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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

in my father's eyes

{this post is in belated honor of father's day and my dad's graduation}

   Dad. A mere 3-letter word. But, oh the depth of meaning in it, the magnitude of weight it holds. Fathers. The figure of a father has touched all our lives, guaranteed. Negatively or positively, for good or bad -  we are all influenced by our father: the presence of him in our life or the lack of his presence. Whether your dad was your beloved "daddy" who showed up for every dance recital and cheered on the sidelines of each soccer game, or if he was distant, absent, aloof...or altogether missing from your life... the idea of a father, at very least, impacts every aspect of who you are. 

 Just as the purpose of marriage is to picture Christ and the Church in a smaller image on this earth, fathers are placed by God in a family to lead, love, and shepherd the hearts of their children...just as God does for His people. Yet, just as marriage is sometimes marred by the horrors of divorce or perversion, fatherhood is also tainted by unfaithfulness, lack of leadership, or absence. Yet, there are good men who walk out fatherhood as best they can (with God's help) and strive to love and lead their children in a way that honor's the Lord - and in these precious ones, fatherhood can be such a beautiful picture of God's love for us.

{me & dad - father's day 2012}

    Yesterday as we celebrated Father's Day, I couldn't help but be thankful for my earthly dad. The one who exemplifies the heart God for His children in such a sweet and incredible way. He is an example of God's love and care for me, and for that I am grateful and thankful. In the past few weeks, my family's had the chance to celebrate Dad in some special ways - not only observing the holiday of Father's Day last weekend, but the week before we celebrated Dad's completion of his doctorate degree from seminary. He is a Doctor of Divinity - after years and years of work and sacrifice. And I am over the moon proud!

  As I've been thinking about my dad and how he has loved me for so many years, I thought about how his love is a mirror and a picture of God's. Not everyone has the privilege of a dad who is like mine, and I know I am really lucky. But even if you don't have a dad in your life or he just hasn't been there for you, I want you to know something: you have the most amazing Father there is. 

    I've been thinking about God as Father. Oftentimes, we view God as impersonal, distant, or even sternly looking down on us from Heaven with a concerned and harsh demeanor. Yet, that is so far from the truth. He loves us. Man, does He love us. And he tells us in Scripture that He loves us as a Father. Like a proud daddy who loves his little girl and would lay down his life to protect her. That's how He loves you. And I am infinitely thankful for an earthly father who has made it easy for me to understand how God loves me as a father. 

  I think of how my dad has been there with me through thick and thin. How he has walked with me through hard times, seasons when I've strayed and fallen, through changes, through the good and the bad. He's shown me God's love,  not by just telling me about it - but in the most convincing way possible - by living it. 

He showed who God is by...

..How he's raised me, provided for me, taken care of me practically and spiritually. 
..How he taught me how to ride my bike. 
..How he planned special family vacations for us every year. 
..How he spent his every pastor's Friday off work homeschooling me and my sister while mom took a break - reading high-brow literature to us, teaching us fine art, and taking us on "nature walks." 
..How he made my 16th birthday so special - rented a limousine and made it possible for me and my 4 best girl friends to enjoy a magical night under the stars of Beverly Hills, dining at the finest restaurant and dressed up in prom gowns.
..How he comforted me when I was brokenhearted at 18 years old. And how he told me confidently that "God will use this someday to minister to many women." I shook my head at the time and didn't believe him....but I see it now.
..How he loves my mom, his wife, so well and with such a servant's heart.
..How he worked for over 20 years on his education and recently completed it with such faithfulness (I am over-the-moon proud of him!)
..How he showed me how to love Jesus fiercely and to radically live for God.

    My dad is a gem and I am eternally thankful for His example, influence, and presence in my life. And yet, yesterday as we celebrated wonderful fathers like my Dad, I also spoke with a few dear friends of mine who don't have dads in this life. And I was reminded that whatever our situation is - whether we are privileged to have incredibly loving, faithful dads or whether we have an empty place in our hearts, wishing a dad had been present in our lives - we all have the ultimate Father: God. He describes Himself in Scripture as Father many times. And, as wonderful as our earthly dads may be, He is still the ultimate example of a Father. 

 May I remind you of all the ways God is Abba to us, "Daddy" to His children:

  I've always been a "Daddy's Girl." When I was little, my dad was my hero - and he still is. In times of heartache, he's loved me unconditionally - just like God holds us when we sink into the depths of despair. And in times of joy, he is always there cheering along with me.
 I look up to him so much.

