I’ve read all kinds of statistics on why kids need dads. A huge portion of prison inmates lived fatherless childhoods. Risk of teen pregnancy increases. Grades drop. The risk of poverty nearly quadruples. My children, growing up with JJ around, have a much better shot a lives without detrimental risk factors. ┬áBut that’s not the heart of my gratitude toward their father.

Because of JJ, they will live more joy-filled lives. I have zero doubt of this. Not just because without JJ I’d be a weepy, useless mess – but he is the partner that brings out the real joy.

Last summer we arrived home somewhat late – definitely after bedtimes – and he decided to let the big two stay up until dusk to catch fireflies in jars. I busied myself putting away laundry and other work of the home and I could hear the laughter and cackling out the window as the two first experienced a childhood milestone. That’s joy they wouldn’t have otherwised experience if mama had just put them to bed.

They will experience true joy because their father takes great joy in their lives. We’re in a season where H-boy LOVES to fish. All. the. time. JJ, not the avid fisherman, bought his license and started digging for worms. He joins his son by the dock and teaches what little he knows about tying knots on hooks and releasing the catch back to the lake. While H-boy gets great joy from his experience of fishing, the fact that his father takes great joy in it for no other reason than the love of his son means the joy is multiplied. It’s not a mathematical fact (because numbers make me dizzy), but I believe it in my gut. This is the work of love, the backwards economy of the gospel at work.

I wish for every kid to stay out of jail, eat healthy meals, not feel the need to give into societal pressures of negative influences and all those father-factors. But I also wish the kind of joy that comes from knowing this grown man loves you, protects you, encourages you and finds great joy in your existence.

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