Yesterday something special occurred in my home:
my daughter received her acceptance letter and scholarship offer to Baylor.
This is an event that most families experience - a son or daughter is accepted to a university - but for me the impact hit deeper and harder than I thought. Eighteen years of love ran through my mind in a fraction of a second. My little girl, though still growing, has grown up. Its almost time for her to "fly the coup" as they say. I've been preparing myself for this moment for the last four years, but it hits like a ton of bricks. Although she is almost ready, I am not. I'm not ready for her to start kindergarten yet... I'm not ready for her to be in high school... I'm not ready for her to drive (though she is a good driver)... and I was definitely not ready for boyfriends! It seems like just yesterday that she was my little bundle of joy. I remember her birth; I remember holding her in my arms and naming her. I remember taking her back to our base housing at MCB Quantico in the snow. I do vaguely remember the infractions and punishments for disobedience and the like... but those things pale in comparison to the overwhelming joy and love I have for the gift to me that she is.
I know that her education will be costly - both for me and her - but I also realize that it is the final release for her from her birth family to what God has for her next - vocation, husband and her own family. I know that over the next few years she will make good and poor choices. I know that she will learn both the easy way and the hard way. I know that in some way I hope to spare her from the difficult life lessons, but I also realize that I cannot and should not. She needs them.
Overall, what strikes me today, this moment, is how much I love her and how much I have grown with her. I have not been able to provide all the material things for her in life, but I have given her a household of love in which to live and a family to sustain her. I have given her opportunities to see some of the world and to encounter God in her world. In all of this process, God has matured me. Through the joy and pain, love and disappointment - God has grown me.
I realize now, more than ever before, that "Children are a gift from the Lord." [Psalm 127:3] The eighteen years of love that He has given to me in her have changed my life forever.
Thank you Lord for my children.
Thank you for the gift and responsibility of love that came with them.
Help me to continue to be the father you ordained me to be for them.
Help me to treasure them always...
to encourage their person and gifts and
to help them to learn to live responsibly on this earth
as your child.
Thank you God
for eighteen years of love.