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Happy Father’s Day

A couple of weeks ago, the family had our annual beach trip. I believe this was our twenty-sixth trip. Usually, we all stay in one house. This year, we had to expand to two or at least both sides of a duplex. There were eighteen of us gathered together this year. There could have been more family members but a few couldn’t make it for the full week or at all.

My Dad wasn’t there for the first time. It seemed a bit strange not to have the patriarch of the family there. This will most likely be the norm as my father has become more home bound over this past year. Actually, after last year’s beach trip, I really didn’t think he would have lived another year. This past year has been a bit rough for him. However, he seems to be holding his own right now. He will be turning 91 in a couple of weeks so we have been fortunate to have him with us this long even though he’s home bound.

I mentioned this annual trip for a reason. This annual trip lets me observe my nephews in a different way. My nephews have grown into great fathers. I can see their daily interactions with their children. I can see how much they love them. I mean, I know they love their children. But observing them on a daily basis, I see how they love them. Yes, it’s correcting them when siblings hurt each other. Cousins get involved in mishaps as well. There were injuries from splinters and a smashed finger; sickness is always a concern as well. The Dads always stepped up to help out. They were right there with Mom correcting, comforting and loving on their kids.

My nephews are representing God the Father well. I know this because of my own Dad. He represented God the Father to me as I was growing up. I have a good Dad. I have a loving Dad. Over the last few years when I have called my Dad, he reminds me before he hangs up “to remember my Dad loves me a whole, whole bunch.” He hasn’t voiced that reminder in a few months, but I remember him telling me this for last few years and it still warms my heart. I am loved and I feel it. My nephews are giving that to my grand nieces and nephews. They will know they are loved and they will feel loved.

For the “grands” it will not be a big leap of faith to recognize a loving Father in heaven loves them as well. It wasn’t for me either because of what I experienced through my own Dad. Yes, there were doubts when troubles arose and discipline was hashed out. But actually, that is more loving than letting us run out into the ocean to drown. (Forgive the beach analogies.)

Boundaries are given for our protection. Sometimes we see them as confining instead of liberating. We see a line and we want to cross it because we know what’s on the other side has to be better. But if God put a line in the sand, there is a reason we shouldn’t cross it. God loves us more than we can imagine and wants the best for us. The best is not to cross the line. However, if we cross the line, He doesn’t love us any less. There is nothing we could do that would cause Him to love us less. It’s the same regardless of what we do. But His best is to stay in His boundaries. That’s His protection.

When the line has been crossed, the Father will allow it but there are always consequences to rebellion. However, like the Father in the Prodigal Son story (Luke 15), God is always waiting on our return. His arms are open wide for our return. And He never condemns us – that’s Satan’s job. God the Father loves us unconditionally.

I remember Ruth Graham talking about her Dad (Billy Graham) when she had a failure in life. She rode up to her Dad’s house and her Dad was waiting in the driveway. He didn’t condemn her for her actions, but wrapped her in his arms and said “welcome home.” That’s how our Father in Heaven responds to us when we have stepped outside His boundaries. Remember God the Father is our good, good Father. His love will never change. He will never change.

If you have had a good father here on earth – thank God the Father for blessing you and your family in this way. Your Dad has been a good example of a good and loving Father in Heaven. Remember your Father in Heaven loves you a whole, whole bunch! His arms are open wide. You are loved. Know it and feel it. Happy Father’s Day!

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:20b-24

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To My Dad…

You might think this is a delayed Father’s Day posting. For those outside of the United States who don’t know our traditions, the third Sunday in June is set aside to honor Dads. We have a Sunday in May to honor Moms as well. I don’t know when or how these two days were first celebrated. I don’t remember them being that big a deal when I was growing up. Anyway, this posting is not about Father’s Day. It’s a posting celebrating my Dad because of his 90th birthday tomorrow. My Dad doesn’t really enjoy presents. He could care less about them. His love language is spending time with him. So I will make the trip to see him and love on him the way he enjoys it.

My Dad has been my champion all my life. He has never let me down. He showed up whenever I needed him. Of course, Mom may have instigated the trip to me when I had my car accident. However, Dad has always been the one I turned to when I have needed advice or needed a helping hand. He was a great handy man and could do almost anything. I never had to hire a man to do odd jobs around my house until my Dad was no longer able to handle those types of things.

I was my Dad’s shadow most of my growing up life. On Saturday’s I looked forward to “help” him do those things around the house. Mowing grass, changing oil in the car, anything he did, I was right there with him. The only thing I couldn’t do was play golf with him on Saturday mornings. Even though he taught me to play when I was quite young, Saturday mornings were for his standard foursome. On one or two occasions, I would be allowed to go with him. He taught me how to drive a golf cart long before it was legal to do so. When I took driver’s education, the instructor wondered why I drove so well until I told him I was a golfer. And my Dad was the one who helped me learn to drive on real roads too.

My Dad is pretty special to me. Sure we had our difficulties during my teen years. It was a struggle one summer between my first and second year in college. I was testing my wings, and my parents were keeping me from such a “good” life. All my life, I had boundaries set for my protection to keep me from getting hurt or going down the wrong path. I could have so easily strayed (and did for a time), but they kept instructing (and punishing me) to keep me on the straight and narrow path. Of course I resented it at that time. But looking back on it, what a blessing it was to have those boundaries. I rebelled for a few years, but came back when I realized it was not the life for me.

