Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Last Call

It has only been two days since that last call.... it seems like a lifetime ago now.... 

"Aaron... Dad's gone."  

It was dark and early in the morning.  I jumped at the first ring... The blasted call that I knew was just up ahead, foreboding, lingering in the shadows, just waiting for the right moment....had come.   The call I wanted to avoid, the call that hung heavy in the air like an imposing humid fog.

I had written about Dad a few days before.  A post that came to me late one night  and I wrote without even knowing why... but I went with my gut.  What came out was: "The Last Farmer." Looking back, I now know why the prompting was there.  Something told me to sit down and capture some thoughts that were circling my heart and pay silent tribute to him in word, in my own way.  What I didn't know was that it would be the last one before he passed.  2 years ago I wrote "Who is this Man?" and then 10 years ago I wrote: "50 Words" as birthday gift to him.

We quickly dressed and left to help his wife with the details and tasks that always come after this type of call.  The busyness of plans and tasks kept my mind focused for a while.... a few hours later I went into his office to look for an email.... 

I made the mistake of sitting down in his chair....I pushed it back a foot or two.. and then looked all around.....and started to soak.....and then the rushing emotional waterfall came crashing down all over me and took over.

I can't express everything I saw... but there were quotes, and pictures, and drawings and doodles, and half written poems, lists of what he was working on, cards from kids and grandkids... I looked at all the placques on the wall, recognition from all over the world.  It was like being in the cockpit of his mind, seeing what he saw, trying to feel what he would have felt.  I started to focus on a few.  Here is one that caught my eye. 

He had this taped to his monitor:  I particularly liked No. 6: That stemmed the tide a bit as I laughed out loud... Then I read No. 8 and was caught off guard how I was immediatley filled up and rendered useless as I wondered what went through his mind as he so subtley wrote that one down... What is one more step after you have done all the obvious ones.  It felt so intimately personal and this one wasn't about the will, or the insurance.  It wasn't about that email response or grandkid birthday reminder.... This was something else....

What if this was something he was working out with his Maker?  Could it be that they were conversing about what that next step should be? Could he have been preparing to acquire the grace of "letting go" and being ok with that gesture.... to release his life unto the Father of his own free will without that clinging "one last look" ache?  Maybe that was the most courageous and noble thing he would ever do.... quietly, with no one looking, no one knowing.  So personal, so intimate.   

Is this a list that you or I will have posted on the mirror when we are 87 riddled with cancer?  Makes me wonder....

I have learned more about my Father in the past week reading oodles of stories from so many friends and family that I have been overwhelmed in just trying to take him all in... I can't.  It is the most beautifully heavy load I have had to bear in a while.  

I had the good fortune of taking him to the Dr's recently and so I picked him up in my little two seater sports car and the first thing he said was: "What possessed you to buy a two seater car?"  as only Dad could..... I laughed out loud...This meant he was still "here", his body was betraying him, but he was still in there... We went to the visit, we had some quiet time, and then he would say..."It will be nice to see Mom and Roland...... and my parents too."  I knew then he was leaning differently... before the fight was still there, now it was a reflection of what was just up ahead and he was ok with it.  I held back the tears and said "It will be so great Dad."   Afterwards he took me to breakfast.  He had an omelette and I found a bottle of Cholula because they didn't have Tabasco sauce... He doused it and ate the whole thing.  Simple, quiet, but the moment was filled with meaning for me.  I drove back and I told him how much I loved him.  He squeezed my arm.... I got out to help him into the house and he gave one of Mom's relentlessly ferocious desparate hugs that felt like he was hanging on to life itself and said "Thank you!".   

..... Yeah, that was a pretty good day.

HIs whole life passed before I hung up the phone.... My guess is he did the same thing as he received his last call from Heaven asking him if it was time and as he looked one last time through all of his life, he smiled, nodded and said, I am ready.

