Aug 5, 2012

Gracie's Baptism

Yesterday, August 4th, Grace became the newest member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

It was a very nice service with her Grandpa Lee and Grandma Sagers giving wonderful talks on Baptism and The Gift of the Holy Ghost. I said the baptismal prayer in Portuguese, and I was able to give her a wonderful blessing and confirm her a member of the church with her grandpas, uncles, a member of our Bishopric, Mike Pierce, and our home teacher and good friend Matt Blackhurst.

4 Generations
Her Great Grandma was also able to come, as were plenty of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Diana's sister Laura's family lives in Washington, my brother Glen lives in Illinois, and Uncle Stephen and Jake were at the county fair showing Jake's pigs and unable to attend. But he did get a red ribbon pig and white ribbon pig.

Afterward we had a nice potluck dinner of beans and rice, numerous salads and wonderful desserts. Aunt Kelly also made her a very nice cake.

She got a new CTR necklace, and her very own set of imprinted leather scriptures.

Congratulations Gracie girl, you are on the right track!

Jun 25, 2012

Bye Bye Beard

I let my beard grow for about a month for Trek. It started out scratchy, went to soft, but finally just got annoying. It was a food catcher, and channeled the water away from my mouth when I took a drink, so after Trek, I decided to get rid of it. I figured I might as well make it fun, so here's what I came up with.

Jun 9, 2012

Pioneer Trek 2012 - Day 4

Last night we slept in the van. This was MUCH warmer. However, it did have the little clasps where the seats hook down in the floor that stuck up about 1/2 an inch. TOTALLY worth it though. I was warm.

For breakfast we had Cream of Wheat, another not so fun childhood memory -- so I ate pop tarts. There was some leftover biscuits and gravy from the day before, so I had some of that too. We broke camp, turned in the hand carts, and headed out to Rock Creek Hollow (also known as Rocky Ridge).

We had sandwiches for lunch in the parking area, then headed to the memorials.

The plaques are a memorial to the 15 people in the Willie hand cart company who died making it over the 3 mile long hill with layers of rocks during a heavy snowstorm. You can still see the ruts from the wagon wheels in the rock.
Ruts from the Handcarts and Wagons

Afterward, we had testimony meeting which was very moving. Some of the kids that started the Trek as slightly cocky I could tell were truly humbled from their experiences. There was one in particular that is far to sacred to share here, but feel free to ask me about it sometime.

We loaded up the cars again, and then headed toward home.

I stopped to take pictures at an old mining town, and since we would just be a minute, waved the others on.

After taking a few pictures, I realized we had a flat tire -- and also the only phones that worked. Diana sent a text message to some other members of our group, so when they got to a spot that they had service, they would get it and not wonder where we were. I put the spare on and we headed out again. Unfortunately, the closest place to get a tire fixed was in Rock Springs, 90 miles away.

We made it to Rock Springs and got the tire fixed at Wal-mart (which took more than an hour) and had a bite to eat. The Blackhursts and Dickeys had gotten our texts and stopped with us to wait. We got some fried chicken and potatoes in the deli. Finally we got it taken care of and left Rock Springs about 6:30ish.

We made it home, exhausted but happy at around 10:00pm.

Trek was Amazing. Truly Amazing. I cannot begin to understand all the Pioneers went through because of their faith, but I appreciate it far more than I did before.

Read Day 3

Jun 8, 2012

Pioneer Trek 2012 - Day 3

After another difficult night (warmer, but hard ground) I woke up at 5:30 again and made a fire. We had breakfast of biscuits and gravy, fruit and milk (which was delicious, by the way) and then started on our hike for the day. It was fairly warm with a slight breeze, and felt pretty good. This time on the trail there were several "experiences" to make it more real. As we went, we passed by another family from our ward who was on their knees with a hole in the ground burying their baby. It was even more heart wrenching because the mother of the family really is pregnant. Just seeing them there staring into the hole tore at your heart strings. Knowing they had to go on anyway, and leave the grave behind, wow. Just, wow.

Soon after that, the angel of death (Emily Petty) came through our camp and took one member of each of our families. Considering that many families lost multiple members, losing one was still quite sad. They went off with her, and we were left to sort out our family. We lost Kyra, and while some lost the Dad's and Mom's in the family, we still missed her, even for just the 1/2 hour she was gone. Some of the families had harder times than others.
Those who died in happier times

We went about 2.5 miles into the hike then stopped for lunch. We had a short program during lunch, then started what was called the Women's Pull. The men went off, leaving the women behind. We had a short talk about the importance of women in our lives, and how they should be treated well by Joe Fox.

