Finally Reunited

As you might be aware, on December 14, 2020, Joe went to be with the Lord. So many of you have asked about what happened and how you can help. We certainly appreciate your love through this difficult time!

Joe suffered a stroke on December 9, 2020 and lost his battle a few days later. This was unexpected to all of us. Though dad sure loved his peanut butter, he was generally healthy and none of us anticipated such a tragedy.

All hope is not lost, though. We, Joe’s family, are comforted by your prayers, words of encouragement, and, most of all, the knowledge that he is finally reunited with his wife, our mom, Karen. While we wait to be reunited with them, we will work hard to preserve his legacy and continue what he so diligently began.

You can read the details of his obituary here. Unfortunately, due to travel restrictions and the reach our dad had, we have chosen not to do a memorial at this time. Instead, we will be celebrating his life by carrying on his legacy through is blog and books. A memorial fund has also been set up in his name to help us cover final costs.

We hope you will continue to read Wisdom From a Father, which we have aptly nick-named Wisdom 2.5.  Each one of us five kids have learned a great deal growing up under Joe’s tutelage and it is our desire to continue to share, just like he would want us to. You can keep track of us here, of course, but you can also find us on Facebook and Instagram. We look forward to connecting with you all.

Posted in death, encouragement, family, grief, Karen | 7 Comments

The Journey to Rediscovery

Let’s talk Grief and Journeys.

Journeys can be fun, challenging, complicated, easy, exciting, and heart wrenching. Grief? Well, I can’t really say what that can look like. I have never allowed myself to actually grieve-at least not the way most people grieve. Instead, I bury myself in work, take on everyone else’s sorrow to help them along the crazy path of life, and I shut down until I finally explode.

I am not really sure what grief is supposed to look like. I am sure it differs for everyone, but they say there are 5 stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. My stages are Bargaining, Denial, Depression, Anger…..and that is where it stops. I have not learned to accept it. I can’t accept it. I don’t want to accept it. I am too young to be without parents. It is not fair, and I am pissed off at the world and at God. I have questioned my faith more times than not the past 12 years – and even more so the past one and half months.

I remember dad telling me “You need to stop being so negative. You need to look on the bright side.” I said “Dad, there is no bright side in my world.” He very matter- of- factly told me, “There is ALWAYS a bright side Cole. You may not see it, but it is there. YOU just have to open your eyes and heart and find it!” Open my eyes and heart? I never understand what he meant. My eyes are open, and I wear my heart on my sleeve so I would say it was pretty open as well. But then he died, and my world was completely gone.

I lost everything after that. My mind has become numb and I am a shell of emotions.  I lost my faith after my mom died. I still believed in God, but I was not religious. When dad died I firmly believed that God didn’t like me, or I was an awful person in a previous life. If God were real and really did love me, then why would I be without both of my parents? Why would I lose everything in the blink of an eye? If God were real, why would he let this happen?

A friend recently shared their journey with these words, “It will be a hard road, but the end game is worth whatever you have to go through. No matter what you are going through, it could always be worse. Even at my lowest point, I knew I was better off than 99% of world. I had food, clothes, shelter, water, and freedoms. Then, to put the cherry on top, I had my religion. It is all about perspective, even though it is hard to see at times.” I have been dwelling on those words, and a light bulb came on! I do have to open my eyes – to the blessings I cannot see. I do have to open my heart for the man upstairs to guide me.

I have been so wrapped up in the “why me” that I have not been able to see a bigger picture. Yes, my world has crashed, crumbled, and burned right in front of my face, but I am still standing. I have weathered this storm before, and I can do it again. Why? Because I have amazing siblings and friends that will not let me fall without helping me back up.  So, now I know God doesn’t hate me, but he needed me to see that all this anguish will lead me on a journey to rediscover myself, my faith, and to finally grieve the losses in my life. It will not be an easy or fun journey, I am sure, but it is a journey that will lead me to be the best version of me.

Have you been on a similar journey? What helped you on this strange road?

Posted in blessings, death, God, grief, spirituality | Leave a comment

Confidence

Let me tell you about my middle school basketball experience.

