Writing this blog has been on my heart for quite a while now and after a conversation with a friend yesterday, I decided to finally sit down and think through some of it.
Being in ministry and just spending time with different girls through ZOE or Potter’s House or even just meeting people and hearing their stories randomly, I just continue to see this theme again and again of the impact a daddy has in his daughter’s life, whether that be encouraging or destructive. Unfortunately, I’d say about 80% of those father-daughter relationships have brought more hurt and heartache then many other circumstances in these girls lives. It is so interesting to me that the enemy so often attacks the family as a whole directly at the heart of leadership, guidance, protection, wisdom, and love…at the father. There are so many symbolic aspects of a girl’s relationship with her earthly daddy and how that plays into her relationship with her Heavenly Father as well. I’m not going to go into what I think about all that since I could probably write a whole book on it all, but I really just want to affirm a few men in my life who have been godly daddy’s to their kids and to whom I have a heart of indescribable gratefulness for therole they’ve played in my own life and the way their kids are never going to have to experience these destructive daddy issues that so many of today’s teenagers, both male and female really, are facing right now.
My sweet brother. The way that I look up to this man of God just doesn’t compare to anything else in the whole world. When I am around Rye, I just feel safe. From day one he has stood in front of me, trying to protect me from the world. Spiritually, he has encouraged me and spurred me on in my walk with the Lord. In fact, if it weren’t for him and his beautiful wife I wouldn’t even be sitting here right now.
I never doubted, not once, that Rye would be an incredible dad. More then anyone, he played that role in my life when our dad couldn’t. When he barely knew me, he just grabbed ahold of me and didn’t ever let go, even through a challenging time in my life when I know I wasn’t making his life any easier. He never left me. I was hurting and confused and consumed in lies and no matter how much I hated him at times, how much I pushed him away, he just loved the heck out of me. I don’t think he will ever understand how that love changed my entire world.
Just this past year my big brother became a daddy himself, to a precious baby boy that is growing up before my eyes. I wish so much that I could be around them more, just getting to watch my brother father this little man…to see him smile down at his son, to see the way he plays with him and is already training him to be a basketball star…it makes me tear up just thinking about it because it is such a beautiful picture of the love the Father has for us and I don’t think it is modeled more clearly to me then through seeing a godly daddy raise his son to know the love of our Savior. To understand that who he is in Christ is more important then anything else. One day, if Jake is an amazing basketball player like his daddy, then I know it will be Rye on the sidelines cheering him on, it will be Rye sitting by his bed late at night after a game reminding him that through this gift the Lord’s given him of basketball, his main purpose in his life, in this sport, is bringing glory to the King or Kings and Lord of Lords…that God’s called him to be the one set apart, a light to the other boys on his team.
I just love the way my brother loves so well. I love that I can look at his life and see Jesus all over him. I love that he is a faithful husband who serves his wife. I love that he is the leader and provider for his family. I love that he has the ability to bring peace into a seemingly confusing or chaotic situation. I love that he is a good friend and a joy to be around. I just love my brother and seeing the Lord move in his life and how that effects his wife and son. It’s a privilege and a gift to be your lil sis Rye.
My oldest brother. When I think of Clayton, I think of his smile. When he really thinks something is funny or just is even agreeing with you about something, he gets this grin on his face that lights up the w
hole room. It makes me smile just thinking about it. The joy of the Lord is truly his strength. When I think of him just smiling down on his precious kids, the way that must make them feel, it makes me tear up! Receiving that “approving, I’m so proud of you, I love you more then you will ever know, you bring joy to my life” smile from a daddy is such a beautiful picture of how our Heavenly Father is looking at us with similar affection. I love that Clayton’s love for his kids is all over his face. I remember one time when I was stuck in the hospital for awhile and Clayton came to see me. I totally did not expect it because at the time we weren’t real close and I will never forget sitting there and talking to him. For the first part Rye was there too but eventually he left, but Clayton just stuck around and I remember writing later on that night about how special that time was alone with him. He was such an encouragement to me in some challenging situations going on at the time and I don’t think he will ever know the way him being there, supporting me even if he couldn’t totally understand me, meant to me then and now. I also remember my whole life that Clayton has always been so incredibly respectful of and towards my mom, and I know even as her daughter that that is a challenging thing to do at times, especially considering all the hurt and heartache she brought into my siblings lives over the years. Even when I couldn’t stand her, he always modeled the selfless love of Christ towards her, a concept that has taken me 19 years to understand. Thank you for that big brother.
