Focus on my father…

Photos of my dad walking me down the aisle and enjoying time with his namesake; a hand print from 3-year-old Adam John were his contribution to the book we created for my father.
Photos of my dad walking me down the aisle and enjoying time with his namesake; a hand print from 3-year-old Adam John were his contribution to the book we created for my father.

My husband made it a practice of naming his children only after he saw them face to face, and so we had no list of potential girl or boy names stockpiled. When you have four children weighing in on the decision as well, it isn’t a quick one, and, therefore, when I left the hospital with my newborn son, his birth certificate simply read “No Name Dagen.” All I knew was that I wanted to honor my father, John Edward Souders, by using some part of his name; I thought we could also honor my father-in-love Thomas Thrower Mayo by using part of his name. Would Thomas Edward Dagen, nickname Ted, be a perfect name? No. My husband, avidly collecting guns at the time, said “Gunther, and we call him ‘Gun’ for short.” He remained nameless until my second oldest, Benjamin Adam, said we should use his middle name. And “Adam John” replaced “No Name” on the birth certificate. (Although, at age 17, Adam says having the name ‘Gun’ would have been cool…)

Last weekend while cleaning out my mom’s house, I was reunited with books my siblings and their children and I had produced in honor of my parents. We titled my mom’s Praising a Woman of Excellence and my dad’s Focus on the Father. My father’s children and grandchildren contributed something to the book, memoirs,  crayon drawings, and hand prints. As we went through ages of compiled boxes and belongings, I desperately sought for these books we produced in 1999. My brother’s friend discovered them, and I was so happy to discover these memories of my son’s early life captured within this tribute to my father:


This morning Adam John, my father’s namesake, was in a 3-year-old panic. Well, a panic OF a 3-year-old, not a panic that had lasted three years! He was afraid that a bird had come in the chimney and was flying around the family room. (This has happened before, but it wasn’t happening at this precise moment.) When I picked the little crier up, he wrapped his little legs and arms around me tightly, and I knew how afraid, however unjustly, he was.

My first inclination was to say, “Adam, say ‘I rebuke you Satan in the name of Jesus. I do not have to be afraid. Jesus is my protector.’ ” The little boy willingly repeated my words, one sentence at a time, but he looked doubtful.

My second inclination was to sing:

In the name of Jesus,

In the name of Jesus,

We have the victory.

In the name of Jesus,

In the name of Jesus,

Satan will have to flee.

Who can tell what God can do?

Who can tell what He’s done for you?

In the name of Jesus, Jesus,

We have the victory.

Now I don’t know how much that helped my sweet Adam John, because he said, “Stop it!” when I started another round of the song, and I don’t think he was talking to any demons! But it helped remind me of my heavenly Father’s care for me — and it reminded me of my precious earthly father, too.

I find it funny how a song comes to mind when I think of you, Dad. Yes, funny, silly songs such as “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.” But also praise songs and ones like “I rebuke you, Satan …” that you made up to help one of us through a crisis. I still sing it!

When Adam gets out of the bathtub, we have a tradition of singing “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; there’s just something about that name …” He starts singing them himself when I forget! And my mind always goes to you, Dad. I remember the times we sang our way to church, riding on empty — and always arriving against all odds! You taught me that singing wasn’t a magical button that let us drive and arrive on gas fumes, but rather an expression of faith and our desire to please God.

You have put a continual song in my heart — when I’m happy, songs reflect the state of my soul. When I’m sad, songs of praise help me turn toward my heavenly Father and find true joy.

I love you, Dad. You are, of course, more than a song to me! You have taught me how to work hard, how to laugh, how to be friendly (You should see me talking to the check-out clerks — just like you!), and even how to cry. I love that the same things can make us both cry.

My heart always remembers boarding a plane to leave for Cottey College — and my dear Dad wiping tears from his face, and handing me his handkerchief so I could wipe my own eyes. I still cling to one of them — just because it belongs to you.

I love your sense of humor, your zest for life, your way of laughing through an argument (though it drives Mom crazy!). But most of all, I love your heart — and the song it has shared with me.


(My dad and his namesake shared a close bond. The two were inseparable when we were visiting. When my dad’s health was failing, Adam John was my weekend sidekick, driving to Sarasota to visit and help as we could. When my father died December 6, 2005, Adam John and I were at his side.)

4 responses to “Focus on my father…”

  1. Mother in Love Avatar
    Mother in Love

    Such a good post commending your Dad and all the joy he brought to your life. And know Adam John is bringing you the same joy and laughter. Loving you always…..B.J.


    1. sarahas5 Avatar

      Thank you, my dear mother-in-love! Loving you right back!


  2. My baby turns 21 today – All things work together Avatar

    […] Gunther, “Gun” for short; I wanted to call him Thomas Edward Dagen, in honor of my dad, John Edward, and my father-in-love, Tom. I figured we could call him “TED” for short… Imagine […]


  3. ‘Cloud of Witnesses’ Isn’t Pie in the Sky; It’s Real and It’s Now – All Things Work Together Avatar

    […] own loved ones of faith who have left this life — my husband Bill, my grandmother, my mother and father, my father-in-love, my sister, my brother — in heaven, witnessing my life from their vantage […]


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