Monday, June 16, 2014

My Fathers Legacy

My father has accomplished many great things in his life. I would like to take a little time to share some of those and point out his highest achievement yet.

Career - Service and Leadership
Some would point to the awards and accommodations he earned while working in the Kentucky National Guard these past 30 years. Take one look around his office and you see award after award, which speak of his excellence as a soldier, leader and officer. He has been a mentor to many young soldiers, helping them along the way. In his service, he earned the respect and trust of his colleagues in Kentucky and across the nation. He is an exemplary leader constantly encouraging his peers, colleagues, and friends to lead better. Perhaps most impressive is the attitude he takes after having received these accolades. He remains a servant. He does not expect praise or even enjoy rewards and prizes but continues to faithfully do the work before him with humility. He always sought how he might serve those he leads. This is the true mark of a leader and a lesson that I am proud to say my Dad taught me.

Marriage - Love and Sacrifice
In listing my Dads accomplishments, you cannot miss his marriage. If you have met my parents there is no question that they love each other. The way he looks at her and smiles a secret smile that only they share. It's captivating. I wasn't there, but I am sure it is the same look he had in his eyes on their wedding day. And this is no accident or just a coincidence. It took intentional work to guard that love and develope it into the kind of love that make other people jealous and ask how did you do it? I asked my Dad once that very question. His answer is in itself a testament to his legacy, "It wasn't easy but I had to learn how to love her more than myself. I had to love sacrificailly, giving up my wants to put her first, to listen to her wants and needs, and it's exciting because as we've both grown as our relationship has developed and changed. I'm still learning how to love her today."

Family - Fatherhood and Manliness
My Dad likes says that the best thing he could do for his kids was make sure they knew he loved their mother. As a kid, I didn't appreciate watching my Dad come into the kitchen after work with flowers and "smooch" my Mom. As an adult, I recognize the truth and wisdom of this. If you question the impact this might have on kids, take a look at my siblings and I.  My sister is a wife, mother, and amazing woman. She loves her husband and kids with grace, intelligence, and a sense of humor that looks for new ways to bring joy into her loved ones lives. My brother is a member of the National Guard, following in my Dads footsteps, and working on a Masters in IT Management. Much like my Dad he pours himself into the work given him, and always pushes himself to be the best he can. And me, well, somewhere along the way someone forgot to tell me that I couldn't make my dreams come true. I like to give my Dad credit for that.

Dreams - Perseverance and Faithfulness
My Dad is a dreamer. He has been dreaming of sailing for over 30 years. Most of those years he lived in a land locked state and wouldn't even touch the water. A lesser man would give up that dream and look for something more practical. My Dad held onto his dream and nurtured it. He talked about sailing, read about it, and would plan future trips long before he had a boat or even the time to go sailing. Now he sails with the love of his life several times a year and is looking at buying a second boat to live on. If you ask him if this is what he dreamed of 30 years ago, he probably would probably just smile and show you the pictures from his latest sailing adventure.

As vast and impressive as these achievements are they pale in comparison to his greatest achievement in life. 

Rodney George Hayes is a sinner saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.

It is the core of my Dads person. Not his service, leadership, love, family, dreams or character. No, the character of Christ has prevailed in his life. It has enabled him as a soldier and serviceman, looking to Christ as his example of a servant leader. He learned to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. I remember my Dad singing an old Phillips, Craig and Dean song. "I want to be like You (God the Father) cause he wants to be like me." I can proudly say that I know better what Jesus is like as a friend, servant, and Father because my Dad imitated and emulated Him for me. His dreams are as big as the God he loves and through his faith he finds the perseverance to hold onto them when life would have him despair.

My Dad will be the first to read this and note that he isn't perfect. He is just another sinner who lives in the grace that Jesus poured on us all when He paid the penalty for our sins. So I'll put it this way, my Dads greatest accomplishment was nothing that he did or earned, but rather a gift he received. He has used that gift well. I pray that I may do the same, because I want to be like Him.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Story

“Telling stories of change to create change.” That was the simple idea that started this project over two years ago. The simple idea that by sharing stories of how others were being changed and working to change that others might be invited into it. Admittedly, I went into this looking to change others. I had no idea how much these stories would change me. 

Nearly 40 different videos have been produced, but that number could be multiplied 100 times and not begin to scratch the surface of the stories I have heard. For every video I've produced, I've met dozens of people and as I work along side them, they share their stories. Not all of these stories make good videos. Not all of them can be told in a blog. Most of them are simple stories, the kind that nobody thinks about, just the stories that we share with people as we go about life. Those stories which inevitably turn into conversations that become grand moments of realization, epiphany, and that bring to light truths you have known but never had the words to express. 

For every country that I travel to, there is a story to that land and its people. I try to learn as much as I can from people about where they live, hearing their stories about growing up there. The problems they have and the dreams they hold to. The history of the government and economy and how those things have shaped and been shaped by the cultures of their people. As I hear these stories, I relive the history of each culture and people learning lessons from their success and struggles.

Through out all that time, I'm taking pictures and video. Capturing the sights and sounds of the places and people. Gathering the materials needed to tell some of the stories that I have heard. I believe that video is a powerful story telling medium because it can capture and represent the little nuances of a place and person. I try to make each video do that, and to do that I take in as much about each person and place that I can. Inevitably, they each get under my skin and touch my heart. 

After collecting the hours of video needed to craft these stories. I sit down in front of computer and try to communicate all that I've learned in 3-5 minutes. It's a mental task, the review of every interview, shot, scene, and person to see if they will fit the particular story. As I sit in the editing room, I relive each moment again and hear the words of my friends from each place. Watching and rewatching, honing until only the story remains; but with each review the stories sink in deeper. I have the privilege of not just getting to hear and see their stories once, but to relive them dozens of times as I edit. 

Inevitably, the majority of the stories which I have heard are cut out from the videos. There isn't time to tell them all and many distract from the main messages trying to be communicated. I imagine this is one of the reasons that directors release their own version of films, behind the scene, and “making of” stories. The final released version doesn't tell it all. Their are personal moments that have been left on the editing room floor, and in those piles are perhaps the moments that were most memorable and impacting to those creating it. I know that happens with me. My favorite moments, shots, quotes, conversations, stories, don't make it into the final cut, but in the “making of” story of my life they are central.

I go through this process with each of the stories I've told so to stay that I've been impacted by them is an understatement. I've been “changed” almost seems too weak a word. I've been transformed.
If you were to look at me you might not be able to identify any changes. Maybe even if you spend time with me you might see the transformation, alteration, and growth. The changes have been subtle. Like my videos, I've gone through an editing process. 

Perhaps the best way to say it is this:

These stories have changed my life by revealing the truths of this world
and giving me a way to share them.