Dear Dad –
This year for Father’s Day you asked us to write down for you something that you taught us. Sitting around the table we made a joke of it. Most things at our family table become a joke…and usually it’s you or me who seems to be the butt of it. Good thing I inherited the ability to laugh at myself from you. Not that we haven’t dug our own holes…
You must have known, of course, that I would use my blog to write what you asked. Sadly, I must remind you that I don’t have a good set of memories from childhood (due to that rollerblading accident). Fortunately, this brain of mine has not given up completely on my memories. I still remember all those mornings when you and I would go to the first church service together and sing along the way. Because you not only tolerated, but encouraged me to sing with you I learned to make a joyful noise to the Lord and find joy in it.
Although I do have a somewhat foggy memory of you teaching me to ride a bike, it is pretty hard to see. I do, however, remember clearly the moment of seeing that fantastic orange banana seat bike you gave me. What a great bike. If only you had kept me from wearing those glasses when I rode it.
My love of reading comes from both you and mom, but one of my most favorite memories is when we read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe together as a family. You made that book come alive to me. It will always be one of my favorites. I look forward to my kids being old enough for me to read it to them.
Recently, I was watching Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz preach a message and she said “It’s no secret, but my dad was not a good dad.” She spoke of how he never tucked her in at night, read her stories, hung out and talked with her or did any normal dad things. I believe that this is true of a lot of pastor’s kids. It’s not my story though. You definitely made time for us. You included us in everything you could. You taught us about a relationship with God being inclusive instead of exclusive. Church life was really family life. I am so happy to be able to say that my dad was a good dad who taught me what a good dad God is.
It’s a good thing you like mnemonics and catch phrases so much since you did have the problem so many preachers have with bad jokes. Here are a few of my favorites…
You feel what you feel because of what you think about
You feel what you feel because of how you think about what you think about
Emotions follow thought
MAAAH – Mistakes Are Absolutely Allowed Here
EHAH – Everything Has A Home (This is one I wish I had really learned to put into practice as a child…because I am still working on it. Maybe I needed an additional one > TMSEABM (Too Much Stuff Equals A Big Mess). Good thing there is still time for me to work on this one with my kids.)
In many ways, you mirrored God the Father to me. You loved me unconditionally and made time for me. You sang me songs and hugged me tight. Just like many do with God we’ve had our share of battles. Certainly, not every moment was a great one. But with love and understanding we found a way to draw close and a common peace to rest in.
Dad, you taught me that every moment of life can be an adventure. And that actually getting out and making your own adventures is a valuable tool in life. One adventure I happily recall was traveling to Europe with you. I definitely got pushed out of my comfort zone on that one. And that trip has memories no head injury can ever take away from me.
There really are so many things you’ve taught me over my life, but one of the most important things is something that will be a daily part of the rest of my life. You taught me what I should expect from a man as a husband and father. You taught me not to settle for someone who wouldn’t treat me right. You taught me that there can be real love that lasts a lifetime and shows its characteristics through faithfulness, passion, respect, care, laughter, forgiveness and sacrifice. Because of the kind of man you are, I had a good example of the kind of man I wanted to marry. Because you taught me that a man who loves God with all his heart will love his wife the same way, I looked for that kind of man. You showed me that a man who loves kids is a man who is gentle of spirit and compassionate and I looked for that kind of man. You helped me understand that a real dad simply reflects his Father and this is the type of man you are. You reflect your heavenly Father.
I am proud to call you my dad. I am thankful to have had you raise me. I am blessed to have the memories I do of all the good times we’ve had. I appreciate knowing that laughter is a good medicine and love is the greatest healer of all. I celebrate you today dad. Happy Father’s Day!