A Ragamuffin’s Regretful ‘If Only”s


‘Woulda’…’coulda’ …’shoulda’ … Life’s ‘if only’s that can block out the bright sunshine with dark stratocumulus clouds of regret. Intriguing that “if” resides smack dab in the middle of LIFE.

Regret is “If Only’s” synonym. The dictionary defines regret as, “To feel sorry, disappointed, distressed, or remorseful about. To remember with a feeling of loss or sorrow; mourn.

Ever been there? . . . total bummer! . . . not where any of us wants to spend a lot of time. The good news . . . we don’t have to!

All regrets are all past tense. They may be useful to learn from, but not to focus and dwell on. One thing I’ve learned in struggling with regrets over the past eight decades is . . .

Regrets are a place of reference, not a place of residence

Without fail, choosing to focus on my blessings always scatters regret’s ‘if only’ ominous clouds, and life’s sunshine soon comes back out to bask in.

Sure wish I’d learned this a long time ago. My German grandmother was spot on whenever she observed me about to hatch yet another regret (regretfully a frequent occurrence 😊), and would sternly, but lovingly reprimand . . . “Freddy, you’re too soon old and too late smart!” . . . I’m still working on the latter 😊

In her book The Top Five Regrets of The Dying palliative nurse Bonnie Ware poignantly lists the five most common regrets of ole duffers (some actually older than me😊) facing the imminent reality we all like to bury in the background, but will ultimately unearth and come face-to-face with one day . . . I’m actually gonna’ die!!!

Here’s the five terminal regrets Bonnie discovered folks at eternity’s threshold wrestle with:

  • I Wish I’d Lived a Life True to Myself, Not the Life Others Expected of Me
  • I Wish I Hadn’t Worked so Hard
  • I Wish I’d Had the Courage to Express My Feelings
  • I Wish I Had Stayed in Touch With My Friends
  • I Wish I Had Allowed Myself to Be Happier

In this New Year may we all turn these wishes into actions while we’re still blessed with the time to do so.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it .”

Psalm 118:24

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to come!

The Gift of Others


Christmas blessings from our home to yours. In whatever circumstances and wherever this may reach you, may it find you and yours resting assured in knowing His Best is Yet to Come!

This momentary adventure called Life is more often experienced in its valleys than on the mountaintops. Suffice it to say my 2022’s sojourn was one mingled with both the depths of failure and the heights of victory. The former of was regretfully of my own doings, the latter was gratefully attributable to:

  • God’s unmerited mercy, grace, and forgiveness
  • Others unmerited acceptance, encouragement, and prayers

Bottom line, this Christmas season thankfully finds Ellen and I still here happily fogging a mirror together, albeit with perhaps a tad less vigor and a few more wrinkles than in days of yore😊

You are one of the many special individuals who astonishingly follow my blog 😊. . . special not because you follow my blog for sure 😊, but special because one or more of your blog posts and/or comments have encouraged and blessed me, and made a difference. Thank you!

A retired pastor friend in Alaska recently sparked a thought of a way this Christmas to reciprocate the Gift of Others you, and countless others, have so graciously blessed me with throughout life. He suggested, “Ask them if there’s something on their heart you can pray for them about.”

Not just another quick, shallow, from the lips “I’ll pray for you” prayer, but a thoughtful, deep prayer from the heart to the One whose heart hears and answers each and every prayer in His time and way, both in Life’s valleys and on its mountaintops.

One of the glorious luxuries of retirement is time, and I’m blessed to be able luxuriate in it. So, if there’s something on your heart you feel you can trust me to pray for from my heart, in absolute total Thee – Me – He confidentiality, I’d be privileged and blessed to do so.

I’m forever grateful for the crucial piece you represent in my Life’s bewildering mosaic God chose to place there . . . it fits! Thank you for making a difference.

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Merry Christmas!!!

Fred, Ellen and Bullwinkle

Life’s Flight


Wan-a-be Pilot
Denali

Flying has always fascinated me. As a child (some claim I still am 😊), the adventures of Sky King, a WWII aviator turned Arizona rancher, kept me glued to our family’s state-of-the-art, oval, 13” black and white TV.

My time in the USMC as an aircraft electrician heightened my flying passion, and early in my teaching career I began taking flying lessons to become a pilot. Eddie, a young, nerves-of-steel flight instructor became my newly revived, in-the-flesh, Sky King. I’ll never forget his calming words of reassurance after my initial, erratic, 3-bounce landing,

Every landing is a controlled crash. Let’s go around and try that again Fred.”

One blue-bird day, anxiously waiting for my pre-solo flight lesson with Eddie, his dad and flight training school owner approached me with tears in his eyes,

You need to go home Fred.”

