Faith, Sacrifice and Making a Living


 

avjet_wwii_smallSeveral readers have asked me if I am still blogging. The answer is no, even though this is a new post. To me, blogging is writing often, like two or three times a week, and spending considerable thought and research on the subject. Active blogging also involves promotion in order to increase your readership. I did that for many years, but now I write just to share observations on occasion.

Something I have noticed over the past few years is how much sacrifice the Lord asks of us. He asks kindly, but can be rather insistent at times. Agency is honored, but if we think about what the Lord is trying to accomplish, He is more than willing to provide glimpses of what He has in mind. That’s a general rule I’ve noted. Sometimes, it’s a strong impression with no explanation.

May I share an example that may help? Even if everyone who reads this responds that what I have written is benign and obvious, I feel the need to share, to be sure I understand the trial through which I am passing. We all have trials, don’t we? I think I’ve shared in a previous post of the strong, very strong and unusual impression I received to resign from my employment early last year.

BTW, the picture above is where I have worked for the past twelve years. Obviously, the picture was taken during WWII. My office is in the front middle hangar. We have two server rooms, tied together with 10Gb fiber, with onsite and offsite redundant backup. It has been a wonderful place to work, but the daily commute is a killer.

The Cardinal Rule

servers1It’s been drilled into me all my life that the husband in a marriage has the responsibility to provide for his family, both temporarily and spiritually. I’ve had a good career, but to resign from a lucrative position after twelve years without any other prospect in sight is breaking a cardinal rule in the process. Men think mostly about their work. It’s always on our minds.

I enjoy my work. I’m a computer generalist, meaning I have a broad knowledge of a lot of things related to computers, networks and managing technical projects and people. But I’m also a bit of a specialist in many areas such as ensuring disaster recovery, removing viruses, blocking spam and administering networks, especially through VMWare and Microsoft Active Directory.

Enough of the boring stuff. The point of this post is you don’t break the cardinal rule when you feel the urge to change jobs. That is exactly what the Lord asked of me last year. My employer was bought out and I felt, through the process of prayer, that the Lord wanted me to leave that company, for reasons which I’ve explained in my last post. So I gave a good six month notice.

Assurance from the Lord

linkedin-timmalone1I hesitated several months after the company was sold before I gave my notice. I kept thinking, “I can’t do this. I don’t have anything else lined up and I’m too young to retire.” But the Lord is insistent. The impression continued for months. Finally, to my wife’s dismay, I resigned and reported back to the Lord. His response? Wait. He asked me to wait until the end of the year.

Wait for what? I was to wait to begin my job search. Carol and I prayed every morning and night for the faith to be patient. We asked continually for the Lord to show us the path, prepare the way and open a door when the time came to begin the search in earnest. That day came just after Christmas last year. You can read about it in my last post. In the meantime I worked and prayed.

The day after I posted about Preserving the Fruit of the Restoration, which fruit I believe to be marriages, I received a text from a long-time reader indicating he felt impressed to contact me about an opportunity, which by the way, involved moving to a foreign country. At first I dismissed it, but each night in prayer the Lord asked if I had responded to this individual yet.

A Whirlwind Journey

passport1The Lord really is patient with us, but He can be very insistent. Finally I reached out to my reader and he began the process of sharing what he had in mind. I was very intrigued. I was invited to visit the company, which is not based in my home state of California, and spend some time in interviews and meetings. At the end of the week, I had an amazing offer in my hand.

I was invited back for a week of training, made travel arrangements, and waited. Imagine my surprise when I received a call from the HR Manager five days before I was to begin my journey informing me the offer had been rescinded. The call came as Carol and I were in the car so she heard the entire conversation. Gratefully, she bit her tongue as I tried to salvage the deal.

Wow. What a shock. We had arrived at home and sat in the car numbed by what had just taken place. How could this happen? We had a written offer. I had given up a month of my search time in preparing for travel out of country – renewing my passport, starting the process of packing, and in general wrapping our heads around the idea of living in a completely foreign environment.

Consultation with the Lord

refinersfire1Our scripture reading and prayer that night were especially poignant. Tears flowed as we begged the Lord to help us deal with this turn of events. Truly, the Lord will wrench our very heart strings in testing us in the refiner’s fire. Yet, we know we are made perfect through sufferings. It has been a few days. I decided to take next week off to dedicate to connecting with my network.

I have one month of gainful employment remaining. Normally this close to the end of the job, I would have something new lined up. This is surely a test. I’ve been fired two or three times in my career, each time through no fault of my own, usually due to the completion of a project. The last time it took seven months to land a job. I think I’ve described that process in a blog post.

I’ve asked the Lord privately why this happened, what I should do and what lies before us. I can honestly say this is one of those times when I know we did everything the Lord asked of us and have every right to expect his blessings in answering our many months of prayer together. The only thing I hear from the Lord when I ask is,” Be faithful. Do your part. You are being tested.”

A Common Experience

georgewashington1Obviously we are not the only couple in the world to have gone through a challenge like this. The difference is that I would never quit a job without something else lined up. Yet, the Lord asked me to do so, to step out into the unknown, to see if I trusted Him enough to provide. In some ways, this is a double test, because I thought it was nailed down. Yet now we begin anew.

