Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Neurology 101

Some things here that I did not know. Cells in the brain that transmit nerve impulses are mostly white-colored, because their constituents are mainly lipids or fatty acid chains that form the insulating myelin. The parts of the brain that process information are grey-colored cells. They contain more proteins than the white cells.

From the MRI scans, my brain has an abnormally high amount of white matter present. Nobody offered to explain why -- but everyone who made an attempt to analyze the pictures made this observation.

So what? I don´t know. Still learning...

Classification and external resources

A schwannoma, also known as a neurilemmoma is a benign nerve sheath tumor composed of Schwann cells, which normally produce the insulating myelin sheath covering peripheral nerves.
That is what was growing on my spinal cord.
Named after the German physiologist Theodor Schwann, Schwann cells (also referred to as neurolemnocytes) are a variety of glial cell that keep peripheral nerve fibres (both myelinated and unmyelinated) alive. In myelinated axons, Schwann cells form the myelin sheath (see below). The sheath is not continuous. Individual myelinating Schwann cells cover about 100 micrometre of an axon. The end result is a string of Schwann cells along the length of the axon, much like a string of sausages. The gaps between adjacent Schwann cells are called the nodes of Ranvier. The vertebrate nervous system relies on the myelin sheath for insulation and as a method of decreasing membrane capacitance in the axon. The action potential jumps from node to node, in a process called saltatory conduction, which can increase conduction velocity up to X10, without an increase in axonal diameter. In this sense, Schwann cells are the peripheral nervous system's analogues of the central nervous system oligodendrocytes. However, unlike oligodendrocytes, each myelinating Schwann cell provides insulation to only one axon (see image). This arrangement permits saltatory conduction of action potentials with repropagation at the Nodes of Ranvier, the gaps between myelinated segments. In this way, myelination greatly increases speed of conduction and saves energy .

Schwannomas are very homogeneous tumors, consisting only of Schwann cells. The tumor cells always stay on the outside of the nerve, but the tumor itself may either push the nerve aside and/or up against a bony structure, thereby causing damage.

Amateur Pshrink III

This one sounds like fun too! I wanna get all of em!

Better than collecting old comic books!

Münchausen syndrome is a psychiatric disorder in which those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma in order to draw attention or sympathy to themselves. It is in a class of disorders known as factitious disorders which involve "illnesses" whose symptoms are either self-induced or falsified by the patient. It is also sometimes known as hospital addiction syndrome.
In Münchausen syndrome, the affected person exaggerates or creates symptoms of illnesses in themselves or their child/children in order to gain investigation, treatment, attention, sympathy, and comfort from medical personnel. In some extremes, people suffering from Münchausen's Syndrome are highly knowledgeable about the practice of medicine, and are able to produce symptoms that result in multiple unnecessary operations. For example, they may inject a vein with infected material, causing widespread infection of unknown origin, and as a result cause lengthy and costly medical analysis and prolonged hospital stay. The role of "patient" is a familiar and comforting one, and it fills a psychological need in people with Münchausen's. It is distinct from hypochondriasis in that patients with Münchausen syndrome are aware that they are exaggerating, whereas sufferers of hypochondriasis believe they actually have a disease.
In 1951, Richard Asher was the first to describe a pattern of self-harm, where individuals fabricated histories, signs, and symptoms of illness. Remembering Baron Münchausen, Asher named this condition Münchausen's Syndrome in his article in The Lancet in February 1951, quoted in his obituary in the British Medical Journal:
"Here is described a common syndrome which most doctors have seen, but about which little has been written. Like the famous Baron von Münchausen, the persons affected have always travelled widely; and their stories, like those attributed to him, are both dramatic and untruthful. Accordingly the syndrome is respectfully dedicated to the Baron, and named after him."
British Medical Journal, R.A.J. Asher, M.D., F.R.C.P.
Originally, this term was used for all factitious disorders. Now, however, there is considered to be a wide range of factitious disorders, and the diagnosis of "Münchausen syndrome" is reserved for the most severe form, where the simulation of disease is the central activity of the affected person's life.

Risk factors for developing Münchausen syndrome include childhood traumas, and growing up with caretakers who, through illness or emotional problems, were unavailable.
Medical professionals suspecting Münchausen's in a patient should first rule out the possibility that the patient does indeed have a disease state, but it is in an early stage and not yet clinically detectable. Providers need to acknowledge that there is uncertainty in treating suspected Münchausen patients, so that real diseases are not under treated. Then they should take a careful patient history, and seek medical records, to look for early deprivation, childhood abuse, mental illness.
Medical professionals should avoid surgical and diagnostic procedures, if they do not seem absolutely warranted – this may well anger the Münchausen patient who seeks out such procedures and attention. At the same time, providers should attempt to form an alliance with the patients, identifying with the emotional pain they may have suffered leading to this behavior.
Medical providers should consider working with mental health specialists to help treat the underlying mood or disorder and well as to avoid countertransference, Therapeutic and medical treatment should center on the underlying psychiatric disorder: a mood disorder, an anxiety disorder or borderline personality disorder. The patient's prognosis depends upon the category under which the underlying disorder falls; depression and anxiety, for example, generally respond well to medication and/or cognitive behavioral therapy, whereas borderline personality disorder, like all personality disorders, is presumed to be pervasive and more stable over time [5], thus offers the worst prognosis.
If a patient is at risk to himself or herself, inpatient psychiatric hospitalization should be initiated.

Illnesses and conditions commonly feigned by Münchausen patients

Note that many of these conditions do not have clearly observable or diagnostic symptoms.

See also

Amateur Pshrink II

I like this one too. Can I be both? Huh, can I, can I ?

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of excessive emotionality and attention-seeking, including an excessive need for approval and inappropriate seductiveness, usually beginning in early adulthood. These individuals are lively, dramatic, enthusiastic, and flirtatious. They may be inappropriately sexually provocative, express strong emotions with an impressionistic style, and be easily influenced by others.

