A Father’s Legacy

A Father's Legacy

As a little girl, my family would take annual vacations to Branson. We would go-kart, mini-golf, and go outlet shopping during the day and every evening we would go to a new show. Each show had their own unique draw, but there were a few overlapping themes you could always look forward to. There was always comedy and a lot of country music. There was a lot of sequins and cowboy boots.

But the thing I anticipated the most always occurred at the end of the show. My heart would start pounding because I knew it was coming. It happened every time and I had a love/hate relationship with it. Each show was closed with a combination of gospel music and a patriotic song, both of which I love.

The anticipation, however, was partly due to excitement because I loved it, but there was something else that made me anxious about what was going to happen. I knew that once the patriotic music started, my daddy was going to stand up and expect our entire family to stand up. This expectation was going to happen regardless if anyone else in the building decided to join us. Sometimes, we were joined in standing by everyone attending and other times our lone family stood proud while those around us set comfortably in their chairs.

My little girl mind would bounce between wonder and embarrassment. But, as I got older there was an understanding of the pride that was behind that small gesture. And, today, helped me understand that pride and actually be a part of it in a new way.

Today, my Godson Jacob graduated from Basic. I had been “prepared” by many as to what to expect, but the nothing could have prepared me for the emotion I felt in that moment. I sat in my chair fighting that lump in my throat. You know which lump I’m talking about. The one where once you give in to it, the floodgates of emotions rush through and come out in unattractive ways. But the pride was so strong in room as we watched the soldiers, the officers, and the families share in this moment.

It’s pride in the realization that these young men gave up every freedom for the past four months, in order that I could have a lifetime of freedom. It’s pride in watching as they went from young men to men that represented the army core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. They stood before us and promised to protect us and respect our freedoms.

I have a new understanding of why my dad had to stand up, because he had made the same promise years ago, along with several of his brothers, uncles, and cousins. The pride and love of country was still there.

While talking to Jacob yesterday, he talked about his own dad with such respect because now they had shared in this experience together. I think him knowing and understanding what his father had gone through deepened that respect.

And, it deepened my respect for my own father and the legacy of honor, courage, and integrity he demonstrated everyday.

Thank you to all who chose to serve! We can only partially know the sacrifices you made.

Each of us will…

Each of us will have challenges that appear as problems to be solved rather than as opportunities for us to evolve. All of our challenges are ultimately opportunities for us to reconnect ourselves with our mission here, and they come to us in different ways. What are your opportunities? – Debbie Ford

Underestimation!

This weekend was a lesson in never underestimating a person or an experience.  And, the greatest lesson is that I do it on a regular basis.  I see someone and have judgments based on age, demographic, sometimes even dress.  Often, these judgments are hidden internally and don’t show themselves publicly, but they are there just the same and affect my responses to the world around me.  

Sometimes, though, my judgments are startled and shaken to reality.  Something, or someone is so surprising it changes my perceptions.  This weekend was one of those experiences.  

I pulled up at the farmer’s market, apparently the first stop on the Homegrown Farm Tour.  Immediately, I was met with unique, yet wholesome characters.  It was stand after stand of vegetables, fruits, and canned goods, followed at the end by a demonstration of women spinning wool and knitting.  But the greatest treasure was found at the entrance, in bibbed overalls with a calm demeanor.  

Virgil was signing copies of his own book composed of stories and poems of life in MO.  As he signed my copy (of course I couldn’t resist), he turned to the “most important page” in the book:  a picture of his wife of 63 years.  He playfully told us “she got meaner with each year,” but smiled and winked as he followed it up with, “lucky for her I could handle it.”  

I smiled, walking back to the car, thinking that would probably be the best part of the day.  

Annie and I then found ourselves at BrookCherith Farms (www.brookcherithfarm.com). Again, I was surprised as we were met by teenagers and kids that gave us a tour of the farm. Before I knew it, I knew how to care for a hive, learned why they say “queen bee,” and smirked as they explained that there really are body guard bees that protect the hive. Who knew? They then showed us what chicken tractor were, how to water pigs with their interesting water system (which I witnessed as I trekked through the small patch of woods with the pigs running in front of me), and how to milk a cow. I was blown away not just by their knowledge, but that at such a young age, they were so passionate about it.

We had one more stop on our tour. This stop had us at a little antique store and house from 1807. Out back there were local farmers with their goods, but also local artisans. As I approached Rose’s stand, I knew I would like her right away. She took often discarded things, strings, scraps of cloth, old shears, and turned them into masterpieces. My eye was immediately drawn to an old paint brush she had saved from her husband. She has painted vision across the top of it and it immediately created the visual for me of someone painting their own vision.

I looked for a price and when I asked her face changed just a little. It was a cross somewhere between encouragement because someone appreciated her work, but fear that I would actually take. She quickly explained that this was her “baby” and she was torn. She loved what I did for a living and loved the idea that it would be in my office as a reminder, but hated to part with it. We stood for several minutes in that awkward stage of what to do. Both of us wanted to hold on and relent at the same time.

The paint brush was proudly displayed on the bookshelf of my office first thing this morning.

So, what was my lesson this weekend – never underestimate people or experiences. Don’t underestimate the older gentlemen in the bibbed overalls; He might just have a M.A. in counseling and have a better understanding of you than you do of him. Never underestimate the teen girl in boots; She might be an entrepreneur that’s passionate about organic farming. Never underestimate the artist in the back booth; She might have a piece of art that startles and motivates you.

Most importantly, never underestimate yourself. You might find new hobbies, talents, and passions in places you never expected.  

