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Showing posts from 2013

10 Uplifting Quotes For the Depressed Heart

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Here are a few of my favorite quotes to read when I'm depressed or going through hard times. Please feel free to add your own inspiring quotes in the comments section. Let's make a list of all the best quotes so we can help anyone that's struggling with depression. Also, the video below is rather inspiring. I thought you might like it. :) 1. "Getting better from depression demands a lifelong commitment. I’ve made that commitment for my life’s sake and for the sake of those who love me." —Susan Polis Schutz 2. "A pearl is a beautiful thing that is produced by an injured life. It is the tear [that results] from the injury of the oyster. The treasure of our being in this world is also produced by an injured life. If we had not been wounded, if we had not been injured, then we will not produce the pearl." —Stephan Hoeller 3. "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be streng

Make Retreat Impossible - Burn Your Ships!

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A few years ago, a friend of mine sent this poem to me. I haven't been able to find its source, but its meaning is profound. The speaker is telling his audience—presumably an army—to burn their ship, giving them no hope of retreat. It's do or die. The only hope of returning home is through victory. When we have goals, we must, in a sense, "burn our ships" and make our retreat impossible. Burn the fleet by thrice, in this dark night we stand or we fall, we are kings now, or nothing at all. Check your armour, light up the torch, touch the flame to the sail before you head to the shore and we will burn the fleet. We can never go home, it's on to victory or underground burn the fleet, we'll be hero's or ghosts, but we won't be turned around. The old flag will burn with the sail and a new one won't fly if we fail. But the fire continues to rise and it shows not a hint of any fear in our eyes.

You Are the Trip I Did Not Take

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You Are The Trip I Did Not Take You are the trip I did not take; You are the pearls I could not buy; You are my blue Italian lake; You are my piece of foreign sky. “You are my Honolulu moon; you are the book I did not write; You are my heart’s unuttered tune; You are a candle in my night. You are the flower beneath the snow, In my dark sky a bit of blue, Answering Disappointment’s blow With “I am happy! I have you!” Anne Campbell   When my sister Jaimie read that poem she wrote this: “Too often in life we think about what we don’t have or have not done—instead of what we have.  We think that in order to be satisfied and feel pure joy we need to travel the world, run faster and further than anyone else, and do more than anyone you know.  This is simply not true. Happiness comes from knowing love.”

The First Christmas Homily of Pope Francis | Full Text

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Pope Francis Below is the FULL text of Pope Francis' first Christmas Homily. Beautiful. Simply beautiful. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:1). This prophecy of Isaiah never ceases to touch us, especially when we hear it proclaimed in the liturgy of Christmas night. This is not simply an emotional or sentimental matter. It moves us because it states the deep reality of what we are: a people who walk, and all around us – and within us as well – there is darkness and light. In this night, as the spirit of darkness enfolds the world, there takes place anew the event which always amazes and surprises us: the people who walk see a great light. A light which makes us reflect on this mystery: the mystery of walking and seeing. Walking: this verb makes us reflect on the course of history, that long journey which is the history of salvation, starting with Abraham, our father in faith, whom the Lord called one day to set out, to go forth from his co

"In Thy Dark Streets Shineth"

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“Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Franklin D. Roosevelt speaks to a crowd on Christmas. Behind him stands Sir Winston Churchill. If you must know, Sir Winston Churchill is one of my heroes. In fact, I'd say that he's pretty darn near the top of my list. Not far down on that same list you'll find FDR, the American President that led the country through the Great Depression and through the darker days of World War II. Neither of these men were perfect, but they certainly had many admirable qualities—not the least of which was the ability to inspire men and women during the darkest of times. In December of 1941, during the heat of the second World War, Winston Churchill traveled to the United States at great risk to his personal safety. After lighting the White House Christmas tree, the two leaders spoke to the crowd that had gathered. “Our strongest weapon in this terrible war,

I Thank God for Unanswered Prayers

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Garth Brooks I've heard it said that if you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans. Personally, I think I've made God laugh so many times that, for a time, I completely gave up planning and just set my boat adrift.  I've had a lot of unanswered prayers in my life, but I think my biggest one matches the words (almost verbatim) of Garth Brook's immortal song "Unanswered Prayers." While thinking about the lyrics to this song today, I couldn't help but think about my wife, "and then and there I thanked the good Lord for the gifts in my life." Unanswered Prayers Just the other night at a hometown football game My wife and I ran into my old high school flame And as I introduced them the past came back to me And I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be She was the one that I'd wanted for all times And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine And if he'd only gran

