Sunday, July 31, 2016

What Dreams May Come

It's official,  we finally sold our lakefront lot in Federal Way. We got close to our asking price, which is good. It's kind of a bittersweet event, I can still remember all the things that happened in order for us to be able to buy that property. And all of the things we did after purchasing it. It was definitely a catalyst for change. It forced us to sell our house in Tacoma, and move in with my grandfather. Living with my grandfather got me to try going back to school. Going back to school got me to think bigger than working at my then-current job. I quit that job, and went to work with my brother for a while. I moved back to Maple Valley, got a great new job, bought a house and my kids are going to school in a great school district. I think I have ended up ok, and I will be OK letting that property be someone else's dream come true now. There will be another time and place for my family to get the lakefront house I want, but I wouldn't be where I am today, if not for taking that first big step to dream a little.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I Am Struggling With Change.

Today I am sort of at a loss. Not that today is anything special, it's not a holiday, not an anniversary, not any meaningful day for me in particular. It's just one of those days where I feel loss. I miss my family today. I miss those members of my family that are no longer with me. My grandparents, my mother, my nephew.

But I also miss my family that is still around, alive and kicking. My family is moving on, moving in separate, new directions. What once was holding us together (in my opinion, at least) can now be a source of tension. Where once it seemed like there was unity, there is now division. Where I turn for peace, many members of my family now turn away in.... Anger? Contempt? Disillusionment? Fear? Condescension? I personally find the "new" direction to be dissatisfying and disappointing. It seems to have little meaning or purpose. It seems to be self serving and close minded, while proclaiming it's open-mindedness.Maybe they feel the same way about me?

I also miss my family who lives farther away than I can drive in a day. I don't get to see them often enough, but I don't enjoy where they live. And I wonder sometimes if they even still like me, as a person. I will be the first to admit that I am not the easiest person to get along with. My wife can attest to that, but overall, I feel like I am a good person. I wonder how much my family and I still have in common? What is left that really, truly binds us together? Visits are few and far between. Phone calls just as rare. I know some of my family is struggling right now, and I want to be there to lend support, but is the support I know how to lend even wanted? I don't know, because I feel like they are different now, and don't see things the way I see, don't find peace in the way I do.

There is a hymn at church that I  feel like I can relate to right now:

Where can I turn for peace? 
Where is my solace, when other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, I draw myself apart, searching my soul?
Where, when my aching grows, when I languish, in my need to know... Where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who? Who can understand?

He, only one. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I Gave A Talk In Church

Here it is:

How to Seek and Receive Answers                                                Nathan Alldredge 4/24/2016

About a week and a half ago Brother Bills called me up to ask me to speak to you all today. I don’t know that I have had the opportunity to do so in the years that I have been attending this ward. I am not really surprised, there have been fabulous talks given in the past, and I have enjoyed all the ones that I have managed to stay awake for.

You might know my family, or at least remember seeing my family: We have a tendency to show up a little late and then walk right up and sit in the front pew as has been the custom in my family for the past 30 some odd years that we have all been coming to church in this building. My name is Nathan Alldredge. My wife is Rachel and I have a 9yo son Ammon, a 7yo son Noah and a 3yo daughter Emma. I buy things for a living, and work for an engineering firm based in Seattle. My wife also works there, a couple of days a week. We are trying to get to the point where she doesn’t have to work a full time job any more, and this job that I have now has gone a long way towards making that happen.

Today it is my goal to try to encourage those here in attendance today to seek for truth, and also to trust their faith. This is a topic that has recently become near and dear to my heart. Many of you knew my mother. She was diagnosed this last December with cancer, and passed away the following month. One of the last conversations I had with her involved me telling her I wasn’t ready for her to go. I wasn’t ready for her to leave. My family has depended so much on her strength of character, her willingness to serve her family, and her testimony. I didn’t know what it would be like, couldn’t imagine what it was going to be like to not be able to talk with her. Many of you do not know that about one year earlier, my 5 year old nephew Joel was also taken by cancer. Both of these instances naturally started me down the path of sorrow, confusion and doubt. I had questions. Questions I NEEDED answers to. My religion told me that everything was going to be ok, and the Lord had my back, and that all would work out in the end. But I needed personal, individual answers.

