Monday, December 29, 2014

Ten signs of depression

Many people are ill informed regarding depression, or are not sure what is meant when the word depression is used medically. This is much more than feeling down or blue on a bad day. Depression is a relatively common disorder in which some one feels down or depressed for two of more weeks consecutively for most of the day. Approximately 20-25% of adults will experience at least one episode of depression in their life time. This is likely an under estimate due to the social stigma associated with feeling depressed. Depression is the leading cause of disability world wide and is the most common mental health disorder (WHO). Depression looks a little different from person to person. So what is depression? To meet criteria for depression, a person must have:

1. Depressed Mood

2. Anhedonia or sudden loss of pleasure in things you used to enjoy

They will also have some combination of the following:

3. Sudden, unintentional weight changes and appetite changes

4. Moving much more rapidly or slowly than is normal.

5. Insomnia or Hypersomnia

6. Chronic fatigue or loss of energy every day

7. Feelings of worthlessness

8. Excessive guilt

9. Decreased ability to think of concentrate and make decisions (indecisiveness).

10 . Thoughts of death or suicide

If you are feeling depressed or if a loved one is, there is hope. There are a number of therapies and medications that are effective in reducing depression. Additionally, increased exercise and changes to sleep habits are also beneficial for increasing mood.

No responsible person can recommend that depression is just a phase, or that a person experiencing depression just needs to pick themselves up by the boot straps and get back to work. I advocate hard work and patience, but once someone is in a pit, they often need a helping hand to boost them out of that pit. If you would not recommend that someone just will their liver back into good health, you should not recommend they just will their depression into happiness. It is true that there are some things a person can do at home to feel better such as exercise, sleep better, and eat healthy, but those are also recommendations for healthful physical living as well. These measures are invigorating and increase energy levels.

The aspect of depression that often makes it hard to snap out of it, is the constant depressive thoughts that many feel. Thoughts of worthlessness, thoughts that make you feel guilty, and thoughts that generally demean and attack you are what help to perpetuate the feelings of depression. It is primarily these thoughts that are the targets of psychotherapy treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Do not feel ashamed if you struggle with feelings of depression. Do not hide it from those close to you or your doctor. As you bring others in on what many feel is their secret struggle, you will feel the love and support you need to get better. You will receive the treatment necessary to break the self feeding cycle of depression. Talk to your doctor, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist. Your doctor can recommend you to a competent mental health professional. Psychologist can help you work through therapy and psychiatrist can offer you medications to help with depressed mood. The best response to treatment is in those who take medication and do therapy, and then exercise on their own where possible.

Here are some other posts you may be interested in: How do I work towards a more balanced life?, You have your hands full: Children and Family Values

Friday, December 26, 2014

How Do I Work Towards a More Balanced Life?

Park City Utah Ranch, Farm House, Green grass, MountainsDistraction is the bane of most of our existence. It is hard to remove the things that steal our time from our lives. But as we carefully weed out the things that provide only mere momentary reward, we can reach for higher goals and achieve much more. This is not to say that recreation does not have value. Wholesome recreation is a vital part of the human experience and provides valuable rest and opportunities to develop meaningful relationships. However, the constant drone of music, the electronic devices we tether ourselves to, and meaningless pursuits are far too pervasive in many of our lives. We waste the moment when achievements could be made and relationships enriched for a high score on a game, which will only be beat by someone willing to waste more time than we are. There is always someone willing to waste more time than you are.

A common concern for many people is how to maintain a good balance in their lives. A balanced life has been the goal of civilization since the days of Greek philosophy, and likely before that. Aristotle believed that happiness was derived from virtue. Virtue was defined as a habitual act of balance. That is he believed not in an unconscious decision leading to happiness, But habits of intellectual choice. He defined virtue further  as the mean between extremes (Nichomachean ethics). He taught that virtue or habitual action was learned or developed under the tutelage of great teachers. Therefore we can determine that good is only good if we choose consciously to perform the act. Also good done for the wrong reason is neither good nor bad, but rather mindless habitual action. This means in our lives we must choose to live a balanced life, and do so consciously, or we cannot participate in the good virtuous act of balance.

There are many competing demands in our lives. it is not easy to find balance, or to know what the mean between extremes is. We live in a world in which extreme behavior is portrayed as normal. The lines between balanced virtuous conscious action are blurred daily by the onslaught of factions who would have us believe that there is no good or that good is a relative construct.

