One of the most powerful relationships on the planet is a dad and his daughter, despite the cultural attempt to diminish a father's influence. Children are unfiltered sponges ... soaking in every word from their parents, coaches, teachers, and culture: positive or negative. The words and corresponding emotions sink into our subconscious and lay the framework for how we see the world and interact with it. How we see ourselves determines the way we navigate relationships, carve out our core values, and handle life’s challenges. My dad steadied me in an unsteady world. He wasn’t afraid to cry, say “I’m sorry,” or chortle with glee. Our bond was cultivated at the kitchen table and grew roots across a rotation of restaurant booths. My dad loved an audience, and his kids were his biggest fans … to the chagrin of my mom … who he loved to pester. He could take as good as he could give, and his paternal playfulness is alive and well today. My dad showed up: emotionally. Life was not always laughter and roses. My dad was a hard-working “shoe man” during the day and a basketball ref at night. The pressure to “pay the bills” could have turned my dad into an absent father. Not him. He cheered on the sideline at my flag football games, smiled through the awful concerts of a first-year cellist, and sweated through my sweltering softball tournaments. My dad’s presence built my trust in him and bolstered my self-confidence. In the movie, Jingle All the Way, Jamie scours the crowd wide-eyed; his face fades when he realizes his dad isn’t there. Howard Langston, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, breaks another promise and misses his son Jaime's purple belt karate ceremony. Broken promises chip away at trust and shifts the foundation under a kid’s feet, but something amazing happens when you scan the crowd and see the person who's there to see you. My dad showed up: physically. However, none of this would have happened had my dad not shown up on July 15, 1969. My father made a terrible mistake early in my parent's marriage that nearly destroyed our family. He returned home after months of separation. On a warm summer afternoon, shouts filled the house, and my dad left … headed to the bar. He rolled up to a stop sign, turned the opposite direction, and parked in front of a church. The locked door led him across the street to an open church, and he was directed to the pastor’s home. The pastor’s wife welcomed him. She listened to the story of a broken man … and led him to the Lord. He returned home, and my mom witnessed a change in his countenance. My parents attended a Billy Graham Crusade that night, and the course of our life was changed for eternity. My dad showed up: spiritually. “Dadship” done right has soul-altering power. Take the time to Show Up.

Crystal Van Kempen-McClanahan is the co-author of Mind Moxie: How to Help You Master What’s Mastering You. You can follow her on social media or visit her website at Crystal loves fitness, the perks of being married to a chef, and traveling. Her mission is to inspire people to lead an awesome life.

My biological father, Edwin, grew up in Nicaragua. His father was the type of man who had many children with many women, which meant he didn’t have his father to teach him valuable lessons such as marital love and commitment. When he became a teenager the Iran-Contra war began in Nicaragua. Edwin was 13 years old when he was shipped off to the military, pumped full of drugs, and forced to fight every night. He has been through much trauma in his early life, which has lead raging PTSD. When met my mother she was her early twenties. This was before she became a Christian. They had me and my sister, but their marriage quickly fell apart due to his perception of marriage and ways of handling conflicts. He began using drugs again, heavy drugs, and he started sleeping with other women. When they fought, he would be verbally abusive and threaten to take me away from her. Then he would leave—slamming the door behind him and we wouldn’t see him for a few days. My mom made the tough decision that to keep my sister and me safe, they had to get a divorce. When I was six years old my mom decided she wanted to give marriage another try. She met Steen who had been married before as well. His wife left him and their two children, so at the time he was a single father. Three months after the two met, they got married! I really liked Steen, but I was so scared that if I began to love him, it meant I didn’t love Edwin anymore. I would do naughty things, just to test if he would leave. In my experience, fathers left and slammed the door behind them, and I was waiting for him to do the same thing. He never did. He cared for me, laughed with me, prayed with me, love me, but he never left. When was finally convinced, as an eight-year-old, that he wouldn't leave, I decided to ask him permission to call him "dad." He cried. He was so happy and humbled. He wanted me to know that he always considered me his daughter. As a matter of fact, he wrote us into his Will the week before they got married. As an adult, I asked him why he never adopted me. He told me he wanted to, but after asking others for advice, they suggested he shouldn’t ask me about it, but wait until I asked for it myself. He didn’t want me to feel as if he was forcing me to choose him. As he said: "Your mom chose to marry me, but the choice to let me be your dad, was your's to make." A couple years ago I was studying the book of Romans. Romans 8:14-17: "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." - ESV It became clear to me what God had done in my life through Steen. I knew EXACTLY what it meant to go from "fearful" to being “adopted” with the full benefit of the inheritance. Moreover, what it meant to not be forced, but have the relationship be my own choice to make. Finally, I recognized that I had always been adopted by my dad—just not on paper. Praise God! HE truly is a redemptive Father. I want to encourage any step-father looking for reassurance. I know, it is not always easy. I would test Steen’s commitment to me all the time. He passed the tests, but he did get angry sometimes, which is fair. Regardless, the point is he never left when it got hard. Oh! And he would hate it if I didn’t mention that he did an Ironman. Thank you for reading. I have been wanting to write our story for some time. May God bless you and give you hope and guidance.

