The Next Time

The next time some guy cuts you off in traffic, pray for him—like really, really, pray for him. Pray that he might have all the good things in life that would make his life truly incredible.

The next time your kid breaks something of yours that you love, take her in your arms until you’re ready to let the item go. Then tell her she’s better than any silly whatever-it-is.

The next time you’re stuck in traffic, find something beautiful, such tree, a cloud, or a sunset. Stare at and absorb it until the joy of it almost overtakes you.

The next time you see a casual acquaintance, talk to them like you really care, like they’re your best friend in the world.

The next time you get a ticket, fine, or extra charge for something, humbly accept it and genuinely wish the messenger a good day.

The next time you spill, break, or accidentally delete something, step back and laugh. Laugh and laugh like a loon until you really feel like laughing. Then laugh more.

The next time you have a private prayer, pray until you cry.

The next time your spouse says something that bothers you, take a moment to collect yourself, and then walk up to her and kiss her like there’s no tomorrow.

Sometimes changing a life doesn’t mean doing it right every time, just the next time.

I Will Never Become Angry Again

I read a really good blog entry yesterday by a mother who was unhappy with the kind of parent she’d become, and how she was able to change. Her story is touching, and got me thinking.

Our family has a tradition of giving something to Christ each Christmas—such as a resolution or change that we know the Lord would appreciate. Last year, Jenni and I both independently decided we wanted to give up our anger towards the kids. We’d both been shouting at them more often than we knew we should, and we were determined to stop. So we decided that we’d give up our anger. Obviously, there would be feelings of frustration and disappointment, but we wouldn’t allow ourselves to become visibly angry. I should say up front, we’ve never laid hands on our kids. We don’t even spank (and no, I’m not making a statement about whether or not spanking is okay—we just don’t do it at our house). But we have been known to get unnecessarily loud and use mean voices. I don’t think we’ve been verbally abusive, but we’ve been bad examples of how to handle a negative situation. It has only ever exacerbated the problems we’re reacting to.

This last Monday for family home evening we talked about last years gifts to Jesus, and Jenni and I just looked at each other and laughed. We both failed. We’d become visibly angry almost regularly lately.

But then I read the blog entry and it got me thinking more about it.

When I was a teenager (mind you, the quintessential time for emotions to get out of control), I didn’t get angry with people. I got frustrated with stuff, but never people. I had a teacher in college who laughed when I said regarding some negative current event that had taken place, “That makes me so mad!”

I turned to him, and said, “What’s so funny?”

“Sorry, it’s just that I can’t imagine you mad!”

Then I laughed, and realized that I didn’t show anger in public anytime that I could remember. I do remember thinking, “I wish that were so in private, too.”

Jenni was told similar things when she was young, and even someone in our ward said that they couldn’t picture the two of us angry.

My first thought was that I must be quite the hypocrite to make my public life so drastically different than my private life. But that too, got me thinking. If I can choose in public to not become visibly anger, why should I be unable to do it at home.

There’s a talk by Elder Lynn G. Robbins, called Agency and Anger that is an absolute masterpiece. One line of that talk is,

“Understanding the connection between agency and anger is the first step in eliminating it from our lives. We can choose not to become angry. And we can make that choice today, right now: ‘I will never become angry again.’ Ponder this resolution.”

I highly recommend you read the whole talk, but that paragraph sums it up pretty well. Anger is a choice. It’s true there will be frustrations, disappointments, and unmet expectations, but how we react is still our choice.

So I decided to renew my gift to Christ. The way I figure, I was setting out to overcome my anger, and it’s not the next year’s Christmas for two more weeks, so I have two weeks to fulfill my effort.

And I’m going to do it. Especially toward my kids and Jenni. I won’t become visibly angry. I’ll be firm with the kids as necessary, and I’ll see that there are consequences for bad behavior, but I won’t shout. I won’t let my temper flare. I simply won’t do it.

I’m doing this for me, I’m doing it for my family, but I’m mostly doing it for the Lord (after all, it was His birthday present, right?).

And just to keep myself accountable, I’ve created an anger calendar. It’s a simple PDF with Elder Robbins’ quote and three pages laying out every day of the year. I’ve taped it to my bedroom wall, with a multicolor pen stringed to it. Every day that passes that I don’t get angry, I’ll X out in black. If I become visibly angry, I have to X it out in red. My goal is to first make it a week (I’ve already made it one day-WAHOO!!!), then a month, then the full year. If I can make it a year, I think I can make it a lifetime. Maybe I’ll even reward myself for each progressive state.

