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The Oak Tree

I wanted to share this poem by Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr. with you today just because I know we all sometimes need some encouragement. I imagine that it isn’t new to you, but I do feel it is a poem worth reading again. I know that I’ve read it a few times this week and that I came across it right when I needed to. Take a moment or two to breathe and reflect today. Wishing you strength, peace and hope. Today and always.

The Oak Tree

A mighty wind blew night and day.

It stole the oak tree’s leaves away,

Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark

Until the oak was tired and stark.

But still the oak tree held its ground

While other trees fell all around.

The weary wind gave up and spoke,

“How can you still be standing, Oak?”

The oak tree said, “I know that you

Can break each branch of mine in two,

Carry every leaf away,

Shake my limbs, and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth,

Growing stronger since my birth.

You’ll never touch them, for you see,

They are the deepest part of me.

Until today, I wasn’t sure

Of just how much I could endure.

But now I’ve found, with thanks to you,

I’m stronger than I ever knew.”

June 17, 2001

June 17, 2001 was a Sunday. It was also Father’s Day. A couple of weeks ago I thought about writing about this particular Father’s Day and then I looked at the calendar and realized that Father’s Day fell on the same date this year! It felt almost coincidental.

I’ve always tried to find special gifts or reminders to give to my Dad on his birthday, Christmas and Father’s Day. Sometimes I go overboard but I only have a few occasions every year that I can really buy for him – so why not? Sometimes the perfect gift comes to mind quickly. Other times I look around a few times before finding the perfect gift. As the special day approaches I find myself getting more anxious when I haven’t come up with something. In the end, I usually do okay.

But Father’s Day 2001 was a memorable one. Not because of something I gave him but because of something he gave me.

That year both of my grandfathers were still alive so it was a busy day. I went to church in the morning, visited both of my grandfathers, and spent as much time with my Dad as possible. Watched him open gifts and had dinner; the typical Father’s Day get together. As I said goodbye to my father and started towards my car he handed me an envelope. I remember asking him what it was and he just said that it was for me and wished me a Happy Father’s Day.

Driving home that night seemed to take longer than it normally did just because I had something I wanted to open. I remember pulling into my driveway and opening the envelope before I even went into my house. Inside was a letter and a CD. I won’t go into all the details of the letter but it started like this:

Dear ____,

Today is Father’s Day. I wanted to make this one especially special by giving you a gift. You’re probably wondering why I would do such a thing. There are more than a few reasons. But firstly, it is because I could never have been a father without you. You are responsible for some of the greatest moments of joy that I shall ever experience in this lifetime… (This might be the first moment that I started to choke up reading his letter. Scratch that. I choked up when I realized I had a letter so that must have been the line that triggered the first tear!)

It went on from there but I will probably continue to keep the rest of the letter between my Dad and I.

Towards the end of his letter he reminds me to keep God in my life and that… when all else seems to fail, He will always be there. A reminder I really need from time to time.

Anyway, I guess I just want to send out a thank you to my Dad.

Because Dad, it’s you that didn’t let me quit.

You prompted me to learn a new skill.

You brought me energy that I could not have survived without.

You held my hand and sat awake all night during my hospital stay.

You pushed me to stand and push forward.

Tonight I thought I’d share a quote that seems perfect for today:

100 years from now it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much I had in my bank account, nor what my clothes looked like but the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child. ~Forest E. Witcraft

Right now seems like the perfect time to grab a cup of tea, read this letter once more and then tuck it away for safekeeping once again.

Signing Off

The other day I was dusting my little ones bedroom. On top of his dresser sits a large personalized piggy bank. When he was baptized I invited those in attendance to sign it for him. My first child had one and I thought it would be nice for the second one to have one as well.

While I was dusting, I took the time to look over a few of the inscriptions, and one jumped out at me. It read as follows:

God Bless you,____, You bring so much joy and happiness to my life. Love, ____

Sweet sentiment, isn’t it?

But, guess what?

This relative hasn’t even asked me how this little one is in over a year, how my other child is, or how I am.

She is very busy. Life is hectic. Running here and there. Hardly has time to fit everything into her day. She doesn’t seem to have time to communicate or acknowledge anyone anymore.

I can’t think of a birthday or Christmas that I’ve missed in her child’s life. Not one. I’ve yet to miss her birthday. You wouldn’t believe the number of calls or texts I’ve sent in support of job interviews, checking to see how doctor appointments went, or just to see how they were doing. I’m not saying that I’ve done these things because I expect them in return. I’ve done them because I care. What I am saying is that it is sad how some can so easily disregard those that they claim are important to them.

It is amazing that one who supposedly brings so much joy and happiness to another can be easily forgotten and dismissed. It takes two minutes to pick up the phone or a quick moment to send a happy birthday text. Quite difficult to do when you can’t fit anything else into your day though, right?

But wait…

That’s right.

Facebook.

Two hours or more each night.

She has time for that.

Something to think about, isn’t it?

I think it’s great that you can receive 51 happy birthday comments on Facebook because of all the friends you’ve reconnected with or made online. On Twitter you can receive 18 good luck tweets fairly quickly before heading out the door to an interview because you have 500+ followers and you sent out one tweet.

But turn off your computer for a minute.

Forget about Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and your other social media sites.

Pretend it’s your birthday.

Your phone rings. Who is it?

It rings again. Who is it now?

Who are the people that are truly a part of your life? Those that truly care about you?

Are you neglecting them?

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