The Extravagant, Irrational Point.

JCP_3997My Mom tells me that when she was pregnant with me, my Daddy desperately wanted a girl from day one. She originally wanted a boy, but seeing how much my Dad hoped for a little girl made her hope for one too. I like to remind them that I fulfilled all of their pink tinted dreams simply by being born.

My Dad has long been the man I’ve looked up to the most in the world. I didn’t understand what a precious gift that was until high school, when I came to the startling realization that not every little girl grew up wanting to marry somebody like her Daddy. I watched friends reel with the sting of being overlooked and hurt by their Dads, and something in me just couldn’t understand it. Where other girls looked at their Dads and only saw pain, all I could ever see when I looked at mine were a thousand burned and rather salty chocolate chip cookies that he choked down over lemon-water tea parties with a smile. I saw a man who was reading his Bible when I woke up every morning. A man who determined when I was a very little girl that he would buy me more flowers than any other man on the planet—and thus far, no contender has even come CLOSE. I have an overflowing stack of dried flowers from my Dad sitting on top of a dresser in my old room, and the first time Kellan saw them he was so disheartened that  he didn’t buy me so much as a carnation for a solid year. [He’s rallied.]

As the years spun on, I looked at my Dad and saw a man who would take me out for overpriced lattes and let me rant or cry or float about whatever it was that was stirring the still waters of my world. I saw a man who would patiently, wisely counsel me when I had questions or was hurting. I saw a man who encouraged me to hop a plane to West Africa for two years, not because it was safe or he wanted me gone, but because he fervently believed that Jesus was better than being comfortable. It was a lesson I’d learned simply from observing his life over the course of mine. I looked at my Dad, and I saw a hero. Not perfect, but perfect to be mine.

The past year has revealed new things about my Dad. I look at him today, and see a man who fitfully slept in an uncomfortable recliner by his son’s hospital bed every single night that Ian was there so he would never be alone. [And over the course of a five month bout with cancer, there were many.]  A man who would switch off with my Mom during the day and instead of running home to sleep in an actual bed, would go to work or take my little sister Emily to ballet. I remember during the last week of Ian’s final three week stay in the ICU, I walked into my parent’s house one morning and saw my Dad sitting at the living room table. He hadn’t really slept in weeks, and in fact had barely left the ICU at all. Confused as to why he wasn’t taking a nap or at least eating a meal that hadn’t come wrapped in paper, I asked him what he was doing.

He was working on his sermon for my wedding. Honey, I really enjoy this. I’m really excited about your wedding! He said it with a smile.

It was the same man that left the hospital just long enough to buy me a bouquet of roses on Valentine’s day. The same man that insisted that we practice our waltz over and over again in the kitchen even JCP_3351though he was unspeakably exhausted, and the world outside of our front door was crumbling into a thousand irretrievable pieces. Our waltz was still important to him because I never stopped being important to him.

That’s just my Dad. I look at him today and see a man that confidently, brokenly, humbly reminded me in the whitewashed hallway outside of room 17 in the ICU that if God chose not to heal Ian, it would not be because He didn’t love us or hadn’t heard us. I knew that he meant it because he had spent his life teaching me that God is a good Father. It was a lesson that I never found hard to believe, because I already had one.

To you Daddies out there—especially y’all with little girls—buy her flowers. Buy her so many flowers that no other man will ever be able to compete. They are expensive and unnecessary and will die in a week and that is the extravagant, irrational point. It is through your extravagant, irrational love that she will begin to understand the way that Jesus loves her. Eat everything that she proudly hands you as she’s learning to bake, and every once in a while ask for seconds. Wear the feather boa AND the floppy hat, and cheers her stuffed bunny rabbit when she invites you to tea. Tell her that she looks just beautiful every single morning. Let her see you read your Bible, but more importantly, let her see you value the God that gave it to you. Value that God above all of his gifts—above her Mother, above a comfortable life, above keeping her safe. Push her to follow Jesus wherever He leads. Remind her that God is good no matter what it feels like—whether a boy hurts her feelings or her little brother is dying. God longs for your daughter to know how He treasures and adores her through you.

And if you have questions about any of this, feel free to give my Daddy a call. He’s pretty great at it.

Happy Father’s day to the greatest one that I have ever known!  I love you, Daddy.

JCP_4006 bw


  1. Benjamen Ober says:

    Really appreciate this post. Thanks for reminding us how godly men look and act before the Father’s Day weekend.

  2. Oh, Ashley.

  3. Jamie C. Warren says:

    Tears are streaming down my face.

  4. Cynthia Shigo says:

    This one made me cry, too. It was my father, not my brother, who we lost to cancer, far too young. But I felt about him exactly like you feel about yours. I learned from him to follow my heart into great adventures, and to love the people I met along the way. When Catherine was 4, she asked her Daddy ( who also attended her tea parties and let her “style” his hair, with great grace), “What is faith?” He answered, “Faith is believing that Jesus loves us, even when bad things happen.” You are becoming a woman of great faith, Ashley.

    • I’m so sorry that you lost your Dad. I’m glad that you had such a good one, and that you’re married to a man that’s a great Dad to your daughters. :) Thank you for being so encouraging!

  5. Whew, one day you have me laughing hysterically,the next day I’m sitting at my desk bawling. That’s powerful.

    I’m 11wks pregnant and i hope, that if we have a girl, my husband will have this type of relationship with our daughter.

    • I’m so excited for you!! Congratulations. :) I hope so, too–wow, what an exciting time for you! You get to discover all sorts of new things. :) I hope you’re enjoying pregnancy thus far!

  6. You can’t stop making us cry can you? Your dad is a hero, plain and simple. God bless xx

  7. Marge Farmer says:

    Dearest Ashley,
    Yes, your Dad is truly a man or God. How blessed y’all are to have him as your earthly Daddy and that he has led you to your Heavenly Father. I recognized what a special person he was back at FHS many years ago. You were just a wee tot the last time I saw you ( Ian was in a high chair in Livonia) but it has been my joy to follow your family these many years.
    Thanks for being so transparent and filling in the blanks about Ian’s illness and home going. You have been in my prayers so often and will continue to be as you continue to walk out your faith in these stressful months.
    May our Lord continue to be your constant comfort and strength,
    In His love, Marge

  8. Jenna Sherard says:

    I love this post. Just totally beautiful in every way!


  1. […] The Extravagant, Irrational Point. My friend and former Summit coworker Ashley Dickens wrote a phenomenal Fathers Day tribute to her dad. I’ve never met him, but I wanna be like him when I grow up. […]

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