My Savior and My God

This week at my church’s Bible Study for women, I was asked to share what God has been doing in my life. As I wrote out what I planned to share, it struck me that I should share this on my blog as well!

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God has been teaching me the same things over and over because apparently I’m a very slow learner. Two of the things I want to focus on are contentment in Him and finding my value in Him.

As I’ve said before, in 2010 my family and I moved to Conway, Arkansas from our small town in Missouri where we had lived for nine years. In this move and before we came to our home church in November, God saved me and then taught me to be content in my family.

I made friends with a girl just a year older than me in early 2011. We were totally fangirls- Star Trek, Star Wars, Artemis Fowl, Lord of the Rings, Narnia– and our own worlds of course. We played Real Life Games (“pretend”) with our characters and wrote together several times. However, in 2013 she began to suffer from intense anxiety attacks and depressive episodes. For several months we essentially communicated solely by letters.

However, in 2013 she began to suffer from intense anxiety attacks and depressive episodes. For several months we essentially communicated solely by letters.

As I struggled with the difficult and often confusing questions she asked me, I learned obedience. I knew my answers weren’t always what she wanted to hear and sometimes I didn’t say things well. I really couldn’t see her very much as I was sometimes a trigger for her attacks because I reminded her of the games and her difficulties with putting those down was part of what led to her problems.

As I prayed for her and for myself and walked through that time, I also learned to be content with God’s outcome. I expected that if I did everything the right way and said what God told me to say, that we would still stay as close as we were before. That wasn’t the case and while we are still friends, we only see each other and communicate twice a year when we put together a piano recital for our students. I learned that obedience does not necessarily mean we get the outcome we anticipate.

In 2015 I lost more friends. The family that we did house church with was called to serve with a ministry in Texas. Looking for a church again was a daunting task, as I’ve blogged about before. Going to church in a city forty-five minutes from where we live has been difficult in several different ways and I have struggled with bitterness, anger, loneliness, anxiety, and complaining.

God has been teaching me that just because someone does something differently does not mean it’s wrong- in some things there is more than one way to do something. He’s taught me that no one is perfect, that His plans are perfect, and that He puts us where we need to be.

God is good. Through all of these and more circumstances, God has forcefully re-aligned my focus to Him. He has reminded me that He loves me, that I am safe with Him, that I am not alone. He reminds me that I can be fully and completely content in Him.
Another lesson God has been teaching me is that my value comes from Christ and I should be focused on pleasing Him, not man.

I am nineteen years old and I graduated high school last year. I’ve never been on a date or had someone tell me a guy was interested in me- nothing. I wanted to be married or at least close right out of high school and obviously that hasn’t happened. I want a husband, family, and home to care for and when people ask me what I want to do… that’s what I tell them.

Lately, as I have struggled with being content in this time of my life, I have started down the path of wondering what’s wrong with me that no one is interested in me. I have looked at women and girls I know who have what I want- trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. I self-examine and try to figure out why I’m left out and what is wrong with me. I see flaws aplenty in my physical appearance and am reminded by others and my own mind about things that are wrong or annoying in my personality and temperament.

But my worth is in Christ. Yes, I need to be examining myself to see where my life, actions, words, are not lining up with Scripture. My worth is in what Christ did when he sacrificed himself for me and rose from the dead. God loves me because of the blood of His Son. He is the One I should be working to please. God comes with a whole book on how to love Him- guys don’t.

Because of what Christ did, I can know that I am loved by God. He is the reason I am who I am. He’s the reason I can love, the reason I live, the reason I keep going. He is pleased with me because of Christ. He is my peace. My friend. My God.

He is and always will be more than enough, and these life trials, as well as ones I haven’t mentioned, have only served to make me see that more clearly.

An Open Letter to Sydney

Dear Sydney,

You’re awesome. Seriously.

You’ve got this great sense of style- everything from Pusheen to scarves to The Flash. It’s eclectic and it’s you. Even though you’re still figuring things out, you doing it the right way. You’re looking to find your style, not trying to simply copy everyone else.