People with this disorder are usually able to function at a high level and can be successful socially and professionally. People with histrionic personality disorder usually have good social skills, but they tend to use these skills to manipulate other people and become the center of attention. Furthermore, histrionic personality disorder may affect a person's social or romantic relationships or their ability to cope with losses or failures. People with this disorder may seek treatment for depression when romantic relationships end, although this is by no means a feature exclusive to this disorder. They often fail to see their own personal situation realistically, instead tending to dramatize and exaggerate their difficulties. They may go through frequent job changes, as they become easily bored and have trouble dealing with frustration. Because they tend to crave novelty and excitement, they may place themselves in risky situations. All of these factors may lead to greater risk of developing depression.

The cause of this disorder is unknown, but childhood events such as deaths in the immediate family, divorce of parents and genetics may be involved. Histrionic Personality Disorder is more often diagnosed in women than men; men with some quite similar symptoms are often diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.However, Psychiatrist Dr. Rhoda Hahn supposes that it may be more often diagnosed in women because attention-seeking and sexual forwardness are typically considered to be less socially acceptable for women than for men, and, as suggested by Jonathan Oore, a more efficient means of initial social advancement.

Little research has been conducted to determine the biological sources of this disorder. Psychoanalytic theories incriminate seductive and authoritarian attitudes by fathers of these patients.

The symptoms include:

* Constant seeking of reassurance or approval.
* Excessive dramatics with exaggerated displays of emotions.
* Excessive sensitivity to criticism or disapproval.
* Inappropriately seductive appearance or behavior.
* Excessive concern with physical appearance.
* A need to be the center of attention (self-centeredness).
* Low tolerance for frustration or delayed gratification.
* Rapidly shifting emotional states that may appear shallow to others.
* Opinions are easily influenced by other people, but difficult to back up with details.
* Tendency to believe that relationships are more intimate than they actually are.
* Making rash decisions.
* Threatening or attempting suicide

The person's appearance, behavior, and history, along with a psychological evaluation, are usually sufficient to establish the diagnosis. There is no test to confirm this diagnosis. Because the criteria are subjective, some people may be wrongly diagnosed as having the disorder while others with the disorder may not be diagnosed. Treatment is often prompted by depression associated with dissolved romantic relationships. Medication does little to affect this personality disorder, but may be helpful with symptoms such as depression. Psychotherapy may also be of benefit.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines histrionic personality disorder as a pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. Is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center of attention
2. Interaction with others is often characterized by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior
3. Displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions
4. Consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to self
5. Has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail
6. Shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion
7. Is suggestible, i.e., easily influenced by others or circumstances
8. Considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are.

A mnemonic that can be used to remember the criteria for histrionic personality disorder is PRAISE ME:

* P - provocative (or seductive) behavior
* R - relationships, considered more intimate than they are
* A - attention, must be at center of
* I - influenced easily
* S - speech (style) - wants to impress, lacks detail
* E - emotional lability, shallowness

* M - make-up - physical appearance used to draw attention to self
* E - exaggerated emotions - theatrical

Histrionic Personality Disorder shares a divergent history with Conversion disorder and Somatization Disorder. Historically, they are linked to the ancient notion of hysteria, or "wandering womb." (Note, however, that according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word "histrionic" derives not from the Greek hystera, but from the Latin histrionicus, "pertaining to an actor.") Ancient Greeks thought that excessive emotionality in women was caused by a displaced uterus and sexual discontent. Christian ascetics during the Middle Ages blamed women's mental problems on witchcraft, sexual hunger, moral weakness, and demonic possession. By the 19th century, medical explanations proposed a weakness of women's nervous system related to biological sex. Thus, "hysteria" reflected the stereotype for women as vulnerable, inferior, and emotionally unbalanced. The extent to which the definition of Histrionic Personality Disorder currently reflects gender bias remains the subject of a controversy.

"Hysteria" differentiated into conversion hysteria (later to become Conversion disorder) and hysterical personality (later to become Histrionic personality disorder) in the psychoanalytic literature as well as with the writings of Kraepelin, Schneider, and others. Sigmund Freud wrote primarily about conversion hysteria. Wilhelm Reich wrote about hysteria as a set of personality characteristics and differentiated conversion hysteria as a transient disorder from hysterical character. These early conceptualizations of both kinds of hysteria carried notions of women's deficiency due to penis envy and feelings of castration. Paul Chodoff has written about the ways in which these diagnoses paralleled the misogynistic sentiment of the times.

The concept of hysterical personality was well developed by the mid-20th century and strongly resembled the current definition of Histrionic Personality Disorder. The first DSM featured a symptom-based category, "hysteria" (conversion) and a personality-based category, "emotionally unstable personality." DSM-II distinguished between hysterical neurosis (conversion reaction and dissociative reaction) and hysterical (histrionic) personality. In DSM-III, the term Hysterical Personality changed to Histrionic Personality Disorder to emphasize the histrionic (derived from the Latin word histrio, or actor) behavior pattern and to reduce the confusion caused by the historical links of hysteria to conversion symptoms. The landmark case of Ruth E. helped to fully define and emphasize the characteristics of the current DSM-IV diagnostic. DSM-III-R attempted to reduce the overlap between Histrionic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder by dropping three overlapping criteria and adding two criteria that emphasized histrionicity. DSM-IV dropped two more criteria that did not appear to contribute to the consistency of the diagnosis, according to research done by Bruce Pfohl.

Associated features may include egocentricity, self-indulgence, continuous longing for appreciation, feelings that are easily hurt, and persistent manipulative behaviour to achieve own needs.

Because of the lack of research support for work on personality disorders and long-term treatment with psychotherapy, the empirical findings on the treatment of these disorders remain based on the case report method and not on clinical trials. On the basis of case presentations, the treatment of choice is psychotherapy aimed at self-development through resolution of conflict and advancement of inhibited developmental lines. Group therapy is not recommended for those with HPD because it provides the person with an audience to play to (perform for), giving opportunity to perpetuate histrionic behavior.

* Family therapy
* Medications
* Alternative therapies

The HPD is highly reactive. If there is another major disorder present, such as delusional disorder, then emotional intensity will create anger, rage, abuse and distance in relationships.

It is important for the therapist and family members to monitor and record all situations that trigger the HPD so that the deep underlying overload of pain can be accessed and released for therapeutic change.

Amateur Pshrink

Who fits this characterization?
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the diagnostic classification system used in the United States, as "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and a lack of empathy."

