When the cute, brown eyed boy asked me out at 16 I based my "yes" on three things - his love for the Lord, the way he treated me in our friendship, and his desire to have a family. I was in no position to be getting married but I had learned that dating could only be healthy if the field was narrowed solely to people possessing qualities I would want in a spouse. Charlie proved to be the perfect blend of fun-loving and sincere, treating me with a respect and love that made me eager to become "Mrs. Nesdahl."
During pre-marriage counseling Charlie said he wanted six kids. My heart hiccupped and I suggested two with agreement to pray over it. Together the Lord has brought us perfect peace in our three.
At the time we never could've imagined that our complete family picture would be three little girls. Although, to Charlie's credit, he did guess girl for our last (we always chose to be surprised in the delivery room) and one of my favorite memories about that day will always be Charlie pumping his fist in the air saying, "I was right. It's a girl."
A proud papa of pink times three. And three girls that are girly-girls no less.
This Father's Day we were near an American Girl store. Our girls' love for American Girl cannot be overstated. Ava just had a Bitty Baby themed birthday party because it is like an extension of her being at the tender age of two and Grace and Hannah put every dollar they get right down to the ones from the tooth fairy into their savings account with anticipation for their AG trip the next year. And it is a love we support. American Girl purposefully designs dolls, accessories, and clothing to help every girl have a doll like her, whether it be without hair because of chemo or in a cast or wearing a ballet leotard. And, the enclosed charms and books all promote healthy virtues and family bonding. These are messages we appreciate. Still, I wasn't thinking it was the Father's Day dream and I suggested a different day.
"No," Charlie said, "It makes the most sense to do it on Father's Day."
I wasn't totally sure why but off we went.
As I looked at my man next to his girls through the lens my heart broke with a new love I never knew possible when I said, "I do." Our Creator has this inventive way of showing us new beauty in the one we've long loved as they nurture our growing children.
My patient husband walked through the store, actually taking interest in everything the girls showed him along they way. He got excited in their excitement. He pretended not to see what they were doing and swallowed them in hugs when they presented their live Father's Day crafts to him.
And suddenly his comment was crystal clear.
It made the most sense to go to American Girl on Father's Day because it meant living the role. Father's Day isn't a day to gloat about creating offspring but to celebrate the gift it is to have them. So that is what my man did.
True manhood isn't about being rough and tough, raking in the dough, or being celebration worthy. It is posturing his heart towards the Lord and listening for how to love well. This looks different for boys verses girls and with kids of varying interests, but it boils down to the same common denominator - invested presence.
After Charlie and the kids finished off their mall experience with a laughter filled log-ride, we got in the car and I kept flipping back to the photo outside American Girl. Surely Charlie's interest in our girls' love is teaching them that a spouse worthy boy will do the same. His patience has to be teaching them that they should never be rushed or made to feel uncomfortable. His hugs and "I Love Yous" leave the imprint that Godly love never hurts and always protects. He is building them up.
Children whose father takes the time to laugh, cry, listen, and celebrate with them, are positioned for success. A real man will live that out every opportunity he's given and both families and the future are strengthened in the process.
Thank you, Charlie, for gifting that to our kids. You do amazing things behind the scenes!
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