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Gabriel

January 7, 2021. It was too late, really, to be singing Christmas hymns. Two weeks had passed since that high holy day. A new year had dawned; winter semester was underway. But in the stillness of that delivery room in the Orem Community Hospital - with Lia resting exhaustedly in bed and our new baby boy sleeping peacefully in my arms - I figured I could sing what I pleased.
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For All the Saints

When I was in the MTC, our district had a theme song of sorts: the hymn “For All the Saints.” We sang it often and with brio. We sang it again in the mission home, tearfully, at the opposite end of our mission.
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Messengers of the Covenant

Before the beginning was the Covenant.

"Everlasting covenant," said the Prophet Joseph Smith, "was made between three personages before the organization of this earth and related to their dispensation of things to men on the earth. These personages, according to Abraham's record, are called God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the Witness or Testator."
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Ninety and Nine

President Nelson turns ninety-nine this week: 99 on 9/9. Such a milestone prompts gratitude for his ministry and reflection on his teachings. During his presidential tenure, I have seen the prophetic mantle descend on President Nelson in an indelible and undeniable way. When he speaks in his prophetic office, the world around me seems to fade, and his words sail straight to my soul.
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Called to Serve

I was doing just fine until I saw my wife’s face. There we were, just a few days ago, standing in the MTC’s underground parking lot, sending our oldest daughter into the mission field. I looked up from handing Julia’s luggage to a missionary attendant only to see Lia’s tear-streaked face as she fiercely hugged our firstborn farewell.
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Joseph's School

In January 1833, Joseph Smith wrote from Kirtland to Church leaders in Missouri. The Prophet included with his letter a priceless attachment—one of the longest and most breathtaking revelations of his entire career.
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My Accidental Neighbor

It was early morning, and the law school building was quiet and still. I walked to my office through mostly empty halls. As I approached my office door, I saw a student at the far end of the hall, sitting on a bench alone. I felt a distinct impression. “He is having a hard time,” the Spirit nudged. “Go talk to him.”
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Ebenezer

It had been a very long day. The sun was setting behind the northwestern Italian mountains as my missionary companion and I trudged wearily to the last house in the row. It was my turn to ring the bell and make our pitch over the intercom. I offered a variation on our usual introduction before receiving an unusual reply.
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His Mirth

G.K. Chesterton ended his great book Orthodoxy with an evocative reflection on the Savior's mortal life. It seemed to Chesterton that the Mortal Messiah had
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Bus Station BYU

When I was young, I knew exactly what I was going to do when I grew up: I would play professional basketball, break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s (now LeBron James’s) all-time scoring record, as well as John Stockton’s all-time assists record, and lead the Jazz to our first—indeed, our first ten or twelve—NBA championships.

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A Love Letter

Years ago, toward the end of an unforgettable semester, a beloved BYU professor invited our class to his house for a Saturday morning pancake breakfast. Spouses were invited too and, invited or not, we brought our infant daughter as well.
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Not a Day without a Line

The setting was spectacular: the terrace of a centuries-old monastery overlooking the ancient city of Florence. The setting sun had bathed in flame the stunning cupola of Brunelleschi's duomo.
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Immanuel

The BYU-East Carolina football game on October 28 found my wife, Lia, and me watching from two very different angles. During the first half, we sat close to midfield near the top of the western bleachers.
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Saying Grace

A decade ago, I watched our six-year-old daughter (now sixteen) devour a watermelon with unmitigated relish. She gobbled slice after slice down to the narrowest strip of green. I later tried to capture the moment in a sprightly little poem:

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Conference Time

Four days after we arrived in Connecticut to start law school, our four-month-old daughter, Elisabeth, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. Her cerebral-spinal fluid wasn’t properly passing from one brain ventricle to the next.
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Back to School

Years ago, I read a simple recollection from President Boyd K. Packer that struck me with what the scriptures call “a familiar spirit” (2 Ne. 26:16). “On one of my rare days at home,” he wrote,
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Costly Grace

I first learned about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and martyr of the anti-Nazi Resistance, as a BYU undergraduate. Later, while researching for my dissertation, I examined the personal papers of Gerhard Leibholz, Bonhoeffer’s brother-in-law and a famous German judge.
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The Garment of Praise

Twenty years ago, while serving as a missionary in Milan, I did something unusual—at least for me. I wrote a letter of praise to my district leader, telling him how much I admired the compassion, kindness, and energy with which he led our district and loved the people in our area.
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