Clinging is Not Enough

Three Times in Three Months

Shortly before he was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Neil L. Andersen was asked to deliver one of the weekly devotionals held every Tuesday at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. During his address, which he delivered on March 4, 2007, he explained that speakers select their own topics as they feel impressed by the Lord, and as he started preparing his remarks near the beginning of January that year, he decided to discuss the importance of holding fast to the rod of iron as related in Lehi’s vision in the Book of Mormon. However, he was  surprised when he found out that this same topic had also been chosen by two other speakers (both Apostles) just a few weeks before his devotional.

On January 16, 2007, Elder Boyd K. Packer delivered a message, entitled “Lehi’s Dream and You,” centered around Lehi’s dream and the rod of iron. Just three weeks later, on February 4, 2007, Elder David A. Bednar also highlighted the rod of iron and Lehi’s dream in his talk, “A Reservoir of Living Water.” Elder Andersen discussed with Elder Bednar if he should change his message, but Elder Bednar thought a moment and said, “The Lord loves the young adults of the Church. There is purpose in this. This is a message the Lord wants delivered.” As he explained in the opening of his talk, entitled “Hold Fast to the Words of the Prophets,” Elder Andersen proceeded to also discuss Lehi’s dream and the rod of iron as he had planned, and he observed, “My brothers and sisters, this is a subject the Lord wants you to think about.”

Lehi’s Vision

Indeed, Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life sits prominently in the opening pages of the Book of Mormon (page 15 out of 531 pages). Not only does Lehi describe his dream in chapter 8 of 1 Nephi, but Nephi is also privileged to see the vision in chapter 11, and then Nephi explains the meaning to his less spiritually mature older brothers in chapter 15. Clearly, as the prophet Mormon and his son, Moroni, saw our latter days and compiled the plates of brass, this vision must have such significant meaning and impact for our day that it was purposely included in the beginning of the book.

For those not familiar with this remarkable vision of the prophet Lehi, he shared this dream with his family and applied it to their lives. The dream consisted of the following symbolic elements:

1 Nephi 8:4, 8 — At the beginning of the dream, he found himself in a dark and dreary wilderness, and after travelling many hours in darkness, he began to pray to the Lord for mercy and deliverance. Inerestingly, the vision did not start until after he said a prayer.

1 Nephi 8:10 — Lehi beheld a tree, whose white fruit was “desirable to make one happy” and “it was most sweet” and filled his soul “with exceedingly great joy.”

1 Nephi 8:13 — a river of filthy water ran along near the tree.

1 Nephi 8:19 — a rod of iron extended along the bank of the river and led to the tree.

1 Nephi 8:20 — a strait and narrow path ran along beside the rod of iron.

1 Nephi 8:23 — a mist of darkness arose from the river and obscured the path, tree, and all those commencing along path.

Lehi’s Dream, by Jerry Thompson. Courtesy of the LDS Church, © 2015 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

1 Nephi 8:26-27 — Across the river Lehi beheld a “great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.” This building was filled with many people, old and young, male and female, clothed in fine apparel, who were “in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.”

Three Groups on the Path

Although many people were pressing forward, some towards the great and spacious building, some into the river, and some into “strange roads,” there are three groups in particular pressing forward along the strait and narrow path towards the tree of life and its fruit who are highlighted and contrasted.

(1 Nephi 8: 21-23) Group #1 started on the path, but when the mists of darkness arose, they lost their way, wandered off, and were lost. There is no mention of the iron rod in these verses, and although this group started on the path with some element of faith in Christ, they became distracted by temptation of the devil and were lost.

(1 Nephi 8:24-28) Group #2 commenced on the path and pressed forward through the mists of darkness by clinging to the rod of iron until they eventually reached the tree and partook of the fruit. Unfortunately, even after obtaining the fruit, this group also became lost as they were confronted with adversity and persecution from those in the great and spacious building.

(1 Nephi 8:30) Group #3 also reached the tree by pressing forward along the path while continuously holding to the rod of iron. Not only did this group hold fast to the iron rod, but once they reached the tree, they fell down and partook of the fruit.

The key difference between all three groups is their interaction with the rod of iron. The first group did not hold to the rod at all, and once the mists arose, they became lost and none reached the tree. The second group was described as “clinging” to the iron rod, wherein the last group was described as “continually holding fast” to the iron rod.

