Lessons from a Father’s Day Card: Blott en Dag

Most of the blogs thus far have introduced the book, Fear and Wonder, to be published by Moody Publishers. Today my heart is both heavy with uncertainties and filled with anticipation. So please sit with me on the swing as an old, soon to be 74 year old, reminisces. That’s what old men do best.

I attempted to make a video blog but was not pleased with the quality. Perhaps it was looking at my gray head and a very noticeable crooked mouth.

First let me explain the opening words above: Blott en Dag. No, they are not a typo but the title of a wonderful hymn I was introduced to while a student at Moody Bible Institute in Miss Turner’s Introduction to Missions Class.

Blott en Dag are the Swedish words translated Day by Day, a song composed by Carolina Sandell Berg in 1865. The lyrics were influenced by the drowning death of her father, a Lutheran Pastor in Sweden as his daughter watched him die. Carolina composed many hymns and was compared to the American composer, Fanny Crosby.

In my research for the story behind Day by Day I discovered she had also written the words to “Children of the Heavenly Father.” That song was sung at my father’s memorial service three years ago. It was a tune Dad hummed over and over again. His grandchildren and great grandchildren remember Dad adding his own lyrics to the tune.

The focus of the video was the Father’s Day card Mary gave me. Usually greeting cards are just that to me- a quaint greeting. I read them but soon the lyrics on the card are forgotten along with the card in the recycling bin. But this Father’s Day card was different. So different that it still lies open on my desk to read and re-read. That’s what I wish to share with you on the swing today.

Mary chooses cards carefully searching for just the right words. She will underline a key word for phrase for emphasis. Every word in my Father’s Day card was underlined- two had been underlined three and even four times.

Before I share this special greeting card I want to emphasize how much deeper our relationship has grown after 52 years of sharing life together for better or worse. Fifty-two years sounds like a long time. It is! After 52 years, we share so many memories together.

A wise man once said the secret of a long and intimate marriage comes down to two choices: Choose to lower your expectations and to raise you commitment. Marriage doesn’t work well if it is all about being served and pleased. Rather it is choosing to value the other person and seek to bless them.

One more thing before sharing the lyrics on the card and in the song. Many of you know that I was severely injured in 1984 when scaffolding collapsed during construction of the new Powellhurst Baptist Church building in Portland. I was hospitalized six weeks, lying in a body cast with both legs and one arm in a cast. Mary was the first person I saw every morning for six weeks- often peeking her head in the door of my room before dawn. She was the last to leave after visiting hours. During five months recovering at home she served me day and night. Never a complaint though she was exhausted. Yes, it was what she had promised in our wedding vows, but she served unselfishly because she loved me.

Since August 1984 I have struggled as a result of the accident. Complications from the fall have accelerated in the past year with the result I am losing strength in my left leg due to spinal nerve damage. I need to pull myself upstairs with my arms, and I don’t like it. I don’t like reversing rolls with Mary so that she does things I used to be able to do.

Jim, a friend here in Bend, asked what I saw in the future. My response was “a wheelchair.” He asked how to pray for me. My response was that I would face the physical deterioration with gracefulness and gratefulness. That is not my default position. No, I prefer to complain. After all, I am a “the glass is half-empty-kind-of-guy.”

Oh yes, the card.

Forgive an old man for sharing about his aches and pains and memory loss. However, my intent was not to raise sympathy but to introduce a greeting card from the woman I have come to love more deeply than I ever dreamed possible. Here’s my Father’s Day card with every word underlined:

“My Husband My Love.You’re not only the one I love with all my heart,

you’re my closest friend as well, My partner in all things.

I have such faith in the love we share, and I know we can make the best of whatever life brings our way, as long as we’re together.

So blessed you’re in my life. Happy Father’s Day.

I love you!! Mary

As I read the card I caught the message behind each word. As we face an uncertain future we are stronger together. Mary underlined “whatever” three times. “Together” was underlined not three but four times.

Solomon nailed it, “Two are better than one… if one falls his friend can help him up.”

I realize you are busy, but please linger a moment while I share the first verse from a hymn that I find myself singing to myself frequently these day. (Yes, old men talk to themselves so why not sing?)

Day by Day

Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here;

Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.

He whose heart is kind beyond all measure gives unto each what He deems best-

Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.

Blott en Dag, by Carolina Sandell Berg, 1865- Public Domain

Here is a Website so you can also enjoy the lyrics and melody of Day by Day:

How much more do the last words of the third verse resonate in my heart today: “One by one the days, the moments fleeting, till I reach the promised land.”