Tag Archives: father

A Father Beyond His Little Girl’s Dreams

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

A lonely girl dreams of the perfect father. She imagines that when this man looks at his daughter, he sees beautiful possibilities.

As he listens to her pour out her daily, hourly joys, his attention stays focused. When she cries, he holds her. He disciplines her to keep her safe, but never harms her body or heart.

This perfect father continues to see his daughter’s charm and purity despite battle  scars  and  wrinkles  time has worn into her features. He believes her a success and forgets past failures. He loves his baby girl to the very end.

The girl awakens from her dream to sigh. She knows no father like this. In her reality, a father is imperfect, one who struggles with human selfishness, needs and will. For her, hope  of  knowing  a father’s unfailing love is but fantasy.

Then one day, the longing, disappointed girl meets another  Father.

This Father speaks softly with patience. His encouraging words, strong and enduring, build her confidence. He promises to go beyond her fondest hopes of being understood, accepted and loved.

Standing near, he whispers, “Come to me” every moment she breathes. She slows to listen and finds her yearnings lessened, her worries eased. In their place is a learned security. Trust is in the one who will never leave.

Drawing her close,  this  Father  breathes  in  her every word as if this communion were  somehow  his only source of joy. He joins her in designing life goals, shares the fun, and heals exhaustion from typical days.

Needs and emotions of other persons rampage through her home and heart, and this Father gives her wisdom. He cultivates her motherhood by demonstrating how to nurture and sacrifice for her children. Tidal waves of the world’s temptations threaten to sweep her young away, but this Father helps her to hold on tight. Then, standing by her side as she releases her grip, he teaches her how to let  go.

This Father invests in his daughter. He encourages her to have a renewed mind, and to be     a woman of conviction and insight. He sets her face toward the world and says,“Go get ‘em tiger,” and makes it possible for her to believe she can. He lifts her up with hope, and asks her to live humbly before him. These are his good gifts. 

This Father is not fantasy like a prince in shining armor. There is no one else, no matter how sensitive or strong, no other father or romance can fill the cavernous need in a daughter’s heart. To be apart from him is to feel so very alone.

He is not of this earth. His name is Yahweh, Jehovah, and I Am. He is the Creator, and Almighty God.

Upon returning from chasing illusions, the girl sees him in the distance and searches his face for a sign. He smiles with welcoming eyes and engulfs her in his waiting arms.

“Come daughter,” he says. “I am Abba. You are home.”

Happy Father’s Day

when i am old...Today’s Helpful Word

John 1:12

“… to all who did receive [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–“

 

*****COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

picture of father/daughter from CHARCOAL on rgbstock.com

Today’s blog is an excerpt from Always The Fight: A Living Testimony of What Only God Can Do

 

 

I’ll Be Home For Christmas, If Only In My Dreams

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness since 2012       repost from (c)2014  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

photo-24791672-christmas-poster-with-winter-houses-vector

We played pretend, my daddy and I. He said he imagined he could come through the wall behind the clock. A secret staircase took him back there, and then, crash! With a powerful kick, the clock and a picture fell into a dusty haze of broken dry wall. Out he jumped, landing on both feet.

He laughed. “I don’t know why I imagined that,” he said.

I added an old train to our game. It chugged from nowhere to the room where we played and waited. “Anytime you want you can ride away,” I said.

“What should I do with the rails? he said.

“Keep them in one of the train cars so if you need them they will be handily available.”

“You don’t think like other people,” he said with a grin.

He asked me how my day had gone, and insisted details be piled on to complicate a simple story. His gaze never wavered as he asked follow-up questions, truly interested in my life.

Neither of us were young in this scenario. The atmosphere I grew up in had been hostile; the adults were distracted. Little Nancy had not experienced playing make-believe with her daddy. No, this happened only two weeks ago* in the nursing facility where my father resides due to dementia. During this visit, his mind was clear and able to maintain a stream of thought for an entire hour without forgetting anything. Surprised, I was doubly intrigued to find him playful and so excited to see me.

Our relationship has not included much joy. I always wanted one of those imaginary Christmas card daddies whose focused adoration is on their little girls while everyone smiles for the picture. Instead, I learned a sense of home and family could exist only in the dreamy make-believe world of denial.

So why was my dad relaxed, funny, and laughing at my jokes? Uncertain when the golden coach would return to pumpkin-state, I hesitated to join the jovial spirit.  However, something puzzling had caught my attention and I wanted it to continue.

His eyes were sparkling for sheer joy of having me around. When a nurse first woke him and guided him to look my way, he had lit up like -you know it – a Christmas tree.

