Sunday, January 27, 2008


Last week Jo Anne and I had a little bit of a bittersweet experience.  Our son Richard lives nearby and one of his neighbors is an occupational therapist who works at a little care facility in Tustin.  She knows about our situation through Richard and has seen our DVD "It's Good to Be Alive."  She called Jo Anne and asked her if she could bring two young quadriplegics to our home to visit with us.  We set up the appointment and last week she brought them by.

They were young Mexicans -- late 20s or early 30s -- both of whom had fallen off roofs while doing construction and are now quadriplegics, having suffered severe spiral cord injuries as a result of their accidents.  Thankfully they are not on life support and can move their arms about, but don't have the ability to use their fingers which makes them "quadriplegics" as defined by the medical community.

We could sense that José and Leo were very sweet spirits but also a little depressed and subdued.  José has a wife and four children who live in Mexico.  I don't believe he has seen them since his accident, and now because of his injury, he has no way of supporting them or bringing them to the United States.  His situation seems very hopeless to him.  Leo has a wife and three children that live in a small rented home in Santa Anna.  The home is not really wheelchair accessible although he has been home a few times, and his wife and children come by the facility to visit with him when they can.  He really can't go home to live because of the nature of the home, and even if he had the money, it couldn't be modified because it is a rental.  His situation also looks very hopeless to him.

The reason the occupational therapist brought them to our home was to hopefully enlarge their vision and perhaps give them some hope that there really is life after paralysis.  Thankfully I was able to communicate with them in Spanish -- their English is almost nonexistent -- and we connected and had a good experience together.  They were very impressed with what I could do on the computer and with what Jo Anne had done, and is doing, to make our lives fulfilling and of the highest quality.  I felt they left with a little glimmer of hope in their eyes regarding their "hopeless" circumstances.  I wish I had the power to deliver them from their dark and depressing situations.

Their visit reminded me of the six months I spent at Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Hospital in the spinal cord injury unit.  A young 21-year-old man by the name of Gene Nye was in the bed next to mine, only about three or four feet away.  Shortly after being released from Rancho, I used to talk a lot about Gene in talks I would give to different groups and the valuable lessons I learned from him during that time. 

Gene was working for the forest service in the mountains, was bitten or infected by a wild animal, and was severely stricken by spinal meningitis.  The high fever damaged his brain and when I met him, his body and face were contorted, he was partially paralyzed, he couldn't breathe on his own, and he couldn't think straight or speak.  We shared the TV that was hanging on the wall and all he wanted to watch was "I Love Lucy" reruns as well as the "Andy Griffith" show.  I also enjoyed "Andy Griffith" and let him have his way with Lucille Ball, but to this day I have an aversion to "I Love Lucy" reruns.  Gene's situation also seemed incredibly hopeless to me, because not only did he have staggering physical challenges, he was also an orphan.  During the six months we were together he only had two visitors; two men that used to work with him came by one afternoon to say hello.  How I wanted to somehow deliver Gene from his miserable lot in life, but of course was unable to do so.

These three examples are but the tip of the iceberg of so many who have seemingly hopeless situations they are dealing with, and because of it are depressed, lonely, sad, and very miserable.  Is there no deliverance for them from sorrow and heart ache? The answer of course is "yes!"  However, their deliverance will not come to them through the arm of flesh, but through the great "Deliverer.”

My daughter, Rachel, was only nine years old at the time of my accident. She has grown up helping her mother bathe, dress, and feed me, as well as helping to transfer me from my bed to the wheelchair and vice versa.  As she got older, she often put me to bed by herself.  I think helping me gave her the desire to become a nurse.  Upon her graduation, I got to meet Dr. Elaine S. Marshall, Dean of her College of Nursing.  Prior to meeting her, I had read an article that she had written that had a great impact upon me. It was titled, “Lessons on Healing.”  She was able to put into words something that I had felt to be true for years, but had never been able to fully express.

