Category Archives: Fun/Wholesome Recreation

Never Been Easier To Share Your Life With Others

When I started writing my personal history, I was 18 years old, just out of high school, and I found it difficult simply to get started. I bought a nicely bound journal, but I wanted to start on scrap paper so that it would look good for my kids and grandkids when I wrote my thoughts in the journal. I had untold false starts and threw away tons of scrap paper with scratched out paragraphs. I was young, but I still wanted to include some challenges that I had experienced, some times when I succeeded, as well as times when I felt things down deep. I wrote about people who were important to me. After several months, I had about thirty pages of my life to date, and I was pleased with it.

I wish I had had this list of starter questions. It would have made it tons easier, possibly with fewer false starts. I happen to be a person who loves to ask questions. Maybe there are some questions on this list that makes family history easier for you?

Dave As A Baby

Dave As A Baby

Once you get a good start on what you want to leave behind about yourself, if you wish to consider doing something similar for your parents, grandparents, or other ancestors, a 30-page booklet called My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together is an easy way to get you kickstarted. You can print the PDF file or fill it out online for free.

Hope this helps you to get started on your family history. I’ve had a lot of fun gathering info over the years, and I hope you find it fun, too.

Dave with his barbershop quartet from high school, at the state fair

Dave with his barbershop quartet from high school, at the state fair

Teaching Happens…

Teaching styles are so important. It seems to me that every person who hates math can trace it to a teacher that they say made them hate math. Every person I know who loves math can trace it to a teacher that they say made them love math. I love math, and it’s because of my 7th Grade math teacher, Ms. Jane Crowley. It wasn’t one thing she did that made the difference, but a lot of little things, or more probably, simply in the way she taught us. She loved math, and that alone went a long way to help us to love math. Her husband’s job changed, and she moved away, so we threw her a goodbye party at the end of the year. We altered the lyrics a bit of the title song of the movie, “To Sir. with Love” and sang “To Jane, with Love”. She cried and hugged all of us. Wherever you are, Ms. Crowley, we still thank you.

When our daughter, Whitney, was a teenager, Kim and I struggled to teach her to trust our judgment and to use good judgment herself. Whit would push back quite a bit and try to get us to reverse some family decisions (just as any teen does). Most of our discussions centered around receiving the Holy Ghost, which helps each of us to know the right way. When Whitney started driving, she became very quickly a responsible driver. One week, a friend invited Whitney to a party, and she asked Kim if she might plan to go and whether she could use the car. Kim replied that she trusted Whitney’s friend, but that for some reason, she was uncomfortable with Whit attending that party. After some discussion, Kim suggested that Whitney ask me. When Whit asked, I replied that I trusted her friend, but that for some reason, I was uncomfortable with her attending that party. Whit explained that Mom had given her the same answer, and after some discussion, we left it up to Whit to make the decision. We knew Whitney had experience receiving the Holy Ghost and was generally a responsible decision-maker. She considered our counsel and then decided to plan to go. On the night of the party, as she drove to her friend’s house, Whitney happened to misjudge a center divider on a freeway overpass, overcorrected, amazingly managed to keep control of the car while blowing out three tires and bending two rims before coming to rest at the far end of the bridge just at the top of a plunging hill. As she caught her breath afterwards, she said, “OK, Heavenly Father, I get it. You don’t want me to go to this party. Next time, I’ll listen more deeply to my parents.” From then on, Whitney always trusted our judgment, stopped giving us grief, and no longer challenged our authority. It was one of the best lessons ever in our family, and we weren’t the teachers—It was the Holy Ghost who taught Whitney that night. All we did as parents was to create the right environment for teaching to happen.

When I think about our teaching style, I don’t think it was one thing that made the difference, but a lot of little things, or more probably, simply the way we taught our kids. We love to receive the Holy Ghost, and that alone went a long way to help our kids to love to receive the Holy Ghost.

I think some of life’s best teaching moments just seem to happen as life unfolds.

