Posts tagged memories
DAD STORIES: memories from a man who got it right

I’ve told you about my dad— how, without actually meaning to, he’s shaped my faith in God.

(my daughter, Rebekah and my dad)

My dad has shown me in his own way— in his way with me, how the Father is.

How He loves…

How He welcomes…

How He wants to be with me on those early, intimate mornings.

Because of Dad, trusting God has been, if not exactly easy, at least simple for me.

One night, many years ago, when my old nemesis, Fear, started to choke the joy out of my daily life, the memories of my dad’s way with me broke those chains…

It was late and I lay in bed wide-awake. Alone and afraid.

My husband traveled as a part of his job in those days, sometimes for weeks at a time. On this night he was an ocean way, unavailable, unreachable, unable to calm me down or cheer me up. I’d suffered the insomnia of fear every night he was gone.

Too exhausted to sleep, too afraid to allow myself to rest, my façade of courage was crumbling.

My fear teetered towards terror.

A deaf woman alone at night with three children sleeping blithely in their bedrooms— every possibility presenting itself in colored array as I desperately prayed those demons away.

What if someone breaks in the house? Would I hear them? No.

What if there’s a fire? Would I hear the alarm? No.

What if someone big and mean and bad comes barging in the front door… no, no, no!

I can’t hear! I can’t protect my children! I can’t be safe!

I sat awake, hearing aids at full volume, baseball bat at hand.

I prayed, of course. 

Desperate liturgies for protection: for angels, for hedges, for walls and warriors to watch over me.

And I laugh a little now, but at the time, that helplessness felt immensely more real than any assurances of the safety of my neighborhood or the ridiculousness of my fears.

Yet still…in spite of the unreasonableness of my angst, God brought Himself into my runaway fears.

Instead of scoffing: You’re a grown-up, Di, get over it!

Instead of shame: Where’s your faith?

Instead of platitudes: Angels are watching over you…

He reminded me of my dad.

Every night when I was growing up, my dad walked through our house just before going to bed. He checked doors, turned down the heater, closed windows, peeked in on each of us kids.

Making the rounds like a night watchman.

Making sure I was safe.

Making me feel safe.

Never once, in all my years at home did I beg Dad to take care of me. I didn’t plead for protection from the invisible bad guys. Didn’t remind him to lock up. Didn’t keep a baseball bat close just in case.


I didn’t need to ask for protection because I slept close to my protector.

God, I realized, is just like my dad!

In fact, I began to suspect that all my begging might be an insult to Him. Of course He’s watching over me! 

Instead of desperate rituals of praying for angels to surround me, instead of walking through every worry, and making sure He knew all about how He should handle it, and why, and what I wanted Him to do…

Maybe I should just thank Him for all the nights He’d watched over me.

Just like Dad.

Years and years and decades of nights. No bad guys, no break-ins, no monsters under the bed.

Just my great big God watching over me while I slept.

I drifted off to sleep that night whispering thanks.

And every night after that, whenever the reality of being a deaf woman alone started to feel unsafe, whenever fear threated to keep me up, I felt that grip of safe assurance— of my Father being just like my dad—steady, dependable, present.

He loved me… just like Dad.

He was up to the task of taking care of me… just like Dad.

I could practically feel Him locking up tight, making the rounds, checking in to be sure I was okay… just like my Dad.

My dad spent all my growing up years watching over me. Sometimes in simple ways like locking up at night. Sometimes in harder-to-swallow ways like restricting my freedom lest my naivete leave me unprotected.

I wasn’t always grateful. I didn’t always understand. I wasn’t always nice about not understanding. In fact, he could tell you stories about me not being nice or grateful or understanding…

But that didn’t stop him.

Because my dad cared enough to take care of me… and so does my Father.

From my heart,



1.    He watched over me.

2.    He was there— down the hall, next to mom, no matter what.

3.    He didn’t mock my fears.

4.    He kept watching over me even when I didn’t think I needed him.

5.    He showed me what the Father is like.


P.S. Have you learned some things about the Father from your dad? Can you tell us what?

