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Posted on Oct 21, 2013 in Wisdom | 1 comment

A Little Note

 

This morning I decided to do a writing exercise I’ve been thinking about for a few days.  I modified it from a suggestion I found in Julia Cameron’s book, “The Right to Write.”  To gain some perspective on my current situation, I was to write a letter to myself, using my imagination to write it from the perspective of my 88-year old self.  Fifty years from now, what would I want to say to myself at 38-year old?

I like the exercise because I’ve written letters to my younger self, telling her what I wish she would’ve known back then.  Usually the letter is reassuring and encouraging, with a little touch of reprimand.  Don’t worry so much about this or that.  Appreciate this or that more because you’ll miss it when it’s gone.  That kind of thing.

And so I embarked on a new kind of letter this morning.  I’m not going to share it with you here, but I let my imagination run unchecked.  What would it feel like to be in an 88-year old body?  What would my surroundings look like?  What smells would I encounter?  Sights?  Sounds?  Would I have regrets?  Would I have accomplishments I’d be proud of?  What can happen in fifty years?

My 88-year old imagined self was a great-grandmother, presiding over her brood on Thanksgiving Day.  She had achieved her goals.  She was encouraging, and had just an edge of challenge in her voice.  She had slowed down after a long and fruitful life.  She surprised me by immediately challenging my notion that I’m an older mom and might not have the energy to pull off a large family.  She told me I still have plenty of life, strength, and energy and I should tap into all of it.  I have plenty of time to feel old, but that’s not today.

She went on from there, looking back on her accomplishments and what it took to get there.  She reminded me that I have plenty of time to become all that I hope to be.  It was nice to think about things from that viewpoint, reminding myself that God has worked out amazing things in my life already and He isn’t about to stop now.

That’s one reason I love writing.  I never know what I think until I start to write.  Then what comes out tends to surprise me, even make me chuckle or shed a tear.  So I wrote a little note to myself this morning and it’s made my day.

Have you ever done something like that?  Would you consider doing it today?

 

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Posted on Oct 1, 2013 in Wisdom | 9 comments

The New Girl

The New Girl

When I moved from Nashville to the rural Midwest, even though I was returning to a place that was once home many years ago, it felt a little like walking into a fog. Everyone already knows everyone else. I’m one of the few new people around, so it’s easy for others to remember me. But I face a sea of new faces, names, connections, and stories. Even those faces I knew as a child have changed, and the memory I had of them at 12 years old isn’t exactly fresh. The shops aren’t the same, the roads are a logical sequence of numbers and letters (but I do better with street names), people talk about things I’ve never heard of, and no one knows about all the friends I have in the other place.

One of the most challenging things for me in these last 21 months of marriage and relocation has been making those connections – remembering the person I’ve just been introduced to when they walk away, learning who is related to who (very important around here), catching up on stories I know nothing about. It’s a terrible feeling when I run into someone whose face I know, engage in conversation, but find my mind totally blank when it comes to their name, circumstances, or even where I know them from. It seems rude to tell them I can’t place them and ask for a hint. Instead, I often nod and smile and move on as quickly as I can. It seems the people I actually know are the ones who are often so kind and helpful, taking a moment to remind me of their name and how we know one another.

Another challenge for me has been when someone I’m getting to know talks about the other people in their life. Brother, sister, friend, child… I’m doing really well to know their name, face, occupation, and spouse’s name, but I do not remember the names of most of the other people in their life. So when they off-offhandedly refer to “Susan” I politely listen for a while, straining to find something that will help me make the connection. But when that connection isn’t made, I will actually stop them and say, “Please remind me who Susan is?”

These frustrations make it hard because I have a wonderful group of friends in Nashville (see photo above) with whom I’ve made all the connections. When Shannan mentions Michael she doesn’t have to tell me anything else to identify him. When Pamela mentions Sally, I can picture Sally and her enormous dog. When Penny tells me about The Jerk, there’s no need for explanation. It makes me homesick sometimes, the knowledge that I need to start all over again. Where I could once walk into a room of hundreds and immediately be greeted by those who know me well, I now see faces I want to know but can’t quite place.