The narcissist is described as turning inward for gratification rather than depending on others, and as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, and prestige. Narcissistic personality disorder is closely linked to self-centeredness.

DSM-IV divides personality disorders into three clusters based on symptom similarities. This clustering categorizes the narcissistic personality disorder as a cluster B personality disorder, those personality disorders having in common an excessive sense of self importance. Also in that cluster are the borderline personality disorder, the histrionic personality disorder and the antisocial personality disorder.

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. believes that he or she is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, people (or institutions) who are also "special" or of high status.
4. requires excessive admiration
5. has a sense of entitlement
6. is interpersonally exploitative
7. lacks empathy
8. is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April 2007 General Conference: The Healing Power of Forgiveness

President James E. Faust, addressing a general conference:
Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness.

Some hold grudges for a lifetime, unaware that courageously forgiving those who have wronged us is wholesome and therapeutic.

This is an easy principle to understand and apply -- to others. Not so easy to internalize and live by personally. I am still working on it, in some cases.

President Faust:
All of us suffer some injuries from experiences that seem to have no rhyme or reason. We cannot understand or explain them. We may never know why some things happen in this life. The reason for some of our suffering is known only to the Lord. But because it happens, it must be endured. President Howard W. Hunter said that “God knows what we do not know and sees what we do not see.”

President Brigham Young offered this profound insight that at least some of our suffering has a purpose when he said: “Every calamity that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered to come upon the few, to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord. … Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation.”

In our day the Lord has admonished us, “Ye ought to forgive one another,” and then makes it requisite when He says, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”

Of course, society needs to be protected from hardened criminals, because mercy cannot rob justice.
Forgiveness is a source of power. But it does not relieve us of consequences...

...When tragedy strikes, we should not respond by seeking personal revenge but rather let justice take its course and then let go. It is not easy to let go and empty our hearts of festering resentment. The Savior has offered to all of us a precious peace through His Atonement, but this can come only as we are willing to cast out negative feelings of anger, spite, or revenge. For all of us who forgive “those who trespass against us,” even those who have committed serious crimes, the Atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort.

Let us remember that we need to forgive to be forgiven.

Temple Worthiness

Temple worthiness is determined by the candidate, together with the bishop or branch president, and by a member of the stake or mission presidency, after they interview the person who is applying for a temple recommend. The requirements are straightforward:
* Be morally clean
* Sustain the Prophet as the only one on earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys
* Live according to the standards of the Church
* Have no unresolved sins
* Be honest
* Be an active member in good standing
* Pay a full tithe
* Have a righteous relationship within the family
* Sustain local and general Church leaders
* Keep the Word of Wisdom
* Have no apostate affiliations
Is this a beginning, an ending, or merely a comma? Is there more, or is that all there is for me to declare myself ¨temple worthy¨?

After I was divorced, I obsessed about this question endlessly. Other people called into doubt my legitimacy to hold a recommend, though I had gone though the proper process to obtain one. At one point I was carrying enough mental angst that I tore up my recommend and resolved never to return to the temple.

I have since rethought that foolish and distraught resolution. I cannot allow anyone to deprive me of sacred blessings I stand so in need of, and cannot obtain anywhere else.

I recognize that every effort of the adversary will be exerted to keep me from the Lord´s house. No matter, I will obey the Lord´s commands, not the self-righteous sniping of some ever unhappy gossips. Those who seek to keep us from obtaining those blessings would do well to consider the probable motives behind such actions. I would advise all such to get out of those circumstances as quickly as possible. It should not be a comfortable spot, in that great and spacious building, I think.

My church leaders and I determined honestly that I can serve worthily in the temple. That is the only judgement that matters.

All else is just as the sound of wind blowing across the empty desert -- it means nothing.

Spring is Sprung!

I feel a springlike sense of exhilaration, even excitement about things just coming up. The grass is turning green. Lots of good things are just around the corner!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rehab progress 31

Have not written any updates about rehab progress in many months.

Most of the time has been spent struggling to stay in one place. Treadmills are like that.

I think I have sustained two minor ischemic attack incidents since December. One just after I was released from the University Hospital. And more recently, in April.

Dr. Butrum at the UVRMC says the MRI showed no signs. But the neurological deficits show up, and are persistent. If the symptoms were of very short term, as the aphasia, a TIA might be indicated. But my problem with foot drag persists for days and weeks. My right foot continues to lag behind the rest of me, and my right hand is still weaker, more than 15 days since the symptoms appeared. Dr. Hyatt, the family practice physician, agrees that this is indicative of new stroke damage, albeit very minor, and similar to that previously sustained and partially recovered from. Sigh. More ground to cover once again.

Oh well. Some of my blog readers expressed high hopes that I would die at the last hospitalization. I am uncertain of their reasoning -- I suppose because they think they are indebted to me, and if I die, they won´t have to pay the debt. Might be sound wisdom there. If so, sorry to disappoint, but I lived.

In any event, I forgive the ill-wishers their malice and their debts. I do not want their evil intentions aimed at me, nor do I want their money. Thanks anyway.

I have been coasting at my Physical Therapy sessions, but am planning to work harder on balance and equilibrium this week. If I can make it through a week without falling down, it will be an encouraging sign. Hope for the best.

Come what may -- and LOVE it!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Back in Service

After a long winter vacation and a series of unfortunate incidents, all of our basic transportation is back in service:

Chevy Silverado 4wd crew cab pickup w/shell
Toyota 4-Runner 4wd SUV
Dodge Dakota 4wd crew cab pickup w/shell
Nissan Maxima sedan

The Toyota needed a new center link and back window, along with new marker lights and new plastic grille to make it presentable, but it is feeling much better new. The Dakota received a rebuilt transmission and transaxle thanks to Dans Trans. And the Nissan needed a new power steering booster, but now is good as ever. All together, about $5000 in vehicle repair parts and labor. Pretty hefty price tag, but they should stand up for another season.

Also in the lineup of ATV equipment:

Polaris 800 Sportsman w/winch
Honda 500
Polaris 500
Polaris 350

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Utah Places: Snow Canyon

If I didn´t know about Snow Canyon State Park, I would think there are people trying to keep it secret. It must be the most under publicized and unknown parks in Utah.