As a dad, I know his love for his kids compels him to teach them to be respectful to other adults, to not act immature or crazy. More then most kids their age, my niece and nephew understand discipline and are usually incredibly obedient to what their daddy (and mom) tell them. I love this about Clayton. He is such an incredible leader of his home in the way he disciplines the kids. Despite how hard that may be at times, because of course no one likes to have that job, but when I think about other kids their ages, the difference is overwhelmingly clear. There is this responsibility and maturity they both have which far exceeds others their ages…this sets them apart. People who meet these two kiddos just know that there is something different about them- Jesus in them. Praise God for my big bro being a godly daddy to them, and loving them enough to set clear boundaries, to discipline them, just at Christ disciplines those He loves.
I don’t really know what I would call Phillip, other then my spiritual dad. From the day I met him, shoveling snow one day when school was called off, he made me feel so special and loved. Here is this guy who doesn’t know me at all whatsoever, probably has a million other people to talk to, but takes the time to ask me about me life, really interested in what I have to say. I never could have imagined that first day I met him the role he would end up playing in my life. But my Heavenly Father knew just how much He would use Phillip over the next three years to be that earthly picture of the love of my Heavenly Father, something that I never really could understand from my biological dad. I doubt that Phillip knew what he was getting himself into that day when he reached out to me either! When I think about Phillip, I think of wisdom. I know that I can always go to him with any question, about the Word, theology, etc but also just about life. Phillip taught me that not all men were bad and out to hurt me…he was the first father figure in my life that I learned to trust. For that I am so incredibly grateful. It makes me tear up thinking about what a gift that has been, even now, the role that plays…I don’t even know he will ever understand the impact of that…for years all I had wanted was the love of a father and through Phillip modeling that to me, I realized that I had a heavenly Father who loved me just like that, and million times more.
Over the years, Phillip has walked through so much with me. He has always been there, a prayer warrior and encourager, affirming me continually. He has poured and poured and poured into my life. And in all the times I didn’t know what to do, where to turn, or how to keep going, He just kept pointing me to the only One who had the answers. He always made bad or hopeless situations seem a lot less scary or stressful. He has a gift of giving me perspective when I am blinded through my own eyes. I will never forget my first time home from Mercy Phillip and his wife were the first people I got to see, and I just remember the look on his face when he saw me…it was like I had come home after a really long time away…he didn’t even need to say anything, his face told me how proud he was, how he could see a transformation beginning in my heart, how he loved me so well. I also always am so excited to after being away for awhile to see Phillip because he is always so excited to hear about what God’s been doing in my life, its like his excitement makes me excited! I remember what a special moment it was for me to get to go show Phillip and Shelly my dress before heading off to prom my senior year. If any moment could have been more symbolic of a dad’s approval, a dad’s love for a daughter, it would have been in that moment for me. Whenever I’m around Phillip and his family, I just feel at home.
I have so many incredible memories doing life with Phillip and his incredible wife and their precious family. When it comes to learning how to be a godly parent, when I think about what I want in a husband, I want my husband to be a man who loves the Word, who loves to serve, who has these crazy dreams and the determination to fulfill them, never underestimating the power of God’s Word and His promises, but most of all I want my husband to walk in the door at night, open up his arms, and for the kids to just take off running to him, so incredibly excited their daddy is finally home to play with them. This is what I see every time Phillip walks through that door. There are a million qualities about Phillip as a daddy to his kiddos that I adore, but one that just hits me at the core every time is his love for his twin girls. When I sit there and see him just look straight into their adoring eyes and tell them how much he loves them, how beautiful they are, how smart they are, how proud of them he is, how he is just so honored to get to be their daddy, it gets me every time…I never want my kids to doubt how much their daddy loves them…and I know that Phillip’s kids will never wonder, because he wont let them forget it for one second! He does such an incredible job of lavishing love upon them, of making them feel special, making them just feel like the most important person in the world. That is truly a gift of this daddy.