Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad's Courage

If you read through Braveheart blogs, you'll find a recurring theme:  the power of parents who model courage to their children.  No matter what we want our children to become, "do as I do" has a lot more impact on our children than "do as I say." That's a little frightening, isn't it?  Our children are watching.

Leslie Neff
As we move beyond the cards and grilled steaks of Father's day, I hope that we can do what my Dad did for me.  Even though he didn't always know it, I watched him a lot.  And I learned. He moved on to life with God over two years ago, but his impact on me still makes a difference every day.

From an outside look, Dad wasn't a world changer.  He worked as a machinist, lived in a modest home in Arizona, and managed to enjoy fishing and hunting as much as he could squeeze in while working and fulfilling his responsibilities.  But, the leap he made from a farm in rural Kentucky to the end of his life was over a gap that took more courage than I will ever muster.  He modeled courage to me.

I hope that when my children and your children look back they can say that they learned courage from us, courage to be bravehearts for the right things.  Here are some ways Dad modeled courage:

* He married my Mom, when he could have left her alone with child--me!  He had the courage to do the right thing instead of leaving.

* He sold everything he had and moved from his beloved Kentucky home to Arizona to help my Mom's health.  He pulled one small U-Hall behind his truck and gave up all he knew to do the right thing.

* He had the courage to give my sister and me a big vision, a vision for a life different than he had known.  His life wasn't bad at all, but he was bold to give us something new and big.

* He had the courage to quit smoking.  When he decided it was wrong, that was it. Courage and strength to decide what was right and do it without complaint and without turning back.

* He had the courage to serve my Mom for decades of illness, giving up his dreams to be at her side twice a day in her nursing home.  He had the courage to show how Jesus loves us.

* He had the courage to humble himself in his last couple of years on earth and let Jesus change him in ways that surprised me.  Sitting and talking on our porch in his last visit to us, I hardly knew this man who had God's grip on him.

My dad didn't talk much about these things, he just showed me.  That has made all the difference.  May you and I have such an impact on our children through our lives.

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