Saturday, December 29, 2007

It Would Have Hurt An Ordinary Man

I just made a very sad discovery brought on by a short conversation this morning. I was reminded of one of my professors from BYU, Brother Paul H. Peterson, when a co-worker said something about how busy things were last night and remarked, "Could an average consultant have handled it? No. But I on the other hand..." It brought to memory one of the favorite catch phrases that Brother Peterson would use in class. An example:

During the Fall semester 2002 there was a bit of a controversy surrounding the campus of Brigham Young University. Students at football games complained of being struck by air-borne objects alleged to be tortillas. After an intense investigation, it was discovered that indeed other students at the football games had brought tortillas to throw in celebration or anger or desperation, or whatever. The Science Department on campus decided to conduct an experiment. They had students stand at differing distances from each other and throw tortillas at each other to determine, no kidding, if it hurt or not. We were discussing this experiment one morning in Brother Peterson's class. A little later in class Brother Peterson said something wrong or something and apologized thus, "I'm sorry. I'm a bit discombobulated today. You see, I got hit by a flying tortilla on the way to class." A student asked, "Did it hurt?" With a twinkle in his eye (that I don't think ever went away), Brother Peterson said, "Well, it would have hurt an ordinary man."

And so it was. He told us on the first day of class that he had never been accused of being "a flaming ball of charisma," but that didn't stop him from endearing himself to every single student in that Christian History class, probably the most memorable class I ever had at BYU. Jessica had previously taken the class from him, so he knew us both. We would stop by his office once in a while, he would always be busy, but he didn't let that stop him from visiting with admiring students like us.

We knew that he was fighting leukemia, and left his position on the Religion Faculty. So when I thought of him this morning I did a google search of his name, and discovered his obituary. He passed away in September. I was heart broken that we hadn't heard of this sooner, but with neither of us at BYU we didn't have any contact with those who would have known.

His obituary included the sentence, "All who knew him, loved him, because he loved them first." And that is the absolute truth.

This is my short tribute to a giant of a man. To paraphrase something he said to a student one day, "He's a fine human being. I'm sure he'll go high in the final draft." And so he will.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Morgan's Present

Morgan is playing with his Christmas present (well, one of them anyway). It's a set of kitchen stuff--little pots, pans, and utensils. He has his own drawer in the kitchen where they are kept. He likes to pretend to bake things, and just now he brought me one of the pots and insisted, in his 17-month-old way, that I eat it. Talk about adorable...

As for mii, I was surprised with a Wii. I didn't even ask for it, but Jessica and her sister Jenessa were so excited to get one for me. Ness woke up early one day when she thought Target would get some in, waited in line, and scored! It's tons of fun. We love it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas, The Day After

This is a little late, and it's also paraphrased, which is such a shame, because to paraphrase someone like Dickens is just too bad. But I've been meaning to do it, so I will--the day after Christmas.

There is a conversation between Scrooge and his nephew, Fred, in A Christmas Carol that I find very interesting. Actually, it is just one sentence spoken by Fred that I find interesting. Scrooge has asked him what financial good celebrating Christmas has ever done him. In response he says something to the effect of: In my keeping of Christmas, putting aside the reason for the day [i.e. the Savior's birth], if one can divorce the day of the reason, I have not found financial advantages but I have received... and he goes on to describe what celebrating Christmas has done for him.

What I find interesting is his offhand comment that in his mind, and therefore I think we can assume in Dickens' mind, there is no separating the day from the event that inspired the day. Maybe this was just a nineteenth century attitude, but with all of everything that surrounds the celebration of Christmas now, isn't it fascinating that a hundred and fifty years ago (that's really not that long ago) it was difficult to imagine Christmas without Christ?

Anyway, that's my little thought concerning Dickens' absolutely marvelous work that President Monson has called "inspired" on more than one occasion.

Friday, December 21, 2007

5 Years

Today Jessica and I celebrate our five year wedding anniversary. Thankfully, we went out for a little celebration on Tuesday, because we will likely see each other for all of five minutes today... work schedules that don't mix.

But in the spirit of this wonderful day, I offer just a few thoughts.

We bought a minivan this week. Somehow, this financial move encompasses much of what has happened in five years. First of all, we've grown very close. I suppose most couples at the time of their wedding consider themselves to be as close as any two people could be--goodness, their getting married! But there is something that can only take place within the actual marriage (and even more so within the Temple Marriage) relationship that allows for continued growth, love, and respect.