I sucked.

Seriously. I was the girl who sat on the bench and watched all the good kids play their hearts out. I cheered them on. I handed them their water. I may have even kept the book a time or two. Occasionally, when the team had a large lead, I was allowed to hit the court and pretend I knew what I was doing. I am so thankful my kids take after their dad in the athletic department.

Could I have worked harder? Probably.

Could I have earned a spot on the court? I suppose anything is possible.

But did I want to? Nah…not really. I was on the team because my friends were on the team. They played. I watched.

After that season, I decided I would break off and try the pom-pom squad and eventually landed a spot on the cheerleading squad. I wasn’t great at those either, but I was staying active and trying new things. In the process of these formidable years, I learned…

First, I learned it is good to try new things. I am as clumsy and introverted as one can get. I did not belong on the basketball court or the sidelines. I should have been watching from the student section, but my friends and teachers encouraged me to try out, so I did. It was not easy, especially for someone with no athletic ability, but I knew that even if I didn’t make the team, I would have no regrets simply because I tried. Sometimes saying yes to trying something new is the hardest part…

I also learned to be teachable. My basketball coach always included me in plays and I did my best to learn all things basketball. I was willing to try and I have needed that teachable spirit throughout my entire life. We aren’t born knowing all the things. We aren’t even born with great, magical talent. We discover the talent and nurture it. Sometimes our nurturing leads to a gift. Other times, it leads to a lesson. Thanks to a couple of brilliant high school teachers, I learned the talent I needed to nurture was not athletic in nature. My talent was putting pen to page.

I also learned to be the best cheerleader, er, rather, encourager. I wasn’t the best on the sidelines. My friends could cheer louder, flip better, and jump higher than me. I just followed their lead, smiled, waved my spirit fingers, and enjoyed the ride. As I did, I learned what it meant to be an encourager. I learned to affirm my friends in the things they excelled at – whether that be pumping up a crowd, studying for a big exam, or pursuing life goals. I learned to tell my friends they were pretty and talented and capable and strong – and I learned to do so without a jealous heart. I didn’t want to be them because I was confident in who I was.

And doesn’t it all boil down to confidence?

I had to learn this – and, to be honest, I am still learning. The confidence I am talking about is not self-made confidence. It is not believing you can do whatever it is you want to do because you are strong and capable. Confidence, to me, is believing God gave you specific abilities. That he created you to do something in particular; to be someone specific. Confidence is trusting God to flesh out in you that which he thoughtfully designed for you long before you took your first breath. Confidence is knowing God has a plan and purpose for your life – and it might be a bit different that you think.

Let me take you on a trip down memory lane to explain…

In high school, I thought for sure I would go to school to be a psychologist. I loved to be the person to walk through problems with others. I went to college and started my journey in social work. It was not long before I realized the problems of the world were much greater than the problems of high school girls and I did not finish that journey. My heart ached in class and I knew I could not be the person needed in a crisis. After some fumbling and stumbling, I ended up with a generic business degree, still dabbling in psychology because it was a fascinating world. I was working in retail at the time, where I happily stayed for fifteen years {best job ever}. I used my psychology background often to help my team in a variety of ways and loved the way God meshed both worlds.  

After my retail days were over, I found myself in the strange world of childcare. I can’t say this was my favorite job, but I can say this is where my heart was opened to family ministry. It was because of this world that I pursued my master’s degree. My degree proved somewhat useful as I worked at a small church for a couple of years, and eventually drove me back into the childcare world for a brief time before working as a student advisor in the online education field. After traveling the state and working with students one-on-one, I am now in a sometimes-mind-numbing position doing data entry and helping the counseling team. Don’t take that the wrong way. I love my job. I love serving the counselers. It is just not a job I envisioned I would be doing at this point in my life. I am not sure I ever really defined what I wanted to do after realizing being a psychologist wasn’t it, but I think I was hoping for something a little more challenging and fulfilling. I miss that feeling of accomplishment sometimes.

