OK, friends… It’s HERE!! I was born on a Sunday: 03-03-40. So THIS is the BIG DAY for turning 79. WHAT??? You mean I’m starting my 80th year as an earthling?? Oh my goodness… this can’t be true!! But there are some “symptoms,” eh? Yep… More about that later. But first, a few things. I found a lot of pictures, but I know they won’t all fit after all I’m planning to write (!!), so I might put just 2 or 3, and then maybe I’ll make an extra post just with pictures (although in the past when I was posting blogs quite frequently, I realized that for some reasons the pictures often disappeared! Rather quickly, too! I don’t know how to fix that… I’m on a pretty steep learning curve (and yes, I’m OLD). (OK… I’ve finished the post but can’t figure out how to add pictures…. I know that just breaks your heart! I’ll see if I can start a new post just with pictures)….

Now for some little factoids: When I was born there were 7 Temples in the world (the most recent being the Mesa Temple, built in 1927). The Prophet and president of the Church was Heber J. Grant. Franklin D. Roosevelt was USA president.  WWII was happening. An average home cost around $ 4,000. Gas was 11 cents per gallon. A new car averaged $ 850. A Hoover vacuum was $52.00. 12 cents could buy 3 sticks of gum. A 5-lb bag of flour was 25 cents. Life Magazine cost 10 cents. Hattie McDaniel won an Academy Award for “Gone With the Wind” (she was the first African-American actor to win but was not allowed to attend the grand opening of the film in Atlanta….) The first nylon stockings were sold. Walt Disney’s “Pinocchio” was a hit. Glenn Miller. Tommy Dorsey, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra were popular. Others born in 1940 include Jack Nicklaus, Peter Fonda, John Lennon, Mario Andretti, and Frankie Avalon. OK, but ALSO born in 1940: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and Elder Quentin L. Cook. Yep… it was a good year!

Now for the “symptoms.” Yes, I’m slowing down. I can’t leap tall buildings anymore [as if I ever COULD!!]. And I can only hold my breath for about 12 seconds (thanks in part to COPD and only 1/3 lung capacity). It seems like I used to look forward more than backward. I wasn’t just 5 or 11 or whatever – I was 5 ½!  11 ½!  I don’t really mind the numbers. I’ve never hesitated to tell anyone how old I was. And until I was approximately 35-40 I was always considered younger than I actually was. I was skinny until then. All numbers seem to have increased…. Hmmmm…. When I was a student nurse and then an R.N., no one would believe that I was older than 16 or 17. Ha!

I was very athletic. (I know… it’s hard to imagine that now). I was even voted best female athlete as I graduated from BYU High School. Wow. I played sports all through my 4 years at BYU, which included 2 years in Salt Lake getting experience at the LDS Hospital and other places there (like the first, and now GONE, Primary Children’s Hospital, up the hill from our nurse’s residence on 9th Ave). And clinics in downtown Salt Lake. I didn’t know how to use the bus system, so I’d just walk and jog down and back, usually through Memory Grove. I played basketball (on a nurse’s team), and was on our ward team (which also had student nurses) for volleyball and softball.

My childhood was ideal. Cedar City in the 40’s and 50’s. No TV (but YES, we DID have indoor plumbing and electricity). Our phone number was 34. Daddy’s office was 70. We had “Number please” and “Information please.” The Saturday matinee at the Cedar Theatre was 10 cents but went up to 25 cents by the time we moved away in 1957. The most popular songs included “You Are My Sunshine,” “When You Wish Upon A Star,” “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano,” “Tom Dooley,” “Beer Barrel Polka,” and “I’ll Never Smile Again.” Two favorite games were Parcheesi and TiddleyWinks. I was in a 4-H club, wrote poems, took piano lessons, was in 4 orchestras at once for a while (I played the violin: Jr. High, High School, College and Community orchestras – I had the blessing of playing in “The Messiah,” which was held each year in Cedar City). I saw the Utah Symphony each year, plus Raphael Mendez, Spike Jones and the Wacky Wacketeers, Jose Grecco and his dance company, several Metropolitan Opera singers (in 3rd grade I was “mesmerized” hearing Robert Wede sing “Old Man River”). For a small town, Cedar City gave us incredible opportunities!