In the scriptures, there are many accounts of people seeking for truth. Some do it the right way, some do it the wrong way. I would like to devote some of my time to both ideas. Let me start out with a few examples of the wrong way.

We read in 1 Nephi chapter 15: 2 And it came to pass that I beheld my brethren, and they were disputing one with another concerning the things which my father had spoken unto them.
3 For he truly spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought.
6 And it came to pass that … I spake unto my brethren, desiring to know of them the cause of their disputations.
7 And they said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the natural branches of the olive tree, and also concerning the Gentiles.

(and I might also add they probably didn’t understand why they were there in the wilderness, what God’s plan for them was, why their younger brother kept telling them what to do… and likely various other points of doctrine were also unclear to them as well. I also imagine that they discussed it at length amongst themselves, otherwise Nephi wouldn’t have noticed in the first place. I also imagine it was a heated discussion, going back and forth, trying their best to disseminate the vision of the olive tree, and the Gentiles. Because it seems like, at least this time, they were interested in the topic material. If they would have had the internet, I don’t doubt that they would have spent hours consulting various sources, getting the opinions of various noted and reliable experts, and likely would have come to different conclusions based on their limited understanding and experiences. But I am going to tell you why they were still confused: let’s get back to Nephi’s response in verse 8)

8 And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?
9 And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.

Now imagine that. They DIDN’T EVEN ASK! I don’t know why they didn’t, perhaps they just figured that God wouldn’t tell them, so why bother?! Don’t let yourself fall into this trap!

Let’s look at another example in the New Testament: The story of the rich young ruler:

Matthew 19: 16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up:

Let’s put ourselves in this persons shoes. Here is a young man, who is faithful in keeping the commandments. I imagine that he frequently attends church, is perhaps even a priesthood holder, maybe he holds a calling and does what is expected of him. He has done everything he has ever been asked to do, and likely it has all made sense to him and he sees the immediate temporal benefit of obedience. And I imaging that he feels pretty good about it. But then he asks one more question: “What lack I yet?” That is such a loaded question. I wonder if he really meant to ask the question we all hear when we read this chapter. It is a very personal, very defining question. What is the one single the one thing I can do to ensure myself a place in the Kingdom of God?

21 Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

Now this young man asked a question. And he got an answer. But it was what he did with that answer that defined him. He couldn’t believe it, wouldn’t believe it. Couldn’t accept it for whatever reason, be it simplicity, like when Elisha sent Naman to wash in Jordan and be cleansed of leprosy, or stubbornness like those Israelites who perished just because they wouldn’t look at the brazen serpent. He couldn’t accept that answer. The answer wasn’t what he was expecting, and wasn’t something he was willing to do.

Now what do these two examples have in common? To me it seems that they were all “trying” to seek for truth. They were trying to get answers to their gospel questions. But what did they do wrong? I will tell you the answer: They lead with their doubts. The first example doubted they would get an answer from God in the first place, so they didn’t even ask. The second example they doubted the answer they received, and refused to follow counsel.

Now let’s talk about the right way to get answers to gospel questions.

In a talk titled “Lord I Believe” by Jeffrey R Holland, we learn about the Saviors interaction with the man whose child was possessed by evil spirits.

The man says to Jesus, “If thou canst do any thing,” he said, “have compassion on us, and help us.”
Jesus said unto him, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

The father comes to the Savior for help, in what must be dire circumstances, under terrible conditions.

The thing I take away from this interaction is that the father, in response to Jesus’ question IMMEDIATELY says “I believe.” There is faith there, and hope. This same father acknowledges that it might not be enough, because he follows that declaration by pleading for help with his unbelief. Here is what is interesting. Jesus didn’t tell the man that he didn’t have enough faith, didn’t make comments about the unbelief. He healed the boy. He answered the prayer. Because it doesn’t matter HOW much faith you have, just that you have some. The Lord says that all things are possible to him that believeth.

In Alma chapter 32 we learn just how important “some” faith is:

21 And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.
22 And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word.
27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.

Alma teaches us that faith is not perfect knowledge. However faith can lead to a perfect knowledge. That our faith starts out with a desire to believe and that if we let that desire to believe grow within us, and we nurture it and maintain it, it will grow into a perfect knowledge of the thing we are trying to understand. What we see here is that faith does not come to us by chance, it comes by choice. We need to choose to believe, choose to have faith that our questions will be answered. This is the key thing that Laman and Lemuel lacked in the example above.

