Thursday, April 26, 2007

Daddys and Daughters

Yesterday was tough. An emotional roller-coaster of a day.

As Joe and I were leaving following a couple of visits at Kaiser Hospital, we got a call informing us that Esteban and Christina Parra's two-month old baby girl had died.

Christina had a difficult pregnancy and the doctors were forced to induce labor very early. As a result, she gave birth to twins who were very premature. One died the day of delivery. The other, Maricela, had been in the hospital since the day of her birth.

Recently, the doctors thought Maricela was turning a corner. In fact, the doctors had told Esteban and Christina that Maricela might get to go home soon. She was beginning to gain weight and showing some amazing signs of progress.

But Tuesday evening, the medial personnel became concerned when they discovered Maricela had contracted an infection. Yesterday morning, Esteban and Christina had to make the very difficult decision to take their baby off all support systems.

Christina was baptized into Christ at Woodward Park several months ago. She has been incredibly faithful -- despite the health of her baby -- to Christ and to our church. In fact, last Saturday morning when we met downtown to feed the homeless, Esteban and Christina were two of the first volunteers from Woodward Park to arrive. Now, they are forced to deal with the double-dose of grief in losing not just one, but two babies in the span of two months.

On Friday morning at 11:00 AM, a memorial service will be held at Woodward Park to remember the short lives of Esteban and Christina's girls. My hope and prayer is that as many of you who are members at Woodward Park will be there to love and support Esteban and Christina through an excruciatingly difficult time in their lives.


The painful experience of Wednesday has taught me how incredibly precious life is and how incredibly blessed Mandy and I are to have two beautiful, healthy daughters.

Several years ago, my dear friend Rick Treadway recommended a book to me that has been a go-to book for me since we welcomed Trae into the world. The book, She Calls Me Daddy by Robert Wolgemuth, speaks of the critical bond of the relationship between a father and his daughter(s) in instilling faith in them.

The other day, while browsing blogs, I came across this entry on Matt Soper's blog. Matt is the Preaching Minister for the West Houston (Texas) Church of Christ:

To fathers of daughters: Run, don’t walk to the nearest bookstore and buy “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: Ten Secrets Every Father Should Know” by Meg Meeker, M.D. This is a sobering, challenging, encouraging and inspiring look at the huge impact fathers have on their daughters. In a highly readable form, Meeker draws on sociological research along with personal reflections and case stories from her pediatric practice and her counseling with teenagers. Here is an excerpt from chapter one, entitled “You are the Most Important Man in Her Life”:

“Men, good men: We need you. We – mothers, daughters, and sisters – need your help to raise healthy young women. We need every ounce of masculine courage and wit you own, because fathers, more than anyone else, set the course for a daughter’s life. …When she’s in your company, your daughter tries harder to excel. When you teach her, she learns more rapidly. When you guide her, she gains confidence. If you fully understood just how profoundly you can influence your daughter’s life, you would be terrified, overwhelmed, or both. Boyfriends, brothers, even husbands can’t shape her character the way you do. You will influence her entire life because she gives you an authority she gives no other man… When she is twenty-five, she will mentally size her boyfriend or husband up against you. When she is thirty-five, the number of children she has will be affected by her life with you. The clothes she wears will reflect something about you. Even when she is seventy-five, how she faces her future will depend on some distant memory of time you spent together.”

Fathers, this will inspire you to be a devoted Dad to all your kids but especially to your daughters. So much of what we hear in society devalues the role of men and the importance of manhood. This book affirms men and embraces manhood. And make note: It’s never too late.