Favorite houses in Provo

Here’s a much less thoughtful and scriptural post, but it is honestly what I’m thinking about today.

Here are google map links to my favorite homes in Provo (some for their yards, some for their architecture, some for their location, etc.) — plus one link to an archived page when a house was once up for sale:





I’ll add more when I’m having another one of these moods!:)

Elder Holland’s Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments

I feel like Elder Holland’s talk wouldn’t be very popular today. We are very concerned -understandably – that those who have been victims of abuse and also those who have experimented don’t feel left out or unnecessarily guilty. So, many Mormons don’t like any talk of virtue and cleanliness.

To talk, for example, of the future blessings of being clean when entering marriage such that one can deeply bind with one’s spouse, is to put some people on a pedestal and to tell the rest, “Well, sorry, you’re second class forever.” That is the concern many Mormons have.

I always wonder why we can’t have talk of virtue and say that there are no second class members? Why can’t we say, in full honesty and full exhortative fashion, that entering marriage ready and willing to give fully to each other is fantastic and momentous and beautiful and superb? And why can’t we say that those who haven’t prepared themselves (and sexual purity is only one form of preparation — one must also be willing to share emotions and private thoughts and so forth) will miss the full realization of the blessings of marriage? Is that not true? Do we believe that is true? Are we going to argue against that point?

I almost feel like we are arguing against that point when we say that talk of virtue is hurtful to those who have experimented.

I hear the point more clearly when we say that talk of virtue is hurtful to those who have been abused.

But, isn’t that part of why the situation of the abused is so worth mourning? So heart-wrenching? Someone has taken something from them – and I know I shouldn’t say that, in today’s climate – but someone has. Emotionally they have been drained, mentally they have been drained, physically they have been drained. That’s precisely why it is wrong! So very, very wrong. They have been exploited.

But now, now comes the other shoe that needs to drop before this conversation goes on. The other shoe is that God’s atonement really, really can make us clean. Really! Clean. Clean. Clean. As if, in some way, it never happened. But of course, passing through the fact that it really did happen. But clean.

And if clean, then ready to participate fully in marriage or any other endeavor that requires our whole souls.

And this atonement – as has been preached continually – heals both those who have sinned knowingly, unknowingly, and have not sinned at all, but been victims to those who have sinned. It really can. It’s hard, harder than anything, but it can. That is the promise.

Now, it may seem unfair of me to suggest that those who have been victims of abuse need to be cleansed. But I know I have had need of that cleansing in other circumstances (not sexual, in my case, but other times where I have been hurt by other’s sins). And I am not ready to give myself fully/100% in certain circumstances. I am distracted by my pain, or my worries. Legitimately, plainly, I am not 100% myself because I have been affected by someone else’s actions. But, as a totally shock, it has been possible for the atonement to cleanse my mind and my heart and restore to me that which was lost, taken, changed, hurt, affected. There really was damage done, and it really was restored. Really.

That’s not to say that if someone has offended me at Church, for example, I will necessarily stop going to meetings. But I will hold back from full friendship and communion with my ward members. The promise of the blessings of unity with the saints is not fully realized. Just like in marriage, there are greater blessings to be found when there is greater unity. And if I am holding back because of experimentation of how to fulfill my own needs or curiosity, or holding back because of hurt caused by others, either way, I am not enjoying the fullness of “the intimacy it is your right and privilege and delight to enjoy in marriage” (as Elder Holland puts it). I just am not. I just think that is a fact. I am not. Whether by my own purposeful actions, or my human confusion, or by the actions inflicted on me by others, I am not. And that is something to mourn! And to help heal!

I hope I am not saying things that will cause others to hate me, though fortunately not too many read this blog.:) But I believe that there is something glorious about being 100% invested in a marriage, and it’s ok to say that anything less than that is less than that. And I think it is ok to say that those who aren’t 100% invested can call upon the blessings of the atonement to have that which is not there become there. At any point in their lives. On any day! I have need to be restored to full communion with my spouse, just because events of life can cause me to think of myself more than I should. That’s a minor example, but I say it because it really does mean I’m not 100% there, and I have felt myself restored to 100%. And anyone can be restored to the possibility of being 100% there. It’s ok to say the atonement can really, really do that. For anyone.

I hope I’m not being offensive to anyone who does read this, but I think to say that all this talk about virtue is hurtful is to say that we don’t quite trust that the atonement can restore everyone to this place of virtue. Virtue is so important to talk about because it is a blessing available to everyone. That is precisely why it is so important to talk about. It is good, and strong, and opens up communion with God and with other human beings in ways that are so, so strong. And it is available to everyone who has been affected by others as much as those who have sinned (and everyone has sinned). Virtue is real. It is what Zion is built on.

