A Tribute to Frank Pridgeon

Frank and Alpine truck

Frank Pridgeon
April 1950 – Nov 2014

My husband, a modern-day Daniel Boone, was an adventurous spirit. He had been a skilled woodsman since childhood (He roamed the woods around their home and hunted small game successfully with a .22 rifle when he was nine.) We have a newspaper clipping his mom saved showing the time when, as a young boy, he killed a bobcat with a stick. He loved wide open spaces and the adventure that awaited around each curve in the path.

He was an expert at cast-net fishing. He knew how to call up a turkey, and wait on a buck. When he hunted or fished, he brought home supper.

He would eat anything. The more unusual the dish, the better he liked it. His favorite TV show was “Bizarre Foods” with Andrew Zimmern.

He was a pipefitter with worldwide credentials. His work had taken him from one environmental extreme to another. In the late seventies, he spent a little over a year in the 120 degree heat of the Saudi Arabian desert, and recently worked where the wind chill factor drops to -84 (not exaggerating) on the North Slope of Alaska. (They had to stay inside if the wind chill factor fell below -50.) Where most folks would shrivel, he thrived.

He had followed his dream, his passion. Every day was an adventure. He amazed me with the sacrifices he was willing to make and the risk he was willing to take for our family. And I have always appreciated it. When I would tell him how amazing he was, and how I was so impressed with his courage to go forward no matter the risk, ( -84 degrees, really!?! ) he would look at me with that little smile and say, “If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.”

Why do I tell you all of these things? Because he wouldn’t. He didn’t think his skills were amazing. He just felt ordinary. And sometimes he felt less than ordinary. A teacher told him at one point in his life that he was not smart because he struggled to read.

The truth is, he was smart. He struggled to read because he went to four different schools in first grade. Not good for a solid foundation in reading. His family had to move around to find work. He had to figure the reading thing out himself in spite of teachers who would rather label him than bridge the gaps. He was determined to prove them wrong. And he did. He worked hard, bridged the gaps himself, and graduated in spite of the label.

He not only graduated, but worked and used his skills and talents to further his education and build the credentials he had to be able to go where he went, do what he did, and earn what he earned. What a life!

And he lived this way until November 7, 2014, the day God opened Heaven’s door and welcomed him home.

Frank at Seward

And I also tell you these things because someone may have labeled you incorrectly once (or every day for an entire school year). Learn from this great man : Don’t let a label hold you back. God has gifted you. Go with your passion. Pray and find the destiny He had in mind for you the day you were conceived.

Be someone’s hero.

Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you…

 

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When You Find Yourself… Empty

Empty bucket

If you are in a position that is constantly asking you to give of yourself- doctor, nurse, pastor, teacher, mother, father, and others- you may at times find yourself empty.

Some years ago, we had a program used by our faculty and staff to “fill up our buckets.” The promoter of the program gave us a demonstration of a small pail being filled to the brim one drop at a time to illustrate how we can stay full by dropping compliments and praises into each other’s “buckets.”

The words must be genuine and concrete like, “I appreciate the way you …

Have your students pick up before I vacuum your room.”
Collaborate with other teachers.”
Arrive at work on time everyday.”
Contributed that idea yesterday at our meeting.”

We had little sheets of paper in the shape of drops. Some mornings we would find a “drop” or two in our teacher’s mailbox. This started our day on a positive note and made us feel appreciated, good about the work we were doing.

We did this for quite a while. It lifted each of us up and we felt great doing it. We were full. There was a bounce in our step and strength for the day. The principal liked the atmosphere it engendered at our school and strongly encouraged us to keep it up.

Then the novelty wore off and we’d forget to write them. Or we’d write something just to say we did it. Insincerity killed the program. Sucked the life-giving moisture right out of it.

We kept doing our jobs, giving of ourselves at work and took stuff home to do. You don’t know you are draining out slowly until you are empty.

Then I realized something. It is not someone else’s responsibility to make sure I am replenished. It is my responsibility.

I realized something else, too. Real fullness doesn’t come from other people; it comes from God.

I can be replenished every morning by drinking in God’s Word and praying.  In the praying, I must take time to listen. Tune out every noise and stop talking. Just listen to Him. It might take a few minutes to totally tune out the world and my own wants and needs, but it is so worth it to sense the Presence of the Lord. The day begins on a positive note and my “bucket” is full. There is a bounce in my step and strength for the day.

A compliment from a colleague for something well done is still welcome and very much appreciated, but not necessary.

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. (‭Colossians‬ ‭2‬:‭9-10‬ NKJV)

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. (‭John‬ ‭1‬:‭16‬ NKJV)

When you find yourself empty, tap into Him and receive His fullness. His life giving water will fill your bucket to the brim and running over.

