August 1st is National Respect Your Parent’s Day!

Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

I had an idyllic childhood. I was content, my home life was peaceful, and I knew my parents loved each other and their children. Respecting and honoring my parents has never been hard for me. When I became a parent, it was easy to see the sacrifices they made and that mistakes are inevitable. When my boys were little, there were nights I crawled into bed and cried at how awful I had parented that day. I hope as they grow older and become fathers, they will give me the grace I determined to give my parents. I think most of us are just doing our best, praying that God will fill in the gaps where we have messed up.

I Timothy 5:4, “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.”


My sister and I have had the privilege of taking care of our mom since our dad’s death over five years ago. It is a very small way to ‘make some return’ to her for a lifetime of sacrifice and generosity that she invested into our lives and our children’s lives. Navigating life without her high school sweetheart has been a difficult road for her. She’s had many health issues, and her life took a major turn when he died. But I promised my dad while he was sick that he did not have to add worrying about her to his list of concerns. He may have worried more if he would have known that we would take her up in a hot air balloon, stay in a treehouse, vacation in Vegas, and many other crazy things.

Proverbs 23:22, “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.”

I recently heard a sweet lady speak of her awful childhood. Her mother had married several times, and each one of her mother’s new husbands had been a predator. The homes she grew up in were filled with drugs and drug dealers. Although she never used the word respect when she spoke of her mother, she did say she had forgiven her mother. I think that is a form of respect, and probably the only way that woman could show respect to her mother. Thankfully, she is now married, raising a family, and is a happy fulfilled person, because she let go of the past and looked to the future. She truly has an amazing testimony to the blessing of following God’s principles on the topic of respecting parents.

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, panic set in for me. I wanted him to know how much he was loved and appreciated. I wanted him to know I knew. I miss him so much, and I thought I would share a letter I wrote to him four months before he left this earth. I am so grateful I did, and sharing it is a way for me to continue respecting him.

Dear Dad,

I have had so many moments recently that are filled with memories, feelings, and images in my mind that I hadn’t realized were still there. Yet, when I recall them, they seem like yesterday.

From my earliest fuzzy memories of tobogganing and skating at Neill Park, to the night before my wedding, my life was easy and peaceful. I was safe, comfortable, happy, and secure. I can see now that the serenity of my childhood was because of you. I was perfectly content. All the time. I never knew if you were stressed about work, or if you had a headache, or if you were sick. I just knew you were there. It’s the best gift a father gives a child. If I was lucky enough to see you before you left for work, I could count on you leaning against the kitchen counter eating your gross health cracker and drinking Carnation Instant. I can remember lying in bed, early in the morning, hearing your spoon clinking in the glass. I can still hear you getting up at night to make your popcorn and grab a Pepsi for Rockford Files or All in the Family. You got up every day and quietly went to work. Then you quietly came home at night and quietly ate your dinner. Now that I have been living in a home with all males for 25 years, I can appreciate what your life must have been like with all females.

We went to church every Sunday morning, evening, and Wednesday night. I was pretty cool cuz my dad was a Deacon. You made it clear by example that Christ was the center of our home. The stability you provided for me was key to my future and pivotal in my decision to follow Jesus Christ. No matter what happened to me outside of our home, I could get through it because I could look forward to going home. My home was a haven. I had no worries when I was there.

I remember watching Grizzly Adams with you, and other television shows with animals killing each other. I loved sitting in the garage listening to the MN Twins with you. Our Christmas shopping and Bridgman’s date was the highlight of my year. You played countless board games with us until we went berserk with stupidity, and you had to walk away. I will always remember biking with you to the “Little Store” for a Marathon Bar, you getting eaten by ‘Jaws’ up at the lake, renting videos on Friday nights, Duane’s and Big B’s Pizza, trips to Wisconsin Dells, and of course—your famous chocolate malts.

I have had the privilege of appreciating you more as I have watched you with my boys. What a gift you have been to them. The hours you have invested in their lives are a treasure to us all. The value of a Christ-loving grandfather’s presence in his grandchildren’s lives is unmeasurable. Each of my boys can recall the time you spent pushing them in the swing, playing cars on the floor, reading to them, kickball & football & ‘kill the deer’ in the backyard, building snowmen, golfing, hunting, fishing, Disney trip, Kentucky trip, Hawley trips, Lake of the Woods trips, ping-pong, pool, cousins camp, countless field trips, and just plain old ‘watching’ them. You have been their biggest fan-and we would love to try and count the miles and hours you have spent to cheer them and their teams on. It’s no wonder they always want you around–if I could only have a nickel for every time one of them says, “Is Grandpa Herb coming?” I love listening to them talk about all the fun things they do and have done with you. Seeing you through their eyes has made me appreciate your personality and sense of humor even more. I know you and Mom have spent hours in prayer for each one, and that alone is a blessing that can’t be matched.

Even now as you fight this nasty disease, your faith, strength, and humor continue to encourage your family. It is reassuring to witness your confidence in the Lord, and it reminds us all that you are going to be healed no matter what.

I am so thankful that you are selflessly continuing to fight this for all of us. Clearly, you don’t know how to be anything else. I love you with all of my heart and am looking forward to so much more time with you.

Love, Brenda