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Father or Dad

Posted Friday, June 15, 2012, at 4:34 PM

Father or Dad

By Rayla Stewart Hogue

Special to the Daily Statesman

Standing before the preacher the three of them said their vows: "Do you take this woman to be . . . do you take this man to be . . . do you take this child to be your daughter?" They became a family. She now had a dad. Her father broke their trust with abuse, but now her dad was there to erase all those memories and teach her the joys of having a dad.

Together the three formed a new family. He taught her things, provided for her, and was a gentle, loving dad. In a couple of years they even added a new sister to the family. They had lots of fun, laughing, playing, and working together.

When it was time to plant the garden for the summer, they would all work together. Dad would prepare the ground with the tiller; they would plant the seeds, cover them, water them and watch them grow. Dad would come in from work and they would go to the garden to pull weeds or pick the ripe vegetables and get them ready for canning. While they worked they would talk . . . about everything or nothing.

Dad surprised her with a new bike once. Well it wasn't brand new, but new to her. It was just the right size to challenge her, giving her room to grow into it. Together the cleaned it, oiled it, put new tubes in the tires and aired them. Once they had it ready to go, he held the bike as she got on and ran along the side of her until she was ready for him to let go. Then he clapped for her as she flew down the street and back on her own . . . and yes he picked her up and cleaned the scrapes on her knees when she fell . . . only to help her back on to try it again.

She was proud of her dad. They would walk into church together, holding hands. He always gave her money to put in the offering plate and made sure she had her Bible and helped her find the right place. She loved sitting between him and mom.

As the years passed, he taught her how to drive, got her first car for her, buried her pets that died, and cherished her. Of course they had their share of disagreements--they were human after all, but she always knew that he loved her and would protect her. Over time they had been through so much together.

She was about to graduate with her Master's degree. It was a huge accomplishment and took place just before Father's Day. She wanted to do something special as a thank you for her parents. Mom was easy to find something for, but dad . . . nothing seemed to express what she wanted to say . . . until she saw a friend working in counted cross-stitch. An idea formed. She would need mom's help because there was so little time, but together they could do it.

Graduation day came. She proudly walked across the stage to receive her degree. Afterwards they went to celebrate over a meal. She was given cards and gifts to open. She reached into a large bag and took two beautifully wrapped packages out and handed one to her mother and one to her dad. Amid the "you shouldn't have's" they opened their gifts; jewelry form mom and a pillow for dad.

As he ran his hands over the pillow, joking that it was just the right size for napping, he turned it over. There, beautifully stitched words read "Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad." Tears slowly coursed down his face as she said, "Thanks for being my dad." Every person has a father . . . some are blessed with a dad.

Jesus knew the difference between being a father and being a dad. When he faced the most difficult part of his earthly life, he called out to "Abba--daddy." Perhaps we too should follow his example and explore God as more that Father--the source of life and walk daily with dad.

God, it is easy to accept you as Father; help us to develop a relationship with you as dad. We need your wisdom, patience, guidance, and love. You are there for us--whether we acknowledge you or not. God teach us to love as you love. So be it. Amen.

Oh, and thank you for the man who knew how to be a father and dad to me and my sisters.

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Rayla Stewart Hogue
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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.
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