Father’s Day feels a little different for me this year. Maybe it’s because the past year or so has been full of emotionally charged events. I got married a little over a year ago, so becoming a father is something I see for myself in the not-too-distant future (Mare Cris and I are waiting until we get established in the States to take that step). Months later my mom passed away—a harsh reminder that no one, including our parents, will be with us forever.

I’d like to publicly share what is on my heart this Father’s Day.  These are some very personal memories and reflections that I hope will serve as a tribute to my dad.

Some time in the 70's

Some time in the 70’s

I was blessed to grow up in a home that was led by a hard-working, Christian dad. I’m sure I took him for granted at times, but even in my youth I realized some of my friends were not as fortunate as I. This became especially clear to me around the time of my early teenage years. Two of my best friends were from broken families. Mom and Dad always welcomed them in our home and even on some vacations/outings.

I remember one time when Dad allowed me to carry one of my friends on a fishing trip. We got up during the wee hours of the morning, hitched up the boat trailer to our old truck, and headed to the lake. Apparently the trailer was not quite connected the right way because it became unattached while we were going down the freeway. You can imagine our surprise when we saw the boat/trailer passing us in the left lane. Fortunately it ended up in the grassy median without causing a wreck (wasn’t much traffic at that time in the morning). I don’t remember how many fish we caught, but I assume the rest of the trip went well.

The Tradition Continues: Dad with his grandsons (2011).

The Tradition Continues: Dad with his grandsons (2011).

I could share dozens of fishing stories. Some would involve bringing along friends; most would be memories of just the family. All are precious to me, because I realize not all boys are blessed to grow up with dads who take them fishing.

Dad has been a deacon in our church as long as I can remember. He and Mom always made sure we were there every Sunday. Sometimes we would wake up early in the morning to cook for an event called Brotherhood Breakfast, a Sunday morning gathering of men in the church.  I know my life would not be what it is if I hadn’t grown up hearing the gospel on such a regular basis.  I’m blessed—not all boys have the privilege of growing up in a home with a strong spiritual leader.

I got really serious about my relationship with Christ early in my high school years. Not long after that I felt God was calling me into vocational ministry. It didn’t make much since to me since I was so shy. One night I told my parents what I sensed God was asking me to do. Their advice was similar to what Eli told Samuel (1st Samuel 3:8-9)—they encouraged me to keep listening to God and obey Him. Mom and Dad have always supported my ministry, even when it took me far away from them.

My early years of ministry were a real eye-opener for me. I still remember some of the training I went through as a teenager in preparation for doing prison ministry. “Be careful about referring to God as ‘father,’” the prison chaplain warned us, “that doesn’t bring up a nice image for many of the men you’ll meet in here.” I understood it, but I was thankful for being unable to relate to it.

I spent years as a substance abuse counselor after I graduated college. I did meet people who came from good families and just made bad choices. But I met a lot more whose lives seemed to be direct results of growing up without a father (or with a bad one). It made me all the more grateful–not all boys grow up in a stable, Christian home.

These and other memories have flooded my mind this Fathers’ Day.

There’s a lot more I could say here–all the lessons my dad has taught me about the importance of education, financial stewardship, and the list goes on.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad–I Love you!
I wouldn’t be the man I am without a father like you.

The righteous who walks in his integrity—
    blessed are his children after him!
-Proverbs 20:7