Sunday mornings growing up, I would join the children of the congregation up at the front of the sanctuary for the children’s sermon. Sometimes my dad, as the pastor, would pull out one of his puppets and begin to tell us a Bible story with the help of Jojo, Red or Terp (his three puppets). My dad didn’t just use the puppets at church, he would also pull them out at home and tell terrible jokes with them, as my brothers and I tried not to laugh (we were too cool for that). This is all to say that my dad helped me fall in love with puppets, and one day I stumbled across Jeff Dunham, a ventriloquist, on YouTube and we began watching his shows together.
At the time, I probably wasn’t mature enough to understand all the humor, but I do know that every time my dad laughed, I laughed. And when I laughed, my dad laughed harder. As the years went on, we would often turn on Jeff Dunham shows and laugh together.
In my junior year of high school, we found out that Jeff Dunham was coming to the Bloomsburg Fair. I begged my dad for tickets, and after a while, he caved and bought two tickets for a special Daddy-Daughter date.
The fairgrounds arena, where the show was being held, is completely outside, and it was raining all day leading up to the show. Regardless, we were sure that the show would still go on. I slipped on my hot pink polka dot rain boots and my dad stepped into his 10-year-old LL Bean Wellies and off to the fair we went.
Our first stop at the fair was for a good old Central PA dinner: chicken and waffles (not southern fried chicken, but rather, savory chicken and gravy smothering a fluffy white waffle). Then we made our way to the grandstand for the show, but after about an hour of delays, it was officially canceled. It was unsafe to begin a show in the rain with the surplus of electrical equipment. Disappointed, we went home for the evening.
The next year, Jeff Dunham was returning to the fair and we bought tickets again. This time, a huge storm hit the area and flooded the fairgrounds in over 6 feet of water. It toppled houses, required the National Guard to provide disaster relief, and canceled schools for days. The fair was canceled, and with it, once again, Jeff Dunham’s show was canceled, too.
At that point, we gave up. After all, I was headed to college and with that came the end of Daddy-Daughter dates. But still, every year, during family dinners or holidays, the “Jeff Dunham” story would come up and we would just laugh at our terrible luck in trying to see one of his shows.
Fast forward 6 years, to this past December. Jeff Dunham was on a brand new tour across the country and I decided that it was time to try again. I wanted to rekindle the Daddy-Daughter dates. I found a show nearby and I took my dad for his birthday. Up until the minute Jeff Dunham walked on stage I was still feeling a little skeptical, “Was something going to get in the way again?”
But our luck finally came to fruition when Jeff Dunham showed up with Peanut and the rest of his crew! The show was good; we laughed and really enjoyed ourselves, but you know what? I didn’t enjoy the show nearly as much as I enjoyed the hour-long drive to and from the show venue with my dad, and the dinner we shared afterward.
Finally seeing the show after 6 years seemed like a miracle. But the experience of being there with my dad, and the appreciation I developed for quality time spent with him were the real miracles.
My relationship with my dad has only grown stronger as I’ve gotten older. Because just as I looked up to him when he played with puppets, I also look to him for guidance in my walk with Christ. What started out with a love for a ventriloquist, has turned into a love for God, and by following my dad’s example, I am continuously learning and growing.
In our walk with Christ, we are encouraged to lead by example, and I know in my life, my dad has been mine.
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7
Kiera Bohan (@kierabohan) is an accountant by day, a yogi, knitter, reader, and writer by night. She is a lover of Jesus, self-help books and quiet Saturday mornings. A consistent journaler since finishing college, Kiera began putting her thoughts into story form after joining the Writers Group at City Life Church. Read more from Kiera.