Beautiful Craftsmanship Awes Me

I have always really enjoyed working with my hands and building things.  Wood shop was always my favorite class because I just love the moulding of unfinished wood into something truly beautiful or even just useful.
I was recently witness to what may be the most awe-inspiring piece of wood work that I have ever seen.  It is a sanctuary of peace in Thailand that is made entirely of wood.  They have been working on it for 36 years and it still isn’t finished.

I would love to give you more numbers about how big it is or stuff like that, but there was very little information available there.  What I can tell you is that the craftsmanship and attention to detail on this thing is just insane.  
The pictures that I have included don’t even do it justice, but they give you a little idea of the magnitude of work involved in this project.  Even more impressive to me is that all of the carving is done by hand.  There were probably 50 or so people still working with hammers and chisels on various parts of the structure.

I find it hard to adeqautely describe just how awe inspiring it truly was.  I don’t follow the religious beliefs that this sanctuary reflected but I have great respect for the efforts involved to show their commitment to their faith.

I find equal inspiration from the LDS temples I have visited all over the world.  There is just something powerful to me about applying your craft in devotion to a higher being, whatever name you may give that being.
Great craftsmen have existed as long as there has been something to craft, and I will forever be in awe of their works.  That is why tonight I am grateful for beautiful craftsmanship.

What are you grateful for?

Heroes on Hacksaw Ridge

There are so many great people that have lived in this world, and that currently live in this world.  I absolutely love it when I get to meet those heroic people.  

Unfortunately, we are losing more and more of the heroes from WWII everyday which means that many of their stories will be lost forever.  One of those unbelievable stories was recently made into a movie titled Hacksaw Ridge.  

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  The short version of the story is that this heroic man, Desmond Doss, refused to pick up a weapon, but wanted to do his part in the war effort.  So he volunteered as a medic in the Army.

Spoiler alert: he went on to save 75 men by carrying them off the battlefield and lowering them off the side of a hill known by the Americans as Hacksaw Ridge.  He was the first noncombatant to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
While I did recently see the movie, which I again highly recommend, my gratitude for this hero was brought on today by visiting the site of the actual Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa, Japan.  While much of the area is now covered with buildings and a very large cemetary, it was still awe inspiring to walk somewhere where something so heroic took place.

It was a reminder to me that truly heroic people can come from literally anywhere, and that we must never underestimate the power of a human soul who simply wants to do good and help other people.

I will likely never be asked to do something as difficult as Desmond Doss, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for all of us to be equally heroic.  That’s why today I am grateful for heroes who inspire us to do those heroic things.

What are you grateful for?

A God Who Loves Me

Throughout my life my testimony has gone through all different phases.  I have gone through periods of complete faith and others of complete doubt.

I think all of us do this to some extent, and the height of our peaks and depth of our valleys just differs.  There is no use in comparing because it doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is finding a way to pick ourselves back up when we are feeling down.  It is equally important to work to maintain the peaks so that we have the “religious capital” known as faith to get us through those harder times.

As I look back on the struggles I have had in my life, as well as the good times, there is one thing that I have never lost any faith in.  That is that I know that God loves me.  Not just in a quaint affectionate way, but as a father loves his child, individually and without end.

There have been times I felt like no one loved me, including myself, and other times when I felt incredibly loved.  I have been worthy of that love at times, and other times not so much.

But, no matter how good or bad my life has been, there has always been that one undeniable truth, and that is why tonight I am grateful for a God that loves me.

What are you grateful for?

Love

I don’t have a lot of deep thought to go with my gratitude tonight, only the fact that love conquers all.

No matter how hard we think life is or how much we struggle the love of a Heavenly Father can, and will, get us through.

Some days there is not much else I know in the world, but tonight I am grateful for love.

What are you grateful for?

Church

Sometimes I really hate going to church.  It’s true.  I am not the most outgoing guy in the world so I often don’t make friends easily, which always seems to be the case at church.

I just never really feel like I fit in.  I have been blessed with a few really good friends from church over the years, but other than that, the social aspect of church has never been strong for me.

Fortunately, I don’t go to church for the social aspect, it would just be easier to go on those days that Satan is trying to stop me from going.  The irony is that the days that I feel like going to church the least are the days I need it the most, like today.

 I have mentioned previously that I have been a little out of it as I adjust to being without my family.  I am still working on getting into a routine that makes me happy and satisfied.  Church should be a simple fit in since it is at the same time, and I know that is where I am supposed to be, but we all have times when we don’t want to go where we are supposed to be.

That’s why this week Heavenly Father was watching over me and not only had me teaching a lesaon, but also had me giving someone who just moved in a ride to church.  So not only could I not be late because I was giving a ride, I also couldn’t leave early since I was teaching the last hour.

