Men are that they might have joy...

Author: Gary (page 1 of 4)

Finding Joy Everywhere

I don’t typically remember much from my childhood. Call it self-imposed repressed memories, traumatic amnesia, or just plain forgetfulness, but there are a few memories that stand out in my mind that have, for one reason or another, stuck with me throughout the years. This morning, as I made a conscious effort to feel love for myself through meditation, I was breathing in deeply and feeling those feelings of love and peace, one of these childhood memories came flooding into my heart and mind like a wave flowing in from a newly-demolished dam.

The memory is a simple one, but one that impacted me deeply. It was in the springtime of my seventh year of my sojourn on this beautiful planet. My parents had relocated our family from Denver to Fruita, Colorado, a small town in the western part of the state, a little over a year before, and we had recently moved again into our second home within that small community.

The landscape of this home was beautiful and surrounded by alfalfa fields and cottonwood trees. There were horses, cows, wild peacocks, chickens, pieces of old farm equipment, crop dusters that would dive directly over our house to treat the field directly outside our back door, and enough dirt to provide the foundation for endless possibilities in the imagination of any little boy! I spent countless hours outside creating race tracks for hot wheels cars and would build entire cities, castles, pits of despair, moats, and forts out of everything I could find. The supply was limitless!

One of the many wonders of that place was a massive stack of old wooden pallets with which we had the freedom to create our hearts’ desires. Out of these pallets, my sisters and I were able to build the most spectacular fortress with a large empty center by stacking the pallets into four rows, all connected to one another to create “walls”. Each wall had varying levels, which created obstacles to overcome as we traversed the challenges and adventures that came from guarding such a stalwart edifice as we ran from dragons, saved princesses, and sought a new adventure with each passing moment. It was the most spectacular fortress and an excellent place to avoid the “hot lava” by staying on the pallets and hopping around to ensure that we remained safe from touching the dangerous magmatic substance, lest we meet a tragic, fiery demise.

The memory that often comes flowing back to me in my happiest moments took place on a beautiful spring morning as I lay out on that pallet fortress alone, staring up at the sky. The large cottonwood trees with their beautifully green leaves spinning in the breeze framed the most vividly blue sky I had ever seen. The smells in the air were of fresh grass, sweet flowers, nutty hay, pungent weeds, and fresh irrigation water mist. I could hear the birds chirping, bees and hummingbirds buzzing in the distance, and the rustling of foliage all around.

In that moment, I felt pure joy and true happiness. I felt fulfilled and loved completely. Something about that moment brought me joy beyond anything I had yet experienced in my short six and a half years of life. The sensations all around me were pure and right in every way. For the first time in my life, I connected with nature and the beauty that surrounds me every day in a way that left a mark permanently etched in my soul. I experience this feeling every time I witness a summertime thunderstorm or the sun rising over the mountains, every time I smell freshly fallen rain or see a colorful flower. This is one of the purest sources of joy that we can find during our time here!

In the stressful world filled with expectations and daily needs, it can be so easy to forget how much we are loved. The next time you forget to feel the joy in the world around you, I urge you to go outside. Play in the rain! Walk among the trees and grass that were given to us as a gift from the one who created everything! All of these things were created to bring us joy. As you place yourself among the beauty of the earth and see each gift that has been given to you through these simple things, you will find the love that you have forgotten and will be filled with the peace and joy that comes from remembering just how unique and loved you are!

Navigating the Exciting and Terrifying Future of AI

How to Adapt and Thrive in a Rapidly Automating World

As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, it’s hard not to be both excited and terrified by the possibilities. For me, the past month has been a true game changer thanks to tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney. And while I may not be directly in the tech field, the impact that these developments have had on my own life and work have been nothing short of astounding.

As someone who has seen firsthand the capabilities of these AI-powered tools, I can attest to the fact that they are truly going to change the way we live and work. And while I firmly believe that this change will ultimately be for the better, there’s no denying that it’s also going to be a huge hit to the economy and everyday life for the average person.

Man vs. A.I.

One of the most striking examples of this is how ChatGPT has cut my tasks at work in half. The simple language model of ChatGPT can do the same tasks in a fraction of the time and, in many cases, better than I can do them. It’s hard not to be impressed by the speed and accuracy of this technology. But at the same time, it’s also hard not to be a little bit scared by the implications of this.

