Leaving His Mark Upon My Life

Three letters, S-E-A. Who could ever imagine the magnitude of the legacy they would leave behind? When did I first see those initials? That’s right, it was when I was helping mom reconcile the Napa Auto Parts charge tickets at our family’s Texaco station. Asking who signed for those parts, mom replied, “That’s Dad’s signature boy. Don’t you even know his name?” I knew folks called him Stewart, Stu, or Mr. Adams, but his initials were new to me. I wondered what the “E” stood for.

My dad used his initials to sign everything. Checks, charge tickets, and fuel invoices. Some months later—when watching him pay shop bills one evening—I noticed he used an embossing stamp that lived on his desk on every check he wrote. The large brass stamp had a lever that majestically pointed skyward above his desk. Its polished surface looked so impressive to a poor kid who had never even seen a desk outside of the schoolhouse before. I asked him once why he embossed every check.

His response was profound to a 15-year-old. My dad took a sheet of paper and placed it between the jaws of his fancy desk tool. Then he lowered the lever, returned it to its upright position, and withdrew the paper. Dad invited me to run my fingers over the embossed seal. Pretty impressive, I thought; it’s like it becomes official or something. As I looked at him, he explained. “That seal is my mark. There’s not another one like it, it’s mine and mine alone. It’s my guarantee that I will stand behind every document bearing that seal.”

He explained how he viewed that stamp as a sign of his integrity, honor, and faithfulness. “I want my name to mean something”, he said. “When I emboss each check, I guarantee that I will stand behind it. It is my promise to stand good on everything I do.” I didn’t realize it back then, but I had received my first lesson in what it meant to Ride for the Brand. Words like honor and integrity weren’t mere words to my dad. He taught me their value by the way he lived them out in his life.

I think back over the decades of my life and I can remember how business people would greet me, even long after I had left working at dad’s garage. They would ask, “You’re one of Mr. Adams’ boys, aren’t you?” With my affirmation, there was nothing more that needed to be said. His name was all the collateral I needed for store credit, bank loans, and help of any kind.

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After dad’s entry into Heaven’s glory, my sister Sue asked me what I wanted of my dad’s possessions. I shared he had long ago gave me his vintage 1940s armature lathe and how I display it in the farm office in the workshop. I added that rather than the Model T or anything of value, the item with greatest value to me was his brass embossing tool that sat on his desk.

With no markings to show date of manufacture, my Dad’s embossing stamp could be as old as I am. I noticed when he lived with us here in Texas that the upper portion didn’t make as good an impression as it did years ago. Another example of how my dad impacted my life appeared as I applied the problem-solving techniques he taught me as a young man. The summary of this technique—of which I’ve benefitted from my entire adult life—consists of examining the issue, understanding the root cause, and then applying a corrective action.

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Like his life itself, the old stamp showed the visible signs of a lifetime of faithful service. Its once-perfect finish now tarnished and worn; and it doesn’t work as well as it used to. In noticing how my dad’s embossing stamp had been well-used and worn down through its life, I considered how the same thing happens in our lives. Our levers are depressed and pressure applied from all sides many times (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). When we are in Christ, however, the more we allow God to use us, the more valuable we become in His kingdom.

Theorizing that the lever and piston shaft were worn down through the many decades of use, I placed a penny between the upper plate and the piston. To prove my theory, I stamped a Post-It note. The entire image was once again crisp and clear. We solved another problem together Dad. Thank you again for your many gifts.

As my days of celebratory grieving for my dear friend, confidant, and mentor continue, I pray God fills them with precious memories of the lessons he shared. I hope many of you who have lost parents, grandparents, and other loved ones who enriched your lives will reflect upon the marks they left upon you. Also, I pray you will consider the mark God has left on your life in Christ. If you can’t see it clearly, then dear friend, it might not be there. Jesus Christ can remedy that with just one heartfelt request.

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If not, then you can solve it using my Father’s problem-solving technique.

  • Examine the issue: Lack of salvation.
  • Identify the root cause: The sin curse upon mankind.
  • Apply the corrective action: Surrender your life to God’s matchless grace, available only through Christ’s salvation.

God’s blessings,

Please join me each Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.

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40 thoughts on “Leaving His Mark Upon My Life

  1. I visualized the lever and his “impression”. My Dad left words that echo to this day- knowledge is power, live with honor, integrity, and sincerity, and to his grands especially-beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    1. Sounds like your dad shared a lot of wisdom too Ms. Marilyn. I pray that both you and I are able to do that with those coming behind us. Oh, the treasures we hold in our hearts my friend. Thank you!

