Things that I am not afraid of... take it or leave it.

Here is what I am not scared of:
#1 Making a fool of myself. I have done it so much, but I will tell you now... my intentions are ALWAYS good. I may do stupid things that make it look like I'm an idiot, but the reason I did those things I will never be ashamed of.
#2 A little competition. There is nothing like battling through anything athletic and having little rivalries. I'm like that with any aspect in my life. I want to do things better, be better than the others, and fight to win. I love the competitive nature.
#3 Speaking my mind. So many people tell me "don't worry about what others think of you..." Um,... I don't have that problem. I say what I think, mean what I say. Some people can't handle truth and want everything sugar coated... or they expect you to walk a certain line, or play games. Not me. If I love you, I love you and I will tell you. If it bugs you that I do... the problem lies with you.
#4 Forgiveness. I wish that someday someone would understand how much I have had to forgive in my life... How much forgiveness I have needed in my life. It surprises people that I can move on and forgive... but here's the catch: I can spot B.S. from a mile away. If you want forgiveness it has to be sincere.
#5 Love. Sometimes I love too much, too soon... and I get hurt. But I have to remember that that does not mean I'm flawed... It means that someone else does not feel worthy of that love.... or they flat out don't want it. Just because I love you and you might not feel the same way doesn't mean that you have to be rude about it.
#6 the Truth. I know liars. I spot them from a mile away, and if I know you are lying I will drag it out of you. Hurting me with the truth is one thing, it is an entirely bigger deal if you hurt me with a lie... because I know. Even if I didn't know about it right when it happened, doesn't mean that I won't figure it out. I'm truthful... I expect it back.
#7 Respect. I respect motherhood, fatherhood, and a person's individual rights. What I do not respect is when one person controls or manipulates another because they know that they can... I cannot respect that. I respect those who give respect... and I give it until I see no reason to. I respect the respectful.
#8 Hard Work. I have gotten to where I have because of hard work. I put my energies to what I want to accomplish. I have worked incredibly hard through adversity, failures, and doubters... Again, I don't care what they think of me. I do what I want to do. I have always been able to achieve what I wanted. If my work ethic scares you... I'm sorry.
#9 Learning new things. I don't hunt or fish. I haven't at least... It doesn't mean that I don't want to learn... I'm a city boy... never had that opportunity. If I'm not as valuable on someone's list because I don't do everything they think I should, doesn't mean I'm less of a person. I'm always looking for more experiences.
#10 an Open Mind. I am so good at looking at things from both sides of the coin. I have my beliefs, but I am not immune from sympathizing with the other side of things. If I were a politician I would always look at the issues and never vote 'party' only. I can change my mind... As I grow, as I love, as I become a better person... I can change.
#11 Confidence. I know my worth. I know my potential. I know what I can offer. Sometimes I'm too confident, but I'm not usually cocky. I get down on myself sometimes... I have my limitations... but I also will rise to a fight.
#12 My limitations. I know my limitations... It doesn't mean that I can't try my hardest to overcome them and fail... back at number one, I'm not scared to make a fool out of myself... if you don't like my limitations and how it has me react to things... then fine. I know who I am... You are not required to love me. I love who I am. I know who I am.
#13 A fight. I'm not scared to fight for what I know is right.
If you have judged me on any one of those things, more power to ya. I want you to think about it though... what have I judged you on? I'm not trying to be all preachy or high and mighty... but I'm hurt... and I'm fighting... and I'm fighting against the idea that I am not enough. 


New Picture, new thoughts.

It's not the greatest picture of a parking lot, but as I took the picture I began to think that it represented my life.

I have so much to be thankful for.  My children have become the light of my life.  I feel stable and secure as their father.  I feel comfortable and secure in my employment.  Financially, I finally feel like I have a plan to eliminate my debt.  I also have met some incredible people lately.  My standing in the church continues to grow and be strengthened.  Lately I have felt that my sins are forgiven me, and that I am being blessed.

First, the sunshine.  The sun can represent a giver of light, a shining beacon, and something bright.  Not only is it the true candle upon a hill, but it also represents our future.  If you look to light, YOU WILL HAVE A LIGHT TOO.  The sun can also represent something else.  Something that when you get too close to, or stand in long enough, you get burned.  It's not to say that the sun is bad, but it also represents the part of life where you need to take care of yourself.  You need water, sunscreen, shade, sunglasses and many other things to avoid the harm the sun can do.  God gave us the sun, but he also expects us to protect ourselves from the harm it can do.  Overall the sun is good, but it isn't the only thing here for us.

