~by Michelle

I loved Sister Elaine Dalton’s talk from General Conference this last weekend. I can testify to the power of righteous fathers and the importance of priesthood presiding in the home because I was raised by the kind of father Sister Dalton describes. I am convinced that part of the reason I am so passionate and confident about the power of womanhood in God’s plan is because of my father. Following are some of the ways my dad exhibited righteous fatherhood and manhood.

First and foremost, I have never doubted my dad’s faith and testimony. He is a stalwart example of faith in Jesus Christ, in His gospel, and in Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. His life has been dedicated to the things that matter most. My dad has been deliberate about sharing his faith with us. Whenever I read Alma 32, I think of him. (It’s a chapter in the Book of Mormon about how faith is a like a seed.) I love to hear him talk about the gospel. He teaches and testifies with power and conviction. I know that my dad knows.

He sings his faith as well. He took me to our ward choir practices from the time I was a young girl. I am sure that is part of why choral singing became such a love for me. Singing has played a significant role in my life and my faith. Just a few years ago, he rejoiced in the opportunity to sing in one of our church‘s General Conferences. (You can read more about his experience, and enjoy some of his testimony in this post: Singing in General Conference.) I’m still waiting for him to write a song about Alma 32. (hint, hint)

I have always known I could ask my dad for a priesthood blessing. Even now, though I can and do ask my husband for blessings, every few months when my dad stays with us for a night while he attends local meetings, both my husband and I make it a point to ask him for father’s blessings. I will never outgrow my appreciation of feeling my Dad’s strong hands gently laid on my head as he seeks inspiration and speaks with power, love, and faith. These blessings have always been a guide and an anchor for me. And sometimes they have been nothing short of prophetic. I feel strong glimpses of Heavenly Father’s love and my eternal worth when my dad gives me blessings.

I remember monthly PPIs (“personal priesthood interviews”) growing up, held on fast Sundays (the first Sunday of the month). Dad would let us talk about whatever was on our mind. Because I knew that was built into our routine, I would often reserve the most tender and private concerns during my growing-up years for these interviews. My dad was called as a bishop (a leader of a local congregation) when I was 14. For many teens, that might have seemed like a nightmare or embarrassment, but for me, it was a comfort and blessing. Not only could I talk to my dad as my dad, but I could receive his counsel as my bishop. I struggled with self-esteem issues when I was a teen, as many do. But my dad helped me have confidence in myself, and in my growing testimony, which I also sometimes doubted.

Dad made it a priority to be home, which meant that the delicious and regular meals mom made were regularly enjoyed as a family. Now that I’m a mom, I appreciate so much more what that really meant — what my parents made happen every night. Family rituals matter.

Dad has always been a good provider, which enabled my mom to stay home — something that was a blessing for our family, and continues to bear fruit a generation beyond. There aren’t words to express the gratitude I feel for my parents in how they worked together to do what was right for our family, in faith.

My father loves my mother. It’s something I’ve always known, because it is shown and expressed regularly. For example, my parents have gone out on weekly dates since before I can remember. I didn’t always love that as the oldest child left to babysit, but the message was clear: Marriage matters. Mom matters. Love matters.

I’m the oldest of four girls. Never have I felt “less than” because I was a girl. Never did we hear Dad pine for boys. In fact, he has such a tender love and unfettered enthusiasm for his daughters that he’ll talk about us anytime someone gives him the chance! I think we all ended up knowing that women matter to God because the women in Dad’s life matter so much to him.

My dad has been a champion of me and my dreams throughout my life. I was just remembering a photo of him in shirt and tie (home early from work), with hands grasping the chain link fence as he watched me in a high school tennis match. I can still remember his whoop when I got my mission call (it might have had something to do with the fact that we served in the same country!). When I told him about my idea to get an MBA, he was first to cheer me on and help make that happen. He continues to reinforce me now as I am seeking to dedicate my life to my family and to my faith, and to service. I have loved serving with him on a college advisory board; he is an advocate of using skills and resources for service, of “giving back.” I am touched to hear him talk about reading this site every day — a simple way to show support for his daughter.

So I hope he is reading today. I love you, Dad. Because of you, I know that priesthood presiding is not something to be feared, but something that incorporates all that is good about God and His plan — faith, testimony, equal partnership, sacrifice, responsibility, diligence, righteousness, personal excellence, service, family relationships, support, respect, and love.

I know you’d be the first to say you’re not perfect, but you are so very, very good. And I am so grateful to be your daughter.