May 29, 2018

I made some pumpkin muffins, and went to put some cloves into them. Mom organizes her spices alphabetically, and as I went to get cloves, I realized that for the entire last year, I’ve inadvertently put chives into my muffins, instead of cloves. Whoops. Got them confused. Every time I made them (or pumpkin pie) I thought it was strange to be putting these green things in, but hey, everybody liked how the food turned out.

Update on my Summer60: These last two weeks I’ve only finished one book, Teach Ye Diligently, by Boyd K. Packer. What a fantastic book. I have such great admiration and love for this man. His humility and sincerity and putting God first, are apparent in all he did. He truly was a witness of Christ. I also found, in my scrapbook, a Boston Stake Conference that I attended where he presided. Cool.

The book that I’ve been laboring over for close to two weeks now is The Closing of the American Mind, by Alan Bloom. Can’t say I understand everything fully, and its informed me (not that I didn’t already know) that my knowledge of philosophy is pitiful. Still, gained some good gems from it. Forty pages left.

What’s really been slowing my summer reading down is my discovery of previously unknown (to me) family letters. I’ve read over 1000 pages, from 1986-1992 so far. Its been incredibly entertaining! I love my family, and these accounts are truly priceless.  Especially interesting has been the relationship rollercoasters of my aunts and uncles… and parents, as they worked on finding their soulmate.

The Celtics are finished for the year, but the Red Sox keep getting better. We’ve been following them pretty closely, and with the return of Pedroia, we’re planning to keep watching all the way to November. Lets go Boston!

I thought this last year of college, being the first back from the mish, would be the hardest,  but boy oh boy was it a breeze. Frustrated and tired by the ease, I began asking for challenging opportunities in my life. New church calling upped the ante a little, but now, I finally feel stretched. And of course, now that it happens, the temptation is to back off.

I suppose most of the hardship is financial. I believed that this summer would be a financial windfall, and instead its been a financial free fall, being a severe struggle to save some lettuce. Nevertheless, I know I’m in the right place, and trust all will be well.

I’ve enjoyed going out with the missionaries. We’ve been teaching a family, who while they have some normal struggles did attend church last Sunday. I’m most excite about a young investigator, Juliette, who actually knows Porter and was in his graduating class. There’s a great work to do here!

I also went with Bro. Dewey to Fort Worth and we administered to one of his co-workers who had been severely injured, paralyzed, in a motorcycle accident.

 

Ok, I’m fading here. The eyelids are getting heavy.

Joke of the week: What happened to the cannibal who arrived home late for dinner?

His wife gave him the cold shoulder!

 

Seriously though, life is good. Its the rough times that make the smooth sailing so much fun.

And, as Elder Maxwell said, as Jesus comes to have a real place in our lives we become less and less concerned with our place in the world.

 

Mother’s Day — May 13, 2018

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

We skipped the line and talked to Elder Schenewark on Saturday. He is looking and sounding good, with lots of crazy adventures still happening.

For my mom, I painted a picture of the Washington D.C. temple to commemorate their wedding day. She is truly an example, an inspiration, a mentor and a friend. Like Lincoln, all that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. This year was the first time since 2014 (aka high school) that I’ve been with Mom to celebrate this day.

Azalea Advertising has unofficially died. Unofficially because I still have lots of business cards printed already. Otherwise, its gone the way of all the earth. I believe in the idea, but need to face the music and confess I’m not a salesperson, and to have any sort of success in this field in such a short time frame, salesmanship is essential. So, I’m now looking for a job. And have scaled back significantly my summer financial goals.

Today in church I played piano in Primary. I was asked to yesterday, and while agreeing to, was internally hesitant. Oh boy, this was the most fun I’ve had in church in years! Granbury has the biggest primary I think I’ve ever seen, some 50 kids, and without any of their normal teachers there, it was a riot. A few boys, probably age 4-5, sat in the front row and were acting like zombies to each other. I couldn’t stop laughing! There was so much constantly happening, and all the answers given were so different than what I’m used to hearing, and yet so profound. Truly, from the mouth of babes.

I never thought I’d be a pianist of any sort, and feel grateful to be able to share any degree of talent I might have in that category with others. During sacrament meeting, the priesthood sang “Teach me to Walk in the Light” for all the sisters in the congregation, and I also accompanied that. I remember having the goal of learning 6 hymns to be able to play on my mission, and how that simple goal has led to today.

