In case you didn’t see this

At least 90% of you have read this, but in case you didn’t see it, I’m sharing (as I’m sure others have shared).  Robert Kirby is a columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune. The title of this one is:K “Wait’ll you see how much the Mormon church pays me.” Enjoy. (15 January 2017)


Despite the fact that I have in ways large, small, and painful, worked for the LDS Church my entire life, I’ve never received a penny from it. Not even a coupon. Note: This includes the time I had to go to the hospital because I was knocked down twice in five minutes by the same church welfare cow. For my church, I’ve cleaned ditches, roofed houses, vaccinated livestock, fixed plumbing and even canned chili. I’ve also held various time-heavy jobs like being in bishoprics and serving as an Elders Quorum president. Not a pay stub to show for any of it. It gets even crazier. I once worked for two years as a full-time missionary in a faraway land, the privilege of which I had to pay for myself. Actually, I didn’t. My parents paid for it. Prior to receiving a call to work for free, I’d blown every nickel I had on riotous living. Pleased that I was still alive and not incarcerated at the age of 20, my parents were happy to kick in. For all the free work I’ve done, it has never bothered me that I didn’t get paid. Being a worker bee is part of the Mormon gig. We don’t flaunt that beehive emblem around for nothing. When the church wants some work out of us, it simply asks. The request comes as a “calling,” which is not the same thing as a job offer. There’s no negotiating of benefits or stock options. Among Mormons, there are only two proper replies to a church calling, both of which are “Yes.” The difference between them is actually following through and doing the job, and just pretending to. We are counseled to never say “no” to a calling, although I have. Several times, in fact. But always to the future benefit of the church. They have no idea how many PR bullets I’ve helped them dodge by saying, “Oh, &#@% no. I’m not doing that.” But some Mormons do get paid. My sister worked for the church. She got paid. I ride TRAX with both LDS missionaries (unpaid) and church employees (paid). None of them has ever complained about what they get paid. I don’t recall when I realized that LDS general authorities were compensated for their work. This almost certainly means the news didn’t bother me enough at the time to file it away for future grousing. It still doesn’t. When it comes to general authorities getting paid, I don’t really care how much it is so long as they don’t flaunt it like some rapper/pimp. Lots of bling, tricked-out rides, pinky rings, and gold grills are not the best delivery method for telling people to behave themselves. Now that we seem to know what LDS leaders are paid, it’s still OK with me. I say this because I wouldn’t do it for that much. Not even close. If you were to pay me for wearing a necktie even to bed, while simultaneously trying to keep people on the straight and narrow without a machine gun, it would have to be at least seven figures, each and every one of them a nine. I earn a lot less than that as a newspaper columnist. How much? Well, it’s none of your *&#@% business, is it? I do what I do for what I make because it’s an acceptable bargain between myself and a tough editor. Come to think of it, I don’t know what I make. I get paid by direct deposit. My wife handles it from there. She seems fine with it, so that’s all that really matters in my life.

More than I can handle


I came across this thought a while ago and have been thinking about it a LOT. The more I’ve pondered, the more I began to agree. I can think of many specific experiences in my life where I was convinced I’d received more than I could handle. And I learned early that the sooner I turned to my Heavenly Father for Heavenly Help, the sooner I was able to handle the seemingly impossible things which came along. I love the way Mother Teresa (she was always a Saint) expressed this:


When we’re faced with challenges – with experiences which seem impossible to handle – we know where to turn. Most of us could probably ask for priesthood blessings more than we do. Sometimes perhaps we have a feeling that “oh, I can handle this … I should probably get as few blessings as possible. I can take care of this on my own.” Uh… that might not be the best way to handle challenges in our days and lives. It sounds and feels a bit more like pride than humility.


There are lessons to be learned from Job – from his grief and suffering. There is a divine purpose in the things we face in life. We need enough trust in God that we don’t let any suffering or discouragement cause bitterness. This is like poison to our soul. It is possible to handle sorrow, suffering, loneliness, fear, discouragement and so on in a positive way – with faith and trust. We are being tested. And our reaction to all that comes our way is an indication of how strong and deep our faith and trust are.


