Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Bittersweet Harvest - Sep 20, 2009

I got a part in the Savior of the World musical at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City! After not being called back to callbacks, the director called me Friday night and offered me an ensemble role. That means that I'll be part of the chorus – no speaking parts or solos. Very different from being in the spotlight in the Pirates of Penzance. But since the Lord told me to take any part (He specifically mentioned an ensemble role), I'm taking it. I don't know any details yet – our first practice is on Saturday in Bountiful. I still don't even know why the Lord wanted me to be in it in the first place. I guess we'll see.

This week I also took my first GMAT practice test. I need to take it so I can study Organizational Behavior (which is usually connected to business schools). I've read three different GMAT preparation books in the last few days; after reading them I wanted to see how well I would do on a practice test to isolate which areas to study. I got a 760 the first time, then I took it again two days later and got a 790. Both times I made a few stupid mistakes, which means that hopefully I can do as well or better on the real test day (October 2nd). I looked online and both of those are competitive scores at most schools. One admissions counselor online even suggested that it doesn't matter whether you get a perfect score – once you score that high, they stop caring. That's good news for me – it means that I'll put studying on the back burner and work on the next step – application essays and letters of reference. Then I realized what had just happened. Most people study for the GMAT for months and dream of getting a 760. I studied for a few days and feel ready. I am grateful that I take standardized tests so well.

I went out to our garden a few days ago and almost fell over in shock. The deer, which are the bane of our existence here in the mountains, had decided to do something a bit unusual. Instead of eating/trampling the tomato plants or chewing the mountain laurel down to nibs, they had decided to try eating pumpkin. Now, this needs a little bit of background. We planted pumpkins this year and by early August they were already huge – at least 40 lbs a piece. We've left them on the vines and a few of them are probably over 75 pounds. That's a massive pumpkin. Maybe even more. I'll have to get a scale tomorrow and weigh them. Either way, there was a massive hole in one of the largest pumpkins, complete with dozens of bite marks. A deer, or more than one, had eaten the pumpkin! For some reason, I didn't do anything about it. The next day, the hole had grown – the deer had eaten almost half of it! So I decided to take some action. I coated the pumpkin with the bite mark in cayenne pepper and sprinkled it on the rest of the pumpkins. The next morning the pumpkin with cayenne had only one more bite out of it... but almost every other pumpkin in the patch had been attacked! I then realized that nothing was going to keep our pumpkins safe from the deer, so I cut all the pumpkins off the vine and put them in the garage for storage. Looking back, I should have harvested the pumpkins the first time I saw evidence that the deer could break through and damage them.

From a gospel perspective, the pumpkins in my garden represent the talents, blessings, and abilities that we cultivate while we are in the world. We work to provide for our families, take classes to become better teachers, or sing so that we can improve our singing abilities. Sometimes we grow and flourish and see incredible results over time. But sometimes the environment in which we work may be hostile. It's much easier to just do nothing and hope that the deer (or any major negative influences) will go away, but it's not very likely. And, sometimes, even our best efforts in avoiding the deer don't seem to be effective. It's a painful fact that once an adversary has found a soft spot, whether on a pumpkin or anything else in our lives, he will always come back to it until he has broken through and achieved his goal.

I didn't want to harvest the pumpkins initially because I was afraid that they wouldn't grow anymore. It's a logical fear – when you cut the pumpkin off the vine, it stops growing. But I didn't realize that my inaction would lead to even more devastating results – losing two of the pumpkins entirely and marring the rest of them. In life, if we are slow to make changes in a toxic environment, it can have much worse results – affecting our spirits and the lives of those we love. My suggestion? Go through a spiritual detox. Identify the things in your life that interfere with your spiritual progression... and then change your environment. I know that the Lord is with us. He wants us to grow to our full potential – and, sometimes, that means changing who we are and moving forward in a new direction. Make the sacrifice to harvest the pumpkin a month early. It's worth it.

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