How A Lie Can Destroy a Life

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Fyodor Dostoevsky is one of my favorite authors. I recently finished re-reading one of his short stories entitled, " The Dream of a Ridiculous Man ." In the story, a man who is contemplating suicide falls asleep and dreams that he is taken to another world. The inhabitants of this world live in an idllic or sinless state (much like Eden) and he lives with them for many years, amazed at their utopian society. One day, the narrator accidentally teaches the inhabitants how to lie, introducing sin into their society. The narrator then watches as their paradise disintegrates. I thought that several paragraphs from the story were particularly interesting: They began to struggle for separation, for isolation, for individuality, for mine and thine. They began to talk in different languages. They became acquainted with sorrow and loved sorrow; they thirsted for suffering, and said that truth could only be attained through suffering. Then science appeared. As they became wick

10 Inspiring Leap-of-Faith Quotes!

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I took a gigantic leap of faith today—one that I've been considering for a while. I've been extremely apprehensive about the whole thing. The choice has essentially been between 1) total security and 2) the possibility of achieving my dreams. Just the possibility, mind you. Absolutely zero guarantees. As I was debating these two choices, I read several quotes online that inspired me to take the leap. Here are ten of my favorites (and wish me luck on the leap—no guarantees, but a whole lot of adventure!) "There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing." (Aristotle) "I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough." (Marissa Mayer) "Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only p

Hatred is a Lie

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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Here's a little quote that will twist your brain around. But in a good way! :) "But let us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Between them lies the most intimate, the deepest of natural bonds. Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood, falsehood its only support in violence. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his method must inexorably choose falsehood as his principle. At its birth violence acts openly and even with pride. But no sooner does it become strong, firmly established, than it senses the rarefaction of the air around it and it cannot continue to exist without descending into a fog of lies, clothing them in sweet talk. It does not always, not necessarily, openly throttle the throat, more often it demands from its subjects only an oath of allegiance to falsehood, only complicity in falsehood." (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)

A REAL Love Poem

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I present to you one of the sweetest love poems ever written. It's sweet because it's real . Love Poem by John Frederick Nims (1913-1999) My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases, At whose quick touch all glasses chip and ring, Whose palms are bulls in china, burs in linen, And have no cunning with any soft thing Except all ill-at-ease fidgeting people: The refugee uncertain at the door You make at home; deftly you steady The drunk clambering on his undulant floor. Unpredictable dear, the taxi drivers’ terror, Shrinking from far headlights pale as a dime Yet leaping before apopleptic streetcars— Misfit in any space. And never on time. A wrench in clocks and the solar system. Only With words and people and love you move at ease; In traffic of wit expertly maneuver And keep us, all devotion, at your knees. Forgetting your coffee spreading on our flannel, Your lipstick grinning on our coat, So gaily in love’s unbreak

Tuesdays With Morrie and The Little Wave

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Tuesdays with Morrie I just finished listening to Tuesdays With Morrie . It's a great book and I highly recommend it. It really puts your life into perspective.  Towards the end of the book, as Morrie is getting ever so close to death, he shares a short story about a little wave. I thought it was interesting because it illustrates how we are all part of a much larger scheme of life. “Okay. The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He's enjoying the wind and the fresh air-until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore. "My God, this is terrible," the wave says. "Look what's going to happen to me!"    Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, "Why do you look so sad?"   The first wave says, "You don't understand! We're all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn't it terrible?

The Business of Jacob Marley

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Jacob Marley As Christmas is rapidly approaching, I thought I'd post what I believe to be the best passage from that immortal classic. In this scene, Jacob Marley is visiting Ebenezer Scrooge and is lamenting the opportunities he lost to serve mankind. Scrooge replies: "But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.   "Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again.  "Mankind was my business.  The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.  The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"   It held up its chain at arm's length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again.   "At this time of the rolling year," the spectre said "I suffer most.  Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my

It's Official: My Book Will Be Published!

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I'm so very excited to officially announce that my book has been accepted by Berrett-Koehler Publishers and will be published next year!! Click here to learn more about it! One of my favorite Ben Franklin quotes!