The last time I was let go at the end of a computer conversion project, I fasted and went to the temple every week. I intend to follow that same plan this time, only my temple will be on the mountain top each Saturday afternoon. I can’t think of any trial that can break up a marriage faster than unemployment. Yet our scripture reading and prayers remain sacred and sweet.

I am grateful. It is an opportunity to show the Lord I trust in Him no matter what. It is so easy to give in to fears and play “What are we going to do?” That’s exactly what Satan wants. That is not the Lord’s way to deal with a challenge like this. The Lord requires the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I feel both. I so appreciate having my sweetheart standing at my side.

One last note

christianreformation1I promised Denver I would mention the new website about the 500th anniversary of the history of the Christian Reformation. I have spent some time at the site, viewing the videos and reading the items under the tab entitled “Reformation.” It is well done, teaches truth, and makes some things so much clearer than the way I remember being taught growing up. It’s well worth your time.

www.christianreformation500years.info

…and…

www.youtube.com/channel/UC6cEtBt6U_A0oDKfQCGoCjA

God bless.

Miracles and Angels


A car lurched from the Oklahoma country road into the highway. The driver didn’t stop at the stop sign. Instead, he stalled on the road a hundred yards in front of us.

“Why doesn’t he get out of the way?” I asked from the middle of the front seat.

Dad didn’t respond. He locked up the brakes and laid on the horn. Our late 1960’s American Rambler slid down the hill on screeching tires.

Mother stopped talking mid-sentence in the back seat. She had just changed places with my sister and me a few miles back to talk with grandmother.

I was in the middle of the front seat. My sister was to my right. Seatbelts? I can’t remember. Shoulder belts became law in 1968. I can tell you I wasn’t wearing one.

Our California car probably crested the hill before the intersection doing 65 mph. Best guess from the photos looks like we hit the other car going 35 or 40. The impact pushed him into the ditch twenty to thirty feet past the crossing. Our car ended up on top of the stop sign.

I remember dad throwing his right arm out in an effort to protect me. I don’t remember the impact. Gingerly, I pulled my broken left arm out of the circular air conditioning vent. My sister was already out the right door. She held her left wrist. I followed quick as I could.

Dad came over to see if we were alright. The look in his and my sister’s face told me I wasn’t. I glanced down to see what they were looking at. The blood dripped profusely from the cut over my eye. It was hard to see.

“I’m OK, I’m OK,” I tried to assure them. I hopped about in an effort to deny the pain. The hopping didn’t help. The abnormal angle of my left arm frightened me.

“Son, didn’t you see that stop sign?” my dad asked the driver of the other car. Dad’s calmness amazed me. He then knelt next to the car in an effort to comfort my mother.

A low moan came from the back seat. Mother didn’t get out. She couldn’t. X-rays later revealed a broken pelvis and ruptured spleen. She had been sitting sideways when we hit.

Two ambulances took us to the hospital. Grandmother went with mother in the first. My sister and I went in the second. In spite of broken ribs, dad stayed behind to talk to the trooper.

I wasn’t prepared for surgery. I broke my finger in a skateboarding accident years earlier. The doctor reset the bone then and put a splint on it. My arm was in much worse shape.

“You sure swore a blue streak when you came out of the anesthesia,” the orderly said as he wheeled me to my room. Embarrassed, I made a mental note to clean up my language.

“Are you sure?” the nurse asked again on the third day. She asked the same thing every day. I had no idea what a bowel movement was. Why did she keep asking me that? My sister finally explained what she meant. I was glad we didn’t stay more than a week in the hospital.

The trip home to California was my first airline flight. I don’t remember if mother came with us then or travelled later. I know she had a difficult recovery. She lay on the couch at home for several weeks. As far as I know she started teaching school on time again in September.

It’s funny how everyone’s injuries were on the left side. Dad’s broken left ribs; my sister’s broken left wrist and my broken left arm. To this day I have the scars from the pins in my elbow. Occasionally my arm locks up, a reminder of that painful day.

In a quiet reflective moment with my dad years later, I asked him about the accident. He expressed the concern he felt for us at the time and then shared something sacred.

“You know your mother was hurt pretty bad,” he said.

“We were all messed up. She had surgery like me, didn’t she?”

“She did. I sat by her side all that night and every night for a week.” He struggled to go on. I could tell it was difficult for him to talk about this.

“I didn’t think she was going to make it. I can tell you I never prayed so hard in my life.” He was crying. Dad never cried. “It was a miracle we weren’t hurt worse.”

“I know. I still can’t remember the impact. It’s like I blanked out,” I said.

“We were protected by an angel, especially you.” Dad never talked about angels. I didn’t even know he believed in them. “It was a miracle.”

“What do you mean?”

“That night your mother lay close to death, I pled with the Lord to preserve her life. I didn’t think I could go on without her.” This was my invincible, invulnerable dad.

“I must have dozed off. When I woke, someone was sitting on the other side of the bed, looking at your mother.” Dad was serious in a way I had never seen before.

“Was it a doctor?”

“No. He had on a white robe that sort of glowed. His face shone. He looked up, smiled at me and then disappeared. I knew everything was going to be alright.”

“Who do you think it was?”

He looked at me long and hard before responding.

“I think it was the same person that kept you from going through the windshield of that car. Maybe it was your brother who died just after he was born.”