Mountain, Diamond Fork Canyon Spanish Fork Utah, Green Mountain Blue Sky, rolling hills
Taking time for reflection is paramount in living a life of meaning and clarity; however, many people confuse reflection and rumination. Reflection is a thoughtful process weighing the merits, both good and bad, of a subject. Rumination is a concentration, focus, and even obsession over the bad that has happened. Reflection is a balanced approach allowing you to view the optimal course of action, rumination is lopsided, frustrating, and damming to all progress.

If you want to see success reflect on your strengths, recognize your weakness, and plan a realistic course of action to amend the deficits. If you want to end up angry, depressed, and anxious, ruminate over the bad things that have happened, declare them unfair, and wallow in your misery. Self pity while rewarding for a moment only leads to feeling worse in the long run.

Part of your reflective process should include prioritizing your life. Choosing priorities is not an easy task. The infinite competing activities available can skew the perspective of even the most clear thinking individuals. Therefore I will give you a useful tool to manage this process. It is called a pen and paper. This may take the form of a journal or just a sheet of paper on which to sketch a grid. The useful nature of journaling is easy chronicling of your thoughts collected into an easily accessible compendium. However if you are not particularly sentimental or well organized a slip of paper will do.

Begin by drawing a two by two grid. Label it across the X axis with non-urgent and urgent. Along e Y axis write non-important  and important. With this grid you can quickly place task and competing demands into the quadrants. Those demands that fall within the quadrant of important and urgent are likely the things that you spend most of your time focused on, or if you do not you should. Even in seeking balanced our obligations must be met. After all our children must eat, and our employer will not look kindly upon not coming to work because we were seeking balance elsewhere.

After the important urgent demands are met though you may be puzzled at what to do next.

Provo Utah Green Mountain Rock CanyonAlthough many things may have the appearance of urgency, if they're not important then we should consider if they are really worth our attention. Conversely the important things in life that seem not to be particularly pressing can escape us entirely leaving many might have beens if we are not careful. John Greenleaf Whittier said, "Of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: 'It might have been!'" Do not let your life waste away seeking only after the immediate pleasures that life can dangle in front of you. In twenty years you are much more likely to regret not spending time with your family than not getting an extra half hour in at work. How many people in their old age think if only I had made and extra ten dollars that day back in my thirties. A much more likely regret is that you missed your daughter's first play.

Lastly we address the unimportant and non-urgent. These activities are very good at masquerading as important or urgent, as they are often more desirable and fun activities. These activities have their place in a balanced approach to life, but in excess lead to lasciviousness and avarice. A helpful idea for me, an avid workaholic, when contemplating the place of the less important and urgent is, ‘Do not run faster than you have strength.’ For those of you who have the opposite problem and cannot get motivated to get going perhaps you can find motivation in the eyes of a loved one when you sit down and ask them how their day was. Whether you are a workaholic or a sloth we all have moments in which we need to find the fine balance in life. A moments reflection can provide the clarity needed to decide what comes next.

Writing and Photography By Joshua Kirton

Other Posts: You have your hands full: Children and Family Values, The Capitol Building, Stewards of Spiritual Learning

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

You have your hands full: Children and Family Values

There is a phrase that my wife and I hear frequently these days. One that slightly irritates us, but is not particularly offensive. It is a phrase that represents decades of social and value changes during the late twentieth century. The phrase is, "You have your hands full." Sounds amicable and harmless. We are often told this when some one sees that we have two small children, or when we tell some one that we have a three year old and an eight month old.

Joshua William KirtonThere was a time not so long ago when telling someone that you have two children would have been more likely to initiate a conversation about when you are having more children, rather than a commentary on how you already have too many children. Do not get me wrong. There are still portions of our society that frequently have more children. However, the United States is beginning to follow a trend that is frequently seen in developed nations of Europe and Japan. That of having one or no children. Many European nations and Japan have hit a point or soon will where there are far more older adults than children. This has a number of social consequences which including an inability to maintain pension funds and the age at which we can allow older adults to retire and expect to be able to support them.

Changing family values and expectations

There are a number of social institutions and practices which have contributed to this change in attitude toward having children. Among these is the practice of no fault divorce. Since the beginning of this practice in the US it has become easier to end it than to mend it. It is usually easier in the short term to walk away from a problem rather than facing it, but far more costly in the long term. We live in a myopic society. The judicial facilitation of avoidance of working towards a successful relationship has resulted in a sharp increase in divorce. Divorce is associated with higher rates of child poverty. This is not to say that there is no reason to allow divorce. On the contrary the reverse of the argument is that many women being oppressed by abusive husbands have been able to get out of these oppressive situations and save their children the heart ache of growing up in a destructive environment. However, more often than not, divorce is the result one or two selfish adults not being willing to sacrifice something for the success of the family. For children growing up in families where divorce occurred have a harder time learning the skills of working through tough times together from the example of their parents. Before you begin to pick these last few statements to pieces, we can all think of exceptions, but that does not make these exceptions the rule.