So far into our conversation there had been no distractions, no digressions into how is so-n-so and what-not. He asked about my work, and in typical cryptic fashion I told him of my coming weekend trip to Chicago. He wanted to know what I would be doing in the Windy City.

Now I had a quandary. These kinds of questions were highly unusual. One option was to remain hidden behind my normal self-protective barricade. At any given moment this pleasantry could end, spoiled by his disappointment in me. Was it safe to expose the whole truth to my father?

Yet those eyes. They were eager, inquisitive, and soft.  I looked at this man who had been so unreachable, who had failed to know or appreciate his daughter, and who had made such harsh parenting mistakes in the past. “I’m fine, Dad” had been a standard response if ever he did ask; vulnerability was dangerous.

Nonetheless, shiny eyes were new. I searched them for clues; maybe this was not a moment to carelessly throw away. After deliberating long enough for silence to be awkward, with a deep breath I tossed hesitation aside and risked my heart.

He learned I speak about depression and suicide.

Why?

Because I’m in recovery from those, Dad. 

He learned my marriage ended this year.

Oh! What happened?

It’s been unhappy…

He learned of my estranged son.

How are you?

I miss him, Dad.

He heard of friends, a new church, and asked how I spend my time. We moved on to my newest book soon to be released. I described it while in a shadow of doubt as to the wisdom of laying my joy at his feet.

Sounds like a good book. You keep writing, that’s what you do so well.

Thanks, Dad.

Gathering my coat, I looked in wonder at his baby-blues once more. After saying goodbyes and see you soon, his eyes still sparkled with affection and delight. I gave mine permission to twinkle back. Maybe it took fifty-three years, but my daddy saw me and liked what he saw.

This was not a dream; I felt at home.

Today’s Helpful Word

2 Corinthians 1:3

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”

 

*This was first posted two years ago. My father has since passed away.)

COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME 

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

Goodbye Dad. Hello

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2015 Nancy Virden

(This is my dad’s eulogy as I shared it at his funeral December 24, 2015)

Goodbye, Dad.photo

Dads are big. Dads speak into our lives and help to shape our beliefs. How we view ourselves and the world, as well as the life choices we make can be powerfully influenced by our dads. They show us by example how to be. Hopefully they are protectors and wise.

My dad was a mixed bag as are we all. He lived a long life sometimes getting it right, and sometimes getting it wrong. His relationships thrived and languished, his faith was strong and weak, and he succeeded and failed.

Who did you experience my dad to be? How will you reflect on this friend, brother, uncle, father, and grandfather? Today we celebrate my dad’s wins. He was rich with gifts he offered to us and to this town. Following our heavenly Father’s example, we place anything else under grace.

Goodbye Dad. Hello.

Hello to sweet memories. My first datable memory of dad was the day of JFK’s death, when at age 2 1/2, I wanted to cross the street to the Alliance hospital to help the hurt man feel better. It was Dad who prevented me from running into traffic. Years later, he carried me across that street when my foot got mangled in his bicycle wheel.

One of the biggest surprises of my life happened on Christmas 1968. We went shopping at the old Carousel store in Canton. I saw rows and rows of teddy bears, and especially liked a particular brown one. We were in the car ready to go home when dad said he left something in the store. Christmas morning, “Chocolate” as I named her was under the tree. This bear has been with me since, ever the reminder that I was important to my dad.

Six years ago he was relieved to have landed a room in the Community Care Center with a window directly across from that old hospital and our original home. He would point at Burt St. where he taught me to ride a bike, and would reminisce about letting go of the seat to watch me balance and ride without his help. He remembered placing pennies on the train tracks with Steve and me. From that window he sadly watched the old hospital, house, and neighborhood transform into a parking lot.

In 1970, dad moved us to the country. Dad’s love for dogs is why he rescued an abused one and gave him to us as a pet. Seezer, a red-orange long-haired mutt with no sense, had that God-like gift of grace – an amazing capacity to love unconditionally. Most dogs do, and I wonder if that is why my dad was never without one.

He raised his own Caesar in the 80s, a beautiful boxer with a gentle giant temperament. This was my dad’s all-time favorite dog. Dad bragged about the tender way Caesar played with a baby. He saved pictures of Caesar with his regular outdoor playmate, a wild rabbit. He spoiled Caesar with peanut butter, and Caesar spoiled him back with sloppy kisses. He never stopped talking about that dog, and a portrait of Caesar sat framed in my dad’s room in the Care Center.

Dad loved country life. One day when I was a pre-teen, I heard a shout. “Nancy! Come here. Now! Hurry!” I raced outside only to find him staring at something across the yard. About 25 feet away stood a crow just looking at us, completely unconcerned. “Listen,” Dad said.

“Hello,” said the crow. “Hello, hello.”

