One recent morning while on vacation, I asked my 3½-year-old daughter what she dreamed about the night before.

“I dream about Jesus,” she said. I’ve asked the question before, and that’s what she always says.

“Really?” I replied. But then I asked another question: “What did Jesus look like?”

“He looked like Papa,” she said, then flounced off to go play with her cousins.

Since that’s the name we use for my husband, her answer was infinitely precious to me. I know that we’re told that God is our father, but I love that the most vibrant vision of Jesus my daughter has is literally her own father.

I’m thankful that my children have the benefit of an earthly father who loves them and is a part of their lives; I know that’s not always the case. My own dad is the kind of father who always believes the best for me, loves me unconditionally, and isn’t ashamed to tell me often. He’s the kind of dad who leaves to “go make popcorn” during the sappy parts of chick flicks so we won’t see him cry (although we all know he does), and who fast-forwards through the gratuitous sex and violence of action movies. As I’ve gotten older and become a parent myself, I can now appreciate his wisdom and strength as much as I once appreciated his ability to make my stuffed animals sing and dance and the way he could sound exactly like the gopher on Winnie the Pooh.

And when I think about it, and turn it around and reflect on it, I am filled with wonder. Yes, God is my father. And, thankfully, I have a good vision of what that looks like. But that means that the reverse is true, too – that I am his child.

As a mom, I love my children. Desperately. Wholeheartedly. It’s a lay-my-life-down-for-them kind of love. And that’s how God loves me and you: With that same sense of eternal wonder and yet the anguish of deep love and, most of all, a firm sense of belonging. Thank you, Lord.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1a