I was moving from the city to a small town to serve my first appointment as minister of a local church. Preoccupied with unloading furniture, the children were left to entertain themselves. Lisa was five years old and eager to explore her new surroundings. She walked up the street to a neighbor's house and within a few minutes came back full of excitement. "Daddy, Daddy!"

"What, sweetie," I replied.

"I already made lots of new friends!"

"That's great!" I said, wondering where she found so many children so quickly. "Where are they?"

"Right over there," pointing in the general direction of one child.

"I see only one friend. Where are the others?" I asked.

"No Daddy! Look closer! The rest of my friends are dogs!"

You just met my daughter, Lisa: The little girl who never missed an opportunity to make a friend whether it had two legs or four. Lisa was the child who took the term "Sleepover" to mean every night and whose motto was "have sleeping bag will travel." My darling little girl, Lisa, just graduated with an Associates Degree. How did she grow up so fast?

Like most parent-child relationships, there have been many precious moments and more than a few hair-raising worries raising Lisa. If there was one word which could best describe her, it would be "Adventure."

Like the time she went with a friend to a weeklong summer camp. Lisa assumed the camp was about trips to the pool and making crafts. She had no clue that her so-called camping experience was actually designed for "woods survival training." Lisa summed up her experience adequately when she said: "Daddy, there were no bathrooms! Yecchh!"

Within a few short months, Lisa will ride off to a new "adventure" and play "sleepover" every night of the week as she moves to a nearby university. As a parent, most of my day-to-day tasks of rearing children are finished. So, what did I try to teach my children as a loving parent?

  • "Teach your children to choose the right path and when they are older, they will remain upon it." (Proverbs 22:6) Lisa, I did my best to be a good example for you. Please remember the values I stood for and forgive my many mistakes.
  • I pray you never lose your sense of adventure.
  • "Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is useless." (Psalm 127:1) I pray you learn the value of working hard but please, never forget God's desire for you to keep your priorities in life focused on God and family.
  • "See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children and we really are!" (1 John 3:1) Lisa, even through the worst moments of our family crisis, I always felt the assurance of God's love for me and for you. Just as you will always be my precious little girl, you are also eternally a precious child of God.

Lisa, I pray you will continually be comforted knowing your dad is extremely proud and lovingly watching while you continue the journey toward becoming a responsible adult. But I also pray you never lose your sense of "adventure" and your eagerness to make new friends. In a few short months, I hope to receive a phone call with an excited voice saying, "Daddy, Daddy!"

"What sweetie," I'll reply. "How are you doing?"

You may say: "Daddy, I'm doing well and already made lots of new friends and you know what? Some of them are still dogs!"