Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My attempt at Bohemian

A while ago, I decided to forsake civilization and live off the land out in the wilderness. So, I sold all my belongings and went into the woods to live the bohemian life, like Thoreau. I built a lean-to shelter, covered myself with bark at night to keep warm, fished out of a nearby stream for food and dug a latrine outside my camp. I also befriended the local wildlife including a little squirrel I named Snickers (because he stole my last snickers bar) and a magpie I named Maggie. Yes, this was going to be a great new life! After a while (about 5 hours), I realized that my new home was only about 20 feet from a footpath in a suburban salt lake city neighborhood, and only about 200 yards from a city park. It turns out that Maggie had actually been run over by a cement truck a few days earlier and tossed into the bushes by a pedestrian. Now I started to understand why she was so friendly and didn't fly away when I would pet her. I thought my heart was going to break. After these heart rending realizations, I decided to give up and drive back home in time to grab an In-N-Out Burger and catch the season finale of “24”. That’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to forsaking civilization and living in the wilderness like Thoreau. I have so many fond memories of my experience. I still think about Maggie sometimes and smile.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oh, My Soul Hungered

This song perfectly describes how I'm feeling today:

Oh, my soul hungered,
My heart cried out:
"Please Lord, release me
From pain and from doubt."
Oh, my soul hungered
The moment I knelt down to pray,
And felt all my doubts Wash away.

Oh, my soul hungered,
He heard my cry.
The voice of the Lord
Spoke peace to my mind.
Oh, my soul hungered-
Things that were old became new
When I learned to feel
What I already knew.

With all my heart,
With all my soul,
I wrestled before the Lord
To make my life whole.
He filled my hunger-
He fed my soul.

The truth that belonged
To everyone else
Is now a sacred part of myself.
Oh, I found out what I could not find,
When I heard with my heart
What I knew in my mind.
With all my heart,
With all my soul,
I wrestled before the Lord
To make my life whole.
He filled my hunger-
He fed my soul.

Oh, my soul hungered.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Excerpts from letters written in the final months of my LDS mission.

Victoriaville, Quebec April-June 1998

Dear family,

... the work is going great. And I was correct. The Lord was preparing this area for something big... Can you believe all these things that are happening?! Now I know why the adversary was pulling me down. These experiences have really fortified my testimony, especially after conference. I feel like shouting Hallelujah each time I think about all these things. There is a prophet! There is a GOD! Isn't it wonderful?! No matter how hard to understand or how great are the mysteries of GOD, this doesn't destroy the fact that it IS true. And what a miracle it is! "Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing Let the dead speak forth anthems of Eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free! I love this work! I love this gospel! DO IT! OK! I love you all. Be good.


How lucky I have been to serve in Quebec for 2 years. This is where I was supposed to come, and I feel that it is the only mission that could have changed my heart so much. My mission might not be the best 2 years of my life, but it certainly has been the best 2 years FOR my life. Last thursday, I was in a little interview with President Froerer, and we were discussing the work I've been doing, my personal life, my thoughts and feelings (as we always do in our once-every-two-month interviews). He said something to me that I will never forget "You're a changed man, brother." I was moved, almost to tears, as I realized it. All this time, I had been focusing on the things I couldn't do and my weaknesses. I had completely ignored to notice how much I have grown and changed. Not of anything on my part, for I owe it all to my Savior. I think that we, as humans, have a tendency to get down on ourselves. We need to notice the strengths we have and use them to overcome our weaknesses. I have learned so many profound truths in reading the words of the ancient prophets, as well as modern prophets. I am reminded of when I was in my first area. I had been praying to be closer to the Lord, to have a stronger testimony, etc... One morning, I woke up, and I heard a voice in my head which said, "Where much is given, much is required". Ever since then, I have tried to sacrifice for the Lord in order to receive his promised blessings..


We are teaching many people right now. Lise is still hanging in there. She has a hard time understanding the importance of [priesthood] authority... She LOVES the Book of Mormon. She knows it is true. I just have to help her understand what that means when the Book of Mormon is true.... The power within the pages of that book is more powerful than anything else on earth... The Lord is blessing this area despite my many weaknesses in this work. I truly feel unworthy of all the blessings the Lord has poured out on me these past few months.


