As I am strolling towards the entrance, I can hear laughter, and then applause drifting through the glass double doors as they open and close. The spring air had cooled in the last few hours as time crept forward into the evening, and now as I am walking through the doors of the church, I can see what all the applause is about. At the front of the chapel there are small children lined up on the stage and they are each presenting their work from the year. Some musicals, some artwork, and some speeches that have been rehearsed for weeks beforehand. It is the end of the year for Agape Christian Academy and proud parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts have gathered to see what the kids have been up to all these months.
My nephew was there, running around in the foyer, out the glass doors, and back in again. Fortunately, as the oldest brother of six boys, I’ve never had to have a workout plan; I just try to keep up with all my younger brothers! And now that we are all starting to pop out kids of our own, I get to look forward to chasing my nieces and nephews too.
Getting down on my knees is the best way for me to look Zeke in the eyes and see if he is actually listening to anything that I am saying. I think that we forget as adults what it was like to live in a world of tree legs, so when I remember, I try to kneel down and see what he sees and think what he thinks. After explaining to him for the tenth time that jumping off the garden wall outside might be dangerous, we walked back through the shining glass doors, and I squatted down again to survey the view from the eyes of an 18 month old. Right there in front of us I could see steel toed boots, dusty work boots, farmers boots, and the tennis shoes of moms who had the remnants their kiddos’ lunches and dinners still stained on top of the laces. I could see the love of parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts who had just worked 10-12 hours yet still walked, limped, and hustled their way down to see their pride and joy, the children of our future, perform on the last night of school.
It was a moment that struck me in a special way, because I understood anew something that I’ve known all along about this beautiful county. It’s filled with hard working, dusty booted dreamers. Everywhere I turn, I run into entrepreneurs like myself, trying to reach their dreams. Moms and dads working two or three jobs to get ahead and get caught up. Grandparents taking their grown kids and grandkids into their homes again so they can get back on their feet. We are all out there chasing big dreams. Sometimes we fail, and sometimes we win; but the thing that stands out to me, is the enormous hearts, the kind words, and the persistence of the dreamers here in our county.
When you get down on a toddler’s level and see what they see, sometimes you are reminded of what this all means, and what life is about. It was such a pleasure to have this truth painted on the canvas in front of me once again. I’m proud to be here, and proud to know so many of you. Here’s to more dusty boots, and bigger dreams. I think we’re all gonna make it. We’re all gonna make it big – for us and for our kids – someday soon.
Do you know someone hopeful, dedicated, and hardworking? Tell us about someone who inspires you in the comments below.