Sculptured sandstone beckons the intrepid climber to test the grip of his soles, and many wind-shaped bowls and pockets form a natural sandy playground for children. A good collection of live dunes graces the middle area of the park, with plenty of clean pink sand.

Several scenes from the film ¨Jeremiah Johnson" were staged in the Snow Canyon State Park area. Maybe you can re-enact the scene where Jeremiah and Caleb encounter Del Gue buried in the sand.

Also convenient to this location are several small volcanic ash cones that are a short, fun hike.

Utah Places: Virgin River

The Virgin River cuts across southern Utah like a meandering giant knife. It leaves deep scars across the land from its passage as it carries the burden of silt and rock ever southward. Some of the scars of passage have left behind the most fascinating chronicle of passage. Twisting and tortuous, the Virgin River Gorge guides the north/south avenue of Interstate 15, which many travellers pass over, never stopping to consider how the passage was crafted. One grain at a time, the river has worn away at the rock an eaten the river bed down. The wind and rain have worked their part. Every bright sunbeam in the merciless heat, all the long nights of frost and freezing, even geological disturbances like fault shifting and earthquakes have done their work on this twisted, alien moonscape, producing such a blasted hades of rock and sand that even desert-adapted struggle for a bare foothold in the most inhospitible barren spots. Not even hardy lichen venture onto these rocks in the savage, baking heat of the full sun.

The easiest way to see the marvel of desolation is from the comfort of your air-conditioned car. For the hardy and boot-leather restless, try the Virgin River Recreation Area campground as a base of operations. Hosted by the BLM, it is virtually empty all year round, and give convenient access to explore the marvelous desert surroundings.

While you are there, take note of the fact that you are within the region now known as the ¨Arizona Strip¨, so notorious among those who battle against the raging wildfires that spring up in the area so frequently.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Utah Places: Zions Canyon

If you were creating some of the most spectacular and enjoyable scenery on earth, and you had unlimited time and resources, you would probably come up with something very much like Zions. It is so beautiful, just to describe it in words is a cliche.

One of the problems with Zions park is that it encompasses such a vast area. Touristy types generally stray not too far from the standard fare -- although this is like saying the menu is full with prime rib. The well publicized main features of the park are unique and spectacular attractions. But a short distance from the main track, there are other wonders to behold...

Take the hike upstream from the canyon, and as it , and you encounter the Narrows -- an amazing labyrinth of twists and turns as the upper reaches of the Virgin River climb higher onto the Kapirowits Plateau. As with all canyon hikes, be mindful of frigid water, keeper potholes, and flash flooding with no advance notice flushing through.

Other hikes of note -- and notorious -- include many nearly subterranean adventures through slot canyons, like the famous Subway, pictured here. The Subway is reached via the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead on the highway northeast of the town of Virgin.

Here is another photo of a Zions backcountry destination -- Orderville Canyon. It must be seen to be appreciated. Nothing less than eyes on can convey the scope and breadth of majestic sculpture in these massive canyons.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 2009 General Conference: Adversity

President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency counselled:

With all the differences in our lives, we have at least one challenge in common. We all must deal with adversity. There may be periods, sometimes long ones, when our lives seem to flow with little difficulty. But it is in the nature of our being human that comfort gives way to distress, periods of good health come to an end, and misfortunes arrive. Particularly when the comfortable times have gone on for a while, the arrival of suffering or the loss of material security can bring fear and sometimes even anger.

The anger comes at least in part from a feeling that what is happening is unfair. The good health and the serene sense of being secure can become to seem deserved and natural. When they vanish, a feeling of injustice can come. Even a brave man I knew wept and cried out in his physical suffering to those who ministered to him: “I have always tried to be good. How could this happen?”

Questions often lead us to doubt our faith in God. The very chance to face adversity is a manifestation of Heavenly Father and our Savior´s love, though ti may not seem like it to us. We can only learn what we need to know through the hardship of tests and trials.
In this education we experience misery and happiness, sickness and health, the sadness from sin and the joy of forgiveness. That forgiveness can come only through the infinite Atonement of the Savior, which He worked out through pain we could not bear and which we can only faintly comprehend.
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

“Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, [so] that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.”

Even the Prophet Joseph Smith cried out in agony in a dungeon:

“O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?

“How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?”

The Lord’s reply has helped me and can encourage us all in times of darkness. Here it is:

“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 shalt triumph over all thy foes.

“Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.

“Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.”

The Lord will rescue His faithful disciples. And the disciple who accepts a trial as an invitation to grow and therefore qualify for eternal life can find peace in the midst of the struggle.

You remember the moment when Alma turned to the man who led the people in distress. The man told him that they had been persecuted and rejected for their poverty. And the record goes:

“And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immediately towards him, and he beheld with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word.

“Therefore he did say no more to the other multitude; but he stretched forth his hand, and cried unto those whom he beheld, who were truly penitent, and said unto them:

“I behold that ye are lowly in heart; and if so, blessed are ye.”

The scripture goes on to praise those of us who prepared for adversity in the more prosperous times. Many of you had the faith to try to qualify for the help you now need, before the crisis came.

Alma continued,
“Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty.”

The Lord always suits the relief to the person in need to best strengthen and purify him or her. Often it will come in the inspiration to do what might seem especially hard for the person who needs help himself. One of the great trials of life is losing to death a beloved husband or wife. President Hinckley described the hurt when Sister Hinckley was no longer at his side. The Lord knows the needs of those separated from loved ones by death. He saw the pain of widows and knew of their needs from His earthly experience. He asked a beloved Apostle, from the agony of the cross, to care for His widowed mother, who would now lose a son. He now feels the needs of husbands who lose their wives and the needs of wives who are left alone by death.

Most of us know widows who need attention. What touches me is to hear, as I have, of an older widow whom I was intending to visit again having been inspired to visit a younger widow to comfort her. A widow needing comfort herself was sent to comfort another. The Lord helped and blessed two widows by inspiring them to encourage each other. So He gave succor to them both.

That may seem much to ask of people in such great need themselves. But I know one young man who was inspired to do that very thing early in his marriage. He and his wife were barely getting by on a tiny budget. But he saw another couple even poorer than they were. To the surprise of his wife, he gave help to them from their scanty finances. A promised blessing of peace came while they were still in their poverty. The blessing of prosperity beyond their fondest dreams came later. And the pattern of seeing someone in need, someone with less or in pain, has never ceased.

