In Google Search of the Old Farmer’s Prayer

cotton crop in arkansas

Mom, dad and me, happy, and celebrating one of the best cotton crops we ever had in 1992.

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it, and keep it.” ~ Genesis 2:15

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From an analytical standpoint, one of the things I enjoy most about blogging is the daily report indicating “search terms” punched into the engines that ultimately lead readers to my archives.

Since launching www.stevenwwatkins.com back in January, it’s been no contest among the terms searched that lead readers here.

It’s “the farmer‘s prayer.”

Readers from the world’s every continent have searched “farmer’s prayer” and found this blogsite. And when they did so, they read about my dad. For me, that’s an honor, and it carries great reward.

famers prayer

I asked dad to pose for this shot, and he reluctantly agreed, but you can see just how proud he is. It’s the most relaxed I’ve ever seen him during the harvest.

It’s ironic, a bit melancholy, and still yet rewarding.

You see, after taking leave as a writer for nearly two years, it was my dad’s passing that compelled me to begin writing once again. The circumstances of his death and the “religious” blasphemy to which he was exposed welled up inside my own soul, and there were just too many things that had to come out.

So I turned to the blog.

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Daddy was a farmer. It’s all he ever wanted to be. And he was a pretty decent farmer. Most of my life’s lessons were learned in a cotton patch right by his side.

When he died, our family wanted to honor his love for the land, and we composed a slide show video of a series of photos I took in 1992 – the harvest of one of his most successful cotton crops. It was a Sunday afternoon, and as I remember, among the happiest days of his life.

The last slide in the the video makes me cry every single time. It’s as if he’s saying: “I’m leaving now, but I’ll see you again soon.”

***

Over the last three weeks, I’ve thought a lot about my dad, the farmer. It’s the first harvest he never saw. We took a diversion from our typical cotton crop this year and planted 120 acres of the finest soybeans I’ve ever seen. The yield was high, and the price was good.

me checking soybean depth

Me, earlier this spring, checking the seed depth on our soybean crop near Monette, Arkansas. I’ve seen my dad do this thousands of times, so I stopped to do it, too.

In fact, it surpassed the finest cotton crop we ever farmed. Daddy would never have believed it.

My best friend’s dad was a farmer, too. He’s been gone for 10 years now. Brady and I talk of our dads often. Because of the good crops we’ve had in recent years, we like to think our dads are still taking care of us as they always did.

We like to say we own X number of acres. Not really. God grants us the wonderful opportunity, but for a time, to be the caretakers of His land. We pray that we care for it well, and use it to glorify His name.

When Daddy became a farmer, his prayers were answered. I’m thankful he and my mom and my grandmother, and the many ancestors that preceded them, taught me a love of the land.

It was a good crop this year, dad. Thanks for sending it our way. I love and miss you, and I’m so proud of you.

THE FARMER‘S PRAYER

“Old farmers never die, they just go to seed.” ~ unknown

***

Time just keeps moving on

And many years have come and gone

But I grow old without regret

My hopes are in what may come yet.

On the farm I work each day

This is where I wish to stay

I watch the seeds each season sprout

From the soil as the plants rise out.

I study nature and I learn

To know the earth and feel her turn

I love her dearly in all her seasons

For I have learned her secret reasons.

All that will live in the bosom of the earth

She is the loving mother of all birth

When my body is old and spent

And my soul to Heaven has went.

Please compost and spread me on this plain

So my body Mother Earth can claim

That is where I wish to be

Then nature can nourish new life with me.

So do not for me grieve and weep

I didn’t leave, I only sleep

I am with the soil here below

Where I can nourish life of beauty and glow.

Here I can help the falling rain

Grow golden fields of ripened grain

From here I can join the winds that blow

And meet the softly falling snow.

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What would a “Blog-You-Mentary” look like?

I’ve developed a web domain hording habit.

It’s just another quirk in the day-to-day life of an OCD wanna-be-make-a-difference-in-the-world blogger-dreamer, I suppose.

The wife says she prefers $9.99 domain buying to sitting at a black jack table, and so I’ve embraced the habit with her endorsement. Inevitably, it takes our bank account to the brink each and every month.

For years, my personal email at stevewatkins71@yahoo.com has carried a quotable tagline from anthropologist Margaret Meade I first discovered after watching a Nickelback video titled, “If Everyone Cared.” The video’s last few seconds fade to Meade’s quote:

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

It’s become something of a mantra for me because of its simple truth.

