Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Stranger --A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family.The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on. As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, hehad a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger... he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies. If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind. Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet.(I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.) Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home - not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our long time visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol but the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.. I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... And NEVER asked to leave. More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents' den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name?.... We just call him 'TV.' (Note: This should be required reading for every household!) He has a wife now....we call her 'Computer.' Their first child is "Cell Phone". Second child "I Pod" And JUST BORN THIS YEAR WAS a Grandchild: IPAD

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How To Make Smart Decisions --Success is largely a matter of making wise choices. As F. W. Boreham said, "wemake our decisions and then they make us." That's why every decision has an element of risk to it. We cannot always predict the outcome. Are you dealing with any difficult decisions these days? Try following these eight steps for decision-making from the book of Proverbs in the Bible. --Step 1: ~ Pray For Guidance.(Principle of Inspiration) -Start by asking God to help you see His perspective on the problem. Intuition is often wrong. "A man is foolish to trust onlyhimself. But those who use GOD'S WISDOM are safe." Prov. 28:26 --Step 2:~ Get The Facts! (Principle of Information) -Don't make decisions out of ignorance. Find out all you can first. "Every prudent man acts out of knowledge" Prov. 13:16 "How stupid to decide before knowing the facts." Prov. 18:13 ""Get the facts at any price.. . . "Prov. 23:23 ) --Step 3: ~ Ask For Advice. ( Consultation) -Talk to someone who has already taken the rise if possible. It's wise to learn from experience - but it is even wiser to learn form the experiences of others! That way you don't have to learn everything the hard way. "Get good advice and you will succeed. Prov. 20:18 ) "The intelligent man is always open to new idea - in fact the looks for them Prov. 18:15 ) --Step 4: ~ Set Your Goal. ( Selection) -Be sure you understand the reason and purpose for the decision you're about to make. You can't chase two rabbits at the same time. "An intelligent person AIMS at wise actions, but a fool start off in many directions." Prov. 17:24 --Step 5 : ~ Count The Cost~ ( Evaluation) - This is called "calculated risk". :Ask yourself (1) Is it necessary? (2)What will it cost. . .in terms of time, energy, money? (3) Is it worth it? "It is a trap to dedicate something rashly, and only later to consider your vows." Prov. 20:25 --Step 6: ~ Plan For Problems ~ (Preparation) - Remember Murphy's law - and he was an optimist. Don't ignore problems - they won't ignore you. So be prepared. "Don't go charging into battle without a plan." Prov. 20:18 "A sensible man watches for problems and is prepared to meet them. The fool never looks ahead and suffers the consequences."Prov. 22:3 --Step 7: ~ Face Your Fears ~ (Confrontation) -Fear is not a sign of weakness - it is a sign of your humanity. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather it is moving ahead in spite of your fears. "Fear of man is a dangerous trap, but to trust in God means safety." Prov. 29:25 --Step 8: ~ Go For It! (Initiation) This is the point at which you must stop talking and start acting. You must begin! "Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed." Prov. 16:3

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Quote and a response ---As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow. - A. C. Benson --On the darkened horizon, however comes a spark, followed by a cold vapor, muffling the solemn ravenous call. I recoil from the slow, deep bass, blatant mouthed demand of rigid, severe, exact, mechanical realism. --Escape into wonder! Only to be taken under siege, by engine and fire, to be driven forth by the demand of reality; blinded by maddened tears, bereft of beauty by smoke and howl, to shiver, screened through waste and ruin, slinking and hiding until a fever of exhaustion drops me into oblivion; only to be blasted awake, again wrung from the dregs, in constant fear of discovery and denunciation, of abandonment to the bullying menace; a threat to be cut down and decimated by the slash and burn, scorched earth tactics of the realism driven, fantasy abhorring, mystery inquisitioning minions who surround and sneer and creep and mutter and spy out and watch. © 2013 J. Daniel Hastings

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I sent this out 10 years ago, time for another dose) -Subject: A Poem I found... ...that demonstrates succinctly how I will never be able to write decent poetry. -Poem: Athanasia by: Oscar Wilde -To that gaunt House of Art which lacks for naught Of all the great things men have saved from Time, The withered body of a girl was brought Dead ere the world's glad youth had touched its prime, And seen by lonely Arabs lying hid In the dim womb of some black pyramid. But when they had unloosed the linen band Which swathed the Egyptian's body, - lo! was found Closed in the wasted hollow of her hand A little seed, which sown in English ground Did wondrous snow of starry blossoms bear And spread rich odours through our spring-tide air. With such strange arts this flower did allure That all forgotten was the asphodel, And the brown bee, the lily's paramour, Forsook the cup where he was wont to dwell, For not a thing of earth it seemed to be, But stolen from some heavenly Arcady. In vain the sad narcissus, wan and white At its own beauty, hung across the stream, The purple dragon-fly had no delight With its gold dust to make his wings a-gleam, Ah! no delight the jasmine-bloom to kiss, Or brush the rain-pearls from the eucharis. For love of it the passionate nightingale Forgot the hills of Thrace, the cruel king, And the pale dove no longer cared to sail Through the wet woods at time of blossoming, But round this flower of Egypt sought to float, With silvered wing and amethystine throat. While the hot sun blazed in his tower of blue A cooling wind crept from the land of snows, And the warm south with tender tears of dew Drenched its white leaves when Hesperos up-rose Amid those sea-green meadows of the sky On which the scarlet bars of sunset lie. But when o'er wastes of lily-haunted field The tired birds had stayed their amorous tune, And broad and glittering like an argent shield High in the sapphire heavens hung the moon, Did no strange dream or evil memory make Each tremulous petal of its blossoms shake? Ah no! to this bright flower a thousand years Seemed but the lingering of a summer's day, It never knew the tide of cankering fears Which turn a boy's gold hair to withered grey, The dread desire of death it never knew, Or how all folk that they were born must rue. For we to death with pipe and dancing go, Nor would we pass the ivory gate again, As some sad river wearied of its flow Through the dull plains, the haunts of common men, Leaps lover-like into the terrible sea! And counts it gain to die so gloriously. We mar our lordly strength in barren strife With the world's legions led by clamorous care, It never feels decay but gathers life From the pure sunlight and the supreme air, We live beneath Time's wasting sovereignty, It is the child of all eternity.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

