Having June off from real goals really helped me. I wasn’t as stressed (granted, I wasn’t as productive either), but I was happier. I did have some health issues and lot of blood work done. On the one hand, the blood work and my physicals all came back normal, on the other hand, we still aren’t sure why I’ve been so overly exhausted, sleepy, and weak lately. But, I’ve started to feel better. I’ve also done better with just being present with my kids and enjoying watching them and reading to them without the distraction of electronics. You may have noticed that I haven’t really been all that active on social media lately–that was needed. I didn’t feel the passion for it. But, now that’s it’s July, I’m ready to get back to the grind of things. I’m ready for a renewal, just like last year (I love Danica for always doing these half-way-through-the-year checkups–they are so inspiring to focus back on your resolutions).
Another month gone, holy cow! They are going so fast, I can’t believe it! I read a total of 3 books this month’s reading roundup and I’m so happy I’m done with Rough Stone Rolling because I can finally move on to the rest of my bookshelves!
Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman
It has actually taken me little more than a year to read this book. Last year when I had my faith crisis, my Bishop mentioned reading this book. He knew that I was historically minded and that a lot of my questions and doubts had to do with the limited primary sources and actual facts of the early LDS Church and some decisions and preachings by early presidents of the church and other prolific members. Now, I have no doubt that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that he saw our Savior and translated the Book of Mormon. But, it does seem in our church that we revere him. We don’t revere any of the biblical or Book of Mormon prophets, or even any of the other Latter-Day prophets like we do him. And, there is so much antagonism against him. Also, there just isn’t a lot of facts that we are absolutely 100% sure of. So, my thoughts and feelings of him as a person, his decisions, and the early church as a whole was a little ambiguous.
The book, from a historical point of view, was very enlightening. It is a “cultural biography”, which means that the author tries to show how the culture of Joseph Smith’s day influenced and affected him. I definitely learned a lot I didn’t know about the culture of New England and the mid-west in the 1830-40s, as well as many facts about Joseph Smith and his family. A lot of times in this book, I found myself saying, “ok, that explains it,” or “that wasn’t as bad as people make it out to be.” A lot of times, direct quotes from Joseph Smith about doctrine or Gospel principles or attitudes and philosophies that Mormons should have made me want to shout out, “Thank you! If only modern-day Mormons realized this!!!” But, there were still some parts that made me cringe a bit about his decisions or double think his character or motivation. Really, it made me feel extremely bad for Emma as his wife. It also made me just sad for Joseph–he may have helped to restore Christ’s church and priesthood on the Earth, but he was definitely not as infallible or pure as many in the Church want to believe.
I realize that the LDS Church’s history is grimy and iffy, and that’s something I’m going to have to live with my entire life. But, I do know that the basic Gospel truth taught by this church is true. And, regardless of how I may feel about Joseph Smith, I am glad I got to know him better than I previously did.
Doctor Who: The Visual Dictionary
We actually bought this book years ago when Matt Smith became the 11th doctor. We’ve both flipped through it a few times, but I have never actually sat down and read it cover to cover. I decided to put it in the bathroom to read while Rhys was taking a bath or trying to go on his training potty, or for my own entertainment. It was fun to relive the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors and looking back at the different episodes and characters.
This book is set up like a children’s Discovery World books I used to check out from the library as a kid. It’s mostly pictures with captions. Rhys has also gotten in the habit of flipping through it. I’ve started teaching him the different characters in Doctor Who. He knows Daleks are robots, and that the Weeping Angels either look like they are crying or going “boo”. He also knows who Davros, creator of the Daleks, is and can say his name. It’s so cute!
Defenders of the Family by Benjamin Hyrum White
** I received a copy of this book from Cedar Forts Publishing in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints feels very strongly about gender identity and the importance of family. In 1994, the First Presidency of the church created a document called Family: A Proclamation to the World to explain our beliefs. Almost every Mormon family has it hanging somewhere in their house.
