What’s in a Name? Daddy, Papa, Abba Father By Jo Russell

At first, the request seemed tougher for twin 8-year-old brothers than deciphering Egyptian. Or being challenged to build a suspension bridge spanning the Mississippi only using popsicle sticks and bubble gum. Make a Father’s Day card? It left my sons more confused than ever.

In their summer enrichment program at the university where I was taking summer grad classes, a cheerful counselor explained the cards would be their project for the special occasion.

But how? And who should get it? Since boys had been infants, their biological father had excused himself from their lives. They had never known him. But the boys already knew that with God everything was possible.

“We can do this!” the two cried together and set to work as a team. Remembering how much their mom and grandma meant to them and their gifts to both for Mother’s Day, the twins encouraged each other making a card. Even though they didn’t know where to send it, they proudly put their best efforts into it. An hour later, drippy with glitter glue and foam hearts, the message they created read,

“Happy Father’s Day, Mr. Russell.
Wherever you are,
We love you.”

They gave it to me. My eyes grew wet.

Yet even at that point, my sons’ sentiment truly belonged to an entire team of men who invested time and faith in them as well as nurtured the boys. It continued through the teen and young adult years.

One father, a coworker/coach, persuaded my sons to try cross country running. Coming out of shyness, one twin enjoyed competing throughout high school and earned athletic letters. He experienced a runner’s high and radiated confidence. Great job, Coach!

A middle-aged deacon pedaled across town on a racing bicycle. He stood at our front door and invited my other teen to bicycle our steep hills and dales with him. From then on, the boy was crazy about bicycles, racing, and building bicycles. It became his passion and livelihood. Thank you, Don!

One shop teacher/ father welcomed my sons after school for rock climbing practice at his house. He also urged the twins to join the student team of builders constructing a house on campus, which would be auctioned and moved. One became student foreman. Both teens learned building trades. Thanks a million, Bob!

Calling them “our boys,” Ben and Jan spent hours guiding my sons in careers, challenges, and tough adult decisions. Thanks so much!

Later as an Army recruit, one son was mentored into manhood and adulthood by a young officer and husband. High five for Todd!

The common denominators in all these fathers included caring, a strong belief in God and in my sons’ value. It didn’t matter that there was no direct family connection. The Christian mens’ concern for non-family members overcame the lack of blood relation.

Like God’s bond with us, caring, time and commitment provided the glue.

To all you fathers out there, thanks for all you do!

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing 2011. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog on www.button-to-god.com.]

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