Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Healed Wounds

I was reading in the Book of Mormon today when I noticed something different than I had previously understood. It was an epiphany really and opened my eyes to another great message available to all of us upon examination of its text.

The part that stood out to me was from the story of Helaman’s stripling warriors. We have all read those passages and are inspired by these young mens' courage, success, and commitment. But what I noticed today jumped out when I read an excerpt I had considered previously many times—certainly you have too—but today it meant something different to me. This insight can be found in the following verse:

And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was anot one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds. 



None of the 2000 stripling warriors had perishedwe all know thatbut it also explicitly mentions that there was not one among them that had not received many wounds. And there were two hundred of them that had fainted because of the loss of blood. 

Then I realized this verse and story is analogous to our lives here on earth. We are struggling through a challenging battle against the adversary. There have been casualties among the brothers and sisters in our midst, but because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, none of our little band is lost. 

Though wounded and seemingly fallen, each of these children of God is revived and administered to so the purpose of this great battle is not lost. Instead, the adversarial forces are leveled and the victory has already been secured. 

We are in this war together. While men are free to choose the direction of their lives, none of us are alone. Our faithful brothers and sisters who are comrades in arms will not leave the wounded to be lost and forgotten. Together we lift and recover them, and they inspire and help us. All of us are broken and need succor from the Lord and His Atonement. And as we and our colleagues bear this message abroad and afar, we work together to bring in the wounded that we and they might be made better, stronger, and restored to health.

Whatever your wounds, the Savior has already fought and won the war to redeem you. The plan is a perfect solution to our shortcomings, failures, and weakness. Through Jesus Christ we are made successful, strong, and victorious. That is the plan.  

And the outcome is sure if we are willing to allow the Savior to do what he does best—save us.

Alma 57  

Monday, September 5, 2022

Audacious

Inclined Toward Melancholy is an interesting phrase  .. what does it even mean? Naturally, I Googled it to learn more. I found "a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause."

Not that one can rely on Google as an always reliable source for information, but at least I was willing to ask for guidance.

Responding to a sincere question about his beliefs, emeritus chief Judge Wallace answered sincerely in a way that could have been me. “I’m a Mormon,” he said, “a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” He paused for a moment and then continued: “And I’m a believing and faithful member of my church. I really believe it. I don’t just believe part of it or believe it some of the time. I believe all of it all of the time. It teaches me that we are all created in the image of God and that we are all His children. It teaches me that I have to love and show respect to everyone.”

This description is exactly how I feel. It put into words the feelings I have in my heart and is in agreement with the sum total of the lessons learned in my life. I appreciate these words because they simply and succinctly articulate in my mind how I would try to explain my beliefs.

Similarly, when Brett Scharffs addressed the students at BYU, he also reflects my sentiments spot on.


https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/brett-g-scharffs/audacious-faith-appreciating-unique-power-singular-appeal-lds-doctrine/

I told myself that when I shared this piece, I was going to be brief and succinct. As such I have not included the answer to the problem with evil, the appeal of religious freedom for all or gone on to explain further the audacious faith of the Gospel of Jesus Christ shared by the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have already said too much.

No. You will have to explore this on your own if you want to learn more about these things beginning with listening to the above video.

If you like, however, I am happy to help. Just ask.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Sweet Spot

One of my most exhilarating experiences is familiar and comfortable. Though not common, it is regular. I know you have experienced this as well. What you call it, however, may vary some.

 

Let me explain with an example. I love the thesaurus. That statement may not surprise you, since it was made by the author of this article. As a writer, I have come to love the thesaurus. Weird.

 

design dictionary iphoneWell, maybe. A thesaurus is an essential tool for me, at least. I use it every time I write. For example, let’s say I want to discuss the euphoria I feel when I begin composing prose. Euphoria? You might ask how anyone can feel that kind of emotion when writing is involved. I get it. Your memory of composition may include the final history test in which you were asked to draft a position on the significance of the year 1861 to the Civil War and clarify the multitude of idle rights then that nearly pulled this nation apart.

