I like to consider myself a pretty simple guy. Some people like fancy food and restaurants, but I'm content with a cheeseburger and fries. I drive an old Buick and am not really ashamed to admit it. Observing people and trying to figure out what motivates them to act and react is kind of a pastime for me. So when I came across the above graph, I had to stop and ask some questions to myself. But first, some context.
Two of my children returned to school this week, one of which, my daughter, is a senior in high school. I find myself annoyed every time a person discovers that they're talking to high school senior, and the first question they ask is, "So where are you going to college?" I'm sure this standardized question was not purposed to annoy me, but it's as though the answer to that question will determine how others will interact with you. Heaven forbid you humbly proclaim the local community college, for you shall surely be shunned by the university bound, or alumni thereof. Or pray tell you proclaim a period of gainful employment before you make that decision, which for many is akin to anathema.
Back to our graph. As I look at the regret factor for each of these categories, not knowing how the question was posed to the respondents, my initial reaction is one of indignation. Not surprise, based on the peer shame placed on those who failed to surpass their classmates in collecting degrees with bachelors, masters and doctorate inscribed on them. But the fact that regrets over ones educational and career paths not only exceed, but many times over, their regrets over their interactions with their kids, family, friends, and God? My hope is that those polled felt they did such a good job with the spiritual and family aspects of their lives that no regrets are necessary. Although, I really don't believe that's the case.
So, my encouragement to all is this, don't major in the minors. If you convince your kids that their self worth is directly related to their school performance, they'll never find the intrinsic value that God placed in them regardless of what they accomplish. And they surely will not be able to see that value in those they interact with in life. Love 'em for who they are, not what they do, and they might just be around to wipe the slobber off your face when you're old and decrepit.
As I look around the great metropolis that is Martinsville and Henry County, I realize that there's a stark fact that binds us with much of the rest of these United States. We're pretty old fashioned. Now to some that may seem derogatory. But on the contrary, I like the way things have been in the past. Years past have an allure, nostalgia we often call it, we remember when life seemed to be less complicated. Simplicity is elusive these days for many people. Between the two working parents and the three kids in four sports, the speed at which life is lived can be overwhelming. But, as we venture further into the countryside, beyond subdivisions and strip malls, time slows down. We see things as they have been: old farmhouses, barns, country stores. It appears they have always been there and always will be there. We have a tradition of going to the Ayers-Kreh Christmas tree farm in Patrick County each year and cutting our own tree. To prove my point, time stands still at the Cristmas tree farm. I've been going there for 30 or so years. I can stand on the hill, facing west, with the cold breeze stinging my face, and remember being 13 years old in the same place. I'm sure the personnel and the equipment have changed, but I don't see it. I'm just a kid looking for the perfect tree, 30 + years later. I happen to live on Highway 58 and often see the vehicles passing by with their perfect tree strapped to the roof or hanging out of the bed of the truck. Maybe they are living out the same tradition that I am with my family. Maybe they are starting a new tradition. Now many of our more urban friends and family may find the idea of hunting and killing your own tree preposterous. Drinking hot chocolate on a cold December Saturday, they say? At a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, they quip? That just sounds old-fashioned. Well, maybe it is. But, don't knock it til you've tried it. You may discover that you've got a little nostalgia in you, too!
I don't know how it is with you, but all of my life I've had a plethora of seemingly archaic voices telling me that time slips by more quickly the older we get. I think Five for Fighting got it right in his song "100 Years"
Every time I watch that video I'm reminded of how our perspective changes as we enter new phases of life. In a couple of weeks our oldest son, Gabe, will graduate from high school, and both we and he will begin new phases in our lives. As a Christ following parent you pray that your children will develop their own faith and choose to follow Jesus by their own volition, and that you as the parent have guided them to that point. It's at junctures like this when we have the opportunity to review how we've scored as a parent, good or bad. What values did I stress? Was I too strict or too lenient? Did I overcompensate for what I viewed as my parents failures?