The Clouds.  Clouds are all around.  Sometimes clouds can completely block the sun, and sometimes they can be scattered about like in the picture.  Sometimes clouds can be high up, and sometimes its as if they are just above your head.  Clouds can soak you and cause lots and lots of problems, and sometimes they just float on by temporarily creating shade.  Often lightning can be seen, and felt coming from the clouds.  It can knock people down, kill them, or just make the hairs on their arms stand up.  Thunder usually accompanies lightning, and can create the loudest and most fearful noise ever.  I can't remember being more scared than the time I heard thunder crack right above me (with the accompanying lightning strike).  Being fair skinned, clouds are my friends.  I feel energized when there is the right amount of shade.  The energy the sun takes from me, the clouds give it back.  I can spend more time outside and temperature is lower too!  Clouds can also symbolize a loss of hope and depression.  It's good to see a break in the clouds every once in a while.

Lastly, Rain:  For some people, rain is a good thing.  For some it can be too much, too quickly.  For others it can be a daily thing that gets old. In this case right here the rain was falling in gigantic drops while the hot sun was beating down.  I doubt the rain did much.  Perhaps it temporarily lowered the temperature, until the humidity kicks in from evaporation.  Maybe enough fell between the blades of grass to satisfy the lawns thirst.  Today I bet someone felt so much joy they wanted to dance in the rain.  Also on this day I wonder how many people used the rain to mask their tears.  Rain can be considered cleansing.  Who may have felt that this little storm was meant for them as a 'washing' so to speak?  How many people just watched the rain as they simultaneously shed tears? Only God knows and understands.

I've had so much go through my busy mind in the last 4 years.  I've thought a lot.  What I have learned, even in these last two weeks, is this: No matter what the weather pattern, No matter what size the clouds are, No matter the size the drops of rain are, and No Matter how loud the thunder and how massive the strikes of lightning are, ....the bottom line is I will know when it is time to seek cover, dance, or cry if I seek to be righteous.

It always creates an interesting moment when the sun is shining, but the rain is pouring down.  Seek sunshine, and dance in the rain and let it cleanse your soul.  I was fortunate to be able to do that this day.  August 5, 2017.   Br


Picture worth a million words...

The other day I had a choice.  I was heading home, but a detour changed my course and this new way home was longer and out of the way.

The detour was caused by an unexpected mud slide, which wiped the road and everything on it into a river below. No one was hurt but that would have been one poor soul that got swept away without warning.

I knew well before hand that I needed to take the long way, so in my mind I was prepared.  As I began to think about this unusual route it came to me that there was more than one way home.  I could go north and take a route which would split into two possibilities.  The first of those routes home included most of my normal drive once I got to a certain spot, then the trip home was mostly normal. I could also choose to take the other northern route, further north and take the unfamiliar road.  I could also go south, but I hate that drive.

I began my detour and as the fork in the road came close, I realized the weather further up north was nicer and so I went with the most unfamiliar drive.

On this northern route I would have the opportunity at times to drive faster, but it also included literally driving around, then up and over and back down a major mountain range.  Would this be a problem? "No," I thought, "as long as I don't get lost."

The truth is, with modern technology such as GPS and a great system of road signs, it would be hard to get lost.

Would the weather affect me on this strange route?  Nah, the weather radar says that the better weather is this way.  If I did hit weather, I was ready.  My car was just fitted with brand new all weather tires.

Was I scared?  Get real, why be scared?  I've been driving cars and following directions my entire life.

I had familiar mp3's playing on the stereo.  I had plenty to think about.  I was cruising along with life and heading home, ... a home where I treasured peace and quiet when I could get it....  Where I was near my children....  Where all my stuff was....  I guess you can call that home....  Either way its the best I have at the moment.

The drive home was no different than expected, until I saw it.  Being the only car on the road I had the assurance that I could just stop right then, so I did.  The road was clear but the shoulder was covered in a thick layer of snow.  Knowing I needed to keep at least one drive tire on the cement, my car was only half off the road.  The speed limit was 65, but at this moment I just didn't care.  I had to take it in.  While staring off into the distance... reality, mixed with a little spiritual understanding, hit me as if a snow plow sped by at 65 and thrust snow in my face.

         I'm alone.
         I'm on a well maintained road, but I'm alone.

My goal is to get home, but I'm taking an alternate way.  Despite the unfamiliar road and directions I know where I'm headed.

If I ever feel lost there are maps, road signs, GPS, and if I get desperate enough I can ask someone for directions.

This road is a lot more lonely, but you do see people every once in a while.  I'm sure that they would help, even if they didn't know me.

In order to travel this road you must be prepared with fuel, proper tires, and an emergency kit in case something happened to my car.

If you get distracted on this road you might just find yourself off the road, hitting wildlife, or at the bottom of a cliff.

There is always a chance that something unexpected would happen.  If that were the case and I didn't come home, would someone look for me?

What if I got stuck?  With freezing temperatures tonight, how long would I last?

