joefree's blog

Andrew and Joshua show off dancing skills…

Andrew and Josh participate in our stake youth service project.  It was an all day event involving meeting people from previous decades to learn about how life was then. They also spend all day learning dances to perform that night in a program called "The Lawrence Wright Show"...similar in format to "The Lawrence Welk Show". (we event had a chandelier and bubbles!)

Here are a couple of clips showing Andrew and Joshua's dances.



Samuel Harrison Smith - 4 Weeks Old

Here are a few pictures I took of Samuel at 4 weeks old. He is such a cutie, and so alert. One of the pictures shows him next to a picture of me at 4 weeks as well. I love my little boy!


Easter Talk by Grandpa

I was able to listen to Grandpa's talk as part of Sacrament meeting this Easter day.

My thoughts were, what would be of greater worth to all of his posterity than his testimony of Jesus Christ.

So here is the audio version and the printed version.

I was impressed that he knows and understands so well because as the Savior said "he that will do my will shall know the doctrine".  Grandpa has done his will and has come to know the doctrine and the result is that he has become more like the Savior.


grandpa_easter_better.m4a Listen on Posterous

My dear brothers and sisters,


I am so grateful that I can be here with you who are disciples of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope together we can have the inspiration of the Holy Ghost about the blessings of the magnificent and eternal atonement He performed for us.


As I have studied this week my mind has been enlightened and my heart has swelled with love for Him.  My view of the eternal plan of happiness has become clearer to me as I have thought about His eternal sacrifice and about His grace or enabling power.


My soul has been filled with hope that, yes, even with my feeble efforts and my imperfections and sins, I can be cleansed and clean before Him.  Hope is a wonderful thing to me.  As I exercise my faith in my beloved Savior my fears all fade away because I can see that through His grace or enabling power that after all I can do, I can be redeemed from the fall of Adam and from my sins.  I am filled with hope that I will be resurrected.


Will you think with me about the experience of Thomas the apostle, who declared that he would not believe unless he too had the experience the other apostles had to see and feel the resurrected Lord.  In the New Testament we read, (John 20:26-28.)


26 ҦAnd after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and athrust it into my side: and be not bfaithless, but cbelieving.

 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.”

Does your heart, like mine, swell with love for him as we think how it would be for us to touch His resurrected body and feel the scars in His hands and in His side?  Recall with me the experience of the Nephites when, He, the resurrected Christ, appeared to them some time after His ascension into Heaven from His appearance in Jerusalem.  He healed their sick and then  (3 Nephi 17:10) 


10”…they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did akiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.”

 I believe that you and I too would fall down before Him and bathe His feet with our tears.


Please think about the Savior’s open invitation to us to, “seek Him and we shall find Him, to knock and it shall be opened to us, to have faith in Him, to repent of our sins, to covenant with Him through baptism, and to qualify for the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.  His invitation and His doctrine open the door to the enabling power of His grace for us, not just for resurrection, not just forgiveness of sins, not just to satisfy the demands of justice, but through the Holy Ghost to have His enabling power rest upon us in all aspects of our lives.


My son made an interesting analogy as we were discussing this wonderful power in our lives.  He said that we sometimes think about the atonement only as a fire extinguisher that we only use in an emergency.  However, it really provides the wonderful gift of grace that flows down to us each day and surrounds us and enables us to be strengthened and changed, line upon line, all the time, on a daily basis.


I have great faith that God’s purpose to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children will be accomplished, but His counsel to “be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect” would be impossible without the enabling power of the atonement.  Clearly, that invitation to be like Him, is encouragement to do and to be more like Him each day of our lives.  Elder Bednar points out the universal power of the atonement to help us become more Christlike. These are his words


“Most of us clearly understand that the atonement is for sinners.  I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the atonement is also for saints—for good men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully. ( I think that describes you who are assembled here today.}  We may mistakenly believe we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves, through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline, and with our obviously limited capacities.  The gospel of the Savior is not simply about avoiding bad in our lives; it also is essentially about doing and becoming good.  And the atonement provides help for us to overcome and avoid bad and to do and become good.  Help from the Savior is available for the entire journey of mortality—from bad to good to better and to change our very nature.”



