Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

“Just Try the Gun One More Time”

Posted by BrianJ on December 18, 2009

There have been some tough struggles for my family lately—the kind of struggles you can’t quite grasp and therefore can’t seem to wrestle down. They wear one down emotionally and spiritually.

I have to admit that after Elder Bednar delivered his “Tender Mercies” talk in 2005 Conference, I didn’t understand all the attention it received. Maybe I’m too much of a cynic, or too analytical, or I lack some virtue that lets me recognize (let alone appreciate) the tender mercies.


My wife loves her Christmas decorations. The day after Thanksgiving traditionally begins not at the stores, but at home putting up the holiday cheer. The centerpiece is of course the tree: an artificial pre-lit Douglas Fir with over 1,000 white lights.

This year it was difficult to find the motivation to even pull out the tree; we painted a bedroom on “Black Friday” instead. A few days later when we did set up the tree, only ~60% of the lights worked.

A few years ago we purchased a Light Keeper Pro, a clever tool that uses magic and wonder to revive light strands*. I applied all of it’s tricks, replaced bulbs and checked fuses and managed to get another 10% of the strands to die. Even the “Quick Fix Trigger” function entirely failed.

I used a volt-ohm-meter to check conductivity between sockets and identify any shorts or bad connections. I spliced in new plugs. We spent several hours, then several days, replacing bulb after bulb. We ran out of replacement bulbs and had to buy more, which unfortunately used a different base than the originals and so the new bulbs had to be re-threaded into the original bases. Our fingertips grew sore from pulling the tiny plastic pieces from their sockets. My back—which gave out last Christmas, leaving me paralyzed on the basement floor—ached and spasmed from hunching over.

We tried everything; the lights held steady at about 50%.


We gave up—several times, actually, and then ultimately just really gave up. My wife’s tree—her joy of the Christmas season—was unfixable. All those hours spent trying to fix it: wasted. We gave up on the tree and, in a way that was not subconscious but was unspoken, gave up on some other things as well.

I gathered up my tools, tape, packaging, bulbs, etc. to put them away. I was done. Done.

That’s when my wife suggested that I “Try the gun one more time.”

“No,” I replied. “I’ve tried it and everything else ten times already and it’s a waste of time. But fine, I’ll try it this one last time just so I can say that it failed every time.”



Lights!—on one strand.



Lights!on another strand. Then another. And so on. The tree was up to ~85%.

My wife asked, “Is this a tender mercy?”

I only sorta laughed in reply. Just hearing her ask the question—knowing that she considered that possibility—was for me a tender mercy.


I removed three questionable sockets and without even a click three more strands came on. Now all but half of one strand (at the bottom, in back) are shining—and that one section has been dead for years. Behold:

2 Responses to ““Just Try the Gun One More Time””

  1. TT said

    Great story. Peace be with you and your family, and merry Christmas.

  2. Robert C. said

    Thanks for sharing this, Brian. We actually had similar challenges with our tree, without as happy of an ending, so this is heartening!

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