As the world becomes increasingly automated, it’s clear that jobs are going to be lost. It’s already happening, and it’s likely to happen at an even faster pace in the future. And while this may ultimately be for the better, it’s also going to be a huge adjustment for people who are used to a certain way of life.

I believe that it will ultimately take a generation or two before things start to “normalize” and we begin to see the true benefits of these technological advancements. But in the meantime, it’s going to be a wild ride. And it’s important that we start thinking about how we’re going to adapt to this new world and make sure that no one gets left behind.

It’s exciting to witness all of this happening and it also terrifies me fair amount. Not for fear of the A.I. “taking over” or anything Sci-if like that, but rather that I am already certain that it is going to take a lot of jobs. I am frankly worried that the world is going to quickly outgrow me! It’s going to be a huge hit to the economy and what everyday life looks like for your average person.

It’s important to remember that the speed of change is going to leave a lot of us standing on our heads. That’s why we need to start thinking about how we’re going to adapt to this new world and make sure that no one gets left behind. We need to start thinking about how we can use these technologies to create new and better jobs, rather than simply replacing the jobs that already exist.

It’s also important to remember that these technologies are not going to be a panacea for all of our problems. They are going to have their limitations and they are going to have their own set of problems. If we approach them with the right mindset and we start thinking about how we can use them to improve our lives, then I believe that we can truly create a better world for everyone.

It’s an exciting time to be alive, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. At the same time, it’s a bit terrifying. As we move forward, let’s make sure that we’re not leaving anyone behind and that we’re doing everything we can to create a better future for everyone!

Good Timber

Good Timber

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees,
The further sky, the greater length,
The more the storm the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the starts
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

Douglas Malloch

It is easy to get caught up in the turmoil of life, especially right now while the whole world seems to be caught up in it. If there is one lesson that life has taught me, it is that true reward never comes from ease. Why is that so often so difficult to remember? Mostly because when we are experiencing the crap, it is very difficult to see outside of it. You’re covered in the junk that is happening in your life right now and it is difficult to see past that.

If you look back on your life, you will always see that it is the difficulties of life that have shaped you. It is the difficult times, which may still hurt, that have made you who you are. You chose to grow from them! They molded you, and if it weren’t for those experiences, your grass would be nowhere nearly as green as it is with the added fertilizer which you used to till the ground and to enrich the soil!

So, in this time of turmoil, remember that you will become stronger from this experience if you let yourself grow from it. Use it to learn. Use it to grow. Do this, and you will be stronger than you ever knew you could be!

The Real Secret to Toughness (Probably Isn’t What You Think)

I ran across this article this morning and it was far too good not to share. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

The Real Secret to Toughness (Probably Isn’t What You Think)

Written by Michael Matthews Please visit Mike’s blog here.

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

H.L. Mencken

It’s early 1916 and World War I has been raging for nearly two years…

This is a cataclysm unlike any other in history. The advance of industrial and military technologies and horrors of trench warfare are producing unprecedented levels of carnage and destruction—millions are dead and thousands are dying every day from chemicals, fire, shells, bullets, bombs, famine, and disease.

Troops, medics, and nurses on the front lines are surrounded by piles of decaying corpses and chunks of rotting flesh. At night, they sleep to a symphony of machine guns, mortars, and artillery on a bed of their dead comrades strewn about the floor.

And then there are the rats swarming everywhere. Well-fed rats that grow as large as cats, that spread disease-ridden fleas and lice, that can eat a wounded man if he can’t defend himself.

How can you maintain your marbles under such conditions, let alone your morale? What can sustain your sanity, let alone your spirit?

For many, humor is the only answer, the armament as essential as their rifles or bayonets, the last psychological defense. By laughing at what they fear most and raising two middle fingers to the Grim Reaper, ordinary people endure extraordinary hardship.

Pilots joke about joining the “sizzle brigade,” soldiers bleat like sheep as they march toward German machine guns, and fighters on both sides give shells cutesy nicknames like “cook pots,” “blue cucumbers,” and “Jack Johnsons.”

“We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here” goes the song sung every day. Trench newspapers mock both the enemy and one’s own officers, politicians, and home front propaganda.

How could mere wit and insouciance save so many people from a dark descent into derangement? And how can we tap into their power to raise our spirits when the going gets tough?

To answer the first question, let’s analyze humor and laughter through the lenses of history and science, and to answer the second, let’s probe the lenses through which we view the world.