Bucket poem

 

Do Your Clock Wook?

Photo credit: www.carseatblog.com
Photo credit: http://www.carseatblog.com

Recently I had the distinct privilege of caring for two of my daughter’s six foster children who call me Grandma. Heading into town to have some fun, in the car with me were two year-old Cody and four year-old Hannah.* They are true siblings and both very bright.

Hannah could not see the digital clock on my car dashboard and asked what the time was. I told her it was 9:42. We would get to the mall about the time the stores would open. About ten seconds later, she asked again about the time. I looked and responded again, “9:42,” thinking she didn’t hear me the first time.

She replied, “Do your clock wook?”

I laughed out loud, “Yes, darlin’ it works.”

I realized she had heard me and this precious child’s time frames are different than mine. Ten seconds to her computes to at least a minute or more and in her mind the clock should have changed.

Waiting is not fun. She was ready to get there, get out of the car seat, and enjoy herself in the mall.

How often have I wanted to ask God, “Do your clock wook?”

* not their real names.

Stay Calm and Do Your Best

Failed test

Tad* was upset. A quiet kid, he uttered no sound and bit his lip to maintain his composure. He had failed a test. The second one in as many weeks. Not used to that, it caught him off guard. He sat there, stunned.

I was heartbroken. Here is a kid who is as pure as the new-fallen snow, always gives his best, and looks dumb-founded when someone has the gall to be disrespectful or unkind. (He just doesn’t get why someone would act that way.) He is a well-rounded kid from a good home.

It was only a couple of minutes before the bell. I told the class to clean up. I didn’t want him to dwell on it. He quietly put his books away and adjusted his backpack.

When I dismissed the class, I motioned for him to stop by my desk and talk to me. Not really knowing what to say, I tried to encourage him by telling him that these tests were difficult. (Also, he tends to over-analyze questions and sometimes the answer is the obvious. He second-guesses himself and sometimes chooses the wrong answer.)

I assured him he would do better, and I would do all I could to help him achieve his goals. He smiled and thanked me. (What a great kid!) He asked me about the impact the test scores had had on his grade. I looked and told him he had a B in my class. His lip trembled again. He forced a smile, thanked me again and went to lunch.

The following Friday was mid-term progress report day. The grades had all been entered into the computer and reports printed. The last grade entered was the at-home reading grade for books they read at home and tested on at school. This grade was totally their responsibility.

As I handed out the progress reports to Tad’s class, I couldn’t wait to give him his. The reading grade had bumped him back up to an A. When I put the report on his desk, he looked at the grade, then at me. His face lit up like a Christmas tree. Made my day.

I said to him, “You did it. All that reading you did paid off! Well done!”

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Then he just smiled. A satisfied smile.

After the class left, it dawned on me. Tad never complained, never cast blame, spouted off, or any of the things I do when I fail. He did his best in the face of failure. He continued to do right, to give his all, even when he thought it wouldn’t matter.

On that day, he was the teacher and I, the student.

*not his real name

Penicillin: Breakfast of Champions

Penicillin on a plateWoke up with an abscessed tooth. Pain and swelling. I’ve experienced this before. I know the feel, the look, the process. My first thought: Ain’t nobody got time for this! This does not fit into my plan, my schedule.

I swallowed acetaminophen and intended go to work anyway, but the increasing pain and one look in the mirror at the chipmunk-cheek now adorning the left side of my face nixed that idea. Dealing with 130 thirteen year-olds seemed overwhelming at that point.

After I called in for a substitute teacher, and proceeded to wait for the dentist office to open, I began to ruminate on my situation.

My pastor recently taught that life has distractions and interruptions. One way to tell the difference is that a distraction is a way to get us off course, sidetracked from God’s plan. An interruption is a way to keep us on track, following God’s plan.  God’s plan is to grow me to be the best I can be, so my question is: Where does an abscessed tooth fit in?  Is it a distraction or an interruption?

God often uses natural occurrences to teach a lesson or build our character, similar to an earthly father using a normal everyday occurance as a teachable moment, bringing up his child to be strong and successful. When I  find myself in a difficult situation, I have learned to avoid assuming the enemy of my soul had anything to do with it. Sometimes my situation is a direct result of a stupid decision I made. Other times it is a natural part of living on this planet, its elements taking a toll on my body or my possessions. Either way, might I grow from it? I say, “Yes.”

I release myself into Your hands, Lord, and when all is back to normal, I’ll be stronger and wiser. I hope.

…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. (‭Romans‬ ‭5‬:‭3-4‬ NKJV)

P.S.  Penicillin was prescribed, with a dental appointment scheduled.  I will relax and let it do it’s work. ( I hope it hurries, though.)  Yes, I still need patience.