Now the glorious aching begins.... 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Last Farmer

Farmers are anything but rock stars. They get up early and work. They sow, plow, toil, and protect. In all of it, they beg God for rain.  No, they aren't rock stars but they are built like rocks.  Solid, unmoving, steadfast.  They have a gaze that sees things that most don't.  They squint and the world comes into focus.  They know when it rains when the familiar pain twinges in their knees.  They smell the weather...they feel the world.  They seem to just know things.... how things should and shouldn't be.  They know about right and wrong in their bones.  They move slowly, but always lean forward and their wit is lightning quick.  They don't need to use a lot of words to get to the real meaning of things.  

Yes..... my dad was a farmer.  

The last in his line.... 

When he was baling hay, tending to cattle and watering the crops, something beckoned inside... He was a cowboy that started to form big non-cowboy ideas... Ideas that grew and became bigger than the state of Arizona.  They needed more land to grow in and he needed a wider horizon. So, he traded in his boots for an airplane and took us around the world.   You can't take the farm out of the farmer..... Although he dined with Ambassadors and Presidents, he always put tabasco on everything he 'et and always fixed the car himself. 

He painted the world with his wit, he made every joke understandable in every language and culture.  He was welcome at every campfire in every nation.... Though no statues will be raised, no monuments with his name, he will leave a lasting legacy of himself.  

The seeds of his posterity have been sown deep in rich soil and have sprung forth in a multitude of goodness.  His gaze has shifted from vast foreign lands to the eternal hinterland of his mind... and lingers on those that have gone after him.  What joy he has in tending to these that are fruit of his vineyard of eternal increase.

Now, as he wrings every ounce he can with every interaction he has, he finds something to give, of himself.  He has done this his whole life.  He has been willing to give his life away to other people.

I am one of those other people..... 

He has given me laughter, he has given me understanding, he has given me hope, he has given me mirth.  He has given me the world, so that I could see things differenlty.  He opened up doors that few ever even knew existed, doors to inexpressible joy, doors that connected me to people all over this world.  Doors to diversity, doors to awakenings, doors to understanding, doors to empathy, and doors that allowed me to love more uniquely.

I do not know what he will give me next, but I know it will be something solid, unmoving and steadfast.  It will be like a rock, that I can find my footing with, where I can stand with surety and strength.  

Yes, my dad was a farmer,... The last of his kind.  

And although I will never really know what that means, and maybe, just maybe I don't need to as I watched and learned what it meant to him.  What makes a farmer isn't the crops, the animals and the land after all....What makes a farmer a farmer comes from within.  It is part of who he is.  I have spent my life watching him give his life away to others..... one precious piece at a time with every touch.

He is in charge of the number of days that are left now.... He will know when to give away the last of himself.....His eyes will be perfectly focused, his gaze clear and he won't use very many words...but it will be lasting, this I know.

And a coming day I will be left with the defining burning question that will cause me to refine my focus, raise my gaze, and sink me to my knees and decide if what I have given away thus far, has been enough.... and then spend the rest of my life making sure that it is.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Can't Find The Words

Just wanted to let you know... that I am struggling to find the words to connect with all the beauty and blessings in my life.....

                                                 I feel things, but I just can't find my way to the words right now.... 

Monday, January 15, 2018

40 Years Later.....

I received a Facebook friend request from someone the other day.  Happens all the time right?  Well, the name jumped out at me.  This was someone I knew in 7th grade in Jakarta, Indonesia.  Her name was Teri.  I remembered her and the memories started to flow with that invitation as the trigger.  I figured it was one of the those FB automated deals that pretend to say "Oh, this person really wants to friend you but not really because it is me the system that is really doing that." 

So, I accepted because she was someone I was fond of and hadn't ever connected with since.

She responded quickly saying she remembered me and that she did indeed invite me.  She was brand new on FB after all these years.  She said she friended two people from her time there in Indonesia....I was one of them.  Frankly, I was surprised... we were not that close and with us both of us being 12 years old, I wondered what it was that made her remember me.  She said she just had this nice image of me and that I was a nice guy. 