She believes that there is a big difference between being cured and being healed.  She wrote that, “Cure is clean, quick, and done, often under anesthesia.  Healing, however, is often a lifetime process of recovery and growth in spite of—perhaps because of—enduring physical, emotional, or spiritual assault.  It often requires time.  We may pray for cure when we really need healing.”  (April, 2004 Ensign, p.57)
In her article she indicated that she had studied the Gospels to discover what she could about Jesus as a healer. I love Elaine Marshall’s summary from the scriptures of this aspect of the Savior’s ministry. 

"As Jesus healed, the Scriptures say, All the people were amazed [Matthew 12:23]. They brought their sick, their blind, and dumb, those that were possessed by a devil [Matthew 12:22], and their dead. They sought him every day and into the evening. So great was his reputation and his healing power that they sought to only touch the hem of his garment; and as many as touched were made perfectly whole [Matthew 14:36]. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching... and preaching the gospel..., and healing every sickness and every disease among the people [Matthew 9:35]. (Ensign, April 2004, page 57)

The Savior is the master healer of the soul – both body and spirit.  I believe, in retrospect, that I was cured from my injury (as far as medical science was concerned) within a year after the accident.  If you were to read my medical chart it would say something like this – “Jack Rushton is a functioning quadriplegic on life support having sustained a complete injury between the second and third cervical vertebrae.”

I may have been “cured” as far as medicine (as we know it today) could cure me, but I was a long way from being “healed.” I was still devastated by what had happened to me. I felt so much had been taken away.  I was depressed and had little hope of what the future might bring.  Many years ago, after much soul searching and intense prayer, a wonderful thing happened.  The Lord saw fit to heal me as only He can – He gave me a new heart.  Since that time, I have felt joy and a sense of well being I never thought I would feel again.

Many of us never receive the total physical cure we desire. However, this must never stop us from seeking to be healed. When we seek the Lord with all our heart, he can strengthen us to the point that our burdens will seem light and bearable.

From the beginning of time, God has tried to teach his people that if they will but trust in him he will deliver them from captivity, bondage, and seemingly “hopeless” circumstances.

And so Leo, Jose, Gene, and countless others, there is no deliverance except through Christ. Christ can infuse joy into our souls and dispel the cloud of darkness hanging over us as nothing else can. No man can do it for us; no other human being can deliver us from sorrow and despair except the Great "Deliverer."



Monday, January 21, 2008

Free Ride

My Grandaughter Sabrina (17 months) loves to go for rides on my wheelchair. This is us on Thanksgiving Day at the park near our home.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Blessing Of Christmas Letters

Observation: January 17, 2008

Well, we made it through another holiday season. We always give a little sigh of relief realizing that next Christmas is thankfully 12 months away. We, like you, receive cards and letters at Christmas time from friends and family that we haven't seen for many years. I think it is one of the best things about Christmas. I haven't always felt that way though. In our earlier days as we would receive cards and letters from friends and read about all the wonderful achievements our friends' children were making, we would stare at each other and wonder out loud why our kids were such slugs -- well, so very extraordinarily ordinary. As Jo Anne, in particular, would read about what other mothers were accomplishing, both within and without the home, she would almost wring her hands in despair and weep bitter tears because she felt she just wasn't measuring up to the lofty standards depicted in these Yuletide missives.
One year we were tempted to write a letter about all the things our children almost accomplished. One child was almost valedictorian; there were only 100 students who had a better GPA in her high school graduating class. One child had straight A's on his report card except for three C's. Another child almost became a starter on the varsity football team, but he went out and broke his leg, and etc. We never sent it out -- probably should have.

As the years have gone by however, we have mellowed and matured a little bit, and now just simply enjoy hearing how well our family and friends are doing, especially that they are still alive, and having fond memories of years gone by rekindled in our minds and hearts. As Jo Anne reads these Christmas letters to me I feel somewhat like Alma felt upon meeting his friends, the sons of Mosiah, after they had been separated from each other for many years serving their missions: "...Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see [hear from] his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord...." [Alma 17:2]

Of the many cards and letters we received this Christmas -- and we enjoyed them all -- there were two that truly touched our hearts. The first one I will mention was from my Uncle Clyde Rushton, who celebrated his 90th birthday this past year. Clyde is one of 17 children born to my grandfather, Frederick John Rushton. My grandfather's first wife, Annie Francis Matinson, was the mother of the first seven children, and when she passed away at a very young age, he married Mabel Leavitt, who was the mother of the next ten. Of the last ten children, Clyde is second to the oldest. All of the first seven children have passed on, including my father, Jack, as well as a number of the "younger children."