{Silliness in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - 2009}

 The other day, I found my first-ever prayer journal. At the age of 12 years old I started praying for my future husband for the first time. In scribbled, misspelled letters I made my first list of what I prayed for in "my man." I smiled as I read through the desires of a 12-year-old's heart, and stopped when I noticed #2. Right after "Be a pastor/Christin" (guess I forgot the "a" there...) And above, "Gotta love kids" (at the time I planned to have at least 10 and adopt 2) and "support me in my singing career" (I was just 110% sure I would be the next Amy Grant), I wrote,
"Be just like Dad." 

 He's the reason I am so picky about guys I date - because few men live up to his standard of character. My dad is the most amazing and wonderful father, husband, professor, pastor, writer, leader, griller, and fly-fisherman in this world.

  I pray that I someday love the Lord as passionately as my dad does.
 I pray that I love my future children as generously as my dad loves me & my sister. 
I'm thankful for Dad's reminder in my life of the bigness of God's love for people.
And I pray that you are reminded today 
of how extravagantly 
you are loved
by your Father - your Abba, God.

He loves you.
So, so much.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called children of God.
And that is what we are!" 
-1 John 3:1




PS - I created a little video documenting Dad's graduation last weekend, enjoy!

Special thanks to Karen Kingsbury for taking some of the photos in this post
 and for the inspiration for the topic and title :)


  1. This is absolutely perfect. I have to admit, I started to get a little teary eyed while reading this post because I have something saved me in my drafts almost incredibly similar that I have yet to post. You are wonderful. He is wonderful. Fathers (earthly and heavenly) are wonderful. They truly know us, as individuals. Thank you for this.

  2. this is great. i am still a HUGE daddy's girl. he is my role model and my influence for wanting to go into pharmacy. i love how open and honest you are about your dad. i feel like i know him now. so great to hear and see the relationship you have with you dad and Father. great inspiration and hope! thank you for being open and sharing.

  3. Erin, this post just shines with love. You are so ambitious after the Lord's love and such a family girl! I love it! What a huge accomplishment for your dad (and I LOVED all the decor you've posted on instagram from his book themed party!)

  4. Just wanted to say I stumbled across your blog today and wow! I'm totally blown away by your encouragement to young christian girls. Even though I'm across the country in little ol' Panama City, Florida...its so encouraging and reassuring to know that there are other young women out there living their lives out for the Lord!


  5. Erin ~ please share with your dad how incredibly proud the Deal's are of his accomplishments! We were just speaking yesterday on how your dad has 'ruined' this family as we can never find another man of God with such humility, grace and wisdom I still listen to his CD's from Antioch).
    You truly are a blessed daughter, God has given to you greatly. ~ rhonda

    PS: Tell your dad I'm still wanting to attend that class!

  6. What a sweet and thoughtful post about your awesome daddy and our heavenly Father! Love that old journal entry. It really speaks volumes about the kind of dad you have :)

    And loved watching your little video- what a truly exciting time for your dad and family!!

  7. I absolutely love you My Father's list with the scripture next to the character traits. You are so blessed to have such a loving dad. I loved all of your beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing from your heart. Beautiful post!

  8. Erin this is so beautifully written! You had me in tears before I was finished reading :) I've never met my biological father so reading this really blessed me. Thankfully I have a wonderful Grandpa, who I refer to as my "Papa" and he steped up and took an earthly father role in my life. I know if it wasn't for the love of Jesus Christ and presence of my Papa I wouldn't be the person I am today. You are blessed to have such a loving earthly father. THank you for your post sweet friend XoXo

  9. ahhh erin!!! I LOVE this post girl!! =) Your dad is awesome, he kept us safe from scary mickey =) =) So he's one of my heroes too =) ;)
    SO glad to see all you guys together for such an AWESOME celebration wooop woop!!! =)
    Love ya girl!!

  10. I seriously believe that through his eyes he probably can only shoot moon beams of love.

  11. SUCH a great post, girly!!! New follower and excited to read more! :))

  12. what a beautiful post. it's all so true and we are so blessed to have God as our Father. what a great godly example your father on earth has been for you! i just love your little note about wanting your future man to be "just like dad"-sweetest thing ever :)

  13. what a beautiful post. it's all so true and we are so blessed to have God as our Father. what a great godly example your father on earth has been for you! i just love your little note about wanting your future man to be "just like dad"-sweetest thing ever :)

  14. You must be very proud and thankful to have such a loving and supportive father. I love how he made your 16th birthday an unforgettable one, by renting a limousine. I was also touched to hear that he was the one who comforted you when you got your heart broken when you were 18. He's just so thoughtful to have done everything to make you feel special. You are so lucky to have him, so treasure every moment with him. Thanks for sharing such a heartwarming read, Erin! Kudos and all the best to you!

    Evan Blake @ Antique Limousine


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