This guy. If you know him, I hardly need to say anything else.
But I'll share a few things anyway.
I remember him singing and rocking me to sleep. "My Jesus, I love Thee; I know Thou art mine." I knew almost every word to that song before I even saw it in a hymnal and sing it to my kids now. (Of course, he had to do whatever necessary to calm us down after a rousing reading of Old Hasdrubal and the Pirates.)
I remember as a kid walking into his study at home, only to realize he was on his knees, elbows propped on the armchair, head bowed...praying. Even at age 5 or 6, I felt like I had walked in on an intimate conversation. I knew he wasn't saying a few trite words but rather in those moments, he was kneeling before the throne of God, praising, confessing, thanking, pleading.
I remember sitting around the dinner table, night after night, year after year, beginning each meal with prayer and ending with devotions and another prayer. At times to me, it felt long and ritualistic, but now as a parent I look back and have a deep appreciation for how those habits of family prayer and communal Scripture reading formed me, and I hope to carry on those same practices with my own children.
I remember him taking me out for breakfast at the town diner on my birthday. Mom would call the school and tell them I'd be late. I'd order Belgian waffles with vanilla ice cream, slathered in strawberries or chocolate syrup. It was the best. Once I got to school, I'd brag to my friends about why I was late - and it wasn't because I got to eat ice cream or because I had permission to miss that first hour. I bragged because I got to spend the morning with my dad.
I remember walking through the grocery store with him (this still happens) and having to stop because someone who knew him would see us and want to thank him for something he said or did. As soon as we'd walk into the next aisle, he'd confess, "I have no idea who that person is." We'd chuckle. But regardless of his own memory, they remembered him and the wisdom that he offered in a time of need.
One of his most often used phrases is, "We have much to be thankful for." (Another is "Suck it up and go," but that's for another day.)
Yes, he voices thankfulness when talking about good times. But I remember him echoing those words in the midst of his own cancer. The refrain was repeated again as he cared for my mom through pancreatic cancer and then again after her death. He's continued to exemplify an attitude of thanksgiving through recent health issues, various life frustrations and a myriad of ministry challenges.
My dad is not perfect, he makes hilariously awkward comments that somehow only he can get away with and my sisters and I regularly nag him to eat better. Yet what I hold onto most is his unwavering faith in Christ, his commitment to his family and his godly example to others both in good times and in bad.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. For many reasons, I can confidently say, "I have much to be thankful for"...not least of which is you.
Photo by Anna Guziak.