Seth Godin says there are four stages to every “game” that we play in life. These are projects and activities in which we are involved. We even use game-like labels for some of these: the dating game, the corporate ladder, the rat race. I’d never before thought of them directly as games that could be played.
- You don’t even realize there’s a game.
- You start getting involved and it feels like a matter of life or death.
- You realize that it’s a game and you play it with strategy.
- You get bored with the game, because you’ve seen it before.
I’ve read Seth’s short article several times and wondered about myself. I’ve started to recognize these stages in the games that I “play” at work and home. Looking back, I see myself mostly in stage two: caring a lot about the outcome and stressing that things aren’t going well.
More recently, I see myself being able to step into stage three at times: not taking things so personally, being willing to change my behavior and conversation to be more effective. Stage three is certainly less stressful.
Occasionally, I’ve hit stage four and moved on. I felt like I’d learned all that I would and lost interest in continuing. Not giving up in frustration. More like losing interest in continuing to do something at which I already excelled.
Mostly, I wish for more than this. I’d love the passion and enthusiasm of stage two with the lower stress of stage three in a game that avoids the boredom of stage four. Marriage and family can be this way. Work has the potential as well, though the nature of corporations seems to work against it at times.
A few months ago, we dragged grandma up into the mountains and took some family pictures. We took a lot of pictures, but very few seemed to turn out. Now that we’re finally finished sifting and editing, I’ve uploaded some of the best ones.
We got some really good pictures of Grandma with the grandkids.
And Cheryl always seems photogenic.
A few weeks ago, our family spent a few days at a cabin in Duck Creek Village, UT with Cheryl’s family. We rode ATVs, visited some cool cliffs, hiked around several lakes and rented a boat somewhat spontaneously. And we took advantage of the gathering to take family pictures.
I think the kids really liked riding the ATVs. It was scary for them at fist as they learned. By the end, the level of fear (and caution) had dropped noticeably. The boys both liked the motorboat too. They each took a turn steering.
Of course the best thing was playing with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents while exploring the forest, discovering stuff and having new experiences.
See more pictures in our picture gallery.
I’ve uploaded some new pictures to our gallery. The first album is from the trip my wife and I took to Park City this winter. Thanks for babysitting, Mom and Dad.
The next album is one of our sledding trips to the nearby elementary school. Grandpa came with us on this trip, and I think he ended up doing most of the work. :)
Next is our trip to the nearby dinosaur museum at Thanksgiving Point. They claim it’s the largest dinosaur museum in the world. I believe it.
Last is one from my son’s T-ball game. He’s having a great time, though he still prefers jumping on the trampoline over playing catch.
We like to read stories to our kids, but I think they enjoy it more when we just make things up. We usually allow them to contribute to the story, or make them the main characters, which is probably why they like it.
One consequence of this is that they like to tell us stories too. Sometimes we hear some of the same stories we tell them or plot lines from movies they’ve seen.
On occasion, however, they come up with some pretty creative stuff. Here is part of a story our 4-year-old told his mother that she was able to type as he talked.
Once upon a time there was a little stinglash that was named Brayden. And he was a bright green stinglash. He was a ball. And the mommy was coming to rescue the baby stinglash. And the daddy was coming to rescue the mommy. [Editor: He must know about dragons.]
And the stinglash was going in his cave. And the bear opened his mouth and said, “Let’s go back to our cave.” It was a real bear. And there was a little door in the bear. It made a hole in its tail.
Then the stinglashes go out, and it was trapped. They ate some white bread, and they had butter. And he closed his mouth slowly, and he made himself really grouchy. And he munched the bear’s family. ‘Cause that was the robot bears.
Next, the stinglashes run into the water cave where bats and Batmans live. But they were really nice and could talk. They saw train lights up ahead.
And there was lizards up ahead in the train. So the little lizards got into the train. And the little lizards got out and swam in the water before the train got over them — before the lizards died.
The stinglashes said, “What are you doing in the water?” And the lizards said, “What? What are you doing in the water, you two stinglashes?”
“This is our stinglash water.”
“This is our lizard water. This is our home.”
“Oh, ya right. This is both of our homes.”
“Oh, ya right.”
Then bats came along. “And what are you doing here bats?”
“Um, nothing. We were just seeing if you were okay. But we are protecting you.”
“Can you show me how to fly?” The bat was flying stinglash and the lizards. He stucked his claws in them and made the lizards and the stinglash fly. He didn’t want his stinger, just his body, ’cause the stinger could barely see his cord it pod. I mean his iPod.
And the train stopped on the bear cave. And the bear moved the train. They thought it was moving all by itself. It was a polar bear. It was all lights and his pod.
