Saturday, October 27, 2007

If I'm here, and you're here, doesn't it make it our time?

There are some moments in your life that you know you need to savor and enjoy. By the grace of God I have been keenly aware that I need to appreciate the moment, for it will soon be gone.

I've been blessed with many such moments, where I wanted time to stand still, for I knew it was an experience that I would one day look back upon with great nostalgia. They've all involved my children and I've had at least one with each child.

The first was when I took Sarah on a "Daddy-Daughter" day when she was less than a year old. Much of the time was spent with her asleep in the stroller as I pushed her around the pond at the park. But sitting on the park bench with her snuggled up on my chest I was overcome with emotion. It was as if I could see her going to school and graduating and dancing with her at her wedding. I knew in an instant that she wouldn't be a baby for long and that I needed to absorb the moment as best I could.

Rachel has always been a "Daddy's girl." She's always been the one most inclined to like what I like and to care about the things I care about. She would always run to me at full speed when I'd pick her up from preschool. I was doing some church work on the computer when Rachel was 4 years old. She had come in to visit for about the 93rd time and I really didn't have time and wasn't interested in small talk. She had come in and wanted me to show her my pipes, explaining which country each one was from. She had come in to talk about what I was doing at church and she reminded me that I was the pastor of the church and that it was important because I helped people learn about God. None of this was helping my efficiency.

However, when she came in and I gave her a curt, "What is it now, Rachel?" and I got a sheepish, "I brought you a Cherry Coke" time stood still. I looked at her and the thought hit me like a ton of bricks, "She just wants to spend time with her daddy." I knew there would come a day soon that dad would be much further down on the depth chart and that I would have a hard time getting time with her. With tears in my eyes I gave her a hug and then held her at arm's length just to look at her. She asked, "What's wrong?" I responded with, "Nothing. I just want to remember this moment forever."

Eric Jr. is my only boy and with that comes certain blessings and curses. One such mixed bag occurred last January when he and I made a road trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to get our picture taken with the World Series trophy the Cardinals had won a few months prior. We had a great time and pulled off to the side of the road so I could take his picture in the snow. Doing so I was overcome with the realization of the uniqueness of the event.

Though the Cardinals have been a good team, this was only their 2nd championship in my lifetime. I thought, "We're in Oklahoma standing in snow wearing Cardinals gear as I'm making a road trip with my boy to get our picture taken with the World Series trophy. There's a greater than zero chance this will never happen again. Enjoy it." I recorded the moment with the camera, but I savored it in my heart. What's more, so did my son. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "Dad let's go back to Oklahoma, just you and me." He starts kindergarten in August of 2008. We'll definitely have to get in another road trip before then.

TONIGHT I had another one of those moments.

Victoria had fallen asleep on our bed and after midnight it was my job to carry her up to her own bed. She is 2 years old. As I started up the stairs I had the distinct feeling of Déjà vu, particularly since I had done this same thing recently, but with my 8 year old daughter, Sarah.

I had a flashback to when Sarah was 2. I was stopped in my tracks as I realized that in the blink of an eye Victoria would be 8 years old.

I got a call this past week from my boss at Southwestern Seminary, checking in on my PhD progress, which has not been impressive, to say the least. He encouraged me to keep plugging away at it, though it may take a while.

But, as only a brother a little further down the journey can do, he gave me some advice. He said to "enjoy your kids," to enjoy them while they're young, because you'll never get that time back.

Walking down the stairs tonight, I thought of two things.

ONE: the words of a song by Kansas that was playing on the radio as we left my Uncle Terry's funeral in 1979:
I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment's gone ...
It slips away, and all your money won't another minute buy.
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.

TWO: the words of James:
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
-James 4:14, ESV

I enjoyed taking the family to the Plano East high school football game tonight, but even more I enjoyed standing there beside Victoria's bed, holding her in a horizontal position.

I committed that I would hold her and enjoy the moment until my arms or my back gave out. My arms gave out before my heart was done.

Sometimes late at night when I check on my kids before going to bed I will just kneel down by their beds and watch them sleep. I'm overcome with love for them and can't help but thank God for them and pray for them. Sometimes I lose track of time, but I know our time together is short and I find myself repenting of every moment with them that is wasted.

Because if I'm there and they're there, that makes it our time, and I'm going to savor it.


At 27 October, 2007 13:13, Blogger Lance said...

Great stuff, man. Great stuff.

Thanks for reiterating the value of real priorities.

At 27 October, 2007 17:10, Blogger GUNNY said...

Easy to forget, ain't it?!

I know it is for me and my small brain.

