Saturday, July 26, 2008

Before the 7th Inning Stretch

On Friday we went to the Tigers game, our first since living in Detroit. Our real estate agent gave the tickets to us. Thanks, Gary! We were brave and decided to take Landon with us since Hallie had bought him an outfit and all back in May. We arrived to our seats right as everyone was taking the field, and we were ready to watch the game. Landon did pretty well for having so much stimulation. For at least an inning Hallie walked the inside of the stadium with him in his stroller, and he seemed to like that. The stadium is beautiful! They have a ferris wheel and a carousel inside. The Tigers were winning when we left, but as I checked this morning they gave up two runs in the end and they lost. Oh well. Maybe they will do better tonight. They play the White Sox again. Below are the photos we took of the park and our kid.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Moment That Changed Forever

Well our moment was more like an hour, but it felt like a moment.
One year ago today at about 3:15 pm Utah time we met Natalie for the first time. On that day she gave us several sonogram pictures and I couldn't believe that she would be so generous after just barely meeting us but she was. How blessed we are to have her, Ambrosia, Jared, and most importantly Landon in our lives.
I mailed her nearly 100 photos and a three page letter. I hope she enjoys receiving them as we enjoy thoroughly taking photos of our little Albert Einstein.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

On Mormon blogs and podcasts

I wish I knew better how to find more thoughtful, challenging, and spiritually inspiring LDS-oriented blogs and podcasts out there. I do not mean to complain by making this statement. What I mean to say is that either I haven’t looked hard enough, or I don’t know where to look. On my iPod yesterday, I heard two great talks, one given by Dr. Robert F. Bohn at the 1991 Sunstone Symposium titled, “Cultural vs. Gospel Doctrine and the ‘Unsaid Sermon Phenomenon’,” and another given by Ronald Brough at the December 11, 2007, BYU Devotional titled, “Balance in Life.”

I caught Bro. Bohn’s talk from the Mormon Matters podcast. As noted by Clay Whipkey on the page referring to the talk, “The talk, and the response by Toby Pingree, explores a serious problem in the practical everyday lives of Latter-day Saints” of interpreting more out of spoken sermons than what they genuinely teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Two items caught my attention:

First, I appreciated the way he shared and contrasted spoken sermons and the possible reinterpretations of those spoken words we may sometimes inflict upon ourselves. For instance: The spoken, “We feel richly blessed that the Lord has trusted us to bear and raise several of His spirit children” may get reinterpreted culturally from the hearer who has no children: “We cannot bear our own children—The Lord must not trust us.” The core topic (e.g., meriting the Lord’s trust) may get lost in the cultural value we as Latter-day Saints espouse (e.g., raising a righteous posterity) and may blind us to the actual gospel principle being taught.

Second, Bro. Bohn listed of 9 steps to help neutralize the perpetuation of false cultural notions of actual gospel teachings (I copied and pasted them from Clay’s page. The original post with comments is here):

  1. Understand how we develop false cultural doctrines. (In the speaker’s own words: Identify Unsaid Sermons as such.)
  2. Replace these false notions with the correct gospel doctrine which brings hope and happiness, not despair and misery. Correcting our thinking helps us overcome cultural guilt much like correcting our behavior helps us overcome gospel guilt in the repentance process.
  3. Be careful not to make generalizations about the specific experiences of others. Because something happens a certain way to one church member does not mean that all other members must experience life exactly the same way.
  4. Realize that sometimes people say things they genuinely feel but may not be gospel doctrine. Often people justify their own circumstances and say things that make them feel good based upon what happened to them.
  5. Remind ourselves that what we hear is meant to edify us. It is not necessarily a representative sample of what most Saints are experiencing in their lives each day.
  6. Stop trying to live our life exactly like others’. Instead, we should develop our own lifestyle which is consistent with the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While gospel principles are the same for all of us, how we apply those principles in our lives sometimes varies.
  7. View our life from an eternal perspective of justice, which is not limited to our mortal existence.
  8. Assume responsibility for our feelings and commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ instead of reacting to other members’ well-meaning, false notions and cultural doctrines.
  9. Focus upon changing ourselves so that we reflect the gospel in our words and deeds, rather than becoming cynical about the shortcomings of others. In reality, we can only change ourselves, not others. The best we could do is influence others.