I LOVE GOOD MUSIC! I heard Jesse Norman sing “The Last Four Songs of Strauss” with the Utah Symphony (and it still gives me chills even to think about it), and John Longhurst [also born in 1940] play the organ in “The Organ Symphony (also with the Utah Symphony). Placido Domingo and Jess Norman at the Metropolitan Opera. Marilyn Horne in Carnegie Hall. Van Cliburn in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Eugene Ormandy conducting the Tabernacle Choir. [Yes, it has a new name now]. Il Divo in San Diego and again in Salt Lake. Music on Broadway and lots of other places. I loved singing in my high school choir. And I always have music playing in my head! ALWAYS! Well, I could go on and on about MUSIC – good music thrills my soul!!!

Life is good (even with FLOOD #13 in my basement last week……..) I’m slowly moving from American Fork to Midway. The air quality is MUCH better up there (and I’m hoping it will stay that way). I’m thankful that many of my treasured “papers” are going to the BYU basement (the L. Tom Perry collection, I think). I’ve collected a LOT of “stuff and things” through the years which are very precious to me (but likely not to anyone else … so be on the lookout at D.I., OK??)

I’ve been “blessed beyond measure.” TRULY! I’ve had adventures, experiences and opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. Not all dreams have come true, but so MUCH has “come true” that I didn’t even know how to dream about!! (I didn’t even have to make a “Bucket List!”) I never imagined that I’d visit all 7 continents (yes – that includes Antarctica!), serve 4 missions (including being one of the very first sister missionaries in both the Philippines and Indonesia), become a nurse, write a few books (and read hundreds!), stand at the Southern Tip of the Pan American Highway (in Ushuaia, Argentina), serve on the Relief Society General Board for 11 years, visit a refugee camp in Thailand, have a Facebook account (WHAT??) and a Blog (WHAT???), swim in Navajo Lake, the Pacific Ocean, and a pool in Fiji, teach with missionaries for 7 years at the Missionary Home in Salt Lake and at the LTM and MTC for over 20 years, ride a dog sled in Alaska, teach “Seesters” at the MTC on Sundays for around 23 years, visit over 45 countries and all 50 states, ride the Star Ferry in Hong Kong, have the privilege of attending more than 50 Temples, sail the Pacific, spend time on the Altiplano in Bolivia (over 12,000 feet above sea level!), work at Zion National Park for 2 summers, climb Lady Mountain and Angel’s Landing, see the Sydney Opera House, have the police offer a $100 reward for anyone who could name MEE as a participant in a costly prank, kiss a stingray in Bora-Bora, do a dozen skits with Sandi Rogers for the BYU Women’s Conference, participate in “Time Out for Women” over 130 times, climb Timp, be hospitalized for the first time in my life in Taipei, Taiwan, watch whales breach off the coast of the Big Island (Hawaii), see the Statue of Liberty, wear braces for 10 years, be deeply moved in Jerusalem, Nauvoo, the Sacred Grove and lots of other places (like Fort McKinley, now Fort Bonifacio, in the Philippines and incredible scenery in so many countries I’ve visited, like Switzerland!… where both of my Grandmothers were born), give quite a few talks (including with EFY, Education Week, and “Know Your Religion”),find dear friends in MANY places in the world, say farewell to my parents and many MANY other dear ones (I’m really looking forward to LOTS of reunions!!!). I’m so grateful for my family. All 4 brothers and 3 sisters are still on the planet with me, plus a whole bunch of “posterity!” I LOVE THEM ALL SO MUCH!!

I’m deeply, constantly thankful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – and WOW! To be alive RIGHT NOW with an amazing continuing Restoration….  For the Priesthood, Revelation, Temples, Family History work, the Sacrament, ALL Scriptures … And on and on and ON (I’ll think of other things after I “hang up….)” 



Many of you have probably already read (and pondered) this talk, printed in the ENSIGN, July 2014. I thought I’d share it again now that he has been named one of the two new Apostles. ENJOY!!!

BECOMING PERFECT IN CHRIST – By Elder Gerritt Walter Gong

We sing with our children, “I feel my Savior’s love, the love he freely gives me.”1  His atoning love, freely given, is as “milk and honey, without money and without price” (2 Nephi 26:25). Infinite and eternal (see Alma 34:10), the Atonement invites us to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32).  Understanding the Savior’s freely given atoning love can free us from self-imposed, incorrect, and unrealistic expectations of what perfection is. Such understanding allows us to let go of fears that we are imperfect—fears that we make mistakes, fears that we are not good enough, fears that we are a failure compared to others, fears that we are not doing enough to merit His love.

The Savior’s freely given atoning love helps us become more forgiving and less judgmental of others and of ourselves. This love heals our relationships and gives us opportunities to love, understand, and serve as our Savior would. His atoning love changes our concept of perfection. We can put our trust in Him, diligently keep His commandments, and continue in the faith (see Mosiah 4:6)—even as we also feel greater humility, gratitude, and dependence on His merits, mercy, and grace (see2 Nephi 2:8).

