An Open Letter to My Son

One of the things I’ve enjoyed since creating this blog on WordPress is seeing the daily writing challenges offered for the bloggers who use this site.  For example, there are the “Weekly Challenge” or “Daily Prompt”.

Today there is a “Daily Prompt” about the “Art of the Open Letter”:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/open-letter/

As I was reading the article, I realized that I have already written an open letter on my original blog (Nov 2010).  It was called “Letter to My Son”.  So I am reposting it here in the spirit of participation.

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I’ve waffled back and forth whether to post the letter that I recently wrote to my son Brooks upon the occasion of receiving his wings as a Naval Aviator. On the one hand, it WAS a letter written to my son…not necessarily to the world. But, on the other hand, this IS my blog, where I write about my life and my view of the world. So, although it seems a private thing, I decided my message to my son was an appropriate entry in my blog. It conveys my state of mind, emotions and view of the journey that Brooks has been on for these past several years…..

November 3, 2010

So…….

I sit on this small airplane, as it takes off from Dallas and heads east to Pensacola, FL. We arc into the sky and I think about how happy I will be to see you at the end of this particular journey. It has been a while since you and I have had time for ourselves, to be together and enjoy each other’s company.

I don’t believe I’ve ever been a guest at your house, before!

Because of whom I am (or rather should I say how I am), I know the message I want to give you at this momentous time of your life would be better delivered in the written form than the spoken word. I wouldn’t be able to speak these words to you without becoming emotional. So, I write….

I remember the Sunday before you left home to enlist in the US Navy. You were only 17 years old, and I will admit that at the time I felt cheated out of your last year at home. You decided to finish high school during the summer between your Junior and Senior years, and convinced us to allow you to enlist in the military. I was not very happy about not only having you leave home too soon, but also embarking on this journey that I was afraid was too impulsively begun.

At the end of the service that morning at church, you, your father and I went to the altar to pray. We prayed for the Lord’s protection upon you as you left home to begin your adult life. I remember telling the Lord that we understood that you were never ours to keep and that you belonged to Him always. We thanked Him for giving us the privilege and often challenging responsibility of your life, and hoped that you would never abandon the life lessons that we tried to teach you while you were in our care.

And then, you were gone.

It has been ten years since that day, and I hardly can believe that is the case. When I look at the man that you have become, I can truthfully say that our prayers that day have been honored. You have become a young man of honor, kindness and determination. Your strength of character has been honed by difficulty and trial. You have developed a moral code that has become the axis of your heart and mind. You are considerate of others and have learned the value of grace.

You have learned so many lessons beyond what we could have taught you during your childhood years. You have learned what it means to dream of possibilities, and to choose a destiny. You have learned that you really can accomplish anything that you put your mind to. You have learned the value of a determined work ethic, and enjoyed the rewards of pressing on and not allowing anything to turn you from your path. You have experienced the truth that a life is built one decision at a time, and that every choice has a consequence.

And while I am thinking about life lessons learned, I believe that you have recently learned this lesson: We don’t know the scope of our influence during this life, and we must take every opportunity to shine the light for others who may not have had the opportunity to experience that light. The most important message we can live is that there is always Hope, that we are never completely alone, and that there is One who loves us more than we can ever understand. I believe if we can live this message, then our lives will have fulfillment and purpose and we will never experience regret at the end of our time here on this earth.

On Friday, November 5, 2010 you will receive your “wings” as a US Naval Aviator. This ceremony is not simply the culmination of 18 months of flight school. The significance of this event has been around 6.5 or 7 years in the making. It is the arrival at the end of this journey (and the beginning of a new journey) that we will celebrate with you on that day.

Your journey began when you realized (once enlisted) that it would be better to be an officer in the Navy than an enlisted sailor. So you decided to research the options available to you to become an officer. You pursued the option of obtaining an appointment to the US Naval Academy, beginning with setting up interviews with the necessary officials in Washington and beginning the process. You ended up not receiving just one nomination, but three, and were awarded an appointment to the US Naval Academy.

Because you had been out of school by then for a few years, your journey to the Academy began at the US Naval Academy Prep school in Newport, Rhode Island. You spent one year there, preparing for the rigorous course ahead. You learned what life at the Academy would be like both academically and in discipline.

Then, you arrived in Annapolis, MD and took the pledge as a “plebe” to declare your purpose for the next four years. It was during these years that most of the life lessons mentioned before were learned. Even when the outcome was not sure, you made the commitment to continue your course, hoping that in the end you would earn your first choice selection as a pilot in the US Navy.

