I've been meaning to write you an e-mail for some time now to let you know how much you mean to me. Instead, I thought I'd write this on my blog for the world to see how proud I am to have you as my father! I've been working on this for over a month, thinking of exactly what I wanted to tell you. The words you'll find probably don't express exactly what I wanted to say, but I hope they do reflect the love and admiration that I have for you.
I learned many lessons from you growing up, even when I didn't realize that I was learning them. You made it clear to me so many times growing up that you loved me, and even to this day I'm glad to hear that you brag on me at work. It means a lot to me, probably more than you know. You always affirmed Cindy and me in so many ways, and I'm thankful to have a father who permitted me to make choices, even when they did not exactly line up with yours. You never pushed me into playing basketball because I was tall or into football because I was big. Instead, you came to concerts and went to see me play in the marching band. I even remember you coming out to the game after you almost died from your brain aneurysm. That meant a lot to me, and if I didn't say it then: Thank you!!
I can still envision seeing you climb those steps with that cane of yours, definitely not the strong, independent dad that I remembered when I was a kid. However, your frail body made it all the more meaningful to me, and I'm thankful that the Lord brought you back to full health. You went back to work as usual as soon as you could, a sign of your dedication to us.
That's probably the best lesson I learned from you: Take care of your family. You have always been a worker and an excellent provider for Mom, Cindy, and me. You gave of yourself working jobs that caused you stress, for bosses who didn't appreciate you, enduring a work environment at times when you just wanted to walk out. You endured it, knowing that we couldn't have made it without you working.
You also taught me the value of laughter. Our home was far from uptight, and because of that I have learned to laugh during the seasons of life. We were not designed to fret about everything but to take joy in life and rejoice in the benefits that the Lord gives us. I'm thankful for the lesson of laughter, for it's always been a reminder not to take myself too seriously and to enjoy the life that God has given me.
You always encouraged me in my education, and you never once discouraged me from learning all that I can about everything that interests me. I can remember times growing up when I would hear you give figures or tell stories or offer scientific explanations of why things are the way they are. I didn't value it at the time, but I now recognize that you have always had a thirst for knowledge that you have passed on to me. Thank you for that! I catch myself seeing some interesting fact or reading an article and thinking that I need to pass this along to my dad.
You taught me the value of saying, "I love you." I would hear that phrase multiple times a day when I was growing up, and I still read it in e-mails or hear it when I talk to you on the phone. You've always sought to let Cindy and me know that we are loved. I'm thankful for growing up in a house with that kind of atmosphere, with parents who genuinely loved and cared for me. There are some people who go their whole life with never (or at least rarely) hearing their father say that he loved them. I'm not in that category, and I'm thankful for that.
You taught me to sacrifice for those you love. Numerous times in my childhood, I remember you wore tattered jeans or shirts with missing buttons, all so that Cindy and I could have decent clothes to wear to school. Although I wasn't old enough to remember myself, I remember hearing stories of how you and Mom ate biscuits and gravy several nights a week because most of your grocery money went toward formula, diapers, and other baby needs. As an adult now, I look back to my childhood and wonder how Cindy and I were able to have as much as we had, yet the bills were always paid. Your sacrifices largely paved the way for me to be where I am today, beginning to enroll in seminary and seeking the Lord's will for my life. Without your sacrifices, it wouldn't be possible for me to be where I am today. Thank you!
You taught me to be grateful. That is how I was raised, and I'm thankful for that. Cindy and I were always encouraged to be grateful. When going over to other people's houses, we were taught not to go for the candy, but we were taught to accept it with gratitude if it was offered. You always discouraged the rude attitude of ingratitude, and that has helped me so much in ministry. I have learned not to expect thanks or reward from others, but when a word of thanks or a reward is offered, I am always thankful. You trained me to be that way.
Finally, you taught me the faith. That's probably the thing I'm proudest about of you! You gave me a solid foundation in the Christian faith. I was taught never to doubt God's Word. The Bible was always held in high esteem as a book authored by God, as an inerrant book and an infallible rule for faith and practice. I was taught to love Jesus Christ and His bride, the church. I was taught to lift high the name of Jesus Christ, the only way to heaven. I was taught never to doubt the Lord and what He can and does do. I was taught to reject the heresies of the cults and of liberal "Christianity." I was taught to accept true, sound doctrine with all diligence.
These are the things you taught me, and the longer I live, the more I see the value of those years of teaching. Thank you for all the years that you have poured into my life, and I thank God that you're my father.
And, although as I've grown older, I view you a little differently. I now consider you a teacher and advisor in church matters, and I'm thankful that I was able to call you to ask you how to conduct the first funeral I officiated a few years ago. You help me in the other areas of life when I need someone with more wisdom, and I'm thankful that I can always turn to you for guidance. And, although I now call you "Dad" as I've grown to be an adult, deep in my heart, you'll always be "Daddy!"
I love you, Daddy, and I just wanted you (and the world) to know!