 

My point? I used the thesaurus at least a half-dozen times to compose that last paragraph, and it made my task of writing easier, better, and more delightful for both the writer (me) and the reader (you).

 

You may ask, “What does that have to do with anything?” My answer: Absolutely everything is influenced by our attitude when it comes to effectively handling situations. But what makes composition a life-changing experience is what occurs outside of one’s control. And this is not exclusive to the publication industry. It happens everywhere—all the time, rhetorically speaking—and yet I don’t think it can be forced.

 

Mathematicians feverishly try to find the answer that is right at their fingertips, and the brush of the artist flows like a hot knife through butter. Every touch, every stroke improves the outcome and the completed painting is providential. The batter that hits a home run with every swing may be another manifestation of this sweet spot. Some call it tender merciesdivine guidance, or pure knowledge. Others refer to it as in the mode or in the groove or perhaps luck…there are many ways to refer to this unlikely situation when everything just clicks.

 

During that moment, you can’t make a mistake. Every move is perfect. Every note is better than the last. You never want it to end. You are at the top of your game…then suddenly, it’s over. You try to get it back. You follow what you were doing all along, but despite your desire, motivation, and intensity, you are on your own and the fleeting ecstasy of that perfect harmony and rhythm is now gone.

 

I remember this happening once on the golf course. Now, I am an amateur golfer at best. My colleagues are all much better than me, and I am ok with that. But there was a time my son invited me to join him and his friends for a round of golf. My boy and I had never golfed together up to this point. I approached the green and tried to look like I knew exactly what I was doing. I didn’t. The last thing I wanted was to embarrass my son in front of all his friends, and since we had never golfed together, he had no idea what to expect. I put the ball on the tee and prepared by taking a couple practice swings. Okay, I’m ready. I step up to the tee to give it a go. My first drive was 400 yards. Nobody was more surprised than me, but I tried to look unimpressed.

 

“Dad! I had no idea you had that in you.” The euphoria lasted for maybe the first nine holes, but I wasn’t as extraordinary on the back nine. Still, for a moment, I was riding high and on Cloud 9.

 

Does that sound familiar? When this kind of thing happens to you, is it startling? As I said, one cannot force this to occur, but for me it happens regularly when I write. I first experienced this when I was in college. The instance was after an all-nighter trying to get a paper done. It was an “all-nighter” because the words were not coming together. I struggled to get my thoughts down on paper. Honestly, I struggled to collect my thoughts at all, and then it happened. I guess I had finally demonstrated enough effort because in the final moments before I had to get my paper completed and turned in, the light broke wide open and the paper came together seemingly on its own.

 

To me it is pure knowledge coming from above. Instead of composing verbiage by combining nouns, verbs, adjectives and the like, complete sentences fill my mind in succession and my task is to capture them as quickly as I can before they are gone. It may last ten minutes or an hour, but it is typically fleeting and comes and goes on its own terms. I don’t understand it completely yet, but my personal opinion is that at times, for reasons not entirely clear to us, we have heavenly help that increases our ability and makes us better than we could be on our own.

 

I have seen this happen for my son when he is composing music. From somewhere, he combines notes, tempo, and harmony in such a way that it thrills the heart and mind. The task is therapeutic for him as well. But when he performs in front of an audience, he is at his best. With a band and vocals, he is in his element. I will always remember the times we went to the Velour to watch him perform. I was probably the oldest person in the theater, but that was okay because he wanted me there, and that is exactly where my wife and I wanted to be.

 

For a period of time, we had the privilege of supporting my son on his music journey, and we still enjoy today the albums he produced at the time. But the ride is not over. It continues even now and is still happening in earnest. The stage and the music have changed, however. Now his performance is in his home with a family. His band includes two incredible little boys and a beautiful, loving wife. But the music they make together is better than anything he has ever produced before, which is really saying something. Even he doesn’t realize the amazing feat he is accomplishing. Realization and appreciation take time, perspective, and patience.


