I Like That!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bring It On

Everyone likes The Emperor's New Groove!

How many of you have seen Disney's hit movie The Emperor's New Groove? (**almost everyone's hands go up**)  Excellent.  Because that's one of my all-time favorites.  (I do a mean Kronk impression.  You'll have to ask me to do it for you sometime.  But I digress...once again)  As silly and ridiculous as that movie is, if you are looking, you can find applicable principles to govern your life.

Por exemplo:

One of the most oft-quoted scenes is where Kuzco and Pacha find themselves "tied to a log...careening out of control down a raging river of death!" (as little Tipo later puts it after having a comically-timed and strangely prophetic dream).  Then he says... you know what?  Just watch it.

Oh man.  SO.  Good.

The lesson?  We all face huge waterfalls with sharp rocks at the bottom from time to time in our lives.  That's life!  If it were all smooth sailing, how would we learn?  Of course, we don't try to get thrown around; but when we face insurmountable odds, we can have the steely-nerved chutzpah of Kuzco, knowing that whatever comes, God will make it all right. 


Much Love,
Elder Spendlove

Video from YouTube...duh
Image from: http://digitalmediafx.com/Columns/JimHill/02getgroove.html

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Never a Truer Friend

Well, the Christmas season is wrapping up (or unwrapping, seen differently).  The gifts have pretty much all been exchanged; the parties are becoming fewer and fewer; the lights have perhaps lost a bit of that magical twinkle the get before Christmas; but the gift of God, our Savior Jesus Christ, still lives on!  His influence in our lives will still continue, undimmed by calendar days. 

I have been thinking recently about this gift to us.  I have blogged previously about how we can be "snatched" out of our misery, how we should pump up by living the commandments and focusing on Christ.  Today I wanted to talk about another aspect of Christ's gift to us (for truly the facets are limitless)--His ability to carry us when we can go no farther.  I often think about J.R.R Tolkein's masterpiece trilogy, The Lord of the Rings as it relates to our everyday struggles.  Now I'm not suggesting you have to bat away stray nazguls from your sedan before you go to work or fight off a horde of Uruk'hai (cat's out of the bag--I'm a geek...I do know these things) before you check out at the supermarket.  I am saying, however, that we all face perils and our roads are fraught with dangers that we often can't see.

I love the last scene in the movie The Return of the King where Frodo and Sam are trying to make it up the slope of Mt. Doom to cast the accursed ring into the pit.  At one point, Frodo is about to give up--the volcano is erupting, the burden on his soul is crushing down, and all seems lost.  He turns to Sam and expresses his disappointment and dejection at his seeming failure to accomplish his task.  Ever vigilant, a true friend to the bitter end, Samwise Gamgee looks Frodo straight in the eye, and declares, voice buckling with emotion, "I can't carry the ring, Mr. Frodo...but I can carry you!"  He musters his last ounces of strength and hoists Frodo up the mountain to the ultimate fulfillment of their quest.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

...they can hardly contain their excitement too!

Well everyone, the Christmas season is coming to its climax (which, I realize, means this post will probably go unread by a large majority of the populace, but it is what it is..).  It's Christmas Eve!  In the immortal words of the Grinch, "Tomorrow is Christmas!  It's practically here!!" 

Tonight, many of us will have trouble going to sleep; we will have "visions of sugar plums (or Xboxes or cars or new clothes, etc.) dancing in our heads".  Or perhaps some will spend this evening shut up in their houses, unhappy and unimpressed by the feelings of the season.  Some may find sadness without loved ones; many will reflect on the supernal Gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  How will your Christmas Eve be spent?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Through New Eyes

Recently, one of the leaders of our Church, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, gave a talk at the Christmas Devotional about seeing Christmas through new eyes.  I loved it for several reasons, not the least of which was his reference to the Grinch's transformation; mostly though, I appreciated his wisdom and counsel to all of us on how we can refocus on what is most important about this time of year. 

He gave three suggestions on how to see Christmas through new eyes:

  1. Rejoice in the Birth of Our Savior
  2. Ponder His Influence in Our Lives Today
  3. Look Steadfastly for His Coming
I'll let you watch the talk to get his exact words about each of those.  I did, however, want to testify that if we will seek the Christ this season, as the wise men did of old, we will see Christmas, Christ, and ourselves through new eyes.  Says President Uchtdorf:

If we look for what is wrong with the Christmas season, we can surely find it. Like the Grinch, we can grumble and complain, becoming cold and cynical about what we see around us. Nevertheless, if we look for the good, we can see this time of year with new eyes—perhaps even with the eyes of a child.

The Grinch saw the good in Christmas when he learned to look past its worldly trappings. If we do the same, we can, with the Grinch, proclaim: “Maybe Christmas . . . doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more!”

Our heart may not grow three sizes as the Grinch’s did, but our heart will change. Our eyes will open to the miracles all around us—at Christmastime and throughout the year.

I add my personal testimony that we can be changed through the One Whose birth we celebrate at this time of year.  May His love fill your life is my humble prayer.

