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.

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…

 

A LABOR DAY SAMARITAN IN MAJESTIC WYOMING

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My wife and I love short weekend retreats.  Oftentimes we wake up in the morning and leave with no destination in place.  We have discovered many wonderful little roadside attractions over the last 4 years.  These wonderful trips have created amazing memories for us and opportunities to meet some wonderful individuals along the way.

This past Labor Day Weekend was one such trip.  My wife and I decided last minute to get away and go in a direction we had never gone together.  We headed for Wyoming and the Tetons.  We were excited for the much needed time together hiking and enjoying the mountains as we always do in a new and majestic setting.   We anxiously left home and headed for the Tetons, just us and our baby girl.

The trip took an unexpected turn as we neared our destination, we had arrived just outside of a little town called Afton, Wyoming about 80 miles from our destination when our Jeep overheated.  We sat on the side of the road as we waited for the engine to cool down then examined the hoses and radiator.  Strangely, nothing appeared to be broken so we filled the radiator up and head onward.  We overheated again, the sun had set and we were nearly 10 miles from Afton with our 8 month old daughter.

We sat on the side of the road for a few minutes as we contemplated our options.  We said a prayer for help and got out to look at the car again, wondering if we could fill up the radiator again to crawl into Afton.  As soon as we opened the hood,  a truck stopped by, this young man hops out and says “hi I’m Mike, can I help you?”  My wife and I quickly exchanged looks of relief and gratitude with one another as we graciously accepted Mikes help.

As we looked into the Jeep, we noticed that the pulley on the water pump had fallen off and water was coming out of it, we were not going anywhere!  Mike quickly pulled his truck around, hooked on a tow rope and pulled us into town and to a hotel parking lot.  This good Samaritan proceeded to walk into the lobby of the hotel with us to make certain there were sufficient rooms available,  After we checked in, Mike asked me for my cell phone number and told me that he would call me in the morning around 7 am to help us further.

Sure enough, the following morning Mike called as promised.  He told me on the phone that he would be there to pick me up in about 30 minutes.  Mike had made arrangements for the local auto parts store, which was closed due to the labor day holiday, to open up long enough for us to get a water pump to install.  Mikes friendship with the owner had made that possible.  After obtaining the necessary parts from an extremely kind and generous owner of the parts store, Mike and I headed to his office to verify the torque specifications for the water pump, then we headed to Mikes house to move some vehicles around out of the driveway so as to have access to his garage.

We then met my wife and daughter back at the hotel where we again placed a tow rope on the Jeep and towed it to Mikes home.  We proceeded to take out the old water pump and replace it.  Mike had to the necessary tools to make this happen.  We were unable to get the jeep into the garage, so we stood in the down pouring rain outside the garage as we replaced it, all the while Mike was urging me to stay in the garage to stay dry, I was unable to oblige that request as I was so humbled by this mans sacrifice and willingness to serve that I was going to be there assisting him on my car.

Graciously and humbly we thanked Mike for his extreme kindness, generosity and service to complete strangers.  Mikes example of service was truly an answer to our prayers the night before for help and assistance.  Mike sent me a text message hours later following up to make certain that my beloved wife had been able to see the Majestic Tetons for the first time.  He was more concerned about her and what she had hoped for on this trip than his time, inconvenience and rain as he helped us.  His unquestionable desire to help others provided a much needed service that we were in need of.  My wife and I will forever be grateful for his service to us in our time of need.

Thank you Mike and may God bless you and your family!  You are a remarkable example and a fine young man!

MY PRINCESS WITH A HEART OF GOLD AND A BROKEN WING – A Fathers Heartache part 6

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My dear sweet little girl turns 9 next month.  She was only 20 months old when my ex left.  Over the years this precious little girl has experienced tremendous turmoil in her life.  The man that my ex left with turned out to be very abusive physically and emotionally, not only to my ex but to my children.  My kids would tell me stories of his abuse, how they would hide together under the bed every time this man became angry, which apparently happened a lot.

When my kids were little, I used to be frustrated at finally getting to spend time with them and they would crash!  Within 20 minutes of my getting them they would be fast asleep.  This happened nearly every single time for two plus years.  I longed to play with them and to be able to spend quality time, yet each time they would come over they would spend the vast majority of our time together sleeping.  I would normally sit on the couch holding both of them, one in each arm for hours as they peacefully slept.  This was difficult for me to have my time with them spent sleeping.

I spoke with a friend who is a psychologist to express my feelings about this.   She informed me that my kids were falling asleep so quickly because they felt peaceful and safe with me.   Their lives were in such disarray and turmoil that they were exhausted when they came with me, the peace they felt allowed them to relax and fall asleep.  She told me that they needed this time desperately.  I was relieved to know why, yet heartbroken to think that they would be living this way with their mom.

My daughter was being potty trained at the time that my ex left and married him, as you can imagine, all the changes and turmoil led to many accidents for her.  Bridger expressed their fear to me again one night and told me how Londyn had been spanked hard bare bottom for having an accident and how Wade had yelled and yelled at her until she was too scared to even move.

I confronted them on their doorstep that night regarding this, I had called the police and met them at the house.   The police simply told me it was a civil matter and I needed to go to court again to resolve this issue.  Again I headed into the courtroom to protect my children from this abuse.  The judges ruling was appalling.  Since it was not her mother abusing her she would not change the custody and I was reprimanded for getting the police involved.

