Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Mom came home last night and as we sat around the table, she told us of the new Provo Temple presidency that would be coming. They shared some of the training they received from the first presidency in Salt Lake. In regards to the temple, temple workers are to treat everyone with kindness. "Error" on the side of kindness. From big jewelry, to forgetting to change out colored underclothes, to whatever. Love the patrons. As mom shared these thoughts, a sweetness filled the air. Kindness = an attribute that wins me over time and time again. (I am sure this is true thinking for most folks.)

Jade, a great mission companion (now pregnant with twins!) wrote a blog post (click here) on mean vs. kind. Besides being a great writer, I was touched by her shout out to do more random acts of kindness to strangers.

My visiting teaching companion, Becca, is always showing love and kindness. Especially to anyone who may be tempted to feel like the underdog.

Don't even get me started on Sam. Kindness is just part of his "being".

I really do LOVE and cherish kindness. I am in need to sharpening that saw, but it is something for whatever reason-my senses are keenly aware of when it is being offered. Not just to me, but more when it is being offered around me.

My ultimate FAVORITE talk on this subject is from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. I cried/rejoiced/felt more determined-dedicated to make kindness more apart of my life after hearing this talk. (Still a work in progress...)

The Virtue of Kindness
Many years ago, when I was called as a bishop, I had a desire for the bishopric to visit those who were less active in the Church and see if there was anything we could do to bring the blessings of the gospel into their lives.

One day we visited a man in his 50s who was a respected mechanic. He told me the last time he had been to church was when he was a young boy. Something had happened that day. He had been acting up in class and was being noisier than he should when his teacher became angry, pulled him out of class, and told him not to come back.

He never did.

It was remarkable to me that an unkind word spoken more than four decades earlier could have had such a profound effect. But it had. And, as a consequence, this man had never returned to church. Neither had his wife or children.

I apologized to him and expressed my sorrow that he had been treated that way. I told him how unfortunate it was that one word spoken in haste, and so long ago, could have the effect of excluding his family from the blessings that come from Church activity.

“After 40 years,” I told him, “it’s time the Church made things right.”

I did my best to do so. I reassured him that he was welcome and needed. I rejoiced when this man and his family eventually returned to church and became strong and faithful members. In particular, this good brother became an effective home teacher because he understood how something as small as an unkind word could have consequences that extend throughout a lifetime and perhaps beyond.

Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes.

Kind words not only lift our spirits in the moment they are given, but they can linger with us over the years. One day, when I was in college, a man seven years my senior congratulated me on my performance in a football game. He not only praised how well I had done in the game, but he had noticed that I had showed good sportsmanship. Even though this conversation happened more than 60 years ago, and even though it’s highly unlikely the person who complimented me has any recollection of this conversation, I still remember the kind words spoken to me that day by Gordon B. Hinckley, who would later become President of the Church.

The attributes of thoughtfulness and kindness are inseparably linked with President Hinckley. When my father passed away in 1963, President Hinckley was the first person to come to our home. I’ll never forget his kindness. He gave my mother a blessing and, among other things, promised her that she had much to look forward to and that life would be sweet for her. These words have brought comfort to her and to me, and I’ll never forget his kindness.

Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes.

Jesus, our Savior, was the epitome of kindness and compassion. He healed the sick. He spent much of His time ministering to the one or many. He spoke compassionately to the Samaritan woman who was looked down upon by many. He instructed His disciples to allow the little children to come unto Him. He was kind to all who had sinned, condemning only the sin, not the sinner. He kindly allowed thousands of Nephites to come forward and feel the nail prints in His hands and feet. Yet His greatest act of kindness was found in His atoning sacrifice, thus freeing all from the effects of death, and all from the effects of sin, on conditions of repentance.

The Prophet Joseph Smith exemplified kindness in his life to everyone, old and young. One child who benefited from the Prophet’s kindness remembered:

“My older brother and I were going to school, near to the building which was known as Joseph’s brick store. It had been raining the previous day, causing the ground to be very muddy, especially along that street. My brother Wallace and I both got [our feet] in the mud, and could not get out, and of course, child-like, we began to cry, for we thought we would have to stay there. But looking up, I beheld the loving friend of children, the Prophet Joseph, coming to us. He soon had us on higher and drier ground. Then he stooped down and cleaned the mud from our little, heavy-laden shoes, took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped our tear-stained faces. He spoke kind and cheering words to us, and sent us on our way to school rejoicing.” 1

There is no substitute for kindness in the home. This lesson I learned from my father. He always listened to my mother’s advice. As a result, he was a better, wiser, and kinder man.