It was fun to connect and catch up.  We did that in one email.  But then she started asking me questions about things I remembered about her.   She was very curious.  I started racking my brain and even looked in my year book.  A few things came back and I shared those with her.  She then seemed to take a big leap of faith and then shared that people her whole life had told her she was "aloof" and "cold and this now bothered her.  She was exploring a way out, trying to figure who she was now in her 50's.  She was hoping that reaching out to people she knew in her life might help her find the answers.....

Hmm..... "How did we get here? I wondered".  Why me?  Why now after 40 years.....?  We were 12!! Not 16 or 17, but 12!  We were like..... little kidlets at best!!

Once I shrugged off the immediate questions I started to let the reality and seriousness of her pursuit distill down from my brain into my heart.  Wow!  How courageous for her to take this on... to  reach out to people like myself.... hardly someone she new but based upon one shred of a positive perception she took the chance.....Because remembering who she really is, is totally worth that chance!! Wouldn't you...?

 The more I thought about this, the more I realized I have been on this same journey for quite a while, maybe my whole life.  Maybe you are too?  It made me realize that we are all just 12 years old inside.....still even now..... struggling to sort the pieces of our life's puzzle.  Anyone that knew us when we were at whatever age we think will help us know who we were then and that maybe that will help us know who we are today.....because somehow, in life we have ironically forgotten something about this in all of our busy comings and goings.  Maybe others have figured it out.  I know I haven't.... I feel I am getting closer for sure but I can't do it without others.

So,  40 years later..... what a beautiful gesture... ask a friend for help, to better find oneself..... What an awesome purpose.  I feel very lucky and blessed to have been invited to re-friended an old friend again from the 7th grade.  We will get to know each other all over again and in the end... we will remain true to who ever we were then.  I imagine we will find that we are still ourselves now.... and I can't say if Teri or I will find any new answers, but I can say......that it will have been worth all the while and I will always be forever more glad.... that this came to be because of a single, solitary and simple lingering memory of.......

 "I remember you as nice"

Monday, January 1, 2018

In Memoriam: Shane Stewart

I lost a friend this week.  Just a few days before Christmas.  We were roommates in college.  We hit is off immediately and were friends for over 25 years.  We loved many of the same things.  We loved going on exploratory bike rides with no plan.....we loved playing the guitar together.  He was from a super small town in UT....Meadow.  His dad was a hay and cattle farmer.  He invited me down there many times.  He taught me spelunking and fishing.  Things I had never really done before.  He grew up on a farm and we helped the family with the calving during the Spring.  We both moved on from school, got married and had kids.  We went to his wedding, we stopped by several times during the years on the way to and from St. George to get a glimpse of his life and family.  He was the consummate outdoors person.  He got his degree in recreation and forestry.  He loved fishing, hiking,  hunting, backpacking and everything outdoors.  I believe that this became his religion.  Although a believer in God, he loved God's creations immensely.  He wrote poems and songs about what he observed through his particular lens.  He wasn't big, he wasn't a jock, he was humble and mild mannered and loved to chat.  Everyone was Shane's friend.... especially if you were over 70.  He loved Meadow..... it was home and it was in his blood. 

His favorite hobby was to go to the local hot springs.  It was an awesome spot in the middle of nowhere.  I remember the first time he took me when in college.... I had now idea where we were going.  He drove the truck out on these unpaved farm roads in the middle of the night and then all of a sudden we were there.  No signs, no was a small but deep hole.  Perfect for the locals, and for foreigners to never know about.  Over the years I learned that Shane would spend almost every Friday night there where he would play guitar whether there were people there or not. A few Friday's ago he dove in for the last time and didn't come back up. 

I learned this by accidentally reading about him in the news, which I never do.....  It had just happened the day before.  I scrambled to find his parents and siblings.  Finally had a very dear conversation with his Mother Sue.

The funeral was perfect....for us.  I am sure he hated that he wasn't cremated and strewn about in his precious mountains, but funerals are for us, not those that have passed.  This wonderful small town family carried themselves like royalty.   His 7 kids all were incredible.  They inspired all that were there with their laud and honor of their father.   His brother said things that struck to the core.  Although Shane was a troubled soul and had his demons as we all do, it was obvious he was beloved and will be remembered dearly.