Or are you just now learning that the Father is different than the way your dad was to you? That He loves in a way your dad was not able to love?

DAD STORIES: memories of a man who got it right

(photo by Bethany Small)

Back when I was high school during the now-vintage era of the 70’s, computers were monstrous machines. They were housed in massive buildings, attended by men in white lab coats and thick glasses. No home computers, no laptops.

As students, we wrote our essays and term papers on typewriters— the electric kind if we were lucky.  Usually by hand first, then plucked out laboriously on the machine, slow and careful lest we hit the wrong key, leaving a permanent imprint on the perfect white paper.  Most teachers allowed no more than 3 errors per page.

My dad allowed no errors. A typo was a mistake. Why wouldn’t I aim for perfection?

Dad was not normally a tyrant, but he knew me well. Papers were my ticket to the grades he knew I could get but wouldn’t if I didn’t use my strengths. And tests were not my strength. My befuddled mind just wouldn’t grasp such unimportant details as dates— Was that signed in 1776? Or was it 1667?

But assign me to write a story about what life may have been like back whenever-it-was, and I’d bump those grades back up to where they belonged.

How many hormonal implosions did I unleash on poor dad when he red-marked my papers? And believe me, I could implode with the best of them! Drama and you-don’t-love-me and no-one-else’s-parents-torment-their-kids-like-this!

But nothing moved the man.  Instead, he calmly waited out the storm and told me, Good job, you’re getting it. Now do it again. 

And so I did. Until I got it right. Until it was good-grade worthy and I could hand it back to my dad to see his smile and that slightest nod that meant more than my name in lights.

Stretch back a few more years. We lived in Germany, in a small hamlet surrounded by fields and forests. A magical place. Dreamer that I was (and am) I remember all the wild and wonderful imaginings as I stared out my bedroom window at the castle one town away.

But on Saturdays I had to unstick my head from the clouds and do chores. Dusting, emptying garbage, wiping windows and cleaning the car— a tiny Opel sedan that carted our family of five all over Europe during the days we lived there.

Back then cars had windows that locked by pushing a small lever that looked like a golf ball tee. But when ten-year-old hands washed the inside of the Opel’s windows, that tee inevitably got in the way, leaving fingerprints unwiped. And Dad just marched me back to do it again. After all, he’d paid a whole dime for the job!

And do you know what? I still get in the corners. And I still proofread and correct over and over again, wanting to get it right, all the way right.

Because my dad taught me that details make the difference. Whether writing a paper or a book, or washing windows or making friends— details matter.

Was Dad picky? Yeah, a little.

Was Dad unreasonable? Never.

Did I respond well to his insistence on doing things well and right? Uh… hardly ever.

Am I glad he did? Absolutely! So very thankful that he instilled in me a sense of honor about work and pride in doing it well.

And do you know what? I really don’t think that Dad cared all that much about finger smudges on windows. I doubt he enjoyed reading my clunky papers about dinosaurs or the history of the printing press.

I think he just cared about me. He loved me enough to uproot my natural laziness and make me uncomfortable with less-than.

He wanted me to know the satisfaction of a job well done, of life done well.

And he was willing to do what he needed to until I got it right all on my own.

Thank-you Dad, I’m so glad you did.

From my heart,


Six Things My Dad Got Right:

  1. He had values of his own that he determined to instill in me.
  2. He was nice (mostly) about it.
  3. He didn’t let my whining and wailing cause him to slack off.
  4. He taught me to focus on my strengths.
  5. He told me what my strengths were— out loud and often.
  6. He kept at it even when his job demanded his attention.

P.S. Right now my dad is very, very ill. Would you pray with me for him? I leave in a few days to go to be with my parents at their home in the Sierras. Knowing you're praying would make all the difference to me. And if these Dad Stories have helped, will you leave a comment? It would bring me great  joy to bring him stories of how his own story is influencing yours.Thank you.

You can see previous DAD STORIES here.