I have tried to follow my father’s example and listen to my wife’s point of view. I value her opinion. For example, when my wife begins a sentence with the words “I should think you would …” I instantly pay attention and begin searching my mind for something I may have done wrong. Ofttimes before my wife has finished her sentence, I have already planned out in my mind a magnificent apology.

In truth, my wife is a model of kindness, gentleness, and compassion. And her insight, counsel, and support have been invaluable to me. Because of her I, too, am a wiser and kinder person.

The things you say, the tone of your voice, the anger or calm of your words—these things are noticed by your children and by others. They see and learn both the kind and the unkind things we say or do. Nothing exposes our true selves more than how we treat one another in the home.

I often wonder why some feel they must be critical of others. It gets in their blood, I suppose, and it becomes so natural they often don’t even think about it. They seem to criticize everyone—the way Sister Jones leads the music, the way Brother Smith teaches a lesson or plants his garden.

Even when we think we are doing no harm by our critical remarks, consequences often follow. I am reminded of a boy who handed a donation envelope to his bishop and told him it was for him. The bishop, using this as a teaching moment, explained to the boy that he should mark on the donation slip whether it was for tithing, fast offerings, or for something else. The boy insisted the money was for the bishop himself. When the bishop asked why, the boy replied, “Because my father says you’re one of the poorest bishops we’ve ever had.”

The Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. The Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father.

Each one of us will travel a different road during this life. Each progresses at a different rate. Temptations that trouble your brother may not challenge you at all. Strengths that you possess may seem impossible to another.

Never look down on those who are less perfect than you. Don’t be upset because someone can’t sew as well as you, can’t throw as well as you, can’t row or hoe as well as you.

We are all children of our Heavenly Father. And we are here with the same purpose: to learn to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. 2

One way you can measure your value in the kingdom of God is to ask, “How well am I doing in helping others reach their potential? Do I support others in the Church, or do I criticize them?”

If you are criticizing others, you are weakening the Church. If you are building others, you are building the kingdom of God. As Heavenly Father is kind, we also should be kind to others.

Elder James E. Talmage, a man who is remembered for his doctrinal teachings, showed great kindness to a neighbor family in distress. They were complete strangers to him. Before he was an Apostle, as a young father, he became aware of great suffering at a neighbor’s home whose large family was stricken with the dreaded diphtheria. He did not care that they were not members of the Church; his kindness and charity moved him to act. The Relief Society was desperately trying to find people to help, but no one would because of the contagious nature of the disease.

When he arrived, James found one toddler already dead and two others who were in agony from the disease. He immediately went to work, cleaning the untidy house, preparing the young body for burial, cleaning and providing for the other sick children, spending the entire day doing so. He came back the next morning to find that one more of the children had died during the night. A third child was still suffering terribly. He wrote in his journal: “She clung to my neck, ofttimes coughing [germs] on my face and clothing, … yet I could not put her from me. During the half hour immediately preceding her death, I walked the floor with the little creature in my arms. She died in agony at 10 a.m.” The three children had all departed within the space of 24 hours. He then assisted the family with the burial arrangements and spoke at their graveside services. 3 This he did all for a family of strangers. What a great example of Christlike kindness!

When we are filled with kindness, we are not judgmental. The Savior taught, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” 4 He also taught that “with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” 5

“But,” you ask, “what if people are rude?”

Love them.

“If they are obnoxious?”

Love them.

“But what if they offend? Surely I must do something then?”

Love them.


The answer is the same. Be kind. Love them.

Why? In the scriptures Jude taught, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” 6

Who can tell what far-reaching impact we can have if we are only kind?

My brothers and sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christ transcends mortality. Our work here is but a shadow of greater and unimaginable things to come.

The heavens opened to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He saw the living God and His Son, Jesus the Christ.

In our day, a prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, walks the earth and provides direction for our time.

As our Heavenly Father loves us, we also should love His children.