In his Christmas letter, among other things, uncle Clyde wrote: "I'm so blessed to have good health. When people ask me how I do it, this is what I tell them: I make the bed when I get out of it, so I’m not tempted to get back in it. Have a project -- for me that is quilting. It keeps my hands busy and I can listen to a ballgame while I’m working. I get a good hot meal at the senior center 5 days a week. I drive myself, enjoy the social hour, the folks there look for me. Attend church every Sunday. Go to funerals, pay my respects. Keep in touch-just a phone call away. I have Sunday dinner with family."

Uncle Clyde went on to say that at his 90th birthday party held in Salt Lake City in May last year that 108 of a possible 141 of his immediate family -- posterity -- were in attendance (his first wife, the mother of his eight children, has passed away and his second wife has also passed on). He then concluded by writing: "Last year I made 38 quilts for humanitarian aid and 13 Eagle Scout quilts. My posterity has a total of 47 returned missionaries and now I am helping the missionary effort by housing the Elders in my little home."
I wish you all could meet uncle Clyde -- you would love him and the wonderful spirit and personality that are his. He is an inspiration to me of someone who is enduring well to the end by forgetting self and serving others.

The second letter came from my uncle Howard and his wife Renee. Howard, the youngest brother of Clyde, is the youngest son of the 17 children in his family. He has two younger sisters. Howard is now 80 years old and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's three years ago. Renee wrote: "We do see subtle signs of the slow progress this disease is making in our lives but they aren't nearly as bad or as swift as we anticipated. Howard is still himself. Most people don't notice any change. He ... does numerous volunteer acts of service for our neighbors. When there is nothing else to do he rakes leaves, picks up trash and keeps our street clean. The knowledge that his time is limited has given him a renewed sense of the beauty of this world, and a deepening gratitude for the blessings with which we are surrounded. He wakes up each day glad to be alive and eager to make the most of every minute.... Our life continues much as it always has. With these exceptions: our daily prayers are taking on new depth, sincerity and meaning for us; we go to the temple more often; we express our love and appreciation for each other more; we are keenly conscious of the fleetness with which time is passing and realize more fully the importance of staying close to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

I love and respect these two great men. I am grateful for Christmas letters that keep me updated regarding them. I rejoice in their goodness and love for the Lord. They have always been true and faithful and their quiet goodness has blessed the lives of so many through the years. They are the kind of Saints described by one general authority as "low maintenance and high yield!"

They have internalized the eternal truth taught by Nephi regarding those who have set their feet on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life through the ordinance of baptism: "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a asteadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a clove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and dendure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life." [2 Nephi 31:20]

I do believe Nephi very accurately described Clyde and Howard Rushton -- pressing forward, steadfast, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men, feasting upon the word of Christ and enduring to the end. They are great examples to us all, and surely at some point in time will receive the greatest gift a loving Heavenly Father can give to his children -- even the gift of eternal life.


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Because He Lives

I have led you astray! In my last observation about "Because He Lives" I Indicated That Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote this piece. It was an honest mistake because Google gave me numerous websites to the Gaithers and their performance of "Because He Lives." My son-in-law, Nathan, set me straight and informed me that the composer of the music and lyrics was a girl by the name of Sally DeFord. Her website is:

On the website you can purchase the sheet music and also listen to Sally singing this number. Sorry for the mistake.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Rejoicing In Christ Through Sacred Music and Scriptures

January 3, 2008

As is the case with most of us, once in a while I have a spontaneous and unexpected spiritual experience that truly touches my soul. These experiences cannot be planned or forced and that is what makes them so special.

