Wednesday, November 30, 2011

He Really Likes Me

A couple of nights ago I was watching one of my favorite Broadway musicals on Turner Classic Movies, "Man of La Mancha."
The next day, I was telling Joanne how much I had enjoyed watching "Man of the Mancha" once again. She reminded me of the day, 23 years ago, when I was able to come home from the rehabilitation Hospital, where I had spent the last six months of my life. Our street was lined with friends and family cheering me on, and welcoming me home. Through my tears I could see my good friend, Murl Nelson, playing his drums on my front lawn – he had played the drums for some of the major big bands, including Elvis Presley, during the 50s – with my mother-in-law, Evelyn Stuart, singing at the top of her lungs, "To Dream the Impossible Dream," the most well-known and popular number from " Man of La Mancha." My mother-in-law loved life and loved to sing. She even enjoyed my repertoire of dumb mother-in-law jokes. I was grateful. Joanne had brought this memory back into my mind.
In case you are not familiar with the musical, it was written by Dale Wasserman, with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Danon. The musical was suggested by the classic novel Don Quixote de La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes.
The main thrust of the play is that Cervantes and his manservant have been imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition and a manuscript by Cervantes is seized by his fellow inmates, who subject him to a mock trial in order to determine whether the manuscript should be returned. Cervantes' defense is in the form of a play, in which Cervantes takes the role of Alonso Quijana, an old gentleman who has lost his mind and now believes that he should go forth as a knight-errant. Quijana renames himself Don Quixote de La Mancha, and sets out to find adventures with his "squire", Sancho Panza. [Wikipedia]
This time as I watched the movie, one of the lesser-known numbers struck a chord with me. It is a musical exchange between Sancho and Aldonza, a scullery maid with loose morals whom Don Quixote treats as though she is a princess. She has watched in amazement how Sancho has taken care of Don Quixote and catered to his every whim. She wants to know why Sancho does what he does for him, and why he is so kind and loyal to such an obviously crazy man. The following musical conversation takes place between Sancho and Aldonza.
"I like him… I really like him! I don't have a very good reason,
Since I've been with him,
Cuckoo-nuts have been in season... But there's nothing I can do, Chop me up for onion stew, Still I'll yell to the sky
I can't tell you why, That I like him!"
"It doesn't make any sense! "
"That's because you're not a squire."
" All right, I'm not a squire. How does a squire, squire?"
"Well, I ride behind him... and he fights. Then I pick him up off the ground, and..."
"But, what do you get out of it?"
"What do I get? Oh! Why, already I've gotten..."
"You've got nothing! Why do you do it?"
"I like him, I really like him.
Pluck me naked as a scalded chicken, I like him! Don't ask me for why or wherefore, 'Cause I don't have a single good
" because" or "therefore!"
You can barbecue my nose.
Make a giblet of my toes,
Make me freeze, make me fry.
Make me sigh, make me cry.
Still I'll yell to the sky, I can't tell you why. That I like him!"
Aren't we fortunate, if in our lifetimes, besides our parents who are stuck with us, we find one or two people, like Sancho, who, in spite of our faults, failings, idiosyncrasies, warts, barnacles, and most nauseating characteristics, still really like us, for apparently no good reason.
I have thought about my relationship with Joanne over the past 23 years since my accident. As Sancho said about the time he had spent as the squire of Don Quixote -- "cuckoo nuts have been in season”-- for Joanne all these years as she has acted as my squire. She does, and has done for me, all these years what Sancho did for Don Quixote. She rides behind me, and I fight, then she picks me up off the ground.
I don't think anyone has ever asked Joanne the question Aldonza put to Sancho, "But what do you get out of it?" However, perhaps they have thought it.
You would have to know Joanne's dad, Joe Stuart, to appreciate what I am going to write next. One morning he was helping Joanne get me dressed and into my wheelchair for the day. As he was leaning over me, he looked at Joanne, who was on the other side of the bed, and said, "Boy your life sure went down the tubes when Jack had his accident!" He then got a sickly grin on his face when he realized what he had just said and we all burst out laughing.
Joanne has always made me feel over the years, since my accident, though she, like Sancho, may be hard pressed to say why, that she likes me. At least she always makes me feel like she really likes me. Even I can't figure out why, but it surely does make me feel good.
I am sure there must be times when she, like Sancho, might say to herself, "Don't ask me for why or wherefore, 'cause I don't have a single good " because" or "therefore."
What I write next would probably never make it through church correlation, but here goes. The Savior, the Scriptures teach, [See the numerous references in the topical guide], is our advocate with the Father. For example –"Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the Kingdom. " [D&C 29:5]
I can just picture the Savior pleading our case before the Father. "I know they are "unprofitable servants" and "less than the dust of the earth. They are so very imperfect in many ways, but I like them – I really like them, I like them so much I have given my life for them. Please have mercy on them, Father."
And so when we get discouraged and may think that not even one other mortal being really likes us and can overlook some of our imperfections, we can take comfort in knowing there is ONE who does.

As a

Monday, November 14, 2011

"I Saw That All I Had Made Was Good."

My life, like yours, has been an exciting adventure, but especially since my accident 23 years ago. I really have no idea from day to day what new and exciting challenge and opportunity for growth is lurking just around the corner.

For one thing, I have become better acquainted with the medical profession than I ever wanted to. I have been privileged to come to know a wide variety of medical doctors, including a psychiatrist Joanne insisted I visit. I really never could figure out why! I have seen dentists, dermatologists, ER doctors, internists, pulmonologists, urologists, various surgeons, family doctors, doctors of infectious diseases, neurologists, ophthalmologists , cardiologists, and I'm sure some other "… ologists " that I can't think of right now. I appreciate the training and expertise of these doctors who over the years have saved my life and made it possible for me to keep coming back to them for more punishment.
Paid staff will
It stands to reason that someone in my condition would need the expertise and professional training of many doctors to keep them going. I never thought though, that I would have to employ the services of a blacksmith to keep me rolling along down the highway of life.

At a restaurant, anxiously wanting to position my wheelchair under the table so as not to be conspicuous in any way, I was going faster than I should have been, and inadvertently broke my right leg rest on the wheelchair when I rammed it into the table leg.

You would think that a broken leg rest on a wheelchair would not be a big deal. After dinner, though, I found it almost impossible to drive the chair to the van because my foot would drag along in a dangerous way. We finally got me home and figured we could get it easily fixed in the morning.

As a new day dawned, Joanne drove the broken leg rest to our wheelchair repair facility near our home. My chair is very high tech and the technicians are good at diagnosing and repairing electronic computerized problems. They took one dazed and puzzled look at the broken leg rest, however, and told Joanne they couldn't fix something like that. I guess it was too low-tech! They admitted they didn't have the equipment or expertise to do the job. The best they could do they said would be to order a new leg rest for a couple of hundred dollars, and that it would take several weeks for it to come.

There is no way Joanne was going to spend $200 on a broken leg rest without a coupon or some kind of discount. When she returned home with the broken leg rest and bad news, I had her go to the Yellow Pages and look under "Blacksmith." In all of Orange County, with a population of several million people there was only one listing for a blacksmith shop. Believe it or not it was located near our home in old town, Tustin. She copied down the address, got me into the van, and we headed out to find the blacksmith shop.

No more than 2 miles from our home we spotted an old barn that looked like it had been there forever. Sure enough, this was the blacksmith shop, and it had been there forever. With some trepidation Joanne got me out of the van and we somehow were able to cross the street to the open door of the old barn. Standing in the open door an elderly gentleman and his elderly friend – both about my age, I hate to admit – were standing there chatting. This was Andy Griffith's "Mayberry RFD" revisited. We showed them the problem and asked if it could be fixed. The blacksmith took a good hard look at it and said he thought maybe he could do something for us.

The shop was filled with junk metal, other non-discernible debris from a galaxy long ago and far away, welding equipment, discarded oxygen tanks, and a small forge. As we chatted with the blacksmith and his friend we learned that the blacksmith's father had begun the business in that very barn about 1915. The current blacksmith had inherited the business from his father when he passed away. The blacksmith had been taught the trade by his father, came to love it, and never wanted to do anything else. He said that many years ago, his father had taught him how to make customized tools, plows, and etc. that the local farmers needed. In its day, Tustin was quite a farming community. The local high school athletic teams are known as the "Tustin Tillers." He said he wasn't nearly as busy as he used to be but that he still enjoyed working as a blacksmith. About that time a young man came into the barn and took an interest in helping his older friends fix the leg rest. He had come to the blacksmith shop, to work with his friends in the passion and hobby they shared, regardless of the age differential – restoring an old automobile to its pristine state.

It turned out that fixing the leg rest was not so easy after all. It had levers and springs associated with it, but these three wonderful men worked on it as though it were the most important project they had ever tackled. I think there was some pride involved as well. Finally after about two hours, they got it welded together and attached as it should be to the wheelchair. During the procedure I made many helpful and encouraging comments – at least I felt they added an important dimension to the work at hand – a view not shared by all present. Finally, Joanne asked the blacksmith what she owed him, and with an embarrassed look on his face, he said, "Would $20 be too much? Over the years I have never had a doctor ask me a similar question – have you?

