There are some people who are a part of your life for a long time. There are others who are a part of it just for a season. The length of time isn't the most important, it is the love and the advice that they give that can change your world for good.
When I was in college, I got pretty involved with anything and everything that I could on campus. Each time I applied to join a student organization, there was the mandatory, and eventually routine, interview. The senior members of the organization would do their best to understand and capture the kind of person sitting across the table from them and determine how valuable they might be as a future member. One of the questions that I eventually found to be on just about every interviewer's "approved questions" list was this:
"What is some of the best advice you have ever been given?"
This is a tough one for me because I was very fortunate to have received a lot of good advice growing up. But the one statement that changed the course of my formative junior high and high school years was this:
"The best thing I ever did in high school was start a lawn mowing business. The biggest regret I had in high school was that I didn't learn to play a musical instrument."
Those were the words of the best Sunday School teacher I ever had. Jeff and Holly Blandford taught my 4th and 5th grade Sunday School class. They were the young married couple that were way more fun than the other teachers. They didn't seem so old and they were always coming up with fun ways to do boring "church stuff." I look back on the times that I had in Sunday School and I think of their class.
When it was time to "graduate" to the junior high class, Jeff gave us the charge. That was when he talked about his lawn mowing business and wishing he had learned to play an instrument. I am very proud to say that a year later I started Reliable Lawncare and began what has become an amazing journey as an Entrepreneur who is pretty good at sales. I am also very proud to say that my Senior year in highschool, almost 6 years later, I remembered that I still needed to learn how to play a musical instrument. I went to Guitar Center, asked the clerk how to play a chord, and strummed 20+ guitars until I found the one that I liked best. I walked out without a clue as to how to actually play, and with the help of my friend Grant, learned and used that guitar on a CD that Grant and I recorded with a song he and I wrote that summer.
To this day, the lessons from my lawn mowing business and the stress relief I receive from strumming my guitar are a huge part of my life. The impact of Jeff's advice still reaches into my daily life. And that is why, when I learned of Jeff Blandford's passing yesterday on January 14, 2010 I was shocked. I know that the story of Jeff and Holly's impact on the countless kids that came through their Sunday School class are countless. But this is my story and the impact that Jeff made on me and my life.
Thank you Jeff. Our prayers are with you Holly, Josh, Sarah.