  2. I’m in the same grieving boat as you are at this time, J. D., allowing memories of my mother to course through my mind. One phrase she would always repeat to us as we were growing up was, “Treat others as you want to be treated.” I’m glad she loved this message from the Lord and wanted to make sure her children did, too.
    Blessings!

    1. Thank you Ms. Martha. Some great words your mama shared ma’am. I pray you’ll understand this, but my grieving for my beloved dad is different than any I’ve experienced before. There’s been very few tears, and my analytical mind is trying to wrap itself around why that is. Is it because I spent time preparing dad for that day? Was it because God answered my prayers to bring him home peacefully and mercifully so he didn’t have to enter a nursing facility he so wanted to avoid? Is it God’s reward/blessing for the caring I poured into my dad in the last years? I can’t say; and more I can’t know if the tears will one day come. All I can do is trust that our Lord is holding us fast and safe and He will be faithful to see us through this season. God’s blessings; and know you and your family are in my prayers.

    1. Thank you Ms. Gail. I sometimes wonder what legacy I’ll leave behind for others. I pray that like my dad, it’s one worthy of a “well done my good and faithful servant.”

  3. I’ve been marked by quite a few people in my life and I expect, there are more to come before its over. Each one adds their likeness in words or deeds enhancing my own. Thank you for sharing your illustration.

    1. Yes ma’am. We are indeed a culmination of those who have impacted our lives, in many ways. I was thinking of your girls (Jayme, Hero, June-bug, and many others I’m sure) and of the wonderful legacy of godly love you are pouring into them. I can see how your zeal for exploring, learning, caring, and creating is being carried forward in these young people already. God’s blessings ma’am.

  4. My dad’s birthday is coming up on he 7th of this month. He taught me so much, especially about work integrity. When I got my first job at 16, he told me, “Always do your best, because no one is indispensable.” That is why I always tried to give 150% every day. But he also made sure that his family was in church every Sunday morning and night, and every Wednesday night. And he always led us in devotions before bedtime. Even after my sister and I moved out, if we went back to stay overnight, we were “invited” to participate in devotions. Every night my dad mentioned his daughters, our husbands, our children, and our grandchildren by name in his prayers. He was a wonderful father and I still miss him.

    1. Sounds like our dad’s were certainly cut from the same cloth Ms. Edwina. As busy as my dad was (owning a small business, husband, father, friend, etc.), he always made sure we were in church on Sundays, we learned something new each day, and we understood that what we do has an impact on those around us. While I have a lifetime of memories I can draw upon, I think my two favorites were of our Sunday afternoon drives and our early morning conversations when he was with us here in Texas. What I treasure most about those mornings is that we were much more than Father and Son, but friends who could share anything with one another. We have been blessed indeed haven’t we my friend? 🙂

  5. Gosh, this one almost brought me to tears, sir. What an incredible tribute to the powerful mark left on you by both your earthly and heavenly fathers. I hope you know the mark of integrity and encouragement you’ve left on so many of us.

  6. What a beautiful tribute to your dad, my friend. I know he is proud of you. And you, of course are remembering the love, teaching, and wonderful mentorship your dad shared with you. Now you are sharing that gift of love with others. So glad you got your dad’s stamp and thankful for this wisdom and the blessing you shared through this week’s message.

    1. Thank you Ms. Katherine. Sometimes I find that my writing is meant to help me; it’s my way of sharing with God. And when it touches others, the blessings are multiplied. Your friendship, kindness, and encourage are exactly that ma’am, a wonderful blessing.

  7. TV shows like Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, or Ozzie & Harriet were often maligned because folks said they were unrealistic. Each plot always had an opportunity for the children to receive wise fatherly advice. Sounds like Mr. Adams proved those television programs were right all along.

    1. Thank you Ms. Dottie. I agree ma’am. I’ve often wondered if a major contributing factor to what we’ve seen happening in our families today is because many dad’s no longer take the time to be dad and husband to their family. It seems, sometimes, that men have forgotten how important their role is.

  8. That’ll preach, Mr J.D. Adams Wininger. What I remember of my dad’s words (died in ‘85) were, “What did you learn today?” If only I had thought of those high school years’ questions as important enough to apply every day. Thanks for the recollection and the answer to God’s plan in our lives.

    1. Thank you Mr. Warren. My dad used to ask my brother Paul and I that very question at the supper table each evening. I remember leaning over to Paul, who was legally blind and didn’t read much, many times while dad was washing up to share something from the day’s newspaper, etc. 🙂 Otherwise, it was off to get the dictionary and learn a new word. What wonderful lessons our dad’s has taught us in their lives my friend.

