Simple Pleasures Part VI: Look Up


Colorado has some of the bluest skies I have ever seen and it brought back memories of growing up with those blue skies.  It also had white putty clouds that as a child I would look at during the day.  On our recent trip to Colorado, Nadine asked me to look at the clouds and tell me what I saw.

I the first cloud on the left reminded me of a puffy heart which you might make out with some imagination.  The second picture on the left is a little harder to imagine, but the bottom cloud links like a funny elephant with a trunk and two droopy eyes.  I took this picture about four minutes after looking at it and the animal changed.  Before it looked like a wolf, but by the time I took a picture of the clouds, it had changed into a droopy elephant–at least that’s what I saw.

If you stare at the pictures enough, your mind can imagine various shapes and animals that can come from the pictures.  The interesting thing is that it does cost you to look at the clouds.  I’m not talking about money.  I’m talking about time.  It takes time to take our eyes off the busyness of our lives and look to the skies.  We have to consciously look up and our natural tendency is to look forward at to what we need to do, or regretfully look back on the poor choices we made with others.

Simple pleasures are all around us if we take the time to re-acquaint ourselves with those experiences we did as a child.  On this journey, if we want to cut back the complexities of life, we will need to plug-in to the simple pleasures that were once ours when we were young.  It’s a choice that you can choose today.  So look up.

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Simple Pleasures Part V: Tastes Remembered


Have you ever taken a bite out of something and instantly feel that you are transported back in time to an earlier place with the exact taste emanating from your mouth?  I had one of those experiences the other day when Nadine came home from grocery shopping. I have been eating very healthy over the last several months and more specifically since I had the run-in with my heart.  On this heart healthy diet, all salt is cut out along with white breads and desserts.

Just a side note.  I love desserts.  I mean I could live on desserts.  I not only have one sweet tooth, but my whole mouth is filled with teeth that devour sweets and crave more when they are finished with one dessert.  It is an inherited gene from my mother who has to have a sweet at the end of each meal as well as having sweets between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner.  On this diet, sweets are out, so I have to get my sweet teeth to like the natural sugars in fruits like cherries, strawberries, and blueberries.  Right now the peaches are in season which is an alternative to the above sweets.

Well back to my story.  Nadine brought home some vine ripened tomatoes which looked good so I took one and bit into it.  Most of the tomatoes we’ve bought seem tasteless and never taste like the ones you pick off the vine.  Well I got a big surprise when my teeth cut into the skin of the tomato.  The tomato was so delicious and instantly took me back to my roots when I was 2-3.

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I grew up in a small home for the first 3-4 years of my life and then moved into the one my father built by hand.  Every summer we would grow a huge garden about 25’X25′ and would plant corn, green beans, squash, water melon, peas, and tomatoes.  When they were ripe, my mother and father would pick them and give my sister and I one to eat out on the back step.  We would get a salt shaker and begin to bite into that juicy tomato.  The taste permeated every crevice of my mouth with delicious emissions of flavor.  The juice would run down the sides of our mouths.

On this particular day when I tasted the tomato that Nadine brought home, I was instantly transported back to that back step where I would finish off a whole tomato.  The simple pleasure of eating a tomato as a very young boy still stayed with me as I experienced the event over again over 60 years later.

On this journey we will be triggered with sights, sounds, and tastes that take us back to the good old days when we were sitting on the back step eating a ripe tomato.  Its in those experiences that we learn to enjoy life in it’s most simplest form.

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Simple Pleasures Part IV: New to Old


During my early years on this earth, my family would make the trek from Seibert, Colorado to Powell, Wyoming to visit my mom’s parents twice a year.  It was an all day adventure starting early in the morning, driving through Denver and then heading north through Cheyenne, Wyoming.  I would always hear this song ringing in my mother’s voice.  “Cheyenne, Cheyenne, hop on your pony, there’s room here for two dear, and after the ceremony.”  The song would end abruptly, or thats all my mom knew.  It had a cute ring to the melody, and I can still hear that song in my ear even as I write the words and I wish you could hear the melody as well.  You would love it (or maybe learn to hate it).

After writing the above paragraph, I decided to look up the song and found it was written in 1906.  The following is a partial rendition of the song and it’s not Cheyenne, but Shy Ann as you will see why.

Way out in old Wyoming long ago,                                                                                          Where coyotes lurk while night winds howl and blow                                                               A cowboy’s lusty voice rang out “Hello”                                                                                        And echoed through the valley down below,                                                                           Then came back a maiden’s answer sweet and clear                                                       Cowboy tossed his hat up in the air Said he,                                                                                                     “I’ve come to take you right away from here                                                                     Cheyenne they say is miles away, but they’ve a preacher there”                                         Then she just drooped her eye, she was so very shy                                                                    So shy, oh my!, and then he made reply                                                                                  Oooh-oooh-oooh                                                                                                                               Shy Ann, shy Ann, hop on my pony                                                                                        There’s room here for two, Dear                                                                                                         But after the ceremony                                                                                                                  We’ll both ride back home, Dear, as one On my pony from old Cheyenne

There is another verse, but you get the drift.  I never knew there was more to the story and am going to ask my mother when I see her next.  Well back to the story.

My grandpa was an irrigation farmer outside Powell and planted beets, green beans, and alfalfa for the cattle.  He had this old John Deere Tractor that he would use to plow the fields and would let me get on it with him and drive it around the farm.  I was never so proud when I sat on the lap of my granddad and drove that tractor.  I felt so big.

Well deja vu.  I took my grandson to Chatfield Gardens to look at the butterflies and farm animals.  After viewing the butterflies and animals, there was a sign that pointed to a play area for kids to play.  We walked down this winding path through the wooded landscape and rounded the bend to find something that brought back those memories of my childhood with my grandpa.

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Here is my grandson with my wife sitting on the same kind of tractor that my grandpa had me set on his lap.  Mind you, this tractor was dug in the ground and would never be able to move, but my new grandson was meeting the old and having the time of his life.  It involves the simple pleasures of re-introducing the old into our lives so that we can reclaim the joys of our youth when we were young.

On this journey we will come across things that are old that remind us of when we were young.  Take time to reminisce about those times as the simple pleasures can come flowing back into our lives.  The key is taking time.

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Simple Pleasures Part III: Knowing is Understanding


While we were at the butterfly pavilion, I took some time to talk to Bob.  Bob had worked  over the years and was now a volunteer in the pavilion.  He was very knowledgable about butterflies and spiked my interest with his information.  He was specifically knowledgable about Monach butterflies.  Below is a picture I took of one of them flying in the pavilion.

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They can only fly about 10-12 miles per hour but make a 1200 mile flight from North America to Mexico every year between September and October and back again.  Once I started calculating the average time a butterfly lives (2 weeks), the numbers didn’t add up.

What he said was that when they start their four stage transformation around March and April.  The four stages consist of eggs that hatch into caterpillars.  The caterpillars form  a chrysalis or a cocoon that then metamorphosis into a butterfly.  What they do before they die is lay eggs for their next generation to hatch and turn from a caterpillar to a butterfly.  The butterflies of the first three generations only live between 2-6 weeks and then lay their eggs and die.  The fourth generation butterfly is different.  This Monarch begins to fly south for the winter and has been known to fly up to 1200 miles before it lays it’s eggs and dies.  When it’s time to return from where their ancestors came from, off they go and the cycle begins again with each generation determined to make their path closer and closer to the final destination.

This information cost me nothing, but I gained an immense appreciation for the monarch butterfly that is determined to fulfill it’s goal and destiny.  We all have a mark from God as to what our gifts and abilities are in this world.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we like the Monarch knew what that destiny was and put our energy in fulfilling the plan that God had for us.  Part of that plan comes in the pages of the bible, old and new testaments.  I have spent a good portion of my life reading it from cover to cover and am learning what He wants me to do and be.

On this journey, we all have the opportunity to find out what His plan is for each of us.  That plan is different, based on our uniquenesses and personalities, but if we seek for and search for that plan with all of our heart, we will find it.

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Simple Pleasures Part II: Thru a Child’s Eyes


As I mentioned in Simple Pleasures Part I, Nadine and I journeyed up to Denver to take care of one of our grandkids and allow his parents some reprieve to get away for their anniversary.  We planned out our time with him by giving him some experiences that we would enjoy but that he would enjoy as well.

Today we ate a healthy breakfast of yogurt, granola and fruit.  That was our healthy breakfast, but we threw in four small pancakes with peanut butter on top to satisfy his palate.  In looking at our options, we decided on _____________________ in Littleton, CO.  It had a butterfly pavilion with a petting farm and botanical gardens.  Something for every member of the family.

We packed up the snacks, extra diapers, more snacks for the adults, water, rain coats in case it rained, back packs, and snow shovels just in case (not really but to take a toddler it takes a lot).  We plotted the address on google maps and off we went.  It said it would take around 20 minutes and the time frame wasn’t far off.

Once we paid the entrance fee, we were off to the butterfly pavilion to see the beautiful butterflies.  I found out that there are 10-12 kinds of butterflies that exist in Colorado and they had all of them in the plastic hut.  Below are just a few of the species we saw.

At one point in our expedition, Greyson sat down on a log and just stared at one of the butterflies.  He was taken by the beauty of each one of them and I couldn’t help but take some time myself and see the beauty that God had created in these beautiful creations.

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All of us have been a child at one point in our lives and have experienced being amazed at God’s creation.  It could be a butterfly.  An ant.  Worm.  Caterpillar.  Frog.  You name it, a child has observed it and taken time to see the comings and goings of that animal or insect or rodent.  Children are not preoccupied with things they have to do.  They life in the moment.  They don’t worry about what they have to do tomorrow.  The most important thing for that child is living in the moment.  Every moment.

It reminds me of what Jesus said about worry.  He said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow.  Each day has enough troubles of its own.”  Matthew 6:34.  He was telling us to focus on today and live in the moment.  Every moment like that of a child.

