Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Day 249, September 16

The most valuable of all capital is that invested in human beings."--Alfred Marshall

Two thousand years ago (or so), the Savior gave much the same advice when He said, "Love one another."  For isn't investing in human beings just another way of saying "Love them?"

How do we invest in others ... or love them?  One of the best ways is to listen.  Listening is in short supply these days.  Therapists and other counselors provide a valuable service simply by listening to their clients, but we don't have to have a degree in therapy to do this.

When a friend tells you about an experience, are you waiting impatiently for "your turn" so that you can tell a similar experience, maybe even "one-upping" hers?  As they say, "Been there, done that."  And when I do, when I fail to give my friend the benefit of truly listening to not only what she's saying but the feelings behind those words, I diminish her ... and myself.

Joy for today:  listening.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 248, September 15

"Honor is the capacity to confer respect to another individual.  We become honorable when our capacities for respect are expressed and strengthened.  The term respect comes from the Latin word respicere, which means 'the willingness to look again.'"--Angeles Arrien

When I came across this quote, I knew immediately that it would have to go in the blog.  I love this definition of honor.  Would not our world be a better place if we all treated each other honorably?  If that sounds naive, I apologize.  But, as I look around at families, communities, churches, towns, the nation, indeed, the entire world, I too frequently see a lack of honor, a lack of respect.

Does the person who does not repay a loan have honor?
Does the child who steals from his parents have honor?
Does the employee who shorts his employers in his work have honor?
Does the nation which invades another nation, enslaving the conquered people have honor?

Of course, the answer to each of these is no.

Joy for today:  living honorably.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day 247, September 14

Christmas ideas for decorations and gifts are festooning stores.  The Hallmark Channel is advertising special holiday movies.  And I am already planning gifts for three new grandchildren, two of whom will be around at Christmas, one who will still be growing inside his mother.

Do I mind this early preparation for Christmas?  No.  I see it as extending the celebration of that most holy of days, the birthday of our Savior.  Though the prophets have told us that Christ was not born on December 25, it is the day we have set aside for that celebration.

And then I wonder, why do we not celebrate this miraculous event all year long?  If His birth, His ministry on earth, His atonement are truly the most important events in the earth's history, then we should be celebrating Him all year round.

Notice I say "celebrating Him" rather than "celebrating His birth."  That was deliberate.  Our lives should celebrate Him.  Our comings and goings should celebrate Him.  Our words and our listenings should celebrate Him.

Naive?  Perhaps.  But if we bring Christ into our lives on a daily basis, on an hourly basis, it can change us.  It can change the world.

Joy for today:  celebrating Him.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 246, September 13

"The difference between the top money winners in the PGA golf tour and the bottom money winners can be as little as one stroke a day."--Steve Miller, former PGA tour player

(In case you didn't pick up on it, this goes along with yesterday's blog.)

One stroke a day.  I'm probably never going to be on the PGA golf tour--strike that, I'm never going to be on the PGA golf tour, but I can relate to the one stroke a day part.  For a writer, that could translate to an extra hundred words a day.  For a sprinter, that could mean an extra half mile a day.  For a piano player, that could equal one extra hour of practice a day.  And so on.

What is your one stroke a day?  Do you want to be able to improve your organ playing so that you can provide music at your church services?  Can you squeeze in an extra hour, or half hour, or even fifteen minutes of practice a day?  Do you want to participate in a 5 K race?  Can you spend five minutes of your thirty minute walk jogging instead of walking?  Do you want to ---?  You fill in the blank.

Joy for today:  taking one more stroke today.  And the next.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Day 245, September 12

"If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful after all."--Michelangelo

Have you ever said, "I'd give anything to be able to write (sing, play the piano, paint, sculpt, etc) like he does?"

I have.  I've said it about nearly all of those things--writing, singing, playing the piano, painting, sculpting, and the etc-ing.  You know what?  I was lying.  Because I wouldn't give anything to do those things.  I wouldn't give the time and effort and energy and just plain hard work to gain the mastery that others have achieved in their chosen areas.

I have a friend who plays the piano and other instruments beautifully.  I peck at the piano, but I don't practice it as I should if I wanted to have mastery of it.  I have tried painting and decided I was a no-hoper there, so I stopped trying.  And so it goes.

For most of us, mastery doesn't come from genius, but from hard work. It's when we are willing to put in the work, the sweat, the time, that we achieve true mastery.

Joy for today:  working.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 244, September 11

9/11 is an infamous day in the history of the United States.  For me, it has a far more personal meaning:  it is my parents' anniversary.

My parents met in Washington, DC during WWII.  Those two young people fell in love.  My mother followed my father to California, where they were married.  There was no long white dress or sit-down dinner or even a buffet following their wedding.  My mother wore a simple yellow suit, my father his naval uniform.  Soon after they were married, my father was shipped to the Pacific Theatre, where he was wounded aboard a ship which was torpedoed.

Though he was given the option of being sent home, he refused to take it.  (The Red Cross urged him to go home, seeing as two brothers had recently died.) Instead, he stayed there and helped write letters to the families of those men who were killed.  He kept up correspondence with those family members for many years.

My mother worked, saving money for when her sweetheart would return home.  She lived modestly, sharing the small home of my father's sister and her family.

Months later, my father returned to the States.  He needed further treatment for his wounds.  After this, he enrolled in college, then law school on the GI Bill.  Even with that financial aid, he and my mother worked long hours while he went to school, he as a short order cook and she with the Department of Engraving and Printing.

The word entitlement did not exist then, at least not in their vocabulary.  The very idea would have baffled them.  There was work, sacrifice, service, and more work.  They did their best to pass these values on to my sister and me.

Joy for today:  remembering my parents.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 243, September 10

Three days ago, we attended a special Stake Conference at church.  (Stakes are geographical divisions of church membership.)  The primary speaker, Elder Baxter, spoke on, among other subjects, finding joy and acceptance for ourselves.

He admonished us to give ourselves credit for the good and praisworthy things we do.  Too often, he said, we fall victim to Satan's trap of beating ourselves up, of believing that we are unworthy of the Lord's love.  This is not the Lord's plan.

In particular, Elder Baxter chastised women for criticizing and denigrating ourselves.  We are better than we believe, he maintained.

Joy for today:  loving myself as well as others.