Can God, the master plot builder, write you and me a happy ending, even if we’ve messed up the story?

Recently a friend and I were chatting online about a most stupid and aggravating character (Young Pere in “The Soldier in the Middle of the World”). Those of you who are reading it know that Young Pere keeps getting caught up in his own ideas of how things should be. Despite warnings and promptings, he insists on doing things his way, to disastrous ends.

My friend remarked, “I hate to admit that in so many ways, Young Pere mirrors my life.”

I had to agree. Far too often I’ve counseled God–told Him how I expected things to be–instead of taking counsel from Him. That’s how I got so much material for Young Pere—my own arrogant mistakes.

But then I told my friend, “The best part, though, has been writing salvation for him. Bringing in characters who help him, then developing for him an ultimately happy ending. Nothing has been more satisfying!

I could barely type those words before something big and beautiful bloomed from them: the idea that if I can so readily write a good ending for a character, couldn’t God also take my messed-up storyline and craft a happy ending as well?

I won’t detail my mistakes (it’s not THAT kind of blog) but I’ve made a few whoppers, and we’re still reeling, many years later, from some huge financial errors. So often I’ve decided there isn’t any hope, that this problem which grows yearly will go with me to my grave (the only way we’ll eventually be free from it).

But lately I’ve had this little niggling in the back of my head: What if there is a solution? What if God has seen the disasters caused by my younger arrogance, and has been quietly working on a subplot these past few years that will eventually surface and provide a glorious solution?

Then came to me the thought, “That’s exactly what I do. If you pay attention, eventually you’ll find it.”

In Moses 1:39 He says, “For behold, this is my work and my glory–to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

His “glory” is helping us secure a happy ending. Talk about a satisfying project!

I’ve written before that God’s the master plot builder, that through His twists and turns and even deus ex machina, He literally is the God in the Machine, frequently providing solutions and answers and lessons and growth that we never would have sought out for ourselves.

And He even provides miracles.


Little ones. Big ones.

He hasn’t ceased to be a God of miracles.

And maybe, just maybe, He still has a few plot twists and miracles waiting for me. Perhaps even a most epic and glorious ending. Because, honestly, there’s nothing more wonderful than making a happy ending.

And I’m betting He’s got one for you, too.


You look so tired, Young Pere. So weary, my sweet boy. Did you ever have a day of peace in the world?

“No,” he sighed. “Not that I remember.”

Then isn’t it time to let go of the world?

Young Pere let the words wash over him, some remote part of him beginning to accept that maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea.

Isn’t it time to try someone else’s ideas for a while? The Creator has a plan for you, Young Pere. It’s been revealed to me, and my sweet boy, it’s wonderful!

He rubbed his face.

Do you trust me, Young Pere?

~Book 8, the final installment, coming in Summer 2018 (well, that’s the hope right now . . .)

weekly meme Creator has a plan for you

“I’ve known more people to die in the last two years than have been born”

Late last spring I was contacted by an old friend to do some contract work. His company had a client who was donating a large sum so they could create a tribute book for Vietnam veterans. As a thank you, they wanted to help him create a book about his own life as a Top Gun pilot during the war, real estate mogul, and philanthropist. They interviewed him for hours, had the beginnings of an autobiography he’d already written, and turned it all over to me to compile and ghost write.

I spent much of June working on it. Mashing together three different accounts, looking up dates and place names, and turning conversation into a narrative was a lot more work than I anticipated. I had just quit my part-time job, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to pull it all together in a month’s time.

In July I met with the man, a fit and trim 84-year-old who still went jogging each day and rode his zip line that he installed on his property in Hawaii. We spent hours going over my questions, and he gave me more stories. He told me that he’d never been ill in his life, except for in March, when a case of pneumonia sidelined him for several weeks. He was still shaken by the experience, and was impressed that he needed to get his story done now, the sooner the better.

We met again in September, this time spending eight hours poring over nearly a thousand photos, choosing which ones to use, creating captions, and adding even more stories.

The goal was to have his life story edited and ready to print by Thanksgiving, so that he could give it to his family for Christmas. We didn’t meet that goal. Revisions, additions, reorganizations, and lost photos pushed it back a week, then another week. Every time my phone rang, I cringed in worry to see his name there, and more often than not, he was calling to say something was missing, or that something needed to be rearranged.

When a man has adventures from bear hunting in Russia, to finding a gold mine in Nicaragua, to driving a team of mules for hundreds of miles as part of the 1997 pioneer trek reenactment to Utah, then multiple trips to China, the Holy Land, and to his place in Hawaii where he donated extensively to BYU-Hawaii, there tends to be a lot of stories.

But we covered it all, going back and forth with emails and scans and texts and phone calls, and finalizing this, and then that. It needed to be right, and I offered many prayers that I wouldn’t disappoint him.

He wrote me once, after I fine-tuned something that he struggled to write, that I knew him so well. By then, I really did.

Finally, December 14th, it was finished and went to press. He received the hard-bound books, 250 pages worth of stories and photos, just in time to hand them out to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren for Christmas. He sent me a crate of oranges for Christmas from his orchards.

Three weeks ago he called me, looking for someone’s phone number. I found it, gave it to him, and as I hung up I thought, “That’ll be the last time I speak to him.”

Today, Al Gardner of Mesa, Arizona, passed away from a heart attack.


Among a hundred other things, he was also a pilot for United Airlines for many years. Early one morning in December he called to ask me to search through the hundreds of photos we didn’t use to find one of him in his United uniform for the book. The book was to be printed that afternoon. After an hour of searching I couldn’t find one, and I called him with the bad news. But later that day he sent me an email with this photo. His wife Kathleen had found his old uniform, he put it on, and they took the picture. Got it in, just in time.

Today I also got news that another man whom I deeply respected, a religious leader when I was growing up, also passed away, Harry McSwain.

And I feel today like Jaytsy did in Book Three, that in the last two years I’ve known more people to die than to be born.

I don’t have any clever or insightful endings today. Just this ending.