We were at the great State Fair of Texas in line for the “Little Hands on the Farm” exhibit along with hundreds of other tiny Future Farmers of America. Mr. Project Manager Dad managed to pick the busiest day of the Fair for our annual visit. It was a public school holiday, a private school holiday, a bank holiday, and a government holiday poured into one Exodus-like mass of people. My three youngest future farmers were happily queued up shouting their great excitement for planting vegetables, milking cows, and driving small tractors. My oldest daughter Halley elected to go shopping with her mom and grandmother and see prize-winning quilts. Now why would Halley want to miss out on all this fun at the farm?
After a mere twenty minutes, a frustrated lady dragged her bewildered kids out of line and proclaimed, “This isn’t worth the wait!” We gladly scooted forward to take her space. Then it occurred to me that this was the first move we had made; but my precious future farmers wanted to be Little Hands on the Farm!
Thirty minutes later, we were still in line, and Halley suddenly seemed very wise to me. As we inched closer to the farm, I saw the wooden pigs, plastic fruit, and fiberglass cows the John Deere Corporation offered to my future farmers. I struggled and failed to hold back the desperate realization: “This isn’t worth the wait!”
It is in my times of true desperation that I clearly hear the Lord’s voice. And now, He sounded like a female country-western singer. The farm-friendly music blasted from the loudspeakers, “He thinks I’m pretty, he thinks I’m smart. He’s always sayin’ he’s my biggest fan. My baby loves me just the way that I am.” I later found this was a decade-old song by a C&W superstar named Martina McBride, who obviously knows much more about raising a daughter than I do.
As I stared at the fake grass, I felt the piercing word of the Lord: “Who’ll tell your girl that she is pretty and smart? It certainly hasn’t been you.” He was right (and always is). I can get my girl to recite the Ten Commandments (in order), but does she know I love her just the way she is?
It is an awkward time for us both. My twelve-year-old little girl has blossomed into a young woman, but she still loves her American Girl dolls. I had noticed her change, but I had not changed with her.
I have focused so much on my daughter’s righteousness that I have forgotten her heart. I believe I Peter 3 (“beauty should come from your inner self”), but there is something missing between my Halley and me. I want to be the one who holds her heart, and I cannot say that I do. She is vulnerable to the selfish advances of some boy who will swoon her with words of how “pretty and smart” she is.
I own Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp and many other wonderful books on capturing the heart of your child. Sadly, I only own them and have not read them; but I did read all of Golf Magazine this month. Where are my priorities?
Holding the kids’ hearts is a primary reason we chose to home school, so I treated Halley a little differently the next day. I am raising a young woman, and my time with her is dwindling, as is my chance to influence her for the Lord.
Some solo time with Halley was needed, so we went to the grocery store. Okay, that is not exactly the most fun place to “date your daughter,” but at least I was doing something. I asked about her day and listened a little more closely. At first I got one-word answers, but I kept trying. I pushed the grocery cart and watched in amazement as she worked the list. She knew the layout of the store. She knew which sizes to buy. She knew how to save money with the house brands. How did Halley know so much about grocery shopping? When had my little girl turned into the Proverbs 31 woman? Where had I been the last year?
We talked about how she loves dogs, horses, reading, and little kids. I learned about her friends and how they treat her. I discovered she liked the color of her braces. I bought her a dog magazine and promptly forgot it at the checkout lane (but that gave me an excuse to take her back to the store later to get another). We drove to the post office, talking about bills and where all of Daddy’s money goes.
I delighted in learning more about my daughter and the gift the Lord gave me. The Lord rescued me—awakening me to the reality of my daughter’s life. I get to tell her she is pretty and smart (and righteous). She is able to sing, “My daddy loves me just the way that I am.”
If you would like to share your thoughts on all of this or want some tips on what NOT to see at the Texas State Fair,please contact me at ImperfectFather@Gmail.com.