Today my “baby” turns 18.

I knew it would happen… I watched age 18 arrive with my older two kids, but this one “feels” different. Possibly because she’s the youngest. Maybe because I turned 50 a few days ago and that’s messing with me. Or, maybe it’s because Cathy and I are only 8 months away from being “empty-nesters” and our baby will be going away to college.

Regardless, Cassie’s birthday has got me thinking about how much I have loved being a dad.

Last night I was at Dennys with two of my dear friends who are 10-12 years younger than me and are dads with small children. They are really good dads and very intentional about their choices with ministry and home-life (both are youth pastors). We talked a little about parenting and I gave them 3 tips (unsolicited of course).

1. Don’t blink… it goes by very fast. Regardless of what you think, your kids grow up very quickly.


2. Capture memories! Photograph, video, and write letters… the more the better. With each birthday and holiday, use it as an opportunity to write your kids a letter. Pour on the love… even if they can’t read it or understand it. These letters will become eventual treasures. Many of the younger years are forgotten–photos, videos and letters help retain and capture the best of memories.

3. Put your family before your job (even if you’re in ministry… actually, especially if you’re in ministry). Not before Jesus, but definitely before your job. Here’s a little harsh reality: anyone can do your job! Actually, one of the guys I was with last night has the job I held for 18 years and he’s doing a better job than I ever did. And, there’s someone out there who will eventually replace him too. But, no one can replace him as a parent. No one can love his kids like he’s designed to love them.

Time… Memories… Priorities.

I would challenge any parent to become a master of those 3 biggies and, if you do, chances are good that your children will someday thank you. A few days ago on my 50th birthday I received incredible letters from my kids (ages 24, 21 & 18) as well as a time where they breathed life into me with a verbal affirmation at my birthday dinner. It was rich! As a dad, I know I didn’t do everything right… actually, I made a lot of mistakes… but, I fought for those 3 biggies (time, memories & priorities) and now I feel like Cathy and I are in a season where we’re reaping the benefits of being intentional parents.

Those 6,570 days flew by… and now my 18 year old “baby” is an amazing young woman. I’m so grateful.

Happy birthday Cassie… you’re the best!

Question: what are you doing to be an intentional parent? Share your ideas here.

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