A Stranger, A Pilgrim: Liveblogging El Camino

March 30, 2013

[Update Day 1], [Update Day 2], [Update Day 3], [Update Day 4], [Update Day 5], [Update Day 6]

scallop shell symbol8 Yo te haré saber y te enseñaré el camino en que debes andar;
te aconsejaré con mis ojos puestos en ti.

9 No seas como el caballo o como el mulo, que no tienen entendimiento;
cuyos arreos incluyen brida y freno para sujetarlos,
porque si no, no se acercan a ti

10 Muchos son los dolores del impío,
pero al que confía en el SEÑOR, la misericordia lo

11 Alegraos en el SEÑOR y rogocijaos, justos;
dad voces de júbilo, todos los rectos de corazón.

Salmos 32:8-11

Madrid, March 30, 2013john f.: A motley crew of Mormons walking The Way of St. James might seem strangers on the Camino indeed. This will not be the first time that Jordan and I have raised eyebrows as Mormons in a culturally non-Mormon setting. Nearly fifteen years ago we studied Yiddish together in Vilnius — many of our fellow students young and old, I recall, found it very amusing that a couple of Mormon brothers were among them. Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas Testimony

December 13, 2010

Now that President Uchtdorf has rehabilitated pride in one’s children and family, I feel confident in relating my immense gratitude for my children and how proud I am of how they are developing in the Gospel. My nine year old daughter shared the following testimony in Fast and Testimony Meeting last week:

I would like to share my testimony with you. In primary today we read a poem called The Christmas Guest. In this poem a man dreamed that the Savior was going to visit him on Christmas Day. He was so excited that he prepared everything to be perfect for his guest. But as he waited he saw an old beggar at his door with torn shoes and clothes. He gave him a pair of shoes and a better coat and sent him on his way, wondering what was taking his guest so long. Next an old woman came to his door bent over under a heavy pile of sticks. She asked him for a place to rest and he allowed her to rest in his house and gave her something to eat. But he kept wondering where his guest was. Next a lost child came to his door and he knew he had to help her find her family. So he took her home to her house. When he came home Christmas was over and the man sadly went to his room and prayed to ask God why the Lord had not come. But when he was praying the Spirit told him that the Lord had kept his promise and that when he had helped those three people in need, he had been helping the Lord.

What really struck me about this poem was that the Lord was everyone so when we help everyone we are helping the Lord. And I bear that testimony to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

We have neither encouraged nor discouraged the kids to go up to bear their testimony during Fast and Testimony Meeting but like we did when we were kids, they often choose to do so on their own, unprompted. When they do, however, they have never born the standard children’s testimony one frequently hears in Church*. This is different from when as kids we would go up and bear testimonies because I am pretty sure we always recited the standard testimony and sat back down.

I am grateful for my daughters’ thoughtful testimonies. (I’ve also seen this in Ronan’s then nine-year old son who bore his testimony at a Testimony Meeting that we held in my home at the instructions of our Stake Presidency one Sunday in January when the whole region was completely shut down with heavy snow. — These aren’t the rote testimonies that we used to bear as children.)

Earlier this year, my second daughter, six years old at the time, bore her testimony in Fast and Testimony Meeting and simply said “I am grateful to be a Christian and for the sacrifice of the Lord for me.” and sat down. These kids are miles ahead of where I was at their age. What better way to learn about the pure truths of the Gospel than from the mouths of our own children?

* i know the church is true i love my family i know the book of mormon is true i know president [x] [when we were bearing this standard kids’ testimony it was President Kimball and then President Benson] is a prophet in the name of jesus christ amen

A Personal Update

March 3, 2010

I just started reading my blog and realized that I have not contributed a post for two years!! That went by fast! Kudos to John for (kind of) holding down the fort for that time with semi-regular postings.

So, what have I been doing? Read the rest of this entry »

Sign of the Times

February 27, 2008

“. . . . and when the night came they slept upon their [blackberries].” (compare Ether 15:20)

In my line of work, I periodically — and these days more often than previously — find myself sleeping with my blackberry under my pillow. Is this a harbinger of the imminent collapse of our civilization?

What’s Next?!?

January 9, 2008

With the exception of the last three years, I have been in school, in one form or another, for my entire life. As I look back over the twelve years since I returned home from my LDS Mission to Leipzig, Germany, they are full of personal growth and accomplishment. During the last ten years, I have (1) learned and taught German; (2) studied Yiddish; (3) learned (some) French; (4) attended (and graduated from) Universities in Idaho, Utah, England, and Michigan– some more than once!; (5) chosen and begun a career that I generally enjoy; (6) helped bring four wonderful children to our family; and (7) obtained a more sure testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ than I ever believed possible (in spite of nagging doubts that always tempt the mortal mind). The last ten years have seen personal growth on a scale that I never imagined possible prior to my mission. Read the rest of this entry »

Round yon virgin, mother and child…

November 30, 2007

Whenever the Christmas season begins and we reflect reverently on the virgin mother and her son, my mind always takes an unfortunate turn down memory lane to a personal “coming of age”, the memory of which always flushes my cheeks. Read the rest of this entry »