Virtually all cultures stretching back to the beginning of recorded time have known of the relationship between humor and health. The benefits of joy appear in the Bible, which states that “a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Ancient Greek physicians prescribed visits to comedy shows to help patients heal faster. Early Native Americans used laughter as an adjunct to various types of treatment and therapy.

In later times, doctors found that humor could distract from the pain of surgery and promote recovery and treat depression and other psychiatric disorders.

Humor wasn’t considered a legitimate field of scientific study, however, until 1964, when Dr. William F. Fry, a professor of Psychology at Stanford University, suggested that mirth had tremendous potential for impacting physical and mental health.

His peers mostly ignored his assertions and denied his requests for funding, but Dr. Fry moved forward on his own steam and dime. In time, he produced landmark studies demonstrating several positive physiological mechanisms associated with laughter including the activation of muscles, elevation of heart rate, and increase in oxygen exchange (similar to the effects of exercise), as well as the release of endorphins and vasodilation.

Word spread of Dr. Fry’s discoveries, which attracted other pioneering scientists to what he was now calling gelotology (from the Greek word for laughter, gelos), and together they produced many breakthroughs.

For instance, studies conducted by Dr. Lee Berk and colleagues from Loma Linda University found that laughter lessens the negative effects of stress by reducing cortisol and catecholamine levels and boosts the immune system by increasing the production of antibodies, which protect against disease and dysfunction.

More recent research conducted by scientists at the University of Maryland Medical Center have found laughter improves blood vessel health and blood flow, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.

These findings and others help explain why laughter is strongly correlated with significant health benefits, including improved cardiovascular performance, increased pain tolerance, reduced joint inflammation, elevated mood, fear desensitization, and improved quality of life and wellbeing.

Research even shows that incorporating humor into teaching and learning environments can be transformational, reducing anxiety, stress, and tension, improving self-esteem and motivation, and increasing alertness, creativity, and class performance.

Teachers who make their students laugh also create stronger bonds with them and receive higher evaluations, which significantly raises chances of academic success.

These are just a few examples from the growing body of evidence that joy is a powerful but often overlooked force immediately available to any of us who wish to uncork it. It’s a primal, instinctive, and universal basic emotion that creates positive feelings and softens the impact of stress.

What’s more, we don’t have to wait for something to tickle us—we can “fake it ‘til we make it.” Find something—anything—to laugh at, and the constructive process begins.

And before you scoff at the idea that it’s so straightforward, consider this: If soldiers on the battlefront of an unthinkably gruesome war could find comedy in the absurdity of their existence, we can too.

One reason humor is such an effective way to defuse stress is it allows us to distance ourselves from threatening circumstances and reappraise them in more positive, growth-oriented ways. Research also shows that people with a good sense of humor find more meaning in stressful events and perceive them as challenging rather than menacing.

In other words, you can use humor and laughter to become more resilient. The more you chuckle at the vicissitudes of life, no matter how unfair, underserved, or unreasonable they may seem, the less sway they have over you.

As the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote in his Meditations:

“Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.”

Marcus Aurelius

When I first read that line, the message resonated with me but I struggled to feel it when confronted with highly destructive people, actions, and forces.

For example, some time ago, I invested a significant amount of money in a promising residential real estate venture being organized by a longtime “friend” of my family’s.

On paper, it looked like a home run: it had a prime location, buyers were already trying to put down deposits, and banks were already lining up to underwrite the project.

As time went on, however, the plans kept changing. The development got bigger and bigger, requiring more and more capital purportedly for more land, staff, contractors, and services.

As the financial demands continued to grow with no clear end in sight, so did suspicion among the investors.

Eventually, several filed lawsuits, and we all learned the operation was a sham. The developer had embezzled much of the money raised and never intended on building anything. What’s more, because I was a relatively small player in the game, there was little chance I’d receive any restitution.

Then, to rub salt in the wound, the founder shrugged my loss off as collateral damage. “Let this be a lesson in chasing after easy money,” he said.

The whole fiasco stung. This crook didn’t need my cash and knew there were many other productive and meaningful things I could’ve done with it. He only took the money because he could.

And so I was upset. A part of me didn’t want to turn the other cheek. A part of me didn’t want to look past the dishonesty, disdain, and depravity, not to mention the economic and emotional costs.

