It is 6AM and pushing one hundred degrees. Relief is found occasionally as the sun plays behind the checkerboard of a sky. I return home by 7:30 and find the kids already in the swimming pool. Thus is life in Las Vegas.
A friend of mine recently had some devastating news delivered to his family. I was relieved that he opened up to me and we were able to talk about it. I’ve been so amazed by his resolve. Despite some hard years recently, he remains positive, uplifting and full of faith.
He asked for some things to read as he makes sense of life with a smile.
Among the first recommendations that I sent was a talk recently given by Dale G Renlund, an Apostle of Jesus Christ. It is called “Infuriating Unfairness.” My friend was familiar with it but we were happy to talk it over again, together.
When this message was delivered, it spoke directly to my yearning soul. I am an optimistic and positive person but I have returned to these declarations a number of times. I am so happy that I have these words of truth that I can apply to areas of my life and help others apply it in their own situations.
Elder Renlund walked through all the most critical scenarios. He spoke of unfairness that we bring upon ourselves and also unfairness that cannot be explained. It’s critical to differentiate the two.
I recommend the whole talk if you feel it would help you. If I had to sum it up in three simple points, I would offer the following:
Thus is life
Unfairness is part of mortal life on earth. We all are here with different physical bodies, different living situations, different natural gifts, etc. Life has a way of setting some up for smooth success and setting others up for a challenge.
We should help others
Whether in our own life or in the lives of others, how we deal with unfairness is part of our learning. We should do our best to grow our faith when life feels unfair. When possible, we should take action to alleviate unfairness where we find it in the lives of others. It’s a form of bringing “to pass much righteousness.” It’s even good for your health!
The Savior understands and helps
The Savior suffered all unfairness as part of His atonement of sin and sorrow. Whatever degree of unfairness exists in our lives, Jesus Chris is aware and active in healing the broken hearts. If endured well, it can improve our discipleship now and our destination in the future.
I am happy that my friend opened up to me. Many people don’t share their pains with others.
My grandpa says that “if everyone sat in a circle and put their struggles in a brown paper bag, one by one they would be read and we would all be happy to have our own struggles back.”
It’s safe to assume that everyone is pushing through something. Until we know how we can help directly, the best approach is patience, kindness, understanding, and love.
But also we can ask, “Where does your life feel unfair? How can I help?”
James Taylor has hundreds of songs. So many of them are unknown. That’s unfortunate. After decades of dedicated fandom and dozens of live concerts, I want to help by sharing some of my favorite James Taylor songs.
Most people are familiar with the Greatest Hits album. It’s a masterpiece of music with eleven quintessential JT tunes and the lovable black sheep of the white album, Steamroller.
I will assume that some minimum requirement of art appreciation is already in place. So with the hope sharing of new discoveries, I’ll leave these greatest hits off of my list.
While most of my list is in no particular order, let’s get right to the song that rules them all.
You Can Close Your Eyes: my favorite James Taylor song for thirty years. Perfect example of his guitar style. Perfect range of singing. He ends every concert with this song.
And now for the rest of the songs
Each of these songs will have an Apple Music link. I also have these songs (and more) in my shared Simple James Taylor playlist.
A few months into the 2020 pandemic, our family purchased a treadmill. I think it happened when I realized that “food storage” does not count if it is already on my body. Our whole family finds time to use it. Candace is especially good at focusing on health and that encourages all of us.
While walking on the treadmill we’ll take time to think, watch, and work. We have enjoyed this simple way to get some exercise.
It’s now been ten months and I saw this graphic today which shows the lifetime stats of our treadmill:
I don’t know what a “fit score” is but I do understand miles. A total distance of 2,903 miles walked. I realized that as a family we’ve walked from North Maine to San Diego, CA.
It’s amazing what you can do when you take things one step at a time.
What now? We’re going to Gump this treadmill. We figured “since (we’ve) gone this far, (we) might as well just turn back, keep right on going.”
Today is Mother’s Day. Tomorrow is my Grandma Stucki’s birthday. She passed away last year. I miss her. I think about her all the time.
Grandma had skilled hands. She planted flowers, baked goodies, and crafted porcelain dolls.
Some time ago, she combined her talent and her faith for some art projects. One of the pieces she made was this bust of Jesus Christ.
I’m so honored to have it now. I keep it on my desk at church. I reference it often.
In my role at church, I sit with struggling friends and happy friends. I meet with couples beginning their lives together and widows who miss their mate.
Some friends are seeking answers. Still others are relishing in personal revelation and just want to share it with someone who will appreciate it. Listening is my favorite part.
