I would like to say I chose an amazing man to be a father to my children, but I would be lying. Instead, my five children chose an amazing man. They conspired with his sister, their baby sitter, and brought my husband, the man they call "Dad" home. Dad's absolute unconditional love and quick smile made him a kid magnet, his sense of humor made him a keeper.
What kind of 28-year-old volunteers to adopt the five children of a single mother? (Then adds one more to the brood.) He will tell you, a crazy man. We will tell you a wise man.
Here are the top five things we've learned from Dad
1. You can accomplish anything as a family in partnership with God
We have never heard Dad utter these four words, "It can't be done." When one of the kids was critically ill, and he was working full time and in school, he still found time to be at her bedside. He has worked as many as three jobs and still found time for every football game. So far, he has yet to fail. When he can't do it alone, there is always a miracle around the corner. When you need help, the first person you should call is God. Rely on him in faith and there is nothing you can't do.
2. God loves our children more than we do
Dad says, "When we watch our children go through trials, when we watch our children being ridiculed by peers, when we see them suffer, we get just a tiny taste of what our Father in Heaven felt watching the Savior suffer." Families go through hard times - and so did we. When things got difficult, Dad seemed to rally, work harder, love more and shine brighter. Dad taught us that when times get tough, you get tougher. And the toughest of men hit their knees and talk to God when they need help. This lesson applies to all of us. What is your reaction when times get hard? When the work is hard, work harder.
3. When there is nothing left to do - laugh
Even when it's inappropriate, Dad can't help but laugh. Once when we were in need of several thousand dollars for medical bills the family said a prayer. Shortly afterward, on a drive into Salt Lake City, we were caught in a freak storm, a wind shear of immense proportions. A black cloud enveloped our VW bus and sand blasted all the paint off the front. After we passed out of the cloud we surveyed the damage. Dad, who was painting cars for a living at the time, laughed loudly while we were still shook up. He said, "Here is our check. A few hundred dollars in paint and I can keep the money for the labor. Blessings come in strange ways!"
Dad says, "If it is not fun, you make it fun. If you can't make it fun, you make fun of it." He believes God made the platypus out of spare parts. He is always good for a funny story. We can all learn to laugh a little better, when orange juice is spilled on the floor and cheerios ground into the carpet by a batman costumed toddler, smile and move on. Find joy in every moment, don't dwell on the bad.
4. Everyone has a story and deserves to be loved
It has been said of Dad that he could go to the store for toilet paper and come home two hours later with a new friend. He has a talent for conversation. Watching him love everyone around him, regardless of their circumstances, helped us to understand everyone has a story. Everyone has a need.
He never passes anyone in need, or with a sign asking for help, without giving them a dollar or two if he has it. He says that what they do with the money isn't as important as his love for them and following the Savior's example of charity. If we listen to what others are really saying, we can find out what their need is and help fill it. The woman across the street who rarely comes outside, the man at work who seems depressed, everyone has a need. God put us here to help each other.
5. How a woman should be loved
The most important thing Dad taught us, is how to be loved. The way he treated the women in his life set a standard high. Once a week was date night, and it was sacred. When he planned an anniversary or gift, he involved all the children in the excitement. When it came time to date, his daughters knew how they wanted to be treated. Because of Dad's examples his married daughters found men who treated them with the same respect and love he gave his wife. What example are you giving your daughters? What are you teaching your sons? We have all heard that actions speak louder than words, what do your actions say? Now is the time to make a change, it's never too late.
What lessons did you learn from your father? Did you learn to laugh when it was hard, or help when the need wasn't expressed? Let your father know you love him and all that he taught you, embrace his lessons and pass them off to your own children.