Dad -

When I was a child, you were my hero - I wanted to be JUST LIKE YOU! I remember having to write a school essay about "My Hero," and I wrote about you. Other kids had heroes who were cartoon action figures, sports stars, movie stars, etc. But not me - my hero was my Dad!

You were bigger than life to me. You were tall, handsome, dynamic and "fun!!" One of my favorite memories is when you would throw back your head and laugh about something. It brightened the world for me and everyone else around you. As an adult, I realize that I did Mom somewhat of a disservice in my hero-worship of you, as she's the one who made sure we were clothed, fed, well-groomed and had a stable home life. However, at this point, I'm thankful for the blend of the two of you in my formative years.

When I consider the person I am today, I realize how many areas of my life were influenced by you and wanted to share some of those with you.

First, you always told me there are two kinds of people in life; those who eat to live and those who live to eat. Like you, I definitely fall into that second category and I:

I'm also thankful that you passed on an important part of your temperament to me; your unending optimism. I definitely look at the glass (and the rest of the world) as half full - or more! I have a tendency to always expect "the best case scenario," and recover quickly when I discover that's not the case. I definitely don't have time or energy to "sweat the small stuff" or dwell on the negatives. I also give every person I come in contact with the benefit of the doubt and look for and expect the best of them. If they let me down, that's okay - they'll do better next time. Thanks for that, Dad! It definitely helps make life brighter and less stressful, and enables me to get along with a lot of different people, too.

You (along with Mom) also gifted me with a bright, intelligent mind and a thirst for knowledge, which you modeled for me throughout your life. That, along with God's multitude of blessings, has opened doors for me in the corporate world and helped me find an interesting, fulfilling, well-paying job, even without the benefit of an extended, formal education. You've also influenced me by your fascination with the English language, both written and verbal. One of my life's goals, that I've yet to attain, is to beat you AT LEAST ONCE in a one-on-one game of Scrabble!!

Last and most importantly, you've hugely influenced my love for Jesus and my strong, unending desire to live for Him and bring others into His kingdom - and to go to Heaven! You haven't just "preached" to me about God's word and His expectations of me, you've lived it before me consistently ALL MY LIFE. When I was a child and got sick, I just knew if you laid your big, warm hands on me and prayed for me, I would feel better. Even now as an adult (and a grandmother), I still want my Dad to pray for me when I'm sick.

Also, I love to hear you pray, Dad. Your fervency and directness, along with your boldness in praying out loud, in any setting, have greatly affected my own prayer life. Your zealousness in reaching out and bringing people to the Lord, and your strong desire to do His work have greatly impacted me, as well. Please be assured Dad, I will continue to strive to follow your example.

I have to admit, Dad, over the years, I've learned you're just human and have faults and failings, too - and I've transferred my hero-worship to Jesus (as it should be). However, you're still and always will be "bigger than life" to me and I will ever be thankful that you're my DAD!

Your first-born progeny,


My dad is my hero.

A hero is defined in the dictionary as a brave man, a man of courage, a fearless fighter, a great man, and a noble man - just to name a few. My dad is all that and more.

I remember as a child thinking that he was a character bigger than life. Dad was tall and strong and we would beg him to show us his magnificent muscles. He worked so hard to feed and clothe his large family. We didn't know we were poor when we were younger because we always felt the love and acceptance of our dad and we knew he would take care of us.

Dad was called to preach when we were young children and before we knew it, we were preacher's kids. Then the fun really began. My dad was and still is a stickler when it came to things of God. He thought right was right and wrong was wrong. That hasn't changed. My dad is one of the most dependable, stable, faithful Christians that I know. His example has been an overwhelming influence in my life and walk with God. I have emulated him in so many ways.

I will always appreciate his voice lifted up in prayer and his tenor voice reaching those impossibly high notes. Dad is not a polished person or a man of intrigue. What you see is what you get. He is the "real deal" through and through.

When I went through very difficult times in my life, my dad was solid and supportive. I know he was hurting right along with me because a good dad's greatest desire is to protect his child. Those big hugs, those big hands, and the even bigger heart - that's what my dad is made of.

My dad is my hero.

There's nothing like a dad - a good dad! A lot of people have dads who aren't so good. Not me. My dad is one of the good ones.

He's always been everything a dad should be: Tall, dark and handsome. Strong. Smart. Funny. A tiny bit scary at times (but not too scary). Loving. Hard working.

