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I come from a people who...

Who am I?

My name is Ryan. I come from a people who shared values, music, faith, education, and life lessons. From them I learned the importance of family, integrity, fun, faith, and music. My people have shaped me into who I am today. I am the result of a wonderful family heritage; a bit of which I'll share...

My Grandpa Ralph was a World War II Army Veteran, a linguistics teacher, and reading specialist. He taught us the importance of country, patriotism, education, and especiallyreading. He was the one that gave us books for Christmas (which we secretly complained about), many of which I still have. To this day, I read several books at a time and am still unable to throw any of them away. Grandpa Ralph was always very interested in the details of each person's life. He taught me that we are all individuals, and each of us matter. He and my grandmother also led YMCA camps for many years. Here we gained countless campfire songs, stories, games, and learned to cherish moments sitting in groups talking, singing, and just being together.

My Grandpa Harold and his wife Deborah were ministers in the Nazarene Church for many years. They shared their faith, their trust in the Lord, many hymns, and the value of meaningful relationships. They touched countless lives; I’m sure many more than they were even aware of.

Grandma Dotty taught us that there is no dream too large to achieve. At the age of nine, she told her mother that she would one day own a real live elephant. Some 50-years later, she brought back to her home it Etna, California, a baby African elephant which she named Akili. My brothers, cousins, and I spent our summers at their place – helping with Akili, bailing hay, laying a railroad, scooping poop, wrestling goats, sorting screws, and doing whatever else she and Grandpa could come up with to keep us busy. It’s a topic for an entire book; it made a tremendous impact on who I am.

My mother was a professional musician; a harpist, and music teacher. She instilled in me a passion for music and life. Mom was one of the most optimistic, positive, loving and thoughtful people you will ever meet. From her I’ve gained my own love for music – singing, playing guitar, piano (and whatever other instrument I can get my hands on), she gave me my smile, and before she passed, she shared with me a glimpse into Heaven.

Dad has been the steady foundation for my life. When I was very young he drove truck; then eventually went to work for the phone company. Dad sacrificed to be able to provide for his family; often having to work long hours, commute, and do what needed to be done to keep his four boys fed. Dad instilled in me a priceless value; that of discernment. Calm in the face of crisis, peace when all seems chaotic, and the ability to decipher a situation and move in a direction.

I’m the youngest of four boys. This position in life has had significant impact on my character, style, and perspective. These stories and lessons are endless. My brothers are my closest friends; my rocks, my blood, my family. They helped me understand that blood is thicker; the world can go sideways, my brothers will remain. I have children today in part to give others a chance at powerful sibling relationships.

I'm married to an intelligent, passionate, wonderful, beautiful – inside and out - woman. She keeps everything together; the house, the kids, the family, and me. My wife is my very best friend. She’s the one I can spend every moment of a week with, and the next moment we’re apart, I miss her. She instilled in me that it’s okay to speak out. It’s okay to cry. Open communication is critical to effective relationships. She’s been the subject of many of my songs; all of which I’m told can’t be big hits as they only share what’s wonderful; not strife and pain. Oh well… Without her, I’d be a pretty unbalanced, wandering mess.

Words don't express the love a parent has for his children; they are truly wonderful little creatures that I get joy from every day. They are little people; ages 4 ½, 2 ½, and 8 months. While there are moments when I wonder how the world is populated, the majority of the time I can’t get enough of them. Their little personalities, perspectives, and constant growth are a joy that cannot be described in words. I haven’t a clue how to be a good parent; I’m sure I’m wreaking havoc on their futures on a daily basis, but darn it if I’m not doing my best. Each phase of their lives is different; each awesome in its own way. They help me stay grounded on what’s important in life. The world can get me down, they still want to be with me, hear my stories. They remind me that it’s important to play. They help me to cherish the small moments – conversation before we fall asleep, reading books, telling stories, sharing what we’ve learned.

I have an amazing circle of friends; many of whom I've known since elementary school, all of whom I implicitly trust and cherish. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have built these relationships; friends from all circles, backgrounds, styles. Some I speak with on a regular basis, some a time or two a year. All of them, I would go far out of my way to help, support, or even just to say hello. I’m certain they would do the same for me.

I've studied many religions, faiths, and belief systems. As a result, I am a believer and follower of Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, and his son, Jesus Christ, who was tortured, ridiculed, and hung from a cross that I may have the freedom to screw up and still find salvation. I believe that it is God’s sole wish to have all of His children united with him in Heaven. He will use the Holy Spirit to interact in our lives so that we might find Him and lead others to do the same. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction; it’s a law of the universe. I believe there is evil in the world that would have us absent from God. We are tempted on a daily basis to stray from Him; it’s in our best interest to avoid that temptation, learn from it, and seek God’s direction. I believe there is a place called Heaventhat is in the presence of God. I believe we will all be given an opportunity to accept or deny His invitation. I believe Hell to be a place absent of God. When I look around on a daily basis, I see evidence of God in nearly everything - creation, interactions, coincidence, beauty, sickness, health, life, and death. I wouldn’t want to be in a place absent of Him. I believe that we should never stop seeking Him and His truth, questioning that which we think we know, and we will not be led astray.

My mission and purpose is to positively impact lives. I do this through my work in providing financial guidance, teaching philanthropy, through music, sharing, and hopefully in daily interactions. People are precious and unique; each has a heart, ambitions, struggles, fears, and motivations. Many are lost, many are found; most are seeking. Seek and ye shall find…

That’s a smidge about me. So who are you? Can you comment on this thread by completing these three lines?

My name is….

I come from a people who…

And from them I learned (or received)….

Try it. You’ll learn about you; I’ll learn about you, and we’ll both be better for it.

(Thanks to my friend and colleague, Scott Farnsworth, for sharing the “I come from a people who…” concept!)

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