As a girl growing up around New Orleans, there were things in my childhood that were certain to be present - fishing, crawfish peeling and frequent Riverwalk Saturdays. Different than most of my friend's families was my family's mandatory "family day" every single Saturday. Until my older siblings got involved in youth group, sports and had the strong desire to be with there friends above the rest of us - Saturday was all about our bunch.
With little money to spread between 4 kids, we'd do things like picnics in city park, window shop in the riverwalk, ride bikes to get snowballs or go fishing at Lafrieniere. It was a day to connect with each other and always afforded us the availability of our parents. It's why now, most Saturdays with my own little bunch are Silva Family Saturdays.
It was those days, and countless other interactions, that proved to be intentional pursuit of relationship from my parents. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, and my dad was a bi-vocational minister who had long hours and much devotion to the church. Still, there was nothing that trumped his group of 4. I knew this growing up, and I know this today. Relationship with me is a priority in his heart. Though I didn't realize it then, Wayne Newman (my dad) was the picture of Christ's pursuit of me and maybe the strongest agent of introduction to that relationship in my life.
He was an intentional father, making time with me priority, even if only in short increments, it was present. He was a gracious dad - my mistakes never added up to my worth, but were simple opportunities for growth and encouragement in truth. As I got older and boys came into the conversation, though now always with ease, he tried his best to guide my choices instead of make them for me. Not easy for him I'm sure, but so pertinent for my growth.
He was/is not the picture of perfection, but my goodness, did I have an incredible example of Christ's love through Him - a God who comes after us consistently, graciously and constantly...A God who doesn't use our failures as displays for our lacking, but as opportunities for display of His accessible power and strength given freely to us. I am certain it's because of who He is, that I was able to weed through the bozos of life to find the knight in shining armor I married, who is identical in persistent pursuit of the heart of my girls.
While I recognize not every woman or girl has this earthly example to lead her to draw a parallel, I'm so aware that God's greatness still supercedes negative roles in our lives and allows us to find protection, provision, in His all abiding presence.
As we celebrate the role of a Father, let us also celebrate the all encompassing, ever loving, abundantly merciful and persistently pursuant God who comes after us over and over again. Where earthly relationships falter, where fathers can fall short - may we always find peace in knowing He calls us His own.