It’s amazing how often we get things reversed. So often in life we find ourselves concentrating so much on the expedient that we forget the important.

Life seems to be full of conflicts and pressures that it is easy to overlook the critical issues in life. The constant pounding to produce…earn…bring results…finish…excel can easily replace those thoughts in our mind that encourage us to create and seek out efforts of lasting importance.

Most of the time the really important issues are not shoved in front of our faces every few minutes…rather they promoted by that still, small voice in the back of mind that, at best, we struggle to hear through the grind of daily life. Learning to be concious to that whisper is difficult. It is easy to allow the drone of normal activity to make us lose our focus on the valuable and important things.

It is very similar in concept to what I teach in my photography classes. I always tell my students that there are thousands of incredible photographs all around us everyday. We have to learn to develop an eye that is constantly seeking out those images. I find the best way to do that is to regularly reexamine all of those mundane items that we walk past everyday. Learn to see them in new light and from new angles. Learn to appreciate the beauty that is found in the familiar. Actively seek out those items that have become so commonplace to us and spend some time getting reacquainted and energized about them. When that happens suddenly you become aware of wonderful things around you and the world takes on a new shape.

Seeking out activities that are important enough to you to trade your life for takes that same kind of creative searching and constant examination of everything around you.

Is it hard?….yes. Is it time consuming?….somewhat. Is it important?…well we’ve all got only so much time on this earth and we need to realize that we trade some of the time for every activity that we do. I find that thinking along these lines encourages me to spend time wisely and it encourages me seek out functions and activities that have a sense of purpose and value.

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
Sir Winston Churchill

While sorting through some old paperwork tonight I came across a handmade valentine from my daughter. It was small, on purple paper and covered with red markers and silver glitter. She had drawn a heart around her name. It looks like something she would have made when when she was five or six years old. In her little handwriting she had penned,

“I love you when I see you.
My heart comes out.
Happy Valentines
Love Emma”
I had to stop what I was doing for a while to consider this. What a bold and wonderful way of expressing how a little girl feels.Every father always hopes and prays that he can inspire this type of devotion within his children…and especially a little girl.

I guess every dad dreams that he will always be the only man in his daughter’s life. I know that someday she’ll find someone else who will ‘make her heart come out’ and I’ll be relegated to a new role. And that is as it should be.

But at least for now…I’ll cherish where we are and strive to remain worthy of a little girl’s love.

August 1st always brings a moment for reflection. In 1975, on August 1st, I lost my mother after a short illness. At 17, I was the only remaining child at home and handled things to the best of my ability. It seems strange that this was 30 years ago. She’s been gone almost twice a long as I knew her. Time is such a strange beast.

It was a sad time, however, there are countless thousands who have suffered more and come through. Even at that age and under those circumstances I knew that God would take care of me - somehow - probably through someone else.

I remember the struggle and sitting in the midst of what I would refer to today as a ‘Doubt Storm.’

    Did I do my best?
    What am I going to do now?
    Where do I go from here?
    What about school?
    What about everything else?

Charles, my oldest brother, came through and provided a place for me until I graduated. I’m sure that mistakes were made - but I’m also absolutely sure that he did the best he could.

Anyway August 1st brings a time for reflection. I always wonder what she would have thought of how things have turned out. What would she think of the daughter-in-law and grandchildren that she never saw? What would she be doing now if things had been different?

I don’t know much but I do know that some questions will never be answered on this side of the gate. After all, death is a door that ushers us into a new reality. Nothing temporal is truly permanent - we only part to meet again…

A couple of years after Lisa and I were married I began to get an interest in finding out about my heritage. For some reason that had never been important in our family and, at that time, I didn’t even know my grandfather’s name. When the thought of children came around I began to feel a real need to discover something about our history so that I could pass it on to my kids. With this motivation I began to dig in.

Having spent the last 20 years studying my family’s genealogy I still find myself fascinated by the things that I find. I found that my 5th great grandmother was Hannah Boone, the younger sister of pioneer Daniel Boone. Over time I’ve added literally thousands of people and hundreds of family stories to my data files. One day I’ll work and get these compiled and published (just one more item on my to do list).

My oldest brother had not been exposed to much of our family history other than a few casual conversations that we’d had over the years. When he and his wife came to visit us this summer I told him that we needed to spend a day uncovering some roots that he was unfamiliar with. We drove to Kentucky and saw the Old Mulkey Meeting House where she was a founding member and was eventually buried on the grounds.

Hannah Boone
As I stand there reading the old headstones and reading the histories of such people I begin to wonder about how they lived, loved, worked and thought. The questions roll through your mind and you ask yourself…
What separates me from her besides 6 feet and 260 years?
How are we alike and how are we different?
What were her dreams and aspirations?
Did she see them fulfulled?
What would she think if she saw where her progeny have traveled over the last quarter millenium?
Would she be proud or ashamed?
If she had a chance to do it again, what would she do differently?
As I think on these matters I look another 260 years down the road and wonder about what the future holds for my own decendents. Will the day come when a 10th generation decendent of Hannah stands over a marker wondering about me the same way?It’s impossible to understand the inner most thoughts of those who have gone before us and it will be unlikely that those who follow us will come to understand all of the things of which we’ve dreamed. I’m sure that my motivations and aspirations will be as much a mystery to some future generation as her’s are to me. But, I believe also that it is up to each of us to do the best we can with the time and resources with which we’re blessed and to live a life in such a manner that our children…and their children will be proud.

I don’t know who my grandfather was; I’m much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865)

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