The dictionary defines clinging as “tenaciously holding tightly” or “adhere as if glued firmly,” which seems to suggest holding on for dear life. Likewise, the last group was “holding fast,” but the word “fast” is not necessarily used to describe the speed with which the rod was grasped, but an alternate meaning is defined as “firmly fixed in place” or “not easily moved.” This meaning of the word “fast” is often used when describing a gate, or door, or button as being “securely fastened.” So it would seem that both groups were holding tightly to the rod, so what is the difference between clinging versus holding fast to the rod of iron?

Clinging is Not Enough

During his address at BYU, Elder David A. Bednar explained the difference as follows:

“Clinging to the rod of iron suggests to me only occasional ‘bursts’ of study or irregular dipping rather than consistent, ongoing immersion in the word of God…. [the] third group of people consistently read and studied and searched the words of Crhist. Perhaps it was the constant flow of living water that saved the third group from perishing. This is the group you and I should strive to join.” (“A Reservoir of Living Water,” Elder David A. Bednar, BYU Speeches, Feburary 4, 2007.)

As such, the primary problem lies not necessarily with how tightly the last two groups were grasping the rod of iron — both groups were holding the rod firmly — but the key difference appears to be more with the consistency or amount of time the rod was being grasped. At times, we may let go of the iron rod because we are too busy, or feel we are strong enough to let go occasionally, but as the mists of darkness slowly intensify around us, if we do not continually hold fast, we may find that it is too late. We reach out to cling to the rod only to find we have lost our way.

We must continually hold fast and never let go. Courtesy of the LDS Church, © 2015 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

May we continually hold fast to the words of Christ and take time each day to read and study and pray from His living water. That will be the only way that we and our families may safely navigate the mists of darkness around us, so that we may partake of the fruit of the tree, which is the gospel of Christ, which is desirable above all other fruit and as Lehi testified, will truly “make one happy.”

Promised Blessings

I would encourage all to read these wonderful scriptures and speeches, but just a few promises, warnings, and blessings to pay particular attention to:

The prophet Nephi promised: “Whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.” (1 Nephi 15:24)

Elder Boyd K. Packer warned:

  • “… Lehi’s dream or vision of the iron rod has in it everything a young Latter-Day Saint needs to understand the test of life.”
  • “… At your baptism and confirmation, you took hold of the iron rod. But you are never safe. It is after you have partaken of that fruit that your test will come.”
  • “… You who are young will see many things that will try your courage and test your faith. All of the mocking does not come from outside of the Church. Let me say that again: All of the mocking does not come from outside of the Church. Be careful that you do not fall into the category of mocking.”  (“Lehi’s Dream and You,” Elder Boyd K. Packer, BYU Speeches, January 16, 2007.)

Elder David A. Bednar observed:

  • “… Thirst is a demand by the cells of the body for water, and the water in our bodies must be replenished daily. It frankly does not make sense to occasionally ‘fill up’ with water, with long periods of dehydration in between. The same thing is true spiritually. Spiritual thirst is a need for living water. A constant flow of living water is far superior to sporadic sipping.” (“A Reservoir of Living Water,” Elder David A. Bednar, BYU Speeches, Feburary 4, 2007.)

Elder Neil L. Andersen testified:

  • “The iron rod is the word of God. The scriptures, the words of the living prophets, and the gift of the Holy Ghost are powerful in their ability to keep us safe. Let us hold fast to the words of the prophets. Let us hold fast to the iron rod.” (“Hold Fast to the Words of the Prophets,” Neil L. Andersen of the Presidency of the Seventy, BYU Speeches, March 4, 2007.)


The Most Powerful Conference Talk That Was Never Given

Maiden Speeches

Oftentimes, there is much excitement when a newly elected or appointed leader gives their first public address to their constituents, which is often referred to as a “maiden speech.” Traditionally, this maiden speech consists of a general statement of background and beliefs of the new leader, along with a list of their concerns and strategies for the coming years of their service, and the difference they hope to make. Similarly, whenever a new leader is called to serve as President of the Church, there is much excitement and anticipation for the next General Conference to hear the maiden speech of the newly called president. Such was the case for President Ezra Taft Benson in 1986, but unfortunately, he did not have the opportunity to give his very first conference address has had been planned.

