Happy Birthday, Jessica! I Have A 21 Year Old Daughter!

21 years old.  I have a daughter that is 21 years old.  Unbelievable.

How did this happen so fast?

Just the other day we walked into Munson Medical Center for a doctor visit.  We didn’t know we were going to be admitted.  We didn’t know that the next day we would have a little girl that would change our lives like she did.  We knew that things would be different, but seriously.  We had NOOOOOOO idea just how different!

That first look at all of that dark hair, the scrunched up face, the fists shaking in indignation for the trial she had just been through.  It was a little scary.  Not a “run and hide” thing, but a “Holy Cow!  Who thought I was ready for this?” kind of thing.  Seriously. I had to take a test to drive a car, but to be a father? Nothing!

I’d like to say that the fear wore off.  It didn’t.  It has shifted around, changed shape, color, and intensity over the years, but it has not gone away.  So many things out there to be concerned about when you are given a gift as precious as a child.  So many more when she is so crazy about animals!

Dog bites, cat scratches, kicks from horses.  The knowledge that anything that creeps slithers, walks, or crawls will be scooped up by a girl so fascinated with the creatures God has given us.  So much out there to worry about.  So amazing to see how she has learned the meaning of the phrase “dominion over creation” as God intended it.

Then there are the people issues.  She has been the champion of the underdog, often left sitting alone, carrying the weight of a hurting friend on her shoulders, or the pain of the abused in her heart.  While she has had a “safe” life, she still bears scars from careless words, misplaced trust, or selfish motives.  In all of it, she stays open to new people. Willing to open her heart again to those who need help.  Putting hands and feet to Jesus.

This is our first year celebrating her birthday from afar.  She is in college and we are at home.  Not an easy day, and the gray skies we see here at Tanner Manor echo our feelings as we wish we could be with her.  Both kids gone leaves the house feeling quiet.

However, this is not a post of gloom.  I am celebrating my daughter today.  I am the Dad of a 21 year old woman with a heart for God and people.  She is amazing in every sense of the word, and it has been a true blessing to have been chosen to be her Dad.

Jessica, I wish you the happiest of birthdays, and I want you to know that you will never be far from us as we always carry you in our hearts.  You and your brother have enriched our lives in so many ways, and we could not be more thankful.

You blazed so many trails in our lives, and while some of them had me shaking my head as we started the journey, it has been awesome to see what God has done in you and through you in the lives of those around you.  I am proud of you, I love you, and I can’t wait to see what God has planned for you.

Happy Birthday, Squirt!  You made me see how much a Dad could love a daughter.

Love you,

Dad

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