March 11, 1944--September 20, 2015
My dad was a super hero. I grew up believing there was nothing my dad couldn’t do. I was always safe when he was around. He had big broad shoulders, a soothing deep voice and nothing ever seemed to alarm him. And I had other proof. In the snowstorm of 1975 he was part of a brave group of men who escorted a doctor on snowmobiles to a woman’s home who was giving birth. Her house was miles from town and their chances of making it were not good. It was a harrowing night. They couldn’t see a thing and their snowmobiles nearly failed them as they battled the ice, snow and 90 mph winds. The next morning the snowdrifts were up to our roof, but my dad and the other men had defied the odds and were holding a healthy newborn.
There was the time he raced a tornado home in his Chevy El Camino. And the utter lack of fear when he would stand outside, surveying the greenish-black sky during a tornado warning while the rest of us huddled in the basement.
He filled the hearts of my possible male suitors with fear. One young man was foolish enough to pull into our driveway to pick me up for a date and honk his horn signaling me to come out. My dad was not having that. No boy who wouldn’t treat his daughter better than that would have the opportunity to take her out. My dad waited this guy out so he could look him in the eye. Needless to say we never went out again.
My super hero dad also dressed the part. For living in a small town in the Midwest my dad dressed more like a city dweller. And I’m pretty sure none of my friend’s dads blow dried their hair or used multiple hair products to create such stylish locks.
As I grew into a teenager, I discovered that even super heros aren’t invincible. His cancer when I was 16 was the first time I’d seen my dad that physically weak, and yet, he was gracious, kind and positive. I began to see that he didn’t need super strength to be an exceptional human being.
But as an adult, rather than losing my childlike awe, I realized my dad did have a super power. But it wasn’t in his physical strength. It was his ability to make everyone he met feel like they were valued and valuable. Even his lack of complaining, I believe, was primarily due to his love of others. He desired to love others well and for everyone to feel comfortable around him.
I think that was the most amazing thing to me. It was easy to see how much other people enjoyed being with him. How even in his quietness he was a presence in any room. How kind he was to every person, no matter how unimportant they might seem to others. EVERYONE loved my dad.
And he loved me. If it's true that a child's view of God is shaped by their view of their dad, I was profoundly blessed.
His body let him down long before his strong spirit. And in the end, Jesus held out his hand and said, “Come on Jim, are you ready? Let’s fly away.” My dad replied with his usual smile, “I’m ready." And he was free.
My dad is a super hero.
I just returned from my first funeral in Santa Cruz. Amazing how much you can grow to admire a person in just a year. Jim went to be with Jesus after 85 years on this planet and the overwhelming consensus was that his was a life well-lived.
Reminded me of my maternal grandmother's life. I want to be sure her legacy continues so I thought I'd share my remarks from her funeral.
14 “For it is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
My maternal grandmother was not a five talent servant.
Limited financial resources.
Limited education or vocational skill.
No influence or power to speak of.
But a faithful servant makes it grow.
With her few financial resources she was frugal, creative and joy-filled.
Her skill was a heart for service that she invested in "the least of these"--the marginalized and overlooked. She became a professional caregiver.
Her only influence was with her children and she used it to introduce them to Jesus.
But in God's economy all it takes is one good investment. And this was a good one. My mother is one of those children. She has been given more talents than her mother, but she too invested wisely. Also introducing her children to Jesus. All of us (her children) have been entrusted with more--not because of anything we've done and largely because our grandmother was faithful with little.
My grandmother's life went unnoticed by most. But not by the One who mattered most--her Savior and the lover of her soul. I can hear her happy cry as Jesus smiles at her and says--
"Well done my good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness."
Kelli is a writer, speaker and consultant equipping leaders for a deepening intimacy with Christ, greater impact in ministry and more effective intentionality in all of life.
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