Needless the say my children have experienced much pain and heartache over the years as a result of the many men my ex has brought in and out of their lives.  This has created, especially for my precious little girl, an emotional distance from people.  I see the walls she has built to protect her tender little heart.  I see glimpses of hope in  her eyes as time goes by, especially during the times when she is with us for longer than a weekend.  Those few opportunities each year that they get to spend more than 2 days in a row in our home seem to open her up where she can express her love.

Londyn is my Angel With Broken Wings.  My heart aches each time I see her struggle to say I love you to anyone.  Her heart is so incredibly large, she is the first one in the family to help others.  She shows her love through her actions each and everyday of her life, yet the emotional sharing and connections she struggles with deeply as a result of what she has experienced.

We try so hard to carefully help her take down her walls.  My wife and I focus on her needs as they relate to feeling unconditionally the love and acceptance and safety in our home.  As she gets older, she is able to more effectively express her thoughts which have led to a greater opportunity for those moments when she will share her feelings.   I make certain that the days when Bridger has practice and Londyn does not have cheer when they are with me that time is sacred time for Londyn and I.  We have our regular daddy daughter time when it is all about her and her needs.   I wish deeply that I could have more opportunities to spend one on one time with her.

A couple of times each month I will have lunch with her at school.  Each time I walk into the school cafeteria her eyes will light up and she scoots over to make room for me at the table with her friends.  It warms my heart with each opportunity to sit at the table with her and her friends as they talk about school and their recess plans.  The hugs in school when I leave are getting stronger and stronger.  She will whisper in my ear each time I love you daddy, thank you!  I pray that these little things that I am able to do will help to heal her broken wings.

I dream of the day when I can see my little girl soar.  When her tender heart has healed enough to be able to fly on her own.  When sharing her feelings and emotions with those she loves comes naturally.  In the meantime, I watch her put on a brave smile everyday as she tries to conquer the world, while knowing how much her tender heart aches.  She is a Princess, with a heart of gold and a broken wing.

A BOY AND HIS DOG – LESSONS FOR LIFE

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My son has begged me for a dog for many years.  The irony of this is that up until this summer Bridger has been very afraid of them so his requests for a dog have always confused me.  Cautiously we waited on this request in an attempt to discern his reasons in wanting one combined with his fear of them.  Whenever we would ask him why, he always told us that if we got him a dog it would help him overcome his fears.  I must admit that I questioned this logic, however my wife and I decided we would give it some thought, a lot of thought.

There were many reasons why getting a dog for my son did not make sense for our family.  With the extremely limited time we get to spend with our children, we knew that the chores associated with a family dog would fall upon my wife and I. Getting a dog with our incredibly busy schedules combined with our frequent travel would prove to be a difficult task to manage.  We waited many years in making this decision, we wanted to make certain that this wouldn’t be a passing fad for the kids, especially my son who was always the most vocal, yet always the most fearful.

Over this past year, Bridger would often talk with me about getting a dog.  His desire was overwhelming and his heartfelt pleas were felt.  He expressed his sadness in not having a dog.  He would often tell me that “every boy needs to have a dog dad.”  I expressed my concerns to him, in only being able to see him 6 days a month, how would he ever take care of it?  I asked him if I could get him one for his moms house, then he could spend time with the dog when we were apart.  He would quietly sit there a moment and whisper to me, my mom moves too much and we can’t have one in the apartments.  Then he would sadly look at me with the understanding of a man that he possesses and say, it’s OK dad, i know it would be hard to have one, I just really wish I could, he would be like my best friend in the world.

My heart longed to give him a dog.  I wanted to give him everything in this world I could.  It would help him learn responsibility and I knew how much he wanted one.  How would we ever pull it off?  How would it be fair to the dog? 

Summer progressed and his desire was greater than ever.  My wife and I spoke often about it and searched for solutions to our schedules to make this a possibility.  Finally, as we talked, we both realized and understood the importance of this for our children and we would make whatever changes would be necessary for them to be able to have this desire.  They had proven for years that this was a real dream for them and not some passing fad.  I told my dear wife that I would take care of the dog and make the arrangements for it when we traveled and while we worked.  We knew in our hearts that our children needed this and this would help them in this crazy mixed up life of theirs.

Late last July , my wife and I chose a weekend the kids were not home and visited the animal shelters in the county looking for the right dog.  We were looking for a new member of our family and it had to be the right dog.  We were both committed that it would be a rescue dog from a shelter and we would keep looking until we found the one.  We wanted to surprise the kids.  Then we found her, the perfect fit for our family.  We would call her Jedi.

As anticipated the kids were ecstatic!   Bridger was so excited and could hardly believe that we had gotten a dog.  The embrace we shared as he hugged me permeated my soul to the deepest core, my son knew that his dreams were important to me and that I would always look for ways to make them happen.  I watched as he would nervously pet Jedi on the head as he fought his fears.  Then something miraculous happened.  Jedi jumped up on him and licked his face, turned and ran around the backyard.  Bridger wiped his face, laughed and began chasing and running around the yard with her, laying on the ground and trying to get her to play fetch,

I pondered this deeply for the next few days,  The joy in my heart that I knew we had done the right thing for our kids, but more importantly I thought about the lessons this experience had taught me.  My son had known and had been able to teach me this lesson of facing ones fears.  That in doing so we not only overcome them, we conquer them and make them strengths within us.  Bridger is no longer afraid of any dog, his example taught our family a great lesson in life.   The other lesson learned, when we do what is right for our family and those we love the most, the obstacles that seem to be before us have a way of always working out.