Monday, November 30, 2009

A Crying Shame

Wasn't Thanksgiving great? The first thing I have been telling people who have been asking, "How was your break?" is:

I was in a house with 6 kids under the age of 6.
It was interesting."

Notice, I choose not to say anything negative about the experience, because ultimately, it was not a negative experience. It was, in all reality, just interesting. I got to see some good parenting, some stern parenting, and learn a little bit more about myself as an uncle to 6 crazy kids. More than anything, being so long around nieces and nephews prompts a little Gospel thought and life consideration.

Kids cry. They do. They cry and they shout, and they scream while they do both. I got to observe this the past week. Another interesting observation I was able to make this week came during a saturday trip to the movie theaters with my parents. We saw a stop-time animation movie, in which the eyes of the dolls playing characters would tear (like "cry") up at certain points in the plot where I didn't necessarily find crying necessary or un-restrainable.

The question may be a bit obtuse of me, however I couldn't help but think:

What are the appropriate times/situations/feelings for crying?

If I were teaching a child about how or when to cry, how would I do it? Would simple sadness be worthy of tears? Would joy or loss be reason to cry? When is it appropriate to express oneself through the art of secreting saline solutions out of ducts in one's face?

I think sometimes how sad it is that I hardly cry anymore. I am prone to think that it's because I wasted so many tears on such trivial matters when I was younger. For instance, I had to pee really bad but could not locate a bathroom in time. I did not want to eat peas or any sort of mushy vegetables, but had to choke them down regardless. I fell and bumped my knee and cried out of surprise rather than actual pain. I played a huge role in losing a crucial game for me and my teammates on my high school baseball team.

Then I think of profound experiences in life. Feeling the Spirit in abundance. Leaving Parents and Siblings for a long time. Losing a grandparent. Losing a favorite cousin. I think these moments are the ones worthy of tears.

I think I would have my kids save their trivial tears so they could weep in moments when weeping was really the only thing left to do. I think I will try and teach them that, if teaching that is even really possible to teach.

I love when Elder Bednar quoted from a speech by Marvin J. Ashton:

"In his message Elder Ashton detailed and described a number of less conspicuous spiritual gifts—attributes and abilities that many of us might not have considered being spiritual gifts. For example, Elder Ashton highlighted the gifts of asking; of listening; of hearing and using a still, small voice; of being able to weep; of avoiding contention; of being agreeable; of avoiding vain repetition; of seeking that which is righteous; of looking to God for guidance; of being a disciple; of caring for others; of being able to ponder; of bearing mighty testimony; and of receiving the Holy Ghost."

Which times warrant tears?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dodged a Bullet

I just found myself trying to think up some very clever alternatives to my current blog title. I dodged a close one there. To think I could have a cheezy blog title like, "Blog or die!", or "The Story of my Life", or "This is me." Just ridiculous.

I noticed that no new blog posts have popped up recently in the "New Blog Posts" window that lets me see the going-ons in other people's blogs. So i decided to plant while waiting for the shortage to pass. I had a couple interesting experiences last week that I've been meaning to blog about anyway.

Last week I was thinking pretty seriously about receiving promptings (or lack of) and what my real priorities should be, ie. what is really important. It was more of an application question. I know that living the Gospel is the foundation of life, but what roles should I be fulfilling in life? I was driving to Sandy last Friday to babysit Ava and Spencer with these thoughts in mind. As I pulled off the freeway into Sandy, my eye caught a humble-looking cemetery and I felt the subtle prompting to stop and look around. So I pulled off the street somewhat surprised and walked into the cemetery. I was kind of just walking around, looking around, before I noticed a pattern on the headstones. Each headstone had the deceased person's name, the years in which they lived their life, and another interesting word underneath both distinctions. Either the word "Mother" or "Father". I had a quietly profound spiritual experience there in the empty cemetery looking at a headstone and realizing the importance of individuality, the blessing of the short life we live, and the happiness of the family experience. The only thing left of those people whose lives had ended was a slab of rock with the three distinctions that showed the simple blessings of life.