Walking into a new place where many people already know one another is intimidating. I’ve joined a local mom’s group and went to a few meetings last year. People were kind, but I didn’t make any connections outside of the group. I signed up to join summer play dates but wasn’t contacted about any. So when it started back up this fall it was hard for me to go. The idea of walking in there, trying to get to know someone new, trying to make friends, made me exhausted. But I’d already paid my membership fee in the Spring, so I forced myself to go. Thank God for the sweet woman who saw me coming and walked right up to find out how my summer went. Within a few minutes of talking to her, I was relaxed and ready to take on a table full of new faces. And after the meeting, I pulled together all my courage and looked those ladies up on Facebook, sending them all friend requests. Whew! I think I used up my stash of courage for at least a week doing all that.

Being the new girl is hard, even for someone who appears out-going and confident. The truth is, I’m shy when in a group of people who all know one another. It’s hard for me to branch out, work the room, and try to catch up on the conversations happening around me. I can only imagine how hard it must be for those who aren’t out-going.

I’ve been “the new girl” many times, and this location has been similar to all the ones before.  Not counting moves for college (where everyone is basically new), I’ve been the new girl at least eight times in my life.  It seems like it might get easier each time, but I’ve found it to be more difficult.  It seems my capacity to reach out shrinks with each move, causing me to embrace the part of me that’s shy and introverted and only pull out the extroverted, out-going side on occasion.  I see the beauty in the tight-knit communities of those who’ve lived and worked side by side for most of their lives.  I understand the risk it takes to invite someone new into your well-functioning, comfortable group of friends.  I don’t find fault with those who have closely guarded friendships and seek to preserve their peace and identity as a member of an inner-ring of companionship.

I’d just like to encourage all my readers – no matter where you live – to look around you as you plan your next shopping trip, play date, or bonfire. Are there people in your church, parenting group, or extended family that are new? Why not invite them to join your group of friends? It’ll be a little more work for you to help that person find their place, but you might just make a friend for life.  If it doesn’t work out, you don’t have to invite that person again.  But maybe, just maybe, you’ll find that the new person brings life and joy and dimension into your group that wasn’t possible otherwise.

Matthew 25:40
And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

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Posted on Aug 20, 2013 in Wisdom | 0 comments

The Launch!

The Launch!

I recently attended a conference for Christian women who are writers, speakers, and leaders called She Speaks 2013.  It was an amazing experience for me and I learned so much!  I cannot say enough about this conference if you want to become a writer or speaker in the Christian market.

The main thing I gleaned from the conference is that good writing isn’t enough.

 A successful published author is someone with a real job, real responsibilities, and a real time-commitment. 

There is much more to it than writing well.

After discussing what I learned with my husband and his parents (who we farm with), we all agreed to work together to launch my writing career.  It’s a team effort to help me achieve these goals.

If you’d like to keep up with my daily work to become a published author, you can follow me on Twitter @wysekimberly

My Office, Complete with comfy chair, reference materials, computer, printer, file cabinet, and snack!

My Office, Complete with comfy chair, reference materials, computer, printer, file cabinet, and snack!

One of the first things I learned is that I need a better website.  I was very happy with my WordPress.com site, but having a hard time making it successful.  Once I understood what needed to change, I committed to do it.  This site is my work-in-progress. 

Please bear with me as I figure out how to go from total ignorance of websites to becoming an educated website owner.  It absolutely terrifies me!  As I’ve been working today to transfer the old blog information to this site, my face has been hot and fire-red.  I am stepping out of my comfort zone and challenging the limits of my blood pressure.

I’ll write more about the other changes I’m making as the time approaches.

I’ve been calling myself a writer for some time, but I finally have the tools and knowledge to become a published author.  Please whisper a prayer for me as you read these words.  I can use all the prayers I can get.  Thank you.