“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

God the Father lives. He set a course for each of us that can polish and perfect us to be with Him. The Savior lives. His Atonement makes possible our being purified as we keep His commandments and our sacred covenants. And I know from my own experience that He can and will give us strength to rise through every trial. President Monson is the Lord’s prophet. He holds all the keys of the priesthood. This is the Lord’s true Church in which we are, with Him, lifting each other and being blessed to succor the fellow sufferers He places in our way.

April 2009 General Conference: The Power of Covenants

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles illustrated why power is so much needed in our day and will become increasingly crucial in days ahead. Strong Christians can persevere against hardship, sustaining hope through tragedy, lift others by their example and their compassion, consistently overcoming temptations, making things happen by their faith, and defending the truth of Jesus Christ against moral relativism and militant atheism. Moral and spiritual power is from God. We access that power through our covenants with Him.

Priesthood ordinances manifest our commitment. Our foundational covenant, for example, is confirmed by the ordinance of baptism, individually, by name, and thereby we become part of the covenant people of the Lord, and heirs of the celestial kingdom of God. Other sacred ordinances are performed in temples.

The doctrines and commandments of the gospel constitute the substance of an everlasting covenant between God and man that is newly restored in each dispensation. If we were to state the new and everlasting covenant in one sentence it would be this: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Jesus explained what it means to believe in Him: "Now this is the commandment [or in other words, this is the covenant]: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day" (3 Nephi 27:20).

Making and keeping covenants with God gives us power. As we walk in obedience to the principles of the gospel, God promises in His covenant with us that we will receive a continual flow of blessings. Those blessings provide the resources we need to act, rather than simply be acted upon, as we go through life. Obedience gives us greater control over our lives, greater capacity to come and go, to work and create. Of course, age, accident, and illnesses inevitably take their toll, but even so, our obedience to this gospel law enhances our capacity to deal with these challenges.

In the covenant path we find a steady supply of gifts and help. "Charity never faileth" (1 Corinthians 13:8; Moroni 7:46), love begets love, compassion begets compassion, virtue begets virtue, commitment begets loyalty, and service begets joy. We are part of a covenant people, a community of Saints who encourage, sustain, and minister to one another. As Nephi explained, "And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them" (1 Nephi 17:3).

All this is not to say that life in the covenant is free of challenge or that the obedient soul should be surprised if disappointments or even disasters interrupt his peace. If you feel that personal righteousness should preclude all loss and suffering, you might want to have a chat with Job.

Our covenants produce the faith necessary to persevere and to do all things that are expedient in the Lord. Our willingness to take upon us the name of Christ and keep His commandments requires a degree of faith, but as we honor our covenants, that faith expands.

  • the promised fruits of obedience become evident, which confirms our faith
  • the Spirit communicates God's pleasure, and we feel secure in His continued blessing and help
  • then, come what may, we can face life with hope and equanimity, knowing that we will succeed in the end because we have God's promise to us individually, by name, and we know He cannot lie (see Enos 1:6; Ether 3:12).

Early Church leaders:

"It was [the knowledge that their course in life conformed to the will of God] that enabled the ancient saints to endure all their afflictions and persecutions, and to take . . . not only the spoiling of their goods, and the wasting of their substance, joyfully, but also to suffer death in its most horrid forms; knowing (not merely believing) that when this earthly house of their tabernacle was dissolved, they had a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Cor. 5:1.)" (Lectures on Faith [1985], 67).

They further pointed out that in offering whatever sacrifice God may require of us, we obtain the witness of the Spirit that our course is right and pleasing to God (see Lectures on Faith, 69–71). With that knowledge, our faith becomes unbounded, having the assurance that God will in due time turn every affliction to our gain.

Some of you have been sustained by that faith as you have endured those who point fingers of scorn from the "great and spacious building" and cry, "Shame!" (see 1 Nephi 8:26–27), and you have stood firm with Peter and the Apostles of old, "rejoicing that [you] were counted worthy to suffer shame for [Christ's] name" (Acts 5:41).

The Lord said of the Church:

"Verily I say unto you, all among them who . . . are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me.

"For I, the Lord, will cause them to bring forth as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit" (D&C 97:8–9).

The Apostle Paul understood that one who has entered into a covenant with God is both given the faith to face trials and gains even greater faith through those trials. Of his personal "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7), he observed:

"For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

"Therefore I take pleasure in [my] infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:8–10).3
A final aspect of strength through covenants is the gift of divine power -- our covenant commitment to Him permits our Heavenly Father to let His divine influence, "the power of godliness" (D&C 84:20), flow into our lives. He can do that because by our participation in priesthood ordinances we exercise our agency and elect to receive it. Our participation in those ordinances also demonstrates that we are prepared to accept the additional responsibility that comes with added light and spiritual power.

In all the ordinances, especially those of the temple, we are endowed with power from on high. This "power of godliness" comes in the person and by the influence of the Holy Ghost. The gift of the Holy Ghost is part of the new and everlasting covenant. It is an essential part of our baptism, the baptism of the Spirit. It is the messenger of grace by which the blood of Christ is applied to take away our sins and sanctify us (see 2 Nephi 31:17). It is the gift by which Adam was "quickened in the inner man" (Moses 6:65). It was by the Holy Ghost that the ancient Apostles endured all that they endured and by their priesthood keys carried the gospel to the known world of their day.

When we have entered into divine covenants, the Holy Ghost is our comforter, our guide, and our companion. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are "the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment" (Moses 6:61). The gifts of the Holy Spirit are testimony, faith, knowledge, wisdom, revelations, miracles, healing, and charity, to name but a few (see D&C 46:13–26).

It is the Holy Ghost that bears witness of your words when you teach and testify. It is the Holy Ghost that, as you speak in hostile venues, puts into your heart what you should say and fulfills the Lord's promise that "you shall not be confounded before men" (D&C 100:5). It is the Holy Ghost that reveals how you may clear the next seemingly insurmountable hurdle. It is by the Holy Ghost in you that others may feel the pure love of Christ and receive strength to press forward. It is also the Holy Ghost, in His character as the Holy Spirit of Promise, that confirms the validity and efficacy of your covenants and seals God's promises upon you.5

Divine covenants make strong Christians. I urge each one to qualify for and receive all the priesthood ordinances you can and then faithfully keep the promises you have made by covenant. In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact. Then you can ask in faith, nothing wavering, according to your need, and God will answer. He will sustain you as you work and watch. In His own time and way He will stretch forth his hand to you, saying, "Here am I."

