You’re number 288! Please, be personal.

The other day I was in Cutlers, a small sandwich shop here in Utah (they’ve got an amazing turkey and avocado sandwich, by the way, and crazy-good sugar cookies).   

It was early evening and they were about to close.  I walked in and placed an order for a dozen sugar cookies (no, not all for me… although I could have eaten them all).

The gentleman at the counter took my order and my cash, gave me my change, and declared with an I’m-bored-out-of-my-mind voice “You’re number 288”. 

 “No, I’m Rusty” I thought.  But then he handed me a little sheet of paper on which was scrawled the number 288, as if he’d read my mind and wanted to prove me wrong.

I looked around me.  There was one other person in the shop, and she’d already gotten her order.

I laughed out loud, which earned me a quizzical expression from my little helper, and to which I replied “Never mind… thank you.”

Clearly, he didn’t understand the importance of being personal. 

But it made me wonder at my own interactions with people, how often I must take on that same robotic approach.  How often do I forget that the person I’m talking to is a person?  That they’ve got a life, and right now it might not be going so well.

We all have areas in our lives that, due to repetition, cause us to be a bit too calloused in our interactions with people.

How would you feel if you drove up to the McDonalds window and the gal (instead of just reaching out for your money), looked at you in the eye, smiled, and said “Nice to see you, thanks for coming to McDonalds”, or “have a great evening, and enjoy your meal.”

Interacting with people can (and should) be one of the most regularly enriching aspects of our lives.  Sometimes they’ve got a bit of spare energy, or humor, or wisdom that you can glean from.  Sometimes it’s the other way around.  But whatever it is, as you become more aware of the person to whom you’re talking, you’ll find that good things happen.

If we all tried to be just a bit more personal in our dealings with others, we’d find the world would be a better place.


P.S.  Email, as well as other mediums of digital communications tends to exacerbate this problem even more.  If your interactions with others are primarily digital, you’ll need to be extra vigilant, because you lack those visual cues that would otherwise guide your interaction.


Don’t abandon your children

Today Nebraska lawmakers voted (43-5) to change the state safe-haven law.  All 50 states have these safe-haven laws, allowing parents to leave infants at a hospital anonymously without fear of prosecution.  They were passed in an effort to prevent unwanted babies from being abandoned in less safe locations.

But when Nebraska set up their law, they failed to provide an age limit.  The result is that people have been driving even from out of state, just to drop of their children.  They’ve come from Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and even Florida.

Since September, when the law took effect, they’ve already had thirty five children dropped off, all but six of them older than 10.  Today the Senate held an emergency session to change the law.

But is there a problem with the law, or is there a problem with society?

Full disclosure, having myself been abandoned by my father when I was about 2 and by my mother when I was 11, I have strong feelings on the matter that may cloud my vision.

But to me this whole scenario has exposed a terrible flaw in society, and this is just the tip of the iceburg (granted, one of the more atrocious illustrations of this flaw).  To me it speaks to the dramatic deterioration of the family.  

As a society have we come to so disregard the family?  Unwanted and out of wedlock pregnancies abound because of this disregard.  And as a society how do we rate this.  It’s strange to me that anyone can have a child and we have laws allowing them to abandon them at will at a hospital, but I have to have a license to catch a fish.  There’s something innately wrong with that.

Are there scenarios where it may be in everyone’s best interest for a child to live somewhere else?  Perhaps (far be it from me to judge each scenario), but it should be done with extreme trepidation, care, prayerful consideration, inspired guidance, and using appropriate channels (for there are worthy parents out there who are willing and anxious to care for these children).  But what kind of solution is it to simply walk away from the problem.  Especially when that walking away is from your very children, who love you, and look to you for support.

What kind of culture does that create? What kind of message and habit does that perpetuate? 

Families are ordained of God.  It’s central to His plan for the eternal destiny of His children.  Families are the mortar of society, and anything that would weaken those bonds (including the dereliction of duty by parents) threatens not only society but our own exaltation.

The protection and preservation of the family is not only crucial to those who have their own families, but to every individual, for families form the fabric of eternity, and our eternal destinies are interwoven in that fabric, regardless how isolated we may feel or try to become.  The hearts of the children MUST turn to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers MUST turn to their children.  There is immeasurable and ill-understood power in these relationships both on this side of the veil and beyond.