Asking honest questions is an important part of building faith. Building faith through diligent study should be the focus of our questioning. The Lord may not answer our questions immediately, but most answers to gospel questions can be had through sincere study and prayer. Another thing we must remember is that Faith never demands an answer to every question, but seeks the assurance and courage to move forward. Sometimes you just have to acknowledge, “I don’t know everything, but I do know enough to continue on the path of discipleship.”

Elder Holland later counsels “In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited.” He asks us to remember “The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know. Be true to the faith that you do have.” “It is ok to have questions, questions are a part of life. The key to dealing with these questions is to be candid about them, but do not allow those questions to get in the way of faith working its miracle.”

You may remember the sons of Mosiah. They started out in a good family, and lost their way. They went about mocking church members, and doing what they could to bring down the church. But then they had an experience that changed their lives. Do you think it was the angel that appeared to them on the road one day? I do not. If you recall, Laman and Lemuel also had angels visit them, and they felt the power of the Lord. They shaped up for a while, but then eventually turned away back to their old ways. No… I think the real defining point in the lives of Aaron Ammon Omner and Himni was when “they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation. And they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.” (Alma 17:2-3) Their questions led them to find greater understanding and greater faith.

On my mission I often spoke with people who we referred to as Eternal Investigators. They asked lots of questions, and I think they tried to impress us with the variety and depth of their questioning. No matter the answer, they had another question. They were never satisfied, their search for truth was leading them around in circles and either they didn’t realize it, or they weren’t honestly seeking answers in the first place. But the end result was the same: They would not receive the answers they supposedly sought.

And finally let’s talk about how answers do come. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2 teaches that spiritual things are only discerned through the spirit.

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
10 But God hath revealed it unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Paul teaches that there are going to be things, spiritual things, gospel-related things, that can only be learned through the spirit of God, who speaks quietly to our minds in a still small voice. That people on their own will never be able to understand the things that God understands. But that through the spirit, people who honestly seek with Real intent, having faith in Christ will be able to uncover the answers that they are looking for. Real intent means it must be more than just a passing curiosity.

We must also be aware of where our information comes from, where we are looking for answers. There are many sources of information widely available to each and every one of us. M Russel Ballard said “We should find thoughtful and faithful individuals to help us.” Parents and bishops are much more likely to help us find spiritual guidance to gospel questions than someone on the InterWebs who is not interested in our personal salvation. “And if necessary, we should ask those with appropriate academic training, experience, and expertise for help.” Jesus promises in Matthew: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

If we truly want answers to our questions, we must first exercise belief and have faith. We must understand that our intent is an important part of the process. We must be willing to hold on to the faith and understanding that we do have, in preparation for receiving further understanding and knowledge. We must be willing to accept that we may not get the answers that we want, when we want them. We should be willing to accept the answers that we do receive with humble hearts and a willingness to change our ways if it is required of us.

As I have faced the challenges to my own faith I have come to a greater understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that he is my savior. I know that because of his sacrifice and resurrection, my mistakes can be forgiven, my pain and anguish can be comforted and that I can look forward to the day, hopefully after I have had a good long life of my own, that I can run to my mother’s embrace, see her smiling face and tell her that I love her once again. I believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the power of the priesthood. I believe in the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. And I know that Heavenly Father does answer prayers. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I Had an Idea

