With Father’s Day approaching I tend to reflect on not only my relationship with my own father but that with my Heavenly Father as well.
Some of us have been blessed to have been born into a family where our father was nurturing and kind, but for some of us, we weren’t so fortunate. Instead, we had to navigate a childhood full of rejection, and fear, and sometimes even abuse.
This Father’s Day I thought I would share a story from my book Eat Pray Get Well. This was a typical Saturday for my sister and me aged eight and eleven. Although my childhood was tough, God promises in Psalm 68.5 to be a father to the fatherless and God has surely lived up to this promise in my life.
According to our dad sleep was for the lazy, so as soon as the sun rose, we would be awoken by our window shades being pulled up and his command for us to “rise and shine”. Sounds nice enough doesn’t it? But “rise and shine” meant get outside and start working on the yard and NO phone calls, NO bathroom breaks, and NO breakfast until the job was done! Our land consisted of a ½ acre but it felt like a ranch to us after moving to upstate New York from the Bronx.
Understandably this yard meant a lot to our father who was a city person his whole life, living in apartments and working in high rises, but deep down he was born to be outside. His “passion” for his land translated into hours of us girls raking, pulling, mowing, trimming, moving dirt and rocks from one place to another and then there was the dreaded “barrel pull”.
Hours worth of raked leaves would have to go SOMEWHERE so he would have us place them in a plastic barrel (almost as tall as we were) and dispose of them in the woods (AKA our neighbor’s property).
Being new to the neighborhood, and coming from the Bronx with our funny accents, and not to mention we were children of a father that seemed a little crazy, did not make us popular. The barrel pull only added to our reputation.
While all of the other “normal” kids rode their bikes and roller skates up and down the street, we walked the barrel uphill 200 yards as the kids chanted “look at them, all they do is work, work, work”.
Our father, not wanting to be left out, would add to the dialogue by standing at the bottom of the street barking instructions and threats at us. “Pick up the pace”! “Stop dragging it”! “If that barrel gets a hole in the bottom of it I’ll cripple you”! Today as adults we laugh as my sister tells how she often pictured herself in a wheelchair as a result of a minor indiscretion.
While we were outside working, our father loomed large over us either working alongside us or watching us from a window. His appraisal of our work, technique, or general wellbeing was never positive. He watched us with disgust, while lashing verbal insults regarding how lazy we were, how we were holding the rack incorrectly, and, of course, how stupid we were because he had shown us how to hold it correctly hundreds of times before.
Eventually, and without fail, he would rip the rake out of our hands and demand that we watch another stellar performance of Dad raking like a gold medalist. We watched and thought to ourselves, he’s raking the exact same way we’ve been raking! We could see the vein in his forehead bulging, we could hear the disdain and anger in his tone, and we felt the shame that went along with just not being good enough.
Once done working outside, we started to plan our opportunity to bathe. Our father felt bathing was a luxury, not a necessity. After fighting over who would go first, the windows had to be checked to see where he was in the yard before it was safe to turn on the bath. Then, while the water filled up the tub, it was necessary to watch from window to window to keep an eye on him.
If you lost sight of him, you needed to turn off the water immediately until you could safely locate him outside. Our baths could only be a few inches deep. If caught and you were found to have more than a few inches of water, this would bring on a tirade and a heavy dose of sarcasm tailor-made to make us feel ashamed of ourselves.
One of his common questions was “Who do you think you are, the Queen of Sheba?” I didn’t know who the Queen of Sheba was, but if she was allowed to fill her bathtub with more than a few inches of water and bathe undisturbed I knew I wanted to be her!
On rare occasions, our father would get a stroke of conscience. He was unable to show us affection so his awkward attempt was to throw sour ball candy at the back of our heads when we weren’t expecting it. Maybe this was some sort of apology or possibly it was his way of extending some sort of olive-sour ball branch. I know our childhood sounded tough, and at times it was, but for all the pain there were positives that shaped us, and for that, we are grateful to our father.
Our father had such a strong sense of responsibility and we learned from him or perhaps mimicked him in several areas. We all have a tremendous work ethic. I don’t remember one day my father called in sick to work and my sister and I follow suit. We have learned the value of money. Nothing came for free in our house. Everything had to be earned, worked, and saved for. Our bizarre childhood also gave us a wonderful opportunity to create and sharpen our sense of humor.
Regardless of what type of father you may have had remember our Heavenly Father above who takes us in as His own. Psalm 27:10 says “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me”.
Now on to this amazing gluten free and grain free banana bread. It is so moist and delicious, I just know you will love it. Enjoy and happy Father’s Day to all of the wonderful dads out there!
3 very ripe bananas; ½ cup coconut flour; ½ cup almond flour, ½ cup tapioca flour; ½ tbs coconut milk; 1½ tbs greek yogurt; 1.5 tbsp melted organic butter; ¾ cup xylitol or monk fruit; 1 egg; 1 tsp vanilla; 1 tsp baking soda; a pinch of salt; and 1/4 cup Lily’s chips (sweetened with Stevia).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bananas and all wet ingredients in a food processor or use a hand mixer. In a medium size bowl mix all dry ingredients. Once Wet ingredients are blended well, pour and mix with dry ingredients.
Pour into the greased bread pan (I used a 7x 10 loaf pan) and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center is semi clean. You don’t want the knife to be completely clean. The bread will firm up as it cools. Enjoy!
Erin’s book can be found here -A Journey from Chronic Illness, Brokenness & Junk Food Junkie to Wholeness & Wellness. If you suffer from auto immune disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, candida, food allergies, acid reflux, depression, and more…this book is an eye-opener! This is not your grandmother’s cookbook. In Eat Pray Get Well, Erin invites you into her journey from a childhood filled with rejection and emotional abuse to chronic illness into her adult years. She shares how God used both of these debilitating tragedies to reveal His grace, healing, and blessings in unimaginable ways. Eat Pray Get Well is entertaining, inspiring, and most of all will help you gain the tools needed to help heal your body and soul. All recipes are free of gluten, wheat yeast, processed sugars, peanuts, and follow the Kaufmann diet.
To visit Erin or get more recipes and health tips go to www.eatpraygetwell.com