“I have refined thee in the furnace of affliction.” I – Isiah 48:10
No one is immune from the refining process that is affliction and the degree to which we grow from our trials has, in large measure, to do with our strength of heart. It is a cycle. Strength of heart comes through effort, trial and perserverance.
I earned money as a teenager by cutting and selling cedar posts which farmers and ranchers used to build fences and corrals. My father made it clear to me that the most sought after cedar posts were those with a big heart, the dark center of the tree.. I understood what he meant when he showed me what happens to the post after years of being planted in the ground. The process of decay destroys the outer, or cambian, layer of the tree leaving only the heart. The posts with a large center heart are still solidly implanted in the ground while those with a small heart no longer stand straight and weaken the fence.
He then taught me that cedar posts which come from trees that grow where water and nutrients are readily available have a large cambian layer but a small heart. Trees that grow on hill sides or in ravines where water and nutrients are hard to come by have a smaller cambian layer but the heart is large. These are the most sought after cedar posts.
The human heart, although not the center of feelings or emotion, is a symbol of compassion, strength and power for human endeavor. We speak endearingly of those who “have a big heart” and we credit having a strong heart for individual ability to endure and survive affliction and trial but it is a curious cycle.
As the prophet said, “I have refined thee in the furnace of affliction.” Enduring affliction builds within us a strong heart but it is a strong heart that carries us onward when trials come. As with the most sought after cedar post, our heart and our character is strengthened in adversity.
“A mother is a person who seeing there are four pieces of pie for five people promptly announces she never did care for pie.” Tenneve Jordan My life is intimately entwined with the lives of two mothers; my own and the mother of my children. These amazing mothers have a solid array of common traits which reveal their unusual and rare character. 1. They both sacrificed careers to nurture the tender lives of the children that came to them. 2. They both gave up nice things to see that their children’s needs were met. 3. They both gave up hours and hours of sleep to ease a sore throat or calm night fears. 4. They both live model lives that reflected socially solid moral values and taught those values to their children. 5……The list could go on forever. In a materialistic world where social status and possessions have more value than children, it is becoming increasingly rare to see women whose prime desire is to fulfill their greatest contribution to society…raising healthy children. Mothers reign supreme!!
“Wear a smile and have friends; wear a frown and have wrinkles” George Elliott
Imagine living in a world without smiles. My spirits would not be lifted when my wife smiles at me every morning. I would never again see the most disarming smile in the world, that of my son Troy Tait. Life would turn from joy to sadness, pleasure to pain, hope to fear. There is no medicine to lift the soul like that of a smile from a friend…or a stranger. Nat King Cole changed the world with the lyrics of the immortal song “Smile.” These lines are special:
“Light up your face with gladness. Hide every trace of sadness. Although a tear ay be ever so near. That’s the time you must keep on trying. Smile, what’s the use of crying. You’ll find life is still worth while, if you’ll just smile.”
Change the world today. SMILE!
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison
Every day I wake I thank a loving Heavenly Father and two loving Earthly Parents for a carefree childhood, balanced with opportunity to learn how to work. I was raised on a farm and my character was framed in the garden, the hay field, the stable and the swimming holes along the virgin river. We did not have very much of the worlds wealth but I did not know that. What I knew was that the family livelihood was dependent on everyone doing their share and doing it whether we felt good or not. I learned that the cows needed to be milked whether it was a warm and sunny day or if there was two feet of new snow on the ground, and if the cow did not get milked she would stop giving. I learned that if the garden did not get watered when our water turn came, the corn would curl up and die. So many a night at 1:00 am I walked the banks of the irrigation ditch with a flashlight to turn the water to our garden. Come rain, come shine, the work had to be done. Fortunately there were no unions to tell us when we could or could not work or for how long. There were no child advocates to tell my parents what they could or could not require of me.
I have been modestly successful in my life because my employers knew I could be depended upon to show up for work, return value for value and do my best. I increased my income by working longer, earning promotions, expanding my skills through education…not by whining that I was getting paid enough.
The Dean of the Harvard Business School, when told by a student that he didn’t complete an assignment because he wasn’t feeling well. The dean responded: “90% of the work in this country is done by people who don’t feel very well.:
Work has dignity and builds character and self esteem. The idea that the government must provide opportunity for the masses is destructive to the social fiber of the most opportunity filled country in the world. Continued preaching that government is the answer to solving our social ills holds only the promise of dethroning work as the most noble of character strands on a cataclysmic scale.