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Sunday, September 24, 2017

From My Father - Dread Does Not Need to Be the Victor

This is a great and inspiring account written by my father, Jim Hartley, about challenges he faced pursuing higher education in his 40s. I remember I was in 5th grade when my dad earned his Master's degree. I had no idea one of the greatest challenges he faced was actually from within -- battling himself! My dad's experience has helped strengthen my personal resolve to "conquer the natural man." Below are my father's own words:

James E. Hartley: Dread Does Not Need to Be the Victor

LDS Church Office Building
When I retired from employment in 2014, I had worked 34 years for the LDS Church. But, that tenure only happened because I followed the counsel of one of my managing directors. Twenty-two years earlier, managing director, Ronald L. Knighton, called me into his office to offer some startling advice. “Jim, you’re doing well, but if you want a career here, you’ll need a master’s degree. Without it, you won’t have much of a future.”

Now there was a punch in the gut! I was astonished that 12 years of excellent annual performance appraisals would not mean much in the future. Worse, that advice came when I was 40 years old. I had a wife and six children to provide for. With a family of eight, a mortgage, and two car payments, our finances were already stretched thinner than pizza dough. I was working full-time and periodically needed to travel for two to three weeks at a time. Also, I was highly involved in my local church assignments. How could I find the means and the time for a master’s program?


But, truthfully, my greatest fear was that I didn’t believe in myself. Although I normally did well in school, I never felt like the academic type. I had never pictured myself going on for an advanced degree. In my mind, that was for people far smarter than I was. But, it was apparent that my future—and, frankly, my family’s future—depended on it. Where could I find the self-confidence to go back to school? The best word to describe my feelings at that time is “dread.”

Showdown with a Hooligan
Dread means to anticipate something with great anxiety or fear. On a smaller scale, dread is what I felt when I had a showdown with a burly 13-year old named Russ.

Picture of Jim, 1977
It was 1977. Our family had purchased a home in Spanish Fork, Utah. A short time after moving there, I was asked by our LDS ward bishopric to be the advisor to the deacons quorum and the chairman of their Boy Scout committee. So, I helped teach 12- and 13-year-old boys on Sundays and worked with them in scouting on Wednesdays and some weekends.

Among my boys was an overgrown hooligan named Russ. At age 13, he was as big as an adult man and stronger than most. Interestingly, it became Russ’s tool of intimidation to publicly humiliate all his male adult leaders by arm-wrestling them in front of the other boys and adults. I was told that no adult had beaten Russ, and I was counseled to avoid him or he’d make me look like a fool the same way he did his other victims. That explained why Russ swaggered around like a mob boss, frequently bullying other kids and acting belligerent to adults.

Watching Russ and observing how other adults tip-toed around him, I too began to fear him, and I dreaded the idea of ever arm-wrestling him. He challenged me a few times, but I was able to dodge each proposed faceoff. Then, one evening when all the young men and young women were having a combined activity in the meetinghouse, I walked into the kitchen to find it crowded with youth and adults. They surrounded a small table with two opposing chairs. It was the showdown, and this time I couldn’t weasel my way out! I’m certain my face didn’t hide the sudden dread that crawled down my back like a spider with icy feet. This match wasn’t an innocent sporting event either. Strangely, there was a lot at stake. This was to decide who was the top alpha male between Russ and me. And, for the other boys, my acceptance as their priesthood and scout leader was on the line. I tried my best to smile and hide it, but inwardly, I was filled with dread—pure and petrifying.

The above is not Jim, but is an
illustration of how he felt when
arm wrestling Russ
I sat down across from Russ. With feet firmly planted and elbows positioned on the table, we locked hands and eyes. I offered a light-speed prayer for help. The scoutmaster shouted “Go!” and the match began. Arm muscles bulged and strained. Teeth were gritted and nostrils flared. Faces turned red. Two sets of eyes exchanged daggers. All the youth cheered wildly for Russ, their undefeated titleholder. Then, after what felt like an eternity, it was over. The astonished crowd was suddenly stone silent. Their champion gladiator had been soundly defeated. Even I was astonished! I had succeeded when I fully expected an embarrassing failure. My brain launched a quick “thank you” heavenward. My dread evaporated, and I didn’t have problems with Russ or the other boys after that.

The EMPA and the GMAT
For me, earning a master’s degree was far more difficult than confronting Russ, but it was still an issue of deep dread with a lot at stake. I counseled with my wife, Linda, and she was very supportive and reassuring. So, despite my anxiety and fear of failure, I decided to try. I investigated several available executive programs—programs that offered evening and weekend classes for working adults. I chose the Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) program at Brigham Young University’s Salt Lake Center.

BYU’s Salt Lake Center, 1992
BYU’s EMPA program was nationally recognized. To be admitted, I had to complete the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) with a very high score. I knew meeting that standard would be difficult, especially for someone who been at school recess for nearly two decades. So, I borrowed a 2”-thick GMAT preparation book from the public library. I studied, analyzed, and crammed all of its sections, and took nine of its practice exams. But, the results were always discouraging. With each exam, I got a lower and lower score. Even my best practice score was not high enough for admission to BYU’s program. So, when it came time for the real thing, I figured I was a goose ready for the oven. Before the exam, I pleaded for divine help. I had done everything I knew how to do. My future, and my family’s future depended on me scoring well.

After taking the GMAT, I left the examination center confident that I deserved a dunce cap. I was extremely discouraged. However, a few weeks later when I received my scores, I was stunned and dumbfounded. My composite GMAT score was high enough to qualify me, not only for BYU, but for any MPA program in the nation! I honestly wondered if the testing organization had made a scoring mistake. That experience taught me an invaluable lesson: do your very best, seek God’s help, and, if it’s his will, everything will work out okay.

