Talents and gifts

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 3.40.07 PMEvery good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

I have few, if any, notable gifts or talents.

I guess I’m sorta funny. I can string a few sentences together time to time. Still, I’m not gifted with any particular skill or talent that sets me apart. I have no superpowers.

In school, I was one of the smart kids, I guess, mostly due to a Catholic school education. Still, that’s not a big deal really, in Catholic school everybody is expected to be one of the smart kids – being a slouch was not an option.

When I got to Arkansas in the 1970’s I likely would have been put into the “gifted and talented” program if they had existed at the time but that would have been bogus. I wasn’t gifted or talented. I just got a leg up due to my education, understood how to study, how to take a test and could pay attention in ways that helped me succeed in the classroom environment.

It was no gift. It was not talent. I was just a little more savvy than my peers where school work was concerned.

My wife has gifts and talents.

She can sing the birds out of the trees. Sometimes, rarely, I forget this and she’ll just belt something out and leave me speechless. It’s particularly noteworthy when she sings at church and she’s lost in worship. It can give me chills. People sitting around us have been known to stop her and comment on her voice after the service. She, strangely, thinks I don’t like to listen to her sing. Not sure where that comes from, so here, in writing, I’m saying I love her voice.

She has other uncanny abilities.

She can make friends with anyone, developing an instant rapport with a total stranger. Her old boss at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette would say she had a “talk to me” face. She does. I’m glad she used this power for good as a journalist and now as an entrepreneur and didn’t use it for evil and go into sales.

My daughter has her own set of  talents and gifts.

She has a way with animals. She can calm a horse with a gentle touch, or lure a feral cat into arm’s reach with her soft voice and endless patience. She taught her first house cat to do a variety of acrobatic tricks, leaping about like a contestant on Pet Star. If her superpower has any kryptonite it’s chickens, who don’t seem to respond to her mojo. Nobody’s perfect.

From and early age she’s shown a talent for art.

The first horses she drew had an amazing vitality to them. They looked for all the world like they could have been painted on the teepee  or been proudly displayed on the shield of a Sioux warrior.

Her artist’s eye carries over to photography and video editing. She’s done some wonderful animated music videos and even done a few short films, notably The Glove, which is likely up for Oscar consideration.

My buddy and business partner Greg Moody is an artist of note. He’s always been encouraging of my daughter’s talent. He told us early on that most kids have an artistic bent of some sort, but they put it aside sometime in late childhood or early adolescence and never revisit it, so it withers. The secret, he said, is to never stop doing things that are artistic.

So, with that sound advice, my wife and I have tried to encourage our daughter’s art. Be it with a digital camera, or a computer with video editing capabilities or paints or canvases when birthdays and Christmas roll around.

Her most recent acquisition is an art tablet that she can connect to her computer to do all sorts of drawing. She worked hard to earn the money for it, changing doorknobs in our house, babysitting, extra chores, and she even hauled out all my old SCA armor and helm and polished and saddle soaped till she was nearly cross-eyed.

She taught herself to use the device and as I write this is spending her Sunday afternoon doing a feline version of Harry Potter she calls Hairy Pawter. It’s just one of her series of cats that she’s done recently including this pretty scary fellow who I like a lot.

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Seeing her lost in her art makes me happy. Seeing her finished products makes me proud. Working to keep her God-given gift alive gives me a sense of satisfaction.

Who knows, someday maybe she’ll make her living as an artist, or a cinematographer, an equine scientist, or a rancher.

No matter what the future holds I pray she’ll foster her gifts, not only for her sake but for the sakes of those around her.

Art, song, compassion, and empathy are the real talents.

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