Dear Dad,

#Coach

“Run faster! She’s right behind you!” I can still hear your hoarse voice piercing my consciousness as I round the final lap of my 3200 meter race. Tears and sweat blurred my vision. My legs screamed almost as loudly as you. But there you were—believing that I could beat the girl just over my shoulder. You’d offer a hug and a Gatorade regardless of what medal I received, or if I medaled at all. But you believed I was capable. You drove me to excellence. Your fierce and stable support has carried me through much longer, more arduous races. When I was a kid, you pointed me towards writing and art contests and poured over college literature with me. More recently, you’ve nudged and prayed me towards the next good thing. I never would have worked on Capitol Hill, made that spontaneous trip to England, or launched into my counseling degree if you hadn’t been my coach and advocate.

#Patriot

You started wearing tri-corned hats well before they were “cool”—or at least well before the tea party brought them into the public eye as an icon for conservative principles. I seem to recall a particularly awesome photo of you balancing a long wooden pike as you volunteered for the Jamestown militia. I was both mortified and awed by your reenactment, as only an insecure grade-schooler can be. But your love of American history and respect for public service has steered me towards many brown National Park Service historical markers and many difficult policy debates. You taught me how to vote, to write letters to my Congressman, and especially to how pray for wise and godly leaders. Your love and concern for this great country still inspires my work today.

#Provider

You and mom always put bread on the table—and not just any bread but the homemade, sprouted, make-you-a-healthier-person kind of bread. I loved my childhood—having a full house, cheap vacations, and living in a busy metropolitan area. But, looking back with adult intelligence, I am humbled by the long moments when you lost sleep, worked that extra job at ShopRite, and made other unannounced but painful sacrifices to keep our family afloat. I admire your discretion about workplace, family, financial or church stresses—the way you protected me but helped me grow into a wiser, more adept adult decision maker. Your humility and gentleness is precious to me.

So… happy Father’s Day to a very special coach, patriot, and provider! You are very dear to me.

Always,

Your little girl