Wednesday, July 30, 2008

3900 Saturdays

Everyone gets a ton of "forwarded" emails a day. Periodically, I will receive one that touches my heart. This one is in the top 10 for sure!
The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturdays mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.
A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it.
I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whomever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles." I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say.
"Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. It's too bad you missed your daughter's dance recital," he continued. "Let me tell you something that has helped me keep my own priorities." And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles."
"You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years." "Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturday's that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now stick with me, Tom, I'm getting to the important part. It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail." He went on. "And, by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I had lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So, I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life." "There is nothing like watching your time here on earth run out to help get your priorities straight."
"Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time."
"It was nice to meet you Tom, and I hope you spend more time with your family and I hope to meet you again here on the band. This is a 75 year old man, K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!"
You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. "C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast." "What brought this on, she asked with a smile." Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. And hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles."
And so, as one smart bear once said......."if you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you." - Winnie the Pooh.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Learning Curve

Returning from a nice weekend away (with a few stumbling blocks, but overall good), we enjoyed our time away. Sometimes it is nice to get away and just have time to reconnect. I have learned a lot about myself since I last posted. I have learned that I am not as in control as I think I am and it's a good thing! For weeks, I have spent lots of time trying to cure my brother's cancer, make phone calls, manage my career, help run the business, and in between it all, still maintain a healthy home life. NOTHING seemed to be falling into place and I found myself asking what I did to deserve all of this. Eddie and I were talking about his mom and how her health has declined so rapidly and he spoke of the guilt that he had when he became frustrated as she repeated the same story 5 times during one conversation. I told him that a time would soon come when he would beg to hear her tell that story 5 times and that eventually, she would not recognize him or anyone else. She would simply be a shell of the woman that he used to know. As I told him this, it became a reality to me that through all of our earthly trials and tribulation here, we are really only meant to enjoy our family and loved ones for a short time on earth. How often we take for granted our goodnight kisses, our "I love you's" as we hang up the phone and most importantly, oblivious to the time we waste trying to control our lives instead of enjoying it. The truth be known, I needed to "practice what I preached" to him and learn to not push and pull so much. Even when we don't see it, God hears our prayers and if we remain steadfast in it, he will give us what is best for us. When you finally realize that you are a part of a massive Learning Curve, the flowers smell more aromatic, the ocean is more blue, the colors are much more vibrant, and life is such a better place to be. Be still and pay attention to that still small voice inside of you; you may just teach yourself a lesson. God is good..........all the time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Treasure What You Have

I felt compelled to write today; perhaps all credit is due to the uncertain turmoil in my life right now. Dealing with two sets of aging parents ( and in-laws, so to speak) in addition to a brother battling a recurring cancer for the THIRD TIME does not qualify as a "joy ride" in my book. I am on the high end of positive when I say that I know that I am not the only person in the world that is dealing with these issues, but is sure feels like it sometimes. When I am in the mist of a pity party for myself, I keep remembering that there are many folks that are in much worse shape than me....(Today, I REALLY don't care about other folks, if you want me to be honest.) Yep, that's right. I feel cheap shotted and I found myself "shaking my fist" at God yesterday as a result, of what I considered, me patiently waiting for Him to step up to the plate for me. It donned on me this morning as I drove into work that He won't step up until I decided to give things over willingly and let Him do the work without me interfering. Today will be day #1 in my attempt to step back and allow the Great Physician do his thing. I am a "fixer" and a "do-er" so this is a great test for me and one that will NOT be easy!!

I am not a very open person, spiritually and most of the people that I come in contact with don't see the subtle, humble side to me. I am usually more over the top, life of the party, and jokey and free spirited. I am not judging whether that is the right or wrong way as a believer, but it is just how I am. I try my best to pour my energy (what little bit is left at the end of the day) into having a quiet, yet strong relationship with my faith rather than push it over on folks that are not open to hearing it. For now, it is what matters to me that I concentrate on the strongest.

For now, I am thankful for my family and our time that we have together in this life here on earth, a loving man that loves me until the end of time and he never changes. The stability and simple presence at the end of the day drives me to press forward. I don't always appreciate that as I should because the list of other things consume so much of my time right now. Next weekend, we will rejuvenate ourselves on a small trip to a quiet area on the beach. That is our tranquil spot that allows us to clear our minds and hearts and that is important to us. Life is what you make it to be, not what you hope someone else will make for you.

I'll close by looking at a sticky note that I have posted above my desk as a constant reminder of what grace entails. "I am your salvation; trust in Me and do not be afraid. I am your strength and your song." Isaiah 12:2
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