, and harmful drugs. Pepsi was not listed. Or was it?

First, I had to finally admit that I had become addicted. Addiction to anything would certainly fall under the spirit of the Word of Wisdom.

Secondly, I was not feeling energetic, motivated, or even well as often as I should. I could not 'run and not be weary', as promised by obedience to the Word of Wisdom.

Finally, I felt like I was slowly destroying my body. If my body is a temple of God, then willfully destroying it would be wrong.

In a recent Ensign article by Dr. Thomas J. Boud, who consults the Church on missionary medical issues, entitled "The Energy Drink Epidemic", found in the December 2008 issue. Although Pepsi is not an energy drink, it was interested in finding out Dr. Boud's findings on caffeine. The article is very interesting - here's the link to it:

http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=30952f9318fcd110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1

In a New Era article from October 1975, Bishop H. Burke Peterson say this about caffeinated soft drinks: "We know that cola drinks contain the drug caffeine. We know caffeine is not wholesome nor prudent for the use of our bodies. It is only sound judgment to conclude that cola drinks and any others that contain caffeine or other harmful ingredients should not be used."

So my personal conclusion is that, for me personally, Pepsi is history. I know that sounds silly to some who will read this. You might say you knew it all along. I fought the battle between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, until I finally gained enough spiritual maturity to accept the higher law - the spirit of the law in this case. This is not to juge others who may still drink caffeinated soft drinks. It's a personal decision. But for me to say, under the circumstances I have presented, that I was obeying the Word of Wisdom while being so addicted to Pepsi, and experiencing all of the negative effects, was nothing more than a lie.

I have been off of caffeinated Pepsi for several months. As a New Year's resolution, I also decided to quit drinking the caffeine-free pepsi/coke as well. I found in the past that it was too easy to slip back to the caffeinated variety. I want to create a greater distance from it.

The result so far is that I feel much healthier, the problems mentioned earlier are gone, I'm sleeping better, and the weight that I put on with the Pepsi addiction is coming off.

And to think that some people say that I will never grow up...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Following the Prophet? Really!!!

Recently a poll was conducted in our stake to find out who was really following the prophets' counsel in several areas. It was alarming to find out just what percentage of the families actually hold family scripture, family prayer, have family home evening, have their food storage (or least a respectable start on it), and so on.

When you are in a leadership position, you get a bird's-eye view of who is struggling in their faith and who is not. There seem to be direct connections between those who attend church, whose children are active or are on track to stay active, who hold temple recommends and use them - and those who follow the counsel given by our modern prophets. I find there is a close correlation between following the prophet, and those who have well-taught, well-behaved children, who attend their meetings consistently, who show up on ward/stake temple day, and who show up at service projects and help. Of course there are exceptions, lest anyone reading this should get offended. But they are exceptions, not exemptions.

In contrast, those who always seem to struggle with activity are those who give a casual ear to the prophets' counsel and fit it into their lives when convenient. I was recently home-teaching a sister who was so proud of the fact that she and another sister in our ward had just come home from a weekend in San Diego. They had a blast. The went shopping and laid on the beach - on Sunday. She was oblivious to the idea that others don't think it's cool or positive to break the Sabbath. I wondered if she has never actually experienced the peace and increase in spiritual strength that a 'day of rest' can bring. Long story short, this sister struggles with her faith and activity, as does the sister that accompanied her to San Diego that weekend.

I'm not perfect, but I try to follow Elder Oaks' example and not study law on Sunday. It really cramps the rest of my week, but I have come to believe that it's worth it. And, I don't sacrifice the time that I need to read scriptures or other uplifting books on Sunday.

Having visited with many of these families in their homes, you can also feel the Spirit in their homes, and you just know... it's about real faith.

I have also been amused by those who have recently purchased a new flat-screen TV. I'll bet the old TV worked fine, but it just wasn't as phat (that's cool, far out, or groovy for us older folks) as the neighbor's new home theater thingy. And, of course, they have cable TV, which they pay for each month. Not dissing cable, but...

I know a lot of people who haven't bothered to get their year's supply, or even get a good start, and yet they have the latest flat screen TV with a cable TV subscription. So it's a choice that they are making, in my opinion. They are choosing the world instead of the Lord. Jacob 2:18-19 teaches us that before we seek for riches, we should seek the Kingdom of God. Then, if we seek riches, we will seek them to glorify God. So am I wrong in detecting a lack of faith in those who would rather follow the neighbor and spend their year's supply money on a big fat TV, as opposed to those who would follow the prophet, get their year's supply first, use a perfectly good TV for another year or two, then get the big TV?

By the way, I don't have a big screen TV, but I DO have my year's supply.

Speak Your Mind!

This blog is for those of us in the LDS faith, who would like a forum to discuss things that might not be perfectly appropriate to discuss at church. Keep it clean, don't insult people or 'speak evil of the Lord's annointed'. Let's play nice.