Fortunately for me, I have a funny bone and it won out. After cooling off, I had a good laugh. At the predicament. At him. At myself. What a ridiculous experience with a clownish parasite. A pure comedy of errors.

Even though I had “every reason” to seethe, I split my sides instead. And I no longer felt harmed.

“So other people hurt me?” Aurelius said. “That’s their problem. Their character and actions are not mine.”

Such is the power of what scientists refer to as self-enhancing humor—using humor to relieve stress and foster a cheerful outlook in the face of adversity.

So, try not to take yourself or your circumstances too seriously, even when the chips are down. You never know how your good spirits and tenacity might pay off as time goes on.

In my case, losing that money not only did teach me important lessons about due diligence but also allowed me to meet several other successful entrepreneurs and investors who have since helped me grow my businesses in various ways.

There’s a Chinese fable titled “We’ll See” that expresses this message beautifully:

A farmer had a horse, and one day, it ran away.

His neighbors consoled him. “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

A few days later, his horse returned with twenty wild horses in tow, and the man and his son corralled them all.

His neighbors celebrated. “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

A few weeks later, a stallion kicked the man’s son, breaking one of his legs.

His neighbors reeled. “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

The following month, the farmer’s country went to war and drafted legions of able-bodied young men to fight their enemies. Casualties were high but didn’t include the man’s son, since the army had no use for a lame boy.

The neighbors couldn’t believe the family’s luck. “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

Living a Happy and Screwed-Up Life!!! Dealing with Adult A.D.D.

I’m going to be very open here for a minute in the hopes that this post might help a handful of people (or even just one person) out there if you are willing the bear with me for a minute.

Every day of my life, I deal with Adult A.D.D.. I was diagnosed as a boy and as I grew up denied that it was even a real disorder. For years I resented my parents for sending me to a doctor to “fix” me. I felt like it was a cop-out for them not being able to handle a bouncy, rambunctious, and bubbly boy. I spent a fair amount of time in the “slow kids” classes throughout school as a result, despite the fact that my test scores far outdid those of my classmates. I was a fast reader and a fast learner. If it wasn’t interesting or engaging however, I quickly lost interest. In subjects where I was fascinated (Spanish, Language Arts, and Geography), I excelled! I remember the test results at one point stating that I could spell with the best of high-schoolers in just the 2nd grade. None of this mattered however for the boy who never participated in classwork nor ever turned in homework.

I grew into an adult and had been married for about five years and had two children. I had been suffering for years from the side effects of this disorder without realizing it. I let people down constantly when they expected me to follow through with commitments. I constantly forgot items I was supposed to do. I spent money very impulsively and struggled through some minor (non-substance related) addictions. Around this time while working through some of these difficulties, I met a man for whom I had a great deal of respect who shared with me that he dealt with adult A.D.D. each day. He then shared with me a list of common symptoms for adults with A.D.D. and it almost described me to exactness! I couldn’t believe it. I started doing research and learned more and more about this condition and subsequently myself than I had ever realized I could. The symptoms between adults and children are different. As one grows, the symptoms change and affect your life differently. With this new knowledge, I now knew with a certainty that this was very real and was not just an excuse for procrastination or “laziness”. I’m one of the hardest working people I know, but I struggle greatly to complete so many things! Thus, the perceived “laziness”.

When I was a boy, the people around me had a favorite term for me (unbeknownst to them) which was “annoying”. I immediately from as far back as I can remember “knew” without a doubt that there was something wrong with me. I was not good enough. I was different. Next to the other kids, I was the one who was annoying, obnoxious, irritating, too hyper, couldn’t sit still, you name it. I “knew” had a character flaw and was not as good as the other kids. Then I had to go to other classes away from my peers because my teachers couldn’t handle me. I knew I was a good person, but from a societal perspective, I was bad. Defective. I “knew” I was not good enough for anyone’s standard. This was a feeling that I was going to have to live with for the remainder of my life. At times it still affects me at 36 years of age. These things I “knew” are of course, untrue. It affected my life immensely nonetheless. I was a secretary on my LDS mission in Chile in charge of letters home and passport control. During that time, I forgot some very important things and never was able to get organized enough to get everything done that was needed to fulfill that calling and those failures absolutely tore me apart. With A.D.D., there is nothing wrong with you! You have unique gifts! You just have to handle the world and your circumstances a little bit differently than others would.