April 2009 General Conference: Finding Strength in Challenging Times

Elder Allan F. PackerElder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy addressed individuals and families across the world challenged by current conditions, with the knowledge that it is a wonderful time to be alive, especially for the youth. We see children and grandchildren having full, satisfying lives even as they have challenges, setbacks, and obstacles to overcome.
These are the days when prophecies are being fulfilled. We live in the dispensation of the fulness of times, which is the time to prepare for the Savior’s return. It is also the time to work out our own salvation.
When the winds blow and the rains pour, they blow and pour on all. Those who have built their foundations on bedrock rather than sand survive the storms. There is a way to build on bedrock by developing a deep personal conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and knowing how to receive inspiration. We must know—and know that we know. We must stand spiritually and temporally independent of all worldly creatures. This begins by understanding that God the Father is the Father of our spirits and that He loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Savior, and that the Holy Ghost can communicate with our minds and our hearts. This is how we receive inspiration. We need to learn how to recognize and apply these promptings.
Elder Packer recalls when he was young, he played football in high school. They practiced until the skills became natural and automatic. During one play against our big rival, my assigned opponent, moved to my right into the line of scrimmage.
There was a lot of noise from players and fans. I reacted as the coach had taught us and followed my man into the line, not knowing if he had the ball. To my surprise, I felt the ball partially in my hands. I gave it a tug, but my opponent didn’t let go. As we tugged back and forth, amid all the noise I heard a voice yelling, “Packer, tackle him!” That was enough to bring me to my senses, so I dropped him on the spot.
Elder Packer finds a lesson in wondering how heard that voice above all the other noise. He explains that he had become acquainted with the coachs voice during practice, and learned to trust it.
In like manner, we need to be acquainted with the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and to practice and apply gospel teachings until they become natural and automatic. These promptings become the foundation of our testimonies. Then our testimonies will keep us happy and safe in troubled times.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks defined a testimony this way: “A testimony of the gospel is a personal witness borne to our souls by the Holy Ghost that certain facts of eternal significance are true and that we know them to be true.” At another time Elder Oaks said, “Testimony is to know and to feel, conversion is to do and to become.”
There are several things we can do to develop a deep conversion and learn how to receive divine inspiration:
For I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life . . . according to their wills...Alma 29:4
We will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. Alma 32:28

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right. And if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-9

Joseph Smith:
A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.
Testimonies can come as dramatic manifestations, but they usually do not. We risk missing the answers which come as quiet, reassuring feelings and thoughts that most often come after our prayers, while we are doing something else.

Seeking a testimony of truth opens the window of inspiration. Prayer is the most common and powerful way to invite inspiration. Asking a question, even in our minds, will start to open the window. The scriptures teach, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

Thus a personal witness will come, and we will know—and know that we know. We will then be independent of all other worldly things, for “by the power of the Holy Ghost [we] may know the truth of all things” which are right and expedient for us. We will receive strength, comfort, and help to make good decisions and act with confidence in troubled times.

This witness is not limited to the leaders but is available to all men, women, youth, and even little children. Having the capacity to receive personal inspiration will be necessary in the coming days.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Signs of a Stroke?.....

I copied this info from here, but much the same can be found about the health network on the internet.

Stroke: Know the Symptoms
The warning signs of a stroke may include:
  • Visual problems like a sudden change in vision or sudden double vision
  • Numbness of the face, weak arms or legs, weakness on one side of the body
  • Disorientation, problems with speech (e.g., slurred speech), and/or trouble understanding others
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Painful headache that comes on suddenly and has no known cause
Stroke: Risk Factors
Some stroke factors can be controlled; others can’t. Here are some key risk factors that you should be aware of:
  • Age. Once you turn 55, your risk of stroke practically doubles every decade.
  • Family and personal history. If a close family member has had a stroke, or if you have had a stroke, TIA ( transient ischemic attack, a small stroke that causes little or no damage), or heart attack, your stroke risk is increased.
  • Other health conditions.High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, atrial fibrillation, and sickle cell anemia are all factors that increase your risk for stroke.
  • Your lifestyle.Smoking cigarettes, eating a high-fat and/or high-sodium diet, being obese, and not getting enough exercise can all increase your risk of stroke.
Stroke: Early Treatment
Every second counts when restoring blood flow to the brain because with every second lost, more brain cells die. Early recognition of stroke symptoms is crucial — the sooner treatment is given, the better.
One of the best treatments for blood clots — the cause of ischemic strokes — is tissue plasminogen activator, or t-PA, a clot-busting drug that works quickly to dissolve a clot and restore blood flow to the brain. But it must be given within the first few hours after symptoms start. While t-PA is not appropriate for people who suffer a hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke, about 80 percent of strokes are caused by blood clots.
Anti-clotting medications and other blood thinners may also be given to people who have had an ischemic stroke, to help reduce the risk of another blood clot forming. Emergency surgery may also be done to open a blocked artery or repair a burst blood vessel.
The best thing to do if you or someone you know may be experiencing symptoms of stroke is to call 911 to get the most immediate medical attention possible.

Signs of a stroke?... Maybe, maybe not...

On Wednesday afternoon, I was taking a short nap, and when I woke up I felt very groggy and sick like I had before when I was having a stroke. I tried to get into the house from my bedroom, but had a very hard time walking. My right leg was very uncooperative, and my whole body felt numb, especially my head. It felt detached and light, like it was floating off somewhere separate from the rest of me. My face was undergoing the numb tingling feeling like a plastic mask over my nose and cheeks.