Such are some random rambling thoughts of the morning. Nothing new. But as I was reviewing Elder Holland’s talk this morning, they were returning to my mind over and over again so I thought I’d get them out on virtual paper.:)

Back to reading… (or really, in this case, back to getting kids ready for school to start)

Quotation during WWI by RS Presidency

“Administer in the spirit of love and patience to your husbands and to your children; guard the little ones; do not permit them to imbibe the spirit of intolerance or hatred to any  nation or to any people; keep firearms out of their hands; do not allow them to play at war nor to find amusement in imitating death in battle; inculcate the spirit of loyalty to country and flag, but help them to feel that they are the soldiers of the Cross and that if they must needs take up arms in the defense of liberty, of country and homes they shall do so without rancor or bitterness….Teach the peaceable things of the kingdom [and] look after the needy more diligently than ever.”


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“Nor ever before had thought of”

Yesterday at Jonah’s baptism, I was blessed with the chance to give a talk on the Holy Ghost. In the moment, I decided to read these verses from JS-H:

Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father…

 Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.

In the moment what I felt like emphasizing for Jonah was that here were two men who already cared about the scriptures and keeping the commandments, and being baptized was a way to tell Heavenly Father they really meant it and to make a covenant (we have talked about how a covenant is like promising to do what you are all ready doing – a stronger promise that you’re really in). Then when they were baptized, they learned more from the scriptures than they had before — things they hadn’t even thought of before. I think the Holy Ghost is that kind of influence in our lives generally. We want to serve and do good, and the Holy Ghost will help us do that in ways we hadn’t thought of before. We want to learn about the gospel and the Holy Ghost will teach us things we hadn’t thought of.

I enjoyed teaching Jonah (he’s so good and happy!) and I also just enjoyed the experience of trying to teach by the Spirit again. This past week Joe and I edited through my old paper on teaching by the Spirit from the D&C 42 project. It was a good paper, and helped me see what I’ve been missing for the past few years! I prepared differently, I prayed differently, and I taught differently. I hadn’t thought to use this scripture in this way until I was standing up in front of Jonah. I loved it.


Fulness of the Gospel

We are working out a really interesting reading during study group tonight.

We looked up fulness in an 1828 dictionary and the first definition talked about something that isn’t vacant; nothing in it is vacant. For whatever reason, this made us think about how perhaps fulness means no person is left out. That is, rather than fulness of the gospel meaning all principles are restored, what if it means all the people are gathered?

We are looking at 3 Nephi 16:10 tonight. Notice that when the Gentiles reject the fulness of the gospel, they are full instead of pride and hypocrisy. One reading is that rather than full of gospel they are full of pride. Another reading is that when they reject the fulness — that not just Gentiles are saved but also Israel is redeemed — when they reject this, then they are (or it’s because they are) full of pride.

What if it means fulness as in the Abrahamic Covenant — no one is meant to be left out. This gospel is for everyone. Or this gospel is strong enough for everyone.

Notice how the Gentiles are critiqued in 2 Nephi for not caring about the Israelites (What thank ye the Jews?) and also they don’t want more scripture from another Israelite people: A Bible! A Bible!

The gospel plan was meant for everyone. The Abrahamic Covenant gave Abraham’s seed the job of teaching everyone else. The gospel was meant to save everyone who would be saved: fulfilling that potential, that promise, is fulness of the gospel. Fulness of the plan.

Abraham 2! That connects Abrahamic Covenant and the Gospel.

Tangents: Nice jokes here about A Bible! A Bible! and what we might say: Book of Mormon! We need no Bible! or A manual! A Manual!:)

Another reading might be that the gospel is the good news of faith repentance baptism Holy Ghost, and in the Book of Mormon those things are filled up more fully than in the general Christian understanding. So it’s not that the Book of Mormon is more “complete” but rather it is more “abundant.”

President Nelson October 2015

A few parts of the partner-talk to the one I just worked on. This one was given to women 6 months earlier. I need to read both of them several more times:

Thirty-six years ago, in 1979, President Spencer W. Kimball made a profound prophecy about the impact that covenant-keeping women would have on the future of the Lord’s Church. He prophesied: “Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.”5

My dear sisters, you who are our vital associates during this winding-up scene, the day that President Kimball foresaw is today. You are the women he foresaw! Your virtue, light, love, knowledge, courage, character, faith, and righteous lives will draw good women of the world, along with their families, to the Church in unprecedented numbers!6

We, your brethren, need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them, women who can speak with the power and authority of God!7

President Packer declared:

“We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out. …

“We need women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous.”8

Today, let me add that we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.

My dear sisters, whatever your calling, whatever your circumstances, we need your impressions, your insights, and your inspiration. We need you to speak up and speak out in ward and stake councils. We need each married sister to speak as “a contributing and full partner”10 as you unite with your husband in governing your family. Married or single, you sisters possess distinctive capabilities and special intuition you have received as gifts from God. We brethren cannot duplicate your unique influence.


Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.12 We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms. We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity. We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.

My dear sisters, nothing is more crucial to your eternal life than your own conversion. It is converted, covenant-keeping women—women like my dear wife Wendy—whose righteous lives will increasingly stand out in a deteriorating world and who will thus be seen as different and distinct in the happiest of ways.

So today I plead with my sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God—more than you ever have before. I plead with you to fulfill President Kimball’s prophecy. And I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that as you do so, the Holy Ghost will magnify your influence in an unprecedented way!


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