Warning: if you have a problem with men being vulnerable and expressing love…this post may be hazardous to your psyche and will put you in a state of discomfort. (Oh well…kick rocks!)
As I sit here in sunny Southern California reflecting on my life (which I often do when traveling by myself). Father’s Day and what it means to me will not leave me alone. I’ve been brought to tears three times this evening in reflection…so i had to write.
I am a son, a father, uncle and father figure to countless children whom I’ve had the privilege of serving the last 15 years of my life. I am blessed if I am anything. A great leader, Andy Stanley, whose podcasts I listen to regularly talks about a concept called “further faster.” The idea is that all of us are standing on the shoulders of someone(s). I have been blessed to stand on the shoulders of some GIANTS! People who have accelerated me, not because of any genius or master plan of my own, but because they are who they are, and they care about me, I have an extra measure of nitro in my engine, and have been able to go ‘further faster’ because of who they are.
I am blessed to have three fathers who have been GIANTS with me from the time I was born. Each of them have blessed my life and made me the man I am in different ways. I’d like to talk about my three fathers and express my gratitude for helping me get further faster.
I am blessed to have grown up in a home where I was taught at a very young age to know and love my heavenly father; my first father. I believe with all my heart that before I was in my mother’s womb, my heavenly father, through some amazing display of grace that I still don’t understand, allowed me an opportunity to have a wonderful life, and wonderful family, a great career, and more opportunities to love than I can handle. There’s a passage in the Bible that says ‘when my mother and father forsake me, my heavenly father will pick me up.’ I have experienced nothing but ‘pick me ups’ from my heavenly father. He loves me when I’m a knucklehead. He still provides for me when I’m headed in the wrong direction. He still cares about what goes on in my life even though there are many times (even to this day) when I act like I don’t even know him. Only a parent can understand the tremendous love it takes to love unconditionally the unlovely (who just happen to be your children at times). I’m so thankful for my heavenly father and I’m amazed at how he’s helped lay out a path for me to accelerate faster and further than I could have ever fathomed.
“…I trust in God, I know He cares for me,
On mountain bleak, or on the stormy sea.
Though billows roll, He keeps my soul!
My Heavenly Father watches over me.”
My heavenly father’s provision, love, discipline and Grace were embodied in my father who along with my mother adopted me as an infant child. Robert E. Terrentine has been THE example of a father who provides and makes certain that his children know how to be prepared for the world. I watched my father’s work ethic. He worked for 33 years for the Upjohn Company and traveled, worked early mornings and late nights, and perservered so that the four of us could have food on the table, clothes on our backs and an education in our minds. My father was/is a great provider and a great disciplinarian. He made certain that I knew how to be a man. He insisted that I understood right from wrong, and guaranteed that service to others and service before self were bedrocks of my upbringing. It is one of the great marvels of my life to experience love, care and provision from a man whose father was mean and surly.
My father was rarely told how much he was loved, and often told how much he was wrong by his father. I am thankful that the sins of the father were not passed to the son. My dad, Robert Earl, is the greatest example of selfless God-honoring service to his children and to his wife. If I screw up; it is NOT because I did not have a great example! My failures as a father are my own. My father showed me the right way. I love you dad, and I’m grateful that my son and my daughter get to see you In all of your granddaddy-hood. Thank you for the discipline. Thank you for the love. Thank you for the provision. I am further faster because you sacrificed. I do not take that for granted, nor do I take it lightly. May Almighty God give you back all you’ve given me and even more.
“In the morning, who was there was I first opened up my eyes?
Who was there to heal the hurt when I first learned to ride?
And who never missed a game?
Celebrate me won or lost,
YES! My Father was.
When adolescent years had come, who helped me understand?
And when the winning point was scored, who in victory raised my hand?
And when I hung my head in shame, who was there to lift it up?
YES! My father was.
Gone Too Soon
My third father is one that has been new in my life, and our relationship was cut far too short. My biological father whom I met in my mid-twenties was a man who I was more like than anyone I knew. The argument of nature versus nurture was played out in its fullness in the relationship between James and I. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that “I looked just like JT” or “talk just like James”, or said the same sayings that James said in his life, I declare I’d be a millionaire!
James Taylor was my biological father and my friend. His humor, love for music and people were written on the scrolls of my DNA at my birth. And sadly, we lived our lives two and a half hours apart…and did not know it. When I think of James, I’m often brought to a smile that’s accompanied with tears. He was a big cheerleader of mine and I’m thankful for the time we did have together. I have yet to comprehend why our script ended in the first act; but I am ‘sho nuff’ glad I was in the show with JT.
” Like a comet Blazin’ across the evening sky
Gone Too Soon
Like a rainbow, Fading in a twinkling eye
Gone Too Soon
Shiny and sparkly and splendidly bright
here one day, Gone one night
Born to amuse…To inspire, to DELIGHT
Here one day, Gone one night
Like a sunset, dying with the rising of the moon
Gone Too Soon”
In my life I have reaped benefits of seeds I did not sow. I have been blessed with gifts biologically, spiritually and physically that I did not work for. I am in debt to my three fathers for helping me become the man I am today.
And if I have any value in this life, I pray that I will have a portion of the impact that my three fathers have on me with my children, my nieces and nephews and the countless children for whom I care.
This post is dedicated to Olivia, my ridiculously smart, talented and beautiful daughter; Timothy Junior (TJ), my spunky, smart and hilarious son; my niece, Emerald Jean who lights up my world with just one look at her face; my adopted little buddy Marlon Bracken who is strong, smart, hilarious and resilient…and of course; my three fathers.
Peace, love and blessings,