Father: Kevin Horton

Son: CJ Horton

Kevin Horton, owner of Small Engine Specialist of Texarkana, enjoys every moment he spends with his son, CJ. Through the years, Kevin has appreciated being able to watch CJ grow mentally, physically, and spiritually. “CJ’s heart for God and his desires to care for others make me most proud of my son,” Kevin says. “He strives to put others above himself, has a willingness to help others, and an overall great personality.” 

CJ is currently a college student at Texarkana College and has recently started an internship with Family Ministries at First Baptist Church in Pampa, Texas, for the summer. During the internship, he is serving the church under the direction of their family pastor, leading students from Kindergarten through 6th grade in Wednesday night activities, serving as a game coordinator at their church camp, and even attending a mission trip near Seattle, Washington.

Kevin and CJ have many shared interests. They both have a love for sports cars, discussing political events, and watching basketball. They also appreciate times together outdoors where they can get away from the distractions of everyday life. “We love fishing together, and sometimes, a long drive in his 1995 Mustang GT out on the open highway is a great time to talk and solve the world’s problems. Or at least try to,” Kevin says. “CJ and I also love to play basketball together; there is not a week that goes by that we do not play a game of HORSE or PIG. Sometimes I even forget that I am 40 and play an intense 1v1 game with him.” 

CJ says that he lets Kevin win in basketball from time to time, although he is pretty sure that Kevin would say the opposite. CJ also says that Kevin has always stayed up late at night with him to play video games. “Since I was young, we have had several gaming stations and shared many victories. Our favorite video game to play together today is 2K Basketball,” CJ says. “We have a lot of great memories, but my favorite one is when I caught my first massive bass fish. I was 8-years-old, and dad took me out for my first big fishing lesson. We were fishing at my grandfather’s pond on a very hot summer day. I finally set the hook and was able to reel the fish in. He stood there and cheered me on while I worked hard to fight that bass. After getting it on the bank, he took a picture, gave me a hug, and we celebrated big time.”

Kevin’s wife says that both her husband and her son share similar characteristics. She says the two are kind, loving, put others before themselves and give attention to details. CJ says that he has learned all this and more by following his father’s example. “My dad has taught me how to have a good attitude through all things. Even when bad things happened, or maybe someone kept me from being somewhere on time, he would gently say, ‘That’s God’s provision. Don’t worry. He’s working all things out,’” CJ says. “He has also taught me how to treat people with respect, whether they deserve it or not. That even translated over to dating girls. I remember my mom watching me open a door for my very first date and saying, ‘Oh my goodness, where did you learn that from?’ and I reminded her that I had seen my dad do that for her for many years. It became second nature through his influence.”

Though the father and son pair do not have a specific tradition for Father’s Day, they always start the morning at church. After that, they cook Kevin’s favorite meal, which usually includes steaks, fried potatoes, biscuits and gravy, and a cookie cake. “Many years we spend the weekend leading up to Father’s Day in the great outdoors fishing, renting a cabin, trail hikes, swimming; just anything to break away from the everyday life and enjoy each other while celebrating him,” CJ says. 

CJ says that some of his father’s best advice is always to seek and trust the Lord. “He has taught me to recognize that we do not have all the answers, and even if we think we do, they probably are not God’s perfect answers for our lives. Dad has always said, ‘Seek the Lord for wisdom, and He will give it to you. When He gives you that answer CJ, you have to trust God enough to do what He says,’” CJ says. “Dad has also said many times to never rush a decision. People in this world will often pressure you into making decisions, whether buying a car, getting into a relationship, or other ways. Dad has always encouraged me to take time, pray about it, and wait on God’s divine direction.”

Kevin and CJ plan on making many more memories together, and both eagerly anticipate the day when CJ becomes a father. Though CJ says that it will be quite some time from now, he cannot wait to introduce his first child to ‘grandpa’ and see the joy it will bring. “My dad has always been the most gentle, yet fun-loving person, with children,” CJ says. “I look forward to the day my first child can experience him as a grandfather that happens to be the best father as well.”

Questions for Dad, Kevin Horton

How are you and CJ different from each other, and how have you worked to maintain a close relationship despite these differences?

CJ is more outgoing and has a bigger personality than I do. I am more reserved, but we know how to match each other if necessary. CJ knows how to include me in a big group, and I know how to keep CJ from acting totally crazy. 

What Father’s Day stands out the most in your mind? 

I can say with certainty that every single Father’s Day has been amazing – one does not top the other. CJ has always made a point to devote his time to me on that specific day, making me feel special. I know it is hard for young adults to put down their cell phones and step out of their normal, everyday routine, but when he does, and often more than just on Father’s Day, it creates some awesome memories.

What advice do you have for young dads about navigating a good father/son relationship? 

Patience is required. Always remember that you are dealing with someone who has never done what you have done and learned what you have learned. Be willing to patiently teach them (yes, it may take many tries) but show love throughout the trying process. Also, hold your child responsible for their actions. This is one of the most challenging and non-glamorous sides of parenting, but it is needed so they can function in the world.

Questions for Son, CJ Horton 

What makes you proud of your dad?

I am proud of my dad for the godly man that he is. He gets up, gets his family out the door, and shows up at church. He works so hard, and Sunday would be a great day to have a ‘day off,’ but he puts God before anything else. He constantly seeks a way to serve people and love on them at the same time. Beyond that, he is full of joy, and he brings a certain peace to those around him. He is super patient, kind, good, faithful to his wife and family, gentle in harsh or angry situations, and always displays self-control.

What is one activity that you love to do together?

Working on vehicles has always been something we love to do together. 

My first vehicle was a 2007 Chevy Silverado that I purchased from working summer jobs. He taught me how to replace the knock sensors, tires, spark plugs, and perform general maintenance. Then, in 2022, I purchased a 1995 Ford Mustang GT, and together we have worked on that. We have replaced a fuel pump (that was a messy job), the cold air intake, spark plugs, throttle body, distributor, coil, thermostat, and so much more!   I also know that my dad wants to restore a 1969 Fastback Mustang one day, and I look forward to doing that with him.  

3. What advice do you have for other young men about navigating a good father/son relationship? 

Do not take lectures personally – they are given out of love – apply them to your life in a positive way. Put the cell phone and video games down and spend as much time with your dad. Do not be afraid to ask Dad if you can help him – even if he says no – he will appreciate it. Have a forgiving heart- life is hard, and as hard as parents try, they will mess up. But extend grace because parents always extend grace to children.

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