Random thoughts on Life, Leadership, & Messy Spirituality

Can Someone Please Slow Down This Ride?

Normally I use this blog to post about leadership, ministry/church related issues, local & global mission work, etc. However, today this post is very personal.

I woke up this morning wondering – “Where in the heck did the last 13 years go???” 13 years ago I stood in a hospital holding my newborn baby girl, and there was no man-tears about it, I cried like a baby at the sight of the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on. (Umm – sorry my beautiful wife – I mean next to you of course) It was truly a life-changing experience – to hold this fragile new life in my hands & realize that God had just given me one the most precious gifts in all of life.

And I was gone! Completely, utterly, head over heals in love with my little girl. I remember the first word she ever uttered – “da-da”. I remember her first wobbly steps across the living room floor. I remember her first day of school & teaching her to ride a bike. I remember putting her on a school bus for the first time & tearing up as my baby rode off. (I also remember thinking that if anything happened to my baby, I would dismember the bus driver) I remember daddy/daughter dances. I remember times she was scared & she’d take off running to daddy. She knew her daddy would protect her.

My wife, Gina, used to say that just couldn’t believe how such a little girl could have such a big man wrapped around her little finger. I am guilty as charged!

I remember playing Pretty, Pretty, Princess & my little girl putting necklaces, earrings, & make-up on me. I remember taking her to Disney World for her 5th birthday while she was in full-blown princess mode. It cost a small fortune, but that didn’t matter because this was for my little princess.

I remember her first soccer practice & how nervous she was about playing with other kids who had played longer than she had. She was afraid she wouldn’t be good enough & that they might laugh at her. I remember kneeling down, giving her a reassuring hug, & then looking in her eyes & telling her that she could do anything she set her mind to – that she was more than good enough – & to go kick some butt! And with that she was off!

I remember coaching her soccer team for a few years & the rides to & from practices where we would talk about everything – life, school, her fears, God & even lots of girl/hormonal/development stuff that I REALLY wish she would have talked to her mom about. And while it was extremely awkward to talk about these things with my little girl, I tried to never let her see it.  Because I was also thanking God that our relationship was such that she felt comfortable talking to me about this stuff.

I could go on & on & on & on… but I think you catch the drift here. Well, on Sunday my little princess turns… (not sure I can actually type this)… she turns 13!!! Ummm, excuse me, but where exactly did my 5 year old little girl go?  13 years cannot possibly have gone by already! And besides mourning a childhood that is passing by —- I’m not so sure I’m ready to let her be a teenager. Really? Not yet! Not so soon! Come on God! Can’t we slow this ride down and give me a few more years?

Tonight we’re having a big party with 20-something of her friends & honestly, I’m not sure I’m ready for this. I sit with a lump in my throat & my eyes watering as I write this. (Must be my allergies!)

But let me tell you – she is one amazing young lady! God truly reached down & touched this girl — Gina & I cannot take much credit for how incredible she has turned out so far. She loves Jesus, church, ministry, & missions. She’s got straight A’s in school & is a pretty darn good soccer player. And she could be a role model for most adults when it comes to maturity, compassion, & heart for God & ministry.

I’ll also tell you that I am SO grateful for some mentors God placed in my life years ago who challenged me to find a healthy balance between ministry/career & family. (My hot-blooded Italian wife also helps keep me in check!). I’ve been criticized that I am not more “available” to people. (ie. Tues & Thurs evenings & part of Saturday are soccer time with my Bri-Girl; I don’t answer my phone at dinner time or when I’m spending time with my family; etc.) I’ve been told that our church could be much “bigger” (ministry speak for a successful church).

But here’s the reality, & this applies to any of our careers —- we’ve got lots of years & lots of opportunities to build our churches, companies, careers, etc. But please don’t miss this – we only have a very small window & one shot with our kids!!! So, I’ll take the flak & criticism – but I WILL NOT blow my one shot with my kids!

So, Happy Birthday to my beautiful, amazing, smart, & talented daughter Brianna! You Rock! You are truly a gift from God & I am so incredibly proud of you!

Oh yeah – God, any chance on that slowing the ride down thing?

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One response

  1. Robin

    Oh Howard, as I read your blog I cried too. Happy birthday Brianna… All the best to u always….

    November 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm

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