Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day Dad!

“Remember to pack a snake bite kit!” he admonished me. “When I was in boy scouts, I watched a boy’s life get saved by someone who had one and knew how to use it.”

I cradled the phone to my head and smiled, knowing that even though he isn’t here to double check my pack I know that I will be hiking up the side of a canyon in true boy scout fashion, with every little gizmo and gadget I need to save my life come water, wind or fire. This is not because I am a boy scout (and never will be one, since I am a girl!) – this is my dad’s long distance way of protecting his daughter. He, among other things, has taught me how to survive the wilderness.


I was raised by an amazing father. We, of course, were not without disagreements but our relationship is like a rare vintage – better with age. My Dad is an incredible man, who has raised three incredible children, married one incredible women, and worships an incredible Savior.


My dad is a country boy for sure – he was raised in the north woods of Wisconsin and sometimes, if you listen closely, has just the slightest bit of a north woods accent. He doesn’t like it but I find it charming in the same way I find Jon cute when he slips into that tiny southern accent while talking with his mom or grandma on the phone. I know he is very content when he is out in the woods sleeping in a tent with his civil war re-enacting buddies, or hunting.

My Dad didn’t have an easy life growing up, but it hasn’t left him bitter. Instead he is the gentlest person you will ever meet. When life is hard through someone else’s doing you can go two directions - you become mean and hardened to the world, or you go the opposite way and try to alleviate the suffering of other people because you know what it’s like to hurt. We are so very fortunate that he went the second way. My dad works with senior adults at a church and he loves these people with a passion that I know comes through the practice of loving people like Jesus. I am constantly amazed at the breadth and depth of his love for the people he works with, and it comes out with every word he speaks and action he takes.


My Dad’s most under-rated talent is being a Dad and husband, though. He doesn’t get public recognition for this and no one gives him a paycheck, but he puts in an incredible amount of energy into raising and protecting and loving his family. If every girl had as an amazing father as I did then the world would have no ills.

I took a walk yesterday, around my neighborhood, and saw a dad tossing a baseball with his daughter, who looked like she was about twelve or thirteen. She was pitching and he was catching, and when she pitched a ball that went under the deck he said “Don’t worry, I’ll get that for you honey!” Down he went under the deck, into the mud so she wouldn’t have too. I wanted so badly to go up to the girl and say “Look what you have! You are so blessed because you are so far ahead of the world! I see in his face how much he loves you, to sit out here and joke around and crawl under the porch and rescue the mis-pitched balls so you don’t have to go by the spiders!” but instead I just smiled, walked on and remembered the incredible kindness and love my own dad has shown me!


I will never be able to write down all the small kindnesses that my dad has given me, all the time and instruction he has invested in me. When I was young I thought certain experiences were the most important – going to prom, for example – but as an adult, the things that I remember are not that. I remember my dad promised me an airplane ride if I memorized my times tables. He must have scrimped and saved to take his daughter up in a tiny little airplane but I dutifully memorized my times tables and up we went, flying high above the tiny town in which we lived. I also remember when he surprised me by buying me a soccer jacket that the rest of the team had purchased, but I didn’t ask since I didn’t think I could afford it. I still have that jacket – it has my name and number on it. My dad went camping with me, taught me to shoot a gun and use a compass, how to appreciate God’s vast beauty and that you should never drink untreated water.


My dad also taught me to never be in a relationship where I was not respected, to work hard, and to value my femininity. He used to take my sister and I out on “dates” as a little girl. I know I wouldn’t have ever gotten through my awkward teenage years without him constantly telling me I was beautiful, and I had inherited the “good” genes in the family. (Sometimes when you’re feeling awkward and gangly, knowing you had the right genes behind you is a blessing!)


I both my parents with my spiritual upbringing and my deep hunger for God. From my mother I learned prayer, and from my father I learned devotion. Every morning of my life and still, when I come home to visit, I see my father leaning over his bible. I know that without his example I would not have such a great spiritual life.


I just want to say that without my dad my life would not be as fun as it is. I always say “I am my father’s daughter” because I have inherited a lot of his personality.


So, thanks Dad! I love you!

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