Five Things I Learned From my Dad

Posted by Lori Merrill on 06/08/2017


As we prepared for the funeral of my father a couple of months ago, and as I wrote the obituary for the paper, I reflected on the lessons I have learned from my dad. It was said several times at his funeral, “He was not a man of many words.” So, the things I learned from my dad did not come by him sitting with me and teaching me.  Nor did the lessons come from him discussing these things over and over again. The transfer happened by how he lived his life and who he was down to his very core. 

Since this will be first Father’s Day without him I thought it appropriate to honor my dad in this post. Maybe it will bless you, cause you to pause and think about your own relationship with your father, or stop and thank God for the Father that He is to all of us. Whatever the reason, my hope is that it is will inspire you to think about how you live your life and the impact of how your daily actions can have a profound influence on those around you.

1. Contentment—My dad drove the same car (1965 Ford) for 16 years. I remember this well because sometimes he would take me to the school to ride the bus to an athletic event in Jr High. I remember how embarrassed I was to pull up to the bus with a rusted hood and blankets thrown over the seats. Then one of my friends would ask things like, “Lori, when is your dad going to get a new car?” or, “Don’t you think it’s time for a new car?” I would laugh and they would laugh, but secretly as a teen, I was horrified to get this kind of attention. I remember less than 15 years later reflecting on this event and being thankful that as an adult I didn’t need a snazzy car to make me feel valued as a person. When I did get a new car I remember thinking about questions my dad once asked a young man I was dating about his sports car. “Where will you put the groceries?” The young man was expecting my dad to be enamored with the car and instead I saw his expression deflate as fast as the car would have hit 50 mph! Which brings me to another trait of my father…

2. Practicality—My dad had three questions he would say we should ask before any purchase. 1. Would I use it?  2. How much does it cost?  3. Is it worth it?   In other words, he wanted us to answer the third question based on the first two. Now I will be the first to admit that my dad was practical to a fault. I wish for my dad that he could’ve allowed himself to enjoy some of the luxuries in life a little more. But, I have to say that this side of my dad had a profound impact on me in a positive way.  And now that I am older I often reflect upon the fact that the riches of life make for a much more complicated life as well.

3. Love of Nature—Dad loved the outdoors. He loved to be outside anytime he could. He always had a porch swing attached to an old swing set frame (of course it couldn’t be fancy) where he would swing long and often. I think all the grandchildren have memories of “just a swingin’ with their PaPa.” He loved to garden, grow fruit and loved the 160 acres he and my uncle purchased together once they retired. They tried their hand at cattle, bees, fishing, pecan harvesting and many other things that I have no idea about. We all have many memories from our time there.  Because of experiencing all these things growing up and later in life, I take such comfort in God’s creation. I believe God speaks to us through His creativity in His creation. We just have to take the time to ponder and enjoy it.

4. Hard Work Ethic—My dad worked out of town most of his career. He would be gone almost every week or sometimes weeks at a time.  We lived on several acres, which allowed us to have a huge back yard.  My dad used the adjacent acre for his massive garden he planted each year. My dad would arrive home and spend the weekend mowing and tending the garden only to get back on the road again for the upcoming week or weeks. Still to this day, I get great self-satisfaction from working hard at whatever I do. Being committed to follow through and finish a job when others are depending on you is something I believe the Lord blesses. I am thankful I saw this lived out before me.

5. Generosity—My dad had a saying, “A guy sometimes needs a hand.” Translation—people need help. I saw generosity in my dad. I saw him give to the church and his mother, dole out our lunch money each Sunday night along with allowances, give me money for my sports and cheerleading activities (which wasn’t cheap), pay for my college (an opportunity neither of my parent’s had) and be generous to others. I knew by how we lived we didn’t have much extra money, but my dad was willing to sacrifice to provide for his family and to help others.

Each of the traits I mentioned, reflect attributes that are important to God.

  • Contentment—But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. (1 Timothy 6:6)
  • Practicality—A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel. (Proverbs 1:5)
  • Love of Nature—The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. (Psalms 19:1)
  • Hard Work Ethic—Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise. (Proverbs 6:6)
  • Generosity—A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25) Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

My dad lived a simple life in a complicated world. I am grateful for how God spoke to me and drew me nearer to Himself by magnifying these things in my Dad’s life; just so I would tune in to watch, listen and learn.

Happy Father’s Day Dad…I love you.

Woody (aka Lori) 


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