In a broader sense, coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him places perfection within the eternal journey of our spirit and body—in essence, the eternal journey of our soul (see D&C 88:15). Becoming perfect results from our journey through physical life, death, and resurrection, when all things are restored “to their proper and perfect frame” (Alma 40:23). It includes the process of spiritual birth, which brings “a mighty change” to our hearts and dispositions (Mosiah 5:2). It reflects our lifelong refinement through Christlike service and obedience to the Savior’s commandments and our covenants. And it recognizes the perfecting relationship between the living and the dead (see D&C 128:18).

The word perfection, however, is sometimes misunderstood to mean never making a mistake. Perhaps you or someone you know is trying hard to be perfect in this way. Because such perfection always seems out of reach, even our best efforts can leave us anxious, discouraged, or exhausted. We unsuccessfully try to control our circumstances and the people around us. We fret over weaknesses and mistakes. In fact, the harder we try, the further we may feel from the perfection we seek.

In what follows, I seek to deepen our appreciation for the doctrine of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and for the love and mercy the Savior freely gives us. I invite you to apply your understanding of the doctrine of the Atonement to help yourself and others, including missionaries, students, young single adults, fathers, mothers, single heads of households, and others who may feel pressure to find perfection or to be perfect.


Prepared from the foundation of the world (see Mosiah 4:6–7), our Savior’s Atonement allows us to learn, repent, and grow by our own experiences and choices. In this mortal probation, both gradual “line upon line” (D&C 98:12) spiritual growth and transformative “mighty change” of heart (Alma 5:12, 13Mosiah 5:2) spiritual experiences help us come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. The familiar term “endure to the end” reminds us that eternal growth often involves both time and process. In the concluding chapter of the Book of Mormon, the great prophet Moroni teaches us how to come unto and be perfected in Christ. We “deny [our]selves of all ungodliness.” We “love God with all [our] might, mind and strength.” Then His grace is sufficient for us, “that by his grace [we] may be perfect in Christ.” If we “deny not” the power of God, we can be “sanctified in Christ by the grace of God,” which “is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of [our] sins,” that we can “become holy, without spot” (Moroni 10:32, 33). Ultimately, it is the Savior’s “great and last sacrifice” that brings about “mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance” (Alma 34:14, 15). Indeed, our “faith unto repentance” is essential for us to come unto Christ, be perfected in Him, and enjoy the blessings of “the great and eternal plan of redemption” (Alma 34:16).

Fully accepting our Savior’s Atonement can increase our faith and give us courage to let go of constraining expectations that we are somehow required to be or to make things perfect. Black-and-white thinking says everything is either absolutely perfect or hopelessly flawed. But we can gratefully accept, as God’s sons and daughters, that we are His greatest handiwork (seePsalm 8:3–6Hebrews 2:7), even though we are still a work in progress. As we understand our Savior’s freely given atoning love, we cease fearing that He may be a harsh, faultfinding judge. Instead, we feel assurance, “for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). And we understand that time and process are needed for growth (see Moses 7:21).


Only our Savior lived a perfect life, and even He learned and grew in mortal experience. Indeed, “he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness” (D&C 93:13). He learned through mortal experience to “take upon him [our] infirmities … that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people” (Alma 7:12). He did not succumb to temptations, sins, or daily pressures, but He descended below all of mortality’s trials and challenges (see D&C 122:8). In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior commands us: “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The Greek word for perfect can be translated as “complete, finished, fully developed” (in Matthew 5:48, footnote b). Our Savior asks us to become complete, finished, fully developed—to be perfected in the virtues and attributes He and our Father in Heaven exemplify.2  Let us see how applying the doctrine of the Atonement may help those who feel they need to find perfection or to be perfect.


A misunderstanding of what it means to be perfect can result in perfectionism—an attitude or behavior that takes an admirable desire to be good and turns it into an unrealistic expectation to be perfect now. Perfectionism sometimes arises from the feeling that only those who are perfect deserve to be loved or that we do not deserve to be happy unless we are perfect. Perfectionism can cause sleeplessness, anxiety, procrastination, discouragement, self-justification, and depression. These feelings can crowd out the peace, joy, and assurance our Savior wants us to have.