May we be models of kindness. May we ever live up to the words of the Savior: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” 7 Of these truths I bear witness in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I know that I have no excuse because I am in a very selfish time in my life--but for the last week I have had the hardest time getting out of bed! I have no children, I have no husband, and I have nothing to even justify this action. To all my married friends, I know I know! :) When I have a family such luxuries are not to be found.

Now before you go thinking I am completely lazy, I am getting up by 6:30-7, but with a morning like that...well let me share my thoughts today.

What a blessing it was to hit the snooze button for a good hour. My personality is if I HAVE to wake up at a curtain time, I like to set the alarm clock a good 30- 50 mins earlier because I love waking up and knowing that I still get 45 mins more of time in bed. (Yes I realize my future spouse may hate this habit, so I will have to break it I am sure. :)) But for whatever reason the last week, I just have not been able to get out of bed--so not like my personality.

Yesterday as I was frustrated with my morning and my lack of "get up" I found my goal sheet for 2010. Little late to be reading my goals here in Oct. But as I read over all the things I wanted to do and become this year, the spirit filled me and I was determined to overcome this sleeping in habit that I have allowed to creep in for the last week.

This morning, my alarm went off at 4:45. And although I slept in until 5:40, I still got out of bed, threw on my exercise clothes and went out the door. The sky was still black and no stars were out because of a thick low cloud cover. As I turned a corner, I saw a sliver of the moon start to come to a break in the clouds. It is not November yet, but that moon could have passed for a harvest moon. There was only a little break in the clouds for 20 mins until the moon fell behind the west mountains. The moon was a pumpkin in the sky--HUGE and orange. I smiled as it portrayed the perfect Halloween color. As I finished my exercise, I noted all the cars passing. They were passing under a black sky--where as moments before it was filled with a great orange light. Had those cars come just mins before they would have seen the magnitude and brilliance of the moon. 20 mins--that is all the window of time there was to see it.

How often in my life, do I sleep away or idle 20 mins--here or there-- doing something less then worthy of my precious time? (I say precious, not because my time is a higher value than any time, but President Eyring talked about how sacred it is to have "time" in the last time.) If I had not gotten up this morning, the moon still would have come out-pumpkin like in glory and the break in the clouds still would have let her light shine for 20 mins...the moment still would have been there--but like the late passing cars, I would have not even known the moment existed while asleep in my bed.

I believe this moon is an exact replica of my life. God's hand-in a 20 min or a whatever time-is ever present in my life. I see His works all around me. Storm cloud covers or not. When the break in the clouds come to revel His hand, like the moon in the morning--His miraculous grace and power is there. If I am idling in anyway, I will not be there to see it, or like the passing cars--miss out on such a moment from heaven. Doesn't meant the moments still don't happen, but I for one do not want to be doing things of lesser value that would take me from experiencing such a moment. The moments are always there--throughout the day. And I believe if I am living or striving to live my life in accordance with doing good and striving to keep the commandments--I will see many many more pumpkin moons in the breaks of life.

God's hand is-never hidden-. Am I choosing to be in the places/moments where I can recognize it?

God bless my Pumpkin morning!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


A choice friend recently went through the temple last month. There was a time when she dreaded even the thought of going there. Not because of what it was, but she wanted to make sure she was committed to keep the covenants she entered into there. She went to the temple completely by herself. Her escort was a temple worker. She wanted it this way, because for her, she needed to experience the temple by herself.

She called me up about a week ago and said she was ready to go to the temple with the ward and asked if I would be willing to come. My ward temple night was the day before and being in a new ward I wanted to support them, but this dear friend "going public" with others knowing she was endowed meant a lot to me. I prayed. I was to go with her which I was trilled about. For the last week I have been anticipating to going to the temple with her last night.

Yesterday while at work, I thought of another friend that I had not seen in a long time. I called her up and asked if she would like to come with us. Her situation is quite tough. The amount of afflictions she has in her physical/mental areas are some of the greatest battles. And yet this sweet sister chooses the better path. She could be over come by sorrow and grief and yet she strives to live each day defiant and full of faith. She kills her "odds" with her believe/trust in Jesus Christ.

She said that she would go, but an hour or so later she called me to let me know that she just didn't think she would be able to go. She didn't have any clean clothes and her mom was really sick. I told her that if she would pray about whether to go or not I would support whatever she received. I suggested that she wash her clothes in the tub and hang them up to dry if she was really worried about something to wear. She said she would pray.