On a helicopter training flight with a major network journalist the tail rotor malfunctioned. Eddie and his student tragically perished.

Returning home, I shared the sad news with my wife. Her prudent words sealed my pilot aspirations,

Fred, we have four young children. No more flight training.”

Other than another ‘Eddie’ flying me to my favorite mountain’s base camp (pics) a few years ago, my only solo flight has been a sky dive . . . personally exhilarating, but not exactly inspirational to others.

David Gibbs is a lawyer, founder and president of the Christian Law Association, and a pastor. This 8 minute You Tube video is to his truly inspirational, white-knuckle, Alaskan life ‘flight story’. May it inspire you as it has me to always listen to the Voice of your Flight Instructor on your ‘flight’ through life.

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Creation’s Whispers


Of all the places I’ve been blessed to meander throughout this untamed, rugged, awesome Last Frontier corner of creation, Hatcher Pass remains among my most special.

You can’t see the forest for the trees.” . . . in today’s chaotic word, life’s ‘forest’ beauty is woefully shrouded by it’s tumultuous ‘trees’ of power, greed, bigotry, hatred, and lust.

Paradoxically, whenever my wanders find me above treeline, the calamity of life’s forests below fade, and I catch a glimpse of heaven’s serenity that awaits. Gratefully gazing in mystical wonder, such were where my thoughts drifted yesterday.

As high clouds accentuated the silence of creation’s calming whispers, here’s the ethereal Hatcher Pass scene I wish your eyes could have beheld it with me.

I M Blessed . . . May U B 2!

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours.

1 Chronicles 29:11

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Hatcher Pass, Alaska

Beginning and Endings


Each fall I’ve been privileged to witness one of nature’s incredible wonders . . . anadromous sockeye salmon (reds) returning to relinquish their own life to create new life.

After spending 1-2 years in their freshwater birthplace, they journey to the frigid waters of the Bering Sea. It’s believed they navigate by magnetic cues, position of the sun, and day length at while at sea, before returning 2-3 years later to their exact birthplace by imprinting on the unique chemical signatures of the waters . . . creation’s original GPS!

Dodging sea lions, seals, sharks, lampreys at sea, they must contend with bears, eagles and man upon their return. It’s estimated that of the 2,000 to 5,000  each female sockeye lays, only 1 in a thousand survive . .  a statistic I briefly ponder each time I catch one . . . but it quickly passes . . . they taste so good! 😊

Sockeye’s prized, savory red fillets are attributable to the high cartenoid pigment of their rich marine diet. By the time they spawn their flesh has turned a tasteless white as the cartenoids are transferred to their skin and eggs upon reaching their spawning grounds.

Watching sockeye salmon complete their aquatic life cycle allegorically always reminds of my own terrestrial life journey . . . each a beginning-to-end journey of survival wrought with trials and transitions.

Like the sockeye my skin has often turned red in embarrassment, and has lost its once youthful glow. Unlike the sockeye, many of my trials have often been self-imposed.

Standing stream-side I’m forever grateful knowing I’m still ’swimming’. Somehow, having navigated through my own and sin’s ‘predators’ for 8 decades . . . I’m 1 in a 1,000 . . . but not by my own making. It’s by God’s unfathomably amazing love, mercy and grace alone that I’m still headed ‘upstream.’

Like the sockeye, my life’s journey will someday end . . . but not in a stream-bed. My end will be the beginning of an eternity above with the One whose sacrificial death defeated mine, and all who have accepted Him as Savior . . . hope we share it together.

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Returning Home

Creating New Life
Journey’s End

Fun Is Ageless


To enjoy life to the fullest you ‘moose’ have fun. A couple of old duffers did just that at the 2022 Alaska State Fair in Palmer, Alaska.

9 or 90, goofing around is healthy . . . don’t forget to take your medicine 😊

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dies up the bones.”

Proverbs 17:22

Contemplating Life


This Great Smoky Mountains ephemeral, after-the-storm panorama marked the close of another day. The scene evoked a juxtaposed, sobering/joyful contemplation of life’s unknown brevity, and breathtaking beauty. As dusk fell, the confident wisdom of a beloved preacher comforted my thoughts:

What is your life? You are but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

James 4:14

This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24

I’ve read the last chapter of Revelation, and we win .”

Billy Graham

Keep Looking Up . . . His Best is Yet to Come!

Three Final Choices


Hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains I wandered upon an old cemetery. Treading in a hush of reverent silence, I carefully meandered among the grave-sites reading tombstone inscriptions. Three thoughts surfaced . . . no pun intended 😊

Old Elkmont Cemetery
  1. The uncertainty and brevity of life – several tombstones marked the graves of infants, who left and returned to Heaven the same day.
Infant Tombstone

2. ‘Have and Have Not’ disparities remain until death – among those tombstones artfully engraved with poignant parting thoughts were those marked with simple, anonymous stones.

Tombstones

3. After eight decades, I’m forever grateful to still be able to fog a mirror – odds on, I’ll be taking up residence with this quiet congregation sooner than most still above ground.

The World Economic Forum reports the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest in society has grown during the pandemic and continues to widen.

  1. For 99% of the global population, incomes have fallen and over 160 million more people have been forced into poverty.
  2. This inequality is contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people a day. Every four seconds one of the inhabitants we share this planet with perishes through hunger, lack of potable water, lack of access to life-saving healthcare, and other basic life needs. 
  3. Since 1995, the top 1% have captured nearly 20 times more of global wealth than the bottom 50 % of humanity.

Few reside in the rare stratosphere of the 1% . . . if you do, please call me . . . Collect! 😊. However, few of us can recall the last time we were truly hungry; parched for a sip of clean water; without access to health care; homeless without shelter, etc., etc., etc. Bottom line . . . as Americans we are richly and undeservedly blessed!

Someday this world’s playing field will be leveled, no more disparities, and we will all face the final quintessential disparity . . . Heaven or Hell. Our Creator has graciously narrowed Eternity’s destiny to 1 of 3 final choices each of us must make, no abstentions allowed:

  1. Accept
  2. Reject
  3. Ignore

Jesus

Salvation is found in no one else. for there is no other name under Heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”. –  Acts 4:12

My prayer remains we’ll share Heaven together with Him.

Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Midnight Sun


The Land of the Midnight Sun is rapidly entering its Midnight Moon season, as seen in this 4 PM/4-degree wilderness wander picture.


Watching the sun begin to silently slip below the distant Chugach Range conjured a somewhat ambivalent thought of peaceful melancholy . . . this scene is somewhat analogous to my life . . . my Midnight Sun season is slowly slipping below life’s horizon, yielding to the Midnight Moon.  But there’s only peace . . . no remorse . . . as I stand alone in the frozen silence.


Life’s joys have been my sunshine, and the dark clouds of failure have taught me the past is a place of reference to grow from, not a place of residence to live in. I’ve been undeservedly blessed beyond measure, and know a Sonrise awaits that will never set.

Fish Lake Sunset – Chickaloon, Alaska


Nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day”. – II Timothy 1:12


I M Blessed . . . May U B 2
 
Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Winter Wonderland Musings


Woke up this morning to discover snow-line has suddenly dropped 1,500 ft. below Chickaloon, AK, and the fluff continues to steadily fall . . . this will seriously alter my daily routine from hiking to shoveling 😊

The snow’s projected to end by nightfall, so . . . barring a cardiac event 😊 . . . it’ll probably be Sunday before I manage to clear the driveway down to the road, which has yet to be plowed . . . welcome to rural Last Frontier life . . . Love it!

While waiting to step outside and engage Mother Nature’s 13-degree Winter Wonderland with my shoveling skills, I identified with and added a tad to the post below a fellow ole duffer sent on his blog http://rays-daily.com/ . . . thanks Ray!

Reading these Tips for a Better Life triggered poignantWish I’d have realized these soonermemories, and thought some of y’all might enjoy perusing them. Like my Grammy used to scold me when I’d been caught doing something naughty yet again, “Freddy, you’re too soon old and too late smart!” . . . I shoulda’ listened sooner . . . do as I say, not as I’ve done 😊

Wherever this may find you in your ‘Wonderland’ today . . . whether the sun’s shining; snow’s falling; or a storm’s raging, enjoy its wonders . . . they are there if you but look and listen closely.

Tips for a Better Life – (it’s not too late)

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to. 😊

3. Buy a DVR and tape your late-night shows  and get more sleep .       

4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, ‘My purpose is to __________ today.’

5. Live with the 3 E’s – Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

6. Play more games and read more books than you did last year.

7. Make time to pray. It will provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.

8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 (not a lot of us still left 😊) and under the age of 6.

9. Dream more while you are awake.

10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.

11. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.

12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

13. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.

14. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed-out charge card.

17. Smile and laugh more. It will keep the energy vampires away.

18. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

20. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

21. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

22. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.

23. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: ‘In five years, will this matter?’

26. Forgive everyone for everything.

27. What other people think of you is none of your business.

28. God heals everything in His time which is always on time.

29. However good or bad a situation is it will change.

30. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will, stay in touch.

31. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

32. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

33. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

34. Do the right thing!

35. Call your family often (or email them to death!!!) Hey I’m thinking of ya! 😊

36. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________.

37. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

38. Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney World and you certainly don’t want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

39. The best is yet to come, so . . .

40. Keep Looking Up

I M Blessed . . . May U B 2

It’s Snowing!
Downy Woodpecker