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An ‘Electric’ Christmas

TheDiscipleMd

As I waited with my seven siblings on the steps of the unfinished basement I could hardly contain my anticipation. I was an eight year old boy, the seventh of eight children born to my parents. My eyes fixed on the doorknob waiting…waiting…waiting for it to turn and open up to the feast of presents that was certain to be there on the other side. It was early Christmas morning of 1964 and what personally awaited me was a lesson I learned that has stayed with me to this day.

The knob finally turned as my angelic Mother opened the door to heaven. We scrambled up the stairs racing for the tree situated at the end of the hardwood living room floor. It really was heaven! The room seemed to light up (in reality my Dad was filming with a set of blinding lights that were so typical of the sixties). As the other kids grabbed their stockings, I went straight to the tree looking for the shape of the prized present I so coveted! I was sure my parents would have placed it in a prominent place under the tree. Yet I couldn’t find it. My young heart skipped a beat as I didn’t see it. Perhaps I had just missed it I thought!

As was customary in my house, my Mom passed out the presents one by one till the giving tree was done! I stared at my gifts. There was plenty there, but I couldn’t imagine the coveted gift of my heart could be in one. I wanted to believe, but nothing seemed to match the size of the gift I knew would lift my entertainment life to new heights.

Beginning at the eldest, we began opening the presents, one by one. As I took my turn it became apparent that I was not going to get what I wanted. I didn’t want to cry and be a baby, but the lump developing in my throat was getting bigger by the moment! As the last of the gifts were opened I couldn’t help myself as I felt tears forming in the corners of my eyes. Just then my Mother made a statement, “Well,” she said, “I think there is one more gift that Santa left in the backroom.” As I turned I saw my father walking down the hall towards us and in his arms was the present I so coveted. I couldn’t hold my tears back because I was so relieved they had bought me what I wanted. It was an electric moment; one I have never forgotten.

But with plastic players that never went were you wanted them to go, to the ‘electric vibrational’ nature of the board, the magic of that game lasted about a week for me. The ‘Electric Football Game’ never lived up to the ‘hype.’ Like most of ‘die to have’ presents, my game ended up at the bottom of my closet gathering dust a short time later. A lesson I have learned so often over the years is that most material things end up on the heap of the throw out memories of our lives.

However, it has been over 50 years and I can still see my father walking down the hall towards me with that Electric Football game in arms. I remember the look on his face and the delight in my Mom’s voice when she joyously announced there was ‘one more’ gift. My Mom gave me a hug as my Dad handed me the game. I felt loved! The real gift of ‘love and caring’ given to me by my parents that year is still electrifying my soul and blessing my life. That’s a feeling that has never fallen short of scoring a ‘touchdown’ in the end zone of my heart!

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See Me!

TheDiscipleMD

(Based on a true story)
As he lay on his hospital death-bed, he watched as the Elders of the church passed him by. Somehow his religious affiliation has been left off his chart. As they administered and gave the sacred emblems of the Lord’s Sacrament to others around him, he wanted to cry out to not forget him. Never before had he felt such a desire to renew his covenants with God. His mind wandered back to the countless times he had eaten of the bread and drank of the water without much thought. It had become such a ‘rote’ thing in his life. But now, with death at the doorstep, the beauty and majesty of it’s meaning reached epic proportion till he felt his soul would burst with desire to partake. And now, as the Elders moved further and further away from his bed, his heart sank and he felt sorrow enter his soul.

As the Elders were about to leave his room he mustered up all his strength and weakly raised his hand up to catch their attention. But it was to no avail as the door slowly closed and they disappeared from view. He lay there for a moment as the tears formed in his eyes, but then, to his surprise, the door reopened and a lone holder of God’s priesthood entered back in. He must have forgotten something; yes, he had. He was headed over to pickup scriptures he had mistakenly left behind. Another chance, he silently exclaimed. Then, with the faith of Daniel, and with a prayer in his heart, he stretched forth his arm and extended his fingers. Please he cried in his heart, “See me!”

He headed towards the door with scriptures in hand, but something whispered to his soul, softly but with clarity, “See me!” The prompting stopped him in his tracks. “See me!” Once again came the soft sound that was carried by the spirit. The Elder turned and followed the light of the morning Sun as it cascaded across the hospital ward. The beam ended at the bedside of a man, who had his arm outstretched towards him. He felt the surge of the fire of God fill his soul as he headed towards him who was now seen!

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The Message On the ‘Other Side’ Of The Stone

TheDiscipleMD

Almost all headstones list the date of birth and death of the person, or persons, that lie beneath. As I recently visited the grave of my Mother, deceased, and my Father who is still living, I couldn’t help but take in the message they were sending to me, and my siblings, by the engraving found on the ‘other side’ of the stone. As a bride ‘adorneth herself with her jewels,’ (Isaiah 61:10) so too my Mother went to great lengths to let us kids know, that we were paramount in her life. As my Father has often told me, my Mom sought no other worldly recognition than that of being a mother. She enjoyed it to the fullest and us children were the beneficiaries of it.

What does it say to the world when on the ‘other side’ of the stone there is a list of the children? What does it say to the children of that family? As I knelt in the snow by her graveside last week on a wintry day, I couldn’t help but contemplate the simple, yet profound meaning ascribed to such an inscription. My parent’s gravestone is not unique. There are many stones with the children’s named etched that dot that cemetery, and others throughout the world. I have seen them, and the message sent is powerful and clear. It brought to my mind the words of the Savior found in Luke, chapter eleven.

“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

Knowing the powerful love that my parents have for me and my siblings makes it all the easier to understand the great love that God has for each one of His children. What is the message on ‘the other side of the stone?’ That day as I knelt there by her graveside, I didn’t need anyone to ‘spell it out for me,’ because it already was, and I was looking at it!

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Forgive, And Ye Shall Be Forgiven!

TheDisicpleMD

“Throughout Jack’s life, he and his father had many serious arguments. One day, when he was 17, they had a particularly violent one. Jack said to his father, “This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I’m leaving home, and I shall never return.” So saying, he went to the house and packed his bag. His mother begged him to stay; he was too angry to listen. He left her crying at the doorway.

Leaving the yard, he was about to pass through the gate when he heard his father call to him, “Jack, I know that a large share of the blame for your leaving rests with me. For this I am truly sorry. I want you to know that if you should ever wish to return home, you’ll always be welcome. And I’ll try to be a better father to you. I want you to know that I’ll always love you.”

Jack said nothing but went to the bus station and bought a ticket to a distant point. As he sat on the bus, watching the miles go by, he commenced to think about the words of his father. He began to realize how much love it had required for him to do what he had done. Dad had apologized. He had invited him back and left the words ringing in the summer air: “I love you.”

It was then that Jack realized that the next move was up to him. He knew the only way he could ever find peace with himself was to demonstrate to his father the same kind of maturity, goodness, and love that Dad had shown toward him. Jack got off the bus. He bought a return ticket and went back.

He arrived shortly after midnight, entered the house, turned on the light. There in the rocking chair sat his father, his head in his hands. As he looked up and saw Jack, he arose from the chair and they rushed into each other’s arms. Jack often said, “Those last years that I was home were among the happiest of my life.” (“Bring Him Home”, Thomas Monson, GC Oct., 2003)

Let us take the time, now, to repair bridges that have been damaged and feelings that have been trampled upon. Let us reach out to those who have offended us in hopes of reconciliation. May we remember the words of the Savior when he said: “…forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”     (Luke 6:37)

 

 

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