Letter from My Father

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I am going through old papers. You know, that box in the back of the closet with papers I have saved for years, but never look at?

Well, I am so thankful I did not give in to my first impulse and throw it all away. I have thrown away some, (why in the world did I save it in the first place?) but I found a treasure, something that really touched my heart.

A letter from my father.

Carol Strobeck and I were in Hawaii for Christmas break of our junior year of college. We had the wonderful opportunity to visit the family of a college friend, Pam Grindle, whose parents lived in Hawaii during the winter months. (their home was in Alaska)

My father wrote to me and it is such a snapshot of his personality – warm, funny, personal, and thoughtful. My father had spent time in Hawaii during WW II while training on his way to the Pacific theater. He eventually served on Guam, Okinawa, and other small islands in his role as a weather man for the Air Corps of the Army. He had such wonderful memories of Hawaii and he was so pleased that I had the opportunity to go there.

As I recall, my father only wrote to me twice, so I am thankful I saved this letter from 1972. (I was 20, 47 years ago!)

Here is part of what my father wrote –

I wonder if you felt like I did in the islands. I think I can describe. When I first experienced the beauty and the general atmosphere of the place I felt a gentleness and softness of the atmosphere that seemed very delicate and wonderful. I often think that the feeling of enjoyment I sensed when I first took in the beauty of the islands was just a slight introduction and foretaste of what God has been preparing for you and me and all of us in the form of Heaven for our eternal reward.”

It is not surprising to me or anyone who knew my father that the natural beauty of Hawaii stirred his heart. He devoted his life and career to studying and teaching the wonder of God’s creation.

My father lived with eternity on his mind. He went on to his eternal reward in 2016 at 91 years of age. Now he has more than the “foretaste” of Heaven, he is experiencing the reality.

But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”— I Corinthians 2:9

 

The greatest gifts my father gave me, besides his unconditional love, was his love for God and his contagious love of nature. I caught both extravagantly.

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My Father’s Daughter

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“I’ve walked with God my whole life, I’m ready to go be with Him.”

These were the words my father spoke when the oncologist asked Dad if he knew what he was facing.

Three days later, my father passed on into the presence of the Lord. It seemed to go so fast for us, his loved ones. Dad died on February 10th and at Christmas, just two months before, he had been his vigorous self. He was turning wooden bowls, playing ping-pong, checking his plants in the hallway sunroom.

He was 91.

Dad walked with God.

I miss him most when I walk around our yard now. His handiwork is everywhere. The calla lilies Dad planted are blooming in their pure white glory. The butterfly weeds he started from seeds have spread and are full of orange tipped butterflies, just like the blooms.

“Gayle, you have to come see this.”

“Dad, you’ve got to come see THIS!”

“We must go get your Mother.”

These were the conversations we would have beginning in spring and continuing until a hard frost. We would walk around the yard, weed, deadhead, and glory in the beauty and handiwork of God’s creation.

Dad and Mom would count the number of different kinds of flowers in bloom at one time. He so enjoyed the variety and unique qualities of the various species.

I miss Dad.

Yet, I am left with wonderful memories and so many beautiful plants.

My father also left me with His greatest influence on my life – his love for his Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Dad quietly, yet openly, lived as a Christian.

He loved God.

He loved his family.

He loved others.

He loved God’s creation and was a steward of all living things.

As I tend the flowers, I am reminded of the lessons Dad taught me about life –  botanic life, and more importantly, life everlasting.

I am my father’s daughter and I am so blessed that Dad led me to follow Jesus, just as he did.

May we leave this same legacy for our children and grandchildren.

We Are Suffering

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26 If one part [of the Body of Christ] suffers, every part suffers with it;”            I Cor. 12:2

Families are suffering in Charleston, South Carolina – they are our brothers and sisters in Christ – therefore we are suffering.

I couldn’t help think of the children of the pastor whose father is now no longer with them. It is Father’s Day, a tragic reminder of all they have lost. Others murdered were also fathers.

They were at church praying, just where many thousands of Christians throughout our country are on Wednesday night – praying. It hurt so much to think of this evil act being carried out in a place where God is worshipped and His love is shared.