Is it Good Luck or is it Bad Luck? | A Fable

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The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman This short fable from The Way of the Peaceful Warrior , by Dan Millman, really makes me think. Can the things that happen to us really be considered good or bad? You decide... An old man and his son worked a small farm, with only one horse to pull the plow. One day, the horse ran away. “How terrible,” sympathized the neighbors. “What bad luck.” “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” answered the old man.   A week later, the horse returned form the mountains, leading five wild mares into the barn. “What wonderful luck!” said the neighbors.  “Who knows whether it is bad luck or good luck,” the farmer replied.  The next day, the son, trying to tame one of the horses, fell and broke his leg.  “How terrible. What bad luck!”  “Bad luck? Good luck?”  The army came to all the farms to take the young men for war. The farmer’s son was of no use to them, so he was spared.  “Good? Bad?” 

The Light of a Narnian Lamppost

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"It will not go out of my mind that if we pass this post and lantern, either we shall find strange adventures or else some great changes of our fortunes." ― Lucy Pevensie Rates are reasonable. I love the feel of December, don't you? Perhaps we call it "the most wonderful time of the year" because it's a time when most of us feel more like children. Christmas has this magical ability to bring back nostalgic memories of bygone days while simultaneously generating newer, warmer memories. It's like a cup of hot chocolate for the heart! One of my favorite memories of Christmas is when, at the age of seven, I opened my stocking to find a cartoon version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe . Although the cartoon was poorly done, my seven-year-old self couldn't get enough of it! Every Christmas, I would watch it over and over again. There was just something in the story of which I couldn't get enough (mostly, I just wanted to find

To Hunger for Revenge

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The Count of Monte Cristo, my favorite movie. :) A friend of mine (who is also a counselor) once told me that "humans, crave revenge. To us, it's almost a sensual, pleasurable thing. A movie or a book is not satisfying to us unless the villain 'gets what he deserves.'" I've pondered what he said for a while now. I believe it's true. Some of the coolest movies are the movies in which the villain receives the most poetic/dramatic death (right now, I'm picturing the final fight from the movie Gladiator —that guy had it coming!). Without question or dispute, my favorite movie is The Count of Monte Cristo (I'm sorry, but the movie sooo much better than the book. Believe me, I read the UNABRIDGED version. I know what I'm talking about!!). I was watching the movie today as I finished remodeling our living room. In it, Edmund Dantes spends almost sixteen years plotting revenge against the people that betrayed him. As his hunger for revenge

Transforming Depression Into a Blessing

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In his book, The Road Less Travelled , psychiatrist M. Scott Peck explained how even our heaviest burdens (including mental illness) can become our greatest blessings. All we need to do is accept our condition and undertake the necessary steps to heal ourselves. … these painful, and unwanted symptoms of mental illness, are manifestations of grace, the products of a ‘powerful force originating outside of consciousness which nurtures our spiritual growth.’ As is common with grace, most reject this gift and do not heed the message. They do this in a variety of ways, all of which represent an attempt to avoid the responsibility for their illness. Usually, in many subtle ways, they will blame the world outside them – uncaring relatives, false friends, greedy corporations, a sick society, and even fate – for their condition. Only those few, who accept responsibility for their symptoms, heed the message of their unconscious and accept its grace.  The relationship between grace and ment

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

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George Washington The followingThanksgiving proclamation was made by President George Washington on Oct. 3, 1789. What are your thoughts about it? Are we keeping or missing the true intent of Thanksgiving? Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness": Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Auth

What If God Was One of Us?

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For some reason, I've been thinking a lot about a short story by Leo Tolstoy. It's called "Where Love is, There God is Also." It's one of my favorites. I'd summarize it for you, but perhaps it would be better if I just let you watch it? I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

What Causes Depression?

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As someone who suffers from depression, I was intrigued by M. Scott Peck's description of depression in The Road Less Traveled. According to him, depression is sometimes what we experience as we are giving up our "old self." “Since mentally healthy human beings must grow, and since giving up or loss of the old self is an integral part of the process of mental and spiritual growth, depression is a normal and basically healthy phenomenon. It becomes abnormal or unhealthy only when something interferes with the giving-up process, with the result that the depression is prolonged and cannot be resolved by completion of the process.” (Wisdom from The Road Less Traveled, 2001). I just read that today, but I can see where it makes sense. Part of growing up means letting go of the old and accepting the new. The times when I have been the most depressed have been the times when I have tried to hold on to the past—but the past cannot be held. As a result of my inability to rec

What Is Love, Love?

