Archives For Family

Valentine-heart-for-blog-post

He had four daughters.
Whom he’d given a lifetime of Valentine’s Day gifts.
Each year, each gift, communicated “I love you”.
One gift survived the passing of time.
It was among the least expensive.
Given decades ago.
But all four girls managed to keep
their red plastic heart pin, rimmed in gold foil.
Every subsequent Valentine’s Day, the pins were worn.
A memory, a reminder, a bond.
These plastic pins weigh maybe an ounce – but represent tons.
It’s often the simple joys in our life that mean the most.
Money can buy a lot of special gifts, but it can’t buy what those pins came to represent.

Papa is gone now.
But the pins, and more importantly the memories of a father’s love remain.

 

Note: The giver of the pins, and the receiver of so much love from his wife and daughters, was my father-in-law, Charles Martin. On this first Valentine’s Day without Charles, we all remember his life, his love and his example.

Super Bowl Inspiration

February 2, 2015 — Leave a comment

Kudos to Dove. Their Super Bowl commercial featuring dads was a breath of fresh air – and a reflection of how our dads shape our lives.

If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it <here>.

The ad reminds us that our dads:

Swing us into new experiences, steadied by their firm grip.
Come to our aid to wipe, whatever.
Catch us when we jump timidly into something new.
Rejoice as we grow up and move out.
Comfort us in our sorrows.
Rescue us when life hangs us out to dry.
Proudly witness our accomplishments.
Embrace us in arms that are always open to receive us back.

…and so much more.

Thanks Dad.

The Light of Christmas

December 28, 2013 — Leave a comment

Bigstock Candle In One Hand 5332771

Another Christmas has come and gone. For me, this holiday is like a mile-marker on the highway of life. Some of my strongest memories come from Christmas’s past. It serves as a grand finale of another year – and it kick-starts my thinking and planning for the next year.

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. So much is wrapped up in this holiday – besides gifts. For my family, we have more traditions surrounding this holiday than any other. There is special food that is only prepared during this season. One of my favorites is the spritz cookies that my wife and my mother only bake at Christmas time.

There are movies that we watch every Christmas. Classics like “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, “The Grinch” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”. We pile into the living room, build a fire in the fireplace and enjoy watching these for the umpteenth time.

It’s tradition to go walk through the Fantasy of Lights Christmas light display at the local university. We bundle up and walk past every animated display in the multi-acre wonderland.

Another Beshear family tradition is attending the Christmas Eve candle-light service at our church. The songs of Christmas fill the sanctuary and a peace slowly fills our hearts. We begin to focus our attention on the Christ child – the Christ of Christmas. There’s perhaps no clearer picture of the Light of the World than the silent spread of candlelight passed from person to person. His light, His love, can overcome any darkness.

As you plan for the new year, consider protecting the flame of Christmas. What would happen if we continued to focus on the needs and desires of others? How would we change if we sought, day in and day out, to delight those we serve and love? How much richer would your 2014 be if you kept the flame alive and continued to spread the Light of Christmas?

Fathers

June 15, 2013 — Leave a comment

Fathers. Words are too inadequate to describe, but silence cannot prevail when I think about my father and fatherhood on this Father’s Day weekend.

Fathers are:
Faithful.
Mom lovers.
Consistent.
Fishermen.
Servers.
Motivators.
Standard-setters.
Humble.
Role models.
Faith livers.
Loving.
Complaint-less.
Supporters.
Leaders.

Loved

Several months ago, I spent some time working with my oldest son, Ben. At the time, he was helping me rehab an investment property. We were tackling a task that we have never done before – installing cabinets in a kitchen. Here is a picture of the work in progress and the finished kitchen:

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Kitchen

On this project, we did a lot of thinking out loud – “If we rip this here, and shim this there…” We almost work as one – passing tools before asked, completing one another’s sentences. Not calling a cabinet hung until we’ve found the studs to anchor the piece securely to the wall. There is no talk of ‘good enough’. He is the son of an engineer. He is, in many ways, better than his father – and that makes me smile.

Looking back on our time together, I realize that we have both been pupils at the Rental Property University – Learning lessons of investment, of acquiring and building wealth slowly, the embrace of hard work, and the eventual fruit of persistence. Ben has developed remodeling skills that he will use on his own house someday- and quite probably his own investment properties.

