We wish to say thank you to our friends who have been so supportive and encouraging during the months it’s taken to get our book published.
Being new to the process, we thought that the paperbacks would not be available until June 26th, but we are excited to announce that it can now be purchased online from Tate Publishing in paperback or e-book. ( We have included the link)
We hope you will order a copy. It might make a good read for a book club as well.
Bill and Diane Nelson
Mom used to say, “You won’t get far with that attitude.” And she was right.
Sometimes, when I pray, I think it’s hard to come up with something to say that doesn’t sound like last night’s prayer. The strange thing is that when I call my daughter, it seems like we never run out of thing to talk about. And it seems like twenty dollars is a lot of money when I am about to pay tithing, but such a small amount when I want to shop. Two hours seems like such a long time when I am trying to sit still and focus on conference, but it seems to go by pretty quick when I am at a good movie.
However, I have learned something from these kinds of seeming contradictions. I’ve discovered that it is my attitude at the beginning of anything I am about to do that decides what kind of an experience I am going to have.
Much about having and maintaining a good attitude comes from lessons I learned from missionaries and the people they taught. My sister and I shared a bedroom when we were children because the missionaries lived in our home. It was a happy time and I remember many instances in daily living when those young men set wonderful examples for us. The faithful missionaries, (those who came for the right reason) taught me that when I truly give …of my own free will… that kind of giving is really the only personal thing we have to place on God’s altar.
“The many other things we ‘give’ are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual will be swallowed up in God’s will then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!”
-Neal A. Maxwell
One missionary who made a big impression on my young mind was Elder Barber. He was not one of the missionaries who lived in our home, although he came often for dinner. One afternoon, my mother said, “Elder, I see that you have torn your pants. Bring those over tomorrow and let me mend them for you.”
Elder Barber tried to decline, but my mother pressed him until he finally said, “Sister Nelson, these are the only pants I have. I can’t leave them with you.” My mother did not make a big deal out of it…she had him go wait in the bedroom while she fixed the pants. But over the next little while we learned that as a boy, his father had left him and his large family. His mother had raised them all alone. When it came time for his mission, they could only afford to purchase one suit. He had nothing else. Still, he did not let this ‘wardrobe malfunction’ stop him. He went on his mission.
One missionary who just returned home not long ago from a mission to Mexico wrote this in a letter to his father: “… Hurricane Alex hit Wednesday and it stayed until yesterday. My companion and I survived crossing rivers of death. …streets that aren’t paved…when it rains they become rivers. Our leaders said that since we couldn’t do anything about the water, we could stay in the house if we felt like we couldn’t work. But we felt pretty bad about staying in the house so we went out.
“First we crossed a huge river of water just to go to eat. We were able to help a woman and man get to their house with the food they had purchased. The water was up to our waist. Luckily it didn’t have a lot of strength. We walked all day Thursday just looking for people to help because no one would open the door. When we got home, we were soaked. We put our clothes next to the fan and went to sleep. When we woke, the clothes …and our shoes… were still wet. We figured they would be wet by the end of the day anyway, so we put them on and went to work. The hurricane hit even harder on Friday. We could only see about 5 feet in front of us. The wind and the rain were horrible. We looked for people to help again. We offered a lot of service. We cleaned two flooded houses and broke a sidewalk and gutter with a pickaxe so that another house wouldn’t flood.
“Friday night we had family home evening with a recent convert and by then the rain had slowed down a little and we thought it would pass. By the time we started to leave, it started up again and it rained for an hour. We were walking the whole time and when we got about 2 miles from our house we came across a river that we couldn’t cross for the strength of it. About three times we almost got sucked under in the current. Of course, everything we had was wet…books, book bags, coats, everything. We felt so weighted down, so we said a little prayer that we could have some help crossing and the rain slowed down and the river lowered just enough that we could cross. We found out right before we crossed that a dad and 2 kids were separated, so we hauled the 2 kids across giving them piggybacks.
“It was all pretty intense, but I learned that our Father in Heaven is always there to hear and answer our prayers.”
This man taught two important things in his letter:
1) It is our attitude toward life that will determines life’s attitude toward us. He might have chosen an easy day at his apartment reading his scriptures and resting up. Instead, he decided to look for ways to put those scripture teachings to work. He looked for ways to give service.