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Posted on Jul 18, 2013 in Parenting, Wisdom | 17 comments

Mennonite

Mennonite

Rick and I have had to overcome some major differences in lifestyle and point of view in order to be together. Because my father’s parents were farmers and my childhood vacations were often spent running around with cousins through pastures and barns, visiting the small, Mennonite church many of my close relatives attended, and observing a more simple lifestyle, I had an idea of what his life was like. My lifestyle in Nashville was much more foreign to him. Nearly all of Rick’s close relatives live within a few miles of his home, attend his traditional Mennonite church (erase horses and buggies from your mind now; it’s not Amish), and many are also farmers. My family had moved to the city when I was 13, left the Mennonite denomination to pastor independent, Charismatic churches, and had embraced an openness to that which is new and different. It became a way of life to us – trying new things, comparing them to how the old ways worked, trying other things, and coming to our own conclusions on what was the best way to live.

My very traditional, stable, steady husband isn’t always sure what to make of my ways of doing things. I often find myself frustrated at what seems to me is his determined support of something simply for the sake of tradition. I don’t embrace the new just for the sake of newness. I like to wait and see what other people discover, let them work out the kinks, and then determine if it’s worth my attention. However, if I’m called upon to tackle something new and different, I find a certain satisfaction and joy in that as well. Rick may well reject the newer, even after it’s been proven effective, simply because he doesn’t want to change.

What church we would commit to as a married couple was one of the major discussions and challenges we faced early on in our relationship. I’m a graduate of a seminary that has Pentecostal roots and have been ordained as a pastor in a non-denominational, spirit-filled church. Although Rick has visited churches like I’m used to, he has faithfully attended the Mennonite church of his childhood all his life and is very involved there. He told me he was willing to look at other churches with me if I felt I couldn’t be comfortable in his church, but asked me to at least give it a try. He spoke passionately about the kindness of the members, the love they show for one another, and the acceptance I would find there. We discussed our views on the gifts of the Spirit and Rick assured me that he was familiar with the way I practice my faith. Although he has never embraced the more mystical side, he believes it’s real and has no problem with me practicing and teaching it to our children.

I went to my pastor and asked him what he thought. I was almost positive he would tell me that Rick and I didn’t belong together. Shocked, I listened while he told me the good things he knew about the Mennonite denomination, assured me that there’s nothing to be concerned about in their doctrine, and encouraged me to go to Rick’s church and embrace it. My father’s family has been Mennonite for hundreds of years. My parents met at Eastern Mennonite University (then College).  I would simply be returning to the faith of my ancestors and discovering for myself the beauty in it.

Rick was right about his church. The people there have been loving, kind, accepting, gracious, and welcoming. They’ve embraced the gifts they see in me and encouraged me to get involved. They are open to new ways of doing things and even include contemporary worship in with the traditional hymns and prayers. Young people and families are encouraged to get involved. The elderly are respected and cared for. They are peace-loving people, opposed to war, and they send out missionaries to join in the work God is doing around the world and bless others who are in need. They won’t fight in a war, but they will go to the places that have been destroyed by war and help rebuild, showing the love of Christ to all they meet through their humble acts of service. They aren’t likely to hold a crusade, but they will build a home, dig a well, or provide medical treatment to the sick. When given an opportunity to share, they will do so with grace and dignity, inviting others to join them in serving the Lord. They believe strongly in social justice and the ability to change the world through the actions of one. Several families in our church have adopted children from foreign countries, are active in efforts to preserve our environment, and live simply in order to quietly give away large amounts of money to those who are in need.

As I’ve gotten to know how the congregation is run, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I had all these ideas from my studies in seminary about how a church should be run, but couldn’t seem to communicate them effectively enough to bring about change in any of the churches I’ve been involved in. Rick’s church does all those things and more, operating as a well-organized, primarily volunteer-led, grace-filled ministry.

