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Video of Fire

Part one: http://youtu.be/33ozEpkjLeo

Part two:http://youtu.be/y2NE6dB1zGw

Please turn down the audio if you view this as per the request of the good neighbor who filmed this.   My comments are in the blog prior to this posting of the youtube addresses.

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Diane’s Comments about the fire.

(Diane’s comments about the Fire on February 28th, 2013)

“Father Knows Best”

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, we live in a rural area of Utah. While living in the country has many wonderful advantages, access to fire hydrants is not one of them.

On February 28th, we lost our home to what started out as a small attic fire.  After listening to our description of the events, the official said that he was fairly certain it was a result of blown in insulation resting against the wood stove chimney flue.  No alarms were triggered because there was no smoke to warn us.

Bill usually rises between 5 and 6 to feed the animals and to horse around with the dog.  I, on the other hand, like to sleep late when I don’t have to work.  That morning he uncharacteristically came back to bed because he had not slept well.

At about 8:45, he jarred himself awake and said, “What’s that crackling sound?”  I was reading and reluctantly left off to follow him around looking for the source of the strange sound.  It seemed to be coming from above our walk-in closet, so we got a stepladder from the laundry room (all of this takes precious time, of course) and climbed up to push open the door to the crawl space.

Seeing it ablaze, Bill ran to the basement for the extinguisher while I called 911.  We had a pellet stove upstairs and a wood burning stove blazing away in the basement, but no smoke was seen in the basement at that time.

Seeing flames on our roof, our neighbor, Janet Thomas, rang and pounded on the door to alert us.  I was still in my robe, so I ran back to our (still smokeless) closet to grab some sweatpants.  But before I had time to dress myself completely, Bill began pushing me to leave. “Just get out of the house!” he was yelling.  Although I felt no real urgency, I reluctantly complied, asking him to grab my computer in the loft… “just in case.”  It has my most valuable possession, pictures of my babies.

I wandered across the lot to my son’s house, locked up the dogs to keep them out of the firemen’s way and started worrying about how much damage the water they used to put out the fire would do to our belongings.  By then, the Rush Valley volunteer fire department had arrived and was already dragging out the hoses and marching through the house.   I remember thinking they could at least shut the doors as they assessed the situation.

Bill and I had pulled our vehicles out of the garage, so I sat in the car for a while to watch.  There was a fierce wind, cold and icy, and though I had grabbed my coat, I soon gave up the vigil and went inside Bill and Teresa’s house to kill time and stay out of the way.

In a short while, Kevin Russell, a member of our ward and the Fire Chief in Rush Valley, came into Teresa’s kitchen to tell us that they were pretty sure they would be able to save the loft.  For some strange reason, I still could not generate any real concern.  I thought, “Well, that’s good.  We won’t lose our files.”

At some point, the fire trucks from the surrounding communities arrived, bringing more water. The doorbell at Teresa’s rang periodically and nearby neighbors who could get around the fire trucks blocking the road came in to lend emotional support.  We talked and laughed and retold the story of how the fire had been discovered. We nattered on about the two full freezers of meat being cooked if the fire made it’s way into the garage, (we had just butchered a steer,) the fact that I had just finished all the ironing that had piled up for the last 6 months, and how I wanted to repaint the kitchen anyway.

Soon, Kevin was back with an update.  They had lost the loft. He said that the floor had given way, and they were taking the crew out, but that they might still be able to save the kitchen.  At the other end of our “horseshoe” floor plan, it was difficult to comprehend how it had gotten so far!

For the first time, I understood that the fire had taken everything of real value.  The kitchen had nothing compared to what the fire had already consumed.

I walked outside to see the flames leaping over the gables and billowing out of the top of the loft.  A glass window on the garage side, facing me, was bowed out in a great bubble, ready to burst at any moment.  I knew for myself then that the whole house was gone.

I thought sadly of our contractor son, Bill, who had tried to make this home the house of our dreams.  When he had left for the airport that morning, it had been like any other morning. We might have waved to him as we began our daily routines of kicking the dogs out of the garage when we left or helping them get their kids off to school.

We watched the fire for the rest of the afternoon, until the firemen rolled up their hoses and pulled out, helpless to do anything themselves but watch it burn to the ground.  I thought of family dinners on Sundays and holidays, the hours of custom painting I did throughout, the Navajo rugs of my mother’s, the un-recovered photos and documents.

