last weekend, before my daughter's high school homecoming dance, a bunch of the kids got together for pictures. i imagine, that's a pretty normal thing all across america --- the boys, the girls, their parents all meeting up somewhere for half an hour or so of photos and flowers and chit chat.
it's possible, here in johns creek, georgia, we might tend to take that a little further than most. i don't know. that's probably a different blog post altogether.
anyway, there we all were: handsome boys in bow ties and beautiful girls teetering around the lawn in high heels. and the parents, us too. shoes a tad more sensible, but clunky cameras slung around our necks, right there in the mix helping pin flowers and arrange hair and make small talk.
doing the things we parents do.
mostly we were invited because someone had to come and click the shutter on all those cameras. it's okay, we knew our role and were perfectly good with it. i'm pretty sure there isn't a one of us who would want to go back to our sophomore homecoming dance.
so we posed the polished-up kids and did our own dance to the choreographed click click click of our cameras.
i believe at one point, sarah's date, baxter, pulled out his phone and snapped a picture of the parent group crouched behind our lenses. (baxter, i'll need that ASAP).
but in the midst of all the homecoming photo hoopla, i noticed something ---
when i wasn't looking through the lens of my camera, i was looking around at the teenagers and their parents and i saw several of the girls taking pictures, not just with their dates, but with their dads.
pretty girls and proud dads. arms around each other. smiles on faces.
and it was beautiful.
it is beautiful.
what a gift to see my girl perched on the arm of her dad. don't get me wrong, the date thing was super cute --- really nice guy from a really nice family. plus, bonus! his mom and i are friends, too.
but these almost grown-up daughters and their dads. wow. that's just something special. and it's not something to take for granted. it doesn't always work out that way. it's definitely not a given. but when it happens, it's a tremendous gift --- for them, and, yes, even for us mamas.
|julia and her dad, bill|
|marth ann and her dad, john|
|gracie and her dad, mark|
|sarah and her dad, john|
it's something worth working at.
something worth encouraging.
something worth fighting for.
and let's be honest, it's not always perfectly easy. it's a funny relationship, right? i mean are there any two people groups probably more different than teenage girls and middle aged dads? i swear sometimes i hear them communicating and it's like they are each speaking their own foreign language. i'm often caught somewhere in the middle -- sort of understanding both of them -- and trying my best to mediate.
mostly it's funny. sometimes it's frustrating. but always, it's worth fighting for.
i've been watching my three girls with their dad for all these years -- i've watched them fish and throw football, ride bikes and row kayaks. i've listened to them laugh at movies and sing silly songs on long car trips. tell jokes and stories and all about their day. i've seen my girls snuggled up on his lap, safe in his arms and high on his shoulders. i've noticed it all ... their dad-daughter connection. their special texting and talking and teasing with each other. wrestling and wild. quiet and serious. sweet and supportive.
my husband gives to these girls. easily. quickly. abundantly.
yes, he gives the credit card for a new dress or an occasional trip to the nail salon, but it's the other giving that most matters --- the giving of his time and his attention. the giving of his approval and his heart.
even the giving of boundaries and consequences, "no, sweetheart, you cannot wear that outfit. please go back upstairs and change."
i don't doubt for a minute my husband would give his life for his girls.
and they know it too.
even when they don't see eye to eye, they know their dad would do anything for them.
i'm pretty sure they've never once doubted the depth of his love.
and as the mom over here in my corner, all i want to do is jump up and down and cheer them on wildly. i long to encourage them both in the building of this incredibly powerful and important relationship, because i know how life-giving it is for both of them.
it's not just about getting to that moment when daddy walks his little girl down the fairytale wedding aisle.
it's about growing our girls into mamas and wives and women who know they are fiercely loved no matter what.
it's about girls being sure they have someone strong on their side.
someone in their corner.
someone watching their back.
i am grateful my girls have all of those things in their dad.
but here's the deal, i also know that some girls don't have that in their earthly fathers.
i don't know your stories or your situation, but i know, for certain, if that's the case, it surely must hurt.
we girls, we need our dads.
but, sweet one, if your story doesn't include this kind of man, i want to tell you something else i know with certainty ---- even if your earthly father is absent, your Heavenly Father is always available.
and there's no father with a more faithful, steadfast and unconditional love than Jesus.
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." ~jeremiah 31:3
psalm 68:6 says describes God as "Father to the fatherless." that's not just for the orphan, but that's also for the girl who don't have a dad present in her life. be assured, God is present and He's pursuing you with a passionate love like no human can even begin to understand. and though having a physical dad's hand to hold is a gift, God's hands are truly what hold us and help us and shape us.
"but now o Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of you hand." ~ isaiah 64:8
so thankful for our dad's, but need to post a few pictures of these cute kids and give a shout out to the great dates saturday night ... y'all are darling.