Saturday, February 28, 2015

On My Honor, I Promise...

A few recent experiences have caused me to ponder on what the Boy Scouts of America can mean to a boy and to a nation.

My nephew recently turned 8 years old.  We invited him to join the Cub Scout Pack in our neighborhood.  He wanted so badly to join Cub Scouts because he wanted a pocket knife.  He's a real boy!  Each Wednesday my wonderful wife, Jerrea', picks him up from school and takes him to his den meeting.  He is always excited and enthusiastic to learn.  Recently we were working on his Bobcat award and discussing the Cub Scout Promise:  "I promise to do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people, and to obey the law of the pack."  We discussed duty.  We discussed how he could help other people.  If an eight year old boy can internalize these simple principles he will succeed in life.

I have recently been serving as a Unit Commissioner for the BSA.  In that role I have the opportunity to participate in Board of Reviews for scouts who are candidates for the Eagle rank.  It has been very rewarding to review with these young men their scouting experience, the Eagle Project, and how Scouting has impacted their life and how it will impact their future.  I saw that Scouting had truly changed most of the boys.  This experience has given me an inside glimpse into how Scouting can shape boys.

Finally, I recently attended a Court of Honor where four boys were awarded the rank of Eagle.  As I listened to their mothers pay tribute, as I viewed a video presentation of each boy, as I listened to each of them describe their Eagle Projects, as I heard them pledge to live a life that honors the ideals they had learned in Scouting, I couldn't help but wonder what positive impact they would have on society because of Scouting.

I truly believe that there are only two other organizations, besides Scouting, that can have a greater impact on a boy and on our country's future:  the Gospel of Jesus Christ and family.  Yet adding Scouting to church and family only helps and enhances their roles in preparing boys to be real men, fathers, and contributors to society.

On my honor, I promise to do my best... to support the scouting organization so that the ideals of being "trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent" will permeate more boys and have a greater impact our communities and nation.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Your Gravity - Happy Valentine's Day Jerrea'

To Jerrea’
Valentine’s Day 2015

Your Gravity

It’s like I’ve lost control
A victim of your power
Drawn to be near you
Every waking hour
But I’m not imprisoned by your gravity
For with you is where I want to be

You’re like coming up for air
Like finally coming home
The feeling that you get
When you know that you belong

Whenever I’m embraced in your gravity
Something comes alive in me
Whenever I’m embraced in your gravity
My heart beats alive in me

When we’re far apart
Your attraction I feel
Nothing I imagine
A force that is so real
I want to be imprisoned by your gravity
For with you is where I want to be

You’re like coming up for air
Like finally coming home
The feeling that you get
When you know that you belong

Whenever I’m embraced in your gravity
Something comes alive in me
Whenever I’m embraced in your gravity
My heart beats alive in me.

If ever I thought without you I’d be free
Escaping the attraction of your gravity
Aimlessly and lonely I’d wander out in space
Seeking to find myself again in your embrace

You’re like coming up for air
Like finally coming home
The feeling that you get
When you know that you belong

Whenever I’m embraced in your gravity
Something comes alive in me
Whenever I’m embraced in your gravity
My heart beats alive in me.



Sunday, February 8, 2015

Experiences are Deposits Into the Bank of Future Memories

If you are a "believer" as I am, then you subscribe to the notion that God has a purpose for you, and part of that purpose is to live intentionally to bless others.  Our interactions with others, whether simple or profound, accidental or planned, are recorded in our memories to be recalled at some future time.  Our efforts to bless others, even for example, through simple kind words, are recorded in the participants' memories.

I have often only considered what might be called the immediate impact of my interactions with others - a hope that my words or acts towards another might make a difference now.  Perhaps, however, the timing isn't right, we aren't receptive, we are distracted, or even hardened.  But there is a more hopeful perspective when one considers the role and purpose of the Holy Ghost in our lives.

Most of us have experienced memories, that when they come to our present mind, bring with them powerful feelings of gratitude, spiritual strength, perspective, or answers to long sought questions.  I believe that these memories are often brought to us by the promise that "he shall ... bring all things to your remembrance...".  The gift of the Holy Ghost enables us to receive specifice blessings through the Holy Ghost, including the blessing to remember.