My Interview with Mormon.org


On this Pioneer day, I decided to answer all the personal questions that you are asked when you fill out the profile on Mormon.org.  There are a whole lot more under the FAQ section (about 80) but that will have to wait for another day when I have more time.  I thoroughly enjoyed the process of answering these questions and felt like I was being interviewed, thus the title of this blog post.

01. Please explain the part prayer plays in your life?

Having grown up with daily prayer, I can’t imagine a day go by in which I don’t communicate with my Heavenly Father in prayer.  We start the day in prayer as a family asking for the Lord’s blessing upon us as we work.  We end the day in prayer the same way, usually kneeling by the bed, reporting our activities to God and thanking him for his help.  We give thanks for the food we eat at mealtimes and participate in public prayers in our weekly worship service.  It is through prayer and reading scriptures that I feel close to God and directed in my life.

02. Which of the Savior’s teachings have influenced you in your life?

The most powerful admonition of the Lord that has helped me find happiness in this life is his commandment that we love one another.  I remember this whenever I feel that I have been misunderstood or hurt by someone else, either intentionally or not.  It is so easy to take offense in this world but the end result is that we only hurt ourselves when we do that.  To love others is to trust in the Lord that he will help make everything all right, even if it doesn’t appear that way at first.  He also requires us to forgive others since we all make mistakes and errors in judgment. We show our love by forgiving.

03. Please share your feelings/testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel.

Even though I grew up hearing the Joseph Smith story I am still amazed as an adult to realize just how powerful his history really is.  Think about it!  Angels, gold plates, visits from God, Jesus Christ and ancient apostles and prophets – these are all miraculous events that we just don’t hear about everyday.  It is truly a marvelous thing to learn all that the Lord did through Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God.  I am especially grateful for revealed doctrines that clarified and corrected the errors of man in the many religions of the world.

04. Please share your feelings/testimony of Joseph Smith.

I have read at least a dozen biographies of the life of Joseph Smith, and continue to be amazed that the Lord was able to accomplish so much through this one man.  He was a prophet in every sense of the word in that the Lord revealed his will for us through him and continues to do so through the prophets that have followed.  But it was Joseph who paid so dearly with his life even though he did what the Lord told him to do in bringing forth the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  I hold Joseph Smith in high regard and look forward to meeting him in the world to come.  I want to thank him for his faithfulness in translating the Book of Mormon.

05. Why do Mormons go on missions?

I went on a mission because I watched a video of the prophet asking all worthy young men to serve the Lord as missionaries.  As he shared his vision of how the gospel would go to all the world, I deeply felt a desire stirring within my soul to be a part of that great army of missionaries.  It was a major sacrifice for me to leave my studies and spend two years in Central America seeking out those who would respond to the Lord’s invitation to come unto him through baptism.  I loved my mission experience and found joy in testifying to the world that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  We go on missions because we are commanded to share the gospel and feel the desire to seek out and bring the message of the truth to all who will receive it.

06. Why do Mormons do family history or genealogy work?

Besides being a commandment to seek out our ancestors, we do family history research because we feel a desire to know and appreciate the story of those to whom we are indebted for our very lives.  I am a product of all those who came before me.  My parents were influenced by their parents and they were who they were because of their parents and so on back as far as we can discover.  Once we have the basic facts of their lives such as names and dates, we are privileged to go to the temple and perform proxy ordinances for them so that they too may meet the commandments of the Lord to be baptized and enter into covenants of exaltation.  We do family history work so we can be saviors on Mt Zion (Obadiah 1:21).

07. How has attending Church services helped you?

One of the highlights of my week is to attend church services each Sunday.  I serve in a leadership capacity in my church, and attend a few more meetings besides the regular three-hour block of Sacrament, Sunday school and Priesthood meetings.  I love the interaction with others who believe as I do and feel as I do about trying to follow the teachings of the Savior.  I say try because nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes each week.  That’s another reason why I love to go to church each Sunday – I get to renew my baptism covenants by taking the Sacrament each week.  I learn more of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these church services and feel a unity with God and with my fellow saints as we worship God and Jesus Christ together.

08. What has helped develop greater harmony in your home?

Like everyone else, I have experienced moments of argument and disharmony in my home which leave me feeling frustrated, resentful, hurt or angry.  I do not like such feelings, especially in my home where I want to relax and feel happy, safe and secure.  So over the years, I have made a greater effort each day to promote harmony and unity by not arguing and not finding fault with my family members.  I was not very good at this as a youth and so I appreciate the blessings that have come to me as an adult as I try to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ to love others, especially members of my own family, who need and deserve my love the most.  We can have a harmonious home by practicing kindness and forgiveness.

09. What have you done successfully to shield your family from unwanted influences?

Of all the teachings of the church about family, this idea of keeping out the world has been the most difficult but the most rewarding.  Television and the Internet are two of the most challenging types of media to monitor and control.  We believe in freedom so we encourage each other to seek after virtuous and uplifting material.  So the shield we put into place is not anything controlling such as “thou shalt not!”  It is more of making sure that we understand the differences that certain material, music or entertainment can produce, compared to the results of worthy content.  We seek out and support worthy entertainment and uplifting media content and pray constantly that we will each desire such material over the worldly offerings.