The bats got an idea and the stinglashes got an idea. The stinglashes stinged their stings in the bear and the bats stinged their claws into the bear too. And they forgot another weapon. They forgot guns. And they got their guns and shoot the bear with all of their weapons. And they got whips and ropes and they shoot the bear and they can go up houses and temples and churches and houses and people. Big people. And ’cause they were too small before.
The people come and the bear was there and the people were too small for bears. It was just a bear costume. The bear was a magic school bus bear!
The magic school bus did magic with his tail. He turned them into a lizards — all green and orange. And the magic school bus — the lizards can fly and the bus — the bear has wings — then the bear turned into a bird, and the bird turned his wings into bird wings.
And, the end.
Pure awesomeness. He tells us stories every night while jumping on his bed.
Well, it’s been a while since I wrote. I’ve started using a Twitter account I created a long time ago and like actually it. Twitter makes is really easy to make comments.
The big news is that Amberly is crawling! I am pretty sure I saw her crawl just a bit yesterday. But Cheryl didn’t really believe me. Amberly has been able to move around by getting onto her hands and knees and then sitting down in a different direction.
But tonight Cheryl saw her crawl about six feet, directly towards the top of the stairs. We rushed to grab the camera. And of course she won’t crawl for the camera. But we hope to catch her at it again soon.
During general conference in October 1856, Brigham Young announced that the Willie and Martin handcart companies had been stranded in the mountains of Wyoming and instructed the Saints to drop everything and go to their rescue. The rescuers battled deep snow and freezing temperatures. They put their own lives at risk in a very real way and succeeded in assisting many of the pioneers across the mountains and into Salt Lake Valley.
Speaking of the prophet, the Lord has said, “[T]hou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth…” (D&C 21:4-5).
The Saints who headed into the mountains that winter were obedient to the commandment of the Lord, as given through the prophet.
The first covenant in the gospel is obedience. We promise to keep the commandments of the Lord. At the waters of Mormon, Alma asked his people to be baptized “as a witness before [the Lord] that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments” (Mosiah 18:10). Those of us who have been baptized have made this same covenant.
We renew this covenant each time we take the sacrament. This is reflected in the words of the blessing on the bread. We witness unto God that we are willing to take upon us the name of his Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given us (D&C 20:77).
One famous story in the Old Testament is that of Naaman and Elisha. Naaman was a captain in the Syrian army and a favorite of the king. But he had leprosy. When he heard that the prophet Elisha might be able to heal him, he traveled to Israel and ended up outside of Elisha’s house. He had “his horses and chariot” (2 Kings 5:9) and gifts including “ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment” (2 Kings 5:5).
Elisha didn’t even come to the door. He sent word by a messenger that Naaman should go wash himself in the Jordan river seven times. Naaman was angry and turned to go. However, his servants approached him and said, “If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it?” (2 Kings 5:13). Naaman changed his mind, obeyed the counsel of the prophet, and was healed.
I can only imaging the character of this man who must have traveled weeks to see Elisha and then didn’t even get to see him. He rejected Elisha’s advice as not being grand enough and then had his own servant point out to him how dumb we was being. That was the moment he repented and chose to obey the counsel he’d been given. Through his obedience he was blessed.
In the April general conference earlier this year, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talked about how prophets are “inspired to provide us with prophetic priorities to protect us from dangers.”
President Heber J. Grant, the prophet from 1918 to 1945, was inspired to emphasize adherence to the Word of Wisdom, the principle with a promise revealed by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph. He stressed the importance of not smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages and directed the bishops to review these principles in temple recommend interviews.
At that time smoking was accepted by society as an appropriate, even glamorous, behavior. The medical profession accepted smoking with little concern because the scientific studies linking cigarette smoking with several kinds of cancer were far in the future. President Grant counseled with great vigor, and we became known as a people who abstained from drinking and smoking.
Starting in the late 1960s, illegal drug use reached epidemic proportions throughout the world. While there were some members who rebelled, the vast majority of LDS youth were able to avoid the devastating use of drugs.
Obeying the Word of Wisdom gave our members, especially our youth, a preventive inoculation against drug use and the resulting health problems and moral hazards.
Elder Cook continued:
President David O. McKay was the prophet from 1951 to 1970. One area of significant focus was his emphasis on the family. He taught that no success in life can compensate for failure in the home. He encouraged members to strengthen families by increasing religious observance. His teachings were a protection from the disintegration of the institution of marriage that came after his death. Because of President McKay’s teaching, the Latter-day Saints strengthened their commitment to family and eternal marriage.
