2007 in Pictures

I know this is a little late, but we finally got our pictures from last year organized. Come take a look at our 2007 in pictures!


A Fairy Tale for Unwitting Adults, Part 1

It appears that there are people who think I am going to hell for believing in Christ, only because my way of doing so differs from their way. Conversely, experiencing this feeling has opened my eyes to the fact that I may be thinking the same thing about others because they do things differently than I do them. My wife likes to tease me when I'm upset at someone and ready to tell them "where to go" - she reminds me that whatever judgment I pass on someone else will be the judgment passed on me (see Matt 7:2). She is probably not too far off.

For the two weeks of Early Voting that I spent racing around the county with VVPATS, 2nd VBM Declarations and SOS-mandated security seals (no wonder I went a little crazy!), I rediscovered a radio station that I hadn't listened to in years. It's a Christian radio talk show that jumps between recorded sermons, books on tape, Christian politics and a lot of fundraising. I really enjoy the program between 6-9pm, which consists of mostly archived sermons from pastors with heavy southern accents. "Ya got ta git intersted... intersted in Jesis..." A lot of the teachings I heard while driving from polling site to polling site made me reflect on my beliefs and how I fit into the broader spectrum of Christianity.

One day I was listening to this station and the host was doing a question and answer show. I tuned in late so I didn't hear the prompt, but I did catch the tail end of one of the questions. I heard the questioner mentioning Moses and other ancient prophets and then he referred to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and Bruce R. McConkie, saying something about Mormons always excusing their leaders by saying "they're only human." I gleened from context that he found it ridiculous that people who call themselves Christian would align themselves with such sinful men, whereas as those aligning themselves with the Ancients were ok because of the obvious purity and perfection of the prophets of the Bible. The radio host agreed and quickly summed up the Joseph Smith story (emphasizing the lack of evidence for Smith's claim), ending by calling the whole story of Mormonism a "fairy tale for unwitting adults." I'm not a fightin' man, but I'm just glad I hadn't been told that to my face.

That phrase - a fairy tale for unwitting adults - stayed with me for many days. Not long after, I was working with a large group of temporary staff at the office and one of them noticed that I was LDS, just like her. She talked to me about her experience in south county, where the missionaries are sometimes heckled by "born again Christians" and she finished by expressing her dismay that one of "their" main churches was just up the street. "Now we have the Christian Right. They hate us!" Despite my common affiliation with this woman, I was just as taken aback as when I heard the radio host denounce my faith. What's with these people! Or "we people" I guess, since I'm in there, too.

The delineation between born again non-denominational Christians and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has nothing to do with doctrine or beliefs or anything of substance - it's pure perception. I'm not a doctrinal scholar on either side of the "line" but it seems to me that born-agains and Mormons have a lot more in common than many would like to believe. We both believe in Jesus as the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. We both believe in the power of the Atonement and that through Christ, we can find joy in this life and in the life to come. We both look forward with an eye of faith to the Second Coming and see the signs of the times all around us in the world. We both believe that God reveals his truth to His prophets, and that those truths are recorded in recorded in scripture to teach us and give us an example of how we should live. This list could continue but for brevity I'll just say this: for two theologies that are so closely related, there sure is a lot of hard feelings between the two.

I had a friend who welcomed two Christian men into his home to witness. They shared their message and stood up to leave, but before stepping out the door left one last thought: "By the way, make sure you find a church where you can worship Jesus, but don't join with the Mormons or the Jehovah's Witnesses." I once spoke with an LDS colleague about his experience with a non-denominational Christian church. He said that they breed their children to hate us and have classes for Sunday School just to teach bashing the Mormons. As I look back and begin to catalog all of the perceptions I've heard from both sides of the spectrum, I feel like I'm in the middle of a high-school love triangle. To make an analogy, I guess the person that both sides are fighting over would be Jesus (I hope that's not irreverent). Both sides want so badly to be looked upon by Jesus as the best and most faithful but, as high school students often do, each side feels insecure in their diligence and position and therefore belittle the other to attempt to compensate. Inaccurate as it may be, that analogy seems to reiterate itself every time I hear the born again vs LDS debate. But that's just my perception.

So who wins? In the end, it's got to be both sides who decide to put doctrinal differences aside to seek for a higher level of understanding. We live in a world full of mislead perceptions blown out of proportion that result in hate and crime and war and death. Values and morals are shifting as religious institutions - Christian or otherwise - lose their foothold in society. The last thing we need is bickering and stubbornness between the individuals who call themselves Christian and who should be uniting to do good for Jesus' sake.

