I looked out my kitchen window this morning and saw a man walking down the street. The sight of him took my breath away for a moment. He was walking away from my direction, but his height, size, gate, the way he swung his arms as he walked… It looked just like him!
Oh, what an amazing man he was!
He called me his “Little Sunshine Girl.” I called him, “Daddy.” I loved going everywhere with him, but one of my favorite places was the grocery store. Often times, as we would walk out the door – with my little hand tucked into his big one – he’d say, “Last one to the car is a rotten egg!” He’d let go and I would tear off running. I always won.
I was a little tomboy and could run, jump and climb with the best of them. This made for many scrapes and splinters. When I’d come running inside with another wound, my mom would sometimes talk through her imaginary speaker and call for the doctor. He’d meet with me in his exam room (their bathroom) to doctor the wounds, and then I’d be off again – out to the great outdoors to run, jump and climb some more.
We have some of those old black and white movies. Remember the ol’ reel-to-reel and no sound?! Okay…maybe you don’t. But man, I love those old movies! There’s one, in particular, that’s my very favorite. The day was cold and the wind was blowing pretty hard. I had just gotten my first pair of roller skates with “metal” wheels and wanted to go outside and try them out. I was all decked out in my brand new skates, blue jeans, puffy blue jacket and this really really long red and white knit hat with a big puffball at the very end of it. I’m fairly certain he would have been the one to buy me such a hat because he was just like that…it was different and fun and he knew I would love it. And I did!
So there I was…8 years old…brand new roller skates…crazy wild curls bursting out from under my knit hat…ready to set out and show him what I could do. Him…with all of his camera equipment to film the big event. I could only go as far as the fire hydrant, which was about five doors down from ours, so I skated down to the boundary line and turned around to skate back to him as he filmed. I realized the wind was at my back and pushing me really hard! I stopped moving my feet and started flapping my arms. The wind took hold of me and literally pushed me right back towards to him. You can see me yelling to him, “I can fly!” Boy…I was really flapping those arms! My dad had a wonderful voice and his laughter was infectious…and I can still hear it as I realized that I could fly. He filmed me a few more times…skating down to the fire hydrant and “flying” back to him. In the final scene I am flying right at him…with no intention of stopping… an ear-to-ear smile…arms flapping like crazy in the wind…crazy curly hair trying to come out from under that crazy knit hat…to give him, what it appears to be, a big hug! The camera shuts off at that point – so he could move it aside – as I came in for my big landing.
He gave me the best “bear hugs” that always made me feel so warm and fuzzy. He was my absolute everything!!! I never got into those matches of, “my dad’s taller…or bigger…or smarter” because I just knew…he was larger than life and there wasn’t a dad on earth that could hold a candle to him, at least in my eyes. My dad …he had this tremendous love for family, friends, music, movies, football…he had a tremendous love for LIFE! He always had a light that just shined bright.
I was in a Bible study group where the question was asked, “What does ‘childlike’ faith look like?” Honestly…as I sit here and write this, I couldn’t even begin to tell you what anyone else in the room had to say because all I could think of was my dad.
Childlike faith… I loved my dad more than anything else in this world. I was totally and completely dependent on him. He was my protector and I knew that he would never let anything or anyone harm me. He had rules and boundaries (‘Don’t go past the fire hydrant”) – and I did my very best to obey them. Of course, if I didn’t obey them, I’d often have to face the consequences of my choices. I hated it when I made the wrong choices, because I loved my dad so much and never liked the idea of letting him down. But even during those difficult and trying times (teenage years), I never had to question his love for me. He loved everything about me…unconditionally. When my dad left this side of my life, it would have been very easy for me to fall into a deep depression. And actually, there are days that come when I feel overwhelmed by the reality that he’s really not here anymore.
But before this story takes a sad turn…the good news is that I had found another ‘Dad’ so to speak. I found Him at one of the darkest moments of my life. While I was on the brink of losing my earthly dad…and as I cried out from the depths of my broken heart…He reached out and swept me up into His enormous arms and gave me the biggest and strongest bear hug I have ever felt in my entire life.
Childlike faith… “My” Father… My” Everything!!! Who is even bigger, and stronger, and more larger than life than the dad I had here on earth! If it hadn’t have been for Him, I couldn’t have made it through some of those dark moments. He is my Protector and keeps me out of harm’s way. He gives me boundaries and rules to live by and I do my very very best to obey them. If I don’t, I sometimes face the consequences of my choices. But I know that His love for me is unconditional and I love him more than anything or anyone in this world!
Childlike faith… Even though I’m grown and no longer considered a child in the world’s eyes, the thing that I really love and adore about Him is that… My Father is always ready to doctor my wounds. When my heart feels the scrapes and splinters of life He’s there in a moment’s notice to get to work on healing me or just holding me if I need a big shoulder to cry on. My Father allows me to put my tiny little hand in his enormous one when I just want to hold hands with him…or when he’s guiding me along in my life. My Father has a tremendous love for family, friends, music, and, I believe, even football! He loves to laugh and run and play right along beside me. He loves to hear whatever I have to tell him. His voice is beautiful and soothing, and his laughter is more infectious than any I’ve ever heard. My Father loves it when I come flying in for a landing…with an ear-to-ear smile…arms flapping like crazy in the wind…crazy curly hair and all…to get a big hug! And He, without fail, will wrap me up in those enormous arms and give me the biggest “bear hug” I’ve ever experienced just to make me feel warm and fuzzy.
He calls me His “Little Sunshine Girl.”
And I call him, “Father.”