Tag Archives: humility

Summer is a humbling time

Amish farm, corn, wheat, oats

Grains of Summer.

By Bruce Stambaugh

With all of its positive and pleasant attributes, summer makes it hard to be humble.

We all want to get out and take full advantage of the sunny days filled with warmer temperatures and a wide variety of activities. We fling ourselves full force into each day whether it’s for work or for play. We want to drink in every drop of sunshine, warmth, and blue skies, from dawn to dusk.

Hungry Mother SP VA

At the beach.

Toddlers, children, and teens fill the local swimming pools, both public and backyard venues, while adults keep watchful eyes on the less careful youth. Construction workers bask in the fair weather, narrowing four lanes to one with an arsenal of orange barrels.

Lawnmowers hum morning, noon, and evening throughout global neighborhoods. Contractors and excavators work sunup to sundown. Farmers are in their glory, beginning to harvest the fruits of their labor.

In many places, the corn reached far beyond knee-high-by-the-Fourth-of-July standards. In others, stalks stood only inches tall, drowned out by the super wet spring and early summer rains.

Amber waves of grain really did roll in the wind until giant combines gobbled them up or they formed rows of shocks like so many soldiers standing guard in Amish-owned fields.

Summer, however, has other, more drastic ways to get our attention with her weapons. Summer can humble us lowly humans in many ways. Think floods, wildfires, tornadoes, droughts, golf ball-sized hail, record heat and humidity.

No matter our stature or station in life, we all succumb to those prevailing conditions. Summer humbles us.

humble singFor those unfamiliar with E.B. White’s beloved children’s classic “Charlotte’s Web,” humility played a major role in the book’s plot and dialogue. The spider Charlotte wove “Humble” into the web that served to save the life of the precocious pig Wilbur. She wanted a word that meant “not proud” as Wilbur’s crowning characteristic.

But humility has a second meaning beyond the social one. Humble implies a willingness to learn, and thankfully summer has much to teach us. The lessons are all around us in a more pleasing, useful, and beautiful form than what disasters wrought.

Vegetable gardens and truck patches team with all sorts of goodies that nurture us. Tasty homegrown sweet corn, luscious red tomatoes, green, red, and yellow peppers, and tangles of zucchini are just a few examples.

Roadside produce stands and supermarkets tempt us with juicy peaches and vine-ripened melons. Generations ago indigenous Americans taught us to plant, tend, and harvest these marvels.

For those non-gardeners among us, we sniff and thump and feel and taste to select the best of the bunch like our parents and grandparents did. The poor fruits and veggies pay the ultimate price.

Please click on the photos to enlarge them.

Flower gardens are peaking with hollyhocks and zinnias and cultivated flowers, too. Leafy hardwoods provide shade and refreshing coolness from the oppressive summer heat for humans and critters alike.

Wildflowers and wildlife, too, show their stuff. Dainty spotted fawns venture out on their own while mom watches from more secluded spaces. Parent bluebirds and house wrens ferry insects, worms, and berries to their youngsters nearly as big as the adult birds.

Families crowd beaches and climb mountains on vacations, exploring new venues or returning to old haunts discovered by previous generations.

Where is humility in all of this? Using the educational definition, it’s merely a reminder of the responsibility of the created to care for the creation. That is about as humbled as we can get.

pasture field, cumulous clouds

Summer landscape.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2018

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Living core values is just good business

rural view, farmstead, Holmes Co. OH

A rural view.

By Bruce Stambaugh

My late friend, Perry Reese, Jr., knew a good thing when he saw it. Perry could read people like a newspaper. Best known as Coach, Perry scrutinized his surroundings similarly.

That fact was one of the main reasons the talented and demanding teacher and coach loved living here. It was not easy for a single, black, Catholic man to reside and work amid the world’s largest Amish and Mennonite population. But he did for several successful years until his untimely death in 2000.

Coach Reese

Perry Reese, Jr.

Perry thrived here as a winning coach and as an asset to the entire area. Why? He embraced the same core values as those revered by local folks. Work ethic, faith, community, and family together formed his life foundation.

Paramount to making Perry’s basketball team, players had to demonstrate a strong work ethic. The same characteristic holds for area businesses, too. Honing that esteemed value keeps the local economy healthy and stable, better than state and national averages.

Perry was a very private person, including practicing his faith. But there was no question as to where Perry stood, and he impressed that on his players.

St. Genevieve parish, Holmes Co. OH

St. Genevieve Cemetery and Parish.

It’s fair to say that local businesses attempt to model that approach with their products, services, employees and customers. The goal: actions match beliefs.

Perry loved the community, and for the most part, the community charitably returned the affection. He knew the importance of positive interactions and interpersonal relationships.

It takes determined effort to work together for the common good in a close-knit community. Though not perfect, this area shines in this regard.

Individuals, groups, clubs, churches and foundations regularly join forces with businesses to assist in time of need. Share-A-Christmas and the new county fairgrounds are two examples that come to mind. Add in the multitude of benefit auctions for individuals and service organizations, the commitment to community speaks for itself.

Despite his singleness, Perry placed enormous significance on the importance of family. In fact, he considered his players his family, and many considered him a father figure.

The fact that so many local businesses are family-owned and operated mirrors that concept. Family is everything here. Any and every good excuse is used to gather the family together any time of year.

Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, even solemn holy days like Old Christmas and Ascension Day, families assemble to share and commune. That’s not to say some good old-fashioned ribbing and recreation won’t also ensue.

family, friends, gathering

Gathering of family and friends.

In that same vein, businesses also reward their employees with family days like picnics, destination trips for the entire family, and financial bonuses. After all, a son or daughter might just be part of the next generation of employees.

All that said, it doesn’t mean that businesses and owners set themselves on a higher plane than elsewhere. Nor does it mean mistakes don’t happen. They do. But incorporating these four essential core values creates productive consistency in both corporate and individual lives.

Another admirable quality, humility, ties these four values together for individuals and businesses alike. Perry Reese, Jr. successfully used that important attribute to bind his teams together as one, just as businesses strive to keep their faithful employees.

These four fundamental principles have been time-honored traditions in Holmes Co., Ohio. In truth, they are revered universal values that transcend any and all geographical, social, political, gender, religious or cultural boundaries.

Friend to many, Perry Reese, Jr. was a gem of a guy, who humbly modeled the community’s core values. To do so was simply smart business.

Amish church gathering, Amish buggies

Church gathering.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

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In words and deeds, a President humbly true to his faith

Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter

With Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

By Bruce Stambaugh

Humility, service, love, family and faith are vital pillars of any stable community. My wife and I enthusiastically witnessed these highest of human qualities at a little Baptist church in Plains, Georgia.

We knew we wouldn’t be the only ones who would want to hear Jimmy Carter teach Sunday school. When the former president is scheduled to teach, the tiny congregation of 30 swells to 10 times that amount, sometimes more.

The good folks at Maranatha Baptist Church know what to do. They are ready for the ensuing onslaught. So are the authorities.

When we arrived at 8:30 a.m. at the modest church that damp, gray Sunday morning, a police dog checked every vehicle entering the property for bombs. Though we were plenty early, a line of people already stretched from the front door, down the cement sidewalk to the parking lot.

By now, former President Carter has developed quite the reputation as a teacher, humanitarian, and world-renowned peacemaker. At age 90, he and his equally gracious wife, Rosalynn, are still putting their faith into action.

Noble Peace Prize, Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter’s Nobel Peace Prize medal. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

My wife and I joined the queue to enter the red brick building. A stern looking woman popped onto the church’s front porch to announce the procedures for entering. She spoke loudly and resolutely so everyone could plainly hear the specific instructions to make everything go as smoothly as possible.

Secret Service agents greeted us inside the door. We emptied our pockets onto a table and removed our coats. Another officer checked everyone with a wand for any suspicious objects.

We sat in a pew about two-thirds of the way back from the pulpit. Promptly at 9 a.m., the same drill sergeant like lady walked to the front of the church and introduced herself as “Miss Jan.”

Miss Jan spent the next 45 minutes kindly but firmly going over all the rules of conduct. Included were not standing or clapping for the president and no photography during the class or worship. We could take pictures during Jimmy’s brief introduction.

Miss Jan continued, “If you want your picture taken with the President and First Lady you must stay for both the Sunday school and the worship.”

After a brief break, Miss Jan, who had taught the Carter’s daughter, Amy, in elementary school, had us all bow our heads for a prayer. When she said, “Amen,” Jimmy Carter surprised the congregation when he rose and began addressing the crowd. He and his Secret Service guards had quietly sneaked in during the prayer. We hung on his every word.

Miss Jan kept watch over the assembled. She occasionally hugged or bent down to shake the hand of a Secret Service agent, as if she were welcoming them back to a family gathering. The affection they shared was for more than themselves. Their common assignment of protecting the president they loved and admired expressed their uniform devotion.

Jimmy Carter, Sunday school

Jimmy Carter was making a point during the introduction section of the class. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

The topic was loving God and your neighbor. Jimmy humbly shared how organizations he supports, like the Lions Club, Habitat for Humanity, and The Carter Center in Atlanta, help him put this charitable concept into global deeds for peace and human rights.

Jimmy used the word “humble” several times, pronouncing it the old-fashioned way, without the beginning “H” sound. It modeled his southern, gentlemanly hospitable manner.

After the service, Miss Jan resumed command, dismissing us by rows to have our pictures taken with Jimmy and Rosalynn. When she came to our row, I told her she must have been an excellent teacher. Miss Jan winked, smiled, and quietly thanked me.

Miss Jan had instructed us not to either shake hands with the Carters or to talk to them so that everyone could get through the process as quickly and efficiently as possible. When the lady taking the photo with my camera clicked the shutter, Rosalynn whispered to Neva that the flash hadn’t gone off.

That was so thoughtful of her. The picture was fine, just like Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, and Miss Jan, too.

The communion cup of love, faith, family, humility, and service generously overflowed in Plains, Georgia. We were grateful to have been partaken.

Jimmy Carter quote, Bruce Stambaugh

A quote from Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. © Bruce Stambaugh 2015

© Bruce Stambaugh 2015

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Better late than not at all: Humbly accepting the Versatile Blogger Award

By Bruce Stambaugh

Last March, I was honored to receive an award I really didn’t know what to do with. I had only been blogging for three months, and I wasn’t sure if this was legitimate or the blogger’s version of a chain letter.

Versatile Blogger AwardAaron Graham was nice enough to bestow the Versatile Blogger Award on me after he read my Questions post. And for my more cynical readers, I have never met nor do I know Aaron. He adequately described the award and why I received it, along with a few others. In accepting this coveted award, all I had to do was write a post thanking Aaron. I also had to proclaim seven little known facts about myself, which would have been a piece of cake since I am so little known to start with. And I had to hand out the same award to up to 15 other bloggers. In my naiveté, I wasn’t sure I knew 15 other bloggers. Sure, I had more people than that visit my blog, and several posted comments. I could have easily gone back through those comments, clicked on their blog and christened the 15 I felt most deserving as fellow Versatile Bloggers. But I didn’t.

You see one of my many faults, and my kind wife will attest that it is only one, is that I procrastinate. I wrote about that, too, once. But that was long before I starting blogging. Still, the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and here we are in 2012 and I still haven’t passed on the award the way I should have. Until now.

What spurred me on? One of my blogging friends, Mikalee Byerman, was awarded the Versatile Blogger award after her hysterical Jesus is my Trash man post. When I saw that, I knew the award was valuable and for real. In fact, Mikalee was on my short list of bloggers to nominate.

So thanks to Aaron, who by now has probably forgotten me, and to the nice lady from Bellingham, Washington who crowned Mikalee, I am finally accepting this award, revealing seven startling insignificant facts about my life and naming 15 very deserving bloggers for the same award.

And the nominations are:

Bob Zeller for his persistent and informative posts about his two great loves, besides his wife, photography and birds. His shots are amazing.

Patricia Koelle, who shares some exquisite shots from her home in Germany.

Scott sees the extraordinary in the ordinary, and has the wherewithal to share it. http://littlecrumcreek.wordpress.com/.

Subhakar Das, who knows both books and photographs with equal expertise at http://ficfaq.wordpress.com/.

Heather who shares a love of animals and words, not only with me, but also with her long list of devoted readers. http://becomingcliche.wordpress.com/.

Lucy Gardener loves food, photographs and life. She incorporates all three very nicely on her blog. http://lhgardener1988.wordpress.com/

I think you’ll find Carrie Craig a most appreciative person.

Judy at Northern Narratives beautifully chronicles the days through her lens.

Though focusing on poetry, the subjects and style of Kvenna Rad’s poems are indeed versatile and deserving of this award. http://kvennarad.wordpress.com/

A military spouse from Texas has an important and timely message to follow on http://sottmp.com/.

Grace encourages people to decorate their life at http://www.herumbrella.com/.

Tinkerbelle loves laughter, and shares her youthful sense of humor from her London base. http://laughteriscatching.com/.

Fiona takes an upbeat look at life from China. http://fionaqiqi.wordpress.com/.

Anyone that takes a picture a day, plus loves words and dogs gets my vote. http://livingtheseasons.com/.

And last but not least, any 16-year old who titles his blog, Learning to be Wrong, has to be right. Way to go, Justin. http://learningtobewrong.wordpress.com/.

As for my seven personal revelations, they’re not nearly as revealing or as exciting as the bloggers I’ve listed. But to fulfill the award’s requirement, here there are:

1. I can’t swim.
2. I’m afraid of the water.
3. I almost drowned when I was two.
4. I only take showers (See a pattern developing?)
5. I have never water-skied.
6. I used to have long, blond, curly hair until the seventh grade.
7. I attended the Cleveland Browns’ last World Championship (now hyper-marketed as the Super Bowl) victory, a 27-0 trouncing of the highly favored Baltimore Colts in 1964. Of course since then the Colts moved to Indianapolis, and the Browns moved to Baltimore, thanks to Art Model. The good folks of Cleveland sued to get their name back and won. Unfortunately, the Ravens, really the exiled Browns, went on to win a Super Bowl so Model could be buried in his camel’s hair overcoat and a championship ring on his finger. Or was he already? I can’t remember. I haven’t followed pro football since Model moved the team. I’d rather go swimming.

Well, folks, that’s the best I can do. My procrastination has finally been overcome by guilt, and the Versatile Blogger Awards have been duly handed out. Bring on the Oscars.

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