This books is a children’s book, in the form of a comic book, and teaches the principles of the Family Proclamation.
I loved the illustrations and how White made it simple for little kids to understand. When I received my copy in the mail, Rhys helped me open it and was excited to see that it was a book. He sat by me and let me read the entire thing to him. I am so glad that I have this book on my shelves now for my children as they grow up. It’s also a perfect book to take to Sacrament Meeting for your kids!
Find out more about Benjamin Hyrum White here.
What books did you read this month?
“He’s not able to come home,” my mom delivered the tragic news to us.
My dad had volunteered for a tour in Baghdad, Iraq in 2004. Thankfully, it wasn’t a combat position–he was a JAG for the Marine Corp (a lawyer) and his job would be to train Iraqi lawyers how to hold a fair court of law with due process. He was only supposed to be gone for 10 months. I remember that my bishop gave us a promise from God that he would come home safe and well. Of course, we were still nervous since the Embassy was being bombed often, but we trusted that God would return him to us.
However, during that 10 month period, my mom experienced some of the worst pain of her life. It had been little over 10 years since she had a radioactive surgery to kill a melanoma tumor in her right eye. But, the eye was finally dying. It caused her so much pain–her eye swelled, she barfed a lot, couldn’t eat much, had splitting migraines, and was in bed most of the day. As the oldest, I was given a lot of responsibility around home. But, to a fourteen year old freshman with three younger siblings and no father currently at home, it scared me.
That was the situation when mom told us that the General wasn’t going to let dad come home for another few months. One the one hand, it meant my dad was doing such an excellent job and was truly needed in Iraq. But, on the other had, we desperately needed him back. My parents tried to use my mom’s medical condition to persuade the general to find a replacement. It didn’t work.
So, my parents, half-way across the world from each other, prayed and fasted that the general’s heart would be softened. My siblings and I prayed every night and every morning for the same thing. After a month, it was to no avail.
But, we didn’t give up. Growing up Mormon, we had a strong testimony not only in the power of prayer and fasting, but also in community support. We told both sides of our family. We told our entire congregation. Working with our Bishop, we decided to try to change the wording of our prayers: instead of trying to have the General’s heart softened, to help a replacement for my dad be found, but let the Lord’s will be done. A special Sunday was chosen for the congregation and our entire extended family to fast and pray. We all trusted that the Lord would help my family.
Less than a week went by and we heard that a replacement had been found for my dad and he would be coming home within a month! My mother and siblings immediately knelt down and thanked the Lord for answering our prayer.
Dad came home, was able to help mom get back on her feet, and our family was whole again.
Even 12 years later, that experience of prayer is the strongest testament I have to the power that can be when we plead with our Heavenly Father. I truly believe that if our hearts and intentions are pure and good, and that we are humble, Heavenly Father will always answer our prayers.
Mosiah 9:18 (Book of Mormon)
And God did hear our cries and did answer our prayers
Doctrine and Covenants 112:10
Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.
2 Nephi 32:9
But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.
Today, Rhys and I are flying from Utah to our new home in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Justin has already made the trip there, driving our moving truck this weekend. We are super excited for this new adventure; however, Justin and I are also sad. We’ve lived in Utah since 2008. We’ve grown up in Utah–college, marriage, full-time jobs, house-hunting, parenthood, lay-offs…
It’s no wonder this move will be hard for us, even if it is a step in the right direction and allowing us to move onto bigger and better things.
However, there are six things I will definitely be missing about Utah while I’m in Texas.
[ctt title=”6 Things You\’ll fall in love with Utah! #beUTAHful @themorrelltale” tweet=”6 Things You’ll fall in love with Utah! #beUTAHful @themorrelltale” coverup=”d7qE2″]
Mountains and Trails
The beautiful Wasatch Front mountains to the East, dominating the landscape have definitely made an impression on me. Watching the sun rise over them, and fall past the Oquirrh Mountains, is one of the most gorgeous views ever. And, along with the mountains comes plenty of hiking trails, encompassed by trees, with little streams running through them. They were my own personal little havens.
