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Stories from Home: Thoughts on a Father's Day from a Father

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace May your night be filled with rest and your day tomorrow with all the awe and the wonder of the world God created for you. Our family blessing

From the time our oldest turned a few months old in 1990 until the youngest turned 18 in 2020, our three children received this blessing from me most every night before they turned in for the night. Sometimes, it might be through a phone call, if I were traveling. Sometimes, it might occur through gritted teeth when they got into trouble and sent to their room early. But, it was a priority. Not just for me, but for them as well. For them, I think it was something that made them sense that all was right with their world. That no matter what happened in their day, it was a chance to re-center in God's presence at the end of the day.

The first three lines of our nightly blessing for them came from the Old Testament (Numbers 6:24-26) and is sometimes known as the "Aaronic Blessing". The last lines were my addition. It was something that came to mind when Joy, my oldest, was very little. I wanted for her to become a wonderer, an explorer, a chance-taker in all of the Creation that God made. To immerse herself into the vastness as fully as possible with as much wonder Adam and Eve did, if that sort of thing was possible. I wanted her to never hold back to seeking out anything and everything that surrounded her. Of course, I had the same hopes for my son, Andrew, and for my youngest, Grace, as both grew up.

As I look at Facebook on this Father's Day, I see the posts by folks extolling their dad as the world's best, and that is as it should be. For me, I don't know if I would be comfortable with my own kids saying that about me. I know my faults and failures. I cringe at them times I missed with them. I regret my bent and personality of turning inward - it is who I am. I weep inwardly at times I got overly angry with them. I don't know if I did everything I could for them. I'm not very good at "Dad things". I'm just me, for better or worse. My great hope is they will say nice things about me on the therapist's couch.

But there is something I am proud of - the encouragement on my part to try and engage and wander and "Wonder" about life. To seek out things on their own terms. To think for themselves, even if it is in conflict with my own opinions. I can guide. I can steer. I can teach them everything I know about anything. But, if they live life only through my eyes, they will never grow into the person God created them to be.

If there is a legacy I want most for Joy, Andrew and Grace, it is they seek fully and live fully what God has made them to be. If they do that, I will consider my job as a dad a success.

Taken for our 30th anniversary in 2014. Long a family favorite.

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