Sunday, August 29, 2010

Today's Spiritual Message: (More) Forgiveness - a Gordon B. Hinckley Classic

I listened to this talk a few days ago and highly recommend it.

Here're a few lines (a quotation):

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by—
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.

I would not sit in the scorner's seat,
Or hurl the cynic's ban;—
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I hope you enjoy it!



Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Holy Grail Is HERE!!!

Call phones from Gmail!!!

It's here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Welcome to absolute bliss

Here's the phone in action
Call here, call there, call everywhere!  (Even France.)
After SIPGate really let me down (often terrible quality and dropped calls), I am stoked, beyond belief, to have what I've been waiting for for so long:  An excuse to cut off all cell phone minutes (except for emergencies) and make legitimate phone calls online, from my computer.

May your enjoyment be every bit as sweet as mine.

UPDATE:  I just realized that by clicking the phone button for individual contacts, I can choose to call that contact on his computer or any phone number I have listed for him.  AWESOME.


UPDATE II:  As I was just talking to my wife about how jumbo-large (amazing) this new feature is, she told me how it's a sign of the times that we used to be a more is more kind of culture and now it's a less is more style (consolidate services into one app).  Here's the evolution:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Winning Communication Skills by J. Mitchell Perry

I would like to thank my father-in-law for providing me with an amazing resource:  J. Mitchell Perry's Winning Communication Skills (audio recordings).

I feel unable to go into much depth here, so I will briefly share and paraphrase three tips that have helped me tremendously:

1.  Overcome the "tyranny of the shoulds."  When we use the word "should" on ourselves, we feel guilty, when we use it on other people, they get defensive and angry.  Instead, try using "I want to," when talking to or about yourself, and use the same phrase or something like "I suggest," "I encourage," or "I invite you" to . . . when talking with someone else.  I feel confident that eliminating the shoulds from your vocabulary will decrease guilt and help you overcome conflict.

2.  Replace the "yeah-buts" with "and," or "on the other hand."  Often, when we have a heated conversation with someone, we pretend to be listening and we say, "Yeah, yeah, BUT" . . .  And then we proceed to spill out the retort we've been rehearsing while the other person was blabbering.  Additionally, we often compliment people by saying, "I think you did this great, BUT" . . .  And then we proceed to tell the person everything he's done wrong.  In short, replace but with "and," and replace "yeah, but" with "on the other hand."  Both demonstrate understanding and help reduce conflict because they demonstrate our acceptance of one option, while calmly presenting another.

3.  Avoid speaking in the language of exclusion.  The language of exclusion says what things are not, instead of what they are.  "How are you feeling today?"  "Oh, I'm not bad; I'm not too shabby, I can't complain, I'm not dying," etc., etc.  Or, "I don't know; I'm not sure, I have no idea, I've never done that before."  These are all negative expressions that avoid saying what something is.  Instead, say what it is, and put it in your own feelings.  For example, "I'm doing great, I feel wonderful, I'm having a great day, etc."  Sound better?  Or how about, "I feel unsure/uncertain; this is the first time I think I've heard that; this may be the first time you've heard this; you may find this interesting (vs. this probably isn't very interesting)."  And on and on.  Speaking in the language of inclusion helps to describe what things are, while effectively communicating what we actually feel, which, surprisingly enough, reduces resistance because when we say what we feel and give our experience, it makes things more legitimate and real.  A quick final example:  "I don't like what you're doing" vs. "I feel uncomfortable with your behavior."  Which feels more legitimate and real?

I strongly encourage you to look into this 4-set of audio recordings for a multitude of other enormously helpful suggestions, which I feel incapable of succinctly describing here, such as effective listening (which is HUGE, just ask my wife).

Monday, August 16, 2010

LOTS of Pictures Ahead (Below)

If every picture is worth a thousand words, there's a lot of reading below.


Latest Louisville Temple Visit

These pictures are deceptive:  Maria had as much energy as a tornado (before she was spent).  Felt great to get back.

HAPPY 300th POST!!!

In celebrating my 300th post, please enjoy these shots from my last day at my summer internship.