I've had three separate dads during my life - the dad of my childhood, the dad of my adult life, and the dad who's been there for me after my marriage ended.

My childhood dad was a giant - big and strong with rippling muscles in his arms that he'd flex for us sometimes if we begged and pleaded. He was handsome and very, very smart. You could ask him anything and he'd either know the answer immediately or send us to the Encyclopedia to find it. He was even a bit scary at times, but only when he told us the "dark-and-stormy-night" story about the little boy who wouldn't say his prayers. The dad I saw through the rose-colored glasses of my childhood was a superhero - a guy who could do absolutely anything!

My sisters and I all developed a healthy self image and I believe that was dad's "fault." We always knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he thought we were smart and funny and beautiful. He just assumed that we would do the right thing and the best schoolwork and that, when he'd get a report about us, it'd be a good report. He assumed we'd make good choices in dating, we'd work at the church, and we'd always give our best to God in our singing and teaching and praying and personal devotions. And, because we didn't want to disappoint him, we worked hard to do just that - and it was never necessary for him to have to create a bunch of rules for us. We just wanted to attain the level of his positive assumptions about us.

Even as my pastor, he was pretty awesome. Really, when I was a child, my dad could do no wrong.

The dad of my adulthood was a bit more challenging, I admit. I realized, as I grew up and looked at him with the self-assured (and arrogant) eyes of a young adult, that he wasn't really a superhero. I could see him a bit more clearly and saw evidence of his humanity and many times, I was sure I knew better than he did.

Still, he was the one I called when I needed to figure out the answer to a question. I called him for prayer and advice when one of the kids got sick. I called him when I needed to figure out how to put something together or how to fix something broken. I went to his house to play Scrabble and when I was hungry for some of his peach cobbler or barbecue - or when the cupboards in my own home were getting bare, and the paycheck was still a day or two away.

The dad of my adulthood was a constant - but I saw him in the background of my life since I was so busy with my own family.

And then, my husband was suddenly gone after we'd been married for 25 years, and once again, my dad moved into a place of intense importance in my life. Now, I look at dad through my very real bifocals as a human superhero - a combination of the one I saw as a child through the rose-covered glasses and the one I thought I was seeing clearly through the glasses-free eyes of adulthood. He's never wavered in his love for God, for mom, for his children or for his church. And, although he doesn't verbalize it as freely as some do, I've never, for even one moment in my life, doubted that love for me. Do you know how amazing that is?

Dad is funny. He's a writer (and I've edited a quite a few of his essays). He's an audience for my stories and always laughs when he's supposed to! He's very generous - in a non-splashy way. He's a bit horrified and scandalized by some things he doesn't understand - like eyebrow tweezing and the Sunday comics. He adores fruit - and fruit desserts. Let's face it - he likes to eat - even the lower fat version of food he's eaten since his heart-attack a few years back. He likes his daily exercise and his politics and his sunny mornings. There are a lot of things he likes but he taught us that you can only love people and God.

And above all else, I know my dad loves God. That knowledge has always been a cornerstone on the foundation of my life. If everything else in the world changed and fell apart - knowing that dad and his walk with God is a steady, every-single-day, never-a-question-if-it's-going-away-or-staying kind of faith, provides a stable foundation for me to build a really settled and safe life.

Dads and then later, husbands, provide an indefinable feeling of security surrounding their daughters and wives. She knows that there's a strong man standing in the gap between her and the scary things in the world around her. And, it's such an integral part of her psyche that she doesn't realize that it's there - until it no longer is. I'm so thankful that, even now, living alone, I know my dad and his prayers and his encouragement and his knowledge is a wall of defense between me and the world. No matter how old he gets, I know that a world with my dad in it is a safe world for me.

Integrity, sincerity, controversy, generosity, fervency, consistency-all of these character traits are channeled through my father's hands.

Nobody prays quite like dad. Whether he is on his knees or laying hands on people, whether raising an urgent need or a word of praise, dad approaches God with fervency and authority. When I was sick as a child, my dad would come and lay his huge hand on my forehead and in what seemed to me a booming voice, he would pray for God's healing - and I would rest secure in God's power to heal and in my dad's hands. As a young adult much later, I realized that in some ways my faith was connected to dad's hands because other prayers did not seem to create in me the warmth, comfort and security that I felt when dad laid his hand on my head - of course God still healed!

