So … we wanted to celebrate Father’s Day together as a family. Why? Well, Scruffy is such a wonderful dad. He is fun and sacrificing and works hard to teach and of course tease his boys. What makes this even more amazing is that he had no positive examples of fathers growing up. His dad, grandfather, step-grandfather … pick a random man in his family and what you got were examples of adulatory, alcoholism, drug abuse, and anger.
While Scruffy did manage to be the first in his family to graduate from high school and to go to college, at the age of twenty-one, he was headed down the same road as all those other men. Angry, alcoholic, and testing out WSU’s reputation as a party school. Then … Jesus! The change was shocking. So shocking that one of his fellow classmates who had been dreading having to sit next to him in a lab, saw the change in him and ran straight into the arms of Jesus, too. Yes, this is the father of our delightful camp counselor Kanga.
You see why Father’s Day is so important for us? God was a father to my husband when his earthly father failed him. And that was enough. That was enough to teach my wonderful husband what it meant to be an amazing dad.
Well, last year on Father’s Day, I took an amazing photo of a friend and his two sons jumping off a rock together at Lake Valhalla. Scruff told me that he would love a photo like that with his own boys. So we tried, but couldn’t get the jump quite right and had to head home.
So this year, I was determined. I would make sure that we got that picture for Scruffy. So, while his Father’s Day gift had not arrived, I planned out the hike to Lake Valhalla and we headed out together. Then the car started acting strange on the highway. Scruff and I shared a charming argument (that was surely an inspiration to our sons on marital bliss) concerning what should be done about the oddly behaving vehicle. Then random drivers began to honk, flash their lights, and point at our car in a way that suggested destruction was quite possibly eminent.
Yes indeedy, we had a flat tire. So we limped into the only gas station for miles around (remember, we were off to hike in the wilderness) and put some air in the tire. The air poured back out with whistling insistence. We were not going to make it down the windy dirt roads to the trailhead, much less back. So we filled the tire and drove back to Leavenworth where we immediately got more air. The tire lasted to the other end of town where we had to pay two dollars for even more air. We then barely made it home before the tire was once again completely flat.
OK, so no Lake Valhalla and no Lake Valhalla photo. What to do? A local youth group had just put in a disc golf course at the camp where we live. Scruff decided that an amazing game of disc golf together would save the day.
During the very first hole of disc golf, Judah hit Brennan in the back of the head with a frisbee and he was done.
Then Judah and Theo played with Scruff and that went great until Theo had an allergic reaction to the heat and had to go inside and cool down. Judah and Scruff finished the course and had a good time. But then Scruff had to go back to work, although I did make some yummy shrimp for dinner.
Well, a month later there was a break in the summer camp schedule and I was determined to get that photo for Scruff. We packed up the family, invited some of the summer staff to come along, and actually made it to the trailhead.
On to Lake Valhalla! Yes, Brennan did the whole hike barefoot, but the key info is that regardless of footwear or lack thereof, we were all headed to Lake Valhalla!
Princess Leia Freyja was very pleased to find patches of snow, even in July.
Theo, as ever, was skilled at avoiding the camera. But if you peer closely past his hand and all that hair, you might just catch part of a smile!
We had finally made it! Now it was time to create that perfect Father’s Day photo of Daryl and his three boys.
Well, to start with, Theo refused to jump into the lake. We could have shoved him in if we’d worked together … but that kind of situation does not create the kind of happy family photo I was hoping to blow up and give to Scruff for his office (if he ever claims it back from Judah). Then Leia insisted on being in the photo, even though she is not a son or a child or even a person. She determinedly charged after everyone, got Theo wet, and plunged into the water trying to “save” everyone.
Finally, the “perfect” photo was achieved and yes, I did blow it up and give it to Scruff. All three sons are in the photo and two of them are even jumping and smiling. Leia is present as well, although she is of course galloping and “saving” along with her jumping. Mission achieved, we hiked back.
I am not in fabulous shape and everyone simply left me behind. Thankfully, Scruff stayed with me. Leia made sure of that! She would stop in the trail and pull him back with the leash if he tried to go ahead. If I tried to hold her leash, she would gallop down the trail after Scruff, causing me to trip while she barked for him to “wait up!” We finally got back to the trailhead … and our children were gone. The staff grew impatient and had simply left a note and taken our boys with them. I was decidedly disappointed in the ending to our family outing.
As I look back on these gorgeous photos and remember sitting in the car weeping while we drove home alone without our sons, I am struck by three things.
One, pictures can really make life look ideal for those on the outside looking in. As followers of Jesus, I think we need to be incredibly careful of painting over the heartbreak lest the young Christians around us think that God is making everything ideal for us while allowing them to still face pain. How many post a beautiful picture together on Father’s Day, when there is actually an insane story of disappointment behind it. We need to remember that everyone we meet is more complicated than they appear, they have hidden hurts and are sometimes feeling forgotten or left behind. They might choose not to dwell on the bad, but it is still there affecting their day. Also, family time is still family time even when it is a big disappointment. Life isn’t perfect, but it is life, a gift!
Two, there was a lot of joy mixed in with all of our frustration and hurt. There was the delightful fun of playing disc golf all mixed up with that head injury that ended the day for Brennan and the terrible hives that sent Theo marching inside. There was the grand beauty of the outdoors, the joy of hiking through beautiful country, fellowship with our delightful camp workers, and success in finally achieving that fabulous Father’s Day photo. Yes, one of our sons wouldn’t jump or smile or look at the camera. But we got to hear him laugh with his friends from camp and we were able to sit together as a family at one of the most beautiful lakes in Washington. Yes, the day ended with discouragement and tears. But it had been a great time together … some of it, that is.
Three, the reason we were celebrating in the first place still remained. God our father had so healed Scruffy, that he was able to step out of incredible darkness and be a wise, kind, and loving dad for our three sons. This miracle remained even in the middle of life and disappointment, that is something worth celebrating!
2 Corinthians 12:9a–“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”