Earlier this week, I was listening to a book on how to better organize my life while dealing with this disorder and it struck me suddenly that my sister seemed to be struggling with the same things. I looked back through high school and realized that she seemed to be in the same boat! I texted her immediately and shared the book with her. I expressed with her that I think she may be faced with the same condition. She began to study it and read about it and during this week she feels as though her eyes have finally been opened. She may or may not have this disorder, but the simple possibilities being opened to her has been a life-changing experience for her and she has already begun to implement many of the suggestions that are already helping her to stay on task and to improve small areas of her life. Seeing what this has done for my sister has inspired me to share this publicly in the hopes that it might help someone else, too.

If you or a loved one answer “yes’ to 15 or more of the following questions (from, I would highly encourage you to pursue the possibilities further. You can still have ADHD even if you answered yes to fewer than 15 of these questions. This informal test is intended as a general guide only:

  1. I have difficulty getting organized.
  2. When given a task, I usually procrastinate rather than doing it right away.
  3. I work on a lot of projects, but can’t seem to complete most of them.
  4. I tend to make decisions and act on them impulsively — like spending money, getting sexually involved with someone, diving into new activities, and changing plans.
  5. I get bored easily.
  6. No matter how much I do or how hard I try, I just can’t seem to reach my goals.
  7. I often get distracted when people are talking; I just tune out or drift off.
  8. I get so wrapped up in some things I do that I can hardly stop to take a break or switch to doing something else.
  9. I tend to overdo things even when they’re not good for me — like compulsive shopping, drinking too much, overworking, and overeating.
  10. I get frustrated easily and I get impatient when things are going too slowly.
  11. My self-esteem is not as high as that of others I know.
  12. I need a lot of stimulation from things like action movies and video games, new purchases, being among lively friends, driving fast or engaging in extreme sports.
  13. I tend to say or do things without thinking, and sometimes that gets me into trouble.
  14. I’d rather do things my own way than follow the rules and procedures of others.
  15. I often find myself tapping a pencil, swinging my leg, or doing something else to work off nervous energy.
  16. I can feel suddenly down when I’m separated from people, projects or things that I like to be involved with.
  17. I see myself differently than others see me, and when someone gets angry with me for doing something that upset them I’m often very surprised.
  18. Even though I worry a lot about dangerous things that are unlikely to happen to me, I tend to be careless and accident prone.
  19. Even though I have a lot of fears, people would describe me as a risk taker.
  20. I make a lot of careless mistakes.
  21. I have blood relatives who suffer from ADHD, another neurological disorder, or substance abuse.

After sharing these thoughts with my sister and during her self-discovery this week, she shared a poem via a Facebook post that I absolutely LOVED and would like to share here:

Take my hand and come with me,
I want to teach you about A.D.D.
I need you to know, I want to explain,
I have a very different brain.
Sights, sounds, and thoughts collide.
What to do first? I can’t decide.
Please understand I’m not to blame,
I just can’t process things the same.
Take my hand and walk with me,
Let me show you about A.D.D.
I try to behave, I want to be good,
But I sometimes forget to do as I should.
Walk with me and wear my shoes,
You’ll see it’s not the way I’d choose.
I do know what I’m supposed to do,
But my brain is slow getting the message through.
Take my hand and talk with me,
I want to tell you about A.D.D.
I rarely think before I talk,
I often run when I should walk.
It’s hard to get my school work done,
My thoughts are outside having fun.
I never know just where to start,
I think with my feelings and see with my heart.
Take my hand and stand by me,
I need you to know about A.D.D.
It’s hard to explain but I want you to know,
I can’t help letting my feelings show.
Sometimes I’m angry, jealous, or sad,
I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and mad.
I can’t concentrate and I lose all my stuff.
I try really hard but it’s never enough.
Take my hand and learn with me,
We need to know more about A.D.D.
I worry a lot about getting things wrong,
Everything I do takes twice as long.
Everyday is exhausting for me…
Looking through the fog of A.D.D.
I’m often so misunderstood,
I would change in a heartbeat if I could.
Take my hand and listen to me,
I want to share a secret about A.D.D.
I want you to know there is more to me.
I’m not defined by it, you see.
I’m sensitive, kind and lots of fun.
I’m blamed for things I haven’t done.
I’m the loyalest friend you’ll ever know,
I just need a chance to let it show.
Take my hand and look at me,
Just forget about the A.D.D.
I have real feelings just like you.
The love in my heart is just as true.
I may have a brain that can never rest,
But please understand I’m trying my best.
I want you to know, I need you to see,
I’m more than the label, I am still me!!!!