I learned the value of consistency and excellent work through my dad's hands. His hands provided food for our family or made the church a more pleasing place to worship. Sometimes his hands met the needs of someone who could not afford to pay. And even without compensation, dad's work was consistent and excellent. Being consistently excellent cannot be situational - it is a way of life.

Doing what's right and having done all, continuing to stand, are modeled by Dad regardless of the situation. His integrity is part of the fiber of who he is. He does not hold a grudge nor behave in a spiteful manner. He will shake the hand of someone who wishes him harm just as easily as the hand of a friend and do so with sincerity. I have observed him again and again giving to those in need - he may have borrowed the $20 from me to give it, but the generous spirit cannot be discounted nevertheless!

Dad loves controversy! But even in controversy his goal is to reach a hand across a chasm to someone with whom he would not otherwise have connection. There are those whose initial contact with dad was over some controversial issue and yet their lives have been changed because of that connection. What I have learned from the controversial nature of my father is that being me and not feeling as if I need to always conform to the crowd is not just okay - it is a great asset.

Oh, and did I say stubborn? I suppose my stubborn nature was modeled in dad as well. Sometimes it serves me well. More often it doesn't. But if he did not have some faults, dad might be confused as Reverend. And he would be the first to say that there is none Reverend but God!

My dad's hands have influenced my life in so many positive ways and as I live out loud wherever I am, the work of his hands continues through mine.

My dad, who was always heroic and larger than life to his kids, spanked me three times in my life. (Don't tell him I said so, but although I was devastated each time, it didn't hurt much). Most of the time, my mom was home while dad was away working, so he left the discipline up to her. Perhaps that is why I remember each of the spankings so clearly. I know now that some of the characteristics that I value most in my father were highlighted during those incidents.

The first time my dad spanked me, I was shocked! My sister Kelly and I were preschoolers and we were fighting over a book. Each of us had one hand on it and neither of us was willing to let go. My dad was in the room and he calmly told us that if we ripped the book, he would spank us. Since he had never spanked me before, I'm not sure I believed him at the time. I should have, though, since my dad is nothing if not honest. Needless to say, Kelly and I ripped the book and he spanked both of us. It was clear that he valued books, and that the information in them was important to him. He also valued intelligence. In later years, it wasn't uncommon for one of the kids to get up from the dinner table to check the encyclopedia or dictionary for information when my dad challenged us with a question we couldn't answer.

The second time my dad spanked me, I wasn't quite as surprised. In fact I was sneaking, so I must have known I would be in trouble if someone caught me. We were moving into a new church building and dad was the pastor. In the middle of a big interior painting project, I took the lid from a can of white paint and carried it outside behind a bush, where I proceeded to dip my finger in the paint and write "Jesus is love" on the foundation of the church building. Dad caught me. I clearly remember him telling me that while the statement I had written was absolutely true, we did not deface public property, especially not the house of God. I learned then that my dad had a special reverence for the church and that property was to be cared for, especially property that belonged to God.

The third time he spanked me, I was outraged! It was a Sunday and earlier in the day, I spat (yes, literally) at one of the adult attendees of the morning service. She promptly went to my dad and told him what I had done. After church, I was called into my parents' bedroom where my dad asked me if I had spit at her and when I said I did, he spanked me. Then he asked why I did it.

I explained that I had walked into the church that morning with my sister Kelly, who was bouncing a ball. The woman grabbed the ball out of mid-air and held it above her head, too high for a child to reach. I asked her politely to please return the ball to my sister, explaining that we were headed down to Sunday School and not into the sanctuary so it was okay to be carrying a ball, but she still held it up out of our reach. I kept asking, getting more agitated each time, and it appeared that as my agitation increased, so did her enjoyment of the situation. Finally, I got so mad, I burst into tears and spit at her.

As I told this story to my dad, I could tell he was upset, but I wasn't sure why. I will never forget how he had me stay in the room while he called the woman on the phone and confirmed my story. He told her that he had just spanked me but that he wished he could take it back. Then, he chewed her out and told her to NEVER, EVER taunt a child and that she deserved to be punished, rather than me.

I learned several things about my dad that day. I learned when he spanked me that he did not approve when I showed disrespect to another person. I also learned, though, that fairness was important to him, regardless of the status of the parties involved in a situation. Age and status didn't matter. What mattered was doing what was right.

