Best Dad Ever

Luke 10:13 “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Freud once said something to the extent that there is no need in childhood as great as the need for a father’s protection.  In our culture today, it is especially obvious for our daughters.  There are a million lies and dangers waiting to overcome a girl whose Daddy isn’t there to protect her every day.  This truth weighs on my husband’s heart like a ball and chain and I have watched it drag him to his knees day after day as He begs God to be there with his little girl when he can’t be.  During the summer when Kylie stays with us we ask God to help use the time to fill Kylie with all the things she needs from her relationship with her dad.  Being a loving father Kenny is always trying to give Kylie the gift of himself, his love, his time, and everything else that he thinks will make her happy.  When it was time to fly her back to Texas this summer Kenny came to me with eyes alight.  “Guess what?  Remember when you took Kylie to that art display and she  had to write down one thing she wanted to do before she died?  and she said she wanted to see San Fransisco most of all?  Well, I just bought our plane tickets and guess where we just happen to have a seven hour layover?  That’s right!  San Fransisco!”  For the next month all Kenny could talk about was the surprise trip he was planning for Kylie- he rented a bright red convertible VW bug, he researched the sights Kylie had mentioned wanting to see, and he teased Kylie day and night.  “Hey, remember that flight you and I are taking back to Texas?  Well, there’s something I’m not telling you.”  He did it so  much that Kylie came to believe there really was nothing he was not telling her and he was just being a goof.  When they finally boarded a plane headed back to the states he told her his plan, and the surprise went off in gaiety and delight.  They drove with the top down up and down the beach, dined al fresco just the two of them, bought souvenirs for the rest of us, and made silly faces in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.  They had an adventure just father and daughter, just Kylie and the first man who ever loved her.  It was the kind of memory that every girl should have to grown on, and that every woman will need to lean on at some point in her life- it was a gift to Kylie, and to Kenny.  Now what are the chances that Kylie’s one dream at ten years old would be to visit the very city where they had to stop on their trip back to Texas?  Or that they would stop there with enough time to do everything they wanted, or that the trip would go off exactly as planned with no hitches?  Is Kenny the best dad ever for taking advantage of a coincidence?  Or maybe could it be that there is another Dad hiding behind the scenes here?  Maybe as Kenny prayed to multiply his time with Kylie someone else was waiting to show love.   As Kenny tried to fill Kylie with all the things she needed from him maybe someone else who has already given the gift of Himself, His love, and His time, was just waiting to present every other good thing.  Maybe Kenny’s gift to Kylie was really a gift from God and if so then it was more than a great memory, it was a reminder- a reminder of the promise that God is our good father and we can trust Him.  “If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly father….” Whether Kylie is here or there we can trust Him because whether she is here or there, Kylie Elisabeth has the best Dad ever, and so do we.

 

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Missing Kylie

“Mom, listen.  Do you hear that?”  “No, David.  What?”  “Nothing, the house is quiet.” He was right.  The house is quiet- wrongly quiet.  Yesterday our oldest daughter flew back to Texas to spend the school year with her biological mother.  All day I have been carrying Kylie’s absence around like a weight within me.  It started the minute she and Kenny drove off for the airport. Our oldest son felt it then too.  As I tried to stop tears and un-fog my glasses and hold on to the memory of holding her, Cody was wiping tears too.  He slipped off to the bathroom and though he came back dry eyed, he was subdued.  We went bowling to distract everyone, but her ghost caught up to us on the way out.  When I looked around to be sure I had all the kids, my heart lurched, because for a moment I saw her- standing right where she would be, closest to me, close enough that I didn’t even really need to look for her because she was always there.  For a minute my mind manufactured her dressed in purple, looking up at me, and my stomach lurched because I had to tell my mind “no, she’s not supposed to be there,” even though my heart was screaming that she really was.  I felt it again when I decided to make brownies and my first thought was to call Kylie, with her eagerness to help me, but I couldn’t.  Dallas felt it at dinner when he finished setting the table then realized he would have to put Kylie’s place setting back.  He curled his knees up to his chest and cried.  The sadness was Elliana’s last word as she fell asleep tonight. She was sitting beside me on the couch as we read and suddenly she burst out “I miss Kylie!”  (Words she had already said immeasurable times today.)  Then she fell over onto her side and I thought she was about to have a temper tantrum, but when I looked, she was sound asleep.  So, we are all carrying Kylie’s absence with us.  Elliana carries it in words, David carries it in silence.  Dallas carries it in his body, with tears and hunched posture.  Cody carries it in his mind- with thoughts churning past in his face and eyes, coming out in questions and worries: “Have they landed?”  “Do you think they are safe?”  We are all together in the pain of this separation, and by all, I mean all.  I am sure Kylie feels it most of all.  What I don’t ever want is for her to feel guilty for the fact that we miss her.  Dallas and I talked tonight about how this sadness we feel is one of the reasons God hates divorce.  When I took her out for ice cream Friday night I told Kylie how much I would miss her, but that I would be happy knowing about all the fun she is going to have this year, and that she is enjoying seeing her mother.  I don’t ever want Kylie to feel bad that she can’t be in two places at once; because that’s not a division she should ever have had to face.  I love that girl, I’m honored to be in her life, and I hate the hole in our family when she’s not here- the hole in sibling relationships, and in our family’s personality, but I believe God has a way to use even this for our family and children’s good- to teach them to hold Him dearer.  Sometimes God speaks loudest in the silences.