So in our daily lives as we strive to wipe a tear, comfort a sad heart, build faith through our testimony, remember that we not only bless in the present, but create a future memory that may be recalled at a time when it is critically needed.  Such was the blessing of the prophet Enos as he went in the woods to hunt.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Circumstantial Gratitude

They say that with age and experience comes wisdom.  For me what comes are deeper emotions, more frequent feelings, and a few more spontaneous tears.  Perhaps it comes from a realization that all I have and am comes from a merciful and generous God.

As I sit here this evening, hundreds of miles away my daughter is giving birth to my 5th grandchild.  I anxiously await the phone call to hear "mother and baby are well".  This waiting causes the deepest and strongest of emotions to boil over.  Gratitude is what rises to the top.

I am certainly grateful as I count my blessings - which include my family.  But there is an indescribable sense of gratitude what washes over one when he recognizes that both the good and the bad, the bitter and the sweet, the cold and the warmth, the pain and the joy, which are all part of our existence, are blessing from a loving God.  As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf recently said,
We can choose to be grateful, no matter what.
This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer.
When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.
 Though my current feelings are not described as grief, discouragement, or despair, I, like every other human being, have experienced these over the years.  And my gratitude has emerged as these trials have ended.  Yet my real challenge is to maintain an attitude of gratitude that can withstand the onslaught of the future bitter pills that surely must come.

So in my current state of circumstantial gratitude where I await the birth of a beautiful grand-daughter, may I savor the sweetness of the hour with a thankful heart, and may I likewise commit to savor, with god-like perspective, my future - come what may.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Being a grandpa is AWESOME!  There is something unique about how a grandchild can melt your heart and how a grandpa can make a grandchild scream with joy.  This past weekend I experienced both.

Jerrea' and I met our daughters in St.George this past weekend to spend some time together.  My highlight was going swimming at the condo pool.  Jackson (4) and Hattie (3) plunged into the one foot deep water on the kiddie end of the pool (Hattie actually just plunged her feet, at first.).  Soon I was doing the "grandpa" thing - pretending to be a shark or whale.  Soon Jackson said:  "Hey Grandpa, you are a Grandpa-Fish.  Hattie watch out for the Grandpa-fish, he will get you!"  Of course, part of the fun was to let Grandpa-Fish actually catch you and gobble you up.  We exhausted ourselves in the simple joy of playing the Grandpa-Fish game - grandpa and his two grandkids.

Memories created with those you care about can be the sunshine in a rainy day, the warmth of a hug when you feel lonely, and the meaning you seek in a seemingly pointless existence.  Both creating the memory, and reliving the memory can provide a renewable source of happiness.

We are all busy.  We have our agendas.  We really don't want to be troubled or stretched outside our comfort zone.  But we will at times receive whispering impressions like:  "Paul, you should really put down your book and get your swimsuit on and go swim with the grandkids."  There are precious rewards for following these whisperings.

Though grandpa-hood is great, you can be the Daddy-Fish, Uncle-Fish, Big Brother-Fish, or Whoever-Fish that someone else needs.  Make a smile, make a memory.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Modern Day Superwoman

As I reflected on a Facebook post to my sister, Cathy Chamberlain Gilmore, wishing her a happy birthday, I caught myself being awestruck by the great woman she has become.  Even a modern day Superwoman.

In honoring my sister I don't cast any dishonor on her husband Ed.  As partners they have created a wonderful family and because of Ed's dedication to his wife and family Cathy has been able to blossom into who she is.

I don't think a week goes by in the Gilmore household when the oven is not producing the aroma of baked goodness.  Though Cathy occasionally will sell her coveted cakes, I have noted that she shares her tasty cakes, pies, breads with her family, friends and neighbors.  Moving into Cathy's neighborhood, I imagine, one would feel they have arrived in bakers heaven.

Cathy is strong - in spirit, in physical capacity, and emotionally.  I have seen her work, I have seen her run.  Her spiritual keenness is evident as she constantly seeks to help, give aid, and comfort others - at trait she inherited from our maternal Grandmother, Dorothy Clark.  In the tribulations of everyday life her emotional toughness enables her to mother her four happy and beautiful daughters.
If you have met Cathy and Ed's daughters you will note that they are always happy, friendly and smiling.  What great legacy of attributes to leave with your children.  Though I should credit Ed for their sensor of humor.