Bonus (added by Toby Pingree):

  • Don’t take offense where none is intended.
  • Don’t be thin-skinned.

The audio of the talk is available here. Unfortunately, I have not found a transcript.

Bro. Brough’s talk is available here in various formats. He drew eight principles from a General Conference talk offered by Elder M. Russell Ballard (“Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance,” Ensign, May 1987, pp. 13-16):

  1. Think about your life and set your priorities.
  2. Set short-term goals that you can reach.
  3. Budget wisely and prepare for financial challenges.
  4. Stay close to your spouse, children, family, and friends.
  5. Study the scriptures.
  6. Find time for sufficient rest, relaxation, and exercise.
  7. Hold weekly family home evenings.
  8. Pray as individuals and as families.

As with Bro. Bohn’s talk, I appreciated Bro. Brough’s sincere manner and gentle humor as he used examples from his own life to illustrate his interpretation of the above suggestions. In themselves both sets of ideas from both talks seem like nothing more than common sense, but as I listened to the talks as I drove to and from my afternoon appointment yesterday, I felt grateful to be reminded that I needed to use that common sense to sort out some current concerns I have had. To me, this is the cardinal value of listening to uplifting and inspiring messages: they remind me of what I need to do, and they encourage me to believe I can do it well.

A quotation from Nietzsche was featured in the Bohn talk: “This is my way; where is yours?”—thus I answered those who asked me ‘the way.’ For the way—that does not exist” (Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Pt. III, On the Spirit of Gravity, 2). I tried to reconcile that idea with the verse of scripture that immediately popped into my head, John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” My interpretation: We each have our own way of discovering and following Christ (or finding self-fulfillment, or whatever). While certain overarching principles may exist, there really is no set pathway to walk or specific pattern of following the gospel to get to heaven. Just as each person is an individual, each individual must learn from the unique set of experiences and circumstances that form the fabric of his or her life and build meaning from it. I make a mistake when I too literally try to emulate others’ examples of happiness and fulfillment while forgetting to learn from the distinctive opportunities for learning and growth offered by my own circumstances, and I felt grateful that a couple of podcasts could bring me back in check.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Clint Eastwood and A Cute Kid

Grand Torino is the name of the movie.

I did not take my camera, but Landon and I have seen Clint Eastwood twice in the last week. Last Thursday he was filming a movie at the end of our block, so we went to watch. Today was the best. On our way home traffic was stopped by police while Clint's truck was pulled by a truck as they were filming a scene. Even though Landon was pitching a bit of a fit in the back seat, I was star struck. Who knew something so exciting could happen in our little slice of Michigan?!

I can't get over the picture below. My dad took it while he was here. This really captures Landon. Most often when he wakes up from a nap you will find him jumping and laughing in his crib. It is such a pleasure to go get him, throw him in the air, and watch him laugh. Landon's hair has grown like a wildfire, and we love the curls. We won't be cutting it just yet. This weekend we are going to our first Detroit Tigers game, and Landon will be all decked out in his Tiger outfit. We will write all about when we get back.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Simple Two Hours

