Rachel's Challenge - Accepted

Filed under:Inspiring, Journal, PTA, Religion, Opinion, Friends, USOE, Family — posted by Tyler on May 19, 2007 @ 8:28 pm

Rachel’s Hands

I’ve been involved with the PTA since my daughter began school in September of last year. I attended my second Leadership Training Convention on Thursday and Friday which happens annually in May. Last year I was inspired by Ronda Rose, Legislative Vice President on the Utah PTA Executive Board. She finished up her term this year and she will be greatly missed because of her ability to speak from her heart, stand up for her convictions, and truly inspire! All the effort I’ve given and all the effort I will continue to give will be, in part, inspired by this amazing woman.

This year I was inspired by the last workshop that I attended; one that I really didn’t have time to attend and one that I had to leave half way through, but the half that I was privileged to listen to proved extremely worthwhile. The workshop was entitled Rachel’s Challenge and was brought about by the tragic events of April 20, 1999 when two students killed 12 students and 1 teacher at Columbine High School. Rachel Scott was the first to die that dreadful day. But little did anyone know, except Rachel herself as she foreshadowed in her diary, that her death would touch millions of hearts.

After her death an essay that she had written for a class was found under her bed. The message of the essay inspired the family to share and challenge people everywhere to take upon themselves Rachel’s “Codes of Life“. There are five of them and they gel nicely with my personal beliefs. But put in perspective of her life and tragic death, they suddenly took on new light and meaning. How this girl of 17 was able to have such vision is a miracle.

I listened eagerly as Dana Scott, Rachel’s sister, shared her story with us. The presentation consisted of heartfelt narration by Dana along with video clips and slide show pictures. It was the best powerpoint presentation I had ever seen. I found myself watching Dana as she watched the video clips and I tried to imagine what she must have felt losing her sister and nearly losing her brother. I watched as her emotions changed from sadness and fear during the news clips that showed the tragedy of that day to pure joy when they showed footage of her as a child, full of joy (incidentally her middle name) and life. I felt myself empathizing, which has only begun to happen in my life as of two years ago.

Several years ago I had a friend who had cancer. I wasn’t being especially empathetic as I talked about the situation with my wife in the car one day. She chastised me for my lack of a Christ-like attitude. At first I didn’t accept that I needed to change. My feeling was that difficulties happen in everyone’s life and that you just accept it and get over it; a complete lack of empathy. But the fact that I recognized that it was not Christ-like to have such an attitude led me to search out that attribute and I began to pray for it.

Several months passed and nothing major had changed despite my prayers. I still had a general sense of disdain for other people’s burdens but continued to search out a change of heart. It was a hot day on the 18th of July, 2005 where Clint (a friend and co-worker) and I found shade under the curved steps of the Salt Lake City Library. Just as we were finishing our 7-11 hot dogs we heard what sounded to me like a skate board hitting the pavement, but much louder. It wasn’t long before we both realized that something terrible had happened. We ran over to where the noise came from and much to our shock we found the body of a woman lying face up on the brick-lain sidewalk. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but suffice it to say, the woman had jumped from the top of the library to her untimely death, despite what paramedics tried to do for her.

I was still unaware how much this event would effect my life. Clint and I tried to deal with it the best we could through humor, but as the days went on it haunted me. I found myself reading her obituary and all of the online comments from the online version on the local newspaper’s website to try and find out who this woman was and why she would do such a thing. Her name was Michelle Marie Macy and she was only 39 years old. She was a pharmacist and married, but had no children. She loved cats. She had family who loved her. I began to recognize feelings of empathy within myself, but the true change of heart came when I found the courage inside to pray for Michelle - a complete stranger. I prayed for her family and those who must be feeling the pain of her untimely passing. I experienced true compassion and charity during that prayer and when I finished I found that I was crying. The change of heart that I had been praying for had finally come!

I hope Michelle’s family will find comfort that her death was not in vain, just as Rachel’s death was not in vain. My life was touched and I learned a lesson that was long overdue. I hope that one day I can give Michelle a hug and tell her that I love her. I don’t know what circumstances she must have been going through to come to that point, but I know that Jesus Christ loves her. I know that her family loves her.

