For My Dad...

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
Ephesians 6:4

Once again I find myself writing, in honor of one, whom God has graciously blessed me with, my Dad. I will tell you up front that I love my Dad. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for Him. He is a source of constant encouragement and wisdom in my life and I am incredibly grateful for his unconditional love for me. From the time I was a little girl, my earliest memories of my Dad are of two things; golf and time. I imagine that sounds odd for me to say, and Dad you're probably wondering why on earth I would say that, but some of my very best memories seem to always involve these two things.

From very early on, I remember my Dad watching golf on TV and trying to explain to the three of us what the players were doing. We listened (sort of) and tried to love it, but it just wasn't happening. So, in order to really show us what golf was all about, he tried a different method. He took us with him. To the driving range first, and then to the course. We rode for hours in his cart, round after round, watching him play. He sometimes played with his friends, sometimes just by himself, but he always let us come with, if we wanted to. I think about that today and I marvel at that. He could have used that time to just relax, to get away from work, home, us... but he didn't. He not only "let" us come with him, he loved it when we came.

He taught us much about the game of golf, always patiently explaining why he was doing what he was doing and laughing when we didn't get it (for the hundredth time)! Eventually he let us start playing with him, putting on every hole, hitting a few iron shots, even teeing off on the short holes. We laughed at how far we didn't hit it and were amazed at how far he did. We begged him to let us drive the cart, and most of the time he let us. We all have hilarious memories of when we ran into things, fell off, and avoided near-accidents! Our Mom would have freaked out if she knew the craziness that went on in those carts, but our Dad always laughed it off, and said "Don't tell your Mother when we get home!" I can close my eyes to this day and still remember certain holes we played or rode with him on. He was so gracious to us when we got the giggles and erupted into laughter, right in the middle of his back-swing. We knew we were breaking a precious rule of golf, and also probably costing him a stroke, but we couldn't help it... we were three little girls, giggling with our Dad. He usually put his head down, knowing he hit a bad shot, and then looked at all three of us. We always held our breath, ready to blame whoever started it, but he always broke out into a smile and laughed, saying "You girls are killing me!" We gave him our best "Sorry Dad, we just couldn't help it" and he believed us... then he walked to his ball and played on, as if it just didn't matter. He valued us more than his game and I have a feeling that the sound of his girls laughing meant more to him than a great shot. And while we may have missed that lesson then, we certainly appreciate it today.

Soon our Dad's love for the game of golf turned into our own love for the game and we all three went on to play with him and then eventually for him. I cherish the lessons golf taught me. Lessons about character, honesty, integrity, perseverence, patience, etc. and I credit my Dad for being the one to show me that. He modeled all those things to us both on and off the course and I still smile today whenever I have the chance to play. I also think it's fitting that golf would help me fall in love with my future husband. My first date with Travis was a golf date. He asked me to play when he found out that I knew how. Never was I more grateful for all those hours on the course with my Dad than when Travis asked me to go on a golf date. And now, today, I love two golfers with all my heart. One who taught me everything I know and the other who I can grow old with. That is a gift that only my Dad could have given me and I am very, very grateful.

The second gift my Dad gave me, was his time. We loved it when my Dad came home from work each day, because we knew that meant he was ready to play. My Dad didn't bring work home with him, he always left that at the office. When he walked in the door, we knew he was all ours. He would play in the yard with us, take us on bike rides, shoot baskets, go for walks, wrestle with us, play games, or just make us laugh. We loved to play hide and seek with him and he always gave us 10 extra seconds to hide. I don't ever remember my Dad telling us that he couldn't play or that he didn't have time for us. In fact, it was quite the opposite. My Dad never missed any of my games while I was in middle school and high school. In fact, he usually came early and watched us warm-up. I loved that. His time spoke volumes to me about how much he loved me and you know what, it still does. Whenever Travis and I come home, He clears his schedule and takes time off. He makes it clear that I'm worth his time and he never complains about what it might cost him at work. In this culture today, it's rare to find Dads who are willing to sacrafice their time for their kids. I see it all the time in ministry. I know there are lots of demands on Dads today, lots of pressure at work, but it matters to kids to know that they are a priority and I'm thankful that I've never had to wonder about that with my Dad.

I could list many, many gifts my Dad has given me, none greater than his love for the Lord. He is truly a model of integrity and character, full of wisdom and knowledge that comes from walking with the Lord for many years. My Dad has seen his share of heart-ache, losing his own Dad at a young age, and caring for my Grandma many years until the Lord took her home as well. My heart broke for my Dad when we lost my aunt, his older sister, to cancer. My Dad loves deeply and tenderly and I know it hurt him to see her health failing and to know that his time with her on this side of Heaven was going to be shorter than any of us imagined. But he modeled to us, his deep trust in the Lord, regardless of how much it hurt and his leadership for our family has sustained us through many more difficult days.

I love you Dad and I hope you know how much I admire and respect you. I am humbled that God would choose me to be your daughter and I am grateful for all that you've done for me. I am also grateful for your love for Mom and for the three of us girls. I'm so glad that we were all able to be together last week, making memories and even re-living a few old ones... From one of your three giggling girls, Happy Father's Day Dad! I love you.



Faith said...

What a precious tribute to your dad! He sounds like such a wonderful father and man of God. What a blessing to be able to celebrate him on this special day! I know he must be so proud of you and Travis as well!
P.S. I love that you know how to play golf. I like to play too! I don't play well, but Chad used to take me when we were dating too!

sheltonfamily said...

I think our child-hoods are exactly the same... our dads would be good friends...oh we just read about Travis' trip and laughed so funny! I hope your retreat went well! Miss you!

MiMi said...

Awww....what a precious tribute to your dad. I know that he must be so proud of you and your sisters. I love the golfing pictures of the 3 of you with your Dad. He sounds like an awesome dad.

Miz Jean said...

I just wanted to say that your Dad is pretty awesome. He was one of very few fathers at WR that would go out of his way to talk to my Dad - who knew no one. He was always so kind and outgoing and it made my Dad feel welcomed and not so much like an outsider. I love my Dad dearly, too, and it absolutely touched my heart to know that your Dad was so friendly and approachable and considerate! I know it gave my Dad a lot of peace knowing that your Dad was around. Some Dads are really really incredible. Yours is one of them!