We have been stretched to try things that we have only seen on HGTV or U-tube. We saw how well-done work produces best in class properties, happy tenants and culminates in a profitable business.

There are larger lessons to be learned, though. As father and son, we are bound together in so many ways, but time working together on a common task strengthens our relationship in ways that perhaps nothing else can.

Co-laboring is one of the rare activities that forges strong relationships. I have seen it in work, volunteering, and at home. The opportunity to work together with someone is the opportunity to build lasting bonds of friendship.

And so, I’ll ask: Is there person that you would like to get closer to? Perhaps a loved one, friend or co-worker? Is there someone with whom you would like to have more influence? I suggest that you look for opportunities to work with this person on tasks or projects that meet real needs. Working side-by-side is one of the best ways to grow closer to someone than you have ever imagined.

How has working with others changed and enriched your relationship with them?

 

My oldest daughter, Emma, just arrived home from college. She successfully completed her first year at Texas A&M! It seems like only yesterday that she and I were enjoying Saturday morning daddy-dates and the donut shop.

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She had a rich freshman year. Experiencing dorm life, transforming a pot-luck roommate into a close friend, finding her place to worship, plugging into extra-curricular activities, and making new friends were all part of her first year. (Oh, and of course, learning and growing academically.)

Any yearning for dorm life has been satisfied. She’ll spend her sophomore year in an apartment. A real kitchen will free her culinary creativity that has been bound by a dorm-size microwave and the mandatory on-campus meal plan.

Perhaps I am most pleased with Emma’s focus on others. This year she was active in a Freshman Leadership Organization. It took a significant amount of time, but she had great opportunities to grow in her faith, to serve and to lead others. In the process, she touched the lives of women in prison and served the needs of the homeless.

The bonus was the strong friendships that she forged with other like-minded students as they worked side-by-side to make a difference. Co-laboring is like that, when you serve with someone, you build some of the closest connections life has to offer.

My goal this year has been to encourage and gently guide Emma – while challenging her to be all she is created to be. She has such potential to reach and impact those around her.

It is exciting to watch her stretch and grow and lead — and enjoy the ride along the way! I can’t wait to see what unfolds in her life as she continues to work toward her college degree.

This summer she’ll be the assistant kitchen supervisor at a camp in Colorado-another experience that is destined to bring learning, growth and good times.

Might you and I have a lesson or two to learn from Emma? To learn, to enjoy, and to grow is not just for young people. It seems to be a pretty good plan for everyone who wants to embrace life and reach their full potential.

Adopt the mind-set of a college student and seize the chance to do and become something new. Today, this week, and this year -all offer up opportunities that can propel us toward greater fulfillment.

What new opportunity will come your way today?  Will you notice it?  How will you respond?

 

I woke up and started into my planned activities for the morning. Lift weights, check. Shower, check. Head to my office for reading, oops! I ran into my 5th grade daughter, Anna Grace, on my way to my office. “Dad, I need that piece of wood for our catapult project at school today.” The best laid plans of mice and men….

Wood workshop Hand saw cuttin 23149682 copy

“You need it today? This morning?” She assured me that she did. We proceeded to the garage to rummage through my various stashes of wood. Sometimes being an investor and rehabber of rental homes has its perks. Not exactly pleased about my derailed morning plans, I continued to pepper my daughter with questions as we searched the garage. “Who needs it? Who are ‘they’? Why didn’t you tell me yesterday that you needed the wood this morning?”

I proceeded to back my truck out of its slot in the garage. This was necessary because of my unique ‘organizational system’ which requires space to bend and stoop, push and pull, lift and shift, etc. We found a piece, but it was too long. No problem, I can cut it down to size with the saw… — I had taken my power saws to a rental rehab project across town. “Oh, I don’t have a saw here”. Looking up at the peg board on the wall, my daughter said “you can use that saw Dad”. Sure enough, she had found the old hand saw that I had owned for about a quarter of a century.

“I’ve got to get my coat” I muttered because I was cold and because I needed the time to think about my next step. I returned to the garage with my daughter padding a half step behind me. “Ok, let’s do this.” I clamped down the wood, measured and struck a line for the cross-cut, and proceeded to hand saw the custom catapult base for my last born.

