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Hi I'm Toby

Industry standards manager, government transparency activist, community volunteer, and I'm a Mormon.

About Me

My lovely wife and I have been married for 29 years. We have five children, 19 through 26. My mom also lives with us. I got my first job programming computers at age 16. Now, 36 years later, I've been with Microsoft for more than 18 years. A senior program manager in the Windows group, I represent the company in several industry standards organizations, hold six patents, and help other groups in the Windows division make good decisions regarding their standards strategies. It's exciting work, and enables me to use both my technical and diplomatic skills. My 7th grade social studies teacher instilled in me a great appreciation for what the Founding Fathers of the United States accomplished and the great principles embodied in our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Ever since then, I've been passionate about being actively involved in the community and in our government. I served in the Washington state legislature from 2002 through 2006, and then as a Fire Commissioner in King County Fire Protection District 41. I'm president of Washington Coalition for Open Government, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that educates citizens and public officials about the right of the people to access public records and meetings, and serve on the boards of several other local non-profit organizations. I try to make a positive difference in the community.

Why I am a Mormon

When I was 21, I happened across an insert in Reader’s Digest magazine about the Mormons. It addressed many of the questions I had about religion that had lingered from my experiences as a child in the Catholic church and as a teenager in the Baptist church. I really wanted to know more, and was about to send away for information when I got a call from my dad. “Guess what,” he said, “I was ordained a priest today!” He had remarried while I was in college, and I knew that Catholic priests couldn’t be married, so I was shocked, to say the least. He then delivered the punch line – no, he wasn’t ordained a Catholic priest, but as a priest in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – the Mormons! My dad had been investigating the Mormon Church at the same time I was, and had joined a few weeks earlier. It would be easy to say it was just a coincidence, but I’ve come to understand that few things in the area of faith are ever truly coincidental. My dad asked me if I would like a copy of the Book of Mormon. Of course I did! It was delivered a couple of weeks later by missionaries. I read it cover to cover over the couple of days, and strongly felt the testimony of the Holy Spirit to its truthfulness. I was particularly struck by one passage, which sunk deep into my heart and motivated me to act: “And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance. O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.” (Alma 42:29-30). I was baptized less than three weeks later. That testimony of the truth of the Gospel burns in me to this day. I invite you to find out for yourself!

How I live my faith

Our Savior Jesus Christ taught that we should love our neighbors as ourselves -- feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, care for the sick and afflicted, visit those in prison -- and that "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon taught us that when we are in the service of our fellow beings we are only in the service of God. I take these things seriously. I currently serve as Director of Public Affairs for our stake (a group of several congregations in our city). In that capacity, I help build positive relationships between the Church and the community, and between Church leaders and leaders of government, business, other faith communities, and the local news media. I very much enjoy working to find ways that members of our church can join together with others to help the poor and needy in our community and to be good neighbors. I'm happy that I'm able to make use of the contacts I've developed in other parts of my life to help build these positive relationships.

What is the Word of Wisdom that Mormons talk about?

The Word of Wisdom is contained in Section 89 of the Doctrine & Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's a revelation received by the Prophet Joseph Smith about good health practices. The story behind how this revelation was received has always been fascinating to me. Joseph was holding frequent meetings with other leaders of the new church (just three years after its founding). They would meet in a small upstairs room in the home where the Smith family was living. As was common in those days, as soon as they assembled, they would light up their pipes, filing the small room with smoke, or chew big wads of tobacco, spitting all over the room. Joseph would often be teaching in a thick cloud of tobacco smoke, and his wife Emma would have to clean up the tobacco stains on the floor. Her complaints led him to ponder on the matter. Joseph was very familiar with the principle in James 1:5 in the Bible, that "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him", so he inquired of the Lord. The Lord is sometimes quite generous with information when his children ask for it, and that was the case here; in response to his inquiry, Joseph received the Word of Wisdom. So what does the Word of Wisdom say? First, it says that it is “the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days”. It applies to all of us. It is within the capacity of every person to obey it, including “the weakest of all saints”. As it says in 1 Nephi 3:7, “...the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them”, including overcoming temptations and addictions. The principles in the Word of Wisdon are simple: don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or tea; don’t smoke or chew tobacco; most of our diet should be made up of grains, vegetables, fruits, and herbs; and, eat meat sparingly, which means in small amounts and not very often. We are promised that if we do these things, and obey the commandments, we will be healthy and wise, and rescued from the power of Satan. I know that I've been personally blessed by obeying the Word of Wisdom. Some people complain that by committing to obedience to the Word of Wisdom, we’re giving up our freedom and liberty. I disagree. I am more free by choosing to obey the Word of Wisdom than by not doing so. I’m free from worrying about what immoral, unethical, or criminal things I might do while out of control of my behavior because I was drunk. I’m free from having to ask forgiveness from my family, friends, and neighbors for disappointing them by those things. I’m free from ever having to stand in from of TV cameras and explain myself, as we’ve seen with far too many public officials in recent years. I’m free from the expense of being addicted to alcohol or tobacco – and they are very expensive because of all the taxes piled on them now – and free to use that money for other things. I’m free from having my clothes stink, and my car stink. I’m free from worrying about the bad example I might be setting for my children, or what might happen if they found and played with my lighter or got into my booze, or how their health might be affected by my second-hand smoke. I’m free from worrying about burning down my house because I started a fire by falling asleep while smoking. I worry less about health conditions that can be caused or made worse by smoking or drinking, such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and liver disease. I’m free from worrying about how the time I waste standing outside my office, 25 feet from the door in the rain, is affecting my performance and possibly costing me my job. I could go on and on… but you get the picture. In my mind, there is no question that making the decision to live my life without alcohol and tobacco makes me far more free. The occasional instance of a little social discomfort by having to decline an offer of coffee or alcohol from someone who doesn’t yet know about that part of me is simply not an issue. I know that God lives, that He hears and answers our prayers – sometimes in amazing ways – that He wants to share with us the knowledge we need to grow closer to Him. I know my life has been blessed, and that I have escaped what could have been any number of dangers, through obedience to the Word of Wisdom. I hope that I can become even more diligent in obeying it and enjoying the blessings of the Lord’s code of health to an even greater extent in my life, and invite you to do the same. Show more Show less