a letter to my kids for Father’s Day

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Hayleigh Grace, Braxton Jacob, and Royce Adelyn,

It might seem silly to be writing you a letter for Father’s Day. Why wouldn’t I be writing a letter to Pop or Papa or Daddy? There are many things I could say to each one of these incredible fathers. I could tell Pop how thankful I am that I got to grow up with a father who was as supportive and involved as he was, a father who was at all my games cheering the loudest, even though at the time I may not have appreciated it. I could thank him for teaching me how to think and reason and debate and how to “just do the right thing”. I could thank him for his phrases and clichés that annoyed and puzzled me growing up, that now just puzzle me and make me smile because to me they will always be just so “Pop”.  I could thank him for still letting us borrow his lawn mower, still offering me advice when I call about something that I am stumped on, still letting me know his home is my home too and always will be. I could write him a letter thanking him for modeling how to overcome adversity, bad choices and how to put his family first-even when he was not raised in a home that did that. I could tell him just how much he has shaped who I am, in ways neither of us completely realize.

I could write Papa a letter and thank him for raising such a hard-working, caring, servant leader. I could thank him for welcoming me into his family years ago and making me feel as if I was always a part of it. I could thank him for his hugs that welcome us each time we visit; I know he really means them. I could thank him for his endless stories, his unwavering joy and perseverance in hardship and his example of providing for his family. Oh yeah, and for letting us borrow his lawn mower. And I will. I will write Pop and Papa a letter for Father’s Day.

But today I want to talk to you not about my daddy or daddy’s daddy. I want to write you a letter about your daddy. Let me tell you some things about your daddy that you might not know. When I met your daddy he was 15 years old. He had bleached “tips” (back then for some reason people thought it looked cool to bleach the tips of their hair and spike them up…even if their hair was dark brown. We can thank a rapper named Eminem for that. Luckily Daddy’s hair was already almost blonde so it didn’t look as horrible as if could have.) Daddy was pretty silly back then. He did goofy things to make people laugh. Kind of like you, B. People thought he was kind of crazy and irresponsible, but really it was all innocent. Daddy always had a good heart. And he made me laugh. He made me feel comfortable to be around him. And he was a great listener. He never judged anyone or made them feel bad about themselves because they looked or acted different or because they did something embarrassing or because they had baggage like family issues. Daddy is still the same way. He still makes me just so comfortable to be with him. And he still makes me laugh. I am sure you have noticed people like to be around him. Daddy is the same person no matter who he is with. He doesn't change who he is to impress people. And he doesn’t expect people to change who they are to be around him. That is one of my favorite things about Daddy.

Over the years Daddy and I really grew up together. I am so thankful that God let us meet each other young. I got to see Daddy turn from a goofy boy into a responsible, mature and caring man. Yet somehow, he has managed to keep much of the true nature of himself. So many people sacrifice who they are or they cover up or change the core of themselves as they grow up. Daddy didn’t do that. He found his identity in Jesus. He worked on improving his flaws, on growing up, on strengthening his weaknesses. But he also strengthened his strengths. He never lost some of the parts of him he has as a teenager, some of the parts about him that I first loved.

I never doubted, as some people did, whether or not Daddy would provide for me financially when we got married. He had already taken care of me for years in ways that were much more sacrificial and much more difficult than making enough money. You see, Daddy is a natural care-giver. He takes such wonderful care of me and you. He treats me like a treasure. He treats me like his most precious gem. And that is how I feel. I know Daddy loves me. He showed it to me in my ugliest times: in times of severe mental illness, in times of emotional distress, in times of spiritual doubt, in times of physical sickness, in times of family crisis, in times of sinful blindness. Daddy had seen it all even before we were married, when he could still “get out”. And you know what he did? He didn’t run away. He actually drew me closer. He showed me Jesus, not always with his words, but with his actions. He loved me without condition. He loved me when I was unlovely. He loved me when I told him to stop loving me (even though I didn’t mean it). So, when we said our vows on our wedding day I knew Daddy meant them because he has already been living them. And I have never known your Daddy to break a promise. Ever. And your Daddy has never let me down when it really mattered.