You listen. On Sunday, you let me say things I hadn’t said to another person. Even when we got lost, you kept me as calm as you could and then you did something awesome:

You talked to me about how you felt. You reciprocated. And I can’t explain how much it means to me when you are willing to open up and talk to me.
Being your age is hard, especially the places we are right now. But you’ve always got your family. All the girls at volleyball like you- I know they do. Because you’re funny, you’re caring, and people love being around you.
You’ve got this great ability to make everyone feel good just by being around you. You build people up and are genuinely concerned about their emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. And that’s special, Sydney.
I know that we argue a lot. I know I push you too far sometimes. I want to ask your forgiveness for that.

Because you are the best sister for me in your own way. You’re one of my best friends, one of like two people who I can always talk to. Thank you for that.

Sydney, you are not a failure. You are enough- more than enough- for all of us. I’m going to go all Veggie-Tales on you, but it’s true: God made you special and He loves you very much. We all love you very much. You are enough because you’re you.

So keep exploring. Keep trying things and working towards the person God wants you to be. Don’t freak out if you make mistakes- you know I make tons of those and look! I’m still alive!

Don’t give up. Don’t let yourself believe the lies that you aren’t good enough, that people don’t like you, or that you never do anything right.

Because those are lies. They are false and they are wrong and you have to remind yourself of that.

I love you so much. So much. I don’t tell you enough or show it enough, but I do. I’d do anything for you, sis, and I hope you know that.

Love ya, bubsie!

 

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The Best Karen EVER

Karen is my younger sister. She turned thirteen last week and I honestly can’t believe it…

Like, when did the little kid who dug her tiny fingers through our mom’s ice cream cake at two in the morning one year suddenly become old enough to wear eye shadow and be interested in boys?
HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

*sighs*

But now she’s off at camp, away from home for five days. She’s never been gone this long. Ever. And although I know she’s going to have a blast, I still miss her. Her twin misses her. Her big brother misses her. (I don’t think the dog cares…). And her parents miss her.

It’s going to be a quiet week without Karen.

She’s the type of girl who is very quiet, often thinks she’s the person who’s wrong (when normally that’s not the case) is quick to stand up for others, and always looks for the best in people even when expecting all sorts of terrible things to happen (blindness, death, maiming, thunderstorms- I don’t know, her imagination is endless…).

Basically, she’s the Jane to her sisters’ Lizzie.

And she rocks at it, really.

Her tastes are so different from mine and Sydney’s that sometimes things get tense as we try to figure each other out, but once we can get her to open up (…this is a very lengthy process….) we can all laugh and tease each other again.

Karen plays guitar and piano, enjoys math, loves Peanuts and Dear America, and has a heart to serve (even if she is a little scared of small children). She rarely complains, puts up with her weird and often selfish older sister, and is a counselor for everyone in our family.

She knows when I’m sad and when I’m happy. She’ll roll her eyes when I’m talking about a cute guy, get teary when I talk about getting married, and laugh when Philip tells jokes.

She’s the perfect Karen for herself, for our family, for her friends, and for her Savior.

She is dearly loved by all who know her, liked by all she meets, and cherished by her family.

I love you so much, sissie!

 

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The Best Brother (Sorry everyone else, Philip wins hands down)

I am the oldest of four children, and today is my “little” brother’s birthday. Philip is sixteen today, but as I told him this morning, I think I’ve been telling people he’s sixteen for the last four months because he never really looked fifteen. Well, maybe he did, but that would have been two years ago.

Philip is at the top of my “Opinions that Matter to Me” list and has held that position probably his entire life.

He’s the model of a dedicated student, having carried a harder school load for the last two years than I ever have, and still makes better grades than I did.

And, thankfully, he’s not just smart.

My brother is the funniest person I’ve ever met and probably ever will meet. We can have a perfectly serious conversation peppered with inside jokes and misunderstood words and just plain “Philip” stuff that keeps the mood light.

