One of the most wonderful things about becoming an adult is the relationship that I have developed with my parents. When I was growing up under their care, we got along most of the time, and I felt that their teaching and discipline was fair; however, once I moved away, it all started to make sense in a new way that I couldn’t see while living with them. I remember driving away for the first time with my new husband, eyes filled with tears, realizing that everything they had done through my life was done out of love for my own benefit. I’ve also started to notice all the ways that they led by example, and how much those things have had an impact on my life, to this very day. Today is my dad’s birthday, so I wanted to share a list of some of the things he has taught me through his actions that have either shaped who I am and what I believe, or are things that I see and admire that I want in my own life.
God First | “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 My dad has always had the desire to raise up godly children. He brought us to church every Sunday, got involved as a leader in our Sunday and Wednesday activities, and would use time at home during the week to discuss what we were learning. He would come home for lunch every day and read a devotional book to us and had us memorizing scripture. But he knew that it was only by God’s grace that we would actually listen and learn to accept this faith as our own. He also knew that it wasn’t enough to just go through the motions and make sure we all looked good sitting in our pew together during service. In order for him to effectively teach us, he himself had to be learning and growing as a believer. For as long as I can remember, my dad has risen early every morning for quiet time spent with God in His Word, in prayer, and journaling. The fact that he also worked full time and was a father of 6 makes me realize that any excuse I come up with for not having a daily routine of being in the word is pretty pathetic! He showed me by his actions that no matter where I was in life or how I was doing spiritually, I needed to be making time for God and spending time daily in His Word. I feel like somehow dad always knew what I was struggling with and working through, and I knew that I could always go to him and gain godly advice and counsel.
Family Second | Growing up, we used to have one night set aside every week for “family time.” Together, we’d read the Bible and discuss it, sing hymns, pray, and maybe something fun like act out a skit or play a game. I’m not saying we were always willing contributors… but it’s things like this that I look back on and miss the most. We all reach a point where friends seem way more important to us than siblings, and object to the idea that “siblings are forever”. But what do you know, I’m living far away from all my friends and family, and guess who I miss most of all? Family, of course! While I love any opportunity I get to catch up with old friends, it’s not always the priority when we go back home. I do wish that I had seen the value in these times much earlier in life, but this is probably one of those things everyone deals with and can’t fully appreciate until they’ve moved away from home. But there’s one thing I know for sure: Curtis and I will definitely institute a weekly “family time” with our own kids one day, no matter how much they resist! 😉
Invest in Others | One thing that used to bother my siblings and I so much growing up were those dreaded Sundays where dad would get into a conversation with someone and we’d be stuck there for a half hour waiting until he was ready to go. It could be someone he knew, barely knew, or even a total stranger. I just didn’t get it — I’ve always been pretty introverted and struggle to initiate conversations. Now that I’m older, I realize that it’s not that my dad is way more extroverted than I am, he just sees the value in meeting and getting to know people. He knows God created us all unique and know that every person you meet is initiated by God — maybe so that they could teach you something, or maybe they needed something from you. After 20 years of attending the same church, my parents made the decision to move to a new church plant in their city. What impressed me the most was the fact that they could step outside their comfort zone of being around people they knew, and start again in a new place with new faces and quickly develop new relationships. Another example of this that stands out to me is the time dad joined me to go to Curtis’ graduation from OCS. The night before the graduation, there was a ceremony for Curtis’ class, and while I felt awkward and out of place surrounded by so many strangers, I turned around and see my dad deep in a conversation with a man in uniform, and it turned out that he was the Commander of the Newport base. In that moment, I realized that I wanted to be more like dad — able to engage in conversation with just anyone! It sure seems like a more enjoyable way to live!
Invest in Yourself | My dad recently celebrated 30 years working as an engineer. He’s very good at what he does — I remember when I was living in Iowa 2 years ago, and every time I started talking to someone at church and told them who my dad was, they would always say something about how great his writing was and how well he does there (it’s a big engineering company — probably half of the population of the city works there! haha). But that’s not the only thing my dad is good at — he’s also a very gifted artist. He paints portraits of people and historic scenes, and my favorite, he has painted pictures of each of the barns and the farmhouse that are owned by my mom’s parents. (You can see some of his work on his blog!) He’s also good at sketching and making clay figures. He enjoys reading historical fiction. He loves sports, and has coached me and my siblings on many different teams. What I’m saying is, my dad has tons of interests, hobbies, and things he’s gifted at. While he works hard and puts God and my family first, he also still has time to invest in himself and improve on these hobbies. Just writing all this down makes me realize how good he is at managing his time. He’s found a healthy balance between investing in others and investing in himself. I want to be more like him!
History is Cool | Ok, maybe this is another thing that I didn’t appreciate enough growing up, but my dad has always loved military history and used to plan long road trips where he’d take us to as many battlefields and forts as we could stand. Obviously, this has now become a much bigger interest of mine, and now Curtis and I are doing the same thing. The fact that my dad has already taken me to so many gives me bragging rights. 😉 This will be yet another thing that we’ll do with our kids whether they like it or not!
I could go on and on about the different ways that I am becoming more like my dad, but these are the most influential that I want to remember forever — and I hope he knows the positive impact he’s made on my life. If you’re interested in getting to know my dad better, you should check out his blog HERE. He’s an amazing writer and I love how I can still learn so much from him through this!
Happy Birthday Dad, I love you so much! Thank you for all you’ve done for me and taught me my whole life!