Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Power of a Lie / Judy

A year or so ago, realizing we’d been in this house for two years, we decided we should probably have our furnace system checked. I remember my dad had his inspected every year, usually before winter, to make sure it was all working well.

Not knowing who we should call about it, we decided to go with a business that often sends postcards in the mail. They came to inspect our system and here’s what they told us: the whole system had not been put in very well, there was a severe crack in the component in the attic, the thermostat or whatever regulated the heat was not working so it was running too hot and was actually dangerous as it might start a fire, and finally that there was a carbon monoxide leak. Of course we felt fortunate we hadn’t woken up dead some morning.
In a slight panic, we asked what to do. Well, they said kindly, we will come and replace the whole thing for you. And since you don’t want an old air conditioner tied to a new furnace, we’d better replace that too. All for the reasonable cost of about $10,000. But afterwards we could be assured all was safe and in good repair.  AAACCCKKK!

Since that was quite a bit of money, we thought it prudent to get a second opinion and called the people my dad used. When that man came, we told him what we’d been told and he checked everything and said it was all untrue. There was nothing wrong with any part of our furnace and it was not dangerous at all.

But a lie is so potent, it changes your perception of reality, and we still weren't sure we were safe. So then we called the gas company itself and they sent out an inspector at no charge and he said the same thing as the second man. Turns out all we needed to do was change our filter and then have an inspection once or twice a year.

But how do we detect lies? In the case of the heating company, the continuous belittling and accusations of the first salesman about our system and even about the home builder made us both very uncomfortable.  It wasn't just about the money; he had a snarky attitude. So we sought other professional assessments. But even after these positive assurances about our system, we felt unsettled for months. The power of a lie -- very difficult to break its hold.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Memories of Our Own / Judy

wedding brainstorm

We had a fairly inexpensive wedding but I thought it was VERY nice. The only thing I did for it was to buy my dress; our two mothers and the Relief Society took care of everything else. My parents arranged for a friend to take the pictures and that is the one aspect that could have been better. Most of the pictures had part of his glasses through them. The best ones were the candid shots of the reception.

We held our reception in a room (smaller than the cultural hall) at the church. I don't remember any decorations, but maybe there were some. I might not have been noticing very much. Someone had made the cake and I did have a bouquet, but I really don't think I chose them. Unlike most people, I didn't have very strong opinions about them.

For our honeymoon, my parents let us take their car and gas credit card and someone gave us $50 and that's all we had. We went to Disneyland and were able to stay for free at a nearby motel owned by one of Lloyd's aunts. Of course we could only be away for three days, then we had to come back so Lloyd could leave for boot camp. He was gone for six weeks while I lived at home and continued to work as a waitress. Our real married life (so far it just felt like a big date) began when he returned and we went to Philadelphia.

The bottom line was that the wedding was a fun party, not too big, but with most of our friends and family. And the marriage has lasted over 40 years.

Originally posted by Judy in Wedding Brainstorm on 19 Jan 2010

It's About The People / Guest

wedding brainstorm

At the end of the day the most important thing about weddings is the people.  A chance to bring families together to celebrate.

With that in mind it is important not to let little details create arguments that annoy and antagonize everyone helping.

Arrange the ceremony and reception to maximize opportunities for people to mingle and catch up.  To laugh and celebrate together.  

One thing I recall from my wedding and receptions is that there are groups of experience at weddings.

The first is the experience of the couple getting married.  They will be in their own little world together and not remember a whole heck of a lot from the whole experience.  Good thing there are pictures.  So set things up and then everyone else should be nice to them on their day.  They'll be followed around by photographers/video cameras a lot.  Helpful folks will direct them here and there for pictures, cake, dancing, sitting, standing, etc.

The next group is family who all know each other and chat up a storm.  If you've got several siblings then everyone has probably done the wedding thing before and its just a great excuse to all get together again.  

Lastly there are people that your parents invite who chat cordially with everyone else but don't necessarily know a great many people.  Note to couple:  let your parents invite them since they bring gifts too and it will make your parents happy and you'll be oblivious anyway.

Weddings are about people;  the couple committing to each other, God and society.  About families getting together to celebrate.  Focus the events on maximizing these relationships.