Ah! It pains me to think of this because it always brings thoughts of dear President Hinckley and his broken heart at the loss of his sweet companion! If I think that Jessica and I have been linked together in heart in five years, what about
60+ years together in the Lord? There are conflicting feelings when considering this: first there's the feeling of anticipation--as we continue to build our family and develop our love for one another, we can expect to feel even more of what we already do; but then there's that awful thought of one of us leaving before the other; ah but what of the reunion when we meet again? Life is meant to be lived in feeling, with sensitivities continually being heightened and purified. How else could we ever expect to love as Heavenly Father does?

Anyway, I'm grateful for the terminology within the Church when we say "Celestial Marriage." That is exactly what marriage ought to be, and that is what we are working toward. And yes, for us, a large part of that is the living of the commandment first given to our Parents Adam and Eve: what a blessing children are! Our two little boys bring us so much joy, so much happiness, so much patience, so many deep breaths before we react, so much craziness, and so much of that stuff that you can't describe.

It's fitting, I think, that on our anniversary of meeting last week, just before indulging the cookies and hot cocoa, we found out that we are expecting number 3. Jessica has blogged about this here. And so we decided to buy a car that could fit three car seats/boosters. Having children has only strengthened our appreciation for one another. For my part, as I watch the way Jessica nurtures Joshua and Morgan (and yes, nurturing does have some measure of sharp correction at times, and she is marvelous there) I am amazed at motherhood. It has to be the most difficult responsibility given to anyone: to bear the souls of the children of men. During this Season we remember the One Soul who was born to save all others, and appropriately so, we sing and speak of that vessel, chosen and pure, who was blessed among all women to go into the valley of the shadow of death and bring forth a Son. There is something of Mary in all women; that willingness to face death to bring forth new life, and for that I give thanks to the Lord for my sweet wife, who has done so and continues to do so. Pregnancy is not easy on her, but I know she would not trade the nausea and fatigue for anything... she continues in the work of salvation by providing tabernacles of flesh to those whom the Lord sends us.

I love you, Jess.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Greatest PBS Kids Show Ever!

Joshua just finished watching a fantastic show on PBS. I will now explain why "WordGirl" is the best PBS kids show I am aware of. If you go to the above link you will see each of the elements of the show in detail, but I offer a short list of elements that make it enjoyable for me:
  1. It's a Superhero show
  2. The superhero has a monkey for a sidekick (named Captain Huggy Face)
  3. There is a quintessential narrator who engages in banter with the characters
  4. The main villain is a butcher who shoots sausages out of his hands
  5. In today's episode, the butcher was defeated by tofu
  6. The superhero's parents are wonderfully oblivious to their daughter's powers, and when they nearly discover her alter ego, Captain Huggy Face intervenes in some way
  7. Seriously, a monkey sidekick
Check out the website or look it up on youtube. It's brilliant.

Here's a clip of WordGirl being interviewed...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Six Years: Hot Cocoa and Cookies

Six years ago yesterday I begrudgingly walked onto a plane and flew home from Michigan after two years of full-time missionary service. Six years ago today I made a decision that changed my life. I went tracting--because I just couldn't leave missionary work behind me.

Actually, it was because I had a letter from two young ladies whom I had never met, but really wanted to meet. They had written me a few times during my mission, and I had really enjoyed their letters. The one wrote on just about anything: receipts, napkins, advertisements; and she usually told me about funny names of people that she met at her job. The other wrote absolutely hilarious letters about all sorts of stuff--her writing style employed clever quips and pictures, and then insights from religion classes at BYU.

The night before I left Michigan I was given a letter in the Mission Home that had just arrived from these two girls, and the one had written at the end of the letter: "If you want to meet us faithful cheerleader/supporters [when you get home], just call or stop by." So that's what I did. On December 13th, 2001, after a morning temple session, watching a pre-school Nativity Christmas play, and getting a TB test, I steered my parents' Isuzu Trooper onto 650 North and looked for house number 1072. The address numbers were not clearly marked, so I boldly approached the most likely home and knocked. A young lady with long brown hair and brown eyes opened the door.

"Is this 1072 West?" I asked.
"Yes. Are you sure you don't need the girls downstairs?" she responded looking confused because she'd never seen me before.
"I don't know," I said. "I'm looking for Jessica Smith or Sara Nash."
"I'm Jessica," she said.
"Oh good! I'm a hologram," I told her.