 

I Didn’t Plan for That

As most of you know, teachers plan. Extensively. One type of plan is a curriculum map. We map out the entire year to make sure we cover the skills our students need to be successful. The idea didn’t start with us, nor are we the best at it. It started with Him. God plans.

…I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29‬:‭11‬ MSG)

Sometimes the way is easy. We can see pretty well. We kind of know what to expect from life. We may need to shift our backpack to the other shoulder at some point, but it’s lightweight and easy to carry, so no problem. Like hiking down a shady country road. Pure joy. Great to be alive. Suck in that fresh air!

Country Road

Yes, life is good, until…

A mountain pops up, seemingly out of nowhere.

Oh, we kind of saw it coming, but we ignored the horizon, hoping we were wrong.  We weren’t.

“You need surgery.” or

“It is cancer, I’m sorry.” or

“I don’t love you anymore.” or

“Your position has been cut.” or

“I’ll see you in court.”

Whatever the catch phrase of the mountain, now we have to face it.

Walking here is not so easy. It’s rough, and sometimes we fall down, or tumble backward. Even the most lightweight backpack gets heavy. The light is dim; the air, foggy.  It can be scary.

Kenai mt3

We want to quit, just stop and sit down. Pretend there is no mountain.

But… then we’d be stuck.

No, we have to keep going. We look around for a path.

We pray more, seeking Him, wondering where He is in all of this.

He answers, “I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29‬:‭11‬ MSG)

What a relief!

God doesn’t abandon us just because our scenery changes.

And though He didn’t put the mountain there – it is the natural result of a rumbling, ever-changing world-

He is not surprised by it. He knew it was there. And… He planned for it. Even if we didn’t.

His plan may involve mountain removal.  He could guide through the mountain pass, or maybe even reveal a path around it. Whatever the plan calls for.

He knows exactly what we need to be successful, and if we will follow where He leads,

His plan will give us the future we hope for.

I May Be in the Back Seat, but I’m Still On the Road

Usually when I am in the car, I drive. Unless, of course, my husband is in the car. Then he drives. It’s simple really. The ranking person drives. He taught me that rule.

Recently my eyes were giving me a little trouble so I went to the eye doctor. He said I had an eye infection and for several days I would need to use antibiotic drops. He also said I couldn’t wear my contact lenses. Now that’s a real problem. I don’t have glasses that are my current prescription, so without my contact lenses, I can’t drive. My husband works out-of-state.

My youngest daughter agreed to take me anywhere I wanted to go. She is a good driver and I had no doubts about my safety. She drove me to church that next Sunday and though I was in the front passenger seat, I still felt like I was in a scene from “Driving Miss Daisy.” I didn’t complain. I was glad to be able to go to church. The novelty of it all had not yet worn off.

Fast forward… Days later. Walmart. I’m not sure if I felt like an elderly person or a small child, but certainly not a responsible adult totally in charge of the situation. Walking around holding onto the cart my daughter pushed, if I saw someone I knew, I didn’t really know them because I couldn’t really see them. (Don’t laugh…) I tried to be polite; I failed. Yes, I know it isn’t polite to stare at a person until either your eyes cross or the person gets close enough for you to recognize them.

We checked out and wouldn’t you know it, rain began to fall. It began softly, and quickly turned into a gully-washer. My car was only seven or eight parking spots out, so we took off running. With every stride the rain came down harder.  When we got to my car, I opened the door and jumped in the back seat, telling my daughter to hand me the bags. (I know, I’m awful). Everything was soaked. She emptied the cart and I placed all of the bags around me. I looked like a half-drowned rat sitting in a sea of gray plastic. She took the cart to the cart station and returned to the car. The rain had not let up. Looking like a fully-drowned rat, she began to drive home. (Funny how things get turned around.)

I told her I didn’t have a towel in the car anymore and that I had taken it out because it never rained while the towel was in there. She told me I needed to put it back in. As she turned the radio on to her station, contemporary Christian, I thanked God for her. She had been sweet through it all.

The ride was pleasant. Sitting there in the back seat, I realized that I was not in control of my situation and I was okay with that. Is this how it will feel when I am old and someone else has to take care of me? I suspect that my comfort at that moment dwelt in the fact that though I was not in control, I trusted the one who was. My daughter, yes, but more than that, the One who holds me always in the palm of His hand.

There have been times in my life, had I insisted on being in control and doing the driving, I would have run into things I didn’t know were there. He can see better than I can. Yes, sometimes the back seat is just fine.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭3‬:‭5-6‬ NKJV)