With acceptance into BYU’s program came the need to pay for it. My employer was willing to reimburse up to 50% of the costs. But, the program was expensive, and I didn’t know how we could find the money for our portion. Linda and I discussed it, pondered numerous options, and prayed earnestly about it. Our prayers were mercifully answered in the form of an initial loan from my mother and the successful refinancing of our home’s mortgage, which provided enough extra money to pay off my mother’s loan and fund my entire EMPA program.

Learning by Study and Faith
The GMAT and financing aside, I still doubted my academic abilities. On my first evening at BYU’s Salt Lake Center, I felt like I was back at the arm wrestling table with Russ the Intimidator. I looked around at my classmates and realized I was probably the oldest one in the group. How could I keep up with those brilliant, younger students, many of whom had only been out of college for about two years? Even more dreadful to me was my first class: economics, with its brain-bruising jargon, formulas, and graphs. Economics had been my least favorite and worst class in my undergraduate program some 20 years earlier! I knew I was doomed.

Sometime during the following weeks while wallowing in self-doubt, I read a scripture passage in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 88, verse 118. A portion of it struck deep into my soul: “…Seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” After pondering that passage, I decided to follow the Lord’s counsel and add faith to my efforts. I promised to make every course and every class a matter of prayer, pleading for God’s help.

BYU’s EMPA program required 33 months to complete 16 prescribed courses. I was true to my promise for 14 of those 16 classes. In the first 14 classes, I did far better than I had ever expected. I had done so well, in fact, that I felt like I could handle my last two classes on my own, and I neglected to seek divine help. At the end of the semester, I was stunned when I got the worst grades of my program. The grades weren’t horrible, but the lesson to me was obvious. I can learn adequately with diligent study and faith in myself. But, add faith in God, and I learn far better.

Jim on graduation day, 1995
In the end, I surprisingly graduated summa cum laude and fourth in my class. I remained in a management-level position with my employer for another 19 years. Anchored by my master’s degree, I survived three major department reorganizations and two corporate downsizings.
I and my family will be forever grateful for the advice and encouragement from my managing director, Ronald L. Knighton, when he counseled me to earn a master’s degree.

I am particularly grateful for the Lord’s scriptural advice to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” By following that counsel, I mustered the needed academic courage, and it taught me an important principle of intelligence: when study is combined with faith, together they become very powerful educators, far more powerful than diligent study alone.

Most importantly, I learned that when dread weighs heavily on me causing fear and anxiety, with divine help, I can work through it. Dread does not need to be the victor.

------

Written by James E. Hartley, September 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

From My Mother - The Answer in the Upper Room

This is a great account recorded by my mother, Linda Frye Hartley, in her journal in 1990. She wrote about a trip she took to Israel and other countries, but with a backdrop of challenges relating to raising children and dealing with her own learning disabilities. Her account helps strengthen my faith and also increases my admiration for her. Below are my mother's own words:

The Answer In The Upper Room

My parents Linda and Jim Hartley, June 1990
Garden of Gethsamane in Jerusalem
My husband Jim and I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to go to Israel, Italy and Egypt in mid-1990. This was a three week "Lands of the Scriptures" workshop that goes on annually for employees at Jim's workplace. We visited many historical and ancient biblical sites that were awesome and breathtaking. To witness such timeless beauty and remarkable talent of Michelangelo, Bernini, Egyptian kings and craftsmen, is of itself impossible to put into words. I was stunned by it all--civilization after civilization producing such unique and endless character in sculpture, art and architecture. To see such prodigious wonders of this world made me stop to think how superior they were in comparison to my "weakly" abilities. Though I felt amazement and appreciation for this beauty, I also felt a bit depressed. Then I felt a minute part of the grandiose of the Lord's intelligence and omniscience. Again, I was struck with awe and reverence.

Although our trip was very pleasant and the children were at home with a nanny, I had continual mixed emotions during the tour. First, I was deeply concerned and worried over one of our teenaged children going through a difficult time with drug abuse and intense discord toward a family member. This really dampened my spirits while I was there. I put on a happy face most of the time, but deep down I was worried. How was I supposed to cope?

Second, about two-three years prior to the trip, I was acquainted with Dr. Frances Wright. She specialized in behavior/education problems. As I got to know her better and started to tell her some of my difficulties in learning and listening situations, she tested me and confirmed my assumptions. I have a few learning disabilities that make it very difficult for me to listen and retain what I hear. She called it an integration problem. I have a hard time coping with visual and auditory stimuli coming at me at once. So, I don't always remember what is being said. I need to focus completely on what is being said and give my undivided attention to the speaker. Lectures or any form of auditory plus visual information coming to me all at once is not easily processed.

This frustration was felt quite a bit on the trip. Such an immense amount of information was being given and I had no way of remembering it all. Since I have a problem with writing and listening simultaneously, I could not always write in full what I heard. I completely lost the "jist" of the story or only remembered it shortly. If someone talked too fast, I couldn't remember what was said, especially if it was on a topic I'm not familiar with!

There were often times I'd get so frustrated with myself because Jim was retaining the information much better than I. He could connect the places with the stories. I was embarrassed constantly by continually asking Jim to remind me of what places we went to and who did what, when. Even though Dr. Wright told me my learning disabilities have nothing to do with my intelligence, I still felt so stupid and incompetent. Dr. Wright reminded me frequently not to compare myself to others because they may have a “functioning system.”

Sometimes I dwelled too much on my inadequacies to fully enjoy what I had previously studied for this trip. I really don’t know if “normal” intelligent people can empathize with this inability. We all complain of fading memories, but people have no idea what this frustration is like. You have an unquenchable urge to remember, to retain, to sort, to enjoy -- but it all gets “tangled up” so much in your head that the frustration is almost unbearable.