Originally posted by Sonian in Wedding Brainstorm on 25 Feb 2010

When To Have The Reception / Guest

wedding brainstorm

After our wedding we had a brief lunch with those who attended the ceremony and then we were off on our honeymoon.  Then a week later we had the formal reception back home with family and friends.

Now this strategy of separating the wedding and reception has several benefits:

First, it reduces stress and exhaustion on the wedding couple who have enough going on that day without making it longer into the night with a reception.  You'll want to boogie on your own way as soon as possible.

Second, it allows the bride to wear her dress on two different days.  Because let's face it you spent a ton on that dress you might want to get more than one day's use out of it.

Third, the experience of the wedding is extended from the wedding itself to the honeymoon and then a reception before beginning blissful life together; the reception as a capstone of the festivities.

Originally posted by Sonian in Wedding Brainstorm on 25 Feb 2010

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Manhood - Fatherhood - Priesthood: A Forum of Advice, Insights, Council, and Loving Support / Lloyd & Guest

In 14 March 2010 Sonian initiated a blog Manhood, Fatherhood, Priesthood: A forum of Advice, Insights, Council, and invited Lloyd to participate.  While only nine non-administrative postings emerged -- (the last posted on 10 July 2010) they have a unique value of worth to our family. They are postings about family from the view point of fathers.

Sonian has consented for us to present the nine postings on our blog She Says, He Says. You can review them by clicking the orange labels below.


Manhood, Fatherhood, Priesthood -- Welcome / Guest

Welcome to the Manhood, Fatherhood, and Priesthood blog.  The impetus of creating this blog as a forum of discussion among us is to encourage the sharing of experiences, insights, testimony, and council to help one another fulfill our roles as sons of God.

One of Satan's most effective strategies is to isolate us, make us feel weak and inferior to others, and tempt us astray.  This blog will help us all realize that our challenges, obstacles, questions, and potential solutions are shared and that together we can achieve our divine potentials.

This intends to be an evolutionary forum that will adapt to best meet these goals of sharing, counseling, and testifying.  . .

Our topics will be both gospel and practical life related because we need to share, counsel, and testify of both the world we live in and the world we are aiming to reach with our families.

Please join on this journey together and we will all be the stronger from the experience to help our spouses and children.

Originally Posted by Sonian in Manhood, Fatherhood, Priesthood: A forum of Advice, Insights, Council, and Loving Support on Sunday, 14 March 2010

Priorities and Balance - Discussion Topic #1 / Guest

Elder Russell M. Nelson wrote a magnificent article in the August 2001 Ensign titled:  'Identity, Priorities, Blessings'.  I wish to use his remarks as a springboard for our first discussion topic.

[NOTE: What may work best is if you wish to simply make a brief remark on the topic to use the comment section, but if you wish to augment and elaborate upon the topic please post a new posting with the label of 'discussion topic 1' so we can search topics later. (you can find the label feature in the bottom right of the post writing window).  I hope to have a running discussion on this topic for perhaps two weeks and then begin a new topic.  We can explore and see if two weeks is enough time or too much and take turns presenting the topic starter.  Let's dive in.]

"How do you determine your priority? Ask yourself, What do I really want most of all? Compare your answer with the high standard revealed by your Creator. He said you are to “seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness; and all … things shall be added unto you” (JST, Matt. 6:38). You build up the kingdom of God as you place your family first. A husband’s highest priesthood duty is to love and care for his wife, to bless her and their children. A wife’s highest calling is to love her husband and nurture their children. As you serve the Lord, know that your “duty is unto the church forever, and this because of [your] family” (D&C 23:3).

"How do you obtain your blessings? How can you qualify for eternal blessings—even “all that [the] Father hath”? With your identity preserved and your priorities properly honored, our Father’s blessings will flow to you by virtue of the holy priesthood, which is without beginning or end" -Elder Nelson [Identity, Priorities, Blessings].

What I find striking about Elder Nelson's remarks is that our ability to properly determine our priorities in life stems from a correct understand of who we are as children of God.  With the knowledge that we will be resurrected and have the divine potential for eternal lives with our spouses we should make priorities now that will lead to where we ultimately wish to end up, with our Father in heaven.

