Surrounded by strangers, my mind raced. . . .she’s not here? My heart sank. I went into denial. She has to be here. There’s nowhere else she can be. My heart sank deeper.No. It can’t be. No! No. No. No. My baby is missing. The tears started rolling down my face as I slammed my face into my hands.
My extended family (brother, sister, in-laws, nephews, nieces) was skiing in Angelfire, New Mexico and Kesleigh (6yrs old) was a brand new skier. We all started at the top of the mountain together and headed down a run we had done together multiple times that day. My son Kasen had a little spill and so I stopped to help him and allowed my daughter, Kesleigh to continue down the slope with our group. After getting Kasen settled, we raced toward the rest of our group and caught up with my brother about 1/3rd of the way down. He pointed Kesleigh out to me quite a ways down so I sped up and headed in her direction flying past lots of other skiers. I could see her with my sister as she turned a corner. When I made it to the turn, I saw my sister helping her son get up but didn’t see Kesleigh anywhere. She told me that she must have followed the others on down to the ski lift. There was only one ski lift at the bottom of that hill and she had been skiing with our group all morning long so I felt pretty good about meeting her at the bottom, but raced down to catch her anyway.
That’s when my mind started racing and my heart sank. She wasn’t there. Where could she have gone? What could have happened?Maybe it’s irrational, but I imagined some crazy abduction case or that maybe she had not made it down the mountain and was stuck hanging over the edge of some cliff. Why did I leave her? How could I have let her go on without me? Why? OK…….OK….Calm down. What should I do? OK – be smart. Alright. I asked my family to head up the lift looking for her and then to make another run down sweeping the area in search while I waited at the bottom in case she came down in the meantime. Waiting. . . . Oh, this can’t be. What kind of father are you? Is she alone? Please God. Keep her safe. Bring her back to us. Time moved so slowly. Please God. If I can’t be with her, please put someone else with her to help. My phone started ringing. My sister. She said they had seen Kesleigh from the lift and that she would come over the hill at any moment where would be able to see her. Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God.Oh. . . . there she is. As she approached, I could see her whole body quivering from her cry. She skied right into my arms and held her quivering dad who couldn’t control his own crying.
Evidently, she had crashed near my sister in between some trees where no one could see her. By God’s grace, and as an answer to prayer, another skier just “happened” to stop a few feet away from her and heard her crying. She helped Kesleigh out of the trees and got her back on her skis. After waiting a few minutes for someone to come looking for her, they decided that we must be waiting at the bottom. She told me that she knew she’d find some very worried parent at the lift. She was right. I couldn’t thank her enough and have prayed for God to bless she and her family many times since that day. She was an answer to prayer.
After the whole incident, Kesleigh and I talked about it and she forgave me for not being there. She also learned that God is watching over us and helping us even when no one else is.God never leaves us or forsakes us.Even when we are alone, we are NOT alone.
I watched her giggling across the room as she danced. The flashing lights sparkled in her eyes which lit up as she noticed me watching her. Her smile expanded even wider. She floated across the dance floor and threw her arms open to me saying “Hold me daddy!” We danced. Well….I danced and her feet dangled a few feet above the dance floor. It was an incredible night and I’m so grateful that I took the time to ask her out.
Kesleigh is 3, almost 4, and I had asked her to go with me about a week before the big event. As her father, it’s my goal tolove her like God loves her. I know I’ll never do that well, but it’s my responsibility to be an earthly representation of Him to her. That’s HUGE! I’ve got to do all I can and pray that God will use my even feeble efforts to reveal Himself to her.
I also wanted to make a special effort that night to let her see how a man should treat her. I know it’s early, but I want her to grow up knowing what to look for in a husband. I got dressed up for her – that may very well be the biggest expression of my love. I opened the door for her and was courteous. I bought her dinner (Yes it was McDonalds, but that’ll change as she gets older) and held her hand as we walked into the ballroom. I proudly introduced her to the people around us and waited patiently as she picked out candy for her snack. I asked her to dance with me and even embarrassed myself a bit for her entertainment. I laughed with her as I tried to teach her a few dances – Chicken Dance, YMCA, 2 Step, etc. I tried to serve her in every capacity and when the time was right….in the middle of a slow dance, I spoke to her gently and tried to explain how much she meant to me. I know she’s only three, but she truly seemed to grasp the significance of the moment and before I even finished talking, she looked directly in my eyes, and said, “I love you daddy.” as she wrapped her little arms around my neck. She just held me for the rest of the song. It was magical. The rest of the evening she wouldn’t leave my side. Even when I tried to get her to dance with her friends, she only wanted to be with me.
This is my prayer – that Kesleigh would grasp the significance of God’s love for her and that she would never want to be out of His presence again. LORD, may it be so.