Interestingly enough, just the other day Joanne was watching our local PBS TV channel and they were doing a piece on Old town Tustin, California. One of the stops they made was at the blacksmith shop, which included an interview with our friend, the blacksmith. He and his barn truly are the subject matter of a great human interest story.

My recent encounter with the blacksmith and his friends triggered a feeling I have felt many times over the years. I am just in awe of, and appreciate so much people who can create, produce, and repair concrete physical things that bless others. If all we had in the world were lawyers, teachers, computer programmers, and insurance salesmen, for example, we would all be in a "world of hurt."

Some years ago I stumbled on to Rudyard Kipling's poem and tribute to engineers and all men who get things done through hard work, sweat, and getting their hands dirty. Kipling wrote the poem in 1907 and entitled It "The Sons of Martha!" It is based on Luke's account of Jesus' visit to the home of Martha and Mary recorded in Luke 10:38-42.
"The sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part; But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart… Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons worlds without end….It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.… It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.… Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.… And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessed – they know the Angels are on their side.… They sit at the Feet - they hear the Word - they see how truly the Promise runs. They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha's Sons!"

I'm afraid during my lifetime I have been much more a "Son of Mary" than a "Son of Martha." Thankfully, however, over the years I have had many friends who have been "Sons of Martha." They have bailed me out of more difficult and challenging situations than I could ever mention. As the years have gone by my appreciation for blacksmiths, and others our society labels as "blue-collar workers," has increased dramatically.

Ogden Nash, I believe, truthfully and yet sadly said that "People who sit to do their work make a lot more money than people who stand to do their work." I certainly have nothing against people who sit to do their work -- that is my modus operandi for sure -- but we certainly have missed out on something important which is also a great source of joy and fulfillment, if we haven't learned how to create something concrete and of lasting value with our hands.

Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jehovah rejoice and have joy in the creations of their hands. In speaking to Moses the Lord said: "… I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God. By mine only begotten. I created all things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest… And I God, saw that all things which I had made were good." [Moses 3:1, 10].


Monday, October 31, 2011

The Defiant Power of the Human Spirit

Many years ago, when my oldest son, Mike, was about four or five years old, I came home from work late one afternoon to find Joanne, almost in tears. Mike was sick and the doctor had given her some pills for him to take to make him feel better. She said, "Jack, he just won't swallow the pill." I responded, "He won't will he – well, we shall see about that!" With that, I told him he had to take the pill and that he could and would swallow it with no trouble. However, you could see in his eyes that he didn't believe me and that he was not about to cave in. One thing led to another and I hate to report the outcome, but I finally was sitting on the chest of this five-year-old, holding his nose, shoving the pill in his mouth, and then pouring in the water. Today I'm sure I would have been jailed for child abuse. He gagged and I knew I had won the battle, but as I looked at him in shocked disbelief, with a little smirky smile on his face, he spit the pill out. Joanne and I and Mike began to laugh – he never did take that pill, but he is still alive today, so I guess it was okay. That was our introduction to a boy, a young man, and a man, who has what I call an indomitable spirit which has served him well as a Deputy Dist. Atty. and now as a judge.
Victor Frankl, in his book "Man's Search for Meaning," called this trait that many human beings you all have known or read about seem to possess, "… the defiant power of the human spirit," [page 171]
I have known a number of individuals who are my heroes, because they possess in rich abundance this "defiant power" to not let life's circumstances limit or control their behavior, and keep them from striving to achieve their true potential as sons and daughters of God.
A number of years ago now, I met through the Internet, a young married woman by the name of Jenny Lynn. She lives in Texas and somehow received one of my observations, I think from a friend. She responded to it, and periodically over the years, we have written back and forth.
Jenny Lynn and her husband are the parents of four beautiful children. One night while asleep, she suffered a massive stroke that made it impossible for her to move more than just one finger, and yet, although paralyzed, she has severe pain in one side of her body. While attending BYU, she was part of the dance program – I believe it was the folk dancers, but Jenny will forgive me if I am wrong. I have seen a picture of her, her husband and her children taken prior to the stroke and they are a picture perfect, wholesome, and happy family.
I am sure the last thing they ever could have contemplated is what happened to Jenny. I know when I had my body surfing accident at Laguna Beach, my oldest daughter, Jolene, said to her mother, "Mom, if somebody had told us that something like this would happen to daddy, we never could have imagined it or believed it." I am sure Jenny and her family, undoubtedly felt the same way.
A month or so ago, or maybe longer, I sent out an observation about Job. Some of us who have very visible afflictions to deal with at times, are compared to Job. We who are in these situations would hasten to say that we are not even in the same league with him, because of one important reason that the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith: "Thy friends do stand by thee… Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee…" [Doctrine & Covenants 121:9-10].
Jenny received this observation and it struck a chord with her. I would like to share with you her e-mail response as it came to me.

Jenny then concluded by writing, "Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow".
- Mary Anne Radmacher
I was touched by what Jenny had to say. I am always very humbled when I compare my situation to hers, and am reminded of the great truth I learned 23 years ago now in a rehabilitation hospital by observing my two young roommates who I felt were much worse off than me. That truth – "No matter how bad you think your life is, there is always someone who has it worse than you, and because of that, we should count our many blessings and be content with our lot in life, whatever it may be.
However, I do disagree with Jenny about me being more eloquent than her. I personally have never read anything more eloquent than what she has written, and I'm sure you all would agree.
Thank you, Jenny, for your COURAGE, and your great example of reminding all of us of the "defiant power of the human spirit!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Even If Paul, Not I

“Et si omnes ego non”
I watch quite a bit of BYU TV early in the morning with my caregivers as they work on me. Though not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints they seem to enjoy the programming on BYU TV. One caregiver I had for eight years loved to hear President Gordon B Hinckley speak and told me he was his favorite speaker on BYU TV, a sentiment I shared with him. As we watched President Hinckley's funeral service together I saw him wipe away a tear or two.

Several months ago I heard a re-broadcast on BYU TV of a talk Sharon G. Samuelson, the wife of BYU president Cecil O. Samuelson, gave on September 12, 2006 at a student devotional. Her talk seemed so important and relevant, not only to college students in today's society, but to the very young, middle-aged, and old alike.

She told of going with her husband to some friend's home for dinner and inscribed on an archway they had placed some printed words – “Et si omnes ego non.” She was curious about what the Latin words meant and why they had them in such a prominent place in their home.
She was told that their translation was, roughly: “Even if all, not I.” In other words, “Even if everybody does it, I will not.” She was also told the saying was the motto of the Barons von Boeselager, an old German noble family. Two descendants in the family, Philipp and Georg von Boeselager, were members of the resistance group that had planned the failed assassination attempt on Adolph Hitler on July 20, 1944. Their involvement in the operation went undetected, and they were not executed along with the majority of the other conspirators. The saying is carved in a timber beam on the outside of Philipp’s family home in Germany.
She went on to say that her friends explained that they used this quote as a motto for their family and that it was a reminder to them that they are members of a chosen generation and must be different in the world of today. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they should make choices consistent with the teachings of the gospel and shun the negative, misleading, and evil messages of the world that surround them. [BYU Devotional September 12, 2006]

I was very fortunate as a young boy, about age 14, to have the great truth and principle of life, "Even If all, Not I," indelibly burned into my heart and spirit.

The year was 1952, and I was a freshman at White Pine County high school in Ely, Nevada. I had three friends that were excellent trumpet players and they had learned a number entitled "Buglers Holiday." I played the piano accompaniment for them at the annual Christmas high school band concert. The county was so lacking in, and starved for entertainment, that we were asked to perform for the Lion's Club, the Rotary Club, and for the Elks Club. Prior to our performance at the Elks Club, a custodian opened up the hall for us so we could practice for the evening performance. When we finished our rehearsal the custodian was nowhere in sight, and one of the trumpet players reached over the bar, snatched up a fifth of whiskey and hid it under his leather jacket. We all hurried out to the car, piled in, and headed up into the mountains surrounding Ely on an old dirt road. We finally pulled off the road behind some cedar trees and I knew what was coming next.

The driver is the one that had taken the bottle of whiskey and he opened it up and took a big drink and handed it to the kid next to him. I was strategically placed behind the driver and so I knew I would be the last one to be offered a drink of whiskey. I began to sweat bullets! The last thing I wanted to do was to drink the whiskey but at the same time, I didn't want to appear to be a goody two shoes to my friends. What was I to say or to do? I guess I could say, "I don't like whiskey." Or maybe, "My mother would be upset if I were to drink this." Or maybe I would take the bottle and throw it out the window and call my friends to repentance for their wickedness. Quite frankly, I just simply did not know what to say or what I would do when that bottle would inevitably come into my hands.

