Thursday, December 29, 2016

Jubilee in 2017

Through Moses the God of Israel gave very specific laws and ceremonial performances to His children.  There are five books of Moses in the Old Testament that document not just the history of man but these laws and performances.  In Exodus 20 verses 8-10  we find the law of the Sabbath:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work.

But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God:  in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is in thy gates.”  Exodus 20:8-10

The Lord was serious about the Sabbath being a day of rest and renewal.  Moses received additional Sabbath direction part of which is found in Leviticus 25 where he lays out a requirement for a Sabbath year.  Every seventh year the Israelites were to rest from their labors and allow their land and cattle to rest for the year as well.

On top of the Sabbath year the Lord proclaimed that after seven, seven year cycles there was to be a year of Jubilee.  Beginning in verse eight:

“And thou shalt number seven Sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.

Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound…

And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof; it shall be jubilee unto you; and you shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”

Tradition has it that slaves would be freed, debts were to be forgiven and blessings from God were bountiful.

Verse 17 says;

“Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the Lord your God.”

Imagine what a different place our world would be if we followed the jubilee principles today.  Every fifty years we would get to hit the reset button and start afresh.  Since I probably won’t get time on the floor of the UN to propose this solution to the world’s strife I will have to settle for starting within my circle of influence and talk to my family.

As the patriarch of the Terry Pyle family I hereby declare 2017 to be Jubilee unto us.  During this year I ask you to return every man his rightful possessions, forgive any debts , not oppress one another and most of all forgive and forget any old trespasses for which you harbor resentment or antagonism.

Please don’t think that this will be as easy as simply saying “okay” because it won’t.  We like to harbor resentments like old Scrooge McDuck hordes gold coins but to become what we all want, to be an eternal family, we need to let these negative things go away.  Please, just let the old issues go and stop anticipating old attitudes or slights to become real again.

We are all adults, living productive lives so let us treat each other that way.

In order to facilitate this Pyle Jubilee you all have one assignment for each week of 2017.  Once per week you will call one of your siblings and have a real life conversation about them. 

Rules to the assignment:

2.     Receiving a call does not fulfill your assignment to call a sibling that week.
3.     If you miss a call it becomes your responsibility to call back and make contact.
4.     You need to call each sibling before you can count another call to an already called sibling.  I.e. if Lilly calls Megan she has to then call everyone else before she can call Megan again to get credit for fulfilling her weekly assignment.
5.     My sons and daughters-in-law are included in this assignment too.

Obviously the difficult one will be Tyson because of the time zone difference and his work schedule, but there is always the weekend.  Reece’s work schedule will make it difficult every other week too.

To those reading this blog post who are not of my family, I encourage you to “cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound” in your life as well.  Forgive whatever negative you are carrying around with you that is just excess baggage and keeping you from the relationships you should be enjoying.  Let go of past offenses and start reaching out to those you love but are keeping at a distance because of some past deed.  Like by granddaughter sang all week, “Let it go, let it go.”  Trust me your life will be much brighter.

Happy New Year!  May 2017 be a wonderful year full of renewal and hope.

Monday, October 3, 2016

My students give me hope

This semester my class is filled with actual college age kids.  Normally I have a least a few older people and it hasn’t been uncommon for a third of the class to be over 30 years old.  It has been a little different not having people with a lot of life experience to help me by asking questions and relating principles to their current or former work.  But it is pretty fun trying to reach a completely young group.

The first day I played a Ted Talk for them because I wanted them to start the semester thinking positively and this talk is great at teaching us how to push ourselves to act braver than we think we are.  Amy Cuddy is the presenter and she starts by talking about body language and how it affects what we do and how we act.  The link is below, the 20:55 are well worth your time to watch.

On our last day of class that first week I asked the class to take a couple minutes over the weekend to watch any Ted Talk they wanted.  I challenged them to give up 15 minutes of video game time to improve their minds.  Monday morning, I gave them all a piece of paper and asked for a description of the talk they watched.  One of my quietest kids in the class watch the following video about a firefighter.

Mark Bezos, “A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter,” is a great video that shows the power of small acts to affect people’s lives.  This one is about six minutes long, and also well worth your six minutes. 

Naturally I showed the talk to the class and challenged them to take a couple minutes over this last weekend and make a difference in someone’s life.  There were 30 kids in class to hear the challenge.  Today 25 turned in a paper describing what they had done. TWENTY-FIVE!!!  If this challenge had been given to a religious group or a service organization 25 would be a good number but this is an intro level microeconomics class with kids from 17 to 20 years old.  TWENTY-FIVE!! I was stunned, then I read them and almost cried.

A couple of excerpts:

“Yesterday at work I saw a homeless man with his dog in the shade near my work.  I bought him a water and a muffin and took his dog a cup of treats.  We sat and just talked for a half hour after my shift.  The best part was he offered me some of his muffin.  Some people truly inspire me.”