After having my moment of realization and reflection, I then proceeded to the babysitting appointment. It was interesting to receive so much positive instruction of the nature of family, and then so much potentially negative instruction on the actuality of the situation!

I'm obviously kidding. Although my first night of babysitting was hectic (without mentioning details) I thoroughly enjoyed it. Afterall, it's really the only important thing there is to do.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blue, Twenty-three, On the arm, Two Shots

Last Night was my first experience officiating a Provo City League Basketball game. I wrote in a text message after the game to someone, "Had I been an actual cupcake, the crowd and players would have literally eaten me alive, thankfully due to my not being a cupcake, they only did so figuratively." I arrived at Dixon Middle school at 250 N 700 E at six p.m. for a brief pre-game training review. We covered topics like: positioning, making a call, reporting a foul, and other attention-worthy fundamentals. I watched my co-workers officiate 2 games before I finally got my chance to show the basketball world what was right and what was wrong. I went in confident.

All went awry at the tipoff. I was given the "trail official" spot, which means I follow the play and am responsible for the calls above the key and around the arch. But before the game begins, the official makes the toss. I said, "Let's keep the game clean and have some fun" in my best official's voice--thank goodness my voice did not decide to crack at this point. As I went to toss the ball up, I rediscovered how hard it is to toss a ball directly vertical. The players jumped simultaneously up towards the ball, only to discover I had thrown it 3 feet to the left on accident. Mistake 1. I got a couple chuckles from the players and hisses from the stands.

The game proceeded at a quick pace and I often found my proverbial shorts around my ankles every time I wanted to call a foul. I was too slow. After the first possession of the game, the defensive player turned to me after I missed a questionable foul call and yelled, "Yo ref, get yer' eyes in the game. That'sa foul!" I shook my head with authority as my supervisor yelled from the stands, "That's a foul, you've got to call that!"

My favorite point of the game came near the end of the second half. The ball was pushed up court quickly and the offensive player was dribbling when the defensive player stepped in front of him and acted like the offensive player ran into him (a charge for all those who know what that means), but I called a blocking foul on the defensive player. The foul happened right in front of the defensive team's stands. They went into an uproar and I got my first real taste of collective hatred. I reported the foul to the scorekeeper and my supervisor came up to me at a break and said, "That was an awesome call, I thought you would get it wrong and call charging, for sure. Good work."

It's the little things that count.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Deeply Mistaken.

Do you ever have those moments where you spend a solid 10-15 seconds staring in the fridge looking for the sour cream but conclude that the sour cream supply has been exhausted by a sibling? Then as you start your search for yogurt, your eyes focus and you see the sour cream container that had been sitting on the shelf at eye level the entire time? I had a spiritual "sour cream" moment this past weekend.
I was so proud of my last post--thinking that I was encroaching upon a deeper way of living. The truth is, life is kind of boring right now. I've got no struggles, no huge looming questions, no real abnormal experiences. I think sometimes when life is running smoothly, we feel the need to over-analyze and spend too much time "looking past the mark." I was so busy looking past the mark, that I couldn't see the 'sour cream'. The overwhelming message I gleaned from church meetings and extra-church meetings this weekend, was the beauty of a simple life spent in service. "The love of God transforms menial tasks into extraordinary acts of service." Someone said that during general conference.

There is no sense in breathing deeper, if that breath won't help you help someone else. In my new calling, I get to sit back in meetings and listen to what other people are doing/have done to: observe others, take note of their needs, and then make plans to fulfill those needs. There are great examples of people living lives deep in the service and care of others. I keep forgetting that important purpose in life.

Another eye opener this weekend was a new little addition to the Williams family--Charlotte. I think the purpose of life is expressed in birth. We go through pain to give life to another person. The Savior went through pain to give all men the chance at eternal life. We go through physical/mental/spiritual pain to give others an easier way in life. We bear children in pain (right Christina?) so that they may begin their life of abundance. The purpose of living is to give life to all we meet.

Mother Theresa, I know the promise of this life.

It's right before my face, I was just looking too hard and couldn't see it..I'm glad that my view finally focused.

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 1 Jn. 2:25