I wrote this blog post more than a year ago – in June of 2011. I shared it with my daughter Kyla but never got around to actually posting it. It is now a year later and my daughter Kyla’s dreams of serving the Lord in Africa have come true, but these words of mine are still true, more now than they were before. We miss you Kyla. Love, Dad.
About a week ago, our family attended the local home school graduation ceremony. It was held at a church down the road and a number of our youth group kids were celebrating their graduation from high school. When it came time for the presentation of diplomas to the graduates, each set of parents came up front with their graduate, said a few words and presented them with their diploma.
My oldest daughter is nearing graduation. We don't know exactly when she is graduating because her plans in the next few years include finishing the bulk of her academic work a year early and then working as an intern for 6-9 months at an orphanage in Tanzania, Africa. We don't even know yet if she is interested in going through a formal grad ceremony or whether I would ever get a chance to formally share this with her. In spite of all that, I found myself sitting there in the crowd and thinking – what would I say to my oldest daughter on the event of her graduation in a year or two? This is what I think I would say:Kyla, as a pastor, I am always teaching people. And as home school parents, your mom and I are always wrapped up in making sure that you and your siblings are being taught what you need to know. But sometimes in the midst of all that teaching, I forget what you are teaching me.Thank you, Kyla, for teaching me patience. As you know, I am not a patient person by nature. I am easily frustrated and at times, easily angered. And yet I look at your and your patience with Gracie (our Labrador retriever). I am amazed at how you work with her and teach her and are patient and gentle with her. And of course, the results are on display in the form of Western Montana Fair trophies by the box load. Such patience is a fruit of the Spirit, a product of the work of God in you. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of patience.Thank you, Kyla, for teaching me compassion. Compassion does not come easily to me either. I have always relied on others like your mom for cues regarding compassion. And now I see such compassion in you. Special Olympics. Sign Language. Your desire to train helper dogs. The Mexican orphanage. Your plans to serve in Africa. All those things show your heart of compassion for those who are needy and powerless in our world. And of course, that compassion is in line with the compassion of God toward those same people. Thank you for modeling compassion for me.Thank you, Kyla, for teaching me submission. Your constant headaches drag you down. I cannot begin to imagine what that is like. You have patiently weathered and continue to weather all our attempts to solve the problem. We don't know if the problem will ever be solved. In times past, you allowed yourself to be defined by your headaches. And while you still have hard days, I have seen that change. I have seen your submission to the Lord grow in the midst of this thorn in the flesh you bear. I have seen you grow in contentment. I have seen you persevere. I have seen you trust and seek God more. I have seen you more and more offer your life as a living sacrifice to him, in spite of your headaches. Thank you for living a life of increasing submission before me.Kyla, you and I know that none of us are perfect. I understand you have not perfected any of these areas of your life. But I want you to know that I see wonderful growth. I see the work of God in your life. And I want you to know that this is my prayer for you, from Philippians 1:9-11:And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
If you want to follow Kyla during her African Adventure, check out her blog at http://kylasafricanadventure.blogspot.com/