Beyond divorce, and likely partially as a result of the increase in divorce, there has been a general acceptance of premarital relations and child bearing outside of matrimony. As many as 40% of children are now born to unwed mothers. This means it is even easier for dad to leave and not be present, because there are no consequences of ending a marriage that does not exist. Yes, laws are in place to try to ensure that parents take care of their children. But lets be honest, these laws are less than effective in ensuring child support is always paid one time and in full. In addition to the influence of divorce laws on attitude on premarital relations and child bearing outside of wed lock is the feminist movement. This movement again has had positive effects of fighting for equal pay and rights for women. Equal rights; however, does not mean that men and women have to fulfill the same roles. This does not mean that women cannot play an important role in providing for the family, but it is acceptable and often effective for parents to work out separate roles in caring for the family financial needs and the emotional and child care needs of a family with multiple children. A negative consequence of the feminist movement has been the diminution of the role of motherhood and stay at home mothers. There was a shift in perspective where the contribution to the family was measured by the paycheck one brought home. Women fighting for "equality" began to frame the stay at home mother as lazy and of little value to society, where as the revers is true.

Traditionally different roles were that the father was the primary financial bread winner, and the mother stayed at home to care for the children and run the household. It is estimated that a stay at home mother may work over 90 hours a week, which work would be worth 100,000-140,000 dollars a year. A stay at home mother provides a valuable contribution to the family finances and function. A stay at home mother is also present to teach her children according to the values that she and the children's father see appropriate. Many families find that it makes more financial sense for both parents to work. This is the type of family that I grew up in. Both my mother and father worked every day. When we were young however they found ways to work different schedules to maximize their time with us and to minimize child care costs. The demise of the stay at home mother has in my opinion contributed to the decrease in number of children, and the attitudes towards child care, with increased negative attitude towards families with many children. The necessity to provide child care when working increases costs of working outside of the home for mothers with each child. Therefore, less children equal less childcare cost, and more money made in income.

The question that must be asked as we view divorce, permissive sexual attitudes, and changes in family roles, is what do we value most. Do we value money, do we value personal pleasures, or do we value family life and child rearing which tends to provide a stabilizing influence on society. I would argue that a greater focus on hedonistic pleasures and a bank roll have, through changes in attitudes and laws regarding marriage, have facilitated the decline in the number of children people have.

What is the average number of children per family in the US?

As of the 2010 Census there were 1.91 children per family with children under the age of 18. This is the average for families with children now. So admittedly, my two children is above average, but I'm not sure how to have .91 of a child. Fertility rates declined from the mid twentieth century to the late twentieth century. Fertility rates are calculated as number of children per woman in a country, which automatically will be lower that the number per family I just reported. Fertility raters currently in the US are at 1.88 children per woman in the us. The average age of mother hood is also increasing over the last twenty years. Women 20-24 have decreased in the proportion of births for which they account, and women 35-44 have increased the proportion of births for which they account. This is likely due to the greater emphasis on college education and career in early adulthood. This general trend of starting families later due to a greater emphasis on career has turned general life focus of a large portion of the population away from family and child rearing to financial success, and taken away some of the most fertile years of a woman's life. There is nothing that says you cannot be successful and have children, but generally more financially successful families have less children. This does not mean that children are prohibitive to success, but rather that those who choose to focus on financial success generally focus less into having many children. This is part of what make me so odd. I have several children and am in graduate school.

Why have more children if you cannot feed them?

The argument that the world is over populated, and cannot support more people has been made for a long time. This is not true. Here is a great documentary that talks about demographic changes in various countries and the social consequences, and discusses food production to a small degree. With advancements in technology has come huge increases in agricultural production. Furthermore nations that have the biggest problems with hunger, are among the most corrupt governments. Where the rule of law exists, and where a general feeling of social responsibility for others is present, fewer people go hungry. There are a large number of complex variable that interact to increase levels of hunger among which are finances, mental health, physical health, and social structures, and resources. The argument that I should not have children because someone in Africa is starving has never resonated with me due to these complex causes, most of which are the doing of corrupt men a world away. I can feed my children, and I can provide them with what they NEED.