Well, I'm loving every moment of my mission. I owe a great debt to my Savior for making all this possible. Amber, put your faith in Christ always. Live pure and expect that the Lord will bless you. Search him. Seek to get to know him. He is a being with feelings and thoughts and emotions. He knows you. He knows everything about you. Get to know him a little more. I know you will. I love you.


My faith in the Lord has never been tried so hard in my life. To tell you the truth, I was very very close to denying my testimony altogether. But as it says in the Book of Mormon, we don't receive a witness until after the trial of our faith. I have learned that this is true. I know that the Lord's hand is in this work. I know this. We are his tools. When I was in my first area, Elder Hales, my trainer, told me that there would be many times on my mission that I would say that the church can't be true. At the time, I thought to myself, "Yeah right!" He was right. I have never been tried so hard and tested in my life. I have been so close to just throwing my arms in the air and saying, "Forget! I give up!." The adversary works hard on missionaries. I want to tell you, my family, I know GOD lives. I know Christ lives! I know they have a plan for our happiness. Joseph Smith is the prophet of the restoration. He opened this dispensation which has the fulness of the gospel. Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet of GOD. It is all true. It is all good. And I love it. I love the Book of Mormon with all my heart. I cherish the Bible. I was reading in the Book of Mormon, and I learned a profound truth in Alma 34:14-16 Look at it. We need to always look unto Christ. Look unto Christ and live. He is the master teacher, the master healer. This is my testimony. I will not deny it. I cannot deny it. I love you all so much. Be good and always remember to look unto Christ and live! Think about Ephesians 2:8-9. Just to clear up any confusion on the subject, I will be finishing my mission 29 July 1998. Please keep me in your prayers. I know you will.


And I try to be worldly,
but I just can't cut it
Well, because it's like I know about what is what. About the fig tree lumber and the nails that were much larger than sixteen penny
And I've smelled
the wet straw that became a cradle.
I've feasted
When there was nothing
and caught a descending dove.
When there was need of repair,
I've called the carpenter's son
who stripped all the old paint off my house, and
gave me a new many-colored coat, free of charge (because I was a friend), and then I try to be worldly, like I can forget who I am or where I came from or something, but I just can't cut it because I know what is what.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Inevitability of Melancholy

"I've been looking out a window for 18 years. Dreaming. About what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it's not everything I dreamed it would be?"

"It will be."

"And what if it is? What do I do then?"

"Well that's the good part, I guess. You get to go find a new dream."

About 6 months ago, I began to think about my next big challenge. MBA? Done! Ironman? Threepeat! Another masters degree? Now I just might be able to get behind that idea. So, I started getting my papers together to apply to the MAcc program at the U. I talked to some counselors and decided I'd give it a whirl. I applied as a non-matriculated student so I could enroll and take care of some prereqs before starting the program in the fall. I was all ready to start classes when a good friend told me about an opportunity to audition for a community play in Draper called "An Ideal Husband" by Oscar Wilde. I memorized a couple monologues and showed up on the audition day, hoping to at least land a minor role...

...I got a lead role. Rehearsals commenced and it came as no surprise that I couldn't act. I dedicated the next 3 months of my life to this play. I ate, slept, drank Lord Goring, memorized literally hundreds of lines. I studied English accents, tried to get inside Lord Goring's head to understand what made him tick. Learned to tie a bowtie, apply stage makeup, and through it all became a close family with my fellow cast members. As the performances began, I soon realized that there was something beautiful and exciting about this acting thing. A feeling I had never felt before, and I caught the bug. We did 12 performances in all. On our last performance on March 26, 2011, I couldn't help but experience an intense feeling of melancholy. I had grown so close to the entire cast, the performances and the reactions of the audiences were an addictive drug, and I didn't want it to end.