10. Could you talk about your baptism?

I was eight years old when I was baptized and for me, that is a long time ago.  My father, who was a recent convert, had to work the evening of my baptism, so he was unable to perform the ordinance.  I was baptized by a young man who was preparing to serve a mission.  My father was able to confirm me a member of the church the next day and I remember the special feelings that came to me as he conferred upon me the gift of the Holy Ghost.  I remember my primary teacher was there and gave me a picture of the Savior mounted on a small piece of wood.  I still treasure that memento and the words of encouragement that she penned on the back.  I’m sure I did not understand all the implications of the covenants I was making at eight years old, but I have come to appreciate the blessings of this ordinance more and more each Sunday as I take the Sacrament and remember what the Savior miraculously did for me in taking upon himself the effects of my sins upon conditions of repentance.  It is baptism that makes my repentance possible.

11. Why/How do you share the gospel with your friends?

I am not a very outgoing person so I believe that the best way I can share the gospel with others is through providing a good example of following the teachings of the Savior.  I have been amazed over the years as I see the influence that my behavior has on others.  I feel it brings respect and a kind of trust that can come in no other way.  I am sometimes surprised that people, including co-workers, will unsolicited confide in me details of problems they are working out and seek my advice and opinion.  I am then able to share my beliefs that following the teachings of Jesus Christ can and does help me deal with problems and that it can help them too.  Because I am shy, I find great comfort in sharing my feelings about the gospel online and am an active LDS blogger.  I also use modern technology like Facebook and Twitter to share my life.  The gospel comes up in the natural course of sharing things online and results in online dialogs in non-threatening and informative way.

12. How does making right choices help us make more right choices?

When we choose the right even when it is hard to do, we strengthen our character and develop integrity.  Deciding to do the right thing one time makes it easier to do the right thing the next time.  Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the added advantage of the gift of the Holy Ghost.  This gift helps us understand what the right thing to do is in difficult situations.  When we decide to follow the impressions of the Holy Ghost in making life’s choices, we show God that we value and appreciate this gift.  The impressions of the spirit will then become stronger or easier to recognize and we can grow in always making right choices.  Of course, being mortal, we will all make mistakes.  The Holy Ghost can also help us repent and make better choices in the future.

13. In what ways have your prayers been answered?

There are so many countless examples over the years that it is hard to share just one or two.  Perhaps the most dramatic for me was on the day that I proposed to my wife.  After I returned home from my mission, I had been praying for quite some time to find a woman who believed as I did and with whom I could be happy.  I was dating my wife’s best friend but the chemistry was just not there.  One day my wife invited me to a ball game and I told her about my troubles getting her friend to like me.  I could see that her feelings were hurt. The next day I visited her in her home and had a long conversation about life and marriage and family.  I had some very powerful spiritual feelings as I was talking to her that I knew were an answer to my prayers.  I proposed on the spot and we were married a few months later.  The Lord helped me with one of the most important decisions of my life.

14. What are you doing to help strengthen your family and make it successful?

My role in the family is to provide security and stability – both financial and spiritual.  I enjoy my responsibility to work and earn the money that we need to have a home, food, clothing and other necessities of life.  But more importantly, I enjoy my responsibility to provide spiritual direction for my family.  We are strengthened by attending church together, by praying and reading the scriptures together and by pursuing worthwhile family goals.  For example, my wife and I take classes at the local community college in the evenings in an effort to improve ourselves and keep our minds active.  We are strengthened as we work together as a family to accomplish good things with our lives and to provide service in our church and our community.  The gospel of Jesus Christ helps us in this endeavor.

15. How has your knowledge of the Plan of Happiness changed/benefited your life?

Sometimes this life can be a drag on the spirit because of all the disappointments and setbacks that come as a natural part of living in this world.  Understanding the Plan of Happiness helps me to realize that such setbacks are temporary.  I remain convinced that the Lord is very involved in my life and wants to help me through my journey until I am ready to return to his presence in the life to come.  Knowing that I lived before I came to this world to experience mortality helps me to have a bigger picture of things.  Knowing that I will live in the world to come and that I will someday be resurrected with a glorious and eternal body give me hope that goes beyond the drudgery and dullness that this life can sometimes be.  The Plan of Happiness is just that – a plan for me to find and achieve happiness through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance and enduring to the end of mortality true to what I know.

16. What is hope and what do you hope for?

Hope is the belief and conviction that there is purpose and meaning to this life.  Hope is the understanding that even though we pass through trials and troubles, we can have the assurance that our experiences are for our good and will cause us to grow.  I hope for a glorious resurrection.  I know that this is dependant upon my personal righteousness and my works of faith in this life.  Yes, the resurrection is a free gift to all men, but we believe that the quality of our lives in the hereafter is very much dependant on our actions here.  This life is a time of testing and proving and we can hope that our efforts in struggling against opposition in this world will be rewarded by a just and merciful God who wants to bless and help us through it.

17. How has the Book of Mormon helped you understand the purpose of life?

In the Book of Mormon we read that “men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).  I can’t think of any more concise and explicit scriptural reference that helps us understand the purpose of life.  Of course, the Book of Mormon provides a lot more insight into how we go about finding that joy and even helps us to understand what true joy is.  One of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon is the prophet Lehi’s dream about the Tree of Life (1 Nephi 8).  In his dream he partakes of the fruit of the tree which is desirable to make one happy and is sweet above all that he had ever before tasted.  Eating of the fruit fills our soul with exceedingly great joy.  The fruit of course is the love of God and we obtain it by holding fast to the Word of God that is represented by the Rod of Iron in Lehi’s dream.  What a great story!