A few hours later she left me another message saying she would be ready to go at 6. :)

As I entered her house my heart became heavy as I looked at the challenges that face she and her mom. I was proud of her for wanting to go to the temple.

As I went into her room. She had surgery on her ankle (I think it was her ankle/foot area-don't quote me) and still had the cast on. She has not been to the temple since the beginning of Aug. But cast and crutches she was determined to do a session. I had forgotten my advice about washing her clothes, but as I gave her a hug I was shocked to feel her all wet. She looked BEAUTIFUL! But I exclaimed that her clothes were all wet and she just smiled and told me that she washed them like I had suggested. My heart swelled with the faithfulness of this sweet sister. Now please note- it is Oct, and yesterday in the valley it was so cold that we had a good scuff of snow! This is a picture taken from my car on the way out of work. See that mountain-- there is snow on the top of it!! This tells you it was not the "warmest" of days.

Now this sweet sister was not thinking of the weather outside. I doubt she had been outside for a few days. But here she was wet skirt, shirt, and sweater/cardigan--crutches and cast--hobbling out to my car! What a site. My heart was full.

When we got in my car, I put the heater on to quite a full blast and aimed it her.

We drove picked up our friends and went to the temple. I dropped everyone off as close as I could. I was really worried about getting out of the temple at 9 pm and having her wet clothes make her sick. As I was thinking this, a spot was available for front row parking!! At least I could run to my car and not have her sit out in the cold too long.

I went into the temple and found my adopted grandparents waiting to do initiatory!! This was a surprise because of health reasons the Shepherds had said they wouldn't make it to the stake temple night anymore. This was a kind blessing from God to see them there. I also saw other sisters from my old ward that I so dearly loved--the whole situation was choice.

We went to go do a session. I could not help smiling at my friends and to God. There were two sisters there that were at the temple for their second time. It was beautiful to behold. And there was my friend with her crutches against the wall, just happy to be in the temple.

Through the session I still thought about how when we left the temple with her wet clothes--IF she became sick it would be my fault. I said a silent prayer. I had thought about going and asking the temple workers to dry her clothes in the temple dryers but thinking that would not work because of sanitary reasons--then I thought maybe I could ask them if we could lay out the clothes where the workers change their clothes, perhaps the 1 1/2 of being in the session would allow them to dry out more. The thought of the clothes being in a small locker with no air--just made the thought of her putting them back on wet all the more dreadful. These are the thoughts that raced in my in the session I prayed/asked/thought in my mind that Heavenly Father could send some angles to blow-dry the clothes in the locker. I explained the faith of this sister in coming to the temple that night and all her efforts. Now she had not complained once about her clothes. And in fact--had I not hugged her I would have never known they were wet! She would have just let me taken her for she would have not said a word. That is just how this sister is/has--faith of David and non murmuring like Nephi.

I stewed over her clothes for a few more moments and then focused on the endowment and basked in the sisters sitting around me. I LOVE that God gives us brothers and sisters to love!

The session finished, and it was sweet. I was able to shake my old bishoprics hands in the celestial room--choice sons of God. I told my old Bishop about this sister and her wet clothes. He too knows the type of determination she has, even at the sacrifice of comfort. He beamed with is smile for her.

We all went downstairs. I changed out of my temple clothes and met my friends in the lobby. My cast/crutch using sister was waiting for me. I hugged her...and found her clothes to be completely DRY! Not believing it I rubbed her sweater and exclaimed that the angels had gotten out their blow-dryers! I wanted to cry. She was completely dry.

We talked about the miracle all the way back to her place.
This morning as I got up to walk--the natural man in me wanted to rationalize this miracle. But I have done the math. A locker that is 5 1/2 feet'ish tall 12 inches'ish wide and 15-17 inches'sih deep--no air circulation--wet/damp clothes hanging in there for two hours = still damp/wet clothes coming out! Think of a boys locker room after a practice. Sweaty clothes hung in a locker-no air circulation for two hours = still moist, now smelly, I don't want to go on a date with you if you are wearing those same clothes!

Angels HAVE blow-dryers!

Needless to say - it was a choice night in the temple.

Jesus is the Christ!
God is a God of miracles.