I can say that I ever once passed Meadow without thinking of Shane Stewart.  Every single time the voice came ...."You should stop." I can't lie, it hurts a bit to know how many times I pushed the invitation aside.   I do cherish the times I said "Yes".  But there were too many "No's" to ignore...... I will stop more now, and honor Shane by sharing time with Bonnie, his wife and kids and parents.  I will tell the stories that they have already heard over ad over again... reliving the fond, funny and  beautiful memories I was able to be a part of.  I will learn more about Shane through his kids' stories.... Stories that will undoubtedly open my heart so that I can love him even more now in his passing so that when I do visit with him again, hopefully fishing or with guitar in hand he will smile back at me like he did the very first time I met him and know of the love and respect I have for him.

Shane, you were and always will be the light of Meadow and a light in my life.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Wannabe Twins

A fews years back, two little "critters" crept into our lives..... Obviously we know we had something to do with making that happen....but, we didn't choose who they would be.  No, we just let Heaven know that we were ok with Him sending us some random spiritual strangers... Yes, you could call it rolling the dice with life!

When they came, they were so little they couldn't do much, but then lickety split they started to crawl, then somehow figured out how to stand on two of their chubby little legs.  They teetered (by finding a way to put everything they could find into their mouths)...and occasionally tottered (managing to throw up like 139 times before they were 3) ...but managed to finally take first steps, find their balance, start walking and then off they were running around like bugs in summertime....direction-less but it didn't matter cause just moving was the point!

It was fun to see them get just as excited about a big empty cardboard box as they did a new tricycle for Christmas.  They were sweet and beautiful and they had no idea what lay ahead of them in the big whole world of Life.....We got to watch...

......They found light early on and "crawled" towards it... somehow they figured out how to stand close to it and although they teetered and sometimes tottered, they figured out how to find their footing and stand on their own two feet. Then, lickety split, they did a few years back, they started taking first spiritual steps, finding their balance and then BOOM!... they were running like jets in the summertime skies.... the difference this time is they knew exactly the direction they were headed....because now, it started to matter.

McKenna and Braden came two years apart, but act like twins.   They decided to go and leave on missions on the same day!.   They have been on their missions for 6 months now.   McKenna in Uruguay and Braden in Thailand.  You would have thought I would have written many posts about them by now....Funny, I have tried about a dozen times and every time I start writing I can't seem to finish... The emotions sneak up on me like snakes and I can't seem to find the words cause my eyes are blurry.

When I think about what they are doing, the purpose that drives them, the motivation that has led them to sacrifice a couple of years of their life to do something that they believe in stalls my heart..... and then......when I see these little pictures of them when they were just little people.....well, then it is like game over.  Don't get me wrong, it is awesome to experience the feelings, I just am not sure where to start putting 'pen to paper.'

You are never sure about the investments you make as a parent early on.... it takes so many years to see if they were the right ones to make... will you get a good return?  Will it have mattered?  To have tried to do things that seemed so simple, basic and slow at times... hoping for recognition later, or even just some sense that you did something right.

Missions are incredible springboards to see the ROI!  They are the world's greatest developmental stretch experiences ever and the cool thing is that the reason young people go, usually has nothing to do with what they will get out of their time themselves, rather, the motive is to serve others... ironically though, often the result of aligning one's actions to the right motives yields so much personal growth and learning after all.  There is magic in witnessing the growth of your kids right before your eyes, week to week in real-time.  It is hard to behold.  Like the rising sun's rays catching you in the eyes... too much to handle.  God promised us that if we sacrificed just a portion of what He gives us back to him, we would receive so many blessings that we wouldn't be able to hold them all in:
"....and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."   Malachi 3:10

What a privilege it has been to watch Braden and McKenna both double down deeper into this thing called 'Love They Neighbor' and figure out how to not let themselves get in the way, how not to make it about themselves, but how to just reflect the love God has for all of His children on everyone they meet.  And then to see what happens to their hearts each day they go deeper!  Malachi is right....there isn't enough room....

