Lessons I’ve recently learned from my Dad

Dear HealingStrong family,

For the last few days, I have, with gratitude, recounted my recent visit with my Dad. He celebrated 80 years this month and my family and his church came together to surprise him. It was such a joy to be part of it! I have to be honest with you, part of my motive for going was to have a more detailed conversation about what kind of help he may need in the future and turning 80 seemed to be a good reason to have this conversation.

Well…Here’s the story. I hope you will take a moment to read it, because it was a powerful wake-up call and has ME re-examining MY OWN future.
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Last Saturday evening, after a HealingStrong event, I jet-setted across the south arriving in my home state of Texas. The next morning, my brother’s family and I got up early and drove across Dallas to my Dad’s church. Hiding in the parlor, we waited for our cue and entered the Sunday School classroom in full celebration regalia singing Happy Birthday. My Dad was shocked! As he faced one part of the room where half our family came through the door, his sight was hindered for the other part of the room where the rest of us came in. Dad is blind now in one of his eyes and his field of vision was limited. It wasn’t until the celebration was over did he realize the scope of our family’s attendance. It blessed him powerfully and his class blessed us all in return.

Between the expert leadership of the director of the class, the greeters who embrace everyone with warmth and welcome, and the open line of prayer and encouragement that flowed through them all, I couldn’t help but think, “…this is Dad’s ‘family away from family’ and they sure know how to make a heart connection. They’ve mastered the heartbeat of doing community.” That was just the start of a three-day whirlwind with my Dad.

You see, almost twenty years ago, shortly after my Mom’s death, my Dad was 60 and it was then that he surrendered to a calling that had been placed on his life since his teenage years. Though he had been running from it for decades, he knew at 60 that it was time to be all in. He went to Chaplaincy school and began the next season of his life. Prior to Mom’s passing, Dad was in the corporate world and the dichotomy of his life today vs. then is mind boggling. He loves serving others.

In the few days I was with him, he officiated a wedding, led a small group, practiced with his choir, gave the chaplaincy report with his pacesetters class, led a grief share group, and that was just part of our time. He also made time for his friends (a motley crew, might I add) golfing at his favorite course. Together they worked as a band of brothers, overcoming a one-eyed handicap, knee and hip replacements and worked together to track and find their missing golf balls. They joked about their shortcomings and kept encouraging each other in the ways only dear friends know how.

The whole time I again kept thinking, “…their joy is so palpable.”

The few days I was with my Dad, I witnessed an overcomer, a bold and courageous witness, a teacher, a friend, a Father, a Grandfather, a Minister, a man living in the presence of God and enjoying his best life. Dad’s physical body is wearing down and he has experienced his fair share of heartache; burying his parents, two wives, a son, and countless other friends and relatives. Yet, he continues to persevere with so much joy.

By the end of my trip, I realized his future is now and I am at peace knowing he is living his best days. As you can see, I have thought a lot about this trip and instead of returning home questioning Dad’s future, I find myself questioning my own. Am I allowing the weightiness of life to be a hindrance? Am I living my best life today with no excuses?

All I could think to tell him as we were wrapping up our time together is this…..“Go, Dad!! Keep on living your best life, right where you are, with what you have, serving God whole-heartedly. And, may the rest of us do the same.”

What’s holding you back from living your best life? Can HealingStrong help you? Have you connected with a local group? We are a group living in community together. We are missing someone….YOU!

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