A Very Brief History of LDS General Conference

*** The first General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was held on June 9, 1830, about two months after the church was organized. The Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith that “the several elders composing this church of Christ are to meet in conference … from time to time” (D&C 20:61-62). Initially, conferences were held in various locations and times until most of the scattered members were able to settle in Nauvoo, Illinois, and then the General Conferences began to be held on a semiannual basis starting in 1840. However, no General Conferences were held during the western exodus of the Church from February 1846 until the pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847. Further, during the first few years that the Latter-Day Saints settled in the Salt Lake Valley, the fall conference was often held in August or September so that newly called missionaries could depart for their missions before the mountain passes were closed by winter storms. Since that time, the semiannual sessions have been held during the first weekends in April and October every year. Interestingly, the 1919 April Conference was postponed until June, and the 1957 October Conference was cancelled all together, due to flu epidemics.

General Conference, April 2011. Courtesy of the LDS Church, © 2015 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Prior to the sessions of General Conference being broadcast by radio in 1923, and even more so once the meetings were transmitted through television in 1949, there were no time constraints placed upon the speakers, who would speak as long as they felt necessary. Once the sessions were broadcast, program managers and directors insisted on specific timetables and schedules. Additionally, prior to 1977, the conference typically lasted for three days, and often April sessions would include a session on April 6th, even if that date fell midweek. The extra day of sessions was often devoted to church auxiliary programs and welfare needs, but then starting in 1986, meetings dedicated specifically to women’s programs were added on the Saturday prior to the other General Conference meetings. This brings us to April 1986, where a special session of General Conference was convened for training of priesthood leaders on Friday, April 4th.

The Power of the Word

President Ezra Taft Benson, 13th President of the Church.
Courtesy of the LDS Church, © 2015 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

President Spencer W. Kimball passed away after an extended illness on November 5, 1985. Five days later, President Ezra Taft Benson was set apart as the 13th President of the Church. The following April, as part of his first General Conference as President of the Church, he called for a special Friday meeting to train priesthood leaders on April 4th, 1986. Unfortunately, some of the speakers went over their allotted time, and when President Benson stood to address the congregation at the close of the meeting, there was not enough time remaining and he was only able to give a small portion of his very first conference address. So he requested that his entire sermon be included in the conference issue of the Church magazines (see the May 1986 issue of the Ensign). Although President Benson’s maiden speech was directed primarily to the priesthood leaders of the church, the principles he taught apply to all members of the Church, and the substance of this first talk would ring familiar and shape many of the topics and themes of subsequent sermons and remarks.

I would strongly encourage you to read this inspired counsel from President Benson (link: “The Power of the Word”) and incorporate these teachings into your daily lives. I would just close with a portion of one of his promises about the power of God’s word in our lives: “… when individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, … other areas of activity will automatically come. Testimonies will increase. Commitment will be strengthened. Families will be fortified. Personal revelation will flow.” I add my witness that these things are true.

*** see also “General Conference through the years is different but the same,” by Joseph Walker, Deseret News, Faith Section, published April 1st, 2013.


Lessons Learned While Remodeling

Every time I hear the words, “Welcome back,” I invariably think of the 1970’s sitcom, “Welcome Back, Kotter.” I was pretty young, but I still remember the ‘Sweathogs,’ including John Travolta’s star-making role as Vinnie Barbarino, and I believe I had a ‘Horshack” T-shirt at some point during first grade. Still, the theme song is what sticks out most in my mind these days. I am sure anyone under the age of 40 likely has no idea what I am talking about, so here is a link to the Welcome Back, Kotter Intro and Theme Song. At any rate, I thought I could share just a little bit of what occupied my time the last few years instead of writing on my blog.

Hermana Olsen returning from Peru, November 2014

Elder Olsen returning from Nicaragua,  August 2016

First, I spent a fair amount of time blogging, not for myself, but for my two oldest children who were serving LDS missions. Our oldest daughter served in Peru Lima West and our oldest son served in Nicaragua Managua South. Although some missions allow the missionaries time to do some limited proselyting in a blog or on Facebook, this was not an option in Peru or Nicaragua. In fact, very few people even have home computers or internet connection in Peru or Nicaragua. Every Monday, our children would email events and pictures of the previous week, usually from internet cafes, and then I would edit and upload the stories and images onto their blogs. And since they were both speaking Spanish, let’s just say their English skills were a little rusty. Now they are both home and off to college in Provo, so I have a little more time these days to return to my own blog (but with a slightly different focus now as I shared on my Home page).