I stumbled into the house, and could only mumble stupid noises at my dad, who told me to lay on the couch. I laid down for a while, but the bad feeling and confusion continued to build. Finally I tried to speak to dad to tell him I thought something was wrong, but by that time my words were coming out as unrecognizable gibberish syllables. I sat helpless and gibbering for a time while dad deliberated with mom about what to do, and they finally decided to call 911 for help.
I was about past noticing by then, but I understand that a whole herd of friend and neighbors showed up to guide the ambulance and help load me up.
I don´t remember much of the long night, after that, but apparently after some deliberation st Sanpete Valley Hospital, I ended up riding in the ambulance with Shannon Nuttall and friends to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, where I was admitted for suspected stroke.
To make a long story short, the Neurologist, Dr. Butrum, ordered a MRI brain scan, and found no new stroke damage. Either the new deficits are short-term artifacts of basilar migraine spasms, or they are products of TIAs affecting areas previously stroke-damaged brain stem areas with new deficits. In any case, the major aphasia cleared up fairly quickly, after a rather frightful episode of speechlessness.
Let that be a lesson to all. The call to 911 was exactly the right thing to do, because there is no way short of MRI scan to distinguish quickly between symptoms of ischemia and other neurological weirdness. In this case, MRI is the right tool, at the right time. I spent another night in the hospital, under the watchful care of several kind and compassionate staff, then was released to go home on Friday. Thanks to doctors and care providers for quick thinking and acting -- it might have been otherwise.

Friday, April 17, 2009

April 2009 General Conference: Respect and Reverence

Margaret S. Lifferth, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, was the next speaker following Elder Hales to address the conference. She appropriately gave counsel on respect and reverence.

To illustrate the need for these qualities, Sister Lifferth cited the Saviorś counsel to Peter: ¨Feed my lambs. . . . Feed my sheep." She likens our love for Jesus to Peter and his devotion to the Master. To truly be able to feed His lambs and nourish His sheep with testimony and the Spirit, we must cultivate in our homes and classrooms these two qualities:
  • respect for each other
  • reverence for God.
Sister Lifferth suggests that reverence for God is strengthened as we show respect for each other. Today’s standards of decorum, dignity, and courtesy are abysmally low.

Be an example:
  • in the home
  • by the way I treat those I love
  • during a sports even
  • with a teacher, coach, or peer.
Ask -- Do I listen to both sides of a disputed issue?
Do I show respect for the property of others?
How do I respond to others with whom I disagree in matters of
  • religion
  • lifestyle
  • politics?
As parents and leaders exemplify and teach respect for others, we confirm in the hearts of our children that each of us is truly a child of God and all are brothers and sisters through eternity. We will focus on the things we have in common—on the qualities of heart that bind the family of God together, rather than on our differences.
Respect for others and reverence for God are rooted in humility and love.
President David O. McKay said that "reverence is profound respect mingled with love,"and Elder L. Tom Perry taught that "reverence flows from our admiration and respect for Deity."
Reverent behavior is a quality that is most children learn from parents and leaders through example and training. Harshness in our approach begets resentment, not reverence. We may be introducing first attempts at self-discipline, and as this process continues to build on itself, we grow in ability as well as understanding.
We bless our children and youth as we exemplify, teach, and encourage them through this process because self-mastery is not only the root of self-respect, it is essential in inviting the Spirit to teach, confirm, and testify.
Show proper respect for local priesthood and auxiliary leaders as well. These leaders are called of God and have been given sacred responsibilities.

On Sunday, chapels are places of worship where we renew covenants that will heal our souls. We learn doctrine and testimony. Missionaries bring their investigators. In an attitude of reverence the Spirit confirms the truths of the gospel.

We are a friendly people and we love each other, but reverence will increase if our socializing is done in the foyer and if sacrament meeting begins with the prelude music, not the opening prayer.

Encourage reverence by taking a crying child out of the chapel. and Find another room where we continue to listen to the meeting until the baby is calmed or a disruptive toddler is soothed. Reverence includes turning off our cell phones and BlackBerry devices. Texting or reading e-mails in a Church meeting is not only irreverent, it is distracting and signals a lack of respect for those around us. So we exemplify reverence by participating in the meeting, listening to the speakers, and singing the hymns of Zion together.

Our teachers in Primary, Sunday School, and the youth programs have unique opportunities to teach and exemplify respect and reverence.
  • love those in your class, especially the disruptive who may need love most
  • take the time to explain what reverence is and why it is important
  • display a picture of the Savior.
  • define behavior that is acceptable
  • be loving and consistent as you not only encourage it but expect it
  • prepare yourself to teach with the Spirit
  • problems with reverence can be defused with a well-prepared lesson in which the students participate
  • talk with parents of children who have disabilities
  • determine a reasonable expectation for their child
  • every child deserves a chance to progress
  • use the resources of the ward to help
  • if there is a reverence problem with children or youth, there is a reverence problem in the ward
  • take concerns to the ward council
  • ward leaders work together
  • increase respect and reverence on every level
Sister Lifferth quotes from one of President Packers great promises:
"While we may not see an immediate, miraculous transformation, as surely as the Lord lives, a quiet one will take place. The spiritual power in the lives of each member and in the Church will increase. The Lord will pour out his Spirit upon us more abundantly. We will be less troubled, less confused. We will find revealed answers to personal and family problems."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Reunion: chapter three

Time for the next chapter. After listening to spiritual promptings to call my long lost father, then having some good telephone conversations, and a positive first meeting, we were off to a promising start. We also made some ground rules to add a solid foundation to our relationship.

Following the initial leap of faith, and re-constructing a bond of mutual trust, love, and respect, it was time to move forward to another step of progress. Since you can't have much real privacy in a restaurant, due to time constraints, ordering and eating food, visits from the waiter/waitress, and the overall dull roar, the best choice is visiting at home. We made arrangements to come to hideaway valley to visit at my grandparents home.

Just finding their' home for the first time was a bit of an adventure. They live off the beaten path to say the least. Not to mention this was early December, and the threat of a blizzard is very real, considering the elevation of their' home is about 6500 ft. Of course, having lived in Alaska for two years, there's not going to be anything I haven't seen or dealt with before.

It is also worth noting, that cell phone service is basically unavailable once you leave Spanish Fork and head down US 6, and then onto US 89. We circumvented this issue by calling when we were about an hour away, and having my dad meet us by the highway to lead us the rest of the way. We made our way down, despite some snow and wind, until we saw my dad waiting in his' trusty old Toyota 4runner. He warned that the roads were really bad, but I assured him that as long as the road was wide enough, my 4x4 Dodge Ram will do just fine. Despite nearly a foot of mostly unplowed roads, we made it with no trouble at all.

