One Dad’s Paternal Peace

How in the world does a father of four experience the joys of paternal peace? Where does it come from and how, in the midst of children growing up, becoming adults, does a parent wear a presence of peace? There is no control in this, nor is there the ability to maneuver decisions or outcomes.

To the best of my own understanding, the answer to these questions are far greater than anything I’m able to articulate. However, even in the difficulty one thing stands true, the author and finisher of all things is the Navigator of my children — their lives now, their lives tomorrow and forever belong to Him.

I trust with my every being and it’s a peace beyond measure. It, as the scripture describes, is “a peace that passes all understanding.” How very true this is as even in my own experiences with my sons going off to college and a military academy should provoke a sense of worry, heaviness, and question. Yet, it is just the opposite — it has brought upon my heart a peace unexplained.

How very thankful I am to know the One who cares for my boys even more than I ever could. While I hold a special place in the hearts of my children, as their dad I have a paternal peace.

That Dad

A Hug on Day One

It’s funny actually, I realized today I’ve become that dad. I’ve recognized the fact that I have had to leave behind my son and bless him in his journey of becoming independent, failing and learning from those failings, soaring and soaring higher from his confidence and growth. As difficult as it is to do, it is time to let him go to become the man God is working out in him.

I’ve experienced for the first time the living experience of:

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

The love I share with all of my children is not portioned for them to share. The fullness of love in my heart for them is there in abundance with none to spare. It is an extraordinary truth, through Christ; a demonstration of His own love for His children.

But when one of them leaves, especially for an extended period of time, the heart hurts — aches from the absence of the one you love so much. To make it complete we trust in the One who brings the fullness of love and joy, who fills the holes left by loss, grief or absence. So in this time, I lean strongly on He who has begun a good work in Andy, knowing He will complete it in His time. God will be with him. That alone comforts me.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him . . .

Psalm 103:13

Day One

Day one has come and gone. As a proud dad of this 2023 Coast Guard Cadet, today was overwhelming for many reasons. I cannot help but think of the swabs particularly. This day was hard, emotional, strenuous, long, demanding and seemingly unforgiving. The first hours were spent being issued uniforms and getting haircuts — and getting yelled at. While the second half was filled with drills, training, and learning the ropes — the hard way.

My heart is heavy with not only missing him both now and for weeks to come, but heavy also with the weight and depth of the selfless sacrifice I know he has chosen. A choice to make this land and sea safer for us all. How does a dad respond to such dedication, loyalty and bravery? He doesn’t — this one just stands in awe, because my son is my hero!

Today I was able to write him a note, something quick and encouraging to bring a smile, a cheer, and something extra to take him a little further along.

I wrote to him the words of Paul as he spoke to the Ephesians, a prayer of which I echo:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

Ephesians 3:16

My continued prayer tonight is that you will find refuge in his Spirit and not your own. Your body is tired tonight – be strengthened and renewed through his glorious riches and with the power of Christ your King!

I’m so proud of you son — sleep, rest, renew. You’re my hero!

Day Before Day One

Mystic River

There is no poetry or paint brush strokes adequate enough to describe this day. For many, it appears to be nothing more than a day to drop your child off at college and text them on the way home — just because you can. But it’s far more, far different. Capped with a silent ride home and a silent summer ahead.

At the United States Coast Guard Academy, it proves to be much different. And while we have yet to experience Day One, that will be tomorrow, today seems like a punch in the gut none-the-less.

No doubt the day was exhausting walking the hilly campus, attending worship together on campus and selecting favorite items from the Exchange to wear — but more so to actually reflect. Emotions were high all day, but often masked by a giggle, a joke, or jesting throughout the day. Dad knew better and recognized it for what it truly was — even he understood what his pre-cadet was feeling. I get it.

We received the heartfelt encouragement and truth about what to expect in the days to come, months to come and even a year or two from now. It’s all so surreal and like my own first day of college some 25 years ago, I felt overwhelmed with even a drop of information.

The sun has set on this day before Day One and with it, the passing of precious time that felt indefinite this morning. It feels like forever just ended. And yet, tomorrow is not the end, but the beginning of a new life, a new way, a new loyalty, and a new perspective. It’s exactly what he wants and craves. Yet, tonight he said goodbye. Yes, we’ll see him tomorrow, but only for a very short time.

Good bye for now my son, but only for a short while. Tonight the sun has set on this day, but my love for you has grown beyond the stars. My words cannot express how proud I am of your willingness to serve our country and keep Christ your King. There is no doubt I will miss you — every day you are gone. I know you are in His hands, with a hedge of protection and God’s angelic hosts on your every side.

Now go . . . go with the faith of Daniel, bravery of David, wisdom of Solomon, obedience of Abraham, strength of Samson, and forgiveness of Joseph. Seek His face and hear His voice.

I love you son! You are my hero!

Sending Off

Sending off a child to serve our country is something I’ve yet to experience . . . until now. The thoughts and mere wonder of experiences have overwhelmed my thoughts in recent days imagining the new world, daily routine, rigor that my son has yet to face.

It’s been a quick journey actually. With a delayed appointment, the news came late and swift. But when the decision was delivered, it seemed to move with the force of nature itself – creating a firestorm of activity.

With the fierce chaos, came the realization that my son will be gone – though not forever, for a very long time. It’s like my best friend is moving away. It makes me sad, but knowing what I do about where he is headed, I am at peace and humbled by his desire to serve and help others — more so honored beyond words.

More difficult days are ahead and processing this day is like the introduction to a large novel — without it the story makes no sense. So, today’s send off serves as a celebration of that which is yet to come as well as a lighthouse to those days in my future to saying goodbye.

My intent for this journey is to capture my thoughts of his experience in real-time, sharing my ideas, understanding, and encouragement with him stamped in time forever to be read when he catches back up with the schedule of life he traded in for an amazing adventurous future.

I couldn’t be more proud.