What I am learning in my 'advanced' that I am becoming more and more ok with that.  I don't have to find more room, it is enough to know it hurts that good for now....... Maybe in the next life, there will be these unplanned moments when we get the full download of all those blessings that there wasn't room for before, but there, in that cool future place, there will be.  That would be awesome no?

I can't wait....

Braden and McKenna probably are twins in a spiritual sense.... they probably made pinky pacts before they came down here that they would hang out together in the same family, go on their missions together on the same day and who knows what other promises they made... but I have a feeling these two have many other things up their sleeves... and we just happen to have the best seats in the house to watch it all unfold.....

I can't wait....

Monday, December 4, 2017

Lioness at the Gate

Where does strength come from?  Does it come with us or do we find it?  Or does it find us when we need it?  I am not sure.  Just when I think I "have" it, it seems so fleeting.  I admire people who seem to carry it with them for more than a few days....and then to see what they do with it.

Have you ever heard the term: Lioness at the Gate?  I have.... She is quite the creature.  She recognizes that the better way is not found by mimicking, or worse, joining the world. She recognizes the battle cry to fight for that which  is right and good that protects our homes and families from harmful influence wherever they are found. (Julie Beck)

I happen to know one of these Lionesses.....One who has found such strength and carries it constantly through the days of her life....  Here is how I know.....she is:

Solid as stone 
She is the person that you can break yourself against, cause she ain't splitting a single crack no matter what kind of waves crash against her.

Sassy as steel
How did she find her voice at age 2?  Hah, I will never know, but how completely unnerving at times, to be greeted at the door after working all day by this tiny redhead, with hands on hips letting me know that she was going to "chew me up and spit me out", if she wanted to.....I didn't know if I should hug her for being so cute, or put a lock on her door at night!!

Steady as an oak

When did she find her footing?  Oh that is easy... as soon as she freakin' learned how to walk!!   It is a total mystery but a marvel to behold in real life.

She fires straight, she doesn't mince words, she doesn't think about the most flowery way to say something.... she just shoots her words like a gun.  They come out, like bullets--to find their mark and then make an impact......maybe sometimes they leave just a little mark.....but even if they do, she is usually right.

She isn't that out in front "rah rah" girl trying to get the attention or getting everyone involved...  No, she is fiercely and quietly dedicated, loyal and always cheering a teammate or friend on no matter what.  She may not do everything they want to do, but when she decides, it usually sticks like a price tag on a plastic bowl.

She doesn't have all the answers, she doesn't always know what she wants or what to do, but she always finds her way....

Then, there is the other side of her "see saw".... You might think it is the opposite of strong, but it isn't. What you find there is the way she lives her life..... as smooth as a melody that finds its way through a song.  Her own song...not a cover of someone else's.  And not a tune that will get the most radio play, rather, the kind that gets you through a very long road cool....

The more I think about it,  she knew who she was at two, and really hasn't ever looked back.  She was littler than most, but not smaller....No, each passing day I see more beauty, more depth, more strength.....yes you could even say more 'bigger'.

Alexa, may you forever find the grace that you will need to keep vigil and stand guard and protect all you care about...

You are the Lioness of your Gate... something exquisite to behold and so regal to consider...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


The previews looked very cliche.... disfigured kid, over protective parents, token bullying at school and a story line bound to gratuitously pull on the viewers heart strings just because they could....

I went anyway..... and.....boy was I wrong.  It was one of those times in life when you were glad you were wrong....

Did they pull on my heart strings?  Oh yeah, but they did it in such an authentic and beautiful way that it was ok.  The lump came from the right place...

What I didn't realize that there was a lot more going on than the actual story itself.  Much like he did in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" , screenwriter and director Stephen Chbosky produced a string of amazing quotes that immediately penetrated my mind and wouldn't leave as soon as I heard them in the movie.

The first one that got me was:

“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind."

