Paul Lamarr, also known as Cactus Jack, has created a Christmas musical that is capturing hearts in Utah. “A Time of Forgiving” is a musical about a man who has left his family. It is Christmas Eve, their anniversary and their daughter’s birthday. The wife depends on everyone thinking her life is perfect—and it’s about to become obvious it isn’t. Their daughter is going to learn about forgiveness whether or not there is a happy ending. And the husband will learn that he has to take responsibility for his own problems. Despite all the programs this family faces, the musical is uplifting and warm.

Many aspects of the program come from Cactus Jack’s own life. He was born in Utah, but moved to Australia in 1988, where many feel he became entirely Australian. Two years ago, he decided to sell everything he owned, return to Utah, and start carrying out his dream of writing and performing music. He rented a cabin in Park City and created a music studio for his guitar, grand piano, and violin, all of which he had taught himself to play long ago. On December 1, 2011, he took his first CD, a Christmas album to Deseret Book, which is Mormon owned. Lamarr is also a Mormon. They gently explained that it was too late to start selling his Christmas music this year. It took too long to get into the system, distributed, and promoted. He went to nearby Temple Square, the home of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, to sooth his sorrow and to reflect on what to do next. While there, he received a call from executive Debbie Simmons, an executive at Deseret Book. She had just listened to his CD and fallen in love with it. She asked for 2000 copies of it immediately. The CD became a Deseret Book best-seller, topping the chart in the number one position. They happily purchased his next CD as well and he began touring.

This led to the production of the musical. His goal with the musical is to demonstrate that everyone, no matter what he or she has done, is redeemable through the atonement of the Savior, Jesus Christ. The atonement is for everyone, not just the righteous. All we have to do is to take ownership of our faults and to invite the Savior to help us change our lives.

Learn more about this story:

Maurine Proctor, New Christmas Musical Promises to become a Tradition, December 18, 2012

About Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.

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