In my nightly prayers, I would pour out my soul to the Lord that I would understand and remember these precious bits of information, and that our rebellious child would be safe from harm. Well, no miracles happened. The Lord saw fit not to answer my prayer about my learning struggles at this time. But no matter. We all have our crosses to bear occasionally. I need to be patient and exercise my faith more in Heavenly Father’s wisdom and timing of His answers.

The "Upper Room" in Jerusalem
I had the most remarkable spiritual experience overlooking the area where the Sermon on the Mount took place and also at the Upper Room in Jerusalem. While one of the ladies from Group A was singing, "I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked," a strong yet gently burning in my bosom overtook me. I felt a peace -- no words, no voices, nor dramatic melodies. I felt an increase of love from my Savior -- a certain, unmistakable closeness that He was right there next to me understanding my pain and frustrations.  I was moved to tears and felt compassion from Him. What a powerful moment in my life!

The most spiritual and powerful, yet unexpected event that took place on this trip and in my life thus far, was when our group had a sacrament meeting. It was on the "Sabbath" or Saturday. It was held in the "Upper Room," a place where the Last Supper took place (the location was not 100% certain, but I was glad to be there anyway)! The room was not gorgeously decorated or beautifully designed. In fact, I was a bit disappointed when I walked in. Plaster was peeling off the wall, the walls looked so dingy-white. It was rather a blah, unimpressive first impression.

And then it happened.

While Garry Moore was giving his talk, I was nearly overwhelmed, if not almost knocked over, with an incredible warmth or heat that filled my entire body. I pity the people around me who saw me crying softly yet continuously. No one else was crying! I felt really awkward and Jim turned to me and asked, "Linda, are you alright? Did I say something wrong?" I said, "No," and I kept on crying.

This beautiful warm feeling was indeed my Savior “speaking” to me. I knew somehow that our precious child would be alright and not to worry. I knew my Heavenly Father's love for me and His Son's love for me that evening. I felt that burning for a whole hour and a half! The words from the hymn, "I Stand All Amazed" best describe how I felt. "Oh it is wonderful, that he has cared for me enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me."

When the meeting was over, the intense warmth left. What a testimony I received that the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven love us. How wonderful it would have been to be in that very room with the Savior before he died. But then again, perhaps I had a personal witness what it really was like because I experienced it now!

Whoever reads my journal, I would like them to know that I know God lives and loves us, and that his Son, Jesus Christ is indeed the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, know our deepest fears, frustrations and joys. They care for us and gently lead us along. I have felt this divine love and have a testimony that these things are true, and that His restored gospel is indeed the only true gospel here on earth. I believe with all my heart that Ezra Taft Benson is a true and living prophet today who leads and directs this church. I know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is true. It teaches us many great and wonderful truths if we are just diligent in studying the scriptures. I leave with you this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

June 1990
Linda Frye Hartley

Edited for clarification and grammar, September 10, 2017


Thursday, August 31, 2017

My Mother Linda Hartley - Miscarriage and Prophetic Dreams

Angela Hartley, June 20,1988
My mother, Linda Hartley, wrote a letter to a niece over five years ago about her experience of having a miscarriage in 1986. It was a very sad time for her then. My mother's experience with a miscarriage has helped humble me, but it has also strengthened my faith in the wisdom and timing of God. My father, Jim Hartley, adapted the letter and wrote the following story below: 

Linda F. Hartley: Miscarriage and Prophetic Dreams—The Lord Knows What He Is Doing

I miscarried two years before I gave birth to my daughter, Angela. That miscarriage was one of the most devastating experiences of my life! In contrast, Angela’s birth was truly a tender mercy from heaven…and the fulfillment of two prophetic dreams.

In 1986, we were a family of seven: Jason (12), Taylor (8), Andrea (6), Brent (5), Tom (2), my husband, Jim, and I. When my daughter, Andrea, was born, I knew I wanted to have another girl so she would have a sister. Not long after that, I had a dream about a little girl. She and I were at a neighbor’s house. She was perhaps five years old, maybe older, and had long hair. She was running from the neighbor's yard to our home. Even though I only saw her from the back, I knew she was ours. Later, when I became pregnant, I was excited with the anticipation of having another girl. It turned out to be our son, Brent. I was happy to have another child, but truthfully, I was deeply disappointed that he wasn’t the little girl of my dream. My husband, Jim, joked, "When Linda dreams of a girl, we'll get a boy!"

After Brent was born, I had another dream. I saw a beautiful little baby girl dressed in a long, white blessing gown. She was propped up on a barstool and smiling. When I woke up, I eagerly told Jim of my dream. He said, "That means we'll have another boy." Sure enough, three years after Brent’s birth, our son, Tom, was born. So, I decided that those dreams of a daughter were probably just crazy, wishful thinking on my part.

After Tom’s birth, I assumed that we were done having children. But, one time, while kneeling for family prayer, I had an impression that there was someone missing from our family, and, after the prayer, I said so to my family. About two years after Tom’s birth, I became pregnant. Could it be my dream girl?

Sometime in December 1985, I was having serious complications with the pregnancy. I did not want to lose this baby, so I asked Jim for a priesthood blessing. During the blessing, Jim paused for quite some time and then proceeded to promise me that I would be fine.

I was devastated on January 4, 1986 when I miscarried. On that day, I went into painful labor for about an hour. I began bleeding and hurried into the bathroom. Before I could sit down, I heard a little thump. The little precious being was on the floor, laying on its back, looking so peaceful. I went into shock and said, "The baby's cold—I need to get a blanket." Jim hurried in to find me in a daze and babbling. I was in such a deep state of shock that Jim needed to gently shake me and softly, but bluntly say, "Linda, the baby is dead." Jim reverently collected and wrapped the little fetus while I cleaned myself up and dressed. We then drove to the hospital. I was numb with shock and pain, and I cried uncontrollably. The hospital nurses told us they couldn't tell why I miscarried or the gender of the baby because it was only about 12 weeks old. I was devastated that I had lost the baby. Even though it wasn’t logical, emotionally I felt like a complete failure as a woman. It was a day of total sadness.

