Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wrestling with Angels and Demons

I will completely upfront about this: My daughter, Julia, went to high school with Brandon Davies.

I remember watching Brandon run up and down the court at Provo High, when it looked like he had borrowed his grandfather’s size 17 feet, socks and shoes, and was trying them on his 6 foot 4 inch body for a Halloween skit. In my mind’s eye, I see him sitting in the hot tub, lounging around the pool, and hanging with Julia in the Courtyard of Provo High. I see him shooting hoops with six-year-old Adam in Gym 1, tolerating a rug rat who couldn’t even heave the ball up to hit the net. We watched the Super Bowl together at my brother-in-law’s house and Brandon plowed his way through carne asada, guacamole, and more Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcakes than is healthy.

Brandon’s a sweet and gentle soul. We don’t really make them any other way here. Adopted by a single mother, he’s been raised by committee and community and incredible resilience in Provo, Utah. Having won the gene pool lottery, and grown to 6 foot 9 inches with the wingspan of an albatross, and the demeanor of a golden retriever, he plays basketball for BYU. Make that, played basketball until two days ago, when he was suspended for having violated the Honor Code at BYU. He is, at most, barely 19 years old.

For the totally disconnected from current events, the BYU men’s basketball team is currently ranked third in the country. Prior to Brandon’s public whipping (thought the village stocks went out along with Puritan witchhunts), commentators and bracketologists had the Cougars possibly securing a No.1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Within hours of BYU administration making the announcement that Brandon was suspended, it was national news. I looked up from my workout on Wednesday morning to see film of Brandon as the background for the ESPN morning show. I was horrified. I still am.

Brandon is, for me, the blemished lamb sacrificed on the altar of policy and public relations. I am utterly unable to find any genuine concern for the individual amongst the decision that purported to save Brandon Davies’s soul and BYU’s reputation by dismissing him from the third-ranked basketball team in the nation in the final week of the season. In the process, they blindly, callously exposed this poor child to the scrutiny of millions.

Could they not see what would happen? Are they so without imagination as to not realize that this man-child, with the gentle heart and soul, would be analyzed, dissected, speculated about, and run up and down every talk show and online chat board? Are they so committed to procedures and consistency that it is impossible to contemplate a kinder, gentler way to discipline, one that takes into account the totality of the circumstances? If that were their child, would have they acted so ruthlessly? Does God really require such sacrifice?

Honor Code Office and other suited officials, meet me in the lobby of the Kimball Tower or whatever glass building you take refuge in these days, to explain this process. You have no clergy-parishioner privilege that would preclude you from answering such questions. Explain how it is—without divulging any personal information—that such a decision is arrived at. What harm would there have been in waiting until the end of the semester, waiting until Brandon can privately make his penance?

I was and am still horrified at the shortsightedness of an administration that would expose this child in such a way. It’s humiliating enough to make your slow way to a bishop’s office in the back corner of the church house and pretend you’re there to talk about Tithing Settlement or an Ecclesiastical Endorsement. But to have your attempt to make a right way through life exposed to millions because the policy manual calls for a certain action, and calls for it now, is horrific, medieval and certainly not Christian in any shape or form.

I’m sure I can anticipate the justifications that were made: These are sacred funds; these are the rules; these are the promises each student makes when they sign the Honor Code; he signed the agreement saying he wouldn’t do whatever he did. (And I don’t know what it is or care, for that matter. But one thing I do know, there’s thousands of other freshman at BYU who having those same learning experiences.)

1) Sacred funds.

I publicly promise that my tithing funds can be used in the education of 19-year old boys who are making their way through life, learning how to use their bodies and minds for good, making and admitting to mistakes, making those adjustments that turn them into more reasoned, seasoned and disciplined adults. The same sacred funds are, after all, used to pay for the treatment of pedophiles, porn addicts, abusive spouses and parents, and gamblers (many of them BYU students and alum) through LDS Family Services. I don’t know of any more sacred way to use these funds than to make a place of education where a teenager can be taught and mentored along his way to adulthood with space and tolerance built-in for error. I’m sure there are others who feel like I do: our sacred funds can be used to pay the tuition of those children who don’t quite know how to be perfect yet. Here’s hoping when they are the bishops and branch presidents of the next thirty years, they will show an equal compassion and tolerance for my children and grandchildren’s frailties and flailings.

