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The Roots of Meaningful Relationships

March 30th, 2010 No comments

The Roots of Meaningful Relationships

Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell

The weather began to change, and a man felt inclined to plant something outside in the cold earth. After a hard winter of dark skies and icy storms, the prospect of digging in the ground warmed his heart. So he did some homework, researched the best tree for his chosen spot, and went to see an expert.

The master gardener had this counsel: “Don’t plant a hundred-dollar tree in a ten-dollar hole! The roots of the tree,” he explained, “must have room to expand and to absorb the nutrients from the soil. Also, the tree must be planted deep enough so that the roots can move into the soil and give the plant stability. If it’s planted right, you can expect it will grow into a beautiful tree and last a long time.”1

Good advice—not just for planting trees but also for building relationships. Both trees and relationships grow best in an environment that has been carefully prepared and is constantly nurtured. Occasionally a seed may fall on uncultivated soil and spring up as a sapling, but such trees rarely last long enough to bear fruit. Likewise, lasting relationships don’t just happen. They must be fostered by love and attention, cultivated by care and concern, and fed by kindness and generosity. It doesn’t happen in one day of intensive attention; it happens over time, in countless small moments, as gradually as a tree grows.

Meaningful relationships are worth more than hundred-dollar trees, and they deserve all the time, effort, and energy they need to become strong and beautiful. Then, once the roots are well established, such relationships can continue to grow—even under difficult circumstances. Trust and understanding will nurture the relationship, and eventually, the flowers of love will blossom and bear sweet fruit.

1. See Carlos E. Asay, Family Pecan Trees: Planting a Legacy of Faith at Home (1992), 228.

Program #4199

Musical Selections:
1. Glory to God on High
2. Zadok the Priest
3. He Leadeth Me; O Blessed Thought! (Organ solo)
4. Peace Like a River
5. Spoken Word
6. Somewhere, from West Side Story
8. Redeemer of Israel

Give to Live

March 23rd, 2010 No comments

Give To Live

Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell

Every Tuesday for months, writer Mitch Albom met with his old professor Morrie Schwartz to talk about life. Morrie was dying, but he taught his former student profound lessons in living. Considering his physical condition, Morrie could have easily accepted pity, but he didn’t. “Why would I ever take like that?” he said. “Taking only makes me feel like I’m dying. Giving makes me feel like I’m living.”¹

It may sound ironic, but it’s true. The people who seem to get the most out of life are those who aren’t focused on getting it all. They give, and they find that giving sweetens and enriches their lives.

Indeed, we live by giving. We each have something to give. And it doesn’t have to be something grand; it just needs to come from the heart. It may be our time, our interest or concern, or resources, our skills, or our talents. It could be the willingness to listen, the patience to truly understand, the selflessness to think of others before ourselves. A smile and a sincere word of praise may be worth more than gold to one who is discouraged. An extended hand of friendship and an offer to help may be just what’s needed to get someone through the day. Unlike the material gifts that wear down and run out, these more precious gifts are inexhaustible. In fact, the miracle is that the more we give such gifts, the more we have to give.

Think of those you know who freely give. Their generosity sometimes makes them busy, and yet they always seem to have time for you. They’re interested in you. They make efforts to lift your spirits and encourage you, even when they’re carrying burdens that may be heavier than your own. They generously share their wisdom, experience, and life lessons. Because they are willing to give, they live. And in a sense, they and their gifts will live forever.

1. In Joseph M. Dougherty, “Feel most alive by giving, author Albom says at WSU,” Deseret Morning News, Mar. 29, 2007, B5.

Program #4200

Musical Selection:
1. Laudate nomen
2. Tis Winter Now
3. A Song of Praise
4. Spitfire Prelude (organ solo)
5. Spoken Word
6. Have I Done Any Good?
7. Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?
8. From All that Dwell Below the Skies

Talents to Share

March 16th, 2010 No comments

Talents to Share

February 28, 2010, Broadcast #4198

We all have special aptitudes, skills, or gifts. Some people can sing or play an instrument; some are athletic; others can write or draw. Some are especially friendly; some are good listeners; others can solve problems. Whatever our gifts may be, they are best expressed when we use them to help other people.
A Chinese folktale, “Ma Liang and His Magic Brush,” tells of a poor orphan boy who had a gift for drawing. He had no paintbrush or even paper, so he used broken twigs to draw in wet sand or pieces of charcoal to draw on smooth stones. The more he drew, the more lifelike his sketches became. He longed for a paintbrush but barely earned enough money to survive. One night while Ma Liang slept, an apparition rose from the ocean and gave him a magic paintbrush. The spirit warned the boy: “If used to help others, it will bring joy and prosperity. If used unwisely, it will bring disaster.” Ma Liang soon learned the truth of those words. Whatever he painted with his new brush literally came to life. As long as he painted to help others or to fill a need, the brush blessed his life. But when others tried to take it from him or make him use it for selfish purposes, he met with disaster.1
Like Ma Liang, when we use our gifts for the benefit of others, we find joy and fulfillment in them. Recently, a widower decided that rather than staying home and feeling lonely, he would visit a retirement center and share his talent for singing. His performance touched those who listened. Some wiped tears from the corners of their eyes. No one wanted to leave when he finished. Something special took place that night because he was willing to share.

We can all share something, so don’t hide your gifts. No matter your circumstances, use your skills and talents to bless other people. You’ll find that doing so not only multiplies your ability to give but also deepens your joy in giving.

1 See Yin-lien C. Chin, Yetta S. Center, and Mildred Ross, eds., Traditional Chinese Folktales (1996), 143 -53.
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Riders on the Earth Together

March 9th, 2010 No comments

Riders on the Earth Together

January 15, 2010, Broadcast #4192

The turbulent year of 1968 ended on an inspiring note with the spectacular space flight of Apollo 8. It was the first manned mission to orbit the moon, and as the astronauts looked out of their vessel into space, they suddenly caught sight of the earth rising over the moon’s horizon, “a blue and white orb sparkling in the blackness of space, in contrast to the dead lunar surface in the foreground.” People at home saw our amazing planet in television images and photographs and marveled at what they saw. The poet Archibald MacLeish was so moved that he wrote in the New York Times, “To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold-brothers who know now they are truly brothers.”
We don’t need to see our spinning planet from afar to remember that we all share this earth as our home. Yes, we live in different communities in different climates; we cherish different cultures and beliefs; we have different expectations. But we are each part of the great human family, and like any family, we’re happiest when we live by certain universal principles–when equality and fairness govern our actions, when charity and compassion motivate our efforts, when goodwill and generosity guide our attitudes. A little more of each of these virtues can make a world of difference.

This truth is expressed simply but beautifully in a lyrical paraphrase of John Donne’s memorable meditation:

No man is an island;
No man stands alone.
Each man’s joy is joy to me;
We need one another,
So I will defend
Each man as my brother,
Each man as my friend.

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The Untold Olympic Stories

March 2nd, 2010 No comments

The Untold Olympic Stories

February 21, 2010, Broadcast #4197

From perfect 10s and world records to stunning athletic accomplishments and heartbreaking defeats, we marvel at the drama of the Olympic games. Something stirs in our souls as we witness the pageantry, the inspiring sportsmanship, and the extraordinary achievements on a world stage.
But it may be that the greatest story of the Olympics is the story that’s never fully told or appreciated. Behind every athlete is a saga of endless hours of dedicated effort, of perseverance in the face of setbacks and disappointments, of hope of victory that motivates each athlete to keep going, keep striving, keep trying despite the odds. For every round of applause, there are countless hours of quiet toil; for every ovation, there are untold days of devoted practice; for every moment of coaching, there are continual months, even years, of solitary, lonely work.

Such stories are not unique to Olympic athletes. Indeed, one powerful message of the Olympics is that excellence is all around us. Most of it is never acknowledged with gold medals and elaborate ceremonies–in fact, it may never be acknowledged at all. But the truth is that countless ordinary people everywhere deserve the gold of praise and thanks for living quiet lives of decency and honor and goodness.

They may not compete on the world’s stage, but they bless their loved ones and families; they may not perform in front of millions, but they reach out to help and improve the life of someone in need; they may not grab headlines, but they make meaningful contributions in their communities and nations. Long after the Olympic torch is dimmed, these stories of dedicated work, sacrifice, and excellence can be as inspiring as the feats that thrill us during the Olympics.

The Right Moment is Now

February 2nd, 2010 No comments

“The Right Moment Is Now”

January 31, 2010, Broadcast #4194
When acclaimed American artist John Singer Sargent was commissioned to paint the official portrait of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States, he spent several days at the White House, hoping to catch the president in just the right setting. One morning as Roosevelt came down the staircase, Sargent approached and asked when the president might be available to pose for the portrait.
“Now,” replied Roosevelt, a man whose life was made up of acting “now.”1

The story of this painting holds a great lesson for all of us. Do we take advantage of each moment; do we seize the opportunities that life offers us? Or does our masterpiece get postponed because our doubts, weaknesses, or circumstances cause us to hesitate? As President Roosevelt said in his characteristically direct way, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”1 Too many great works and good deeds are held hostage while we wait for the right moment. For some things, perhaps for most things, the right moment is now.

Roosevelt has such vision, reflected in his well-known words from 1899: “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”3

1  See David McCullough, Brave Companions: Portraits in History (1992), ix.
2  In James Charlton, ed, The Military Quotation Book (2002), 108.
3  In Justin Kaplan, ed., Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 17th ed. (2002), 614-15

Time Is Short

January 26th, 2010 No comments

Time is Short

January 24, 2010, Broadcast #4193

Sooner or later, most of us begin to realize that time is short and so we better enjoy life a little more and spend time where it really counts. How often have we heard ambitious, hard-working people say, as they look back on their lives, that if they could do it all over again, they would have spent more time with family, more time building people and relationships, more time relishing the sweet joys that each day offers?

David L. Weatherford’s poem “Slow Dance” reminds us to slow down a bit and savor life’s simple moments.

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
Or listened to rain slapping the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
Or gazed at the sun fading into the night?
You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
Time is short, the music won’t last.
Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask “How are you?” do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
With the next hundred chores running through your head?
You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
Time is short, the music won’t last.
Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
And in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
‘Cause you never had time to call and say hi?
You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
Time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It’s like an unopened gift thrown away.
Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,
Hear the music before your song is over.

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The Thinking Man

January 12th, 2010 No comments

The Thinking Man

January 10, 2010, Broadcast #4191

There is an old West African tale about a man who, more than anything else, wanted to be rich. He devoted his every thought to that endeavor and became quite successful in his quest to amass a great fortune. Nevertheless, his success came with a heavy price, for when at last he had reached his goal, he discovered that he was utterly alone. His wife and children had left him. The only friends he had were those who kept a greedy eye on his fortune. This terrible realization weighed so heavily upon him that he could not think of anything else.
To this day throughout this region of Africa, vendors in the marketplace sell wooden statues that represent the rich man who lost so much. In Ghana they call him the “Thinking Man,” because for the remainder of his days all he did was contemplate the riches he had lost as a result of his greed.

Every culture throughout the world has its own, similar stories that caution against the pursuit of wealth at the expense of honor, family, and integrity. Certainly, money is not evil by itself–if used wisely, it can relieve distress, provide hope, bring healing, and offer opportunity and growth. But when we begin to love money so much that the pursuit of it becomes the chief measure of our life, we lose something more precious than anything money can buy.

When we are tempted to get caught up in the search for worldly wealth at the expense of those things of lasting importance, perhaps it would be wise to remember the story of the Thinking Man and consider that sometimes the pursuit of more can actually lead to less.

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Keep Both Feet In Today

January 4th, 2010 No comments

Keep Both Feet in Today

January 2, 2010, Broadcast #4190

It has been wisely noted that having one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow is a rather unstable position. The best way to face the future, it seems, is to keep both feet in today.

We can’t spend too much time looking back, because too much still lies ahead. And we can’t live only in the future, or we’ll miss out on today’s happiness. We need to live fully in the present and savor every moment, knowing that in the coming years we’ll be longing for the days we have right now. Indeed, the “good ole days” are not in the past; they are right now.

Our ancestors each had their hard days and heartache, we have ours, and our descendants will all have theirs. The process of life is to go forward in the present, with the past behind us and the future ahead of us.

“We do not know when we will be required to leave this mortal existence,” said Thomas S. Monson. “And so [we] ask, ‘What are we doing with today?’ . . . Have we been guilty of declaring, ‘I’ve been thinking about making some course corrections in my life. I plan to take the first step–tomorrow’? With such thinking, tomorrow is forever. Such tomorrows rarely come unless we do something about them today.”

With that in mind, now might be a good time to reevaluate our goals and aspirations, rethink our direction and purpose in life, and refocus our efforts and energy on worthwhile endeavors. The present becomes the past in a moment, so before it does, make the most of it. The future, which is really just the unfolding present, is bright for those who take the time, as the proverb counsels, to “ponder the path of [your] feet.”

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