Look at this view!  The trees with an enormous amount of snow on them, but a wind storm that happens just right can bury me with that snow.

See those clouds?  They are swarming around that mountain top just daring me to try it and not get stuck in the storm.

The road moves and turns left and I can't see around that corner.  Since I'm safe here, in this moment, should I just stay here?

I got caught up in the beauty of it all and I stopped my progression home.  Is this pause in my journey allowing the storms to catch up?

While I have been unable to take my eyes off of this sight have I forgotten my surroundings?  Is there a mountain lion stalking me while I stand in the middle of the road?  Are my senses aware enough to jump out of the way of a speeding car?

I've got to start moving!  Perhaps I can drive faster to make up for lost time.  Thank goodness someone has taken the time to clear the roads.  Here I go!

I'm driving, but I continue to marvel at the scenery.  I'm fortunate that I haven't lost track of the road and run off the side, because I'm pretty sure I'm out of cell phone range.

I'm still thinking of the meaning of these things when a law enforcement officer appears in front of me, and by the looks of it he is going well below the speed limit.

As I slow down and continually wash the dirty water off of my wind shield that he kicks up, I'm mumbling under my breath that he should pull over.

From one side of the mountain to the other I'm lucky if I went half the speed limit.  At first I had no clue why, but as we hit the blizzard the roads weren't so nice.

After quite some time I began to see that I was better off taking it safe.  When the blizzard was behind me the clouds parted and I could see home.

I thought that the route I was taking had the better weather, but nothing looked so fine than my home from 7,000 feet and the direction I would have come had I chosen that other route.

My descent off of the mountain went smooth, the roads again cleared.  As soon as my tires hit dry pavement, the officer ahead of me pulled over.  I could then proceed to go fast, but here I was far behind the time I thought it would take.

There are mudslides in life, and sometimes they devastate.  Mudslides affect more people than just the ones that might have been swept away.  From the mudslides that directly impact some people's lives, we can use the knowledge gained from those slides, and the diversions created to enhance our experience.  That day I planned to drive home as normal but I was forced to change my way.  If I had gone the familiar way perhaps I wouldn't have seen what I saw.  I wouldn't have thought what I thought, and I wouldn't have been impressed to take the picture and tell the story.

See,.. the road is clear, but bending off in the distance.  Even though you can assume it is clear there is no way of knowing what lies ahead beyond what the eye can see.  I can look above the road and notice the storm, so maybe it is safe to say that there is a challenge ahead.  There is also the possibility that I could ignore the clouds or just not notice them, then I go in completely blind.  If the cruise control is on and it has been so far so good, who is to say that it won't be like that the entire way.

We are fortunate that roads are paved, people have left behind maps, and technology can make things easier, but we still have to make the journey.  The more convenient the way, the more devastating it is when something breaks down. If I had been distracted enough to wreck or if my car's parts failed, I may have been stuck somewhere where I wasn't prepared to be.  On a wintry evening like this it can get below 0 degrees and, if I'm wearing my shorts and a t-shirt that provide a comfortable drive, it can be a challenging night.  Imagine if my GPS fails or my phone is out of range, then I will be in a sorry situation.

While coasting may seem like a great way to go, the roads could quickly change.  My impatience could be a deadly mix on those roads.  The only thing that slowed me down was a police officer ahead of me.  There is no way I would have passed him.  Isn't it nice in life when someone can slow you down, help keep you safe?  Sometimes you don't want that help, sometimes you do.  Either way, you always appreciate it after the fact.

I looked at the forecast and it said that this route was the best as far as weather goes, but when I came up over the mountain I saw better weather over my home.  The faster, less crowded, and unfamiliar way can be fun but you really have to stay vigilante.  No matter what the weather or forecast is, sometimes home just looks better.  Home sweet home.

I'm glad I'm safe. I'm glad I saw some of God's beauty. I learned something today.


My two shoulder angels.

Trying to do some easter colors :)


Quinten my artist

And airplane/space shuttle


My life is a gift

I've been listening to the audio book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. I referred to this book in a post a few months ago as I mused about my feelings about religions and how they interact. Since then I've continued learning and writing about this topic though so far I've kept it to myself. I guess you could say I'm on a personal journey that I want to share with others once I'm sure of my footing; In other words to adequetly express in writing what I really mean. Anyway, I wanted to share this fun video of Ryanna singing. This is one of my favorite primary songs and one I remember learning when I was a little bit older than Ryanna. I am the primary chorister right now in my ward and love teaching these songs to the kids. I was thinking just yesterday about the shift in America and parts of the world away from organized religion and toward personal spirituality. There are vast and complex contributors to this shift(something that takes over a hundred pages to explore in American Grace) and though I feel an absolute place for religion in my life I