My dad turns 73 years old today. By profession, before he retired, he was a teacher and pastor. The passion he had for imparting knowledge to others didn't stop when he stepped out of the classroom or from behind the pulpit. Though I wasn't homeschooled (after all, who was homeschooled in the 70's?), I was educated at home. My parents provided an environment that made me want to learn about the world around us. They took me and my brother on more trips than I can remember. Our home's shelves were filled with books. And meals eaten together as a family made it easy for meaningful discussions to occur.
My dad was a biology professor and this was reflected in many of the things he taught my brother and me. I was the only preschooler around who called the Easter Bunny by the name of the Easter Sylvilagus. In our family, when one of us was being a pig at the table they called us a sous. My teddy bear was named Ursus. And I won't even begin to talk about the special, scientific terms we used for bathroom terms and body parts! When we would set out a net on the beach, the caught shark was a chance for dissection and an impromptu lesson in Anatomy & Physiology. Living on a hobby farm meant we were taught about things such as imprinting, incubation, and ecology.
And our academic home learning wasn't limited to the sciences. After a rain, our family would frequently head out to plowed fields to hunt for arrow heads where we would hear about the native Americans who roamed our state long before the Europeans. A visit to Vicksburg and the Battlefield Park meant Civil War history communicated to us in ways much more thrilling than a textbook. And a family reunion in South Alabama was a chance to not only hear tales of our family's early years in America, but to gain an understanding of the persecution and poverty that many other families were also fleeing from in Europe and the trials and obstacles they had to endure in the earlier years of our nation.
But more than history or science or geography or Spanish (yes, I learned how to roll my "r"'s riding to school with my dad), my Dad taught me about God. He taught me what the Bible said and he showed me with his life how to live it out. Whether it was giving a Bible to the man pumping our gas or letting a troubled young adult live with us temporarily, my dad lived what he said. Some of my happiest childhood memories centered around my parents' hippy Christian friends and the good times we had at the little house church in West Jackson and on our farm in Crystal Springs. We'd read from our Good News for Modern Man Bibles, sit on the floor and sing "I wish we'd all been ready", have baptismal services in our lake, and have communion using homemade wine and bread in our living room.
And because of the reality of God I saw lived out in my home from both of my parents, I accepted Jesus as my personal savior as soon as I was old enough to realize I needed His salvation. I always loved Him and knew He loved me, but at 9:30 p.m. on October 24, 1973, my daddy helped me make it official. Kneeling by my parents' bed on Queen Circle in Jackson, Mississippi, I told Jesus I was sorry for all the bad things I had done---and believe me, a seven year can do some pretty rotten things---and asked Him to save me.
My dad wrote in the front of my little CHILDREN'S LIVING BIBLE:
"It feels all sunny in my heart and not stormy."
So today my dad turns 73 and I want to take this chance to say "thank you". My dad has led probably hundreds of people to the Lord over the last 55 years of walking with the Lord. He has taught thousands of students and encouraged many to go after careers they might not have even thought they were capable of pursuing. He is now passing on his knowledge of so many different things to his grandchildren. He's not lived a perfect life, but then who has? He's had struggles and heartbreak but one thing he has stayed true to, his passion for learning and passing on his knowledge to others. And most of all, His knowledge of God's love and saving grace.
Thank you, Daddy, for being my teacher long before it was cool to homeschool. I owe you more than I even realize.