A home where there is always more than enough food in the cupboards, a back yard with a playhouse (that has roof access!), plenty of clothes and books, Christmas after Christmas with a literal avalanche of gifts under the tree, ballet, gymnastics, and theater classes, vacations either up north, across the country, or to Disney World almost every year, a homeschool education, a sister and two brothers that all LOVE spending time together--my childhood was beyond blessed.
But you know what I'm most thankful for from my childhood? My papa and mama love Jesus, and they loved me fueled by the love of Father God. They were always--ALWAYS--ready to listen to anything I wanted or needed to say. When I was little, that pretty much meant more than their fair share of my non-stop chatter. (What can I say? I like to communicate!) As I got older, that meant a safe place to work through my teenage years. And that hasn't stopped today--I know they will drop everything if I need to talk.
My mom is so loving, and always roots for the underdog--turns out I'm the same way. No matter what, she finds the good, looks for the reason why, and truly lives out 1 Corinthians 13: she aims to believe the best of others, situations, and intentions. I'm so thankful to have inherited that trait.
My dad is living proof of James 1:5--I know he asked God for wisdom, and God gave him probably just about a teaspoon less than He gave Solomon. I love that it's not "lofty" wisdom either. It's practical, real, and manifests in any problem, from technology to theology, recreation to relationships--my dad has an answer. And it's pretty much always the right one. I love that we often approach things the same way, and see solutions in the same light--I hope someday I'll have as much practical wisdom as he does.
Mama and Papa, I love that you keep growing. I love that your marriage is real--that you use your testimony of a rocky season, and coming out so triumphant, to encourage others to never give up. You're inspiring. You see that God has big things to do, and you're finding ways to get it done--you're planting another whole church, and that isn't where the vision ends. I'm so honored to get to partner with you as you spread the good news of Jesus Christ. And yet, you make it evident that God is first, marriage is second, family is third, resting is critical, and then everything else will fall into place.
You've taught me that I must work hard, but that I also must rest and play hard. You've lived a life that has proven that honesty and openness are our biggest defense against the enemy. You've shown how to create a church culture, and a home life, where unity thrives, gossip withers away, and the Holy Spirit is so welcome.
Happy birthday, Papa and Mama. I love you and I'm honored to be your daughter. Thank you.