This same eternal and divine power that binds us together as relatives, is the very power that will strengthen you, support you, and give even the most weary parents the emotional and spiritual sustenance they need to overcome even the most daunting of life’s many challenges.

So if you are one who is struggling against such challenges, and considering such a dramatic course of action, let me speak to you clearly.  There is no challenge beyond which the Lord has power to help you overcome.  Do not turn away from your family.  Instead, turn to them, and experience the infinite power that is available to those who endeavor to strengthen those family bonds, instead of breaking them.  Turn inward, not outward, and you’ll find strength and support from the Lord in ways that you may have never imagined.

Families are eternal.  Let them not be so easily broken by such temporary strains, no matter how difficult they may seem at the time.


If you haven’t already, just read “The Family:  A proclamation to the World” and let your soul reflect upon the words of a latter-day prophet.



P.S.  News on the issue can be found here, and here.


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Don’t give up, you are loved

I firmly believe that there’s no amount of feel-good fluff that can compare to the self-propelling power of pure principles in getting us through the hard times.  The internal strength, divine direction, and eternal perspective one gleans from studying and pondering pure doctrine is incomparable and irreplaceable.

Still, “variety is the spice of life”, and often motivation and strength can be found all around us.  In times such as these, when so many face so much, we may do well to absorb motivational messages from many more sources.

Here’s one for those touched by music…

As you face the challenges that are bound to be thrown at you, just remember… don’t give up, you are loved.



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Holding on for dear life

I was in Orlando Florida last week, presenting some new software I’d been working on at a large tradeshow, when something I saw totally captivated me. 

One morning, the group of us was following the masses toward the conference center entrance to get our badges scanned.  It was a gorgeous day, and I was looking around, enjoying the surrounding beauty when I spied the most amazing plants.


These plants lined the front of the conference center.  As I walked, I noticed that these plants would grow along the gound, sprouting above-ground roots that would slither out in all directions attempting to find nourishment from their surroundings.  Apparently, at some point, they’d  find a sufficient source of nutrients, and the plant would be strong enough to start growing upward.

And then I came to this one.


I was captivated.  But it wasn’t the novelty that captivated me as much as it was the apparent symbolism.

This was the only plant of its kind.  It grew straight up.  Rather than sulking along the ground, seeking nourishment, one of its tendrils had found a large, neighboring palm.  It had then wrapped its root around this tree multiple times, giving it direction, strength, and protection that the others lacked.

Before I was befuddled with the frantic nature of the tradeshow, I had a brief moment to reflect upon the message this plant had to offer me.

In life, some people choose to “go it alone”.  Sometimes that choice is forced upon you, and you find yourself scrambling for nourishment (spiritual, emotional, or otherwise).  In either case, it’s a constant struggle for the most meager upward gains, and you end up spending much time and effort moving on a more lateral course, constantly reaching out in every way to find support and strength.

But we have been provided pillars of strength, and we should wrap ourselves around them.  By so doing, they provide us direction, strength and protection that ensure our upward growth. 

For each of us those pillars may differ.  Sometimes it’s a close friend who somehow seems so grounded, or whose testimony is so sound.  Sometimes it’s a religious leader.  Sometimes it’s a family member.  Someitmes it’s something inanimate, like the scriptures.  Often, it’s the Savior.

But whoever or whatever you find, keep them close.  Wrap yourself around them, and let them give you strength.

The physical principle of gravity, that objects of lesser mass are pulled toward objects of greater mass, has a spiritual shadow.  If you surround yourself by those people, places, and things that are of greater spiritual strength than you, you’ll be naturally pulled upward by them.  But be careful, for the opposite is also true.

May each of us find our pillars of strength, and wrap ourselves around them.


(click image below for large view)

P.S.  For a greater explanation of this take on “gravity”, see my post here.  For more about how you are shaped by your spiritual ecosystem, click here.

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What do you care?

“I don’t care”. 

How often do you hear that phrase?

More importantly, how often do you say it and mean it?

Stop and think for a minute… how much DO you care? 

