I was the fifth child of seven born to my parents. I was the fourth of six girls. Here’s where most people say, “Your poor father!”
My parents had a significant age gap between them; my dad was fifty-years-old when I was born. By the time I was two months old, my brother died from medical complications from a condition he was born with. He was ten.
Before my fifth birthday, my family moved from the suburbs to a large farm in southwest Ohio. My parents loved the country and the spacious property gave our large family room to grow and play. By my sixth birthday, my dad suffered a massive stroke which left him paralyzed on his right side. All his dreams for that property died. Even at six, I knew my life would be different.
I was a daddy’s girl. He held me on his lap when the doctor gave my vaccines with a gun-like device that left a scar the size of a dime on your upper arm. (I think that’s why we called them “shots.”). My father taught me to ride my bike on the sidewalks of our suburban home and brought us donuts he made before leaving work as an executive chef.
Everything seemed to have changed. His personality and his body were different—broken.
The farmer, my parents bought our home from bought it back and let us live in the house for $100 a month until my parents got back on their feet. We lived there until I was twenty-one. I hated leaving that place when the next landlord gave our home to his newly married son.
My mom and the six of us girls did everything. We did the housework and the yard work. My dad sat on the porch watching us cut the grass with a push mower fearing we would get hurt. When we complained about cutting the grass or working in the garden, he would just say, “I know, I wish I could do it.” I now understand as an adult how much it hurt him to have to watch his daughters do “his” work.
He struggled with depression and feelings of uselessness.
I am unaware of my dad’s spiritual life before his stroke, but I know after his stroke his life changed spiritually.
He prayed constantly; not for himself, but for his family. My dad prayed for strength and comfort for my mom, who had to work long and hard hours to support the family. He prayed for each of us girls to know God as he did. Our salvation was the most important thing to him. Dad read the Bible to us every day at dinner and prayed over us before bed as we knelt by his chair so he could put his hand on our heads.
In Hebrews 11, the author shares the faith of many Old Testament saints. These men were righteous in God’s sight because of their faith and obedience in times of trials and persecution.
Hebrews 11:13 (ESV) says, “These all died in faith, not receiving the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” Hebrews 11:38 says of these men,”…of whom the world was not worthy.”
They lived and died for their God.
The verse that overwhelmed me was Hebrews 11:16b, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God…” This verse is not in past-tense. It is in the present tense. Why? Because God was not ashamed back then and He is still unashamed to be their God now.
No matter how we see ourselves, or how useless we may feel in our jobs or as a stay-at-home mom or how many times we have messed up and felt as though we have let God and others down; if you belong to Him, He is not ashamed to be called your God. He has a better place prepared for you.
My dad felt useless in his body, but in his spirit, he was full of the life that comes from the Son of God. We may never know on this side of Heaven the impact we have on others. But, God does.
My dad did not realize the influence he had on his six girls. Even from his wheelchair, he spoke life over us and planted seeds for an eternal purpose.
If you do not have someone like this in your family, then be that person to someone else. Your eternal reward is priceless.
My dad died one month after I married twenty-seven years ago. I am thankful God allowed him to “walk” me down the aisle. He was a good man and a great father. I thank God he is whole again.
What’s your story? I would love to hear about it.