Proverbs 27:23 – Know well the condition of your flocks and give attention to your herds.

Gratitude Day 847

There are some people who just leave their fingerprints all over your life. For good reason.

Repeatedly, my dad has been in my thoughts this week. Maybe this is because he would have turned 90 on Thursday. Next week, Hubby Rick and I will be venturing to the Wisconsin State Fair next week with our grandson who will be exhibiting beef cattle at the fair for the first time. I wish my Dad could be a part of this.

Truth? My thoughts of Dad began last Saturday when I was at the county fair that I participated in as a youth. For a very special reason.

I was just a young girl when I enrolled in 4-H. Single digits. The first year, I participated in the Exploring project where kids have the opportunity to try a variety of things. The following year, I enrolled in the projects that I really wanted to: dairy cattle, sheep, sewing. Something else? I can’t quite remember. From my early days of 4-H, my parents supported and encouraged participation. Not only for me, but my siblings and other neighborhood kids.

It wasn’t a surprise. My parents actually met at the Boone County Fair in Iowa. My mom was 13 or 14 years old and my dad three years older. They grew up showing cattle together. Dad exhibited dairy at the Iowa State Fair. My siblings and I did the same at the Wisconsin State Fair. Years ago, my niece showed sheep at the Minnesota State Fair. Another niece and nephews showed at the Wisconsin fair.

There are many, many life lessons that I learned from my dad. A hard work ethic. Being honest. Not to expect someone else to do something unless you are willing to do it yourself. Probably one of the most important lessons he taught by his actions is to give back. If something is important to you, then you support this with your time, talents, gifts and service.

This is what my Dad did. He was a leader and dairy superintendent at the county fair for years. Actually, decades. Long after his children graduated out of youth organizations, he continued to give back and support the hopes and dreams of other youth. There are life lessons in learning the discipline and skills to prepare an animal or other project. I use these skills on a weekly basis; ones that my dad embraced and modeled throughout his life.

My siblings and I often did not have the best animals. My dad taught me, actually us, that we should do our very best with what we had. We learned to be happy “losers” and congratulate those who did well. The color of the ribbon was never as important as the effort behind the award.

Last weekend, my dad’s service to the county fair came full circle. In 2007, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award. It is the highest honor granted to someone who has been involved in this county fair. This award recognized the decades of service my dad contributed to the fair. In the early 1980’s, Dad and two other gentlemen, started a livestock sale. Since then, kids have had the opportunity to raise market animals which were sold at an auction. Many a youth sold animals to help financially with their post-high school education. Or use the funds to jumpstart a dream in their lives. Dad, Joe and Sam saw how other counties offered this opportunity. They asked friends to help them, local businesses to support the auction and a great tradition was born. For years, Dad, Joe and Sam “worked” the sale. As my dad’s health declined, helping at the auction was the last volunteer position he gave up at the county fair.

When Dad received this award, it was quite emotional for him. He never wanted recognition for his service. He was happy to simply do what was necessary to help kids achieve a goal, just as he had watched his own children grow through their youth experiences.

I was so proud when last weekend the Distinguished Service Award was given to another Deaton. This time, my sister Debbie received the award. Much like my dad, Debbie has given so much time, energy, talents and gifts to the county fair. For several years, Debbie coordinated the various aspects of the fair from fundraising, getting awards, volunteers, judges, adults and youth to make sure everyone had a great experience. Debbie did much of this work behind the scenes, simply taking care of what needed to be done so everything seemed to happen seamlessly. She successfully organized one of the only show opportunities held in Wisconsin during the first summer of COVID. Devoted to details and organization, Debbie developed a team of people who love watching kids do something they enjoy. They worked together to make things happen.

Fortunately, my other sister, Denise, and I were able to present when Debbie received her award. It was not lost on us that Debbie received the same award my dad had several years earlier. He would have been so proud to see her carry on what he modeled and taught us to do.

Personally, I have felt pride in watching Debbie do the things that my dad faithfully did for years. Because she had the opportunity to participate in such a youth event, she wanted other youth to have the same opportunity. She made sure hundreds of kids from Eau Claire County could live out their dreams as well.

The scripture verse from Proverbs at the beginning of this post says:

Know well the condition of your flocks and give attention to your herds.

Literally, this is exactly what my dad did. For my siblings and me. For hundreds of other kids over the course of decades. He knew that paying attention to the details of raising animals and exhibiting them would be lifelong lessons youth would use throughout their lifetimes. Any youth who brought an animal to the fair was part of his “flock.” Dad made sure youth had opportunities to learn. Sometimes, this meant his own kids might have to make a little sacrifice for the benefit of another youth. He knew this was the right thing to do and convinced his kids of this. And we are better people because of this.

In this world, there are givers and there are takers. My dad was a giver. So is my sister Debbie. My parents modeled the art of giving, sometimes to the point where our family made sacrifices for the benefit of others. I do not regret this. In fact, I pray that I embrace this attitude today. It was a wonderful life lesson that has stayed with me well into adulthood. Maybe this explains why I say “yes” more often than I should. If saying “yes” means someone else will benefit, then I do not consider it a sacrifice. It’s a way that I can give and pay forward the lessons I learned from my parents.

Think about what “flocks” are under your care. What “herds” deserve your unending attention? These are not light questions because how we answer them reflects upon the choices and decisions we make in our daily lives.

My dad was not perfect. He made plenty of mistakes. So have I, my siblings and everyone around me. There have been times when I have been discouraged by my mistakes. I have spoken or written ill words that I wished I had not. I have had opportunities to give and chose not to. These same things happened to my dad. When they did, I witnessed within him the choice to keep going, keep giving, keep seeking to make sure he helped someone else along the way.

These are important lessons that I learned from my dad. Ones I have embraced and ones I have witnessed my sisters live out in their lives. I pray that in sharing my story, you will be encouraged to think about who is someone that deserves a Distinguished Service Award for how they have helped you along the way. If possible, give them a shout-out. A thank you. Dad and Debbie – I hope you will accept this little Distinguished Service Award from me. Your efforts are truly appreciated.

For those who are the givers in this world, I am very grateful.

Blessings –


Holy God – this world needs givers. People who look at others and decide they want to help them. May we always see the great sacrifices that You have made for our benefit. And may we not be shy about naming the Distinguished Service People in our lives. Amen.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who will also enjoy it.

Comments are closed