I love it when a plan comes together.
I particularly love it when that plan involves surprising Peter Worrall. He is not easy to surprise. Or maybe I am just rubbish at keeping secrets. Whichever it is, more times than I can count, he has figured me out and blown my cover.
On Sunday, though, I managed to get him good.
On Sunday Peter was scheduled to preach at a church in Downers Grove, a charming Chicago suburb about an hour south of us. He often preaches at churches around the area. Sometimes the whole family tags along. But other Sundays—for the sake of consistency for the kids—I take them to our home church in McHenry, and we spend Sundays apart.
As Father’s Day approached, I asked Peter what he wanted to do for that special Sunday. Should we all go to Downers Grove? Or should he go alone? Should we meet up later for lunch?
Last week was a fun, but very full, week for our family, including three very late nights in a row—resulting in sometimes-cranky kiddos and a sometimes-irritable momma. So, not surprisingly, Peter looked at all of us and decided that—Father’s Day notwithstanding—an early Sunday morning trek to Downers Grove wasn’t in anyone’s best interest. I nodded with resignation, but immediately the wheels in my head began to turn.
On Sunday morning, then, Peter woke up early and prepared to go preach. He wanted to get to the church nice and early, so he was leaving at 8 a.m. Before he headed out, he came and found me—still in the big bed, cuddling both kids. He kissed us and said, “Goodbye.”
“Happy Father’s Day!” we all said. “We love you.”
Then, as we listened to Peter packing his computer bag and searching for his keys downstairs, I whispered my plan to my co-conspirators. We were going to surprise Daddy by showing up at the church where he was going to preach. The kids gasped at the prospect, eyes big as saucers.
“What?!” Amelia exclaimed. This was apparently the most incredible idea she had ever heard.
“Shhh. We need to be still and quiet until he’s gone,” I whispered. And amazingly they complied. I think they even held their breath until we heard the backdoor close.
Then, on cue, we all three jumped out of bed and flew into motion. We had just 45 minutes to get on the road.
“Daryl, you look out your window and make sure Dad’s really gone. Amelia, let’s get you dressed. What do you want to wear for our big surprise?”
“He’s gone!” Daryl shouted, jumping on his bed. “He’s gone!”
“My Elsa nightgown!” Amelia shouted, jumping around her room. “My Elsa nightgown!”
Okay. Admittedly, the initial excitement over our scheme was short lived. There were difficult debates about Amelia’s clothing choices, and once we were finally on our way, there were innumerable “when will we be there?” whines from the backseat.
But I’d do it all over again. For the surprise and the smile on Peter’s face when he saw us down the hall. For the opportunity to support the man who gives so sacrificially to all of us. For the honor of hearing that man preach about family. For the chance to hear him recount how his own understanding of fatherhood has grown and how he wants to father in the future.
So today—even more than boast about my own success at surprising him (though there is that)—I want to provide you with a link to the Father’s Day message Peter shared on Sunday from Ephesians chapter 5. He scripted that sermon, which he doesn’t usually do. Much of the material is pretty personal, and he wanted to get it just right. The happy additional benefit of this is that he could post the manuscript on his own blog, which he did yesterday. And you can find it here.
There’s a lot in there. Maybe read it in chunks, point by point. Maybe share it with a few of your favorite fathers. And maybe remind them of your support and how necessary they are—as imperfect as they may be.