Then the women started up the hill. It was about 3/4 of a mile at a fairly steep incline, and the men were not allowed to help. There really was a feeling of helplessness, coupled with awe at the strength of the women, pulling and pushing because there was no other choice.
After that was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences I have ever had. Michelle Allen (who is WAY tougher than I am) pulled her handcart alone with her husband in the back. She represented the story of Elsie and Jens Neilson who, when he fell ill, asked her to leave him behind. She wouldn't, loaded him in the cart and kept going. She was 4'11" tall and her husband was at least 6 feet. She pulled alone, and to watch her struggle, and only be able to watch, was so hard. There was not a dry eye to be found.
After a couple of minutes of struggling (which seemed like hours) her "children" were allowed to help, and she made it up the hill. We finished the 6 mile hike is relative silence after the experiences of the day.

We got back to camp and had dinner of Sloppy Joe's and salad. They were delicious. The missionaries set up square dance which was better attended than the one on Wednesday Then the "Pony Express" came and delivered mail to all the youth from their parents.
Then we had dutch oven peach cobbler, talked around the campfire and went to bed -- this time in the back of the van because I was tired of being cold. (did I mention I'm a wimp?)

Keep Reading --> Day 4
Read Day 2

Jun 7, 2012

Pioneer Trek 2012 - Day 2

After a cold night, (probably around 55 degrees, yeah I am a wimp and shivered for two hours, until the air mattress deflated, then I was on the hard ground, but warmer) I woke up around 5:30 AM and got up and started a fire. After breakfast of oatmeal and fruit and milk (I ate Pop-Tarts I had stashed away in the car, as oatmeal for breakfast is the bane of my existence), we loaded into vehicles and drove about 1.5 hours to Martin's Cove.

We loaded up the handcarts and started the hike.

We went about 2 miles, then set down the handcarts and walked to the Dan Jones Cove where the handcart saints had weathered high winds and sub zero temperatures, since there wasn't enough room in the fort. Suzy Fox and Tressa Eads played "Come, Come, Ye Saints" as we walked into the cove. It was very peaceful.

One of the missionaries talked more about the ordeal there, and the hardships they endured.

We then continued the hike around to the place where we had left the handcarts (1.5 miles) and had lunch meat sandwiches and carrots and celery for lunch. Next, we took the handcarts to the statues that represent the men who carried the Martin handcart pioneers across the Sweetwater River in -11 degree weather.

Then we had the opportunity to cross the river ourselves. It was just over knee deep. It was cool, but not cold, but after standing in it for 15 minutes taking pictures of the others crossing, it was not as pleasant.

We finished the hike (a total of 7 miles) cleaned up the carts and then headed back to Sixth Crossing. We had chili and salad for dinner, then a fireside about Levi Savage.
Then there was time for more talking around the campfire while the kids played pioneer games, then to bed at 10:00 PM.

Keep Reading --> Day 3
Read About Day 1

Jun 6, 2012

Pioneer Trek 2012 - Day 1

We woke up at 4:00 AM, had a quick breakfast of Pop-Tarts and milk, and met everyone at the church at 4:44 AM. Why 4:44? Because it's easier to remember than 4:45 (Was it 5:45, 6:45?) After several shuffles of who was going, driving, etc, we loaded into 11 cars, trucks, and vans (including our own) and headed out around 6:00 AM.

After a stop for gas, we continued on until we got to the 6th Crossing, Wyoming also known as the Willey Handcart Company rescue site. Several of the men got out to go get handcarts for the group, including me, while the rest of the group headed up to set up camp. I thought pulling a handcart would be rough, but it was quite heavy and awkward to pull by myself, even though it was empty.

Steve & Brittany Helm were the Ma and Pa of our family, Diana and I were the Uncle and Aunt. As children were Ben Murdoch, Steven Howes, Kyra Pace, and Julisa Maciel. It was a very eye-opening experience to pull the handcart fully loaded like that. Two people pulled and two pushed, in sandy soil four were on the front and back. We had a good time getting to know each other, and finding our "groove."

We had lunch (sack lunches from home) then headed out on a 4 mile hike. Each handcart had a 5 gallon plastic bucket with up to 17 lbs of gear for each person in the "family" and two 5 gallon coolers of water. The hike included a Sweetwater River crossing.  It was rather marshey and soggy, and then had an actual crossing in the deeper area. It wasn't very wide, but was still a struggle to get the handcart across.
 After the hike, we went back to camp and had spaghetti and salad for dinner. We listened to a fireside about Ephraim Hanks.

Then we headed to bed at 10:00 PM after a bit of chatting by the fire. The wind had died down, but it had also cooled off quite a bit.

