What a Dad Sometimes Can’t See

This week I am so excited to welcome my brother-in-law and friend, Landon Brown, to Once Upon a Writer. Landon is an amazing father of three, and when I first read his account of my nephew, Garrett, and his dragon fighting adventures, I knew it was a story of whimsy and wisdom…a story I couldn’t wait to share with you.

~ Written by Landon Brown ~

“Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” C.S. Lewis

I caught a glimpse of skin, stripes, and shiny plastic as I turned from the kitchen towards the living room. 

It was 9:00 pm on a Saturday, traditionally a day to gather up the pieces of family life dropped along the path of the week.  This Saturday, however, found our family scattered to the four corners of our world with Melanie away at a conference and my two oldest children with friends.

I almost missed it as my mind registered the scene of my seven-year-old son and his nine-year-old best friend. 

The call of adventure woke these boys at 7:30 am and they…

Rode bikes through a battlefield fighting the enemy with a Nerf gun…

Scorched the putt-putt course and won a pair of swords…

Broke the swords in a dual…

Ran from an imaginary villain through the Monkey Joe obstacle course…

Fought WW2 after they got home…

Built a fort using blankets, and pillows, and chairs…

All while making those shooting and sword fight noises only boys can make. Now (whew!!!), they were home and not far from bedtime.

It was what I didn’t see as I entered the living room that made the day worth remembering and cherishing…

I didn’t see the band of pirates chasing these “scalawags…” 

I didn’t see the ocean teeming with hungry sharks and giant tentacled octopi (cool word) that dared them to teeter off the ship (couch) and fall into waiting jaws… 

I didn’t notice the helpless princess they were protecting and trying to rescue…

Nor did I see these things for most of that tiring Saturday.

I almost missed it.  I almost saw nothing but a messy living room, and I almost got upset to find two broken swords scattered on the floor. But something (the Holy Spirit) reminded me that this make-believe world in the minds of these boys was given to them by God. 

One day these two “warriors” will grow up to be men…protectors and providers. Families will look to them to fight the enemy of their souls with no less energy and determination.

So let them fight.

Let their imaginary battles rage on, and let them dream of rescue. Let them imagine enemies, and castles, and sword fights. Victory and defeat.

Because the enemies will one day come, and they will be real, and the stakes will be high.

Let’s teach them about The Lord of Angel Armies, who warns us of the ultimate enemy, who fights our battles for us, who rescues us from peril. Let’s teach them about miraculous victories and impossible odds overcome by His power and might. Let’s teach them about the final victory of Jesus over His enemies and of the final restored kingdom of God on this earth.

Tell them stories…don’t lose the opportunity while their imaginations soar.

Tell them God’s story.

Give them hope.

And, dads…remind yourself of these things often. May God grant all of us eyes of faith that we may wonder at the things we cannot see.

Books from Dad: A Father’s Day Post

Books from Dad

Books from my dad.

For several years, too many for me to remember, my dad has given me a book on writing for Christmas.

Most of them I’ve read. Some I’ve skimmed and others I know I may never tackle (Vladimir Nabokov Lectures on Russian Literature falls into this category…sorry, Dad!) But one thing is certain: I love these books.

Every volume in my “Books from Dad” collection is of precious value to me. You see, my dad started giving me these books long before I ever started taking myself serious as a writer. And likewise, my dad believed in me as a writer, long before I ever did.

I remember the first few years when I’d open his Christmas gift. While I loved the idea, I hated the feeling it put in my gut. The reminder that I should be writing. The conviction that I was ignoring my dream. The fear of disappointing my dad.

But at the same time there was such comfort, such hope found in the act of unwrapping those books. The promise of someday. The gentle reminder of what my heart was for. The knowledge that no matter what my dad was never going to stop believing in me.

I don’t know when my dad started to see me as a writer. Perhaps it was in the third grade when I started keeping a journal full of stories, poems, and random entries about my family and friends. Or maybe it was in high school when I gave up basketball for a spot on the newspaper staff. Regardless of when and how, my dad saw something in me. Something worth supporting anyway he could.

Through all the years I played ring-around-the-rosie with my desire to write. Through all the years I believed I couldn’t be a writer. Through all the years I procrastinated and barely wrote one word. My dad sat on the sidelines and waited in my cheering section, patiently prodding, refusing to give up, convinced to his core that I was a writer.

Dad Pic 4

Reading together.

I can’t begin to describe how profound this is for me. To know in some deep, deep place of my mind and my heart that even when I didn’t believe in myself, my dad was always there believing in me. To not feel forced, coerced, or beat over the head with my father’s demands or expectations but lovingly coaxed, creatively encouraged, and faithfully believed in, beyond what I deserved, has played a massive role in making me the writer I am today.

I share this with you on Father’s Day because I think it’s a great reminder for dads (and moms) to carefully observe our children. To watch them. To notice what moves them, what makes their hearts sing.

What brings light and life to their eyes?

What fills them with laughter and joy?

What makes them jump with excitement?

What do you find them doing when no one is watching?

All of these are clues. As your children learn and grow, keep watching, keep observing. Look for ways to nudge and guide. Take advantage of opportunities to support and encourage. Always, always let them know that you love them no matter what and that you believe in the person God created them to be.

I am so blessed to have both a mother and father that have done this for me. They watched me, observed me, and supported me beyond my own belief. And now I get to do the same, to carry on the tradition, for my girls.

At five and two I’m just beginning to see my daughters’ passions and pursuits shine through. Their dreams for tomorrow change almost daily and vary from marrying their daddy to having one hundred children someday. But you can bet I’m watching them. I’m watching for that spark in their eyes, that joy in their heart.

As for my dad, I realized long ago that the real gift he’s given me each Christmas isn’t a book but the tangible reminder of his belief in me, even when, especially when I didn’t believe in myself.

I wish I knew how to thank my dad for his love, support, and encouragement. For his refusal to let me quit and his faithful confidence in me. But I don’t.

All I can do is write.

Don’t forget, today is the last day to enter my drawing for a copy of I Like Giving by Brad Formsma. (A great gift idea for dad!)  For more info click here.

Thank you to everyone who has entered, shared a link, and/or left a comment. I have enjoyed reading all your great ideas on how to keep giving going!