Last summer I had such an experience. My son-in-law Nathan Brown, and his friend John Lu, have been singing together in choirs and barbershop quartets beginning in their high school years in Irvine. As young returned missionaries they both married and live with their wives and children -- each has a baby daughter -- in the same apartment complex in our ward boundaries. They both have been blessed with beautiful tenor voices and sing from the heart and with the Spirit. Last summer they were asked to sing a duet in our Ward sacrament meeting.

Jo Anne and I had gone to Nathan and our daughter Jackie's apartment to visit late one afternoon. We had only been there a short time when John Lu appeared at the door and shortly after, Nathan's mother, Roylee. Nathan's mom is an accomplished organist and pianist and was there to practice the song with Nathan and John that they would be singing in sacrament meeting the following Sunday.

I was seated right by the piano because it is a small living room, and my chair takes up so much space there was no other convenient place to park me. Nathan and John were also right at my side as they begin singing. They sang a song I had never heard before entitled "Because He Lives," written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. As they commenced singing I immediately felt the Spirit, much more than just a warm fuzzy feeling, and tears came to my eyes. What brought the Spirit so intensely to me I believe was not only the beauty of the two tenor voices and the musical arrangement, and my sitting so close to them, but also the lyrics. They finished and then felt they needed to go through it again for which I was secretly very grateful. The second time around was even better than the first as I was able to concentrate on the message so beautifully delivered by these two gifted young men and accompanied by Nathan's mom.

I'm going to share with you some of the lyrics. I believe Bill and Gloria Gaither were truly inspired as they wrote these words. I consider it a beautiful modern-day Psalm. You might be tempted to speed read through the lyrics but don't. If you will carefully read them, and I haven't included them all, I am sure you will find an inspiring message you can apply to your own lives as I have done to mine, regarding what Christ has done for us all.

"Because he lives; because he rose in mighty triumph from the grave
I put my trust in him, and seek to follow him in faith
Because he lives

Because he lives, I shall find strength to stand against the tempter's power
He is my refuge and defense in every troubled hour
Because he lives

Because he lives I can bear whatever burden may be mine
I am encircled in the arms of love divine because he lives
Because he lives he will banish every shadow of my pain
Every sorrow will be swallowed up in him
For in his hand is healing for the weary soul
This I know because he lives

Because he lives my heart is filled with peace amid a world of fear
And through the blindness of the night, in him I rest secure
Because he lives

Because he lives there is no task so great that I cannot endure
I bear no heartache that his tender mercy cannot cure
Because he lives

(Repeat chorus)

Because he lives I will fear no darkness
Because he lives I will walk in light
Because he lives I will praise his kindness
Because he lives hope shines ever bright
Because he lives I will seek his righteousness
Because he lives I'll follow where he leads
Because he lives I shall conquer even death
And I shall live because he lives!"

Well, these words and music certainly struck a chord within me that continues to resonate each time I read this modern-day Psalm. I only wish you could hear Nathan Brown and John Lu sing it with their beautiful tenor voices. I think some of the most beautiful words and music ever written through the years have been written about Christ. This is certainly as it should be isn't it?

After a number of days of clouds, fog, and a thick marine layer which blocked out the sun and kept it from shining on normally sunny Southern California, I woke up one morning and realized the clouds had dispersed and the sun was brightly shining through my bedroom windows. I immediately felt better than I had for days and couldn't help but recall some of the last words of David, the consummate writer of Psalms, in describing Jehovah/Christ. "And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds..." [2 Samuel 23:4]

As human beings it is difficult to adequately describe the majesty and power of Christ using our limited vocabulary. Bill and Gloria Gaither tried hard and did well. David's description of the resurrected and glorified Christ as "... the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds..." strikes close to the heart of the matter. We are given to understand that He is "The alight which is in all things, which giveth blife to all things, which is the claw by which all things are governed...who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things." [D&C 88:13]

And so, even though it is difficult to accurately describe Christ and understand the extent of his power and majesty, hopefully we will continue to write and sing of Him because it is our mission to the world "... [to] atalk of Christ, [to] rejoice in Christ, [and to] preach of Christ..." [2 Nephi 25: 26]


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Years

I hope you all have a wonderful and prosperous 2008.