Mormon or not, Temple Square in Salt Lake City is a must-see. It is one of Utah’s biggest tourist attractions. Besides the Salt Lake Temple, there is so much Mormon and Utah history and historical buildings in Temple Square. And, there are two malls nearby: Gateway and City Creek Center. During Christmas is the best time (and the busiest, by far) to visit Temple Square–the snow, the lights, the music, concerts, nativities, and just the overall atmosphere of the Christmas season. I will definitely miss going to Temple Square.
Family and Friends
My extended family all lives in Utah and Idaho. Justin’s brother lives in mid-Utah, and his sister lives in mid-Idaho. We have been living with my parents for the past six months. We have so many close friends from college. Justin’s college roommate and his wife were our next door neighbors right before we moved into my family’s basement. We will definitely miss the proximity to so many loved ones. We will miss being able to visit them over weekends and have the local support from them.
Food Truck and Startup Culture
Utah is known for its startup culture. We have some very good business schools in Utah, so there are many young entrepreneurs trying to start businesses. Food trucks, pop-up shops, eclectic restaurants and boutiques, etsy shops, graphic designers, bloggers, bands and artists, the list could go on and on. Justin and I loved supporting these new businesses and going to their events. I am desperately hoping there are some pretty good food trucks in the DFW area!
I am Mormon. Utah is known to be Mormon-filled. It was settled by Mormons! Only about 50% of Utah’s population today is Mormon, but that is still a lot of Mormons. I loved having so many neighbors who had the same beliefs as me and lived the same way I did. It was such a great support system. There were so many holistic shows, stores, companies, all with Mormon standards. It definitely was a “bubble.” I’ll definitely be glad to raise my children outside of Utah, as Justin and I were, so that they can become strong in our religion and have many different experiences, but it still would be nice to have such a big support system as Utah was.
Provo and BYU
Brigham Young University in Provo is where Justin and I went to school, met, and got married. We lived in Provo for about 6 years! I loved running around the town, always taking a new route. Y Mountain was fun to hike with friends. Going to BYU’s sporting events was the highlight of Justin’s years there. BYU was the center of Provo–school, activities, sports, events, festivals…everything happened on campus. When we moved north of Provo, we always made a point to go back and visit. We’d eat at our favorite restaurants on Center Street, walk around campus and reminisce, and have some BYU Creamery ice cream before we left.
They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder. I definitely hope that’s true, because I already want to return to Utah to visit!
Time for a long overdue Guys Behind the Blog, with your favorite hilarious, video-game playing, statistician, Justin!
In what ways are you the same as your childhood self?
I think the better question is how am I not the same as my childhood self. The biggest differences is that I work instead go to school, and that I actually eat food instead of being my old, picky self. Those aside, I’m mostly the same guy. Oh, I also have a wife and son. That’s kind of a bit difference.
What does family mean to you?
I have no idea how to answer this. Honestly, family is family.
How would your family or closest friends describe you?
4. What’s your fondest childhood memory?
Going to the hardware store with my father. We were there almost every weekend (My dad would always find something to work on, and often needed just one more thing at the hardware store in order to get it done). The electronics store and the sporting goods store were adjacent to the hardware store, so we often went to all three, just to look around. On the way home, we would stop off at McDonalds and we would each get an ice cream cone, but only on the condition that we could finish eating it before we got home so Mom didn’t find out. Then we would spend the rest of the day doing yardwork or working on whatever project my dad wanted to do. When we finished and after we had eaten, we would sit down on the couch and watch baseball or basketball while eating popcorn. Honestly, this really is the first thing that popped into my head. I have so many fond memories of my childhood with my siblings and my parents.
5. What words of wisdom would pass on to your childhood self?
Never pass up an opportunity to help someone, and never miss the chance to learn something new.