My wife and I celebrated the 1st birthday of our beautiful daughter Torah over the weekend. With each of our three kids, we combined a 1st birthday celebration with a dedication. Each one has been incredibly special to us. The dedication is more to keep my wife and I accountable as we raise our children. We invite several of our friends to the dedication and make it clear to them that they have the right to hold us accountable. We cannot, nor do we even want to try, to raise our children without the support and accountability of our close friends and family. So, these things are a very big deal to us.
My wife and I each write vows to our kids for the dedication. Pastor Jon, our children's pastor, challenges us on what it means to be Godly parents and his challenges are always ... well ... very challenging! My wife and I then say our vows to our children. Below are the vows I wrote to my Torah and also some pics from the evening.
"Torah, I have no greater responsibility than being a husband and a dad. I look at that responsibility as a gift from God. It is so much fun being your dad. I had certain thoughts of what it would be like to be your dad a year ago at the time but you have far exceeded any of my dreams and expectations. You have the warmest and sweetest smile ever and when I hold you, I feel at peace ... like all is right with the world. I just love being your dad.
But, I also take the responsibility of that gift very seriously. I am the guardian of our home and I gladly welcome the responsibility that comes with that to love you, protect you, nurture you and teach you about a God who loves you even more than I do. Because of that I will:
1) Grow in my relationship with God. For me to have any chance to be a Godly dad to you, I need to first nurture and feed my soul with the truth of God's word. I promise to pursue God and do what it takes to know and serve Him deeply so I can give to you out of a heart that is being filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
2) Love your mom and cherish every day with her. Carol, you are my first priority in our family and our kids will never have any doubt about that. I will honor you, cherish you, say 'no' to things to be with you, and will always be faithful to you. Our marriage will provide a sense of security for our kids and I promise to love you how you most feel loved and to never, ever bail out of our relationship.
3) Do my best to be a picture of God to you without taking His place in your life. As much as I do not want to, there will be times I fail you. There will be times I let you down. But, through my actions and my words, I will teach you about a God who never fails and will always and in every situation be all that you need.
4) Date you often and always be a gentleman to you. No man loved you before I did and I will teach you the right way to be treated by any man fortunate enough to catch your eye and unfortunate enough to have to deal with me as your father.
5) Do my best to instill a sense of confidence and humility, security and yet dependence upon God, and I will teach you that true beauty flows from a confidence of knowing you are a daughter of the King of the Universe.
6). Finally, we named you Torah for 2 reasons. The word 'Torah" in Japanese means 'attack' but we decided to go with the Hebrew meaning instead. :) The 'Torah' is the Hebrew word for the first five books of the Old Testament. It's here where we read about God revealing Himself to mankind for the first time. Secondly, the word means 'doctrine' or 'teaching.' So, my prayer is that your life will reveal God to others and teach them how to live for Him.
I don't know what awaits us as we journey through life together, but I am so thankful to be your dad and with God's help, will live up to the calling I have received."
Pastor Jon challenging my wife and I.
One of my favorite pictures ... everyone praying over Torah, Carol, and I.
She LOVED her cake!
She tore in to her cake and threw most of it on the floor ... but had so much fun in the process.
Torah sleeps with a stuffed elephant so a friend from our church made an elephant cake and an adorable "smash" cake for her to enjoy.