So today during my lunch half work/half break, I had this idea. I always wanted to start a website, and I have a cool idea for a business. I am pretty cheap, and there seem to be lots of different "build a Website" websites out there. In fact, as a side note, Rachel did just that about a year ago as a project for school. She used one of those website building/hosting websites to build an online clothing consignment store. We ran it for about 3 months and never made a sale. It wasn't very successful. I blame society. But she did come out with an A grade in that class, so spending $400 was a pretty good investment, in my estimation. Your mileage may vary. Anyway, she worked pretty hard on it, spent a lot of time getting it set up so that people could come and help us clean out her and her mother's closet. It looked pretty good. But I don't think I want something that fancy.
So I decided to start reading up on using html. There are so many online guides for learning to write in html, and one can easily be overwhelmed with the speed at which it gets complicated. I look at the websites online and I see that many successful sites don't necessarily have "complicated-looking" webpages, lots of them are just headers and footers with banners and lists and pictures of the things they are selling. And I think I wan to learn how to do some of that. So I go online and start browsing through tutorials. I came across one on one o my favorite sites "Instructables" and it is about creating a simple webpage in 18 easy steps. I start to read through it and think, "I can do that," and so I download notepad++ and start typing. Following the instructions I build a webpage with a title, a couple of paragraphs, a list and a few pictures. Now, you may be thinking "I want to see this amazing self built webpage! Where can I go to see it?!?!" Well... it isn't published to the web. It is saved as an html document on my computer. But it is real, and it loads properly and I made it. I am feeling pretty good about it. And in about 10 years, I may have it working just the way I want it and will publish it to the World Wide Web. But until then, I will probably just use one of those "build a website" websites to host my ideas.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Beyond the Grave

So tonight I was going through the pictures on my mom's cell phone, downloading them and seeing what else there might have been on it that I would want to save for posterity. I looked in her music folder and got rid of a few pop songs that I'm sure no one cared about, and all of a sudden I got a text from the phone. Three simple words: "I love you" were waiting in the queue. I noticed early on in my searching that the storage space was running low, the hard drive icon was showing up at the top left of the screen, and apparently whatever messaging service Mom used stored the messages, both incoming and outgoing, on the phone storage instead of the SD card. So when I cleared the songs, the message in the queue got sent out.

As always, my mom was thinking of her family. She just couldn't figure out her phone...

Monday, January 25, 2016

Today at Work

Today at work, I was in the bathroom in a stall towards the end of the row, minding my own business when all of a sudden, the other guy who was in there with me finished washing his hands, dried them with a towel, opened the door and promptly turned the light off. All of a sudden I was there in the stall, sitting in the dark. I was pretty startled (as you may imagine), and before I could say anything, the door closed and I was alone.

Now in all fairness, I don't think the guy saw me but remember that I work with a bunch of engineers and they can be pretty focused and have a tendency to miss things that are happening in the world around them. And I am sure that turning the light off after you walk out of the bathroom is a good habit to have, because that's what my parents always told me to do and my wife still tells me the same thing. So I get it, why he did it.

But at the same time, it's a public restroom. Who turns the lights off in a public restroom, especially without making sure that the restroom is empty? Anyway, what would I have said, right? "Hey, I'm still in here doing my thing?" No. Rule Number Four of Men's Bathroom Etiquette clearly states that there is no talking or eye contact allowed in the Men's Room.

(In case you might be wondering what the other rules are:
No. 1: Always leave a one stall/urinal buffer if it is physically possible, and do your business in a place that allows others to do the same.
No. 2: Announce your presence when someone comes in after you. You want them to know they are not alone in there. A little cough is appropriate.
No. 3: Clean up after yourself. If you spill some soap/water while washing, clean it up. If you drop a paper towel, pick it up. Flush the toilet. If you don't, it is automatically out of commission until the custodial crew gets in there. Not cool.
No. 4: See above. No chitchat in the bathroom, and keep your eyes forward. Otherwise, it's weird.
No. 5: Don't linger in the public bathroom. Get in, git'er done, and get out. Make room for the next guy and help him avoid having to break Rule No 1.
No. 6: NEVER bring food into the bathroom. That's just gross.
No. 7: Don't talk on your cell phone, or conduct business in the bathroom.
There are others, but they are situational and don't always apply)

Now, luckily I was prepared for this event, and just got out my phone and turned on my flashlight app to light my way till I was done. Those little lights are sufficiently bright to allow you to do your duty. However, it would have been akward if someone else had walked in, and I was still in the stall, in the dark, with my light on... If I had walked in on that, I would have promptly turned around and walked out and gone to the other restroom, or come back 5 minutes later. I will say though, that the last thing I did as I walked out of the bathroom was TURN ON THE LIGHT!!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

The "Thing" I Didn't Want to Write About (My Mom and Cancer)

My dad thought it would be a good idea for me to put down on paper what happened today, along with my thoughts and feelings. So here goes...

Today I lost one of my best friends, and one of my biggest supporters. Someone who has been with me through my ups and downs.

My mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer one month and one day ago. She had been complaining about some mild back pain for a few days and we kept telling her that she needed to go in to see the doctor, just like she would normally tell us to do. But she didn't want to take her own advice until one night the pain got so bad that she couldn't sleep through it anymore. She and her nurse sister were pretty sure it was a gall bladder problem, and she just didn't want to have to deal with that over the holiday season. My parents went to the hospital and the doctors did some scans and ran some tests and came back with the worst kind of news anyone wants to hear:

 "I'm sorry but you have cancer, and there isn't anything we can do about it."

 You never think that cancer is going to happen, or that it is a possibility until it is right there in front of you.  Needless to say, we were all shocked and heartbroken. I went to visit her at the hospital and found out that I had been preceded by several other family members, and my parents good friends the Wilkensons. I was happy to stay for a few minutes, but I get claustrophobic and that hospital room wasn't very big so I was glad that Aaron leaving gave me an excuse to not stay very long. Rachel dropped me off, and I was going to get a ride back with him.

Well, she came home and we had a great Christmas season. Everyone was able to make it up this year, it had been several years since that had happened. I know it made Mom's Christmas that much more special.  And it was certainly nice to see everyone and get to see nieces and nephews that I haven't seen in a while.  My mom spent a lot of time sitting over the holiday season, and I want to say that I noticed that she was really starting to have trouble getting through the pain really only about three weeks ago. We just plowed through Christmas and New Years like our family always had (mostly). But like I said, about three weeks ago, the pain started to get to be more than she could take on normal meds, and so they started to up her dosage, and switch her to stronger narcotics. Now, the good part about the narcotics is that they do take the pain away. The bad part of narcotics is that they also start to make a person groggy. So as the next few weeks progressed, she would be fine for a few days, and then the pain would get to be bad, so the doctors would up the dosage. That would wipe her out for the next day, and then she'd be up and awake and alert for a few days until her body got used to the new dosage and the pain would start getting through again. So they would up the dosage and the whole cycle would start over again. Except that as the meds wiped her out it took longer and longer to recover, and she got worse and worse. It didn't help that she wasn't eating or drinking very much either.

Anyway, she started to slip away much more quickly this last week, and I think those of us who were here to see, got a sense that she didn't have much longer to stay with us.

On Sunday, we were at my parent's house as is customary for us. I went in to talk to her for a little while, and had a few nice moments of lucidity with her. Rachel and I talked about our kids, about the nice dinner we had had the night before, and about life and how much we loved her. She responded a few times at appropriate places, asking about the kids, and squeezed my hand to let me know she was there and that she loved me. Then she told us that she needed to say goodnight, because she was tired and to please let Dad or Molly know so they could come up and help. That was my last real conversation with her. I think it was appropriate, talking about the things that she would have been interested in on any normal day. But last night I got it into my head that I needed to go into work early so I could come home early and see her without everyone else hovering and waiting for their turn. I got up at 5:30, with is about an hour and a half earlier than I have been doing for the past couple of months and got to work so that I could get off at 2:30pm.  I tried to stay busy at work but I was pretty distracted, and when time came to leave, I am pretty sure that I left several things in different states of completion. I will get to them later. I got to my parents house at 3:45pm, and went into the kitchen to see how it was going. Molly told me it was not good. I asked if she had been awake at all today, and Molly said barely any, just enough for the lawyer and the witnesses to be convinced that she could sign the updated will that they had worked on the week or so before. I asked if it was still a medication issue, or if it was worse than that, and I think she told me at that point she hadn't been able to take any pain pills that day, but was still not alert. I walked upstairs and saw my dad, kneeling by the bedside with my mothers hand in his, telling her that he loved her. I hesitated a moment before going any further, but my dad saw me and got up. He had me sit down with Mom and asked me, if I could get her attention, to offer her a blessing. I took her hand and squeezed, but I didn't get any squeeze back. I looked into her eyes and told her that I loved her and that I was going to miss her. I sat with her silently for a few minutes, and then she looked right at me. I asked her if she wanted a blessing and I got what I will say is a yes and said that I would call Dad up. But as he was listening on the baby monitor, he was already rushing up. My mom then gave us another precious moment of lucidity and said "I love you." The speech wasn't very clear, and she had trouble getting it all out, but I heard it and that is how I want to remember it, that my moms last audible words to me and to my dad were "I love you." We gave Mom a blessing and my dad said that it was ok for her to go, that she didn't need to feel like she needed to stay, and that our Heavenly Father was waiting for her to come home. He ended the blessing, and I looked down at her. Her lips looked so dry, I wanted to do something to help, so I went down to get some ice chips. My dad gave her one, and she took it, but then immediately scrunched up her face in what may have been a mixture of discomfort and strong dislike, with maybe a dash of frustration thrown in (because after all, she wasn't really thirsty), and tried to spit the ice chip out. She put her hand up over her face and eyes and then she put her hand down, her body relaxed and we could tell she was going. We called for Molly, who had been all sorts of fantastic and patient and supportive and helpful. Molly came up and then my mom left. Quite literally 5 minutes after she received that blessing, and less than a half an hour after I got there. I am so glad that I listened to the promptings I received, that allowed me to be there for her final moments and to be there with my dad and Molly as she returned to be with our Father in Heaven.

