Sarah turned from her father and spoke under her breath, “You don’t understand. You will never understand.” Her father looked up at me in disbelief as if to say, “Where did that come from?” Being the disciplinarian in the family, I looked at her with what has become known as “the mommy look” and said, “What did you say?”
“Nothing.” She said as she walked away.
This was something new for us. Sarah and her sister Hannah had always been respectful of us and others, so it was a shock for us to hear this from her. We sat and thought about what had changed. Initially, we chalked it up to pre-teen angst, but there seemed to be something more. As the weeks went by her talking back and attitude persisted, even escalated, so I watched and listened in between timeouts and reprimands. What was worse was her younger sister was beginning to pick up on the attitude. One evening I let the girls watch TV while I cooked dinner, and low and behold, one of the children on the show reverberated word for word things I had heard Sarah say over the past couple of weeks! TV!? Could it be? We had always been strict about what channels and how long they watched TV, to avoid having conversations we intended to have later in their lives. The channels we let them watch were supposed to be “family friendly”, but it was apparent I needed to be more vigilant. So, I watched their shows…and discovered the problem.
Over the next few weeks, I critiqued the programs and soon realized that not one- NOT ONE, the show had a parent who was intelligent, attentive, or protective. The children on these shows were arrogant and disrespectful. Often disobeying their parents to “right a wrong” that the mom and dad were too stupid to see. It was disheartening. As hard as I tried to shield them from the shows they always found a friend or a relative willing to let them watch. The problems lessened but persisted. What could I do?
It was around this time that “life” happened to our family. My husband would come home tired, exhausted, and depressed from his work day. One evening was particularly challenging, and he yelled at the girls for a minor thing and locked himself in his office. Sarah and Hannah looked at me with tears in their eyes and asked “Why doesn’t daddy like us anymore? We are trying to be better.” I assured them their daddy stilled loved them very much and carried them upstairs to bed.
But before bedtime prayers, they shouted “Tell us a story, Mommy! Make one up about us!”
“Okay…let’s see…Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a Princess Sarah, a Princess Hannah…a Queen Mommy……and a…BIG KING DADDY!” Their laughter rang in my ears like music! “They all lived in the Land of Worthy where everyone was happy…until one day…” And thus “The Adventures of Big King Daddy” began. Every night the princesses would get into trouble and Big King Daddy, who loved God, loved his wife and loved his princesses would come to the rescue. The girls would often help me tell these stories by adding favorite toys, characters, or colors into the mix. It always made them laugh and smile. Surprisingly, the disrespectful behavior diminished, and daddy became their hero again.
An unexpected caveat occurred during our little adventures at bedtime. My daughters had told my husband about the stories with a great deal of enthusiasm, but he was rarely home in time to tuck the girls in bed…or so we thought. If we were upstairs telling the stories he would sit on the steps and listen. He would listen as Big King Daddy went off to find his girls. He would protect them. He would pray to God to give him strength and wisdom to find them. He was their world, and they were his. We had no idea until my husband was preaching one Sunday morning and he mentioned the stories in his sermon. He told how he would sit on the steps and listen and he “wanted to be Big King Daddy”. He stopped focusing on the struggles and challenges at work and began focusing on what was important, his family.
So much has happened since “The Adventures” began. A Princess Rebekah has been born and incorporated into our story. A new ministry for my husband as an Army Chaplain. Princess Sarah and Princess Hannah have both gone off to College. And our adventures continue still.
As my husband and I now minister to families in the military, we see so many of the same challenges arise in their homes. The struggle of hard-working parents. The difficulties of fathers and mothers who love their families but constantly deploy to go to war. Children who obtain their perspective of parents from TV shows that portray adults as idiots. And then we wonder why our country is falling apart. My heart. My desire. My hope is that as my husband and I minister to soldiers and their families we can encourage them and teach them the importance of family unity. The importance of godly parenting and protecting our little ones from the subtle decay of respect and obedience.
We have become a nation that shames those who believe in God. We find it hard to believe that marriage can last. We struggle to think that we are worthy of being loved and cared for. But the truth is beautiful and achievable! We have a God who loves us and established marriages and families to protect us in this fallen and chaotic world. When we love each other in the good times and the bad, we thrive. I love my God. I love my husband. I love my family. We pray families will be encouraged to have their own “Adventures”- and thrive.
About the Author
As a daughter of a U.S. Air Force pilot, Donna C. Worthy spent her young life traveling with her parents and brothers to military bases around the world and across the country. She settled briefly in Norfolk, VA where she attended Old Dominion University for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She has been married to Shay Worthy for over 27 years and has assisted him in his ministries in multiple states. He is currently Active Duty as a U.S. Army Chaplain, so her travels continue. She is a Licensed Physical Therapist specializing in Home Health and has practiced for over 25 years. She is active in Protestant Women of the Chapel teaching Bible Studies, speaking, giving devotions, and encouraging military wives and female soldiers as they navigate the challenges of The Army lifestyle. They have three daughters: Sarah, Hannah, and Rebekah, who are loosely portrayed in the book. “The Adventures of Big King Daddy” is her first book in what she hopes to become a beautiful legacy of her family’s life and ministry.