I love my family.  I’ve spent a lot of time climbing, scratching, and clawing my way in search of the proverbial mountaintop.  I’ve succeeded in areas, failed in others, but none-the-less, I have continually moved forward and not always full of grace and dignity.  I’ve always had hope, looking for the brighter days of tomorrow.  My celebrations of today were short lived, as I would quickly turn my attention to what was the next mountain to climb?  The next challenge to conquer?  The next “win”.  I thrived on the wins.

Today, I celebrate my daughter’s birthday.  Natalie turns 17 years old.  It hit me today; this is the last year that she will be a minor.  While she will always be my daughter, this will be my last Easter, summer, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, et al with her as my (not so) little girl.  After this year, she is a legal adult.  And that hit me hard today.  All of a sudden, I wanted the world to stop for a moment.  No more tomorrows.  Just todays…today…right now.  For me, capturing that “stillness of mind” in the moment is like reading a book in a lightning storm – better have the book open, eyes on the pages, then ride the residual illumination as long as possible! 🙂

Tonight, I had that moment.  A moment of gratitude slowly crept up on me, and then overtook me. And for a moment that seemed like an eternity, I reveled in God’s glory.  I don’t know what I did to deserve this family.  My daughter is an incredible young lady and she has blessed all who know her.  She has persevered, is funny, witty, smart, creative, caring, thoughtful, wise beyond her years, sensitive, and has a depth of soul I haven’t witnessed in too many 17 year olds (let alone adults).  And for a moment, I was completely immersed in an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

My wife and sons were playing in the living room and I had that moment of clarity where I realized (again) that I have a great life in spite of me, not because of me!  Sure, I’ve been blessed with gifts from God (as we all have), but God’s grace has flowed so freely in all areas of my life and when I can let go and surrender, I get glimpses of just how much God has demonstrated His omnipotence in my life, and I had that glimpse tonight.  I’m blessed and in areas I never thought would be so rewarding.  I love being a dad, a father, and a husband and continually strive to be a ‘man among men’.  I’m happy.  No, I’m content – in a state of peaceful happiness.

Happy birthday, Natalie.  I’m so incredibly proud of the young lady you are and I’ve often been excited to see what incredible things you’ll accomplish, what areas you will serve others, and the impact you’ll have on this world.  But tonight, I want ‘right now’ to last a little longer.  I’m not ready for this residual illumination to leave me yet.  I love you and thank God for you.

Shot with Canon 5DmkIII, 50mm f/1.2L, ISO 6400, 50mm, f/1.2, 1/100, no flash.

 

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