“Thank you so much Dad. – and I’m sorry that I did not tell you earlier.”
“No problem, Gracie, just give me more notice next time – I love you.”

Later in the morning, I realized that I was uniquely equipped to meet a specific need in my daughter’s life. I had the supplies, the tools, the knowledge and the skill to help her with a class project. Pretty special.

What skills, perspectives, knowledge, aptitudes and attitudes do you posses to meet the needs of others? You have them. You probably take them for granted. Are people asking for your help? Can you hear them? How are you responding to their pleas?

 

Hands of a driver on steering

“Awe, Dad, you’re going crooked again! – I wonder how many times it will take you today?” My 17 year-old son Zach kept up with the good-natured ribbing as I backed our boat down the ramp at a local lake. Zach loves to fish and this trip was part of his master plan to spend as much time as possible on the water in pursuit of fish.

It’s spring time and that means crappie fishing. Zach and I had invited my dad to join us and he quickly accepted the invitation.

We drove to the lake, launched the boat at a public boat ramp, and headed across the lake. (By the way, it only took two attempts to get the boat and trailer lined up and eased into the water in the center of the ramp!) The wind was 20-25 miles per hour and there were white-caps on the lake that made for a wet, bumpy ride.

We finally tied up to an oil derrick and started fishing. About two hours fishing yielded two small fish. Not exactly a great fishing expedition, but spending time fishing with my dad and one of my sons is priceless. We headed back across the lake toward the boat ramp. I drove the boat and it took three attempts to be the boat onto the trailer amid the wind and the waves.

We pulled the boat up and parked the truck to secure the boat for travel. I was walking up to the driver’s door when I heard the request “Dad, can I drive the truck home?” My immediate answer was “No” and I proceeded to get into the driver’s seat. Then, for some reason, I reconsidered, “Sure” I said and walked around to the other side of the truck to climb into the back seat.

Zach did a fine job driving us home while pulling the boat and trailer behind along the way. He even backed the boat down our driveway and into its normal resting spot in our driveway. He learned and got to experience towing the boat with my truck, and I learned something as well.

You see, as leaders, our natural tendency can be to stick with the status quo. It is “safe” to climb into the driver’s seat and deny those under us the opportunity to stretch, lean and grow. We almost subconsciously decide that the way we’ve always done it is the best way. Often, we think it will take longer if we delegate a task or train someone to take over in an area or business segment.

It was easy for me to say ‘no’ to Zach’s request to drive home. There was three generations of Beshear’s in the vehicle, for goodness sakes! This was some precious cargo. Saying yes took more thought, and some intention. The results were worth it, though.

Good leaders allow those under them to learn and experience personal and corporate growth. Great leaders intentionally design opportunities for those they lead that will teach, stretch and grow them.

The people under our leadership will best grow when we give them opportunities to step up to the next level. Ask yourself – “How am I preparing those who will come after me?”

As leaders, we have the responsibility to educate, inspire and guide those who will fill our shoes in the future. The training takes wings when we allow folks to slide over into the driver’s seat and take the wheel of a major endeavor. The results will often-times surprise you. By the way, Zach backed the boat into our driveway more proficiently that I ever have!

How do you empower others to grow in their leadership?

Time Flies

April 5, 2013 — Leave a comment

I wrote the following post a couple of months ago before I launched this blog.

Father Son Hands

I said goodbye to our oldest son yesterday. I helped him move into the junior college on-campus housing while he completes a program in machining technology. The college is in a smaller Texas town about 5 hours south of where we live. That’s the thing about Texas, you can drive for several hours and not cross any state borders.

Meeting his new roommate brought back memories of my first roommate at Texas A&M, Randy. It is the start of a time of compromise, adjustments and sometimes frustration. Randy and I did not become best of friends, but we lived together with minimal friction or argument. While I studied, Randy usually read a Dune book. I think that he managed to read all of the Dune books, which may have been why he was placed on scholastic probation, and shortly thereafter moved back to his hometown.

We got Ben settled into his new apartment-style dorm, then stocked up his kitchen with a trip to the local Walmart. Ah, the simply pleasures of being a student: Wolf brand chili, ramen noodles, mac and cheese, chips, and frozen diners— that about sums up the contents of his basket at the end of our shopping trip. We celebrated the successful move-in with a tasty meal at a local Bar B Q restaurant.