I am easily frustrated by my hodge-podge of employment. I have always wanted the opportunity to use my knowledge and make an impact. As I think about the roles in each of my jobs, I can’t help but also think of how I could have made an impact if someone would have trusted me enough to let me. My job experiences have brought me many things, but never that feeling one gets when they know they are doing exactly what God wants them to do. Each job I have held had me learning new things. I had to have a teachable spirit and I found myself being an encourager. I needed confidence to succeed as well, but do you know what every job didn’t allow for?

Writing.

Words are my jam. My gift. The talent God graciously gave me. With every job, I had to communicate, and yes, of course, I used words. But each of those jobs took me away from the one true thing that brought me joy. Except…the sometimes-mind-numbing job that I currently hold. In this job, I can get things done quickly, have no work baggage sapping my energy, and I am free to write. I am free to experience that place I have been longing for; that space where I know I belong.

Funny, no?

My greatest desire is to make an impact on the world. I want people to know and love Jesus the way I do – and I thought I could accomplish this as a conduit for Him in a position that would allow me to use my knowledge. But instead, He wants to use my gifts. He wants me to write. To share Him with others through the written word. He has given me the perfect job that pays my bills and opens my schedule so that I can do just that.

I love the way God uses everything – absolutely everything, in our lives. Not one detail is wasted. I can trace each of these jobs and see where God was moving to lead me along the path. Step by step – right to this very moment. Dad was always my biggest fan and encourager. He always asked how my writing was going. He talked me through scene options for my book and helped me when I was stuck. He encouraged me to clear my schedule and pencil in time to write. If he was still here, I might still be procrastinating…

Have you ever connected the dots of life to see God’s fingerprints in all the details? His purpose for each of us is intentional. His calling us is non-negotiable. Our obedience is essential. Will you be confident in following His lead? Don’t let time run out. Walk boldly the path he has set out for you – and be free.

~ D 🙂

Posted in blessings, career, dreams, encouragement, goals, God, growing up, Memories, self worth, spirituality, things that matter, wisdom, women, words for the week, work | Leave a comment

Fix…

Fix your problems. 

Fix your friends.

Fix your behavior. 

Fix dinner.

Fix the furnace.

Fix cookies. Oh please, fix cookies…

We are always dabbling in the art of fixing things. Sometimes we find success – the picture on the wall gets straightened; the words on the page get rearranged. But sometimes our attempts to fix result in disappointment. We can’t find a solution to the problem. We are left with feelings of dread, like when the furnace makes unusually loud rumblings…

Fixing is only as good as the fixer. Sometimes fixing comes easy and other times fixing is a challenge. I can fix a batch of cookies like a champ but I can’t fix a flat tire. I can fix grammatical errors in text with great ease but I can’t find financial errors without time, coffee, and a few choice words. For the record, my checkbook is rarely balanced… I have great trust in the bank.

But one thing I can do – no matter the problem before me, is to fix my eyes upon Jesus. Such a sweet reminder of the author of faith who will guide me in every step. He is truly the one who does the fixing. 

What are you looking at today? Whatever it may be, can I encourage you to fix your eyes on Jesus first? He will guide your next steps. Sometimes cookies help too…

~ D 🙂

Linking up with my Five Minute Friday friends. Come check out other posts here.

Posted in encouragement, Five Minute Friday, God, spirituality | 22 Comments

Finding Balance

I think I will follow in my brother’s footsteps and tell you a little more about me! With that being said….let me formally introduce myself.

I am Nicolle or Cole. I am the 4th born of 5 and the ONLY one NOT born in a St. Joseph hospital. So from birth I was destined to be different from my siblings 😉

I am a 41 yr old mom of 4 awesome kids. Anthony (24), Gabriella (14), Kaydance (13), and Colin (7). I have lived in the Fingerlakes region of NY since 1995, when my dad decided this is where he wanted to finish raising the last 2 misfits, and start his lifelong dream of having his own newspaper. Although I have wanted to leave NY since the moment I stepped foot in the awful state, I was always compelled to stay. I could not move far from my parents. When I finally moved out at the ripe old age of 20, I lived 20 mins away, and that was too far!