So it was with charity and love that I listened to the message that Rachel’s sister had to share. Her message did not fall on unfertile soil. I will take the message to heart, re-evaluate my life, and strive to improve myself. That is the Purpose of Life - day by day, week by week, year by year.

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On the Subject of Journals...

Filed under:Journal, Friends, Family — posted by Tyler on August 5, 2006 @ 12:12 am

I haven’t been the best blogger this summer. I guess I’ve been busy. Committing to write in my own personal journal certainly takes away from time to blog, but I think it’s really important. I’m still going strong; you could safely say I’m back in the habit. It feels good.

I haven’t read my old journals in a very long time. So I hauled the box up tonight and started reading through a couple of them. It was fun to remember things that I had forgotten and I got this bold idea that I could quote from one of them each day here on this blog. It’s bold because journals are generally a private thing. But I think this could be entertaining and it would give me a reason to have written instead of just waiting to die before great-grandchildren have their way with them. I might as well get some use out of them. Tonight I’ll quote from each entry dated August 4th. Side comments being made in the present are indicated with [this style of writing] and are there for the purpose of background and explanation. Here goes nothing…

8/4/1992 (16 years old)

I went to work again for Brock’s this morning [I worked on a farm picking and selling produce from the time that I was 12] at 7:00 A.M. I got home by 9:30 A.M. Jeff [Jeff Walk, my best friend] called me at 10:30 A.M. and then came and picked me up. I spent the day with him. Some of our activities included eating pizza and tacos and working out!

At 6:30 P.M. we came to my house. I called up some people to see if they wanted to go to a buck flick. The only two that were able to were April [April Reese] and Vanessa [Vanessa Ackerson]. I picked them up at 7:00 P.M. after visiting Andrea [Andrea Homer] real quick. We went to the mall and bought tickets for “Encino Man”. We went to Golden Spoon real quick to say ‘Hi’ to Lynette [must have been Lynette Anderson who didn’t go to Granger High School but I knew her from West Lake Jr. High]. Then we watched the movie which was very funny.

8/4/1993 (17 Years Old)

I woke up at 6:30a.m. to get ready for a dentist appointment at 7:00a.m. to get a cavity filled. I got home from that by 8:00a.m.

At 9:30a.m. I called Heather [Heather Stokes who is now my wife but at that time she was my High School sweetheart] and at 10:45a.m. I went to get her. It was so good to actually see her again. It’s been a few days. We went bowling at Delton’s and I bowled a 141. Not very good. We bought fries and a drink, too. That was good.

We came back to my house after but my mom wasn’t home. So we sat outside forever until my mom finally got home. Then she left again so we went in my backyard and played basketball. [Obviously we had some rules about girls not being in the house when my parents weren’t home. Good rule.]

At 3:20p.m. i had an appointment to get my picture taken for this year’s yearbook and activity card. When I was done Heather called and then I did the paper route with her. Then she took me home and I got packed for East Canyon. At 9:10p.m. Heather picked me up and then we headed up for East Canyon with her father. That’s where I am now. We played games with her family and now we’re going to bed.

8/4/1994 (18 Years Old - Graduated from High School - Preparing for a Mission)

I woke up at 2:20a.m. and was a little bit late for work [I worked at UPS at the time]. I got home at 8:00a.m. Heather called me on her break and told me what time her lunch was. I headed out there on my bike and got there in time for lunch. [She worked at some telephone company and it was located out past the airport! That’s a long bike ride just for lunch, especially after an early morning of hard labor at UPS!] We sat and talked for a half hour and then it was time for my long journey home.

I mowed Heyrand’s lawn [she was a neighbor] and she paid me $10.00. At 4:15p.m. Heather called right off of work. [At his point in the journal entry my writing starts to get sloppy. It’s obvious that I’m falling asleep and some of the handwriting is barely legible. I’ll do my best at translating.] At 5:00p.m. I picked her up. I had to tell her about a Lagoon date I just got asked to go on tomorrow night with Amy P. [Amy Pett]. She wasn’t exactly thrilled about it, but she took it well.

We went to Roundtable Pizza for an all-you-can-eat buffet. Then we went on a hike up to the Salt Lake Overview. It was in Millcreek Canyon up the Desolation Trail. We watched the sunsent and hiked down in the dark.

