Thursday, 17 February 2011

Golden Nuggets

By Randy McNeely

On Valentines Day this past Monday, my soon to be eight-year-old taught me a valuable lesson, though I didn't really realize it until this morning. You might say, I got the spiritual wind knocked t out of me, I've received a wake up call, I've, hopefully, "seen the light."

I had gone upstairs to shower and get ready for work after working out. When I came back downstairs and sat down at my table with my laptop, I found a little piece of paper on it. With the piece of paper was a little golden nugget (a rock painted gold). The note said, in child scrawl, "Happy Valentines Day, Dad."

My sweet daughter came running in right at that moment and said, "Did you get the note Dad?"

I smiled and replied, "Yes honey. Thank you very much."

"Do you like the Rock?"

Then I made my mistake. I said, "It's wonderful. Would you take it and keep it safe for me."

I can still hear her answer as if she were saying it right this moment. "That's okay Dad. I know you don't really want it."

"Oh, but I do want it. I'll keep it with me."

"Yeah, Okay."

Then she walked away.

As thick headed as I am, though it bothered me some at the time, I shook it off, stuck the rock in my sweats pocket and continued checking my email.

The real lesson came today. After getting dressed and coming downstairs to exercise, I slipped my hand in my sweats pocket. There was the rock. At the same time I glanced up and noticed the little box that my daughter keeps her collection of gold painted rocks in. I decided to just slip the rock in there. She would never notice. As I did so, I heard a voice in my mind say, "Keep it." I started to walk away and the voice spoke louder. "Keep it! Let it be a reminder to you of how precious your children are. Don't treat them or their gifts, given from the heart, lightly anymore."

In that instance I felt as I'd been punched. All the precious pictures, rocks, twigs, marbles that my children have given me, that I've taken for granted, seemed to parade before my eyes. I could see their angel smiles as they gave me the gifts. I can see the various locations where I set them, and forgot about them. I can hear myself saying, "Thanks, would you keep them safe for me?"

Then thoughts of all the hugs and kisses, the joyful greetings "Hi Dad!" Followed by thoughts of all things I've missed because I allowed my hobbies to take precedence over time with my children.

Needless to say, my heart has been pricked. I have a great desire to repent and do better. I'm going to keep that nugget. In fact I'm going to have it mounted with the words, "Never forget how precious your children are!"

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

New Opportunities

By Randy McNeely

New day's bring new opportunities. The are like the clean page of a journal or diary waiting for you to write on them. I'm grateful for that. Far to often I mess up one day, only to realize that a new day is coming and I can try again to do better and mess up less.

Writing is like that. We can start out with a less than masterful work. However, over time, we can rework and polish our creation as long as needed until we are satisfied with it.

The gospel is like that too. We make mistakes but because of the Savior, we can try try again. What a blessing to know that we are not stuck in one spot today because of a mistake we made yesterday.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Painting With Words

Have you ever thought about how much writing is like painting? Just as a good artist can paint a picture whose bright colors and scenery, or whose fine detail or majestic subject draws you to it, so a great writer can do the same with words.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. I love a story that takes me away to far off places, and brings those places alive in my mind. You know the kind. The minute you start reading, you are somewhere else--in a castle, on an airplane, in the mountains, in the jungle, in someone's head, in another galaxy--and you can see, in your mind's eye, through writer's wordsmith wizardry, the place described in vivid color or shades of gray or shadow.

I also love a story that gets my emotions going--that allows me to feel what the characters feel. As the good writing artist continues, describing situations, sharing character's feelings, building up suspense, you can feel what the character's feel--wet, sloppy, snow against your face; cold that chills you to the bone; fear of the unknown; steamy, hot jungle air; the smell of Indian spices--the list could go on forever.

Another aspect I love about truly artistic writing, and perhaps I should have placed this first, are great characters--believable characters, lovable characters, nasty villains I love to hate. I thrill when a writer helps me see a character, hear a character--know a character. I can hear that character's voice. I can understand what they are feeling, or at least be hooked enough to want to understand and learn more.

What I've described above is only a small part of what I believe makes a writer like a painter--a few of the many things I love. What do you like? In what ways is a writer like a painter to you? Let me know.