This Sunday is Father’s Day which has become a bittersweet holiday for me on two fronts. Let me explain ...
My father went to heaven in 2002 and I remember one of the first thoughts that I had was, “I will never get to buy another Father’s Day card for my Dad.” I had always been a “daddy’s girl” and something precious and stable was gone that day from my life.
It hit me in that moment that the man who had loved me since the instant I was born, although no longer with me in the physical, would ever live on in my heart.
Norman Frederic Burton was just a month short of being 81 years old when he died and how I loved every minute spent in his presence!
I had a Dad who loved the Word of God and taught me to love it as well. He believed that the Bible was the final authority on everything. I believe it, too.
I had a Dad who was a giver ... he generously gave to the Kingdom of God even when it meant personal sacrifice for him and for our family. I hope that I am as generous as he always was.
I had a Dad who loved creation and the wonder of God’s world. He took me to see the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, the Grand Tetons and to beaches along both shores. He taught me to love the rich, dark soil in our yard and to cultivate things of beauty from that soil. Whenever I spend time outside drinking in all that God created, I somehow feel closer to my Dad.
I had a Dad who believed in honesty and integrity. He not only believed in it but he lived it. He was a man who never lied and paid his bills on time.
I had a Dad who loved my mom. He was crazy about her from sun-up till sun-down. He never spoke an unkind word to her or about her. I loved watching them dance on our 1960’s gold carpet in the living room.
I had a Dad who could fix anything. From flat bicycle tires ... to overflowing toilets ... to leaky roofs ... to removing splinters from my fingers. He even had the knack of mending my broken heart a time or two.
I had a Dad who was never ashamed to go to the grocery store ... canned an entire year’s supply of tomatoes, green beans and applesauce in our pink and green kitchen ... and rocked babies to sleep in his arms while whistling. He made donuts and zucchini bread. He created gorgeous needlepoint pictures and did the dishes every night after dinner. He was the manliest man I have ever known.
I never thought that I would find a man who could live up to the reputation and example of my Dad. But I did ... which brings me to the second reason that Father’s Day is bittersweet for me.
The second reason that Father’s Day is bittersweet is because our children are all grown now. We no longer wake up to homemade Father’s Day cards, burnt breakfast in bed or Father’s Day crafts made in Sunday School. Our three boys are now fathers themselves and our daughters are still praying for the men who will father their children. I gave my children the greatest gift I could find ... a man who would father well.
Craig, the father of all 5 of my children, is a one-in-a-million kind of Dad.
He coached too many baseball teams to count.
He played endless games of H-O-R-S-E and P-I-G in our driveway with three little boys who grew up too quickly.
He went to ballet recitals and piano recitals with no complaints but with bouquets of flowers in his arms for little girls who are now beautiful young women. (I only had to pinch him a time or two to stay awake!)
He read books time after time after time. French Fry Forgiveness ... Peanut Butter and Jelly Secrets ... The Door in the Dragon’s Throat ... Carry On, Mr. Bowditch ... Charlotte’s Web ... Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea ... The American Girl Books ... Little House on the Prairie ... and any book at all by an author by the name of Matt Christopher.
He played Monopoly, Clue, Chess, Checkers, Trouble, Uno, Kemps, Mau, Speed Scrabble and Candyland until other fathers would have been writhing in pain.
He has watched “Beauty and the Beast”, “Cinderella”, “Peter Pan”, “The Sound of Music”, “Hoosiers”, “The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe”, “Mary Poppins”, “Remember the Titans”, “Star Wars”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Miracle on 34th Street”, “Little Women” and “Father of the Bride” when lesser men would have been screaming, “UNCLE!”
He stood with me in prayer and encouragement through long days of depression and infertility.
When the money was tight and bills were ferocious, he never asked for anything for himself but gave and gave and gave to this family.
He has discipled his children with love, integrity and the power of believing in their dreams.
He has loved them through wins and losses, A’s and F’s, and popularity and loneliness.
He has led by word and by example. The 5 children who have grown up in our home have seen a man who has relentlessly followed Christ every day of his life.
My 5 children have seen their father refuse to speak ill of those who have mistreated him.
They have seen their father walk in victory and joy during days when other men would have given in to depression and discouragement.
Matthew, Christopher, Jordan, Joy and Joni have all been fathered by a man of God ... that is no small thing in a culture of compromise, moral mediocrity and the relentless call of busyness. Their father has stood head and shoulders above the rest while cradling their 5 precious lives in his heart.
Most of all, our 5 children have been raised by a prayer warrior. Any success or accomplishment in their lives has happened because they had a daddy who knew the power of prayer.
And so I face Father’s Day 2013 with both joy and a touch of sorrow. I am so grateful for a father and a husband who loved with their whole hearts. I am eternally thankful for two men who chose to submit their lives to the greatest Father of all.
Happy Father’s Day!