DAD STORIES: memories of a man who got it right


The sun sleeps, tucked in tight, as I write these words, still too early on a winter’s morn to rise and melt the frost from the ground. In the dark my family slumbers on, wrapped in the downy warmth of dreams, serenely oblivious to the stresses that will rise with the dawn.

I am wide awake. Teapot half empty, my mind fills with rumblings of ideas. Words catch my listening ears in the stillness. Words from a Father who speaks in the silence.

I have always loved these earliest morning hours. On the rare times when I awake to others already awake, I feel the loss, the disappointment— as if I’ve missed the mystical magic of the morning.

And I know why…

Every morning when I was growing up, my dad got up first. Quietly, he’d patter down the stairs, plug in the coffee pot filled with Folgers the night before. While the perking and burbling filled the kitchen, scents drifted to my bedroom at the top of the stairs. And up he’d come.

Every morning.

“Di, it’s time to wake up.” He’d nudge my shoulder while I pretended to sleep. “Honey, wake up, it’s time…” the allure of sweetened coffee surrounding him like priceless perfume.

Eyes open now, my first glimpse of every day was him. My father: gentle, firm, kind, in control.

Every morning.

And I wake the same way still. Gently, sensing something, someone. Happy, ready, wanting to wake up, I rise as if my dad were hovering close with kind urgings to meet my day. A smile.

How many mornings have I sensed the Father’s breath on my face, His invitation to come, to meet Him before my world awakes? Just like my dad.

Come and be with Me.

And I do.

Far away, high in the mountains he loves, my dad is awake too. Wrapped in his plaid robe, slippers on, hair all ajumble. He’s got the coffee going, a light by his chair. He watches the sun rise, filling the silence with his own thoughts. Plans and hopes for the day ahead.

And I wonder, Dad, do you remember? A little girl, grown now, with wrinkles of her own. Did you know then that you were ushering me into the magic of the morning? Did you sense my need to be with you first? To share the quiet?

Or was it the Father of us both who knew? That one day I’d want these mornings with Him. That in the quiet I’d hear. That I’d need to get up early and He could make me want to by giving me a dad to love me this way.

My dad wasn’t perfect, of course not. But he made perfect mornings for me and he did it by just being himself… and by letting me be with him… and making me want to.

The sun is up now, the teapot empty. And I linger a while, my heart overflowing with memories of a childhood marked by joy. I wish, oh how I wish, that every child could say the same…

… and that alarm clocks would fade out of fashion… because of dad’s like mine.

From my heart,


5 Things My Dad Did Right:

  1. He knew my need for a gentle touch.
  2. He stayed the same, guaranteeing the security everyday sameness brings.
  3. He didn’t let the stresses of his job interfere with quiet mornings.
  4. He instilled in me the habit of preparing for the day ahead rather than flinging haphazardly into the fray.
  5. He showed me the way of the Father without saying a word.



FROM MY JOURNAL: off to school

Yesterday the iconic yellow school bus stopped outside our house, gathering up students in backpacks and new shoes. Trembling, eager, smiling, worried, both mothers and children couldn’t decide just how to feel about the start of a new school year.

But me? I couldn’t stop remembering. My children are all grown now, no new school books or yellow pencils clutter my counter. Somehow I thought this day would never come.

But just so you know I really was that mama, here are the words from my journal from long ago….


Today my little boy went off to school.

He was afraid. I was afraid.

He was excited. So was I.

He was brave. I cried.

We chattered cheerfully in the van on the way to school.  He looked so fresh and grown-up in his new haircut, plaid shirt tucked neatly in, appropriately cool baggy pants and black suede tennis shoes.  I took pictures in front of the flagpole.

He smiled.

Walking into the classroom, he gripped my hand in sweaty palm and sat oh-so-quietly at his pint-sized desk.

“Don’t leave yet Mom.  Wait ‘til all the other parents go…”

I rubbed his back and labeled his supplies.  Crayons, scissors, lots of glue, a binder covered in G. I. Joe stickers.  I took a picture of my little boy at his desk.

No smile.

Time for Mom to leave.  One last squeeze of his shoulder.  One last kiss on his cheek, and out the door.