Need has also taken on a new meaning in our entitled society. I see the needs of a child as food, shelter, love, and basic education. It is my job to keep the kid alive, relatively happy, and prepare them for that magic age where they take responsibility for their own actions. Many of you may disagree with my view of need, but I do not think that my children need fancy things, a cell phone, a car, or for me to pay for their college education. To the best of my ability I will aid my children to be successful in all that they do, by teaching them to work hard and achieve their own success. The fact that they will have two college educated parents will be to their favor. But there is a large space between what a child needs and what society will teach them that they are entitled to.


In closing I would like to sum up my points saying that a combination of social changes have led to the point where we value having children less as a society. This means that because I have two children I have a larger than average family. I am an anomaly, and will be a bigger anomaly when I have more children. In a graduate program of close to a hundred people I am the only student with children. There are social consequences for this change. Our society will be increasingly unable to support itself as there are fewer young working people to support the aging population. Beyond the broad financial consequences, as we move away from a society centered on raising families and family values, we change from the thing that made our nation great. A dedication to hard work to support others was what lead to the rise of the US as a superpower, and it is our turn away from families that will lead to our nation's decline. We are moving away from the stabilizing linch pin that holds our society together. That is what I hear when I hear you say, "You have your hands full."

By Joshua Kirton

Other Posts: The Capitol BuildingStewards of Spiritual Learning, Do You Know Where Your Children are at?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Stewards of Spiritual Learning

The following is an essay adaptation from a talk/sermon I gave in church some time back. I think that it is a good representation of my thoughts on what is means to be a steward over the learning of others. It was written to an LDS audience, but I think if the any readers can look past some of the jargon and audience directed issues you will see how this may apply to you in your own responsibilities as parents, spouses, siblings, and children of God. If you believe yourself to be a disciple of Christ, or just that you have a personal responsibility for the learning and well being of others this can apply to you.

In the The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints each individual or family is given a set of home teachers. These individuals are called by the Bishop, Elders Quorum President, and the High Priest Group Leader to execute the office of teacher and to act as a representative of the Lord in visiting us monthly or as needed. Each family is assigned a companionship of two to come teach them from the scriptures and the words of the prophets. This companionship may come in the form of a young teacher of 14 with his father an elder, two elders of the church, or on occasion as needs dictate a high priest and his wife. Whomever has been assigned to you and your family it has been done through much prayer and thought. These individuals are in your home to bring you the will of the Lord. You ought to recognize it, and hopefully each home teaching companionship recognizes the magnitude of their calling as a home teacher. It is through this pattern of teaching that the Lord has established to help our brothers and sisters have their needs met.

All things in the Church of Jesus Christ are meant to point back to the savior Jesus Christ. Home teaching is no different. Home teaching is meant to allow us opportunities to serve and become more Christlike. One of the defining features of Christ, revealed in the narrative of the New testament, is that of the minister or shepherd. 

As the Shepherd, Christ knows his flock. As a shepherd, he visited individuals. He taught to the masses and performed miracles that thousands saw and experienced, but many of the most intimate and touching experiences revealed about our Savior were the individual ministrations and healings he performed. In reading we learn of Christ speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. He taught her of the fountain of life to which all men must turn to drink and thirst no more (John 4:4-42). We learn of his ministration to the man who sat next to the pool who had no man to carry him in and be healed at the troubling of the water (John 5:6-8). He healed a man’s sight by laying his hand on him (Mark 8:22-25). He offered spiritual healing by way of forgiveness just as freely as he offered physical healing. He forgave a paralytic, and then sensing the skepticism of the pharisees he commanded the man to arise so that they would know he had the power to forgive as well as heal (Luke 5:17-26). After saving the adulteress from stoning, he commanded her to go forth and sin no more (John 8:1-11). He not only sought to provide relief, but sought to increase faith. Before providing relief to a father who asked his mercy on his son sick with a palsy, he first inquired regarding the man's faith in his ability to heal. It was through this diligent inquiry into the man's belief, that the savior was able to reveal to the man his own doubts, and create in the man the desire to believe and the faith necessary for his son to be healed, if not for the father's sake, than for his son’s sake (Mark 9: 23-24).