2) Part of a good attitude is to look for the best in every new situation. Your mind can only hold one thought at a time. So instead of holding on to negative thoughts, we should learn to cultivate positive thoughts. To be successful, a person must behave in a manner that will allow those results to truly come to pass. He might have wished and prayed every night for opportunities to teach. He might have prayed every night to make a difference in someone’s life. But he knew that he had to go outside of his comfort zone to find the people who needed him. They were not going to come into his apartment.
Sometimes we have to really go out of our way to maintain a good attitude. I can usually justify why I haven’t done my visiting teaching or anything else that is a little inconvenient.
Stephen L. Richards, who was a counselor to David O. McKay told about something that might have changed his attitude if he had let it. He said that on his wedding day, he reserved a horse drawn carriage to take him and his bride from the temple to their new home.
“It was the first hack I had ever hired.” He said. “I was quite proud to think I could get it to take my wife home after the marriage.”
When Brother Richards greeted his bride at the temple gate, he found she was accompanied by an elderly woman she’d met in the temple. His new wife said,” This sister lives two or three miles out on our way and I thought we could take her home.”
Fifty years later, President Richards said, “I don’t remember whether she sat between us or not.” His disappointment in what he had planned turned into a humorous memory.
In 1996, there were a group of Cambodian immigrants who lived near Buenos Aires, Argentina. One of these families was being taught the law of fasting. The missionary explained it to the family like this: “Fasting is a 24 hour period in which we do not eat or drink anything, putting our bodies in submission to our spirits. We use the time to read the scriptures, pray and engage in other uplifting activities, culminating in attending fast and testimony meeting, where we then give to the bishop of our ward the monetary equivalent of the food from which we had abstained in order that he may distribute it among the poor and needy.
After this explanation, the missionaries suggested that because the following Sunday was Fast Sunday, the family might like to try fasting. The father agreed and the missionaries left the home. The following Monday evening, the elders returned to give another discussion. They asked for a report on the family’s experience with fasting. The father rather apologetically explained that they had tried and would surely try again.
He said, “We began our fast in the afternoon with a prayer; followed by scripture reading and a discussion. We continued in this way until early the following morning. I regret to say that some of the younger children fell asleep during the night. We were very tired but showered in the morning and prepared to go to church where our spirits were revived and filled with the beautiful testimonies that were given. Perhaps next time we’ll do better, and the children will be able to stay awake with us all night.
The missionaries were astonished! You mean you didn’t go to sleep during the whole 24-hour period? “NO replied the father. “You didn’t mention sleeping.”
Such a beautiful lesson about enthusiasm for hearing and trying out new ideas for finding truth. This positive, enthusiastic attitude is contagious. The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek words ‘en Theos.’
This post is dedicated to Tracy Hymas Shaw and Chris Sloan, both of Tooele, Utah
I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
– Edward Everett Hale
A couple of years ago, I was elected Precinct Chair for Rush Valley. Elected? Appointed is more like it. I did not aspire to it and I did not do much more than I was required to do.
A few nights ago, I hosted our local caucus meeting. (I’m told that caucus meeting is a redundancy because the two words mean the same thing. That shows what I knew.) Anyhow, I was re-elected as precinct chair. It seems that my minimal effort was enough to get me to do it again.
I don’t say this to shame anyone who was there for choosing such a loser. That night, people from our community chose others who were willing to shoulder more responsibilities than I. We elected one county and one state representative.
Being elected as a county or state representative means a lot of meetings they will have to drive a lot of miles to attend. It means a lot of phone calls that will keep them on the line a lot of hours where they will listen to a lot of promises or, themselves, ask a lot of questions. And, (worst of all) it means a lot of mail they will have to seriously read that I usually throw in the can.
Most of us will say that we cannot imagine that, in the end, it is worth all of the time and trouble to be so involved.
There is a story told about a ship that was in distress during a severe storm off the coast of Holland.
“A rowboat went out to rescue the crew of the fishing boat. The waves were enormous, and each of the men at the oars had to give all his strength and energy to reach the unfortunate sailors in the grim darkness of the night and the heavy rainstorm.