My good friend sitting next to me was handed the bottle from the boy in the front seat next to the driver. He took a big drink and then turned to hand it to me. I don't know what he saw on my face but he said, "I'm not going to waste this whiskey on Rushton, I know he is a Mormon and doesn't drink." With that he passed the bottle up to the driver. Nothing more was said and no pressure exerted on me to do what in my heart I did not want to do. I felt like I had been pardoned by the governor just before being executed. I gained a reputation that afternoon, for which I take no credit that would follow me all through high school and I was never asked to take a drink by any of my friends who did not share my standards or beliefs. I have often wondered what direction my life might have taken had I taken that drink as a 14-year-old. I vowed that I would never find myself in that kind of a situation again, not knowing what to say or do. Of course, as a 14-year-old I hadn't heard the principle, "Even If All, Not I," but that was in reality how I knew I wanted to live my life.

As a 73-year-old, as I look back on my life, I am so grateful for that experience I had as a 14-year-old. Over the years, like so many of you, I have encountered many situations where I have had to take a stand on certain issues and implement the principle, "Even If All, Not I!"

When we find ourselves outnumbered on issues of morality that obviously are in violation of Article of Faith 13 – "…We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things," hopefully, we will take a stand and be true to our God and to ourselves.

Perhaps, if we are fortunate, there will come into our minds when being tempted to cave-in and give up defending unpopular truths, both by word and by deed, the words of Joseph. As a young 14-year-old boy being persecuted and ridiculed for what he said had occurred in his life, said he felt much like Paul, whose testimony of having seen Christ in vision was rejected and ridiculed as he was examined by King Agrippa.

" So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation." [Joseph Smith History, 25]

How blessed we would be if we were to truly internalize into our lives and into our hearts as individuals and as families, the motto –“Et si omnes ego non.”


Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Is It I?"

Several weeks ago I was having some trouble with the battery on my wheelchair that keeps my ventilator going. After making sure it was fully charged, Jo Anne loaded me into the van to go run some errands.

As we pulled into the post office parking lot, the alarm on the ventilator began to sound – a piercing siren like noise. Because the ventilator also has an internal battery, we knew we had about 20 minutes to make it home, realizing we were on borrowed time. Leaving the car running, Jo Anne made a mad dash into the post office. As she did so, I could see that my date with a bean burrito and extra beans at Taco Bell was in jeopardy. She was back in a flash, jumped in behind the wheel, and slamming it into reverse, backed into a yellow cab that had not been there when she came out of the post office. As our back bumper collided with the cab, the driver came exploding out of his beautiful, shiny, and now dinged up yellow vehicle. He was a big man and it was evident from his appearance that he was from somewhere in the Middle East. Looking at the damage inflicted upon his rear fender, he began waving his arms and screaming. Before Jo Anne could even approach him, he was on his cell phone calling everyone he could think of – his boss, the insurance company, and maybe even Al Qaeda.

Knowing we were running short on time, Jo Anne tried to exchange information with him, but he would not get off the phone. She tried to tell him that her husband was on life support that was failing, and she had only minutes to get him home. She said that if he wanted to exchange information he would have to follow her home. He seemed to understand our urgency and moved his cab forward so we could leave. With that she got in the van, screeched out of the parking lot, and zoomed down Newport Avenue toward home. The poor taxicab driver had zero chance of keeping up with Jo Anne, and as we pulled into the driveway she was amazed that the cab was not behind her. However, I was not amazed!

Once safely in our house with my vent plugged into the wall socket, Jo Anne looked at me and with frustration in her voice said "You know, Jack, it is your fault that I backed into that yellow cab! If you hadn't broken your neck at Laguna Beach 22 years ago and been on life support, I wouldn't have been in that situation and smashed into the cab! I was so worried about saving your life that I just didn't see that cab when he pulled up behind me as I was backing out.”

I started to respond and to defend myself but then realized she was probably telling the truth. She can be very convincing.

Several days later just as we were about ready to drive into our housing tract, we saw the flashing red and blue lights of a police motorcycle right behind us. Jo Anne obediently, and I might add, with a sinking heart, pulled over to the side of the street. The police officer sidled up to Jo Anne's side of the van and identified himself, and then asked her if she was Jo Anne Rushton. She said yes and was amazed that he knew her name without even asking for her driver's license. He laughed and said he was actually on the way to our home when he spotted our van. He then asked about the accident that had taken place over a week ago with the cab. Jo Anne explained her version using me as evidence of the truthfulness of her story. However, having been previously convinced by Jo Anne's persuasive argument to me, I blurted out that I was the real culprit even though I couldn't drive, and even if he didn't believe that, he should go easy on my wife – no handcuffs or sirens or lights on the way to the clink. He believed our story after looking at me and that was pretty much the end of it.

Our insurance company did call us the other day, but I don't know what they had to say. I leave those insignificant things up to Jo Anne while I concentrate on more weighty matters like writing observations, reading the Scriptures, sending out e-mails, preparing gospel doctrine lessons and wondering what's for dinner.

Well, what is the point of all of this? Jo Anne has given me permission (isn't she a good sport) to use the tongue-in-cheek experience I have related above and apply it to a very real human character trait all mankind has possessed since the fall of Adam and Eve. I am referring to accepting the consequences of our actions without excuse.

Think back to the Garden of Eden episode and how blame was deflected and directed to others when God confronted Adam and Eve after they had partaken of the forbidden fruit. This was just the beginning of "passing the buck!"

We find it all throughout the Scriptures, in society – ancient and modern – in the workplace, and politics, as well as in society at large and in families.

I hope my son Mike won't mind me relating the following incident that took place when his two boys were very young. Mike was a Deputy Dist. Atty. and was accustomed to cross-examining witnesses and alleged criminals to discover the truth. He was putting his boys to bed one night and when he went into the bathroom he saw toothpaste spread liberally everywhere. The crime scene had become a Ground Zero disaster area. He brought the two boys into the bathroom and said, "Who did this?" Neither boy would confess to the toothpaste crime. Mike was at his cross-examining best but the boys would not cave in. Mike was getting increasingly frustrated with each passing moment and realized he was more successful with hard-core criminals in getting at the truth than with his two little boys. After sending the boys directly to bed with no story time, Mike carefully analyzed the boys' responses with his legally trained mind. He was confident that his namesake, Mike Jr, the oldest of the two, was the perpetrator, or at least the instigator, of the dastardly deed. Hoping to outsmart the guilty one, he entered their bedroom and said in a firm voice, “Spencer, I know you are the one that did it.” And taking the youngest boy from his bed, told him that he was taking him into the other bedroom to spank him. As he did so there was still no response from Mike Jr. As Mike proceeded with his threat, Spencer's eyes got big as saucers while breaking into a cold sweat as he awaited the awful punishment -- having been found guilty of the crime without really having had a legitimate day in court and adequate legal representation. Suddenly from the boys' bedroom came the anguished cry, "Dad, I did it, it wasn't Spencer! Don't hit him!" With that brotherly confession, the rod was spared.

My favorite scriptural example of this "fallen, natural man" character trait is found in Exodus 32. Moses had been up on Mount Sinai for a long time and when he descended with the tablets which contained the 10 Commandments he saw the people worshiping a golden calf. He knew that Aaron and his brother had made the calf for the children of Israel. We can only imagine what Aaron must have felt when he was confronted by his brother Moses. What follows is one of the most classic and lame excuses ever conjured up to cover one's culpability. I like to think that Moses actually laughed out loud at what Aaron told him in an attempt to defend himself. "And Aaron said, Let not the aanger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are bset on cmischief. For they said unto me, aMake us . Bgods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf." [Exodus 32:22-24 – Emphasis added]

The only thing that can compare to Aaron's lame excuse is all the finger-pointing in Washington regarding the budget and nobody willing to step up to the plate and admit wrongdoing or at least stupidity.

I believe there is a great lesson to be learned from the original apostles who when the Savior said that one of them would betray him, instead of saying, "I'll bet it's Judas, or Bartholomew," instead said, "Is it I?" [Mark 14:18-19]
I call their response "Apostalic Humility." I believe we can all use a little bit more of that as we exercise our agency and do dumb things every once in a while, because let's face it, "For the anatural bman is an cenemy to God, and has been from the dfall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he eyields to the enticings of the Holy fSpirit, and gputteth off the hnatural man and becometh a isaint…" [Mosiah 3:19]

Best wishes in your attempt to "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Christ-like Lovingkindness

This past week Jo Anne and I celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary. As we were driving out to Murrieta for a dinner with some of our children and grandchildren she revealed to me what a good life I was having as a quadriplegic on life support. She explained to me how I had no stress in my life – no job to go to or worry about, no house to keep up, no yard or van to maintain, no shopping for outfits to buy and take back, no toilets to clean, no food shopping or wonderful meals to prepare, no Quad to endlessly care for and worry about, and on and on it went. I agreed with her that I really was pretty lucky. She told me that my greatest stress in life was choosing which book to listen to on my special braille Institute audio book player, which TCM movie to watch on TV, or worrying about how pitiful the Dodgers are this year, preparing a good gospel doctrine lesson and being prepared to give a weekly patriarchal blessing. As we drove down the freeway I began to feel sorry for everyone that wasn't paralyzed and on life support! You are all really missing out on something special!

