Thursday, January 30, 2014

Owl Post: In God We Trust

You always hear the unusual stories of pennies on the sidewalk being good luck, gifts from angels, etc. This is the first time I've ever heard this twist on the story. Gives you something to think about.....

Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband's employer's home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house.

The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband's employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.

As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment.

Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts. Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny.

He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value. A smile crept across the man's face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see.. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this? 'Look at it,' he said. 'Read what it says.' She read the words ' United States of America ..' 'No, not that; read further.'

'One cent?'

'No, keep reading..'

'In God we Trust?'


'And... ?'

He explained, 'And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him. Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as my response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God's way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!'

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, 'In God We Trust,' and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message.

It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And, God is patient.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Adventure defined

An adventure is misery and discomfort, relived in the safety of reminiscence."
– Marco Polo

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Birds are awesome

I liked to take my Scouts to the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area each winter to go eagle spotting. I think we went at the wrong time each year, because we never really saw the large numbers of bald eagles that are said to winter on the Great Salt Lake, though that could have been the fog. FBWMA is a freshwater reclamation area, and the eagles love the (nasty) carp that infest the water. I decided to try my luck again this past weekend, Scouts or no Scouts, and got almost entirely skunked as far as eagle are concerned. There were only a handful, and none let me get within a quarter mile before taking flight. After the last one left, it was time to call it a day. And while driving back up the road I spotted a lone, large bird in one of the few trees in the area, so I pulled over to see if I could squeeze off a few shots. With my camera, silly. It turned out to be a red-tail hawk, and he gave me my best photo op of the day.

Do you think birds know how amazingly cool they are, 
or do they just take it for granted?

Red Tail Hawk at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, UT
Here are a couple of shots of eagles 
from another excursion a couple of years ago:
Juvenile eagle fly-by
Looking for carp

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Owl Post: Reaching Beyond Your Goals

We walked together towards an ultimate challenge. A rock climbing wall 44 feet tall. I saw it looming ahead, slowly realizing what we would be asked to do next. I was not particularly concerned, because I knew I would be able to take on my normal stance: cheerleader, encourager, both feet firmly on the ground supporter of whomever would take the roll of victorious climber.

Feeling triumphant, I donned the rock climbing gear. Yes, I have on my cheerleading garb, I thought to myself. It dawned on me: we were all expected to at least attempt to climb the wall. I set my sights on the first platform, about 15 feet high. Surely that would show my willingness to participate in the group event. It only required I venture marginally outside my vision of my own abilities.

Rarely are people who are seeking significant life change challenged by setting their goals too low. In fact, the contrary to this is normally the case. Right?

Think for a moment, though, if this is actually the truth. Do you set your sights upon that which you are capable to achieve? OR do you instead settle for that which you have been lead to believe you are capable to achieve?

I had eyeballed the wall beforehand, to see which route to take up the wall. I noticed during my first trip it was really not that hard at first. My larger concern was my friend who was upon the wall above me, who had stopped and was wanting to come down. As is also a usual role for me, I made the decision to come off the wall, so my friend could easily and swiftly get down.

The person "on my belay" (a rock climber's constant support and safety system) said to me, "You do not even want to know how close you were to getting to your next hold." At that point, I really did not want to hear. I did know I wanted another chance to fulfill my goal of arriving at the first platform. None of my peers had reached it yet.

For my second climb, I simply started up the wall. One hold before the next simply and easily. There was no one immediately above me nor below me. Before I knew it, I reached my goal. I looked up, towards the top. In a split second, I made the decision. I was going up.

The decision, while simple, was actually monumental. I am not a particularly athletic person. Remember, I am great at being supportive of the people achieving amazing physical feats, not being an active participant. I stood there, held on to the wall and said a silent prayer before stepping off the platform to the next few holds.

Not looking down, I called out for verbal cues. I made some fancy moves with my feet. I reached the second platform. I cried, prayed and sang in my head as I thought, "Just get to the next platform. Just the next one." I looked up, and asked my helpers below for advice and encouragement.

As I climbed higher, I became critically aware that I was not alone in any of the climb. I had my partner who was "on my belay". As I would reach up with my hands and lift my leg to the next hold, he would tighten the cord, literally lifting along with me. I also had the power of prayer, time to pause, and moments of quiet singing as I got to each platform. I also had the leverage of my own fierce determination. I had a lifetime of believing I was not physical that I was battling to overcome. I had many hours of negative self talk telling me, "I can't do X, I can't do Y, I can't do Z because I am 1, or 2, or 3."

The wall had become symbolic of all I had wanted to do, yet believed I could not do because of my own self imposed limitations. In that quick decision on the first platform I decided I was no longer being a participant in my own destructive beliefs. I was going to become completely, fully an expression of my destiny.

After being the first of only two from my group who reached the zenith, I was literally giddy with the feeling of accomplishment. The man on the belay said, "What are you going to do next?" My response? "ANYTHING!"

The wall taught me many things. First, I sometimes aim too low because of false beliefs I have continued to perpetuate in my life. Second, I have an amazing support system in place if I am willing to share my control with them just as when the belay assisted me in each of the higher holds. Third, remembering to pause, pray, and express powerful emotions at each platform filled me with the necessary strength to continue the climb. Without each of those components, I would not have made it. In day to day living, doing each of these activities is crucial to living a full, complete, destiny filled life. Finally, in each decision I make, I am either saying YES or NO to possibilities. In saying NO, I am saying NO to unbelievable growth. In saying YES, I can fully embrace that I can do "ANYTHING!"

And if I had "fallen off" the wall? I would have been safe and protected. I would have tried again. YOU can do anything. Live Passionately, Today!

-Julie Jordan Scott

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Owl Post: Something to Think About

For those who have served on jury... this one is something to think about... Just when you think you have heard everything!!

Do you like to read a good murder mystery? Not even Law and Order would attempt to capture this mess. This is an unbelievable twist of fate!!

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science, (AAFS) President Dr. Don Harper Mills astounded his audience with the legal complications of a bizarre death.

Here is the story:

On March 23, 1994 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. Mr. Opus had jumped from the top of a 10-story building intending to commit suicide.

He left a note to the effect indicating his despondency. As he fell past the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window, which killed him instantly.

Neither the shooter nor the deceased was aware that a safety net had been installed just below the eighth floor level to protect some building workers and that Ronald Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned.

The room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast emanated, was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing vigorously and he was threatening her with a shotgun! The man was so upset that when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife and the pellets went through the window, striking Mr. Opus.

When one intends to kill subject 'A' but kills subject 'B' in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject 'B.' When confronted with the murder charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant, and both said that they thought the shotgun was not loaded..

The old man said it was a long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her. Therefore, the killing of Mr. Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, assuming the gun had been accidentally loaded.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun about 6 weeks prior to the fatal accident.

It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother.

Since the loader of the gun was aware of this, he was guilty of the murder even though he didn't actually pull the trigger.

The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus. Now for the exquisite twist... Further investigation revealed that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's murder.

This led him to jump off the 10 story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window.

The son, Ronald Opus, had actually murdered himself. So the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide. A true story from Associated Press (Actually, it's not. It has received the treatment).

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, January 10, 2014

See America from here

Just for fun, here's a link to National Park web cams across the country.

Here's the live video feed at Old Faithful; check the Yellowstone web site for eruption prediction times.

Old Faithful, ©2012 Eric Larson

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Teen Brain

You may find this helpful in understanding those who suffer from Teenage Brain Syndrome (and/or testosterone poisoning).

Prepared. | For Life.™

Owl Post: The Bagpiper

Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life.

As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn't stop for directions.

I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late.

I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before for this homeless man.

And as I played Amazing Grace, the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.

As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, "I never seen nothing like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."

Apparently I'm still's a guy thing.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Life's funny

"Life may be a tragedy, but funny things still happen on the way to the mausoleum."

- James Christensen


"Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it."

Image courtesy of Liz Noffsinger,

- Theodore Roosevelt, 1903, on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, before it was protected

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Owl Post: The Power of a Hug

Amazing Story of a Mother. -  A mom’s love is great.
When Carolyn Isbister put her 20oz baby on her chest for a cuddle, she thought that it would be the only chance she would ever have to hold her. Doctors had told the parents that baby Rachel only had only minutes to live because her heart was beating once every ten seconds and she was not breathing.

Isbister remembers:

I didn’t want her to die being cold. So I lifted her out of her blanket an put her against my skin to warm her up. Her feet were so cold. It was the only cuddle I was going to have with her, so I wanted to remember the moment: Then something remarkable happened. The warmth of her mother’s skin kick started Rachael’s heart into beating properly, which allowed her to take little breaths of her own.

We couldn’t believe it- and neither could the doctors. She let out a tiny cry.The doctors came in and said there was still no hope – but I wasn’t letting go of her we had her blessed by the hospital chaplain, and waited for her to slip away. But she still hung on. And then amazingly the pin color began to return to her cheeks. She literally was turning from gray to pink before our eyes, and she began to warm up too.

The sad part is that when the baby was born, doctors took one look at her and said 'no'. They didn’t even try to help her with her breathing as they said it would just prolong her dying. Everyone just gave up on her, her mom remembered.

At 24 weeks a womb infection had led to her premature labor and birth and Isbister (who also has two children Samuel, 1, and Kirsten, 8) said, “We were terrified we were going to lose her. I had suffered three miscarriages before, so we didn’t think there was much hope.” When Rachael was born she was grey and lifeless.

Ian Laing, a consultant neonatologist at the hospital, said: “All the signs were that the little one was not going to make it and we took the decision to let mm have a cuddle as it was all we could do. Two hours later the wee thing was crying. This is indeed a miracle baby and I have seen nothing like it in my 27 years of practice. I have not the slightest doubt that mother’s love saved her daughter.”

Rachael was moved onto a ventilator where she continued to make steady progress and was tube and syringe fed her mother’s pumped breast milk.

Isbister said, “The doctors said that she had proved she was fighter and that she now deserved some intensive care as there was some hope. She had done it all on her own – without any medical intervention or drugs. She had clung on to life-and it was all because of that cuddle. It had warmed up her body and regulated her heart and breathing enough for her to start fighting.

At 5 weeks she was taken off the ventilator and began breastfeeding on her own. At four months Rachel went home with her parents, weighing 8lbs- the same as any other healthy newborn. Because Rachel had suffered from a lack of oxygen doctors said there was a high risk of damage to her brain. But a scan showed no evidence of any problems and today Rachel is on par with her peers.

Rachel’s mom tells us, “She is doing so well. When we brought her home, the doctors told us that she was a remarkable little girl. And most of all, she just loves her cuddles. She will sleep four hours, just curled into my chest. it was that first cuddle which saved her life- and I’m just so glad I trusted my instinct and picked her up when I did. Otherwise she wouldn’t be here today.”

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