Friday, June 13, 2008

Maybe it is cliche, but I have to admit...

I think I got the world's greatest dad. This post is my tribute to him as we head into Father's Day this weekend.
Really, as I sit here and browse through hundreds of pictures, many of which have my dad in them or remind me of him, I can literally feel my heart burst with blessing. And that's only going back in photos to 2007! I did nothing in my life to deserve a dad as wonderful as he, and I am humbled and grateful for him- more than he knows.
Growing up I had no clue how great he really was. He was a dairy farmer turned pastor/minister very early in my life and it's only now, as an adult, that I appreciate that God placed him in my life and I was able to grow up with his amazing example of love, dedication, leadership, and servanthood all wrapped in one. I know that many people in this world have broken relationships with their fathers, or non-existent relationships with their fathers, and many do not even know who their father is. My heart hurts for those people- maybe you are one of them, and yet I know that God can use even these 'broken relationships' to draw you into a closer relationship with Him. God is my Heavenly Father, but I am lucky that on earth He gave me a Dad whose heart seeks after Him. The two together are more than I deserve. As I said, it's humbling.
That's why I'm having a hard time trying to decide what to put into print here. I could write a book on my dad alone, and still it wouldn't be enough to put the impact he's had in my life into perspective.
I first posted a picture of cereal with berries, because not only is it one of my favorite meals this time of year, but it is probably the one food that reminds me most of my dad. He has a routine of eating a big bowl for breakfast and many times he has a bowl before bedtime too. He loves fresh fruits and vegetables and so anytime I throw a handful of berries on my cereal, I can't help but think of my dad. He has always been a man who loves 'the earth and growing things'...and although he left a life of farming, it has always stayed in his blood. We were fortunate to have big gardens and fresh produce and flowers in and around our home all the years I was growing up. My dad has grown 'healthy' in his eating habits, especially in the past 10 years- not that eating big, hearty meals was ever a bad thing in his past, but he has modified his diet to maximize his health and well-being and it makes me proud that he cares so much about himself that he would give up red meat many times and opt for something low-fat/high fiber. He still loves a good steak and mashed potatoes and a homemade pie for dessert...he just has gotten very good about being balanced, and that's not always an easy thing to do in our society.
Beyond his eating habits {sorry, Dad, if I am sharing too much of you with my blog readers} he has so many other gifts and character qualities that make me love and respect him. I love that his whole life he has been a 'family guy'. Again, in our society, it's not always the most macho thing to be, and yet he has more reasons to be respected than many 'guys' I have met and known in my life. I am thankful for the example he has been in every situation- whether it is being home at dinner to eat meals, keeping up his home and property and caring for other peoples' property, or for the many times he has read the Bible and prayed next to the bedside of someone who is sick or even dying, including his own granddaughter, Teagan. I have watched him hold back tears when he has had to be strong, and at that same instance I have known his heart is breaking. That to me speaks volumes and he doesn't need a Harley bike to prove to me he is a man- through and through. Although....he would look great on a Harley and I have seen him on a motorcycle, and I mean no offense to any guys out there who do ride. I think it's awesome. I just am trying to say that my dad has this amazing thing about him where he has the most gentle spirit, yet the strength he needs to face hardships in life is equally evident. I've never seen him fold under pressure, but I have seen Him cry out to God for strength. That to me is a special gift.
So he loves his family, he loves his kids and grandkids and extended relatives. He shows he love in many ways, and one of the greatest things I can say about my dad is that I can't ever recall a time that he has ever said anything to tear down my mom. His love for her is deeper and wider than he probably ever thought it could be, and all the years I have seen them love together, work together, hurt together and serve together, I have yet to see him say or do anything negative to my mom. I love that his example of loving his wife is practically flawless. He might have a few regrets over the many years together, but he has never shown in front of others, anything other than love and respect to her. It makes me love him more- for that reason alone. I think my mom would jump in here and tell you that she thinks she's pretty lucky to have him at her side, and I know for a fact she wouldn't trade him for anything!
I've covered food, family, strength and love for God and his wife...and yet there is so much more. My dad has been the one on my life who I can turn to for questions and advice about money, about discipline, about God's purpose and will in my life, about cars and about carpet. I can ask him anything and know that he is going to give me a solid answer, or I can expect him to be honest and tell me that he doesn't know- but he will pray about whatever concern I hand him. He has answered phonecalls with me in tears in the middle of the day and night. He has dropped everything for my needs at times- without a second thought.
All that and I still can remember some of the 'little stuff' too. The time he took me out pheasant hunting- even though he knew I wasn't going to shoot a thing. Or the many times he let me pick out a "free puppy" and bring it home- knowing he'd be doing much of the care for our new pet. I think of the times he had to discipline me or say 'no'- knowing I wouldn't like what he said/did and yet he did it because it was best for me. I think of all the times he drove me to work or school- and had the car all warmed up and waiting- even if it was 10 below zero in the middle of a Minnesota snowstorm. I think of all the accomplishments- with dairy cows and with his Bible schooling that he has shared with me and been excited about. From the MN State Fair to church and lots of things in between, he has shared his heart with me and many others. Today, my own heart wells up with love and find memories for my dad and who he is in my life.
I don't deserve him, but I thank God for placing me in his care and I can never say enough about how much love and respect I have for my dad.
Those last few pictures are some of my favorites from last summer when I spent three weeks with my dad (and other family in MN) and all my kids messed up my parents' home as we made ourselves at home with them. I love that we share life together simply- we make homemade icecream and sing songs and choruses together. We go to the zoo and the park and run errands and visit other family. We basically just love being together- knowing that the time is short, so we should just soak it all in. When I see the pictures here of him with Ava, that's exactly what I see. Now my dad would say his hair looks terrible in these pictures- the humidity and wind were both kicked into high that afternoon. But what I see in these pictures, is a dad- a grandpa, who knows that his love for God and family and his love for nature and enjoying life is not something to be taken for granted. He appreciates these simple moments. Watching him wrap one arm around Ava and use the other arm to teeter-totter two other grandkids is just a beautiful metaphor to me- he is a picture of strength and love and balance that I could only hope others get a taste of at times in their lives too. He didn't have a care in the world when I snapped these pictures- or if he did, he didn't let it show.
I want to wish my dad and all the other amazing dads out there a Happy Father's Day weekend. And to those who of you who are reading who can't relate to a single thing I've written about my dad, my heart hurts for you, but at the same time, I know you can cry out to God as Father, and He is more than able and willing to meet every need of your heart. More than my dad has in my life.
I am doubly blessed; I am thankful for my Dad and for God in my life.
Today and always.
I love you, Dad!


Mere said...

This is an absolutely heart-felt post. You are sooo very blessed. I am one of those people in your blog with a "non-existent" father, and while I don't feel a void because he was never there, and when he was he made me miserable, I can only imagine how amazing being a daddy's girl would be. I have accepted that I will never be normal in the sense that will have a dad, but part of me wonders what it would be like, know what I mean? Anywho, if I don't talk to you before then, happy father's day!


walkingbyfaith said...

What a beautiful post!! :)

I thought of you last night. I was at Cracker Barrel looking at the Yankee Candles and decided to get a new plug-in...BUTTERCREAM. :)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Kyra said...

Words are the most amazing present. Thank you for sharing the gift of a fine father/grandfather/husband.