Randy W. Allen, an Austin, Texas friend who writes a periodical newsletter called Spring Rain, recently penned that he dislikes Frank Sinatra’s recording of “I Did It My Way,” even though he enjoys Sinatra’s singing very much.
The title conveys a selfish bragging tone, Randy explained. “Whenever I take the reins, it doesn’t work out,” he said, “but when I give myself over to God’s inspiration I find providence and good things happen.” I agree with Randy.
He writes when he feels moved. Sometimes Spring Rain appears every few weeks or sometimes six months or more between missives.
An Iowa farm boy who started a highly successful grain merchandising and farm financial advisory firm, Allen has accumulated a plethora of experiences that can be described as good, occasionally profitable and – like all of us – sometimes difficult. Along the way he has helped many farmers in business decisions, and many more through his prayer ministries, fund-raising and volunteer work.
The lure of “trying to have things my way” has affected many people engaged in agriculture during recent boom years, Allen observed. Many poured their profits into over-priced land, expensive machinery and luxuries, and now are marginalized.
Bankers and Federal Reserve officers with whom he confers regularly estimate that 2-8 percent of current farmers will not be able to continue farming after the current year and probably more will succumb after the 2016 crop year.
“It’s particularly sad,” Randy commented, “that many of these operators bought new pickup trucks and items they could have done without, while their local community programs, churches and town facilities declined. Greed and self-centeredness too easily lead us astray.”
He started mailing postcards to customers and other acquaintances in 1984 during the worst part of the 1980s’ Farm Crisis, something he has continued ever since. He also developed a newsletter before Spring Rain came about and mailed it to some 130 persons who requested it for the next several years.
After almost a decade-long hiatus, Allen felt a need to renew his message-writing initiative in 2002; thus began Spring Rain.
Efforts instigated by Randy or others–and unsolicited, helped me at least three times over the years. The first occasion occurred a couple decades ago when I was on the verge of losing most of what I was striving to accomplish, I received a letter that said, “I prayed for you today.”
The message listed thirty or more people, many of whom I know. I was not alone as I struggled.
Over the years my already developing mission in life was cemented: improving the well-being of agricultural producers. I survived serious health issues and a law suit that threatened my career and the possible loss of our home.
It wasn’t me that moved things, but a Higher Force.
Few things in life are static and do not change. Our physical health advances; our knowledge and beliefs evolve; spiritual adjustments fluctuate and – if we allow it to happen — deepen commitment to selflessness.
“My greatest gift from God is teaching,” Allen says. He does it by example as well as ministering to others.
Allen has taken sabbaticals from his company, including a 16 month hiatus to work with the Salvation Army in their efforts to assist homeless people. He shared with me, “But for God watching over me, I could be homeless. One big event like a health problem that depletes my savings, a bad decision, a war, anything…and I could be homeless.”
I agree, life can change in an instant. We are subject to conditions we cannot control, but we can endure them by accepting and adjusting to what is given rather than “doing it my way.” The experiences that occur as a result give us hope and, as importantly, they teach us faith and love.
Randy likes another Sinatra song that contains the familiar lyrics, “I’m in the autumn of my years.” Most of us know these words are from the popular musical piece written by Ervin Drake, “It Was a Very Good Year,” first recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1961.
Randy asks us to consider the autumn of our lives. Have we produced a bountiful harvest with our lives?
Good questions to ask include these: Do my activities benefit others besides me? Can I accept whatever happens? What can I do to serve others?
“We should all be striving for a life bin-buster crop,” Allen says. “At the end of the last harvested field, we will all remember that we were but just one seed planted in the beginning. And too, that yield will be tallied.”
Randy and I agree on a constant: our dependence on a Higher Force we call God or a Higher Power that gives our lives meaning. If persons are interested in receiving Spring Rain, they may contact its author at: [email protected]. Randy asks requesters to include their email and postal addresses to indicate their location.
Dr. Mike Rosmann is a psychologist, farm resident and former agricultural producer who can be contacted at: www.agbehavioralhealth.com.