After this account of the many miracles of the Savior’s ministry you may ask yourself how does this apply to my efforts as a home teacher (In my individual ministry). The application is the threefold mission of home teaching. First to feed the people spiritually so as to grow their faith, second to ensure the physical well being of the church and its members (your brothers and sisters), and third to do so in a personal way to ensure that each individual in the Good Shepherd's flock sees the hands of the Savior actively in their life.

In John 21:15-17 we read of an intimate exchange between Simon Peter and Christ after his resurection:
15 ¶So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon,son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, aFeed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him,aFeed my bsheep.

The Savior reiterates three times the importance of caring for the fold, and distinguishes between the sheep and the lambs.  I would submit that the lambs are those weak in the gospel, possibly those who have not yet received  Christ in their lives, and the sheep are those who have been baptized into the fold, but still need the guidance of the Shepherd. Here Christ makes it clear that one of the priorities of a disciple of Christ, is caring for the member both weak and strong. The weak to be strengthened, and the strong to be reinforced in their dedication and testimony of Christ. It is for this reason that each of us and our family is assigned a set of home teachers to individually minister ensuring the spiritual and physical well being of each member.

Furthermore, Christ clarifies this mandate in the Doctrine and Covenants in section  88:81-85
81 Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.
82 Therefore, they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads.
83 He that seeketh me early shall find me, and shall not be forsaken.
84 Therefore, tarry ye, and labor diligently, that you may be perfected in your ministry to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come;
85 That their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come. Verily, I say unto you, let those who are not the first elders continue in the vineyard until the mouth of the Lord shall call them, for their time is not yet come; their garments are not clean from the blood of this generation.

As is stated here it is the clear duty of each of us as we understand the warning of Christ to share that with the world. This is not only accomplished by sharing with those who have never heard the good news of the gospel, but those who have heard it and now struggle. Those who need strengthening in their resolve to live according to the commandments of God. Those who need help in keeping the covenants that they made with Christ at baptism. By completing your home teaching assignments and by ministering to others you are not only helping others to keep their covenants to keep the commandments of God, but you are keeping the covenants that you have made with the Lord.

At baptism we each make covenants with Christ. these are outlined in the sacrament prayers and in Mosiah 18. The sacrament prayers speak of taking upon us the name of Christ, remembering him, and keeping the commandments, and in return we are promised that we will have his spirit to be with us. Additionally in Mosiah 18:8-9 it states;  8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye area desirous to come into the bfold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are awilling to mourn with those that bmourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as cwitnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the dfirst resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

We therefore see that home teaching or individual and family level ministry is a covenant of baptism. It is the promise that we will reach out to those who stand in need of comfort and provide for them. This provision includes all that we have to uplift others. If we have nothing else we have time. To many of us our time is the most valuable thing that we have in our busy lives. To give your time to another person or family is a token of love and care. Most of us appreciate when someone demonstrates true love and concern visiting us in our home to teach us of the savior and help us be diligent in the execution of our duties. This is a demonstration of care; responding to the needs of us and our family. Home teaching is an official call to be the hands of the Savior in the lives of others. To be his eyes in providing for the needs of the families under your stewardship. Each month we are to report back to our Quorum leaders the needs of our families and how they are doing. The church has in place a vast network of means to provide for those in need and it is the role of the home teacher to make sure each home has the access they need to those resources, when they need them. Many look to the Elders Quorum President, the Relief Society President, or the Bishop to know the needs of the members, but it is through the home teaching program that these servants know of the individual level needs. Develop a relationship with the families under your stewardship, where they will feel confident telling you about their true struggles and their needs physically and spiritually and you will not only relieve their burden, but the burden of the leaders in the ward. You will be ministers as Christ was, relieving the distress of the poor, cold, and hungry.  In James 1:27 it states “27 Pure areligion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To bvisit the cfatherless and dwidows in their eaffliction, and to keep himself funspotted from gthe hworld.”

The Office of a teacher:
What is the office of a teacher?
In Ephesians 4:11-12 we read
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Here we learn of the office of a teacher. It is to aid in the perfecting of the saints. In the doctrine and covenants this is further clarified in the explanation of Aaronic Priesthood offices. D&C 20:51,53-55
51 And visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties
53 The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them;
54 And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking;
55 And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.

That is quite the list, but it says simply a few things. Love, see that others love, and teach where others fall short in this understanding.  You cannot teach love unless you first feel love. This is where the Atonement of Christ can overcome any hardness that may exist between others and soften hearts. Through a humble approach and a gentle hand we can avoid offenses, heal wounded hearts, and prevent many of the negative attitudes and actions that people come to church to escape from in the world.

