During the 30 days leading up to my 30th birthday, I am posting a letter a day expressing thankfulness for someone or something that has played a major role in shaping the first 30 years of my life.
As I've tried to sort through the differences in what I learned from you and mom, and how the ways you each taught me affected me as I was growing up, the best analogy I can come up with is that of a house. I think that when people look at me, they might see a lot of mom: my interests, the way I communicate, etc. I think that her training nurtured my heart and graced the interior and exterior with color and warmth. When I think of the role you have played, terms like "foundation", "structure", and "stability" come to mind. What is a house without a foundation? On what do you place the paint and the decor if there are no walls? How is the heart nurtured and taught to bloom if it is not first protected and sheltered by a reliable structure?
I credit so much of anything I've accomplished to you, Dad, because of the confidence you instilled in me. You encouraged me to try to find answers to my own questions, gave me the freedom to try to figure things out on my own, taught me to use tools and to measure twice and cut once. You were just the right balance of being protective and teaching me to stand up for myself. While I did always feel cherished and special to you, the way you encouraged me to work at things made me believe I was capable of doing things I may not have done otherwise.
Thank you for showing that you value the Kingdom in the way that you live. When you have been tender-hearted toward unborn babies and in worship, when you have given generously and sacrificially, and when you have treated those who work for you with respect and humility; you have shown me what it looks like to store up treasure in heaven and to keep my eyes on things above, not on earthly things. I often think back to when I was young and you loved the songs, "Find Us Faithful" by Steve Green and "Thank You" by Ray Boltz. Those two songs formed part of the lens through which I saw you: I knew you wanted to leave a legacy of faithfulness and that giving to the Lord was important to you. I have never doubted your faithfulness to mom, our family, or the Lord; and since I have always grown up with that type of security, I know I still can't even comprehend its value.
Thank you for reading the Bible to us every night, and for praying for us and singing "I Come to the Garden Alone" before bed. Thank you for taking me to baseball games and the roller skating rink when I was little. Thank you for encouraging me to have jobs in high school and for making me sit down to look at my own finances in college, even though it stressed me out. Thank you for being gracious when I ran into things while driving your cars. Thank you for valuing the summers I spent working at camp, or interning at the church, or doing mission work overseas, even though I wasn't making much (if any) money. Thank you for the family tree you made Josh and I for our wedding, showing the generations of decades of committed marriage that we are carrying on - it was one of my very favorite gifts. Thank you for being a great Grandad to my babies and for already teaching Liam more about baseball than I know.
I love you Dad!