Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Christmas Music favorites 1

I am a lover of Christmas music!  Every year I am checking out the new music and finding music I didn't know existed from years past and finding things that I particularly like.  I have two categories: new renditions of Christmas classics and new Christmas songs that I haven't heard before.

To start things off my favorite new Christmas song I haven't heard before is "Love Story" by Naturally 7 an acappella group.  You can listen to it here:

Be sure to pick the one titled "Love Story" and listen close it has a good message.  Enjoy!

Don't give up

I'm always impressed by those who don't give up when it would be so much easier to do so.  This short little video is an example of a young woman who didn't give up:

I hope that we can be that way when we are down.

Friday, December 3, 2010

How will I explain this to my future children?

The time to start being a parent starts long before the baby is born or even conceived. 
I've heard people say "...long before you were a gleam in your father's eye" dating the mentioned activity as long before the listener was born.  The same timeline describes the best time to start preparing for parenting

Maybe you recognize the beginnings of this thought for me as coming from last Sunday at church.  As I mentioned in a blog from 11-28 a young man mentioned some things that concerned him about his pre-parenting choices.  That has been in the back of my mind this week and then a couple days ago I went into the group room at work and ran across a dry erase board that had been used during an education/support group for those stopping substance abuse.  It outlined the story of one woman who had done drugs and alcohol for a portion of her life, even through the conception and carrying of her child to term.  Then shortly after the birth of her child she realized the damage of what she was doing to herself and her children.  This helped her have the motivation she needed to stop using drugs.  In essence she suddenly recognized her worth and that of her children.  Now she is struggling to learn the skills and practice the behaviors of not using drugs and dealing with life through positive instead of destructive means.

I was reminded in that moment that being a parent really starts long before the child is born.  For many our preparation started even before we thought about being a parent.  When we can look at ourselves and answer the question, "how would I explain this to my future children" we will begin to see the importance of starting now to be the parent we want to be.

It occurs to me that many of us spend the first months or years of parenthood parenting ourselves and fixing areas we failed in to be better parents of our children.  Sometimes these efforts to fix ourselves are at the expense of our children in at least the distraction they cause from our children's needs.  It is much like on the job training.  Truth be told that we will all have some of these issues to work through, but if we start asking ‘the question’ now then we can prepare ourselves in advance and do a great service to future generations. 

Sometimes we as parents avoid talking about certain things with our children because we remember our behaviors of the age and feel embarrassed of ourselves and/or hypocritical of any current efforts to guide our children in a better path.  When we allow those feelings to negatively influence our parenting then we pass on our family and personal weaknesses to the next generation.  Maybe our resolve and presentation are weak because we ourselves fell into a trap we see coming for our children.  Maybe we are overzealous about a topic of instruction because we are trying to make up for our own failure; and in our extensive efforts now we succeed only in interesting our children in a behavior rather than strengthening against it.  I’ve seen some parents who think of their “glory” days as a time in their lives when they made poor choices.  Even though they hope their children will avoid those pitfalls in life, they inadvertently encourage them to repeat the error because of the enjoyment that is evident when they think back and describe their actions of yesteryear.  All of these ways of responding to our own past can have an impact on our children and therefore on their life and our grandchildren's lives.

"How would I explain this to my children" can help us at whatever stage of parenting we are in and no matter what our personal past has included.  It can help us choose a more appropriate path than the one we may naturally choose with only knowing and feeling our past and not adequately considering their future.  Our response can be the one that is right for the occasion even if we didn't live the ideal when we were at that time of life. 

So those who are not parents yet, start preparing now.  Your children will see the results of your efforts immediately upon arrival.  If you are later in your parenting life then now is the time to stop letting your past dictate your children’s future.  Follow your best self and parent your children as your current morals and knowledge direct you. 

As I write this blog two of my daughters bring me a sugar cookie and flute of milk.  The sugar cookie has on it, “We love you Dad” and the cookie is in the shape of a…cloud.  Maybe with our best efforts we can have the success we desire in guiding our children to reach their potential and be proud to be a part of our family. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Surprise reminder of Christ

This is an awesome video. It brought tears to my eyes as I imagined what it would be like to have been there. What a surprise and a reminder of what is important this time of year. And to watch the people enjoy it and then participate in the singing. Awesome. Take a look.

