Happy Father's Day

A letter to my dad, that apparently you are subjected to reading, too. Howard Thomas Fraley, circa 1990. Sorry, Dad. Had to.

Dear Dad,

Thank you for enjoying life to the fullest. Thank you for running headlong into adventure, even when logic may have said it wasn’t a good idea. Remember that time you took me sledding down our driveway? The one that just happened be curvy and had a straight drop off on one side? Yeah, maybe not the most prudent, but FUN! Thank you for showing me the ocean and the mountains, and for helping me overcome fears to conquer both. Thank you for playing tag and soccer and basketball and for exploring the woods with me. Thank you for lugging me around in the back of that pickup truck, when it would’ve been so much easier to go alone. Thank you for teaching me how to swim, how to ride a bike, and how to drive. Patience is a virtue that you must’ve had in huge supply.

Thank you for dreaming big. Thank you for listening to God when he showed you big things, instead of writing them off as crazy. I saw your faith, and it grew mine. Thank you for letting nothing hold you back from the dreams God put in your heart. I saw your stubborn belief, and your optimism, and it planted seeds of hope in my heart. Thank you for thinking outside the box, and for never settling. I saw your life standing out, and it gave me the courage to look different, too. Thank you for always breathing life into my big dreams, and for encouraging even the crazy ones. Remember that time you took me to see the FBI headquarters in Omaha? And despite the fact it was clear to you and everyone else I was NOT cut out to be a federal agent, you didn’t want to crush my dreams, or sow any seeds of self-doubt. It’s because of you that I truly believe I can do anything God calls me to do.

Thank you for loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. I saw that love coming through everything you did, the way you prioritized your life, and the way you lived even when others weren't looking. Thank you for getting up early every day to pray and spend time with God, making him your first love. I saw you, and you set the example for me, so now I can do the same. Thank you for seeking his face, for hungering for him, for pursuing him so wholeheartedly, and for never tempering your passion for Jesus. I saw your passion, and it ignited a fire in me. I watched you go to the ends of the earth (literally) with a joyful heart, just because God asked you to, and because of your example, I joyfully did the same. Thank you for showing me how to pour out my heart to God, and how to listen to him and hear his voice. I watched you journal constantly, and now I have boxes of journals of my own. Thank you for baptizing me in that creek in February, instead of making me wait. I look back on that day as the day I died to my old life, was born again into the resurrection, and joined the family of God, and I'm so thankful you were there to plunge me in the icy waters.

Thank you for loving your neighbor as yourself. And by your neighbor, I mean your family, your friends, your enemies, your acquaintances, and people you didn’t even know. I watched you sacrificially give of your time and money to anyone who had need, and to invest your life with abandon into loving others. I saw your generosity, and it taught me that nothing is ours for the keeping, but God gives generously so we can generously share with others. Thank you for laying down your desires, preferences, and comforts for the sake of others. I saw what it looked like to take up my cross and follow our beautiful savior, and I can follow him more faithfully because of you.

Thank you for your constant unconditional love and support, and for teaching me, for guiding me, and for setting me up for the best life imaginable, one given to Jesus. You are the best, and I will be forever grateful. Happy Father’s Day.