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Teaching Happens Through Prayer...

Teaching Happens Through Prayer…

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header photo, “Father And Child Light A Menorah”—www.
  • Photo, “Teaching Happens Through Prayer…”— family-praying-921856-tablet.jpg
  • Photo, “Teaching Happens Through Study…”— dominican-republic-early-morning-seminary-1206571-tablet.jpg

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Teaching Happens Through Study...

Teaching Happens Through Study…


What Parenthood Has Taught Me About God: How He Relates To Me, How I Relate To Him

One of my sons just became a father. Words cannot describe how happy he and his wife are. His hopes for his son are unbounded. It started me thinking about my relationship with God.


Sometimes, Life Takes Us By Surprise...

Sometimes, Life Takes Us By Surprise…

Over the years, life has taught me that God wants me to come as I am. He wants me to learn to be happy regardless of my circumstances, problems or pains, successes or failures. If I’ve got mud on my face, He’ll take me that way. If it will make me happier, He hands me a washcloth. While He may not care about the mud of dirt, He wants me to avoid face planting in the spiritual mud, and He patiently stands by and welcomes me back each time I’ve hit the mud puddles again. Importantly, He expects the same of others around me, encouraging those with ears to hear to welcome me back as well. As I receive the washcloth over and over, eventually I can teach myself to face plant only when there’s a good reason (like when it’s actual mud of dirt and there are grandkids around who need to be taught by example to love playing in the mud).

Father working with son in gardenI have learned that God wants me to let go of my past, to let go of the ungodly, unrighteous things I’ve done when I was pushing Him away, when I was singing not His song but rather my own discordant one. He wants me to be comfortable showing up, participating with gusto, practicing over and over, without putting on a false front or prettying myself up first. I can come and sing, mud, sour notes, and all.


Sunday-go-to-meetin' Clothes For General ConferenceMore importantly, I really think that God also wants me to put my best foot forward. When I don my Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes, I show respect for God by putting on the best that I have, whatever that is for me.


father and three of his children work together to wash a carMost importantly, God wants me to keep on keepin’ on. He doesn’t want me to get stuck.

He doesn’t want any of us to get stuck.

father dances with his daughter in their homeThe enemies of God try to convince me that I can’t improve or shouldn’t improve, that I’m a lost cause, that there’s simply no use in trying, that it’s silly to learn the dance and sillier still to try to hear the music. I’m here to tell you that they’re wrong. Real life begins when I decide to progress, to progress continually, to progress towards Him. God wants me to get off my duff and to get moving in His direction. And according to His principles. He wants me to know that He’s beside me, as I learn to improve, as I learn the joy of the dance. Joy isn’t an emotion; it’s a decision. As I keep practicing with joy in my heart, God is especially thrilled when I go beyond just the dance steps and start to hear the music. How sweet the sound!

father in Portugal sits with his children in their living room to read from the scriptures togetherSo open your mouth and prove how people can change. I’ve changed. My family has changed. We all can change. We all can keep changing. For the better.

God wants to lift us up. Let Him.

We are all His children.
What may we do today to show up, act like His children, and join in the dance?
What may we do today to improve?

father in the Philippines plays with his daughter while she is on his shoulders

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Bonus Materials:

1. “Times when families laugh together are among the most precious times a family can have.” —Mister Rogers

2. Video, “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father”:
Watch/download at the link or via YouTube below:

3. Read, watch or listen: Wilford W. Andersen, “The Music of the Gospel”, Apr 2015 LDS General Conference.

4. Read, watch or listen: Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best”, Oct 2007 LDS General Conference.

Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud

Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header photo, “Children Playing Around The World: In Indonesia, playing with a water buffalo friend with rays of sun through foliage”—
  • Photo, “Sometimes Life Takes Us By Surprise…”—www.
  • Photo, father-working-with-son-in-garden—www.
  • Photo, Sunday-go-to-meetin’-clothes-for-general-conference—www.
  • Photo, father-and-three-of-his-children-work-together-to-wash-a-car—www.
  • Photo, father-dances-with-his-daughter-in-their-home—www.
  • Photo, father-in-Portugal-sits-with-his-children-in-their-living-room-to-read-from-the-scriptures-together—www.
  • Photo, father-in-the-Philippines-plays-with-his-daughter-while-she-is-on-his-shoulders—www.
  • Photo, “Mud And Rugby, Rugby And Mud”—; Morgan Treacy is an outstanding Irish photographer, acclaimed for his sports photography and especially for his action shots of rugby
  • Photo, “Proud New Dad”—from private collection

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Proud New Dad

Proud New Dad

What Matt Brown Teaches Us All About Commitment

Faith, Discipline, Excellence: The Extraordinary Matt Brown

Faith, Discipline, Excellence: The Extraordinary Matt Brown

Matt Brown is a wrestler. And he’s a man of commitments. Penn State’s Mike Bacior explains. Let’s look closer:

Commitment is (a) a promise to do or give something, (b) a promise to be loyal to someone or something, and (c) an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.

Let’s take these in reverse order.

  1. Restricts your freedom of action:
    Once I commit to go to a certain medical school, I also limit my options. While in school, my schedule may not be my own. I can’t poke or prod people in fun anymore. I am no longer free to walk by an injured person on the street without taking action. “The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.”—Rollo May, The Courage to Create, Page 21.
  2. commit-to-give-hands-upA promise to be loyal:
    Once I commit to think for myself, I also have to take responsibility for mistaken thoughts. But through making these mistakes, I learn to have my own voice, to be loyal to myself. The mistakes are not nearly as vital as having thoughts of my own. “It’s not so important that you have correct thoughts as that you have thoughts!”—Arthur Henry King (see also his reading list).
  3. A promise to give:
    Once I commit to give my hand in marriage, I also promise to do many things. And I promise not to do many things. Many of which have much to do with (1) and (2) above. “Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love.”—Erich Fromm

Matt Brown is a man who commits. He loves winning. He loves wrestling. He loves his faith. He loves his wife.

I have learned to practice the three lessons above. I think for myself. Rather than embrace my fear of commitment, I commit and embrace the accompanying restrictions on my freedom of action.

One thing I love about my six adult children is that they have learned these same lessons. Wrestling helped. Or maybe they learned it from rugby, football, or lifeguarding. Maybe they do it because they saw that their mom and I commit. Regardless, they apply these same lessons every day. They are committed to their families, to their faith, to themselves, to becoming their best self. And like Matt, they have found that by giving of themselves, they find themselves. Each day, they put away their fear and choose to commit.


Some people try to get you to fear commitment. Many know the blessings of commitment. Matt Brown is one of many who know.

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Bonus Materials:

Julie Beck describes women who know to commit and who lead others to commit. Read, watch or listen. Julie B. Beck, “Mothers Who Know”, Oct 2007 LDS General Conference.

Matt Brown on making choices to use time wisely.


Matt Brown, Committing Yet Again

Matt Brown, Committing Yet Again

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header photo, “Faruk Şahin (US Army) Throws Mark Rial (Gator Wrestling Club) at USA Wrestling World Team Trials, 31 May 2009”—www.
  • Photo, “Faith, Discipline, Excellence: The Extraordinary Matt Brown”—
  • Photo, commit-to-give-hands-up—
  • Photo, commit-man-diving-off-cliff—
  • Photo, “Matt Brown, Committing Yet Again”—
  • Photo, “Decide. Commit. Succeed.”—

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Burning Lessons In The Brain: A Child’s Formative Years

The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.

Kid On TractorI grew up on a farm in Missouri, and many of my early lessons were about work. Mowing the fields by tractor took half a day, but it reduced the chiggers when we ran to the pond to swim each afternoon. We spent three hours each morning weeding the gardens; somehow, despite hating it, we learned that the painstaking care itself seemed to make the vegetables taste better. We’d sit in the yard for hours to shell peas, snap beans, or strip corn of the cob, and Mom would have us singing the whole time to pass the time faster. It was in the home that I learned the sweet rewards of self-imposed hard labor.