More recently, President Gorden B. Hinckley often addressed the subject of being prepared. In the Priesthood session of the October 1998 general conference he read the story of Joseph of Egypt interpreting the dream of Pharaoh. There would be seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. And there would arise after them seven years of famine (Genesis 41:17-32). It would be so bad that the good years would be all but forgotten. The Lord gave Egypt a warning and enough time to prepare.
President Hinckley also mentioned Pharaoh’s dream during general conference in October 1991, October 2001 (one month after the 9/11 attacks), and October 2005 (two months after hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast). Each time he warned of the need to remember that there will be both good years and bad years.
to pay our tithes and offerings;
to avoid debt, with the exception of buying a modest home or paying for eduction or other vital needs;
to use a budget (to keep a record of how we spend our money, to review our income and expenses, then to plan how to live within our means);
to build a three-month supply of food that is part of our normal, daily diet;
to store a two-week supply of clean drinking water (14 gallons per person);
to build a financial reserve, even a small one, by saving a little money regularly;
to, where possible, accumulate a one-year supply of basic food that will last a long time;
and to teach our families the principles of hard work, frugality, and saving.
These aren’t necessarily in order. We can work on all of them a little at a time. I’ve seen these pamphlets on a table in the back corner of the building near the Relief Society room. They are also available on the Church’s Provident Living website.
We don’t know what will happen in the future, but it is wise to be prepared. We should not, however, “run faster than [we have] strength” (Mosiah 4:27). The First Presidency specifically asks us to “be wise” and to “not go to extremes.” There is nothing new in this counsel. The principle of preparedness has been taught by prophets and apostles for decades. It was in the April 1937 general conference that President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., first counselor in the First Presidency, challenged members of the Church to store a year’s supply of food.
However, President Hinckley reminds us that the economy is fragile. It is important to begin or continue our preparations. There are signs of economic turbulence not seen since the Great Depression, nearly 80 years ago.
On Friday, just two days ago, IndyMac Bank went bankrupt and was taken over by the federal government. It is the second largest bank in history to fail. It is important to note that everyone who had money deposited in the bank will get it back from the FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which took control of the bank.
The FDIC was created by Congress in 1933 to insure bank deposits and handle bank failures. It recently began bringing experienced agents out of retirement, specifically those who handled the turmoil of the Savings and Loan Crisis of the late ’80s in which 747 savings and loans institutions failed and over 750 more closed their doors.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the national unemployment rate is 5.5%, up from 4.5% a year ago. However, if you include people working part-time who would rather be working full-time and those who have been unemployed for so long that their unemployment benefits have run out, the number is almost 10%.
Last December, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released its official Financial Report of the United States for 2007. Unlike most government budget reports, this one follows the generally accepted accounting principles that all public companies are required to follow when reporting on their own finances. It states:
[T]he U.S. government’s total reported liabilities, net social insurance commitments, and other fiscal exposures continue to grow and now total approximately $53 trillion–up more than $2 trillion during fiscal year 2007.
…This translates into…approximately $455,000 per American household.
…[I]t seems clear that our nation is on an imprudent and unsustainable long-term fiscal path that is getting worse with the passage of time.”
To give you an idea of how much money that is, the government collects about $2.6 trillion each year in taxes. If the government spent all of its income on getting itself out of debt, and canceled every other service it provides, it would take over 20 years. This is the equivalent of someone making $50,000 a year owing $1 million on a credit card, though the interest rate would be relatively low. It is important that we are prepared for an uncertain economic future.
There is one other area of obedience that is mentioned so often that many of us have had it memorized since Primary. We need to pray, read the scriptures and go to church. In fact, scripture study, prayer and church attendance are three of the most important commandments. They are the first three actions our missionaries teach people who are learning about the gospel. They are also the foundation for any relationship we have with God.
Simple obedience to the word of the Lord, as given through His prophet, will strengthen our faith, confirm our testimonies, protect us from dangers, and prepare us for whatever the future holds. Some may view the commandments as restricting personal freedom. Anyone who has been addicted or trapped in debt can testify that commandments ensure our freedom and protect our agency. They teach us who God is and how we can be like him.
We have recently sustained a new President of the Church. Elder Cook described President Monson as having “been prepared by the Lord from his youth to be the prophet.” He was called as an Apostle at the age of 36 and has served for over 44 years.
In his first general conference address as President of the Church, President Monson said “it is our duty to live our lives in such a way that we may be examples of righteousness for others to follow.” He repeated the prophet Brigham Young’s counsel that “We should never permit ourselves to do anything that we are not willing to see our children do. We should set them an example that we wish them to imitate.”
I sustain President Monson and know that if we obey the Lord’s commandments, given through his chosen prophet, we will be blessed and protected in our lives.