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    with the thanks of a grateful nation

    I am embarrassed to admit that when I was a child and a teenager I didn’t understand.  I didn’t understand the commitment and sacrifice of a veteran.  I didn’t understand the danger in times of war & peace.  I didn’t have an appreciation for the commitment and sacrifice.  I understood that my grandfather served in WWI & tried to teach us a few French words he learned when he served in France.  I knew that my Uncle Bob was a veteran of WWII, and that my dad served in the Navy after high school.  But I didn’t think it was a big deal, and for that I apologize.  Thankfully as I grew up and matured I began to realize the magnitude of the sacrifice.  The bravery and selflessness I cannot fathom.  Every veteran past, present & future chooses to put themselves in harm’s way knowing the danger that comes with their profession.  And they do it gladly and proudly. It's what makes this nation great.

    A few years ago Diana, our exchange student from Russia, spoke with me about how surprised she was at the level of reverence in which we hold our military in this country. She didn’t understand. It seems in Russia the military is not respected.  In Russia they serve because they are told to. She told us most households don’t own a Russian flag – and would never fly it proudly as we do ours.  On Memorial Day the parade passes in front of our house, and she was amazed as we lined our street waving our flags, honoring our veterans and those who lost their lives protecting our freedom. 

    From the front porch of my house I can see the Mound Cemetery, which has the highest number of burials of Revolutionary War Officers in the country.  Yesterday at the Mound Cemetery, Marietta buried our latest military hero, Marine Lance Corporal Josh Taylor - who was killed in the mortar explosion in Nevada that also killed 6 others.  My daughter knew Josh in high school and said he was so very kind and polite. He isn’t the first from our town, and he won’t be the last, but he’s the first classmate of my children.  I didn’t know him.  I don’t know his family.  But I walked to the end of the block to pay my respects to a man who chose to make the Marines his career in a time of war.  He was a mortar specialist and certainly he knew that his chosen specialty put him in danger even when he wasn’t in combat.  There are no words to describe that type of commitment to our freedom.

    There was a silence on my street the likes of which I have never heard.  You didn't hear a car or a dog’s bark or a cell phone or a single voice.  Complete and utter silence as his fellow Marines saluted him one last time.  The silence was broken only by the sound of the bagpipes and the gun salute and the playing of taps.  I didn’t know him, yet my tears came for him, his family & fiancé. His sacrifice ultimately became theirs.  

    I am humbled and in awe of all who wear the uniform and serve our country.  Yesterday as I stood in the silent crowd paying tribute to Josh Taylor, I know we were all wondering how it was possible that our hearts could be so swollen with pride and so broken at the same time.  

    Heroes.  All of you. 



    Busy signals


    Recent Conversation:

    Someone I haven’t seen for a while:  “How’ve you been?”

    Me:  “Busy, really busy”


    I’m calling myself out on this one.  That’s a conversation I engage in often, and “I’m busy” seems to be my unconscious response.  I recently found the saying above and it got me thinking about the whole concept of busy. 

    Truth is.  I am just kind of busy.  But only because I’ve chosen to be. Busy is a relative term. In comparison to other times in my life I’m a different kind of busy.  I’m not busy with kids running to a million school functions or babies and toddlers who can’t be left alone and need constant attention.  I’m busy with my job – which has been quite a bit more stressful lately, and with my community involvements and my friends. 

    Busy with things that are choices.  It’s true of most of us.  We’re busy because we’ve said yes to everything's that offered to us instead of deciding to say no to some.  Our kids are in dance and gymnastics and golf and crew and soccer and girl scouts. We’re involved with our churches and our community.  None of that is bad.  It's the opposite of bad. We need for our kids to try things and not sit around playing video games. It’s how they will find their passions.  And our churches and communities need people to be involved and volunteer – I am involved because I think it’s important.

    But - somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten to temper the ‘being involved’ with more of the ‘being still’. We’ve forgotten that we can encourage our kids to not be involved in a sport and an activity every season.  Your kids are probably as perfect as mine, but chances are they are not going to be an Olympic caliber athlete or get an athletic scholarship to a Division I school.  It’s ok for them to have some down time.  It’s better than Ok, it’s necessary.

    Busy doesn't make us more important.  Not being busy doesn't make us less important.  It's not a measure of our worth. 

    I’m not really that busy. I don’t have kids at home, and I’m only managing my schedule. I’m busy with things and people that are important to me. Because of my reclusive tendencies I've made a conscious decision to stay involved with some things just to get myself out of the house. But at any moment I could say no and be less busy. 

    So can you. 

    To not be busy means you can be at home with a book. To make a slow cooked meal and linger at the table with your friends and family. To put together a puzzle with your kids or fall asleep while watching a movie.

    Sounds pretty good huh? Breathe. Relax. Enjoy. It will all still be there tomorrow. 

    Stop the Glorification of Busy. 


    it takes a village

     You’re a first time parent and you’re scared to death.  You are bombarded constantly by stories in the news media of parenting gone wrong.  You’re hoping your child won’t be the one running a prostitution ring out of the middle school choir room.  Or a meth lab from the trunk of their car.  You’re praying your child won’t be bullied – or be one of the bullies.  You’re afraid that you’ll need to worry about them sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night to meet up with their 52 year old boyfriend.  Or that they will run away with a registered sex offender that they met online.  You don’t want your son to end up on ‘Maury’ doing a DNA test to find out if he is a father.  It’s all you hear about and it’s frightening to think of all the ways teenagers can be influenced. 

    All joking aside, you pray for their safety, that you can teach them right from wrong, how to work hard and treat people with kindness and respect. 

    But if you’re lucky as a young parent you’ll know kids in your neighborhood or church or social circle that will give you hope that your vulnerable little bundle of joy can make it to adulthood without being the headline story on Dateline NBC. 

    I was so lucky that we lived next door to two such kids that I’ve watched grow up since they were 7 and 10.  Kids, who were smart, and kind, worked hard to achieve success in sports and school.  They were babysitters and friends for my three. They love my kids unconditionally and have knowingly or unknowingly mentored them for more than 20 years.  We’ve cheered them on at their sporting events, and they’ve gone out of their way to support mine at theirs.  We’ve supported each other through crisis and moments of great celebration. They and their wonderful parents are family to us.  

    Young parents everywhere need to find these kinds of role models for their children.  Older kids who will demonstrate with their actions how to make it through the perils of middle school, high school and college.  I’m grateful that we had Tim & Tracy.  And hopefully my kids can pay it forward and be examples for the next generation – teenagers and young adults that are far from perfect but give young parents hope that it will be ok. 

    And now Tim and his beautiful wife Stacy are having a baby of their own. It’s a first for me - the start of a new generation of babies born to friends or family I’ve known as children.  Saturday Evan and I were honored to attend a family baby shower - where one of the relatives asked me how I was related – and I explained that technically we’re not family.  Just in our hearts. 

    It doesn’t always take a village - sometimes all it takes is one or two.  

    photo above of Tracy's last home volleyball game at Ohio University.  My kids with the We Heart Tracy signs....

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