This morning I went downstairs to see if Elli was ready for school.

She was sitting on the bathroom counter brushing her teeth and looking at herself in the mirror. She was wearing these skinny cool-girl jeans with a great shirt, hair up in her ballerina bun. She looked so old.

When did this happen?!

I remember this day like it was yesterday: Jenna, as always, the rock-rock star, me about to faint and being told to sit down on a chair in the corner of the room. We had this little baby girl full of potential and promise. She was so small and precious. At the time, I couldn’t believe that God had given me a girl. Jenna and I wanted to raise strong girls who loved God more than anything.

I blinked for one moment, and that tiny baby is grown up. She’s this girl with personality and hobbies that are her own. She is strong, and she loves God. I’ve been with her at every stage of her short life, yet somehow I missed a transition somewhere between “little girl” and “big girl.”

The time goes so fast. We want our kids to grow up to be strong and independent. When it happens, we lament it just a little bit.

Parents, we can’t be lazy. We need to savor every smile, every laugh, every tear… Ok, maybe not EVERY tear. But you get the point. This morning that scene reminded me that raising our kids is too important. We can’t passively let our kids grow up without a plan. I want to be the dad who’s there and present from my kids’ perspective, not just from my own idea of what “there and present” means.

I know I haven’t arrived. I have so much to learn. But Elli and the rest of my kids are worth the effort of growing and becoming better at this parenting thing.

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