“Well begun is half done.” -Mary Poppins plagerizing Aristotle

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Currant Bush -You sometimes wonder whether the Lord really knows what he ought to do with you. You sometimes wonder if you know better than he does about what you ought to do and ought to become. I am wondering if I may tell you a story that I have told quite often in the Church. It is a story that is older than you are. It’s a piece out of my own life, and I’ve told it in many stakes and missions. It has to do with an incident in my life when God showed me that he knew best. -I was living up in Canada. I had purchased a farm. It was run-down. I went out one morning and saw a currant bush. It had grown up over six feet high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants. I was raised on a fruit farm in Salt Lake before we went to Canada, and I knew what ought to happen to that currant bush. So I got some pruning shears and went after it, and I cut it down, and pruned it, and clipped it back until there was nothing left but a little clump of stumps. It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. I was kind of simpleminded (and I haven’t entirely gotten over it), and I looked at it, and smiled, and said, “What are you crying about?” You know, I thought I heard that currant bush talk. And I thought I heard it say this: “How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me, because I didn’t make what I should have made. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.” That’s what I thought I heard the currant bush say, and I thought it so much that I answered. I said, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’ ” -Time passed. Years passed, and I found myself in England. I was in command of a cavalry unit in the Canadian Army. I had made rather rapid progress as far as promotions are concerned, and I held the rank of field officer in the British Canadian Army. And I was proud of my position. And there was an opportunity for me to become a general. I had taken all the examinations. I had the seniority. There was just one man between me and that which for ten years I had hoped to get, the office of general in the British Army. I swelled up with pride. And this one man became a casualty, and I received a telegram from London. It said: “Be in my office tomorrow morning at 10:00,” signed by General Turner in charge of all Canadian forces. I called in my valet, my personal servant. I told him to polish my buttons, to brush my hat and my boots, and to make me look like a general because that is what I was going to be. He did the best he could with what he had to work on, and I went up to London. I walked smartly into the office of the General, and I saluted him smartly, and he gave me the same kind of a salute a senior officer usually gives—a sort of “Get out of the way, worm!” He said, “Sit down, Brown.” -Then he said, “I’m sorry I cannot make the appointment. You are entitled to it. You have passed all the examinations. You have the seniority. You’ve been a good officer, but I can’t make the appointment. You are to return to Canada and become a training officer and a transport officer. Someone else will be made a general.” That for which I had been hoping and praying for ten years suddenly slipped out of my fingers. -Then he went into the other room to answer the telephone, and I took a soldier’s privilege of looking on his desk. I saw my personal history sheet. Right across the bottom of it in bold, block-type letters was written, “THIS MAN IS A MORMON.” We were not very well liked in those days. When I saw that, I knew why I had not been appointed. I already held the highest rank of any Mormon in the British Army. He came back and said, “That’s all, Brown.” I saluted him again, but not quite as smartly. I saluted out of duty and went out. I got on the train and started back to my town, 120 miles away, with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. And every click of the wheels on the rails seemed to say, “You are a failure. You will be called a coward when you get home. You raised all those Mormon boys to join the army, then you sneak off home.” I knew what I was going to get, and when I got to my tent, I was so bitter that I threw my cap and my saddle brown belt on the cot. I clinched my fists and I shook them at heaven. I said, “How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?” I was as bitter as gall. -And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, “I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.” -The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness and my bitterness. While kneeling there I heard a song being sung in an adjoining tent. A number of Mormon boys met regularly every Tuesday night. I usually met with them. We would sit on the floor and have a Mutual Improvement Association. As I was kneeling there, praying for forgiveness, I heard their voices singing: “It may not be on the mountain height Or over the stormy sea; It may not be at the battle’s front My Lord will have need of me; But if, by a still, small voice he calls To paths that I do not know, I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine: I’ll go where you want me to go.” -I arose from my knees a humble man. And now, almost fifty years later, I look up to him and say, “Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.” I see now that it was wise that I should not become a general at that time, because if I had I would have been senior officer of all western Canada, with a lifelong, handsome salary, a place to live, and a pension when I’m no good any longer, but I would have raised my six daughters and two sons in army barracks. They would no doubt have married out of the Church, and I think I would not have amounted to anything. I haven’t amounted to very much as it is, but I have done better than I would have done if the Lord had let me go the way I wanted to go. -I wanted to tell you that oft-repeated story because there are many of you who are going to have some very difficult experiences: disappointment, heartbreak, bereavement, defeat. You are going to be tested and tried to prove what you are made of. I just want you to know that if you don’t get what you think you ought to get, remember, “God is the gardener here. He knows what he wants you to be.” Submit yourselves to his will. Be worthy of his blessings, and you will get his blessings. -Elder Hugh B. Brown, “The Currant Bush,” New Era, Jan. 1973

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Poem- Just fallen snow --The snow just fell. -After, the sun just hung there in the haze; The afternoon just cold, drear, grey. All around, the snow just heavy, wet; the tall weeds in the meadow just sticking out of the sodden ground, like a field of just cut straw, just recovering. -by Danny Hastings