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On Tuesdays and Thursdays I get to stay home with my youngest daughter, Kenzie, while my wife goes to school.  Kenzie is a precious, crafty four year old who has already learned how to work the “system”.  To be honest, she’s probably too smart for me to parent as I think she has already figured out all of my tactics. On those days, I hear that phrase that is the title of this blog entry about 30 times a day minimum.  Sometimes it is followed by, “I need you to turn my movie on!”  Other times it’s, “Can I have a snack?”  Regardless of what follows it, the call for “dad” is used often.  Now as I have mentioned, Kenzie is a pretty smart cookie – inevitably after about 5 or 6 of those cries for something, she will holler for me again and it is apparent from my tone to her that my response of “What?” is not a pleasant one.  It’s at these times her response is simply, “I love you dad!”  I often chuckle under my breath and crack a smile, and yell back, “Love you too Kenzie!”  All is quiet for a few minutes… This is so commonplace in my home that the exchange doesn’t really affect me or stick with me much.  However, today as the exchange was going on I began to think on different terms.  You see, until today I have always assumed Kenzie’s “I love you dad” response was just her way of beating the system.  I have assumed upon hearing exasperation in my voice she changes her request to a statement of affection instead of another question, thereby defusing the moment.  Today was different – as she yelled her affectionate statement, I went into her room just to make some contact with her.  As I entered she jumped up from what she was doing and hugged me and said, “I really do love you dad!”  Then just as quick, it was back to what she was doing.  I need to add here that today Kenzie had twice gotten in trouble for putting toys in her mouth – something we have repeatedly told her not to do.   It had not been the best of days.  Her affectionate declaration to me today was not an attempt to beat the system…it was a reminder that in spite of not always listening and not always obeying, she really DID love me!  It was her personal reminder that she’s just 4 and working hard to do the right thing but in the meantime, she loves me, and as Peter wrote in 1st Peter 4, “love covers a multitude of sins”.  Her love for me is in response to my love for her…love that sometimes disciplines, love that sometimes curls up with her to watch a movie, love that at times seems exasperated.  Her response today was to remind me not to give up. To my Abba Father…I love you.  Don’t give up on me…

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