an unfinished father’s day

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. school of ministry and missions instructor. president of fistbump media, llc.

June 14, 2013

Father's Day

It’s hard to believe it was nine years ago when it happened.

We were new parents. our first (and only) child was barely 17-months old. His toddler-talk always made me laugh, and he brought a joy to our lives that overflowed. He had been walking for a few months now, so chasing him became one of our most common activities. You know the drill. Daddy makes a step in his direction with an “I’m gonna get you” face, the boy screams and starts running in the other direction, daddy chases for a while letting him barely slip away a few times, boy giggles uncontrollably, then daddy scoops up the boy with lots of love and laughter.

I would do anything for that kid.

We also had our share of not so fun days. Nebulizer treatments helped us treat some fairly regular asthmatic-like symptoms. And then there were the tubes in the ears to help with the frequent ear infections. But none of this stuff was big enough for us to lose too much sleep over.

Then came my second ever Father’s Day. This was going to be the fun one, because he wasn’t even six months old the first time we celebrated this glorious event.

But something was wrong. It had been building up for a few weeks. My son was getting unusually cranky. Nothing seemed to please him. He’d ask for something to eat, but then when we put food in front of him, he refused to eat anything. He was also slimming out quite a bit. At first we thought it was just dropping of the baby fat because he was becoming more mobile and active.

My wife and I both had this uneasy feeling. We knew something was wrong.

First thing Monday morning, she took him in to his pediatrician just to check it out and be on the safe side. I went into work, and waited for the phone call to let me know how he was doing. My phone rang, and that was the moment everything changed. “We have to take him up to All Children’s Hospital right away,” she told me.

Type 1 Diabetes interrupted our lives that day.

I had a lot to figure out, and I had to stay strong for my family. But, I was broken. All I knew about Diabetes was that my uncle (who died WAY too young) had it his whole life too. Based on my limited experience, the outlook wasn’t good… at all.

My wife struggled even more than I did, going into a pretty deep depression for several years. Today she says that she feels like Diabetes robbed her of so many years of not seeing the blessings that we had, despite the unwelcome diagnosis.

It’s been nine years now since that day our world was turned upside down. And thanks to some great technology and advancements in research, things are pretty well under control.

While it’s not always easy, we try not to let the disease define his life. There are many days when living with Diabetes is not very pleasant, both physically and emotionally. Regardless, we pick ourselves up and do what we need to do to keep moving forward.

When I think about my son, I see a kind and compassionate young man who wants to make a difference in the world. I can’t tell you how proud that makes me. I remember one day when he stopped me to tell me about some girls he was watching on a game show.

“Dad, they love Jesus, just like I do,” he tells me.

I asked, “How do you know that?”

He told me about how they were playing to raise money for an orphanage, and he said, “Because they love orphans, just like I do.”

He gets it. And the best part is that he’s choosing what kinds of things define his life.

I’m excited to watch this young man grow up. I’m excited to see him choose life, not only in his (physical) situation, but also with others. We pray together nearly every day for the child we sponsor in Haiti. And I’m hoping to get him down there very soon.

Every Father’s Day I remember the feelings around that one nine years ago. And every year I am impressed to see new growth, new things to celebrate. I’m most excited to see where this young man’s story goes from here. Because this story is unfinished…

unfinished stories

father's day

32 Comments

  1. Shelly Miller

    Such a touching story Dan. I didn’t know this about your son. Thanks for sharing his unfinished story and for the way you love people with your big heart. It’s no wonder he loves Jesus and sees Him in others. He’s following in his Dad’s footsteps.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thanks Shelly! Since he was just a newborn, my prayer has always been the same as that Phillips, Craig and Dean song… “Lord, I want to be just like You, because he wants to be just like me.”

      Reply
  2. Emily Wierenga

    oh Dan. oh.

    Reply
    • kelli woodford

      my sentiment exactly, Em.
      Dan this is tragic and broken, yet not eclipsed by such. hope and redemption, oh how they ooze through the cracks.
      thank you for this.

      Reply
      • Dan King

        thank YOU, kelli! there’s always hope and redemption, isn’t there? i’m glad that it oozed through here…

        Reply
    • Dan King

      yeah, i hear ya em… and this really just scratches the surface. maybe someday when we get together for a bbq, i can tell you more. there’s even more going on this father’s day weekend that just adds to the story…

      Reply
  3. Monica Sharman

    Dan, thanks so much for sharing this. I love seeing how, through all this, you are so excited for his “unfinished”…

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thanks Monica! I’m really excited about where this young man’s life goes. I have a feeling that he’s going to make a huge impact on the world around him…

      Reply
  4. Kris Camealy

    Dan, I am so grateful for your story, for sharing the messy grace of your life with us. And to know that there is more of this story to be lived–more of God’s outpouring to experience. Thanking God for your family, for how you lead and live for Christ.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thanks Kris! And there’s definitely a lot of “messy” in our lives… so grateful for the grace!