Of particular note is the happy demeanor and exploding smile that you will find on their daughter, Jane.  No doubt Cathy's motherly love and care are combined with Jane's innate goodness and happiness that plant this permanent grin on this beautiful special girl.  It is evidence of how motherly care can inscribe traits and characteristics on the souls of children.  Cathy is writing a great history through the lives of her own children.

Speaking of writing, Cathy is accomplished at knowing how words should flow on paper.  She is a capable writer and capable of fixing other's writings, including my own.  This, coupled with her self-taught design skills has made in her a very creative marketing professional.  She uses these skills to work to provide additional means to support the needs of a young growing family.

How she does it all I can't fathom.  But what I think makes Cathy a modern day Superwoman is that she doesn't know she is.  She readily acknowledges her own weakness.  And though I don't know the inner chambers of her heart, I would guess there are times she despairs, like many of us, for not living up to some unrealistic, imaginary, perfect model of a person she strives to be. That type of humility is that I think she possesses - when it doesn't dwell on despair, but causes us to rely on God to pick us up and help us be just a bit better the next day.

To my Superwoman sister, thanks for your example, for your service in behalf of all of us, particularly for the delectable treats you always share with us, and for kindly reminding us through example and word what is most important in life.  Happy Birthday.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Why Does God Not Heal Everyone?

Today I attended the funeral of Tammy Parry.  Her husband Mark worked for me for several years.  Over those year I had an opportunity to meet and be with Tammy several times.  Each time I was touched by her kindness, sweet spirit, intriguing and genuine interest, and happy, positive demeanor.  I was equally touched by Mark's tenderness toward Tammy as he gently and patiently cared for her.

We attend funerals for many reasons: to remember and honor a loved one, to express love and support a friend or family member, because we feel obligated, and sometimes we are drawn there.  We can leave a funeral with a broad range of feelings ranging from deep sadness, regret, gratitude, perspective, love, awe, and sometimes a whole new outlook on life.  Today I have a whole new outlook on life!

After giving birth to her first and only child, Josh, in her early twenties, Tammy was left with a body racked with a range of ailments of which I still don't fully know and still can't comprehend, but which included near blindness, deteriorating physical weakness, and seizures. At the onset of this sudden illness the Lord and Tammy had the choice to continue on in her severely limited state or to return home to God.  To the blessing of so many they chose to endure.  And thus continued 33 more years of what I will call the life of an Angel.

Oh Jesus I have read of all thy miracles performed.
Healing the lame, raising the dead, causing the blind to see.
If Thou who created heaven and earth can even calm the storm.
Oh why not Lord heal me, oh Lord, why not me?

Though Tammy may have never asked this question, so many of us cry out a questioning plea of "why me?"  Or, "if you can perform miracles, oh why not me?"

I learned today the those with seemingly less can often do so much more than us who appear to have it all.  Tammy did more with less than I in as many years, even in all of my abundance.  I learned today that God may not heal a body so that he can save a soul - even many souls.  I learned that God loves us enough to give us weakness so we can be strong through Christ's Atonement.  I learned that a physically feeble and weak mother can raise the strongest son.  I realize that some of God's choicest and strongest spirits are housed in the weakest of bodies.  I have witnessed how any who will allow it, can be changed for the better by knowing someone like Tammy Parry.

I know just as in the days of Jesus that God allows people like Tammy to suffer and endure so "that the works of God should be manifest."  Isn't it amazing that as Tammy suffered and endured she was made more like God and that those who served her and whom were served by her also gained God-like attributes.  Isn't that really what God's "work and glory" are; to bring us home changed so we can live His life forever?

Thanks be to God, who in his wisdom allows weakness of some form to exist in all of us, that in our weakness we can turn to Him for His grace and mercy.  And though many of us may never be healed of our weakness in this life, through the process of enduring and striving to overcome, we become like Him.  And ironically we are often even carried along on the coattails of even the weakest.  Such was the case with Tammy Parry.

Thank you God and thank you Tammy for choosing to stay and endure 33 years.  Though you were not blessed with the miracle of a physical healing we were all blessed with the miracle of your life.  How you have blessed us - even me - who only had the pleasure of your company a handful of times and was most privileged to attend your inspiring funeral!