Ultimately only time will give us the answers to these questions. But when I compare my first 18 years to my son's, I think he's got a pretty cool future ahead of him. Laura and I never really pushed our kids like society seems to think is the norm, whether it be academics or athletics. Spiritual life was the center of family life 50 years ago. But now it seems that everything else has encroached on that lifestyle. I am so thankful for the Godly mentors that changed the course of my life and ultimately the lives of my family. And to all that choose to read this, I pray that you will evaluate those values that you are presenting to your children. I caution you that what you're saying doesn't count. Your actions speak so loud they can't hear what you are saying. Good grades, good manners, hard work and discipline are all great concepts to place before you're child. But compare the words that the Apostle Paul offered to the Colossians in Chapter 3, verses 12-15:
"Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful."
I would suggest that, if by age 18, you have conveyed Paul's words to your children, while also attempting to live out these principles, you won't have a lot to be concerned about regarding their future. Fortunately, Gabe has embraced the Christ centered life, and in the process, found a beautiful young lady who is doing the same. I don't know what the Lord has in store for them, but I know they both have been taught to seek God first: not money, not education, not the shiny things of this world.
I am confident the Lord's richest blessings will await each of them as they find His plan and purpose for each of their lives.
And so, in conclusion, parents, maybe you've done a bang up job parenting to this point. If so, give yourself a high five and a pat on the back. Maybe you have completely blown it to this point. Looking back I realize how many mistakes and bad decisions I made. I'm embarrassed by my incompetence and ignorance as a parent on so many occasions. But I want to encourage each of you that God's mercies are new every morning! Tomorrow is a new day! You can learn from past mistakes, but don't dwell on them. Joshua told the Israelite's that they would have to choose whom they would serve. Make this your declaration starting tomorrow and live it out : As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!
People often ask the question, is my ATV covered, usually referring to a homeowners policy. Every situation is unique, and you should always consult your agent, but generally the answer will be no. The caveat for coverage is if the vehicle is used solely for the maintenance of the property. Most people couldn't answer that question yes, even if they do use it for maintenance, because the very nature of ATV's is recreational riding. They're fun!
So what do you do? Insuring ATV's is simple but pricing can vary widely among insurance companies. Something to always consider is the liability you could face if someone was injured in the course of operating or riding your machine. Going with minimum liability limits can turn out very badly in a serious accident. Go with higher limits and protect your assets because the increased cost is usually minimal. Happy trails!
So, Mom and Dad, your baby is all grown up and ready to start driving. It's the double-edged sword of parenthood. We want to give them responsibility but we're afraid of their ability to handle it. On the one hand, we think of all the time it will save us taking them all over creation. On the other, we remember every bonehead decision they've made for the past sixteen or so years. It's daunting to give them a 3,000 pound hammer and tell them to have it. We dread the thought of the phone call in the middle of the night. My mom was the unfortunate recipient of one of those calls. I wasn't the driver, but I was riding with a young driver who made just one mistake. When it comes to cars and new drivers, it takes just one mistake to change lives, or even end them. Thank the Lord we both recovered and are still alive today. It wasn't fun at the time, but it gave me a great lesson for my children and for my customers and their children when they begin driving. Below I'll list some tidbits to help you as you begin the journey with your teen driver.
1. Remember that everyone has the potential to make mistakes. Expecting perfection from your teen is unrealistic and will make a stress-filled time more stressful.
2. Teach your child to drive. Don't rely on driver training courses to do it for you. If you've been driving for 15 or 20 years or more, you have the goods to teach them. Plus, it can be a bonding time for you.
3. If you don't feel qualified to teach them, ask a family member or family friend that you trust. I know mom's tend to be overly anxious, and rightfully so. If you just don't want to, then don't. A teen that dreads driving will not be fun to work with. And there seems to be a trend of teenagers who are putting off obtaining their license, which on some level, can be putting off growing up.
4. Use a third party like a police officer or insurance agent to scare the snot out of them. Sometimes we can convey the seriousness of the privilege in a way that backs up your own threats and gives you a scapegoat for the bag guy. We don't mind at all.
5. Continue to teach them even after they begin driving on their own. Take on the role of coach and head cheerleader to encourage them when they do well and direct them when they stumble.
6. Finally, in everything you do, whether it be teaching or coaching, cheering or correcting, do it with love. They get beat up enough by the world. We as parents should always be a safe harbour, a place of refuge when they need somewhere to go. And they will always need somewhere to go.
