Dad. My wonderful Dad.

The last photo of my dad and I together. 1981.

Lessons from my dad (with some input from my sisters, thank you!), in random order:

How to polish my shoes.

How to take calculated risks.

How to provide for your family.

How to work hard.

How to sing with your whole self (especially “How Great Thou Art”).

How to trust others.

How to fix a flat tire.

How to mow the lawn and shovel the snow.

How to be a gentleman.

How to be a Good Samaritan.

How to serve God and honor God.

How to encourage and love your wife.

How to provide for your family.

How to fly a plane.

How to fix just about any broken thing around the house.

How to be a good son-in-law.

How to give good gifts.

How to be a creative problem solver.

How to use my common sense and good judgment.

How to tie a neck tie, a half or full Windsor.

Measure twice, cut once.

How to siphon gasoline out of car and into the lawn mower can (I can still taste the gasoline, yuck).

How to properly tuck in my shirt tail.

How to garden… even gardening and raising vegetables you don’t like yourself.

How compounding interest can add up to big returns.

How to use a slide rule.

How to balance a spoon and fork on the smallest bit of toothpick.

How liquid nitrogen turns a hot dog into glass.

How to put “English” on a pool shot or a ping pong return.

Why playing the lotto is morally wrong.

How to drive. How to drive a stick shift.

How to let the School of Hard Knocks teach me a thing or two.

How to camp. How to build and start a fire.

How to swim.

How to bargain for a car. How to bargain for a casket (now that’s a funny story).

How to give grace. How to laugh. How to love. How to live. How to die.


My favorite story about my Dad: He was a Gideon — best known for being one of those folks who place Bibles in hotels.  He was also a private pilot and he would go flying on Saturday mornings.  At his memorial service over 30 years ago, his good friend Lou — also a pilot and a Gideon —  produced a talley sheet from Dad’s pilot log book that included the names of many, many small airports in the midwest.  Lou explained that these were places where he and my Dad had flown to on many a Saturday and placed a Gideon Bible in the pilot’s lounge.  And it was something only he and Lou knew about.  He combined two loves, flying and the Lord, into something that blessed God and many unknown souls.

What lessons did you learn from your dad?


(First published on Father’s Day 2012…)

The Blessing of Dad is Life Giving.

The blessing of a father to a son brings life.
The blessing of a father to a son brings life.


What do you think of when you think about your dad? We all have a father. Some were better than others in how they did “dadding.” If you had a “bad” dad, my heart breaks for you.

To be fair, most of parenting is trial and error. As I look back on how I parented my kids I want to say to them as Tim Kimmel says: “Forgive me for being such an idiot!”

We are in a sweet season of talking about “family” at our church. This past weekend we camped out on a conversation about our earthly fathers and how it makes sense that most of us men learned how to be a dad by watching our own fathers. We learned the good stuff and the bad stuff by being first-hand recipients.

I think it’s ironic that just about every man I know who swore they would never say the things to their children that their dad said to them, have broken that vow. “Turn that music down!” “That friend of yours is no good for you.” “When I was your age, we respected our elders…” And the list goes on and on.

My relationship with my own dad was really pretty good. I knew that he loved me no matter what I did. Yes, he was too busy to come to all of my special events, but now that I’ve been a dad for over 20 years I can understand why. He died way too young and I never really had an adult-to-adult relationship with him.

And while I can’t remember a specific time when he blessed me, I know that he was proud of me and he was happy about the faith and life decisions I had made by the time I was 22, the year he died.

But there are many men I know today that did not have that kind of relationship with their dad. Some dads were downright mean. Some told their sons that they would never amount to anything. Some were ambivalent or absent. To these men who rarely, or never, heard positive words from their earthly father let me speak these words from our heavenly Father:

“I know you.” Psalm 139

“I have great plans for you; plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29

“I will never leave you.” Deuteronomy 31

“I will never reject you.” Psalm 94

“I will never abandon you.”  Hebrews 13

“I will not break my promises to you.” Psalm 89

“I will bless you and your family.” Genesis 12

“I do not condemn you.” Romans 8

“I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine.” Isaiah 43

“I take great delight in you.” Zephaniah 3

“I love you.” John 3

You know, in the Old Testament culture, and still in the Jewish family today, the father places his hands on his child’s head and speaks a blessing over them every Friday night as part of the celebration of the Sabbath.  No matter what has happened between them during the week, at that moment, the Father and the Son are connected by a blessing.

Our Heavenly Father want to bless you. Receive God’s blessings, men.  He loves you more than you know. Let that sink into your heart and give you life.

And then, pass His blessings on to your children and your children’s children.  And if you don’t know how to pass along the blessings, just honestly say the words above to your children that God has already said to you.

It will touch their heart. It will touch yours as well. It will bring life to you, to your children, to your family.

 (c) 2103. Rich Ronald.