Friday, January 31, 2014

Tender Mercy

Love this article by Jason Wright.  Amazing how just a change of perspective can make all of the difference.
Good night dear friends!

Esther and the Pocatello ‘tender mercy’

I’d already been on the road seven days by the time I rolled into Pocatello, Idaho, in a rental car that smelled liked dirty socks and bananas. In one week I’d appeared at nine book signings, spoken to a couple thousand schoolchildren and stressed over every detail of my new book launch.
I was tired. I missed my family. I checked into my hotel and discovered something unmentionable left in my room by the previous guests. It was, truly, the trifecta of a book tour bad day.
After a quick dinner, I raced across town to the bookstore that was hosting me for the evening. I found it curious as I approached that no posters were up, no table arranged and no one was waiting.
Even more curious was the look on the friendly store associate’s face when I introduced myself. “I’m here to sign books this evening.”
Her one word response said it all. “Oh.”
An innocent case of miscommunication meant that exactly one person in the store – and, for that matter, presumably the city of Pocatello – had any clue I was supposed to be appearing in the store that night.
Calls were made to the corporate office and the store manager’s home, but without a flux capacitor to better publicize the event, the night was a bust.
And then the phone rang.
A local woman called to say she’d heard I was coming to the area and wanted to confirm before driving over. “He’s here,” the employee said with a sheepish grin on her face.
Before I could even think of accompanying my self-pity back to my miserable hotel room, two employees had set up a table for me and piled it high with books and autographed stickers. I groaned and actually missed my smelly rental car.
And then Esther Van Wart walked in.
Over the course of nearly two hours, Esther and I learned that I was in Pocatello for her, and she was there for me. We sat at the front of the store in oversized leather chairs chatting about life, trials, tender mercies and one incredible life story. Her story moved me to tears then, just as it does on reflection.
Esther, now 58, was married many years ago to a man who quickly gave her six loving children but little else. He was an abusive husband and father, and at her first opportunity, Esther left.
Looking back, Esther recalls telling herself and anyone who would listen, “Who’s going to ever want an overweight, divorced mother with six kids?”
Despite her struggles, Esther stayed close to the Lord and the gospel she cherishes. One week while teaching Sunday School in a small ward in Louisiana, she met a man from Texas visiting his brother.
A longer column would share the series of miracles that led them together. This one, however, will simply reveal that just six days later the man from Texas, John Van Wart, proposed with a sheet-of-paper puzzle.
With the help of seven stop signs in her neighborhood, she answered, “Yes,” and her dream of a rare second chance at love and a long marriage came true.
John and Esther soon had two children to add to the six he’d legally adopted as his own. They were sealed as an eternal family in the Dallas Temple.
In the fall of 2009, facing serious financial stress with John’s business struggling, John and Esther decided to cancel his life insurance policy. They’d been seemingly paying the bill forever and both were healthy. It became something they could live without.
And all of a sudden, they couldn’t.
Three weeks after canceling his life insurance, John volunteered to go kayaking with the Boy Scouts in Blackfoot, Idaho. The trip was a success, even if he returned complaining of a sore back. It was nothing a quick visit to the chiropractor couldn’t solve.
Three weeks after the kayaking adventure, Esther insisted the persistent pain might be more serious than a pulled muscle or out-of-place vertebrae. Together they went to the hospital and were surprised when a doctor ordered an MRI.
Imagine their added surprise when the doctor said, “You have lung cancer.”
“But he’s never smoked!” Esther said.
No complaints. No lashing out at God. No what ifs. I’d never seen such spiritual strength. Her faith could have moved the Idaho mountains that surrounded us.
Before we said goodbye that night, my new friend shared the final piece of her heavenly story. A few months after John’s death, Esther received a Christmas Jar holding roughly $10. It was not enough to solve their problems but just enough to change their lives.
I have counted my blessings many times since meeting Esther. I am grateful for my family, our health, for botched book signings, for my Father in Heaven and for the tender mercy of meeting one of his most choice children.
Esther Van Wart, you were right: Our meeting was an honor. But the real privilege was all mine.
“It’s non-smokers, and it’s serious.”
In shock and seeing stars, they asked bluntly, “How long?”
The doctor’s answer didn’t matter then or now. Three weeks later, John Van Wart was gone.
There could have been a thousand people waiting to see me in the bookstore that night and I wouldn’t have known they were there. I couldn’t have seen them anyway; my eyes were filled with tears.
My list of complaints shamed me: uncomfortable rental cars, dirty hotel rooms, book sales anxiety, a broken cellphone charger and being away from home. Across from me sat a woman with a smile on her face and faith in her heart. “It’s a new chapter in my life,” she said. “I wonder what I’ll be when I grow up.”
"There is always something to be grateful for."  ~ Crystal Paine
You can find the article HERE:

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