I don’t know if I’ve expressed any of this very well. We might ask more often things like “What is my Heavenly Father trying to teach me right now?” “What am I to learn about myself through this experience?” “Have I ignored any promptings as to how I should respond to this situation?” There have been many times in my long-and-getting-longer life when I’ve felt I had reached the absolute outer limits of my abilities… and I know there are times when I’ve waited too long to plead for Help.


I hope this post might help you (and mee too) as we face some challenging times as the days and years go by. This is food for thought, and I’ve been pondering it for several days, and am still not sure if I’ve expressed my thoughts adequately. Oh well. If it helps even one person to know that it’s TRUE that we won’t be given more than we – with Heavenly Help – can handle! We can always count on this Help as we respond to the invitation to “Come unto Christ.” He can help us become increasingly perfect: whole, complete, pure, holy). He can help us handle anything.


I found this little poem which reminds me of my childhood. I was 9 years old when this poem appeared in the Improvement Era in 1949. It is called HANDS and was written by Ora Pate Stewart.

I DO NOT ask for sculptured ivory hands   Whose lily-whiteness softens to the touch-

Though beauty, for itself, is much desired.   The beauty I desire is not so much

Of scented lily cups. My hands will know   The moist warm feel of loamy, furrowed earth,

And more – the hard round handle of the hoe.   But make them soft enough to dry the cheeks

Where little tears are spilled; and skilled to mend   Where overalls, and hearts, and lives are torn;

And on occasion, strengthen them to lend   An ivory firmness when the cause is right.

But O toward the ending of the day,   Give them the suppleness to fold and pray.




I live in a storage unit. I’ll bet some of you didn’t know that. Well, I shouldn’t really call my home that… but there is SO MUCH CLUTTER! I can blame it on a lot of things (and I’m pretty good with creative excuses, in case you were wondering). I have a hard time letting go of things which are precious to me (there are just WAY TOO MANY “precious things!”)… Also I’m one of those who thinks that someday there will be time for a particular project or idea… or “someday I’ll need this!” Oh sure . . . . like when I’m 135.


And little did I know, when I moved here 10 years ago, that I’d moved into a flood plain (I don’t know what else to call it). I’ve had 12 floods. This has been very disruptive to my plan for “getting organized” (I think I use that phrase more than any other… may it’s a tie between that and “aging is getting on my nerves!”). The basement is filled with matter unorganized. I’ve been working hard to change that. If I ever EVER really “get organized,” I think I’ll have an Open House so everyone can celebrate with me. At the rate I’m going, that will likely happen on my 90th birthday…

OK… I know some of you can understand what I’m saying. I’m giving my best effort to turning my storage unit back into a home. And I have to say that at least I can park my car in the garage (some of you cringed at that remark… maybe it’s been years since you’ve been able to do it). And there IS a trail through the basement….  But OH! The CLUTTER! (I wonder who thought up that word). Clutter is like a MAGNET!! Do you know what I mean? You put something down – an item of clothing, a piece of paper, a book… anything!… and within minutes there’s a PILE! YES! Some of you have experienced this phenomenon (with which I am way too familiar). We’re supposed to magnify our CALLINGS, not our CLUTTER! Sigh . . . . So much of my clutter brings back sweet memories to me. I used to look at the future more than the past, but that seems to be changing as I get older. I don’t LIVE in the past, but really enjoy visiting! And some of my “stuff and things” bring back the memories. Like I found a tiny piece of paper, folded so tightly for so long that I could hardly open it… and the memories flooded in – it was an assignment my violin teacher Mr. Halversen gave me. A short little note about Joseph Haydn that I kept in my small wooden violin case (it was my Dad’s, and I learned on it… it was a 3/4 size violin).  ….

But I’m having some feelings about clutter which make me uncomfortable. It’s not just when my youngest sister Ann talks to me about Feng Shui (I have a tiny TINY little book which makes me laugh: the title is “Feng Shui for Dummies”… I can’t remember whether or not I’ve given a copy to Ann). I know some of you may have read the book I wrote about “You can never get enough of what you don’t need,” and I even gave some advice (I think it was in that book) about how to LET GO of “stuff and things” (oh do I ever use THAT phrase a lot!!). I try to put in practice a couple of things I suggested – like taking pictures of things which are hard to let go of, to give away. Or saying to yourself “Self, there is likely someone who needs this more than I do,” and then donating it to D.I. or Good Will or whatever is close to you. So I’m trying to practice what I’ve preached. (Is this turning into a confession??) (Maybe).