Graduation day in May 2008 was a highlight of your life, and most certainly of ours. I know that you know how proud we were of you and your accomplishment, but I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am to have experienced that day. Added to our pride was our knowledge of the sacrifice of years and of self in military service that you (and your fellow graduates) were giving to us and to our country.

Your journey continued after graduation as you waited months and months for flight school to begin. And finally, you have completed that training and are poised to begin your service as a US Naval aviator, flying your beloved helicopters and serving your country in any way through which you are called.

So, Brooks, I hope that this letter can give you some insight on all of the love and pride and gratefulness I am feeling when I regard you and your life and the person that you have become. I hope that some day you will have the great honor of regarding your own son with such emotions and knowledge that his life has been directed by a Hand that was surer than the human example of his own parents.

I love you and I wish you joy and fulfillment as you begin the next chapter, and pray for safety and mercy for you and all of your comrades-in-arms (so to speak.)

Mom

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Too much fun!

Coors Field

This past weekend was so action-packed that I am grateful that I have today to recover from it instead of having to jump right back into the work week!  Just being able to say that gives me a little burst of joy….I wish everyone could be in this same place in their lives!

We had so much fun this past weekend, it was almost fun-overload!  Here is a rundown of our weekend…

FRIDAY

We had tickets to the Rockies vs Pittsburg Pirates baseball game at Coors Field.  We chose this particular game because Redgie & I are Pirates fans.  Redgie & I rode the light rail system to Union Station downtown and walked over to the ball park.  There we met our friends (Clouses, Benefields, Giannatalas & Lairds) who all happen to be Colorado Rockies fans.

We ate Rockies Dogs for dinner (bratwursts with sautéed peppers & onions) and during the game snacked on peanuts & popcorn.  It rained a little bit but not enough to interrupt the game or make it too uncomfortable in the stands.

Despite the rather rude & rabid Rockies fan who sat behind us & found great fun in heckling Redgie (who was wearing the Pirates colors)  we had a great time watching the game and  visiting with our friends.  I especially enjoyed hearing from Jan about the birth of their darling new grandson (while trying not to be too jealous as this is their 10th grandchild while we have none!)  🙂

Unfortunately the Pirates played miserably and lost the game 10 – 1!  What a disappointment!

SATURDAY

Saturday morning began with a fun breakfast at the BBH hosted by Dave & Lynn for their former Sunday School class.  About 40 people attended.  Since the original class no longer exists and many of these people now attend other churches, it was a rare treat for them to reunite and spend time fellowshipping and catching up on each other’s lives.

Everyone brought a pot luck item to share, and what a feast it was!  Dave made his famous banana/walnut buckwheat cakes, and others contributed egg casseroles, potato casseroles, bagels, danish, cinnamon rolls, fruit, yogurt and juices.

After eating and some fellowship time, Mark Stout shared a little of what God has been teaching him about the promises of God.  It was so great to hear Mark’s teaching again, and to enjoy it with all (or most of) the original members of the Upper Room Class.

That afternoon Redgie & I picked up Jan & Vini and drove to Ft. Collins where we met the Benefield family at Red Robin for dinner.  We were attending the Brian Regan concert that evening at the Lincoln Center in Ft. Collins.

This is the second time we have traveled to Ft. Collins to hear Brian Regan.  We really enjoy his comedy!  He has such a funny way of looking at ordinary every-day occurrences.   The funniest bit (in my opinion) was the one about checking into a hotel & when the agent cannot find your reservation they ask if perhaps the reservation was made under another name!  hahaha!  I found a clip on YouTube that contains this bit….this was the appearance that Brian Regan made on the David Letterman Show last summer:

After the show Jan, Vini, Redgie & I enjoyed some delicious ice cream at the Walrus Ice Cream shop located at 125 W. Mountain Ave in Ft. Collins.

SUNDAY

We decided to go to the early service at Denver First Church of the Nazarene on Sunday.  We usually go to the later service, but since Redgie had to be back at the church at 4 pm on Sunday afternoon we thought an earlier service would be better to give us more time at home before coming back to the church.

I enjoyed the different experience of worshipping in the early service.  It is not as heavily attended as the second service and I could tell the early service was more popular with the younger crowd.  The music was more edgy/contemporary than we normally hear in the second service.  But I enjoyed the music led by the Alpha Band and Shawn McClellan (our church’s worship leader.)  It was a nice change of pace, and I definitely enjoyed getting home sooner than we usually do on Sunday after church and lunch.

