Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bonding Time

How do you spell bonding with a teenage daughter?


Garden Miracles

Over the years, our family has had mixed success in growing a garden, but for the most part (and as a general rule), plants flourish when you take care of them. However, from time to time, we end up with seeds that start growing on their own, originating from many possible sources: old plants from the previous year, bird droppings, the wind . . . who knows. These unplanned plants, often called "volunteers" in the garden community, are generally unwanted, and I usually just yank them out of the ground.

This year, one such plant sprouted in my onion patch, and I was very tempted to pull it out along with a bunch of other weeds. However, I hesitated, thinking of giving the plant a chance to grow. On more days than one, I stared at the plant, wondering where its sprawling leaves and vines would take it. "What could come from such plant," I grumbled, thinking that the area of the garden could be used much better for other purposes. Please understand that I didn't want to waste my time and water on some no good plant just taking up space.

As the summer passed, the unknown plant kept growing and growing, expanding itself into the onions, on to the lawn, and up a trellis supporting other vegetables. I also spotted a strange melon-like fruit growing on the ground. It didn't quite look like a cantaloupe or honeydew melon, but it seemed to be of that family. Then, it suddenly ripened. We hauled the melon into the kitchen, cut it open, and saw a seemingly bland-looking fruit. Not quite the rich-looking orange of sweet cantaloupe, but when we bit into it, we were amazed out how an ordinary, unwanted plant could turn into scrumptious  treat.

Later on in the season, two more huge fruits ripened on the vine as seen in the picture, weight about 12 pounds (5.5 kilos) each. So the next time you think something isn't worth the effort . . . that something is simply worthless . . . give it a little time, patience, and care, and you might be surprised what it turns into at the end of the harvest.
So the next time you think something isn't worth the effort . . . that something is simply worthless . . . give it a little time, patience, and care, and you might be surprised what it turns into at the end of the harvest. Perhaps, that is the same with raising kids: don't count them out without the right nurturing patience that they need. Never give up!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Enduring the Race of Life

This past summer, I ran in a unique nighttime race called the Millcreek 50K, which started at 9:00 p.m. and traversed a number of mountain ridges, trails, and beautiful vistas during the 31-mile course to the east of Salt Lake City, Utah. One of the challenges of such a race is the relentless climbing that you have to make throughout the night while wearing a headlamp to keep you on the trail. There were times that I felt pretty exhausted, and at one point in the race at 3:00 a.m., I decided to lie down beside the trail and bask in the moonlight . . . mainly to rest up for the next section. At times, the thought of dropping out of the race crept in my mind, but I reminded myself that although it was somewhat slow going, completing the race would be worth it. Near the end of the race, I found myself on top of  ridge as the sun was coming up along the eastern horizon . . . a fantastic and warming site that illuminated the valley below.

This race in many ways reminded me of the race of our earthly existence: there will be some very dark moments when we feel we can move forward no longer. The blackness appears to wrap itself around us with little hope of prevailing until the end. However, by simply going on, the bright lights of the day will eventually break and dispel the darkness. This won't come immediately, but hope and faith tend to bring greater perspective into our lives. Will there be pain along the way? Absolutely. But the journey and what we learn along the way will be worth it for it is through trials that we learn the greatest lessons.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bird Watching . . . literally!

As a parent, I often (constantly) need to remind myself of the many great things that my kids are doing that often go unnoticed or underappreciated. This past week, my daughter had her wisdom teeth taken out and battled with the pain, infection, and an unexpected fever that unfortunately come on as a result of the procedure. However, in spite of all this, she raised a baby bird that had fallen out of its next until it took flight today. Now, that might sound like a simple task, but when you realized that baby birds need to eat almost constantly, then you realize the magnitude of the task. She had a cage sitting right next to the couch where she lay sick and feverish all week, and then was still able to muster the strength to give the bird the attention and nourishment it need to develop.

Well, today, the bird too flight from our home . . . a bittersweet moment, but the fact the bird survived is a simple testament to my daughter's diligence in caring for a small creature that needed someone to care for it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thinking Ahead

Having some predictability in life can be a calming force to help you prepare for future events; however, as my children have grown, I have come to expect the unexpected, and learning to embrace this fact can help calm troubled seas. Life is about learning, and learning can come amidst the most unusual of circumstances.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Effect of Dry Humor

As I was driving home with my youngest daughter, she mentioned that the other day, she had visited a friend who showed her some very old books, one in particular that dated back over 200 years. She commented on how cool it was to hold such a volume in her hands . . . the idea being that anything old brings with it some fascination and intrigue. Then, in my usual way, I commented that I had something that was even older, and I asked her if she wanted to see it. This really piqued (=to arouse or simulate) her interest. I mean the idea that your dad has something more fascinating than what you saw at your friend's house would arouse some curiosity. What could this old book be?

Once she said that she wanted to see see what I had, I then pulled the car over to the side of the road, got out of the car, picked up a small rock, and then handed it to her. "Here," I said, "is something that is much older than that book."

She was certainly not amused. What she thought would be some mysterious, ancient text, turned out to be some old rock in the road. My kids have gotten used to my dry humor, and they often don't believe anything I say. Anytime I start telling some story, they just roll their eyes and ignore me.

Still, I really enjoy being a father.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Investing in What Matters Most

As adults, so much of our time is spent in trying to get ahead in life: pursuing higher education, seeking out the best employment opportunities, buying a home, or obtaining things of material worth. Of course, many of these are very worthy goals; however, I wonder how fervent we are sometimes in investing in the emotional, not educational, well-being of our families, particularly our children. Someone once said that you'll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul (i.e., we can't take material things with us into the afterlife including "Employee of the Year Awards), but I believe the one we can take with us is the relationship we have with our family. Many the most out of every moment with them, through the joys and pains of life, is the fabric that will bind us together.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hope in Times of Need

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise”

- Oscar Wilde (Irish Poet and Novelist, 1854-1900)

 Many of the things that have occurred in my life didn't happen by choice, but I have learned that life generally isn't what we expect to be like, but rather earthly existence is what it is. So, when we are faced with challenges, it does us no good to complain about the unfairness of it all. Rather, if we can allow these experiences to craft and mold our lives, we will in the end better for it.

 Just buckle up and try to enjoy the ride.