Well, being paralyzed and living on life support certainly does have a big upside as recounted to me by my loving wife. However, the biggest upside is to have been blessed by being married to a woman like Jo Anne, who possesses a character trait in rich abundance that I am striving to incorporate into my own life – and I must admit, not always very successfully.

A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to teach a lesson in Sunday School about the events after the Savior's prayer experience in the Garden of Gethsemane, leading up to, and including the crucifixion. I studied hard, read the scriptural accounts carefully and prayerfully, and even "googled" the words "scourging" and "crucifixion" which led me to many insightful commentaries from a variety of Bible dictionaries regarding these two words. What I read was very graphic and almost too painful for me to contemplate. This Roman form of punishment was degrading and horrific beyond our ability to fully understand I believe. Just think of what Christ went through happening to you or to one of your children and it becomes even more real and painful.

I have been impressed the last couple of weeks, more than at any other time in my life for some reason, with Christ's restraint and desire not to retaliate and just vaporize his antagonists with a blink of the eye which he surely could have done had he chosen to do so.

Just think who the leaders of the Jews, whose hellish desire was to see Jesus crucified, were belittling, mocking, abusing and ultimately exerting sufficient pressure on Pontius Pilate that he succumbed to their evil and unholy desires.

Annas, Caiaphas, arid Herod began the humiliating and degrading procedure that would ultimately climax in HIM being crucified. They slapped HIS face and spit on HIM. They dressed HIM in a purple robe and ridiculed HIM and HE did nothing to retaliate. The Roman soldiers savagely pushed down a crown of thorns on his head, scourged HIM, which often times resulted in death. All of this was but the prelude to the humiliating, degrading, painful and brutal, beyond belief, crucifixion. And who were they doing this to?

HE was Jehovah, the great I Am, the Creator of this world and worlds without number, the Father of heaven and earth, the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Rock, the Lamb of God, the Living Water, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, and the Only Begotten Son of God the Father in the Flesh!

What kept HIM from striking back? There are undoubtedly many answers to my question but the one that strikes deeply into my heart is from the Book of Mormon. "And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they aspit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men." [1 Nephi 19:9 (Emphasis added)]

The phrases, "loving kindness," and "long-suffering," are perfect in describing this aspect of Christ's character. I would like to have in greater abundance in my own life the character trait of loving kindness toward others. I am afraid I have a long way to go, but it is one of the desires of my heart to treat others with the same loving kindness Christ showed even toward his enemies. I know it is a lofty goal but as the poet, Robert Browning wrote: "If a man's reach does not exceed his grasp then what is a heaven for?"

I believe it is easy for a person to feel that he has loving kindness for all mankind in general. The true test of our "loving kindness" as well as our "long suffering," it seems to me, is in the relationships we have with our spouses, children, and those with whom we interact in our own little circle of acquaintances on a day to day basis. For me that means Jo Anne, my married daughter Jackie, her husband Nathan,, and their two little girls who currently live with us. It also includes my caregivers, the wheelchair company and its technicians, the company and technicians that service my life support system, various doctors and nurses that I seem to spend more time with than I would like, and a few others as well, like the waiters and waitresses who serve up the gourmet food at Taco Bell, In N Out Burger, Subway, Café Rio, and etc.

Lately when I have been frustrated or irritated and am tempted to think or say something sarcastic, degrading, or mean-spirited because of something some of these "neighbors" (read carefully the parable of the Good Samaritan – Luke 10: 29-37) with whom I interact constantly, have done to me or not done for me, thankfully, of late, there has come into my mind, very vividly, the picture of the Savior being humiliated, degraded, ridiculed, slapped in the face, spit upon, scourged and then crucified, and yet HE did not retaliate in any way.

As I think of HIM and HIS restraint and self-control, I am always embarrassed at my little frustrations and irritations which are like mosquito bites compared to what HE endured. I get embarrassed, bite my tongue and ask the Lord to please forgive me and my "natural man" foolishness.

I believe that Jo Anne possesses the quality of "loving kindness" to a high degree as I have observed the way she treats others including me over almost a half-century now. I hasten to say however, that she is not perfect in this character trait. There have been a few times during 47 years of marriage that her loving kindness has worn thin. She has actually been known to raise her voice when addressing me at times which is hard to understand because I am such a pleasant fellow to be around most of the time. I did kind of understand her little lack of loving kindness a few weeks ago after I had finally been discharged to go home from my extended vacation in the local ICU. I was still hallucinating and having horrible nightmares and I called for Jo Anne's assistance almost every half-hour all through the night. About 5 AM as she came in to help me for what seemed like the umpteenth time, she said, "Is there anything else you don't need done that I can do for you right now?"

It does take a great sense of humor and tons of loving kindness and long-suffering to successfully complete this Telestial Journey to the Promised Land.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Job Revisited

Recently Jo Anne reviewed with me the funeral arrangements and program she and the family had put together when the doctors' prognosis was that I would not make it. They really did an outstanding job and in some ways I hated to deprive them of participating in such a touching experience. However, I did encourage Jo Anne to file the program away somewhere for future use – hopefully quite some time in the future.

I actually am very embarrassed at all the kind words that have come to me through e-mail and personal visits. I have been called a "miracle man" and "a cat with nine lives" or someone with great faith who is very tough and courageous. Only the Lord and I know the truth of the matter, however. It is only because the Lord wants me here that I am still here. I truly know that he is a God of miracles and I have been the recipient of many of them, over the past 22 years in particular. As it is with your lives, my life is in his hands, and I trust that his will will be done and he will let me come "home" according to his divine timetable and not mine. I am very much at peace with that thought.

I have even had family and friends compare me to Job. I must admit that me being compared to Job is like me being compared as a basketball player to Michael Jordan. We aren't even remotely in the same league or on the same planet regarding basketball acumen.
A while back I was reading D&C 121 for the umpteenth time, as many as you have, and had impressed upon me some words I had never seriously considered before. Joseph was pouring out his heart to the Lord from Liberty Jail regarding the trials and tribulations of the Saints, as well as his own personal afflictions. The well known answer that I have always focused on in my study and in my teaching is: "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high...."[D&C 121: 7-8] Now, that is a profound and comforting answer to prayer, not only to Joseph but to anyone who is undergoing adversity of any kind. However, for years I have glossed over what the Lord told Joseph in the next two verses [9-10]. It was important for Joseph to know that his afflictions were but a "small moment" and if endured well God would exalt him on high, but it was equally important for Joseph to put his suffering in proper perspective. He was told "Thy friends do stand by thee...Thou art not yet as Job..." [9-10]
I think the Lord wanted Joseph to know, or at least remind him, that as bad as things were, that not only would He help him but that his friends and family would be instrumental in supporting and getting him through this difficult time. The thing that must have made Job's suffering particularly galling is that he lost the support of his family and friends. Job, I am sure with aching heart, wrote: "My friends scorned me... My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me... All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned off against me." [Job 16-19.]
Just think of what Job experienced -- the loss of his wealth, family, and health. That was all extremely difficult for him, more than we could imagine I am sure, but it seems to me, and from the scriptures already cited, that the greatest and most difficult thing to deal with was the loss of the support of his family and friends. His physical suffering was immense, but to lose the support of his "friends" seems to have been almost more than he could bear.
I have had impressed upon my mind that we can get through almost any difficulty in life with the help of the Lord and our friends and family. I suppose we can even survive with just the help of the Lord, but without the help and support of friends it would be so much more difficult. If we were to lose the love and support of family and friends, only then would we have some idea of what Job experienced. Thankfully the words that the Lord spoke to Joseph apply to most of us in dealing with the individual challenges that come our way -- "Thy friends do stand by thee...Thou art not yet as Job..."
And so, please never compare me to Job, or yourselves, or anyone else that seems to be having what we might consider a run of "tough luck."
To me herein lies the genius of the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A BYU professor by the name of Eugene England wrote an essay I once read entitled "The Church Is As True As the Gospel!" (Please forgive me for sharing this thought with you once again because I know I have used it in at least one previous observation years ago.) This title is not just a clever play on words. Christ established his Church knowing that for the power of the atonement to be fully effective in the lives of all mankind, it would require a Church organization where friends and inspired leaders could help and support one another through the rigors of mortality. I am convinced we simply cannot do it on our own. I am reminded of the significant words that were part of the baptismal covenant that the Nephites took upon themselves at the Waters of Mormon that still apply to us today.
"... and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort...Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord...?" [Mosiah 18:8-10]

I have been blessed to be surrounded by family and friends that have taken to heart and are sterling examples of the baptismal covenant recorded in Mosiah 18. According to the dictionary a friend is "One who is attached to another by affection and esteem; a favored companion." [Merriam-Webster online dictionary] Truthfully, my greatest friend in mortality is Jo Anne. However, the dictionary definition, in my mind and heart, applies to all my family members, and so many other "friends" that have supported me and expressed their love to me in countless ways for many years. Instead of my injury making me cynical regarding life and mankind, it has had just the opposite effect because of the way I have been treated by my "friends."