He is one of the most knowledgeable people under the age of twenty-six that I know when it comes to the Lord and the Bible.

Philip and I created worlds when we were younger, building spy organizations, goat farms, bad-guy bases, and more out of LEGOs. Our Bonicles fought villains, had kids, went to kholi tournaments, and always ended up saying things that entered into our daily speech.

We had a deal when it came to playing together: we could have a long battle if my characters could have a wedding. This satisfied both of us, and Philip, as my girl’s dad, got a lot of practice interviewing prospective husbands.

For the last three years or so, Philip has been into photography. Most of the photos of my family that you see on this blog were taken by him. His nature photography will leave you breathless and I’m still trying to figure out how to get it out to more people.

Adults love him, little kids can’t get enough of him (I’m totally not kidding), teens think he’s a senior in high school, and I just get to stand there all smug and say, “Oh yeah, that’s my brother.”

I reference him all the time in conversation. I go to him when I need a question answered. He listens (eventually). He reads. He answers.

He is the best brother anyone could EVER ask for. His sisters know that, and so do his friends.

Philip is my go-to-guy for those puzzles that distract from the story of the Nancy Drew Games we always play together.

He kills bugs.

He opens things.

His closest friends are two boys who live five hours away. They’ve been best friends since they were probably four or five and see each other every summer.

I love watching them see each other again because it’s always the same, year after year.

Caleb will come in first. Philip will smile shyly, a little worried that maybe they’ve changed and they won’t be as close anymore. And then Zachary comes in, sees my brother, and says

“PHILIP!”

At that point, Philip is caught up in a bear hug and before we can blink all three of them are crammed into Philip’s tiny room and we can hear the laughter all over the house.

So happy birthday, Philip. No one can ever replace you and I wouldn’t want them to. I love you, Little-Brother-Who-Isn’t-So-Little.

 

Love,

Your Short Sis.

 

The Grand Deception Part Five: Boo-Yah

My mom is giving me the ‘serious face’ as she says,

“Now tell me everything, from the beginning.”

I take a deep breath.

I weigh my options.

The international student still hasn’t been picked up. We still have an hour to kill. How can I get the student over here in time? And how can I stall for another HOUR? It’s hopeless.

So, with an open mind, and a very empty stomach (I ate a light lunch), I tell Mother everything. From the beginning.

burn it all

“The soup boiled over. While I was trying to get it off the eye, it splashed everywhere- all over the stove, the counter, and the floor. After I cleaned it up I tried to wash the pot, but it was so heavy that I dropped it on my foot.”

Pfff, you didn’t REALLY think I’d have come all this way only to back down at the literal eleventh hour? No sir! We Fulmer women are tougher than that.

And guess what?

She buys it, hook, line, and sinker.

Actually, she even helps my story along. I contradicted myself a few times but she put it off on the sheer terror of the moment or something like that.

When I finally finish to her satisfaction, Karen (who knows the truth) puts the finishing touch on the whole scam:
“So basically, you dropped the pot because you let your temper get the best of you.”

yeahsure

Ah, I’ve trained them well, haven’t I?

And somehow, in that moment, everything becomes plain.

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I tell Mother that the student asked to come over at about 6:15.

She leaves right at 6:15, which means everyone should be here by the time she gets back.

The girls and I jump into action, folding blankets, throwing pillows around, putting out soup, and generally freaking out.

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I hear Mother pull in just as I get a text from one of the guests:
I’m here with a carload. Where should we park?

As I try to figure out what to do, Mother walks in with our student, saying,
“There’s someone out there in a car… I wonder who it is?”

Thankfully, Mother is so confused she doesn’t question how I can jump out of the chair and tell her “I’ll take care of it!”

She just nods and goes to change out of her sweatpants, because our student is dressed nicely.

Everyone is here!

The girls and I get everyone into the kitchen. They’re in the perfect position to be hidden from Mother.

Then we wait for the guest of honor.

