Sunday, January 11, 2015

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I couldn't tell you who I am more alike - my mom or my dad.  I like to think that I am the best of both of them.  My dad turns 66 today.  Since he has far outlived his own predictions of life expectancy, I dare not wait to share this.  
My walk of faith wouldn't be the same without my dad.  If you don't have a faith or participate in church, your view of those who do so may be skewed towards a popular opinion that all Christians pretend to be perfect.  One of the things I love most about my dad is that he has never hid his mistakes. He'll be the first to tell you that he has made some big ones. He would also be the first to tell you that we serve an AMAZING GOD who forgives over and over. By allowing me to see him fall, dust himself off, and start over reminds me to do the same and to let go of the idea that in order to love God, we must be perfect.   It's really in our mistakes that God reveals His perfection.

I am passionate about two things (besides family) - God and teaching.  I like to think that I have been given the gift of vision (some might say arrogance) to see what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and who needs do it.  I have to say right now that I am grateful for my family and friends who love me even when I get fired up and share such visions.  They're not always popular if you can imagine it.  Both my mom and dad are wonderful listeners, and they both have their own response style to those visions.  My dad responds in one of two ways: "Keep speaking up until someone listens.  You are fighting the good fight."  or "Does this really matter?  Is it going to change your walk or Tony's or Parker's or Macy's or someone else's?  Do your students need you to fight this battle?  If you can't say yes, walk away. It's not your fight."  Either response gives me courage.

My dad dreams bigger dreams for me than I dream for myself.  Throughout my whole life, both my mom and dad have told me over and over that I can do it. Now as an adult and a parent, I have a deeper appreciation of those words. There a plenty of people who delight in other's failures.  Joy robbers are everywhere. It's rare to hear an adult tell another adult - "You can do this. It's in your reach."  But at 40 years old, both my parents still tell me that I can do it whatever it may be.  My dad will randomly call me and say "Jenny, I think you should ______________. You have a gift." In full disclosure, I roll my eyes and say "Sure, dad.  I've got time for that."   But it is nice to know that someone is dreaming for me.  Then I turn to God and think how narrow my view of what I can do is compared to what God can do through me, and I have to wonder if maybe my dad is right after all.  I CAN do it.

Dad's end of life and funeral talk has become a running joke in our family.  Dad has always been aware that his dad died so very young and heart problems run in his family history.  Obviously, he has outlived his predictions.  Even in this, I see God.  No matter how old we get, God is always at work in us to help us produce good works.  

May you continue to produce good work, Dad! I love you!