Thursday, November 13, 2014

in the backseat {veterans day 2014}

even after a grim cancer diagnosis his buddies were still asking him, "roger, why are you always so happy?"

that's what our guest speaker told us on veterans day this past tuesday. his friends -- even his doctor -- over the years have wanted to know his secret ... wanted to know why he always seems to be so darn happy.

roger wise went on to tell the audience what he tells anyone who asks, "it's because i'm in the back seat. God's driving my car and i'm happy to hang out in the backseat. i'm just along for the ride. that's it. that's all of it."

roger explained that since he wasn't in charge, he didn't have to worry. "if God wants me standing in 6 months, i'll be standing ... looking up. and if God wants me laying down in 6 months, i'll be laying down ... looking up."

i sat in the director's chair with my headset and my tech notes and i began to listen closer to the words of our guest speaker. and though i was the gal who had to be sharp and ready and on top of the next cue, i couldn't stop the tears from running down my cheeks.

what a message to hear on this veterans day. with an auditorium packed full of almost 2500 people -- school children. senior citizens. busy moms and dads. soldiers. heroes. the disabled, the discouraged, the disease ridden. what a message. what a gift.

and me, the chief sinner.
me, the chronic controller.
me, the one who had just spent her last 24 hours stressing over the details of this program and trying to fit all the moving parts into a perfect order and pace.
me, who had left the dress rehearsal the day before, climbed into my car, and wondered how in the world everything would combine in time for a program which hinged on military precision and the fine details of decorum. me, the woman who (because she's weird) has always kinda liked to sit in the director's seat.

"i'm just in the backseat, but God's driving my car." and those words of roger wise tuesday morning, nailed me, right between my control-seeking eyes. this was not in my notes, not part of the script, not even especially what i wanted to hear. but tuesday morning i got the message. loud and clear.

tuesday, our school held its 20th veterans day celebration. for the past twenty years perimeter christian school has been putting on a program to honor the heroes of our country. and a celebration it was! every extra element imaginable was added to the show this year ... including a ballet number, a marching band and a special tribute.

when i was asked to step back into my old position as director, i was quick to agree. i did this for several years prior to moving to minnesota.

no big deal. easy peasy. could do it in my sleep. (not really, but you get the point).

but by the end of monday's dress rehearsal, i'll be honest, i was second guessing myself.
"who did i think i was?"
"what did i think i could handle?"
"why wasn't i better organized?"
even ... "why in the world had i said yes?"
you know ... those kind of phrases which fly willy nilly through our heads when the chaos level and fear of failure has risen to a precarious level.

i left the auditorium feeling defeated.

by the time i got home i had already texted several friends and asked them to pray.

asking a few friends to pray?  --- best director's call i made all day!

please pray.

at perimeter we like to do it right. we like to do it well. we care about the details. and, honestly, i love that about our school. i love that blazers are buttoned and ties are straightened and knee socks are pulled up and cheeks are scrubbed clean and heads are held high.

because on veterans day, we are there to honor people who take that kind of thing seriously.

soldiers are trained deep in discipline. they are raised up in practices of respect and responsibility.

and the last thing any of us working on this special day want is to have them show up to something sloppy or half-hearted. so we all give a little extra to pull it together. i can't tell you the number of people it takes. i don't even know the number ... but it's big including everything from decorations to drum rolls ... from flags to final curtains.

and clearly, in these past 20 years, God has been in the driver's seat. His hand is on this program as it has been on this school. blessing it. growing it. driving it forward.

as a part of tuesday's celebration, our headmaster, bobby scott, invited gayle murray to join us. mrs. murray was the 3rd grade teacher who came up with this idea 20 years ago. she spoke a few minutes about how this all came to be.
"i wanted to do something different on veterans day, but i didn't know what. i didn't know what i could do. but then it occurred to me, i could be thankful. so i began there."

that's how this celebration found its start 20 years ago, and that's still the heartbeat of what holds it together today -- thankfulness. we are thankful to the men and women who have served our country well and it is a privilege to put on a program which shows our gratitude.

from my spot in the tech booth tuesday, i could see veterans out in the audience ... the smiles ... the tears ... the beautiful emotion evident on their faces. and i was reminded of what we do and why we do it. it's not just another program to direct or another chance to perform ... no ... it's about HONOR and GRATITUDE and GIVING BACK to those who have given so much.

and if that means a few extra hours of planning or a hectic dress rehearsal on monday, then so be it. it's worth it. every minute of it. it's worth it when we hear the 4th graders belt out the "armed forces medley" or watch small children wave flags and welcome veterans. it's worth it when we get to listen to a young boy's essay telling why his grandpa is his hero -- a man who once battled for his country and is now battling Alzheimer's. it's worth it to see the faces of these veterans as the colors are posted or their branch is recognized or "taps"" is played. it's worth it and it's humbling.

i am humbled and i am reminded that regardless of our title or our position or even our determination, we are not in the driver's seat. whether we are talking about our precious health or our beloved homeland ... we have no control over the outcome.

roger wise explained that this knowledge is what makes him happy.

it's easy to think (at least in my world) that if i have all my plans in place and all my ducks in a row (and my house clean - let's not forget that) ... it's easy to think THEN ... THEN i will be happy. and though i do not want to discount the immense pleasure of clean floors, i was reminded this week in a veterans day program that all the T-crossing and plan-making and detail-orchestrating in the world isn't going to be what makes any of us happy.

it's surrendering our seat.

soldier or barely sane woman ... school child or senior citizen ... surrender.

no matter our rank or our responsibilities ... no matter our medals or our mistakes ... we belong in the backseat.

got to catch a quick glimpse of this little american proudly waving her flag!

the JCVA posted the colors this year -- an honor to work with these men.
our headmaster, bobby scott, is presented an award for leading our school these past 20 years in this program.
ballerinas danced beautifully to "we will not forget." 
veterans stand and are honored when their branch song is sung in the medley.
6th grader, asher, explains his poster. a soldier bowing to the cross. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice.
essay winners
mr. levon stack blew the roof off the house singing "the star spangled banner" acapella.

think of what our country's freedom has meant to these girls ...
a couple of these pictures are mine. 
 thank you for these beautiful pictures talented ladies!


Mom Jodes said...

You nailed this one, Jody! Thank you.

Barb Hayes said...

Thanks, Jody, for posting this honor to our country's greatest heroes. We need to remember our nation was founded on Christian-Judeo principles and keep these principles daily. We have become so lax in taking care of those who have taken care of us.

daniellem02 said...

Wow, what a beautiful tribute! I wish our school did something like that!! great job

Darlene Duggan said...

You have just inspired me to create a Veteran's celebration at our school next year. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic tribute to celebrate Veterans' Day. Thank you so very much for all of your effort both in the program at school and in this elaborate post.

Victoria Pierce said...

That must've been one amazing event! I find it heartwarming that the guest speaker managed to bring out your tears. I'm sure he touched a lot of present families' hearts. Thanks for sharing that, Jody! I'm glad you enjoyed it. All the best to you!

Victoria Pierce @ Fight 4 Vets

Brad Post said...

Reading on how the veterans were honored in the program is quite heartwarming. I hope that there will be more programs like this, as our vets deserve more appreciation, honor, and respect from us. Good job on handling the program well! Cheers!

Brad Post @