When I think of the influence my dad has had on my life, I keep coming back to how much I am like him, the ways in which our brains and hearts work similarly. Some of that may be explained by genetic contributions neither of us had much control over, but I believe that, perhaps because of our many similarities, my dad, more than anyone else, has taught me how to live as the person God made me to be - how to use my strengths, how to rely on God in my weaknesses.
He has shown me that it is okay to cry at the end of Hallmark commercials and in the middle of a small group meeting, that a soft and easily affected heart is a great gift to others - the suffering, the broken, even those for whom tears simply do not come easily.
He has modeled for me what it is like to think big thoughts about God's kingdom and dream big dreams about advancing the gospel, and he has also modeled how to walk in faith and obedience as a visionary who is sometimes misunderstood and often asked by God to wait on His timing and to trust Him when the gaps between vision and reality are overwhelming.
Even though he would never describe himself as "artsy," he has passed on to me his love of books and music and writing. It was his voice through which I first encountered the Adentures of Maxi and Mini, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Bible. It was he who encouraged me to write, who first made me feel like God had given me a gift in that area. And even though he can't carry a tune, he was the one who danced around the living room with me as a toddler, record player at full blast, and who, ignoring my teenage complaints about the country music he often played in the car, taught me to love the sound of a raw acoustic guitar and the rhythms of bluegrass.
Most important of all, he has both modeled and taught me to love Jesus above all else. Morning after morning, I came downstairs to find him already up and in his study, reading his Bible and spending time in prayer. I watched him at church, singing with passion and joy to a person He knew intimately. I listened as he talked to and around my brothers and I about how God influenced his thoughts, actions, and decisions. And time after time, when life has been hard, I have gone to him for counsel and received compassion, hope, and guidance from someone who knows what it means to wrestle with God in deep places and to be pulled up from the pit.
I am blessed to have a dad who knows God and knows me and who, in knowing me, helps me know God.