Keep Reading --> Day 2

Mar 28, 2012

Ten Things To Tell My Teenage Boys

A blogger, Kate Connor, recently posted "Ten Things I Want To Tell Teenage Girls", I will share it with my girls. This is my list for my boys.

Dear Son(s),

As you go through life, there are a few things you need to know. Most, I learned from my dad, but some I learned by the experiences I hope you can avoid.
  1. Respect women. All women. Respect means treating them as you would want your future wife treated by others. Open doors for them. Offer your hand or arm when walking. Some may turn you down; don’t let that stop you from being courteous. Only date women that have respect for you, themselves, and others. "Don't kiss and tell" involves so much more than "kissing" and "telling." Don't ever say anything to anyone you would not want said about you. Be one who deserves their respect and trust, and never betray it, ever. Respect men too.
  2. Don’t be so dramatic. Practically everything social that happens in high school has a zero net effect on the rest of your life. Friends come and go, true friends stay. You might find this out the hard way. Surround yourself with friends that you can trust, and that will build you up and make you strong.
  3. Don’t take pictures of or write things you shouldn’t. You know exactly what these things are. Anything you document in any form, whether you post it online or not, has the potential to come back to haunt you. Your closet will be full of the skeletons you created by accident, don't fill it with ones you created on purpose. You will probably still do stupid things. Fix the things you can, then move on.
  4. Use your head. Your heart makes you do things you might regret. Listen to your heart, but don't follow it blindly. Your head takes longer to make decisions, and is therefore more likely to choose correctly. Common sense is far too sparse these days. Your heart will be broken, probably multiple times. If it’s not, you are either extremely lucky, or didn’t actually care as much as you thought you did.
  5. Being sad is okay. So is being angry. However, never make a decision when consumed by either of these emotions; usually you will make the wrong choice. Be cheerful, even when the situation isn't ideal, and you will have a much a happier life.
  6. Avoid all forms of performance enhancing or mood altering drugs. The best path for success always includes hard work. You may not succeed at everything you try, and that is fine. It does not give you permission to stop trying.
  7. Smoking is not cool. It is not smart. You will thank yourself when you can tell your own child you have never ever smoked.
  8. What other people think of you matters a lot more than you think it does, and a lot less. There will be times in your future that everything that you have worked for will rest on what people think of you. What your boss, your wife, your children think of you will alter your course in life more than you realize. Never be afraid of working too hard, but don’t let your work become more important than your family. You can (and probably will) change employment numerous times in your life. Your family – especially the one you created yourself should be the most important thing in your life.
  9. Help others. Male or female, no matter their station. You will get much further in life by bringing people with you than holding or pushing them back. Help them for their benefit, not yours. Your benefit will often show up later in unexpected ways.
  10. You are exceptional. Every day you have the choice on how to live your future. It’s okay to be wrong and change course, but make sure you have weighed the potential final outcomes, not just the immediate roadblocks. You are important to someone, somewhere, always. Be worthy of that admiration. There are successful people in every industry, regardless of height or weight. What matters most is your attitude. Never act less than the prince you are, and the king that you can become.

Anything I missed? Please leave a comment below, and feel free to share this article with friends.

Mar 14, 2012

Drawing My Own Conclusions

The past several months I have been trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I would like to say that I have it all figured out now. But I don't. I know what I have done for the past 6 years (web development). I know what I don't want to do from the three years before that (commissioned sales). I know that I like to draw. I consider it a talent. I don't consider myself to be the best artist by any stretch of the imagination; but I can rightly claim people on my team rarely lose at Pictionary. Just sayin. Anyway, to that end, I have had some free time in the past couple months to work on my digital artwork skills. I have completed over 50 "subway art" type projects with a decent amount of satisfaction with each one done. At the prodding of my sister, I recently completed these:

They are 8x10 (or 16x20) sized drawings for hanging on a nursery wall. Now, just so you don't get the wrong idea, I don't have a nursery currently, and I don't need one in the future. However, I had a great time doing them and I hope you like them. Oh, and if you are interested in purchasing them, you can buy them and many others here:

Feb 22, 2012

The Songs She Cannot Sing

I am going to wax philosophical for this post.  As most know, I have a 12 year old (Becca) with severe physical handicaps. These make her of an effort to care for in many respects. She is non-ambulatory (Doctor speak for doesn't move herself) and non-verbal. Not that she doesn't make noise, she is quite vocal about how she is currently feeling. Whether it's "I'm tired, and want to go home and go to bed" or a heartfelt explosion of laughter at precisely the time she is supposed to be quiet, she knows (most the time anyway) exactly what she is doing. However, she doesn't say a single word. Never has. Probably never will (in this life anyway).

