Giving gratitude for the men who have nurtured you
One sadness I hold about my Dad passing before this season of my ministry is that you haven’t been privileged to meet or know him. I realize I am biased, but others would bear witness, too … Lynn Leatherwood is one amazing man. Though imperfect in many ways, Daddy was faithful to God’s design and desire for him in so many more. As a tribute not just to my Daddy, but to all who have fathered us, nurtured us, companioned, and schooled us, I want to offer my gratitude for just a few of the gifts they have given us in their living.
Nothing is impossible for God
May you find ways to give voice and action to your gratitude for those men who have nurtured you. My Daddy taught me that “I can …” I can do just about anything. I can do the things I didn’t want to do like mowing the grass or helping him measure and cut wood when building something. I can set up the tent in the rain and help my sister with homework. And I can do the things that – at first thought – I tell myself, or agree with someone else, that I cannot do. Like change my oil, or get through trigonometry class, or cross the swinging bridge at Fall Creek Falls, or ask for help. I can because God’s Spirit is my helper and God promised me that nothing is impossible for God. My Daddy taught me that.
Gratitude for God’s gift of life
My Daddy taught me to appreciate life. He wanted his girls to know (well, he wanted everyone to know) the joy and wonder of God’s gift of life. Daddy taught us to acknowledge even look for the beauty of Indian paintbrush on the trail, noticing how fragile yet how strong it is; he taught us the same about Queen Anne’s Lace and how to avoid it unless you wanted chiggers to set up camp in your most inconvenient places.
We learned to appreciate the time and energy and sacrifice it took for milk and beans and beef to appear on our table; we learned to appreciate the time and energy and sacrifice that it took for our Sunday School teachers and softball coach and choir directors to pour knowledge, confidence, and companionship into our lives. The best part of learning appreciation is knowing that my life is different because of Indian paintbrush, because of sharing roasted peanuts with my Daddy (from the same field he grew them with his Daddy), and because of other voices Daddy introduced me to that introduced me to wonderful life experiences.
Curiosity and life-long learning
My Daddy taught me to learn and keep on learning. A natural outgrowth of appreciation, really, is a curiosity to understand (and, so value even more) the beauty and glory, the “how’s” and “what’s” and “why’s” of a thing. A lifelong learner, Daddy was always growing in understanding and appreciation of the stuff of life. Like, how to take a better photograph (of Indian paintbrush, let’s say) or how to grow beans in a suburban backyard or how to build this and how to fix that … When you’ve been taught that you can, that life (all of it) is a gift to be appreciated, you kind of want to know more how things work toward goodness. You never know what you might learn new that you can do or that you appreciate.
The most important lesson of Divine Love
And Daddy taught us how much Jesus loves us. We didn’t realize he was teaching this so much as we just listened to his stories of how he came to believe that he could never be separated from God’s love in Jesus. And, that we couldn’t, wouldn’t be either. One of my favorite childhood memories is of a plastic coin holder that he kept in his pocket. It was oval-ish and you pressed in the sides to make it pop open. Even when there wasn’t change enough in there for the gumball machine or a piece of candy at the Sears’ counter, there was always his little silver cross-in-my-pocket. It sure bore witness to me that Daddy lived his life by the rule of Divine Love. And, that I could, too. All I needed to do was know that I could, appreciate the lessons from my Daddy, and keep on learning on my own.
My Daddy taught me that and I am grateful.