I realize that so far this just sounds like a bunch of whining rather than gratitude, but I promise I am getting there.  During the first hour of sacrament meeting, I was blessed to hear some great talks about the Holy Ghost that conveniently fit in with my lesson later.  The most wonderful thing to me, is that the parts I found most applicable came from the talks of two teenage girls.  It just goes to show you that inspiration and insight can come from anywhere.

Skip ahead to the last hour and I was kind of hoping they would waste a lot of time on announcements because I wan’t wanting to talk so much.  You notice I didn’t say have too much time because as anyone who knows me can tell you, I can talk.  I just didn’t want to drone on and on forever.

But, as I got into the lesson I was amazed at how many new thoughts came to my mind.  I have been told before that when new thoughts come to your mind that you have never thought before, that is the Holy Ghost talking to you.  Let me tell you he was talking a lot today.  There were truly some eye-opening moments for me, which just goes to reaffirm that I learn so much more as a teacher than I ever do as a student.

For many of us our spiritual life is a bit of a roller coaster, or at the very least a see saw.  We have numerous spiritual highs and lows that ultimately mold us into the person that we are at any given moment.  I was honestly in a bit of a low, feeling sorry for myself, but it only took a couple of hours for me to shoot right back up to the top of the hill.

I know that there will be down days ahead as there inevitably are, but hopefully I will remember this gratitude for church and I will be able to just as quickly find my way back up to the top.

What are you grateful for?

My Faith

I know religion is one of those things you aren’t supposed to talk with people about, but I am the only one talking here so I guess that makes it okay.  This post really could go on and on so I will try and keep it concise.

Today I was at the hospital with my son again for an MRI so that hopefully we can figure out why he is having seizures.  If you are not aware, you must remain perfectly still for an MRI which is naturally a piece of cake for an almost four year old with the attention span of…squirrel.

In order to facilitate said MRI the nurse needed to give my son some medication to put him to sleep.  As he is inclined to do with medicine on occasion, he immediately proceeded to spit it out all over his shirt.  Of the 12ml he was supposed to get, I would guess that at the absolute most he got two.

The nurses were too afraid to give him more but assured me that he definitely got enough.  They even told the radiology nurses that he had taken most of it.  I have an orange stained shirt to prove otherwise, but whatever, maybe he got enough.

They tell you to expect the medicine to take 20-40 minutes to take effect, and just like the previous visit, at about 25 minutes he started to fall asleep, though this time that included a large amount of screaming, not a good sign.  He did doze off eventually, and was totally gone in about 5 minutes.  To make a long story short, we called the nurse, and they said it would be 20-30 minutes because the machine was in use.

Well crap!

I really hoped he would stay asleep, which he did.  Until they showed up to take him.  While trying to move him to their rolling bed he woke right up and it didn’t look like he had any intention of going back to sleep.  He put his hands behind his head and was looking around at everybody and everything.

Ty MRI

We quickly pushed him back into the darkened room where I turned off all the lights and hoped beyond reason that he would actually fall asleep.  I had a few moments with just my son and after worrying about him sleeping for a few minutes, I knew what I had to do: Pray.

So you know where I am coming from, I’m a Mormon.  That means that prayer is a really important part of my life.

So I reached over and held onto my son and said a little prayer asking Heavenly Father to please help him fall asleep and stay asleep through the MRI because we really needed to get it done, and we really did not have time to wait for another appointment.  I opened my eyes, and he was still wide awake doing everything he could to challenge my faith, but I knew that he would fall asleep so we could get this done.

I texted my wife and told her and my youngest daughter who was at home to pray that he would go back to sleep.  I even posted on Twitter, and got a few responses which is amazing.

I’m not really sure how long I waited, but when the nurse came in to check on us he was once again sound asleep.  To which she responded it would be about 15-20 minutes because the machine was being used again, I kid you not.  But this time I wasn’t worried because I had faith that he would stay asleep and we would get this done.

Sure enough he stayed asleep and they brought him back to the room still totally out.  Now I realize it would be easy to say that the medicine just finally kicked in and that is why he fell asleep, and maybe that is exactly what happened.

But after watching him sleep with a full dose of medicine with a much less noisy procedure, and seeing how he responded with maybe 15% of a dose, I don’t know of any other way he could have slept through it than without the help of a loving Heavenly Father, and the faith of his family.

You don’t have to agree with me or believe me, but that is what is awesome about faith: it can be different for all of us.  Maybe you have faith in God, or in other people, or maybe even just in yourself, but faith is what gets us to do amazing things precisely when no one else believes it can be done.

When you are willing to look beyond the obvious and believe in something that is true but cannot be seen, then you have faith.  That is exactly what I experienced today, and that is why I am grateful for my faith.