~Author Unknown

I again hope that this has helped someone to consider the possibility that it may be more than just you having a “character flaw”. It may go deeper than you not being able to control procrastination or forgetfulness. More than anything, I’d hope to convey the knowledge that you are not alone in the struggle. It is very real and many people are affected by it. It IS something on which you can get a handle in order to live the life you truly desire. You are a gift to this world! You were given gifts that makes you who you are.

I hope that this helps you to become the best version of yourself that you can be. We are all in this together!


Creating Our Own Legacy

One of the thoughts that passes through my mind most frequently is the thought that my forefathers are looking down on me, watching how I am living my life. I often think about the way they lived their lives and find myself comparing my life to theirs. They were great men. None of them were famous. None of them invented anything that changed the way we all live our lives today. They were just good, honorable men who shaped the course of their own lives and indirectly, my life as well.

The thought that has occurred most to me has been the thought that I want to live up to the great lives they led. I think of my grandfather, John Clark. He grew up on a ranch in Utah and was one of the hardest working men I have ever met. I wonder if he would be pleased with the kind of worker that I am. I wonder how I can become a man like him. How can I become a man who is unafraid to stand up for what is right. A man’s man. How can I live up to the legacy that he left behind?

My great-great-grandfather lost his right arm fighting for the confederacy in the Civil War. He stood up for what he believed and made a great sacrifice as a result. How do I live up to a legacy like that? My great grandfather was persecuted by mobs and ultimately died as a result of that persecution. He believed in what God was telling him to do and never denied it. How do I live up to a legacy like that? So many great men and women in my family’s history and I don’t feel capable of living up to a single one of their legacies.

Then a few days later while driving home from work, it hit me. It is NOT my role to live up to any one of their legacies. It is my role to create my own legacy. It is up to me to live the kind of life that my children and grandchildren for generations to come will honor and respect. It will not however be their role to live up to any legacy that I might leave. I realized that I have a choice. I have the choice to create my own life, the way I want to live it. It is my privilege to leave a legacy that will be an example to my children and their posterity. I have so many amazing examples of great men to help me know what I am capable of. They left a legacy that I can honor and use as a guide to my own life.

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”

-Billy Graham

It is not my role to try to be them. It is not my role to try to be anyone else! It is my role to be the best version of myself that I can be. There is only one me and I want to be the best me that I can be. I want to be a man of character. I want to be a man of honor. I want to be a man of integrity. I want to be a man of God. What better legacy could I leave my children and their children than that? I will always honor and love my ancestors for their examples. I hope and pray that I might leave a legacy such as the ones they have left me with my own posterity. It is up to each of us to make that decision. We can learn from the legacy of others and use their examples to add to our own.

Live your life to the best of your ability and leave behind something that money could never buy once you leave this earth. Be honorable. Be of a sober mind and of good character. No better gift could you possibly give to those who follow.

Moments that take our breath away

“Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

I make vinyl signs as a hobby and have made this sign for many a living room wall. Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time on Pinterest or Etsy has heard this phrase many times over. I know it’s completely cliché, but tonight I find myself asking exactly what that phrase means to me. What are the moments that take my breath away? Regardless of the insurmountable amount of blessings in my life, I still often find myself in that search. In moments of despair or hopelessness, it can be very difficult to see even the smallest amount of light, much less find a moment that will “take your breath away”. The wonderful thing is however, that all we have to do is open our eyes just a little bit more and we will realize that we are surrounded by those moments every single day!

Last night we sat as a family and watched a Christmas movie. My daughter giggled through the whole movie and I took in every sound she made, which filled my heart with complete joy. This was a moment that took my breath away.valparaiso-vin%cc%83a-del-mar-16 Today while sitting in church, my daughter came to sit on my lap while my son sat next to me and leaned his head on my shoulder. They sat like this for nearly an hour. Both told me multiple times while we sat there how much they love me. This was a moment that took my breath away. Who am I to deserve such great blessings? As we drove this afternoon as a family, I looked up and saw the sun setting against the mountains near my house and it was absolutely beautiful. This was a moment that took my breath away. Tonight before bed, my wife and I talked together. We laughed a little and cried a little. This was a moment that took my breath away.

