Stopping To Smell The Roses

smell the roses


A cup of coffee, my favorite pen and a fresh tablet… I guess it doesn’t get much better than this.

Understanding it is truly the little things in life that bring joy, is a gift from God. It’s easy to get sidetracked by the bigger things in life. We get consumed with the tasks of life and let them choke out the more important things in life. That’s what happened to me today.

I’ve often heard it referred to as “stopping to smell the roses.”

I’ve also bought my share of roses but rarely take a whiff in the process. I’m reminded of my bad habit of missing the important things… Again.

Today was my youngest daughters first cross country meet. Not of the year, but of her life. It’s not completely my fault due to an error by the hosting school to not send a follow-up schedule change yesterday.

I dropped the little one off at school two hours before the meet was to start. She was a bit nervous so I said, “I don’t care how you finish, I’m just proud of you for doing something in spite of being nervous.” She quickly answered with a grin, “You mean like driving the go-carts”? I smiled and answered, “Yeah, like driving the go-carts.” That was last weekends, “Face Your Fears” lesson. Her smile indicated her appreciation for my persistence.

Instead of driving leisurely to the meet, my calculations gave me about an hour and a half to multi-task and knock down a lot of birds with a few stones.

When I got the word the meet was to start an hour earlier, it was too late. I drove like an idiot trying desperately to make up time, but to no avail. I missed my daughters first cross country race. Some of her teammates got the information late and missed the race as well.

That doesn’t change the way I feel right now. I know those “important items” needing to be crossed off my list could have waited. I could have done those later and if pushed, I could have postponed them until Monday.

The only thing I couldn’t change is my little girls first race, whenever it was going to be.

As I was speeding down the freeway, glancing between the speedometer and the clock, regret settled in my stomach. Another rose I let slip away without a sniff.

My daughter has a great heart and is always forgiving. She knows I’m proud of her, not just for placing with a good time, but mostly for facing her fears and giving absolutely all she had. When I finally got there, I could see her sense of accomplishment, in her smile and demeanor. She wore her sweat like a medal of honor.

I can’t get that time back. I’ll never have the image in my mind of my little girl finishing her first race. All the years our youngest daughter watched her big sister play sports, now it’s her big sisters turn to watch and cheer, and that’s exactly what she did. My wife took time off from work to make sure she was there as well. If #2 wasn’t at college she wouldn’t have missed it either.

I really enjoyed the cartoon “The Flinstones” when I was a kid. Well, except for the part at the beginning of the show, when the saber tooth house cat kicked Fred out of his own house and locked the door.

Often in that cartoon Fred would do something stupid or selfish, usually to his wife Wilma or his daughter Pebbles. When Fred realized how foolish he’d been, he would start to physically shrink in his chair. He would shrink to the point where he was one-eighth the size of the seat itself.

I didn’t understand what the cartoonist was trying to communicate at that time in my life. I understand now that Fred was feeling regret, he was feeling smaller as a man.

That’s how I feel today…



I love stories or books with happy endings, who doesn’t? Although, I bet I’m not the only one who gets a little somber even after a great last chapter.

There are lots of reasons I get a tad depressed after a happy ending. First of all, I’m going to miss being captivated by the story that has so engrossed me, I now feel like part of the story. One of the other reasons I raise my head up a little on the bummed side is that the story might have been fiction. Even though the ending was pleasurable it sometimes leaves me with the desire for a more perfect world instead of the fallen one we’re walking in.

The biggest reason for my solemn introspective is the fact that it’s over. Never to be duplicated in exactly the same way. The storyline has been revealed and so has my heart. I know there are more happy endings to be read and lived, but not this one, this one’s finished.

The great books always seem to teach us something more than just the story. The truly great ones teach us something about ourselves. Most of the time, the wisdom learned from the story is a painful revelation of our shortcomings.

I’m fascinated with the books all around me. Every person in this world is a living book… I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out what type of book the characters I witness are writing.

The words tell a small part of the story. A few words from the author and I can tell if it’s non-fiction or fiction. I’ve also learned I don’t have a clue how to figure out their story based on their cover.

Some of my favorite living books are plain ole paperbacks. The actions of these books tell their story. Most often their words aren’t pretty or poetic, but they’re deep in meaning and wisdom.

If you’re not looking for these living books you might miss them. They might just look like people walking around. Make no mistake, they’re more than people walking around. They are living books telling a story… Some fiction, some non-fiction, happy, sad, joyful or full of sorrow. Every one of them writing the chapters of their lives.

I was fortunate early in my life to get a front row seat to the writing of my dad’s life. Although a simple man of few words, the actions, which are the words, spoke volumes. He left the flexible template and outline for me to follow in order to write my own story.

Some of the chapters in my dad’s life weren’t easy. The story line took some twists and turns resulting in difficult physical and financial times. No matter where the writing of his life took him, there was always faith, trust, joy and peace in his heart with a snap in his step.