P.S. – If you ask her what the best part of the evening was, she won’t mention any of these events. All she’s gonna talk about is the “Candy Bar” and how she was able to go back as many times as she wanted.
I figured it’s time to post a few more pics of Kesleigh. These are the ones taken by our friend, Jenny. She’s an amazing photographer. You should check out her stuff or even set up a sitting of your own – she’s really good. Anyway, you can find her at www.jhintze.com. You won’t be disappointed.
Just click the “pictures” tab to get rid of the filmstrip and then click the “right arrow” button to move through the gallery. If you want to see the whole image, click the lightbulb in the center of the pic.
The trembling hands awkwardly grasped the air. . . faithfully reaching into the unknown. I stood there again, behind the cold glass, looking in on my precious new baby. Kesleigh Anne was born last night around 11:03pm. It was now about 2:30am. The hospital halls were silent and I just watched. I watched my baby girl tremble. Her tiny hands grasping the air. . . groping for something. . . something she didn’t know or understand. It was a new world to her. Just hours earlier she had been protected within her mother. . .floating effortlessly in a forever nourished state. Now she was breathing with lungs which had never tasted air before. Her skin was drying and she was missing the touch of her mother as she lay in this cold plastic box. Unable to see yet, she reached out. . . . longing for a touch. . . . longing for something to comfort her.
I watched behind the glass. I felt so proud. Proud to be her father. Proud of her mother. And yet. . . there was something else underneath. . . something which took the edge off the pleasure of the moment. I was scared. Scared of responsibility. Fearful of what it would be like to have a 2nd child in the house. I imagined brushing her hair as a little girl and tucking her into bed at night. I imagined the day when I would one day walk her down the aisle and give her away. I wondered if I could do it. I wondered if God would give me the strength to be the father that she would need?
As she grasped the air, so did I. Trembling, I awkwardly stretched out my arms and decided to reach into the unknown. . . . longing for a touch. . . . longing for something to comfort me.
I listened to a sermon by Voddie Bachaum the other day and was struck by something he said. He explained that 75%-88% of American so-called Christian teenagers abandon their faith by the time they finish their first year of college. The average Christian parents in America have 2 children. This means that it takes 4 Christian adults to bring one successfully into the next generation. Which also means that (subtracting new conversions) Christianity is declining at a rate of 75%-88% in only one generation. Voddie continued his argument saying that Germany is already being called a Muslim nation by the Muslims because by birthrates alone it will be a Muslim country in just a few years. Evidently, the Muslim faith is doing much better than American Christianity in regards to how many children are being born and how many are adopting the faith of their parents.
Voddie, also reminded me of the Scriptures which describe children as a blessing and as arrows in a man’s quiver. It is through his children that a man can have the most impact on the world. Yet, most Christians believe that having 2 and at the most 3 children is plenty. The excuses they raise have to do with finances and the size of their houses and yet just a generation ago, our grandparents raised many more children in homes that most of us would consider too meager today.
Is it Biblical to choose material things over children? What would a family be like if they had to share more things in the home? Would our marriages be stronger if we made more babies? Would a more demanding home life provide the accountability and challenge that a father really needs to be the spiritual leader of his home? Could it be true that if we raised large families, they might be more healthy? What if we saw children as a blessing instead of a nuisance that has to be endured for 18 years? Would we have more children? Would Christianity look differently? When did the “perfect family” become the “perfect little family?” Could the church be revived if men and women went forth and multiplied? Leonard Sweet says that every cell in the human body recreates itself every 7 years and that when it stops recreating, it begins dying. What if the same is true of the Body of Christ? What if we were baby makers? Just some ideas I had after listening to Voddie. What do you think?
I saw a man carrying a “Rock Band” video game box in a stroller today. It wasn’t a big deal, but his wife was carrying their baby in her arms. I’m sure he’s a good dad, and I’m sure it was just more practical since the game box was heavier than the baby, but it just struck me funny. It just didn’t seem right. I’m sure someone else will watch me one day doing something similar with Kasen and they’ll question my intentions too. I’m just wondering when that will be? Has it already happened? What kinds of things do I do that people watch and make judgments about? Do they judge me in this sort of way, or do they see Jesus in some way? I wonder if someone was watching me watching him? What would they have thought if they could have read my mind?
Man God, I need you. I’m pretty messed up. Help me become who You want me to be.
A few years ago, one of the youth I worked with (Tori Gracey) gave me a series of drawings/paintings that she had done of a baby in the hand of God. I took the same idea and recreated it in photoshop with Kasen in my hand. I think it looks pretty cool. Maybe I’ll recreate some of the others ones later too. Thanks Tori.
It’s my job to represent God to my son Kasen. I’ll never be able to fully do so, but I will give my life to love him, protect him, care for him, and raise him to know Jesus.