Second, we remodeled the interior of our entire house over the past 16 months or so. Every room upstairs and downstairs received a fresh coat of paint (including all the ceilings). All the carpet on the main floor was removed and replaced with laminate flooring. We also completely remodeled our kitchen.

Here are the Top 5 lessons I learned along the way:

Chutes and Ladders

1 — No matter how many children try to hold the bottom steady, never climb a ladder while it is sitting atop a scaffold. It costs a lot less to rent a second scaffold than to pay for a trip to the Emergency Room or a funeral.

Shake It Up!

2 —  Jackhammers are great for removing old tile, but horrible for breathing. After 4 hours of jackhammering all of the old tile from our kitchen floor, the house was filled with a thick cloud of dust that was somewhat reminscint of 9-11. Three days later, we were still cleaning up dust.

Barn Doors in the Kitchen

Surfin’ Safari

3 — ‘HGTV’ is a four-letter word. I can relate to the pain that Chip Gaines goes through every week on Fixer Upper, but he seems to keep a much better sense of humor than I do. My wife calls shows such as Flip or Flop and Love It or List It inspirational, wheras I see them more as perspirational. Also, ‘Ikea’ is another four-letter word that still makes me wince a little.


4 — My father used to always say, “Measure twice and cut once.” I found this to be true, but I would also recommend lots of wood putty, silicone caulk, and a dark stain to really conceal all the flaws.

5 — Remodeling your home is really a series of negotiations and compromises. It is amazing what my wife could get me to do simply by giving me permission to go get a new tool for the project.


Bonus lesson: 6 — You never really “finish” remodeling your home when you are doing it yourself. I can understand how George Lucas felt with the original Star Wars movies — he just couldn’t leave them alone, but had to keep tinkering on them over the years. Same with your home — you just kind of move from one project to the next until you start over again. That’s OK, because I can always use a few more new tools.


Thanksgiving Point Half Marathon 2013

Our family ran in the Thanksgiving Point Races again this year. Our daughter was hoping to run one more half-marathon before she left on her LDS mission to Lima Peru. We thought we would be able to train together, and we did a little bit, however, her departure date was moved up two weeks from May 23rd to May 8th, so we didn’t have as much time to train as we had hoped. Still, it was a great time and the Tulip Festival was in full swing.

Lots of beautiful flowers (and people)

Lots of beautiful flowers (and people)

The first half of the course was beautiful, and there is just something mesmerizing about running through the flowers with the dazzling colors, the peaceful tranquility, and the wonderful fragrances. The second half of the course is also pretty stunning, but lots of little hills around the edges of the golf course make it quite challenging.

At the Finish Line

At the Finish Line

Another twist to the race this year is that they allowed golfers out on the course while we were running the race, which made things a lot more exciting as you ducked and weaved your way around errant golf balls. It also paid to have one of your earbuds out so you could listen for anyone to shout “Fore!”At one point near the 17th green, I had a ball bounce across the cart path in front of me, and for the next quarter-mile, I was sprinting. No matter what happened, though, I was determined to beat my time from last year, and I did, finishing in 1:55. Not my best time ever, but not bad. (OK, I made up the parts about the golfers — they weren’t really golfing while we ran, but I think it sure would liven the race up a little bit).

Christ and the Woman at the Well

Christ and the Woman at the Well

After the race, we went back into the gardens and took our time as we wandered and meandered through the pretty flowers. One of my favorite parts of the gardens is the Light of the World exhibit, which is still under construction. When it is finished, it will consist of several life-size statues of scenes from the life of Christ scattered through one section of the garden.

Christ walking on the water

Christ walking on the water

For now, there are several smaller models and a few big ones to whet your appetite. When it is complete, it should look incredible. If you get a chance to visit the gardens at Thanksgiving Point, I would highly recommend seeking out these amazing works of art.







family, Races

Keeping Things in Perpsective

In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Launcelot observes: “It is a wise father that knows his own child.”

I admit it has been a while since my last blog, so I thought I had better take a moment to update what I have been up to. As far as writing goes, I am trying to have my second book ready to publish by this fall. The working title is Lamps and Lenses. I will add updates to the website as I get farther along. Unfortunately, my limited writing time has been devoted to the new novel, and as a result, I haven’t been able to regularly add postings to the website, but I felt I needed to share some of my experiences from the last few weeks.

