Remembering My Papa

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Yesterday afternoon my family and I went to our community pool. The scene there was typical – little kids swimming around, teenage girls doing cheerleading stunts, teenage boys playing football and “accidentally” splashing the girls, and adults just relaxing and taking it all in.

As I was relaxing I was also throwing out encouraging comments to my kids. “Yes, that’s a great cannonball. Yes, that is the biggest splash ever. Yes, you could be an Olympian. Yes, your 4-year-old brother’s belly flop is hilarious.”

(My 4-year-old son discovered that doing a belly flop into the kiddie pool is unbelievably cool. The boy loves to make people laugh, so he repeatedly stood at the edge of the pool, arms spread out, and fell flat onto the water. On the way home he said, “Mama, I’m such a good belly flopper.” As you can see, we encourage excellence in our children.)

It was in the middle of this pool fun that we witnessed something awesome. One of the grandparents decided that it was time to get into the water. He took off his sunglasses and old man hat and stood at the edge. Then he jumped up, executed a perfect front flip, and landed in the deep end.

The children and teenagers were thrilled, and the adults were stunned.

When I grow up I want to be like that guy. Not only do I want to be physically capable of doing a front flip, but I also want to have the mindset that a 70-year-old doing a flip into the water is perfectly normal.

As I was thinking about this event, I couldn’t help but picture another old man who used to make me laugh.

My Papa was a big, strong, bear of a man. He was strict, firm, and willing to tell people the truth, even if they didn’t want to hear it. But he was also loving and kind. He was a pastor, and more than anything else he wanted his family and friends to know and love Jesus, and to live lives that honored Him.

He loved Cheez Its, ice cream, cookies, and Chickenfoot.

And he loved to make people laugh.

One of his favorite ways to do this was when he was driving. Whenever he would be on a stretch of road with nothing around, he would honk and wave to the scenery. As far back as I can remember, I would sit in the back seat and giggle as he honked and waved to cactus plants, redwood trees, and even the ocean.

He never said anything. Just a simple honk, wave, and then a mischievous little grin.

I could write forever about the things my Papa taught me, but I’ll narrow it down to five main lessons:

  1. Love Jesus with all that you are.
  2. Love your family enough to point them to the Savior.
  3. Read your Bible every day, even if it means waking up super early or staying up super late.
  4. Ice cream should always be served with cookies and a napkin.
  5. Road trips are better when you honk and wave.

My Papa took his walk with Jesus very seriously, and now he is literally walking with Jesus – a thought that fills my heart with joy. I am honored that he was my Papa, and I hope to carry out his legacy.

It is a legacy that reminds me, once again, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

See you tomorrow!

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