Wow! The place sure had changed since I saw it last. They were just building it back in '93 and now it is finished and very nice. It's two stories tall, yellow with a black roof. My grandma likes yellow. On the main floor is a kitchen and dining room on the east side, and the master bedroom and great room to the west side. There is an amazing stone fireplace with a pot belly stove, used to heat the whole house. Upstairs is two more large bedrooms, and storage space. The front and back porches are great too, the are covered and run the length of the home. Close to the home, is a garage, half of which has been converted to an apartment where my dad lives.

We had another excellent visit, and made plans to attend the family Christmas party. The party was held at the Lds meeting house on Canyon road in Provo, near to my uncle Carl's home. At the party, I saw a lot of people that we had not seen in a long time. Now, it's been while, but I do remember seeing Carl and Cindy and their' kids, also Darren and Ruth and their' kids, as well as Rick and Beth and their' kids. Of course my dad and grandparents were there as well. It was a fun time, despite the fact that the church felt as warm as a glacier! Oh well. There were a few other people there as well, but I don't recall who they were.

Over the next few months, we visited both in hideaway valley, and a few restaurants in Utah county. We hosted them at my in-laws place in West Jordan, simply because it is much larger than our home. There was a brief pause in our relationship when my dad and his' friend Ricky started a work project in Milford Flats, and his' parents went on a trip to Minnesota. My dad was also quite busy doing firefighter training and serving as ward clerk and with the cub scouts.
Not that we had any problems, just a busy time in life. Well, that's it for chapter three.

Next instalment:   New Developments

Who to Believe: Hugh Nibley or Martha?

I was doing some research online today, prompted in part by my last conversation with my brother-in-law Darrin, and I came across some interesting references.

Five years ago, Hugh Nibley was in failing health. Nibley is personally interesting both because he played such an important role in development of church studies at BYU and elsewhere, and because of his link to our common ancestor, Alexander Neibaur, who was rather prominent in church history contmporary with Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other early church leaders during the Nauvoo era.

Nibley was an important figure in his own right, having established a well-respected discipline of LDS church-related studies and interests, stemming from all kinds of distant fields like archaeology, cultural anthropology, ancient languages and linguistics, ancient and modern religion culture and practices, through every conceivable connection, some cabinet curiosity-types, and some very meaningful parallels. Nibleyś work was unorthodox and disturbing to many more conventional academic types, too frenetic and frenzied and altogether too religious for the staid school of agnostic scholastic professors, and too complex for most Mormons to understand the big words. He challenged us every step of the way. A brilliant, dynamic man, driven to heights not oft achieved in LDS academic circles.

The thing that struck me was one facet of Nibley and his personal life, if we might presume to know something about that. It seems that, as Nibley lay in failing health, one of his daughters claimed to be recovering memories from her childhood of ritual sexual abuse. She had supposedly repressed these traumatic memories for, until later with the assistance of her professional psychiatrist spouse, she was able to coax from her reluctant mind these long-buried ugly family secrets. Martha Beck talks about her discovery and gradual evolution of the case in a sensational book, Leaving the Saints The Deseret News article reviews the book here.

Martha is as accomplished as Hugh at spinning stories, but unfortunately not as good at maintaining an even keel. Whether or not she is telling an honest story, you judge for yourself -- chances are, you can check the book out at the local public library. I found it to be internally flawed and substantially over dramatized, at least in the parts I have personal understanding of. All in all, I judged that the story did a great deal more to discredit and invalidate Beck than it did to hurt Hugh Nibley, the church, or BYU.

But that was my impression. You must draw your own conclusions.

Monday, April 13, 2009

April 2009 General Conference: Becoming Provident Providers

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles delivered opening remarks following President Monson. I thought it set an appropriate tone for the rest of the conference.

He offered to all whose freedom to choose has been diminished by the effects of ill-advised choices of the past:
  • excessive debt
  • addictions to drugs
  • addictions to food
  • pornography
  • lower self-worth.

All of these excesses affect us individually and undermine our family relationships.
Elder Hales counseled us to shed addictions in this time of economic uncertainty. His warning was clear and certain -- the challenges of this day are to contribute to our strength, because the Lord will never allow suffering to befall us beyond our capacity.

We measure success by how faithfully we respond to challenge, seeking help from our Heavenly Father and strength through the Atonement in both temporal and spiritual things, which assistance enables us to become provident providers for ourselves and others.
How then do we avoid and overcome the patterns of debt and addiction to temporal, worldly things? Two lessons apply.
First ¨We can’t afford it.”
Second “Is the purpose of this gift to show your love for me or to show me that you are a good provider or to prove something to the world?”
These two lessons are the essence of provident living. When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, “We can’t afford it, even though we want it!” or “We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!”
We can learn much from communicating. Help each other become provident providers and teach our children to live providently.
The law of the tithe is the foundation of provident living. Tithing helps us overcome our desires for the things of this world and willingly make sacrifices for others.
review in family council:
  • family income plan
  • savings plan
  • spending plan
Whenever we want to experience or possess something that will impact us and our resources, we want to ask , “Is the benefit temporary, or will it have eternal value and significance?” to avoid excessive debt and other addictive behavior.
In seeking to overcome debt and addictive behaviors, we should remember that addiction is the craving of the natural man, and it can never be satisfied....We must want, more than anything else, to do our Heavenly Father’s will and providently provide for ourselves and others. With all the love I have in me and with the Savior’s love through me, I invite you to come unto Him and hear His words: “Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy.
Elder Hales testifies in closing:
...The appetite to possess worldly things can only be overcome by turning to the Lord. The hunger of addiction can only be replaced by our love for Him. He stands ready to help each one of us. “Fear not,” He said, “for you are mine, and I have overcome the world” (D&C 50:41).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 2009 General Conference: Talks Online

Most of you are probably aware that general conference is now transcribed and the text is available online here at the church web site, I will begin my customary review of the talks on the Snail Hollow Gazette, but may be a bit slow due to difficult circumstances.

Bear with me.


Which is Cuter?

Lumpy White's Black Angus Calf

Which of these is cuter?

Ricky Butrum

The Grandkids