Science Fair 2012

Science Fair 2012

Since my last blog post in November, I have stayed busy coaching my 12-year-old son’s Jr. Jazz basketball team. I was also asked to step in and coach my 16-year-old son’s Jr. Jazz basketball team for the second half of the season. (Might I just add that although there were 13 boys on my older son’s team, sadly, there were only three other parents who attended every game.) I also had the privilege of helping my 11-year-old daughter perform an experiment for the school science fair, and  I have enjoyed going on a few training runs with my oldest daughter when she is home from college as we are preparing to run a half-marathon together in April.

Yesterday, one of those moments occurred that make you so grateful to be a parent and glad that I made an effort to be there to support my children. The boys were playing in a church basketball tournament. It was single-elimination, but our boys’ team won their 1:00 and 3:40 games, so they ended up in the championship game at 5:00. Although the opposing team was impressive, with three high school boys who were tall and talented, our team led most of the game, but began to falter down the stretch. With only 15 seconds left in the game, we found ourselves down by 7 points. My older son took the inbounds pass and raced down the floor, pulling up at the top of the key and swishing a three-pointer. As he was running back on defense, the other team attempted to throw the ball down court, and he intercepted the pass. He promptly dribbled across half-court, and in Jimmer fashion, launched another three-pointer from just beyond NBA range. It banked in, so now their team was down by only 1 point with 2 seconds left. Despite a valiant effort, they were unable to score again and ended up losing by the one point. However, my older son finished the championship game with 26 points, and a near comeback at the end of the game. That kind of experience makes you grateful for the hours you spend teaching and working with your children in the driveway and gym, and even though they lost, it was a wonderful and rewarding way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The same could be said when your children play in an orchestra concert, or act in the school play, or even display their art in a gallery.

The French philosopher Montaigne wrote that as our children grow and mature, so should our capacity to show our love for them. “It is very often the reverse,” he wrote, “and most commonly we feel more excited over the … infantile tricks of our children than we do later over their grown-up actions.” (A Moment’s Pause from the Spoken Word, by J. Spencer Kinard, Deseret Book, 1989)

Lastly, Larry H. Miller, self-made billionaire, philanthropist, and owner of the Utah Jazz, wrote in his autobiography: “If there is one thing I’d do differently – only one – it’s this: I would have been there for the Little League games and the scraped knees and the back-to-school nights.”


Last year, my wife approached me and told me that although she enjoys my writing and appreciates my diligence in providing for our family, she asked me to please keep things in perspective. I am not a perfect parent, and even though a parent’s influence may wane as children become teenagers, I am trying to be there for all the important events in my children’s lives. As a result, writing is currently only about fifth or sixth on my list of priorities, so please be patient with the next book. Perhaps six years from now when the children are all off to college and we find ourselves with an empty nest, my allotted writing time may increase, but for now, the Jr. Jazz games and science fair projects come first.

family, Writing

Book Review: Toby Gold and the Secret Fortune

“Money is the most dangerous magic.”

Toby Gold is a seventh grader in Wallingford, Connecticut who has always known that he is good with money – but has no idea how good until he discovers a dangerous hidden society of money and intrigue that co-exists with the everyday world we all know.

Toby stumbles upon this dark financial world one day when he discovers secret messages encrypted into the stock ticker “crawl” that moves along the bottom of the screen on the financial news channel.

Toby’s shock only grows worse when he realizes that the secret messages are directed to him! His unique abilities with math and money have been noticed by the wrong people, and Toby is quickly sucked into a high-stakes life or death financial conspiracy that he is only able to resolve by using his amazing talent with money.

 What I thought: I like stories that teach. Toby Gold is one of those stories, with a good introduction to basic finance. Even I learned a few things about stocks as I read along. To top it off, Craig Everett presents the information in an entertaining and suspenseful manner. My 12-year-old son loves to read and I could easily see him adding this book to his collection. However, with shades of Harry Potter or Encyclopedia Brown, I think this book would appeal to readers of all ages. It is a fun read for anyone interested in finances and intrigue. I look forward to the sequel.

Buy the book today at Toby Gold and the Secret Fortune.


Zombie Chase Wrap-Up

Preparing to enter the Zombie Zone.