And, just in case you’re interested in trying it out yourself, you can download the PDF for yourself. I’ve long known that no change ever happens in the future—resolutions start today or they don’t start at all, so the beginning date is the first day of this week.

What do you think? Want to join me, and try it for yourself? If you’re not ready to commit long term, start with today. Just try for a day. Then try for a week. If you can make it a week, maybe you can keep it going.

Love at Home

Love at HomePresident David O. McKay said, “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”

(quoted from Theodore Hesburgh, Reader’s Digest, Jan. 1963, 25; in Richard Evans’ Quote Book [1971], 11).

“Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.”

-Bible Dictionary, “Temple”

“Arthur Gordon shared this story in a national magazine:”

“When I was around thirteen and my brother ten, Father had promised to take us to the circus. But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgent business required his attention downtown. We braced ourselves for disappointment. Then we heard him say [into the phone], ‘No, I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.’

“When he came back to the table, Mother smiled. ‘The circus keeps coming back, you know.’

“ ‘I know,’ said Father. ‘But childhood doesn’t.’ ”

—Arthur Gordon, A Touch of Wonder (1974), 77–78

I would love to have a shirt that says, “Sorry, I can’t come. My kids are growing up that day, and I don’t want to miss it.”

A happy, loving home life involves living each day to the fullest. This is an account related by Thomas S. Monson:

“Elder Monte J. Brough, formerly of the Seventy, tells of a summer at his childhood home in Randolph, Utah, when he and his younger brother, Max, decided to build a tree house in a large tree in the backyard. They made plans for the most wonderful creation of their lives. They gathered building materials from all over the neighborhood and carried them up to a part of the tree where two branches provided an ideal location for the house. It was difficult, and they were anxious to complete their work. The vision of the finished tree house provided tremendous motivation for them to complete the project.

“They worked all summer, and finally in the fall just before school began, their house was completed. Elder Brough said he will never forget the feelings of joy and satisfaction which were theirs when they finally were able to enjoy the fruit of their work. They sat in the tree house, looked around for a few minutes, climbed down from the tree—and never returned. The completed project, as wonderful as it was, could not hold their interest for even one day. In other words, the process of planning, gathering, building, and working—not the completed project—provided the enduring satisfaction and pleasure they had experienced.

“Let us relish life as we live it and, as did Elder Brough and his brother, Max, find joy in the journey.”

Thomas S. Monson, “Treasure of Eternal Value,” Liahona, Apr 2008, 2–7

The sheet music for this piece is available on my website.

Kids Say the Awesomest Things

Having four kids under the age of six is always an adventure. As I type, two are shouting from their bedroom, “Mama, can I go potty?”

How long since they went to bed? Five minutes. Oh, and one of the two hasn’t even started potty training.

Jenni and I pretty much have an ongoing ticker of Hathawayism on our Facebook profiles. Here are a few recent ones:

It’s lunchtime, and Jenni’s getting lunch ready. Tootles says, “I’m impatient, so give me lunch first.”

Why dance around the issue? Just say it straight!

This one was also Tootles:

“Mom, you’re welcome to be my Grandma.” – Tootles (Grandma doesn’t make him do chores)

This next one was while the kids were getting ready for bed a couple nights ago:

Lunch Bucket: Baba, the South Pole is the coldest place in the WHOLE world.

Me: Well, good thing we don’t live there!

Lunch Bucket: If you want to go there, you have to get really warm and only two people can go so they can take care of the penguins.

Yeah, I guess someone’s got to take care of the penguins.

This just in–like really, just in. I almost clicked publish, when I heard this conversation:

Lunch Bucket: If a mouse would bite me, I would be dead

Tootles: You’re being MEAN

Lunch Bucket: You don’t know if there’s a mouse, because it’s dark. Even if there is a mouse, you don’t know. By the time right now, a mouse would be getting me.

I love kids.

Audioblog: We Make The Rules

We Make The Rules

One thing I like about being married and being a parent is that we get to make our own rules. Society has it’s own ideas about what we should or shouldn’t have in our family and household. But in our house, we make the rules.

Recording Imagination

Recording Imagination

Lunch Bucket walked in on me as I was finishing up a recording session today.

“Are you almost done working?”

“Almost. I’ve just been recording some stuff.”

“I want to record my imagination.”