Then at 4 pm we were back at DFC because Redgie was playing the saxaphone in the Jerry Nelson “Hymns & Gospel Sing” Concert that evening.  While Jerry & the choir & orchestra rehearsed Jan & I were helping Rachel set up media sales tables and learning what we needed to know in order to help at those tables before & after the concert.

The concert started at 6 pm, and the house was packed!  Jerry is an amazing talent both on the keyboard and also in arranging music for all instruments.  His selection & performance old and new hymn favorites was certainly enjoyed by everyone present.  The added talents of Shawn McClellan and the Rocky Mountain Singers choir created a memorable experience.

As you can see our weekend was unusually busy and action packed.  This is why I am saying today “TGIM!” (“Thank God it’s Monday!”)  🙂

(For more information about the places mentioned in this post please click on “The ‘Where’ is here” page.)

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes!

This evening I’ve had an enjoyable time re-reading some of the earlier posts in my original blog , and I wonder why I haven’t been more active in writing in it. I enjoy writing and recording my thoughts about my life and my experiences (even if no one else ever reads them!) But I think this (just like everything else) requires a commitment of time and energy and I have let other things take priority. Not tonight though…..

The subject of this post is “Changes”, and there have been quite a few.

The biggest change in my life lately is that in July 2013 I finally “retired” from my position as the US Manager of Email Support at Homeaway/VRBO. This was such a bittersweet decision for me. I have loved this job & company so much over the past 11+ years that I have worked for VRBO (first) then Homeaway. I have learned so much & gained valuable experience in Customer Service Management during my tenure with this company.

But I finally came to the point of realization that I was having a more and more difficult time managing my team from my location in Denver when the majority of them lived in Austin TX & worked at the Corporate Headquarters there. Being a Manager but not located in Austin was difficult because I was isolated from so much that was happening and not able to participate in many of the projects and collaborate with other teams as others on the leadership team were able to do. There were some additional pressures and stresses that helped me come to this decision but I’ve been able to put those to rest and have peace about the outcome.

The very best part of this journey has been the friends and relationships that I have built throughout these past 11+ years as a result of my employment at VRBO/Homeaway. I know that these relationships will continue even though I am no longer with the company. I am so grateful for the whole experience and the friendships that I have gained as a result.

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(This is a photo of me in the “Family Truckster” located in the Homeaway Penn Field office.)

It has been one month since my last day and I wonder “What have I done with myself since then?”

I have enjoyed the freedom of suddenly having all of my time to myself!

    • I have re-dedicated myself to daily devotions in the morning when drinking my coffee (which was another practice that I so often pushed aside, giving priority to other things; most often, work.)
    • I have enjoyed much more reading time than I was able to have before.
    • I have decided that I need to create some kind of structure to my days or week in order to feel productive….it is really easy to get to the end of the day and realize that while I spent my time doing a lot of things, not a lot of it was what I consider as “productive”.
    • I have taken up a long-neglected knitting project (an afghan kit given to me by my kids some 5? 6? Christmases ago.)
    • I organized my closet! 🙂
    • I’ve been able to go to some yard sales on FRIDAY instead of on Saturday….I really enjoy going to yard sales and have already scored a couple of great finds!

I have found that I am lonely without the daily interaction with my team. I think this has taken me by surprise because I worked from home and was usually alone for most of my work day, working away in my office in the basement of the BBH. So I am used to the isolation. But I guess I didn’t realize how often we communicated with each other by phone or skype.

I’ve been considering some volunteer opportunities, and I also plan on taking a writing course this fall. But for now, I’m happy to just enjoy each day as it comes (even if I do take a little longer getting out of bed in the morning!) 🙂

Another change in our family is that after two years of attending Augustana College in Rock Island IL, Brady has decided to transfer to Colorado State University. While this means that Brady will only be 1.5 hours from home instead of 13 hours, it also means that (for this year at least) he will not be playing college football. I’m sad about that. But Brady made the decision after a lot of thought and wants to spend his last college years at a large university campus. Additionally CSU has a good College of Business and Brady wants to earn a Business Administration degree there. His first day of classes at the CSU campus in Ft. Collins is August 26, 2013 and I am praying that his experience there is all that he hopes it will be.

One thing I’ve learned through this life is that change is inevitable and nothing will ever stay the same. Another thing that I’ve learned is that it is my attitude that determines how these changes will affect me. So I choose to embrace the change and am excited to see how my new “normal” life turns out!