In My Defense (I Love Being With Her!)


I have spent my entire lifetime in association with men and women of my church. Through the many years I have served with them I have rarely had negative interaction with them.   However, many years ago while serving as a young and inexperienced church leader I had a singular negative encounter with another leader who I had never met.  It was probably the ugliest experience I had ever had as a church member. I spent an hour on the phone at my office in what ended up being a heated exchange of words. During the course of that exchange, words were said by me and by him that were regrettable. The words of criticism of a personal nature by him shook me up. When I got off the phone, I laid my head down on my desk and cried. I was bothered all day by the outcome of our conversation. Upon arriving home from the office, my wife met me at the door and could tell that something was bothering me. She followed me upstairs to the bedroom.  I closed the door and sat on the bed. I could barely get the story out when tears started to flow down my cheeks. I babbled on about the phone call that I had received.  As I recited the story, I told her how our conversation became very personal. In other words, the criticism was directly of me.

As I sat on the bed telling my sad tale, she jumped up, grabbed the phone beside the bed and said, “Who is this man to say such things to you. He doesn’t even know you. He has no ideal what kind of man you are. I’m going to call him right now and tell him what I think!”. There she was, phone off the hook, looking to dial with fire in her eyes. It was so funny that I started to laugh. I told her to put the phone down, which she did. I will never forget how much love I felt, seeing her fiercely standing there in my defense!  It was so opposite of her personality to act that way.  I’m  sure she really wouldn’t have made that call.  But it was nice to know she thought so much of me that she would defend me so.

Every man should be blessed with a wife like mine.  Over the past forty plus years we have had our differences. Who hasn’t! She is passionate about things. So am I. But often as we are driving along she will look at me and tell me how great I am. And even though I know it’s not true, it’s nice to hear it. She’s definitely “My Best Friend.”There is no one I would rather spend time with than her.

As we have gotten older, I seem to spend more of my time trailing behind her in the malls. But, over the years I have also come to treasure the look on her face when she finds something she likes. Or, when something she tries on fits and she can tell that I like it. Or when she holds up some shoes and asks me what I think.  I didn’t used to like to do things like that when I was younger. In reality, I really don’t love it now, but I’ve learned to pretend.  Maybe that’s not right. But in my defense, I may not really love going shopping with her, but  what I do love, is being with her!

The Music Of Still Being Brethren In The Spoken Word


” And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying… behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla…Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently…And they had been teaching the word of God… yea, by the power of their words many were brought before the altar of God…” (Alma 17: 1-2, 4)

I felt like Alma several years ago when I visited with one of my favorite companion from my mission days, Lloyd Newell. I met and had dinner with his wife and four children. He has a lovely family! It had been over 30 years since he and I returned home from our full-time missions.  The missionary stories were flying, some true, some were embellished, still others I’m sure, were a figment of our imaginations. He brought out pictures of the mission. One he showed me was a professional photograph of he and I when we served together in the mission office. Such memories! It was a thing of great joy knowing that after several decades we both still held firm testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a reunion of two missionaries that had labored together those many years ago on the streets of Argentina. We talked, we laughed, and we spoke of our heartfelt feelings for the gospel till 2am. He spoke of his experiences working with the brethren through his calling with “Music and the Spoken Word”, which he has been doing for over twenty years. Most don’t know that it is a calling. I spoke of my service in ecclesiastical callings and the joy found therein. We both expressed concern for our families and the state of the world. We both agreed that the gospel is the answer to the problems that plague our society.

Upon leaving we walked together to my car and we told each other to keep in touch. As we walked I was struck by the passage of time. It seemed like yesterday that both he and I were traveling across Argentina together. We were both young and inexperienced, and also excited for the future. I think he would join me in saying that we have found that true happiness is found in obedience to the principles of the restored gospel. By abiding by its precepts family life is enhanced, marriage is improved, and your perspective on this life is enriched. A true fountain of blessings! I am not unique in the experience I had in meeting up with my old missionary companion. I am sure such glorious reunions go on all the time. There is something quite special about reunions that occur when those who had labored hard and long under the hot sun meet for a quite moment of repose. I know I felt that way when Lloyd and I met together that night. I am also confident that such reunions occur on the other side of the veil. The most glorious hopefully will be the moment when one can hear from the lips of the Savior, “Well done they good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25:21)

As I drove away and watched him disappear in my rearview mirror, I reflected upon how our lives had gone different directions, but down the same path. “Therefore they separated themselves one from another, and went forth among them, every man alone, according to the word and power of God which was given unto him.” (Alma 17:17) We had separated ourselves, but it was glorious for us to share after all these years,  the music of still being brethren in the spoken word!


