As the years pass, the memories grow hazier with step forward into the future. But you are not forgotten. When I would stay with you and Grandma, you would wake me early on Sundays while others in the house slept. We would walk the dirt road together. You sang me hymns; sometimes as you even smoked your cigarette. We would sit in the back of the church, and you would hold the blue tattered hymnal while we stood together. I felt so grown up being alone with you. I remember your smell, your small frame. The pack you kept in your front shirt pocket. The cap you always wore. The faith you had in your son - my father - when he dared to dream. I remembered the way you would tell me over and over how proud you were of Daddy. And Grandma, she loved you so deeply. I'm not sure I've ever seen love like that on this earth. I'm not sure you even knew or could understand as your health failed, but she loved you to death, and I remember thinking I wanted to be a wife like that. I think of you both often when we love these children and families who are sometimes hard to persevere with. I think of the struggles you both endured, the lives you face, the victories you shared...and it gives me the courage to love again. I remember one of my last times with you as I stroked your hand and told you stories and how much I loved you. You couldn't respond or sit up, but you silently wept. I'm so honored to be your granddaughter.
There are moments when I memorize your face. I study the way you hold my sons. I watch as a little girl who has never known a safe man runs to your arms. I sometimes think I could listen to you pray every day for the rest of my life. You are a man of God, and I thank the Father every single day for the role model you are to my sons. You have been there almost every moment and event in my life, and when Jamie and I began dating, I longed for your approval. The stories you told me into the night, the books you read to me when I begged one more time...your life is woven into the tapestry of mine and my sons, and I am so incredibly grateful. You have always believed in me, listened to me, challenged me, and hoped with me. You have been a faithful picture of Jesus in my life, and that is something I carry with me each and every day. Thank you. I love you.
I remember sitting in Finance 302 summer session because I had failed the class twice already. I couldn't understand the teacher, and we had just become engaged. There was this moment I totally checked out and began daydreaming. I saw us, together, with a mess of kids, and as I thought of you one day being a father, I smiled and laughed out loud, to which my instructor thought I was laughing at him, and he asked me to leave.
I am in awe of who you are. I can't believe this is us. I remember the days when I didn't know if we would survive another week, the day we begged God to break us because we wanted more of Him than ourselves. He is so faithful. It is an honor to serve you, to walk with you, to follow you, to fight with you. To hear our sons say that they only want to be you when they grow up, causes me to catch my breath. To hear our foster children say that having a daddy like you is a dream come true, causes me to fall to my knees. You show me Jesus, while making me long for more of Him at the same time. Thank you for walking this life with me.
And to the One who has claimed me as His daughter and sees me robed in the righteousness of His son, I am so grateful.
Looking unto Jesus,