Missionaries who want to be perfect now may become anxious or discouraged if learning their mission language, seeing people baptized, or receiving mission leadership assignments do not happen fast enough. For capable young people accustomed to accomplishment, a mission may be life’s first great challenge. But missionaries can be exactly obedient without being perfect. They can measure their success primarily by their commitment to help individuals and families “become faithful members of the Church who enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost.”3

Students beginning a new school year, especially those leaving home for college, face both excitement and concerns. Student scholars, athletes, artists, and so forth go from being a “big fish in a little pond” to feeling like a minnow in an ocean with unfamiliar tides and swift, unpredictable currents. It is easy for students with perfectionist tendencies to feel that, no matter how hard they try, they have failed if they are not first in all things. Given life’s demands, students can learn that it is sometimes perfectly fine to do all they can and that it is not always possible to be the very best.

We also impose expectations of perfection in our own homes. A father or mother may feel compelled to be the perfect spouse, parent, homemaker, breadwinner, or part of a perfect Latter-day Saint family—now.

What helps those who battle perfectionist tendencies? Open-ended, supportive inquiries communicate acceptance and love. They invite others to focus on the positive. They allow us to define what we feel is going well. Family and friends can avoid competitive comparisons and instead offer sincere encouragement.

Another serious dimension of perfectionism is to hold others to our unrealistic, judgmental, or unforgiving standards. Such behavior may, in fact, deny or limit the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement in our lives and in the lives of others. For example, young single adults may make a list of desired qualities in a potential spouse and yet be unable to marry because of unrealistic expectations for the perfect companion. Thus, a sister may be unwilling to consider dating a wonderful, worthy brother who falls short on her perfectionist scale—he does not dance well, is not planning to be wealthy, did not serve a mission, or admits to a past problem with pornography since resolved through repentance and counseling. Similarly, a brother may not consider dating a wonderful, worthy sister who doesn’t fit his unrealistic profile—she is not a sports enthusiast, a Relief Society president, a beauty queen, a sophisticated budgeter, or she admits to an earlier, now-resolved weakness with the Word of Wisdom. Of course, we should consider qualities we desire in ourselves and in a potential spouse. We should maintain our highest hopes and standards. But if we are humble, we will be surprised by goodness in unexpected places, and we may create opportunities to grow closer to someone who, like us, is not perfect. Faith acknowledges that, through repentance and the power of the Atonement, weakness can be made strong and repented sins can truly be forgiven.

Happy marriages are not the result of two perfect people saying vows. Rather, devotion and love grow as two imperfect people build, bless, help, encourage, and forgive along the way. The wife of a modern prophet was once asked what it was like being married to a prophet. She wisely replied that she had not married a prophet; she had simply married a man who was completely dedicated to the Church no matter what calling he received.4 In other words, in process of time, husbands and wives grow together—individually and as a couple. The wait for a perfect spouse, perfect education, perfect job, or perfect house will be long and lonely. We are wise to follow the Spirit in life’s important decisions and not let doubts spawned by perfectionist demands hinder our progress.

For those who may feel chronically burdened or anxious, sincerely ask yourself, “Do I define perfectionand success by the doctrines of the Savior’s atoning love or by the world’s standards? Do I measure success orfailure by the Holy Ghost confirming my righteous desires or by some worldly standard?” For those who feel physically or emotionally exhausted, start getting regular sleep and rest, and make time to eat and relax. Recognize that being busy is not the same as being worthy, and being worthy does not require perfection.5  For those prone to see their own weaknesses or shortcomings, celebrate with gratitude the things you do well, however large or small.  For those who fear failure and who procrastinate, sometimes by overpreparing, be assured and encouraged that there is no need to withdraw from challenging activities that may bring great growth!

Where needed and appropriate, seek spiritual counsel or competent medical attention to help you relax, develop positive ways to think and structure your life, reduce self-defeating behaviors, and experience and express more gratitude.6

Impatience impedes faith. Faith and patience will help missionaries understand a new language or culture, students to master new subjects, and young single adults to begin building relationships rather than waiting for everything to be perfect. Faith and patience will also help those waiting for temple sealing clearances or restoration of priesthood blessings.

As we act and are not acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:14), we can navigate between complementary virtues and achieve much of life’s growth. These can appear in “an opposition,” being “a compound in one” (2 Nephi 2:11).  For example, we can cease to be idle (see D&C 88:124) without running faster than we have strength (seeMosiah 4:27).  We can be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27) while also periodically pausing to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10; see also D&C 101:16).  We can find our lives by losing our lives for the Savior’s sake (see Matthew 10:3916:25).  We can be “not weary in well-doing” (D&C 64:33; see also Galatians 6:9) while taking appropriate time to refresh spiritually and physically.  We can be lighthearted without being light-minded.  We can laugh heartily with but not haughtily at.

