Tis’ the Set of the Sails

sailboat
One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Am I In the Middle of a Movie?

There is a little town east of the Destin area that we stayed at called Seaside. It seems like a movie set. Devoid of any garbage, it is a saccharin sweet version of many other seaside towns that you might find in Florida. As you walk around you see perfection, almost too much perfection. I didn’t see one person without perfectly coifed hair and brand name clothes. There weren’t even any ugly dogs.

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If you are familiar with the movie The Truman Show this town will seem familiar because it was filmed here. There are beautiful homes,

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and sand filled alleys with white picket fences and smiling faces with perfectly straight teeth,

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and the more I think about it it seemed too perfect. I thought it was really beautiful and amazing while I was there, but now it seems fake. I really felt like I was on a movie set.

seaside 4

Seaside is worth visiting if you are in the area, but don’t stay long because if you do you might never escape.

Mud Run in Niceville

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Yes, there really is a place called Niceville, Fl. It seems kind of arrogant and braggadocious to name your city Niceville but to each his own. I mean, would anyone name there town Meanville even if it was actually true? Just because you name your town Niceville doesn’t mean I am going to believe you.

We weren’t there long enough to determine if it really is as “nice” as the name suggests but we were there long enough for Reece and Marisa to do a mud run with our friend Jalayne.

The Mud Run Consisted of a lot of mud. Surprise, Surprise.

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There were also obstacle courses. If I had paid to do a mud run, only to find out there were obstacles, crawling, and various other things that involved neither running nor mud, I would have asked for my money back. Maybe that’s why Marisa didn’t invite me to do it.

mud run 1

Marisa, Reece, and Jalayne finished the run relatively unscathed. They weren’t as muddy as I thought they would be and we escaped Niceville without any major injuries. How Nice.

mud run 2

~Michael~

Career Day: Landscape Architect

We have had a lot of career day opportunities while we have been on our year long trip and while we were in Houston Reece had a good opportunity to see what a landscape architect does. He worked with him for 4 days and even though it was a lot of it was hard work, he really liked it, especially because of all of the money he earned. Marisa’s brother Cameron got a degree in landscape architecture and he owns the company Set Roots LLC in Houston.

This is what Cameron looks like when he is yelling at you for taking pictures when you are supposed to be working.

setroosts 4I did a little manual labor but  I also spent a lot of time “supervising.” Reece did a lot of manual labor and spent no time “supervising.” That’s him transporting wheelbarrows of dirt to the back yard.

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I was able to go spend a day with Cameron and see what he does. It was fun and satisfying to see how much the yards changed. Here are some of the before and afters on the project that we helped with.

My pictures don’t do the finished product justice but Set Roots LLC does a great job and we had a lot of fun hanging with Uncle Cameron.

~Michael~

 

 

 

Cottonwood Madonna

downtown tree

This is another article in a series of letters that I am writing to my children about some of the things I hope they can learn about life from my observations.

Dear Children,

This is a carving that we saw in old town Albuquerque. It is a carving of the Virgin Mary that was done in an old cottonwood tree and I haven’t been able to get the story that we were told about it out of my head. I haven’t been able to confirm it’s veracity online but I choose to tell it to you because of how it inspires me.

According to a tour guide, this carving and painting was done by a parishioner of the San Felipe church in 1970. He lovingly carved the virgin from the interior of a cottonwood that was behind the church. The story is that the parishioner died immediately after completing the painting. Since he had to reach inside the tree to paint, his hands were still blue when he died. The embalmer couldn’t get all of the paint off of his hands so he was buried with blue hands.

Originally the painting was hidden behind the church and few people saw it. Then the cottonwood tree blew over an the carving remained undamaged so they moved it to the front of the church so more people could see it.

This story touched me a lot. First, like the parishioner, how many times do people do things for others, or for our Heavenly Father, and it remains unseen. They continue on through life doing good deed after good deed and remain in anonymity much like this painting remained in anonymity behind the church. Then they pass on and meet their maker. I imagine that like the blue paint on the artists hands, God will be able to see what our hands have done. He will be able to see our hearts. He will see what we did to help others, and make the world a better place.

Like the paint on the artists hands, our good deeds and bad deeds leave a mark on us. We will take these marks with us. I believe that we can always repent and change our path for the better. We can erase the bad stains. However, I think of this artist and I know that he had no idea that he would be buried with blue hands that showed his devotion.He didn’t know that he would take the physical evidence of what he had done with him.

I hope that when I die, when I am gone, I return to Heavenly Father with blue paint on my hands. I hope that the last few things I did will show my devotion to him, to my family, and to making the world better. I am far from perfect and I make a lot of mistakes. I am constantly trying to overcome my weaknesses and sins, but I also always hope that my next decision will be a good one.

It is hard to do the right thing. It is hard to always follow our faith. I hope that this story can make it easier for you, like it has for me. I hope that when you have difficult decisions to make, or hard things to do, that you will remember this story and think to yourself, “if these are my last moments, will I return to my Heavenly Father with blue paint on my hands?”

Love,

Dad

Abundance From Gratitude

 

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle

Lunar Eclipse02

I think it is common for us as people to always want more. We seek abundance in our lives. We work hard so that we can have what we need, then what we want. For me in my life, it is easy to focus on what I want and what I don’t have. I find myself thinking that if I could just have a Tesla Model S, or a big screen TV that I wold be happy. There is a problem with devoting all of our energy to what we want and what we do not have. It creates a reality where we lack.

If all we see is what we don’t have we will never see what we do have. Our lives are full of abundance but we need to see that abundance. It has become true for me, that when I am able to focus on all I have ( I still am working on this), that my life becomes one of abundance and gratitude. I believe that as we focus on what we have, we receive more as well because we attract abundance instead of scarcity. Here are some methods that I have used to help me see the many blessings I am surrounded with.

Gratitude journal: Write in a journal on a consistent basis about what you are grateful for. The more consistently you write, the more you will see that you have been given. You will start to see the multitudes of abundance in your life and it will cause you to feel satisfied and surrounded by prosperity.

Prayer: Whether you believe in God, or just in a higher power, communicating your gratitude helps you notice what you have. A deep and personal relationship with your higher power will cause you to want to thank that power for all you have. You will not want to be repetitive and give thanks for the same things daily so you will notice new things to give thanks for.

Volunteer: Service allows us to help someone in a way that they can’t or are unable to help themselves. When we help an elderly neighbor with a project in the yard, it makes us cognizant of our health and gratitude follows. If we collect clothes for the needy we realize that we are blessed with what we have and see the abundance in our lives.

What are some of the things that you do to help you be more grateful? Share them in the comments below.

~Michael~

 

 

How to Stop Self-Sabotaging

Marisa and I just read the book “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks. It was a really good book that talks about how we self sabotage when we are starting to make progress towards whatever positive changes are happening in our lives. Watch Marisa’s Periscope for ideas on how to stop self sabotaging.