I like to have fun and laugh just like everyone else. What can I say, I am a fun loving girl! As a matter of fact, My nieces and nephews call me Aunt Cool. 😉

I have worked for a liquid fertilizer company as the office manager for the past 14 years. I absolutely love my job and the people I work with. My coworkers have become like family over the years, which makes not having family around a little easier.

I am, as my sister Deanna pointed out, the compassionate one. I truly feel what you feel in the depths of my soul. That also means, I feel what I feel even deeper. I try to see the good in everyone no matter what. I wear my heart on my sleeve leaving me vulnerable, but that is me. This is just how I am wired.  

I can be bitter,  and I tend to live in the past. I can forgive, and I do forgive very easily, but I never forget. That has been a fault my whole life.  Forgiving is easy for me,  but forgetting doesn’t happen, and when I’m hurting you can bet I will bring up all the emotions from 30 yrs ago if I want to!

I had a plan for my life,  but I have failed miserably, and am nowhere near where I thought I should be or wanted to be at this point in my life.  Every set back though, is a stepping stone to get back to where I need and want to be.

I am a hot mess! Every time I think I’ve got my ducks in a row they all seem to scatter to different ponds! However, I am determined to get those damn ducks in the same pond!

For me, finding the perfect balance in life has always been hard.  I lead with my heart (the good) and end with my emotions (the bad). I am confident though, that some day I will find that perfect balance of good and bad.  Until then I will ride the unpredictable rollercoaster of my crazy life while trying to catch my ducks!

Forrest Gump said: “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you are going to get.”

Life really is like a Box of Chocolates. It is a gift that will keep you guessing. Try to remember the BEST is in there, and the worst is mixed in. Finding the balance is what matters.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Treasure of Truth

I am absolutely, positively horrible at remembering things. Anything. I have to write down birthdays and anniversaries. I have to keep a book of passwords. I have post-its and a very full calendar to help me remember my daily tasks. It all sounds normal, but seriously, don’t ask me how old I am or when my kids graduated. I’d have to call my sister… Pathetic, right?

I was in a Bible study last year where we were challenged to memorize scripture. Admittingly, that scared me. I can often remember that I read something. I can usually envision the journal or book margin where I took notes, which allows me to put my fingers on it a bit easier. But goodness gracious, it is a lot to ask me to regurgitate words and numbers.  

Now don’t get me wrong, I know there is great power in memorizing scripture. I know the importance and the command to hide God’s word in my heart. I get up early to read the bible. I do bible studies with friends all the time. I have journal after journal filled with stories, quotes, and prayers. But for the life of me, I cannot remember any of it readily. My idea of memorizing definitely involves paraphrasing.

I remember the first week of my new bible study last year. I was with some powerhouse ladies who, in my mind, would have no trouble memorizing scripture. I was intimidated beyond belief and there was no hiding it! We recited the verse together that first week. The girls carried me and I chimed in with a few words and phrases as they came to my brain. The second week was not so pretty. We had to recite with a partner and I was not prepared. To be honest, I didn’t even try simply because I “knew” it couldn’t happen. But I didn’t want to disappoint my group, so I committed to trying. Third time is a charm, right? Turns out, with a little effort, the third time is indeed a charm!

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand with sinners, or join in with scoffers. They delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about this law. They are like trees planted along the riverbanks, producing fruit in every season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.” ~ Psalm 1:1-3, D’s version…which is kind of close to NLT.

I may have mistaken a word or two, but this is the general gist of the verse and I am proud to have been able to memorize it. But I’m not done. While I have written this verse out, what seems like, a billion times, and I have recalled it to my mind and recited it while doing the dishes and the laundry and driving in the car – I have not accomplished the hardest part.

Memorizing it is only the first step.

I hope this verse, and all the others I have memorized since, will remain in my heart. I don’t want them to be mere words I know – I want them to be strong words I live. Words that convict me. Words that challenge me. Words that change me. As I am shaped and molded by the words I read and commit to memory, I also want God to allow my brain to recall and use those words to help someone else grow closer to him. This is huge for the introvert in me. I would much rather write a letter filled with God’s truth – words I have carefully thought out; words I have verified. I can’t be so careful when speaking verbally. But the Good News is good news and it can’t be left to settle in my heart alone. It must be shared and if God provides the opportunity to do so in a passing conversation, at dinner, or while on a walk, I want to be prepared.

