Three Things Every Father Needs

While wrestling with my three boys (my daughter had the good sense to stay clear of this fracas), it suddenly occurred to me that there are at least three things that every Father needs.  I list them for you now, in the order of their priority while wrestling:

  1. An Athletic Cup – I will not go into great detail here, but every father knows the necessity of this protection.  From infancy on, it seems destined that your children are aiming for that one spot they know will bring you to your knees.  As soon as they are walking, their heads, hands, soccer balls, and baseball bats are honed for the strike zone.  When babies are born, new moms get a diaper bag filled with lotions, samples of diapers, coupons and the like.  Would it kill them to throw in a cup for dad?
  2. Duct Tape/Super Glue – Inevitably, while wrestling, or doing anything else with dad, something will break (a dish, a toy, an arm, etc).  Having been raised by MacGyver, any man in my generation should know how to fix just about anything with a roll of duct tape (they even make it in camouflage now, if you can find it).
  3. A Good Motto – A friend of mine had the phrase, “Don’t put your mouth on it.”  You’d be surprised how often you say that as a parent, and in the least expected situations.  Dad needs to have that one pearl of wisdom for which he will be remembered.  I was watching “Hamlet” the other night, and Polonius has volumes of wisdom, but Laertes and Ophelia roll their eyes when he prattles on.  Better to have one nugget of wisdom that is handed down, than a chest of pearls that is left behind (I made that up myself).
    So what’s my pearl of wisdom?  I’m tempted to say, “Never put a dages on a res,” but until the kids take Hebrew, it will be meaningless to them.  I’ve caught myself saying, “Don’t be sorry, be right,” but I don’t know if that’s how I want to be remembered.  Hopefully my catch-phrase will be “Remember whose you are,” which I say every morning as I drop the kids off at school.

If you can add to this list, your share you one note of wisdom, please feel free to respond to this post.

Good luck out there dads!

In Memory of Dad

Let me begin with an apology.  I have no excuse for not writing anything for my blog since Christmas.  It just didn’t happen.  For those of you (if you’re still out there) who actually read this, I make no promises to write more regularly.  I would like to, but I know myself too well.

Here’s the big news.  It has been one week to the day since my father’s funeral.  My dad, Larry Sayler, passed away on Sunday, March 22nd, from complications resulting from surgery.  His death was sudden and tragic, and he will be missed greatly.

I had the honor to speak on behalf of the family at dad’s funeral.  It was a difficult thing to do, and odd.  Usually, as the Pastor, I can be somewhat disconnected from the raw emotions and grief experienced by those who come to the service.  Not that I am cold and unfeeling, but usually I can maintain some distance which allows me to get through the service and minister to those in need.  Not this time.  And I am really glad that Dr. Marsh, the pastor at Eastminster Presbyterian did such a wonderful job.  My job this time was different.  Rather than help bring our attention to Christ and the promises of His gospel, I got to speak about my dad.  I don’t know how well I did, it’s all just a blur now.  But I thought I’d take a moment to share here some of my thoughts.

When we lose someone close to us, one of the things that we notice is all the stuff they left behind.  As we sort through it, our thoughts turn to what we stand to inherit, and what we have already received.  My brother and sister and I have been given so much from my father (both good and bad), and I thought I’d share with you just a few of those things.

I would like to blame some of my poorer attributes on my dad – would like to, but I can’t.  Dad could be stubborn, when he made up his mind, there was no moving him.  No matter how much his doctors said pushed diet and exercise, dad wouldn’t.  I see in myself some of these same characteristics, and while I’d like to say that’s his fault, I know well and good whose responsible here.

But one thing I can say is that I have inherited dad’s sense of humor (or lack thereof).  The first time Dr. Marsh (who I knew from Sterling College) preached at Eastminster, my dad, who was a member there, came to Dr. Marsh after the service and said, “I believe you know Ethan Sayler.”  To which Dr. Marsh replied positively.  Then my dad said, “I live with his mom.”  Silence.  That was how my dad introduced himself.  His favorite movies was “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb” and he and I would stay up late to watch Dr. Who.  If you know either of the two, you will understand my dad a lot better (and me).

I have also inherited many qualities of my father that have made me a better man. 

I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have come by, called, or have written in the time since my dad’s death to say how dear a friend my dad had been to them.  If dad considered you a friend, you knew it, and he would go to great ends to help you with anything you needed.  To a fault, dad would give of his time, money, and wisdom to help a friend in any situation.  He was a fierce and loyal friend, and I pray that I can be that kind of friend to those God has placed around me.

Dad was also a man of great faith.  When I was younger, I didn’t understand this.  When I was in High School, it kind of put me off – all those old books and old ways of thinking.  But now I understand how rich and deep his faith ran.  He loved Scripture, and had a daily walk with God through the study of His Word.  Dad and I really connected when I was in seminary.  He loved those conversations when I’d call to talk about what we were studying.  Often, I’d email him at midnight a copy of a paper for him to proof-read, and he’d have it back to me in about 30 minutes.

He loved reading Barnhouse, Boyce, and even Calvin.  He was a Five-Point Calvinist, and he knew his salvation rested in God’s grace alone.  And dad loved the old hymns, didn’t care much for the new praise music, for him it lacked substance and meaning.  That was dad.

Ultimately, dad was a loving and devoted husband and father.  He never missed a concert, game, performance that Aaron, Amanda, or I were in.  At every cross country and track meet, which had to be the most boring things to watch, dad was there, with his orange hat, cheering us on.  He was incredibly proud of his children (and their spouses), and wasn’t embarrassed to brag about them to everyone.  And then he had grandchildren.  All TWELVE of them.  They were his joy and delight, and he loved every moment he had with them.

That was dad.  Even with all his bad jokes and stubborn ways, he was a man of loyal friendship, profound faith, and great devotion to his family.  You might have been blessed to know him, but we were definitely blessed to have him as a father.  As we remember dad, let us carry with him the very best of who he was. 

SDG