Most of us will never be rich or famous as defined by the world, but anyone who is surrounded by loving family members and friends is truly rich in the only way that really matters. As hard as life can be at times the Lord's words to Joseph help us to keep things in their proper perspective. "Thy friends do stand by thee...Thou art not yet as Job..." [9-10]


Friday, June 24, 2011

It's Good to Be Alive Again… And Again

I hate to admit it but I am a "reject." In fact I must have the word "reject" stamped on my forehead. I have almost lost count of how many times I have been rejected and not allowed to enter the Spirit World. As I carefully consider it, however, I suppose it's not such a bad thing to be rejected from that sphere of existence. I guess I will just have to force myself to patiently wait to take that final step from mortality into eternity.

I believe the essence of my latest brush with death is captured in Charles Dickens' novel, "A Tale of Two Cities. His first sentence in this classic book is, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the season of hope, it was the season of despair…"

After being taken to the ER, I was found to be septic (acute infection in the blood), from an inflamed gall bladder. I was then admitted to the ICU. After being there for several days, I became totally unresponsive and remained so for about 10 days.

After a week in this state of unawareness, I was subjected to a series of tests to determine if any damage had been done to my brain due to the severity of my illness. Following brain wave tests and scans, they shot ice water into my ears. Showing no response they then tried to get a gag reflex which was also unsuccessful. That, along with the outcome of my brain tests, showed some damage to the brain stem.

For my family, it became a season of despair. At that time, the head doctor of the ICU, made it very clear to the family that she was certain that I would forever remain in the state I was in and recommended that I be taken off life support. If not, then I would have to be admitted to a care center. It truly was the worst of times.

However, it was also became a season of hope because Jo Anne and the children told the doctor that they would rather take me home and wait and see what might happen. There are not words to express how I feel about this act of faith and hope in the face of such a dire prognosis on the part of medical science.

And then wouldn’t you know, while arrangements were being made to take me home in an  ambulance, I just woke up. All the plans for my imminent funeral were thankfully put on hold. Or as WC Fields said, “ Rumors concerning my demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

On Friday afternoon I began tracking with my eyes. On Saturday I began chewing ice and swallowing. Come Sunday afternoon with all my family present, I began to talk. The family, uncertain if there had been any brain damage or not, began asking me tricky questions like who was in the NBA championship series. I immediately responded, “Miami and Dallas.” I could also sadly recall what a dreadful season the Dodgers were having. Sensing I could recall all that really mattered in life, they finally concluded that “Jack was back.”

To say the least, the doctors and nurses were pretty amazed. In fact, the doctor who suggested my time had come said she was grateful she had been 100% wrong. After spending another week in ICU, trying to make a comeback, I was finally safely delivered to my home by ambulance on a gurney – not nearly as dramatic as Lazarus coming forth from the tomb. I basically slept for the first four days only waking to drink and eat small amounts. When I finally woke up from my Rip Van Winkle nap, my communication skills left much to be desired. I barely had the energy to say one or two words at a time like "hungry," "thirsty," and "suction me.”

Beginning the fifth day, however, I was more alert and began speaking in complete sentences, asking a lot of questions concerning what had happened. Jo Anne revealed to me how close to entering the Spirit World I had come. It was a very sobering conversation. To think that my visits to Taco Bell and In N Out Burger had almost come to an end was very traumatic.

In contrast to being the worst of times, my family revealed to me how it was also the best of times. Some of them were always with me 24/7, especially Jo Anne who slept on her semi-comfortable air mattress in the ICU room with me, being relieved occasionally by other family members. All the children, the boys, in particular, spent many hours together visiting, reminiscing, and bonding than they had for some time. There was much laughter as they recalled childhood experiences. Sometimes for Jo Anne it was the worst of times as they revealed things she was totally unaware of. It made me feel good to know of this outpouring of love, faith, concern, and togetherness of my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren while watching over me.

After returning to the land of the living, it was also the best of times for me when my sons, sons-in-law, a grandson -- who is now at the MTC getting prepared to serve his mission in the Argentina Buenos Aires South mission -- and other close family members, gave me a special priesthood blessing. I remember Mike, my oldest son, pronouncing the blessing and hearing the inspired promise that I would fully recover and regain my health once again.
I have been told how many wonderful friends were praying for me both in and out of the temple. I do believe it was the faith of family and friends and their many prayers in my behalf that pulled me through. I take no credit for this healing miracle.

Since being home, I have an increased testimony of the importance of prayer and scripture study in bringing the spirit of peace and comfort into our lives. At first, while still recovering from all I had been through, I found it difficult to concentrate enough to pray or study my scriptures on the computer and felt somewhat discouraged by it all. The first day I was able to do so, all of the depression and bad feelings disappeared. I have been so much happier ever since. Prayer and scripture study is the key in bringing light and peace into our lives. The peace I am referring to can only come from the Savior who said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid." [John 14:27]

I also had come into my mind two other scriptures I recite to myself and ponder daily. They have inspired me to never give up or give in. The first is from a revelation given to young Joseph Smith, who was just beginning his work as a prophet, seer, and revelator. "Be patient in afflictions for thou shalt have many, but endure them, for lo I am with thee even unto the end of thy days." [D&C 24:8]

We are told that what the Savior says to one he says to all and so I apply it to my own situation, as you can to yours. We can endure anything that comes our way because He is with us even unto the end of our days. He expects us to endure our afflictions well and hopefully come to the realization that we cannot successfully traverse this minefield of mortality without Him. There is just no other way!

The second Scripture that is so important to me is from the writings of Nephi, "Wherefore ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore if ye shall press forward feasting upon the word of Christ and endure to the end. Behold thus sayeth the father, ye shall have eternal life." [2 Nephi 31:20]

For me, in my situation, enduring to the end doesn't mean to the end of my life or when the Second Coming transpires. It means to the end of each day. If I do the things Nephi has suggested on a daily basis, I do believe the gift of eternal life, and peace in this life, can be attained. And yes, "It's Good to Be Alive Again!"


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Broken Bows

This last week while working on my computer I gave an incorrect command to my voice recognition software and it didn't like it. Maybe it was the tone of my voice; I really don't know but it seems to be extremely sensitive and easily offended. A brief message appeared on my monitor saying "You have made a fatal mistake. You have permanently damaged your user profile and can no longer use it." That message was like a dagger in my heart. At the same time that dreadful message appeared, the computer itself began to act weird and as I write this I am waiting for my son in law Nathan, to come into my office and bail me out. Do you believe in evil spirits? I I feel sometimes that my computer is possessed by some malignant power.

I'm happy to report I was not even tempted to use the "D…" word but at the same time I am very unhappy with myself because I became very frustrated and unhappy and began to wonder what horrible thing I had done to deserve this adversity in my life. I had a gospel doctrine lesson I needed to prepare, was running out of time, and I also had other self-imposed projects and deadlines I felt I needed to complete in a timely manner. I was totally stymied and unable to do what I wanted to do because of a dumb computer and overly sensitive voice recognition software.

Thankfully I remembered a lesson I had learned many years ago from the Book of Mormon regarding "Broken Bows" which enabled me to put my malfunctioning computer in proper perspective and even laugh at myself.

Of course, I am referring to Nephi's account of what happened to him and his family while they were traveling in the wilderness. After he broke his bow and his brother's bows were rendered useless to the extent that no animals could be slain for food, Nephi records:
"And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael did begin to murmur exceedingly, because of their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness; and also my father began to murmur against the Lord his God; yea, and they were all exceedingly sorrowful, even that they did murmur against the Lord." [1 Nephi 16:20 – Emphasis added]

Even righteous Lehi, a prophet of God, let a broken bow make him "exceedingly sorrowful" and obscure his vision for a time as he murmured against the Lord. Only Nephi was able to keep things in perspective and ultimately through his faith and works prevail over the broken bow.

Shortly after my injury if any of my equipment failed which it always seemed to do at the most inopportune times – the ramp in the modified van would fail, the van itself would develop problems that made it impossible to drive, the ventilator or the batteries on the wheelchair it was attached to would quit working, and then the wheelchair itself would do crazy things and make it impossible for me to sit in it and drive, thereby robbing me of what little independence I possessed. When these things would happen my heart would begin to palpitate, I would have an anxiety attack and just be plain miserable. I would become "exceedingly sorrowful," and almost be tempted to "murmur against the Lord." It seemed so unfair.

From Lehi's family's experience I came to understand that most negative things in life that come our way are really just "Broken Bows", are really not that important after all, and ultimately can probably be fixed or replaced. Even severe illnesses of a potential terminal nature – things that can't be repaired or replaced – are simply "Broken Bows," when viewed in the context of eternity.

Years ago I taught seminary at a reform will school in Ogden, Utah. As seminary teachers we developed the following philosophical statement -- "The way out is the way through" -- to encourage the disturbed teenagers we worked with to meet their problems head-on, work through them, and having done so to experience the freedom they desired but didn't know how to achieve. As with many of us, their tendency was to avoid working through their problems, murmuring because of them, and trying to run from them -- a sure way to bring misery, sorrow, and frustration into their lives.

Little did I realize at the time that I would have to apply this same philosophy to my own life in a major way. I discovered it was much easier to teach than to do. During the past years since my accident and subsequent paralysis, I truly have had to work my way through the problem of paralysis in order for my spirit to be free and not held captive by my mobility impaired body. First of all I had to come to grips with the fact that my injury was what the medical world called a "complete" injury. My spinal cord had actually been severed and the neurosurgeons gave us no hope that I would ever get anything back. I just couldn't accept that and for several years I tried all kinds of things to somehow heal my spinal cord. Nothing worked of course and I was very miserable as I tried to run away from the truth and regarding my situation. My family, friends, and I prayed that a healing miracle would take place and that my spinal cord would be made whole so that I could walk and breathe on my own. In retrospect we should have been praying, "Please bless Jack with greater faith and strengthen him spiritually so that his burden of paralysis can be made light and easy to bear and that "he will be able to submit with cheerfulness and patience to all the will of the Lord." [Mosiah 24:15]

The day I was able to say to myself "Jack, you are going to be a quadriplegic and living on life support today, tomorrow, and every other day for the rest of your life." That was a breakthrough day for me as I came to realize that I must do everything in my power to develop all of the talents, abilities, and capacities I still had. When I began to do that and increased the fervency of my prayers the Lord did strengthen me spiritually and life has been very good and I can truthfully say "It's Good to Be Alive!"

I really do believe that most problems and challenges we face in life are really only broken bows. Like Nephi, we must not sit and murmur and weep and wring our hands in despair and frustration, but work 's through our challenges and problems with an attitude of faith and hope, discovering that "the only way out is the way through".

I think it's important that we understand what kind of hope I am talking about. Elder Maxwell once gave this beautiful definition: "Real hope is much more than wishful musing. It stiffens, not slackens, the spiritual spine. It is composed, not giddy, eager, without being naive, and pleasantly steady without being smug. Hope is realistic anticipation taking the form of determination-a determination not merely to survive but to "endure … well" to the end." (Ensign, November 1994, p. 35)

I have a small porcelain statue of Nephi on a shelf just above my computer monitor. I look at it many times each day and it seems to give me strength and courage. There Nephi stands; his bow and arrows strapped to his back, his left hand on his hip and the Liahona in his right hand. He is gazing at the horizon with a look of confidence on his countenance. I feel motivated to go forward with my life as I contemplate Nephi and his great attitude of gratitude toward God, as well as his attitude of faith and hope. It was demonstrated not only in the broken bow incident but constantly throughout his life as recorded in the Book of Mormon. One of my favorite incidents is as the family is crossing the ocean; Laman and Lemuel bound Nephi and only loosed him as the ship was in danger of sinking. Nephi's response to what had happened is so typical of him: "... they came unto me, and loosed the bands which were upon my wrists, and behold they had swollen exceedingly; and also mine ankles were much swollen, and great was the soreness thereof. Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions." (1 Nephi 18:15-16 – emphasis added)
I have discovered that an attitude of gratitude, along with faith and hope and trying to see the bright side of life like Nephi, is so essential in helping us to deal with life's problems.

We all have been blessed with our own unique broken bows of one kind or another. Our broken bows will never get the best of us or obscure our vision of eternity if we will but believe and implement the Lord's counsel: "Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if you walk up rightly and remember the covenant...." [Doctrine & Covenants 90:24].



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Putting off the Natural Man

Shortly after my accident I received my first computer along with some voice recognition software. Personal computer technology was not highly developed at the time, nor was voice recognition software. It was very frustrating to try to write or get the computer to respond to the commands the voice recognition software user manual instructed me to use. One embarrassing problem manifested itself almost immediately. To shut down my voice recognition software, the manual instructed me to say the word "close." However, almost every time I said "close" to my computer it would interpret it as "clothes," and immediately the Victoria's Secrets website would pop up on my screen. Somehow the computer was programmed in such a way that it was far easier to access Victoria's Secrets then to get rid of it.
Then there was the unforgettable afternoon that Jo Anne left me home with my youngest daughter Jackie who was a teenager at the time. Because I am on life support I can never be left alone outside of earshot. Jackie was in her bedroom upstairs and I was in my office downstairs working on my computer. We have a good baby monitor system in the house. The transmitter was in my office and Jackie had a receiver in her bedroom. For some reason the afternoon in question found my voice recognition software and computer unwilling to work for me. Whatever command I gave it wouldn't respond and whenever I tried to dictate, the words came out garbled. I had a self-imposed deadline of some kind I was trying to meet and time was slipping by quickly. I don't know how many minutes went by but suddenly I was shouting at the top of my lungs at my computer and using the dreaded "D…" word. Really, I am not in the habit of swearing but somewhere deep down in the dark recesses of my soul the "D…" word surfaced. A second or two later the door to my office burst open and Jackie came marching in. She said, "Dad, did I hear from you what I thought I heard?" I meekly and humbly muttered, "Yes." She responded, "I thought so, and you a patriarch!" With that she turned on her heel shut the door to my office and marched upstairs. I hope President Goodman doesn't read this or our Stake may be getting a new patriarch soon.
I hate to report that the natural man is apparently still well and alive in me. Just when I was thinking I was doing pretty well and maybe was even in line on certain days to be "twinkled," the natural man in me raises up his ugly head. I have a strong testimony and am prime evidence of the truthfulness of what King Benjamin taught his people: "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord…" [Mosiah 3:19]
I believe that maybe I am not so different from most people however. It will probably take a lifetime and more to completely put off the natural man through the atonement of Christ the Lord and become a saint which can only happen as we continually yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit each day of our lives.
I do have great faith that through the help of the Lord a purifying and sanctifying process can take place in all our lives. Let me share an analogy with you regarding the purifying and sanctifying process that can take place in all of us as we strive to put off the natural man.
I grew up in a little copper mining company town, Ruth, Nevada. As soon as we were old enough to qualify, if our fathers worked for Kennecott, the company would hire us each summer so that we could earn money to attend college in the fall. My brothers and I all worked many different jobs for Kennecott during the years and the jobs they gave us were always so unpleasant and physically labor intensive that it was one of our primary motivations to return to school full-time each fall. There was no way we could envision spending a lifetime working, for example, on the track gang in the Liberty Pit for Kennecott. I drove truck, worked on a drill, the track gang and various other jobs through the years prior to my mission, usually the graveyard shift (11:30 PM to 7:30 AM) because Kennecott was a 24-hour, seven-day a week operation. Upon returning from my mission however, the only jobs in available were in McGill -- the smelter.
It was from the mining, milling, and smelting process that I began to more fully understand the concept of conversion and putting off the "natural man." I had much experience watching and participating in the digging of ore out of an open pit. The Liberty Pit in Ruth was advertised as the deepest man-made hole in the world which I have always believed to be true. The ore dug from the pit would be hauled by truck, dumped into huge railroad cars, and sent 20 miles from Ruth to the mill and smelter in McGill. Copper ore is gray in color and most of the time tons of waste material holding no ore would have to be removed to get at the true stuff. It arrived in McGill at the mill and the ore cars would dump their loads of raw ore into an enormous machine called the CRUSHER. This machine was aptly named as it began to pulverize rocks and huge boulders into something resembling sand. In the mill a flotation process of some kind was used to skim off much of the impurities (having never worked in the mill I am not sure of all that occurred there). I do know that it eventually left the mill looking like gray damp sand. It was moved on a large conveyor belt to the smelter and dumped into the tops of massive blast furnaces made out of brick.
I won't soon forget the first day I walked into the smelter and felt the heat and noise emanating from those blast furnaces, along with the smoke and what seemed to me total confusion, as groups of men ran back and forth performing their duties. Each furnace had two openings near the bottom, one being a number of feet higher than the other however. These openings were closed with large hunks of clay called dollies. I was assigned to a gang whose job it was to tap out (remove) these dollies (big hunks of clay) several times each shift. This was accomplished by one of us, usually me, holding a long steel bar against the dolly while my friends would take turns hitting the end of the steel bar with a large sledgehammer. Holding the bar sounds dangerous doesn't it? It was and you just had to trust the guy with the sledgehammer that he would always hit what he was aiming at.
When the top dolly was tapped out, molten slag which consisted of the impurities in the ore which had risen to the top under the intense heat of the furnace would flow down a long trough out of the smelter and down the hill to the slag dump. Picture the aftermath of a volcanic eruption with volcanic rock and ash spread out everywhere. There were acres and acres of slag dumps him around McGill and no high-powered PR firm or Chamber of Commerce could ever make you believe that McGill was really picturesque and beautiful.
Eventually the bottom dolly would be tapped out and a more pure substance would run down a large trough dumping itself into vast buckets which a crane, suspended from the top of the smelter, would hook and transport quickly to the other side dumping its contents into a piece of equipment called THE CONVERTER. The converter was a super furnace that was able to apply more heat and pressure to the molten substance it received into its belly than even the blast furnaces. In this final process all impurities would be burned-out and when the converter eventually emptied its contents into special molds for shipping back East it consisted of bars of pure copper laced with gold and silver. Enough gold and silver came out of this process to pay for much of the operating costs to process the ore. I will leave it to you to flesh out the analogy or metaphor as it applies to the conversion process and the putting off of the natural man as you are inspired to do so.
My own take on this entire mining and smelting process is that it applies directly to the conversion that must take place in all our lives. As I watched the process of mining and smelting through the years, and especially while working in the smelter at the side of THE CONVERTER, I came to understand, as I am sure you all do, that true conversion is not just believing or thinking or knowing, it is literally becoming transformed from the raw material called the natural man and into what? I believe that Elder Oaks gave a beautiful answer to that question when he said:
"In teaching the Nephites, the Savior referred to what they must become. He challenged them to repent and be baptized and be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, “that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day” (3 Ne. 27:20). He concluded: “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Ne. 27:27). Ultimately we want to become like Christ! Elder Oaks went on to say: "Most of us experience some measure of what the scriptures call “the furnace of affliction” (Isa. 48:10; 1 Ne. 20:10). Some are submerged in service to a disadvantaged family member. Others suffer the death of a loved one or the loss or postponement of a righteous goal like marriage or childbearing. Still others struggle with personal impairments or with feelings of rejection, inadequacy, or depression. Through the justice and mercy of a loving Father in Heaven, the refinement and sanctification possible through such experiences can help us achieve what God desires us to become." (Elder Oaks, Ensign, November, 2000, 32).
THE CONVERTER ultimately is life itself and through constant repentance and the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost we can ultimately be converted from a natural man to a Christlike state.
"Who is righteous? [Who is like Christ?] Anyone who is repenting. No matter how bad he has been, if he is repenting, he is a righteous man. There is hope for him. And no matter how good he has been all his life, if he is not repenting, he is a wicked man. The difference is which way you are facing. The man on the top of the stairs facing down is much worse off than the man on the bottom step who is facing up. The direction we are facing, that is repentance; and that is what determines whether we are good or bad." (Hugh Nibley)
With the help of Christ we can be refined and turned into pure copper, gold and silver. It will be done over a lifetime and will undoubtedly include being thrust eventually into the crucible of affliction or into "THE CRUSHER AND THE CONVERTER."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Heap Big Smoke but No Fire

Several years ago I had a stomach ulcer that exploded. The doctors called it Mount St. Helens. A surgeon by the name of Dr. Nakono leaned over me and whispered in my ear, "Jack, if I don't operate right now you will die." I am not very smart but I got her message loud and clear and whispered in return, "Do it!" Dr. Nakono did it! There could have been many disastrous complications that had been mentioned to my family, but none of them materialized. I will always believe it was because Dr. Nakono was so well-trained, knew what she was doing, and simply did it, coupled with the intervention of Heavenly Father on my behalf that my life was saved. Don't you just love people who know how to do things and then they just do them without a lot of fuss or fanfare?

Jo Anne has been interacting with medical supply companies on my behalf ever since I was injured 21 years ago. For the most part they have done pretty well by us, but we have learned that all medical supply companies are not created equal. The company that supplies us with many of the things we need is just the best. Jo Anne can call in an order on Monday let's say, and the next day UPS will deliver it to our home with the exact things we ordered. On the other hand, the company that services our ventilator and all the equipment I need to keep my life support system functioning the way it should, is absolutely and irrevocably dysfunctional! Jo Anne can call in an order and it will never come. She calls back and they make excuses and say they will send it right out which they do but it is never the order we requested. They will send half of it or twice as much of it or often not even what we ordered. It is a source of great frustration for both of us. The only thing they never forget is to send is the bill, which is never accurate – always overcharged. And frequently we get a call from a collection agency asking us if we would like to settle our bill by giving them our credit card number. Well, if you know Jo Anne you can imagine what her response might be to these wonderful people who sound like they are in India or on the North Pole.

Many years ago I remember watching with my mother on TV the Arthur Godfrey show each day at noon. We only had three channels we could receive at our home in East Ely, Nevada. On Squaw Peak just outside of town there was a receiver of sorts that would pick up the signal from the major stations in Salt Lake City and then reflect them to our home. We were only 250 miles from Salt Lake, but 350 from Las Vegas and about the same from Reno. I believe the Arthur Godfrey show was one of my mom's favorite shows on TV. He was a big man with red hair and freckles who loved to sing while playing his ukulele. As a young man I always remember, and still do to this day, the favorite song he used to sing – "Heap Big Smoke but No Fire." It went like this: "Heap big smoke but no fire, heap big smoke but no fire. Him talk a lot but him not so hot. Heap big smoke but no fire!"

A favorite story I read many years ago that is still influencing me is entitled "A message to Garcia." It was written by Eldred Hubbard . It is a wonderful story about initiative, trustworthiness and simply "doing it!" Eldred Hubbard wrote: "...When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia [leader of the Cuban insurgents against Spain] was somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba—no one knew where. No mail or telegraph could reach him. The President [William McKinley] must secure his co-operation, and quickly. What to do! An aid to the President said to him, "There is a fellow by the name of Rowan who will find Garcia for you, if anybody can." Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia....the fellow by the name of Rowan took the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and having delivered his letter to Garcia... The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, "Where is he at?"

"By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this or that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing—"Carry a message to Garcia." (Eldred Hubbard)

I believe that Rowan was a prime example of one who was "Heap Big Fire with Little Smoke!" His type of initiative, trustworthiness, and integrity, sadly, is not found in great numbers of people. I know that in the leadership positions I have held over the years I have always tried to surround myself with people that could "carry a message to Garcia." Frequently these men and women have not been great public speakers but they know how to carry the message to Garcia. I have been blessed to find men and women that I could totally trust to use their initiative to accomplish something delegated to them better than I could ever have done it myself. Such individuals are truly priceless.

To do what we say we are going well to do is surely a priceless character trait. The Savior felt strongly about going and doing, he himself having volunteered in the Pre-mortal life to save mankind by basically saying, "I will go and do it, and the glory be thine." He did it!
Obedient and faithful Nephi when asked to go back to Jerusalem to secure the brass plates from Laban simply said, "… I will go and do what the Lord hath commanded …" [1 Nephi 3:5]

We can learn so much from the Savior, the man Rowan who delivered the "message to Garcia." Nephi, and a host of others. None of these were "Heap big smoke and no fire!" To say what we mean, and mean what we say and then to do it is one of the great character traits we can develop during this trial period we call mortality.

President Kimball's favorite saying I believe consisted of only two words, "DO IT!" For years on my desk were those two words that looked like they were chiseled in stone.. Actually the entire object was made out of some very lightweight synthetic material that resembled stone. However, the message was never synthetic or was the man who lived by those two words! As I looked at each day I was inspired to always try to simply "DO IT!" Not a bad way to try to live our lives.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Work and the Glory

After a particularly hard day Jo Anne sat down with me and said, "Jack, we really ought to write a book about our experiences together since your accident." She went on to say, "If we do write such a book I have the perfect title. We will call it "The Work and the Glory!" I looked at her in amazement and responded, "That is truly a wonderful title, but quite a famous author has pretty well used up that particular title." She looked me in the eyes and said, "I know that, but it would still be the perfect title for our book, because for some reason I seem to do all the work and you manage to get all the glory!" Well, it certainly is true about Jo Anne doing all the work but I'm not sure about the glory part of the proposed title.
My mother passed away a few years ago while living with one of my brothers in South Jordan, Utah. The funeral was held in Salt Lake City. Jo Anne and I drove to Provo with our daughter, Jolene, and her youngest child at the time, Tanner. We stayed with Jo Anne's sister, Judy, at her home in the Provo area. The night before the funeral my two older brothers came to visit. About the time Jo Anne was putting me down for the night I said to her in their presence, "Now you know the funeral begins at 10 AM in Salt Lake City and then we are going to have to drive directly to Ely, Nevada for the burial the next day (Ely is 250 miles from Salt Lake City). So do you think you can get me up in the morning, get me dressed and into the wheelchair, feed me some breakfast, load the van and the car top and get us to the funeral by 10 AM and then drive us to Ely after the funeral service?" Jo Anne looked at me without blinking her eyes or grimacing too badly and said, "No problem!" My two brothers looked at each other and one of them said, "Boy, that's what I call a good marriage!"
About now you are probably thinking, "Jack, what do you contribute to this marriage?" That is a very good and legitimate question and the answer is very simple, "Not much!" Really, the only thing I can contribute is to be cheerful, express gratitude for all that is done for me, complement Jo Anne on how nice she looks and how wonderful the outfits are that she puts on me each morning. I also try to be very open and honest in my communication with her and have learned the truthfulness of the significant statement, "Openness brings closeness!"
As Jo Anne takes care of me, makes sure the grass, flowers, and shrubbery are carefully and beautifully maintained, makes sure home repairs are done correctly and by competent individuals (I never did deserve being numbered as part of this elite group), keeping the house spotless, the van serviced properly, battling insurance and medical supply companies, and cooking wonderful meals, and a multitude of other things, what do I do? Good question!
I thought some of you might be interested in a typical day in the life of this quadriplegic on life support. I think it might help you better understand why Jo Anne's proposed title for our book is so apropos.
My day typically begins at about 5 AM each morning. I do however struggle for a few weeks adjusting to daylight savings time each year. When I wake up it is dark but I usually can't sleep anymore at that time of day. I lay there for a few minutes and try to go back to sleep, but once I finally realize that sleep has escaped me for the night, I begin what I call my morning devotional. I begin singing in my mind my favorite hymns. I have approximately 20 that I enjoy singing. I generally sing 10 to 15 of them each morning after I wake up. I will share with you some that I sing. I always start off with "Oh How Lovely Was the Morning" – all four verses. Next I sing "Praise to the Man," followed by "I Stand All Amazed." And then I sing the following: "Have I Done Any Good in the World Today," "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel," "There Is Sunshine in My Soul Today," (I especially love the verse – "there is music in my soul today, a Carol to my King, and Jesus listening can hear the songs I cannot sing) "High on a Mountaintop," Redeemer of Israel," "Hope of Israel," "Let Us All Press On," "Ere You Left Your Room This Morning," "I Need Thee Every Hour," "Oh My Father," "We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet ," and I won't bore you with any more. I always end by singing "How Firm a Foundation." I especially love the third verse, "Fear not, Jack, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed, for I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I'll strengthen thee, bless thee and cause thee to stand [I especially like that phrase] upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand, upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand!"
By the end of my hymn singing I am feeling very happy and peaceful inside and am prepared to offer my morning prayer. I am in no hurry and enjoy this part of my morning devotional the best. If I know I have overslept I will eliminate the hymn singing but never the prayer. I simply could not make it without the prayer. The third part of my devotional is to meditate or ponder. I prepare lessons and talks in my mind, receive ideas for observations I would like to write and have had some very special experiences during that pondering time. I can never go to the computer saying to myself that I am now going to write an observation. I will think for several weeks about an experience or an idea I think might be worth writing about and when I finally go to the computer it generally flows for me, although at times it ends up going a completely different direction once I start writing.
About 7 AM my son-in-law, Nathan Brown, (I really like this boy) comes into my bedroom on his way to work, gives me a drink of water, does some other things to make me more comfortable, and then puts my earphones on me so that I can listen to a book on tape. Because my eyesight has gone south on me making it impossible for me to read the printed page any longer, and because I don't have the use of my limbs I qualify to be a member of the braille Institute who through the Los Angeles County public library system supplies me with a special tape recorder and a wide variety of books I can request to read. I always have on my shelf 9 or 10 books I can hardly wait to listen to.
Between 8 and 8:30 AM my caregiver comes to start getting me ready for the day. He performs some necessary procedures on me, washes my face, shaves me, brushes my teeth, and exercises my body, stretching my limbs to keep my muscles from atrophying and my limbs from becoming frozen in place and distorted. About this time he calls for Jo Anne to come down to make the most important decision of the day. My caregiver and I would not dare to choose the outfit for the day. To do so would be way beyond our intelligence and abilities. Jo Anne selects the outfit and she and my caregiver get me completely dressed. The caregiver, a wonderful man from the Philippines, does all of the tugging and pulling and finally I am hooked up to the hydraulic patient lifter, transported from the bed to the wheelchair which is always an adventure because I am without air during the transfer, and I truly do love to breath. Jo Anne reluctantly lets my caregiver comb my hair. It has taken many years for her to delegate that awesome responsibility to anyone but herself. Finally my caregiver feeds me some yogurt with fruit in it, gives me some water to wash down a variety of pills (I am one of the great "pillars" in the Church) and then I am ready for the day.
I roll out of my bedroom across the dining room and into my office. Either Jo Anne or my caregiver sets me up on my computer, positions my microphone headset properly, boots up the computer and I am finally ready to go to work.
I am usually on the computer by 10 AM and study the Scriptures, prepare lessons, write observations, research on the web, read and send e-mails, and thoroughly enjoy what I am able to do. My voice recognition software is incredibly good and I can accomplish by voice what normal able-bodied people can do with their hands and fingers. I work until about 12:30 PM when I take a 10 minute break, drink some tomato juice to wash down another series of pills, maybe eat a handful of nuts and then get back on the computer. Between 2 and 3 PM Jo Anne takes me out in the van to run errands and to go to lunch. Our errands generally consist of returning purchased items to the major mercantile establishments in the greater Orange County Area. I can generally persuade her to get lunch before 3 PM. We go to Taco Bell, subway, Baja fresh, Café Rio on Taco Tuesday where we get a good deal on their wonderful tacos, Saturday afternoon we have a tradition of going to "In N Out Burger" which to me is always the highlight of our gourmet dining during the week. Sometimes Jo Anne talks me into going to a healthy organic pizza place. I really don't enjoy it and prefer the greasy, cheesy pizzas at Pizza Hut. I know my lunch diet is not really good for me but I don't care. I remember Tommy Lasorda, the former Hall of Fame manager of the Dodgers, was talked into going on a diet one time. He finally gave it up and said "I did lose lots of weight and was looking good, but the thought came to me that all the misery I was going through would culminate at my viewing before my burial where people would come by and say,' My, doesn't he look great' ! I just decided the misery wasn't worth it."
On a typical day we will be home before 5 PM and I will spend a couple of more hours on the computer. I'm usually in my bedroom by 6:30 PM watching the news on TV. We eat dinner between 7 PM and 8 PM most days. My caregiver comes at 8 PM to put me down for the night. I am in bed on my left side so I can watch the TV by 8:30 PM. I will be watching the Lakers or the Dodgers or BYU sports in season or a Turner classic movie. I have sworn off network TV not finding anything virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy, or of good report in most of the programming. Jo Anne and Nathan come in about 11 PM, reposition the bed, get me on my back, give me another bunch of pills with a big drink of water and I am ready for a good night's sleep until 5 AM in the morning.
We also try to go to the Temple once each week, an occasional movie if we can find one worth watching, out to dinner with friends, and we love Sundays being with our good friends, teaching gospel doctrine, and usually giving a patriarchal blessing or doing some home teaching Sunday afternoons. We especially enjoy visiting with our children and grandchildren who fortunately live within an hour of our home.
Now, I'm afraid I have painted such a rosy picture of the life of a quadriplegic on life support that some of you may feel cheated that you haven't been blessed with this great opportunity. I must admit it has a downside as well however, which I won't dwell on and really never think much about.
A while back in our Gospel doctrine class we were discussing the Savior and Peter walking on the water during the storm on the Sea of Galilee. I once heard a minister on a radio program saying that he thought Peter was like a cheap suit. Every time the going got tough he folded. On the Sea of Galilee he sank like a rock and that night in Caiaphas' Palace he denied knowing Jesus. I beg to differ with him. How many of us have ever walked on water? Peter was a man of great faith but it was not fully developed yet. He was momentarily distracted and became very self-conscious I believe when he realized he was actually walking on water. The moment he lost his focus on the Savior his walking on the water was over. Matthew recorded the following: "But when he [Peter] saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him…"[Matthew 14:30-31]
I am convinced that Peter, though his faith faltered in that instance and he was afraid he, never lost faith in Christ. And as he was sinking to his death he cried out, "Lord, save me," and Jesus stretched forth his hand and saved him.
I can identify with Peter. For the better part of 21 years now I have felt I have been "rolling" on water. The burden of paralysis has been made light and because of the Savior and his great , the fix out one thing out of the bottle, neither just one chapter love I have been strengthened spiritually so I have been able to lift up the burden of paralysis with ease and submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord. [Mosiah 24:15]
However, there are those moments when I lose focus like Peter did and reflect on what I am doing and what I have been doing for the last 21 years and I begin to sink like a rock and feel for just a second or two that what I have done and am doing, and what Jo Anne has done and said is doing is absolutely impossible. In those rare moments, like Peter, I cry out, "Lord save me," and he does and will continue to do so I believe, as long as I do my part.
And the truth of the matter is that Jo Anne is both "The Work and the Glory," and to me "A Marvelous Work and a Wonder!"


Go to top of page up