It's my Dad's birthday today.
That means the world has been a better place for 43 years.
Those of you who know my dad know exactly what I mean when I say my dad is amazing.
He knows just about everything, and what he doesn't know, he figures out.
He knows how to tune a bike like a pro, and smokes some of the best BBQ I've ever had.
He's the best sports photographer our athletic teams ever hired, and I have him to thank for my blonde hair and green eyes.
He's the first person I call when I have a question, I'm in trouble, or I don't know what to do.
He's the one I think about when I'm making a big decision, and who I aim to please in everything I do.
He's the perfect example of the kind of man I want to marry.
Smart, loyal, funny, spiritual. Organized, dedicated, family oriented, supportive.
I've been out of the house for a year now, and I see more of him in myself every day.
He's the reason I've always tried my hardest in school (well that, and a little exterior motivation called a cell phone).
He's the reason I've run across the across the Wasatch Front for one weekend every year.
He's the reason I can out-eat most boys in ribs and brisket.
He's the reason I love John Grisham, Vince Flynn, Robert McCammon, and Lincoln & Child.
He's the reason I cry, all the freaking time. He's the biggest cry baby I know (and I'll probably get in trouble for saying that).
He's the reason I love Chocolate English Toffee ice cream, football, and Utah State.
But most importantly? He's the reason I'm here.
My friends all love my dad; like almost obsessively.
Everybody wants to be Russ's best friend.
I don't even want to count the number of times Dallin's made me make sure to tell my dad that he loves him, how many times I've had boys show up at my house just wanting to hang out with my dad, and one time, I even got mad at my dad for texting at the dinner table....only to find out he was talking to Spencer.
He's the best; and everyone is very aware of that fact.
I'm incredibly lucky to have such an amazing example in my life. My dad's family is a little...psycho. And he has every reason in the world to be bitter about it. But for the last 10 years, he's used the situation to teach us kids about forgiveness, and accepting what we can't change. He's the perfect example of service: whether he's installing radar detectors in our neighbors cars, smoking loads of pulled pork for other people's family BBQ's, or taking dance pictures for yet another group of high schoolers, he does it without question. My dad has an amazing testimony--and he lives it everyday.
He'll always be the first man I ever loved, and I'll always be a daddy's girl. That's just how life goes.
The moral of the story is, I absolutely adore my dad, for a million different reasons. But the number one reason I love him? He lets me be me. He supports me in whatever I do.
Jim Valvano said it best: "My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me." And for that? I owe him everything I have been, am, and want to become.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you. :)