Our Savior and His Atonement invite us to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” As we do so, He promises that His grace is “sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:32).  For those burdened by cares to find perfection or to be perfect now, our Savior’s freely given atoning love assures us:  “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  “… For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28, 30).7


  1. “I Feel My Savior’s Love,” Children’s Songbook,75.
  2. See also Russell M. Nelson, “Perfection Pending,”Ensign,Nov. 1995, 86–88.
  3. Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service(2004), 10.
  4. See Lavina Fielding, “Camilla Kimball: Lady of Constant Learning,”Ensign, Oct. 1975, 62.
  5. See, for example, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Four Titles,”Ensign,May 2013, 58–61. President Uchtdorf also cautions, “Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list” (“Of Things That Matter Most,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, 20).
  6. This insight comes from Carlos F. and Alane Kae Watkins, mental health advisers in the Asia Area, assigned in Hong Kong. Other insights for this article came from Susan Gong, Larry Y. and Lynda Wilson, Randy D. and Andrea Funk, Janet S. Scharman, and missionaries in the Indonesia Jakarta Mission.
  7. See also Cecil O. Samuelson, “What Does It Mean to Be Perfect?”New Era, Jan. 2006, 10–13; Janet S. Scharman, “Seeking Perfection without Being a Perfectionist,” in Virtue and the Abundant Life: Talks from the BYU Religious Education and Wheatley Institution Symposium, ed. Lloyd D. Newell and others (2012), 280–302.

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.


I am one who strongly believes that we need to be conscious of keeping CHRIST in CHRISTMAS. But I also love the sweet magic of Santa, which adds to the love and joy and excitement of Christmas. I ran across this story (which many of you may have seen already) which touched my heart and soul so deeply. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.


This is Santa – Eric Schmitt-Matzen. He shares his love and magical joy in Knoxville, Tennessee.  A columnist (Sam Venable) shared an experience which Santa had. When I read the story, I cried. It touched my heart and soul so deeply. The story begins when Santa got a call after work. “It was a nurse I know at the hospital,” Schmitt-Matzen told the News-Sentinel. “She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus.” Schmitt-Matzen, whose 300-pound frame and REAL white beard make him a popular Santa in the Knoxville area, got to the hospital in 15 minutes and requested that anyone leave the room if they were about to cry. Here is what happened, as related by this wonderful Santa:  ‘”They say I’m gonna die,’ he told me. “How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?” “I said, ‘Can you do me a big favor?'” “He said, ‘Sure!'” “When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.” “He said, ‘They will?'” “I said, ‘Sure!'” “He kinda sat up and gave me a big hug and asked one more question: ‘Santa, can you help me?'”  “I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.”  After the boy’s family realized that he had died, Schmitt-Matzen said he left the hospital and cried all the way home. “I was a basket case for three days. It took me a week or two to stop thinking about it all the time” … “Actually, I thought I might crack up and never be able to play the part again.”  Schmitt-Matzen considered hanging up his red suit, but then he saw some children laughing and playing, and he changed his mind. “It made me realize the role I get to play,” said the part-time Santa. His is a different Christmas story than most of them, but oh how glad I am that he shared it! Bless you, dear Santa! Here’s a huge SHOUT-OUT to you from a very small Blog “out west….”  God bless you!

And here’s a picture of Santa and “Mrs. Claus.”




Here’s a little story which has a pretty good message.  I know there are many of you who feel that your hut’s on fire.  My heart aches as I hear of those who have very heavy burdens, who mourn, who need to be comforted, who are terribly lonely, who are suffering unbelievable harm . . . .  Sometimes when someone tries to “diminish” another’s pain and adversity, it makes me want to bite them.  We’re not in a contest here … “If you think YOUR gallstone was big, you should know that MINE was the size of a BASEBALL!!”  Quit it. That’s not nice.  It’s not kind.  (And it’s not really a very good example of what I’m trying to say, but you’re all uber SMART, and you’ll get it… so read the story and think about it for the few minutes you have available).


The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming….  Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.


One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find that the wind has blown his cooking fire, and his little hut was in flames.


Smoke was rolling up to the sky. He felt the worst had happened, and everything was lost.  He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. He cried out, ‘God! How could you do this to me?’  Early the next day, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island! It had come to rescue him! ‘How did you know I was here?’ asked the weary man of his rescuers. ‘We saw your smoke signal, ‘ they replied…..



It’s easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, but we shouldn’t lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of our pain and suffering.  Oh, I know this is true!