18. How has the Holy Ghost helped you?

I consider the Gift of the Holy Ghost one of the greatest blessings in my life.  There have been so many instances in which I have been helped by the Holy Ghost that it is hard to imagine getting through this life without this wonderful gift.  The Holy Ghost inspires me and encourages me to do things that are hard to do but that result in happiness for me and for others in my life.  The Holy Ghost has warned me of danger many times, prompting me to stay away from certain things and places.  The Holy Ghost has helped me by prompting me to a certain course of action that I otherwise might not have considered.  The Holy Ghost has been my constant companion in my work, helping me to remember things that, if forgotten, could have been the cause of much distress or pain.  The Holy Ghost has comforted me in times of sorrow and distress, helping me to feel the love of my Heavenly Father and my Savior even when I do not feel worthy of their love.

19. What blessings have come through your faith in Jesus Christ?

It is because of my faith in Jesus Christ that I am able to get through some of the more difficult aspects of my life.  For example, it is hard for me to do things in a public setting.  But I have been taught and believe that it will be for my good.  The Lord has promised me through the scriptures that he will help me through these difficult circumstances as I exercise faith in him.  And like everyone in this world, I am no stranger to making mistakes and poor choices, even when I know better.  It is through my faith in Jesus Christ that I put into practice one of my favorite little sayings that helps me keep going: “Success is not in never falling, but in getting up each and every time we fall.”  I know that I can be a better person than my fallen human nature would dictate, and it is through faith in Jesus Christ that I am willing to make greater effort each day to be the man that I know he would have me be.

20. How can we develop greater harmony in our homes?

One of the best ways I know of to live in harmony as a family is to do all within our power to avoid criticism, cutting remarks or any attempt to make another family member feel less than loved.  We do this by sharing the same ideals and goals – to seek happiness in living the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Where some family members may not have fully accepted the vision of the gospel, we can provide an example of tolerance and patience with them, just as our Heavenly Father and our Savior do with us.  Fighting, arguing, bickering and contemptuous behavior toward any family member is not the way to have peace and harmony in our homes.  Thus, we pray each day that such undesirable activities are mitigated by expressing love and kindness in all that we do.  We are each at differing levels of maturity in our understanding of this concept, so it is up to those who do, to live it better each day.

21. Can you think of a specific challenge in your family that Gospel Principles helped overcome?

Like most families, we have experienced our share of challenges that have tested our faith and caused us to lean deeply on our understanding of the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ to overcome.  For example, my wife and I have both lost parents to death, have had our share of serious health problems, including cancer, and have suffered through multiple seasons of financial stress due to unexpected unemployment.  In addition, we have been pained as not all family members have accepted our faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  But it is because of the teachings of Christ that we are encouraged to be patient, that we are comforted when discouraged, that we are inspired when distressed and that we are given strength when we feel weak.  We go on and we press forward, believing that it will all work out for our good, either in this life or in the life to come.  We meet those challenges with strength knowing that we are not alone and that God has promised to help us through them if we will but exercise our faith in Jesus Christ and remain true and faithful to him.

22. How can your talents and gifts bless others?

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that God gives gifts to each member for the purpose of blessing and supporting each other in this life.  Some of those gifts and talents are more obvious, such as singing, musical ability, acting, performing or even a talent to be able to speak with confidence in front of the congregation (trust me, not all members have this talent).  But the scriptures teach that God gives some gift or talent to every member.  Perhaps one is blessed with the ability to be a good listener, another to share heart-felt testimony of how they know the church to be true, others with the gift of teaching children or even just the talent of being able to live peacefully among their neighbors.  When we share our talents and gifts with others, God blesses us and we are “magnified” or made more effective so that others can receive the same benefits that we enjoy.

23. Think about your everyday activities. What are things you act upon each day where you cannot see the end results? How does faith move you to action?

A very simple everyday activity for me that is an act of faith is prayer.  I have never seen an angel or heard a voice in response to my prayers, but I continue to pray each day, believing that God does hear and answer my prayers.  And indeed he has – by sending the comforting feelings of the Holy Ghost to bless and confirm to me that he loves me and wants me to know the truth for myself.  My faith in God and my trust in the words of his prophets as found in the scriptures causes me to continue to pray both as an individual, with my family, in my congregation and in the homes of other members of the church that I visit.  The end results of my prayers are not always evident right way but are just as certain as if I had seen the effects at the time of the prayer.  I am confident; yes I can say that I know, that God hears and answers our prayers that are offered in faith and with real intent.

24. How has the Book of Mormon brought you closer to God?

I first read the Book of Mormon when I was very young – probably 5 or 6 years old.  I read it out loud with my mother, who was a schoolteacher.  Our family had recently joined the Mormon Church so this was also my mother’s first time reading the Book of Mormon.  I remember the special feelings I had as we read it together.  I felt a warm and comforting spirit as I read. I have read the Book of Mormon many times in the many years since I first read it.  In fact, there is not a year that goes by in which we do not read from it either individually or as a family.  No matter how many times we read the same passages, we always seem to learn something new or have our faith in the truthfulness of the book reaffirmed.  The same warm feelings always return. But it is by following the principles of the gospel that are written in the Book of Mormon that we draw closer to God.  It is in the pages of the Book of Mormon that we learn more about the purpose of life and God’s plan of happiness for us.  The Book of Mormon teaches us to study things out and to pray about them that we may know of their truthfulness for ourselves.