I was reading yesterday in a journal my Grandmother Barker, my father’s mother kept. After a tragedy occurred during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, Grandma quoted him as asking that these verses be read to him.  II Corinthians 4: 6-9 (NKJV)

6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed;

   we are perplexed, but not in despair;  

persecuted, but not forsaken;

   struck down, but not destroyed;

I have heard many of the family members and friends of those murdered speak of forgiveness in this time of horrific pain and loss. What a testimony of God’s amazing grace!

As the Body of Christ we MUST step up our efforts to battle the forces of evil that foster hatred.

It starts in our homes as we express acceptance and love for all people, especially those who may be different from us. Hatred is a learned attitude. When our homes are places of love and acceptance – our children will learn to treat others with respect.

Sing this simple, yet profound chorus with your children and talk about what it means –

” Jesus loves the little children

ALL the children of the world

Red, brown, yellow, black, and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Hatred can not exist in our hearts if God’s love is present. Now is the time to plant those seeds of love and respect in the hearts of our children and grandchildren.

We must keep those suffering in Charleston in our prayers.

We are all suffering – but love wins in the end.

 

 

My Father’s Daughter

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I have only had one person ever tell me that I look like my father.

I asked them if they had ever met my mother and they said “no.”

Ever since I can remember I have been told – “You look just like Esther!” I never have minded that, primarily because I think that my mother is an attractive person. Having three daughters has caused the comparison of appearance to be passed down. I have written this before but I think it bears repeating – someone once asked my mother – after saying how much I looked like her – whether our daughter Abigail reminded my mother of me at that age. My mother quickly replied, “Oh, no. Abigail is much prettier than Gayle ever was.”

So, I don’t look like my father, but I have inherited or acquired several of his traits.

* we both love to teach
* we both love plants and love to care for them, new blooms excite us!
* we both enjoy eating watermelon – the sweeter the better
* we enjoy biographies and reading about people’s lives
* we love to hear a good sermon
* we both enjoy gospel music sung from the heart

I am my father’s daughter. His love of teaching as a calling and a profession has had a profound influence on who I am. My father’s father and grandfather each spent some time teaching, although each held other career positions as well. My father was always proud of what he did and when I entered high school, I realized that he was respected by faculty and students alike. I am so thankful that I attended the school where my father taught because it gave me an opportunity to see him through my peers’ eyes.

I think it is important for us as parents and grandparents to share about our work with our children. Our attitudes about our jobs will be picked up by children whether we intend to share them or not. They will start to develop attitudes about work and careers by the things they see us say and do.

My favorite chapter in the Bible, Romans 12 gives advice about work, among other things –

Romans 12:9-13 NLT

9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

I am so thankful to be my father’s daughter. He has given me a legacy of honoring God through the work I am called to do. What a blessing!

Genetic Implications #2

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Yesterday was Father’s Day and I am still blessed to have my father with us, in fact my parents live in our home. In thinking about the qualities that I most appreciate about my father, it is his faithful example of being a godly man that most stands out. He taught high school Biology for 40 years, 33 at Wheaton Central High School in Wheaton, Illinois, and after taking early retirement, he taught at a mission school in Taichung, Taiwan for 7 more years. He never lost his passion for teaching or his wonder at examining the uniqueness of God’s creation. My father was respected by his peers in education as well as his students. I know this because I attended the high school where my father taught. He has a natural ability to command respect in his quiet, but firm way.

When I was a high school senior we were setting up for an art show in the lobby of the school. In those days, there were windows facing the hallway from the biology lab. (What was the architect thinking?! My fellow artists and I delivered a load of pedestals for displaying the art work using a rollong cart. On the way back – of course I rode down the hall – laughing as my classmate pushed the cart.

As my father was teaching, he glanced up, saw his daughter riding down the hall on the cart, and without missing a beat said “I wonder what the genetic implications are?” I must have heard that phrase repeated a dozen times the rest of the day as fellow students reported what they had heard my father say.

My father’s conduct in and out of the classroom was consistent. His fellow teachers saw that he lived what he preached and I was the beneficiary of that reputation. The implications of the integrity of my father’s life continue to bless me to this day. I know that his godly example of unconditional love has help me accept my heavenly Father’s love.

We know there are no spiritual grandchildren, yet I have inherited a rich treasure of spiritual ‘genes’ from my father. How much more our Heavenly Father wants us to be blessed by the spiritual treasures of our life as His children. He has SO MUCH to give us, yet we must be willing to receive from Him. Look at what Scripture says –

1 John 3: 1,2

1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Thanks be to God for blessing me with my father, Clayton Barker.