Dad didn’t have an easy childhood. Growing up in the depression meant his family didn’t have much. His father had a small grocery store so at least they had food on the table. They had a small farm too and had pigs, cows and chickens. During that time, they were probably considered rich. Dad and his brothers were mischievous. Some of my best memories are the times his brothers and him would tell the stories. They would laugh until they cried and of course we would laugh just as hard while listening. Those days are gone now. Two brothers are with the Lord, and it’s hard to tell the tales without his sidekicks. So I guess my Dad did have a rich childhood, and it had nothing to do with money.

Dad has always been a good provider. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to give his girls their hearts desires (that includes my Mom too!). After my Mom died a few years ago, Dad would call me every night. Before he said goodbye, his last words were to remember your Dad loves you very much. He still reminds me every now and then how much he loves me. He is a sweet, sweet man. I love him dearly.

You know the best thing about my Dad? He was a good reflection of Jesus and God the Father. If you see some of the same attributes in this posting, it’s not by accident. There isn’t a negative thought toward God when I think of Him as a Father. Dad was a good example of what it’s like to be God’s child. Provider, yes. Protector, always. Loves my unconditionally, oh yes! Mentor, Mediator, and Instructor. God the Father does it all for me. Jesus is my Rock and my Salvation as my Dad once was for me as a young child. Dad gave me the example early so that I could grasp the concept later. When I need advice, I go to my heavenly Father now. When I need assurance and a champion, Jesus is my man. When I want my heart’s desire, I look to God to provide as He wills.

Dad did his job. He raised me and my sisters to be women of God and disciples of Jesus. Dad shaped my character and helped hone my skills. Dad gave me all that I needed to live a good life. Dad, I love you! Thanks for loving me as you do. I thank God every day for such a good Dad. May God continually bless you richly for the rest of your life. See you soon!

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth. Ephesians 6:1-3 (NLT)

Father’s Day

Over the weekend, I reflected on our family vacation. A couple of thoughts came to mind that I would like to share. My nephews have turned out to be good Dads. All my nephews have children now and to see them interacting with their kids is very heart-warming. Throughout the week, I observed the interactions with father and son, and fathers and daughters. Right now, we have an abundance of little girls. The girls’ interaction with their Dads is a little different than the father and son relationship. The father interacted more robust with tossing the son about, while the girls were handled with greater care. But in all, love was very obvious toward their little ones.

I saw the Dads taking care of the children’s needs. When cries were prevalent, Dad was there to soothe the hurt. When falls happened, the Dads scooped up their child into a tender embrace. When words were exchanged, Dad came to solve the issue. There was discipline as well. The smack on the rear got the offenders attention. Discipline isn’t showing a lack of love for the child but a matter of training those young children. Regardless of the offense, their Dad still loved them just the same. The Dad would open his arms to his child, and the child would come running. Kisses and hugs were in abundance.

What I saw in those moments of a Dad loving a child reminded me of my relationship with my own Dad. My Dad will turn 89 this month. He isn’t the same as he was twenty years ago. Age has crept in and robbed him of strength and vitality. His interactions with me are different today as well. I still feel his love toward me even though his actions are different. We don’t have meaningful conversations anymore. He isn’t able to play golf with me now. It was one of the ways we spent time together. Now, we spend time sitting in front of a TV; or in the case of the beach house, we sat on the porch and watched the clouds go by. It’s different now. We can’t get the years back. It’s different, but the love isn’t. I love him just as he is today.

As I watched my nephews and been in a father/daughter relationship all my life; I have a good idea who God is as a Father. I know what it’s like to have a loving Dad. But even in my Dad’s love there is imperfection. There isn’t the perfect love that my heavenly Father has for me. I really can’t comprehend the perfect love that my heavenly Father has; I have a good idea because of my earthy Dad. But my heavenly Father loves over and beyond anything that I could imagine.

When the boys took care of their children, I saw how God interacts with us. When we hurt, He comes to comfort us. When we fall, He comes to pick us up. When our feelings get hurt, He speaks tenderly toward us. And when we do wrong, He comes to discipline us to correct us for our overall good. It is all done out of love. And when we please Him, He showers us in blessings too numerable to count.

God’s reflection is evident in my nephews’ actions toward their children. It makes me awestruck at God’s love for humanity. We wonder at times where God is when tragedy strikes. But God is still on His throne, still loving us, and still waiting on us to respond to Him. Tragedy happens because we live in a sinful world. It doesn’t mean that God has turned His back on us. He still loves us as a Father loves a child. Our defiant behavior will not be ignored for long before our loving Father will get our attention. Sometimes it takes a smack on the rear; sometimes it’s just a rebuke with words. But it never is done out of a lack of love.

I love the picture Luke painted of a prodigal son returning to his Father’s house (found in Luke 15). There wasn’t a day that the Father was not looking for the son to return. The moment the son was in view, the Father waited no longer; he ran toward his son. The Father wrapped him in the finest robe and put a ring on his finger. The son was restored to the family. God is the Father waiting for our hearts to turn toward Him. He is waiting to lavish us in His love. On this Father’s Day, remember God’s love for you. If you are a prodigal, it’s never too late to return to your Father’s house. He is waiting to wrap His arms around you and love you like you have never experienced before!

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:10-12

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