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SUCCEED - June 14, 2006

Many of you have read Little House on the Prairie or watched the TV series. You probably remember the feisty Laura Ingalls whose father described her as “Pa’s half pint of sweet cider half drunk up.” This always stuck in her memory as one of the special things just between a child and her “Daddy.”

One of the stories tells of Laura holding a bag of nails and “helping” her father to make a fish trap to set in a creek near their home. They set it together and then just sat and waited for the fish to get caught in the trap so they could have the fun of taking them home to dinner.

It was an experience that bonded them together. It was some-thing that the author remembered many years later at the death of her father. It didn’t involve the so called “quality time,” money being spent for toys, electronic gadgets, or expensive travel to vacation spots. It was just a daddy spending time with a child. It wasn’t even about the fish trap or holding the nails. They talked of many things while waiting for the trap to fill with fish.

Laura told her father about her fear of attending school for the first time. She was very shy and talked more to animals than people. Her father listened to her trials and showed through his patience and confidence in her that she could handle the school days. She felt secure because she knew that her father was a good listener and would be with her as she experienced life.

Charles Ingalls was never much of a worldly success, but he did leave a memorable legacy behind in his daughter’s books. She told of the life of the American pioneer family and the importance of a father. A father in the home, no matter what his job, is something every child should have. He doesn’t have to buy his children’s love, because they already feel his love. He just has to be there to listen and show them, by example, how to handle life’s problems.

There are other great fathers who have come along in the hundred years since Charles Ingalls lived in South Dakota. Maybe their children will write memoirs about their own childhoods, recounting in loving detail the time Dad spends camping in the back yard, shooting baskets, or just taking walks, shortening his long strides to match the steps of the little feet that confidently skip along beside him.

Maybe they are fortunate enough to have a father who can share his life’s work with them, learning to be an honest, hard working, good citizen and strong Christian. Maybe your children won’t write a book about your relationship, but a good father’s love is inscribed on his child’s heart and that’s more important than a published work any day.

“It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us father a child.”  --Johann Schiller

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