A NEW DAWN

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Halloween: a day where people dress up in costume to be someone they are not, or maybe to show the world who they really are or long to be.  As I spent the drive to work this morning pondering this phenomenon, my mind raced to thoughts of who I am.

The expectations on me as a child and young man were great, and I often felt overwhelmed as a result of them.  I remember many times being told by my family, teachers, religious leaders, and neighbors that I would do great things in life. I expected this of myself as I had heard this my entire life.  As I graduated from High School and then left to serve a mission for my church, I felt the overwhelming weight of the world on my shoulders as these expectations had hit a fever pitch.

There is nothing quite like it in the world of letting down those whose expectations are so incredibly high.  Through personal choices, circumstances beyond my control and the choices of others my life has been quite different from what everyone else envisioned for me, and who and what I was to become.  I find it amazing how people will place incredibly high expectations on another persons life and then abandon them in times of need, despair and discouragement.  It has taken me a lifetime of dealing with the disappointments of others because my life had not turned out how they wanted it to and the accompanying reactions that went with it.

So that brings me back to who I am now.  I am a son of God.  I am deeply in love with my beloved Wife, I absolutely adore my children. I am a devoted husband, father, brother, son, uncle, cousin. I have been very successful in my careers and I do my best to serve others and help my community. I am extremely happy with every aspect of my life, for which I have control over.  I feel confident that I can overcome anything in life, because my life,  the life that I have been given that upset so many other people along the way for letting them down, has created strength in me, an inner peace,  that not many understand, nor recognize.  It is a quiet strength within me, a certain and unshakeable knowledge in who I am, and what my deep potential in life is.  This potential has nothing to do with what others desire, it has everything to do with what my Heavenly Father desires.

There were many discouraging, hurtful and frustrating challenges that I faced with others opinions of who and what I should be and what my life should be.   It was upon overcoming the obstacles that they placed in front of me that I was able rid myself of the chains they placed upon me and become more than they could ever have imagined.

This certain and complete knowledge provides untold strength that resonates deep within my soul, strength I know that will keep my feet firmly planted on solid ground, regardless of what life may bring.

I have learned, just as every sunset brings us closer to a new dawn, every challenge overcome brings us closer to the Son.

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A BLESSED WEEK – A Fathers Heartache part 7

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The school that my children attend is year round.  They are on a track schedule where they are out of school for 3 weeks and then go back for 12 weeks and then off again.  During the 3 weeks from school, I am able to spend time with them for one week during each off track cycle.   I look forward with great anticipation for this golden moment in time.  This is a time for my children and I to reconnect, a time when we can let our walls down and strengthen our relationship.

Last week was one of those precious moments in time that I treasure above everything else.

I left the office at noon everyday last week in an effort to maximize every single second I could with my dear children.  We went to the movies, the arcade, the ballpark.  We carved our pumpkins and went for hikes.  We laughed and we cried together.  It is in these tender moments of mercy that I am able to have with my children that keep me energized and capable of continuing on during the difficult times in between.

My children were able to participate in the primary program on Sunday. I fought the tears as I watched them sing and give their little parts during the program.  It was the first time I had ever been able to see them in a primary program, I savored the moment watching them.  During dinner Sunday night, my dear wife asked the kids what they liked most about spending this week with us, the answer that my son gave me brought tears to my eyes as he replied, “our family and being part of it.” Words are incapable of expressing what I felt at that moment.

Sunday night, as I sat on the couch with Londyn laying in one arm and Bridger laying on the other, we reflected together on the fun times we had during the week.  I was able to tell both of them how deeply I love them and how grateful I am to be their dad.  We cried together as we felt the realization that our week together was coming to a close.  We took courage and strength in knowing this would be a short week apart as the coming Halloween and weekend would be spent together, our first Halloween that had fallen on a night with dad.

As I dropped them off early Monday morning, on my way to work, I thanked my Father in Heaven for the time I was able to spend with them.  I pondered the coming silence I knew would take place without the phone calls and communication.  I looked forward to the coming weekend and holding them in my arms again.

I live for these moments with my children.  I yearn to be a full time dad to them, to tuck them in each night and to hug and kiss them each day.  It is through the weeks like we just shared that I know I am making a difference in their lives, and they in mine.

