So I am doing my normal book-reading for an end-of-year assignment, I stumbled upon Greg Vaughn writing about being a father, and how he’s blessed to have grandchildren, as Proverbs 17:6 goes. Then he made this point:

But there’s a second part to Proverbs 17:6: “and parents are the pride of their children.” When I read that verse for the first time, it drove me to my knees. The pride of my children… is me? (p. 54)

Yes! Yes! My parents are my pride! I’m happily yelling to the yellowed pages of Letters From Dad. Then, of course, have I told them that? They tell me they’re proud of me and they love me. Their wedding anniversary was almost three weeks ago, and I had to go back to my text message history to see if I had even said “happy anniversary” amidst all my own 21st birthday preparation. I didn’t. I mean, that’s not the point. My parents are more than happy to celebrate ME and in our family wedding anniversaries were usually for them to celebrate. But still. I read Proverbs 17:6 and I agree. 

Mum and Dad, I’m proud of you. 

I’m on a road trip with friends and we wind up the mountain to the crest of the Kaimais, and every time we pass that spot I think of you, Dad, asking a question to a sparkling-eyed someone. I imagine what it would be like to see two ecstatic people dancing in that spot because that someone said yes.

I walk along a neighborhood stream-side in New Zealand in October, and every time I see the white lilies blooming, I think of you, Mum, and how you had them blooming in your wedding bouquet. I never understood they did until I lived here in a Southern-hemisphere spring.

Someone asks where Onehunga is, and I picture where your first home was and try to imagine David and Daniel as babies and toddlers. I am searching for treasures in an op shop (thrift store) and see a framed sketch of Hong Kong, and imagine you holding baby Jordan with Chinese faces happy crowding around. Then I glance at the TV this morning with the newsflash of a lava flow on a certain island in Hawaii– and I love how you said yes to God and made our home there. 

Dad, I love how you travel the world to teach on DTSes and SOWs and you don’t just want students to know about the stuff your teaching, but you provide the opportunity to experience it (shakamahunda)I also love how you take the time to sit down with them at meal times– and ask them where they’re from, where they’re going on outreach, or what they like doing. I love how you have long-term relationships with people in YWAM Newcastle (and many other bases, but that’s an especial favorite of mine) and you don’t drop them if it gets hard, but say yes to long flights and funny food and shared communal bathrooms– because you value who God is there!

Mum, now that I’ve had three years in training to be a teacher, I’ve had three years to learn how much what you have pioneered and taught at Co-op/ICS/Wai’aha– is what they drum into us as “good teaching practice”. I love how you have endured misunderstanding and confusion from others when you explain what you do, and that you have held on to God’s promises that He loves family in education. It makes me so proud to explain what school I grew up in, and fearless that “entering into God’s presence” is really what education should be all about anyways.

Which comes to the both of you, together. I get the privilege of saying “Kevin and Liz Norris” when people ask me who are your parents? But more than that, I get the honor of late-night Skype calls and early-morning texts from both of you… saying “You’re the best because you’re mine… good on you for going to the dentist… so excited to see you… so proud of you… we love you.” I really like those times (understatement of the century).

And though I’ve have told you– I love the way you love God– I’ll say it again for everyone reading. The boys will agree with me, we love the way you together inspire us to love God. Because everyone needs to understand that none of this is possible without Him. I mean, without Him we could all probably do pretty well at putting up a facade that everything goes great all the time. But it doesn’t. Airplanes don’t make it easier. Nor the fact that we have to have Google Hangouts as our family-reunion venue.

But as I think of our family story, how you said yes to missions (well, really just yes to loving and following Jesus)… I know it’s Him in you, and you in Him, and all of you together, and all of us together… that makes this love on blog-posts and Google Hangouts possible (and don’t forget you guys taught me to read and write!).

So let’s just say,

I’m proud to be called your daughter. Heaps. 

Though I scatter them among the peoples,
    yet in distant lands they will remember me.
They and their children will survive,
    and they will return.

I will strengthen them in the Lord
    and in his name they will live securely,

declares the Lord.

-Zechariah 10:9, 12