But I did not shed one tear.

It is almost a month ago since the fire took everything we own, but I still have not wept for anything lost.  I’m not sure why.  Some say the grief will come later, but I hope not.  In the place of the “things” we lost, I have found things that I thought were missing.

I have seen my children give us a mature selfless love that I had not really experienced before.

I have renewed the relationship with my sister who has shown to be a great friend and ally.  That alone makes the losses worth it.

I discovered that my friends in Rush Valley and the vicinity nearby are really an extended family.

And I have discovered old friends who never forgot me.  (I am crying now as I write this because it is absolutely true.)

Thank you for helping me through this, family, friends and even strangers.  I have learned some lessons that I could not have learned any other way.  And though it might sound strange… (I believe that we are really only on this planet for a few minutes when we compare it to the eternity to come) I actually thank Heavenly Father for the experiences of the past month.

I think He does know best.

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To Teach is to Learn Twice

To Teach is to Learn Twice.

  ~Joseph Joubert, Pensées, 1842

For the past three and a half weeks, I had the privilege of substitute teaching in a first grade class.

I prefer fourth and fifth graders when I fill in for an absentee teacher.  First graders have not yet mastered shoe-tying skills and have small bladders.  Every time some child-person (I hear that the term “kid” is derogatory) raises his or her hand to leave, you never know if they are simply trying to avoid sitting still for the directions or if they really need to tinkle.  It’s always a risk to ignore the request, but then, there’s always the possibility that if you let them leave, they may not find their way back.  (As a side note, I was informed by one of my charges on the first day that teachers are not allowed in the boy’s bathroom.   I grasp the legal ramifications of ignoring that gem of wisdom, but as a former mother, I am quite aware of the damage that even one little boy can do in a bathroom by himself, never mind three or four. )

But, I digress.

My grand-daughter, Claire and her first grade teacher.

As I said, I prefer older children…at least when it comes to teaching. You can have conversations that make sense.  You can usually tell when they are being untruthful, and when they lose their lunch money, you can give them lectures on being more responsible.  First graders are too young to expect much in the way of accountability.

So, when I knew that this particular teacher might be out for an extended time instead of the one or two days for which I usually proxy, I decided that I needed to  (as the warden in “Cool Hand Luke” says)  “Get my mind right.”   I thought about something I read in a Parents Magazine before my first child was born.  The writer suggested that a new mother should “fall in love with her child.”    The article went on to say that finding the unique personality of the child, the amazing opportunities for watching the baby grow and learn, express himself and develop a sense of humor, were wonders that would deepen the relationship that a mother and child would only share for a short time before the world would make its mark on the child’s life.    I guess that I was part of that outside world now, but I recognized the element of trust that I had been given.  I needed to treat them as respectfully as their loving parents.

And I fell in love with all of them.

Like a proud mother, I identified the eager beavers; those who knew the answers before you asked the question.  They hold their arms up, waving impatiently, accompanied by sound effects and disappointed looks when someone else is called on for the answer.   I experienced their social network that facilitated frequent desk moving and the crushes that were largely unwelcomed by the first grade boys.

And I saw the children who were gradually being left behind.

It isn’t anyone’s fault, but it still hurts.

I think that some children could just use another year or two at home for maturing.  However, the point is mute, unless the parent wants to home school.  Our particular system starts us all out together and the teacher has to figure out how to bring the slow starters up to speed.

The trouble is, it takes a while to get the remediation plan implemented, and every day that goes by is a strike on the child’s self image.  During the time that I was with this class, I found myself trying to look the other way when I knew that I had just given out some Greek version of English to these children.  I did not want to hold the rest of the class back, but I knew that someone (I couldn’t be everywhere) would have to give one on one time to some of these children who would not get what we were talking about any other way.

I took the frustration home with me every day… just as I am sure that most full time teachers do.  To do that job full time, I knew you would have to feel a personal connection, or you couldn’t be a very effective teacher.

Anyhow, by the end of the assignment, I was thinking about these lost boys and girls an awful lot.  I talked about them to my husband, invented ideas to keep them involved; I even dreamed about them.