MOVING FORWARD IN FAITH – The story of William and Elizabeth Xavier Tait

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In 1842, while on a mission to Scotland, Parley P Pratt met and baptized a young man named William Tait.  Sometime after his baptism William joined the British Military and was sent to Bombay India where he met a beautiful Indian woman named Elizabeth Xavier.  Elizabeth was a member of the royal family in India, she was a woman of privilege, highly educated, attended by servants and familiar with the finer things in life.

William and Elizabeth fell madly in love.  William had continued to profess his beliefs in the mormon church, although it had been 8 years since his baptism and he had no contact with the church members.  Elizabeth, was in love with a man who was out of her culture and out of her family’s religion.  She was upper class and expected to marry within her culture and religion.  She married William in 1850 and joined the church in 1852 when Elder Hugh Findlay was called to serve a mission in Bombay, India.  She was ostracized and disowned by her family.

William served in the Branch Presidency of the fledgling branch and helped bring 19 souls to the gospel, He and Elizabeth had two children while in India, Her younger son passed away of cholera while in India, her oldest son John would leave with his Father to join the saints in Salt Lake while Elizabeth, now pregnant would remain behind while she delivered her baby and then she would quickly join them.

On April 22, 1855 Mary Ann Tait was born. Then on Monday October 15, 1855 Elizabeth finally set sail to Liverpool England with her infant daughter Mary Ann,  after a torrent of pleas from her people to stay and abandon this church and people.  While on her journey, little Mary Ann contracted pneumonia and died, only to be buried in Liverpool.   Lonely and distraught Elizabeth could not go on.  She was heartbroken and longed for William.  An inspired mission president of the Liverpool mission encouraged her to Move forward in faith.  Elizabeths soul ached as she boarded the ship Enoch Train which departed Liverpool for Boston on March 22, 1856 leaving her dear Mary Ann behind.

Elizabeths journey would continue where she would join the ill fated Willie Handcart Company.  Alone she traveled pulling a handcart as she witnessed and lived the many tragic events that occurred in that fateful journey.  It is reported that William was part of the rescue party that left Salt Lake in October 1856 to rescue his beloved bride and daughter, for William did not yet know that Mary Ann had passed away.  When Elizabeth saw Williams red hair and red beard reportedly her screams filled with tears of Joy at the reunion could be heard echoing in the camp.

Elizabeths story doesn’t end there.  William and Elizabeth settled in Cedar City Utah, yet her most formidable challenge was still ahead of her.  You see, Elizabeth had incredibly dark skin as a result of being of India descent, she was the target of discrimination, her wealthy upbringing provided an initial lack of preparation as pioneer, as such, she was ostracized and treated poorly by her relief society sisters.

Elizabeth had given up her wealth, her religion, her culture, her family, her people, her status, her children, suffered immensely crossing the plains, to become ostracized and treated  poorly by her adopted house of Israel.

Her story doesn’t end there!  William and Elizabeth are my Great Great Great Grandparents.  They taught us through their faithfulness and example how to Move Forward in Faith:

You see,   William and Elizabeth never questioned the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

They had a great love for the Lord and a deep testimony and conviction of their Savior and his love and atoning sacrifice for us:

They listened to and abided the counsel of the prophet and apostles.

They kept an ETERNAL perspective on life.

They exercised FAITH, they understood well that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mindset and that without faith there cannot be any hope

They heeded and hearkened to the promptings of the Holy Ghost

They served the Lord in every capacity asked to do so. They walked to the edge of the light.  They lived and understood Ether 12:6 “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith”

They found Joy in the Journey

They Proceeded with Trust in the Lord

They did not take counsel from their own FEARS

They waited patiently upon the Lord and his revelation for them

They knew and understood that God would provide

And they MOVED FORWARD in all things asked of them, understanding that Faith Precedes the Miracle.

In D & C 121: 7-8 we read that “Peace be unto thy soul:”   “Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but for small moment:”  “And if then thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high:  Thou shalt triumph over thy foes.”

