We all have a list of folks that have influenced our lives, made a difference in how we face each day, you could call it your very own Hall of Fame. For me, they would name the thing after Linda, she is my rock, she keeps me on course, she believes in me and i know she loves me in spite of me, unconditionally. Obviously my parents were huge in my life, they did such an incredible job given the environment they were raised in. I am blessed by them.
Beyond that my Hall of Fame would look like this, my friend and pastor Pete Briscoe, a former pastor Wayne Braudrick, my old headmaster Mike Beidel, a father of a friend of mine named Don Hodges, two old bosses Tom Gilbert and John Saville, old friends I rarely see any more like Joe Wickline, Chris Millet, Bo Harris and Rick Davis, long time friends Doug Walker, Buddy Gregory, Paul Carter and Craig Hodges and a couple of women, my high school English teacher Pam Pack and my mother-in-law, Daisy Francis.
Each of those folks saw something in me and expressed a belief in me and they gave me confidence. For me, those words of encouragement meant more to me than you can imagine. I can remember the positive things they said to me about me like they happened yesterday. It was a statement or an action, sometimes short and sometimes long term that expressed a belief or faith in me that I needed at that time.
There is one guy on that list of mine I haven't mentioned yet, his name is Ken Good and he has done more things for more people than anyone I know, including me. From encouraging words about me and my business to incredible acts of kindness and sympathy when I needed it most. What's crazy about that is Ken is my landlord, he rents that really cool office to me. He is also a client. Not the normal relationship that generates that kind of regard, it's rare your landlord does the kind of things that impacts you and your family the way Ken has. There is a list a mile long of other folks that hold Ken in that same regard.
The reason this week has been tough is that today I attended the funeral of Ken's wife, Traci Good. She passed last week in a sledding accident at their cabin in Colorado. My wife told me last week and it was like a punch in the gut. They have three kids and they all were riding on the sled with their mom when they got off and she didn't. They have twin girls in elementary school. My heart ached for Ken, he lost his wife, he was on his own. Why him? Why take something so dear from a guy that gives so much?
I was bitter and angry all week, I felt like I did when I went through a really tough spot in my life. My daughter was diagnosed with diabetes, the house was flooding, my dog got ran over all while my business "partner" showed up at work each day with a goal of stealing the business I purchased from him and driving the new practice out of business. During that ordeal and the lawsuit that followed I stated over and over again, God is not going to deliver us this case against him and then drop us at the curb, He will see us through. However, the events that unfolded felt a lot like the curb, we were supposed to win. I shook my fist at God and asked why? I remember asking Pete "why did the dog have to die?" I know it sounds petty but it was just another thing that was getting dumped on me and my family, we couldn't even have a dog.
The death of Traci felt a lot like that because during my toughest time, Ken extended his hand to us and said "I was thinking about you last night and I've got an idea let me show you what I think we can do" and he pulled out a piece of paper with some office space he had drawn up for me. He laid out a plan and said let's get you back on your feet again, I will refer you more business than you can handle. You will be fine.
So why does that guy lose his wife? Why do his kids lose their mother? I just could not get my head around it and I was miserable. I didn't know what to say or what to do. I was anything but a good friend.
Words of Wisdom
I know of a man that said "that rug really tied the room together" and until today, I really didn't understand how much wisdom was in those words. The pastor that spoke during Traci's celebration of life had all the little kids come up front and sit down so he could talk about what happened and he addressed that why did this happen thing. Go figure, I related to the portion of the service that was intended for 2nd and 3rd graders. He asked if they had ever seen a fancy Persian rug. They were beautiful, organized, they had a plan, it made sense but if you turned it over and looked at the other side it looked chaotic with knots and long strings criss crossing randomly all over the back. It looks nothing like what is on the other side or what the rug maker wanted everyone to see.
After the graveside memorial, I returned to the church, changed clothes and went for a ride. It's kind of my quiet time and I meditated on that rug thing and thought back on that same time in my life, where Ken extended his hand to me and what a mess the back side of my Persian rug was. How I thought nothing good could have come from that. However, when my family looks back on it, that time was the central part of our life experience that formed who we were.
My kids are both gifted artists, my daughter is a visual artist and my son is a performing artist. Their best work is always based on what they are most passionate about and it always contains a hook, an element that draws you in to experience what they are passionate about and let you make a decision. That really chaotic part of our life was the central element of my family's Persian rug, once you get a chance to see the other side. It helped form my kids into who they are. It felt a lot like I was free falling and spiraling down after that but in hindsight, it took that to get my attention, for me to pay attention to those signs. It brought leadership characteristics my wife had no idea she had, she was our lion through that and anyone that knows us, knows that. She's a Francis and Francis women know how to circle the wagons and protect their own.
The backside of that really central colorful element of any rug has the most chaos as different colors run this way and that. From that side, you could never see what the rug maker had in mind or how it would turn into that element that demonstrated through our lives that thing that He is most passionate about ... us. We probably screwed some of it up but we are learning. As we look back on that time now, we see some of what the other side looks like and I still don't get all of it, but some day I might. I do think this, how we react to that chaotic time has everything to do with what it looks like. There was a time where I kicked and fought and shook my fist at God and the chaos continued to look like chaos, it wasn't until I gave in that I could see that He never dropped me at the curb, it wasn't where I wanted to be but it was anything but the curb and it is a beautiful part of our rug that I never ever ever want to experience again.
So I would like to dedicate this post to my friend Ken, who is going through the absolute worst kind of a back side of a rug. In spite of my own back side of the rug experience, I cannot fathom his pain or how much he hurts. Mine eventually went away but Ken lost something that cannot be found. His precious girls lost their mommy and as much as I love Katie, I would be a horrible mommy. When things happen with my son, he calls mom first. Ken's son Jacob won't have that option. I look at this tangled mess and think what good can come of it? I am glad it's not up to me to decide because this is a train I want no part of. I have to find the faith in Him to know He will see them through this and that there will be an other side to this rug that will allow God to demonstrate his passion for us and how that rug really will tie their room together. I have no idea how but thankfully that isn't my job.