And wait.

And wait.

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Yeah, honestly, sometimes I think about saying that. Sometimes.

Finally, I run back to the other side of the house and cautiously ask the closed closet door, “Um… Mother, are you… coming?”

“Almost done!”

I’m worried about that, because-

ready

I walk slowly back to the kitchen. Still awkward.

Then, finally, the moment arrives. Mother comes through the door and sees first one, then another, and then another of her new friends.

Her smile gets bigger and bigger and the girls and I trade looks.

We know it’s been worth every stressful moment and then some.

This, this, is what I wanted to give my mother for her birthday.

Why?

Because she is one of the most amazing people God ever created and she isn’t thanked enough. Because she deserves this.

Because I love her.

Shock Waves

I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t.

First, it was an email.

Pray for this family.

Confused, I shot a quick prayer to heaven asking for safety and comfort for the family, unsure as to what was going on.

Then I shot a quick text to my friend.

I’m praying, I said, is something wrong?

Yes. Something was very wrong.

Her father had died that morning.

Before I really knew it I was on my knees, crying, hands clenched together, talking to God once again.

Dead? Dead?! How could this man be dead? I just saw him playing basketball with his youngest kids last week at the gym. How is he dead?

I found out later that it was a heart attack.

But in the moment, my sinful nature fed on the shock and I asked the God of the Universe, my Father, traitorous questions.

Why did he have to die? Why did you let him die? What is his family going to do? Why, God? WHY.

My friends, a pair of sisters, had just been at my house the day before. We’d played and talked and joked and then they’d left and we’d gone about our business.

And now everything is different.

Thankfully, the Lord has shown me my sin. We can ask why, but we cannot demand explanations from God. We cannot say that He is not fair or not just.

Just because this looks like the worst possible thing that could happen does not mean that it is. Even if I cannot see it right now. Even if my friends and their mom and siblings cannot see it.

We know, and we believe beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this man’s death was not a surprise to God.

It still hurts and I cannot image what this family is feeling. I know I am going crazy because there’s nothing I can do.

I cannot bring my friends’ dad back.

And yet…

And yet he is in perfect peace, being there in Heaven with the Prince of Peace.

And yet this family has friends who are rallying around them, ready to help, already praying, and prepared to do anything they can to help.

Psalm 112:1-9

Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!

His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.

Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.

Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; He is gracious, merciful, and righteous.

It is will with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice.

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.

His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.

He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor.

My friends, I am praying this piece of Scripture for you. We are all praying for you, my sisters and brothers in Christ.

-Sarah

The Grand Deception Part Four: Execution

It began with cake, as usual.

My family has a long tradition of waking up the birthday boy or girl with cake and presents in bed, normally around 6:30.

I’ll take a moment to give you a side note:
The last four of my birthdays have encountered one mishap after another, so it’s normally 8:30 or even 9:00 by the time the family comes to my room. I would like to take a shower during these times of waiting, but my traditionalist brother won’t stand for it.

Anyway, the girls and I work up at 6:25 sharp. We set out the flowers, sealed the card, and got the cake.

We ran into problems almost immediately. I had pushed my creative gene to the extreme and come up with the idea to put the candles in the shape of my mom’s age (I didn’t say it was a great creative gene). I lit the first match.

The candle didn’t light.

Three matches later only four of the twenty candles were lit.

Please let me note here, that due to excellent training by my parents, my reaction to fire is this:

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So having to stand in the dark in my probably flammable pj’s trying to light candles on a cake held dangerously crooked by my sister was terrifying.

I lit the fifth match.

All the candles blew out.

I took a deep breath. It was ok. I’d just… something.

AH HA!

I had it. I’d just light the candles at the key points of the digits. That would be enough.

When we finally lit the candles, the girls and I crept into Mom’s room singing “Happy Birthday”.

All went well, and we spent the next little while on our mom’s bed, trading stories and having a pleasant time. However, the rest of the day went like this:

8:45 AM: Mother leaves to drop the girls off at their babysitting job.

