Taking the time to say thanks.
I thought I would say some thanks, while I could.
The crazier this world gets, the more thankful I am for the following:
My dad, for telling us kids, when we complained that we were bored, that we had to learn how to entertain ourselves. Also, for teaching me how to change a tire, check oil, jump a car battery, drive a stick shift, and parallel park. Let's not forget about basic gun knowledge, and his love of reading which he modeled as reading a book being a normal thing to do at any age. And, frankly, his sense of humor.
My mom, for teaching me basic home skills, including sewing, baking, cooking, cake decorating, money management, skill with the table saw, modeling a willingness to volunteer, and more. And for not killing us when we did stupid things that ended up wrecking things around the farm. And for passing on a love for drawing (which both of my parents and grandmas were skilled at, with my dad drawing funny cartoon doodles) introducing me to basic techniques and making sure I took art classes in the summer since my school didn't have an art department.
My parents, for insisting we go to church every time the doors were open, multiple times a week, and that we go to summer Bible camps and special evangelistic services and youth conventions. Also, for taking the television out of the home when I was little and not bringing it back until later high school, and giving us chores to do while filling the house with books and craft projects. And don't forget, for making us go outside and mow the lawn and feed the animals, and just get out of the house. And even more important, for reading their Bible in front of us, and making us eat meals together and pray together, and for making Easter and Christmas celebrations always include Jesus. Heck, even for making us wear hand-me-downs and learning to make do in the bad-farming era of the 1980's. It was good to not be able to have everything we wanted.
My siblings, who had a part in teaching me to ride bike, have fun and go on crazy adventures out on the farm, ride and care for horses and other animals, and joke around. It's given us a lot of "remember when" conversations when we get together now, tapping into the bizarre family sense of humor and always having a good laugh. Also, my brother who bought our family a Gateway 2000 computer in 1991, allowing me to learn about computers early on, swapping out and adding components to the motherboard and figuring stuff out on my own.
For my small school and the excellent education I received there, and the incredible opportunities I had. The kids were often jerks at times, but the education and staff were excellent.
My shop teacher, for teaching me how to change the oil in a car, basic carpentry, how to develop film and photographs in a dark room, hunters safety, and the basics of a four-stroke engine.
My band/chorus teacher, for teaching me all about music theory, key signatures, and music performance, as well as creating a love for classical music in me. Also, for believing in me and encouraging me and allowing me to perform in competitions early on and learn stage presence and how to handle both winning and losing.
My math teacher for explaining math so well that I was able to tutor a high school geometry student three years after leaving college. Also, for teaching me some great tricks on figuring percentages quickly, and making me love geometry by seeing it as mysteries (theorems) to solve.
My social studies teacher, for teaching me about U.S. and world history before it went woke, as well as about how the American government functions. Also, for teaching me how to write lecture notes in my notebook in an orderly fashion before I went to college and had to do so.
My English teacher, for introducing me to classic literature and getting us to memorize poetry and learn how to give extemporaneous speeches and practice Roberts Rules of Order.
My phy-ed teacher, for introducing me to archery, ballroom dancing, and all kinds of physical activities I wouldn't have known about. Plus, for teaching us basic calisthenics that I still do at home each day.
My accounting and business teacher, who taught me basic accounting principles that I use in my own business to this day. Part of that thanks goes to my mom, who made sure each kid had their own checking account that we were required to balance when our bank statements came, as well as my Senior Seminar instructor in college who taught us how to run our art career like a business.
My cheerleading advisor, who gave a group of non-athletes a chance to do some cool things that inspired school spirit, including being creative with posters and events. We learned to be confident even in front of a hostile crowd.
My school bus driver, who was always nice to a shy kid who was picked on and would always smile when I got on the bus.
My gymnastics instructor who taught a young version of my sister and I the basics and made it so I can still do a cartwheel today.
My college art history professor, who introduced me to the amazing world of art history though which I learned world history in general in a much more thorough way.
My college drawing, design, and painting professors, who were tough but skilled and insisted I learn about the mediums, and the rules and classic techniques before veering off anywhere else. Also, for helping me learn the difference between criticism and critique, and how to take both directed at you and your work in front of the class.
My piano teachers, who didn't give up on me and were so good at teaching me how to play piano. Included is one of my sisters, who was more advanced and inspired me to secretly learn the songs she could play because she was so good. And of course, my mom, for insisting all of us kids had, at least, a few years of piano lessons.
My violin teacher, who wasn't afraid to take on a 26-year-old student who wanted to give a new instrument a go, and who created a little strings group that meant we got to perform at weddings and events.
My Sunday school teachers, who took the time every week to put a lot of work into our lessons, including with projects and handcrafts, so that I learned my Bible and memorized verses. The same can be said for my those who led VBS and Missionettes. The Bible verses I memorized then I still know today. Also, my childhood pastors who modeled godly leadership and had us sing the hymns and choruses that contained actual theology and scripture in their lyrics so we memorized these things "unaware."
My 4-H leaders (which happened to often be my mom, but others also) who taught me about livestock, agriculture, seed germination and crops, animal showmanship, sewing, gardening, baking, public speaking, public demonstrations, and consumer choice competitions. I learned to do my best, to compete, to speak to adult judges about my work with confidence from an early age, to win and lose, and to earn money from the competitions.
I don't know what kids experience now.
Is it all sports? Controlled play dates? Behind a screen? Subscription boxes in the mail with stuff they do at home? Whatever woke trend parents are told their kids should care about? All STEM? Fixation on activism and identity? How to be an Instagram influencer? A YouTube star?
I suppose it's whatever the adults are modeling and allowing.
I know that a certain group of people look at this list of thanks and laugh or see it as the problem with those of us in fly-over country. Deplorables. Covidiots. No-maskers. Domestic terrorists. Christian nationalists. And, just yesterday according to Mr. Joe Biden of the current Biden regime, Neanderthals. Any old name calling will do as long as it makes the other side out to be stupid and unthinking. When these people say these things directed at a general group that I am lumped into, they completely dismiss and try to diminish everything everyone listed here has done in my life. The celebrities, the politicians, the media—they can't say enough, over and over, how stupid a person like me must be for holding to what I currently believe.
I don't care what they say.
I wouldn't trade my life for anything.
You guys, I'm pretty much the richest person on the planet in terms of lives and effort that have been poured into me. I hope I am doing the same for others.