RE: Long-Lost Musty Metaphors of Yesteryear

October 22, 2007

Today I reminded a colleague of the oft-quoted maxim in patent law that “a patent may not, like a ‘nose of wax,’ be twisted one way to avoid anticipation [finding of invalidity because something in the prior art already did what the patent describes] and another to find infringement.” He just looked at me blankly and asked “what in the world is a ‘nose of wax’?!?” and suggested that I must be making that up or misquoting something. Read the rest of this entry »

Ten Years

January 12, 2007

Jordan got me thinking with his ten-year post and I thought I’d throw a little something out along those lines. Read the rest of this entry »

The Last Ten Years

December 14, 2006

Tanya S.’s post over at Millennial Star about returning home from her mission ten years ago has made me wax nostalgic about the last ten years. I thought it might be interesting to post squibs about approximately where I was at around this time each year for the last ten years. It might help my readers (the ones who don’t already know me well) to get to know me a bit better.

I would challenge others (especially in the Bloggernacle) to engage in a similar exercise, either on their own blogs (with a link back so I can find it) or in the comments section here- it is fun to think back about where I have been, and I would love to see where you have been. So permit me to now engage in a bit of “navel-gazing“… 🙂

My last ten years:

One year ago (2005):
Just finishing up working my first year at this law firm, getting ready to have our fourth child, and working a TON of hours (it was a very busy time at our firm last year for litigation- a lot of “irons in the fire” so to speak).

Two years ago (2004):
Studying like crazy for my last round of law school final exams at the University of Michigan Law School to graduate in December 2004 from law school. I think Church & State, Evidence, and Patent Law were up on the table then. I was also very busy finishing up some papers (in Complex Litigation and my awesome Bloodfeuds class), grading final exams from my German students (I taught undergraduate German at the University of Michigan), and preparing to move my family to Texas at the end of the year. It was a crazy time!

Three years ago (2003):
Studying for law school exams at the University of Michigan– I think Copyright and First Amendment law were the big substantive courses that semester- and teaching undergraduate German. Andrea and I were also getting ready to move to Texas in the Spring to do a summer clerkship at some law firms in Dallas, and one in Phoenix. This was also the year I started blogging on a (now defunct) blog called “Life According to Jordan”, the domain of which has now been taken over by some calling card scam. 😦

Four years ago (2002):
I was studying for law school exams at the University of Michigan- this time is was contracts, constitutional law, and criminal law that were up for testing (typical first year fair)- and teaching undergraduate German. Blah. It was a tough time- very busy. We were also getting ready for the birth of our third child.

Five years ago (2001):
I was still in my Ph.D. program in German and Linguistics at the University of Michigan and teaching undergraduate German courses. However, I had just taken the LSAT and was secretly applying to law schools around the country to get out of the Ph.D. program, facets of which I intensely disliked. I was so glad to be admitted to the University of Michigan Law School one month later, where my family and I could stay put in family housing and where I could keep teaching and have the German department pay my law school tuition (which they did!!) 🙂

Six years ago (2000):
I had just finished the first semester of my Ph.D. program in German and linguistics at the University of Michigan, as well as my first semester teaching undergraduate German there. What a ride that was! I was preparing papers for or studying for exams in Phonetics and Generative Syntax- basic graduate-level courses for the Linguistics aspect of my Ph.D. program. Andrea and I were also preparing for the birth of our second child.

Seven years ago (1999):
I had just completed the Michaelmas term of my Master’s program at the University of Oxford. Oxford has three terms: Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity, each term being 8 weeks and there being an 8 week “break” between each of the three. During the Michaelmas term, I had studied the History of the Yiddish Language and Classical Hebrew, as well as attending series of lectures on advanced literary analysis and the German poet Heinrich Heine (the latter being the subject of my Master’s thesis). Andrea and I were very, very poor but very much enjoyed living in England.

Eight years ago (1998):
I was still in my Junior/Senior year of undergraduate studies at BYU, and was gearing up for final exams. Andrea and I lived in Provo, Utah in BYU family housing, and had just had our first baby. I was also working full time as a Sales Associate at First Security Bank (for those who know it, the branch inside the Albertson’s Grocery Store on the corner of State Street and 16th North in Orem).

Nine years ago (1997):
Andrea and I had just moved out of our first apartment and were living with my parents in South Jordan, Utah for a month until I was slated to begin studies at BYU in January 1998. We were both working at different branches of First Security Bank in Salt Lake City. We had been married in May of this year in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple in American Fork, Utah.

Ten years ago (1996):
I was living in Rexburg, Idaho, having just completed a two year mormon mission to Germany, trying to complete my associate’s degree at a private LDS (Mormon) College called Ricks College (Now BYU-Idaho). I was working as a math tutor, and desperately trying to convince Andrea that I was her man (a successful endeavor, in the end 😉 ).

So there is my long-winded recap of the last ten years. They have been good years, all in all. I can only hope that the next ten will be as good to me and see as much progress as the last ten years saw.

my travels

October 18, 2006

I found links to this cool map service on an old acquaintance’s blog (the once and future craig). The website created this map for me based on my travels (red denotes places I’ve lived or visited):

Read the rest of this entry »