That’s when the tears betrayed me.  Unbidden, they pushed against my eyes, threatening to embarrass me completely.  Gulping them back, I waved with false cheer at a neighbor and drove in my empty van to my empty house.

So quiet.

No chaos, no arguments, no laughter, no messes.

I have looked forward to this day.  I have plans.  For years I have said, “When my children all go to school…”

Yet today I can do nothing.I grieve an end of an era.  An era I have loved, filled with memories I cherish.

I did my share of complaining to be sure. “Can’t I even go to the bathroom alone?!” But I loved the unrushed morningcuddling with blankie and bear and my squirmy little boy.

I loved the Lego creations and the storybooks and Wee Sing tapes. I loved sidewalk chalk and popsicles dribbling down dimpled chins.  Rainy days spent building forts in the family room with blankets anchored with encyclopedias.

Most of all, I have loved the absolute trust in his eyes.  He knows I am here for him to protect him, to be proud, to understand.

For I am Mom.  Matthew’s mom.  The Best-Mom-in-the-Whole-World.

That is who I was yesterday when I held him as a babe in my arms.  It is who I am today as I leave him at his desk at school.  And tomorrow, when he is a man, I will still be…


From my heart,



Ruth 3v1-18

The Proposal (Part Five)

Click here to listen to the fourth teaching of Ruth)

The Verse of the Week




More Words From the Father

Revelation 22v17

Isaiah 53-54v5

Psalm 46

Mark 12v29-31

1 John 1v1-5

1 John 3v1-3



From my Heart 

Pages from the Past: September 1998 Memories Well Worth It

Yesterday, I took my son to college. With a quick hug and “See ya at Thanksgiving, maybe,” he turned to begin the next stage of his life.


Today, all I can remember is the past.


Just yesterday, it seems, he was born. Not squalling and screaming, but wide-eyed and silently staring at these two strangers who would love him, and discipline him, and teach him, and wipe away his tears for the next 18 years.


I remember the moments.


His hand resting on my breast as I nursed him. His first flinging steps as he raced from his dad’s outstretched hands to mine. His squeal as he ran naked down the sidewalk.

I remember the first time he opened his Bible and read it on his own. Listening as he led his little sister to receive Jesus. His ear-to-ear grin when he was baptized by his dad.

I remember playing army, dramatically dying, imitating machine gun fire, throwing waterfilled grenades. I remember playing hide and seek when he thought no one could see him if he covered his eyes.

I remember matchbox cars in the bathtub and G.I. Joe in my purse. Melted crayons in the car and rock collections in the washing machine.

I remember skinned knees and stitches, pimples and braces, loud music…and soft serenades on the piano as he waited for the carpool. Late night talks…and tears. Silly jokes with no punch line. Artwork on the fridge.


Eighteen years of memories.


One thing I know now - one thing I want to pass on to every mother of every little boy - all that work, the lost sleep, the worry, the spankings, the cooking, the cleaning up of little-boy-messes, the reading and rereading of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, the hours of listening, the carpooling, the cuts and scrapes and trips to the emergency room…


Every moment is worth it.


When you kiss him good-bye, when your job is done, when you send him off to his future, you too will remember the moments. And you will agree…


It was well worth it.


From my heart,




Saving Ruth

Redemption is at the heart of the story of Ruth. Some would say it is the whole point - the very premise of the book. It is more than a rescue, for Boaz lifts Ruth out of a precariously uncertain future and hands her hope. He rewrites the rest of her story by redeeming her from a life of poverty and rejection and loneliness.

In one breath-taking scene, Boaz concocts a plan to combine two ancient Hebrew legal institutions into one brilliant strategy. He takes the premise of property redemption by a close relative (Kinsman-Redeemer) and mixes it up with an entirely different concept which involved a brother providing for his widowed sister-in-law (levirate marriage).

Kinsman-Redeemer (go’el)

This was a way by which property would be guaranteed to stay within the tribal divisions set by Moses and Joshua as they divided the Promised Land. Families descended from the patriarchs in Genesis stayed together in an assigned vicinity within the boundaries of Israel. Further, families stayed together in close community, caring for and looking out for each family member in a sort of preemptive welfare approach.