I may need to split this post into two (or more). I'll end part one with this:

That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:12-22


Chúc Mừng Năm Mới

Cung chúc tân xuân - Xin chúc bà con một năm mới vui vẻ, đầy hạnh phúc, sức khỏe dồi dào, tiền vô như nước, an khang thịnh vượng, mọi sự như ý, and all that good stuff.

Happy New Year


xanghe Makeover

Well, I'm going to miss the old blog, but I need a change. I've been concocting this design for a long time now, and I have much more tweaking to do in the future, but I thought I'd put it up first to see if I can handle leaving the old design behind. I put so much time into that thing... Oh well, times change.

The bumble bee up there was bouncing around that thistle blossom when I walked by. I was at Bryce Canyon with some friends right after I got married and we were heading back to the car. I was a little camera happy (ever since digital cameras came out) and thought this little bee might enjoy a photo shoot since he was working so hard. Several months later, I came across that picture again and the thought hit me that I feel like a bee sometimes, always searching and looking and gathering. I might not even know what I'm looking for, but it feels like I'm constantly seeking for something. Currently it's a new job, but that's because the election is on Tuesday and I'm super sleep-deprived so I'm sure as things calm down I'll relax and go on enjoying my job. At that point, I'll start searching for something else, and so the cycle continues. I guess that's why I put a bee at the top of the old blog - I wanted something that said something about me.

I've put away the old design and I'm going for something totally new. I have a whole stack of lined paper from school that isn't being used, so I'm going to start typing my blog posts on that paper and taping it up to my window. I'll put all the sidebar stuff on different sized post-it notes so I can line it down the side. Feel free to rearrange them if you feel like it. And the title is on a static cling sticker, just in case I feel like moving it once in awhile. Right now, the view from my window is from a mountain lake high in the Uintas, I'm laying on the ground looking up at the night sky framed by towering trees. Ahhh... it's calms me just to think about it.

So there's my new blog. Hope you like it. Now I've got to somehow find a way to get that bee back into this blog...

travel log
  • 02.13.08 - to the temple with Luan and his mom, good to be back
  • 02.14.08 - Mẫu's alive! and staying for the weekend
  • 02.15.08 - floor hockey and Thái food makes for some strange dreams
  • 02.17.08 - frisbee and swamp monster at the park: fun but I'm pooped!
  • 02.19.08 - just read Triết's response to my last post - game on!
  • 02.20.08 - raining and expected to continue through Sunday - thank goodness!
  • 02.21.08 - 3-hour nap is a bad idea right before bed
  • 02.23.08 - to the beach to watch kites, a baptism @ 5pm, and homemade bulgogi - what a day!
  • 02.25.08 - just gave myself a haircut - woo, cold head!
  • 02.26.08 - 75° and spring cleaning - couldn't feel better
  • 02.27.08 - fed the elders bún đậu tonight - think it's their first time
  • 03.01.08 - working on new background...
  • 03.02.08 - finalized javascript to change background without muffing up my other scripts
  • 03.03.08 - fhe: "In his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:12)
  • 03.07.08 - some decisions are harder than others, but some are downright excruciating
  • 03.08.08 - there is life after work... i almost forgot
  • 03.11.08 - the distance between good and bad is much shorter than between better and best
  • 03.12.08 - conversion is sometimes a gradual process, so much so that we don't even notice
  • 03.14.08 - for some reason everything was a little harder today, looking forward for bed!
  • 03.15.08 - last night after blog reading, I missed OnlyBlue, today I find she's back
  • 03.16.08 - best day of my life!
  • 03.19.08 - "Pray for the answer that they've been looking for"
release notes v1.0 - FINALLY DONE!
  • 12.07 - first thought of starting a new blog
  • 01.08 - busy with election stuff but blog design still on back burner
  • 01.13.08 - first idea to imitate jk rowling with the "desk" theme
  • 01.28.08 - start sketching current design, breaking down development into phases
  • 02.02.08 - election only days away but still drafting final plans
  • 02.04.08 - v0.6 LAUNCH
    • main components (blog body, sidebar, header, etc) designed and implemented
    • styling for font, links, drop caps, etc. finished
  • 02.07.08 - v0.8 LAUNCH
    • image style to imitate polariod
    • moveability - post-it notes and static clings can be repositioned by drag and drop
    • release notes styled and written
  • 02.16.08 - travel log (beta) added in hopes of catching the mundane
  • 02.22.08 - lightbox 2.03 reinstalled and working fine (hopefully - let me know otherwise)
  • 02.26.08 - v0.9 LAUNCH
    • travel log seems to be working, so I'll keep it
    • lightbox also seems to have passed the test, so it's a keeper
    • some credits/info added to bottom (will expand)
    • keeping old Viet terms in archive for future viewing
  • 03.18.08 - v1.0 LAUNCH
    • installation and testing of time-sensitive background completed (for now)