Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Changes and Challenges

Stake Conference has come and gone, and with it a new calling for me. I was called to serve as 1st Counselor in the Stake Young Men's Presidency. I am stoked for this new calling and the opportunity it will give me to work with the Varsity Scouting program in our district. While I was attending Trader Joe's funeral on the 23rd, I thought to myself: "I hope that my next Scouting Assignment involves me with the Varsity Scouts. These guys look like my kind of people, and they sure do seem to have a ton of fun." Three days later President Porter called me in for an interview and extended this calling to me.

I am looking forward to learning a ton from the amazing leaders in this district and working with our great team coaches, giving them the support they need to have a world class program for our boys.
My blood now begins to change colors from a deep red to blaze orange. Wah Pilgrim!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


On Friday my beautiful wife gave birth to a little boy, bringing our family count to 6 children (4 girls and 2 boys). I love having babies in the house. They bring a special joy all on their own, and add to the joy we feel for each of our other children. One of the things I especially love about adding a member to our family is the reaction of the older children. Seeing their excitement at a new sibling just increases the happiness in our home and gives us new memories to cherish down the road.

The response I am always most interested in is the one from the next youngest child - the one whose position as the baby has just been passed on. When our second child, Sweet G, was born Teeny Bopper was thrilled to have a real live dolly to play with - until she had been home for a couple of days. At the end of the second day home she kept telling my wife that "It's time for the baby to go home now" and "Take the baby back to its mommy." We thought it was hilarious. Fortunately Teeny Bopper got over her jealousy in about a week, and her and Sweet G. have been the best of friends since then.

Two and a half years ago our family was blessed with our first boy. He has been so different from the girls, and has received a lot of attention from his four "other mommies" as a result. We were hoping that Baby Bean would be a boy so that he and Dr. D. could be buddies growing up. Our wishes were granted, and we now have two little boys in our home. Yesterday we brought mommy and Baby Bean home from the hospital, and Dr. Destructo began bonding with gusto. Just a few minutes after we had settled down I was holding Baby Bean on the couch when Dr. Destructo came running up with some of his toys to show Baby Bean. Then, in the most earnest and sincere voice he could muster he looked directly at his new brother, called out his name and said: "Play ball, me?"

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I couldn't let the day slip away without acknowledging the tremendous debt I owe to the brave men and women who have fought and died for my freedom over the 200+ years of this nation's history. I am grateful not only for their tremendous sacrifices, but for the sacrifices of the families that they left behind. It is fitting and proper that we should take a day each year to remember those who paid the last full measure of devotion so that we could enjoy the freedoms we do today. One of the headstones we looked at today described the RAF cadet interred there as his parents "much loved and only son". This inscription really touched me as I realized how much this particular family had given up in defense of freedom for themselves and their countrymen. This young man never married or enjoyed all of the wonders of parenthood. He didn't have a career, finish his education, or live to ripe old age. Instead, he was cut down in his prime while doing his duty.
I am grateful for the opportunity Memorial Day gives me to take my children to visit our local cemetery and pay our respects to brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have put it all on the line so that we could enjoy the life we now have. I am thankful for this wonderful land we live in and those who have fought to establish it and keep it free. God bless their memory!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The cycles of life...

Earlier today I was scanning some pictures of my children, my wife, and I as babies.  Aparently my wife is putting together some sort of collage of all of us.  The only picture we had of me as a baby was firmly pasted into a baby book that my mom put together for me when I was, well, a baby.  Since the book is as old as I am and carries the only copy of my birth certificate, it is seriously beat up.  After scanning the picture my wife wanted, I proceeded to scan all of the pictures of in the book so that I wouldn't lose them.  (OK - not all of them, one of them involved nudity so I left that one to rot in the book)

I had a blast scanning these pictures and then reviewing the memories associated with them.  What stood out in my mind as I looked at these pictures was how many cycles of life are represented in these pictures and the people in them.  Several of the people in the pictures are no longer with us and I have moved up the "generational ladder" as a result.  I thought it would be interesting to post of few of these pictures, showing how the cycles of life keep rolling around. 

