Core scripture: “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13)
Message: We tossed the Frisbee back and forth as the sun slipped away from view. The coolness of the evening tickled our skin. I inhaled the nature around me. Fresh cut grass. Campfire. Pure sweetness. I did not want this moment to end. It felt like heaven came to earth.
“So what do you think?” I asked my eight-year-old son. “Would you like to drive down to Sonic and get a sweet treat?”
You could hear his little mind humming. “Ummmmmm … ”
We had been planning this sleepover at the barn for quite some time, and now that the moment had come, he struggled with what meant more: a delectable ice cream or more time to enjoy the evening.
“Dad, I think I just want to explore.”
Well played! This night was bound to be remembered for something more than ice cream. He trotted down the hill towards the fence bordering the outside of the farm. We ducked through to the other side, encountering a whole new world we had never navigated before.
A pond. A large hill. A picnic table. We trekked around the edge of the pond, listening to the bullfrogs croak.
“DAD!” my son exclaimed excitedly. “LOOK!”
He pointed down the grassy hill. At the bottom there was a large wooden swing hanging from the branches of an old oak tree that had probably been there since God spoke the world into existence.
No sooner had we run down the hill that he whipped his head around toward the edge of the woods.
“Fireflies!” he laughed.
I smiled, remembering those days back when I was his age. My brother and I would take those big fat red whiffle ball bats into our backyard and try to hit them. If you connected, the firefly would light up and fall in a cascading arch toward the ground below.
He plucked one out of the air, cupping his little hands around it, peeking inside to watch the glow.
“Why don’t you let it go, big guy,” I suggested gently.
I may not be able to save the ones I hit as a kid, but I can save this one. Yeah, you are not as smart as a kid. My son had compassion on the firefly. It fluttered its tiny wings into the night. We walked back up the hill to the edge of the pond and decided it was time to head back to the barn.
The dogs greeted us as we slipped through the gate. Always and Furever houses senior dogs. Our family has been volunteering there since April. We know all the dogs by name. Gump. Momma. Ladybug. Charlie. Toby. There are always about 15 dogs roaming about. They stay there until they get fostered or adopted. We quietly opened the door to the barn.
“Paco!” my son cooed as the tiny chihuahua tried to scoot past his legs.
We crept through the door. Picture this. You walk in to see a conglomeration of couches, dog beds, and comfy chairs, each one draped with a snuggly blanket. The dogs get their pick. They are scattered through the middle and right side of the cement-laid barn. To the left you see a row of kennels that lead to a well-kept kitchen in the back left corner.
“Where are we going to sleep, Dad?” my son asked excitedly.
“Pick a place you want to lay down,” I laughed.
“Not yet, Dad,” he declared. “We have to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid first.”
Of course. How could I forget that? Quality literature. We snuggled up on the couch, and I read to him. I am pretty sure the dogs liked the book as much as my son. Heck, I enjoyed it myself! Or maybe it was the moment I savored. Just me and my son. I kissed him lightly on his head.
After brushing and changing into PJs, we settled in for our sleepover. This was a special treat. Of all the couches and chairs to pick from, my son chose a medium-sized dog bed to curl up in. I sprawled out on the couch next to him. The dogs settled in. So did we. I pulled a blanket over my shoulders and molded into the couch below me.
“Good night, buddy,” I whispered. “I am here if you need me.”
“Good night, Dad,” he whispered back. “Hey, Dad?”
Long pause. “Can you sing to me?”
“I thought you’d never ask,” I smiled.
Kneeling down next to him, I sang the song to him that I sing almost every night, Aaron Shust’s “My Savior My God.” I rubbed his back, and he drifted off to sleep.
Upon waking up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I walked over to check on my son. There he was. Curled up beneath a blanket. Arm draped over sweet Ella. Out like a light. He glowed beneath the bug zapper that served as the perfect nightlight.
Upon waking up the next morning, I pulled out my Bible. My son knows that I begin each day with a quiet reading. That particular day led me through Job, Psalms, and Nehemiah, not to mention Philemon. I read aloud to him, cuddling on the couch.
We read. We prayed. We started our day.
Nothing could touch that experience. We had created a memory together that would live forever in our hearts. That quality time with my son was relished. I cannot wait to reciprocate it with his little brother, reliving it all over again.
Take some time to reflect on that scripture at the top. Compassion is such a powerful word. Those sweet dogs at Always and Furever are being shown compassion every day. You can likewise show compassion to anyone you choose. When you express heartfelt compassion to others, they see God’s goodness through you.
This weekend we celebrate Father’s Day. Personally, moments like this are what make Father’s Day special to me. Quality time with my son. He could have gotten me any gift, but no gift could ever be as precious as those moments I spent with him. Never forget that one of the most important gifts you can ever give is time.
My recommendation? Create a memory with someone special. Take your dad out. Or if you are a dad yourself, take your kids to the pool. Splash around with them. Race them across the water. Even if you struggle in making these moments happen, it is never too late to try.
Through it all, praise your Heavenly Father. Never neglect quality time with Him through prayer. After all, He gets the credit in the end. Cherish His blessings this weekend.
Challenge: This one is a no-brainer. Celebrate Father’s Day in style! Even if your dad is not around anymore or if strained family relationships make this day difficult for you, you can still be a Philippians 4:8 person, focusing on the good things in life. They are out there if you patiently look for them.
Other scripture: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5).
Prayer points: Pray that my family can celebrate Father’s Day well on Saturday. I leave on Father’s Day for church camp. It will be wonderful time spent with our middle schoolers, but I will greatly miss my family at the same time.
Quote: “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” (Billy Graham)
Video application: Would you like to learn a little more about Always and Furever? Check out these brief news clips that shows the amazing things they do!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for being the ultimate Father. You are everything to me! Amen.
(I will be taking a hiatus from my blog next week due to Camp CYOKAMO, but look forward to hearing a story or two from camp when I return!)