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Baby don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. No more. A good friend of mine recently recommended that I read "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck. So I started listening to it today while at work (my job facilitates my addiction to audiobooks). I gotta admit, it's a pretty amazing book. While I could certainly talk about a number of things he mentions, I really enjoyed some of his comments on love. Here are a few of my favorite quotations: “Love is the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth... Love is as love does. Love is an act of will -- namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”  “Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional. The person who truely loves does so because of a decision to love. This person has made a commitment to be loving whether or not the loving feeling is present. ...Conversely, it is not on

A Simple Way to Influence Others (Without Controlling Them)

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The Wind and The Sun Today, I heard this wonderful little tale from Aesop's Fables . It's a short story that teaches a profound principle. THE NORTH WIND and the Sun disputed as to which was the most powerful, and agreed that he should be declared the victor who could first strip a wayfaring man of his clothes.  The North Wind first tried his power and blew with all his might, but the keener his blasts, the closer the Traveler wrapped his cloak around him, until at last, resigning all hope of victory, the Wind called upon the Sun to see what he could do.  The Sun suddenly shone out with all his warmth.  The Traveler no sooner felt his genial rays than he took off one garment after another, and at last, fairly overcome with heat, undressed and bathed in a stream that lay in his path.   The moral of the story? Persuasion is better than force .

Overwhelmed by Mercy in The Brothers Karamazov

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Dostoyevsky—the original hipster. Today, after two years of starting and stopping, I finally finished what has to be the most dreadfully boring, insanity-inducing, mind-numbingly painful audio recording of The Brothers Karamazov— ever created . Having a deep appreciation for all things Dostoevsky, I purchased this Satan-inspired recording, hoping to finally read and understand this classic. Shortly after I started listening to it, I realized that I had made a horrible, unalterable mistake. Had this unabridged audio recording persisted for another hour, I am certain that I would have skewered my eardrums with a nail. Alas, compared to the narrator's voice, a nail would have been a sweet mercy. Be that as it may, I did manage to glean a few good things from Dostoyevsky's Magnum Opus . One of my favorite parts comes from Fetyukovich, Dmitri's lawyer. In defense of the accused Dmitri, Fetyukovich asks the jury to acquit Dmitri, even if they think he's guilty. H

Charles Dickens and The Power of Encouragement

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Charles Dickens I've always been impressed by the power of encouragement—by using our words to inspire someone to believe in themselves. About a year ago, while driving from San Francisco to Utah, I finished listening to How to Win Friends and Influence People . In that book, Dale Carnegie shares this touching story: "In the early nineteenth century, a young man in London aspired to be a writer. But everything seemed to be against him. He had never been able to attend school more than four years. His father had been flung in jail because he couldn't pay his debts, and this young man often knew the pangs of hunger. Finally, he got a job pasting labels on bottles of blacking in a rat-infested warehouse, and he slept at night in a dismal attic room with two other boys - guttersnipes from the slums of London. He had so little confidence in his ability to write that he sneaked out and mailed his first manuscript in the dead of night so nobody would laugh at him. Story a

A Beautiful Love Quote by Charles Dickens

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A painting of my wife, created by Howard Lyon www.HowardLyon.com My favorite quote on love comes from Great Expectations , by Charles Dickens. I shared it with my wife shortly before we were married. "You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read...You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since - on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be."

Welcome to The Alaskan Muse!

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Hello! Hello! And welcome to The Alaskan Muse (moose, muse, get it?): a blog of my literal, literary adventures. Oh, don't give me that face! C'mon, it'll be fun! Here I will be posting daily selections from literary classics coupled with my insights (because you can totally put those two side-by-side, right?). So check back every day, I promise it'll be epic . See, here's an epic picture of me standing in Alaska and staring off into the distance. What more epic proof could you ask for? Epic Alaska!

13 SCARY Stories for Halloween

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Edgar just hopes the bird doesn't poop. In honor of Halloween (the greatest holiday ever invented), I thought I'd present a list of some of thirteen classic scary, short stories. I hope you don't mind that all of my choices come from American Literature. It's not because I'm intentionally favoring American Literature (which I am), but it's because I believe America that successfully co-opted Halloween with Pumpkins, Edgar Allan Poe, and Hershey's chocolate. "A Rose for Emily"  by William Faulkner "The Black Cat"  by Edgar Allan Poe "Rip Van Winkle"  by Washington Irving  "Young Goodman Brown"  by Nathaniel Hawthorne "The Golden Arm"  by Mark Twain "Hop-Frog"  by Edgar Allan Poe "The Minister's Black Veil"  by Nathaniel Hawthorne  "The Tell-Tale Heart"  by Edgar Allan Poe " The Lottery"  by Shirley Jackson "A Cask of Amontillado"  by Edgar Al