Grieving Dad

I’ve found myself thinking about Dad a lot more than usual the last couple days.  I’ll be at work doing paperwork and then be reminded that he is lying in the hospital and not aware for the most part what is going on around him and fighting for his life.  I’m not sure that he is fighting to keep his injuries from killing him but in this case he is fighting to have a conscious life.  To overcome his injuries so that he can participate in life and not just survive this accident. 

I think about some of the things we’ve done together in the past.  I realized that much of what he and I enjoyed together had to do with eating and playing cribbage or both at the same time.  There are lots of places we have been to eat.  As a matter of fact the last time we were out there in November we went to the Keys restaurant in downtown White Bear Lake and enjoyed breakfast together.  That might have been the first time that Lisa and I took him out to eat instead of the other way around.  Most recently in his weekly email he mentioned that he had found a German Restaurant that he enjoyed and a dish that was one he had last had in Munich.  I thought to ask him when and what he was doing in Munich but didn’t and so I don’t know, and maybe never will.  I did write him a quick email and say I would really like to go to that German Restaurant with him on our next trip out as there haven’t German Restaurants in our area for several years and I love German food.  He agreed we would have to do that.  That likely won’t happen now, at least not for a long time.  He may well not remember that restaurant after his fall. 

Grieving is such an interesting thing.  A person doesn’t have to die for us to grieve them.  We can already miss aspects of our relationship with them as life and age or accident or just change takes those parts away.  I miss these things and fear that we will never enjoy them like we have done for the past many years. 

Grief is not a terrible or harmful thing but rather is the human way of adjusting to changing circumstances that require that we modify ourselves to a new reality or at least prepare for a possible new reality.  It requires changing our expectations and maybe finding pleasure in new or simpler things.  I can do it; I can grieve for Dad and the loss of old times…but not with a smile.  L

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Move forward, proceed with caution

This morning after dropping Haleigh off at the high school I came to the light and saw something I had never seen before.  A solid green light (go) with a blinking yellow light, both going at the same time on each stop light facing me.  Unusual, I thought, what does this mean.  The light in the other directions I noticed was blinking red.

Well early this morning we had some wild weather apparently.  I know this because as I left the house to take Haleigh to Seminary I saw the porch chairs thrown to one side of the porch and noted that the entire porch had been drenched.  Since it is a covered porch that indicates some rain blowing side ways.  Well the weather hadn't awakened me but I have since learned that some people were awakened by it and that we had a tornado warning on the first day of December.  I would rather have some snow on the ground but that's not what we got.  Apparently that led to the light giving a different message today. 

Because I had never seen that combination of lights going at the same time on a stop light I initially was trying to figure out what my course of action was and quickly decided it was to move forward but to do so with caution, which I did through the intersection. 

That has been on my mind this morning as I compare it to life.  Isn't that the signal that we frequently get in life "move forward but proceed with caution".  I don't recall ever getting the message to move forward with wild abandon!  Of course the messages typically come from people who care about us like our parents, siblings, friends and God.  I guess the key is not to get so bogged down with caution that we stop our foreward motion, but to nevertheless be cautious to be prepared for the unexpected so we do not speed into danger. 

'Proceed with caution' might mean to look around us and notice what is going on then evaluate the effects of it on our life and make choices based on your best judgment.  Choices that you can both be pleased with and take responsibility for.  As I think about it 'wild abandon' which often leads to trouble is typically following someone else without engaging our own thinking process.  I suppose if we chose good leaders that might work out, but shouldn't we be making our decisions so that we can fully take responsibility for them?  I choose to follow this leader so if things go amiss I can take responsibility rather than blame him.  I need to be responsible so that I can do something when necessary to change things.  If I'm not responsible then there is nothing I can do, I'm stuck...forever.  That's discouraging and depressing. 

Sitting still in traffic or life is not often enjoyable but can be under certain circumstances I suppose.  Waiting or being unable to move or prohibited to move forword would likely create patience ... or insanity whichever came first!  "Moving forward with caution" seems to be just a resonable way to progress. (Which by the way does not imply to me that we don't have rapid spurts of progress or movement.)

In Psalms 46:10 (and D&C 101:16) it says "Be still and know that I am God".  So being still can have beneficial results and may be restoritive as well. 

Mosiah 4:27 says "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order."  That kind of sounds like 'move forward proceed with caution' doesn't it? 

