What is the best advice you have ever been given? It seems like that question comes up a lot. It’s kind of a big question, because people give lots of advice. For it to be “the best”, it has to be something of great magnitude. It has to be something that affects every aspect of life, it has to be life changing. For me, it was. The best advice i have ever been given is from my dad I later learned the advice was one of Stephen Covey’s “Seven Steps of Highly Effective People”, but it will be always be from him to me. It is short, sweet, and to the point. I think about it on a daily basis.
“Begin with the end in mind.”
The first time i heard him say this, I was probably 22ish. He was teaching a young couples Sunday school class. I had been married about 2 years. Joy was everything I could have ever dreamed of in a wife. She was (is) perfect. The only problem was, I was hanging on to other things in my life as priorities.
When Dad gave this advice, it really struck a nerve with me. I did not make some sort of immediate transformation, but i knew what i wanted the end to look like:
Joy and I sitting in our living room 50 years from now, drinking a cup of coffee on Christmas morning. (I don’t drink coffee now, but I’m certain older, wiser me will) Our kids, grandkids, and great grandkids all together. In my life so far, there have been five days that changed our lives, five days that I’ll always remember. Five days that will be put on a pedestal above all other days. Five days, that makes all the rest of this possible. Five days that shape the way i want that day 50 years from now, the end, to look like. I’m sure there will be a few more of these days in the future, but as of now here are my five days:
May 27th, 2006
I know what you are thinking already. I have been thinking it for a long time. How did he:
end up with her?
To this day, I can only come up with one explanation. God.
When we met, as 8th graders in school, God had already planned for us to spend the rest of our lives together. Pretty cool stuff.
That day, our wedding day, was perfect. I know it may sound cliché, but when she pulled up in that golf cart, and started walking down the aisle toward me, it was literally the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. She winked at me. I’ll never forget it. If I live on this earth for another 300 years, i do not believe I could ever experience a moment quite like that one. The moment i married my best friend, my rock, my joy. The moment where I became the luckiest man alive.
December 22, 2008
Most of the time, we think of “growing up” as a process. The trek from boyhood to manhood, is one that can last many years. It may start around 17, and not culminate until 26, 27, for some people 50. For me it really started and ended in one day, December 22, 2008. All of the sudden, I was not the center of my life. This baby, was going to depend on me (Joy and I) to put food on the table, to provide her clothes, and shelter. She needs me to take her to the doctor when she is sick. It was a strange feeling. My priorities changed in an instant.
A long time ago, way before i was a parent someone told me the best advice they could give a soon to be parent was something to the extent of ” Don’t let your child become your identity. Go out, have fun. Make sure you make time for you. Your child should not be your full-time job.” I will say without question, that is the worst advice i have ever been given. When i held that little girl for the very first time, i knew that she was my life from this point forward. My advice to parents to be: GIVE EVERYTHING.
When I played football in high school, our coaches constantly used the saying, “leave it all the field.” They wanted us to give everything we had in those four quarters so that when we were done playing the game, we had nothing more we could possibly give. While some may say I rarely did this in my football days (Sorry Coach Ward!), it is a lesson that has stuck with me in life. On that day, 50 years from now, when Joy and I are drinking our Pumpkin Coffee’s on Christmas, I want nothing more than to know that I have nothing left to give Audrey, Sydney, and Kennedy.
Girls, I can’t promise I’ll be the best Dad, or I’ll never make a mistake, but i do promise to give you everything I’ve got.
September 16, 2012
There is nothing quite like holding your baby for the first time. The whole time Joy was pregnant with Syd, I wondered how I could possibly experience the same emotions I experienced when i first held Audrey. I did. There is just something about those first seconds, that sends chills all over your body. It gives you an adrenaline rush that I just don’t believe can be duplicated.
I held Sydney, all 6 lbs 14 oz, and immediately fell in love with her. One thing i have done the moment I first held all of my kids, is I try to envision their future. I don’t purposely do it, it’s just natural. I pray for their future. I pray for extraordinary things. I pray for their career paths, I pray for their husbands, I pray for their influences. I pray that they will trust Jesus, i pray that they will always follow Him. A verse that has always stuck with me, Jeremiah 29:11 always seems to come to mind in those moments. God has plans for this child. plans that are bigger and better than the greatest think I could think of.
This is a day, that at times, I wondered if it would ever come. I prayed about this day more than anything I’ve ever prayed about. Those of you who have kept up with this blog, know the history. In medical eyes, Kennedy was not going to live. I did the math a while back, and based on all the odds and percentages we were given throughout the pregnancy, there was somewhere around a .0072 chance that this day ever came.
I’ll never forget the first few seconds. Dr. Garcia held Kennedy up to Joy, still attached by a cord. While I should have been scared, wondering if that was the only time I was going to see my girl alive, I wasn’t. Literally, it was probably 8 seconds, but it felt like hours. I watched Joy, with tears just streaming down her face. I thought she was scared, so i felt like I had to be strong. She looked so healthy, this couldn’t be the same girl the doctors predicted not to make it. It wasn’t. This girl was miraculously healed by God.
It is not every day you get to experience a “top 5” day, but today is one. There is nothing more important in my life than being a Dad. If I fail at everything else I ever do, it’s ok as long as I’m successful with these three girls.
These last 44 days have been the toughest days of our lives. It is natural for a mom and a dad to leave the hospital with their baby two days after she is born. I will never forget leaving the hospital two days after Kennedy was born. Joy and I riding home in silence. It was probably one of the toughest things I have ever experienced. It was awful for me, but it was even more awful watching Joy, the person I love more than anyone in this world, have to leave the child she carried for 33 weeks. With Audrey and Sydney, it was months before we ever even left them with grandparents. With Kennedy, we had to leave this miracle child in the hands of strangers (very nice strangers!).
Over the rest of the time, it became more difficult every day. Joy and I would alternate shifts at the hospital, and we got to see each other on average about 45 minutes a day. Kennedy progressed, then she would take a few steps back. It seemed like a never ending cycle. It seemed like we would never go home. We knew that she would come home, it just tough to be patient.
Today is a great day. One of the five greatest of my life. Tonight we will go to sleep for the first time with our whole family under one roof.
Joy and I can not say thank you enough to all the people that helped us in so many ways through this tough time. Seriously, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU!
We have had SO much help from family with our big girls, and we could not have made it without you guys. Thank you to everyone who has brought us meals, let us know they were thinking about us, prayed for us. Seriously, your encouragement has gone miles with us.
HUGE thanks to the staff in the NICU @ Baptist. Thank you specifically to Lizzy, Tabi, Gaye, and Tammy. You guys treated our sweet angel like she was your own, and we just can’t even begin to explain how much that means to us. When you can’t be with your child, it means everything to know the person that is with her loves and cares for her. Thank you guys for all your hard work.
Thank you God for this amazing day.