Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Tribute to My Dad – Ronnie Freeman

As I have grown older, I have learned that just as important as not forgetting people, times and experiences - is remembering! I feel that too often we say “I don’t ever want to forget ...”, yet we don’t stop often enough to say “remember when”.

Today, July 14th 2009, I want to celebrate and remember my daddy – Ronnie Freeman. It was 18 years ago today that my dad went home to be with the Lord. Not a day has gone by that I have not missed him, and even more, missed all the experiences that he has missed here on earth. Yet, I am confident that he has been resting at the feet of the Lord. I would not in my selfishness, bring him back and take him away from peace and paradise.
Over the years, this day has been sad, difficult, happy, emotional and I guess really every feeling in between – yet today I choose to celebrate! I would like to invite you to celebrate my sweet daddy with me! For he is gone, but not forgotten. Today I want to stop and take the time to remember!

For many years now I have prayed that God would open the door and show me a way to pay tribute to one of the greatest men I have ever known. When daddy died, I was so young (although at the time I did not think 19 was young). After daddy’s death, life as I knew it changed in so many ways and life just moved forward. Watching pieces of the tribute to Michael Jackson last week, God placed on my heart how I could finally pay tribute to my dad. Now, for those of you who knew my dad really well, will know he is up in heaven shaking his head. It is pretty funny that it hit me during the tribute to Michael! Needless to say, my dad was not his biggest fan! I have loved reconnecting via facebook with friends from times gone by. I know that facebook is an excellent forum in which I can share with so many, who I know daddy’s life touched. Today, I would like to invite you to honor, celebrate and remember my dad – Ronnie Freeman.

Again for those of you who knew my dad well, knew that he was not a perfect man but he was a great man. Ronnie Freeman did everything in life at 1000%. He gave everything his all. He worked hard, he played hard, he loved with all his being, he laughed hard, he gave above and beyond, he got mad hard, he was stubborn and difficult hard, but he also forgave fully as well. There does not seem to be a day that goes by that I don’t catch my self quoting him (of course saying something I swore I would never say), thinking of what he might do about a situation, and giving thanks for the strong work ethic and determination that he gave me. I pray I can pass on his legacy to his grandchildren.

It truly is a gift to simply just remember. When I look into the eyes of my precious husband Kip, I can remember the great love that my dad had for my mom. Daddy would be so very proud of and thankful for Kip and the way he loves and cares for me and our family. When I look at my grandmother, MeMe, I pray that my children will love and respect me the way that he did his mother. I pray that they will be as caretaking and loving as he was a son. When I look at our little girls, Audrey and Gracie, I remember being about 5 years old. Daddy was having me load bricks in a wheelbarrow and move them from the back of the house to the front. I remember looking at him and telling him it was just too hard for “his little girl”. Daddy said “Yes it’s hard, but my little girl is going to know how to work.” The funny thing is I know he would spoil those two little girls rotten! When I look into the eyes of our third child, our son Ty, I can see that God has blessed me with returning so many of daddy’s qualities in our little man. Ty not only looks so much like daddy when he was his age, he also lives life like there is no tomorrow and is always in fast motion. He has daddy’s passion! (Please pray for us!) When I look at our little Ben, with all his special needs, I can’t help but to think of my dad’s arms that could bring so much comfort at times. I could still crawl up into his lap until the day he died, yes at 19, and watch TV or just talk. I remember how wonderful and comforting it felt to crawl into my daddy’s lap and I can only imagine the peace and love his arms would have given little Ben.

Whenever I am scrubbing something in my home, I can close my eyes and remember the fun times we had scrubbing black road soot from the top of a mobile home to the bottom when it was delivered to the lot. When I take out the trash, I can just see daddy standing in the driveway scrubbing his trash cans inside and out, a task which seemed to be weekly. When I walk into my messy closet, I can just hear him saying “Holly Anne” and shaking his head. Yes - Daddy loved to work, but I love the memories of us doing it together. I also love to think about the times we laughed and played! We loved to play monopoly, of course he always cheated! I love to remember fun trips to Tennessee when we hit the outlet stores and bought so much we had to stuff the dirty clothes in every crevice left in the trunk to make it home. I remember our trips to the beach, especially one to Galveston – but some stories are better left untold.  I love to remember our amazing trips to Hawaii and overseas! I love to remember our last vacation as a family to Northwest Arkansas – which is now where I live. So often I stop to think of how very blessed I was to have a dad who worked so hard to give me a life of such opportunities and blessings.

I even stop to reflect often on the hard times - the times that most people would like to just stuff away and forget. For I have grown and learned more in the darkest and most difficult valleys of my life, than I could have ever learned on the mountain tops. I love Psalms 23, especially verse 4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” What hope and peace! “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”- Psalm 34:1 For it truly is those dark valleys that I walked through 18 years ago and times since; and wonderful mountain tops for which God has blessed me with many; that have taught me to love and trust in my Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart! I would not be who I am today if it were not for all the darkest of darkness and the glory of the mountain tops combined! I praise God for always being in control and working things together for His glory and His good!

As I celebrate daddy today, I want to share what I truly believe my dad would share with you if he could send a heavenly email. (Of course he would have to have help with the computer – he would have never gotten it!) As I said earlier to those of you who knew him well, you knew that he lived life at 1000%. I praise God most for the last year and a half of my daddy’s life and especially the last few months. For it was that time that my dad truly loved the Lord and was serving Him 1000%. There are some things that we will just not understand this side of heaven and my dad’s early departure from this earth is just one of those things. But I do know, that in my dad’s bible were the names of so many he was praying for daily. I do know that he was growing in the Lord in so many ways. I do know that he had begged for forgiveness for those of us he that he had been so hard on at times. I do know that more than anything else in the world he desired to love and serve the Lord, his God, with all of his heart, soul and mind.

So if he could speak today, I believe he would tell you that nothing, no circumstance, no situation is too big for God. There is nothing hopeless in the Lord Jesus Christ! Romans 15:13 says “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I do know that he would tell you to never give up and never choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I do know that he would want you to know the love and hope a Savior that can cleanse and heal even the dirtiest and most broken of spirits. He would tell you to make the most of each day you have here on this earth. To take time to smell the roses, enjoy and love your family with every ounce of your being. To serve and love the Lord with your whole heart, to give to those around you and never ever give up! I am also confident that for those of you who may be reading this and do not know the hope and unconditional love that only the Lord Jesus Christ can give in an instant; is ready and available to you! John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him, will not perish but have everlasting life”. He is our hope and He is our life-line in this crazy world! And the greatest thing - He is right there waiting at all times, no matter what!

So as I pay tribute to and celebrate my daddy, Ronnie Freeman today; I would like to say that I was so blessed to be his daughter. I am so thankful for all he taught and instilled in me. I am so honored to be able to stop today to celebrate and remember with others that knew him, a great man!

I try to keep my dad’s memories alive with my husband and our four precious children. If you have any stories or laughs about my dad, I would love to hear them as my family & I celebrate him!

Thank you for helping me to celebrate and pay tribute to my daddy!

In His love,

Holly Freeman Clarke