Today is my dad’s birthday. He’s a pretty great dad and I’m awfully fond of him. I’ve been trying to think of a single story I could tell here that would sum up my dad for you, and it’s really hard. There are so many good memories, and he’s so multi-faceted.
I think it’s a temptation, when one first meets my Dad, to pigeon hole him in the “bearded lumber jack” category and think of him in only those terms. Indeed, he worked in the forest industry the vast majority of his working life, and all of my life. He can wield a chainsaw or a skidder with the best of them, and if you really want to see his eyes light up, ask him about trees.
That is a big part of who my dad is, but it’s not the whole story.
My dad carves beautiful and functional wood creations, including the salad serving set I use at least four times in a week. He takes beautiful photography – especially black and white because he has an amazing eye for textures. He reads poetry, can recite lines from MacBeth from memory and cooks fantastic breakfasts! My dad designed and built the house in which I grew up (which is on the market, by the way. Just in case you want a William G. Bristow original to add to your real estate portfolio.). He is a student of the word of God, and of theology.
They say that women marry little bits of their fathers, and if you’ve ever seen my dad and my husband talk about their respective artistic endeavors, a home improvement project, or some aspect of practical theology, you can see that I did. Both men have artistic temperaments, which means they are given to extremes in their reactions, but both Jonathan and Dad are ready with a smile, a joke and a mischievous twinkle of the eye. While we were waiting for the hospital to discharge me and the cheesedoodle, Jonathan pointed out the over sized door in the hospital room and commented that if all doors were that size, no one would have trouble moving furniture in and out of houses. For the next thirty minutes Jonathan and Dad examined the door and discussed the pros and cons of having such a large door in a house. And they were both genuinely interested in the discussion.
Here’s one of my favorite Dad stories:
Before I can remember, my parents were members of a very liberal church. The pastor was an unstable alcoholic who preached such shallow messages as when people smiled it was evidence of God in them. There was another man in the congregation who was also given to drinking to excess, and I suspect neglecting his family, but I don’t know the details. My Dad went over one day to speak to that man about his condition. He laid out the gospel as clearly as he knew how, and came home from that meeting completely discouraged. It had been like speaking to a brick wall.
Not long later, my family left that church and began attending the local Baptist church, and the other family left town. Years later, when I was nine or ten, my mother ordered a magazine for me and my sister. The wife of that man my father had visited was working for the subscription department of that magazine and sent my parents a personal letter. She had been abandoned by her first husband, but was now a believer, married to a believer, and she wrote in that letter that the entire time my dad was sharing the gospel, she was sitting in the kitchen, listening to every word. As my dad shared, the Lord was planting the seeds of repentance in her heart. She is still in contact with my parents, and continues to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. She said she had never heard a man speak so passionately and openly about the things of God until that day my dad sat and spoke to the man who was making her life so difficult.
SO happy birthday Dad. I love you and treasure you. And I’m not at all jealous that you get to spend this birthday with my sister.