June 16, 2013

A Letter To My Dad

Dear Dad,

Happy Father's Day!  The house is still dark, and I'm up early thinking about you.  You're probably still asleep, tucked away in your bed in the memory support unit where you live.  I know you don't know it's Father's Day, and you probably won't know it until we arrive to celebrate and tell you what a special day it is. And more than likely, you'll forget right after we tell you, but that's okay. Father's Day is a chance for me to celebrate you.  It's something I do every day now.  I celebrate every minute we have and those that have passed.

I wish in these last years of your life I could give you something greater.  You deserve that.  You've walked with God more closely than anyone I have ever known.  There should be a special place for you, a place where great men live, a place where God's friends live.  As I write, I remember that there is a place like that, and God has a special room reserved just for you.  I'll hate it when you have to leave me, but I'll be so glad that you finally get to live in that place where God's people get to go.  It's beyond our imagination what you'll experience there, but this I know; you'll be whole again, and you'll be with Jesus.  That's all that matters to me now.


It's a privilege to be your daughter. All of my life, even to this day, people always stop me and tell me how great my dad is.  You have been a great physician, missionary, Bible teacher, husband and father, but mainly, you are just a great man of God.  Even today, those who didn't know you before you had Alzheimer's tell me what an amazing man you are, how they love you, and love taking care of you.  You are still a physician with a pastor's heart.  I love that they call you Doc there where you live.

You've always been a humble man, taking no credit or praise for yourself.  I know you would never pat yourself on the back, but I want you to know you've done well, very well.  You aren't able to look back on your life now and reflect on all that has happened, all that you've been and accomplished, so just trust me when I say that you've thought well, you've talked well, you've walked well, and you've lived well.  You've been faithful in all that God has given you to do.  No worries Dad, no worries. 

 I miss you sometimes.  I know you're still here with us, and I know you still want to help me in any way that you can, but sometimes I miss the way things used to be. I miss how you used to tell people that you found me in the jungles of New Guinea when you were a missionary.  I miss being able to call you up and have you explain a Bible passage to me.  I miss the sound of your keys jingling in your pocket when you walk down the hall.  I miss hearing that nick name you gave your daughters and your granddaughters.  You don't call us that anymore.  I think you've forgotten it.  I miss your strength, your storytelling, and knowing that when I didn't know what to do, you would.  But even this is okay too Dad because you did being a Dad well.  

You taught me what I needed to know before I would need to know it.  You poured into me all that I would need to draw on when you would no longer be able to teach me or answer my questions. This is what being a Dad is.  Because you did it right when you could, I can now ask myself, "What would Dad do?" and know the answer.  The amazing thing is that you are still teaching me.  God uses you in my life every day to teach me what it means to be His daughter in a world of broken and hurting people.  You are in pain Dad, but I want you to know that God is using all of it.  Our suffering is not wasted when it comes cupped in the hand of God.  Your suffering is changing me and molding me, and through your life for the full 47 years I've been a part of it, (47 today) God has shown me that he will not waste one moment of a life completely surrendered to Him.  The tangles in your brain cannot erase the Dad that you've been and the man that you are, and they can't separate you from the love of God, nothing can.  God's even in the tangles Dad, he's even in the tangles.


Thank you Dad for saying yes to Jesus.  Thank you for being completely sold out to him.  Thank you for bringing me under the influence of the Gospel.  Thank you for being the marvelous, unique man that you are, that physician with a pastor's heart. 

Grace and peace Dad, grace and peace.  I love you, and I am so very proud of you. (Those are your words, now let them be mine.)

Your jungle baby,

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14 comments:

  1. Stephani, Beautiful beyond words. Blessings to you as you spend time with your father today.
    Beth

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    1. Thanks sweet Beth. I did have a good day with Dad! I was able to take him out for a dip of butter pecan ice cream, his favorite. He just loves being with family. That's all that matters to him.

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  2. What a beautiful tribute to your dad. I pray you had special moments with him today.

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    1. Thanks Barbie! Yes, I did. He's a pretty neat guy.

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  3. Such lovely words, Stephani. I'm glad you got to spend another Father's Day with your dad.

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  4. Dear Stephani -
    My words are written through tears - tears of incredible joy that you have experienced the same kind of father I had! My dear dad has been with Jesus for ten years now and I miss him terribly - but I would NEVER ask him to come back from that incredible place where great men go to live. Your words about your dad could be the words for mine and I believe one of these days your dad and mine will sit down together and share the joys of ministry and the joys of having daughters to share their faith - and their God - with. Until that day you are a precious gift to your dad even in this time of his life. Thank you, thank you, my friend, for sharing your heart with us. I loved the picture of your father from his missionary days. It reminded me so much of our dear friend who ministered near where you were 'found' in the jungle. I MUST write and tell you more one of these days, as I promised.
    ~Adrienne~

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    1. Adrienne, how blessed we are! I'm so glad you were able to think about your own Dad while reading my words! Your dad must have been a wonderful man! Yes, do send me an email about your experience with New Guinea. I'd love to hear it! I'm still hoping I can make it there myself one of these days. Maybe God will work that out . . .

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  5. Stephani~ I absolutely love your father! We speak just a little each day and have established a bit of a relationship. One thing I know for sure is how much love he has for his family. He is such a caring, gentle man. I really feel he and your Mom have been a true blessing in my life. I so look forward to seeing bothe their faces each and every day! Thank you:-)

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    1. Suzy, thank you so much for your kind words, and for your gentle care of Mom and Dad. It is knowing that Dad is surrounded by people like you who care about him as an individual that makes all of the difference. And I have to tell you that your attention to Mom has been a great blessing! As you know she gets lonely, and having caregivers that take time to listen and be a friend makes it a bit easier. Blessings to you sweet lady!

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  6. Happy birthday to you my friend, and what a wonderful message you shared with us to celebrate your day and father's day too. what a wonderful dad you have (and you look like him to me too) I love that God is in all of our tangles, every single one of them!

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    1. Thanks Anita! I was just thinking today how I haven't visited with you as much lately! I've never been told I look like my Dad, but I'll take it! I'd much rather look like him on the inside though, but I'm afraid I have a looong way to go!! Yes, so glad God's in the tangles . . .

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  7. Hi Stephani,
    It's been a long time since we've connected. I'm so glad you stopped by so that I could read your heart's words to your Dad. What a beautiful and honoring letter to your Dad! He sounds like the ideal father and pastor. You are blessed to have had a father that poured into your life everything you would need before you knew you would need it. A great blessing.
    Thank you for letting us see your heart and honor the man your father is.
    God bless you as you walk through these days and the work He is doing in you.
    Janis

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