Dad enjoyed sharing that moment with me, and reminded me to never forget it because talking crows in the wild are rare. We laughed, and he was pleased when I brought it up 40 years later.

Goodbye Dad. Hello.

Hello to gratitude. No doubt the gusto for life that led my dad to hop in a pick-up truck at age 18 and cross the country with a friend, was the spirit he wanted to pass on to us – independent and boundary less. Because of his love for experiences, he provided them. Steve and I each saw Europe. In the US,  our family visited historical and natural sites from the east coast to the Rocky Mountains. We traveled up to Canada and down to Florida. Because of him, I learned bee-keeping, small farming, and construction.

We met astronaut-turned senator John Glenn at the US Capitol. I sat in the chair of the Speaker of the House, and again my dad cautioned me to never forget that one-time opportunity.

Dad enjoyed throwing parties, and was responsible for convincing leadership to allow the first co-ed gathering at Cleveland Bible College in the 1950s. His ability to plan and execute events was also evidenced by his work with the Lions Club. In the country we had space for Dad to build tall outdoor bonfires. Capture the Flag after dark lured groups of teenagers into crisscrossing acres of trees, fields, and water under moonlight, with s’mores and roasted hot dogs as our reward. Because of him, this city girl had a lot of fun, and still has a country heart.

It seemed everywhere we went in town, Dad was greeted by someone he knew. I can almost hear numerous voices saying, “Hello, Carl!”  Those run-ins were always interesting. I’m grateful I learned to meet people and how to be friendly. As a child, I thought he was famous.

Goodbye, Dad. Hello.

Hello to grace. God is bigger than dads. He is our shelter, our longing, and our rescue from the ravages of hate and selfishness. He sent his Son Jesus to die in our place, sparing us the deadly wages we earn through disobedience. His grace is not to be treated with disrespect, however. When we pursue selfish desires instead of him, we pay heavy consequences. Eternity is not to be mocked, and neither is the justice of this overwhelmingly enormous God who holds our fates in his hands. Sometimes we get that, and sometimes we miss it.

Like my dad, we are all mixtures of honesty and deceit, kindness and severity, faith and doubt. We do not have the power to love without fault, and that’s okay because it is not in the “doing” that we experience grace. In a rare quiet moment hours before his death, I held my dad’s hand and told him this truth. “The only thing you ever had to be for me to love you, was my dad. The only thing you ever had to do for God to love you unconditionally, was exist.”

I read Micah 7:18-20 while waiting those final hours. “You (God) will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” That promise is for my dad, me, and anyone who responds to God in repentance. Grace has a name, and it is Jesus.

Goodbye Dad.

And by God’s grace, one day,  Hello.

*******

Comments are always welcome (see tab below).  NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

Saying Goodbye Brings New Perspective (relationships)

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness    (c)2014 Nancy Virden

photo-25318978-printI called my dad today. He is in a nursing home and dealing with dementia. In his four years of living there I’ve seen changes in his demeanor, physical capabilities, and memory.

Today he told me he is working on getting “up and walking” so he can leave the facility. Sadly, I know he’s not leaving that place. His body cannot mend anymore, and his mind is slipping away.

One year. We never know on New Year’s Day what our reality will be like by the next January 1. In some ways we may want nothing to change, or perhaps we hope with all our heart everything will look and feel different in twelve months. How has 2014 been for you so far?

Among several people who play significant roles in my life, the past ten months have included heart-wrenching events.  These include physical deaths, the loss of a child by miscarriage, disbanded loyalties, and an attempted suicide. I too have experienced painful severing of key relationships this year.

Goodbyes might be slow, tragic, sudden, or inexplicable. In the case of an adult child watching their parent slip away, a vulnerability arises. My longing for a dad who will take care of me is not realistic. There is no more hope for that. Today he forgot I was on the phone and stopped talking to me. Last week, my dad didn’t remember I moved eight hours away a few years ago. I don’t want him to wonder why I don’t come around each day.

Anything the past holds between us has faded into the cloud of compassion I feel for him now. What is positive is that dementia has softened him somewhat.  When he heard I’m writing he said, “Good. That’s what you should be doing. You’re good at that.”

My choice is to spend time wishing I’d seen that side of him earlier, or to thank God for the gift. I choose the latter. There is simply no more time for counting a closet full of dead bones.

Saying goodbye. At the new year, I was one who hoped change would occur in 2014.  I suspected there might be a critical parting or two. What has surprised me is that finally saying goodbye to old hurts and resentments has been such a joyful experience. “Let it go” now makes sense. It means today matters, and I can embrace this moment.

I’m saying goodbye to my dad. Today he’s still here, he is proud of me, and I’m glad.  That’s all that counts anymore.

******

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.