The 12 Days of Halloween - Day I

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Autumn in Utah, DGF Halloween is, without question, my favorite holiday. "Why is that?" you may ask. Well, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I was raised in Alaska then later transplanted to the continental US. This radical change in geography made me suddenly aware of something that my two-season Alaskan homeland had denied me my whole life: Autumn. Yes, Autumn! That glorious season of beautiful leaves, pumpkin pies, sweaters, scary stories, apple cider, and the smells of harvest (news flash, Edward Pola and George Wyle: Christmas is NOT the most wonderful time of the year—AUTUMN is! You can take your commercialized Yule Tide and stuff it in a pumpkin)! The introduction of Autumn into my childhood was as though Mother Nature herself had come to me and said:  "Here, Seth, I really want you to enjoy this season. It has a wide variety of unique colors, tastes, and emotions. Most people get about 90 Autumns in their lives. You'v

Is Your Life Better Than Napoleon's?

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I am always moved by these words written by Robert G. Ingersoll, an American political leader and orator. Deeply profound. A little while ago I stood by the grave of Napoleon, a magnificient tomb of gilt and gold, fit almost for a dead deity, and gazed upon the sarcophagus of black Egyptian marble where rests at last the ashes of the restless man. I leaned over the balustrade and thought about the career of the greatest soldier of the modern world.  I saw him walking upon the banks of the Seine contemplating suicide; I saw him at Toulon; I saw him putting down the mob in the streets of Paris; I saw him at the head of the army of Italy; I saw him crossing the bridge at Lodi with the tricolor in his hand; I saw him in Egypt in the shadows of the pyramids; I saw him conquer the Alps and mingle the eagle of France with the eagles of the crags. I saw him at Marengo, at Ulm and Austerlitz. I saw him in Russia, where the infantry of the snow and the cavalry of the wild blast scattered hi

Photographed For A Temple Mural

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Being photographed by Howard Lyon On 18 April, Kim and I had the AMAZING opportunity of being photographed. Now, some of you might not be thrilled at the prospect of being photographed, but that's probably because you haven't been photographed under the proper conditions. Here are the proper conditions: 1. You must be photographed by a professional artist. 2. Those photographs must be used for a Temple mural. Well, whaddaya know?! Kim and I met both of those qualifications last Thursday! A few months ago, I found out that my friend, Howard Lyon , was asked by the Church to do the murals for the Gilbert, Arizona Temple . He asked me if Kim and I were interested in being photographed for one of those murals. I believe my answer came out in stutters. So Kim and I planned a work trip around the photo shoot drove out to Arizona last Wednesday and posed for The Sermon on the Mount . How cool is that?!? During the shoot, Howard said something that I think is wo

Does the Love of God Matter?

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Maya Angelou While driving home, I heard this wonderful quote from Maya Angelou, a Civil Rights' activist overcame many difficult experiences. I thought I would share it with you. "One day the teacher, Frederick Wilkerson, asked me to read to him. I was 24, very erudite, very worldly. He asked that I read from Lessons in Truth, a section which ended with these words: "God loves me." I read the piece and closed the book, and the teacher said, "Read it again." I pointedly opened the book, and I sarcastically read, "God loves me." He said, "Again." After about the seventh repetition I began to sense that there might be truth in the statement, that there was a possibility that God really did love me. Me, Maya Angelou. I suddenly began to cry at the grandness of it all. I knew that if God loved me, then I could do wonderful things, I could try great things, learn anything, achieve anything. For what could stand against me with God, sin

Finding Family at A Russian-American Wedding

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Jake and Galena Today I had the honor of attending the beautiful wedding ceremony of my Russian friend, Galena, to her American husband, Jake. The word 'beautiful' doesn't do it justice. It was a moment of pure grace and rapture—a spiritually transformative event. The wedding ceremony took place in the Salt Lake Temple and was officiated by Elder Paul B. Pieper , a humble, spiritual giant. As fate would have it, I sat next to Brother and Sister Sessions, a couple that served in my exact same mission (Vladivostok, Russia) at the exact same time as me. As soon as I sat down next to them, Sister Sessions did a double take and said: "Smith!" I did my best to hide the emotion as I responded to their questions. I was touched that after all these years, they had remembered the quiet Elder who had left the mission a year early. Shortly after I took my seat, Jake and Galena entered entered the room— what a lovely couple! —and the ceremony began. Tears sprang to