And those are some things one has in abundance at my age. For me, it is easy to see the paybacks of authenticity, esteem, discipline, and endurance. You see, I have the benefit of hindsight and experience, something dearly acquired yet easily overlooked. But you and I both will eventually have it in spades. We all will, because a kind and loving Heavenly Father prepared a plan that ensures success for every one of us that is willing to follow His lead and accept the reward He has already won for us and all those that humble themselves and endure to the end—all of us.

 

Like the rod of iron, our loved ones give us something worthwhile to hold onto every time we consider the beautiful family we have now and the importance of eternal families in the world to come. My grandsons do that for me every time I admire them.

 

arise walter badge

To read more of Walter’s articles, click here.

And if your family circumstances are not perfect and far beneath what you were hoping for now, realize that too is temporary and sometimes fleeting in this life—but exhilarating, comfortable, and familiar is what waits for you in the world to come. You are already headed in the right direction. Hope, repentance, faith, and success all start with desire. In this crazy world of ours, that is what we control.

 

Righteous desires put us on the path that leads to the happiness we are all seeking. Meanwhile, we can work toward an eternally happy family that seems to have it all together— and because of Jesus Christ, we can hope for the day when there are no more troubles and everything just clicks.

 

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.” – Joseph Smith

Friday, February 11, 2022

Unbelievable

Can it really be a year since I wrote in my last blog? Well, it may not seem like it, but when I check the stats, it has been more than a year since I published anything here. Unbelievable.

I have been writing elsewhere, but this venue has taken a hit since I have been busy with many other things. When I realized this, the hope is to rectify the problem before it continues too much longer.

A lot has changed over the last year for both good and bad. The pandemic continues to impact our activities. It's mostly a nuisance now and does not prevent most functions. Just have to be masked up!

The boys and I are planning a Monster truck rally next weekend. Everybody appears to be in. We just need to decide on the actual date. It turned out to be an evening none of us will ever forget. Ever!


This is one of my favorite pics, but I have a ton more And the memory warms my heart every day.

Let's itemize the learnings with this update:
  1. Documented histories are invaluable
  2. Way back machine makes backup copies .. https://archive.org/web/ 
  3. Wivios, FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, and many other vehicles
  4. Benefits of wivios
    1. living folks too
    2. all media types supported
    3. accessibility
    4. hover tips
    5. link to specific passages
    6. immediate value
    7. integrates with other genealogical websites
    8. free
  5. Connect with suppliers already providing personal histories and genealogical resources effectively

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Living a Miracle

I love messages of hope. Our hardships give us empathy for others and opportunities to show gratitude. Perhaps the greatest miracle of all is the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

Good examples

King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego worship the golden image he set up as a god, threatening, “If ye worship not, ye shall be cast … in to the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” Then he taunted them with “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” These three devout disciples said: “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. … But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods.” They possessed the full confidence in God that he could save them, “but if not” they had complete faith in His plan. We have the opportunity to show that kind of faith today as well. Though our circumstances may be vastly different, our response and faith can be identical.

This year and those preceding we have faced various challenges due to the pandemic, but our hope in Jesus Christ is much bigger than the obstacles and hardships of life—much bigger.
 
My father had a similar experience—in a way—where he was spared as a young man. I have always loved this story, which I asked him to tell me often when I was a boy. And he did. Dad was a master story-teller. I have many memories of experiences he shared which have helped guide my life. This miraculous experience comes from his journal and to me is further evidence of God’s love for us and the protection granted my father, so he could play a vital role of bringing to earth his children and teaching his posterity, who I believe will usher in the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thanks Dad for always being an example I can strive for:

