I Fall In Love All Over Again!

TheDiscipleMD

When I married my wife she knew of my passion for sports, in particular, Baseball. Not only had I been playing it since I could walk but I passionately followed it and was an avid fan of the New York Yankees.  She however, had no knowledge of the game or for that matter, any interest in its past history.

And so it was that the summer we married ended up being one of the most memorable in the history of the franchise and certainly one that went down in the history of the game. In the summer of 1978 the Yankees made one of the greatest comebacks in history and ended up tying the Boston Red Sox’s for the division at season’s end. A one game playoff in Boston would determine the winner of the division. I was crestfallen when I found out that I had to work at the same time the game was being televised.

In the middle of my shift at work my boss came in to tell me my wife was on the phone. When I picked up the phone I heard my wife’s excited voice blurt out, “Bucky Dent just hit a three run home run and the Yankees are winning.”  I smiled, asked her what inning it was and thanked her for the call.  When I hung up the phone I remember stopping and thinking, “What a woman!”  Why? Because I knew it meant absolutely nothing to her, but she was watching the game on TV so she could tell me about it.  As silly as it sounds, for me at the time,  that call brought to mind a self-revised scripture found in the fifteen chapter of John.

“Greater love hath no wife than this, that a woman watch a game for her husband.”

Small gestures of sacrifice and kindness go a long way in making a successful marriage. It has now been over 45 years since I heard her voice over the telephone telling me about Bucky Dent. I can still feel the excitement in her voice and the joy in her tone as she delivered to me the good news.

Now, all these years later, when they replay that historic Home Run on TV,  and I watch Bucky run the bases, he never makes it home in my mind.  As he circles the bases, somewhere between second and third, he transforms into my girl, and I see her face, and I hear her voice, and a smile comes to my face because, once again, I feel her electricity in the air! And I fall in love all over again with the girl that I chose to marry!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE ‘ULTIMATE WOMAN!’

The Worth Of A Single Strawberry

TheDiscipleMD

The stairs to her neighbor’s house seemed to go on forever for the little girl. And although her Dad was holding her tiny six-year old hand, the ascent up those numberless stairs seemed so scary and forbidding. With her Father at her side, she reached up to ring the doorbell. She could barely hold the tears back as the front door swung open. There he stood, Mr. Hoffmaster. He seemed to fill the entire doorway. If only, the little girl thought. If only I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t be standing here. Her mind raced back to the week before.

The Hoffmaster’s were her next door neighbors. They had been on vacation the week before. The little girl liked them. So what she had to confess that day to Mr. Hoffmaster was made even more difficult because they had always been so nice to her. She looked up at her Father and he nodded for her to proceed.

“While you were gone I…I ate a Strawberry out of your garden. I’m sorry.”

There, she said it. Her eyes started to fill with tears. Mr. Hoffmaster thanked her for being honest and accepted her apology. The little six year old felt such a burden lift as the door closed and she turned to go back home. Her father was still holding her hand as they walked. She looked up at him and was glad that he had encouraged her to tell what she had done. She felt good about herself. She felt good that she had confessed. But most of all, she felt good about her Dad.

My wife never forgot the lesson she learned that day from her father concerning right and wrong, consequences, and owning up for your actions. What is the worth of one single strawberry? That depends! For my wife, the lesson was incalculable; courtesy of a loving Father, who took the time to teach that stealing one strawberry is not about worth, but about values.

One Act Of Kindness Can Change The World For Someone We Know

TheDiscipleMd

In 1930 he had been born to a 16 year old unwed mother who would later marry 7 times in her life. His upbringing was one of poverty and uncertainty. In a nutshell, he lived a life none of us would wish on our worst enemy. To escape his pain he joined the army and spent several years in it’s service. Upon his discharge he had a meeting with a man that would forever change his life.

He was now 85 years old and confined to a wheelchair, but the tears that freely fell down his cheeks as he told his story, were as fresh as the day he first shed them. He had come home from the armed services with no real direction in life. He was called into his Bishop’s office and asked if he had a desire to serve a mission for the church. He secretly did. Hesitantly he revealed that he had no means by which to do so. The Bishop thought for a moment, then said, “What if I personally paid for you to go?”

Now here it was some 60 years later and the old man couldn’t help but cry when relating this story to a kind nurse who had asked about his life. By the kind act of his salvagar, the bishop, he had gone on a mission for the church,. There he met his future wife, who was also a fellow missionary. Later they both graduated from college, and ran a successful business. Together they raised a family of six children unto the Lord. Later he and his wife served as missionaries, once again, to the people of the Philippines.

A life, a family, a generation, the history of many, was changed that fateful day so long ago by one act of kindness.

This good Bishop had heeded the words of the Savior to ‘give to every man…and as ye would that man should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.“ (Luke 6:30-31)

All of us can perform small deeds that can salvage the souls of those in trouble, and alter history for generations to come. The Carpenter from Galilee proved that the power of one can bless the lives of many, indeed, it can change the direction of the world!

