Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nancy, Allie, Court, and I went to Griff's and Ash's for Thanksgiving in Oklahoma.  We had a blast and really enjoyed every minute of our time with them.  We were also able to spend a day with Haley and her boys and that was a blast as well.  I think I'm the luckiest man in the world because all of my kids and their spouses (for the ones who are married) are so good to me and Nancy.  They are the best and I'm very proud of all of them.  As usual, we are not very good at "documenting" our activities with pictures, but here are a few:

 Allie, Court, and Darcey in the back yard.
 Grandpa and Zoe playing in the leaves.
 We got to get out of these things!
 Court and Zoe back in the leaves.
 Grandpa resting up for the next big game of pool.
 Allie and Zoe with spoils from the "candy store."

 Guess who?

 Darcey and the tired "ear rub."
 Kitchen fun!
 More Kitchen fun!
The cars . . . the Hazard's gray one and the Hargraves white one.
 Haley, Courtney, and Griffin at the Science Museum in Oklahoma City.
Lunch at the science museum with Grandma, Ash, Zoe, and Patton.

So, there you have some pictures.  We did so many things and only took a few pictures, but it was sooooooo fun.  We'll have to do it again some time.

I gave a talk last Sunday titled "Look Up and Remember".  Here it is:

Look Up And Remember

I grew up in San Jose California.  We lived about 30 miles from Santa Cruz, which was a sleepy little beach town.  At Santa Cruz, there was a boardwalk with the best, most rickety wooden roller coaster ever, a carousel where you could throw metal rings into a giant clown mouth, bumper cars and other fun stuff.  Then, there was our favorite place . . . the beach.  It was always crowded.

One of my first memories of the beach is when I was 4 or 5 years old.  We drove the 30 miles over the Santa Cruz Mountains and dropped down into the slumbering town of Santa Cruz.  After parking, we walked across the boardwalk and then we walked/ran about 100 yards across the hot sand, and although there was a sea of people on the beach, We managed to find a spot close to the ocean and set up “home base” for the day.  Which consisted of our towels, picnic, and other beach stuff. 

I ran down to the water, promising my mom I would be careful, and began to play the “don’t get caught by the water game”.  This is where you get as close to the water as possible, then when a wave comes in you run up the beach to avoid getting wet.  Then you follow the water as closely as possible without letting it touch your feet as it retreats back into the ocean.  Then the next wave comes and you do the same thing.  Up and down, down and up.  Over and over again.  I must have played this 
game for a good half hour before getting tired.

When I turned to walk back to my towel and family . . . they were gone.

I ran up to where I was sure they should be, but they were gone.  I ran through all the many people up and down the beach looking for my family, but they were nowhere to be seen.  I was confused because I was pretty sure my family loved me and wouldn’t leave without me.  But it was true.  They were gone.

Then it happened.  I started to cry.  I cried as I walked and ran aimlessly through the crowd and across the sand in random directions.  I suppose, believing I would never find my family again, I was looking for a nice place to die. 

I must’ve looked pretty pitiful because a kind lady . . . a stranger . . . lifted me into her arms and began to comfort me.  I cried louder.  After all she was a stranger. 
But she was kind and gentle.  She said not to worry and that we would find my mom, and then she started walking up the beach. 

Now, I knew I was lost, but I thought she was even more lost because she was walking in a direction I would’ve never gone in.  I kicked her and tried to get away, but she held me tight and continued to talk softly and comfort me. 

Then suddenly, I saw my mom running towards us. The hand off was made and my rescuer disappeared.  I started to think, wow, she was really nice and I wonder how she knew which way to walk.  I was glad I hadn’t succeeded in kicking her away.  My mom took me back to our towels and family, and I was saved. 

My mom taught me that when I was playing on the beach I should look up often to make sure I knew where our towels and family were.  She promised that if I did that, I would not get lost again. 
I played on the beach all the rest of the day.  And, she was right.  I never got lost again.

I didn’t understand how I could get so lost just by not looking up.  It wasn’t until I was studying geology in college that I learned the official term of what I had experienced.  It’s called longshore drift.  This is where waves hit the beach at an angle and wash up as far as they can go, then the water returns to the sea by running down the beach face by the shortest possible route, that is, straight downhill . . . not back along the same path it came up in.  The net effect of this motion is to move the sand in a series of arcs along the beach face. 

For example, it’s estimated that 1,000,000 cubic yards of sand per year are moved southward across the beach at Santa Monica California (Plumer, Physical Geology, page 343).

I was like a piece of sand.  By following the waves up at an angle, then straight down over and over again, I had made my way down the beach quite a distance from my family without even knowing it.  I thought I was just going up and down in the same spot, but I wasn’t.  I was having so much fun, I forgot to look up so I could continuously orient myself to where my family was.  In that process I got lost.  My family hadn’t moved.  I had.  My family wasn’t lost.  I was. 