Just in case you’d actually like to use my tithing to build a chapel in Voortrekker’s Rus, South Africa, make a separate fund, like you did with the Perpetual Education Fund. Call it the “sinning-but-hoping-to-get-it-right-one-day” scholarship fund. I’ll put my money into that. I’ll make a special contribution every month, writing it in under “Other” on the Contributions slip. I’m sure my children will fit into that category when their time comes to be a freshman in college.

2) Have a policy; can’t make an exception blah blah blah!

Policies, procedures and rules are lines in the sand. They can be altered, redrawn, or erased altogether. Policies, and especially procedures, are just best attempts at making principles flesh. Rules are ways to make us feel safe about ourselves. If we follow the rules, then we know we’re in the right way. Neither policies, nor procedures, and especially not rules, are set in stone; all are of our own making. They have not been revealed, nor are they engraven on tablets of gold. There are always moments in which rules are suspended—even God’s lower laws give way to the application of higher laws when miracles take place.

In bankruptcy law, when a debtor petitions for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court determines whether to confirm the repayment plan by looking at the totality of the circumstances. There are a myriad of factors the courts can look at to determine whether to grant a petition, and not every factor has to be considered. Sometimes, courts get lazy and fail to really look at the totality of the circumstances. They apply several factors in an analysis that looks more like a formula than a really in-depth analysis. The holdings of those courts which take a short-cut in their analysis can be sent back for a review that considers the total circumstance of each, individual debtor. Using a totality of the circumstances analysis, the outcomes are not easy to predict. Each outcome is individual to the petition.

It's far easier to apply an equation. But the law does not allow it. It's hard to perform a totality of the circumstances analysis. It requires the judge to put thought and effort into the deliberation, to examine without preconception, and to allow for individuality. Seemingly inconsistent decisions will need to be defended, if appealed.

I promise you, the rest of the world is able to live with the ambiguity and differing end results that a totality of the circumstances analysis brings. I would expect different treatment, even if just in timing, for Brandon Davies than for Tiffany Rogers, age 18, from Sandpoint, Idaho, majoring in Math, and living in Liberty Square, who lines up every home game for admission to the All Sports Pass student section. Tiffany doesn’t have to figure out her life in the public eye. She can sleep with her boyfriend, indulge in online gambling, cross-dress, snort cocaine, get raving drunk or even, evil of all evils, get a tattoo or a second ear piercing in Park City, then make her confession to her bishop in the make shift bishop’s office in the Testing Center. She will not be exposed; not held up for examination. Not discussed on every sports channel across America, and at the circulation desk of the Law Library.

Tiffany is not Brandon; Brandon is not Tiffany. And BYU is bigger than both of them, and can embrace and allow for difference in the application of the principles of confession, repentance and forward progress. Like the ark that crosses the Jordan, the gospel of Christ and the university that supposes to embrace its principles does not need the steadying hand of consistency, of rules to make sure that the university is not caught harboring fugitives from perfection on its sporting teams.

3) The Honor Code

The Honor Code does not make BYU unique. BYU is not the only university with an Honor Code. For example, Haverford College, a liberal arts college with Quaker roots, has one. It’s administered by the students, and created each year by common consent in an all-student caucus.

Perhaps what makes BYU unique is the heavy handedness with which the Honor Code is wielded, like a Sword of Damocles. Do you know that it’s a violation of the Honor Code to take the shopping carts off the Creamery premises? The Creamery is a little corner market that abuts the residence halls. The signs attached to the carts actually threaten to turn the offenders into the Honor Code Office! For using carts to take groceries home.

The Honor Code system and the application of punishment as it now functions at BYU deters the living of an honest, seeking life. It encourages lying, covering up and living with deceit by any BYU student, or faculty for that matter, who represents the university in any capacity. I can imagine that athletes, performers or any other student who is excellent in any way, soon realize that they will have to keep their normal, course of life errors and off-track moments to themselves for the four years it takes them to graduate from this university.

While they’re here, they’ll have to keep their stories straight and their issues under wraps. Any other honest attempt at reconciliation is sure to meet with the modern-day equivalent of a public whipping and then banishment from the village. Sort of like a shunning really. (Dwight would be proud.) So, athletes, dancers, cheerleaders, and Vice-Presidents carry with them the effects of sin—the remorse, the self-doubt and loathing, the inability to completely move forward without looking back—until they leave. The hope is that they still feel to make right once they have left the institution that, out of any institution, should have allowed them to do so within its walls. After carrying the heavy load for so long, it starts to feel normal, the way life is. It’s hard to imagine a different, better way.