Much Love,
Elder Spendlove

PS Seriously, watch that talk!  or read the text version here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Sounds (/Noise) of the Season!

I have made an executive decision:  I will be mostly posting about insights from How the Grinch Stole Christmas! for all my Christmas-y blog entries.  There's so much to learn from Dr. Seuss' classic story (plus it's my favorite!).  Sound good?  Sweet.

Well, just a short one today about focusing on what's most important.  You'll recall with me that one of the Grinch's major beefs with the Whos' celebration of Christmas was "All the noise, noise, noise!"  He was so caught up in the hectic, helter-skelter of the season that he (and perhaps many of the Whos [Who's Whose Whos?]) lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas.
We too can fall into that trap.  I know I have!  In fact, even as a missionary I get wrapped up in all the running around and ins and outs and ups and downs and the noise, noise, noise!  But Christ Himself said, "Peace I leave with you"  and "I have overcome the world".  That, my friends, is the spirit of Christmas.  May we all focus on the things that matter most and invite the spirit of Christmas (which is the Spirit of Christ) into our lives this Christmas season.

Much Love,
Elder Spendlove

Image from: http://jmkaye.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/grinch-noise1.jpg

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All Wound Up

I realize that many of you may be wondering why I haven't posted anything about Christmas yet, considering that it's now 9 days away!  Forgive me for being a Scrooge (which is really a misnomer because Scrooge ended up changing his ways and becoming a pretty okay guy... but I digress--again).

I was talking with my trusty companion, Elder Wright today about our life here on Earth.  We are all progressing or "marching toward" something while we're here; our purpose is to progress toward God and live with Him when we die.  I made a comment that we're like little wind-up toys, or like a toy train.  We all start out the same (though our circumstances vary, of course).  Our early choices and the influence of others kind of "wind us up" or set us on a certain track.  We are all marching toward one end of the spectrum, whether it's toward God or Satan is based on our choices.  Sometimes we get a little unwound--the choices we make determine who winds us back up, God or the devil.  We can always change, whether for good or ill, because of our free will.  Christ invites us to come unto Him and His Father with open arms; Satan deceives and entices us toward destruction with momentary pleasures.  We have the scriptures, the words of prophets ancient and modern, our families, and friends to motivate us and move us in the right direction.

"Elder Spendlove!  What on Earth does this have to do with Christmas?!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Will Choose Free Will!

Sometimes as missionaries we get little "freebies"--we were at this burger joint in Ukiah on Monday with a local member of the Church (I had an ostrich burger.  Yeah.  That just happened), and there was all this classic rock playing (Aside: as missionaries we don't listen to the radio or music that draws us away from Christ.), and I loved classic rock back home.  I was trying not to listen to it!  I promise!  Anyway, this song by Rush comes on and as I "wasn't listening", my ear caught hold of some of the lyrics, which are as follows:

"I will choose a path that's clear--I will choose freewill!"
You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill.

In between bites of ostrich, I really pondered the meaning behind those words.  We as humans value free will.  We (LDS people) believe it is one of the basic reasons we're her on Earth--to use our free will to choose God instead of Satan; we use our free will to"come unto Christ and be perfected in Him", like I posted last week. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I love words.  They're kind of my thing.  Ask people who know me, and they'll tell you that sometimes I can get a little carried away with my words.  I especially love funny-sounding words that aren't onomatopoeic, like the word snatch (well, I guess depending on how quickly you snatch something it may be an onomatopeia...but I digress).

The Book of Mormon recounts a few young men who were sons of the king--and one of them was even the son of the prophet at the time--who went about doing some really bad stuff.  Eventually, they were rebuked by an angel of God, repented, and became great missionaries, bringing thousands of people to Christ.  As one of them later put it, "Who could have supposed that our God would have been so merciful as to have snatched us from our awful, sinful, polluted state?" (Alma 26:17) 

World English Dictionary defines snatch in like 13 different ways; my favorite two are the following:
  •  to remove suddenly: she snatched her hand away
  • to gain, win, or rescue, esp narrowly: they snatched victory in the closing seconds
I think these define snatch like the scripture above.  God, through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, "removes [us] suddenly" from our choices that bring us misery if we let Him.  Also, He "gains, wins, rescues us, especially narrowly" from the grasp of sin and Satan.  He really has our back.  He snatches us just in time before we do something really stupid--I know that's been true in my life over and over again. 

I know that God loves us.  His Son suffered and died so you and I could be snatched from unhappiness in this life and the next.  "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that [snatched] a soul
like me!"

Much Love,
Elder Spendlove

Definition from: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/snatch

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Don't be a GIRLIE Man!

"I am Hans"

"Und I am Franz"

"Und ve just vant to PUMP YOU UP!"

Many of us are familiar with the insanely buff pop icons Hans and (und) Franz from Saturday Night Live, with their outrageously bemuscled bods and their intolerance for any and all "girlie men".  As a young teenager (and even today, I'll admit), I wanted nothing more than to get as ripped as these two fictitious Austrian weightlifters.  But I wasn't willing to pay the price.  Instead of going to the gym, I'd play video games; instead of eating healthily and working on building lean muscle, I was into burgers and shakes.  Now I'm not saying all this to have you laugh at me or to hang up my dirty laundry for all to see--I merely mean to illustrate the point that you can't get something for nothing. 