“My dad passed away in 2014, and his birthday is still a really hard day for my mom.  She always tells me stories about him – like how they picked elderberries on their honeymoon.  Son on his birthday (Saturday) I went up to Icicle Creek and brought her home a bag full of elderberries and my dad’s favorite candy from the Candy Factory in Cashmere.  She said it was the easiest that day has been since he passed away.”

“I showed by girlfriend, who has a hard time with anxiety and speaking up, the Ted Talk we watched in class to help her speak up and build confidence.  She ended up spending over an hour on Ted Talks.”

“Invited a girl at my school who is lonely to lunch and a girl’s day.”

From a young man, “My mother was not feeling well because she’s taking a new prescription and she had to take care of both my nieces (9 months and 2 years).  She was so tired from the medicine I decided to help her and take care of them for two nights so she can sleep well.  I hope this counts.”

“I saw my 6th grade teacher at the soccer game on Friday so I went up and said hi.  I told him how much I appreciated him and what he did for me in his class.  He was surprised that a teenager would come up and say those things.”

“I was driving to my mom’s house and I saw an older lady putting some boxes in a storage room.  I stopped and helped her carry the boxes in the storage.”

“I helped my dad’s girlfriend by volunteering to watch her 5 and 8-year-old daughters while she was doing errands so she didn’t have to drag them along.”

I was impressed with both the quantity and the quality of the efforts.  They restored by faith in mankind. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Zoey has graduated! and Happy Birthday Z!

Last week we went to Rexburg to celebrate Zoey’s graduation from BYU-I.  We got there on Sunday and got to spend a couple days just hanging out with Zoey and Reece as we waited for graduation.  Throughout our time with them I just kept marveling at who she has become.

Graduation was on Wednesday and Thursday was her birthday.  During the week she had to study for finals, take the finals, prepare for graduation and entertain us.    She was so amazingly calm and prepared to take it all on.  Previously, I would have expected her to be a bit of a basket case but she was in total control of the situation.  On top of all that, one of the little girls in her primary class had a birthday on Tuesday so she took time to make cookies and had us all walked down to her house to sing Happy Birthday.

I have been trying all week to write this post about her and I just can’t get it right.  I can’t adequately put into words how she has grown over the last couple years.  Zoey has always been this ball of emotion and energy that would bounce around this world like one of those super balls, ping-ponging around like chaos in physical form.  It appears my little Squirrel on Red Bull has gotten off the juice and found a focus. 

I am very proud of her for so many things but right this moment two things stand out.  I am proud that she stuck it out in school and earned her degree, and has a plan to continue on with her education.  She didn’t always want to be in school nor could she always see the reason she needed to be there but she trusted in the answers she received and pressed forward.  

I am also very proud of the relationship she is building with Reece.  It is amazing to me how being around the right people can affect change in us.  He is this great calming influence on her because she trusts him completely.  Without reservation she knows that his only concern is her welfare.  She reciprocates this love with her dedication to him.

One of the really cool things that happened before they got married was a talk Zoey had with Reece’s mother.  In essence Mary told her, “I have raised Reece to be a good man.  It is now your responsibility to support him and encourage him to continue to grow.”  I think that scared her a little but she has accepted that responsibility and is trying to become the best partner in this relationship that she can be.  I like the partnership, I think they are great and are going to do great things together.

It has been fun to watch those two start their married life learning how to love and support each other.  They have done a great job of making a plan and getting to work.  They have learned to adjust and find a way, they don’t give up when they find a flaw in their plan, they just adjust and keep moving.

Sunday at church one of the speakers talked about persevering through difficulties and tests.  He told a story about playing basketball in high school and going to the free throw line with no time on the clock and a chance to win the game.  He talked about how he remembered all the training and practice he had done in preparation for that moment.  His first shot went in to tie the game but he missed the second, they went into overtime but his team eventually lost.  He talked about how missing that second shot and then losing the game affected him, he struggled to keep on playing the game he loved.

If you know Zoey or have read my other posts about her you will know that she has had her fair share of successes but those successes have always come after she has persevered through difficulties.  I don’t mean that she has been picked on or her life has been one long stream of trials and problems, it is just that there always comes a point where things are hard and she has to consciously decide “this is worth it.”  

So last week Zoey had a birthday.  Happy Birthday!  She also officially graduated from BYU-Idaho.  Congratulations!  During her time in Rexburg she discovered the life she wants and the partner she wants to share it with.  Together they have graduated from being individuals to being one and have learned that it is “worth it” to put someone else first.  Even greater Congratulations!

I love you Zoey Bell Bown!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Lilly B’ Squilly

Today is my beautifully wonderful daughter Lilly’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Lilly B’ Squilly!!  I love you!!