Then on that last Saturday, a feeling of moroseness enveloped me.   I tried to shake it off in my usual manner of putting my shoulder into something physical and I went out into the yard and began pulling weeds.  (I don’t know why I bother.  After four years in this place, there are just as many as ever.  My grandmother used to say, “All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today.”  So are the weeds.)  Anyway, as I worked, I couldn’t keep my mind off of the kids…er, child persons.  I started thinking that surely no one could really know if they were making a difference.  How will they survive if their problems are not discerned before their self worth is irreparably damaged?  It only takes a small amount of discouragement before some people give up on themselves.

And then, suddenly, a thought came into my mind as I worked.  I thought we are only human.  God knows our limitations in everything He has given us to do.  He can make up for those weaknesses if we ask Him. 

I had a few more days.  I began to pray for those children whom I had concerns for by name.  I left the worrying behind me and focused my energy on giving my best effort.

Do we sometimes think that we are able to change the world because we have acquired a little knowledge?  I failed in many ways with my own children, and I have felt the pain of those mistakes. I used to see every struggle that they had (and have) as something I could have pre-empted if I had only done a better job.    This new understanding has healed my heart about those things that I wish I had done differently with my own children and has given me the freedom to enjoy the adventure of making the learning environment a place that is safe and fun, even if I don’t always have all the skills to make it educational.

Fortunately, being a substitute teacher, I only have short windows to carry that responsibility. But if I were the full time teacher, I would make it my mission to do just what millions of good teachers do…

They listen. They question.  They remember that each student is different.  They try to elicit responses from the quiet students and push others to try the next harder problem.

Good teachers know how to laugh.  They know how to make a joke, sometimes at their own expense, letting the students know that they are human and they are learning too.

And good teachers care, nurture and develop talents as well as minds.

I only hope that those good teachers don’t forget that they can’t do it alone.  It’s another way that Christ’s atonement makes up for all our shortcomings. I only had a little time in the trenches, but I needed that reminder.   We do our best and, in some way that we may never understand in this life, He will make those weak things strong.

D&C 90: 24    Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and call things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.

   

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Free Speech for American Fleas

 At one time, people talked and joked about “flea circuses.”  I, for one, did not know that there actually was such a thing, but recently I read about how fleas were “trained” for such an event.

stock vector : surly bulldog looks up at a flea
Anyone who has had a pet with fleas knows that the nasty things are incredible jumpers.  After the trainer collects them and puts them into a jar, a lid is placed on the jar to keep them contained.  At first, one might hear them bump against the lid, but in only a short time, most of them will learn to jump to a height of only a fraction of an inch below the lid.

When this happens, a flea trainer can remove the lid from the jar.  The fleas will continue to jump, but they will not jump out of the jar.  The reason?  They have conditioned themselves to jump only so high.  Once they have been conditioned to jump to a certain height, they will never again exceed that height.

I think that, in some ways, government intervention is training Americans to reach heights that are far below what we once dreamed of achieving. Regulations that have capped productivity and creativeness have become tighter and tighter over the years.

My personal feeling is that some people in government positions actually have a secret goal to hold down the entrepreneurial spirit in Americans.  They want to take away America’s exceptional spirit for achieving things that are, in other countries, unattainable.

I cannot imagine why any elected official would want to do this.  Perhaps they feel some obligation to fall in line with some international guidelines that they believe are more “fair” to the rest of the world.  For instance, if they have adopted the philosophy that the world needs to be more “green,” they may feel that Americans are using more than their fair share of the world’s resources.  Maybe these politicians have some high-minded ideas that we can actually do away with world hunger by taking from “mega-producers” and spreading the wealth around.

Or, perhaps it is nothing more than wanting to be the one in control of everyone else’s fun…a class monitor trying to make everyone else behave.

The worst part of it all is that the American public has fallen in line with these power hungry monsters.

I was just a kid when my parents began thinking about joining a new movement called  “The John Birch Society.” This group was organized to, among other things, hold up the original interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, limit government powers and oppose wealth redistribution.    They opposed socialism, fascism and communism as well.

I listened to my parents talk about joining this group for quite some time.  I guess I didn’t fully understand it all, but my mother talked to me about it enough that I understood the idea that they were joining a “watchdog” group. Eventually they decided not to involve themselves… not because what was being proposed was right or wrong, but because their friends were telling them that the group was too radical.

Later, my mother would point out to me that I shouldn’t make choices in my life based on peer pressure.  (We all heard that line, right?)  But what had they based their choice on?