Which brings scripture memory full circle…   

It is hard to know when the words of scripture will come in handy, but I want to be ready with a treasure of truth in the reservoir to draw upon when the opportunities arise. In those moments, I will trust God to give me the words I need and not fret about getting every word right.

What about you? Do you regularly memorize scripture? I’d love to hear your tips and strategies! How do you memorize and recall these verses?

Posted in encouragement, God, spirituality, stories, things that matter, wisdom, women, words for the week | Leave a comment

Wearing Our Own Shoes

Good morning and thank you for your continued support of Wisdom 2.5. After posting “Just a Guy,” I received a great deal of feedback that the community likes the idea of the siblings continuing with the blog our father started and it’s been overwhelming to hear the readers want more.

I am going to admit something here – this is a brave new world to all of the siblings. I don’t think any of us ever imagined the response from the community would be as great as it has been. We were all aware that pop had the blog. We read it and we helped with things here and here, but I don’t think any of us realized the impact and reach his blog had.

Pop was a master with words. He wrote from his heart and generally knew what impact his words would have on others. He had a talent, that he spent a lifetime turning into a craft. He understood his words could ignite the imagination of his readers and drive action, offer comfort, create laughter or just make others realize they were not alone.

From the moment our father passed, each of the siblings were reminded of how impacting his words were as we were overwhelmed by calls, texts, messages, and comments. We didn’t know most of the people that reached out to us, but our father did. We heard countless stories of how they may not have met our father personally, but he had significance from the words he wrote. To our father, each reader was a family member and part of a bigger community – a community he was proud of.

I’m going to be vulnerable here and say on more than one occasion I have asked myself what makes me think I can continue to provide readers with the value my father had provided. He was a craftsman, while I’m just a hobbyist. He built his community, while I’m just getting to know you.

These questions might just be one of the thoughts I’ve struggled with growing up as Joe Jr. but it’s gnawed at me as we have continued the blog. (Maybe growing up Joe Jr is a post for another time…).

I am pretty fortunate to have been blessed with an amazing family. My brother Scott actually doesn’t know it, but he addressed my concern in his blog post “…big shoes to fill“, which made me realize all the siblings are probably feeling the same way. In that post he said “We are meant to wear our own shoes. Walk our own path. Weather our own storms.”

He’s right…trying to duplicate what our father did is disingenuous to everyone that followed him. Trying to write like him is disingenuous to each one of his children (and it would make him mad if we tried pretending to be something we are not). We need to wear our own shoes and walk our own path. If there is continued value for readers they will follow us.

This blog has been a reminder to me, that the words from “Wisdom from a Father” will continue to teach me long after he’s gone. Guess I needed to remember that today and I’m thankful I have a community to share it with.

If the community wishes to help and show their support, we have setup a memorial fund established to help with his final expenses. Donations can be made here.

~ Joe Jr.

Posted in children, dreams, family, goals, self worth, teamwork, thinking | Leave a comment

Fresh…

Today’s Five Minute Friday work is “fresh”! If you’ve never heard of Five Minute Friday’s, you must just skip over that day 😉

You can read more about it on the Five Minute Friday blog HERE

I’ll just get right into it…

If you hang around me long enough you’ll pick up on something that would make you believe that I either don’t know what time it is or I have no idea how to read a clock. Why? Because I always say Good Morning!

Day or night, night or day, saying good morning means more to me than just a salutation to use in the early parts of the day.

Truth be told, when I was a music leader for a small Church and we transitioned to Saturday nights from Sunday mornings I did have a hard time changing my salutation from good morning to good evening.

but I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah,

…as I put some thought into it I started to reflect on what good morning means.

For me, saying something is good, means it has a worthiness. Morning, especially when there is coffee involved, is filled with opportunities and experiences and adventures not yet known. It is almost the exact definition of the word fresh!