The above verse from Matthew reminds us of the transitory nature of our experience here on the Earth.  We have an eternity with our Father in heaven before this world and hope to have an eternity after.  In that context our lives here are but blips in our eternal nature.  How sad to squander a future eternity of endless joy for brief successes now.

We must select carefully the priorities and steps we take now to ensure they most effectively lead to where we wish to go ultimately.  Knowing who we are and where we wish to go allows us to correctly make decisions and priorities to achieve this goal.

I am reminded of Elder Dallin H. Oaks' excellent talk on:  "Good, Better, Best"  A short quote from his remarks:

"Some of our most important choices concern family activities. Many breadwinners worry that their occupations leave too little time for their families. There is no easy formula for that contest of priorities. However, I have never known of a man who looked back on his working life and said, 'I just didn't spend enough time with my job.'"  -Elder Oaks , Good Better Best.

With limited time we must select the very best things to do to reach our heavenly home once more.

President Gordon B. Hinckley gave excellent council several years ago on the proper priorities of our lives.  He indicated that the significant ones should be in the following order:  Family, Work, Church

As Elder Oaks would observe each of the three of these is very good and without prophetic council we may not be certain in which order to organize these.  If I can add to the list slightly I suggest the following hierarchy:  God, Family, Work, Church

We must cultivate and strengthen our relationship with God and His son Jesus Christ before we are truly prepared to do anything else.  Doing so helps us to realize our true identity and therefore put everything else in order.  The way I like to see it is that the closer to God we draw the more our will becomes His will and if we are acting upon His will we will never go astray and will be entitled to divine assistance as we do His work.  Hence the quote from Matthew above:  "seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God" (JST, Matt. 6:38).

A second point from Elder Nelson worth discussing is the paramount relationship with our spouses.  We've identified that our family comes before work or church but I submit that our spouses come before our parents, in-laws, cousins, or even children.

I know such a notion is hard to hear for some.  They rightly realize the great responsibility and duty to rear and teach their children.  Yet the Lord in Genesis said:  "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen 2:23-24).  We are first married to our spouses then have children.  Ultimately the children will reach adulthood and marry and "leave his father and his mother" and cleave to their spouse and the two of you will be alone together again.  It is with your spouse that you are promised the potential of endless posterity, without your spouse that is not possible.

So cleave unto your spouse.  Love her and nurture your relationship with her.  Dave told me a while back that part of being on the high council is having a weekly date with his wife.  Good council for all of us; keep dating and doing nice little things for our wives.

When our relationship with our Heavenly Father is in order and the relationship with our spouse is in order we can profitably teach and rear our children in love.

This just a random person sleeping in studio, but I'll tell you from sad experience that it's not comfortable

Lastly a personal experience:

Going through the architecture programs at two universities I was often required to spend long hours working on projects.  There is a perverse culture in architecture school that whoever stays longest is the coolest.  Quantity over quality in a way, though more time often yields good results for designs.

Yet I know that keeping the Sabbath day holy is crucial to my relationship with my heavenly father and a time to be with my family.  So I never once worked on school work on the Sabbath.  Sometimes that meant I stayed until midnight on Saturday and returned at midnight on Sunday night to resume but that day was important.

As a corollary I know that I can do all that I can with the time I have available and then put absolute trust in God that He will make up the difference.  I can't count the number of times on Mondays when the instructor would be late or reach my desk last giving me needed time to finish my work before presenting it.  It may seem a coincidence but many many small miracles, or as Elder David A. Bednar would say 'tender mercies', saw me through many a day.

Trust God and His promises.  Do what is required to unlock the windows of Heaven to receive the blessings He wishes to pour out upon us.  If we need money, pay tithing.  If we need time, keep the Sabbath day.  If we need health, the word of wisdom.  He asks us to do simple things to bless us abundantly.

More can be said on proper priorities and I look forward to each of your insights and experiences.  I've blathered on long enough.  Setting a balance in life is not a one time event.  By the nature of a 'balance' it implies movement and in so doing constantly reevaluating the balance as one goes.  For example Troy in going back for his dual master's degrees had to reevaluate how to balance his life.  A new job, child, home, calling, etc each calls our balance into question.  I am eager to hear how each of us has maintained balance and priorities as we go along.