And then she knew who I was.

Perhaps the main reason I wanted to meet these two was that the one, Jessica, had this running joke with me in her letters that I was a hologram. She was convinced of this fact because everything she had heard about me from those who knew me (such as my former band-mates Aaron and Spencer who I think were so distraught about losing their drummer that they used hyperbole when describing me, and my former co-workers at Teriyaki Stix where Jessica worked for a few months not long after I left on my mission--apparently I was missed there too) was "too good to be true." She could not believe that someone like "Brian" existed, so when she wrote me the first time she told me she thought I was a non-entity, a hologram.

For whatever reason, this little joke was so fun to me, and so when I got their invitation to stop by in that last letter, I was determined to do so. When Jessica realized who I was she invited me in, and she and Sara served me some cookies and hot cocoa while we talked about... probably my mission, I don't really know. But a year and eight days later Jessica and I knelt across from each other in the Jordan River Temple to be sealed for time and all eternity.

And every December 13th since we have had cookies and hot cocoa in the evening, usually with Sara, who will come by tonight for this little tradition.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Christmas Celebration

Last night Jessica and I took some time together to enjoy the Spirit of the Season. We went to Michael McLean's production of The Forgotten Carols. Neither of us have ever seen the play. I'd heard the album (it being among the rich variety of LDS "approved" music I learned to love as a missionary), and Jessica had both listened to the album and read the book. We really didn't know how it would be--whether Michael McLean himself would actually be there or not, whether it would just be one song after another or more of a play, etc.

Well, as it turns out, it is a play and Michael McLean is not only there but plays the main character, John (as in, the Beloved Disciple). The play was wonderful. The Timpview High School Choir provided the choral parts--just as a side note, I love Utah where it is still permissible for high school choirs to learn and perform songs with religious themes. The music was amazing, and the main soloist had a most incredible voice. We loved it.

But what really made the night special was the "encore" as it were. I'd heard before that Michael McLean is a very personable performer, but what he did after the play was over was just terrific! As is customary after musicals, the cast came out on stage and bowed while the crowd cheered, but after the rest of the cast left, Michael stayed on the stage and starting engaging the audience and told us that he wanted to perform his carol from his own heart--a beautiful song that he had the soloist from the play perform. The choir joined in and the words said something about "Arise, and let His light shine through you." It was clear that they really wanted the audience to arise, to stand up, to get into the song (which was very Gospel-esque). Finally, the majority-Mormon crowd stood up and began to clap along, perhaps feeling a little bit of what it would be like to attend a Pentecostal worship service.

After this song ended, Michael went over to the piano and after some banter about performing with his wife of 33 years, he began tapping out one of his most famous tunes (at least to Latter-day Saints): "Together Forever." He said that he has a difficult time with goodbyes, and what was wonderful is that he was being really sincere. He loves to perform and loves to lift and inspire, and he hates to end his performances. So he bid us farewell for about 45 minutes while having us sing along to the chorus of "Together Forever." After the first attempt by the audience to sing, he said, "Well. That was really reverent."

He stood up and said, "Some of you might be Mormon, so I'll try to help you out a bit," and proceeded to sing the chorus while leading with his hand moving up for higher notes and down for lower notes (hoping, I'm certain, to give us all Primary flashbacks). He then had us "link-up" as he called it. This simply meant holding hands or linking arms with those next to you, something I was already doing with Jessica but (obviously) not the person on my left, whom I had never met and whose name I did not get. But we went ahead and linked anyway, and then sang with more heart...

It was a wonderful performance. After all this, he then asked that we not applaud anymore, but all hum together "Silent Night" while we thought about the Savior. It was a powerful moment. What a fun night we had.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Youtube Debut

I made my debut on youtube this weekend. I really need to tidy up my library...

Saturday, December 1, 2007


It snowed this morning. In fact, it's still kind of snowing now. People don't come out to shop for cars when it's snowing, unless they are die-hards. Anyway, my fellow new sales consultant, Zach, and I took advantage of the slow pace of the day and created a new advertisement for our sale incentive this month.

Wiki wiki wiki

Congratulations me! Earlier this week I made my first ever contribution to a wikipedia article. You can read the article if you like, my contribution is the last sentence in the paragraph about the 19th century in England. It's so easy to do! Kind of scary, huh?

The entry has to do with the legend of the Wandering Jew. Here is a picture of a Wandering Jew.