Happy Birthday Nick!

Today is Nick’s 11th birthday! Lisa made his favorite cake, which is; chocolate with chocolate chips in the cake and cool whip frosting with chocolate chips on top…I think Nick likes chocolate! 11 years ago was 1997. That was the same year that I started at Foremost Farms. Brittany was 7, Trevor was 4 and Vinny was not even 1. The cost of a gallon of gas was $1.22, the average American made $37,000 a year and a movie ticket cost just $4.50. In 1997, Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule, Princess Diana died in a car accident while in Paris, at 21 years of age, Tiger Woods becomes the youngest golfer to win the Masters. The films Titanic, Liar Liar and As Good As It Gets are hits. Walking On the Sun, Crash Into Me and Candle In the Wind were 3 of the most popular songs of the year. Nick, I love your love of life and your kind, sensitive heart. I love how you seek out private time just to talk and I love that you want to do that with me, and I hope this will go down as one of the best birthdays you’ve ever had!

We have what I would call a sizable yard. Not huge mind you, but big enough that it takes a good hour to mow. We have been rotating the job between Trevor and Nick and have been paying them for this service. Well, a few weeks ago Vinny, knowing they get paid, started asking about when HE could start mowing so that he could earn some money as well. I kind of hesitated at first and then after Vinny kept asking about it, I finally said that he needs to shadow Nick and Trevor, observe what they did and how they mowed, before I would allow him to do it on his own. So, after walking around and ‘observing’ Nick mow last week, Vinny asked if he could do the job this week. With a few reservations, I agreed and off he went. About a half hour into the job, I stepped out on the deck to see how he was coming along. Vinny had mowed a diagonal swath from one corner of our property, to the center of our back yard, then looped back around cutting through the diagonal in what looked like an attempt to write something in our lawn. Half smiling to myself, I went down to provide some tips and guidance. When I got down there, Vinny shut the mower off and instantly said, ‘Dad, this is HARD! I don’t want to do this anymore!’ I told him to go get a glass of water and come back out. When he came back out, we walked around the yard and I showed him where he had missed a few strips, pointed out how to use the previously mowed lane as a guide to help keep straight and how to mow around the base of trees. I told him that in spite of this being his first time, I thought he was doing a good job. He wanted to quit. I told him that it’s important to finish the job you start. He was hot and he had no idea that mowing was so hard. I told him that he needed to press on through. He said ‘But dad! I can’t!’ Looking at him, my heart very nearly broke…for some reason, I KNEW this was a defining moment in Vinny’s life and I told him; ‘Vinny, yes you can…I know you can, now finish the job’ and with that, I walked back inside. It took Vinny another hour and when he finished, he threw his fists up in the air and yelled…’I’M DONE!!!’ Was it the best I’ve ever seen? No. Was it the best he can do? Mmm, probably not, but with experience comes improvement…But all of that didn’t matter. I told him, ‘Good job Vinny!...I’m proud of you!’ And the look of success on his face and the smile of pride in his eyes, told me right then and there that making him finish the job was the right decision. It was harder work then he had ever done before, but he pushed through, didn’t give up and finished. He now knows the feeling of completing a difficult task and the sense of accomplishment it gives you. Better yet, he’ll have more confidence to do other tasks that he feels might be too hard.

I spent some time thinking back to the different things my dad taught me and my need for him to be pleased with the job I did. There was instruction and correction (sometimes patiently, sometimes not!), but if I took an honest interest in the job at hand, dad was always willing to show me. Then I started thinking about my heavenly Father…how many times in life have I gone off at an angle across the yard of my life, mowing letters in the lawn, seemingly wandering aimlessly and not following the straight path laid out before me…and then the Father steps near and tells me there’s an easier way. He gently guides and corrects me, helps me find my way back to the right path. At times I have told Him…’God! This is TOO hard! Why have You asked me to do this?’ ‘I’m tired and I don’t feel like do this anymore!’ and that’s always when He tells me; ‘I never asked you to do more than I knew you were capable of…and I never asked you to do it alone…I know you can and I’ll never leave you!’

~ V


  1. oh Vince what a wonderful Man and Dad you are!! :-) Happy B-day Nick! and to Trevor and Vinney Thank You Thank You from your Aunt Debbie for Helping your Daddy! and to you to Nick Thank you for being one of the boys! love to you All Always Your Aunt Debbie

  2. Hey there, Howard Family.
    Happy Birthday Nick.
    Good lesson learned. I never had a big lawn to mow but I did have a mowing job and i did learn what the work is. The lady that I mowed for was alway nice. I don't remember if I did a good job or not but I didn't get any complaints. Trevor, It gets better, the bigger you get. Don't stop tring to do things that seem hard now but the next time you mow it will be easier because you will know all the trick of the trade.
    God Bless Michael


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