Originally Posted by Sonian in Manhood, Fatherhood, Priesthood: A forum of Advice, Insights, Council, and Loving Support on Sunday, 4 April 2010


(5 April 2010) Lloyd --  One of the reasons I am going to the temple this Tuesday is to deal with my job ordering me to work on Sundays.  Should I seek other employment, find another position at my current job that allows Sundays off, or mainly work on gaining greater insight into the Lord's intentions?

(6 April 2010) Troy -- I too have committed to not doing homework on the Sabbath and it's made all the difference! I also commit to having a weekly date with Emily and another weekly date with one of my kids. I miss them so much it hurts to even think about it. Only this weekly bit of attention attenuates the guilt I feel. But they've been so understanding.

I've had to make sure that no matter how stressed I am, when I walk through the door I'm happy and positive. The kids are only going to see me for a few hours each day so I'd better make sure it's a good experience. But I confess it's hard. They want to tell me their stories about epic lego battles and the latest episode of Clone Wars and all I can do is think about all the homework I have to do and the tests I have coming up. I promised Emily I would do better and I think I have.

How Do We Prepare To Make The Time? / Guest

I've been thinking about the posting:  "when we ourselves are drowning" and Troy's experience of making time to listen to his kids Lego adventures when he has pressing homework to do.
How do you prepare to 'be home' when you get home?  How do you prepare to walk into your home and engage with your children and wife after an often tough day at work?
Some of us have lengthy travel times between work and home to transition, some just walk out of their office in the house and into the home full of moving kids.  
What can we do to be a helper and contributor?  To engage and listen, and I mean really listen?  Love to hear what works for you.
Originally posted by Sonian in Manhood, Fatherhood, Priesthood: A forum of Advice, Insights, Council, and Loving Support on Sunday, 18 April 2010

(23 April 2010) Troy -- When I commute, I have time to pray and meditate. On hard days where everything appears to be flying apart at the seams, this is an invaluable time to get things into perspective. I have a tendency to "catastrophize" every little setback until it looks like all my plans hang on that one problem. As I pray, I remember to trust the Lord. This requires great mental effort because the emotions are difficult to vanquish. On these especially hard days, I might even have to sit in my car in the garage for a few minutes, as Stephen R. Covey suggests, to remind myself that the most important work I have to do all day starts now, when I walk through the door. I've even fallen asleep for a few minutes like this, which really helped me calm down and see things in a new light.
Emerging from my home office in our basement doesn't afford me this obligatory meditative time. So I have to work harder at being cheerful. Fortunately, just by virtue of having been home all day, listening to the joyful noises coming through the vent; this isn't usually an issue.

(26 April 2010) Sonian -- I have realized of late about myself that I am very susceptible to music, for good or bad. Consequently I try very hard to only listen to good music. As I have done so, especially on the drive home from work, it can really change my mood and help me be happy and energized for whatever may be going on at home.

Courage Brethren and On On to the Victory / Guest

In the strength of the Lord the children of Israel entered the land of Canaan sweeping the wicked from before them.  The Lord counseled them to refrain from social exchange, worship of their false gods, and to not intermarry amongst them else their way would have snares, traps, and scourges (Joshua 23).

The Israelites fought bravely for they had faith and were, at that time, righteous.

"The Saints today also face a world intent on their spiritual destruction. Canaan has long passed from the earth, but Satan, who incited Canaan’s wickedness and opposition to Israel, is still determined to destroy those who follow the Lamb of God (see 1 Nephi 14:12–14). Sometimes modern Israel may feel apprehensive as they see the impending judgments drawing closer and closer. Modern Canaan will be destroyed in preparation for the establishment of a worldwide Zion, and this destruction is not pleasant to contemplate. Elder Ezra Taft Benson used two passages from the book of Joshua to counsel those who feel anxiety as they contemplate the future.

