Wednesday, March 30, 2011

wisdom of plog the blacksmith

one of my favorite moments (and there are many) in the seventh seal is at the end, when the group finally meets death.  plog the blacksmith humbly introduces himself and then encourages his wife to politely curtsy.  throughout much of the movie we have seen the couple fighting, slinging insults and threats at each other in passion and anger.  yet here, when faced with death, he describes them as a simple couple who love each other, euphemistically acknowledging that they have had their disputes and disagreements, but no more than any other couple.

i like that. 
sometimes we get in fights with those we love, but soon we calm down and remember that, when it comes down to it, we're still (and perhaps moreso) deeply grateful for those people in our life.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

a quillinod of fuzzies

editor's note: i acknowledge that this post is poorly written and very cliched.
there's no way i could say what i want to even if i rewrote this seven more times.
but the pictures say it perfectly.

you know how sometimes you meet someone really cool?

and so you're like, "dang, i'd like to be friends with this person"....

and cool stuff just seems to happen when you're together?

you see things differently.

and other times you make awesomeness happen yourself.

and when life gets harder all around you, 
you use that force to bring your friendship closer and make it stronger.

and no one else quite gets it.  
not that you're being exclusive, it's just different.

anytime, day or night.

at the best of times and the worst of times.

there are some parts of my life that i wouldn't change for anything.

happy 23rd.


Friday, March 25, 2011

been there, done that

i found out that this weekend is the festival of colors.  i'd actually been thinking about that, wondering when it was happening this year.  yet, even if i was still living in utah, i don't think i'd go this year.  it's an amazing experience, completely unreal and with a color scheme to rival apocalypse now, but each year it gets bigger and therefore crazier, and i'm kind of done with it all.

but if you haven't been and are feeling up for the adventure of braving a wild utah crowd of thousands, i highly recommend it.

here're some highlights from last year.
seriously dang fun.

i just realized that these pictures are all shantell's, since i don't think mark and i ever got our disposable cameras developed.... she did good.

remember, if you're thinking you'll be cool and go to an indian restaurant afterwards, there's a good chance that other people were thinking the same thing, so be prepared to wait. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

the world is spinning at 45 rpm

dear sheep go to heaven::

i miss you.  there are so many things that i want to tell you.  talking with you is fun and refreshing and at times quite cathartic.  i'm sorry i don't have time these days.  so much is going on and the days go by so fast i'm not even sure what i did in those 24 hours.  i apologize that the few posts i have given you in the past few weeks have been either brief or selections from somewhere else.  i want you to know that i still love you and will do all that i can to make time for you whenever possible.  thank you for being so patient with me.  i wouldn't want any other blog on the web but you.


-->jeff *

p,s, there's no blog better than you

Saturday, March 19, 2011

of things that matter most

for Christmas, emcat gave me a harry potter one-a-day calendar, not unlike the far side calendars that i had for years growing up.  some days have a still from a movie, some have little trivia facts about the cast and crew (the girl who plays ginnie had her birthday not too long ago...), and some have quotes from the movies.
this stood out to me as i read it again tonight, making me glad i hadn't torn the days off since before my trip:

luna: we both believe you, by the way.  that he who must not be named is back, and you fought him, and the ministry and the prophet are conspiring against you and dumbledore.

harry: thanks.  seems you're about the only ones that do.

luna: i don't think that's true.  but i suppose that's how he wants you to feel.

harry: what do you mean?

luna: well, if i were you-know-who, i'd want you to feel cut off from everyone else.  because if it's just you alone, you're not as much of a threat.

-harry potter and the order of the phoenix
actual time of posting: 2:43 a.m., sunday, march 20, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

the best it yet to be

there's something really strange about being on a snowboarding trip when i lived in utah for ten years and all of this was less than an hour's drive from me and my friends (aspen is pretty much like park city, just not as wedged in such a small area.)  there's a certain feeling of regret and missed opportunities that floats in from time to time when i think about this odd and moderately tragic irony, that my friends (whom i introduced to the who game) have season passes and i'm now one of those people who plans "ski trips."

at any rate, on the plane yesterday i came across this talk and it kind of cut me to the quick.

seriously dang awesomeness.

The Best is Yet to Be by Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
from the january 2010 ensign.

The start of a new year is the traditional time to take stock of our lives and see where we are going, measured against the backdrop of where we have been. I don’t want to talk about New Year’s resolutions, but I do want to talk about the past and the future, with an eye toward any time of transition and change in our lives—and those moments come virtually every day.

As a scriptural theme for this discussion, I have chosen Luke 17:32, where the Savior cautions, “Remember Lot’s wife.” What did He mean by such an enigmatic little phrase? To find out, we need to do as He suggested. Let’s recall who Lot’s wife was.

The story, of course, comes to us out of the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, when the Lord, having had as much as He could stand of the worst that men and women could do, told Lot and his family to flee because those cities were about to be destroyed. “Escape for thy life,” the Lord said. “Look not behind thee … ; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (Genesis 19:17; emphasis added).

With less than immediate obedience and more than a little negotiation, Lot and his family ultimately did leave town but just in the nick of time. The scriptures tell us what happened at daybreak the morning following their escape:

“The Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;

“And he overthrew those cities” (Genesis 19:24–25).

My theme comes in the next verse. Surely, with the Lord’s counsel—“look not behind thee”—ringing clearly in her ears, Lot’s wife, the record says, “looked back,” and she was turned into a pillar of salt (see verse 26).