I am thankful for the life lessons I learned from my dad, and the values he has that I share and have since passed along to my children. Among these values are a belief in equity, respect for all people, reverence for God and the house of God, and appreciation for intelligence and the written word. I am thankful for the three spankings that taught me these lessons, because the pain of learning them later in life could have been so much greater, especially since dad's spankings didn't really hurt much more than my feelings.

I am also thankful for all of the other characteristics I've inherited and learned from my father. Because of him, I know how to love people unconditionally, how to argue persuasively, how to have fun unabashedly, how to think logically, how to compete passionately, and how to always look at the bright side and believe in the innate goodness of people who are, after all, made in the image of God.

My dad is my hero!

If I'd been born with a lot more testosterone, I would have been christened Maurice Jr. As it turns out, God decided I should be a female instead. I have been told throughout the years, however, that I look a lot like my Dad - God certainly has a sense of humor!

Dad has always been a preacher, and a pastor, for most of my life. Teaching hasn't necessarily been something he is known for by his congregants, but I have been the beneficiary of many lessons under his tutelage. Some of the lessons I've learned from my Dad are: what the "real world" is, how to influence others, how to hear and heed my own conscience, and what "not forsaking the assembly" really looks like.

"The real world is the spirit world." I'm not sure if Dad coined it or not, but I attribute this quote to him. It is so clear that everything on this earth is transitory, and will perish - even the things and people that seem SO real, and so lasting. Relationships end. People die. Wars and disasters happen. Tragedy strikes. Yet none of these things are the "real" world. Not one of them. The actual "real" world is what has always been, and will always be. The real world is maintained by God Almighty, Who created everything that exists. When I am dismayed, and things are not going well, and my employment is uncertain, and my body is weak, and I am fretful, Dad's life and voice in my head centers me and helps me cope in this non-real world.

Dad never sent me or any of my siblings to private or Christian schools. Instead, he encouraged us to let our lights shine wherever we were. He taught us to influence people and situations, always with a goal of pointing people toward Christ. He wasn't afraid to let us go to school or work and interface with un-churched people; instead he encouraged us to be the Bible for these people to read, and to allow them to see Jesus through us.

"Make them mad, or make them glad...but get a reaction" - SO many people have been influenced by the life of Maurice Raphael Gordon - undoubtedly too many to count. A lot were "mad" about what he brought to the table initially, then became "glad" when their lives were transformed by an encounter with Jesus. And many are glad, to hear and see and experience the light shining inside of my Dad, and get their very own light too. Regardless of the response of the person, Dad taught me it was my duty to make an eternal difference in the life of each and every person I come into contact with.

One of my Dad's most famous, and most haunting questions is, "what does your Holy Ghost say?" I can't even number the times I heard Dad ask this question, and how many times it frustrated, convicted and challenged me. The idea that the God who lived inside of me (no matter how old I was, or how confused, or how much I just wanted a person with skin on to tell me what to do), and His Spirit could provide the answers I needed, was a concept Dad reiterated early and often. This forced, God-focus caused me (after much struggling and pig-headedness) to develop an open, interactive, and intimate relationship with my Creator. The Holy Ghost in me really DOES have direction to provide, and it is always the right direction. Being several years past my teenaged self, it no longer galls me to say that Dad was right to consistently ask me this famous, haunting question.

Going on a cruise? Cross country trip? Checking out colleges for one of the kids? To see family in another state? Out of the country? Not one of these trips ever excluded God, or church. In fact, many of the trips were built around a church meeting, conference or missions trip. The Bible says to be sure to get together with other believers, and more, as the coming of the Lord nears. Dad was a firm believer in this scripture, and I don't remember one trip where we didn't have the ubiquitous church manual on hand to locate a place to gather together with other believers. Even on his first cruise with his buddy Bro. Scissom, they found a way to minister, not once, but several times in the cruise chapel. Not surprisingly, Dad now feels a "call" to the "cruise ministry." Dad taught me that the scripture about meeting with other believers doesn't have a vacation clause - it is a directive that is always applicable.

I wasn't named Maurice, but I still have Dad's big man-sized shoes to fill…

What an amazing heritage...

What a legacy to pass on to my own son...

My only hope to successfully pass Dad's size-twelve-shoe legacy on has everything to do with remembering about the "real world," letting my light shine, listening to and heeding my Holy Ghost, and connecting frequently with a body of believers who have a shepherd who hears from God.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy!