Digital But Original—The Thoughts are Handcrafted


Sunday, March 13, 2011


We were heading in to the grocery store and Luke and Noah, not unusual, started saying "hi" to everyone they were seeing. One gentleman looked like he had seen much better times smiled at Luke and Noah's greeting. He stopped us and wanting to talk to the boys. He asked Luke and Noah what their names were. He was happy to see some little people and said he had a couple of grandkids himself. I was tickled to see how friendly Luke and Noah are. He told Luke and Noah what nice boys they were and started talking to me a little about his life. He said that he had been divorced but that was dating a lady who he was in love with. He told me that he was missing her because she had been doing training to be a medical assistant. It made me happy to know that this man was having some happiness in his life. He thanked me for the kindness we showed to him and said that we were the "real deal." I really think the "real deal" are Luke and Noah because to be honest, I wouldn't have given this man a second look. He looked like he had been really down on his luck and possibly homeless. But, Luke and Noah as children were able to look past all that to see the human and son of God that he is. I'm always amazed at the things my children teach me about life and being good people. I think that's what Christ means when he admonishes us to be as little children.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Volume From My Parents' "Library of Kindness"

I think that Washington, DC which is replete with monuments, should be a model for me individually to memorialize what is elevating and ennobling in my life. In my case, I won't manage to build such inspired physical shrines to commemorate my influential people and events, but I would like to make some comparisons.

Certainly, in your case, Mom and Dad, you deserve a "thank you" of arching grandeur since your service to my family during our recent move to Virginia has been grand. However, I know that you're not expecting anything. As with those memorialized in DC's monuments, you didn't give service with any intentions of being thanked.

Using Abraham Lincoln as an example, he was self effacing in the Gettysburg Address: "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." It is interesting to note, however, that history actually has long remembered what he said and remembers less what the soldiers did there at Gettysburg.

This point illustrates that memory has a great deal to do with how well chronicles are written, what is celebrated, and what is erected to remain behind. Personally, any of my monuments to-date are largely internal, but I need to make these more tangible, especially to write them down. While I lack skills carving in marble, my words here are not any less vital to my individual remembrance than DC's monuments are to national values and memory.

Therefore, I will call my internal monuments not the National Archives or Library of Congress, but instead, my "Personal Archives," that house a "Library of Kindness" which has been shown to my family and to me.

Volumes can and should be written about all that you have done for me, Mom and Dad. As with Jefferson, Lincoln, and others with monuments in DC, some of whose greatest phrases have been carved in stone, I'd like you to know what a lasting impression your kindness has inscribed in my soul.

As the pediment to cap off my thoughts here, I'll make a comparison to how, like ancient exemplars, you serve as worthy models to emulate. The builders of the Washington, DC monuments used excellent Greek, Roman, Egyptian and other models from antiquity. However, these ancient peoples did have some false doctrine, building to pagan gods and goddesses like Athena. Notwithstanding, the virtuous and noble structural foundations that these cultures produced endured and, in my opinion, were improved upon, if not architecturally, than probably idealogically in the Washington, DC monuments.

Mortal men like Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lincoln, and Washington, were real, not fictitious, and, no doubt, mortals, not gods, but their greatest deeds have been made into memorials of lofty design and purpose that raise visitors' vision far above the present-day DC skyline. These memorials inspire me, similarly, to want to be a more upright, stalwart, articulate defender of freedom.

On a more personal level, Mom and Dad, you motivate me to want to follow your example and be a better husband, father, son, and citizen.

The photo below reminds me that Luke and Noah look up to their grandparents, and I will do my best to instill that uplifting, enduring regard in them:

The picture that follows may have been taken around Mount Vernon, but for me, the trail shown below represents family togetherness. Jessica, the children, and I love you, Mom and Dad, or, as Luke would call both of you, "Grandpa." Thanks for what you've done all along our family's path!

A Monumental Day

Walking around Washington, DC is truly a breathtaking experience. So many things inspire and uplift you. Jared had Monday off work so we decided to go see some of the sights of the big city.
We were most excited to see the Jefferson memorial because neither of us remember seeing it before. After walking through the lower portion of the memorial and coming to the portico by way of the elevator we walked into the rotunda. The statue of Jefferson is over 15 feet high and is impressive. He is gazing out toward the Washington Monument across the river. The building is open and through the columns you have amazing, scenic views. On the walls are written excerpts from the Declaration of Independence and other writings from Jefferson including this quote, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Next came the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. We didn't know this memorial even existed and we only stumbled on it taking the cherry-tree trail toward the Lincoln Memorial.
I think the memorials are all impressive and beautiful in their own way, but this memorial has a really special spirit. It's nestled among the trees and is made up of a series of water features.

"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith." -Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The Memorial's design concept of four outdoor "rooms" and gardens is animated by water, stone, and sculpture. Tour guides describe the symbolism of the five main water areas as:
  • A single large drop - The crash of the economy that led to the Great Depression
  • Multiple stairstep drops - TheTennessee Valley Authority dam-building project
  • Chaotic falls at varying angles
  • A still pool - Roosevelt's death
  • A wide array combining the earlier waterfalls - A retrospective of Roosevelt's presidency

I think about President Roosevelt and his wife and how they were so influential but also experienced many personal struggles (not to mention political struggles). I felt a tender peace and renewed respect for this man and woman.

Sculptures include a depiction of the 32nd president alongside his dog Fala and scenes from the Great Depression, such as listening to radio and waiting in a bread line (recognize that 6th man?). A bronze statue of First Lady Eleanore Roosevelt standing before the United Nations emblem honors her dedication to to that organization. It is the only presidential memorial to depict a first lady.

Next we walked up to the Lincoln Memorial. Despite what you may think, this was the most deserted monument. Nobody to be seen for miles, *wink*wink.*

The Lincoln Memorial was somewhat difficult to appreciate because there are so many people that come to admire the memorial and the view up the reflecting pool to the Washington Monument.

This time, I did notice something I didn't know existed at the Lincoln Memorial. I was so intrigued with two murals high above on south and north chambers (above the Gettysburg address and Lincoln's second inaugural address). These murals were painted by Jules Guerin graphically portraying governing principles evident in Lincoln's life. On the south wall mural, Freedom, Liberty, Immortality, Justice, and the Law are pictured, while the north wall portrays Unity, Fraternity, and Charity. Both scenes contain a background of cypress trees, the emblem of eternity.

Overall, a very awe-inspiring monument and a great end to a beautiful day exploring and appreciating these dear presidents that helped shape our nation.

We didn't get up to the Washington Monument, but it's beauty is hard to miss from the monuments we did visit.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thoughts From Luke: "Jesus is My Friend"

When we read from The Book of Mormon as a family, which we try to do most evenings, Luke always wants to see this illustration of Christ in the Americas. Tonight, thinking I would teach him, I told him how this picture shows Jesus coming to the temple and teaching the little children.

Well, I just found out that he may know more about what actually happened than I do.

He agreed with what I was saying and informed me, "Look at the picture. There's Luke!"

I asked him, "Were you there?"

He told me that, yes, he was and that, "Jesus is my friend."

Jessica then asked him, "Was I there?" and Luke answered that she was. He also said, "Jesus is so cute and funny!"

Now, was Luke just using his imagination seeing this image? Perhaps, but he may very well have been present during his premortal state when Christ came to the Nephites. I think it is almost certain that he knows our Savior well, especially since he has only been away from His presence for a few years.

Out of the mouth of a babe, tonight I learned something new about the Lord. Since Christ possesses all worthy traits fully as part of His divine character, he certainly could be cute and funny. In my case, "cute and funny" would not have been terms that I would have considered on my own to describe our Redeemer.

However, as I imagined Luke being there in the Americas when Christ came, I thought of Christ ministering to the children. No doubt, all the children laughed and rejoiced because Jesus loved and endearingly entertained them.

"Eye hath not seen nor ear heard" are descriptions for the wonderful prayers that Jesus offered among the Nephites. In addition, Luke taught me that, no doubt, those in attendance, particularly the children, had never imagined anything so enjoyable as spending time with their greatest friend, Jesus.

I like to think that Luke knows Christ on a personal level now and that, as I become more like a little child, I can come to know the Lord's true nature better as well.

Arlington, Virginia

We've been living here in Virginia now for 2 and a half weeks. So far, we are liking the opportunities for culture, arts, and history. We didn't know if we would fit into this little, old house, but we were surprised at how roomy the attic is. What we don't need daily is stored in the attic or shed. Happily, our family has felt quite at home here.
Over labor day weekend, Jared and I took the boys to see the Corcoran Art Museum, to hear a concert, and we also went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Just that one museum is 3 levels of wonder. The museum’s temporary and permanent exhibitions serve to educate, enlighten and entertain millions of visitors each year. The main building on the National Mall contains 1.5 million square feet of space overall and 325,000 square feet of exhibition and public space; altogether the Museum is the size of 18 football fields, and houses over 1000 employees. With all that square footage to cover (and the exciting dinosaurs) we will be visiting that museum more and more!

Oh, and the kids and I were able to ride the metro for the first time-fun fun. Noah was saying "choo choo" the whole time.

Next weekend we have planned to attend a guided walking tour of the national monuments. The guides claim to be part professor and part performer. We are looking forward to learning about and seeing these wonderful structures.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New changes

Luke is starting pre-school tomorrow. We haven't discussed it too much with him, but he seems really excited to start "school." The other day, he said "I want to go to, okay guys?"
He's such a big boy and we're so happy he is growing and learning.