The God I know, and the one I hope Brandon knows, is a God of exceptions. Not only is He exceptional, defying predictability and process, He makes exceptions. His prophets, whom he continues to use as prophets and kings, commit adultery. His disciples, even the one upon which he builds his church, deny their Savior. His people try his patience and build golden calves. Yet, he stays his hand. He is not a God of rules or of consistent outcomes. Perversely, we, who call ourselves his people, take pride in an external, consistent application of the law.

A certain woman, taken in adultery, was brought by the Pharisees before Jesus. They told him, with what I am sure were very earnest faces, “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” We all know what Jesus said, as he drew and redrew lines in the sand.

On hearing his reply, each man, “being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one.” I can imagine the weight of the stones the scribes and Pharisees had secreted in their pockets suddenly became very heavy. If I were one of those Pharisees, committed as I would have been to the strict observance of the law and the avoidance of any contact with things gentile or unclean, I would have looked for some private corner in which to empty my pockets. It would have ruined my public image to be seen relenting in the “strict observance of the law” and avoiding the application of the “multiplicity of ceremonial rules” to which I normally devoted myself.

And while I am emptying my pockets and counting my own sins, the crowded village square empties until it is no-one but Jesus and the woman. In a motif as old as time and as timeless as every act that ever wanted righting, Christ and the woman have an intimate exchange about her heart and his perception of her and his faith in her ability to move on: “Go, and sin no more.”

The conversation is as these conversations should always be: just the two of them. No Pharisees, no scribes, no press, no public whipping, no stoning, no flagellation.

Surely there was a better way?

[There is no song that reflects what I feel. Perhaps a funeral dirge, with a lone bagpiper, piping my sorrow and disillusion]


  1. i am ashamed........never thought i would say that. i would like to see these pillars of light that think they shine so bright looking into their own corners and apply just a measure of their own justice to themselves.
    stay strong brandon and know that you are a loved man and are no different than you where on sunday evening.
    its about the organization not the individual...
    shame shame shame!!!!

  2. Go and sin no more?... is in actuality what they are saying when someone is dismissed for a violation like this. Any publicity is good publicity though, right? i am sure Brandon will still find his he chooses to make it: For whatever he choses to stand for, for whatever he doesn't.

    You're a trained attorney, is there anything more here than a signed agreement that was not upheld? He is living a public life, which only should have increased his commitment to his signature. Brandon's signature- what is it worth? on fan's photos, on a National team, on the honor code?

  3. I appreciate your thoughtful words, but I do take issue with your statement that God " a God of exceptions." He is most definitely not. He is a God of requirements who provides a way to satisfy justice through a very merciful Atonement through His sinless Son. There's no such thing as an "exception" to God's commandments. Repentance, yes. Exceptions without consequences, no.

    I feel very sad for Brandon Davies, but I also do not feel that BYU did anything wrong in this instance. Keeping him on the team for the duration of the season would have been extraordinarily hypocritical. Brandon signed a contract and violated it, and I am so very sorry that his mistakes have been plastered everywhere. I would hate for that to have been me. But, if I were playing for a potentially #1 team, you'd better believe I would bust my butt to stay there. And who's to say that BYU won't take him back?

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  5. Beautiful letter. If you see Brandon, tell him there are so many praying for him. The last night I posted "Keep Davies in your prayers" on my Facebook page. Within 4 minutes I already had two 'likes'. We are all praying for him.

    This is something that needs to be discussed. I am currently a student at BYU. I would really like to see this article, or some shortened form maybe, printed in the Daily Universe--the school newspaper--in the opinion section. We have opinions and viewpoints from non-students from time to time and I'm sure they would consider it. Here's the address:

  6. As a current BYU student, I would like you to know that I would literally stand up and clap for this right now... my heart is breaking for him in that his sins and personal life are not able to be kept private. Even when he is completely forgiven and the Lord Himself will remember them no more... all of the country still will. How is a young man supposed to move forward?! So sad.

    - Brittni

  7. And I would also like to say... anyone who says they have kept the Honor code to a T, I will be the first one to call them a liar. Cursing, speeding while driving, jaywalking, letting the opposite sex use your bathroom, etc. are all against the honor code in some shape or form.