8/4/1995 (19 Years Old - On a LDS Mission in Dresden, Germany)

Today has been a weird day. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and got ready to go to Leipzig. We cancelled a Termine [appointment] with Herr Paul [if I remember correctly, he was an old drunk man that we finally convinced to give up alcohol. He was hospitalized so that his body could handle the shock, but he gave it up!] Then we bought tickets and went to Leipzig. It was a 1 1/2 hour train ride.

Once we were in Leipzig, we went to Mission Büro [office]. We got there at 11:30 a.m. We were a little late. He asked us if we got lost and went to Poland. [I probably wrote that because it was something we had discussed doing at some point which would have been against the mission rules.]

We were welcomed and we ate lunch at their house upstairs. It was chicken with potatoes and carrots. It was really good. President Johnson made it.

After that he talked to Elder Riggs [Aaron Riggs, my companion at the time] for a couple of hours. I had no idea about what though. In the meantime I helped sister Johnson make tortillas. She’s an awesome lady. I love her a lot more now.

Then it was MY TURN! I slowly stepped into the office. I looked around to see who was watching. I could feel the cold breeze of death upon my neck. I entered the cold, dark room and the door slammed behind me and locked. [Obviously, or not so obviously if I feel obligated to comment, I was being funny. I must have felt that I was in trouble for something and after looking at the previous entry, we were speculating that we got busted for being over at the sister missionaries apartment making them mexican food. That would be a no-no, just like going to Poland.]
Anyway, we had a talk. It turned out to be about the following things:

  1. Missing DSV [District Meeting] on 8/3/95.
  2. Staying up past 10:30 p.m. and coming home late.
  3. Members seeing us in P-Days [preperation day clothing - jeans and such] on a working day.
  4. A fight in the apartment with Elder Theurer about cookies.
  5. Listening to music that was against mission rules.

It turned out that we weren’t ina huge amount of trouble, but President did want to get it cleared up. He wondered if it wouldn’t be better to ship the both of us out of here and put us in a new apartment without Theurer. I didn’t that that was the best solution. I thought we could just work it out like adults.

I had a really goot talk with him though. I have a new respect for President Johnson. H has a really strong testimony. He explained to me tonight that free-agency really isn’t free. Jesus Christ paid for it. That’s the first time i’d seen it that way. He also told me that the Holy Ghost goes to bed at 10:30p.m. out here on the mission. He reminded me of the “Return and Report” principle and also told me the difference between practices and Eternal Principles. I learned a ton! [We ended up getting moved out into our own apartment, something I wasn’t very happy about in the beginning but that I got used to in a hurry.]

8/4/1996 (20 Years Old - Still on a mission, now in Magdeburg, Germany)

Church went good. I had to play the piano for church again. Jacklyn Gehrke isn’t coming anymore. [She was the regular piano player.] I don’t where she is. Sergej came to church again. He asked his Seven-day Adventist church if they’d give him the Gift of the Holy Ghost by laying on of hands and they said that wouldn’t be a problem even thought they don’t usually do that. That funny as heck!

After church we hurried over to Winklers. We had to eat really fast because they wanted to visit Sister Gehrke in the hospital at 2:00p.m. We ate and left in 1/2 hour. It was my fastest eating appointment ever. But it tasted good.

On the way to Winklers I made a card for Sister Winkler. It was pretty funny if I do say so myself. We introduced ourselves to the Millet Family on a tape that Sister Millet gave us. We made it exciting and fun.

8/4/1997 (21 Years Old - Married)

I cleaned the house today and watched some recorded stuff. When Heather came home we went to LakeView Hospital in Bountiful after I shaved my head again. We went to see Stephanie’s new baby that was born today at 3:12p.m. It was a little baby girl and so adorable, too. They named her Madison.

We came home after that and went to the movies with Jeff and Christy [Jeff Walk and his wife]. We saw “My Best Friends Wedding”. It was ok. [Meaning I hated it.] We came home and Heather and I went at it a little bit tonight. We have our little disagreements every once in a while.

There are no journal entries after that for 8/4 because I stopped writing regularly. I’m glad I was so consistent during that time in my life. I probably should have gotten consistent again when Samantha came into our lives. Oh well. Live and learn. (Some say “live and let die.”)

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