Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lessons I learned from my Dad

**I had intended for this to show up last Sunday, but for some reason, it did not.**

I was reading in a magazine recently and there was an article that was talking about the most important lesson your dad ever taught you. After thinking about it for a little while, I have come up with some lessons I learned from my dad.

1. I realized that the greatest thing my dad ever taught me was to have a relationship with God. From the time I became a Christian, my dad would give me a yearly plan to read the Bible and encouraged me to have a daily quiet time with the Lord. Sadly, I didn't really pay attention to his advice until I had gone off to college, but I am so thankful for my dad's quiet, loving leadership in my life that has influenced me throughout the past decades.

2. My dad taught me how to love the city. He was born and raised in Oklahoma City, where he rode city busses to school and church and would go downtown to shop or to work and rode his bike along sidewalks to throw newspapers on his paper route. He was a summer missionary during college in two even more urban areas: Detroit and Chicago. During those summers, God grew his love for the city and for people in the city who needed to know about Jesus. He went to seminary in Ft. Worth, and then moved to Long Island, to begin his life's work as a pastor and church planter and missionary. After a couple of other moves, he spent 21 years as Director of Church Extension for the Metro NY Baptist Association, where he commuted daily into "the City" and learned about the demographics and dynamics of the "city that never sleeps" and its outlying areas (NJ and Connecticut). Today, he is a member of First Baptist Church in downtown Nashville. He loves the city and he taught me about loving the city. Some people might hate city living and long for the quiet and peace of the country life (and I agree that it's a nice place to get away and relax). But I love the excitement and opportunities that come from being close to a city and I will always be a "city girl" because of my dad.

3. Dad taught me how to be a parent and how to relate to my son:  with love and time together. I remember always being a "daddy's girl" when I was growing up. He tells stories about me coming into his office (or study as he called it) when I was a preschooler and would tell him things and have him write things down. Or I'd draw him pictures. I just liked to be near him. I loved going into NYC with him, even though he'd walk so fast, I had to jog to keep up sometimes. But I knew I was always safe with my dad and that he knew what he was doing and where he was going (most of the time!). Once Daniel was born and Dad was retired, he spent countless hours with his grandson, playing any manner of pretend games (school, office, construction, sports games), just being with him and loving him through time together.

4. My dad taught me how to drive a car. There were times when I was really small that he would let me sit in his lap behind the steering wheel and "drive" with him. After I got old enough to reach the pedals and once I had my learner's permit, Dad was my primary driving instructor in the family. He patiently told me what I needed to do and how to back out of our driveway with the looming tree by the street. He helped me to gain confidence behind the wheel and then demonstrated his trust in my abilities by letting me drive solo on the night I got my license (in the snow!). He also taught me my example how to "talk" to traffic, which is a lesson I'm unfortunately passing along to my son by example. As Daniel told me a long time ago, when I was wishing for a megaphone on top of my car, "that wouldn't be a great idea, Mom." It's a good thing for me and Dad that we can drive with the windows rolled up!

There are many other things that my dad taught me and is still teaching me, and I'm thankful that God gave me an earthly father who loves me and has shown me characteristics of my Heavenly Father. I'm so thankful for DeLane Ryals, and that I get to celebrate him as my Dad all throughout the year, not just on Father's Day. I love you, Dad!

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