President Marion G. Romney, in general conference, declared:
“Home teaching, properly functioning, brings to ‘the house of each member’ two priesthood bearers divinely commissioned and authoritatively called into the service by their priesthood leader and bishop. These Home Teachers—priesthood bearers—carry the heavy and glorious responsibility of representing the Lord Jesus Christ in looking after the welfare of each Church member. They are to encourage and inspire every member to discharge his duty, both family and Church” (address given at general conference home teaching meeting, 8 Apr. 1966, p. 3).

Allowing others to serve:
Up to this point I have focused on the roles and responsibilities of those executing the office of teacher, but now I would like to turn briefly to the responsibility of those who are to be taught, or rather each member as we receive home teachers in our homes. Above all our roles is to be humble, teachable, and open. Each home teacher is sacrificing time with their own family to come to ensure that you and your family have your needs met. This is an act of love that should be accepted with open hands. Do not avoid inviting your home teacher into your home, but rather if you have not heard from them, approach them to ask when they are coming. Do not deny others the opportunity and blessings of service. As a student at BYU I was discussing this very topic with the High Councilor assigned to our ward and he taught that it is often just as hard or harder to allow others to serve us as it is to serve others. We may feel that we are strong and do not need the assistance of others, but I can assure you that we all have our weaknesses and that the program of home teaching is designed to address those weaknesses individually and as families. Do not be afraid to ask your home teachers to bring a specific message to your family. A message tailored to the needs of the family. To do so they will need to know the needs of your family, which they can only know when you open your hearts to them and share your needs with them. It is easiest to serve others when they are not avoiding your help. It is the sin of pride that we are trying to avoid here. The sin that leads us to believe we can accomplish everything ourselves, which when lead to its extreme is a belief that we do not need God or his Son Jesus Christ. I have seen a number of people in my life who have not understood the principle of allowing others to serve, and thereby have denied blessings to others and to themselves that naturally follow from selfless service.

I leave with you my testimony that God lives, Christ is his son and our Savior. Christ’s love extends across all humanity to each of us as individuals. In his love for each of us he suffered for our sins and sorrows and died and was resurrected that we may too obtain eternal life. In his love he again turned his hand to man and restored the entirety of his church in these days through the Prophet Joseph Smith. In the church we have the opportunity, privilege, and obligation to care for each other, to visit each other in our hour of need, and to develop selfless love through individual service.
I leave this my testimony in the name our our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Amen.

By Joshua Kirton

Friday, December 19, 2014

Time Together

This blog in its first life was a photography blog. Full of pictures with little real content to draw readers back. The purpose of it was to show a little portion of the world I live in. It was  a way to share a bit about my hobby of photography. I have not posted in two and a half years. The original purposes that this blog served have been supplanted and life has brought a number of other important avenues.
I am now in my fifth year of graduate studies. I am a father of two and it is hard to find the opportunity to sit down and to share much about what I am thinking. This blog was never much about what I was thinking, but more about a few highlight of what I was seeing. I think; however, that this blog can be more useful to me and others if it actually has some substance.
Therefore from this time forward I will try to write post with more substance. I will continue to include some of the photographic highlights, but it will try to relate the more important conclusions form those experiences.
To begin with I would actually like to share a photo taken by my wife. I think I have shared it in one form or another in some fashion on this sight. It is a photograph taken at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon in Utah. It was taken four plus years ago. To me this photo represents the beauty of spending time with my family. This was from a trip with my wife in which we shared a delightful afternoon in the Canyon talking and watching the creations of God. The lesson learned here is that a little time can make for long fond memories.
Spanish Fork Canyon Utah windmills at sunset
We still talk about the several times we went up Spanish Fork Canyon together while living in Utah. A bit of time and open earnest conversations was far more important than the location. Photo number two comes form that same trip up the Canyon. It is a bit of red rock formation up one of the side canyons called Diamond Fork.
I hope you enjoy the photos, but more importantly I hope you can take to heart the message that the most important thing you can give another is time. This is what they are going to remember in the long run.
Tonight we went to see Christmas lights as a family. The local hospital sets up a light walk around its pond. We spent time just taking in the sight. My son loved the trucks planes and helicopters. He even thanked God for them in his good night prayer tonight. Its these moments, moments where I took time to spend with my family that I will cherish in the future. I can always find something to fill my time with, I just hope that I can fill it with substance as I will try to do with this blog.
Spanish Fork Canyon Utah Diamond Fork Canyon Red Rock Blue Sky Waves