Growing up is good. Maturing is good. The process of becoming independent is healthy. I am so proud of him as he opens this new chapter in his life. It takes courage to start a new learning adventure that is located 5 hours from home.

There were so many things that I wanted to say to him that day. There was a light rain falling when we said our goodbyes. I wanted to say so many things. To affirm him, encourage him, guide him.

I asked to pray for him. He graciously accepted. I started to pray, and was unprepared for the emotions that welled up within me. My voice clamped down to a whisper.

Childhood memories of our firstborn collided with my prayerful hopes for his future. I want so much for Ben. Not stuff, or power, or notoriety. I want him to fully develop into a man of character— a man who knows who he is and Whose he is — a man whose love for those around him is evident.

I had to stop and regain my composure before continuing to pray. Silence, deep breaths, then a few more words would spill out. The struggle to communicate eased with an amen. Ben I love you and am proud of you…

A rainy, tearful goodbye was followed by a long ride home. Memories of a boy, wearing a coon skin hat and perched high in a tree kept flooding into my mind. Only faint lines of that boy are now evident in my six foot tall, deep-voiced son. Memories fuel hopes that lead to prayer, and the pools well up again to cloud my vision.

As our kids get older I am struck with the realization that they, alone, hold the keys that will unlock their future. We cannot live or craft their lives for them. This is how it should be, even though I selfishly entertain thoughts of control from time to time. The time that we have with our children is a stewardship, a responsibility whose effects will ripple through generations. Raising children is about slowly letting go. It must be done wisely, and with care. Today is seems that this release is perhaps the most poignant when our fingertips last touch.

 

ClaraSledRide

We just returned from a family spring-break ski trip. We had a great time – skiing is one activity that our entire family can enjoy together. Our two college-aged kids joined us on the trek to Colorado and we all had a good time.

Everything went well during our first ski day. The second day on the mountain started great and we were all enjoying the freshly groomed snow – until the incident. Our 12 year old daughter Clara was injured in a skiing accident. A mid-mountain collision with a snow boarder put an unusual amount of stress on her right knee. This enabled her to experience a thrilling medical evacuation sled-ride down the mountain to the ski patrol headquarters. (that’s her, wrapped in the yellow tarp in the above photo)

The incident prematurely ended her (and my wife’s) time on the slopes. They were both good natured about the change of plans, but it is always sad when you are in the heart of ski country and you don’t get to ski! A custom splint was expertly fashioned at the base of the mountain using cardboard and carpet padding. Later that day, she swapped the cardboard splint for a medical grade brace at the clinic in a neighboring town.

Upon returning home, we scheduled an appointment with our orthopedic surgeon. What does it say about a family who sees the orthopedic surgeon more often that their GP doc? Seriously, our frequency of calls to our orthopedic doc could lead you to conclude that he is our primary care physician!

After the exam, he sent her home with instructions to wear the brace most of the time. He did, however, direct her to remove her brace on a daily basis and begin to stretch her leg and knee muscles and tendons. This is done gradually, but will cause some pain as she coaxes her leg to regain its full range of motion.

Some of the exercises will help her straighten her leg, others will force her to bend it beyond its current semi-bent state. You see, the leg is protected in the brace, which is a good thing – given its injured condition. BUT — if she stayed in the brace 24×7, her muscles would atrophy and her condition would worsen.

Life is like an injured leg. We must nurture ourselves in places that are safe – physically and emotionally, but real progress comes from stretching beyond our comfort zone. The process is painful at times. It is uncomfortable to push against the resistance of the status quo.

If we are not stretching, we are, indeed, shrinking back. There is no neutral state. The question is not “do I want to experience pain?” Pain is inevitable. We have the option to choose the pain of proactive progress or to suffer the pain of an un-intentional life.

Our physical fitness illustrates this truth: We either choose the discomfort of regular exercise, or the pain and disease of being unfit and overweight. The piper must be paid.

Will you select the calculated pain of intentional growth, or choose to suffer the pain that comes with poor choices and neglect? One pain is deliberate and is relatively short lived, the other is a sure consequence and can plague us for life.

What ‘painful’ choices have you made in your life?