Men are that they might have joy...

Author: Gary (page 2 of 2)

The Gift of Wonder

When I think of the many gifts that we have been given here on the earth by our creator, I stand in wonder and awe to think that He could be so generous. He truly loves us far beyond our own comprehension. How often to we just sit back and wonder at the world around us? Or are we too distracted by Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram to notice? Are we able to focus on the beautiful mountain scene before us, or are we more concerned about taking a “selfie” in front of those mountains to make sure everyone else “likes” it too? There is truly so much around us that is easy to take for granted! A good friend shared a poem with me a while back, and I would like to share it with you:

The Gift of Wonder
“As daily now man conquers time and space,
And ways of stars and moon grow commonplace,
Dear God, let us not lose from sated eyes
The gift of wonder there – the glad surprise.

Let miracles be ours, awesome things –
The deepened sense of reverence wonder brings.
As stars of Heaven lose their distance far,
Let it not dim the glory of the star.

Let us not lose the vision and the dream
In bitter conquest, calculated scheme;
Nor cease to marvel at the Unseen Hand
That guides the fortunes of this Wonderland.

Give us a humbleness within the heart
To see that God and man each plays a part,
That we may heed the call of frontier skies,
The light of reverent wonder in our eyes.”
-G. K. Chesterton

It reminds us that there is so much around us that we can so easily take for granted! Through our technology and innovation that now clouds our world and often our minds, it can be easy to not see the wonder that surrounds us! When was the last time you found yourself looking up and marveling at the beauty of the stars, or the gift of a sunrise?

How often do you find yourself walking down the beaten path, and you discover a dandelion springing up in the middle of the road, despite all odds against it? Has it been decades since you last laid in the grass, making shapes out of the clouds, or contemplated your own nothingness in the cosmic scheme of things? Everything around us is a miracle! If you just stop and look around you today, you will see miracles in every part of your life! These miracles are all God’s gifts to us. He knew what would bring us joy and happiness in this life! Let us not forget those gifts. Let’s put down the cellphone, walk away from the computer, and enjoy the gift of wonder all around us…

Living a Fulfilled Life

“We must not hope to be mowers,

And to gather the ripe gold ears,

Unless we have first been sowers

And watered the furrows with tears.

It is not just as we take it,

This mystical world of ours,

Life’s field will yield as we make it

A harvest of thorns or of flowers.”

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Right now, It’s an unusually beautiful February day and I’m sitting outside on my porch writing while watching my 9 year-old son ride his bike while my 2 year-old daughter plays with her little purse, trying to hide it in a tree. I love the innocence of childhood! I was observing my son a few minutes ago and just feeling grateful to be that little boy’s father. I’ve been very blessed! As I look at these children,  I also feel the burden that comes with the responsibility of being a good father.

I don’t want to be a good father so that one day when my children are grown they like me. I don’t want to be a good father to show the world that I am one. I want to be a good father because I want my children to grow up and be genuinely happy people. I know that all of the experiences that I have had in my life are there so that not only I can learn from them, but also so that I might teach my children through my own experiences. Part of the work of being a parent isn’t just the yesses, no’s, disciplining, and headaches that we go through each day, but rather the pains that we go through as we have our own difficult experiences and watch our children pass through their own difficult experiences.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it for you here folks… life is hard, and it’s meant to be that way! What we can do however, is sow what we want to reap from it! With our kids, we can teach them by example the best way to handle difficult situations. I often have found myself when in a difficult situation, much more short tempered than is natural for me to be. I am not as patient with my kids as I would like to be in those moments. What does that teach them? It teaches them that when then going gets rough, it’s time to lose patience and throw our hands in the air!

So if my goal is to raise my children to be happy and joyful people, I need to sow the seeds of happiness and joy! I have to purposefully react to those situations in a way that shows them the best way to live and be happy. I have to intentionally react to my circumstances in the ways that I believe are best for them to see, rather than allowing my circumstances to rule the way I react. Everything in this life is a choice. Every second of every minute of every day, we are making choices. Right now, you are choosing to read this article. Thank you! I am choosing to write it! With every choice we make, we have the option to let our upbringing, culture, or beliefs choose for us, or we have the option to consciously choose for ourselves how we will react. I prefer having the control. It’s much more fun!

We have to live our lives on purpose! If we don’t purposefully live our lives, then our life is going to live us and we’re just going to be observers on the sidelines! I know what I want out of this life. I know that you know what you want out of this life. It’s time that we each sit down and write out what it is we want out of this life, and then write out what it is that will be required of us to get whatever that is. Everything is feasible my friends… it is up to us to write the plan of how to get there and begin to execute.

We can choose whether we are going to reap flowers or thorns. It’s all a question of what we sow. That which is worth reaping, is worth sowing through blood, sweat, and tears. It rings true for parenting, relationships, careers, and anything else we want to achieve greatness in in this life. I’m sorry to break the news to you my friends, but the blood, sweat, and tears are a requirement for anything worthwhile in this life. If it’s worth having, it’s worth fighting for! I believe that with my whole heart. So let’s get out there and bleed! Let’s get out there and sweat! Let’s get out there and feel sorrow and cry! It’s worth every second. Let’s get out there and fight!

Conquering

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.”

-Carlos Castaneda

Every day we are each faced with new things. We have choices regarding what we do with these new things. I wrote a post a while back (which is now among the lost posts) about dealing with trials. In that post, I talked about how I like to refer to trials as adventures rather than trials. My brother quoted what Carlos Castaneda said to me, and I was able to relate. I really like the way he considers it a challenge to overcome, rather than a blessing or a curse. Everything is a challenge to conquer! We have the chance each day to be a warrior in our own right. With each choice we are faced with, we have the opportunity to start a brand new adventure! How awesome is that?!

So if we were to look at what we consider to be “blessings” or “curses”, how can we convert those into challenges to be conquered? Everything in our life, both good and bad, gives us the chance to grow. We can choose to grow from it, or we can let it control us. Personally, I like to have control over my own life rather than allowing my life to have control over me. Can we control all of our circumstances? No way! Honestly, we can’t control the majority of them! What we can control however, is how we react to those circumstances. Perhaps right now, you are reading this and sitting in the middle of a pile of challenges that you don’t know what to do with. I get it! It can be very difficult to conquer those challenges when they are right in your face! My recommendation? Face them. Don’t worry about conquering them yet. If that means crying, then by all means… CRY!!! It’s therapeutic at any rate, and I promise that if you first give it a good cry, it WILL feel better. The circumstance won’t change, but the way you view it will. Once you can see it for what it truly is, you will be able to conquer it, step by step.

Right now, I am faced with one of the biggest challenges to conquer that my life has ever presented me with. I am finding myself having to return to all of the advice that I have been giving you, my readers, over the past few months! Faced with the situation I am in, I have two choices: I can let this new circumstance defeat me and completely rule my life, or I can accept that my new reality is exactly that, my new reality, and I can learn from what I am feeling and I can grow into the stronger man that I know I am capable of becoming! I have been through more than my share of challenges to conquer over the past year. Without a doubt, more challenges to conquer than I have ever experienced in my life, and you know what? My life is 1,000 times more amazing than I could ever have imagined! All of the heartache, all of the pain, all of the sorrow, and all of the times I have fallen, have all left scars, but they have made me into a stronger man! I would not be who I am were it not for all of these things and I am truthfully grateful for them. Even though when I am in the middle of them… they suck.

So my challenge to you my friend, is to take each of your challenges right now, look them square in the eye, feel whatever emotion you need to feel toward them, and then make a plan to conquer them! You can do it if you put your soul into it! Remember…

“…And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7. Emphasis added)

As always… here’s to you my conquering friend! Go be the warrior that you know you are capable of being! Cheers!

Here is one of my favorite songs regarding conquering challenges, may it inspire you as well!

Finding Peace

Sometimes you have days or weeks (or even years sometimes!) where things just don’t seem to be going your way. You have a deadline that needs to be met, nothing is going right with it, your kids are in the other room screaming at each other, you have bills that are getting farther and farther behind with each passing month, and you just don’t know what to do about it! I totally get it… I’ve been there! Last week was one of those weeks where everything seemed to hit the fan all at once. It was very easy to get discouraged. I consider myself to be an incurable optimist, yet there are still times where I find it a new challenge to stay optimistic during some of those times. So what to do?

So what can you do when the whole world seems to be crashing down on you? Sometimes it takes simply removing everything in your life that is complicated, even if it’s just for a while. You need to give yourself room to breathe! Each and every one of us has the same opportunity to do this, and it isn’t difficult! God made this earth for us. I truly believe that. He made it so that we could enjoy the beauty of it. He made it so that we could be out in it, not cramped up inside an office, our home, or car. He made this place, our home, such a perfect place to forget all of our cares and worries! He made it so that we could go outside, leaving the rest of the world behind, and enjoy this wonderful gift that He has given us. He knows each of us personally and He knew what would get us back to ourselves, so we need to take advantage of this wonder we call home!

Tonight, after a very well-scheduled and accomplished day, I sat down in my office and realized that I was going to be alone for the remainder of the evening. What I chose to do with my time was entirely up to me. I love having the opportunity that each of us has to create my own life. So I decided that I was going to go out on a short bike ride to enjoy the crisp January air under the light of this beautiful full moon. I went out and was gone for only about thirty minutes. That thirty minutes was the best part of my day! I felt so alive! Nothing could go wrong during my time enjoying nature and the gift that I have been given. I even dropped my phone during the process and the screen shattered entirely. To me tonight however, it didn’t matter! Nothing did. All that mattered was that I was outside and I was happy! There is an amazing power in being outside and enjoying this wonderful gift!

My challenge to you is to get out there and be happy! I know how much the pressures of the world often weigh down on you. I know how seemingly impossible life can be at times. All you want to do sometimes is go to sleep so that, for a short period of time, you can escape! That only gets you so far, as I’m sure you already know. Get outside! Go for a walk! Leave your stresses and problems at the front door and go enjoy this wonder that God has given us. Do this whenever it gets hard. Trust me, it’s one of the many keys to being happily alive!

Here’s to you my friend!

The Trail of Life

I took this picture a couple of months ago while on a hike in the Rocky Mountains. It is a beautifully imperfect trail, which leads us down a path toward greater and greater beauty. Just like the trail of life that we are all following. None of us knows where our life will take us. Tonight I was looking through an online library of movies to watch, which is something that I rarely do. Amongst the massive list of films that presented me with no interest whatsoever, I found a classic film, “Forrest Gump”. This movie is one that gives the viewer a good perspective on American history while at the same time helping you to see the compassion and love that even the lowliest of men have to offer. One of the first lines in the movie is incredibly well-known in American culture: “Momma always said that life was like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna’ get.” I’ve heard this line a thousand times being quoted by anyone and everyone. Until tonight, it had no significance to me. Tonight however, when he said that line, it had such a large impact on me because of the experiences that I am having right now. Six months ago, I would never have guessed that I would be sitting here tonight, thinking the things that I am thinking, and feeling the things that I am feeling.

Tonight I am sitting in my office in an empty house, which is now where I live. There were no children here to tuck in tonight. There was no companion for me to kiss goodnight. I am in a place that I never thought I would be. I never would have foreseen this coming. I never predicted it. Yet here I am. I took a bite out of a chocolate, expecting it to be filled with caramel, but was surprised to find it filled with strawberry cream. Both are pleasant, but I expected one and received the other. There are so many things in our lives that we are all going to experience that will never be expected. I believe that most of us have in our minds an idea of what our lives will be like, but at the end of the day, we are given new trials and circumstances that we never would have given ourselves had we known any different, and we end up in a place that is as far from where we had imagined as it is possible to be. The amazing beauty of this is that we are given opportunities from our Heavenly Father to grow in ways that only we need individually. You are given trials so that you can become the best “you” that you can possibly be. Only He knows your true potential and what lessons you need in order to become what He has in store for you to become. I know that you are going through unique challenges right now. Everyone here is. If you acknowledge the fact that The Lord is the one overseeing this challenge, it will help you to have perspective and will help you to understand that He is only helping you to learn in the way that you need to in your own unique way.

Just as I sat down this evening to finalize the day, I opened to First Peter in the New Testament, Chapter 1, verse 7. It states “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” What an incredible way to see your trials! Your trials and challenges are “more precious than of gold”! In other words, the value that lies within the lessons you are now learning, is far beyond worldly measure! I especially loved that Peter related it to fire. When we are in the middle of one of these challenges, “fire” is often the absolute best way to describe it. It consumes everything, it burns, and it is beautiful!

I am so very blessed to have the people in my life that I do. So many have shown up that I have known for years, while others have come out of the woodwork that I hadn’t even met yet! I am so thankful for each of you and I truly do love each and every one of you. As a result of my own personal trials, I have been blessed with you.

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