Last week during a 1400-mile road trip, I received a rare blessing, impacting me for eternity. I met an octogenarian man who chooses to live his destiny laying down his life for others, mostly his family, neighbors and friends. In the brief hours that I spent with him, I asked questions, listened and took photos as he shared cherished remnants of his life story. His weathered face and strong gnarled hands spoke volumes. The single focus of his life is his family including his wife, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, siblings, extended family, etc.
As I photographed the Redwood tree that he planted when he was a young boy of 10, I wondered who had deeper roots in the land, the man or the tree. The warm California sun warmed our backs as we walked through the barns, fields, vineyards, and feeding pens. He humbly shared his story that he wanted to build a legacy for his family; a legacy that began over 60 years ago with countless 16-hour days and long weekends. Laying down his life was just normal everyday living as he worked hard to acquire the 100-acre farm.
Tom Brokaw wrote that his generation was “The Greatest Generation.” Through set-backs, changes in government, extreme personal losses and other unexpected storms he remained true to his vision, building his dream one day at a time. He is a rare visionary, looking out for the future generations, preparing a place for them. He believes in God, America, family and in fighting for the preservation of his family. This divine encounter redefined words such as tenacious strength, foundational stability, loyalty, purposed perseverance, commitment, honoring love, faith, unity and hope.
I am so grateful to have met him this side of heaven. Rarely do I meet someone on earth who possesses the internal and intrinsic DNA of Jesus. He did not talk about Jesus he lived like Jesus, laying down his life for his family and friends...every single day.
“We know love by this that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (family)” (1 John 3:16, NASB).