  8. I don't know anything about Brandon or his story but so appreciated your thoughts. We all struggle to find our best selves; we all negotiate and re-negotiate as we travel our own roads. How sad that institutions come before individuals.

  9. I was heartbroken for Brandon when I read of his story on CNN/Fox, for the public humiliation he must now be suffering. I can not imagine being 19 (or 47, for that matter) and having my personal sins and mistakes discussed in the international press. I pray that this good young man is able to hold on to his testimony and activity in the church, in the wake of this.

    While I believe that BYU and its students benefit from having and enforcing an honor code, what concerns me about the honor code(and concerned me when I was a student there in the 1980's) is that it is, at times, administered in a way that creates a strong disincentive to repent, heal and move forward with one's life. Your scholarship, team position, job and presence at the university can be taken from you if you confess certain sins to your bishop. (Or if others "confess" them for you, by the way).

    I recognize the essential need for confession and accountability in the repentance process, but isn't there a way that BYU could enforce its honor code, and yet allow for the reality of people making mistakes? Even serious ones? When I was a student at BYU I knew many people who struggled with sins that were breaches of the honor code. Some of them had the attitude that "rules were made to be broken" and laughed at the honor code--taking pleasure in the sense that they were "getting away with something." My sympathies do not lie with this group. My sympathy was with the friend who struggled with same gender attraction, while earning his B.A. and then M.A. at BYU. His experience at BYU was one of profound loneliness and fear, that if he discussed his tendencies with anyone he would be eliminated from the academic program he loved. My sympathies were with friends of mine who struggled with addiction, or with that "oops" from last semester which resulted in them not feeling worthy to take the sacrament, and eventually to even attend church. These friends all held on to their secrets until they graduated, not to flout or laugh off the honor code, but because they were good, moral people who struggled with a problem, and couldn't face the possibility of having to leave the university, with all of the attendant fallout, both public and private.It seems to me that if the person has an attitude of sincere remorse and desire to repent, there should be a more merciful approach to helping them through the repentance process. Yes, accountability must be upheld, but in the administering of penalty and consequence, can't we find a better balance between justice and mercy? And perhaps afford people a bit more privacy, while we're at it? I love BYU and cherished my time there, but this story has so saddened me. I do hope that BYU re-thinks their manner of enforcement of the honor code.

  10. I can understand your thoughts, but I think there is a bigger picture here, including the love and support being extended to Brandon right now and also the integrity of Davies. I have a hard time imagining that he didn't know what the consequences could be, and he took the action to confess anyway, during the last week of the season. I'm really impressed by that.

    I absolutely think he should be in our prayers and should have our support, but I also think we ought not be casting stones at the administration, either. I don't believe it's our business to judge what they did anymore than it is anyone's business to cast stones at Davies.

    And I believe he can and will move forward. He's already taken the first, courageous step, and he has a team and coaches rallying around him as well as, I hope, the lot of BYU fans. I think he'll feel that on Saturday.

  11. When I returned from my mission, I chose a different university than the Y specifically because I didn't want to co-mingle my degree-granting institution with my clerical institution; it seemed problematic to me on many levels.

    I ended up choosing the school that many prophets before me did. It turned out that I avoided the kinds of mistakes that would have gotten me kicked out of BYU; but what if I hadn't? Would I have been tempted to lie and put off repenting? Is that what I would have chosen to do? I don't know.

    BYU is not a seminary, it's a secular, degree-granting institution. That means that students invest in future earning potential by studying there. When students show up at BYU, they must realize that the bet they are making is that they won't screw up bad enough to get kicked out. And that if they lose that bet, there will be costly consequences to their career path.

    Repentance is costly. Repentance of serious sins as a BYU student is super-costly.

  12. I love this post. Agree with every heart-breaking word. Would love to see it get a wider reading in our community.

  13. I think that you are taking an extreme view.

    I am proud of BYU for having integrity about it's policies when so much is on the line. This morning the athletic director and public relations person were on the Early Show. They showed nothing but care and concern for Brandon, stating that they still consider him a part of the BYU family, hope that he will graduate there, and that he does still hold a place on the team next year. While he is not playing in games, they made it sound as if the coaches and players are rallying around Brandon.

