Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Price of Admission

On two recent occasions I attended events that required “tickets.”

The first was the annual Boy Scouts of America breakfast.  USR sponsored a table there and we were enjoying breakfast and the excitement in the air as we anticipated the featured guest speaker, Chris Stewart, president and general manager of our local professional hockey team, the Colorado Eagles.  At the opening of the meeting, everyone was invited to stand up and join in the pledge of allegiance as the color guard posted the colors.  Then a young Boy Scout offered up a prayer.  This is America, where we may choose to participate in such offerings… and we proudly did so.  After the prayer, the Master of Ceremonies said that if the mornings festivities were to end right then (after the pledge of allegiance, the posting of the colors, and the prayer), it would have been well worth the price of admission.  I agreed.

On Memorial Day this week, my fresh college graduate son and I attended a baseball game- Rockies vs. the Dodgers- and yes, we wore our Dodger Blue at Coors Field (we all have our favorite teams to root for)!  The field had just been washed by a terrific downpour and the clouds were still blowing over with the sun peeking through.  On the field were three branches of the Military, all in crisp uniforms and perfectly aligned in rows at full attention.  The Flags were prominently displayed with a giant United States flag, pulled from corner to corner by color guard, rolling in the breeze.  A lady in the Military sang the Star Spangled Banner, and we were invited to remove our hats and sing along- which we did.   Afterwards, I leaned over to my son and said, “Regardless of the ensuing game and its outcome, this was worth the price of admission.”  He agreed.  Then the umpires yelled “Play Ball”- but the most significant part of the event was already completed.

baseball-game_webI pondered this a bit and realized that there are many beginnings in our lives that come before the “Main Event.”  Those beginnings are really the most precious part.  All that is required of us is to pay the price of admission.

The Dodgers won 16-6… I had to get that in!

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Posted by on May 27, 2009 in Uncategorized


The Pruning

A horticulturist I’m not; but I do love the beautiful trees, flowers, and shrubs that are now maturing in our yard.  This year they are especially beautiful after a wet spring.  The lilacs are fully bloomed and when I went up the drive to get the newspaper today, I just stood near the lilacs and inhaled for the longest time.  This brought back fond memories of my mother who loved lilac bushes.  Brings a smile to my face.

I watched a gardener trimming the trees late this afternoon.  I had neglected to trim the fruit trees last year, and while the blossoms were thick and gorgeous- like a giant planted bouquet- come fall, the tiny fruit was great for the birds but not big enough to make my famous apple pie.

In 1975, a kind lady in our small town gave me a little black book for high school graduation.  In this book, she wrote on the inside cover, “I have a little black book at home that I keep things in.  I have a few notes from talks, a few clippings from reading I’ve done, a few poems that I like, and thoughts that I’ve thought. I like my little black book, so I thought you might like one too… -Mary Jensen.”

What a wonderfully simple gift.  It took her a little time back then to type some things on a manual type writer that she put in the little black book to get me started.  Today we give gift cards or write a check or buy a book for a graduation gift, so reflecting on the time she took to make this gift for me (and probably several others) is humbling.  Let me share one poem from this old book that sums up the point I want to make.

The Pruning
It was time to prune the apricots.
“Only one bud every few inches of tree or they won’t grow,” said my Father.
I didn’t believe him though,
And I kept one branch all full of flowers,
For I knew that come fall they would all
Be beautiful and bright and BIG—-Ever so big.
Early one morning in fruit time
I ran to the orchard and beneath the heavy-hanging golden crop
I harvested my apricots.
My many, many, tiny apricots.
When it was dark I fed them to the cow.
I prune now.
– C.L. Pearson

Pruning has so many life lessons applicable in our time.  The laws of nature never disappoint us.  We can take these lessons to the bank.  I’m very grateful to Mary Jensen who took the time to prepare for me my first “Little Black Book.”  At graduation time, perhaps the lessons of giving (not just buying a gift) and pruning (taking care of the needful things in our lives) are appropriate to consider.

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Posted by on May 20, 2009 in Uncategorized


The Abundant Life

Lately I’ve been paying attention to the wide variety of media responses regarding the economic outlook and current state of affairs.  I realize that the instantaneous hi-tech world we live in can sometimes paint a picture we choose to accept.

I am positive by nature, so when I find myself in a negative thought process I’m disappointed in myself and quickly correct course.  You see, as human beings we are programmed to live the abundant life.

noose-on-treeMy wife is going through an emotional roller coaster as our youngest child graduates this week and soon moves on to college.  I talked about this before, but this morning she was bemoaning the fact that the house already seems “quiet and lonely”.  She is also a positive person by nature, but this comment rankled me.  Showing my sensitive side, as I walked out the door to work I said, “Have a good day!  Try not to hang yourself!”  I’m thinking this will snap her right out of it.

Now to my just created “Four Guidelines to Living the Abundant Life Regardless of the World We Live In”:

  1. TIME. Focus a good deal of time each day on improving someone else’s life.  Measure your success today by this accomplishment.
  2. GRACIOUSNESS.  Don’t use my example of reverse motivation (telling my wife not to hang herself) – but in all you to today, strive to cloak your actions with graciousness.  I’ll try to do the same.
  3. MEANS.  When we talk of the “Abundant Life” it does not just mean reaching a point in life where we have gobs of cash to both live and give.  Rather, the abundant life calls for us to give of ourselves in many ways to bless the lives of those we serve.  The widow’s mite, in both time and gifts, is as meaningful as the donor that gets their name on a building.  The act of sharing our “means” starts a universal principle that guarantees you will be living the abundant life.
  4. ATTITUDE.  I have been humbled of late by the great attitudes that surround me.  I have a friend who has been going through cancer treatments for over a year, and his positive outlook on life takes me to a new level.  A great attitude doesn’t come from a charmed life; it comes from the spark within that bursts to overflowing by following these simple four rules that create the “Abundant Life”.

“The abundant life does not consist of a glut of luxury.  It does not make itself content with commercially produced pleasure, the nightclub idea of what is a good time, mistaking it for joy and happiness.

 On the contrary, obedience to law, respect for others, mastery of self, joy in service-these constitute the abundant life.”

Thomas S. Monson

So, now that I’ve convinced at least myself that living the abundant life is within our reach, I will call my wife and apologize for my insensitive comment about hanging herself.  Graciousness- that’s what I’m working on today!

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Posted by on May 14, 2009 in Uncategorized


Let’s Play Hooky

I grew up in a small town where we typically “made” our own excitement.  I was in the sixth grade.  It was spring time and the fever was in the air.  My friend, we’ll call him Mark, hatched a plan to play hooky in the morning and ride his Honda 90 motor cycle into the hills.  That’s it- just ride into the hills for a couple of hours.  We’d be back by lunch.  Seriously, this is the type of fun derived from living in a town that is so small there was no such thing as pizza delivery or fast food… not even a gas station.  Like all towns in Wyoming with a population over 3, there was a bar, but we didn’t drink; and besides, we were sixth graders!

My friend was a “bully” type (very large in stature) so his ideas tended to be the ones we usually “agreed’ upon.

So off we went, bouncing over the hills on his Honda 90.  We must have looked pretty ridiculous- this very large guy driving and a little shrimp hanging on for dear life.  In those days, it seemed so exciting to be breaking a harmless rule like not attending school for a couple of hours.  The plan was to arrive late back to school, walk in separately and nonchalantly report to the next class saying we were a little under the weather.  No one would suspect anything else.

About 10 miles out of town, the motor cycle gasped and gave up the ghost.  Mark had neglected to fill the tank so our only choice was to push the motor cycle home.  It didn’t look like we would make it back before lunch, which was a problem.  His Mom called my Mom just after lunch.  She was a cafeteria cook and noticed that neither her son nor I went through the line.   There were only 15 students in our class, so getting lost in the crowd was not an option.  “Lorna, have you seen the boys?  Did Steve go to school?”

I got stuck doing most of the pushing while Mark rode the bike to steer.  Did I mention he was the bully type?  Close to the canal bridge about a mile from town, we had no reason but to hope we could get back to school late without suspicion.  Just then I looked down the road and saw a cloud of dust and a white 1966 Chevy Impala barreling toward the bridge from town.  It was my Mom, apparently on the war path.  Thinking quickly, I ducked behind a sage brush just as she pulled across the bridge.  Mark was left standing there holding up the motor cycle.  The dust was still rolling past the car when she stopped and yelled, “Get out from behind that bush!”  I guess my cover wasn’t very good, but I now suspect that Mark was actually pointing at me.  And so began the penalty phase of my sentence.  I still had to walk the remaining mile home and at 3:00p.m., she ordered me to my room to await my Fathers verdict after he got home from work.  No TV for a week (we had one channel), extra duty in the garden, and no use of the party line phone!

The lessons are simple:  1. When you’re breaking the rules, you can run but you can’t hide. 2.  There is such a thing as the Mothers Alliance- they have unknown powers of perception and work together like bees in a hive.  You cannot escape their reach.  3. Don’t hang out with stupid friends, and gas up the get-a-way vehicle before leaving town.

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Posted by on May 7, 2009 in Uncategorized