Children's Museum

Totally Random Hair Picture

Wow.  Saw this at the grocery store.  Love the absurdity.

Deep Sea Diving

Yes, our daughter believes she's a deep sea diver.

Even deep sea divers get worn out . . .

Kirtland Revisted

Every good trip starts with some good grub.

Here are some fun tidbits and special testimonies we brought home this time:

Click here for more pictures from the area.

We're Going to the Zoo!!

I felt compelled to give this awesome shot precedence, as it depicts a technique frequently used in my own personal arsenal.

This guy's (the primate) got nothing on me (Cougar Abogado).

Fun with Grandma and Grandpa!

Green Papaya!

Our daughter looks a lot more under control here than actually went down . . .

It's Potty Time!

A throne with 4 royal tunes of her very own.

More to come soon . . .

High Quality Photos from the NOM Rally

These are the pictures from this post.

Fun at a Mariemont Park

Update:  Readers, your comments do fall on listening ears!  I had originally titled this a "Madeira" park.  It is, in fact, located in Mariemont.  See the comments for more.

Our Daughter is an Arteest

Mostly Miscellaneous

I especially hope you like the arm hanging out of the crib . . .

Birthday Time!!

Good times for the Wife's birthday.


Back at the beginning of July, some family friends invited my wife and me for a good time at the opera.

These are mainly from the Cincinnati Music Hall.  Pretty chic, no?

Carting at the Store

I think I forgot to post about this one a while back.

I hope you recognize the star in the pictures.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Today's Spiritual Message: How I Know I Have the Spirit

In the Church, there are men who have a very special office and ordination, called "patriarch."  Click here to learn about the role of a patriarch and the kinds of blessings they give.

Our area patriarch gave what I found to be a wonderful talk (message) in church last Sunday.  I especially loved the part when he described what it's like when we do or do not have the spirit (see Galatians 5: 22-23).

He quoted from the following.  I hope you find it as illuminating as I did!

D&C 121: 45-46

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Committing Hara-Kiri to Get the High Score (Theme)

The other day, I saw this Downloadsquad post about web apps shaping up in Chrome.  Here's a screenshot I fancied:

Are those Mario pixels in the background!?
Ironically, since I was already familiar with web apps (e.g., the first three tabs and their corresponding, big icons on the right), what really caught my attention was the Gmail theme in the background.  Look familiar?  I felt convinced it must be a top-secret, Super Mario Bros. theme!

Thanks to an informant at the posting site, I found out it's actually a built-in theme called "High Score."

I was ecstatic to give it a spin.

I anticipated little Marios scurrying across the bottom, with an angry Bowser perched atop the Gmail logo.

Alas, I guess Google and Nintendo have yet to form an official relationship (no cool characters).

So, while I miss my many different ninja scenes, which change with the various Gmail locations (inbox, all mail, drafts, etc.), I'm excited to get back to my roots for a while.

What do you think:  "Ninjas"??

Note the high-skilled ninjas

Or "High Score"?

Note the Super Mario Bros. look
Please sound off in the comments!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Tongue of Angels

Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do (2 Nephi 32: 3).

Our daughter truly exemplifies this verse.  She is our little angel who seems to brighten everyone's day, no matter where we go.

Recently, we finally realized she had tongue-tie.

Thankfully, after a quick and relatively simple frenulectomy (surgery to remove tongue-tie), she's speaking in five page essays now.  Okay, she will be one day . . .

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Love & Law: My Own Experience