I am sure this wasn't the first time I had heard these words, but for some reason it sure felt like the first time, not sure why.  But it sat well inside as I simmered on it's meaning and application.  Being able to swallow being wrong or sometimes taking the blame even when you know it should be taken by someone else is kind isn't it?  What is it that drives our need to be "right"?  Do we buy into the idea that "right" equals "good"?  Being right is an inward direction, being kind is an outward focus.  . They both can feel good... but one doesn't last. In fact how often have you had that sudden sinking realization in the pit of your soul that just when you made sure you were "right", you knew in an instant that you were "wrong" because your motives were all screwed up?  Being kind frees you up... it gets you clear, it helps you find that peaceful lake inside.

One is childish, the other grown up.... which leads me to the second one:

“The best way to measure how much you've grown isn't by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grade point average-- though those things are important, to be sure. It's what you've done with your time, how you've chosen to spend your days, and whom you've touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.” 

It is nearly impossible to not go immediately into self-assessment mode on this one.... didn't you when you just read it? So, I have thought about this... what about you?  Where did you prioritize your time this year?  Did you make the right choices?  How would you know?    I gotta be honest... I missed on a few things here.  I was caught up in some of my own "stuff" for sure.... how easy it was to go inward...I was so grateful to hear these words ring true in my heart.  It has helped me shake off the chains that have sneakily snaked around me, keeping me from moving in the right direction.... This quote has given me some courage to pivot and think about how to prioritize my energy from "in" to "out", like Auggie and his sister did in the movie.  I hope my kids think about this one too...  They have so much to offer others....(which they do).

“Listen to the whispers.” 

Aren't some of the greatest and grandest moments in our lives defined by quiet whispers?  When you hold your first baby in your arms?  When that answer you have been searching for comes to you early in the morning just before you really wake up?  The feeling that comes when you witness kindness in the most simple ways.  You have your own set that have served you through your years.   The last one I remember was this past Monday, when as a family we watched the new #LightTheWorld video, it came right @ 1:12 min. in.  Very powerful.

When was the last whisper you remember hearing.....? Has it been too long?

At face value, Wonder tells a story about a disfigured kid and the challenges he and his family face....but I saw much more... to me it wasn't really about that,  it was a well crafted delivery system for empathy.... it empowers you to see from someone elses' shoes, which makes all the quotes from the movie so much more impactful and meaningful....

If it has been a while since you looked into your inner mirror, then I recommend putting yourself in a position to reflect and figure out some stuff.  I think you might be surprised.... as I was...

Here is one more just for fun.... maybe it will be the one that draws you close enough to go all the way......

“Who we are,” he said, underlining each word as he said it. “Who we are! Us! Right? What kind of people are we? What kind of person are you? Isn’t that the most important thing of all? Isn’t that the kind of question we should be asking ourselves all the time? “What kind of person am I?

Learning who you are is what your are here to do.” 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

UBER 2.0

Really?  This wasn't supposed to happen...Especially after believing I took the "wrong road" to find the right one faster...but here I am, back at Uber, different role, and UT based this time.  I am a 'remote' employee for the first time in my career.  I didn't know this was going to be part of my "New Chapter" given the many change this year has brought.  

I re-read my first post after leaving UBER, it was short and somewhat nostalgic.  Now I am back, all in and ready to figure out how to make this new gig work.  New CEO, many new leaders, 7,000 new employees despite the chaos and internal deconstruction that has taken place.  Time for a great turnaround story!  Maybe one of the biggest ever.... I feel so grateful the opportunity came my way the way it did.

I am not sure what will happen, but I know it will be very different and very big.  I hope I can stretch fast enough to keep up and contribute in a meaningful way.  The cause is still so cool.... Transforming cities and they way people interact and move.  Creating tons of new jobs for all kinds of people all over the world, opening doors where none could be opened, reducing pollution, eliminating congestion, saving lives everyday, creating new social experiences in transformative ways, innovating and paving the way for autonomous vehicles for the future.