Remember that the next time your little hut seems to be burning to the ground. It just may be a smoke signal that summons the help and comfort you need!






Years ago I met Marvin K. Gardner who worked with Church magazines.  He’s one of the “good guys.”  He’s written hymns, including “Press Forward, Saints.”  He was on the committee which prepared the 1985 hymn book.  He wrote the words to a beautiful hymn, “Room In The Inn,” which was published in the New Era in December of 1989. This is a wonderful addition to whatever else we might read or think about today – on Christmas Eve.


  1. Ah, Joseph, how you wearily implore
    that someone will have pity on your plight,
    And, with compassion, open wide the door—
    For Jesus will be born this holy night.
    Will no one offer shelter to the stranger?
    Must Christ the King be cradled in a manger?


That night there was no room in the inn;
This night may there be room within—
Within my heart for him.


  1. Ah, Mary, how you patiently endure!
    While heav’n awaits the blessed baby’s birth,
    You wait outside the inn—alone, obscure—
    And pray for some compassion here on earth!
    You would have given shelter to the stranger.
    Why must your Son lie cradled in a manger?



  1. O Father, how thy sons and daughters cry—
    The lonely ones, the weary, the oppressed.
    Fill thou my heart with love, that I may try
    To lift another’s burden, give him rest.
    Oh, may I have compassion for the stranger.
    Remembering that Baby in a manger!



Text:  Marvin Gardner
Music:  Vanja Watkins
Composition Date:  1989-12-01

The music is included in the New Era Dec 1989





Yep… it’s “BLACK FRIDAY.”


I’ve always wondered why they chose black (rather than yellow, green, red, purple, apricot, or ash grey…)  And why not turkey-brown Thursday, plaid Wednesday, fuchsia Tuesday… (I’m getting carried away… I can tell, and YOU can tell too). Anyway, this is black Friday, and many stores resemble ant hills.


Is it REALLY like this??? (I’ve never done it, and I think I never will).


And I always thought it was mostly women….??


I hope everyone survives!


It’s also that time of year when a zillion catalogues suddenly appear in your mail box, right?  Stores and places you’ve never heard of (at least not since last year at this time).  Uncle Pete’s Spoon and Fork Store.  Madame Meloni’s Lotion Gallery.  Fred’s Fish and Fry Factory.  Berniece’s Pillow and Plate Palace. Grinch Gulch.  A Million Medicines and More – One for every ailment you’ve never heard of. OK, OK… Let’s move on. BLACK FRIDAY!  Oh boy!  Oh Boy!


But WAIT!  You have  not yet heard about most wonderful over-priced (as in OVER THE TOP) gifts.  One of these could change everything (like how much you owe on your credit card bill)!  Knowing you probably won’t choose it, I’ve even left the expensive wine in the list.  You may know someone who’d really love it!  Maybe next I’ll see if I can find a list of the Top 10 cheapest gifts. Stay tuned. Oh boy!  Oh boy!  ….  Alrightie… we’re going to start at # 10 and work our way to # 1….

Trying to write



For something that’s billed as “the world’s most expensive perfume” it’s disappointing that this is almost affordable. A 50ml bottle in Fortnum & Mason will set you back just $750 – for some people, that’s the cost of one meal! Granted it’s not a huge bottle, but you expect to pay more for even a drop of the world’s most expensive perfume. Even more disappointingly, there’s currently a bottle on ebay that’s starting at $9.99. That doesn’t really reflect all the “rare and precious ingredients” that go into it now, does it? Still, the shiny gold bottle will totally impress the woman in your life and make her think you spent a year’s salary on it.



Another venerable British department store provides the next item, and that’s the Gina court shoes, available at Selfridges for just $2100. Like the perfume, they are gold, to show off just how expensive they are, and they are tastefully decorated from wedge-heel to peeptoe in hundreds of Swarovski crystals in red, green and gold. They would make an excellent Christmas present because, let’s face it, when else in the calendar can you get away with wearing gold, red and green together? Especially in an unyielding wall of bling? Selfridges says they are a “walking style-statement”. I say for that kind of money you’d expect a more comfortable looking insole and a less plastic-y heel tip. But maybe that’s just me…



And it’s on to Harrods for our third ridiculously bling-y item. You might think that $6,750 is fairly modest for a high-end luxury handbag, but for that much money, wouldn’t you want something you might want to be seen leaving the house with? Not an over-the-top embellished child’s toy? Pity that whichever buyer signed off the Globe Clutch didn’t feel the same way. It’s impressive, in a “that’s a lot of gems” kind of way, but it’s also hideous. This is what happens when the worlds of luxury and novelty collide and it’s not pretty. The only person I can imagine wanting this is a 10-year-old boy who’s really interested in countries of the world. And even he might wish it was a bit less sparkly so he could actually focus a bit more. And it doesn’t even have the country boundaries in the right place (why is California a different color than the rest of the country?) Sheer madness….