Cycles of Emotions

Recently, I’ve been trying to be aware of experiencing the things around me and seeing things from a unique perspective.  If I’m being honest, this thought process usually lasts for a few moments, and then the mundane parts of life take over, distracting me, robbing me.  

But, every once in awhile, something sneaks up on me and forces me to take notice.  Sometimes its something small, a kind act or a pretty picture.  Sometimes it’s a big, unexpected experience.  This time it was a series of small of events that normally I wouldn’t have noticed.  

As DD and I were going on yet another journey through town, we pulled up to a stoplight.  A young woman was waiting at the corner on her bike to cross.  She got the signal, I’m assuming recognized DD and a look that can only be described as exuberance crossed her face.  She pedaled across waving and smiling (without looking where she was going by the way) in front of us.  We’re talking smiling and waving the way teenagers do on a bus trip trying to get a reaction from the car next to them.  But, she wasn’t trying to get a reaction, she was just that happy!

If we fast forward a few hours later, DD and I were feeling quite adventurous so we decided to drive through a new way through part of the city.  (For those of you who know us, you know that this was a courageous act not because of fear but because of our tendency to get lost). As we were driving, I looked over and saw an older gentlemen, dressed up, setting in front of what was once a building, but was now deduced to a pile of rubble.  It was surrounded by theaters, hospitals, and restaurants, tucked away and forgotten.  The man set in front of it on a curb with his head down.  He was also tucked away and forgotten.  It was the clearest picture of distress I’ve ever experienced.

My heart was heavy wanting to know the story.  My mind was busy creating possible scenarios.  Eventually, the mundane came back and eased both with busyness.

A few hours later, I pulled up in front of my home and as I was walking to the gate something caught my eye down the street.  There was a man standing on the corner of the street singing…and dancing…and he didn’t stop when he saw me.  He waved and kept dancing.  Again, my heart wanted to know the story that caused him to celebrate.  My mind raced between being offered a new job to deciding he just needed to dance it out.  

I walked into the condo with a smile and then realized in one day 3 strangers had unintentionally shared their emotions, stories, and lives with me.  They took me through exuberance to distress to celebration within hours of each.  I may not know the cause of those emotions, but I was allowed to share in the result of them.  

  

Unintentional Expectations!

Last week I had an opportunity to have lunch with some amazing ladies and we discussed everything from healthy foods, to boys, to life plans. I guess that is typical girl talk, but at times the depth and honesty of our conversation startled me.  

Throughout our talk, one of the girls asked, “what is the one lesson you learned this year?”  The response from our friend was that “she didn’t have to rush.”  For me the response was, “I can be unapologetic for who I am.”  Although the responses were a little different, they both stemmed from the same core;  Somehow, without our permission, our lives were being lived in response to the expectations, often unintentional ones, that other people had thrust on us.  

For my friend, her unintentional expectations were hurry up and accomplish something, anything, everything.  There was an unspoken ideal that she would reach her goals as quickly as possible and then the cycle will start over with a new goal and ideal.  

For me, I caught myself expecting to apologize, not always for negative attributes, but often for positive ones.   I felt there was a need to apologize for being smart, or for being a young professional, or for being in the positions I am in, or for being single (lets face it ladies, this one is hard for anyone to appreciate).  There was a small part of me that felt guilty for having the life, experiences, and relationships I have had when discussing it with people.  Again, it wasn’t an intentional expectation, and people definitely weren’t intentionally making me feel guilty.  But, words, actions, and expressions carry far more weight than we initially measure and they cause us to live according to hidden standards.

This year helped me realize that I can be not just unapologetic, but also unpolished.  As I’m experiencing life, I’m going to become aware of some flaws and I’m going to get a few chips and scratches. But, more importantly, I’m going to grasp opportunities, try new things (this week it was flowering tea, Crown Candy, and blogging), and be ok with who I am!

Which way do we go?

This afternoon, DD and I were on our way to interview a potential therapist.  We were on our game.  We scheduled everything perfect, allowing ourselves plenty of time to get there.  We brought up directions and started on our journey.  As our conversation went from one thing to the next, we realized we had somehow missed our exit.  We quickly turned around and headed back in the opposite direction, laughing at how our chattiness caused us to miss it.  

We were cutting it close, but still had plenty of time and we both focused our attention to not miss it this time.  We drove past exit 31 and then saw exit 33.  The problem being that we needed exit 32.  Now, we’re cutting it close and we’re frustrated.  This was not our plan.  We quickly pulled over to get our bearings and realized we were just going to head in the direction we knew it should be.  We took the closest exit hoping to find it.  

We headed south.  We needed north.  We started to go down a street.  It was a one way.  We tried to contact the interviewee.  We had no number.  We did everything we were suppose to, and yet, we found ourselves frazzled, somewhat panicked, simply doing the best we could.  Eventually, we trusted our gut, found our destination, and asked for grace upon arrival.

It seems like such a simple story and it is.  But, it also parallels the past several years.   Years that didn’t go as planned.  Years that felt like I was lost. I was and it led to frustration, at times panic, and at other times heartache. Eventually, though, I learned to not only trust my gut, but also trust that I was being led by someone greater than I was.  Eventually, I took a breath, took in my surroundings, and found my way.  And, upon arrival, asked for grace.

That is what this blog is about.  It’s about that journey back to myself.  It was a journey of sorrow and mourning, that was somehow coupled with joy and opportunity.  It was a journey of uncertain steps coupled with deliberate choices.  

I don’t know where the journey will lead, but I do know that I will enjoy the process.