Lillavie Christian Leonard and I had a pretty rough start.  When she was born she really didn’t like me much, okay she didn’t like me at all.  It wasn’t really personal because she didn’t like any male.  We kind of got to a point that I could hold her as long as she could see or hear Susan.  One night Susan wanted to go somewhere and leave Lilly with me.  Susan gave her to me but stood there and talked to me so Lilly could see and hear her, eventually Susan slipped into another room but kept talking and after a few minutes she escaped out the back door.  After a couple minutes of quiet Lilly realized we had tried to pull one over on her and she let me have it.  She howled for a couple hours until Susan finally got home.

When she was a couple months old and still wouldn’t have much to do with me I went on a short hunting trip with a couple friends.  I came home with a beard and my whole world changed.  She immediately loved me, seriously, as soon as she saw me it was like everything was right with the world.  She would sit with me, she would snuggle with me and even give me smooches.  Life was good.  I kept the beard until she was in her twenties and it was a pretty hard day for all my daughters when I had to shave it off.

I swear as a little girl she was only clean on Sunday mornings.  She was constantly into things and trying to keep up with Tyson, AJ, Jordan and Quinn, and playing in the dirt.  Thank heavens for Danielle or I’m not sure she would have ever known what being a girl is like. 

Lilly was a dancer from a very early age.  She danced with a great group of friends her age.  One night when they were tiny, they were dancing at half-time of a basketball game out at the college and the crowd was loud and just loved the girls.  You could just see it on those girl’s faces, this was the greatest thing on earth, dancing in front of a crowd and getting that kind of reaction from them.  Dancing gave her some great experiences.  She danced in front of huge audiences at professional and major college basketball games, she danced at Qwest Field, Key Arena and the McCarthy Center.  She won several State Championships and a couple National Championships.  She danced at Universal Studios and Disneyland.

At one point she decided she needed to add soccer to her repertoire.  The problem with that was her size, she was never big for her age.  She didn’t have to tuck her jersey into her socks but it helped keep her from tripping.  What she lacked in physical size she tried to make up in heart and self-belief, limited size but unlimited pluck.  As she got to be about 8 or 9 the size difference became pretty marked.  Her soccer nemesis was Alexis who literally was two of Lilly.  Lil came up to just above Alexis’ belt.  Lilly weighed 60 lbs. after dinner but Alexis was at least 140.  Lilly wasn’t intimidated and she would go right after Alexis every game, luckily she bounced.  The coach would try to tell her to stay away but she wouldn’t and consequently she spent a lot of time on the ground.  I remember her asking the coach to play goalie one day and he told her she would get killed, she wasn’t happy.  Ultimately she made the right choice in giving up soccer for dance.

My Lilly has had opportunities to do many things and has really been pretty accomplished in almost everything she has endeavored to do.  She is wonderful with people, very loving and patient, neither Susan nor I can figure out where she got those traits but she has them.  She is adventurous and is willing to serve you in any capacity you might need.

In her early teens she got the moniker “Church nerd” among our extended family.  Instead of being offended or loosening her personal behavior, she embraced it until it just faded away.  We read scriptures every morning and she steadfastly refused to even read the word “hell” so she earned that nickname.  But when, as a senior in high school, she was asked to speak in Stake Conference she stood tall and proud to declare her love for and testimony of Christ.

Megan and I are total people watchers, it is kind of a hobby.  As I get older it has become one of my most favorite things just to watch my children and see who they have become.  I love, love, love watching my little Lilly be Mom.  Like everything else she has done, she is totally committed and gives her all every day.  Her daughter Lillavie is totally blessed to have my girl as her mother.  She is just so good at it, it seems totally natural to her.

This year the mutual theme comes from 2 Nephi 31:20 which starts, “Wherefore, ye must press forward a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.”  Every time I read or hear this verse I think of Lilly, it perfectly describes her.  She is totally steadfast in her desire and effort to follow the Savior.  You can tell by the way she acts with and reacts to people that she loves her Father In Heaven and all his children, she may be mad at you or maybe she doesn’t like you much, but she loves you and stands ready to help you when you need it.

A perfect brightness of hope is a wonderfully complete description of Lilly’s soul.  I don’t think I have ever known anyone who more consistently exudes a brightness of hope.  Don’t get me wrong, she has had bad days, she has had terrible struggles and heartache but she has never been willing to let go of her brightness or hope.  Even in the darkest, most difficult times her attitude has been “this is terrible right now but it will get better and it won’t always be hard.”  I have stood in awe of her strength and willingness to get beyond struggles.

Since the day I grew my beard Lilly has loved and supported me.  I used to tell my kids every day that I loved them, one day after I told her, in a little disgusted 12 year old voice she told me I didn’t have to tell her that every day.  It didn’t stop me and it didn’t stop her from letting me know she loves me.  It is a wonderful thing to be proud of your children but it is a whole other level of wonderful to look up to them.

I love you my Lilly B’ Squilly!