Hope “On The Rocks”


As he downed his last drink, he thought he would somehow numb the pain of it all. But it didn’t, so he ordered again, “One more on the rocks!” he slurred. And he kept on drinking till he could drink no more and the next time he surfaced, was face up in the morgue.

Where do they go?
They come here
To drown in their sorrow and cry in their beer
They’re in need of a mindbender
I’m a bartender
At the end of the day
I’m all they’ve got
Hope on the rocks
(Toby Keith)

Hope; without it, we are all doomed to a life of misery. After all, without it, we can be overtaken by the demons of depression, sadness, and the thought of how rainy days will never end. Is it any wonder then, that some whose “hopes are on the rocks” drown themselves in alcohol and drugs as the darkness closes in.

Instead of searching for hope in liquids poured on ice, which never actually help those hopes materialize, it is so much better to search for the fulfillment of hope in the promises found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The proven results in the fulfillment of hope are found in the testimonies of millions of souls who have had their “hope on the rocks” renewed when they hold the hand of the Savior of the world.

Over twenty years ago Russel M. Nelson had this to say on hope:

“Have you noticed in the scriptures that hope seldom stands alone? Hope is often linked with faith. Hope and faith are commonly connected to charity. Why? Because hope is essential to faith; faith is essential to hope; faith and hope are essential to charity (see 1 Corinthians 13:13) They support one another like legs on a three-legged stool. All three relate to our Redeemer.” (“A More Excellent Hope”)

Just this past week he added regarding these uncertain times:

“Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ know us, love us and are watching over us. Of that we can be certain.” During these uncertain times,” he continued, “be comforted by this promise from the Savior. He said, ‘I the Lord am bound when you do what I say.’ I promise you that joy is always within the reach of everyone who will hear him and obey his laws.”

What a wonderful message for us all! Hope is lead by faith that good things are ahead. This hope and faith lead to action which is the genesis of change. This action is necessary for hope to become realized. When we lose hope, we lose the potential for action. And action is what propels change and fulfillment of hope.

I find that hope in Christ provides me with the faith that there is a plan for me and for my life, as well as a plan for this world. This hope, which on occasion is rocky for us all, can be stabilized by faith in the plan of salvation offered by Christ, providing me with the energy to act.

Hope will never be found “on the rocks!” Rather, hope can be found in the rock of salvation found in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

When You Come Home “A Better Man!”

Over the course of my lifetime I have spent many hours attending church meetings. Some have been productive, some not. Some I was taught things of beauty and some were less than thrilling. Some were entertaining, others boring. I know there are some people who say attending church and its auxiliary meetings are a waste. Or that my church meets way too often. And for leaders in a lay ministry, some say the demands are way too much. People should spend more time with their families is the chorus I hear most often. And of course, every person is in a different situation so it is hard to generalize any of the above statements and make them fit everyone. However, I think it is important to remember what someone gains by spending time in service to others.

Someone has to take the time to organize, plan, and implement service related activities. And someone has to spend the time in listening to others who are seeking help in a more personal way. And someone has to make decisions on how to administer welfare funds to needy individuals. And maybe a paid ministry is the answer. But…in my mind, pure service comes without payment. So I am happy that I belong to a church that requires service with no expectation of monetary reward. But no doubt, it can be taxing.

So after a lifetime of serving in my church, sometimes upwards of 40 hours in a addition to time spent to make a living; I have often reflexed on a simple statement that my wife uttered late one long ago Sunday Evening. I had got up and left at 5:30am and didn’t return to home till about 11pm that night. It had been a long day. I was spiritual, mentally, and emotional spent. I walked into our master bedroom and there was my wife, reading in bed. I started to undo my tie when she said, “I miss you so much when you are gone to your meetings…but when you come home, you are always a better man!” I think what she meant was that it was time well-spent. I mean, I wasn’t gone playing sports, or with friends doing whatever. She meant I was out trying to do godly work. And that work was having a positive impact on my life. Thus, I was becoming a better father, husband, and man.

So, thank you Honey, for recognizing the great benefit that comes to your husband when he serves. And that “when you are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17) Because you saw the bigger picture in knowing that I am a better man when I am serving others. And you are the most wonderful wife ever, for recognizing it; bringing it to my attention, and by making the greater sacrifice in supporting and encouraging me to be the kind of man I ought to be. And I will never forget seeing you there. Seeing your face; hearing your voice, and being thankful for an Angel I call my wife.

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