February 2, 2014

Milestones and a Few Lessons Learned

These last few days have been a whirlwind...I'm almost ready for it to be Monday (almost). Last week, the south was hit was some crazy winter weather. My heart just broke for all the folks who were stranded, without power, and dealing with all the aftermath of the storms.

Knoxville hardly ever gets any snow, even when the forecast calls for it so I wasn't prepared at all when it hit us on Tuesday. Thankfully, it eventually melted without too many lasting effects.

Wednesday, the southern beau and I headed west to my hometown of Cookeville.

After 24 years as a dedicated public servant of the federal government, my dad retired. He worked plenty before that as well in a variety of different jobs. He's always been such a great example to me about what it means to have a work ethic and I was so excited to get to celebrate this milestone with him, first with his colleagues on Thursday and then with some dear family and friends over the weekend.
{the view out my dad's office window in Nashville}
It was truly incredible to hear so many different people share stories and memories of my dad over the years. When you know someone as your parent, I guess it's easy to forget about all the other facets of their lives. Colleagues spoke of his integrity, his wisdom, his being a calm, steady presence during times of chaos, of his hilarious stories, and even some bizarre hi-jinx they had experienced at work. None of it surprised me, but it was nice that so many others got to see what I have always known.

Saturday, we pulled off a pseudo-surprise retirement party with family driving in from far and near, plus great friends old and new. It was really special and I think my dad thoroughly enjoyed himself.

This morning, we were at church with my parents, the same church where I grew up in youth group, when the pastor announced that there had been a shooting at another local church in the community and at least one person had died.

Not exactly what anyone was expecting to hear and I'm certain not what the folks who experienced this tragedy were expecting when they dressed and set off for church this morning.

All we could do was stop and pray...for all involved, for those whose lives will be forever altered.

I know in the grand scheme of the world, this was just one incident. But still, it was one incident with a heartbreaking end.

After church, my family went to eat at the Thai restaurant. It was a strange sensation because while I couldn't shake the feelings of sadness for the small community church, I was just so darn thankful for my own little family and the chance to be with them.

Maybe all of this seems disjointed, but I took away a few things from the last several days.

1. When you are your authentic, genuine self, you can't help but have a positive impact on the lives of others (my dad has done just that).

2. Don't wait until a retirement party (or God forbid, a funeral) to speak kind words about a person you care about. Tell them now. It sort of goes along with this article, but I think it extends way beyond romantic stuff...just let the people who matter to you know they matter.

3. If you have someone who cares about you, you are very lucky. If you have several someones, that's even better.

4. Finally, reach out to someone you know who might be hurting. You could be the only beacon of light that ever shines their way. Don't let worrying about how you will look or the fact that you aren't quite sure what to say cause you to say nothing.