A Ring and An Eskimo Kiss

Jul 18

Jen used to wear a plain silver ring that simply said, “Free.”  She wore it because it reminded her of who she was and her eternal promise.  God had also given her the ‘name’ of “Free” years ago in a time of deep prayer and reflection.  It pointed to truth.  It was centering.

Ironically enough, the girls and I found the ring while rummaging through the swagger wagon in prep for a road trip to see my parents in Wisconsin.  To find the “Free” ring was ironic in both timing and meaning as this road trip marked the end of a very challenging couple of months.

It can be like a shadow – subtle,  sneaky, enveloping.  It is also like a thief – impervious, callous, embezzling, stripping.  It’s name is Distraction and it was an unwelcome and disruptive guest in our home.  External demands on our lives are not uncommon.  Often those demands appear to me as unavoidable, compulsory or begrudgingly alluring.  In this season, I fell victim to a rather demanding Distraction by making choices that honored my pride of performance at the expense of family, peace and joy.  For many years I’ve explained such periods as simply ‘peak seasons’ that shall pass – but at what cost?  Is it reasonable to leave the girls effectively parentless?  What is the impact on my daughters to see me at home, but only through a windowed office door and without knowledge of when or if we would actually talk or have time together?

One night I was interrupted in my home office by Greta (age 9).  She didn’t say a word, but carried a dinner tray and plate with a homemade cheese quesadilla, a cup of apple sauce and carrot sticks.  I had no idea what time it was.  Apparently it was nearly 9:00 at night.  In my absence, she took it upon herself to make dinner for the whole family.  She was filled with grace, dressed with a smile, and simply said she wanted to help.

<long pause>

Stunned. Pierced. Shaken. Loved. Just as I am crying now typing this, there were an awful lot of thoughts and emotions packed into her gesture and that moment.  I was so, so proud of her.  What a light shining from within her!  We had big hugs.  I was struck by, “Wow, I get to be this girl’s father!”  But, then the tremendous shame…  Is this really how I’ve become?

One primary, resonant feeling of these last many months is that life is short.  There are no guarantees of experience.  Rather, we have the promise of freedom and eternal life in Jesus and the freedom to make choices of how and who we love.

Seeing Jen’s ring inscribed with “Free,” therefore, made me ponder freedom.  No doubt, freedom entails the release from condemnation and the release from being bound by sin that so easily distracts and entangles.  Still, I personally often conjure a picture of freedom as an individual person running away toward some better ‘other.’  Greta’s gesture that night served me with a call toward freedom, but not a call toward individualism.  I’m learning that freedom entails holy dependence.  Dependence on God; mutual dependence with those that we love.  I’m unsure of what lies ahead, but I pray that I will have the courage to make consistent choices to intentionally love and invest in healthy dependence.

Later the same night that Greta made us dinner, I sat on her bed to tuck her in to sleep.  As I also sat there considering my shame, I saw that Greta still needed me and I needed her.  She had not judged me, but rather showed me that we were still a team.  We didn’t have to say those words, but rather affirmed it with a smile and a slow and gentle Eskimo kiss.


“A good day is a gift you give yourself – and it’s hard work.”  – Momma




  1. Susan /

    That brought me to tears. Beautiful and honest. God bless all of you.

    • Bonnie B /

      Beautifully expressed and answered Prayer… I’ve had the three of you on my heart a lot over the past weeks.🙏.. The Lord’s Love and Care for all of you Never ceases but gently holds you tight. Your futures are cemented in HIS Love…

  2. Marlayne Skeens /

    WOW & Hugs ~ What a Blessing Lesson 🙂

  3. Denise S. /

    Your girls have so much of Jen and you in them. What a treasure. “There is therefore now no condemnation . . . ” Blessings to you and to them.

  4. Sherry Stoffer /

    So beautiful! Your girls are so lucky to have such a loving Dad! May God bless you all!!!!

  5. Kathi Roth /

    Grace and forgiveness is a gift to “freely” give yourself. Touching story. So glad you take the time to share with us. I’ve been getting ready for my youngest child’s High school graduation party. As I was wiping down the frig and looking at the many photos on it I came to Jen’s beautiful smile. I thanked God for her Friendship and wise words to me. Said a prayer for you and the girls. Hugs to you all.

    • Emily /

      Ahh…beautiful writing Brad. Thanks for sharing that inner light that Greta let pour out. I feel you on wondering how much to leave big kids on their own here at home. I wrestle with that as well. Sounds like you’re learning a lot and staying humble and loving. Way to go. Love to you all.

  6. Love to you and the girls. And glad year end is over. Blessings-

  7. Cindy Mitchell /

    Brad what a beautiful piece of writing.. Greta is so mature for her age.. Jen is watching over all of you and is very proud of the way all three of you are doing.. Prayers for comfort..

  8. Rick Stevens /

    This was timely for me Brad. After spending a good chunk of this Saturday behind a laptop and ignoring my kids, this was just the reminder I needed. Work can wait… these kids are growing up fast. Logging off!

  9. Lisa Smith /

    You are an incredible father and thank you again for including us all in your journey. It seems reasonable to me that you would want to be productive as you move through and around all the different stages of grief and your new normal in this global time of WEIRD. I always hesitate to comment because what could any of us possibly say in response to your profound vulnerability and generosity in sharing your process with us… What a gift you and your girls are to each other. From all of us following, thank you. Sending love.

  10. Your words are a gift tonight. Sometimes I think half of being a good parent is awareness — we can’t always be present, but we can always be aware.

  11. Kristina Hudson /

    Thank you Brad for continuing to share.

  12. Becky & Matt /

    You make Jen & your Heavenly Father so proud. ♥️

  13. Conni Carlson /

    Hugs and love 💕

  14. Fredda /

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart, your writing is a gift to us all.