So on Father’s Day 6 years ago, just 9 months after we got married, when the pregnancy test said Hayleigh was on the way, I knew who would be my rock. It was Daddy. He never wavered. He barely batted an eye when I told him our surprise. Your Daddy is better than anyone I know when it comes to big things or hard things. He rises to any occasion. He does what needs to be done. He carries who needs to be carried (often me). And He takes it as an honor. When he found out on Father’s Day that he was going to be a father, he trusted in his Heavenly Father and Daddy led with the strength God gave.

When each on of you were born I watched Daddy fall in love all over again. I watched him hold you and smile at you and talk to you. And I fell in love with him all over again. Daddy might not always say it with words the way I do, but everything he does is for us. The reason Daddy cares so much about work is because he wants to take care of his family. The reason Daddy wants you to pick up your toys is because he knows the toys all over bother me and he doesn’t want me to have to pick them all up after you are in bed. The reason Daddy expects you to listen and obey is because that is what God expects of you. It says so in the Bible. And if it says it in the Bible, Daddy believes it and Daddy tries to live it out.

Daddy loves you. He loves each one of you very, very much. Remember when I told you that people don’t have to change to be around Daddy and Daddy doesn’t change himself to be around other people? Well, that is still true. You can be yourself around Daddy. You can be goofy; you can be serious; you can have big questions; you can have big tears; you can make mistakes; you can be just who God made you to be. Because just like God, Daddy loves you (and likes you!) no matter what! And just like you can always trust God and expect Him to take care of you-you can trust that Daddy will do all he can to take care of you too, because you are important to him. You can also know that your Daddy will never stop loving me and I will never stop loving him. Love is a choice and it takes work. But Daddy and I love God too much to stop doing what He says and God tells us to love each other. So that is what we will do, even when it is hard. We promised on our wedding day to love each other forever, no matter what- not just to feel love but to act on that love. And didn’t I tell you Daddy has never broken a promise or let me down? So you can believe when we said those words when we got married that we still mean them today and we will still mean them for tomorrow, and for all of our tomorrows.

Some day you may be tempted to think that you don’t have a good Daddy. Well, let me tell you the truth: that would be a lie. Because you do. Hayleigh, Braxton and Royce- you have one of the good ones. You have one of the best ones. Your Daddy messes up, sure. But you know one of the things that is awesome about God? He loves us even when we make mistakes. He loves us even when we sin. He loves us no matter what. And He gives us grace and mercy. Jesus didn’t just take your punishment on the cross, he took mine and Daddy’s too! And we are so, so thankful. Because God loves us and forgives us, we can love and forgive others. Because God is so great of a father to us, Daddy can be one of the good daddies to you. He can love you no matter what because God teaches him how and God makes it possible.

So my loves, if you ever wonder for a second just how great a Daddy you have, wonder no more. Because you have the best Daddy I could ever choose for you. In fact, you have the one and only Daddy that God Himself chose for you! How awesome is that? That God chose your Daddy from before the creation of the world, to be the right one for each of you, and for each of you to be the right ones for us?

I am so glad that I met your Daddy 13 years ago. I am so glad that he chose to love me despite of all my flaws, just as Jesus does. I am so glad that I fit with him comfortably and that even when it is hard I know he and I will never stop loving and fighting for our love. And I am so glad that we found out 6 years ago on Father’s Day that your Daddy was going to be a father, because he is great at it. And I am so glad that God made him a daddy again and again. I am so glad for our life together. I want you to know that, just in case you ever wonder.

So, when you read this, please do a couple things. First, thank God. Thank Him for being the perfect heavenly father. Thank him for loving you and liking you. Thank him for letting you come as you are and not expecting you to change who you are for him to love you. Thank him for being worthy of your trust and worthy of your praise. Thank him that he has a plan for your life and that He will bring about what is best for you-even if it is hard. And thank Him for part of that plan being your Daddy. Second, go give your Daddy a hug and tell him that you love him. Whisper it in his ear. Run to him with arms out stretched and shout it. Grab his face with both your hands and say it right into his eyes. Say it in a song. Write it in a letter. But say it. And never stop. Never stop thanking God and never stop telling Daddy how much you love him. Because you got one of the good ones.

Love, Mommy

photo credit:  Rachel Ann Photography

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