The conversations we had opened my eyes to a lifetime observation that there has been a war for the hearts and minds of this free people since the very beginning.  But it is only lately that I have really become irritated by the thought and speech control that seems to becoming stronger and more inclusive.   The recent hoopla over “Chick-fil-a’s” CEO’s statements about marriage is a good example of how a minority wants to guilt others into changing their personal attitudes.   Right or wrong, an individual should be able to say what they think without anyone taking any kind of action more than an independent boycott.   What ever made people think that they have the right to tell anyone else how to think?

How about the so-called “fairness doctrine” that keeps getting reintroduced?  (A doctrine that broadcasters offer equal amount of liberal and conservative commentary)

Why should any private station have to broadcast anything other than what they want to air?   America is supposed to be a free country!

I have five children whose thinking, individually, is wildly different than mine on several issues.   I have to admit that, occasionally, it is difficult for me to accept their ideas.   I even try to reason with them to see things differently.  But in the end, I try to respect the idea that they are free to believe what they will and also, to teach their philosophies to their children.

Another tool to stop us from discussing whatever controversial topic is the current “elephant in the room” is the suggestion that people should not engage in topics that are “disagreeable.” Unions, tax increases, and Foreign Involvements are only some of the topics that have been deemed inappropriate for polite discussions.  Well, I for one have decided that we need to start having some real dialogue without worrying so much about whether someone agrees with us before we express our ideas.

That does not mean that we need to create bad feelings with friends and family.   Hugh Blair, a theologian in the 1700’s said, “Gentleness corrects whatever is offensive in our manner.”

Last year, I began calling my neighbors to get them to come to a precinct meeting at our little town hall.  I was shocked to learn that one of my friends was not from the same party that I was affiliated with.  When I had asked her to come out, she politely explained that she was not of that party.  We talked about my surprise at this news and then we went on to another topic.  Neither of us was offended.

Two days ago, one of my Face book friends posted something on her timeline that I strongly disagreed with.  I tried to give my opinion as politely as I could.  She responded as politely as she was able.  It wasn’t much, but we exchanged ideas and I don’t think either of us was offended.   The point is, we each were able to respectfully “stand our ground.”

Maybe some of us like those benign conversations about the changes in our child’s napping schedule, the route we take to work or the trick we taught our dog last night. (Andy Rooney once said, “If dogs could talk, it would take a lot of the fun out of owning one.”)

But back to American fleas.  We have to get over these silly rules that will not allow us to really talk and understand each other.  We used to have clean speech laws that monitored common decency on the airwaves.  Those laws have been relaxed to be practically non-existent, while rules about expressing ideas have become stronger. We are putting a lid on our ability to think through the problems that plague our nation…a lid that will limit our potential.

And, we may never be able to exceed that height again.

  stock photo : Young woman sitting in a jar    

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It’s Our Turn…

The following is a portion of Bill’s remarks at the Tooele Stake Conference Priesthood Session.                                           April 2012

Richard P. Lindsey has passed away but he was once a member of the quorum of the Seventy told the following story:

“I wanted our sons to have the blessing of being shepherds to farm animals. Our older sons were each provided with a ewe to teach them the responsibility of caring for these sheep.

Our six year old son, called me excitedly at my office one cold March morning on the phone and said, “Daddy, guess what? Esther has just had two baby lambs. Please come home and help me take care of them.” I instructed Gordon to watch the lambs carefully and make sure they received the mother’s milk and they would be fine. I was interrupted by a second phone call later in the morning with the same little voice on the other end saying, “Daddy, these lambs aren’t doing very well. They haven’t been able to get milk from the mother, and they are very cold. Please come home.”

Being very busy, I responded, “Gordon, the lambs will be all right. You just watch them, and when Daddy comes home we will make sure they get mother’s milk and everything will be fine.”

Again, later in the afternoon I received a third, more urgent call. Now the voice on the other end was pleading. “Daddy, you’ve got to come home now. Those lambs are lying down, and one of them looks very cold.”

Despite work pressures, I now felt some real concern and tried to reassure my son by saying, “Gordon, bring the lambs into the house. Rub them with a gunnysack to make them warm. When Daddy comes home in a little while, we will milk the mother, feed the lambs, and they will be fine.”