The trip to the wrecked ship was successful, but the rowboat was too small to take the whole crew in one rescue operation. One man had to stay behind on board because there simply was no room for him; the risk that the rescue boat would capsize was too great. When the rescuers made it back to the beach, hundreds of people were waiting from them with torches to guide them in the dreary night. But the same crew could not make the second trip because they were exhausted from their fight with the storm winds, the waves, and the sweeping rains.
So the captain of the coast guard asked for volunteers to make a second trip. Among those who stepped forward without hesitation was 19-year-old youth by the name of Hans. With his mother he had come tot the beach in his oilskin clothes to watch the rescue operation.
When Hans stepped forward his mother panicked and said, “Hans, please don’t go. Your father died at sea when you were four years old and your older brother Pete has been reported missing at sea for ore than three months now. You are the only son left to me!”
But Hans said, “Mom, I feel I have to do it. It is my duty.” And the mother wept and restlessly started pacing the beach when Hans boarded the rowing boat, took the oars, and disappeared into the night.
After a struggle with the high-going seas that lasted for more than an hour (and to Hans’ mother it seemed an eternity), the rowboat came into sight again. When the rescuers had approached the beach close enough so that the captain of the coast guard could reach them by shouting, he cupped his hands around his mouth and called vigorously against the storm, “Did you save him?” And then the people lighting the sea with their torches saw Hans rise from his rowing bench, and he shouted with all his might, “Yes! And tell Mother… it is my brother Pete!”
Our country is in the middle of a severe storm. There is much to be lost if we abandon those who are trying hard to save our precious constitution.
Fear or laziness sometimes keeps us from being all we can be. I have attended a few meetings when it was convenient to do so. But, like Hans, there are others who are doing the heavy lifting. Perhaps I cannot be one of those just now.
Or maybe my talents run in other directions. Maybe I am like one of the people who stood on the shore lighting the way for Hans to return with his prize.
But I am one.
And I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
A quote from someone else’s blog… Stallion Cornell to be exact. (http://stallioncornell.com/) …
“Go to a Mormon meeting on any given Sunday, and you’ll see three dudes sitting up by the pulpit. The guy in the middle is the bishop, and he’s already spent most of the day in meetings where he reviewed the ward’s staffing needs and organizing relief efforts for families who may be struggling with health, financial, or spiritual issues. He’s also been meeting one-on-one with members of the church who look to him for counsel and support for personal problems that would turn your hair white. Usually, he’s been doing all this since before the sun came up, so don’t be surprised if he nods off while the meeting progresses.
Please keep in mind, too, that there are no elections for bishops and stake presidents, nor are there reelections. Each leader is “called” to serve, and they accept the responsibility dutifully, no questions asked. They then serve for a period of time, usually between five and ten years, after which they are “released,” meaning they rejoin their congregations as lay members and have no more responsibility than anyone else”
I’d like to add that these good men serve (as do most members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) without pay.
Last week, I helped my husband organize a small meeting dedicated to the women who are the wives of these men. Not only do these men sacrifice much of their personal lives in order to serve the Lord, their wives, by necessity, have had their lives compromised as well. They surrender a large part of their husband’s time to others while their own families learn to manage without having him at home.
Phone calls in the middle of the night are not uncommon. On Sundays, Dad does not usually get to sit with the family. A crisis in the ward can interrupt family vacations. A child may see Dad have to leave in the middle of their piano recital or a soccer game.
No, being part of a family where Dad is a member of a bishopric is not without some sacrifice for every member. Some people criticize these men saying they have their priorities wrong, but I think they are an example of commitment that their children will, with a little help, learn to respect as an anomaly in our society… a vanishing breed of men (and women) who know that sacrifice and service must be taught by example.
In preparing for this special meeting, we wrote a poem that we dedicated to the wives of these bishops. We recognized that their contributions were just as important to the work in Christ’s church as were their husband’s.
The Bishop’s Wife
I cannot see how this is right, I thought as I pulled my jacket tight.
We barely have an evening free, when he can be alone with me.
How can I give away that hour? It’s I who needs his priesthood power.
But smile I did and made a plan how I’d attempt to help my man.
I knew that I should give a part of all I felt within my heart.
