LDS-focused Social Networking

Today I was introduced to LDS.biz. I have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking accounts. When I saw this one, though, I immediately signed up. Here is a chance for members of the Church to connect for business or other interests. I like the idea.

Remembering Granddad Robbins

While I was visiting Travis and Traci in Florida last weekend, I took the opportunity to visit Granddad Robbins' grave site at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida. When I arrived at the entrance to the cemetery, I was struck by the fact that, although I've been back to Florida several times since we fled the place in 1992, I never gave much thought to going back to see the site where Granddad's body was laid to rest more than 21 years ago.


Upon driving up to the entrance of the cemetery, the scene took my mind back to when we first paid a visit to the place for Granddad's funeral. I remembered riding on a charter bus with a bunch of our relatives. I remembered wondering why we were taking Granddad so far from his home to bury him. As a thirteen-year-old, it seemed like we were driving forever from Ocala to get to the burial plot. When I asked about it, someone told me that Granddad was being buried in a military cemetery as a means of honoring someone who served our country in the US Navy.

The cemetery is laid out in sections. Each grave site is numbered. Granddad lives in Section 110, Site 720. This is a picture of the graves in the front of Granddad's section.
When I got out of my car and walked over to the section where Granddad is buried, I felt like I was going to his funeral again. As I wandered through the headstones looking for Granddad's, I found myself getting nervous and even a little bit embarrassed that it had taken me more than 21 years to return to the grave site of someone I'd spent so much time with as a kid and whose influence defined so much of my life. I wandered through the headstones trying to figure out where site 720 might be located. After a few minutes of looking, I found Granddad's burial plot towards the back of the section. Here's some video footage. You can hear the loud sound of the bugs, and it quickly brings back the feeling of being in Florida again.





You can see from Granddad's headstone that he was an ADC in the US Navy, and that he served during World War II and the Korean War. I'm not sure what exactly an ADC is, but I'll do some research and find out.

The cross at the top of the headstone with the banner on the left side is the symbol for the Methodist Church.
Here are some of Granddad's neighbors at the cemetary. Most of the headstones have the block style cross. Granddad's Methodist headstone is somewhat unique among all the others there.
Granddad's grave site doesn't have a row of graves in front of it. The other burial plots make a kind of apex coming down from the left and right sides to the five or six grave sites that include Granddad's in the middle. From what I could tell, it looks like there are no plans to bury any other military veterans in section 110.

I called Dad while I was at the grave site to ask him about some details I wasn't sure of regarding Granddad's life. We talked about the significance of Granddad being buried there at a military cemetery. Dad mentioned that in that place Granddad will be resurrected when the time comes. It reminded me of Ezekiel's vision in the valley of dry bones:

Ezekiel 37
1 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.
4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.
5 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.


Of the many memories that came back to me one stands out in particular. I remember being woken up by Dad early in the morning. I think it was around 4am. Dad gathered a group of half asleep kids, probably most of whom thought the house must have been on fire or some other emergency. After gathering everyone into the family room, Dad surprised us all with the announcement that our energetic, seemingly healthy Granddad, one of our biggest fans and best friends had passed away because of a heart attack that most likely came as a result of a near-drowning accident he'd had years earlier while mowing the grass next to one of the lakes at The Grove. After absorbing the initial shock of the news and among a group of crying family members, we knelt in the family room while Dad asked God to comfort our family, to sustain Grandma Robbins, and to help us understand why we had to deal with the loss of our only remaining blood-related grandfather. [Grandpa Henline still counts though.]

While I was standing there at Granddad's grave, I calculated that he would likely be 89 years old now had he been able to reach his heart medicine in time or if some other factor(s) would have been different. I thought about my kids, and I contemplated that Granddad would be pretty impressed to see how much Spencer likes sports and how intelligent Maylee is. I figured he'd be honored to share his first name with a handsome little boy named Stephen George Robbins. While I was pondering what role Granddad would have in his extended family were he alive today, this scripture came to mind from Doctrine and Covenants 128:17-18:

17) ...Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse...
18) ...the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect.

After listening to the Education Week talk from Brent Topp (Mom emailed it to everyone a couple weeks ago) about the sometimes not-so-expansive divide between the spirit world and our mortal existence, I wondered if it would be worth trying to tell Granddad at his burial plot the things I would have said to him 21 years earlier had I known it was his time to go. I thought about telling him thanks for the big bucket of bubble gum he bought for me to use during my baseball tournament in Cape Coral, which was held within weeks after his death. I thought about telling him how exciting it was to have him take us to McDonald's for breakfast on Saturday mornings, and how I've continued that tradition with my kids. I wondered if I should apologize for sometimes making his life complicated by harassing Darron and Ryan during our summer visits to Ocala, by wrecking the go-cart almost every time I drove it, by following Robby out to the lake to go fishing instead of taking a nap when we were supposed to, and dozens of other transgressions. As it turns out, the only thing I could get out was a whispered, "I miss you, Granddad!"

