A "Father" To Many | Our Community's Uncle | Mahomet, Illinois
This morning during the service at CU Church, Jason Epperson talked about how God calls all fathers to be loving and caring towards his children. As he said this, my first thought could have been about my own loving father but it was not. My first thought was about a person without children of his own who loves and cares for ALL of God's children like his own... my brother.
When Chris moved back from Michigan when my own boys were still running around with sippy cups and saggy diapers, he moved in with us while he searched for a job locally. His plan was to move out on his own shortly after getting hired on at Horizon Hobby. I'm thankful plans changed and he's still living with us today, 11 years later. So much has changed since Chris moved in... the boys have gone through a dozen different sports/interests, they've lost teeth, 'found' girlfriends, I got divorced, Chris has switched jobs, etc. The one thing that remains constant is Chris' true, genuine, deep love for my boys... and myself... and everyone he knows for that matter.
And many in our community know that Chris' love goes far beyond the kids he's related to. I tell people Chris is the "town Uncle". On his days off you will find him volunteering his time as a coach for football (none of my boys play), sitting in a stinky gym watching a kid trying to pin his opponent on the wrestling mat, or heading to the local baseball field just to see if he will see any of the kids he knows from football playing a game. He is a super fan. Not just a super fan but a super POSITIVE fan. You will never hear him put a kid down for a fumbled play or shout at someone for not running fast enough. You will always hear him encouraging the kids to do their very best, giving high fives for every accomplishment on and off the field and in general making the kids feel like a rock star for the smallest tasks done well. If they need encouragement to work harder, it will always be done with a smile on his face, lots of clapping and positive words.
One of Chris' pee wee football players said Chris was his hero. The fourth grader's dad shared the photo of the finished project on Facebook with these words a while back, "Ryno just finished a project for school. Mrs. Lager gives each student their own week to showcase their family, hobbies, interests, etc... One of the things he had to list was who his hero was. Ry said his hero was Coach Chris Roberts from football. In his own 4th grade way, Ry expressed what Chris means to him. I think in the world we live in today, we need more people like Chris Roberts in it. Thanks for being you Coach Chris!"
My Hero Coach Chris
"Even when we are down and short on believing in ourselfs he is there to pick the team up. Honestly, I have never seen him unhappy. He is always helping no matter what. He is one of the best coaches I've ever had."
Chris's phone is filled with pictures of 'his' kids.... it includes mine and so many more throughout the community. During the football season, he would come home after practice and talk about all the kids by name. I'd know when one of the kids got a new haircut, who is on vacation, he'd talk about a boy's smile or the great attitude of one of the boys. Of all the conversations, it rarely was about the boys as players but talked about their character or something that was going on in their lives off the field. He truly cares about each of those kids like his own.
His positivity is infectious, he is always the first to help... whether it be for family, friends or lending a helping hand to a stranger. Strangers will not be strangers for long with Chris. You walk away from any interaction with Chris in a better mood. You can't help it. One of the football moms shared with me last year, "His presence just radiates when he is around the kids and the game of football! I hope he will follow them and remember them all through high school!" Ummmmm, you won't have to worry about that. :-)
Another pee wee football player went home to practice one night last fall and this is what she shared with me.
He came home from practice and said "Mom, I think Coach Chris should be a preacher. God brought him to us for a reason". I thought that was so sweet. He is certainly loved and appreciated by all, especially the little ones.
I couldn't think of a better person to acknowledge on Father's Day after hearing that description at church than my brother who doesn't even have children of his own. He cares and loves all of God's children and I know all those he interacts with have been positively impacted by his involvement.
So today, I celebrate my own dad in heaven and my other brother Chad who has 3 kiddos of his own. I also think about the dad of one of my friends who became like a second dad to me while growing up after my own father passed, who has now joined my dad in heaven. And I think about the many children who may not have a father figure in their lives and pray that they have or will find an "Uncle Chris" to be a positive, loving, encouraging male role model. Everyone's lives are better when they have an "Uncle Chris". Fortunately for us, we got the original model.
We love you Chris!