A Makenzie Restoration

61767397100The dreams about her have subsided. I don’t think about her everyday as I have in years past and I’m needing to play old audio to remember her voice. Six years ago today, my oldest daughter, Makenzie — who is now my youngest — was invited into heaven.  “Six years” is a long time as I think about all that has happened since.  Great things.  Hard things.  Things to celebrate and things to mourn.  

As I spend today in the back corner of a small-town coffee shop, I think about the word “restoration.”  More-so, I think about what it takes to be restored.  Brokenness first.  Surrender second.  Expertise third.  Time last.  Then, restoration births new life.  That’s God’s way.  He takes my broken and hurting heart for the loss of my child and calls it to surrender.  He reaches out and holds my surrendered hands first to comfort, then to lead.  With expertise, he chisels his way through the rocky attitudes and sorrows that surround death and over time, calls me to something greater.  Pain is necessary for growth.  Demolition is necessary for restoration. 

So many emotions today.  I’m expecting them.  So many thoughts and mental wanderings will flood the hours. I’ll entertain them.  It’s part of God’s restoration for me, and it is good.  




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A Reminder to Dads About Their Daughters

dad-with-daughter-laughingOne of our holiday traditions is to host a Polish dinner event.  Part of this experience is called the sharing of oplatek in which members of each family go around the table and wish a blessing to each person.  This is usually called the “cry-fest” by the high school aged kids among us.

This year, when it came to one of the young daughters’ turn to talk about her dad, she broke down.  Deep breathing through the words and tears, she said something to the effect of,

“Daddy, you have always been there for me and I’ve always known that you love me.  You think I’m pretty.  You think I’m valuable and you think that I’m special.  So I’ve learned from you that I’m going to wait for a husband that thinks I’m pretty, that thinks I’m valuable and that thinks I’m special.”

All of us broke down weeping – especially us dads – because we were reminded of the power we have on our Daughters.  We Dad’s shape our Daughters’ perception of themselves and their self-worth.  They are looking to us for their valuation and we help answer their inner questions of “Am I pretty and acceptable?”  We are also the representation of God in their young lives.  We best not screw that up.

So, Dads, my encouragement to you(us) is this:

  • Be intentional about telling your daughter how much you love her.
  • Tell her that you think she’s pretty.
  • Tell her not to settle for just any boy.
  • Above all, be there for her.  They deserve it from you.

Question:  How does your Daughter know that you love her?




Sonora Dodd was inspired by the selflessness of her father. So much so that she held the first FATHER’S DAY celebration on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington. Her novel idea of honoring fathers eventually spread. Finally, in 1966, then President of the U.S. Lyndon Johnson officially proclaimed the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day.

As Dad’s, we hope that we are helping our children and not hurting them in some hidden way. Here are 6 techniques to becoming a better Father.

Focus your own life on the Lord.
Everything begins and ends with this – Everything! Col. 3:1 (GW) says, “Since you were brought back to life with Christ, focus on the things that are above—where Christ holds the highest position.”

Adore your spouse.
Ephesians. 5:25 (NIV) says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

Someone once said “The greatest gift of man can give his children is to love his wife” I believe this to be true. This is the greatest single gift you can give your children is to love your wife. Always ask yourself this question “What am I my teaching my children when they see how I’m treating my wife?” Husbands do you adore your spouse?

Train your child.
You may have heard this verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NJB)

There are 2 commands that God tells us in this verse on parenting:

  • First, we are to “Train” which literally means ‘fill the hand‘. Give them something that they can apply in their life. Let them know you love them, verbally and they will carry that in their ‘hand’ the rest of their lives. What should I train him in? Primarily, we as Dads are to train them in the knowledge of the Lord!
  • Second, we are to train them how to live. Loving correction and discipline produces health and balance. Proverbs 23:13 (NIV) “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.”

Hold your child.
A gentle hug communicates safety, acceptance and love. Jesus did this in Mark 10:16 (NIV) “And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”

Express your love.
There is a current Verizon commercial with a Father and Son buying phones but their spoken words, while brief, communicates so much (SEE THE VIDEO HERE).

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (CEV) says, “Love is kind and patient,never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude.Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered.It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive,loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love never fails!


Represent Jesus to your children. Dad, did you know that the picture your children have of you is a similar picture that they have of Jesus! It’s true! The way you treat your young child translates, for them, “This is how God will treat me!”
That’s why Paul in his letter to the Corinthians was so careful yet firm on telling them – follow me! As I follow Christ!
“For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. So I ask you to follow my example and do as I do.” 1 Cor. 4:15-16 (NLT)

None of us are perfect, nor will we be. But the adventure called “Fatherhood” is one that I’m glad was well represented in my life and I pray that I’m always becoming a better Father.

Happy Father’s Day!

Question: What are some great things your own dad has done in your life? Write a reply below …


Makenzie in My Dreams

It’s been nearly three years since my oldest daughter, Makenzie died in a car accident.  Since then, our family has been on a journey marked by recovery, struggle, joy, sadness, questions and pain.  Pain – there’s been plenty of that.  But what has been lacking in our movement forward are dreams.  In my vulnerability, I pray for dreams about her.  Last night, God gave me one. Here’s what I remember:

Our family was at a party – no, a carnival.  There were kiddie rides, food booths and street performers and the smell of cotton candy permeated the cool, late afternoon air.  In the dream, I knew that she died, that she was allowed a few hours with us and that at the close of the carnival, she would be heading back to heaven.  We walked together, once again, as a family.  We talked, played some games and ate hotdogs smothered in mustard.

Makenzie’s snorty laugh rang in my ears as she skipped and told jokes with my son Nathan and my younger daughter Maddie.  I took her hand and we strolled together past a juggler.  She was fascinated  by the performer’s finesse.  I remember sitting down with her on a bench and asking her questions.  “What is heaven like?”  “What do you remember at and immediately after the accident?”  “Does Jesus play guitar?”  (I don’t know why I asked that but I did).  She simply smiled and snuggled deep into my chest as she used to.

My last vivid memory of the dream was our family, once again, walking through the carnival toward the exit that led to an open field.  Makenzie grabbed Maddie’s hand and the two of them skipped ahead, made a circle and jumped around like two tea-party little girls playing “Ring around the Rosie.”

It was beautiful.  It was lovingly simple and complete.  Yet, the dream seared.  I didn’t want her to go back.  I woke up this morning with the feeling of desperation that I haven’t felt since June, July and August of 2009.

So there it is, oh ye interpreters of dreams.  A look into my sad madness and a walk through the carnival of my dream.


Just A Simple Kiss

Makenzie and Me

There is something special about a gentle kiss that Daddy receives from Daughter.  Those innocent lips smacking against a well-seasoned, gruffy cheek, communicates sweetness … connection … love.  Just A Simple Kiss.

I loved that kiss from her.  Usually it comes unexpectedly.  Hurrying off to school.  Driving into the drop off lane.  Suddenly, she grabs my shoulder sleeve, pulls me sideways and plants one.  I can’t help but smile and say, “I love you, sweets.”  “Love you too, Daddy.”  Then, she bee-bops out of the car, joining her friends and disappearing behind the glass doors that would keep her safe for the balance of her day.

Maddie and Me

And I just sit there; thinking, How can I be so blessed with a beautiful daughter who surprises me with her simple kiss.  Then, as if being jolted out of a dream, the driver behind, gently taps on her horn.  As I drive away, I am reminded about past moments like these with Makenzie.   But today’s hurrying, drop-off, grab and kiss came from my other daughter, Maddie, who told me she loved me, with just A Simple Kiss.



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