A couple of years later, I was further inspired by an award-winning documentary titled: “Playing for Change: Peace through Music,” and another great video that beautifully promoted its cause.

If you do nothing else for yourself today, please give this a watch, and be inspired. Talk about a magnificent collaboration…

Since discovering the blogging world and becoming an active participant a year or so ago, I’ve adopted the following beliefs about its potential:

  • The blogosphere makes the world much smaller.
  • It’s a great place to discover unbelievable talent.
  • Possibilities for world-changing collaboration are everywhere.
  • We’ve yet to conceive just how powerful this tool may become.

Some domains I’ve purchased are simply for future fun: i.e., www.BBQNazi.com; others are for promotion of future creative works: i.e. www.LightWins.com. In the grand scheme, they’re small ideas with which I’ll have a little fun and occupy some creative time.

But what of the bigger picture? There’s not a day goes by when I don’t wonder about a bigger blog impact and how it might be achieved.

I’m convinced the core of the human spirit is relational. Our most divine of inspiration comes from others.

Forget the presidential debates, Justin Beiber‘s last tweet, or the latest-greatest iPhone. Did you happen to catch the most amazing three hours in recent human history yesterday when Felix Baumgartner compelled the world to dream once again? That’s a story worth telling.

***

I have an ever-growing relationship with the support departments at www.godaddy.com and www.wix.com. For the record, they’re two of the most efficient and helpful support departments I’ve encountered. Real professionals, they are.

Last Friday, I called in to buy yet another domain: www.BlogYouMentary.com.

“This is really good. What are you going to do with it?” the support specialist asked as we went through the standard domain-buying gyrations.

“I’m not sure yet,” I responded, “but I like it too.”

So there it is: http://www.BlogYouMentary.com…

I’m wondering:

  • What exactly does a “blogyoumentary” look like?
  • What form does it take?
  • Is it a solo project, or one to be taken on collaboratively with other bloggers who have a desire to change the world … and, if so, who might be interested?
  • How could it be used for the greater good?

Endless possibilities, I think.

Wondering what you think…

What does a “blogyoumentary” look like, and where does it go from here?

I sincerely welcome your comments, questions and thoughts, and even a “reblog,” if you deem the question worthy.

~ steve

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Your Friendship: Is it Freely Offered, or Earned?

In the formative years when I wasn’t playing golf on Sunday, most of those afternoons were spent watching the finely covered major tournaments broadcast on CBS. Any sportsman will tell you the coverage of CBS’s Masters is among the classiest of television events.

best friends

October 17, 2009. They day I married my good friend.

From the play by play, to feature profiles, to the ceremonious passing of the green jacket, Jim Nantz, Verne Lundquist and Gary McCord captured viewers’ attention from tee to green.

Even the commercials were classy.

You need not be a died-in-the-wool fan to remember the 1970s Smith Barney commercial starring famous actor and producer John Houseman.  This line he delivered at the end of the commercial, is recalled three generations later, not only because of his brilliant delivery, but also because of the profound message it carried:

“Smith Barney. They make money the old-fashioned way…they earn it.”

Last night, Dana and I were discussing friends, friends of friends, and all the relational dynamics involved in what makes people “click.”

It started with the discussion about a friend of a friend who’d told his friend he knew I didn’t much care for him. Dana’s friend shared that news with her earlier this week, and she passed it on to me.

This is what Dana said she told her friend: “Steve’s not gonna just give his friendship away. It’s something he’ll (the friend of the friend) have to earn.”

Honestly, I’d never given that much thought to my life’s relationships, but I won’t deny its truth.

friends and sports relationships

This photo, taken in 1980, is my championship team that went 30-6. I love every one of these guys still today. The friendship among us was truly earned. I may never see some of them again, but I love every guy in the green and white … and coach Jim Ellis in the center.

I know a few friends who naturally lavish their love on others. I’ve always wished I could be more like those people. Perhaps it’s a personality flaw, or maybe it’s just a byproduct of life experiences, but after we had the conversation, I realized it’s true: I don’t just hand out free tickets to friendship. And you don’t change the way a 46-year-old man “is.”

fellowship bible church

This is Chuck Gschwend, a pastor at Fellowship Bible Church where I attend. He’s the single most loving man I know.