I hope I can help.... wish me luck k?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Find Your Footing.....Find Your Voice

A few weeks ago we received a hand written letter from McKenna from her mission in Uruguay.  Can I just say how incredibly fun it is to get a pure handwritten letter these days, when email is so much easier and faster.  In her letter she talked about her first two months... the ups the downs and the joy she is learning from both.  She shared her journey of trying to navigate success in her chosen new way of 24x7 with someone who doesn't speak her language, who doesn't share all the same values, very different personality and who sometimes lets her insecurities rule how she treats others...

She encapsulated this journey by writing: 

"I am trying to find my footing now, so that I can find my voice later...."

As soon as I read those words, they immediately stuck, like pinning a specific location on a google map.  It was like pure intelligence flowing into my mind... somehow I knew this was important despite not knowing what it exactly meant for me in that moment, but I knew what it meant for her.....that right now, in her world, everything was about forming a firm foundation..... getting more comfortable with Spanish, connecting with her companion, building trust with local church members and leaders, becoming more accustomed to the people and their customs first.... so that a bit later, after these things were in place, she could literally launch herself into a new orbit, like this picture of her above, with all her energy and spirit.......into a place where she could totally express the deep feelings she has in her heart without constraint, yes...even with total abandon. That space......where she could explicitly share her testimony and the love she has for Heavenly Father and Christ to others in her own unique way.... with her very special individual "voice."

When I heard these words from her letter, my mind could instantly see that place, where she, with her radiant face and spirit, was able to share her personal experiences, beliefs and values to others who might be interested in learning what plan God might have for them.  Where her heart could leap for joy as she could see how her efforts might lead any one to greater happiness by feeling God's love for them.

So, once I finished pretending to play this out for her in my minds eye...... I eventually turned those words inward where I found many questions looming.....Where is my footing?  Where is my voice?  Am I on solid ground?  Am I sharing all that I should be authentically with all my energy?

In LDS scripture, there are 25 references to the phrase:  "serve with all your might, mind and strength"  One of my faves is:  
"Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day."   D&C 4:2
Aren't we all in the service of God?  Maybe your God has a different name..... Maybe you don't go to Church, but I bet you serve others......probably very often, even daily....... A wise man named Mosiah said that when we serve each other, in essence we are only serving our God.  

A horrific thing happened this week in Vegas.  59 people died and hundreds more were injured from a shooter who ended up taking his own life.  Hard to even consider how this could happen, much less any motif...Truly soul shaking and evil at its core.  What was amazing was the collective response of so many people that have come out to support the relief efforts.  Many heroic stories that we don't even know about....too soon, but they will come out in time.  In fact, so many people have volunteered so many things that relief command couldn't even handle it all.   Talk about serving others...... What  a huge support from the religion, no politics, no race, no gender issues....they just came forward because they knew in their hearts that serving was the right thing to do.

Yes, America was certainly shaken with the news..... but within hours, I would say she found her footing......within 1 day, I would say she found her voice..... a collective voice that has united us all and enabled us to find our own.....

I think in life we all get often isn't just tragic events, but small things that can trip us up.  The wrong attitude, a bit of pride, a hurt feeling, feeling alone, feeling criticized, experiencing loss....are just a few.  What I think I am learning from McKenna is that it isn't about whether we lose our footing, but that we constantly need to find it and secure it, so that then, and only then.... can we share all the contents of our hearts with others....with all our abandon.....yes! even with all our might, mind and strength and feel the confidence that Heaven is smiling down on our efforts.

I am not sure how blameless I will actually be as I stand before God on that last day...... but I would like to believe, that if I can help you and you can help me to get clear about where we are standing and then what we are standing for that when asked I will be happy to say: "Oh yes, here is a good and faithful servant, please may they enter into your rest....."

Go for it McKenna, I can't wait to hear what happens when your voice is found... and then heard, the music it will make, the joy it will create, the closeness people will feel towards Heaven as a result.... I gotta tell you, in my book, you came with it as a little girl.  I have been listening to it your whole life, and it is so very sweet....