I saw the enabling power of the atonement in South Africa.  Sister Free and I were called as missionaries in the Church Educational System to help strengthen Seminary and Institutes in the New Bedford Stake near Johannesburg.  One of our first meetings was to visit a seminary class in Tembisa Ward.  I believe the class was on a Saturday.  We were a little late because we got lost on the way, so the class was in progress as we entered.  The young teacher, only a year or two older than the students, was in front of the class reading slowly and laboriously through the lesson material.  The students were quiet but not engaged in the lesson.  After class we met the students with their gentle smiles and the very humble teacher.  We invited her to our training meeting to be held later.  She was very pleased and desired to attend.  Our training was quite simple and we tried to engage the teachers with appropriate questions and encourage their participation.  We expressed our love and admiration for them in their role as teachers.


Several months later we were again able to visit the class in Tembisa.  We were amazed.  The students sang a song with gusto.  The teacher held her head up and maintained eye contact with the students.  She knew them by name and asked them thoughtful questions.  They were all engaged in the conversation and a spirit of learning and fellowship in the class was felt.


We saw the wonderful growth in this teacher.  She had become a new teacher through the enabling power or grace of the atonement.  She was confident and she was smiling with pleasure knowing she had improved and she was feeling the peace that comes through the gift of the Holy Ghost.  We were smiling and developed faith and great hope that the lovely saints in South Africa, although disadvantaged in many ways, would be blessed through this transforming power of the atonement.


I saw the power of the grace of the Lord in Rochester, NY.  I was participating with two young elders in missionary discussions with a lady who was 72 years old.  She was so happy that the missionaries had come to her and said she just wanted to repent and be forgiven of her sins, but she was unable to quit smoking.  She said she began smoking when she was 13 years old, so she had the habit for 59 years.  The missionaries tried to help her with a non-smoking program but she could not quit.  On one occasion one of the elders asked her if she had prayed and asked the Lord to help her quit.  She hadn’t but said she would.  On our next visit she met us with a radiant smile.  She said she had quit and that she had no desire to smoke anymore.  She had been changed into a new person.  Several weeks later she was baptized and so pleased that she felt clean and pure.


This reminded me of King Benjamin’s people who said, “…our hearts are changed and we have no more desire to do evil.”


Brother and sisters, I know that the Lord can strengthen us, change us, help us as we seek to be more Christlike, comfort us, cheer us, give us peace, enlighten us, fill our souls with love all through the enabling power of His grace that flows to us through the magnificent, infinite and eternal atonement of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ.

It is often fear of failure or inadequacy that limits our ability to serve or to meet the challenges of life.  Moroni was feeling this as he transcribed the records of the Jaredites.  But the Lord instructed him about the learning process that occurs when we recognize our weakness. He records this

“…we behold our bweakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall cmock at our words.

 26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying:… my grace is sufficient for the meek…

 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them.

Mormon knew the wonderful gift of love that flows to us through the power of the atonement.  Writing to his son, he said,


“I fear not what man can do; for bperfect clove dcasteth out all fear.

 17 And I am filled with acharity, which is everlasting love;”


Moroni saw this power among us as he concluded his record in the Book of Mormon.  He is speaking to the church and to us.  Please notice the action words in his counsel and think about how they have been or can be applied in your life.

 31 … awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled.

 32 Yea, acome unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

 33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye asanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the bblood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your csins, that ye become dholy, without spot.


May His gentle spirit testify to you and me in our hearts so that our understanding grows and so we can be his valiant servants. May the wonderful blessings of resurrection, cleansing, paying the ransom for our sins, and everyday assistance in our lives as followers of Christ sink deep into our hearts. Indeed may He change us into better people this week than we were last week. 


I testify that he lives and that the glorious plan of our Heavenly Father to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life is possible and wonderful because of the enabling power of the atonement.


In his beloved name, Amen

Grilled cheese academy............

How many of us have the fond meneories of a stack of grilled cheese or tuna or other combnation of goodness in the table as you sit down with the family............ Having been challenged and made hungry by this website I issue the challenge of the Free Family Grilled Cheese hall of fame!.........Please use the following website for reference as well as your own personal "tasting" experience.......

Good luck!!! I look forward to the tips and tricks that are sure to follow......

At the Emmy's

We're here and we're dressed up!

Prepping for the Emmy's!

Becca came over to help Kristin with her hair in preparation for the college Emmy's tonight in Hollywood. The Marius movie is an up for an award. Isn't she lovely? Now to get all the way to LA without messing it up!

They are home!

Little David, Rachel and Mike made it home yesterday.  

It appears the issue was the dehydration brought on by little David's changing eating habits and perhaps some inherited sensitivity to lack of food.

