My Papa is so loved. After less than a week in the hospital, the hospice unit nurse said she would certainly miss him when he is discharged from the hospital, and will cry when he’s gone.

So sweet.

I’m glad other people get the honor of knowing and loving him, because knowing and loving James Louis Clark is definitely an honor. One of the biggest things he’s taught me is how to love well, and what it’s like to BE loved well. He never misses an opportunity to tell me that I am treasured, adored, precious, wonderful, etc. He’s been my biggest fan, and my best PR person. And throughout my life, he’s the one I knew I could always call for ANYTHING – no matter how outrageous – like an impromptu ride the airport in the middle of the night, or a place to live (more than a few times). He once drove 16 hours straight across 4 state lines just to escort me across the football field for Homecoming court. I couldn’t have been more proud to have him standing by my side that night – him in a suit, me in a dress with a gigantic Texas mum attached to my hip. I could share countless stories of his selflessness, sacrifice, and generosity. In this world, it’s rare to find a man you can depend on and admire. I’m so grateful for his example.

I’ve heard it said that unless you’ve been loved well by people in your life, specifically a father figure, it can be very hard to understand God’s love in that way. I think I struggled with that idea for awhile, because my relationship with my biological Dad is not as close. But when it dawned on me (thank you Mike Yearly) that “Abba” is actually a slang/familial word meaning “Papa,” I understood God’s love in a whole new way. As John Burke (not my uncle, but a different John Burke) wrote in Soul Revolution:

“You’ve never experienced a love whose source did NOT originate in God’s love for you.”

This means I have a God who thinks I’m treasured, adored, precious, wonderful, etc. I have a God who is on my side, who I can count on for anything, who is the ultimate generous giver. What an amazing gift. And I am forever grateful to my Papa for showing me what it means to love and be loved well, by both an earthy and Heavenly “Abba.”