Monday, November 24, 2008

Unleashing the Dormant Spirit

I'm not big on motivational speakers, books, posters, or the like. I don't have any framed art in my office featuring sweeping scenes of misty mountain tops and titles such as "Vision" or "Fortitude." I haven't read "The Purpose Driven Life" (although I'm pretty sure I've read "Seven Habits" -- at least the first seven). I had difficulty in my college days sitting through sales meetings in which managers offered impassioned pleas about the apparently trascendent importance of selling more security systems, more cell phones, more extended warranties.

I don't mean to suggest there is anything wrong with these things. But for whatever reason (pride, probably) I've tended to be somewhat dismissive of their ability to really change my life.

So, why the disclaimer? Because a few months ago I came across a YouTube clip from a talk presented by LDS General Authority Elder F. Enzio Busche to students at BYU in 1996 -- and notwithstanding its blatant motivational-tool format, I was deeply moved. The talk itself, entitled "Unleashing the Dormant Spirit," is even better. One gem, from the many:

"In my understanding, maybe the most important principle that came to light in the message of the Restoration is the revelation that man is not a slave, not a victim of circumstances--that he is an agent for himself. When we have learned to understand this principle, we also may become aware of the somewhat frightening understanding of the consequences of this responsibility in our lives. We are no longer able to hide in ignorance or to blame circumstances or other factors that may have influenced us. Through Christ's spirit we are liberated. Understanding this principle is a very important element for our own conversion. Seeing ourselves in our full responsibility means also seeing ourselves in our weaknesses, in our lost opportunities, and in our failures--which makes us humble and meek. We see the necessity to enter into a covenant with the author of life, to activate the atoning blood of Christ to wash us clean, and to embrace, gratefully, the gracious gift of the Holy Ghost for our essential empowerment. Many times in our life it happens that these gifts of the Spirit rest dormant in us."

Plus, what a great title. Take a minute (or six) to watch.

(Note: You will have to pause the streaming blog music at the bottom of the page -- unless of course you want Elder Busche's words to be mixed with the selection of the day.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bilirubin Blues

So, Jacob has thus far presented as a generally healthy baby -- albeit a bit yellow.

Due to bilirubin levels [considerably] higher than our pediatrician wanted to see, Baby Jake spent the better part of 5 days after he came home from the hospital wrapped in a "bili-blanket"and endured having his poor heels pricked for blood tests so many times that even the people in the lab were starting to feel bad for the little guy. Although the blanket was a bit of an inconvenience, we are grateful we were able to treat him at home (the doctor was very close to admitting him) and are even more grateful that his count appears to have dropped into safe territory. The experience also afforded us the opportunity, for several days, to sleep with a big blue glow-worm curled-up in our arms. How many people can say that?

And just so you know that he is looking and doing great...

Foggy Fall Dawn (From the Backyard)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Halloween Haiku 2008

Halloween again.

Customes, candy, kid-parades.

Photographs below.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The End of Soccer ... for Now

When I was in Brazil, I tried to convince people that a huge percentage of American kids grow up playing soccer. Most of my Brazilian friends met the claim with laughter. (American soccer, at the time, was considered something of a joke -- kind of like non-American basketball.) But it was true then, and it appears to be true now. When I was a kid, soccer was an integral part of Fall (perhaps the difference is that for Brazilians soccer is an integral part of every day of every week of every season). For my kids, it has been the same. But the season has now come to a close, and I can confidently say that they didn't lose a single game. Some parting pictures below.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Philadelphian Redemption

I have previously written in this space that "[t]here's a lot of pain to being a Philadelphia sports fan. I wish it upon none of my children." Two weeks ago, even as the Phillies completed their manhandling of Manny Ramirez and the rest of the Dodgers en route to Philly's first World Series berth since I was a senior in High School, I still endorsed that sentiment. Shoot, I felt the same way a week ago, when the Phillies were just a few innings from their first World Series Championship since 1980. Why such pessimism? Because Philadelphia sports fans know disappointment. We know it well. It's the air we breathe.

But all of that changed last Wednesday night, at the conclusion of the final three innings of a game that began two days before, until rain, wind, and near-freezing temperatures forced a 46-hour suspension -- a World Series first. The Phillies were up 3-1. They had their best starter on the mound. They were in a position to clinch the title at home. And what? Mother Nature strikes. I mean, how can one city compete against that kind of karma! Phillies fans felt doomed.

Then, something miraculous happened. On Wednesday night, the fans came back -- and so did the team. We started with a double, we scored a run ("Now all we have to do is keep them from scoring and we win!" I said, probably out loud.) Then the Rays scored a run in the top of the Seventh (the second inning of the night). I fell into a mini-depression. But the Phillies kept coming. Another run scored! Now, if we could just hold them... Next thing I knew, Brad Lidge -- the Phillies closer who hadn't blown a save all year -- was on the mound. It was the top of the Ninth already?! One batter up, one batter down. One out. Then, a single and a stolen base. Man in scoring position with only one out. Stink, stink, stink, stink, stink, stink... Then, a line drive to right field that was ... caught for the second out -- no time for the runner on second base to tag to third. One out away, one out away, one out away... (At this point, I was pacing the floor like a mental patient, half-afraid to watch.) Strike one! Two more strikes, two more strikes, two more strikes... Strike two! Could this be really happening??? Swing and a miss! Strike three! Game over! Lidge collapses to his knees and is rushed by the team! The Phillies defeat the Rays 4 games to 1 and win their first World Series in 28 years! Exclamation points abound!!!!!!!

My mother-in-law, who was holding my newborn son, watched the whole thing transpire, including when I ran outside and screamed at the top of my lungs. She can testify that I'm making none of this up. "People that aren't from Philadelphia don't understand," I explained. She figured that must be the case.

Now, my kids will be Philadelphia sports fans ... if they want.