    There is room for repentance, but there are also consequences. To deny all consequences is to deny God's plan. If he were my son, I would want the consequences and have faith that he is strong enough, with the help of God, to overcome it all.

    I sincerely hope that those who live in Utah will act as true Christians and know that only those without sin should cast a stone, and treat Brandon as they would want to be treated if their sins were shown to the world.

  14. I appreciate your passion for this young man and whats happened to him. As I read your rant, it's very clear the love and pain you are feeling at the moment is running at an all time high. It's clear you have taken this personally because you know Brandon and watched him grow up. I agree that now matter the level of sin a person commits, he/she should never have to be exposed nationally like Brandon has been. My understanding is that Brandon has been on probation since his freshman year and has been working through the proper authorities to correct his misconduct. Something happened to trigger such a reaction from the school, other than just having sex (again). Sources have told me that information, suggesting his girlfriend is pregnant, came forward and the university had no choice but to take action. There is no way to keep a pregnancy private. Their reaction is consistent with other students and even high profile athletes; Reno Mahe, Harvey Unga, Mikle Wesley. These men turned out just fine and openly support the HC and the University. Reno was on GMA today telling the nation he was humbled and felt this experience prepared him to play in the NFL.

    I agree that Brandon did not deserve the national media blitz that has occurred. Wish there was some way to keep this private. There just isn't any way to keep a pregnancy private. This is where the university draws the line. I would like to hear more of a solution to keeping spiritual misconduct private than just an outright attack on the HC and the University. After your grieving period is over please gather your thoughts and post a solution to keeping this private.

  15. While I agree that it is sad that his sins were made public, and it would be positively awful to be in his situation, I disagree with your comments regarding BYU's handling of Davies overall. BYU has sports teams for the specific purpose of getting of spreading the gospel, of getting the church out there in the public. When he came to BYU he knew the standards that he needed to follow, and he also was aware that he was a spotlight figure, a very talented man. Now we all make mistakes, but smaller mistakes lead to larger mistakes. He had sex with his girlfriend -- one doesn't just all of a sudden have sex with his girlfriend. It starts small, and most certainly starts with breaking parts of the honor code. The honor code is not up to the students to decide, it's up to the church to decide because the standards of the church are not subject to whatever the world or even students of BYU think. Again, I don't think anyone had to say why he was suspended, but he most definitely should have been suspended. Heavenly father loves him, and he will get through it, but he should not be an exception. Sexual permissiveness is for other schools, not for BYU.

  16. Just a quick thought: The Honor Code (and fellow students) might turn the matter over to a bishop, but rarely has a bishop turned the matter over to the Honor Code.

    In my 12 years of singles wards I've known quite a few people struggling with private matters with their bishop. I don't know of a single one of them that got "ratted out" to the HC by their bishops, even in extreme cases.

  17. Wow, Heal Family News. Did you seriously just order the author of this (wonderful) blog post to "gather your thoughts and post a solution to keeping this private"? Who appointed you as the blog-content authority? This isn't BYU; this is America where people have the right to do and say as they wish.

    PS. Bravo to Tessa for a very well-written article with some very valid points (and the courage to make them public)

  18. The sad thing is I heard about this on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." The first thing I thought of while reading this was, 'Why do we all know WHY he was suspended?' So maybe the BYU administration and the coaches decide he should be suspended and can no longer play, but did they have to announce it to the world. Couldn't it just be said that Brandon was no longer able to play because of personal reasons. The fact that they publically said he was suspended is bad enough, but the why . . .? I'm not as familiar with the story, so maybe the administration didn't say why he was suspended and the media found out another way. Yet, why is there a need for such a public flaying? Why are the coaches going on news shows about it? This is one player's personal situation and I don't think the coaches should be talking to the media about it - or would be if they really cared.

  19. My kids went to school with Brandon as well and our good friend played basketball with him at Provo High and remains a close friend of his. While I too feel compassion and sadness about the publicity he has had to endure, I do not believe BYU threw Brandon under the bus. Every indication I've seen is that they threw their arms around him with the same sort of love and compassion you express here.

    I was at the game today where Brandon sat on the bench with a couple other of the players who can't play right now. He was present to receive the championship trophy and was present for photographs with the rest of the team. He was also announced along with all the other starters as he cut down a loop from the net after the win and received a standing ovation and applause and cheers second only to that for Fredette.