On Wednesday I played in a local golf tournament, a short 9-hole skin game in scramble format. We eagled the hardest hole and I thought we’d be walking away with the money, but alas, another group equaled our feat. I do plan to keep playing in this weekly tournament. I love my new driver, and enjoy out-driving everyone else by 20 yards.

Saturday, I went teaching with the missionaries. Unbelievably, this is the first time I’ve gone with missionaries since being home. I’ve been bugging them about teaching with them, and finally they invited me to go along. We went and taught a family, Angela the matriarch (50’s) her daughter Candice, son-in-law Joe, and granddaughter. Angela has studied theology before and seems sincerely interested. We had a great lesson, and the Spirit was strong. I loved teaching in English, and hopefully can go out with the missionaries again soon.

Today in Sunday School we continued our discussion about the Israelite’s wandering in the wilderness. It’s incredible to think that they repeatedly complained and wanted to return to slavery in Egypt. However, I started thinking, are we not often slaves? Slaves to our work, to phones, or other entertainment, to wasting our time,  or a million other habits and actions?

Do we forgo our wilderness of affliction and trial and principally of growth for some eternally meaningless comfort? Tough questions that made me reevaluate some of my actions. And, as Pres. Packer taught in the book Teach Ye Diligently, “Nothing is truly ours until we can give it away.” Lots of applications, but for this, let us note that we cannot help others, until we ourselves are free. I know that to make it to the Promised Land, we will have to leave our comfort zone, follow the Lord in faith, make sacrifices and trust in His promises.

Idyllic Industriousness

This has been a week filled with moments of indescribable beauty. I believe idyllic describes it best, as it has been filled with dream-worthy moments not to be forgotten, where I am left in my garden-less Garden of Eden to contemplate. And the garden is on its way.

Annemarie thought that I was returning to Texas mostly to golf. I plead the fifth, as on May 1st, I was on the course negotiating a monthly membership. Best deal yet. While the greens aren’t in the best shape, I’ve enjoyed again playing alone in the early morning. I listen to discourses from General Authorities while I walk, and pause to meditate on their counsel. I bring sufficient snacks that keep me energized, and after nine holes, I am accustomed to find a spot to sit and eat and read some poetry. Does it get better? When you can see the dew glistening on the green grass, the birds are singing a song and the Texas wildflowers are winking at you, I hesitate to answer.

I have been astounded by the household bureaucracy. I’m even talking about paperwork! When I asked to build a garden, in my mind, I was asking for a 20 ft by 20 ft plot of land. That’s it. I know the native soil has lots of clay, and that lack of water could prove troublesome, but that’s okay. I wanted a challenge, and more than anything just the green light to create and to be involved with the land. Instead, when I arrived, I was tasked with creating a design. And when I saw Cooper, my partner-in-projects, designing an outdoor fire pit on graph paper before building a diorama, before receiving permission to continue, I knew the challenge to actually start a garden would be tough. There are four people pushing their own plans,

Breaking update: Inspired by a neighbor rototilling his land, my parents have now passed me on to the next phase, that of preparing the land, no capital improvements necessary.

And our fire pit is nearly done after a few hours of work on Saturday. The first batch of cement was mixed a little dry, but otherwise its gone off without a hitch. Pictures shall be forthcoming.

On Thursday, Mom, Breyer, and I took off to Tyler and watched cousin Moriah’s nurse-pinning ceremony. It was a testament to her will to finish, and I was impressed. It was nice to see Aunt Janel, Uncle Brad, Luke and Anna as well.

What else is idyllic? Eating meals from Mom and Dad. Teaching Breyer how to sing from a hymnbook. Seeing Sawyer and Miller forgo baseball all-star tryouts to honor the Sabbath, and to join together with my siblings in fasting. Mixing mortar with Cooper, and falling asleep each night to the cooing of the crickets and the croaking of the bullfrogs. Life is good. I’ve also founded another company, Azalea Advertising Agency. My foreign friend came through again, and he said “Awesome experience. Love to work with you. I wants to work with you again and again.” I hope he’ll come to my Christmas party one day.