On this journey we have a choice today to live in the moment we are in.  The journey is not about taking someone elses journey, but our own.  Take time today to see what’s before you and enjoy the butterfly that flies by.

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Simple Pleasures: Part I


Nadine and I took a flight to Denver, Colorado to toddler sit for our grandson in Colorado.  We gave her son and wife some time at a resort so that they could celebrate their anniversary and offered to sit for their son.  We both are going back to our Colorado roots that brought us into the world.  Growing up in Colorado created many memories for me and just seeing Denver brings back so many memories of our family traveling 132 miles from Seibert, my real roots, west to see the huge metropolis of Denver.  We would make that trek on a monthly basis as my dad had to get supplies that couldn’t be obtained in such a small town of Seibert.

You see, I grew up in a town of 200, including the cats and dogs.  I went to school from first grade through high school with basically the same 9-10 other students, and graduated with a class of 10.  Every time the plane flies over Denver, I am brought back with memories of sitting outside a warehouse with my mom and sister while my dad got his supplies.

We decided to take a walk to get some exercise.  As we walked out of the house, there were some ominous clouds, but we decided to brave the potential weather without coats or umbrellas and risk what might happen.  About a block into our walk, it started to spit, but it wasn’t enough to stop us so on we went.  It went from a spitting to a drizzle.  It’s been awhile since I made a choice to walk in the rain.  I do remember decades ago when I was young and foolish that I would do that kind of thing with a girl I would date.  It seemed romantic to walk in the rain.  But long ago, I began to plan for inclement weather and took necessary rain gear, appropriate clothes and the like to prevent a drenching.

Our minds moved from the obvious, the rain pelting us, to the beauty of the rivers we crossed, the barn filled with horses that had been put in out of the rain, the unique homes with acres and acres of beautiful landscape, and a family with a three-year old and two 18 month old children taking a walk as well.  We went from tree to tree where the water had not fallen and got more wet between the trees.

Not once did Nadine nor I complain about the rain or how we were getting rained on.  We appreciated the beauty around us and the walk we were taking.  We were experiencing the simple pleasures of life that had seemed to escape our life for decades.  Mind you, there are other simple pleasures we are seeking to incorporate into our lives, but walking in the rain without the necessary gear is one pleasure we plan to do in the future.

On this journey, there are going to be simple pleasures that are all around us.  It only takes the opening of our eyes and choosing to act on those pleasures that real joy for living emerges.

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What Is Most Important?


Being faced with death has an interesting way to get your attention and give you a different perspective of life.  I have asked these following questions more than I can count to people I have come in contact with.  “If you had one day to live and your life would be taken at the end of the day what would you do?  How would you plan your day?  What things would be on your agenda? ”  It seems easy enough to answer that question until you come face to face with the reality of that dilemma.

I was at the initial doctor that I visited for a follow-up on the stent that was put in.  He shocked me with the message that my LAD artery was not 99% blocked, but 99.5% blocked.  It doesn’t seem like much unless you are dealing with life and death.  He said I was living on borrowed time and told me that my wife was my savior in getting the help I needed before it was too late.  Let me ask you that question.  What would you invest your time in if you had one more day to live?  What things would you drop that you are presently doing?  How would you live your last day on earth?  What you choose to do the last day of your life becomes what is most important in your life.

For me, money was the least of my worries during this time.  I didn’t think about working more or having more clients come in.  I was not interested in buying anything, — period.  My only thought was seeking the Lord for guidance and spending time with the ones in my life whom I love.  God and others.  Nothing else.

Yet in our society, we seem to be exchanging the most important things in life for other things that we think will bring us happiness and fulfillment.  Striving for money seems to be a desire in our culture as we put it up on a pedestal and seek after more of it.  Withdrawing to secluded places that have beauty for rest and relaxation to take away our stress is another avenue that pops in the minds of those who walk around–vacationing.  Others think that getting the next car or next house, or more clothes will bring fulfillment to our lives–stuff.  The fact is, these things can bring temporary satisfaction, but the fulfillment wears off rather quickly and we find ourselves striving for more.  One of the richest men in the world was asked the question one time if he could have anything in the world, he replied, “One more dollar.”

We live in a society that seems to think that things will be the god that will ultimately satisfy.  But things, money, other places will pale in significance when your life is at stake.  Take my word for it.  I came across a passage where this message was being communicated to the nation of Israel.  “Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols. Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the LORD. “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” ‭Jeremiah‬ ‭2:11-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬.

The Lord was speaking to the Israelite nation saying that they had made two mistakes.  The first mistake was forsaking the God who created all.  He is the source of live and living water, but they turned away from Him to other things.  The second mistake was depending upon themselves to provide for their lives, and not depending upon the God who is able.  Our plan to bring fulfillment to ourselves is broken and can never satisfy permanently.

On this journey, we only have one life to live.  It’s helpful to contemplate what we are seeking to bring fulfillment and change our vision before it is too late.

 

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