“Okay.”

So I hit record and said, “Okay, tell us your imagination.”

After recording, we listened to it, and the rest of the family came to listen. Then Lunch Bucket said, “Squeaker wants to record her imagination, too.”

“Okay,” I said, “Lunch Bucket, you help Squeaker share her imagination.”

So Lunch Bucket then used our tradition baby girl ventriloquist voice and gave Squeakers imagination.

Then of course Tootles wanted a turn, so I got a recording of his imagination, too.

Praying for Lindbergh

One of the projects I’m working on is compiling the autobiography of my grandma, Leola Jex Freshwater Curtis, who died when I was 13. She’s a hero of mine, and I’m touched by her writings. She wrote enough stories and letters about her life to fill a book, but never compiled it into one work. I’ve already hit 50,000 words, and there’s a lot more to compile. Anyhow, here’s a sample she shares about the night Charles Lindbergh made his historic flight in a one-man plane. She was a young girl at the time, and was staying with her Grandma, Louisa Watling Jex.

 

I was at Grandma’s house the night Lindbergh flew across the ocean. I still remember her prayer that night. As she asked a blessing on the food, she also talked to the Lord about watching over this brave boy, alone over the great ocean. “Please help the young flier Lindbergh to get across the ocean in his plane,” she said, “and help him to return safely.”

I can still see the tears rolling down her cheeks. I marveled that she could care so much about someone she didn’t even know.

I felt so sure Heavenly Father would watch over that plane, even if he had to reach down from heaven to hold the plane up in case the pilot got sleepy.

That night Grandma made me a little nest on my side of the feather bed. She always made a little round place just for me, so I wouldn’t fall off the bed and so I would not roll onto her side. Then she explained to me how big the ocean was and told me it had taken three weeks for them to cross it in a boat, and here was this boy all alone with no one to keep him awake. We talked awhile about how hard it would be to guide a plane when it was dark, with no lights, and all that water under him. If he went to sleep the plane would fall in the water, and there would be no one to get him out. He had to stay awake many hours and there was no one there to help him, or to wake him if he got sleepy.
“He’s such a boy,” Grandma said.

Nobody could have been happier than we were when we got the news that Lindy had landed safely. I brought in the paper that showed him getting out of his plane. All the people were crowded around so glad to see him. That night when it was my turn to say the prayer, Grandma said, “Remember dear, to thank Heavenly Father for taking that boy safely across the ocean.”

I remembered. I knew Grandma’s prayer helped him, and the prayers of many others.

Essential Questions

Essential Questions

All of us are effected by cancer, whether by personal experience with it, or by a friend or loved one who’s been through it. The more I speak to or hear from victims of cancer, the more I’m convinced that cancer is not a matter of death, but a matter of life. Those who suffer with it find more meaning in life, more gratitude for life, and more love of life.

One of my duties at my job is to record speeches held, and in this one, a man with a severe case of cancer was invited to speak. The man is a friend of mine, and I was deeply touched by his words. I pray for him and his family, and I thank him for this beautiful life perspective he offered on this occasion.

Interview with Baba

One of the major focusses of this blog is to talk about how I want to be a great dad, even with everything else going on in my life. I decided to interview my kids on the subject. I asked the questions, and wrote their answers just how they spoke.

What are some things dads can do to be better dads?

Lunch Bucket: Be gentle to Rosie (Rosie’s a dog who’s visiting for awhile), and don’t be frustrated, and that won’t hurt their kids ears. And help their kids and teach them so much of the gospel.

Tootles: Better dads are good.

Me: Anything else?

Tootles: Nope.

What is your favorite thing to do with your dad?

Squeaker: (smiles)

Tootles: The pirates song question. I talked about that. Be nice, and fight with the pirate song question.

Lunch Bucket: Play games – good games that people don’t shoot.

Me: Anything else?

Tootles: Be gentle with Rosie with Dad.

Tell me a story from your family history – or something about your ancestors.

Lunch Bucket: I don’t know one.

Tootles: A story about Great Grandma Hathaway, and they go to the Family history house.

Me: What happens?

Tootles: They get treats at the Family Histories class.

What would you like your dad to do for you?

Tootles: All the family toys and all the family slides, and all the family clouds.

LB: Help me pick up the toys. And help our mothers to do laundry.

. . .

I’m not sure I like where this is going… she’s been talking to her mom too much. I better stop now before she mentions dishes.