There was an experience I had with Mother when I was seventeen. It was when she was working and would go to the merchandise markets in California, Chicago, or New York. The first time I went with her was when I was still in high school. I was out of school, so she invited me to go with her. She made a reservation for us at the LaSalle Hotel in Chicago. A check was sent and she got back a confirmation. She always had to make reservations early because so many people attended the markets that the hotels would fill up. We flew to Chicago and drove to the hotel by taxi. We went to the front desk, Mother gave her name and told them we had a reservation and wanted to check in. They told us they couldn’t find it. Mother told them, “That can’t be, because I sent my check and you sent me back a confirmation for a room with two beds.” They looked again but couldn’t find her reservation. In all the years, that never happened to her before or after. This time it was lost. Mother felt like they just had to make a place for us. But they told us they were completely filled up and didn’t have one room left. The sympathetic desk clerk told us she had a friend who owned some furnished apartments, and that she would probably have an empty one. She called her friend and made arrangements for us to stay there, so we did. In the middle of the night, we were awakened by lots of fire engines. They came across a bridge over a river and headed down the same street as we were on. We marveled at how many fire engines came one after the other. We wondered where the fire was. The next morning, the bold newspaper headlines told about how the LaSalle Hotel, where we were supposed to have stayed, had burned. Fifty-two people had died and two hundred were injured. This was one of quite a few times in my life, when the Lord spared me, and I am most grateful.

I have many memories of my father, which I have come to cherish. He was spared so he could share the love and hope in the Savior Jesus Christ with his family. And that he did. The hope and optimism that he frequently exhibited will always be a cherished memory. He passed more than ten years ago, and because of Jesus Christ, I know we will share experiences, happiness, and miracles with each other again. And that perhaps is the greatest miracle of all.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Like me

What? Celebrate Christmas during the pandemic? Hasn’t the coronavirus impacted enough of us already? That is the question.

On Friday December 4, the LightTheWorld calendar showed the following encouragement:

THE CHRIST CHILD
Jesus’s birth brought hope. Watch
The Christ Child, screenshot a
moment that gives you hope, and
share why on social media.

Now this was not an easy choice. There are so many wonderful possible selections one could make: Kneeling at the feet of the small boy. Three wise men offering their gifts. Kingdoms to come, Mankind to save, Worlds without number. How can one picture represent all of that?

So I thought carefully about this exhortation and came up with the following favorite pic. It appears right at the beginning of the video and is not probably the selection you chose. There are so many others: The star in the night. Mary riding the donkey for miles. No room in the inn. The birth of the Child. The shepherds visited by angels in the field. Kneeling before the Christ Child. With all this to choose from, how could I select a picture of a man beginning his work day in a field? It seems simple and unimportant, maybe even sacrilegious when compared to these other choices.
Well, I don’t see it that way, but that is a fair question and deserves a proper explanation. I speak for myself and in no way intend to diminish or look down on the wonderful images of that transcendent night and life-changing experience. In fact, that’s exactly why I love this picture so much. You see, I grew up on a farm and the things we often take for granted today have more meaning because I know what it’s like to do without them. And despite His enormous influence for good and providential mission in behalf of all mankind, He chose to come as a small infant in dire circumstances and live a humble, simple life on the land and work with his hands.

And He suffered challenges on earth so that he could understand my perspective and have empathy and compassion on me. ME!

The Son of the God of heaven and earth and everything that is in them came to earth as a helpless babe in a manger, and though angels testified of Him and stars shone brightly to witness of the birth, He became like me to lift and raise me in my miserable and wretched state. And He did all this for me.

My daughters are in that phase of their lives giving birth to their beautiful children. It is hard. It’s difficult. It is physically and emotionally painful, even to the point that they walk near the shadow of death, but they do it anyway. And my sons love and support their wives and are faithful fathers to their children despite many challenges of our day. And they all do this nonetheless with smiles on their faces and courage in their hearts despite the tremendous challenges.

Joseph cared for Mary and the baby Jesus without the foreknowledge of how it would all work out in the end. His faith carried him through insurmountable challenges.

The gospel of Jesus Christ provides peace and comfort, even joy right now.

What? Celebrate Christmas during the pandemic? Absolutely! We can celebrate the Son of God every day. Maybe that choice is hard, lonely, and has its challenges, but we can do it for Him, because He did all this for us.

There is no question that I will happily and grateful recognize this gift. It is my privilege and yours.

No question at all.

