I do not believe our purpose on Earth is to make mortgage payments.
Our gifts from God are not cars, vacations or the ability to “hustle.”
We all serve something greater than this and are rewarded with something more.
TONIGHT I LISTENED as my 12-year-old daughter sang loudly in the shower. I am no expert on vocal contributions, but it’s unlikely she will be heard on the radio anytime soon. Still, it was glorious to me.
She is happy.
She washed her sheets earlier in the day and ran them in the dryer, where they remained, cool. I turned it on high temperature for a few minutes and hurried to put them on her bed before she got out. I took her top covers and put them in the warm machine while I did this, so her bed would be warm when she laid in it 15 minutes later. I did not have to do this; she’s been doing her own laundry for a while now. She’s been making her bed for years.
“Oh, thank you,” she said when she saw me tucking the sheet under her mattress and I told her about the warm top covers coming next. “That’s so nice of you.”
A few years ago, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal to me. I did everything for her because I loved her and felt like it was my job (which it was). But when she turned 10, slowly but surely her stepmother and I started funneling more responsibility to her.
Making her own lunch for school.
Preparing the next day’s outfit (with guidance).
Keeping her room clean. Like, actually clean – not just going through the motions to give her the idea like when she was 6.
It has been an uphill battle since middle school began. I’ve talked to her teachers, a nurse and even the woman who runs the cafeteria after it was discovered she’d been charging lunches rather than making them at home. This is something many middle schoolers go through – they want to be treated like an adult but don’t want the responsibility.
“You just have to stay on her,” they all say. “Don’t let her think it’s going to stop unless she starts doing the work.
“Don’t worry … by high school, she will be your best friend.”
Lately there has been a lot of this “staying on her” going on around here. She’s cried. I’ve wanted to cry. I’ve worried. I’ve prayed.
I’ve wanted to just start doing everything for her again.
My daughter singing in the shower was my reward tonight. This was a gift from God. No matter how stressful, trying or difficult things have been with her at times, she is happy.
MY SON IS EVOLVING into a firecracker. His wild, curly hair is a reflection of his personality. He knows he is the youngest. He knows he is the baby. He uses this to his advantage and it’s hard to rise above this and teach him boundaries.
He is my parents’ last grandchild.
Through him, I am reminded of this greater purpose we all serve. Already he is testing me, finding my limits, then seeing how far beyond them he can go. Then he spontaneously says “I love you” and reaches around my neck to pull himself to me for a kiss.
All I can do is smile.
There is time to teach him boundaries. Tomorrow is another day. For now, I’m just enjoying his time as a baby in a toddler’s body. His soul fills mine.
HOLLIE AND I HAVE had a tough, unconventional road that has only recently started to feel like it will have fewer obstacles. She works very hard as a restaurant manager and her schedule keeps her away when the kids and I would like to see her most.
While these circumstances are painful, it feels good to truly miss someone when they are gone because then you get to experience the joy of reuniting every day. This is a gift from God – one I’ve never felt when it comes to another adult to whom I’m not related – and I’m happy to have it.
ALL OF THIS WORK and it never seems to end. My job is extremely busy at the end of each year and the beginning of the next. It could not be like this at a worse time, as everyone else – including my children – is in Christmas mode already. All I really want to do is stay home with them and bake cookies.
There is the added expense of Christmas gifts this time of year. Since we live in a rural area and use propane to heat the house, there is that bill too now. Annual vehicle taxes are due at the end of each November, Kalista keeps needing money for school things, so on and so forth. While the extra expenses themselves can be a burden, keeping up with them as the head of the house amid a demanding work schedule is the main stressor.
I sometimes pray that God will help me remember to be thankful.
When I die, this is probably the main thing I hope I’ve instilled in my children: moments are fleeting. Stay focused on what God has given you and not what you hope to get from man. As a father, I can be in a room with my children and be away from them in thought because my mind is with work or responsibilities or the next day’s schedule. I do pretty well with this because I’m aware of it, but someday I’m going to be on my death bed and want these moments back.
“Oh, thank you, Daddy,” I can hear Kalob say. “Thank you.”
He will sometimes say it three times, waiting for me to say “you’re welcome,” before I even realize he was talking to me because I was checking my work phone or thinking of something else.
I hate that.
“I thought you were going to ____________ for me today.”
Turns out, I’d made plans to do something with my daughter or Hollie but I became distracted by work or a task around the house and forgot, letting down someone I love in the process.
What makes this all the more painful for me when it happens is I don’t do this too often, so when I do, it really stings.
Our time on this Earth is so short. For many, including likely for myself, it will be less than 60 years. Our “timelines” in the broader scheme of things never match up perfectly with those we love. There will come a day when my children must go on without me.
They can be homeless, surgeons, writers or welders. It is not their trade or status on the social food chain that concerns me. I want them to have integrity. I want them to be sincere. I want them to cherish this life.
May God help me to always cherish mine through them.