How could my heart not be stirred as I worship with them, pray with them, and learn to love them? How could I hope to ever find such community and beauty anywhere else? How could I take my sweet, sometimes shy husband from that environment where he’s so comfortable and willing to get involved and ask him to start over, simply because I’m more comfortable with a church where people are more demonstrative in their worship?

And now we have a baby. What better place to raise a child than in a loving community, surrounded by family? And will Eliana and her father be members of that church while I remain on the outside?  I decided that I needed to become a member also. I needed to return the embrace that I’ve been given.

And yet I struggle with the implications of what people think of when they hear I’m a Mennonite. I know that it conveys to many people who are unfamiliar with it a sense of uncertainty. Does this mean you will start wearing cape dresses, put your hair in a bun, and pin a doily to your head? Does this mean you can no longer drive a car, use modern conveniences? Are you going to stop wearing makeup? As I struggle with these questions and concerns, the only answer I can find is to show others what it might mean to be Mennonite.

Yes, Mennonites try to live more simply, to embrace a quiet lifestyle that doesn’t include flashy clothes and gaudy makeup. They appreciate quality and understated elegance. Many Mennonites you meet are financially secure, but you will find them driving mid-level vehicles, living in well-built but modest homes, sitting on finely made furniture, wearing high-quality clothes that aren’t particularly trendy or out of style, and using technology that they bought new until it wears out. Women tend to reject owning mounds of costume jewelry in favor of a few select pieces that are valuable. Men try to make things in their homes and shops last as long as possible, taking good care of what they have and making repairs whenever they can. It’s not that they can’t afford something new, it’s that they want to be good stewards of what they have.

Because of my family’s background in the Mennonite denomination, I grew up with many of these concepts as well. Mom taught me to take off the last piece of jewelry I put on so as not to overdo it, to choose clothing that would stand the test of time, and to stay away from anything too trendy. I could always bring my broken hair dryer or jewelry to Dad and know that he would likely find a way to fix it. I was taught to take good care of the things I was given and to make them last. But years away from my parents, away from that foundation, influenced me toward materialism. Years of scraping by financially led me to understand the fun of cheap and trendy things that could be easily replaced when they broke with more cheap and trendy things. It is definitely an adjustment to return to the way I was originally taught.

The Mennonite church I am embracing is not Amish, is not against technology or modern worship, and does not abide by legalistic standards of years gone by. It has wireless internet, a website, air conditioning, and electric. What it doesn’t have is fancy décor or gilded throne-like seats for the pastors to sit in on the stage. The pastors sit with the congregation and get up from their seats to go to the front when it’s time for them to participate in the service. The assistant pastor preaches once a month and when she does, the young adults often lead praise and worship.

What distinguishes Mennonites from other mainline denominations is their focus on peace (they are pacifists), service, and stewardship. There are various types of Mennonites, just as there are many types of Baptists, and some dress more conservatively than others and only drive black cars. But you can find vehicles in every color of the rainbow in our church’s parking lot.

And so, on Sunday, July 14, 2013, I joined my husband’s congregation and received the right hand of fellowship into the Mennonite church. I’m still a little stunned to write those words, but it felt like a natural and joyful thing to do.

Soon, Eliana will be dedicated in our church. Some of the things I believe may not be taught there, so it will be my job to make sure she understands them. That’s okay though. As her mother, I believe it’s my job to teach her our Christian faith at home and allow the church to supplement that teaching. I feel blessed to have a church like ours to join with me in the joyful task of training her in the ways of Christ.

If you’d like to read more about the Mennonite faith, click here.  You can also watch a video:  Who Are the Mennonites?

