And the local Courageous Profiles awards go to…

Categorized as 02/01/10 Goshen News column

Every year, the JFK Library Foundation announces the annual winners of the Profile in Courage Award. According to their website, it is the nation’s most prestigious honor for elected public servants.

Now I’m no Kennedy, but I sure do know plenty of people with profiles of courage. So as not to compete with Caroline, I’ve decided to present my own Courageous Profiles awards today, February 1, in the year of our Lord 2010.

First off, in a very general way, I suppose every parent deserves this award. When a mom and dad can take a hard, realistic look at the current state of world affairs and opt to keep the little critter instead of slapping on a postage-paid, return-to-sender label, that says “courage” to me.

Parenting is the hardest job in the world. Sure, some of you big-time CEOs have plenty of stress in your lives. It can’t be easy, commanding multimillion-dollar companies and climbing the Forbes list, but I doubt that any of your clients are demanding to be fed every three hours or gerking up lunch on your Italian suits in the middle of an important meeting.

Overseeing high-stakes mergers and fending off hostile takeovers are a walk in the park compared to teaching an adolescent how to drive. If you really want to test your mettle, just slide your biscuits over into the passenger’s seat and let your teen take the wheel. You’ll find out real quick how courageous you are.

Another group of brave ones that I would like to award today is those who teach at our junior high and high schools. Instead of pointing the van at the exit and hitting the accelerator as I do at drop-offs, these courageous souls actually move toward the entrance doors. Most days, they even go in!

The courage they display in voluntarily entering that roiling pit of adolescent hormones is astounding. For this, they absolutely deserve a bright and shiny Courageous Profiles trophy.

Pastors, in my opinion, are also deserving of this award. Whether their congregation is small and it falls to them to dust the pews and straighten the songbooks or whether they commandeer a large staff and a large budget, the expectations are high.

In their interviews with the church board prior to being hired, the job description is revealed. They are expected, of course, to have a superior grasp of the Holy Scriptures, along with the oratory skills of Billy Graham. They should be able to provide a thorough exegesis of any passage, including, but not limited to the Levitical laws and the genealogy of Christ, at the drop of a hat.

Furthermore, their spouses should epitomize the Proverbs 31 woman, able and willing to teach a Sunday School class, serve on the food committee, and work in the nursery. Their children should be model citizens, never picking their noses in church or squealing out in the church parking lot. Under their direction, it is hoped that membership will grow, tithes will increase, and that they will donate a ham to every Sunday potluck. “No pressure, of course.”

Of course.

For going above and beyond consistently, for faithfully shepherding the flock, and for not over baptizing the stinkers who complain about the music, a Courageous Profiles aware is gladly given.

As far as individuals are concerned, I would like to give a posthumous award to my Grandma Yoder. This amazing woman raised 11 children, 5 girls and 6 boys, one of which is my father. The fact that she lived to tell about it is admirable. The fact that she let them live to tell about it is even more remarkable.

If the logistics of raising 4 are challenging at times, the mere thought of managing 11 is downright unnerving. These are the boys, after all, who “thunk up” any number of ways to make the girls scream. One of their favorites was hollering, “Bus,” just to watch their baby sister go streaking down the drive, braids flying, only to find that there was no bus.

These are also the boys who put bags of fresh manure on neighboring porches and lit them, hiding in the bushes as the frantic homeowner stomped out the flames like a clogger on speed. And who can forget the day they unleashed mayhem at Grandma’s quilting? Watching as a cousin entered the outhouse, they snuck around behind and poked upwards with a stick until they heard a terrified shriek before tearing off for parts unknown.

The fact that Dad can’t remember what happened to him after that makes me think that Grandma was pretty mad.

Only recently has Dad confessed to this prank. Many years ago, Grandpa hired a crew to dig out the basement. When one of the workmen left a pack of cigarettes behind, Dad and his brothers took one out. Unpacking some of the tobacco, they slipped in a match head before packing the tobacco back in. When the poor guy went to enjoy his smoke, he got a little more fire than he was expecting.

Grandma, for having one very courageous profile, this one’s for you.

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