Last week, we, his children and grand babies, got to celebrate his life. He spent his actual birthday doing what he has been doing faithfully for 30 years—loving, leading and mentoring his students, this time at the high school retreat. He shows unconditional love. He is a gardener. A life-long learner. An administrator. A teacher. A papa. A good friend. A brother. An uncle. A son. A father. A husband.
I have always known his wisdom. I have seen it in him for as long as I can remember. I have always seen that his wisdom is paired with compassion and genuine conviction. It is not an empty wisdom, rather it is full and rich with action and devotion. I have always seen his deep and captivated love for Jesus and his faith. I always remember looking up to him and seeking his guidance, advice and wisdom.
I always remember his hard work for his family. Always providing. Not just financially, but emotionally and spiritually. He and mom worked so hard to create memories and precious moments in our childhood that still resonate in our hearts. Our home was a safe place. A peaceful place. A place filled with love, and a place where Jesus was always made known, not blatantly but gently and constantly, like whispers riding on the wind.
I will always remember how, as his girls have grown, we have seen him step into the role of ‘papa’ with all the joy and adoration that love can hold. From tickle monster to camp fires to setting the tent up in the living room to snuggles to kisses, he loves his grand babies so well and so full. I am so thankful for his role in our babies lives.
And perhaps in the most pinnacle moment of his faith lived out, other than seeing Jesus face to face…… I will forever remember on June 18th, 2016 his strength, raw emotions and his faith being pressured and worn and beaten, but still he never wavered. It’s a day I wish we never walked, more so for him than anyone else. It’s a day where we stood next to death, unable to comprehend what our hearts were feeling. It is a day that held a moment in which we said good bye; he said good bye to his beloved—we gathered around the one who had nurtured and affirmed us. The who had birthed life. We gathered around her precious body, her beautiful hands and gentle face, we gathered as she breathed her last and her heart beat it’s last. And in that moment, that very raw, painful, agonizing moment, I saw my father torn in two, saying good bye to the one for whom his heart soared—the one with which he had become one.
In the days that followed I watched this man, whom I have adored all my life, this incredible man continue to lead his family, while mourning fully the deepest loss his heart has and will ever know. I saw this man declare the faithfulness of the Lord and the power in the name of Jesus.
I am so proud of him—proud that even in the mist of death and a million questions, mostly starting and ending with ‘why’, he chose to stand with Jesus, as he has done all his life. He chose to live out his faith built on many years of hard work, he chose to declare that even if the Lord’s answer is ‘no’, He is still Good, and Able, and The Healer. Satan lost, again, that day, June 18th, 2016, just as he did on the day Jesus rose on the third day. And he has lost every day since then, because of the incredible leadership and faith of our patriarch, J.L. Brown.
Happy Birthday, dad. You are a good, good man and it is our joy to celebrate your life. You are so loved by so many.