Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Costume Fun

So, last night was the Halloween "Trunk-or-Treat" at church. Where all the kids dress up and parade around to cars in the parking lot, where everyone has decorated their trunks with spiderwebs and black lights, the whole deal. I was surprised by how elaborate people got. But this year was my first experience with the whole thing. This year we had an excuse. =)

First there was the general gathering and adult socializing, while the kids ran around and compared costumes. There were some very good ones, and I amazingly don't think I saw any duplicates, except perhaps in the same general category. Timothy's costume was a big hit. All the little kids kept coming up to pet the chicken, or try to steal it, and the "bigger" kids asked me "How is the chicken carrying him?" (Anyone else need clarification? Look closely for small blue shoes sticking out of the bottom of the orange feet)

John, unfortunately was working late, but we got some great video for him, and of course lots of candy. One of the perks of trick-or-treating with a 15-month old: He's not the one eating the candy. =) Timothy had fun walking around and watching the big kids, and even won ""Most Humorous Costume."

Then we all traipsed outside to "knock" on some trunks. It was dark, and Timothy was a little confused, but one we got back inside, and he saw what was in his bucket, boy was he excited!

By the time we got home, we had a very tired boy. He didn't even wake up when we changed his clothes and put him to bed. But he sure was cute. John's hoping to get off early on Friday, and then he can take him Trick-or-Treating at the mall. We'll see. In the meantime, here's some fun videos for you all!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh God, Where Art thou

"Oh God where art thou, and where is the Pavillion that covereth thy hiding place?"

This question was asked by the LDS Prophet Joseph Smith while he was being held in the jail in Liberty Missouri. He had seen the LDS saints suffer through many tortures and would shortly see Govenor Boggs of Missouri release an extermination order; ordering all of the members of the Mormon Church to leave the state or stand to be executed.

There are times in the past when I have felt like asking this same question of the Lord. We are given commandments and we are promised blessings of the Lord for keeping these commandments.
We are told to pray over our food before partaking, so that we may thank God for the food he has given us. That became difficult when I was thanking God for the fourth night in a row for the Ramen that was set before me while I was in college.
We are told to pay tithing and trust the Lord with our monetary security. That becomes difficult now as a father figure when it seems that the choice is between giving to the church and providing food and rainment for your family.

As you might tell this past week has been somewhat stressful. As reported in my blog last weekend Margaret's grandmother died last Sunday morning. Losing her last living grandparent has not been as big of a burden as I thought it would have been on Margaret (She'd made her peace with it a few weeks ago). However, not being able to be in Florida this week to give support to her Mother and Father has caused her to be stressed and to worry about their health and well being as they have to deal with all the details that come with planning a funeral and try to find some time to grieve in between.

Then, there's the saying that death never takes only one. That very same Sunday my mother called to inform me that Dan Stowel had been severely sick and had gone to the hospital where they found an aggressive cancer in his pancreas. He passed away this morning, less than a week after the cancer was discovered.

Dan Stowel, and I don't think he ever knew this, was someone that I looked up to as a role model. After my dad left home and my mom began taking us to a church with a larger youth group Dan Stowel and Russ Simpson were the two men who saw not the angry 15 year old teenager that most people saw, but rather a young man, hurt and confused, who needed a righteous male role model in his life. While Dan didn't have any children our age, he would often invite my brother and I, with a few other friends over to his house to swim in his pool, hang out and watch movies, play video games and talk about life and it's issues. Dan was not a perfect man and he did not pretend to be, which made me admire him even more. I remember a time when Dan and his wife were having a hard time and he left home for a few weeks. He never did tell me what the problems were, but what he said to me has left a lasting impression. I asked him because I could not understand what would cause someone I held in such high regard to do such a thing, and he said that he was sorry it had gotten to that point, and it never should have, but there comes a time when you have to stop fighting before you can start fixing. I saw in Dan a man that knew he didn't have to be perfect. He simply knew he had to be Dan and do his best. God didn't want perfect. He wanted Dan, and He used Dan and his love for music to help further his ministry.

While thinking of these things tonight and worrying about money and the job market and whether or not I would be offered a job I had applied for, and putting Timothy to bed, and thinking of how much money that Timothy has cost us in the last two years, I let my mind wander to what life would be like if we had waited a little longer to have Timothy. It was at this point that I took him into the bathroom to brush his teeth, he pointed in the mirror with a big smile and said "Teeth" as excited as he could be about the taste of the Shaklee Spearmint Toothpaste.

I realized then what joy he brings into my life each and every day. Just this morning as I was watching pieces of the presidential debate while eating my cereal, Timothy opened up the entertainment center and pulled all of the CDs out of the rack. When I realized he was being awfully quiet, and that usually means he's doing something he's not supposed to be doing, I walked around the corner into the living room. Timothy saw me coming and stopped with the look of "Oh crap, I'm caught" then after a pause, where you could almost see the wheels turning in his head, he smiled real coy like and began to put the CD's back on the rack, almost like to say, "look dad I'm helping".

It is times like these and other countless moments of joy with those we love that help us to remember that money sometimes is nothing more than a piece of paper in your wallet (or not in your wallet as the case may be) and that while sometimes unexpected and tragic, death is always a part of life, not the end thereof. We can spend our time on earth worried about temporal needs (and sometimes should in order to make sure that we are able to provide for those we have stewardship over) but it is those things that surpass the temporal into the eternal that we have reason to joy over.

In the revelation recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants Sec 121 Christ responds to Joseph Smith's prayer saying

"My son, peace be unto thy soul, thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high...
...Thou are not yet as Job..."

My hope and my prayer is that I may always remember that my afflictions shall be but a small moment, and that I may be the example to my son that Dan Stowel was to me.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

From Dust thou art...

I've always had a hard time with this biblical verse. I believe that this life we live on earth is neither the beginning nor the end of our Spirit. However this week Margaret and I have had some experiences that has shed a little light on this concept for us.

This morning we were woken up by a phone call at 1:30 am informing us that Margaret's grandma, who had been sick for quite a while, had just passed away. Margaret's comment to me later that morning after talking to her parents was that it is amazing how similar the behavior patterns can be for someone on their death bed and a newborn baby.

She talked about the lack of sleep those around these people got, the inability to do basic everyday tasks, such as going to the bathroom and feeding themselves, and the sense of frustration they both get from wanting to do these things on their own.

This got me to thinking a little about the cycle of life and the joy it can bring us. This past week Timothy has been doing things that would remind some people (mom) of myself as a youngster. There's the stuffed dog, snowball, that I got for my 2nd birthday that I had kept as a nostalgic thing that Timothy promptly walked in and grabbed off of the dresser after petting a dog at the book fair last week. Since then he has been almost inseparable from this dog.

Then there is a new fascination for the belly button along with a growing "root beer belly" as my mom would say. There is a story that when I was a chunky little one (you don't have a choice but to be chunky when you weigh 12 lbs at birth) that I would walk around the house, pull up my t-shirt and gleefuly announce "Look at my root beer belly". Well this week we had the pleasure of witnessing this

All of this thinking has made me realize that while the body is of the dust and will most assuredly return thereto, the spirit of man is eternal. However in this life the most important thing is not the time we have while on this earth, but rather the time we spend with those we love. While we most assuredly most do all we can to ensure our state in the hereafter, sometime we need to let that rest and simply take care of the now and the people we love now.