"The Shoemaker's Children"

Remember this old saying? The implication is that the shoemaker’s children often go unshod. And sadly, the truth of this adage applies across a broad spectrum. It happens with “PK’s” (Pastors' Kids),“MK’s” (Missionaries' Kids), and even “BK’s” (Builders’ Kids). A parent might dedicate their life to a particular calling, but neglect their own families in the same exact area.
But sometimes, gloriously, the shoemaker’s children have beautiful, handcrafted shoes. And when that happens, it should be celebrated!
Today, I want to celebrate Eddie Staub. Over 30 years ago, Eddie answered a calling from God to minister to hurting children. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Eagle Ranch, a children’s home in Chestnut Mountain, Ga. for children and their families in need of hope and healing. 
Eagle Ranch has continued to grow and flourish over the last 30 years. And it’s been one of the great honors of my adult life to serve on the Eagle Ranch Board of Directors.
Recently, Eddie wrote letters to his five adult children, his son-in-law, and his wife. I was thrilled to learn that the Leave Nothing Unsaid workbook helped him in the process. And I wanted to share his insights with you in hopes of inspiring others…especially men…to follow Eddie’s example with their loved ones.

Here are some of Eddie’s comments about his “shoemaking project:”
What prompted you to actually write the letters?
I had written letters to my children before, but wanted to do something much more comprehensive that they would be able to look back on and also to encourage them in their present lives.

You lost your own father when you were 20. Do you have any letters from him?
My own father was not very expressive and I wished that he had done something like this for my brothers and me.
What did you hope to accomplish with the letters?
The purpose of writing the letters was twofold. First, that it would be a keepsake for my children that they could look back on throughout their lives. And secondly –- and just as important -- is that I wanted them to see, in written form, my feelings and hopes for them.

It’s one thing to verbally say these things, but they take on another dimension when those same thoughts are written.
How did your children respond?
All my children responded differently to the letters, but the common thread was that they didn’t know how to respond, at least initially. I think they were very touched, but also somewhat embarrassed.

Did you write the letters by hand or type them?
Although my handwriting is not that good, I intentionally decided to write the letters rather than type them. I wanted my children to remember my handwriting, but most importantly, the effort it took to write 4-5 pages. There’s something about writing that communicates value, not just efficacy.

Did you give the letters for birthdays or a special occasion?
No special occasion.
How did the workbook help you in the letter writing process?
The workbook was very helpful in underscoring the need for specific traits/attributes that you celebrate in each child/spouse/friend. Specific stories which illustrated each of those traits was very impactful.

Was there some “always remember this” advice that you shared with all of your children?
Common advice I shared with all of them was:

  • Choose your inner circle of friends wisely, for they will be a reflection of who you are.
  • Safeguard and nurture your inner world (your soul) for out of it will spring the fruit of your outer world.
  • Be a giver through your time, talent and resources – in giving, you will receive far more.

Do you have any advice for other men about writing letters like this to their children or their spouse?
My advice to other men would be to not put this off; perhaps make it a goal for the coming year. I thought about what I was going to say to each child over the course of several months before I actually wrote the letters. It’s not something to be done lightly or to just scribble down some general thoughts.
Was it worth the investment of time?
I would wholeheartedly recommend writing these letters. There are many of us who never benefited from words of encouragement from those closest to us. Tomorrow is promised to no one and to have done this exercise for those closest to me was a high priority undertaking.
Here’s a man who has dedicated his life to helping other families and their children. But Eddie hasn’t neglected his own loved ones as he has built and led a thriving ministry.  The recent letters are one more example of his dedication to the sacred callings of husband and father.
Won’t you follow Eddie’s lead and spend the time leaving nothing unsaid…in writing…to those you love? Your children might not know how to respond, either. But you will have given them a priceless gift that will matter forever.
I hope you’ll also take a few minutes to learn more about the beautiful work being done at Eagle Ranch (www.eagleranch.org) to make life better for children and their families.