  1. CRISTAL LOUIS ROEDERER CHAMPAGNE JEROBOAM 2012 (Notice that it takes two people to hold it; if it should fall . . . .  heads would roll!)


Of course, if you want to impress someone but you’re not sure of their personal tastes, shoes and handbags are a risky choice. Far safer to go with some lovely champagne, and with a covering handcrafted by master goldsmiths, the Cristal Louis Roederer Champagne Jeroboam 2012 is sure to impress. The champagne comes wrapped in ribbon that has been dipped in 24-carat gold, and there are only 400 bottles made, so you can be fairly confident that no-one else will get the same thing. It’s said to have an intense taste with “hints of white flowers, citrus and fruits, followed by warm notes of toast and wood”. You might think there are far cheaper ways of tasting toast and wood, such as making a piece of toast and nibbling on a table, but this is the most impressive way. Oh, and it’ll cost you $26, 000.



We’re back to Harrods for another tasteful bag, this one in unambiguous gold – the color of “look how much money I have”. Priced at a hefty $28,000 it is made of alligator skin and named after Ralph Lauren’s wife. According to the product description, it is also “extremely practical”, thanks to its multiple strap configurations and roomy inside pockets. Practical, that is, as long as you’re happy carrying around something that costs the same as a small car. Further proof that Harrods customers probably don’t inhabit the same world as the rest of us do – theirs is probably a world where the sea sparkles and California is picked out with orange gemstones…



Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s only high-end retailers that stock hugely overpriced gifts. The next three are from Amazon, that most universal of retailers. Whether it’s due to Amazon’s strange auto-pricing system that pushes the price up if stock is low, or whether you could genuinely spend the price of a house on a website best known for books and CDs is unclear, but should you want to do the latter, why not start with the Millage Flying Tourbillon watch  – currently priced at $99,000 (you read it right). It comes in several colors, has a watch made from alligator leather (what did these alligators do to the makers of luxury goods?) and a 7-year guarantee. The reviews may be somewhat cynical and possibly not entirely true but don’t let that put you off if you’re looking for something very, very expensive to put on your wrist.



So, where to put your very expensive watch? Why, a very expensive watch box of course! It holds 20 watches and is retailing on right now for $99,999.00, just a thousand dollars more than the watch it’s designed to hold. Sadly, a peek on Steinhausen’s own website reveals that the box is actually worth more like $250, which puts it into the luxury range but not the “need a mortgage” range. So, it looks like it might be a victim of a rogue Amazon pricing algorithm but still, if you wanted to buy it today there is the option of spending $100,000 on it (and still getting a dollar in change!) (“Oh Amazon, Oh Amazon, we bid thee farewell…”)



For our last Amazon item – nothing quite says “I love you” like a speaker cable, does it? And if you want to really spoil the audio-lover in your life, there’s a piece of cable on the UK Amazon site right now for $175,000 as shown in the screen shot above. The reviews say it’s a very good cable and definitely worth paying the extra money for but again, we’re getting into house-buying territory here. You may admire its “SOLID 100% PERFECT-SURFACE SILVER CONDUCTORS” (sic) and “MULTI-LAYER CARBON-BASED NOISE-DISSIPATION” (sic) but you may want to invest your money slightly more wisely.  (Only slightly??)



There are no mistakes on this next item, by luxury jewelers Tiffany. The price isn’t even on their website, presumably going by the mantra “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it”. But a little digging reveals that this rather bling-tastic bracelet is a cool $1.3 million. It has 59 yellow diamonds, and the rest of the platinum bracelet is filled in with boring old white diamonds, bringing the total carat count to over 100. It’s also, as you might be able to see, a bit ugly. It’s garish and heavy-looking and breaks the cardinal rule that gold and silver shouldn’t be seen together. But still, if you really want to impress someone just buy this and show them the receipt. They’ll have to love it, even if they don’t like it.  (They didn’t say how much it weighs)

AND NOW FOR # 1 !! (DRUMS, TRUMPETS, TUBAS and HARMONICAS in the background!)



