First of all, I know that yesterday was the day to honor fathers. However, we were busy honoring the second of our grandsons to graduate this year, and by the time we returned from the party at our son and DIL's home, two hours from here, it was too late to write coherently. Thus, a post to honor my father on the day after.
My daddy was tall, dark, and handsome. He was humble, generous, hardworking, and intelligent. He was my daddy (we always called him daddy, and do so to this day, twenty nine years after he moved to Heaven) and he was my teacher and my pastor. Yes, I am a PK, preacher's kid.
The story of me begins in Wisconsin, a few years after daddy graduated from the Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, and was assigned to a vicarage in Wisconsin. It was there in the church, at least this is what we've been told, where he first saw a beautiful woman in a white dress with long dark hair, singing in the choir loft, and where he decided he would marry her. He did, and a year and a half later I was born, and he became a daddy. My daddy.
I learned many lessons from daddy during my growing up years, age two and a half until thirteen and a half, when he served two small country congregations in northeastern Iowa. One of my earliest memories is of him laughing and carrying me on his shoulders across the huge green lawn of the parsonage where we lived. It's about this time that I realized he was not just my daddy, but he was the preacher, too. I vividly remember one Sunday in church when it dawned on me that the man in the pulpit in the black robe, the man with the deep God-like voice, was my daddy!
From these formative years, I recall one lesson in particular that was drummed into my head. He who does not work, neither shall he eat. It probably struck me most clearly one hot, humid, Iowa summer afternoon, when I was recruited to help him for a little while in our huge vegetable garden. I'm sure I wanted to ride my bike, climb the tall pine trees, or play in the church cemetery just down the lane rather than pull a few weeds in the rows of peas or beans. Daddy didn't yell at me. He just told me that if I couldn't help with growing the food in the garden, then I didn't need to expect to eat the food either. I'm sure I grumbled, but the lesson was learned and is in my head to this day.
Respect your elders. Honor your parents and all others in authority. These lessons weren't taught on occasion. They were lived daily. We knew from little on that God had placed parents, teachers, government officials, and others over us and that they were to be obeyed unless they asked us to do something contrary to God's Word. No questions asked or arguments permitted about those lessons, although I sure rebelled against them in my teen years.
During those rebellious years in the early sixties, I also was taught another valuable lesson. You are known by the company you keep. Daddy didn't judge a person's heart, but he kept his eyes and ears open, and when their actions and words proved a bit on the wild side, he most definitely let me know if I should be hanging out with them or not!
I also learned that Pride goeth before a fall, and hard work never hurt anybody, and on the subject of wearing slacks to church, daddy's opinion was if you can dress up for your friends, you can dress up for God.
A lesson that was taught not only to us, but to the whole church community, was contained in a small pamphlet that daddy wrote and published way back in the 1940's, I believe. It was this truth: You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. We were taught that a portion of our allowance, babysitting money, job earnings, and even monetary gifts, was to be given to the Lord. After all, nothing we have is ours. It was all given us by God, and we are to be good stewards of our blessings, whether it is our time, talent, or money.
The most important lessons, those lessons for our eternal life, were learned around the dinner table each night, as daddy took the well worn devotion booklet off the window sill behind his chair at the table, and read to us the devotion for the day, followed by the Lord's Prayer, and then the singing of a hymn. Those short fifteen minutes of every single night of my growing up years are among my most precious memories of my daddy.
Beyond being my daddy at home, he was also my pastor and my teacher. As my pastor, he baptized me, confirmed me, and married me. We moved to Minnesota when I was thirteen and my dad accepted the call to teach in our church body's high school, college, and seminary. I had him as my professor for freshman in high school religion, and freshman in college religion.
As his life neared it's end, when he was way too young, my daddy still taught me lessons daily. I made his lunch for him at noon as mom was still working at that time, and towards the last days, I fed him his jello, the only food he had the energy to eat. He was so patient, knowing the end was coming, but knowing it would come only in God's time.
Thank you my Heavenly Father, for giving me this wonderful man as an earthly father. Thank You for the lessons he taught me daily. Forgive me for failing miserably in learning those lessons, and in that failure, disobeying not only him, but You. Keep me strong in the lessons he taught me that point the only way to Heaven and eternal life with You. In Jesus saving name. Amen.