8:46 AM: I turn on the crockpot to warm the soup I made on Monday, then jump in the shower.

9:15: Turn on my computer to start school, scan Facebook for half an hour.

9:45: Feel guilty, start school.

procrastination

12:00 PM: Lunch!

2:15 PM: First piano students of the day arrive. So far, so good.

3:30 PM: Students leave, I mention to mom that some bread would go well with the other soup I’m going to make. I tell her I’ll go get it later.
This is a total lie because I’m actually using this as a way to get out of the house to pick up one of the guests. But she doesn’t know that.

4:15 PM: Last piano student arrives.

4:20 PM: WHAT IS THIS NOISE I HEAR?!?!?!!?

Oh, I bet you know what it is.

It is my Mother. CHOPPING ONIONS. FOR SOUP. THAT I WAS GOING TO MAKE. And I know she won’t make enough because she only wanted me to make a little bit because she’s the only one in the family who eats it.

I try to focus on Matthew’s piece. It’s not working.

Okay, I tell myself. It’s all fine. Deep breaths. Whoo-hee whoo-hee whoo-hee.

I’m okay now. Really, it’s all fine. I’ll just make more and ignore any questions she asks.

Then the bomb drops.

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4:40 PM: Mother pops her head into the den while Matthew is finishing his last song. She says, “I’m off to the store to get bread! We can eat when I get home.”

She walks out the door.

Matthew finishes his piece.
4:42 PM: I can’t help it. In a few terse sentences, I explain my predicament to Matthew.

Everything happens in slow motion.

Matthew nods. I sigh. Then, casually, as though he isn’t solving all my problems with his one suggestion, he says,

“What if you just hid the soup and told your mom something happened to it so she has to make more?”

My mouth falls open.

“Matthew,” I say slowly, “You are an evil genius and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

4:45 PM: Matthew leaves and I jump into action. I pour the soup into a container and hide that in my closet. I’m still freaking out, however, so I text my dad and tell him that I’m freaking out.

While I wait for a response, I have a great idea.

I’ll concoct a fake injury to go with my story. That should buy us some time.

genius

Because see, my big problem is keeping my mom from eating dinner before everyone arrived. I need to occupy her.

Although, I’m not sure how long my injury will stall her. Unless we are REALLY bleeding or she can see bone, my mom is pretty… um… dare I say, insensitive? to our wounds. But maybe it will give me a few minutes.

So as my dad calms my nerves with a phone call, I call upon my actress/author genes (which are WAY stronger than my creative gene) and carefully draw a bruise on my foot, right under my big toe, with purple, green, and yellow markers.

Reading a lot of books has been good for me, see? I know the bruise shouldn’t be just purple.

Perfect. I smudge it a bit and clean up the edges, then make an ice pack for myself.

The Final Product
The Final Product

I finish just in time.

5:00 PM: Mother arrives home.

I’m standing in the kitchen trying not to laugh. Mother comes in and the following occurs:

Me (sad and repentant): I’m sorry, Mother, but the soup boiled over… and then I dropped the pot on my foot. *reveals foot*

Mother: *gasps in absolute horror* SARAH ANNE, WHAT ON EARTH HAVE YOU DONE TO YOUR POOR SELF?

My sisters: *gasp*

Me: *mentally* Uh-oh. *Out Loud* It’s really fine… I mean, I’m okay…

Mother: And you cleaned up the whole kitchen! Oh, you poor baby.

At this point, I am too stunned for words.

The next thing I know, I’m in the den with my foot propped up and Karen is bringing me an ice pack. Pulling her close, I explain the situation. She looks relieved.

5:30 PM: Mother has finished making the new batch of soup and now comes to the den. She sits down on the couch and looks me dead in the eyes. “Now,” she says, “Tell me how this happened. From the beginning.”

flynnie

Scratch that-

Here comes the writer.

