It Won’t Be Long

A really good reminder (at least for me anyway) from Steve Martin’s character in Father of the Bride on how fast our daughters grow up and the things we worry about as their dads:

I used to think a wedding was a simple affair. Boy and girl meet, they fall in love, he buys a ring, she buys a dress, they say I do. I was wrong. That’s getting married. A wedding is an entirely different proposition. I know. I’ve just been through one. Not my own, my daughter’s. Annie Banks Mackenzie. That’s her married name: Mackenzie. You fathers will understand. You have a little girl. An adorable little girl who looks up to you and adores you in a way you could never have imagined. I remember how her little hand used to fit inside mine. Then comes the day when she wants to get her ears pierced, and wants you to drop her off a block before the movie theater. From that moment on you’re in a constant panic. You worry about her meeting the wrong kind of guy, the kind of guy who only wants one thing, and you know exactly what that one thing is, because it’s the same thing you wanted when you were their age. Then, you stop worrying about her meeting the wrong guy, and you worry about her meeting the right guy. That’s the greatest fear of all, because, then you lose her. It was just six months ago that that happened here. Just six months ago, that the storm broke.

And it’s definitely better to read this next one when your daughter’s nine and a half months old:

Who presents this woman? This woman? But she’s not a woman. She’s just a kid. And she’s leaving us. I realized at that moment that I was never going to come home again and see Annie at the top of the stairs. Never going to see her again at our breakfast table in her nightgown and socks. I suddenly realized what was happening. Annie was all grown up and was leaving us, and something inside began to hurt.

This day will come for me, no doubt, but thankfully I still have quite a few years before an experience like this creeps up on me.

I wonder what other moments elicit similar feelings the life of a dad?

This Also Took Guts

I’m coming out of church last night. I’ve got Isabella on one arm and a diaper bag in the other.

A black Ford Explorer pulls up.

The old man driving it stops behind my car and rolls his window down.

“Sir, can you help me?”

I look at my daughter and then down at the diaper bag on my arm.

I should be asking him for help.

“Sure. Just a sec.”

I hand the kid off to her mother and make my way over to the passenger side of his car and our dialogue begins.

“I was laid off earlier this summer and I’ve lost everything. All I’ve got left is this car and I’m trying to get…”

I stopped listening when I looked down and saw a twenty dollar bill and a couple of ones sitting on his passenger seat.

Snapped back to reality by his question.

“…so do you think you could help me out with some gas money?”

“What about that money there in your passenger seat?” I ask.

“It’s not mine.”

“OK.”

Silence.

“Well do you think you could spare some gas money for me?”

I respond, “I don’t really carry cash and if I did, I’m not really in the habit of just giving it out to people I don’t know. I’ll tell you what though, if you’ll follow me to the 7-11 at the corner of May and Wilshire (about a mile and a half from our church building and on my way home), I’ll put gas in your car.”

More silence.

He asks, “Does their gas have Ethanol in it?”

“Uh… I’m not sure. Why?”

“Well I don’t put gas with Ethanol in it in my car. It’s not good for the engine. It’s like filling up with poison.” he tells me.

“Yeah… I hear that’s bad. I’m not sure if their gas has Ethanol in it or not.”

“Do you think you could just give me some cash so I can go somewhere they use 100% gas?”

Once again, silence.

I look him up and down, try to make eye contact (no luck), and wonder to myself how this is going to play out. Dumbfounded and a little bit taken aback by the audacity and boldness of his request, I finally respond.

“I’m actually headed to the 7-11 at Wilshire and May right now to put gas in my car. If you want to follow me there, I’ll put some in your car too. Otherwise, I can’t really help you.”

Another awkward silence.

“Hmmm… OK. Well… thanks anyway.”

He rolls up the window and drives off.

I get in my car, drive to the 7-11 where I proceed to start filling my trusty rubber-footed steed with 87 octane, all natural, from the goodness of the earth, corn enriched gasoline poison… $52 worth to be exact. I would have put just as much in his car too if he’d taken me up on my offer.

And so I’m left with two questions.

First, what is the world coming to when someone who’s hard up on their luck won’t accept my charity because it’s tainted with ethanol?

And second, why is the guy who just got laid off putting better petroleum products in his car than I am? What does that say about me and my pride of ownership?

Let’s just say that if the old rubber-footed steed knew what I was pumping into him, he would not be impressed.

This took guts…

Soldiers, Drinks, and My Messy Thank You

but oh man… it was totally worth it. I need to A) start loving people like this and B) be more open to following the promptings of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Is there someone or a group of someones you know who would say that they feel forgotten? What can you do to show them some lovin’? How can you help them feel remembered?

Five Rules for Dads Raising Daughters

I’ve been reading a lot of books and blogs lately on fatherhood and raising girls. From what I’ve read, there seems to be at least five common threads (probably more) running through most of the stuff that really speaks to me. Maybe they’re not really rules. Maybe they’re more like tips… tips, hints, suggestions, guidelines, or something like that. Whatever you call them, in no particular order, here are five:

1. Love her mom. Treat her mother with respect, honor, and a big heaping spoonful of public displays of affection. When she grows up, the odds are good she’ll fall in love with and marry someone who treats her much like you treated her mother. Good or bad, that’s just the way it is. I’d prefer good.

