Happy Father’s Day, Mr. Janke

Originally published June 17, 2012

It used to be that I dreaded Father’s Day!  I hated going to church on that day and being surrounded by all the picture perfect families, their picture perfect clothes, picture perfect smiles and what appeared to be their picture perfect lives.  Picture perfect was not something I had experienced in the area of a father-daughter relationship.  I was in the minority there…a child from a broken home. My mom was wonderful and made so many sacrifices for me.  However, I’m sure you’ll agree…fathers are important.

Lori Grad asst crpd

That dread of father’s day continued into adulthood.  It didn’t seem to matter that people told me that God was my father…a champion of the fatherless.  For a time, it didn’t seem to help seeing our own family and the wonderful example that John was as a father to our children.  Then, one day…through a multitude of circumstances and events, God reminded me that I had experienced a father-daughter relationship with an “adopted father”…someone who chose to care about me, to take an interest in me, to take time to listen and advise, and to do all of that even though I wasn’t his “real” daughter.

I will be forever grateful for Mr. Dan Janke.  I played the piano for the Junior Church program that he oversaw and each Sunday he would drive to my house, pick me up early and take me in so that we could be there on time when the children began to arrive.  Those rides were jam packed with conversations regarding boys, challenges, Biblical principles, God, and my plans and hopes for the future.  He listened…he cared…he took the time to invest in me…to see potential that others seemed to overlook.  He warned me and cautioned me in areas that needed to be spoken into at various points in my life. He came to my games (and his son’s games) and sat in the stands and cheered for us.  He was there…always there.

What really amazes me is that he did this because he wanted to.  He had no obligation to me.  He had no responsibility for me.  He had a family of his own…a wife and three boys…and he was a brilliant man that worked for Martin Marietta.  He was a deacon in the church.  He had a full plate and yet, he unofficially adopted me.  He showed his family and he showed me…unconditional love.  He was a picture of God’s unconditional love towards me.

I haven’t seen him for years.  But now, each year on Father’s Day, it is Dan Janke that comes to my mind…and I rejoice in the picture that he reflected to me of God’s unconditional love.  Truth be known….I married someone that exemplifies alot of those same qualities.  And over the years, as I’ve had the opportunity to work with and around hundreds of young people, it is the example of Mr. Dan Janke, that set the stage for me to look for the potential in my own children and in other students that others might miss, to spend time listening, to speak into situations where caution is needed and not ignore those opportunities, and to foster leadership in young people. These are things that I learned from my “adopted” father.

And for that, and many other things, I will be forever grateful.

Happy Father’s Day…Mr. Janke!

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