The Grand Deception Part Two: Production

The guest list was made. Facebook messages (the only place we could communicate with a large number of people without my mom knowing) were sent, and plans were put into action.
I stalked a number of guests during various church services in order to get contact information from them. Stake-outs in front of doors, hidden in plain sight, were common. Two failed attempts did not deter me, and finally, a week and a half before the party, I tracked down one of three elusive guests.

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                         *not me*

Karen, Sydney, and I planned the menu. We’d need at least two large pots of soup, and there were various diets and dietary needs to consider. Due to the nature of the soups, I had to tell our mother I wanted to make them.

Thankfully, she was simply happy I was offering to make supper one night, and cheerfully added a few ingredients to the list.
And what about my other parental authority, you may be asking. What did my dad think of all this?
Well, I kinda forgot to ask him.

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I know, I know, it’s bad, but since he wasn’t going to be here, the thought didn’t occur to me!
One night, as I was stationed across from a ladies’ Bible Study classroom, waiting for my prey to emerge, he “caught” me.
The conversation went something like this:
Dad: Um, what are you doing over here?
Me: Just waiting for someone.
Dad: Oh?
Me: I’ve got to invite Miss So-and-So to the party!
Dad: What party?
Yeah. Bad move. But thankfully, my dad’s awesome, as you all already know, so he was fine with it. Philip was too, but his was more of an “I won’t be there so it doesn’t really matter to me…” agreement.
Oh well! I was undaunted. I was confident in my ability to pull this off. Nothing could go wrong! I was on top of the world!

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Until four days before the party.
Yeah, that’s when my mom said, “Sarah, why don’t we just make that soup today? The chicken needs to be cooked.”
Cue major panic attack.

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The Grand Deception Part One: Conception

One cold, bleak, February afternoon, three girls hatched an impossible idea.

An idea so bold, so daring, and so fraught with disaster that one would think these girls were crazy. And, so some extent, we are.

Karen, me and Sydney
         Karen, me and Sydney

My sisters, Karen and Sydney, are twelve and a half years old. With five years on them, I’ve got a little more life experience, but that doesn’t mean I don’t turn to them for advice. I do. Often. I could go on and write a whole post about my awesome little (but not short) sisters, but that will have to wait. Right now, I’ve got a story to share.

Our father and brother, the only males in our home, were going to be gone on different trips the week of our mother’s birthday. It would be the first time in over four years that a family member had missed a birthday and the girls and I were feeling it. We wanted to do something for her. She is the best mother, wife, and friend anyone could have.

 

Our Mother
                  Our Mother

It was then that I, Sarah, the Mastermind of All Awesome and Audacious Plans, came up with the ultimate solution.

My two sisters and I would plan a surprise birthday party for our mom.

Awesome, huh?

Boss Lady agrees, it is an awesome idea
       Boss Lady agrees, it is an                  awesome idea

Four years ago, for a birthday milestone I shall not name lest I incur the wrath of said mother, my dad got a couple of my mom’s best friends who live in Missouri to come down here to Arkansas to surprise my mom for her birthday. This was at the end (although we didn’t know that quite yet) of my maternal grandmother’s year-long battle with lymphoma. It couldn’t have come at a more poignant time.

What better way to encourage the new relationships our mom is forming at our new church than with a reprise of that wonderful birthday? Even though you can’t see me, I’m waggling my eyebrows quite wonderfully at the thought.

When I approached my sisters with the idea, they immediately balked. Unfortunately, they do not have the greatest confidence in my abilities when it comes to pulling off things like a surprise party.

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However, I eventually drew them into my plot. Soon, they were just as excited as I was. We began compiling a guest list that ended up increasing all the way up until the day before the party!

We decided to have a soup dinner and I looked for recipes that would yield enough food for the twenty women we ended up inviting.

Who knew that the next four weeks would be full of harried rescheduling, panicked communications, and secret meetings- not to mention covert operations, fake injuries, iPhone hacking, and a *bit* (okay, a LOT) of help from our grandmother.

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Stay tuned for the next installment!

