Happy Birthday, Dad

Well, we did it. The flowers are ordered, the popcorn will be delivered, and the gifts are in the mail. It’s been a busy but fun week setting the stage for a fabulous birthday surprise for my friend I mentioned before.

Just as I began feeling a tad bit proud of myself for pulling all of this off, it hit me. Oh, no! Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday and I have done nothing. Zip. Nada. My tecchie husband probably had an online card automatically sent, but that’s hardly a daughter’s personal touch. My mind drifted back to a letter written many years ago by a father to a young freshman girl away at college. It is full of wisdom and insight, a father’s philosophy of life distilled down into one powerful page. I still have that letter, worn from being opened and refolded many times in the 24 years since it was written. So, as a tribute to my dad, I am sharing excerpts from his letter and reflections on how I have tried to follow his advice.

There will be times when it seems the world will overcome you – but don’t be afraid- it’s just God’s way of letting you find out what you are made of. These are the times when you have to look inside yourself to find strength and wisdom. You need not worry- when you look inside you will find you have all the right stuff.

Do I have all the right stuff? Have I weathered life’s storms – and occasional tsunamis – with the grace you envisioned? I’m glad I didn’t know then how hard some of the trials would be. You taught me well how to survive whatever circumstances come my way. But sometimes I think I’ve relied too much on me and not on God and the friends He has put in my life.

When the troubles come into your life and you walk through the fire, keep your eyes fixed firmly on God and go forward. He will never fail you.

Okay, there’s my reprieve. Even when I don’t have all the right stuff, God does. When I get tired of trying to do it all on my own, God will gladly take over. And He will do it right the first time.

Stand up for truth and decency and never back down when you’re right. Don’t be misled by people- if millions believe in something that is wrong, it is still wrong. Don’t be afraid to be different when you know you are right. People will love and respect you for your convictions sooner or later.

Boy, has that one gotten me in some trouble down here in the South, where women are generally expected to smile and tell others exactly what they want to hear. The comfort zone is generations wide and differing opinions are looked upon with suspicion. But don’t worry, dad; I’m still being different.

Be a friend to those who need one and be caring of everyone’s feelings.

Okay, dad, I was being a friend to the one who needed it. You are the one who showed me how to give to those who can’t repay you and to surprise people with gifts. But was I caring of your feelings, too ? Sometimes I get so focused on what others need that I miss the people closest to me. Where is the balance between caring for our family and meeting the needs of others? I guess that’s one of those questions we spend a lifetime trying to answer.

Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!

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