Hi friends...Remember me? I have not blogged in a while and I know you all still love me. My days consist of doing life with these girls, of soaking up every ounce of information I can about orphan care and shepherding the hurting heart. Most of our girls come from backgrounds full of hurt and abandonment and that brings with it its own unique set of issues. Brian and I want to do all that we can to love them and lead them-and that includes reading...all...the...time.
I am from the south. I love that I am from the south and from a family of salt of the earth country people. People who love big. In the south, we don't call our fathers "dad" or "father"...good southern girls say daddy. I can remember my favorite thing as a child was cutting grass with my daddy. I always felt like a princess riding along with him, wearing his work cap or my favorite cowboy hat. I loved that special time just with him. My dad was not a perfect father. I was not a perfect daughter. But, we sure loved each other. Most of my memories of him make me laugh and smile so big. He was just the kind of person who loved to make people smile and he loved to have a good time. At my father's funeral, all I could think about was the big life that my daddy had lived. Full of adventures and laughs and trials. He had loved big. He had loved me big. I foolishly thought for most of my life that my father didn't love me as much as he loved my siblings. By the time I was a teenager, he had raised my brother and sister and was tired. He wasn't very present then because he was struggling with so much personally. Some of my most precious times with my father (and my brother) were over the last ten years. He was very sick the last ten years and we had lots of one on one time in the hospital. It was as if my wild, larger than life daddy became softer and more introspective. He would share so much love and words of wisdom with me. So many times he told me he loved me and was proud of me-things I had longed to hear as a teenager. Many times my daddy told me, that he knew that God was using his sickness and pain to bring his family together and he felt like that made it worth it....and he meant it...and it did. God used my daddy's health and even his death to bring us all closer. At his funeral, the thing that meant the most to me was that every single person that came through the line asked if I was "the daughter that was a missionary". They would then tell me how proud he was of me and how he talked about me all the time. That man loved me and my brother and sister BIG. He loved BIG and He lived BIG.
If you have read my blog at all. You have read about my grandparents. My grandfather took me on my first ever mission trip when I was 12- with Carpenters for Christ. I didn't call him grandfather or grandpa...nope he was too special for that. He was papaw. My Pepaw was not a perfect man, but he served a perfect God...and He served Him with all that he was. With my pepaw, I always felt safe, loved, and special. He was one of my earliest heroes. This man loved others so well. He was always willing to get up early and drive a bazillion miles to be with a friend in need. When he passed away, I had the extreme honor of speaking at his funeral. It was my first time to loose someone I loved so dear. But, I KNEW that I had to share about him. I knew that so many in the church knew God because my grandfather had introduced them. I was his darling and he was my pepaw. I wish that he were alive. He would love these girls of ours so much. I think he would have gotten over his aversion of flying just to come meet his new and precious extended family. He loved family.
I wasn't raised Catholic. But, I had a godfather. No, I'm not Italian either. Just blessed. When I was christened as a child, my mother chose her childhood friend and her friend's husband to be my godparents. They had a baby girl that was born the year before...and they just took me as part of their family as well. So many of my childhood memories consist of my godparents. Trips to Knoxville. To the Worlds Fair. So many amazing memories with my extra family...and my Godfather:) He was not like a Corleone at all. He is warm, caring, and servant-hearted and loves Jesus so much. Every major life event I have ever experienced, Chuckles has been there. (That's our nickname for him). My birth, my christening, my high school graduation, my wedding, my grandparent's funerals and so many more. He loved my father dearly. Chuckles rushed to be at my side when my father was dying. In fact, within five minutes of his arriving, my father passed. I think my daddy waited so Chuckles could be there to hold me...yet again, Chuckles was there to hold my hand and love me through a major life event. He and his wife helped me get organized and prepare myself for what life is like when you lose a parent. Thankfully, God knew I needed many parent figures in my life and He gave me a Chuckles. My godfather is so good at making the stranger a friend...and helping people belong.
I wont say his name here...because he is not the kind of man who needs praise and adoration. He is a simple kind of man with a big love for his people. He was the father of one of my dearest friends in high school...and when I was going through a particularly rough period during the summer of my senior year in high school, he loved me (and all of our friends) like we were his own. My parents were divorcing and it felt like quite a surprise to me and it also made me second guess everything about myself. Divorce can do that. In a period of time when I was quite the opposite of my typically easy going, lovable, outgoing self....this man looked at me and didn't see hurt....didn't see brokenness...didn't see the mistakes piling up....He saw sparkle. He saw light. He saw beauty and he (and his sweet wife) loved me through one of the hardest times in my life. I was broken and I didn't want anything to do with anyone. And this precious man...who always smells of Brut cologne, just loved me right where I was. To this day, every time I smell Brut cologne, I am filled with the sweetest memories of this man. When I see him and his sweet wife, I feel like I am transported back to my teenage years and right into the arms of this father-figure who walked through the valley with me. I don't even know if he knows how much his presence has meant to me. When my own father passed away earlier this year, it was so incredibly difficult. But, this sweet man stood in the long visitation line just to come give me, one of his adopted (if not ragamuffin) children, a hug and to let her know that he cared. and that I was still sparkles! Gosh, I wanna love others like that.
My sweet Brian has not been like a father to me personally...but he is like a father to our precious girls. They don't refer to him as father or dad...they just call him Brian. But, they know that Brian means a whole lot to them. Brian is constantly going and working and they know that every thing he does, he does for them. They love Brian. He is kind and patient and personifies Christ's love. I love that our girls have this example of a godly man. I love that they see that you don't have to be loud and proud and a boss to be a godly man. You can be kind and hard working and love God and others. I love seeing Brian taking care of our girls. He loves them so much. He would do anything for them. He would do anything to protect them. He was born to be here....to live out who he is....to just be Brian to these girls of ours. My buddy loves big and serves with his whole heart. He reminds me so much of Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables
Webster's dictionary has several definitions of father...but the one definition that stands out the most to me and is so much more than someone who shares genetics (and also defines these five men I have written about) is this:
father (noun)- someone who takes care of or protects someone or something.
All five of these men have done this for me and the people I love. I am so thankful for fathers of all kinds. Happy Father's Day!!!
"Everyone wants to feel secure and wanted. We all want to belong. He said He would not leave us as waifs on the street; He comes for us. He never forgets the children whose names are written on the palm of His hand. God makes us belong. He is enough. At every bend in the road, our father is waiting for us, reaching out His arms. And we are orphans no more" -Lorilee Craker