Three slices of courage I want to write about today:

My oldest daughter is one of the most courageous people I know. In her 8th grade year, she went to Iowa State for a conference that dealt with women in STEM, and from that moment forward knew exactly what she wanted to do. Her goal: Iowa State and a degree in software engineering. Nothing we could do (not that we did much) could dissuade her from that goal. The grade point, the ACT score, the positive references all pointed in that direction. Then, as she got into her first math class, she knew, I need a tutor. No fussing, no failing a test, nothing like that. She got the help she needed, when she needed it. As a freshman, she earned a co-op spot with Rockwell Collins, a pretty awesome gig in itself! There were those who said she didn’t deserve it. She shrugged her shoulders and kept going. Courage doesn’t always mean you are leading the pack. Sometimes it means that you are leading by example.

My youngest daughter showed me what courage looked like in the ring during this year’s State Fair. Her heifers were ALL acting up, whether is was the cooler weather, the hormones of the other animals, we don’t know. We just know that they were a handful! During the various things that go on, there’s a show for “showmanship”. A typical show is about the animal. Showmanship is about the person showing the animal. Is your animal clean? Is the halter on correctly? Is she clipped properly? There are many things that you can be pulled out and told “you are done” during this show, so it’s pretty high stress. She wasn’t happy about a bunch of things, so she wasn’t happy about doing this show either! 🙂 However, I got her talked into doing it because (and I’m biased) she’s pretty good. But when she went down to the ring, they had to wait 45 minutes to get in, and much of that was in the sun. Not cool. So as they walked in, somehow, she’s in the front of the line (she’s pushy and loves to be first). Party Trick (PT – the heifer) wasn’t jumpy, she was just a little naughty. She was sidewise, her head was up, it was down, she was just all over the place. My daughter tends to wear her emotions on her sleeve, but she was as calm as I’ve seen her. Past heifers have just glided in the ring, not this one. It was a grind to set her up to show off the fact that yes, she’s a nice looking heifer. Faith worked and worked at it, not loosing her patience, not looking frustrated or angry, just quietly talking to her animal. In the end, she finished 9th overall, 5th for the FFA kids. As she walked out, I told her that there are very few times I’ve been as proud of her as I was right then. It was a grind, but she held it together in a way she’s not been able to before. Courage sometimes means that you’ve grown up, just a little bit!

My wife just concluded a trip of a lifetime to Italy. For her, taking that first step was a giant leap of faith, a demonstration of courage in herself. As the trip came closer, her courage wavered because her passport wasn’t in her hand. But things worked out, and away she went. She traveled by herself half way around the world. We talked every night, and I got to see courage in action. Stepping outside of her comfort zone, eating new foods, teaching new things, see Italy in its gorgeous splendor. Then, it was done and I got to see courage in action again. She was caught up in the customs fiasco last week, and ended up spending the night in the airport. She raised her voice once, but other than that, she didn’t lose her cool, didn’t pitch a fit, just found a flight, found a comfy spot, and dozed. Courage means you search for the best plan, regardless of what others may tell you.

Somehow, this amazing woman picked me to be her husband, and showed me her greatness by bringing my beautiful daughters into the world. All three prove to be that courage isn’t about standing up and shouting (all though sometimes you need to do this), courage is the quiet focus that sometimes you need. Each has their own greatness, and carry this sense of courage with them whenever and where ever they go!

I married up, and my daughters are a reminder of that each and every day!