Dr. Glenn J. Doman wrote on the importance of creativity and breadth in early childhood experiences:

“The newborn child is almost an exact duplicate of an empty … computer, although superior to such a computer in almost every way. … What is placed in the child’s [mind] during the first eight years of life is probably there to stay. … If you put misinformation into his [mind] during [this period], it is extremely difficult to erase it.” Dr. Doman added that the most receptive age in human life is that of two or three years. [How to Teach Your Baby to Read, Dr. Glenn J. Doman, (1963), Pages 43-45.]

In an article entitled “A Day at the Beach”, Arthur Gordon tells how one of his early lessons was the importance of family time:

Swimming After The Work Is DoneWhen I was around thirteen and my brother ten, Father had promised to take us to the circus. But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgent business required his attention downtown. We braced ourselves for disappointment. Then we heard him say, “No, I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.”

When he came back to the table, Mother smiled [and said,] “The circus keeps coming back, you know.”

“I know,” said Father. “But childhood doesn’t.” [A Touch of Wonder (1974), Pages 77-78.]

The blessings of starting early at home are real. Close families don’t emerge overnight. It takes work, and it’s all worth it—They grow up, take responsibility, and start families of their own. And by so doing, they learn some of the sweetest lessons life has to offer, such as, a child’s future is worth every sacrifice:

The hearth at home is the heart of learning. I’ve learned for myself that lasting lessons are learned at home.

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Life in the Woods at Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond

Life In The Woods At Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond

Bonus Materials:

1. Gordon B. Hinckley stated

The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place nor fulfill its essential functions.

2. Read, watch or listen to Thomas S. Monson, “Constant Truths for Changing Times”, Apr 2005 LDS General Conference.

3. Read, watch or listen to Robert D. Hales, “Strengthening Families: Our Sacred Duty”, Apr 1999 LDS General Conference.

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, kid on tractor—www.
  • Photo, swimming after the work is done—www.
  • Photo, “Life In The Woods At Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond”—From personal collection
  • Photo, “Make Way For Ducklings! And Kids!”—From personal collection

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Make Way for Ducklings! & kids!

Make Way For Ducklings! And Kids!


Selfless Gifts, Simple Gifts

When I think of Christmas stories of being selfless, I don’t have any personal stories of great import. That may be a good thing. I think of fairly normal things. Like when I was in college and got a bunch of friends together to walk the halls of retirement homes singing Christmas carols and sharing cookies, simply because my family had always done that, and I missed it. Service was just a part of our upbringing.

Or my first Christmas when I lived in Argentina, and the culture was so different — December falls in summer on the other side of the equator, so I had a decision to make. Would I choose to focus as did many North Americans on the fact that there were no Christmas colors (such as red & green), no carols, no decorations, few Christmas trees, no gift giving (since gifts are given two weeks after on Day of the Three Kings, January 6), few Christmas stories, just beer and fireworks? Or would I instead choose to focus on the fact that Argentine culture simply differs from mine, that people celebrate differently than I, that I should go and enjoy the dancing, learn to love polkas and chacareras as much as they, see beyond differences between Papá Noel and Santa Clause to see the similarities their roles represent, and just sit and enjoy the eating and talking and eating and talking ’til the wee hours of the morning? Enjoying cultural differences was just part of my upbringing. So was deciding to love other people as they are. As I made the less fleeting decision, I made their experience my experience, made Argentines my family, made their stories part of my family story. And now I miss those times, actively miss the differences, sorely miss the people.

I think one of the best things I can do at Christmas is to learn to get outside of myself and make the season not about me but rather about the people around me. If it’s about me, the season may be frenzied and unsettling. If it’s about others, I may find my days merry and bright.