Every day of our lives, we are given opportunities to have our breath taken away. All we have to do is look around us. When the outlook seems bleak and all we can see is the dark and the difficult, we simply need to open our eyes. There is always a beautiful sunrise, a smiling face, a breath of clean air, a child whose innocence heals the broken heart, or the phone call of a friend. These are the simple things in life that will take our breath away. These are the simple things in life that make our lives complete. May you each enjoy a moment today that will take your breath away.

Father Forgets

“”Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, ‘Goodbye, Daddy!’ and I frowned, and said in reply, ‘Hold your shoulders back!’

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive‐and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. ‘What is it you want?’ I snapped. You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither.

And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs. Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me?

The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding‐this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: ‘He is nothing but a boy ‐ a little boy!’

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.”

W. Livingston Larned

I find it so easy at times as a father to forget how precious these little miracles in my life are. Every time I look into the eyes of my children, I see a miracle. I see wonder. As a child, I imagined what my children would one day be like. Now they are before me. My heart is swollen with gratitude for these angels in my life. I don’t think it would be possible for me to have been given any greater blessing, yet I find myself at time finding fault in them… becoming frustrated because I hold them to the same standard to which I hold myself. It is easy to forget in those moments just how precious they are. It is also easy to forget that they are but children who have a whole lifetime of learning before them!

It is my resolve to be the best father that I can be. I know that I will make mistakes, as I always have. In that sense, I am still but a child myself… striving to become what I know my Heavenly Father wants me to be. There are times where He has more than enough reason to find fault with me, yet he doesn’t do it. He loves me and each of us with a perfect love that will never fail, no matter how much we ourselves fail. There never was a greater example of true fatherhood than that which is given by our father and creator. May we all strive to be better parents and better children ourselves. Every day learning and allowing ourselves to grow while we also allow our own children to grow, showing them nothing less than pure love. This is my hope and my prayer for all of us, as we are are in this together!

Great Men

“Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I absolutely love this poem! It reminds me of the type of men that we ought to be, and hopefully the type of men that we are. In a spirit of complete honesty, I am not the man that I often wish I were. I find it far too easy to seek out and discover my own flaws and to compare these flaws to the strengths of those whom I consider to be great men. I realize that this tendency is not only mine, but is shared by a vast majority of mankind. Why do we shoot ourselves down?

If we look inside ourselves and see the true image of God that was instilled in us long before we were born and could truly see ourselves in the way that our Heavenly Father sees us, would we ever look at ourselves as less than Sons and daughters of the Almighty God? No! Yes, we are imperfect, but this is all part of the grand design that He has in store for us. He designed His plan so that we would come to Earth and screw up! He doesn’t want us to screw up because of the consequences that follow, but at the same time, He expects us to, for without these lapses in judgment, we could never grow in the way we need to. We have to mess up in order to reach our true potential. He made us imperfect for a reason. We are here so we can strive to be our best selves, but we can’t destroy ourselves because we don’t live up to our own expectations! All we have is this second, right now. We can’t change the past nor live in the future. All we have are the choices we make right now, so let’s do our best with this moment right before our eyes. It’s all we have! Let us be men of honor, who dare while others fly!

Great Men

“Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I absolutely love this poem! It reminds me of the type of men that we ought to be, and hopefully the type of men that we are. In a spirit of complete honesty, I am not the man that I often wish I were. I find it far too easy to seek out and discover my own flaws and to compare these flaws to the strengths of those whom I consider to be great men. I realize that this tendency is not only mine, but is shared by a vast majority of mankind. Why do we shoot ourselves down?

If we look inside ourselves and see the true image of God that was instilled in us long before we were born and could truly see ourselves in the way that our Heavenly Father sees us, would we ever look at ourselves as less than Sons and daughters of the Almighty God? No! Yes, we are imperfect, but this is all part of the grand design that He has in store for us. He designed His plan so that we would come to Earth and screw up! He doesn’t want us to screw up because of the consequences that follow, but at the same time, He expects us to, for without these lapses in judgment, we could never grow in the way we need to. We have to mess up in order to reach our true potential. He made us imperfect for a reason. We are here so we can strive to be our best selves, but we can’t destroy ourselves because we don’t live up to our own expectations! All we have is this second, right now. We can’t change the past nor live in the future. All we have are the choices we make right now, so let’s do our best with this moment right before our eyes. It’s all we have! Let us be men of honor, who dare while others fly!

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