  9. Just like your dad’s embossing tool, so God has left His mark on each one of us. I’ve heard pastors say that believers are sealed or stamped by the Holy Spirit. During the Tribulation, unbelievers will be stamped or sealed with the mark of the beast. Satan has a counterfeit for everything God does! I’m very glad to be stamped with the Name of Jesus and marked by His sinless blood! Thanks for another great post, J.D. Blessings! 🙂

    1. Amen Ms. Karen! We all have a choice to make don’t we ma’am. We can allow God’s grace to save us by surrendering our lives to Him and choosing eternal life or we can do nothing and the the decision will be made for us. I’ve wondered of late how many proclaiming Christians who are left behind will choose to accept the mark of the beast over finally surrendering their life fully to Christ.

  10. I am thankful God gives us people who mentor and show us the way to Him. Your descriptions bring back memories of the many lessons my Daddy taught me. He showed me the love of Christ through his actions and his words. Thank you for this inspiring message.

    1. Such truths Ms. Melissa. When I see what you are pouring into your grandson Rowan, what I see so many of friends here pouring into their families, I am strengthened by your examples. Let us each purpose ourselves to give the best of us to those around us. That “best” always comes from God. Thank you for your comments my friend.

  11. What precious memories of an honorable father whose word was his bond–and his initials. When I was a teen, it was popular to melt a special kind of wax and press a tool with your initial into it–on the back of an envelop. I loved that. I didn’t think at the time of it being a commitment of “truth”. Now I primarily think of it as applying to the seal of the Holy Spirit. I think a kind of tool like your dad’s with an engraving of the Holy Spirit’s name would be a great visual aid for all of us.

    1. Yes ma’am. I remember the signet stamps. I think you can still find those and the wax in craft stores. I thought that was a cool method of authentication also. And like you, I’m so very glad to be sealed by the Holy Spirit; to be set aside for God. Thank you so much for your kind words ma’am. I too hope others can see that God has marked me as His by the way I live my life.

  12. I must say the Cross-Dubya Ranch seems to be carrying on the legacy. Nice thoughts, nice momento of your Dad, Stewart Adams.

    1. I pray it does Ms. Karen. I pray it does. As our brand indicates, we put Christ first in everything we do here. My dad did much the same in his life also. God’s blessings my friend.

  13. Sorry to be late getting this out to you, J.D., but I loved this piece. It was like an open window into parts of my life that I don’t visit nearly as much as I ought to. I didn’t have a dad that shared things like that with me, but I had a couple of uncles who stepped up and taught lessons that have stayed with me through all the years that followed. I love your problem solving technique and will respectfully borrow it and share it. The days at the garage you shared were special, of course, since I had some of those too. God bless you for another masterful, heart-touching, uplifting, and powerful reflection, especially the challenge at the end.

    1. Ever grateful that you take the time to review my posts, articles, etc. Mr. Ron. I’m truly a blessed man sir. From what I’ve seen, I’d say your uncles did one great job of preparing you to become the man of God you are sir. Am honored to call you friend. Thank you sir!

  14. Oh, J.D. this is heart-moving and soul-stirring. How blessed to have your dad’s lessons on integrity and standing behind his “marked.” My grandmothers were godly women of deep character. I was in high school and college before the Lord sent mentors into my life, divine appointments, who modeled these valuable characteristics including spiritually!

    This spoke to me: “When we are in Christ, however, the more we allow God to use us, the more valuable we become in His kingdom.”

    1. Ms. Karen, I wonder if I’ll ever fully understand the depth of love my adopted family had/has for me, or the love that God has for me. In all cases, I know I’m unworthy. But grace. But God. Thank you so much for your sweet thoughts and wonderful comments ma’am.

  15. J.D., this post warmed my heart as I thought about the impact your parents made on your life and what I remember from my parents. I write a lot about my mom—sometimes I think too much. However, the longer I live, the more I realize lessons she taught me. “Of course, you can,” was her answer whenever I doubted my ability to do something. She was a cheerleader for all she loved. My dad shared and followed the advice Bambi’s mother shared in the movie: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I know bits of my life reflect my parents. I pray that my life will increasingly reflect Jesus, my Savior. Thanks, J.D.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Ms. Jeannie. As I read your comments ma’am, I learned the name of an article/Bible study you are going to write; “The Mirror of My Soul”. Oh, how you reflect the goodness and love poured into you by your parents, and by your loving Father in heaven my friend. Like a signaling mirror, you reflect God’s grace, mercy, love, and glory throughout your life dear friend. I wish I had listened more closely to Bambi’s mother, and my God-given adopted parents. Like you, I pray I can continue to reflect all that Jesus is doing in my life too ma’am. God’s blessings.

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