Daily Devotionals

Remember …

by Daniel Bramlett

The beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on the year that just passed. We spend a lot of time thinking about what we want the next year to look like, how we want it to be different, but if we don’t look back, we tend to just repeat the past. Lots of things in the past year make me smile, some of them make me cry and a bunch of them make me laugh. Looking back reminds me of all the things I love and some of the things I hate. It makes me want to pull the things I love closer and push the things I hate farther away. 

It’s been a year and a few months since my dad died. A part of me still feels like it was yesterday and another part feels like it was so incredibly long ago. I was walking through Bass Pro a few days ago and couldn’t help but think about him. He LOVED that store but we never could convince him to go. He was a pretty strong homebody. But he sure memorized that catalog! He’d have all kinds of pages earmarked and at least one hunting item circled on each page. 

It was easy to remember Dad in the fishing section. He had one pole and one green Ambassador reel. I thought that reel was the most complicated (it was open face), beautiful thing ever. Everything about our fishing experiences reminded me how important my dad was. The hook had to be tied a certain way. The bait had to be put on hook a certain way. When you felt a nibble, you had to move your line a certain way. I couldn’t even take the fish off the hook without his help. We didn’t have a lot of tackle, but I thought what we had was just enough. 

Walking past the binoculars, I couldn’t help but think about the old pair we had. It was almost impossible to focus them without closing one eye. Those things were tough, but my brother and I carried them everywhere. I remember one year we got a pair of Jason binoculars. You’d thought we’d gotten a telescope strong enough to see Mt. Rushmore from our front porch. We didn’t have a single scope for any of our guns. There wasn’t a spotting scope in the house. None of the fancy optical stuff out of the B.P. catalog was ours, but we thought we were pretty hot stuff with that Jason.

I walked past the gun aisle and thought about Dad’s old muzzleloader. For a while I thought it had a flint in it, but it didn’t. It was almost old enough to have one, though. It was a Kirkland and was made to look like the old school long rifles. It was so heavy you couldn’t aim for long. You learned how to aim and shoot pretty quickly. He kept all of his muzzleloading supplies in an old pink pouch with a zipper. He kept his reload powder in empty shell casings and his bullets wrapped in foil. We used t-shirts for wadding. Muzzle hunting was a simple thing at our house, but we loved it, just because my dad made it fun. 

I ended up at the knives. I bet there were 300 knives on display at the Pro store. Dad had one. It was a Buck so big it made my pants sag on the rare occasions he let me carry it. But I just cinched my belt a little tighter. I was big stuff carrying that old Buck. There is no telling how many deer we’ve eaten that saw the sharp end of that knife. 

Our house never did resemble Bass Pro, but that’s ok. I would trade all of the fancy merchandise in the world for a heart full of memories made on those dirt roads in Deann. The smell of Sno Seal on all our boots in October and gun oil in November, the feel of old coveralls and three layers of socks in rifle season, the taste of burned can biscuits and tea way too sweet, hearing Dad say “Watch where you point that gun” or “Check your safety one more time”… these memories are my treasures. 

I look back on 2023 and see some grief. There have been tears and sadness. But there has also been a lot of laughter. There have been changes, mostly good. The TV isn’t always on the Western or The Weather Channel anymore and that’s ok. As I think about my dad I’m more determined than ever to be a loving father to my kids. I’m also quickly reminded of my Heavenly Father who walks closer to me than my earthly dad ever could. And even though I can’t hold the hand of the one who called me Pard this year, the hand of my other Dad hasn’t let me go. 

I pray your new year is full of new beginnings and cherished lessons learned. I pray you live more thoughtfully and in less of a hurry this year than last. I pray your heart is full of memory and hope, not just because of the people you love(d) here, but because of the One who loves you still and is preparing a place for you as we speak. That Home will carry more memory and treasure than this one ever thought about containing. If you are determined to do anything new this year, I pray it involves thinking more about Heaven and asking God to fit you for it. 

I thank God for all those out there who had good, godly moms and dads. Remember them by living like them this year. For those who did not have this treasure, know that our faithful Father is ready to wrap you up and lead you through. 2023 is a year for you to lean on Him; to trust Him in all things. He’s ready now. Let’s make some memories.

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