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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Woodard’

Happy Birthday My Friend

Today is my dear friend Jeff’s birthday.  We’ve now worked together for over twenty-four years, and in that time we’ve become like brothers.  We started out as peers, both working as supervisors in the plant’s decontamination facility.  He ran the crew that worked the large parts, and I had the crew that did the smaller parts.  Jeff had started out as a worker, years before I got to the plant; and I started as a supervisor, after finishing my time in the military.  The first thing I noticed about him was his pension for practical jokes, and I quickly assumed that he just wasn’t a very serious person.  But in the years since, I’ve discovered that he is actually one of the most thoughtful and diligent people I have ever known.  He is passionate about the things he believes, and he tries to live his life by them.  After a few years, Jeff became my boss, and working for him was a real pleasure.  Because he believes that family comes first, it was never a problem when situations arose at home.  No matter what that cost him in terms of the work, it was a price he was willing to pay so that people could be there for their families.  That is typical of my friend Jeff.  He is a man of principle and character.  Being around him caused me to take a hard look at my own character, and I didn’t like what I saw.  His example convicted me, and was a meaningful part of the inspiration that eventually caused my own life to turn.

 

Growing up in the Catholic Church, I was always taught that Saint Jude was the patron saint of lost causes, but I’m pretty sure that Jeff has now taken that baton.  He always seems to find himself at the helm of some ship that appears to be headed for its doom.  Whether that’s putting a new engine in some ancient mini-van, or running an old, under-staffed, & perpetually under-funded facility; or pastoring a church that has only a handful of congregants left; or giving a second chance to people who everyone else has already written off; or reaching out to families in a local housing project that have long since been forgotten by their neighbors; or running an annual Vacation Bible School to teach under privileged kids about Jesus. He instinctively steps up to take the job that no one else really wants, and holds out hope where there seems to be none.

 

Through the years we have labored, learned, and laughed together. We have embarrassed ourselves just to get a laugh, and we’ve prayed through tears for our family and friends. Hanging around Jeff has inspired me to be a better man, and our friendship continues to be a source of great blessing in my life. My hope is that I could one day be as good a friend to him, as he has been to me. So today, on the 61st anniversary of his birth, I celebrate, and thank God for my dear friend Jeff. Happy Birthday Brother!

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