One final thought. I always suggest that parents have a "beater" car for their teen to learn on. It softens the blow if they do put a scratch or ding on it. And if you don't have to carry full coverage on the vehicle they are driving, it will save you a ton of money. Trust the insurance guy, because he sees the sad faces of parents getting their first bill after Bobby or Susie has been added to the policy:- (
One of the hardest concepts for an insurance agent to convey to a client is how insurance companies arrive at the rates they offer to their customers. What is sometimes referred to as multivariable rating can confuse and confound even intelligent people, more intelligent than I. One of the more weighty components of the aforementioned rating system is what is commonly referred to as "credit", which is the tell tale story for the good, the bad and the ugly in our financial lives. Credit histories have become the financial genetic markers that determine the course of many of our lives; whether it be the place we live or the car we drive, and sometimes even the jobs we are offered. Many an agent have valiantly argued to most insurance carriers that credit has no bearing on the insurance risk an individual presents. But, as technology has improved and data has been studied, companies have been able to successfully draw direct correlations between credit trends and risk factors. Fast forward to 2013 and all major property and casualty insurance companies use your credit history as a rating factor in determining the cost of your car and home insurance. We often hear a scenario that goes something like this: " Joe said he only pays $50 a month for the same insurance that I do and mine is $100 a month. What's the deal?" There are hundreds of variables in these situations and each company uses different combinations, and when credit history is added to the mix it is virtually impossible to ever compare two situations to each other. It will always be an apples to oranges comparison. How we buy goods and services has been forever and irrevocably changed by the incorporation of credit history as a determining factor for cost. The good news is that each insurance company has a unique appetite for "risks" or what retail stores would call customers. The best deal for any person in their quest for competitive rates will come through a local independent agent. We represent multiple companies and can shop for not only the best rate today, but 6 months or a year from now. And, we offer local service and advice with your best interest in mind, because we know we'll see you at the ball field, the grocery store, or at the school our kids attend. Our customers are our neighbors and our friends. Something to consider when shopping for insurance is am I looking for the insurance itself or the best agent to guide me. When's the last time you price shopped your dentist, your accountant, or your hairstylist? We don't just sell something, we provide value. And we appreciate our customers, all of them.
It's only appropriate that I begin my blogging career talking about cars. As far back as I can rememer, Hot Wheels and plastic tracks were the center of my attention. The older I got, the more I grew to admire each model's uniqueness. The 1966 Mustang GT Fastback. I would salivate over thoughts of swapping cogs behind a K-code 289 Hi-Po 4V V8. Stretching out a '66 427 SC Cobra on some backroad where no one would find me, but even if they did, they would never catch me. Fantasy is great in that respect. Whatever your desired outcome, you can make it happen. Eventually we got old enough to actually sit behind the wheel of a real machine with a real engine. I stil recall that Saturday morning. Travis(my best friend and fellow gearhead) and I were 15, and his dad took us to look at a 1973 Mach 1 Mustang in medium aqua. The woman that owned it had taken the factory 351 Cleveland out and replaced it with a 302, for gas mileage. She had the Cleveland still sitting in her yard. We took that car home that day and began our education on the restoration and upgrading of a car. Over the next many months I learned pretty much everything I know about cars and what makes them tick. And I relish those memories. Soon thereafter we began driving these glorious machines. They were plentiful then. '69 Mach 1's and '68 DZ28 Camaro's, '66 Chevelles and '65 Box Novas. If we only knew then the value that these cars would hold 25 years later. But we were young and naive and just wanted to go fast and look as cool or cooler than the next guy. We drove fast, but not always were we the fastest. We were cool, but not always the coolest. And now we're old. Now, I have a 15 yr old. Only he wouldn't know a Box Nova from a box of rocks, because he doesn't care about cars. The passion of my youth is foreign to him. Just thinking of those days brings back the smell of smoke and burning rubber, races won and races lost, close calls and total losses. And soon my father-in-law will begin restoring his 1966 K-code Fastback GT in Wimbledon White, that he and his wife drove off the showroom floor in lieu of a Shelby GT350. If we only knew then...