Sunday, December 29, 2013

Helpful hint

It's time to box up the Christmas decorations and put them away. Here's a hack for keeping those strings of lights from mysteriously tangling themselves up: Wrap each strand around one of those awful Christmas DVDs you[r in-laws] bought your kids, instead of coiling them up or stuffing them into plastic Walmart bags, and fighting the tangles again next year.  A stiff piece of cardboard works, too (I'm guessing you have some of that lying around somewhere right now). BONUS: prevents repeat viewings in June.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Owl Post: Me and the Carpenter's Son

Years ago, we had a carpenter living next door to us. He really knew his business. I was amazed at his skill and knowledge. One day his oldest son was playing in our yard with our second son, Adam, and they were moving some wood around in our yard. We walked over to them and Adam looked up all bright eyed and said, "were building a club house!"

His mom looked at him doubtfully and said, "Do you know HOW to build a club house?"Adam's enthusiasm didn't even flicker. It took him about half a second to point to the carpenter's son and say, “me and HIM do!”

We laughed, but I've thought ever since then, that there are many times when I need to accomplish something difficult, and I absolutely don't know how I can do it, but “Me and the Carpenter's Son do!"

-Jim Sadler

Prepared. | For Life.™

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thoughts on "Service"

"To help other people at all times."

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

The other day, the YW of my ward held a service project. It reminded me of a lesson I did in Priesthood Meeting once on the meaning of service.  I distinguished Service from service: in other words, there's a difference between a Service Project,™ and just being helpful because it's the right thing to do. There's also a difference between doing something because someone else set up "service hours" and simply helping out.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Olive Salad

Me, along with a couple of other young officers,
enjoying a fantastic Turkish lunch.
Nine years ago this month, I deployed with my squadron to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.  After a very long, cold flight across both the Pond and the Med (the KC-135 is a notoriously uncomfortable ride), we arrived at the Turkish (though very American) Air Base near Adana, which itself is very near Tarsus. (I'd say ancient Tarsus, but all the cities in Turkey are ancient, so it's kind of a useless adjective here.)

My first night there, my team, along with our out-going counterparts, went into the village for dinner.  I was excited to try some new foods and experience new tastes, but It never crossed my mind that I'd have to let go of some of my Western ways.  I looked over the menu, which was in English, and read over the offerings. Lamb kebabs, couscous, cheesey bread, baklava and more. Oh, goody!  I decided to start off with something light, so I ordered the olive salad, because I like salad, and I like olives.

This was no Olive Garden-variety salad.

I was very surprised when the waiter brought me EXACTLY what I'd ordered.  It was a plate heaped with sliced green olives, drenched in olive oil - an olive salad. Definitely not what I'd expected.

It was delicious.

And it taught me a few things.

First, our assumptions are often so very wrong. When in a new situation, we may find we have to toss our assumptions and "understanding" out the window.  I'd ordered a salad, and everyone knows what a salad looks like, right?  A bed of greens, some fixins, and dressing. And olives are black, right? Well, this salad was green, and there was dressing. There the similarities ended. After my initial confusion, I resigned myself that "this is what 'olive salad' is, and they gave me exactly what I'd asked for. Better give it a try."  So I did.

It's often said that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.  My first impression on seeing this new dish was mixed, to say the least.  I didn't know what to make of it, and at first I was reluctant to try it. Only when I put aside my preconceived ideas, my own traditions and "right' thinking, and gave it a chance to prove itself, was I able to really enjoy this unique taste. It's probably the case that the first impression is as wrong as the assumptions that led to it.  First impressions can be important, but it's more important to move beyond them.

Which brings me to: So it's not what you expected? Get over it! Give it and yourself a chance, and you may find it's something you enjoy. I find that's the case more often than not, whether in food, play, a calling, a job, an assignment, or whathaveyou. You may have to stretch your understanding a little bit to appreciate something, or make it work, but you can do it, if you persevere.

Even if you don't enjoy it, you'll probably be ok, and better for having tried at all.

Try it, you might like it.

"I do so like green eggs and ham.
Thank you.
Thank you, Sam-I-Am."

(And if anyone knows of a good Turkish restaurant, anywhere, please let me know)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Owl Post: I Am Nothing Like Jesus

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly-missed boarding-- ALL BUT ONE!!!

He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination, and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.

He was glad he did.

The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.

When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?"

She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly." As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister...." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes.

She continued, "Are you Jesus?"

He stopped in mid-stride ... and he wondered. He gently went back and said, "no, I am nothing like Jesus - He is good, kind, caring, loving, and would never have bumped into your display in the first place."

The girl gently nodded: "I only asked because I prayed for Jesus to help me gather the apples. He sent you to help me, so you are like Him - only He knows who will do His will. Thank you for hearing His call, Mister."

Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "are you Jesus?" Do people mistake you for Jesus? That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference, as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace. If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting scripture and going to Church. It's actually living the Word, as life unfolds day to day. You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked up you and me on a hill called Calvary, and paid in full for our damaged fruit.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lorenzo Snow

"Be upright, just and merciful, exercising a spirit of nobility and godliness in all your intentions and resolutions—in all your acts and dealings. Cultivate a spirit of charity; be ready to do for others more than you would expect from them if circumstances were reversed. Be ambitious to be great, not in the estimation of the worldly minded, but in the eyes of God, and to be great in this sense, “Love the Lord our God with all your might, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” You must love mankind because they are your brethren, the offspring of God. Pray diligently for this spirit of philanthropy, this expansion of thought and feeling, and for power and ability to labor earnestly in the interest of Messiah’s kingdom."

If you look closely enough, you can find Scouting's Ideals in there.


Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Owl Post: How do you eat your Stew?

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, 'Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.

The Lord led the holy man to two doors.

He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly.
They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful.

But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, 'You have seen Hell.

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one.
There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The holy man said, 'I don't understand. 'It is simple,' said the Lord. 'It requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other. The greedy think only of themselves.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, December 9, 2013

I called it

As expected, I never did have to make good on my offer to fund someone's Wood Badge experience. I even sold my golf clubs.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Owl Post: Jesse the Chicken Plucker

Imagine, if you had to do it.

Jesse was a chicken plucker. That's right. He stood on a line in a chicken factory and spent his days pulling the feathers off dead chickens so the rest of us wouldn't have to. It wasn't much of a job. But at the time, Jesse didn't think he was much of a person. His father was a brute of a man. His dad was actually thought to be mentally ill and treated Jesse rough all of his life. Jesse's older brother wasn't much better. He was always picking on Jesse and beating him up.

Yes, Jesse grew up in a very rough home in West Virginia.

Life was anything but easy. And he thought life didn't hold much hope for him. That's why he was standing in this chicken line, doing a job that darn few people wanted. In addition to all the rough treatment at home, it seems that Jesse was always sick. Sometimes it was real physical illness, but way too often it was all in his head. He was a small child, skinny and meek. That sure didn't help the situation any. When he started to school, he was the object of every bully on the playground. He was a hypochondriac of the first order.

For Jesse, tomorrow was not always something he looked forward to. But, he had dreams. He wanted to be a ventriloquist. He found books on ventriloquism. He practiced with sock puppets and saved his hard earned dollars until he could get a real ventriloquist dummy. When he got old enough, he joined the military. And even though many of his hypochondriac symptoms persisted, the military did recognize his talents and put him in the entertainment corp.

That was when his world changed.

He gained confidence. He found that he had a talent for making people laugh, and laugh so hard they often had tears in their eyes. Yes, little Jesse had found himself. You know, the history books are full of people who overcame a handicap to go on and make a success of themselves, but Jesse is one of the few I know of who didn't overcome it.

Instead he used his paranoia to make a million dollars, and become one of the best-loved characters of all time in doing it! Yes, that little paranoid hypochondriac, who transferred his nervousness into a successful career, still holds the Record for the most Emmy's given in a single category.

That wonderful, gifted, talented, and nervous comedian who brought us Barney Fife was....Jesse Don Knotts.

Don Knotts, courtesy

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, December 2, 2013


With my release from my Scouting calling, I wanted to explain how much I have learned from this inspired, if not revealed, system, but I didn’t think it appropriate to share a testimony of Scouting in F&T meeting yesterday.

I’ve learned that Scouting, far from being the “activity arm” is really the Aaronic Priesthood (and the Primary) in action - it is actively doing one’s duty to God, through self-improvement and service to others.

It is leadership training and personal growth – stepping outside one’s comfort zone, literally and figuratively (Klondike camps, soaking rains, blisters, dehydration, stretching one’s mind, spirit and will); it is teamwork and practical preparation for a lifetime of being Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent - and missionary WORK.

It’s not so much a patch as a process, but the process is in large part accomplished through the patch.

It is, as has been emphasized over and over in this year’s LDS/BSA centennial year, about learning and doing one’s duty to God (though not necessarily one’s Duty to God book – the two are complimentary, not mutually exclusive).

It is a thousand opportunities to serve, to learn, to work; a thousand more personalized lessons that build character, testimony and lasting relationships, through shared experiences.

A Scout learns about the Creator by experiencing His creation. I am thankful for having had the experiences of the last three years: to have had the opportunity to work with your sons, and shared these experiences with them – to observe the complexities of life in a simple pond, and develop a greater reverence for life; to have studied the night sky, and contemplated the stars, galaxies and deep time and find our place in this vast universe; to have seen my - our - own little place in the grand Plan, and to have learned from the Scouts themselves how to think about such grand ideas.

It’s been said that Scouting isn’t really for the boys, but for the adults who work with them, for as we teach the Scouts, to teach, to lead, to trust, to let others do their own work, to grow from failures, and to lead exemplary lives, it’s difficult to teach Youth such things without trying to embody them yourself, as they can spot a fake a mile away. And so we improve our own lives so as to teach by example. Yet there is always a long way to go to reach the end of that trail. The twelve points of the Scout Law aren’t just for reciting on Wednesday night, but are for living each day of our lives: A Scout is.

I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity of the last three years, and to have worked with each of you. It’s not something I would have asked for, but now it’s not something I wanted to let go of. There are few things in life that leave such an impact. I’d like to thank my Father for having given me this experience.

Prepared. | For Life.™