The Lord is providing comfort and speaking peace to us.  He wants us to be at peace and have joy.  He wants to exalt us if we will endure well.  To endure well we must be moving forward.   We must do so in Faith.   Sometimes we must move forward in faith until our way is illuminated.  The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God, line upon line, precept upon precept,

When we are uncertain of the path ahead, we fill up our hearts with faith, go forward into the unknown and stop and pray again and again,  Then we move forward.  Faith is a principle of action.  The answers to prayer and the solutions to our problems generally come as we begin to act.

May we always act in Faith as we move forward in this Joyous Gospel plan.  May our testimonies reside in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and in his atonement.

ABSENTEE FATHERS AND THE SYSTEM THAT CREATES IT

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I have spent innumerable hours fighting for the ability to stay an active father in the lives of my children.  My ex wife has always believed that children are the property of the mother and as such they belong exclusively to her.  She treats them as property, to be used for her own purposes instead of human beings, little children.  This opinion of hers and many others,  has over the years necessitated my need to fight  to ensure that my children’s rights are not trampled, especially in relation to them having a relationship with both parents.

As a result of these behaviors I have been very vocal about my feelings with regards to the rights of children.   They are too often overlooked and discounted in the process of separation and divorce.  States such as Utah have a very antiquated idea in the  opinions of children and the rights of children in divorce.  The mother is granted custody 100% of the time in Utah unless otherwise contested by the father.  Even when custody is contested by the father, the mother still ends up with custody 85% of the time.  These statistics in the Utah courts only fuel the opinions and ideas that people such as my ex have towards their children.  The maximum parent time in Utah for non custodial parents allowed, unless otherwise agreed to by both parties is the non custodial parent receives one 4 1/2 hour visit per week and alternating weekends and holidays.  This results in a child spending a total of 120 total hours per month, with a minimum of 16 of those hours spent sleeping.  This is the equivalent of only 5 days a month.

Many  of the problems our youth face are a result of the father not being a significant enough role model in their lives, and fathers not being in the home with their children.

  • One in 3 children in the U.S. live in homes without a father.
  • Children in fatherless homes are 4 times more likely to live in poverty.
  • Youth in fatherless homes have a significantly higher incarceration rate.
  • Father involvement in school has a direct impact on their grades

We see continual benefits for our children when fathers can play an active role in the lives of their children.  Study after study supports this, yet we see the blatant disregard for this within the family court system.  Our laws and our societal opinions actually contradict the value of fathers in society.  Take for example the maximum visitation for primarily the father in a family friendly state like Utah.  The laws protect the mother while forcing distance between the children and their fathers.  Mothers can deny visitation to the father in Utah with no real consequences as the courts view them as the preferred parent as is evidence in the custody rulings.  When visitation is denied, the father is informed it is a civil matter and must go back into court to correct at their cost.  In court, the mother is told not to do it again and the process repeats itself.

On a national scale, abortion is considered the woman’s right to choose.  No thought is ever given to the rights of the child or the father in this matter, thus eliminating from society the role of a father and their importance.  We have in essence, in our society determined by our laws and our actions that fathers are of minimal importance.  We wonder why so many fathers end up moving on with life and leaving behind the children, yet we force a father to fight daily just to maintain the ability to be of significance in the child’s life.  Limited time with the children and countless obstacles to make visits possible are at times overwhelming and deeply discouraging.

We have proven that the role of the fathers is of utmost importance to the future and success of our children, yet pass laws that are counter to these studies.  After we have by our laws and legislation made the role of fathers insignificant, why would we then question why our children show aggressive tendencies and behavior?  Why they struggle in school?  why they commit crime at a higher rate? It is crazy to think that we can correct the problems without addressing the deeper causes behind why many fathers are absent.  They are absent not by choice, but by our laws that take no interest in preserving and protecting  their role as fathers.

Our children deserve BOTH parents equally in their lives.  Our future depends on it.

 

http://www.fatherhood.org/media/consequences-of-father-absence-statistics

 

 

 

GRANITE HEARTS

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Granite Walls…

Standing resolute…

Protectors…

Guardians..

Impossible to pass…

Hiding treasures…

Its only task…

Sun…

Water…

The tiniest of cracks…

Warming…

Swelling…

Gaining new hope…

Suddenly a fissure…

Emerging of a crack…

Exposed…

Vulnerable…

Uncertain…

Beginning…

Or Ending???

A Heart…

It’s final act…