About ten or twelve years ago, one of my brothers discovered I was engaging in self-destructive behavior.  I feel our relationship was probably as close as two young men separated by four and a half years could enjoy.  I suppose he could have looked the other way; I imagine he anticipated I would get upset and take offense, if he were to confront me.  Perhaps he could have avoided saying anything at all.  Instead, he stood up and invited me to do what I think must have taken great courage:  he invited me to change course, although he could have been risking my anger or even losing my friendship.  I believe his valiant stand, from over a decade ago, exemplifies the counsel given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, last October (2009):
Parents should also remember the Lord’s frequent teaching that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” (Hebrews 12:6). In his conference talk on tolerance and love, Elder Russell M. Nelson taught that “real love for the sinner may compel courageous confrontation—not acquiescence! Real love does not support self-destructing behavior.”  (Russell M. Nelson, “Teach Us Tolerance and Love,” Ensign, May 1994, 71)
Wherever the line is drawn between the power of love and the force of law, the breaking of commandments is certain to impact loving family relationships. Jesus taught:
“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
“For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
“The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother” (Luke 12:51–53).
This sobering teaching reminds us that when family members are not united in striving to keep the commandments of God, there will be divisions. We do all that we can to avoid impairing loving relationships, but sometimes it happens after all we can do.
In the midst of such stress, we must endure the reality that the straying of our loved ones will detract from our happiness, but it should not detract from our love for one another or our patient efforts to be united in understanding God’s love and God’s laws.
I am still deeply impressed and am ever grateful for my brother's courageous and loving example.  I wish I had accepted his invitation.  Instead, exercising my God-given ability to choose for myself, I failed to heed his admonition.  I believe my unwise decision, in the face of his loving counsel, caused me prolonged and immense suffering.  Though I believe I've completely repented, and although I believe I've been completely forgiven, deep scars linger on my soul.  I firmly believe that had I followed my brother's sincere invitation, I could have avoided untold pain, anguish, and regret.  It is largely for this reason, my brother's courageous example, that I say what I do today.

Most of my following remarks will have root in spiritual and religious foundations.  I imagine some of my readers may deride these sources as false or simply lacking any basis in reality.  I invite the reader to reflect on the progress of mankind's knowledge:  many used to think the world was flat or that placing a bucket-full of leeches on a person's body could cure any illness.  Certainly, we could laugh at these conclusions as being juvenile or clearly misguided, yet, who would say that the plumb pudding model completely describes atomic behavior, or who would proclaim that the theory of relativity even comes close to describing our universe?  While the man whose name is synonymous with genius dismisses belief in a personal God, he also says, "My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality" (Albert Einstein Quotes on a Personal God: Einstein Denied Personal Gods, Prayer).  In other words, man knows very little.  On the other hand, God, our Heavenly Father, "has all wisdom," and, just like Einstein says, "man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend" (Mosiah 4: 9).  In short, I believe anything and everything that is true because "God has revealed all the truth that is now in the possession of the world, whether it be scientific or religious"  (The Gospel Defined).  Moreover, I feel religious thought has every right to be expressed in the public sphere.  As John Adams, second president of the United States is widely quoted as saying, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other" (John Adams Quotes).

I now turn to the principal impetus for this post.  On July 24, 2010, my family and I attended a National Organization for Marriage (NOM) rally in Lima, Ohio.  While there, my family and I were interviewed by both NOM Chairman Maggie Gallagher, and Courage Campaign Field Manager Arisha Michelle Hatch. As I'm paraphrased, in part, on a NOM website page, I communicated to both sides that we attended the rally because we believe "divorce, unchastity, [and] same-sex marriage are part of a continuum of challenges" facing traditional marriage and society at large.  I believe a rampant trend toward unbridled sexual promiscuity consisting of "free love," "sexting," "one night stands," adultery, fornication, bestiality, homosexual activity, pornography, prostitution, and a large number of formerly denounced behaviors, are brining about "the disintegration of the family," which I believe is "the fundamental unit of society" (The Family:  A Proclamation to the World).

In response to my posting, on this blog, about our "Supporting Traditional Marriage in Lima, OH," I was privately accused of being hateful, a "sick and twisted human being," and of attending a "hate fair."  Next, I was also privately told I'm "proud of supporting the torture and murder" of self-proclaimed homosexuals.  All of this hurt me deeply, and yet it went on.  I next read, publicly, this time, that what I assume could only refer to my attending the NOM rally and posting about it on my blog, equated to "taking [my] fundamentalist, extreme views a little too far," "while failing to come clean about the homosexuality in [my] own family."  I further read how, I had "lied and . . . bait[ed] [certain individuals] and br[ought] [them] in to hurt [them]," finally with the conclusion that "the whole communications [I had had with them] was nothing more than luring [them] in for debates and arguments born in anger and hatred with a twist of getting off on the adrenaline."  All, I suppose, because I attended the NOM rally and posted about it on my own blog.

