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Happy Birthday Daddy! Honoring the Man Who Made Me His

July 14, 2016

Today we celebrate my dad turning 74.

Today, however my daddy is laying in a hospital bed frail and weak.  He is in kidney failure, dementia, has double pneumonia, and CIDP.  Needless to say, this is a hard birthday.  I do not know if this will be the last birthday my dad will have on this earth.  There is so much uncertainty, but what I do know is that I have a God who loves him and has ordained his days and today I am thankful for the life of Roger David Barnhill.  As I approach this day, I wonder….How to honor the man who taught me what ADOPTION = LOVE is all about!

This will be raw and some of this will be hard to write, and for some, to read, but adoption comes out of the messiness and brokenness of life!

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wombs” ~ Psalm 147:3

My mom was a single mom with two kids, myself and my brother Danny.  As I reflect on life as a very young girl, I remember a lot of disappointment from empty promises, chaos, broken relationships, instability, drama, and a mad little girl who really didn’t trust men.  This was due to a broken home where my biological father was an alcoholic, drug addict, and abuser.  A lot of hurt!  These types of situations put children at-risk for many injustices and my brother and I were no exception.  My mother worked as a waitress, doing all she could to provide for our family.

One evening my mom was in her room of our apartment getting ready for a date.  I was stooping in anger!  Truth be known, I was probably raging war in my mind.  A knock on the door…..I rushed to open it.  “Hello, my name is Roger”  “WE DON’T NEED NO MAN AROUND HERE!”….S L A M!!!!  Yes, I slammed the door in his face!  My strawberry blonde, freckle face, angry self wanted nothing to do with this man.  However, this did not seem to deter him or my mother from going out with him.  It didn’t stop there.  I was just not nice at all to this man!  Every opportunity I could to be ugly and push this man away, I took!  The last thing I wanted was any man taking up my mom’s time or trying to win the heart of myself and my brother.  The good news as I saw it was that he traveled, lived out of state and when he came to town he stayed at a hotel and we would get to go swimming.  Outside of that, I could care less if the man existed.

Going on a couple years of him coming into town, dating my mom and leaving (which I was always glad when he left), my 11th birthday was coming up.  The weekend he was in town prior to my birthday he got down on my level and told me that he wouldn’t be in-town for my birthday, but he was going to make a special birthday call to me……….”I promise” he said!  This was before the time of cell phones…..you know the ages where you had party-lines, collect calls, and paid a butt load for a long-distance phone call.  Oh…..and someone had to be home to pick up the phone, because the phone was attached by a cord to the wall.  My response……”Don’t make me any promises!”  That simple promise raged emotions in me that could have definitely started World War III!  I despised him (although he was growing on me), but to make a promise!!  I had plenty of promises broken to me in my short life and nothing made me angrier!  However, that late afternoon, the phone rang, my mom answered and immediately told me the phone call was for me.  “Happy Birthday!” rang out on the opposite end.  That sealed the deal!  He kept a promise!  A promise just for me!  It was all about me!  He knew exactly what my tender heart needed and he won me over!

My mom and Roger married when I was a couple weeks from turning 12.  This man that I tormented would now make a huge mark in my life.  Not only did he want to marry my mom, he wanted to take this fire cracker of a girl and her hyper little brother and make them his own.  He loved us!  He wanted to show us what a daddy was all about.  He became in my eyes, larger than life!  You know we say in adoption there is nature and nurture, I believe God blends those elements because when we are adopted we just simply……..become!

Adoption comes out of the messiness and brokenness of life!  Life was messy!  I was broken!  In the physical earthly sense and this man, no blood relation, took me in as his own.  Not because he had to!  Not because he was looking to gain something!  Simply put….He loved!  He loved our family with an unconditional love and wanted to make us whole.

I was broken spiritually as well.  But God the Father, my Abba Father, sent his Son Jesus to take my messy, broken spiritual life and with unconditional love, He poured out His blood on the cross so that I may have eternal life, whole and complete in Him!  Simply put…..He loves!

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” ~ John 15:12-13

Here are a few things, be it nature or nurture, my dad, who loved me and took me as his own, influenced in my life

  1. Love: He loved us!
  2. Family is More Than Blood: We were family from “I do”. There was no denying who my daddy was.  He showed me what a daddy is all about!
  3. Sacrifice: He gave up his freedom to make us a family
  4. Hard Work: Nothing is just given to you, you must work hard
  5. Strength and Courage: Never let your past hurts, disappointments, and mistakes define your future
  6. Failure: It’s a part of life, learn and grow from there
  7. Make Goals: Know where you are heading
  8. Coffee: Life is always better with coffee
  9. Be Willing to Change: In his vulnerability, my dad showed that prejudices can be removed when you open your heart to love
  10. Read Directions: He never did, which often times ended with something thrown in the pool, so to keep calm and get the project done, just read the directions (somethings we learn to do the opposite of what we see J)
  11. Car Issues: That is what mechanics are for
  12. Love of Sports: Yes, we share the love of football, basketball, and baseball…..He made me a Cubs fan, I guess that is finally paying off J
  13. Family Walks: One of my fond memories is walking for ice cream
  14. Back Porch Talks: lots of life stories are shared on the back porch, with a cup of coffee, of-course
  15. Integrity: Your name and hand-shake is your bond!
  16. Promises: Keep them!
  17. Nicknames: They are a part of who we are…..”Tootsie”…….I’m sure spoke to my prissiness and “Michael” spoke to the fact that I was such a tomboy (a play off my middle name, Michelle)
  18. Vacations should always include an extra set of keys to the vehicle
  19. Manners: There are no excuses to not have them
  20. The Look: It’s a deadly force and can be more intimidating and sting harsher than any spanking ever could
  21. Dogs: They are an essential part of the family.  My dad loves his dogs
  22. Pinwheel Cookies: The marshmallow and chocolate goodness should always be a pantry staple!  ALWAYS!
  23. Movies: Sweet memories are made with a good movie, buttered popcorn, coke and TWIZZLERS candy, of-course
  24. Affection: Kiss and hug those you love, particularly your spouse and kids

What was produced was a daddy’s girl!  I love my daddy!

Thank you dad for your sacrificial love!  You have been a blessing and I am so thankful that God chose you to be my daddy!  Thank you for adopting me and making me your own!  I’m so glad you never gave up on me.  Happy Birthday big guy, I love you!