So it’s your birthday, and a simple Facebook post just doesn’t seem adequate enough. Nothing really seems adequate enough. As I grow up and see how some people grow up in such brokenness I am eternally grateful for the way you raised me. I’m eternally grateful that you were present for my life, and that you showed me what it looks like to receive real and authentic love.
You taught me a lot of life lessons, and most of the time I thought you were being too harsh or your were mad at me. But now, I’m so thankful for those lessons. You made sure I had what I needed, even if it wasn’t always comfortable.
So here are some things I am most thankful for.
- You were there. I can’t tell you how many people I talk to everyday that say things like, “Oh I don’t know who my dad is.” or “My dad left when I was little.” or, even worse, “Me and my dad don’t have a good relationship. We just don’t get along.” It’s just so rare that I hear people talk about their father in a good way. And each time I hear their heartbreaking stories, I become more and more appreciative for the fact that you were present and active in my life. If I was involved in something you were supporting me, if I had accomplished something you made sure I knew you were proud of me, and no matter what I did you always had my back. I have so many wonderful memories of my childhood, and you just being there. I remember when Prissy (the horse) was going to have a baby, and going to Papa’s house every night to check on her. I remember learning to ride a bike, and learning to drive a go-cart. I remember you teaching me to ride horses, and teaching me how to drive. I notice every time I call, that you answer the phone. I notice whenever I come home, and you take time to talk to me about how things are going. I notice, and I’m so unbelievably thankful.
- You taught me about Jesus. I have never met anyone more confident in Jesus. I always wondered why when things happened, you were never shaken. It didn’t worry you. You always trusted Jesus, more than anything. A few months ago I was talking to Jesus and I told him that I wanted the same confidence in Him that I see everyday in you. And you know what, He showed me how. He showed me that the only way that is possible is to truly know Him, to really understand who He is – down deep. I have to have deep deep roots. Through that, I was able to see your deep roots. And because of those roots, our family stayed together, your ministry is successful, and there is great favor on your life. You taught me over and over that when all else fails, I can depend on Jesus. You made sure I depended on Jesus more than anyone else or myself. You taught me that the answer always lies with Jesus, and thats my safe place. This is the most important value you could have ever instilled in me.
- You love my mom. You demonstrated love to me by loving my mom unconditionally. It amazes me that at 24 years of age I can honestly say I have never heard the two of you fight. You never raised your voice at her, or said a harsh word. You had your issues, like everyone, but you made sure I never experienced them with you. You demonstrated how to talk to one another, how to have fun together, and the right way to handle conflict. I firmly believe that loving my mom is one of the greatest gifts you have ever given me. You showed me what love is supposed to look like.
- You taught me to work hard. Just the other day Jonathan said, “Katie, you have a motor that never stops running.” And dad you taught me to work hard. I don’t know anyone who works harder. You taught me the value of working hard, and the only thing I have is my name. You taught me to do everything with excellence, even if no one notices or is watching. You taught me that my work speaks for itself, and I don’t need to defend myself. I just need to work hard and work to excellence and everything will work out on its own.
- You showed me how to love people. Dad, you never kept me in a bubble. You showed me poverty, addiction, heartbreak, unbelievable loss, and people who have so much less than me. You showed me the hurts and wounds of the world, and then made me believe I could do my part to change them. You taught me that Jesus loved people unconditionally, and that means I should. You showed me what it looks like to lay down your life for your brother. You demonstrated a real life example of giving the shirt of your back to someone, and walking two miles for them instead of one. Thank you. Thank you for teaching me to care for others, and to recognize their pain. Thank you for showing me what it looks like to point them to Jesus.
So dad, I hope your day is wonderful. I hope that everyone you encounter encourages you, and lifts you up. You are such a constant for so many people. I will admit I didn’t always enjoy sharing you with others, but I’m ok with knowing I’m always your favorite!
Thank you dad – for making me the center of your world and stewarding well what God gave you. I’m eternally grateful, and I am who I am today because of you and mom. I love you to the moon.