Victory or Defeat

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win great triumphs, even checkered by failure  than to join the ranks of those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”                                                       – Teddy Roosevelt

My father was a sheep rancher who lived in the day when his home on the range was a “motor home”  propelled by an unusual team.  The quarter horse, Snip, was dependable and trustworthy.  The other half of the team was a big eared mule who was a master at working within self-imposed limits on his personal achievement.  The round-top, canvas covered wagon was father’s home.  A second small, compact wagon (commissary) contained extra supplies including hay and grain for the team, water, etc. and was connected to the back of the wagon with a small chain.  When it was time to move the team pulled them both.

Although indolent, father gave the mule credit for being smart but the animal used his intelligence to cultivate his laziness.

Whenever the camp was moved and the road became steep the mule would cease to pull.  Somehow Blackie knew the load could be lightened if father unhooked the commissary.  The frustrating ritual was for father to unhook the commissary, move the wagon beyond the “obstacle,” come back and get the commissary, hook it to the wagon again and move on.  This pattern persisted until one day father tricked the mule.  When the mule stopped as the train approached a steep incline in the road, father set the brake, wrapped the reins around the handle and stepped down from the wagon.  He walked to the back of the wagon, rattled the chain that connected the commissary and then climbed back into his seat.  He released the brake and slapped the reins on the backs of the animals and up the hill they went.  The mule never knew what hit him.

Father’s message to his family came not through preaching but through his example.  Within the true story of the mule lay a message that inspired me to move beyond the natural instinct to settle for mediocrity.

Happiness comes when, at the end of the day, we can say we reached a little higher, ran a little faster, smiled a little brighter and helped someone else along the way and that we did it by rising above the desire to please self. Perhaps we just need someone to, on occasion, rattle our chain.

 

The Heart

Aside

“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!!

“Give a man a f…

Quote

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.” I do not know the source of this quote but it is timeless. Exploding welfare programs breed indolence and dependance. With no incentive to work, only those who are too embarrassed to gain their livelihood from the sweat of others will be the producers in this world. With the passage of time and the explosion of the welfare state, the greatest economy in the world will be brought to its knees by its inability to find productive workers. Only men and women of character grasp the mental and emotional value of eating and wearing that which you have obtained through your own efforts and those efforts do not include the energy it takes to get off the couch and walk to the welfare office.
Rise up America and reject the doctrine of the dole!!!!