You were always my first love

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When I was young, my father would place me on his shoulders and encourage me to “reach for the trees!”

His unconditional love made me feel like I could conquer any battle, achieve any height, and break though any manmade obstacle placed before me. For on his shoulders I saw beyond my own limited perspective and horizon, carried by his strength, security, provision, encouragement, and love.

As I have grown and have now journeyed on my own path of life, I am so thankful for my father’s fervent commitment to noble ideals, his personal devotion to the Christian faith and his dedication to a covenant marriage which I saw reflected in our home. His personal sacrifice and care for our family taught me much about setting aside one’s own agenda in order to see another’s dream realized.

Thank you Dad for always speaking truth into my life. The light you have shined on my road has continually pointed me in the direction of what was best, but not necessarily easiest or most expedient.

As with so many living in the reality of a non-perfect world, my childhood wasn’t all fairytales and castles. One personal challenge I faced was being born with medical issues that impacted my vision as a child. Although my eyes were realigned after two eye surgeries and lots of vision therapy, my eyesight still was distorted, which made processing depth of field, multi-dimensional shapes, and letters on a printed page extremely difficult.

I often felt different and inferior to other children, especially in the areas of academics and sports. Always being chosen last by peers to be on the team, because I probably would “drop the ball,” made me feel insecure and often unwelcome. And because I saw printed words differently with my struggle to decode words as they danced around the margins and paragraphs, the solitary enjoyment of reading children’s literature and storybooks was not a place I could retreat to for escape.

2d9db523ce0e476682af7364866e5fbfSo instead I fell in love with the art of oral storytelling, and my dad was the best storyteller of all. With his larger than life bounding voice and his expressive prosody, he captivated my imagination with his tales. I can remember many times cuddling up next to him and melting into his embrace as his narrative ushered me into places only my imagination could build.

His tales were of lost princesses, scary log cabins, exotic cultures, and magical creatures. I would listen with attentive expectation as our journey would take me beyond the sights and sounds of my own experiences, to where I could be brave, adventurous, and compassionate.

My father’s stories all brought this little girl’s heart to a place of beauty, laughter, and safety.

His tales remind me that I am loved, I bring delight to others, and I have been chosen to accomplish big things.

I have come to long for those special storytelling adventures at my father’s side, for now his voice and stature are a shadow of his former volume. Our time together these days are incomplete fragments of a daughter’s longing.

Although I can still see the glint in his eye and hear the spry in his voice as he shares of cherished family memories and of a future home that still captures this little girl’s imagination of streets of gold, family reunions, and garden strolls with Jesus.

Now as a parent of adult children, I am so thankful for how my father reflected to me a glimpse of God’s great love for His children. As a little girl, and in each stage of my life, my father spoke to my heart, which eventually ushered me to experience how God speaks to my very soul.

I’ve come to understand the power and blessing of a parent’s words on their children, and the importance of speaking words of affirmation for others to hear. This is so beautifully demonstrated in scripture by God at the baptism of His son Jesus Christ when His voice uttered for all to hear…

“This is my son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.” Matthew 3:17

Yes Dad, you were my first love. You offered me a father’s love that caught my heart, only to set it free when I found Jesus Christ.

Your love gave me the courage to reach for the trees when I was upon your shoulders and to look to the depths of human suffering with a word of hope for each soul.

You made this once cross-eyed little girl believe she was beautiful and worthy of a father’s love; ultimately modeling for me the importance of speaking blessing over the children that come into my home, workplace and ministry.

 


 

Five Ways You Can Encourage a Young Child’s Heart

  • Turn off technology and find a comfortable place to read to them one of your favorite children’s books. Make a bookmark and write down why the book is your favorite.
  • Help a child with their homework and remind them how clever they are to find the answer.
  • Share old photos and tell them the tales of family adventures and history. Inspire them to dream of their own adventures that they will one day share with those they love.
  • Give or help a child make a small memory box to hold remembrances of their childhood. Go on an exploration to find the perfect rock, shell, flower, or buried treasure to place in the box and write a tale about the unique and special artifact.
  • Write a note to a child about how much they are loved and cherished. Be specific about what makes them special. Put the note in the memory box. Remember to speak God’s words of: You are my son/daughter, the focus of my delight, marked by my love.

 


 

INVEST IN YOUR GOD-GIVEN GIFTS AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH

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Your Gifts: Spiritual Gifts Discovery

God created you with purpose and passion—learn how you can take the gifts He has given you and use them to advance His Kingdom in ways you never imagined.

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