020Elliana’s plan for coping with Kylie’s return to Texas- “I’ll just go too.”  Note that flashlight.

A Very Korean Beach Experience

Wangsan beach

Minutes beyond the Ichon airport- our portal to and from our family in the states- about an hours drive from our house, is the edge of Korean peninsula.  A place where gentle, emerald mountains suddenly stop, in a rough, torn edge, and the crumbled piles of boulders hold back a murky, greenish-brown sea.  The ocean here isn’t beautiful, not azure water and sparkling white sands, like the Caribbean.   No, this isn’t a tourist’s ocean- its a fisherman’s ocean, where every rocky outcrop and the entire horizon are latticed with poles and lines and the spires of fishing boats.  Here the shells on the tide’s edge match the leftovers of each bather’s lunch.  It’s not fancy, or picturesque, but the swell of the mountains coming right up to the sea, the roll of the rocks underneath your feet, the color of water, it’s all very much in harmony.  It’s all very Korean.  And so are the crowds of bathers.  There are two beaches on this portion of peninsula edge, maybe the other isn’t so bad, but here, it is as if every metropolitan worker has shed their Americanized business attire and every shred of their English and come to soak in their native sea, and they are all trying to do it on a 400 meter long stretch of rocky beach hemmed in on either side by dark mountain roots.  To even get to the ocean you must navigate the school of parking.  Not school as in you must learn what to do, but school as in fish, as in darting, diving, shimming round, suddenly appearing, then with a flash of your tail (lights in this case,) darting into some crevice.  After parking you must walk to the beach- and being American you don’t exactly match the scenery- also, as you suddenly realize that even though this is a beach, all the women stay fully dressed- even down to cardigans, while sitting in the water, you, with your shoulders bare above your pool cover up and your daughters, skipping along in what you previously thought were modest one pieces, will suddenly feel what it’s like to be a guppy finding itself in a school of barracuda.  if you survive, it’s time to wade- through a sea of umbrellas, tents, and people.  Koreans bring a tent to the beach- or perhaps we were just on the camping beach site, who knows, but you will duck under umbrellas, squeeze between picnic blankets and tents, and yank children away from hot kerosene stoves.  Eventually, you may realize that your feet are in water- congratulations, you have reached the ocean!  Though it may be hard to tell since the density of human population is just as great in the water as out.  But don’t despair.   As the tide goes out, the beach will grow, leaving a long muddy stretch (just when you thought your feet were going to start bleeding from the golf ball sized rocks you’ve been walking on.)  Some of the Koreans will go home, many will retire to cook in their tents, and your children will still be rolling in the waves, catching crabs, burying each other in the gritty sand, swimming out farther than you wish they would, marveling over the colors of sea glass and standing still for longer than you’ve ever seen them as they watch the ocean move things around their ankles.  Then, you will see the exquisite, harmonic beauty of this Korean beach.  (Of course by that time your camera will be out of batteries.)

Wangsan Beach from the water

Wangsan Beach from the water

 

Wangsan Beach

Wangsan Beach