Most of my childhood was spent on a 180-acre farm on top of a hill in upstate New York. My two sisters, mom, dad and I were city people by day, but at night and on weekends we were horse farmers. It was, and still is, my father's obsessive love for the natural things of the world that led him to teach me many surprising things. With no sons, my dad made no gender distinction, and he taught me what hard work, perseverance, and grit look like, whether you’re a boy or girl.
Every Saturday I cleaned the horse stalls. Every summer I drove the tractor and mowed the fields. I know how to paint creosote on miles of fences, how to help twin goats to be born, and how to drive a snowmobile towing 10 kids on a toboggan. My father was quietly involved in all of these experiences, but usually he let me figure things out unless I needed him. Those times when I really needed him would be when carrying all the maple sap buckets from the woods to simmer on the stove, thus creating that golden syrup that surpasses any store-bought imitation. I needed him to block my Palomino from running directly into the stall as he would so often race to do so upon seeing the barn when we crested the hill from a long ride. In college, my father sent me $10.00 every single week with a note that said "Love, Dad". As much as I counted on that money, he knew I would have to work for more and was glad for it.
Now it is different. My elderly father doesn't even remember what the farm looked like. He doesn't recall the snow that he would pile high for us to make our "igloos" from. He doesn't remember the one time he cried when disciplining me because of his disappointment when I told a lie. It is a really hard transition. I find myself counting on my Heavenly Father more than ever as I navigate through this stage of life. I am very honored to have had a dad that helped me to develop a character that is formed in the midst of challenges. And mostly I am grateful for a Savior who teaches me that through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the gory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:2-5)