 

The Stagecoach Story: A Parable On Priesthood Leadership

TheDiscipleMD

Many years ago I found myself seated on the last row of pews for my 9am Sacrament Meeting. I was watching over and trying to control my four sons, the oldest of which was nine. My wife had just had our fifth child that week and was home for the day. It so happened that this particular Sunday was our ward conference. Since I was serving as the Ward Young Men’s President at the time, I had been required to be at early morning meetings. I had made the necessary arrangements for the boys to get to church so that I could be at them. As I sat in the pews during Sacrament Meeting,  I wondered how anyone could get anything out of a church meeting while watching four little boys. I found out later in life that it would be a common lament from young mothers in priesthood interviews that I held. On this particular Sunday I recall a talk being given on going to the temple by one of speakers. He admonished us to be temple “worshipers” not just temple “goers.” I remember thinking that at that time in my life my wife and I were lucky to just be temple “goers” let alone temple “junkies”!

In an earlier meeting that day,  I had the privilege of reporting about the young men’s program to the stake. In a private interview with my priesthood leader,  I was asked about each and every boy in the program. By the time I was through reporting I felt like a failure. I am sure the priesthood leader interviewing me didn’t mean for me to feel that way, but that’s how I felt after the interview. Prior to that day I had, in my mind, served faithfully in my calling. Our ward boundaries were very large and the distances between the homes of the young men were pretty daunting.  I had spent several years in that calling and had spent untold hours in attempting to run a functioning program.  After the three-hour meeting block, I met with another leader who was over the young men’s program for the stake. In that interview he began to question me regarding my call and wanted an accounting of each boy and what we were doing to reactive those that weren’t coming, what we were doing to bless the lives of those who were coming, and what I personally was doing to lead the young men’s presidency. Maybe it was just one of those days for me, but the longer the interview went on, the more discouraged I felt. The whole day of meetings seemed to scream out to me that I wasn’t good enough! That I wasn’t doing enough, and that I wasn’t faithful enough. In a moment of frustration, I blurted out:

“You know, you are like a stagecoach driver who is perched up on top with a whip. There are six horses in the harness. The closest two in the harness represent  less active members of the church. They have long since stopped living the principles of the gospel and are spiritually “dead”, but they are still in the harness. The two horses in the middle are those members who have become very comfortable with where they are in life. They trot along, but never run. Their hides have been so tanned from the whip that no matter how hard you hit them,  they no longer will respond to the sting and they will not run any faster. Then you have the two horses up front. They are frothing at the mouth, sweating profusely, and are running as fast as their legs can go. They are pulling the entire stagecoach. As the Stagecoach driver you know that whipping a dead horse is of no value, and whipping the tanned hides of the middle horses will also do no good. So what do you do? You continue to whip as hard as you can those front horses so that you can keep that stagecoach moving! Listen, sometimes you have to stop the stagecoach, get down from the perch, and give the front horses a drink of water, an apple to eat and some love!”

Perhaps I felt more comfortable saying this to my leader because he happened to be a friend. He looked at me and smiled. “Yea”, he said, “Sometimes I feel the same way!” Maybe it wasn’t the right thing for me to have said. But, I believe that sometimes the Lord inspires us to say things at unusual times. Later when I was called as a Bishop, I referred to this as “The Stagecoach Story.” I repeated it often. I diligently tried to remember how I felt that day and sought to always try to feed the lead horses of the ward instead of whipping them. Later on when I served in the presidency of my stake, I repeated this experience over and over ad nauseam in training meetings. I did so with the intent to teach the leaders that they needed to encourage members, not discourage them by chastisement. I repeated the message so often that after a while I stopped giving the message and just passed around a picture of a stagecoach being pulled by six horses with a stagecoach driver brandishing a whip at the perch. There were no written words on the picture, just the image as a reminder. Since leaders often change, I would then say with a smile, “If you don’t know what this means, ask the person next to you.” Somewhat humorously, one of the long-time leaders once said to me, “The other day I was walking the streets of the city on a windy day. A piece of paper blew up against my leg. I picked it up and it was one of your stagecoach pictures!” I laughed! He was jokingly telling me that so many of those pictures had been passed out over the years that the city was flooded with the image.

I often think of our General Conferences and how I feel when I leave those meetings. It is never discouraged! I always feel uplifted by their messages and that I want to do better. They inspire me to improve! I think it is the Lord’s way. Let us always remember that this is the Lord’s church we are building, not ours. We are all servants in the work. Let us be mindful of how we lead. Let us be patient, kind and benevolent in how we treat our fellow saints. Sometimes the Lord will have us at the “driver’s box,” but most often we will be a horse in the harness. When you’re pulling all that weight as a lead horse, it sure feels good when your leader stops the coach, comes down from the perch and gives you an apple and a cool drink of water.  All of us do better when we are treated to an apple instead of the sting of the whip!

 

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