Wooley

Fathers are a fact… good dads are rare. I had both. This is my tribute post. To the one who paved the way for me to become the man  I am today. Rest in peace dad… you did good. Proud to be your son.

Dads story begins on May 20th, 1938…. and ended March 1st, 2017

Remembering “Wooley”

My dad was a remarkable man- if you knew him you at least sensed there was more to his story than you could see…and… there really was.

Dad was known for his slowly articulated oral adventures 🙂  – he could talk at great length about the nature of the human body and the spiritual soul – or the rigors of climbing Longs peak in Colorado… he drove every kind of car or truck and came home with a different vehicle 2 or 3 times some years. He was motorcycle man who owned 2 BMW’s – a couple of Honda Gold Wings and full dress Harley Davidson before he retired from riding.

He loved sports and the outdoors, he was a man of great faith and great integrity – He kept his word. Period.

His work ethic was unmatched – he worked dawn to dusk and then came home & cleaned the house or garage or a car…  🙂

His greatest loves beyond his Faith &  “Mimi” (who he adored for over 60 years ) were;

His two boys –

Strong black Coffee

Chiropractic –

Cars & motorcycles

the Blue Ridge Parkway –

Working outside – having a project to start

Mountains and the men who explored them

His neighbors and his few but loyal life long friendships

A few quotes about my dad 

The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.” Solomon

  • He was born with the bark on” (Sackett proverb 🙂

– “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” Theodore Hesburgh

You gotta grab a root and growl son!” – Denny Fredrick (Clyde – Sackett  / June)

Louis L’Amour quote describes him well…

This-this was what made life: a moment of quiet, the water falling in the fountain, the girl’s voice. . . a moment of captured beauty. Those who are truly wise will never permit such moments to escape.”

 “We were together. I forget the rest”. – Walt Whitman

He lived at least four lives that I know of…

1 – His early years, “Ferdinand” (the bull – a nickname given by his favorite uncle – Vernon Mathias) was a humble, honest, hometown boy – he became a 4 sport letterman and athletic star in Peru IN / a jock with a beautiful young woman he discovered in the Peru high school marching band that he started dating early in HS. Dad was the clean cut – “happy days” all-American kid – responsible and handsome – he worked to pay his way – no favors and no handouts – he chose a career in Chiropractic after struggling with shin splints in his sports endeavors – married and fearless he went to St Louis to find his fortune – Mimi in tow.

dad-1960s-with-kevin-and-mimi

Mimi – Kevin and Dr. G L Mathias – Circa 1965 – Tuscola IL

2 – Dr G L Mathias of Tuscola, IL  was an ambitious – successful businessman, family man and leader. Developing and mentoring doctors and/or  disciples wherever he could. A man of deep faith he dedicated his life to serving God and opened his home and heart to Gods people generously for over two decades. Raising his two boys along side Europeans, African missionaries and an Indian holy man. He brought in countless exiles to live with us – single men and women, even down on their luck families who were broken and battered by life – needing a home and safe place to recover. We always had 2 or 3 or 5 people living in our home – some for years at a time.

wooley-and-family-97

Retired “Wooley” and his family in VA

3 – Retired Doc Mathias of Fancy Gap, VA. was a whole “nuther smoke” bringing his widowed father in to live with them  on the mountain, as he and Mimi retired to their beloved Blue Ridge Parkway. There he was a ‘more’ laid back – grandfather of six with extra time to golf and enjoy the views. But he couldn’t stop working entirely – helping with a local winery / managing a golf course and of course remodeling his home with infinite number of “projects”. He managed to continue treating dozens of patients for “free” in his basement and had the closest cut grass and bushes in the county. He made numerous medical mission trips to impoverished orphanages in Romania, his beloved Mimi by his side. Dad was always moving- always doing – retirement wasn’t a reality for him. This season of dad’s life is when we simply began to refer to him as ‘Wooley’ – christened so by his first grandson… David ‘wooley buggar’ Mathias.

4 – Wooley and Mimi decided to relocate after some health scares and they showed up in Spring Hill TN about 11 years ago. Leaving their idyllic mountain home in VA, they moved to Tennessee to live with me and my family of five 🙂 Driven closer by health concerns and a renewed desire to be involved with Christian ministry & a faith community – “woooley” and “Mimi” became a “thing” much bigger than they knew. Despite his age and fading health – Woolley was constantly working around the garage or the neighbors, a friend to every family in our Benevento cul-de-sac –

wooley-and-his-buddies

Wooley and 2 of his adopted grand-kids in Spring Hill

If you did’t know him… Dad loved everyone – bought gifts for the city sanitation guys and local landscape migrant workers every year – he noticed the guys in the background and cared for the sick and hurting for free until the last year or two. He was a father to “many” and a mentor to more! His home was open to any who needed to talk or pray – and he greeted every visitor at church with a warm smile and hug. He was a gentle soul with love to share for so many. Just look around you… we gathered here are but a small fraction of the lives he and Mimi touched – each in a very unique and special way.

So, depending on when you met my dad – how you knew him… you could have entirely different ideas of who he was… how he lived, what he stood for. It is true that he finished his life a better man – a kinder & gentler man than when he began. He understood pain and suffering – sorrow and sadness more than most. He knew of humility and loss, recognizing the world was broken – and he was ready to go to a place where life was as it should be…  yet he chose to believe the best about people and gave to anyone who had a need. He treasured loyalty and faithfulness above all else.

—————

In his last months he fought through the cloud of dementia and mental confusion – always searching for a way to escape – his faithful “Gracie Anne” by his side – He never forgot the faces of his family and friends – and loved with a “fierce” and “stubborn” love that is all but extinct today.

family-2015

The Wooley Mathias Family – 2015 

—————-

Through it all, my dad was loyal & strong. He could be quite stubborn – intensely focused – thick headed (which means always right)- could be mite controlling and often was overly demanding of himself and others – but he was always gracious and gentle when given time to reflect – dad had a genuine heart and wanted to serve in the simple and unseen ways. Setting up chairs, sweeping the floors… holding the door.

He loved to eat out with Mimi on their frequent date nights – loved to see his grand-kids and have a glass of wine with the neighbors – he loved wood fires at night – enjoyed listening to Rich Mullins & James Taylor. He owned every James Bond, loved John Wayne, and adored the days and ways of Andy Griffith. He loved reading his bible, praying for other people – and listening to the DAB with father Brian. He made it to Israel, Italy, Switzerland, France, Romania, Canada and Alaska – journeys all of the heart and then took our entire family on an epic Road-trip to Canada in 2010 to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. His love of travel and beauty was passed on to every member of our family… from the oldest to the youngest. That legacy lives on here at Road Trip parenting.

DSC_0181 (2)

Wooley and Mimi Family Road Trip! Circa 2010

Dad was the genuine deal… the authentic article, nothing fake or artificial about him. He lived with a different code. He took commitment seriously. He was chivalrous and bold, courageous and firm at a time when men were supposed to be quiet and reserved – he cherished our mom as the queen of our home and his life. He set the marriage bar very high… showing us boys how to faithfully love and endure through the good and the bad.

mimi-and-wooley-dancing-2012

Wooley with his “Mimi”

He loved his native Indiana and always thought of himself as a Hoosier – a simple man of plain tastes he preferred jeans jackets and work boots to a coat and tie. He longed for the crisp mountain air of Estes Park to the warm breezes off of Mt Pisgah’s heights – dad was a lover of American history & the natural beauty of Gods exquisite creation.

His favorite passages of scripture were in the Psalms – 23 and 139. He read and re-read the scriptures – meditating on their words and meanings – praying for hours some days for the trials of others.

He asked for his grave marker to simply say… “he walked with God” , not a mere boast… it was the truth and any who knew Him would same it’s so.

Dad was a character – but he was also a man of character – and that more than any other quality inspires me to live my life with renewed courage and deep integrity every day. His life left a deep impact on thousands and my brother and I were blessed to know and be fathered by him. Dad was old school – and wonderfully unique.

dads-last-days-feb-17

February 2017 – A moment of repose captured by his grand-daughter Colleen

My Dads life is over… his course has been run. I believe he was greeted by Christ himself… with a thunderous whisper… “well done

I know I have a lot of shoe yet to fill…and by God’s grace and my father’s authentic example, I shall endeavor to do just that.

Pastor B.

A fathers heart

So much of what we read, hear & watch brings us down.

Life can “feel’ dark and dire, empty of hope. But every once in a while you run across something fresh and new and full of life. Last weekend’s Abba’s Way (Father’s Heart Weekend) for Dads and Son’s was a spark of renewal for me, and for about sixty other fathers and their boys.

I came as a pastor-author-speaker, they as dads with their 6-12 year old sons.

Abbasway.com

Abbasway.com

It was a beautiful time to be a part of, an honor and a privilege to watch as grown men took the time to focus 100% on their boys, from fishing and archery to capture the flag, boat rides, ropes courses, climbing, ice cream and everything in between, the ministry of Abba’s Way is making an impact that can be felt.

How many of us wish our fathers had taken the time to really explain and affirm us as young men and women ? How many 40 something adults are still walking around each day with only a part of their heart intact, waiting for dad to tell them how special they are, how cherished, how valuable and rare? 

Millions of us are still wondering if we’ve got what it takes to be a “good” father. Lacking the example in our own homes as kids, we’ve slowly bounced through life, fearful of hurting the kids we love. Frozen from our own ignorance and inability to articulate what we feel, we’re a bit unsure of what we should ‘say. So for many dads, we simply choose to be quiet.

We know how to ‘do things, so we opt to work harder at work in an effort to provide for more things for them, something that  “demonstrates” our feelings, but we don’t’ understand how important affirming words and private time spent alone with our kids is. Dads… you need to know, taking the time out of your hectic schedule to speak a blessing over your kids, of risking the attempt to communicate your heart  with theirs… has a far greater impact than laboring to earn an upper-middle class lifestyle.

Father's Heart Weekend - Aug '14 - Camp Widjiwagan

Father’s Heart Weekend – Aug ’14 – Camp Widjiwagan

The guys behind Abba’s Way are making the heroic effort to reverse this imbalance and in doing so are providing Churches with a valuable new vehicle to use. A weekend retreat just for fathers to express their hearts to their sons and daughters.

A ministry that genuinely affirms the men in our world to lead and champions the pivotal  role dads  play in forming a tweens character, identity and spiritual beliefs.

I’m always blogging about the growing cultural dis-connect between fathers and their kids, about the ever diminishing impact of Christians in culture and the moral decline of America,…  it’s important to offer solutions and share promising new ways Christians are responding to the negatives in our world.

The truth is… our Father in heaven has done everything possible to reach his lost sons and daughter’s, but we as parents can get so swept up in the current of life despair that we forget how much we are loved. How profoundly precious we are.

If we don’t step back just a little to “remember” that truth we can get pretty empty, and even become lost in the how or when we should be sharing with our own children. Abba’s Way provides an answer for any dad who feels inadequate or unprepared for fatherhood.

Not an issue just for dads and sons, the need for daughters and fathers to connect is huge as well, and Abba’s Way is responding with their “Father’s Delight” programs for girls.fh-featuredarea-2014c

SO BE ENCOURAGED, and remember our Father’s Heart is for you, and for your children.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-for-encouragement-20-great-scripture-quotes/#ixzz3A5hxVdQv

Peace out, Pastor B.

 

That dreaded day arrives…

My father’s heart is hurting, my munchkinaroo is going to college.

When my oldest (Jessica) went last year… it was really hard, but she did so well – and grew up so fast as a college student, my fears for her quickly evaporated. She was ready to go when the time came and jumped out of her little nest into a University world with relative ease.

munchkinaroo 2006

munchkinaroo 2006

Munchkinaroo is different for me. My youngest daughter and middle child… at 18, she still likes to crawl up on my lap and watch movies, She loves to be home and hang out, cook and generally be daddy’s little girl. For me to consider her leaving home… that’s one of the big day’s in my parenting life that I’ve dreaded.

It’s every dad’s despair… the understanding that his little girl has grown up. To realize and recognize (not the same thing) the strength and maturity of our kids growing into adulthood and with it… greater freedom and responsibility. ( Yikes… I sound like a college brochure)

Still it’s true. Days we dread to face… I know when I pull away from her dorm on Thursday my eyes will be burning and my heart will stinging as I ride off and “LEAVE” her behind.

ALONE….

By Her self.

No one to protect her.

Vulnerable.

And while all of that may “seem” to be the case emotionally.. my pastor heart reminds me that we’re never alone, never by ourselves in the battle of life and we’re always being protected by our heavenly Father who keeps us from harm and directs our path to safety.

Rites of passage are never easy… but they are OH SO IMPORTANT.

Have courage fellow college dads… you are not alone, there is at least one other red-eyed father praying his guts out somewhere, surviving the pain and the joy of watching our child become an adult….

Bethany - 2013

Bethany – 2013

I can’t help but wonder how God feels when we grow up in our faith… Proudly cheering us on as we step out bravely into new life experiences and higher levels of trust. I wonder if he’s as proud of me as I am of my munchkinaroo ? … Applauding from a distance at the faith we grow and show to him, as parents…fathers, daughters and sons.

Peace out and pray for me… I’ll need it.

Pastor B.

Heart of a Father…

Fathers day is upon us. Time to reflect, time to consider.. its clear that for most of us fathers and grandfathers are a big deal. But for some of us, a father is a very difficult person to identify anything positive with.

I love my dad, he’s an American classic. A real life success story, from humble beginnings and decades of hard work he managed to earn a professional degree and find success and influence as a well-respected Chiropractic Physician for over four decades. But there’s more to that story, He also lived his life with un-impeachable integrity, keeping his word when it hurt and making sure he finished what he started. As a man of faith, he remains tenaciously committed to my mother (for over 57 years now) and in following Christ. His example of character and attitude provided a strong home environment for my brother and I to learn and live from, we were fortunate.

Mom and Dad - circa 1969

Mom and Dad – circa 1969

Many of us didn’t have a stable or consistent father figure in our lives. Some of us experienced life as a kid with only a stressed out mom and an absentee dad or learned to fear their abusive fathers instead of love and admire them.

My heart aches for those who struggle to even conceive of a dad who would be a role model, someone who would cherish, accept  and love them. The bible provides us with a powerful illustration of the heart of a father and gives us some idea of how our heavenly father looks at his children.

(Luke 15 – The Message) source – Biblegateway.com

20-21 “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’

22-24 “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.

The point is this… don’t let your painful memories or past experiences prevent you from experiencing the heart of your heavenly father, He is waiting for you to take the chance to trust Him to be the dad you never had. He wants to protect and provide and affirm you in ways you’ve been longing for and couldn’t even articulate. His heart towards us is GOOD, His love for us cannot be shaken no matter what we’ve done or failed at or given up on in the past.

dadsanddaughters.blogspot.com

dadsanddaughters.blogspot.coms

Dads, no matter how good or bad your personal parenting heritage may be, it’s my hope that you will make the leap and begin to trust that your heavenly father can and will fill in all the uneven, broken and empty spaces in our spiritual and emotional hearts… Let Him begin to restore what was lost and renew in you what has yet to be formed…. so we can become what we need to be, for our kids.

I admire and love my dad and he has faithfully kept our family intact, but in the end its my relationship with my heavenly father that provides me with the strength and stability I need to be the man God has called me to be and to love my kids and wife well.

If we as dads, find that we may be leaving most of  the parenting and faith “stuff” to our wives, I think we are dropping the ball at a time when we really need to be in the game….

Peace out, Pastor B.

 

Coming out, I’m gift wrapping challenged…

I’m coming out.

Opening myself up to the whole world, vulnerable and exposed. I can’t wrap a Christmas present to save my life. I use twice as much tape and “not-quite-enough” paper for every gift I attempt to wrap and create un-necessary tension with my wife who watches helplessly as I mangle yet another gift.

Last weekend I was happily wrapping away, repeatedly mushing up the clean and crisp edges of our brightly colored Noel glitter paper. I could feel her tightening the lines around her lips as the beautiful designs and elegant paper got smeared across the corner edges of my sasquatch-like folding job…she didn’t say anything, BUT I could tell it was making her crazy to watch me butcher the task at hand! DIY Wrapping Paper Clutch Bag 1

I feel like a six-year-old who is flunking out of my first grade arts and crafts final. I can’t cut the line straight, (scissors always jump irregularly across the paper after about 18 inches and creates an un-intentional jag where a nice clean line is required) and then when I need to mentally measure the distances needed to actually completely cover the item, I either over compensate by about a foot and a half or miss by less than a tenth of an inch. Never really getting the space and size calculation correct for the amount of paper needed to cover the box or item in question.I can sense the scorn, then frustration and finally “pity” that my wife and kids show for my under-developed skills. As if a grown man has to have help to tie his shoelaces or brush his own teeth. Fundamental abilities that they take for granted as being “assumed” of all adults.

Sadly…this is NOT true for me.

I wonder if I am the only father around who scrunches up the paper when it’s time to tape it. I wonder if I am the only guy who uses six pieces of tape when two would do just fine. ( I always am afraid the wrapping is so bad it could literally fall off the box if I don’t) I wonder if other dad’s can wrap paper and watch TV and listen to Christmas music without taking fifteen minutes per present? I can’t.

I’ve tried every Christmas season to improve. I’ve watched my wife and mother in law as they quickly and expertly tie bows from scratch, and add ribbons and personal name tags with custom designs and lace and color coordinated paper. All flawlessly clean and crisp, edges unwrinkled and just the right amount of paper and tape to leave the gift in an exquisite state of display. Ready for Christmas day without a single flaw on its pristine multi-colored outfit.

It doesn’t seem to help. I try to do what they do, but my big beefy fingers get in the way and my ability to work tiny things like scissors and tape dispensers while holding my finger on a line of paper for the tape to be applied are distinctly lacking.

The good news is this. I still try. Every year I get in there and load up my CD player or iPod and listen to the baritone voices of Nat and Bing and Johnny as they croon to me about perfectly white Christmas days and Holly and Joy and Families at night by a crackling fire. It’s Awesome.

I stink at wrapping gifts, so true…but I love to do it.

It’s my special time of the year to let my family know how much I do love them. Love them enough to take the time to wrap up my gifts personally. That the items inside are just symbols of the reality I carry around in my heart each day of the year. Love. Gratitude and Joy at being their dad, uncle and husband.

But it’s always cool to find a store that wraps for you… 🙂

Merry Christmas from RTP!

b

The middle age bulge… a confession of sorts

SO I’m having lunch with a group of long time Christian radio industry dudes, at a questionably healthy mexican joint named “Nacho’s” in Franklin TN. These men will need to remain anonymous as it’s not within the general policy of the universal “man-code” to nark on your bro’s to the women…. but here goes.

Note the migration of the buttocks to the belly button

All of us are well over thirty… how much so will remain a mystery. All of us have varying degrees of manly decline, some of us are softer than others, rounder than others and generally less than we may have once been in the gym. Suffice it to say, we’re middle-age dad’s… and the discussion migrated to the summer heat and  unusual level of humidity this year. I made the innocent comment that I recently found myself avoiding the beach and visits to the pool these days.. in a serious effort to keep my shirt on in public at all costs. This was met with a hail of manly solidarity from my fellow chip dipping salsa bro’s.

A discussion ensued in which each of us shared various stories of our own issues with finding modified bathing attire and our newly discovered modesty in middle age. It seems that we all had noticed a certain movement of our muscles from the chest to our guts and our butts to our belly buttons … something we’re not terribly proud of, but nonetheless true. Now given the weather had turned to HOT, our uni-sex pull over fleece one piece – hide all our fat-  draping attire wasn’t going to work much longer and the need for tighter fitting polo’s and tee’s were suddenly a concern.

The hip- slick tuck in the front of your shirt behind your large belt buckle look… no longer had much fashion appeal to us and it seemed the darkest – deepest despair was always right before we had to make a belly bulge reveal, usually occurring around swimming or public water recreation… the dull dread of a chance meeting with someone you knew well from church or the neighborhood. The shame of them seeing you hanging out by the side of the pool in three foot deep area that lamely covered your white stick legs while your superbly inflated life raft of a belly bobbed at the water line for all to see and admire… SHUDDER

We discussed the variety of ways to cover one’s growing mid-riff when one of the brothers, shared he had worn a tee-shirt to bed for six months after he first got married (NO WAY !!!) , to save his wife the grief of seeing his over-developed table muscle. Which after he said it, the supportive man club… roundly applauded this poor man for his transparency and honesty, then snickering to ourselves.. we all quietly decided it was time to move this conversation along. What’s my point?

We change, we age, we decline… but at a pace that we can largely determine.

Marriage, fatherhood and middle age are potent mixes of all kinds of pressure for men. We find ourselves often caught with the mind of a 20-year-old and the knees of a 50-year-old and the aches and pains and Advil bottle in our car to prove it. What happened to us? When did our studly vigor start to go south…and why? 

Middle Age Hipster

The answer is not just a medical one, low hormones, reduced metabolism, increased dietary intake and reduced activity all make up the answers. Throw in heredity and environment, self-esteem and job stability and you’ve got a hundred reasons in a heartbeat. The reality is this… we take great pains to try to stay the same, when in reality we’re not going to succeed. We’re going to change, the body is going to fail us eventually and we are going to have to adapt our actions accordingly.

1- We can stoically accept it and continue to passively eat, drink and sleep our way to an early grave, with lots of extra long t-shirts and elastic waist band pants, or..

2- We can step back and look closely at the life we have and modify it for the better. Choose to eat less, walk more and go to the pool with our kids, if for no other reason than to share that day with them without too much shame and distraction. No we are not going to be 20 something again, but we can be a healthy 40…something 🙂

Guys, don’t forget to take care of yourselves, life is precious. It’s fleeting and it’s ours for the living… but passivity and avoidance are choices too. Skip the second helping… sweet potatoes are your friend, fried is a “four” letter word for your wardrobe and diabetes’ is a real thing.  Our wives, our kids and our communities of faith are counting on us to love ourselves as much as we try to love them… they need us to be here when it really counts. Let’s do our best to push back from the table and walk with our ladies around the block at night, you might just find you feel a whole lot better and your bride might just think you look a heck of lot more… uhmm- “Nice” 🙂

No great spiritual insight here, just a lighthearted reminder to myself and my Nacho eating compadre’s to work a bit harder this summer to return to our shirtless days and parent on with a bit less under the hood !

Peace out, RTP.

brad.

Dad’s,Daughters and Prom…

Prom was last saturday evening …

Bethany Rose (my 17-year-old) was buzzing, flittering around the house all day saturday… feet just a few inches off the ground. Her dress had been meticulously picked, hair and makeup tastefully prepared and her dazzling rhinestone high-heel sandals carefully ordered. No detail had been overlooked. Prom was here and Bethany was coming alive. Her plans included a dress up dinner with several couples and then a visit to the TPAC (Tennessee Performing Arts Center) to see a CS Lewis play with her date. They both chose to skip the parties and the dances and the strobe lights for something a bit more cerebral, a bit more intimate. Good for them!

Jessica was even more subdued… with only a few weeks of High School left in her life, her view of Prom was more sedate, more contemplative…more elusive. Her plan was to take the time to spend on a picnic with her date, over take out chinese and a viewing of Titanic far removed from the hype and hustle of a flashy prom. Exactly what I expected of her. Practical, simple and romantic to the core.

My wife Paige was doing pretty good, usually calm and laid back… Paige could get a bit stressed with things like this. I could feel her tensing as the moment was drawing closer… “be sure and be back by 3pm she said, that’s when Matthew will be here for pictures… ” as I raced out the door with my 14-year-old son, in search of electronics and saturday guy stuff.. my mind was a bit confused?

Pictures?

Prom pictures…did that mean all dressed up and going out like adults with a boyfriend… kind of pictures? I swallowed hard, but pushed the emotion down a bit as I sped out the door with Caleb. Ohhkay… still puzzled and disturbed a bit by the idea…

I was bluntly caught off guard by the beauty of my daughters when I returned, I was not prepared for the emotional impact of facing the reality that Prom brings… the truth that they were not “little” any longer. Where had the time gone? …  as the moment arrived, it was surreal. I found my mind was thick with confusion, shock and some pride… almost gushing as the young man at the door smiled brilliantly at me when I answered the door… He was standing excitedly with his flower corsage proudly displayed while I was drawn to the perfectly matched blue shade of his dapper bow tie and tuxedo jacket…to compliment my daughters sapphire dress.

Bethany Rose, my munchkinaroo was going to Prom. I numbly let the poor guy in, tried to engage a little small talk, but it was clear, dad was no longer the apple of his little girls eye… I watched as they prepared to go, pictures in the house, pictures out back in the garden, pictures on the way… pictures, pictures and more pictures.

Jessica quietly slipped out a few hours later to meet her young man and head for their sunset picnic and movie. Her beauty and grace evident in her simplicity and presence as she promised to send us a text if they were running late. We were clear in our understanding that this was how she would most love to remember her senior year… not at a dance or a fancy dinner, but with reflection and contemplation on her terms.

I sighed and watched them both go in their unique and special ways… turned to my wife of 20+ years and said… “I love you“. No long discussion, just a intimate and firm hug we shared and the profound presence of real peace in our home… our daughters were all grown up…I was reflecting silently with her about this age and stage of life and how gracious things had turned out for us as a family.

God had blessed us with two very special daughters, both healthy, strong and smart. Capable of embracing life…of influencing others and remaining focused on their faith and their principles and the truth of life beyond the status quo. More than I deserved, more than I could have ever hoped for… more than I had dreamed could be..

It reminded me afresh… God is faithful, in my life, in my family’s life in your life. No matt er how hard or difficult your life has been, no matter the struggle with your kids, your marriage your ministry…The years of  pain and sacrifice and delay to put our marriage and our kids first, to share life with them…to surrender my will for Gods… those were all just distant memories now, the return on the investment the best I’ve ever made.

Prom could have been a disaster, a dangerous, drunken and painful coming of age moment, but for us; Prom was an exclamation point on the power of redemption and hope and grace. Something we may have wondered about when they were both 13 or 14 years of age… when hormones and life and immaturity and circumstances had us almost convinced to withdraw and let the teen years be an emotional hurricane for us to barely survive, not interact with and help shape.

Thank God we didn’t.

Neither should you…

Jude verse 24-25 (ESV) says this… “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen

Paige, Brad, Jessica, Bethany and Caleb Mathias….