So, I wasn’t planning on running the Zombie Chase 5K in Provo, Utah last weekend, but my two older kids signed up and talked me into joining them. I was hesitant for several reasons: the race was only a 5K (I came home and ran again), the race was down in Provo so it was an hour drive each way, and I’m just not that into zombies. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are a lot of nice zombies out there, I just don’t know why anyone would want to pay money to be chased by them. But in the end, I looked forward to spending time with my kids more than anything.

The Starting Line.

Some dads take their kids fishing, or camping, or to sporting events. I take mine to zombie races.

Don’t get infected!

Luckily, the weather turned out beautiful after it had been stormy the three days before the race. The course was dry for the most part, and the air was crisp, but not too cold, and by the end I was wishing I had ditched my sweatshirt.

Running through the “meat” market tent.

The start times were staggered every 10 to 20 minutes from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, which was a good thing because there were lines to get through some of the obstacles on the course. This also made it impossible to time the race, so the concern wasn’t really how fast you completed the race, but just getting through the obstacles and having fun.

Guess who’s waiting at the bottom of the gravel pile?

One of the funniest moments happened about 1-mile into the race. There was a large pile of gravel that we had to run up and over. Zombies were popping up out of the rocks and roaming around the bottom.

Here they come! Run, you fool, run!

Unfortunately, my daughter got a rock stuck in her shoe, and she ran a few feet away before stopping to get the gravel out. She didn’t realize that she was a sitting duck, and like a zombie-magnet, they snuck up behind her and nearly caught her. There were lots of close calls like that throughout the race.

Don’t forget the “Double Tap.”

At one point, racers got to fire paintball guns at zombies in some sort of twisted shooting gallery. There were “sewer pipes” that we climbed through, and we ran through empty gravesites with barbed wire above and zombies roaming around. At another point, we had to cross a cargo net with zombies below grabbing at us. The last part saw us climb some bales of hay in sort of a mini-barn, and this was the biggest back-up during the race.

This gravesite is taken.

In the end, it was pretty fun, and the kids had a blast. We were lucky to survive unscathed and live to tell about it.

Survival Rule #1: “Cardio”

Fortunately, there was a “decontamination” tent at the end of the race, and in order to avoid any long-term psychological trauma or PTSD, we stopped at the In ‘N’ Out Burger on the way home for a thorough, post-race debriefing.




family, Races

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

I feel old tonight. Seems every day I am reminded that my children are growing up way too fast. The three older children no longer trick-or-treat. One is working, one is on a double date, and the other one is hanging out with friends. That only leaves our youngest daughter, who is enjoying her last year of trick-or-treating.

Trick or Treat!

In the past, I would always accompany the children as they made their way through the neighborhood, and this year started out the same. However, about 20 minutes into the door-to-door festivities, our daughter hooked up with a group of other friends, and they no longer needed my supervision. I actually wasn’t minding it because of the awesome weather and warm temperatures (it was 65 degrees when we left at 6:10 tonight).  As a result, I returned home to help pass out candy (and watch the Utah Jazz game, darn it).

I haven’t been able to blog much lately because I have been so busy with my two jobs, but I believe things are returning to normal now. With my day job at Ogden Regional Medical Center, I am not only the Director of Rehab, but I am also the Service Line Coordinator for the Total Joint Center. Over the last two months, I have been spearheading the effort for our program to get certified by the Joint Commission. This past week, I submitted final paperwork, and then we received word last Tuesday that it had been accepted and we were approved. The Joint Commission certification for Total Hips and Total Knees is awarded to programs that demonstrate a high commitment to quality, safety, and innovation. It took a lot of work, and a lot of collaboration with other departments in the hospital (it is certainly a team effort), but in the end, it makes for a much better program and experience for our patients. We are only the second hospital in the state of Utah (after Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George) to achieve this distinction. We may not be as big as other programs yet, but as our slogan says, we aren’t necessarily bigger, just better. Now we have proof. At any rate, I am hoping to have a little more time to return to my writing again.

Called To Serve Again

The last thing I wanted to mention is that today is the one-year anniversary of the release of my book, Called To Serve Again. It has been a wonderful year, with response to the book far exceeding my expectations, especially when the marketing has essentially been only through word-of-mouth. The best part has got to be the many readers who tell me about how much they liked the story or how much it touched them. This happened most recently at my grandmother’s funeral, and a couple of weks ago I had another reader who said she was referencing some of the quotes in the book to a family member who had just lost a loved one. Hearing comments like those remind me of why I wrote the book in the first place. Nearly every one of them also asks when the sequel will be finished (probably the end of next year — it’s coming, I promise!).  I would just like to say “thank you” to everyone who read the book and for all your kind words and support.

family, Writing

Jury Duty

“The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed…” (US Constitution, Article III, Section 2, Paragraph 3).

