29 May 2007

A Day With My Daughter

I felt badly about going away on my daughter Oly'anna's birthday, but I needed to drive my oldest daughter, DoRena, back to Bloomington after lunch. It was worth it, in order to have had her home for the big weekend at our house. But my poor wife had to say goodbye to everyone today, including me; so I hope that she was able to commiserate with friends in South Bend this afternoon, and was not left feeling too lonely. I think that it was a good birthday for Oly'anna, and a fitting conclusion to her grand and glorious weekend.

For my part, I am giving thanks at this late hour for the blessed day that I got to spend with my biggest girl, my "Beanie." Our times together are getting fewer and further between, as she continues to grow up into adulthood, and that makes each time we do have the more precious to me. There is something about the firstborn child that is never outgrown. I first learned how to be a father with DoRena, mostly by trial and error. I'm grateful that she has turned out so well (thanks be to God!), and that she has not held my mistakes along the way against me.

Anyway, it was a wonderful afternoon and evening that we got to spend, first of all traveling from South Bend to Bloomington, then going out for supper and hanging out together for most of the evening. I love the opportunities that I still have to serve and take care of my daughter. I like taking her out to eat, not only because I enjoy that chance for pleasant conversation, but also because I can show her by example how a gentleman ought to treat a lady. (On that note, I need to mention how pleased her Mom and I are that DoRena has found a real gentleman who cares for her and treats her well.) Well, our dinner conversation this evening was not only pleasant, but a significant and meaningful discussion of her present pursuits and future plans. How does a Daddy put into words, just how much this means!

I've written recently of my Zachary, and how proud I am of him. I am likewise proud of my daughter, DoRena. She is disciplined and determined and a real go-getter. She is intelligent and hard working, conscientious and considerate. She is doing well in school, learning her subjects and getting good grades. Her goals are shaped by a sound theological view of the world and of her place in it. Her hopes and aspirations are in accordance with the Word of God. As I listen to her think out loud about the future, I hear her speak from the same values and commitments that my wife and I have endeavored to live by. In all of this, my prayers for my daughter have been answered. So I sat there at supper time, listening and talking and swelling with pride and joy over this beautiful young woman who is my daughter.

I also got to buy her a set of bookshelves for her new apartment, and was even able to assemble them for her this evening. My wife knows how much I dislike assembling pieces of furniture, so she may attest to the fact that such was truly a labor of love. I was happy to do it for my Bean! Then I took her out to see a movie, Shrek the IIIrd, and that was fun. I doubt that it will win an Oscar, but there were lots of funny parts, and Shrek spent most of the movie anticipating the birth of his first children. Animated films are not generally profound, and I won't claim that Shrek the IIIrd is, either, but I appreciated the angst that Shrek felt over the prospect of becoming a father. He worried that he wouldn't know what to do, and that he wouldn't be very good at it. I know those feelings, too, and I can look back and see that I haven't always done so well.

DoRena and Zachary both did most of their growing up while I was a student: college, seminary, grad school. I was gone much of the time, studying and working, and then writing my dissertation. I'm sure they must have felt that lots of other things were more important to me than my children. My priorities have not always been in order, at least not in the way that I've actually invested and used my time and energy. I still need to work on that. But there's never been anything on earth that has actually been more precious and important to me than my children. On those dark and dreary days when I am feeling down and discouraged, and I am tempted to question the point and purpose to it all, it is most often my children whom the Lord uses to pull me out of my pity-party and to refocus my perspective on the proper priorities.

Today, in particular, was a very good day, one of those days in which everything makes sense. Not every day is like that, but I really rejoice in those that are. I spent some time remembering the past and those who have gone before us, but I am grateful that I got to spend this Memorial Day living in the present and making some special new memories with my firstborn daughter.

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