Just what did Lot’s wife do that was so wrong? As a student of history, I have thought about that and offer a partial answer. Apparently, what was wrong with Lot’s wife was that she wasn’t just looking back; in her heart she wanted to go back. It would appear that even before she was past the city limits, she was already missing what Sodom and Gomorrah had offered her. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once said, such people know they should have their primary residence in Zion, but they still hope to keep a summer cottage in Babylon. 1

It is possible that Lot’s wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. We certainly know that Laman and Lemuel were resentful when Lehi and his family were commanded to leave Jerusalem. So it isn’t just that she looked back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin.

Faith Points to the Future
As a new year begins and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives.

So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently, she thought that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as what she was leaving behind.

To yearn to go back to a world that cannot be lived in now, to be perennially dissatisfied with present circumstances and have only dismal views of the future, and to miss the here and now and tomorrow because we are so trapped in the there and then and yesterday are some of the sins of Lot’s wife.

After the Apostle Paul reviewed the privileged and rewarding life of his early years—his birthright, education, and standing in the Jewish community—he says to the Philippians that all of that was “dung” compared to his conversion to Christianity. He says, and I paraphrase, “I have stopped rhapsodizing about ‘the good old days’ and now eagerly look toward the future ‘that I may apprehend that for which Christ apprehended me’” (see Philippians 3:7–12). Then come these verses:

“This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14).

No Lot’s wife here. No looking back at Sodom and Gomorrah here. Paul knows it is out there in the future, up ahead wherever heaven is taking us, that we will win “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Forgive and Forget
There is something in many of us that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either our mistakes or the mistakes of others. It is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ. To be tied to earlier mistakes is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist.

I was told once of a young man who for many years was more or less the brunt of every joke in his school. He had some disadvantages, and it was easy for his peers to tease him. Later in his life he moved away. He eventually joined the army and had some successful experiences there in getting an education and generally stepping away from his past. Above all, as many in the military do, he discovered the beauty and majesty of the Church and became active and happy in it.

Then, after several years, he returned to the town of his youth. Most of his generation had moved on but not all. Apparently, when he returned quite successful and quite reborn, the same old mind-set that had existed before was still there, waiting for his return. To the people in his hometown, he was still just old “so-and-so”—you remember the guy who had the problem, the idiosyncrasy, the quirky nature, and did such and such. And wasn’t it all just hilarious?

Little by little this man’s Pauline effort to leave that which was behind and grasp the prize that God had laid before him was gradually diminished until he died about the way he had lived in his youth. He came full circle: again inactive and unhappy and the brunt of a new generation of jokes. Yet he had had that one bright, beautiful midlife moment when he had been able to rise above his past and truly see who he was and what he could become. Too bad, too sad that he was again to be surrounded by a whole batch of Lot’s wives, those who thought his past was more interesting than his future. They managed to rip out of his grasp that for which Christ had grasped him. And he died sad, though through little fault of his own.

That also happens in marriages and other relationships. I can’t tell you the number of couples I have counseled who, when they are deeply hurt or even just deeply stressed, reach farther and farther into the past to find yet a bigger brick to throw through the window “pain” of their marriage. When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died to heal.

Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is that charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, “Hey! Do you remember this?” Splat!

Well, guess what? That is probably going to result in some ugly morsel being dug up out of your landfill with the reply, “Yeah, I remember it. Do you remember this?” Splat.

And soon enough everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what our Father in Heaven pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing.

Such dwelling on past lives, including past mistakes, is just not right! It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. In some ways it is worse than Lot’s wife because at least she destroyed only herself. In cases of marriage and family, wards and branches, apartments and neighborhoods, we can end up destroying so many others.

Perhaps at this beginning of a new year there is no greater requirement for us than to do as the Lord Himself said He does: “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42).

The proviso, of course, is that repentance has to be sincere, but when it is and when honest effort is being made to progress, we are guilty of the greater sin if we keep remembering and recalling and rebashing someone with his or her earlier mistakes—and that someone might be ourselves. We can be so hard on ourselves—often much more so than on others!

Now, like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies of the Book of Mormon, bury your weapons of war and leave them buried (see Alma 24). Forgive and do that which is sometimes harder than to forgive: forget. And when it comes to mind again, forget it again.

The Best Is Yet to Be
You can remember just enough to avoid repeating the mistake, but then put the rest of it all on the dung heap Paul spoke of to the Philippians. Dismiss the destructive, and keep dismissing it until the beauty of the Atonement of Christ has revealed to you your bright future and the bright future of your family, your friends, and your neighbors. God doesn’t care nearly as much about where you have been as He does about where you are and, with His help, where you are willing to go. That is the thing Lot’s wife didn’t get—and neither did Laman and Lemuel and a host of others in the scriptures.

This is an important matter to consider at the start of a new year—and every day ought to be the start of a new year and a new life. Such is the wonder of faith, repentance, and the miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The poet Robert Browning wrote:

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in his hand
Who saith, “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!” 2
Some of you may wonder: Is there any future for me? What does a new year or a new semester, a new major or a new romance, a new job or a new home hold for me? Will I be safe? Will life be sound? Can I trust in the Lord and in the future? Or would it be better to look back, to go back, to stay in the past?

To all such of every generation, I call out, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the “high priest of good things to come” (Hebrews 9:11).

Keep your eyes on your dreams, however distant and far away. Live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness, of trust and divine love that will transform your life today, tomorrow, and forever. That is a New Year’s resolution I ask you to keep.

(yeah, it's what inspired that youtube video)

Friday, March 11, 2011

2 > 1

so this week has been dang busy and the list of posts i've been wanting to write is getting higher and higher.

sadly, i don't think i'll be posting anything until after spring break.

but i can offer up this awesome video.

Number Two - They Might Be Giants from They Might Be Giants on Vimeo.