I've done a lot of reflecting this week, mostly on my childhood, how I was raised, the way my parents brought me up and the incredible opportunities I've been given because of my parents choices along the way. From the moment I was born I knew I was loved, cherished and longed for. My parents had all but given up on having a child of their own when I came along and surprised everyone. To say I'm daddy's little girl is an understatement. My dad was in the delivery room when I was born, a first for the hospital I was born in way back when in 1973. My dad was also the first to hold me. Growing up I never doubted my parents love or my dad's ability to protect me. I was their baby, their only child and together we were a family, not perfect but our own kind of wonderful.
One major component in who I am today comes from my parents ability to listen with open hearts. I am so grateful I was given a voice in our family decisions; I was never made to feel too young for my voice to be heard. I was brought up in a home where we talked things out; we didn't keep secrets, and were open and honest with each other while always careful of one another feelings. No one persons wants ever came at the expense of another. We have certainly argued, disagreed through the years, that’s for sure. At the same I have known no conflict which could ever divide us. I was taught from a young age however we may clash compromising was the best solution for any family squabble. Being right was not always the right thing. At the end of any day, no matter what was going on the one thing I always knew was this: I could go to my parents with anything!
The biggest memory I have growing up is the way my parents gave of themselves to others. Our home was always full of life and all kinds of people, from all over the world. Mom was always cooking meals for large groups of folks, my dad always there right beside her. I not only remember Bible studies and music but deep, wonderful conversations filled with such love and laughter. There was always honest to goodness real life going on surrounded by grace in the midst of any turmoil crossing our threshold. See I was brought up in home based ministry from the time I can remember. No matter what day of the week it was or for that matter the time of night, someone was always in our living room, at our table and more often than not I was giving up my bed and my room to someone who needed a good night’s rest. Now some of you may say, what, how is this fair, what kind of crazy home did you come up in? The answer is the absolute BEST! Let me say this for the record, I would not change anything, not one day, one hour! I grew in spirit, I was offered the opportunity to understand real servant-hood, true giving without receiving, to share without question and to do it all with a cheerful heart. The truth is I can't ever remember wanting for anything despite giving up so much all the time. Even with so many people in our home, all the time, I never felt abandoned or neglected. I learned early on, sharing their time didn’t mean I had to compete for or demand my parents time, it was freely given.
Life lesson # 30: Love is not demanding, it's not selfish and it does not think of itself, love is an action word. My parents have been my greatest example of this life lesson. If not for my childhood, for the example of their grace, humility and trust in the Lord my parents lived in front of me daily, I wouldn't have the heart and soul I do today. So this morning as I look back I can't help but smile knowing how much I am loved, maybe even laugh a little bit realizing I'm still daddy's little girl.
The real truth be told, if anyone thinks my childhood was easy, I can attest to the opposite. My life was filled with its share of difficulty from my diabetes, to the countless moving from place to place as a teenager but I can't complain at all. From the years spent in Germany to the countless southern states we lived in in-between ages 5 and 6, and finally at age 7 when we settled in Texas, life has never been boring. So when I think of my childhood, I think of many things, memories of living overseas, the real life castles, the Rhine River, Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guard, and so many lifelong friendships. Each memory holds something wonderful from Christmas, the first day of school, vacations or picnics at the park with my parents and of course those magic filled tea parties with my daddy.
My dad has always been able to make me laugh, pose for hilarious pictures with me and instill a sense of humor I wouldn't trade for the world. He was never afraid to put me on his shoulders, play dress up or listen to any story I had to tell him. His courage, while keeping a smile across his face as I attempted to trim his toe nails at the age of 4 is still beyond my comprehension. That's why today as we wait, not knowing what tomorrow holds, I am filled with such respect, love and devotion for my dad. He's always been a man of his word, a selfless and loving man, never one to hurt anyone by design, hard headed at times, just like his daughter, but always a man who wouldn't think twice before giving you the shirt off his back. My dad, is a great man, a man my boys call their greatest example. When my dad comes across my mind, I realize he has and by God's hand will continue to be a mighty example of God's grace, even when under fire. It is by my dad's example I have entrusted my life to the Lord, and by watching my dad's positive attitude, his love for life, and his way of always putting others first I have modeled my own life after.
So, today as I pick out my "Way Back Wednesday" pictures I want to reflect on more than the images on my screen. Instead, I'm going to take the time, take inventory of these precious memories and the loved ones captured in each of those photos. I am ever so grateful I was not only blessed but given the chance to grow up a part of our small, but beautiful family unit. To know unconditional love the way I have, to experience joy in ways I can't even begin to explain and to have learned to appreciate the wonders this life has to offer without fear or regret. To me the greatest gift my parents could have ever given me was teaching me love is never demanding, but always patient, kind and unconditional.
I love you daddy, we're all here for you, we won't ever let you go!
Always you're little girl,