Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dear Dad,

Because it's Father's Day today, Kels and I are reminded that we are two of the most blessed girls there are because we can call you our Father. Although you are in Rhode Island, Kels is in Illinois, and I am in Texas, we didn't want to miss this opportunity to tell you how much we love you and some of the MANY reasons why.

Whitney: Every morning of my school career (until I could drive), Dad would drive me and Kels to school. In elementary school, we would leave promptly at 8:07 to arrive by 8:15 to Lipscomb. In high school, it was a little earlier - Kels and Dad would get in the car downstairs while I scrambled to finish getting dressed, then I'd sprint out the front door to meet them in the driveway, usually with my makeup bag in hand (to finish up in the car). Thinking back on it now, this had to be so annoying. If I were Dad, I probably would've asked me to try to be ready to go a little earlier. But not once did he complain about it and he always seemed to look forward to our trips to school. He always made sure the radio was off so we could have great conversations - and we did. He has always been so patient with me, and during my hormonal teenage years, that is huge.

Kelsey: One of my favorite memories with Dad was at the annual Christian Artist Golf Tournament in Estes Park, Colorado. Dad would play in the tournament every year, and now that I was about twelve, I came along with him to help out. He had put all of the pairings together for the four-man scramble, but when tee time came around, we realized that we were one player short. "Go get your clubs, Kels. You're our fourth." I will never forget those words. I couldn't believe it! Dad and I were playing on a team with Dave Clark and Larnelle Harris, and I couldn't wait to get out there and play. I know that Dad could still go through each and every hole that day and explain all that happened, but in a word, it was pretty magical. I played golf like I never had before (in a good way), and our team ended up lapping the fielding and winning big. I still remember the huge smile on my face when Dad and I got a picture together with our matching trophies. :)

I'm not sure if he'll remember this, but in one of my art classes my freshman or sophomore year, we were working on photography and I really wanted to take some pictures that stood out. I asked Dad if he'd mind taking me to a Civil War graveyard about 30 minutes away to watch the sun rise. He said he would (scoring Dad of the Year points already!). We headed out the next morning, waiting for the sun to rise, and it seemed to be the foggiest morning in weeks. Nothing ever really happened and my pictures turned out terrible. But on our way home, he was still so encouraging and didn't mind waking up early to spend time with me.

Another wonderful time I spent with Dad was in New Hamsphire two summers ago, right after I had gotten home from Africa. I jumped on the bus with he and Steve Green and tagged along for their concerts in New Hampshire and Maine. That trip had some wonderful Dad-daughter memories: a boat ride on Lake Winnepasaukee, a 4th of July drive in a really nice old convertible, a rainy visit to the beach in Maine, and some fun games on the bus. I was so happy to be there with him and was so proud of him when he played piano each night. I still am so proud and amazed every time I see him play, and though I sometimes claim to be "in competition" with his piano playing, I know I am not (and will never be) even close.

I love how proud of me he has always been and how he has unconditionally supported me. For every single cross country race I can remember, I always had to find him in the crowd before the starting gun went off. I knew he was the proudest Dad out there and seeing his excited face gave me the confidence I needed to run a good race.

Although I really admire lots of things about Dad, I really look up to the way he loves Mom. He prioritizes her and loves her so intentionally, and they love spending all of their time together. He always values her opinions and input, and he respects everything about her. Their relationship is such an incredible example to Whit and I. I am so thankful to have had that example modeled before me so that I can see what true love really is, especially as I prepare to get married in less than six weeks.

I love how he is able to forgive. Coming home from a trip to Texas with a tattoo on my ankle wasn't his favorite thing (I knew it wouldn't be) but after some time had passed, he had forgiven me for intentionally rebelling against him and Mom. But I still couldn't forgive myself. He and Mom sat me down in the living room and explained that they really did forgive me and as I cried, they each kissed the tattoo just to prove it. Even when I've made mistakes and we've had disagreements, Dad has always accepted me and made sure I knew how much he loved me.

I also really admire Dad's humility in everything that he does. Even though he is so good at so many things -- he's an incredible pianist, very smart, a very successful musician, etc. -- he carries himself so humbly and with so much character and integrity. Although most people know that he's an incredible pianist and musician, most don't know some of his other less publicized strengths -- 1. He is an incredible shooter in basketball and still beats me every time. 2. He remembers every statistic about every sports player you could ever think of. 3. He's becoming a great biker. 4. He is an avid learner and studier of the Bible and all that is related to it. 5. He is a great writer. 6. He plays a mean accordian and was the national champion at age seven. (Don't get me for that one later, Dad :) I hope that my life will reflect the humility that Dad has displayed in his.

I love how Dad has always led our family spiritually. Even from the time we were very young, we'd eat breakfast together each morning and Dad would read from a children's devotional book and insert our names into the story to help keep our attention. We even memorized Scripture together and prayed from our prayer list, crossing off requests as God answered them. Dad helped lay the foundation for our spiritual journeys from such a young age and I am so thankful for that.

For these reasons and so many more, we love you very much, Dad. Happy Father's Day!

Love, Whit and Kels

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