Do you care about life?
Do you care about religion?
Do you care about your job? 
Do you care about your family? 
Do you care about politics? 
Do you care about sports? 
Do you care about the weather? 
Do you care about a hobby? 
Do you care about progression? 
Do you care about understanding others? 
Do you care about others at all? 
Do you care about what those around you are trying to tell you? 
Do you care about what you’re going to do tonight? 
The rest of your life? 
Do you care about music? 
Do you care about the direction of your life? 
Do you care about your spiritual state? 
Do you care about eternity? 
Do you care about your appearance? 
Do you care about what others think of you? 
Do you care about what your spouse is going through? 
Do you care about helping, and making a difference? 
Do you care about how you feel when you look in the mirror? 
Do you care about what media you consume? 
Do you care about what food you consume? 
Do you care about a pet? 
Do you care about nature? 
Do you care about your education (regardless of age)?
Do you care about yourself?


Caring is one of the simplest, yet most magnificent of motivating powers.  Caring gives you energy, purpose, hope, enthusiasm, passion, commitment, perseverance.   None of those can exist without caring.  In fact, no positive, healthy, or forward-moving emotion can exist without first caring.

What’s more, those who care more, experience more.  More life, more joy, more hope, more love, more fullness.  As a people, I am convinced that we have got to care more.

So I ask you, what do you care about?  Try caring a little bit more, see what happens.


Inspirational Quotes

I’m always looking for inspiration, and I’m always inspired by looking. 

So, I’ve decided to start a post where we can collect inspirational quotes.   I try hard to use my blog to inspire and motivate others.  But the beauty of social media, such as blogging, is that it’s a two-way street.  This post is your opportunity to inspire me, and others who read it.

It’s an open forum, post whatever quotes you’d like, spiritual, motivational, whatever.  They can be yours, or they can be another’s (if so, please post who said it, if known).  Obvious rules will apply…

Let’s have fun.


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What I learned from 9-11

This morning as I drove to work, I reflected on Sept. 11, 2001.  I remember the day well, the pain, shock, confusion, fear, anger, sadness, and myriad other emotions that played across my consciousness that day.

As is often in my nature, I attempted to search for some sort of symbolism, looking for a lesson that I might be able to apply to my life.

Before I go any further, I am indeed aware that such an endeavor requires objectification, and can seem unfeeling and apathetic.  But that is not my intent.  Rather, I hope to draw from the event as many personal lessons as possible, knowing full well it does nothing to lessen the loss.  Indeed, my deepest and most sincere condolences and prayers go out to those who lost family, friends, and loved ones on that dreadful day.  While it was a heartrending day for our Nation, no one bore that pain more acutely than you.

 I was inspired to hear these words from President Bush during today’s memorial services:  “On a day when buildings fell, heroes rose”.

It is that point that I hope to emphasize. 

Within each of our lives, often there are instances of unspeakable tragedy, times when we have been brought to our very knees.  Sometimes we have brought these things upon ourselves through sin and transgression, sometimes we have done nothing to deserve them, but almost always they hit us in an unsuspecting moment, and often they can cause seemingly irreparable damage.

We wonder if we can ever continue, if life can even go on.  The devastation, pain, heartache, and tragedy, at that moment, is so close to us that it blots out our vision and we cannot see past it.

We experienced this together 7 years ago, in a very real, tangible, and terrible way.

But go on we did… not weaker, but stronger.  And though, even after cleaning up the rubble, we were left with a whole in the ground, we quickly began rebuilding.  We cleaned up what we could, reviewed plans for beautiful new edifices, selected one and began building.

In our own lives, we must take the same approach.  It’s easy, and normal, to allow catastrophic events that plague our past to cripple our future, but it must not be so.

If it is sin, we must repent and rebuild.  If it is some other event over which we had no control or responsibility, we must embrace it as part of the divine planning of our lives, preparing us to be stronger, greater, more feeling, and more capable. 

It is within our power to choose what we become, to choose how we respond, and to select from the options that are before us an edifice for our lives worthy of our future.

As that becomes the object of our focus, not the destruction, but creation, and as we involve the Lord in that creation, we heal faster, and the building we create will have the distinctive reflections of divinity, and inspired architecture of eternity.

Though the buildings of your life may fall, a hero will rise.  You.


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