Dear Dadsky...

I already feel like a nine year old on the playground with this blog.

"Noooo, my daddy is better."
I mean, how do you write about someone you love on a lame, commercially lucrative holiday? For that matter, how do you buy them an appropriate gift?
"I love you dad" and "power-saw" don't really compute in my mind. Even a Starbucks gift card so my dad can devour his venti non-fat, extra hot, White Chocolate Mocha's don't really seem to do the trick. And don't get me started on Hallmark cards. I don't come from a card giving family. In my mind, if you need to write someone a card, you make it yourself. Some signature artwork on the front, markers, a glue stick, some old family pictures or magazine clippings, and a heartfelt letter inside, voila! Hallmark has nothing on that business!
Still, here I am wide-awake and keenly aware that I'm not with my dad on Father's Day and I didn't even make him a homemade card this year. And even though I know that he and I both know that a shirt from Sear's or a gadget from Home Depot would not really mean all that much to him, I want to give him something... and all I can come up with are words.
My dad's the best dad in the world.
He wasn't always. And he'd be the first to tell you how far he's come. He'd be the first to tell you his flaws and shortcomings; his regrets from when my sisters and I were little girls. Unfortunately, some days we'd be in line to add to that list.
But mostly, the boy who raised us as little girls is not the man we have now as our father.
We have grown up in his arms and he has grown up in ours.
So if you ask my sisters and I to tell you about our dad, we will tell you about a man who loves us fiercely. We will tell you about a man who cries with us. Who hugs us. Who writes us emails of encouragement. And stands by our side while we defy him, logic, and other guiding lights and make tragic mistakes... still, he stands right beside us. We will tell you about a dad who uprooted his family to follow a dream, only, that dream led to unemployment. For years on end. We will tell you about how that man went and worked at demeaning jobs to pay the bills but never grew so bitter that he quit. In fact, he just seemed to trust God's prompting in his life; he just seemed to get wiser and more kind. Grace. That's it. We'd tell you about a man who has learned a lot about grace. And patience.
But mostly, we'd just tell you about our dad who woke us up by blaring music through the house and singing at the top of his lungs. A man who bought a tiny gun, the size of a toy car, that lit up and made police siren noises, just so he could stick it in our ears to wake us up in the most torturous way possible as teenagers. A man who then got his feelings legitimately hurt when we yelled at him for doing such. The guy who found me in the living room and rocked me the night before I left for college and then, held me again after my first college boyfriend, who I was sure I would spend my whole life with, broke up with me in the car outside of the house. The man who made us all sit on the living room couch and talk through our fights before we could leave the house for the day. Who always sang songs in an atrocious country accent and made jokes that were not funny at all, but made us laugh all the time.
A lot of people don't have good dads and they turn out just fine. A lot of people have amazing dads and they end up mean and crazy anyways. So I get it, a dad or mom or home life doesn't necessarily make or break you. Still, I attribute what I do with my life to my dad (and mom)... who loved me so well that I had the courage to do it in the first place.
I have a treasure trove of beautiful letters from my dad. My mom. My sisters. My friends. I pull them out on days that I am sad and don't want to get out of bed. On days where I am weary and wondering if I am crazy for leading this abnormal, sometimes road weary, homesick life. I pull them out when I need to be reminded that I am not alone. That I am loved. And most of me wants to keep them all private, tucked away just for me.
But the thing about my dad is, he would want you to feel those things to. He would want you to know the love of a father. And while he wouldn't voluntarily share his words with the world, he would understand that when I do it, I give a little bit of him a way. The part of him that every little girl and boy needs. An advocate. A cheerleader. A fan. A coach. A friend. A safe house. A daddy.
With that, here are a few words from a dad who has always loved me well:

"My favorite author, M. Craig Barnes, says that the Christian life is a process of giving up the dreams we have for ourselves in order to receive the dreams God has for us. I pray that God's dreams for you will bring you more joy than you could have ever imagined. I LOVE YOU, MORE THAN YOU WILL EVER KNOW, AND I COULDN'T BE MORE PROUD OF YOU....not because of what you do but because of who you are. Love ya, me"

"Jenny, your honesty and transparency, while sometimes raising people's ire, is what sets you apart from so many others. This is a ministry that only a few are willing to embrace. You know, I am your biggest fan, but only because you like what you're doing, not because I need you to be a rock star or a great minister. I just need you to be happy and safe in the arms of a loving God....everything else is just life. Love ya, me"

"J, hey, have I mentioned lately how much I love you and how happy I am that you're getting to do your music?"

"J, how cool is it that you had a chance to meet astronauts, and especially one that just came back last week! I think it is wonderful, and, looking at your other email, I think its great that you allowed God to use you to touch another soul. I know you at times don't like to think about it, but Jenny, you are a gifted minister....not a minister like church staff work, but you are someone who can connect people with God, and that is a rare person indeed.

And the Funny Stuff:

A letter I wrote to my dad after he spent too much money on me:

We, jenny's beloved parents do hereby promise to celebrate her 28th birthday with her at her home on the evening of November 18th. We formally by law agree to her terms mentioned hereafter. No presents. No gift cards. No money. No large items. And no shopping trips. Only small strange items that have already been purchased by strange mother will be allowed (and trust me you know she’s already picked them out). Nothing else will be given. We agree to this joyfully since we have already spent several hundred dollars in cute pregnancy outfits on our daughter since September. We have already paid a thousand dollars for her unborn child. And we plan on giving her a car (which is still under consideration). We just sent her to get an amazing full body massage. And have fed her Mexican food frequently over the past two years. We agree that in light of these expressions of love and abundance we will simply celebrate her birthday by providing a dessert and letting her cook dinner for us. And nothing else! Just our love and company. Here ye, here ye,amen, allalujah. AGREED????

My Dad’s Response:

Oh thouest of jennyith, verily I sayeth unto theeth, we must humbly beseath the divine intervention and guidance of the great god of gifts, for verily I sayeth unto theeit that what thou has proposed goeth against all precepts of parenthood and birthday celebrations both past and present, and yea verily furturieth I dare say.

So lettuce all most humbly implore the lord of gifts, known by the code name of pappy, to see if such a thing has ever been done without the heavens becoming unaligned. Then we'll have our people get wit your people....

My dad has constantly spoken words over me that have given me love, safety, courage, and bravery. Obviously he thinks more highly of me than he should. He loves me more than he should. He dotes on me way more than he should. But isn't that what grace is? Undeserved love that gushes and gushes and gushes? That's what he has given me. A love I have never earned or deserved. One day I want to buy him a boat and a big house and a new car. I want to give him every single thing he has ever wanted! But those are just far off dreams. In reality, I can only give him my adoration. For showing me the love of God by truly being, in my humble opinion, the best dad any girl could ever ask for.

Happy Father's Day... I love you.