In honor of Furman’s last football game of the season today,a well deserved break for my father, and a little girl that will miss hearing him share his heart on Thanksgiving this week, here’s to you Daddy!

A while back my phone rang with this picture message from my Aunt Lindy:

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Talk about blast from the past! Oh my word that was close to 20 years ago! Funny thing, though, the familiar feelings that still thrive in my heart with those memories. Memories of Saturdays filled with football. With the smell of grass, the sound of cheers, and Mama's purple snack bag. But most of all, I remember the feeling of searching for my dad when the last whistle blew and knowing that I would be greeted with an embrace, a kiss, and a smile. Win or lose. I know this feeling well…the one that tells me everything is just fine. I still feel it when I hang up the phone with my daddy. He has a way of making people feel that way. The inner smile I find from soaking in this photo runs deep and wide.

“Enjoy your life.”

“Improve somebody’s space today.”

“ Do your best and do what’s right.”

“Your daddy loves you.”

Ask either of my brothers (and probably a number of his players) and they know that those are words from the mouth of my father. Words that he not only speaks, but lives out consistently. Words that aren’t commands or laws, but that are demonstrated before us in such a way that we can’t help but desire them for our own lives.

Perspective. Does my dad ever have it!! He so beautifully maintains an ability to look at any situation and pursue clarity with a sound mind and a Jesus-honoring heart.

He never failed to be a dad at home, when so often the movies tell us that coaches must be coaches 24/7. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that he is often a dad more than he is a coach. A dad to me and Caleb and Jordan in the c.o.u.n.t.l.e.s.s. hours that we spent on the sidelines of the practice field, while he was busy trying to find a way to win games. Yet we were never pushed to the side. We were invited into his world. Taught hard work. Given worth when his players bothered to pass us a ball. Shown sportsmanship as he treated his players not as merely tools to win games but as men to be grown. We grew up knowing that the Bible he gives each senior when they graduate is not a random gift to look spiritual, but a playbook that he spent 4 years pouring into each young man. We grew up hearing stories of guys that made mistakes that go far beyond the football field, and tears of healing that were shed in his office over prayer, life’s hard truths, and unconditional love. My mom still shares letters with us that players send my dad, recognizing him as a father, a leader, and a man to be emulated. How honored I am to call him mine.

My sweet Daddy is so much more than a football coach. Don’t get me wrong…he is a heck of a coach and far from a softy. He can compete with the best of them and will still kick my butt on the basketball court! But truly, he is a minister. A minister of truth, of grace, of perspective. He knows what is important and he communicates it with such poise and dignity. For years each one of us kids were reminded, “[football, basketball, etc.] is what you do, it’s not who you are.” Talk about truth to be reckoned with! Who we are is so much greater than those things! Who we are can permeate all those things we do. Never forget this. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works…” (Eph. 2:10). Oh how we each remember that and hold on to it daily. Who am I? Am I enjoying my life in recognition of a joyful salvation we’ve received? Am I doing what I can to improve someone’s space and live outside of myself? Am I doing my best? Doing what’s right?

Because of the way my earthly father reminded me of his love despite my performance, I more fully understand the love of a heavenly Father that endures throughout time and moves and changes and mistakes.

Today I am thankful for my Daddy. I am thankful for his time. I am thankful for his Scripture-led wisdom that makes no apologies. I am thankful for the prayers he always remembers to lift up, whether hunting in the woods, driving down the road, or over a family meal. I am thankful for his realistic optimism. I am thankful that he doesn’t talk at you but listens to you. I am thankful for his hard work and 100% effort, yet a detachment from obsession. I’m thankful for his selflessness, his concern, his encouragement, his willingness to speak truth, and his love. I am thankful that he remembers the things that make life worth enjoying, even when Furman has 20 guys hurt and is bringing in a losing season. Today I am thankful for perspective.

Your little girl loves you, Daddy. More and more every day.

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