I guess our challenge in life is to move foreward with caution but to be sure to value the stillness when it is out of our control and to value it for the introspection and guidance as it directs us to God.  Hmmm, maybe we do turn to God more when we must be still then when moving forward.  Something to think about. 

So use caution when in drive and be patient and grow when we stall or get stuck in traffic, but what about reverse?  Just do U-turns?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Years of dreaming of a pumpkin donut led to reality

For a few years now I have been hearing about Pumpkin Spice Cake Donuts by Krispy Kreme.  Jaime is the one that would rave on these when she would buy them fresh from the local Krispy Kreme near BYU.  I think she may have brought some miniature ones home once when she flew in, if I remember correctly but finally I found them here in the state of Virginia and purchased them and ate one!  Yeehaa!  I enjoyed it as much as I figured I would.  It was tasty.  Fortunately there is another one I can have.

I wasn't going to tell this story but I guess I will.  :)  I did see a single package of these delectable donuts once in a Food Lion and thought to get it until a certain person who I will not name, someone with great influence, forbade me from buying them.  So of course I bypassed them and dreamed of them for 32 nights.

But today I found myself in the Food Lion, alone, to purchase milk and potato chips (for a recipe-honest!) and saw them.  So without anyone to forbade me I used my best judgment and put them in my cart and bought them.  If you knew where the donuts are in this store you might wonder what I was doing in that part of the store when I came to buy chips and milk (two important staples I might add).  Well I would say I was just looking at certain other high calorie unmentionables but lost interest entirely when I saw the pumpkin donuts.  So even though there will be those who might say that I succumbed to buying the donuts I prefer to note that I did not succumb to purchasing the other unspecified high calorie items.  Since I have declined mention of the other viewed item there are those who will scoff and say, surely he would have been better off buying the unmentioned instead of a Donut!  To them I say simply "get thou behind me naysayers and let me eat my donuts".

Christmas Tradition part 1: Decorating the Tree

Last night we did some of our Christmas traditions.  We decorated the green tree.  You see in recent years we have begun to have two tress to decorate. 

The white tree has the homemade beaded balls that my mother made about 45 years ago when I was a little child.  I have memories of her making them with her friend but to be honest I can't tell if they are real memories or ones that have been put in because she has told me about it so many times.  In addition we put the family photo ornaments on the white tree.  Each year since the girls were born we have put a picture of them from that year in an ornament and hung them on the tree.  Even at the beginning of having children I realized that the day would come when there pictures would be needed to remind me of so many special years as a father.  Since our girls are 16 and older that means we have a lot of photo ornaments.  This year I put that tree up and decorated it mostly by myself a week ago.  I enjoyed looking at all those ornaments and sorting through memories as the girls were growing up.  This year for Jaime's ornament it now has her with her husband.  As I told the girls as they have grown up, we had the daughters and they got to choose the sons.  So I encouraged them to choose wisely.  Jaime did.  The white tree has a nativity scene under it that Lisa gave me for a present a few years ago, to help us remember the real thing we are celebrating at Christmas.  This white tree is primarily for Lisa and I to enjoy fond memories of the girls.  Oh the girls often try to put some of their less desired pictures in the back of the tree but overall it works out well. 

The green tree is connected with another tradition.  Lisa brought a tradition from her family that the parents gave the kids a new ornament each year and then when they got married and left home they took their ornaments with them.  We try to have the ornament for that year have some connection with something they did during the year.  This year for the first time there are lots of ornaments missing because Jaime got married and we boxed those up and sent them to her so she could have the beginnings of ornaments for her first tree with Mike.  I wonder how that is going?  (by the way we found a couple ornaments we missed and will have to send them later). Still we managed to have tons of ornaments and had to become picky at the end as to which ones we put on the tree.  Then after we were done I gave them their new ornaments for the year.  This year Megan received a glass nativity ornament since she has served the last year and a half as a missionary for Christ.  Hilary's ornament I can't mention since she isn't home to receive it yet.  Haleigh's ornament was an angel holding a child symbolizing her class in high school on child care that she enjoys.  Jaime and Mike's ornament was two frogs dangling their feet over a fence and of course in love.  If they would just kiss then they wouldn't remain frogs?  I had forgotten that part of the tradition was playing the Mannheim Steemroller DVD as we do this.  Haleigh brought that to my attention and it was quickly rectified with rousing Christmas music. 