25. Can you talk about the missions of the Church and your participation in them?

Up until recently, we as members of church recited the mission of the church as follows: to preach the gospel, redeem the dead and to perfect the saints.  Within the past year, a fourth mission has been added: to care for the poor and the needy.  We now call these four areas of focus simply the purposes of the church.  In my life, I have participated in each of these areas by serving a mission and continuing to share the gospel, by doing family history or genealogy work and by magnifying my callings to serve in the church as a teacher, leader or whatever I’m asked to do.  I’m grateful to be able to assist in caring for the poor and the needy by contributing money to the fast offering funds of the church and by volunteering to serve food at the local homeless shelter on a regular basis.  These missions or purposes of the church help me as an individual member focus on what is really important to our Heavenly Father – to save his children, both temporally and spiritually.

A tribute to a great dad


Dad suffered a stroke today. He is 86 years old. Mother died a few years back but Dad is not alone. My brother moved in with him last year and was there to call the paramedics and get him to the hospital. From what we can tell, the stroke is not that bad but will require some therapy to regain the use of his right side. Luckily his speech and reasoning were not affected.

I have been meaning to write about my dad for a long time. I wrote about my mother in a previous essay and alluded to my dad when I wrote about my own marriage. Dad deserves a tribute and I promised him I would write when I visited him a couple of weeks ago. Time has a way of getting in the way of good intentions but I am more motivated with dad’s stroke today.

I hope you will forgive this personal indulgence but this is after all my blog, and although I write in a manner that I hope will be applicable to a wide audience, I also write to leave something for my own posterity. Will blogs on Blogger be semi-permanent for many years to come? I hope so. Will the world change to the point that someday our electronic archive is severed? I hope not.

A child of the great depression

My dad was born in 1922 in Cordell Oklahoma, about eighty miles west of Oklahoma City. That means he grew up and spent his childhood on the farm during the great depression. There were ten children in Dad’s family and he was fourth oldest. There are only four still alive as I write this. Dad is one of the last of the generation that fought in World War II along with his brothers.

Being part of a family of poor farmers, dad picked cotton from the time he was six years old. All the children in those days worked on the farm from the time they were little. It was a necessity. Even though he had to work to help the family earn a living he also went to school in town and stuck with it through high school and on to business school. But then World War II came along.

There’s just something about the generation that grew up during the depression and the war that made them especially hard workers who are frugal with their money. Dad was no exception. He worked hard all his life, at least six and many times seven days a week. He was a meat cutter by trade, having learned it on the farm and in the Navy. But he always ended up managing others.

Service in the military

Pearl Harbor was in December of 1941. Dad joined the Navy the next year when he was twenty years old. There was a need for dad’s skills so he didn’t even go to basic training. He was sent to the Naval Air Station in Norman Oklahoma where he met my mother, who was 15 at the time. She was doing the patriotic thing by working on the air base which was very close to her home.

Dad served in Southern California in various Naval Air stations, where he fell in love with the beautiful weather here in Ventura County where I now live. He was stationed at Port Hueneme, which is right down the road from me. In early 1945, as a Petty Officer First Class, he and a thousand other sailors shipped out for Okinawa, although they didn’t know that at the time.

At the age of 23, dad was promoted to the rank of Chief Petty Officer, one of the youngest in the Navy at the time. He was placed in charge of setting up and running the galley operations for the entire island of Okinawa after it was secured. In October of 1945, Dad suffered a war injury when typhoon “Louise” caused a 500 gallon water tank to fall on him, crushing his right leg.

A man of responsibility

Personnel casualties were 36 killed, 47 missing, and 100 seriously injured, dad being one of them. Almost all the food, medical supplies and other stores were destroyed, over 80% of all housing and buildings knocked down, and all the military installations on the island were temporarily out of action. Over 60 planes were damaged as well, though most were repairable.

If the war had not ended on 2 September, this damage would likely have seriously impacted the planned invasion of Japan. After helping to repair all the food distribution facilities, Dad was sent to Manila and Japan to set up the galley operations there. He stayed until May of 1946 when he was sent home. He immediately went to Norman Oklahoma to convince mother to marry him.

When he called and said, “This is Jim,” she said, “Jim who?” She had been dating someone else named Jim that she didn’t particularly care for. Dad started courting her then. He says he thinks she was attracted by the white Navy Chief’s uniform. Mother asked Dad, “When are we going to get married?” and Dad said, “Whenever you want to.” Dad was 24 and mother was just 18.

The move to California

They married on 10 August 1946 in Texarkana Arkansas on the way to Dad’s next duty station in Texas. He was soon discharged and began a career as a meat cutter for many Safeway Stores throughout Oklahoma, where five of my brothers and sisters were born. Invariably, Dad would be promoted to manage his department. All the while, dad was active in the Naval Reserves.

