You are turning 80 years old in just a few short days. I find it hard to wrap my mind around this number! 80! Wow! But more than the number, I’ve found myself reflecting so much you and on our relationships, and I’ve been wowed by how blessed I am to have a daddy like you. You have loved and served the Lord with your whole life. As I have entered into my journey of parenthood, I realize even more what an exceptional job you did — because parenting is hard! But if I am able to be the kind of parent that you have been, then I will count it a success!
For your 80th birthday, I thought I’d share 80 of the lessons that I learned from you. I could write for paragraphs on each of these ideas. But that would take a whole book. So I’ll keep it simple. Some of these you have said to me, over and over again, but more of them, you have said with your life, over and over again.
1. It’s all about Jesus. We should strive to represent him in all we do.
2. Be generous. It’s only money.
3. Family comes first, always.
4. Commitments matter. Keep them. From small to large. If you say you’ll do it, then do it.
5. It’s ok to cry. I get my soft heart from Daddy.
6. Surround yourself with people who love the Lord.
7. Be committed to a church body. Don’t be a drifter.
8. Serve in your church.
9. Never be too proud to repent when you’ve made a mistake.
10. Repenting also means living differently henceforth.
11. Tithing to God’s local church is pleasing to him.
12. You don’t need wealth to be happy or to have a good life.
13. Discipline is an act of love.
14. Integrity. Do what you know is right. Just do it.
15. Serve your family as unto the Lord. Even if it means riding a pink little girl’s bike so that you an all go on a family bike ride together even when you are one bike short.
16. Play with your kids. Rough and tumble or tea party, whatever they like.
17. Be involved in your kids’ lives. Show up to their events. Cheer them on.
18. Kids don’t raise themselves; they need parents, not parents who act like friends.
19. Realize when it’s time to release your kids into more independence.
20. Teach your children right from wrong.
21. Pray. All. The. Time.
22. Practice gratitude, continually.
23. Work at improving in weaknesses; don’t just sit in your sin.
24. Loving what you do is a blessing.
25. Make sacrifices for those you love. Lay your life down for them as Christ did for the church.
26. Pray for and with your children.
27. Pray for and with your spouse.
28. Say “I love you” often.
29. Show affection.
30. It’s ok to have conflict in a relationship. Stick to your commitment and work through it.
31. Read the Bible daily.
32. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Daddy isn’t a great singer, but he always said that didn’t matter. The Bible didn’t ask for great singers to worship; it says, “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”
33. You never know when or how you’re going to touch someone’s life, so be available.
34. Sometimes all we do is plant a seed in someone’s life. Way down the road, God may do something miraculous with that seed.
35. Always be truthful.
36. Love and serve your spouse faithfully. Make sacrifices for your spouse.
37. Cardigan sweaters are THE way to go!
38. No matter what is going on in life, remember, you are on your way to heaven, so it’s ok.
39. Spending time together as a family is important.
40. Laughter. It’s good stuff.
41. Enjoy your kids; they grow up really fast.
42. Math jokes “always add up.”
43. 6 is afraid of 7, because 7 “eight” 9.
44. Everyone has a dessert pocket.
45. You are Christ’s ambassador.
46. Lean on your friends during difficult times, and allow them to lean on you during their own trials.
47. Love and enjoy God’s beautiful creation.
48. Stuff is just stuff; don’t make it too important — “you can’t take it with you!”
49. Every single person was uniquely created by God, and he loves and values them all.
50. Find what you are passionate about and spend your life doing it.
51. Honor and respect your elders and authority figures.
52. You get what you pay for, so save up for quality when you’re purchasing something important.
53. Find businesses that you can trust and give them your business loyally.
54. Don’t just get your hair cut, get them all cut!
55. Medicine is another name for ice cream.
56. Peanut butter is the best food on the earth.
57. How to be a teacher. This is the most oversimplified statement I have ever written. Teaching has been his life, and now it is also mine.
58. How to write incredibly quickly on a blackboard so that your students are scrambling to copy it down before you erase it with your free hand 🙂
59. A love for puzzles — his are numbers, mine are words.
60. “Multiply by the power, decrease the power by one.”
61. Make sure you do maintenance on your car because it’s cheaper than fixing it after it breaks.
62. Take good care of your teeth — you only get one set.
63. Take care of your body. You only get one.
64. Attitude is a choice.
65. Camping can be fun, but be sure to bungee your cooler shut or a coon might make off with your roast in the night.
66. When camping, changing clothes is not necessary.
67. Never go to Camp Run-Amuck.
68. Always go to Colonel Mustard’s Custard.
69. Have as many meals together as a family as you possibly can.
70. Be punctual.
71. Open your home to others — “wear out your furniture for the Lord.”
72. “Can” is about ability, while “may” is about permission. Don’t misuse them.
73. Puns are the best kinds of jokes. Use them frequently.
74. When something is lost, ask God to help you find it, because he knows exactly where it is.
75. Age is just a number. It doesn’t mean you have to grow up.
76. You don’t need to be someone’s parent biologically to speak into their lives or to be a parent figure to them.
77. A smile, a hug, or a kind word can bless someone more than you know.
78. We are blessed with each new day that the Lord gives us to serve him.
79. We should give ourselves to the Lord daily and look for what he is doing in our lives.
80. People and God are the only things that really matter here on this earth, so spend your life loving and serving God and his people.
I love you, Daddy. Thanks for teaching me. Happy Birthday!