So that simple salutation morphed for me into that of a well wish AND a reminder that every moment is an opportunity for great things, just like the start of a brand new (fresh) day!

Since I still have a few moments left in this five minutes… let me encourage you to seek out things you do not already know. Seek through the challenges & struggles to find the wonders and joys in the little things; the things others would miss. And then most importantly, share that gift with someone.

You’ll both have a fresh perspective on life!

talk to you next time,

~scooter~

Posted in encouragement, Five Minute Friday | 7 Comments

Just a Guy…

Last week my sister Deanna posted a blog entitled the Dream Team where she took a step back and formally introduced each of the children. It was a brief introduction to all the siblings to give everyone a look at our lives as we embarked on this journey with each reader. And, while I think it offered a glimpse of who we are, I feel it is important to expand on the personalities you, the followers, will come to see as we continue to write for the blog.

I am the oldest of the siblings, Joe Jr. My sister let everyone know I am currently in Kentucky and I am sure she got a laugh pointing out I have recently been helping on a goat farm (I am about as city as you can be so this will probably make a funny post for a later time). By trade, I have always been in sales and I have been in call center management for the better part of 25 years. By nature, to survive the walls of a call center, you develop thick skin for personal attacks, a tendency to think quick on your feet, the ability to adapt to a new change every minute, and a demented sense of humor (also pointed out so endearingly by my sister). 

Call centers get a bad reputation most days, but honestly, the things I have learned and the people I have encountered have resonated with me and shaped me into who I am today…for better or for worse. Call centers have shown me the best and worst in people. I have been part of aiding in the development of young personalities and helping them be more than they thought was possible. I have seen people struggle and I have watched firsthand as people have taken control of situations and changed the outcomes to be better than they imagined.

I started call center work for a job. I made it a career because I saw an opportunity to influence change through communication. I was in a place where challenging others to communicate honestly and clearly could help people be better mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, neighbors, friends, husbands, wives, boyfriends or girlfriends. 

Shortly upon moving to Kentucky, I found my long-term marriage failing and, for better or worse, my wife moved back to Illinois leaving me alone in Kentucky. I wasn’t prepared for the drastic lifestyle change, but I have always had faith in myself and my ability to make something from nothing. I took the time I needed to look deep into my darkest spots and rather than letting it control me, I made a conscious choice to use this darkness to bring light to myself and to others.

As an extension to leading, coaching, and developing young call center representatives, I tested the waters of life coaching. I shared in some early successes and I had a few setbacks…but the important part to me was getting outside my comfort zone and challenging myself to be better for not only myself, but for others. Being creative, I was always going to survive, but I was looking for more than surviving…I wanted better.

This determination to be better has taken some crazy twists and turns for me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, for those that want to know who I am…

I am a simple guy. I love deeply. I dream big. I speak my mind. I can be raw at times and I don’t sugar coat things to make them more digestible for your feelings. I don’t care what others may think of me because I am comfortable with who I am.  I am quick with a joke, especially the inappropriate ones. I go out of my way for others. I respect differences. I appreciate nature. I enjoy art. Music speaks to my soul. I am a deep thinker. I expect nothing. I march to the beat of my own drum. I don’t have the answers, but I realize that is ok. I live simply and some days I simply live. I value people and I appreciate the experiences that have made them who they are. My sister described me as a “voice of reason” and a “go to guy”–while flattered, I am just a guy, and I am happy that I have had value to others. It is humbling to be described that way.

I am excited to hear from the readers of the blog and learn more about who you are, what you like and, if we can share a good laugh at life, then maybe we will both be better in the end. I encourage everyone to reach out to any of us if there is something you want to hear about, a story you want shared, a memory, a frustration…we need and want to understand who you are so our stories continue to have value. We want to make you laugh, challenge you to do more, realize you are not alone, and share in the challenges and joys this life brings.

We are doing this collectively in memory of our father who devoted his life to words, communication, and helping others. A memorial fund has been established to help with his final expenses and if you choose, you can donate here.

