Father’s Day, Hats, and Hand Grenades

fathersdaysignI suppose it would have been appropriate for me to post about Father’s Day a little earlier than 7PM on Sunday, but frankly I didn’t plan on writing a Father’s Day blog post this year. Then two things happened to change my mind.

First, my Pastor read something from the pulpit this morning. Then, I stumbled on this great Father’s Day picture and just had to share it with y’all.

While the casual observer might think this hilarious photo is out of character with the rest of this post, in a weird and wonderful way the two go together like steaks and charcoal. I’m quite certain that when my daughter Sara sees this she’ll roar, because she and I have such similar senses of humor that we usually can just look at each other, instantly think of the same punch line, and burst into simultaneous laughter while everyone else is wondering what’s so funny.

Sara, who is now 30 years old and just finished her eighth year teaching German to elementary school kids, is fond of saying that she is a fascinating study of nature versus nurture. The interesting thing is that when people who know us learn we are a blended family they always assume she’s my blood and Sharon adopted her, when in fact it was I who adopted Sara on December 18, 1992.

Which brings us to the second part of this post, the part that happened first. This morning, my Pastor read something from the pulpit. I recognized the piece before the first sentence reached the back row—a 500 word essay Sara wrote last year when she nominated me for the Arkansas Baptist News Father of the Year award. Here is what she wrote, without a single jot or tittle edited by me:

Most people just take the father God gives them at birth.  Not me.

God knew I needed a father I could touch to understand how much I am loved by Him.  After all, a woman’s image of God is often a replica of her image of her earthly father.  Since 1990, I’ve had a clearer image of God’s love because of my father.

I was nine, in 1989, when my mama met him.  She loved him a lot.  She asked if I loved him too. Until then, every man I had ever loved had gone away and left me and my mama behind.  I wanted my mama to have him.  I wanted to love him, but I was afraid he’d leave her, so I wouldn’t let myself. After all, it was my father who had abandoned me after my parents divorced in 1987.

About a year later in July 1990, my mama married him, but I was still afraid to love him.

It took some time, but eventually, I learned to trust him.  I asked him to become my father, legally. I was fourteen when on December 18, 1992, he stood before a judge, telling God and man that he chose me; that he wanted to be my father.  I wanted that too.

It’s been over fifteen years since that day.

I didn’t know it then, but I was broken inside, when it came to understanding what it meant to have a father who loves me and really does want me to be his daughter.  God knew that, and He always provides.

My father had been prepared, by God, to have a daughter.  He wanted a daughter even though there hadn’t been a girl born into his family in many generations.  God knew that he’d have a daughter and gave him the desire to be a little girl’s father.  God gives us the desires of our hearts.

At times, I have felt forsaken, abandoned, and so alone that I couldn’t see the presence of anyone around me–even God, Himself.  Thankfully, God put His skin on my father to help me learn to see Him when I feel alone.

As I have learned to trust him, I have trusted God more too.  I’ve always known, in my head, that God wants to tuck me in at night, wipe away my tears, walk hand in hand with me, and be my Father.  I can say that in the past fifteen years, I’ve been able to move that knowledge, slowly, from my head into my heart.

People often say that it takes a “real man” to be a father.  If you’re adopted, there’s more.  Because it takes a VERY special kind of “real man” to be a father to someone else’s child.

I’m exceedingly grateful that I know a “VERY special kind of ‘real man'”.  He’s more than a father to me.  He picked me to be his daughter.

His name is Dan Case, and I love him a lot.

–Sara Case, Fathers’ Day, 2008

Even though I’d read this before—more than once—I will admit to shedding humble tears. I am so very blessed, and so thankful for God’s amazing restoration and grace in my life, that I’ve found it difficult to find words to express myself. If you know me, you know that anything that can shut me up so effectively is a mighty big deal.

I love you, Sara. Thanks for a wonderful Father’s Day–and for the privilege of being your father.

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