I grieved just like any person would grieve over a lost loved one, and my grief went on for over a year. I remember many nights when, after my husband was asleep, I would go quietly into the living room and pour out my soul to the Lord. One night in particular, my prayer was unusually long and enormously gut-wrenching for me. I pleaded with every ounce of my being that God would please send his tender mercies and give me comfort. I hoped with all my heart that I wasn’t yet done with childbearing, and that we could have one more child. I told God my dreams of a little girl, and begged him that he would send us a daughter.

During those dark days, Jim revealed to me that he knew I would miscarry. When he gave me a priesthood blessing the previous December, the Spirit of God had told him that I would lose the baby, but he was forbidden to tell me because of how terribly upsetting it would be to me. That was why there was a long pause during his blessing. It was extremely difficult for him, knowing what he did and he couldn’t tell me. But, when he did, I knew that God loved me and I felt comfort about the miscarriage. Even so, my grief didn’t go away.

Just a few weeks after my soul-wrenching prayer, I was delighted to learn that I was pregnant. (I had given most of my baby things away prior to that prayer—probably not a great act of faith on my part!) Would this be my dream daughter?

In those days, there was no way to fully determine the gender of the baby prior to birth. I became concerned when all the signs of my pregnancy pointed to another boy. Even the doctor and nurses who gave me prenatal care thought it would be a boy. Consequently, Jim and I tentatively decided on a name for the baby, Kevin Benjamin Hartley. When I went in for my delivery, I was still sad and a bit depressed—more Cub Scouts, more rain gutter regattas, and more pinewood derbies! Arrrg! When the baby was delivered, we were all completely surprised! To my sudden joy and absolute elation, out came my little dream girl!

We named her Angela because it was as if God had sent us a little angel. Interestingly, the name, Angela, means "messenger of gods." It’s a beautiful name, isn't it? I prayed her here, and we tell Angela this story many times so she knows she was wanted and dearly loved.

In hindsight, the Lord’s blessing to me through Jim came true. I was fine—in the Lord's time and in the Lord's way. Angela came during a challenging time in our family. Our sweet little angel softened the strained atmosphere and comforted us when we really needed it!

What did I learn from those experiences? The Lord knows what He's doing. The Lord's timing taught me that what the prophet Isaiah said is true: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8). I was also reminded, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

-----------------------------------


Adapted by James E. Hartley from a letter written by his wife, Linda F. Hartley. The letter was written to a niece who had miscarried. The letter was dated April 29, 2012. Linda also reviewed this adaption.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

My Mother Linda Hartley - Her Deseret Industries Mission

My mother, Linda Hartley, gave a talk about her experience of being a service / welfare missionary at Deseret Industries quite some years ago. To me, this is a good reminder of the blessings of church callings and giving service to others. Below are my mother's words:

***

Linda with her students
Around December of 1995, our bishop (who was also my husband) called me to be a part-time service/welfare missionary at Deseret Industries in Murray, Utah. I taught English as a second language to over 20 foreigners from January 22, 1996 to January 23, 1997.

Deseret Industries ("D.I.") is a church owned thrift store. A newly constructed sign now reads, "Thrift Store and Training Center." The training center part of the sign was a recent addition. It helps people understand the real purpose of this great program of the church.   

What is so incredible about this program is that it works! It works because it is an inspired program of the Lord. By donating second hand clothing and other items to this store, it gives employees of D.I. needed jobs and lifetime skills. When the public supports this store by buying its products, they are helping the employees earn their wage, and in turn, blessing the needy.

Not everything at D.I. is second hand. Items such as furniture, tables, and mattresses are made there. Much of the upholstery material is donated by other companies and the material is of very high quality. Even the president of our church bought a mattress set through Deseret Industries.

Beautiful baby quilts and larger quilts are made by volunteers in the Homecraft department. The material they use is donated by people such as you and me. Then, these quilts are made available at no cost to others in need by being distributed through the church's other welfare arm, the "bishop's storehouse." The volunteers in the Homecraft department are called, like I was, to serve as a volunteer for at least one year. Being a D.I. service/welfare missionary is one of the best church callings to have. There is a very special feeling when we are serving others.

Linda with some other students
Sometimes the needy are those whose only barrier is language. And, not everyone employed at D.I. is physically or mentally handicapped. There are those who come to this country seeking a better life and need basic, survival English to thrive here.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be teaching English as a second language. Many people asked me if I had a lot of experience teaching English, or if I had knowledge in foreign languages. I laughed and said, "Not at all! I haven’t used my Spanish since I was 15 years old." That two year Spanish course in junior high school was now pretty rusty, but it helped at times.  

I wondered many times why the bishop had asked me to be a service missionary. But then I remembered my patriarchal blessing which reminded me that I would be called to positions of authority to help those less fortunate than myself. I often wondered what that meant. And that phrase from my blessing kept echoing in my mind as I served as a service/welfare missionary to teach English.

I first taught about four classes a week for the first four months of my mission. Thereafter, I taught two classes per week. Each class met twice a week for an hour. Our classes were small, with about five people per class attending. We would meet upstairs in the classroom area of the D.I. building.

There are about 6 volunteer teachers and over 50 employees taking classes. The students are all given an oral English test. Then, after assessing their ability, they are assigned to a certain level. I taught two levels of English--both basic levels, but one higher than another. We were never given a lot of information about these people. Sometimes it would be weeks until I discovered if someone was illiterate in their own language.

It was an honor to teach English at D.I. The people I worked with have become my dearest and sweetest friends whom I dearly love. The most special class was a class with four Spanish-speaking ladies who shook my hand, hugged and kissed me every time they entered and left class. It was, "Thank you, Professora, Linda!" They were so grateful! English was very difficult for them, with some of the ladies in their 60's and 70's trying to tackle it. As teachers, we tried to teach them simple phrases or questions.

Linda with her students again
My most challenging class was the class with two Bosnian women, a Pakistani woman, a Russian woman and a Mexican man. The Bosnians and Spanish speakers have a very similar alphabet as we do, but the Russian and Pakistani do not. It was a challenge for the Russian and Pakistani to read or write English, but they were so willing and hard-working.  

The Spirit of the Lord prompted me many times to know WHAT to teach or how to teach. For example, I felt very impressed to teach phonic skills to the Bosnians and Spanish students. At the time, my daughter Angela was in 2nd grade, and her 2nd grade teacher had a phonics sheet. There were about 50 phonograms--no wonder English is so difficult.  

This calling came to me at a very critical time in my life. It was a healing balm during a pretty rugged time. The Lord knew I would be going through a personally challenging situation, so He offered me a wonderful opportunity to serve those less fortunate than myself. My life was blessed because of it, as I hope their lives were a bit richer and fuller. I am grateful for an inspired bishop.

Accept your church callings faithfully even though you might have some reservations about them. The blessings of our calling make a difference not only in our life, but in the lives of others. It buoyed my spirits and convinced me more than ever that service to others is vital.

The scripture in Doctrine & Convenants 11:13, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy," is true. I also love the scripture in Doctrine & Covenants 6:36, "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."

*** (End of Linda's Words)

Below is also a great and brief video produced by Deseret Industries about some of the work and service it provides to others. I had no idea Deseret Industries does as much as it does. What a great organization! More videos can also be found here.



***

Adapted from a talk Linda F. Hartley gave some time after her Deseret Industries mission ended. Additionally, as of August 2017, the D.I. may no longer be offering all the same services or trainings as described in her address. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

My Uncle Rich Hartley - Determined to Run

This is an inspiring family story about my uncle, Richard M Hartley, written by his brother (my dad) Jim Hartley. It has helped strengthen my resolve to react to adversity with faith and determination. Below are my father's words:

Rich Hartley: Determined to Run

Although he earned it decades ago, Richard M Hartley still has his red letterman sweater from high school. But for him, it’s not just a reminder of glory days long ago; it carries a much deeper meaning.

The sweater is woven in the school’s colors, red and black. His name is embroidered on it. Dominating the sweater is a large block “A” for Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo, California. Pinned to the top of the letter is the winged foot of Mercury representing cross country and track, the two sports in which he lettered. The three stripes on the left sleeve announce his three years as a varsity runner. Above the stripes are two stars: the yellow star for being on the 1967 team that won the league’s track championship, and the black star for being captain of the cross-country team. Overlapping the three stripes are six medals for top individual honors at various track and cross-country events. The “67” below the right pocket represents the year he graduated.

Very few athletes at Arroyo High School could match the accomplishments celebrated on Rich’s letterman sweater. And, very few knew the near-tragic story that originally kindled Rich’s strength and determination.

In a way, you can credit Rich’s athletic success to two things: (1) his neighbor, Mrs. Lunders, who nearly ran over him with her car, and (2) the Boy Scouts.

One Saturday morning in May 1964, 15-year-old Richard was riding his bicycle northbound on Via Alamitos, barely a half-a-block from his home. At the same time, Mrs. Lunders was driving eastbound on Via Coralla. She stopped at its intersection with Via Alamitos. Not seeing Rich because of the morning sun, she accelerated into her right turn just as Rich rode in front of her. The next thing she knew, Richard and his bicycle were pinned under her front bumper. The bicycle’s left pedal was bent into the shape of a scoop, which had gouged out a one-inch chunk of tissue above Rich’s left heel. It broke his ankle and came within millimeters of severing his Achilles tendon. Rich laid in the street bleeding and in pain. Mrs. Lunders became hysterical.

Neighbors quickly gathered at the accident scene. Rich’s mother was summoned. She drove him home, bound his injury as best she could, and rushed him to their family doctor. Rich eventually left the doctor’s office with his left leg and foot cleaned up, bones set, and immobilized. Soon thereafter, his leg, ankle, and foot were wrapped in a thick plaster cast with a special rubber walking pad on the bottom. He was also issued a crutch and a wheelchair. 

Ah, the wheelchair! Not one to miss an opportunity, Rich basked in sympathy and attention at school by having friends sign the cast on his elevated leg, and by persuading cute girls to push him in his wheelchair to his various classes during the final few weeks of school.

Summer came. The cast was soon removed, and Rich realized how weak his left leg was. That was especially discouraging because Rich had his mind set on achieving Boy Scout’s highest rank of Eagle. One of the rank’s many prerequisites was earning a merit badge called “Personal Fitness.” Among other things, the merit badge required a scout to run a mile each day during a one-month period, and document improvement in his performance. Considering how the accident had weakened his left leg, earning the Personal Fitness merit badge would be a huge challenge.

But Rich was determined to run. By the end of July, his leg was strong enough to begin. After a month, Rich earned the merit badge, and both of his legs were stronger than they had ever been.

In September, when Rich began his sophomore year, you could say that he hit the ground running. A few days into the new school year, his physical education teacher noticed how Rich flew past his schoolmates during distance runs and finished light years ahead of them. That teacher happened to be Mr. Ryan, the school’s cross-country coach, and he was eager to make Rich his newest recruit.