There are some things I’ve found (and “re-found”) which have been SO helpful. My friend Whitney shared information about a book titled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The author is Marie Kondo. She reminds me that “Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.” And: “When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order too.” Wow!

And there are lots of suggestions, like the 80/20 rule for clothing (and other “stuff”): If you’re only wearing 20% of the clothing in your closet(s) 80% of the time, get rid of the things you’re not wearing and will likely never wear again…. And you can do this with books (OUCH!!!), computer parts, doo-dads, kitchen stuff, ETC. If you’re not using it, let someone else use it! Give it away! (And don’t be tempted to fill the space you’ve created, ha ha).

And then there is this incredibly important advice from Elder William R. Bradford, which I’ve had and read several times since April of 1992(!!)…. I’m going to share it with you this morning, because I think there might be one or two of you who are struggling – as I am – with clutter. EEEEEEEK!!!!!!  UNCLUTTER YOUR LIVES!  “A cluttered life is a life that you do not have control of,” Elder Bradford said. “It is a life in which the things you have surrounded yourself with, and allow to use your time, are controlling you, and negatively influencing your happiness and eternal progress.”  He said that lives can be cluttered by many things. Some are obvious, such as material things, “the stuff we collect.” Other things that clutter lives and use up time are not as obvious as the material. They are more subtle and just seem to evolve, taking control of lives. “We give our lives to that which we give our time,” Elder Bradford explained. To unclutter one’s life, Elder Bradford admonished, much has to be discarded. “To do this we need to develop a list of basics, a list of those things that are indispensable to our mortal welfare and happiness and our eternal salvation. This list must follow the gospel pattern and contain the elements needed for our sanctification and perfection. It must be the product of inspiration and prayerful judgment between the things we really need and the things we just want. It should separate need from greed.” At the top of a list of basics must be the family. “Next only to our devotion to God, the family comes first,” he emphasized. “A mother should never allow herself to become so involved with extras that she finds herself neglecting her divine role. A father must not let any activity, no matter how interesting or important it may seem, keep him from giving of himself in the one‑on‑one service and close, constant care of each member of the family.” Elder Bradford explained that young people need to learn that “none of the exciting, entertaining and fun things” are worth it if they take them off the path that will lead them back to their Heavenly Father. He said that one needs to ask some serious and soul‑searching questions. “One of these questions would surely be, ‘Do I have time for prayer?’ I mean sincere, honest, from the depths of the contrite spirit and a broken heart prayer. “The next question would be, ‘Do I study the scriptures?’ I solemnly testify to you that the holy scriptures are the word of God. Constant study of them is the act of holding to the rod of iron. They will guide you to the tree of life. I exhort you to go to the tree of life where you will find the pure love of God.” With an uncluttered life, he continued, “you will not be so busy doing terrestrial things that you do not have time to do those things which are celestial. God’s plan is a plan of simplicity. I urge you to clear away the clutter. Take your life back. Use your willpower. Learn to say no to those things that will rob you of your precious time and infringe upon your agency to choose to live in exactness to God’s plan of happiness and exaltation.”


I like the way he related it to the fact that our LIVES may be cluttered, and not just our homes or garages or offices or basement or drawers or closets or . . . (OK, I’m getting carried away!). One thing I’ve done a couple of times and am going to do again is have a “MEE-MALL” for my family. I put out a “ton” of things I no longer need, and they can come on a certain day and take anything they want home with them! (Send your clutter to your children or your neighbors or friends!!). Then the rest goes to D.I. I’ve thought of having MEE-BAY, where I send an email with a list of things I no longer need which they might enjoy having, and the only cost is postage (or they can come and pick things up). My younger sister Charlotte and I used to “clean our room” (we shared a room until she turned 18 and went away to Ricks College) and then “hand it down” to our younger brothers and sisters. It made THEM happy, but not our Mother quite as much…. We tried to convince her we were “recycling.” She tried to teach us what “SPRING CLEANING” really meant.


Someday I plan to post a Blog exclaiming that I am “clutter free!” (And I hope I live long enough to do that).   NOTE TO MEE-SELF: