Proud to be From Iowa!

I read the following Facebook post and would love to pass it on, as it qualifies as an “Present-inthemoment ” story. What a great challenge by Iowa farmer Jeff Ditzenberger, to be willing to pause and take a few moments to elevate someone else’s life! I applaud you sir!!

Here is his story in its entirety:

Today is a day I’ll not soon forget..

As I was combining today, I was unloading into the auger cart and I saw a vehicle go by a couple times slowly and then pull over and stop. I had a minor repair to make and the vehicle stayed… I was a little concerned until I happened to catch 3 little sets of eyes looking out windows.

I went over and they rolled down the window and I asked if they needed anything and the lady explained their grandchildren were visiting from Florida and had never seen “farmer stuff” up close. There were 2 boys and a little girl.. I’d assume they were between the ages of 6 and 9. The two boys were all giddy but the little girl, while sweet and excited was pretty quiet.

I also happen to notice that she kept turning away from me and there was a scar or a birthmark or something on her face… And I felt really bad trying to figure out what it was because I was feeling like I’m staring at her..

The grandmother and her husband thanked me for stopping and saying hi and said they would get going because they knew farmers were busy this time of the year… And I said be careful and have a good trip…

It was then that one of the boys said are you going to be going soon cuz we would like to see what that machine does… the grandmother quickly quieted them and I said would it be okay if I took them for a ride…

She then said No we’re sure your way too busy for that and I said no I’m by myself for now I’ve got time so she asked the two boys if they wanted to go and of course they did but the little girl stayed back.

I asked her again if she wanted to go and she said no thank you and so the boys and I went and got in the combine and we made one round and came back… While in the combine I said why didn’t your sister want to come… they said shes shy. I then, because of curiosity, asked them about her face… And they told me it was a birthmark and that she gets picked on about it a lot.

After their ride I walked them back over to their grandparents car and I said to the little girl How come you didn’t want to go for a ride? And she said well the boys always say that that kind of stuff is just for boys not for girls…

I laughed and said You know, there are girl farmers AND I even had a young girl in that cab just yesterday. Would you like a ride? She looked at her Grandma and she said go ahead if you want.

I then asked the grandmother if she had a smartphone and knew how to video… She laughed and said I have grandchildren of course I know how to video… So I told her have your phone ready and when you see me turn on the yellow flashing lights video the combine.

The little girl and I got in the cab and I turned the machine around and went back into the field at the end of it and came back facing her grandparents vehicle. I then said to her…here.. you can turn the steering wheel… she first looked at me like I was on crack cocaine… But I finally convinced her and I told her not everybody gets to do this but people that are part of the special face Club definitely get to…but its a secret reason why you get to drive so you cant tell anyone. We even pinky swore on it…

The smile she had made this old tired grumpy mans heart soft and there must have been some Bean dust in the cab because my allergies started acting up just a little bit… So I let her “steer” and turned on the yellow lights on the way back so her Grandma could video tape her “driving by”.

We got out of the combine and she still had a huge smile on her face and ran over to her grandma and was a little Chatterbox did you see me did you see me I got to drive I got to drive… Her brothers were obviously a little miffed… And ask her why she got to drive… I was afraid she was going to tell them why… But with all the sass of a little brunette girl with her hair in a pony she looked at them both matter-of-factly and said Because girls CAN farm.

My allergies started acting up a little bit again as she came back running over to me and gave me a huge hug and told me thank you… The grandfather came over and patted me on the shoulder shook my hand said I don’t know what you said to her…but that’s the biggest smile we’ve seen on her this vacation so far… the boys shook my hand and thanked me and got back into the vehicle and drove away… Leaving me to my thoughts

And all I could think of was if one of the combines hadnt broke down yesterday, I wouldn’t have been in that field this morning, and I wouldnt have been by myself and we would have been really pushed wherever we were at to keep up with everything…and it proved to me once again everything happens for a reason…

All three of their faces were on my mind the rest of the day but mostly hers… not because of her birthmark, because of her genuine smile in the confidence that she showed when she got to get out of that combine and “brag” a little to the boys.

My gramps told me long ago to always be patient with children and people you come in contact with. I remember the countless times that he would let me “drive” the tractor… and the exhilaration and happiness that I felt during that time… And I swore that I was going to make other people feel that way when I got older… and I’ve definitely failed at that numerous times.. but I’m trying..

But, Im kind of thinking maybe that’s what I did today or maybe that little girl made me feel like that little boy with his Gramps all those years ago.

30 minutes out of 24 hours… I need to do that more often….

Today was a good day… and one I shall not soon forget.

Bolts in Your Leg-The Unintended Symptom of Life!

I remember the day I received the call from my daughter Sarah. “Dad…I bought a motorcycle!”

Like every good parent I responded with a lie. “That’s awesome Sarah!” All the while imagining the worst regarding my firstborn, my long anticipated and longed for baby girl. Oh, the concerns are the same whether your baby girl is 10 years old or, well, let’s just say one that has over-extended the age of 30 by some.

To be fair, it wasn’t a total fabrication of excitement for her purchase. Having rode a few motorcycles in my day, I understood the rush of riding, holding on to all that instant power-raw and exposed as you are. I saw pictures of her motorcycle and had a sudden pulse of “bike envy.”

In fact, the longer I let it sink in regarding Sarah and a motorcycle…the more accepting the risk seemed to be. She has looked for a defining niche. That life style that one can sink their teeth into and embrace with every nuance presented. The camaraderie of a club, a movement, the rides with like-minded risk-takers. I was suddenly thrilled for Sarah. I was proud of her for not accepting status quo as a concession prize of mere existence! “That’s right, Sarah Hall…do not settle for the mundane safety of daily life!”

I remember the day I received the call from my daughter Sarah. “Dad, I’m in the hospital. I’ve had a motorcycle accident.” She adds quickly, “Its not life threatening!”

As I’ve sat in her hospital room, I have turned that phrase over in my mind in nearly every meaning context possible. “It’s not life threatening.”

And certainly physically speaking, she will most likely live from the affectual intentions of a shattered tibia bone.

But several things speak to me as I watch a loving and worrisome mother stand guard over her daughter in her season of weakness. Parents do not have the luxury of accepting easily risk-taking decisions by our children. It is not in our parental DNA to do so with any measure of calm. The fear and pain-assimilation exhibited by my daughter’s mom is nothing short of reality in expression. Her heart is now visibly beating outside her chest for all to see…and feel. Dads may indeed mask it with jokes and stupid sentences, but inwardly the breath has left our body.

Life-threatening does not only relate to the potential outcome of life-ending.

Our lives, in these situations, will most likely hold the threat of financial setback. This can be immediate and often include collateral damage. A mother who takes a leave of absence from a much needed income. No insurance covers that. No army could stop her. Parents, step parents, siblings, and friends stepping out and reaching up for resources to assist and prove their care and concern.

Life-threatening in regard to your future plans. This lifestyle may be altered. “Do I continue to ride?” The answer might seem like a no-brainer to Sarah’s mom and dad….but, remember: biking is her passion. It defined her to others, and more importantly: to herself! That may be the real cost of the term “life-threatening!”

I would be surprised, as Sarah is bemoaning her pain and discomfort of having four bolts and a playground jungle-gym attached into her leg, a blood clot, and lungs filled with fluid; if many of these paralyzing thoughts are not also taking her breath away. Sometimes the greatest life threat can be imagining how life may be forever altered. It is the stepping from one season to the next…one unseen and untested…wondering if when the leg heals, will I still have my footing?

Some of us are blessed with very clear “watershed” moments presented to us in undeniable fashion. A chance to prove and test our mettle…to be an example of fortitude and embracing of change without reservation.

If I were to speak to my daughter, my firstborn, the girl who first taught me to be a father…I would say with clarity:

“Sarah…this is a life-threatening injury! It threatens to change everything about you to this point. It is a single moment of hours of reflection. It will be a snap shot of who you have been and who you will become, as you reflect back in a future day.

You have proven your bravery in taking risks that threaten life’s status quo. You have moved to new lands and acquired life standing friends. You have faced down financial ruin more than once and found a way to say, ” not today!” You chose a lifestyle of risk with power and possibilities…it offered confidence and fiber of truth.

Sarah, you only need to trust yourself to make decisions that embolden who you are and who you will be. Yes, you will walk with crutches…but do not need them in your life to be happy, capable, and truly inventive.

This is your watershed moment. Realize it’s unintended pain as an intentional valued friend. A friend who doesn’t speak what you want to hear, but challenges you to step into a new light…one you have not yet conceived as possible.

Sarah…these bolts in your leg are not life-threatening! They are life-altering and symptoms of what it takes to stretch beyond the ordinary. And know this, my daughter, those who love you no matter what you do, will be standing by to cheer you on to greater levels of living! My only fear for you today is that you will allow fear to overtake you. God has written, ” you have not been given a spirit of fear, but of of strength, power, and a sound mind.” Be bold to take the reigns of the rest of your life. Be in this moment for all your worth!”

I Love You,


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