When I think about what courage means, I think of many famous people in history who have overcome odds, fought against adversity, and/or stood up for what they believed in at all costs…there are many examples of these individuals.  The Pilgrims, and the pioneers  f the old west all left their old lifestyle and livelihoods behind and headed toward a new and unknown future – what courage that must have taken!  Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and sports figures such as Willie Mays and Arthur Ashe were courageous enough to stand up for what was right for all human beings, regardless of the color of their skin, and many paid for that belief with their own lives in order to ensure a better future for those who came after them.

But, although there are many examples of courageous famous Americans and other world leaders, it is not a character trait that is saved for only a few…courageous acts take place every day in churches, schools, neighborhoods, playgrounds, hospitals, and workplaces every day.  It is important to realize that small acts of courage are just as important as the famous ones that we read about in our history books.  Everyone has to face fears at some point in their lives – even when they are very young.  That is why I have chosen to write about courageous acts that I have witnessed in my own family – Grant, Carter, and Kendall!  Even though you may think that these stories are not very important – they illustrate how being brave can shape our personalities.

I will start with Grant.  When Grant was 2 years old, he went to preschool for the first time.  It was only for a couple of hours two days per week, but he was not happy about it.  He did NOT want to make new friends and was frightened of the idea of spending time with these strangers!    I can remember his face trying to be brave when I left him, but I could tell that he was scared.  Shortly after school started, the preschool director said to me “Grant is an observer, isn’t he?”  Well I had never thought of this before, but she mentioned that the first few days on the playground he sat next to her and just watched everyone else play.  After a couple of days he went out and played with the kids that he figured he could get along with!   Well, like most kids, he finally got over his fear and had a wonderful year.   As Grant has gotten older, I have been able to observe him in his various classrooms over the years and I have noticed something about him…he has the ability to observe those around him and identify anyone who is feeling uncomfortable,  and he singles them out to make them feel included.  I cannot say for sure that overcoming his fear of preschool has created this ability in him, but I like to think that it has!

Carter…let’s see…you might think that he is not afraid of anything, but you may be wrong!  When Carter was two or three years old, he was very frightened of the water!  I can remember Joe and I standing in the neighborhood pool and trying to get him to jump in and swim to us…he would stand there and cry and cry because he did not want to do it!!  Long after all of his friends that were his age were swimming all over the pool, including the deep end, I would watch Carter just playing on the steps or hanging onto the sides of the pool, not letting go because he could not touch the bottom (even though he really could swim)!  He would never complain or cry about it, but I could tell that it bothered him that he was not brave enough to test his skills at swimming.  I remember the day that Carter finally trusted Joe enough to jump from the side of the pool into his outstretched arms!  From then on out, he turned into a fish..as a matter of fact, he has qualified for the county swim meet every summer since he has been 5!  I have also been able to observe Carter in many situations on sports teams over the years, whether it be basketball, football, or just playing with the neighborhood kids.  What I have noticed is that he always uses words of encouragement for his teammates who may be struggling.  Whether they have made a poor play, or if they are just not good at a sport, Carter always finds a way to make them feel good about themselves and their ability.

Kendall… Like many kids, Kendall has a great fear of dogs.  I don’t really understand it since she has never been harmed in any way by a dog, but as we all know, our fears don’t always make sense!  Ever since I can remember, she has cried and begged me to carry her whenever she sees a dog – even if it is on a leash!  The Statesboro cousins can vouch for this since she stayed with them for several days and had fits any time Asia came around.  Well, Kendall is slowly using her courage to become less afraid of dogs – as a matter of fact she actually gave Asia a hug goodbye when we left a couple of weeks ago.   Although she has not lost her fear completely, I know that she is being brave whenever she pets a new dog.  I am not sure how overcoming this fear will affect Kendall in the future, maybe she will be a veterinarian! 

I hope these examples are meaningful to each of you as you think of fears that you have now or ones that you have already conquered.  Have a wonderful week – I am enjoying this time with each and every one of you!