Thursday, April 16, 2009

SECOND APRIL CONTEST

It's time to begin another contest. This one will focus on becoming stronger, better individuals because of, or perhaps in spite of, difficult challenges. With each contest so far, I've been touched and impressed by the thought put into the various comments. Many of your comments have become a permanent part of my personal journal.

The strongest people I know are the same people who have dealt with or are now dealing with what in Church circles is often referred to as adversity. There's something about seeing people take hard knocks and instead of crawling off in a corner to cry, they get up and keep fighting. My dad used to say "when the going gets tough, the tough get going," and my mother used to add "nobody gets out of this life alive."

In my lifetime I've become convinced that no one gets an easy ride. We all face our moments, days, or even years of adversity. Whether we face the loss of a loved one either physically or spiritually, face devestating illnesses, send a son off to war, lose our homes to flood or fire, become unemployed, are victims of violence, or are subjected to any of a million different hurts or trials, it's how we deal with those adversities that establishes our character and defines who we are. What separates the winners from the losers in the game of life is not speed, money, the most toys, or even crossing life's finishing lines ahead of all the others. The winners are those who face challenges, losses, disappointments, and all life can throw at them and continue to have faith in God, show their fellow travelers respect and consideration, continue to love their families, and get up each morning to do what needs to be done. The losers whine, blame their woes on others, and expect someone else to solve their problems.

The three books I chose to highlight for this contest are Promise of Spring by Kristen McKendry, Saboteur by Dean Hughes, and Livin' in High Cotton by Jennifer Leigh Youngblood and Sandra Poole. The one key element these three books share is that of a character finding her/himself in an unfamiliar devastating situation that appears hopeless, yet becomes the catalyst to exemplary personal growth. One of these books (or any of the previously highlighted books that hasn't yet been claimed) will be the prize for whoever is chosen from those who place a well thought-out comment in the comment trail of this post. The contest begins now.

Promise of Spring is the story of Melinda Keith who was never a "farm person." She grew up in Albuquerque with electric lights, gas heating, and two cars in the driveway. But after a painful divorce, she decides that life on an isolated farm in the Texas Panhandle is what she needs. Fiercely independent, Melinda is determined to live completely off the land and keep other people at a distance. But that was before a widower with a two-year-old son moves in next door and she becomes the victim of a series of sinister acts of vandalism.

The year is 1943 and Andy Gledhill trains to become a paratrooper. But he soon discovers his government has other plans for him. Because of his language skills, having a French mother, he is to be dropped into France behind enemy lines to serve as a Saboteur and spy. Andy's new life of deception and sabotage is worlds away from his smalltown upbringing and raises serious questions of conscience. Yet back home his small town is changing too with the addition of a nearby Japanese relocation camp, his sister's rejection of religious values, and the changing nature of his relationship with his longtime girlfriend. The things he sees and the things he has to do create core changes in him that will change his life, values, and relationships forever.

"Cultured, graceful, feisty Shelby Collins is the epitome of a southern lady. She tries to prove her competence by looking after her siblings while her mother is away caring for an ailing relative. Shelby's secure world is turned upside down when her father, in a drunken rage, attacks her. Fearing others will learn of his treachery, he kidnaps her, takes her to a reform school, and abandons her. In utter despair, Shelby is sure that her life is over---but sometimes life's blessings come in the most unexpected ways." Set in the South during the late 1920s and early 1930s, this is a story of love, betrayal, and the indomitable human spirit.


5 comments:

Kelsi Rose said...

Coincidentally, I wrote a post after General Conference that put into words some feelings I have about thriving in adversity. Here is an excerpt, "Through Christ's Atonement, we can have ever lasting peace. I know that times are hard for right now. I know that we want to be delivered from those that have you trapped. As President Monson told the Priesthood last night, the burdens may not be lifted, but your back will be shaped to bare them. Do not look towards scholars to help you, for their advice will fade when no longer in vogue, look towards your Redeemer, because he will never lead you astray. His help is individually geared to you. He knows the pain and trials that you have because he carried them alone. His arms are waiting to carry you through the quagmire of life right now, if you will just let him pick you up, instead of pushing him away."

Becky said...

My husband and I were recently talking about this subject. He and I grew up relatively unscathed from adversity, so when we got married, we were sure that we would indeed face unknown trials that would hopefully strengthen us as individuals, and as a couple. Indeed, they did come, and in force. Together, we've endured fire, cancer, 3 deaths very close together, and all very unexpected, and most recently, unemployment, and a child with Asperger's. All of these trials have been a major testimony building experience. How grateful I am to have a loving Heavenly Father that has sustained us and helped us grow from these trials. While we are still in the midst of many of them, we strive to continue to turn to the Lord and hopefully we can come out of these experiences better people.

Amy Btw M said...

I think having trials not only helps us grow, but helps us stay close to God. Sometimes it is easy to envy those who seem to have everything going for them in life, but then wouldn't it be easier for them to forget God as well? When we are humble we come to the Lord through prayer, thus strengthening our faith in Him.

Stephanie said...

Trials are a part of this life. I am exceedingly blessed to have an eternal perspective. In my family the answer to every question was "to be sealed in the temple!" And that phrase has stuck with me all my life, making every chanllenge in life a time to learn and grow. I never realized that learning to see the world through an eternal perspective was tough for church members until high school. I would hear fellow members complain about something and I could never understand how they couldn't see the broader perspective, until a seminary lesson. We were talking about having an eternal perspective. the teacher showed a picture of a boy pushing another boy, then they asked if this was rude, and we all said yes! Then they showed the rest of the picture, a car was about to hit the boy. And then asked how about now? And we said, oh well now he's a hero. I realized I saw the car and some people only saw the boy pushing another boy.

Randy and Lisa said...

Just when you think you are in charge and life is going well, trials appear to humble you, and remind you that you are not in charge of your life. My husband and I have found periods of trials and periods of "rest from our labors" throughout our almost 19 years of marriage. Sometimes I just want to say, "Heavenly Father, I know Thou loves us and that's the reason for these trials, but you can go love someone else for awhile." Then I remind myself that I have lessons to learn, and that is why I am having the current trial, and that blessing are in store. The month of March was one such trial, but major blessing arose from each event. My Aunt unexpectedly died, after being at my house for the weekend. However, her death brought her 6 children together after years of fighting and not speaking, and I was able to spend the last 13 hours of her life with her, and was honored to witness the spiritual peace of her death. A few days after my aunt died, my father in law was life flighted to Seattle for emergency surgery. He was there for a month before returning home. He is now on dialysis, and had several problems crop up while in Seattle. While this was a major trial in our lives and my in laws lives, we have a deeper appreciation for him and my mother in law, and they appreciate their children and grandchildren more than ever. We have been reminded to live each day as though it were our last day to see those we love. Trials help remind us what is really important in our lives, and how much our Savior and our Father In Heaven love and help us. I wouldn't really want a life without trials, because the blessings which come, both here and beyond the veil, are worth every minute of every trial.