~ Joe

Posted in career, children, encouragement, family | 1 Comment

Three Points

A donation fund has been established to help the Siccardi family pay for their dad’s final expenses. You can donate by clicking here.

My youngest son is on the 7th grade basketball team at school. They are a fun team to watch, with great dynamics between players – teammates, but also friends. Any coach will tell you this is a key element to a successful team.

The boys played against a team the other night who weren’t as lucky. This team was brand new. They had played basketball before, but never together. They were just learning about their specific team dynamics. There were only six boys on the team and they all played with heart, for sure, but it wasn’t enough to win against our boys, who play with one heart.

The other team only scored three points the entire game. Now, you might think that would be defeating to the boys, but I am fairly certain they were not looking at the scoreboard. When the ball went into the basket, you would have thought they just made the game winning shot. The team, coach, and players jumped in the air to clap and cheer like it was a shot worthy of the BCSN highlight reel.

The shot may not have been worthy to take notice, but the reaction sure was.

In his book, Love Does, Bob Goff talks about kindness. He says kindness is one of those things we should never hold back on. He thinks the simple concept of showing love and encouraging others could possibly change the world. I think he might be on to something – and maybe the coach from that team understood this too.

You see, the coach could have done a lot of yelling and critiquing during the basketball game. He could have made the boys feel worse than they already felt, but instead, he chose to focus on the good things that were happening on the court. Any wise coach would tell you there is value in encouraging a team. This young coach was impressive as he showed up for his kids, and in true Bob Goff fashion, he brought balloons – in the form of encouraging words and celebration. I watched the kids on the other team play an exhausting hour of basketball. They were the underdog, unevenly matched, but never once gave up. I did not see one kid hang his head – but I saw all six smile and high five over three lousy points. There is no doubt in my mind that their world was changed for the better that night, all because one coach decided to focus on the good.

If you’ve read any of Bob’s books or heard him speak, you are familiar with his extravagance. He just has an intense desire to lift up and encourage others. With each person we show up for, we help change the world. The coach helped change the world of his basketball players with two simple shots and lots of excitement. It was a great teachable moment for me, and I hope you will see it too.

We need to show up for each other – not just when it is convenient, but every.single.day. We need to quit waiting for people to ask us for help and open our eyes to the opportunities before us. Guys, we need to cheer extravagantly for three points. That looks different every day. So, grab your balloons in the form of a dinner pan, encouraging card, simple act of kindness, or humble generosity and start changing the world. People – friends and strangers alike – need you.

What will you do to extravagantly love others?

Posted in celebration, encouragement, sports, teamwork | 1 Comment

Thanksgiving Lesson

Hey, it’s Cole! I am new to this whole “blog” thing. My writing is usually just for my eyes because it is very emotional to what is going on in my life at the moment. As my sister pointed out, I am compassionate and I feel very deeply. It is a gift and a curse, trust me! But we aren’t going to talk about that today! Let’s talk food………

I love food (who doesn’t?)! My mother was a master chef. She could make a gourmet meal out of anything. Literally. I can’t really remember disliking much growing up. Seafood and liver and onions was, and always will be, a NOPE for me. I gag just thinking about it, but everything else mom made was tasty. She would always try to get me involved in the kitchen, but I had NO desire to learn. Why did I need to know how to cook? I was going to marry a rich man and have a chef!

I can remember early on when I was first married, my mom suggested I host Thanksgiving. We had young kids and she thought this would be good so we didn’t have to bring them out. I hesitantly agreed. The weeks leading up to that Thanksgiving were kind of comical, now that I look back on it. Mom would call and we would discuss the menu. All I could think was, “Menu? Really? Who does that?!” Then she would start talking about what size turkey I would need. “Really? They don’t come ‘one size feeds most?!’’ UGH – so frustrating! Why would anyone want to go through this torture year after year?! After we planned our, I mean my, Thanksgiving menu, it was time to go down the checklist of what would be needed.

Roasting pan. Is that the same as a baking pan?

Baster. Uh, the thing with the thing that you squeeze? I’ll need one of those…

Seasonings. Do salt and pepper count?

Platter. How about a large plate?

