Before the sun came up yesterday we left 13040 Carriage Park Lane for the last time. So much has happened since we moved to Atlanta in 2001. Andrew (my oldest son) was 12, now he's almost 20, Julie and I both turned 40, we taught 3 boys how to drive (I have no idea how many wrecks we've had) and developed hundreds of friendships, a few of those friendships we'll have the rest of our lives. We loved our time there.
When I was walking through our home I was remembering all the laughter, playing, fighting, wrestling, hugging, farting, burping, crying and many other things that took place. It was where we as a family grew up. Lauren was 6, now she's 13. She went from a little girl to a soon to be woman. Zach, Austin and Andrew have become men...we'll almost. Just like a really cool sunset you want to last longer than it does, a phase of our life is over.
Last night 4 of us had dinner together in Flower Mound, Texas. My oldest boys are not living with us anymore, they are continuing their lives in Georgia. It's kind of like I'm beginning a new phase of fathering to my kids. Don't get me wrong, I'm so thankful for God's grace through the last 2o years of being a father, but as I've reflected, there are a few things I really want to do different or better the last few years I have with Lauren and Zach. Here's a sampling...
Encourage more and criticize less.
I'm not sure my kids comprehend how proud I am of them. Sometimes I have a tendency to see the glass half empty. Someone told me it takes 15 encouraging comments to balance out 1 critical comment. I have a lot of words to use to balance things out.
Love Julie better.
One of the best ways to love my kids is to love my wife. They need to see me laying down my life for Julie. I need to learn how to serve her so much better. I'm passionately in love with Julie, I want to show her better.
I have a friend named Barbara who has 3 kids. She's does't really know it but she's a great mom. She said one time that the most important time she spends for her kids is in prayer. I want to be much more consistent in going to God on their behalf. I can't change their hearts but God can and will.
Zach loves to go fishing, so do I. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get on the lake with Zach. Lauren loves to shop, I don't, but I'm just as committed to learning.
I'm kind of sad the last few years went so fast. Some times we want time to stand still, but it never does. Even though I'm sad I'm excited about the next few years. We have no right or ability to hold on to our life, it keeps moving, growing and changing. Our life belongs to God and he wants us to use the short time we have offering it to him and others, especially those closest to us.