Most men I know don’t have a wide circle of friends. In fact, most are lucky if they truly have a good friend at all. And oftentimes, I think, we consciously choose to limit our circle of friends because of the value we place on the gift.

And for me, that’s precisely what friendship is – a gift. One to be thoughtfully given, and thankfully received.

The friend of the friend who told his friend I didn’t much care for him is a guy I’ve met twice. My recollection is that we talked about dogs, work and football. Chit-chat, it was for the most part. Nothing real.

The quality I admire most in any friendship is pure transparency. The freedom to share truth without fear of judgment. The freedom to fail without repercussion. The sanctity of knowing that even through the worst of times, a friend is a friend is a friend. It’s loyalty absent effort.

It’s precious and rare.

And it’s because of the precious value I place on true friendship that I write often about my best of friends. Dana is one. The other is a high school buddy and golfing parter who’s closer than a brother.

Brady and I have been friends for 34 years. We’ll be friends ’til we die.

relationships between men

My long-time buddy Brady Cornish – we talk almost every day, and shoot an occasional round of “extraordinary” golf.

Dana and I were acquaintances nine years before we married. In the first five years of our ‘relationship,”  she didn’t even like me that much. It took a long time for me to break down the barriers to see through to her heart, and she has the purest of hearts I know.

Sometimes I wish I loved people more. It’s what we’re called  to do, but it’s not easy is it?

Just wondering, how many “real” friends do you have, and what are the qualities you most admire in your best of friends?

Do you offer your friendship freely, or do others have to earn it?

In the spirit of John Houseman’s message, “Good friends don’t show up, bite you on the bottom and say, ‘Were here!'”

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Six Blog Post “Leads” That Will Lose Me in a Second

“Literature is the art of writing something that will be read  twice; journalism what will be grasped at once.” ~ Cyril  Connolly

LEAD (OR LEDE) –

A lead paragraph in literature refers to the opening paragraph of an article, essay, news story or book chapter. Often called just “the lead,” it writing for blogsusually occurs together with the headline or title. It precedes the main body of the article, and it gives the reader the main idea of the story. In the journalism industry, particularly in the United States the term is sometimes spelled lede. “Lede” refers to one or two sentences, not multiple paragraphs. Journalistic leads emphasize grabbing the attention of the reader. In journalism, the failure to mention the most important, interesting or attention-grabbing elements of a story in the first paragraph is sometimes called “burying the lead.”

***

It’s a product of having come from the “old school” world of journalism, I suppose.

While pursuing an undergraduate degree in journalism, I was required to take an entire 18-week course on writing leads.

A beautifully crafted lead is a work of art. A substandard lead tarnishes every word that follows. Your lead is a “make or break” deal. Readers make an unconscious decision whether he will read on, or click off, after the first 30 words.

Here, I’ve written six leads that will lose me in a second. Some were published on WordPress today.

***

1. “Hello people! Haven’t blogged in awhile because I’ve been busy up to my neck. I finally started working on Friday and it has been “fun” if I can call it that. My boss is absolutely the nicest man ever, my colleagues are equally awesome, there’s free wifi! What more can a sister ask for? Well along with the job came more  work.” (Well hello right back at you!!!!! I’ve been wondering where you were!!! You’ve been busy? Really!!!  That’s awesome. I have no idea what this post is trying to say.)

2. “If your (sic) wondering where I’ve been lately, life’s just been to (sic) busy to be on the blog.” (With two fundamental grammatical errors, and ending with a string of three consecutive prepositional phrases, I pass on this one quickly.)

3. “Here’s a collection of musings, rants and ramblings from the last week.” (I don’t have time for ramblings; if you’re going to rant, please do it without telling me so, because I’ll be much more inclined to read; and I have no idea what a ‘musing’ is.)

4. “The hubs and I had the most awesome lunch today!” (I’m thrilled you and ‘theBlogging tips hubs’ enjoyed your fare and that you were so compelled to end with a slammer, but I refer you to the author of this book, whose sentiments I could not share more.)

5. “Needless to say, I was scared to death, but when reality set in, I knew we’d make the best of it.” (Congratulations on setting the world record for most cliche’s in a single sentence.)

6. “Another week of me being semi-lazy…” (I actually found this one in my reader today. Oh, how it compels me to read more…)

Want more readers?

Write good leads.

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