Carving knife. Uh, is that a specific knife?

My mom had to bring her kitchen to me, but she did it without complaining. Thanksgiving Eve she called and said, “Ok Cole, turkey needs to be prepped by 9 and in the oven by 10. You should have your carrots all washed, peeled, and ready to be candied. Potatoes all peeled, cut, and ready to cook. Eggs hard boiled. Everything should be ready to go. I will be there in the morning to help with the turkey.”

My only reply was, “I am supposed to do all that before tomorrow?!”

With a chuckle mom said, “Oh, it is ok. It is not necessary to do that the night before. We are eating a little later than when I hosted. I will come help you in the morning! Don’t worry about it.”

Total grace – just like mom. And here I thought I ruined Thanksgiving before it even happened!

Mom was at my house waking me up at like 5:30 a.m. (who does that?!). She literally had her kitchen with her minus the sink, stove, and fridge. No lie! I took the turkey out of the fridge put it in the sink and that is when l learned there were things in the raw turkey that needed to be pulled out before cooking. You’ve seen videos of kids doing this and gagging, right? That would be me. I not-so-calmly let mom know that would be her job.  

After that fiasco, we quickly got to peeling carrots and potatoes, boiling eggs, and sorting out the ingredients for each dish in the order they were going to be assembled. I mentioned mom was a master chef, right? Well, she quickly took over the kitchen. My mind was whirling, and as I stood there watching her make Thanksgiving dinner, I declared I would never host any sort of big dinner again. I thought this was crazy and ridiculous! I can remember her exact words after I finished my announcement.

“You are doing GREAT! I promise it will come naturally the more you do it!”

HAHAHAHA what a comedian. I didn’t do anything that day except watch her.  

After everything was prepped, mom told me she had to go home and get dad. She promised to be back before I would have to start cooking the sides and reminded me a zillion times to baste the turkey every 30 minutes. I was not confident that I could even baste the turkey properly every 30 mins, but at that point I had no choice.

After a few hours, mom and dad finally made it back to the house. The first thing mom did was make sure I didn’t ruin the turkey. Okay, she didn’t say that was what she was doing, but I secretly knew that was what she was doing. We both went straight to the kitchen after that to make sure everything was put in the oven at a precise moment so it was all ready the same time as the turkey. Who knew there was such a science to cooking?

When it was finally time to eat, dad did the blessing as he did every year. I’ll never forget him saying, “Thank you for the meal Nicolle so graciously cooked.” What? Nicolle? Did he NOT see mom do it all?! As everyone ate and complimented my cooking ability, I was compelled to set them straight and let them know I just watched mom. But, in true mom fashion, she didn’t take the honor. She gently reminded me that I did much more than watch.

My parents knew something about that day. It was something I needed a mere twelve years to learn – I can cook. I felt lost and confused because it was a large meal and I knew there would be a lot of hungry people gathered around the table. I didn’t want to disappoint them. I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. I was afraid of failing – and I let that fear stand in my way. Fast forward twelve years later, and I sometimes still crumble a bit when there is a lot at stake – but my knees no longer buckle as they did that Thanksgiving. Thanks to my mom, I learned I am strong. I am talented. And I am worthy.

I am sad I never got to cook Thanksgiving dinner for mom. She passed away nine years before I tried my hand at a big meal again. I went confidently into the kitchen for the first time about three years ago and made Thanksgiving dinner for my family. I was blessed to have dad and Deanna and Jay with their families to take part in this milestone with me. I will admit, it wasn’t a complete success. I almost set the house on fire (long story) and my sister got sick, but since she was the only one who was sick, I say it wasn’t from my cooking! I guess I was nervous and just tried too hard. But I didn’t wait so long to try again. I learned from my mistakes and I have *almost* flawlessly cooked Thanksgiving dinner every year since!

Can I encourage you with this little Thanksgiving story of triumph? You may mess up every now and then, but you will always have a seat at the table. What are you waiting for?

~ Cole

Posted in encouragement, family, food, grace, Karen, Memories, Mom, motherhood, self worth, Thanksgiving | 7 Comments