Teresa Miller grew up in Denmark, has a degree in Communications, was a missionary with Youth With A Mission for over 10 years, and plays Roller Derby. She co-blogs with her husband, Jeff, about Communication, Relationships, and a Christian Lifestyle.

In January 2016 I was deployed to Kuwait with the United States Air Force Reserve. This was one of the most challenging times of my life. I was so far from my family and friends. I also was unsuccessful at finding a job in the United States. I worked the night shift while I was deployed which meant I worked during the day in the United States. Kuwait City was seven hours ahead of Michigan so every night my dad would stay up late to Facetime with me. Around the last month of my deployment a lot of the individuals that I worked with were so excited that our deployment was coming to an end. Air Force members that were enrolled in college were going to resume their college education, husbands were excited to reunite with their wives, and some members were looking forward to seeing their children. I was happy to leave but I felt I had nothing to go back to. I didn’t have pets, children, or a girlfriend to come back to. Before I left, I moved out of my apartment and put all my belongings in storage. I didn’t even have a home to go back to. I was applying to jobs but they all fell through. That day I remember Facetiming my dad and he asked how I was doing. I remember pausing because I felt so frustrated. I began crying because everyone that was deployed was going back to their lives. Individuals were going back to their homes, wives, children, sororities, and husbands. At the time I felt afraid because I didn’t know what was going to happen after my deployment. I felt like I wasn’t going back to anything. I didn’t have my own place to live at and the job that I had, I didn’t want to go back to. I cried to my father. My dad listened and encouraged me. He reminded me how far I’ve come since I’ve been independent. He told me that I would be okay. My father reminded me how the Lord had been ordering my steps throughout my life. My dad really encouraged me that day. Looking back on that conversation, it reminded me how the Lord used my dad to encourage me during challenging times in my life. The challenges became harder as I got older. Some challenges my dad encouraged me with: 1. Not receiving awards- When I was in elementary school, I remember being upset that I didn’t receive any awards at school. I was angry that the same students would get all the awards and I didn’t receive anything. My dad told me that I would soon be recognized and eventually I would get so many awards that they wouldn’t mean anything. His words came true. Last year I was voted Employee of the Month at my job and I wasn’t really ecstatic about winning. 2. Understanding situations- I was 13 years old and an individual yelled at me. I was so angry because I didn’t understand why they yelled at me for such a small offense. My father knew the person’s situation well. He told me that men have to be in charge somewhere, especially if they aren’t in charge in their home. Understanding that situation gave me a peace that eliminated my anger. 3. Receiving what God has for me- I was in college and I joined a business that promoted being financially free. It was a business that I would have to recruit multiple people to sign up for the business. I joined the business because I wanted to have money work for me and to live a better quality of life. My dad didn’t agree to support me in this business venture. I became frustrated and angry because I really wanted to earn money that could benefit me and eventually the family I wanted. My father told me that if God wants you to have that type of money, he will make a way for you to have it. He told me going through this business is not the way. My dad was right. My mentors in the business eventually quit. My dad is a great mentor, teacher, and man. I thank God that he has been there every step of my life, to encourage and support me. Thanks to the greatest dad, Ralph Douglas.

Chaz Douglas was a member of the United States Air Force Reserve. He graduate from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelors in Education and from Central Michigan University with a Masters in Educational Leadership. He is the author of the devotional series Walking Daily with the Lord.