But this year things were a little different because Lisa wasn't with us as we decorated the tree.  She is in MN caring for her mother and concerned about her Dad.  Fortunately she called as we were finishing up and it was a little bit like she was there with us. 

The piece de resistance was mostly overlooked except by Megan who had the honor this year of putting our tree topper on.  We have two small stuffed bear ornaments that we have always put on our tree.  One of those bears was to be Dallas Jr.'s first ornament about 25 years ago but he didn't survive birth so now you could say that he is the angel we like to remember at the top of our tree. 

So you see that our family has traditions intertwined through our family, especially at Christmas.  Sometimes as I grow older I forget some of the traditions but am glad they have meant enough to our children that they remind me and we keep them going.  Christmas has always been a spiritual and magical time in our family and I hope that it will continue to be that way maybe especially now that our first daughter won't be home for Christmas this year as she forges her new family and starts their own traditions.  I wonder how many will come from our family to get mixed with Mike's family traditions?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Show me that I might see

So I am sitting in church today and one of the speakers, a young man who is married with two young children mentions about how important example is in our lives and particularly as we teach our children.  He brings up that he is sorry that he did not serve a mission for the Lord when he was a young man.  He wonders how his lack of a good example in that area will impact his son when he is grown old enough to serve a mission for the Savior.  He is sorry for his poor example in that regard and is scared that his poor example, even before his son was ever born, will impact the future.  I couldn't help but think of what examples I set for my children and others that I care about and those that look to me, before they were born or before we even knew each other. 

That got me to thinking about the power of example.  I look back at my parents and how they were excellent examples in some things, mediocre in others and poor in some.  How did that impact me?  I do tend to follow their example in all those areas for the most part.  I mean I don't like gardening--my dad was a lover of gardening, I do not tend to complain about aches and pains just like my Mom.  There may be an argument that some things are genetic and not based upon an environmental example, but for the most part I am not talking about some of those things that easily fall into that category (i.e. the shape of my body, lack of hair, etc. etc.). Some things I have worked hard to change to be what I consider better than the example that was set for me.  Maybe the key there is that I had to recognize and conclude that I wanted to be different and put in some sustained effort to get that way.  But ultimately I am much like my parents--maybe an odd combination of the two but nevertheless I think that I would be recognized as their child by those who know them well.

Those examples in our life, particular the examples from when we are young seem to be our default (speaking computereze a language I have limited ability in).  Why is example such a powerful influence?  I have been thinking about that today.  Unfortunately I have not come to any conclusions.  Everything I think of, examples from my parents and examples as a parent as well as examples professionally and examples in my ministry at church all point to the truth that I'll state again--example is a profound powerful influence on others for good or ill.

Still my thoughts are very much frequently turned to my father-in-law in the ICU and expecting to be there for a few weeks.  He has been an excellent example to me in a variety of ways but one way that I have contemplated the most over the last few years.  While I was recently released from serving as a Bishop I often went back and contemplated the example he set for me when I was a young man and he was serving as Bishop in his ward.  During the time I stayed in MN while Lisa and I were engaged and for the first few years of our marriage he served as Bishop.  I saw him closely in his home as he would be doing something as a father or husband and then a call would come requiring he do the work of a Bishop.  No complaints, no apologies, but he would just get dressed appropriately for the occasion and then he would go do what was required and then return home, change back into the appropriate home wear and continue on.  That turned out to be an excellent and much needed example for me as I had many occasions when I was needed as the Bishop and I did as I had seen him do.

Example most often overcomes what we have been taught in other ways.  Regardless of the truth of what we have been taught or the respect we have for the teacher, that default kicks in unless we put in some great and often strenuous and lengthy effort to change and be different.

So maybe all of this just comes to prove the point that is made by Christ in the following scripture:  John 13:15 "for I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you".  We not only needed his sacrifice and atonement to overcome death and our sinful nature, but we also needed his example of what to do and how to do it right so we could follow. 

Maybe we can recognize the importance of our example soon enough that we can adjust our example to express what is really most important to us so that others can see us for who we are rather than who we allow the world to turn us into.  I hope I can be the best of those that have been profound examples for me and that my example for my children and others can lead them to truth and light rather than...the opposite.
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