Today is your birthday.
When I think of you, I think of the tire swing in the backyard. Many of my afternoons were spent squealing with laughter as your strong arms pushed me higher and higher on that tire swing you made.
When I think of you, I think of suits and ties. You've never said you would skip church. You never stayed home to watch the Superbowl or to catch up on the latest episode of your favorite TV show. You've always been found in church when the doors were opened - sometimes you were the one who opened the church yourself!
When I think of you, I think of all the songs you gave me to sing and the times you said, "You still got it!" You're my biggest fan and the one who told me to put my heart in my voice.
When I think of you, I think of bologna sandwiches. I also think of the infamous ham-and-cheese-squeeze you would make me almost daily. I'm still not a fan of bologna but I think of you every time I'm in the deli meat aisle.
When I think of you, I think of lullabies. You wrote lullabies for me and I now sing them to my own children. On chilly nights and winter mornings, I sing the "Snuggle" song and I still hear your voice in my head.
When I think of you, I think of the Christmas when all you and mom could afford was a race car track and a container of juice boxes. I never got expensive gifts. I got priceless gifts of memories - like you and me racing our cars on the living room floor laughing while drinking juice.
When I think of you, I think of Andy Griffith. To this day, no one can tell a story like you can. You made the Bible come to life with your descriptions and even history wasn't so bad when you took the "Andy Griffith" approach.
When I think of you, I think of guitars. I still tell everyone I meet that you are among the best who chose to be a "George Bailey" instead of a big shot in Nashville.
When I think of you, I think of Rose and Oakley. It's still the greatest story you've ever told me.
When I think of you, I think of your big, black, leather Bible with notes over 30 years old. I think of peeking into your study and seeing you at your desk immersed in yellow legal pads, commentaries and various books. I think of you at your computer researching and typing with two fingers and I think of all the times I would hear you shout "Amen!" and "Well glory!" while listening to a sermon on a cassette tape in the car.
When I think of you, I think of the moments late at night when I would come sit on your bed and talk to you and mom about dreams and fears. I think of the hours we have spent on the phone discussing Bible doctrines, interpretations, opinions and frustrations.
When I think of you, I think of you pacing outside the labor and delivery room praying as my first born son was born.
When I think of you, I think of the moment when my heart was ripped in two - and you showed up to comfort me. You let me vent, yell, cuss and weep and when you could do nothing, you were just there at my side while God handled it.
When I think of you, I think of all the times you've showed your weaknesses. I think of the times I've watched you repent from sin and run harder towards Jesus the next day. I think of all the times we have butted heads and voiced our opinions. I have no doubt I get my stubbornness from you, but I also know with full assurance that I get my strength from you too.
On your birthday, I want to thank you for loving me. Thank you for hauling me out onto the road as a three week old infant. Thank you for handing me a microphone. Thank you for toting me from church to church to church and sitting me under some of the greatest preachers this world will ever know. Thank you for using the Bible to chisel me, chasten me and to chase me to Jesus.
Thank you for loving Mom. Thank you for never hitting her, pushing her, kicking her or cheating on her. Thank you for never walking out on six daughters, but being exasperatingly patient (is that a thing?) with six emotional creatures every single day. I've never ran to the door crying for you to come back. You've been there. Always. Through your example, I've loved Jesus more.
Happy Birthday, Dad.
To those who have godly father, honor him and praise God for Him.
To those who do not have a godly father, the greatest earthly father you can imagine cannot compare to the Heavenly Father who gave His Son for you. If you're hurting because of your earthly lack, focus on your heavenly gain! His love is better, stronger, purer, and faithful.