My mental and spiritual state can be independent of the culture, the geography or the weather. I can bring my own mental snow, mental flocking, mental glowing white candles. I have learned that a white Christmas isn’t just an ideal; it’s a state of mind.


Other selfless Christmas stories below. Enjoy!

A young boy gives selflessly to another child in need:


John Rhys-Davies retells the story of Luke Chapter 2:


John Rhys-Davies explains the importance of the Christmas story:


Cloverton Hallelujah: Love the chords, and I applaud the holiday lyrics which magically upgrade this gorgeous ballad with Cohen’s discordant words into something we love to sing. Thank you, thank you, Cloverton, for the wonderful music!

Here’s the audio:

Here’s the video with audio muted:

I love the changes in the lyrics, and I find this verse particularly meaningful:

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah


The first gift of Christmas wasn’t from a store. What does love mean to you? Life? Peace? Or hope?

(Or watch/download same video at link.)


From our family to your family — This season and always, may you have many selfless moments and simply find magic in these moments!

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family


In What Ways Do Mormons Serve Others In The Community? Our Family’s Answer.

What Can You Do For Your Community?

What Can You Do For Your Community?

Reader Question:
Last weekend, a friend asked, “In what ways do Mormons serve others in our community?”  

Family Answer:
Good question. In our family, and as Mormons, we believe strongly that sincere, honest questions are always a good thing. To gather other answers to this question, we talked to our adult kids, and here are the answers we gathered:

1. Joseph Smith taught us that we are “to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or in any other, or in no church at all.” (Times and Seasons, 15 Mar 1842, Page 732.)

2. Here’s an example of how we strive to help others In the Church of Jesus Christ. A handful of women touched the life of a youth named Lynne when her stepfather died. Because she saw these sisters help at a critical time when she was a teenager, Lynne was determined to take her turn to serve when she grew older. As an adult, she shared this story.

“A young mother in my congregation, one of my friends, suddenly lost her only child, a beautiful three-year-old daughter, to an infection that took her life before the doctors were even aware of how serious her illness was. The other counselor and I went to the house as soon as we heard of little Robin’s death. As we approached the screened patio door, we heard the father (who was not a member of our Church) sobbing as he talked long distance to his mother. Looking up, he saw us and, still sobbing, spoke into the phone: ‘It will be all right, Mother. The Mormon women are here.’ My turn once more.” (Daughters in My Kingdom, Chapter 10, “Live Up to Your Privilege”, Page 178.)

3. In our family, we like to serve at the local community kitchen, at an interfaith shelter during the winter, at a senior center, or at a local food warehouse. We want to get out of our comfort zone to rub shoulders with people in our community in a number of ways. I think it’s particularly important to do this with people who aren’t like me. It’s important to us not only to write a check but also to donate our labor free of charge and to make new friends by sharing our time and our conversations.

We hope this answers your question and helps you to understand us better, to understand better how your Mormon neighbors serve in your community, and how you may help them out by serving together.

And let us know how we may help you further! If you find that you have any questions about religious issues that you’ve been wondering about or that you haven’t been able to get good answers to, feel free to continue on discussion with us. It turns out that there are a lot of people with questions, and most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. In our family, it is our experience that answers are out there, that God wants us to have them, and that they tend to be answers we like and have learned to appreciate. Working together with Heavenly Father allows anyone to find certainty in uncertain times.

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

How Can You Have Fun Doing It?

How Can You Have Fun Doing It?

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Bonus Materials:

1. Get Involved In Your Community Service

2. What Can We All Do?

3. Mormon in America: A guided tour of an LDS Bishop’s storehouse

There are bishop’s storehouses in many locations around the world.

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “What Can You Do For Your Community?”, from “Helping Hands Day Is A Community To Community”, The Davis Enterprise (Davis, California), dated 21 Sep 2014—www.
  • Photo, “How Can You Have Fun Doing It?”, from “Helping Hands Day Is A Community To Community”, The Davis Enterprise (Davis, California), dated 21 Sep 2014—www.

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