As I reflect on the title, I can hear Frank Sinatra singing “Ahh, the good life …” Someone offered the hypothesis that there are two ways to live life: Saying “I wish I had.” or “I’m glad I did.” The more I thought about it, these two statements sum up many of our reflections on the days, weeks, months and years we’ve left behind.
These alternatives are not the domain of the rich and famous. Nor are they the stuff of “bucket lists.” They apply to all of us as we reflect on how we’ve lived our lives. These comments come as we reflect on what we’ve done with what we had. I could go on and on about the life my parents made with very little in the way of resources. Yet I and my two siblings look back with fond memories; the things we love to talk about when we’re together.
What is important in life and what makes up the good life? My wife and I have invested our time and resources to create family memories; those things that no one can ever take away. The grandkids love to come to our house for “make your own pizza” night, or just to watch movies and have Mimi make popcorn and those awesome Oreo shakes. My son-in-law asked me to write a journal containing some of my thoughts. He told me the other day that he had read that journal (five years in the making) three times already.
Recently, eight of us were in the barn visiting, as some families do, and preparing for a graduation party for our grandson and eight of his fellow seniors, to be hosted in the barn. Yes, that’s right … nine graduation parties in one barn … over 200 people showed up. It was a great night and a wonderful memory for each of those seniors. We left our home and friends in Atlanta for Colorado so that we could spend time with our grandchildren (children too, but you know the truth of the matter). You’ve heard me talk about the Ponderosa but it was built to facilitate family memories. Without family, this place is just a lot of field grass and a couple of buildings. We don’t believe that he who dies with the most toys wins. While I’ll confess to another temptation recently, a motor home, we find ourselves repeatedly making non-toy decisions in favor of our values.
During the summers we host nearly 100 high schoolers, including four of our five grandchildren, who come to have a good time, yes, but also to sharpen their spiritual instincts and thought processes. Our daughter and son-in-law lead this Monday night gathering.
This week we hosted missionaries from France for four nights. Offering them a safe refuge from the pace of a hectic and very busy trip refreshed their souls. Some of our family were able to join and interact with these people who are doing God’s work in another part of the world. Talk about the opportunity to expand one’s vision for what is going on beyond our little community! Last night we celebrated the other son-in-law’s birthday here on the Ponderosa. We hosted 18 people for dinner that included our family and our son-in-law’s brother’s family that was traveling through town. Together we touched the lives of another family.
None of these activities cost a great deal of money. We would engage in these activities whether we were on the Ponderosa existed or not. We hosted major youth events in our much smaller home in Atlanta. The point is we are focused on getting good family time and investing in those things that build each other up.
If I die carrying the respect and love of my children and grandchildren because we cared for each other and shared our love by spending time with each other, I will have lived the good life. As we reflect on our lives, the consistent theme for us is “We’re glad we did.”
Think about something you’ve done recently that you’re glad you did. I mean really glad! Some things were fun, but some things lifted another’s spirits. Those are the things worth doing. Let’s think about how we can encourage each other on to love and good deeds. You’ll be glad you did!