yawn. I am exhausted this morning. Last evening was our Christmas party for our wonderful youth leaders. We had fun, and I especially enjoyed the visit from Santa Claus. I asked my dad if he would dress up as Santa and come and pass out our gifts to our leaders. He graciously agreed, and even though the weather was terrible, he followed through on his promise.
I have the utmost of love and the highest level of respect for both of my parents. My dad is the hardest working man I know. For the past 30 years he has labored in a physical field and he even battled carpel tunnel, yet rarely missed a day. His work ethic is inspiring, and I know he does what he does because he loves his family. I know that work exhausted him, but that didn't stop him from being at my track meets to cheer me on, or coaching us in softball, or driving us to and from college a million times. My dad's heart is bigger than life, and giving is part of his internal nature. I am blessed to have a dad who has given me such a proper and healthy perspective of who my Heavenly Father is. He gives me advice from which mortgage to get, to how to clean my carpets, to how to handle ministry situations. My dad was the spiritual head of our home, and loved us unconditionally. He was not afraid to correct, but was quick to show mercy. The greatest gift he has given to me and my siblings is that he has a heart that his devoted to Jesus. I used to love to sit in church and glance over at my dad during worship. I have yet to see such a sincere worshipper. He lives his life centered around Jesus and His Word, and has cultivated a love for God and His ministry in the hearts of all four of his children.
My mom is probably among the greatest factors of my salvation experience. When I was going through a stage of rebellion in High School, she literally prayed me out of bondage. I came home from school on one occasion to find her in my room, pacing back and forth, and pleading to God for my soul. I woke up one evening to see her sitting at the foot of my bed crying out to God to convict me and convince me of His love for me. When I came to her at 15 and told her God had called me to go to a Russian Orphanage for a summer, she didn't flip out like most parents would. She supported me and helped me raise the finances to get there. Then, at 19 when I told her I was going to intern in the inner city of Chicago at a church in the projects, she supported me again (she did ask me not to tell my grandparents!) . There were times when I questioned the purpose God had for my life, and I was uncertain about being called to full time ministry. My mom would talk me through the doubt, and would share about how when I was born, God had told her I was going to be like Samuel, working in the house of the Lord. My mom is an incredibly intellectual individual, who could have had a lucrative career in various areas, yet she sacrificed that all to stay at home and be a mom to her four children. She has set the bar high as a caregiver, nurturer, and spiritual cheerleader, but I will try to exemplify to the boys the influence that she was in my life.
My parents didn't have millions, but they gave us more than money could buy. They provided a safe, loving, and not to mention fun, enviornment for us to grow up in. They loved God, the loved each other, and they loved us. I've said before that aside from the gift of salvation, I consider my parents and family to be one of God's greatest blessings on my life. For that, I am thankful.