At first, it did not seem too bad. My children prayed, “please bless our Dad.”
I read a lot and hemmed a dress. I learned to play my son at chess.
But loneliness became routine. I made all decisions by myself, it seemed.
And when I needed time alone, my sister was the one I phoned.
One night my sister came to stay, watching the children for my ‘get-away.’
And though I could have fair escaped, I parked outside the church front gate.
A ghost to see what’s in this place, I walked dark halls just to see his face.
But then, instead…a man and wife. They stand outside. They’re filled with strife.
He holds the door as she walks in. The tears are running down her chin.
She says “…I don’t love you anymore. That’s what we have divorces for.”
I know I should go, but instead I wait. They go inside with my own sweet mate.
Please let him say some words just right. Help them rid their hearts of spite.
But while I think how hurt they are, the headlights of still another car.
It’s James who has his parents too. Last Sunday he talked about what he knew was true.
And now he’ll be leaving for Japan. He’s finally making good his plan
To serve the world and share the truth; the things he’s learned while yet a youth.
And one by one, my ward family dear, come to him for words of cheer,
Or blessings that only he should give, as worthily he tries to live.
I go back home. My heart can see that he belongs not just to me.
But I was blessed to have his love, by Father who is up above.
Please let him lead me to Heaven’s door, by learning how to give up more.
And look upon this wedding ring, that I will yet reign as his queen.
-By Bill and Diane Nelson
Bill’s mother will probably pass away this week. The following is Bill’s preface from our book “Wrestling Pigs in a Clean White Shirt.” I thought it was appropriate.
Like most men, I don’t think too much about how I was raised, what I missed out on, or who was in charge when I missed it. I just live. And sometimes, I take things for granted that I should probably appreciate more.
Like my mother. She may not live to see our book published. If she does, she won’t be able to read it because her eyesight is gone. Sometimes I wonder if she even remembers that she has a son named Bill. My brother, Dale, has been her guardian for several years now while she lives out each boring day in an assisted living facility in Colorado.
It’s not his fault that she’s bored. He does his best to make her life comfortable, but what can a 90-year-old woman have to look forward to except visits from her family?
I never asked her opinion when she had it together enough to have one. I usually rejected her good advice and even the religion she brought me up in. Still, I honestly respected her goodness, and maybe that was the problem between her and I. She was just too good.
She never wasted time on style or image. A very practical woman in every way, she did not understand my need to have a little cool. Although I thankfully missed the “jean with acceptable brand names” era that my kids grew up in, there was still a certain amount of “smartness” that I lacked. There were six boys in our family. I knew that my parents could not afford a lot of luxuries because my father had been given a short life expectancy due to having a lung removed at a young age from tuberculosis. They wisely prepared for the fact that he might not live to see all of the boys leave home before he passed away. Wise, but not something that we cared too much about at the time. In fifth grade, my mother bought two pair of sturdy pants for me. Unfortunately, they were the same color, which understandably made my pals wonder if I only had one pair. Add to that the fact that I grew straight up about 3 inches that year without gaining anything in the waist. Mother did not think this was a qualifier for getting new pants. Like many from her generation, her motto was “use it up and wear it out.” And so, while she would have happily emerged herself in farm work and her love of horses, I do not think she had a clue about how to survive John F. Long Elementary in 1963.
She and Dad never argued either, at least not in front of us boys. At first glance that sounds pretty great, but it was actually a little bit of a handicap when it came to learning how to work out relationship problems. Ask Diane. Her parents gave her lots of workshops on how to engage the enemy in combat. But my parents? They couldn’t seem to find a single thing that they did not agree on.
I discounted her ideas about God as well. My mother is the most trusting of believers and I have always considered her naivete as being a little silly. It is only now, when I am reaching an age that I am faced with settling up myself, that I can appreciate how much He must love her innocence. How our God must love those who do not question His motives, His rules, and His unconditional love simply because we cannot see all the answers right now.
My mother had a simple ability to accept, to love, and to be contented with what she had. By her example, I learned for myself that clothes do not make the man, that happy relationships are achievable, and that God is really there.
I hope she gets to see this, but I plan to tell her in person. One more thing she’s teaching me …
…Not to wait to tell someone how much they mean to me.