Last week, I was summoned for jury duty. I absolutely loved my Consitutional Law and Administrative Law classes at the University of Utah, so  I was kind of excited and I instantly had flashes of the movie Twelve Angry Men flash through my mind. Despite a hectic schedule and several pressing projects at work, I proudly fulfilled my civic duty and travelled downtown to the Salt Lake City Courthouse. Strangely, I have lived in Utah for the last 17 years, but this was the first time I had been selected to possibly serve on a jury for a state trial. I had been summoned a few years ago for jury duty in Federal Court, but I was eliminated for cause because I went to high school with the prosecuting attorney (John Huber). The State Courts draw potential jurors randomly from voting and drivers license records, which is why I was surprised I had never been chosen until now (my wife has never been selected). I also learned that the Salt Lake City Court only handles misdemeanor cases, so most of the proceedings last only one day, and the jury only consists of four people.

Themis, Greek Titaness of Divine Order and Law

Themis, Greek Titaness of Divine Order and Law

I was juror number 18 out of 22, so I knew my chances were small that I would ultimately end up serving (I also later found out that they start at the top of the list and work their way down, which made my chances even slimmer). After filling out the paperwork and getting our whopping salary of $18.50 for our day of service (plus the ever-important parking validation), we had to wait around for more than an hour while the court docket was reviewed and the judge decided which trial was ready to proceed (the first two trials on the docket had motions filed to postpone, and then it took some time to get the involved parties ready for the third trial). Once everyone was in place, we were escorted into the courtroom and introduced to the judge, the lawyers, the defendant, and the witnesses. The judge explained the nature of the case before us, which involved domestic assault, and then we proceeded with voir dire, the process wherein the judge asks questions of the jury pool to determine if there might be any reason(s) that would call into question our ability to be impartial. This took a while because about half the panel raised their hands when asked about any past experience with violence in their families. The judge and lawyers retired to the judge’s chambers and each person that raised their hand was taken one by one into his chambers to hear what their experience consisted of. When all the questioning was finished, the list of jurors was reviewed by the lawyers, and they each took turns with their peremptory strikes. Both sides are allowed to eliminate three jurors from the list without need for any cause or reason. Finally, the judge announced the names of the four selected jurors (numbers 3, 5, 8, and 11) and the rest of us were dismissed.

Was I disappointed? A little bit, but I got over it pretty quickly as I headed home for lunch. I would gladly have taken my turn and tried my best to be fair and attentive for the sake of both sides, but maybe next time.



BYU-Utah Rivalry Week

Usually I’m not one to get caught up in hype, but every year when BYU and the University of Utah play each other in football, there is almost a palpable excitement in the air and it is difficult to ignore the propaganda. Granted, it used to be bigger when BYU and Utah played each other in the last game of the regular season and a conference championship was on the line, but it is still exciting. I have also experienced first-hand the Duke-North Carolina basketball and Miami-Florida football rivalry games, and I believe the BYU-Utah rivalry is every bit as big and electrifying.

I may be criticized for this, but I did graduate from both BYU and the University of Utah, so I feel at liberty to cheer for both teams until they play each other. In a way, I think it makes the big game that much bigger when both teams are undefeated. However, when they play each other, I always have to go with my undergraduate team: BYU. That was also the team I grew up routing for and I remember watching the games with my father who was a big BYU fan. With that in mind, I had to post this video, which was put together by BYUtv just in time for the big game this week: the Top 10 BYU plays from the BYU-Utah games over the years.

I would have to agree with the rankings, and I just have to add that I had the opportunity to be in Rice-Eccles Stadium for the #1 play. It was incredible to be there. We were sitting in one corner section of the stadium, a small sliver of blue surrounded by a vast sea of red. The game was close and went back and forth until the very last play of the game, which unfolded right below where we were seated. When that last pass was caught, the whole stadium deflated and went silent, except for our section. We stayed after the game, took pictures standing in front of the scoreboard, and relished every minute of the win.  At any rate, enjoy the video, happy rivalry week, and go cougars!


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