He learned to weave every chapter of his life together with God as his inspiration and strength. In my dad’s last chapter, less than two months before God took him home, he had this to say, “Son, you know I don’t want to leave. God’s blessed me here with a great family, but if he chooses to take me, I win either way.”

After reading the great book of my dad’s life, I am left with joy and sadness… The book is closed, but I’m still learning from it. His living book has also revealed to me the many rewrites I need in my life.

I really enjoyed my dad’s living book… It was such an amazing book, I just never, ever wanted it to end…

While writing the book of my life I had and idea how to finish it, but needed some direction and inspiration.

I thank God he provided my dad for that purpose.

I am determined to finish with honor, “The Last Chapter”…


larry the loser


We have two dogs. Larry and Lola. Larry is older than Lola, he’s a little over six years old and Lola is a couple of years younger.

By the way, it wasn’t my idea to get either of the dogs. I nicknamed Larry, “Larry The Loser,” right after we got him. It was an easy call because he started doing bad things right away.

Let me give you a little background info for our story and on our cast of characters. I’m not an animal hater, the truth is I like animals. I still miss our old cat named “Box,” he died when Lar (pronounced Lair) was around one and a half.

The reason I didn’t want the dogs was the same both times. I didn’t want to clean up after them. All three of our girls gave the emotional pitch for the dogs, especially the first one, Lar. I got the perfect parent snow job. “We promise to clean up after him, and feed and water him everyday”! “You guys won’t have to do anything”! “You promised we’d get another animal”! etc, etc, etc…

Guess who cleans up the backyard smellies? You guessed it, me… McKenzie and Ali are gone off to college, but it wasn’t much different when they weren’t. Gurm picked up some bad habits from her sisters and struggles with the coordination of holding the shovel in one hand and the collapsing plastic bag in the other.

Lar is a good natured dog. He’s friendly and loves people. He’s also smart as a whip and although difficult to admit, has a better personality than me. One of his favorite past times is to entertain. He loves guests and likes to sport his black bow-tie for the occasions. He might be a tad conceited, but he knows he looks good with his “slick duds” on.

Lar has it all, personality, good looks and charm. He can shake, roll over and dance. In fact, it might be possible for Lar to learn anything, due to his addiction to “jerky treats.”

Lar has one big flaw, he’s male and he likes to mark his territory. It doesn’t matter where to him… He wants it all… I’m OK if he thinks he owns the outside, but he and I have come to a complete disagreement about the inside of the house.

He won’t pee in the house when any of us are around. No, he’s pretty sneaky as well. He’ll wait until no one is in sight to declare the couch, chairs or drapes his new conquered territory.

Lar knows he’s not supposed to pee in the house, but he does it anyway. He’s got a lot of talents, but playing poker isn’t one of them. He gives himself away. He puts his tail between his legs, licks his lips and turns his head from side to side looking longingly for the backyard.

Lar doesn’t look so proud these days. He doesn’t strut around like he used to when he didn’t have to wear a diaper. Once the diaper is installed Lar hangs his head and heads straight for his basket.

Lar is my little buddy, we are friends after all. I don’t know if I’d call him my best friend, but we’re pretty tight. We’re a lot alike Lar and me. We’re both stubborn and strong willed, but I have an advantage over Lar… I have thumbs!

I wonder what kind of diaper or control God will place on me for my stubborn and sometimes willful disobedience? I know the rules my Master has for me to live my life by, but sometimes like Lar, I just want to get my way regardless of what my Master wants.

I know that when I screw up and go my own way pleasing myself my Master will still feed and water me. He’ll still provide protection and provision. I know that despite my disobedience He’ll still give me treats occasionally whether I deserve them or not.

All this love and forgiveness from my heavenly Father and I’m not near as cute as my little buddy “Larry The Loser”!

NOTE* (If you care to see Lar, he’s in a video my wife shot for a contest that she won. Go to youtube and type in “larry the loser.” My youngest daughter has a small cameo appearance in the video as well.)


vegas wedding


My nephew on my wife’s side got married in Las Vegas this weekend. I have to confess I’m a little biased because I don’t really care much for Vegas. I’m not much of gambler or a fan of fancy shows.

I like the architecture and I’m amazed by the amount of money people have spent to turn that place into what it’s become.

We took a cab from the airport to our hotel. The cab driver set the tone for my weekend. He wasn’t singing the praises of “Sin City.” No, he was telling the ugly truth and getting free therapy all at the same time. In fact we paid him to drive while he vented his way through his session.

Our new Chamber of Commerce nightmare was an out of work electrician. He worked seven days a week driving that cab to support his wife and four kids. He taught us a lot in a short amount of time. We learned that Nevada, made up mostly of the population of Vegas was the leading state in the Union in unemployment at around 14%.

He was just getting started. He said, “You know Vegas has more bankruptcies than any other state too.” He continued, “They have to tear down one of the bankrupt casinos that were under construction when the “hammer” dropped. I guess it rusted or something, now it has to be imploded”!

“That one over there,” he pointed, “was put on hold, that was gonna employ 300 electricians.” His voice trailed off.

The electrician-turned-cabby had me in a somber mood at this point, but being the comprehensive instructor, he still had a few more facts for us to learn. “You know this place is “number one” in the country for childhood prostitution”! “Really,” I answered, although not at all surprised. “Yeah, and for high school drop-outs too.” He added.

I sat there listening and knew some of the statistics, but not all of them. His viewpoint made the facts more real than just hearing them in the media. After he dropped us off in front of the hotel he finished with a spark of enthusiasm, “Have a good weekend Bro”! “Thanks Man,” I replied.

I enjoyed my weekend but for different reasons than the majority. I enjoy spending time with my in-laws and we don’t get to see them that often living almost 1000 miles away.

I bought a new pen Saturday for this posting occasion. I love pens, I love what they represent. I cherish the hope of what can be done with a pen, and I’m excited at the prospect of it.

The pen was beautiful and expensive. It has a matted gold body with a brilliant gold clip, rings and tip. My classic new pen ran out of ink after I got around 50 words into this post.

So I experienced in Vegas something similar to what others experience in Vegas. Disappointment… My disappointment was temporary and my need easily fulfilled. I used a cheap throw away hotel pen to temporarily squelch my addiction. My guess is that the general population there won’t be as lucky.

Last night as we were passing through the casino we heard loud cheering. An average guy who looked like he hadn’t slept in a few days started screaming. “WhoooHooo”! “I’M THE KING OF ROCK AND ROLL”!!! “WhoooHooo”! “SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY THREE DOLLARS”!!! “I TOLD YOU”!!! “I TOLD YOU”!!! “I TOLD YOU”!!! “WhoooHooo”!!!

Although, not being a gambler, I thought to myself, “I bet he doesn’t get out of here with that $1700 bucks.” I don’t think I could have found anybody to take that bet.

Oh, my pen? Yeah, I lost the receipt.

That shiny new pen reminds me of Las Vegas. They both offer glitz, glamour and hope. In the end, they both delivered regret.

To some Vegas truly is “The City of Broken Dreams.”

For me, it’s just “The City of Broken Pens.”… and “Lost Souls”…


test runMy youngest daughter leaves on a one week field trip tonight. She’s never been away from us for that long in her short twelve year life.

She’s a little apprehensive about the sleeping conditions, the seasick medicine and the confidence in it, the no cell phone rule, and the time away from us.

I guess this is like a test run. She’ll get to see what it’s like to live away, sort of on her own without her parents for a week. We’ll get to see what it’s like to be empty nesters for a week.

I’m not diggin’ this test run… The sun will rise and set seven times before she gets back home. Then the rising and setting of the sun will continue for a time, a very short amount of time… And she’ll be gone.

She texted her sister at college yesterday to let her big sister know that she was “on her way to work.” She has volunteered to work at the library restocking books. I have to say I’m impressed with the fact that she went directly to her passion to find work, she doesn’t care that she doesn’t get paid, she loves it.

This, of course, is another test run for her to see what it’s going to be like someday when she works for real.

I know it’s the natural way of things, I’ve been down this road before. It’s just that this is the last road… My job is to make sure she’s on that road and knows which direction she’s headed. I know she won’t get lost because she has a GPS. (God Provides Service) She’s learned that with God she cannot be lost.

I know it’s a gradual process, off to college, back for the summers, it takes a while. When McKenzie left for college our life changed forever, it hasn’t been the same since. The realization that yes they do grow up and leave is very real. That was a difficult adjustment period, especially for my wife.

I thought it would be easier when Ali left for college. It wasn’t… Change is a monumental task. The reality of coming to the day you’ve prepared your kids for their whole life. I hate to use the worn out coinage, but “surreal” really does best define it. I’ve stood there in shock twice now, struggling to grasp the realness in the moment of drastic change. And then they’re gone…

That reality of kids growing up and going off to college caught me off guard, and I was watching carefully, them and my watch, and it still snuck up on me.

The little one is learning valuable tips on how to prepare for a trip. My wife has made several lists, crossed of each item as they finished them. She’s learning how to be organized and prepare for change. This change is just a different place to sleep for a week.

My list of things I need to get done before she leaves on her more permanent trip is getting close to the bottom. I’ve crossed off many things. There are more items crossed off our list now than items outstanding…I hope I haven’t forgotten anything on her list…

She’s getting ready to go now. I’ll drive her to school and I’ll wait until the bus pulls out of the parking lot. We’ll be waving at each other until she’s out of site.

I’ll be thinking of that day in the not so distant future when I’ll be waving goodbye for the last time…