A Father’s Legacy

For Mother’s Day, I wrote a piece for a local magazine on lessons I learned from my mom. I was asked to write a similar article for Father’s Day.  I’m so thankful for my dad, and for Grant’s dads! God has been good to us.
Below is the piece I wrote for the magazine. You can view the online version here.
 
A Father’s Legacy
Every father makes an impression on his children, but not every father leaves a legacy. Between the two of us, my husband and I have three dads who have left lasting legacies in our lives. While our dads are different in many ways, each possess character qualities that set them apart as remarkable men, which in turn, make them extraordinary fathers.
Integrity & Character
My husband, Grant, was two years old when his dad, Kelly, died in a Marine Corps plane crash. His parents were stationed in Beaufort at the time, and his dad flew F-4 fighter jets. It was just an ordinary day when Grant’s mom, Susan, kissed her husband good-bye when he left for work that morning.  She didn’t know she was kissing Kelly good-bye for the last time. Later that day, during a routine exercise, two jets lost sight of each other in mid-air and collided.  Two of the four pilots survived. But two of them, including Grant’s dad, lost their lives. One moment, my husband had a father, and the next moment, he did not. It would seem that Grant wouldn’t remember his dad very much since he was only a toddler when he died, but surprisingly, he has several fond memories of him. Grant remembers his dad chasing him around their house and arranging for the fire truck on Laurel Bay to visit for his two-year-old birthday party. Although Grant didn’t understand the details that took his dad’s life, he remembers crying day after day when he slowly came to realize that he didn’t have a daddy anymore. Even more than what Grant remembers about his dad, it’s what he’s been told about Kelly that has shaped Grant into the man and father that he is today.  Grant’s mom shared with him the type of man Kelly was, and the kind of man Grant needed to grow up to be.  One of the stories she shared with him about his dad helped guide Grant through his growing up years. One weekend, Kelly’s squadron had a mandatory function at a beach house. The pilots were told not to bring their wives because they would be receiving their call signs. When Kelly arrived home to Grant’s mom after the weekend was over, he was noticeably upset. Susan asked him what was wrong. Kelly went on to explain that the function turned wild, and strippers were brought to the party. Kelly told Susan that he couldn’t leave since it was a mandatory function, so he sat in a corner of the room all evening with his hand over his eyes. “Seriously… that’s what you did?” Susan asked, dumbfounded that he was able to do that in a crowded party faced with much temptation. “Yes,” Kelly replied. After Kelly’s death, someone gave Grant’s mom a photograph taken of Kelly during that function. While you can’t see much, Kelly is visible in the back of the room, his hand over his eyes. That photograph sat on Grant’s desk all throughout high school. And now it sits on his bedroom dresser in our home. It’s a reminder to him to stand for what is good and right and true no matter what, just like his dad did. Even though Kelly has been dead for over 25 years, he left a legacy that continues to impact not only my husband, but me as well.
 
Compassion & Love
When Grant’s dad died, a young Marine Officer who had known Kelly, was deeply grieved over Kelly’s tragic death. His heart immediately went out to Grant and Susan. He prayed that God would provide a new father for Grant and comfort Susan in the days ahead. What he didn’t know was that one day he would be the answer to his own prayer. Four years later, he married Grant’s mom. Grant’s new dad, Preston, loved Grant like his own son. Grant immediately started calling him “daddy” without hesitation. “I was just so happy to have a dad again,” Grant explains, recalling those years. Even though Preston loved Grant as his own flesh and blood, he encouraged Grant to keep his dad’s last name. Preston thought it was important for Grant to carry on Kelly’s name and legacy. He wanted to honor the sacred place Grant would always hold in his heart for his first dad. Preston wasn’t in competition for Grant’s love or affection. He had a genuine love and compassion for Grant and his mom. He wanted to honor all that had happened in the past as well as help shape Grant into the man he needed to be in the future. Preston exhibited the true heart of a father; one filled with a protective and sacrificial love. When Grant talks about all that his dad, Preston, did for him, his eyes fill with tears, “He did so much that he didn’t have to do.” When Preston married Susan, he wasn’t merely beginning a new family; he was marrying into one that had already begun. Stepping into a family that has already been established is not an easy task. Yet Preston was willing to continue the legacy that Kelly started, and in doing so, he is leaving one in Grant’s life that will never be forgotten.
 
Faithfulness & Endurance
I was four years old when my dad became a pastor. That’s what I’ve always known him to be. When I was little, I didn’t really understand all that went into his calling to pastoral ministry. Now that I’m an adult, it’s amazing to see how faithful my dad has been to preach the Bible week in and week out for so many years, even when it’s not popular. I’ve heard my dad say numerous times, “The Christian life is not a fifty yard dash, it’s a marathon.” My dad taught me that running well is not necessarily about how I start, but instead, how I finish. Even more than my dad’s faithfulness to ministry, his faithfulness as a husband and a father has impacted me the most. My dad has been faithful to my mom for the thirty-two years they have been married. Not only is he committed to her, I know that he loves her more than anyone else in this world. As a child, I never once had to worry about whether or not my parents would stay married. Their commitment to one another created stability that grounded me. Even as a little girl, I knew I wanted to marry a man who would love me as much as my dad loved my mom. When I became engaged to Grant, numerous people told me, “Wow, he reminds me of your dad!” At first, I said, “Really?” And then I recognized how right they were. My dad set a standard for the type of man I wanted to marry. Grant is like my dad in many ways, and that’s one of the reasons why I love him so much. My dad imparted a legacy of faithfulness that dramatically affects the way my life is today.
As this Father’s Day approaches, who are the men in your life who have been true fathers to you? Maybe your dad has passed away, but he has left a legacy in your life that you will never forget. Maybe your dad is someone who took you in and loved you as his own when he didn’t have to. Or maybe your dad is someone that has shown you by his life and words what it means to live a life of faithfulness. Our world needs men of integrity, men of compassion, and men of faithfulness. Any father can leave an impression on his children; but it takes someone special to leave a legacy.
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A Photograph

I was 17 years old. I sat in a lawn chair that I had pulled down from the deck in our backyard. I sat facing the river and marsh. I had a copy of Elisabeth Elliot’s book, Shadow of the Almighty.
In the first few pages of the book, Elisabeth Elliot talks about how Christians today have a great lack of spiritual heroes.
When you ask the average young person (who is a Christian), to list their heroes, sadly, very few have a list of men and women of faith.
I remember Elisabeth talking about the great need for Christians to have heroes in the faith. Those whom we not only respect, but we want to be like. And how having heroes is so necessary for spiritual growth.
I sat in the yard that afternoon, and I thought about who my spiritual heroes were. I even made a list. That list included my parents and a couple older and wiser friends, several pastors and teachers, and a few of my favorite Biblical heroes. I listed out different character qualities that made me want to be like those people.
As I think back on the past 10 years of my life since that day, I know that having those spiritual heroes has helped to shape me into the person I am today.
I was thinking about spiritual heroes this past week because it was the anniversary of the death of Grant’s father, Kelly. Without a doubt, Kelly Castleberry is one of Grant’s greatest heroes (along with the father who raised him, Preston. Preston is the man whom his mother married 4 years after Kelly died).
There is a picture in our hallway upstairs that is a testimony to the heroism that Kelly holds in Grant’s life. Let me tell you the story behind it:
Kelly was a F-4 pilot in the Marine Corps. One weekend his squadron had a mandatory function at a beach house in N.C. The pilots were told not to bring their wives because they would be receiving their call signs (a nickname given to a military pilot).
 
When Kelly arrived home to Grant’s mom after the weekend was over, he was noticeably upset. Susan asked him what was wrong. Kelly went on to explain how awful the function was. The function turned wild, and unbeknownst to him, strippers were brought into the party to perform. Susan asked him what he did. Kelly went on to explain that since he couldn’t leave since it was a mandatory function, he sat in one corner of the room all evening with his hand over his eyes.
 
Seriously… that’s what you did?” Susan asked unable to believe that he was able to do that in a crowded party with so much temptation. “Yes,” Kelly replied.
 
After Kelly’s death, someone gave Grant’s mom a photograph. In the photograph you can see Kelly at the party. While you can’t see the strippers, you can see Kelly in the back of the room, his hand over his eyes.
 
That photograph sat on Grant’s desk all throughout high school. It meant the world to Grant.
 
It reminded Grant daily, that just like his father, he must stand for Christ. And now, every time I go upstairs, it reminds me too.
 
Hebrews 13:7 says,
 
“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”
 
We need spiritual heroes.
 
But of course, our greatest hero is not a person. If we idolize one single person, they will inevitably let us down. After all, they are sinners just like we are.
 
But we do have One who is a perfect spiritual hero. One that we can follow completely and wholeheartedly.
 
“Let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. (Heb. 12:1-2)
 
I’m thankful this week for those who have led me, taught me, and been godly examples in my life. I’m thankful for photographs, notes, godly wisdom, prayers, and encouragement from godly family and friends.
 
My list of heroes hasn’t changed since that day in my parent’s backyard when I was 17, but it has grown.
 
And most of all, I’m thankful that those people have pointed me to my greatest hero, Jesus Christ.
 

God As a Perfect Father

I love hearing Grant preach. This is a sermon that he gave when he was a sophomore in college. One of the things that I love about Grant is how genuine his heart is for Christ. I feel like that always comes through, especially when he gives a talk or preaches.
I love this sermon because it reminds me that God is my perfect Father, and that He truly cares about my life. I think Grant has a unique perspective on this because of the time in his life when he was fatherless.
(note – I had to convert this audio file to a video file to post it on my blog. That’s why there’s a random pic at the beginning and about 10 sec of silence 🙂 )

Full Circle

When Grant was two years old he lived in Beaufort. He remembers the park in Laurel Bay and his two-year-old birthday party when his dad got the fire truck on base to come down to their house for the afternoon. Pretty cool for a bunch of little boys, right? Grant has more memories in Beaufort. Good memories and bad memories. Grant remembers crying and finding out that he didn’t have a daddy anymore. His dad was a fighter pilot and died in a mid-air collision off the coast of Georgia. While Grant didn’t know those details, he does remember receiving his dad’s flight helmet at the Beaufort National Cemetery.

Grant remembers visiting Beaufort when he was seventeen years old to see his dad’s memorial for the first time since he was a little boy. He remembers meeting me. Supposedly, he wanted to date me then but thought that “Dr. Broggi” would never allow it. I’m not so sure he thought that then, but he says he does and Grant never tells a lie. I remember meeting him too. I remember that he was wearing cowboy boots and a maroon button up shirt, and khakis and he acted shy around me. And of course I remembered his name, because it’s not a very common one and my brother shares the same. Grant also remembers that my dad taught on false prophets that Sunday and that it was one of the best sermons he’d ever heard.

When I visited Grant’s parents’ house in Midland last year before we got married I read one of Grant’s prayer journals. He wrote down a list of places that helped him feel close to the Lord. Number one or two on the list was Beaufort. He also prayed that God would give him a future wife whose heart would be “prepared for ministry.”

When Grant joined the Marine Corps right out of college (before we started dating) he put Beaufort as his number one choice to be stationed. He didn’t get it. He got Japan instead. But before long he did get a Beaufort girl. The day before we got married, Grant held a memorial service in honor of his father at the Beaufort National Cemetery for family and friends. It was very special to see how things had come full circle. Here we were, back in the same place his dad and mom had been so many years ago. And here Grant was, no longer a little boy grieving his father’s death by an empty marker, but a grown man honoring his dad and his family not just by his words, but by his life.

We got married in Beaufort. I said during the preparation of our wedding that I seriously doubted that my wedding day would be “the best day of my life” as so many girls make it out to be. But it was. It was that good. God had brought us together and at the altar when I pledged my life to Grant forever I slipped the same ring on his finger that his mom had slipped on his dad’s finger many years ago – the bond that only death broke. And as I put that ring on his finger, I knew that only death would ever break our covenant before God.

So why all these thoughts about Beaufort? It’s just been what going through my head all day long.

See – Grant and I are moving this summer. When we filled out our preferences we knew where we wanted to go. Would we dare ask? Was it too much to hope for? But as I read last night in Genesis 18, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

Nothing is too hard for the Lord. It’s just a matter of what the Lord decides. The Lord decided to send us to Beaufort. We are so excited.