“Now during this critical period, and it is a critical period that we are passing through, I hope that we will keep ever burning in our hearts the spirit of this great work which we represent. If we do so, we’ll have no anxiety; we’ll have no fear; we’ll not worry about the future because the Lord has given us the assurance that if we live righteously, if we keep his commandments, if we humble ourselves before him, all will be well. I turn to two passages of scripture today which I’d like to read:

“‘. . . Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.’ (Joshua 1:9.)

“This was the Lord’s admonition to his son, Joshua, encouraging him to trust in God. Joshua answered that admonition in counsel to his people in these words: “‘. . . choose you this day whom ye will serve; . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ (Ibid., 24:15.)

“Embodied in these two passages of scripture are the two principal essentials for security and peace: first, trust in God; and second, a determination to keep the commandments, to serve the Lord, to do that which is right. Latter-day Saints who live according to these two admonitions—trust in God and keep the commandments—have nothing to fear.

“The Lord has made it very clear in the revelations that even though times become perilous, even though we be surrounded by temptation and sin, even though there be a feeling of insecurity, even though men’s hearts may fail them and anxiety fill their souls, if we only trust in God and keep his commandments we need have no fear.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1950, pp. 145–46.)" (from the gospel student manual OT).

Sometimes when faced with problems or adversity we see the problem this way:
If we just gather enough strength and focus we can solve the problem.  When we follow this course there is an internal block to the source of true power:
Where in fact drawing unto the Lord provides us with strength, courage, and blessings to tackle the problem at hand.

I have found this truth to be the case in my own life.  As we've been here in California looking for work I've been at times hitting my head against the wall wondering why it isn't working.

At the first I thought we wanted to go to a big international city to do cool architecture.  That wasn't working and in a blessing the Lord said 'nope' that would make you miserable.

I wasn't too happy about that answer for a while.  Then I figured ok, I'll apply to firms state side that interest me in Boston, Philly, Chicago, etc.  Again that didn't pan out and in another blessing the Lord said 'nope again' that would also make you miserable.

Wasn't too happy here either.  I was to 'go to Nazareth' and then come forth from there with skills, faith, and an intact family.  Lest we forget the derision the Jews had for Jesus when they learned he came from Nazareth, "no good thing cometh from Nazareth;" obviously not a worldly, glamorous place doing cool architecture on glossy magazines.

But as I've turned more and more to the Lord and really listened, and really wanted what He wants things have been working out.  It isn't in any way what I or we may expect, but it is right and will bring us the most joy.

How can we develop the courage and faith the Lord repeatedly told Joshua about?

What difference has it made in your family?

How can turning to the Lord help solve the problems that come our way, instead of doing it ourselves?

Originally posted by Sonian in Manhood, Fatherhood, Priesthood: A forum of Advice, Insights, Council, and Loving Support on Sunday, 18 April 2010


(23 April 2010)  Troy -- It's been my experience that we develop faith through exercising it. I know that sounds circular, but so is learning to swim by jumping into the pool. Faith-building experiences can be no less frightening as well. Courage is acting even though your afraid to do so.

Several times in the last decade we have "jumped in headfirst" following what we perceived as personal revelation. There has often been a sense of "Oh, my! What have we done?!" which makes me question whether the revelation was perceived accurately. But enough of these situations have worked out (often miraculously) that it's given us the faith and courage to confidently expect the others will too. Even the outright failures (from a worldly perspective) have been for our good.

As I learn self-confidence, Father keeps taking us from one faith-building experience to another, climbing higher and higher. I've also learned in the last year of school to not only turn to the Lord, but also turn to those the Lord sends me to help. I'm paradoxically over-reliant on the Lord and fiercely independent at the same time. So this year Father's been teaching me humility to bring them into balance.

(12 May 2010) Sonian -- Thank you for sharing this experience. I've recently been following my own perceived revelation to start my own business. It is a scary and uncertain undertaking and re-reading your testimony of faithful obedience reassures me that the Lord is with me, and us, and all things will work to our good.

Faith in the Face of Adversity / Guest

The life of Job beautifully illustrates the teachings found in the Lectures on Faith.

In reading the Old Testament for Sunday School I have gotten to the book of Job in my personal study.  As I read I am using the BYU student study manual to learn more.  At the start of the discussion of the book of Job the manual quotes an address from the Sixth Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium  held at Brigham Young University in January 1978 entitled “Job: ‘Yet Will I Trust in Him.’”  These remarks and my own experience recently will serve as the springboard for this second discussion topic.

Job had to endure some very hard things.  We read that when Satan wished to attack Job the Lord, initially, said 'anything goes except you cannot hurt him himself'.  Well that's all well and good but that leaves an awful lot of things to inflict, and indeed we read that he lost his children and livelihood.  And his response?  "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed is the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21).

To enumerate Job's trials he had to endure:
1.  Lose it all.

2.  Rebuked of friends, imputing against his behavior, for surely he brought it on himself.
3.  Time's leavening sharpens the pain, this wasn't a short experience.  It is one thing to endure the initial shock of the losses.  But then to realize the day-to-day repercussions of loss and physical pain and rebuke is another trial entirely.
4.  Lord doesn't reply to prayers
5.  Job is awfully alone.

We can see in these trials a type of Christ who had to similarly endure these trials, and more.

What can we learn from Job?
How can we also endure our trials faithfully?
The parallel of Job to the Lectures on Faith reveals the pattern to follow.
1.  Know that God lives.
2.  Know His character, perfections, and attributes.  Know that He is a loving, merciful, kind Father who wishes nothing for us but to become as He is, and find eternal, lasting joy.
3.  Know that the course of life we are following is in accordance with His will.

By knowing that He lives and who He is we can realize that our experiences will refine us and bring us closer to Him, if we let them. These trials are not unfair burdens on us, nor is He a mean, vengeful God (or in other words, the universe is not out to get us).  But rather He loves us, we are his children, and we can find joy with Him again.

With that as foundation, it is necessary to know that our course of life is in accordance with his will.  Job proved to God, and more importantly to Himself, that he was willing to stay the course no matter what.  He knew, despite his " friends' " suggestions to the contrary, that he was faithfully doing the Lord's will.  When we have that assurance we can appreciate that what trials may come are to help us learn and grow. Whereas if we are not following His will, then the trials might just be consequences of our poor choices.  Though even then we are punished BY and FOR our trials, so that we are brought to repentance and again into harmony with His will.

Two recent experiences in my own life  

First, after a long and unproductive job search around the world I was in the temple praying about what I should do for work.  I had applied to big international firms, big national firms, regional firms, small firms, local firms, and no one was doing much work or hiring.  So after pouring out my thoughts, ideas, and feelings to the Lord I told Him I would clear my mind and listen, whatever He said then I would do.

Well you know once I did quiet down He did reply and said that I should start my own firm and work for myself.  Ok... I'm not a licensed Architect and need to work for others to get licensed so how is that going to work?  Doesn't matter.  What matters is that is what I need to be doing right now, for however long I need to, and if I am obedient and do all that I can the Lord will do the rest and make it happen.

Second, I wasn't finding a lot of work in California but was starting to find some.  Things were beginning to hit a rhythm and I had some good ideas to further network.  But, then after fasting one month I got an impression clear as words that we should move to Hawaii.  OK... will my folks be OK with that?  I'll have to find all new clients and work to to.  Doesn't matter. That is the Lord's will.  As long as I am doing His will, as He directs, I just need to do my best, relying on Him, and He will do the rest.

And sure enough my great folks have me working on plans for their home remodel.  The next door neighbor has me working on a new house for them up the coast.  And other opportunities arrive just when I need them to.


I know that God lives.  I learn a little more all the time about who He is, but I know enough to love and trust Him.  And I know that in many respects that my course of life is in accordance with His will and so I can do my best and know that the constant challenges are to help me.  This way I can remember I am a child of God, with intrinsic worth outside anything I accomplish, and that my Heavenly Father loves me, and you.  Because you have intrinsic worth as a child of God too.  And He loves you very much.

Please share your own experiences or insights about how we can endure as Job.  How we can bear up under the trials that come upon us?
Originally posted by Sonian in Manhood, Fatherhood, Priesthood: A forum of Advice, Insights, Council, and Loving Support on Sunday, 10 July 2010

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Have a Baby / Lloyd

It was customary in our mission for missionaries to review their patriarchal blessing with the president. During my interview the mission...