Friday, September 08, 2006

Daddy's Birthday

Yesterday was my dear Daddy's 56th birthday. I wasn't present, because we live far away, but also because he happens to be in Oxford, England. He will be there until the end of November. He is studying at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He's in "an intensive 8 week programme is designed for those seeking to sharpen evangelistic and apologetic skills within the world of business, and includes input from renowned Christian business leaders." More information at http://www.theocea.org/ This is a program founded by the brilliant Ravi Zacharias.
Can you believe that? My own father studying at the college of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, Sheldon Vanauken, T.S. Elliot, so many more!!! The college of great thinkers, intellectual giants! I am awed, amazed, and unutterably proud. We all knew he would be accepted (as he gained acceptance into MIT, University of Chicago, and Harvard, years before), yet he never expressed confidence in it. He humbly admitted he might be accepted, but that it was in the Lord's hands. And he seems so mild and humbled to even be there, while all I want to do is shout with glee. His attitude is right, of course. It's why he is there, I'm sure. Because the Lord resists pride.
I am proud of where my dad is, but I'm so much more proud of Who he is. He hungers after the Lord and seeks Him diligently. This is an understatement. I can't tell you how many times I would rise at 5 or 6 and see the little light on in the den, with Daddy on his knees in prayer, or with his Bible and notebook open before him, or with his eyes closed and lips moving as he memorized whole books of the Bible... Knowing he may have been up since the 4's. He did this while most of us slept. And then he would exercise, then have breakfast with everyone at the table, and then lead us in a study of the Bible and prayer. He shepherded our hearts carefully. He gave us goals and spiritual challenges to work toward. But he set the example himself. How could you argue with his challenge to memorize the Sermon on the Mount (3 chapters) when he had the whole book of Romans down?
Daddy is gentle and kind. From as early as I can remember, he would try to bring gifts home from his trips, no matter how short. But with 8 children and a wife, this could be expensive. So sometimes he only brought 1 or 2 of us presents. He carefully explained that our time would come, and he walked us through recognizing jealousy in ourselves and repenting of it. I'm so grateful for those lessons! He sought opportunities to take each one of us on "special times" and trips with just him. I remember looking for houses in Chicago when I was 8, and him letting me eat ice cream in the new van, because he knew I'd be careful. I remember our first missions trip together. All our business trips as we worked alongside one another. How revered he was in the business world. How smart.
I love how he has sweet traditions. Camping after Thanksgiving, New Year's eve at Wellspring, Jo Patti Seafood in Pensacola, Chocolate on Valentines to all the girls (the best & biggest to Mom, of course)... I love the notes he left me throughout my growing up.
Daddy and Mom have more people than I could name who have come to them for counsel or help. This is because they see the fruit of godliness and peace in their lives. Dad and Mom make themselves available at all times for helping others. And they speak truth in love. Biblical truth. They are compassionate. I have seen Daddy do things in secret to bless or help others, wanting them to praise God and not man.
This is long, and I haven't even scratched the surface. Daddy is the funniest man I know (except now Jonathan is tied, I laugh at him all the time!)... Daddy is innovative, clever, prudent with money (and taught us all this), generous, wise, consistently loving. He's shared the Gospel openly, but also lived it in front of everyone. Many clients have seen him pray or read his Bible, in spare moments. Some have asked. I'll always treasure how he gave ma away on our wedding day, no reserves, no regrets, joyfully (and tearfully) in the Lord.
I'm preparing a letter for my father, and this is only a sample of my thoughts. I don't talk deeply about people dear to me on here much, mainly because I feel I should tell them and not everyone else. But I know Daddy doesn't read this and I just would like to honor who he is, as he's in a small 3-bedroom, 1 bathroom flat in Oxford right now. With 7 people and 1.86 dollars/pound.
I love my father so much. And so here's thinking of him on his birthday.

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