I am so grateful to be a father. What greater joy can there be in this world but to have an eternal family. I look to my children and see such a wonderful and happy future for them. The world is such a wonderful and beautiful place. As I have taken my family up to the mountains or our to the west desert here in Utah or as we have traveled to California there is such beauty everywhere you go. Then when you think that it can't get any better, God paints the sky all kinds of colors with the amazing sunsets. All of these experiences are so much better when experienced with your family. So, as this father's day comes this weekend, I am posting a photo I took at Temple Square that expresses what a father's joy really his. This quote is from Howard W Hunter in a talk in the November 1994 Ensign,
“You should express regularly to your wife and children your reverence and respect for her. Indeed, one of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
As Father's Day approaches, I like to reflect back on my father who has been gone now for over 14 years. He was a great example to me of how to be a man. He taught me to respect others, to work hard and to love family. All characteristics that I took for granted that everyone knows. However, in today's world we see the crumbling of the family. The adversary has slithered his way into the destruction of the family unit. As we go to celebrate Father's Day this year, I call on all fathers everywhere to step-up and be the men that we ought to be. I know that not all divorces in this world are caused by men, but I would be surprised if the majority of them are not. The Savior was asked, what matter of men ought we to be and he answered, "Even as I am." We, as men, need to put off selfishness, love our wives and our children. I am so grateful for my beautiful wife and my children. I am so grateful to be a father and a husband and I pray that I can be the man that my children look up to and that my son's can use as an example. Here is a short video that I thought was really good.
First of all, I have to give a big Happy Birthday to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building (formerly Hotel Utah). 100 years old and looking absolutely stunning for her age. I remember this building as the Hotel Utah when I was younger and then to see it tranformed into the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, it continues to welcome people from all of the world to its beautiful reception rooms, restaurants, family history center, and theater. This is a photo I took a while ago of the front lobby area of the building.
I am also very grateful for the building's namesake. Joseph Smith restored the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. He translated the Book of Mormon which stands as another witness of Jesus Christ. I don't understand why more people don't embrace a book that testifies of our Savior and can bring such peace and happiness to our lives. The Book of Mormon contains a promise at the very end of the book that once you have read the book and you sincerely pray about it, that the Lord will manifest the truth of it unto you. It is because of the prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon that I know who I am. I know the great plan of happiness. I know that my Redeemer lives and that I can live with him again. Here is a quote from Elder Jeffrey R Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,
"Not everything in life is so black and white, but the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and its keystone role in our religion seem to be exactly that. Either Joseph Smith was the prophet he said he was, a prophet who, after seeing the Father and the Son, later beheld the angel Moroni, repeatedly heard counsel from Moroni's lips, and eventually received at his hands a set of ancient gold plates that he then translated by the gift and power of God, or else he did not. And if he did not, he would not be entitled to the reputation of New England folk hero or well-meaning young man or writer of remarkable fiction. No, nor would he be entitled to be considered a great teacher, a quintessential American religious leader, or the creator of great devotional literature. If he had lied about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, he would certainly be none of these...
If Joseph Smith did not translate the Book of Mormon as a work of ancient origin, then I would move heaven and earth to meet the "real" nineteenth-century author. After one hundred and fifty years, no one can come up with a credible alternative candidate, but if the book were false, surely there must be someone willing to step forward-if no one else, at least the descendants of the "real" author-claiming credit for such a remarkable document and all that has transpired in its wake. After all, a writer that can move millions can make millions. Shouldn't someone have come forth then or now to cashier the whole phenomenon? "
Michelle and I took the family to see 17 Miracles last night. You can't help but let the tears flow as you watch the suffering that these Saints went through. The amazing thing is that through it all they remained faithful. They marched 12 miles a day on 10 oz of flour through snow and ice. They came wanting to gather in Zion and partake of the blessings that a Temple would give. If anything, this movie called me to repentance. I live 5-10 minutes from both the Bountiful and Salt Lake Temples. I do not go nearly enough. Here these Saints marched across the plains, starving and freezing to death in order to receive the blessings that I can so easily get by jumping in my car and getting there in such a quick time. It is because of them and the hardships that they went through that I have the blessings that I have today. My great-great-great grandfather was part of the Jesse Murphy wagon company that came across the Plains in 1860. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley just 4 years after the Willie and Martin handcart companies. This is a long quote from President Gordon B Hinckley but well worth the time. It is from the October 2006 General Conference.
"Much has been written concerning this, and I need not go into detail. All of you are familiar with the story. Suffice it to say that those who set out on the long journey from the British Isles to the valley of the Great Salt Lake began their travel in faith. They had little or no knowledge of what they were getting into. But they moved forward. They began their journey with great expectation. That expectation gradually failed them as they moved west. As they commenced the tedious journey following the Platte River and then up the valley of the Sweetwater, the cold hand of death took its fearsome toll. Their food was rationed; their oxen died; their carts broke down; they had inadequate bedding and clothing. Storms raged. They sought shelter, but they found none. The storms beat about them. They literally starved to death. Scores died and were buried in the frozen ground.