I like to compare that kind stranger lady who picked me up to the prophet.  She knew where she was going.  Even when I thought she was walking in completely the wrong direction.  Her voice was gentle and sure even when I was furious and adamant.  She knew, and she got me back to my family. 

I also like to compare my family and our little home base on the beach to the temple.  As I looked up often and consistently I was able to keep my bearings and not get lost again.

Just like the longshore drift I experienced.  We can sometimes get so preoccupied with our lives that we drift and don’t even know it.  Then, when we finally look up, we wonder where we are.

As members of the church, making and keeping covenants can help us avoid drifting like the sand on the beach.  We need to look up often and consistently.  One simple way of “looking up” is to go to the temple frequently and regularly.  There is safety in this, and it will help us keep our eternal bearings. 
I can’t think of a greater blessing than to know where we came from before we were born, why we are here on the earth, and where we are going after this life is finished.  These are things we are reminded of in the temple.

Then we must remember that the true blessings of our covenants come when we strive to live accordingly.  We keep our covenants every day as we are kind, generous, and charitable.  We keep our covenants when we support one another in our challenges and share in each others' joys and disappointments as if they were our own.  We keep our covenants by loving one another.  When we do good things in small and simple ways, we are keeping our covenants.

A covenant is an agreement between God and a person.  The way it works is that Heavenly Father sets the conditions and we agree to them (Bible Dictionary).  Then, we are the only ones who can break the covenant because our Heavenly Father is bound when we do what we’ve agreed to.
 In the Book of Mormon, Nephi says “My soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord . . .” (2nd Nph 11:5).  I also delight in the covenants of the Lord and here are five reasons why: 

1.  I delight in covenants because they bring me Hope:  Covenants provide hope for what is to come.  In D&C 84 the oath and covenant of the Priesthood says that everything our Heavenly Father has will be ours if we keep our covenants.  That brings me great hope.

When I think of what our Heavenly Father has, I don’t think of a nice house, fast cars, or trendy clothes that He could have if he wanted them.  I think of the peace and understanding He has that enables Him to love so perfectly.

2.  I delight in covenants because they unify us:  Covenants bind the covenant makers and keepers together as they pursue common goals.  No matter where I go in the world, when I am around covenant makers and keepers it brings me peace to know that we are all seeking the same things.

3.  I delight in covenants because they are grounded in love:  Heavenly Father loves us.  In President Monson’s words:  “. . . your Heavenly Father loves you-each of you.  That love never changes.  It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account.  It is not changed by your talents and abilities.  It is simply there.  It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful.  God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love.  It is simply always there.”

How can we express that love back to our Heavenly Father and Jesus?  Covenant keeping provides a way for us to express our love to our Heavenly Father and Jesus.  To show our gratitude and appreciation for the incomprehensible, infinite Atonement of our Savior and Redeemer and the perfect love of our Father in Heaven. (Linda K. Burton.  Oct. 2013 General Conference).

4.  I delight in covenants because they give me purpose:  When all is said and done, what will matter to our Father in Heaven will be how well we have kept our covenants and how much we have tried to follow the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  (Sister Linda Reeves, Oct. 2013 Conference).
 5.  I delight in covenants because Covenant making and keeping can provide answers to many questions like “what can make me happy?” All who have made sacred covenants with the Lord and who honor those covenants are eligible to receive personal revelation, to be blessed by the ministering of angels, and to commune with God (Carole M. Stephens, Oct. General Conference 2013.  Do We Know What We Have?) In her talk titled “The Power, Joy, and Love of Covenant Keeping”, Sister Linda K. Burton reminds us that making and keeping sacred covenants will lead us to happiness.  President Monson taught “Sacred covenants are to be revered by us, and faithfulness to them is a requirement for happiness.”

Baptism is the symbol of our agreement to follow him by keeping His commandments.  If we follow him and keep His commandments, then He promises us the gift of the Holy Ghost that the spirit will always be with us. 

Then, as you know, every week we get to take the sacrament to renew our covenant and remind us of the blessings of keeping our baptismal covenant.  “That we may have His spirit to be with us.”
In our most recent General Conference, Sister Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency said “Latter-day prophets and apostles have taught that when we worthily partake of the sacrament, we can renew not only our baptismal covenant but all covenants entered into with the Lord.”  (Oct. 2013 General Conference.  “Do We Know What We Have? By Carole M. Stephens).

Our Heavenly Father kept his promise when he sent his son to the earth as our savior.  Jesus kept his promise as he completed the work of the atonement for each one of us.  I know these promises were kept out of love.  At this Christmas time, I am so thankful to know that our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ will always keep their promises and will always love us. 

I hope that I can make and keep sacred promises to show my love for them.  I hope I can remember to look up, to keep my eternal bearings, and when I wander and lose my way to be humble enough to allow myself to be rescued.

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