Now, I'm over a week removed from our last performance. The melancholy has passed, but the memory remains. What is life but a series of adventures in which we dare to dream, pursue our dreams, experience incredibly intense emotions in the experience, the adventure ends, and the inevitable feeling of melancholy ensues...then the process starts over and we find new dreams, unexpected dreams, hidden talents. What a tragedy life would be to reach the end and realize that we had not lived. We had not taken a chance, risked it all on one hand and taken a chance to chase a dream. You might fail...and so what? You might not! So go for it! It's all in the making of a character.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Anxiously Engaged

I have to make a few comments about this past week. I competed in Ironman St. George a couple weeks ago. It was my first full Ironman since Kona in 2007. Some are saying that IM St. George has raised the bar for Ironman races around the world by being the hardest...even harder than Kona. I'm still not sure about that yet, but I will say that it was a dang hard course. Tons of climbing, and strong headwinds. Fortunately, the weather was largely in our favor. They had been predicting rain for race day, but the weather gods were smiling upon us as race day dawned clear and calm. Just a few comments about the race: The swim was COLD, but that didn't stop me from posting my best swim split ever - 1:06. The bike was extremely HARD, but that didn't keep me from finishing with a respectable time of 6:23. I had never been more eager to get off the bike and run a marathon. My marathon time wasn't great, but I still posted a time under 5 hours and beat my best Ironman time ever - 12:36:43. For my 3rd Ironman, it was probably one of the most empowering things I have ever done. There will definitely be many more. It was so nice to have my family there for support. My Grandma made a special trip down, and it was so so nice to have her there. I can't express the feelings of love I have in my heart for my family and their amazing support.

6 days later, I graduated from the University of Utah with a Masters in Business Administration. Definitely one of the most empowering days of my life. Once again, my family was there. My dad and brothers drove through the night and spent the bulk of the following day at graduation festivities. I was so happy to have them there. This has been quite a week!

Photo Courtesy of Deseret News

Now, I'm sitting here a few days after finishing my best Ironman ever and earning my MBA degree and wondering what's next. Ah, there will always be more adventures to pursue, my friends! Much love.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

TARP - a few random thoughts 18 months later

Yes, in some cases, it's better to let the free market be the free market, and sometimes markets fail. Let's just assume that they didn't pass TARP. What would have happened? Yes, there may have been a major collapse of the large investment banks, and yes, there may have been a lot of pain...in the short term. We don't know how bad it would have been, however I don't think it would have been as bad as the so-called experts predicted. On the other hand, what message has the government sent to Wall Street with TARP and all the bailouts? The message is that excessively risky behavior is OK, and if we take on too much risk? No worry. The government will bail us out again. So where does it end? By bailing out the largest investment houses, the government has simply reinforced the bad behavior, and now there is no incentive to discontinue it. TARP did nothing but reinforce the excessive risk taking....a problem that the government got us into in the first place with easy money from GSE's like FNMA and FDMC. TARP has only delayed a much greater collapse down the road. A collapse that will be infinitely greater because "Helicopter Ben" seems to think that printing money to increase the FED's balance sheet is just fine as long as there is short term liquidity in the market. In my opinion, inflated currency and China owning our debt is a much worse long term scenario.

The current financial reform legislation in congress is also going to ensure large companies that are "too big to fail" will continue to receive bailouts indefinitely. Again, reinforcing risky behavior and making private enterprise too heavily dependent upon the government. Something the founding fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson railed against.

After TARP passed, I remember hearing Bush say that he had to "abandon free market principles to save the free market". Totally incredible, and a complete load of crap in my opinion....

To be fair, I will say that Paulson's idea (TARP) was much better than Geithner's (buying preferred stock in the large investment banks). I hate the idea of the government owning majority interest in private corporations. Buying the illiquid assets due to the market failure was a better idea, and much more "market friendly" than the preferred stock route, which is what we eventually did with most of the TARP funds. Now what is the current administration doing? They're criticizing banks for tightening their lending standards, even though the loose lending practices are what got us into this problem in the first place.

There are a lot of really good resources on this, but for simplicity, I've pasted 2 NPR reports here. They give a relatively succinct and unbiased explanation of what caused the whole thing. Each episode is an hour long. Definitely worth the time, though.

Click on "stream episode".



Sunday, January 31, 2010