Two hours later I drove into the driveway of our home and was met by a boy with tear-stained eyes, carrying a dead lamb in his arms. His grief was overwhelming. Now I tried to make amends by quickly milking the mother sheep and trying to force the milk from a bottle down the throat of the now weak, surviving lamb.

At this point, Gordon walked out of the room and came back with a hopeful look in his eyes. He said, “Daddy, I’ve prayed that we will be able to save this lamb, and I feel it will be all right.”

The sad note to this story…is that within a few minutes the second lamb was dead. Then with a look that I will remember forever, this little six-year-old boy who had lost both of his lambs looked up into his father’s face and with tears running down his cheeks said, “Daddy, if you had come home when I first called you, we could have saved them both.”

The trust that our friends and family will place in us all of our lives is sacred.  When we endeavor to serve as the Savior serves, our influence will be so powerful that we will be able to change the course of people’s lives.

Some men believe that the personal choices they make with their time and money will not affect those around them. They see themselves exempt from the rules they expect their wives and children to maintain, never believing that they are hurting anyone else with their weaknesses.   But the responsibility they have to lead their families in righteousness is very personal, just as it was for this man who learned the hard way that his son was looking to him for guidance and example.

It is personal because only as an individual, can you develop a firm faith in God and a passion for personal prayer. Only as an individual can you keep the commandments.  Only as an individual can you repent. Only as an individual can you qualify for the ordinances of salvation and exaltation.

Throughout your life you will have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Many of these are temporary and you may feel relieved when you are finally released from them.   However, keeping the Boy Scout motto in mind of  “Be Prepared” will help us be ready whenever the Lord needs us.

When asked if it was difficult to make a transition from his former assignment to that of being called as an apostle, President David Bednar said, “There was no formal orientation, just an expectation to act, to participate and to render judgment as if I had always been there….” This could not have happened had he lived in any way contrary to the righteous way that he needed to be living every single day. 

Although our church assignments will continually change, you will never be released from responsibilities related to your personal and family development.

Remembering who you are will help you to live worthily so that you can exercise the priesthood in righteousness. Power comes from exercising that authority in righteousness.

As a young officer in the Canadian army, President Hugh B. Brown was permitted to go to an officer’s club for entertainment.   He soon realized it was not the kind of entertainment that a righteous priesthood holder would wish to engage in.  As he walked around somewhat lonely, he noticed that sitting away on the side, not enjoying this entertainment either, was a young British officer.  President Brown walked around to where this young British officer was sitting and he said, You don’t seem to be enjoying this kind of a party.”

The young man stood up, and said, “No, sir. I can’t engage in this kind of activity because I am a member of the royal household of England.  I can’t stoop to do this kind of thing.”

As the young British officer walked away, Brother Brown said, “Neither can I because I am a member of the royal household of God.” 

Why WERE you so blessed to live in this day and age to be trusted with the power of the Priesthood? Out of the billions and billions of humans that have come and gone over the last 50,000 years, and the tens of thousands of organized religions, why were you chosen?

In Abraham 3:  22   it says:      “Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

 23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good…

And so, we see that in the pre-mortal life, certain people were foreordained, or chosen, to be born into the house of Israel and receive special blessings and responsibilities. The fulfillment of these blessings depends on their willingness to follow Jesus Christ.

President Monson was once speaking to the youth. He reminded them of something that we should all keep in mind when it comes to the fact that we are living at a special time in the world’s history.  This is what he said:

“You, the youth of the church today, were generals in the war in heaven.  Someday, when you are back in the Spirit World you will be enthralled by other souls who will be from so many other interesting periods of time and who lived during the time of many great prophets. 

You may ask one person, ‘When did you live?’ And you will hear something like… ‘I was with Moses when he parted the Red Sea’ or ‘I fought with Captain Moroni.’ 

As you stand there amazed at the people that you are with, someone will ask you which prophet’s time you lived during.  And when you tell them that you lived during the time of President Benson, President Hunter and President Hinckley, a hush will fall over the corridors of heaven and all in attendance will bow in your presence. 

You were held 6000 years because you were the most talented, most obedient, most courageous, and the most righteous.

 Are you still?”

It is no mistake that you are here during this closing chapter of the earth’s history.  We are the keepers of the Lord’s precious flock and we must be there with the lambs when we are needed. We must teach with love, principles of faith, and goodness and be righteous examples.  The world is desperate for decisive moral leadership.