Fortunately, they were passed by Franklin D. Richards on his way from England. He had a lightweight conveyance with horses and was able to travel much faster. He came on to this valley. It was this very season of the year. The general conference was in session. When Brigham Young received the news, he immediately stood before the congregation and said:
“I will now give this people the subject and the text for the Elders who may speak to-day and during the conference, it is this, on the 5th day of October, 1856, many of our brethren and sisters are on the plains with hand-carts, and probably many are now 700 miles from this place, and they must be brought here, we must send assistance to them. The text will be, ‘to get them here.’ I want the brethren who may speak to understand that their text is the people on the plains, and the subject matter for this community is to send for them and bring them in before the winter sets in. …
“I shall call upon the Bishops this day, I shall not wait until to-morrow, nor until [the] next day, for 60 good mule teams and 12 or 15 wagons. I do not want to send oxen, I want good horses and mules. They are in this Territory, and we must have them; also 12 tons of flour and 40 good teamsters, … 60 or 65 good spans of mules, or horses, with harness. …
“I will tell you all,” said he, “that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the celestial kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains, and attend strictly to those things which we call temporal, or temporal duties, otherwise your faith will be in vain; the preaching you have heard will be in vain to you, and you will sink to hell, unless you attend to the things we tell you” (Deseret News, Oct. 15, 1856, 252).
Immediately horses and mules and strong wagons were offered. Flour in abundance was forthcoming. Warm clothing and bedding were quickly assembled. Within a day or two the loaded wagons were moving eastward through the snow.
When the rescuers reached the beleaguered Saints, they were like angels from heaven. People wept tears of gratitude. The handcart people were transferred into wagons so they could travel more quickly to the Salt Lake community.
Some two hundred died, but a thousand were saved.
Among those who were in dire circumstances on the plains was my wife’s great-grandmother. She was part of the Hunt wagon company.
Today, my wife’s gravesite in the Salt Lake City Cemetery looks down at the gravesite of her great-grandmother, Mary Penfold Goble, who died in the arms of her daughter as she was entering this valley on December 11, 1856. She was buried the next day. She had lost three of her children on that long journey. The feet of a surviving daughter were terribly frozen.
What a story it is. It is filled with suffering and hunger and cold and death. It is replete with accounts of freezing rivers that had to be waded through; of howling blizzards; of the long, slow climb up Rocky Ridge. With the passing of this anniversary year, it may become largely forgotten. But hopefully it will be told again and again to remind future generations of the suffering and the faith of those who came before. Their faith is our inheritance. Their faith is a reminder to us of the price they paid for the comforts we enjoy."
I am a child of God. A song I sang in Primary and have sung countless times. I never really gave it much thought until the last few years. Think about what a powerful statement that is; a child of God. This is the same God that created the Earth and all the other planets. The same God who blesses my life every single day. So, as a child of God, there is nothing good in this world that I cannot accomplish. He blesses us with so many talents that we can't help but succeed with Him as our teacher. I think too often we are afraid to try because we are afraid to fail. Guess what, that is part of the learning process. A little over 3 years ago, I picked up a camera and decided to take pictures. I have tried to learn as much as I can about how the camera works. Then I practice. Not every shot comes out the way I would like it to. A lot of my earlier work is terrible but I learned from it. I hope to continue to get better at it. I hope to share my testimony of our Savior's gospel through my photographs. The world is such a beautiful place and God's hand can be seen in all of it. He wants us to be happy like any parent does for their children. He wants us to succeed. He wants us to grow. He wants us to love one another. Now, if all of us could remember that we are a child of God and to love one another, just imagine how great a world we could have. It is right there waiting for us to take advantage of it. Let us shake off our fears, try new things, help others, and make this world a better place. Remember, we are a child of God and with that comes great power. I think President Gordon B Hinckley said it best,
"Believe in yourself. Believe in your capacity to do great and good things. Believe that no mountain is so high that you cannot climb it. Believe that no storm is so great that you cannot weather it. You are not destined to be a scrub. You are a child of God, of infinite capacity.
Believe that you can do it whatever it is that you set your heart on. Opportunities will unfold and open before you. The skies will clear when they have been dark with portent...He who is our Eternal Father has blessed you with miraculous powers of mind and body. He never intended that you should be less than the crowning glory of His creations."
This is a photo that I took Wednesday evening when I was downtown. I love the reflecting pool in front of the temple.
This photo was from last night while I was downtown. The temperatures are finally warming up and it was a great evening for photos. The wind was blowing quite a bit so there was a lot of movement in the trees. I really like this photo because it almost looks like the Temple is sparkling near the top where the lights begin.
"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time."