Showing posts from June, 2012

Sweet Land of Liberty

I keep a photo of my family’s old wheat ranch near my desk. It reminds me of the hot summers of my childhood, but this story really began in the early 1800’s.
My ancestors left their farming community in the aftermath of a war-torn Germany. Poverty stricken except for their farming implements, they sailed across the Baltic Sea to the rich, fertile Volga River valley in Russia. 
Unfortunately the colder climate led to years of crop failures. Besides hunger and disease they faced bands of marauders who robbed and murdered. 

But nothing could prepare them for what they faced under Bolshevik and Communist rule. My eighteen and nineteen year old great grandparents escaped with two wooden trunks and enough money to board a ship bound for America—sweet land of liberty. Horse-drawn wagons brought them West. And they began farming yet again.

As a child, I’d walk the half-mile to the graveyard that adjoins the original homestead. 

My grandma filled in the stories that the grave markers didn’t tell—d…

(W)Hole Inside

The pilot took a wide circle far above the Grand Canyon. I marveled at the jagged layers of rock. Even from thousands of feet above, the canyon was incredibly deep and I could see the ribbon of the Colorado River.

Dad had wanted to take us there as children, but we never did. Now decades later, I was seeing it on the way to Tucson to make his funeral arrangements.

Traveling alone allowed my thoughts free reign. Having a window seat made it even easier. The jet made another large circle—this time above the airport. Despite the noontime sun, I felt like was descending into a dark hole.  Worse yet, the dark hole was inside me. I wondered why God allowed dark holes. Wasn’t He supposed to help prevent those? I inwardly complained that if my faith was worth anything, now was the time it needed to kick in.

I grabbed my bag from the overhead bin and asked God to give me whatever I needed since I didn’t seem to have a clue what that might be. I just wanted to stay on the plane and keep circlin…

Honor Thy Father

When I was little, my father was just part of my day. He’d wake me in the morning and get me out the door in time for school. Then I’d run down the street to meet him on his way home from work. He wasn’t much of a handyman, but he kept our yard tidy with an old push mower. He paid bills at a small desk wedged between the wall and his bed. He didn’t scold as loud as Mom, but his silence was almost worse. When I was sad, my tears would be wiped away with his soft white hanky. Just a few of his words were all I needed to set my world right again. I loved tagging along on his Saturday errands. On Sundays, we’d walk hand in hand down the block to church.
Being a teen didn’t change my perspective much. My dad was still just part of my day— he worked, took care of the yard and paid the bills. He even taught me how to drive a stick shift— without ever raising his voice.  His listening ear and soft white hanky now helped my topsy-turvy teenage world. We played tennis and took long walks, but …

The Real Trivia Test

Name some Pulitzer Prize winners over the last five years.

Name the last ten movies to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Name the MLB teams that have won the last ten World Series.
Name the ten richest people in the world.

I flunked the test. I’m not much into trivia. Yet, these are some of the best worldly accomplishments. All that work and it's hard to be remembered for it. Time seems to erase the sound of the applause. Next year another team will take the prize. A new movie will be released; a blockbuster book takes its place on the New York Times bestseller list. We forget the old as we grab the new.
Now take this test:
Name three people who taught you something you’ll always remember.
Name a couple teachers who gave you help when you needed it most.
Name five close friends. Name two or three people you can count on….. no matter what.
Easier test? It was for me. 
I remind myself that it's easier to remember others for their small acts of kindness, rather than those b…

10 Graduation Tips I Didn't Get

Graduation speeches tend to be long, full of wisdom, and generally hard to remember. So instead, I’d like to present you with a list of 10 things I wish I had heard when I graduated:

10.  You’re leaving childhood behind and gaining freedom—but you are also being handed lots of responsibilities.  You’ll sometimes miss the carefree life of high school. That’s normal. Enjoy the memories, but know that what’s ahead is worth the effort.

9. Whatever label someone stuck on you in high school doesn’t apply now. You can be anyone you want. That’s real freedom.

8. Think about what things control you. Make sure they are good things.  Freedom offers opportunities.  Not all of them are good.  Where you can be in 10 years depends on today’s choices.

7.  Ask advice from older people. While it’s easier to talk to your peers, they’re probably as confused as you are, and their advice isn’t always the best.
6. You’ll still have your high school friends but will be making new ones. You’ll probably find th…