      Reply
  5. Paul Steinbrueck

    Dan, thanks for sharing this story. I think it’s sooo difficult for us as parents to see our kids face hardships, and the natural response is to get upset when we try to look into the future and see that our kids lives won’t be the way that we idealized them. But God is good. Most of us know from our own experiences that God is able to do remarkable things through our trials and pain, but it’s so much harder to watch and guide our kids through that even more so than it would be to go through it ourselves.

    It makes me wonder how the Father felt as Jesus suffered and died for us. I bet it took all of his supernatural power to restrain himself from coming down here to rescue Jesus. The whole world was blessed because the Father shepherded his Son through the ultimate trial. And Dan, the world is also being blessed as you shepherd your son through the challenges of diabetes.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      wow… that’s a big comparison. but i totally get where you’re coming from. as i’m sure you and many other dads have, i’ve learned so much about God through being a father.

      Reply
  6. Tim Miller

    great story Dan – and may you continue to experience Gods blessing as you raise your son! – treat every day as a fun one!

    Reply
    • Dan King

      thanks tim! i will definitely treat each day as a blessing, and will make sure that i enjoy it as much as possible.

      Reply
  7. SimplyDarlene

    And I’m that kid… only I was a 9-year old girl diagnosed with diabetes.

    Until my own son was diagnosed with some severe eye disorders a few years ago, I never gave a thought to how my diabetes diagnoses impacted my momma. I reckon that means she did all right by me, huh? She did the best she could and that was enough for me.

    I’m super glad your boy knows Jesus and is being raised in a godly home. What a gift.

    Happy Father’s Day.

    Blessings.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      thanks darlene! i thought of you while writing this. and it’s definitely eye-opening when dealing with this kind of stuff as a parent, isn’t it? you rock…

      Reply
    • Patricia W Hunter

      And I thought of you while reading it, Darlene. Your momma did super good with you. And isn’t that the truth – that she did the best she could? I firmly believe that’s true for most people. Sure there are those who know they are being negligent, but by far I think that most parents do the best they can with the information they’ve been given. xox

      Reply
      • Dan King

        totally agree… at least i know that’s the case with me. i try the best i can. sometimes i feel like a complete failure, and sometimes i think i should start a TV talk show about my expertise in parenting. but all the way, it’s a learning and growing process.

        Reply
  8. Raymond Van Cleve

    This is so touching. God bless you Dan, and your family.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      thanks ray! God bless you too!

      Reply
  9. Doris Schmucker

    Beautifully written story of a Father’s heart! Happy Father’s Day Dan!

    Reply
    • Dan King

      thanks doris! i’ve learned a great deal about the Father by experiencing stuff like this.

      Reply
  10. pastordt

    Beautifully written, Dan. Love to all of you this Father’s Day – you and Krista have done a magnificent job navigating through the complications of this disease on your family life. NO regrets. It is what it is, and you are all learning things that will so enrich your own lives and the lives of many people.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      thanks diana! and i love this… “NO regrets!”

      Reply
  11. Elizabeth Stewart

    Great post, Dan. In my opinion, watching our kids go through hard things is way harder than going through them ourselves.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thanks Elizabeth! And you are SO right! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed that it be given to me instead of him. I feel like it would be easier for me to deal with it, than to see him in pain…

      Reply
  12. Patricia W Hunter

    Wonderful post. You’re a good, good dad, Dan. Because your son has a dad like you, he’ll be a champion for good, and God will take that diabetes and use it to His glory to bring freedom and hope to others as He shines His love and favor on your son…and you. Happy {the day after} Father’s Day! =)

    Reply
    • Dan King

      thanks for the encouragement patricia! i love being a dad, especially when i think about the legacy i’ll leave through my kids. it keeps me focused with almost everything i do…

      Reply
  13. David Rupert

    When their faith takes root and it’s no longer your faith, then they really take off. Good lessons and observations and blessings upon that young man

    Reply
    • Dan King

      you are SO right David! and I’m waiting to see that more and more. i’m happy to see sprouts of that in my son’s life as he notices things and makes decisions. but i’m still waiting to see it REALLY click into place for him. can’t wait to see that happen. until then, i’ll keep pouring into him…

      Reply
  14. Sarah Melendez

    Such a moving and incredible story about your son and diagnosis! I love hearing other people’s stories and how these wonderful kids adapt and move on! And it’s tough, the endless nighttime BG checks, lancet pricks, high highs and low lows, but remember that T1D doesn’t define your son, it’s just an extension of his beautiful life. He sounds like an incredible kid, with a heart and passion for The Lord!! Thanks for sharing and hope to connect our sons one of these days:)

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thanks Sarah! It would be great to connect our sons some day… maybe on a trip to Haiti?

      Reply

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an unfinished father’s day

by Dan King time to read: 4 min
32