In 1955, my Uncle Jessie called dad and told him he could buy a new house in California for $10,000. He was making $25 or $35 a week in Oklahoma and could make $75 a week in California with union wages. He came and interviewed and got the job on a handshake. With that they packed up and moved to California where my sister and I soon joined the family.

Dad stayed active in the Naval Reserve over the years and was able to retire with a full pension and benefits after forty years of service. He would take his two weeks of vacation every year to go on naval cruises, always in charge of the galley, or serve on various naval bases. Sometimes he would serve in San Francisco, other times in San Diego and once as far away as Louisiana.

Joining the LDS Church

In the fall of 1961, my mother was introduced to the LDS Church while teaching public school in the Glendora California School District. You can read more of her conversion story in the essay of her life that I wrote previously. They were taught the lessons and committed to baptism the first week of January 1962. Dad had to make a couple of major changes at this time in his life.

Dad usually worked seven days a week. He also smoked cigars and had done so since he had joined the Navy twenty years previously. He gave that up overnight and made every effort to now work only six days a week so he could attend church with his family. He didn’t always make it but was always supportive of mother in her efforts to live the gospel in our home.

We were all sealed as a family in the Los Angeles temple in 1963. Although I was only six years old, I remember somebody who was not a member of our family joining us around the altar to be a proxy for my brother who had died shortly after childbirth. I have been to the temple perhaps thousands of times since then, but still have a vivid recollection of this sacred and special event.

A loving and kind father

I don’t think I remember dad ever raising his voice in anger at us children. He was kind and patient and loved each of us. He was a happy man and worked hard all the while I was growing up. He enjoyed time with his family when we went on vacations together or to the park or the beach. He was satisfied with life and accomplished something great in providing for his family.

Dad wasn’t a leader in spiritual things in that he didn’t study the gospel or teach it to his family. It was mother who would lead out in prayer and scripture study, or at least that’s the way I have remembered it. Dad provided stability and security for our family and although I know I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I realize it now. That stability was a real strength to me growing up.

His daughters adore him. I honor and respect him. My dad is a great man in my estimation. He did what the Lord sent him here to do and fulfilled his purpose in life in just being a great dad. He adored my mother and treated her like a queen. I know she loved him as she told me so many times. He didn’t mind sacrifice and was always giving of himself to bless and benefit others.

Summary and conclusion

Dad was not one to say much. He was quiet but loved to read. He also loved to serve others. He was happiest when he was cooking a dinner for hundreds or even thousands, as he often did throughout his life. He was the friendliest meat cutter in town and loved to serve his customers, who he knew by name. He was a fair boss and always earned the respect of his employees.

While not overly spiritual, he is spiritually sensitive. With mother, he performed thousands of proxy ordinances in the temples over the years. That constant exposure to the heavenly element made him sensitive to impressions from the spirit world. He has shared with me several sacred accounts of spiritual visits that he has received over the years. And dad always told the truth.

I love my dad. I hope he can stay in mortality as long as he feels the Lord needs him to be here. But I know he misses my mother. He has related that she has visited him several times. There is just something sacred about the bond of a man and woman sealed to each other in the temple who love and served one another all their lives. Dad, I salute you as a great man, patriot and father.

Update: Dad passed away on 18 February 2009 just a month before his 87th birthday.

A tribute to a great dad


Dad suffered a stroke today. He is 86 years old. Mother died a few years back but Dad is not alone. My brother moved in with him last year and was there to call the paramedics and get him to the hospital. From what we can tell, the stroke is not that bad but will require some therapy to regain the use of his right side. Luckily his speech and reasoning were not affected.

I have been meaning to write about my dad for a long time. I wrote about my mother in a previous essay and alluded to my dad when I wrote about my own marriage. Dad deserves a tribute and I promised him I would write when I visited him a couple of weeks ago. Time has a way of getting in the way of good intentions but I am more motivated with dad’s stroke today.

I hope you will forgive this personal indulgence but this is after all my blog, and although I write in a manner that I hope will be applicable to a wide audience, I also write to leave something for my own posterity. Will blogs on Blogger be semi-permanent for many years to come? I hope so. Will the world change to the point that someday our electronic archive is severed? I hope not.

A child of the great depression

My dad was born in 1922 in Cordell Oklahoma, about eighty miles west of Oklahoma City. That means he grew up and spent his childhood on the farm during the great depression. There were ten children in Dad’s family and he was fourth oldest. There are only four still alive as I write this. Dad is one of the last of the generation that fought in World War II along with his brothers.

Being part of a family of poor farmers, dad picked cotton from the time he was six years old. All the children in those days worked on the farm from the time they were little. It was a necessity. Even though he had to work to help the family earn a living he also went to school in town and stuck with it through high school and on to business school. But then World War II came along.

There’s just something about the generation that grew up during the depression and the war that made them especially hard workers who are frugal with their money. Dad was no exception. He worked hard all his life, at least six and many times seven days a week. He was a meat cutter by trade, having learned it on the farm and in the Navy. But he always ended up managing others.

Service in the military

Pearl Harbor was in December of 1941. Dad joined the Navy the next year when he was twenty years old. There was a need for dad’s skills so he didn’t even go to basic training. He was sent to the Naval Air Station in Norman Oklahoma where he met my mother, who was 15 at the time. She was doing the patriotic thing by working on the air base which was very close to her home.