But if you’re going to splash out in true billionaire style, there’s nothing quite like buying someone their own private island. When you look at the islands available, you might be surprised to see that they were less than a modest-sized London property – in fact, they start around $27,500 which wouldn’t buy you a garage in London. Mind you, they are the kind of windswept rocks off the coast of Canada that no-one really wants to live on. For real style, you need something like Rangyai Island, Thailand which is currently on sale for $160,000,000. It’s said to be a holiday paradise, with “beautiful white sand beaches and lush tropical forests” and comes with its own electricity generator and fresh water supply. It’s even close to Phuket Airport, for jetting in between meetings.  The drawback is that foreigners aren’t really supposed to buy Thai islands, and there are a few loopholes you might have to get through before being able to set up your summer house. Marrying a Thai national might do the trick but that might upset whoever you bought the island for. It might be best to stick to that handbag after all…

And that’s it!  WHEW!




Happy Thanksgiving







We plow the fields, and scatter
The good seed on the land,

But it is fed and watered
By God’s almighty hand;
He sends the snow in winter


The warmth to swell the grain,

The breezes and the sunshine,


And soft, refreshing rain.


He only is the Master
Of all things near and far;
He paints the wayside flower,

He lights the evening star;
The winds and waves obey him,

By him the birds are fed;
Much more to us, his children,
He gives our daily bread.


We thank thee, then, O Father,
For all things bright and good,

The seed-time and the harvest,
Our life, our health, our food.

Accept the gifts we offer
For all thy love imparts,

And, what thou most desirest,
Our humble, thankful hearts.


–Matthias Claudius (1740-1815)
translated by Jane M. Campbell




We plow the fields, and scatter
The good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered
By God’s almighty hand;
He sends the snow in winter
The warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine,
And soft, refreshing rain.

He only is the Master
Of all things near and far;
He paints the wayside flower,
He lights the evening star;
The winds and waves obey him,
By him the birds are fed;
Much more to us, his children,
He gives our daily bread.

We thank thee, then, O Father,
For all things bright and good,
The seed-time and the harvest,
Our life, our health, our food.
Accept the gifts we offer
For all thy love imparts,
And, what thou most desirest,
Our humble, thankful hearts.

–Matthias Claudius (1740-1815)
translated by Jane M. Campbell


The TOFW today and last evening: INCREDIBLE!  Thanks to EVERYONE who helped it happen!  I had a fantastic time!  I feel like if I start thanking individuals I’ll never be able to stop.  How about Jenny and her 4 children… Sheri’s interview of Natalie and Mallory (and some fantastic Studio C clips)… and Mary.  How about Gentri, Lisa, Tim, Hank, and Emily … and the local team … and the extraordinary TOFW HQ team … and the AV folks … and the AWESOME women and girls who came. WOWEEEE!!! How about our wonderful drive Deborah/Debbie (my favorite FriesIen specialist!… hope I spelled FreisIen right).  So many friends and dear ones — California buddies, missionaries I had the privilege of teaching in the MTC, nurses I taught at BYU (I always apologize… I knew so little)… Other presenters who came to support us (THANK YOU!!!)  People I haven’t seen in a coon’s age (and I understand coons live a long time!)  I loved having so many family members there — it’s the most I’ve had come to an event since I started doing TOFW almost 13 years ago!  I think the final count was 9 or 10 (including 2 in TOFG!); we tried to gather everyone for a picture but ended up with those in the attached photo.  It was fun “picking on” Marie, for whom my sister Charlotte and I are visiting teachers — she found me after that and said she was at the back of the room waving her arms (maybe some of you saw her, ha ha); she’s great, and a good sport.  So THANK YOU, SALT LAKE! I wish I could have visited with every single one of you, but I think I’d have turned 80 by the time I finished asking lots of questions and doing lots of listening.  And to those of you who got a magnet: remember to keep it away from hearing aides and other stuff!!!.  HA HA HA HA HA HA  … MUCH LOVE to ALL OF YOU!!!  I’m exhausted… I’m going to bed!  I apologize for anyone I left out or anything I meant to share and didn’t, or spelling errors, etc. etc. etc.  OH!  But before I ride off into the sunset, I want to thank ALL OF THE ABOVE and THOUSANDS OF OTHERS for a FANTASTIC YEAR OF TOFW and TOFG!!!  LOTS of miracles, LOTS of love, and LOTS of LIVING PROOF that we are BELIEVERS and FOLLOWERS.  Let’s keep believing and following, and let’s look forward to next year with ONE HEART, ONE FAITH.  Hope to see MANY of you in 2016!!! And now I really really really mean it.  I’m outta here……….

tofw slc nov2015