-Sarah

My Dad in Six Quotes

At my church’s annual Father-Daughter Banquet, the senior girls get the opportunity to give a tribute to their dad. I wanted to share mine with you.

I’ve been looking forward to this moment for the last year, ever since I attended my first Father-Daughter Banquet in 2015. When I realized that all the senior girls got to give tributes to their dads, I knew that my turn was coming up fast. I started planning right away. For some reason, I kept coming back to two of my dad’s catch-phrases. “He made mine teeth!” and “Always… be careful.” It was only a few weeks ago that I figured out what I wanted to do with my speech. My family can find a way to quote a line or a song with just about anything you say, and we do, all the time. So what better way to tell my dad, and you, what I love best about him than through six of his most oft-used quotes.

It was only a few weeks ago that I figured out what I wanted to do with my speech. My family can find a way to quote a line or a song with just about anything you say, and we do, all the time. So what better way to tell my dad, and you, what I love best about him than through six of his most oft-used quotes.

1. Calvinist Tonto

My dad is the only member of our family on what he refers to as “The Twitters”. Although I can’t be sure of who all he follows, I’m going to make an educated guess and say that they fall into two categories: Alabama football players/coaches/writers/etc., and Calvinists. He came up with this twitter handle on the way home from church one afternoon as we were discussing the Lone Ranger’s companion.

Daddy eventually said “Him plenty dead in his sins, Kimosabe. Him cannot save himself.” Roughly five seconds later, Calvinist Tonto was born. My dad’s passion for God’s Word, studying theology, and leading our family in nightly devotions are some of the main reasons he is the perfect father. Well, let me amend that, since I’m pretty sure I can guess what’s going through his head right now- the perfect earthy father.

Daddy, your devotion to making sure our whole family is regularly in the word, memorizing scripture, and discussing what we’ve read, isn’t something I’ve always appreciated enough. But after seeing the difference in my life when I’m not regularly reading the Bible, I can’t thank you enough for making sure that we do this.

2. Steve Austin, A Man Barely Alive

I was going to attempt the bionic sound from that classic 70’s TV show, The Six Million Dollar Man, but I decided that it would be a miserable fail. My siblings and I had heard Daddy reference this show all our lives. We didn’t really get what it was, but we would smile and go along with it like all children do.

Last summer all of that changed. Somehow, Daddy decided it was time to start purchasing all five seasons of The Six Million Dollar Man. The rest of the family was soon in love with Steve Austin, a man barely alive, and his boss-man, Oscar Goldman.

My family has not had cable or a satellite since I was in second grade. We’ve rented movies and done Netflix, but a long time ago my dad realized that the best way to keep not only us kids but also himself and my mom protected from temptation or negative influences in television was to simply get rid of the vehicle for it! Because of this, and because of the views that Daddy has been convicted to hold by the Lord, I’ve seen more pre 1980’s shows than I have modern ones. I can quote you lines from Perry Mason, The Waltons, MacGyver, Space Ghost, The Superfriends, and of course, The Six Million Dollar Man.

My dad is very careful about what our family watches, and I am so grateful. As my brother and I have gotten older, he’s also started to give us more leeway, not necessarily saying ‘no’ immediately, but encouraging us to read reviews from trusted sources, pray about the movie or show we want to watch, and to ask good questions. He is so good at making sure that my sisters, brother, and I aren’t just blindly obeying, but learning to be discerning for ourselves and read what God says about what we take in.

3. It’s locked! I need a key…

When I was eight years old, Daddy had started having to travel fairly often for work. Each time he came home, he would bring us a little treat. I feel bad, because I don’t remember any of them, save one. I remember that trip’s treat vividly.

We all came dashing out of the house as Daddy pulled into the driveway and got out of his truck. All four of us were jumping on him and pulling him this way and that and trying to tell him about a week’s worth of activates in about two seconds. When we finally calmed down, Daddy handed out that trip’s surprise. I think he saved mine for last. He handed me a CD case. There was a gray tower on a purple background and the title, Nancy Drew: Treasure in the Royal Tower. 