My visit to Granddad's grave was not originally planned as part of the trip. I thought of the idea after talking to Travis about where Granddad was buried and checking to see how far it was from Orlando. Having left Travis' house in Cairo later in the morning than I should have, I was debating on the drive south whether I should risk missing my flight by going out of the way to Bushnell, where the cemetery is located. I called Lisa just before I got to the Florida Turnpike (which goes to Orlando) to ask her to check Google Maps to see whether I had enough time to visit Granddad's grave. I'm glad I took the chance. It was a good experience, and I recommend it to whoever can make it.

Message to Coach Mendenhall - Let Your Cougars Loose!




During BYU’s road trip to face Florida State this weekend, I learned some things about the uphill battle that constantly faces the Cougar football team (and athletics at BYU in general) that I don’t think I understood very well previous to what I experienced over the past couple days. I grew up in Tallahassee, playing my first two years of high school football at Lincoln High before moving to Utah and finishing up at Orem High. When I moved to Utah, I noticed a stark difference in the attitude and approach toward playing football. As a linebacker In Tallahassee, I was taught to make a quick read when the play started, fly to where I thought the ball was going, and punish whoever I could from the opposing team. After a good play, I was encouraged to celebrate with my teammates.


During drills, if a fight broke out between offense and defense, it was a good thing. It was an indicator of intensity. In fact, if one of our fellow defenders didn’t step in to help someone who was involved in a fight with an offensive player (this is on the same team, mind you), he would be sent to run laps. I remember on one occasion our linebacker coach, when an all-out brawl broke out in practice, shouting “Get in there and getcha’ some! Get in there and getcha’ some!” while forty or fifty high school players took out their frustrations on their teammates.
When I moved to Utah, I was met with a much more reserved style of playing football. Dancing after making a play was very much frowned upon. Taunting and intimidation weren’t very well accepted either. Instead of being commended for acting that way, I quickly learned that I had better tone it down.

What does all this have to do with BYU football? I’ve made some curious observations while witnessing the last three games played between BYU and Florida State.

The Cougar football team puts on a fireside (a meeting where spiritual talks are given) before each of their football games. I went to the one held in Tallahassee on Friday. Previous to the fireside, I’d heard of BYU’s and Coach Mendenhall’s unique perspective (winning is not a top priority) with regard to the football program, but until last weekend, I’d never heard the concept in Bronco’s own words. Paraphrasing, this is what he said. He’s much more concerned about a player swearing or throwing his helmet down than he is about giving up the touchdown that caused the tantrum. Coach Mendenhall also explained that the purpose of the football program is to teach discipleship, to elicit questions from football fans throughout the world about who the players are and how they could perform at such a high level when so many of them are Eagle Scouts, returned missionaries, husbands, and fathers – family men.
I appreciate that mission. I’m glad that BYU’s football team strictly enforces an honor code that requires them to cut a guy like Harvey Unga (who they desperately could have used Saturday) because he fails to live up to the standards. It’s great to have role models in a sports program who can demonstrate that being an athlete doesn’t necessitate being a thug.

However (you knew this was coming), I’m certain that BYU will never have the ability to really broadcast its message at the level it could while putting such an impractical, demotivating governor on their team as I’ve witnessed while watching the Cougars. That difference is especially noticeable when BYU takes on a team like Florida State, known for its bad boy, in-your-face style of playing football. Each of the games played in this most recent home and away series for BYU seemed like an exercise in futility, even before any football was played on the field. In Provo last year, I strolled the stadium behind the BYU sidelines before the game, and I mentioned to my wife that the players looked more like they were getting ready for a devotional than a football game. The same thing stood out this year. While FSU gestured, sauntered, and otherwise made it known that, in the words of Peter Warrick, “It’s showtime baby! That’s what it is!”, BYU’s mood seemed like Eeyore at a funeral. Not much excitement. No attempts at intimidation. None of the mind games that characterize football and that give an emotional boost to your own team.

So, if I had some advice for Bronco Mendenhall (and what BYU fan doesn’t?), it would be this: let the dogs out on Saturdays. You’re coaching football. It’s an emotional game, one that begs for adrenaline if your team is to win, if your team is to spread its message and have anyone care what you say. I’ll forgive a “dang” or a “heck” now and again if it means the players can mentally take their game to the next level. I can overlook an occasional late hit if it means my players are playing with intensity. The players don’t have to sacrifice integrity in order to play fierce football. Leaving the Mountain West Conference can be a great opportunity, but it means that you’ll be facing less Wyomings and more Florida States. If you don’t teach your men to let it go on the field, it’s likely that your message won’t reach an audience too far outside of Provo.

Salt Lake Mormon Temple


Here's a picture of the the Salt Lake Temple. I'm doing a little SEO (search engine optimization) experiment trying to get this image ranked #1 on Google (as opposed to the garbage they're showing now) for the search term "mormon". If anyone is interested in contributing, feel free to use the image on your blog, web site, or social media page. This particular image is being referenced from LDS.net (http://www.lds.net/forums/mormon.jpg). You can reference the image from there, or you can save it and upload it to your web server. Google's algorithm for ranking images has a way of knowing that images are the same even if they don't have the exact same URL.