Feel free to comment below.  I’ll try to answer any questions as best I can.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Posted on Jun 18, 2013 in Wisdom | 3 comments

Cultivating Joy

Cultivating Joy

Self-pity is not my friend.  It tries to pretend like it is, sneaking in and whispering to me like we are partners or something.  And I admit there are times when I listen to my ugly companion and give in to self-pity.  Yesterday was one of those days.  Eliana was unhappy.  Who knows why?  She wouldn’t sleep.  She wasn’t hungry.  She didn’t want to play.  She wanted to be held, but when I held her she wriggled around until she was in crazy-uncomfortable positions, then looked at me with total betrayal that I would let her get like that, and scream.  I walked, patted, bounced, laid her down, tried toys, sang songs, got quiet, tried the swing, gave her gas drops, gave her prunes and apple juice, put on more clothes, took off clothes, took her for a walk, a drive, and so on – all day long.

She wouldn’t stay comfortable or content for more than 10 minutes at a time, but usually it was more like 2 or 3.  I finally got her to sleep after 3 hours of struggling, only to have her wake up screaming less than 30 minutes later.  Exhausted, frustrated, and concerned for my baby, I let her fuss for a while and ate some ice cream.  Shoot.  That didn’t help.  I ordered pizza.  Gorging myself on pizza and falling asleep used to be my way of comforting myself.  I hated what the scale said later for it, but it gave me enough of a temporary fix that I got over the whole scale problem…  Last night it didn’t work.  I knew what I was doing as I drove to pick it up.  I didn’t care.  I deserved it after the day I’d had.  But my day wasn’t over and eating pizza is less exciting when one of the people you love most in the world is miserable.  I drank a Coke.  That didn’t work either.

She finally went to sleep at 9:00, five minutes before Rick got home from work.  He tried to talk to me, but I was too out of sorts to have a conversation.  After letting my frustration and misery be known to him, I begged him to just let me go to bed.  The sweet man who had been working all day himself came to bed early too (not his favorite thing to do) and rubbed my back until I relaxed enough to fall asleep.

Guess what happened then?

The baby started crying.

Rick got up and took care of her.  All night long she fussed miserably, and all night long her daddy held her, fed her, patted, rocked, bounced, and shhh-ed.  I got up a few times, reminding him that he had to go to work in the morning, but he sent me back to bed.  He ended up sleeping with her on his chest on the couch so he could comfort her immediately when she cried out.  That kept her mostly asleep for a few hours.  When it was time for him to get up for work, I switched places with him.  Thankfully, she kept sleeping for a few more hours and woke up happy and pleasant.

I took her for a long walk this morning, knowing fresh air and exercise would do us both good.  Rick and his parents have done such a nice job of turning the land into a beautiful home that it’s helping me to love country farm life more every day.  There are flowers everywhere I look.  It’s so peaceful and quiet, the early morning air was cool, and the sun was shining.  As we neared the end of our walk, we came upon the mama kitty and her five kittens that are about a month old now.  She had moved them under the car for shade and as we walked by, then ran out joyfully to greet us.  Delighted that they didn’t run away, I sat down in the grass and put the baby in my lap.  Together we giggled as tiny kittens crawled all over us, meowing and purring as we petted them.  Eventually the mama kitty laid down kind of under my leg in the shade and nursed her kittens.  I couldn’t believe it.  What a moment…  I turned Eliana so she could see them and we helped one kitten who couldn’t find a place get what it was looking for, then we watched with delight.

I hadn’t planned on that sidetrack, and I had things I wanted to do inside.  It was tempting to quickly put the kittens in their box so they wouldn’t get under the wheels of the stroller and slow me down.  Who wants to sit in the grass and get ants crawling on you?  But I’m so glad I did.  It was a few minutes of unexpected delight.  A sadness that I’d been working over in my mind came into perspective.  I was reminded of the dream I believe God sent me a few months ago to stop looking back and start looking around and forward.  The frustration and sadness and self-pity lifted and joy returned.

Self-pity is easy.  Self-pity is, in a way, comforting.  Nobody understands me.  This person hurt me.  That person ignored me.  My husband doesn’t meet all the needs I expect him to meet.  My baby isn’t always happy and sweet.  I ate too much pizza last night and now I feel guilty.  Why do I do this to myself?  Blah, blah, blah…

Shut up, self pity!  Just shut up!