    I'm sure BYU would have certainly have preferred to have kept this whole ordeal under the radar, but I don't believe for one second there should exist a double standard for high-profile athletes.

  20. Ryan - in no way did I suggest she keep her blog private. I'm suggesting that she come up with some ideas or changes that the University could, do to the HC, that could keep a situation like, what just happened, from going viral. You misunderstood my the point I was making.

  21. "did they have to announce it to the world."

    BYU didn't. The media did.

    Have you seen this video? The public nature of this situation has brought a remarkable level of public support for Davies. With fame, you can't pick up one end of the stick without picking up the other. This is a hard time, but I think it's amazing what kind of widespread love and support he can be feeling at what must be a difficult time.

  22. Tessa...had a personal therapy session about this issue yesterday...I just wish I had had YOUR VERBAGE. Amen AND Amen. I loved especially that you referred to the GOD thet "I know"...I said the exact same thing...but your truth "there are always moments in which rules are suspended---even God's lower laws give way to the application of laws when miracles take place"....OF COURSE THEY DO...remind the commenter above who refused to believe it that Nephi was told to slay Laban, David to fight Goliath, MARY TO BIRTH A SON.....
    I LOVE YOU Woman. And I hope some day to know you personally.

  23. What a wonderfully worded post. I will have to respectfully disagree, however. You make a good point that "God's lower laws give way to the application of laws when miracles take place" - - - however it might be wise to remember that it is an all-knowing God who is making that decision. His miracles are brought forth to, in some way, 'build up his kingdom'. In the extreme circumstances of the commenter before, it is quite clear exactly how these people were - through disobedience to one law - ultimately helping God's work progress. And, even in smaller, personal miracles I believe the same rule applies (even if just to give a person a boost of faith).

    I can't find the parallel with Davies here. In contrast, I feel like, now, Davies has been given a trial that, if handled well (which it seems to me is the case) could show him both the justice and mercy of God. Justice by being subjected to the consequences, and mercy by seeing all the support and love being offered him by the very hands that suspended him, the people of his university, and community.

    What's that quote, 'with great power comes great responsibility'? I hate that he has to go through this publicly, but he IS in a position of high 'power' and to give him an exception for that simple fact alone would be a double-standard I couldn't justify.

  24. Oh, and sorry, one more thing - Shopping carts are NOT in the honor code! Living an honest life is in the honor code, and the BYU creamery took it upon themselves to stretch that further and imply that stealing shopping carts is not honest. :)

  25. Would Brandon agree they acted "blindly, callously" and "ruthlessly" and that this was "horrific and medieval"?????? (Since you've had dinner with him I'm sure you know how he feels...............)

    Pretty inflamatory language and I do not believe you know enough to make such judgments.

    I teach my kids that choices have consequences. We can't choose our consequences. Sometimes (whether right or not), they will cause you embarrassment.

  26. WOW! Touched a bunch of nerves - all over the place... and none of them enjoyable I might add!!

    Personally, I am not looking forward to the day when my sins are shouted from the rooftops... I too am feeling for Brandon and the public nature of the outing.

    I don't know how all of the information came to light (BYU should consider this and do all to protect the individual from public embarrasement - maybe they did do everything - don't know). Knowing there is an honor code violation is enough for the public. I also don't know Brandon's heart as it comes to repentance. I am hoping his Bishop does and responded appropriately, and I know the Lord certainly does.

    Tess, I love the fight you have waged here. Not because your arguments are completely solid, but because you care. I read in your comments the love and protection a mother feels for their child. And if our children don't have strong advocates the world WILL run amuck! It is good to have a gut check now and again - even at BYU. If BYU and the Honor Code can't stand up to the scrutiny, we/they should repent and change that is a great conversation to have.

    The great news for Brandon is this. If he was wronged by anyone in this process, even BYU, then the atonement has the ability to cover Brandon and make him whole. That is the beauty of the Atonement. It covers those who sin and those who are sinned against. Which, by the way, include us all...

    And oh, I hope my children, will make full use of the Atonement for all the mistakes I make as a parent. I attempt, but fall far short, which means they need to be made whole because of my shortcomings, and can be. Whew! Am I indebted for that alone!!

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  29. Tessa, come back! I miss you!

  30. Still miss you! I found your Christmas card today as I was sorting through massive stacks of paper, and it really made me miss your insights!