I have been privileged to have in my life two very beautiful teenage children. It is enough for me to say that they are the loves of my heart next to my dear wife. Although they are not my biological offspring, they have a hold of my heart deeper than I ever thought possible by anyone other than a spouse. They make me laugh, ponder and feel happiness in a way I had only read about before in books. I now understand what it is that my parents talked about when they told me of the love that they felt for me when I was a child and a teenager.
Remembering back to being a teenager, I can remember all of the awkwardness and the terrible anxiety when it came to members of the opposite sex and all of the crazy things I would plan to say and fail to say them. I remember being a boy trapped in the body of a young man. The teenage years were full of bitter life lessons and I am certainly glad that they are over and would dare not repeat them for all of the money in the world. But more than the lessons of hardship that I learned, I remember most of all my parents undying support of me and the love that they showed me when I did stupid things or failed to live up to their expectations. Sure there was discipline and sure there was resentment, but I was treated fairly and for that I am grateful that I had them to be there for me.
And now I have two daughters.
Let me actually say something here. They are not my daughters, but I call them my daughters. At one time in my life, I was married to their mother and helped to raise them as my step children. They, along with their brother, were an important part of my life and I was there for their formulative years in their childhood and remained in contact with them since. There were years that I would say hello to them briefly, when their mother and I would try to patch things up, but for the most part, I was absent as an adult. Their mother has been married twice since me, and I was her third husband, and is now the mother of two more children. So the three that I grew up with are now the oldest of five, and the two youngest are the children of my ex-wives current boyfriend.
This has not been easy at all on my ex-step-children. I realized this, and so did my ex-wife, and yet, she knew how much I loved them. Four years ago, she named me the primary care-giver in her will, should she ever come to an unfortunate end before her time. Something was realized here. Something vastly important to me. Without trying (or, perhaps trying too hard), I had proved to my ex-wife that I was the most stable man in her (then) three children'slives. I decided to explore this. Recently married to Jennifer, my third and final wife, I approached Jennifer and asked her what she thought of having the three children come and stay with us for a week. It took some convincing, as we were newly-weds, but I talked her into it in the end. And then I approached my Ex about the idea. She was tentative, but agreed to it in the end as well.
They recently returned to their home after their third summer vacation here with me and Jennifer at our house in Oklahoma. Things have gone fine and I have been getting to know them more and more as they mature in their lives and as our relationships grow. To explain our relationship to others, we have simply started calling them our god-children. I have gotten closer to them as an adult and so has my wife Jennifer. She has been a trooper and has fallen in love with all three of them equally. It has been wonderful to see our love grow thru fun and fear equally. From riding their first roller-coaster to a small house fire... things have defiantly not been boring during their vacations. I believe that my wife and I are the most active during those few weeks that they visit us than we are the whole rest of the year. And we wouldn't trade it for anything.
And then I start thinking about the rest of their lives when they are not here with us. I think about the trials and tribulations of being a their home, in their life, in their world, and I have no idea what it is like. I yearn to be closer to my girls to show them what it is to be a gentleman, to show them what a good husband is to his wife, to show them how to love. But I cannot. So I pray. I pray that their lives are kind and nice. I pray that their lives are wonderful and full of mercy. I pray that justice is slow to be met and that grace is more abounding. I pray that life is easy for them and that boys treat them nice. But I am not there, so all I can do is send them emails and phone calls and once in a while bring them here to be with me.
I pray for the men that will marry my daughters. I pray that they will be lovers of peace and not self-serving. I pray that the trickle of hope that I show these precious girls, just ever so briefly, will form a lake of wonder in their heart and they will not fall for the men that will impress them or win them over, but the men that will be true to them and honest in all occasions. I pray that the boys they choose to love will be boys that love the idea of becoming men who will love a woman first and not a hobby. I pray that the time they choose to spend with boys will be times exploring the happiness in creation, not in the guilt of sexual experimentation. I pray that the influences over their lives are nothing more than flicks of sand against the shields that a loving God has been built around their heart.
And I pray for me. That I will continue to be a man. Dedicated to the idea of loving them no matter the misfortunes or mistakes. No matter the hardships or pains. No matter the loss or the fear. I pray that I will have the strength to love them for who they are, and not for what they have or have not done.
I love you Nessly and Kimberly Abigail. You are my forever.
Yours til Niagara Falls,