At 28 October, 2007 22:54, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil here - these words are so true. I know we are all familiar with the transfer of sleeping little ones into their own beds. With my two being 6 monts old those little moments are quite somethng as there will be a time, for whatever reason, we cant hold them like that any more...

Good word!

At 29 October, 2007 11:46, Blogger Oilcan said...

How about a little pizza on our time, Mr. Hand?

(Fast Times at Rigdemount High)

I have been a daddy for less than a year but I have had (and probably squandered) many such memorable moments already.

Most recently, during Daddy Daughter night, Tristan and I went to Sam's to buy stuff for the church's Reformation Day fall carnival, but really was just an excuse to eat a Sam's pizza. Last year at this time, I had a talk with Tristan about why we don't celebrate Halloween, and in particular that time, why she would not be dressing up in a costume to go to a Fall carnival. Well, this year in second grade her class mother (and real mother) was throwing the Fall party for the class (and incidentally made sure it was Halloween free! Good job Emily!). All that to say this, Tristan and I were casually walking into Sam's and I'm fumbling to display my Sam's card, she informs me, "You know, there is another girl in my class that doesn't celebrate the devil." I failed to make a big deal about it then, as I am horrible at spontaneous conversation especially when I am distracted, but as I thought about it later, I was so proud of her for remembering our talk and understanding the reason we don't celebrate Halloween and for not being intimidated by our Halloween crazed culture. I am more guilty of that than she, being ashamedly nervous with her statement as we received offended looks from other Sam's patrons in ear shot. So, after contemplating and appreciating the moment, I praised her for it at bedtime and encouraged her to continue to be strong against social pressure. I know it is going to get more and more difficult for her as she gets older.

At 29 October, 2007 11:56, Blogger GUNNY said...

He shoots, he scores!

Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) to Mr. Hand (Ray Walston, also My Favorite Martian, with Bill Bixby, prior to his days as the David Banner, a man whom you wouldn't like when he's angry).

But ... getting your Sam's pizza on is quantity time and it seems to me that quality time occurs (often naturally) in the context of quantity time.

At 29 October, 2007 12:00, Blogger Oilcan said...

Another such time was one of the first such moments for me, back when Tristan and I were first bonding as daddy and daughter, we did, and still do, like to play games together - Uno, dominoes, etc. This particular time, we were playing dominoes once again. And as you might expect, I could really dominate her, and would almost always win. So, right before I played the last domino or card or whatever to win, I would always make sure I had her full attention and I would say, "Are you ready for this? This is happening." Well, inevitably, as what happens in game and sport, the champion goes down, but before Tristan played her last domino to win, in that adorable little girl voice, she says "Are you ready for this? This is happening." It was a hilarious moment for me and mom, and once again, in retrospect, was a sobering one too as I realized how much influence I would have on this little soul and how much she would emulate me in her life in much more important ways, and that as her father, I had better set the best example possible. The gravity of that responsibilty is quite intimidating, but what a great honor and privilege to teach a little soul to love the Lord Jesus.

At 30 October, 2007 02:30, Blogger smartallen said...

You know that blog is so true. I am seeing now as our kids are getting older and there is less time they want to spend with us. As babies I held and rocked them, and knew that time was short and I needed to savor it. It is with a blink of an eye our children grow up before we know it. I only pray that I am making an impact on their lives that will carry them into society. Our imprint we have on them is so important, especially since it is our ultimate responsibility to teach them the importance of what God wants/expects from them. There are times I can hear my kids talk to friends and share Jesus with them. This makes me so proud, because their heart belonging to God is what matters.

With having four kids calling "MOM" constantly, that I forget how I react to that those calls is so important. When do I greet their calls with a smile, instead of with aggravation. I want my kids to remember me being a happy mom. With all the things that happened with Joshua and the cancer it helps me to realize that our life here is only a vapor, and to cherish each day because we are never promised tomorrow. When getting testy with the kids, I take time to think how God saved my life from cancer and I could be so much worse. As I hold my kids hands I notice how much they grow over time, I miss the little dimples in their tiny hands. My kids are growing so big that they will pass me up one day.

The blog touched my heart, and brought back those special moments I have with our kids. They are always our babies, but we have to let them grow too. That is the hard thing. It will be no time they will be out of school and leading their own lives. Thanks for helping me to remembering those special times.

At 01 November, 2007 00:55, Blogger GUNNY said...

smartallen wrote:
"The blog touched my heart, and brought back those special moments I have with our kids. They are always our babies, but we have to let them grow too. That is the hard thing."

That's so true. Thanks for the encouraging words. I can say with all honesty this was the most emotionally-laden thing I've ever written.

God is good ... all the time.


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