To be perfectly candid, as I read these things, I felt very angry and desired to respond swiftly.  Before acting, I remembered the Savior say, "he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another" and that "this is not my doctrine . . . but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away" (3 Nephi 11: 29-30).  And so I have tried to prepare this post, in, I feel, a spirit of peace and compassion.

As I feel there has been some question about my forthrightness, allow me to elaborate on my feelings about homosexual behavior (or any behavior, for that matter).  This is a position I feel I briefly explained to one of the individuals alluded to above, nearly two years ago.  As a human being, I feel I am faced every day with diverse temptations (impulses) and difficulties, such as anger, impatience, etc.  I often feel overwhelmed and wish life were much easier. On the other hand, I believe, "There hath no temptation taken [us] but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer [us] to be tempted above that [we] are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that [we] may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10: 13).  I can only imagine what it would be like to experience homosexual tendencies; I imagine the must be very confusing and very difficult to encounter.  On the other hand, Jesus Christ, who suffered and overcame the sins of us all, "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4: 15).  I believe some feelings and tendencies afflict us without any fault of our own, we may even be born with them.  On the other hand, when we give in to these diverse temptations, through the manifestation of our own behavior, I believe we sin.  "Wherefore, [we] are free according to the flesh; . . . . And [we] are free to choose . . ." (2 Nephi 2: 27).  I feel we are responsible for our own actions, regardless if we have an addiction to pedophilia, pornography, prostitution, alcohol, drugs, adultery, anger, gossip, backbiting, impatience, violence, murder, or homosexual behavior (see Same-Gender Attraction).

MOST IMPORTANTLY, ABOVE ALL ELSE, AND AS I ALLUDED TO IN THE BEGINNING, I BELIEVE "ALL HAVE SINNED, AND COME SHORT[, VERY SHORT,] OF THE GLORY OF GOD" (Romans 3: 23).  For this reason, I believe "[Jesus Christ came] unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin" (3 Nephi 9: 21).  Indeed, I believe He is the source of all happiness, of all peace, and of all comfort.  I believe He "ransoms us with love divine."  (I invite you to listen to what I feel is a beautifully stirring rendition of "This is the Christ," which summarizes the foregoing principle.)

In conclusion, allow me to make one thing very clear:  I AM FAR FROM ASHAMED OF MY DEAR BROTHER, AND I REFUSE TO REJECT HIM.  Instead of "failing to come clean about the homosexuality in [my] own family," I spoke openly with Maggie Gallagher and the Courage Campaign about him, and, at one point, I even spoke directly, and literally, to him ("on the record," on camera).  I feel I would indeed be a "sick and twisted human being," if I were to condemn him, when I have so many faults and frailties of my own. I echo the words of President Boyd K. Packer, "[I] do not reject you… [I] cannot reject you… [I] will not reject you, because [I] love you" (Elder Bruce C. Hafen Speaks on Same-Sex Attraction).  I echo also the words of President Thomas S. Monson, speaking to any who have strayed from full activity in the Church.  "Come back. [I] reach out to you in the pure love of Christ and express [my] desire to assist you and to welcome you into full [Gospel] fellowship" (Looking Back and Moving Forward).  My dear brother, I truly do love you.  Will you please avoid making the same decision I made over a decade ago?  Will you please accept my invitation of love and change, when I failed to accept yours?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Okay, so we didn't see the cat in the hat, tonight, we saw Seussical.  Christy teaches three sisters voice lessons, and they each had a part in it.

Maria loved it so much, she clapped in at the wrong moments!

It was nice to get back into some culture.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yesterday's Spiritual Message: Forgiveness: My Burden Was Made Light

This is an awesome story about a man who forgave a teenage drunk driver for killing his pregnant wife and two of his four children.

For more thoughts on forgiveness, I highly recommend the following:

"The Healing Power of Forgiveness,"  President James E. Faust
"Forgiveness," President Gordon B. Hinckley
"Hidden Wedges," President Thomas S. Monson