I love this dad SO much! Casey and I became friends during our days at Buckhead Church – then our families became friends. His heart is the size of Texas – which you will see in this blog post. He is a songwriter (you will know many of his songs). He is a worship leader. But MOST importantly, he is a proud husband to Anisa and a JOYFUL dad of his four girls. Most recently – he chose to walk away from traveling and singing most weeks to be home with his girls. He also chose to put his wife’s dreams (her baby is Truth & Co) before his career which is just amazing. There is more to this story of course – which we will cover on an podcast one day.
For today – just let this story about love and showing up get into your heart. We can all learn from Casey’s heart – whether we are a mom, dad or grandparent. – Courtney
Saving Dr. Seuss Day by Casey Darnell
This story is from 2013.. but I will never forget it.
Today was Dr. Seuss day at Ava’s school, so we dressed Ava up in a cute little outfit… like you do with a 6-year-old girl (duh!). However it was more of a hip, Anthropologie, kid-fashion outfit, not so much the zany, tacky “Seuss-esque” fashion that all the other kids had done to the MAX, which I soon discovered as I walked her to her class.
Ava didn’t complain, but was immediately bombarded by all the other kids with questions about what or who she dressed up as. She quietly looked down at her outfit, smiled slightly and then looked at me with a confused and fragile expression.Again, she didn’t whine, but I just knew as I looked in her eyes that she didn’t know how to feel.
I however, instantly felt a HORRIBLE sadness come over me that’s hard to describe.
It was as if the moment reached back into my childhood or something… I KNEW how she felt & my heart broke. I bolted home, called my wife to inform her what was happening, and proceeded to ransack her room for ANYTHING that could work as an outfit. I was desperate to save her day… all the while feeling her embarrassment from afar.
In 15 minutes, I grabbed everything bright and princessy and zany that I could fit in my arms and dashed back to the school…. Forest Gump style. When I arrived, Ava hadn’t seen me yet, but I made eyes with her teacher, who realized what was happening and what I had done, and she called Ava to the hallway.
I hid around the corner, and as Ava walked out to the hallway, she turned & their I stood, arms overflowing with outfits and a big smile!
I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.
As soon as she saw me, she BURST into tears and said to me, “Thank you daddy, thank you… I was so embarrassed” I told her we needed a do-over and how super sorry I was that I had missed it.
She just hugged me tight for a long time and we had us a real good cry. Here’s a photo I grabbed with our puffy eyes.
We put ALL of the clothes on, made an outfit up and I went to town on her hair. After all… THIS was Dr. Seuss Day!!! You only get one of these in your life if you are lucky 🙂
The teacher REDID the class picture and Ava insisted I be in it with her (more tears). I gave her one last hug, followed by “I love you and I’ll see you after school” and I left.
On my way home, I called Anisa and with a lot of emotion, told her what happened. Ava had told me what the other kids were asking and how embarrassed she was. She didn’t want me to leave and her joy was so overwhelming she couldn’t stop crying.
Like the most beautiful happy crocodile tears ever.
And yeah… I will never forget it.
I thanked God as I left, that I was dialed into her world and had not let that moment slip by because I wasn’t paying attention or was too busy to notice.
Being my daughter’s “hero” is going to be a lifelong journey of moments like today. And sometimes I won’t always need to save the day for her but I knew I could and should on this day. It will look different as she grows, but will always require my attention and presence to notice what is happening or else I could miss out on the greatest joy I get to have right NOW… simply being her dad.
Today, I showed her I SEE her and she knew she was loved.
My prayer is, that it is another seed sown into her heart for days that are to come, when the stakes are a lot higher than epic-failing on Dr. Seuss day in Kindergarten.
These lessons for my journey as a dad seem to always come as gentle nudges.
As Andy Stanley says, “Don’t trade what’s unique to you for something someone else can do!”
Fast forward to today.
I get to be the dad of 4 daughters!!!!
Unicorns, princess dresses and PINK, everywhere!
And as each one dances through the hallways of our home and our lives, I remember this role as their father is mine for the owning! My unique role and one I admit I feel like I fumble more than succeed at, but I’m learning… while there will be many other singers and songwriters… I am their dad!
So my humble prayer for myself and for you out there reading this,
“God don’t let us miss these good gifts, these moments we get to feel just how special it is to have these little treasures around… May the impact you created us to have on their little hearts, as their fathers and mothers, be so present in our minds and hearts, that would not be willing to trade what is eternal for the temporary enticements and distractions of our busy days.”