#painofchildbirth
#cryofthebabyjesus
#lighttheworld
#happinessnow
#josephlovedmary
#peaceonearth



Saturday, September 12, 2020

The most memorable Christmas on record

It is funny what things are cataloged as memorable in our minds. Most times, the occasions are not what you would expect all along, I suppose. But the unforgettable experiences rise to the top of our recollection. And so it is when I call to mind my most memorable Christmas.


We had big, extended family Christmas parties on my dad’s side of the family when I was a boy. He had three sisters and their families were large just like ours. That’s where I came to know and love my cousins. For the most part, I have great memories of the Christmas dinners and Santa Claus visits. We would get all dressed up for these activities. There were literally dozens of us at these family get-togethers. Though most of my cousins were considerably older than me, they were accepting and friendly and made me feel important and loved. I was a pretty small kid back then, but I always felt included and valued. Most my memories of these parties occurred at Margaret and Lynn’s (aunt and uncle on dad’s side). But I remember that one year we held the event out at the distribution center in south Salt Lake. That year, Kim, Jeff, and I dressed up like Alvin and the chipmunks and performed. These get-togethers have continued off-and-on throughout the years and still happen even today with an annual Stucki Cousins Family Reunion and family website. Santa Claus would make his appearance and distribute gifts to each of us children. I was young enough at the time it was all magical and mysterious. Somehow, I think I knew my Grandma Stucki was behind all of it. One year we did it at our house, and I was the ten-year-old jolly old man.


Mom and dad used to dress me up like Santa when I was a child to deliver the family Christmas gifts to our friends, as well. I’m not sure I really liked doing that, but my family was persuasive and our friends complimentary, so I couldn’t refuse.


Life had been hard for several years and the abundance we were accustomed to diminished some. But though some might say we were in dire straits, we never wanted for the essentials. I think mother and father handled the pressures so it didn’t trickle down to the younger children. Certainly, the other children knew the challenges we were facing, and I’m certain I was not oblivious to the need, but perhaps I did not comprehend the magnitude of our predicament. Castle Valley for us was a fresh start, and it happened to fulfill a life-long dream for my mother and what she and dad wanted for our family. So rather than a rash decision, the move was an answer to countless prayers and one of the great blessings in my life.


We had worked through the summer, and for a good part of that time lived in a tent, but after a while we built and moved into the bunkhouse. That was a lot better. It was down below where it was much cooler during the hot summer. We built a truck top kitchen and started a bathroom facility, so we were moving up in the world. I never thought of it as destitution. It was an amazing adventure and our choice. But when I think about it now, it’s nothing short of amazing that Mom and Dad and all the kids went for it. When school started we found ourselves still living in the bunkhouse. The fall brought cooler nights and eventually freezing temperatures. The cabin home was coming along, but it wasn’t going to be finished by Christmas. Yet as it was completed, the roof was installed, and we had our own shower for the first time in six months (which was wonderful), once we moved into the partially finished home.


We had always had so much for Christmas in years past, but this year was going to be different. Mom and Dad had been giving up everything to secure the farm, build a home, and pay for improvements. It left precious little for gifts. We knew that and had accepted the fact that there would be no Christmas presents this year. We already had so much anyway–perhaps not in worldly measures–but in love, family, good land, food, and the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mom and Dad sincerely appreciated the bounty the Lord had given us and taught us to recognize and thank the Lord for all our blessings.


One evening early in December we were sitting in the single heated section of the house, and there was a loud knock at the door. Before we could get up to answer it, a vehicle sped up the snow packed driveway and off into the night. When we did open the door, a large cardboard box sat on the porch. We pulled it inside and opened it. To our surprise, there were presents, and food, and canned hams, and much, much more. That year for Christmas we were the recipients of a sub-for-Santa project and because of others, we ate delicious foods, opened gifts, and thanked an unknown giver for presents we could not have purchased ourselves that year.


I remember that occasion with a good deal of emotion and still don’t know the benefactor. But that is not so unlike all of us that are recipients of gifts we don’t deserve and don’t really warrant on our own.


Everything we have been through, the memories bring back you.