Saturday, October 14, 2017

Generational Goals

I couldn't help but laugh today when my 14 year old came in at lunch time and told me his goals for the rest of his Saturday:
  1. Paint the outside of his camper.
  2. Try driving the old stick shift pickup again...without hitting a fence this time. (Yup - that happened.)
  3. Make his dad drive him up the road to inspect an 8 acre tract of land for sale - with a seemingly worthless, falling down house on it. His next project, perhaps, after the camper is complete?
Not the goals of a typical American teenager, perhaps. Yet as I chuckled over it, I couldn't help pondering a bit.

His Grandpa Kohl passed away a little over a week ago. During all of the reflecting before, during and after the funeral, a common theme occurred. Grandpa Kohl was not a typical American dad/grandpa. Throughout his life, he looked for opportunities. Where others saw a big problem - he wondered if there could be a big opportunity. Opportunities to bless his family, expand his investments, and bless others.

It's no wonder that Nate caught more than his fair share of his dad's ability to be on the look out for big problems. (Oops, I mean...opportunities.) That camper that our boy is getting ready to paint? Nate drug that thing home about two years ago - coming apart at the seams and a hole in the roof where a tree fell on it. Yet he saw an opportunity that only cost him $200. This summer he passed it onto the boy and said, "Want to turn it into YOUR space - your gaming camper?" You bet he did. He's ripped out ugly carpet, laid new flooring, painted, scrubbed a nasty toilet, etc...all for an opportunity.

The truck? When Nate's dad could no longer drive, a couple of the sons said, "Who wants this beat up thing?" Nate saw an opportunity to pass onto the boy. Yes - he ran into a fence with it today, but what's one more scratch? He sees potential, and he's learning to drive a manual transmission when most people twice his age have no clue.

The 8 acre tract of land, with a "house" on it that any appraiser is going to say adds $0 to the value of the property? Remember goal #3 for today? He hasn't seen it yet. But his dad did yesterday - and right away thought it could be an opportunity for his boy to fix up something else. This time, with the idea of re-selling it. Maybe help pay for his college, or help him purchase that house he's determined to buy when he turns 18.

Who knows if anything will come of any of it? Perhaps the boy will just be a gamer for the rest of his life. Yet today, when I heard those goals for his afternoon...yes, I laughed. Then I paused to thank God for this generational value I was witnessing. If he "caught" nothing else from Grandpa Kohl but the fact that huge problems can be great opportunities in the making - he caught a priceless heritage. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Romancin' (It's not what you think...)

My wanna-be romantic husband decided one evening that he'd like to read some poetry to me. You know, like guys occasionally do in the movies when they're trying to impress a lady. Problem is...we didn't seem to have any romantically inclined poetry books in the house.

I did find a dusty old copy of James Whitcomb Riley's "Farm Rhymes." You guessed it. Not a romantic, wooing poem to be found within its pages...but we enjoyed it anyway.

The one promising poem, entitled "Romancin'", turned out to be my favorite, although it had nothing to do with a boy romancing a girl.

A sixty year old man, apparently raised in the backwoods or the hills judging by his vernacular, reflects on his life:
"You git my idy, do you? - LITTLE tads, you understand -
Jest a-wishin' thue and thue you that you on'y wuz a MAN. -
Yit here I am, this minit, even sixty, to a day,
And fergittin' all that's in it, wishm' jest the other way!"

As we struggled to read through all thirteen stanzas (yes, I am from Missouri, but I jest neva use words akin to musin' and medder.)

The lines that grabbed me were these:
"Tho' I still kin see the trouble o' the PRESUNT, I kin see -
Kindo' like my sight wuz double-all the things that UST to be;"

Such a wonderful way to explain this unique view of life I've now obtained in middle-age. Forget the typical mid-life troubles of near or far sightedness. What's truly going on is this: I'm double-sighted.

Yes, I'm seeing today. 2017 is here, clear and sharply focused. I'm in my fifties and the parent of adult children. I'm even a grandmother! Yet my past is there, in plain sight almost daily. Rooms empty, yet I still see them full of giggles and youthful energy. A creek gurgles, void of visible life, but my mind's eye sees little feet splashing in delight. Wildflowers adorn the forest floor, undisturbed. Yet I see small hands gathering bouquets, enough to fill a dozen vases. Books on shelves, closed and dusty - yet I picture eager fingers turning pages as wondering eyes soak up the adventures found within.

No, I'm not living in the past; wishing for days gone by. I'm enjoying the present and attempting to live each day to the fullest, enjoying who, what, and where God has brought me to at this stage, and age. 

Yet the past is always beckoning, right there in plain sight. Romancin' me and making me realize that this life is a mixed up, lovely jumble of so many events, places, and people that have entangled together to make my life what it is today. 

So pardon me on occasion if my gaze wanders. Know that I'm simply pondering this amazing view.
"...I climb the fence, and set
Jest a-thinkin' here, i gravy' tel my eyes is wringin'-wet!"