Recently my son and I were talking about times in life where he is learning about growing up and how really trying times can be present. There was emotion and pain, tears, and the question “Why?” But then the conversation turned. “Dad, did you ever go through this when you were a kid?”
Boy, did I go through it when I was a kid. I mean, isn’t that what being a dad is all about––sparing our kids from going through all the things that we went through? Dads try to give their kids the keys of life so they hurt less, succeed more, and then do what they were never able to do. Of course going down this memory lane for me was emotion in a different way. You see, I did not have a dad in my home for much of my growing up years. It was just mom and I, trying to make life happen–– just the two of us. But then I realized I had some men that stepped up and became dad in ways that I needed them. Rev. Bill Crowder, the very first minister to ever imprint my life. John Cassida, my very first Royal Ranger commander––I still remember things about him that shaped me. Commander Jim, my second Royal Ranger Commander––he was a man that pushed me to be greater than I was. Kurt Convey, my very first small group leader––Kurt was a great man to look up to and I thought he had a cool truck (only to later realize it was just a little Toyota pickup with crank windows, AM/FM stereo, and the highlight––A/C). Rick Lorimer––wow, I wanted to lead people like he did. Rod Whitlock and Woody Winchell, my first coaches––they taught me way more about following Christ than football or basketball. Cmdr. Ric Olsen––thank you for showing a lifetime of dedication and will power to see me succeed! Solomon Wang––“God, will I ever preach like him or lead people to Jesus like does?” Rev. Steve Warner––you were hard and disciplined, but I haven’t forgot the power of gratefulness, thank you notes, and how to stand alone, tall, and strong. Bill Frazzee––wisdom and gentleness like no other man I have ever seen. Sim Ambrose––the quiet Italian that taught me what love and devotion is all the way to Ms. Reba’s last breath. Tony Sillyman––the greatest giver and provider a family could ever have. Kent Ferrin––the greatest encourager and faithful listener in the world. Wendall Meadows––a mentor, teacher, and picture of grace and honor. Dr. Lindberg––wow, you took a chance on me when I was close to giving up on me. Charles Robertson––the truest definition of friend! Ted Lewiston––you adopted me and let me take your name and heritage. Now I call you Dad!
I now find myself in Cape Cod for almost 2 years, developing new relationships and learning from new dad’s, seeing how life is still hard, but oh so beatable!
As I stepped out of my memory lane, something different hit me; Isaiah has some men in his world… Uncle Ben Fanning, #11 Josh Vance, #8 Andrew Brimhall, Uncle Ben Marquass (USMC Veteran), Coach Scott Rowe, his 2 favorite principals––Mr. E. White and Mr. G, can’t forget Uncle Tim, Uncle James, and his Uncles B., Nate, and Phil (who we call Unkle Frow-up)! All these men that have helped, or are helping him to navigate life – successfully!
Isaiah, I did face the pain of rejection; friends that could say hurtful things; I dealt with the emotions from death, leaving, or just flat out anger––but I made it through. I didn’t do it alone, but with the help of others––men that loved me like I was their own. Men who stooped down to let me climb on their backs! Isaiah, I give you the very first passage that your grandfather had me memorize as our family became a family in 1986. “My children, listen when your father corrects you. Pay attention and learn good judgment, for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my instructions. For I, too, was once my father’s son, tenderly loved as my mother’s only child. My father taught me, ‘Take my words to heart. Follow my commands, and you will live.’” (Proverbs 4:1-4)
“Keep on swingin’ Champ! Never, never give up!” You are going to make it! I Love You Isaiah!