My husband, Steve, served for 29 years in Law Enforcement for the State of California. His colleagues and friends organized his retirement party at The Hilton in Sacramento. 140 guests and dignitaries attended that night to honor Steve. It was our understanding that our son, Caleb, was going to read a poem he'd found online, and Zac was going to ask the blessing for the meal. We were stunned and moved to tears at what followed. First Caleb announced he had WRITTEN a poem for his dad:
"I’m very proud to call, such a fine man my dad
I know the father you’ve been, is a gift that I’ve had
Your profession is not one of glamour, nor did it hold any fame
But it has been a profession that I’ve been proud of all the same
I have always loved to say, that my father was a cop
It was something that my friends, could really never top
We never lived a flashy life, but you provided food and comfort
And when your kids stepped out of line, it was us you did exhort.
A loving home, a healthy family, these are what we enjoyed
It was due to your selfless leading, theses experiences were employed.
You sit tonight here, with family and friends around
It’s the eve of your retirement, and their support and love abound
You have worked so very hard, these past many years,
You have now gotten to this place, and tonight there may be tears,
But to me there lies a wonder, a wonder of your career
Much of it I’ll never know, because your humility was sincere.
I have never heard you brag, or boast at your success
I have only seen there benefits, on how your faithfulness has been blessed.
You have always been a role model, whether in life, career, or deed.
You raised your kids in love, and because of this we will succeed.
You have been an officer of peace, and this is interesting to me,
Because the Bible speaks of peace, the Lord gives to those set free.
You my dad have been, a blessing from the Lord,
You have helped give us a peaceful life, your family has been in accord,
You’re my pop, my dad, my father, my leader and my friend,
To you this night we’ll honor but, it’s a new beginning, not the end."
January 12, 2012
Then Zac took the mike and said:
"How are you guys? My name is Zac, the older brother of the Ernst boys.I know many of you know dad as a professional in ABC and much of tonight is celebrating his incredible career. But I would like to highlight a more subversive and unseen side to this man.
Now that I have a family of my own, I am all too familiar with two main challenges in the balance of work and family.
One challenge is leaving work at work, and not carrying the stresses of the job into the home. Dad was exceptional at this. Growing up I can not recall a single time where he blew his lid, snapped, or came down on any of us kids because of work related pressures. Now, me being an idiot, that is another story ; ) He definitely was in the parenting camp that you spare the rod, you spoil the child. ; )
The second challenge in balancing work and family is time management. I always had a "present" father.
A father who put his family first,
Who coached nearly every sport I played,
Who would leave work to be with me in hospital after an injury,
Who took me out to get extra practice in what ever I was doing,
Who encouraged me to strive for excellence
Who loves his wife for better or worse, and made sure we knew how a woman is to be treated and loved,
He served and serves faithfully in the church
He even played Joseph at the Christmas play. Did you know this guy can act? ;-)
Steve Ernst is the greatest model of a father I have ever known or seen. He was/ is passionate about it.
Now Dad, I apologize in advance if I am getting too personal, but I have to share a quick story that demonstrates this. A few years ago dad and I were looking through some of his old boxes from high school. In it we found a letter or project of some-kind that asked, what is your dream? This 17 year old's answer was," to raise kids and be a dad".What teenager is passionate about one day being a father?
A damn good one!
Let's raise our glasses to my role model who has set the father bar so high, Steve Ernst.
Jesus, thank you for this evening to celebrate dad and his career. We ask that you join us to tonight and be in our midst. Let this night be a special one for him. One where he will feel appreciated and loved. I know you are already answering this by seeing the attendance tonight, but I pray this evening he will be lifted up and honored for his success as a husband, father, and servant to the State of California.
I thank you for blessing us with dad because we are all better in one way or another for simply knowing him.
Lord we all look forward to many, many years to come enjoying Dads wisdom, love, friendship, and example. I ask that you seal this evening for him, and let the appreciation he receives tonight be carried with him the rest of his life.
Jesus, you ask us to give thanks when we break bread, so Lord Thank you for the food we are about to receive, and please bless the people who prepared it and are graciously serving us. You are a good God and we love you. Amen."
January 12, 2012
We were undone. The evening went on, with a delicious meal and a program of many people coming forward to present Steve with various awards and accolades, along with a slide show of his life.
And at the end it was Steve's turn to speak. To tell stories about his experiences in his 29 year career,
to thank everyone for coming~ how blessed and humbled he was by the outpouring of love and respect.
A friend of ours who has been retired for many years said "When you retire, you go from Who's Who, to Who's That?" And I suppose in some cases that may feel that way. But Steve has the satisfaction of knowing of a job well done in his career..
But an even greater satisfaction of knowing he did it without comprimising his relationship with his family. Not an easy feat. Steve had a little plaque on his desk at work that read : "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippeans 4:13
I believe that was his secret to his success in life~that he submitted his life to God and then set out to accomplish the task before him..what ever it was.
He never knew the extraodinary impact he had on his children until that night..when they honored him with their words.
Steve's brother, Monty, and Steve's mom, DarLou
Zac and Amy..(Lindy was with a sitter)
Amy and Courtney...sisters-in-love ;-)
My dad (almost 91 years old!) and his lovely wife, Leilani.
And you know me..gotta share the tablescape!! ;-)
I hope to share a tutorial on the centerpiece soon!!
Here are Steve's awards, now hanging in our home office..reminding us of this wonderful night!
And us..still blissfully happy and head-over-heels in love~~even after 34 years together!!
And it seems retirement suits us, although we're not exactly sitting outside watching the grass grow..I feel like we've hit the ground running. New adventures and opportunities have opened up for us.
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!!