Dad served in Southern California in various Naval Air stations, where he fell in love with the beautiful weather here in Ventura County where I now live. He was stationed at Port Hueneme, which is right down the road from me. In early 1945, as a Petty Officer First Class, he and a thousand other sailors shipped out for Okinawa, although they didn’t know that at the time.

At the age of 23, dad was promoted to the rank of Chief Petty Officer, one of the youngest in the Navy at the time. He was placed in charge of setting up and running the galley operations for the entire island of Okinawa after it was secured. In October of 1945, Dad suffered a war injury when typhoon “Louise” caused a 500 gallon water tank to fall on him, crushing his right leg.

A man of responsibility

Personnel casualties were 36 killed, 47 missing, and 100 seriously injured, dad being one of them. Almost all the food, medical supplies and other stores were destroyed, over 80% of all housing and buildings knocked down, and all the military installations on the island were temporarily out of action. Over 60 planes were damaged as well, though most were repairable.

If the war had not ended on 2 September, this damage would likely have seriously impacted the planned invasion of Japan. After helping to repair all the food distribution facilities, Dad was sent to Manila and Japan to set up the galley operations there. He stayed until May of 1946 when he was sent home. He immediately went to Norman Oklahoma to convince mother to marry him.

When he called and said, “This is Jim,” she said, “Jim who?” She had been dating someone else named Jim that she didn’t particularly care for. Dad started courting her then. He says he thinks she was attracted by the white Navy Chief’s uniform. Mother asked Dad, “When are we going to get married?” and Dad said, “Whenever you want to.” Dad was 24 and mother was just 18.

The move to California

They married on 10 August 1946 in Texarkana Arkansas on the way to Dad’s next duty station in Texas. He was soon discharged and began a career as a meat cutter for many Safeway Stores throughout Oklahoma, where five of my brothers and sisters were born. Invariably, Dad would be promoted to manage his department. All the while, dad was active in the Naval Reserves.

In 1955, my Uncle Jessie called dad and told him he could buy a new house in California for $10,000. He was making $25 or $35 a week in Oklahoma and could make $75 a week in California with union wages. He came and interviewed and got the job on a handshake. With that they packed up and moved to California where my sister and I soon joined the family.

Dad stayed active in the Naval Reserve over the years and was able to retire with a full pension and benefits after forty years of service. He would take his two weeks of vacation every year to go on naval cruises, always in charge of the galley, or serve on various naval bases. Sometimes he would serve in San Francisco, other times in San Diego and once as far away as Louisiana.

Joining the LDS Church

In the fall of 1961, my mother was introduced to the LDS Church while teaching public school in the Glendora California School District. You can read more of her conversion story in the essay of her life that I wrote previously. They were taught the lessons and committed to baptism the first week of January 1962. Dad had to make a couple of major changes at this time in his life.

Dad usually worked seven days a week. He also smoked cigars and had done so since he had joined the Navy twenty years previously. He gave that up overnight and made every effort to now work only six days a week so he could attend church with his family. He didn’t always make it but was always supportive of mother in her efforts to live the gospel in our home.

We were all sealed as a family in the Los Angeles temple in 1963. Although I was only six years old, I remember somebody who was not a member of our family joining us around the altar to be a proxy for my brother who had died shortly after childbirth. I have been to the temple perhaps thousands of times since then, but still have a vivid recollection of this sacred and special event.

A loving and kind father

I don’t think I remember dad ever raising his voice in anger at us children. He was kind and patient and loved each of us. He was a happy man and worked hard all the while I was growing up. He enjoyed time with his family when we went on vacations together or to the park or the beach. He was satisfied with life and accomplished something great in providing for his family.

Dad wasn’t a leader in spiritual things in that he didn’t study the gospel or teach it to his family. It was mother who would lead out in prayer and scripture study, or at least that’s the way I have remembered it. Dad provided stability and security for our family and although I know I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I realize it now. That stability was a real strength to me growing up.

His daughters adore him. I honor and respect him. My dad is a great man in my estimation. He did what the Lord sent him here to do and fulfilled his purpose in life in just being a great dad. He adored my mother and treated her like a queen. I know she loved him as she told me so many times. He didn’t mind sacrifice and was always giving of himself to bless and benefit others.

Summary and conclusion

Dad was not one to say much. He was quiet but loved to read. He also loved to serve others. He was happiest when he was cooking a dinner for hundreds or even thousands, as he often did throughout his life. He was the friendliest meat cutter in town and loved to serve his customers, who he knew by name. He was a fair boss and always earned the respect of his employees.

While not overly spiritual, he is spiritually sensitive. With mother, he performed thousands of proxy ordinances in the temples over the years. That constant exposure to the heavenly element made him sensitive to impressions from the spirit world. He has shared with me several sacred accounts of spiritual visits that he has received over the years. And dad always told the truth.

I love my dad. I hope he can stay in mortality as long as he feels the Lord needs him to be here. But I know he misses my mother. He has related that she has visited him several times. There is just something sacred about the bond of a man and woman sealed to each other in the temple who love and served one another all their lives. Dad, I salute you as a great man, patriot and father.

Update: Dad passed away on 18 February 2009 just a month before his 87th birthday.

%d bloggers like this: