Always Included


How do I describe the man who made an indelible mark on my life? How do I honor the man who, with my mother, chose me for adoption? 

It’s hard to find the words to paint an accurate picture for you. So first I’ll tell you a little bit about him. 

My dad is an outgoing person who knows someone everywhere he goes. He loves country music, the Smoky Mountains, and breakfast food. He has always enjoyed a Sunday drive and still enjoys long rides in his convertible with my mom. 

My dad is a man who loves sports, and he taught me how to ride a bike, play softball, and even explained football. He dedicated his life to educating kids and coaching Cross Country and track. He also spent many years as an Athletic Director.

He enjoys his property and taking care of the yard, tractors and motorcycles, and spending time with his grandchildren. 

Raising four daughters and one son meant attending countless dance recitals, school programs and athletic events. 

My dad has been so many things to so many people, but there is something I hold dear that came from living with him.

He always made me feel included. 

Dad included my sister, my brother and me in just about everything he did. I’m sure sometimes it was out of necessity, but it never seemed that way to me.

He always made me feel like I was a part of what he was doing. Whether it was painting the house, checking in on a neighbor, or going to a Saturday morning breakfast, I was always welcome to join in. I learned so much from helping on house projects, going to the hardware store, and watching how he interacted with people. I was never an add-on and he never fumbled around to fit me in.

When he was a coach, dad took me to Cross Country practices because I wanted to be a part of that world. It would have been so easy for him to tell me this was for the big kids and that he had to focus on coaching them. But he didn’t cast me aside, he took me with him, answered my questions, and even let me run with the team (they lapped me several times). 

When I was old enough to run Cross Country myself, my dad was no longer the coach, but he was there at every meet. I wasn’t the fastest runner, but he was always there to support and encourage me.

Now that I am a parent it is an absolute joy to watch my dad include my boys in what he is doing. They are now the ones going to the hardware store where my dad knows everyone! They are getting to help out with projects around the house, and sit around the fire with my dad. Memories are being made and now they get to be included .

My dad reminded this insecure girl time and time again that there was always room for her in his life. He is an amazing person, but it isn’t just because he’s a nice guy. Dad is able to live this way because of what Jesus has done in his life.

The message that changed his life, and then mine is that we are forgiven through Jesus’ death on the cross, and when we accept that gift of salvation our sins are forgiven. Romans 3:23-24 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is Christ Jesus.” 

Friend, I don’t know how things are for you and your dad but I can tell you this. You are always invited and always included by God. He will never fumble around to fit you in. You already have a seat at the table. All you have to do is say yes. 

Michelle Flaningan
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