Reluctantly, Rich agreed to shift his PE class to the last period of the school day so that he could work out with the school’s top athletes under Coach Ryan. He started out competing at the junior varsity level. At the end of his first cross-country season, the Hayward Area Athletic League held a league-wide cross-country final competition for both varsity and junior varsity runners. Because Rich had previously competed well against the other eight schools during the year, he qualified for the league’s finals. Before the meet, Coach Ryan announced to his runners that those who had the top 10 best times for Arroyo would receive varsity letters. Rich clocked a time that tied him for 10th place for the school—something unexpected of a sophomore. That performance qualified him for the varsity team and, therefore, his block letter.

During his junior and senior years, Rich became one of the school’s top distance runners. In addition to cross-country, Rich was recruited by the track coach to run the half-mile—880 yards. [Today that event is known as the 800 meters.] Subsequently, in his junior year, Rich also lettered in track. In his senior year, he was chosen by the cross-country team as its captain. He also set a school track record for the half-mile that was unbeaten for more than 10 years.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made this profound observation: “It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.”

To Rich’s credit, his story developed well, when it could have easily turned out poorly. There he was at age 15, lying in the street, broken and bleeding from an automobile/bicycle accident. He was disabled for a number of weeks. Little did he know at the time that his determination to overcome that near-tragic adversity would not only help him become an Eagle Scout, but it opened the door to becoming a future star athlete at Arroyo High School.

So, today, decades later, when Richard sees the block letter “A” on his red letterman sweater, he knows that the “A” not only represents his past accomplishments, it is also a stark reminder to him of the fragile relationship between adversity and attitude.

-------------------------------------------------


NOTE: In 1967, the Hayward Area Athletic League consisted of the following 9 high schools: Arroyo HS (San Lorenzo), San Lorenzo HS (San Lorenzo), Marina HS (San Leandro), Castro Valley HS (Castro Valley), Canyon HS (Castro Valley), Hayward HS (Hayward), Sunset HS (Hayward), Mt. Eden HS (Hayward), and Tennyson HS (Hayward)

Written by James E. Hartley (Richard’s brother), based on an interview with Richard

August 1, 2017


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

In the Face of Deception, My Father's Defense of the Truth

This was an awesome story and message given by my father, Jim Hartley, over 12 years ago at a church meeting. When I first read this, I was completely astonished at the lengths evil men took to defeat the Allies during World War II. But my father used this story and applied it in a spiritual fashion, which helped strengthen my faith in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope this story and message will be of benefit to others. Below are my father's words:

In the Face of Deception, My Defense of the Truth
Adapted from an address given by James E. Hartley to local LDS Church leaders in Murray, Utah,
15 May 2005

Otto Skorzeny
Otto Skorzeny.  Cold, ice-blue eyes.  Six feet four inches tall and 220 pounds.  A menacing scar running from his left ear to his chin. He became one of Adolf Hitler’s most notorious secret agents, and at one point, one of the most dangerous men in Europe.  Scheming, daring, and intimidating, Lieutenant Colonel “Scarface” Skorzeny of the Nazi SS led one of the largest sabotage operations ever directed against American forces during World War II.

In October 1944, Hitler directed Skorzeny to choose from among all the German services a special unit of “American” soldiers. They were actually Nazi Germans, who could speak American English. Many of them would be dressed in captured U.S. military uniforms. Part of this unit would be sent behind American lines as spies and saboteurs.  Skorzeny assembled 2,500 troops, including an elite commando unit of 150 men, who were the best English speakers. In addition, he accumulated a number of captured U.S. jeeps, trucks, and one Sherman tank. To these, “Scarface” added many more German vehicles and tanks that were “remodeled” and painted to look like their U.S. counterparts. When completed, his collection of “American” vehicles and weapons included 50 tanks, which were organized into his formidable 150th Panzer Brigade. Skorzeny’s troops were divided into three groups, each with a mission to capture key bridges over the Meuse River in Belgium and Luxemburg so that Hitler’s forces could cross enemy lines and crush American and Allied forces.

Skorzeny’s operation was code-named “Greif,” which, in German, means, “grab.” And each highly-skilled saboteur was known as a “Greifer,” or “grabber.

In less than two months, Scarface Skorzeny organized an exceptionally effective group.  He had them trained in American equipment, weapons, ranks, and customs.  They learned American swear words and slang.  They were also supplied with American identification, money, and even letters and snapshots from the United States. 

Skorzeny’s infiltration of U.S. forces was part of a massive German surprise assault.  On December 16th, 1944, 29 German divisions attacked in what was the largest and one of the bloodiest battles in World War 2. The U.S. and its allies called it, the “Ardennes Counteroffensive,” but, its more famous nickname is “The Battle of the Bulge,” a battle that resulted in more than 186,000 German and Allied soldiers killed, wounded, or captured.

After the battle began, 44 of Skorzeny’s imposters slipped through the American line and began running wild in “U.S.” jeeps and trucks.  They rode in and out of the American forces, scouting airstrips and supply dumps, and identifying weak spots in their defenses.  These Greifers blocked roads with fallen trees, cut telephone wires, snarled American maneuvers by mixing up road signs, destroyed U.S. trucks by removing warnings of minefields, and guided devastating artillery attacks.  One Greifer stood at a crossroad and directed an entire American regiment in the wrong direction.

Initially, the execution of Skorzeny’s plan was flawless.  The real Americans didn’t realize that imposters were among them.  But the plan started to unravel two days after the fierce battle began. Three supposed GI’s were taken into custody because they didn’t know the correct U.S. password.  An interrogation specialist broke them and uncovered Skorzeny’s scheme, including the 150th Panzer Brigade using American-looking tanks. 