They have new ways to keep him interested and eating/drinking more.

We got to facetime them and that was great.

They take David back in today for another blood test to ensure things are good.

Thanks for all of your prayers.  It was great to feel so many pour out their love for all.


David update...



The pediatrician told us to keep on feeding him today and they will also be giving him some fluids though the IV. They are waiting on some more tests that will come back tonight or tomorrow. So, we might be staying the night. David seems to be perking up a little more, which is really good!!!

Little David

Here are the messages we have received from Rachel and Michael this morning about their little David:

We're at the ER with David right now. Mike woke up and heard David breathing very fast, and when we tried to wake him he had a hard time staying awake and sounded wheezy. If you would include him in your prayers this morning we would really appreciate it :)


It looks like he's very dehydrated. His overnight diaper isn't wet at all. The nurse went to go get the doctor to discuss giving him fluids.


(when asked if he was drinking...)
Definitely not. He's hardly had anything in the past two days. We keep offering food and drinks but he won't take it.


He's on an IV (he didn't even cry when they poked him repeatedly) and he opened his eyes for a few minutes and seemed more aware of what was going on around him. He's sleeping again while we wait for labs to come back.


A bunch of labs came back indicating his white blood count is up, red blood count is down, blood sugar is low, and some enzymes are off. Waiting for more labs. He had a chest x-ray, and collected a urine sample, and they swabbed his throat. We're waiting for more results before they give him some sugar.


He's really tired and has slept through so much! They poked him several times to get the IV in, and he was fine through the whole thing.


He woke up enough to open his eyes...but it looks like he is asleep again.

Melinda and Jeff have a new boy! Samuel Harrison Smith arrived at 8:33am this morning at 20inches and 7lbs 10.90z.

After a long night, it started to get light and their son appeared!

New chapter........

So this morning before church I recieved a call from the counseler in the bishopric saying that he would like to meet with me before he left on a business trip today.   So we went to sacrement and setup a meeting in the clerks office for after the meeting.  Jen and I both went in and as the counseler was asking questions about what our plans our, started to get the feeling that a calling was forth coming.  He extended the calling for the 2nd counseler in the Young Mens, as the advisor to the deacons (15 in the ward right now) and assistant scout master.  This would include 10-12 campouts per year, he threw in that they are two for two in Jan, Feb.

He stated that they wanted to make sure that the ones called to help the youth, knew they had a special opportunity to influence and establish correct principles and habits in the lives of the youth.  I recieved at that time a confirmation that indeed, the experience that I had as a youth would serve as a building block for my experience to come.  I was fortunate to have some great youth leaders that put in countless hours and many late nights to help guide me and my fellow youth.  As mutal is on Tuesday and they are trying to have the Deacons do 10-12 camputs a year, wanting the advisors to be able to be there and support the youth.

I had considered my work schedule and how Tuesday nights I am home early and Audrey goes to Mutal.  Dropping her off I remember fond memories of meetings and activites that still to this day have helped me grow into who I am.  I rarely work on Friday evening and Saturday, so that opens up times to be able to go on the campouts and interact with the youth. 

Currently as I am filling out my scouting form for the background check, I am humbled that I get to work with the valiant youth of today!  Helping new priesthood holders to understand the privledge of passing the sacrament, and helping others with acts of charity and kindness.

Thank you Brothers and Father for your example as you have served in various callings and how diligent you have been.  I pray that I will be able to learn, instruct, teach and edify as needed for the youth in this ward..........  Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Oceanside weekend

Kristin gave me a weekend in Oceanside for my birthday. Her grandma lives nearby and is celebrating her 94th birthday so we spent some time with her. Great breakfast at Beach Break cafe. The wall art was in the bathrooms at the cafe.

Your Purpose

One of my fellow teachers at the MTC asked the senior missionaries an interesting question. I wanted to ask you the same question and see what answers we come up with.

As a missionary, you are given the purpose statement: "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."

If there is anything that you are wondering if it is a good missionary activity, you can always refer back to that statement and ask yourself, "Will this help me fulfill my purpose as a missionary?"

The question that my fellow teacher asked was, "What is 'our purpose' for life?"

Please reply with your thoughts and some scriptures if you'd like.

Tristan Silva has arrived.........Pictures to follow as we get them!

Momma is doing fine, Rachel was connected by skype through a laptop, says baby is sleeping in moms arms right now.........