Do you remember the day this picture was taken? I must have been about two years old. I’m not sure why mommy dressed me up like Big Bird for church, but I do know that I’m exactly where I always loved being as a child – in your arms and by your side.
One of my earliest memories is of me running down the hallway to the garage door at the very hour I knew you had to leave for work. I would spread my feet out and stretch my arms side-to-side, attempting to block the entire hallway as a little three-year-old kid. I would yell, “Don’t go! Don’t go!” And then we would laugh like crazy because of what that sounded like in Korean ;). You would always sweep me up in a hug and tell me that you would be home as soon as possible because you loved your favorite (and only) daughter.
I still remember the day I got “big girl” disciplined in the sixth grade for snoozing too much and missing the bus to school (after the 58th warning). I had to walk the 15 minutes to school on my own, even though I would be late, to teach me a lesson on responsibility and facing the consequences of my actions (you took those James Dobson books on parenting seriously, dad).
And then, there was that moment, a few seconds before I finally reached the school entrance. I turned around…and there you were, riding your bike about 100 feet behind me. I had been mad at you the whole time I was walking, thinking that you didn’t love me because you made me walk all alone on a cold, Arizonan morning. But in that instant, you proved me wrong. You showed me what true love really looked like.
That love was definitely tested during those teenage years. I remember talking back…a lot. And never coming home for curfew. And even though neither of us were perfect, those early years of love, mercy, and discipline kept both of us steady to weather that season of life.
As you taught me how to drive, helped me move into my dorm room, coached me through filing my own taxes, gave me your advice when I started dating the man I would marry, I always remember facing those kind of scary “grown up” moments with the confidence that it would alright. After all, you would be on your bike, about 100 feet behind me.
It was only a few months ago that I really put together the true benefits I have gleaned from calling you my dad. I got the package in the mail, the one you sent me, with the album of pictures from when I was young. I flipped through them, laughing at all the silly things Ben and I did as kids. But then I turned to the last page and saw that you had taped these to the back cover…
You kept a letter I wrote to you and “momy” when I was 6 years old and an “assignment” from my preschool years. It wasn’t until I looked closer that I remembered I used to write all of my three’s backwards.
I remember being frustrated as a little girl, annoyed that I kept getting my three’s wrong. But that’s not what you felt. It was precious to you, so much so that you drew an arrow next to it, taped it on an album, and kept it for the last 20+ years.
Dad, you had no idea back in May of 1994 how that piece of paper would minister to my heart in May of 2015. Because it was in that moment that I realized I had one of the most precious gifts of all – an earthly father who so clearly reflected my Heavenly Father.
He loves me in my many moments of imperfection and He enjoys me in the process of the journey (not just when I’ve reached the destination). Although that’s been the truth all along, I realized this all first when I saw it lived out by you.
So daddy, thank you. I am the woman I am today because of your godly leadership over our family. Every prayer you prayed over Ben and me before we went to school, every morning you made us sit down and read at least a couple chapters in the Bible before we started our day, every time you lectured us and told us that our lives were accountable to God before anybody else…it was all worth it, daddy. It worked because you trusted in His grace more than in your own strength.
So even though we’re all grown up and there is now another man who is the head of my household, I’ll always be your favorite, little girl. Well, that may be until whenever the time comes that we give you a granddaughter…she may trump me as your favorite, little girl ;).
I love you daddy…today and always.
your favorite daughter