The first picture here is of my parents family right before we moved to Mexico in 1980.  This is only half of us, four more siblings would show up over the years in Mexico, but it is a good representation of my parents when they were just a little younger than I am now.  (In the picture of my family I am only two years older than my Dad would have been in the first picture.)  In case you are wondering, yes - I am the good looking boy in the picture.
I have to say that Dad looks pretty distinguished in his checkered vest.  And, not to be outdone, Mom looks great with her 'fro.

 As I was scanning these pictures and reviewing them one really touched me.  It is a picture of me and my Grandpa and Grandma Whetten who were visiting me on my first birthday in California.  Fortunately I am old enough to have a lot of memories with my Grandpa and Grandma Whetten, but in all my memories I am an older child that is too big to be held.  In this particular picture my Grandpa Whetten is holding me.  Although I don't remember it, I like the thought of Grandpa Whetten holding me in his arms when I was little. 

Seeing this picture reminded me of a picture I have of my son spending time in his Grandpa Whetten's arms.  I hope when he is as old as I am that this picture brings him the same warm feelings of love for his Grandpa Whetten as the one above does for me.  And I look forward to holding each of my grandchildren and continuing the cycle.  (When that time comes, of course.  I am not in a big hurry for that just yet!)

This picture was taken of me with my Grandpa and Grandma DeWitt on my blessing day in California.  I was nine days old in this picture.  The painting you see behind my Grandpa hung in our home until we moved to Mexico.  I remember thinking of all kinds of adventures that I could have in the woods and the river depicted in that painting.  I wonder what happened to it?

Although he isn't a baby in this picture, here is a picture of my son being held by my Grandpa DeWitt.  It is cool that my son has been held by my Grandpa just like I used to be.

Last but not least, this picture is of me with my Great-Grandpa and Grandma Lamoreaux in front of our home in South Gate, California.  Because I am one of the older members of my generation (and because the Lamoreaux's have a thing for longevity) I knew my great grandparents.  I have always felt blessed by this association with Grandpa and Grandma Lamoreaux.  Being first definitely has its privileges when it comes to memories of people.  Grandpa Lamoreaux was a World War I navy vet.  Grandma Lamoreaux was a little girl during what is known as "The Exodus" from the Mormon Colonies in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution.  

My daughters are fortunate enough to know their Great Grandpa and Grandma DeWitt.  They will carry their own memories of these great people with them and will be able to tell their children about their great-great grandparents.  Grandma DeWitt passed away just a few days before my boy was born, so he didn't get to know her here.  He does know and love his Great Grandpa DeWitt however, and I am grateful for this gift.

I am grateful for the memories I have of my family, and I look forward to the cycles of life that still lie ahead of us all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Publicity Dilema

The producers of Big Love, a fictional depiction of a polygamous family living in Utah have recently stated that they will be portraying "secret Mormon temple ceremonies" in an upcoming episode. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put out the following statement in response:

