So I was talking to one of my most favorite people in the world the other day. She was my best friend in high school and I am so thankful we are still good friends to this day. She asked me if I had a time where I knew God had answered my prayer and I said, yes, which got me thinking of how amazing God has been in my life. I am not super Jesus-y on this blog, but my faith is very important to me and I think this is a cool story. :) If you don't want to indulge with me, feel free to stop reading now.
For those who don't know, I grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee, WI with my mom. My dad left when I was 2 years old. The circumstances behind him leaving were messy and maybe for the best at the time, but I never stopped yearning for a dad. I kept a journal even from the young age of six. I love looking back at my cute writing and my sweet little innocent problems as well as my little crushes and just the sweet way I saw life. I also had a very real eye that life could be tough and painful since I knew the struggles of growing up with out a dad. I used to pray all the time that God would bring my dad back. I remember one journal entry where he was supposed to visit one summer and I had written, well journal, as you can see by the date, summer's over and he never came! (Apparently, my journal was also my friend or sibling since I was an only child!) :) I tried really hard not to be bothered by it and to say it's ok because I have a father in Heaven who loved me (words I know I had heard at church, because what kid talks like that?)
Anyways, I did see my dad when I was 11 for about 20 minutes in a park in Wisconsin. I guess he did tell my mom I could come visit him in Missouri, but that scared her so she said no. Then we moved all the way to Idaho. My mom met this (in my opinion random) guy at a conference in Colorado and fast forward through a 7 month long distance relationship and boom they got hitched and we landed in Meridian, Idaho half way through 7th grade. THE WORST. Why? Half way through any year is tough, but middle school was especially hard. Some of the curriculum was flip flopped so some stuff I had already done and some I missed some of the basics... all in all just tough.
But what was more of an adjustment was living with a man. I remember when we first got there and I was starving (I was 13 - when are teenagers not hungry?) and all he had was ketchup and pickles or some other random bachelor food. :) And, of course it was super late and nothing was open! I cried that night because I was so confused why "this" was my new life. Gone were the days of walking from my room to the bathroom naked because when it's just girls, who cares? Additionally, I never really learned how to respect a male. As horrible as that is to admit, it was not taught. "Men" were synonymous with the dad who left and couldn't be trusted - let alone respected. This lead to a lot of fights and learning to control my tongue and (years later in my late 20's counseling to realize why I lacked this natural respect towards the male species.)
As much as I learned to live with this new man, and he continued to love me, I did not really invest in him as much as I could have. We did finally find a common ground in basketball. I kept stats in high school with one of my good friends, and my dad was one of the JV coaches. Suddenly, he knew all of my friends and they all thought he was cool! (Go figure!) Through that we were able to talk about guys a little more and finally connect and I remember realizing, wow, I've never had a guys perspective like this before. But even as our relationship started to develop, I still was so excited to leave Idaho and start life on my own!
So, I ran out of Idaho as fast as I could come graduation day. I was off to Seattle, and was so thankful to be on my own. My first year of college was tough. I fell in love and when that relationship ended I was so devastated. I watched my roommate have this amazing relationship with her mom and I was so envious as my mom and I fought a lot still! By the end of freshman year I wanted to run away again. Then came Capernwray.
My cousin's parents wanted her to get out of Colorado (secretly I think they wanted her away from her boyfriend at the time) after she graduated high school. They found this Bible school abroad that a lot of students go to before they start college the following year. She said she'd do it if she didn't have to go alone. They asked if I wanted to go, and I of course said yes, since I was still in my "I need to escape mode." My mom had decided I wasn't much of a Christian (one of the reasons we were fighting so much - who was she to know me and what I thought?) and kept saying you know it's Bible school. And I said yes, but Bible school in Greece and England.... I'll take it! :)
It was an amazing time and I am so glad I went - but you are probably wondering why we have traveled through my life from ages 2 all the way to 20 now. Here's why. Father's day happened when I was over there. My cousin loves her dad and she was all excited to tell him happy father's day and talk to him. Which got me thinking. I would always say happy father's day to Steve but in the back of my mind think, well whatever, he's not really my dad. And that year it hit me.
See, what you don't know is the unconditional love Steve showed to me all the years I resisted it. He prayed for me. He called me all the time. He worried about me - oh man did he worry! (Part of it is he's a public defender, so he sees the worst of the worst and thinks all people may be like that and want to hurt his family!) He emailed me all the time when I was in school and Europe. Sometimes, he drove me nuts when I was in school and he would call so much, just to check in. He was a dad. He was my dad.
I wrote him this letter telling him how grateful I was that he became a father to me all those years back. I told him how I had prayed and prayed God would send my dad back and when that went unanswered I didn't even think to see that the prayer was answered just in a very different way. He married my mom, and got me as part of the package, but chose to say this is my daughter. He never had to do that. I couldn't believe it took me that long to realize that I did have the dad I always wanted - he just had a different name and a different heart than the one in my head.
What makes this story even better is that about a year ago I reached out to my biological dad. After a few emails back and forth, I stopped hearing from him. God knew that that was who I was praying for and saved me from years of heartache I could have had hoping for a dad that didn't want to be my dad. I am so grateful to call Steve Botimer my dad. And, I am so thankful he chooses to call me his daughter.
P.S. - I just realized I blogged about this before, but this had a whole new perspective with the answered prayer part. Again, sorry if you feel like you already heard about this! :)
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