 

I cannot tell you how much that computer game, and the thirty-one games that followed it, has affected my life. Daddy and I popped that sucker into the computer and spend most evenings for weeks, thirty minutes at a time, meeting immortal characters like Professor Hotchkiss and Dexter, sneaking around an ancient French castle, and learning about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution. It shouldn’t surprise you to hear me say that Daddy and I (and now the rest of the family) have spent the last ten years waiting expectantly for new games to come out.

For many years, my Christmas list consisted of mainly Nancy Drew Games and books. For me, that’s what I think of when people ask me what I do with my dad. We play Nancy Drew games. We poke around, yell at the characters, make guesses as to the culprit, and solve puzzles. Well, he solves the puzzles. I get tired of trying after about six seconds. He and I almost can’t have a conversation anymore without quoting a game.

 

4. Beeps! Ooof!

If you’ve been around me and my dad for any length of time, you’ve most likely seen one of us go up to the other, give a poke in the stomach, and yell “beeps!” or “ooof”! I can’t even remember when this started, but Daddy has something like it with each child. It’s our special code that we use instead of saying “are you ok?” It’s hello and goodbye, it’s ‘nice one!’ or, ‘it’s all okay.’ It’s our way of telling each other ‘I love you’.

5. He made mine teeth!

Honestly, I don’t know what this means or where it comes from. If any of you recognize it, please let me know!

*update* After I gave this speech my dad showed me the scene in a Pink Panther movie where this quote comes from.

I’ve been trying to get this phrase’s origins out of my dad for months, but he’s pretty good at being unmovable. This quote is just one of many that I could have chosen to introduce the one of the things I love most about my dad and my family: our humor.

We are word people, mostly because of my dad. When my grandparents lived in Alabama, we visited them twice a year. The whole family would gather together for either the Fourth of July and the Iron Bowl- I mean, Thanksgiving. I have memories of running a post-it note and a pen back and forth between my dad and his mom as they played some crazy-made-up word game that only they could understand. My dad is a pun-master and has passed that trait on to Philip.

Daddy is always ready with a quip or a joke or a word-play to make even the most serious of conversations just a little lighter. He’s got the perfect balance of knowing when to keep a joke going, when to let it die (sometimes because I killed it with “okay, this conversation has gone way too far”…), and when to just be quiet. He keeps us laughing and aching all the time.

6. Always… be careful.

As far back as I can remember, this was my dad’s advice. Whenever we went on a trip, be it to the park or simply a bike ride, Daddy was always there to say “always…” and let us finish. We learned to watch for cars, weird people, and strange dogs with this slogan in mind.

My dad is always watching out for us, always. He watches out for our physical safety, making sure that Philip and I know to adjust the mirrors and seat before we start driving. When a loose dog came into our yard and started jumping on my brother when he was about five years old, Daddy grabbed that sucker by the front legs and pushed it out of the yard. When I thought there was a helicopter landing in our yard at age eight, Daddy came and checked it out.

He was willing to wear a pink tie to please my mom (and, he thought, me) when I went to prom a few years ago. He always wants me to be careful but has never stopped me from doing something hard or scary.

He is just the right mix of protective and encouraging. He has always believed in my abilities, even when I don’t. He supports me when I’m making a tough decision and gives me advice straight from the Bible.

***

I have never met another father who has made me think, “Gee, I wish he was my dad”, and I know that I never will. There are so many things I admire about you. I’m not embarrassed when you cheer and yell for Philip. It lets me know that I’m not weird for doing the exact same thing. And besides, I think people can hear you a lot better than they can hear me.

I know that if and when I get married you’ll give my boyfriend a hard time, but also give him good advice and take him seriously when he talks. I know that I’ll always be able to count on you for a hot dog or chicken patty. I know, for sure, that I can’t imagine life without you.

I know that God gives good gifts to His children, because He gave me you.