A Happy Father’s Day wish to all the Dad’s out there and the grandfathers too! Here’s a little trip down memory lane to celebrate the love and commitment of the special men in our lives!
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
Psalm 26:3 – NIV
For Army brats, the name of the game is adjustment. Always the new kid in the classroom, you have to adjust to your new surroundings. Sometimes, the other kids are friendly and welcoming. Other times, they are not. The latter was true when our little nuclear family showed up in Chicago, Illinois on a wintry December day. Well, actually we arrived in the middle of a blizzard, but that’s a different story for another day.
My folks rented a house in a Chicago suburb, and enrolled my eight year old self in yet another new school. We had spent a year in South Carolina while my Dad served in Vietnam, and my Southern drawl was roaring along in overdrive. When the teacher introduced me to the rest of my classmates, they looked at me like I was from outer space. They couldn’t understand a word I said.
It really didn’t get much better from there. I was unfamiliar, and I talked funny. I was gifted in academics, but lousy at sports. None of the above endeared me to my fellow schoolmates. I muddled through the rest of the semester with the unwavering support of my loving parents. My Girl Scout troop helped too. At least my fellow scouts received the new girl more positively, and I managed to make a few friends.
Fourth grade wasn’t much better. By then, I had found a couple of friends to talk to at lunch or in the school hallways. I was a bit less conspicuous by that point and managed to fly below the radar most of the time. Well, except for gym class.
Physical education was my downfall. I couldn’t catch a ball if my life depended on it! I could get through dodgeball. I could manage to dribble the basketball. But when baseball rolled around, I was just plain miserable. I couldn’t bat. I couldn’t catch a ball no matter how hard I tried.
Those were the days when the Charlie Brown comic strip was all the rage. I could so identify with Charlie Brown. I was always the last person picked for the team. No one wanted me. I felt like a loser.
And I got tired of feeling that way. I hated going to school, and I dreaded the daily trek to the baseball field. One day, I had enough. I had endured all the rejection I could handle.
I remember storming through the back door, my lip poked out, my cheeks wet with hot tears. My Mama met me in the mud room, and started pulling the story out of me. She soothed my wounded spirit with words of comfort and encouragement as she always did so well, but that day, I needed more than words. I needed action.
When my Dad walked through the door that evening, I was ready. Tears dried up, but poked out lip still in place, I spilled the beans on my misery at the ball field. Dad listened to my story with rapt attention and a frown of sympathy. As he lifted me into his lap for a hug of comfort, I blurted out my request. “Daddy, will you teach me to play baseball? I want to know how to hit the ball and catch it. I don’t want to be the last kid picked anymore.”
My dad’s clear blue eyes found mine, his steady gaze full of fatherly reassurance. As he squeezed my shoulders with his snug embrace, he replied, “Of course I will. We can work on that!”
As always, he was true to his word. A few days later on Saturday morning, we piled into the car and headed for the JC Penney department store. In the sporting goods department, we started our search. A shiny new wooden bat and crisp white baseball were plucked off the shelves. I held out my hand as Daddy tried one glove after another until we found the perfect fit. He then scanned the shelves for a glove of his own. My heart was soaring as we stepped out of the store, our new purchases in hand.
My training commenced in the side yard after supper. Dad donned his new glove, and I slid my fingers into my own new mitt. Dad offered a few instructions. Mama stood nearby, poised for words of encouragement and ball retrieval when necessary. Back and forth, we threw the ball. Most of the time, it hit the ground instead of my glove, but Dad wouldn’t let me give up. When he brought out the bat and assumed the pitcher’s mound, Mom moved to the outfield. Again and again, I missed his pitches, but we kept trying.
Night after night, we trotted out to the side yard and began my lessons. Daddy was so patient, Mama so positive in her coaching. We spent hours at it, and you know what? I made progress.
Soon, I was catching Daddy’s tosses. More often than not, my bat made contact with the ball. I wasn’t hitting them out of the park, but I was hitting the pitches as they came my way. My frowning face found smiles once more as I caught the ball and tossed it back.
The kids at school noticed too. Instead of missing every pitch, I started hitting the ball far enough to make the dash to first base. I was always stuck in the outfield, but when the ball came my way, I sometimes made the catch, and I now could throw it hard enough to make it back to the second baseman.
No, I was no Babe Ruth, but I was no longer the last girl chosen for the team. Beyond that, I learned some valuable life lessons that have stayed with me all my life. First, never ever ever give up! Secondly, practice makes perfect, or at least, good enough to get by. Perhaps even more important, I learned that it doesn’t matter what other people think of you, it matters what you think of yourself.
Yes, I learned much more than baseball on those spring evenings in the side yard. I watched my parents scurry around on that green grass, and I realized that my happiness was worth far more to them than any sports achievement or academic accolade I might ever earn. No matter how bad I was at baseball, I was worthy in their eyes. Indeed, a loving mother is an incredible blessing, and the steadfast love of a good father is a gift beyond compare.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy! Rest assured I remember all the good things you did for me all along the way. I am forever grateful.
Friends, I hope you will take a moment today to thank the fathers and grandfathers in your life, and perhaps even your spouses for the love they have shown their children. From a game of backyard catch after a hard day of work to a kind word or a tight hug on a tough day, there’s nothing quite like the reassurance of a father’s love to make a child feel worthy.
Dear friends, hear this good news. You are always worthy in your Heavenly Father’s eyes. The world may ridicule and reject you, but our Lord loves you beyond measure. You are a home run hit with Him always!
the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11 – NIV
O Gracious God, our Faithful Heavenly Father, Lord of All, you are our God, and we are your children. We are precious in Your eyes, and that is a gift beyond measure. We are full of faults and failures, yet You call us worthy. You call us “Beloved!” How we relish Your marvelous love, and how we thank You for the marvelous men in our lives who have loved us so.
In the Good and Gracious Name of Jesus, we lift up our thanks and praise,