However, there is so much more to her than her disability. So many feelings she not only has inside, but that she evokes in others.

For some, it's pity. I can't always tell if it's pity for her condition or pity towards her parents who have to care for her 24/7. To them I say, don't pity me. I have a child with guaranteed acceptance into Heaven. Something she did in the pre-mortal realm gave her the opportunity to come to this life without the temptations of Satan. I cannot imagine the power she once had that gave her the blessing to be tested in a life that's only requirement for her is that she gains a body. As her father, I know she was sent to me to give me the exact hardships I needed to be a better person. She makes me so much more grateful to those who are willing to lend a hand, without being asked. Funny things, exact hardships. They always presently come at the wrong time, but after the fact, came exactly at the right time.

Some people say, "Oh you must be a very special person to merit a child like this." To them I say, thank you for the compliment, but in earthly reality, makes as much sense as "You are so blessed to be barren and childless" when you long for children. My first reaction to knowing my child would be born with disabilities was anger. How unfair life was! How, if I had known, I would have done something differently so that this wasn't what happened. I was intelligent and in good health, and my wife was well-educated, a wonderful wife, and beautiful. Why would this happen to us? At some point came acceptance, then eventually the feeling of being blessed. But those feelings aren't set in stone, and I still have all three at times, sometimes even all in the same day. She wasn't a blessing. She became a blessing by becoming one of the hardest trials I have ever had. But, like all trials, wasn't meant to be only endured, but enjoyed. Men are that they might have joy. Not will have, but might have -- it depends on our attitude toward our trials.

I have had snippets of visions of a future with Becca where she has long brown locks to the middle of her back. She is running and laughing. She is beautiful. Looks just like her mom in high school, only with lighter brown hair. The grin is the same. The smile is the same. The sound of her laughter is the same. But her legs are moving her places. Her arms extend to give hugs. She has a beautiful voice. The songs she could not sing, finally pass her lips. The songs I couldn't sing, finally manifest themselves. Our loving Heavenly Father knows the songs of our hearts and looks forward when to the day when we can sing them out loud -- to Him.

There is music in my soul today,
A carol to my King,
And Jesus, listening, can hear
The songs I cannot sing.
- Eliza E. Hewitt (LDS Hymns 227)

Download and print other colors at

Feb 13, 2012

Things You Will NEVER Hear My Wife Say...

First off, this is tounge-in-cheek; we are happily married, and drive each other happily crazy sometimes. So, in honor of this fact, I came up with a list of things that my wife will never say to me, no matter how long we are married.
  • Wow, I ate just the right amount at dinner; I'm sure this will last me until breakfast.
  • I can't reach that, it's just TOO high!
  • I couldn't sleep another wink. No, really!
  • I woke up like two hours before you this morning, just to make you a lovely breakfast.
  • Thanks for taking the kids for the afternoon, but hurry back, I miss them so much already!
  • You know what would be awesome? Watching you play video games for a couple hours.
  • I cannot believe how nice my hair looks today -- and I didn't even use a brush!
  • Please don't give me more chocolate.
  • Look honey! I went to the store and bought these 5 outfits and they all fit perfectly with NO alterations required!
  • While you were gone, I finished up your "honey do" list. You were almost done anyway.
  • I am afraid we have too much time and money, what will we do with all this surplus?
  • I don't need a pet of any sort, they would just take my time away from you.
  • Of course I wanna watch a Naked Gun / Hot Shots marathon, let's hurry!
I love you Diana!
Happy Valentines Day!

P.S. Her list is here.

Feb 12, 2012

Valentine's 2012

Here are the valentines the I helped the kids make this year. They sound even better if you say them in a Sean Connery voice.


Jan 8, 2012

Book of Mormon Reading Chart

This year's Gospel Doctrine Study is the Book of Mormon. One of my goals is to read it as a family within the year. We have started it several times before, but often get sidetracked or fizzle out. I am sure I am not the only one with this issue. To help me (and them) I made a deal with my children, that no matter how late it was, they could always stay up until we had read scriptures. Not only has this helped us read scriptures every night, but suprisingly has helped them go to bed better and more quickly.

As one of the teachers, I encouraged the class to read the whole Book of Mormon this year, starting from the beginning. To help facilitate finishing and keeping up with reading, I put together bookmarks as a handout (Yeah, I know, how Relief Society of me.) The first column is the month, the second is the page you should be on at the last day of that month. Feel free to save it and print it, or click on the image below for a letter-sized page of 6.


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