I love my mom. I will miss her fiercely for the rest of my life, and look forward to the day, after I have had a good long life of my own, that I can run to her embrace, see her smiling face and tell her that I love her once again. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that has offered us a way to be a family forever. I know that this is NOT the end, that I will see her again and that we will be happy.

Mom, I love you so much, words cannot say. You have been my friend, my confidant, my cheerleader, my example. You picked me up when I was down, hugged me when I was happy and sad, took my own wife and kids under your wing. You made me feel loved and important. I will miss you while we are apart but I know, in part because of your testimony, that the separation is not permanent.

I miss you.

Love Nathan

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Life updates

This last year has been an interesting year to say the least. The engineering firm I work for was added to the collection of companies owned by the Fives Group, a French conglomerate. And for those of you wondering, it is NOT pronounced "5s" It is FEEvs. If that makes phonetic sense, cause it's, ya know, French. They (we) have been in business for over 200 years, so that's a pretty long time I guess. And it seems like they have business interests in just about every sector (automotive, aerospace, aluminum, cement, sugar, composites, heavy machinery, manufacturing... etc). Anyway, their network of suppliers has been a big boon to me personally, it has opened doors into the manufacturing world that I might never have seen, working with the limited resources of a smaller company. There are some pretty crazy parts that I am looking at trying to get built right now, and if it wasn't for the Fives manufacturing contacts, I would be struggling (even more than I am) with finding vendors who would be willing to take the work.  It has also been good, because part of our integration into the Fives family of companies means better name recognition, access to new markets, and the ability to sell our services in new and more competitive ways.  I am working on a project right now worth several million dollars that I am pretty sure we only got because of our association with Fives. So now we are no longer Lund Engineering, we have become Fives Lund LLC. Pretty exciting.
Another development: I was finally able to finish paying off my debt. Now the only debt I have is my house and property, and I plan on keeping it that way. No more watching interest rates, or making sure I am on time with my monthly payment or trying to figure out how to make the money stretch to cover the payments. We can finally start saving again, I have started putting away for retirement again (though I never should have stopped) and we can save for fun things that we actually want. It feels pretty good. My job at Lund has been really good for me.
Also, Rachel has been working there as well. She started in June of this last year, and has been working the front desk with another girl. It has been nice to wander up front and see her. And it has been nice to have her home more often, and not have to drive into downtown Seattle. She gets to put the kids on the bus in the mornings, and I get to come home and get them off the bus in the afternoon. That has been a real blessing. She also isn't stressed out all the time about work, because it is truly a job that we both can just leave at work.
Christmas this year was nice, all my family came to town at some point, even Danny and Makay were able to get away from their wildly successful online business ( and spend some time with all of us. They don't get to do that very often, so it was good to see them. I don't make it down to Utah very often, and the times I have in recent years, have not given me the opportunity to stop by and say hi. We got to go to the Supermall this year with everyone and do our Christmas tradition of drawing a name from a hat, and buying a $10 gift within an hour. We have been doing this for years, and this is the first time that everyone has been all in one spot. Actually I think we were missing Ben. But he works at the hospital and doesn't get normal days off.
I'd like to talk about a few other things, but I don't know if I'm ready to start putting that down on paper.