When one head of a family died, the closest relative was required to buy that man’s land and take the dependents under his protection and provision. He got the land, but he also inherited all the responsibilities that went with it. The go’el took on hero status as he redeemed the land from the possibility of hostile take over by someone outside the family (see Leviticus 25v23-25).

Levirate marriage

This concept comes out of the latin word levir, which means husband’s brother. Simply put, it meant that when a man died without leaving an heir, a single brother or next of kin was expected to marry his widow in order to carry on his name and family line2 (see Deuteronomy 25v5-10).

Read the story in Matthew 22v23-33 when Jesus takes on a crowd of Sadducees (a group of religious scholars who refuted the idea of life after death) over this idea of Levirate marriage. Trying to trip Him up, they twist this simple concept into a complex argument. Rather than enter into the fray, Jesus urges them to see the big picture: God’s redeeming love for His people throughout the ages. In response, the Sadducees were silenced and the multitudes who were listening in “were astonished at His teaching.”





In Boaz’s response to Ruth’s proposal, he calls her a “woman of excellence” or “woman of noble character.” The Hebrew word is hayil, meaning a person of wealth, character, virtue, attainment, and comprehensive excellence. This is the same Hebrew word used to describe Boaz in Ruth 2v1, translated in most versions as “wealth” or “man of standing.”

Clearly, Ruth and Boaz had both gained reputations as people of integrity and spiritual strength.



An interesting note: The ideal woman described in Proverbs 31 is also named a woman of hayil.

“An excellent (hayil) wife who can find?

For her worth is far above jewels.”- Proverbs 31v10

LETTERS TO MY SON: growing up

  Dear Son,

Your room is crammed with boxes, overflowing with piles of towels and sheets and supplies. Teetering towers of t-shirts and extra socks take up every square foot of space in what has been your man-cave for many years.

In just a few days you will sweep all that messiness into the back of your car and drive off to make a home of your own.

When you leave I will take all my mama-grief and scrub every corner of that square of space. I’ll patch holes where you poked pins into the wall to hang your posters. Cob-webs will come down, memories will be loosened, all our long talks will echo as I dust and shine and try to find a way to place all those memories somewhere safe.

And every moment I’ll be wishing I could have stopped the years, that I could go back again and tuck you into bed at night, run my fingers through that bristly shaved head you insisted on every summer when being a boy meant sweating and swimming and certainly not messing with such a silly thing as hair.

I’ll breath deeply of the scent of manhood and remember the boy you were. The nights of worrying that diabetes would rob you of the freedom you craved. The mornings of waking you for school and answering that question that came bubbling to the surface the moment you opened your eyes: Where is everyone?

How I loved your love for all of us! Your determination to keep connected, to know where your brother was and what your sisters were up to. Your full-fledged involvement in each member of this crazy crew we call a family.

I will miss you Matthew. And the tears rim my eyes even as I push hard to put them back.

This growing up is good, so why does my heart grieve?

And I know the answer, dare I say it?

I grieve because the full birthing of love always brings loss.

To birth you into the man you are called to be I must lose the boy you were. And I know because I’ve done this before. I know things will never be the same. That the closeness that comes from living and laughing and making you meals and waking you early and worrying when you’re late… will change.

You see, dear son of mine, I have loved being your mom. And I’m a mama still, I know, but it’s the every day I have loved best.

The serving and the soothing and the listening and the hoping and the teaching and the reading and the cleaning up of little boy messes and the wiping away of big-boy tears.

I have loved how you bound up the stairs , and how your bring your friends home and crowd into your tiny room to talk about who-knows-what and pretend I don’t know that you’re talking about girls.  And maybe they like you and maybe they don’t and oh how you and all your friends who are men now wish they would and someday… someday someone will.

Matthew, I have been writing these letters about that someone. That someone who will like you and love you and hope for you forever.

May she relish who you are as I have.

I love you Matt,