U.S. forces were alerted and a colossal spy hunt began.  MP’s and guards stuck guns into the ribs of all soldiers, including high-ranking officers, whose Americanism seemed the slightest bit suspicious.  They were asked questions like, “Where’s the Windy City?”  “Who is Betty Grable?” “Who is Mickey Mouse’s girlfriend?” and questions about U.S. sports and history. Suddenly, Skorzeny’s ruse no longer worked and most of the Greifers again slipped back through U.S. lines to return to one of Skorzeny’s main attack units. Ultimately, the Americans repelled Skorzeny’s troops and Panzer units, but not before Scarface’s Greifers had caused substantial damage and confusion. 

Unfortunately, U.S. forces were not initially successful in other locations. Nazi troops pushed 50 miles into U.S. and Allied lines before they were stopped.  Ultimately, the tenacity of the Americans and a German shortage of fuel and reinforcements forced the Nazi’s to retreat. A little more than a month after it began, the Battle of the Bulge ended in an Allied victory. It was the key turning point in the war in Europe.

About five months later, the U.S and its allies defeated Germany. Ten days after the end of the war, Skorzeny gave himself up to American forces.  He was held in a German prison for two years before being tried for his role as a Nazi offender. But, on July 27, 1948, three of Skorzeny’s former SS comrades impersonated American military police, obtained custody of Skorzeny, and helped him escape.  Skorzeny remained free and fiercely loyal to Hitler until end of his life.  He organized covert neo-Nazi paramilitary organizations, and he became highly involved in coups and assassination plots in at least 7 countries in Europe, Africa, and South America.

Today’s “Scarface” Deceivers

In the epic battle for men’s souls waged by Satan against Jesus Christ, Satan recruits, trains, and dispatches countless spiritual saboteurs like “Scarface” Skorzeny—masters of lies, deceit, and fraud.  Among their many targets are the Prophet Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“LDS Church,” “Mormon Church”). They are trying to flood the world with anti-Joseph Smith and anti-Mormon misinformation.  But, those who genuinely seek truth recognize that not all so-called “information” is truth, no matter how well it is presented.  If we are na├»ve or careless in our learning, and if we don’t have the Holy Ghost as our guide, we will be deceived, sooner or later.  Satan’s “Scarface imposters” are exceptionally good at their treachery.

            In opposition to Satan’s attacks, I offer five defenses why Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God.

1.      Fantastic Claims, But There Were Witnesses

 Some allege that Joseph was a delusional fraud because of his fantastic claims of seeing visions, receiving visits from heavenly beings, and having translated a book from an ancient record made of gold plates.  When you think about it, Joseph Smith’s claims are rather fantastic!  He claimed to have seen and conversed with God the Father and Jesus Christ!  He also maintained to have been visited by ancient Biblical prophets, including Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and the ancient Apostles Peter, James, and John.  Then there’s that other angel fellow, Moroni, from whom Joseph claimed to have received a golden record.

Yes, those claims about visions and gold plates are fantastic…but, I believe those claims for many reasons.  One reason is that only once—the first vision—was Joseph alone when the “fantastic” events occurred.  For other major events, Joseph was joined by other witnesses.
Oliver Cowdery was with Joseph when John the Baptist and later Peter, James, and John appeared to them to restore priesthood authority and power.

Three witnesses, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer were with Joseph when they were visited by the ancient Book of Mormon prophet, Moroni. Those witnesses solemnly declared “to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people” that they saw an angel of God (Moroni) and the original gold plates of the Book of Mormon.

Joseph was allowed to show eight others the ancient golden record. Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jr., John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith, Sr., Hyrum Smith, and Samuel H. Smith saw, touched, and hefted the original gold plates of the Book of Mormon.  Like the three witnesses, those eight signed their names as a solemn testimony to the world of the authenticity of the ancient record.

On February 16, 1832, Sidney Rigdon was with Joseph in Hiram, Ohio when, together, they saw the God the Father, Jesus Christ, and heavenly angels. 

On April 3, 1836, Oliver Cowdery was with Joseph in the Kirtland Temple when they were visited by the Savior, Moses, Elias, and Elijah. 

Joseph was not alone!  There were, in fact, other witnesses to the reality of the visions and the gold plates of the Book of Mormon.

2.      Defectors Never Denied the Fantastic Claims

There is an ironic extension of those marvelous experiences that provide me with a second reason why Joseph Smith was not a fraud.  Of the twelve men just mentioned, who shared in Joseph’s visions and witnessed the gold plates, six of them left the faith, namely, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Martin Harris, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, and Hiram Page.  These had become highly critical of Joseph.  Two of them eventually returned to the faith, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris.  But, while those six were disaffected and bitter, they would have naturally unveiled any hoax, fraud, and deception.  Yet, even as defectors, they never denied that those visions and the Book of Mormon plates were authentic. 

3.      Intense Malice toward Joseph Smith

A third reason why I know Joseph was not a fraud is the extreme persecution and ultimate murder of the man.  If the Kingdom of God really was restored to the earth through Joseph Smith, I would expect Satan to unleash intense rage, hatred, and murderous attempts to stop the young prophet.  If evil had not attacked, then, frankly, that would be a sign that Joseph was not really a prophet, and we would not need to concern ourselves with him.  But, evil did attack, viciously.

Many times, Joseph Smith was ridiculed, maligned, slandered, beaten, taken to court on false charges, threatened, hunted, poisoned, and imprisoned because of his claims.  Ultimately, he was murdered by a mob of about 200 men with their faces cowardly camouflaged in black paint. 

Confronted over and over with malicious opposition and brutality, a fraudulent Joseph Smith would have given up and admitted his deceptions.  The fact that the “jaws of hell” repeatedly gaped open after him, and the fact that he stayed true to his claims tell me that Joseph was, indeed, a true prophet of God.  Otherwise Satan would not have worked so hard to destroy him.  And, Satan wouldn’t still be working so hard today with slanderous anti-Joseph Smith and anti-Mormon and materials. 

