Father’s Day thoughts while jogging through a cemetery

by Heather Spring

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Just another day, jogging through a graveyard. Have you done it? I would highly recommend it. Bucket list, people!

Dallas and I don’t always run together. If you’ve seen my husband you could probably gather why: he’s TALL. For his one stride, I gotta do two.

Well, Daddy Loooong Legs and I decided to take a trot together while spending some time in his hometown. There’s nothing like learning a little more about the one you love.

“Up this way my grandpa used to bring us to this creek to hunt crawdads.”

“Really?” huff… puff… “That’s sweet.”

“That house right there,” pointing to his left, “I was babysat there.

I responded with a simple smile. (He understood… we were running uphill.)

“I mowed that lawn. And that one…” “And there used to be an old rickety bridge over there…” “There was this time my friends and I made a scavenger hunt and hid a clue over in that barn…”

On and on, I learned a little more about my husband. I enjoyed the glimpses of the little boy who once was. A graveyard hung to our right. “When we circle around we could go through the graveyard,” He said.

“You want to run through,” putt, putt, “…the cemetery? That seems…” pant, “…a bit strange,” huff, “…to run by dead people? Kinda feels like we’re bragging.”

“I think it’s fine,” he says with complete ease, “I’ll show you where my grandparents’ are buried.”

That changed everything. “I’d like that. Tell me more about them.” I finally said without any strain because… AHHHH… we were headed downhill!

“My grandpa was the quiet type. My grandma was a lot like your grandma…” He continued sharing details about each one. I enjoyed picturing them in their prime.

We made our way through the cemetery. Rows and rows of tombstones–each representing a life. A life that at one time could have been doing exactly what we were doing that afternoon. Feeling the warmth of the sun’s heat, oxygen racing in and out of our lungs, with the wind pressing lightly on our backs and the ground pounding underfoot with every step.

We weren’t far removed from Memorial Day so flowers were prevalent and gravestones looked a little less dusty. (Of course, I figured out how to run AND take a picture. Maybe I’ll blame that on my speed.) I saw the name before Dallas had a chance to point it out: GILION.

We paused and stood there for a few moments as we talked about this couple. I unfortunately did not have the pleasure of meeting them on this earth. But I’m thankful for and feel connected to them, just the same. I look forward to the day I can say, “Thank you.” You see, I know and love their son, Earnie. He’s my Daddy Long Legs’ Daddy. Earnie is such a good one at that. A good husband. A good friend. A good father-in-law. A good Papa. So, let me rephrase… He’s a GREAT man. I’m constantly thankful for the heritage that Dallas and I experienced as children. Our parents weren’t and aren’t perfect, but they love(d) their God! And this heritage of faith has shaped each of us as we now, in commitment, have come together, striving to pour into our boys the truth of the gospel and how it brings freedom, hope, and a chance to experience real love.

You know, sometimes we are born into great families and sometimes we’re not. It is what it is. There’s nothing one does or doesn’t do to deserve this. The sovereignty of God is such a mystery. But even though I was welcomed into such a great heritage, (a foundation with Christ-our Rock underfoot), I still had to accept HIS invitation and take ownership of His inheritance and continue to build on this Rock. Would I squander this gift or continue to build? I had examples all before me, but I still had a choice to pick up the hammer. And yet, there are so many others, that would say they were born into a family who’s dysfunction and cycles look more like a house that is on the brink of collapse. And to you I say… the building can BEGIN with you! He gives grace upon grace to enable you to begin building. With God, you will raise new walls that break old cycles of pain and selfishness. This can only be accomplished through the power of God, but with Him all things are possible. ALL THINGS! My dad was a first generation builder! May your voice begin the echo which will be heard for generations and generations.

…showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:6)

So, I guess as we approach Father’s Day, I share all this with you for a couple of reasons. First of all, maybe some of you need a little perspective. Maybe you need to take a stroll through a graveyard. What house are you building? What stands as your foundation? Maybe strolling through a cemetery will resurrect something in you.

I also write this for those that have had to say good-bye to their earthly daddies. We’re in the same club, you and I. Here’s a little hand-squeeze from me to you. {squeeze} I feel your pain, because that ache rises up within me as I think about my daddy. But in all of my remembrances of his life, what motivates me the most is what I believe he would say to me now. “Go! Build! Love your God, Heather! Love Him with all your heart, and soul, and mind!” In honor of my father and the fathers in my life that love God well, I build, praying for this generation to the next to heed the call to follow hard after a God that is our Ultimate Daddy… a Father to the fatherless.

And who knows, maybe some day my grandson’s wife will stand at my grave asking, “Tell me about Dallas and Heather. What were they like?” I want the response to be, “Heather might’ve been a little loopy, but she and Dallas strived to love their God with all their heart, mind, and soul. You could really see Him in both of them.”

Happy Father’s Day! Celebrate the Daddy’s in your life and your ULTIMATE DADDY!

… choose this day whom YOU will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!” (Joshua 24:15)

I wrote a special post a couple of years ago about ALL the dads in my life. If you want to read my tribute go here!

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