Turning the heart of the Fathers to the Children spoken of in Malachi 4 has meaning beyond genealogy and family history. Each of us during our lifetime has the opportunity to influence the lives and experiences of other people as our hearts turn to those we serve.

A little book

Near my desk where I write and compose my thoughts for articles and work, I have a small book by James Allen, entitled As A Man Thinketh. This is a treatise addressing the topic “what a person is in life is determined by how he chooses to think”. It was given to me by my 6th grade school teacher, Welsford H. “Gus” Clark, on the day I graduated from BYU Laboratory Elementary School.

On the fly-leaf of the volume he penned the words:

“If I supply you a thought you may remember it and you may not. But if I can make you think a thought for yourself, I have indeed added to your stature.” With Love, Mr. Clark, 27 May 1960.

I turn to this little book often because it reminds me that I am the master of my heart and my life. This gift from my beloved teacher has in turn, led me to have an interest in finding other such writings that fill my heart and mind with uplifting thoughts that I can share in my daily walk. A few of these that I have committed to memory and share with others whenever the opportunity arises include:

Facing Each Day

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too; …

“…If you can fill the unforgiving minute, With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run; Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!” (Rudyard Kipling, If – For Boys)

“…We believe all things; We hope all things; We have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy, We Seek After These Things!” (Author’s emphasis), (Joseph Smith, Articles of Faith, Article 13)

“…I will greet each day with love in my heart. And how will I confront each whom I meet? In only one way. In silence and to myself I will address him and say I Love You. Though spoken in silence these words will shine in my eyes; unwrinkled my brow; bring a smile to my lips; and echo in my voice; and his heart will be opened. And who is there who will say nay to my goods when his heart feels my love. I will great each day with love in my heart.” (Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman In The World, pp. 65-66.)

General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson when asked how he could remain so calm in the height of battle:

“My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave”

With such sentiments in my heart and my mind, I can face each day with its trials and tribulations, with hope, happiness, and optimism.

Thoughts of Gus

Brother Gus Clark did more than just supply me with a thought. He taught me by example to use my imagination, to explore and to express my own thoughts. To us eleven and twelve year olds, Gus was a giant of a man. He was with us throughout each day and served as father and mother, as well as our teacher. Not only tall of stature, Gus was a person we genuinely looked up to. He wasn’t above leading us in our games and activities. I well remember following him into a dark pool of creek water to catch toads, bugs, and pollywogs for a class science project. Gus instructed us and counseled us when we had problems; he pulled teeth with his pliers, and used his yardstick to reach the disobedient. He was strict, but a sweet cheerful teacher who openly expressed his love to his students. He led out with kindness, and respected us as his kids.

As I grew up over the years, “Mr. Clark” remained a part of my life. I saw him often, and he was always interested in me and my progress. As my youthful interests turned to art and history, he visited and took me on field trips to share his activities in studying and remodeling historic homes and buildings in various places in Utah. Even after I had matured and had a family of my own, Gus blessed my life as he was able to reach out to one of my sons, as a member of his Philippine Mission Presidency, to encourage my boy to be the best he could be.

Gus Clark, without being our actual father, was an example of a father turning his heart to the children. I thank my Heavenly Father that such a man existed in my life, and I hope I am able to pass that example on to others who come into mine. Thanks for the thoughts, Gus. “Til we meet again”.

As this article was going to print, I learned that Brother Clark was celebrating his 80th Birthday, a date he shares with Stonewall Jackson. I gave him a call and was able to greet him on this special occasion. Gus, you are in my thoughts.

James W. Petty, AG, CG is the Board-Certified and Accredited Professional Genealogist, “Climbing the Family Tree Professionally Since 1969”. He is President of HEIRLINES Family History & Genealogy, Inc. (www.Heirlines.com), the “Salt Lake City, Utah BBB Accredited Business” trusted professional genealogy research services firm, providing US and International genealogical and historical research for a world-wide clientele.

For Heirlines-Quality professional genealogy services, resources, and products including free genealogy, LDS Family History advice and expert answers to commonly asked ancestry questions, visit Jim’s website www.Heirlines.com for free consultations and ordering custom family tree research services, and his genealogy blog www.ProfessionalGenealogy.com