(This is an excerpt from the chapter "Strict Training" in the book A Return to Virtue.)

[S]tories of miracles, large and small, experienced by our family have added to [our] foundation. One such event occurred in the life of my Grandfather Martin in the days of the Great Depression. Jobs and money were scarce. My grandfather had a family of four—three boys and one girl, my mother. It was nearing Thanksgiving, and the family had no money for a turkey for the Thanksgiving meal. My grandfather was called in for a day of work at Perry Monument. He was a stonemason by trade and created beautiful grave markers.

But he also received a call from the bishop, with whom he served as a counselor, to go to the ward house to do some work critical to the progress of the building’s construction. My grandfather told the bishop he had to work, as there was no money for a turkey for the Thanksgiving meal. But upon reflection, he decided instead to do as he had been asked by the Lord’s servant. And so he went to the ward to work for the day. My grandmother was not very happy about this decision. It meant no Thanksgiving turkey.

All day my grandfather did the necessary work, along with several others. At the close of the day, as he was gathering his tools, he heard a noise in the organ loft. He went to inspect, and there on the rafters of the organ loft was perched a large wild turkey. Needless to say, that turkey couldn’t escape my grandfather, and my family enjoyed a sumptuous meal on Thanksgiving Day, returning thanks to the Lord who provided that miraculous blessing. My grandfather’s story has become a part of a foundation of faith that has been passed from generation to generation. I am so grateful for his dedication to the Lord and for his faith. Because of him, I know, as did Nephi, that the Lord provides the way for us to accomplish the thing He commands us (see 1 Nephi 3:7). And in the process, He blesses us abundantly.

I remember other miracles. When I was young, one morning the phone at our house rang and someone said, “Bishop, come quick! The building is on fire.”

My father ran from the house, dressing on the way up to the corner. Until that day, I had never seen my father cry. He burst through the firemen and ran up the stairs, only to see his office filled with flames. His first thought was for the records, and so he ran inside and got what he could and threw them out the window. Then he ran to the chapel and threw open each of the beautiful stained-glass windows so the pressure and intense heat would not make them burst. Then he was forced by smoke and heat to come outside and watch—and cry.

After the fire was extinguished, we helped to salvage what was left. I remember mourning over the blackened walls and ceiling in the chapel, but rejoicing that the windows were saved. Mostly I remember the miracle—the records that were in the bishop’s office were burned around the edges, but the vital information was still intact and could be read. This was a true miracle, and I knew it. Again, I felt Heavenly Father very near.

When we are in training for our own race, it is helpful to remember. Remember the miracles we have witnessed. Remember those who have gone before us. Remember their faith, their testimonies, and their willingness to sacrifice to build the kingdom here on the earth. And remember that the Lord’s tender mercies are upon all who love Him and seek to do His will. “The tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith” (1 Nephi 1:20).

As we learn more about the faith of those who have gone before us, we can better understand those with whom we have joined hands in bearing witness of the Savior and helping to establish His kingdom. We can determine to live more righteously as faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.


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