2. Always be there. Quality time doesn’t happen without quantity time. Hang out together for no other reason than just to be in each other’s presence. Be genuinely interested in the things that interest her. She needs her dad to be involved in her life at every stage. Don’t just sit idly by while she add years to her life… add life to her years.

3. Save the day. She’ll grow up looking for a hero. It might as well be you. She’ll need you to come through for her over and over again throughout her life. Rise to the occasion. Red cape and blue tights optional.

4. Savor every moment you have together. Today she’s crawling around the house in diapers, tomorrow you’re handing her the keys to the car, and before you know it, you’re walking her down the aisle. Some day soon, hanging out with her old man won’t be the bees knees anymore. Life happens pretty fast. You better cherish it while you can.

5. Pray for her. Regularly. Passionately. Continually. Let her know she’s got another daddy in Heaven who loves her even more than you do. She may not believe you today, but she’ll need that assurance someday when you’re not around.

Alright dads and daughters who’ve been one or the other longer than me and mine, what have I forgotten? This list is by no means (nor was it meant to be) comprehensive. Anything else you’d add?

Gratitude List: July 4, 2011

1. Running around in my front yard while it was raining on Sunday night.
2. The momentary drop in the triple digit Oklahoma heat that accompanied the Sunday evening rain.
3. Swimming on Sunday afternoon at Annaleise’s uncle’s house.
4. Sunday afternoon naps.
5. Freedom.
6. The sound of people shooting off fireworks in our neighborhood after dark.
7. Feeding Isabella.
8. I did not mow my grass during the month of June.
9. Making crazy concoctions from watermelon.
10. God’s love.
11. That I was not born into any kind of precarious life-threatening situation.
12. That my daughter was not born into any kind of precarious life-threatening situation.
13. A body that can still move and a mind that can still think.
14. 4th of July celebrations with various friends and family members.
15. Isabella sleeping all the way through the night last night.
16. The smell of fireworks.
17. The smell of freshly cut grass.
18. The smell of rain.
19. The smell of a BBQ.
20. The smell of cupcakes cooking in the oven.
21. The smell of sunscreen.
22. The smell of chlorine.
23. Air conditioning in my car and air conditioning in my house.
24. Ceiling fans.
25. Less than 60 days until the first OU football game.
26. Free and convenient recycling program in my neighborhood.
27. The best rib-eye steak I’ve ever tasted at the Catfish Cabin.

28. Hearing God’s voice through books, friends, scripture, and in those still quiet moments when I actually clear my head and listen for it.
29. Isabella’s flag waving skills.

Gratitude List: Catchup Edition

It’s been a pretty busy week with not a lot of spare time for posting, but I have been keeping a running list of things I’m grateful for. In no particular order, here’s my list from the last 7 days or so.

1. God filling me with a sense of wonder
2. Waving at Isabella and having her wave back
3. Star Spangled Fried Chicken dinner at church
4. A high electric bill for June that reminds me how blessed I am to have electricity, a home, and air conditioning
5. AM’s commitment to keep our family eating healthy
6. A couple of really encouraging emails this week
7. Great feedback on a project at work that I’m leading
8. 3 and a 1/2 day weekends
9. A renewed sense of purpose
10. Planning several exciting fundraising projects from now until next spring
11. Three different lunch conversations this week with three different friends
12. No aliens coming to destroy our planet over the holiday weekend
13. Reliable cars to drive
14. Waking up to morning rain storms a couple days this week
15. Staying up late and sucking the marrow out of life
16. People who are willing to forward on resumes I send them… someone else’s, not mine
17. Freezing leftover watermelon in ice cube trays
18. Watermelon smoothies made from watermelon ice cubes, almond milk, and Greek yogurt
19. Dinner at the Isenberg’s house
20. Getting a call during dinner from the alarm company that turned out to be a false alarm
21. The Village Police Department
22. Sweet corn
23. Two weeks until my parents are stateside again
24. Two weeks until our second beach vacation of the year
25. AM’s booming Monday afternoon marriage and family therapy business
26. Good music that speaks to my soul
27. Free Southwest Rapid Rewards plane tickets
28. Sunscreen
29. Cookouts with friends
30. The smell of hot asphalt in the parking lot at work that reminds me of being at Six Flags and Frontier City as a kid
31. Good books
32. The seamstress who mended a tear near the pocket of my favorite pair of shorts
33. Watching Isabella crawling and scooting all over our house as she follows us around
34. Getting things done
35. Car trips with AM and Izzy
36. Babies who throw their cake on the floor at their first birthday instead of eating it
37. GPS
38. Dancing with Isabella for 30 minutes before bedtime while listening to our daddy daughter playlist
39. Naps
40. Being too busy fathering to do much blogging this week
41. The sound of locusts on a hot Oklahoma summer night
42. Watching Iz play on the floor
43. And so much more…