Saturday was hot, muggy, and wet here in Southeast Michigan.
We spent a majority of the day at our old church building giving stuff to members who wanted items that otherwise would be going to a donations agency. Tables, chairs, hymn books, things from the kitchen, and so on. Glad it is all over. Mike has to go one more time, but Landon and I are done!
I took a time out to run to Costco, and while there Julie, a friend from the branch, called and said most of her family would be away that evening. Could she watch Landon while the two of us went to the movies? I couldn't say no to a great offer like that! So at 6:30 we dropped Landon off and went to Patterson Park where we have a movie theatre (gotta love that perk!) and saw WALL-E. It was a very cute movie, and boy, how time flies. When we got out of the movie two hours had gone by since we dropped Landon off. This was our first solo date since bringing Landon into our family, and I have to admit it was nice to be able to go out and hold hands at the movie and have Mike open my door again. Sometimes with a child we get caught up in him and forget about ourselves. Julie and Reagan had lots of fun with Landon, and he never knew we were gone. Thanks, Julie, for letting us be a couple for the evening. It was great!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Grandpa and Grandma Visit

To see our most recent pictures go to

On July 2, Hallie's parents came to visit for a week. It was very exciting to have them come to Michigan. They hadn't seen Landon since the beginning of January, and Landon has grown and changed a lot since then.

On Wednesday we rented a minivan and picked them up from the airport in the late afternoon. We went to a small diner in Grosse Pointe Woods for dinner and then home where Mommy and her friend Carmen made a big banner welcoming their arrival.

Thursday morning we got up bright and early and finished packing and then headed out of town with everyone. We were on our way to Kirtland, Ohio. The rain followed us all the way there, but it did not get our spirits down. It was fun to tour around Kirtland in the rain ("whatnot" is our new favorite word), and Landon was a great sport. Our first night we spent in Buffalo, NY, and had yummy food at Gabriel's Gate.

Friday we were off to Palmyra, NY. It was a beautiful day, and we could not ask for better weather (70s in July? Wow!). When we got to Palmyra, people were practicing for the Hill Cumorah Pagent. We hiked to the top and saw the most lovely view. Afterward we picked up a really big sandwich from the IGA and took it to eat at the Sacred Grove picnic tables. Took the tour the missionaries offered and walked the Sacred Grove. It was moving for me to tell Landon about Joseph Smith that day, loved it! Later on we drove to the Whitmer Farm and had a nice time there as well. Friday evening we spent the night in Rochester, NY, and could see fireworks from the hotel windows.

Saturday brought more excitement when we headed off to Niagara Falls. Little glitch at the border due to no birth certificate for Landon, but we got through. Dropped our stuff off at the hotel and started walking. The falls are beautiful, and we had a lot of fun there. Landon did great on the Maid of the Mist boat ride. He was a great trooper on all of this. We were upgraded at the hotel and had a room with a view of the falls. It was awesome, and even though I didn't do all that you can at the falls, I loved just being there and having time to relax.

Sunday we ate breakfast at the hotel and were able to look out over the falls while eating, and it was amazing. Packed up our stuff and got in the car to head toward home. But while in Canada Hallie can't resist buying Landon something from Roots, and Grandpa got a hoodie, too. Yay, Grandpa! A stop at Costco in Windsor and Tim Hortons made our trip complete.

Monday Mike toured us around Detroit with my cousin Tyson and his wife Springer. We had a picnic and had a lot of fun. For dinner we were going to go to the lake and BBQ, but like most of our summer has been, a big thunderstorm broke out and we had Mike BBQ from the backyard in the rain. He was a good sport. Grandpa made s'mores in tinfoil on the BBQ, and they were good and messy. What a lot of good memories!

Tuesday we hung around Grosse Pointe and just relaxed and got some things done around the house.

Wednesday found us at The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI. If you ever come to Michigan you HAVE TO go to this museum. Just awesome and we didn't get to see most of it. Mike and I bought a pass, and we now have gone twice in a week. We hope to keep going and to get all that we can out of it. Dropped Mike off at his volunteer work, ran by the temple, and took the grandparents to the Somerset Collection. It is a very nice mall that covers two sides of the street.

Thursday it was time to take Grandma and Grandpa home. Hallie was very sad to see them leave. It was so much fun to see Landon play and smile at his Grandma and Grandpa.

Landon is well tempered and is crawling like crazy these days. He loves to pull himself up onto anything he can and put anything in his mouth. With the entrance of his fourth tooth there is no stopping him.