Most often, I sit with good people who are doing their best and living well. My only task is to encourage them to continue doing it.
How many times have good individuals done the right thing only to break, or wear away, under the subsequent stress, canceling out much of the value of what they have already so painstakingly done?
Sometimes that which we are doing is correct enough but simply needs to be persisted in—patiently—not for a minute or a moment but sometimes for years.Patience by Neal A Maxwell
Just fourteen years ago, Grandma was forming this reminder of the Savior.
Now she is with Him. I know that.
Stay persistent. Stay believing. Time is always on the side of truth.
And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal lifeDoctrine and Covenants 101:38
The best way to get your news online is by using RSS feeds. It allows you to keep up with your favorite sites.
The best app to use is NetNewsWire on your Mac, iPhone and iPad. It’s simple, quick, and free.
However, I only open up NetNewsWire once or twice a day. I keep such a curated and intentional list of sites that the articles are pretty limited in number. It doesn’t require constant checking during the day.
There are a few news sites that I want to keep up with throughout the day so they don’t work so well in my dedicated RSS app. Instead, I thought I would use Twitter to watch for new posts.
The issue I ran into was that following these sites on Twitter is so busy that new articles they post get lost in the noise. Official twitter accounts for sites like Axios and The Las Vegas Review-Journal are overwhelming. With the occasional new article, the feeds also have promotional tweets from their other projects, retweets of employees and reporters, the same article linked a dozen times, and so many other things mixed in.
I had to find a middle ground between an RSS app and a fully open twitter feed. I found what I wanted by sending their RSS feed to twitter specifically for me and it’s worked out very well. Here’s how I did it.
Everywhere you look, people are snapping photos and recording videos. Our phones are full of these memories and yet digital dust collects on the majority of them.
Every year, new phones are released and online storage is increased so these mounds of personal media can be stored somewhere. Who is going to watch all these videos and how will it be done?
At the end of each year, I gather all of the videos that were taken in our family. All of these videos are then added to iMovie and I start a new project. This year it was “Stucki 2020.” It was quite the year to relive.
The goal is to take all the best video clips and make a single movie to represent the highlights of the year
Some tips on creating the video:
I’ve written before about using technology with intent. It is a commitment of a little time up front that pays plentifully in time and attention over years.
It’s time to tap the glass again. Especially for families.
Apple shared a new site called, “Apple for Kids.” It contains a number of simple processes that will help everyone in the family form good habits with technology. If your house is full of iPhones and iPads, take some time and apply these settings.
A few observations:
- It’s time to stop sharing an Apple ID for everyone in the family. (And I’m very aware of what it’s like to work through Apple ID changes.) Setting everyone up with their own Apple ID will bring a number of benefits now and as they grow older.
- Family Sharing allows a parent/parents to share purchases, services, maintain iOS devices from afar, and so much more. Recently they’ve given the ability for in-app purchases to be shared across a family even. The benefits keep coming.
- Screen Time is free, built into iOS and very helpful. Take some time to figure it out. In our family, the phones become useful tools during the school hours and in the evenings/nights. In the afternoon, the games and video apps unlock for a bit to help our kids relax and have fun with friends.
- I highly recommend that all of these settings be setup in plain sight of everyone in the family. Sit down, talk about why these safe perimeters are being put in place, decide to respect them as a family and talk through any future changes. One conversation can set the stage for success.
- Apple Cash Family is an easy way to pay allowance and save money.
- Family Sharing will let you help your kids maintain their contacts, reset passcodes if needed, and find lost devices.
- Content and Privacy settings are built into screen time. Please don’t allow children to be bombarded.
How important is action?
My sons recently watched Ocean’s Eleven for the first time. They loved it. And now, like their father, it’s their favorite movie.
The movie just speaks to you when you’re born and raised in Las Vegas. It awakens the Vegas Pride.
The other day, I was telling a friend that I’ve noticed a shift in Las Vegas Pride recently.
When I was growing up, it seemed like everyone loved living in Las Vegas. It was the wide open desert alongside the mirage of lavishness. High school dances happened in the school gym and also in five star resorts and restaurants. We enjoyed the mix of small town feeling and international city.
Then something changed.
From 2005-2015, it seemed like so many people were planning their exit from Las Vegas. They would declare that it was just a stepping stone to somewhere else.
In the last five years though, it feels like the Las Vegas Pride is returning. I regularly hear how much people love their home here and the life they have found for their families.
I love to hear it.
I’ve been gathering photos, links and videos that are fun for those who call Las Vegas home. I’ll share a few here for others to enjoy: