6 Things I Learned From My Dad, The Volunteer Firefighter

6 Things I Learned From My Dad, The Volunteer Firefighter

My dad has taught me many things and his experiences has given him more to teach.
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For my entire life, my dad has been a volunteer firefighter for my city. This is different than having a parent who is a full-time firefighter because you never know when the next call will come. It could be in the middle of dinner, during a soccer match, or even at 2 in the morning. There is never any noticed and once the pager goes off there is a feeling of urgency in the air. While growing up, I have become accustomed to certain things that most kids my age never had to think twice about.

Here are 6 things that I've experienced while having a firefighting father.

1. Waking Up At All Hours Of The Night

I have always been a deep sleeper but the second I heard the pager go off in my parent's bedroom, I was wide awake. I usually ended up staying awake until I heard my dad come back home so I knew he was back safe. Waking up in the middle of the night will not only affect you but your firefighter parent as well. Even when my dad doesn't have a call during the night I sometimes still hear him up and moving around because his mind has been trained to always be on alert.

2. Hearing Firetrucks Honk As They Drive By

Anytime there is a call where the trucks have to pass by my house I always know that I will hear them before I see them. Even when my dad is out of town or at the firehouse, they will never fail to honk their horns as a hello. It's almost a prideful feeling because those driving the trucks are taking a second to recognize my dad as a friend and as a firefighter.

3. Falling Quiet The Second A Call Comes In

The second a call comes in and the first tone of the pager rings out everyone in the vicinity goes quiet. It's almost second nature. My dad listens for where he will be heading off next and I listen for familiar roads of friends and family. This was a learned skill that my sisters and I all learned fairly quickly when we were younger.

4. Mistakenly Asking What The Worst Call Was

This was a mistake I made when I was still in elementary school. I asked my dad what was the worst firecall he had ever been to. I didn't realize this at the moment but by just asking the question I had forced my dad to relive that call in his mind. He never answered my question but instead told me to never ask him that again because that is something he will never share that memory.

5. Learning Fire Safety

From the earliest second of my life, I knew what to do in the event of a fire. We have our family meeting spot, all of the possible exits, which neighbor to go to if we have no other way to call 911. These lessons went into practice every time my mom burned food and my sisters and I would crawl down the hallway just to meet my dad at the bottom, laughing while telling us everything is okay. Even as he chuckled at us we could tell he was still proud that his lessons meant something for us. I also learned how to properly ventilate a house after catching garlic bread on fire in my microwave. Sorry, Dad.

6. Knowing I'll Always Be Protected and Loved

This was something I've always cherished. Knowing that my dad has dedicated nearly half his life helping others but still managed to prioritize his family, is something that I love about him. He has taught me how to fight for others and fight for myself. My dad is my hero. I know that no matter what event in life happens he will be by my side. Protecting me but not shielding me. He lets me make my own choices and if I get hurt I know he will be there to help me put myself back together.

Cover Image Credit: Lori Gonzalez

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Acts 1:8 Ministry Explains How To Teach Your Child To Be Charitable And Compassionate

Acts 1:8 Ministry, a non-profit organization based out of Wisconsin, believes in building strong community foundations with integrity and humility.

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There have been many natural disasters that have wreaked havoc in the United States and around the world such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Over the last few decades, the generosity of Americans has become well-known, and it's vital to inspire this charitable and compassionate concern for others down to future generations.

Acts 1:8 Ministry has helped enrich the lives of others around the globe through the support of generous donors and volunteers who want to help spread kindness, strengthen their faith, grow the Christian church, and improve communities. To pay it forward, Acts 1:8 Ministry explains below how parents can instill charitable and compassionate qualities in their children through word, action and leading by example.

Start At Home

If you have more than one child, you know there are those times they don't want to share toys, snacks, or even friends. Teaching siblings to share is less complicated when you teach your children why the love for each other is so important. In a family unit, each member depends on all the others. Parents provide shelter, food, clothing, and different needs. Children contribute by helping with chores, obeying house rules, and doing their homework. Mutual love and respect are what strengthens the family unit. Working and giving together teaches invaluable lessons to children and builds a secure family unit.

Working Together For Others

Donating time at a food pantry, shelter, or meal distribution center for low-income families or homeless folks in your local area teaches your children the importance of caring for those who are less fortunate. Explain why it is wrong to judge people who need free services to survive. Your children may encounter people who are dirty and wearing smelly clothes, and they need to know not to say anything that would hurt their feelings or embarrass them.

Giving Together For Others

If your state has a beverage deposit on soda, juice, and alcoholic beverages, you and your children can collect discarded cans and bottles. The money you receive from their redemption can be donated to a variety of charitable causes including animal shelters, food banks, clothing distribution centers, or a local charity you support. There is always a need for cash at all of these facilities. Plan annual family fundraisers, such as yard, craft, bake, and plant sales. Donate the money earned to one or more charitable projects the family chooses together.

Establish Charitable Habits

Establish habits and family routines to encourage charitable acts. Choose things that fit your family's lifestyle. Keep a large "charity" jar and place a dollar amount in it every time the family does something special such as going to the movies, spending a day at a water park, eating out, or taking a vacation. Whenever the family spends money on a fun adventure or outing, setting a little money aside to be used for those who don't have the same opportunities helps children understand the need for caring about other people. Other things you can do as a family include:

• Reduce the amount of clothing in your closets, and donate clean and undamaged items to a charity that distributes clothing to low-income families.

• Clean out the toys. Donate unbroken toys and games to homeless shelters that take in families or to a home for battered women and their children.

• Donate your time to visit a nursing home, and talk to different residents. Encourage your children to ask the older folks to tell stories about their childhood.

• Bake cookies or bread together and distribute to older people that live in your neighborhood. Have your children make a card to give with the food gift.

• Help a neighbor who has been sick with yard work, taking out the trash, or other chores he or she is not able to do.

Children love making others happy and will continue to feel the same way as adults if you help them establish the habits of caring, sympathy, helping, and compassion when they are young. By teaching children the core values of caring and compassion, future generations of Americans will continue to be the world's most generous and compassionate people.

About Acts 1:8 Ministry:

Acts 1:8 Ministry is a non-profit organization that equips Christians to care, share and connect people to Christ through Christian kindness. The Planned Acts of Christian Kindness® Program has touched thousands of lives in the US and over 100 countries worldwide. Through the Water Project, over 130 water wells drilled, blessing hundreds of thousands of lives with clean water.

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My Mom Is My Biggest Weakness In The Best Way Possible

Although my mom is still my parent, she's also a friend.

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My parents are everything to me. They raised me to be independent, strong, smart, and hard working. They made sure to keep me in line, to ensure that I would be respectful and responsible. They raised me to be prepared for the world before I graduated high school. For everything they've done, I'm very grateful.

Focusing on my mom more specifically, she is my weakness. By that I mean, I can go to her with anything and I know she's willing to listen, to be open, and she won't impart judgment.

My mom always knows how to calm me down, but she is the one person who can also make me cry harder. I don't mean this in a bad way. It's just that whenever I've had a tough day or my anxiety has been heightened by some ordeal, I know that if I see my mom or if I even call her over the phone, the waterworks come flooding. I don't know what it is about my mom that makes me feel so emotional, so vulnerable. Each time I go to her, it's almost as if I'm a kid again, crawling into her mother's arms, seeking a nurturing soul to tell me that everything will be okay.

Sometimes I even avoid calling my mom when I'm in a rut because I refuse to cry or feel weak. For instance, if I had a problem, I'd avoid talking to her about it. If a week goes by, I'll update her on my problems, and begin crying about it (even though I was already over it beforehand). My mom can bring out anything from me. She laughs when I tell her this because she knows that no matter how old her baby girl gets, she'll always need her mama.

I think as I've gotten older, I've realized how much more my parents mean to me. As a kid, I always felt like they were against me. I felt as if they didn't want me to do anything and didn't want me to grow. As an adult, I realize it's the exact opposite. My parents have always wanted what's best for me, and because I've grown to understand this, I feel so much closer to them.

I feel as though now, although my mom is still my parent, she's also a friend. She's someone I can go to when I feel down, someone I can go to for a good laugh. She's so much better than me in so many ways. She's outgoing, loud, obnoxious, smart, and is always seeing the good in situations. When I talk about my mom to other people, they're always so interested in meeting with her or talking with her. When they finally get the chance to, they're instantly drawn to her character. They're drawn to her laughter. I kid you not, my mom can light up a room in seconds. She is always the life of the party. It sometimes makes me jealous when people find out how amazing my mother is because I swear they'd rather be friends with her than me.

What people don't see is her struggles. They don't see the pain she goes through with her ongoing injury. They don't see that not only does it take a physical toll, but also an emotional toll. She hides it really well because that's what parents are "supposed to do." My mom is the strongest person I know and to see the two contrasts of her is astonishing. To think that someone so full of life can also battle personal struggles, it's hard to see, especially because she's my mom and all I want is the best for her. One part of my mom struggles while the other part of her is so vibrant, so full of life, so sassy.

I don't know how she's put up with all of the hardships in her life. I've never seen someone work so hard and refuse to fail. She refuses to be taken advantage of. I've never seen someone as amazing as my mother. She can do anything.

I think my mom looks down on herself sometimes. I think, like any woman, she sees imperfections. What I don't think she sees, that I wish she would, is the tenacity she has. I want her to see herself the way I do: beautiful, strong, courageous, sassy, outgoing. I could go on and on about how much my mom inspires me and how she's made me appreciate her in more ways than one.

Mom, thank you for all that you do and all that you are. I hope you know how much Rachel, Vanessa and I all love you. I hope you know that no matter what struggles we go through, you are our rock. You hold the fort down and you're always there to make sure we're good, even when you aren't yourself. Thank you for always thinking of us, for believing in us, and for never turning your back. I love you more than you know.

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