I leave my witness that this is God’s work. It is the most important work in which we can be engaged. That we will be instruments in His hands in saving the precious lambs for which He gave His life, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

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“Wrestling Pigs in a Clean White Shirt” – Note to Readers

Not to detract from Bill’s post today, (Flawless Diamonds) but I wanted to say thank you again to everyone who has purchased a copy of “Wrestling Pigs…”     An important side note: We changed the names of most of the people we talked about. Image

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Flawless Diamonds

– By Bill Nelson
One day, a man purchased a pair of diamond earrings as a gift for his wife. The wife was sincerely touched that he had remembered their anniversary and the husband beamed to see his wife so pleased.  She had once mentioned that someday she would like such a pair of earrings to match her wedding band.  He had saved a little each month for several years in order to buy them.  The only problem was that his wife, thinking that there was no way in the world the husband could have afforded real diamonds, thought they were cubic zirconium.

In the month that followed, she wore the earrings casually.  She was careless when she put them on and took them off, and finally she misplaced one. When she told her husband, he became very concerned.  Only then did she realize that the diamonds were real.  The worth of the stones had never changed.  What had changed was how she valued the stones.
What is the difference between a person we value as a beautiful diamond and one who is merely an artificial substitute?
The answer is that in God’s eyes, we are all diamonds.  It is the image we have of ourselves that will make us into what others see.
My wife and I recently watched a movie that was staged during the big band era.  Benny Goodman was a rather ordinary looking man in rimless glasses and a conservative business suit; but he was also a man who could play the clarinet like no other before or since.  This made Benny Goodman a unique individual.
Many people in history stand out from the crowd like Benny Goodman. Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa and Robert E. Lee are only a few. They were recognized by the world and honored for no other reason than because they sought for excellence.  They DID something that made others take notice.
When people wear garish clothes, dye their hair strange colors and decorate their skin, they are only drawing attention to what they are on the outside. But an ordinary guy who has dyed his hair purple or orange, is nothing more than an ordinary guy with funny looking hair.
But almost everyone can appreciate the worth of an individual when we see someone who strives for excellence. Those people who invent, who improvise, who know more about a subject than other people do and who take something that doesn’t work and make it work – these are the people who gain more than a glance as we pass them in the parking lot.   Those who love and serve without expecting recognition, perform tedious jobs without complaint …live Christlike lives…are the people that set a standard for the rest of us.
An old priest told a wealthy Persian named Ali Hafed that if he had a diamond the size of his thumb, he could purchase a dozen farms.
“Find a river that runs through white sand, between high mountains  In those white sands you will find diamonds.”
Ali Hafed made up his mind to find diamonds. He sold his farm, but after many years of searching, he had spent all of his money.  He passed away in rags.
Meanwhile, the man who purchased Ali Hafed’s farm one day led his camel out into the garden to drink.  As the animal put his nose into the shallow waters, the farmer noticed a curious flash of light in the white sands of the stream. Reaching in, he pulled out a black stone containing a strange eye of light. In the black stone was a diamond. According to the story, this marked the discovery of the most valuable diamond mines in the history of the ancient world.
Had Ali Hafed remained at home and dug in his own cellar or anywhere in his own fields, rather than traveling in strange lands where he eventually faced starvation and ruin, he would have had “acres of diamonds.” 1
How many times do we look for our happiness at a distance in space or time rather than right now, in our own homes, with our own families and friends?
When we look for opportunities to serve others, or when we invite purity into our own lives and into the world that surrounds us, we find beautiful diamonds in our own backyards.
As a young man, the son of King Louis XVI of France was kidnapped by evil men who had dethroned his father. These men tried to destroy him morally, knowing that he would then be unworthy to inherit the  throne. For six months they subjected him to every vile thing life had to offer, and yet he never yielded under pressure. This puzzled his captors, and after doing everything they could think of, they asked him why he had such great moral strength. His reply, “I cannot do what you ask, for I was born to be a king.”
Like the king’s son, each of us have inherited a royal birthright; a divine heritage. Virtue, kindness, goodness, and charity, or sharing our talents for the happiness of others…these things develop the inner beauty of a person. This is the beauty that really matters, the beautiful lasting diamonds in our lives.
Benny Goodman performed his music with excellance for his appreciative audiences in a plain business suit and dress shoes.  He was one of those ordinary people who wanted to be the best that they could be…
Diamonds  shining in white sand.