SALT LAKE CITY 9 March 2009

Like other large faith groups, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sometimes finds itself on the receiving end of attention from Hollywood or Broadway, television series or books, and the news media. Sometimes depictions of the Church and its people are quite accurate. Sometimes the images are false or play to stereotypes. Occasionally, they are in appallingly bad taste.
As Catholics, Jews and Muslims have known for centuries, such attention is inevitable once an institution or faith group reaches a size or prominence sufficient to attract notice. Yet Latter-day Saints – sometimes known as Mormons - still wonder whether and how they should respond when news or entertainment media insensitively trivialize or misrepresent sacred beliefs or practices.
Church members are about to face that question again. Before the first season of the HBO series Big Love aired more than two years ago, the show’s creators and HBO executives assured the Church that the series wouldn’t be about Mormons. However, Internet references to Big Love indicate that more and more Mormon themes are now being woven into the show and that the characters are often unsympathetic figures who come across as narrow and self-righteous. And according to TV Guide, it now seems the show’s writers are to depict what they understand to be sacred temple ceremonies.
Certainly Church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding. Last week some Church members began e-mail chains calling for cancellations of subscriptions to AOL, which, like HBO, is owned by Time Warner. Certainly such a boycott by hundreds of thousands of computer-savvy Latter-day Saints could have an economic impact on the company. Individual Latter-day Saints have the right to take such actions if they choose.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an institution does not call for boycotts. Such a step would simply generate the kind of controversy that the media loves and in the end would increase audiences for the series. As Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Robert D. Hales of the Council of the Twelve Apostles have both said recently, when expressing themselves in the public arena, Latter-day Saints should conduct themselves with dignity and thoughtfulness.
Not only is this the model that Jesus Christ taught and demonstrated in his own life, but it also reflects the reality of the strength and maturity of Church members today. As someone recently said, “This isn’t 1830, and there aren’t just six of us anymore.” In other words, with a global membership of thirteen and a half million there is no need to feel defensive when the Church is moving forward so rapidly. The Church’s strength is in its faithful members in 170-plus countries, and there is no evidence that extreme misrepresentations in the media that appeal only to a narrow audience have any long-term negative effect on the Church.
During the Mitt Romney election campaign for the presidency of the United States, commentator Lawrence O’Donnell hurled abuse at the Church in a television moment that became known among many Church members as “the O’Donnell rant.” Today, his statements are remembered only as a testament to intolerance and ignorance. They had no effect on the Church that can be measured.
When the comedy writers for South Park produced a gross portrayal of Church history, individual Church members no doubt felt uncomfortable. But once again it inflicted no perceptible or lasting damage to a church that is growing by at least a quarter of a million new members every year.
When an independent film company produced a grossly distorted version of the Mountain Meadows Massacre two years ago, the Church ignored it. Perhaps partly as a result of that refusal to engender the controversy that the producers hoped for, the movie flopped at the box office and lost millions.
In recent months, some gay activists have barraged the media with accusations about “hateful” attitudes of Latter-day Saints in supporting Proposition 8 in California, which maintained the traditional definition of marriage. They even organized a protest march around the Salt Lake Temple. Again, the Church has refused to be goaded into a Mormons versus gays battle and has simply stated its position in tones that are reasonable and respectful. Meanwhile, missionary work and Church members in California remain as robust and vibrant as ever, and support for the Church has come from many unexpected quarters — including some former critics and other churches.
Now comes another series of Big Love, and despite earlier assurances from HBO it once again blurs the distinctions between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the show’s fictional non-Mormon characters and their practices. Such things say much more about the insensitivities of writers, producers and TV executives than they say about Latter-day Saints.
If the Church allowed critics and opponents to choose the ground on which its battles are fought, it would risk being distracted from the focus and mission it has pursued successfully for nearly 180 years. Instead, the Church itself will determine its own course as it continues to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Getting Old(er)

January is a busy month for our household with three birthdays, all within the first twelve days of the month. We began this past Monday with my 36th, moved on to Sweet G's 11th on Tuesday, and will finish up with Teeny Bopper's 13th this coming Monday. Earlier today I came home pretty wiped out from a Republican Party meeting that seemed to take forever and crashed hard into the recliner for about an hour. (I have been sick all week, and then made the additional mistake of wearing boots to a "standing room only" meeting that lasted from 8:30am until 2:30pm - if I sound like I am rambling it might be the drugs I'm taking)

Anyway, during my semi-conscious sojourn in the recliner I began thinking about having a teenage daughter, being closer to 40 than to 30, having our sixth kid a little later this year, and all of the events that I have participated in over the last 36 years. I remembered friends and family members who have left us, counted the number of nieces and nephews that have arrived, and reminisced on how quickly time flies by whether you are having fun or not.

All in all, I have enjoyed my life up through today, feel blessed by all of the experiences I have had and am looking forward to the new ones this year is sure to bring. As I "age" I hope that I learn to appreciate the moments that make up my life, and find the joy that is waiting to be discovered each day