And so I begin the process of cultivating joy again.  I remind myself of all I have to be thankful for.  I remind myself of those who have been kind to me, of those who have gone out of their way to spend time with me, of those who have encouraged me to keep writing, and of those who have helped out.  I force myself to look around me, to consider the future, and to stop trying to right the wrongs of the past.  I get my eyes off myself and see the look of love on my daughter’s face, the way her eyes seek mine out and look for approval.  I look at God’s creation, the trees, grass, springs, flowers, plants, sky, and kittens, and remember that I am a tiny part of this great world.  I will start again on my plan for healthy eating, I will once again remember the healthier way to handle frustration and pain (call a friend, go for a walk, get some sleep, write a letter, play with some kittens) than comforting myself with food.

My life is so good.  It would be easy to nitpick, to find things to be upset about, and to chew them over repeatedly until I’m a total mess.  But I can make a better choice.  I can look around and see the good, thank God for His many blessings, and look ahead with eager expectation.

At times circumstances make it difficult to see the good.  At times it takes some concerted effort to see the good and appreciate it.  It’s a choice I make every day and it keeps the smile on my face and a song in my heart.  Lord, help me to drive self-pity far from me and to keep my eyes fixed on You.

Do you ever find yourself giving in to self-pity?  What do you do to fight your way out of it’s grasp?

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Posted on Jun 15, 2013 in Wisdom | 2 comments

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day

I saw a video the other day where an older man offered a younger dad some advice on parenting. He wished that he had known these things when he was younger. As I watched the video, tears stung my eyes. I realized that my own dad had done those exact things for me and I was now experiencing the exquisite joy of seeing my husband treat our daughter with that same nurturing spirit. To have a father who is present in your life and who loves you is a great gift. To have a father like mine who goes out of his way to teach you good things and fill your heart and mind with truth is an even greater blessing.  I am also blessed to have my grandfather still with us.  Quite the romantic, I have stacks of beautiful letters from him from over the years, and now am able to live near him and be a part of his daily life.  My heart goes out to all who haven’t had the good experiences I’ve had. To all of you who long for a father to be present in your life, to tell you he is proud of you, to offer advice or words of encouragement, to fix your car or hang your pictures, I encourage you to seek out Daddy God, to ask Him to meet your needs, and wait and see how He provides. I know it won’t be the same as a father who can physically hug you and speak tangibly to you, but who loves us more than our Heavenly Father?

Our big moment

Our big moment

My dad and I have not always had the relationship we have today. He was a busy and important man, providing pastoral care to large congregations, many people pulling on him and needing his time and attention. I was often the child waiting, hungry, tired, and sad, but expected to behave well until Dad was done. But all the waiting I did was for good reason. My dad was so fun, creative, and exciting. He could turn an ordinary meal into the event of the week, pile up snow and tunnel through it so you could have your very own snow palace, and whip you around on sleds attached to a four-wheeled ATV until your fingers were so numb they might fall off from cold. But who cared if your fingers fell off? The ride was so fun, it was worth a few fingers…

When I think back on those early years, I remember softball games in the front yard, motorcycle rides, wrestling, kiss-factories, and all kinds of great fun when Dad was around. For my eleventh birthday, he took me and ten girls an hour away for a Carmen concert. We stopped at Pizza Hut and I thought I’d die of embarrassment as he made the paper place mats into airplanes and flew them around the restaurant, blew straw papers, and laughed loudly, but my friends were all so delighted and wished their dads were that fun that I soon got over it. As I’ve grown older, I’ve recognized in myself many of his characteristics and traits and my ability to understand those years of waiting has increased. It is a tremendous responsibility to be a shepherd to the people God has entrusted to a pastor, and it’s a wise person who takes it seriously and works to be sure the responsibility is handled well. As Dad has grown in experience, he’s learned to balance out the responsibilities of a family with those of a congregation.

Grandpa Schoch and me

Grandpa Schoch and me

When I was in high school, Dad began cultivating the leadership qualities he saw in me. He brought me cassette tapes on leadership, had me listen to them and talk about them with him. When I asked him why something wasn’t being done in our church, he told me it was because I hadn’t done it yet. Then I was given the task of getting it done. He saw my insecurities and encouraged me to stand up straight, put my shoulders back, and be proud of how tall I was. It was an honor to stand a head above most other people. I never quite felt that way, but I learned that other people felt that way and it eased the awkwardness.

At my ordination

At my ordination

Dad came to my choir concerts, invited me to sing solos in church, and cheered me on (loudly) in basketball. He told me I was beautiful, complimented me on new outfits, and made comments when I wore my hair the way he liked. He taught me that I was valuable, taking me out on “dates” to fancy restaurants so I could see how a man should treat me. Anything less was unacceptable. And because he was so complimentary and encouraging, I really listen when he suggests that an outfit isn’t the best look for me or that my attitude isn’t what it should be. He has built up enough collateral with me to have the freedom to speak gently and firmly when he notices something that could be improved upon.

Dad and Rick

Dad and Rick

Believe it or not, my dad is a poet, a lover of flowers, and a sensitive man who is deeply wounded by the injustices of life. He is also big and brawny, able to fix just about anything, happy on a motorcycle, extremely responsible with money and resources, and capable of taking on another who doesn’t approve of his ways. Practical, rough and tough farm-life shaped his early years, but education and experience have softened and changed him. He has become a servant to my mother through her cancer treatment, doing unspeakable things with care and gentleness. He stands tall as he leads his congregation, finding ways to encourage and support each one of the members of his church, operating with conviction and integrity. He is their biggest cheerleader as well as mine.

One of my greatest joys in life has been seeing my dad as a grandfather. He is the fun and energetic playmate of my niece and nephew.

He is the quietly patting cuddler to my tiny daughter. He has surrounded our family with love, never failing to tell us he loves us, he’s proud of us, and he prays for us. And although he was often busy when we were young, he was always THERE. He didn’t abandon us, didn’t leave us unprotected, and always provided. He provided for me until the day I got married, making sure I had a dependable and reliable vehicle, even when his own desires had to be put aside to help me. He walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, choked back tears as he put my hand in Rick’s, and danced in celebration with me at the reception. He has embraced my husband as his own son and is now encouraging him as well.

So happy Father’s Day, Dad. You are a man to be honored and thanked. I’m so proud to have you as my father and appreciate all the sacrifices you’ve made to be the husband and father you are. Thank you for showing me what it means to care for others, to minister for the Lord, and to lead effectively. Thank you for teaching me to pray for wisdom, to seek out a deep and personal relationship with Jesus, and to thank Him daily for all His blessings. Thank you for loving Mom, for staying true to her, and for being an example of faithfulness and discipline. Thank you for loving me, Rick, and our daughter. We love you so much.

♥♥♥

So much love

So much love

And to my dear husband on your first Father’s Day…  Thank you for being a kind, gentle, patient, and loving father to our precious daughter.  Thank you for the nights you’ve taken care of her so I can sleep, even when you have many strenuous tasks to complete the next day.  Thank you for allowing me to stay at home with her and take care of her myself.  Thank you for telling her she’s beautiful before she’s even old enough to understand.  Thank you for showing her that a man can be gentle, can adore her, and can give her the time she needs, yet be manly and strong.  I love it that she falls asleep so easily with her head on your shoulder.  I love seeing her light up when you come in the room.  I appreciate all the sacrifices you’ve made so we can be comfortable, healthy, and at peace.  I’m so blessed to be able to raise our daughter with you as my partner.  You waited a long time for this day and you deserve it to be a happy day.  Eliana and I love you so much.

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