4.      The Miracle of the Book of Mormon

The fourth and most powerful evidence to me that Joseph Smith was a prophet is the miracle of the Book of Mormon.

Only a servant of God blessed with the gift and power of God could have produced that book.  Consider the unlikelihood of someone like Joseph Smith ever authoring such a marvelous book.  When the work was completed, Joseph was only 23 years old.  He had practically no formal education.  Yet, Joseph Smith produced a printed volume that is over 500 printed pages that are replete with doctrines, prophecies, testimonies, exposition, narration, parables, metaphors, similes, chiasmus, and literary devices characteristic of ancient Hebrew.  The book is an account that covers approximately 2,600 years and includes 54 chapters on war, 21 historical chapters, 55 chapters of visions and prophecies that agree completely with the Bible, 71 chapters of doctrine and exhortation that also agree in greatest detail with the Bible, and 21 chapters on the personal ministry of Jesus Christ. 

Linguists and statisticians have carefully analyzed the language of the Book of Mormon, and have demonstrated that no one man could have written it.  Their conclusion was that the likelihood of the Book of Mormon having only a single author are more than a billion-to-one.  Furthermore, careful, scientific wordprint (“stylometric”) analyses clearly show the work of multiple authors, none of which match the wordprints of Joseph Smith or his close associates.

Translating the Book of Mormon from English into another language today requires two to four years, even by highly educated and skilled translators who have computers, dictionaries, and comprehensive resources!  Yet, the uneducated farm boy, Joseph Smith, produced a 531-page testament of Jesus Christ in about 65 working days without any reference materials!

I’ve read that book many times.  I’ve prayed about that book.  I try to live its teachings.  It is another testament of Jesus Christ! 

I feel the same divine spirit and testimony of Christ whether I’m reading the Bible or the Book of Mormon.  In fact, the Book of Mormon helps me understand and love the Bible much more.  Because of the Book of Mormon, I have a much better understanding of essential gospel doctrines, such as who God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are; what my relationship is to God, my family, and my fellow men; the purpose and plan for life; that Jesus Christ really did  resurrect and lives today; that all humankind will one day resurrect; that my mistakes and sins can be forgiven; how to discern truth from error; and how to lead a life that is purposeful and fulfilling.

Therefore, if the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God—which it is—
then the man who translated it is a true prophet of God.

Anyone who mocks the Book of Mormon or denies its divinity has never humbly and prayerfully immersed him- or herself in it.  The Book of Mormon is a great book!  I love its stories.  I love its teachings.  I love how I feel when I read it.  It is holy scripture, and, as Joseph Smith said, “A man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.”  It’s a miracle book!  Without Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, I would likely not be a Christian!

5.      The Greatest Witness—The Holy Spirit

The fifth reason I offer is the decisive factor in my defense of Joseph Smith: the witness of God through the Holy Ghost. Through the Holy Ghost, God has confirmed to me over and over the reality that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, the Book of Mormon and the Bible are companion witnesses of Christ, and that Heavenly Father loves all of us as His children.

Not only does the Holy Spirit confirm divine truth, he also helps us recognize fraud, deceit, and evil.

Years ago, one of my teenage sons, a devout young man, acquired anti-Mormon information.  He considered himself a valiant defender of the LDS faith.  So, he attempted to expose and debunk the false claims of antagonists.  Before long, he discovered that he was no match for them.  He became confused, dejected, and oppressed by a dark and powerful spirit.  He came to me in great distress.  Together we prayerfully worked through enough of the anti-Mormon materials to clearly see how facts were twisted; lies and half-truths were substituted for the whole truth; concepts were cleverly pulled out of original context and placed in fabricated contexts; highly questionable sources were quoted as if authoritative; “maybe’s,” “possibly’s,” and “could-have-been’s” were skillfully presented as fact.  Most importantly, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, we sensed the spirit of the materials: dark, bigoted, and hateful.  Those kinds of mean-spirited materials can never be trusted.  My son is now better equipped with a powerful weapon for defending the faith: the Holy Spirit.

All religious materials carry a spirit.  When we pray while considering the messages of those materials, the Holy Ghost can help us discern their spirit.  If the tone or spirit of the materials is dark, intolerant, or malicious you can immediately conclude with 100% accuracy that they are not of God.  As soon as you know that, dispose of the materials. Do not linger with them or try to prove them wrong.  If you try, Satan and his saboteurs will wound you and your faith will falter.  Alone, without God’s guidance through the Holy Spirit, you and I are no match for Satan and his exporters of falsehoods!  Therefore, once the Holy Spirit identifies darkness, flee from it.  Leave it alone.  Trust in the Holy Ghost.

And, because of the Holy Ghost, I know that a dark, malicious spirit does not exist in the Book of Mormon or other revelations given through Joseph Smith.

Conclusion

In 1944, Nazi SS Lieutenant Colonel Otto “Scarface” Skorzeny and his 2,500 expert deceivers wreaked havoc among the American forces in the early days of the Battle of the Bulge.  They were military masters of deception and sabotage.  In the epic battle for men’s souls, there are many in the world today who are masterful religious frauds and spiritual saboteurs.  Do not be fooled by a mean-spirited saboteur’s misinformation about Joseph Smith or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Joseph was a prophet of God. The church restored through him is exactly what its name says, The Church of Jesus Christ. May the assurance of these truths saturate our souls now and forever, and protect us from Satan’s subversive lies and deceptions.


Thomas M. Johnson, “The Most Dangerous Man in Europe,” Secrets & Spies: Behind-the-Scenes Stories of World
War II, 1964, Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 468-475