God knows it's the same way--we are here to learn to become like Him, to develop His attributes ("godliness"), and be happy--and it doesn't come easily.  We have to work at it!  The Savior said, "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).  Have you tried being perfect?  It's really difficult!  Even impossible!  But that's what He's commanded us to do.  So how do we get there?  How do we eschew weakness, strip the flabbiness from our spirits, and not be "girlie men"?  Here's what a prophet said:

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God  with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ... (Moroni 10:32)

Obviously that's a lot easier said than done, but it is possible through the grace of Jesus Christ.  We have the scriptures and the prophets as our guidelines (like a weight-training book); when we are baptized, we have the Holy Ghost's companionship (He's our personal trainer); and we have our Elder Brother Jesus Christ as a model (the Perfect Paragon).  So don't give up!  Christ is going to PUMP YOU UP!  Let Him change your weaknesses into strengths!  And above all, in the immortal words of Hans und Franz: DON'T be a [spiritual] GIRLIE MAN!

Much love,
Elder Spendlove

PS for more about not getting bogged down by weakness, check out Elder Menasco's blog!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Stone Cut Out of the Mountain Pt. III

As my Master chiseled and scraped, brushed and polished, I began to see myself how he saw me: worthwhile, important, magnificent, and something great.  As I mentioned before, the pain of the chisel never decreased, but I learned to accept it as my Master's plan and trust that his skillful hands would work untold wonders for my future.  Truly--and I understand this will sound terribly ironic--my heart of stone softened and I learned to respect, and far greater than that, to love my Master, the Great Michelangelo.  The great care he took, the joy he expressed at seeing me become glorious, his detail in carving every intricacy with precision--it all evidences his pouring his whole soul into making me his masterpiece, his work and his glory. 

It took him three and a half years of working daily and toiling arduously to finish me, but he did it.  In the early summer of 1504, I, David, was completed.  Standing erect in mighty majesty, I was a symbol of hope for the Florentine Renaissance, a budding revival of great human achievement that was endangered by the iron-fisted traditionalists of Italy.  Michelangelo explained to me as he worked that the man I depicted had been a courageous defender of the truth and of God's kingdom long ago.  As a boy, this David had faced a foe many times his size and strength.  I was created to remind the good people of Florence that no obstacle is insurmountable when we put ourselves in the Hands of God, the Great Creator and Master. 

We truly are our Master's masterpiece.

 I am living proof of that.  I was a hard-willed, stubborn block of stone, doomed to crumble in a dusty old warehouse until I was discovered by a Master.  Once I learned to act, to submit my will to his, and not just be acted upon, a world of understanding and hope blossomed before my eyes (so to speak).  No longer was I doomed to impregnable uselessness; no longer was I destined to be rubble; no longer was I consigned to the unfulfillment of my true potential.  This Master, this caring, honest, dedicated craftsman shaped my destiny forever. 

I hope my tale has brought to light the struggles that everyone's heart, stone or flesh, must endure.  Remember, my softer-skinned friends, we are all shaped by a Master.  He knows best.  When we love Him and serve Him and submit ourselves to His will, He will polish us and craft us, and, like a stone cut out of a mountain without hands, we will all become our Master's masterpiece. 

The End

Image from: http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/arts/artwork/michelangelo-sculptures7.htm

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

We're all familiar with the classic nursery rhyme about the three little pigs who face the onslaught of a terroristic wolf, only to discover that their preconceived notions of proper building materials are called into serious question and their lives severely jeopardized when he "huffs and puffs" and seeks to blow their shanty habitations down.  In the end, the eldest of the pigs safeguards his less-than-competent brethren in the house he built of brick, and they best the wolf by sealing off every possible entrance and even by lighting a fire when he climbs down the chimney. 

To some this may seem a lesson in reversing natural selection (take that, Darwin--right?), but I think there is an even greater lesson to be learned.  We are all faced with the onslaught of the evil one--Satan, Lucifer, the devil, whatever name you want to give him--every single day of our lives.  He is the Big Bad Wolf, seeking to blow our houses down and leave us prey to his insatiable appetite.  How then do we overcome this monster?  Is it by building our safeguards of straw or twigs--by simply saying we belive in Christ without actually following His commandments?  Of course not.  A Book of Mormon prophet named Helaman put it this way:

Christ it our Sure Foundation

And now, my sons, remember...that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds...when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down...because of the rock upon which ye are built...a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.        (Helaman 5:12)

That's the key right there.  We build ourselves upon Christ so when the devil huffs and puffs and tries to blow us down, we'll be the last man standing.  We build ourselves by keeping His commandments, great and small.  And that's it.

Much Love,
Elder Spendlove

Image of wolf and pig from: http://allgraphicsonline.com/picture/11428/
Image of rock from: http://diapersanddivinity.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/rock.jpg


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